Archive for ‘British Columbia’

October 16, 2019

Burrowing Owl Merlot, 2017

Burrowing Owl Merlot 2017

As we slowly get through the annual case from BOwl, the gentleness of the lot, so far, seems almost middle-aged in their motivation; the wines have a quietness and reserve that drink positively assured and without pretense but also, how can I put it, somewhat low energy.

 

We were goo goo ga ga over the 2010, see here (and, honestly, I don’t think we ever went back for more over the last X years…).  The 2017 Merlot is like the Palmolive ad with Madge the manicurist, calming her clients on the mildness of the liquid; “relax,” BOwl seems to say, “it’s Merlot.”  True, this is not a jump up and down red.  A very, very mild-mannered red.  The most exciting moment is the burst of tayberry with gobs of vanilla followed by a hint of mint.  A tad grassy on the finish.  It did not have the legs for braised short ribs (which were braised in red wine and porcini mushrooms and were not, say, chipotle strong or overly complex), but was a sensational sipper.

 

Price: A modest $32 at the vineyard.  Much more in local shops.

 

Market Liquidity: Dick Cavett-y (extremely competent, ridiculously low-key).

madge the manicurist

October 2, 2019

Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris, 2018

Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris 2018

We drank a lot in September, wines that have littered this blog for a decade, locals like Blue Mountain, a number of Pinots (the reds, the whites), lovely hearty Oz heavyweights and French Beaujolais.  The lot.  But nothing we haven’t reviewed prior.  So now it’s try something new.

Not.

This is the time of year to get a case from Burrowing Owl, one of the few “moments” where you can score both their Chardonnay and various reds in a single order.  In the mix we opted for some Pinot Gris, although usually I prefer the Blue Mountain (“regular” and “reserve”). While the Athene towers above the rest, the Merlot is probably our favorite.  But today it’s worth lauding the latest Pinot Gris.

 

BOwl, as we call them, have come up with one of their liveliest PGs in a while.  Super piquant with lots of crisp citrus acidity and some mellow peachy cordial on the finish.  Ridiculously easy to drink and food friendly with something on the tame slash vegan end of things.  Value and then some.

 

Price: $21 form the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Light, lively, a score.

And just to prove the repetitive point, here are the BOwl links from so many posts gone by: Here, here, here, here, here, here, and yes here.

August 23, 2019

Mission Hill Reserve Meritage, 2017

Mission Hill Reserve Meritage, 2017

We simply couldn’t abide this heavy, too sweet and cloying red blend which scored 89 from Anthony Gismondi (something of an MH acolyte) and 91 by Christopher Waters.  It is certainly drinkable, ok, yes, it’s smooth like marshmallow, but it is decidedly not pleasant, not in a heavy, funky southern Rhone way or a light, perfumed, Burgundy way.  There is fruit, lottsa fruit, and a silky-on-the-palate texture with an OK finish but we found it lacked the complexity, woody notes and interest the reviews found laudable.

 

Price: $27 at Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: To each their own.

August 8, 2019

Time Meritage (white), 2014

Time Meritage (white), 2014

Gismondi recommended the 2017.  I’d never knowingly drunk a white Meritage so we took the plunge (although anyone drunk on Graves, as I was between bottles of Corvo and Frascati in the 1980s, or living in Australia, as I did for a bit in the 80s as well, has drunk this blend which should, under no circumstances, be called Meritage.  But there you go…).  We made no effort; I found with ease the 2014 so that was the base comparison.  And, yes, surprising.  Full body, creamy, lots of luscious butterscotchy, tangerine and  lemon blossom notes with just the absolute perfect note of oak.  Did we like it?  I think we were so surprised that we didn’t not like it we ended up liking it more than it deserves.  And it deserves another tasting, another vintage.

 

We love us some good Sem Sauv Bl (preferably Australian) and have waxed poetic many times on the No 41 Ecole here or here e.g.,  and nearly wet our pants with the Buty.  So if you think of Washington as gangbusters this is good but it’s Carlos Sainz in BC to the Lewis Hamilton down south.  Gismondi says the best wine they bottle at Time.  I can say one thing for certain: Unless gifted, probably the only wine we’ll ever drink from Time.

 

Price: $25 at Save On (but less if you get a mixed batch of six).

 

Market Liquidity: Formula 3.

August 7, 2019

Intrigue Social, 2018

Intrigue Social 2018

A mostly Pinot Gris with a Jamie Oliver sized dab of Gewürztraminer, this is astonishingly good value.  In BC, the sparklers generally go, in this order, bats piss to Prosecco to Australian and European bubbles to OVERPRICED BC faux-champers then onto the real McCoy.  And here, in a lovely pocket to compete with Cava, is a drinkable and exceptionally food friendly bubbly.

 

There are flaws, I mean let’s be clear.  The bubbles are madcap; they are Seth Rogen laughing at a Between Two Ferns episode with Whoopi Goldberg storming off The View: they fly in all directions, too many, too fast, and explode on the palate like Pop Rocks.  The finish is not long enough and attractive with no staying power.  But then let’s take a breath and review: Two bottles of this or one of Stellar’s Jay?  I mean let’s be social, go two.  A sort of minor revelation and a great way to liven up some tapas.

 

Price: $20 at the vineyard, hard to find in general.

 

Market Liquidity: Day drinking anyone?

August 7, 2019

Nichol Syrah, 2016

Nichol Syrah 2016

It’s been seven years since we’ve posted on the Nichol Syrah (!) which, seven years ago (2009 vintage), was something of a lovely treat.  The Nichol old vines are now, I guess, really old.  We were anticipating the current offering to have some wow, some heavy authenticity, but were quickly disabused of that notion.  In 2012 we wrote “a most fine red” but for the current vintage on the shelves it’s an OK Syrah, a “most usual red” if you will, spicy, fruity, a tad too light without being lively, heavy on the cherry juice, and not overtly food friendly.  The acid tends toward aggressive and not in a pleasant fashion, not even for those who gravitate (as is the trend) toward top heavy acidity.  Still, not much more on the pocketbook than so many years back, so that’s a plus.

 

Price: $33 at private wine stores.

 

Market Liquidity: Hope springs eternal. Just not always in the Okanagan.

May 27, 2019

One Faith Vineyard Malbec Petit Verdot, 2016

One Faith Vineyard Malbec Petit Verdot, 2016

Yikes.  An epic fail from Bartier Brothers.  Wow.  We tried.  Sipping.  Smelling.  Aerating.  This is just aggressive, potent, a clash of no merit.  Words fail me.  Weird to boot with a grassy finish.  I was an inch away from installing Grammarly to avoid the vile language littered in my tasting notes.  Shame.  Same day we had a glass of their rather brilliant Semillon, an 11.6% wonder that is food friendly, light, lovely and delectable and nearly half the price.

 

Price: $33 from Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: Throwaway B-side.  At best. And I’m not thinking Ruby Tuesday with Let’s Spend the Night Together B-side.  I’m talking Cold Turkey Don’t Worry Kyoko B-side.

May 27, 2019

Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir, 2016

Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir, 2016

Uh-oh.

Another BC disaster.  Enough acid to bring on GERD.  No subtlety, no lightness of touch, no deft currant slash raspberry slash oak.  Heavy and dull.  Just baffling that wine this uninteresting and inconsequential is sitting on the shelf at $30.

 

Price: $30 from Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: Brash and ineloquent.

May 27, 2019

Haywire Secrest Vineyard Gamay, 2017

Haywire Secrest Vineyard Gamay, 2017

You know what?  Surprisingly good in that it was surprising and at the same time good.  Juicy, fruity, delicious although it tends sweet and with air became cloying.  The chocolate notes are not easy to place, even if you linger and sip over the course of an evening.  The complexity, well, let’s not get carried away.  This is a solid Gamay from the BC Okanagan; it’s no Cru Beaujolais.  But it has the echoes of more expensive Pinot, rougher around the edges but no less attractive, and the average joe is much less likely to grab a Gamay than Pinot Noir, which makes this easier to find and easier on the pocket book.

 

Price: $29 at Kitsilano Wine Cellar (buy six for a 10% discount).

 

Market Liquidity: Nothing to sniff at.

February 25, 2019

La Frenz Chardonnay Reserve, 2016

Is the LF reserve markedly better than the non-reserve?  I guess so.  It looks better in the glass with its deep golden hue.  It has more of the assertive oak and piquancy that is the hallmark of the house.  Do we like it?  We love it.  Year after year.  But we’re never sure how much more we love it than their run of the mill Ch.  I mean for $20 La Frenz turns out a palatable and “drinker friendly” Chardonnay that perks up any seafood dinner.

 

Hard to find, worth finding, worth having in multiples. Too bad about the cork, it seems a little pompous, but a perpetual favorite in our cellar.

 

Price: $25 from the vineyard and worth each cent.

 

Market Liquidity: It always seems a little special, even if predictable.