Archive for ‘British Columbia’

November 5, 2018

Blue Mountain Pinot Noir, 2016

We drink at least a case of Blue Mountain every year.  It’s very good value, if not valuable, and generally a crowd pleaser, gentle reds and lively whites.  The 2013 Pinot, well that sort of put us off their PN, and we reduced our intake the last few years, but the 2016, the entry level base market 2016, is just plain tasty; comfortably round, soft, berry flavour accented by a hint of sharp pepper and some cedar vanilla.  Too bad BM can’t seem to shake the cork for screw tops.  But kudos for free delivery to Vancouver.

 

Is it a $30 wine?  Well it sells out almost overnight, whether that’s fans or scalpers is anyone’s guess.  I’d never shell out $60 in a restaurant, but at home it’s a welcome addition to any basic cellar.

 

Price: $30 from the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: If not for the cork, a corker.

November 2, 2018

Sea Star Encore, 2015

All over the blog we rave about Sea Star.  Growing the right grapes for the climate, small batches, unfiltered wines, biodiversity, you name it.  Bring on the Salish Sea.

 

The red here is a primarily Okanagan blend with some local grapes thrown in for good measure.  The first glass I had of Encore was a few years back and I wasn’t wowed.  Top heavy, it was a Cab Sauv and Cab Franc and Merlot clash; we ignored their reds and concentrated on their gorgeous library of whites.  I think the Encore (which they call a Meritage) has gone from 15 to 16 to 18 months in oak.  But this vintage they seem to have it closer to right than ever.  Online they call it a Merlot Cab Franc blend with (I think) just the right amount of Merlot velvet contrasted with just the right amount of Cab Franc funk.  On the bottle they note some Marechal Foch, from Pender Island, thrown into the mix.

Curious, and a great sipper, it slipped with a hearty meal of (mostly) cheeses, whereas a basic Wente Cab Sauv was a home run.  I could get to drinking this regularly, but not at the price point.

 

Price: Around $32 at private wine shops, $29 at the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: A blend moving in the right direction, but not at its destination.

October 18, 2018

La Frenz Malbec, 2016

We are blowing through a mixed case of La Frenz with mixed results, mixed feelings, some white has even hit the stock pot, but this one hit a chord.  E Major!  From the first sip you feel transported to a sun drenched patio on the Chilean coast, it has the dark, acid, chocolate you associate with the varietal and a much cooler climate than you’d expect in Naramata, but it strikes a balance we found appealing from first to last sip.  Sort of momentous in how basic it is on the one hand and how satisfying on the other.  This Malbec needs some time in the cellar where it would blossom in a year or two; if you can hang on to it that long…

 

Price: A stunningly reasonable $24.25 from the vineyard but substantially more in YVR at private shops.

 

Market Liquidity: Value.  Value, value, value.  And satisfaction.

October 18, 2018

La Frenz Merlot, 2016

If you’re not a fan of Merlot this won’t win you over.  It has all the archetypal high notes of a Merlot, readily identifiable: soft, easy to drink, low on tannins.  But the fruit is forward, even a little pushy; plummy.  It seems rather simple.  In the alternative, if you like Merlot, then you will be happy with the cherry cola and the sweetness and the generosity on the palate, but you might find it lacking, comparatively.

 

You would think the 20 months in new oak would be a slam dunk but it was a hit and miss for us.  No regrets, no memories.  We’ve had our ups and downs with the LF Merlot over the years but somehow, like Charlie Brown and Lucy, we keep coming back for another go.  Hmmm…

 

Price: $24.25 from the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Not La Frenz’s finest moment.

September 26, 2018

Nk’Mip Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay, 2016

We had the QQ open along with the Black Hills Nota Bene Chardonnay, which retails at about four dollars more.  As a sipper the BH is gorgeous, butter on the tongue and a more luxe finish.  But the QQ was better with dinner.  Hands down.  (Vegetarian main, cheeses, soup.)  And on that score along, the gorgeous food friendly flexibility of the QQ, we nixed the BH post.

 

Strong, California Chardonnay notes, assertive vanilla, an almost synthetic almond and crisp Bosc pear.  Lush but not louche, there is a tightness to this bottle that doesn’t lead to the full Black Hills expression, a sort of modesty, but from the first sip to the last hugely enjoyable.  And not a bad price point to boot.  A worthy award winner.

 

Price: $26 at Save-On Foods

 

Market Liquidity: Finally a contender in our price bracket.

September 25, 2018

Blue Mountain Chardonnay, 2016

Not the “reserve” just the regular, the off the shelf; nothing bespoke.

 

The last time we posted on the non-reserve was a few years back.  More verbose, just as satisfied.  And you can also find posts on the 2012 and 2011.

 

The BM Chard is like an old friend.  Year after year I get it by the half case, at least (because sensibly and thoughtfully BM waives shipping to YVR at least once each fall).  It doesn’t change that much vintage to vintage, it’s always fresh with a bit of bite, the oak is present but not omnipresent, the flavours linger with a light sweetness on the palate, and the complexity, while not profound, is a slam dunk on the dollar value.  I’m not sure it’s as crisp and Chablis-esque as some reviewers might claim, but good gosh is it easy to drink.  Yummy.

 

 

Price: $20.90 from the vineyard.  Value, value, value.

 

Market Liquidity: Did I mention the value?

September 25, 2018

La Vita Pazza White Blend, 2016

In my notes I wrote accidentally “white bland.”  Cute, but incorrect.

 

Think of a lively, decent house white in a local bistro, something palatable, something not bland like generic Pinot Gris or choking pine resin Sauv Blanc.  Something with a lilt, a dash of sweetness, and accommodation for everything from fatty appies to curries and spicy stew.

 

There is nothing that memorable to the Pazza white.  It’s just a base model blend.  It is in fact the La Frenz base model blend, a more or less balanced Muscat and Riesling, very fruit punch and rich without being cloying.  But really, how enjoyable, easy to drink, and food friendly.  The pointsters may pass it by, but you could do much worse at the price point at half the fun.

 

Price:  Wait for it (are you waiting for it?): $15.56 at the vineyard.  Wowza.  This could sell for $29 at a restaurant and still turn the standard mark-up on profit.  And how cheap and cheerful would that be in our over-taxed Western Hemisphere haven?

 

Market Liquidity: Eat, drink, be merry.

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September 24, 2018

Stag’s Hollow Tempranillo, 2014

Here’s something novel: Okanagan Tempranillo at a decent price point.  (And here’s something oxymoronic, in a way, Tempranillo from BC’s Okanagan…)  You can ante up in excess of $50 for the Black Hills T, but Stag’s Hollow offers an entry level which is, well, very much Tempranillo.

 

On the plus side it’s boisterous, acidic, evocative of the varietal, if a bit aggressive.  On the down side BC is awash in spectacular Spanish reds in the $25-$40 price range and on that score, just a BC to Spain comparison, this is a one off buy, a curiosity, and leaves us sated if not hugely satisfied.  At this price point I’d probably choose the Stag’s Hollow Cab Franc but if you are willing to ante up the dough almost any red in the Renaissance series will please every time.

 

Price: $28 at Save-On Foods

 

Market Liquidity: Been there, done that.

September 20, 2018

La Frenz Syrah, Rockyfeller Vineyard, 2016

We found the same pronounced acid as the Cl 21B Riesling, but palatable and welcome.

 

First sip is grape Kool Aid drink crystals.  It really is that strong.  Then a not too wholesome hit of uber alcoholic cherry and plum with the requisite oak.  Despite the 14.9% we loved the jammy fullness and mouth feel.  Up the nose like Vapo-rub.

 

Young. Young, young.  Cellar indefinitely, although La F recommends five to seven, it seems to have potential for 10.

 

Price: An extremely reasonable $26 at the vineyard given the cellaring potential.

 

Market Liquidity: In your face.  But give it time.

September 20, 2018

La Frenz Naramata Bench Riesling Clone 21B, 2017

We tried.  Nope.

 

Acid.  Just too much acid.  At least there’s therapeutic benefit to apple cider vinegar.  This wasn’t food friendly with hard cheese, braised pork or just as a late summer sipper.

 

The vineyard blurb boasts lavender, thyme, peach.  We got nothing.  Citrus and minerality. And enough acid to burn a hole on your palate.

 

I’m certain that in August, under a grape vine draped gazebo overlooking one of the many Okanagan lakes, this crisp (and forgettable) white would please.  But I don’t think it has much utility outside of context and was a bitter disappointment.

 

Price: An extremely reasonable $19 at the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Riesling rises to higher heights all down the valley…