Archive for ‘Chile’

May 28, 2019

Ritual Casablanca Chardonnay, 2016

Biodynamic brilliance. What do the French think when they drink a wine this well crafted? Ooh-la-la, how can we compete? This delectable, restrained Chardonnay is fruit forward, imperceptible oak, layered, complex, with a wet linen astringency on the finish. Subtle but profound. Lovely.

Price: We sourced it at Everything Wine but it’s since gone out of stock. $34?

Market Liquidity: Evocative of something much more prestigious.

August 29, 2017

Errazuriz Aconcagua Alto Carmenere, 2014

Sweet.  In all its meaning: As in good wine, as in good price, as in a tad too much residual sugar.  Now of course this is a dry wine with low residual sugar and it’s purely perception and barreling that throws the harmony of it all, but it does sit on the tongue with a somewhat cloying black currant finish.  But it is astonishingly good value and enormously approachable; a little less of the spice and pepper you might expect in Carmenere and a little more of the violet and rosewater you might get in Merlot, but at the price it’s worth a case.

 

The back history of Carmenere is interesting, if you have the inclination to Google it, because post-Phylloxera there’s virtually none left planted in Bordeaux.  And Aconcagua is (if you’re ever in Chile) a beautiful if remote valley (north of Santiago) that produces some interesting high altitude wines and worth the minor trek.

 

Price: $20, give or take, at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: This is what Decanter calls a weekday wine but which we call a stupendous value.

June 25, 2017

Undurraga TH “Terroir Hunter” Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013

Bold.  Brazen.  Beautiful.  You could cut this with a knife.  It’s heavy and full and deeply nuanced and HEAVENLY; please excuse the excitement.  It’s a heavyweight in the most primal, decadent and meaty sense.

 

Sometimes you just need something assertive and monumentally Cab Sauv and this is so perfectly present and incredibly tasty, who cares if it has legs and we opened it too soon?  It was sheer pleasure for a moment.

 

Price: Gifted.  But I sourced the TH Shiraz in the 30s.

 

Market Liquidity: Like the Rod Stewart track, it did not last, it did not last till the weekend.

April 27, 2017

Clos des Fous Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013

An evocative wine with legs which, while drinking beautifully now, would benefit from some time and quiet.  Has a softness that is lighter and more ethereal than the Oz and California Cab Sauvs, some chocolate covered cherry on the palate, a talcum soft mouth, and finishes with vanilla alongside an astringent swab of alcohol.  Up and down and over and about without a clear trajectory.

 

Interesting, provocative, nuanced.

 

Price: $33 at Liberty. ($10 cheaper in Saskatchewan.  Which is, I might add, also in Canada.)

 

Market Liquidity: Sudoku in a bottle.

Spectacular with a homemade meat pie braised in Guinness

April 25, 2017

Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015 & Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay, 2014

These are easy to drink.  They are easy to find.  They are not too expensive.  And when Gismondi gave the MCC Chardonnay a 91 point rating with the note that it’s probably the best value $20 bottle of wine going, BC Liquor was quick to ribbon the necks with the pointster adornment.

 

Glass half full: They are drinkable.  (Although the medallions on the Cab Sauv, which end in 2012, seem to speak of a laxity at the vineyard.)  They aren’t expensive.  They are approachable, food friendly, and great social bottles.

 

Glass half empty: They are totally without endurance.  You will have forgotten them as you finish your glass, not the bottle.  Great in a restaurant, given the markups, but you can do far better at home.  They are like a wild card in a grand slam; all promise.

 

Price: Around $20 for either, give or take the whims of the “sale makers” at BCL.

 

Market Liquidity: Glass half full.

August 19, 2016

Emiliana Coyam, 2012

Emiliana Coyam, 2012

The label, with all the plaudits, looks like the poster for a 1970s disaster movie: The Towering Inferno or Earthquake, bursting to the seams with A list stars brushing up against B list character actors.  Points, points, points, points.  I’m afraid, despite the hype, this was mildly impressive.  And only.

 

Gismondi recommended this Syrah dominated blend for the cellar.  Probably good advice.  However,as the third red in a row for us over a recent weekend, it took bronze by default: The lovely Walla Walla blend, the assertive BC Cab Franc, then this, a much lauded Chilean blend.  Hmm.  A wine with no identity, lost in a range of flavour profiles and completely without nuance.  This organic red is so well-loved online, professionals and pundits alike, my only concern is that the bottle we got had been in a non-temperature-controlled environment somewhere, some place, for too long: which is the problem with BC Liquor, it’s a handshake deal that wine didn’t sit idly in a container on a dock or linger in an overheated delivery van or, and this is exceptionally common, take direct south sun through a window, baking day after day, on a shelf somewhere gathering dust.  It wasn’t corked but gosh was it flat.

 

There’s a great line the fire chief has in The Towering Inferno: “Now, you know there’s no sure way for us to fight a fire… in anything over the seventh floor, but you guys just keep buildin’ em as high as you can.”  These vineyards that keep blendin’ to beat the band.  There is no end in sight to the aspirations and, apparently, the plaudits.  The only thing is this: Disaster movies are worth remembering only in the retelling. if at all.  Not even the awful sequel to Poseidon Adventure could make an amusing anecdote.

 

Price: $28 plus taxes at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: “Maybe they just ought to leave it the way it is. A kind of shrine to all the bullshit in the world.” Paul Newman “the architect” at the end of Towering Inferno.

towering inferno

April 3, 2016

Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012

Very good.  There is really nothing to nitpick about; smooth and supple, cedar and sharp maraschino on the palate, a light note of licorice, quite delectable.  Heartily food friendly.  The 14.5 per cent alcohol dissipates with a lightness you wouldn’t anticipate in Cab Sauv (but will haunt your head the next morning).  Honestly, quite good. Is it interesting, provocative or distinguished?  Not so much.  Like that gorgeous actress in that exquisite dress with Harry Winston jewels on loan, captivating on the red carpet, but forgettable in that movie.  What was that movie she was in?

Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012

Price: $34.99 at BCL (before the onerous taxes).  Pass.

 

Market Liquidity:  Like one night in a luxurious hotel room.

January 29, 2016

Tabali Reserva Especial, 2009

Tabali Reserva Especial, 2009

Revoltingly satisfying. Luscious. Profoundly food friendly. Deeply addictive. A most elegant blend of self-centred Syrah, paternalistic Cab Sauv and a cheeky, loose and seductive Merlot to round out the bunch. I kept thinking of On The Town; three compadres out for a night.

 

Not available in BC (surprise.  Sigh…). But you can score the much less satisfying, and much less interesting, Tabali Pinot at BCL.

 

Price: An astonishing (heartbreaking?) $16.40 USD in 2015

 

Market Liquidity: The Bronx is up. The Battery is down. The Tabali sits centre.

January 19, 2016

Maycas del Limari Sumaq Reserva Chardonnay, 2013 & Urban Uco Malbec Tempranillo, 2013

Urban Uco Malbec Tempranillo, 2013Value week on Buyingbcwines: To round off our value wine theme this week we finish with an enormously satisfying Chilean Chardonnay and a critics pick. The Argentinian blend, Malbec-Tempranillo, is an over-90 pointer from Parker, and drinks pretty much the way you’d expect: Fruit heavy, a little leaden, rich and hearty. Personally, I didn’t like it, neither its predictability nor character, it’s 14.5%, a little too heavy on the cigar and without any elegance whatsoever. Too flat on the finish. But that is irrelevant. Most people will like it, like it a lot, as a house wine it could sell like hotcakes, the price is exacetment as the French say. Exactamente I should say. In fact, I’ll set the bar for 2016: Best value red in BC at the price. (Let’s see what happens over the next 11 months.) Comparatively, the local and foreign dross at this price point is suicidally depressing. Ignore my misgivings; dare to compare with your other Tuesday night selections.

 

Price: A budget conscious $14.99 at BC Liquor (with tax $17.25).

 

Market Liquidity: Like getting an upgrade at the rental desk from economy to midsize.

Maycas del Limari Sumaq Reserva Chardonnay, 2013

The Maycas del Limari, on the other hand, won’t win awards nor critical favour beyond “good value” and “fresh”, but what a hugely appealing wine that speaks volumes to breaking the Chardonnay norm. Honestly, it was exciting to cork this bargain bottle. Bright to the point of glaring, this is sunshine encapsulated in a bottle, and really reminded us of the Boutari (in terms of its liveliness). There are more tropical tangents than you can imagine, guava, pineapple, passionfruit, than typical stony notes, but a current of oak runs underneath the forward, very forward, fruit. Drinks like a 12 per cent lunch wine. Is not cloying and does not seek to wow.  It’s all enjoyment.  Great to sip, perfect with frittata. And easy to share at the cost.

 

Price: $21 with tax ($18 before) at Everything Wine or Legacy.

 

Market Liquidity: Carnival in Rio in a bottle.

July 29, 2015

Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc

Something happened to Sauvignon Blanc. Something not good. Something like what happened to food when every chef and his dog was deconstructing classics and reimagining what needed nothing more than good ingredients and a deft hand. Was it in the 1980s? Or the 1990s? Or just a few years ago? Something happened between, at one end, Sancerre, and at the other end, the New Zealand vanguard, where growers around the world fell into a craft SB vortex, dizzily “greening” and upping the ante on what used to be subtlety. Half the SB at BC Liquor is like chewing hay. SB used to be one of my favorite varietals. Now it’s almost always a show-off, preening to compete.

 

Fresh herbs and fava beans on quinoa pasta.  Sorry Errazuriz, dinner was excellent, the wine so-so.

Fresh herbs, applewood bacon and fava beans on quinoa pasta. Sorry Errazuriz, dinner was excellent, the wine so-so.

Consider this decent bottle from Chile. Here’s what the LCBO has as its review: “…aromas of gooseberry and herbal-lime grass; dry, medium-bodied with bright acidity; flavours of lime, honey-citrus and grapefruit rind lead to a refreshing, crisp long finish.”

 

Yeah, OK. Here’s what you’ll actually find under the screw top: Something so austere it could be a Gregorian chant by Hildegard von Bingen. Dry as the Mojave. Refreshing? Maybe like running through a sprinkler, incidentally refreshing. Aromas is too generous as a descriptor. Reviewers commonly talk about the attack; this is like alum, like full on citrus pith. “Bright” acidity? Ever heard of Citricidal? It’s like that. The honey note is something of a prank.

 

It’s not a bad wine, I guess. But ohmygod is it making an effort. As we sipped it I couldn’t help but see little girls dressed up to look four times their age at one of those deer-in-the-headlights beauty pageants.

beauty pageant

Price: Under $20 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Pretty, but not pretty good.