Archive for ‘France: Rhone’

May 27, 2022

Domaine Grand Nicolet Les Esqueyrons Rasteau, 2016

Screw you Jeb Dunnuck.  Honestly, 94 points with a “thrillingly concentrated vibe on the palate.”  Can I tell you what the vibe is?  It’s fortified wine.  This bottle (lovely, yes, silky, smooth as fabric softener, heady and toxic) is 16.5% alcohol.  This is a silent derringer.  It’s a killer.  A silent effing killer.  And all that weight, all that alcohol, as delicate as it is on the palate it’s tonnage on the brain. It’s like being a spectator at F1 without earplugs.

So glass half full (as full as we recommend), this is about as full bodied as a Grenache Syrah can go without transitioning into vinegar.  It’s rich, billionaire Monopoly fat cat oozing rich.  Blackberries so ripe they stain your fingers as you pull them off the vine rich.  And not as complex as the bottle claimed.

Dunnuck says “don’t miss it” to which we might add, trust us, you won’t miss it, it will come crashing down like hail all around you.

We like us some Rhone but easy does it. Sweet and pretty and just too much sweet and pretty.

Price: At a discount at Marquis $42.

Market Liquidity: You could do shooters with this syrup.

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June 18, 2021

Domaine Brusset Gigondas Les Hauts de Montmirail, 2010

From the cellar: 2010?  Well, first of all, here’s a forgotten bottle.  It happens.  Purchased 2012!  Obama was President!  Survivor was in Samoa!

We fully expected this to be past; it was novelty only, zero expectations.  And with zero expectations we were pleasantly rewarded.  Gobs of fruit, mixed berry compote, almond, a zingy, fruity, chewy dark cherry.  On our first glass if was shockingly tart on the nose but creamy on the palate.  An hour later, a complete transition; nothing tart of any note, Ribena, raspberry, velvet.

Price: Not sure, it was in ink and the ink had run.

Market Liquidity: To borrow from the Dr. S, how did it get so late so soon?

March 25, 2021

Halos de Jupiter Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2014

We posted last year on the “mid-range” Jupiter and how much we loved it.  Although harder and harder to find.

BC Liquor recently took $12 off the Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016.  Of course it was virtually impossible to find and if you found it guess what? It was the 2014.  We’ve posted on this before (the dates on their product catalogue being wrong, the sale items that are for all intents and purposes non-existent, and other vintage chaos).

So of course with a gift certificate in hand we sourced a bottle.  That was a lot of work (signing on to find the sale items on the right date because BCL doesn’t list them on the first of the month, that would make sense, that would be customer friendly), sorting wine out from the beer and spirits, notations on what to buy, finding locations for what you want to buy, etc.)  But it was worth it.  Boy was it worth it.

A sharp clap of thunder on the nose, like cedar shavings, nuanced cherry on the palate crossed with black licorice, gorgeously warm on the finish: woodsy, spicy, notes of dark chocolate.  Any smoother and it would be glib.

Price: $60, reduced from $72, but paid with a gift certificate.

Market Liquidity: Like an investiture coronet.

February 11, 2021

Alain Jaume Clos de Sixte Lirac Rouge, 2016 (& Alain Jaume Vacqueyras “Grand Garrigue” 2018)

Good golly is the Lirac a wow.  A big fat bottle of satisfaction.

Before we get into it, oh why not get into it: the Lambert cherry that reminds me of the canned cherries from our yard my mum served on ice cream in the 1970s, gobs of juice and melt in the mouth, the oozing fruitcake, the smooth, luscious, extremely defined rush on the tongue, the floral hints that mesh with wood.  Now, after all that, just take a deep breath and ask yourself: Palatable BC red or brilliant old growth Rhone majesty?  Which will you choose for the dollar figure?

We try and Rah Rah Rah for the Okanagan.  We try and go all in on local support and muster round the setting sun of our provincial flag.  But France like this, this is steep competition.  This is better than anything at Black Hills where you will pay between $42 (basic Syrah) and $65 (the lovely Nota Bene) for a bottle, much better than the really appealing Culmina Cab Franc ($40, which we love to drink, just not to pay for) or their flagship Hypothesis ($47 and up, yikes), almost half the price of the enviable Laughing Stock Portfolio (mid $50s), less than the Sandhill Small Lots One ($40 thereabouts, and good luck in sourcing anyway), less than most any Reserve Pinot Noir BC produces, but e.g., the La Frenz ($40, usually sold out), and of course don’t get me started on grey label Haywire or Le Vieux Pin…

This is not to say BC doesn’t produce great reds.  This is to say you pay the price for great reds made in BC.

Rhone red: Hard to find (BC Liquor stocks a mere six Cotes-du-Rhone Villages a go to in restaurants across France).  Must be on an email list with the wine store to know about arriving allotments.  Must pre-order (ideally the day you get the email) or wait a year and, hopefully, there will be more; half case, or mixed half, gets a 10% discount.  If you bother to make the effort there is reward.  The Jaume ticks a lot of reward boxes.

Price: $33.50 with a discount.  Exceptional value.

Market Liquidity: Perseverance Furthers.

And of course we also picked up the 2018 Vacqueyras “Grand Garrigue” at $35, and while we sipped with abundant pleasure, it wasn’t quite as bowl you over as the less expensive Lirac but, check out the BC wine cost references above, the GG was a score, a slice of wine heaven, and a little bit like living in the UK where the choice and options for Rhone reds ooze like failed rough puff on a Comic Relief Bake Off.

January 15, 2021

Le Vieux Donjon, 2017, Painted Rock Red Icon, 2017

With Christmas gift certificates in hand we decided to drink like the other half (or at least the one-percenters) for, you know, as long as the gift certificates held out.

They held out for two bottles. 

Thank you Government of BC.

For starters we drank what Decanter called the Canadian red wine of the year and adorned it 95 points; Gismondi, 93, similarly lauded it, among the other usual suspects.  If you want to read about the hoopla surf over to the PR site here.

Here’s our review (or lack thereof): Is spending double on a bottle of wine a better experience, by half, than drinking two (decent) bottles at half the price?  If you are one of the seven people who regularly surf to this site (our stats show us firmly in the single digits, but loyally so, and I would like to thank the steady seven), then you know what I’m going to say next: No.  Wine reviewing is something of a racket.  To borrow from Fran Lebowitz, they show a Picasso in an auction house to silence, sell it for 160 million, the gavel comes down and they applaud, they applaud the price.  Does anyone care about the art?

For the unaware, it’s episode two of the Netflix series Pretend it’s a City.

The Painted Rock is widely available, in BC Liquor, private stores, the vineyard.  At the price point in the middle of a global pandemic what can you expect?

For even more coin you can choose from the organically farmed and never disappointing Rhone.  Here’s the funny thing about the Donjon: It’s the right year.  Gismondi wrote recently about his quirk towards the vintage, not just the wine.  This might be the most engaging aspect of drinking wine, long term, how much a single vineyard can vary year to year and the nuance and delectability of monitoring the change.  So I would say we are more or less on the same page as AG.  Here’s the catch, and I wonder how frustrating it is for AG: In BC, the government liquor stores are usually a year behind.  A top review comes out at the Advocate or Spectator and next you know that vintage sells out.  BC Liquor skips a year.  It may be the single most frustrating aspect of buying wine in BC.  Let’s say the 2017 gets a top review, 2016 can be found in stores, we don’t get 2017 and go straight to 2018.  But, as I say, the Donjon is the right year—or, to put it more simply, the 2017 is the bottle Jeb Dunnick gave 95 points to.

Both wines are good to glorious.  Both wines are hugely satisfying (in our minds, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape slightly ahead).  Both wines are outside our budget.

Price: The Painted Rock with tax comes in around $60 while the Donjon with tax just under $70 but since both were covered (mostly) as a gift, so it’s mostly a gratis posh nosh.

Market Liquidity: Silver Charm over Captain Bodgit, by a head. (Translation: Two thoroughbreds.)

November 5, 2020

Mas de Boislauzon, Côtes du Rhône Villages, 2016

15.6 percent alcohol.  I repeat, 15.6%.  That is, quite frankly, an assault.  I lay harassment charges.

Decanter called this “intensely concentrated” and impressive for a Villages.  So, yes, it is that and then some.  It is deeply, deeply concentrated.  It looks twice as dark as Ribena and has the weight of, I don’t know, somewhere between platinum and plutonium.  Organic, so there’s that.

Is it good?  Deliriously good.  Sip after sip after sip.  But so is a decent Macallan, if it’s a matter of sipping, of nursing.  Not particularly food friendly; a gulp or two and you’ll need a lie down.  Smokers beware: Light a match and it could combust.

While I’m being lighthearted I’m also half serious: There has to be a civilized ceiling to alcohol content.  There’s a standard for everything else in France…

Price: $33 at Marquis but for a half case lot with a discount an extremely reasonable $29.

Market Liquidity: “…happy in the haze of a drunken hour, but heaven knows I’m miserable now…”

September 18, 2020

Domaine de Ferrand Cotes-de-Rhone “Cuvee Antique”, 2018

The other night we were supporting our local bistro, Les Faux, when I noticed on the chalkboard they were featuring the Ferrand Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  At $130 a bottle.  We opted for a more basic Cotes-du-Rhone.  And, when the Ferrand release came into Marquis earlier this year, we did the same.

The “antique” is about as base model as you can get from Ferrand, but even a Toyota Corolla goes forwards and backwards and stops when you brake.  It ain’t no Lexus but it absolutely has enormous utility.  If there is a fault, it’s much too easy to drink in 2020.  Gentler woodsy/dusty notes than some Rhone blends, restrained fruit, a hot lick of pepper, and a lovely cherry on the finish.  Concrete not filtered but, you know, refined.  Very Grenache Forward.

Jeb Dunnuck said it has loads of charm.  Yes.  Loads of charm.  And at $15 less than equivalent blends in BC’s Okanagan (from vines half a century younger) it has thrift to boot.  Go Cotes-du-Rhone.

Price: $34 before a modest discount for a half case at Marquis.

Market Liquidity: Like a scene stealing cameo in a film littered with stars.

July 22, 2020

Saint-Damien Plan de Dieu Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, 2018

Saint-Damien Plan de Dieu Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, 2018

It might be a CDR villages, but it’s old vines CDR villages, and it shows.  Big time.

 

A spectacular “common” red.  To find a wine in BC around $30 that has this much finesse without dripping in oak or insipidly acidic, is a treat.  Amen to Côtes-du-Rhône.  Grenache and Mourvèdre get married, the former is dominant, but a lovely partnership all round.  Right up there at the Wine Advocate and rightly so.

 

We couldn’t really discern the plum, but the black cherry and big swath of strawberry flood the palate leading to a restrained finish.  True, it’s not Gigondas.  But you know what else?  We’re not royalty, and this drinks better than half the BC Okanagan which sells at double the price.

 

Usually, with a wine like this, Gismondi writes “back up the truck.”  I would echo that sentiment.  That said, on the flip side it is an oppressive 14.5%, something that tends to curry favour over at the WA.  And, despite the recommendation to cellar, we weren’t sure how much further it would go: It drinks today smooth, velvety and delectable.

 

Price: $30 before tax at Marquis, although there was a discount on pre-orders (thank you Marquis).

 

Market Liquidity: U-Haul rents a van for the price of less than two bottles.  Do the math.

May 2, 2020

Cote du Rhone Halos de Jupiter, Vacqueyras

Cote du Rhone Halos de Jupiter, Vacqueyras

This is a Grenache Syrah blend that is a slam dunk.  Just wow and wow and wonderful.

 

BC Liquor sells the entry level Cotes du Rhone; it’s fine in its own way, I recommend it on a wine list because for $40 something you can have a decent bottle of red with dinner out (if we’re ever allowed to eat out again).  BC Liquor also sells an over $70 Chateauneuf du Pape.  In Ontario you can score a most wonderful Gigondas for $40.  All hail Jupiter.  But some of the private wine stores in YVR have the just right porridge, an exquisite red that boasts plums, and jammy dark fruits, light tannins and gobs of deliciousness.  Ludicrously drinkable.

 

Price: Around $35 at Kitsilano Wine, but if you but a mixed case of six and you take the 10% discount, we’re talking better than any BC red in that price zone, period.

 

Market Liquidity:  I could self isolate on a case of this.

March 27, 2020

Domaine Ollier Taillefer Faugeres, 2015 and Chapoutier Les Meysonniers, Crozes Hermitage, 2016

Chapoutier Les Meysonniers, Crozes Hermitage, 2016Domaine Ollier Taillefer Faugeres, 2015

We’ve been drinking a lot of “hot review” wines lately and coming up short.  Two today for example.

 

Both these wines are 90 pointsters and neither lived up to our anticipated hype.  The Faugeres had no breadth, it’s decent, palatable, mildly interesting; herby, wet earth, dry. The tannins simply clashed outright with a simple chicken dinner. The Crozes Hermitage must have legs; it has hints of greatness but you never know.  Gismondi said it had a twist of garrigue (that’s acceptable to write in the Saturday paper; the NYT is equally cryptic on Saturday, we expect having to use Google to decipher), and suggested three to five years.  Yes; three minimum.  We went looking for it because he quoted the price at $27, but it was in fact $30 before tax.  We saw the merit in two or three of the Chapoutier in the cellar; the Ollier seemed better off in the late afternoon sun in the Languedoc.

 

Price: $33 and $30 at BC Liquor and, occasionally, at Marquis.  The Chapoutier is regularly available at Kits Wine Cellar; feel the braille label.

 

Market Liquidity: Win some, lose some.