Archive for ‘From the Cellar’

October 31, 2018

Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay, 2010

From the cellar: On one of those gorgeous early autumn days that still has the flavour of summer we pulled out of the cellar either our last or next to last HR Chardonnay from a half case purchase umpteen years ago.  Nirvana.

 

This wine seems to pass the critics by.  It never has a note in the liquor store on points or a sticker on the neck about reviews and, if you can find it, it will no doubt be dusty.  Why no love in BC?  At the price point it’s oodles better than BC whites that command a higher price and momentously better after some time in the cellar.  Here we are eight years down the road and it’s stellar, still to peak.

 

Look at that golden hue.  Nectar from the gods.  It’s delectable, old school, hearty, earthy, refined, and with a crisp, acidic flourish on the palate that makes it very hard to sip as opposed to swill.  We called this “old school goodness” three years ago and have nothing to add except what a wine to lie down.  Wow.

 

Price: In the high 40s for a current bottle at private wine stores (but if you can score 10% off on a half case you’re laughing).

 

Market Liquidity: Why those of us who cellar cellar.

August 24, 2018

Il Grigio da San Felice, Chianti Classico, Riserva 2009

From the cellar: The Wine Advocate came out with a 93+ points rating for the 2009 Il Grigio (in 2013).  We bought six bottles.  I have rarely been more in accord with (what I call) The Robert Parkers.  The only regret is that six was far too few.

 

We drank our next to last bottle this week and nearly wept.  It was like velvet, slathered with cream, topped with faux fur resting on a water bed; it was like Ellington and Coltrane In a Sentimental Mood; it was like Frank singing Nice ‘N’ Easy crossed by Ella singing It Never Entered My Mind; it was like a zero gravity chair on a Quaalude.  It really was.

 

Last time we got around to reviewing this Chianti, proper content review, the layers of floral flavour, the muted tannins braced against a woodsy tang, the gorgeous lip smacking fruit bomb of it all, we were in similar awe.  This just keeps getting Wow and more Wow.  But the strange thing is of all the Il Grigio we’d drunk since the 09, nothing has measured up.  It’s like a good standby, an old reliable, but the 09, as I say it’s pure Wow: This is what it’s all about when it comes to lying down wine.  Buried treasure.  Sangiovese rocks.

 

Price: $18.60 USD in 2013; around $30 CDN for the current vintage.  Stellar value.

 

Market Liquidity: Manna from heaven.

March 21, 2018

L’Ecole No 41 Semillon, 2012

From the cellar: We found the very last bottle.  We hung on as long as we could.  But then the temptation became too great. Glug.

 

Our first post about a L’Ecole Semillion was here, and after that we bought it in multiples, stashing them away; but as we got through several lying down we posted on this vintage two years ago here.  Not much has changed; this wine just got better.  So much better.

 

Where to begin?  All over the map with wild tangents of bass an treble: White pepper, woodsy, minerally, piquant, a balanced acidity, vanilla, plum, fresh bread, a scrumptious finish longer than the Oscars.

 

What was really exquisite about the “lay down” was how muted everything became but the wine lost none of its expression.  Very hard to articulate.

 

Price: No recollection.  Used to be able to get it for $16 in Blaine, WA.

 

Market Liquidity: A simple treasure.

January 20, 2018

Clos de los Siete, Mendoza, 2012

From the cellar: Easy to find, easy to drink.  Not sure why we’ve never posted on the Siete, a lovely red blend highly recommended.  For whatever reason, we laid some down a few years ago.  I can’t unequivocally say that two years made an enormous difference, but there’s no denying the silkiness and allure of a slightly aged Siete.  And when you compare this to BC reds twice the price there’s no denying sheer brilliance at the price.

 

Although the Malbec dominates, the Merlot shines through, smooth and delectable, luscious in its fruit forwardness and with a lingering ripe plumb afterthought.  Zippo tannins.  A pinch of pepper.  Make no mistake: If you haven’t had a bottle you are passing on something of exquisite value.  Five bottles of this for the price of one fine Penfolds.

 

Price: Two years ago it was $24.50 all in at BC Liquor; nowadays, it’s $26 for the 2014 before egregious taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: Tuesday sipper or Sunday roast, it checks the boxes.

October 27, 2017

Rombauer Carneros Chardonnay, 2013

From the cellar: In 2015 we found a sale on Rombauer and got half a case for less than $30 USD per.  We drank a bottle, then eventually more; you know how it goes.  I pulled the last bottle out for a spin last week.

 

We liked it in 2015.  We thought it a bit rich, both on the palate and on our pocket book, but we really, really liked it.  Sally Field much.  Here’s our gushing Top Gear review from two years ago.

 

Now?  How did it age?  Ooh la la, la la la la.  Ooh la la.  Like butter.  Like friggin’ butter.  Buttery, baked butternut squash, butter shortbread.  Rich and deliriously good.  Not a shred of bite, tantalizingly smooth, Richie Rich, toasty, lightly mineral with gobs of tropical punch, and just plain swooningly terrific.  We got excited: So we sourced the current vintage at BC Liquor.  And? $56 plus tax, so $65 a bottle.  Then, just like that, poof, it was another bottle in the recycling, and we moved on to a basic Pinot G.

 

Price: Same as 2015.  Too darn much.

 

Market Liquidity: How the other half drink.

October 15, 2017

Quinta Ferreira Algaria, 2010

From the cellar: Almost two years after we went gaga over this kitchen sink blend, we opened the last bottle from the cellar.  First, our review from 2016 still stands.  Second, rest in peace White Rock Swirl.  Third, see the first two.

 

Price: $30 back in January 2016.

 

Market Liquidity: A powerhouse of “delectability.”

February 17, 2017

Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011

xanadu-cabernet-sauvignon-2011

From the cellar: What’s your desert island wine appellation?  I mean if you had to drink, for the rest of your life, one appellation?  My hunch is most people will pick Bordeaux or Burgundy or Champagne.  For me, it would be a close call between Alsace and Margaret River.  I mean imagine having Leeuwin Estate on a Tuesday, Cape Mentelle on a Wednesday, Cullen on the weekend.  So much heaven in one small haven.

 

The Xanadu was a special purchase at BC Liquor; I picked up some a few years back to lie down.  This bottle was aching to come out for boeuf en daube on Family Day weekend.  And what a sensational treat.

 

Coconut.  Seriously.  Coconut and coconut oil.  Sweet overripe plum.  Chocolate, cherry, piquant oak and a bracing pine resin finish that bites then subsides and lingers on a vanilla note to infinity.  Sorry to exaggerate but it was really just that good.  Highly, highly recommended.  This is an ooh la la red.

 

Price: A mere $25 back at the beginning of 2015.  I wish I got a case.  You can find the 2013 in private shops currently around $30.

 

Market Liquidity: Wine turducken: A Pinot wrapped in a Merlot wrapped in a Syrah.

January 31, 2017

Van Westen Vineyards V, 2010

van-westen-vineyards-v-2010

From the cellar: At the beginning of 2016, when Swirl in White Rock began to clear out their stock in advance of being sold to Jimmy Pattison, you could pick up some deals if your purchase was six or 12.  This Bordeaux blend spoke to me, or at least the discount did, and I laid it down.  A year passed by and we decided to uncork it.

 

Ever read something really impressive but find it dull?  Or see a movie that was exceptionally profound but ultimately a bit didactic?  This wine, this very, very, very good red, is a little bit like that.  Sincere, bold, brazen, but also not that appealing (and here I’m thinking of Ridge, where wine is both austere and cozy in one small sip).

 

As a drinkable wine I think the worst thing I can say about the V is that it has my most hated wine peeve: A wax seal over the cork.  Chip, crack, wax all over.  But once you pout it, well it really is in many ways a deep and mysterious Bordeaux blend, sort of like a chess set, with subtleties and nuances buttressed up against heavy notes of charcoal, prunes, spice cabinet.  We could not abide some of the descriptors on the label (mulberry pie? dusty cocoa?) but found it suitably complex.

 

Despite its majesty and enormous palatability, and oh-my-gosh was this food friendly (with a Tom Kerridge lamb stew) it somehow ended up being too much bravura and not enough warmth.  Think of the frosty demeanor of lord of the manor.

 

Price: $38 retail last year, before a 15% discount.

 

Market Liquidity: It’s the king, queen, rook, bishop, knight and pawn.  It’s just not all of those things in a linear, hierarchical fashion.

October 18, 2016

La Frenz Merlot, 2011

la-frenz-merlot-2011

From the cellar: Found this with some other treasures, bought in 2014, awaiting the day.  It was everything a somewhat aged OK Merlot could and should be, and then some, but overshadowed by how much we liked the Hypothesis last week.  We reviewed a more recent vintage a few months back (which, bizarrely, was apparently cheaper than this), and found it wanting.  But the 2011 is (now) a treasure trove of inky fruit with juicy acids and a really addictive tartness. Quite superb on its own but, hard to believe, wavered with a pumpkin sage risotto.

 

Price: $28 from the vineyard in 2014 before the tax fiascos.

 

Market Liquidity: For those with discipline, La Frenz can bring it home.

September 26, 2016

Zenato Amarone Valpolicella Classico, 2006

a-zenato-amarone-valpolicella-classico-2006

From the cellar: Spectacularly good.  Ludicrously alcoholic.

 

If you are a disciple of the Revered One, aka Mr Parker, then you’ll know how it goes with his points, the higher the points the more alike the wines seem to be.  In fact, so many decades into drinking his selections, it’s as though he has a nose for only one type of red.  And this, you might say, typifies his passion.

 

Fruity fruit fruit, juicy plummy soft and jammy ripe, cedar shavings with a hint of clove and the aroma of your spice cabinet, so smooth it could be fondant, luxurious on the tongue, but with a faint and fading finish, a minor let down.  It drinks so beautifully it was sinful to do anything but sip.  Very, very slowly.

 

What’s brilliant about this wine is that all too often we end up drinking young, inconsequential Valpolicella, with pizza or pasta, but the artistry in this bottle puts the plonk to shame.  Ten years on and I could have left it lying down for another ten.  A real treat.

b-zenato-amarone-valpolicella-classico-2006

Having said all that, there is a catch.  There’s always a catch.  What’s the catch?  It’s a tad alcoholic.  Oh, of course.  With 95 points from the Wine Advocate, it will be at least 14 per cent.  At least.  Is it more?  Yes.  Guess.  14.5 per cent?  More.  15 per cent?  More.  15.5 per cent?  More.  Not 16 per cent?  No. Not 16 per cent.  It is, wait for it, 16.5 per cent.  16.5 friggin’ per cent!

 

Price: When it was purchased or exactly where I don’t know but I did save a blurb noting it was discounted from $60 to $50, and this would have been back when taxes were included.  I might have even picked it up in Toronto as the LCBO carried it; for a wine of this calibre great value, especially for those inclined to get very drunk very quickly.

 

Market Liquidity: So, basically, fortified wine…

c-zenato-amarone-valpolicella-classico-2006