Archive for ‘From the Cellar’

December 23, 2021

Penfolds Bin 29 Kalimna Shiraz, 2018

Christmas card from 1972. Seriously.

And so it goes, another year unfolds.

From the cellar: A Wine Spectator top 100 from 2020 (#41 in fact), gifted under the tree last Christmas, this lay in our own cellar an additional year. I mean not since 1972, but still.

2021, the year so many of us gave up (on travel, on shopping, on eating out, on socialization) left us (as in the us writing this blog) spending too much on wine.  I am not going to write that with any passion except to say if there was a simple positive in 2021 it was drinking well.

The best meal out last year, Pluvio in Ucluelet, offered both Puy and a Jura white by the glass; I think a reflective kudos for having such iconic and food friendly bottles on the pour.  And although Wine Spectator lauds the 38 page wine list at the Pointe/Wickanninish down the way, the Wick has a woefully inadequate by the glass listing.  I write that only in passing; wine in restaurants is exceedingly grotesque: entry level plonk at $40 a bottle.

We devoured the Bin 28. It actually drank better with food than as a sipper. It’s an elegant and perhaps restrained Shiraz, on the one hand typical of Oz Shiraz, and on the other hand reinvented.  Some of the crude, crash and burn (pepper and smoke and heat) of the varietal are cooled off like chocolate ganache oozing over a black forest cake.  We simply couldn’t get all the notes of critical acclaim (cola, hazelnut brittle, cannoli with vanilla custard—I mean perhaps, but gosh, it’s a great bottle of wine but sweet cannoli?  I mean give it a rest precious…). Yes. We are heathens. But we drink well. Cheers, Happy Holidays.

Price: Gifted.  But the 2019 is available for $50.

Market Liquidity: An exquisite wine.  But, you know, #41 in our top 100.  Just joking.  Just half joking.

To close the year on a positive note, non-wine related, without sarcasm, I recommend the (gone viral and much replicated) Drukair or Bhutan airlines version of Jerusalema.  (Yes, everyone and their dog has done it, including Air Transat [!], but Bhutan knocked it out of the park.)  It will put a smile on your face, no “cup of cheer” required.

My 90 year old mother’s Christmas tree, 2021. What a sight!
December 20, 2021

Battle of the Vintage Riojas: Sierra Cantabria San Vicente 2008 vs. CVNE Reserva, 2012

From the cellar: This time of year, the “season” if you will, is a good excuse to dig up some gems.

The 2008 San Vicente was a “significant birthday” birthday gift, and a great gift at that.  What a wine (despite the dry cork: Hey BC wine sellers, how about some lie down?!!).  Each sip delectable. I heard a background soundtrack of oohs and aahs and very contented sighs Wimbledon-esque, the quiet at the dinner table when everyone digs into a satisfying spread, Terrence Malick-ian lyrical.

Dark, dark, dark; squid ink.  Prune, prominent prune and plum and a few other dried stone fruits on the attack.  There are points on the palate like mince tart (not the UK mince, lest a UK reader mistake me), but sweet and lingering and as if topped with a dollop of thick rich cream.  A deep earthiness on the finish.  Very hard to place this.  Just plain wowza.

We didn’t drink it all in one go and I would say that the second day (although properly “vacu-sealed”) it lost a little glamour.

The CVNE Reserva (not the Gran Reserva, which on occasion we’ve posted about) as expected was admiral.  But it drank like Tempranillo.  I think even the modestly knowledgeable wine afficionado could blind it as Rioja and be much less likely to do so with the San Vicente.  It was good in the typical sense; take the varietal, make an excellent wine, and then bottle it.  A most magnificent sipper, velvet, bouquets of violet, full on the palate.  In 2017, when we first posted about this wine, we paraphrased Hugh Johnson’s quote about wine as a marriage of nature and aesthetics.  True to form this vintage has softened over the last few years and warranted a lot of drinking pleasure.

I am not sure we’ve ever drunk a dud from CVNE/CUNE.

In brief: End of year score.

Price: The 2012 we purchased from Marquis in 2017 for $31.21 before tax, so obviously a score, likely part of a mixed case.  The San Vicente, although gifted, can be found at Kits Wine Cellar for nearly $80.

Market Liquidity: To be absolutely, unequivocally a broken record, we will say it yet again: There is no better red wine value in BC than Spanish Rioja.  Your dollar just goes way, way further, vintage or not.

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September 14, 2021

Montevertine Toscana, 2005

From the cellar: Well, from someone else’s cellar.

Let’s just say you knew someone who collected wine but ended up drinking too much wine and that led them to AA and when they went dry they started giving away their cellar.  Let’s just pretend that happened to me.  But, you know, even people who go dry hang on to their past.

Robert Parker said this wine had not much room to improve and recommended it be drunk at least four years ago.  On the one hand, it’s true; the wine is past it’s peak.  But it’s definitely not past.

The red colour, light, cardinal as opposed to carmine; it drank soft on the palate, ethereal.  It had lost all of the boldness it probably boasted five years ago.  Prune and dried apricot and a little loamy earth, not much on the nose but a stupendous, lingering, luscious finish and a glorious 13% to boot.  Honestly, we opened it expecting a bomb, and were thrillingly surprised.

Price: Gifted, but Tuscan heavyweights in Vancouver start at $50.

Market Liquidity: No market left on this puppy, just after market satisfaction.

June 18, 2021

CVNE Gran Reserva Rioja, 2013

From the cellar: Is this the best kept secret in Vancouver?  In the middle of a pandemic we walked into a private wine store and bought a seven year old bottle of Rioja.  As part of a mixed half case they gave us a 10% discount.  And a year later, when we got around to popping the cork, it was fireworks.

Now for the savvy, 2013 was not a good year, if years are your primary concern.  It’s not a bottle to hold, it’s a drink now (the 2015 to current vintages are your cellar picks).  And yet it rolled onto the tongue like Diana’s silk-taffeta train in St. Paul’s, lingering, impressive, gorgeous.  Robert Parker thought it light and I would agree that comparatively, back to back Tempranillos, yes.  But somehow it was light in an invigorating and inviting way.  It drank with a mellow oak, a clove slash star anise undercurrent, and restrained fruits.

Price: $40 after the discount in May, 2020.

Market Liquidity: A whole lotta satisfaction.

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?

May 13, 2021

Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon, 2015

From the cellar: Ah yes I remember it well (said Maurice Chevalier in Gigi for anyone under 102).  This gorgeous wine straddles the fence of sticky, crushed blackberries, inky on the fingers after picking, with cleaning the stalls at the racetrack.  There is a deep, dark, currant and savoury streak crossed with the barnyard, undeniable Cab Franc, exquisitely French Cab Franc, and 100% Chinon.

This is our last bottle (of the Jean-Maurice Raffault, may he RIP, 2015).  Gismondi apparently recommended it as a cellar pick; it held up well.  Based on our notes from last summer, the tannins have diminished significantly.  We have no note on purchase date but get this: It was under $20.  So go figure, must have been sold before it was bottled! I think it’s been lying for four years at least.  There is only one Chinon at BC Liquor, as of this post (ONE CHINON I write in all caps, how pathetic is BCL…), and it’s $35 before tax.

Price: $19.49 at BC Liquor (back in the day).

Market Liquidity: Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live on the Loire.

December 25, 2020

2020 Wine of the Year: Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu Sec Vouvray, 2015

From the cellar: Hands down the best wine we drank in 2020.  Wow.  Words simply aren’t necessary.

As a tradition, we open a bottle of Vouvray sometime in December, celebratory style.  Usually it’s a demi-sec, and more often than not it’s Huet.  The Wine Advocate gave this 2015 a comfortable 93 points, and in some semi-effectual way tried to describe its fruit aromas and subtle herbal aromas.  Unfortunately, their prose couldn’t match the majesty.  This was eloquence, diplomacy, mysterious, a John Le Carre, may he rest in peace.  The WA did write “”a very long and grippy, tension-filled finish” to which I would echo and say it’s Escher-esque.

Chenin Blanc is perhaps the most mysterious (or unpredictable?) of white grapes; it can be coarse and edgy, it can be cloyingly sweet, but it can also age into a deliriously good state.  Witness this spectacular vintage.  I wish we had more.  I wish we had more laying down. But be grateful for small mercies I suppose.

Price: In October 2017, $48 from Marquis, and so less than a bottle of Culmina’s Hypothesis.  Cin cin.

Market Liquidity: The weft and warp of the finest silk in a bottled beverage.

September 24, 2020

Rombauer Carneros Chardonnay, 2013

From the cellar: Stellar.  No other words.

In 2017 we pulled out the last bottle from a half case we’d scored in the US (back in the day when the CDN had some reasonable busying power) and wrote an over the top post.  Link here.  Then, on the weekend, I found another bottle.  A final final bottle.  Lottery win!  It’s just that gushing 2017 review all over again, amped up.  I mean the legs on this stuff, it’s beyond description. 

Price: You can score it in YVR for around $64 which is ludicrous. LUDICROUS. Definitely not on our income. But how I wish.

Market Liquidity: In 2015 we wrote “It puts the lush in lush” and in 2017 “How the other half drink” and to that we’ll add parting with the last bottle is not sweet sorrow, it’s just plain sorrow.

They put their phone number on the label AND the cork, like a Johnson & Johnson product. It’s Hello Kitty adorable…
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August 13, 2020

Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon, 2015

From the cellar: The 2017 can be found around town, so I’m guessing we’ve had this kicking around for a couple of years. 

Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of posts for Chinon on the blog.  Not sure why, we gravitate towards the leather, gamey top notes of a decent Cab Franc, and this doesn’t disappoint.  A very juicy, black currant and lightly aromatic spice on the finish.  Crazy tannins considering the lie down.  Lovely with food, perfect with food, a little “loose” on the palate as a sipper.

Price: Not sure when, but whatever date we bought it, low 20s before tax.

Market Liquidity: One of those wines unlikely to get high points but highly likely to satisfy.

February 28, 2020

Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes, 2009

Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes, 2009

From the cellar: No thesaurus has the language to describe this luscious dessert sipper: Stupendous.  Ludicrously good.  Layer upon layer upon layer of flavours.  Ethereal; the proverbial nectar from the gods.  Can you hear my lips smacking?

 

The palate is a veritable wine fractal: Peach.  Apple. Pear. Almond.  Some cedar shavings.  Tangerine.  That might be the half of it.  The depth is absolutely astounding.  Sweet, sweet, but not cloying.  How is that possible?

 

Guess what? The French state owns the vineyard.  If this wine is what it means to elect Bernie Sanders, bring it on.

 

[A pointster first and foremost: Wine Advocate 93.  Wine Enthusiast 95.  Tim Atkin 95.  And 96 from James “nothing under 90 points” Suckling.]

 

Price: Back when the Canadian dollar was actually worth something, we scored this in Seattle for just over $16 USD.  The 2015 is available in Vancouver for nearly $50 CDN.  That’s $100 a bottle.  That’s also astounding and ludicrous.

 

Market Liquidity: As intriguing and appealing as those beautifully pixelated Chuck Close masterpieces.