Archive for ‘Italy’

March 2, 2022

Mazzei Ser Lapo Chianti Classico Riserva, 2018

95 points from James Suckling.  Seriously.  95 points.  I have no idea what that even means.  For what?  It’s not the best Chianti at BC Liquor let alone the best Chianti available in the province.  It’s a very good Chianti.  Period.  It’s like a 90 point red wine if in fact you must rate wine.

James Suckling: I call him the Peter “great movie” Travers of wine reviewers.  No shade on Travers, but if there was one aspect of his career that hovered above everything it was his name in print, on posters, on signage, in ads.  He gave more space to “Rolling Stone” than the actual Rolling Stones.  And Suckling seems much the same; he loves to see his name in print.  95 points will get your name in print.  But how meaningless.  And for the average drinker, the person who doesn’t rate wine, who may buy this bottle purely on the points and review, how misguided.  It educates the novice nothing.  It diminishes the value of professional reviews.  And it blatantly exploits the privilege accorded to tasters who don’t pay the exorbitant prices for vino.

Anyhoo…  Decent Chianti.  I would head over to the Nebbiolo we loved and Gismondi highly recommended and which was for a month on sale.  It may not be Sangiovese, but on the palate and the pocketbook it’s better wine, better value, higher satisfaction, no points decal.

Price: $33 at BC Liquor.  If you can see the price tag behind the 95 points signage.

Market Liquidity: Wine success, poinster fail.

February 11, 2022

Fanti Brunello di Montalcino, 2015

Look what Santa left under the tree.  Wow.  Very naughty but obviously someone’s been very nice.

This is ludicrously out of our bandwidth.  This is like that visit to a two star Michelin restaurant in Hong Kong where they had a Burgundy wine flight.  This is just heaven.  Wine heaven.  And I am extremely fortunate to have sampled a sample.

If there is somewhere for the 2015 to go, I guess it would be on Elon Musk’s rocket to Mars, because here on earth it is ready, ready now, and on the palate like drinking velvet.  Smooth to the nth, accents of an early spring garden with dewy violets and buried notes of cedar shavings.  Gobs of palate drenching dark fruit, but never heavy, as light on the tongue as the nose.  Just spectacular, it really needs no explanation.  And of course way, way out of our price range.

Price: Gifted, and not in stock in BC (to my knowledge) but in Ontario $70, and if you can afford to drop that sort of coin on a bottle of red then buy it by the caseload.

Market Liquidity: A bottle of earthly delights.

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.

August 13, 2021

Duca di Saragnano Nero di Troia, 2019

The neck of this bottle has a sticker (not shown in the pic) that it scored 97 points.  97 points!  On a scale of what? 113?  Then yes darling, this is up there.  Up there in the points.

As for the wine.  What is the wine?  Red.  It’s red.  It’s identifiably red. It’s drinkable.  I would be happy to be offered a glass at a BBQ, offered a glass at a party (for 100), offered a glass of this as opposed to Lindemans.  But 97 points?  Fruit forward, generous on the palate, smooth with a hot-peppery finish, it is in a nutshell eminently drinkable and easy on the pocketbook. This is a workhorse table wine typical of the Italian toe but gosh, points gone bananas.

We give this two thumbs up street cred.  We just don’t give it points. And having spent an extended period in Puglia in 2019, we would put this as a minor offering given the region’s options. Such is living in BC. Sigh.

Price: Mid-20s, 27 I think, didn’t save the receipt, from a private store in Saanich.

Market Liquidity: An open and honest red. Just not a knight in shining armour.

March 25, 2021

Villa Teresa Prosecco

92 points for Prosecco.  What’s the comparison? Andre’s Baby Duck?

In regard to flavour, this was fine; the melon and lemon, the lilt of a spring bouquet.  But flat as all get out.  We literally counted one bubble, one solitary bubble.  Look at the flute, freshly poured, could be Pinot Gris. A light, low alcohol aperitif, a splendid patio sipper, but short on many fronts.  Organic.  And, apparently, a hugely popular sparkling.  Go figure.

Price: Less than $20 and widely available at BCL.

Market Liquidity: Sort of like the toddler’s rides at Disneyland: It’s Disneyland, but it’s not, you know, Indiana Jones.

August 31, 2020

Mare Magnum Crudo Prosecco

The bottle says party up.  The wine says better than most Prosecco at the local liquor store.  Organic plays another trump card.  So all round, pretty good value, and fun times.  Good fizz, maybe too assertive (look at the photo; that’s some dense conglomeration of bubbles).  Dry (ish), dryer than the bubbly from up in the Italian north that adorns BC Liquor shelves. 

We tend to veer away from Prosecco: BC and any number of “new world” options at or around the same price point win out, but this (although not stellar) was very pleasing and drank with cheese, crudites, crackers and olives very well.  There is a tongue feel not unlike a bowl of stewed rhubarb. Appealing acidity.

Price: $26 before taxes at Legacy Liquor.

Market Liquidity: $10 less in Manitoba where it would be, literally, a steal.

August 13, 2020

Il Margone Chianti Classico, Gran Selezione, 2013

Can you guess how many points the Wine Spectator scored this vintage? 

As part of a minor celebration we splurged on some rather pricey Chianti (not much to get too excited about in 2020…).  Even with seven years under its belt, we felt it had some place to go, still.

Gobs of acidity and light tannins with deeply nuanced fruit.  If you’ve ever had an orchard pie (it’s a dessert of plums, apricots, peaches and cherries, and really only should be made during those magical two weeks in the summer when each of those is ripe at the same time), this wine could be that pie in a bottle, a really bold and assertive pie. 

I will add this though: Just for sheer enjoyment, just for having wine with friends and enjoying food, the Vajra Barbera, which we rarely go a month without downing at least one bottle, trumps this heavyweight.  I mean not over at the Wine Advocate, obviously, but maybe in your living room.

Price: $60 at BC Liquor but, for what it’s worth, over $40 USD south of the border.

Market Liquidity:  Very timpani in a requiem.

July 29, 2020

Tenuta Di Tavignano Costa Verde, 2018

Tenuta Di Tavignano Costa Verde, 2018

Anthony Gismondi called this wine crazy delicious and I’d be hard pressed to disagree.  It’s refreshing, zesty, ridiculously food friendly, a light 12.5% on the alcohol.  Look at that gorgeous ochre tone in the glass!  We got more citrus and a hazelnut as opposed to almond than AG remarked, but the tropical notes shine through bright and appealing.  Shame it doesn’t come in the curvaceous bottles common in corner shops in Italy.  And thanks to AG because (generally) cheap Italian whites in BC are, well, usually cheap (forgettable) Italian whites.  This is lip smacking lovely.

 

Price: $27 at BC Liquor

 

Market Liquidity: Now it’s just a matter of getting Canadians to drink Verdicchio…

June 26, 2020

Rocca Bernarda Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, 2016

Rocca Bernarda Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, 2016

Wow, what a mouthful.  The title I mean.  Makes you think you’ll get more than you do.  Like A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; just too bad it wasn’t funny on film.

 

Mixed feelings over a mediocre red.  Forcefully acidic, aggressively musky in that wet forest floor sort of fashion, with a dash of oak and a not too unpleasant finish.  Half decent with food, too assertive and in your face as a sipper.

 

Price: $31 at Firefly.

 

Market Liquidity: An unusual grape, an unusual wine.

April 29, 2020

Colle Stefano Verdicchio di Matelia, 2018

Colle Stefano Verdicchio di Matelia, 2018

Bartlett pear, clover honey, and a good hit of stone with a dry, abrupt finish, but an acidity that breaks through cured meats, olives and firm cheese.  Wait: this isn’t a wine review.  This is the saga of the sorry state of affairs when it comes to wine in BC.

 

Let’s start here: Some good memories, years ago, drinking decent everyday Italian wines, some Corvo, Frascati, Verdicchio.  Then let’s jump forward and try to find those working horse wines in BC.  Good luck.

 

True story: I went into a well stocked private wine store and asked if they had any Verdicchio.  The proprietor said “Verdicchio?  I wish.”  That really says it all.

 

So when a local distributor had some organic bottles available we decided to get a case.  Not because we wanted a case, because short of driving all over the city, from store to store to store, trying to find a single bottle, the only way to order through the distributor is by the case.

 

Wait, you say.  It’s 2020.  Search online.  Oh, you’re hysterical.  Let me know which nights you do standup.  Search online indeed.  [Note for another post: The three wine stores in the province with search friendly online databases.]

 

Get this: After you order you wait a month.  Even though the wine is here, even though you’ve specified where you want to pick it up, it takes three or more weeks to cross the city.  Then the local store calls you and, you go, and you pay.  And you have a case of wine to drink.

 

There could be a better way.  Gismondi has written widely on the price point of BC wine, on a lethargic and unwieldy government system, on barriers to wine trade.  But really, we live in a modern democracy.  We should have wine clubs like the New York Times and Wall St Journal and umpteen other American versions.  But we don’t.

 

The online databases for most stores are poor, inaccurate or nonexistent.  The best of the online databases, Everything Wine, is even a little clunky and can be awkward when they run lower than a case at any given store.  In other words often.

 

So, in short, if you are passionate about wine, the system is set up to ensure your passion is quelled and you drink at the mercy of higher ups that have a grander notion than personal taste.

 

Price: Is it relevant?  In the grand scheme of things?

 

Market Liquidity: A lot of work to spend a lot of money for what was, last time I checked, a pleasure of adulthood, not a penalty.