Archive for ‘Italy’

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.

March 27, 2020

Altesino Rosso di Montalcino, 2016

Altesino Rosso di Montalcino, 2016

Reviewers love this wine.  We were mildly satisfied.  Out of the bottle it has no new world charm; it needs a minimum of 20 minutes decanted to bloom—and then it rewards.  Decanted or even aerated, whatever you’ve got.  More subtle than the Vajra we’ve been addicted to of late, the smoky, earthy, coolness of it with just tinges of berry and plum, come on lovely.  Not a long finish.  It might have legs, and we have a few laid down to find out, but for food friendliness and to please company, you’d actually be better off with something like the Celestiale.  It was a slog to source, then of course we wanted to try it out to see if it fit our palate, then  a double slog to find it again to lie some down.  Work equals force times distance and there was too much of it all; thanks BCL.  I think Gismondi referenced it as a lesser Brunello which, I think, is disingenuous.

 

Price: $29 at BC Liquor (when and if you can find it).

 

Market Liquidity: Well worth it, but not worth the effort to source.

February 21, 2020

GD Vajra Langhe Rosso, 2017

GD Vajra Langhe Rosso, 2017

If you go below the base Nebbiolo, which we really liked (see here), if you go down, down, down beneath that to the Barbera, which quite frankly we love, so incredibly generous at the dinner table, if you go right down to the screw cap, you will end up at the Rosso.

 

And here, at the bottom of the barrel, a base model blend, you will have a juicy, fruity, slightly acidic and maybe a tad thin red, that is overflowing in simple joy.  Put on Beethoven’s Ninth and dance around the room with a glass.  Or just have dinner with it.  We couldn’t see the downside, especially in the US where you can score it for an unfrigging-believable $14 USD.

 

Can you hear my lips smacking?

 

Price: Around $30 at private wine shops in Vancouver.

 

Market Liquidity: Sharon Stone wearing Gap to the Oscars: It’s no Versace, but it does the trick.

January 5, 2020

Giovanni Rosso Langhe Nebbiolo, 2016

Giovanni Rosso Langhe Nebbiolo, 2016

I think Anthony Gismondi said that Cab Sauv drinkers should navigate towards Nebbiolo.  That was a Doh! moment for me; of course they should–why I’ve never said that myself is a conundrum…  I think, however, the acidity and tannins are not so similar, and while the average California Cab Sauv is “remarkable” from first sip, the average Nebbiolo is a wait and see and, if decent, an ooh-la-la.

 

This is a red that opens up.  There is no James Bond caper on the first sip; it’s more of a subtle start, Arvo Part minimal leading to a Handel’s Fireworks halfway through.  This is a two-bottle wine; at the last sip you will simply want some more.

 

There is a lot to be grateful for here in the New Year that you can still source a wine of this calibre (IN BC, at the BC government stores) for under $30.  When we started this blog x-teen years ago the bar was $20.  Tax has done us in on that score.

 

Although not as 100% food friendly as the Vajra Barbera we’ve waxed on about here previously, or as assertively Italian as the Vajra Nebbiolo, the Langhe is value, comfort, balances the acidity delicately and has a lighter, more Pinot-ish flair than the Vajra.

 

Price: $29 at BC Liquor stores.

 

Market Liquidity: The ultimate fireside winter sipper.

December 19, 2019

GD Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo, 2017

Vajra Nebbiolo

If we drank one Vajra Barbera this fall we drank 100.  See us falling in love all over again here.  There is no more flexible red at the dinner table.

 

This, the Nebbiolo, is more expensive.  So, let’s call it what it is: The Nebbiolo is better, smoother, has fewer tannins, is gorgeously juicy, refined, elegant, a little suave, and also a little too polished perhaps.  While you can score it for $30 in QC, it will set you back over $40 in BC.  If you can find it.

 

This is a wonderful wine; serve it to guests; impress them.  No one will complain.  But for our tastes, for the glorious slightly rough around the edges hugely food friendly Barbera, we’ll stick with the common cousin, despite the measly 89 points awarded by Gismondi.

 

Price: $43 at Kits Wine Cellar but with a 10% half case discount a better price than many proud BC reds.

 

Market Liquidity: A stellar older sister to a more in your face kid brother, we’ll take the Barbera thanks.

August 25, 2019

GD Vajra Barbera D’Alba, 2016

GC Vajra Barbera D’Alba, 2016

Pizza for dinner.  Home-made thin crust with Oyama chorizo.  Didn’t want a “special” wine that would shout “hey, I’m better than pizza” or something too plonk-y and brash.  Happened upon a reasonably priced bottle of Vajda (which, to be fair, hits the stratosphere in some varietals).  And wow.  What a spectacular pair.  All the heft and strength you need with tomato sauce but none of the rough edges.  Deeply evocative of Barbera, fruity, currant and red berry top notes with a muscular, sinewy finish that sips wonderfully then crushes it at the dinner table. The oak is milder than an Irish backstop.

 

The last time we bought this wine (post here, March 2017), a 2013 vintage, we had a similar reaction: Superb with food, why don’t we drink this all the time?

 

Same day we corked this beauty a friend sent me a wonderful label, shown below, which pretty much nails it: We want to drink good wine with food.  We don’t want it to fuck up the taste of our cheeseburger.  Note to Robert P: We want to drink wine with food.  How about a 10 point system that starts at 86 and rates wine with food?

 

Price: $34 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Love at first bite.

cheeseburger