Archive for ‘Italy’

March 12, 2018

Masseria Li Veli, Fiano, 2016

A light and refreshing “summer sipper” which as spring arrives prematurely suits the urge for fresh asparagus alongside seafood.  Puglia churns out some unusual but really appealing simple wines, relatively easy on the budget and novel enough to warrant a second purchase; we are always up for a test run.


Metallic like pure Semillon, hints of menthol, acidic and tangy as it hits the tongue, peach and honey on the palate, a soft nutty finish.  Umami without the other four components.  The proverbial “drink now” white wine.


The surname, an incidental pun on lively in English, seems apt.


Price: $26 at Kitsilano Wine


Market Liquidity: The only thing missing is effervescence.

August 18, 2017

Foradori Teroldego, 2013

First time ever we’ve blogged about a Teroldego.  Probably have had some in one of our many trips to Italy but don’t recall.


Overripe plum (in a juicy, appetizing sense), un-hulled strawberries (in a not so perfect balance sense), a smoky medicinal top note (in an interesting and provocative sense) and a striking acidity on the finish (in a palate cleansing red meat sense).  We found it exceptionally good drinking in that curious unusual out of the ordinary way you do when testing a new varietal.  But, honestly, we didn’t think it was quite as great as the generous lauds its picked up globally.  Maybe one of the most interesting and unusual reds readily available at BC Liquor?  Enormously food friendly; not your go-to sipper.


Price: $34 at BCL before the extras.  And kudos to BCL for having it on the shelves in the first place.


Market Liquidity: Delectable in a deer in the headlights sort of way.

July 19, 2017

ColleStefano Verdicchio de Matelica, 2015

Colossally satisfying.  This isn’t your classic verdhicchio in a fish shaped bottle.  It’s hard to find (in Vancouver), reasonably priced (all things considered BC-wise), ridiculously food friendly, and just good drinking.  Organic to boot.


There is something Orange Julius peach fuzz Creamsicle about it, with an oily nuttiness underlying the stone fruit.  It has gobs of flavour without being cloying.  Decanter listed it as one of their top verdicchios; we couldn’t agree more.


Price: Around $30 in private wine shops, give or take; if you’re smart, you’ll shop where they discount on bottles of six, and you’ll get six.  You won’t be sorry.


Market Liquidity: Just make the effort to find it.  It’s all reward.

July 17, 2017

Castel Del Monte Tormaresca Trentangeli, 2014

Puglia, down in the boot, produces some lively wine, without the heft of Tuscany (meaning price tag).  We are very fortunate that here in BC the Liquor Board stocks an enormously appealing and not too expensive red which is not only delectable but organic and can be sourced across the province.


This is an ideal red for the patio, for the BBQ, for sipping and eating and socializing.  It’s not top of the game, it’s no Brunello, on the palate it lacks, but the finish is all love, joyously generous, and in a group you can drink three bottles for under $75.  That is, unless you order it in a restaurant, where it will run you an exorbitant $55 or more.


It’s in Smithers, it’s in Stewart; it’s in Kaslo it’s in Fruitvale.  I think the Italians would approve.  And I believe it’s worth more, all things considered, than the 89 points Gismondi gave it.


Price: $19.50 at BC Liquor before taxes.


Market Liquidity: I think if socialist filmmaker Ken Loach gave his seal of approval to wine he’d give this a gold star.

May 9, 2017

Rocca di Montegrossi, Chianti Classico, 2014

First, not the finest Chianti in BC and not the finest under $50 even at the government stores.  It is like luxe plum juice, has a cordial bent that is pleasant enough, smooth like silk, but not with all the dimension and ka-ching of a few others we’ve tasted over the years–plus it doesn’t quite have the heft of its compatriots.  However, however, however: This is sensationally affordable for the quality in the bottle.  And it drinks just as good as BC red wines twice and even three times the price.  Plus it has some legs.  This is a “stocker upper” if you can get it.  I can’t imagine finding a BC red as drinkable at this price point.


Price: $28 at BC Liquor.


Market Liquidity: Organic to boot.

March 28, 2017

GD Vajra Barbera D’Alba, 2013

What a food friendly wine.  When the red becomes soul partner to the dish, a complement to but never overshadowing, a magic happens; it’s like Frosty becoming alive.  Light but not weak.  Unusually restrained for a Barbera, or so we thought, with a delicate cigar leaf and black currant on the palate, finishing with a nuanced tinny note that subsides like ether.  Magic on the tongue.


I discovered Vajra in London (UK) where there is more to choose from without going whole hog Barolo, but I’m grateful that you can even find a wine like this in BC Liquor.  Stock up, if your wine budget allows, it’s a keeper.


Price: A rather steep $33 plus taxes at BC Liquor (even cheaper at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge!).  But, then, the Culmina Hypothesis will be released this year at a monumental $46; pass.


Market Liquidity: Hands down it trumps half of BC’s hearty reds without being particularly hearty.

February 24, 2017

Di Majo Norante Ramitello, 2012


This opens up nicely with pronounced bittersweet chocolate and sour cherry.  Light notes of candied violets.  The final push, a raspberry soda with a woodsy note, is soft and not overwhelming.  Silken on the palate.  Drinks like a well tailored suit.


Over at RA’s Wine Advocate, Monica Larner referred to it as having a sophisticated international style and being “exciting value” from southern Italy.  It is all that and then some.  While we couldn’t quite get the 91 points of the whole enterprise we do say this: BC churns out a wine like this there are seven “very limited” cases at $80 a bottle.  I exaggerate, but you get my drift.  At this price point BC vineyards are selling their “base model” reds that are often bitter and lesser and forgettable.  Plus, why not try something from Abruzzi-Molise?


Price: Regularly a very respectable $24 at BC Liquor, on sale currently at $22.50 but, and I must rub your nose in this, only $19 in Ontario.  We really are the oppressed state Ms. Christy Clark.


Market Liquidity: You’d be hard pressed to serve this at dinner and not please the lot.

January 21, 2017

Casa di Malia Prosecco


Prosecco with a cork.  In other words lightly effervescent; nominally effervescent.  This certainly isn’t the “fizz” from Kim Crawford.  Organic, so kudos.  Nice label.  Utilitarian bottle with a stopper (you can rinse it and make a vinegar later).  You see where I’m going.  There’s not much to praise once you start to drink.  Using the gratis stopper we corked it and I poured a small glass the next day; still, and I mean flat, still it was peachy in a candy floss way, not terribly interesting (without orange juice or Campari or something…).  There is such a huge market for Prosecco and it’s all over the map and (in my humble view) in the majority at the less than palatable level but at least, at least it’s usually festive, as in fizzy.


Price: A very reasonable $20.


Market Liquidity: Hostess gift.

December 6, 2016

Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera, 2014


Barbera.  Ba, ba, boring.


We spent over a week drinking what I thought would be novel and interesting wines, including a highly praised Muscadet (dry verging on sour), a pricey bottle of bubbly (too much gloss and not enough expertise), and (with expectations very low) a mid-week Barbera.  This blog isn’t about complaining, it’s about stumbling across value and getting excited about the craft, but when bottle after bottle disappoints, I wonder if there is just too much wine being made with labels and reviewers proclaiming otherwise?


Who turns up their nose to a decent bottle of Barbera on a Tuesday night?  Not me.  Unless it’s just like so much mediocre wine bogging down the market.  How do the professionals do it?  Taste so much mediocrity I mean—and then find gentle ways to nudge on the industry?  I’d rather have to sit through yet more franchise comic book movies and churn out 700 words for Rolling Stone; brain deterioration must be better than liver…


Here are some real people actual wine drinkers paying out of pocket corrections to the professional reviews:

“Packed with black fruit.”  No.  Burnished with fruit flavour.

“Spice overtones hinting at black pepper and cinnamon.”  Hinting being the operative word.  Some fundamentals, as opposed to overtones, would be appreciated.

“Sweet, soft tannins come together in a closely-woven texture.” Crude tannins diminish any complexity in the wine and leave it flat.

“A crisp freshness provides a long tasty finish.”  A rather pedestrian fruity finish will lead you to buy another label next time round.


Price: A mere $15 in Ontario.  $22 and more in BC.  Go figure.


Market Liquidity: When what should be value disappoints.


November 25, 2016

Drinking Wine in London, A Lot of Champagne, Discovering Grillo

The Cutty Sark in Greenwich at dusk.  Familiar to scotch drinkers...

The Cutty Sark in Greenwich at dusk. Familiar to scotch drinkers…

A short vacation in London.


And a lot of good wine.

The beer wasn't too bad either.  Young's Winter Warmer.

The beer wasn’t too bad either. Young’s Winter Warmer.

A flat white mid morning

A flat white mid morning

I bought a bottle of “grower’s” champagne from a local Co-Op (high street grocer) which was palatable and pleasant and came through on my credit card statement at $28 Canadian.  Not sparkling, not Prosecco, not cremant de bourgogne/loire, whatever, not methode champenoise, actual champagne.  $28 for 750 ml.  (Now, not to get too excited; at the 02 arena they were selling individual 250 ml bottles of Moet for 25 pounds sterling, so about $40 or, translated to 750 ml, $120 Canadian.)


BA serves actual champagne in the lounge, if you’re flying on points.  Henriot Brut and Brut Rose.  Neither, to my mind, were that memorable but they do retail in Vancouver for, wait for it, $80.


On board the reconfigured 747 (I would love to have been on the new Airbus, but not in the off season) they had a choice of three and I drank two sensational glasses of, first, Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle then Taittinger Brut Vintage 2006.  That Taittinger with its dry, nutty, spicy nose was the bomb.  I also sampled a most exquisite white, the A To Z Wineworks Riesling, 2015, from Oregon, which had the tart crispness of a Pink Lady apple with the honeyed finish of Rooibos tea.  And, shock of shocks, they had a CA Pinot, Sangiacomo 2013 from Sonoma, which somehow had all the lightness of raspberry with the layers of wood shavings and spice you’d not expect at 39,000 feet.


I also sampled a number of natural wines at Terroirs in Covent Garden, including a “too young” Gamay.  More on the natural wine issue in a separate post.


But the big find this trip was that many restaurants have started selling decent bottles of Sicilian Grillo by the glass.  Day was when you could get a very tasty Verdicchio or Gavi as a house wine, but no more.  Grillo, however, was hearty, herby, earthy and spoke of the seaside.  I really couldn’t get enough of it.  Dirt cheap too.

Lamb sirloin at Hix in Soho; a great reason for a few glasses of Medoc

Lamb sirloin at Hix in Soho; a great reason for a few glasses of Medoc