Archive for ‘Merlot’

February 24, 2019

Liber Farm & Winery, Signature Red, 2015

We did not understand this wine.  We were baffled by the weight, stunned by the attack, left listless by the brashness of the blend, and confused by its identity.  The Similkameen is awash in wonderful wine, you almost could do no wrong.  Or so we thought.  The 40% Merlot is like a chimera, the Cabernet Franc the Penn to the blend’s Teller.  I don’t think we’ve drunk a more unappealing and mixed up BC red in years.  Enough said.

 

Price: $28 as Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: Did I say “enough said” already?

February 2, 2019

Culmina Merlot, 2014

For those with the money, and the willingness to “join the club” Culmina offers plenty of rewards.  We have gone ga-ga over a few, most notably their Gruner.  But if you just want to pick up a bottle of wine, at your local private shop, you will most likely be making a choice between their Riesling or their ludicrously priced Hypothesis.  So it was nice to find middle ground, price-wise, in the Merlot.

 

Here’s the rub: There is some damn fine Merlot in BC.  Born and bred.  This blog is awash in praise for lesser vintages and lower priced bottles.  And based on that comparison alone this is OK.  Just OK.  It’s a drinkable, competent, appealing Merlot.  I’d drink it over and over.  Except there are other choices, just as good if not better, at a lower price point.

 

As for the wine itself?  Plum yes, violets not so much.

 

Price: $35 at Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: There’s no disappointment, it just didn’t seem gratifying.

October 18, 2018

La Frenz Merlot, 2016

If you’re not a fan of Merlot this won’t win you over.  It has all the archetypal high notes of a Merlot, readily identifiable: soft, easy to drink, low on tannins.  But the fruit is forward, even a little pushy; plummy.  It seems rather simple.  In the alternative, if you like Merlot, then you will be happy with the cherry cola and the sweetness and the generosity on the palate, but you might find it lacking, comparatively.

 

You would think the 20 months in new oak would be a slam dunk but it was a hit and miss for us.  No regrets, no memories.  We’ve had our ups and downs with the LF Merlot over the years but somehow, like Charlie Brown and Lucy, we keep coming back for another go.  Hmmm…

 

Price: $24.25 from the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Not La Frenz’s finest moment.

April 6, 2018

Kraze Legz Black Bottom Stomp, 2011

There is nothing bad to say about this wine.  As a wine.  It’s a generous blend, fruit forward, lovely notes of tobacco and plum, easy to drink, food friendly.  Has the velvet of Merlot and a bit of the funk of Cab Franc.  If it sold at $22 or less I’d buy a couple of cases.  No doubt it’s sold out at the vineyard due to it’s remarkable approachability.

 

Here’s the rub: This is a wine that France and Argentina and Australia can produce and retail at $10 less.  Gismondi recently gave 91 points to a Cotes du Roussillon blend (Syrah and Grenache); different varietals I know, but wowza, it just flattened the KL.  And the CdR has years ahead of it.  That is just the tip of the iceberg.  Half decent and pretty good and not too bad BC wines are regularly overpriced.

 

This wine, which btw we really enjoyed, I want to stress that part, but this wine is indicative of the reason we started posting seven years ago.  I mean you have to either pay through the nose for Hypothesis, or suck it up for generic blends, and the decent, everyday wines, like the KL, well they are wonderful to drink but sting at the cash register.

 

There is room here for a whole editorial on the nascent BC wine industry, tax, labour, distribution, regs, the lot, and we don’t need to belabour it.  This is a simple consumer blog.  We have after tax dollars, not too many, and we like wine.  And, importantly, we’d love to support the BC wine industry more fully.  But it’s a snub to average wine drinkers that great BC wines are $20 more than foreign equivalents and good wines about $10 more.

 

Price: $29.99 before taxes at Save-On Foods in White Rock.

 

Market Liquidity: Crazy name but krazy good.

May 20, 2017

Château le Puy Emilien, 2012

Slow cooked pork belly with root vegetables

Hard to find fault.  Despite the long oak aging, it doesn’t thrust itself upon you; it has that je ne sais quoi of fine French reds.  Blind, I think you’d mistake it for 90% Cabernet Franc: There is an up front woodsiness to it, fennel, chocolate, licorice, intermingling with a slight funk, but low tannins and velvet on the palate, like the Merlot we’d expected.  Gorgeous with food, which we enjoyed at Kisso Tanto, the current go-to Chinatown spot in YVR.  And 12.5% for all that gorgeousness.  Vive le France.

Price: A shocking over the top outrageous $80 in a restaurant to which I might add, the “plonk” was going for $60.  Sold out, in my searches, at any local shops.

 

Market Liquidity: Think Mel Tormé in his heyday.

April 12, 2017

Chateau de Vieux Puit, 2010

A subtle, straightforward and hugely appealing red without the overbearing demeanor of Bordeaux.  Gorgeous with simply cooked meat.  The Merlot brings a wonderful balance to the Cab Sauv. First sip it might fool you in its simplicity, but the fruit and herbs de Provence shine through, gently.  By the end it leaves you a little taken aback.  It’s a value wine, yes, but not in a Value Village Winners kind of way, more like a Boxing Day sale; the real thing without the ka-ching.

 

Price: $24.99 at BC Liquor but astoundingly hard to find.

 

Market Liquidity: No wow factor, but stunning street cred.

March 20, 2017

Tiraspol Merlot Red Dry, 2009

Nothing much to review as we’ve mainly been drinking dupes of what’s in the house, most notably the last bottle of the SUPERB 2010 Burrowing Owl Merlot.

Wine from Moldova.  Moldovan wine.  Yes I had to look it up.  Been to Turkey (it’s more or less due north), been to Ukraine (it’s right next door), still wasn’t sure until I looked it up.  Just an inch touches the Baltic.  And, let me say at the start, this was a wild card.  I expected the absolute worst.  But you know what?  A surprise was in order.

 

Pretty smooth and luscious, although crisper than your average Merlot, with a tad more bite, but opened up beautifully, and halfway through had lovely notes of violet and ripe stone fruit.  This is the sort of wine you need to serve blind and see who can guess what it is and where it’s from.  At eight years old it’s drinking wonderfully.  It’s no “90 pointer” but try finding a palatable 2009 on the liquor store shelves at this price…

 

Price: A modest and more than respectable $20 at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: There’s a first time for everything.

February 7, 2017

Seven Stones Row 128 Merlot, 2012

There she is, empty, en route to recycling...

There she is, empty, en route to recycling…

 

“My heart grew tipsy in me…my sweet embraceable you.”

 

Lord what a lovely Merlot.  This gorgeous red curls up on your tongue, lights a fire, and settles in for the night.  It has more seasoning and crispness than your regular run of the mill glossy Merlot, less cloying perfume but no less complexity or flavour.

 

Cherry cola, dried fruits a la light fruitcake, a toxically appealing nose, a sharp clove slash cinnamon finish.  Good as a sipper, great with dinner.  Wow.

 

Price: $30 at the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: To quote more contemporary lyrics, “another day of sunshine.”

January 25, 2017

Chateau Canada, 2012

chateau-canada-2012

I have never bought this wine on principle: It states the varietals in English on the front of the French label (!).  Plus, and this is just my quirk, a label that reads Chateau Canada is sort of like a Ye Olde pub in Victoria, BC, with faux wainscoting and Molson Canadian on tap.  Worse, they have, in English, an explanation of why it’s called Chateau Canada.  On the front of the bottle!  However…

 

However, AG gave it a great little review and the price point is right in my sweet spot and I only have this to say: Is there any better bottle of French red on the liquor store shelves in this city at this price?  I think not.  Astonishingly appealing value red.  Luscious to the last drop.  A mostly Merlot blend that is a must buy.

 

Price: $18 at BCL before taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: Ignore the window dressing.

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.