Archive for ‘Pinot Gris’

June 5, 2017

La Stella Vivace Pinot Grigio, 2016

I avoid Le Vieux Pin.  Our reviews have always been muted by the price point and the presentation as though there is something better in the bottle than you might imagine.  It rubs me as precious and then, sometimes, preposterous.  We wrote here, in 2012, that LVP “pretends to produce wines that are much better than they really are.”  This un-objective bent has led us to, in general, avoid LVP’s boutique kin La Stella which has (I think) the habit of tourist tchotchke kitsch in naming their varietals as if they were kittens.  Vivace for Pinot Grigio. Fortissimo for, oh Jesus it’s hard enough to read a German wine label or remember the few hundred Italian varietals let alone these inane nicknames.  It’s tiresome.  The beauty of the new world is you buy Semillon, not Bordeaux Blanc.

 

But it’s also time to bury the hatchet with LVP/La Stella on this lovely sipper, as the days are longer and the temps are higher and this speaks to everything you might want in a rosé but with actual character.  Lovely layers of fleshy fruit and blossom lightness, a meady-y sweetness and a brisk acidity.  Refreshing to boot.  And, wait for it: An affordable, drinkable, BC sipper.  Perfection with an Ottolenghi orzo main.

 

Price: $29 at Everything Wine ($23 at the vineyard).

 

Market Liquidity: A bracing, evocative BC white.

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May 19, 2017

Sea Star Pinot Gris, 2016

Flat out the most interesting white of the spring.  And with our crap weather, this was spring refined.  Hard to find, hard to figure out in fact, the strange intent of this wine which wavers between something German and something Australian.  A gorgeous sipper, with on the one hand a heaviness and on the other something ethereal, which does not infer balance.  It’s cryptic.  Light, lemon blossoms with heavy, guava undertones; like that, with umpteen more fruit and floral metaphors.  I just couldn’t get over it; simple yet perplexing.  Loved every drop although it kind of (unexpectedly) fell flat with a basic mac and cheese dinner.  If you can source it, source it.

 

Price: Lost the receipt but less than $25.

 

Market Liquidity: We went through a Sea Star tear not too long ago, here and here and here and here, but this would top our list.  So far.

November 15, 2016

Blue Mountain Pinot Gris, 2015

blue-mountain-pinot-gris-2015

Probably the best BM PG ever.  I don’t know what that means exactly.  I’ve always liked their PG, I buy at least six a year, I’ve never been wholesale disappointed, but it’s not bowl you over, ever.  Even the reserve, which (was it the 2012?) was stunning and impossible to find following release, is still in the end just an Okanagan PG.

 

However, the base model this year, the wild ferment, really brings the funkiness to the fore.  It catches you for a loop.  It actually pales in comparison to the Saturna (RIP) wild ferment Riesling, released at the end of the vineyard’s “first incarnation” but it’s still delicious, acidic, pear forward, sharp and a charmer with cheese.

 

Kudos to Blue Mountain for have a “free shipping” release at Les Amis de Fromage a few weeks ago.  Order your wine from the Okanagan, pick up for free in Vancouver.  Anyone else want to join the band wagon?  Hint hint La Frenz, Burrowing Owl, Culmina, Seven Stones…

 

Price: Astounding at $21.

 

Market Liquidity: Easy on the pocket book, golden on the palate.

September 27, 2016

Roche Pinot Gris, 2014

roche-pinot-gris-2014

Gismondi had fair praise for this.  Floral without too much fruit.  I agree that it’s different than your typical BC Pinot Gris, and interesting at that.  But the attack is something of an affront on the palate with an antiseptic jolt that is not as food friendly as you’d expect; he recommended halibut and with the cost of halibut I’d recommend something safer or, if you must go esoteric, an Alsatian Sparr.  The finish, well, that’s something to write home about.  It lingers on the tongue longer than Barbra Streisand has been in retirement.  Gismondi liked the absence of PG’s omnipresent honey, but in the end, you are still stuck with the nectar, although with much more complexity than the run of the mill stuff at BCL.  Full points for difference, ho-hum on a repeat buy.

 

Price: $29 or $4 more than the winery at a private YVR shop.

 

Market Liquidity: More a curiosity than captivating.

April 14, 2016

Nichol Pinot Gris, 2014 & Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc, 2013

For the past few weeks we’ve been drinking wine we like, rather than new bottles, hence the lack of reviews.

 

Bubbles at lunch

Look at this, bubbles at lunch…

 

For a special occasion last weekend we popped some bubbles including Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, a “base model” in BC which is dry and appealing with a butterscotch note at the end that, although pales to say, a Perrier-Jouët, is nevertheless delectable.  It used to be easy to find, under $60, at BC Liquor, but has for whatever reason disappeared.  It was for a while my go-to special occasion champers.

 

We bought a bottle of an Italian red, the Verso Rosso Salenta, which was our favorite value red a while back, review here.  What a bomb.  Thank god I wasn’t corking it for guests.  Hugely disappointing; it had that prune juice funk that leads one to believe it had been stored in a too hot container or left to sit on a loading bay long before it ever got unloaded into a temperature controlled environment.  VRS, yah burnt.

 

Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwiches on homemade bread

Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwiches on homemade bread

 

We finished up some of our case lots from Blue Mountain.  Last March I gave, well, a rather savage review of their “regular” Chardonnay.  See my disappointment and roundabout way of calling it crap, here.  Wait a minute: A year in the “cellar” had transformed this forgettable plonk completely; peach and lemon notes on the palate, opening to reveal an intriguing filbert/maraschino pop that left us no option but to drink it pronto.  So, note to self: Order by the case, sock it away for a rainy day.

 

Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc, 2013

 

It’s been a few years since we drank Nautilus.  It was gifted on a weekend lately and, for better or worse, we opened it with some foodie BLTs on home-made bread.  It was a killer.  If you think of the “severity” of SB on a ten point scale, with a lot of Sancerre hovering under 3.5, and most NZ SB, like, say Brancott, at an 8.5 or higher, the Nautilus hovers around 7; it has some restraint that’s often missing down under.  Bracing but very food friendly.

 

Price: $28.50 before taxes at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: You pay for the refinement.

 

Halibut in parchment

Halibut & spring vegetables in parchment packets

 

On an evening of spectacular fresh halibut steamed with baby vegetables in parchment, we opened a Nichol Pinot Gris.  (This is not the more expensive, harder to source, “two barrels” PG.  But, that said, let’s go apples and apples and hold it up to, say, the eloquent and much loved Blue Mountain base model, to which iy doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance against.)  Anyone surfing the blog will know we like our PG, particularly the variety of West Coast PG.  The colour of  PG in BC, covers a wide swath on the Pantone scale.  As for Pinot Gris and its myriad hues, I’ll leave that to another blogger, with an interesting take, and a reference to a vintner making seven different types of PG (!) in almost as many colours: Link here.

 

 

While we’ve “oohed” and “ahhed” about many Nichols in the past—witness us fawning over the Cab Franc here and praising the value of the Nine Mile Red here, (but finding no love for a Gewurtz here,)—this was a tad rough; even if drinking PG is nothing more than the amusement of having a pink hue in your glass, you’re better off with Kettle Valley.  Still, it drank well with fish.

Nichol Pinot Gris, 2014

Price: $22 or thereabouts.

 

Market Liquidity: Competition in the marketplace shames this everyday white.

 

 

September 15, 2015

Blue Mountain Pinot Gris, 2014

The new BM PG is out. A friend sent me an email recently “Don’t you drink anything besides Pinot Gris?” I apologize; it’s a half case here, a half case there. Fun fact: Did you know Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are all genetic mutations of the same grape? Sorry; this blog is not about wine education! My apologies though for yet one more PG review.  I think with the cooler weather we’re closing in on our 2015 allotment.

Blue Mountain Pinot Gris 2014

The BM will sell out, it always does, but it’s not a stellar year. Dry, crisp, tart, like the first apples of the season. The oak gives it a slight dimension not common in BC PG. Brusque, if it can be said, as it leaves little on the palate. A lovely counterpoint to some Manchego, avocado and kohlrabi slaw, a not exceptional sipper but pleasant. Does not have the legs for serious cuisine. Still, five more bottles to go, and it won’t be hard…

 

Price: Inexpensive. Period.  Kudos to BM.

 

Market Liquidity: Mixed emotions.

August 11, 2015

Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris 2013

Tinhorn Creek Pinot GrisHow to explain OK PG? It can be heavy, sweet, cloying, light, ethereal, fruity, flat, dry, nuanced and heavy handed. And in all the many guises it takes on, each has its own merit. We tend towards something more patio friendly than this TC but, nonetheless, it won us over.

 

Yes, it took a couple of glasses to warm up to this lovely OK white, and a few more bottles. In fact, we started drinking this in June and it was August before I noticed it had become our favorite summer sipper of 2015. How do the “pros” determine so much on first glance? You know the dust jacket on Cloud Atlas had very little to do with the complexity of the book; but I digress. Dominant flavours of pear and with a quince-y note, it is deep, masculine and much more rigorous than the average OK PG. Enormously food friendly it had the legs for all sorts of salad, charcuterie and crudités. It is not, however, a pretty wine; it doesn’t warm up or rest on the palate the way the more luxe Burrowing Owl does or the more lean Clos de Soleil does. But, as I say, in the end we bought more. And more.

 

Price: $18.99 from Mud Bay.

 

Market Liquidity: It developed over time. As they say.

July 29, 2015

Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris, 2014

Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris 2014

I’m going to cut to the chase: Not as good as the last time we bothered to review a BO PG; see here.  They have pushed the lushness of it a little over the top.  But BO is still a heavenly vineyard, both to visit and to reward yourself with a mixed case every now an then.  And the price, at $20, well that’s just exactly in our wheelhouse.

Cheese Souffle

A pretty good match for cheese souffle, but Clos de Soleil Fume Blanc is much better.

Price: $20 at the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: A tiny bit less residual sugar and it would have been a blockbuster.

December 16, 2014

Best BC White of the Year

It could have been the Haywire Switchback PG. Swoon. De-lovely. The silver label Haywire is the Switchback. But the huge disappointment that came with the white label Haywire (sorry, White Label) was a strike against it. Bleach. Here’s our brown-nose review of the Switchback; we rejected and didn’t review the White. Also the Haywire Bub, another one we didn’t review, didn’t impress either. So it wasn’t Haywire. Nor was it the Nichol PG. Which is a wonderful white if we do say so. In the end it was the Blue Mountain PG. The non-VQA Blue Mountain PG. Vancouver had an atypical long hot lovely summer and nothing drank like home grown PG. Here’s the review.

 

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September 18, 2014

Blue Mountain Pinot Gris, 2012

Nichol Pinot Gris: Our go-to all summer long. If you can find it, it hovers around $22 plus or minus. Lovely, crisp, gorgeous on the patio, has the stamina for gazpacho, cold meats and cheeses. Great party wine. Guests who don’t know wine always like the pale copper hue and the fruit finish. The acidity is a point of conversation. Seriously, it’s so wonderfully social I can’t believe here we are at the end of summer and I haven’t reviewed it. But I haven’t.

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And I haven’t reviewed the Nichol PG because, if you know wine, I think the Blue Mountain is better. Better in that it’s more evocative of the grape. Move evocative of the grape of the wine worth drinking. (Yes, that’s a dig at the pale, thin, crap from Italy they serve at gallery openings.) This is a gorgeous, fruity PG which, as it warms, has that almost rancid green peppery note that is actually exciting, that you anticipate with the Nichol but it doesn’t deliver. My only complaint is that there is a sweet spot, temp wise, with this wine that’s hard to achieve. My protocol is out of the fridge with a “cool” sleeve, if you know what I’m talking about, and let it sit for 15 minutes before the first glass. If you drink it slowly, the final glass should be a goblet that’s come from the freezer. Fickle bitch, but worth it.

 

I applaud the Nichol, inexpensive, approachable. But I covet the Blue Mountain.

 

Price: $25 (but you can get a case discount at Everything Wine or Kits Wine cellar).

 

Market Liquidity: No chance in hell I could age this puppy four years.

Last of the summer blooms.  Time to retire the patio sippers.

Last of the summer blooms. Time to retire the patio sippers.