Archive for ‘Red Wine’

October 18, 2018

La Frenz Malbec, 2016

We are blowing through a mixed case of La Frenz with mixed results, mixed feelings, some white has even hit the stock pot, but this one hit a chord.  E Major!  From the first sip you feel transported to a sun drenched patio on the Chilean coast, it has the dark, acid, chocolate you associate with the varietal and a much cooler climate than you’d expect in Naramata, but it strikes a balance we found appealing from first to last sip.  Sort of momentous in how basic it is on the one hand and how satisfying on the other.  This Malbec needs some time in the cellar where it would blossom in a year or two; if you can hang on to it that long…

 

Price: A stunningly reasonable $24.25 from the vineyard but substantially more in YVR at private shops.

 

Market Liquidity: Value.  Value, value, value.  And satisfaction.

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.

September 24, 2018

Stag’s Hollow Tempranillo, 2014

Here’s something novel: Okanagan Tempranillo at a decent price point.  (And here’s something oxymoronic, in a way, Tempranillo from BC’s Okanagan…)  You can ante up in excess of $50 for the Black Hills T, but Stag’s Hollow offers an entry level which is, well, very much Tempranillo.

 

On the plus side it’s boisterous, acidic, evocative of the varietal, if a bit aggressive.  On the down side BC is awash in spectacular Spanish reds in the $25-$40 price range and on that score, just a BC to Spain comparison, this is a one off buy, a curiosity, and leaves us sated if not hugely satisfied.  At this price point I’d probably choose the Stag’s Hollow Cab Franc but if you are willing to ante up the dough almost any red in the Renaissance series will please every time.

 

Price: $28 at Save-On Foods

 

Market Liquidity: Been there, done that.

September 20, 2018

La Frenz Syrah, Rockyfeller Vineyard, 2016

We found the same pronounced acid as the Cl 21B Riesling, but palatable and welcome.

 

First sip is grape Kool Aid drink crystals.  It really is that strong.  Then a not too wholesome hit of uber alcoholic cherry and plum with the requisite oak.  Despite the 14.9% we loved the jammy fullness and mouth feel.  Up the nose like Vapo-rub.

 

Young. Young, young.  Cellar indefinitely, although La F recommends five to seven, it seems to have potential for 10.

 

Price: An extremely reasonable $26 at the vineyard given the cellaring potential.

 

Market Liquidity: In your face.  But give it time.

September 14, 2018

Marques de Caceres Rioja Reserva, 2011

Probably the first bottle of Rioja I ever drank was MdC; a Crianza of course.  I would hazard a guess, based on the volume and availability, many North Americans and not too few British would echo the sentiment.  Marques de Caceres is an omnipresent red which usually comes on strong and tannic and decent in a bistro but nothing of note.  I’ve always thought of MdC as the Casio watch brand of wine labels.

 

The Reserva is less available, at least in Western Canada; the BCL has the Gran Reserva.  We’re not going to shell out another $40 to compare, but I’m going to suggest that if you love the oak of Rioja get the GR but if you just have a hankering for fine Tempranillo go the Reserva route, with less time on the cask but still a fine selection off the vine and some love and care in the aging.

 

At seven years this vintage is a blast of candy store licorice, followed by a heady, alcoholic, tannic bomb of cherry, plum, charcoal, moist earth then followed on the finish with traces of oak and vanilla.  Although top heavy it’s ludicrously food friendly (which we drank with a New York Times beef stew braised in Dijon, cognac, wine and beef stock).  Assertive, not terribly acidic, very masculine.

 

Price: $40 at Kits Wine Cellar (but with a half case purchase, reduced by 10%; no such luck at BCL).

 

Market Liquidity: Like running with the bulls in Pamplona, this wine cannot be held back.

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September 14, 2018

Leeuwin Estate Siblings Shiraz, 2012

Entry level LE is expensive.  Even in Western Australia.  Even at the vineyard in Margaret River.  It’s just how it goes.  And it’s not always brilliant (witness our rather uninspired taste of the Art Series Riesling).  But most of the time it is brilliant.  It has a modesty and restraint, across most varietals, something you don’t normally get in Oz (home of Punch in the Face Shiraz); this isn’t punching bag red.

 

The entry level Siblings Shiraz has (we think) everything going for it.  Smooth and sweet(ish) like melba sauce, meaning berry forward, palate delightful and deeply nuanced but without the flair of a truly magnificent red.  You can just imagine staff tasting from the barrel and knowing it wouldn’t cut the mustard for an Art Series label but how eloquent and measured nonetheless.  We drank it against an Ottolenghi recipe of braised leeks (with edamame, buffalo mozzarella, lemon zest and a sprinkling of Gran Padano) and it shone.  As a sipper it became instantly addictive.

 

There is something missing, something you find in those towering Penfolds that cost a fortune but you are, of course, at entry level.  $40 entry level.  But still.  A good fit, off the rack.  Thank you Leeuwin.

 

Warm, pleasant, pleasing and delectable.

 

Price: $40 at Kits Wine Cellar (but with a half case take 10% off).

 

Market Liquidity: Like an earworm there’s a repetitive riff and you’re hooked.

August 24, 2018

Il Grigio da San Felice, Chianti Classico, Riserva 2009

From the cellar: The Wine Advocate came out with a 93+ points rating for the 2009 Il Grigio (in 2013).  We bought six bottles.  I have rarely been more in accord with (what I call) The Robert Parkers.  The only regret is that six was far too few.

 

We drank our next to last bottle this week and nearly wept.  It was like velvet, slathered with cream, topped with faux fur resting on a water bed; it was like Ellington and Coltrane In a Sentimental Mood; it was like Frank singing Nice ‘N’ Easy crossed by Ella singing It Never Entered My Mind; it was like a zero gravity chair on a Quaalude.  It really was.

 

Last time we got around to reviewing this Chianti, proper content review, the layers of floral flavour, the muted tannins braced against a woodsy tang, the gorgeous lip smacking fruit bomb of it all, we were in similar awe.  This just keeps getting Wow and more Wow.  But the strange thing is of all the Il Grigio we’d drunk since the 09, nothing has measured up.  It’s like a good standby, an old reliable, but the 09, as I say it’s pure Wow: This is what it’s all about when it comes to lying down wine.  Buried treasure.  Sangiovese rocks.

 

Price: $18.60 USD in 2013; around $30 CDN for the current vintage.  Stellar value.

 

Market Liquidity: Manna from heaven.

August 22, 2018

Penfolds Max’s Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015

(I left the flashy red label on; we are over and through with glam labels, but you can always tear it off and still have a reasonable presentation at the dinner table.)

 

It’s been a while since we corked a wine this forward, assertive and confident.  Less like a Wimbledon semi this is a Davis Cup final; it clamors to be heard and in so doing you can barely hear yourself.  On a scale of one to 10 in subtlety we score this Liberace in concert crossed with Cher at the Oscars.  While it has legs, Usain Bolt legs, we opened our 2015 in 2018 as a sort of witness to things that may.  It may.  Just, do you have the patience?

 

While still (much too) young, and worthy of at least another five years on the down low, it is eminently drinkable in that forward Cab Sauv way.  If this is your thing, rock solid granite determined super masculine Cab Sauvs, then this is really your thing.  Reviews talk about the nuance and balance which to us were not predominant; more like static and assured but monochrome, with mere echoes of oak.  An astringent dark cherry crossed with licorice root on the palate and an earthy finish give it fullness; it has a lot of heft and I guess is “mouth delicious” and delightful but not as a sipper.  A whole bottle over dinner in one sitting feels a bit like a whole movie of just the car chase in The French Connection, no plot.  Yet who in YVR would be serving this by the glass?

 

Dry and red meat friendly and decent value from one of the most prestigious Oz vineyards but for better or worse not our cup of tea.

 

Price: $32 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: In the alternative, may I suggest a shot of testosterone.

August 11, 2018

Bodegas Ateca Atteca, 2014

A juicy, plummy, full-bodied red with none of the weight.  Smooth as a baby’s bottom.  Delicious and approachable if top heavy (15% alcohol).

 

I don’t know how we ended up gravitating to so many Grenache/Garnacha wines, but we have.  Last week we were drinking a white Grenache from France, the entry level Jaboulet (white Grenache: which can be lively and layered but was in this case flat and sterile; at least Marquis put it on sale).

 

This Spanish red is pretty much what you wouldn’t expect in Spain (and I speak from some experience).  It’s so well crafted, and honed to within an inch of its life I can only think of an export market expert, a list of check boxes, and crafting each barrel to tick the Robert Parker predilections.

 

But it is enjoyable.  Rich and open hearted and lush.  Very food friendly.  Not expensive in many US markets but hitting $40 with taxes in BC.  Shame.

 

(NB: Ateca Atteca.  What’s next?  Bogle Boggle?  Ravenswood Ravenwood?  Cheval Blanc Blancc?)

 

Price: $34.99 at private wine shops (select those that give half and full case discounts).

 

Market Liquidity: It’s a bit like the pride some have with a logo on the chest of their shirts (meaning was it really worth all the money, even if you do look sharp).

August 9, 2018

Domaine Franck Millet, Sancerre Rouge, 2016

The white is available at a much higher price in private stores and, generally, if you live in BC and are looking at Sancerre you are looking at whites.  So, let’s start with praising BCL for having a lovely red Sancerre, at a price point under $30 (although just), and giving pause to the much higher priced Pinot Noir churned out in BC that can’t compare.  Its lightness speaks to rosé.  Look at that glorious ruby red in the picture, light as a feather.  Gismondi quite liked it, more than us I would say, silky I think was his term, and it does have a perfumed freshness, rose and lavender, with a musky finish.  There is a whole red currant grape jelly “thing” on the palate that dissipates into air which makes you take another sip and another.  I couldn’t quite wrap my loving arms around it and give it the props the pros have but it is a lovely summer read, er red, a refreshing 12.5% alcohol, dreamy with a Cobb salad, but it was also a one off; not for us.

 

Price: Around $30 at BCL.

 

Market Liquidity: Like age appropriate clothing, it has its place.