Archive for ‘Red Wine’

September 24, 2020

Thibault Liger-Belair Moulin-à-Vent, 2014

There is something breezy and uplifting about cru Beaujolais; it’s like a day drinking red with heaps more character than a stale rosé.  It can be romantic, perky, festive and just plain appealing.  But as much as that fresh and forward fruit shines in most CB, the Moulin-à-Vent has a leg up.  Perched in the north, its bottlings often fit for the cellar, you almost always pay more.  But, what really makes MàV special is that it does age.  Sometimes magnificently.

I’m not adept enough to discern the pronounced differences in the 12 cru, but even a novice can intuit the subtle variations due to geography and the reactions they elicit.  If, say, Morgon is Beethoven and, I don’t know, Fleurie is Mozart, then MàV is Bach.

The nose on this is electric, holy even, like when on a hot summer day in Florence you wander into the cool of a cathedral, the frankincense, the wooden pews, the cool stone.  And yes, the organ plays a structured fugue.  The actual wine is more reserved than fragrant; gobs of raspberry, refined and structured, but weirdly not joyful, like what cru B should be, what you expect.  Dirge-y in fact. And with a long, flat finish on the palate as if the organ pedal led to a long low pitch, unappealing to the ear.  Still, we finished off the bottle in no time.

Price: Well it’s too dear for our pockets, but it was reduced from $57 to $50 at BC Liquor and we ended up with a bottle fortuitously.

Market Liquidity: Glenn Gould called Bach’s Italian Concerto “Bach for people who don’t like Bach.”  That was sort of our reaction here; cru Beaujolais for those who don’t like CB.

September 24, 2020

Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir, 2017

We received our annual case from the vineyard and thought we should “finish up” last year’s remnants to avoid any confusion (!).

Of two bottles in a mixed case we had the first last December.  Our review, here, was of a take it or leave it nature, unimpressed and let down.  So, on first sip of this second bottle, nearly a year later, much of the same, nonplussed.  Pretty ho-hum.

But, sip after sip, this wine popped.  Big time.  I was resentful on the last half glass, resentful the bottle was empty I mean.  And, I was pissed off at our December post last year; we drank it too soon.

Woodsy and herbaceous, some spicy cinnamon, juicy gobs of cherry, time and air bringing to life a really evocative PN.  The filbert finish a touching denouement on a classic Okanagan PN.  Not a whiff of the coconut we made note of on the previous bottle.  Time and air, Hugh Johnson has waxed poetic on how time and air can alter wine. Amazing.

Price: $35 from the vineyard in 2019.

Market Liquidity: A series of fortunate events sips.

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September 18, 2020

Domaine de Ferrand Cotes-de-Rhone “Cuvee Antique”, 2018

The other night we were supporting our local bistro, Les Faux, when I noticed on the chalkboard they were featuring the Ferrand Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  At $130 a bottle.  We opted for a more basic Cotes-du-Rhone.  And, when the Ferrand release came into Marquis earlier this year, we did the same.

The “antique” is about as base model as you can get from Ferrand, but even a Toyota Corolla goes forwards and backwards and stops when you brake.  It ain’t no Lexus but it absolutely has enormous utility.  If there is a fault, it’s much too easy to drink in 2020.  Gentler woodsy/dusty notes than some Rhone blends, restrained fruit, a hot lick of pepper, and a lovely cherry on the finish.  Concrete not filtered but, you know, refined.  Very Grenache Forward.

Jeb Dunnuck said it has loads of charm.  Yes.  Loads of charm.  And at $15 less than equivalent blends in BC’s Okanagan (from vines half a century younger) it has thrift to boot.  Go Cotes-du-Rhone.

Price: $34 before a modest discount for a half case at Marquis.

Market Liquidity: Like a scene stealing cameo in a film littered with stars.

August 31, 2020

Culmina No 0006 Unfiltered “Jeunes Vignes” Malbec, 2016

Astonishing. 

First of all, Malbec is not what most people think of, gravitate towards, or intentionally set out to buy when they want a BC red.  Then to discover that not only is this wine phenomenally tasty, lip smackingly appealing on the palate, and reasonably food friendly, and a Malbec, my gosh, sleeper of the summer.

You could drink this melancholy, listening to Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou play The Homeless Wanderer.

Or, you could drink this toasted, to the garage rock sounds of Chevrolet Van by the Nude Party. It swings either way.

Or you may search high and low trying to source a bottle, and come up empty handed, and that’s how it goes with a lot of evocative BC wines.  The search, I would suggest, is worth the effort.  Two bottles of this will cost you about the same as one bottle of Hypothesis from a private Vancouver wine retailer, and might give you twice the pleasure.  It is certainly a social red, not overtly endearing like Merlot but with just enough edge in the structure to lend a curiosity and oomph.

Price: $29 from the vineyard.  Get it by the half case.

Market Liquidity: An everyday red that drinks like something meant to impress.

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August 31, 2020

Culmina Cabernet Franc, 2014

$38 is too much money for this wine. 

The pointsters will rarely write something so baldly true but it’s true.  I mean you can spend $1500 on a French CF at BC Liquor, if that sort of cash is burning a hole in your wallet.  But CF is something we have, in BC, in relative abundance.  There is plenty of wholly palatable non-plonk under $30.  And $38 is the vineyard price.  You will pay more at the VQA stores in YVR (if you can find it).

A big chunk of this blog isn’t to weigh in, pointster style, on how wonderful wine is, how true to the varietal, or not.  We have given ourselves over to the vice.  Wine we have decided is wonderful at 89 points or 92.  Most of our comment is to think of the after cash money we have to spend on wine, the exorbitant prices we pay for wine in BC, and then to look at value, per sip, per meal, and unlike the Robert Parkers of the world, with comp bottles and label mania, we basically come down to utility and satisfaction.

It’s a wonderful bottle.  It’s just at least $10 too much. 

Price: I think I mentioned it?  (And last time I did intentionally shop for a BC CF, Seven Stones, Tinhorn, Black Sage and quite a few other totally acceptable and very tasty CF’s were less; markedly so.)

Market Liquidity: The loveliness was diminished by the price tag.

August 13, 2020

Laughing Stock Vineyards Blind Trust, 2017

You can’t go wrong with this local, under-$30 red blend (just don’t get us started on the insufferable LFNG labels…).  The pour is immediately appealing.  Robust in the heavy alcoholic sense, and whereas in Bordeaux a blend might top out between 12.5 and 13%, this is a hefty 14.4.  But, hey, it’s enormously likeable, food friendly and a stunning sipper.

Although mostly Merlot, it drinks like a Cab Sauv Cab Franc blend as much as anything.  Very fruity, overripe blackberries, easy on the oak, and a deep, luscious finish that’s like an espresso crema.

And all this for $30.  Huzzah.

Price: $29 at indie liquor stores.

Market Liquidity: Pink gets the Party Started; this blend will take it home.

August 13, 2020

Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz, 2016

Gosh, for a blog that brags about being anti-pointster, we sure do seem on a point-driven jag.  92 it is.

Is it good wine?  Yes.  Is it good Shiraz? Yes; fruity, licorice, earthy, “all the usuals” if you will.  Truly, a typical and satisfying Oz Shiraz.  But: Is it ludicrously over the top alcoholic?  Yes, oh god yes.  14.9% but with the wine version of a humidex it could be Port.  There is something Hummer-ish about it’s headstrong attack and something equally leaden about the finish.  Demonstrative and then some.  Delicious, just a little weighted down.  It’s a one off for us.

Price: An extremely reasonably $27 at BC Liquor.

Market Liquidity: Think Great Expectations (as opposed to A Christmas Carol; both “92-point stories,” one just able to be bright and light and satisfying without the slog).

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.

August 13, 2020

Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon, 2015

From the cellar: The 2017 can be found around town, so I’m guessing we’ve had this kicking around for a couple of years. 

Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of posts for Chinon on the blog.  Not sure why, we gravitate towards the leather, gamey top notes of a decent Cab Franc, and this doesn’t disappoint.  A very juicy, black currant and lightly aromatic spice on the finish.  Crazy tannins considering the lie down.  Lovely with food, perfect with food, a little “loose” on the palate as a sipper.

Price: Not sure when, but whatever date we bought it, low 20s before tax.

Market Liquidity: One of those wines unlikely to get high points but highly likely to satisfy.

July 29, 2020

Chateau de Laborde Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune En Cuillery, 2016

Chateau de Laborde Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune En Cuillery, 2016

Have you ever read a professional review where they say the wine has “tension”?  That’s this red.

 

We wanted to jump up and down: A red from Volnay under $50 in BC?  Shurely shome mishtake?

 

For us, it didn’t shine.  It was good Pinot.  The “delicate violet flower” was too delicate to last; it dissipated.  The “saffron notes” were, well, you know, not everyone likes saffron.  OK, the fruit was there, the fruit was there.  Yes, it was reasonably complex and interesting on the palate, but also ever so slightly bitter.  And the tension, the wine just seemed wound up, unrelenting.  Pinot, red Burgundy Pinot, the best of it floats, it’s mysterious and ethereal.  This had something of a thud.

 

Price: Marked down from $45 to $37.  So a score, if you will.

 

Market Liquidity: Too plebe for the high rollers, too generic for those on a splurge.