Archive for ‘Red Wine’

October 16, 2019

Burrowing Owl Merlot, 2017

Burrowing Owl Merlot 2017

As we slowly get through the annual case from BOwl, the gentleness of the lot, so far, seems almost middle-aged in their motivation; the wines have a quietness and reserve that drink positively assured and without pretense but also, how can I put it, somewhat low energy.

 

We were goo goo ga ga over the 2010, see here (and, honestly, I don’t think we ever went back for more over the last X years…).  The 2017 Merlot is like the Palmolive ad with Madge the manicurist, calming her clients on the mildness of the liquid; “relax,” BOwl seems to say, “it’s Merlot.”  True, this is not a jump up and down red.  A very, very mild-mannered red.  The most exciting moment is the burst of tayberry with gobs of vanilla followed by a hint of mint.  A tad grassy on the finish.  It did not have the legs for braised short ribs (which were braised in red wine and porcini mushrooms and were not, say, chipotle strong or overly complex), but was a sensational sipper.

 

Price: A modest $32 at the vineyard.  Much more in local shops.

 

Market Liquidity: Dick Cavett-y (extremely competent, ridiculously low-key).

madge the manicurist

October 7, 2019

Chateau de Pierreux Brouilly, 2016

Chateau de Pierreux Brouilly, 2017

Ernest Ice Cream could market this; coconut, cherry, vanilla soda.  Without the fizz of course.  Pops of light, lively flavour tied down with a finish that seems grounded in terroir.

 

Martin Short’s brilliant song about the spectrum of sexuality on season three of Big Mouth got us thinking about how varied the cru Beaujolais wines are.  Seriously.  That was the trajectory.

 

You can almost make them fit into the slew of the song’s androsexuals, polysexuals and demisexuals.

 

The more cis gendered of the lot are, you know, Morgon, Chenas, those “guys.”  They assert themselves with their earthiness and spice.  I’m sure there’s Morgon plonk to spare, but in my limited experience I’ve never had a Morgon that didn’t taste like a Morgon.  Soooooo predicable.

 

But St. Amour, what’s that except love in a bottle?  Who could celebrate Valentine’s without a glass?  It’s undefinable.  And Fleurie, is it a teen at  prom giving his date a bouquet or (non-heteronormative neosexual) nymphs frolicking in a meadow?  It’s a yin and yang of sexual possibility.

 

Brouilly, which often blends Gamay (should that even be allowed? Do we need to write to the AOC?) is the sort of hybrid bisexual of the lot.  A little bit this, a little that.  Personally, Brouilly is less “reliable” than some of the other Beaus, if you will; it can stun, it can soothe, it can stumble.  Here in BC, you will often land upon the latter.

 

This bottle (not expensive, easily obtainable) is definitely a stunner.  I was a little put off that Gismondi reviewed it (the price will probably go up now) and then mentioned it again as a midweek option (it will probably sell out now) but there you go.  Nothing can remain a hidden gem forever.  Try it; see if it will transcend your boundaries.

 

Price: $20 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: It’s on the spectrum baby.

Martin Short on Big Mouth.png

October 3, 2019

Zuccardi Q Malbec, 2016

zuccardi Q malbec 2016

Malbec is not our thing (in a major way).  And this Malbec, despite its serious points credential (witness the proudly displayed Robert Parker seal of approval), is really not our cup of tea.  There’s a line in the sitcom Difficult People where they tell an embarrassing story about Arthur, the PBS WASP drone husband of Julie, that one time he ordered a Malbec. Laugh if you get it I guess.

 

But here’s the rub: Zuccardi makes some good wines and this wine is ludicrously food friendly.  The Q series is not top of the line Zuccardi but we’ve had it several times with different foods and while it’s not a star varietal it has a blank canvas food friendly aspect which never ceases to surprise.  There is no supercharged oak.  We drank it this week with Japanese beef stew, heavy in ginger, Mirin, squash, soy and stock.  It was ideal.  Who would of thunk?  But a bit dull as a sipper.

 

Price: A reasonable $28 at private wine shops, give or take.

 

Market Liquidity: Leonard Zelig-esque.

 

Oh and a link here to our over-the-top Zuccardi tasting night in Buenos Aires, a few years back, at El Baqueno.

arthur tack difficult people

Arthur Tack has a drinkypoo

August 25, 2019

GD Vajra Barbera D’Alba, 2016

GC Vajra Barbera D’Alba, 2016

Pizza for dinner.  Home-made thin crust with Oyama chorizo.  Didn’t want a “special” wine that would shout “hey, I’m better than pizza” or something too plonk-y and brash.  Happened upon a reasonably priced bottle of Vajda (which, to be fair, hits the stratosphere in some varietals).  And wow.  What a spectacular pair.  All the heft and strength you need with tomato sauce but none of the rough edges.  Deeply evocative of Barbera, fruity, currant and red berry top notes with a muscular, sinewy finish that sips wonderfully then crushes it at the dinner table. The oak is milder than an Irish backstop.

 

The last time we bought this wine (post here, March 2017), a 2013 vintage, we had a similar reaction: Superb with food, why don’t we drink this all the time?

 

Same day we corked this beauty a friend sent me a wonderful label, shown below, which pretty much nails it: We want to drink good wine with food.  We don’t want it to fuck up the taste of our cheeseburger.  Note to Robert P: We want to drink wine with food.  How about a 10 point system that starts at 86 and rates wine with food?

 

Price: $34 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Love at first bite.

cheeseburger

August 23, 2019

Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013

Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013

Great to return to a wine you loved and find you still love it.  Pretty much everything we liked and wrote about from a cellared bottle here, from a vintage a few years back, still stands.  Coconut, chocolate, cherry, delectable through and through.  Luscious and then some.  Score.  At the end of the bottle you will feel like you’ve bench pressed 220.

 

Do you know you can score this for $30 in a private wine store?  Then get 10% off if you buy six?  And be paying less for a miraculous red than an everyday BC white?  It’s a miracle.  It’s a shame, but it’s a miracle. Oh Margaret River, marry me.

 

Price: See above.

 

Market Liquidity: Yes, it is a miracle.

August 23, 2019

Mission Hill Reserve Meritage, 2017

Mission Hill Reserve Meritage, 2017

We simply couldn’t abide this heavy, too sweet and cloying red blend which scored 89 from Anthony Gismondi (something of an MH acolyte) and 91 by Christopher Waters.  It is certainly drinkable, ok, yes, it’s smooth like marshmallow, but it is decidedly not pleasant, not in a heavy, funky southern Rhone way or a light, perfumed, Burgundy way.  There is fruit, lottsa fruit, and a silky-on-the-palate texture with an OK finish but we found it lacked the complexity, woody notes and interest the reviews found laudable.

 

Price: $27 at Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: To each their own.

August 13, 2019

Latido di Sara Wild Garnacha, 2016

Latido di Sara Wild Garnacha, 2016

From the wilds of Navarra.  I guess.

 

Raspberry bomb.  Thwack.  Think Don Martin Mad Magazine spladap, shtoink, bukkida bakkida, ba-bomb.  Raspberry bomb. Headstrong to the point of unpleasant.

 

OK: I’m sure this is a lovely wine, much loved by many.   Old vines.  Even-handed medium body.  Soupcon of oak.  Little shake of pepper on the palate.  Quite sweet (maybe a little too sweet).  But omigosh is it not our cup of tea; it’s headstrong fruit like a medicinal ruse, very linear, not much to rave about other than the price.

 

Price: An extremely reasonable $20 at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Pwang, splitch, dadunk.

Don Martin

August 7, 2019

Viña Cobos Felino Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016

Vina Cobos Felino Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016

First, the 92 points are from James Suckling.  Not sure why, but I’m never on the same page as Suckling (or, put another way, “who cares about the points?”).  So that wasn’t the draw.  But the price was a draw; $28 reduced to $24.  Yes and yes.  And in the end, a lovely purchase.  Medium for a Cab Sauv, it wasn’t even really majestic with red meat in that Ridge Caymus Jordan way, that left jab right hook in the style of the California heavyweights.  And at 13.5%, how wonderful to be so wonderful.  Dark fruits/fruitcake fruits, charcoal chocolate, and then some tannins to make you pucker.  A great sipper.

 

Price: $24 at Everything Wine.  (By the way, their Malbec reviewed here was a non-starter for us.)

 

Market Liquidity: Value, verbatim.

August 7, 2019

Nichol Syrah, 2016

Nichol Syrah 2016

It’s been seven years since we’ve posted on the Nichol Syrah (!) which, seven years ago (2009 vintage), was something of a lovely treat.  The Nichol old vines are now, I guess, really old.  We were anticipating the current offering to have some wow, some heavy authenticity, but were quickly disabused of that notion.  In 2012 we wrote “a most fine red” but for the current vintage on the shelves it’s an OK Syrah, a “most usual red” if you will, spicy, fruity, a tad too light without being lively, heavy on the cherry juice, and not overtly food friendly.  The acid tends toward aggressive and not in a pleasant fashion, not even for those who gravitate (as is the trend) toward top heavy acidity.  Still, not much more on the pocketbook than so many years back, so that’s a plus.

 

Price: $33 at private wine stores.

 

Market Liquidity: Hope springs eternal. Just not always in the Okanagan.

July 10, 2019

Drinking Wine in Italy

After a month in Italy there is nothing much to do except complain (again, more) about wine in BC.  The sheer misery of the options, the insane cost, the supply chain to the hospitality industry, and on and on.

 

What’s VAT in Italy?  22%.  Twenty-two per-cent.  And yet, and yet you can pick up phenomenal local wine for 12 Euros (approximately $18 CDN).  Wine at a restaurant, really lovely drinkable wine ins the 14-18 Euros category.  We found in Puglia that if you wanted to shell out the very grand amount of 20 Euros you were heading into 92 pointster categories.  It was wow and wow and more wow and easy, easy, easy on the pocket book.

 

In the above (random) collage (much edited) I’ve pasted the two most expensive bottles at top that we decided to try along the way.  The Michele Calo Spano Salento Rosso, which retails for close to 40 Euros, we scored for 35.  It was excellent, absolutely hands down the best Negroamaro we drank (and we drank a lot) although given what’s available in the region it defied type; it seemed almost Californian in its clean modernity, the lack of acidity;, the abundance of fruit but without supreme depth made it seem a little too Robert Parker for us.  As for liquor board controlled buying, I would say both BC and Ontario fail the consumer when it comes to Negroamaro. Fail.

 

Next to that you’re looking at a (random sample) of a truly wonderful local Primitivo, the Schola Sarmenti Cubardi Primitivo.  At the wine store 12 Euros, in a restaurant we scored if for 22.  And it was just all awesome; oodles of cherry and smoke and chicory and herby notes that define terroir.  We’ve had the decent bottle or two of Primitivo in BC but nothing like the Cubardi range (for which there are a number of varietals and all are worth a sample).  As for liquor board controlled buying, Ontario does a decent job with Primitivo; BC, however, is again a fail.  In London (UK) you can find this monumentally satisfying red for 15 pounds (or less than $30 CDN) which is just ludicrous.  What Okanagan plonk can a Canadian score in BC, taxes all in, under $30?

 

Lower left is a wine from a local masseria, the L’Astore Alberelli Negroamaro.  Organic.  Old vines.  High in alcohol and not cheap and not easy to access, even in Lecce, but we found it, and we loved it, and we wanted more, and couldn’t get it, and that of course led to me on another BC wine rant.  This was a juicier, rounder, plumper Negroamaro with tannins that sat up against red fruits with a challenge.  Outstandingly food friendly, from stuffed zucchini blossoms to ragu orecchiette.

 

The whites down south were hit and miss.  With temperatures in the mid to high 30s they needed to be cold, and outside they warmed up too quickly.  (A red, however, refrigerated briefly, then served al fresco, that worked a dream.)  Having said that, it was easy to access Friulano.  Welcome to my newest favorite varietal.  Full, assertive, nuanced, fleshy, like ripe nectarine juice running down your chin.  Gorgeous with southern Italian cuisine.  The Doro Princic is a relatively inexpensive white, 14 Euros, with  nothing going against it except availability.  Ontario and BC, our largest socialist fueled wine buyers, how ya doin’ with Friulano?  Two and one.  Fail and fail.

 

The last wine, also a pricey bottle, is from the Bastianich vineyard, deep down in the heel.  And, if truth be told, the only reason I bought it was because of, you know, Lidia and Joe and how pompous Joe comes off on TV and how full of himself in respect to their wine he is which they “personally oversee” in Puglia and so on.  They have a base model Friulano but in for a penny we got the Plus, a whopping 30 Euros (but, let’s be fair, that’s $45 CDN and plenty of BC top wines are more than that before onerous taxes).  Gorgeous.  Speechless I am in its appeal, from aroma to palate; the proverbial nectar from the gods.  So, here I’m going to compare it with top whites from, you know, Culmina, Clos de Soleil, Meyer, and all I can say is they are lost in the dust (or, as things go in Europe, the diesel particulate).  But so is BC when it comes to choice, diversity, and consumer appetites.

 

What’s next BC Liquor?  One white and one red from a spigot?  BC Liquor: It’s a fail, Herculaneum Pompeii style fail.