Archive for ‘Red Wine’

February 3, 2019

Haywire Canyonview Pinot Noir, 2014

We felt the 2013 Canyonview set the benchmark for Haywire, a house we more or less adore, but, um, the 2014 feels lost in the rush to make a splash in Decanter and wow us with spectacular whites.  Hey Haywire, don’t forget about this vintage, it’s your calling card.  It’s like the Ford Mustang: Introduced for Americans who wanted “stickshift action and room for four” it quickly became a ghost.

 

The 2014 vintage is meaty, funky, chewy, hefty.  It’s no Swan Lake in the Burgundy Pinot style.  Sure, it has the cache of the Haywire grey label wines and it’s pleasing but it is so definitely not the “ethereal thin juicy” Canyonview of last year.  So not.  We didn’t even get that tangy, eloquent acidity we loved in the 2013.

 

Price: A not unreasonable (for this echelon of red) $36.50 at Brewery Creek.

 

Market Liquidity: Fading from memory as we post.

February 3, 2019

Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc, 2016

Yeah, OK.  I mean what were you expecting?  It’s not a discovery Chinon style.  It’s a half decent Okanagan red en route to being, several vintages down the road, er, pretty good.  It’s very berry, fruity, raspberry, red currant and raisin forward, not musky or aromatic.  It lacked depth.  A little flat for us especially as (for Cab Franc) it seemed a little weak with meat and better as a sipper, Pinot Noir style.  Price point is good and for those “edging” into CF territory a decent introduction.

 

Price: $26 at Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: Only a notch above ho-hum.

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.

February 1, 2019

Haywire Free Form Red, 2015

So you know how Decanter, in their 100 most interesting wines of 2018 listed oh, I don’t know, one wine from BC?  Yeah, I think one wine.  And it was a white from Haywire (the Free Form).  So kudos to Haywire who seem to have just the right amount of hipster edge with their free form and concrete vats and grey label wonders.  If I run low on Haywire in the everyday cellar I get a bit antsy.  They really do have a magical touch.  Even though in the delicate white categories we actually prefer Sea Star, when it comes to the wonders of OK Sauv Blanc, say, or flat out stunning Pinot Gris, it’s Haywire hands down.

 

Given our bent, and the international hoopla, we tried the Free Form red. And it is everything you might expect from, say, the guys at Sedimentary Wines, the local distributor that has a rich array of natural wines to consider (and argue over) with friends.  In that category, I would probably pick up a COS or a Ch. Le Puy, which in the former are abrasively interesting and in the latter utterly accomplished.  There is no excitement in the Haywire.  It’s just, well, it’s just a free form red that drinks like so many other natural wines.  Yes, it’s a grey label Haywire, but aside from the price tag it’s unlikely to impress.

 

Price: A rather hefty $42.50 at Save-On; $39 at the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Too generic for its category.

January 19, 2019

Mission Hill Reserve Meritage, 2016

Over the last couple of months we’ve burned through a fair number of 90 or 90+ point Gismondi picks, not always that content with his attribution of points or how he arrived there.  And, in fact, another Mission Hill, their reserve Sauvignon Blanc, well we virtually tossed it into the risotto pot halfway done.  But on this bottle, their Meritage, AG is right on the money.  The only fault I could find was the heavy alcohol.

 

Meritage is that red wine people like after a couple of glasses of something else.  To be successful it has to be immediately pronounced, approachable and somehow meet the expectations of the hardline Cab Sauv types next to the softer Merlot snobs.  This blend checks every box.  It has some funky Cab Franc notes on the nose, the oak is pronounced but not Whac-A-Mole, and the third of Merlot gives it a velvet on the tongue finish with a few complex wet earth notes that linger deliciously.  For BC’s Okanagan, and at the price point and availability, something of a minor miracle.

 

Price: $27 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Bordeaux-ish.

January 17, 2019

La Frenz Reserve Pinot Noir, 2016

From our (very) mixed case of La Frenz in 2018 I would say the reserve Pinot not as appealing or satisfying as the less expensive Blue Mountain run of the mill (and we are halfway through our BM Pinot, loving every bottle).  We opened the La Frenz up as a sipper for the Globes and I don’t know, we had it lying down for several months and just expected more I guess.  While it doesn’t disappoint there is simply no wow.  The layers of flavour and degrees of nuance we anticipated were all there, but not strikingly so, and while it is jammy there is no mushroom or black olives as LF bills it.  The finish seemed alarmingly terse.

 

Price: You can fine it in private wine stores for around $40, or in the low 30s on release from the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Bronze.  At best.

December 30, 2018

Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014

If this turns out to be the last post of 2018 all I can say is we went out with a bomb.  Wowza.  This is some hugely satisfying red.  Powerhouse yes but no one two punch.  It’s all containment, structure, refinement, like a Mies van der Rohe modernist tower.  We were hard pressed to find any fault with its command, how it encompasses Cab Sauv without trying to impress.  Plain and simple awesome.

 

There are powerhouse BC reds in this price range, such as the Hypothesis (which we love) and stellar kin over at Mission Hill, Seven Stones, Vieux Pin and many others.  However, for the coin, nothing holds a candle.

 

Price: High 50s but with a case discount $50.  So, you know, not your Tuesday night red.

 

Market Liquidity: Restores your faith in Napa.

December 29, 2018

Nichol Pinot Noir, 2016

Too bright and cheery for this holiday season.  Like an inflatable Santa, it’s just not up to snuff.  Cross check it with some half decent Burgundy and this would be an embarrassment.

 

Too cherry to boot.  Acidic.  Tart.  A bit thin on top of all that.

 

Although we have a general fondness for Nichol (we return on a regular basis to the Cab Franc and Syrah and Pinot Gris), I would call this a failure on all fronts.  Not so Gismondi who said something like earthy, dusky, finessed and slapped it with 90 points.  Shurely shome mishtake?  Let’s support the home market by all means but when they bottle an 87 pointer, tops, let’s not give them a pass.

 

Price: Around $30 give or take depending on where you buy it and in what volume.

 

Market Liquidity: An imposter.

December 28, 2018

De Ley Rioja Gran Reserva 2010

Decanter described the explosion of coconut and hints of woodsmoke which pretty much is the money shot, that juicy forward tropical note with a backdrop of musky smoke.  And the LCBO, in Ontario, hit the nail on the head by selling this $30 cheaper than BC.  So there you go, the crime of drinking wine in BC.

 

If you aren’t an expert, if you don’t have a Master of Wine, if you don’t write for the Wine Advocate or Spectator or Decanter, you might be hard pressed to figure out Tempranillo with any exactness.  Sometimes cheap-ish Rioja from old vines and a respectable house turn out top notch plonk whereas the more expensive stuff doesn’t even sip with refinement.  Generally, it’s easy to weed out the crap Shiraz from the cellar selections.  We find Rioja all over the map.

 

Given that you can score great Spanish reds at half the price of the De Lay we’re hard-pressed to recommend it.  But if all that coin is burning a hole in your pocket, then by all means get six for a stag night.  It is heady, hearty and exuberantly generous on the palate.

 

Price: Around $47 at private wine shops in Vancouver.  But, as noted above, much cheaper in the real world beyond BC’s borders.

 

Market Liquidity: When spending half as much for wine that’s no better is just half as good.

December 23, 2018

Chateau Les Croiseille Calcaire, 2014

We had a selection of Gismondi picks for a week away, most of which one way or another proved disappointing, but this was definitely the highlight of the lot.  It’s not a grabber, I probably wouldn’t even offer it to guests, despite how wonderfully it opens up and the aromatic eucalyptus slash pepper awash in luscious fruit; no, this is more of a quiet night in wine, some leftover prime rib with vegetables, a glass to finish off, heck let’s skip dessert and just drink the whole bottle.

 

There is something very old school about it, I didn’t bother to search out the pointster reviews, but my hunch is that it’s a little pedestrian and not quite oak and maraschino forward-enough for the Robert Parker crowd.  A delectable 13% alcohol.

 

Price: $33 at BC Liquor, if you can find it.

 

Market Liquidity: When’s the last time you heard someone in BC order a glass of Cahors?  Nice change from New World.