Archive for ‘Spain’

June 26, 2020

Cune Cava Brut, NV

Cune Cava Brut

Thank you Marquis: A dry, palatable, superb summer sparkler, much more enticing than umpteen local rose offerings and some plain un-outstanding local fizz.  A most perfect mixing faux-champers, a dash of Campari or put a Spanish twist on an Aperol spritz.  Not too effervescent with some heady, yeasty, earthiness and a touch of shale.  Decent and then some.

 

Price: $27.75 at Marquis Cellars.

 

Market Liquidity: It may be a blow-up toddler’s pool next to the big guns, but it has all the summer fun you want to kick off the evening.

May 1, 2020

Indigena Pares Balta Organic Garnatxa, 2015

Indigena Pares Balta Organic Garnatxa, 2015

An organic Grenache (or Garnacha which, in parts of Spain, is a Garnatxa) and which drinks a tad sweet, quite floral, maybe a bit heavy on the oak, and that all sounds like bad news but somehow it comes together in a decent fashion, approachable, tasty.  Personally, not our go-to.  We were drinking this back to back with French Grenache where (in the best of circumstances) they nail it, none of the cloying sweetness, all of the minerality, but you could do much worse in BC at the price point.  In fact, I guarantee you will do much worse with BC reds at the price point.  (And look, a 2015 no less.)

 

Price: Around $30 at Kitsilano Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Opens nicely while you shelter in place.

March 27, 2020

Faustino I Gran Reserva Rioja, 2001

Faustino I Gran Reserva Rioja, 2001

It’s the end of the world as we know it.  Better make the best of it.

 

Was this better than the 2006 we so eagerly sipped over the holidays?  No.  It wasn’t.  The 2006 was better.  Was the 2001 good?  Oh, Jesus, Joseph and Mary: Heavenly.

 

This was as warm and cozy as lolling on a [faux] bearskin in front of the fire, I see movies set in the Alps with fondue on the table and apres-ski soft core sex.  Deeply satisfying.  Lovely.  But, I should add, it just wasn’t quite as hardcore, as explosive, as the 2006.  Despite the price.

 

So there you go. Two delectable poisons, both superb, just one finished .01 hundredths of a second later and takes silver.

 

Price: Expensive.  Like over $60 before tax.  But you know what?  It’s the end of the world as we know it.

 

Market Liquidity: If you have any liquidity left in the market, buy wine.

January 3, 2020

Faustino Gran Reserva Rioja, 2006

Faustino Gran Reserva Rioja, 2006

Look what Santa brought down the chimney? A very old bottle of Tempranillo.

 

A beautiful wine, quite up front, luscious on the palate with pronounced and perhaps a too assertive woodiness, gorgeous depth and nuanced on every sip.  It drank spectacularly but not cohesively with food.  It shone just on its own.  And it shone like a beacon.

 

Decanter gave it 95 and I think Gismondi 93, but aside from the points let’s just ask a few simple questions.  First, Clos de Soleil: The Signature is a little more, the Reserve Red $15 more.  Over at Culmina?  Their flagship Hypothesis is well above asking.  Blue Mountain has overpriced their reds this year putting a simple Reserve Pinot into the stratosphere.  It goes on and on across BC.  In short, for under $40, you can drink a 15-year-old majestic Rioja, made with love and passion and shipped to BC and marked up beyond belief, or you can spend more, and lay something down, and wait.  And wait.

 

Here is something endearing from a bad translation on the bottle: “The best Tempranillo grape [sic]…a long stay in bottle and passion, a lot of passion.”

 

Price: $38 at BC Liquor if you can source it.

 

Market Liquidity: I don’t know about “in the bottle and passion” combined, but it is swoon-worthy.

 

December 2, 2019

Costers Del Priorat Pissarres, 2016

Costers Del Priorat Pissarres, 2016

There are better ways to spend $40.  Like, maybe, two bottles of wine.

 

Sometimes, you just want the prune-juice weight and slippery minerality of Priorat, what I often consider Spain’s Bordeaux blend.  And I suppose the Pissarres half delivers; it opens up nicely, a few herbal notes with air and time, but it’s not impressive, it is expensive, and it was only so-so with a basic beef stew.  There is something very young about the 2016, something less than multilayered, which leads me to believe it will never fully bloom the way so many other options at BCL will, although a reviewer said it would hold for a decade.  Pass.  I would recommend you pick up a decent Grenache, at $10 less a bottle, and double your satisfaction–tomorrow night.

 

Price: Regularly $38 before onerous taxes, recently on sale for $35 at BCL.

 

Market Liquidity: Too much outlay for too little return.

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

February 26, 2019

El Pacto Rioja, 2016

Everything you want in a Rioja at about the price you want to pay for a Rioja.  Drinks like something more expensive, silky tannins, assertive structure, decent fruit, some nice dark hints of charcoal and chocolate; full bodied but not flabby.  Food friendly, a decent sipper, and a lovely label to boot.  There will be multiples down the road.

 

Price: $30 at Kitsilano Wine Cellar

 

Market Liquidity: Surrender to the old school finesse.

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.

November 4, 2018

Enebral Tinta de Toro, 2015

James Suckling described this as tasting of ivy and forest floor.  Say what?  There is pronounced vanilla, a smoothness that is as deceptive as black ice, giant tannins and gobs of plummy, jammy fruit.  We didn’t get the tightness Robert Parker alluded to but we do agree a dozen in the cellar will pay huge dividends.  At the price it’s a slam dunk and exceptional in more ways than it’s worth describing.  Buy now, buy lots; the holidays will be upon is in weeks.

 

Price: An astonishing $23 at Everything Wine

 

Market Liquidity: A case for the wedding.  Or just to drink on Tuesday nights.

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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