Archive for ‘Spain’

November 6, 2017

Vina Eguia Rioja Reserva, 2011

Yeah.  So.  Not Rioja’s finest hour.  It’s a close but no cigar vintage.  We did not find it elegant or balanced or rounded, as promised.  We found it a bit uneven, with a vanilla that’s at the fore (and not in a good way) and a softness to the fruit that was decent and palatable but not memorable.

 

You can find this in the US for $12 a bottle.  A steal.  You can buy this in Saskatchewan for $18.  Very good value.  But at nearly $30 in BC with tax it’s like fruit past its prime.

 

Price: $26 plus at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

 

Market Liquidity: Polka dots and plaid.

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October 13, 2017

Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat, 2016

2016. Really. Really?  Really.  2016.  I mean how is it that a 2016 can be this good?

 

A Grenache heavy blend that begs to be shared and savoured amongst friends.  Close friends mind you; don’t waste it on the B-52/Cosmo/Mojito crowd.

 

Ooh la la.  Onyx cherry.  Overtly maraschino.  An alcoholic splendour.  Velveeta smooth. It sipped like manna from heaven although the 14.5% alcohol didn’t shine with dinner, as was a bit too young.  Impossible to say whether this had ten years left to improve and mellow or whether I should get a case and just burn through it all by Christmas?

 

Price: A rather hefty but deservedly $43, give or take, at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: Ridiculously sublime. Think Charlie Chaplin climbing the curtains in The Great Dictator.

October 12, 2017

Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva, 2012

The reds we like, the reds that really shine without breaking the bank, have slowly moved into a break the bank category: More and more we’re shelling out $28-42 for a bottle to really bow down to.  And of course enjoy on a Tuesday night.

 

Having said that, it’s important to remember that drinkable (if somewhat forgettable) and totally decent everyday reds at or just under the $20 mark are still out there.  Hard to find in BC (and in my view it’s like playing the slots, you spend $100 on five bottles to find one keeper, whereas you could have 2.5 totally extremely gratifying at that price, no loss…)  The Campo Viejo comes in a totally palatable Tempranillo and a food friendly reserva, both under $20 before tax.  Do I hear “open bar” anyone?  How about, even, a palatable house wine under $40?

 

If you like the classic plummy peppery vanilla oak that Robert Parker does, you can’t go wrong with the reserva.  It’s like a lesser version of those monumental Napa reds he scores in the 94 point range, without the lingering depth or interest, but certainly with the same flavour profile.

 

Price: $18.50 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Like a mediocre SNL impersonation it hits the mark, but barely.

August 10, 2017

NV Poema Cava Brut

So this is the sort of wine we don’t bother blogging about, which is why the blog goes dead a lot of the time; we’re non-plussed or looting the cellar for gems already posted.  The Poema is in fact the proverbial 86 pointer for the pointsters.  The fizz is moderate, the dry is sere, the depth pretty much nonexistent.  But here’s something the 86 point reviews don’t mention: It’s a perfect backdrop for something else.

 

We are always looking for a neutral fizz to fix champagne cocktails with; nothing too sweet or yeasty.  This fits the bill to a tee; add cassis, Campari, OJ, do something fancier.  I mean it’s criminal to doctor Champagne.  Cava though?  Bring it on.  The Poema, solitary, neat if you will, it’s sort of a letdown.  But for a social occasion as a fancy aperitif, it works a charm.

 

Price: Less than $20 at private wine stores.  Yes, that’s correct, less than $20.

 

Market Liquidity: Sometimes you need the function, not the form.

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July 24, 2017

CVNE Rioja Reserva, 2012 & CVNE Rioja Crianza, 2012

The best tasting, best drinking red wine in its class, the best red wine under $40 in BC, period.  And, I might add, much better than many BC reds up to half the price more.  We have held off posting until assured there was no more to be found in the Lower Mainland.  Joking.  Half joking.

 

Marquis had a superb pre-offer at, with tax, $25 for the Crianza and $36 for the reserve.  We bought a lot.  We went back for more.  Marquis was sold out.  We sourced it at Everything Wine.  We bought a lot.  We went back for more.  EW was sold out.  We sourced it at Kits Wine Cellar.  We bought a lot.  We went back for more.  KWC was sold out.

 

On the plus side, maybe we were the only ones smart enough to buy up this wine?  I don’t think I’ve drunk, and stashed away, so much of one bottle as I have of this year’s CVNE release.  (The Monopole was similarly outstanding if slightly less impressive.)

 

These reds are the most comforting, smooth, rich and concentrated blends you can get at such a reasonable price point.  But price be damned, they are just really good tempranillos.  The Wine Spectator said the Reserva has depth and intensity and gave it 93 points.  (Can you imagine a BC red getting 93 points and going on sale for less than $40?).  That’s a fair summation.  But it’s also just plain likable in the most approachable and delectable way.  As you can see from the group picture, we simply can’t get enough.

 

The Crianza is, yes, lesser, but only by a margin so slim it could be a BC election; and what a wonderful sipper still, and just gorgeous to share at dinner without breaking the bank.  The WS gave it 91 points.  And in Ontario you can buy it with change from a $20.  In BC we have to cough up more and it sells out quicker but let’s give a shout out to Rioja.

 

Price: See above.

 

Market Liquidity: These Riojas remind me of that Hugh Johnson quote that wine is a marriage of nature and aesthetics.  To which I think he meant what is real and beautiful.  Because these babies are real beautiful.

April 11, 2017

CVNE Monopole Rioja Blanco, 2015

Nothing about this wine, drinking it, no words sound good: Assertive.  Astringent. Metallic.  And yet it is nothing but pure pleasure; nutty and lemony and complex.  It is bottled sunshine.  There is nothing so striking as a bold, balanced, boisterous Rioja Blanco.  There is something so sensationally Spanish about it, somewhere between Sauvignon Blanc and Sherry.  Of course it bears the “golden ticket” of 90 points on its collar, which is a bugbear, but nevertheless…

 

Price: $22 at Marquis, and worth every cent.

 

Market Liquidity: When pointster and anti-pointster see eye to eye.

March 14, 2017

Bodegas Sommos Glárima Blanco Roble, 2014

Extremely aromatic: soft, floral notes, cinnamon and clove, vanilla, guava, pineapple and a menacing minerality.

 

Although we had no expectations we were hoping for slightly less “fruit affrontry,” a little more acid, and a refreshing zesty finish, not a Jolly Rancher-esque palate blaster.

 

The Portuguese can pull off pork and clams, the Greek can marry feta on fish, but the Spanish have a long way to go to balance Chardonnay with Gewürztraminer, at least if the Glarima is anything to go by.

 

Price: A reasonable $20 at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Stale potpourri.

February 16, 2017

Sierra Cantabria Rioja, 2011

sierra-cantabria-rioja-2011

Ever taste wine with friends, take notes, compare them, and find that what one person found heavy and tannic another found fruity and light?  Or, more typically, buy wine specifically because of the reviewer’s blurb—only to be wholly let down?  This is that experience in a nutshell.

 

Here’s the professional review: “…dense, rich red cherry and liquorice aromas…sour cherry, coffee and nutmeg notes and the oak is fully integrated.”

 

We just couldn’t get past the flatness of it, the one note, a very tepid Tempranillo, immediately forgettable.  Not cheap either.  And this was after our splurge on D’Orrance a few weeks back based on a stellar review which was a match made in heaven.  So it goes.

 

Price: $30 at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Hugh Johnson called Sierra Cantabria “drinkable and good” and I’ll give it that.

February 6, 2017

Finca 10 Rioja, 2014

finca-10-rioja-2014

The epitome of cheap and cheerful.  A wonderful Wednesday red.  Fruity, approachable, marginally tannic.  Maraschino syrup against a light peppery bite; think grenadine mixed with Chartreuse.  No weight, feather light for a Tempranillo, and as weak on the nose as the palate and the finish.  But food friendly in a big way and welcome (and warming) during this incredibly long and frigid winter.

 

Price: Regularly $16.99, but on sale at Everything Wine for an astonishing $12.99.  Thanks you EW.

 

Market Liquidity: A bird in the hand.

February 6, 2017

Proyecto La Garnacha Salvaje del Moncayo, 2014

proyecto-la-garnacha-salvaje-del-moncayo-2014

Highly recommended by the wine store staff, hugely disappointing at the dinner table.  Which is too bad because, generally speaking, Spanish Grenache (Garnacha) is among the most reasonable of reds, price wise, in the province.

 

Fermented raspberry juice with  a tart cherry top note and a smoky finish which we found not remotely appealing.  A recommended red at a pretty reasonable price it was juicy without complexity and full bodied without interest.  There was an unevenness on the palate, flesh, skin, pith of the fruit, sweet and sour, and, to top it off, awkward with food.

 

Price: A reasonable $22 at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Win some, lose some.