Archive for ‘Spain’

December 20, 2021

Battle of the Vintage Riojas: Sierra Cantabria San Vicente 2008 vs. CVNE Reserva, 2012

From the cellar: This time of year, the “season” if you will, is a good excuse to dig up some gems.

The 2008 San Vicente was a “significant birthday” birthday gift, and a great gift at that.  What a wine (despite the dry cork: Hey BC wine sellers, how about some lie down?!!).  Each sip delectable. I heard a background soundtrack of oohs and aahs and very contented sighs Wimbledon-esque, the quiet at the dinner table when everyone digs into a satisfying spread, Terrence Malick-ian lyrical.

Dark, dark, dark; squid ink.  Prune, prominent prune and plum and a few other dried stone fruits on the attack.  There are points on the palate like mince tart (not the UK mince, lest a UK reader mistake me), but sweet and lingering and as if topped with a dollop of thick rich cream.  A deep earthiness on the finish.  Very hard to place this.  Just plain wowza.

We didn’t drink it all in one go and I would say that the second day (although properly “vacu-sealed”) it lost a little glamour.

The CVNE Reserva (not the Gran Reserva, which on occasion we’ve posted about) as expected was admiral.  But it drank like Tempranillo.  I think even the modestly knowledgeable wine afficionado could blind it as Rioja and be much less likely to do so with the San Vicente.  It was good in the typical sense; take the varietal, make an excellent wine, and then bottle it.  A most magnificent sipper, velvet, bouquets of violet, full on the palate.  In 2017, when we first posted about this wine, we paraphrased Hugh Johnson’s quote about wine as a marriage of nature and aesthetics.  True to form this vintage has softened over the last few years and warranted a lot of drinking pleasure.

I am not sure we’ve ever drunk a dud from CVNE/CUNE.

In brief: End of year score.

Price: The 2012 we purchased from Marquis in 2017 for $31.21 before tax, so obviously a score, likely part of a mixed case.  The San Vicente, although gifted, can be found at Kits Wine Cellar for nearly $80.

Market Liquidity: To be absolutely, unequivocally a broken record, we will say it yet again: There is no better red wine value in BC than Spanish Rioja.  Your dollar just goes way, way further, vintage or not.

Tags:
June 18, 2021

CVNE Gran Reserva Rioja, 2013

From the cellar: Is this the best kept secret in Vancouver?  In the middle of a pandemic we walked into a private wine store and bought a seven year old bottle of Rioja.  As part of a mixed half case they gave us a 10% discount.  And a year later, when we got around to popping the cork, it was fireworks.

Now for the savvy, 2013 was not a good year, if years are your primary concern.  It’s not a bottle to hold, it’s a drink now (the 2015 to current vintages are your cellar picks).  And yet it rolled onto the tongue like Diana’s silk-taffeta train in St. Paul’s, lingering, impressive, gorgeous.  Robert Parker thought it light and I would agree that comparatively, back to back Tempranillos, yes.  But somehow it was light in an invigorating and inviting way.  It drank with a mellow oak, a clove slash star anise undercurrent, and restrained fruits.

Price: $40 after the discount in May, 2020.

Market Liquidity: A whole lotta satisfaction.

May 13, 2021

Envinate Palo Blanco, 2018

Woodsy, walk in the dewy woods, if you will, dampness and pungent, sour, acidic, and heavy, like an earthen pot; and look at the glass, that mellow amber hue.  This is the Yin to, say, an ethereal Alsace white Yang.  And it is novel; pretty much unlike any white you’ll have in the cellar.  I will admit it’s the first Listan Blanco that I’ve searched out.

Over at the Wine Advocate they raved, gave it 97 points, and perhaps in its class (a unique and individual class, like a wire haired Ibizan Hound), it soars.  We couldn’t get past the novelty of it all.  I write that both positive and negative, yin and yang.  The WA used the term “rock juice” which is both accurate and the first time I’ve ever seen a pointster use the phrase in print.

Just as a relevant sidebar: Up at Okanagan Crush Pad they are (in our view) extremely hit and miss, but never do they rest on their laurels.  There is no repetitive “Wolf Blass minimize the vintage variation” at OCP.  And right now they have a Vin Gris which, rather than Pinot Gris, is a Pinot Noir treated as if a white wine.  And it’s novel.  Also earthy, funky, unusual, appealing, and complex.  And half the price of the Blanco.  So if novelty is your thing, you don’t need to travel halfway round the globe to sample the Canarias.

As you reach for the stars with wine, if you are willing to shell out the big bucks, novelty is of course a thing.  Gary Shteyngart can’t stop buying watches, not that he needs another watch.  And we can’t stop buying wine, not that we need another bottle, the cellars (yes, plural), are brimming.  To say nothing of the “everyday” drinkers under the sofa in the coldest room of the house.  And then that box that got delivered to the office.  Or two…

But despite the WA raves, the way this wine opened with air, and the unusual mouth texture, it still left us feeling a bit unsure, deer in the headlights stunned, and over it before it all began. And, yes, the wax on the neck is bar none a gargantuan pet peeve.

Price: $60.

Market Liquidity: Lovely, in passing, but the memory will fade too soon.

April 22, 2021

Envinate Vinos Atlanticos Migan, 2018

Listan Negro.  Say what? 

Earthy.  Like damp forest, pine needles and boggy soil, really unusual, mysterious, and although deeply engaging a tad strange.  There is a Cousin Itt about the palate finish, odd but lovable.  Unexpectedly hugely food friendly.  Some smoke on the nose with crushed currant underneath.  Pretty hard to describe, not easy to engage with, novel, but yet delectable.

I think it’s unfair to call this a Spanish red.  A Canarias wine should, arguably, be African.  As for the wax top: Is there any more profound way to disengage with the end user? To frustrate bartenders and servers? To make a fucking ludicrous mess of the kitchen?  Bits of wax showing up weeks later like NYE glitter.  That’s a sour note before the drinking even begins…

Price: Well good luck to start with but if you can actually score a bottle in Canada, let alone BC, it will set you back at least $45.

Market Liquidity: Mos Eisley on Tatooine.  It really is that odd.

Tags:
April 22, 2021

Artuke Finca de los Locos, 2018

The biggest disappointment of 2021 so far.  Wow.  Just not good.

Maybe it was the Wine Advocate’s 93 points, and, therefore, some latent expectation the wine could never meet.  Or maybe it was the cost, and the resentment that comes with paying too much for wine in BC in general.  But really, I think it was that this was not a balanced bottle of wine.  It was like spokes, tangents of greatness, without cohesion.  A blast of oak, a less than enticing splash of cherry, layers of not that interesting yeast.  The joke about Jackson Pollock was that anyone could splatter paint but the reality about his splatter was it was unique.  This is just the splatter.

Ripe.  Way, way, way too ripe.  And nowhere to go but round the cul-de-sac and back again.

Price: $50 before a 10% discount on a mixed case.

Market Liquidity: Ishtar-esque.

March 26, 2021

Artuke Pies Negro, 2018 & Artuke Tinto, 2019

This is a case where the “better” wine was not as good as the “value” wine. (At least according to the Wine Spectator, which gave the PN 93 points and the Tinto 90.)

Let me explain: The Pies Negro is a curious bottle.  It evolved with air, it shifted from an aggressive, acid heavy fruitiness, then chilled out to a very balanced and curious red.  Start to finish it seemed a little tight, but both food friendly and a superb sipper. As Rioja goes it was less plush than some but beautifully rich.

The Tinto, on the other hand, was a fruit bomb.  Lighter on the palate by a mile, there was no mistaking this for vintage Rioja.  It was fun, lively, appealing, on the nose, on the palate.  Astonishingly good value; it shames most of the BC Okanagan. 

The Pies Negro might impress people more, and don’t get us wrong it’s a terrific red, but the Tinto would just please more people.  And that, I think, is what makes us think the value wine wins out.

The PN is a typical Rioja, Tempranillo and Grenache, the Tinto Tempranillo and Viura.

Price: Marquis offered the Pies Negro at $34.69 before tax and the Tinto at $21.65 before tax, but with a mixed half case reduced the price by 10%. So value and valuable.

Market Liquidity: Done and done between two gentlemen.

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.