Archive for ‘Sparkling’

November 21, 2018

Calmel & Joseph Blanquette de Limoux

Gismondi quite liked this and “pointsed” it 90.  Yeah, OK, whatever; he’s gotta keep up with his colleagues who found it similarly “over the 89 point hump.”  We found it, well, a little austere, lacking in depth, mineral forward, cucumber hits the palate in an unusual not invigorating way, mediocre effervescence.  Glass half full it makes a wonderful French 75 but a little on the ho hum side as a sipper.  From our perspective, it doesn’t hold a candle to the (four dollars cheaper) Bernard-Massard Brut which we love and which has been our go-to sparkler for over a year.

 

We were attracted to it for the Mauzac, unusual to say the least, but not entranced or seduced.  Another odd thing is that the weekend of AG’s review the Calmel J was in six BC Liquor stores.  Total.  Pretty slim pickings in advance of the holiday season.

 

Price: A more or less reasonable $29 before taxes at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Brunch yes, birthday no.

July 9, 2018

Summer Gate Moscato Frizzante, 2017

Well, umm, it’s fizzy. Yeah, it’s that.

 

Supposedly dry, I’d give it a one.

 

Appetizer friendly.  That’s a plus.  And, well, not much more to add.  If you’ve got $30 burning a hole in your pocket, and you need something neutral and novel, OK.  But gosh the province is awash in better options for sparkling.

 

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

 

Market Liquidity: It’s a bottle of wine.

February 7, 2018

Pirie, Tasmanian Sparkling

Drinking wine in Australia 3: In search of a brilliant sparkling we drank glass after glass of Australian sparklers, but mainly Tasmanian wines because, well, it’s almost impossible to find them outside of the state.  The wine industry in Tassie is young, the volume is low, and only a few generic sparklers make it overseas.  Ditto their Pinot.  Plus, restaurants serve them at a low cost and with some cheer.

 

We made the trek deep up country to Jansz and sampled some sensational vintages and bought their limited and very tasty rose.  We had a beautiful regular old non-vintage from Clover Hill.  We drank glass after glass as an aperitif which was uneven but usually fun.  We drank a poorly reviewed Shingleback and found it enormously food friendly and ordered more.  

 

There is a trend, good or bad, for hip Oz restaurants to have five categories on the wine list: Red, White, Sparkling, Orange and Chilled Red.  I can’t see the words “chilled red” without thinking of Lambrusco, and indeed many of the reds we sampled had that cheap fruit tang of L.  The orange category, say a Sem/Sauv Bl left on the skins or a Cab Sauv not left on the skins, were sometimes refreshing sometimes sour.  But perhaps the best thing going on in Australia is bottle after bottle of brilliant sparkling and restaurants that give you a choice per glass, at about $10 per.

 

Of course you can’t return home and buy House of Arras, Clover Hill, Swift, Frogmore Creek, Sittella, Yarrabank, Bay of Fires, or any of the other myriad sparklers we tried.  BC just doesn’t let the consumer choose; they choose for us.  And shelf space, they tell us, is at a premium…

 

When all was said and done there really was no comparison to the generic non-vintage Pirie which was yeasty and aromatic and effervescent and just all round wonderful (and hard to find, even in Melbourne, but worth the effort) and for which, if Canadians were allowed to be adults and buy wine and bring it home in volume the way other nationals were doing we would have ordered several cases.

 

 Of course you can’t buy it and ship it like the rest of the world.  You can’t even contract an agent to get it.  You just have to live with the fact that the BC government is an omniscient beast who not only knows all but acts in our best interest.  Not.

 

Price: Around $34

 

Market Liquidity: Drinking wine in the socialist state of BC sucks. Tassie rocks.

January 18, 2018

Bernard-Massard Cuveé de l’Ecusson Pinot Noir (Rosé)

We took huge pleasure over the holidays with opening and sharing the base model sparkling from Luxembourg.  For a while, Everything Wine had the rosé as well, at about six dollars more.  It is juicy, it has the red currant and sweet plum sauce tangents of a decent Pinot Noir rosé, there is some decent minerality, the fizz is so-so, but despite the pluses we were non-plussed.  It simply didn’t have the fun and flair and conviviality of the base model.  It seemed more like a novelty wine then something either serious or cheerful.

 

Price: Around $25 before taxes.  You can find it at the Liquor Barn locations if you must.

 

Market Liquidity: Like MC Hammer pants, a curiosity not in our rotation.

December 15, 2017

Moutard Père et Fils Grand Cuvée Champagne

Champagne, to generalize, is usually good.  Prosecco, in contrast, hit and miss.  Which is why, in British Columbia, Champagne is more or less $60 a bottle and Prosecco a fraction of that.  But there are always exceptions.  Witness the Moutard.

 

A special order and much lauded import at Everything Wine, discounted five per cent in advance of the seasonal festivities, it fails to impress.  Anthony Lane, in a recent review of Murder on the Orient Express, wrote that technically the murder in one of her novels is really the second death; the prose being the first.  Similarly, we couldn’t get past the banality.

 

It has all the stripes of something much better than sparkling and is pleasant to drink.  If you are the sort of person who must drink Champagne then why not get a bottle at a slightly reduced cost?  But without any flavour to speak of, dismal fruit, mild yeast, a light citrus lift, this can’t even complement crudités.  Sad.  (I should add that Decanter thought otherwise.)

 

Price: $60 at EW, although $56 on special before taxes.  Of VERY SPECIAL note: $40 all in at the LCBO in Toronto.  Alas, Buying Wines in BC is not one penalty buy many.

 

Market Liquidity: Tasmanian fizz anyone?

December 6, 2017

Bernard-Massard Cuvée de L’Ecusson Brut

Tis the season.

 

Sparkling from Luxembourg.  At 12.4%.  Cheaper than cheap Prosecco.  Luscious on the palate.  Could there be a better Christmas gift?

 

Decanter gave this a best in show, 95 points, platinum.  I’m not sure we were drinking the same wine.  However, it is wonderful.  It is lovely.  It has a finish that grows on you inch by inch and will lead you to polish off a bottle in no time.  The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are run of the mill but having Riesling in the mix is a game changer.

 

This will not sub for Champagne.  In fact, it wouldn’t make for a very good general fizz to doctor with juice or liqueur.  I would even nitpick on the effervescence (which is thick and heavy and without the streamlined cadence of fine champers).  However, stand alone as a sparkler, with its tropical fruit notes and vanilla coconut finish, this is startlingly graceful at the price point.

 

Price: Good luck.  But EW in Surrey has a few bottles at $23 before tax. The rosé is available at New District in Dunbar.  Alas, welcome to Buying Wines in BC…

 

Market Liquidity: Brilliant bubbles, and fun to boot.

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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February 14, 2017

Blue Mountain Reserve Brut, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day

Wow.

 

An explosion of flavour.  This is to the base BM fizz (aka Gold Label) what the hydrogen bomb is to the atom bomb.

 

Hearty and full, there is nothing ethereal.  Probably the most assertive BC sparkler I’ve ever tasted.  It could be food.  A wonderful Pinot/Chardonnay blend.

 

Gentle effervescence, pronounced tart apple, Asian pear, almond skin, and an acidic piquancy like lemon meringue pie.  Scrumptious.

 

Price: Just over $30 as part of a three bottle vintage sampler from the vineyard which was, all in, including shipping and tax, $100, but you can source it at around $42 in private shops..

 

Market Liquidity: The soul of the south Okanagan.

January 21, 2017

Casa di Malia Prosecco

malia-prosecco

Prosecco with a cork.  In other words lightly effervescent; nominally effervescent.  This certainly isn’t the “fizz” from Kim Crawford.  Organic, so kudos.  Nice label.  Utilitarian bottle with a stopper (you can rinse it and make a vinegar later).  You see where I’m going.  There’s not much to praise once you start to drink.  Using the gratis stopper we corked it and I poured a small glass the next day; still, and I mean flat, still it was peachy in a candy floss way, not terribly interesting (without orange juice or Campari or something…).  There is such a huge market for Prosecco and it’s all over the map and (in my humble view) in the majority at the less than palatable level but at least, at least it’s usually festive, as in fizzy.

 

Price: A very reasonable $20.

 

Market Liquidity: Hostess gift.

December 23, 2016

Seasonal Sparklers: Kim Crawford Fizz, 2011 & Jansz Premium Cuvée

kim-crawford-fizz-and-jansz-premium-cuvee

It’s amazing what shows up under the tree this time of year.  Even a bottle of (the eloquent, nutty, dry, oozingly charming) Veuve.  But for those of us who have more realistic wine budgets, I’m always on the lookout for something a little bit, how shall I put it, pocket-book friendly.

 

We pitted Natalie MacLean’s pick, the boisterous, fruity, and ridiculously effervescent Kim Craword against the dryer, simpler and maybe more satisfying Tasmanian Jansz.  The sparkling Pinot we discovered in the summer trumps both of these, but at the price point I could recommend either as a cocktail mixer or, on their own, I’d prefer the Jansz, with its aromas of berries, a hint of hazelnut and a long lemony finish.  And boy would I like Marquis or Liberty or even BC Liquor to ship in some of their late disgorged or myriad other sparklers, not just the base model.

 

The Kim Crawford is actually a vintage fizz and we had higher expectations.  It was more on the “fun” side than the serious side, but which is sillier, KC calling their bubble Fizz or Jansz saying they make Méthode Tasmenoise?

 

Price: Jansz is $28 before the extras, Kim Crawford, $30 before all the rest.

 

Market Liquidity: Brilliant.  Both.  (There are no bad reviews of sparkling allowed in the holiday season.)

champagne-and-food