Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

May 29, 2020

Blue Mountain Reserve Pinot Noir, 2015

Blue Mountain Pinot Noir, 2015

It opens up beautifully.  But it opens up slowly. There is definitely a matrooshka doll onion skin Pandora’s box motif going on.  It’s beauty does not give it the full marks the vintner and pointsters do: it is a tad thin and not nearly as eloquent as other PNs in this price range, and of course BM (not to be confused with BS) likes to amp up the price.  Stick to their under-valued and reasonably priced lovely Pinot Gris…

 

Time was, when we swore by BM PN, buying it by the case; the “regular” and reserve.  Then it went over $30.  Then it went over $35.  Then it went over $40.  Now we can rest our case, so to speak.

 

Price: Gifted, how wonderful is that, but $40 at the vineyard and a yardstick more at private wine stores in YVR.

Market Liquidity: A bit too much clique and not enough populism.

May 29, 2020

Black Sage Vineyard Cabernet Franc, 2017

Black Sage Vineyard Cabernet Franc, 2017

I’m surprised that the last time we blogged about Black Sage was 2014, a full six years ago.  And that was a Cab Sauv; lovely and yummy.  But, as I like to say after a few glasses, “we’ve drunk a lot of BS over the years.”

 

It’s time to just come out and say thank you, BS, for decently priced quite drinkable, hearty reds.  Zero pretension, a lot of heft on the palate, a reasonable amount of the funky Cab Franc spice and leathery smoke.  Exceptional with meat.  No dissent around the table.

 

Price: An under $30 before the four bottle discount at Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: A plethora of smiley and thumbs up emojis.

May 29, 2020

Natte Valleij Cinsault, 2018

Natte Valley Cinsault, 2018

We are always up for novelty.  After all, isn’t that what drinking wine is all about? Unusual varietal?  Bring it on.  But first, oh my dear God, please, please get rid of the wax on the neck; it’s somewhere between a cut your wrist suicide attempt and wedding reception confetti (a mess either way, and totally unnecessary).

 

Cinsault can grow in climates not known for their wine (say Lebanon) and is widely planted in South Africa where, based on this bottle alone, it should be blended.  We couldn’t determine how and when the pungent, silty fruit of it would be most complementary, as it sipped like vermouth and drank with food astringent.  I would write pale and wan but in fact it was pale and wanting.

 

Price: $30 at Kitsilano Wine

 

Market Liquidity: Beautiful cover, mediocre book.

May 2, 2020

Cote du Rhone Halos de Jupiter, Vacqueyras

Cote du Rhone Halos de Jupiter, Vacqueyras

This is a Grenache Syrah blend that is a slam dunk.  Just wow and wow and wonderful.

 

BC Liquor sells the entry level Cotes du Rhone; it’s fine in its own way, I recommend it on a wine list because for $40 something you can have a decent bottle of red with dinner out (if we’re ever allowed to eat out again).  BC Liquor also sells an over $70 Chateauneuf du Pape.  In Ontario you can score a most wonderful Gigondas for $40.  All hail Jupiter.  But some of the private wine stores in YVR have the just right porridge, an exquisite red that boasts plums, and jammy dark fruits, light tannins and gobs of deliciousness.  Ludicrously drinkable.

 

Price: Around $35 at Kitsilano Wine, but if you but a mixed case of six and you take the 10% discount, we’re talking better than any BC red in that price zone, period.

 

Market Liquidity:  I could self isolate on a case of this.

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.

April 30, 2020

Bellingham Old Vine Chenin Blanc, 2017

Bellingham Old Vine Chenin Blanc, 2017

 

Lordy what a lovely find. Food friendly to the nth degree, a patio marvel, hardy enough for roast chicken gentle enough your fingers could be soaking in it.  Luscious on the palate.  Stoney minerality coalesces with citrus grove lands on creamsicle with muted oak on the tail.  Sips a dream.

 

You could look for it and not find it, which is most likely in BC, but if you do buy it, then buy it by the threes.

 

Price: $31 at Kitsilano Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: And the taste that was planted in my brain still remains, to do no justice to an old lyric.

April 29, 2020

Colle Stefano Verdicchio di Matelia, 2018

Colle Stefano Verdicchio di Matelia, 2018

Bartlett pear, clover honey, and a good hit of stone with a dry, abrupt finish, but an acidity that breaks through cured meats, olives and firm cheese.  Wait: this isn’t a wine review.  This is the saga of the sorry state of affairs when it comes to wine in BC.

 

Let’s start here: Some good memories, years ago, drinking decent everyday Italian wines, some Corvo, Frascati, Verdicchio.  Then let’s jump forward and try to find those working horse wines in BC.  Good luck.

 

True story: I went into a well stocked private wine store and asked if they had any Verdicchio.  The proprietor said “Verdicchio?  I wish.”  That really says it all.

 

So when a local distributor had some organic bottles available we decided to get a case.  Not because we wanted a case, because short of driving all over the city, from store to store to store, trying to find a single bottle, the only way to order through the distributor is by the case.

 

Wait, you say.  It’s 2020.  Search online.  Oh, you’re hysterical.  Let me know which nights you do standup.  Search online indeed.  [Note for another post: The three wine stores in the province with search friendly online databases.]

 

Get this: After you order you wait a month.  Even though the wine is here, even though you’ve specified where you want to pick it up, it takes three or more weeks to cross the city.  Then the local store calls you and, you go, and you pay.  And you have a case of wine to drink.

 

There could be a better way.  Gismondi has written widely on the price point of BC wine, on a lethargic and unwieldy government system, on barriers to wine trade.  But really, we live in a modern democracy.  We should have wine clubs like the New York Times and Wall St Journal and umpteen other American versions.  But we don’t.

 

The online databases for most stores are poor, inaccurate or nonexistent.  The best of the online databases, Everything Wine, is even a little clunky and can be awkward when they run lower than a case at any given store.  In other words often.

 

So, in short, if you are passionate about wine, the system is set up to ensure your passion is quelled and you drink at the mercy of higher ups that have a grander notion than personal taste.

 

Price: Is it relevant?  In the grand scheme of things?

 

Market Liquidity: A lot of work to spend a lot of money for what was, last time I checked, a pleasure of adulthood, not a penalty.

April 28, 2020

Cape Mentelle Shiraz Cabernet, 2017

Cape Mentelle Shiraz Cabernet, 2017

Well here’s a blast from the past.  Remember when BC Liquor carried Cape Mentelle?  No, I bet you don’t, because it’s been about a decade.  Their workhorse Sem Sauv Bl blend was one of those relatively inexpensive everyday whites of much utility.  We miss it.

 

This is not their finest moment.  And they do have some fine moments (which of course will cost you).  But it’s a lovely change this perky red from Western Australia, perhaps a little surprising how much sweet and how little mouth feel it has, tending to veer away from the typical leathery Oz Shiraz, despite 60% Shiraz to 40% Cab Sauv.

 

Quite decent, all things considered, screw top, not over the top pricey, pleasantly light even at 14.5% alcohol.

 

Price: $30 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Like a nice find at a garage sale.

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.

March 27, 2020

Domaine Ollier Taillefer Faugeres, 2015 and Chapoutier Les Meysonniers, Crozes Hermitage, 2016

Chapoutier Les Meysonniers, Crozes Hermitage, 2016Domaine Ollier Taillefer Faugeres, 2015

We’ve been drinking a lot of “hot review” wines lately and coming up short.  Two today for example.

 

Both these wines are 90 pointsters and neither lived up to our anticipated hype.  The Faugeres had no breadth, it’s decent, palatable, mildly interesting; herby, wet earth, dry. The tannins simply clashed outright with a simple chicken dinner. The Crozes Hermitage must have legs; it has hints of greatness but you never know.  Gismondi said it had a twist of garrigue (that’s acceptable to write in the Saturday paper; the NYT is equally cryptic on Saturday, we expect having to use Google to decipher), and suggested three to five years.  Yes; three minimum.  We went looking for it because he quoted the price at $27, but it was in fact $30 before tax.  We saw the merit in two or three of the Chapoutier in the cellar; the Ollier seemed better off in the late afternoon sun in the Languedoc.

 

Price: $33 and $30 at BC Liquor and, occasionally, at Marquis.  The Chapoutier is regularly available at Kits Wine Cellar; feel the braille label.

 

Market Liquidity: Win some, lose some.