Archive for ‘USA: Oregon’

December 3, 2019

Stoller Family Estate Pinot Noir, 2017

Stoller Family Estate Pinot Noir, 2017

By way of extension from yesterday’s post on Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir, we did a quick compare with an Oregon bottle, sort of a standard-bearer here on the West Coast when it comes to PN.  It was silky, smooth, approachable, balletic in its lightness and deftly textured with berries and the thinnest whiff of cedar.  But it was also pale and thin and sipped well but died an inglorious death with dinner (a simple vegetarian bean casserole with parmesan and fennel).


This is the sort of wine you could sip all afternoon and not know you’re sipping wine. Which is a compliment.  A bit of a back-handed compliment, but judgy-ness aside, it’s someone’s cup of tea.  Maybe not our, but someone’s.  I’m not big on embroidery, but I know it takes skill…


Generally, the Oregon PN is just too dear as a day to day, although BCL put this one up with a substantial discount, and it was well worth the price, comparatively.


Price: $29, but regularly $37.  That’s total value in the BC market.


Market Liquidity: Pretty, but not perfect.

December 22, 2016

Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012


A hedonistic and rather weighty California Cab Sauv, without the balance or depth of the old world heavy hitters, and frankly not my personal bent when I look for a good red.  Better than Coppola, to my mind, though.  Regardless of my taste, is it good?  Plum, pepper, maraschino, an earthy funk emanates from the oak, incredibly good, appealing and warming and toxic.  On the flip side, it’s 14.5% and while superb with red meat was patently “sippingly un-friendly.”


Probably one of the best CA Cab Sauvs BC Liquor has in its regular stock (although not easy to source).


Price: All in with taxes $30.  Not too shabby.


Market Liquidity: It stands side by side with BC reds going for double the price.



December 24, 2015

Elizabeth Chambers Pinot Noir, 2011

Ever read so many good reviews, see so many publications and pointsters refer to a wine as great or laud it without restraint that you simply cannot pass up an offer?  That’s me and this wine. Rather than offer a review, spend your time on Google (but yes, it’s an elegant sipper with both sweet and tart fruit and a bare hint of menthol).  I simply couldn’t find much fault but believe it or not expectations were high and the delivery was lower.

Elizabeth Chambers Pinot Noir, 2011

Price: $28 USD.


Market Liquidity: Some mountains just beg to be climbed.

November 8, 2015

Evening Land Seven Springs Pinot Noir, 2011

Evening Land Seven Springs Pinot Noir, 2011

This wine is so subtle it makes Ricky Jay’s sleight of hand look mechanical. You know the old WASP adage “put on all your jewellery then take one piece off”? That is sort of this Pinot: First make a Merlot, then take away all the character.


Which is not to say it’s not a wonderful vintage. But it does lend itself to the double negative. Very easy to drink, smooth, supple, gentle. It’s like “Welcome to wine!” for dummies. There is nothing aggressive or forward. The herby notes, even the more pungent woodsy pine and wet earth are muted; think Miles Davis on smack. It really is that low-key. And that, to me, seems to be the problem. While a huge accomplishment, I’m sure, to produce this caliber Pinot, it lacks something assertive that the very best of any varietal brings to the palate. It’s like the million and one Banana Republic cashmere sweaters; fine wool in a standard cut, ad nauseum. Subdued is great, but sooner or later you need some brain candy. For us, this wine was very impressive but couldn’t hold our attention.


One comment was that it drank like an entry level drug.  One sip and you’ll be hooked on Pinot.


Price: $29 USD which I know was a deal but still…


Market Liquidity: Glass half full: A plain black Bruno Cucinelli scarf will set you back three thousand. Sometimes subtlety is warranted.

August 19, 2015

Baillie-Grohman Blanc de Noir Rosé & Belle Glos Oeil de Perdrix Pinot Noir Blanc 2014

Rosé is a ruse. You pay the same dollars as for a fine red (or white), and you get something in between, not as good as either. But for whatever reason rosé is also in vogue. Reviewers go head over heel. God knows why. The average Josephine, she tends to like the colour. I write that seriously. Labels, bottle shape and colour seem to matter more at a party nowadays than what you drink.


We almost always find the quality and price point of a decent Pinot Gris trumps local rosé but there are one or two exceptions. Here it is mid-August, stinking hot, the summer that started in May and is predicted to continue to October, so if you’re going to stay with the patio theme, try either or both.

Belle Glos Oeil de Perdrix Pinot noir Blanc 2014


The Baillie-Grohman we inhaled. It was light, ethereal, floral, and a stunning complement to a pesto pasta salad. The Belle Glos, on the other hand, we sipped over an evening.  It is a hot commodity in BC this summer; it came in one fell swoop to the Lower Mainland then sold out almost instantly. Last time I checked there were only a handful of bottles left in the province. It obviously has many admirers, to say nothing of the long and pretentious label, from California (not France). Comparatively, it’s heavier, and more classically Pinot-ish, while it came on the palate inoffensive like a dime store rosé, it had a deep finish that resonates with the archetypal candy apple of its ilk; piquant, appealing, sharply acidic. And, yes, hard to resist. But ten dollars more than the wholly lovable Grohman. You know where I’m going…


Gone too soon!

Gone too soon!

Price: The Baillie-Grohman sells at the VQA retailers for a stunning value, a mere $19 including tax. Wow. The hard to find much sought after CA with the French label goes, with tax, for $28 at BC Liquor.


Market Liquidity: To quote Chris Rock, a man is only as faithful as his options. We take the savings.

November 22, 2012

Argyle Willamette Valley Chardonnay, 2010

We anticipated a low-alcohol, fresh, lively and zesty simple chardonnay.  And while this delivers on the low-alcohol (thank you Argyle, I’m sure you don’t get enough thanks for the French touch), it is unfortunately quite forgettable as chards go.  Maybe not banal, but simple to the point of being inconsequential, and nowhere near the gushing reviews you will find all over the place (on fruit, spice and finish, say, across the Net; we found the finish to be, well, cut and dried).  Argyle makes a single vineyard chardonnay, Nuthouse, which is more expensive, and presumably much better, but after a bottle of the base model we are disinclined to spend any more.  We opened it as a sipper and were unimpressed, then drank it with a gorgeous vegetarian main of baked stuffed acorn squash with nutted quinoa.  Great dinner, mediocre wine.


(Their sparkling wines are actually good festive bottles to have around.)


Price: $18 USD; could only source their Pinot in BC.


Market Liquidity: To each his own.

May 29, 2012

Cristom Pinot Gris, 2009

The PG vogue (which has permeated it seems every social function on the planet) has been gently mocked by 30 Rock, where it’s been Liz Lemon’s go-to quaff (or, simply, white wine with ice and sprite).  In other words, flat and tasteless, yet a marked preference over SB or chard.  But although there’s plenty of dross there’s some finer PG too (just, unfortunately it seems, a much higher percentage of dross and I noticed looking at the archive on our blog we have never found a PG worth posting a review about).


We shared a couple bottles of Cristom PG while eating Greek in Portland’s Pearl recently.  Before dinner it had floral notes and some pear flavour, as lively as some mediocre Viogniers, but was more citrus with food and a little less full flavoured with vegetarian and fish mains.  Still, for all of us a pleasant PG that had a little more character than the usual BC versions but still not star quality; would definitely order it again—and, indeed, it wasn’t hard for us to get two bottles down.


Price: $28 USD in a restaurant.


Market Liquidity: Decent but not delectable.