Archive for ‘White wine’

October 2, 2019

Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris, 2018

Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris 2018

We drank a lot in September, wines that have littered this blog for a decade, locals like Blue Mountain, a number of Pinots (the reds, the whites), lovely hearty Oz heavyweights and French Beaujolais.  The lot.  But nothing we haven’t reviewed prior.  So now it’s try something new.

Not.

This is the time of year to get a case from Burrowing Owl, one of the few “moments” where you can score both their Chardonnay and various reds in a single order.  In the mix we opted for some Pinot Gris, although usually I prefer the Blue Mountain (“regular” and “reserve”). While the Athene towers above the rest, the Merlot is probably our favorite.  But today it’s worth lauding the latest Pinot Gris.

 

BOwl, as we call them, have come up with one of their liveliest PGs in a while.  Super piquant with lots of crisp citrus acidity and some mellow peachy cordial on the finish.  Ridiculously easy to drink and food friendly with something on the tame slash vegan end of things.  Value and then some.

 

Price: $21 form the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Light, lively, a score.

And just to prove the repetitive point, here are the BOwl links from so many posts gone by: Here, here, here, here, here, here, and yes here.

August 8, 2019

Rocca Bernarda Friulano, 2016

Rocca Bernarda Friulano, 2016

From a July post after nearly a month in Italy we raved about Friulano, a sort of Sauvignon hybrid positively perfect with antipasti and, in Italy’s south, more on the money than not.  But alas our socialized liquor board failed the consumer; yet again.  It’s what I call a “dry run” when you can’t find what you’re looking for in BC but find it in abundance anywhere else (outside Canada).  We found a straggler, the Villa Locatelli, much reviewed by Gismondi but totally a non-starter for us, not even in the curiosity category.  We decided not to post.

Villa Locatelli Friulano

“..a non-starter for us…”

Then a fellow wine geek, sensing my desperation, sourced the Rocca Bernarda at EW.  What a revelation.  Hearty, husky, a red wine in white wine’s clothing, next to the Locatelli, the former like a badminton player, the RB like a rugby forward.

 

Regular old wine descriptors aren’t particularly useful with Friulano–especially if you’ve never drunk it.  It needs some regular language (citrus and stone fruit), it needs some exotica (apricot kernels and toasted clove), it needs some standard bearers like melon, and then it needs to be rated on mouth feel. It should have a texture somewhere between the greenest virgin olive oil and pear nectar. As with our July note, if you can hit it out of the park, like the Bastianich Plus, you are up in the majors; but if you don’t, this is an inconsequential varietal.

Price: Gifted but $30 at Everything Wine in the oddbins.

 

Market Liquidity: Grand but not grandiose.

August 8, 2019

Time Meritage (white), 2014

Time Meritage (white), 2014

Gismondi recommended the 2017.  I’d never knowingly drunk a white Meritage so we took the plunge (although anyone drunk on Graves, as I was between bottles of Corvo and Frascati in the 1980s, or living in Australia, as I did for a bit in the 80s as well, has drunk this blend which should, under no circumstances, be called Meritage.  But there you go…).  We made no effort; I found with ease the 2014 so that was the base comparison.  And, yes, surprising.  Full body, creamy, lots of luscious butterscotchy, tangerine and  lemon blossom notes with just the absolute perfect note of oak.  Did we like it?  I think we were so surprised that we didn’t not like it we ended up liking it more than it deserves.  And it deserves another tasting, another vintage.

 

We love us some good Sem Sauv Bl (preferably Australian) and have waxed poetic many times on the No 41 Ecole here or here e.g.,  and nearly wet our pants with the Buty.  So if you think of Washington as gangbusters this is good but it’s Carlos Sainz in BC to the Lewis Hamilton down south.  Gismondi says the best wine they bottle at Time.  I can say one thing for certain: Unless gifted, probably the only wine we’ll ever drink from Time.

 

Price: $25 at Save On (but less if you get a mixed batch of six).

 

Market Liquidity: Formula 3.

August 7, 2019

Intrigue Social, 2018

Intrigue Social 2018

A mostly Pinot Gris with a Jamie Oliver sized dab of Gewürztraminer, this is astonishingly good value.  In BC, the sparklers generally go, in this order, bats piss to Prosecco to Australian and European bubbles to OVERPRICED BC faux-champers then onto the real McCoy.  And here, in a lovely pocket to compete with Cava, is a drinkable and exceptionally food friendly bubbly.

 

There are flaws, I mean let’s be clear.  The bubbles are madcap; they are Seth Rogen laughing at a Between Two Ferns episode with Whoopi Goldberg storming off The View: they fly in all directions, too many, too fast, and explode on the palate like Pop Rocks.  The finish is not long enough and attractive with no staying power.  But then let’s take a breath and review: Two bottles of this or one of Stellar’s Jay?  I mean let’s be social, go two.  A sort of minor revelation and a great way to liven up some tapas.

 

Price: $20 at the vineyard, hard to find in general.

 

Market Liquidity: Day drinking anyone?

July 10, 2019

Drinking Wine in Italy

After a month in Italy there is nothing much to do except complain (again, more) about wine in BC.  The sheer misery of the options, the insane cost, the supply chain to the hospitality industry, and on and on.

 

What’s VAT in Italy?  22%.  Twenty-two per-cent.  And yet, and yet you can pick up phenomenal local wine for 12 Euros (approximately $18 CDN).  Wine at a restaurant, really lovely drinkable wine ins the 14-18 Euros category.  We found in Puglia that if you wanted to shell out the very grand amount of 20 Euros you were heading into 92 pointster categories.  It was wow and wow and more wow and easy, easy, easy on the pocket book.

 

In the above (random) collage (much edited) I’ve pasted the two most expensive bottles at top that we decided to try along the way.  The Michele Calo Spano Salento Rosso, which retails for close to 40 Euros, we scored for 35.  It was excellent, absolutely hands down the best Negroamaro we drank (and we drank a lot) although given what’s available in the region it defied type; it seemed almost Californian in its clean modernity, the lack of acidity;, the abundance of fruit but without supreme depth made it seem a little too Robert Parker for us.  As for liquor board controlled buying, I would say both BC and Ontario fail the consumer when it comes to Negroamaro. Fail.

 

Next to that you’re looking at a (random sample) of a truly wonderful local Primitivo, the Schola Sarmenti Cubardi Primitivo.  At the wine store 12 Euros, in a restaurant we scored if for 22.  And it was just all awesome; oodles of cherry and smoke and chicory and herby notes that define terroir.  We’ve had the decent bottle or two of Primitivo in BC but nothing like the Cubardi range (for which there are a number of varietals and all are worth a sample).  As for liquor board controlled buying, Ontario does a decent job with Primitivo; BC, however, is again a fail.  In London (UK) you can find this monumentally satisfying red for 15 pounds (or less than $30 CDN) which is just ludicrous.  What Okanagan plonk can a Canadian score in BC, taxes all in, under $30?

 

Lower left is a wine from a local masseria, the L’Astore Alberelli Negroamaro.  Organic.  Old vines.  High in alcohol and not cheap and not easy to access, even in Lecce, but we found it, and we loved it, and we wanted more, and couldn’t get it, and that of course led to me on another BC wine rant.  This was a juicier, rounder, plumper Negroamaro with tannins that sat up against red fruits with a challenge.  Outstandingly food friendly, from stuffed zucchini blossoms to ragu orecchiette.

 

The whites down south were hit and miss.  With temperatures in the mid to high 30s they needed to be cold, and outside they warmed up too quickly.  (A red, however, refrigerated briefly, then served al fresco, that worked a dream.)  Having said that, it was easy to access Friulano.  Welcome to my newest favorite varietal.  Full, assertive, nuanced, fleshy, like ripe nectarine juice running down your chin.  Gorgeous with southern Italian cuisine.  The Doro Princic is a relatively inexpensive white, 14 Euros, with  nothing going against it except availability.  Ontario and BC, our largest socialist fueled wine buyers, how ya doin’ with Friulano?  Two and one.  Fail and fail.

 

The last wine, also a pricey bottle, is from the Bastianich vineyard, deep down in the heel.  And, if truth be told, the only reason I bought it was because of, you know, Lidia and Joe and how pompous Joe comes off on TV and how full of himself in respect to their wine he is which they “personally oversee” in Puglia and so on.  They have a base model Friulano but in for a penny we got the Plus, a whopping 30 Euros (but, let’s be fair, that’s $45 CDN and plenty of BC top wines are more than that before onerous taxes).  Gorgeous.  Speechless I am in its appeal, from aroma to palate; the proverbial nectar from the gods.  So, here I’m going to compare it with top whites from, you know, Culmina, Clos de Soleil, Meyer, and all I can say is they are lost in the dust (or, as things go in Europe, the diesel particulate).  But so is BC when it comes to choice, diversity, and consumer appetites.

 

What’s next BC Liquor?  One white and one red from a spigot?  BC Liquor: It’s a fail, Herculaneum Pompeii style fail.

May 28, 2019

Ritual Casablanca Chardonnay, 2016

Biodynamic brilliance. What do the French think when they drink a wine this well crafted? Ooh-la-la, how can we compete? This delectable, restrained Chardonnay is fruit forward, imperceptible oak, layered, complex, with a wet linen astringency on the finish. Subtle but profound. Lovely.

Price: We sourced it at Everything Wine but it’s since gone out of stock. $34?

Market Liquidity: Evocative of something much more prestigious.

May 27, 2019

Cistus Faugeres, 2015

Cistus Faugeres, 2015

BC Liquor had this $30 wine on sale for $27.  It promised melon and kumquat and honeysuckle, and it delivered nothing.  In what has been a string of disappointing, dull and unmemorable wines this spring, the Cistus takes gold in the white category.  I don’t think even on a July day in the shade of a lime tree at Glanum would this hold interest.  More dullards in the BC wine marketplace than gnats in the evening sky. Who is the Ombudsperson for the abundance of boredom in the socialized wine market?

 

Price: $27 at BCL, reduced from $30.

 

Market Liquidity: Consumers: rise up.

May 27, 2019

Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay, 2016

Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay, 2016

BC Liquor had the MS on sale, $5 off.  Strictly speaking, you have to be in the mood for California Chardonnay.  Usually there is that Pythonesque 16 tons on your head to the oak.  But this was, surprisingly, light (as CA Chard goes), not too obtrusive, stellar with seafood, lime and stone and honeydew on the palate, and, as it warmed slightly, some banana and fresh bread.  In terms of our tastes, what we gravitate to, this is a non-starter.  But as the overstocked shelves at BC Liquor attest, taste is not the market. If BCL could bring themselves to actually sell this $5 off, it could be a Tuesday night slam dunk.  As such, no such luck.

 

Price: $35, regular price, before taxes, BC Liquor

 

Market Liquidity: Hey BC Liquor: Rather than “sell” wine how about curating wine?

March 20, 2019

Stina Cuvee White, 2016

Vij recently served this with curry at the Vancouver Wine Festival.  Local wine aficionado Anthony Gismondi said it was a big hit.  So I bought a bottle (my first bottle of Croatian wine, ever,) and cooked up some curry (an eggplant curry by Meera Sodha, the phenomenal Meera Sodha, if you are not cooking her recipes you are not cooking Indian at home), and corked the Stina.  Thank god the curry was a slam dunk.

 

So this is what I can say unequivocally: Vij recently served this with curry at the Vancouver Wine Festival.  Local wine aficionado Anthony Gismondi said it was a big hit.

 

Price: $21 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity:  Has, apparently, some utility.

March 16, 2019

Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay, 2014

There was a time when Wolf Blass defined good taste in wine.  And that time was three decades ago.  And, for me, I can even define it further: 1984 in Sydney when WB was both affordable and astonishingly good.  But now?  Talk about retro blast from the past.

 

This is a totally pleasurable Chardonnay, no strikes against it.  For the person who wants a wine, year after year, to taste pretty much the same, within a very, very narrow range of differentiation, Wolf Blass rules the southern hemisphere.  Perhaps only Beringer comes close with this sort of equilibrium.  But isn’t part of the pleasure of drinking wine that difference vintage to vintage, that variability?  If it is, I suggest you move on.

 

Glass half full: Class act.  Glass half empty: Next. Quickly.

 

Price: Regularly $25, on sale for $20, so extremely good value.

 

Market Liquidity: Like an 80s playlist.