Archive for ‘White wine’

January 18, 2019

Mission Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, 2017 & La Frenz Sauvignon Blanc, 2017

Anthony Gismondi loved the Mission Hill.  But then, he tends to give a hall pass to Mission Hill and Robert Mondavi.  How he found this pale, plain and rather banal white a 90 pointer is anyone’s guess.  If you really like the grassy, gooseberry, aggressive SB of New Zealand, you will be disappointed and have spent $10 more than a straightforward Brancott.  If you like the tight restraint of a refined Sancerre, you will be baffled by the simplicity.  If you are interested in what’s interesting in the Okanagan, what sort of incredible Sauv Blanc is coming off the vines, you are drinking what is invariably our Tuesday night white: The Haywire Waters & Banks Sauvignon Blanc (and if you buy it at Save On, you can save yourself $10 all in).

 

But if you like SB just in general, and if you want hints of New Zealand with a slightly more fruit forward and tropical fruit flair, you are far and away much better off down at La Frenz, where they bottle something clean, juicy, crisp and gorgeously palatable, which, unfortunately, sells out in a heartbeat.  Only one of these wines is memorable.

 

Price: Mission Hill and La Frenz both sell in Vancouver in the mid-20s at private wine shops.

 

Market Liquidity: The arch mediocrity of Mission Hill and the consistent virtue of La Frenz never ceases to surprise.

 

 

 

January 16, 2019

Glen Carlou Quartz Stone Chardonnay, 2016

What a wonderful, optimistic and uplifting start to 2019.  A beautiful white; crisp, clean, minerally, the proverbial oyster shells, with hints of honeydew melon and a whisper of jasmine.  A long buttery finish.  When Hugh Johnson writes about his love of acidity, I think this wine epitomizes that sentiment, with a tart acidity extremely well balanced on the palate.  Not knock your socks of Burgundy, but restrained and evocative of terroir.  Zero complaints.

 

Price: Gifted but I’ve seen it at the Kitsilano Wine Cellar in the mid 30s.

 

Market Liquidity: The yin and yang of new and old world Chardonnay.

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December 31, 2018

Domaine Huet Vouvray, Clos du Bourg, 2015

Where to start?  How about magnificent?  How about exceptional?  How about demonstrably brilliant?

 

Huet is expensive, it’s a splurge for us, but every year Marquis on Davie gets a truckload and we pick up a few for the cellar.  We drank this too soon.  We couldn’t resist.  Yet it didn’t disappoint, not one iota.

 

The balanced fruit, a luscious caramel, sweetish without cloying, delicate but not lightweight, it defies description.  Three times as much as we like to pay for wine but worth every cent.

 

Price: Around $60 at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: A Christmas miracle.

December 22, 2018

Savennieres Chateau de Varenees, 2016

What an exceptional varietal.  You never know with Chenin.  Witness Vouvray.  The Huet socked away in the cellar.  And South Africa, so much to revel in.  But, alas, not so much this sere and abrasive assertive white.

 

Austere.  Could have been crafted by the Amish.  Simply too dry for our taste.  Really not that food friendly unless you’re eating rich, French rich, fish in butter rich, but if all you’re doing is drinking to cut the richness, a Coke will do.

 

Gismondi loved it.  It is of its ilk and like many whites you will come across in France but it was a non-starter for us, from sipping to accompanying food.

 

Price: No record, which leads me to believe it might have been gifted, as I’m rather fastidious about this sort of thing, although online $30 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: BC Liquor describes it as having “aromatic persistence.”  Hmm.  Could be a description of Febreeze.

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.

November 16, 2018

Domaine de la Baume Elite D’or Chardonnay, 2015

Just wrong.  It smells like Australian Chardonnay from the cask.  It drinks like inexpensive over-oaked California Chardonnay.  And then it disappears on the palate.  The heft of the bottle weight, the adornment of points from the WA, and the golden hue of the wine, lean towards something substantial, but like candy floss, while it looks and feels like one thing, on the palate it’s another.  We’ve never experienced a Chardonnay with so little finish.  It’s like a vanishing act.

 

Price: I can see paying $16 all in, as you can in Ontario, but to charge nearly $30 at Everything Wine in BC before taxes seems a criminal act.

 

Market Liquidity: I bought a couple of extra based on reviews (and, yes, the stupid number 90 on the neck).  Guess I’ll be sharing with those I don’t care about sharing with.

 

September 26, 2018

Nk’Mip Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay, 2016

We had the QQ open along with the Black Hills Nota Bene Chardonnay, which retails at about four dollars more.  As a sipper the BH is gorgeous, butter on the tongue and a more luxe finish.  But the QQ was better with dinner.  Hands down.  (Vegetarian main, cheeses, soup.)  And on that score along, the gorgeous food friendly flexibility of the QQ, we nixed the BH post.

 

Strong, California Chardonnay notes, assertive vanilla, an almost synthetic almond and crisp Bosc pear.  Lush but not louche, there is a tightness to this bottle that doesn’t lead to the full Black Hills expression, a sort of modesty, but from the first sip to the last hugely enjoyable.  And not a bad price point to boot.  A worthy award winner.

 

Price: $26 at Save-On Foods

 

Market Liquidity: Finally a contender in our price bracket.

September 25, 2018

Blue Mountain Chardonnay, 2016

Not the “reserve” just the regular, the off the shelf; nothing bespoke.

 

The last time we posted on the non-reserve was a few years back.  More verbose, just as satisfied.  And you can also find posts on the 2012 and 2011.

 

The BM Chard is like an old friend.  Year after year I get it by the half case, at least (because sensibly and thoughtfully BM waives shipping to YVR at least once each fall).  It doesn’t change that much vintage to vintage, it’s always fresh with a bit of bite, the oak is present but not omnipresent, the flavours linger with a light sweetness on the palate, and the complexity, while not profound, is a slam dunk on the dollar value.  I’m not sure it’s as crisp and Chablis-esque as some reviewers might claim, but good gosh is it easy to drink.  Yummy.

 

 

Price: $20.90 from the vineyard.  Value, value, value.

 

Market Liquidity: Did I mention the value?

September 25, 2018

La Vita Pazza White Blend, 2016

In my notes I wrote accidentally “white bland.”  Cute, but incorrect.

 

Think of a lively, decent house white in a local bistro, something palatable, something not bland like generic Pinot Gris or choking pine resin Sauv Blanc.  Something with a lilt, a dash of sweetness, and accommodation for everything from fatty appies to curries and spicy stew.

 

There is nothing that memorable to the Pazza white.  It’s just a base model blend.  It is in fact the La Frenz base model blend, a more or less balanced Muscat and Riesling, very fruit punch and rich without being cloying.  But really, how enjoyable, easy to drink, and food friendly.  The pointsters may pass it by, but you could do much worse at the price point at half the fun.

 

Price:  Wait for it (are you waiting for it?): $15.56 at the vineyard.  Wowza.  This could sell for $29 at a restaurant and still turn the standard mark-up on profit.  And how cheap and cheerful would that be in our over-taxed Western Hemisphere haven?

 

Market Liquidity: Eat, drink, be merry.

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September 20, 2018

La Frenz Naramata Bench Riesling Clone 21B, 2017

We tried.  Nope.

 

Acid.  Just too much acid.  At least there’s therapeutic benefit to apple cider vinegar.  This wasn’t food friendly with hard cheese, braised pork or just as a late summer sipper.

 

The vineyard blurb boasts lavender, thyme, peach.  We got nothing.  Citrus and minerality. And enough acid to burn a hole on your palate.

 

I’m certain that in August, under a grape vine draped gazebo overlooking one of the many Okanagan lakes, this crisp (and forgettable) white would please.  But I don’t think it has much utility outside of context and was a bitter disappointment.

 

Price: An extremely reasonable $19 at the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Riesling rises to higher heights all down the valley…