Archive for ‘White wine’

November 10, 2017

Domaine Naturaliste Discovery Margaret River Chardonnay, 2015

Astonishingly simplistic for a Margaret River white; sort of a taint on the brand.  I mean even without a Google what comes to mind? Leeuwin, Cullen, Vasse Felix…  Heavyweights all.  Think of it; expectations run high.  To open something so inconsequential and immediately forgettable is a bit like the difference between a spun sugar dome over sorbet at a Michelin starred restaurant and candy floss on the midway at a fair.

 

The citrus runs to grapefruit pith, the floral notes are thin, the refreshment factor blah.  A shocking disappointment.  BC Liquor discontinues Cape Mentelle but introduces this.  Shurely shome mishtake?

 

Price: $25 plus taxes at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Runt of the litter (from purebred stock).

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November 9, 2017

Mâcon-Lugny Bouchard Père et Fils Saint-Pierre, 2015

Quintessentially prix fixe lunch “table wine included” French white.  No home run, no strike out, more of a walk. Apple, quince, gun barrel dry, sharp, piquant, a most palatable foil to cheese sauce or rich vegetarian, although it held up less with chicken.

 

A pale (as in slight) Chardonnay, as Chards go, but an appetizing food friendly dry white.  I would give it no stars, as stars go, but recommend it still.

 

Price: $24.50 in BC before SUBSTANTIAL taxes and, get this, $18.50 in Toronto all in.  Go figure.

 

Market Liquidity: A drinkable workhorse white.

November 8, 2017

Glen Carlou Quartz Stone Chardonnay, 2014

A low score middling wine with the Decanter bunch: I took exception and found it climbed above the measly 87 points they deigned to anoint it with, and still I laud Decanter.

 

It has lovely citrus notes, a spicy nuance, bits of tropical notes like flambeed pineapple–and none of the cloying oak of heavy handed Chards.  There is a sweet spot, somewhere between the fridge and room temperature, where it comes alive and really charms.

 

Price: A not too thrifty $29 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

 

Market Liquidity: You won’t impress, but you will enjoy.

October 27, 2017

Rombauer Carneros Chardonnay, 2013

From the cellar: In 2015 we found a sale on Rombauer and got half a case for less than $30 USD per.  We drank a bottle, then eventually more; you know how it goes.  I pulled the last bottle out for a spin last week.

 

We liked it in 2015.  We thought it a bit rich, both on the palate and on our pocket book, but we really, really liked it.  Sally Field much.  Here’s our gushing Top Gear review from two years ago.

 

Now?  How did it age?  Ooh la la, la la la la.  Ooh la la.  Like butter.  Like friggin’ butter.  Buttery, baked butternut squash, butter shortbread.  Rich and deliriously good.  Not a shred of bite, tantalizingly smooth, Richie Rich, toasty, lightly mineral with gobs of tropical punch, and just plain swooningly terrific.  We got excited: So we sourced the current vintage at BC Liquor.  And? $56 plus tax, so $65 a bottle.  Then, just like that, poof, it was another bottle in the recycling, and we moved on to a basic Pinot G.

 

Price: Same as 2015.  Too darn much.

 

Market Liquidity: How the other half drink.

October 26, 2017

Jidvei Feteasca Alba Sec, 2015

A decade ago we got tired of reading professional reviews which were divorced from the reality of our pocket book.  Truth is, this whole blog just started because we are real people with limited after tax income and frustrated with both the provincial government stranglehold on sales and the idea that we can all afford a c-note for a bottle of Burgundy.

 

This wine is probably an 86 point wine.  It’s got nothing going for it that the critics would especially like.  But for the average joe, it’s remarkable.  It’s dry, low alcohol, extremely food friendly, ridiculously palatable, and sure it lacks all the depth and character of a fine Loire Chenin, but it’s umpteen times better than half the BC Okanagan whites in the under $25 region.  And dollars should play a role in how the professionals review wine (they don’t, under the guise of subjectivity dollars don’t matter).

 

An unusual and ancient grape.  An unusual and hard to describe white.  And, get this, before tax, less than $13.  That means, in terms of value in the hyper-inflated BC Liquor environment, three bottles of this for one Culmina Chardonnay, or six bottles of this for one Ridge Chardonnay.  Let’s assume it’s an 86 pointer, but using some basic math, if you factor in the dollar value, as an economist would as opposed to a wine reviewer, all of the sudden we’re at 89 points.

 

Price: $12.49 at BC Liquor, cheaper in SK and ON.

 

Market Liquidity: Simple, yes, but not simplistic.

 

On an editorial note, the headache of the BC liquor monopoly (which is archaic, bureaucratic, ridiculously hurtful to both consumers and industry, much-hated, and loathsome to deal with) is a theme of the blog.  Local reviewer Anthony Gismondi had a spot on rant last week in the Sun: BC Government Liquor Monopoly Hurts Everyone.  Here here.

 

October 17, 2017

Swartland Bush Vine Chenin Blanc, 2015

The acidity hits you first.  Then a tsunami of tropical notes, pineapple, guava, passion fruit.  The finish is a creamsicle.  It’s astringent and rich together.  My God, I could drink a decent Chenin every day, but am clearly in the minority (if restaurant wine lists are anything to go by—CB is rarely on offer, certainly not in the “by the glass” section; you might see a Vouvray in a hoity-toity place but these dry workhorse whites, primarily South African, damn they are versatile and exciting).  With every glass we liked it more.  It was like a seduction.

 

Price: $31 at Marquis, a lot for a SA Chenin, but worth a half case if you can stomach the financial pain.

 

Market Liquidity: It grows and grows on you.  I mean hopefully not like Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors.  But still.

August 23, 2017

Haywire Waters and Banks Sauvignon Blanc, 2014

Like a Jamaican steel drum band; it really is that assertive. Without any of the dry hay or dewy green of New Zealand classics, and zero oak.  A really appealing floral nose belies a spicy, acidic and invigorating flourish on the palate.  Tangy, zesty, piquant finish.

 

Although there’s no oak, the malolactic fermentation gives it a funky charge that is either greatly appealing (us) or not what you’re expecting (probably a lot of New Zealand SB purists).  Gismondi said this should “scare the Kiwis” and gave it a 90 point nod but I think for $10 less the masses will likely stick with Brancott, and be happy with that decision.

 

Price: The 2015 is out, $25 at the vineyard, but you can source the enormously drinkable last year’s vintage for $27.75, before taxes, at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: Oak shmoak.

August 21, 2017

Raats Original Chenin Blanc, 2014

Depending on whom you rely on for points accountability, this is anywhere between an 88 and 92 pointer, with the Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator at opposite ends of the spectrum and Tanzer in between.  Which underscores more about how people think of Chenin Blanc than perhaps the subjective nature of wine scores.

 

It is indeed good, a refreshing and zesty lightly acidic Chenin with a dry forest floor note and some gobs of summer stone fruit.  We got the lime but not the pineapple.  It’s a patio sipper par excellence but a little weak at keeping up with rich foods (and I’m including creamy cheeses).  At the price point we are much more likely to spend less on the Mulderbosch and enjoy it more or spend more on the D’Orrance and wish we’d won the lottery.  It would be hard to weigh in on this as enthusiastically as some pros have.

 

Price: $21.85 in Saskatchewan but, wait for it, $33.50 before taxes at private wine stores in Vancouver.  Seriously.  When the mayor proclaims that Vancouver is on schedule to be the greenest city on the planet all I can think of is the greenback, not the solar panels, bike lanes, and lack of access to natural gas.

 

Market Liquidity: It’s a 92 pointer at $22 and an 88 pointer at $34.

August 19, 2017

Cassini Cellars Chardonnay Reserve, 2013

Heavy and hefty and archetypally Californian if indeed a good BC Chardonnay is supposed to mimic those further south.  A bit too crash and burn for us, with as much subtlety as a misspelled tweet from the current POTUS.  Oak and apple, vanilla and crab-apple, and oak.  Did I mention the oak?

 

On the one hand it is spectacularly good, if you’re looking for one specific type of Chardonnay, and it speaks to how very far BC mainstream varietals have come.  On the other hand, there are no surprises or even nuances of terroir that speak of BC the way, e.g., the Culmina GV does.  Probably very pleasing to most of the people most of the time.

 

Price: This is apparently a winery direct bottle but we picked it up on Salt Spring island for $33, $4 over the winery price, before taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: Short on subtlety but lots of splash.

August 18, 2017

Terra Vista Figaro, 2012

We’ve never bought the Figaro based solely on the label, which to date has been a bit too playful in a Roberto Benigni jumping up and down at the Oscars way.  The 2015 is on the shelves (with a more sober, less antic label design than the one pictured here) and good reviews from Gismondi.  But in our never-ending pursuit of something interesting we stumbled across the 2012, a bit dusty, on a back shelf in a small indie.  Would it still hold up?

 

The 2012 was a combination Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne; the 2015 nixes the Marsanne.  It was still beyond palatable with delightful tropical notes and a steely patch reminiscent of Semillon.  It held up superbly with white meats and even cut through the acid of tomatoes.  It came alive with a bit of air and warmth, oozing peach and nectarine and apricot.  Something of a find, I must say, and worth exploring the current vintage.

 

Price: $23 in a private wine store.

 

Market Liquidity: Not that it matters, the 2012 is long gone, but testament to the old adage that perseverance furthers.