Archive for ‘White wine’

February 8, 2018

Jim Barry Assyrtiko, 2017

Drinking wine in Australia 4: So Jim Barry’s son, one of his sons, Peter, Peter and his wife go to Greece and drink some sensational white wine and then they go home and they decide to plant that varietal at the family vineyard in Australia and they do and a few years later they bottle their first vintage and here it is.  Assyrtiko.  Not sure I’ve ever drunk a bottle.  The tricky part is, however, wine in Santorini can be plonk but the experience so divine you might think you’re drinking Burgundy.  Was their venture just a passing interest?  No.  This is a breakthrough in terms of sipping and eating.

 

As an aside, it was not the most interesting wine we drank across four states and umpteen cities and vineyard treks.  It was the second most interesting wine.  The most interesting wine was from Mount Mary, the Middleton family’s vineyard in the Yarra valley; we had, at Cutler and Company, a few glasses of sensational Fume Blanc from Reflexion, their “down market” brand, which was profound with food.  Moving.  Sometimes wine stewards are pretentious and insensitive and at worst trendsetters but sometimes they understand the harmony of food and wine and score big time and that was our experience with the Mt. Mary.

 

That said, the Assyrtiko was definitely the second most interesting wine we drank.  It marries the acid and citrus of the Mediterranean with floral aromas and hints of honey and peach and is aggressively interesting and unique and a breath of fresh air for white varietals.  Again, not to get TOO repetitive, but the likelihood of finding this in BC, let alone Canada, is remote at best.

 

Price: A pricey $45 Australian, if you can find it, and it was hard to find (and even the clerk said to me “this is the first bottle I’ve sold”!).

 

Market Liquidity: The spirit of adventure rewarded.

 

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February 6, 2018

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Riesling, 2016

Drinking wine in Australia 2: Generally, LE churns out a huge swath of drinkable and sometimes especially eloquent wines.  The Art Series is their upper echelon and, if you can find it in Canada, will set you back significantly.  In Australia you can source the various bottles and a dry WA Riesling spoke to us.  But unfortunately only on the shelf at he bottle shop.  As a sipper or with food this just didn’t work for us.  It was highly acidic, and not in a “succulent” way as the label promised; very lime forward, deeply mineral, and only a nuance of floral notes.  To compare it apples to apples, new world to new world, I was thinking of how spectacular the “simple” Riesling from Sea Star on Pender Island was/is, and thinking about the heft and cache of Leeuwin, and that just made us more discouraged.

 

Price: $30 Australian in Australia.

 

Market Liquidity: Sometimes big stars walk through a matinee performance.

February 6, 2018

Two Wonderful Chards: Devil’s Lair Margaret River Chardonnay & Frogmore Creek Chardonnay, 2016

Drinking wine in Australia 1: We bought the Devil’s Lair because Decanter lauded it with a huge amount of points; we wanted to see what the fuss was.  For us, there wasn’t too much fuss. This is a wonderful Chardonnay, crisp and fruity and with muted oak; it has a decent finish but it wasn’t as wow as anticipated.

 

The Frogmore Creek on the other hand was really lovely, what a sipper.  Delectable; smooth, nutty, light oak, bracing acidity, a Sprite finish. 

 

Prices: Low 30s for both, Australian bucks.

 

Market Liquidity: Not all Oz Chardonnay has to taste like Lindeman’s.

December 18, 2017

Nautilus Gruner Veltliner, 2015

A bottle of Nautilus in BC.  Will wonders never cease?

 

Is it their straightforward and nearly savoury Sauv Blanc?  No.  Is it their charming Chardonnay?  Not a chance.  Is it perhaps their pitch perfect Pinot?  As if.  Is it on the rare chance their hard to find sparkling?  You make me laugh.  No, it’s their Gruner.

 

But do you know what?  Nautilus makes a lot of good wine and this is no exception.  I’m not sure I prefer it to the Culmina, which is about five dollars less, but it’s a really lively, sharp and tangy refreshing white that deserves some attention.  Apple blossoms, apple skin, tart on the finish, with a bit of a bite.  Extremely food friendly.  Seafood starter anyone?

 

Price: $34.50 at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: A lesser wine from an accomplished vineyard.

December 16, 2017

Domaine Huet Le Mont Demi-Sec Vouvray, 2015

So a day or two ago we wrote about being let down by Champagne.  Which, to be honest, wasn’t fair to Champagne, it was more about the cost penalties of living in and buying wine in BC.  Most decent Champagnes in BC retail before taxes at around the $60 mark.  But here’s the rub: If you’re truly willing to spend $60 on a bottle of wine, why not go all out and get a Loire Chenin?

 

In December, when we pull out all the stops on decent bottles, we love to love Domaine Huet.  (The blog has a smattering of Huet posts including a 2001, 2005, 2008 and 2009, of various sorts and sites.)  We usually rip through a variety of the house, from sparkling on down (or up, as the price point goes and as our budget allows).  For a special day in advance of Christmas we pulled out the Mont Demi-Sec: and the semi-sweet is, well, rapturous.

 

Online I’ve seen reviews all over the map, so many adjectives I don’t know what the pros are thinking, it’s like they just wrote down words, maybe it was euphoria, but in a rare moment of total accord I would say the team over at WA hit the nail on the head when they described it as being “deep, rich and flinty on the nose, with caramel and vegetable flavors indicating a great complexity. Full-bodied, dense and powerful, this is highly complex and persistent, yet refreshing and transparent Chenin with a juicy fruit and lots of grip, energy and tension” and then blessed it with 96 points.

 

I would say, from the layperson’s view, if you can appreciate it, if you can even wrap your mind around how mind-numbingly harmonious this wine is, it is worth every penny of the $60 you will shell out.  And umpteen times more memorable than a bottle of Mumm.  Or, as we wrote recently, Moutard.

 

Price: $60 from Marquis.  God Bless Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: A trip to the moon on gossamer wings.

December 15, 2017

Moutard Père et Fils Grand Cuvée Champagne

Champagne, to generalize, is usually good.  Prosecco, in contrast, hit and miss.  Which is why, in British Columbia, Champagne is more or less $60 a bottle and Prosecco a fraction of that.  But there are always exceptions.  Witness the Moutard.

 

A special order and much lauded import at Everything Wine, discounted five per cent in advance of the seasonal festivities, it fails to impress.  Anthony Lane, in a recent review of Murder on the Orient Express, wrote that technically the murder in one of her novels is really the second death; the prose being the first.  Similarly, we couldn’t get past the banality.

 

It has all the stripes of something much better than sparkling and is pleasant to drink.  If you are the sort of person who must drink Champagne then why not get a bottle at a slightly reduced cost?  But without any flavour to speak of, dismal fruit, mild yeast, a light citrus lift, this can’t even complement crudités.  Sad.  (I should add that Decanter thought otherwise.)

 

Price: $60 at EW, although $56 on special before taxes.  Of VERY SPECIAL note: $40 all in at the LCBO in Toronto.  Alas, Buying Wines in BC is not one penalty buy many.

 

Market Liquidity: Tasmanian fizz anyone?

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).

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.