January 8, 2020

Jean-Luc Baldes Clos Triguedina ‘Probus’, Cahors, 2005

Jean-Luc Baldes Clos Triguedina Probus, Cahors, 2005

From the cellar: And I thought Ginger Rogers had legs.  Yowza.

 

The first thing to remark upon is this is definitely a Malbec.  The second thing to say is this is definitely a Malbec.  However, and this is probably why wine drinkers like wine, this is absolutely not the coarse, crude or edgy new world Malbec we’ve come to expect at BC Liquor stores.  This was velvet.  This was a Liberace cape.  This was satin sheets in The Godfather.

 

Dark, dark dark, like it has a non-photosynthetic metabolic pathway to be a living thing without light.  Prune plum and chocolate, a hint of mint on the finish.  Believe it or not, 15 years in, light tannins; although it was our opinion this bottle had nowhere to go, it was peak ready.

 

Remarkable.  And then some.

 

Price: No idea.  I was lovingly gifted a cellar pick.  More recent vintages can be found in BC Liquor for the best part of a C-note.

 

Market Liquidity: As Futurama’s Hubert J. Farnsworth might put it with his contradictory catchphrases, “Good news everybody, a simple Cahors.  Wait, this is not a simple Cahors at all!”

 

January 5, 2020

Giovanni Rosso Langhe Nebbiolo, 2016

Giovanni Rosso Langhe Nebbiolo, 2016

I think Anthony Gismondi said that Cab Sauv drinkers should navigate towards Nebbiolo.  That was a Doh! moment for me; of course they should–why I’ve never said that myself is a conundrum…  I think, however, the acidity and tannins are not so similar, and while the average California Cab Sauv is “remarkable” from first sip, the average Nebbiolo is a wait and see and, if decent, an ooh-la-la.

 

This is a red that opens up.  There is no James Bond caper on the first sip; it’s more of a subtle start, Arvo Part minimal leading to a Handel’s Fireworks halfway through.  This is a two-bottle wine; at the last sip you will simply want some more.

 

There is a lot to be grateful for here in the New Year that you can still source a wine of this calibre (IN BC, at the BC government stores) for under $30.  When we started this blog x-teen years ago the bar was $20.  Tax has done us in on that score.

 

Although not as 100% food friendly as the Vajra Barbera we’ve waxed on about here previously, or as assertively Italian as the Vajra Nebbiolo, the Langhe is value, comfort, balances the acidity delicately and has a lighter, more Pinot-ish flair than the Vajra.

 

Price: $29 at BC Liquor stores.

 

Market Liquidity: The ultimate fireside winter sipper.

January 4, 2020

Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz, 2017

Torbreck Woodcutter's Shiraz, 2017

Another gift from Santa.  I must have been a very good boy in 2019.

 

We are doubly familiar with the less expensive Grenache-Shiraz, easy to source, easy to drink, although have never bothered to post a review.  The Woodcutter’s Shiraz, a top 100 2019 wine over at the Wine Spectator (with the 93 point bottle neck seal to prove it…) is harder to find, more expensive, and like our recent post on vintage Rioja, worth every last penny vis-a-vis the prohibitive cost of BC “flagship” reds.

 

The colour is charcoal, the flavour notes teeter on a broad spectrum, between tar (meaning dark and mysterious, woodsy) and cherry jubilee (meaning fruity and rich, creamy, velvet).  The 15% alcohol is I suppose par for the course, certainly over at the Spectator, but this lovely sipper is not top heavy.  There is a faint whisker of syrup in the richness, however the layered flavour notes never cease to surprise.  Halfway though you may come across a palate tangent of cedar frond.  A most impressive gift wine.

 

Price: Gifted, but around $38 at BC Liquor, here and there.

 

Market Liquidity: Delectable, if a tad decadent for us.

January 3, 2020

Faustino Gran Reserva Rioja, 2006

Faustino Gran Reserva Rioja, 2006

Look what Santa brought down the chimney? A very old bottle of Tempranillo.

 

A beautiful wine, quite up front, luscious on the palate with pronounced and perhaps a too assertive woodiness, gorgeous depth and nuanced on every sip.  It drank spectacularly but not cohesively with food.  It shone just on its own.  And it shone like a beacon.

 

Decanter gave it 95 and I think Gismondi 93, but aside from the points let’s just ask a few simple questions.  First, Clos de Soleil: The Signature is a little more, the Reserve Red $15 more.  Over at Culmina?  Their flagship Hypothesis is well above asking.  Blue Mountain has overpriced their reds this year putting a simple Reserve Pinot into the stratosphere.  It goes on and on across BC.  In short, for under $40, you can drink a 15-year-old majestic Rioja, made with love and passion and shipped to BC and marked up beyond belief, or you can spend more, and lay something down, and wait.  And wait.

 

Here is something endearing from a bad translation on the bottle: “The best Tempranillo grape [sic]…a long stay in bottle and passion, a lot of passion.”

 

Price: $38 at BC Liquor if you can source it.

 

Market Liquidity: I don’t know about “in the bottle and passion” combined, but it is swoon-worthy.

 

December 20, 2019

Clarendelle Rouge, 2015

Clarendelle Rouge, 2015

Wow.  What a dud.  Thwunk, pocket’s $40 lighter.

 

When it comes to the elite reviewers, those who score bottle space, James Suckling is probably least to our palate.  He is fast and easy with points, often to deception.  I call him the Peter Travers of wine reviewers (meaning seeing his name on the bottle appears to weigh more heavily than constraint on the pointster front).

 

Let’s be clear: This is “inspired” by Haut-Brion.  It is not the real McCoy.  I would say the 3.5 stars over on Wine Searcher are just about right; it’s middling and approachable and satisfactory at about a C+ level in every way.  Pass.  Suckling waxed on about sandalwood and whatnot, but this is a smooth, easy sipper, generous on the palate, but nothing to write home about red.  It’s like a Merlot without a face.

 

Price: $39 at BC Liquor, recently reduced to $30.  Before taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: If cast on The Watchmen, I think Looking Glass; a reflection, masked.

December 19, 2019

GD Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo, 2017

Vajra Nebbiolo

If we drank one Vajra Barbera this fall we drank 100.  See us falling in love all over again here.  There is no more flexible red at the dinner table.

 

This, the Nebbiolo, is more expensive.  So, let’s call it what it is: The Nebbiolo is better, smoother, has fewer tannins, is gorgeously juicy, refined, elegant, a little suave, and also a little too polished perhaps.  While you can score it for $30 in QC, it will set you back over $40 in BC.  If you can find it.

 

This is a wonderful wine; serve it to guests; impress them.  No one will complain.  But for our tastes, for the glorious slightly rough around the edges hugely food friendly Barbera, we’ll stick with the common cousin, despite the measly 89 points awarded by Gismondi.

 

Price: $43 at Kits Wine Cellar but with a 10% half case discount a better price than many proud BC reds.

 

Market Liquidity: A stellar older sister to a more in your face kid brother, we’ll take the Barbera thanks.

December 4, 2019

Natte Valleij POW, 2015

Natte Valleij POW, 2015

 

The curious incident of the South African Bordeaux blend. Ka-POW.

 

Novel.  And not long and florid but concise and intricate.  Absolutely the most interesting wine we’ve had this fall.  And I’m including a sensational Meursault in November and some half decent Burgundy along the way as well.

 

The label claim is a Bordeaux style blend.  But this is an anti-Robert Parker wine, it has nothing of the rich, opulent and high alcohol intensity of Wine Advocate 90 plus pointers,  the Merlot is a backdrop to the Cabernet Franc and Cab Sauv.  No velvet: Instead this is sharply layered with very crisp, pungent and curious notes of wet forest, scented herbs and just a dash of wood (even after 36 months in oak barrels).  I’m going to call this blend an Isoceles with Merlot on the short horizontal.  Fresh and innovative (or, in fact, fresh and old fashioned).  New to the Vancouver market.  It straddles the funky natural wine movement trend with the old school craft.  Unusual.  Not for everyone but for everyone willing to taste the breadth of Bordeaux at half the price, highly recommended.

 

Price: $35 at Kits Wine Cellar, but a six bottle purchase will reduce it by 10%.

 

Market Liquidity: A needle in a haystack.

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 2, 2019

Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir, 2017

Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir, 2017

Uh-oh.  That was my note on the first bottle.  Notes.  Sum total.  Uh-oh.  So we didn’t post.  I just couldn’t wrap my head around this.

 

But, as is our wont, we got around to a second bottle and gave it some thought and I guess it’s more of a what’s up BO than yikes.  This is definitely not the PN you expect, there is no more Burgundy in this bottle than there is butter in Parkay.  The nose is a tad astringent but the mouth is weirdly and wildly tropical, the coconut overpowers, and the fruit is pineapple and kiwi, not a berry to be found.  It really defied expectation and I’m not sure in a good or bad way.  To be clear, it’s enormously palatable, but line it up with some heavyweight Pinot and you’d be hard pressed to guess the varietal on a blind test.

 

Price: $35 at the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Sisters are Burrowing Owl is doing it for themselves.

December 2, 2019

Costers Del Priorat Pissarres, 2016

Costers Del Priorat Pissarres, 2016

There are better ways to spend $40.  Like, maybe, two bottles of wine.

 

Sometimes, you just want the prune-juice weight and slippery minerality of Priorat, what I often consider Spain’s Bordeaux blend.  And I suppose the Pissarres half delivers; it opens up nicely, a few herbal notes with air and time, but it’s not impressive, it is expensive, and it was only so-so with a basic beef stew.  There is something very young about the 2016, something less than multilayered, which leads me to believe it will never fully bloom the way so many other options at BCL will, although a reviewer said it would hold for a decade.  Pass.  I would recommend you pick up a decent Grenache, at $10 less a bottle, and double your satisfaction–tomorrow night.

 

Price: Regularly $38 before onerous taxes, recently on sale for $35 at BCL.

 

Market Liquidity: Too much outlay for too little return.