June 25, 2017

Undurraga TH “Terroir Hunter” Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013

Bold.  Brazen.  Beautiful.  You could cut this with a knife.  It’s heavy and full and deeply nuanced and HEAVENLY; please excuse the excitement.  It’s a heavyweight in the most primal, decadent and meaty sense.


Sometimes you just need something assertive and monumentally Cab Sauv and this is so perfectly present and incredibly tasty, who cares if it has legs and we opened it too soon?  It was sheer pleasure for a moment.


Price: Gifted.  But I sourced the TH Shiraz in the 30s.


Market Liquidity: Like the Rod Stewart track, it did not last, it did not last till the weekend.

June 22, 2017

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier, 2014

When we open a Chenin Blanc we are predisposed to expect something of a cross between butterscotch and cream soda, and then plus, plus, plus.  And when we open a Viognier we are predisposed to expect a tangy, spicy kick, with a rich, maybe oily residue on the palate.  And then when we saw this blend and didn’t know what to expect we were completely ready for a marriage made in heaven.  But it is in fact something of the War of the Roses.  A lovely golden hue, a not too enticing nose and flat on the palate.


Clang, clang, clang went the trolley.  As they say.

It was, initially, an experiment.  Robert Parker lauds it and apparently so do consumers, it’s a hit.  Go for it.  But we found the fruit and floral a clash.  The thing is, we had a Rhone blend earlier in the week at Vancouver’s new Botanist restaurant at the Fairmont Pacific Rim.  They have a well sourced by the glass menu including (the impossible to source commercially) Domaine de la Mordorée, Cuvée La Reine des Bois, Grenache Blanc Blend.  Wowza.  This was a stupendous stunner with gobs of depth and layers of flavour and ridiculously food friendly.  What a blend.  Sometimes the French get it oh so right.


Price: Lost the receipt but a reasonable “in the low 20s” at Kitsilano Wine Cellar.


Market Liquidity: A curiosity.

June 15, 2017

Yangarra McLaren Vale Grenache, 2014

Below expectations: Complex and intense and concentrated. 91 points (Wine Advocate).  I think that was on the sticker with the price tag in BC Liquor where it was marked down a notch to about $32 before extras.  The word concentration is wine review speak for heavy, as in dense on the palate like cheap port, and not always pleasant.  Think of the way concord grape juice sticks to the tongue.  The residual sweetness is not approachable, it’s assertive and, depending on whether you’re tasting or eating and drinking, it’s overdone (tasting, just odd when eating).  There is a sting of the spice drawer, a mix of clove and cinnamon, which to us was uneven but lovely on the nose.  Is it drinkable?  Is it a sipper, food friendly, delectable?  Yes, yes and yes.  And while it drank like velvet it seemed to lack the novelty and curiosity of many Spanish Garnachas (which you can source at a lower cost).


Price: Regularly available around $35 depending where you shop.


Market Liquidity: It passes muster.

June 10, 2017

Pfaffenheim Pfaff Gewürztraminer, 2014

Gold the label proclaims.  And it is a golden pour, a lush and covertly leaden golden nectar.  There is more than a hint of rosewater, which is less cultivated garden and more Indian lassi.  The sweet, like an overripe lychee, is juicy but ever so slightly tips towards cloying, and gives it a headiness reminiscent of a perfume counter.


As a food wine, in Vancouver, with all the West Coast has to offer, it’s stellar.  Cheese, fish, shellfish, Vegan.  But as a sipper it was patently less than refreshing.  All that said, as I’ve said many times, Alsace can do no wrong; it’s just we hold the Alsatian bar a little higher and expect a little more.  (Compliments on the screw top.)


Price: $19.49 before tax.


Market Liquidity: Supremely affordable and at the price point, yes, golden.

June 5, 2017

La Stella Vivace Pinot Grigio, 2016

I avoid Le Vieux Pin.  Our reviews have always been muted by the price point and the presentation as though there is something better in the bottle than you might imagine.  It rubs me as precious and then, sometimes, preposterous.  We wrote here, in 2012, that LVP “pretends to produce wines that are much better than they really are.”  This un-objective bent has led us to, in general, avoid LVP’s boutique kin La Stella which has (I think) the habit of tourist tchotchke kitsch in naming their varietals as if they were kittens.  Vivace for Pinot Grigio. Fortissimo for, oh Jesus it’s hard enough to read a German wine label or remember the few hundred Italian varietals let alone these inane nicknames.  It’s tiresome.  The beauty of the new world is you buy Semillon, not Bordeaux Blanc.


But it’s also time to bury the hatchet with LVP/La Stella on this lovely sipper, as the days are longer and the temps are higher and this speaks to everything you might want in a rosé but with actual character.  Lovely layers of fleshy fruit and blossom lightness, a meady-y sweetness and a brisk acidity.  Refreshing to boot.  And, wait for it: An affordable, drinkable, BC sipper.  Perfection with an Ottolenghi orzo main.


Price: $29 at Everything Wine ($23 at the vineyard).


Market Liquidity: A bracing, evocative BC white.

May 20, 2017

Château le Puy Emilien, 2012

Slow cooked pork belly with root vegetables

Hard to find fault.  Despite the long oak aging, it doesn’t thrust itself upon you; it has that je ne sais quoi of fine French reds.  Blind, I think you’d mistake it for 90% Cabernet Franc: There is an up front woodsiness to it, fennel, chocolate, licorice, intermingling with a slight funk, but low tannins and velvet on the palate, like the Merlot we’d expected.  Gorgeous with food, which we enjoyed at Kisso Tanto, the current go-to Chinatown spot in YVR.  And 12.5% for all that gorgeousness.  Vive le France.

Price: A shocking over the top outrageous $80 in a restaurant to which I might add, the “plonk” was going for $60.  Sold out, in my searches, at any local shops.


Market Liquidity: Think Mel Tormé in his heyday.

May 19, 2017

Sea Star Pinot Gris, 2016

Flat out the most interesting white of the spring.  And with our crap weather, this was spring refined.  Hard to find, hard to figure out in fact, the strange intent of this wine which wavers between something German and something Australian.  A gorgeous sipper, with on the one hand a heaviness and on the other something ethereal, which does not infer balance.  It’s cryptic.  Light, lemon blossoms with heavy, guava undertones; like that, with umpteen more fruit and floral metaphors.  I just couldn’t get over it; simple yet perplexing.  Loved every drop although it kind of (unexpectedly) fell flat with a basic mac and cheese dinner.  If you can source it, source it.


Price: Lost the receipt but less than $25.


Market Liquidity: We went through a Sea Star tear not too long ago, here and here and here and here, but this would top our list.  So far.

May 18, 2017

Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014

I went into this with a cynical sneer.  It’s been a long time since I purely enjoyed Mission Hill.  I find the breadth of their output like Mercedes Benz, trying to be all things to all people without just focusing on doing less, but very, very well.  Well I was surprised.


This has a lush, jammy, soft and comforting dark fruit hit on the tongue with a gentle leathery finish.  It drinks like many California reds but slightly less alcoholic and not quite the affront you might expect.  Professionals use words like generous and on a wine like this; extremely easy to the last drop.  You can pick it up from the vineyard for under $30 and on that note alone, highly recommended.


Price: Gifted.


Market Liquidity: Not every Stephen King is a hit, but when he hits they are big hits.

May 12, 2017

Puy Redon Chardonnay, 2013

Wow.  Wow, wow, wow.


Is it Olivier LeFlaive?  No.  No, it’s not Hospice de Beaune.  It’s from Bergerac, a region you might be hard pressed to locate on a map.  You’ll want to visit after half a bottle.  What balance.  What sensational balance.  Honestly, this was just a wine of exceptional craftsmanship, it didn’t veer towards the barrel or overpower with acidity or accidentally find itself in corner knee deep in butterscotch.  It was honed or finessed or managed to a brutal simplicity, toasty nuts, wild honey, tropical blossoms.  Just a treat.  An absolute treat.  One of the reasons we drink so much different wine is to discover something like this.  Did I say wow?


Price: Gifted.  Couldn’t source a local provider but it retails in other provinces near the $50 mark and that would be the 2015.


Market Liquidity: Nadia Comenici in a bottle.

May 9, 2017

Rocca di Montegrossi, Chianti Classico, 2014

First, not the finest Chianti in BC and not the finest under $50 even at the government stores.  It is like luxe plum juice, has a cordial bent that is pleasant enough, smooth like silk, but not with all the dimension and ka-ching of a few others we’ve tasted over the years–plus it doesn’t quite have the heft of its compatriots.  However, however, however: This is sensationally affordable for the quality in the bottle.  And it drinks just as good as BC red wines twice and even three times the price.  Plus it has some legs.  This is a “stocker upper” if you can get it.  I can’t imagine finding a BC red as drinkable at this price point.


Price: $28 at BC Liquor.


Market Liquidity: Organic to boot.