July 10, 2019

Drinking Wine in Italy

After a month in Italy there is nothing much to do except complain (again, more) about wine in BC.  The sheer misery of the options, the insane cost, the supply chain to the hospitality industry, and on and on.

 

What’s VAT in Italy?  22%.  Twenty-two per-cent.  And yet, and yet you can pick up phenomenal local wine for 12 Euros (approximately $18 CDN).  Wine at a restaurant, really lovely drinkable wine ins the 14-18 Euros category.  We found in Puglia that if you wanted to shell out the very grand amount of 20 Euros you were heading into 92 pointster categories.  It was wow and wow and more wow and easy, easy, easy on the pocket book.

 

In the above (random) collage (much edited) I’ve pasted the two most expensive bottles at top that we decided to try along the way.  The Michele Calo Spano Salento Rosso, which retails for close to 40 Euros, we scored for 35.  It was excellent, absolutely hands down the best Negroamaro we drank (and we drank a lot) although given what’s available in the region it defied type; it seemed almost Californian in its clean modernity, the lack of acidity;, the abundance of fruit but without supreme depth made it seem a little too Robert Parker for us.  As for liquor board controlled buying, I would say both BC and Ontario fail the consumer when it comes to Negroamaro. Fail.

 

Next to that you’re looking at a (random sample) of a truly wonderful local Primitivo, the Schola Sarmenti Cubardi Primitivo.  At the wine store 12 Euros, in a restaurant we scored if for 22.  And it was just all awesome; oodles of cherry and smoke and chicory and herby notes that define terroir.  We’ve had the decent bottle or two of Primitivo in BC but nothing like the Cubardi range (for which there are a number of varietals and all are worth a sample).  As for liquor board controlled buying, Ontario does a decent job with Primitivo; BC, however, is again a fail.  In London (UK) you can find this monumentally satisfying red for 15 pounds (or less than $30 CDN) which is just ludicrous.  What Okanagan plonk can a Canadian score in BC, taxes all in, under $30?

 

Lower left is a wine from a local masseria, the L’Astore Alberelli Negroamaro.  Organic.  Old vines.  High in alcohol and not cheap and not easy to access, even in Lecce, but we found it, and we loved it, and we wanted more, and couldn’t get it, and that of course led to me on another BC wine rant.  This was a juicier, rounder, plumper Negroamaro with tannins that sat up against red fruits with a challenge.  Outstandingly food friendly, from stuffed zucchini blossoms to ragu orecchiette.

 

The whites down south were hit and miss.  With temperatures in the mid to high 30s they needed to be cold, and outside they warmed up too quickly.  (A red, however, refrigerated briefly, then served al fresco, that worked a dream.)  Having said that, it was easy to access Friulano.  Welcome to my newest favorite varietal.  Full, assertive, nuanced, fleshy, like ripe nectarine juice running down your chin.  Gorgeous with southern Italian cuisine.  The Doro Princic is a relatively inexpensive white, 14 Euros, with  nothing going against it except availability.  Ontario and BC, our largest socialist fueled wine buyers, how ya doin’ with Friulano?  Two and one.  Fail and fail.

 

The last wine, also a pricey bottle, is from the Bastianich vineyard, deep down in the heel.  And, if truth be told, the only reason I bought it was because of, you know, Lidia and Joe and how pompous Joe comes off on TV and how full of himself in respect to their wine he is which they “personally oversee” in Puglia and so on.  They have a base model Friulano but in for a penny we got the Plus, a whopping 30 Euros (but, let’s be fair, that’s $45 CDN and plenty of BC top wines are more than that before onerous taxes).  Gorgeous.  Speechless I am in its appeal, from aroma to palate; the proverbial nectar from the gods.  So, here I’m going to compare it with top whites from, you know, Culmina, Clos de Soleil, Meyer, and all I can say is they are lost in the dust (or, as things go in Europe, the diesel particulate).  But so is BC when it comes to choice, diversity, and consumer appetites.

 

What’s next BC Liquor?  One white and one red from a spigot?  BC Liquor: It’s a fail, Herculaneum Pompeii style fail.

May 30, 2019

Teusner “The Gentleman” Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014.

Kenwood's Wilder Diamond AKA Tony

Our dog died.  A friend brought round a decent bottle of wine for us to remember him by.  But drinking just wasn’t on the agenda. Then, a few weeks later, we sat down and opened the gift.  Wow.  This was EGOT good.  Gobs and gobs of acidity but what the aficionados refer to as juicy or attractive acidity.  Flavour notes deeper than a Welsh coal mine.  Delicate, exquisite, it begged to be sipped.  Slowly.  Little nips like fine Sherry.  While it beat the band with dinner it shone, aurora borealis shone, as a sipper. 

Price: Around $40 at private wine stores but even so hard to source.

Market Liquidity: Shows up the fraud of so many BC reds at this price point.

Teusner “The Gentleman” Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014.

May 28, 2019

Ritual Casablanca Chardonnay, 2016

Biodynamic brilliance. What do the French think when they drink a wine this well crafted? Ooh-la-la, how can we compete? This delectable, restrained Chardonnay is fruit forward, imperceptible oak, layered, complex, with a wet linen astringency on the finish. Subtle but profound. Lovely.

Price: We sourced it at Everything Wine but it’s since gone out of stock. $34?

Market Liquidity: Evocative of something much more prestigious.

May 28, 2019

Bachelder Parfum de Niagara Pinot Noir, 2016

Bachelder Parfum de Niagara Pinot Noir, 2016

So we’re out for a meal at the AGO in Toronto and the waiter suggests a Niagara Pinot, all in for under $50.  In a restaurant.  A joke?  It sounded like a joke.  I nearly did a spit take.  Anything but however.  Who knew Niagara could be so uncompromising?

 

This is small batch Pinot made with the utmost care.  It’s baffling in its deliciousness, delicate berries with a gorgeous spring blossom perfume, the hintiest hint of oak, deftly crafted, food friendly to within an inch of its life.  To which I could go on about Bachelder, after the rabbit hole of Google led me down some serious biographical detail, but to see the limited production not spread past the Canadian Shield left us chill.  Too bad; this is g as in gorgeous, as in gobsmacked.

 

Price: Less than $50 with the restaurant markup.

 

Market Liquidity: Wow wow.

May 27, 2019

One Faith Vineyard Malbec Petit Verdot, 2016

One Faith Vineyard Malbec Petit Verdot, 2016

Yikes.  An epic fail from Bartier Brothers.  Wow.  We tried.  Sipping.  Smelling.  Aerating.  This is just aggressive, potent, a clash of no merit.  Words fail me.  Weird to boot with a grassy finish.  I was an inch away from installing Grammarly to avoid the vile language littered in my tasting notes.  Shame.  Same day we had a glass of their rather brilliant Semillon, an 11.6% wonder that is food friendly, light, lovely and delectable and nearly half the price.

 

Price: $33 from Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: Throwaway B-side.  At best. And I’m not thinking Ruby Tuesday with Let’s Spend the Night Together B-side.  I’m talking Cold Turkey Don’t Worry Kyoko B-side.

May 27, 2019

Cistus Faugeres, 2015

Cistus Faugeres, 2015

BC Liquor had this $30 wine on sale for $27.  It promised melon and kumquat and honeysuckle, and it delivered nothing.  In what has been a string of disappointing, dull and unmemorable wines this spring, the Cistus takes gold in the white category.  I don’t think even on a July day in the shade of a lime tree at Glanum would this hold interest.  More dullards in the BC wine marketplace than gnats in the evening sky. Who is the Ombudsperson for the abundance of boredom in the socialized wine market?

 

Price: $27 at BCL, reduced from $30.

 

Market Liquidity: Consumers: rise up.

May 27, 2019

Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir, 2016

Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir, 2016

Uh-oh.

Another BC disaster.  Enough acid to bring on GERD.  No subtlety, no lightness of touch, no deft currant slash raspberry slash oak.  Heavy and dull.  Just baffling that wine this uninteresting and inconsequential is sitting on the shelf at $30.

 

Price: $30 from Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: Brash and ineloquent.

May 27, 2019

Haywire Secrest Vineyard Gamay, 2017

Haywire Secrest Vineyard Gamay, 2017

You know what?  Surprisingly good in that it was surprising and at the same time good.  Juicy, fruity, delicious although it tends sweet and with air became cloying.  The chocolate notes are not easy to place, even if you linger and sip over the course of an evening.  The complexity, well, let’s not get carried away.  This is a solid Gamay from the BC Okanagan; it’s no Cru Beaujolais.  But it has the echoes of more expensive Pinot, rougher around the edges but no less attractive, and the average joe is much less likely to grab a Gamay than Pinot Noir, which makes this easier to find and easier on the pocket book.

 

Price: $29 at Kitsilano Wine Cellar (buy six for a 10% discount).

 

Market Liquidity: Nothing to sniff at.

May 27, 2019

Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay, 2016

Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay, 2016

BC Liquor had the MS on sale, $5 off.  Strictly speaking, you have to be in the mood for California Chardonnay.  Usually there is that Pythonesque 16 tons on your head to the oak.  But this was, surprisingly, light (as CA Chard goes), not too obtrusive, stellar with seafood, lime and stone and honeydew on the palate, and, as it warmed slightly, some banana and fresh bread.  In terms of our tastes, what we gravitate to, this is a non-starter.  But as the overstocked shelves at BC Liquor attest, taste is not the market. If BCL could bring themselves to actually sell this $5 off, it could be a Tuesday night slam dunk.  As such, no such luck.

 

Price: $35, regular price, before taxes, BC Liquor

 

Market Liquidity: Hey BC Liquor: Rather than “sell” wine how about curating wine?

May 27, 2019

Seppelt Rutherglen DP 59 Rare Tokay

Seppelt Rutherglen DP 59 Rare Tokay

The last time we wrote about the Beringer Knights Valley Cab Sauv it was 2011!  Since then I guess two things have happened.  The wine is still astonishingly good garnering up some reviews of much substance and BC Liquor still sells it at a huge markup.  But for a recent dinner of braised short ribs we pulled out a bottle with friends and there you go, perfection.

 

But this post is about what I thought would top off the evening nicely, a spot of Seppelt Rutherglen DP 59 Rare Tokay which I’d scored at least a year ago from Marquis.  And did this disappoint?  Well, yes, it did, I mean a little.  Fruit, complexity and length, OK, all present and accounted for.  There is oak and some herb notes that make it, aroma and finish, wonderful.  But the texture, the Rogers Golden Syrup consistency, heavy and thick leave you a little non-plussed.  At this price point we’d much prefer rare Madeira or, if finishing a meal, a switch to Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.

 

Price: Around $50 at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: Been there, done that.