June 18, 2021

Bizou + Yukon BEE-zoo Bubbles, 2018

This is an easy-off flip cap and easy on the pocket-book super effervescent, no buoyantly effervescent sweet—but not too sweet, not cloyingly sweet—decently fruity if in a faux fruit sort of fashion, bubble gum fruit flavour, perfectly sippable patio style (not so much celebratory style) lively and colourful as in literally colourful Okanagan fizzy that for the product has an exceptionally long finish like this overwritten sentence.

Price: An extremely reasonable $23 at Jak’s.

Market Liquidity: Better than Prosecco.  Repeat: Better than Prosecco.

June 18, 2021

CVNE Gran Reserva Rioja, 2013

From the cellar: Is this the best kept secret in Vancouver?  In the middle of a pandemic we walked into a private wine store and bought a seven year old bottle of Rioja.  As part of a mixed half case they gave us a 10% discount.  And a year later, when we got around to popping the cork, it was fireworks.

Now for the savvy, 2013 was not a good year, if years are your primary concern.  It’s not a bottle to hold, it’s a drink now (the 2015 to current vintages are your cellar picks).  And yet it rolled onto the tongue like Diana’s silk-taffeta train in St. Paul’s, lingering, impressive, gorgeous.  Robert Parker thought it light and I would agree that comparatively, back to back Tempranillos, yes.  But somehow it was light in an invigorating and inviting way.  It drank with a mellow oak, a clove slash star anise undercurrent, and restrained fruits.

Price: $40 after the discount in May, 2020.

Market Liquidity: A whole lotta satisfaction.

June 18, 2021

Domaine Brusset Gigondas Les Hauts de Montmirail, 2010

From the cellar: 2010?  Well, first of all, here’s a forgotten bottle.  It happens.  Purchased 2012!  Obama was President!  Survivor was in Samoa!

We fully expected this to be past; it was novelty only, zero expectations.  And with zero expectations we were pleasantly rewarded.  Gobs of fruit, mixed berry compote, almond, a zingy, fruity, chewy dark cherry.  On our first glass if was shockingly tart on the nose but creamy on the palate.  An hour later, a complete transition; nothing tart of any note, Ribena, raspberry, velvet.

Price: Not sure, it was in ink and the ink had run.

Market Liquidity: To borrow from the Dr. S, how did it get so late so soon?

May 14, 2021

Hester Creek Trebbiano, 2019

Trebbiano in the Canadian Okanagan.  Who knew? And old vines at that.

To be fair, we knew; during the stay at home C19 days of stir crazy stillness.  And we knew where to score it at the vineyard price, in Vancouver, at $23, rather than, say, Marquis, at $29.  So why bother blogging about that little secret?

During the darkest days of the pandemic winter, a glass of this was transformative; it could truly evoke a stinking hot day on a vine draped pergola over a long Italian lunch.  The 2018 was fruity, rippled with a honey sweetness, and sat on the tongue like Sun-Rype Apple-Cot nectar from back in the day.  A gem.  A real surprising I can’t believe this came from BC gem.  The 2019? Well, err, you know, good I guess.

The 2019 and 2020, both available from private stores in YVR, are just as a bottle to bottle comparison, a tad less thrilling than 2018.  Either the wine is the same but the world is different or the vintages just don’t have the same pop as 2018.  Gismondi called this a highly affordable treasure; that it is, and at the vineyard price it’s a summer slam dunk.  And to think no one else is growing this ebullient treasure.

Price:  $23 at a store that got the price wrong.

Market Liquidity: Travelogue in a bottle.

May 13, 2021

Envinate Palo Blanco, 2018

Woodsy, walk in the dewy woods, if you will, dampness and pungent, sour, acidic, and heavy, like an earthen pot; and look at the glass, that mellow amber hue.  This is the Yin to, say, an ethereal Alsace white Yang.  And it is novel; pretty much unlike any white you’ll have in the cellar.  I will admit it’s the first Listan Blanco that I’ve searched out.

Over at the Wine Advocate they raved, gave it 97 points, and perhaps in its class (a unique and individual class, like a wire haired Ibizan Hound), it soars.  We couldn’t get past the novelty of it all.  I write that both positive and negative, yin and yang.  The WA used the term “rock juice” which is both accurate and the first time I’ve ever seen a pointster use the phrase in print.

Just as a relevant sidebar: Up at Okanagan Crush Pad they are (in our view) extremely hit and miss, but never do they rest on their laurels.  There is no repetitive “Wolf Blass minimize the vintage variation” at OCP.  And right now they have a Vin Gris which, rather than Pinot Gris, is a Pinot Noir treated as if a white wine.  And it’s novel.  Also earthy, funky, unusual, appealing, and complex.  And half the price of the Blanco.  So if novelty is your thing, you don’t need to travel halfway round the globe to sample the Canarias.

As you reach for the stars with wine, if you are willing to shell out the big bucks, novelty is of course a thing.  Gary Shteyngart can’t stop buying watches, not that he needs another watch.  And we can’t stop buying wine, not that we need another bottle, the cellars (yes, plural), are brimming.  To say nothing of the “everyday” drinkers under the sofa in the coldest room of the house.  And then that box that got delivered to the office.  Or two…

But despite the WA raves, the way this wine opened with air, and the unusual mouth texture, it still left us feeling a bit unsure, deer in the headlights stunned, and over it before it all began. And, yes, the wax on the neck is bar none a gargantuan pet peeve.

Price: $60.

Market Liquidity: Lovely, in passing, but the memory will fade too soon.

May 13, 2021

Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon, 2015

From the cellar: Ah yes I remember it well (said Maurice Chevalier in Gigi for anyone under 102).  This gorgeous wine straddles the fence of sticky, crushed blackberries, inky on the fingers after picking, with cleaning the stalls at the racetrack.  There is a deep, dark, currant and savoury streak crossed with the barnyard, undeniable Cab Franc, exquisitely French Cab Franc, and 100% Chinon.

This is our last bottle (of the Jean-Maurice Raffault, may he RIP, 2015).  Gismondi apparently recommended it as a cellar pick; it held up well.  Based on our notes from last summer, the tannins have diminished significantly.  We have no note on purchase date but get this: It was under $20.  So go figure, must have been sold before it was bottled! I think it’s been lying for four years at least.  There is only one Chinon at BC Liquor, as of this post (ONE CHINON I write in all caps, how pathetic is BCL…), and it’s $35 before tax.

Price: $19.49 at BC Liquor (back in the day).

Market Liquidity: Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live on the Loire.

April 22, 2021

Chateau Gaillard Clos de Mez Morgon, 2017

Heaven. I repeat: Heaven.

We splurged for an Easter weekend red, something meat and vegan friendly, and this was the ultimate.  So bold and striking, a great big gob of fruity juiciness with these niche floral notes floating through like motifs, great balance, terrific finish.  And we finished it, in a flash.

Rarely do we wholeheartedly buy into the Wine Advocate, but their 92 point review is right on the money, every single point.  It has that ethereal lightness of Beaujolais but legs, determination and assertiveness, and a luscious super appealing garnet hue in the glass. As Anthony Gismondi is wont to say, real wine.

Price: $44 at Marquis

Market Liquidity: Beaujolais goes all “authentic self” on itself.

April 22, 2021

Envinate Vinos Atlanticos Migan, 2018

Listan Negro.  Say what? 

Earthy.  Like damp forest, pine needles and boggy soil, really unusual, mysterious, and although deeply engaging a tad strange.  There is a Cousin Itt about the palate finish, odd but lovable.  Unexpectedly hugely food friendly.  Some smoke on the nose with crushed currant underneath.  Pretty hard to describe, not easy to engage with, novel, but yet delectable.

I think it’s unfair to call this a Spanish red.  A Canarias wine should, arguably, be African.  As for the wax top: Is there any more profound way to disengage with the end user? To frustrate bartenders and servers? To make a fucking ludicrous mess of the kitchen?  Bits of wax showing up weeks later like NYE glitter.  That’s a sour note before the drinking even begins…

Price: Well good luck to start with but if you can actually score a bottle in Canada, let alone BC, it will set you back at least $45.

Market Liquidity: Mos Eisley on Tatooine.  It really is that odd.

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April 22, 2021

Artuke Finca de los Locos, 2018

The biggest disappointment of 2021 so far.  Wow.  Just not good.

Maybe it was the Wine Advocate’s 93 points, and, therefore, some latent expectation the wine could never meet.  Or maybe it was the cost, and the resentment that comes with paying too much for wine in BC in general.  But really, I think it was that this was not a balanced bottle of wine.  It was like spokes, tangents of greatness, without cohesion.  A blast of oak, a less than enticing splash of cherry, layers of not that interesting yeast.  The joke about Jackson Pollock was that anyone could splatter paint but the reality about his splatter was it was unique.  This is just the splatter.

Ripe.  Way, way, way too ripe.  And nowhere to go but round the cul-de-sac and back again.

Price: $50 before a 10% discount on a mixed case.

Market Liquidity: Ishtar-esque.

April 12, 2021

Domaine FL Le Parc, Savennieres, 2015

Pure and unadulterated.

Decanter got it right, “best in show” like the title pooch at Westminster.  It drinks so precious you might feel a Faberge egg is being scrambled.  Striking on first taste, a short tropical note of coconut, some serious acidity, grapefruit pith, and a finish, extremely restrained, of melon.  Jackie O in a sweater set and pearls.

Chenin Blanc, in our view, is to die for.  My desert island white.  And no doubt this is a pinnacle of the Loire.  But it does drink just a tad, how can I put it? Elegant.  Sort of like arriving at a restaurant that requires a jacket and having to wear a club loaner; think Michael Bluth double dating at the country club in the size 44 large suit jacket.

Price: The best part of $50 at BC Liquor

Market Liquidity: Art house treasure (but, still, it’s art house).