March 20, 2019

Stina Cuvee White, 2016

Vij recently served this with curry at the Vancouver Wine Festival.  Local wine aficionado Anthony Gismondi said it was a big hit.  So I bought a bottle (my first bottle of Croatian wine, ever,) and cooked up some curry (an eggplant curry by Meera Sodha, the phenomenal Meera Sodha, if you are not cooking her recipes you are not cooking Indian at home), and corked the Stina.  Thank god the curry was a slam dunk.

 

So this is what I can say unequivocally: Vij recently served this with curry at the Vancouver Wine Festival.  Local wine aficionado Anthony Gismondi said it was a big hit.

 

Price: $21 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity:  Has, apparently, some utility.

March 16, 2019

Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay, 2014

There was a time when Wolf Blass defined good taste in wine.  And that time was three decades ago.  And, for me, I can even define it further: 1984 in Sydney when WB was both affordable and astonishingly good.  But now?  Talk about retro blast from the past.

 

This is a totally pleasurable Chardonnay, no strikes against it.  For the person who wants a wine, year after year, to taste pretty much the same, within a very, very narrow range of differentiation, Wolf Blass rules the southern hemisphere.  Perhaps only Beringer comes close with this sort of equilibrium.  But isn’t part of the pleasure of drinking wine that difference vintage to vintage, that variability?  If it is, I suggest you move on.

 

Glass half full: Class act.  Glass half empty: Next. Quickly.

 

Price: Regularly $25, on sale for $20, so extremely good value.

 

Market Liquidity: Like an 80s playlist.

March 14, 2019

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc, 2017

Knot, knotty, knotted.  Any tighter and this could winch up the Titanic.  Think SB in a straight-jacket.  Slick in its near perfection of that green, hay, gooseberry Sauv Blanc predominant down under Kiwi style, and with the Decanter scores to prove it.  Sure they have, I don’t know, perfected the classic New Zealand Sauv Bl; but is it just really good Sauv Bl or a true pleasure to drink?  In our household the jury is out on that.

 

There was a time when NZ was cutting edge for their forward, acidic and deeply complex Sauv Blanc.  I really couldn’t get enough.  Nowadays, it’s as though they’re just making the same thing over and over; highs and lows of a repetitive theme.  Halloween 12 anyone?  Some of us have gone back to the muted, floral notes of Sancerre.  Others are reveling in the newbie upstarts; try the gray label Haywire for starters.

 

Price: A rather hefty $35 at BC Liquor before taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: Good (but predictably good).

February 27, 2019

Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria, 2016

Maybe the lightest and most delicate red you’ll taste in a year; like raspberry soda.  Ethereal on the fruit front.  Tannins in spades, flowing like Niagara, but fruity and juicy and like a lure: take another sip.

 

Without any heft, it’s a wash against substance.  Try it as an aperitif or with nothing stronger than buffalo mozzarella or Gouda.

 

As a hot weather red, in the shad of vines spread across a pergola, probably divine.  But in the middle of winter a novelty.  Does not compare to their astounding Chardonnays.

 

Price: A rather hefty $38 at Kitsilano Wine Cellar.

 

Market Liquidity: Novelty makes a nice diversion, but that’s about the extent of it.

February 26, 2019

El Pacto Rioja, 2016

Everything you want in a Rioja at about the price you want to pay for a Rioja.  Drinks like something more expensive, silky tannins, assertive structure, decent fruit, some nice dark hints of charcoal and chocolate; full bodied but not flabby.  Food friendly, a decent sipper, and a lovely label to boot.  There will be multiples down the road.

 

Price: $30 at Kitsilano Wine Cellar

 

Market Liquidity: Surrender to the old school finesse.

February 25, 2019

La Frenz Chardonnay Reserve, 2016

Is the LF reserve markedly better than the non-reserve?  I guess so.  It looks better in the glass with its deep golden hue.  It has more of the assertive oak and piquancy that is the hallmark of the house.  Do we like it?  We love it.  Year after year.  But we’re never sure how much more we love it than their run of the mill Ch.  I mean for $20 La Frenz turns out a palatable and “drinker friendly” Chardonnay that perks up any seafood dinner.

 

Hard to find, worth finding, worth having in multiples. Too bad about the cork, it seems a little pompous, but a perpetual favorite in our cellar.

 

Price: $25 from the vineyard and worth each cent.

 

Market Liquidity: It always seems a little special, even if predictable.

 

February 24, 2019

Liber Farm & Winery, Signature Red, 2015

We did not understand this wine.  We were baffled by the weight, stunned by the attack, left listless by the brashness of the blend, and confused by its identity.  The Similkameen is awash in wonderful wine, you almost could do no wrong.  Or so we thought.  The 40% Merlot is like a chimera, the Cabernet Franc the Penn to the blend’s Teller.  I don’t think we’ve drunk a more unappealing and mixed up BC red in years.  Enough said.

 

Price: $28 as Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: Did I say “enough said” already?

February 24, 2019

Fuiedo Maccari Grillo, 2016

Fuedo Maccari bottles some more than worthwhile reds.  Why not give the Grillo a go?  Crisp, light, sometimes sharp like grapefruit pith, our nominal experience with Grillo is it’s the arch enemy of Riesling.  But it’s a fine line between refreshingly appealing and innocuous.  This teeters towards the latter.

 

Like a whisper of breeze on a humid day, this wine has no staying power.  Not on the nose, not on the palate.  It’s simple, it’s one note, there is only a nuance of tropical fruit, and if there’s anything exceptional it’s how refreshing it could be eating fritto misto on a terrace in Sicily with a view of Malta in the distance where, truth be told, the wine doesn’t have to be very good to make the day especial.

 

James Suckling gave this a 90 and called it full body.  Wow, what planet was he on?  Full body? This couldn’t pass as a limbless bust in the ruins of Pompeii.

 

Price: $27 at Kitsilano Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Like the rat at the end of The Departed: not necessary.

February 23, 2019

Bleasdale Mulberry Tree Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015

There is something about Australian Cab Sauv that’s never 100% as good as you hope regardless of the price.  Shiraz? Out of the park.  Cab Sauv, hit and miss.  This doesn’t miss, but it’s no home run.

 

The Bleasdale scored high with Halliday and we’re not in disagreement, particularly the very palatable tannins, which in Napa would probably choke, and the predominance of cherry and black currant.  Smooth and decent with red meats but also without the depth the label proclaims.  Order it in a restaurant.

 

Price: $18 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Good value but not great value.

February 22, 2019

Santa Julia Reserva Malbec, 2017

It’s young.  It’s not expensive. It’s littered with pointster stickers.  And yet?  It delivers.

 

With some air and time and despite its youth this is just surprisingly good value, gorgeously expressive of Malbec, tasty, tangy, forward, food friendly, and easy on the pocket book.  Who woulda thunk it?

 

Price: $17 at BC Liquor

 

Market Liquidity: A minor miracle.