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.

October 16, 2019

Burrowing Owl Merlot, 2017

Burrowing Owl Merlot 2017

As we slowly get through the annual case from BOwl, the gentleness of the lot, so far, seems almost middle-aged in their motivation; the wines have a quietness and reserve that drink positively assured and without pretense but also, how can I put it, somewhat low energy.

 

We were goo goo ga ga over the 2010, see here (and, honestly, I don’t think we ever went back for more over the last X years…).  The 2017 Merlot is like the Palmolive ad with Madge the manicurist, calming her clients on the mildness of the liquid; “relax,” BOwl seems to say, “it’s Merlot.”  True, this is not a jump up and down red.  A very, very mild-mannered red.  The most exciting moment is the burst of tayberry with gobs of vanilla followed by a hint of mint.  A tad grassy on the finish.  It did not have the legs for braised short ribs (which were braised in red wine and porcini mushrooms and were not, say, chipotle strong or overly complex), but was a sensational sipper.

 

Price: A modest $32 at the vineyard.  Much more in local shops.

 

Market Liquidity: Dick Cavett-y (extremely competent, ridiculously low-key).

madge the manicurist

October 7, 2019

Chateau de Pierreux Brouilly, 2016

Chateau de Pierreux Brouilly, 2017

Ernest Ice Cream could market this; coconut, cherry, vanilla soda.  Without the fizz of course.  Pops of light, lively flavour tied down with a finish that seems grounded in terroir.

 

Martin Short’s brilliant song about the spectrum of sexuality on season three of Big Mouth got us thinking about how varied the cru Beaujolais wines are.  Seriously.  That was the trajectory.

 

You can almost make them fit into the slew of the song’s androsexuals, polysexuals and demisexuals.

 

The more cis gendered of the lot are, you know, Morgon, Chenas, those “guys.”  They assert themselves with their earthiness and spice.  I’m sure there’s Morgon plonk to spare, but in my limited experience I’ve never had a Morgon that didn’t taste like a Morgon.  Soooooo predicable.

 

But St. Amour, what’s that except love in a bottle?  Who could celebrate Valentine’s without a glass?  It’s undefinable.  And Fleurie, is it a teen at  prom giving his date a bouquet or (non-heteronormative neosexual) nymphs frolicking in a meadow?  It’s a yin and yang of sexual possibility.

 

Brouilly, which often blends Gamay (should that even be allowed? Do we need to write to the AOC?) is the sort of hybrid bisexual of the lot.  A little bit this, a little that.  Personally, Brouilly is less “reliable” than some of the other Beaus, if you will; it can stun, it can soothe, it can stumble.  Here in BC, you will often land upon the latter.

 

This bottle (not expensive, easily obtainable) is definitely a stunner.  I was a little put off that Gismondi reviewed it (the price will probably go up now) and then mentioned it again as a midweek option (it will probably sell out now) but there you go.  Nothing can remain a hidden gem forever.  Try it; see if it will transcend your boundaries.

 

Price: $20 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: It’s on the spectrum baby.

Martin Short on Big Mouth.png

October 3, 2019

Zuccardi Q Malbec, 2016

zuccardi Q malbec 2016

Malbec is not our thing (in a major way).  And this Malbec, despite its serious points credential (witness the proudly displayed Robert Parker seal of approval), is really not our cup of tea.  There’s a line in the sitcom Difficult People where they tell an embarrassing story about Arthur, the PBS WASP drone husband of Julie, that one time he ordered a Malbec. Laugh if you get it I guess.

 

But here’s the rub: Zuccardi makes some good wines and this wine is ludicrously food friendly.  The Q series is not top of the line Zuccardi but we’ve had it several times with different foods and while it’s not a star varietal it has a blank canvas food friendly aspect which never ceases to surprise.  There is no supercharged oak.  We drank it this week with Japanese beef stew, heavy in ginger, Mirin, squash, soy and stock.  It was ideal.  Who would of thunk?  But a bit dull as a sipper.

 

Price: A reasonable $28 at private wine shops, give or take.

 

Market Liquidity: Leonard Zelig-esque.

 

Oh and a link here to our over-the-top Zuccardi tasting night in Buenos Aires, a few years back, at El Baqueno.

arthur tack difficult people

Arthur Tack has a drinkypoo

October 2, 2019

Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris, 2018

Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris 2018

We drank a lot in September, wines that have littered this blog for a decade, locals like Blue Mountain, a number of Pinots (the reds, the whites), lovely hearty Oz heavyweights and French Beaujolais.  The lot.  But nothing we haven’t reviewed prior.  So now it’s try something new.

Not.

This is the time of year to get a case from Burrowing Owl, one of the few “moments” where you can score both their Chardonnay and various reds in a single order.  In the mix we opted for some Pinot Gris, although usually I prefer the Blue Mountain (“regular” and “reserve”). While the Athene towers above the rest, the Merlot is probably our favorite.  But today it’s worth lauding the latest Pinot Gris.

 

BOwl, as we call them, have come up with one of their liveliest PGs in a while.  Super piquant with lots of crisp citrus acidity and some mellow peachy cordial on the finish.  Ridiculously easy to drink and food friendly with something on the tame slash vegan end of things.  Value and then some.

 

Price: $21 form the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Light, lively, a score.

And just to prove the repetitive point, here are the BOwl links from so many posts gone by: Here, here, here, here, here, here, and yes here.

August 25, 2019

GD Vajra Barbera D’Alba, 2016

GC Vajra Barbera D’Alba, 2016

Pizza for dinner.  Home-made thin crust with Oyama chorizo.  Didn’t want a “special” wine that would shout “hey, I’m better than pizza” or something too plonk-y and brash.  Happened upon a reasonably priced bottle of Vajda (which, to be fair, hits the stratosphere in some varietals).  And wow.  What a spectacular pair.  All the heft and strength you need with tomato sauce but none of the rough edges.  Deeply evocative of Barbera, fruity, currant and red berry top notes with a muscular, sinewy finish that sips wonderfully then crushes it at the dinner table. The oak is milder than an Irish backstop.

 

The last time we bought this wine (post here, March 2017), a 2013 vintage, we had a similar reaction: Superb with food, why don’t we drink this all the time?

 

Same day we corked this beauty a friend sent me a wonderful label, shown below, which pretty much nails it: We want to drink good wine with food.  We don’t want it to fuck up the taste of our cheeseburger.  Note to Robert P: We want to drink wine with food.  How about a 10 point system that starts at 86 and rates wine with food?

 

Price: $34 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Love at first bite.

cheeseburger

August 24, 2019

Ridge East Bench Zinfandel, 2012

Ridge East Bench Zinfandel, 2012

From the cellar: Well we loved this wine in 2014, post here, and we loved this wine in 2018, post here, and now we arrive in 2019, seven years down the road, nearing the end of our half case, and it is nothing but joy and pure, undiluted pleasure.  It seems pointless to go on and on about Ridge, as we have on this blog for a decade, but here we go again, going on and on about Ridge.  Too bad it remains stratospherically out of reach for the everyday drinker.

 

Price: $28 US in 2014.

 

Market Liquidity: A little bit of heaven.  Correction: A lot of heaven.