October 17, 2017

Swartland Bush Vine Chenin Blanc, 2015

The acidity hits you first.  Then a tsunami of tropical notes, pineapple, guava, passion fruit.  The finish is a creamsicle.  It’s astringent and rich together.  My God, I could drink a decent Chenin every day, but am clearly in the minority (if restaurant wine lists are anything to go by—CB is rarely on offer, certainly not in the “by the glass” section; you might see a Vouvray in a hoity-toity place but these dry workhorse whites, primarily South African, damn they are versatile and exciting).  With every glass we liked it more.  It was like a seduction.

 

Price: $31 at Marquis, a lot for a SA Chenin, but worth a half case if you can stomach the financial pain.

 

Market Liquidity: It grows and grows on you.  I mean hopefully not like Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors.  But still.

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October 15, 2017

Quinta Ferreira Algaria, 2010

From the cellar: Almost two years after we went gaga over this kitchen sink blend, we opened the last bottle from the cellar.  First, our review from 2016 still stands.  Second, rest in peace White Rock Swirl.  Third, see the first two.

 

Price: $30 back in January 2016.

 

Market Liquidity: A powerhouse of “delectability.”

October 13, 2017

Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat, 2016

2016. Really. Really?  Really.  2016.  I mean how is it that a 2016 can be this good?

 

A Grenache heavy blend that begs to be shared and savoured amongst friends.  Close friends mind you; don’t waste it on the B-52/Cosmo/Mojito crowd.

 

Ooh la la.  Onyx cherry.  Overtly maraschino.  An alcoholic splendour.  Velveeta smooth. It sipped like manna from heaven although the 14.5% alcohol didn’t shine with dinner, as was a bit too young.  Impossible to say whether this had ten years left to improve and mellow or whether I should get a case and just burn through it all by Christmas?

 

Price: A rather hefty but deservedly $43, give or take, at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: Ridiculously sublime. Think Charlie Chaplin climbing the curtains in The Great Dictator.

October 12, 2017

Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva, 2012

The reds we like, the reds that really shine without breaking the bank, have slowly moved into a break the bank category: More and more we’re shelling out $28-42 for a bottle to really bow down to.  And of course enjoy on a Tuesday night.

 

Having said that, it’s important to remember that drinkable (if somewhat forgettable) and totally decent everyday reds at or just under the $20 mark are still out there.  Hard to find in BC (and in my view it’s like playing the slots, you spend $100 on five bottles to find one keeper, whereas you could have 2.5 totally extremely gratifying at that price, no loss…)  The Campo Viejo comes in a totally palatable Tempranillo and a food friendly reserva, both under $20 before tax.  Do I hear “open bar” anyone?  How about, even, a palatable house wine under $40?

 

If you like the classic plummy peppery vanilla oak that Robert Parker does, you can’t go wrong with the reserva.  It’s like a lesser version of those monumental Napa reds he scores in the 94 point range, without the lingering depth or interest, but certainly with the same flavour profile.

 

Price: $18.50 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Like a mediocre SNL impersonation it hits the mark, but barely.

October 11, 2017

Chateau Clarke, 2010

Another decent mainstream Bordeaux that you can source at BC Liquor if you have a 50 in your wallet burning through the cowhide.  This has what the experts like to write, in an upbeat way, as having “fleshy tannins” which, to be fair, give it some character.  There is a cross of berries, brambly and woodsy the way an unripe raspberry can taste, a note of black cherry, and a top-heavy finish reminiscent of old oak.  If you need to serve a “label” and pedigree is all that matters, then I guess you could do much worse.  But at the price point there are actually many other more interesting bottles both here in BC and across Europe.  We couldn’t get too excited, despite the word Rothschild in fancy script; at seven years of careful cellaring you just expect more. (It definitely needs air; a small glass when we opened it compared to a decanted glass an hour later were chalk and cheese.)

 

Price: $44 plus extras at BCL. Yowza.

 

Market Liquidity: It’s a Bordeaux.  Next.

October 10, 2017

Clos du Soleil Syrah, 2014

Assertive and heartwarming all at once.  I would characterize this as rough around the edges and needing some lie time (but with a screw top the question of how or what will improve is a hot topic particularly when you tour the Okanagan and engage with the vintners).  No reviewer would ever write it, but while this is a great red it’s not “fun”; it’s practical and well constructed and lovely to drink but lacking pizazz and charisma.

 

Price: A reasonable and (for BC wines) thrifty $30 at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: Close, like a wheelchair parking space, but also like a gimme in golf.

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September 21, 2017

Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Violette, 2015

I simply don’t have words to express how enjoyable this wine is.  And I don’t mean all the facets of the blend or the artistry which you can read about far and wide (it has been justly and muchly praised and frankly reading about LVP can be tiresome in the most academic of ways) but just the sheer enjoyment of it, the lushness and satisfaction, the goodness of it without being too wow or overpowering or having to aspire to some branding tag like “super Tuscan” or whatever, just ridiculously quaffable and deeply interesting and although pricey not nearly as dear as many BC “signature” reds.

 

LVP calls this wine feminine but it didn’t remind me of, say, St. Amour or Fleurie, which I think of as feminine, but, of course, it is on the “walk into a florist” side of things. Sip and see the light.

 

Price: $30 at a private Vancouver wine shop before taxes ( in July) but now no longer easily found.

 

Market Liquidity: If you can find it find it.

September 19, 2017

Ch. Peyguerol Costieres de Nimes Rosé & Haywire Secrest Mountain Gamay Noir Rosé, 2016

We finished off the summer on the most spectacular of Labour Day weekends with some half decent plonk, although neither of these rosés left a huge impression.

The C d Nimes was my preference of the two, even when it veered to being peachy to the point of punchy.  Aromatic and fruity but not cloying.  The Haywire is more of a lab experiment gone awry: it’s sharp, it’s tart, it’s like a pop rock without the pop.  The concrete vats and native yeast have left it sere and flat and confrontational, like running into a thug in a dark alley by accident.  I think it will please the wine aficionados in its uniqueness (in terms of the BC rosé production) while deeply offending the average joe looking for a decent rosé.  The OK Crush Pad description (which was part of the rationale for the purchase) reads:

A delicate salmon hue, lifted berry fruit, with a hint of thyme and spice. Delicate floral and citrus notes dance on the palate. Texturally lush and glossy, with a fresh and lively finish.

Wow.  That’s some bone of contention there.  Where’s the ad standards council when you need it?

 

Price: $25 each give or take.

 

Market Liquidity: Neither was pricey, neither was impressive.

 

August 29, 2017

Errazuriz Aconcagua Alto Carmenere, 2014

Sweet.  In all its meaning: As in good wine, as in good price, as in a tad too much residual sugar.  Now of course this is a dry wine with low residual sugar and it’s purely perception and barreling that throws the harmony of it all, but it does sit on the tongue with a somewhat cloying black currant finish.  But it is astonishingly good value and enormously approachable; a little less of the spice and pepper you might expect in Carmenere and a little more of the violet and rosewater you might get in Merlot, but at the price it’s worth a case.

 

The back history of Carmenere is interesting, if you have the inclination to Google it, because post-Phylloxera there’s virtually none left planted in Bordeaux.  And Aconcagua is (if you’re ever in Chile) a beautiful if remote valley (north of Santiago) that produces some interesting high altitude wines and worth the minor trek.

 

Price: $20, give or take, at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: This is what Decanter calls a weekday wine but which we call a stupendous value.

August 23, 2017

Haywire Waters and Banks Sauvignon Blanc, 2014

Like a Jamaican steel drum band; it really is that assertive. Without any of the dry hay or dewy green of New Zealand classics, and zero oak.  A really appealing floral nose belies a spicy, acidic and invigorating flourish on the palate.  Tangy, zesty, piquant finish.

 

Although there’s no oak, the malolactic fermentation gives it a funky charge that is either greatly appealing (us) or not what you’re expecting (probably a lot of New Zealand SB purists).  Gismondi said this should “scare the Kiwis” and gave it a 90 point nod but I think for $10 less the masses will likely stick with Brancott, and be happy with that decision.

 

Price: The 2015 is out, $25 at the vineyard, but you can source the enormously drinkable last year’s vintage for $27.75, before taxes, at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: Oak shmoak.