Posts tagged ‘Anthony Gismondi’

January 15, 2021

Le Vieux Donjon, 2017, Painted Rock Red Icon, 2017

With Christmas gift certificates in hand we decided to drink like the other half (or at least the one-percenters) for, you know, as long as the gift certificates held out.

They held out for two bottles. 

Thank you Government of BC.

For starters we drank what Decanter called the Canadian red wine of the year and adorned it 95 points; Gismondi, 93, similarly lauded it, among the other usual suspects.  If you want to read about the hoopla surf over to the PR site here.

Here’s our review (or lack thereof): Is spending double on a bottle of wine a better experience, by half, than drinking two (decent) bottles at half the price?  If you are one of the seven people who regularly surf to this site (our stats show us firmly in the single digits, but loyally so, and I would like to thank the steady seven), then you know what I’m going to say next: No.  Wine reviewing is something of a racket.  To borrow from Fran Lebowitz, they show a Picasso in an auction house to silence, sell it for 160 million, the gavel comes down and they applaud, they applaud the price.  Does anyone care about the art?

For the unaware, it’s episode two of the Netflix series Pretend it’s a City.

The Painted Rock is widely available, in BC Liquor, private stores, the vineyard.  At the price point in the middle of a global pandemic what can you expect?

For even more coin you can choose from the organically farmed and never disappointing Rhone.  Here’s the funny thing about the Donjon: It’s the right year.  Gismondi wrote recently about his quirk towards the vintage, not just the wine.  This might be the most engaging aspect of drinking wine, long term, how much a single vineyard can vary year to year and the nuance and delectability of monitoring the change.  So I would say we are more or less on the same page as AG.  Here’s the catch, and I wonder how frustrating it is for AG: In BC, the government liquor stores are usually a year behind.  A top review comes out at the Advocate or Spectator and next you know that vintage sells out.  BC Liquor skips a year.  It may be the single most frustrating aspect of buying wine in BC.  Let’s say the 2017 gets a top review, 2016 can be found in stores, we don’t get 2017 and go straight to 2018.  But, as I say, the Donjon is the right year—or, to put it more simply, the 2017 is the bottle Jeb Dunnick gave 95 points to.

Both wines are good to glorious.  Both wines are hugely satisfying (in our minds, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape slightly ahead).  Both wines are outside our budget.

Price: The Painted Rock with tax comes in around $60 while the Donjon with tax just under $70 but since both were covered (mostly) as a gift, so it’s mostly a gratis posh nosh.

Market Liquidity: Silver Charm over Captain Bodgit, by a head. (Translation: Two thoroughbreds.)

October 20, 2020

Culmina Hypothesis, 2012

From the cellar: A perpetual critic’s pick, Gismondi basically gives it a pass, year after year.  It is a typical Okanagan potent potable, with heft and then some.  And although I’ve only drunk less than five bottles, since discovering Culmina, it’s never left a huge impression.

It certainly lacks the wow factor of, say, Ridge or Caymus.  It doesn’t have the huge appeal you’d expect at the price point and being a BC flagship red blend, being the Culmina flagship red blend.  But it’s good.  $50 good?  You tell me.

How we came across this 2012 I don’t know; perhaps a gift, maybe a purchase at the vineyard.  We do have another lying down, part of their mixed six pack reds they offered this summer.  But the 2012, at eight years, did not leave anyone at table champing at the bit for more.  Which is a shame, this should be a celebratory bottle.

Price: Lost our record, but close to $50 I would imagine.

Market Liquidity: Not every Mercedes is a gullwing 300 SL; in other words, buyer beware the lure of luxury.

July 29, 2020

Tenuta Di Tavignano Costa Verde, 2018

Tenuta Di Tavignano Costa Verde, 2018

Anthony Gismondi called this wine crazy delicious and I’d be hard pressed to disagree.  It’s refreshing, zesty, ridiculously food friendly, a light 12.5% on the alcohol.  Look at that gorgeous ochre tone in the glass!  We got more citrus and a hazelnut as opposed to almond than AG remarked, but the tropical notes shine through bright and appealing.  Shame it doesn’t come in the curvaceous bottles common in corner shops in Italy.  And thanks to AG because (generally) cheap Italian whites in BC are, well, usually cheap (forgettable) Italian whites.  This is lip smacking lovely.

 

Price: $27 at BC Liquor

 

Market Liquidity: Now it’s just a matter of getting Canadians to drink Verdicchio…

April 29, 2020

Colle Stefano Verdicchio di Matelia, 2018

Colle Stefano Verdicchio di Matelia, 2018

Bartlett pear, clover honey, and a good hit of stone with a dry, abrupt finish, but an acidity that breaks through cured meats, olives and firm cheese.  Wait: this isn’t a wine review.  This is the saga of the sorry state of affairs when it comes to wine in BC.

 

Let’s start here: Some good memories, years ago, drinking decent everyday Italian wines, some Corvo, Frascati, Verdicchio.  Then let’s jump forward and try to find those working horse wines in BC.  Good luck.

 

True story: I went into a well stocked private wine store and asked if they had any Verdicchio.  The proprietor said “Verdicchio?  I wish.”  That really says it all.

 

So when a local distributor had some organic bottles available we decided to get a case.  Not because we wanted a case, because short of driving all over the city, from store to store to store, trying to find a single bottle, the only way to order through the distributor is by the case.

 

Wait, you say.  It’s 2020.  Search online.  Oh, you’re hysterical.  Let me know which nights you do standup.  Search online indeed.  [Note for another post: The three wine stores in the province with search friendly online databases.]

 

Get this: After you order you wait a month.  Even though the wine is here, even though you’ve specified where you want to pick it up, it takes three or more weeks to cross the city.  Then the local store calls you and, you go, and you pay.  And you have a case of wine to drink.

 

There could be a better way.  Gismondi has written widely on the price point of BC wine, on a lethargic and unwieldy government system, on barriers to wine trade.  But really, we live in a modern democracy.  We should have wine clubs like the New York Times and Wall St Journal and umpteen other American versions.  But we don’t.

 

The online databases for most stores are poor, inaccurate or nonexistent.  The best of the online databases, Everything Wine, is even a little clunky and can be awkward when they run lower than a case at any given store.  In other words often.

 

So, in short, if you are passionate about wine, the system is set up to ensure your passion is quelled and you drink at the mercy of higher ups that have a grander notion than personal taste.

 

Price: Is it relevant?  In the grand scheme of things?

 

Market Liquidity: A lot of work to spend a lot of money for what was, last time I checked, a pleasure of adulthood, not a penalty.

March 27, 2020

Domaine Ollier Taillefer Faugeres, 2015 and Chapoutier Les Meysonniers, Crozes Hermitage, 2016

Chapoutier Les Meysonniers, Crozes Hermitage, 2016Domaine Ollier Taillefer Faugeres, 2015

We’ve been drinking a lot of “hot review” wines lately and coming up short.  Two today for example.

 

Both these wines are 90 pointsters and neither lived up to our anticipated hype.  The Faugeres had no breadth, it’s decent, palatable, mildly interesting; herby, wet earth, dry. The tannins simply clashed outright with a simple chicken dinner. The Crozes Hermitage must have legs; it has hints of greatness but you never know.  Gismondi said it had a twist of garrigue (that’s acceptable to write in the Saturday paper; the NYT is equally cryptic on Saturday, we expect having to use Google to decipher), and suggested three to five years.  Yes; three minimum.  We went looking for it because he quoted the price at $27, but it was in fact $30 before tax.  We saw the merit in two or three of the Chapoutier in the cellar; the Ollier seemed better off in the late afternoon sun in the Languedoc.

 

Price: $33 and $30 at BC Liquor and, occasionally, at Marquis.  The Chapoutier is regularly available at Kits Wine Cellar; feel the braille label.

 

Market Liquidity: Win some, lose some.

March 27, 2020

Altesino Rosso di Montalcino, 2016

Altesino Rosso di Montalcino, 2016

Reviewers love this wine.  We were mildly satisfied.  Out of the bottle it has no new world charm; it needs a minimum of 20 minutes decanted to bloom—and then it rewards.  Decanted or even aerated, whatever you’ve got.  More subtle than the Vajra we’ve been addicted to of late, the smoky, earthy, coolness of it with just tinges of berry and plum, come on lovely.  Not a long finish.  It might have legs, and we have a few laid down to find out, but for food friendliness and to please company, you’d actually be better off with something like the Celestiale.  It was a slog to source, then of course we wanted to try it out to see if it fit our palate, then  a double slog to find it again to lie some down.  Work equals force times distance and there was too much of it all; thanks BCL.  I think Gismondi referenced it as a lesser Brunello which, I think, is disingenuous.

 

Price: $29 at BC Liquor (when and if you can find it).

 

Market Liquidity: Well worth it, but not worth the effort to source.

February 25, 2020

Vaglio Chango Red Blend, 2015

Vaglio Chango Red Blend, 2015

From the cellar: Miracle in Mendoza. An Argentinian red blend that Gismondi recommended to lie down.  So we did.

 

It took a while to open (from sharp to warm and fuzzy in about 20 minutes) but was delectable with some air.  Not sure it had anywhere further to go, but as of now, five years in, muted tannins, soothing woodsy oak, and prominent herby notes melded with dark fruits. Lots of texture, the Malbec countered by Tannat and Cab Sauv. Puts the lush in, er, lush.

 

It lacked the diversity and kapow of the vintage Rioja we were gifted over Christmas but it was gorgeous nonetheless.

 

We lay down but one and this is no longer in the BC Liquor catalogue.  So it goes.

 

Price: $23.50 at BC Liquor in 2018.

 

Market Liquidity: Suave and debonair like a David Niven anecdote.

February 21, 2020

Tightrope Shiraz, 2016

Tightrope Shiraz 2016

Gismondi liked it.  I think a lot, so we got a bottle. And it was beyond a pass.  Just totally forgettable.  But we bought another bottle a few weeks later.  Props to our local producers, right?  And the second time round it was fine.  You know, a half decent red.  It was easy to drink but unremarkable, flavorful but not pronounced, a tad too flowery for us, for Shiraz/Syrah, without some redeeming finish, by which I don’t mean half baked but I do mean comme ci comme ca.

 

Price: Well if you score it at Save-On, and buy enough for the discount, you can come out around $30 before taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: You know that Oscar Wilde line, If I put on music no one will hear it, if I don’t everyone will?  Sort of like that.

January 5, 2020

Giovanni Rosso Langhe Nebbiolo, 2016

Giovanni Rosso Langhe Nebbiolo, 2016

I think Anthony Gismondi said that Cab Sauv drinkers should navigate towards Nebbiolo.  That was a Doh! moment for me; of course they should–why I’ve never said that myself is a conundrum…  I think, however, the acidity and tannins are not so similar, and while the average California Cab Sauv is “remarkable” from first sip, the average Nebbiolo is a wait and see and, if decent, an ooh-la-la.

 

This is a red that opens up.  There is no James Bond caper on the first sip; it’s more of a subtle start, Arvo Part minimal leading to a Handel’s Fireworks halfway through.  This is a two-bottle wine; at the last sip you will simply want some more.

 

There is a lot to be grateful for here in the New Year that you can still source a wine of this calibre (IN BC, at the BC government stores) for under $30.  When we started this blog x-teen years ago the bar was $20.  Tax has done us in on that score.

 

Although not as 100% food friendly as the Vajra Barbera we’ve waxed on about here previously, or as assertively Italian as the Vajra Nebbiolo, the Langhe is value, comfort, balances the acidity delicately and has a lighter, more Pinot-ish flair than the Vajra.

 

Price: $29 at BC Liquor stores.

 

Market Liquidity: The ultimate fireside winter sipper.

January 3, 2020

Faustino Gran Reserva Rioja, 2006

Faustino Gran Reserva Rioja, 2006

Look what Santa brought down the chimney? A very old bottle of Tempranillo.

 

A beautiful wine, quite up front, luscious on the palate with pronounced and perhaps a too assertive woodiness, gorgeous depth and nuanced on every sip.  It drank spectacularly but not cohesively with food.  It shone just on its own.  And it shone like a beacon.

 

Decanter gave it 95 and I think Gismondi 93, but aside from the points let’s just ask a few simple questions.  First, Clos de Soleil: The Signature is a little more, the Reserve Red $15 more.  Over at Culmina?  Their flagship Hypothesis is well above asking.  Blue Mountain has overpriced their reds this year putting a simple Reserve Pinot into the stratosphere.  It goes on and on across BC.  In short, for under $40, you can drink a 15-year-old majestic Rioja, made with love and passion and shipped to BC and marked up beyond belief, or you can spend more, and lay something down, and wait.  And wait.

 

Here is something endearing from a bad translation on the bottle: “The best Tempranillo grape [sic]…a long stay in bottle and passion, a lot of passion.”

 

Price: $38 at BC Liquor if you can source it.

 

Market Liquidity: I don’t know about “in the bottle and passion” combined, but it is swoon-worthy.