Posts tagged ‘Burrowing Owl’

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

May 8, 2017

Burrowing Owl Sauvignon Blanc, 2015

Is the love affair over?


Light, lively, a citrus zest while not weighted down with green grass or herbs, and an oak note almost indiscernible.  Lax on the palate.  Hard to think of this as an accomplished wine in any sense despite many accolades but it’s certainly drinkable.  Glass half full, it makes a nice change from the sometimes oppressive new world SB’s but doesn’t have the layers of a fine Sancerre if, in fact, that’s what they’re trying to mimic.


Day was when Burrowing Owl set the Okanagan bar.  There is something satisfactory but not brilliant about their wines lately, even their more than stellar Chardonnay seems predictable.  Of course I could drink BO all the time but they lack significance, comparatively.  Or so it seems to us.  Still, no year goes by without getting a mixed case.  The SB is currently available online or, believe it or not, at BC Liquor.  There is no way it is a 90 or more point wine.  But its drinkability, a la a decent Pinot Grigio pre-dinner, is unmatched.


Price: $25 at the vineyard, $27 on the Vancouver shelves.


Market Liquidity: Standard issue.

June 24, 2016

Burrowing Owl Merlot, 2010

Sideways is now a play.  Sideways, the book which became an Alexander Payne movie, which transformed wine tourism, at least in California, is now hitting the West End.  A great article with author Rex Pickett can be found here.


My biggest regret about Sideways is that while the volume of Pinot drunk in America skyrocketed, the price of Merlot stayed more or less static.  That, to me, is a con; even gold and silver fluctuate on demand…

Burrowing Owl Merlot, 2010

There has been no reprieve on the price of Merlot at Burrowing Owl.  If you buy it online from the winery, at $30 before shipping, it’s not too hard on the pocketbook.  But locally (and the Merlot is the only BO easily found in private shops), it tops out at $40 once you factor tax.


It is good.  Toxically good.  We definitely finished the bottle (over oven baked broccoli, cauliflower and turkey meatballs).  If The Who was BO wine, Roger Daltry would be their Chardonnay, Pete Townshend the Athene, and Keith Moon (RIP) their 2010 Merlot.  I am not kidding: This wine is that manic, it swings the gambit from soft and lush and typical to aspirations of nearly Cab Sauv profundity (which, no, it doesn’t reach).  There are some serious peaks and valleys as you drink it.  If you need qualifiers, OK: violets and hints of chocolate, tannins, unripe tart blackberries mixed with overripe loganberries, it’s a teeter totter).  All of that, and more, in a whirlwind potpourri that is both intoxicating and confusing.

Burrowing Owl Merlot 2010

Price: In a restaurant at $70 I think it’s a joke.  At $40 I give it a pass.  At $30 it’s half a case.


Market Liquidity: David Sedaris in culottes.  If you get the reference.

January 26, 2016

Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc, 2013

Not Burrowing Owl’s finest moment. But what a fine bottle. If you can find it.

Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc 2013

In restaurants, the Meritage features prominently in the near or plus $100 level. It sets the standard. The CF falls far below, and is less common, but so satisfying nonetheless.


The Merlot is a little slick. I can take it or leave it The Athene, of the BO expensive reds, my go-to, often feels faultless. Reviewers take a hard line on the Athene, but year after year there is some consistency that is almost sentimental. The CF seems to me a wine of many contradictions, directions, nuance and outright mess. But what a gorgeous, attractive and intriguing mess. From cherry to charcoal, from the barn to the orchard, it is sweet and dark, lively and leaden, aggressive and soft.


I drank it first at a Christmas event; thank you Julie for splurging. It spoke to me like a star leading the three wise men. Then I sucked it up and spent over $40 for a bottle. That is too much money. I regret spending the money. But I don’t regret drinking the wine.

Thrift week is over. All hail BC’s ridiculous wine market.

Sometimes complexity is a lot of fun. It’s said that when John Huston was writing the screenplay for The Maltese Falcon, when he ran across some contradictions and holes in the novel, and called Hammett flor clarification, Dashiell was all “well, yes, I know, whatever.” That is this wine, classic without being a classic. I simply wish I could afford it.


Price: The vineyard has it at $33, before all the add-ons. Not so lucky if you live in YVR. Ka-ching.  Try Liberty.


Market Liquidity: It will grow on you. And you’ll be sorry.