Posts tagged ‘Robert Parker’

September 14, 2021

Chateau Villegly Minervois, 2018 & Mitolo Jester Shiraz, 2018

Thud and plunk.  Epic fail of the pointsters.

Let’s start with the Robert Parker 90 pointer, the Oz red.  Heavy as lead.  What a walloping clunk of everyday red.  We were expecting a fruit forward, peppery Shiraz with a touch of black currant.  But it was less than full bodied, rather one-note, and really not complementary (to a not very spicy and lovely chicken chili). 

Then there’s this average, virtually generic red recommended by James Suckling.  If you poke around online you’ll see it was selected for Air France Business Class, but I guess the contract was cancelled due to the pandemic.  Maybe at 39,000 feet it would have the legs to stand up in the stratosphere.  But back here on earth it’s a tad inconsequential.

Let’s be fair: Both are drinkable, truthfully nothing much wrong with either, but there’s nothing much right either.  And both are hugely forgettable.  There is basic red a plenty in the BC government system, it’s unfortunate that the gold seals on a few bottles put a focus on something just not that much better than those without a gold seal.

There’s a spot-on random online review of the Minervois that finishes “…a lingering hint of pepper adds some interest to the fruit-fueled finish.”  Some interest.  Exactly.  Some.  That’s about as generous as I think you can be.  88 points tops.  Although not a direct comparison, we were sipping a young, robust Syrah from Clos de Soleil the same week, and it just delivered so much satisfaction.

There’s very much a “pop song hit” to both these wines, something of the moment, a catchy tune that fades into the backdrop. 

Price: Minervois around $20 (if not discounted on a bulk buy) at private stores, the Mitolo less than $25 in Ontario, over $30 in BC.

Market Liquidity: What were the lyrics to Blurred Lines?  Oh right, I’ve forgotten already.

Boldly Basic. Where Pointsters Fear to Tread

September 14, 2021

Montevertine Toscana, 2005

From the cellar: Well, from someone else’s cellar.

Let’s just say you knew someone who collected wine but ended up drinking too much wine and that led them to AA and when they went dry they started giving away their cellar.  Let’s just pretend that happened to me.  But, you know, even people who go dry hang on to their past.

Robert Parker said this wine had not much room to improve and recommended it be drunk at least four years ago.  On the one hand, it’s true; the wine is past it’s peak.  But it’s definitely not past.

The red colour, light, cardinal as opposed to carmine; it drank soft on the palate, ethereal.  It had lost all of the boldness it probably boasted five years ago.  Prune and dried apricot and a little loamy earth, not much on the nose but a stupendous, lingering, luscious finish and a glorious 13% to boot.  Honestly, we opened it expecting a bomb, and were thrillingly surprised.

Price: Gifted, but Tuscan heavyweights in Vancouver start at $50.

Market Liquidity: No market left on this puppy, just after market satisfaction.

June 18, 2021

CVNE Gran Reserva Rioja, 2013

From the cellar: Is this the best kept secret in Vancouver?  In the middle of a pandemic we walked into a private wine store and bought a seven year old bottle of Rioja.  As part of a mixed half case they gave us a 10% discount.  And a year later, when we got around to popping the cork, it was fireworks.

Now for the savvy, 2013 was not a good year, if years are your primary concern.  It’s not a bottle to hold, it’s a drink now (the 2015 to current vintages are your cellar picks).  And yet it rolled onto the tongue like Diana’s silk-taffeta train in St. Paul’s, lingering, impressive, gorgeous.  Robert Parker thought it light and I would agree that comparatively, back to back Tempranillos, yes.  But somehow it was light in an invigorating and inviting way.  It drank with a mellow oak, a clove slash star anise undercurrent, and restrained fruits.

Price: $40 after the discount in May, 2020.

Market Liquidity: A whole lotta satisfaction.

August 31, 2020

Culmina Cabernet Franc, 2014

$38 is too much money for this wine. 

The pointsters will rarely write something so baldly true but it’s true.  I mean you can spend $1500 on a French CF at BC Liquor, if that sort of cash is burning a hole in your wallet.  But CF is something we have, in BC, in relative abundance.  There is plenty of wholly palatable non-plonk under $30.  And $38 is the vineyard price.  You will pay more at the VQA stores in YVR (if you can find it).

A big chunk of this blog isn’t to weigh in, pointster style, on how wonderful wine is, how true to the varietal, or not.  We have given ourselves over to the vice.  Wine we have decided is wonderful at 89 points or 92.  Most of our comment is to think of the after cash money we have to spend on wine, the exorbitant prices we pay for wine in BC, and then to look at value, per sip, per meal, and unlike the Robert Parkers of the world, with comp bottles and label mania, we basically come down to utility and satisfaction.

It’s a wonderful bottle.  It’s just at least $10 too much. 

Price: I think I mentioned it?  (And last time I did intentionally shop for a BC CF, Seven Stones, Tinhorn, Black Sage and quite a few other totally acceptable and very tasty CF’s were less; markedly so.)

Market Liquidity: The loveliness was diminished by the price tag.

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.

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

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

November 4, 2018

Enebral Tinta de Toro, 2015

James Suckling described this as tasting of ivy and forest floor.  Say what?  There is pronounced vanilla, a smoothness that is as deceptive as black ice, giant tannins and gobs of plummy, jammy fruit.  We didn’t get the tightness Robert Parker alluded to but we do agree a dozen in the cellar will pay huge dividends.  At the price it’s a slam dunk and exceptional in more ways than it’s worth describing.  Buy now, buy lots; the holidays will be upon is in weeks.

 

Price: An astonishing $23 at Everything Wine

 

Market Liquidity: A case for the wedding.  Or just to drink on Tuesday nights.

November 3, 2018

Tinto Negro Limestone Block Malbec, 2015

The entry level TN Malbec will set you back $15.  It’s good patio value.  The Limestone Block will set you back double.  But it’s not twice as good.

 

With decanting and a little air this will soften up and beckon.  Previous vintages have scored highly with James Suckling and Robert Parker.  They like the balance, fruit and herbal notes.  We found it muted.  All those things they like are present, you just have to close your eyes and think hard.  It’s not an open book.

 

Price: $30 at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Fleeting.  Think of a trumpet mute; it has an effect, but nothing worth a whole symphony.

August 24, 2018

Il Grigio da San Felice, Chianti Classico, Riserva 2009

From the cellar: The Wine Advocate came out with a 93+ points rating for the 2009 Il Grigio (in 2013).  We bought six bottles.  I have rarely been more in accord with (what I call) The Robert Parkers.  The only regret is that six was far too few.

 

We drank our next to last bottle this week and nearly wept.  It was like velvet, slathered with cream, topped with faux fur resting on a water bed; it was like Ellington and Coltrane In a Sentimental Mood; it was like Frank singing Nice ‘N’ Easy crossed by Ella singing It Never Entered My Mind; it was like a zero gravity chair on a Quaalude.  It really was.

 

Last time we got around to reviewing this Chianti, proper content review, the layers of floral flavour, the muted tannins braced against a woodsy tang, the gorgeous lip smacking fruit bomb of it all, we were in similar awe.  This just keeps getting Wow and more Wow.  But the strange thing is of all the Il Grigio we’d drunk since the 09, nothing has measured up.  It’s like a good standby, an old reliable, but the 09, as I say it’s pure Wow: This is what it’s all about when it comes to lying down wine.  Buried treasure.  Sangiovese rocks.

 

Price: $18.60 USD in 2013; around $30 CDN for the current vintage.  Stellar value.

 

Market Liquidity: Manna from heaven.