Posts tagged ‘Wine Advocate’

May 13, 2021

Envinate Palo Blanco, 2018

Woodsy, walk in the dewy woods, if you will, dampness and pungent, sour, acidic, and heavy, like an earthen pot; and look at the glass, that mellow amber hue.  This is the Yin to, say, an ethereal Alsace white Yang.  And it is novel; pretty much unlike any white you’ll have in the cellar.  I will admit it’s the first Listan Blanco that I’ve searched out.

Over at the Wine Advocate they raved, gave it 97 points, and perhaps in its class (a unique and individual class, like a wire haired Ibizan Hound), it soars.  We couldn’t get past the novelty of it all.  I write that both positive and negative, yin and yang.  The WA used the term “rock juice” which is both accurate and the first time I’ve ever seen a pointster use the phrase in print.

Just as a relevant sidebar: Up at Okanagan Crush Pad they are (in our view) extremely hit and miss, but never do they rest on their laurels.  There is no repetitive “Wolf Blass minimize the vintage variation” at OCP.  And right now they have a Vin Gris which, rather than Pinot Gris, is a Pinot Noir treated as if a white wine.  And it’s novel.  Also earthy, funky, unusual, appealing, and complex.  And half the price of the Blanco.  So if novelty is your thing, you don’t need to travel halfway round the globe to sample the Canarias.

As you reach for the stars with wine, if you are willing to shell out the big bucks, novelty is of course a thing.  Gary Shteyngart can’t stop buying watches, not that he needs another watch.  And we can’t stop buying wine, not that we need another bottle, the cellars (yes, plural), are brimming.  To say nothing of the “everyday” drinkers under the sofa in the coldest room of the house.  And then that box that got delivered to the office.  Or two…

But despite the WA raves, the way this wine opened with air, and the unusual mouth texture, it still left us feeling a bit unsure, deer in the headlights stunned, and over it before it all began. And, yes, the wax on the neck is bar none a gargantuan pet peeve.

Price: $60.

Market Liquidity: Lovely, in passing, but the memory will fade too soon.

April 22, 2021

Chateau Gaillard Clos de Mez Morgon, 2017

Heaven. I repeat: Heaven.

We splurged for an Easter weekend red, something meat and vegan friendly, and this was the ultimate.  So bold and striking, a great big gob of fruity juiciness with these niche floral notes floating through like motifs, great balance, terrific finish.  And we finished it, in a flash.

Rarely do we wholeheartedly buy into the Wine Advocate, but their 92 point review is right on the money, every single point.  It has that ethereal lightness of Beaujolais but legs, determination and assertiveness, and a luscious super appealing garnet hue in the glass. As Anthony Gismondi is wont to say, real wine.

Price: $44 at Marquis

Market Liquidity: Beaujolais goes all “authentic self” on itself.

April 22, 2021

Artuke Finca de los Locos, 2018

The biggest disappointment of 2021 so far.  Wow.  Just not good.

Maybe it was the Wine Advocate’s 93 points, and, therefore, some latent expectation the wine could never meet.  Or maybe it was the cost, and the resentment that comes with paying too much for wine in BC in general.  But really, I think it was that this was not a balanced bottle of wine.  It was like spokes, tangents of greatness, without cohesion.  A blast of oak, a less than enticing splash of cherry, layers of not that interesting yeast.  The joke about Jackson Pollock was that anyone could splatter paint but the reality about his splatter was it was unique.  This is just the splatter.

Ripe.  Way, way, way too ripe.  And nowhere to go but round the cul-de-sac and back again.

Price: $50 before a 10% discount on a mixed case.

Market Liquidity: Ishtar-esque.

March 26, 2021

Artuke Pies Negro, 2018 & Artuke Tinto, 2019

This is a case where the “better” wine was not as good as the “value” wine. (At least according to the Wine Spectator, which gave the PN 93 points and the Tinto 90.)

Let me explain: The Pies Negro is a curious bottle.  It evolved with air, it shifted from an aggressive, acid heavy fruitiness, then chilled out to a very balanced and curious red.  Start to finish it seemed a little tight, but both food friendly and a superb sipper. As Rioja goes it was less plush than some but beautifully rich.

The Tinto, on the other hand, was a fruit bomb.  Lighter on the palate by a mile, there was no mistaking this for vintage Rioja.  It was fun, lively, appealing, on the nose, on the palate.  Astonishingly good value; it shames most of the BC Okanagan. 

The Pies Negro might impress people more, and don’t get us wrong it’s a terrific red, but the Tinto would just please more people.  And that, I think, is what makes us think the value wine wins out.

The PN is a typical Rioja, Tempranillo and Grenache, the Tinto Tempranillo and Viura.

Price: Marquis offered the Pies Negro at $34.69 before tax and the Tinto at $21.65 before tax, but with a mixed half case reduced the price by 10%. So value and valuable.

Market Liquidity: Done and done between two gentlemen.

December 25, 2020

2020 Wine of the Year: Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu Sec Vouvray, 2015

From the cellar: Hands down the best wine we drank in 2020.  Wow.  Words simply aren’t necessary.

As a tradition, we open a bottle of Vouvray sometime in December, celebratory style.  Usually it’s a demi-sec, and more often than not it’s Huet.  The Wine Advocate gave this 2015 a comfortable 93 points, and in some semi-effectual way tried to describe its fruit aromas and subtle herbal aromas.  Unfortunately, their prose couldn’t match the majesty.  This was eloquence, diplomacy, mysterious, a John Le Carre, may he rest in peace.  The WA did write “”a very long and grippy, tension-filled finish” to which I would echo and say it’s Escher-esque.

Chenin Blanc is perhaps the most mysterious (or unpredictable?) of white grapes; it can be coarse and edgy, it can be cloyingly sweet, but it can also age into a deliriously good state.  Witness this spectacular vintage.  I wish we had more.  I wish we had more laying down. But be grateful for small mercies I suppose.

Price: In October 2017, $48 from Marquis, and so less than a bottle of Culmina’s Hypothesis.  Cin cin.

Market Liquidity: The weft and warp of the finest silk in a bottled beverage.

July 22, 2020

Saint-Damien Plan de Dieu Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, 2018

Saint-Damien Plan de Dieu Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, 2018

It might be a CDR villages, but it’s old vines CDR villages, and it shows.  Big time.

 

A spectacular “common” red.  To find a wine in BC around $30 that has this much finesse without dripping in oak or insipidly acidic, is a treat.  Amen to Côtes-du-Rhône.  Grenache and Mourvèdre get married, the former is dominant, but a lovely partnership all round.  Right up there at the Wine Advocate and rightly so.

 

We couldn’t really discern the plum, but the black cherry and big swath of strawberry flood the palate leading to a restrained finish.  True, it’s not Gigondas.  But you know what else?  We’re not royalty, and this drinks better than half the BC Okanagan which sells at double the price.

 

Usually, with a wine like this, Gismondi writes “back up the truck.”  I would echo that sentiment.  That said, on the flip side it is an oppressive 14.5%, something that tends to curry favour over at the WA.  And, despite the recommendation to cellar, we weren’t sure how much further it would go: It drinks today smooth, velvety and delectable.

 

Price: $30 before tax at Marquis, although there was a discount on pre-orders (thank you Marquis).

 

Market Liquidity: U-Haul rents a van for the price of less than two bottles.  Do the math.

February 28, 2020

Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes, 2009

Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes, 2009

From the cellar: No thesaurus has the language to describe this luscious dessert sipper: Stupendous.  Ludicrously good.  Layer upon layer upon layer of flavours.  Ethereal; the proverbial nectar from the gods.  Can you hear my lips smacking?

 

The palate is a veritable wine fractal: Peach.  Apple. Pear. Almond.  Some cedar shavings.  Tangerine.  That might be the half of it.  The depth is absolutely astounding.  Sweet, sweet, but not cloying.  How is that possible?

 

Guess what? The French state owns the vineyard.  If this wine is what it means to elect Bernie Sanders, bring it on.

 

[A pointster first and foremost: Wine Advocate 93.  Wine Enthusiast 95.  Tim Atkin 95.  And 96 from James “nothing under 90 points” Suckling.]

 

Price: Back when the Canadian dollar was actually worth something, we scored this in Seattle for just over $16 USD.  The 2015 is available in Vancouver for nearly $50 CDN.  That’s $100 a bottle.  That’s also astounding and ludicrous.

 

Market Liquidity: As intriguing and appealing as those beautifully pixelated Chuck Close masterpieces.

November 16, 2018

Domaine de la Baume Elite D’or Chardonnay, 2015

Just wrong.  It smells like Australian Chardonnay from the cask.  It drinks like inexpensive over-oaked California Chardonnay.  And then it disappears on the palate.  The heft of the bottle weight, the adornment of points from the WA, and the golden hue of the wine, lean towards something substantial, but like candy floss, while it looks and feels like one thing, on the palate it’s another.  We’ve never experienced a Chardonnay with so little finish.  It’s like a vanishing act.

 

Price: I can see paying $16 all in, as you can in Ontario, but to charge nearly $30 at Everything Wine in BC before taxes seems a criminal act.

 

Market Liquidity: I bought a couple of extra based on reviews (and, yes, the stupid number 90 on the neck).  Guess I’ll be sharing with those I don’t care about sharing with.

 

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.

July 19, 2018

Quinta do Vale Meandro, 2015

A “worth it” blend from the Douro.

 

The proverbial round, full and meaty red without the weight of round, full and meaty reds.  What they call juicy acidity in the trades, and when it hits the palate it teases and entices on that acidity.  The flavour profile is a bowlful of orchard fruits.  Then, a piquant, peppery finish.  Enormously appealing, a bouquet of lavender and light vanilla on the nose.  No weighty powerhouse, we couldn’t sense the tannins identified by the Wine Advocate nor did we find it dry and serious, in fact it has a rather playful, fruity element to the blend the way a fine cru Beaujolais might.  We could easily take up house with the plum and cherry and licorice.

 

Price: $37 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars, a little out of our wheelhouse, but incomparably more likeable than BC reds at $10 more.

 

Market Liquidity: Splurge.  It’s worth it.