Thursday, December 26, 2013

And I heard him exclaim as he rode out of sight......

...Merry Christmas to All!
And to all, a wine flight!

or something like that.

Had a lovely dinner here on Xmas Eve with my mom and her common-law husband and put out a few choices for her to pick for wine:

We decided the one on the left, the 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon from Portugal, was too tempting as a curiosity to pass up. I picked this up at a BC Liquor Store just before Xmas for only around $25, so really I wasn't expecting much.

I was right. Undrinkable. Down the sink.

Next we moved onto the most expensive bottle pictured, the one in the middle.

2000 Wolf Blass Platinum Label Cabernet Sauvignon ($109.99)

We just bought this one recently, so since it had been sitting on a store shelf since being bottled in 2002, I was half expecting it to be corked (in which case I would return it), or absolutely amazing.

It was neither, unfortunately. It was.....good. Just good. Definitely on the decline but not all the way there, we finished the bottle and enjoyed it, but it was far from transcendent. 83.

Next we moved on to one we've had before at our infamous 5-star wine pairing dinner at Victoria & Albert's in Florida last year.

2008 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($79.99)

Beautiful notes of berries and dark chocolate greet the nose and your palate will be pleased with an incredibly silky mouth feel and long, smooth finish. Simply sublime and the tannins are still a bit firm, this wine could age well for another decade or two. 94.

We have two more of these in the cellar, planned to open one every five years to see how they age.

My mom likes Syrah, so we then moved onto one not pictured, 2011 Black Hills Syrah. I've reviewed this one previously, it was terrific as always. We still have three of these in the cellar to further age. They will only get better, and as we are members of the Black Hills wine club, we'll get another half case of their next vintage in September (not to mention a half case of their Nota Bene and Carmenere at different times next year).

That was enough wine for that evening, but on Xmas day we went to my sister-in-law's for dinner, as tradition dictates, and we brought the wine.

First, we opened up a 2009 Summerhill Merlot, which was completely corked. Awful. Down the sink (we just tasted this wine at the winery last summer and it was terrific, so we clearly had a bad bottle).

Luckily we brought a couple bottles, so as dinner was served, we opened up this bad boy:

2011 Quails' Gate Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir ($45)

We had five of these so we figured we'd take one to dinner even though it's still young and would be well served to sit a while longer. It didn't disappoint, having improved even in the last few months since I initially tasted it:

Red fruits dominate the palate, with a smooth and silky finish, belying it's young age. It will only improve with 5-6 more years in the bottle with careful cellaring. Always a favorite Pinot. 92.

Tonight was dinner number three; another turkey dinner, made at home, for my Dad. Paired with tonight's dinner, we reached deeper into the cellar for a this baby:

2006 Quails' Gate Pinot Noir (new vintage $24.99, this one would be $60)

An interesting comparison between this and the above; this one has aged 5 years, but is not the Reserve version. I actually can't decide which I preferred, so I'm going to give it the same number. Both were fabulous. 92.

For our next selection, we moved to another of our favorite BC wineries:

2008 Cedarcreek Platinum Syrah ($40)

I previously rated this at the winery:

I gave it an 89, and I was too harsh on it. It's wonderful; a couple more months in the bottle combined with aeration, a bit of time in a decanter have only improved this lovely wine. 91.

Xmas is great, if for nothing else than the amount of wine consumed!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

So what does 100 points taste like??

On December 1, 2013, renowned local wine critic and author John Schreiner wrote a blog post entitled "an Icewine that should be on your bucket list". Link below.

Last week I was in Everything Wine in North Vancouver and happened across the Icewine section where I noticed they had one of these, and I picked it up. I've never tasted a 100-point wine before, so I was abuzz with anticipation to try it, and, I admit, a little nervous. Imagine if I hated the wine that a noted local wine critic had given a PERFECT score??? I realize that wine (especially dessert wine) is a very personal thing, and just because a wine critic loves it doesn't mean I'll love it too....but as someone that generally loves Icewine, my chances seemed pretty good.

2012 N'kmip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Riesling Icewine

Flavors of peach, pineapple and honey roll across the tongue. Slight notes of butterscotch as well. Smooth beyond any expectations. Absolutely perfectly balanced, perfectly sweet, perfectly pure. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

For $60, not everyone is going to go out and buy it...but you should. Icewine, especially Riesling Icewine, tends to improve with age; this is only a year old, and it's the best Icewine I've ever had. No, it's the best WINE I've ever had. Absolutely spectacular. Mr. Schreiner was absolutely right. This is just perfect.

The only problem with this wine is that it's now gone, and I'm going to have to go find another one (or seven). Incredible.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Vertical tasting? You had me at "California"

Ok not really a vertical tasting, but more of a side by side comparison of two wines from the same producer, two different regions, two different vintages. To wit:

On the left, a 2009 from Sonoma County, on the right a 2010 from Napa Valley.

If memory serves, the Sonoma one was $25 at BC Liquor Stores ($17 on the winery's website), and the Napa one was $40 ($30 on the website). I'll confirm the local prices later today when I visit a store to pick up some more! Obviously I liked them.

The biggest differences? Aroma and colour. The Napa Valley offering was a deep purple colour, while the Sonoma County wine was closer to red.

2009 Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon

Notes of red plum, blackberry, and a soupcon of tobacco/cigar box greet your nose. Blackberry jam flavors are present with just a touch of vanilla from being lightly oaked. A top notch entry-level California wine, and if you can find the 2009 vintage, it's drinking very nicely now. 88.

2010 Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

A much deeper colour and aroma than the above, the Napa selection brings a bit more complexity on the nose and the palate. The slightest notes of chocolate on the palate. It is slightly more fruit-forward and a longer finish and slightly softer mouthfeel. It is also drinking very well now but would probably benefit from another 1-2 years in the bottle to truly reach it's full potential. 90.

So is it worth double (almost) the price? I guess it depends on what dollar value you put on two points. For me? Yes it is, but having said that, I am going today to look for one of each, as the Sonoma County one is really a terrific value for the money.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Inky....Anchorman.....Archmage.....Geez, how DO you pronounce that?????

Nk'Mip. Pronounced, I understand, "in-ka-meep". OK then.

Picked up a bargain at a BC Liquor store the other day, a bottle of 2009 Nk'Mip Qwam Qwmt Syrah. Regular price was around the neighborhood of $35, I picked this up for $24.99. It would be a crime to pass up a bargain like that, even though I've never tried this wine before.

We opened it up tonight, paired with a Filet Mignon with Herbed Compound Butter.

2009 Nk'Mip Qwam Qwmt Syrah

Your nose might notice an overabundance of berries; blueberries in particular. Some cherries as well. On the long, silky palate, hints of plum and blueberries, notes of cherries. Almost no spice or pepper that is so common among Syrah. Nice, but I would have preferred some spice to pair with the steak. 82.

And if that wasn't enough, we were doing a little Xmas shopping and came across this :

2012 Nk'Mip Qwam Qwmt Riesling Icewine

What's special about that? How about this. John Schreiner, probably the most prolific and respected local wine reviewer, just rated this 100/100. That is not a typo. ONE HUNDRED. Nothing gets 100, except for some $500+bottles of French Bordeaux.

That's probably not totally true, I'm sure there have been some other 100's, but I bet there aren't many. For the $60 that Icewine cost me, I'm dying to try it out. I will let you know my findings, I suspect it will get opened up this Xmas.

Here is the link to the review, if you want to see for yourself:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Domaine D'or, for the one I adore? Nobody adores that crap.....

Tasting of wines from Chaberton Estate Winery, formerly known as Domaine Chaberton. They dropped the "Domaine" to stop getting confused with that Domaine D'or swill. Probably a good choice.

2011 Gewürztraminer ($17.45)

A tiny hint of honey on the nose to go along with the tropical fruit that is typical for this varietal. Slightly off dry, a touch of lime and kiwi on the palate. 80.

2011 Chardonnay ($14.50)

Citrus and notes of pear on the nose; Unoaked, no real buttery notes, but hints of green apple and lemon on the palate. A nice value priced Chardonnay if you like your Chardonnay unoaked. 79.

2009 Canoe Cove Cabernet Sauvignon ($23.25)

Plum and vanilla, a hint of spice on the nose. Fruity mid-palate and a long finish. Drinking well now. 80.

(new packaging shown, same wine)

Friday, December 6, 2013


Tonight is a special's one of those days that ends in "Y" what better reason to go into the library and open up a nice bottle of wine?

2005 Quails' Gate Merlot

The nose brings beautiful notes of plum and raspberry jam. This sophisticated wine will dance across your palate, velvety and luscious. A terrific bottle of wine, if you are lucky enough to have one of these in your cellar, time to break it out. In my opinion, it has peaked and maybe even started on the decline every so slightly. Don't take that negatively, though, it was still fabulous. 88.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Que Syrah, Syrah........

As I mentioned in a previous post, we recently joined the Black Hills wine club and our first shipment arrived, six bottles of their 2011 Syrah. We opened one up the other day for a taste, and put the rest away for further aging.

Black Hills 2011 Syrah

The nose brings some black cherry, a touch of pepper, and just a hint of smoked meat. Not a lot different on the palate; it's not an overwhelmingly spicy Syrah, very delicate and elegant. Tannins are smooth and silky, it's ready to drink now, but some more time in the bottle will only enhance. This has already become our favorite Syrah. Brilliant. 91.

Monday, December 2, 2013

What am I Thankful for?? Great wine!!!!

Had a couple good friends over on Saturday night for a turkey dinner; this was actually our annual traditional get together for Xmas dinner. A little earlier than normal this year due to scheduling conflicts. So early, in fact, we might as well have been celebrating US Thanksgiving instead of Xmas.

Anyway, to pair with the turkey, we popped open a bottle of 2011 Quails Gate Gewürztraminer. Great wine and an excellent pair with turkey, but I've reviewed that one at least twice before. Let's focus on the wines we opened before dinner, a couple brand new entries to the Quails' Gate library (new to me, anyway).

Firstly, we opened up this bad boy:

2008 Dijon Clone Pinot Noir

The nose is welcomed invitingly by cherries. On the palate, the berries really shine through, joined by just a hint of spice on the lingering finish. Tannins have smoothed out nicely but this probably could have aged for another 2-3 years and improved thusly. Even though, it was pretty damn good anyway. 90.

Here is an interesting article on what exactly the "Dijon Clone" is.

Once that was over, we shifted gears a bit. We joined the Quails' Gate wine club this year (red only) and our first shipment came a few weeks ago. It consisted of this:

1 bottle 2011 Pinot Noir
1 bottle 2011 Fortified Vintage Foch
2 bottles 2011 Old Vines Reserve Foch

Trouble is, we don't like Foch.

Or at least we thought we didn't.


2011 Old Vines Reserve Foch

Single vineyard limited release wine, made in the style of Australian Shiraz.

Your nose may experience a hint of mocha or chocolate mingling with the berries. Jammy and gamey at the same time. Tannins are soft and ripe. This wine is great to drink now but would improve for a couple more years in the bottle. By far, and it's not even remotely close, the best Foch I have ever tried. 91.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wine in a Fort? Why not?

Continuing to catch up on some recent tastings, this one comes to us from the first winery in Lilooet, Fort Berens Estate Winery.

2012 Pinot Gris

Fruit and a touch of honey on the nose, with a flinty minerality on the palate. Hints of green apple which are not overpowering. 83.

2012 Chardonnay

Very lightly oaked, with just tiny hints of butterscotch mingling with pineapple and citrus. Fans of unoaked chardonnay should give this one a try. 80.

2011 Cabernet Franc

One of my very favorite of this varietal. Like most young BC reds, this needs to age for a while to bring out it's full potential, but there is lots here. You'll get the usual blackberry and pepper notes. 81.

2011 Meritage

Black cherry and spices on the nose and the palate. Features a long, smooth finish. Like the above, needs 2-4 years laying down before it's true potential is reached. At $27.99, has much promise. 82.

Four very nice wines, this winery has much to offer!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Black Friday, and Black Hills

OK that was a pretty lame reference I'll admit.

Catching up on notes I've made at a few recent tastings, today's blog features Black Hills Estate Winery. Regular readers will recognize that name as the makers of Nota Bene, a BC cult-wine favorite. My blog on the vertical tasting of Nota Bene was by far the most viewed entry in my wine blog.

If you missed it, catch up here:

We are such a fan of their big red wines, including the above, we recently joined their wine club. In fact, as I type this, there is a half case of their 2011 Syrah waiting for us to pick up at the post office.

In April, we get a half case of the 2012 Nota Bene. In June, along comes a half case of their Carmenere, which is basically impossible to find unless you are in their club. I've never even tasted the Carmenere, I'm just going to assume it's as terrific as their other reds.

For this tasting, though, we were focused more on their whites, plus a couple wines from their "entry-level" label, Cellar Hand.

Cellar Hand 2011 Free Run White

A blend of six grapes, mostly Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay. Fruity nose, with a very tart green apple. Very dry. At $15.89, certainly a good value, especially if you are a fan of dry, tart whites.

Rating: 74

Black Hills 2011 Viognier

I'm yet to be "wowed" by a Viognier and this one is no different, although it's certainly drinkable. Slight notes of apricot on the nose, with peachy undertones on the palate. Would be an excellent pair with seafood. $24.89.

Rating: 74

Black Hills 2011 Chardonnay

Very lightly oaked which appeals to many; however as I've said many times, I like my Chardonnay to be big, bold and buttery, and that usually comes from oak. This one has light buttery undertones, and is refreshing. It features a long, elegant finish.

Rating: 74

Cellar Hand 2011 Punch Down Red

Cherry and blackberry on the nose, bringing hints of black cherry and a tiny amount of spice on the palate.

Rating; 81

All good wines, but not close to their big reds which we are anxiously awaiting from the wine club. We've never visited this winery but it's on our list of "must-dos" for our next wine tour.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Let's go to France...and Italy...and stay in BC the whole time!

Had the opportunity to taste some wines from LaStella and their sister winery, Le Vieux Pin, this weekend. These are wineries I am somewhat familiar with, I've tasted some of their big reds in the past...and I'm lucky enough to have one of these in my cellar:

This is a terrific bottle of wine, I've had a couple of these already, and I'm saving this one for a couple more years to let it fully develop. It's long sold out at the winery and at any wine store I've been to recently, so the chances are pretty good that when we drink this one, it will be the last one we ever have.

So back to the tasting, which was featuring 3 whites and one of their famous big reds:

LaStella 2012 Rosato

Light notes of grapefruit on the nose, with a very pleasant fruity palate. Slightly off dry, and very tasty. A top-notch Rose.

Rating: 84

LaStella 2010 Vivace Pinot Grigio

Your nose might notice some peaches and pears, and your palate will as well, as they give way to gentle notes of lime and citrus. Very dry.

Rating: 86

Le Vieux Pin 2011 Petit Blanc

A blend of 8 different grapes, and this takes on the positive characteristics of each. Tropical fruit salad in a glass. Lovely long, dry finish. An excellent bargain at $20.

Rating: 85

Le Vieux Pin 2010 Syrah $45

A truly big Syrah, strong notes of berries and white pepper on the nose. Balanced palate with some mild oak integrated with the berries and spice. A tiny hint of sour, and the tannins are a bit strong, suggesting that this excellent wine needs to sit until 2015 or later to truly bring out the greatness.

Rating: 89

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Up the Creek without a paddle

Tasting at my usual haunt with Hester Creek's Director of Sales and Marketing, Rob Smith.

2012 Pinot Blanc

A recent Gold Medal winner, and I can see why. Not usually my favorite varietal, but this is excellent. Very strong notes of citrus on the nose and palate, with just the right amount of minerality and tiny amounts of herbs on the finish. One of my favorite Pinot Blancs ever. At $16.95, a terrific value for any occasion.

Rating: 85

2011 Character White

Lots of tropical fruit and slight hint of minerals. Excellent on it's own but would pair beautifully with many white fish dishes or sweet and sour pork.

Rating: 83

2012 Chardonnay

Lots of butterscotch and caramel on the nose and the palate. Winery describes this as "extremely food driven" and I would agree, although I think it would be fine by itself if you are a Chardonnay fan. Would pair beautifully with creamy seafood dishes, scallops, and the like.

Rating: 83

2011 Character Red

A blend of Merlot, Syrah, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The nose is greeted with notes of chocolate, coffee and vanilla. A touch of spice on the palate as well; tannins are a bit firm, this could use some aging but it's drinkable now as well.

Rating: 81

2011 Reserve Cabernet Franc

Raspberry and plum on the nose, and the palate will notice a touch of strawberry and black pepper. This one, IMO, isn't ready now and needs some time in your cellar to reach it's true potential, which could be excellent. At $28.95 it's not a huge gamble to get one of these and put it away for a decade and see just how good it could be.

Rating: 78

All very good wines! It's rare when I go to a tasting and prefer the whites to the reds, but that was the case today. A winery to watch!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What if Cirque du Soleil had a winery??

Don't laugh, it's not so far fetched.

You think these guys are just high on life? Heck no, that's just a little pre-show Chardonnay.

But I digress.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to taste some wines from Clos du Soleil.

Probably a subsidiary or something.

2011 Capella $25

White Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

Lots of pleasant pineapple notes on the nose. Passionfruit and just a hint of grapefruit on the palate. Long and very rich finish.

Rating: 83

2012 Fume Blanc $19.90

Hints of pineapple and spice on the nose, lots of citrus on the palate. Tiny amount of oak can be detected in the long finish.

Rating: 80

2011 Makepeace Merlot $24.90

Your nose might enjoy some chocolate and cherries, with just a touch of pepper. Smooth and balanced palate brings cherries and plum. Would improve, probably quite a bit, with a little time in the bottle.

Rating: 80

2011 Celestiale $25

A blend of the "big 5", this wine has sweet notes of cherries and strawberries on the nose, with a touch of vanilla. Plum and blackberries on the palate, with sharp tannins that suggest some aging would only enhance.

Rating: 80

2010 Signature $39.90

A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Blackberries and vanilla greet the nose, and continue on to the palate where they are joined by black plums. The winery suggests decanting if you are opening it now; I'll suggest what we should all be doing with good red wines: put them away. Patience, children.

Rating: 82

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A great gift of great wine

So I mentioned in an earlier post that we had friends over last weekend; one of them brought us a very nice gift, which we opened last night.

2005 Quails' Gate Limited Release Chardonnay

If you have one of these in your cellar, consider yourself fortunate. It's not even available in Quails' Gate's library now.

Notes of honey, toast and roasted nuts on the nose. The palate is very rich, very complex, and very smooth. Some hints of butterscotch but they are not overwhelming. A truly excellent wine, aged to perfection.

Rating: 92

We served this last night with a recipe from my favorite wine cooking book:

Walnut and Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Chardonnay Butter.

An excellent meal, only made better with a perfect wine pairing!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

New BC wine area showing much promise

Last night's tasting at Sardis Park VQA features Harper's Trail, a winery in Kamloops. Kamloops is a very new area of BC wine, featuring a similar climate to Kelowna but hotter in the summer. Time will tell what that will mean to their wines going forward.

Harper's Trail recently released their second vintage, from 2012, and I was fortunate enough to taste some very promising wines.

A vein of limestone runs through the property, seeping into the terroir, adding an interesting touch of minerality to the wines.

2012 Pinot Gris $18

Although it doesn't show in the picture, it's a light brown colour (called "vin gris" which actually translates to grey wine but whatever). Hints of apricot on the nose, less acidity than most BC Pinot Gris. Very unique and interesting.

Rating: 80

2011 Thadd Springs Riesling $19.99

Flinty minerality that you get with BC Rieslings but less dry with a touch of honey. Another unique wine.

Rating: 81

2012 Gewürztraminer $18

Again the word "unique" comes to mind. Some floral notes but less than normal and strong notes of herbs, particularly sage, come through. For that reason, seems like a perfect wine to pair with turkey and stuffing.

Rating: 80

2012 Chardonnay $20

Fruity and pleasant nose and the fruit carries through to the palate, joined by a hint of smokiness and a bit of caramel; different than the butter/butterscotch you often find in Chardonnay.

Rating: 80

For year two, this winery shows a great deal of potential, and it will be exciting to follow their progress as the years pass!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Laundry is STILL so Dirty! I clearly need a new washing machine.

Second time in just a couple weeks to taste some wines from Dirty Laundry; this time with Mark from the winery down to introduce some new releases.

2012 Hush

The strangest nose of any rose I have ever experienced; it smells like cedar. Cedar! Thankfully it doesn't TASTE like cedar, as there are strawberry and grapefruit notes on the palate. I've enjoyed this wine in the past, this vintage doesn't seem to quite measure up but perhaps it needs some more time in the bottle.

Rating: 78

2012 Pinot Gris

Notes of green apple and pear on the nose, citrus on the palate. Less acidic and more fruity than a lot of Pinot Gris. Refreshing.

Rating: 82

2012 Not-So Knotty Chardonnay

Unoaked, with notes of pear and honey, with a long citrus finish and hints of butterscotch that you'll often find in oaked Chards.

Rating: 81

2011 Kay-Syrah $25.99

Light European style; notes of flowers and white pepper on the nose. Fruity and smooth, just a hint of spice. Probably would improve with a few years of patience.

Rating: 80

2010 Bordello

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a touch of Cabernet Franc, Bordello is their big red and is priced as such ($38.99). Blackberries and vanilla tempt the nose, leading to rich flavors of cherries and a hint of tobacco. Tannins are very firm, this one would benefit from quite a bit of aging.

Rating: 77

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mission Hill; everyone deserves another chance

So, full disclosure, we intended to go to Mission Hill during our Okanagan wine tour a couple weeks ago, but we missed the turn. It worked out OK, as we ended up coming across Volcanic Hills and Mt. Boucherie, two wineries we had never visited, and found some good wines.

Still, I do intend to go back to Mission Hill next time we are up there. It worked out pretty good, as Sardis Park VQA featured Mission Hill last Saturday, so I got to do a little tasting.

I've been hard on Mission Hill in the past; basically because they are so huge and well known and I really didn't like their wine - with the notable exception of their Select Lot Collection Merlot, which, when properly aged, is outstanding - so I rated them accordingly. In the last year or so I've heard a lot of good things about how their wine has improved (even from some others who were not wild about them), and everyone deserves a second chance, so I was looking forward to this tasting.

Their Martin's Lane 2011 Pinot Noir was recently named Best Pinot Noir (under 15 GBP) in the world, but that's only available at the winery and wouldn't be tasted here. Still, that's an impressive award.

2010 S.L.C. Sauvignon Blanc

A very fruity nose, tiny hints of grapefruit, kiwi and passion fruit. The palate is full bodied and rich, very fruity as well, and a very balanced acidity. Sauvignon Blanc is not usually my favorite, but this one is outstanding.

Rating: 86

2011 Reserve Chardonnay

Again, very fruity, with lots of citrus mingling with a touch of coconut. Not the big buttery Chardonnay that I love but very well done, and very tasty.

Rating: 83

2010 Reserve Viognier

The nose might experience some green apple notes with some honey and flowers as well. Your palate will be rewarded with some apple and a touch of ginger and spice. Very nice.

Rating: 82

2011 Reserve Pinot Noir

Black cherry and raspberry on the nose, with a slight touch of minerality on the palate that you don't often get in a Pinot Noir. Also very fruit forward.

Rating: 80

2010 Reserve Shiraz

Intense aromas of dark berries with a touch of pepper waft over the nose invitingly. Full bodied, the cherry flavor really comes through with just the right amount of spice. At $22.99, an excellent value for a quality Shiraz.

Rating: 83

Pleasantly surprised, and kudos to Mission Hill for completely changing my opinion of their portfolio, at least this portion of it. Ironically, their winemaker just jumped across the street to Quails' Gate, so it will be interesting to chart the progress of these two big wineries as their 2013 and future vintages are released.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Oh what a night of wine drinking

Had a bunch of good friends over last night to watch the Colts/Broncos game, among others, and we opened up a few bottles of wine. After a nice Ehrenfelser that I previously reviewed on my Mt. Boucherie post, we got into the red.

We started with the one on the left of this picture:

Bleasdale 2009 Tempranillo Malbec, Australia  $23.99

We've been looking for a good Malbec and I think we found it. OK, OK, not a pure Malbec, in fact it's 70% Tempranillo, but it's close enough right?

Vibrant and alive, with notes of berries, flowers and a touch of spice. The palate is warmly greeted with smooth hints of white chocolate and cherries. The finish is long and inviting. An excellent wine.

Rating: 89

After that, we moved from Australia to the Burgundy appellation of France, and a naughty little Pinot:

Louis Jadot 2009 Pinot Noir ($26.99, at BC Liquor Stores)

Aromas of cherry with just a hint of spice, this wine is on the dryer side with a nice balanced acidity and soft tannins. It paired brilliantly with the pea and asparagus risotto we were serving around the time this wine made it's appearance.

Rating: 90

And if that wasn't enough, we had to get into one more terrific bottle that I had purchased the day before from Sardis Park VQA:

Cedarcreek 2007 Platinum Meritage

A blend of the usual 5 grapes (77% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon), this hard to find wine (in fact the 2009 vintage is sold out at the winery, so we didn't even get to taste it during our tour) was a perfect topper to a terrific evening. At $45 it's not cheap, but it's certainly worth the money.

The nose might notice a little coffee to go with the berries, and when this wine hits your palate, the black fruits and just the right amount of spice will deliver everything you want including a long, lingering finish. Remarkable.

Rating: 92