Sunday, June 30, 2013

It's so hot......

(studio audience): HOW HOT IS IT??????

It's so hot that my wine fridges, programmed to keep my wine at 55 degrees Fahrenheit, can't do it. They are currently sitting at 64 and 65 degrees. Looks like it's going to be this hot for a while, so I guess we'll just have to get used to it.

Today, I thought I'd finally leave BC and discuss one of our favorite non-Canadian reds, from a winery called Quinta Do Crasto, in Portugal.

I have these in my fridges:

These are often referred to as "Douro" wines, which I actually thought was the name of the grape. Turns out I was wrong, Douro is the appellation (or region) in Portugal, centered around the Douro river, where these grapes are grown. If you are interested in a long explanation, here is a link to the Wikipedia page:

The one on the left is their regular wine, which we came across at a special wine tasting at Legacy Liquor Store in False Creek. Definitely a fantastic liquor store if you are around the area. This wine contains the following grapes:

Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional.

None of those mean anything to me, of course, except for Tinta Roriz which I know is the same grape as Spanish Tempranillo, which is an excellent grape.

We've had this wine several times, several different vintages, and they have all been excellent. They are earthy and bold, and pair excellently with red meats. We haven't tried the 2010 version yet, but I expect nothing less from it. It's in my "cellar", to be opened in 2015, which should give it enough time to age into a fabulous wine. This one retails for around $19, and I can't recommend it highly enough at that price point (ESPECIALLY if you can find the 08 or 09 vintages somewhere, they are very ready to drink right now).

The wine on the right is their 2009 "Old Vines Reserva", made from vines averaging 70 years old and is aged 18 months in oak (85% French Oak, 15% American Oak). It contains so many varieties of grapes (up to 30) that the website doesn't even bother to list them all. We've never tried this one, but I'm hoping it's even better than the regular one. It's staying in my "cellar" until 2019, so we won't know for a while, but it's exciting in anticipation if nothing else.

Retail price on the Reserva is around $45.

Now I'm going back to my ice filled bathtub.....assuming the cats will give me some room in there....

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Kill me now

Soooooooo.........summer has arrived, in full force, in Vancouver (and the Fraser Valley) today. And it's only going to get worse.

The rest of the world must think we are a bunch of complete whiners (as opposed to wine-rs, as in the title of this blog), as recently as yesterday we were complaining about the crappy cold and rainy summer we were having. Well, those complaints have been answered in a big way, as we are now facing near record temperatures over the next while, forecasted to get up to 40 degrees Celsius. Yikes. In ONE day, we've gone from weeks of rain to a heat wave.

Yes, I know I'm whining, but is it too much to ask for some sunny and pleasant weather? My living room is currently a sauna.

It's so hot out, people are going up to cops on the street and begging them to shoot them. Quick, first person to tell me what movie that quote is taken from wins a genuine no-prize!

Anyway, I was craving a nice red tonight, but we were having chicken, which would traditionally pair well with a white. Since it was so hot out, I decided we'd go absolutely nuts and have a well chilled rose instead.

Of course, the small problem is that we don't really like rose. So many wineries make their rose with notes of grapefruit, and since I really don't like grapefruit, that just doesn't work for me. We have found one that we love, though.

2009 Quinta Ferreira Rose

This wine doesn't completely discount the traditional grapefruit, but it is so overwhelmed by the long berry finish (particularly strawberry) that this has become (BY FAR) our favorite rose. In fact, it's the only rose you will find in our collection.

Quinta Ferreira calls themselves "Canadian wine with a Portuguese twist". Originally planted on the Black Sage bench in 1999, their grapes produce a wide selection of varietals, including Merlot, Chardonnay, Syrah, Viognier, Malbec , Zinfandel and Petit Verdot.  I have sampled many of their wines and they are all good, but only their Rose is so good to make me a repeat customer.

Tonight's dinner was grilled chicken with a pineapple salsa, sautéed broccoli and garlic parmesan rice. A fabulous dinner, which we were fortunate enough to enjoy on our patio, and the rose paired very nicely with it.

Rating: 7.5/10

Friday, June 28, 2013

Another fabulous BC white

Yes, I know, I said that we like all kinds of wine, BC and non-BC, but since I started this blog I've mentioned nothing but BC wine. That will change, I promise, but not yet.

Tonight with dinner we cracked open a bottle of 2011 Summerhill Ehrenfelser. 

We discovered this wine totally by accident; we went to an SPCA Charity function a couple of years ago which featured wine tastings, and this was one of the wines we got to sample. We had never even heard of Ehrenfelser, but apparently this rare grape thrives in the Okanagan climate. Not a lot of wineries produce this wine, and this is our favorite. We've also tried the Ehrenfelser from Cedarcreek, a winery we like, but this was much, MUCH better.

This is a sweet wine (sweetness code 2, I believe), and is great on it's own, but pairs very well with food as well. It features a very fruity nose, apricot and peach are noticeable, and finishes with hints of tropical fruits. Tonight we had it with a stuffed pork chop, asparagus with beurre blanc sauce and cheddar pasta. A very good meal, and the wine only added to it. In case you hadn't noticed by now, we tend to like sweeter white wines. I don't have anything against dry whites, but most of them haven't lived up to their potential for me.

I have also tasted the 2012 version and it was good, but seemed to be suffering from bottle shock a bit. I would recommend you find the 2011 if you can, but if not, the 2012 should be perfectly good in the near future.

Another excellent value, at $19.95 in VQA wine stores.

Rating: 8/10

Frankly, Madeira, I don't give a damn

Today's blog is going to be about Madeira wines. You don't know anything about these wines? You aren't alone, neither do I, really. I suspect many wine experts in this part of the world don't know much about them either; do an internet search for them and you'll hardly get any good results.

Madeira is an island off the coast of Portugal, where this style of wine making originated in the 16th century. These fortified wines are reported to be more viscous than normal wine, more like port or sherry.

If you want to read an interesting (and somewhat long) article about the history of these wines, go here:

So you are probably asking yourself, "Dean, why are you blogging about a little-used wine style that is made only in Portugal that hardly anyone knows anything about???".

A fair question. But I have a reason, faithful readers.

I have one in my collection. Sort of.

This is a link to the 2007 version, made by Cedarcreek, the only winery in the Okanagan (and probably in Canada) to make this style of wine. It's not a true Madeira obviously because, well, because the grapes aren't grown on the island of Madeira.

My bottle is actually from 2004, but I can't find anything on the web about that vintage. I do know (because it says on the bottle) that the grapes used in the 04 vintage are Pinot Auxerrois, not the Pinot Blanc used in the '07 vintage.

At $65/bottle, this is a pretty expensive wine to buy without knowing what it is going to be like, granted.....but I was curious. It's not often you see a white wine in a VQA wine store at that price point so I couldn't resist.

Judging by the article I linked to above, we can keep this wine for decades without it deteriorating (but we are supposed to change the cork every FORTY years LOL.....although this bottle is a screw top so clearly changing the cork isn't an issue!). But of course this article is referring to actual Madeira wines, not this "Madeira style" bottle, so I'm leery of letting it sit too long. I can't really find much information, even from the Cedarcreek website, so I've actually just sent them an Email to find out how and when I should be serving this. I will report back when I hear back from them.

Very intrigued!!!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Victoria & Albert's

It occurred to me that I couldn't very well start a wine blog, with food pairings, without reprinting this entry from my regular blog that some of you might not have read. In March, Tracey and I were in Orlando, and we experienced a once-in-a-lifetime meal at Victoria & Albert's, the only 5 star restaurant in Orlando, which is in the Grand Floridian hotel. The food was exquisite, and the wine pairings only enhanced this special evening.

Below is the exact blog entry from my normal blog, posted on March 17th. If you didn't see it in the regular blog, I think it's a very interesting read for food and wine fans. Enjoy!!

Dinner actually started 4 days before we left on the trip, as they called me to ask for menu details to personalize our menus. They removed any reference to anything remotely close to be considered seafood for Tracey.

Menus were literally "personalized", as they had our names printed on them and we took them home.

The prix fixe menu was $135 each, with extra charges for anything listed on the menu with a price beside it. I declined the $210/oz. caviar.

We also added on the wine pairings for an extra $65 each.

It started with the best champagne I have ever had, Piper Heidsieck Cuvee 1785 NV Brut

We didn't get pictures of all the food but I'll include what we have below. Keep in mind that neither Tracey nor I EVER take pictures of food in restaurants, but this was special.

For our first course, I selected Mango Crusted Gulf Shrimp with Ponzu Vinaigrette. This was paired with a fabulous off-dry Reisling from Poet's Leap, in the Columbia Valley of Germany. Fabulous.

This was Tracey's first course:

Preserved Artichokes, Roasted Eggplant with an Olive and Black Garlic Aioli. Paired very nicely with Paco & Lola Albarino Rias Baixas, 2010. Yeah I don't know what that is either but it was excellent.

For our second course:

The nearest dish is Tracey's Poulet Rouge with Hedgehog Mushrooms and Gnocchi. Mine is a Diver Scallop with Fennel, Leek and Minus 8 Verjus Vinaigrette. I am not a big fan of Sauvignon Blanc but that was what was paired with this course and it was terrific (Jules Taylor, Marlborough, 2012). Tracey's pairing was a fantastic Italian Ceretto Rossana Dolcetto D'Alba.

My next course was a Braised Oxtail and Cherry Ravioli (because when you think Oxtail, you think cherries, right????). It was absolutely incredible. It came paired with a 2008 Highflyer Centerline, a red blend from California. Outstanding.

This was Tracey's next course:

Mangalitsa Pork with Roasted Beets and toasted Caraway Vinaigrette. This one was the only wine pairing "fail" of the night, as it came with a Malbec that she didn't like. However, the fail turned into a big "win" as they offered her a choice of any other wine to replace the Malbec (and left the Malbec for me!). She got a glass of the Cabernet Sauvignon that I had with my next dish, which was this one:

I had the choice of the steak on the left, which was Austrailian Kobe Beef (a $35 surcharge) or the beef on the right, the KING of steaks, Iwate Japanese beef ($90 extra). Since I couldn't decide, they offered to split the difference and bring me half of each!

I've had Kobe beef before, and it was just as amazing as I remembered. The other one, however, was something that I cannot describe. It was so good, it probably ruined me for Kobe beef!!!! Unreal.

As if that wasn't enough, the wine that came with it was absolutely the best Cabernet Sauvignon I have ever had. It was from Silver Oak, in California, from the Alexander Valley (2008). I've looked this one up and we can get it here, for $100 a bottle. The winery also makes a "better" one, if you can believe that, from the Napa Valley, which is $135 a bottle. Our server told me this is a very collected wine. I will be finding a bottle for a special occasion.

The fifth course was a palate cleanser, and Tracey selected the following:

Sottocenere Al Tartufo, Parmigiano Reggiano, Colston Basset Stilton, Gouda Reypenaer XO. I honestly don't even remember what this was, but I know she liked it. It came paired with a Portugese Port from a winery we are quite familiar with, Quinta do Crasto. We have a Douro from that winery quite often.

I had a White Chocolate Gelato, paired with an incredible Moscato from Italy. Simpy sublime.

Now it's time for dessert.


Hawaiian Chocolate Souffle


Carmelized Banana Gateau

Both desserts were compelling and finished off this incredible meal in the most perfect fashion possible.

Oh, and one other little added bonus:

Every lady in the restaurant was given a rose as she finished her meal.

If that wasn't enough, we were serenaded by a harpist, about 6 feet beside our table.

This was the food experience of my life, and it is an absolute "must do" when in Orlando.

Hope you enjoyed the read!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Aging wine. Is it worth it?

Read a wine site or blog on the internet and most will give you the short answer: no.

I completely disagree; but I also think it depends on exactly what you mean by 'aging'.

Very few bottles of wine, even fine wine, will improve with long term aging. By 'long term' I am talking about decades, rather than years.

However, even modestly priced wines will improve with careful aging, IMO. "Careful" is the key word. Here are some great tips from for storing wine, for those of us not blessed with an actual wine cellar:

1. Keep It Cool

Heat is enemy number one for wine. Temperatures higher than 70° F will age a wine more quickly than is usually desirable. And if it gets too much hotter, your wine may get “cooked,” resulting in flat aromas and flavors. The ideal temperature range is between 45° F and 65° F (and 55° F is often cited as close to perfect), though this isn’t an exact science. Don’t fret too much if your storage runs a couple degrees warmer, as long as you’re opening the bottles within a few years from their release.

2. But Not Too Cool

Keeping wines in your household refrigerator is fine for up to a couple months, but it’s not a good bet for the longer term. The average fridge temp falls well below 45° F to safely store perishable foods, and the lack of moisture could eventually dry out corks, which might allow air to seep into the bottles and damage the wine. Also, don’t keep your wine somewhere it could freeze (an unheated garage in winter, forgotten for hours in the freezer). If the liquid starts turning to ice, it could expand enough to push the cork out.

3. Steady as She Goes

More important than worrying about achieving a perfect 55°F is avoiding the landmines of rapid, extreme or frequent temperature swings. On top of cooked flavors, the expansion and contraction of the liquid inside the bottle might push the cork out or cause seepage. Aim for consistency, but don’t get paranoid about minor temperature fluctuations; wines may see worse in transit from the winery to the store. (Even if heat has caused wine to seep out past the cork, that doesn’t always mean the wine is ruined. There’s no way to know until you open it—it could still be delicious.)

4. Turn the Lights Off

Light, especially sunlight, can pose a potential problem for long-term storage. The sun’s UV rays can degrade and prematurely age wine. One of the reasons why vintners use colored glass bottles? They’re like sunglasses for wine. Light from household bulbs probably won’t damage the wine itself, but can fade your labels in the long run. Incandescent bulbs may be a bit safer than fluorescent bulbs, which do emit very small amounts of ultraviolet light.

5. Don’t Sweat the Humidity

Conventional wisdom says that wines should be stored at an ideal humidity level of 70 percent. The theory goes that dry air will dry out the corks, which would let air into the bottle and spoil the wine. Yes, this does happen, but unless you live in a desert or in arctic conditions, it probably won’t happen to you. (Or if you’re laying down bottles for 10 or more years, but then we’re back to the matter of professional storage.) Anywhere between 50 percent and 80 percent humidity is considered safe, and placing a pan of water in your storage area can improve conditions. Conversely, extremely damp conditions can promote mold. This won’t affect a properly sealed wine, but can damage the labels. A dehumidifier can fix that.

6. See Things Sideways

Traditionally, bottles have been stored on their sides in order to keep the liquid up against the cork, which theoretically should keep the cork from drying out. If you’re planning on drinking these bottles in the near- to mid-term, or if the bottles have alternative closures (screw caps, glass or plastic corks), this is not necessary. We will say this, however: Horizontal racking is a space-efficient way to store your bottles, and it definitely can’t harm your wines.

7. Not a Whole Lot of Shaking

There are theories that vibration could damage wine in the long term by speeding up the chemical reactions in the liquid. Some serious collectors fret about even the subtle vibrations caused by electronic appliances, though there’s little evidence documenting the impacts of this. Significant vibrations could possibly disturb the sediment in older wines and keep them from settling, potentially making them unpleasantly gritty. Unless you live above a train station or are hosting rock concerts, is this likely to be a problem for your short-term storage? No. (But don’t go shaking your wines like a Super Bowl MVP about to spray a bottle of Champagne around the locker room.)

So Where Should I Keep My Bottles?

If you haven’t been blessed with a cool, not-too-damp basement that can double as a cellar, you can improvise with some simple racks in a safe place. Rule out your kitchen, laundry room or boiler room, where hot temperatures could affect your wines, and look for a location not directly in line with light pouring in from a window. You could also buy a small wine cooler and follow the same guidelines: If you keep your wine fridge in a cool place, it won’t have to work so hard, keeping your energy bill down.
Perhaps there is a little-used closet or other vacant storage area that could be repurposed for storing wine? If you have a suitable dark, stable space that’s not too damp or dry, but it is too warm, you might consider investing in a standalone cooling unit specifically designed for wine. There are some inexpensive systems for small spaces, but in most cases, this is getting into professional wine storage.
When is it time to upgrade your storage conditions? Ask yourself this: How much did you spend last year on your wine habit? If a $1,000 cooling unit represents less than 25 percent of your annual wine-buying budget, it’s time to think about it more carefully. Might as well protect your investment.
One other piece of advice from collectors: Whatever number you’re thinking of when it comes to bottle capacity, double it. Once you’ve started accumulating wines to drink later, it’s hard to stop.
Read more: Constructing a Cellar provides details on professional wine storage, including cooling units, insulation and more.

If I Want to Buy a Wine Cooler, What Should I Look For?

Wine coolers are, at their most basic, standalone units designed to maintain a consistent temperature—sometimes one suitable for serving rather than long-term storage—whereas a wine cellar is a cabinet or an entire room that stores wine in optimal conditions for long-term aging: a consistent temperature (about 55° F), with humidity control and some way to keep the wine away from light and vibration.
Units vary in how much access you’ll have to your bottles, so consider both how well you’ll be able to see what’s inside, and how easy it will be to grab a bottle when you want it. Are the bottles stacked? Are there shelves that slide out? Consider the size and shape of the bottles you collect, and the way the bottles fit into the racks—are they very wide, tall or unusually shaped, if they’ll even fit at all?
The door itself is something to ponder. Is it more important for you to see the bottles or protect them from light? Is the glass clear, tempered, tinted, double-paned or UV-resistant? Make sure the door opens on the correct side for where you’re placing it—not every unit has reversible doors. Some models have locks or even alarms.
More expensive units may have multiple temperature zones, which is a nice feature if you want to keep your reds at one temperature and your whites at a cooler, more ready-to-drink temperature. Humidity controls are also helpful. Do your best to find a unit that is quiet—you’d be surprised just how loud the things can get. The more you spend, the better the materials should be, such as aluminum shelves that will conduct cool temperatures better than plastic ones, or a rough interior that will be better for humidity than a smooth one

All excellent suggestions. I currently own two small wine coolers, where I keep my wine that I plan on aging. I have stickers on the bottles of the year I plan to open those wines. In most cases, I've picked a year somewhere in the middle of the time recommended by the winery. In the case of one particularly pricey Italian Barolo, I plan to open it in 2019, for my 15th wedding anniversary. Barolo needs to age anyway, so that works out pretty perfectly.

I also have a "beverage centre" where I keep my other wines; wines that are ready to drink now, or some that are going to be kept to 2014 or 2015. This is not a wine cooler, hence the temperature and humidity are not perfect for storing wines long term, but for a couple years they will be perfectly fine.

My passion for aging wine begins on last year's trip to Quails' Gate. Now, it's not like I was unaware of aging wine before that, but I didn't really have a system set up to properly age my wine. I tried to buy older vintages if they were available, but if they weren't, I pretty much drank what I could get.

Our story begins at the tasting room, where we tasted everything they had for us. It was all good, as usual, some better than others of course. The Merlot they were tasting was from 2009. It was perfectly fine, but not something we'd need to buy. Merlot is generally not our thing anyway, and this one wasn't the best we'd ever tried. So we went on our way, down to the Old Vines Restaurant for our lunch reservations.

Lunch was amazing. And, during lunch, we ordered a wine flight of "library" wines; older wines that were only available from the restaurant library, not in the wine store. They consisted of a 2006 Cab Sauv, 2006 Pinot Noir, and this little beauty:

2005 Merlot.

Holy crap. I wouldn't have believed this was the same wine as the 2009 vintage if I didn't see it for my own eyes. The '05 was smooth and balanced, and exhibited none of the overpowering tannins that prevailed in the '09. It was, to borrow a word from SNL, scrumtrulescent.

What a difference 4 years can make. Now, of course, the 2005 growing year may have been much better than the 2009 year, but the enquiries I've made to people who know suggest that wasn't the case. The big difference was simply the extra four years in the bottle.

We left the restaurant with half a case of wines from their library, and for Xmas, I surprised Tracey with a full case of library wines from Quails' Gate.

Best. Present. Ever.

Of course, the library wines are much more expensive than the newer stuff; if you can find the '05 Merlot, it will run you about $55. Good luck finding it though. At Xmas when I ordered the case they had sold out of the '05, so I had a couple bottles of 2006 sent down and they were both fabulous also. Those were also $55/bottle. If memory serves, the case cost me about $800, and 10 of the 12 bottles were from the restaurant library.

So I now have a bottle of 2008 Merlot in one of my coolers, waiting until 2015 to break it open, and hoping that it's close to as good as the 05 and 06 were. We'll see.

If I can find a bottle of the 2009, I'll put that one away until 2016 and we'll see if the aging turns that bottle from average to exceptional as well.

The newer Quails Gate Merlot's retail for $24.99, if memory serves me correctly.

Rating (05 and 06): 8.5/10
Rating (09) 6.5/10

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Check your couch for loose change....

....and you might find enough for a bottle of today's "best budget buy" wine.

Gray Monk 2011 Latitude Fifty White.

$11.99. E-FREAKING-LEVEN NINETY-NINE. That's almost free. It's about as cheap as you can get for wine not named Baby Duck. Or this crap (c'mon, you all remember these commercials).

 (in fairness, that is the VQA wine shop or winery price, I believe it's a couple bucks more at liquor stores).

Here are the specs (on the Latitude, not the freaking Hochtaler):

It doesn't say what varietals of grapes are used here and my unsophisticated palate can't tell for sure. The owner of our local VQA wine store, Kim, took one good sniff and said "I think it's Gewurztraminer, Muscat and Pinot Auxerrois". LOL. I have no way to confirm she's right, but she knows her S**T so I'm not betting against her. And since Gray Monk happens to make wines that feature all of those varietals, it's a logical guess.

This wine isn't sweet but I would describe it as "off-dry". It's marvellously fruity, and for the price, it's one you should stock up on just to have on hand for those days when you want a good white wine but don't want to open up the "good stuff".

As I mentioned before, I do NOT like cheap wine. This is a very nice exception to my "no-cheap-stuff" rule.

I had a bottle of this tonight with breaded chicken breasts, sautéed asparagus and rice, and it paired beautifully.

Rating: 6.5/10

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had dinner at Gray Monk's restaurant, Grapevine, last spring. The restaurant, although on Gray Monk's property (about 30 feet from their tasting room) isn't actually run by Gray Monk, but that doesn't really matter...I only know that because the waitress mentioned it. I'd love to give you a specific review of the food but it was over a year ago and I can't remember what we had; but I do remember we had a fantastic meal. Our table overlooked the lake, which probably would have been lovely had we not picked the last rainy weekend of May to take this trip.

Anyway, during that dinner we discovered what my wife called her "new favorite wine":

Gray Monk 2011 Reflection

This is a Muscat, which is very sweet. If you hate sweet wines, this is not for you. If you use that sweetness scale that some use, I'd suggest this is probably a 3 or 4 (for comparison, good dessert wines are between 15-20).

If you like sweeter wines, this is absolutely fantastic. Generally a wine this sweet would be an "after dinner" wine, but I paired it with my dinner (seafood of some kind I am sure) and it was terrific. We bought several bottles after our meal and have probably consumed 8-10 of them by now (and still have a few ready to drink).

Technical specs:

Gray Monk is located quite a bit more North than most Okanagan wineries, meaning the climate is perfect for cooler climate grapes: basically, whites. That doesn't mean they don't make good reds, just that the grapes for their red wines are grown elsewhere in the Okanagan Valley.

When we were up at the tasting room, the young gentleman helping us out was on his last shift, so he let us try whatever the hell we wanted (what were they going to do? fire him?), so that was a fun experience of tasting. By the time we were done, everything probably tasted better than it really was :-)

Retail on this is a very respectable $18.99. Go back and search those couch cushions again!

Rating: 8/10

Monday, June 24, 2013

Our "go-to" white.....

....also comes from B.C.. Quails' Gate winery, located in Kelowna, is our favorite winery. Just about everything they make is terrific. This was the wine that finally got me into wine (not including dessert wine), and it's still one of my favorites.

2012 Quails' Gate Gewurztraminer

We've been drinking this since 2010 and every vintage has been excellent. 2012 is no exception. I've already consumed a couple of these, and they are ready to drink, but they will also reward careful cellaring for another 2-3 years.

This retails for only $17 and is a fantastic value at that price. It is very drinkable on it's own, but also pairs well with pork or chicken. Their website also recommends pairing it with red coconut curry, if that is your type of thing. Neither my wife nor I can stand curry so I'll take their word for that.

Here is a link to all the specs.

Tracey and I went on a tour last year where we had lunch at Quails' Gate, and then dinner at Gray Monk, both terrific restaurants. I highly recommend anyone try them out when you are up that way.

I'll have more details on those meals, and the wines that accompanied them, in future posts.

Rating: 8/10

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hello all

Starting a new blog dedicated specifically to all things vino. First, a few things:

My wife and I are big wine fans, but far from experts. Wine is a new thing for us, we discovered it on a wine tour of the Okanagan only a few years ago. I've always been intrigued by wine and the wine culture, but before that tour I wasn't a big fan of wine itself. That's probably because my only real experience with wine was a house wine here and there when I was out for dinner with my mom. And, to this day, I STILL don't like most crappy house wine.

Unfortunately for me, and my wallet, I tend to gravitate to really expensive wines. I will no doubt post some of those in this blog, but will also try to share some less expensive wines that can be enjoyed for everyone, even those on a budget.

Anyway, as our wine appreciation and knowledge grows, I thought I'd start up a blog to dedicate to our new passion. Neither my wife nor I claim to be sommeliers, so if you see something here that doesn't make sense or just seems completely wrong, please send me a message. Always nice to hear from a fellow wine enthusiast.

We started out mainly on BC wine, but have branched out to good wine from all over the world. We are still big fans of BC wine, which is highly underrated by the wine communities around the world. Today, for my first post, let's start with a nice BC red.

Church and State 2008 Coyote Bowl Meritage

Specs are below.

"Coyote Bowl" refers to the area of the Okanagan, about 10 miles south of Oliver, where the grapes are harvested. This winery also has grapes on Vancouver Island.

This is a blend of the usual "big three" red Meritage grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Ironically these are generally not our favorite three red grapes (in fact, they might be our least favorite of the grapes readily available in BC). As Paul Giamatti so eloquently put it in "Sideways": "I've come to never expect greatness from a Cab Franc". I agree, in fact I've yet to find a single varietal Cab Franc that I enjoy.

This wine, however, is terrific. The big, bold bouquet is so exquisite that I didn't want to take my nose out of the glass to taste the wine!

On the palate, this wine is rich and smooth. It is absolutely ready to drink right now, and would probably only be improved by another year or two in the bottle. According to the C&S website, it's good to drink "now through 2015". I have no doubt this would be a terrific wine to cellar for a year or two more, but it's good enough now that I expect we'll be picking up another bottle or two for "now" drinking.

This wine retails for $35 and is a solid value at that price point.

Rating: 8.5/10