Friday, January 24, 2014

A reasonably priced 95-point Tempranillo?? What's the catch?

In a BC Liquor store the other day and came across this $45 Spanish Tempranillo, that was (as advertised) rewarded with an impressive 95 point score from reputable publication Wine Spectator:

2009 Bodegas JA Calvo Casajus Tempranillo

Light notes of strawberry on the nose, not much else. The palate brings some cherry and raspberry with a smooth, spicy finish.

95 points? No way. It's not bad, but certainly nothing special, IMO. 83.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Oh Barossa, go Shiraz yourself.....

yeah I know that doesn't make much sense. It's all I got. Live with it.

Tracey has been on a Syrah/Shiraz kick lately, so for her birthday I went to the liquor store and picked up one we had not tried before.....I figured it was from Australia, so it would probably be good, and it was not cheap ($40), so it would probably be let's see if it was good.

2007 Barossa Valley Estate Ebenezer Shiraz

Lovely on the nose, notes of berries, plum jam and leather. The palate is very plummy, with just a touch of white pepper and oak. Not bad at all, but it's one of those that is better on the nose than on the tongue. 84.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It's Summertime!! No? Summerhill time, maybe??

Tonight we opened up an old favorite to pair with our lemon chicken stir fry dinner.

2012 Summerhill Ehrenfelser

Summerhill is one of only a handful of Okanagan wineries to take a shot at this rare grape, and they do it the best, IMO.

The nose will almost be overwhelmed by fruit. I get apricot, orange, cantaloupe and citrus. Throw in a touch of honeysuckle and I could put my nose into a glass of this wine all night. Of course, I'd rather drink it! Rated a "2" on the sweetness scale, the palate will be awash with tropical fruits. It paired very well with our stir-fry, and would be a perfect accompaniment to spicy foods. It would also be perfect to just open and enjoy. 88.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

This is what wine should always taste like

My beautiful wife's birthday is coming up so tonight we met up with my mom and her man for dinner at a nice restaurant to celebrate a couple of days early. The restaurant has a so-so wine list, so we brought our own. A special bottle for a special occasion.

2005 Wolf Blass Black Label Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon ($99.99)

Your nose will immediately notice the strong berry notes, a harbinger of what is to come once this smooth, supple wine dances over your taste buds. Dark and dense, with a long, lingering finish that leaves you wanting more, more, more. Drinking absolutely terrific now, and would probably last another decade. 95.

A local restaurant chain is getting serious about wine

In celebration of my new job, a good friend took me for dinner at Cactus Club last night. For those of you who haven't been to CC in a while, they have seriously upgraded their wine list in recent months, featuring a nice selection of wine for any taste and budget. They are even featuring Black Hills Nota Bene, and at a very reasonable price of $92 ($55 at the winery). They are featuring the 2011 vintage, which is wayyyyy too young to be anywhere near it's peak, but it's still good to see they are adding some upscale wines.

After asking the waitress about decanting, she mentions that they didn't have any decanters at that location (Yaletown). We asked her to mention to her boss that if they are going to get serious about wine, they are going to need decanters. About 10 minutes later the restaurant's General Manager, who was new, came to our table to tell us he had just ordered three and they would be there by Wednesday. Now that's listening to your customers! Apparently he just assumed they had decanters and when he found out they didn't, he made an immediate call.

Our first bottle of the evening was one I had tried once before:

2011 Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Noir ($29.00 from their Willamette Valley website)

Very fruit forward and well balanced, featuring lots of black cherry and berries on the nose and palate. Serious Pinot lovers know that the Willamette Valley in Oregon is one of the top 2 or 3 regions in the world to grow this temperamental grape, and that shines through in this beautiful offering. Tiny hints of cinnamon linger in the long, complex finish. An excellent value for the money, I can't find any listings for it in Vancouver wine stores but I will keep looking. 90.

Next up we decided to head across the pond and get bigger and more expensive. Expensive doesn't always mean better of course.

2009 Masi Costasera Amarone delle Valpolicella ($54.99 at Everything Wine)

Masi calls this their "benchmark for the Amarone category, which, together with Barolo and Brunello, makes up the aristocracy of the Italian wine world."

Very dark ruby red in colour, the nose is very full of cherries and plums. Hints of mocha join the fruit on the palate. This is a perfect example of why they need decanters; Masi's website suggests that this wine has a storage life of 30-35 years; drinking the 2009 vintage right now, without decanting, is akin to lunacy. It's good now, don't get me wrong, but it hints at greatness if properly aged. 87.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

So what wine pairs with a GREAT football day, and Golden Globes?

Just for the record, I don't care what Amy Adams' dress looks like, I love her. I'm just sayin'.

Tonight we started off with a cheapie, some of what went into the beurre blanc sauce that would later go onto our asparagus with dinner:

Gray Monk 2012 Latitude 50 ($11.99)

Seriously you can't normally get vinegar for 12 bucks, and the 2011 version of this was quite good. The 2012 is pretty good as well, but slightly less so than the '11. Lots of citrus on the nose and palate, with a bit too much bite for me; grapefruit lovers will enjoy. 80

Tonight's dinner:

Pork chops
Asparagus with beurre blanc sauce
Orzo with parmesan and basil

With that, we decided a nice Chardonnay would be appropriate:

2011 Time Estates Chardonnay ($27.99)

I had previously reviewed this in July:

Bold and buttery, just the way I like Chardonnay. It has a sophistication that belies it's young age, developed in oak with notes of tropical fruit.

  The tasting notes on this wine suggest it would age very well until 2016. I can attest it is pretty darn good right now, and would likely only improve with patient aging.

 I think I liked it more today than I did in July; the extra 8 months of aging only improved it. Terrific value. 86.

what wine pairs well with Beef Wellington, tears and bitterness??

So yesterday's NFL games did not go well at all; about the only thing that worked yesterday was the wine we paired with our excellent dinner and the football debacle.

During game one, we went to Italy and stayed in BC at the same time, with this rare gem:

Inniskillin Discovery Series 2008 Sangiovese ($30.09)

Red fruit and a touch of chocolate and graphite on the nose. The palate is pleasant with lots of fruit and some mild spice on the finish. Tannins were smooth but this improved after time in the decanter and our glass, suggesting it might have been a tad young still. This isn't listed on Inniskillin's website anymore, which might indicate they are not producing it. I went and picked up another bottle and am planning to go back and pick up a couple more. 87.

For those of you not familiar with Sangiovese, it's the #1 grape in Italy. From Wikipedia:

Sangiovese - Italy's claim to fame, the pride of Tuscany. Traditionally made, the wines are full of cherry fruit, earth, and cedar. It produces Chianti (Classico), Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montepulciano, Montefalco Rosso, and many others. Sangiovese is also the backbone in many of the acclaimed, modern-styled "Super-Tuscans", where it is blended with Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc) and typically aged in French oak barrels, resulting a wine primed for the international market in the style of a typical California cabernet: oaky, high-alcohol, and a ripe, jammy, fruit-forward profile.[14]

 1/4 cup of this wine went into the sauce for our Beef Wellington dinner. It was the best Welly I've ever made, by far; the secret was just to cut the steaks much thicker so they didn't overcook while the pasty cooked correctly. It was beautiful, and we paired it with this bottle:

2009 Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

We had tasted the 2010 vintage of this and reported on it in this blog post:

I gave it 90 points, and (without referencing that score when tasting this one), I gave this one the same 90 score. Lovely and the extra year only smoothed it out further. We also decanted for about an hour (and aerated).

For dessert, we popped open an old favorite:

2012 Quails' Gate Riesling Icewine

Good as always, but too young; we made a mistake opening this one so young. Icewine or not, Riesling always benefits from time in the bottle and this one had yet to develop the complexities and richness that great icewine has. 85.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Put your vini in my bocca

I mentioned in a previous blog entry that I had picked up a couple of mini bottles, 375ml, at a BC Liquor store before Xmas. Last night I opened up the second one:

Masi Campiofiorin 2010 Rosso del Veronese IGT

A red blend combining three grape varietals: Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara.

My wife had one sip, made a face, and uttered one word: "young".

She's right, this would improve greatly with more time in the bottle; an interesting one to sell in a half-sized bottle. I figured the purpose of that would be to get guys like me to buy one, try it, with the hopes that I'd like it and buy a full bottle. But according to Masi's website, this bottle has a storage life of 15-20 years!!!! That's somewhat unusual for a wine of this price point ($19.99 for a full bottle), but I'm intrigued enough that I'll pick one up and put it away for a decade or so.

For right now, I found it drinkable if underwhelming. Cherries and a touch of spice on the nose, followed by flavors of berries and ripe cherries. As I mentioned, it's still young, and the tannins are a bit sharp, inhibiting the smoothness that this blend should exhibit. 82.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Don't Cry for Malbec, Argentina......

So continues my ever-long search for a good Malbec. Tonight our search takes us to the home of the Malbec, Argentina.

Well, of course, Malbec actually originated in France,  but Argentina has become known as the "other" place to get great Malbec.

I was in a liquor store before Xmas and noticed they had a few "mini" bottles of wine; 375 ml, or half of a regular bottle. I thought that was a good way to try out some new wines, so I picked up a couple, including this one:

Domaine Bousquet 2012 Malbec

Reading up on this, I'm supposed to get "bitter chocolate, raspberry and spice" on the nose. Hmm, I can kind of see the chocolate and a hint of spice; no berries at all for ne, though. The palate is interesting. Some lush black cherry and just a touch of mocha, with a bit of acidity. I think this would improve with another year or two in the bottle. 83.

At $15.99 for a full bottle, this would hardly be considered "world class" Malbec, but it is what it is: perfectly quaffable. Not bad at all. It wouldn't be fair to say my search for a great Malbec is over, not by a long shot, but this is the best one I've had so far.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A very nice BC Merlot. Again.

OK another good BC Merlot in the same day? Well it wouldn't be inconceivable that we would have two bottles in the same day, the one reviewed in this post is the only one we actually consumed TODAY.

Quails' Gate 2008 Merlot

Had this one in the cellar for a couple of years and thought it might be ready to take out tonight, and I was right; sort of. It probably would have been fine to lay down for another year or two but it was darn good now anyway.

Opening up this bottle released a potpourri of berry odours, joined by plum and a tiny note of toasty oak. The palate is well rewarded for the aging of this wine, as the tannins are firm but smooth. Beautifully integrated and long, rewarding finish. 90.

Very nice BC Merlot

Tasted this a while back and forgot to post, so here it is.

2011 La Frenz Merlot

Notes of plum, red berries and a touch of mint on the nose. The palate will notice hints of chocolate and a touch of caramel. Very full and complete, ready to drink now but will reward a couple years of careful cellaring. 84.