Saturday, January 18, 2014

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.

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