Sunday, March 30, 2014

Why does my head hurt this morning?

Had some guests over last night for dinner and a little wine. And by "little" I mean way too much.

Before the guests ever arrived, we pulled out a white that we were using in a few of the recipes; of course, we didn't use the WHOLE bottle, so we drank it while cooking.

The View 2011 Riesling

I tasted this and reviewed it here, in October.

The extra five months in the bottle only enhanced it; I bumped the rating from 82 to 85.

After our guests arrived, we switched over to red and began the festivities with and old favorite from Portugal:

Quinta do Crasto 2010 Flor de Crasto Douro

Notes of raspberry and plum; well structured and pleasant, a good entry level wine (around $20). We have enjoyed past vintages of this more than this one, perhaps it needed a bit more time in the bottle to fully develop. 82.

For the main event of the evening, we pulled out a nicely aged red that I came across at the Liquor Depot the other week:

Wolf Blass 2007 Grey Label Shiraz ($51)

The nose will get ripe berries with just a hint of chocolate and pepper. Very fruity palate; with well integrated tannins and a long, silky, soft finish. Terrific now and would likely improve with another 2-3 years in the cellar. 91.

Next up, in my never-ending quest to find a good Malbec, we opened up this bad boy:

2007 Valle Las Acequias Malbec ($21.95)

This had a very strange nose; my wife and mother described it as "mothballs". I'm not sure I agree with that description but it was definitely something off-putting. On the palate, it was better, but still nothing spectacular. I liked it more than anyone but I didn't drink much of it either. 79.

The quest continues.

One more bottle to finish up (and basically replace the one above), we went to an old favorite, 2010 Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I've reviewed it a couple of times, here.

Great dinner and a lot of fun.....always fun with great wine!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Brand new BC wine releases!

Our usual VQA wine store held a tasting of some brand new BC releases on Friday. My thoughts below:

Poplar Grove 2013 Pinot Gris ($19.90)

Pears and a touch of lemon on the nose, some pineapple joins in on the palate. Very well balanced acidity. Would be an excellent pair with seafood. 82.

Joie Farms 2013 A Noble Blend ($23.86)

My wife has long been a big fan of this; I've always enjoyed but not as much as her. This might be their best offering yet. Lots of fruit on the nose that intertwines with some spice (nutmeg?). Very strong flavors of fruit with some lemon and lime. Refreshing. 84.

Gray Monk 2013 Kerner ($18.88)

The 2011 vintage of this was a huge favorite of ours, 2012 not quite as good; this one reverts back to the greatness of the '11. Tiny notes of butter, slight citrus, with a lot of finesse. Very good now, and a little time in the bottle (but not much; 6 months to a year) will only improve. 85.

Church & State 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon ($24.87)

Blackberry and cherry with a hint of tobacco on the nose. Fruity palate, very light bodied. Needs some more time in the bottle to fully develop. 80.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Aging white wine? Is it worth it?

Well I just asked a question that I can't answer - probably very few can - but I'll give you one good example.

I stumbled into a store in Chilliwack called "Liquor Depot". Generally any time you've got the word "Depot" in the name I'm not too optimistic of what I'm going to find there (OK Home Depot is an exception).

As I expected, their wine selection was just OK, and their prices (it's a private store) were pretty high. But I did come across a couple of beauties.

2007 Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz

The current vintage in most stores is 2010, so finding wine already aged three years is a bonus. Of course, this wine usually sells for around $35 and these guys were selling it for $51, so I paid $16 for those three years of aging, but I expect it to be worth it. I'll be cracking this one open soon I expect so I'll let you know.

The other one was this baby:

Quails' Gate 2009 Chardonnay

The current vintage in stores is 2012; so another three years of aging has occured. Keep in mind this isn't "proper" aging, either; these bottles have been on store shelves, or in warehouses, not in a wine lover's cellar at the right temperature and humidty.

They had four bottles, and I bought them all. I was pleasantly surprised to see, the next time I went there, they had restocked with more of the 2009 vintage, so I added to the collection.

The three years had made quite a difference; while the 2012 vintage was good, this one is quite spectacular (of course, 2009 was also a very hot summer in the Okanagan, which only helps as well).

Notes of oak, vanilla and floral notes on the nose. The palate will experience some of that big, buttery flavor that I love, without being overwhelmed by it. Extremely rich and bursting with flavor. 90.

Absolutely one of my favorite BC Chardonnays; and this is their "regular" version. I currently am holding on to one of their 2009 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnays that I am going to let age a little longer and pull out for a very special occasion. Tough to imagine it would really be much better than this but we'll see!

So this is just one example of what aging white wines can do. It's not an exact science; certainly there is some difference in quality between the 2009 and 2012 wines as the growing seasons were different.

I still have a few more of these and I'll put a couple of them away (if we can just stop drinking them!!), to taste the differences between today and 2015 and 2016. We will see if they still get better....

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Big blog update, and catching up on tastings

Firstly, the blog update; I've added a "CELLAR" tab at the top of the page, with a (mostly) complete list of the wines we own, with tasting notes for anything I have tasted and rated to this point. As we drink them, I'll cross them out and add/leave the tasting notes up.

Now, catching up on a tasting from a few weeks ago at my usual local VQA wine store.

See Ya Later Brut ($20.99)

A light, fruity bouquet, very crisp and acidic at the same time on the palate. Tiny notes of honey. 82

Therapy 2010 Fizzio Therapy Rouge ($22.97)

Fruit and earth meet on the nose, notes of chocolate and licorice on the palate. Tannins are firm and chewy. 74.

Cassini 2010 Maximus ($33.87)

Classic Bordeaux blend, intense aromas of black currant and jam, with a bit of spice. Very full bodied. 79.

Jackson Triggs 2007 Riesling Ice Wine ($54.99)

It will come as no surprise to regular readers that my favorite of this tasting would be the Ice Wine. Very sweet with notes of honey and apple, orange peel and candied ginger. Very good. 90.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A couple random beautiful reds

First we take a quick drive down the I-5 to sunny California....the Russian River Valley to be specific.

2009 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards Pinot Noir ($27.99)

Hearty aromas of black fruit with just a hint of tobacco on the nose. Beautiful fruit shines through on the palate. Finishes well, with soft, velvety tannins. 91.

After our successful experience just down the coast, we will head a little bit East....or West, I suppose, depends on which way you want to get there I guess. This wine pairs very well with shrimp, as long as they are done on the barby.

2009 Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Quartage (Barossa Valley, Australia, $26.99)

A blend of the big 5 Bordeaux grapes (so that should make it a Quintage, right??), it features big, ripe red fruits on the nose and palate. The smallest hints of caramel add to the palate. Tannins have smoothed out nicely making this an excellent drink right now, but another 4-5 years in the bottle would only enhance. 92.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Acura Tasting Room at Vancouver Int'l Wine Fest

Tons of ratings here, with over 800 wines to taste we didn't get nearly as many as I would have liked and I didn't have time to make detailed notes on most of them. There are detailed tasting notes throughout on some of the best ones that we ended up buying.

Listed by country, starting with the host country, France (which we barely scratched the surface of)

France - Bordeaux

Baron Philippe De Rothschild

2012 Mouton Cadet Rouge, Bordeaux- 78
2012 Mouton Cadet Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux- 83
2010 Saint-Emilion Baron Carl- 81
2010 Pauillac Baron Nathaniel- 84

Compagnie Medocaine Des Grands Crus

2012 Chateau La Maroutine Blanc Bordeaux- 83
2010 Chateau La Maroutine Rouge Bordeaux- 83
2011 Chateau Dubourg Saint-Emilion- 84
2008 Chateau Castera Medoc- 84

France - Bourgogne/Beaujolais

Maison Louis Jadot

2010 Bourgogne Pinot Noir Couvent Des Jacobins- 89
2010 Beaune Premier Cru Clos Des Ursules- 92

Australia- South Australia

Wolf Blass

2008 Gold Label Pinot Noir Chardonnay (Sparkling)- 80
2010 Gold Label Shiraz- 85
2012 Gold Label Chardonnay- 81

Canada - British Columbia

Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars

2012 Pinot Noir- 86
2012 Chardonnay- 86

Burrowing Owl Winery

2011 Merlot- 85
2011 Cabernet Franc- 82
2011 Chardonnay- 83
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon- 86
2010 Meritage- 86

Gray Monk Estate

2010 Odyssey Rose Brut- 81
2010 Odyssey Meritage- 87

Summerhill Pyramid Winery

1998 Cipes Ariel- 91

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards

2012 Oldfield Series 2 Bench White- 86
2010 Oldfield Series Merlot- 86
2009 Oldfield Series Pinot Noir- 88
2010 Oldfield Series 2 Bench Red- 84

Wayne Gretzky Okanagan

2010 Icon 99- 72

Chile - Colchagua Valley

Cono Sur Vineyards

2011 Single Vineyard Carmenere- 87
2011 Single Vineyard Syrah- 85


2010 Clos Apalta ($124.99)

A beautiful blend of Carmenere (71%), Cabernet Sauvignon (18%) and Merlot (11%), this wine takes the best from each of it's grapes and integrates them perfectly. The nose is overwhelmed with fruit; blueberries, black cherries and a little plum, with a hint of spice as well. The fruit continues through to the palate, with a long and lasting finish. Still very young; I've rated it a 94 now, I suspect that number will climb closer to 100 once it properly ages.

Italy - Tuscany

Tenuta Argentiera

2011 Poggio Al Ginepri Red- 87
2010 Villa Donoratico- 85
2010 Argentiera Dolgheri Superiore- 88

Barone Ricasoli

2012 Albia Rose- 84
2011 Campo Ceni- 87
2010 Brolio Riserva Chianti Classico DOCG- 90

2011 Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG ($24.99)

80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon

One of our favorites at this price point; red fruit and violets on the nose. Very fruity palate with well balanced tannins and a touch of spice on the finish. Will only improve with a bit of time in the bottle. 89.

Italy - Piedmont


2009 Fontanafredda Barolo Di Serralunga D'Alba DOCG- 93
2012 Fontanafredda Barbera Piemonte "Briccotondo" DOC- 85
2009 Borgogno Langhe Nebbiolo "NO NAME"- 89

United States - Livermore Valley, California

Concannon Vineyard

2008 Heritage Petite Sirah- 88
2009 Conservancy Petite Sirah- 86

2008 Reserve Petit Sirah ($40.00)

A totally new varietal for us; and we loved it. Very dense and well structured. Plums and a touch of caramel on the nose. The palate will enjoy lots of fruit with a hint of cinnamon and spice. Very good now but another few years in the bottle will only enhance. 89.

United States - Napa Valley, California

Signorello Estate Winery

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon ($99.99)

They were tasting their new 2011 vintage but the on-site liquor store was selling the 2010 which is what we purchased.

Slight notes of sweet cedar, black currents and spices on the nose. Full bodied with very well balanced acidity. Very fruit forward. Accessible now but will only improve with another decade or more in the bottle. Incredibly smooth. 94.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Weekend tastings of new release BC wines!

First, yesterday's tasting from La Stella. I've tasted and reviewed a couple of them before, so I'll stick with the new ones.

La Stella 2012 Moscato d'Osoyoos ($19.98)

Very light alcohol (around 8%), with flavors of orange blossom, flowers and peaches. Off-dry but not overly sweet. A perfect aperitif. 86.

La Stella 2011 Allegetto ($65.00)

Red fruit and a hint of spice on the nose and on the palate, this very light bodied Merlot probably needs some more time in the bottle to fully develop. 83.

Today, Perseus winery, from the Naramata Bench. I'm not that familiar with these guys, having only tasted a handful of their wares in the past.

Perseus 2012 Viognier ($21.99)

Notes of pineapple and citrus, with a lot of grapefruit on the back end. Crisp and clean and if you like grapefruit more than I do, you may really enjoy this. 80.

Perseus 2012 Pinot Gris ($16.99)

Tropical fruit on the nose and palate with just a hint of honey. Touches of toasted coconut. Very light. 82.

Perseus 2011 Cab Shiraz ($19.99)

Cabernet Sauvignon (44%), Shiraz (43%) and Cabernet Franc (13%). Some raspberry and black current on the nose with berries on the palate. 84.

Perseus 2011 Cabernet Franc SL

Full disclosure: I'm not crazy about Cab Franc.

But I like this one! Blackberries dominate the nose and palate, leading to lovely flavors of black cherry with some nutty undertones. Great now but would only improve with some "lay-down" time. 87.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Dine Italia, Vancouver International Wine Fest

Last weekend we attended the Vancouver International Wine Festival; a huge tasting on Friday night, and Dine Italia, a beautiful lunch at La Terrazza, my new favorite Vancouver Italian restaurant.

I can sum up our lunch in one word: YUM

Here is the menu, with wine pairings, with my comments and ratings in RED within.

For those of us who have trouble reading Italian wines on the menu: the name of the winery is in bold at the end; the name and/or type of wine to the left.


Seared Alaskan scallop, crispy tara root chip, meyer lemon basil aioli, tapiko caviar

Villa Teresa Organic Rose Frizzante NV ~ VINI TONON
Crisp and fruity, with lots of strawberry on the nose and palate. Very refreshing, absent of a lot of the bite you can sometimes find with this type of wine. 87.



Buffalo mozzarella, heirloom cherry tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, herb salad

Burrata cheese, herb crostini, Parma prosciutto, wild arugula, basil olive oil


Prosecco Brut Spumante DOCG NV ~ MIONETTO
 ($19.99) Very light, well balanced with just the right amount of acidity. 84.

Maso Canali Pinot Grigio 2012 ~ DAVINCI
($19.99) Light and flinty on the nose, with a crisp, refreshing palate of apple with a touch of minerality. A very nice Pinot Grigio. 87.

Ca Del Magro 2011 ~ MONTE DEL FRA
($19.99) Elegant, subtle, light and well balanced. A blend of the following:
50% Garganega, 10% Trebbiano Toscano, 10% Tocai, 15% Cortese; 15% Chardonnay-Riesling. 88.



Truffled bison meat balls, seasonal mushrooms, parmigiano reggiano cream


Tenuta Frescobaldi Di Castiglione 2011 ~ Marchesi de Frescobaldi
($26.99) Non-traditional Italian grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc,
 and Merlot, joined by Sangiovese. Lots of red fruits on the nose and palate.
I originally gave this wine an 85; then I tasted it with the meatballs it was
supposed to pair with, and bumped it up to 87. I'll have a special
blog post in the next couple days on wine and food pairings!

Chianti Classico Riserva di Fizzano DOCG 2009 ~ Rocca della Macie
($39.99) Notes of plum, berries, and tobacco on the nose and palate.
Finishes very smooth. 86.

Chianti Classico Colledilà DOCG 2009 ~ Barone Ricasoli
($66.00) Now we are playing with the big boys. 100% Sangiovese, with aging potential (15+ years) that this grape doesn't always offer. Beautiful
fruit with a touch of spice on the long, smooooooooth finish.
Very special. 94.



Sous vide AAA Alberta beef tenderloin,  25yr balsamic reduction, creamy mascarpone polenta


Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2009 ~ Castiglion del Bosco
($59.99) Another 100% Sangiovese treasure. Lingering notes of
dark fruits, with a hint of spice and chocolate. Simply brilliant. 94.

Villa Donoratico 2010 ~ Tenuta Argentiera
($36.99) Non-traditional Italian grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc,
 and Merlot. Plums and blackberries on the nose. A hint of pepper
on the palate, with a very long and smooth finish. 85.

Barolo `Lecinquevigne’ DOCG 2008 ~ Damilano
($49.99) Ladies and Gentlemen, the King of Italian wines, I
present to you BAROLO. Here's the catch: Barola needs to age.
Not for months, not for years, but for decades. This wine is tasty
now, but it needs another 10-15 years to truly hit it's potential.
If you can wait, for $49.99, you'll probably have
yourself a steal. 88.
Barolo di Serralunga d’Alba DOCG 2009 ~ Fontanafredda
($44.99) See above. Black cherries on the nose, with some
chocolate, flowers, earth and mocha on the palate. It's already
great; in another decade, watch out. 93.




World renowned Dutch Gouda style cheese / caramelized pear tart

Amarone della Valpolicella Costasera DOCG 2008 ~ Masi
($54.99) Most big Italian reds need to age and this is no exception,
but if you decant it for an hour or so you'll have a treat now
as well. I already have one of these in my cellar to open up
in the future. 91.