Saturday, May 24, 2014

the Monks are only Gray when the wine is done

One of our favorite BC wineries, Gray Monk, was down at Sardis Park VQA for a tasting yesterday. The results:

Gray Monk Estate 2013 Pinot Gris ($18)

Fresh and lively, with herbal notes intermingling with the fruit on the nose and palate. Slightly off-dry, with peaches coming through on the palate. Lovely and will undoubtedly improve with a little more bottle time. 84.

Gray Monk Estate 2012 Pinot Auxerrois ($17)

I've previously enjoyed and reviewed this, here.

Gray Monk Estate 2011 Riesling ($18)

Fresh with lots of minerality and fruit on the nose and palate. A touch of lemon on the beautiful finish. A top notch BC Riesling. 84.

Gray Monk Estate 2012 Pinot Noir ($18)

Made in the Burgundy style, very light and fruity with a decent amount of spice on the finish. Would likely improve with a year or two in your cellar. 82.

Gray Monk 2009 Odyssey Meritage ($35)

Merlot dominated, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc to round out. Very full bodied with lots of blackberry and cherry flavors. From grapes grown in the South Okanagan Valley; 2009 was a great year, and this wine shows that. 88.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Everyone loves to taste a good teenager!

Get your mind out of the gutter; this is a wine blog, remember?

Wandering around downtown on Friday night and stumbled into a boutique wine shop that had an interesting selection of wines; nothing really cheap, but some decent priced stuff mixed in with the really big stuff. First thing I noticed was this beauty:

Regular readers of my blog will know what I think of the Silver Oak 2008 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This is the Napa Valley version; the "better" one. It's also twice the price (in this store, anyway; I think it can be had for slightly less if you find it in the right place). This is the first time I've seen the Napa Valley one on sale here.

We are going to Napa in September and we will be stopping at Silver Oak so I'll get the opportunity to taste it then.

Next I noticed a display of wines from Bordeaux; they were advertising three very different vintages, each for the same price, which seemed odd. Generally store that have different vintages from the same wine have them priced accordingly. As a curiosity if nothing else, I decided to pick up the oldest one. The other options were from 2000 and 2009.

According to some websites on the different growing conditions in Bordeaux over the years, 1998 was dominated by the Left Bank; particularly Merlot. That bode well for this wine, which was 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc.

We had a wonderful dinner at our good friends' place last night and took this along to have as the "main event" of the evening. After we had enjoyed a few other bottles of nice wine, we opened this up to see what it was like. At 16 years old, it was far from certain to be drinkable; Bordeaux wines can age for decades, of course, but in the proper conditions, not sitting on a store shelf.

1998 Domaine de Viaud, Pomeral, Bordeaux, France ($49.99)

Dark fruits, tobacco and a hint of coffee on the nose, with just a touch of coffee following through on the palate. Black currents and cherries as well.

Given the less-than-ideal storage conditions, this wine has held up very well. There is still a lot of fruit here, and it's very drinkable. I can't say how much longer it will last; certainly sitting on a store shelf can not help it; but if you pick one up and cellar it carefully, perhaps it will still continue to improve. If nothing else, it's a drinkable piece of history right now.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's pass the damn wine!!!

Lots of wine to discuss and review today. Let's start with our choices from Mother's Day dinner.

Thought it might be fun to start with the two on the right. Cedarcreek 2011 Block 2 Pinot Noir, and 2011 Block 4 Pinot Noir.

Regular readers might remember I had the opportunity to taste these side by side, before they were released to the public, at Cedarcreek's Starry Nights dinner in October. My thoughts on them at that time were posted here.

Seven months later, let's see if my opinion has changed.

CedarCreek Block 2 Pinot Noir ($34.99)

This hasn't changed a ton since my original review. A very floral nose with hints of violets. Very smooth, but in the hour it was opened it changed and improved slightly. 89.

CedarCreek Block 4 Pinot Noir ($34.99)

Seven months have made quite a difference. Smoother, tannins have softened. Still lots of berries on the nose and palate. After aerating and decanting for an hour (and another hour or so in the bottle while we drank) it improved even more. I have a couple more of these in my cellar, and I'll buy a couple more if I can find them; definitely looking forward to continued improvement. 87.

As I said in my October review, if I'm drinking today, I'm choosing Block 2; if I'm drinking it three years from now, I suspect Block 4 becomes the winner. We'll see.

Our third bottle isn't pictured, it was recommended to me but we sent it home with my mom, who enjoyed it more than we did.

Sandhill 2010 Small Lots Sangiovese ($30)

I don't know if we happened to get a bad bottle but this didn't work for my wife or I at all. We generally like this grape, particularly from Italy, but also from BC (Inniskillin's 2008 Sangiovese is a favorite).

Cherries are prevelant on the nose and continue on the palate. Medium bodied, with some weakness on the finish. I'd be willing to give this another shot, but for now, I can only give it 75.

For the finale of the evening, we went down the coast to our new passion, a big Napa Cab (pictured on the right):

2010 William Hill Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($36.99 at Fred Meyer in Bellingham)

Just a touch of blueberries mingles with the red fruits on the nose. A smooth, silky mouthfeel and it finishes with just a touch of spice and vanilla. 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, with a touch of Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah and Merlot finishing it off. 88.

Ever notice that "petit" is spelled differently in front of "Verdot" and "Sirah"? Odd.

From earlier this week, we opened this one that was highly rated, from Spain:

Valenciso 2006 Rioja Reserva Tempranillo ($35.99)

I like Tempranillo, I really do, but I'm going to stop buying this varietal that I come across in the liquor store with signs advertising big ratings. I'm not sure who keeps giving these wines 90+ points, but this is at least the third one I've been disappointed in.

I have heard this is a very age-worthy wine, so perhaps we opened it up too early; maybe I should get another one and put it away for a decade to give it a fair shake, but this one ended up mostly going down the sink. 77.

Also, my local VQA store must have found some old cases in the back, because they have quite a few bottles of this nicely aged white:

CedarCreek 2009 Chardonnay ($16.95)

Slight notes of nuts and oak on the nose; beautiful fruit and buttery notes on the palate. Absolutely fabulous for the price; my very favorite reasonably priced Chardonnay. 88.

Hope all the mothers out there had an amazing Mother's Day! You deserve it!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Random BC wine tastings from the past week

A bottle here, a bottle there, and we have a few nice wines to report on:

Sandhill 2010 Small Lots Barbera

BC's only Barbera I believe. Cherries and plums on the nose and palate. Slight notes of tobacco and smoked meat. Very true to the Italian style, and if you like that, you'll like this. 87

Cassini 2011 Mamma Mia! Pinot Gris

Tropical notes of peaches and apricots, with a fruity, clean finish of citrus and pineapple. Slightly off-dry. Very nice with chicken or on it's own. 87.

CedarCreek 2011 Shiraz Cabernet

Black currants, blueberries and raspberries on a terrific palate. Cherries and a hint of vanilla on the palate. Lovely now, but another year or two in the bottle would only enhance. 86.

Friday, May 2, 2014

BC Syrah vs BC Syrah in a battle to the death

OK that's probably overstating it, hopefully nobody actually dies during this side by side tasting challenge.

Both wines were aerated and decanted for 30-60 minutes.

Cedarcreek 2009 Platinum Syrah

Putting your nose into a glass of this is akin to smearing your face in blackberry and raspberry jam. The overwhelming aromas of berries continue through to the fabulous palate. A hint of spice on a long, lingering finish. Superb. 92.

Desert Hills 2008 Syrah

It's almost inconceivable that these two wines are the same grape, from the same region, and only one year apart. This one doesn't have anywhere near the fruit-forwardness of the above. It has earthy notes, with a touch of leather, figs and even a hint of tobacco. A touch of spice but not too much. It couldn't be much more different than tonight's challenge-mate, but it is also very, very good. 90.