Saturday, January 31, 2015

Big update, trying to catch up on a lot of good stuff!

Firstly, and I know I've mentioned this in the past, let's have a quick discussion about food and wine pairings, and their importance.

To wit:

2007 Pesquera Reserva Tempranillo ($60ish)

My wife bought me this for Xmas, and we aerated and decanted it for 15 minutes or so; she tried it and immediately went into "bitter beer face". I followed suit, and it wasn't very good at all. We decided to let it decant for another 15 minutes and I brought it into our living room where I conveniently had a charcuterie plate waiting (because if you are into wine, you ALWAYS have charcuterie on stand-by!!). In the immortal words of George Takei: Ohhhhhh myyyyyyyyyyy. A totally different wine.

Leather, chocolate and exotic spices on the nose. Ripe, medium-bodied and flavorful. With the salami and cheese, "bitter beer face" turned into "I want another bottle" face. It continued to evolve in the glass, suggesting that further decanting or aging for another few years would have only enhanced it. 91.

2003 Anciano Gran Reserva Tempranillo ($17.99)

It's almost criminal that you can pick this up at just about any BCLC store for under 20 bucks. They've already done the aging for you! Yes, let's face it, a 12 year old bottle of wine that has been sitting on a store shelf for a few years is going to have some bottle variation; some of them are going to have passed their peak while sitting on the shelf. But keep the receipt and they will exchange them for another bottle if you get a bad one. Notes of dried fruit, tobacco and smoke on the nose. Chewy tannins and bold fruit on the palate. Like the above, a perfect pairing for meat and cheese, and will also pair beautifully for traditional lamb or beef dishes. 88.

Let's leave our friends in Spain and head down the coast to California, where we finished off some wine we've had aging for a little while:

2011 Sterling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($29.99)

2011 was not known as a top vintage for Napa Cabs, but you wouldn't know it from this lovely well-priced example. Intense aromas of dark chocolate, cedar and black fruits. A hint of brown sugar joins the luscious red fruits on the palate. Long, smooth finish. 92.

2011 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier ($23.99)

I previously reviewed the 2013 vintage which we stumbled across on our Napa tour. I ordered a few bottles of this online as a Xmas surprise for my wife, who loved it as much as I did and didn't know it was available here. I was expecting the 2013, but what we actually received was 2 bottles of the 2011 and 2 bottles of the 2012. Quite a nice treat.
This one opens up with some floral aromas, intermingling with some peach and mango. Subtle notes of grapefruit on the palate, with some pineapple and nectarine. Very nice, but I actually slightly preferred the '13. 88.

And now let's come back home with some offerings from the Okanagan:

2009 Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Merlot ($29.99)

Berries, cassis, plum, chocolate and a hint of vanilla. Finishes smooth and lush with just a hint of pepper. This excellent vintage is drinking beautifully now. 89.

2011 CedarCreek Merlot ($19.95)

Berries and red licorice on the nose. Raspberry, plum and a touch of vanilla on the palate. Tannins are smooth but another year or two in the bottle wouldn't hurt. A pretty good entry-level Merlot from a very cool growing season. 87.

2013 CedarCreek Pinot Gris ($18.95)

Nutty characteristics with a touch of citrus on the nose and palate. Pears and a bit of lime as well. Balanced acidity. A top notch example of this varietal from BC. 88.

2012 Church & State Gravelbourg Vineyard Chardonnay ($24.99)

Reminiscent of a big California Chardonnay; golden in colour with a rich, buttery citrus flavor and a beautiful finish. A fabulous example of a wine that over-delivers for the price. 91.

2013 Church & State Gravelbourg Vineyard Chardonnay ($24.99)

I actually tasted this one before the one above, but my notes were nearly identical, and so was the score. Ditto. 91.

2010 Church & State Coyote Bowl Petit Verdot Malbec ($35.00)

Plum, smoky, meaty aromas. Some smoke carries through to the palate, with a hint of pepper, cassis and leather. Definitely a food wine, pairs well with grilled meats and big beef dishes. 86.

2012 Gray Monk Reflection ($18.99)

Regular readers will know that the 2011 Reflection was one of our favorite, if not our very favorite, off-dry whites. This one is a bit different, a blend of Orange Muscat, Riesling and Muscat Canelli grapes. It's still off-dry, bordering on "sweet", with notes of citrus and orange peel. It's not quite up to the 2011, but it's still delicious. 87.

2010 Fairview Cellars The Bear ($34.99)

After the phenomenal success that was the 2009 The Bear, this is a whole new animal, pun intended. Fairview Cellars did a terrific job managing the much cooler 2010 season. Fruit forward and rich, with smooth, silky tannins. 89.

2009 Quails' Gate Dry Riesling ($16.99)

The more wine I drink, the better understanding I get of the different varietals and the terroir that makes them what they are. The fact is, it wasn't that long ago that I would never have enjoyed anything called a "dry Riesling". Oh how times have changed.

Tropical fruit and citrus notes on the nose. Mouth watering acidity, showing the best that BC Rieslings have to offer. Just the right amount of minerality on the palate. Really hitting it's peak now, and probably has another couple years of improvement ahead with careful cellaring. 91.

Thanks for reading! I'll be back soon with lots more; it seems like I am drinking wine much faster than I can find time to review it! Oh, the horror.

Friday, January 16, 2015

A great day of some GREAT wine

Last Sunday, while enjoying a day of NFL Playoff football, we enjoyed three quite spectacular bottles of wine. Pairing with a fabulous Prime Rib with Red Wine and Thyme au jus (containing some of the first bottle) and Parmesan Yorkshire Pudding. What a meal. First up was this one:

Church & State 2011 Coyote Bowl Syrah ($34.99)

I previously review this here, when we tasted it at the winery last June. I liked it then, I liked it even more this past weekend. The extra time in the bottle smoothed out the peppery notes, changing them to beautiful flavors of black fruit. The pepper didn't disappear, but it lingered in the background. Fabulous. 94.

Then we switched over to a totally different bottle of the same varietal from a totally different part of the world.

Barossa Valley Estates 2007 Ebenezer Shiraz ($39.99)

Beautiful notes of blackberries and a touch of mint on the nose. A tiny bit of black olive and chocolate on the palate. Finishes forever. An absolutely beautiful wine that could probably age another 4-5 years and get even better. 93.

And now for something completely different, an oldie from the Old World:

Cantina della Porta Rossa - 2000 Bricco Ambrogio Barolo ($89.99)

 Age has coloured this to a orange/brown colour. Very complex on the nose and palate. Black cherry, tar, and leather. After a night in the decanter, the wine was still excellent and changed slightly to bring in a bit of tobacco. Chewy tannins and a very long finish. Very nice example of what this varietal can do with proper aging. Paired absolutely brilliantly the second day with a charcuterie plate. 93.

When a nice $90 Barolo is the third best bottle of wine you get to enjoy in a day, you know you've had yourself a pretty damn good day of wine-ing. Here's to many more days like that!!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Holidays bring wine, and more wine, and more wine....

...think I'm exaggerating? Santa must have thought we were extra good this year.

...and there are seven bottles missing from that picture.

I guess we have some wine to drink (oh, the horror), and we began sampling it in earnest in December and early January. My thoughts on some:

Wolf Blass 2012 Red Label Traminer Riesling ($17.99)

An intriguing, aromatic blend. Roses, lychee and lime on the nose and palate, with a touch of spice on the finish. 87.

Wolf Blass 2013 Red Label Cabernet Merlot ($17.99)

Lots of berries on the nose and palate. Very approachable, dependable everyday red wine that pairs with most anything. 86.

Wolf Blass 2012 Yellow Label Moscato ($19.99)

Lightly spritzed and off-dry. Notes of flowers and citrus. Lush and rich mouthfeel with tropical notes. A nice patio sipper or dessert wine if you don't like really sweet wines. 86.

Black Hills 2008 Nota Bene ($65.00)

Now we are playing with the big boys. I bought a four-pack of this for my wife for Xmas, and had already taken the other three bottles to my offsite wine cellar to age them. This one was so good now, I may go and get one of those and bring it home. It may improve further with age, but it is already pretty damn good.

Appealing notes of red berries with some chocolate and vanilla. Plums and black cherries dominate the palate with just a touch of vanilla to round it out. Just a hint of spice on the very long, luscious finish. Tannins are soft and round, making this very drinkable now. Will it still improve? General thinking is that Nota Bene improves for 8-10 years from vintage date, so we'll see. 94.

Black Hills 2011 Viognier ($24.90)

Aromatic and fruity. Some lemon and peaches on the nose and palate. A touch of honeysuckle. Has aged beautifully, and seems to have reached it's full potential. 88.

Sumac Ridge 2009 Stellar's Jay Brut ($25.90)

This is a well-regarding Sparkling, but it did little for me. It's ultra-dry and that's just not how I like my bubbly. There is a yeasty quality with lots of green apple. 80.

Quails' Gate 2012 Richard's Block 25th Anniversary Series Pinot Noir ($40.00)

We decanted this for an hour or so but it needed more. Black cherries and some chocolate on the nose. Highly concentrated. Tannis were still sharp, leading to speculation that we just opened this too early. The winery website suggests cellaring for up to 15 years. It's not bad, but it seems as if it could be so much better. 87.

Quails' Gate 2009 Chenin Blanc ($18.99)

A white wine that ages gracefully and powerfully. Probably close to reaching it's peak, might have another year or two of maturity in it; but it's superb right now. A hint of grass joins the citrus fruit on the nose. Tropical fruit and a touch of honey on the palate. The years in the bottle have added a depth and maturity that really brings this wine together. 90.

Quails' Gate 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon ($24.99)

Limited and tough to find for a reason. 2011 was far from a banner year for red wines in the Okanagan, but this is still tasty. Cherries and cranberries greet your nose. Just a hint of mint. Black cherry and blackberry on the palate, with a touch of vanilla. Lovely but would improved with a few years of carefully cellaring. 89.

Le Vieux Pin 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($35.00)

Grassy notes dominate the nose, with hints of passion fruit and guava. Lime and gooseberry on the palate. Complex and terrific with a crisp finish. 89.

Tinhorn Creek 2013 Pinot Gris ($18.99)

Citrus fruits and pineapple burst through on the nose and palate. Some floral notes as well. Continues to be one of the best of this varietal from BC. 89.

Lots more to catch up on but this will do for now. Hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday season and New Year's!!