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.
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.