Friday, January 29, 2016

First two entries in the Vancouver Magazine taste-through, including their Best In Show! Sort of.

OK last weekend we started tasting our way through all the wines in the Vancouver Magazine wine edition. First up:

Glen Carlou 2011 Grand Classique ($19.99)

Cabernet Sauvignon 42% | Petit Verdot 24% | Merlot 12%| Malbec 11% | Cabernet Franc 11%

Notes of herbs and blackberries waft through the nose. Blackberry, black cherry, and boysenberry on the palate. Rich and concentrated. 87.

And to top off the evening, we opened up the wine they considered the Best In Show:

Wynn's 2011 Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon ($24.99)

We didn't like this at all. Not AT ALL. In doing some research, I am constantly seeing very high scores from some wine critics that I respect (I mean like 95's and 96's) so I'm going to give this one a grade of "incomplete" and try it again. Our bottle wasn't corked, but maybe it was off a bit. We'll try it again. What a huge disappointment this bottle was.

On a totally unrelated note, we've also enjoyed a couple previously unreviewed wines:

Church & State 2014 Pinot Gris ($20.00)

Citrus notes mixed in with some granny smith apple and pear. The fruits continue through to the palate with an interesting amount of minerality. 86.

Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez 2010 Pesquera Reserva Ribera Del Duero ($60.00)

Aromas of red and black fruit with a touch of coconut. Medium bodied, with dusty notes and flavors of blackberry, vanilla and licorice. Long and smoky finish. Tasty now but would probably improve greatly in the long-haul. 89.

That's it for now, more good stuff to come!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Staff picks tasting at my usual haunt

Sardis Park VQA held a tasting of "staff picks" yesterday; a bunch of random wines that were selected by various staff members. Let's see if the staff has any taste.........

Mission Hill 2013 Reserve Chardonnay ($21.73)

Aged 10 months in 25% new American oak. Aromas of coconut, hazelnut and a touch of butter. Orchard fruits, coconut and a smidgen of orange and butterscotch round out the palate. Well balanced acidity. 88.

The Hatch 2014 Talking Stories White ($16.51)

A pleasant surprise, as our favorite new winery of 2015 has made a couple wines that conform to VQA rules. An unknown blend of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Auxerrois. The nose is greeted by citrus and white flowers. The fruit carries through to the palate with  balanced acidity and a crisp finish. 88.

Hillside 2014 Rose ($19.43)

Red cherries, strawberries, and cranberries on the nose and the palate. Juicy and inviting with a long, luscious finish. Quite impressive. 90.

Dirty Laundry 2013 Pinot Noir ($23.47)

Strong aromas of cherries and vanilla. The vanilla carries through to the palate, joined by red berries and a touch of tobacco. 88.

Orofino 2013 Scout Syrah ($28.69)

Dark purple in colour. Aromas of black cherry, plum and a touch of white pepper. Black cherry and pepper stick around on the palate, with earthy undertones. Finishes long. 89.

So I guess it's safe to say the staff has very good taste! Not a bad wine amongst them.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Recent tastings, and lots of other stuff too

This past Friday, Sardis Park VQA was tasting a selection of wines from Cedarcreek. Three of the four were wines we've tasted and reported on before, but there was one new one:

Cedarcreek 2013 Meritage ($22.99)

A new release, so new in fact that I can't find any information on this anywhere on the web, not even on Cedarcreek's usually very up-to-date website. The 2012 Meritage (their first Estate Meritage) was excellent but featured an unusually high percentage of Malbec (20% if I recall). I guess they decided that wasn't quite enough, because this vintage went absolutely Malbec-nutso, up to 36%! Cabernet Sauvignon is 35%, Merlot is 28% and 1% Cab Franc rounds out the blend.

The Malbec aromas are really in your face (or, in this case, in your nose). Blueberry jam, black currant and plum are all present. The jammy fruit really comes through on the palate as well. There is little doubt about the presence of Malbec here. If you love Malbec, you are probably going to go bonkers for this reasonably priced blend.

At this point, I think 36% is more Malbec than this blend needs, but of course this wine was JUST released and may need a bit of time to settle down. It's already tasty, but we'll see what it turns into after it settles down a bit. For now, 87.

Staying with Cedarcreek for a minute, last night we cracked open this puppy which we had been cellaring for a couple of years:

Cedarcreek 2010 Platinum Reserve Home Block Pinot Noir ($39.99)

I had previously reviewed this one after a tasting at Cedarcreek over two years ago, here. I mentioned in this review that it would likely really improve with some cellar time; boy was I ever right on the money there. The flavors intensified, the finished lengthened, and the tannins smoothed. I probably under-rated it when I tasted it then, but after some more time in the bottle it has turned into a very spectacular bottle of wine. My only complaint: I don't have any more! 93.

Some other new stuff:

Cedarcreek 2014 Gewurztraminer ($15.99)

Done in the Alsatian style, aromas of mango, pear and white flowers. The mango sticks around on the palate as well, Light acidity. As with the above Meritage, tasted quite young and will improve with a little bit of time. 87.

Now let's switch gears a bit and talk about a very special package of wine that I put under the tree for my wife: a case of library wine from Black Hills. Lots of special stuff that I'll talk about as we taste it, but I'll start with a five-year vertical of their terrific Syrah. We have tasted the 2011-2013 Syrah before, but we've now tasted them all:

Black Hills 2009 Syrah ($N/A except through special release)

Their inaugural release of this varietal, this was quite something. Peppery nose, with evidence of leathery notes and some meaty aromas as well. A touch of cola. Not a lot of fruit on the nose, but the fruit shows up in spades on the palate. Black cherries, plum, cigar box and mocha all mingle on your palate. This has aged beautifully, and was quite a treat. 93.

Black Hills 2010 Syrah  ($N/A except through special release)

Aromas of cherry cola, smoked sausage, dark fruit and just a touch of black pepper. More berries on the palate than the above: blackberry and blueberry in particular. A touch of pepper as well. Comparing these two was an excellent example of the incredible differences in the 2009 and 2010 growing seasons. 90.

Here are notes on a couple of very nice wines from a winery I was not that familiar with:

Clos du Soleil 2012 Guild Grower's Series Merlot ($24.90)

Exclusive and very limited and very tasty. It opens with cherries, raspberries and cranberries. The red berries combine on the palate as well and are joined by a touch of white pepper and dark chocolate. 90.

Clos du Soleil 2012 Signature ($45.00)

Cabernet Sauvignon (48%), Merlot (42%), Cabernet Franc (9%), Petit Verdot (1%)

Lovely aromas of black cherry, herbs and blueberries. The palate features some currants, blackberries and tobacco. Well balanced acidity. Quite lovely. 92.

For New Year's, we opened this one which I've had in one of my wine fridges for a couple of years:

Gray Monk 2009 Odyssey Rose Brut ($24.99)

Cherry and licorice notes on the nose. Fresh and lively palate features strawberry, licorice and toasty oak flavors. Look, take this review for what it is: I'm not particularly a fan of bubbly, but this is perfectly pleasant. 84.

Some other random stuff:

Gray Monk 2013 Pinot Auxerrois ($14.79)

I swear this rare varietal gets better every year. Citrus dominates the nose and palate, with hints of orchard fruits like peaches and nectarines. Beautiful acidity, this pairs perfectly with seafood, poultry, or a nice day on your patio. Serve well chilled (close to fridge cold). 88.

Meiomi 2014 Pinot Noir ($24.99)

A rich garnet color with a ruby edge, the wine opens to reveal lifted fruit aromas of bright strawberry and jammy fruit, mocha, and vanilla, along with toasty oak notes. Expressive boysenberry, blackberry, dark cherry, juicy strawberry, and toasty mocha flavors lend complexity and depth on the palate. At this price, it's tough to imagine Pinot being a lot better. 90.

Plume 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($22.62)

The first offering of this joint venture from the Stewart Family of BC (Quails' Gate) and Daniel Zepponi of Napa. Aromas and flavors of black cherry and plum. Muted and not particularly impressive. I've seen lots of solid reviews of this one, but we were quite underwhelmed. 83.

Mer Soleil 2013 Reserve Chardonnay ($35.00)

Beautiful and powerful aromas of butterscotch, pineapple, citrus and apple. Flavors of butterscotch, mango and fruit blossoms. Crisp palate with balanced acidity and a long finish. Lovely. 92.

Tamarick Cellars 2012 Firehouse Red ($25.97)

A blend of twelve grapes. Twelve. 29% Cab Sauv, 22% Syrah, 22% Merlot, 11% Cab Franc, 5% Malbec, 3% Sangiovese, 2% Grenache, 2% Cinsault, 1% each of Petit Verdot, Counoise, Mourvedre and Carmenere.

Aromas of rose petals mingle with cherries and strawberries. Plum, boysenberry and a touch of tobacco on the palate. Firm tannins. 87.

Last weekend we had a little side-by-side tasting of a couple beauties from South Africa.

Rustenberg 2012 Chardonnay ($28.99)

We've had a few bottles of this, previously reviewed here.

One of the bottles under our Xmas tree was this premium offering from the same winery:

Rustenberg 2009 Five Soldiers Chardonnay ($59.99)

Aged 18 months in oak and undergoing 100% maloactic fermentation, I was surprised at the subtlety of the buttery notes on the nose and palate. Dominated by citrus, peach and melon aromas and flavors. Creamy and long finish. 90.

That's it for today, almost caught up now! More tastings to report on coming up!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year's Resolutions of wine, wine, and more wine!

Hello all, I hope that everyone had a very happy and safe New Year's Eve! I know that I did. MMMM wine.

So I don't actually make New Year's Resolutions normally, but this year I'm making an exception: to taste my way through all the wines in this book:

I get this issue every year and every year there are tons of wines I've never tried (or heard of), and this year I'm going to rectify that as best I can. Given that it's "Vancouver" magazine, I'm going to assume all/most of the wine in the book is going to be available somewhere in this region if I look hard enough.

This year's awards were particularly vexing to me, as I've never tried a single one of the wines chosen "best of category" or "best of show".

Here is a breakdown of the number of wines listed by category:

Sparkling: 14
Light White: 13
Medium White: 12
Rich White: 10
Sake: 4
Rosé: 6
Light Red: 9
Medium Red: 21
Rich Red: 20
Dessert/Fortified: 6

Total of 115 wines are listed. I'm going to completely ignore the Sparkling and Sake categories, as I don't like either enough to make them worthwhile. That leaves me a total of 97 wines to taste through by the end of 2016. If the wines are available, I don't imagine I'll have any trouble making that happen. In fact, there are three I can already cross of my list, including this one which I have previously reviewed:

Category: Rich White

Le Vieux Pin 2013 Ava ($34.90)

And these two which I have recently tasted but not yet reviewed:

Category: Medium White

Cedarcreek 2013 Estate Chardonnay ($18.49)

Hints of mango and peach on the nose and palate. Gently oaked giving it just the slightest hint of butterscotch on the finish, but the palate is mostly dominated by tropical and orchard fruits. 87.

Category: Rosé

Tinhorn Creek 2014 Oldfield Series Rosé ($19.99)

Intense aromas of strawberry, red apple, blood orange and herbs. The strawberries continue to come through on the palate, with a touch of orange zest and lime. The best BC rosé I've ever had. 91.

That's it for tonight, it leaves the total of wines I need to try at 94. I picked up three of them, including the wine voted "best of show", earlier today at a BC Liquor Store, so I will report on those as we drink them. At least a couple more are already in my cellar but I have not yet tried them.

Check back regularly as I continue to knock some of these honored wines off my "to-drink" list!