Saturday, August 27, 2016

Okanagan Wine trip continues near Mt. Boucherie (the mountain) at....Mt. Boucherie (the winery)!!

We've often felt this was one of those real underrated wineries, so we try to make sure we stop in every time we are in the area. Always good value.

The clerk in another wine shop warned us, though, that Mt. Boucherie had recently been sold to THE CHINESE! Oh no, the Chinese!?!?! LOL. I always think it's funny when someone says something like that...I mean, did the country of China buy the winery?

Perhaps a person or persons of Chinese descent bought the winery; I can't even confirm that is true. But I'm pretty sure that the entire country of China did not invest in a small winery in the Okanagan Valley. I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, new ownership can sometimes be a bad thing, but it can be a good thing too. Only time will tell. For now, let's review the wines we actually tasted.

One negative thing I must mention, their website is at least a full year out of date. Definitely an upgrade is necessary here.

Oh, and that damn tour bus was right behind us, so when we entered the tasting room, we were shuttled down to the very end of the counter to make room for them. Not overly impressed with that, as the customers who are actually in the shop should take priority over those you know are coming at some point. They didn't arrive until we were halfway through our tasting.

Mt. Boucherie 2014 Pinot Gris ($16.00)

Pleasing aromas of pear and melon give way to notes of pear, citrus and a little bit of honey on the palate. 88.

Mt. Boucherie 2014 Ehrenfelser ($17.00)

Aromas of lemon and pineapple jump from the glass. The palate is dominated by flavors of tropical fruit. Well balanced acidity. 87.

Mt. Boucherie 2012 Semillon ($10.98 - sale price)

Strong herbaceous notes on the nose, notably elderflower. A little bit of lemon shines through as well. The palate enjoys some citrus, apricot and pear flavors. A real bargain, even at the regular price of $15.50. 88.

Mt. Boucherie 2013 Gewurztraminer ($17.00)

Typical Gewurztraminer nose including rose petals and lychee. Fruit flavors are joined with just a touch of spice on the finish. 88.

Mt. Boucherie 2013 Family Reserve Chardonnay ($30.00)

Intense nose of hazelnut and butterscotch. Rich mouthfeel with flavors of butter and toasty oak. A real treat and showing some evidence that further aging with make it even better. 91.

Mt. Boucherie 2013 Pinot Noir ($21.00)

Burgundian in style, with smoky notes of cherry and spice. Light and fruity flavors of cranberry and cherry. Good potential. 88.

Mt. Boucherie 2013 Merlot ($21.00)

Beautiful intense floral notes on the nose, with plum and vanilla joining in for good measure. Black fruits dominate the palate and coat the mouth, with some vanilla on the lovely finish. This is a really good Merlot, and a bargain at this price. 90.

Mt. Boucherie 2012 Family Reserve Summit ($28.00)

Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc

Aromas of vanilla, cassis and mint combine to create an intoxicating olfactory experience. Flavors of black fruit, coffee and plum. Finishes long. Lots of potential here. 91.

Mt. Boucherie 2013 Family Reserve Syrah ($25.00)

I actually wrote "AWESOME NOSE" in my notes. Black pepper, cherry and licorice aromas. A lot of dark fruit and black pepper flavors. If you are a fan of peppery Syrahs, it's tough to imagine you wouldn't love this. 90.

Not a bad wine in the bunch, we left with a bottle of the Semillon, Summit and Merlot. Here's hoping that the new ownership, assuming that is actually true, doesn't screw it up! As always, I highly recommend dropping by Mt. Boucherie when you are in the area.

Next up.......we go up the hill to a winery we rarely visit when we are up here.....drumroll please.....

Mission Hill !

Friday, August 19, 2016

Okanagan Trip, Part I: it's like trying to find good wine in a haystack.....of Little Straw.....

ANOTHER Okanagan trip? Yah, you betcha, real good now.

A few weeks ago we received an invitation to a special event for members of Quails' Gate's Barrel Club. And oh, what an event it was. More on that in a later post.

For now, our first visit to a little winery called Little Straw. I knew almost nothing about them but I noticed on their website they had a little bistro, which was exactly what we were looking for to have a quick lunch before the event, which started at 4. The chef (who is also the assistant winemaker and also acted as our waiter!) was terrific, and although the menu was small, there were some nice choices of what he described as "Spanish Tapas". We ended up with the "Chef's choice", basically a little bit of everything.

Everything was good, but take particular note of the cheese on the left of the plate. It's a maple cheddar. Yes, maple. OH MY.

As we were leaving the Okanagan, we stumbled into a fresh fruit and vegetable stand that just happened to sell this cheese, so we bought a couple of blocks. We'll be serving it at our upcoming tasting events, for sure. It's different and delicious.

In addition to the lunch, we ordered flights of their wine....we figured even though we would be paying for wine we could taste in the tasting room downstairs for nothing (well, they accept donations), it would be a more pleasant experience to taste it with food.

Unfortunately, the wine was served in very small cups, making it impossible to swirl the wine (without spilling it everywhere, and I speak from experience here) and also quite difficult to properly smell it. I'd recommend to them to serve their flights in actual wine glasses, or something close, as they are really just muting the fragrance and flavors of their own product. Anyway, we tasted through what they have, and my notes are below.

Little Straw 2014 Viognier/Auxerrois ($17.90)

Muted nose of citrus with a touch of honey. The palate features lots of apple - both red and green - and a little bit of peach. 86.

Little Straw 2015 Sauvignon Blanc ($16.90)

Notes of gooseberry, guava and a touch of fresh grass on the nose. Citrus dominates the palate, which also features a but of honeydew melon and red apple lingering in the finish. 87.

Little Straw 2015 Tapestry ($16.90)

Their signature white blend of Riesling, Auxerrois, Gewurztraminer, Siegerrebe, and Schonberger. Some lychee, pear and citrus notes on the nose, followed by flavors of granny smith apple and lychee. Slightly off dry. There is a lot going on here. Maybe too much. 86.

Little Straw 2014 Riesling ($19.90)

Interesting aromas of green apple, citrus and cloves. The palate is green apple dominant, with a bit of clove mingling around the minerality. This showed some potential for growth. 87.

Little Straw 2015 Pinot Noir Rosé ($17.90)

Lovely nose dominated by red fruit, particularly strawberry. The strawberry carries right through to the palate, with some cherry joining in and just a touch of spice on the finish. This was, by far, our favorite wine of the day. Lovely. 89.

La Petite Paille 2010 Cuveé Noir ($17.90)

Here's a blend I bet you haven't seen before. Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Blaufrankish.
Blackberry, blueberry and a smidgen of vanilla on the nose. Very light palate of dark fruit. 86.

Little Straw 2012 Southern Cross ($29.90)

Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grown elsewhere, mixed with some of their estate grapes.

Dark fruits dominate the nose, with some mint, vanilla and spice hanging around. The palate is light with a chalky mouthfeel, dominated by dark berries, oak and baking spices. 86.

Little Straw 2012 Maréchal Foch ($19.90)

Intense nose of blueberry and blackberry with some smokiness. Blueberry is in charge of the palate here, with some earthy undertones. Anyone who reads this blog probably knows our opinion on Foch, but hey, this one is as good as most. 86.

After lunch we headed down to the tasting room (which was COMPLETELY empty when we walked in) to find that World War III had broken out. Turns out a tour group had arrived (and this tour group would be the bane of our existence for most of the day) We tried to get close enough to taste the 3 or 4 other wines they offered, but none of those were opened, so we had already tasted everything we were destined to on to our next stop.

Next visit, we will taste the wines in the wine shop to ensure we are giving them a fair shake. We will definitely be heading back to the lovely bistro.

Next up: another small winery that usually over-delivers, Mt. Boucherie!!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Another Trump-sized catch-up post, with slightly less racism, misogyny and overall craziness....

Let's dive right in to today's wine ratings, lots of stuff to talk about:

Heidler 2014 Gruner Veltliner ($24.99)

The nose and palate experience an almost overwhelming amount of minerality. Wet stone. Flint. More wet stone. Oh, and a tiny bit of fruit. Seems more like a Riesling honestly. 85.

Blue Mountain 2014 Chardonnay ($20.90)

Notes of toasty oak, and citrus on the nose, with creamy lemon flavors mixing with a touch of anise, apple and pear. A really excellent value. 90.

Bordertown Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Franc ($24.00)

Lovely aromas of bell pepper, tobacco and a touch of spice. Flavors of dark berries, pepper and just a hint of mint. This was my first experience with this new Okanagan winery and it certainly shows tremendous promise. 89.

Cedarcreek 2015 Gewurztraminer ($15.99)

Aromas of lemon, pears, ginger and lychee. A touch of spice comes through on the finish with flavors of ginger, lychee and citrus. Lovely at a nice price. 88.

Cedarcreek 2015 Senator's White ($18.99)

84% Chardonnay
16% Sauv. Blanc

Pretty aromas and flavors of peach, pineapple and passion fruit. Really over-delivers for the price, perfect patio sipper or to pair with chicken or pasta dishes. 89.

Church & State 2011 Sun Ridge Vineyards Merlot ($19.90)

Aromas of dark berries, vanilla and raspberry. Blackberry, raspberry and dark chocolate come through on the palate. Needs some more time to fully develop but drinking well now. 88.

Church & State 2012 Coyote Bowl Syrah ($34.90)

Dark in colour and in aroma. Lots of black pepper mingling with the black fruit, with some earthiness in addition. Palate is rich, juicy and intense, with beautiful fruit and just the right peppery notes coming up late. A real treat. 92.

Gray Monk 2013 Reflection ($19.90)

I've seen some call this a "late harvest" but it's not really that, it's gently fortified Muscat and it's a real treat to the palate. Fruit pops from the glass, which is a perfect wine to enjoy on the patio on a hot day or even pair with spicy foods. It's too sweet for some of you, I get that, but for me, bring it on! In fact, I feel like opening one right now but it's only 9AM so I will hold off for a half hour or so. 89.

Le Vieux Pin 2014 Roussanne ($29.99)

Their first attempt at a single-varietal Roussanne is a good one. Intoxicating notes of tea, toasted cereal and herbs. A touch of hazelnut, pear, honey and peach on the palate with some herbaceous notes just showing through. This would be a perfect pairing for most white fish and I can attest it's perfectly good without food as well. I have a few of these in my cellar as I suspect it will even get better with some aging. It doesn't have too far to go. 91.

Le Vieux Pin 2009 Syrah ($39.99)

A really hot vintage produces a big, fat, bold wine with a nose of cold cuts, black pepper, bacon fat and red fruit. Such a wonderful, complex palate of black plum, black cherry, white pepper, licorice and mushroom. Long and luscious finish. This seems to really be hitting it's peak now. 94.

Mission Hill 2009 Select Lot Collection Merlot ($34.99)

Aromas of blackberry, blueberry and a touch of oak. Black fruits dominate the concentrated palate. A bit of dark chocolate and vanilla hanging around in the background. Another one from a hot vintage which really seems to be hitting it's stride. We held this one in our cellar for a few years and it really responded. Probably could have gone a couple more as well. 92.

Quails' Gate 2014 Gewurztraminer ($17.99)

Intoxicating aromas of lychee, passion fruit and guava. Pay attention and you might notice just a touch of spiciness coming through at the end. Dominated by flavors of tropical fruit but also features some guava and ginger notes. Just slightly off-dry. To me, this is still the benchmark to which all other G's are measured. 92.

Mer Soleil 2014 Reserve Chardonnay ($39.99)

Aromas of tropical fruit, white peach, vanilla and butterscotch. Ripe fruit mixes perfectly with butter and oak on the palate. As with every other vintage, this is a go-to everyday Chardonnay that never disappoints for the price. 92.

Still at least one more big update to come to finally catch up; but that will go on hold for a little while, as tomorrow we head up to Kelowna for a short little wine tour, featuring a nice winery party which I will report on when we are back. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Huge catching up post......or in Trump venacular, "it's UGGGGE, it's the best blog ever, trust me".....

Let's start right off with a real winner, and I just happen to be drinking a bottle of this while I type this entry:

Culmina 2015 Unicus ($27.00)

The Okanagan's first Gruner Veltliner is still by far it's best, IMO, and it is only getting better. I had given their first two vintages very nice reviews (scores of 90 and 91) but we are in a whole new world of wonderful with this one.

Beautiful aromas of orchard fruits, citrus, white pepper and lemongrass. Beautiful palate features some creme brulee, lemon, toasted almond and subtle herbaceous notes married to a tiny touch of white pepper on the finish. The best of this varietal I've ever had and it's not even close. So good, I'd buy it at twice the price. But don't tell the winery that. 95.

Not much else can compare to that, but that doesn't mean we haven't enjoyed some other really good stuff lately.

Whitehaven 2015 Sauvignon Blanc ($17.99)

A touch of grass and lemongrass like you might expect, with intense notes of jalapeno and bell pepper. Some citrus comes through on the palate, with some herbaceous notes which are vivid but not overpowering. At this price, if you buy it you should go to jail for theft. 90.

Dona Paula 2008 Seleccion de Bordega Chardonnay ($40.00)

Our first taste of a Chardonnay from Argentina, and it was lovely. Aromas and flavors of hazelnut, butterscotch and white flowers. Toasty and nutty and lovely, with just enough buttery flavor. 89.

Domäne Wachau - 2015 Federspiel Gruner Veltliner ($19.99)

A nice example of this varietal from Austria, the country that is known for it. Herbaceous notes on the nose, with some green apple and white pepper. Crisp acidity with fruity notes and a spicy finish. 88.

Col Solare 2000 Col Solare ($100.00 USD)

86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 4% Syrah

We came across this beautifully aged bottle at SeaTac airport, of all places, and snapped it up. 2000 was not known as a banner year for this production but to quote Jack from Sideways, "tastes pretty good to me". Lots of raspberry, vanilla, leather and tobacco on the nose and palate. Some baking spices come through, especially cinnamon, with smoke and black cherry flavors as well. Elegant and long finish. The years in the bottle have really brought this to a special conclusion. 94.

Hartford Court 2007 Late Release Far Coast Vineyard Pinot Noir ($82.00 USD)

Don't have the patience to age your wine? This is the wine for you, as the winery has done it for you!! Just released this year, and nicely aged already.

Aromas of black fruit, with a hint of vanilla and herbal notes. Just a slight tinge of smokiness and green olive as well.

Beautiful fruity palate, featuring a mid-palate of olive and lots of beautiful red fruit at the end. Absolutely one of the smoothiest, silkiest, slickest mouthfeels ever. So good. 94.

Evesham Wood 2013 Pinot Noir Le Puits Sec ($65.00)

Burgundian-style Pinot from the Willamatte Valley in Oregon. Perfumed nose with red berries shining through. Some earth and spice join the party as well. There is some room to grow here, but it's already drinking beautifully. 92.

Hartford Court 2012 Stone Cote Vineyard Chardonnay ($65.00 USD)

Pear, honeysuckle, orange blossom and orchard fruits on the nose and palate. Medium bodied and well-balanced acidity. Doesn't quite measure up to the very best that this producer churns out but it's still pretty damn good. 92.

Tinhorn Creek 2014 Pinot Gris ($17.49)

Pineapple, herbs, citrus and tropical fruit on the nose and the palate. Perfect amount of acidity. As I've said before, probably the best of this varietal that BC has to offer. Stunning. 92.

Miner Family Vineyards 2009 La Diligence Syrah ($66.00)

Intense aromas of black fruit and black olive. Oh, so much olive. Did I mention olive?? The olives and black fruit continue through to the palate with some subtle notes of black pepper on the finish as well. So unique and beautiful. 93.

Rustenberg 2008 Peter Barlow Cabernet Sauvignon ($65.00)

Red berries, cherry, cigar box and leather on the nose. Cassis, blackberry and herbaceous notes on the palate, leading to a long and luscious finish. A truly fantastic example of this varietal from the Stellenbosch appellation of South Africa. 92.

Tinhorn Creek 2015 Oldfield Series Rosé ($19.99)

Beautiful aromas of blood orange, strawberry and a touch of vanilla. Ever so slightly off-dry with herbal notes and luscious flavors of orange and anise. One of the very best rosés in the Okanagan. 92.

Tinhorn Creek 2014 Oldfield Series Golden Mile Bench Chardonnay ($34.99)

Spectacular nose of white flowers, butterscotch and citrus fruit. The flavors of marzipan, butterscotch, caramel, honeysuckle, lemongrass and pineapple roll over the palate in waves like the ocean crashes into the beach. Shows tremendous aging potential but if you can't wait, it's already so good. 94.

See Ya Later Ranch 2012 Pinot Noir ($17.99)

Red fruit with just a touch of earth on the nose. Red currant and strawberry on the palate. A pretty decent entry level Pinot. 86.

Le Vieux Pin 2015 Vaïla Rosé ($21.99)

100% Pinot Noir and 100% impressive.

Beautiful notes of blood orange, strawberry, rhubarb and roses on the nose. The palate opens up with flavors of red fruit, finishing with a hint of pepper and just a touch of cured meat. Very special. 92.

That's enough for tonight, but still lots to come! Enjoy!

Black Hills hits a hat trick of home runs with new stuff

Holy mixed sports metaphors, Batman! A hat trick of home runs makes no sense. I guess if someone hit three home runs in a row, baseball announcers would call that "back-to-back-to-back-Jacks" but that's just silly and I am not a baseball guy anyway so I'm sticking with the hat trick.

Anyhoo.......this year, Black Hills produced three wines we weren't expecting. Two of them were completely new and one of them was a second vintage of a wine that was first produced last year and we thought would be a one-year wonder.

And man, did they ever back-to-back-to-back-Jack the heck out of these wines.

They were debuted at this year's Nota Bene release party, which we missed for the first time in a few years....we won't miss it again!

Black Hills 2015 Alias ($21.65)

43% Riesling, 43% Pinot Gris, 14% Gewurztraminer

Beautiful aromas of pineapple, apple and white flowers. Intoxicating. Pear and apple on the palate with a touch of slate, grapefruit and tropical fruit. We enjoyed this on the patio with no food at all but it would pair beautifully with any spicy or seafood dishes. A real treat. 91.

Black Hills 2014 Per Sé ($43.39)

75% Cabernet Franc, 25% Syrah

This was produced last year to fill out orders for their club members to make up for a bit of a shortfall in their Carmenere production. At the time, we thought it was a one-year deal. Thank CHRIST it wasn't.

Black fruits, forest floor, bell pepper and mint on the nose. Beautiful palate featuring black cherry, cocao, smoke and cigar box. Finishes well. What an absolutely beautiful bottle of wine and one that I hope they continue to produce every year. 93.

Certainly that had to be the best bottle, no?


Black Hills 2014 Ipso Facto ($43.39)

A first-time blend of 52% Syrah, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc

Oh my.

Dark fruits, vanilla and a touch of licorice tease your olfactory senses. The palate is complex with a decadent mixture of blueberry, cherry cola and coffee. Full bodied with a spectacular finish. What a treat for a brand new wine. Who knows what heights this might reach? 94.

Typing up this blog post reminds me that I better order some more before it's gone!

These guys rarely make a misstep. Nice to be a member of a wine club that you know is going to provide you with delicious wine year after year.

Next up: It's catch-up time, I have so many notes on great wines that we've enjoyed in the last couple of month. Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride!