Sunday, March 26, 2017

A cool new wine club to join, and reviews of some of the wine we got from it (and other stuff too!!)

A friend of mine put me on to a wine club that is a little different than the other 11 I belong to (YIKES...11? When you write it down it seems real!!). It's called the Okanagan Wine Club and it's different because you join and you don't have to buy anything - ever.

Of course, if you don't buy anything you don't get any wine. But you could still consider yourself a member, and get the weekly newsletter.

Once you buy one pack, you become a "VIP" Member for life, and you are invited to join the Private VIP Facebook group, if that is your thing.

My friend and I recently purchased the pack that the club was offering, and split it (3 bottles each). The winery was Tightrope, a Naramata winery that neither of us were familiar with. We've tasted two of the three bottles so far, and my thoughts are below.

If you want to read more about the club, go here.

On to the wine!

Tightrope 2015 Viognier ($21.65)

Attractive aromas of orange rind, citrus and just a hint of spice. Rich and full mouthfeel and flavors of apricot, vanilla and spice join in with the citrus that carries through. Really nice. 89.

Tightrope 2014 Pinot Noir ($30.35)

Absolutely beautiful nose of black cherry, black currant, tobacco and plum. The cherries turn red on the palate, and there are hints of chocolate and spice. This is one of those wines where the palate didn't live up to the spectacular bouquet. 86.

Here are thoughts on a few wines from wine clubs of the more traditional variety. First, from Quails' Gate's Barrel Club:

Quails' Gate 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($31.15)

Blackberry, mint, black plum, mushroom and cigar box on the nose. Palate has a chalky mouthfeel, with flavors of dark chocolate, black cherry and forest floor. Long, pleasant finish and the flavors improved when paired with some hard cheese. 89.

And, from the first US-based wine club we joined:

Joseph Phelps 2013 Freestone Vineyard Pinot Noir ($55 USD**)

Intoxicating bouquet of black fruit, dark pum, herbs and pine. The palate is rich and generous, flavors of red cherry, blackberry, blueberry, tea leaves and cinnamon. A true example of a terrific Pinot Noir that would certainly improve with more aging but is so approachable now. 92.

Joseph Phelps 2013 Quarter Moon Vineyard Pinot Noir ($75 USD**)

Alluring aromas of red licorice, rose petals, ripe strawberry and dark cherry. Cherries continue through to the palate, with some notes of tobacco leaf, herbs and mint. Drinking right now, I actually preferred the one above, but I think this one has the legs to go long and really be spectacular with some patient cellaring. 91-94.

** This would be the non-club members price; we get a discount for being in the club, but of course when you take into the FX and duties that the government charges, well it's obviously considerably more expensive than stated. But so worth it.

That's it for today. Next up, I will post the report on the food and wine we enjoyed last weekend during our "O, Canada" theme night!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lots of great wine to report on, including one wine that is older than I am!

OK I'm sure you all know that isn't true, it wasn't as old as me. But it was old. How old?

Old enough to fly to Vegas, win a couple bucks at the Roulette table, have a nice steak dinner..... and drink itself.

The question is: would it enjoy itself when it drank itself?

Yes, I believe it would.

Marchese de Frescobaldi 1995 Luce Della Vita ($79.99 USD)

Cassis and black plum aromas jump from the bottle upon opening, but they quickly give way to notes of forest floor, light mushroom, and muted notes of cedar. The palate is delicate and features the flavors you might expect from a 22 year old wine; leather, cigar box, and cedar. Although there is plenty of fruit left, it has almost certainly started it's decline; if you have one, time to break it open! 92.

This wine, along with it's 1996 counterpart, is still available to buy on as of this writing.

Church & State 2013 Trebella ($20.00)

Marsanne (52%), Roussanne (43%), Viognier (5%)

White flowers, orchard fruits and a hint of vanilla on the nose. Some herbal notes, some honey, some fruit, even a slight yeasty quality on the palate. Very nice. 88.

Culmina 2014 Decora ($24.95)

100% Riesling.

Pretty white flowers highlight the nose, which also features some stone fruit, grapefruit and just a hint of spice at the end. Peach and nectarine on the palate, which gives way to pleasing minerality and citrus flavors. So good. 91.

La Stella 2015 Vivace Pinot Grigio ($22.99)

Intense nose of citrus, sage, rosemary and pear. Citrus dominates the palate, but you'll also notice some orchard fruit, pear and orange rind. An absolutely perfect pairing for oysters or mussels. 88.

La Stella 2015 Moscato d'Osoyoos ($19.99 for 375ml bottle)

Beautiful aromas of rose petals greet you, followed closely with notes of orange blossom, nectarine, peach and a tinge of honeydew melon. So good as an apertif, a dessert wine, or just drink-it-because-you-have-it wine. 91.

Quails' Gate 2015 Gewurztraminer ($17.35)

Typical aromas of this varietal; lychee, guava, papaya and a hint of spice. Slightly off-dry but far from sweet, this beauty features flavors of tropical fruits, lychee and ginger. 91.

Quails' Gate 2007 Dry Riesling ($25.00)

BC Riesling ages so well, my friends. So well. Beautiful, strong minerality, with notes of petrol and citrus. Viscous and unctuous and delicious. Really peaking now, if you can get your hands on some, I would highly recommend it. 91.

Quails' Gate 2010 Pinot Noir ($29.99)

Aromas of red fruit and spice. The aging is really bringing out the leather and tobacco notes, but still tons of cherry and strawberry. A hint of mocha comes to join the party on the lovely finish. 90.

Quails' Gate 2015 Rosé ($16.99)

Made in the style of the Provence region of France. Lots of red fruit on the nose, with a touch of black pepper hiding in there if you give it a chance to show itself. Strawberry, raspberry and a bit of cranberry on the palate. My favorite Rosé from this producer to date. 89.

Carpineto 2014 Dogajolo ($24.99)

Aromas of leather, spice and cherry. Cherry, leather with some earthiness on the palate. Very dry. We bought this on the recommendation of a worker at Liberty Wines in Granville Island and thought it was nothing special. 85.

Rust en Vrede 2014 Chardonnay Reserve Moederkerk ($29.99)

This was a recommendation from the same place as the above, as we were looking for our favorite Stellenbosh Chardonnay and they were sold out (in fact, at the time, they didn't think they'd ever get any more - that proved to be untrue). Citrus, fresh pineapple and other tropical fruits on the nose. The citrus and pineapple follow through to the palate, with a hint of guava coming along for the ride. Well-balanced acidity. Not bad, but not up to the standards we have expected from this lovely region of South Africa. 87.

Quady 2013 Essensia Orange Muscat ($14.99 for 375 ml)

Aromas and flavors of grape, orange ice cream and violet. Very sweet and decadent. If you are a fan of very sweet dessert wine, and orange is your thing, you will love this. 87.

Sterling Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon ($29.99)

An always-solid value for this price in a Napa Cab. Notes of chocolate, blackberry, cassis and violets. This would undoubtedly be a good candidate for cellaring, but it's so approachable now, it seems like a good choice to enjoy now while some of it's bigger cousins get their rest. 90.

If you visit my "cellar" page, you may notice I am in the process of tinkering with the California section, with my goal to make it easier to understand. So far, I think I took it in the wrong direction! Trying to list all the AVA's, appellations, sub AVA's, sub-appellations, etc, is giving me a headache. California starts with just 6 AVA's, but those are broken down and broken down and broken down, sometimes so far it's almost laughable. For example, at the WineFest we tasted a lovely Pinot from Etude. To break down this one's heritage would look like this:

Central Coast --
                          Santa Barbara County --
                                                                  Santa Ynez Valley --
                                                                                                    Sta. Rita Hills

Four levels before you get to the wine. You want to know what's more confusing?

It may or may not be correct!!

Some websites suggest that Sta. Rita Hills is an AVA unto itself, not as part of the Santa Ynez Valley. But many websites suggest otherwise.

That's about how I feel about it. Anyway, I'm going to continue to tweak but basically leave it as it is, to give the best picture of where the wine comes from. I was quite intrigued how much Napa Valley wine is simply "Napa Valley", and not part of any of the many sub-AVA's in that region. It goes to show you how many great wineries make their wine from multiple vineyard sites (therefore, the grapes come from multiple AVA's and can't be sub-classed).

Anyway that's enough for today, hope you enjoyed the read and I'll be back soon with some more updates.                      

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Casa D'Engemoen hosts a taste of Italy.......

Last weekend, the third in our series of "theme nights" where we feature food and wine from a particular country. This time, it was our turn to host and Italy was the country.

Decanting the reds

Our patio furniture, the only table we have big enough for 6

The pasta bar


The wine:

Bottega N/V Gold Prosecco Treviso II ($27.49)

Beautiful aromas of pear, wheat and white flowers. Pleasing flavors of peach, almond, baked pear and citrus. Slightly off-dry and creamy, be sure to serve well chilled. 89.


What are ramps? The link above has a pretty good description. Since it was impossible to find them at this time of year, I used scallions with some garlic to mimic the taste. It was a tasty dish, but not spectacular. Different, for sure.

The wine:

Montresor 2015 Soave Classico ($15.49)

This is a dry, medium-bodied Garganega from the "Classico" hills behind the village of Soave. Light nose features some minerality with a bit of citrus, pear and apple. Fruity palate with citrus and green apple dominating. Pleasant and a very nice pairing with the food. 87.


You'll notice the title of this recipe is actually "Pancetta, Bacon and Pea" but there is no bacon in the recipe. This was sent to me from one of our wine clubs, La Stella, with our Fall shipment last year. They suggested trying it with a Pinot Grigio, so we did. 

The wine:

Santa Margherita 2015 Valdadige Pinot Grigio ($17.99)

Refreshing aromas of green apple, citrus and peach. Citrus dominates the palate. Crisp and refreshing at a reasonable price. I'm not sure it was a great pairing with the risotto, which probably could have benefited from a traditional pairing of Chardonnay. 88.


Chef Dez's Minestrone Soup

I've made this recipe about 15 times and it has always been a hit. Since my wife is now gluten-free, I substituted gluten-free Fusili pasta for the orzo.

The wine:

Rocca Della Macie - 2012 Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG ($26.09)

Previously reviewed during Dine Italia, here. It was an excellent pairing with the rustic, hearty soup.


I put the pasta maker to good use here, making this delicious ravioli and sauce from scratch. It was a big hit and became even bigger when paired with the wine of the night.

Collematoni 2007 Vigna Fontelontano Brunello di Montalcino Reserva ($129.99)

Intoxicating aromas of charred meats, dark berries, cedar, tea leaves and a touch of spice. Incredibly complex. Red fruits abound, as does cedar, leather and a touch of mocha. Tannins are smooth and supple. Finishes very, very long. This is a top-notch Brunello and is drinking incredibly well now. Very special. 96.



White Cheddar and Bacon Cappeletti, Pear and Pecorino Mezzaluna, Butternut Squash Mezzaluna (all bought at Granville Island). Three different sauces: Alfredo (store bought), Red (homemade), Rosé (homemade). 

The wine:

This was a mix-and-match fun experiment. Three different wines, meant to pair with different sauces.

With the Red and Rosé:

Castello di Monsanto 2008 Chianti Classico Riserva ($62.99)

Aromas of mint, dark cherries, plum, blackberry and spice. Dark berries dominate the pretty palate, with some cedar, tobacco and black plum as well. Very nice and paired very well with the sauces. 92.

With the Alfredo:

Ca' Del Bosco - 2009 Curtefranca Chardonnay ($42.99)

Aromas of honey, white flowers, hazelnut and notes of rosemary and thyme. Enjoyable palate with slight buttery notes mingling with citrus fruit. Very good and an excellent pair with the alfredo. 92.

Fontanafredda 2015 Briccotondo Barbera ($18.49)

Intense aromas of dark cherries and plum with a touch of spice. Dark fruit, cardamon and some black pepper on the palate. Very nice and a good pairing with the alfredo sauce but next time I'd try it with a red sauce, maybe even a bolognese. 89.


The main event of the evening. Served with a mix of grilled carrots.

The wine:

Azelia 2004 Barolo ($89.99)

Red roses, cherries, hints of tar, leather and tobacco on the nose. Complex palate with some ripe red fruit and dark fruit, cherries, tea, tobacco and a hint of spice on the finish. Just hitting it's stride, would probably improve for another decade. A brilliant pairing with the meat. 93.


A light dessert plate of cheese (including this one), nuts, and a toasted coconut and blueberry panna cotta.

This was supposed to pair with a Moscato d'Asti that I picked up, but frankly everyone was wined out by this point so we skipped it. Finished the Barolo (which, to nobody's surprise, didn't go with anything on the plate, especially the lovely Pecorino with honey mentioned above).

There you have it! A pretty damn good evening of food and wine if I do say so myself (and I think I just did).

Our next theme night? In keeping with the WineFest host country, our friends are hosting a night of CANADA! Probably 9 different kinds of poutine :)

That comes up in a couple weeks. In the meantime, I'll have lots more great wine to tell you about as I try to catch up on stuff we've been drinking between events.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Vancouver International Wine Festival, Part 3 ; bring on the rest of the world!

OK no need for idle chatter, let's get right to it!

Our purchases:

United States

The rest of the world


Graffigna 2015 Centenario Reserve Malbec ($14.94)

Whaaaaaaat? A Malbec? A $15 Malbec? I must be reading the wrong blog!! Dean doesn't like Malbec, and he certainly doesn't like $15 wine!!

Normally you are right, but you really never know, do you? Beautiful aromas of plum, vanilla and blackberry. Tons of intense, dark fruit with a hint of coffee on the palate. Tannins are smooth and supple. At this price, it's ridiculous value. 88.

Graffigna 2013 Grand Reserve Malbec ($20.11)

Similar nose to the above with flavors that are rich and forward, a touch jammy but not in a bad way, lots of blackberry, dark cherry and coffee flavors. Delicious and just like the one above, a completely steal at this price. 90.

Graffigna 2011 Santiago Graffigna ($41.39)

40% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Shiraz

Not much doubt we've found our new favorite Argentinian winery; not that we were experts on Argentina before this. This is a superb, robust blend which features intense blackberry aromas with a hint of minerality. Meaty, savory, woody flavors, lots of blackberry and a lovely finish. Absolutely delicious and will probably improve with another decade of careful cellaring. 93.

Bodega Renacer 2014 Enamore - 91
Bodega Renacer 2014 Reserva Malbec - 88

Bodega Renacer 2015 Punto Final Malbec ($17.24)

 Dark, brooding fruit aromas and flavors, with a touch of tobacco and herb. A bit of spice shows up on the long, lovely finish. Another really good bargain. 89.

Familia Zuccardi 2013 Zuccardi Q Tempranillo - 88
Familia Zuccardi 2013 Tito Zuccardi Red - 91

Nothing but quality from Argentina, wish we had time to taste everything. I think we are just going to have to go there sometime in the next few years!!

Alpha Box & Dice 2015 Wightmare Chardonnay - 86
Alpha Box & Dice 2014 Tarot Grenache - 88
Alpha Box & Dice 2014 Dead Winemakers Society Dolcetto - 88

Alpha Box & Dice 2014 Kit & Kaboodle ($32.19)

Unique blend of Montalpucino, Barbero and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Pleasing nose of blackberry, raspberry, cherry, sweet baking spices and savoury herbs. Lots happening on the palate, beautiful black fruit with a touch of cocoa and vanilla, and just a hint of mint. Finishes long and lovely. 90.

Barossa Valley Estate 2014 Estate Shiraz - 88
Barossa Valley Estate 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon - 86
Barossa Valley Estate 2014 GSM - 88
Barossa Valley Estate 2008 E&E Black Pepper Shiraz - 93

Chapel Hill 2015 The Parson Shiraz - 89
Chapel Hill 2014 The Parson Cabernet Sauvignon - 88
Chapel Hill 2014 Bush Vine Grenache - 86
Chapel Hill 2014 McLaren Vale Shiraz - 89

Yalumba 2016 Y Series Viognier - 90
Yalumba 2014 Y Series Shiraz Viognier - 89
Yalumba 2013 The Scribbler Cabernet Shiraz - 88
Yalumba 2014 The Strapper Grenache Shiraz Mataro - 88

Montes Alpha 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon - 88

Montes Alpha 2014 Syrah ($27.36)

Dark purple colour, aromas of herbs, bell pepper, blackberry, earth and licorice. Black cherry and blackberry flavors, with just a hint of oak and black pepper on the finish. 88.


Stina 2015 Cuvee White - 88


St. Urbans-hof 2015 Urban Riesling - 87
St. Urbans-hof 2015 Old Vines Riesling - 87
St. Urbans-hof 2015 Wiltinger Alte Reben - 88
St. Urbans-hof 2015 Ockfener Bockstein Kabinett Riesling - 91

Alpha Estate 2013 Florina Xinomavro Hedgehog Vineyard - 87
Alpha Estate 2015 Florina Malagouzia Turtles Vineyard - 86

Bottega Vinai Gewurztraminer - 84

Cantino Tollo 2015 Pecorino Terre di Chieti - 87

Carpineto 2015 Dogajolo Toscana Rosso IGT - 86

Mondo del Vino 2015 Filarino Sangiovese Rubicone Rosato IGT - 85

Umberto Cesari 2015 Momo Bianco - 86

CVNE 2015 Cune Monopole Blanco - 87

United States of America
Artesa Vineyards & Winery 2014 Pinot Noir, Carneros ($37.29)

Aromas of bright black plum and ripe black cherry, red fruit and violets. Classic pinot noir flavors of cherry and strawberry. Really nice Pinot for the price if you are looking for something to enjoy right now. 89.

Artesa Vineyards & Winery 2014 Chardonnay, Carneros ($37.94)

Beautiful aromas of white flowers, citrus and coconut. Stone fruits, citrus, coconut and just a hint of buttery goodness on the palate. Ditto the above, a nicely priced Chardonnay that is already drinking well, 89.

They also featured reserve versions of the above which were also excellent, but we decided the quality-to-price ratio was just as good with the "cheap" ones and we picked up one of each.

Artesa Vineyards & Winery 2013 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir - 90
Artesa Vineyards & Winery 2013 Estate Reserve Chardonnay - 89

Ca' Momi 2014 Rosso di Napa - 87
Ca' Momi 2015 Bianco di Napa - 85
Ca' Momi 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon - 88
Ca' Momi 2015 Chardonnay - 90

Etude 2014 Carneros Chardonnay - 88
Etude 2014 Carneros Pinot Noir - 92 (would have bought this but not available)

Etude 2014 Lyric by Etude Santa Barbara Pinot Noir ($33.34)

Aromas of ripe red cherry, strawberry and raspberry. Red berries, cherry cola and a touch of cinnamon on the palate. A real nice, easy drinking, California Pinot. 88.

Etude 2013 Fiddlestix Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills ($89.69)

Complex and intense with touches of pomegranate, raspberry, black cherry, earth, savoury herbs, cardamom, cinnamon and leather. Beautiful now and I can only imagine how much better it will be a a couple of years. 92-94.

Hope Family Wines NV Troublemaker Blend 9 - 86
Hope Family Wines NV Candor Zinfandel Lot 7 - 88
Hope Family Wines 2013 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon - 89

Hope Family Wines 2014 Treana Red ($50.59)

Aromas are intense and lovely, with cassis and blackberry jam being prominent. Those aromas carry through to the palate, joined by some dark chocolate, cinnamon and smoke. 92.

Kenwood Vineyards 2013 Sonoma Series Cabernet Sauvignon - 88
Kenwood Vineyards 2014 Six Ridges Pinot Noir - 86

Kenwood Vineyards 2015 Chardonnay ($23.56)

Talk about a bargain. 2/3 of this fruit comes from the Russian River Valley. Some green apple, honey and vanilla on the nose. Slight notes of butterscotch. Hints of white flowers, red apple, with a touch of minerality and well-balanced acidity. 90.

Kenwood Vineyards 2013 Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon ($45.99)

Sourced from a single vineyard where noted American novelist Jack London lived and wrote. Black cherry, cassis, cedar, mint, and a touch of spice on the nose. Full-bodied, delicious, well structured and a long finish. Top-notch California Cabernet at a reasonable price. 92.

Madrone Vineyards 2013 Lake Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc - 88
Madrone Vineyards 2013 Lake Sonoma Russian River Chardonnay - 89

Robert Mondavi 2013 Napa Valley Pinot Noir - 89
Robert Mondavi 2013 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon - 91

Robert Mondavi 2013 Maestro Red Blend - 93

59% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec

Delicious aromas of black fruit and mocha. Beautiful and rich mouthfeel, with red and black cherry flavors framing some notes of dark chocolate and oak. 93.

Robert Mondavi 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir ($68.99)

Beautiful fragrant aromas of black cherry, forest floor, earth and wet stone.  Black cherry, earth and baking spice on the juicy palate. Absolutely terrific. 93.

Signorello Estate 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon - 92

Bodega Garzon 2016 Sauvignon Blanc - 86
Bodega Garzon 2015 Albarino - 86
Bodega Garzon 2016 Viognier - 84

Well, folks, that's all she wrote. Two night of crazy wine tasting and we still missed SOOOO many wines. Next year, we are going to have to find a way to take in 3 tastings.

Next year, there is no host country....there are TWO!

Portugal and Spain! Very exciting!

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed. Already looking forward to next year.

Next up in the wine blog, the next entry in our "theme nights" series, from last weekend. Viva Italia at our place. 7 courses, and some absolutely fabulous wine (including one that is going to make it to the "Best of the Best" page).