Archive for the 'Syrah/Shiraz' Category

2010 Laughing Stock Vineyards “In the Pink” Rosé

It’s getting to be the time of year that I find myself sitting at my desk wishing I was on a warm and sunny patio with a dish of mixed olives, some cheese and a glass of dry rosé. From what I’m seeing in the stores, more and more of BC’s winemakers seem to be having the same thoughts. I’ve only tried a few, but some of them, such as the folks at Laughing Stock Vineyards, are getting it right.

Laugh Stock’s “In the Pink” is a project done in partnership with The Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver. Their YEW restaurant + bar’s sales manager and sommelier, Emily Patterson recently helped select the blend with Laughing Stock’s winemaker, David Enns. The wine, which is a blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Franc will be sold exclusively at YEW for $22 for a bottle and $2 of each sale will go to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Only 75 cases were produced.

On May 26th, 2011 YEW restaurant + bar will also host the Laughing with YEW Wine Dinner. You can check out all the details on their site. It sounds like it will be a great time.

OK, so now that you know all that, you may be wondering if the wine is any good. It is. In the glass, the wine has a pretty pink salmon hue. A sniff filled my nose with strawberry, cranberry and citrus fruit. A sip gave me more of that gorgeous cranberry and strawberry fruit  with a crisp finish that lasts for a minute.

Well done folks. This is a very nice bottle of wine. Now I just need some sun, a patio and those olives to go along with it.

* Disclaimer – I received this wine as a sample.

$22 exclusively at YEW restaurant + bar.

3 1/2 stars

3 comments

2005 Los 800 Priorat

The preview for the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival has piqued my interest in Spanish wine again, directly impacting my shopping habits at the same time. Even out here in the ‘burbs, we are seeing a better variety on the shelves.  I picked out this one considering that I love Priorat, and the price was right.

I popped this one open the other night and was immediately struck by the inky, almost felt marker hints and pencil shavings on the nose (a teacher’s dream I guess ☺) with some tobacco and dusty currants. All the things I love in the unique nose of Priorat – and this one is a blend of 50% Garnacha, 30% Carignan, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah. A few sips brought on loads more currant with some rustic earth and plum. As the evening went on, the plum became more pronounced with some nice spices. The finish was distinctly Priorat in my experience, – long with cherry, chalky mineral and some pepper. A winner all around in my mind as it got better as the night went on. We had this with some nice charcuterie and and cheese – a great complement.

I tasted the Les Terasses at the festival night, and as always, it was delicious and well worth the $45. Given this reference point, this one is well worth the $29 price tag.

I’m looking for to tracking down many more wines like this in just over a month!

$28.99 at the LDB here in BC.

4 stars

1 comment

Tasting – Marquis Wine Cellars presents Buty Winery at C Restaurant

First things first… I’d like to thank John Clerides and the staff at Marquis Wine Cellars for putting on this great tasting. The food and wine pairings at C Restaurant made my day.

From the left, that’s Graham, Caleb (the winemaker and co-proprietor at Buty), John and me (sporting a bit of a winter beard).

Last summer, when Graham and I were down in Walla Walla for the Wine Bloggers’ Conference, we ran into John and as I’ve already written, he said, “Do you guys want to taste something great? Come with me.” We headed out to Walla Walla’s airport wine area and made our way into Buty Winery’s tasting room. What we tasted were some of the highlights of the weekend.

So, when John decided to bring some of the Buty wines into his shop I was pretty stoked. I’ve grabbed a few bottles of the Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and  Muscadelle blend over the last month or so.

I’ll run through what was being poured, with a bit of a review of each wine. So, let’s go. Here’s they are:

  • 2009 Beast Sphinx Semillon
    This was the surprise of the tasting for me. It was a medium-bodied mouthful of honeyed lemon and mineral. So tasty. (4 stars – $24.99)
  • 2009 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Muscadelle
    Personally, I love this wine. It has a crisp acidity that makes it a great food pairing wine along with beautiful melon, noney, citrus and stone flavours. What’s not to love? (4-4.5 stars – $31.99)
  • 2009 Conner Lee Vineyard Chardonnay
    Wow. This was another surprise for me – and was a perfect pairing for the delicious C Restaurant-prepared lobster. It had a really nice citrus-edged crispness with nice tropical and stone minerals on the finish. More Chablis than slutty Chardonnay. Very nice. (4-4.5 – $45.99)
  • 2008 Beast Wildebeest Red Wine
    This blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Syrah and 10% Malbec adds up to a really tasty deep cherry, berry fruit-driven wine with a pepper-edged mineral finish. Nice. (3.5-4 stars – $32.99)
  • 2009 Merlot & Cabernet Franc
    Well now… another surprise. I really liked this. It had wonderful dark fruit and a flintiness on the finish that I find really appealing, especially on elegant Washington State reds. (4.5 stars – $48.99)
  • 2008 Columbia Redviva
    Wow. This is the winner. This blend of 52% Syrah and 48% Cabernet Sauvignon was definitely the standout of the tasting for me. In a word, this wine is elegant. It has a tonne of dark red fruit, but not in an over-ripe sort of way. The berry fruit is almost perfect. So good! (4.5 – $59.99)
  • 2009 Redviva of the Stones
    This wine is a blend of 79% Syrah and 21% Cabernet Sauvignon. To me, this one needed a bit of time. It was pretty closed up. I’m thinking in a year or so its dark fruit and minerality will be more in balance. (4-4.5 stars – $59.99)

It was great to see Caleb again. I always love seeing talented folks who are passionate about what they’re doing. All wines are of course available for purchase or order from Marquis Wine Cellars. Head on over to their site for the contact information.

The folks at C Restaurant deserve a special mention for the fabulous food. Everything was delicious and reminded me that I should head there soon for my seafood fix. Amazing stuff.

2 comments

2006 Buty Winery Columbia Rediviva, Phinny Hill Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills

This summer, while Graham and I were at the 2010 version of the Wine Bloggers’ Conference, we spent some time hanging out with John Clerides, the owner of Vancouver’s killer wine shop, Marquis Wine Cellars. One of the days, John grabbed us and said something along the lines of, “Do you guys want to taste something great? Come with me.” We headed out to Walla Walla’s airport wine area and made our way into Buty Winery’s tasting room. Thanks, John!

He had been there the day before and wanted us to taste the wines that had grabbed his attention. So we did… and really liked them all. I grabbed a bottle (or 3) of each, so I’ll review them as I pop ’em open. This is the first of the reds that I’ve opened and, wow… it’s even better than I had remembered.

The nose has vanilla-tinged ripe dark red cherry/berry fruit with a floral cracked pepper edge. The flavours? Wow…. so much going on. The ripe cherry and blackberry fruit have a distinct bit of floral violet with a bit of coffee and black pepper in there too. The finish goes on and on – and on… leaving flavours of the fruit and pepper. The tannins are firm but soft; the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove.

Overall, the wine is very balanced and pretty exceptional. It can easily be stuck in your cellar (or closet) for the next 5 years and would only be better for it.

$48 USD at the winery.

4    1/2 stars

No comments

2007 Château de Paraza Minervois Cuvée Spéciale

Holy value alert! Along with a 2005 Di Majo Norante Contado Aglianico (review coming soon) I had a week ago, this is the best red wine value I’ve come across since I started the under-$30 challenge a while back.

This wine from Minervois, in the heart of France’s Languedoc region, is  just plain tasty. It’s a blend of Syrah (40%), Grenache (40%) and Mourvèdre (20%).

A sniff gives up some vanilla from the oak along with ripe red cherry and black pepper. A big ‘ol sip of this medium-coloured red shows juicy ripe blackberry, red cherry and plum fruit, licorice, black pepper and a nice minerality on the medium finish. It just feels good and rich in the mouth, unlike many reds in this price range.

It’s a heckuva’ value, folks. It may not blow you away, but I’m thinking it will make you raise your eyebrows and go, “Mmmm.” Not many red wines under $20 will do that these days.

$17.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars

No comments

2005 Domaine Courbis St.-Joseph, “Les Royes”

I’m going to detour from the under-$30 wine challenge for a day. I had this wine a couple of weekends ago and I liked it so much that I had to get it on the site. It comes from the France’s Saint-Joseph Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in the northern Rhône and like many wines from that area is comprised of 100% Syrah.

Holy crap. I haven’t enjoyed a wine in this price range so much in so long. The nose is INTENSE – with bacon, cracked black pepper, blackberry, herbs and dust. It smells so GOOD. Look at me using the caps. This wine calls for it.

The flavours? It’s jam-packed with concentrated, yet polished blackberry, plum, meaty-like-bacon mineral and herbs. Yowza. It builds in the mouth unlike many wines I’ve had recently. This is the full-meal deal. It’s the wine equivalent of a beret-wearing macho man walking up to an Aussie (Shiraz) and knocking him out. It’s much better than any Shiraz I’ve had in a long time. So much better.

This is a kick-ass bottle of wine – especially for $50. If you can find it, grab a couple. Hell, grab a few. You’ll be glad you did.

$50 at Marquis Wine Cellars.

4  1/2 stars

2 comments

2004 Domaine Gauby Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Vieilles Vignes

09302009So, the story goes something like this. In 1985, Gérard Gauby began making wine from his family’s grapes which had previously been sold to the local co-operative. Domaine Gauby was born from the grapes that his family had been growing for generations.

Domaine Gauby’s vineyard management is biodynamic and Gérard Gauby has become a rockstar in the Languedoc-Roussillon… What’s not to like?.. and when Kirk at Kitsilano Wine Cellars poured me a sample of their wine, I knew I had to take a bottle home. I chose this one.

According to their web site (in French) it’s made up of 35% Carignan (from 125 year-old vines), 30% Syrah (20 year-old vines), 25% Grenache (55 year old vines) and 10% Mourvèdre (25 year-old vines). That all adds up to a bloody tasty bottle of wine.

On the nose it has a bunch of cool stuff going on. There’s gorgeous ripe red berries, cherry and an herb and floral edge to it. A sip gave me even more. There’s the cherry and berry, along with licorice, the herbs (thyme? – maybe because I had some with dinner tonight) and a long and kinda’ tannic finish that goes on for over a minute.

Do I like this wine? Actually, I love it. It’s a gorgeous Old World wine with a bit of the New World’s density of flavour tossed in. It’s naturally farmed, comes from a great producer and has a very reasonable price for its quality.

$35 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars from the Farmstead folks.

4 1/2 stars

No comments

2005 Mueller Syrah, Russian River Valley, “Block Eleven”

I picked this up at the Bottle Barn when we were down for the Wine Bloggers’ Conference and paired it with a nice steak and grilled veggies.  I have to say it got better and better as the evening went on – beautiful balance, velvety and elegant floral notes came on.  This a great bottle that I would love to find again.

$20.99 at the Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa, CA.

4 stars

No comments

Sean Thackrey Pleiades XVII

Last Saturday night Candace and I headed out to Graham’s for a BBQ dinner and to taste a few wines… and film a few reviews. First up is Sean Thackrey’ delicious Pleiades XVII. It’s a blend of Syrah, Sangiovese, Mourvèdre, Barbera, Carignane, Petite Sirah and Viognier, among others.

Pretty amazing stuff.

$19.99 at the Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa, CA.

4 1/2 stars

5 comments

2007 Domaine du Bosc Rosé, Vin de Pays d’Oc

06212009aLike wine? Enjoy Summer? Drink Rosé… and by that, I don’t mean go out and buy that gross sweet White Zinfandel crap. Buy the stuff the locals drink all Summer in France, Spain and parts of Italy – the gorgeous Rosés.

One of the best areas for rosé production in France is the Languedoc area in the South of France… and who doesn’t want to sit in a café there sipping something like this?

This wine, which is a blend of 70% Cinsault and 30% Syrah, has a beautiful light salmon colour to it (I’m sure it would pair incredibly well with some of our local fish as well). The nose shows light strawberry and lemon and a big sip gives up a crisp bit of the light berry along with red raspberry and a squish of lemon and bit of herb (maybe some lavender or rosemary). It’s so tasty and refreshing for when the warmer weather hits.

~$23 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars here in Vancouver.

4 stars

4 comments

Next Page »