Archive for the 'Ratings' 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

2001 Mayacamas Vineyards Merlot, Napa Valley

God knows I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Merlot. I’m pretty much there with Miles from “Sideways“. When I hear “Merlot”, I think a bit of cherry fruit, bland, vanilla and pretty much nothing else. There’s a lot of that floating around this province, produced here and elsewhere, that fit that description perfectly.

Here’s how I happened to pick this bottle up at Marquis Wine Cellars the other night. I was headed out for a long road cycling workout the next day and hadn’t soaked up much iron in my diet in the last week, so I thought a steak would be a great choice for dinner. With that in my mind, I headed into Marquis and was looking for the classic steak pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon. While scanning the Cali section, my eyes landed on this bottle. 2001. From Mayacamas. A Merlot, I know, but I was thinking a Mayacamas Merlot should fit the bill quite nicely.

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call this an Old World style New World wine, but I guess I will. It’s got a funky edge to it that most California producers seemingly try to avoid. Instead of a manipulated and polished vanilla-ness, this wine tastes of the grapes and that’s  good thing. Its colour is a dark brick-ish red that doesn’t show any age-driven mellowing around the edges. The nose is an intriguing mix of black olives, tea, plum and dark cherry.

The flavours? Wow. The flavours amplify the slightly bitter edge of the dark cherry and finish off with tea-edged dark plum. The finish goes on for minutes. I had it with that steak and experienced one of those happy food-wine moments I wanted to last and last.

If you want to try an old-school California approach to Merlot that won’t have you longing for less oak and more flavour, give this a try.

$49.90 at Marquis Wine Cellars here in Vancouver.

4    1/2 stars

2 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

2007 Mauritson Wines Rockpile Jack’s Cabin Vineyard Zinfandel

It’s been a while since I wrote up a Zinfandel, but last week was the big Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) Festival in San Francisco. I didn’t attend this year, but it’s a wine fest that holds a special place in my heart. It’s got to be the most fun-oriented/least pretentious wine event I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. I was down there the day after it ended, but America’s grape was on my mind. I went into my write-up archive and found this one that I had tasted a month or so ago. I had picked this bottle up at the winery when Candace and I visited Napa and Sonoma back in March, 2010.

In the glass it’s got a dark-dark red colour. I kept burying my nose in the glass to smell the aromas of ripe blackberry, dark chocolate, black pepper and cracked stone. You can smell the minerals from the soil. After a sip, the progression of the wine’s flavours disappointed just a bit. They start out full and ripe, but then disappear a bit and go flat… then they make a sudden reappearance with the full ripe berry fruit and a jammy, yet balanced and looooooong finish. So what we have here is a wine with a killer nose that starts out impressively in the mouth then disappears for a bit before making a memorable comeback.

All in all, I did like this wine – quite a bit. I liked the dustiness and minerality that mixed in with the fruit.

~$37 at the winery.

4 stars

No comments

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 Domaine Tempier “La Tourtine” Bandol

The other night I walked into Marquis Wine Cellars with an open mind – without any idea what I felt like sipping. Marquis is arguably the best shop in town to happen upon in that state of mind. Through their entrance to the right is an area piled with recent arrivals and staff picks. It was there that I found this wine.

This is my first Bandol, yet I’ve had all the grapes in the mix many time before… and why not start with a single vineyard wine from what is arguably the area’s best-known winery. What’s in the wine? Well, it can vary vintage to vintage, but it’s generally 70-80% Mourvèdre, which is rounded out with an equal blend of Grenache and Cinsault.

What’s it like? I loved the nose. It’s full of black pepper along with some burnt rubber (it fits better than you would think), ripe plum and dark berries. The flavours deliver on the promise of the nose. There’s so much going on with this wine – it’s so complex. There are layers of jammy dark fruit with a big backbone of black pepper and firm flinty tannins. Wow.

Drink it now or in 15 years. That’s your choice. It could certainly cellar for a while.

Strongly recommended.

$60 at Marquis Wine Cellars here in Vancouver.

4    1/2 stars

No comments

The new lineup from Averill Creek Winery

Back in June of 2010, I tasted my way through Averill Creek Winery‘s lineup, so when they sent me samples from their current vintage I was looking forward to giving them a try. I was also looking forward to getting Graham’s take on the wines, so I set aside a couple of them for him.

I won’t get into the winery’s story. I did that in my last write-up of their wines, so you can always give it a read there. So, onto the wines we go.

apg2008 Pinot Gris: I really like this wine’s acidity… its crispness. Right now I’m sipping it with a bit of soft Gourmelin cheese (French) and it’s a great match. On the nose, the wine has crisp apple, citrus and a bit of flinty rock. A sip gives a rush of the crisp apple-driven acidity followed by some lush pineapple and lemon. The finish is capped with flinty stone and citrus. It’s quite a nice wine, that’ll go with a lot of food. $20 from the winery and at wine shops here in BC. 3.5 stars

Graham sampled the other 2 wines – the 2009 Pinot Grigio and the Marechal Foch-based 2008 Prevost. Here’s what he had to say:

Things have been looking up on some of the wines coming off the island, and I was really interested to give these two a go when we received these samples.

Right off the bat, I liked both of these wines.  They are lean with firm acidity and perhaps best of all food friendly and not trying to be something they’re not.  Not pumped up, over extracted or over-oaked – just nice clean fruit.

pglabelThe 2009 Pinot Grigio is reminiscent of an Italian Grigio.  It begs for some seafood or grilled chicken.  Light citrus and mineral on the nose.  It’s bursting with zingy acidity on the palate. I liked the tart green apple and lime, but wanted a little more before the tight mineral came back in the finish.  I had this with some grilled prawns and the clean style was a great match. $18 from the winery and at wine shops here in BC. 3.5 stars

Prevost-2008The 2008 Prevost was a pleasant surprise for me.  Built around Marechal Foch, which I have found it to be a bit hit and miss in the attempt to be bigger and bolder than it needs to be.  This is no such wine for certain.  The choice to blend as they have with some cab, leads to a different and enjoyable glass of red.

The nose has some cranberry and currant, backed up by a some earthy hints.  A few sips brings some rhubarb and more red currants.  Like the grigio, the Prevost has a prominent acidity that again – I liked.  It paired well with some grilled vegetable pasta.  Again, this is a well-priced choice. $20 from the winery and at wine shops here in BC. 3.5 stars

I would certainly give both of these a go again, particularly as the patio and grill time will soon be increasing.   (What can I say I’m meteorological optimist!)

Give’em a go.

1 comment

Summerhill Winery Cipes Pinot Noir Rose NV and 2007 Robert Bateman Organic ‘Get To Know’ Merlot

Summerhill Winery Cipes Pinot Noir Rose NV

It’s that time of year – when you may be looking to have  glass of celebratory bubbly, but don’t want to break your newly minted 2011 budget. Well, there are a number of decent sparkling wines out there in the under-$30 range that can fit the bill. If you’re a fan of rosé wines, this one may just be the ticket.

Summerhill Winery, near Kelowna, crafts this wine from certified organic 100% Pinot Noir grapes. In the glass, this has a nice salmon-rosé colour, with a nose of light strawberry and citrus. A sip has a mouthful of fine bubbles and light berry fruit with a crisp citrus/green apple edge to the finish.

Hmmm, it’s quite nice. What we have here is actually a pretty solid sparkler for the money. It has more depth to its flavours than some of the cheaper Cavas from Spain or Proseccos from Italy – as well it should, as it costs ~ $10 more.

$29.95 and according to the winery, it’s available at private BC wine stores and restaurants, Alberta wine stores and restaurants, and Saskatchewan and Manitoba in limited quantities.

3 1/2 stars

2007 Robert Bateman Organic ‘Get To Know’ Merlot

OK, so here it goes. I’m a bit torn on how I feel about this wine. To be honest, I expected to not like it… and at first I didn’t. It’s a bit too full and round for me. It feels like the wine has been tampered with to achieve a too-full level of ripeness and booze (it clocks in at 15%) – but if the winery is to be believed, it was made with, “Minimal intervention winemaking…”.

If that’s true, then this is a decent BC Merlot, made with 100% organic grapes grown in Kaleden, which is south of Penticton in BC’s Okanagan valley. The nose is full of blackberry, currant and vanilla. The flavours are a robust and full mix of what the nose hinted at.

I’m guessing there are plenty of folks out there who would really like this. For me, it’s a bit too far on the ripe side. It needs a bit more complexity to keep my mouth interested. Having said that, it is a full-bodied red with ripe fruit and some nice tannins on the finish that would allow it to pair quite nicely with some hard cheeses or a good steak.

$29.95 and it’s available at private BC wine stores and restaurants, Alberta wine stores and restaurants, and Saskatchewan and Manitoba in limited quantities.

3 stars

Note: $1 donation with the sale of each of these for every bottle sold supports ‘Get to Know your Wild Neighbours’ non‐profit organization. I received both these bottles as samples.

No comments

2005 Dominio DosTares Cumal

Every time I’ve drunk a wine lately, I feel a bit guilty that I haven’t been posting. I originally started this site as my online wine journal and now it’s time for to get back to that – it doesn’t always have to be an article-like write-up; I just have to get them done. I’ve got a HUGE backlog, so I’ll try to get some of them online in the next while.

This bottle is as good a place to start as any. I’m sitting here sipping and it’s pinging parts of my taste buds that haven’t been tickled in a while. It’s 100% Prieto Picudo from vines of more than 90 years of age and is from Spain’s Castilla y León region. You’d have to be forgiven for not knowing that grape. Heck, I didn’t but wow it’s tasty.

The wine is a deep, slightly opaque red, with a brilliant ruby edge. It’s big. More so than what I’m used to seeing when I think of wine from this area of Spain (near Bierzo). When I stuff my nose into the glass, I smell a seductive mix of aromas – dark plum, black currants and berries, black pepper, tobacco and some felt tip marker. A juicy sip loads my mouth with a beautiful mix of that ripe fruit and it finishes with a firm dose of tannin.

This is my kind of wine. It’s funky, interesting and most of all, tasty. In a word, it’s delicious.

$50 at Marquis Wine Cellars here in Vancouver.

4    1/2 stars

No 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

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