Archive for the '$21 – 25' Category

2007 Stoneboat Vineyards Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley

06162009I tasted (and liked) Stoneboat’s wines back at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival back in March, so when I found their new releases at Taylorwood Wines last weekend, I thought I’d pick up a couple of bottles to try. I grabbed one each of their white blend Nebbia and their Pinot Noir.

OK, let’s get down to it… it’s a Pinot – kinda’ classically so. There’s not much of the New World sluttiness going on. The nose has that disinct barnyard edge to it, with stewed cherry and a bunch of citrus and spice. A big ‘ol sip shows the cherry juice, as well as orange peel and a bit of a tobacco edge to its mineral-laced finish. It’s tasty stuff, especially for the $24. I do have to say that it is a bit rustic though… with some stemminess to the flavours. This gives it a bitter edge that many folks may not find too appealing.

Having said that, I do have to say that I enjoyed this wine. Did I love it? No. Would I buy it again? Maybe. Would I drink it again? Yes. It’s much better than almost any other Pinot available at this price.

If you come across it and are a Pinot fan, give it a go and decide for yourself.

$24 from the winery.

3 1/2 stars

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2005 Moillard Mercurey Clos l’Eveque 1er Cru

When I first gave this wine a swirl, I thought some of my neighbors on the farms were spreading some fine grade manure. This is definitely a shining example of the “barnyard” character often attributed to Pinot Noir… and once you get past that, this is a neat bottle.

I swirled a bit more, and mixed in are some tobacco and meaty overtones. Anything this unusual deserves a few good slurps. Raspberry, red currant and some orange zest quickly took over for the funk and revealed an enjoyable glass of Bourgogne. The finish brings some nice earthy black tea and some tasty raspberry and floral notes.

Despite a rather odd beginning, this is a really elegant and tasty glass. It runs a full spectrum of the classic Pinot attributes and was equally unique the next day. At $21 in the current LDB clear out, it’s a really great deal.

$21 (regularly $34.99) at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars

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Vinifico on D3 TV

Last Friday, my colleague at Sitemasher, Shannon Yelland and I paid Clinton Kabler a visit at D3 Security Management Systems to appear with him in an episode of their D3TV video blog. We talked business and, just as importantly – wine.

Clinton had picked up 2 bottles of wine to taste while we chatted – both are available at Marquis Wine Cellars here in Vancouver:

  • 2007 Churton Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough Valley – I didn’t pick up on it initially, but I think this wine was slightly corked… and I mean slightly. It had just enough of that TCA sharpness on the edge. It became more apparent as the wine warmed up. Although it was not at all unpleasant, I’d like to give this wine another shot sometime soon (not rated due to TCA). $29 at Marquis.
  • 2007 Domaine du Joncier Lirac Rosé from France’s Southern Rhône – this was bloody tasty. I’ve actually bought the wine since and will again over the summer. It had a load of bright berry flavours (raspberry and cranberry came to the front). Clinton got bubblegum in there as well… and I can’t say I disagree. Tasty stuff! (**** stars). $24.50 at Marquis.

Here’s the video:

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2008 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

05132009It’s no secret. Year in and year out, this is one of my favourite white wines out there. I don’t really care about the price. It’s got  tonne of flavour and an incredibly well-balanced citrus acidity that makes it one of the best white wines to pair with food this side of a great Riesling. I came across it years ago while working at Dundarave Wine Cellar in West Vancouver and have been hooked on it (and hooking others on it) since.

This is a lip-smackingly delicious wine, folks. Like I said about the 2007, this has a nose that is all about the zingy grapefruit, grass and stone. What really makes it for me are the flavours of lime, tropical fruit, grapefruit and grass. The finish lengthens that with stone and more of that lingering tropical fruit. What a value.

Just so you can see what I’m talking about, try whipping up this guacamole recipe and pairing it with some good tortilla chips and a bottle of this wine.

My guacamole: (crush up and mix all ingredients in a bowl)

  • 2 ripe avacadoes
  • 1 clove of garlic (diced)
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 1 vine tomato (roughly diced)
  • a handful of fresh cilantro
  • some good salt

.. or, if you live in  BC, it’s spot prawn season. There are a tonne of recipes out there that would make this wine a magic match for our local bounty.

Go find this wine. Go.

$21.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars


2006 Rodney Strong Knotty Vines Zinfandel

2006 Rodney Strong Knotty Vines ZinfandelI’m throwing my hat into the wine review ring as it were. I’m assuming my appeal to readers might be that I’m “accessible” or “tells it like it is”, for the reason that I’m something of a noob at this. Not the writing part, or even the drinking part, but rather, the writing-about-drinking part. So let’s get started shall we?

It was a pleasant Spring afternoon when I decided to mosey into my local wine shop… no, scratch that. Start over. Ahem, hrm…

Last night I opened up a bottle of said wine. I had had some of this same elixir several days ago, but on the heels of a much inferior libation called Misterio. As such I wanted to dig into this bad boy with a clean palate. Now, as an non-conscientious imbiber, I’m sure the first mistake I may make is to dive into the bottle immediately upon opening. Sorry, but when I pop that cork (or untwist that screw nowadays), I’m usually on a mission. So in this case let’s say I gave it, oh, 2 minutes to breathe before pouring. Sue me.

Now, when I swirl and look at  the wine in my glass my wife will roll her eyes and move slowly away from me. However, I do take pleasure in it and I’m not sure if it’s the whole ritual of it or if I’m actually appreciating its characteristics. Let’s call it both. In this case, Rodney was a rich and ruddy color, leaving nothing but the clearest residual of itself after doing “The Tip”. Nose was really nice, and dammit if I didn’t notice the label on the back used the same adjective I came up with: peppery. But there you have it. There was some berry action happening too, but I’ll need to learn to focus better to further decipher which of the berry family was represented for future entries. Buuuuut… sticking my nose in that glass and drawing in invoked a nice little tingle deep in the ol’ nostrils. Like Alice in Wonderland enticed by a bottle hollering ‘Drink Me’, well, that I did.

So anyway, I’m a newcomer to Zins, but I have to say I’ll be sticking around for a while. I really like this wine. It’s clean, sticks in your mouth just long enough to remind you you want another sip and the finish struck me as… buttery? Can I say that? It had a bit of a buttery finish to me, not sure how else to put it. I mean it in the nicest way because believe me, I had more than the one glass.

At any rate I’ll be picking this one up again. And again. And in the meantime hopefully improving my God-given talents around discussing wine. Or at the very least, appreciating it.

Now go buy a bottle.

Picked up at my nearby Government liquor store for, oh, around 24 bucks.

3 1/2 stars


2004 Vinos Sin-Ley G-5, Vinos de Madrid

03182009OK, so after a bit of a break, it’s back to the wine. I was given this wine a couple of weeks ago by Sitemasher CEO, Ron Moravek. I finally cracked it open tonight with dinner to share with Candace.

From a winery whose name translates as “Wines Without Law”, I’m really liking what they’re doing – and that’s their own thing. They’re out to create wines of their taste using innovative methods. They make a few series of wines from different grapes. The “G” series are made entirely from the Grenache (or Garnacha) grape and make up G-1 through G-6. This wine’s grapes come from the Madrid area from vines that average 120 years in age…. and that age explains the complexity of the wine.

Wow… what can I say? The second I stuffed my nose into the glass to give this a sniff (after an hour of air), I was in love with it. The nose is all about the ripe red plums and some smoke with a peppery edge. A big ‘ol sip really gives you all the nose hints at. It’s juicy without being ankles-behind-the-ears slutty and earthy without being too puckery and Old World. It successfully straddles that fence between the 2 – Old World and New World. All the fruit and mineral balance, without being too juicy or austere.

If you can find it, this is a fantastic value wine. If you’re lucky enough to snag one, it should be in the $25 range.

4 1/2 stars


2004 Mauritson Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County

03062009While we were down in San Fran for ZAP, Graham and I spent an afternoon hanging out with Shea from Just-Grapes having some lunch, driving around in a rented convertible and shopping for some wine at K & L Wines.

This bottle comes from a winery better known for its Zinfandels, but with this wine, they make a heckuva’ Cab. The 100% Cabernet fruit comes from the Dry Creek, Alexander Valley and Rockpile areas. What that blending adds up to is a 14.5% ABV wine that could age in your little cellar for a while yet – I’m thinking another 5 -10 years could do it a world of good.

This is a gorgeous, balanced and reasonably-priced Sonoma Cabernet. It has a nose that gives up a bunch of red currant, blackberry and dark berry fruit. A smooth sip shows what it would be like to lick dark and juicy red fruit cocktail off a satin sheet. This is a polished wine, folks… The fruit is refined and the tannins are gentle, but firm. The finish carries on for a while and reminds you exactly why you are eager for the next sip.

$24.99 USD at K & L Wines in San Francisco.

4 1/2 stars


2008 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

Here I am in Maui sipping away – another badly-framed video:

~$16 USD here on Maui.

4 1/2 stars


Sean Thackrey Pleiades XVI

02192009Wow. What else can you say when you taste this wine? I would actually mistake it for a Nebbiolo-based Piemontese wine… It’s just that hard to pin down. I first tasted it at Vancouver’s Salt Tasting Room a while back and had been looking for it since.

It’s a field blend of Syrah, Sangiovese, Mourvèdre, Barbera, Carignane, Petite Sirah and Viognier, among other varietals. After harvest, winemaker Sean Thackrey lets the grapes sit and “rest” at least 24 hours outside his home. Then after crush, he transfers the juice to ferment in open vats under the eucalyptus trees that surround the winery.

Thackrey doesn’t keep track of the exact percentage that ends up in each blend so it’s different from year to year. No fancy schmancy modern science-driven techniques going on here. He got his education from what he says is the world’s largest collection of ancient wine scripts and lets his palate guide the final mix. The man is a character – something his wines have in spades.

The nose is really unique, especially for a California wine. There’s tar, powerful dark cherry and a bit of citrus edged by Thackrey’s signature note of eucalyptus. A curious sip gives up tar-edged cherry fruit along with a full-bodied mouth-feel and a finish that actually builds before it starts to fade a minute later.

I could drink this all the time and when you can find it, it’s quite the value. I was lucky enough to come across it at K & L Wine Merchants on my recent trip to San Francisco for the 2009 ZAP Festival.

$22.99 USD at K & L Wine Merchants in San Francisco.

4 1/2 stars


2007 Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Red, Padthaway

01202009So, my friend Eric phoned me earlier tonight while in his local LDB store asking what to buy. We ran through a few choices (finding none – it WAS over the phone) before he mentioned that while they didn’t have the Pillar Box Shiraz, the Red was in stock. I told him to go with it… and because I like to taste what I recommend, I went out and picked one up myself.

I opened this after dinner while watching the Canucks game against San Jose (loss, dammit)… and what can I say? I really like it. It definitely stands firmly on the “slutty” side of the fence, but also offers up enough depth of flavour that it’s an interesting quaff.

The nose shows ripe, stewed black cherry, along with black currant and berries with a bit of earth. A sip leads to an explosion of dark fruit (think black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, etc.) and a long-lasting, slightly boozy (it weighs in at 15% alcohol) finish.

Do I like it? Yep. But, you have to be in the mood for a Robert Parker-styled fruit bomb to love it. I was in the mood for that… and it’s a great value at under $20 CDN.

$19.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars

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