Archive for the '$31 – 35' Category

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

2007 Kim Crawford SP Central Otago Pinot Noir, Rise-and-Shine Creek

Are you looking for an affordable New World Pinot Noir? Think cherry Cola. Well, this may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Cherry Cola, fig and plum hit you in the nose when you take a sniff. The flavours are round, ripe and sexy. There’s dark cherry, blackberry and that cherry Cola the nose hinted at along with a dusty mineral finish that lasts a minute.

What does it all mean? Well, in short it’s a pretty simple, but very tasty New Zealand Pinot Noir that makes me yearn for an Old World quaff, but also makes me feel guilty for digging the flavours. The fruit is sweet and dusty… and I like it. It’s definitely not a Burgundy, but it makes my mouth happy.

All in all, it’s a great sipper on its own, but I’d look elsewhere for a really good food-pairing wine.

$34.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars

No comments

Napa/Sonoma trip – Day 2 in Sonoma Valley

Our second day in California’s wine country got off to a lazy start at my new favourite coffee spot in Santa Rosa, Flying Goat Coffee. After taking a leisurely stroll around Santa Rosa’s historic Railroad Square, we hopped in the car and headed toward our first stop of the day – Mazzocco Winery, near Healdsburg.

I had been emailing back and forth with Mazzocco for a while regarding a sample bottle they wanted to send me. Because of British Columbia’s antiquated and ridiculous liquor laws, it’s next to impossible to receive wine as samples in our province (I know – go figure)… so, while I was down in the area, it made sense to drop by, pick up the sample and taste the rest of the current releases.

Mazzocco Winery
It was Saturday, so that meant that both the parking lot and tasting room were chock full of Mazzocco wine fans. Candace and I made our way in and found a little corner at the tasting bar. I’ve liked pretty much everything I’ve tried from Mazzocco, so I was looking forward to trying their new wines. I’ll give something away here – I wasn’t disappointed. At all.

Here’s what we tasted:

  • 2007 Stuhlmuller Reserve Chardonnay ($36)
    Nice notes of vanilla, butter, caramel and citrus lead to a balanced and crisp finish.
    4 stars
  • 2004 “Inheritance” Cabernet Sauvignon ($40)
    5 years in oak produced a smoothly balanced wine with a lot of vanilla and licorice spice to the dark currant flavours.
    4 – 4.5 stars
  • 2005 Merlot – Dry Creek Valley ($28)
    This had a nice vanilla edge and some cracked pepper and a tonne of dark cherry/berry fruit with a long finish.
    4 stars
  • 2005 Aguilera Petite Sirah ($35)
    This was very firm and tannic, yet approachable with its licorice and black cherry/berry flavours.
    4 – 4.5 stars

The Zinfandels:

  • 2007 Briar Zinfandel ($29)
    This was the first Zin of the tasting and wow – the pure fruit that Mazzocco gets out of their Zins is so good. This had big ripe blackberry syrup with a vanilla bean edge. The finish lasted minutes.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Stone Zinfandel ($29)
    Big, delicious ripe red berry fruit with a syrupy edge and a long, long finish.
    4 – 4.5 stars
  • 2007 Warm Springs Zinfandel ($32)
    A dose of Petite Sirah added some tannic heft to this full-bodied dark berry bomb. So good.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Smith Orchard Reserve Zinfandel ($50)
    Wow. I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but… again – this wine has outstanding dark berry with a syrupy edge to its long and pleasantly tannic finish.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Maple Reserve Zinfandel ($60)
    Mmmmmmm… the Maple Reserve. I really liked this (though I have to say that I really liked all their Zins). This one stayed with me just a little bit more. It had a dusty edge to its dark berry fruit with a touch of brown sugar to the long finish. Outstanding.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Antoine Philippe Reserve Zinfandel ($120)
    The winemaker’s personal reserve. Ever wonder what an over-$100 Zinfandel tastes like? Like this… or this is what that should taste like. When I reviewed the 2006, I called it “possibly the best Zinfandel I’ve ever tasted.” Well this may have surpassed it. Although the previous wines were great Zins, this was just a step above. Firm, but fine tannins cap the delicious dark fruit. Wow. Just wow.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Kenneth Carl Reserve Zinfandel ($150)
    This is just about right up there with the Antoine Philippe. This is the personal reserve chosen by the winery’s owner, Ken (Kenneth Carl) Wilson. It’s immense, with blackberry, black pepper and licorice. The finish just keeps on going. Another amazing effort.
    4.5 stars

I’d like to give a shout to Bernie (that’s her with me in the pic above), who despite having a packed tasting room, manged to keep the samples coming and was kind enough to fill me in on every wine we tasted and even showed me pics from the different vineyards.

The Zinfandels that Mazzocco turn out really hit my palate in all the right ways. They’ve got big and balanced fruit flavours with a briary edge to the firm, but not too firm tannins. Candace agreed. She picked these as her favourite wines of the trip.

Mauritson Wines
After leaving Mazzocco, I chose to drop in at nearby Mauritson Wines. Last summer, while in the area for ZAP, I had picked up a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County from them and was curious as to what their other wines might be like.

Here’s what we tasted:

  • 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley ($17)
    This had crisp citrus fruit and a nice mineral edge to the finish. Very refreshing.
    3.5 – 4 stars
  • 2007 Chardonnay Alexander Valley Valley ($25)
    I really liked this. It had a crisp citrus edge to its tropical fruit that led to a long finish. A very nice effort – only 457 cases were produced.
    4 – 4.5 stars
  • 2008 Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley ($27)
    There was an almost meaty edge to the pepper and dark berry/cherry fruit. Very tasty.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County ($35)
    This had refined and tasty black currant fruit with a vanilla edge. The tannins were fine, but firm and the finish lasted minutes. This could definitely benefit from some time in your cellar.
    4.5 stars

The Rockpile Zinfandels:
These are the wines for which Mauritson is best-known. I hadn’t really tried them before and have to say that I was very impressed. They were very well-balanced with loads of spice and dark fruit.

  • 2007 Rockpile Ridge Vineyard Zinfandel ($35)
    Tasty jammy ripe red berry fruit with black pepper and really nice mineral-edged tannins on the finish. Really good stuff.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Rockpile Jack’s Cabin Vineyard Zinfandel ($37)
    This really grabbed me. I picked up flavours of black pepper, licorice, dark chocolate and juicy dark berries.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Rockpile Westphall Ridge Vineyard Zinfandel ($37)
    I got a bit of a meaty edge to the nose of this wine… but the flavours were all about the dark berry fruit along with licorice. Wow – a very tasty Zin.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Rockpile Cemetary Vineyard Zinfandel ($39)
    This is a bit of a monster – it’s got all the beautiful dark Zinfandel fruit, but with layers of complexity and a load of tannins on the finish. This is the one I tasted that could sit in your cellar for a while. Very, very good.
    4.5 stars

There were a few other wineries I would have liked to have visited on Saturday, but quality should always win out over quantity. I would whole-heartedly recommend visits to both wineries. The folks manning the tasting rooms were unbelievably friendly and the wines… well, there wasn’t a dud in the bunch. Check them out. Your taste buds will thank you.

2 comments

2007 Paolo Scavino Rosso Vino da Tavola

Paolo Scavino is known as a producer of great Piemontese single vineyard Barolos. What we don’t often see over on this side of the pond are the other, more everyday wines he produces such as this Vino da Tavola. The reason for the generic name is that it’s a blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto and  Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m not 100% sure of the percentages of each, but it all adds up to a pretty tasty bottle of the juice.

It’s deep ruby-red in colour and its nose gives up dark cherry, mocha, violets and earth. The flavours? Well, I got black cherry,  black pepper and a rustic earthiness. That leads out to a medium-length finish showing ripe dark fruit with smooth tannins. Nice stuff.

All in all, it’s not the best $35 bottle of wine I’ve had recently, but I did really enjoy it (enough that I bought a second bottle to have sometime soon).

$35 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars

No 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

1999 R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, S.A. Viña Gravonia Crianza (White)

09262009I’ll start with a simple statement. I love this wine. It’s a wine geek’s wine – all funky “I don’t know what I’m really smelling here” on the nose and then full, fresh fruit and an insane finish when you take a sip.

Seriously though. When I took my first whiff of this wine, my first thought was varnish…  and maybe cracked almond shells or liqueur. That made the first sip even more surprising. Even with a touch of that Frangelico liqueur going on, it had fresh squeezed tangerine and lychee fruit. The finish builds on that and goes out with almond, citrus and a mineral-edged herbal marathon that lasts for minutes.

It’s 100% Viura and is aged in American oak barrels for 4 years before being aged an additional 4 years in the bottle before being released. This is Old World wine done in a uniquely Old World way. God bless them for it too. If you’ve never had a white Rioja and are intrigued by a wine with some age, you really need to seek this one out.

One note if you do buy this wine. Don’t chill it much. This is the type of white that is best served slightly chilled… and by slightly I mean just below room temperature. Don’t leave this in the fridge for long at all.

Shea, from JustGrapesWine.com was with me when I grabbed this and bought the 1989 vintage. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say about it.

$35 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 1/2 stars

1 comment

1999 Lopez de Heredia “Vina Tondonia” Reserva, Rioja

06022009I’ve always enjoyed seeking out things off the path. As a youth, I took great delight digging through the “bins” at the front of the record store (yes records) I worked at to find a gem that had been overlooked. Finding this wine reminded me of this.

1999. That grabbed me off the bat, but a nice Rioja at 30% off at the back of the store. Sold. This one is 75% tempranillo, 15% garnacha and 5% each of graciano and mazuel. from a family winery founded in 1877.

The other night I popped it open and decanted it. The wine was a nice garnet color with some enticing tawny hints at the edges. Great start! After a nice dinner it was time to dive in.

The nose had a nice blend of sweet spices and red fruit. Lots of cedar and anise with some light cherry and a noticeable felt tip marker edge. Interesting. A few post dinner swirls and slurps brought out more cherry and some plum to a medium body that I was glad I left until after eating. The finish was really interesting, more nice spice with some tobacco and really firm tannins and acidity. I found myself liking the finish more and more, looking forward to each sniff followed by some pretty serious tartness on the finish. This was a really cool bottle.

Even after 3 hours in the decanter, this wine certainly showed it has lots of years left in it. Kind of like finding David Bowie’s Low album in the bin for a couple of dollars way back when.

If you see it, dust it off and grab it!

$34 (regular $55) at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars

5 comments

2005 Stags’ Leap Petite Syrah, Napa Valley

A video run-down of our latest wine… turns out it’s a field blend of Petite Syrah, 8% Syrah, 4% Grenache and 2% Viognier vines, all of which are around 85 years old.

$34.99 USD on Maui.

4 1/2 stars

6 comments

2006 Klinker Brick Winery Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi

02072009I reviewed the 2005 vintage of this wine a couple of weeks ago and quite liked it. This one? Not so much.

Maybe it’s my palate this week, but I’m not liking it. The nose has a smoky-sweet BBQ sauce kinda thing going on. That pretty much tells you what’s happening. It’s like there was a fire near the vineyard and the smoke infused the grapes. It’s not working for me.

It’s like you’ve got a handful of crushed blackberries (sounds good so far) and then douse them with a generous dose of Jack Daniels BBQ sauce (OK, not sounding so good anymore). That’s followed up by a short and slightly hot (15.8% booze) and sour finish with not much going on in the middle. ‘Nuff said.

I’d say to give it a pass. Either search out the 2005, or another Zin in the price range.

$31.99 at Liberty Wine Cellars.

2.5 stars

4 comments

2005 Condado de Haza, Ribera del Duero Crianza

01192009This may be hitting the blog a bit late, but I’ve had a bunch of this wine over the last few months and have to get it up here. I even have to say that it was actually a bit of a mistake that this didn’t make my top wines of 2008 list. It should have been on there. It’s a kick-ass wine that I love. I just forgot to include it. It happens.

OK, wow. Every time I open a bottle of this wine, I wish I had 6 more to replace it. It’s just that good. There’s so much going on – dark cherry, blackberry, smoke, mineral, violets and coffee. All of these hit both the nose and the long-lasting, mineral-edged finish. It’s a smokin’ bottle of Tempranillo juice. The Wine Dictator gave it 93 points and rated it the #34 wine of 2008.

If you can find it, it’s also really worth buying a few to sit down for a while to see how it evolves with some age. I’m sure it will more than hold its own for years to come.

$31.99 at LDB stores here in BC (if you can find it).

4 1/2 stars

8 comments

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