Archive for the '$41 – 45' Category

2006 Mauro Veglio Langhe Nebbiolo “Angelo”

I’ve been looking for this Nebbiolo since Candace and I had it at the now-closed L’Altro Buca in Vancouver’s West End last year. Well, it seems that the fine folks at Kitsilano Wine Cellars have finally decided to stock it. I wandered in there  last week and was pretty bloody happy to see it on the shelves.

The nose is really sexy. There’s ripe berry fruit along with a walnut liqueur edge. A sip really shows the seductive side of this wine. The full body opens up with ripe strawberry, ripe black cherry and a walnut liqueur. It’s just what I remembered and reminded me why I had been trying to find it.

So good.

$41 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars here in Vancouver.

4    1/2 stars

2 comments

Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival – Return to the French Classics Dinner at The Hermitage

This dinner at The Hermitage featuring the wines of Domaine Doudet Naudin was the first of two events I received invites to as part of my Media pass for the 2010 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. Classic French food paired with extremely food-friendly Burgundy wine – what’s not to like? Nothing as far as I was concerned.

I hadn’t been into The Hermitage before last night. It’s a cozy place that is what you’d expect of an old-school French restaurant with a dose of 70’s living room tossed in – decorative brick arches, flowered curtains and all… but it worked. The room was comfortable and many of the folks in attendance last night were regulars who seemed to be on a first-name basis with the Hermitage’s owner, Hervé Martin. He creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

I grabbed a seat at the table reserved for media types and started chatting with the folks seated there, including Julie Pegg (contributing editor for EAT Magazine), Kelly Robson (wine writer for Chatelaine Magazine & her Full Bodied wine blog) and a couple of non wine geeks, Arnaud and Bobby. Soon enough, the dinner kicked off with a chat from the event’s sponsor, Rare Finds Wine Importers LTD and we were off. Here’s a scan of what was ahead. My mouth and palate were watering.

While we waited for the first course, we sipped the 2007 Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune, Château d’Antigny ($27.95 – 4 stars). It was the perfect palate cleanser – all flinty lemon with a puckering acidity that just begged for some food. Up next was possibly my favourite pairing of the night – the wild mushroom feuilletté with a veal and port reduction paired with the close to magical 2006 Savigny-Les-Beaune en Redrescul, 1er Cru ($45.95 – 4.5 stars). A white with a sauced mushroom dish? Yep, this white – and it was fantastic. It reminded me a lot of the Tissot Jura Chardonnays I tried a few months ago. It had a dill-like funkiness that really added to its powerful and earthy flavours. It was complex and delicious. Try some if you can find it.

After that, it was onto a delicate salmon fillet with a creamy sorrel sauce ‘troisgros’ paired with the last Chardonnay of the evening; the 2007 Pernand-Vergelesses Sous-Fretille, 1er Cru ($49.95 – 4.5 stars). It was another great wine-food pairing. The delicate flavour of the salmon helped highlight the crisp elegance of the wine. Delicious.

Next up was a delicious house-made duck sausage with pistachio purée of Jerusalem artichokes paried with a delicious and light and 2007 Gevrey-Chambertin ($56.95 – 4.5 stars). This is the kind of pairing that really helps explain the earthy French Pinot Noir food pairing magic. You taste each separately and they’re good, but it’s together that they really sing. The light red fruit and crisp tannins of the wine perfectly balanced the fat and earthy meat flavours of the duck sausage.

We weren’t done yet… the kitchen then served the beef tenderloin medallions and the 2003 Savigny-Les-Beaune Les Vergelesses, 1er Cru ($42.95 – 4.5 stars). The meat was fantastic and the wine really grabbed my taste buds. It had gorgeous dark cherry and plum fruit along with a floral and black pepper edge to its earthy finish. Wow. Another great pairing, by the way.

The last food/wine pairing of the evening was a selection of French cheeses with the 2000 Aloxe Corton Les Marechaudes, 1er Cru ($56.95 – 4.5 stars). I loved the earthy elegance of the wine, but this was the only pairing of the evening that didn’t click. I separated them – downing the cheeses and then savouring the wine.

A delicious vanilla syrup soaked rum baba rounded things off and left me wanting a walk to wear off the meal. All in all, Hervé Martin and his team did a heckuva’ job with the food choices and the wines really stepped up as well.

I left determined to drink more wines from Burgundy. That’s never a bad thing.

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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

André & Mireille Tissot Crémant du Jura, NV

11042009After reading and hearing about wines from France’s smallest wine region (it totals ~1,600 hectacres), I’ve been on the lookout for any of the wines from Jura around town. This sparkling blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is the first wine from there that I’ve found.

The Jura region is located in Western France, between Burgundy and Switzerland. There are four regional appellations: Arbois, Côtes du Jura and the smaller Etoile and Château-Chalon, plus two wine style appellations that cover the whole area, Crémant du Jura and Macvin (a Vin de Liqueur).

Basically, five grape varieties make up their wines. For whites there’s Chardonnay and Savagnin – sometimes called by its old name, Naturé and Trousseau Gris. For reds, there’s Poulsard (also called Ploussard), Trousseau Noir and Pinot Noir. I could go on, but a further exploration calls for more of their wines… and I just have this tasty bio-dynamically farmed bottle of sparkling wine.

So, let’s get down to it. To me, this wine has a lot in common with decent Champagne. It’s got a nose that has a schwack of toast, pear, strawberry, honey and citrus. A sip gives up a concentrated dose of fine bubbles that give way to berry and melon fruit followed up by a long honey and grapefruit-like citrus to its crisp pear-edged finish.

It’s really tasty – better than I thought it may be, in fact.

If you like the bubbly and want to try something new, I’d say you should give this wine a try. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

$43 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars
(verging on 4.5)

5 comments

2008 M. Lapierre Morgon

11032009Oh my. Because of the whole Beaujolias Nouveau thing, I’ve avoided wines from Beaujolias for years. What the Hell was I thinking?? If many of them taste like this, I’ve been missing out. I’m sure I have.

What can I say? This wine rocks. It’s hitting all the right notes with the food I’m having (grilled pork) and is making me want to explore the region with my palate.

Marcel Lapierre is known as one of the most influential vigneron of the region and, according to Jake and Kurtis over at Cherries & Clay, he… “farms 11 hectares biodynamically in Morgon and owns some of the most impeccably tended vineyards anywhere.”

A nose of brambly red berry/cherry fruit shows up as gorgeous red candy with a finish that’s all bright red ripe cherry and cracked pepper when sipped. It’s the kind of wine that you just want to sip again and again… and what does that add up to? A bloody good wine – a pretty one, even. Pretty sexy that is (that might be my “Movember” mustache talking).

If you like wine, you need to try this bottle. ‘Nuff said.

$44 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 1/2 stars

4 comments

2004 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco

10302009Here’s a producer whose wines I’ve been meaning to try for a while now. I drove by the winery a few times while I was in Piedmont last year, but didn’t drop in. They’re known as the “the best co-operative in the wine world“, are said to be the main reason why Barbaresco became a separate D.O.C. from Barolo… and being from my favourite wine region, who am I to argue that? They receive grapes from some of the best areas in Barbaresco such as Asili, Moccagatta, Montefico, Montestefano, Ovello, Pajé, Pora, Rabajà and Rio Sordo. So what better place to finally get to trying one of their wines than my living room? :)

According to the Wine Spectator, the “cooperative has always paid its members according to the quality of their crop rather than just the quantity. And that’s why it consistently makes outstanding Barbarescos.

I picked this up for what I think is a good price for a quality Barbaresco – around $40 CDN. How would I describe it? The first word that comes to mind is “delicate”. The colour is light and a bright brick-ish red. It literally feels delicate in the mouth – and that’s not a bad thing.

The nose belies that. It has light ripe cherry brandy, nuts, tar and a floral rose thing going on. A taste follows along that line with a medium-weight mouth-feel that finishes with a long walnut/cherry/mineral-edge.

I love this kind of wine, so I’m going to give it a good rating. It has gorgeous flavours that stay with you and it’s extremely good value for the money.

Give it a try if you find it. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

$43.01 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

4 comments

2004 L’Azienda Agricola Renato Fenocchio “Aurora”, Langhe Rosso

10142009This wine has been my go-to secret for a while now. Via Kitsilano Wine Cellars, I was able to get my hands on 6 bottles of it a while back… and I savoured every one of them. Candace and I have had it many times and also shared a bottle with Graham – making him want to find more of it as badly as I did.

It’s a hard-to-find (until now – I’ll get to that in a minute) blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera from the town of Nieve in my favourite wine region, the Langhe in Piedmont. It’s named for winemaker Renato’s daughter, Aurora and I think it’s even some of her young artwork that decorates the label.

I’m not 100% sure of the blend, but I think it’s mostly Nebbiolo with a dash of Barbera to spice things up. Now when I said it was my secret go-to wine, it was because you just couldn’t find this wine in town until last week – Kitsilano Wine Cellars received a shipment of ~ 10 cases. Now you and I can quaff this to our heart’s content.

In the glass, it’s got a classic light Barbaresco-like nose of dark cherry brandy, cinammon spice, nuts (think walnut) and a perfumed violet-edge to its tar scented finish. There’s even some of my felt tip marker in there. A big ‘ol sip gives up ripe red cherries, a kinda’ walnut liqueur thing going on and a long spicy finish.

2004 was a great year in the Langhe and this is a wine to try. It offers up a lot for the money. Most really tasty wines from the area run over $50 (at least) in our local stores. Kudos to the guys at Farmstead Wines for picking this one to bring in. In keeping with their standards, the grapes that make up Fenocchio’s wines are naturally farmed.

On their site, they point out that, “Not only do they have some of the best vineyards in the Barbaresco region, including parcels adjacent to Angelo Gaja’s, the family does all of the work themselves by hand… Renato and his wife Milva spend a ridiculous amount of time in their vineyards. In fact, their grapes are so good that they often sell excess to Bruno Giacosa.” I have to agree. These are some seriously tasty grapes, especially for the money.

$45 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 1/2 stars

5 comments

2000 Moët & Chandon Brut Rosé Champagne Grand Vintage

04272009I’ve been a little slow on the posts lately – life gets in the way sometimes. What I do have is a schwack of notes from wines I’ve been tasting, so I’ll try to get those on the site over the next couple of weeks.

This bottle is one I opened this to quaff as an aperitif back in March on my birthday before heading out for dinner with Candace. These are some tasty bubbles, folks! It’s a blend of 39% Chardonnay, 41% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier that more than hints at the quality of its big brother, the Dom Perignon Rosé.

In the glass, it’s got a beautiful light pink colour, with a lot of those fine-Champagne bubbles going on. A sniff shows strawberry and ripe cherry fruit with a splash of lemon and melon on grass. Along with all those tiny bubbles (cue Don Ho), there’s a generous dash of ripe strawberry with a splash of lemon that leads to a long mineral-laced finish.

This was a really enjoyable bottle of bubbly. Give it a try if you can find it.

Found for $45 CDN marked down at a LDB store here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

No comments

2005 Neyers Vineyards Zinfandel, High Valley Vineyards, Napa Valley

04082009You all know I like a good Zinfandel, so when Marquis Wine Cellars – the shop with Vancouver’s best selection of Zins – sent out a recent newsletter touting the Neyers Tofanelli and High Valley Zins, I had to pay them a visit. We’re just putting together some homemade pizza, so I figured there’s no time like the present to crack it open and give it a taste.

Wow… what a nose. The initial whiff gives up a big bunch of crushed dark plum, black cherry and a cool spicy edge. Sounds good, right? Well, a sip is even better. It explodes with all that dark plum and cherry fruit and leads into a balanced, spicy and finely tannic finish that lasts a minute. Did I like it? Hell yeah.

It’s funny. This wine really shows how subjective wine reviews can be. I checked with the Wine Dictator and they gave it a lowly 82-point rating, calling it “Lean and a bit austere…“. On the Neyers web site, the other end of the scale is shown in a 91-point rating and glowing review from Robert Parker. Here’s what he had to say: “Displaying both elegance and power, this beauty can be drunk over the next 5-7 years.” I’m going to side with RP on this one.

If you’re a Zin fan and can find it, I would highly recommend this wine.

$42.90 at Marquis Wine Cellars.

4 1/2 stars

4 comments

1996 Remoissenet Père & Fils Mercurey, Clos Fortoul

01082009I love it when I stumble across something like this. I’m a big Pinot guy and don’t often get to taste anything more than a few years old… so when I found this from a very good vintage in Burgundy in a LDB store in downtown Vancouver, I had to pick it up.

My philosophy when it comes to tasting wine is “there’s no time like the present“, so when I came home tonight, I thought I’d pop the (slightly crumbling) cork.

Wow. When I first took a big sniffy-sniff (thanks Gary), what struck me was how its nose was very similar to a much younger Pinot. It’s still so young and vibrant.

In the glass (a Reidel Burgundy) the wine is a very light red with an orange-ish colour on the edge – and that’s pretty much the only hint at its age.  The nose has soft ripe cherry, orange and earthy spice. Who can resist that? A sip gave up strawberry jam, cherry cola and a mineral and citrus-edged finish that lasts right up to the next sip. Yum.

As you might have guessed by now, I really like this. It could have been the week I’ve had, but I’m thinking that it just simply hits the spot. I’m digging it.

$44.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

7 comments

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