Archive for the '4.5 stars' Category

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

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

2003 G.D. Vajra Kyè Freisa, Langhe

09192009This is a wine that knocked my wine geek senses out of the park. I was down in Portland last weekend and wandered into the local wine geeks’ paradise, Vinopolis. I picked out 5 bottles of Oregon Pinot to bring back home and then asked the shop’s on-shift wine guy to pick the coolest bottle of the wine in the store in the under-$45 range. He immediately made his way to the back of the store to the Italian section and grabbed this wine.

Anyone who has ever read this site knows I’m a huge Nebbiolo fan, especially in its Barolo and Barbaresco forms… and Freisa is Nebbiolo’s genetic father, so it’s to be expected that you’ll have to get ready for your tar and roses fix… though rumour has it that Freisa has a more refreshing approach with its flavours.

With an initial whiff, I could have sworn that it was a gorgeous example of a Langhe Nebbiolo wine. Even though it comes from the very warm 2003 vintage, the wine has an extremely complex and sexy nose – all of that already-mentioned tar and rose petals mix, along with the Barolo/Barbaresco-like walnut and cherry brandy. It just smells so good.

A sip really shows what this wine has to offer. It slips into another gear. Wow. It’s like a Langhe Nebbiolo on steroids. More Barolo-like than anything. It’s not as raw as a Barbaresco. It has the gentle, sexy fruit of a good Barolo with softer tannins. That could come from the warmth of the vintage, but this is one of the better 2003 Langhe wines I’ve tasted. Again – wow.

The everlasting finish is full of walnut and cherry liqueur followed up with a long-lasting floral-edged (think violets) finish… very tar-like, but much better than you might be thinking. This is a complex and wonderful bottle of wine. If you come across it and are a Piedmont fan, you have to give it a try.

Trust me.

$39 USD at Vinopolis in Portland, OR.

4 1/2 stars

No comments

Brown Estate Wine Dinner – 2007 Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 Chaos Theory & 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

On Saturday night Shea and I headed out to Graham and Leah’s place in the ‘burbs with our better halves to cook up our much-anticipated Brown Estate wine dinner. When we visited the Browns back in July while we were in Sonoma and Napa for the Wine Bloggers’ Conference, Deneen and Coral by-passed awesome and went straight to best ever by giving the three us a great tour, taking us through a tasting of pretty much every wine they had on the property (paired with Coral’s selection of cheeses), giving us a tour of their cave along with tastes straight from the barrels and then topped it all off by handing us 4 bottles of wine to take along as we were headed out.

We told them we would get together and share the 4 wines over dinner. So, the past couple of weeks saw a flurry of emails go back and forth as we decided what would be served with each wine. We settled on a couple of nice cheeses from Les Amis du Fromage here in Vancouver with the Chardonnay, lamb kebabs with the 2001 Cabernet, freshly made pizzas with the 2006 Chaos Theory and finally some delicious tenderloin steaks with the 2004 Cabernet. I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed food and wine more than I did last Saturday.

OK, so the first wine out of the gate was the 2007 Napa Valley Chardonnay. Shea had brought along a couple of cheeses from Les Amis du Fromage that paired beautifully. They each brought out different flavours in the Chardonnay. If you can find it, buy this wine. It’s a gorgeous bottle of Napa Valley Chardonnay that also shows some of the crispness and complexity of a white Burgundy. Wow. Have a look.

$48 USD at the winery.

4 1/2 stars

The 2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (signed by the winemaker, David Brown) was up next. Graham had BBQ’d up some incredibly tasty lamb kebabs to have with the wine. The pairing really worked . The wine had gorgeous round berry and dark cherry fruit that showed a slightly stewed edge to the fruit (very slight) with its age. It was an amazing bottle – and thinking back, possibly my favourite of the night.

Price N/A.

4 1/2 stars

Next up was the 2006 Napa Valley Chaos Theory Cabernet-Zinfandel Blend. I can’t track down the exact percentages in this blend, but WOW, it adds up to a gorgeous bottle of wine. There’s the briary dark fruit from the Zin, with the dark and tannicly fruity edge of the Cab. It’s complex, gorgeous and incredibly fun to sip. It’ simply delicious.

We paired the Chaos Theory with a handmade pizza made up of freshly grilled veggies, a sauce I made when I got out to Graham’s (tomatoes, smoked tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, cracked chilis and freshly ground pepper), mozzarella cheese with a bit of crumbled feta cheese and black pepper.

$45 USD at the winery.

4 1/2 stars

… and finally,  we had the the 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with grilled tenderloin steaks. Wow, this worked. Thanks to Graham’s deft work on the grill, the meat was incredibly tender – cut with a fork tender. It was simply spiced with a brushing of olive oil (from Napa’s Spring Mountain Vineyards – thanks Ted!), freshly ground pepper and coarse salt.

It was incredible with its youthful tannins, cracked pepper sprinkled blackberry and dark currant flavours. It had a finish that went on as long as we wanted and left us longing for more. Like the others, it was a beautiful bottle of wine.

$65 USD at the winery.

4 1/2 stars

The evening was exactly what we wanted it to be, helped along by wines that were simply unforgettable – as much for their quality as our new-found attachment to the place. Brown Estate Winery is a special place, made so by the family that owns and nurtures it. We all felt a special attachment when we visited and can only hope that if you head down to Napa, you give them a call, drop by and have as much fun as we did.

2 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

2005 Erich Salomon/Undhof Grüner Veltliner Reserve, Lindberg

Last Friday afternoon, I visited Clinton Kabler over at D3 Security to talk a little bit about business and a lot about wine for his 10th episode of D3TV. Have a look.

The wine rocked. It was definitely one I’ll pick up again some time in the next little while.

$36.90 at Marquis Wine Cellars here in Vancouver.

4 1/2 stars

2 comments

Video review of the 2007 Orin Swift Saldo Zinfandel

While Graham and I were down at the 2009 Wine Bloggers’ Conference, we took some time after tasting wine all day on Saturday to sit down with Shea from JustGrapesWine.com and try this wine. As you’ll see, we liked it.

$26.99 at the Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa.

4 1/2 stars

2 comments

2006 Seghesio “Rockpile” Dry Creek Zinfandel

07062009I picked it up at K & L Wines in San Fran back in January while Graham and I were down there for ZAP. It’s a refined big big boy of a Zin. Its nose is a heady mix of blackberry jam, black licorice and pepper spice along with a bit of heat from the 15.6% booze. A sip lets loose a big mouthful of ripe blackberries along with the spice the nose hinted at and leads to a long mineral-edged finish.

To me, this is like the bigger brother of the 2007 Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel everyone (including me) made all the fuss over back when Wine Spectator’s Top 100 listed it as the #10 wine of the 2008. Yes, it’s good.

Zin fans who like a bit of refinement with their ripeness should check it out. I’m glad I did.

$29 at K & L Wines in SF – $49.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

No comments

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