Archive for the '4.5 stars' Category

2005 Movia Ribolla Gialla, Brda

06152009This bottle comes from a winery which has been in one family’s hands – the Kristancic family – since 1820. Its estate straddles the Italian and Slovenian appellations of Collio (in Italy) and Brda (in Slovenia). 20 acres are on the Italian side and 18 acres on the Slovenian side (thanks to Alder over at for digging up these facts).

When I was in Italy last year, I had the luck to taste some truly unique wines from the Friuli area, which is near this wine’s home. This little beauty brings back some great wine memories and reminds me of how unique some of the flavours of the area were.

The Movia winery is now run by Ales Kristancic who Decanter Magazine described as having “the creativity of Andre Ostertag, the energy of Angelo Gaja and the dedication of Willi Brundlemayer plus inherited flair and determination.” That’s some pretty heady company.

He’s been using full biodynamic production for the last 20 years and you can taste the character and care in the glass from the indigenous Ribolla Gialla grape. This is wine with a sense of place.

It’s a wine geek’s wine. It’s pretty much unlike anything else out there and is drop-dead sexy. The nose is totally unique. It’s got light melon, mineral and vanilla spice going on… among other things. The flavours struck me as honey-buttered popcorn with a melon drizzle… and it’s tastier than that simplified description sounds. It finishes with an elegant crispness that shows this wine could age for a while.

~$40 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars here in Vancouver.

4 1/2 stars


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


2005 Ken Wright Cellars “Angela” Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton District AVA

05022009What can I say about this wine? Well, here we go: Holy crap! This is a bloody tasty bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir. I’ve been looking for a bottle to blow me away lately. I’ve had some good wines… but nothing with that “Wow” factor. This bottle, from 300 cases produced, did that… effortlessly.

I picked it up last year at one of my favourite wine shops, Vinopolis in Portland on sale for ~$45 and brought it home to my little cellar. It’s from the Yamhill-Carlton AVA Ditrict south of Portland – an area that turns out many of the Pinots that have really grabbed my attention over the last few years. It’s also made by Ken Wright Cellars. They’re a winery that’s based in Carlton and have been on my radar for a while now. This is the first wine of theirs that I’ve had in my glass. It won’t be the last.

Wow. This is pure hedonism in  glass. It’s unfined and unfiltered and is a slightly cloudy dark raspberry red in the glass. It has a beautiful nose of ripe raspberry and what I would best describe as a cedar forest earthiness. A sip is when this wine  really lets you know what’s going on. There’s an “I just licked raspberries off a cedar plank” thing going on – it literally smacks your taste buds with a bunch of ripe raspberry juice, a bit of citrus, herbs and an earthy cedar edge.

Is it good? Do you really need to ask? Seriously. OK… YES, it’s bloody wonderful.

Get some if you’re lucky enough to find it.

~$45 at Vinopolis in Portland last year.

4 1/2 stars


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

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Quinta Vale D. Maria Reserve Porto Lote 06

04222009Wow. Mmm… Port. It’s one of those things you either love right away, or come to love after learning about it and tasting multiple bottles. Fortunately, I loved Port the second I tasted it years ago – I have a sweet tooth and a love for big reds. That helps. I tasted this one at the Vancouver Wine Fest a while back and a recent craving led to it recently being popped open.

The QVDM Reserve Port was bottled unfined and unfiltered, as winemaker/owner Cristiano van Zellar’s personal reserve. It’s produced from single vineyard Douro grapes – a blend of Tinta Amarela, Rufete, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, Touriga Nacional and Sousão – and is crushed by foot (I hope they washed) before being aged for 2 years in old wood vats. It’s bottled only once every year, on the date shown on the label. In this case, that would be 2006.

This is a wine that would pair very well with a lot more than dark cocolate (check – I loved it): try blue and hard, flavorful cheeses, as well as dark chocolate-based desserts. I’m getting hungry just writing this.

Because it’s unfiltered and unfined, be careful when pouring this wine. There’s a lot of sediment in the bottle. You want the wine, not the sludgey stuff.

So, what did I think? Well, it’s a bloody tasty Port for the money. It’s got a lot of the character of a Vintage Port, without the price tag. The nose shows ripe blackberry, black tea and dark chocolate. A sip gives up a bunch of ripe and juicy blackberry along with the dark chocolate and a finish that has that black tea edge.

Is it good? Hell yeah. It’s very good. If you love the Port and can find it, you won’t be disappointed.

~$30 CDN if you can find it.

4 1/2 stars


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


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


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


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


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