Archive for the 'over $50' Category
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
The other night I walked into Marquis Wine Cellars with an open mind – without any idea what I felt like sipping. Marquis is arguably the best shop in town to happen upon in that state of mind. Through their entrance to the right is an area piled with recent arrivals and staff picks. It was there that I found this wine.
This is my first Bandol, yet I’ve had all the grapes in the mix many time before… and why not start with a single vineyard wine from what is arguably the area’s best-known winery. What’s in the wine? Well, it can vary vintage to vintage, but it’s generally 70-80% Mourvèdre, which is rounded out with an equal blend of Grenache and Cinsault.
What’s it like? I loved the nose. It’s full of black pepper along with some burnt rubber (it fits better than you would think), ripe plum and dark berries. The flavours deliver on the promise of the nose. There’s so much going on with this wine – it’s so complex. There are layers of jammy dark fruit with a big backbone of black pepper and firm flinty tannins. Wow.
Drink it now or in 15 years. That’s your choice. It could certainly cellar for a while.
This summer, while Graham and I were at the 2010 version of the Wine Bloggers’ Conference, we spent some time hanging out with John Clerides, the owner of Vancouver’s killer wine shop, Marquis Wine Cellars. One of the days, John grabbed us and said something along the lines of, “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. Thanks, John!
He had been there the day before and wanted us to taste the wines that had grabbed his attention. So we did… and really liked them all. I grabbed a bottle (or 3) of each, so I’ll review them as I pop ’em open. This is the first of the reds that I’ve opened and, wow… it’s even better than I had remembered.
The nose has vanilla-tinged ripe dark red cherry/berry fruit with a floral cracked pepper edge. The flavours? Wow…. so much going on. The ripe cherry and blackberry fruit have a distinct bit of floral violet with a bit of coffee and black pepper in there too. The finish goes on and on – and on… leaving flavours of the fruit and pepper. The tannins are firm but soft; the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove.
Overall, the wine is very balanced and pretty exceptional. It can easily be stuck in your cellar (or closet) for the next 5 years and would only be better for it.
$48 USD at the winery.
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.No comments
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
Graham, Shea and I came across this bottle while visiting the Mazzocco Winery during 2009’s Wine Bloggers’ Conference. We dropped in and tasted everything they had on hand with their exceptionally friendly staff, before being offered a special tasting of a few of their Reserve wines. Having fallen in love with their wines at ZAP, we weren’t about to turn that chance down. The result? I thought they were all standouts, but this one really grabbed our interest (and money).
I forget the exact story of how this and their other Reserve wines came into being, but the story is something along the lines of “owner of the winery thinks he (Kenneth Carl), the winemaker (Antoine Favero) and the vineyard manager (Juan Rodriguez) should peek at how the current vintages were developing and select small amounts of what they thought were the best of what they found – and each of them would make their own blend”. The results are the Kenneth Carl Reserve, the Juan Rodriguez Reserve and the subject of this post – the Antoine Philippe Reserve.
It goes without saying that I was looking forward to popping the cork and savouring a few glasses. Graham had his in late 2009 – I enjoyed my bottle on the last night of my recent holiday.
I’ve never gotten this much from the nose on a Zin… there’s just SO much going on – I get maple-brown sugar, red licorice, brambles and so much ripe blackberry that my mouth started watering. It’s not overwhelming or boozy at all. The nose is surprisingly balanced for a wine with 16.2% ABV.
The flavours? My initial reaction was, “Wow.” It’s just so full and complex. Initially there’s a mouthful of ripe blackberries and plum fruit, which is then followed by an incredibly balanced mix of licorice, brown sugar (with that maple edge) and a lingering bit of violet on the velvety-tannic finish – which lasts minutes.
Graham had this to add:
“I too was taken in by the breadth of the nose on this wine. I found the beautiful fruit and sweetness on the nose balanced by some nice leather and floral notes. So appealing and elegant for a Zin of this magnitude.
It is completely mouth-filling with a nice dark plum backbone under the beautiful berries that mix over top. The real “wow” here is how this wine is concentrated and structured but not at all over the top or cloying in anyway. At 16.2% this is some seriously ripe fruit, but Antoine Favero has maintained an incredible finesse in this wine.”
How can you not love this wine?? Don’t like Zin? Try something this complex and balanced. It’s not just a Zinfandel. It’s a memorable and exceptional bottle of wine.
Only 100 cases were made.
$120 USD at the winery.
The Jura. I’ve already written about this fantastic area – and you can easily do some reading when you have the time. I’ve been on kick with the region lately, thanks to the folks at Kitsilano Wine Cellars here in Vancouver. They received an impressive selection of wines from the Tissot winery a few weeks ago and I’ve been trying to make my way through them one at a time.
The nose on this wine is really piquing my interest. The first thing that came to mind with my initial sniff – apart from the word, “Wow” – was slightly burned buttered popcorn. That’s exactly what I was smelling. Initially the flavours reflected that – like it had been liquefied and poured over a flinty stone before my sip.
10 minutes later, I’m getting vegetable stock on the nose, with a really approachable sweet citrus fruit edge to the flavours. With even more time, I’m starting to get warmed orange rind added to the nose… with candied orange peel going on in the flavours. Insane. I love it. It’s complex, yet forward and just plain fun at the same time. This is a swirl, sniff, taste, swirl, taste and smile wine. One that I want to last all night. I’m sure it would continue to change.
The truly remarkable thing about this wine is how alive the flavours are. It changes every five minutes. Essentially this is alive. Remember that conversation in “Sideways” when Virginia Madsen’s character explains why she loves wine? It went something like “… when you taste that wine, it tastes unlike it will at any other time. It’s alive and constantly changing.” The screenwriter was clearly thinking about wines like this. It evolves in the glass and decanter unlike many other white wines I’ve had; save for Tissot’s own 2006 “En Barberon” that I reviewed last month.
Shea over at Just Grapes Wine recently named this his #2 wine for the year. I can’t disagree with him. I’m thinking this will make my top 5 as well.
$65 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.
PS: If you’re going to take this wine home, just give it 20 minutes in the fridge – no more. It just needs to be slightly cooler than room temperature (if that) to let its dictionary of flavours loose.1 comment
Well now. I think we have a candidate for a top 5 wine of the year, at least in my books (or bytes in this case). This is one of the wines I brought back from my visit with Deneen and Coral Brown at Brown Estate Vineyards with Graham and Shea while we were attending the 2009 Wine Bloggers’ Conference. We all loved it then… and I’m liking it even better this time around.
The nose is insane. It’s a pure expression of Napa Zinfandel fruit. There’s a nettle edge to the brown sugar, allspice and straight-ahead ripe blackberry fruit. I just want to sit here and take sniff after sniff of my glass. I would if I didn’t know that the wine tastes even better than it smells.
Oh my God! The flavours. It’s like a beautifully balanced (even at 15.8% booze) Zinfandel concentrate. There’s so much going on. They start out with a burst of cranberry, rhubarb and ripe blackberry. The fruit blends seamlessly with vanilla, allspice, and a brown sugar-like edge to the LONG finish.
This is a seriously tasty bottle of wine. I dare any of you out there to taste it and not love it. I don’t think it can be done.
Thanks to Jake over at Cherries & Clay and Matt at Kitsilano Wine Cellars, I’ve been drinking some mighty fine grape juice from France’s Jura region in the last couple of weeks. It started with the Tissot non-vintage Crémant, carried on with their very (very!) tasty Trousseau along with their beautiful Rosé Crémant (check out what the folks at Kitsilano Wine Cellars had to say about it on Twitter). The latest one to make its way to my glass is this tremendous Chardonnay from the Côtes du Jura Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC).
The nose is very unique. I mean its unlike anything I had ever smelled in a white wine. I got sweet buttery melon and smoky popcorn with an herbal (dill?) earthy edge. The flavours are intense and again, very interesting, There’s a big burst of slightly sweet melon followed up by what I can only describe as pickled popcorn, especially when the wine is first opened. Have you ever had that powdered dill pickle flavouring for your popcorn?… I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but I’m getting some of those flavours. That powdered stuff is pretty crappy, but this wine isn’t.
The wine kept evolving. I decanted it and a couple of hours later the dill edge was pretty much gone, but other flavours emerged. Caramel, more melon, lanolin and a vegetal edge. Those flavours are followed by a balanced light citrus and mineral-edged finish – that went on for minutes. Seriously.
How simply can I put it? The taste is big and made me very happy. What more can I ask? It also made me think of what I would pair with it. A baked white fish with capers maybe?
If you live in Vancouver and are a wine fan, you really should make the trek to Kitsilano Wine Cellars to check out their selection of wines from Jura. If they’re all this good (and they seem to be – check out what Shea over at JustGrapesWine.com had to say about their Chardonnay “Les Graviers”), they won’t last long.
$65 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.
Wow, what a cool bottle of grape juice. First off, let’s talk about the grape. Along with Poulsard, Trousseau is the principle red wine grape of France’s Jura region. From what I can find, it’s also known as the Bastardo grape and makes a red wine fairly light in colour with a lot of fruit on the nose and definite complexity on the palate.
Now onto the wine. The grapes for it are grown in low-yielding vineyards in Jura’s Montigny-Les-Arsures and are taken through a bio-dynamic vineyard-to-bottle process by winemaker Stéphane Tissot, using no chemicals or synthetic pesticides.
I tasted it at Kitsilano Wine Cellars yesterday night and immediately grabbed a bottle to bring home. It didn’t last long. Like many of the unique bottles I buy, it was on my mind and I couldn’t resist for long. I popped it open tonight to sip while we made a 4 cheese macaroni.
In the glass it’s a light, but kinda’ rich red in colour – as if a young Cab had been watered down. You’d almost mistake it for a Burgundy – though for me, it’s more along the lines of a good Gamay from Beaujolais.
The nose gives a big whiff of ripe red berry fruit, along with black pepper and an earthy edge. Wow, it really comes alive with a sip. The flavours are a juicy mix of that almost candied ripe red berry fruit along with pepper and a rustic earthy edge. It finishes with nice acidity and fine tannins. It’s ready to drink now, though I’d be interested to see how it ages.
I loved it… and if you have a bit of the wine gee in you, I’m sure you will as well. To quote Shea from JustGrapesWine.com, “Man it’s so good – I could drink a case of this stuff.” I agree. Completely.
$58 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.