Archive for the 'over $50' Category

1999 H. Billiot Millésime Champagne

01022008.jpgMy only superstition when it comes to New Year’s Eve is that I like to be drinking something bubbly and really good when the clock strikes 12. Last year, I started 2007 sipping the H. Billiot Brut Réserve Grand Cru à Ambonnay NV and I thought the 1999 vintage wine from the same grower would be a good move for 2008.

Holy crap, was I right… It was golden in colour colour with lotsa’ beautiful bubbles. The nose showed a bunch of apple, pear, peach fruit with a yummy biscuit edge. How can you not love that? The first thing I thought when I tasted it was “apple pie”. There were definitely baked apples going on, along with some peach, honey and ginger spice. Its full body made it feel creamy in the mouth and the goodness went on for minutes.

This was an incredibly sexy bottle of Champagne. If you love Champagne and can find it, I’d completely recommend you pick a bottle up, fondle it and take one home.

$92 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars here in Vancouver.

4 1/2 stars

1 comment

1997 Peter Lehmann Mentor, Barossa Valley

12172007.jpgOK, can I just start this post off by saying, “Wow”? A couple of posts back I said that I needed a wine with the “wow” factor – something that just made me step back and really indulge in a beautiful wine experience.

My favourite wine partner, Rachel arrived back in Vancouver Saturday night from Italy, so I really wanted to open a tasty bottle. The choice was this phenomenal bottle (a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Malbec, 12% Shiraz and 11% Merlot). I picked it up last week from the display of 1997 wines at the main LDB store on Cambie Street.

On opening, it was immediately approachable with brown sugar, black currant and a ripe, mellow prune edge. Its flavours built with each sip – the silky dark currant and berry fruit with a sexy chocolate edge… and a finish that lasted for minutes.

Wine Spectator gave it a 91 point rating a while back and I have to say that for what this wine gave up, that seems a bit low.

Gorgeous stuff. This is a “wow” bottle.

$53 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

1 comment

1997 Louis Jadot Beaune 1er Cru Theurons

12092007.jpgYesterday, I talked with my wine geek buddy, Graham and told him that I needed to have a wine that blew me away. Although I’ve had a few really good bottles lately, nothing has had that “wow” factor… So, when I walked into the main LDB branch here in Vancouver tonight and saw a promo section of wines from 1997 (seriously, go check it out), I got all worked up. I picked up a few bottles and headed home… deciding what I’d open.

Now that the bottle’s been open for a while, I’ve noticed a few things:

  • it’s still young; it looks and tastes more like a 2003 than a 1997… that’s pretty bloody cool
  • it’s got layers going on in both the nose and in its flavours
  • it’s pretty damn tasty

I don’t know if this is what I had in mind when I was looking for that mind-blowing wine, but it’s kinda’ knocking me out nonetheless. The colour is still vibrant… as is the nose. It gives up a bunch of earthy cherry, licorice, citrus and herbs. A big ‘ol sip tastes of bright cherry, orange peel, a bunch of spice (think lavender and even floral stuff like violets) and a still-serious bunch of tannins.

I really like this wine… It’s not quite the yank-my-pants-off bunch of liquid fun I was looking for – it’s more of a contemplative wine. Sit, sip and think.

If you want to try a Burgundy with some age on it here in Vancouver, grab it before it’s gone.

$62 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

No comments

Cattier Chigny-les-Roses, Premier Cru NV Brut Champagne

12062007.jpgIt’s Wednesday, so you know what that means?.. Champagne o’clock. OK, so that doesn’t happen all that often, but it’s what I felt like tonight. I paid visit to Kitsilano Wine Cellars searching for a cool bubbly (they’ve got a bunch) and this is what I carried out.

It’s a classic Champagne blend of 75% Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and 25% Chardonnay. In the glass it’s a very light pale straw yellow and has a lightly honeyed nose with a bit of citrus and a floral edge. A sparkly sip gives up apple, pear, lemon and peach fruit with a mineral and lightly bready finish that lasts a while.

It didn’t knock me out, but it is bloody tasty. I like a little more heft in a Champagne, but if you like it light and fresh, this’ll do the trick.

$51 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars

No comments

Some Champage for the holidays

11302007.jpgOK, it’s getting to be the time of the year at which wine sites like this start offering up their ideas for your holiday booze purchases. Now the first wine that comes to mind when it’s time to celebrate (or when it’s a Wednesday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, etc.) is Champagne… and one of the best bottles I’ve had in the past year is the H. Billiot Brut Réserve Grand Cru à Ambonnay NV.

I revisited this last weekend (thanks Mike!) and am definitely going to pick up another bottle some time soon. If you’re looking for something bubbly and unbelievably tasty, give it a go.

Check out my review from earlier this year.

Sexy stuff!

~ $73 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars. 

No comments

2005 Rosenblum Rockpile Road Vineyard Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley

11122007.jpgLast week, after buying my plane ticket for ZAP in January, I was in the mood for a really good Zinfandel. Rosenblum has long been a great maker of Zins and it’s only been in the last little while that their better ones have made their way into our LDB stores here in British Columbia. The one thing they bring with them is a more than healthy dollop of Provincial and Federal tax heaped on top of their original price tag. This wine normally sells for ~ $35 USD South of the border, but retails for a heavy $65 here in BC…. and this is at a time when our dollar is worth well over $1.00 US.

OK, enough of that for the moment. Onto the wine.

In the glass, it’s a deep and dark red. The nose is all dark berry and cherry syrup, with an edge of chocolate and red licorice. A slurp reveals a mouthful of condensed dark berry juice, followed by some spice and a long dark chocolate-edged finish. There’s not a lot of tannin here… so the wine seems to lack some structure, but it IS bloody tasty.

$64.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

Now onto the rating… normally, a wine I enjoyed this much would earn 4.5 stars, but because of its inflated price, it only gets 4. For the US price, I’d toss it the 4.5, so you Zin fans in the good ‘ol US of A should definitely pick up a bottle.

4 stars

No comments

Wine – A tale of two Oregon Pinots… 2005 Sineann Pinot Noir & 2005 Cancilla Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

So what do a couple of wine geeks do when their significant others are away? Drink the good stuff of course. The odd bottle or two examined in geekdom is a blissful way to compensate for their respective absences.

So, Sean arrived with a marinated lamb shoulder (garlic, cumin, rosemary and Amelia Olive Oil) and a bottle of Oregon Pinot. My “buy-in” was also an Oregon Pinot. The 2005 Sineann Pinot Noir to be specific.

First up was the Sineann and right from opening it was certainly an interesting start. The top was a regular Stelvin screw cap, however once I removed that there was a glass stopper embossed with the logo. Nice touch.

The wine itself was big muscular Pinot, the deep burgundy in color and 15% booze let us know right from the start that this one meant business. The nose was full of espresso and clove with some nice earth. Within our first couple of sips we agreed that the wine showed loads of blueberry and syrupy cassis. This wine had no problem standing up once we got into the lamb and grilled veg for dinner. The finish was viscous with more dark fruit with a bit of heat and beautiful tannins. A great start to say the least.

The follow up was the 2005 Cancilla Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir that Sean had picked up on his trip. This one was quite a contrast – brick red in the glass, the nose showed red fruit, nettles and some barnyard. The red fruit blossomed the longer it was opened.

As we relaxed after the fine meal, we noticed the gorgeous red currant and strawberry flavors with full rustic layers of earth due to the unfiltered character of the wine. The finish was long and lean with a nice acidity. All in all this was certainly the more complex of the two, but both were a fantastic way to spend a Friday.

Both wines were bought down in Oregon for ~ $30 – 40 USD.

4 stars
(for the Sineann)

4 1/2 stars
(for the Cancilla Cellars)

1 comment

Wine – 2004 Woodward Canyon Columbia Valley Syrah & 2004 L’Ecole No. 41 Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Syrah, Walla Walla Valley

Once in a while I have a night of food and wine that just makes it all click. One of those combinations would be lamb and Syrah… New World, Old World – it just works. Tonight we had lamb marinated with cumin, paprika, lemon and olive oil (Amelia Extra Virgin, of course!)… The combination of these 2 Washington Syrahs and the meat made me want to roll around on the table – it was a taste bud extravaganza.

09052007.jpgThe Woodward Canyon started the night off with a bang. It was a big bunch of extremely well-balanced vanilla-dipped dark fruit with a flowery violet edge and a finish that went on for a while. Even the 15.1% booze didn’t overpower the nose or flavour of the wine. I just wish we had more. This is a wine I could drink all the time.

We had visited both of these wineries on our Washington/Oregon wine trip a few months ago and brought these bottles back as part of our trip treasures. I’m surprised they had lasted this long. 🙂

09052007a.jpgThe L’Ecole was a bit of a different beast. On their back label, they say that “the Syrah was harvested ultra-ripe, resulting in a dark, massive and dense wine.” Yep. It had prune and spice on the nose, with cola, cherry and plum flavours making an appearance among the firm-as-steel tannins. It came across as a bit of a brute, though it went bloody well with the lamb.

Of the 2, my pick was the Woodward Canyon. It was just plain sexy and ready to drink now. Grab either of ’em if you can find them and feel like a great bottle of Washington State Syrah (and go grab some lamb to cook up with the wine!).

Price? Dunno – they both run in the $40 USD price range at the wineries.

4 1/2 stars

No comments

Wine – Larmandier-Bernier NV Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne Vertus

08092007.jpgFor the past while, Rachel’s been working like a fiend teaching, lecturing, marking and writing… so when it all wrapped up, the first thing we felt like doing was celebrating… and when I think “celebrate” no liquid matches that like Champagne. 🙂

I made a trip into Kitsilano Wine Cellars (they usually have a pretty rocking selection of bubbly) and was faced with a lot of choices. I almost went with the Henri Billiot I had at New Year’s, but I wanted to try something new.

It’s a classic Blanc de Blanc (100% Chardonnay) . I did really like it, but it just didn’t do it for me on the level some Champagnes I’ve had have done. I guess I prefer a bubbly made with more of the classic Chardonnay/Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier blend.

Its nose was beautiful – pear, lemon, mineral, toast and almond. Its flavours were an explosion of toasty, nutty pear with a finish that went on forever. All in all, a fantastic wine.

$76 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars

No comments

Wine – 2000 Mastroberardino Radici, Taurasi

06122007.jpgSweet mother of God, this is a good bottle of wine! Rachel introduced me to this a month or so ago. We had a bottle and I immediately wanted more.

It’s 100% Aglianico, a variety that has existed southern Italy for over 2,000 years. According to the wine’s fact sheet, “Mastroberardino’s single-vineyard Radici Taurasi made its debut in 1986. Named Radici (root), as a reference to the family’s 300-year winemaking history, this wine is the result of the Mastroberardino family’s careful study of Irpinia’s terroir over the years.

Apparently, they’ve figured it out. This is one of the best wines I’ve tried so far this year.

It was big, balanced, complex and memorable. The nose made me want to crawl into the glass… there was black cherry, dark berry, violets and earth. The follow-through in the mouth was even better. All the fruit from the nose was there along with a full-bodied, mineral-laced finish.

If you can find it and feel like a gorgeous wine treat, grab it, take it home, give it a few hours of air in a decanter and savour every sip.

Great stuff.

$55.23 in LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

3 comments

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