Archive for the 'French Wine' Category

1997 Remoissenet Père & Fils Renommée Bourgogne Blanc

04172009We don’t get much wine in Vancouver with more than a few years of age, so when I came across this reasonably-priced ’97 white Burgundy last night at Kitsilano Wine Cellars, I got a little giddy and grabbed it. Thanks to the Burgundy Wine Board’s tasting at the Terminal City Club last month, I’ve been drinking a lot of wine from their region… and well, I always have a healthy curiosity when it comes to French wine – I am a wine geek, after all.

I opened it tonight with some tuna… and wow. Tasty. It has a lemon yellow colour and is still very crisp and youthful, with lemon, green apple and a lip-smackingly flinty finish. There’s a bit of a honey and caramel edge to the flavours, but that’s its only nod to its 12 years of age. Very cool.

It’s a food wine. Open it with some fish/shellfish/chicken or cheese and enjoy. I think you’ll be pretty happy you did.

~$37 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars

3 comments

2006 Pierre Boniface Apremont (Savoie)

02182009This one came about by accident. I had just read Sean’s tweet (@vinifico) about the “Wine Century Club,” – the quest to taste said number of varietals, popped into the local liquor store and saw this on the sell-off rack. I asked the consultant and he said “it’s pretty much a wine geek kind of wine.” Well… it fit so I picked one up and I’m glad I did.

Apparently, Apremont is made in Savoie from the local Jacquere grape. It’s a pretty good find if you ask me. Subtle lime and pear with a bit of straw/grass with a few sniffs and swirls, it’s dry and stony on the palate with some more crisp tart green apple toward more mineral on the finish.

Interesting in a word, a really old world, rustic find. A different little wine that’s a pretty good value right now. I’d buy it again to have with some nice mild cheese and sliced green apples.

$16.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 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

2008 – My Favourites in Wine and Music

It’s the time of year that the “best of” lists make their appearances. Despite what some folks may say, these lists are pretty fun to put together and it’s always good to hear what others liked the most in the past year. What better thing to do on a snowy Saturday than to sit down and make my list? 🙂

Music and wine are a natural match. I’m a music freak/I’m a wine geek. Almost every memorable bottle of wine I’ve had over the years was drunk while music was playing. With that bond in mind, I thought for fun that I’d put together a list of my most memorable albums of the year and pair them with the wines I loved most in 2008 (in no particular order and based only on full bottle samples).

mgmt12000 Paitin Barbaresco, Sori Paitin paired with Oracular Spectacular” by MGMT
I’ll lead off with this one because they were both my top choices for the year. The wine was memorable in a way no other matched and the album still gets regular play. There’s more going on with both than you get at first taste or listen. They both just get better as you go. The wine was, in a word, stellar. The album had standout tracks such as “Time to Pretend”, “Kids” and “Electric Feel” – great stuff.

tvontheradio2001 Yalumba The Octavius, Barossa Old Vine Shiraz paired with Dear Science,” by TV on the Radio
What can I say about these two?.. This was what I popped open on my fortieth birthday and TV on the Radio have put out three of my favourite albums. Both have layers and layers and make you think as much as they are just plain good. The more you taste the wine, the more it comes alive – the same goes for the album. It requires multiple listens to worm its way into your consciousness… and I’m glad it did. Standout tracks include “Halfway Home”, “Golden Age” and “Dancing Choose”.

boniver2003 Russell Creek Winemakers Select Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley paired with For Emma, Forever Ago” by Bon Iver
This is one of my favourite Washington State wineries, owned by a cantankerous and interesting guy, Larry Krivoshein. I bought this wine at his tasting room in Walla Walla and really liked talking and tasting with him. Both the album and the wine are the work of solitary guys in relatively remote locations – Justin Vernon in a remote Wisconsin cabin during a cold winter and Larry down in Walla Walla (seriously, do the drive some time). Both of them doing it their way. In 2008 they both put out products worthy of praise and enjoyment. Standout tracks on the intimate and beautiful album are “Skinny Love”, “The Wolves (Act I And II)” and “Blindsided”.

m831997 Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico paired with Saturdays = Youth” by m83
Both the wine and the album had many layers… Hell, the wine was in the running for my wine of the year. Everyone who knows me knows that I love the Amarone.. and this is a helluva’ bottle of the Amarone. The wine was absolutely seductive – with raisins, plums, cherries, brandy and spice in its flavours. The album? Amazing. m83, aka Anthony Gonzalez, pulls off stuff you wouldn’t think anyone is trying these days. It’s symphonic in parts, with a sense of pop melody that leaves many of the songs in your head long after you’ve given it a listen. It’s also a “grower”, which is a good thing – it’s one of those albums you like more with each listen because you’re getting more from it. Strong stuff. I’d say it’s in my top 3 albums of the year. Tracks such as “Graveyard Girl”, “Kim & Jessie” and “Couleurs” help show why this album made my list.

elbow1999 H. Billiot Millésime Champagne paired with The Seldom Seen Kid” by Elbow
Classics… that’s what both of the wine and the album strike me as. The Billiot is amazing… and to me, is what a Champagne should be – toasty, complex and sexy, with an everlasting finish. The flavours were all about baked apples, along with some peach, honey and ginger spice. Onto the album – Elbow is one of those bands about whom I constantly marvel they’re not more popular. The singer, Guy Garver has an amazing voice that sounds like Peter Gabriel on a bender… and they consistently record strong albums. Great songs on the album are “Grounds For Divorce”, the cheery, hopeful and amazing “One Day Like This” and “The Fix” which just begs to open a British gangster film. I may have listened to this more than any other album this year.

fleetfoxes1998 Castello di Verduno Barolo, Massara paired with Fleet Foxes” by Fleet Foxes
Both of these choices were unexpected finds in 2008. I stumbled on the wine while having lunch in Verduno, Italy. It may have been the setting, but I loved this wine. The Marsala sherry, nuts, leather, cherry and flowers led to a sexy cherry brandy finish. Likewise for the album. At first it struck me as too softly harmonic and folksy (very Simon & Garfunkel-y)… but the more I listened to it, the beauty of the music won me over. It’s a mellow-day album that will leave you in a better mood for having heard it. I can’t say there are standout tracks. It’s a complete and round achievement that stands as an album.

hercules2005 Mazzocco Sonoma Zinfandel Pony, Dry Creek Valley & 2004 Mazzocco Stone Ranch Zinfandel, Alexander Valley paired with Hercules and Love Affair” by Hercules and Love Affair
These choices represent the good-times party choices of the year. If you’re at a party and drag these wines out, anyone who likes wine (especially a great Zin) will love them… and the album will get their booties moving. Both the Mazzocco Zins are made in that crushed blackberry syrup and briar style with balanced structures and finishes. Winemaker Antoine Favero does a great job there. I think they were my favourite Zins of the year – and that’s saying a lot. The Hercules album has the fantastic tune “Blind” that Pitchfork chose as their track of the year. I have to admit, it is pretty bloody good.

neonneon2006 Orin Swift Cellars “The Prisoner” paired with Stainless Style” by Neon Neon
Both of these choices are just plain unique and rock n’ roll. Dave Phinney heads a small (when we visited last January, there were 4 people doing it all) operation that turns out phenomenal wines. I first tried this wine in their offices and then gladly took one to enjoy that night. Graham’s review noted, “the Prisoner has a vibrant blackberry and ripe plum on the bouquet, which opens into briar and with some dark chocolate in the mix.” Loved it. Neon Neon grab you right away with their brand of tense early-80’s musical nostalgia and take it from there. It’s a lot of fun for someone who actually became an adult in the 80’s. I loved the tracks “Dream Cars”, “Belfast” and “Michael Douglas”.

lykkeli2001 Damilano Barolo paired with Youth Novel” by Lykke Li
I loved this wine… it was one of my finds at the Vancouver Wine Fest and was helping me set up for my forthcoming trip to Piedmont at the end of March. Like I wrote back then “…it’s a complex mix of brandied cherry, plums, leather, tar, and spice along with a violet-floral thing going on.” This family-owned winery located near the town of Barolo consistently turns out some of the best values (and wines) from the Langhe. Production on the album is provided by by Bjorn Yttling of Peter Björn and John and are just plain catchy – with Lykke’s sexily fragile voice. Standout tracks are “Dance Dance Dance”, and “Let it Fall”.

cutcopy2007 Seghesio Zinfandel, Sonoma County paired with In Ghost Colors” by Cut/Copy
An amazing wine and an equally impressive album. The Seghesio Zin was tapped by the Wine Dictator as their #10 wine of the year and given a hefty 93 points. I can’t disagree with them much. Personally, I enjoyed the Mazzocco Zins more, but I also loved this wine. We’ve gone through 6 bottles in the last while. It’s got ripe and juicy blackberry fruit long with a form and tannic backbone showing a brambly and spicy finish. Wow. The album is also a “Wow”. I loved it the first time I heard it and have listened to it countless times since then. It’s another 80’s-influenced wonder, is funky as Hell and makes you want to shake your ass. I’m still digging tracks such as “So Haunted”, “Far Away” and “Hearts On Fire”.

frenchkicks2007 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough paired with Swimming” by French Kicks
I’ve drunk a helluva’ lot of this wine this year. It’s amazingly diverse in its food pairings and is mouth-wateringly tasty… and it’s the wine I ordered on my first date with Candace in 2008. We still drink it regularly. It’s got lots of tropical and citrus fruit, with a crisp backbone of acidity. It’s also a pretty amazing deal at $21.99 here in BC making it my value wine of the year. The album. I loved it. It’s one of those albums you put on and like pretty much every track. I’ve listened to it a tonne this year while preparing dinner, driving and working. It stands pretty strongly as an album, but also has great tracks with chiming guitar like “Sex Tourists”, “Abandon” and “Love in the Ruins”.

lsp2005 Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards “Three Hills Cuvée” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley paired with The Age of the Understatement” by The Last Shadow Puppets
OK, last on the list, but certainly not least… I grabbed this bottle on a trip down to the Willamette Valley last year and had been saving it… for a Pinot craving. I popped it open after Candace and I visited Portland in October and it was all it should have been – blackberry, dark cherry, dark chocolate and earthy spice. The album? Again, I loved it. It’s a very stylish side project from the Arctic Monkey’s singer, Alex Turner and  good friend of his, Miles Kane, the guitarist of the Rascals. What they came up with is a stylish and catchy sound that’s like a 60’s garage band that has developed a sudden taste for martinis. I personally think it’s a crime that the amazing tune “My Mistakes Were Made for You” wasn’t the theme for the latest Bond film, “Quantum of Solace”. Other good tracks are “The Age Of The Understatement”, “Standing Next To Me” and “I Don’t Like You Anymore”.

Honourable mentions for wines in 2008 (based on me just really likin’ them):

5 comments

Duval-Leroy Brut Rosé Champagne de Saignée NV

01012009This was our wine to ring in the new year… and what a way to start 2009. The year has just started, so I’ll keep this short. Y’all know I love the bubbly and I was kinda’ craving the rosé side of the category, so this looked mighty tasty on the shelf.

I popped it open at the crack of the new year and wow… this stuff is good bubbly (thank God, because who wants their new year’s bottle to suck??). The nose gave up berry and lemon. A sip was all about the fresh berry juice (think light strawberry and then a bunch of ripe red raspberry) with a squirt of lemon and a long mineral-edged finish.

Was it something I’d drink again? Hell yeah. This is tasty stuff.

Happy new year!

~$80 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 1/2 stars

No comments

2005 Domaine Gallety Récolte, Côtes du Vivarais AOC

This wine comes from the Rhône Valley’s Côtes du Vivarais, which was made an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée in 1999 and is a blend of Grenache and Syrah (with maybe some Carignan and Cinsault tossed in for good measure).

After some air, the nose really reached out of the glass and grabbed me. It’s full of dark plum and cherry jam with a spicy and smoky edge. The flavours show a big glass of dark plum juice with a splash of black cherry and a spicy minutes-long balanced mineral-edged finish.

It’s juicy goodness caught me off guard with the ripeness it offered up. This wine hits on so many levels and layers… its kinda’ slutty, but also has enough going on in its earthy finish that I sat and went “Hmmmm”. It’s got that New World appeal, with the Old World mineral edge. I wanted sip after sip to last all night. You can drink it now or sit it down for a while. Your choice. I’d find it tough to not sip away though… I’ve already gone through 2 of them.

I’ll definitely be buying it again.

$45 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 1/2 stars

2 comments

Château St. Cosme NV Little James’ Basket Press

I’ve really been digging this wine lately. With the economy tanking, I’ve been a bit more conscious of the money I’ve been dropping on the vino lately… and I’ve been searching out quality wines at good prices. I’ve found a few and this is the first of the bunch I’ll write up.

I’m a big fan of St. Cosme’s wines… I’ve had many of the Rhones and have also loved their Gigondas. Well, some of the grapes used for the Gigondas make their way into this bottle of juice. Each year they take some of the grapes destined for the Gigondas and, using the Solara method, cascade the vintages down into the blend they label “Little James’ Basket Press”.

If you’re not familiar with what the solera method is, the good folks over at wikipedia.org have the following description:

In the solera process, a succession of containers are filled with the product over a series of equal aging intervals (usually a year). One container is filled for each interval. At the end of the interval after the last container is filled, the oldest container in the solera is tapped for part of its content, which is bottled. Then that container is refilled from the next oldest container, and that one in succession from the second-oldest, down to the youngest container, which is refilled with new product. This procedure is repeated at the end of each aging interval. The transferred product mixes with the older product in the next barrel.

No container is ever drained, so some of the earlier product always remains in each container. This remnant diminishes to a tiny level, but there can be significant traces of product much older than the average, depending on the transfer fraction…

To sum it up, what you get in the bottle of wine is a blend of older and newer vintages. That’s a good thing. For the money, it presents very good layers of flavour from great grapes and it comes from a very good producer.

The nose is a tasty mix of dusty cherries, licorice, herbs and dark berry. The flavours back all that up, with a firm and mineral-laced finish. This is a very tasty wine for the moolah, folks.

Buy it if you can find it.

$24 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars

No comments

2006 Jean Latour-Labille & Fils Bourgogne Chardonnay

Look at these French guys being all straight-forward with their wine labeling. You look at the label and you can pretty much tell at a glance who makes it, where it comes from and what grape’s juice made the wine. Refreshing.

I’ve had this a few times and have been meaning to review it. That hasn’t been too rushed along just because I’ve really liked it each time, so buying it again hasn’t been a real stretch. 🙂

This has everything I like about the Chardonnay grape goin’ on. On the nose, it’s got the nutty, tropical edge, but that is immediately followed up with a good whiff of crisp lemony-minerality. A taste shows melon, nut and stony mineral leading into a healthy squeeze of lemon on the finish.

You’ve just finished an almond and a piece of honeydew melon and then take a big lick of a lemon soaked rock – that’s this wine. Sounds kinda’ tasty right? Oh, c’mon. Well, it is. Buy it.

$35 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars

(verging on 4.5)

No comments

2004 Chateau De Chamirey Mercurey Rouge

As the climate blends cool and warm in the transition to fall, Pinot Noir is making more frequent appearances at the front of the wine fridge.   This offering was one I picked up recently in a clear out at the local LDB, and was worth every penny.

The nose has earthy mushroom with a little bit of raspberry.  I really starting crave that rustic, funky start of the Burgundies I’ve had of late.  Great to have the palate evolve as I learn a little more.  A swirl of the new Riedel Tyrol I picked up (kinda cool) and on to the tongue with some nice floral and tart raspberry and cherry.  The finish is more red fruit with nice tartness and some mineral hangin’ around.

A tasty treat!

$34.99 (then 30% off) at the Local LDB Store.

4 stars

No comments

Farmstead Wines – Martin Arndorfer Riesling, Azienda Agricola San Biagio Verduno Pelaverga & Domaine Gauby Rivesaltes Caricia

A few weeks ago, I was driving and checking my Twitter account on my iPhone, when I noticed that Anthony Nicalo of Farmstead Wines (if you do the Twitter, you can follow him @farmstead) had posted a tweet about tasting some Farmstead Wines that were left-over from a Sommelier tasting.

As a side note: if you’re a Twitter geek and haven’t noticed the Twitter widget over in my right-hand sidebar, you can follow me at @scaldron.

I was at a light, so I promptly replied… and ended up talking with Anthony who had the bottles delivered to me downtown by one of his reps.

I was pleased to see it was an eclectic mix – an Austrian Riesling from Martin Arndorfer, a Verduno Pelaverga from Italy’s Azienda Agricola San Biagio and a sultry Rivesaltes Caricia from France’s Domain Gauby. I was impressed with each wine and loved the fact that they all came from small producers that fit Farmstead Wines’ hand-made philosophy.

So on to the wines:

  • 2006 Martin Arndorfer Riesling, Strasser Weinberge – We had this with some spicy food and it was excellent. The nose was a beautiful mix of light citrus and mineral. The flavours were a very balanced mix of light citrus zest and a long mineral and lime finish. Gorgeous stuff and a great food wine.4 1/2 stars
  • 2006 Azienda Agricola San Biagio Verduno Pelaverga – This was one of my favourite towns (Verduno) during my recent visit to Italy’s Piedmont region… It was gorgeous and surrounded by hills of vines. This wine took me back to that region. It has a beautiful nose that yells, “Langhe”… beautiful rose petal, cherry, along with a bit of tar and leather lead to a bit of a thin mouth-feel though… the finish made up for that with all that the nose hinted at. It’s a tasty bottle of wine.4 stars
  • 2006 Domaine Gauby Rivesaltes Caricia – Here we have a wine that is like a spicy and balanced young port… fresh dark berries and black cherry along with some cracked pepper on the finish. A beautiful finish that features the sweet berry fruit and firm tannins that lasts minutes. This is, plainly put, a SEXY wine. Yum.4 1/2 stars

It’s great to see someone making the effort to bring in small-production, farm-produced wines. These are folks who really care about what they do and it shows. This is the liquid equivalent of the Slow Food movement. Keep up the good work here in Vancouver, Anthony.

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