Archive for the '2.5 stars' Category

Tasting the Averill Creek Vineyards Line-up

While I was at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival last month, I stopped by Averill Creek‘s table to say, “Hi” to Denis Chen, who I know from Kitsilano Wine Cellars. Well, it turned out he was also the VP Sales and Marketing for the winery and was at the festival pouring their wines. I had a taste and came away impressed. After my chat with Denis, he promised to set up a sample pack for me to review, so here we are.

Let’s get you some information about the winery. Its owner, Andy Johnston is a British-born doctor who had a practice in Alberta for around 30 years. He prepared for his gig as a winery owner and winemaker by apprenticing in the vineyards of Italy, France, Australia, and New Zealand. After retirement he bought his Cowichan Valley property in 2001.

Averill Creek is definitely an estate producer only. They have roughly 30,000 vines on a 30-acre vineyard in the Cowichan Valley north of Duncan on Vancouver Island. All of Averill Creek’s wines are estate grown and come from this vineyard.

I was supplied with what turned out to be most of their current line-up and have tasted them over the last week or so. Here are my thoughts:

  • 2007 Pinot Gris: A sniff gave up lemon and ripe peach juice drizzled on a rock. The flavours showed some really nice lip-smackingly crisp acidity along with mouth-filling lemon-peach flavours. This, folks, is a really nice food wine, but would also make for a great aperitif on a sunny patio. It’s a solid value ($18). 4 stars
  • 2009 Pinot Grigio: This 100% stainless-steel fermented version is the crisp, quaff-able wine of the portfolio. It’s got a schwack of bracing acidity along with the nice fruit and flinty minerality. You know when you buy a really nice bunch of green grapes, take them home and really enjoy stuffing one after another into your mouth? This is the vinous equivalent ($18). 3.5 stars
  • 2009 Gewurztraminer: This was a very pleasing light and crisp Gewurz. It had soft rose petal and lychee flavours followed up by a honey-edged citrus acidity and a nice mineral edge to the finish. Very nice and another really solid value ($18). 4 stars
  • 2007 Pinot Noir: This is really nice, in that ripe kinda’ way. Think blackberry tea with Chinese all-spice on the finish. The tannins are medium-soft, so this is a bit more of a quaffer than a food-pairing wine. I really enjoyed it though, especially for the price ($28). 4 stars
  • 2007 Prevost: On the nose, I got smoked bacon with a sour cherry edge. That pretty much followed up in the flavours that finished with a peppery edge ($18). 3 stars
  • 2009 Foch’eh: This wine was made using carbonic maceration, which kept the fruit cool and fresh and makes for a very Gamay-like wine, with its really nice bright cherry and strawberry fruit. A very nice simple sipper for summer. Cool it down a touch and enjoy on the patio. Again, another solid value ($18). 3.5 stars
  • 2008 Cowichan Black: This is made from 100% Vancouver Island blackberries and comes in at 16% booze. All in all, it was a bit puzzling to me. A sniff gave me sour, yeasty light berry fruit, but a sip showed some of the ripe blackberry flavours I was expecting… with a bit of a green edge to the finish. It’s decent, but a bit of a novelty wine in an otherwise solid lineup ($18 for 375 ml). 2.5 stars

Overall, I was fairly impressed. If anything, the wines pleasantly surprised me. The line-up is definitely geared towards providing value and they’re really hitting the mark, especially with the Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir. Would I buy them? Yes, I would.

If you’ve never tried wines from Vancouver Island and you want to support the BC wine industry, you should give them a try. They can be found at various wine shops around Vancouver (and the province of BC).


2005 Azienda Veglio Michelino e Figlio Langhe Nebbiolo

When I picked this wine up the other night, I mistakenly thought it was the Mauro Veglio “Angelo” Nebbiolo I’ve been looking for since I had it at L’Altro Buca last year. Not so much.

This turns out to be a Nebbiolo from a lower-end producer… and is definitely not as good as the Mauro Veglio wine. A web search yielded that this wine retails for only 2,90 Euros, making the price here in Vancouver sting a bit.

The “Angelo” Nebbiolo was rich, fragrant and delicious. This one? Well, it has some of the nice Nebbiolo notes on the nose – the floral and light berry notes with a bit of citrus, but the flavours don’t keep up their end of the bargain.

In the mouth, it’s quite thin and ends with a bitter note. There are some of those nice Nebbiolo flavours – the cherry brandy and a bit of the walnut I love from the grape… but it kinda’ peters out. I have to say I’m disappointed in the wine. It’s not terrible, but definitely not what I was expecting.

I had been on a roll with the value wines, so I was due for a miss. All in all, I’d give it a pass.

~$27 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

2.5  stars

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Wine Software review: Bennalsoft Technologies > Wine Tripper – British Columbia Edition

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by an employee of Bennalsoft Technologies, who asked if I might be interested in reviewing an iPhone app of theirs, Wine Tripper – British Columbia Edition. Being both the iPhone and wine geek that I am, I was pretty eager to give it a go, so I said, “Sure!” I also figured that with all the visitors that are set to visit our province for the Olympics next month, this could be a very timely app to have on hand.

You can download it here.

OK, let’s get down to having a look at Wine Tripper.

Let’s have a look at the “Region Map” section.It takes you to a Google Map of BC and shows drop-pins on all of BC’s wineries. You can then zoom in and click on the pin for more info on that winery – nice feature.

When you click on “View Wines” in the next screen, you’d think it would take you to a list of the winery’s current line-up, but nope. What you get taken to is a “Your Wines” screen, which both lists and allows you to add wines from this winery to your personal wine list. It would be really nice if each winery’s selection of wines were already in here and easily selectable. Instead, you have to manually enter the wine.

One thing of note here is that in the “Varietal” box, if you tap to go in and edit, there is no way to simply input text (as you would need to if the wine were to be a blend of more than one grape). What you’re taken to is a sortable drop-down list with single varietals. They’ll have to fix this – maybe by adding a simple text edit icon/button. I tried tapping on the varietal, hoping that would take me to a text input screen, but no luck.

I also think that for wines whose names are just the varietal, that should be a choice in the wine name menu. The wine’s name should also be below the winery’s name and varietal on the entry screen. That’s my personal opinion.

OK, back to the home screen. Let’s have a look at the “Wineries” section. You’re taken to the following screen with its selectable sub-sections.

Tapping on “Alphabetical” brings up a pretty comprehensive list of BC Wineries (though I didn’t see Brad Cooper’s Black Cloud Winery in there):

Tapping on a winery’s name allows you to do all the same stuff that the winery screen in the map did – add wines, view wines, etc.

Back to the “Wineries” screen. Tapping “City” brings up a list of cities in BC that have at least 1 winery, sorted alphabetically:

Without starting to sound too much like a broken record, going back to the “Wineries” screen allows you to view BC wineries in each category – “Area“, “Rating” (sorted by your rating, though having the ability to synch with others using the program would be great to see how others have rated a particular winery), “Favorites” (side note to the developers – we spell “Favourites” with a “U” up here in Canada – and this is a Canadian wine region app) and “Proximity” (which uses the iPhone’s GPS to locate you and show wineries that are close-by in a list, sorted by actual physical distance from your location). A cool feature to add here would be to view other users of the program who may be nearby so you can organize tasting groups.

Back to the home screen again… Let’s have a look at the “Your Wines” section. The first thing you see there is this screen:

Once you’ve entered the data for a wine, you can then view your personal list of wines from this winery. Tapping the “Alphabetical” menu item takes you into a list of any wines you have saved, and obviously enough puts them in alphabetical order. One thing that became apparent as I used the app was that the page titles don’t really synch with where you are in the app. I’m in the “Alphabetical” list of my wines, but the page title I’m seeing is simply, “Your Wines”. I constantly had no idea what sub-section I was currently browsing. It would be nice to see a fix for that.

Now here’s another sign of things going wrong. Why can I rate and make notes on the wine now, but couldn’t when I initially entered the wine? The new wine screen should look exactly like what I’m seeing here, if you ask me. That’s a pretty big usability blunder.

Back to the “Your Wines” menu and into the “Varietal” section. Oops! I had 3 wines entered. Why do I only see 2 here?? Another app bug found. The program isn’t listing my Quinta Ferreira Estates Viognier at all (which was very tasty and will be reviewed later this week). That needs to be fixed.

OK, it’s back to the “Your Wines” menu we go and into the “Winery” section. Again, the program isn’t listing the Quinta Ferreira Estates winery, which I had entered. Another glitch… Again, that needs to be fixed.

All right, it’s back to the “Your Wines” menu we go and into the “Rating” section…. and again, the program isn’t listing the Quinta Ferreira Estates winery, which I had entered. Another glitch… Again, that needs to be fixed. I’m staring to feel like a broken record here.

So, let’s head back to the “Your Wines” menu we go and into the “Favorites” section (there’s that US spelling again). Well, if it isn’t the previously missing, Quinta Ferreira Estates Viognier! Maybe flagging it as a favourite hid it in other screens? No idea, but it’s nice to see it wasn’t lost completely.

OK, so that’s it… whew! What Bennalsoft has here is a really nice start to a BC wine program. I really like the map and proximity features… and I really don’t like the missing wine glitches and the US spelling (maybe that’s just me).

All in all the current version is just OK. It’s maybe worth a try, but the $2.99 price tag may be a bit more than I’d pay right now.

2.5  stars


2007 Marqués de Vitoria ECCO Tempranillo, Rioja

I was sent this as an agent’s sample, so when we headed out to Graham’s last Saturday, I thought I’d take it along and get his opinion on it as well.

$15.95 at LDB stores here in BC.

2.5 stars

3 stars

No comments

2006 Klinker Brick Winery Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi

02072009I reviewed the 2005 vintage of this wine a couple of weeks ago and quite liked it. This one? Not so much.

Maybe it’s my palate this week, but I’m not liking it. The nose has a smoky-sweet BBQ sauce kinda thing going on. That pretty much tells you what’s happening. It’s like there was a fire near the vineyard and the smoke infused the grapes. It’s not working for me.

It’s like you’ve got a handful of crushed blackberries (sounds good so far) and then douse them with a generous dose of Jack Daniels BBQ sauce (OK, not sounding so good anymore). That’s followed up by a short and slightly hot (15.8% booze) and sour finish with not much going on in the middle. ‘Nuff said.

I’d say to give it a pass. Either search out the 2005, or another Zin in the price range.

$31.99 at Liberty Wine Cellars.

2.5 stars


Wine – 2004 Fusero, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon

Hi folks! Long time no post. I’ve been off holidaying and doing other summer-like activities. There were beaches, water, swimsuits and wine… oh yes, there was wine – lots and lots of wine. I’ll write a catch-up post on that later.

This post has something I don’t often do – negatively review a wine. Most of the time, I take a relatively educated guess and come up pretty darn happy. Sometimes though, I take a recommendation and don’t really find it up to snuff… like this one.

It’s 100% Tempranillo that tastes like it was stewed with a lot of grape stems and oak chips (no barrels here, I’m thinkin’). It’s lightly fruity with an unsatisfying, bitter edge and a short finish. It’s OK for the money, but there are others I’d go to before buying this again in a pinch.

All in all, I’d give it a pass.

$14 in private wine shops in Vancouver.

2.5 stars

1 comment

Wine – 2004 Montevina Zinfandel, Terra d’Oro Field Blend, Amador County

05302007.jpgOK… so anyone who reads this blog at all knows I’m a huge fan of a well-made Zinfandel. I’ll travel far and wide to get my hands on a good bottle of Zin. So, I’ll get right to the point here… this isn’t one of them. It’s thin, slightly bitter and although it shows some decent fruit, it lacks that roundness and balance that a good Zinfandel possesses.

I’ve had some great field blends wines that have a certain percentage of each grape that are grown, harvested and fermented together from the same vineyard. This one has 80% Zin, 13% Petite Sirah and 7% Barbera and 14.5% booze.

There’s some ripe red berry fruit and a minerality on the nose that is nice, but having had this wine once, it’s not one I’d buy again. There’s much better stuff out there.

Not so much.

$29.99 in LDB stores here in BC.

2.5 stars

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Wine – 2002 Merryvale Starmont Cabernet

2002 Merryvale Starmont CabernetI picked this one up last night because I did a hard road ride and had a craving for protein… in the form of a nice big steak. Cabernet and steak: a match made in heaven. Problem with this theory is that not all Cabernets can actually stand up to a good steak… and this, unfortunately is one of those.

I’ve had some wines I’ve absolutley loved from this winery, so maybe I’ll give a future vintage another try. This was perfectly good, but lacked that oomph you look for from a really good Cab. It had none of the grippy tannins that would have helped with the bit of fat in steak that normally compliments a good wine. It was like a vanilla Cab. – all nice and normal, with no standout character. It would be nice with some bread and maybe some Brie.

I just expected more for the $39 this one cost (gotta’ love the tax we pay up here). C’est la vie… It’s all part of trying wines. You win some and you lose some… This wasn’t necessarily a loss, but more like a game where the Canucks play Minnesota: even if they win, you want to forget about the game because it was just boring to watch.

2.5 stars

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