Archive for the '4.0 stars' Category

2007 Flying Horse Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

A couple of days ago, I had the chance to sit down with Shea (from and the owner of Marquis Wine Cellars, John Clerides to taste the delicious wines from Mayacamas Vineyards. Last night I headed into Marquis hoping that the Sauvignon Blanc would hit the under-$30 sweet spot. Alas, it didn’t… being priced at $34.90 (though it’s very good and may make its way into a future post). So, in its place – and due in part to Shea’s glowing review of their Petite Sirah (yes, I picked some up) – I chose to give this a go.

Well, I’m glad I did. For those of you who are New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc fans (myself included), California SB’s are a different beast entirely. Many of them see time in oak and show a completely different range of flavours. According to the winery’s web site, this wine was cold pressed into stainless steel tanks, then spent its fermentation in 60 gallon French Oak barrels; (80% once-used and 20% new). Once fermentation was finished, the wine rested sur lie for 7 months prior to bottling. It was not put through malolactic fermentation. This all adds up to give the wine a very complex and alluring nose and flavour profile.

The nose was really interesting. I got something like candied ginger peach. The flavours were completely different from the nose – I got vanilla-spiced pear leading out to a round and then crisp lemon and orange edged finish. It’s really very nice stuff.

If you want to explore how Cali Sauvignon Blanc differs from the New Zealand fruit bombs, this would be a great start.

$26.90 at Marquis Wine Cellars.

4 stars

1 comment

2006 Marchesi di Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni, Toscana

So far this under-$30 thing is working for me. I’m 2 for 2 in finding wines I would happily sip at any price, let alone for under $30 CDN.

While I was in the Thurlow & Alberni specialty LDB store last week, I took a look at the Italian section. Knowing that 2006 was a phenomenal vintage for all things Tuscan, I spotted this 2006 and decided to give it a go. It’s a super-Tuscan blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Sangiovese and 21% Merlot that I had tasted, but not loved, a few times in the past.

Well, 2006 seems to have fixed that. For the money, I was really happy with this wine. After a bit of time in the glass, the nose was a sultry mix of ripe cherry, perfumed rose petals, tobacco and an earthy minerality. The flavours were equally seductive, offering up rich and ripe berry/cherry fruit, chocolate and a finish laced with floral notes and silky tannins.

This is a seriously tasty and enjoyable wine for $25 (CDN).

$24.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars


2006 Bodegas Juan Gil Monastrell, Jumilla

OK, let’s get this under-$30 thing going… and up first is this nice bottle of juice. It’s a 100% Monastrell (Mourvèdre) from Spain’s Jumilla region in the southern province of Murcia that spends 12 months in French oak barrels.

I’m happy with this start to the challenge. Candace and I both really liked this wine. The nose is full of ripe dark plum and blackberry with a nice floral and herb edge. The flavours are a sexy blend of jammy dark ripe blackberry and plum with something like leather, tobacco and a bit of floral violet on the medium-long finish. It’s very well-balanced and the 14.5% booze isn’t at all noticeable.

I’m not sure on the vintage rating for 2006 in Jumilla, but I liked this every bit as much, if not more, than the 2004 I wrote up back in November, 2006. For what it’s worth, the Wine Dictator gave it 90 points and chose it as the #83 wine of 2009.

This is a heckuva’ good value. I’ll be drinking it again.

$24.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars


Avery Brewing Company DuganA Double IPA

I went down to Seattle a few weeks back to do the half marathon and given our Draconian duties on wine, I decided I would bring back some of the fine ales available at Bottleworks.

The place is a candy store for beer geeks. The selection is amazing and I didn’t know where to start. With some classic Melvins playing in the store, I found a few gems, then let the staff take over. This IPA was a favorite so I grabbed one an am glad I did!

This is a serious IPA. It has a great caramel hue, and the hops jump to your nose as you pour. (This has serious hops – 93 IBU from a blend of Chinook, Centennial and Columbus for the beer geeks out there). Some pine notes, ginger and a hint of sweetness on the nose, the power hits with the first sip. Thick and gripping, the hops are supported by some nice malt that lends some balance. The palate is full of herbal and beautiful grapefruit, candied pineapple and almost pine sap (said with a Christmas tree nearby). The finish has more rich floral pine bitterness that goes on for ages…

This is an IPA not for the faint of heart. In my opinion it’s a beer geek’s beer. Testing the limits of IBU to see how bitter we can get while still being palatable. That said, this is more than palatable and a really enjoyable double IPA. As their description aptly states “A brutally bitter, dank, piney and resinous ale designed for those seeking a divine hop experience.” – That and more!

As our beer culture grows slowly here in Vancouver, I hope that one of the local “meccas” like Brewery Creek, Viti or Firefly starts bringing in the Avery Beers. This is tasty stuff.

Amazingly I think I paid about $7.95 USD for this. (can’t find my receipt)

4 stars

1 comment

2005 Renzo Seghesio “Ruri” Nebbiolo, Langhe

11192009This wine falls squarely in the value category – especially if you want to try a decent Nebbiolo, but don’t want to lay out the $60 CDN or so that a Barolo or Barbaresco will set you back. It’s $28 at BC LDB stores – or at least at the one in downtown Vancouver at Thurlow and Alberni. For what I’m getting in my glass, it’s a very good value indeed.

In the glass, it’s got a very nice darker-than-normal-for-a-plain-‘ol-Nebbiolo colour, with a brick-ish edge. It looks rich. The nose has that classic tar and rose with walnut and sweet dark cherry. A sip gives me a soft mouthful of dark cherry, chocolate and walnut liqueur. The finish is velvety soft and mineral-edged. It’s not all that long-lasting, but this is a regular Nebbiolo and not a Barolo or Barbaresco. It is what it is and that’s pretty tasty, especially for the money.

It’s very approachable and would be a good introduction to the main Piemontese red grape for folks who want to learn more about the region.

$27.99 at the Thurlow & Alberni LDB store.

4 stars

No comments

2008 Wild Rock Cupids Arrow Pinot Noir, Central Otago

12272007.jpgThis wine is hitting the spot tonight – and for good reason. It’s a really well-made bottle of Pinot for the money. Most Pinots from New Zealand’s Central Otago region start at roughly the $50 CDN price range, so it’s refreshing to see this on the shelves for less thank $30.

I’m going to make this relatively quick, so let’s get down to it. The nose has really nice briary red fruit with an edge of dark dried cherry and rhubarb. The flavours are really in-your-face. There’s a big schwack of juicy dark cherry followed up by a bunch of rhubarb/briary spice and solid, but forgiving tannins. It’s a satisfying bottle of wine.

Like I said when I reviewed the 2006 vintage of this wine, it’s a tidy little bargain for the money. If you’re a Pinot fan, and especially if you like Oregon Pinots or have founds ones from New Zealand you’ve liked, you really should give this wine a go.

$29 in LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars


André & Mireille Tissot Crémant du Jura, NV

11042009After reading and hearing about wines from France’s smallest wine region (it totals ~1,600 hectacres), I’ve been on the lookout for any of the wines from Jura around town. This sparkling blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is the first wine from there that I’ve found.

The Jura region is located in Western France, between Burgundy and Switzerland. There are four regional appellations: Arbois, Côtes du Jura and the smaller Etoile and Château-Chalon, plus two wine style appellations that cover the whole area, Crémant du Jura and Macvin (a Vin de Liqueur).

Basically, five grape varieties make up their wines. For whites there’s Chardonnay and Savagnin – sometimes called by its old name, Naturé and Trousseau Gris. For reds, there’s Poulsard (also called Ploussard), Trousseau Noir and Pinot Noir. I could go on, but a further exploration calls for more of their wines… and I just have this tasty bio-dynamically farmed bottle of sparkling wine.

So, let’s get down to it. To me, this wine has a lot in common with decent Champagne. It’s got a nose that has a schwack of toast, pear, strawberry, honey and citrus. A sip gives up a concentrated dose of fine bubbles that give way to berry and melon fruit followed up by a long honey and grapefruit-like citrus to its crisp pear-edged finish.

It’s really tasty – better than I thought it may be, in fact.

If you like the bubbly and want to try something new, I’d say you should give this wine a try. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

$43 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars
(verging on 4.5)


2003 Tormaresca Negroamaro Salento Masseria Maìme

10062009I walked into my local Specialty LDB store here in Vancouver tonight not knowing what I felt like picking up… just that I’d like it to be tasty and a great value. In the back corner of the specialty section, there’s a little cart upon which the folks that run the store put mark-downs in the more-than-$25 range. When I saw this wine on the table (marked down to $29 from $39), it really piqued my interest. It checked two boxes on my wine dance card – it’s Italian and it’s a semi-obscure grape, Negroamaro.

Now for a little background on Negroamaro. The grapes that made up this bottle were grown in the Southern Italian region of Puglia and more specifically in the Salento area, which would be pictured as the “heel” of Italy (if you think of the boot shape of the country). It’s an ancient grape, which can generally be described as a deep, dark and perfume-y.

Well, this wine is certainly deep, dark and perfume-edged; although it’s more than that. 2003 was an extremely hot year throughout much of Europe… and many wines suffered. The native Negroamaro grape seems to have fared well though. It’s accustomed to the heat of southern Italy, so the heat of that summer wasn’t too much for it. In fact, instead of the flabbiness of many of the wines from 2003, this one shows depth and structure.

It’s got a nose that is loaded with ripe dark fruit, perfume-like floral notes (think violets) and a rustic felt-tip marker like earthy edge. A sip gives up a really tasty gob of that dark fruit with blackberry and ripe black cherry, violets, leather, tar and a long and tannic rustic finish. It’s got healthy, but not very noticeable 14% booze.

For the money (at least here in tax-burdened BC), this is a helluva’ a wine for $29. I actually can’t think of another red wine I’d rather drink in that range. If you can find it for this price, you really should give it a try.

$29 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars


2007 Montlouis Sur Loire Sec Cuvée Touche-Mitaine, Le Rocher des Violettes

08282009OK, so a couple of days ago, fresh from loving the Quails’ Gate Chenin Blanc, I wandered into Kitsilano Wine Cellars and Kirk told me a had to compare it to a Loire Valley Chenin. Of course I was game for that, so I grabbed this bottle.

It’s got a nose that is a lot like a Chablis – light vanilla, lemon rind and stone. The flavours are loaded with juicy melon, lemon, peach and a finish that’s like licking a rock. The finish lasts for minutes. This is quality stuff.

The Wine Dictator descibes it as, “Round and medium-weight, with peach, almond, fig and mineral notes that linger softly on the finish.” I’m not getting all of that, but I do really like this bottle of wine.

If you can find it, give it a try. This is an under-appreciated varietal and a really tasty bottle of grape juice.

$28 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars


2005 Bodegas J.C. Conde Neo Sentido, Ribera del Duero & Floyd Landis’ Road Shoes from Specialized

You may or may not know that along with being a wine and web geek, I’m also a road cycling geek. Speaking of cycling, a couple of weeks ago, bike clothing/accessories/bikes company Specialized (@iamspecialized – you can follow me at @vinifico) had a contest on Twitter where a re-tweet of their message would automatically enter you to win a pair of Floyd Landis‘ road shoes that had been worn during racing/training. Floyd has definitely been an inspiration to me, despite being stripped of his 2006 Tour de France win under controversial circumstances. He’s done his 2 year ban and is back racing for the North American-based OUCH Pro Cycling Team. Well, I entered… and actually won.

Today I received the US Postal package (a former team of Floyd’s where he raced along-side Lance Armstrong) and opened it to check out the shoes. They had definitely seen a few miles and Floyd hadn’t even bothered to remove his Speedplay cleats before sending them to the folks at Specialized for this contest. Pretty cool. They’re the BG Pro Road shoe in white with black. I have to admit that if they had been in a size 42, I would have probably worn them, but they’re a 44.5 – Floyd has some big feet for a 5’9″ guy.

Now to the cycling/wine tie-in… this weekend marks the start of the 3rd Grand Tour of the year, the Veulta a Espana. Floyd won’t be in the race (maybe next year), but I’ll be following it at and other sites. So, I felt like pairing the shoes with a beautiful Tempranillo from Spain’s Ribera del Deuro region that I had tasted last week -  the 2005 Bodegas J.C. Conde Neo Sentido. Check out the video.

~$38 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars


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