Archive for the 'Unusual grapes' Category

2006 Masi Campofiorin Ripasso

10012009Due to the outrageous liquor taxes in our fair province of British Columbia, this wine falls solidly into the value category. Yep, $20 for a decent bottle of wine is considered a value here in British Columbia. Don’t even get me started. Well, I will get started, but that’s another post.

OK, back to the wine. I’ve had it many times in previous vintages and thought it might pair fairly well with the home-made pizzas I was putting together tonight. The last vintage I tasted (2003) was a bit of a disappointment, but this one makes up for it. It’s a solid bottle for the money. The 2006 vintage has been declared by Masi as a 5-star vintage, the first since 1997 and only one of seven since 1964.

For the Veneto region, this is a pretty common blend  – it’s comprised of 60% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 10% Molinara, and 5% Rossignola. Up front, when you take a sniff, there’s a bunch of ripe cherry and herbs. A sip shows dark cherries with a bit of a stewed edge, along with dusty earth and an herbal edge to its lingering and pleasantly tannic finish.

Yep, I’ll buy this again sometime soon. It makes a great sipper for when company drops by or for during the week.

$18.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars


1999 R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, S.A. Viña Gravonia Crianza (White)

09262009I’ll start with a simple statement. I love this wine. It’s a wine geek’s wine – all funky “I don’t know what I’m really smelling here” on the nose and then full, fresh fruit and an insane finish when you take a sip.

Seriously though. When I took my first whiff of this wine, my first thought was varnish…  and maybe cracked almond shells or liqueur. That made the first sip even more surprising. Even with a touch of that Frangelico liqueur going on, it had fresh squeezed tangerine and lychee fruit. The finish builds on that and goes out with almond, citrus and a mineral-edged herbal marathon that lasts for minutes.

It’s 100% Viura and is aged in American oak barrels for 4 years before being aged an additional 4 years in the bottle before being released. This is Old World wine done in a uniquely Old World way. God bless them for it too. If you’ve never had a white Rioja and are intrigued by a wine with some age, you really need to seek this one out.

One note if you do buy this wine. Don’t chill it much. This is the type of white that is best served slightly chilled… and by slightly I mean just below room temperature. Don’t leave this in the fridge for long at all.

Shea, from was with me when I grabbed this and bought the 1989 vintage. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say about it.

$35 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 1/2 stars

1 comment

2003 G.D. Vajra Kyè Freisa, Langhe

09192009This is a wine that knocked my wine geek senses out of the park. I was down in Portland last weekend and wandered into the local wine geeks’ paradise, Vinopolis. I picked out 5 bottles of Oregon Pinot to bring back home and then asked the shop’s on-shift wine guy to pick the coolest bottle of the wine in the store in the under-$45 range. He immediately made his way to the back of the store to the Italian section and grabbed this wine.

Anyone who has ever read this site knows I’m a huge Nebbiolo fan, especially in its Barolo and Barbaresco forms… and Freisa is Nebbiolo’s genetic father, so it’s to be expected that you’ll have to get ready for your tar and roses fix… though rumour has it that Freisa has a more refreshing approach with its flavours.

With an initial whiff, I could have sworn that it was a gorgeous example of a Langhe Nebbiolo wine. Even though it comes from the very warm 2003 vintage, the wine has an extremely complex and sexy nose – all of that already-mentioned tar and rose petals mix, along with the Barolo/Barbaresco-like walnut and cherry brandy. It just smells so good.

A sip really shows what this wine has to offer. It slips into another gear. Wow. It’s like a Langhe Nebbiolo on steroids. More Barolo-like than anything. It’s not as raw as a Barbaresco. It has the gentle, sexy fruit of a good Barolo with softer tannins. That could come from the warmth of the vintage, but this is one of the better 2003 Langhe wines I’ve tasted. Again – wow.

The everlasting finish is full of walnut and cherry liqueur followed up with a long-lasting floral-edged (think violets) finish… very tar-like, but much better than you might be thinking. This is a complex and wonderful bottle of wine. If you come across it and are a Piedmont fan, you have to give it a try.

Trust me.

$39 USD at Vinopolis in Portland, OR.

4 1/2 stars

No comments

2005 Movia Ribolla Gialla, Brda

06152009This bottle comes from a winery which has been in one family’s hands – the Kristancic family – since 1820. Its estate straddles the Italian and Slovenian appellations of Collio (in Italy) and Brda (in Slovenia). 20 acres are on the Italian side and 18 acres on the Slovenian side (thanks to Alder over at for digging up these facts).

When I was in Italy last year, I had the luck to taste some truly unique wines from the Friuli area, which is near this wine’s home. This little beauty brings back some great wine memories and reminds me of how unique some of the flavours of the area were.

The Movia winery is now run by Ales Kristancic who Decanter Magazine described as having “the creativity of Andre Ostertag, the energy of Angelo Gaja and the dedication of Willi Brundlemayer plus inherited flair and determination.” That’s some pretty heady company.

He’s been using full biodynamic production for the last 20 years and you can taste the character and care in the glass from the indigenous Ribolla Gialla grape. This is wine with a sense of place.

It’s a wine geek’s wine. It’s pretty much unlike anything else out there and is drop-dead sexy. The nose is totally unique. It’s got light melon, mineral and vanilla spice going on… among other things. The flavours struck me as honey-buttered popcorn with a melon drizzle… and it’s tastier than that simplified description sounds. It finishes with an elegant crispness that shows this wine could age for a while.

~$40 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars here in Vancouver.

4 1/2 stars


1999 Lopez de Heredia “Vina Tondonia” Reserva, Rioja

06022009I’ve always enjoyed seeking out things off the path. As a youth, I took great delight digging through the “bins” at the front of the record store (yes records) I worked at to find a gem that had been overlooked. Finding this wine reminded me of this.

1999. That grabbed me off the bat, but a nice Rioja at 30% off at the back of the store. Sold. This one is 75% tempranillo, 15% garnacha and 5% each of graciano and mazuel. from a family winery founded in 1877.

The other night I popped it open and decanted it. The wine was a nice garnet color with some enticing tawny hints at the edges. Great start! After a nice dinner it was time to dive in.

The nose had a nice blend of sweet spices and red fruit. Lots of cedar and anise with some light cherry and a noticeable felt tip marker edge. Interesting. A few post dinner swirls and slurps brought out more cherry and some plum to a medium body that I was glad I left until after eating. The finish was really interesting, more nice spice with some tobacco and really firm tannins and acidity. I found myself liking the finish more and more, looking forward to each sniff followed by some pretty serious tartness on the finish. This was a really cool bottle.

Even after 3 hours in the decanter, this wine certainly showed it has lots of years left in it. Kind of like finding David Bowie’s Low album in the bin for a couple of dollars way back when.

If you see it, dust it off and grab it!

$34 (regular $55) at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars


2006 Antech Blanquette de Limoux Brut Grande Réserve

I’ve been drinking a lot of this wine lately – it’s pretty much my go-to bubbly without being a full-on Champagne (and without their larger price tag). I only recently realized that I hadn’t written up this vintage. The last one I wrote up was the 2004. It comes from the limestone and gravel soil of France’s Limoux region near the sunny Mediterranean  – an area that has been making sparkling wines much longer than the better-known region of Champagne.

Well, like the 2004, it’s a blend of Mauzac, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc that adds up to sip after sip of crisp lemon-zested and honeyed pear and mineral-laced goodness. It’s fantastic on its own, or pairs really well with foods like grilled chicken, turkey burgers, salmon or some goat cheese.

Search it out. It’s well worth a try. You’ll be hooked. I am.

$26 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars here in Vancouver.

4 stars


Quinta Vale D. Maria Reserve Porto Lote 06

04222009Wow. Mmm… Port. It’s one of those things you either love right away, or come to love after learning about it and tasting multiple bottles. Fortunately, I loved Port the second I tasted it years ago – I have a sweet tooth and a love for big reds. That helps. I tasted this one at the Vancouver Wine Fest a while back and a recent craving led to it recently being popped open.

The QVDM Reserve Port was bottled unfined and unfiltered, as winemaker/owner Cristiano van Zellar’s personal reserve. It’s produced from single vineyard Douro grapes – a blend of Tinta Amarela, Rufete, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, Touriga Nacional and Sousão – and is crushed by foot (I hope they washed) before being aged for 2 years in old wood vats. It’s bottled only once every year, on the date shown on the label. In this case, that would be 2006.

This is a wine that would pair very well with a lot more than dark cocolate (check – I loved it): try blue and hard, flavorful cheeses, as well as dark chocolate-based desserts. I’m getting hungry just writing this.

Because it’s unfiltered and unfined, be careful when pouring this wine. There’s a lot of sediment in the bottle. You want the wine, not the sludgey stuff.

So, what did I think? Well, it’s a bloody tasty Port for the money. It’s got a lot of the character of a Vintage Port, without the price tag. The nose shows ripe blackberry, black tea and dark chocolate. A sip gives up a bunch of ripe and juicy blackberry along with the dark chocolate and a finish that has that black tea edge.

Is it good? Hell yeah. It’s very good. If you love the Port and can find it, you won’t be disappointed.

~$30 CDN if you can find it.

4 1/2 stars


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


2004 Caves Aliança Bairrada Quinta das Baceladas Single Estate

012120091I happened on this wine at the Alberni LDB store in downtown Vancouver the other day. The wine is mainly a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon along with some of the Baga varietal that is native to the Bairrada region. I’m always up for trying something from Portugal, so I grabbed one.

It may be Old World in location, but there’s definitely some of that New World fruit and oak going on. I’ve had it open for a few hours.. so let’s go. The nose is a sexy mix of ripe blackberry, plum, dark chocolate and mineral. The flavours are all about the ripe berry and what struck me as sweet fig with a long dark chocolate  coated finish. Sounds tasty, huh? Yep, it is.

Apart from some bitterness in the middle, it’s just a hint away from being absolutely outstanding. It is pretty damned fine. For the moolah, I’d buy it again. Yes, I would.

$28.50 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars

No comments

2007 Orin Swift Cellars The Prisoner

01172009I’m always up for trying a vintage of The Prisoner. I’ve loved the last 2 vintages (the 2006 made my list for top wines of 2008), so when I came across the 2007 on Friday, I grabbed one to test it out.

One thing I should point out – this is a young wine and really benefits from some time in the decanter. I’ve grabbed a couple to put away for a while (if I can keep my hands off them).

So, I decanted this for a couple of hours last night before taking a sip and that really helped it out. When I first popped the cork, the wine had that bright and youthful fruit thing going on… as the air mellowed it, that evolved into dark jammy blackberry fruit with chocolate.

That really became evident when I took a sip. This blend of 50% Zinfandel, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Syrah, 9% Petite Sirah, 2% Charbono and 1% Grenache made for a concentrated dark fruit explosion with a beautifully balanced chocolate edge to the long finish. Imagine a big handful of ripe blackberries mixed with chocolate covered cherries. Yep, that’s this wine.

Another score for Dave Phinney and the gang down in St. Helena. Tasty stuff.

$52.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars


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