Thursday, February 8, 2018

Featured Wines: Shira-Zam!

If the wine in this week's Featured Wines column tickle your fancy, you can order them directly from Jordan by email ( or find him in the Vintage Room of Everything Wine's newest location River District in South Vancouver (8570 River District Crossing).


I’ve been accused from time to time of being a wine contrarian, pointedly zigging when common trends were zagging. It can be a lonely life, living alone on a stubborn island of my own construct, like when I was the only member of the “Hooray for Chardonnay” club in 1998, or when I coined the phrase “You Had Me At Merlot” in 2007 but nobody cared. These days I’m at it again – either ahead of my time or hopelessly behind it – when I say:

I am wholly, unreasonably, diving with clothes on, into Australian Shiraz right now. I just smiled uncontrollably when I typed that.

I can already hear people say “ugh, they’re so fat and jammy”. Yeah, some are, I’m not in to those ones. “There’s no nuance or complexity”, I hear. Well, stop drinking that non-nuance-y un-complex crap and looky here: There are oodles of balanced, gorgeous, positively civilized Shirazes from Australia, wines that stun and beam and glow – and the best ones combine an almost extra-terrestrial concentration of pure fruit with an elegant, precise finish. Maybe I like good Shiraz because it’s so honestly built to make us happy, no tricks, just beauty and power. Behold:

Powell and Son 2015, Barossa and Eden Valley
To hear Dave Powell explain how he was kicked out of Torbreck, the winery he founded, is to experience a masterclass in Australian profanity, after our meeting I had to check our building’s foundations for fissures. At Torbreck, Dave made Australia’s first 100pt Parker wine, but since he owned no land, he built handshake relationships with all of Barossa’s Old Vine growers to build his reputation. I’m not sure what Torbreck makes wine from now, because all of those growers (and their fruit) followed Dave to his new winery he founded with his son Callum (who works half the year in Hermitage with J.L. Chave). This blend of ripe Barossa fruit contained by the fresh brightness of Eden valley is stunning, deep spicy dark fruits with Earl Grey and crushed rocks and herbs – a hauntingly pretty nose – followed by a rolling body and a finish that is both intense and almost weightless (the younger Powell’s Rhone influences show here). We’ll be pouring this on Saturday in the River District Vintage Room at 3pm, you do in fact need to try this. 95 points Robert Parker, $78.49 +tax

Penfolds R.W.T. Vertical, Barossa Valley
“What if we made Grange with French oak instead of American oak”, was the question. “Let’s test it out” said John Duval, the Chief Winemaker at Penfolds in 1995. Thus was born “Red Wine Trial”, which Penfolds decided was far too romantic and shortened to RWT when the first vintage was released in 2000. RWT is like Christian Slater in Heathers, not easy to make friends with initially but things get real interesting if you actually do. Bordeaux is clearly the guiding light here, structure currently holds sway over fruit (and may always), but the muscle and timeless frame are bulletproof and the spicy vanilla, cherry notes over earthen game almost trick you into thinking this is going to be subtle. It ain’t. Of all 3 vintages the 2011 is the most Bordelais, elegant and drinkable, the 2013 carries the most bullets. The new vintage comes in at $250 but we are going to sell the back vintages at the old price of $149.99 +tax

RWT 2011 – 93 Wine Spectator, $149.99 +tax
RWT 2012 – 93 Wine Spectator, $149.99 +tax
RWT 2013 – 95+ Robert Parker, $149.99 +tax


Everything Wine Tasting Lab – The Two Kings of Spain, Thursday February 15 6:30pm
Brix Studio - #102 - 211 Columbia Street, Vancouver – Hosted by me!

Tickets: $57.25 +fees and tax

Our new series of off-site, downtown classes takes on the twin regions of Rioja and Ribera del Duero, the origins of Spanish wine, the Traditional vs. Modern debate, and the very nature of Tempranillo. Since it’s off-site we can pour more wines, and there’ll be yums on hand, so follow the link below (it’s through Eventbrite, we don’t sell the tix through this store) to get a head-start on this year’s Wine Fest theme!!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

2017 Icon Wine(s) of the Year

For the first time we have a co-winner of our Icon Wine of the Year award; two excellent Syrahs with a similar story:

The Story
Both Syrah hail from estate wineries best known for producing big, bold, Bordeaux-styled, iconic red blends (Painted Rock's Red Icon and Black Hills' Nota Bene) yet, over the past few years, it is the house Syrah that I have found made a more lasting impression and are wines I would most often recommend, not as a consolation to the sold-out blends, but as a signature of quality for the winery and as an example of the heights this peppery, Rhone Valley grape can achieve in BC.

Syrah is handled with care in the vineyard, by both wineries, where the quality of the future wine is determined. Syrah needs constant care in the vineyard as it can grow wildly if left to its own devices and can get hit hard by BC's harshest winters.

Talking to vineyard staff about growing Syrah in BC is like discussing the ailment history of a self-diagnosing hypochondriac: you'll get a laundry list of complaints about keeping the vines healthy - even in good-weather years. Mention a particularly cold season to a vineyard manager, like the frost-heavy 2008 winter, and from the horror stories you'll hear, you'll be amazed that the vines survive at all.

Red Icon and Nota Bene have earned the hype these wines receive, but there is more to their producers than these well-promoted, 'flagship' wines, and it's their Syrah you will secretly crave and collect.

The Wines

Black Hills Estate Winery 2015 Syrah - 92+pts
Fantastical concentration in this Black Sage Bench sourced Syrah with deep, black cherry and sensual, floral aromas on the generous nose and oak-kissed layers of black cherry, mint, pepper, tobacco and blood orange flavours on the smoky, fine tannin palate. Simply gorgeous.

Painted Rock Estate Winery 2015 Syrah - 92-93pts
This youthful Syrah displays ripe cherry and plum fruit with integrated white pepper, pepperoni and floral aromas followed on the dry, grippy-tannin palate with similar flavours and added layers of blood orange, mint and vanilla.

Previous Winners

  • 2016 - Cassini Cellars 2013 The Aristocrat
  • 2015 - Le Vieux Pin 2012 Équinoxe Syrah
  • 2014 - Painted Rock 2012 Red Icon
  • 2013 Stag's Hollow Winery 2010 Cachet No. 03
  • 2012 - Painted Rock Estate Winery 2011 Chardonnay
  • 2011 Fairview Cellars 2009 The Wrath
  • 2010 - Stratus Vineyards 2007 Red
  • 2009 Blackwood Lane Winery 2006 Alliance

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Featured Wines: When Tuscans Attack!

If the wine in this week's Featured Wines column tickle your fancy, you can order them directly from Jordan by email ( or find him in the Vintage Room of Everything Wine's newest location River District in South Vancouver (8570 River District Crossing).

When Tuscans Attack!

Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, your lights are red and yellow,
Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, we drank all our Brunello!
And now we’re sad, and thirsty too,
We’re going to take it out on you!
Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, we’ll cover you with Jello!

Stop the madness. Put the Jello down. I have more Tuscan wines for you to enjoy while you decorate:

Sassicaia 2014, Bolgheri Sassicaia
The first Supertuscan, and the first Italian winery to become a Monopole (where one winery owns the entire appellation), although to be fair, the appellation of Bolgheri Sassicaia DOCG was created for them in the ‘90s, partially to recognize Sassicaia’s 4 decades under the official bus while they were unofficially kicking butt. 2014 was a challenging year in all of Italy, but it was kinder to Bolgheri, given that late-ripening grapes like Cabernet (a star ingredient of the appellation) were able to wait out the weather and still make rich wine. This year’s Sassicaia is a kind of throwback to Old World vibes, elegant and Médocaine with spicy red and black fruit surrounding the flinty delivery. Sniper-like precision on the finish, balancing the minerality, acid, tannin and glycerine that will all come together perfectly in just a few years. 95 points Wine Enthusiast, 93 points Robert Parker, 5 wooden 6-packs available, $219.49

Antinori Tignanello 2014, Toscana I.G.T. 
The second Supertuscan, although many consider it to be the first one, because a) nobody cared about Sassicaia until they beat a Bordeaux in a blind tasting in the ‘80s and b) the nontraditional Tig made more of an impact given the 900 year history of the Antinoris telling everyone how traditional they should be. The 2014 vintage separated the experts from the tourists, and the Antinoris are certainly no tourists: severe canopy management and green harvests wrested a bold wine from the jaws of dilution, and elevating the levels of Cabernet Sauvignon (sitting at a high of 25%) added enough oomph to produce a delicious, rich but classically hued Tig that only dropped one Wine Spectator point from last year’s hallowed Top Ten 2013. 94 points James Suckling, 93 points Wine Spectator, 10 6-packs available, $92.99

Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2012
You know that part of the concert when the band stops playing their new stuff and starts playing the songs you went to go hear? Il Poggione. Equal parts Traditional and Modern, delivering just enough stony structure to offset Dr. Smooth’s Pleasure Train that rolls down the tracks shooting dried cherries and black Twizzlers out of T shirt cannons. Will be even better in a year but no one will be penalized for impatience either. Delicious. 95+ points Robert Parker, 8 6-packs available, $87.99