Friday, September 29, 2017

Try This, Cellar That - Le Vieux Pin Syrah

About seven years ago, Black Sage Bench's Le Vieux Pin began to re-brand itself as a Rhome Valley homage and slowly replaced their popular Burgundy varietal wines with multiple Syrah labels and other Rhone-inspired wines. Here are two Syrah releases from 2017 to compare; one for now and one for later.

Try This...

Le Vieux Pin 2015 "Cuvée Violette" Syrah - $29
Sourced from multiple, distinct Southern Okanagan Valley sub-appellations and blended together with 1% Roussanne to create a feminine Syrah with cherry and black raspberry fruit, aromatic, floral notes and a layer of sensual, savoury characters: white pepper, vanilla, green olives and sweet incense throughout.
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Cellar That...
Le Vieux Pin 2014 Équinoxe Syrah - $24
Always in the debate for BC's best Syrah, this year's Équinoxe benefited from the near-perfect 2014 vintage (for big reds) creating a stunning wine of refinement and powerful elegance. Densely packed, yet approachable with layers of black cherry, ripe blackberry, white pepper, red plum, pipe tobacco, nectar, mild licorice and violet notes on the enchanting nose and the spicy, cola'n'cocoa nibs infused palate where ultra-fine, slightly smoky tannins and smooth, berry acidity add structure and length.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


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).


(Sung to the tune of the theme song of Shaft)

Who’s the thick-skinned grape that’s a hit with all the folks who rate? (Cab!) You’re darn right.
Who has the tannin that could do a lesser man in? (Cab!) Cab you dig it?
Who’s got body so mighty, it slays all other varieties? (Cab!) Right on.
It’s a complicated grape, but no one understands it like…

Honestly I’m surprised you let me get this far, my apologies to all those who are still reading this email. Here are a few 2014 vintage Cabernet-based wines from the U.S. and France:

Joseph Phelps 2014 Insignia, Napa Valley
One of Napa’s Crown Princes, from the middle of the region’s golden streak of vintages, ironically elevated by the long drought. I had the opportunity to taste this vintage alongside the previous 2013, and the differences are slight but noticeable. The ’13 has a more friendly fruit weight but the ’14 is structured, dense and timeless, perhaps due to the rare omission of Merlot in that year’s blend. As close as Insignia has come to the “classic Napa” style in some time, with chocolate and coffee notes bracing the “Night Of A Thousand Berries” nose that is so characteristically Phelps. 2014 is Motorhead compared with 2013’s Elton John, focused and hardcore, not really caring what you think of it… yet. Another Insignia for the ages. 97 points Vinous, 97 points James Suckling, 96 points Robert Parker, 4 6-packs available, $354.99 +tax

Sheridan 2014 “L’Orage” Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, Washington State
I’m now conditioned to salivate every time I see a 2014 Washington wine, but L’Orage additionally brings a kind of Rutherford-y thickness to the flinty structure usually prominent in Washington Cabs. Blended with a nano-smidge of Cabernet Franc, this beast is all sourced from owner/winemaker Scott Greer’s hilltop estate in the Yakima Valley where, if the finish of this wine is any indication, he must also produce rocket launchers. There is nothing restrained or conservative about the nose and body -  dark berry preserves stirred with cinnamon sticks and pipe tobacco baked into a weird pie - the “classic Washington” vibes only enter at the end, where the fine tannins try to contain the glycerin, the same way a kiddie pool tries to contain a bunch of otters. Wondrous stuff, this. 96 points Robert Parker, 3 6-packs available, $73.99 +tax

Chateau Landiras 2014, Graves, Bordeaux
Ok, I’m cheating because this is a little over half Merlot, but the Cabernet Sauvignon in this blend punches well above its percentage and commands the nose, bursting with cassis, licorice, kirsch and fresh redcurrants. The lift and tannic structure on the finish reveal the youth of the vintage (the French would call this finish “crunchy” because they are French), but Landiras, a new-ish winery started by Bordeaux architect Michel Pelisse, can drink well now with food, or cellar for another decade. Terrific value on this, with a body to match. We’ll be pouring this on Saturday at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room if you’d like to try it (we’ll also be pouring a few other Bordeaux wines TBA). 95 points Decanter, Platinum Medal Decanter World Wine Awards, 10 cases available, $42.99 +tax

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Featured Wines: The Italian Argument

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).

The Italian Argument

My friend (and wine importer) Massimo is so Italian, I sometimes feel like asking him to tone it down a bit. When he does Vintage Room tastings, he dons his baby-blue velour blazer, unfurls the red-and-white checkered tablecloth, and puts out the bread, the cheese, and the salami that he drove to East Van to buy (“always so bad the traffic, Jordan”). He knows the families behind each of the wines that he pours, and purrs out the hyper-syllabic place names like arpeggios; he is simultaneously 100% legit and one step away from hopping onto a turtle shell to go save the princess. Sometimes when he’s pouring I step back, out of the Vintage Room, to observe the people he’s serving to see if they get the same –

“Hello, Jordan.” It came from behind me, a familiar voice with an accent that was similar to Massimo’s, if somewhat time-worn. It was Vito.

Vito is, well, the other Italian importer that I buy a lot of wine from (and who also does tastings with cheese and bread and tablecloths – it’s like the Aloha of Italy, I guess). In fact, I’ve been buying from Vito since long before there I knew there were Massimos (Vito has been in Canada a lot longer), and maybe that explains my sheepish expression when I turned around to face him. Despite the fact that I support both of these importers equally and despite the fact that – last time I checked – I’m a grown man, I felt guilty, like I got caught cheating on Vito with Massimo. After I made small talk with Vito for a couple minutes, he announced that he was going to go say hi to Massimo, and I promptly ran away, just as a grown man would do.

As I pretended to do important things in the rest of the store, I talked myself down. You have Vito pouring in the Vintage Room all the time, I told me. Vito’s been here a long time, probably doesn’t even have a temper anymore, I continued. You’re 43 years old and you can buy wine from whomever, it’s all good, you’re such a professional, I said. It was working. I felt better. My friend Rick was standing at the tasting bar looking into the Vintage Room and beckoned me over, “you’ve got to see this”, he said. My anxieties returned like booming car stereos.

It looked initially like they were trying to swat many flies away from each other’s heads. Vito and Massimo were gesticulating wildly at one another, raising and lowering their pitches accordingly. I don’t know what they were arguing about (I no habla Italian) but I got the sickening feeling that I’d put a Japanese Fighting Fish in the same tank as another Japanese Fighting Fish. I had to do something before it came to blows, so – like a grownup – I ran away further into the back.

After dusting the same bottle for 10 minutes I figured the coast was clear, and emerged cautiously from the back and went into the Vintage Room where Massimo was pleasantly whistling. Vito was gone. “What was that about?” I asked Massimo, who blinked at me for a beat before asking “what you mean, Jordan?” “I mean, what were you and Vito talking about?” I clarified. Massimo blinked at the table, then the ground, then his own hand, “I think the weather?” he shrugged. After I pushed a little further, Massimo divulged, with a puzzled look, that they’d maybe discussed soccer a bit. They weren’t fighting, they weren’t even disagreeing, that is just how a couple of Italian guys talk to each other.

That kind of passion pervades every Italian conversation, but it can be weaponized when applied to things that really matter, like wine. Throughout most Italian wine regions, the predominant argument is between those winemakers (and wine drinkers) who adhere to styles and practices handed down to them over centuries, and the restless types who want to use the best techniques from around the world in their own back yard. Between the Traditionalists and the Modernists.