Friday, November 3, 2017

Featured Wines: The U.S and Yah!

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 U.S and Yah!

Hi Everyone!

My trip to US wine regions last week was outstanding and unforgettable, but we did have to make a last minute change to our plans. Napa and Sonoma were originally on our itinerary, but with all of the devastation that this last month has wrought, we felt that imposing on their hospitality would be wrong, especially while so many people are still hurting, so we went further south (Paso Robles and Santa Barbara). I met with an Oregonian winemaker a couple days ago who showed me a video that a fellow winemaker from Sonoma had filmed from his backyard this week: a giant red nighttime blaze on a mountain with a bright yellow flaming core in the middle of it. California is still warm and dry, and new fires are still a risk.

There has, perhaps logically, been a bit of a run on Napa/Sonoma wines lately, but I’m not sure it’s necessary. Nearly everything but Cabernet was harvested before the fires, wineries that weren’t damaged (which is most of them) periodically lost power and thus control over the speed and nature of their fermentations, but wholesale vintage spoilages haven’t been widely reported – winemakers are, by nature, adaptable. We still have two or three vintages in bottle waiting to come to market before we get to 2017, so any shortage that this year may incur wouldn’t be felt for a while. If you need a reason to stockpile Californian wine (besides its deliciosity), do it because NAFTA may fall apart and we’ll be smuggling in Caymus over the Cascades on the back of a mule.

“But won’t the prices go up?” I’ve been asked, more than a few times. Yep, for sure. They were going to anyway. Next year many North Coast wineries will roll from an outstanding vintage (2014) into another perfect vintage (2015), two years after the vintage that Robert Parker called Napa’s best ever (2013). The international markets have noticed and worldwide demand has skyrocketed, pushing prices into classified Bordeaux territory. Napa and Sonoma belong to the world now, but that’s no reason to stop visiting them or to stop drinking their amazing wines – in fact they’ll need us to do that more than ever, going forward (and 2015 was a stellar vintage up and down the west coast as well).

Here are some great US red wines for your kind consideration:

Sea Smoke 2015 “Ten” Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, California
This Pinot wants to eat your Pinot. When you drive through the Santa Ynez valley in daylight, on the other side of the mountains from Santa Barbara, you wonder how Pinot Noir can even survive here: blazing sun and 38C weather (in late October!). But at night the Pacific winds flush all the hot air out of the valley to provide those cool nights that Pinot adores. The day’s sun ripens these grapes to Wrestlemania proportions, however, and the mighty Sea Smoke “Ten” (which is the number of fingers you have in the air when you surrender to it) is a perfectly huge specimen. Chocolate, cola, and squished blueberries are surrounded by floral notes; there is ample elegance here on the finish, it’s not just clumsy power, and the finish skirts perpetuity. Almost viciously popular and rare, this is the largest amount of this cult wine that I’ve ever been able to offer. No ratings found (yet), 5 6-packs available, $162.49 +tax

Bootleg 2013, Napa Valley, California
Offered before in a previous vintage, this 2013 Cabernet-driven blend (Petite Sirah and Zinfandel are vocal passengers) drives into Prisoner territory and then leaves it in the dust. Deep, round and surrounded by just enough structure to hold it in, with crème de cassis and minty notes gently drawing you into the Pleasure-Dome. Sourced from the fabled Stagecoach vineyard before Gallo bought it (and before it partly burnt, alas), Bootleg is richly dark and unexplainably great value. Would have been a Back Up The Truck wine if I’d been able to get more. 94 points Robert Parker, 6 cases available, $54.49 +tax

Elk Cove 2015 La Boheme Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon
The Willamette valley is stunning in October, the Pinot leaves turn yellow and the hills look like their grandma knit them a sweater. Planted in 1985, the La Boheme vineyard is one of the highest up in the valley (800ft elevation), and has provided the Campbell family of Elk Cove (I’ve been there and found it bereft of both elks and coves) with gorgeous fruit that truly epitomizes the word Pretty. Some of the most aromatic, expressive Pinot in Oregon is grown here, I smelled it for 20 minutes before drinking it, and the ideal 2015 vintage boosted the red raspberry freshness to mingle with the violets and topsoil. You could cellar this reliably, but you could also work hard and do homework all your life without ever learning to finger-paint. I’m drinking this now (after a long sniff). 92 points Robert Parker, 3 6-packs available, $74.99 +tax

Caymus 2014 Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California

Certainly no stranger to these pages, or to most of your cellars, the “Napa Cab That Got Everyone Into Napa Cabs” returns with intensity and body to spare. Black Twizzlers duel with red ones on a cedar plank by throwing ripe blackberries at each other until they both fall down, bottled. 6 wooden 6-packs available, $199.99 +tax

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.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Fairview Cellars 2017 Releases

A recent trip to the Okanagan took me through Oliver where I had the pleasure of sampling the wines of Fairview Cellars. Nearly gone, new and soon-to-be released stalwarts of the portfolio were tasted along with a few interesting one-off wines - each with its own story - true to the Fairview brand.

2014 Premier Series Cabernet Sauvignon - $50
Recently removed from the 'available wines' menu in the shop, but you may be able to request a few bottles if you contact the winery soon. Always one of the better Cabernet Sauvignon in BC and the 2014 vintage is one of the best from the Fairview home vineyard since 2007.

2014 Premier Series The Bear - $45
A classic Meritage blend with ripe tannins and higher intensity than recent vintages of the label.

2015 Crooked Post Pinot Noir - $25
A very approachable, rounded Pinot and the best drink-now option of Fairview's portfolio, unless you want to spring for one of the library releases Bill Eggert, Fairview's winemaker and proprietor, makes available occasionally.
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2015 Two Hoots - $25
Not yet released. Happily still priced at $25, this wine is a blend from multiple sites in the Southern Okanagan Valler. Roughly a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 25% Merlot. A wine to buy by the case.

2014 Mad Cap Red - $29
A fruit-forward, well-balanced, Merlot-driven alternate to the Two Hoots, though, similarly sourced from multiple vineyards in the Southern Okanagan.

2015 Fumé Franc - $35
In barrel, this Cabernet Franc showed extensive flavour influence from the 2015 fires that ravaged the Okanagan that year. Bottled separately and branded with a unique label immortalizing the fires that gave it its intense, smoky characters. A wine you either will love or hate - not a lot of middle ground on this one (this is why you visit in-person and taste before you buy).

2012 Autre Côté - $65
Another one-off label commemorating the final purchase of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Jean Baptist-managed U2 vineyard along the Black Sage Bench (on the other side of the valley, or d'autre côté). A contract no longer needed as the Fairview-managed, Quail's Wayside vineyard has come into full production. Good fruit + good vintage = good Cabernet.

2016 Sauvignon Blanc - $20
Nicknamed "Bill's Oyster Wine" and it's hard to improve on that association. A crisp, mouth-watering blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon sourced from the Fairview home vineyard and a another local vineyard.

2011 Iconoclast - $120
Sold only in the tasting room, this is the winery's one true Reserve/Barrel Select wine of the best Cabernet Sauvignon each vintageReleased "when ready" the 2011, showing brooding dark and blue fruit on the pruny-nutty nose and the spicy-acerbic, dry palate, has yet to be added to the portfolio, even at 6 years of age, though, this is likely to change soon for a late-Summer 2017 release.
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- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2017

Friday, July 21, 2017

Featured Wines: Tempranillo The Terrific

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).

Tempranillo The Terrific

Google Images is awesome except when it isn’t. I’ll explain.
A few years ago we were pouring some great Spanish wines at our tasting bar, and my colleague who was running the tasting was about to print a sign for it when she hit a creative wall. She came to see me in the Vintage Room for advice.
“What picture should I use for the Spanish tasting?” she asked.
I was busy. “Um, Spanish people drinking wine”, I said. Boom. I spent the least amount of syllables and calories possible on that answer. Nailed it.
“How many Spanish people?” she replied.
I sunk, slightly. I don’t really care about pictures or signs (my house has pictures in it only because I am married). I care even less about how many imaginary Spaniards are drinking wine without me in a picture on a sign, but now here I am thinking about all of that. Sigh.
“Seven?” I offered out of thin air.
“Why seven?” she replied.
This strategy was clearly not a win for me. “Why don’t you just use a Spanish flag?” I said, closing the lid. My colleague begrudgingly accepted this lame new suggestion, and left to go and look for a Spanish flag on Google Images. I finished my re-stocking, put together some orders, and had started to answer my emails when she came back looking really upset. “That was a horrible idea”, she said.
She told me how an elderly gentleman reacted to her sign, saying that it brought back painful memories, and that the flag was offensive and should be removed.
“Well maybe that guy doesn’t like Spain” I said, because I’m not really that quick.
“No, he WAS Spanish”, she replied. I went and grabbed the sign that she made and looked at the flag. It had the familiar horizontal bands of red, yellow and red, but in place of the royal seal was a freaking gigantic scary black eagle. This was the flag of fascist Spain. This was the flag of Franco. Without speaking, we quickly found a picture of seven Spanish people drinking wine.
General Francisco Franco famously won the Spanish Civil War, the precursor to WWII, but the Spanish remember the next 40 years, when Franco ruled a despotic, isolated, impoverished Spain that became lost in time. Western Europe formed an economic union but Spain didn’t. France, Italy and Germany exported their wine-grape varieties to the burgeoning New World regions but Spain didn’t. It wasn’t until after Franco’s death in 1975 – well after Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir had conquered the globe – that the outside world got a peek at Spain’s glorious, legendary variety: Tempranillo.
What would the modern wine world look like had Franco lost the war? Tough to say: Tempranillo has, in the last couple of decades, proven kind of finicky when planted in expatriated settings – the most prominent attempts in California produced flaccid juice bombs and jug wines. In native Spain, though, the grape sings arias. Thin-skinned and hyper-sensitive to altitude, Tempranillo can play both the masculine and feminine roles: in Rioja Alta (the more traditional region) it can age like Burgundy or Brunello; in the warmer, lower regions like Toro and Ribera del Duero it can achieve the RPMs of the most intense Right Bank Bordeaux.
Here are some outstanding Tempranillo (with one tiny cheat):

La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva “904” 2007, Rioja
A glorious returning champion, being as the 2005 vintage was last year’s #1 on Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 (we didn’t skip over a year – they didn’t make a 2006). I have taken to calling this wine the Brunello of Spain; it drinks, finishes and cellars accordingly. Cherries, orange peel, vanilla and tobacco precede an intense, bright mouth-feel with a floral lift at the end (perhaps courtesy of the 10% Carignan). Massively gulpable now, but will thrive well into the next decade. One of my very favourite Spanish wines. Come try it to see, we’ll be pouring it this Saturday afternoon in the River District Vintage Room. 97 points James Suckling, 95 points Robert Parker, 4 cases available, $91.99 +tax

Bodegas J A Calvo Casajus “Nik” 2009, Ribera del Duero
Sorry in advance because I won’t have enough - I have the only bottles left in B.C., I’m told. I tried this at Wine Fest and can still taste it – cassis, mineral, spice and searchlight-bright red fruits around the kind of intense, hyper-charged body that 18 moths in new French oak can produce. Yowsers. Famous in Spain, these guys are new on the scene here. I hope they come back soon, with way more wine next time. 97 points Robert Parker, 2 4-packs available (yep they come in 4s), $124.49 +tax

Taylor Fladgate Very Old Single Harvest Port 1967, Douro Valley
Ok, this is the cheat because the blend in this Port is only partially Tempranillo (known locally as Tinto Roriz), but if you drink this you’ll surely forgive me. Grown in the year of Sgt. Pepper, this is nutty, herbaceous glory, braced by toast, licorice and caramel and finishing in a long graceful diminuendo. When we held our Taylor Fladgate Collectors Tasting last November, this 1967 was the clear crowd favourite by a mile. Classified as a Colheita (tawny Port from a single year) rather than a Vintage Port, this is exactly what looking at beautiful things tastes like. 98 points Wine Spectator, 12 bottles (in wooden boxes) available, $259.99 +tax

I hope your summer is going super! Until next time,
Happy Drinking!!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Try This, Cellar That - Argentinian Malbec

With this edition we showcase Argentinian Malbec:

Try This...

Bodegas Escorihuela 2015 '1884' Reserva Malbec - $18
A doppelganger to the excellent 2014 edition, with a similar profile that combines red and black berries, sweet pipe tobacco, herbs and spice on the feminine nose and medium-plus bodied palate where the long-ish finish is nicely framed by fine, smoky tannins, rounded, berry acidity and lingering spice. Drink now-2019.
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Cellar That...
Rutini Wines 2015 Trupeter Malbe - $21
A graceful, approachable Malbec with evenly matched fruit and savoury characters: blackberry, cherry, charred oak, sweet spice, licorice and fig. Full-ish, with good texture and smooth, smokey tannins. Shows potential for further development over the next 2-3 years.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Try This, Cellar That - Tinhorn Cabernet Franc

Long a signature variety for the Golden Bench winery, Tinhorn produces three Cabernet Franc wines, one a rosé, but for the purpose of this comparison, we'll focus on the two reds. We're going against convention with the reserve-tier wine suggested as the "drink now" bottle, but since Tinhorn have done the work for you by keeping the Oldfield Series Franc back an extra year and treating the wine to added time in oak where the tannins matured, the choice is made easier.

Try This...

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2013 Oldfield Series Cabernet Franc - $30
An uber smooth and elegant Cabernet Franc with the classic, dried flowers and brambly fruit you've come to expect from a BC Cabernet Franc but presented with the refinement and texture of a high-end Cabernet Sauvignon. Notes of pipe tobacco, light cola, wild berry, plum and a medley of corned beef characters: cloves, juniper berries, allspice and black pepper, grace the comforting nose and the mellow, smoky-tannin palate. As with all of the Oldfield Series wines, this Cabernet Franc has been released when it is ready to be enjoyed but will also feel at home in your cellar for another 2-3 years.
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Cellar That...

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Franc - $24
A brooding Cabernet Franc from the excellent 2014 vintage, full of dark berry fruit, intense earthy-herbs and meaty-metallic aromas and flavours but not without a few feminine touches like candied fruit, mocha and floral notes on the otherwise masculine nose and palate. Well structured with dusty tannins and fleshy, berry acidity. Length is moderate, but well balanced. Enjoy now or over the next 3-4 years with some further development likely.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Try This, Cellar That - OK Falls Chardonnay

BC Chardonnay come in a variety of different styles; from lean and mean, to big and buttery, and everything in between. The best are vehicles for their terroir and find the sweet spot on the winemaking decision spectrums which measure vineyard management and vinification manipulation. Here are two options who managed the feat admirable, both from the same vintage and geographical area: Okanagan Falls/ Skaha Bench, in the Southern Okanagan. One for now, one for later.

Try This...
Liquidity Wines 2015 Chardonnay - $26
An elegant Chardonnay, nice and tidy with nothing out of place. Avoids the pitfalls of tasting forced with regards to winemaking decisions like so many others do. Subtle oak and partial malolactic fermentation notes frame the characteristics of the estate-sourced fruit nicely; medium intense, pear, peach and papaya fruits, light herbs and macadamia nut aromas and flavours with crisp, citrus acidity. Drink now-2020.
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Cellar That...

Painted Rock Estate Winery 2015 Chardonnay - $35
As complex as it is ever-evolving, multifaceted, production recipe with aromas and flavours of honeydew, pear, tangerine, lemon/lime, vanilla, stonefruit, spice and brioche. Pure, refined and elegant with a harmonious balance of its core elements: fruit, acid and texture. An effortless intensity which will help the wine hold for many years and develop further over time as the intensity is slowly dialled back to reveal layers of dried and candied fruit aromas and flavours. Drink 2017-2022+
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Friday, May 26, 2017

Consumer Tasting of South African Wines with Oyama Sausage Co. Treats

Sourced from a Wines of South Africa media release from Dana Lee Consulting Ltd.

Select South African wines will be featured at BCLDB throughout the month of June.  In conjunction with the promotion, BCLDB's 39th & Cambie Signature Liquor Store will host a FREE consumer tasting on Thursday, June 8th 2017.  Guests at the event will enjoy South African wine samples paired with bites from Granville Island's Oyama Sausage Co.

Two groups of wines will be featured at the Cambie & 39th event.  From 2:00 to 4:00pm:

A second flight of wines will be poured from 4:00 to 6:00pm:

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About Wines of South Africa: Wines of South Africa (WOSA) is a fully inclusive body, representing all South African producers of wine who export their products. WOSA, which was established in its current form in 1999, has over 500 exporters on its database, comprising all the major South African wine exporters. South Africa's winemaking history stretches back to the 1600s.  In recent years, however, the country has combined longstanding traditions with cutting-edge technology and a commitment to environmental stewardship.


About Oyama Sausage Co.: Oyama Sausage was founded by John and Christine Van Der Lieck in 2001. Located in Granville Island's Public Market, the shop carries a wide selection of fresh sausages and handmade pâtés, as well as cured salamis and hams. John, whose ancestry includes five generations of Dutch and German charcuterie makers, has cultivated partnerships with local farmers and suppliers to ensure he works with only the best ingredients. He experiments with fusions between traditional charcuterie (including recipes that have been in his family for generations) and international cuisine, drawing from the rich diversity of food cultures in Vancouver to create modern and exciting flavour combinations that reflect the multicultural mosaic of the city.



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Willamette's White Rose Estate

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 Morgan Crossing location in South Surrey.

Willamette's White Rose Estate
By Jordan Carrier

There are more opinions out there on Pinot Noir than the Oxford comma (on which I don’t personally have a stance - pro, con or otherwise). Many New World Pinot-fans seek body and purity of fruit, dismissing the more subtle, earthen notes of Euro-Pinot as “Old Sock” (one of the more popular and curious descriptors I’ve encountered – would they prefer New Sock?). Burgundy-philes reject Californian Pinots in particular as rooty-tooty pancake syrup, placing greater value on the light-to-medium layered textures, tannins and crisp acidity (they would call it Freshness) found in traditional bottlings. Brothers and sisters, can we get along?

Yep, over a glass of White Rose.

There is bold fruit here, balanced among the flowers and spices, further amplified by the whole-cluster pressings that they’re famous for. In the glass, though, it looks and acts like Pinot, unapologetically medium-bodied and racy (lower weight does not equal lower intensity, if unconvinced, see: Barolo). Tucked in behind Domaine Serene in the Dundee Hills, White Rose has tried to maintain a low profile while a cult built up around them; ultra-low yields (hence the intensity), super-gentle pressings (it’s more like a neck rub), natural yeast fermentation and neutral barrel aging – this method of winemaking couldn’t be less interventionist if it were performed by tree nymphs.

And they really don’t make much of it, we’re lucky to get any at all. I’m not sure why we get it at such a relatively low price either, but I don’t want to look too closely at it in case it’s a mistake.

White Rose Pinot Noir 2015
Cult Pinot at a mainstream price. One could be forgiven for calling this catch-all “Willamette” appellation bottling their “entry level” wine, but it doesn’t drink like one. Vibrant red fruits, singed herbs, cardamom, clove, orange peel. Medium bodied and zippy, focused and long, this is mega-happy-juice for well-informed patios. Sells for $40 USD at the winery. 5 cases available, $46.49 +tax

White Rose “Dundee Hills” Pinot Noir 2011
Loved it so much last time, I brought it back. This is the sneaky, re-labelled wine the Americans call “The Neo-Classical Objective” that was imported into BC under the generic “Dundee Hills” label so that the Oregon peeps wouldn’t get mad about us getting it cheaper. Jeepers creepers, I love this sleeper vintage, I fell in love with the misunderstood 2011s when I was down there last summer. Like the unusually late harvest, these wines just needed more patience to start coming around. Now they’re around. Boy are they ever. Dried flowers, white pepper and allspice surround the bright raspberry and strawberry notes. Layers and layers on the palate, good fruit intensity, a very Burgundian lift just on the end. Sells (as “Neo-Classical”) for $80 USD at the winery. 6 6-packs available, $64.99 +tax

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

International Sauvignon Blanc Day on Friday, May 5th

On the heels of World Malbec Day comes the lesser promoted (in the BC market, anyway) International Sauvignon Blanc Day on Friday, May 5th. To mark the occasion and the celebrate one of my personal favourite varieties, I offer a selection of Sauvignon Blanc to seek out and enjoy. Not all of the selections are of the current vintages available, but each is a consistent producer, from year to year.

Nederburg Wines 2015 Winemaster's Reserve Sauvignon Blanc - $13
Pungent and refreshing on the nose with fresh oyster minerality and sodium. Tangy gooseberry, crisp citrus and green apple flavours blend nicely on the sharp, mouth-watering palate. A touch of citrus peel and spice lingers on the moderate finish.

Sileni Estates 2016 Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc - $18
The 2016 offers greater balance than recent vintages thanks to a more perceptible layer of lees and baked orchard fruit notes beneath the prominent citrus and mineral characters on the stonefruit-infused nose and textured palate.

Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars 2015 Sauvignon Blanc - $19
A supremely refreshing, low-alcohol Sauvignon Blanc produced from 8-10 year old vines using a wild yeast ferment and minimal oak contact: a clean, pure expression of the French variety. Opens with a with a mellow nose of citrus fruit and Jazz apple aromas and the faint smell of oak and briny seashells. An intense, citrus and mineral-infused palate follows sporting a fairly full mouth-feel with hints of herbs and lemon peel through to the long finish.

Jackson Estate 2011 "Stich" Sauvignon Blanc - $20
This wine wins with its excellent balance of citrus acidity and light residual sugar on the rich, concentrated palate of gooseberry, kiwi fruit and mineral flavours. The finish is impressively long for this price point with lingering, mouth-watering lemon-lime peel notes and just a hint of spice.

Fairview Cellars 2013 Sauvignon Blanc - $20
The nose of this Sauvignon Blanc doesn't appear until the wine has warmed in the glass, which many of us won't wait to experience. If you do, it's a nose fuelled by apples, citrus and stonefruit aromas.Instead, we'll enjoy this tasty wine, with our favourite seafood dish or a hard cheese plate and appreciate the multitudes of textures on the palate.

La Frenz Winery 2012 Sauvignon Blanc - $22
Tangy citrus, ripe papaya and sea shells grace the nose of this boisterous Sauvignon Blanc from Naramata Bench produce La Frenz Winery who, through past success, have become one of the most consistent producers of the French variety. The palate's flavour profile, which ranges from lemon/lime to green apple to stonefruit to brioche, benefits from selective blending from multiple fruit sources and prolonged lees contact creating mouth feel and a long finish.

Le Vieux Pin 2015 Sauvignon Blanc - $30
A complex, finely tuned, rich-yet-refreshing Sauvignon Blanc with ample layers of tropical fruit, herbals, minerals and lees on the delicate nose and medium-bodied palate. The finish is long and richly textured with lingering citrus peel and level, spice notes.

Bench 1775 Winery 2011 Whistler Sauvignon Blanc Icewine - $30
Produced under Bench 1775's 'Whistler' brand, this tasty 100% Sauvignon Blanc icewine delivers an impressive punch of concentrated, honey crisp apples on the serene, sweet-smelling nose and on the well-balanced, intense palate. The sticky, pineapple upside-down cake and candied-peach flavours are beautifully managed with impressive, green apple acidity keeping the gooey texture fresh and mouth-watering.

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Try This, Cellar That - Kaiken Malbec

This week we showcase two Malbecs from Argentina's Kaiken Wines:

Try This...
Kaiken 2015 Reserva Malbec - $15
Impressive balance and intensity for the price, the Kaiken Reserva Malbec is produced by the Montes family of Chile from Mendoza fruit and offers a blooming nose of dark berry fruit, charred oak and sweet pipe tobacco aromas followed by a mouth-watering, full-bodied and round palate with a combination of sweet berry and spicy flavours. Finished with a hint of mint. Enjoy in its youth with sweet'n'spicy, BBQ dished. Drink now-2019.

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Cellar That...
Kaiken 2014 Ultra Malbec - $25
The Ultra Malbec sees 12 months in French oak prior to bottling, imparting a smoothness to the palate and light oak aromas and flavours. Ripe, dark fruit throughout with lively, brambly acidity, soft, fine tannins and a touch of smoke and spice that linger on the moderate-plus finish. Handles its 14.5% alcohol superbly. Ready to go now, or hold for some further development over the next 2-3 years. Drink now-2020.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Featured Wines: 3 for Under $50

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 Morgan Crossing location in South Surrey.

3 for Under $50

“Hipster” is a funny term to watch evolve in the wild, because it produces the most push-back from the people it’s most correctly used on. If someone calls me a Hipster, I laugh and wonder if that person can see. If the same title is levelled at a young man with ironic boots, a pierced beard and Far Side glasses, you’ll invariably hear “Ugh, I hate Hipsters” before he leaves in disgust, spilling his tomato stout as he gets into his Yugo.  Of course now that I just wrote that – by my own rules – I’m one too…. Drat, I didn’t think that through.

The following are certainly not Hipster Wines (even if they were I wouldn’t call them that because then the Hipsters wouldn’t buy them) because they can be enjoyed completely unironically, but they do have unique, esoteric qualities. Satisfying enough to patio, but cool enough to intrigue your meta-nephew (who you should not under any circumstances call a Hipster). We begin:

Mazzei Zisola 2013, Sicily, Italy
In truth, this was almost a “Back Up The Truck” (it’s a Top 100 wine), but I just don’t have quite enough. This is magnetic, spot-on Sicilian Nero d’Avola with savoury herbaceous notes over black forest cake. The fruit party takes a left turn on the finish, where the orangey acidity and tannic structure give it that final push towards classicism. Mazzei is a Chianti Classico family that was drawn to Sicily by curiosity and – let’s stay real – very agreeable prices. They found a small hamlet near Noto called Zisola, where grape vines were still being grown and harvested hunter-gatherer-style in the bush training system, and they set up shop. Keep your eye on this wine, this won’t be the last time it makes the year-end lists. We’ll be tasting Zisola in the Vintage Room this Saturday at 3pm! 92 points James Suckling, 92 points Wine Enthusiast, #89 – Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2015, 15 6-packs available, $39.99 +tax

Chateau de Nages “JT Rouge” 2006, Costières de Nimes, France
With a decade under its belt and both feet planted firmly in the zone-of-awesome, this wine will spend a lot of time travelling to my belly. 100% Organic Syrah from just south of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, culled from a single block of a single vineyard, and vinified by Halos de Jupiter guru Philippe Cambie and biodynamic-minimalist/crazy-man Michel Gassier. The fringes belong to tertiary leather and tea, but the primary fruit still runs the table with blood orange and floral notes, falling into a way-bigger-than-expected body and a firm, almost Bordeaux-like finish. Very way-cool. The texture is multi-layered and earned, with wisps of pepper and smoked meat. We’ll be pouring this one also this Saturday at 3pm.One-time-only buy, this won’t be back. 6 wooden 6-packs available, $49.99 +tax

Louis Jadot Chateau des Jacques “Clos du Grand Carquelin” 2013, Moulin-a-Vent, France
A new vintage for this “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Burgundy” superstar that I’ve written about before. Burgundian viticulture and quality for half the price, this is Cru Beaujolais in all of its glory. It follows the same adherence to terroir specificity (Region>>Village>>Vineyard) as Premier Cru Burgundy, and it’s made by  Louis Jadot (in their surrogate Beaujolais winery Chateau des Jacques) in almost exactly the same way they make their Burgundian Pinot Noirs. The indigenous Gamay brings a shade more friendly red fruit to the party than Pinot, but you can pair this with any Burgundian match – duck, mushroom risotto, ratatouille – and be awesome. 93 points Wine Enthusiast, 3 cases available, $46.99 +tax