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 (JCarrier@everythingwine.ca) 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 IconWines.ca

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 (JCarrier@everythingwine.ca) 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 IconWines.ca

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 IconWines.ca

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. http://www.wosa.co.za/


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 (JCarrier@everythingwine.ca) 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 IconWines.ca

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 IconWines.ca

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 (JCarrier@everythingwine.ca) 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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Celebrate Malbec World Day with Free Wine Tastings

This year's Malbec World Day falls on Monday, April 17th, and British Columbia will get a jump on the celebrations with free Argentinean wine tastings at 5 private stores.  In addition, select BCLDB stores throughout the province will offer free tastings of Argentinean wines in April.

In BC, the following private stores will host complimentary consumer tastings.  Each store will pour at least 6 different Malbecs and Malbec blends, paired with samples of authentic Argentinean cuisine.

Saturday April 8 2017:

North Vancouver, South Surrey & Langford locations
2:00 to 6:00pm

1034 Davie Street, Vancouver
With traditional empanadas from Panaderia Latina Bakery
PLUS a DJ will provide music at this lively event - 
2:00 to 5:00pm 
(Donations accepted to the BC Hospitality Foundation)

Saturday April 15 2017:

1633 Manitoba Street, Vancouver 
2:00 to 6:00pm

  • Keep an eye on Icon Scores for new reviews of Malbecs in March and April.
  • BC Liquor Stores across the province will host over 50 Malbec World Day tastings.
  • Follow twitter @ArgentinaWineCA or #MalbecWorldDay for ALL locations.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Featured Wines: Wine Salad

If the wine showcased in this week's Featured Wines column tickle your fancy, you can order them directly from Jordan by email (JCarrier@everythingwine.ca) or find him in the Vintage Room of Everything Wine's Morgan Crossing location in South Surrey.

Wine Salad

By Jordan Carrier

Depending on what time of day you’re reading this, it could be sunny, snowing, raining unicorn tears or hailing armed locusts, goodness knows I’m ready for anything by now. If somebody asks you what the weather is going to be, the only safe answer is “yes”. We in Metro Vancouver enjoy a Maritime Climate, but this year the designation should be changed to Salad.
And it’s in that spirit that I offer you a disparate, eclectic mix of stellar wines – a Wine Salad, if you will – to pair with this silly season. No real continuity ahead, we’re just gonna place the hamster ball on the map and see where that critter takes us. First up, New Zealand!
Felton Road. Central Otago, deep inland on the south end of the South Island, is simultaneously the hottest and coldest terroir in New Zealand, boasting extreme diurnal shifts of up to 15C. It’s dry and dramatic here, but the slopes of Bannockburn provide the ideal aspect for consistently ripening Pinot Noir, even in Tolkien-ish conditions, and that’s where we find Felton Road. Organic, biodynamically Demeter certified, eschewing filtration and fining and using only naturally occurring yeast, Felton Road doesn’t make wine so much as watch while it makes itself. What you taste is all Bannockburn: piercing red fruit over spices and silk. The single cru Cornish Point shows a trail mix of cranberries, grains and nutmeg, while the broader, village-level Bannockburn bottling is a tad darker, adding fat plums and licorice to the mix. They are both grand, rare wines of Gondor, and I grabbed all that I could (I think I took the only 5 6-packs of Cornish to enter the province – oops).
Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2015, 94 points Wine Spectator, 3 cases available, $67.99 +tax
Felton Road Cornish Point Pinot Noir 2015, 96 points Wine Spectator, 5 6-packs available, $94.99 +tax
Betz Family Winery “La Cote Rousse” Syrah 2014, Red Mountain AVA, Washington State. Not for the faint of heart, or the impatient. There are only 338 Masters of Wine in the world, and Bob Betz is one of them. His vineyard-focused approach to Washington viticulture led him to Red Mountain, where he still gets fruit from the fabled Ciel du Cheval and End of the Road vineyards and makes Syrah that rivals Hermitage for longevity (really). Classic Washingtonian white pepper over Mediterranean olives and dried fruits, before a tense, currently immovable frame. This is, it must be said, no BBQ wine - it needs a nap - but your future self will be proud of you for grabbing such a classic cellar-star before it got famous and cost a gajillion dollars. Stunning – I took everything in BC. 96 points Robert Parker, 8 6-packs available, $91.49 +tax

Tenuta di Trinoro “Le Cupole” Toscana IGT 2014, Tuscany. To call this beast a “Supertuscan” is both correct and missing the point. Le Cupole “supersedes” nothing, because nothing else is around there, this rustic estate in the Orcia Valley, where Tuscany meets Umbria and Lazio, was the domain of nothing but sheep for 100 years. Enter Andrea Franchetti, a former restauranteur with the air of a hipster who’s about to tell you why your favourite movie stinks and a massive American inheritance (his uncle was the artist Cy Twombley). Not sure why Andrea planted so much Cabernet Franc there, but I’m grateful that he did; the elevated limestone slopes contribute serious depth, and the strangely warm microclimate - provided by the shelter of an extinct volcano – allows for longer hang time and greater phenolic ripeness (the trees still have leaves in December despite the high elevation). Le Cupole is Cab-Franc dominant, with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon playing bass and drums. Big big red fruit and spice, with no funky Greek Salad, this bruiser was off market for 5 years, I’m so happy its back! #29 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2016, 93 points Wine Spectator, $60.99 +tax

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Get To Know... Valeria Tait

Photo Courtesy Bench 1775
Valeria Tait
Vintner, General Manager, Bench 1775 Winery
Oliver, BC

With a background in Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and a degree from UC Davis in Oenology and Viticulture it's of no surprise that Valeria Tait is a strong believer that good wine starts in the vineyard.

But farming is more than an applied science. One must combine facts, experience and feelings to get the most out of the land. A self-described romantic with a scientific education and many years working at successful wineries like Painted Rock and Poplar Grove has equipped Tait with the ideal skill-set to produce great wines, from the ground up. 

Get to know Valeria and get to know the wines of Bench 1775 a bit better...

Key wines to try:
Chill: 2012201320142015

Glow: 201320142015
Sauvignon Blanc: 201320142015

1. What do you enjoy most about making wine?
The variability that comes up every year because of climate differences and the effect that climate has on fruit expression.

2. What inspired you to become a winemaker? 
When I tasted a fine Alsace Riesling for the first time as a young drinker (of sweet German whites) and finding out the differences between those two wine styles is the fruit and the way the wine is made. Eye opener to say the least – more like an epiphany.

3. What causes you the most stress during harvest? 
The long exhaustive physical demands of harvest and trying to get everyone to treat the last bins of fruit as carefully as the first bins of fruit – and in a cold year, that the tannins will get physiologically ripe.

4. What is your favourite and/or least favourite wine cliché? 
Every cliché is my least favourite – in particular, when winemakers say the following: ‘ it’s about the terroir’ – of course it’s about terroir, there is nothing else. or ‘this wine is premium quality’ – most winemakers are putting their best efforts out there, let others decide what they think of the wine.

5. Away from the cellar and vineyard, what’s your greatest passion in life?

6. After a long day of work in the cellar, what do you turn to for refreshment? 
Not surprisingly … wine.

7. If you could take credit for one other BC wine on the market today, which would it be and why? 
Wow – that’s not a fair question because all efforts are team efforts unless you are making 1000 cases literally with no physical help.  I think it is fair to say that I have had a significant influence on Mission Hill, Painted Rock and Poplar Grove because of my approach that wine is made in the vineyard, meaning the fruit expression and ripeness in the vineyard drives the wine program.

8. Of the wines in your portfolio, do you have a favourite food pairing to go with one of the wines? 
Too many – it depends on the time of year and my mood. Right now Bench 1775 Glow Rose and salmon, Bench 1775 Cab Franc with roast pork …

9. What do you think will be the next big trend in BC wine over the next few years? 
The phenomenal growth in BC wine consumption and the dwindling supply of fruit.

10. Screwcap or cork? What’s your preference? 
Depends on the wine. Screwcap for wines that I want to retain brightness and balance (the more delicate reds) and cork for wines that will evolve as they age and they need air ingress. I am a romantic – so natural cork will always have a place in my heart. The romance of opening the bottle, the people and communities that are kept alive by purchasing cork, the traditions!

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2017 IconWines.ca