Rethink Pink, Rosé, Joie Farm, Okanagan Valley VQA, BC, 2015, 12.5% abv.

Here’s an uncomplicated Rosé made with Gamay and Pinot Noir grapes by Heidi Noble for your back porch. 

The colour of pretty, pink salmon, this wine has aromas of watermelon and cherry.  On the palate it’s dry with a little tannin and flavours of cranberry, more red cherry, lime juice, and dry moss.

Take a breath and a sip – don’t think too deeply on this  WSET Good wine.

Joie Farm wines are available at Marquis Wine Cellars in Vancouver, BC.

Posted in British Columbia, Gamay, Pinot Noir, RED, ROSE | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pinot Noir, Ken Wright Cellars, Savoya Vineyard, Yamhill-Carlton AVA, Oregon, 12.5% abv, 2013, US$85

In August 2016, we visited Ken Wright Cellars’ tasting room in Carlton, Oregon for the second time.  We stayed at their Carlton Lofts which is very beautiful, but pricey.  It’s worth noting that Ken Wright doesn’t discount anyone for tastings – so be prepared to pay the full amount no matter if you’re a blogger, an industry representative, a somm or a drinker.

It’s interesting that during this second tasting, I came away with a bottle from the same Savoya Vineyard as I’d purchased in 2013 (I got the 2008 version in 2013).

On the eyes, this 2013 is completely translucent garnet with aromas of cherry, mushroom, earth.  The palate is dry with feathery tannins and flavours of more cherry, glove, mushroom and loam.

WSET Very Good  – elegant, subtle, clean.

Their wines are lovely, but as I mentioned before, I do wish they’d figure out a new cork for their works of art.  The plastic is ugly and difficult to remove – an odd choice for such an expensive bottle. If they’re truly concerned about oxygen ingress, they could choose a stelvin cap or even a glass stopper.

 

Posted in Oregon, Pinot Noir, RED | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Albariño, Bagoa do Mino, Lagrima, Rias Baixas DO, Spain, 13% abv., US$25

Ninety percent of the wines made in Rias Baixas are white and most are produced from the pale green Albariño grape, although 12 different grapes are allowed.  Rias Baixas is located on the far northwest Atlantic coast of Spain just north of Portugal.  

The wines from here generally offer good value for money, are well made and taste delicious.

On the eyes, this Albariño is pale gold with deep legs and aromas of lemon zest and white flowers.

The palate is muted but dry with good acidity and flavours of lemon grass, white peach, white pepper and brine.

WSET Good plus – juicy, great with hors d’oeuvres, seafood salad or oysters.  If you can’t find this one at the wine store, try any Albariño – it’s unlikely you’ll be disappointed.  Search this site for other versions under ‘what would you like to drink?’  At Marquis Wines in Vancouver, the Bodega Garzon is a great option.

Posted in Albarino / Alvarinho, OTHER, Spain, WHITE | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

La Grande Cuvée Rose, Domaine Lafage, Côtes du Roussillon AOP, France, 13% abv, C$35++

Made from 70% Grenache Gris, Grenache and 30% Mourvèdre grapes harvested by hand from 65 and 80 year old vines, this is a visual beauty of the palest salmon.  Jean-Marc Lafage makes this at his estate near Perpignan, France.  

The grapes were lightly pressed and fermented with indigenous yeast, but the pale colour comes from the free run juice. Most was aged in tank, but some was actually aged in oak which helps explain the great body.  

Aromas show light strawberry with green shoots and honeysuckle.  The palate is dry with great acidity and a supple, buttery mouthfeel.  Flavours show salmon berry and strawberry juice with jasmine and honey.

WSET Very Good – usually rosés are bitter and have little body.  This one is not usual though – and offers a beautifully rounded body with not a hint of bitterness.  It’s expensive for the BC market, but well worth it and comes with a glass stopper.

Posted in France, Grenache / Garnacha, Grenache Gris, Mouvedre, Monastrell, ROSE | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Red Cuvée, Stina, Dalmatia, Croatia, 13% abv, C$20++

Put this Dalmatian gateway wine on your to drink list and get ready to visit your nearest BC liquor store.

Those are words you should rarely  – if ever – expect me to write (the BCLB part).  But, I would be remiss in my duty to alert you to the best deals if I didn’t tell you about this Stina wine, coming soon to a BC liquor store near you (summer, 2017).

There is 2,500+ years of wine making history in Croatia, but after phylloxera, communism, and then the war with Serbia, the wine culture and business we are now starting to benefit from is really only about 25 years young.  Stina itself was only established in 2009. 

Direct Wines has been selling Stina products in BC since about 2014.  Their premium wines are delicious, but also pricey for the average consumer.  

So, the challenge to build a quality-focused Croatian wine category, and make the wines accessible to the average drinker, has been hard – even more so if you understand how imported wines are taxed to death in BC. 

So, what of this wine, you ask?  Direct Wines and Stina have partnered to create this red cuvée of 70% Plavac Mali and 10% each Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.  You know the last three, but what is Plavac Mali?  Translated as ‘Little Blue,’ it’s a common Croatian grape and the offspring of Zinfandel (Crljenak Kaštelanski).

Plavac is one helluva grape to grow – it requires incredible heat to ripen and only grows in tiny bunches, so the yields are ridiculously low.  Stina’s Plavac grows on the super steep south-facing side of the island of Brač, making it a logistical and expensive nightmare to harvest as everything has to be done by hand.  

The effort has been worth it.  Think of this as a stepping stone to the higher quality Stina and other Croatian wines that will be coming to this market.  On the eyes, it’s translucent ruby with aromas of plum, cherry and a little green pepper.

The palate is dry with good acidity and even tannins that allow the wine to be enjoyed on its own or with a steak, as we did.  Flavours show ripe red plum, black cherry, cracked pepper, more green pepper and grass.

The finish was remarkable for this excellent ROI wine.  It was deliciously interesting – not heavy or manipulated.  It stood up to our meat and at the same time was elegant and versatile.

WSET Very Good – and offers rock star quality for your dollar.  They’ll be in the BC liquor stores summer, 2017 – alongside the Stina White Cuvée (C$20), the Zlatan Otok Babic from Dalmatia (C$35), the Kozlovic Teran from Istria (C$35), and the Vina Laguna Malvazija (C$20) from Istria.  Eventually they will be available across Canada.

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon / Blends, Croatia, Merlot, Plavac Mali, RED, red wine, Shiraz / Syrah | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pinot Noir, Toulouse, Alexander Valley AVA, California, 2011, 14% abv., US$28

Toulouse is located near the northwestern end of the Alexander Valley AVA, a few short kilometers after emerging from the switchback drive through the Navarro River Redwoods State Park from Mendocino on the Californian coast.

We visited there in August 2016.  It was absolutely charming (in spite of the spoiled LA somm tasting on our left) and were served by Jessica who told us the Toulouse story of its owner/grower, “Vern” who was the Oakland fire captain until his retirement in 2002 when he moved to the Alexander Valley.

We tasted the Pinot Gris with its white pepper and lemon zest, followed by the 2015 Rosé made from Pinot Noir (rhubarb with dried tarragon).  A sumptuous Riesling and spiced Gewürztraminer followed but then there were the Pinot Noirs.

This 2011 came from a cool summer with some rain and we opened it at 6 years old to enjoy with west coast salmon.  On the eyes, it’s a delicate, translucent garnet with a nose of cassis, red fruit and herb.  The dry palate offers high acidity, soft tannins and flavours of plum, raspberry and cherry with delicate green herb, light star anise and freshly turned earth.

This wine has not been filtered, so all the crunchy, good bits have been left in.
WSET Good plus; although you’ll have to visit them to find this gem, it’s worth the trip.

Posted in California, OTHER, Pinot Noir, RED | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cabernet Franc, Les Muriers, Anjou Villages AC, Loïc Mahé, Loire Valley, France, 12.5% abv. 2013, US$20

These are a few of my favourite things.  img_7805

From a site located in the western part of Savennières and north of the Loire River, Brittany native Loïc Mahé grows bio/organic grapes on shale soils and makes unfiltered wines fermented with natural yeasts and few interventions like sulfites or chaptalisation.

Yes, it’s admittedly difficult (although not impossible) to find in North America.  Make the effort though – it tastes great.

On the eyes, a translucent ruby with pristine aromas of crunchy raspberry and green leaf with a mineral kick.

The palate is dry with scratchy tannins and medium minus body.  Flavours show very clean raspberry and tayberry with more green leaf and a strong finish.

So clean, elegant and layered, it’s WSET Very Good and went perfectly with BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, summertime cherry tomatoes and purple field peppers.

 

Posted in Cabernet Franc, France, Loire, OTHER, RED | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment