Garnaxa / Syrah, Clos Erasmus, Priorat DOQ, Spain, 2010, 15% abv, 139€

In January 2015, we made a trip to Priorat DOQ in Spain and met the indomitable Daphne Glorian, owner of, and winemaker with her friend and colleague Ester Nin, at Clos Erasmus. It really was the tasting of a lifetime – and you can read about it here.

Clos Erasmus is a super petit estate of only 10 bio-dynamically farmed hectares which produces a maximum of 140 cases each year.  Bottles start at C$200 and while this one was C$222 at purchase, it is currently available around the world for between $250-$450.

Chef Angela Wall hard at work.

Glorian is the only female winemaker to have received two back-to-back 100 point scores from Robert Parker (for her 2004 and 2005), and this vintage was awarded a lofty 97.  Jancis Robinson gave it an almost unheard of 18/20, and it earned 96 from each Antonio Galloni and Stephen Tanzer.

At this point, you are probably getting that I’ve been waiting for the perfect wine and food moment to enjoy this rare bottle.

People often write about wine and casually throw out sentences like, “Wow, it was amazing.  The best I’ve ever had.  A world class bottle!”  Most of the time though, it’s pure hyperbole.  It’s not often that it’s actually true – that the wine is globally bench-marked, and that is has a pedigree to go along with a measured assessment.

Steak tartare prepared with Thomas George Estates Russian River Valley olive oil.

I’m not one for exaggeration.

This is a 75% Garnaxa (Garnacha / Grenache), 25% Syrah blend of translucent garnet wine with deeply herbal aromas of sour cherry, flowers, light moss, and umami.  We opened it up and let it unwind for a good two hours, so by the time we got to the first course, it was showing a beautifully married berry, herb and violet profile.

Pan-seared, Vancouver Island raised steaks topped with herbed butter, and lentils with eggplant and mint.

The palate is dry with good acidity and flavours of cherry, berry, wet stone, soft purple flowers, herbs, and a lemon balm-like sorrel, all on a bed of basalmic. Tannins are velvety, and the construction of the broad body pulls through to support the long finish.

The Bodegas Maestro Sierra Amontillado helped the chef and sous chef make it through to service.

Deliciously elegant, seamless and well built, it needed about 2-3 hours in the decanter and glass to relax, but when it did, it was Outstanding.

Seared zucchini with smoked Croatian mussels.

We paired this bottle with steak tartare, pan-seared Vancouver Island raised steaks topped with herbed butter, lentils with eggplant and mint, and zucchini and smoked mussels for an unforgettable dining experience.

Posted in Grenache / Garnacha, OTHER, RED, Shiraz / Syrah, Spain | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pinot Gris, Unsworth Vineyards, Vancouver Island VQA, BC, 2016, 13.5% abv. C$21

“Oh, I didn’t know they grow grapes on Vancouver Island.  In Canada!  Really?”

And so it goes with the skepticism.  Yes, believe it (or not), vinifera grapes are being grown on Vancouver Island.

Really though, it shouldn’t be so much of a stretch for anyone who has any sense of geography.

We’re talking significant micro-climates on an island the size of Taiwan off Canada’s west coast that has the mildest average climate in the country, and receives 40% less rain than the Lower Mainland.

It’s no wonder then that it’s more than possible to grow excellent quality grapes, and to craft delicious wines from them.

So, if you’re local, pick up a bottle.  If you’re not, check in with me and maybe I can get one to you.  Either way, give this one a try.

On the eyes, it’s a very pale lemon with delicate aromas of nectarine, citrus and lemon grass with rocks.

The palate is dry with good acidity and flavours of more nectarine, lime zest, pink grapefruit, dried herb and rocks.  This is all complimented by a kick of significant almond on the back end.

A WSET Good plus Canadian wine, eh.  Available at leading restaurants, private liquor stores throughout BC, and at the winery.

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Blanc de Pacs, Parés Baltà, Organic, Penedes DO, Spain, 2014, 11.5% abv, C$21++

IMG_6911 In keeping with my recent attempts to let you know about well-priced AND delicious wines, here is another one to try.

I often go to Everything Wine because of their always impressive selection of easy-on-the-pocket-book, unusual varietal, Spanish wines.

The Parés Baltà Bodega produces wines from 100% guaranteed organic grapes grown on its Demeter certified biodynamic vineyards.  How great is that?  Organic and biodynamic – and only C$21!

They’ve been making wine since the 1790s and this is one of their entry level white blends made of the 3 varietals combined in Cava – Parellada, Xarel-lo and Macabeo – but in a still wine (no bubbles).

Pale gold in colour, it has aromas of rocks, grapefruit, lemon and yellow apple.

On the palate, it’s dry with juicy acidity and flavours of lemon zest and pomelo with apples, some minerality, and a touch of rubber from the Xarel-lo.

The only complaint may be a slightly watery mid-palate, but this is a lovely little wine.  Balanced with tender alcohol at only 11.5%, you can and should drink this one all day long.  It punches way above its weight in terms of price too.

The verdict?  There’s no way to lose – WSET Good plusbueno!

Posted in Macabeu, OTHER, Parellada, Spain, WHITE, Xarel-lo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Riesling, Pewsey Vale, Individual Vineyard Selection, Eden Valley, South Australia, 2016, 12.5% abv, C$20+

Here’s another wine with an awesome price tag that is not only delicious, but is readily available everywhere.

This one hails from Australia – land of kangaroos, koalas, heat waves, and Shiraz, right?

Well, actually no, mate.

Australia is more than a one trick pony country, to be sure.  As a Canadian, I should not be surprised by this; after all, we Canadians are familiar with such stereotypes.  We all make ice wine, live in igloos and work as lumberjacks – not.

In fact, Australia encompasses all major macro-climates – including alpine, desert, Mediterranean and Bordeaux style, maritime environments. And yes, while the Shiraz, GSM and reds are to die for, Australia is just as adept at cool climate, white varieties such as Chardonnay, Semillon and in this case, Riesling.

This Eden Valley winery was first established in 1847 by Joseph Gilbert, an Englishman who jumped at the chance to sail to a new life and 15,000 acres of land just 40 km outside of Adelaide in South Australia.

He named his property Pewsey Vale after his English homeland and proceeded to plant what was the very first vineyard in the Eden Valley at an altitude of 440-490 m in the cool hills surrounding the Barossa Valley (that lies directly to the north).

The vines were abandoned for a while but re-invigorated in the 1960s.  They’re now organic and farmed using biodynamic principles.  And oh, this is cool – all the vines at Pewsey Vale can be traced back to the original 1847 plants.

Eden Valley is particularly famous for its lime-accented Rieslings, and this one is pale yellow-green showing a nose with great minerality, citrusy lemon and lime, and stone fruit.  There’s a tiny bit of petrol if you like that (I do!), but if you aren’t looking for it, you are unlikely to notice.

The palate is dry and juicy with flavours of pink grapefruit, bergamot, lemon zest, white pear, and a touch of clover honey.

WSET Very Good and a great deal at only C$20++.  It’s well known and commercially available everywhere, but organic, biodynamic and delicious.  You could even age it if you want to for about 5 years because of the acidity.

I recommend, however, that you enjoy it now!  You can buy it at 46 of the BC Liquor Stores and many of the privates- and this wine is also shipped to the UK, Europe, USA and rest of Canada.


Posted in Australia, Riesling, WHITE | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tempranillo, Anciano, 7 Year Gran Reserva, Valdepeñas DO, Spain, 2008, 13% abv, C$13.49+

I love receiving comments and talking with you after you read my posts.  Some of you like the pictures, others the wine notes.  Many of you wonder if perhaps, just perhaps, it is possible that I drink just a little too often…

But almost all of you say many of the bottles are too expensive or hard to find.

Fear not, dear readers.  I hear you!

I decided long ago when I began this wine journey to drink small production, organic, and/or biodynamic wines whenever possible.  I find the way they’re made and the people who make them interesting, the way they taste generally better than mass produced wines which have more commercial yeasts, additives, and preservatives, and their impact is less negative on the environment.

However, I also know that not everyone is as curious about turning over the proverbial rocks to source those cool wines – especially when you can’t run down to the store and buy a bottle for dinner!

So, with that in mind, I’ve gone looking for easy-to-find, but also delicious-to-drink bottles, and I’ve got a few lined up to tell you about.

The first is one you can get virtually everywhere on the planet – in fact, it is exported from La Mancha, Spain (south of Madrid) to more than 25 countries.  In BC, you can find it at all 195 provincial liquor stores and most of the privates.  Yes, they make that much of it.

Most wine that there is that much of is not stuff I’d normally be telling you to try.  However, this wine has a few things going for it that makes it different.  First, it’s available everywhere, and second, it’s made from Spain’s most popular – and quaffable – red grape,  Tempranillo.

Affordability is the third attribute of this wine.  This is not a bottle to be held up as one of the great benchmark wines of the world.  But, it is a good quality, reasonably priced drink that is a smoking deal.

Fourth, Spain has some of the best wine aging laws in the world and ‘Gran Reserva’ means they’ve kept it in a combination of stainless steel and then barrel (18 months) for a minimum of 5 years – but the 7 year Gran Reserva has been aged an additional 2 for a total of 7!  Bonus for us, they’ve done all the work.

This wine is translucent garnet and has a nose of field berry and cherry, with purple plum, basalmic and vanilla pod. The palate is dry but still fruity, so there is a perception of sweetness.  Flavours show more red and purple fruit – deep plum with berries – tobacco, vanilla and leather – there’s even some dried fennel.  The tannins in this slightly rustic, but still fresh wine, and will help it stand up to meat dishes or charcuterie boards.

Anciano also makes a 10 year Gran Reserva (for only $2 more at C$15.50), as well as a 1.5 litre Magnum of the 7 year Reserva (C$25) which would be great fun to bring out at a party (one Magnum is the equivalent of two regular bottles).

I actually preferred the 10 year Gran Reserva – it was a deeper and broader version of the 7 year Gran Reserva with more intense black cherry and licorice, and a slightly fuller body.  I can’t think why you wouldn’t pay $2 more for that bigger experience. 

The 7 year Gran Reserva is an honest WSET Good wine that’s available everywhere, is great value for money, is made from a grape easily enjoyed on its own or matched to food, and has solid character.  But I think the WSET Good plus 10 year Gran Reserva is the real show stealer.

Let me know what you think!



Posted in OTHER, RED, Spain, Tempranillo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Viognier, Maison Denuzière, Aphrodite, Condrieu AC, France, 2014, 13% abv, US$50

There are just 500 acres of vines in the French appellation of Condrieu – it’s very petite – and the only grape allowed to grow there is a specific clone of Viognier.

A different Viognier clone is used throughout the rest of the world, but these ‘old world’ ones are said to produce particularly special wines, and as a result, Viogniers from tiny Condrieu have a little bit of an aura.

Most reviewers agree the majority of Condrieu’s wines should be enjoyed within 3 years of bottling, so we were right on schedule with this example.

And what a lovely one it is.  It’s named after Aphrodite who – if you can’t remember grade 4 social studies – was the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation.  Um, yeh…

Truthfully, Aphrodite was a bit of a player who got herself and others into a lot of trouble.  Sometimes that happens with wine, but that’s a different blog.  Still, we could certainly say this wine brings a lot of pleasure!

Delicious and worthy of the US$50 tag, it’s a pretty shade of straw with intense aromas of ripe stone fruit, beeswax, and white flowers. The palate is where it absolutely pops – summer ripened peaches and nectarines mingle with honeysuckle and white blossoms.

Many Viogniers are thin, flabby, and a little green, but this one is juicy and voluptuous – Aphrodite-like, in fact.

It’s a dry wine, but one that gives off a floral, honeyed disposition and as a result, goes well with cheese like the ones shown here – camembert and asiago, and even the blue when combined with a slice of dried mango or fig.

I picked up this WSET Very Good bottle at Total Wines, Seattle – enjoy!


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Syrah, Alban Vineyards, Patrina, Edna Valley, California, 2013, 15.5% abv, US$50

People often ask me, “What is your favourite red wine?”

Syrah, hands down.

But, not just any old Syrah.  It has to be well made – and this one is.

You. Must. Drink. This.

Alban Vineyards is located in Edna Valley – close to San Luis Obispo – down the California coast from Monterey and Carmel and north of Santa Barbara.

Alban Vineyards isn’t certified biodynamic or organic, but they’re careful with the land, and this translates to the quality of their wines – the fruit and flavours are pristine.

Instead of spraying herbicides, they have a herd of sheep that roam the vineyards between harvest and bud break eating the grasses and weeds.  They don’t receive supplemental feed, so they’re very focused on keeping the ground around and between the vines clean and trimmed.

When the grapes ripen and closer to harvest, the sheep are removed and a drone is used with predatory bird calls to keep those birds and animals that would otherwise feast on the grapes away.

And, because of the drone, they don’t use a tractor, so there is no soil compaction – also great for the vines and the grapes.

These efforts have paid off – this wine is gorgeous.

Deep and inky purple on the eyes, the nose is intense black cherry with cedar, black licorice, blue fruit and a blush of violet thrown in for good measure.

The palate is dry with plush tannins and flavours of purple plum, blueberry and cassis, Dutch licorice, more cedar frond, black pepper, and slender leather belt.

With its long finish, it’s intensely delicious – and not hot at all, despite the high alcohol.

WSET Very Good Plus and a must find.  I got this bottle at @BirdRockFineWines in La Jolla.

Posted in California, OTHER, RED, Shiraz / Syrah | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment