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.


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Marsanne, Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain, Collines Rhodaniennes IGP, France, 2013,12.5% abv, US$12

A grape from the northern Rhône, usually Marsanne is blended with Roussanne and/or Viognier. 

However, this wine is 100% Marsanne and from the IGP region Collines Rhodaniennes, which is also the home to some of the Rhone’s most famous wine areas (they overlap with this IGP, but make wines of a higher quality level).

On the eyes, it’s like most Marsanne wines – a deeper hue of gold – with a nose of stone fruit, nut, ginger blossom and rock dust.

The palate is dry with good acidity and flavours of pear, bitter almond, more ginger and light quince.  Although the finish is brief and the end of the palate a little hollow, this is a solid effort and even more so when you consider it is a measly US$12 (from Total Wine).

WSET Good and great with fish, chicken, pasta and cheese.

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Tire Bouchon, D’Ourea, Adrien Roustan, Vacqueyras, IGP, France, 2014, 13% abv.

Quick, I’m going to test your memory of high school French.  What does tire bouchon mean?  Corkscrew!

And you will want your corkscrew for this – so you can drink it all by yourself.

Certified organic and located in Vacqueyras, this is an IGP wine made from 60% Grenache with Carignan, Syrah and 10% each Aramon Noir and Oeillade Noire.  This is the reason it’s an IGP and not a Vacqueyras AOC wine – the last two grapes are not approved in the appellation.

The domaine is named after Adrien Roustan’s 450-500m high vineyards located in Gigondas on the south side of the Dentelles de Montmirail.  The name, ‘Ourea’ comes from the Greek god of mountains.

Adrien Roustan inherited some of his 18ha from his grandfather, but then went on to oenology studies in Beaune which culminated in an internship at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.  He then worked at Turley in Paso Robles, California before returning to France to create his wines.  These top notch work experiences should give you some sort of idea as to how well made this wine is.

The grapes for this wine are from 4.5ha in Vacqueyras.  They were fermented together in whole bunches with indigenous yeasts.  Translucent violet, the wine has seriously delicious aromas of blackberry, garrigue and minerals.

The palate is fruit forward, elegant, and dry with easy-to-take tannins.  Flavours include plum and ripe berry with dried herb, and violets, all on a bedrock of black licorice.

An absolutely delightful, WSET Very Good plus wine.

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Zweigelt, Upper Bench Winery, Okanagan Valley VQA, BC, 13.9% abv. C$26

Zwei what?  Zweigelt – a cross between St. Laurent and Blaufrankisch (aka Lemberger) created in 1922 in Austria.  In this case it’s being grown in the Okanagan at several estates.

This version is an estate grown, 100% Zweigelt, fermented in stainless steel and then cellared in neutral French oak for 16 months before bottling.

On the eyes, it’s transparent ruby with aromas of boysenberries and raspberries, cocoa nib and light leather with ash.

The palate is dry with light tannins and flavours of bumble berry, black cherry, blackberry, cinnamon, leather and smoke.

WSET Good plus.  A great gift from Ali that is lovely with BBQ hamburgers or especially with turkey (with its soft tannins).

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Marsanne, Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain, Collines Rhodaniennes IGP, France, 12.5% abv, US$12

Marsanne, a grape from the northern Rhône, is usually blended with Roussanne and/or Viognier.  Marsanne brings deep colour, nuts and spice, Roussanne offers floral tones, body and richness and Viognier, fruit.

This wine is 100% Marsanne though and is from the IGP region for Collines Rhodaniennes.  This is a lower quality region, but it’s also part of a larger catchment which forms the home to some of the Rhône‘s most famous wine appellations, such as Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu and Hermitage.

Nobles Rives is one solid effort, even more so for its low price of only US$12.

On the eyes, it’s like most Marsanne wines – a deeper hue of gold – with a nose of stone fruit, nut and ginger blossom with rock dust.

The palate is dry with good acidity and flavours of pear, bitter almond, more ginger and quince paste.

WSET Good with a short finish.  Solid choice for food, including fish, chicken, pasta and cheese plates.

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Tempranillo, Flor de Pingus, Ribera del Duero DO, Spain, 2013, 14% abv. US$90

Spain is where I fell in love with wine in 2009 on a business trip.

I’ve been back since to visit Priorat DOQ, and I’ll go to Jerez this year, but Ribera del Duero DO – where this wine comes from – is still on my wine bucket list.

Pingus is slang for Peter – the name of the Danish owner of this benchmark estate. I can’t afford the first line Pingus wines, but the second line called Flor de Pingus is within reach.

On the eyes, it’s translucent garnet with deep legs and aromas of berries, black cherry, light leather glove and clove.

The palate is dry with high acidity and even tannins with flavours of blackberry, black cherry, black plum, calfskin, black earth and bright minerality.

WSET Outstanding – subtle, balanced and beautiful.


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Chardonnay, Pur Prisme, Guiborat Fils, Grand Cru, RM, Cramant, Champagne AC, France, 12.5% abv. US$45

This Champagne was created by Richard Fouquet, a 5th generation vigneron and récoltant manipulant (someone who grows his own grapes, makes his own wine and markets them under his own name) in Cramant.

We visited Richard and his wife Karine in 2014 and continue to order and enjoy their wines.

On the eyes, this Grand Cru, 100% Chardonnay Champagne is pale gold with evenly distributed beads and a gentle mousse.  On the nose, aromas of lemon and pear mingle with shaved nut and crushed rock.

The palate is extra dry with deep acidity and flavours of lemon pith with yellow grapefruit and toasted almond.  The long finish is augmented by toffee and fresh French bread.

WSET Very Good plus.  Disgorged December, 2015 and purchased in Seattle, WA.

Picture credit: Mike Woods Photography

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