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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Pinot Blanc, Clos du Soleil, Grower’s Series, Middle Bench Vineyard, Similkameen Valley VQA, Okanagan, BC, 2015, C$20++

I love Pinot Blanc wines – they taste great and compliment all sorts of dishes – from pork to chicken, fish and pasta – with their great fruit and acidity.

Many will argue though that because Pinot Blanc isn’t a ‘noble’ grape, one shouldn’t spend too much time on it.

It’s not an easily manipulated grape like Chardonnay (the ‘Winemaker’s grape’), doesn’t have the curmudgeonly, challenging-to-grow reputation of Pinot Noir, nor does it appear virtually everywhere with watery and boring regularity as does Pinot Gris.

But as more than a few wine writers have argued (and you can count me in this group), this is a grape that should be named as the Okanagan’s white grape.  Others disagree, but I really think Pinot Blanc is the epitome of Okanagan fruit and flavour.  As long as it’s not a fat or flabby version (aim for one with acidity), it virtually screams, ‘I’m from the Okanagan.  Love me,” from the glass.

So, love it, you must and don’t overthink it; it won’t be overly complex, but it will enhance your dinner plate and shouldn’t break your bank.

On the eyes, this version is pale gold with aromas of ripe stone fruit, lemon verbena and a base of crushed rocks.  The palate is dry with juicy acidity and flavours of sweet, yellow pears, ripe peach, green tea and lemon grass.

Delicious, refreshing and clean.  I paired it with salmon, fresh roasted veggies and spinach pasta mixed with feta, parmesan, pesto and tomatoes for those at the dinner table who aren’t partial to reds.

WSET Good plus

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Cabernet Sauvignon, J.Lohr, Seven Oaks, Paso Robles, California, 2013, 13.5% abv, C$23

img_7971Although Jerry Lohr may have started out small in the 1970s, you could hardly say he stayed that way.

Today, his Californian wine empire encompasses vineyards in three regions (Monterey, Paso Robles and Napa) growing grapes on 3,633 acres and pitches wine to masses of consumers at four different quality levels.

The Estates tier is their entry level wine, and although it states Cabernet Sauvignon (77%) on the label, it’s a blend with Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petite Verdot, Syrah and 2% ‘other’ red varietals.

On the eyes, the wine is deep ruby but with light legs.  The nose is bramble berry with tobacco leaf, leather, sandal wood and baking spice.

The palate is slightly off dry and shows medium acidity and light tannins with flavours of field berries, sweet rolled tobacco, cocoa, leather, and clove.

WSET Good, basic and predictable with a 5 year drinking window (until 2018).

Posted in cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon / Blends, California, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, RED, Red, Shiraz / Syrah | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meritage, Clos du Soleil, Estate Reserve, Similkameen Valley VQA, BC, Canada, 2010, 14% abv.

A classic Meritage blend of Cabernet Franc 40%, Malbec 35%, Cabernet Sauvignon 20%, and Petit Verdot 5%, this wine hails from one of BC’s coolest biodynamic vineyards.  Clos du Soleil is located in a unique microclimate of a region – think rocks and glacial action, buttressed by soaring desert-like summer temperatures and snowbound winters.

On the eyes, it’s deep ruby with aromas of blackberry, bright cherry, mint leaf and clove.img_7834

The palate is dry with strained tannins and flavours of raspberry with more blackberry, dried leaf and some light leather glove.

WSET Very Good, this is a super clean and delicious wine.

If you are one of those people who keeps driving straight through the Similkameen Valley to Oliver and Osoyoos, you need to stop doing that.  Make the effort, stop, get out of the car, and visit them at Clos du Soleil.

Posted in British Columbia, Cabernet Franc, cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon / Blends, Malbec, OTHER, Petit Verdot, RED | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Monastrell, Goru, Organic, Vino Ecologico, Jumilla DO, Spain, 2014, 14% abv. C$20

thumb2-ego_organic-jpg-1375891919This is a red wine made from 100% Monastrell in the Jumilla DO southeast of Madrid between the Castile-La Mancha region and the Spanish Mediterranean coast.

Monastrell is also known as Mourvèdre (in France) and Mataro (in Australia) and 85% of the vines in Jumilla grow it.  It’s a little difficult to grow well – it likes to be in the hot sun, but also needs to have enough water so it doesn’t produce herbaceous or jammy wines.  The Jumilla soil has significant limestone which retains moisture to help with this.  Monastrell wines end up being high in alcohol if growing conditions aren’t perfect.

This wine comes from the Ego Bodega where the grapes have been certified organic.  Although it’s normal for Jumillan wines to be 100% Monastrell, it’s rare to find unblended versions in the rest of the world; usually it is combined with Grenache and Syrah for a better balanced sample.

On the eyes, it’s a deep purple with aromas of blackberry, cassis and baking spices.  This is odd; a Monastrell should show red fruit and game.

On the palate, it has been sweetened.  It has average acidity and light tannins (for Monastrell, they should be face-ripping) with more blackberry, cassis and oak.

The verdict?  It’s only  WSET Acceptable.  This wine has been manipulated and is not technically correct Monastrell.  I suspect they were hoping to cash in on the ‘organic’ label.  Give it a miss at the store!

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Brio, Glenterra Vineyards, Cobble Hill, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, 2014, 13% abv. C$25

Kudos.  Serious kudos.

You’ve got to give Glenterra credit.  Dry farming grapes in Cobble Hill on Vancouver Island in a sustainable manner is no easy feat and can’t be for the faint of heart.  They’re located in a tiny micro-climate, but it’s still a very wet part of Canada’s western most province, British Columbia.pasted-image-502

On 5 acres of land, Glenterra is using major canopy management to avoid mildew and botrytis (by pruning the vines properly, you ensure good, drying airflow) and they’re not using any chemical herbicides or pesticides.  Their wines are fermented without commercial yeasts, they’re unfiltered and in this one, there was no animal-based fining agent used (vegan friends, rejoice – you can drink this one guilt free).

The Brio is a red blend with 60% planted in 1992 of Dornfelder, Zweigelt, Fruhburgunder, Dunkelfelder, Pinot Meunier, Lemberger, Agria, Samtrot, Heroldrebe, Helfensteiner, Hungarian Blue, and Cabernet Franc.  These are grapes that are well suited to a damp climate.  The remaining 40% is Okanagan grown Merlot (40%).

The Brio is very clean and direct. On the eyes, its ruby tones have gorgeously deep aromas of blueberry, fieldberry and freshly turned dirt.

The palate is dry with strained tannins and flavours of tart blackberry and cherry, dried leaves and wet, black earth.

My only criticism is their use of a plastic cork.  Crunchy, tart, fresh and clean, this wine is WSET Good Plus.

Picture from Glenterra Vineyards (I recycled too quickly).

Posted in Agria, British Columbia, Cabernet Franc, Dornfelder, Dunkelfelder, Fruhburgunder, Helfensteiner, Heroldrebe, Hungarian Blue, Lemberger, Merlot, OTHER, Pinot Meunier, RED, Samtrot, Zweigelt | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Albarino, Vina Vedra, Val do Salnes, Rias Baixas DO, Spain, 2013, 12.5% abv, C$17++

IMG_6917Here’s another Spanish white for your sipping pleasure.

On the eyes, medium lemon with aromas of nose-tingling rocks and salinity with lemon zest.

On the palate, dry with medium plus juicy acidity and flavours of citrus – lemon, pomelo, pink grapefruit – salty, wet rocks and almond.

WSET Good plus – lovely little porch sipper, a little hollow in the middle, and not terribly complex, but tasty and excellent value for your dollar.  Goes great with jerk chicken and salad.

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