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.

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Chardonnay, Jordan, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, 2014, 13.7% abv. US$36

‘Twas the day before Christmas, and there I was, trying to decide what wine to pair with the red pepper and spinach quiche.

A Riesling, a Pinot Gris?  Traditionalists be damned.  Nope, I went with this stellar Chardonnay.

I’d been wanting to drink this with someone worthy since acquiring it at the Jordan Winery in summer 2016.  Now was my chance!  If you ever have the opportunity to visit Jordan, do so.  This link will show you why it’s an experience that mustn’t be missed.

With its golden tone, and aromas of spiced yellow apple and yellow plum, apricot and white peach, this Chardonnay is fruity, yet elegantly subtle.

The palate is dry and beautifully juicy with flavours of golden apple, lime zest, lemon verbena, and honey with quince and oak.

It shone – juicy acidity cut through the creamy egg, and the fruity palate was perfect with the apple and plum chutney.

Complimented by a long and balanced finish, this wine is WSET Very Good Plus



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Pinot Noir, Poseidon Vineyard, Primo’s Hill, Los Carneros, Napa Valley, California, 2014, 14.3% abv. US$49

On a trip to California while on the hunt for Napa and Sonoma wines, we found this bottle of Primo’s Hill Pinot Noir from Poseidon Vineyard at @BirdRockFineWine.

Only 125 cases were made of this from fruit grown on two acres of pebbly slopes facing east and north in the Los Carneros AVA.

Take a minute to look at a picture of their main vineyards here.  You can see Poseidon is literally located at sea level where the Carneros Creek and Napa River meet the northern tip of San Pablo Bay.  This cool fact is memorialized on their bottle and the end of each cork.

The vineyards were planted by Nicholas Molnar, an Hungarian immigrant to California in 1973 when planting vines in Carneros was really not the thing to do.  Thankfully, he didn’t care and planted them anyway.  Today his partners and sons continue his work.

This region has since become renowned for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir precisely because the nights and early mornings are cooled by breezes coming off the bay and through the Petaluma Gap.  And interestingly, this is one of the few vineyards in the world that can be accessed by boat directly from the sea – hence the name Poseidon.

On the eyes, this wine is translucent ruby with aromas of baked cherry, cedar bark strips, lavender and sandalwood.

The palate is elegant and dry with flavours of more juicy red fruit – red plum, pomegranate and cherry – cola, sage, crunchy tarragon, and a little leather glove to slide into from the Hungarian oak barrels used.  They’ve owned the Kádár cooperage in Hungary for 20 years and the barrels are brought directly from there.

With its lovely long finish and rounded palate, to its beautifully resolved tannins, this is seriously delicious wine.  Find it in California, at the winery or at specialty wine stores like Bird Rock Fine Wine.

WSET Very Good plus

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The Bub, Haywire, Okanagan Valley VQA, BC, 12% abv, 2014, C$29

Bottle fermented and aged in the traditional method, this bubble was purchased by daughter Jess.  I seem to have trained the child well – at least in that she has good taste in wine.  It’s topped with a crown cap, so bring along your bottle opener. 

Made of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, on the eyes, it’s pale gold with a boldly, effervescent mousse.

On the nose, there’s lime, Golden apple and Granny Smith with toast.  The palate is bone dry and shows flavours of lemon curd with lime, toasted nut and faint toffee.

WSET Very Good and beautifully balanced, this is a perfect wine for all sorts of toasts, and hey, that price point doesn’t hurt either.  Bring along a bottle to that New Year’s party you’re going to this weekend – you’ll be popular (well, moreso than usual!).

Readily purchased all over BC at private and VQA stores, or direct from the Okanagan based winery.

Posted in British Columbia, Chardonnay, OTHER, Pinot Noir, Sparkling Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GSM, Henry’s Seven, Henschke, Barossa, South Australia, 2014, 14% abv., US$45

Here is an Aussie Shiraz (60%), with Grenache, Mataro (also known as Mourvèdre), and a splash of Viognier blended in.  It was made at Henschke in honour of Henry Evans who planted the first vineyard there in 1853.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like in the Australian outback in the 1850s, but I’m sure things have changed somewhat since then.

On the eyes, it’s a deep ruby with a superbly fragrant nose of violets with deep plum, great minerality and some sweet straw.

On the palate, it’s dry with more plum, blackberry, and black cherry, light licorice and dried grass, and distinct Chinese five spice powder.

WSET Very Good – elegant, aromatic and delicious – pair with chili, tacos, steak or anything that you want your wine to stand up to.  This beauty can more than handle it.
Purchased at Seattle’s Total Wine and More.


Posted in Australia, Grenache / Garnacha, Mouvedre, Monastrell, RED, Shiraz / Syrah | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment