Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saumer are for Summer??

well a very interesting thing just happened... I was tasting a wine, not really knowing what varietal it was, and I fell a little bit in love.

The wine is a touch bitey - a little sour pickle (if you will) making your lips pucker in an oh-so-good way with some very intriguing minerality.

Then I read about the wine and discovered that not only is it from one of the finest producers of wine in France, but one of the only grown on special "Tuffeau" soil in the Loire valley (about 150 km from Paris).

So. So maybe my palate isn't so wacky after all? Maybe I've got a shot at this sommelier degree.


clear visual: very pale straw/gold with the lightest hint of rose on the rim (the winery calls it silver). No legs.

clean nose: moderately intense notes of minerality (flint & Tuffeau), grapefruit, orange blossoms, diesel/petrol, ripe pear

clean palate: 0 dryness, moderate+ acid, 0 tannin,
moderately intense notes of:
  • vanilla
  • lemon
  • grass
  • petrol
  • flint & Tuffeau

moderate- body

moderate alcohol (12% but smoother like 11%)

very good length of 7-11 seconds

This is a wonderfully crisp and invigorating wine. This might sound silly, but if you like Polish dill pickles, or salt&vinegar chips - you will love this wine! It is full of wonderful levels and pairs well with an antipasto plater, or try a little gravlax on boursin (boursin goes well with everything).

2008, Les Pouches Saumur, 100% Chenin Blanc **BUY THIS @ $22**

Thursday, February 25, 2010

a little treat in a bottle

Every once-in-awhile, I get a present in a bottle that is worth saving... more often than not though, it's a present worth drinking.

So I got one of those presents from a friend and colleague, Ian from Desert Hills. And may I say "Thank-you Ian", what Desert Hills is releasing this year will continue to re-affirm their reputation as a producer of some of the finest wines BC has to offer.


clear visual;
fully intense deep burgundy core with a slight cherry rim and strong legs

clean nose;
fully intense notes of tobacco, black berries (currant, saskatoon), rich plum, green herbaceousness, deep earthy notes from the terroir and a hint of wild exotic floral

clean palate;
0 dryness, moderate acids, full tannins, fully intense flavors of tobacco, leather, deep black fruit & berries, chalk and terroir, a touch of spice - notably black and white pepper

full body
full alcohol (14% but incredibly smooth)
excellent length at over 10 seconds

This is a huge, rich wine that deserves your time and special attention! Savor it. Relax. Start the fireplace, open the wine, crack a good book and give yourself some down time. I don't even think I'll share this with friends until I've tried it a few times... it's just that good.

If you must share it with friends over a meal, try it with a grilled ribeye steak of unsurpassed quality. Throw a little fresh rosemary on the coals before the steak goes on, but don't cover the steak with any sauce - just enjoy beautiful beef and a phenomenal wine.

2007 Desert Hills, Proprietor's Reserve Malbec **BUY THIS @$30**

Thursday, February 18, 2010

soft & lushous SHIRAZ (I mean Syrah)

I was wondering if this wine needed a little decanting, or time with the bottle open, and so asked a friend who had drunk this wine before. He responded "open the bottle, have a few drinks, then you'll know how long it needs to breathe."

I love my homework!

-clear visual, moderate+ intense colors of deep garnet in the centre with a light cherry rim

-clean nose, moderately intense notes of good barnyard, plum, tobacco & cedar

-0 to 00 dryness, light (to light+) acids, moderate+ tannins with moderate+ intense flavors of cherry, red currant, bourbonny-vanilla (demarking American oaking... I would give an uneducated guess at 6 months to a year), rich terroir and chalk, green woodsy cedar

-moderate+ body
-full alcohol (I guessed 13% but it was actually 14.5%)
-very good length at 7 to 11 seconds

A wonderfully rich wine to savor on it's own, as I'm doing as I watch Canada win gold in the Olympics, or with food. Try it with landjagger sausage, boursin cheese aux-fine-herbes, and grilled focaccia.

2006 Montes Alpha Syrah, Colchagua Valley, Chile $30

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

what a wonder a breakthrough is !

have you ever tasted a red wine and tasted leathery notes? Well I've had my big breakthrough this week and discovered that this leathery note most often denotes oaking in Old World French Oak.

Yes sirree.

Well what about those notes of vanilla, caramelly-bourbon in a red wine? How about some American Oak?

Very cool to actually have the words - the vocabulary - to explain what I've been tasting for years... this is an exciting time we live in my friends! So many good wines, and so many wonderful people to share them with....

So here's a review of an incredibly well known German white:

clear visual, light intensity of pale straw with a slight golden rim

clean nose, moderate- intensity with notes of minerality, lemonbalm, mild vanilla

clean palate, 0 dryness, moderate+ acid, 0 tannin, notes of ripe pear, stonefruit (think Summerland apricots in August), a touch of grassiness

good body
light alcohol @ 8.5% (ice cider has more alcohol)
good length (7-10 seconds)

really rich flavor in this wine, completely contrasting with the stark mineral nose. I served it with sauteed fruit and vanilla frozen yogurt.

Dr L(oosen), 2007 Riesling, Germany $30

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Howdy all,

well we've all had that horrible experience of trying a vineyards.... errr.... shall we say "economical blend". Alright - call a spade a spade - it's their generic schlock. I have had that experience with JT (and so have many of you).


But JT wins awards at the Canadian Wine Awards every year. How can this be you ask? (so did I)... it's because they have Reserve wines (read: wines for people who actually like wine). Here is my review for a Jackson Triggs Reserve
clear visual, moderate+ intense colors of garnet

clean nose, moderate+ intense notes of; blackberry, plum, black cherry, oak (light leather), spice (cloves)

00 dryness, moderate- acid, full- tannins, moderate++ flavors of; blackberry, earth, plums, clove & pink peppercorn

moderate+ body
full alcohol (14.3%) but quite smooth already
full length of 10 seconds++

this is a rich wine with amazing levels for the price. This would be stellar with mole (Mexican savory chocolate dish).


Monday, February 8, 2010

Grenache & Garnacha

So I don't know anything about Grenache, but it's my next lecture (tomorrow) and so I decided to get in some early tasting to discover more about this grape.

I found out that it's one of the most planted grapes in the world. It's used in my wife's favorite red-wine blend; the famous blends of Chateauneuf du-Pape (80% is Grenache). It is also used as the base for most Australian ports (which I love and adore). It is also apparently very low in tannins - which truly befuddles me as I got huge tannins from this!


clear visual, moderate+ intense color of light garnet

clean nose, moderate+ intense nose of plum, blackberry, leather, wild game, some ash or coals and a hint of clove

00 dryness, moderate+ acids, moderate++ or full- tannins, moderate+ intense flavors of cherry, strawberry, currants, huge spice & a light taste of leather (which I discovered is linked with the oaking of reds)

the body is moderate-
the alcohol is a HOT 14.5%
palate length is 6-10 seconds

It's a good wine but holy crap it's a heavy glass of wine on it's own. I would try it with something like the beef Bourguignon I made today with CAB ribeye steak.... big beefy flavors, herbs & richness. I would want something rich and creamy to balance the huge tannins & flavors.

note: this wine develops sophistication and finesse with decanting. I know - decant a Grenache? Well I tried it and this wine is so much more drinkable after an hour (of vacu-vin it and drink it the next day). The heat in the alcohol softens and the subtle nuances are more easily discernable



clear visual, full intense deep ruby color

clean nose, moderately intense nose of: overripe plums, hibiscus, red roses, vanilla, hay/straw

0 dryness, moderate-- acids, moderate+ tannins, moderately intense flavors of: strawberry, chalk, something peaty and heirloom tomatoes

moderate body
moderate+ alcohol (12.5%)
good length of 8-12 seconds

I thought this was an easy-drinking red - very approachable with soft flavors (relatively rich compared to the price).


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Local Wineries in the Fraser Valley

Howdy all...
it was a rough week for yours truly and, as I have the most loving wife in the world, we ended up taking a day-trip through the Langley area & doing some tastings.
Wow were we impressed. A beautiful day filled with sunshine, good wines & unexpected joy. Thank you, my love.
  • a bit bite-y, with fresh bright acids & light citrus


  • a very Riesling nose of young stonefruit, brisk palate, lean


  • beautiful nose of wild flowers & exotic fruit (papaya, kumquat, pineapple)
  • incredibly well balanced acids and flavors of pineapple, lush apricots
  • this was the only wine we bought here - a steal @ $20 !

SYRAH 2006

  • nose is of the terroir; smoke, leather, a bit of "merde-de-poulet"
  • the acids were a touch sharp but it had a beautiful body with long length in the palate


  • nose had alot of blackberry with light smokey-cherries
  • big tannins, well balanced acids but a bit hot in the alcohol (it was 13.5% but I felt every %)
  • it had a neat palate of bruised plums, black roses & a touch of pepper
  • this is the only other wine I think I would really like to go back and buy - ($20ish) - but I would buy it to put it down for 12-24 months


  • soft nose of rich, red berries
  • long rich soft palate, but a bit flabby.... notes coming through of soft raspberries, black cherries. To me, it just lacked distinction.



  • nose of ripe pear & honeysuckle
  • well balanced soft acids & palate of pear, apricot & grass - incredible value for $13


  • nose of pink roses, grapefruit & clover honey
  • 1 sweetness with very well balanced acids and a lovely palate of rich-lush stonefruit a papaya at the end


  • an incredibly soft yet intense nose of apricots, gala apples & dandelions
  • fully intense palate of pineapples, crabapples and a whole bouquet of flowers

BLUFF 2007 (merlot, zweigelt, one other I can't remember)

  • interesting nose of cherry cola
  • dry crisp acids & moderate tannins with a soft palate of spartan apples, early summer cherries & slightly green plums

SYRAH 2006

  • a nose of red & black peppercorns, but also bell peppers
  • soft acids & long tannins; palate of blackberries, leather and a hint of bergamot


  • nose of rich Anjou pear and rich summer "mid-west" flowers
  • complex mouth with developed/balanced acids. long luxurious mouth of melons, gala apples & a touch of tangerine zest



  • moderate nose of peppery blackberries & mild leathers
  • crisp acidic palate, moderate body of crabapples & cherries
  • I found this very Gamay Noir style - I wanted to serve it cool (15C)


  • now this was my kind of Pinot! a completely different nose... currants were predominant
  • palate also had strawberries & some really good funky barnyard (oh DJ - is this "merde-de-poulet" I taste? lol)


  • we got to taste this from the barrel and oooohhh my but it tastes frikin phenomenal
  • big bright cherry nose
  • soft acids & rich tannins with a palate of blueberries & saskatoons
  • this will be one to buy!

SYRAH 2008

  • crisp nose with white pepper
  • a huge long palate that included licorice of all things!

Of course, anyone who has visited these places will be able to tell you what was the star of the day... Vista D'Oro.

Patrick & Lee were stellar as they guided Thyra & I not only through their wines, but their winery as well. They were even considerate enough to sample my LimonBaci and say a few kind words... we finished a tour and tasting that lasted over 90 minutes with the D'Oro: a lushly rich port styled wine (and walnuts).... honestly one of the finest examples of port-style I have ever had. Those who know my father know that's saying alot!

D'Oro is $50/bottle, and is an incredible buy at that price. I cannot think of buying such quality anywhere else for twice the money.... difficult to find for three times the money. Yes, I'm serious. If you are serious about port - try this. If you can find similar quality under $150/bottle I want to know because I can't remember such a wine. We have bought one bottle, and I imagine that we will replace that bottle each and every time we finish it, which will be often.

Visit Vista D'Oro, and the other wineries of the Fraser Valley... there is a richness right outside our doors!

Cin-cin! Slainte!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

happy Gruner!

A very good day to all, and happy Gruner!
Gruner is a very neat varietal... not the least reason being that it tastes very minerally (my own word). You all know that I've been grappling with the ability to "taste minerality" or more appropriately "describe a taste in wines as being mineral". So where better to go, than one of the epitomes of minerality.
A luscious grape, primarily from Austria & Czech (where it is 11% of all grapes grown for wine-making it the second highest)... apparently it has beaten world class Chardonnays in blind tastings! Very cool indeed, especially when one considers that it is almost unknown & rarely planted. Check out wikopedia - it tells a bit more.

clear visual, moderately intense of pale lemon

clean nose, moderate- intensity of dust, chalk, mild summer flowers (think dandelions), green grapes

00 dryness, full- acid, 0 tannin, moderate+ intensity in the flavors; chalk, gravel, granite, really under ripe stone-fruit (peaches, nectarines), honey, even a touch of petrol (or am I just over-tired?)

moderate body

moderate alcohol (11.5% but it tastes like 12+%)

full length of palate going 10 seconds and longer

So what a beautiful wine! I would serve it with mildly roasted chicken or pork (no heavy grilling), sauteed prawns & scallops, soft cheeses like boursin... it was truly a pleasure to drink it, and I feel like I spent $30 wisely.

Thank you again Marquis Wine Cellar!
Cin-cin & slainte!!