Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Featured Wines: Italy's Gateway Drug

If any of the wines in this week's Featured Wines column tickle your fancy, you can order them directly from Jordan by email (JCarrier@everythingwine.ca) or find him in the Vintage Room of Everything Wine's Morgan Crossing location in South Surrey.

By Jordan Carrier

Amarone della Valpolicella is an effective gateway drug to Italian wines: the lower acid, fuller body, lesser tannins and elevated fruits serve as a friendly entry point for those wine drinkers arriving from Napa or Australia. The indigenous Valpolicella grapes of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara (which all sound like mild rashes) can’t achieve that kind of concentration on their own, however, being naturally lighter and thinner-skinned, so the Veronese put them on a weight-loss program of sorts, called Appasimento. After harvest, the grapes are left to dry for a minimum of 3 months (although most houses go way longer) in a well ventilated room, where they lose over 60 percent of their water weight, concentrating the flavours and thickening the juice. Since the resulting wine is so big, and normal Valpolicella can be so comparatively dilute, the Veronese gave it the name Amarone, which means “Big and Bitter” (although it’d be more fun if it meant “Blood of the Slaughtered Raisin”). 

Here are some amazing examples:

Masi Mazzano/Campolongo di Torbe 2009
We don’t often look to Amarone to find expressions of Terroir. The extra drying process places another perceptive filter between the soil and the glass, and can add a sort of corrective sameness to the finished wine (vineyard/vintage gave you under-ripe grapes? No problem, dry them longer!). The legendary house of Masi Agricola, however, gives us a terrific Terroir lesson by bottling two sides of the same valley separately. The sunnier side, Campolongo di Torbe drinks decadently ripe and lush, while the eastern-facing Mazzano vineyard (dried and vinified exactly like Campolongo) boasts Northern Rhone-like structure and austerity, as well as super-charged cellar potential. This is Nerd Amarone, to be sure, but a great example of Where being more important that What or even How. Very little came into BC, this is what I could get:
Masi Mazzano 2009, 95 points Wine Spectator, 2 wooden 6-packs available, $151.99 +tax
Masi Campolongo di Torbe 2009, 94 points Wine Spectator, 2 wooden 6-packs available, $46.99 +tax

Tezza Corte Majoli 2011
A teeny tiny winery from the milder Valpantena area of Valpolicella, near Lake Garda, this is boutique Amarone at a mainstream price. Brothers Flavio, Vanio and Federico Tezza don’t spare the oak, using only older French barriques (24 months) to soften the texture, but the nose is what shines, here. Way-cool bits of dark cherry, prune, spice, cola and cedar are all competing for your nose’s attention, but the delivery is butter and the finish is like comfort food: sweet spice and toasty glycerine. No ratings yet for this 2011 vintage. 3 cases available, $51.99 +tax


Fasoli Gino Orgno 2009
I have never been run over by an Italian locomotive wrapped in a purple velvet blanket, and now I don’t need to be. Produced by a 4th generation Amarone family, Orgno can’t be called Amarone because it’s made out of organic Merlot, an international grape, and somewhat of a banned substance in Valpolicella. Merlot is already a full, concentrated grape even before appasimento, so the drying process is kind of like crossing the Ghostbuster beams: it’s unnatural and it’s going to knock down buildings. Huge ripe red fruits and hints of leather, truffles and licorice, everything you taste after tasting Orgno will taste like Orgno. 2 six-packs available, $128.99 +tax

Thursday, May 12, 2016

JoieFarm's 2015 Wines

We've written about Naramata Bench's JoieFarm many times over the years. The winery has gone through countless changes with partners and winemaking staff coming and going. The constant through all the chaos has been proprietor Heidi Noble and the high level of quality achieved by the winery's portfolio every vintage.

The 2015 wines are no exception, delivering expectation-matching quality to familiar labels BC Wine-lovers have embraced for a decade.

Below we showcase the 5, thus far released wines from the excellent 2015 vintage. 

All prices include applicable taxes.


JoieFarm 2015 Rosé - $21
A very consistent wine, year-to-year, with a distinct colour and profile offering juicy, red fruit and light, dried herbs on the expressive nose and the slightly, off-dry, textured palate where the residual sugar is balanced beautifully by tart cranberry acidity, light tannins and tangy citrus notes. Your go-to, feel-good rosé.
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JoieFarm 2015 A Noble Blend - $23

Primarily a Gewurztraminer-Riesling blend (47%-32% respectively) with smaller portions of Pinot Auzerrois, Pinot Blanc and a splash of Muscat and Schoenberger; an artful assemblage seeking balance and joy. JoieFarm's flagship wine fulfils its purpose and will put a smile on the face of even the most serious of curmudgeons thanks to its irresistible combination of off-dry Tropical-exotic fruit, tangy citrus acidity, cool mineral and savoury herb notes.
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JoieFarm 2015 Un-Oaked Chardonnay - $23
Sourced from two vineyards, one situated along the Skaha Bench and Joie's own vineyard on the Naramata Bench, this orchard fruit-infused Chardonnay is richly textured despite its lack of contact with oak during fermentation or élevage. Potent Jazz apple and tropical fruit acidity add a counter-balance to the weighty, glycerol-coated mouth feel, leaving a crisp finish where citrus peel and light spice notes linger.
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JoieFarm 2015 Pinot Blanc - $23
A delicious and aromatic Pinot Blanc sourced from St. Hubertus Winery's vineyard in East Kelowna. Peach and sweet melon aromas grace the layered nose with fresh flowers, apple skin and grape seed notes adding depth. The palate has rounded edges of plump orchard and melon fruit with a tangy core of citrus acidity and steely minerality. Lime zest lingers on the long finish.
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JoieFarm 2015 Muscat - $23
Sourced from the winery's home vineyard on the Naramata Bench, this Muscat will brighten the cloudiest of days with its cheerful, feminine profile of peach skin, nectarine, creamy lemon drop, sweetened flowers, grapes and light spice notes on the delicate nose and the slightly off-dry, well-balanced palate.
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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Best of BC: Sauvignon Blanc

BC Sauvignon Blanc has been good for a long time, however, only a handful of producers were giving the Loire Valley grape the proper attention to detail it deserves. This has changed over the past few years and therefore, we're happy to include it in our Best of BC section.

Also included are Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blends as this effortless pairing has helped popularize the tangy-stinky variety around the world.

Calliope Wines 2014 Sauvignon Blanc - $17
Pleasantly pungent, at first sniff, with fresh grass and baked lemon aromas supported by honey-crisp apple flesh and green apple skin notes. The (mostly) dry palate follows with citrus and apple-pear flavours and a fine vein of lime rind acidity and light, steely-mineral notes. Refreshing, crisp and memorable; excellent value.
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Stag's Hollow Winery 2015 Sauvignon Blanc - $17
A partially oaked (20% in 2nd fill French oak barrels), cool fermented Sauvignon Blanc with a lovely, graceful nose of tropical and citrus fruit, peach skins, cranberry scones and light grass aromas. A dry, vibrant palate follows with a nice combination of mouth-watering, citrus acidity and rich, textured flavours of passion fruit, apples, ripe peaches and lees.
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Maverick Estate Winery 2014 Sauvignon Blanc - $19
boisterous, fruit'n'acid driven Sauvignon Blanc with underlying fullness from rich, ripe apple and pear flavours and a touch of residual sugar. Refreshing, tangy citrus, light minerals, savoury wild herb and light lees characters add depth and complexity. The finish is long and well balanced with lingering spice and grapefruit peel notes. Has the structure and balance to hold for several years.
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Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars 2014 Sauvignon Blanc - $19
An intense Loire Valley-styled Sauvignon Blanc with a kiss of subtle oak supporting a mouth-watering profile of lemon zest, minerals and grapefruit aromas and flavours. The palate opens with a fairly full-ish mouth-feel with some hints of herbs, until waves of citrus and minerals liven things up and take over though to a moderate finish where citrus peel lingers
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Fairview Cellars 2013 Sauvignon Blanc - $20
The nose of this Sauvignon Blanc doesn't appear until the wine has warmed in the glass, which many of us won't wait to experience. If you do, it's a nose fuelled by apples, citrus and stonefruit aromas.Instead, we'll enjoy this tasty wine, with our favourite seafood dish or a hard cheese plate and appreciate the multitudes of textures on the palate.
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Burrowing Owl Estate Winery 2014 Sauvignon Blanc - $22
Nearing Fumé Blanc levels of richness on the delicious, blanketed nose of tropical fruit, ripe pear, lemon grass, sweet sage and crisp minerals. The palate is richly textured with sweet layers of orchard fruit flavours and others of lean, minerals and mouth-watering citrus acidity. The balance on the long finish sways ever-so-slightly towards sour. A touch of spice lingers through to the next sip.
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Black Hills Estate Winery 2014 Alibi - $25
A blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillon.delicious? Opens with a fruity nose of ripe, apricot, nectarine and white peach aromas; you want to jump into the glass and take a bite! The palate follows through on that desire offering up juicy, sweet orchard fruit flavours with a solid backbone of citrus acidity and minerals balancing out the fruit.
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Bench 1775 Winery 2014 Sauvignon Blanc - $25
Has the rawness and funk of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and the minerality and acidity of those from the Loire Valley. Delivers the 4 Gs of Sauvignon Blanc expertly: gooseberry, grapefruit, grass and gravitas. Add in some cool, river stone and warm, tropical fruit elements and you're left with a winner of a wine that can be enjoyed on its own or as a confident companion to seafood dishes.
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Le Vieux Pin 2015 Sauvignon Blanc - $30
The devil is in the details and this excellent Sauvignon Blanc is sinfully good. Each vintage is an exploration of the art of blending with the 2015 being sourced from vineyards in both the Southern Okangan and Similkameen valleys and separate lots using a range of fermentation vessels from stainless steel vats to neutral, oak barrels and even a kiss of new French oak.
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