Friday, November 3, 2017

Featured Wines: The U.S and Yah!

If the wine in this week's Featured Wines column tickle your fancy, you can order them directly from Jordan by email ( or find him in the Vintage Room of Everything Wine's newest location River District in South Vancouver (8570 River District Crossing).

The U.S and Yah!

Hi Everyone!

My trip to US wine regions last week was outstanding and unforgettable, but we did have to make a last minute change to our plans. Napa and Sonoma were originally on our itinerary, but with all of the devastation that this last month has wrought, we felt that imposing on their hospitality would be wrong, especially while so many people are still hurting, so we went further south (Paso Robles and Santa Barbara). I met with an Oregonian winemaker a couple days ago who showed me a video that a fellow winemaker from Sonoma had filmed from his backyard this week: a giant red nighttime blaze on a mountain with a bright yellow flaming core in the middle of it. California is still warm and dry, and new fires are still a risk.

There has, perhaps logically, been a bit of a run on Napa/Sonoma wines lately, but I’m not sure it’s necessary. Nearly everything but Cabernet was harvested before the fires, wineries that weren’t damaged (which is most of them) periodically lost power and thus control over the speed and nature of their fermentations, but wholesale vintage spoilages haven’t been widely reported – winemakers are, by nature, adaptable. We still have two or three vintages in bottle waiting to come to market before we get to 2017, so any shortage that this year may incur wouldn’t be felt for a while. If you need a reason to stockpile Californian wine (besides its deliciosity), do it because NAFTA may fall apart and we’ll be smuggling in Caymus over the Cascades on the back of a mule.

“But won’t the prices go up?” I’ve been asked, more than a few times. Yep, for sure. They were going to anyway. Next year many North Coast wineries will roll from an outstanding vintage (2014) into another perfect vintage (2015), two years after the vintage that Robert Parker called Napa’s best ever (2013). The international markets have noticed and worldwide demand has skyrocketed, pushing prices into classified Bordeaux territory. Napa and Sonoma belong to the world now, but that’s no reason to stop visiting them or to stop drinking their amazing wines – in fact they’ll need us to do that more than ever, going forward (and 2015 was a stellar vintage up and down the west coast as well).

Here are some great US red wines for your kind consideration:

Sea Smoke 2015 “Ten” Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, California
This Pinot wants to eat your Pinot. When you drive through the Santa Ynez valley in daylight, on the other side of the mountains from Santa Barbara, you wonder how Pinot Noir can even survive here: blazing sun and 38C weather (in late October!). But at night the Pacific winds flush all the hot air out of the valley to provide those cool nights that Pinot adores. The day’s sun ripens these grapes to Wrestlemania proportions, however, and the mighty Sea Smoke “Ten” (which is the number of fingers you have in the air when you surrender to it) is a perfectly huge specimen. Chocolate, cola, and squished blueberries are surrounded by floral notes; there is ample elegance here on the finish, it’s not just clumsy power, and the finish skirts perpetuity. Almost viciously popular and rare, this is the largest amount of this cult wine that I’ve ever been able to offer. No ratings found (yet), 5 6-packs available, $162.49 +tax

Bootleg 2013, Napa Valley, California
Offered before in a previous vintage, this 2013 Cabernet-driven blend (Petite Sirah and Zinfandel are vocal passengers) drives into Prisoner territory and then leaves it in the dust. Deep, round and surrounded by just enough structure to hold it in, with crème de cassis and minty notes gently drawing you into the Pleasure-Dome. Sourced from the fabled Stagecoach vineyard before Gallo bought it (and before it partly burnt, alas), Bootleg is richly dark and unexplainably great value. Would have been a Back Up The Truck wine if I’d been able to get more. 94 points Robert Parker, 6 cases available, $54.49 +tax

Elk Cove 2015 La Boheme Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon
The Willamette valley is stunning in October, the Pinot leaves turn yellow and the hills look like their grandma knit them a sweater. Planted in 1985, the La Boheme vineyard is one of the highest up in the valley (800ft elevation), and has provided the Campbell family of Elk Cove (I’ve been there and found it bereft of both elks and coves) with gorgeous fruit that truly epitomizes the word Pretty. Some of the most aromatic, expressive Pinot in Oregon is grown here, I smelled it for 20 minutes before drinking it, and the ideal 2015 vintage boosted the red raspberry freshness to mingle with the violets and topsoil. You could cellar this reliably, but you could also work hard and do homework all your life without ever learning to finger-paint. I’m drinking this now (after a long sniff). 92 points Robert Parker, 3 6-packs available, $74.99 +tax

Caymus 2014 Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California

Certainly no stranger to these pages, or to most of your cellars, the “Napa Cab That Got Everyone Into Napa Cabs” returns with intensity and body to spare. Black Twizzlers duel with red ones on a cedar plank by throwing ripe blackberries at each other until they both fall down, bottled. 6 wooden 6-packs available, $199.99 +tax

Friday, September 29, 2017

Try This, Cellar That - Le Vieux Pin Syrah

About seven years ago, Black Sage Bench's Le Vieux Pin began to re-brand itself as a Rhome Valley homage and slowly replaced their popular Burgundy varietal wines with multiple Syrah labels and other Rhone-inspired wines. Here are two Syrah releases from 2017 to compare; one for now and one for later.

Try This...

Le Vieux Pin 2015 "Cuvée Violette" Syrah - $29
Sourced from multiple, distinct Southern Okanagan Valley sub-appellations and blended together with 1% Roussanne to create a feminine Syrah with cherry and black raspberry fruit, aromatic, floral notes and a layer of sensual, savoury characters: white pepper, vanilla, green olives and sweet incense throughout.
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Cellar That...
Le Vieux Pin 2014 Équinoxe Syrah - $24
Always in the debate for BC's best Syrah, this year's Équinoxe benefited from the near-perfect 2014 vintage (for big reds) creating a stunning wine of refinement and powerful elegance. Densely packed, yet approachable with layers of black cherry, ripe blackberry, white pepper, red plum, pipe tobacco, nectar, mild licorice and violet notes on the enchanting nose and the spicy, cola'n'cocoa nibs infused palate where ultra-fine, slightly smoky tannins and smooth, berry acidity add structure and length.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


If the wine in this week's Featured Wines column tickle your fancy, you can order them directly from Jordan by email ( or find him in the Vintage Room of Everything Wine's newest location River District in South Vancouver (8570 River District Crossing).


(Sung to the tune of the theme song of Shaft)

Who’s the thick-skinned grape that’s a hit with all the folks who rate? (Cab!) You’re darn right.
Who has the tannin that could do a lesser man in? (Cab!) Cab you dig it?
Who’s got body so mighty, it slays all other varieties? (Cab!) Right on.
It’s a complicated grape, but no one understands it like…

Honestly I’m surprised you let me get this far, my apologies to all those who are still reading this email. Here are a few 2014 vintage Cabernet-based wines from the U.S. and France:

Joseph Phelps 2014 Insignia, Napa Valley
One of Napa’s Crown Princes, from the middle of the region’s golden streak of vintages, ironically elevated by the long drought. I had the opportunity to taste this vintage alongside the previous 2013, and the differences are slight but noticeable. The ’13 has a more friendly fruit weight but the ’14 is structured, dense and timeless, perhaps due to the rare omission of Merlot in that year’s blend. As close as Insignia has come to the “classic Napa” style in some time, with chocolate and coffee notes bracing the “Night Of A Thousand Berries” nose that is so characteristically Phelps. 2014 is Motorhead compared with 2013’s Elton John, focused and hardcore, not really caring what you think of it… yet. Another Insignia for the ages. 97 points Vinous, 97 points James Suckling, 96 points Robert Parker, 4 6-packs available, $354.99 +tax

Sheridan 2014 “L’Orage” Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, Washington State
I’m now conditioned to salivate every time I see a 2014 Washington wine, but L’Orage additionally brings a kind of Rutherford-y thickness to the flinty structure usually prominent in Washington Cabs. Blended with a nano-smidge of Cabernet Franc, this beast is all sourced from owner/winemaker Scott Greer’s hilltop estate in the Yakima Valley where, if the finish of this wine is any indication, he must also produce rocket launchers. There is nothing restrained or conservative about the nose and body -  dark berry preserves stirred with cinnamon sticks and pipe tobacco baked into a weird pie - the “classic Washington” vibes only enter at the end, where the fine tannins try to contain the glycerin, the same way a kiddie pool tries to contain a bunch of otters. Wondrous stuff, this. 96 points Robert Parker, 3 6-packs available, $73.99 +tax

Chateau Landiras 2014, Graves, Bordeaux
Ok, I’m cheating because this is a little over half Merlot, but the Cabernet Sauvignon in this blend punches well above its percentage and commands the nose, bursting with cassis, licorice, kirsch and fresh redcurrants. The lift and tannic structure on the finish reveal the youth of the vintage (the French would call this finish “crunchy” because they are French), but Landiras, a new-ish winery started by Bordeaux architect Michel Pelisse, can drink well now with food, or cellar for another decade. Terrific value on this, with a body to match. We’ll be pouring this on Saturday at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room if you’d like to try it (we’ll also be pouring a few other Bordeaux wines TBA). 95 points Decanter, Platinum Medal Decanter World Wine Awards, 10 cases available, $42.99 +tax