Thursday, October 11, 2018

Tuscany in Photos - Part 1: San Gimignano

A recent trip to Italy provided me 5 days in Tuscany to sample the regional delights: wine, food and eye-catching physical beauty.

Photo Credit: Liam Carrier 2018
San Gimignano, which roughly translates into English as "No, my tower is highest!" is a gorgeous, hilltop (is there any other kind?), walled city dating back to the 3rd century. There are many towers built by competing aristocratic families, primarily during the 14th and 15th centuries, forming an unmistakable, beautiful landscape view-able from nearly all aspects of the surrounding countryside.

Photo Credit: Liam Carrier 2018

There are many excellent restaurants and cafes in the walled city (closed to outside vehicle traffic, BTW. You must park in one of the several public car parks and then walk into town - bring comfortable shoes). Two in particular I can recommend for both the quality of the food and the service are:

Le Vecchie Mura

Photo Credit: Liam Carrier 2018

Opens for dinner earlier than most of the other high-end restaurants to allow patrons to soak-in the stunning views from the outdoor, open-terrace section (nighttime view is still impressive, but the rolling hills of the surrounding countryside are best viewed in daylight).

As in most Italian restaurants I've visited you will find a simple, condensed menu with familiar-sounding dishes presenting with a unique twist and, generally, focused on a local specialty. Anything with wild boar is a must if you've never had it.

You will also find a reasonably priced wine list. In Italy, the wine in restaurants is only nominally marked-up and likely to be focused on the local DOC or DOCG specialties, along with a few selections from neighboring provinces. Take full advantage.

Bel Soggiorno

Similarly, Bel Soggiorno's menu is short and sweet. Try the suckling pig with a bottle of the Montenidoli Rosato and find a match made in heaven.

A few more photos of "San Gimi" to entice you:

Photo Credit: Liam Carrier 2018

Photo Credit: Liam Carrier 2018

Photo Credit: Liam Carrier 2018

Photo Credit: Liam Carrier 2018

Photo Credit: Liam Carrier 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Get to know...Michal Mosny

Photo credit: Penticton Herald (with his wife Martina)
Michal Mosny
Vintner, Winemaker's Cut
Oliver, BC

Michal has been the consulting winemaker and general manager for Summerland's foreign-owned, Lunessence Winery and Vineyard, for the past two years and is shepherding his own label, Winemaker's Cut.

Get to know Michal and get to know the wines of Winemaker's Cut a bit better...

Key wines to try:
Sauvignon Blanc: 2016, 2017

Syrah: 2015, 2016

What do you enjoy most about making wine?
Winemaking is my life. I enjoy it as a whole, starting in the vineyard each winter/spring until bottling, labelling and sharing wine with friends and customers. I enjoy working with mother nature, learning to understand the vineyard and terroir. Especially enjoy to work with same vineyards for long time to see the differences between vintages, how our work in the vineyard reflects in wine and how we learn to understand each vineyard. And there is lots to learn every year and that is fascinating.

What inspired you to become a winemaker?
I was inspired by the fact, that there is some tradition in making wine in our family that goes back to France. I love the whole life around growing grapes then helping them to become wine. Vineyard is one of the most important part of winemaking to me. I believe that the decisions you make in the vineyard reflects in wine more than anything you do in the cellar. Winemaking is a different world, different matrix in the world of nature. Never ending search for that perfect formula for your wine or vineyard where the variables are constantly changing.

What causes you the most stress during harvest?
I am trying to enjoy each harvest without stress. But when it comes to important steps during harvest, fun is over, grapes and wine are on the first place. The biggest stress is mostly when the weather changes unexpectedly and we have to rush picking. 

What is your favourite and/or least favourite wine cliché?
That is tough because many favourite cliche became my least favourite over the years seeing how they are being miss-used by “marketing". But my most favourite always is: In wine is the truth.

Away from the cellar and vineyard, what’s your greatest passion in life?
Spending time with my wife Martina and our dog Milo and traveling, exploring new cultures, places, wines, food.

After a long day of work in the cellar, what do you turn to for refreshment?
A glass of wine that we are making. It is very rewarding and keeps me being motivated.

If you could take credit for one other BC wine on the market today, which would it be and why?
With all respect to other BC wines, being busy in the vineyard and cellar, I have absolutely no time to tour wineries or taste wines from other BC wineries. But my choice would be a wine from small-mid size winery owned by a passionate winemaker.

Of the wines in your portfolio, do you have a favourite food pairing to go with one of the wines?
Winemaker’s CUT Sauvignon Blanc 2016 and sable fish. Heaven in my mouth.

What do you think will be the next big trend in BC wine over the next few years?
For us, small wineries, vintners, the best is to stay focused on wine because at the end, that is all that matters. I wish wine will become free in Canada one day and not considered as “bad alcohol” that has to be regulated.

Screwcap or cork? What’s your preference?
It all depends on wine and the vineyard the grapes are coming from. I like to make wines that go under cork. But I like screwcup on some types of wine.

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2018

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Featured Wines: Under a Tuscan Salad

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).
Under a Tuscan Salad

Throughout the year I tend to collect small batches of yums – not a big enough buy to write a whole story about, but supremely tasty finds none the less. The time has come to show my cards and spill the beans: I’m sitting on a pretty tidy Tuscan Salad right now. I’ve Supertuscans and DOCG wines, some to drink and some to time-capsule, some are returning champions and some are newbies - since it’s a long list I’ll get right to part one:

Piaggia Il Sasso 2015 Carmignano DOCG
Is this Tig at less than half the price? Carmignano, that ancient village north of Florence, is less famous today than it was during the Renaissance, when it was the pastoral playground of the ruling Medici family.  Despite its local renown (it was the first Italian village where Cab was allowed under DOCG regs) its wines have been largely absent from our shores, which is a shame because here be dragons. Spark, sizzle and heft, 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon (similar to Tignanello’s make-up). Some Carmignanos want to turn you into a better, leaner soldier but Il Sasso just wants to give you a neck rub and hear about your day, the body here is more luscious than usual and the floral, dark fruited nose doesn’t require a degree in Latin to get. If I still have some, we’ll be pouring this on Saturday at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room if you’re curious. Herbs and cocoa powder round off the finish, holy cheese-balls 2015 was a great vintage there. 95 points Vinous, 3 6-packs available, $48.99 +tax

Canalicchio di Sopra 2013 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
A returning champion (in boxing announcer voice): the “Magic From Montalcino”!! The “Presto right from the UNSECO Site”!! My allotment of this iconic, traditionally modern (modernly traditional?) Brunello shrinks every year, and every year my lucky International Cellars agent gets to hear what I think about that. Whereas many of the 2013 Brunellos are accessible a tad earlier than the 2012s, Canalicchio di Sopra does Opposite Day and proves to be a little tighter than last year. The intensity is nearly identical (perhaps more so), ripe red fruit with burnt orange and black twizzlers, but the supporting frame is poking out at the moment and will need a couple years’ education to unlock fully. I hate being this guy but I’ll have to limit this to one 6-pack each for the first 3 respondents. Seems fairest? 97 points Wine Spectator, 96 points Robert Parker, 3 6-packs available, $90.49 +tax

Canalicchio di Sopra Riserva 201, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
Everything I just said times five. This Riserva doesn’t always come to BC, and those of us who get some dare not divulge the dirty deeds we did to get it. Built like a truck, decidedly longer maceration and darker pigment, here, everything would collapse on its own tent poles if it weren’t for that filament streak of acidity that elevates the body and electrifies the finish. Not sure why you’d throw dark cherries on the BBQ but that’s a start? Outstanding balance between Monument and Pleasure Dome. 96 points Wine Spectator, 2 wooden 6-packs available, $181.49 +tax

Rocco di Montegrossi Geremia 2013 Toscana IGT
A bear that was raised by ducks. An outstanding Chianti house in its own right (their sweet Vin Santo is to die for), Montegrossi grows Merlot and Cab (85/15) in the middle of Chianti Classico, ages it in French oak for 2 years, then unleashes it into society without any regard to public safety. Sweaty blackberries are fanning themselves with sprigs of rosemary, unaware that the reason they’re so hot is that they’re on fire. A classical minerality reminds you that this is indeed Tuscany, the plums and massive body tell you that this is indeed Merlot The Giant, and it sits wherever it wants. If quantities hold, we’ll be pouring this on Saturday at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room if you’d like to taste. 97 points Vinous, 2 cases available, $70.99 +tax

Casanova di Neri Cerretalto 2012 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
I got one of only 2 3-packs that came into BC. The Cerretalto vineyard, east of Montalcino, forms an eastern-facing natural amphitheatre that cradles the morning sun, only to let the heat slowly dissipate as evening falls, and nights here are cold. The barely decomposed, iron-rich soil is so poor that the Sangiovese Grosso vines (Brunello in local parlance) can only muster sparse, small, straggly bunches of grapes, packed with super-human phenolics and fruit-weight. Things should not grow here, and the things that do should scare you. The downscale 2012 Brunello from Casanova di Neri placed #4 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 – this wine is several Bowser Castles up from that. The stressed vines throw everything they have at these grapes because they have to: crushed rocks, spiced cherries, orange tobacco - but the concentration, achieved entirely in the vineyard, is the stuff of legends. 98 points Wine Spectator, 98 points Robert Parker, 3 bottles available, $607.99 +tax