Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Featured Wines: Bordeaux Offering

If any of the wines 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 Morgan Crossing location in South Surrey.

Bordeaux Vintages

By Jordan Carrier

If wine is romance made liquid, what does Bordeaux bring to the door on a first date? Well, it depends on when he was born.
  • 2009 shows all his cards. He loves you sight unseen and he brought a yacht. He couldn’t park it on the street so it’s lying on its side and disrupting traffic, but it’s a yacht.
  • 2010 shows you one card, on your doorstep. As soon as you bend to pick it up, you notice the next card, several feet away, gleaming in the moonlight. You follow the subsequent cards, perfectly spaced between each other that lead towards the vintage Cadillac on the street, where Bruce Springsteen (the driver) will take you anywhere you wish, just so long as you stay amazing.
  • 2011 apologizes for being late, he couldn’t get to the door because of all the boats and cars. He has tickets to the latest Terrence Malik movie, which you probably won’t understand now but totally will later. He is kind, smart, even smoldering, but shuts down when you try to talk about his older brothers.
  • 2012 comes to the door dressed in sweatpants because he already knows what you think of him, but wows you with a box of chocolates that contains flavours you weren’t expecting. He leads you to a horse-drawn carriage that takes you to a heritage theme-park full of proper people in full dress speaking proper sentences. It is only later that you realize that you married him.
  • 2013 arrives brandishing a stick with a happy face sharpied onto it. He tells you that the stick is for you but he won’t let go of it. After an awkward silence, he relinquishes the stick and slowly backs away into your yard. The next morning, you discover that he took all of the apples off your tree.

And this (2013) is the vintage that the BC Liquor Stores will be offering in a week’s time in their annual Bordeaux release. Private stores are prohibited from participating, but we frankly wouldn’t if we could, 2013 is a dud.

Given the outsized prices of certain recent Bordeaux vintages, I don’t feel bad practicing a bit of Schadenfreude here: 2013 is a vintage without fruit and without joy. I tried select barrel samples from a wide variety of 2013s a couple of years back, and I left the tasting with the distinct impression that I had just French-kissed a pencil. I’m not even sure that age can help, here, a stick of wood may simply develop into an older stick of wood. There will inevitably be the odd gem in this vintage (the whites, particularly, also Fronsac?), but I’d overall give it a miss. If you are collecting verticals, buy single bottles for the sake of continuity, but don’t go deep.

Instead of that vintage, we are offering an affordable (all under $100) selection of well rated Bordeaux from other recent, solid, proven vintages, and because we are ninjas, we are offering people a chance to try them first. Come to our store on Saturday September 24 between 2pm and 6pm and try the following wines from 2012, 2011, and the legendary 2010. None of this silly ’13 business. These are classic wines of beauty and strength, and though it’s a diverse cull, they are all quintessentially Bordeaux.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Featured Wines: Small Batches of Brunello

If any of the wines 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 Morgan Crossing location in South Surrey.

Small Batches of Brunello

By Jordan Carrier

This is another chapter of the Summer Reading series, in longer form. You do not want to miss this selection of Brunellos, however, so if you’re time constrained, scroll down to the bold type to get to the wines.

The seminar was already bizarre. The kind, older Tuscan winemaker was full of wisdom but not of English, so his comments had to be filtered through the agent who’d organized the afternoon event, in the dusty upstairs of a downtown Italian restaurant. It was evident from the beginning that this agent was an hobbyist translator at best: we would ask a question, the agent would slowly translate it to the winemaker, who eagerly responded with several flowing paragraphs using gregarious hand gestures and at least 2 octaves of vocal tones, only to be nervously refracted back to the attendees with one word translations like “yes”, or “five”.

We adaptively began to simplify our questions, and someone asked what percentage of Italian vineyards were growing Sangiovese. We watched that question ping between the agent and the winemaker until the answer came: “ten percent”. What? Italy’s most famous grape accounts for only ten percent of plantings? It’s, like, planted everywhere! My hand shot up.

“Is the gentleman saying that only 10% of Italian vineyards are planted to Sangiovese? That seems low”

Ping, ping, back comes the answer: “I’m sorry, poor translation. The gentleman is saying that 10% of Italy is planted to Sangiovese”

Yes, he said ten percent of the Italian landmass grows this legendary grape, a progeny of Ciliegiolo, an ancient Tuscan grape, and Calabrese Montenuevo, an immigrant from Calabria that is now effectively extinct. Sangiovese took hold in Chianti 500 years ago, big time: the grape was the boldest, most tannic variety with the most longevity that the region had ever seen, and the wines became the toast of Renaissance Florence, championed by its ruling family, the Medici.

The Medici expanded Florentine influence all over Tuscany, eventually incorporating southern Sienna and its holdings, notably a small, nearby hilltop town with an impressive fortress: Montalcino. With the Medici came the Florentine grapes, and the meager vineyards around the fortress were replanted to Sangiovese, mostly for Sacrament, and then everything carried on pretty much as normal. The Medici faded into memory. The Renaissance became the Enlightenment, which became the Romantic era, which became Modernity. Since the town wasn’t a commercial producing region like Chianti, centuries went by without anyone realizing what was happening to the Sangiovese around Montalcino.

It was changing. It evolved. Likely because of the altitude and increased solar influence, Montalcino’s Sangiovese mutated into its own clone; one that was thicker-skinned, darker and deeper than the Sangiovese Piccolo that Chianti grew. Botanists called the clone Sangiovese Grosso (means “bigger” but the berries are, in fact, the same size), but the residents of Montalcino have always used their own distinctive term: Brunello.

Here are some Brunellos that I’ve been collecting in (mostly) small batches for a while, now. My girlfriend, 2010, is included here (the Riservas are trickling in), along with some great older vintages. I’ve hoarded some of this for a while, just until I had enough for an offering, but the quantities are low and we won’t see these vintages again, so don’t hesitate to call me if you want any of these (and you do). We start with the Riservas:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Featured Wines: Masi Serego Aligheri Vaio Armaron

If any of the wines 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 Morgan Crossing location in South Surrey.

Masi Serego Aligheri Vaio Armaron
By Jordan Carrier

Those of us familiar with Ontario may know Guelph as “Lesser Kitchener”, but not many people know that it was named Guelph as part of an effort to bring some British Royal flavour to Upper Canada. Conceived and planned out like a European city, complete with squares, broad main streets and narrow side streets, the fledgling Canadian town was given its name to honour the origins of King George’s Hanoverian Royal Family, the House of Welf.

How Welf morphed into Guelph is a linguistic question (or perhaps a contraction of the Welf-ian cheerleading cry “Go Welf!”), but the House itself stretches back to the 11th century, boasting ruling Monarchs of England, Bavaria and Russia to name just a few. A branch of this house, interestingly, found their way to Rome, where they supported the Papacy against the Holy Roman Empire in the late 1100s, and later settled in the city of Florence, where the Guelphs flourished as merchants and burghers for another century.

Having achieved super-awesome Florentine success and having run out of enemies to fight, the Guelphs naturally split in to two opposing factions, the White Guelphs and the Black Guelphs, and began battling for control of Florence (you could tell the sides apart by how they wore the feathers in their caps – parentheses are usually where I tell jokes but this is true). When the Black Guelphs won and ran the White Guelphs out of town, they also ousted a former Pharmacist and poet who had been serving as City Prior (like a Mayor), a White-affiliated man named Dante Aligheri.

Falsely accused of corruption and threatened with execution if he ever returned to Florence, Dante moved north to Verona in 1302, where his family put down roots and he began working on what became Italy’s preeminent literary work: The Divine Comedy, which chronicles Dante’s journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso). Dante moved away before finishing the piece but his family stayed, and his son Pietro got into the local wine business, purchasing the Casal dei Ronchi estate in the heart of the nearby Valpolicella region in 1353.

Twenty-one generations later, that estate still belongs to Dante's direct descendants, the Counts Serego Alighieri. Most of the original Villa still stands, surrounded by vineyards, including the legendary Vaio dei Masi, from which is produced one of the world’s most famous Single Vineyard Amarones - the Serego Aligheri Vaio Armaron – and which gave the Masi winery its name.

I have 3 vintages of this great wine to offer, if you’re interested please reply or call me right away.

Masi Serego Aligheri Vaio Armaron 1996
20 years young. Dried fruits, toffee and cocoa powder run the table here, overshadowing the sweet soy notes that usually evolve in aged Amarones. The palate is pure elegance; we Wine Geeks avoid/loathe the word “smooth” but this wine embodies it, the acidity is down (was it ever that up?) and the softened tannins support the substantial weight instead of putting a period on it. Drinks like what calligraphy looks like. 92 points Wine Spectator, 4 wooden 6-packs available, $158.99 +tax

Masi Serego Aligheri Vaio Armaron 2007
As though a cinnamon coffee cake with cherry icing came alive and started to demolish your living room. According to Robert Parker’s Vintage Chart, the Valpolicella/Amarone region has never had a better year than 2007 (score: 95), and the top marks are likely due to the vintage’s celebrated longevity, supported by firm tannins and the perfect acidity of a not-too-ripe year. Fitting, then, that we should be able to offer the vintage in a 1.5L large format, perfect for long-term aging, and fitter still that each Magnum should come in its own wooden box with a rope handle, so you can swing the box like a lunch pail and look like you’re headed to the Best Lunch Ever. 95 points Wine Enthusiast, 6 Magnums (1.5L) available, $214.49 +tax

Masi Serego Aligheri Vaio Armaron 2008
Ok. This is where everyone gets mad at me, because this wine placed #8 on Wine Spectator’s most recent Top 100 list, we are the only store in B.C. to carry it, and I only have six 6-packs. Yikes. Because of the short supply, I’ll have to “be that guy” and limit availability to one 6-pack per customer, awarded to the first 6 folks that contact me (I’ll ask for payment if you need me to hold it). If you are #7 or later, please remember how pleasantly funny I can be. 95 points Wine Spectator, #8 – Wine Spectator’s Top 100 of 2015, 6 6-packs available, $97.49 +tax