Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Day Wine Selections

"Which wine should I take to Christmas dinner?" "What pairs with turkey?" You may find yourself asking these questions whether you celebrate Christmas on the 24th or 25th or if you're hosting another similarly festive event or holiday dinner. Below are suggestions to help you answer these questions with both international and BC wine selections.

Paired with...

...present opening
You'll want a nice sipper that can stand on its own without food as you may be waiting a while for dinner with all of the presents to open.

Int - M. Chapoutier 2009 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut - $15
BC - Stoneboat Vineyards 2009 Pinot Noir - $25

...pre-dinner snacks
Something lively and crisp is needed here to wake-up those taste-buds and get them ready for the forthcoming dinnerpolooza.

Int - Lucky Penny 2010 White - $18
BC - Averill Creek Vineyard 2009 Pinot Grigio - $18

You will want to continue the crisp theme with this pairing while adding a touch of complexity. Pick a versatile white to go with a wide-range of salads.

Int - Château Saint-Jean-Des-Graves 2008 Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc - $24
BC - Cassini Cellars 2010 Sauvignon Blanc - $19

...turkey (white meat)
If you were to pick one wine to go with all turkey meets, it would be the most recent vintage of Beaujolais. For fun I have broken it down into white and dark meat suggestions. For the white meat, go for an oaked, non-Chardonnay white wine. Something with character, but not too much.

Int - Palo Alto 2009 Reserva Sauvignon Blanc - $14
BC - Young and Wyse Collection 2010 Amber - $20

...turkey (dark meat)
I love Beaujolais and BC Gamay Noir with the dark turkey meat. A subtle and medium-bodied Pinot Noir is a good substitute.

Int - Meiomi 2008 Pinot Noir - $30
BC - JoieFarm 2009 PTG - $27

Personally, I prefer ham at Easter, but for the Christmas-Ham folks out there I suggest a slightly off-dry white with orchard fruit flavours to match the apple-sauce.

Int - Loosen Bros 2008 Riesling "Dr L" - $19
BC - JoieFarm 2010 Riesling - $23

...roast beef
For the roast-lovers I recommend making a splash and getting a great Bordeaux-style red or a nice Cabernet Sauvignon.

Int - Chateau de Fonbel 2006 Grand Cru - $30
BC - Cassini Cellars 2009 Maximus - $29

A simple and refreshing white would work for the gamut of veggie side-dishes that may accompany the tofurky.

Int - Big House Wines 2009 White - $13
BC - Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2010 Oldfield Series 2Bench White - $23

You will want a wine that is sweeter than your dessert.

Int - Errazuriz 2007 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc - $14
BC - Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2010 Oldfield Series Kerner Icewine - $30 nibblies
Finish off the meal with something sparkling. It's fun, it's sophisticated and it doesn't have to be expensive.

Int - Yellowglen Non Vintage Pink - $13
BC - Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars N/V Brut - $24

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

BC Wine Deal: December 13th, 2011

The following wines have been reduced in price at participating VQA wine shops. Some reductions are due to new vintages being released soon and others are simply to help move stock.

Andrew Peller Cabernet/Merlot was $14.69 is now $13.69
Andrew Peller Merlot was $14.69 is now $13.69
Chaberton Cabernet/Merlot Canoe Cove was $30.00 is now $25.99
Chaberton Chardonnay Canoe Cove was $19.95 is now $17.49
Chaberton Shiraz Canoe Cove was $30.00 is now $25.99
Gehringer Dry Riesling was $14.99 is now $13.99
Jackson Triggs Sunrock Cabernet Sauvignon was $28.99 is now $27.99
Jackson Triggs Shiraz Grand Reserve was $25.99 is now $24.99
Jackson Triggs Cabernet Sauvignon Silver Series was $16.99 is now $15.99
Jackson Triggs Merlot Black Series was $14.99 is now $13.99
Prospect Chardonnay was $12.99 is now $11.99
Prospect Fats Johnson Pinot Noir was $19.99 is now $17.99
Prospect Merlot/Cabernet was $14.99 is now $13.99
Prospect Shiraz was $16.99 is now $15.99
See Ya Later Brut was $22.99 is now $21.99
See Ya Later Pinot Gris was $19.99 is now $18.99
See Ya Later Riesling was $16.99 is now $15.99
Strut Red Over Heels was $13.99 is now $12.99
Strut Risque was $13.99 is now $12.99
Strut Well Heeled was $13.99 is now $12.99
Sumac Ridge Cabernet/Merlot was $14.99 is now $13.99
Sumac Ridge Chardonnay Private Reserve was $13.99 is now $12.99
Sumac Ridge Merlot was $15.99 is now $14.99
Sumac Ridge Stellar's Jay Brut was $24.99 is now $23.99
Township 7 Merlot was $24.99 is now 22.99

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Top 25 Value Wines of 2011

We've selected the top 25 value wines for 2011 that we feel represent the best value to the consumer. No price limit was applied to the list, nor was a simple price-to-points equation used. With this list we allowed ourselves to be subjective as to what "value" represents.

M. Chapoutier 2009 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut - $15
An easy-drinking, soft-tannin blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan that scores well for its harmony, approachable fruit-forward appeal and long, balanced finish of wild berry and rustic earth characters. Widely available.
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Castaño 2009 Lujuria - $10
Yes, this is a $10 bottle of wine that you will actually want to buy and will likely enjoy - and not just for its value. A blend of Merlot and Monastrell. Widely available.
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Chateau Des Charmes 2008 ‘Old Vines’ Riesling - $17
It's rare to find a Canadian Riesling at this price point that offers the concentration and ageability of this St. David's Bench example. Possibly it's the old vines used to source the grapes that were planted in the early eighties. LCBO.
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Maison Calvet 2009 Reserve - $16
A charming vein of sweetness runs through the nose of this pleasing Bargain Bordeaux. This Merlot heavy blend (80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon) should appeal to wine lovers who enjoy New World-leaning Bordeaux wines. Widely available.
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Errazuriz 2007 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc - $13
Late Harvest wines offer an excellent and affordable alternative when the impressive funds needed to purchase icewines aren't available. This wine over-delivers. Widely available.
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Stoneboat Vineyards 2009 Pinot Noir - $25
One of only 3 wines above $20 to make the list. Simply the best Pinot Noir available within BC under $30. BC VQA stores.
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L'Etoile de Bergey 2009 Grand Vin - $20
Elegant and polished from the refined, cherry, field berry, cassis and savoury oak infused nose through to the dry, blackberry puree, poppy seed, licorice and rhubarb influenced palate. Costco USA.
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Fairview Cellars 2010 Sauvignon Blanc - $20
More complex than merely a clean, crisp summer sipper with some fullness on the palate from lush, oily Semillon fruit adding a hint of honeydew melon to the mix.
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Snap Dragon Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon - $12
If you like big California Cabs with loads of ripe, dark fruit aromas and flavours with a little residual sugar left in the balance to offset the tannins and acid, than you'll be wise to add this well-priced wine to your rotation. Widely available.
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La Frenz Winery 2009 Montage - $22
What would the Top Value list be without the La Frenz Montage every year? Buy it by the case and make it your house red to the delight of all your guests. Private wine shops.
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St. Hubertus Estate Winery 2009 Dry Riesling - $15
One will be hard pressed to find better value in a BC Riesling. Screw-top enclosure has locked in the freshness. BC VQA stores.
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Chateau Pey La Tour 2009 Grand Vin - $16
The warm and long growing season of 2009 has done wonders for not only Bordeaux’s finest wines but also its most affordable including this blend of 77% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Widely available.
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Henry’s Drive Vignerons 2009 Morse Code Shiraz - $14
A touch of sweetness resides on the tart, yet mild-mannered palate but rest assured we're miles from Yellowtail territory here. Widely available.
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SummerGate Winery 2009 Riesling Two - $20
Sourced from the certified organic Stohler Family vineyard in Summerland, the secret to this Riesling's success is the inclusion of 5% botrytis affected fruit which adds depth and complexity to the nose and mostly-dry palate. Winery direct.
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Big House Wines 2009 White - $13
Despite the grocery list of ingredients, the wine is not overly complex, yet the crisp, fun and easy-drinking character of the wine make it an easy addition to your summer sipping rotation. Widely available.
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See wines 16-25 after the break.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Top 25 Wines of 2011

The format for our Top 25 list changes slightly for 2011 with a new subjective approach taking into account availability, collectability and relevance in the world of wine. For simply the highest rated wines of the year please visit our new Top 25 Rated Wines of 2011 list on All wines were released within the calendar year.

Fairview Cellars 2009 The Wrath - $65
Intense, brooding and fantastically complex. The name is a nod to "The Grapes of Wrath" and the hardship it suggests in getting the new vineyard site to the point where it would produce quality fruit.

Glaetzer Wines 2009 Amon-Ra - $85
Near-perfect balance has been achieved by managing extraction creating rounded tannins that confidently support the massive concentration on the palate but never out-shine the fruit characters.
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Blackwood Lane 2007 The Referènce - $90
Full-bodied and powerful while remaining whimsical and refined due to its gorgeous expression of dark fruit, toasted oak and ultra-smooth tannins.
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Painted Rock Estate Winery 2009 Red Icon - $55

The 2009 is a harmonious blend of 30% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot and 1% Syrah delivering massive complexity and concentration that never overloads the dry palate rather evolves slowly in the glass to reveal layers of the flavour profile.
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Franciscan Estate 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon - $45
An extracted powerhouse of a Cabernet Sauvignon-heavy blend with 13% Merlot, 3% Syrah and 1% Petit Verdot which retains its feminine charm with intense dark fruit and spot-on oak treatment characters.
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Laughing Stock Vineyards 2009 Portfolio - $45
A stellar example of a Bordeaux inspired Okanagan blend that boasts a dense nose of blackberry and cassis fruit, anise and clove spices followed by an exquisite, powerful, full-bodied palate of similar flavours with added savoury elements of coffee grinds, toasted oak and fresh tobacco leaf.
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Black Hills Estate Winery 2009 Nota Bene - $54
Possibly the best Nota Bene of the past 6 years. Higher extraction and more modern vinification techniques have upped the concentration and increased the potential cellar life for this highly collected blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 16% Cabernet Franc.
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L'Etoile de Bergey 2009 Grand Vin - $20
A great budget Bordeaux from the amazing 2009 vintage. Elegant and polished from the refined, cherry, field berry, cassis and savoury oak infused nose through to the dry, blackberry puree, poppy seed, licorice and rhubarb influenced palate.
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JoieFarm 2009 Reserve Chardonnay - $30
The top white wine on our list is a perennial favourite. Sits lovingly on your palate with evenly matched energetic acid and glycerol fullness. The long, long finish delights with both savoury oak and ripe pear fruit flavours and just a touch of lingering spice. Utterly charming now, but should age nicely if properly cared for.
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Blackwood Lane 2009 Pinot Noir - $44
Two top ten showings for 2011. Hopefully they can continue the success in 2012 despite the departure of winemaker Charles Herrold. Possibly, the quintessential BC Pinot Noir as it requires no "Burgundy-esk" or "Central Otago-like" descriptor.
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Herder Winery and Vineyards 2008 Josephine - $50
In style and in composition, Herder's "Josephine" confidently conveys the essence of a fruit-forward leaning, Right Bank garagiste wine all the while keeping to its Similkameen roots.
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Painted Rock Estate Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon - $40
"Big" without being jammy and over extracted which presents the fabled Bordeaux varietal in its near-ideal, cool-climate form: fully ripe tannins and expressive dark fruit characters.
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Le Vieux Pin 2008 Équinoxe Syrah - $70
The winery selected 3 barrels as the best of the best for their 2008 Syrah and deemed it worthy of the Équinoxe name. Only 70 cases have been produced.
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Meyer Family Vineyards 2010 Mclean Creek Road Chardonnay - $35
As the vines of the Mclean Creek Road Vineyard in Okanagan Falls mature and develop, the Chardonnay produced there is fast becoming the winery's hallmark - its unique addition to the crowded market of high-end BC Chardonnay.
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Cassini Cellars 2009 Maximus - $29
The soft entry on the dry palate evolves quickly to reveal the beast within. Fine, ripe tannins and a sublime texture partner well with concentrated dark fruit, smoky cigar box and toasted oak flavours.
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View #16-25 after the break

Friday, December 2, 2011

2011 Icon Wine of the Year

The Icon Wine of the Year is presented to "the best" wine released in the calendar year of 2011 that combines the following virtues: price, quality, pedigree, collectability, longevity and availability to the wine consuming public in Canada. The winner for 2011 is:

Fairview Cellars 2009 The Wrath
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
$65 - 250 cases - 14.6%
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The "Icon Wine of the Year" selection was not an easy choice for 2011 with many top wines to choose from including the likes of Painted Rock's 2009 Red Icon, Blackwood Lane's 2007 Reference and Glaetzer's 2009 Amon Ra. All are exquisite wines worthy of the title and all scored higher points on, but it was The Wrath which stood out, leaving a lasting impression of a memorable wine with a great story to tell.

The Wine
Intense, brooding and fantastically complex. This single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon flies in the face of conventional wisdom which suggests that the thick skinned Bordeaux variety can't be properly ripened in BC. Fairview Cellars has had impressive success of ripening the grape year-in, year-out producing popular Cabernets and Cabernet-based blends but this one-off release sets a new standard for a cool climate Cabernet Sauvignon in BC.

The fruit for this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine comes from a Golden Mile Bench property that winegrower and winemaker Bill Eggert has been cultivating for 5 years. The name is a nod to "The Grapes of Wrath" and the hardship it suggests in getting the new vineyard site to the point where it would produce quality fruit (or any fruit at all for that matter). It could also refer to the wrath of God due to the seemingly spiteful nature of Bill's run of bad-luck with the site (feasting dear and wrathful hail). 2009 produced the first serviceable crop from the site and the timing couldn't have been better. The combination of the hot season and the vineyard site has produced the ripest Cabernet Sauvignon I have ever tasted in BC.

"Serendipity" may have been a legitimate alternate name for the wine as the hail storm that nearly wiped out the vineyard's fruit managed to have a positive effect on the finished product leaving a highly concentrated crop which contributed to the ripeness.

The Story
The clever label pays homage to a popular version of the front cover of John Steinbeck's classic novel about one family's Depression-era struggle for survival. The fight that Eggert waged against the elements and local wildlife pales in comparison to the tribulations of the fictional Joad family on the road to California to seek out a better life but the counter-culture, challenge the status-quo themes of the book are attributable, if only in a nudging way.

Some say that Cabernet Sauvignon shouldn't be grown in BC and that it should be grafted over to the more trendy Syrah grape. Bill's answer to this challenge is an ultra-ripe Cab with a release price of $65 - can't get much more counter-culture than that.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Also see:
2010 Icon Wine of the Year
2009 Icon Wine of the Year