Friday, November 29, 2013

Top 25 Value Wines of the Year

We've selected the top 25 wines for 2013 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.

Anciano 2005 Gran Reserva 7yrs - $13

There's a whole lot to like and pick-out on the nose of this Spanish gem that was aged for 7 years prior to its release. The palate offers a nice balance of oak influenced spice and toasted flavours complimenting bright, red fruit characters through to a moderate finish with both lingering savoury tannins and mouth watering acid.
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Generation Seven Wines 2013 Nouveau - $12
All the raw, fruity, rustic charm of Beaujolais Nouveau. Maraschino cherry, clove and raspberry jam aromas on the vibrant, nose. Fruity and bright on the youthful, low-tannin, satin textured, red fruit-infused palate where spice and earthy notes linger on the moderate finish. Certainly a wine to buy by the case.
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Erath Winery 2012 Pinot Gris - $12 (US)
Tricky inclusion on this list as we're basing its value on its US price, but the wine was too good not to include. Oregon may be world renowned for producing some of the best New World examples of Pinot Noir but locally wine lovers are swooning for the State's crisp, well balanced Pinot Gris often produced with little-to-no oak contact or secondary malolactic fermentation for a pure expression of the variety.
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Chateau Des Charmes 2011 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay - $14
Lovers of toasty, buttery Chardonnay look no further, this barrel fermented example offers all the big peaches'n'cream aromas you crave at the impressive under $15 price point.
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Bodega Norton 2010 Barrel Select Malbec - $15
Impressive concentration of blue fruit flavours and loads of cooking spice dress up the full palate which oozes glycerol texture through to a sweet'n'tart wild berry and toasted oak finish where a touch of citrus acidity lingers. Enjoy this well made, entry-level Malbec in its youth.
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Chateau Des Charmes 2010 ‘Old Vines’ Riesling - $17
Though the balance is dry with nice lemon/lime acidity providing crispness the overall impression of this tasty Riesling from Chateau Des Charmes is of an intense, juicy wine with inviting aromas of stonefruit on the nose and concentrated flavours of ripe green apple, minerals and nectarine on the palate.
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Bench 1775 Winery 2012 Chill - $16
A fun, off-dry blend of 46% Pinot Gris, 25% Chardonnay, 11% Sauvignon Blanc and 6% each of Pinot Blanc, Viognier and Gewurztraminer offering loads of tropical fruit and mineral characters with a summertime afternoon-drinking-friendly level of alcohol; you could sip this tasty wine all day!
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Maverick Estate Winery 2011 Origin - $16
Opens with a vibrant and attention grabbing aromatic nose of sweet mandarin, lychee, orange blossom, fresh grass, lime rind and papaya aromas. A subtle, food-friendly palate follows with a simpler flavour profile focusing on apple and citrus fruit supported by the right amount of acid to keep your mouth fresh and wanting more.
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Bodega Norton 2010 Reserva Malbec - $18
Warm, inviting and layered, the Reserva from Bodegas Norton is the Malbec for lovers of red wines with character, a sense of place and bold fruit but without the residual sweetness all too common among red wines these days.
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La Frenz Winery 2012 Riesling - $20
Off-dry levels of residual sugar are well-balanced by the mouth-watering green apple and pineapple acidity on the palate adorned with boisterous orchard and tropical fruit flavours. A nice vein of minerals runs through the palate to the long, balanced finish where just a hint of spice is perceptible.
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Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2012 Gewurztraminer - $18
Leaner and meaner than your average plump "Goo", delivering more acid and minerality than often seen in the Okanagan Valley - the perfect option for those who find BC Gewurztraminer too "fat" for their liking. 
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Cellar Hand 2012 Free Run White - $16
The Free Run White offers amazing value for the price, with a food-friendly profile making it a sure thing for any dinner party due to its food-pairing diversity and supreme drinkability. Enjoy this wine in its youth.
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Fort Berens Estate Winery 2012 Riesling - $18
This Lillooet produced Riesling offers a range of aromas on the intriguing nose from grapefruit and kiwi fruit to orange blossoms and stonefruit minerality. The delightfully tangy palate starts with sweet, juicy apples and nectarine flavours before quickly resolving into a crisp explosion of mouth-watering, yet balanced, citrus acidity.
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Little Straw Vineyards 2012 Tapestry - $18
Though a blend of Riesling, Auxerrois, Gewurztraminer, Siegerrebe and Schonburger, it's the Gewurztraminer that plays the lead character in 2012 with lush tropical fruit on the floral nose and the off-dry palate which starts with a chewy (gooey) texture and then finishes crisp and tangy thanks to its pronounced grapefruit acidity.
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#15 Fort Berens Estate Winery 2012 Chardonnay - $19
Upon entry, this Chard comes across as crisp and un-oaked with orchard and citrus fruit leading the way, but, as it flows over the palate the rich notes and oak influence comes forth and carries through to the long finish.
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SynchroMesh Wines 2012 Thorny Vines Vineyard Riesling - $19
The Thorny Vines Riesling hails from a youthful, 3rd leaf Naramata Bench vineyard and is more assessable to the casual Riesling fan, both in character (a fruity, tangy, off-dry charmer) and price (impressive quality for under $20).
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Celler De Capcanes 2010 Mas Donis Barrica - $20
A blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah, red fruit and herbs mix well to create a modern, Old World vibe with a refined/rustic dichotomy. A long finish with lingering spice and oak notes will carry through to your next bite of grilled Picanha.
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Howling Bluff Estate Winery 2012 Summa Quies Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon - $20
Howling Bluff uses a whopping 15% Sémillon resulting in added textural elements as well since Sémillon has a natural fuller body. Clean, crisp, complex and long, the Summa Quies Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon will delight as a stand-alone Summer Sipper.
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Cassini Cellars 2011 Merlot - $19
A great style for BC which has been guilty, from time-to-time, of over-oaking under-ripe Merlot, turning the Bordeaux varietal into a mere conduit for French or American oak flavours rather than letting the fruit speak for itself.
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Stag's Hollow Winery 2012 Syrah Rosé - $20
he 2012 edition of this excellent Syrah rosé from Stag's Hollow sees only a nominal amount of Orange Muscat and Viognier (2% and 1% respectively) added to the blend but the effect is impressive with gorgeous, sweet, floral and tangy aromas of cherry, rose petals, tangerine, lime rind and rhubarb characters.
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Jackson Estate 2011 "Stich" Sauvignon Blanc - $20
This wine wins with its excellent balance of citrus acidity and light residual sugar on the rich, concentrated palate of gooseberry, kiwi fruit and mineral flavours. The finish is impressively long for this price point with lingering, mouth-watering lemon-lime peel notes and just a hint of spice.
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Fairview Cellars 2012 Sauvignon Blanc - $20
his crisp wine opens with a flash of sweet papaya fruit before quickly transitioning to a medley of stonefruit, green apple and tangy citrus flavours; lemon/lime, quince and mandarin orange. The finish is long and tastefully tart with lingering lime rind notes and just a hint of spice.
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Cellar Hand 2011 Punch Down Red - $20
'Cellar Hand' is the second label of Black Hills Estate Winery and aims to create drink-now wines, appropriate for passing the time while you wait for your coveted caché of Nota Bene to mature. The palate is easy-going with smooth, light tannins, ripe berry and plum fruit flavours and a kick of both cooking spice and field berry acidity on the moderate finish.
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Gold Hill Winery 2012 Gewurztraminer II - $18
A big, boistrous, brass-hued Gewurztraminer with intense, fat, fruit aromas of lychee, apricots and peaches with light lime rind notes. The palate is equally fat with silimar flavours and loads of body from ultra ripe fruit and off-dry levels of residual sugar.
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Backyard Vineyards 2012 Nosey Neighbour White - $15
An easy-going blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sigerrebe and Gewurztraminer, benefiting from the warm 2012 growing season resulting in heightened aromatics on the nose and ripe, tropical fruit on the dry, mouth watering palate.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Monthly Picks: November 2013

For November's picks we're exploring the wonderful world of Cabernet Franc - a land everyone should visit as often as they can. Some of these wines may be hard to find, but well worth the effort if you do!

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2011 Cabernet Franc - $22
The 2011 edition of this always popular Cabernet Franc from Tinhorn Creek successfully captures the unique blend of cured meats, herbs, cola and blackberry fruit that the variety produces in the Okanagan Valley.
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Fort Berens Estate Winery 2011 Cabernet Franc - $26
This Franc is loaded with herbs and blue fruit making for a very quaffable Franc benefiting from 12 months in barrel prior to bottling. The dry palate that follows, is a tad 'green' on the firm tannins, attributable to the cooler vintage, though it's the herbs, mineral and berry fruit flavours that resonate through to the mouth-watering and well-balanced long finish.
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River Stone Estate Winery 2011 Cabernet Franc - $26

Complex and well-balanced with good continuity from the aromatic nose to the dry palate spicy blue fruit, warm rocks, light oak, cardamon, coffee grind and violet aromas and flavours. A good acidic kick and fine tannins structures the mouth feel through to the moderate finish.
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Gold Hill Winery 2011 Cabernet Franc II - $27

Gold Hill Winery definitely have a handle on how to produce excellent Cabernet Franc from their home vineyard along the Golden Mile Bench. The palate impresses with good continuity from the nose and a nice balance of fresh acidity and rounded tannins which lovingly frame the ripe berry fruit, dried herbs, cured sausage, coffee grind and light spice flavours.
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Fairview Cellars 2010 Cabernet Franc - $27-29
A cool, but long 2010 growing season has given birth to a low alcohol and nuanced Cabernet Franc that offers a warm, feminine nose of violets, mandarin peel, ripe blackberry, boysenberry and soft oak aromas. A smooth mouth feel awaits on the dry, medium-bodied palate that offers fine, mannered tannins and delicate layers of berry fruit and mineral flavours.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Restaurant Profile: Cin Cin

Location: Vancouver, BC
Executive Chef: Andrew Richardson
Chef Patissier: Lewis Birch
Restaurant Director: Richard Luxton
Wine Director: Shane Taylor
Bar Manager: Adaina Smyth

'Cin Cin', which means ‘cheers’ in Italian, is not exactly the type of place “where everybody knows your name” but you will be treated like a VIP by an attentive and professional staff. Located on Robson Street, the hub of all things chic in down town Vancouver, the restaurant has long been one of the city’s top venues for experiencing both authentic and modern Italian fare.

The restaurant offers Tuscan-inspired décor with warm, romantic lighting and a sophisticated atmosphere. The setting is posh, in a happy-to-spoil-myself way. The food is exquisitely prepared with careful attention to presentation and creative dishware. The staff will happily split various dishes up for you and your party to share or for a professionally scripted meal try one of the group menus for $58-99 per person depending on your selection.

The wine list boasts over 800 labels to choose from and was recognized with the Wine Enthusiast Award of Ultimate Distinction in 2008 along with many Wine Spectator 'Best of' Awards of Excellence. The wine director, Shane Taylor, and the serving staff will help guide you through the massive wine list that specializes in Italian wines but also offers BC & world favourites.

We recommend:

• Share an oven-baked Pizette starter: Wild and cultivated mushroom with fennel salami and tomato $18.50
• Arrive hungry to enjoy a traditional pasta or risotto course: casarecce pasta with spicy sausage $17.50• A fine Italian restaurant means excellent fish dishes: Haida Gwaii halibut $34.50
• Leave your car at home or at your hotel. Parking on Robson Street (or right off Robson Street) is terrible. A taxi will be your best bet if it’s raining, otherwise, enjoy a nice walk and check-out the high-end fashion shops.

Go to to make your reservation and view the full menu. Address: 1154 Robson Street, Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6E 1B2. Tel: 604 688 7338
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

BC Wine Deal: November 1st, 2013

The following VQA wines have been reduced in price at your local participating VQA and BCLDB stores.

Calliope Figure Eight was $17.95 is now $15.90
Calona Cabernet/Merlot Artist Series was $14.99 
is now $12.99
Calona Sandhill Pinot Gris was $18.99 
is now $16.99
Cedar Creek Merlot/Cabernet was $19.95 
is now $18.95
Cedar Creek Riesling was $17.95 
is now $16.95
Church & State Meritage was $26.90 
is now $24.90
Church & State Merlot Coyote Bowl was $26.90 
is now $24.90
Church Mouse Chardonnay was $16.90 
is now $14.90
Church Mouse Gewurztraminer was $15.90 
is now $14.90
Church & State Pinot Gris was $20.90 
is now $19.90
Church & State Trebella was $20.90 
is now $19.90
Church & State Viognier was $20.90 
is now $19.90
Gray Monk Latitude 50 Red was $12.99 
is now $11.99
Hillside Merlot was $18.99 
is now $16.99
Jackson Triggs Chardonnay Private Reserve was $12.99 
is now $10.99
Kalala 3 Cru Wanderlust Organic was $16.90 
is now $14.90
Perseus Merlot was $21.99 
is now $19.99
Mission Hill Pinot Blanc Five Vineyards was $14.99 
is now $13.99
Mission Hill Chardonnay Reserve was $19.99 
is now $18.99
Prospect Regatta Red was $14.99 
is now $13.99
Red Rooster Pinot Gris was $17.99 
is now $15.99
See Ya Later Belle was $18.99 
is now $16.99
See Ya Later Riesling was $16.99 
is now $14.99
See Ya Later Rover was $24.99 
is now $21.99
Stag's Hollow Sauvignon Blanc was $20.00 
is now $14.99
Sumac Ridge Chardonnay Private Reserve was $13.99 
is now $11.99
Sumac Ridge Merlot was $15.99 
is now $13.99
Therapy Alter Ego was $19.99 is now $16.99