Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 20 Value Wines of the Year

We've selected the top 20 wines for 2015 that we feel represent the best value to the consumer. Though all wines selected are priced at $20 or less, with this list we allowed ourselves to be subjective as to what "value" represents. Prices shown do not include taxes unless marked.

#1 - Bodegas Catena 2013 Alamos Chardonnay - $13.99

Offers fantastic value, keeping it simple with a focus on the balance of  clean, crisp orchard fruit and rich, malolactic and barrel fermentation characters. Sourced from the high altitude vineyards of Mendoza, the wine does spend 6 months in a combination of American and French oak, imparting a myriad of spices on the finish and texture on the palate, balancing the bright, apple and peach flavours. 
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#2 - Cellar Hand 2014 Free Run White - $15.90 (including tax)
The nose offers ripe, delicate aromas of tropical and orchard fruit, most notably: pineapple, mango, apricot and nectarine. The medium-bodied palate follows with similar fruit flavours and added citrus notes and acidity.
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#3 - Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2014 Gewurztraminer - $14.99
Aromas and flavours of peaches, lemons, apples, oranges blossoms, stonefruit and spice on the rounded, pleasant nose and the well-balanced, long-lasting, off-dry palate.
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#4 - Chateau Des Charmes 2012 Gamay Noir 'Droit' - $16.95 (including tax)
An excellent Gamay with a rich nose of black cherry, cola, mineral and warm, spicy earth aromas. On the palate, despite the 3.5g/l of residual sugar (adding texture and body), a thin vein of citrus acidity runs through to the Christmas Cake and oak-infused finish, contrasting the ripe, spicy raspberry flavours.
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#5 - The Painted Wolf Wines 2014 The Den Chenin Blanc - $13.29
A refreshing, well-balanced and extremely well-priced Chenin Blanc from South Africa with zesty citrus, rich apple and light mineral aromas on the nose. The palate opens with a kick of zesty citrus fruit that quickly transitions to creamy, off-dry texture mid-palate and then circles back to tongue-tingling citrus zest for the (slightly) spicy finish.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Featured Wines: California Gold

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.

California Gold

If you believed the disaster movies, 2012 was supposed to be the year that California broke apart, swallowed its cities and turned its vineyards into fish food. Instead, 2012 ended up being the first of a string of amazing years in Golden State vineyards. California’s water troubles, while verging on crisis for most agriculture, have contributed to 3 – possibly 4 – stellar vintages in a row from 2012 to 2015. We may well be entering a golden age of California wines. Presented here are some premium examples of the 2012 vintage (with gems from 2010 and 2013 thrown in because I’m sneaky-like-ninja) for your perusal. You will want to grab all of them, this is normal. Strap in and let’s begin.

Araujo Estate 2012 Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
A 38 acre vineyard east of Calistoga that was planted in 1880, and has been planted to Cabernet since 1964. Poor, gravelly soil and old vines contribute to super low yields and super high concentration, so much so that fruit from Eisele has built Ridge’s wines, Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernets, and Joseph Phelps Insignia until the late ‘90s when the Araujo family took over the vineyard and hired Michel Rolland to kick everyone else’s behind. He did. The estate is now owned by Chateau Latour, and the wines now rival Harlan and To Kalon in quality, price, and difficulty for Jordan in finding them. (96-98+) points Robert Parker, $849.99 +tax

Signorello 2012 Padrone
Ray Signorello Jr’s tribute to his Italian father returns with a drinkable, dense intense-fest of blackberry, coffee, stones and currant. Mostly Cab Sauv, with a voluptuous, ultra-tangible mouthfeel that gives Shafer Hillside Select a reason to look over its shoulder. Like Hillside, this is awesome now and awesome in 2035, although by then the word “awesome” won’t be spoken anymore, they’ll say “this bleep-blop Padrone is Kanye-tastic”. 97+ points Robert Parker, $210.99 +tax

Kathryn Hall 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Remember when you first heard this name. The Hall family has owned vineyards since the ‘70s, and Kathryn helped manage them with her brother until she went to law school, then into public life, and eventually became the US ambassador to Austria, after which she seized her family’s reigns again, returning to steer the winery forward to awesomeness. The Hall winery is certified organic and LEED Gold, and makes this Cabernet with an abundance of energy, flavour and charisma, showing blueberry, raspberry mocha and remarkable drinkability for such a thick, structured wine. 97+ points Robert Parker,  $225.99 +tax

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

2015 Icon Wine of the Year

Though the most expensive Icon Wine of the Year to date and one of the rarest at only 334 cases produced, Le Vieux Pin's 2012 Équinoxe Syrah could not be denied the top prize for 2015; well-earned recognition for its ability to proclaim to the wine glitterati "Yes, we can make world-class Syrah in BC!" The Équinoxe demonstrates the extraordinary complexity and refinement the variety can achieve in the Okanagan Valley when the yield and vigour are managed appropriately and the right oak program is applied. 

Le Vieux Pin 2012 Équinoxe Syrah
96.5% Syrah, 3.5% Viognier
$90 - 334 cases - 13.9%

Congratulations to our runner-ups for this year's Icon Wine of the Year award: the SynchroMesh 2014 Stormhaven Vineyard Riesling and the LaStella 2012 Maestoso "Solo" Merlot

The Wine

A beast of a Syrah, yet, still feminine and floral in style. A true femme fatale with both mass and levity, opening with a gorgeous blend of black cherry, crushed violets, vanilla-mocha, white pepper, spicy plum sauce and sweet pipe tobacco aromas on the memorable nose. The intense, brooding palate follows with concentrated dark red fruit and smooth pepper flavours, effortless acidity and ripe, fine-grained tannins. The finish is balanced and oh-so long.

The Story
Grapes for the Équinoxe were sourced from North Oliver and from the Osoyoos Lake bench. It was produced in the style of Syrah from Northern Rhone which blends small amounts of Viognier during fermentation, contributing floral notes, texture and deepens the colour. It is then aged in French oak for 19 months before bottling. 

A youthful wine today with further development over the next 4+ years a sure thing thanks to its exceptional quality and robust tannins. It will be at home in your cellar for many years to come. 
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2015

Top 20 Wines of 2015

The format for our Top 20 list uses a 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 Top 20 Rated Wines of 2015 list on All Top 20 Icon Wines of the Year were released within the calendar year and reviews based solely on barrel samples were excluded.

#1 - Icon Wine of the Year
Le Vieux Pin 2012 Équinoxe Syrah - $90
Produced in the Northern Rhone method which blends in Viognier (3.5%) during fermentation, then aged in French oak for 19 months before bottling. Still youthful at 3 years of age with further development to come over the next 4+ years, though, it may hold for 10 years or more.
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#2 - SynchroMesh Wines 2014 Stormhaven Vineyard Riesling - $35
 It has a whopping, 35gpl of residual sugar, yet, finishes (very nearly) dry thanks to the effortless balance of the natural acidity and flavour profile of stone fruits and minerals - peaches, mangos, nectarines and river stones. Notes of sweet melon and herbs add depth while the long, long finish is kissed by citrus.
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#3 - LaStella 2012 Maestoso "Solo" Merlot - $100
True to its impressive lineage, the 2012 Maestoso represents the peak of Merlot production in the Okanagan Valley. Elegant, layered and supremely complex. Look for dark berry, sweet plum, toasted oak, dark chocolate, fresh herbs, mocha, vanilla toffee, menthol and warm spice aromas followed by a medley of similar flavours on the ultra-dry palate with a strong focus on the juxtaposition of the berry and savoury characters.
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#4 - Painted Rock Estate Winery 2014 Chardonnay - $35

The nose offers pure, orchard, citrus, tropical and melon fruit aromas supported by French oak, minerals and light brioche notes. The palate is refined, complex and both round and refreshing at the same time, offering a vibrant texture and intense flavours of honeydew, pear, tangerine, lemon/lime, vanilla, spice and warm brioche.
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#5 - Fairview Cellars 2012 The Bear - $35
Ripe and refined with gorgeous, dark fruit and sumptuous, black licorice aromas supported by layers of herbs, vanilla-mocha, toasted oak, spices and violets. The palate opens with lush, ripe, blackberry and cassis fruit followed by a wave of savoury characters, similar to the profile on the nose, with additional, lifted flavours of mint and citrus peel.
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#6 - JoieFarm 2012 "En Famille" Reserve Gewurztraminer - $28
A one-of-a-kind. The only true Reserve Gewurztraminer produced in BC today with unparalleled intensity and unctuousness. Classic lychee, raw honey and floral characters, dialled-up to '11', on the uber crowd-pleasing, tropical fruit-infused nose and on the lip-smacking, off-dry, juicy palate where generous citrus acidity keeps the long, spicy finish clean and balanced.
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#7 - Cassini Cellars 2012 Cabernet Franc - $42
A truly gorgeous Cabernet Franc with a winning combination of classic-Franc characters with the structure and depth that mimics a fine Cabernet Sauvignon. Sourced from a single vineyard and treated to 24 months in French oak prior to bottling, this is a full-bodied, expressive wine from the warm 2012 Southern Okanagan vintage which produced ripe tannins and intense plum and blackberry fruit aromas and flavours supported by layers of complementary sweet pipe smoke, spicy oak, crushed violet and subtle spearmint notes.
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#8 - Stag's Hollow Winery 2014 Renaissance Grenache - $40
his is the 3rd single-variety release of Grenache for Stag's Hollow but the first to be elevated to the winery's reserve-tier of wines called Renaissance. Picks-up right where the previous two vintages left off (20122013) and nudges the bar ahead, in terms of ripeness, complexity and refinement thanks to a near perfect growing season in 2014.
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#9 - Black Hills Estate Winery 2013 Nota Bene - $56
Layers of dark fruit, licorice, sage, tobacco, sweet vanilla, mocha, mint, toasted oak and general earthiness can be perceived on the developing bouquet. Similar flavours grace the (nearly) dry, full-bodied palate where the dark fruit characters take centre stage with compelling supporting roles from wild berry acidity and fine, dusty tannins. Oak treatment notes linger on the long finish with a medley of savoury spices.
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#10 - Burrowing Owl Estate Winery 2012 Meritage - $45
The style of the 2012 edition of Burrowing Owl's flagship wine is a product of the hot growing conditions of the season. Layered and complex, but innately accessible with ripeness in the red and dark fruit aromas on the sensual nose and in similar flavours on the dry, full-bodied palate.
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Friday, December 4, 2015

Monthly Picks: December '15 - Happy Holidays

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

Paired with... 

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

SpierHead Winery 2014 Riesling - $19
This Riesling will wake-up your senses with loads of lemon-lime and mineral characters on the fresh and vibrant nose and the bright and (slightly) effervescent palate. Look for layers of honey dew, herbs and pear. Clean, crisp, terroir-driven Riesling.
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Road 13 Vineyards 2014 Old Vines Chenin Blanc - $27
This Chenin Blanc offers delicate and complex aromas of kiwi fruit, minerals, apricot, lime, ripe peach and raw honey on the subtle nose. The palate is concentrated and full-ish with body and texture from 6.5g/l of residual sugar and succulent, tropical fruit flavours.
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...turkey (white meat)
For the white meat, go for a barrel fermented, single-varietal or blended white wine. Something with character, but not too much.

Cellar Hand 2014 Free Run White - $16
The nose offers ripe, delicate aromas of tropical and orchard fruit, most notably: pineapple, mango, apricot and nectarine. The medium-bodied palate follows with similar fruit flavours and added citrus notes and acidity.
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Le Vieux Pin 2013 Ava - $35
A Southern Rhone-inspired blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne (50-41-9%, respectively), that welcomes your appreciation with exotic tropical fruit, juicy white peach and crisp lemon characters on the delicate, floral-infused nose and on the rich, long-lasting palate where added layers of minerals, spice and lime rind await.
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...turkey (dark meat)
I love Gamay Noir with the dark turkey meat. A subtle and medium-bodied Pinot Noir is a good substitute.

Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars 2014 Gamay Noir - $23
The medium-plus bodied palate is Beaujolaise-Village-ish with a good balance of texture between bright, red fruit and fleshy-tangy flavours, finishing long with lingering wild berry acidity and spice.
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Stag's Hollow Winery 2014 Renaissance Grenache - $40
Owns a rich and bright palate with excellent length and continuity from the nose and just the faintest hint of residual sugar. Fine, smoky tannins and huckleberry acidity frame the ripe, juicy, red fruit and funky, savoury flavours. Christmas cake candied fruit and spices linger on the long finish.
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For the Christmas-Ham folks out there I suggest a slightly off-dry white with orchard fruit flavours to match the apple/honey glaze.

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2014 Chardonnay - $17
Stonefruit, pineapple and light spice grace the muted, cool nose of this Chardonnay from the Southern Okanagan Valley. The palate is juicy and generous, yet, grounded with mineral and citrus flavours, finishing crisp with lingering lemon zest and vanilla spice.
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JoieFarm 2012 "En Famille" Reserve Gewurztraminer - $28
Classic lychee, raw honey and floral characters, dialled-up to '11', on the uber crowd-pleasing, tropical fruit-infused nose and on the lip-smacking, off-dry, juicy palate where generous citrus acidity keeps the long, spicy finish clean and balanced.
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...roast beef
For the roast-lovers I recommend making a splash and introducing your family and friends to the joys of BC Cabernet Franc.

Cassini Cellars 2012 Maximus - $34
A blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc, opening with a seductive nose of black licorice, cassis liqueur, blackberry jam, toasted oak, tobacco leaf, peppercorn and vanilla aromas. The full-bodied and full-flavoured palate follows with similar flavours and silky-smooth tannins, finishing very long with well-balanced, lip-smacking acidity and lingering cassis liqueur, sweet oak and spice notes.
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Burrowing Owl Estate Winery 2012 Athene - $38
The "Athene" is Burrowing Owl's vivacious Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon blend (53%-47% respectively) that takes full advantage of the warm 2012 vintage, delivering ripe, dark fruit and intense, savoury herb characters on the charming nose and the complex, well-structured, mouth-watering palate.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2015

BC Wine Deal: December 4th, 2015

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

Please note, the prices below reflect the VQA store prices which include all taxes. The prices will be different at BCLDB stores which no longer include the %15 sales tax on wine.

Arrowleaf Pinot Gris was $17.85 IS NOW $16.95
Arrowleaf First Crush Red was $15.45 IS NOW $14.95
Blasted Church Hatfield's Fuse was $17.99 IS NOW $16.99
Cedar Creek Chardonnay was $19.99 IS NOW $17.99
Cedar Creek Merlot was $20.45 IS NOW $19.29
Fort Berens Meritage was $28.99 IS NOW $24.99 
Gehringer Ehrenfelser was $15.29 IS NOW $13.99 
Gehringer Summer Night was $14.99 IS NOW $12.99 
Gray Monk Latitude 50 White was $14.99 IS NOW $13.99
Gray Monk Odyssey Meritage White was $23.99 IS NOW $18.99 
Haywire Pinot Noir was $24.90 IS NOW $19.90
Hester Creek Character Red was $19.95 IS NOW $18.95 
Hester Creek Character White was $17.95 IS NOW $15.95 
Inniskillin Cabernet Sauvignon was $16.99 IS NOW $15.99
Inniskillin Pinot Blanc Reserve was $13.99 IS NOW $12.49 
Inniskillin Pinot Noir was $18.99 IS NOW $16.99
Jackson Triggs Reserve Merlot was $14.99 IS NOW $13.79 
Jackson Triggs Riesling Gewürztraminer was $13.99 IS NOW $12.99
Jackson Triggs Sunrock Meritage was $34.99 IS NOW $29.99
Jackson Triggs White Meritage was $19.99 IS NOW $18.99
La Stella Leggiero Chardonnay was $24.98 IS NOW $21.90
Little Straw Tapestry was $17.90 IS NOW $16.90
Monte Creek Riesling was $18.99 IS NOW $17.99
Mt.Boucherie Gamay Noir was $15.90 IS NOW $13.90
Mt.Boucherie Gewurztraminer was $17.00 IS NOW $15.00
Mt.Boucherie Riesling was $16.00 IS NOW $15.00
Noble Ridge Pinot Grigio was $19.99 IS NOW $18.99
Noble Ridge Pinot Grigio was $18.99 IS NOW $16.99 
Robin Ridge Merlot was $24.85 IS NOW $19.90
Robin Ridge Pinot Noir was $22.85 IS NOW $19.99
Robin Ridge The Big Bird was $31.90 IS NOW $24.99
Sage Hill Gewürztraminer was $28.85 IS NOW $27.90
Sage Hill Rose was $28.85 IS NOW $27.90
Sandhill Merlot was $20.99 IS NOW $19.99 
See Ya Later Chardonnay was $16.99 IS NOW $14.99
See Ya later Pinot Noir was $19.99 IS NOW $18.99
Sperling Pinot Gris was $18.99 IS NOW $17.99
Stag's Hollow Syrah was $28.99 IS NOW $27.99 
Sumac Ridge Cabernet Merlot was $14.99 IS NOW $13.99
Sumac Ridge Gewürztraminer was $14.99 IS NOW $12.99
Summerhill Alive Red ORGANIC was $24.95 IS NOW $22.95
The View Riesling was $18.90 IS NOW $15.90
Time Sundial was $16.99 IS NOW $13.99
Time White Meritage was $25.00 IS NOW $20.99
Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris was $18.99 IS NOW $16.99 
Therapy Pinot Gris was $20.99 IS NOW $19.99

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Featured Wines: Icons of Awesome

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.

Icons of Awesome

As we enter the Holiday season, great wines start arriving with increasing frequency in the Vintage Room. I’m not sure where these wines have been the whole year, my theories include:

-Hiding timidly in the forest until all the bears hibernate because they’re really scared of bears.

-Waiting to leave the warehouse until the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead because they were all watching that.

-Spending months at the warehouse waiting to be processed because the warehouse now only employs squirrels. Again, these are just theories.

Whatever the reason, I will have a lot of wines to tell you about, so my emails will come more frequently also, I hope you don’t mind. Today, we visit and revisit famous, iconic wines that are either new to us or a new vintage. We begin:

Penfolds 2011 Grange
Because of the reduced production (by half), I wasn't even sure that I was going to get any of this, or even whether BC was. 2011, one of the most challenging years in Aussie viticultural history, was disastrous to most South Australian wineries (many wineries didn't make a flagship that year), but because Grange isn’t tied to any single vineyard, winemaker Peter Gago could dramatically cut yields and pick and choose the very best fruit to make Penfolds’ (and Australia’s) most famous wine. It worked. Four fifths Barossa and one fifth McLaren Vale, this is only the sixth Grange since the ‘50s to be comprised entirely of Shiraz (most have a tiny bit of Cabernet), and the result is a stunning, deep, glass-staining red wine that bleeds blueberry jam and licorice, and threatens to never leave your mouth. I had a glass last month and I'm still smiling. 93 points Robert Parker, $725.00 +tax

Cakebread 2012 Dancing Bear Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon
A single-vineyard, high-elevation Cabernet from Napa’s Howell Mountain that has about as much in common with regular Cakebread Cab as a spear does with a popsicle stick. Often called California’s Chateau Latour, there is a very Pauillac-ish feel to this, with graphite and deep black fruits blending with the significant oak influence to give this a very opulent, Bordeaux-y texture, and contribute to its nearly perfect score. 99 points Robert Parker, $181.99 +tax

Joseph Phelps 2012 Insignia
Napa Valley’s first Proprietary Blend returns with a stunning 2012 that drinks like Goldilocks, now or 30 years from now. 75% Cab Sauv with Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cab Franc fighting for position, with 2 full years in 100% new French oak providing the life insurance. Blackcurrant liquor and incense precede a body like a bouncer and a frame like a log cabin. I like Insignia best after 10 years from its harvest date, it’s truly magical, but you can totally drink it now because I sell wine. 96 points Robert Parker, $318.99 +tax

Friday, November 20, 2015

Joie To The World

Our simple, silly wordplay is just an excuse to showcase the wines of one of BC's most consistent producers: JoieFarm. The Naramata Bench-located winery has seen its share of change in recent years with founding partner Michael Dinn leaving the company and the winery opening its doors to visitors. Amongst the change the wines have stayed amazingly consistent throughout the whole portfolio, which has added a few new additions over the years.

"Joie to the world, thy wine is yum!"

All BC wine drinkers should find something to love in the winery's Alsace and Burgundy inspired line-up of wines. From subtle, supple whites to earthy, layered reds, you'll find something to enjoy from the winery's 2015 releases this holiday season.

2014 Rosé - $21
From the eye-catching, watermelon Jolly Rancher colour to the combination of sweet red fruit and light, savoury herbs on the expressive nose and the lightly, off-dry palate where the residual sugar is balanced beautifully with tart cranberry and tangy citrus acidity and flavours.

2014 Pinot Blanc - $23
Look for aromas of fresh flowers, apple skins and honeydew melon followed by a tangy, potent medley of orchard fruit, grape seeds, minerals and citrus flavours. The 2014, finishes moderately long with lemon/lime zest and light spice notes. 

2014 Muscat - $23
An effortless Muscat with feminine, perfumed aromas orange blossoms,  soft spices, ripe, juicy peaches and nectarines and sweet, lemon drop candies. Sure to put a smile to the face of anyone who takes a sip.

2014 Riesling - $23
This golden-hued Riesling offers a tasty blend of both plump, sumptuous, honeydew and ripe papaya and lean, mean citrus fruit; a beautiful juxtaposition of sweet and tangy.

2013 Pinot Noir - $23
A blend of Pinot Noir clones from vineyards in Summerland and Naramata, this wine opens with a generous nose of both juicy and dried red fruit aromas with layers of spice and cured meat notes adding depth.

2014 Un-Oaked Chardonnay - $23
Despite the lack of oak contact and barrel ageing, a richly textured palate follows the nose thanks to plenty of lees contact in the stainless steel tanks. Similar flavours adorn the palate with enhanced stonefruit and citrus notes and loads of mouth-watering, briny acidity.

2014 A Noble Blend - $24
A complex, layered, Tropical and citrus fruit infused blend of 38% Gewurztraminer, 30% Riesling, 16% Pinot Auxerrois, 8% Pinot Blanc, 7% Muscat and 1% Schoenberger.

2013 PTG - $24
A blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir grapes (55/45% respectively) sourced from Naramata and Summerland vineyards which, together, cook-up a tasty, lively wine with an intriguing combination of candied red fruit, minerals, wild berries, Christmas spices, earthy dry herbs and light oak aromas and flavours.

2013 Gamay - $24
An expressive and sweetly scented, single-vineyard Gamay offering cherry nib and raspberry tart aromas grounded by savoury notes of cured meats, bay leaf, onion salt and white pepper.

2012 "En Famille" Reserve Gewurztraminer - $28
A one-of-a-kind. The only true Reserve Gewurztraminer produced in BC today with unparalleled intensity and unctuousness. Classic lychee, raw honey and floral characters, dialled-up to '11'.

2012 "En Famille" Reserve Chardonnay - $30
The 2012 edition has elegance, grace and length, showing excellent restraint on the nose and concentration on the palate. A blend of tropical and orchard fruit, mixed with fleshy lees, raw honey and cool mineral notes.

2012 "En Famille" Reserve Pinot Noir - $40
Opens with a maturing nose of sweet herbs, black cherry, raspberry seeds, cassis and light, spicy oak. The palate has plenty of vibrant texture and medium-plus body with a strong fruit component and fine tannins. The finish is spicy and mouth-watering with lingering, savoury earth and tingling raspberry notes.

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Featured Wines: Chateauneuf-du-Perfect

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.


The “New Castle of the Pope” that sits atop the hillside village that bears its name was originally built in the 14th century, to serve as a summer house of sorts for the Popes of the brief Avignon Papacy. Since it was the third one that they constructed and they haven’t built another one, I guess they can legitimately continue to call it “new”, but it underscores one of the prevailing differences between the New World and the Old: We think 100 years is a long time (and they think that 100km is a long way to drive).
Medieval Avignon was a bummer in summer. When the wind stopped, the bugs started. When the bugs stopped, the wind started, and flooding from the adjacent Rhone was commonplace (folks in Winnipeg say “wow, upgrade”). Pope John XXII ordered that a new castle be built on the top of a lone hill a few miles up the river, slightly uphill from the existing fortress that the locals called Castro Novo (Latin for New Castle, meaning that at some point there was an even older one). John celebrated the castle’s completion in 1333 by promptly dying, but the castle was used by subsequent Popes as a way to escape the heat and pests of swampy Avignon (it’s nicer now). Where the Pope goes, so does the church, and where the church goes, so does wine, so dozens of vineyard plots were cleared surrounding the village, many of which continue to be farmed today. The wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape were born.
After the Papacy returned to Rome and the Rhone valley was invaded by everyone but Orcs, Chateauneuf-du-Pape ultimately found itself part of Republican France, but despite its ever-changing allegiances, the town kept one constant over the centuries: amazing wine. American critic Robert Parker introduced these wines to the wider world in the 1980s, and although prices haven’t reached the crazy heights of Bordeaux or Burgundy (yet), the quality and acclaim have.
Here are some iconic, classic CDPs that are new to the Vintage Room:

2012 Chateau Beaucastel
Boasting its highest Parker rating since the legendary 2001 vintage, this is one of the thickest, fullest Beaucastels in recent memory (although I was also a fan of the more demure, introspective 2011). The Perrin family’s flagship wine is Grenache dominant but contains a larger component of structured Mourvedre than other CDPs, which is one of the reasons it cellars so well and so long. This is the wine that all its contemporaries measure themselves against. 96 points Robert Parker, $82.99 +tax (also see IW reviews from 2011, 2009)

2013 Chateau Beaucastel Blanc Roussanne Vieille Vignes
As if the Wine Gods misplaced what they were drinking and mortals found it and quickly bottled it. The texture is what slays: rainwater minerality among oodles of flesh and creamy viscosity. 100% percent white Roussanne from 100+ year-old vines, I tasted some bottles from 1980s vintages when I was there a couple years ago, and although it ages amazingly I think I still prefer the fireworks of youth. Oak aged but without malolactic fermentation, its buttery enough without it, and the citrus preserves on the nose seal the deal. I grabbed all that I could. If you don’t buy it, try to acquire a friend who did and make sure to do odd chores for them. 97 points Robert Parker, 96 points Wine Spectator, $142.99 +tax

2012 Roger Sabon Cuvee Reserve
The town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape is teeming with Sabons, the family name dates back to the 1500s there. Roger Sabon broke with his family winery Clos du Mont Olivet (also awesome) in 1952 to make his own wine, and this Cuvee Reserve is 80% Grenache, with Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault fighting for position. Spicy, bold and present, but with a more traditional body (medium-full) that befits the house style. Dried herbs and white pepper support darker fruit to start, black pepper comes back on the finish. Way-cool and one of the better values I’ve found from CDP, recently. 93 points Robert Parker, $49.99 +tax