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

Monday, November 2, 2015

Monthly Picks: November'15 - BC Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is a red grape that, along with Syrah, may prove to be known as BC's signature grapes in the near future. Producers are discovering that when properly ripened, the Cabernet Franc grape can produce charming and unique wines on its own without the need of blending (or much blending).Here are a few of our favourites from the past two vintages.

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2013 Cabernet Franc - $22
Opens with a meaty, dusty, nose of boysenberry, anise, wild sagebrush, dried bay leaf, pipe tobacco and pine sap aromas. The palate is dry and rather intense with similar flavours and a mouth-watering blend of bright, blue fruit and savoury, earthy notes.
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Fort Berens Estate Winery 2013 Cabernet Franc - $25
A consistent flavour and aroma profile, year-to-year, yields a masculine Cabernet Franc with a nice blend of blue fruit purée and savoury herbs characters on the expressive nose and the uber-dry and mineral'n'oak-infused palate.Wild berry acidity and firm tannins frame the long finish where tongue-tingling bitter-spice and toasted oak notes linger.
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River Stone Estate Winery 2013 Cabernet Franc -$26
Shows depth on the nose with blackberry, wild flower'n'herbs, plum, soft spices, boysenberry and light cedar aromas. The dry, well-structured palate expresses similar flavours with added coffee grind and earthy notes and fine, ripe tannins. The finish is long and balanced with lingering wild berry notes.
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Fairview Cellars 2013 Premier Series Cabernet Franc - $30
A stunning Cabernet Franc from an excellent vintage offering a memorable, feminine nose of ripe, wild berry, vanilla, mint, pot-pourri, dry herb and wild flower aromas. The dry, full-bodied palate that follows is youthful with burgeoning complexity from mixed berry, toasted oak, licorice, dark chocolate, vanilla, mint, spice and light forest flavours that are lovingly supported by mouth-watering acidity and fine, medium tannins through to a long finish with lingering cassis and herb notes.
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Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2012 Oldfield Series Cabernet Franc - $30.50
Happily offers the same wild berry, sagebrush and pipe tobacco medley of aromas and flavours of the uber-popular 'regular' label (2012) just with a more polished structure of ripe, smoky tannins and a richer, fuller palate with fleshy plum and smooth cocoa notes thanks to additional ageing on lees in oak barrels (18 months) and a full year in the bottle prior to release.
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Burrowing Owl Estate Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc - $33
Sourced from the estate vineyard along the Black Sage Bench, on offer are classic notes of wild berries, dried herbs, licorice, vanilla-spice, toasted oak, pipe tobacco, menthol and the ethereal 'Franc funk' on both the intense, dense nose and the bright, lightly tannic palate. Length is good, not great, but you will love the unique combination of the fruit and savoury characters that only good Cabernet Franc can deliver.
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Cassini Cellars 2012 Cabernet Franc - $TBA
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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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2015