Friday, February 12, 2016

Pinot Trio

SpierHead has come a long way with their handling of Pinot Noir since their first vintage of estate grown fruit in 2010. Now 6 years on, the East Kelowna winery is making a name for itself with multiple Pinot Noir labels in their portfolio. The 2014 vintage yielded a trio of excellent Pinots ranging from light, bright and full of might to rich'n'supple. Pinophiles will enjoy tasting all three, side-by-side-by-side, picking out the differences and similarities between the labels which I've tried to capture below.

2014 Pinot Noir - $23
A bright and fresh Pinot Noir with juicy-tangy red fruit prominent on the engaging nose and the mouth-watering, (mostly) dry palate. Cherry nibs, vanilla, mild oak and mineral notes add complexity throughout. Light spice and chocolate-covered cherry flavours linger on the moderate-plus finish.

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2014 GFV Saddle Block Pinot Noir - $27
The Momma Bear of the Pinot Noir trilogy on offer from East Kelowna's SpierHead Winery. Falls right in the middle on the richness scale between the other two. The "GFV" (for Gentleman Farmer Vineyard) is feminine and well-balanced, hosting a range of red fruits on the inviting nose and the concentrated, spicy palate. The finish is long with lingering wild berry acidity.
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2014 Pinot Noir Cuvée - $32
Lives up to its billing as the winery's flagship Pinot Noir (they make 2 others), this micro cuvée is blended from select barrels and produces a beautiful wine, rich in complexity and texture. The loving embrace of French oak is felt on the vanilla-kissed, cherry-raspberry nose and on the vibrant, medium-plus bodied, red fruit and tea leaf palate. Structure is solid with silky-smooth tannins and huckleberry acidity. The finish is long and spicy with lingering dark cherry and Black Forest cake flavours.
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Featured Wines: Napa Awesomeness

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.

Napa Awesomeness
There’s a cartoon circulating on social media that shows a caveman and a cavewoman enjoying a glass of wine as they discuss the finer points of food pairings. “It’s easy”, the lady says, “if it tried to eat us, pair it with red wine. If it ran away from us, pair it with a white”.
The Californian red wines that have rolled into the vintage room over the past weeks are so robust and so huge, that by that caveman logic they should be paired with, like, a rabid tiger with sharks for feet. We’ll be seeing a lot of well rated, high profile Napa and Sonoma wines released this year, as some wineries release their 2012 reserve tiers and others release the mighty 2013s, a vintage that Robert Parker has called the best of his 37 years of wine reviewing.
The accolated vintage, conflated with our lower dollar, will certainly drive up prices on US wines in the future, but the wines featured in today’s email were bought and imported last year, before stuff got real. We received them only recently because of the BCLDB’s tendency to subject new wine imports to an intense, months-long staring contest in their warehouse. They refuse to release the wines to private stores until they’ve had a good, long, hard look at them. Or so I presume. To the wines:

Lewis Cellars
Former race car driver Randy Lewis runs this relatively small winery with his wife Debbie and his son Dennis, but it’s their winemaker Josh Widaman, formerly of Pahlmeyer and Stag’s Leap, who makes headlines here. The bruiser of a Cabernet sees almost 2 years in new French oak, while the spicy Alec’s Blend, comprised of Syrah, Merlot and Cab, gains gorgeous, lush texture from its residency in smoother American oak. Thick, concentrated juice is the focus, and has landed them on the WS Top 100 with enviable frequency. I got the most that I could, I hope it’s enough.
Lewis Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 95 points Wine Spectator, $124.49 +tax
Lewis Cellars Alec’s Blend, 94 points Wine Spectator, $104.99 +tax

Venge Vineyards
Before you start imagining “Venge” as a Chuck Norris character, I should inform you that it’s a Danish name that rhymes with Benji. Not so tough now, eh, Chuck? These wines ARE tough, though. The Bone Ash Cab, from an organic, dry-farmed 12 acre plot in Calistoga, is a dense time capsule that Mr. Parker insists will last until the middle of this century, while the Silencieux, from younger vines, gives the modern Napa fruitsplosion of blackberry and blueberry that devours most parties and demands offerings of meat. The Venge family has farmed Napa since the 1970s, and 3rd generation Kirk Venge leads the valley in sustainable viticulture. Plus he kicks butt. Sustainably.
Venge Bone Ash Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 96+ points Robert Parker, $138.99 +tax
Venge Silencieux Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 95 points Robert Parker, $108.99 +tax

Spottswoode 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
One of the most Bordeaux-like Napa Cabs on the market, which surprises the folks at Spottswoode more than anyone. Farmers since 1972, winemakers since 1982, organic since 1985, the Novak family pretty much just bottles what comes out of the ground with minimal intervention. Luckily for them, what comes out of the ground at the historic Spottswoode estate is strikingly similar to classified Pauillac, full, flinty and piercingly bold. Like in Bordeaux, however, minimalist winemaking produces varied vintages – not every year is a winner – but this 2012 is a joyfully classic offering from an outstanding season, and is a Cellar Star that will peak in 2 Olympics. 96 points Robert Parker, $209.49 +tax

Cade Howell Mountain 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
I saved this one for last to make sure you were still paying attention. Sister winery to Plumpjack, Cade is where you want to go when zombies take over, because they’re LEED certified, almost off the grid (powered by solar), on the top of a mountain (good defensive positioning), and they’ll have stacked cases of this godly tonic, on par with Hillside Select, Insignia and Cardinale. You can drink this tonight or in 20 years, and in both cases you will find mouth-topia. I was able to grab 3 6-packs of this, but if you’re interested please hurry, the zombies are coming. 98 points Robert Parker,  $282.99 +tax