Friday, April 22, 2016

News: Bordeaux Futures Return to Marquis

After a break of three years, Vancouver's Marquis Wine Cellars is getting back in the business of selling Bordeaux Futures for the yet-to-be bottled 2014 vintage. The self imposed hiatus was, seemingly, less an active protest of the high-price-to-low-quality ratio that Bordeaux wines were perceived to be offering in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 vintages than it was simply a business decision to invest time (read: money) in procuring wines from other regions without the same negative baggage.

Whatever the reason, they're back at it and that's good news for Vancouver's Bordeaux faithful whose only access to these wines was limited to waiting in line at the annual BCLDB release each fall or through illegal imports from Albertan wine shops.

Visit for more details on the wines they are including in their futures program.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Featured Wines: Iberian Express

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.

Iberian Express
By Jordan Carrier

As the Iberian Peninsula was gradually retaken by Christianity centuries ago, winemaking – prohibited under the previous Caliphates – returned with it. Monks from monasteries like Cluny in Burgundy (no stranger to viticulture, they) flooded into the valleys of the Oja and Duero rivers, bringing know-how and planting vineyards. They founded monasteries in what became Rioja (from “River-Oja”) to serve travellers on the pilgrim’s route Camino de Santiago, and repopulated the Ribera del Duero area, which remained sparsely agrarian until just a few decades ago. The strong connection to Burgundy contributed to the myth that the predominant Tempranillo grape descended from Pinot Noir, although DNA testing has proven otherwise (ancient Phoenicians likely introduced the grape’s ancestors long ago).

Today, Spain consistently has the most acreage devoted to grapes, although because of nutrient-poor soil and the resulting low-density planting, they lag far behind Italy and France in terms of volume produced. Where Spain and neighbouring Portugal do not lag, however, is in great value. Perhaps because of their economic challenges, a wine-drinker’s dollar goes a lot further there. You can spend $20 dollars and be pleasantly surprised. You can spend $70 and be continuously happy until somebody shakes you. You can spend $300 and become something we’ve not yet invented a word for.

Here are some excellent examples:

La Rioja Alta 2004 Gran Reserva 904 - Rioja
Taking its name from the cooler-climate, higher-altitude Alta region of Rioja, where Burgundian monks planted the first vineyards, this winery produces traditionally structured, lighter hued wines with enormous kick and cellaring potential. Indeed, even though this Gran Reserva (top classification) is 12 years old, it has only just entered its ideal drinking window, and has at least another decade in the gas tank. Meaty leather and spice notes surround the dried fruit; this is timeless Rioja, delicious and smarty-pants. 96 points Robert Parker, $70.49 +tax

Vega Sicilia 2010 Valbuena - Ribera del Duero
Another classically built Tempranillo (with a smidge of Merlot), this time from Ribera del Duero’s original winery, the legendary Vega Sicilia. Valbuena has always taken a back seat to Vega’s iconic Unico blend in both lore and price tag, but it has always tended to be the more masculine of the two, both in structure and colour, without sacrificing any of its cousin’s famous elegance. I haven’t opened my bottle yet, partially because I love aged classic wines, and partially because I’m worried that Valbuena may try to drag my teeth down with it as I drink, but the Wine Advocate review does name this year as the beginning of its window, with cherry cigar and citrus peel contained in a cedar box. Very happy to finally carry this! 96 points Robert Parker, $223.49 +tax

Taylor Fladgate 1966 Very Old Single Harvest Tawny Port
As we cross the border from Spain into Portugal, the Duero river becomes the Douro, Tempranillo becomes Tinto Roriz (pronounced HOR-EECH, because Portuguese is basically Spanish on Sinutab), but the winemaking doesn’t get any less awesome. This magical elixir is a Colheita, a Tawny Port from a single vintage (not to be confused with Vintage Port), and it’s all-filling, comforting, and remarkably fruitful for its half-century of age. Toasted caramel, dried apricot and spice abound, this Port hides its booze with remarkable integration and almost infinite length. Goodness me, this is fine liquid. Drink it to celebrate a 50th birthday, 50 years of marriage (someone else’s is fine), or even the 50th anniversary of the first Doors album (yep, it’s been that long). 96 points Wine Spectator, $259.99 +tax


Masterclass: Riesling, the Noble Grape, Thursday April 28, 6:30pm-8pm, Seats $50 +gst
Super excited to drink this many Rieslings in a row, and Yasha is super excited to do food pairings for an all-white-wine evening! Classic wines from across the European spectrum, dry Alsace, rich Austrian and 3 Pradikats of German Rieslings await us on our aromatic travels. 

The wines:

2009 Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile, Alsace, France, 92 points James Sucklin, $79.99
2012 Zind Humbrecht Clos Saint Urbain, Alsace, France, 97 points Robert Parker, $124.99
2009 Nikolaihof Smaragd, Wachau, Austria, 96 points Robert Parker, $58.99
2012 Schloss Johannisberg Kabinett Feinherb, Rheingau, Germany, $40.49
2013 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Spatlese, Mosel, Germany 95 points Wine Spectator, $130.99
2006 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Auslese Goldkapsel, Rheinhessen, Germany, 95 points Wine Spectator, $130.99

2010 Rabl TrockenberenAuslese, Kamptal, Austria, $99.99

Friday, April 1, 2016

Featured Wines: A Salad of Italians

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.

A Salad of Italians

As I was trying to recommend a wine to someone last week, he told me something extraordinary: “I don’t really like Italian wine”. My mouth opened but I said nothing. It must have looked like I was blinking Morse code at him, because I had no response to a statement that broad, it’s like saying “I don’t like leaves”. Surely you like some leaves? If you think hard enough? Tea? Mint? The Maple leaf? There’s too broad an assortment of items to dismiss the group categorically, and in practice there’s really no such group as “Italian Wine”.

We can mistake Italy as a culturally homogeneous Super-Mario-Land, but in truth Italy has been a unified country for less time than our own. Before the late 19th century Risorgimento going back to the fall of Rome, the Italian peninsula was a quilt of city states, Duchies and little Empires, all of which were intermittently at war with each other. If you travel 200km in any direction, you will find different architecture, cuisine, dialect and entirely different styles of wine, made with different grapes. Amarone has as much in common with Barbaresco as a Slinky has with a Ford Explorer, even though the two regions are separated by less than the distance between Vancouver and Princeton.

From Tuscany to Piedmont to Trento, allow me to present 3 wildly different “Italian wines”:

Nada Giuseppe Casot 2008 Barbaresco Riserva (Piedmont)
A deliciously drinkable Barbaresco for an outstanding price, brand new to our fair province. A tiny winery from Treiso, one of the 4 villages within the Barbaresco boundaries, run by the Nada family, who will be here in the Vintage Room tomorrow (Sunday) at 1:30pm, pouring this and two other wines. Classic nose of flowers and red fruit over quite a full package, and the acidity is balanced and in check, which isn’t a given for a Barbaresco this young. 3 6-packs available, $60.49 +tax

Biondi-Santi 2009 Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany)
We wouldn’t be talking about Brunello if it weren’t for Biondi-Santi, who was making world-class Sangiovese a century ago when everyone else in Montalcino was just making happy-juice. They led, the region followed, and it’s nice to finally be able to offer the (unofficial) First Growth of Montalcino after years of trying to obtain it. Traditionally austere (even in the ripe 2009 vintage), medium bodied and designed for the cellar, we get earthy licorice and restrained darker fruit in a serious frame. It drinks like history, and I’m super stoked to carry it. 93 points Robert Parker, $215.99 +tax

Giulio Ferrari 2004 “Riserva del Fondatore”  (Trento)
One of my favourite finds from the recent Wine Fest, this was one of the “buzz booths” of the floor tasting, always crowded and noisy. A sparkling wine made with Champagne grapes using the Champagne method that would easily cost twice as much if it were actually from Champagne. Made from Chardonnay vines imported by Giulio Ferrari when northern Trento was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, this is lush, layered bubble with stone fruit, minerals, smoke and brioche, both generous and focussed. So good, it’ll easily hijack any conversation you were previously having. 98 points Decanter, $109.99 +tax


Masterclass: Kings of California, Thursday April 7 6:30pm - 8pm, seats $50
Another horizontal tasting of sorts, this time focussing on the 2012 vintage in Napa and Sonoma, the first of 4 outstanding back-to-back vintages from California. Yasha makes the tasty nibbles, I make the bad jokes, the wines make everything awesome. What wines? Oh, these ones:

2012 Stonestreet Upper Barn Chardonnay, 97 points Robert Parker, $121.49
2012 Hartford Court Far Coast Pinot Noir, 96 points Robert Parker, $121.99
2012 Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, $107.99
2012 Vineyard 29 Cru Cabernet Sauvignon, 92 points Robert Parker, $51.99
2012 Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon, $74.99
2012 Cade Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 98 points Robert Parker, $282.99