Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Try This, Cellar That - Tinhorn Cabernet Franc


Long a signature variety for the Golden Bench winery, Tinhorn produces three Cabernet Franc wines, one a rosé, but for the purpose of this comparison, we'll focus on the two reds. We're going against convention with the reserve-tier wine suggested as the "drink now" bottle, but since Tinhorn have done the work for you by keeping the Oldfield Series Franc back an extra year and treating the wine to added time in oak where the tannins matured, the choice is made easier.

Try This...

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2013 Oldfield Series Cabernet Franc - $30
An uber smooth and elegant Cabernet Franc with the classic, dried flowers and brambly fruit you've come to expect from a BC Cabernet Franc but presented with the refinement and texture of a high-end Cabernet Sauvignon. Notes of pipe tobacco, light cola, wild berry, plum and a medley of corned beef characters: cloves, juniper berries, allspice and black pepper, grace the comforting nose and the mellow, smoky-tannin palate. As with all of the Oldfield Series wines, this Cabernet Franc has been released when it is ready to be enjoyed but will also feel at home in your cellar for another 2-3 years.
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Cellar That...

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Franc - $24
A brooding Cabernet Franc from the excellent 2014 vintage, full of dark berry fruit, intense earthy-herbs and meaty-metallic aromas and flavours but not without a few feminine touches like candied fruit, mocha and floral notes on the otherwise masculine nose and palate. Well structured with dusty tannins and fleshy, berry acidity. Length is moderate, but well balanced. Enjoy now or over the next 3-4 years with some further development likely.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2017 IconWines.ca

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Try This, Cellar That - OK Falls Chardonnay

BC Chardonnay come in a variety of different styles; from lean and mean, to big and buttery, and everything in between. The best are vehicles for their terroir and find the sweet spot on the winemaking decision spectrums which measure vineyard management and vinification manipulation. Here are two options who managed the feat admirable, both from the same vintage and geographical area: Okanagan Falls/ Skaha Bench, in the Southern Okanagan. One for now, one for later.

Try This...
Liquidity Wines 2015 Chardonnay - $26
An elegant Chardonnay, nice and tidy with nothing out of place. Avoids the pitfalls of tasting forced with regards to winemaking decisions like so many others do. Subtle oak and partial malolactic fermentation notes frame the characteristics of the estate-sourced fruit nicely; medium intense, pear, peach and papaya fruits, light herbs and macadamia nut aromas and flavours with crisp, citrus acidity. Drink now-2020.
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Cellar That...

Painted Rock Estate Winery 2015 Chardonnay - $35
As complex as it is ever-evolving, multifaceted, production recipe with aromas and flavours of honeydew, pear, tangerine, lemon/lime, vanilla, stonefruit, spice and brioche. Pure, refined and elegant with a harmonious balance of its core elements: fruit, acid and texture. An effortless intensity which will help the wine hold for many years and develop further over time as the intensity is slowly dialled back to reveal layers of dried and candied fruit aromas and flavours. Drink 2017-2022+
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Friday, May 26, 2017

Consumer Tasting of South African Wines with Oyama Sausage Co. Treats

Sourced from a Wines of South Africa media release from Dana Lee Consulting Ltd.

Select South African wines will be featured at BCLDB throughout the month of June.  In conjunction with the promotion, BCLDB's 39th & Cambie Signature Liquor Store will host a FREE consumer tasting on Thursday, June 8th 2017.  Guests at the event will enjoy South African wine samples paired with bites from Granville Island's Oyama Sausage Co.

Two groups of wines will be featured at the Cambie & 39th event.  From 2:00 to 4:00pm:



A second flight of wines will be poured from 4:00 to 6:00pm:



#     #     #

About Wines of South Africa: Wines of South Africa (WOSA) is a fully inclusive body, representing all South African producers of wine who export their products. WOSA, which was established in its current form in 1999, has over 500 exporters on its database, comprising all the major South African wine exporters. South Africa's winemaking history stretches back to the 1600s.  In recent years, however, the country has combined longstanding traditions with cutting-edge technology and a commitment to environmental stewardship. http://www.wosa.co.za/

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About Oyama Sausage Co.: Oyama Sausage was founded by John and Christine Van Der Lieck in 2001. Located in Granville Island's Public Market, the shop carries a wide selection of fresh sausages and handmade pâtés, as well as cured salamis and hams. John, whose ancestry includes five generations of Dutch and German charcuterie makers, has cultivated partnerships with local farmers and suppliers to ensure he works with only the best ingredients. He experiments with fusions between traditional charcuterie (including recipes that have been in his family for generations) and international cuisine, drawing from the rich diversity of food cultures in Vancouver to create modern and exciting flavour combinations that reflect the multicultural mosaic of the city.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Willamette's White Rose Estate

If the wine in this week's Featured Wines column tickle your fancy, you can order them directly from Jordan by email (JCarrier@everythingwine.ca) or find him in the Vintage Room of Everything Wine's Morgan Crossing location in South Surrey.



Willamette's White Rose Estate
By Jordan Carrier


There are more opinions out there on Pinot Noir than the Oxford comma (on which I don’t personally have a stance - pro, con or otherwise). Many New World Pinot-fans seek body and purity of fruit, dismissing the more subtle, earthen notes of Euro-Pinot as “Old Sock” (one of the more popular and curious descriptors I’ve encountered – would they prefer New Sock?). Burgundy-philes reject Californian Pinots in particular as rooty-tooty pancake syrup, placing greater value on the light-to-medium layered textures, tannins and crisp acidity (they would call it Freshness) found in traditional bottlings. Brothers and sisters, can we get along?

Yep, over a glass of White Rose.

There is bold fruit here, balanced among the flowers and spices, further amplified by the whole-cluster pressings that they’re famous for. In the glass, though, it looks and acts like Pinot, unapologetically medium-bodied and racy (lower weight does not equal lower intensity, if unconvinced, see: Barolo). Tucked in behind Domaine Serene in the Dundee Hills, White Rose has tried to maintain a low profile while a cult built up around them; ultra-low yields (hence the intensity), super-gentle pressings (it’s more like a neck rub), natural yeast fermentation and neutral barrel aging – this method of winemaking couldn’t be less interventionist if it were performed by tree nymphs.

And they really don’t make much of it, we’re lucky to get any at all. I’m not sure why we get it at such a relatively low price either, but I don’t want to look too closely at it in case it’s a mistake.

White Rose Pinot Noir 2015
Cult Pinot at a mainstream price. One could be forgiven for calling this catch-all “Willamette” appellation bottling their “entry level” wine, but it doesn’t drink like one. Vibrant red fruits, singed herbs, cardamom, clove, orange peel. Medium bodied and zippy, focused and long, this is mega-happy-juice for well-informed patios. Sells for $40 USD at the winery. 5 cases available, $46.49 +tax

White Rose “Dundee Hills” Pinot Noir 2011
Loved it so much last time, I brought it back. This is the sneaky, re-labelled wine the Americans call “The Neo-Classical Objective” that was imported into BC under the generic “Dundee Hills” label so that the Oregon peeps wouldn’t get mad about us getting it cheaper. Jeepers creepers, I love this sleeper vintage, I fell in love with the misunderstood 2011s when I was down there last summer. Like the unusually late harvest, these wines just needed more patience to start coming around. Now they’re around. Boy are they ever. Dried flowers, white pepper and allspice surround the bright raspberry and strawberry notes. Layers and layers on the palate, good fruit intensity, a very Burgundian lift just on the end. Sells (as “Neo-Classical”) for $80 USD at the winery. 6 6-packs available, $64.99 +tax

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

International Sauvignon Blanc Day on Friday, May 5th

On the heels of World Malbec Day comes the lesser promoted (in the BC market, anyway) International Sauvignon Blanc Day on Friday, May 5th. To mark the occasion and the celebrate one of my personal favourite varieties, I offer a selection of Sauvignon Blanc to seek out and enjoy. Not all of the selections are of the current vintages available, but each is a consistent producer, from year to year.

Nederburg Wines 2015 Winemaster's Reserve Sauvignon Blanc - $13
Pungent and refreshing on the nose with fresh oyster minerality and sodium. Tangy gooseberry, crisp citrus and green apple flavours blend nicely on the sharp, mouth-watering palate. A touch of citrus peel and spice lingers on the moderate finish.

Sileni Estates 2016 Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc - $18
The 2016 offers greater balance than recent vintages thanks to a more perceptible layer of lees and baked orchard fruit notes beneath the prominent citrus and mineral characters on the stonefruit-infused nose and textured palate.

Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars 2015 Sauvignon Blanc - $19
A supremely refreshing, low-alcohol Sauvignon Blanc produced from 8-10 year old vines using a wild yeast ferment and minimal oak contact: a clean, pure expression of the French variety. Opens with a with a mellow nose of citrus fruit and Jazz apple aromas and the faint smell of oak and briny seashells. An intense, citrus and mineral-infused palate follows sporting a fairly full mouth-feel with hints of herbs and lemon peel through to the long finish.

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.

Fairview Cellars 2013 Sauvignon Blanc - $20
The nose of this Sauvignon Blanc doesn't appear until the wine has warmed in the glass, which many of us won't wait to experience. If you do, it's a nose fuelled by apples, citrus and stonefruit aromas.Instead, we'll enjoy this tasty wine, with our favourite seafood dish or a hard cheese plate and appreciate the multitudes of textures on the palate.

La Frenz Winery 2012 Sauvignon Blanc - $22
Tangy citrus, ripe papaya and sea shells grace the nose of this boisterous Sauvignon Blanc from Naramata Bench produce La Frenz Winery who, through past success, have become one of the most consistent producers of the French variety. The palate's flavour profile, which ranges from lemon/lime to green apple to stonefruit to brioche, benefits from selective blending from multiple fruit sources and prolonged lees contact creating mouth feel and a long finish.

Le Vieux Pin 2015 Sauvignon Blanc - $30
A complex, finely tuned, rich-yet-refreshing Sauvignon Blanc with ample layers of tropical fruit, herbals, minerals and lees on the delicate nose and medium-bodied palate. The finish is long and richly textured with lingering citrus peel and level, spice notes.


Bench 1775 Winery 2011 Whistler Sauvignon Blanc Icewine - $30
Produced under Bench 1775's 'Whistler' brand, this tasty 100% Sauvignon Blanc icewine delivers an impressive punch of concentrated, honey crisp apples on the serene, sweet-smelling nose and on the well-balanced, intense palate. The sticky, pineapple upside-down cake and candied-peach flavours are beautifully managed with impressive, green apple acidity keeping the gooey texture fresh and mouth-watering.

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2017 IconWines.ca

Friday, April 28, 2017

Try This, Cellar That - Kaiken Malbec

This week we showcase two Malbecs from Argentina's Kaiken Wines:

Try This...
Kaiken 2015 Reserva Malbec - $15
Impressive balance and intensity for the price, the Kaiken Reserva Malbec is produced by the Montes family of Chile from Mendoza fruit and offers a blooming nose of dark berry fruit, charred oak and sweet pipe tobacco aromas followed by a mouth-watering, full-bodied and round palate with a combination of sweet berry and spicy flavours. Finished with a hint of mint. Enjoy in its youth with sweet'n'spicy, BBQ dished. Drink now-2019.

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Cellar That...
Kaiken 2014 Ultra Malbec - $25
The Ultra Malbec sees 12 months in French oak prior to bottling, imparting a smoothness to the palate and light oak aromas and flavours. Ripe, dark fruit throughout with lively, brambly acidity, soft, fine tannins and a touch of smoke and spice that linger on the moderate-plus finish. Handles its 14.5% alcohol superbly. Ready to go now, or hold for some further development over the next 2-3 years. Drink now-2020.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2017 IconWines.ca

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Featured Wines: 3 for Under $50

If the wine in this week's Featured Wines column tickle your fancy, you can order them directly from Jordan by email (JCarrier@everythingwine.ca) or find him in the Vintage Room of Everything Wine's Morgan Crossing location in South Surrey.



3 for Under $50


“Hipster” is a funny term to watch evolve in the wild, because it produces the most push-back from the people it’s most correctly used on. If someone calls me a Hipster, I laugh and wonder if that person can see. If the same title is levelled at a young man with ironic boots, a pierced beard and Far Side glasses, you’ll invariably hear “Ugh, I hate Hipsters” before he leaves in disgust, spilling his tomato stout as he gets into his Yugo.  Of course now that I just wrote that – by my own rules – I’m one too…. Drat, I didn’t think that through.

The following are certainly not Hipster Wines (even if they were I wouldn’t call them that because then the Hipsters wouldn’t buy them) because they can be enjoyed completely unironically, but they do have unique, esoteric qualities. Satisfying enough to patio, but cool enough to intrigue your meta-nephew (who you should not under any circumstances call a Hipster). We begin:

Mazzei Zisola 2013, Sicily, Italy
In truth, this was almost a “Back Up The Truck” (it’s a Top 100 wine), but I just don’t have quite enough. This is magnetic, spot-on Sicilian Nero d’Avola with savoury herbaceous notes over black forest cake. The fruit party takes a left turn on the finish, where the orangey acidity and tannic structure give it that final push towards classicism. Mazzei is a Chianti Classico family that was drawn to Sicily by curiosity and – let’s stay real – very agreeable prices. They found a small hamlet near Noto called Zisola, where grape vines were still being grown and harvested hunter-gatherer-style in the bush training system, and they set up shop. Keep your eye on this wine, this won’t be the last time it makes the year-end lists. We’ll be tasting Zisola in the Vintage Room this Saturday at 3pm! 92 points James Suckling, 92 points Wine Enthusiast, #89 – Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2015, 15 6-packs available, $39.99 +tax

Chateau de Nages “JT Rouge” 2006, Costières de Nimes, France
With a decade under its belt and both feet planted firmly in the zone-of-awesome, this wine will spend a lot of time travelling to my belly. 100% Organic Syrah from just south of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, culled from a single block of a single vineyard, and vinified by Halos de Jupiter guru Philippe Cambie and biodynamic-minimalist/crazy-man Michel Gassier. The fringes belong to tertiary leather and tea, but the primary fruit still runs the table with blood orange and floral notes, falling into a way-bigger-than-expected body and a firm, almost Bordeaux-like finish. Very way-cool. The texture is multi-layered and earned, with wisps of pepper and smoked meat. We’ll be pouring this one also this Saturday at 3pm.One-time-only buy, this won’t be back. 6 wooden 6-packs available, $49.99 +tax


Louis Jadot Chateau des Jacques “Clos du Grand Carquelin” 2013, Moulin-a-Vent, France
A new vintage for this “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Burgundy” superstar that I’ve written about before. Burgundian viticulture and quality for half the price, this is Cru Beaujolais in all of its glory. It follows the same adherence to terroir specificity (Region>>Village>>Vineyard) as Premier Cru Burgundy, and it’s made by  Louis Jadot (in their surrogate Beaujolais winery Chateau des Jacques) in almost exactly the same way they make their Burgundian Pinot Noirs. The indigenous Gamay brings a shade more friendly red fruit to the party than Pinot, but you can pair this with any Burgundian match – duck, mushroom risotto, ratatouille – and be awesome. 93 points Wine Enthusiast, 3 cases available, $46.99 +tax

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Celebrate Malbec World Day with Free Wine Tastings

This year's Malbec World Day falls on Monday, April 17th, and British Columbia will get a jump on the celebrations with free Argentinean wine tastings at 5 private stores.  In addition, select BCLDB stores throughout the province will offer free tastings of Argentinean wines in April.

In BC, the following private stores will host complimentary consumer tastings.  Each store will pour at least 6 different Malbecs and Malbec blends, paired with samples of authentic Argentinean cuisine.

Saturday April 8 2017:

North Vancouver, South Surrey & Langford locations
2:00 to 6:00pm

1034 Davie Street, Vancouver
With traditional empanadas from Panaderia Latina Bakery
PLUS a DJ will provide music at this lively event - 
2:00 to 5:00pm 
(Donations accepted to the BC Hospitality Foundation)

Saturday April 15 2017:

1633 Manitoba Street, Vancouver 
2:00 to 6:00pm

Also:
  • Keep an eye on Icon Scores for new reviews of Malbecs in March and April.
  • BC Liquor Stores across the province will host over 50 Malbec World Day tastings.
  • Follow twitter @ArgentinaWineCA or #MalbecWorldDay for ALL locations.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Featured Wines: Wine Salad

If the wine showcased in this week's Featured Wines column tickle your fancy, you can order them directly from Jordan by email (JCarrier@everythingwine.ca) or find him in the Vintage Room of Everything Wine's Morgan Crossing location in South Surrey.



Wine Salad

By Jordan Carrier


Depending on what time of day you’re reading this, it could be sunny, snowing, raining unicorn tears or hailing armed locusts, goodness knows I’m ready for anything by now. If somebody asks you what the weather is going to be, the only safe answer is “yes”. We in Metro Vancouver enjoy a Maritime Climate, but this year the designation should be changed to Salad.
And it’s in that spirit that I offer you a disparate, eclectic mix of stellar wines – a Wine Salad, if you will – to pair with this silly season. No real continuity ahead, we’re just gonna place the hamster ball on the map and see where that critter takes us. First up, New Zealand!
Felton Road. Central Otago, deep inland on the south end of the South Island, is simultaneously the hottest and coldest terroir in New Zealand, boasting extreme diurnal shifts of up to 15C. It’s dry and dramatic here, but the slopes of Bannockburn provide the ideal aspect for consistently ripening Pinot Noir, even in Tolkien-ish conditions, and that’s where we find Felton Road. Organic, biodynamically Demeter certified, eschewing filtration and fining and using only naturally occurring yeast, Felton Road doesn’t make wine so much as watch while it makes itself. What you taste is all Bannockburn: piercing red fruit over spices and silk. The single cru Cornish Point shows a trail mix of cranberries, grains and nutmeg, while the broader, village-level Bannockburn bottling is a tad darker, adding fat plums and licorice to the mix. They are both grand, rare wines of Gondor, and I grabbed all that I could (I think I took the only 5 6-packs of Cornish to enter the province – oops).
Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2015, 94 points Wine Spectator, 3 cases available, $67.99 +tax
Felton Road Cornish Point Pinot Noir 2015, 96 points Wine Spectator, 5 6-packs available, $94.99 +tax
Betz Family Winery “La Cote Rousse” Syrah 2014, Red Mountain AVA, Washington State. Not for the faint of heart, or the impatient. There are only 338 Masters of Wine in the world, and Bob Betz is one of them. His vineyard-focused approach to Washington viticulture led him to Red Mountain, where he still gets fruit from the fabled Ciel du Cheval and End of the Road vineyards and makes Syrah that rivals Hermitage for longevity (really). Classic Washingtonian white pepper over Mediterranean olives and dried fruits, before a tense, currently immovable frame. This is, it must be said, no BBQ wine - it needs a nap - but your future self will be proud of you for grabbing such a classic cellar-star before it got famous and cost a gajillion dollars. Stunning – I took everything in BC. 96 points Robert Parker, 8 6-packs available, $91.49 +tax

Tenuta di Trinoro “Le Cupole” Toscana IGT 2014, Tuscany. To call this beast a “Supertuscan” is both correct and missing the point. Le Cupole “supersedes” nothing, because nothing else is around there, this rustic estate in the Orcia Valley, where Tuscany meets Umbria and Lazio, was the domain of nothing but sheep for 100 years. Enter Andrea Franchetti, a former restauranteur with the air of a hipster who’s about to tell you why your favourite movie stinks and a massive American inheritance (his uncle was the artist Cy Twombley). Not sure why Andrea planted so much Cabernet Franc there, but I’m grateful that he did; the elevated limestone slopes contribute serious depth, and the strangely warm microclimate - provided by the shelter of an extinct volcano – allows for longer hang time and greater phenolic ripeness (the trees still have leaves in December despite the high elevation). Le Cupole is Cab-Franc dominant, with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon playing bass and drums. Big big red fruit and spice, with no funky Greek Salad, this bruiser was off market for 5 years, I’m so happy its back! #29 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2016, 93 points Wine Spectator, $60.99 +tax

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Get To Know... Valeria Tait

Photo Courtesy Bench 1775
Valeria Tait
Vintner, General Manager, Bench 1775 Winery
Oliver, BC
bench1775.com 

With a background in Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and a degree from UC Davis in Oenology and Viticulture it's of no surprise that Valeria Tait is a strong believer that good wine starts in the vineyard.

But farming is more than an applied science. One must combine facts, experience and feelings to get the most out of the land. A self-described romantic with a scientific education and many years working at successful wineries like Painted Rock and Poplar Grove has equipped Tait with the ideal skill-set to produce great wines, from the ground up. 

Get to know Valeria and get to know the wines of Bench 1775 a bit better...


Key wines to try:
Chill: 2012201320142015

Glow: 201320142015
Sauvignon Blanc: 201320142015

1. What do you enjoy most about making wine?
The variability that comes up every year because of climate differences and the effect that climate has on fruit expression.

2. What inspired you to become a winemaker? 
When I tasted a fine Alsace Riesling for the first time as a young drinker (of sweet German whites) and finding out the differences between those two wine styles is the fruit and the way the wine is made. Eye opener to say the least – more like an epiphany.

3. What causes you the most stress during harvest? 
The long exhaustive physical demands of harvest and trying to get everyone to treat the last bins of fruit as carefully as the first bins of fruit – and in a cold year, that the tannins will get physiologically ripe.

4. What is your favourite and/or least favourite wine cliché? 
Every cliché is my least favourite – in particular, when winemakers say the following: ‘ it’s about the terroir’ – of course it’s about terroir, there is nothing else. or ‘this wine is premium quality’ – most winemakers are putting their best efforts out there, let others decide what they think of the wine.

5. Away from the cellar and vineyard, what’s your greatest passion in life?
 
Life.

6. After a long day of work in the cellar, what do you turn to for refreshment? 
Not surprisingly … wine.

7. If you could take credit for one other BC wine on the market today, which would it be and why? 
Wow – that’s not a fair question because all efforts are team efforts unless you are making 1000 cases literally with no physical help.  I think it is fair to say that I have had a significant influence on Mission Hill, Painted Rock and Poplar Grove because of my approach that wine is made in the vineyard, meaning the fruit expression and ripeness in the vineyard drives the wine program.

8. Of the wines in your portfolio, do you have a favourite food pairing to go with one of the wines? 
Too many – it depends on the time of year and my mood. Right now Bench 1775 Glow Rose and salmon, Bench 1775 Cab Franc with roast pork …

9. What do you think will be the next big trend in BC wine over the next few years? 
The phenomenal growth in BC wine consumption and the dwindling supply of fruit.

10. Screwcap or cork? What’s your preference? 
Depends on the wine. Screwcap for wines that I want to retain brightness and balance (the more delicate reds) and cork for wines that will evolve as they age and they need air ingress. I am a romantic – so natural cork will always have a place in my heart. The romance of opening the bottle, the people and communities that are kept alive by purchasing cork, the traditions!

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2017 IconWines.ca

Featured Wines: Guado Al Tasso

If the wine showcased in this week's Featured Wines column tickle your fancy, you can order them directly from Jordan by email (JCarrier@everythingwine.ca) or find him in the Vintage Room of Everything Wine's Morgan Crossing location in South Surrey.



Guado Al Tasso

By Jordan Carrier


It’s important to remember how bizarre it was that Sassicaia actually worked. It was grown in Bolgheri, a Tuscan backwater that was, in the 1970s, known only for cheap Rose wines that Italians used primarily for tolerating their extended families at picnics. It was built with alien French grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, both of which were well suited to the terroir but highly controversial in such a traditionalist viticultural region. Most offensively to the skeptical rural Tuscans, Sassicaia sold for a premium price, higher than many of the most revered Chianti Classicos, a move that seemed arrogant in a society where you were supposed to know your place. When the wine first came to market, it was largely laughed at.
Well, nothing eases skepticism like success, and after Sassicaia claimed first place in the 1978 Decanter magazine (in a blind tasting of Bordeaux, no less) the gold rush began. Traditional Tuscan houses – many of whom had mocked Sassicaia at first – poured in to Bolgheri to buy up vineyards and make Cabernet. Well, all except for one.
The Antinori family, one of Chianti’s oldest houses, already owned vineyards in Bolgheri. The elderly Nicolo Antinori held a large chunk of land (where he, naturally, made cheap Rose) close to Sassicaia, which he split between his two sons. Black sheep Lodovico Antinori, persuaded to return home from his worldwide surfing sabbatical by this bequest, turned his chunk into Ornellaia, while older brother Piero Antinori, the family’s chief winemaker who had enjoyed his own recent success with Tignanello, created – you guessed it - Guado Al Tasso.
Guado has been one of my favourites since I started doing this. It drinks at or above the level of Sassicaia and Ornellaia (indeed it’s often rated higher than those wines) but sells for half of those prices. Classic Cab notes of cassis with Tuscan herbs build towards a ripe, robust frame (think 2009 Left Bank) with depth, pent up energy, and a killer grip at the end. At November’s Antinori tasting, this 2013 Guado was the clear favourite, besting the famous 2013 Tignanello* and even the flagship 2011 Solaia. I know many of you were waiting for it to arrive, I’m sorry it took so long!
Antinori Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Bolgheri Superiore 2013. 97 points James Suckling, 96 points Robert Parker, 12 wooden 6-packs available, $95.99 +tax
55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, with a 100% chance of awesomeness.
*Tantrums work, FYI. I screamed like a toddler when I sold out of Tignanello 2013 and the agent gave me some more cases. If I initially had to tell you no (and sorry again for that), or if you tried it already and simply must have more, I can do that now.

Happy drinking!