Sunday, July 7, 2019

Summer Sippers 2019

Summer is here! Celebrate the long days and short nights. Bask in the sun and in good conversation. Relax and enjoy a nice glass of wine. Winter was tough, Spring lingered... you deserve a sip of Summer. Here are our selections to make the most of your favourite Summer locals:

On the Patio
If you're in need of some patio time and want to spend it enjoying a nice glass of wine then this is the section for you. Chances are, even if your patio (or deck) isn't drenched in sunlight you may still want a wine that makes you feel as though it is. Here are some refreshing patio sippers for summer:

Stag's Hollow Winery 2017 Tragically Vidal - $17
An off-dry, delicate, delight of a Summer Sipper, Stag's Hollow's Tragically Vidal is as playful and joyous as its colourful label suggests. Look for subtle, aromatic notes of blossoms and pitted fruits; nectarines, peaches and apricots supported by a touch of herbs and some light citrus notes.

Quails' Gate Estate Winery 2018 Chasselas Pinot Blanc Pinot Gris - $18
Clean, crisp and so refreshing, this blend of 60% Chasselas, 20% Pinot Blanc, and 20% Pinot Gris makes an excellent pairing for your next sun-drenched patio visit thanks to its cheerful, citrus and Asian pear scented nose and its mouth-watering, textured and lightly-spiced, stone fruit flavoured palate.

Monte Creek Ranch 2018 Riesling - $19
A white gold coloured Riesling bursting with intense citrus and green apple flavours and acidity whilst off-dry levels of residual sugar (8.9 g/l) mount an counter offensive to bring balance to The Force, though, somewhat failing short... this is not a Riesling for the faint of heart. It's an adventure, one best attempted on a hot Summer's day.

Winemaker's Cut 2018 Rosé - $22
An elegant rosé, in every way; colour (pale watermelon), bouquet (subtle strawberry shortcake) and mouthfeel (layers of strawberry and fresh peach acidity). Finish is balanced, though, a tad short with just a flash of citrus peel and spice lingering. 

At the Cabin/Cottage
Enjoying a bottle of wine at your own cabin/cottage or as a guest may include the following: sharing with people you don't know, sipping in darkness, fighting-off mosquitoes or sitting close to the fire for warmth. For this sort of situation you may want a rustic wine or something that evolves in the glass - as you may not have easy access to a refill. We suggest the following:

Stag's Hollow Winery 2018 Albariño - $20
Opens with an exotic nose of papaya, candied peach, kiwi, melon andcitrus aromas followed by a textural palate with a juicy, melon fruit-driven entry and a mineral-kissed, mouth-watering, crisp finish. Coming into its own with maturing vines and a maturing fermentation/elevage program in the winery. Can stand alone, enhance your favourute salty snacks or pair harmoniously with any white fish recipe.

Mascota Vineyards 2015 Unanime - $28
A hedonistic blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Malbec and 15% Cabernet Franc, the Unanime shows lively, dark and red fruit aromas on the fruit-forward, expressive nose with notes of vanilla, sweet incense smoke and herbs in the background. 

Quails' Gate Estate Winery 2017 Pinot Noir - $30
A well-balanced Pinot Noir with classic BC-Pinot characters of equal parts; brambly berries, savoury cedar and dried herbs. Smooth on the pretty nose and the fine-tannin, wild berry acid palate. 

SpearHead Winery 2017 Pinot Noir Cuvée - $38
This Cuvée bottling represents the winery's best barrels of its many Dijon clones blended with an eye on elegance and depth. Opening with a youthful, layered nose of creamy raspberry, forest floor, huckleberry and sweet, smoky, BBQ Salmon crackling aromas. A full, yet, lively, dry palate follows with a similar mix of sweet and savoury flavours; dark cherry, cocoa, light smoke, vanilla and a touch of spicy oak and amaretto liqueur on the long finish. 

At a BBQ
BBQ wines are a capricious bunch. They must be robust to pair with the burnt piece of chicken your uncle John cooks up and be flexible to match with the mystery sausage of unknown origin on the grill. Big, bold, yet, approachable reds are your best bet. Here are a few to choose from:

Doña Paula 2016 Estate Malbec - $18
A typical, fruity/juicy/fresh Malbec from the Valle De Uco in the Mendoza, but happily, with some smokey goodness on appealing, blackberry and violet infused nose and with beautifully integrated spice on the lively, black fruit dominant palate. A drink now Malbec, lacking the tannin structure for a long life, but a well balanced, food-friendly wine that would pair nicely with spicy, grilled meats.
Full Review

Rust Wine Co. 2018 Gamay - $23
A beautifully balanced Gamay with both playful andsubstantive characters; candied fruits, tangy citrus peel, smoky violets, velvety red fruit, caramelized onions, Christmas cake spices, mild licorice and plenty of body and texture. Should make an excellent companion to Summer social fare, especially sweet'n'smoky ribs or BBQ chicken.
Full Review

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2016 Merlot - $24
A solid Merlot for all occasions with a pleasing, fruit-forward leaning balance of ripe, dark berry, dark cherry, tobacco, Nutella and sweet oak and spice characters. Dry, full bodied and lively with light, fine tannins and the perception of sweetness thanks to the prominent berry and cherry flavours. Ready to go now with your favourite BBQ dishes.
Full Review

Fairview Cellars 2016 Mad Cap Red - $28-30
Fairview's Madcap Red is a blend of (roughly) 50% Merlot and (mostly) equal parts Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from contracted vineyards in the Southern Okanagan Valley. Though an early drinking wine with approachable tannins, this blend will hold and evolve in your cellar, should you choose  to put one or two away.
Full Review

Kaiken 2015 Ultra Malbec - $30-32
A dense and dark Malbec, very 'broody' on both the licorice'n'cassis scented nose and the ultra-concentrated palate where flavours of black plums, blackberries, wild herbs and plenty of spice are supported nicely by dusty, fine tannins and wild-berry acidity.
Full Review

Friday, June 14, 2019

Featured Wines: Deckbusters

If the wine 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 newest location River District in South Vancouver (8570 River District Crossing).


As the mercury edges upwards our meals edge outwards, and before we know it we’re cooking and eating everything out on the deck. Dude, it’s crazy out there. Never mind the squeals of the kids from adjacent yards or the yips of jealous dogs, the average patio is a chowder of sniffs and smells. Lawn cuttings, sunscreen, chlorine from the pool, even your own BBQ is smoking more than a stop/slow-sign holder on a roadwork site.

You need great wines to go with dinner, but subtly nuanced study pieces need not apply. Only bold, intensely focused red wines can cut through the nose-quiche of scents on your deck, and it just so happens that I have a few in mind...

Scala Dei Cartoixa 2015, Priorat, Spain
The Baseball Bat from Priorat. The Burning Flame from Eastern Spain. The Blast-a-Zone-a near Barcelona. No matter what it rhymes with, Priorat is HUGE, and this deck-capsizing blend of Garnacha, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon grown on stark sunburnt slopes is no exception. Named after and grown next to the Escaladei monastery from the 12th century (Escaladei = Ladder To God), this juice from the historic Cartoixa vineyard is dark as night but tastes like evening sun. Violets and licorice precede the fruitsplosion of dark berries and plums, a buttery, lush mouthfeel and a long spicy finish that qualifies as an aftershock. Enough concentration to cellar this for a decade, but we won’t. 97 points Decanter, 3 6-packs available, $59.99 +tax

Zuccardi Concreto Malbec 2017, Uco Valley, Argentina
Jumping in with both feet to the growing Mendoza movement of capturing high-altitude Malbec with the lens of Italy rather than California, the Zuccardi family aims for elegance (and nails it - see the points) with Concreto, using whole-cluster fermentation and concrete aging (hence the name). Stony red fruits are the star of this electric race car, with dried herbs and flowers underwriting the track, and blackberries and cassis waiting at the finish line. Zippier than most zippers. We may have found the Song of the Summer. 96 points James Suckling, 94 points Robert Parker, #10, Wine Enthusiast Top 100 of 2018, 6 6-packs available, $46.98 +tax

Orofino Petit Verdot 2014, Similkameen Valley, B.C
Previously mentioned on these pages, but I sold out and now I got more so this is a victory lap of sorts. I am soooo not supposed to have this, seeing as the Weber family only makes 3 barrels, but I got the new guy when I called in and he didn’t know I couldn’t have it so I took everything they had. Simply one of my very favourite BC reds, a beast of a wine with just enough fruit-weight to match the leathery tannins, with blackberry, tar and lavender surrounding the mouth of the cave. A true statement of how Similkameen stands apart from Okanagan, and totally worth that new guy getting fired. 3 cases available, $45.98 +tax

Shaw + Smith Shiraz 2015, Adelaide Hills, Australia
Cousins Martin Shaw and (Master of Wine) Michael Hill Smith specialize in two things: making exquisite wines from cool(ish) Australian climes, and using the initials M.S.. This Shiraz from the high(ish)-altitude Balhannah vineyard in Adelaide Hills shows their grasp of balance perfectly, the invariably intense fruit concentration is commensurate to the elegant acid that defines the finish. Drinking Shaw + Smith is having one’s cake whilst eating it: you get to enjoy the generous blast radius of a fruit bomb without experiencing the impulse to spread it on toast. Blackberries and cherries with mint and rocks, freaking delicious. 97 points James Haliday, 96 points James Suckling, 3 6-packs available, $56.98 +tax

Until next time, Happy Drinking!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Featured Wines: Portugal - Off The Grid

If the wine 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 newest location River District in South Vancouver (8570 River District Crossing).

Portugal - Off The Grid

Calling certain Portuguese wines “off the grid” can be superfluous, as even the well-known wines from that country aren’t “on” the grid of many wine drinkers to begin with. You don’t walk into Debra’s Fruit Hat Emporium and say “gimme the weirdest one, I don’t do mainstream”, the esoterica are pretty much assumed.

The Portuguese don’t help matters with their fluid moon-man nomenclature, though, do they? Our first wine is from an area that half the wine maps call Borba and the other half call Borda, and knowing the Portuguese language is probably pronounced Gerald or something. As I've said before, Portuguese is like Spanish with an extra helping of Sinutab.

All ribbing aside, these wines should be on your grid. Portugal and Spain represent the very best Old World value by leaps and bounds, the Portuguese icons at the top of the pyramid are sold for the same prices as mid-level French and Italian wines. The bottles I bring you today are modern, beautifully structured wines with unique profiles and great longevity, they can stand alongside top Bordeaux and Tuscany in quality and stature without ever employing the language of low expectations, like “rustic” (Rustic in Furniture-Speak: quaint and charming. Rustic in Wine-Speak: smells like horse). Let me guide you through the place-names to show you some absolutely stunning juice, beginning with a region just north of the Algarve:

Don’t call them California. Even though the rolling hills look like it, even though the wines boast the fruit-roof-over-a-log-cabin brawn of Napa, don’t say California in front of them but it’s perfectly normal to think it. Traditionally one of the regions that we get corks from, the viticulture here dates back to Roman times but Alentejo, like many other Portuguese regions, stayed unseen in the shadow of Port wines until Portugal joined the EU and investment rolled in. Tempranillo’s alter-ego Aragonez is planted here but the stage truly belongs to Alicante Bouschet, the thick, fat French-born grape whose claim to fame – besides awesomeness – is that its flesh and juice are as deeply red as the skins (most red grapes – almost all of them - bleed clear). Red wines from this hot place are big and bold and unafraid of fruit or wood, drawing unavoidable comparisons to the top wines from the Golden State – albeit at a fraction of the price.

Herdade das Servas 2013 Reserva - Estremos, Borba/Borda/Gerald, Alentejo
Get this wine on your radar now, or everybody else is going to have a better summer than you. The Serrano Mira family has farmed in Estremos for 350 years, and brothers Carlos and Luis founded Servas in 1998 with an eye towards pairing the traditional grapes of Alentejo with more international varieties like Cab, like this Reserva that reaches the depths and structure of wines 3 times its cost. Alicante Bouschet with Cabernet Sauvignon, hit with French and American oak and drinking like Napa by way of Jumilla. Spicy blackberries tossed with cocoa and crème de cassis hit all the pleasure centers with a huge body and a brilliantly modern afterburn. We’re going to pour it this Saturday at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room if I have any left. Not submitted to any reviewers (that speak English, anyway). 8 wooden 3-packs available, $66.98 +tax

Heredade do Mouchao 2013 “Mouchao” - Casa Branca - Alentejo
One of Portugal’s most famous non-Port wineries (and one of the buzziest booths at this weekend’s Top Drop Vancouver for sure), Mouchao was turning heads well before anyone could find Alentejo on a map. Originally a cork farm started in the early 1800s by a Port importer named Thomas Reynolds, Mouchao has seen its output change from cork to olives to sheep to wine, all amidst political turmoil and violent revolution, but it’s still owned and run by the Reynolds family. The flagship wine Mouchao is an ode to traditional Alentejo winemaking, blending in local grape Trincadeira with the dominant Alicante Bouschet, and fermented in open-top granite tanks (called Lagares) before aging 3 years in used tonneaux. A long decant is necessary to wake the bear, but it’s one spicy bear when it’s awake, and this bear likes chocolate, berries and beef bouillon a lot more than other bears. Mouchao is the Beaucastel of Alentejo, if you will: the traditional benchmark against which other wineries measure themselves. 96 points Wine Enthusiast, 95 points Decanter, 94 points Robert Parker, 3 6-packs available, $83.98 +tax

Sitting off the Atlantic coast about halfway between Lisbon and Opporto in a warm Maritime climate, Bairrada’s unique contribution to the world of wine is the thick-skinned, late-ripening Baga, the red grape that answers the question: What If Nebbiolo Carried A Gun? Baga was long the sneaky little secret of Port producers, who added the illegal grape to Port blends to boost structure and longevity; the grape fraud became so commonplace that the 18th century Portuguese government ordered all of Bairrada’s vines ripped up to protect Port’s reputation in the all-important British market. Today, Baga makes amazing tannic, tight and statuesque wines that only start singing after a decade plus of cellaring, and hey, whaddya know:

Luis Pato 2000 Quinto do Moinho - Beiras
Like Angelo Gaja in Barbaresco, Luis Pato eschews the qualitatively restrictive regs of Bairrada and files his wines under the more general Beiras regional appellation. Where many Bairrada producers soften their wines by adding Merlot, Mr. Pato – the scion of a 4-centuries old wine family – goes full commando with 100% Baga but then does us the favour of putting it down for a 19-year nap. This 2000 Quinto do Moinho has taken on the orange tinges of an aged Barolo but reminds me mostly of a 20-year-old Saint-Estephe from Bordeaux: there never was much fruit to lose, and Nirvana is reached when the structure calms down enough to find balance with the body. The herbaceous nose – again after a long decant – is teeming with roses, tobacco, dried plum and burnt orange. Gorgeous stuff, you can judge for yourself when we pour it this Saturday at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room. Not submitted for reviews (another thing that cranky Mr. Pato despises), 2 6-packs available, $72.98 +tax

Until next time, Happy Drinking!