Random update of wine from around the world, including 2 of the best Chardonnays you will EVER find….

First, for those of you who missed my announcement last night, I’ve started a wine-centric YouTube channel! The first video is up now, and I will be adding more content on a regular basis. Hopefully, every week. Please check it out and subscribe so you don’t miss any videos!

Confessions Of A Huge Wine-r, Volume 1

Tons of reviews for you today, we’ll start with a bunch of stuff from BC:

And a little trip to Italy for this amazing Super Tuscan!

Here are a couple Pinot Noirs from California. The Phelps I had previously tasted (December 2019) and gave it 91 points at that time. Amazing how much it improved in 8 or so months!

And, to finish up, the two Chardonnays I mentioned up front. Just incredible fruit on both of them!

Very much looking forward to trying another bottle of this, and seeing if this becomes the first table wine to get my elusive 100-point score! It’s definitely possible.

That’s it for today! Coming up, tons more wine to review, including several more spectacular Chardonnays. Stay tuned!

Okanagan Trip report finally wraps up at the new home of some of the goodies from the Hatch…@BlackSwiftWine!

As we approach this gorgeous new winery, my wife says “wow, not bad for a bunch of assholes!”.

So, so true.

Now, before you think that’s an insult, it’s not. If you’ve never been to The Hatch, you have probably not experienced a winery so fun, so irreverent, so….”assholeish”. And I mean that in the best way possible.

As I am sure many of you know, The Hatch has ‘broken up’ into three separate (but still related entities). The Hatch that you know and love still exists in the same locale. Crown + Thieves is expected to open sometime late this fall, and today’s report features the new venture known as Black Swift Vineyards. And it’s quite something.

The view as we approached the winery.
The wife, the dog, and the view from our table.

I sarcastically complained about the view being TOO good, and our lovely host, Grayson, said “no problem, we’ll make sure we get a Wal-Mart put up there to block it for ya”.

Like I said….what an asshole 🙂

The only labels that they took from the Hatch are Black Swift Vineyards (obviously) and the Screaming Frenzy line. I’m oversimplifying it, but let’s say the BSV are the big, serious wines, and the Frenzy stuff is a bit simpler, a little more whimsy and perhaps more approachable in their youth.

When Crown + Thieves opens, they will be selling (I believe) only the Crown + Thieves line, leaving The Hatch with their house wines (Ross O, B Yanco), the Gobsmacked line, and the other miscellaneous stuff like Hatchfinity, Hatchchild, etc etc. Their just-announced wine club has 6 or 7 options….you can get wine from one of the wineries, or all of them. I haven’t done a deep-dive into it yet, as most of the options don’t begin until 2021, but it seems like you should be able to ensure you get exactly what you want.

Lots to talk about, so let’s get to the wine!

And one bonus review, something we had tasted previously but I had never posted:

So that’s finally the last report from our summer trip to the Okanagan. Next up, a ton of stuff we have been enjoying since then, AND, I still have an exciting announcement that I have been working on and am hoping to get posted this weekend, or middle of next week. Stay tuned!

A birthday party during a Pandemic; oh how things have changed.

Well, we tried to prove it was possible to throw a fun, SAFE, party in a pandemic. I guess it depends on your definition of “party”. Our patio isn’t that big, so we limited the attendees to five people, the largest number we can possible seat out there and keep up social distancing guidelines. It worked, for the most part, everyone was comfortable and most importantly, safe.

And we know everyone was safe because this party was a month ago and nobody got sick 🙂

Our dear friend was entering her late 40’s, so we decided to treat her to some great wine and hopefully decent food. Let’s check and see how it went.

Amuse Bouche

Parmesan & Chilliwack Corn Lollipops

These were tasty, if unspectacular. The presentation was pretty cool, a bunch of melted cheese and corn stuck to a pretzel stick. We paired this with our all-time-favorite rosé, which I reviewed at the Vancouver International Wine Festival earlier this year.

Appetizer

Handmade Agnolotti w/Peas & Pancetta

This is a Thomas Keller recipe, and it’s just brilliant. This was my first attempt at a filled pasta and although they didn’t look all that pretty, they tasted superb. We paired this one with a nicely aged Barolo from an excellent year.

Seconds

Wild Mushroom Risotto

and

Baked Brie w/Blackberry Compote and Spiced Nuts

We didn’t serve those two dishes together, but we did pair them with two wines which made it through both courses.

For a brief interlude before we got to the main course, we served this wine which was used in the sauce for the steak. All the guests agreed it really punches above it’s class.

Main Course

Filet Mignon with Cab/Mushroom Sauce, Puréed Potatoes, Glazed Carrots

Paired with two excellent reds, this dish was the star of the show, as it should be.

Dessert

Black Forest Cake

This one was a request from the birthday girl, it’s her favorite cake. Probably my LEAST favorite but I guess I’ll make up for that when it’s time for MY birthday 🙂

All in all, a wonderful night of great company, food, and wine. Looking forward to the next time we can hold a bigger gathering and invite everyone we’d like to invite!

Up next: I still have to finish off the Okanagan report with my report on Black Swift, plus I have a ton of random stuff to review, AND………

….the reason the blog hasn’t been updated as much as I would like is that I am working on something special that I am very excited about. Still have a few steps to go to get it all set up where I would like it, but I am hoping to have at least the first part put together by this weekend. Stay tuned!

BC Rosé all day! All year! Part 3, the final installment….

Pretty sure I have now tasted all the BC Rosé that I am going to taste this year, so here are the last few that I have not yet posted. This posting features the one I was most disappointed with, as well as my favorite BC Rosé of the year.

Let’s start with a few others.

Now, to the one that was a big disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still perfectly quaffable…. but it came with such anticipation. This winery has been making great rosé from Pinot Noir for 3 or 4 years. I knew that their new winemaker had made a change, and switched it to a more Provence-style rosé made from Rhône varietals, and I was excited to try it, because I love that style of rosé, and this winemaker knows his stuff. This is from Ross Wise MW, one of only 7 Masters of Wine in Canada. Hopefully it all comes together next year.

Last, and certainly not least, the best rosé in BC this year, IMO:

That’s it for now! Next up, still have a lot of random stuff to report on, plus a great birthday dinner we hosted, and the last entry of the Okanagan trip at brand new Black Swift Vineyards!

Okanagan wine trip continues @tantaluswine!

Up and at ’em for an early morning appointment at Tantalus! We have been here several times, and we usually find ourselves thinking the same things: Good Riesling, VERY good Old Vines Riesling, OK Chardonnay, good Pinot Noir, and PERFECT (or close) Icewines. Let’s see if this visit would bring the same conclusions.

First up, the worst news possible….for now, at least, they have discontinued making Icewine. Devastating news. Of all the wines I have ever reviewed for this blog, only two have ever received a perfect 100-point score, and their 2015 Riesling Icewine was one such wine.

Let’s see how the new stuff stacks up!

So, a bit of a flip this time; we thought this was their best Chardonnay ever, and the Pinot Noir didn’t measure up to past vintages. The Rieslings held up as expected. Make no mistake, this is a house of Riesling and nothing is ever likely to change that.

SAFETY SCORE: 8.5

You have to go into the winery to check in, and then to buy your wine at the end. The tasting area is outside and is social distanced. At the time we visited, they were also taking walk-ins, and some of the tastings were set up inside. Shortly after our visit, I read on Instagram that they were discontinuing walk-ins.

Up next: The Okanagan Trip wraps up with one epic tasting at the New House the Hatch Built (TM), Black Swift Vineyards!

I also have tons of random stuff to report on….also, will finally delivery the long-awaited third (and final) installment of my 2019 BC Rosé report…..and also, we had a small gathering here last weekend to celebrate our friend’s birthday, and some pretty awesome wine was consumed. Stay tuned!

Okanagan trip gets taken up a notch or three, our first visit to Martin’s Lane!

The newest jewel in the Von Mandl crown is quite something to see. The construction of the winery is finished, but there is so much construction still going on around it that it’s difficult to believe it when you see it for yourself. We have trouble finding the front entrance in fact, and are relieved to see our guide come outside and flag us down so we can start our tour and tasting!

And, what a guide we have…..the winemaker himself, Shane Munn, is taking us on a little tour of the winery. We actually have TWO HOURS booked for this experience and are very much looking forward to it.

Shane takes us on a thorough tour of the winery, the sorting areas, production facility…it’s really quite spectacular. They have clearly spared no expense, and it shows in the quality of the wine.

Along the way, Shane presents us with a little “welcome wine”. Lots of wineries do this, but it’s not usually THIS good.

After the tour, we head inside where we are pleased to find a selection of their wines, ready for us to taste. As with their Von Mandl-partner, winery Checkmate, they focus on just two varietals. Whereas Checkmate does just Merlot and Chardonnay, Martin’s Lane produces just Riesling and Pinot Noir.

During the tour I had asked Shane if he ever planned to do an ice wine. Well, they had already done one, and he was happy to let us taste that as well. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know how I feel about ice wine, and this one is right up there with the best ever.

What a fantastic experience, and Shane was a terrific guide through our tour and tasting. We look forward to our next visit.

SAFETY SCORE: 9

About half of the tour was outside, the rest of the tour and the tasting were inside, but there were literally just the three of us in the building, we didn’t come across another soul. Shane was seated across the huge table during the tasting, nothing to be concerned about there in terms of ‘social distancing’.

Up next: That’s it for the wine this day. We had a wonderful dinner at Home Block at CedarCreek after the Martin’s Lane tasting (right next door) and then headed back to our room to relax and rest up for the next day of tastings, beginning at Tantalus!

Okanagan trip continues just up the hillside…..@hillsidewines!

It has been 3-4 years since we’ve been here, and we are excited to be visiting again. Not that we didn’t enjoy our last visit, it was…..fine. We enjoyed a couple of the wines (IIRC, the Rosé and Cabernet Franc), the rest were OK, and the service and atmosphere was perfectly pleasant. What it lacked, I guess, was “IT”. Whatever that is, there was nothing that excited us enough to get us to rush back.

So what changed? Well, from all accounts, the wine has improved. That’s a pretty important point. Also, we get to see our good friend Shelann, who is taking us through our tasting today.

We have known Shelann for many years, she was the Wine Club concierge at Tinhorn Creek for years, and she always took fantastic care of us when we visited there. She moved to Hillside a couple of years ago and has been trying to get us up there ever since. We finally made it!

We are greeted with a huge sign saying “welcome Dean and Tracey!” and our table is set up and ready to go outside. Shelann knows that even though we are friends, I am going to be brutally honest when reviewing the wines….which really makes me hope that they are good! Let’s find out!

Lovely! No doubt the wine has improved since our last visit and we enjoyed just about everything. We’ll give that Gamay another try on our next visit and see if it was just a vintage problem.

SAFETY SCORE: 10

We were outdoors 100% of the time, nobody near us. Shelann was masked until we told her that she could take it off, as we weren’t afraid of picking a virus up from her as she was 10 feet away at all times and we were outside.

Next up: This is all we had time for in Naramata this trip, and we are off to check into our hotel and then have what we expect to be a very special evening. First up, a tour and tasting at Martin’s Lane!

Okanagan wine trip report continues, as we move towards Kelowna, a stop in Naramata at Little Engine!

After checking out of our suite, we are on our way up to Naramata for the first half of the day, before heading to our hotel in West Kelowna to finish up our trip. First up, an 11 AM bell call at Little Engine!

We have been here several times and their wine is always of outstanding quality. Generally, they have three tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum. There are some other wines that don’t necessarily fit directly into any of those categories as well.

Another winery with a beautiful view, but what are those dark things in the sky? CLOUDS?! Disapproved.

It sprinkles a tiny bit of rain on us, and we aren’t covered on these seats so eventually we move a few feet to a covered area and a huge table.

Terrific wine across the board, as usual. Just imagine how amazing the Platinum level wines are!

Safety score: 10

100% outside, no other guests anywhere near us, no unmasked staff members getting too close. Can’t ask for much more.

Next up: We visit an old friend at Hillside! Stay tuned!

The dark side of BC wine. When plagiarism sullies a new brand.

Small2015Merlot1

Painted Rock’s branding. The logo is understated, elegant, and sophisticated. I like it quite a bit. But even if it doesn’t “wow” you, I bet you would recognize it.

And along comes a new winery…..with a seemingly unlimited budget for building a spectacular, state-of-the-art new facility in Oliver. Years in the planning and building.

And, instead of finding their own branding, they use the same California-based design company. This design company makes this new company sign a waiver stating that if Painted Rock sues them, the design company is held harmless. This is the new winery’s logo and bottle (name of winery blacked out).

images

images0

This new company knows, probably, that lawsuits are expensive, and they also probably have enough money backing them to drag it out in court for many years, making it even more costly for Painted Rock to protect their brand.

Just to be clear, nobody at Painted Rock asked me to make this post.

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. But as long as they use this as their branding, I will not be visiting this winery, will not be reviewing their wines. They are dead to me.

This is appalling.

 

Next up: Back to the Okanagan trip report, as we start our next day at Little Engine!

Day 3 of the Okanagan wine trip wraps up at one of the great wineries in the Okanagan, with one of the best views of the Okanagan, @PaintedRockWine .

Another winery where we had already pre-paid for our experience. As club members, our tasting was complimentary, but we pre-ordered sandwiches and charcuterie for lunch, to enjoy in their beautiful grounds. I’m not sure who enjoyed their time on the grounds more…..us, or the dog. She just loves to accompany us anywhere, and we were successful at ensuring that all the wineries we were visiting today were dog friendly.

2019-03-14 12.36.28
Zoey, AKA “Zo-Zo”, “Dog”, or “Pork Chop”. She spends a tremendous amount of time laying like this. I don’t know how that can be comfortable.

An “all-red” tasting today. Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Painted Rock 2015 MerlotPainted Rock 2016 MerlotPainted Rock 2016 Syrah

Painted Rock 2017 SyrahPainted Rock 2016 Red Icon

61654286190__1FD54685-1E96-4773-AF32-C6A450521E8A 2
The author’s lovely wife, charcuterie, a bottle of their Rosé, and a not-too-shabby view.

Oh, and not related to this trip, consider it a bonus review of a wine we enjoyed back home recently:

Painted Rock 2015 Malbec

The sandwiches were fantastic, the charcuterie was fantastic (half of which went back to the resort with us to enjoy later this evening), the wine was fantastic, the service was fantastic. This was a wonderful day, and it’s tough to imagine finishing our wine tasting anywhere better than this, enjoying a lovely picnic lunch with my incredible wife, accompanied by our crazy dog, overlooking the vineyards and lake. Even in horrific 2020, it’s nice to be able to exhale and just enjoy the great things in life once in a while.

SAFETY SCORE: 10

Although the tasting portion of the day took place inside, the staff members are behind plexiglass. If you’ve ever been to this winery, you know that even inside feels like outside, thanks to the huge glass door that opens, leading you to feel like you are out amongst the vines, even from the tasting room.

Next up: As we transition from Osoyoos to Kelowna, we start tomorrow morning in Naramata, with a tasting at another winery that always delivers, Little Engine!