Not a fan of “cheap and cheerful”? Well, check out my new series, “Extravagant and Excellent!”

Yesterday, I posted Episode 1 of “Extravagant and Excellent”, a companion series to my “Cheap and Cheerful” series. If you missed it, you can check it out here.

The rules of this new series are simple: The wines must be at least $50CAD BEFORE taxes. Many of the wines I feature in this series will be quite a bit more than that, for sure, but that’s the baseline.

Here are the full reviews of the three wines I featured in the video:

Three excellent wines. Are they worth the money? I’d say “yes”, but of course that’s a decision you have to make for yourselves. You can probably get comparable Chardonnay that compares to the Hobbs wherever you live for the same money or thereabouts. The other two would be trickier to find, I suspect.

Current vintages of the Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte sell for $225 in BC Liquor Stores, so I feel like I got a steal with that one at only $80USD!! That same vintage is still available on wine.com, and it’s now priced at $94.99. Still a bargain, probably. Consider the prices for the latest couple of vintages.

Check out the scores on the 2018, which is currently on sale for $130USD:

And how’s this for a bargain?? You can pre-order the 2019, with almost identical scores, for under $100!! You have to buy in groups of 3, though.

Those scores aren’t good enough for you?? Well, check out the 2020’s scores. This one is already sold out apparently, at $150USD.

Suddenly the price tag of $225CAD at BC Liquor Stores doesn’t seem quite so exorbitant!

As a little bonus, here are reviews of a couple other well-aged bottles we opened recently:

This one in particular was a nice treat. We sampled the 2011 at the big party we went to a couple of weeks ago and it was in full decline, but this one was much better. It’s a perfect example of what a huge difference there can be vintage over vintage!

That’s it for today! Please don’t forget to subscribe to this blog and the YouTube channel if you haven’t already so you never miss an entry!

Up next: Still a lot of good stuff to catch up on, and we are getting very close to the first installment of my annual “BC Rosé” entry, as more and more 2021 rosés start to hit the shelves. Stay tuned!

Oh what a night! A wine event for the ages!

I feel like it’s going to take me a little bit of time to recover from this one. Last night, my wife and I were fortunate enough to be invited to a wine event with some old friends and some new friends. Every person (or couple) brought a bottle, some brought two, and we got to taste some pretty spectacular wine. One of the guests has quite a collection, and he treated us with an ’82 Bordeaux and ’05 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. You know it’s going to be a great night even if those are the only two bottles you are getting to sample (spoiler: there was LOTS more!!).

Let’s get to it! I’ll try to get them in the order that we tasted them, but I suspect I might screw that up a bit. We’ll see.

Obviously some of these wines were purchased a long time ago, some of them were bought at auction, so I won’t attempt to include the prices for all of them.

Next up was the wine we brought. My wife was wandering through the duty-free store at the airport in Calgary on a business trip (remember business trips????) and spotted this, and she couldn’t resist picking it up. I am not 100% on the price, but I think it’s pretty close. It’s 92% Carmenere, 8% Petit Verdot.

This is where my memory gets hazy on the exact order of the wines, I am pretty sure we went back to France for the next two:

Next up, an old classic which is probably slightly past it’s peak. We’ve been drinking this so long that I had first reviewed it at a huge birthday event I hosted way back in 2015. You can check out that review here, if you like. At the time I said it needed more time to come together and that was probably true, but in the last 7 years it has hit it’s peak and begun that slow, inevitable slide down.

Next up, we had the opportunity to taste the same wine, EIGHT vintages apart! What a difference!

And to finish it off….when you think of Australia, you probably don’t think of Pinot Noir (I know I don’t), but if they are as good as this one, that will change!

So, there you have it, quite an impressive night of wine. A great time was had by all; so much so, that I suspect this isn’t the last time this group of new and old friends gets together for something like this!

Sincerest thanks go out to the host and hostess who put on a fabulous event. We were so honored to be included.

That’s it for today! Next up: Reviews of some other really good stuff we’ve been drinking recently, and it’s almost time for the BC rosès to come pouring (no pun intended) in. Stay tuned!

Details from my last vlog (how long does wine last after it’s opened, anyway??), and lots of other reviews!

Earlier this week, I posted a new vlog in which I tasted a Chilean Cabernet Franc that I had opened a couple days previously. You can see that video here.

In a nutshell, I was testing out the theory that some wine can actually improve with days of being opened. This particular bottle went through the following:

Day 1: Aeration and decanting for about one hour

Tasting result: Incredibly acidic, to the point of it being undrinkable

Day 1: Four more hours of decanting

Tasting results: Better, with intense notes of fresh basil on the nose and the palate. Drinkable, but not that enjoyable. If I was scoring the wine at this point, it would have been in the 85/86 range.

At the end of the evening, it was left in the decanter, and then put back into the bottle in the morning, then stored in the fridge.

Day 2: ?????

Here’s the rub, because we were out most of the day, we didn’t have any wine, so this bottle didn’t get tasted on day 2. This might have been the sweet spot? Who knows?

Day 3: Well, you can see my reaction to the wine on day 3 in the video.

So, of course, this is just ONE bottle, and as we all know, every single bottle of wine is different. I am sure there are bottles out there who would have been totally different under the same circumstances, but I thought it was interesting to test it out and see how it worked out.

So, up next, a bunch of stuff we’ve been tasting recently! Let’s start off in BC.

Now, to the rest of the wine world!

That’s it for today! Up next: Still lots of exciting bottles to report on, and we shouldn’t be too far from the first installment of my annual “Rosé report”, as the 2021 rosés are starting to roll in. Stay tuned!!

Reviews of the wine from my recent video, plus a few others including some already vying to be on the “Best of 2022” list!

I recently posted Episode four in my “Cheap and Cheerful” series (check it out here if you missed it), and here are the full reviews of the wine in that video. All drinkable, and two of them really stand out as good value!

Now, on to some other random stuff we’ve been drinking, including a couple real beauties that are already lining up to be on this year’s “Best of 2022” list! I actually hope they don’t make it, because if I have 10 wines better than these this year, it will have been an excellent year in wine!

Let’s start out with a really nice value wine from Bordeaux (not a sentence I type a lot!!)

That’s it for today! Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog if you have not already, so you will always be notified when I post a new entry. I appreciate it.

Next up: Lots more reviews to catch up on, and another “BC vs. the World” video is upcoming in the next few days. Stay tuned!

The Top 10 Wines of 2021

So, 2021 can F right off, amiright? I mean, slightly better than 2020 I suppose, but that isn’t climbing over a very high bar. And if 2021 wasn’t bad enough all year long, it ends with the passing of the legendary Betty White, just hours before the calendar turns, and weeks before her 100th birthday. The death of a national treasure almost seems inevitable given the year we’ve had……what a life she lived.

But enough of the negativity! Obviously there were some good things in 2021 as well, including my friends and family remaining healthy (OK actually my Dad passed away in February but I’m not going to complain too much, he was 90 and had lived his life his way), and we got to take our first real vacation in quite some time, a beautiful trip to Disneyland that we couldn’t have timed any better. While we were there, our city was besieged by a once-in-500-years flooding event, and not long after we got home, the Omicron variant started tearing through the world. So, to say our timing was particularly fantastic would be quite an understatement.

And as usual, we enjoyed quite a few bottles of spectacular wine this year, including the highest ranked bottle which we enjoyed during that trip to Disney. Let’s get to it!

#10 (and #11) a couple different vintages of the best wine you’ll find at a winery located in the Fraser Valley!

#9 – To Bordeaux, for a lovely wine that would probably move up this list if given further time in the bottle.

#8 takes us to Italy, for a special Brunello from a spectacular vintage.

#7 Features the best BC Chardonnay I have ever tasted!

#6 Takes us down the coast to Napa Valley, where one of the most well-known producers brings us a fantastic, classic Napa Cab!

#5 To South America for a wine I just cannot get enough of, from Argentina.

Yes, I know it’s from Chile. That was for you, Rémi !

#4 We will ACTUALLY go to Argentina this time, for a beautiful blend vintage after vintage.

At #3, staying in South America, a wine that I bought as part of an auction lot of well-aged Chilean wine. This was not a wine I was familiar with, but it really knocked us over!

#2 is another wine I was not familiar with until it was recommended to me by a specialist at a private liquor store. Fabulous recommendation!!

And coming in at the top of this year’s list, a wine I am quite familiar with, but one that never disappoints! We were so fortunate to get the last bottle of this off the menu at Carthay Circle in Disney’s California Adventure, and also to get it at a price that is unheard of in any restaurant!

So there you have it, another great year in wine! The search for the elusive 100-point table wine continues (in fact, no 99’s this year either). Will 2022 finally break the streak? Stay tuned to find out!!

The last blog post of 2021 features some great BC wine, and a Tempranillo that would be old enough to drink itself in any country in the world!

I still have a few more bottles that we consumed in 2021 to report on, but these are a few good ones that I have not previously published. Most of them are BC wine, but a couple interesting ones from other places will show up at the end.

Here’s hoping that 2022 is a much better year! Thanks for reading the blog, and I hope you all have a safe and Happy New Year’s!

Next up: The Best Wines of 2021! Stay tuned!

Part three of our annual “Rosé” series, finally tasted through all of them!

Mostly BC but a couple other ones at the end. If you missed parts 1 and 2, you can check those out here:

Part One

Part Two

Now one from Australia which I had previously posted.

And let’s finish up with one from France which I had not tasted in a few years, and this one was a huge improvement from the previous vintage. One of my favorite rosés of the year!

That’s it and that’s all for rosé in 2021! Next up is a bunch of random stuff we’ve been drinking this year, all leading up to the Best Wines of 2021, coming up at the end of the year. And if I’m doing “Xmas wine” right, a few of the best wines of 2021 will be wines we haven’t even tasted yet! Stay tuned!

Birthday Week ends not with a whimper, but a bang! And some other reviews as well, including some “Best of the Best” contenders!

Ah, birthday week is the best. The only problem with it is that it only lasts 7 days. I have petitioned the wife to turn it into “Birthday Fortnight” but the permits have not yet been approved. You can imagine the paperwork.

Anyhoo, we finished up the week with some great bottles, including these beauties:

So now that we’re done with ‘Birthday Week’, here are a bunch of random reviews of stuff we’ve enjoyed over the last few months and I have not yet posted.

And, let’s finish this entry with an absolutely spectacular Super Tuscan!

That’s it for today! Next up: I have finally finished tasting all the rosés that I am going to for this year, mostly from BC, but I’ll post all of those reviews soon. And, we have a ton of other great stuff to report on from the past few months, so stay tuned!

Vacation Epi-blog, and a great week of birthday wine begins!

First of all, I apologize to those of you who were following along with the vacation blog, which ended abruptly. I had every intention of doing both the blog and vlog, but as the week went on, I got more and more tired and something had to give. In this case, the blog suffered.

Here are a handful of pictures that we got from the last couple days of the incredible trip:

Now, those of you who watched the vlogs might remember that I was expecting the “travel day from Hell”, as we were driving home from Seattle through the border and then taking an unfamiliar (and long) route home, as Hwy-1 was closed because of the epic flooding that we completely missed while we were away.

We encountered the most friendly border guard in history. Even though there were only 8-9 cars in the lineup when we arrived, it took about 45 minutes as the new restrictions means that most cars required a lot of time to get processed. It had just been announced that they were closing Hwy-7, our ONLY route home, for further repairs at 7 PM. We got to the border around 2, and we were hearing stories of people who had taken 4-5 hours to get home, attributed to the fact that the winding highway was currently operating with single-lane alternating traffic. Obviously, doing the math, we didn’t have a lot of wiggle room, needing to get past the closure point (and we had no idea where that would be) before 7 PM, or we’d be turned around and unable to get home at all that night. Ack!

Well, we arrived home at around 4:30! No delays of any significance. We got to a road said that indicated “single lane alternating traffic”, but that was never the case. It took us, probably, only about 45 minutes longer to get home than it would normally take us on Hwy-1. Bullet dodged. Another example of how incredibly lucky we were on multiple occasions this trip!

Now, one of the reasons we chose these dates for our trip was to celebrate my 52nd birthday. We try to avoid going to Disney on my actual birthday, as it always falls very close to US Thanksgiving and I lack the patience to deal with Thanksgiving crowds, so we were actually home 3 days before the official date. You know what that means, though?! BIRTHDAY WEEK!!!!!

For my actual birthday dinner, I needed 1/3 of a bottle of Chardonnay to put into the sauce. I went to my wine fridges to find a Chardonnay where I wouldn’t mind losing 1/3 of the bottle, and I pulled out this one, which was the “worst” Chardonnay I could find. And let me tell you, if you have a bunch of wine at home and this is the worst Chardonnay you can find, you are doing something right.

For the second Chardonnay of the evening, we upgraded a bit to the most reliable Chardonnay house in BC.

For my actual birthday meal, I was making Prime Rib, and I ran into the same situation. Needing 1/3 of a bottle for the Jus, I went into the cellar and pulled out something that I thought would be drinking well, but maybe didn’t have a ton of time left in it. This was a pleasant surprise.

For night three of “birthday week” we had a couple of Quails’ Gate wines that we have previously enjoyed and rated, along with another episode of their “Virtual Culinary Series” which is a lot of fun.

That’s it for today! Coming up, if we have any more great wine during “birthday week” I will be reporting on them. As well, we have a ton of great stuff to report on, including some wine that is going to show up on my “best of the best” list, and also on my annual “best of the year” list which is fast approaching. Stay tuned!!

Disneyland Day 5! Another huge day, with a special ticketed event: Mickey’s Merriest Nights!!

6:30 AM – I slept in!!!! Yes, this is sleeping in for me these days.

7:30 AM – The wife is up, thanks to an emergency text from work, probably related to the intense flooding going on in and around the lower mainland right now. No exaggeration, if today was our travel day home, we would not be able to get there. Floods have cut off Chilliwack from all roads, including Highway-1. Hopefully they are able to get that sorted out before we return home on Saturday!!

9:20 AM – We arrive at the Plaza Inn for our breakfast with Minnie and Friends. It’s a buffet that isn’t really a buffet…..they have cast members serving you at the buffet stations. The characters don’t come for individual pictures anymore, but we still get video of the whole gang (Pluto, Pooh, Dale) and pictures with (near) Minnie Mouse. The food is really quite good for this sort of buffet, and the biscuits and gravy are some of the best I’ve ever had. It’s well worth the $40ish price tag.

After breakfast we head into Critter Country where Splash Mountain is a walk-on. I have NEVER seen that before. We get pretty wet, I gotta say, and although it’s much cooler today than it was the first couple of days, it’s still warm enough to dry us off without much worry. We also take a ride on the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, do a bunch of Xmas shopping, and then head for the exits. We are going back to the hotel to rest for a few hours before we begin our big evening, where we have tickets for Mickey’s Merriest Nights, a private event (“private, just us and thousands of our closest friends”), that begins at 8 PM, one hour after the park closes. Very much looking forward to that! It runs until Midnight, features 6 different Xmas parties in the various lands, and we will have the opportunity to ride any ride that we want from every land that is open. The only lands not open tonight are Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Critter Country and ToonTown.

While the wife has a little nap, I am sitting on the patio editing the vlog from last night and enjoying a cheap but half-decent Chardonnay that I bought from the hotel gift shop.

Nothing to write home about, but for the $20 I paid for it, it’s about what I’d expect.

Another restful day for Little-Miss-Naps-A-Lot while I spend most of the afternoon editing the vlog, drinking the Chard and just enjoying the time on the patio. Also watching the news from back home, which just seems to get worse and worse. Man, I hope we are able to get home on Saturday.

6:30 PM – Back into the park to do a few things before the party starts at 8. Disneyland at night, at Christmas, is spectacular.

In the hour between the closure of the park and the beginning of the party, we ride Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland and the Matterhorn Bobsleds. All walk-ons.

8:00 PM – The party begins and we wander around the various lands to see the six themed mini-parties which all include food and entertainment, including character sightings

9:30 PM – “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade begins. We are in front of ‘It’s A Small World’ waiting to see it. The cast member who is standing around us says this is the biggest parade they’ve ever had. It starts on Main Street, and weaves it’s way through the park to the finish at Small World. She wasn’t lying about the size of this parade, as it’s nearly 10PM by the time it comes around the corner into view. It really is a spectacular parade. Disney does this stuff so, so well.

11:00 PM – OK so I am way too old for this. It’s been a great day, but time for us to start meandering down Main Street and head for the exits. The party doesn’t end until Midnight and by the time we hit a few shops on Main Street and hit the exits, it’s not too far from that. We are both totally spent at this point. Another spectacular day!

That’s it for today. Tomorrow, sleeping in, a relaxing morning, and dinner reservations at Wine Country Trattoria in DCA. Stay tuned!