Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know that it’s a bit of a challenge to attend wine tastings these days. OK, it’s impossible.
So if you can’t go to a wine tasting, why not bring the tasting to you? That’s what Black Hills Estate Winery in Oliver is doing. You pick the wine (there are three packs available: Red, White, Mixed), and they ship it to you and spend an hour on Zoom with you, tasting through the wines. You’ll get led by a knowledgable wine evangelist, and you can bring as many friends as you like (they do not necessarily have to have purchased the pack – the winery requires only 2 packs purchased per session).
A couple weeks ago, we participate in the red wine session, and last night we participated in the white wine session. You can see the various offerings at this link.
We have been club members for years, but this would be the first time we had tasted these specific wines, with the exception of the Nota Bene and the Syrah, which we tasted at last year’s Nota Bene release party. I didn’t review them that evening, but I recall thinking how good the Syrah was, and how big and intense the Nota Bene was. My opinions have not changed.
The other red wine in the pack is the 2018 Carmenere. I am not reviewing that at this time, because I just didn’t like it very much. This is a wine that I usually absolutely love, but this one falls flat, for now. I have this wine in my cellar and I will report on it the next time we open one. I have no doubt it will improve with time; in fact, the bottle that we opened during this tasting did get better when we went back to it the next day, so there is lots of optimism. If you have these, I would definitely let them age for a while.
On to the report!
As for last night’s whites, we opened (and started enjoying) the Alibi about 5 hours before the tasting, and the Viognier about 3 hours before the tasting. Both improved significantly by the time we got the virtual tasting started. The Chardonnay was opened a half hour before the tasting but not poured until it was time to drink it during the event.
The winery is making plans to open with limited spaces available, in early June. You will need to make an appointment (or get very lucky if you just drop in), particularly early in the re-opening process, so if you are going to be in the area, give them a call and book your spot.
As a bonus review, when pulling the 2018 Viognier out of our wine fridge, I noticed that we had a couple bottles of the 2017 in there, so today we cracked that one open to see the difference…..and it’s a completely different wine.
That’s it for today! Coming up, a bunch of random stuff we have been enjoying over the past few weeks/months.
As of right now, I have tasted through all the rosé that I have had delivered during this pandemic (and some that were here before that). Here is part two of the report.
Still a few 2019’s to come….have not yet heard release information for a couple perennial favorites, Black Hills and Culmina. I’ve been told that Black Hills new vintage is going to be COMPLETELY different than what they have done in the past. No more Pinot Noir rosé, it has been replaced with a Provence-style rosé featuring Rhône varietals. Exciting!
OK, on to today’s report. There are some beauties in here!
Up next: Got lots of great stuff to report on, so stay tuned!
I am not the most patient person on the planet. In fact, I am probably closer to the other end of the spectrum. I want what I want, and I want it right freaking now. It has always been that way, and I can’t imagine it will change at this point in my life.
So, that kind of attitude really doesn’t work well in the world of fine wine. It needs to age, and since not many wineries do that for you (at least, not enough), you need to do it. That takes patience.
We have been buying wine for, I dunno, around a decade. I started up this blog in 2013, which was probably not long after we began our journey into wine, so it’s probably slightly less than a decade, in fact. But in that time, we have amassed quite a collection. The fruits of our labours, and the patience we have shown, are really starting to pay off.
(BTW did you know that studies estimate that 90% of all wine purchased in the USA is consumed WITHIN 24 HOURS??? That is awful. We have so much more work to do in educating the wine-drinking public).
Yesterday, I ventured out of the house to our offsite cellar. We had 6.5 cases of wine that needed to go in, through our various spring wine clubs and not to mention the wine we bought at the Vancouver International Wine Festival just before we ended up quarantined due to COVID-19. I don’t leave the house that often these days, but with some simple precautions, I am pretty unlikely to catch the virus dropping off and picking up wine at our cellar. It’s unlikely that I’ll run into any people there (and I didn’t), and the wine itself has been in the cellar since long before COVID-19 existed. And since I didn’t have room in our storage lockers to put 6.5 cases in, well, a bunch of “ready in 2020” wine had to come out.
Five cases, in fact, came home with me. This is where the patience is paying off. Many of these bottles have been in the cellar for many years, and looking at the vintages that are coming out….2010, 2011, 2012, 2013…..these wines will have aged beautifully. And I’m not just talking about those ‘special’ bottles either, a lot of the wines we brought home yesterday are just your everyday, easy drinking wines that might be fine to consume at their release date, but they’ll be much, much better now.
The only downside, of course, is that it’s not like I had room in our wine fridges for 5 cases of wine! Far from it. This is what the wine room looks like now.
All the wine you see in these pictures is “overstock” LOL. The fridges are jam-packed, not to mention there are 4-5 bottles of rosé and white in our actual fridge. You can probably tell that we have not been entertaining for quite a while!!
Why all this talk about patience? Well, another instance of patience paid off last night, as we cracked open our first bottle of wine from Leonetti Cellar. We have tasted a few of their wines at tastings and had a couple bottles at restaurants in Vegas, but this is the first one we had opened at home. We spent 2-3 years on the waiting list just to be able to buy wine from them, and until last night, everything had gone into the cellar (and nothing had yet come out). This particular bottle came aged already, and although it would undoubtedly got even better with more time, you gotta drink this stuff sometimes, right?
Also yesterday, we enjoyed these two beautifully aged BC Chardonnays. The 2013 came home from the cellar with me yesterday, while the 2015 is actually the current vintage, as Checkmate does a bit of the aging for you!
Incidentally, my wife, who’s palette I totally respect, thought I transposed the scores on these two wines; she enjoyed the Checkmate just a tad more.
Oh, and speaking of drinking beautifully aged wine, from time to time you might get lucky and find a winery that is pulling some very old stuff from their cellar and putting it on sale. That was the case with this bottle that we bought recently. It was so good, we had to buy a couple more.
And to finish up this report, a bunch of random stuff we have enjoyed in the past weeks, including another off-the-charts-delicious Pinot Noir from Hartford.
That’s it for today, coming up soon is part 2 of the BC rosé report, plus a ton of other random stuff to report on. I have pages and pages of reviews to prepare and submit. Stay tuned!
Full disclosure: We are not really “drink rosé in the spring and summer” people. We tend to drink it all year round. Having said that, this is the time of year that the new ones start to hit the pavement. Below, a bunch of BC rosés that we have been enjoying so far this spring.
Consider this “part one” of the BC rosé report, as I have a lot more to taste and review.
First, a few from last year that you can still find.
And here are a few new ones:
Not a bad bottle in the bunch. I sure love a good rosé.
Up next: Got a bunch of random bottles to report on, and in the not-too-distant future, a bunch more 2019 BC rosés in part 2!
Hope all my readers are safe and hunkered down with a tremendous amount of wine to get you through. We are going to be in this for a while.
Dine Italia is the best event of the VIWF, every year, and the event we look forward to most. It sells out in minutes every year, and one of these times we are not going to be lucky enough to get tickets, but that hasn’t happened yet. Knock on wood.
I would be remiss in not mentioning how incredibly lucky we all were, looking back. Spending a week in close quarters with wine producers and workers from all over the wine world, including France and Italy, which as we all know, have been absolutely devastated by this virus. At Dine Italia, I sat right next to Andrea Bermond Des Ambrois, the Export manager from Gancia wines. We talked, we shook hands, and we ate our meals shoulder to shoulder. Chilling.
To the food and wine we go!
Note – in cases where the price listed is followed by a ?, it means I am not sure where you could find this wine, but the price listed was given to us by the winery itself. It is likely a suggested retail price.
CORNETTO DI SALMONE
This is not totally my thing, I am not a huge fan of caviar OR smoked salmon, but it was still pretty darn tasty. It was paired with a wine we have had before, albeit I can’t remember exactly where.
For the first time in the history of this event, they served me something I couldn’t even try. I don’t like raw fish, I don’t like tuna cooked or not, I despise cucumber and I would rather eat dirt than watermelon. Not exactly a “Dean” dish. No biggie, it was bound to happen. Others enjoyed it.
GARGANELLI AL FUNGHI
It’s not unusual to have a pasta dish with mushrooms, but this is probably the first time I’ve had a mushroom dish with pasta. The mushrooms were the star here, and while mushrooms are not my favorite thing in the world, they can be delightful when done right. THIS was done right.
OH. MY. GOD. This was, probably, the best thing I have ever had here. It was unanimous amongst our group, this was just superb. The flavors melded perfectly, and it was paired beautifully with two excellent wines.
Another really special dish, paired with two fabulous wines.
A perfect way to finish off a fantastic meal. Two wine pairings with this as well, one of which was a lot more successful than the other.
Well, that’s it for today and this officially closes off the 2020 Vancouver International Wine Festival for me. Here’s hoping that the friends we have made at this event year after year are all OK, and that our lives get back to normal before next year’s festival, which is being hosted by South America! Very much looking forward to it.
Next up: Tons of random stuff to report on, and I am starting to taste through the new BC rosés that I have received so far, and will do a special entry featuring a bunch of those. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!
You’ve heard of “Love in the time of Cholera”? Welcome to “Wine in the time of Covid-19”. Man it feels weird to write a blog post about wine, or anything else, in these uncertain times, but let’s do it anyway.
My wife and I are virtually quarantined; she has autoimmune issues, so she hasn’t been out of the house in over a week, except to take the dog out to do her business. I have only been out twice, to pick up some groceries and run a couple of essential errands. She works from home all the time anyway, and I am lucky enough to have a job where I can do the same for the duration of this pandemic. We know that we are incredibly fortunate, so many people have no ability to work from home, so they either have to stay away from work and lose the income, or take their chances in the face of a pandemic. Neither choice seems very good to me.
Anyway, on to more pleasant topics, the rest of the world that we sampled at the recent Vancouver International Wine Festival. If you read my two entries on the host region of France, you will know that we really focused on France this year, getting to all but (I think) 4 tables. The downside to that, of course, is that we got to a lot fewer tables of all the other countries.
We bought everything we tasted here, except for the trade-only wine which wasn’t available…and we certainly would have bought that too if it had been!
Pascual Toso 2016 Magdalena Toso – 93+
Table 49 – Angove Family Winemakers
Angove Family Winemakers 2018 GSM – 92
Angove Family Winemakers 2018 Family Crest Chardonnay – 88
Angove Family Winemakers 2018 Organic Cabernet Sauvignon – 85
Angove Family Winemakers 2017 Warboys Single Vineyard McLaren Vale Grenache – 90
Table 51 – Jacob’s Creek
Jacob’s Creek 2016 St. Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon – 91
Jacob’s Creek 2018 Steingarten Riesling – 87
Jacob’s Creek 2019 Tea & Wine Chardonnay – 82
Jacob’s Creek 2018 Double Barrel Chardonnay – 88
Jacob’s Creek 2017 Double Barrel Shiraz – 89
Table 52 – Majella Wines
We had the distinct pleasure of speaking at length with owner Brian Lynn, a delightful gentleman who enchanted us with tales about various winery topics; in particular, the story of how this particular wine came about:
Decoy 2018 Rosé – 88
Calera Winery 2017 Central Coast Pinot Noir – 89
Duckhorn Vineyards 2016 Merlot – 90+
Greenwing 2017 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 90
Table 154 – La Crema
La Crema – 2018 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay – 88
La Crema – 2018 Monterey Rosé – 86
La Crema – 2018 Monterey Pinot Noir – 89
Table 156 – Michael David Winery
Michael David Winery 2017 Petite Petit – 91
Michael David Winery 2015 Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon – 88
Michael David Winery 2017 Earthquake Petite Sirah – 92
Michael David Winery 2016 Lust Zinfandel – 90
Table 159 – Robert Mondavi Winery
Robert Mondavi – 2016 Reserve Chardonnay Carneros – 90
Robert Mondavi – 2018 Winery Fumé Blanc – 90
Robert Mondavi – 2017 Pinot Noir Carneros – 90
Robert Mondavi – 2015 Maestro – 92
OK let’s get right to it, the rest of the host country of France.
TABLE 23 – Jean-Luc Columbo
Les Abeilles 2017 Côtes du Rhone Blanc – 87
Les Abeilles 2017 Côtes du Rhone Rouge – 88
Terres Brulées 2016 Cornas – 87
Les Bartavelles 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape – 90
TABLE 24 – Maison Joseph Drouhin
Joseph Drouhin 2018 Mâcon-Villages – 89
Joseph Drouhin 2018 Chablis Reserve de Vaudon – 89
Joseph Drouhin 2018 Morgon – 92
TABLE 27 – Maison Le Star Vignobles & Châteaux
Maison Le Star 2018 Entre Parenthèses Rosé – 84
Château Cazeau 2016 1560 Bordeaux Rouge – 87
Château Ad Francos 2018 Bordeaux Blanc – 88
Château Picon 2016 La Reserve Bordeaux Supérieur – 90
TABLE 28 – Louis Bernard
Louis Bernard 2016 Côte-Rôtie – 90
Louis Bernard 2018 Côtes du Rhône Cuvée Louis Rosé – 87
Louis Bernard 2016 Côtes du Rhône Cuvée Louis Rouge – 88
Louis Bernard 2017 Châteauneuf-du-Pape – 90
TABLE 29 – Louis Jadot
Louis Jadot 2017 Bourgogne Pinot Noir – 87
Louis Jadot 2018 Bourgogne Chardonnay – 87
Louis Jadot 2018 Beaujolais Villages – 89
Louis Jadot 2016 Clos des Ursules 1er Cru – 90
TABLE 30 – Maison Louis Latour
Louis Latour 2018 Mâcon-Lugny – 90
Louis Latour 2018 Les Pierres Dories – 89
TABLE 31 – Domaine Michel Gassier/Les Halos de Jupiter
Domaine Michael Gassier 2018 Rosé – 87
Les Halos de Jupiter 2017 Côtes du Rhône – 90
TABLE 32 – Château Minuty
Château Minuty 2018 M de Minuty – 88
Château Minuty 2018 Prestige Rosé – 89
TABLE 35 Paul Jaboulet Ainé
Paul Jaboulet 2018 Côtes du Rhône Paralleil 45 Blanc – 89
Paul Jaboulet 2018 Côtes du Rhône Paralleil 45 Rosé – 87
Paul Jaboulet 2018 Côtes du Rhône Plan de Dieu – 87
Paul Jaboulet 2017 Châteauneuf-du-Pape – 89
TABLE 36 – Domaines Paul Mas
Paul Mas 2018 Chai Mas Blanc – 87
Paul Mas 2018 Clos des Mûres – 89
TABLE 37 Château Pesquié
*I reviewed most of these wines at the Ventoux Feast earlier.
TABLE 39 Saget La Perrière
Saget La Perrière 2015 Late Harvest Chenin Blanc – 89
Saget Le Perrière 2017 M de Mulonniere Anjoy Chenin Blanc – 88
Saget Le Perrière 2018 Terres Blanches Poully-Fumé – 90
Saget Le Perrière 2017 Terres Blanches Sancerre – 89
TABLE 40 – Maison Sichel
Château Angludet 2016 Margaux – 94+
Château Trillol 2014 Cucugnan Corbieres – 90
Domaine de Pellehaut 2018 Harmonie de Gascogne Rosé – 88
Château Argadens 2016 Bordeaux Supérieur – 89
Alrighty let’s get to it, and we will start with the host country of France. I hear they make some pretty good wine over there.
As always, I will present scores for everything I tasted and full reviews of anything we bought, and some other special stuff along the way.
As with last year, I will do this “by table”, since many of the tables have multiple labels. For prices, if it says “$XX BC Liquor Store”, you can assume it is on the BCLS website and is available in at least some BC Liquor Stores on a regular basis. If it says “$XX Festival”, then I do not believe you will find it in BC Liquor Stores. Of course, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t find it in private stores if you look hard enough.
There are 43 French wineries, and we got through just about all of ’em. In order to not put all my readers to sleep, I’ll split this blog post into two parts.
TABLE 1 AdVini
Clos de l’Oratoire 2017 Chatautneuf-du-Pape – 88
Haut Combes 2018 Faugères – 88
Domaine Laroche 2018 Chablis St. Martin – 88
TABLE 2 Vignobles Alain Brumont
Château Bouscassé 2015 Madiran – 88
Château Montus 2014 Rouge – 88
Château Montus 2002 Cuvée Prestige – 88
TABLE 3 Arthur Metz
Arthur Metz 2018 Pinot Pinot – 87
Arthur Metz NV Crémant Rosé Pinot Noir – 86
Arthur Metz NV Perle Noire – 86
TABLE 4 Aubert Vignobles
Château Saint Antoine 2016 Bordeaux Supérieur – 85
Château Sessile-Aubert 2015 Montagne Saint-Émilion – 88
Château d’Anielle Saint-Émilion Grand Cru – 88
Château La Couspaude Saint-Émilion Grand Cru – 87
TABLE 6 Borie-Manoux
Château Colbert Canet 2018 Rosé – 87
Château Begadan 2016 Médoc – 88
Château Lions De Batailley – 90+
TABLE 7 Domaine Boutinot
As of the time I am writing this, the only table where we bought everything they were offering.
TABLE 8 Famille JM Cazes
L’Ostal Cazes 2018 Pays D’Oc Rosé – 87
Michael Lynch 2017 AOC Bordeaux Rouge – 85
Château Ormes de Pez 2016 Sain-Estephe AOC Rouge – 86
Château Villa Bel-Air AOC Graves – 90
TABLE 9 M. Chapoutier
M. Chapoutier 2018 Côtes du Rhône Belleruche Rouge – 88
M. Chapoutier 2017 Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem – 86
M. Chapoutier 2018 Tavel Rosé – 89
TABLE 10 Crus et Domaines de France
Château Lamarque 2015 Bordeaux – 88
Vieux Château des Combes 2015 Bordeaux – 88
Château Bois Pertuis 2017 Bordeaux – 85
TABLE 11 Domaine Duseigneur
Domaine Duseigneur 2016 Côtes du Rhône La Chapelle – 87
Domaine Duseigneur 2017 Châteauneuf du Pape Rouge Catarina – 91
Domaine Duseigneur 2017 Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc Catarina – 90
François Martenot 2018 Aligoté – 88
François Martenot 2018 Petit Chablis – 88
François Martenot 2018 Saint Véran – 88
TABLE 15 François Martenot (Bourgogne/Beaujolais)
TABLE 16 Gabriel Meffre
Château Grand Escalion 2018 Amoureuse Rosé – 87
Laurus 2017 Beaumes de Venise – 89
TABLE 17 Les Vins Georges Duboeuf
TABLE 18 Gérard Bertrand
Gérard Bertrand 2018 Côte des Roses Rosé – 87
Gérard Bertrand 2018 Domaine de L’Aigle Chardonnay – 86
Gérard Bertrand 2017 Grand Terroir Tautavel – 88
TABLE 19 Les Grands Chais de France (Bordeaux/Provence)
Château Terrebonne 2018 Rosé – 86
Château La Grande Clotte 2016 Bordeau – 85
Chãteau de Balan 2015 Bordeaux – 85
L’Endllos Domaines Edmond De Rothschild 2015 Bordeaux – 85
TABLE 20 Les Grands Chais de France (Loire)
La Château O Sauvion Haut-Poitou 2018 Sauvignon Blanc – 86
Château de Fesles 2016 Anjou Blanc – 86
Château du Cléray 2018 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie – 86
TABLE 22 Hugel & Fils
Hugel & Fils 2018 Gentil – 88
Hugel & Fils 2016 Pinot Noir – 85
That’s about half of the French wineries, so we’ll stop there for now.
Next up: Obviously still have to report on the other half of the host nation, plus everything else in the world, but in a few hours we are heading out to our favorite event of the Festival every year: Dine Italia! Chances are that my next blog post will be a recap of this beautiful lunch.
I discovered lots of fun facts about this AOC while reading various articles. Perhaps most interesting, is that they have been a huge beneficiary of Global Warming. Ironic, actually, for a winery that is 100% organic and Bio-Dynamic, but without Global Warming, they would not be able to produce the world-class wines they are producing. Noted wine critic Jancis Robinson was quoted as saying that the reds from this region were “barely wine” when she visited in the 70’s. Now, this up-and-coming AOC is getting high praise from all the major critics.
To give you an idea of how significant the altitude changes are, everyone reading this is probably familiar with Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which makes world renowned red blends, primarily GSM blends (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre). Ventoux, just 50 miles away, didn’t used to get warm enough for their Mourvèdre to fully ripen. They have some 10-year old Mourvèdre plantings that are just starting to round into shape, but the wines we were going to taste tonight did not contain any at all. They have some other red grapes
Attending the dinner tonight was Frédéric Chaudière, who, along with his brother Alexandre, have taken over the day-to-day operations of this winery, Château Pesquié, from their parents, who had taken over operations from THEIR parents in the mid-80’s. He came around to all the tables to talk about his wines and his region, and he was flabbergasted that I knew as much as I did about the region. I confessed that I had this knowledge for all of two hours, which he found amusing. But, hey, knowledge is knowledge, right?
Frédéric pointed out that if we don’t reverse or slow the effects of climate change pretty soon, it’s going to go too far in the other direction, making it difficult to impossible to grow Syrah and Grenache in this region. What a shame that would be.
OK let’s get to the wine and the food, expertly prepared by the Chefs at Chambar Restaurant.
All kinds of things going on in this dish, the star being the deep fried halloumi, which for those of you (like me) who were unfamiliar with it, is a cheese that you can cook and it won’t melt. Really delicious, and the wine was an excellent pair for it. The wine was quite a treat, and I am hoping to be able to get some of these at the onsite BCLC liquor store at the Festival later today.
Crevettes à L’absinthe
Spiced prawns and rosé? Seemingly an odd pair but it worked; at least, the food and wine didn’t get in the way of each other.
As a substitute for my wife, they provided her a beef dish which was cooked very rare, so we had to ask them to cook it a bit more, which they were happy to do. It was delicious, in fact I ate about half of it.
Carpaccio de Betteraves
I do not like beets, generally, but this was the best beet dish I have ever had, and it’s not close. Still, I gave most of mine to the wife, since beets and pistachios are two of her favorite things on the planet. No surprise, she absolutely loved this dish.
The wine pairing was absolutely perfect; this was one of those pairings that elevated the food and the wine. Lovely.
I really enjoyed the risotto, but my wife insisted that my mushroom risotto is better. It’s tough to imagine a better compliment that a home chef could receive.
She’s wrong, though :). She likes mushrooms more than I do and my risotto has a lot more mushrooms in it. This was more restrained, which I enjoyed.
This was another good wine pairing, although pairing a wine like this with mushroom risotto isn’t exactly rocket science.
Tajine D’azia à L’agneau
I hated this dish. Hated hated hated hated it. All I could taste was Cinnamon. It didn’t matter that this was lamb, this could have been beef, chicken, tuna or tofu. It just tasted like cinnamon.
I would have preferred Cayanne. (Inside joke that only a few people will understand but those people are laughing hard right now).
My wife also hated it. The lady sitting next to me hated it. The two girls sitting across from me hated it.
But, apparently, this is one of their signature dishes, and has been on their menu forever. To each their own, I guess. We mentioned this to the waitress who went to the back to taste it and confirm that it was the same as it always is, and she confirmed that it was. Oh well, we had a lot of great food tonight, not everyone is going to like everything.
The wine was terrific, but I can’t comment on the pairing with the dish. Not even 1982 Château Lafitte Rothschild would have helped THAT dish.
Chèvre et Orange Sanguine
This was a lovely way to end the evening, and I was particularly impressed with the basil sorbet. Everything was very good here, including the pairing.
What a wonderful way to start our week here. Next up: In just a few hours, we head to the Trade tasting, and get to see just how many wines we can taste in 2.5 hours. Then back to the tasting room for the normal Thursday night tasting a couple of hours later. It is going to be quite a night!