Everything Wine blog

Deckbusters!

It’s time for a slate of amazing wines for outdoor sipping (or outdoor gulping, I don’t know what kind of day you’ve had), this time in both reds and whites. I didn’t plan on including white wines in a Deckbusters email, but nor did I imagine that my own deck would reach 42C, so here we are, adaptable and thirsty. We begin with the Reds. 

REDS 

Kathryn Hall “Darwin” Syrah 2014, Napa Valley, USA. Ok ok yes, you’re not used to Syrah from Napa and yes, the only dude who reviewed it was Wilfred Wong (wine.com) and he’s weird, but if I’ve built up any trust with you, believe me when I tell you that this is INSANE value – it’s basically Shafer Relentless with less grip and far less price. Prizing power over subtlety, I had presumed that this bruiser earned its name in honour of all the other Syrahs it had to kill to achieve species dominance, but in fact it’s named for the northern Australian town where Kathryn Hall’s private plane had to make an emergency landing (winemakers: they’re just like us!). She and her husband Craig were so taken with the Shirazes they tasted that night that they resolved to pay tribute when they returned home with this gorgeously floral, opaque Syrah that burns villages and slays all enemies. Violets and blackberries rule the roost, with cassis, black pepper and pencil shavings leading towards a classically tempered body and a surprisingly elegant, long finish. Nothing but purple smiles when I tried it - a joyful find. 94 points Wilfred “Weirdo” Wong, 5 cases available, $59.99 +tax 

Comando G “La Bruja de Rozas” 2019, Sierra de Gredos, Spain. A returning champion to these pages, an elegant, fresh, eminently drinkable Garnacha from the hills surrounding Madrid. At the front of the pack of young winemakers seeking to redefine Garnacha for a new generation, Daniel Landi and Fernando Garcia treat the grape more like a Pinot Noir, prizing acidity and beauty over the oxidatively rustic styles Spain has been flooding the world with for decades. Quite floral and herbal on the nose, Bruja starts to show gamey, mineral notes on palate, reflecting the sandy, granitic soils in the vineyard. Medium bodied and perfectly balanced, this can handle most of what your grill throws at you. 93 points Robert Parker, 2 cases available, $52.98 +tax. 

Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2018, Cotes-du-Rhône, France. Another returning champion, this time representing the superlative 2018 Chateauneuf-du-Pape vintage (and only 2 Parky-points lower than their Grand Vin). Essentially a geographically inconvenienced Chateauneuf-du-Pape sitting across the street (and outside the appellation) from Chateau Beaucastel, the 2018 Coudoulet is a Prince wearing the King’s clothes: denser and darker than usual (more Mourvèdre in the mix than other years), showing bright red fruits, sage and white pepper before tumbling into a medium-full body with great freshness and a long, satisfyingly grippy finish. I’ve long gone on and on about the value of Coudoulet, nothing has changed. 93 points Robert Parker, 93 points Decanter, 3 cases available, Reg Price $39.98, Sale Price $37.98 +tax 

Finca Ygay Marqués de Murrieta Reserva 2016, Rioja, Spain. Enjoying quite a moment right now (the top wine from this house won Wine of the Year last year), Ygay builds on their momentum with this iconic 2016 Reserva, boasting its best scores in well over a decade. Sourced from a single estate at the bottom edge of Rioja Alta, this Tempranillo (with drinking buddies Graciano, Mazuelo and Garnacha) shows intense red and black fruit over a bed of crushed rocks (I can see someone blind tasting this as a Supertuscan). Full and generous in the mouth, the finish tightens up nicely with good acidity and fine tannins before lingering elegantly for well over a minute. Great now, great in 5 years. 95 points Guis Proensa*, 94 points Robert Parker, 4 cases available, $49.98 +tax 

 

WHITES 

Wittmann Westhofener Riesling Trocken 2018, Rheinhessen, Germany. There is so much Riesling Hesitancy in the world today that I’ve largely abandoned the argument. If you’ve decided not to get a Riesling for yourself then there’s nothing I can say to change your mind, but I implore you: think of the sausages. Right now, all over this province, defenceless sausages are being grilled with no access to proper wine pairings – in fact, cases of grilled sausages being paired with Yellow Tail are dangerously on the rise. You can help by grabbing one of these sublimely delicious offerings from the Wittmann family, who’ve farmed around the old market town of Westhofen since 1663. The nose is an aromatic blast of tropical fruit and pastry, but the palate and finish are dry and focused, expertly suited to cut the fat of those helpless sausages. This is crackerjack stuff for the price, and pairs with Bratwurst like a key in a lock. 95 points James Suckling, 4 6-packs available, $59.98 +tax 

Sartori Marani 2018, Veronese Bianco, Italy. Returning in fine form, the unofficial White Amarone from the esteemed Amarone house Sartori shows the strength of the 2018 vintage in its long, persistent finish, full of minerality and glycerine. Holy cow, this wine is a lot. Garganega grapes from the Soave appellation (but declassified because of the process) are dried like Amarone grapes for a couple months before pressing, concentrating everything to produce a luscious, honeyed nose of peaches, melon and jasmine. A large footprint in the mouth, indeed, but not inelegant, with a balanced body and the aforementioned eternal finish. No ratings found. 4 6-packs available, $39.98 +tax 

Domaine Delaporte Sancerre Les Monts Damnés 2018, Loire Valley, France. There is, of course, nothing wrong with simple, linear Sancerre, but this ain’t that. Sourced from arguably the best vineyard in Sancerre, Delaporte’s take on Les Monts Damnes (the “damned hills”, to give you a feel for the amount of direct sun it gets) is a round but piercing blast of citrus and stones, softened with herbal and apple notes. It still starts and finishes with beautifully crisp austerity, it just has a nice fat middle: if Sancerre is a snake, the Les Monts Damnes is a snake that just ate a racoon. Brilliant stuff, doesn’t need food. 95 points Wine Enthusiast, 3 6-packs available, $76.98 +tax 

Venusa Bianco 2018, Mazzorbo, Venice, Italy. A millennium ago, the wines that the Venetian empire used to ship around the Mediterranean were actually grown right in Venice, in fact the area where the Piazza San Marco sits today used to be a vineyard, likely growing the ancient white grape Dorona di Venezia. Tourism, rising waters and urban growth pushed viticulture out to just a handful of islands in the Venetian lagoon, but as recently as 60 years ago Dorona was grown on Mazzorbo, Burano and Torcello, otherwise known as Native Venice. The flood of 1966 put the nail in the coffin of Venetian viticulture, and Dorona became nearly extinct. I say nearly because the Bisol family (Prosecco makers) discovered some Dorona in a private garden in 2002 and replanted it in their ancient walled vineyard on Mazzorbo (connected to the more populous Burano by a footbridge). The variety is perfectly suited for the salty, silty soils of the lagoon, which stress the vines and produce a wine – called Venusa – with an ethereal minerality aside the stone fruits and quince that dance lithely on the nose and palate. The short period of skin contact adds both golden pigment and some citrus rind astringency on the finish, wickedly unique, I’ve never quite had anything like this. If you only take one chance this year on a new, strange white wine, it should obviously be this. Not rated (production is too small). 4 6-packs available, $107.98 +tax 

Langley Vintages Room New Arrivals and Familiar Classics

Wine Enthusiasts, we received fantastic new vintages of familiar classics and some new additions!

Belong Wine Co. Chasing the Sun 2019 Rosé:

Tasting Notes: Grapefruit, blood orange, jasmine, lavender, herbs de Provence and sage on the nose. On the palate, loads of citrus, orange blossom and salinity. Begging for a beach or mountain top - pairs incredibly well with sunsets.

Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Grenache blend. Eldorado County, Napa. Only 5 barrels produced.

Belong Wine Co Rose

$41.98 per bottle plus tax.

Belong Wine Co. El Dorado County Mourvèdre 2018: 

Tasting Notes: Blackcurrant, dark raspberry, tea leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, white pepper, rosemary, sage, and fennel. On the palate the initial burst of bright red fruit, spice and paprika. A very fresh finish.

Only 5 barrels produced. 75% whole cluster and neutral French Oak. 

Belong Wine Co El Dorado

$57.98 per bottle plus tax. 

About the Winery: Belong Wine Co. was founded in 2017 to celebrate everything founders Alli and Bertus van Zyl are passionate about. Pulling from their field journals, the Belong Wine Co. label represents their fascination of the outdoors and drinking wine in the wilderness. The company also serves as members of 1% for the planet, meaning at least one percent of their yearly profits is funneled to environmental causes. A simple and endearing mission, the van Zyls hope their wine inspires people to go out and do what they love, always with a bottle of wine in tow.

Psi 2017 Ribera Del Duero: 

Tasting Notes: Made by Peter Sisseck of the coveted Pingus! Sisseck is the producer of the most expensive of all Spanish wines, the legendary Pingus.  Gorgeous black cherries, blackberries and black truffles on the nose, following through with balanced fruit, and fine tannins. 94 Points James Suckling.

Psi Ribero

$65.98 per bottle plus tax. 

Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard 2016: 

Tasting Notes: A very good vintage in Napa. Freemark Abbey has held exclusive sourcing rights to the Sycamore Vineyard since 1980; the vineyard consistently produces one of Freemark Abbey's acclaimed Cabernets.

Located on the famed Rutherford Bench, adjacent to the Staglin Family, To Kalon, Heitz Bella Oaks and Harlan Estate vineyards. 95 Points Wine Enthusiast.

Freemark Sycamore

$134.98 per bottle plus tax.

Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Napa 2018: 

Tasting Notes: The Stags Leap District comprises some of the most coveted vineyard land in the world for Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine showcases the region's singular ability to produce Cabernets of lush texture and tremendous ageability. 94 Points Wine Enthusiast.

Chimney Rock

$147.99 per bottle plus tax.

Fontodi Flaccianello Della Pieve 2017: 

Tasting Notes: Flaccianello Della Pieve is the result of a selection of the finest Sangiovese grapes which come from the best vineyards of Fontodi and are grown with only natural methods. The vineyards are located in the " Conca d'oro " of Panzano in Chianti, a magnificent natural amphitheater blessed with a unique microclimate and dominated but thousand-year-old Parish Church of San Leolino a Facciono. Definitely one of the standout wines of the 2017 Vintage! A stellar wine that needs time!

One of my all-time favourite Italian producers. 97 Points Vinous, 96 Points Wine Advocate.

Fontodi

$165.99 per bottle plus tax.

Cheers,

Quinot

 

Prices are per bottle and do not include bottle deposits or taxes

Prices as of publication date

A holy grail wine: Keplinger Basilisk

Once in a while, you find a wine that captivates you. A wine that makes you reconsider some of your assumptions. A winemaker doing things that make you sit up and pay attention. And sometimes that wine and the winemaker stop you in your tracks. I’m reluctant to say that I first learned about Helen Keplinger, the winemaker when she was featured on the front cover of Wine Spectator but given her track record, I should have known about her much earlier than that. I was fascinated by her take on varietals that you don’t always think about when it comes to iconic California wines.    

The pursuit of these holy grail type wines, which had never made it to Canada before, began immediately yet it took over a year until I had the good fortune to meet the amazing couple who bring these wines to life. Rarely will you meet two more passionate advocates for respecting the source of fruit and creating masterful wines from those vines. They craft their wines from vine to bottle with incredible attention to detail and critics certainly pay attention with many of their wines regularly scoring 95pts and above year after year. Yet that dedication to only the best fruit means they can be difficult to find as they’re often made in volumes of less than 200 cases and in fact our first allocation of Basilisk was less than 200 bottles!     

Every time I taste this wine, I find it focused, concentrated and full of intense fruit – and yet it’s never what I expect it will be! When I think of Grenache I often associate it with a softer and more plush fruity style but this is something different. It’s much more structured with a great tannic backbone and on the palate, you find notes of black tea, dried red berries and dark fruit. It’s as if this wine is alive with a brooding ‘wild’ side! 

Dave Smith, Director of Buying 

Toscanarama Part One

It’s proving to be a bonkers year for Tuscan wines, as we anticipate the arrival of the stellar 2018 IGTs and the 2016 Brunellos (best year since 2010), among others. I’ll offer them in tidy little groupings as they arrive, and you will want them so if you need room you should probably go to your cellar and get busy. That stuff ain’t gonna drink itself. I’ll help. We begin with Part One: 

Le Potazzine 2016, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Look for this stunning achievement by the Gianetti family to get buckets of love at year’s end when everyone compiles their lists: Potazzine has always been one of Montalcino’s most elegant offerings, but Gigliola Gianetti’s 2016 blend of two sites – one high and one low lying – has crossed into Vosne-Romanée territory. This is, improbably, a statue made of silk, showing lavender, cinnamon and anise amongst the blueberries, raspberries, and the distinctly Tuscan sensation of cherries sun-drying on a hot stone. Given the softer touch this will come around sooner than other bruiser Brunellos of the same vintage, but I reckon that an additional 2 year will get us to the sweet spot. Beauty and grace. 99 points Wine Enthusiast, 6 6-packs available, $153.98 +tax 

Altesino Riserva 2012, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. And now the beast. I had the pleasure of trying this ballistic missile a couple years ago when I visited the winery, it was rightly served last in the flight because any other Sangiovese that follows this will taste like Bud Light – this is the maximum Sangiovese that you can Sangiovese. The hotter, dryer 2012 growing season added more heft and power to an already totemistic wine, like adding a half-dozen oxen on top of a tank, but it’s not all muscle, the seductive nose reminds me of ripe cherries drizzled with balsamic, held in a baseball glove. It’s like when the Coyote is irresistibly drawn to the come-hithering Girl Coyote only to find that she’s actually a dynamite stick with lipstick on.  Herbs and nutmeg round off the finish – this is so nearly perfect but I bet one more year will move the experience into nirvana. 98 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $154.98 +tax 

Argiano Vigna del Suolo 2015, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. This tête-de-cuvée from southern-lying Argiano, sourced from the oldest plot of their estate (planted in 1965) used to be classified as an IGT but is now a Brunello proper. Kind of like Brunello by way of Pauillac, the French and Slovenian oak aging has braced the opulent cherry, game, smoke and coffee notes in a noble frame of graphite, pine and spice. Although Argiano sits in the hot south, the Suolo lieu-dit is the highest in the estate, and you can tell: there is a freshness to the nose and finish – much more than their normale Brunellos – and the affair is framed on both sides by herbs and violets. A gorgeous experience but best delayed – I’d start to think about drinking this after 2025. 97 points Decanter, 96 points Wine Spectator, one 3-pack available, $289.98 +tax 

Fontodi Flaccianello delle Pieve 2017, Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT. The rare Sangiovese practiced in the art of Jiu Jitsu: all the aspects of the Saharan 2017 that made it a challenging vintage for many Tuscan producers seem to have only strengthened Flaccianello, which seems to draw power from its neighbours’ tears. There is dark magic afoot here: jet-black cherries with blackberries stirred by licorice in a dark chocolate bowl, ferrous notes help the tannic structure contain it all and the finish is laced with plums, chalk and sage. A few critics – including Parker – have called Flaccianello the standout wine of the vintage. 97 points Vinous, 96 points Robert Parker, 5 6-packs available, $165.99 +tax 

Capezzana “Villa di Capezzana” 2016, Carmignano DOCG. A charismatic, racy red from the Medici’s resort town, and the first DOCG to allow Cabernet Sauvignon. This has always been one of my go-to bottles for Tuscan value, basically Tignanello for a third of the price (“Tiglet”?). 80/20 Sangiovese/Cabernet from the sleepy village of Carmignano, just northwest of Florence, brimming with tangible minerality, dark fruits and floral hints, all on top of a structured-but-drinkable frame with gravel notes and ripe cherry on the spicy finish. Drinks like a classic, great balance of fruit and tension. 96 points Decanter, 94 points Robert Parker, 2 cases available, $47.98 +tax 

Petrolo Galatrona 2016, Toscana IGT. The folks who tend the Galatrona vineyard in the Valdarno region of eastern Tuscany have pulled off a neat trick: they taught Merlot how to swordfight. Long considered an aspirational member of the Masseto Cadets, the last few years have seen the site produce power-pills of heroic might and beauty, like this nearly-perfect 2016 that sees the trinity of blackberry, blueberry and plum fit together like Voltron to slay space dragons. Floral notes at the front and back, a substantial body and frame that shows iron and tobacco. A classic Merlot from Lucia Bazzocchi Sanjust and her son Luca, best after 2024. 98 points Robert Parker, 98 points James Suckling, 6 bottles available, $188.98 +tax. 

NON-STOP CLASSIC HITS 

What follows is a brief listing of some wines that fit this theme and have previously been written about, but featured again for the benefit of those who’ve recently joined my Collectors List and may have missed ‘em the first time. If anyone requires more info I’m happy to send over the original blurb to you. 

Rocca di Montegrossi San Marcellino Gran Selezione 2015, Chianti Classico DOCG. 96 points Vinous, 2 6-packs available, $71.98 +tax 

Supremus 2015, Toscana IGT 95 points James Suckling, 6 cases available, $49.99 +tax 

Tenuta di Trinoro “Le Cupole” 2017, Toscana IGT 93 points Robert Parker, 2 cases available, $64.98 +tax 

Gianni Brunelli 2015, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. 96 points Vinous, 95 points Decanter, 2 6-packs available, $118.98 +tax 

Piaggia Riserva 2016, Carmignano DOCG. Wine of the Year, Gambero Rosso 1 6-pack available, $65.98 +tax 

Ornellaia 2017, Bolgheri DOC. 97 points Vinous, 96 points Robert Parker, 1 wooden 6-pack available, $259.99 +tax 

La Serena 2012, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. 96 points Wine Spectator, 2 6-packs available, $119.98 +tax 

Until next time, Happy Drinking!! 

Pinot Trio

Today I’ve got three wildly different but outstanding expressions of Pinot Noir that you’re going want to build a Pinot Fort out of. Two of them have amazing ratings and one doesn’t submit but is just as awesome (and has developed a cult following). We begin: 

Blank Canvas Upton Downs Pinot Noir 2017, Marlborough, New Zealand. Such a serious, savoury Pinot, considering the price and place. The Upton Downs vineyard sits on the top of a white cliff overlooking the Awatere river, where the limestone underneath challenges the vines to produce concentrated, clearly frustrated berries, given their disposition on the nose. There is bright fruit (cherries primarily with apple and strawberry) as well as sweet floral notes (lavender and rose), but they take a backseat to the inexplicably herbaceous, spicy vibe that shows you different green herbs every 20 minutes. Quite entertaining to watch this evolve in the glass, it’s like checking the Magic 8 Ball for random messages every so often. There’s enough fruit weight on palate to balance the savoury intro, however, before building up to a surprisingly structured finish. I don’t mean to affect such astonishment but forty-dollar Marlborough Pinot doesn’t do this. Given the architecture I’d say you have a decade’s worth of cellar life, maybe more. A remarkable Pinot despite – or rather because of – the furrowed brow. 95 points Vinous, 95 points Bob Campbell, 24 bottles available, $42.98 +tax 

Zena Crown “Slope” Pinot Noir 2017, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette, Oregon. Long a top cru of wineries like Beaux Freres, Penner Ash and Soter, the Zena Crown vineyard started bottling their own juice a couple years ago, causing everyone to go nuts. Since the site takes the brunt of the cool Pacific wind coming through the Van Duzer Corridor, phenolic ripeness happens slowly, and the vineyard is usually one of the last to be harvested, giving deep, elegant and balanced fruit. The “Slope” plot is the sunniest, most south-facing area, and the muscular Pinot from there can handle a good amount of new French oak (60%, quite high for Oregon), but lest you fret that Slope slides too far south, think again: there is vibrant cherry, rhubarb, apple and green tea on the nose before swirling into an energetic tension between bitter chocolate and fat mushrooms and a lifted, graceful finish – this is real, legit Oregon, only more so. The buzz has been substantial, enflamed by the fact that they only make about 500 6-packs, and further enflamed by the fact that I took all four cases that came into BC (laughs sinisterly, twirls moustache). Let the games begin. 95 points Wine Spectator, 4 6-packs available, $107.98 +tax 

The Hermit Ram “Zealandia” Pinot Noir 2019, North Canterbury, New Zealand. Even though this purple sparkplug is never submitted for ratings, it is actually the most popular Pinot on this list, even after a dramatic left turn in winemaking and style (winemaker/druid Theo Coles switched from whole-cluster to destemmed and everyone just went with it). Made with minimal intervention or sulphur (and a low 12.5% abv) and aged only in amphora (!!!), Zealandia resides in the spirit realm of “natural wines”, showcasing racy acidity on the nose amongst the sour cherry, violet, cranberry, and saline notes, but displays none of the funk or freak of the more feral examples of the category. On palate the acid is edgy but not sharp, almost citric in nature, and finishes fresh, clean, and brighter than a math whiz. I love this “Burgundy + X-ray” style (similar to a light Mercurey) but it won’t appeal to everyone, although Vancouver restaurants have snapped up most of this because it’s a nearly perfect food wine. These 3 cases are all I’ll have for two years: the underreported 2020 Canterbury vintage was ravaged by hail and frost and only 90 litres were produced; since this winery is seldom sold outside of New Zealand we’ll not see it again soon. 3 cases available, $44.98 +tax 

Until next time, Happy Drinking! 

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