Everything Wine blog

Staff Favourites - Antinori Tignanello

Asking a wine expert to choose their favourite wine is like asking a parent to choose their favourite child; in that, it’s probably (hopefully) a difficult choice… but we made Rob Frias, the manager of our Langford store, make the decision anyway, for the sake of our readers of course. So how do you narrow down the immense world of wine to one single bottle? In this case, it was a matter of always remembering your first.

When Rob launched his career at Everything Wine in 2007, he explains that “I didn’t have any formal wine knowledge, but my Portuguese descent meant that wine was always a part of mealtime. And from there, my passion was born.” he says. Upon being thrown into the Italian section of the store, he began learning the history of Super Tuscans, and naturally “had to dive into the Antinori Tignanello,” which he reveals, was “the first high end wine I ever purchased.” Hailing from the heart of the Chianti Classico region, the Tignanello was the first Sangiovese to be aged in barriques (or barrels) and was the first contemporary wine blended with untraditional varieties including Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.

Earning 93-points from Wine Spectator, this “tig” as it is affectionately nicknamed, is full-bodied with rich notes of blackcurrant, cherry, leather, and earth on the palate. It is described by Wine Spectator as “firm and fleshy, with fine balance and a long, expressive finish.” Rob, on the other hand, decides to keep his tasting notes short and sweet “One Word: Intense” he describes it, “just the way I like it.” While a wine of this caliber deserves a Prime grade steak seared to perfection, Rob’s favourite pairings for it include: “weekends, jobs well done, celebrations, and family.”

The most fascinating aspect of the Tignanello, however, is its long history spanning six centuries and 26 generations of the Antinori family. Winemaking has been paramount for the family since 1385, when Giovanni di Piero Antinori joined the Florentine Winemaker’s Guild and linked the name to excellence in winemaking. Centuries later, they are committed to the deep-rooted family values which influence their acclaimed winemaking process.

“This wine over delivers”, Rob says, “my customers love getting a taste of Old World wine that is still very approachable on the palate.” So go ahead, indulge and let us know what you think!

From a whisper to a yell: How Whispering Angel changed the Rosé game

As of late, rosé has become synonymous with summer – not only as the drink of choice but as a lifestyle, just search #roséallday and you’ll see what I mean… What was once only associated with upper class holiday-goers and mostly confined to France, has skyrocketed in popularity. In 2018, blush coloured wines sales at Everything Wine grew in the double digits vs 2017 and is even more popular with millennials than avocado toast. Winemaker Sacha Lichine’s Whispering Angel is widely credited with launching this international rosé trend, but how did the wine from Château D’Esclans rise to this level of stardom?

Long before rosé themed apparel, pool floats, and gummy bears became the norm, Château D’Esclans began promoting Whispering Angel (the wine that Mr. Lichine touted as “probably the greatest wine brand to come out of France in the last 20 years”) in the United States. In the early 2000’s, there was hardly a market at all for rosé and it was reserved for those who ventured to Provence and returned home with it, but Whispering Angel slowly began infiltrating Nantucket summer homes and quickly made its way to Los Angeles hotspots. Whispering Angel did not have an aggressive advertising plan but rather, planted its pink-lacquered toes in places where millennials flocked. Eventually, the rosy-hued wine that started as a whisper became a worldwide phenomenon.

We get it, trend-seekers have fallen in love with the $40 wine, but is Whispering Angel actually that good? Wine critics seem to be eating (or drinking) it up just as much as the average wine fan with James Suckling declaring it “always delicious.” And The Times assuring that “It’s hard to find a fault with this sensational rosé.” The mighty Whispering Angel is extra dry, medium-bodied and tangy with refined notes of grapefruit, peach, and minerality. It’s best enjoyed with light shellfish dishes or salmon, and preferably while overlooking the Mediterranean.

Before it’s devoured, the Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah grapes – among the others that make up Whispering Angel spend their days basking under Provence’s sunlight prior to being harvested and sorted by hand. Both the free run juice and pressed juice are vinified in stainless steel tanks where they evolve into the rosé that has the wine industry, and the rest of the world, seeing pink.

The Whispering Angel rosé is anything but quiet, try it for yourself to see what all the fuss is about. But make sure it’s chilled, or you aren’t doing rosé right.

Summer Saga V - The Cult Of White Burgundy

Our Summer Saga continues with some white Burgundies that I’m rather astonishingly able to offer. If you know these houses and how the wine biz works in this province, you’ll know that it’s highly improbable that I got my hands on these in the first place. These are micro-produced, cult labels that inspire mania amongst Burgundy-heads for various reasons – be it an established legend or a rising star on the vanguard of Burgundy production (or both), collectors around the world mud-wrestle each other to get their hands on these proto-unicorns. We begin with the elephant in the room:

Maison Leroy. Yes, I got some, which logically means that there must also be a Santa Claus. Leroy hasn’t shipped to Vancouver in 5 years and we don’t know when we’ll see it next: the Madame herself chooses which cities will be awarded tiny allocations of her small production each year. You may remember Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy as the wizened, ethereal She-Druid from Netflix’s A Year In Burgundy, where she was presented as the ancient, let-us-see-what-wines-we-can-make-with-songs counterpoint to Christophe Perrot-Minot’s clinical, lab-based approach, but I feel that the documentary undersold her killer instincts for quality and business acumen – she is the largest shareholder of DRC (Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, which she co-manages with Aubert de Villaine, more on him below) and Leroy is second only to DRC in quality and price. This is literally some of the most famous Chardonnay on earth.
I have:

Maison Leroy Meursault 2001, 3 bottles available, $1,039.98
Maison Leroy Montagny 2015, 12 bottles available, $229.98
Maison Leroy Bourgogne Blanc 2016, 6 bottles available, $161.98

Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey. The Spielberg of White Burgundy. Pierre-Yves and his wife Caroline (whose own label, also made with Pierre-Yves, is similarly burning up the charts) are the scions of two prominent Burgundy lineages, but when they joined forces just over a decade ago their modern approach to cellar management rocketed them to the top of wine lists around the world. PYCM is not afraid of barrels, but his avoidance of batonnage keeps the textures bright, like lightning in a bottle. He is Stalin in the vineyards and Col. Klink in the cellar, using higher pressure pressing and eschewing fining and filtration. These wines are as hard to get and keep as Leroy, but the prices are a tad kinder. I have:

PYCM Pernand-Vergelesses “Les Belles Filles” 2017, 12 bottles available, $79.98
PYCM Bourgogne Blanc 2017, 12 bottles available, $49.98

Domaine de Villaine. Can a white grape be a black sheep? It’s probably best to ask Aligoté, the floral, silky “Third Grape” of Burgundy that accounts for less than 10% of all white wine production there. Like an orphan in a Dickens novel, Aligoté lives in the cracks, planted only in the lesser areas where Queen Chardonnay deigns not to dwell….except… The appellation where it does get love and respect is Bouzeron, the AOC where Aligoté is not only allowed but required. Aubert de Villaine, the other half of DRC, lives in Bouzeron and grows Aligoté Doré there (rather than the ubiquitous workhorse Aligoté Vert), and it was he who pushed for the creation of the Bouzeron AOC 20 years ago. His Bouzeron is a fleshy, fat, ageable White Beast showing white flowers, stone fruits and a mineral, almost saline finish. Delicious now but Aubert recommends a further 10 years nap.
Domaine de Villaine Bouzeron 2017, 6 bottles available, $77.98

Bouard-Bonnefoy. I know I’ve dropped a lot of Awesome-Bombs already, but I’m truthfully most excited about offering these 6 1er Cru Chassagnes because 1) I know this is a winery that we’ll be talking a LOT about over the next decade, and 2) this as close as we can come to isolating the elusive Terroir Molecule. The house is the marriage of Chassagne-Montrachet scion Carine Bonnefoy and her husband Fabrice Bouard, a former bodyguard of French officials. They press grapes with a hand crank, they cork and label by hand on a table in the back, the grapes are farmed without pesticides or herbicides and fermented with indigenous yeasts. The only way you can tell what century you’re in is by the cellar’s electric light, this is wine from the age of dragons.

And this offering is 6 Chardonnays from the same village, same vintage and same producer, all vinified the same way. The only variable is vineyard location, and the differences are profound. If you ever doubted the importance of place in fine wine, you need to experience these wines next to each other to see how soil composition, altitude and climate – even in incremental shifts – can affect so thoroughly what happens in your glass. I have 6 Premier Crus:

Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montachet 1er Cru ‘en Remilly’ 2017, 8 bottles available, $133.98 Uphill with moderate slope, facing south, 280-290 meters altitude with shallow stony clay soil and limestone bedrock. Lots of pear, fresh zest and spice.

Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘La Maltroie’ 2017, 5 bottles available, $133.98 Located in the heart of the village, ‘Maltroie’ offers a perfect snapshot of Chassagne’s savory, delicate character: candied lemons, roasted almonds, herbs.

Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Chevenottes' 2017, 10 bottles available, $133.98 A smooth, fruity Burgundian Chardonnay. The vineyard ‘Chenevottes’ has deeper, more fertile soils, which results in a wine with a more honeyed concentration and silky texture.

Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Macherelles' 2017, 8 bottles available, $133.98 A refined Chassagne, one that combines a lacy delicacy with layered, concentrated flavors. ‘Macherelles’ is a wonderful example of Chassagne white Burgundy, poetic and profound.

Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Les Vergers’ 2017, 11 bottles available, $133.98 Located near Saint-Aubin and vines are planted on a very stony hillside with an easterly exposure. Aromas of exotic fruits, vanilla and toasted nuts

Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Morgeot Les Petit Clos' 2017, 6 bottles available, $133.98 ‘Petit Clos’ is a small, walled plot within the larger ‘Morgeot’ vineyard, and one of its finer terroirs. An unusual vein of blue clay here gives fruit from 60-year-old Chardonnay vines a plush, savory texture.

The Saga continues next week, until then, Happy Drinking!!

Summer Saga IV - Best Brunellos Ever

Ok, I’ve been building this offering for a while, brick by awesome brick, and now it’s time to show my cards: Brilliant Brunello di Montalcino from several stellar vintages (yes, even 2014, don’t believe everything you read). There are sparse quantities of each wine, so don’t delay if you want some. We begin:

Renieri 2013. A cousin of the Chianti Classico rock star Castello di Bossi, Renieri lies on the warm southern slopes of Montalcino, hugging the appellation’s bottom edge. Like Bossi, concentration is their muse, and the Bacci family practices a severe green harvest (like, Thanos severe) and a month-long maceration towards that end, followed by consecutive stays in both modern Barriques and traditional Botti. Renieri is deep and serious but not angry, the black cherry and plum core radiates warm fuzzies throughout the wine, punctuated by spicy ground tobacco and tar. The tannins are prominent but balanced, you can drink this now without regret but Peak Awesome is probably 3 years away. 98 points James Suckling, 3 wooden 6-packs available, $85.99 +tax

Lisini 2013. Vinous’ Antonio Galloni calls Lisini “one of Montalcino’s historic, reference-point estates”, and it’s easy to see why. The Lisinis have owned Montalcino vineyards since the 1500s, and planted their modern-day vines in the 1930s, back when the outside world probably thought “Brunello” was some kind of ice cream. Indeed, Lisini makes wine as if the last 60 years never happened, fermenting in cement and aging only in large, neutral Slovenian Botti. The reduced oak influence lets the mineral and herbaceous notes shine, and this Lisini nose is bursting with floral orange peel, mint and iron, alongside the expected red cherries. A shad ornery on the finish, needs a 4-year nap to dull its claws, but undoubtedly a future classic -the benchmark holds. 96 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $99.99 +tax

Il Poggione 2013. The world never seems more right than when one of your favourite bands drops yet another great album. Since the late 19th century when Lavinio Franceschi bought one of the first estates in the area (they are one of the Original Three), the Franceschi family has been pushing the envelope of quality and innovation in Montalcino, eventually becoming one of the most influential wineries in Tuscany. Their electric 2013 Brunello certainly doesn’t coast on its reputation, either. Boasting ripe berries and crushed rocks stirred with licorice bark, Poggione drinks robustly now, and will for a further 10 years. There are pronounced tannins – Poggione always has these – so throw a steak on the grill and be merry. 96 points Robert Parker, 96 points Jeb Dunnuck, 3 6-packs available, $87.88 +tax

Sesti “Phenomena” Riserva 2012. Rich, lush Southern Brunello at its finest, made in sub-atomic quantities. Although the Argiano winery (more on them further down) is named after the medieval Castello di Argiano, the actual Castello is next door on the largely wooded estate owned by Giuseppe Sesti, a historian of astronomy and Opera festival director who came to winemaking by studying the effects of the moon cycles on vineyards (this sounds like the set up for a Sci-Fi movie where Giuseppe – played by Nicholas Cage -  finds an alien capsule under a vine, but I swear it’s legit). Today, Sesti makes wines so organically, you’d think they were a family of bears – the requirements of most organic certifiers are actually too lax for him. I visited the estate last year and that’s where I found this alien capsule called Phenomena, a Riserva DOCG with the weight and persistence of a Saint-Emillon. Giuseppe designs the labels every year (because of course he does) to reflect an astronomical event that occurred during the year of harvest – in 2012 it was a solar eclipse – and it drinks amazeballs. All manner of baking spices surround dried fruits and nuts, with crushed red fruits and star anise on the long, warm finish. Tastes like Barry White sounds. 94 points Decanter, 6 bottles available, $165.98

Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona 2013. Take it from me, once you learn how to pronounce this winery’s name, it’ll be all you want to do all day. Once a 17th century palace, the estate played owner-plinko until it fell into the hands of the Bianchini family, who in the 80s modernized and sanitized the production, and they’ve found themselves on various Top 100 lists off and on ever since. This 2013 finds red fruits multiplying like Mogwai throwing each other into water, even more than other vintages the fruit drives this bus, contained by soft, refined tannins and a sense of existential comfort. I’d like the acid to come down a decibel or two – 2021 is likely the optimal launch date – but otherwise there are nothing but yummies all the way down. 96 points Wine Spectator, 12 bottles available, $106.98 +tax

Valdicava 2012. Farming in the northern Montosoli cru, Vincenzo Abbruzzese continues to produce time capsules that will serve to educate our future Robot Overlords about how awesome we were. The nose is fantastically aromatized with herbs, spices and sweet oak, but it drinks like an electric fence and will for the next 8 years. If you’re willing to put the time in, this 2012 will more than reward you on the other side – I still have some 2005* and it is simply divine – but as popular and cult-like as it is, Valdicava won’t drink at its price point for another 8 years. I was only allocated 6 bottles, hence the caveat. 96 points James Suckling, 6 bottles available, $193.98 +tax

Biondi Santi Annata 2012. The Granddaddy of them all, Biondi Santi is, simply put, the reason that we care about Montalcino as a Fine Wine terroir, and not San Gandolphini just down the road**. Anyone who has attended my Brunello class knows how Franco Biondi Santi and his forebearers – inspired by Bordeaux -  elevated both the quality and visibility of Brunello over a century and a half – if it weren’t for them, Montalcino would be just another hill with a town on top that happened to grow wine. Like the Valdicava above, Biondi Santi is an investment, think of it as an Italian First Growth (because it basically is), something that will gain fame and value over time, but I wouldn’t advise drinking it now if you’d like to keep all of your teeth. Built for hibernation, a young Biondi Santi doesn’t show much of anything on the nose – the true character will be the tertiary notes that only time can bring – and the structure obscures all else. On the other side of history, however, it’s a marvel of elegance and longevity, and one of the world’s truly essential wines. 96 points Wine Enthusiast, 95 points James Suckling, 6 bottles available, $294.98 +tax

Caparzo 2014. Firstly, a few notes on the 2014 vintage, because wineries will tell you that everything was great-why-are-you-asking and wine writers act like everyone died. I asked everybody I met when I went to Tuscany last year: What happened, put simply, is rain. Not even a ton of rain, but it happened when you wouldn’t want it to, and it happened enough that humidity was a problem. Those who practiced proper canopy management and green harvest made elegant, ageable wines with a touch less pigment than other vintages. Those who did not… didn’t produce a 2014 Brunello. That’s it. Remember: Good People Make Good Wine. Vintage characteristics can vary, perhaps in and out of our preferences, but skilled winemakers don’t make disasters (or put their name on them, at least). Speaking of good people: Caparzo. More traditionally hued than their neighbour Altesino (they share an owner), Caparzo was perfectly suited to the lighter 2014 vintage – dried herbs and cherry with plums and a hint of balsamic. Medium bodied, elegant and delicious, evocative of a red Burgundy, just with different sniffs. 92 points Wine Spectator, 2 6-packs available, $73.98 +tax

Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta 2014. The locals all screamed Carpetbagger when Barbaresco’s most famous son bought the historic Santa Restituta estate near Montalcino, but Angelo Gaja respected the land, its soils and its traditions so thoroughly that now they just scream because he doesn’t make enough wine. There’s even less for this vintage, alas. Usually a multi-tiered project, Angelo found the 2014 vintage challenging, so he folded all of the fruit from the Rennina and Sugarille vineyards (priced more like Biondi Santi) into this entry-level Brunello. Kaboom. Tightly wound like all his wines, but with gobs of red and dark fruits and licorice and fresh basil. Definitely a step up from other vintages, intensity-wise. Not yet rated, 3 6-packs available, $123.98 +tax

Castiglion del Bosco “Millecento” Riserva 2010. The flagship of the Ferragamo (yep, that Ferragamo) family’s venture in the densely wooded, sparsely planted northwest quadrant of the appellation, and the omg-window on this sublime 2010 just opened up. Sourced from the estate’s oldest vines, Millecento spends so much time (3 years) in French Oak, they had to give each bottle its own wooden box so that the wine didn’t feel scared out in the world. Full of dark berries and little sticks of dynamite, Millecento is still a robust affair, but time has turned the massive fruit a little brown around the edges,, with some welcome leather notes joining the party. 96 points James Suckling, 94+ points Robert Parker, 3 bottles (in individual wooden boxes) available, $262.98 +tax

Argiano Solengo 2016 Toscana I.G.T. Okay, I’m totally cheating here because this isn’t a Brunello, it’s a Supertuscan, but since Argiano is a Brunello house (as noted, right next to Sesti), and since Solengo is so awesome, I thought I’d sneak it in. I sold out of the 2015 vintage only a couple of weeks ago, and this 2016 is proving to be just as epic. Cabernet Sauvignon driven with Petit Verdot and Merlot in sidecar, blackberries, tobacco and spice abound, the body is a bit fatter than the 2015 but we’re still a couple years away from go-time, here. I do not expect to have this for very long. 99 points James Suckling, 3 6-packs available, $106.98 +tax

Until next time, Happy Drinking!

*as noted, I do have a bit of 2005 Valdicava ($173.98) left, as well as some 2006 Terralsole Riserva ($121.98) for those wishing to warp past those levels where you wait for your Brunello to age.

**There is no town called San Gandolphini, I made it up, but that’s what Montalcino would have sounded like to us if it weren’t for Biondi Santi. #nailedit 

Unsinkable Drinkables

Let’s take a break this week from the Summer Saga of collectibles and do some drinking. If you’re like me you’ve got a collection of Untouchables (wines that won’t be ready for years) or Poundables (cheap wines to divert your thirsty friends and family away from the Untouchables), but very few Drinkables, those premium wines that drink deliciously now, but don’t cost so much that you feel the need to vet the folks you’re drinking with. I can help with this. We begin:

Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte du Puy 2017, Beaujolais, France. An absolutely ridiculous value from a region already famous for ridiculous value. Cru Beaujolais remains the “smart person’s Burgundy” because the quality, methods and ethics are identical, only the grape variety and prices diverge. The Côte du Puy cru in the village of Morgon, with its granite-laced soils, is known for growing super bold Gamay with firm structure, and Jean-Marc and Christine Burgaud – winemakers since 1989 – basically just crush and bottle it after a short stay in concrete. Farmed by hand and horse without chemicals, one could reasonably expect this brilliant Morgon to smell like a barn, but instead it’s like vaping a corsage, gorgeous jasmine and violets surround plums and crushed strawberries, electrified by currants, orange peel and hints of quinine. The body matches the tannins, both are considerable. This is Patio Tonic, hungry and ready for anything. Pounce. 96+ points James Suckling, 4 cases available, $44.98 +tax

Sartori Marani 2016, Veronese Bianco, Italy. Meet the unofficial White Amarone. The generally exuberant Andrea Sartori speaks in hushed tones when he talks about his grandmother, the Matriarch of the Sartori family and the inspiration for this uniquely bold white wine. 100% Garganega grapes harvested in the Soave DOC, left to dry for a month and a half before crush, then given a half-year’s on-lees aging before a partial oak treatment, Marani – like the woman who inspired it – shows a delicate exterior and a strong, immovable interior. Stone fruits, honey and crushed rocks on the nose, a firm core and a finish that persists well into the next sip. I can’t find any points for this but I don’t care, you should grab some Marani before I drink it all. 3 6-packs left, $39.98 +tax

Alvarez de Toledo Mencia 2015, Bierzo, Spain. I don’t feature it often, so for those readers saying “Bierzo Whatzo?” I offer a brief primer: Bierzo is a dry, mountainous, slate-speckled region just northwest of Portugal that makes firm, bold wines out of Mencia, a medium-structured grape comparable to Cabernet Franc. Many cheap Bierzos can be like smelling dirt whilst chewing bark, but the higher-altitude, old-vine wines like this gem from Alvarez de Toledo (average vine age: 60 years), are lush, generous affairs. Blueberries and blackberries with grilled herbs and gravel, a rather round centre in context, good acidity on the landing, the tannins are formidable but well-balanced – this is modern Bierzo, into making new friends. Great for the steak off your grill or the ensuing conversations. 97+ points Decanter, 3 cases available, $39.98 +tax

Terrunyo Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Pirque, Maipo, Chile. Calling Terrunyo the “Baby Don Melchor” isn’t really accurate because it’s from a different vineyard at a different altitude (on the bank of the Maipo river), but it is made by the same team (Concha Y Toro) in the same cellars as that Icon of Chile, so it’s maybe a cousin? Whatever the nickname, this is brilliant Cab, grown in the elite Las Terrazas block of their vineyard in the Pirque appellation, brimming with freshly sharpened pencil and cassis, blackberry and leather, followed by cocoa nibs and walnuts on the long finish. This should age classically, but it’s rather scrumptious now, so don’t. 93 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $54.98 +tax

Lar de Paula Reserva 2012 Rioja, Spain. A firecracker modern Tempranillo from Rioja Alavesa, the lower altitude, hotter sub-region responsible for many of Rioja’s most innovative wines (it’s also responsible for making wines that drink like Dr. Pepper For Grown Ups, but I would never do that to you, this one is awesome). When the oenologist Meruelo family transplanted from Ribera del Duero to Rioja 40 years ago, their dream was to make wine from ancient vines, and after founding Herdad de Baroja in the 80s, Fernando Meruelo began slowly acquiring old vineyards in the Alavesa, which were cheaper at the time. Destiny led the Meruelos to start Lar de Paula a few years ago, and this Reserva is built from nearly century-old Tempranillo vines, spending 2 years in French and American oak (and the rest in bottle). Tobacco, dark fruits and cedar on the nose, a full, rich palate and hot finish. Unlike many Riojas this doesn’t need food, but it wouldn’t say no… 94+ points James Suckling, 4 6-packs available, $44.99 +tax

I’ll be pouring the Jean-Marc Burgaud, the Sartori Marani, and the Terrunyo this Saturday in the River District Vintage Room at 3pm, should you need a tad more convincing (and if indeed I have some left).

Until next time, Happy Drinking!!

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