Similkameen Sipping

It starts a few clicks past Hedley, going east, that point where Highway 3 stops being a tilt-a-whirl of hairpin turns and Mad Max passing lanes, and becomes a lithe, meditative ribbon of road. The soft lifts and gentle falls of the rounded inclines and declines seem to meet your equilibrium instead of scrambling it (see: Anarchist Mountain), it’s more like gliding than driving. It’s very hard not to speed here, and policemen know this. The river has been beside us the whole time but for me, this is where the Similkameen Valley begins.

It begins for wine around here too, although most vineyards lie further east. The valley widens to fit famers fields and orchards – the monoculture of other regions doesn’t exist in this quilt of crops – and the sun has more to work with. It gets hella hot here in summer, but nighttime brings kind winds and the valley – without a moderating body like, say, a big lake – cools down dramatically. Grapes love this. Big diurnal swings keep vital acidity and freshness, some varieties would cook here if it didn’t happen. Was that a cop car I just sped by? Nope, all good.

The fruit stands west of Keremeos have made the local sign-maker wealthy, I reckon. They all clearly have the best fruit. I’ll hit them on the way back, I’ll pick the one that says “Ice Cream” the biggest. I have learned not to speed here. Through the town, up the bench, eastwards.

The hills get closer on the north side, I can see those alluvial fans, the triangles of sand, gravel, sediment and silt that point up the slopes. They’re so raw. They look like oopsies but they’ve been here longer than people have, built by water and time. Glaciers had a great party here back in the day, they blasted through the valley like The Who through a Holiday Inn, but they brought calcium and unique soils, the wines here are great because of them.

Between Keremeos and Cawston the air thickens and so do the vineyards. Looking south explains the cluster: there’s a gap in the south ridge of mountains as the river enters the US, so vineyards climbing up the north side get around 1hr more sun per day than the Okanagan does in autumn (when it counts). That may not sound like a big deal if you’re not a grape: the Similkameen can consistently ripen late ripening varieties better that anywhere else in BC – if you’ve had one of those BC Cabernet Sauvignons that smelled like a Greek Salad, it didn’t come from here.

But what does come from here? Writ large, organic grapes: this is the "Organic Farming Capital of Canada" (40% of all vineyards are certified). Ripe red grapes, for sure, although more elegant whites can grow nicely here. Is there one unifying identifier that screams “Similkameen”? Not yet, but no BC region has that yet, it takes longer to emerge. There are really good wines here, though, undeniably so. Shall we?

First is Clos du Soleil. There’s no actual Clos (a stone fence/enclosure), it’s just a couple of barns, but I’m undeterred because a) aesthetics have zero bearing on quality, and b) they’re, like, really good barns. A handsome White Bordeaux-style wine called Capella 2021 opens, three parts Sauvignon Blanc, one part Semillon. Some Semillon is from Oliver but this is mostly Keremeos. Quite ripe Sauv Blanc for BC, a trace of grass on the nose and the citrus is more grapefruit than lemon. Faint cheese rind and banana Nerds. Layered and substantial. The Semillon shows as beeswax on the nose and grip on the finish, the grapes are getting along famously. This has gas in the tank to age a decade, but life is short and Capella is fab.

The Clos du Soleil Estate Reserve 2013 is an unexpected treat, most top-end library releases cost way more than this, and this 2013 has both feet planted firmly in The Zone. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with the usual allies rounding off the difference. A great example of what this valley can do with that grape. Cassis and black pepper, gravel and lavender. Age has softened the frame but not the nose. Brilliant.

Cabernet Franc gets its chance to drive the bus in the 2016 Meritage from Howard Soon’s Vanessa Vineyards. Howard won the Order Of Canada for his innovative work at Sandhill, and he’s not coasting here. Rocks are employed between the vines to catch heat, radiating it to the vines during the cold night, just like in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. A black pepper burst on the nose gives way to red fruits. The blend of French and American oak brings a cup of coffee to the Plum Party, with the smaller portions of Cab Sauv and Merlot contributing black and red currants.

Orofino is always an undervalued treat, and the entry Red Bridge Red, basically a Meritage with bits of Syrah and savage Zinfandel, defines their vibe perfectly. John and Virginia Webber, both imports from Saskatchewan, have been quietly brewing beauty in small batches for two decades; I’m pretty sure that their Petit Verdot was the wine that made me Google Similkameen all those years ago. Red Bridge shows cherry, sage, and mocha. It wants us to be happy.

The Mt. Boucherie winery is across the lake from Kelowna (on Mt. Boucherie, as it turns out) but they have been busy down here for a while, bottling under their own label as well as Rust Wine Co. and Original Vines. These folks are some of the most experimentally ambitious vintners I have come across, testing the perimeter fence like raptors, not afraid to break weird. Witness these 3 different harvests from Cawston’s Lazy River Vineyard:

The Mt. Boucherie Blaufrankish 2021 is Encino Man, plucking an ancient Austrian grape from a much different world and dropping it into our modern market. Blaufrankish is what happens when Syrah and Pinot Noir use a Ouija board, and Boucherie doesn’t round off the freaky bits: white pepper, crushed raw blueberries with Indian spice and forest floor. Medium bodied and characterful, a masterful food wine that gives many Austrian iterations a good arm wrestle.

When I picture the Rust Wine Co., it’s always tinged with sepia because the oxidative, Old-School-New-World Vibe throws back to the smooth styles of Retro-California. The Merlot 2019 knows you’ve had a long day. We don’t have to talk about work, let’s just dance. French, American and Hungarian oak temper the chalky minerality, and chocolate blackberries tossed in Port lead the nose. Remember Lowney’s cherry blossoms? So does Rust. Nutmeg, cinnamon and Turkish coffee haunt the (very) spicy finish.

The Original Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 comes from the schist-iest granite soils on Lazy River. This site can fully ripen Cab, no small feat in our cold climate, since the grape takes a month longer to get to the sweet spot. Fresh without turning green. Surprisingly spicy. Aged in Barriques, this is a densely structured Cabernet Sauvignon, acting in a very Cab-like manner (not a given, in our province), and evokes the build and body of Red Mountain to the South. Winery advises cellaring but this is charming right now.

Heading back towards Keremeos on the Upper Bench Road, the Corcelettes Estate beckons, particularly their rich, balanced take on Cabernet Franc. Like its cousin, Franc can break out in dandelions if you can’t ripen it properly, but this 2020 Estate Franc is suave potion indeed. The Pleasure Button is pushed as frequently as the Flap button in Joust. Black Pepper and unsweetened chocolate open, with layers of red currant and red Nibs following through to the landing. Love the shape of this. Powerful and intense while remaining light on its feet.

Now for the fruit stands.


Join us on Sat Feb 25 from 2-6pm to sample some of these delectable delights from BC's Similkameen Valley. 

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Eco Conscious Wines

We’ve all heard the terms used loosely and sometimes interchangeably but what do these certifications on our wine bottles actually mean? Over the last couple decades as people have become more and more conscious about what they consume and spend their money on, everything from bananas to coffee and the clothing we wear have eco-friendly options. The wine industry too has gone a bit more “green”.

Though there is some overlap and labels can add to the confusion, think of each category with these principles:

Organic: Purity of product using non-synthesized ingredients.

Biodynamic: Holistic agricultural health.

Sustainable: Mitigation and reduction of wastefulness.

Vegan: Made without the use of animal biproducts.

Shop eco-conscious wines here.

Deeper Look:

Organic: Wines are made with organically grown grapes without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and chemicals. All additives (fining agents, yeast etc) are organic, no GMOs are allowed, and sulfite addition is limited.

Biodynamic: Like organic wines, biodynamic wines contain no chemicals or additives throughout the winemaking process. In biodynamic wines though, the winemaker must take the entire ecosystem into consideration – vineyards must maintain exceptional soil health and vintners must time their planting schedules with lunar cycles to ensure agricultural health.

Sustainable: Sustainable wines aim to protect the environment, support social responsibility, maintain economic feasibility, and produce high quality wines by preserving biodiversity on vineyards to ensure soil health, implementing recycling measures that conserve water as grapes are growing, and utilizing renewable energy technology like solar.

Vegan: Vegan wines are made without the use of animal derived ingredients like milk protein, egg whites, and fish bladder used as fining agents which remove tiny particles of sediment in a wine. It should be said that when used, these fining agents impart no flavour to the wines at all. With vegan friendly wines, winemakers will either leave the particles to sink naturally or use non-animal fining products.

Let’s be honest, deciphering wine labels can already be a daunting task and with the addition of new buzzwords and badges, you might be left with more questions than answers but we hope these descriptions will help you decide what’s important to you when making your wine selections.

Shop eco-conscious wines here.

In Search of the Perfect Champagne

Are you looking for a way to add some sparkle and fun to your life? Treat yourself by popping open a bottle of champagne! This bubbly beverage has been enjoyed as an indulgence since before the French Revolution, but it isn't just reserved for special occasions: with its light tasting notes and effervescent quality, champagne is suitable for any type of celebration. Whether you’re in the mood to paint the town red or curl up with friends at home, enjoy adding that extra touch of class – even if it's just cracking open a bottle when Tuesday night rolls around. Feel free to get creative, mix it up with cocktails, try different types like brut or rose - there are endless possibilities so let your taste buds be your guide!

The Champagne region in France is known for its sparkling wine. In fact, they’ve done such a great job at marketing themselves as the best sparkling wine in the world, it is common to refer to any sparkling wine as ‘Champagne’. While many regions around the world aspire to produce wines like they do in this famous region, only wines from the delimited area of Champagne can be labelled as such.

We carry over 100 unique Champagnes from over 60 producers. This is probably overwhelmingly for anybody new to the region, so here are a few tips to find that perfect bottle.

Fun Facts about Champagne:

  • The region is located east of Paris (about an hour by TGV train to Reims)
  • The wines must be made in the traditional method
  • The traditional method winemaking technique imparts notes of brioche and toast flavours into the wines
  • The most common permitted grape varieties are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier
  • The wines from this region have a signature crisp acidity
  • The region is dominated by large wineries and brands. These large producers are referred to as Champagne Houses (Veuve Cliquot, Moet & Chandon, Piper Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Taittinger, Louis Roederer, and more)
  • Wines can be made from a single harvest, labelled as a Vintage Champagne or made from a blend of many vintages, often called non-vintage, to create a house style that is consistent from year to year

Now, how to navigate the options…

  • First step is determining if you want a Vintage or Non-Vintage style. Price may be a factor, as the Vintage Champagnes are often more expensive, but if it’s not, the flavours may determine your preference. Are you looking for fresh lemon and apple flavours? Go for a Non-Vintage. Do you prefer flavours of baked apple, ginger and hazelnut? You may prefer the complexity that comes from the longer aging in a Vintage Champagne.
  • Next consideration would be sweetness. The final step in the wine making process is adding a dosage, which changes the final sweetness in the wine. Majority of Champagnes and many sparkling wines are labeled with Brut, which has 0-12 grams per litre (g/l) of residual sugar (rs). The wines of Champagne have such high acidity that even this small amount of sweetness can make the wine taste dry. If you want something drier and are pairing it with a meal, consider Extra Brut (0-6 g/l rs) or do you have a sweet tooth? Try a Demi-Sec (32-50 g/l rs).
  • Ranked from driest to sweetest, sparkling wines are classified as Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut (majority), Extra Dry (did you know most Proseccos are Extra Dry? Confusing, right?), Dry, Demi-Sec and Doux.

Next time you’re feeling fancy and want to spend a little more on a bottle of bubbly, think about the style of Champagne you want before selecting a label. Blanc de Blancs (made from 100% Chardonnay) will give you a crisper, brighter wine while Blanc de Noirs (made from red grapes) tend to be full-bodied with deeper fruit flavours. Most non-vintage wines are blends of all three types of grapes – so if you can’t decide, go for one of those! Maybe you want intense strawberry flavours in your wine. If so, try a rosé Champagne. Experiment and find what type of Champagne suits your palate best.

And if you are in front of the massive Champagne section at Everything Wine, feeling overwhelmed and unsure, just ask one of us what we're drinking. We love talking about wine almost as much as we love drinking it, and we'll be more than happy to share our favourites with you. So pop open a bottle of bubbly and toast to a great night! Me you ask? Well, I will be raising a glass with Champagne Castelnau Vintage 2006.


California Dreamin'

With such a diverse terroir, California is home to more than 100 grape varieties and over 24,000 hectares of vineyards spanning the state! Think decadent Cabernet Sauvignon, sophisticated Pinot Noir, luscious Chardonnay, and so much more from both legendary estates and small-batch establishments whose wines are highly sought by California wine enthusiasts.

From Sonoma County to Napa Valley, California has earned a reputation for producing quality wines that are always popular around the dinner table. Luckily, we don’t have to be there in person to capture everything California wine has to offer. Take a dive into the Golden State’s past while exploring some of their most famed wine regions with us!

Before the area became known as “wine country”, a group of missionaries from Spain planted the state’s first known vineyards in 1769, though they were used solely for religious purposes. It wasn’t until the Gold Rush, when thirsty miners arrived in droves, that California’s first actual winery was born. While there is some contention of who gets the title of oldest winery in California, most sources give the credit to D’Agostini Winery in Plymouth established in 1856 followed shortly by the more well-known Buena Vista which was the first to make wine from European varieties in Sonoma County in the year 1857. Both of which are still in business today!

The California wine industry saw many ups and downs in the next 100 years: first the phylloxera epidemic which made its way from Europe to cause havoc in the vineyards and then the Act of Prohibition which caused hundreds of wineries to shutter. Despite these setbacks, the industry was able to make a quick recovery on the world stage at the ground-breaking 1976 Judgement of Paris when a selection of California wines beat out top wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux in a blind tasting held by mostly French judges.

Today, California ranks as the world’s fourth largest producer with 1,200 wineries across the state! Of the four main wine regions (North Coast, South Coast, Central Coast and Central Valley) the North Coast, which is home to Napa Valley, is especially renowned. Here you’ll find legendary American Viticulture Areas (AVA) like Rutherford, St Helena, and Oakville with the likes of Caymus Vineyards, Raymond Vineyards, and Robert Mondavi, respectively. Here, Cabernet Sauvignon is King and Chardonnay is Queen.

Travelling west to Sonoma County, Pinot Noir thrives thanks to cooling influences from the Pacific Ocean. Here, AVAs like Knights Valley and Russian River Valley have also had their fair share of attention thanks to famous residents like Beringer Vineyards and Rodney Strong Vineyards.

While Napa Valley and Sonoma County in the North Coast are often the first to come to mind, California’s diverse terroir also includes Lodi in the Central Valley which is known for Zinfandel; Paso Robles, Monterey, and Santa Barbara in the Central Coast whose offerings range from Merlot to Rhône style blends, and Temecula all the way in the South where the dry and warm climate is ideal for Syrah.

Join us in raising a glass to the resilience, creativity, and passion of California winemakers who share the fruits of their labour with the world!


Click here to browse our vast selection of delicious California wines.

River District Burgundy Offer 2022

Hi Everyone! 

I proudly present the River District Burgundy Offer for 2022.  

Since so many collectors have joined my Collector’s List since last year’s offer, I’m organizing the selections a bit differently: whereas most of my emails have the “Non-Stop Classic-Hits” section at the end, I will include previously offered Burgundies right in the Domaine’s blurb, designated as such by an asterisk (*) and with no write-up attached (I can send the blurb if needed). I think this will help things pitter-patter more precisely. 

Quantities are tiny for most of these items, so if you’re intrigued by these wines (and if you’re not, I don’t believe you) contact me at or call me (Jordan) at our River District store: 604-416-1672 

We begin: 

Boyer-Martenot. Young Vincent Boyer now owns and runs the Family’s 10-hectare estate in the Côte de Beaune, the fourth Boyer to do so. Although they bottle a handful of villages, Meursault is their jam, and they buck the New School trends by using weekly bȃttonage over the 1/3 new oak aging. Indigenous ferments, low sulphur and minimal filtration are practiced, but Vincent’s recent meteoric success owes to the fact that the guy just has amazing vineyards, simply put. 

Boyer-Martenot Meursault-Charmes 1er Cru 2019. Honeyed yellow fruit, orange blossom, apple, fennel. Generous but delicate. Crystal finish. Chardonnay. 3 bottles available $231.98 +tax 

Boyer-Martenot Meursault-Genevrières 1er Cru 2019. Ancient Juniper berries near the parcel influence the nose. Lingering lime zest, wildflowers, white peach. Silky and plush. Chardonnay. 3 bottles available, $224.98 +tax 

Boyer Martenot Meursault Narvaux 2019. Hazelnut vibes over candied lemon and jasmine. Robust. Can do more push-ups than you. Chardonnay. 3 bottles available $134.98 +tax 


Chavy-Chouet. The scion of Puligny and Meursault’s oldest families, the frustratingly photogenic Romaric Chavy took over from his father Hubert in 2014 after only 6 years of formal training and a couple of vintages abroad. His dad had already steered the domaine towards organic viticulture, but Romaric shocked his contemporaries by how much better his wines were, employing New School cellar moves (no bȃttonage, indigenous yeast) to produce pure, linear white Burgundy that ranks among the best. 

Chavy-Chouet Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières 2020. A rocky, chalk-filled plot, mid slope, planted in 1945, very low vigour. Honeysuckle and other yellow flowers blend with lemon zest and almonds over a rich body with a svelte, bright close. Chardonnay. 6 bottles available, $188.98 +tax 


Pascal Clement. Pascal grew up in his family’s vineyards and cellar, and they had put him to work at such an early age that by the time he took over as winemaker, he already had 20 vintages under his belt. Zero chemicals, indigenous ferments, zero bȃttonage, Pascal fits under the “non-intervention” column, but the fruit profiles are always pristine. First vintage to arrive in BC. 

Pascal Clement Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Chalumeaux 2018. From a plot bordering Meursault, on an old quarry's rocky, skeletal soils, this is a Puligny that identifies as a Chablis, although the marzipan and Golden Delicious apples on the nose beg to differ. Full footprint but zippier than a caffeinated ferret. Chardonnay. 8 bottles available, $153.98 +tax 


Domaine Desvignes. With a surname like Devignes, it wasn’t likely that father Gautier or son Eric would become fighter pilots. Farming 10 hectares around the hidden-gem village of Givry, this is bright, delicious Burgundy with layers and length. Killer value. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate said: "very much a Côte Chalonnaise address to watch" and a "potential future star" which sounds mild, but in Wine Writer context it’s like jumping on Oprah’s couch. 

Domaine Desvignes Givry Rouge 2020. Blueberries and bright cherries, a mineral streak, good intensity and length. Pinot Noir. 12 bottles available, $59.98 +tax 

Domaine Desvignes Givry Rouge 1er Cru Clos du Vernoy Monopole 2020. In the Desvignes family for 11 generations, the Vernoy cru is noted for matching the fresh red fruits with balsamic  nuttiness and ferrous notes. Beautifully complex. Ripe raspberry and white flowers. Pinot Noir. 12 bottles available, $66.98 +tax 


Lou Dumont. Japanese Somm Koji Nakada followed his passion for Burgundy to Dijon, where he was taught French by his future wife/co-winemaker Jae Hwa Park, a Korean ex-pat living in France. Together they started a micro-négocient house called Lou Dumont to honour their kids and the mountains of their youth (and also, I’m guessing, to not freak out an agrarian French culture). Koji is most definitely not afraid of barrels, but the rich bodies and toasty noses are balanced by that streak of tartaric freshness that ties everything in a beautiful bow. 

Lou Dumont Meursault 2018. Imagine hazelnuts, apples and shortbread in a toaster-oven, but instead of screaming they’re blowing you kisses. The positive Ted Lasso vibe runs front-to-back in this opulent, fully charged village Meursault. Chardonnay. 6 bottles available, $97.98 +tax 


Elodie-Roy. You know winemaking is hard when instead of wanting you to take over the domaine, your parents want you to be a banker, lawyer, dear God, anything but this. Elodie Roy tried those other professions but her heart was always in the vineyard, so she apprenticed under the legendary Anne Gros for twelve years before finally taking the helm from her father a couple years ago. Farming in Burgundy’s hinterlands, Elodie has, in a very short time, become one of young stars of Burgundy, producing bright, dynamic wines like this: 

Elodie-Roy Maranges “La Rue des Pierres” 2020. At the southern tip of the Côte de Beaune, Maranges should really start to show on your radar. This cuvée of valley floor vineyards (bordering Santenay) takes a left turn into Spicytown, showing nutmeg and pepper around brilliant red fruits on the nose and tangy black fruits on the finish. Well structured, amazing value. Pinot Noir. 12 bottles available, $77.98 +tax 


Jane Eyre. Jane has had a year. Not only has she released her extra-curricular forays into Jura and Tasmania, but this former Australian hairdresser (well, she’s still Australian but no longer cuts hair) was named Winemaker of the Year by the French magazine La Revue du Vin de France. The first woman and Australian to ever win. Her delicate, hands-off approach to negociant viticulture is finally getting the attention that was long overdue. Witness: 

Jane Eyre Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 1er Cru Les Bondues 2019. One of Jane’s admitted favourites, and since she’s the only vigneron who gets red grapes from Bondues, it’s kind of an unofficial Monopole. Dark and thick with ripe red and blue fruits, savoury herbs and chalk. 40% whole bunch press. Pinot Noir. 5 bottles available, $162.98 +tax 

Jane Eyre Volnay 2020. An expertly structured, clean Pinot, showing good purity of fruit without the Volnay Stank (not that that’s bad). Blackberry, orange peel, spice. Light bodied. Pinot Noir. 3 bottles available, $113.98 +tax 

*Jane Eyre Volnay (Pinot Noir) 2018, 2 bottles available, $113.98 +tax 

Jane Eyre Beaune 1er Cru Cents Vignes 2019. From a 50-yr-old organic plot, 30% whole bunch press. Sweeter fruit on the nose, with high toned red fruits leading. Slight pepper hints, front and back. Muscular palate, defined tannins. Pinot Noir. 3 bottles available, $117.98 +tax 


Robert Groffier Père & Fils. The largest landowner in the cult-inspiring Amoureuses 1er Cru comes into it honestly and generationally: current vigneron Nicolas Groffier is the 4th Groffier to wrest power and beauty from Pinot in the Côte de Nuits. The house style can best be described as terroir-informed pragmatism, Nicolas doesn’t dogmatically hue to one way of winemaking (i.e. whole cluster vs. destemming), he lets the vineyard tell him what to do, an easy decision when you have dirt like this: 

Groffier Chambolle-Musigny Les Sentiers 2020. The northernmost Cru of the village. 100% whole cluster pressing from 80-year-old vines. Slight saline notes of violet and pepper lift the racy cherry and potpourri aromas. Silky deployment with black current lingering on the long finish. Pinot Noir. 6 bottles available, $408.98 +tax 

*Groffier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses (Pinot Noir) 2017, 3 bottles available, $904.98 +tax  

*Groffier Bonnes Mares Grand Cru (Pinot Noir) 2017,4 bottles available, $904.98 +tax 


Faiveley. In 1934, with the world economy in ruins, Hitler ascending to power, and nobody buying Burgundy wines at all, Georges Faively founded the legendary Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin (which meets to this day in the basement of Clos Vougeot), under the simple concept that if no one was buying them, at least the winemakers could get together and drink them. Founded in 1825, Faiveley has incrementally collected some of Burgundy’s best climats over two centuries (they own more Monopoles than any other estate), especially on Corton, and now 7th generation vignerons Erwan and Eve Faiveley have steered the house style towards elegance and fidelity to terroir. 

Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2019. Drop dead gorgeous, such a perfect balance between concentration and energy. Corton has always been a Faiveley strength, especially this vineyard planted my Cistercian monks in the time of Charlemagne. Peach, lemon cordial, apricot, chalk, a large footprint, a lighter step. Chardonnay. 5 bottles available, $421.98 +tax 

*Faiveley Ladoix Blanc (Chardonnay) 2017, 8 bottles available, $62.98 +tax 


Domaine Philippe Gavignet. Elegant wines from a village often responsible for wolverines: many Nuits-St-Georges can be Tannin-o-sauruses with ferrous frames and only slight glimpses of the terrified fruit imprisoned therein, but Philippe Gavignet leads with soft beauty, partially due to the old vines he inherited from the 3 Gavignets before him. With his son Benoit, he farms around NSG and Haute-Côtes de Nuits, practicing moderate extraction in the winery towards finessed, silky wines like these:  

Philippe Gavignet Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Pruliers 2020. Planted in 1974 at the bottom of the Pruliers Cru where the soils are limestoniest, this accordingly well-structured NSG is tempered by dusty chocolate, cinnamon and blackberry, as well as Philippe’s softer touch. More concentration in the 2020 than previous vintages. Pinot Noir. 6 bottles available, $138.98 +tax 

Philippe Gavignet Nuits-Saint-Georges Vieille Vignes 2020. Directly adjacent to 1er Cru plots, the Belles Croix and Allots vineyards, planted in 1920 and 1954 respectively, are calcium rich limestone plots west of the village. Cherries, forest floor, cinnamon, structured delicately and fresh. Hidden power. Pinot Noir. 6 bottles available, $117.98 +tax 

Philippe Gavignet Nuits-Saint-Georges Blanc Les Argillats 2020. “A White NSG??” you may fairly ask, “whoa, I guess I shouldn’t have licked that toad!”. No, you shouldn’t have, but this White Nuits-Saint-Georges is in fact real, although about as common as a white rhino. There’s a vein of sand that runs through the Argillats plot on which Gavignet planted Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, comprising both halves of this electric citrus beam, sporting gravel, basil and lemon zest over a graceful, Loire-ish build. Also the walls are melting, and ribbit. 6 bottles available, $117.98 +ribbit 

Pierre Girardin. One of the New School’s biggest rockstars, Pierre Girardin is the 11th Girardin to make wine, initially farming a fraction of his father Vincent’s former estate (he sold the rest off when he retired). When he released his first wines at the age of 21, the community was ready to pat him on the back and give him a mulligan, but those wines absolutely slayed – so much so that his neighbours who were preparing to patronize him now line up to get him to make wine from their vineyards. 

Pierre Girardin “Éclat de Calcaire” Bourgogne Blanc 2020. An outright crackerjack first floor Chardonnay that showcases Pierre’s style at a somewhat lower amplitude. Using 80% Meursault fruit with 20% white Volnay. A blast of apples, pears and chalk over spicy citrus, and a medium-full body. Killer value. 18 bottles available, $65.98 +tax 

Pierre Girardin Meursault Les Tillets 2020. This famous, overachieving lieu-dit boasts the highest altitude of Meursault, sitting well above the 1er Crus. Pierre’s take lets the limestone speak through to the nose, with jasmine, green apple and tangerine. Chardonnay. 6 bottles available, $131.98 +tax 

Pierre Girardin Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru “Lavaux-Saint-Jacques” 2020. A beast in a prom dress from a 1er Cru that seems to be following Amoureuses towards unofficial Grand Cru status. Directly adjacent to Clos St. Jacques on the north side of Gevrey, 35+ year old vines, 40% whole cluster. Iron-laced cherry, smoky plum, incense and orange rind. Quite full and powerful, impressive concentration. Pinot Noir. 6 bottles available, $326.98 +tax 


Patrick Javillier. No one has ever accused Patrick Javillier of under-thinking anything. Once his Chardonnays were in oak, he became a Wine Hen, nurturing his barrels like eggs in a nest and adjusting each cask according to its needs. When the former electrical engineer took over his dad’s domaine, he applied that pathological precision to the cellar, favouring long lees aging in wood (mostly used), but now that his daughter and son-in-law have taken over… well, they’re exactly the same. 

Patrick Javillier Puligny-Montrachet Les Levrons 2020. A limestone-y lieu-dit at the bottom of the Puligny slopes, north of the village. Pear, hazelnut and apple, lifts pleasantly into zingland on finish. Unapologetically big and brave. Chardonnay. 6 bottles available, $135.98 +tax 

*Patrick Javillier Meursault Tête de Murger (Chardonnay) 2018, 5 bottles available, $188.98 +tax 


Latour-Giraud. When the Latour and Giraud families merged in 1958, they brought together a combined 4 centuries of viticulture. Specializing almost entirely in the village of Meursault, Jean-Pierre Latour has pioneered low-intervention winemaking in the village, using ambient yeasts, lees again and minimal racking, and the style can best be called Retro-Modern, as the wines are generous but still tightly wound. I have: 

*Latour-Giraud Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières (Chardonnay) 2019. 5 bottles available, $156.98 +tax  

*Latour-Giraud Meursault Les Narvaux (Chardonnay) 2014. 4 bottles available, $113.98 +tax 


Maison Leroy. Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy ran Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) for nearly 20 years and is still the majority shareholder, but now runs her late father’s negoçe Maison Leroy as well as Domaine Leroy (much younger than Maison, established in the late ‘80s). Behind DRC, Leroy is arguably the second most sought Burgundy in the world. In truth I passed on this year’s offer as the prices had risen literally four-fold from last year, making my remaining stock excellent comparative value: 

*Maison Leroy Saint-Aubin (Pinot Noir) 1993. 4 bottles available, $2199.98 +tax  

*Maison Leroy Volnay (Pinot Noir) 2003. 4 bottles available, $2132.98 +tax  

*Maison Leroy Nuits-Saint-Georges (Pinot Noir) 2013. 4 bottles available, $1983.98 +tax 


Michel Mallard. The wines that Burgundy winemakers drink. Michel’s day job is making wine at Domaine d’Eugenie in Vosne-Romanée but he also tends his own 27 acres, producing fresh, elegant Burgundies from quieter villages like Ladoix and Aloxe-Corton. I managed to get my hands on some back vintages: 

Michel Mallard Ladoix Rouge Le Clos Royer 2005. Clos Royer is a lieu dit at the corner of Ladoix, at the foot of the slopes of the hill of Corton and adjacent to Aloxe-Corton. 40-year-old vines in rocky clay soil. Dried cherries, moss and dried herbs command the nose now, flows like velvet. Aged perfectly, ex-Chateau. Pinot Noir. 12 bottles available, $132.98 +tax 

Michel Mallard Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru Les Valozieres 2005. Sitting at the base of Corton, adjacent to the Bressandes and C,los du Roi climats. Ripe strawberries shine through the sandalwood and forest floor, the structure is still present but balance has been achieved. This is pure luxury. Ex-Chateau. Pinot Noir. 12 bottles available, $215.98 +tax 


Marc Morey. Marc’s great-granddaughter Sabine now runs his namesake domaine, specializing in delightfully old-school renderings of the legendary Crus surrounding the village of Chassagne-Montrachet. Ambient yeast ferments, gentle battonage (lees stirring) and unrestricted malolactic are the family tools, and Sabine uses them to craft aromatic, generously textured Chardonnays of layer and length, like: 

Marc Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Chenevottes 2020. A sunnier climat, named after “chanvre” the Old French word for hemp, which covered these slopes well before the Cistercian monks replanted them to vines. Like receiving a hug from the Lemon God. Ripe peaches and truffle support the lemon preserve aromas, a full, creamy body fills all cracks with love until the citrus-rind astringent finish adds a welcome tension at the end. Chardonnay. 6 bottles available, $166.98 +tax 

*Marc Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Chenevottes (Chardonnay) 2019, 4 bottles available, $166.98 


Morey-Coffinet. It’s not printed in the brochures, but Burgundy is one of the remaining parts of the world where people still marry for land, a fact that might explain why there are so many Moreys making wine around Montrachet. Descendant from Marc Morey, young Thibault Morey has been called “the rising star of Chassagne-Montrachet”, farming his parents wedding-gift-parcels on southeast-facing slopes. Using oxygen exposure early in the cellar to prevent premature oxidization in bottle, Thibault’s long presses and careful aging spin silk out of Chassagne and Meursault – the wines are strong but not loud. 

Morey-Coffinet Meursault 1er Cru Perrières 2018. Comblanchian limestone lurks beneath the soils at the southern tip of Perrières, adjacent to Puligny-Montrachet. Those minerals breathe through the nose, with damp flint and green apple surrounded by white flowers. Full, graceful. Chardonnay. 12 bottles available, $211.98 +tax 

Morey-Coffinet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru La Romanée 2018. Sitting at some elevation in Chassagne’s southern half, Romanée’s calcareous soils contribute some gun smoke to the almond/apricot vibes. Butter and lime round out the nose. Medium bodied, great tension held be greater restraint. Chardonnay. 6 bottles available, $181.98 +tax 

Morey-Coffinet Chassagne Montrachet Rouge Vieilles Vignes 2020. Becoming rarer as time passes, red Chassagne is one of the last remaining values in Burgundy, and Thibault’s old vine Pinot is to die for. Round tannins, deep fruit amongst tilled soil and cinnamon. Pinot Noir. 6 bottles available, $96.98 +tax 


Chateau de Pommard. I’m always suspicious when the village is in a winery’s name – like when the box of rice just says “rice” – but this biodynamic house, established in 1726, blew everyone away at Top Drop this year, so I had to bring it in. Although steeped with a dramatic, often gory history (one of the early founders was guillotined and that dude got off easy), today’s Chateau Pommard is an idyllic, biodynamic estate run by oenologist Emmanuel Sala. 

Chateau de Pommard Pommard Clos de Marey-Monge Monopole 2015.The estate’s original ancient walled vineyard, recently discovered to have some of the highest clay levels in Burgundy, similar to Musigny and Richebourg. From vines planted in 1906. Ripe red fruits, typical Pommard fallen leaves, gorgeously round and refined with great length, this is a steal. Pinot Noir. 6 bottles available, $207.98 +tax 

Chateau de Pommard Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 1er Cru Morgeot 2018. Roses, blueberries and baking spices leap out of this small limestone parcel in Chassagne’s biggest Cru. Well-defined structure, we feel the oak but don’t smell or taste it. Spices linger on the finish. Pinot Noir. 6 bottles available, $120.98 +tax 


Henri Rebourseau. A General in WW1, Henri Rebourseau tended his ancestral vineyards (planted in 1782) and founded the Chambertin Syndicat – the family name is synonymous with the village of Gevrey (nobody seems to have been guillotined but I probably just haven’t read back far enough). Organic and biodynamic, the house focuses 95% in the vineyard and just 5% in the cellar, following the adage that if your fruit is good enough, you don’t need to intervene. It is, and they don’t. 

Henri Rebourseau Gevrey-Chambertin Aux Corvées 2019. The Corvées lieu-dit stretches south of the village on relatively flat land, making ripeness and drinkability a non-issue. Always savoury and herbaceous, this 2019 lets plums and blackberry poke out on the nose, great concentration on palate. Pinot Noir. 6 bottles available, $147.98 +tax 


Joseph Roty. Although young Pierre-Jean Roty is at the domaine’s helm now, he has no intention of tipping over the apple cart, because Rotys don’t change. Roty focuses on Age, before and after bottling. They have some of the oldest vines in Burgundy, the largest concentration of old vines in their vineyards, and they buck the New School by using 50% new oak, picking late and completely destemming. These are dense, ageable wines, unapologetically made for the cellar. 

Joseph Roty Gevrey-Chambertin 2018. A cuvee of several estate lieu-dits: Platière, Puits de la Baraque, Crais, Charreux, and Champerriers. Dense cherry liqueur, blackberry, boysenberry. A saline texture and finish, firm tannins. Open in 2026 or later Pinot Noir. 9 bottles available, $124.98 +tax 

*Joseph Roty Marsanne (Pinot Noir) 2018, 4 bottles available, $75.98 +tax 


And that’s a wrap! Next week we look at outstanding US wines. 

Until then, Happy Drinking!!

Book Clubs, Food and Wine: July

Book Clubs, Food and Wine

A monthly blog

Jan Penhorwood, wine consultant at the Langley store.

Before learning about wine and entering the industry I worked as a librarian for 30 years. I have also been an avid reader (and book club member) for almost as long. My book club, perhaps a thinly veiled wine-drinking club featuring fiction, meets monthly. Each month a different member hosts & chooses the book and also prepares a full dinner with wine. But there are many different ways to run a book club. If by chance you are looking for book titles that feature wine or ideas for thematic books to pair with wines, I have some ideas for you in this monthly blog.


I am currently recommending John Lanchester’s novel “The Debt to Pleasure” (1996). A fabulous romp providing mystery and actual seasonal recipes along with an erudite history of food. Hilarious cookbook cum-memoir written by a brilliant, snobbish and eccentric man, Tarquin Winot, as he drives through France to his house in Provence. One of the most unreliable narrators you will ever encounter, Tarquin slowly reveals more and more of his sinister agenda as the book progresses.  Choose from one of the book’s seasonal menus, an egg curry or perhaps a herbed chicken. A Provence rosé would be perfect!

Cote du Provence rosés are available at various price points. I love Domaine Houchart ($19.99) a dry rosé with hints of grapefruit, apple and strawberry. There is a light blossom scent and a satisfying mineral taste. Or splurge on Whispering Angel ($39.99) with its hints of strawberry, cherry, blossom, orange peel and honey. If rosés are not to your taste, Provence offers other wines: some with hints of garrigue (the name given to the collection of wild herbs that grow everywhere - rosemary, lavender, juniper and thyme) from their soil; choose a French Sauvignon Blanc or a rich oaked red made with the Mourvèdre grape. Santé! 

Summer Bonus Blog Post

Feel like starting a book club this summer? Or maybe just collecting a couple of great “summer beach reads” for 2022 and pairing them with some wine?

The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel


 Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

 -Sonoma Pinot Noir

 The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand 

-French Sauvignon Blanc, maybe even a Sancerre!

Note: I usually obtain my books from the library. I do occasionally buy them, especially if I am sure I will reread them. I recently bought a Kindle but have not yet fully embraced it. My wines come from “Everything Wine” and most, but not all, are from the Langley store.


… August preview for those who love to plan ahead. Anything by author Ian McEwan.

Book Clubs, Food and Wine: August

Book Clubs, Food and Wine:  August

A monthly blog

Jan Penhorwood, wine consultant at the Langley store.

Discuss Ian McEwan’s superb book “Saturday” and serve a Mediterranean fish stew.

Henry, the central character in this novel, makes fish stew. By day Henry is a neurosurgeon but as a home cook he loves to make one pot meals that he “throws together” – without any of his surgeon’s precision.

The events of this novel take place in a single day. Dr. Henry Perowne wakes at dawn on this Saturday thinking of his normal weekend activities with friends and family. He does not know- none of us can- that he is going to lose control of his entire life a few hours later. A peace march, a missed appointment, a car crash, road rage and ultimately terror ensue.

Depending upon the type of fish or shellfish you use to make your stew you might choose a low tannin red, a rosé or more likely, a white wine.


Popular wisdom holds that the tannins in red wine can, when served with fish, intensify the fishy taste and create an unpleasant aftertaste. One often hears that only white or rosé wines can pair successfully with fish. Research has shown that a compound in the fish reacts to the extra iron in red wines triggering a decaying fish smell. (

But salmon and other rich and meaty fish could pair well with a light red wine. Perhaps a Cinsault or a Beaujolais. If you haven’t heard of or tried a Cinsault, do so. Cinsault delivers lots of flavour (raspberry, tart cherry) along with light-body and low tannins. Here are a couple of suggestions:

For a firm-fleshed fish like halibut try a chilled white Rhône blend (and add some to the pot) then wait for the halibut to simmer. … I love white wines year-round but particularly in the summer.

Another Côtes de Provence rosé (like last month's) would pair well with a tender and flaky fish like sole or cod or shellfish.

…September preview - a hard-boiled detective novel with some steak on the BBQ

Support Local buy BC Wines

Who doesn't love BC wines? It's so important to support local. Local farmers, small businesses need support. Bouquet refers to wine's aroma. Wine, women, and song – not necessarily in that order. Strong notes of cedar, gin, with a cinnamon finish. A popular but unconfirmed theory claims that Malbec is named after a Hungarian peasant who first spread the grape variety throughout France. Women have a higher fat content than men. What does this have to do with wine? Because fat doesn't absorb alcohol, women get drunk faster. The host of a dinner should take the first sip of wine to assure his guests it is not poisoned. Boxes, while repugnant, hold viable vinos. Sauvignon blanc is light, grassy, and herbaceous. High-end corks are handmade. Gulp. Thunderbird is a screw-top classic. Aroma, bouquet, nose – wine is smelly business. An inimitable flavor is found in barrels. Trichloroanisole in the cork can impart musty, mouldy overtones. Such a wine is called "corked." When Cabernet Sauvignon is paired with steak or dishes with a heavy butter cream sauce, the tannins are neutralized, allowing the fruits of the wine to be more noticeable. Wines that are named for a region are always capitalized – Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Rioja, Chianti, Lambrusco, etc. Sulfites are found in nearly all wines, produced by the yeast during fermentation. Tannic, full-bodied wines are described as chewy. The word "sauvignon" is believed to be derived from the French sauvage meaning "wild." A grape in the glass is worth two on the vine. Delicacy is prized in pinot noir and riesling. In California, the main stylistic difference in Cabernet Sauvignon is between hillside / mountain vineyards and those on flatter terrain like valley floors. Smoky is usually a byproduct of oak barrels, or, less often, of drunken arson. The term meritage is a blend of merit and heritage, and usually describes blended California wines. Sommelier is an elegant euphemism for professional wino. Acidity is a naturally occurring component of every wine. Red wine was associated with blood by the ancient Egyptians. It may be the oldest known type of wine, as it is the most straightforward to make with the skin contact method. Wine grapes grow almost exclusively between 30 and 50 degrees latitude north and south of the equator.

The Quaranvine Papers Belle Italia

We honour the wines of Italy today with empathy and optimism: soon the cafes will reopen, the wine will flow and the music will start again. The things that make Italy one of the world’s hearts will return as vibrant and vital as ever - I will be at the front of the line to drink it all in.

Salute. We begin with the Italian Red Wine Of The Year, as chosen by Italians:

Piaggia Carmignano Riserva 2016, Carmignano, Tuscany. Boasting roughly the same Sangiovese-to-Cab/Merlot blend as Tignanello, the wines from the village of Carmignano are still Terra Incognita to many Canadian wine collectors but by rights they shouldn’t be: the true Tuscan values are in the hinterlands and this 2016 Riserva by Piaggia is an elegant, nearly-perfect tribute to that northern terroir. Carmignano’s Cabernet Sauvignon plantings go back to the 1500s when one of the Medicis became queen of France, and she imported her favourite French grapes to these hills that overlook Florence from the north-west; It’s weird that so many Tuscan traditionalists freaked out in the 1970s when the Antinoris blended Sangiovese with Cab – that same so-called Super Tuscan formula had been baked into the Carmignano cake for centuries. Dried and fresh cherries sing lead on this track but they let others take solos: blood orange, mint, plum and lavender all get to belt out a line or two. Repressed intensity follows on the layered palate, the structure is dense but not angry, a good deal of fruit comes back onto the long finish, accompanied by its fondue-friend Chocolate. This is actually pretty tasty now but I suspect a future legend – 20 years cellaring time is possible, 4 years is advisable. Remember when you saw the ads for The King’s Speech and you thought “Oh that’s obviously going to win the Oscar”? This. Red Wine Of The Year: Gambero Rosso. 5 6-packs available, $65.98 +tax

Salcheto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2015, Montepulciano, Tuscany. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. Because of Michele Manelli’s dedication to sustainable everything, the wines are packaged in diminutive, unassuming bottles that don’t even look like they could hold 750ml (they do) so as to decrease the carbon footprint needed to ship them. We carry wimpy little White Zins with more imposing bottles than this. It’s all a trick, however: like a hand grenade wrapped in a pink scrunchie, the wine trapped inside is a beast of many claws – I can’t believe it hasn’t already escaped given that the bottle’s so thin. Deep notes of iron and smoke hover above the black fruits and violets, you can almost smell the sunburnt soil through the plums. Carries the same body and structure as a Saint-Estephe, or maybe a tractor… This Sangiovese needs further imprisonment – 2 years should do the trick – but will be quite stunning on the other side of that. #11 – Top 100 of 2019, Wine Enthusiast, 94 points Wine Spectator, 4 6-packs available, $44.98 +tax

Tenuta San Jacopo Caprilius 2015, Valdarno, Tuscany. Remember how “Montepulciano” is the name of a grape and the name of a Tuscan wine village, but the Montepulciano village grows Sangiovese and the Montepulciano grape is never grown in Tuscany? Ok, forget all of that because this is a Tuscan wine made out of Montepulciano, oopsy. Besides being a fish-out-of-water, oh-no-the-Ghostbusters-crossed-the-beams kind of specimen, Caprilius is actually quite delicious, and certainly pushes the pleasure buttons earlier and more frequently than the last two wines. Big, round and loveable with spiced blueberries and blackberries, this is a rich, opulent wine from just outside the Chianti appellation, bursting with body and just generally in a good mood. Didn’t know the Montepulciano grape could get this large. Sheer concentration will allow aging but there’s no waiting period, this is a way-tasty little paradox already. 97 points (Platinum) Decanter, 3 6-packs available, $64.99

Trinoro Le Cupole 2017, Val d’Orcia, Tuscany. What’s the name of that thing that always stands back up with a smile after it gets punched? Oh, right: Trinoro. The 2017 growing season was so hot and dry in southwestern Tuscany that proprietor Andrea Franchetti said that the “Val d’Orcia became the Sahara, the grapes were all skins!” As a result, the 2017 red wines from Trinoro are denser, deeper and darker than Goth eyeliner, and the hydric pressure on the vines led Andrea to let Merlot drive the bus in Le Cupole, instead of the usual leader Cabernet Franc, whose berries looked like Voldemort after all the Horcruxes were broken. Le Cupole 2017 is a rich, ripe affair despite the drought, the velvety Merlot brings the love and the co-stars Cab Franc and Petit Verdot bring the brisk balance. Leathery plums and blackberries rule the roost. This has been a super popular wine in my Vintage Room for years, I’m sure many of you have older vintages in your cellars, but I guarantee you’ve never had one quite like this. 93 points Robert Parker, 2 cases available, $57.98 +tax

Dal Forno Romano Amarone della Valpolicella 2012, Valpolicella, Veneto. I keep telling people that I’ve never been run over by an Italian sports car, but I’ve drank Dal Forno so maybe that’s not true. The apprentice to Giuseppe Quintarelli has emerged as the King of Precision and Munitions: Romano Dal Forno’s chromed drying rooms (called Fruttaios) look like NASA test chambers, and his wines taste like the universe - vast and unending. Romano took the rustic, local Amarone practices and used new tech to refine each of them to maximum effect. In fact, “maximum” is the word that applies to every aspect of his winery and wines, soup to nuts. This is the maximum extraction, power, pigment, intensity and longevity that humans can wrest from the local grape varieties Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. If Romano were permitted to start with a heavier grape like Cab, our known universe would fold in on itself. Sweet spice, brandied cherries and charcoal dominate the nose, the body and finish both scream “Ozymandias!” for hours. The sheer concentration and price preclude it from being a Wednesday Wine (but oh, what a Wednesday), as does the fact that he makes hardly any wine – I was allocated one six-pack and already sold one bottle. 97 points James Suckling, 96 points Robert Parker, 96 points Decanter, 5 bottles available, $534.98 +tax

Domini Veneti Vigneti di Jago Amarone della Valpolicella 2013, Valpolicella, Veneto. The Jago hamlet overlooking Negrar, north of Verona, supplies the Corvina-led fruit salad that comprises this friendly dragon. Started in 1989 by an established co-op (co-ops are owned by grape growers) called Cantina di Negrar, Domini Veneti’s mission was to start making amazing wines, standing apart from the starkly functional wines that the co-op was famous for (some co-ops make really good wine but they are often Purveyors of Meh). You can’t just “decide” to make great wines, can you? It doesn’t work like that, does it? Evidently it can work exactly like that because the wines from Domini Veneti have been stellar pretty much since the starting pistol. Their emphasis on terroir – not a priority of even some of the best Amarones – has been a calling card, and this wine from Jago sings. The expected dark fruits are balanced by citrus rind astringency and a truly exotic nose tied together by tobacco and vanillin. They don’t submit to American reviewers but they’ve racked up some European awards: Gold – Mundus Vini, Platinum/Best In Show Decanter World Wine Awards, 97 points Decanter, 2 6-packs available, $91.98 +tax

Pieropan Calvarino Soave Classico 2016, Soave, Veneto. An intensely perfumed, balanced white wine grown in volcanic soil (the Calvarino vineyard), and one of the last wines made by Leonildo 'Nino' Pieropan, considered by most to be the Father of Soave. Nature gave Leonildo a gift for Pieropan’s 45th anniversary harvest: a long, mild, dry autumn where the thick skins of Garganega got extra hang time to soften and collect knowledge and wisdom; the nose is teeming with lime zest, marzipan and stone fruit, accompanied by smoke, stones and spice. Big, dry footprint in the mouth, balanced by elegant acidity, amaze-balls. #6 – Top 100 of 2019 Wine Enthusiast, 96 points Wine Enthusiast, 94 points Robert Parker, 3 6-packs available, $41.98 +tax

Spanish Magic

Adorado de Menade Magnum (1.5L), Rueda. I know the most projected activity associated with time-travel is Hero Stuff (preventing wars, stopping Smirnoff Ice from being invented), but – on the off chance that you aren’t Harrison Ford – what if you went back in time to taste what people drank back then? If you travelled to 1900 in the small, dusty hamlet of La Seca in Rueda and hung out with the grizzled farmers and labourers, you’d be drinking this rustic brew of old Verdejo and Palomino, and you wouldn’t ask the vintage because there ain’t one. Each new vintage goes into the top of a stack of barrels, which is transferred over the many years into the bottom barrels (called Solera, or “on the Ground” in Spanish) from which the wine is drawn, slowly blending each year’s harvest into each other in a consistent style. The “mother” Solera for Adorado, this gorgeous, striking wine from the Menade family, dates back to 1968 and there really aren’t any relatable signposts to guide you towards a description because we are in uncharted territory. At once fresh and vibrant but oxidative – having been subjected to the “flor” method used on Sherry – with notes of almond crisps and dried fruits, this golden wine is full and fortified but not sweet, unctuous and powerful. This is a new thing, you haven’t tasted anything quite like it. I tried it at Top Drop last year and insisted they import it for me (they weren’t going to because they thought it was too weird for North America), they only make a handful of magnums each year (no regular sizes are produced) and I got 6 of ‘em.  Come step back in time. 93 points Robert Parker, 6 Magnums available, $179.98 +tax

Bodegas Franco-Espanolas Rioja Bordon Gran Reserva 1999, Rioja. Started in Logroño in 1890 when a desperate Bordeaux vigneron came to Spain seeking to make wine again after decades of phylloxera ravaged his home town (Rioja wasn’t affected until years later), the French-Spanish Bodega became famous in the first half of the 20th century with fans like Ernest Hemmingway singing their praises before fascism closed Spain down for business for 40 years. Resurgent in the last couple of decades, the flagship Rioja Bordon is made in that pre-WW1 style, with American white oak and a hella-long bottle aging. Herbaceous and savoury notes battle with the dried cherries and vanilla on this well-deep nose, the palate is still amazingly fresh. Perfectly in the zone, quite delicious. 92 points Wine Spectator, 2 cases available, $50.98 +tax

Mas Rodo Macabeu 2016, Penedes. I love Viura, with its dichotomy of decadent, oily textures and linear, focused acidity. The folks along the Ebro River love it so much that it forms the back bone of white Riojas. The folks in Penedes love it so much that they plant it on the slopes of the mountains around Barcelona, but they love being Catalans so much that they had to rename it Macabeo so that it didn’t sound too Spanish. When Macabeo comes from old vines, like these gobelet-trained 50-year-old ones in Penedes, the concentration warrants the type of winemaking usually reserved for white Bordeaux, with extended French Oak aging and lees-stirring, offering texture and complexity to the natural melon, citrus and herbal notes. This is powerful stuff, capable of aging – but not too long because the subtle aromatics are so very sexy right now. Nutso value, this. Gold – International Wine Awards, 12 bottles available, $43.98 +tax

Contino Gran Reserva 2012, Rioja. Given how classically statuesque its wines are, you’d think that Contino has been around since the beginning of time, but in fact the estate was started in 1973 and is distinguished by becoming Rioja’s first “Chateau”, or single vineyard estate. The Ebro curves around the estate, moderating the hot summer temperatures and keeping sugar levels from spiking too early: this is a serious, Bordeaux-like affair, with a bulletproof structure under the intense black and red fruits competing with the wood – we’re about 3-4 years from the window opening here, but this is (like most premium Spanish wines) great value for a Cellar Star. 97 points James Suckling, 12 bottles available, $80.98 +tax

Cosmic Vinyaters “Valentia” Carinyena Blanca 2018, Alt Emporda. I’m throwing a bunch of new stuff at you here, so let’s slow down and chew our food: 1) this is white Carignan, an ultra-rare mutation of the more commonplace red Carignan variety, and I was also unaware of it before finding this wine. 2) Alt Emporda is a Mediterranean region between Barcelona and the French Border, heavily influenced by both the sea and the Tramontana, a cold wind that makes more delicate wines possible in such a warm climate. 3) Cosmic is the work of Salvador Batlle, who practices organic/biodynamic/voodoo viticulture, intervening as little as possible and probably doing sacred dances and stuff to ward off bad grape-moods. Or something. 4) Take all of these factors and then age them in traditional amphorae and chestnut barrels, and you have Valentia, an illuminating white wine with competing savoury and tropical fruit notes, big, chewy and viscous with a finish longer than this email. Far more delicious and less weird than I made it sound, no need to cautiously poke it with a stick before drinking lots and lots of it. 12 bottles available, $49.98 +tax

Bodega Lanzaga 2012, Rioja. Telmo Rodriguez, winemaker, terroir purist and allegorical bomb-thrower, came to town last year for what was advertised as a tasting but ended up being an exquisitely-accented rant against the B.C. wine market, castigating us for treating Spain as a Wine Ghetto that delivers only cheap juice with no sense of place (he accordingly removed his wines from BC for a few years). After adjusting the hairs on my back to stand down again, I had to concede that he may have a point – even some of my favourite Riojas, amazing wines all, are more producer driven than place driven, and even a sophisticated market like ours knows far more about the minutia regarding different Burgundian villages than even the macro-geology of Rioja. Telmo seeks to change that with Lanzaga, farmed on 14 hectares in Lanciego, a village in Rioja Alavesa. Lanzaga is reserved and sublime with cherry plum and cumin hints, over an austere but balanced frame – this will likely age like a Burgundy, which is precisely what Telmo intended, I think. 94 points James Suckling, 93 points Robert Parker, 10 bottles available (I bought some), $48.98