Everything Wine blog

My Wine Journey

I started to have an interest in wine while I was working for the travel industry in Japan. I’ve been in love with Canada since I first visited this country as an English school student. I kept coming back, getting to know more and more about this beautiful country. The more I learned, the more I craved to learn more. I did not really know Canadian wine other than ice wine then. It was a long time ago, so maybe you understand Canadian wine is nothing more than ice wine back in the day.  

I enjoy drinking good wine, like everybody does. I was lucky enough to have had many opportunities to try great wines on some tours of Canada that I was on, but still I did not know what a great wine was truly back then. 

One day I had a chance to see all the beautiful scenery in BC at a destination seminar and learned about Osoyoos. I was familiar with the name Osoyoos since my favourite English teacher kept telling us how beautiful it was. The presentation was talking mainly about Nk'Mip creek. I was so attracted by the beauty of the winery and golf course at the resort that I made a mental note and put it on my bucket list to go there one day. (spoiler alert! Not yet happened!) I started to study Canadian wines more, but it was still from the Tourism industry point of view, not the wine industry one. 

Around that time, I found a (one and only) Canadian Wine only store in Japan. I don’t even remember how I found it. I visited there and asked questions and begged to stay at their store to learn more. The owner was really nice and let me stay and she taught me about wines and told me about WSET. I was like, “whaaaaaaat!?” You mean I don’t have to be a sommelier to learn all about wine!?

So, I started WSET in Japan. There were only two options in Japan for me location wise back then. It was a 3-month course and I passed Level 2 and started Level 3 when I knew I could not finish it because I decided to move to Canada, but I did not want to waste what I had already completed. I wanted to keep it going.

After I moved to Canada as a business school student, I did not have money to spend on the WSET course but was dreaming of one day getting a wine related job. So, I kept drinking wine, but it was so hard to keep up my wine knowledge. I needed to study again to get back a little confidence after I started to work at the store, Everything Wine, but here I am. With great support from the managers (seriously!) at my store, I work as a BC wine buyer and am having a blast! I get to learn about and try lots of BC wines! I get to talk about them and know how they are all connected economically, environmentally, and even politically. Through everybody’s incredible efforts in the BC wine industry, it is growing a lot. There’re many more wineries compared to even just a few years back. I’m enjoying learning many aspects of this beautiful province and the fantastic wines produced here.

My favourite BC wine is Desert Hills Gamay

Planet Pinot II

A few amazing Pinots have crossed my path of late from all points on the compass, some for drinking, some for burying, we begin: 

AUSTRALIA 

By Farr Farrside Pinot Noir 2015, Moorabool Valley, Victoria. Proof that colour intensity is not an indication of power, this unassuming, transparent Pinot from just south of Melbourne can repel bullets whilst smelling like a corsage. Taking over from his dad Gary Farr, son Nick Farr (Winemaker of the Year 2020, Gourmet Traveller) worked at Au Bon Climat, Cristom and Dujac before taking the reins back home, and the south facing (north for normal people) Farrside vineyard allows him the kind of late-harvest hang-time he experienced abroad, giving full phenolic ripeness without all the extra booze (pretty rare down under). Handsomely structured, this 2015 shows predominant violets over black cherries, soil and gravel, with a beautiful, red-fruited lift on the firm finish. Delicious now, this Pinot has the legs to cellar 5+ further years, although I’ve never let one live long enough to observe what it tuns into because me thirsty and it yummy. 94 points Robert Parker, 94 points James Suckling, 18 bottles available, $94.98 +tax 

FRANCE 

Jean-Claude Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 1er Cru Morgeot 2018, Burgundy. A rare Pinot from Chassagne, although historically this village grew much more Pinot than Chardonnay, replanting only last century when the whites from the adjacent Montrachet Grand Crus started commanding bonkers prices. The Pinot that remains – like this gorgeous 2018 from Ramonet – trends more supple and savoury, and less aggressively structured than the limestone-rooted Pinots from the Côtes de Nuits further north. The warmer 2018 vintage gives us lots of blue and red fruits to balance the flowers and herbs, with a hint of blood orange lurking beneath, and the medium-full body coasts lithely until the tight finish closes the store. Needs time, but not as much as the 2017. Ready in 3 years, singing in 5. Not yet rated, 6 bottles available, $145.98 +tax 

GERMANY 

Rudolf Fürst Spatburgunder Centgrafenberg GG 2018, Franken. Perhaps in an effort to dispel the stereotypes of stern Germans barking instructions at you, the German Pinots I’ve presented here thus far (from Rheinhessen and Ahr, largely) have been gentle, generous beasts that could easily be mistaken for bearded, surfing Russian River Pinots. Not today, Fraulein. Not only does Herr Fürst shout orders at you, he does it with leather and chains on, showing no trace of empathy behind the rigid structure, but the hard truth is that if you show patience and, yes, follow the orders, life is better. The red berries will emerge with grace and power. The frame that currently has a stepdad-turned-down-for-a-bank-loan vibe will soften and integrate, and this stoic Pinot from one of Franken’s top Grand Crus will sing like a mature Vougeot. A statuesque wine, a true future cellar star. 96 points Robert Parker, 6 bottles available, $153.98 +tax 

NEW ZEALAND 

Rippon Mature Vine Pinot Noir 2017, Lake Wanaka, Central Otago. Sourced from the oldest plots of the postcard-from-Asgard picturesque Rippon Vineyard, this is the cuvee that winemaker Nick Mills calls the “voice of the vineyard”. If that’s the case, this voice is both irresistibly seductive and singing in an alien tongue, because it’s going to take a little time to understand it. The cooler 2017 vintage dialed up the jasmine, rose and sage notes but dialed down the fruit beneath a stony, schist-influenced minerality; when the fruit wakes back up in a couple years the bouquet will be simply stunning. A silky, understated palate and medium body precede a peppery finish – this is probably the best vintage so far – if this were Burgundy it’d have the same cellaring window but cost 4 times as much. 99 points James Suckling, 2 cases available, $78.98 +tax 

SOUTH AFRICA 

Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2020, Hemel-en Aarde Valley, Walker Bay. Although widely known for Chardonnay, Hamilton Russell’s Pinot is an understated, elegant affair with both feet planted firmly in Burgundy. Although more austere than the Chard, there is abundant fresh red fruit everywhere you look – in fact “fresh” is the operating principle here, lifting everything up from front to back. A fairly rich palate flows into a mineral, saline finish with a baking spice and a fair grip: unlike the accessible Chard, the Pinot needs a nap to fully develop, but 2 years should integrate the back end nicely. More Burgundian that the Ramonet Chassagne. Not yet rated, 3 6-packs available, $81.98 

USA 

Lingua Franca AVNI Pinot Noir 2016, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Although it boasts the lowest price on the towering Lingua Franca totem, it’s misleading to call AVNI an “entry-level” offering. Meaning “mother earth”, AVNI is a geologically based bottling of only hillside, volcanic soil fruit, both from the Lingua Franca estate and their neighbor. David Honig, Larry Stone MW and Burgundy’s Dominique Lafond continue to cement Lingua Franca’s position as Essential Oregon, and I was lucky to pick up a few cases of this slightly older vintage: lovely blueberries and plums laced with cinnamon, a silky, medium body, and a citrus-infused finish that is only now coming into balance. This is singing now, guys, grab it while you can ‘cuz we won’t see this vintage again. 4 cases available, $68.98 +tax 

Bergstrom “Cumberland Reserve” Pinot Noir 2018, Willamette Valley, Oregon. In the rush to express Willamette terroir, the “House Style” blend of crus is becoming a rare animal in Oregon, but the Bergstrom family’s “Cumberland” cuvée (named after the street they grew up on) remains one of the best examples. Ripe and substantial while leaving a light footprint, bright red fruits beam out around spicy blasts of matcha and tobacco, and the good intensity follows from front to back. Drinking now, quite deliciously. 94 points Robert Parker, 94 points Wine Spectator, #37 – Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2020, 12 bottles available, $83.98 +tax 

Piro Pinot Noir Presqu’ile Vineyard 2017, Santa Maria Valley, California. This guy is going to be huge. Called “one of the most promising young American winemakers” by Vinous, Marc Piro still works at Au Bon Climat and Qupé but began using those connections to buy his own premium fruit from the valley’s best sites, and judging by how quickly it sold out in Vancouver (I think I have the last 3 6-packs of this), the reaction is electric. Marc’s Pinots balance an almost overwhelming amount of fruit weight on the head of a pin: the generous nose and palate, full of roses, forest floor, sage and lavender, lift waaay up on the juicy, rustic finish. Quite a fresh, airborne vibe on the tail end, like Californian opulence on an Oregonian structure, pretty but serious. Don’t take your eyes off this dude. 94 points Wine Enthusiast, 3 6-packs available, $79.98 +tax 

Three Sticks Pinot Noir 2019, Sonoma Coast, California. Pretty easy to craft an amazing Sonoma Pinot when you own a lot of the best vineyards. Bill Price owns Classic Wines LLC, the proprietor of iconic Sonoma terroirs such as Durell, Wilson, Dupont, One Sky and Gap’s Crown (he also owns pieces of Kosta Browne, Buccella and Kistler, but probably just to collect Air Miles), and all of those vineyards contribute to this whizz-bang 2019 cuvée that shows high tones of pink grapefruit and violets atop low tones of dry chocolate and oregano. Light-bodied but high-intensity, fresh and clean. First time in BC. 97 points Decanter, 95 points Wine Spectator, 4 6-packs available, $78.98 +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. 

Au Bon Climat “La Bauge Au-Dessus” Pinot Noir 2016, Santa Barbara, California. 93 points Wine Enthusiast, 18 bottles available, $63.98 +tax 

Hartford Court Land’s Edge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017, Sonoma, California. 96 points Wine Enthusiast, 12 bottles available, $71.98 +tax 

Penner Ash Pinot Noir 2017, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 3 cases available, $59.99 +tax 

WALT “La Brisa” Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma Coast, California. 2 cases available, $64.98 +tax 

Blank Canvas Pinot Noir 2017, Marlborough, New Zealand. 95 points Vinous, 95 points Bob Campbell, $48.98 +tax 

Hermit Ram “Zealandia” Pinot Noir 2019, North Canterbury, New Zealand. 12 bottles available, $46.98 +tax 

Stay tuned for BIG Spanish, Tuscan and Burgundy offerings in the coming weeks!! 

Until next time, Happy Drinking!!  

Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico Riserva 2018

Mentions of the historic Arceno estate date back to the year 1000 when it was cited as a small independent community located in Siena, Italy. Over the next few decades, the estate passed through ownership of two historically prominent Italian families – the Del Taja family and the Piccolomini family. In the early 1500s, it was the Tajas that expanded the estate, building the first villas on the property. In 1829, the estate was purchased by the illustrious Piccolomins who added to the grandeur of the estate by building gardens, lakes and many of the villas that still stand today. Continuing on the legacy, Tenuta di Arceno was acquired by legendary California winemaker Jess Jackson and his wife Barbara Banke in 1994.

Tenuta di Arceno has a diverse portfolio which centers around the native Sangiovese grape in the Chianti Classico collection.

A word from our Director of Buying, Dave Smith:

"With a rich and storied history, this Tuscan estate is a must try. A very modern and forward style of Chianti with deep concentration and rich, ripe fruit balanced by great structure. I get drawn to this wine every time I taste it. With a couple of hours of decanting, this wine becomes more and more expressive! Pair this with wild boar ragu or osso buco and you won’t be disappointed. Time and time again this wine has been a staff favourite. A great gift wine or treat yourself!"

92 points, James Suckling

Purchase it here.

Arguably the greatest vintage of Brunello di Montalcino ever!

Brunello di Montalcino 2016: Arguably the greatest vintage of Brunello di Montalcino ever!

 I've received quite a few bottles of the magical 2016 vintage from Brunello di Montalcino.  This vintage leaves most people speechless, regardless of personal taste. Even if you are not sure which bottle (or bottles) to get, it would be hard to go wrong with any of these excellent wines. 2016 Stands out as the strongest vintage ever in Brunello di Montalcino, a legendary vintage, thanks to a textbook growing season!

 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 2016: 

 Argiano's Brunello di Montalcino is distinguished by its elegance and its deep ruby red color. It presents a good concentration on the mid-palate and a persistent aftertaste, with a rounded and voluptuous body, and interesting, silky tannins. 97 Decanter. 

$74.99 per bottle plus tax. 

 

 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2016:  

 Incredible effort for one of the largest estates in Montalcino. This estate produces stunning wines vintage after vintage. Keep this one for at least a decade! 97 Vinous, 96 Wine Spectator. 

$84.98 per bottle plus tax. 

 

 Castiglion Del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino 2016: 

 Complexity, superb structure, and an inviting, mouth-filling palate are the hallmarks of this Sangiovese grown in the 42-hectare Capanna vineyard facing towards the Mediterranean Sea. A garnet-flecked ruby red, it releases generous, emphatic fragrances classic to Sangiovese, developing a near-endless progression notable for its beautiful balance. 97 Decanter, 99 JS. 

$95.98 per bottle plus tax. 

 We also have 6 magnums (1.5L) available of the 2016 vintage: $214.99 plus tax.

 Le Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcino 2016: 

Blended from Le Ragnaie's scattered vineyards, this provides a wide-angle snapshot of Montalcino’s varied territory, violets and Mediterranean scrub meeting wild strawberry, stone and an intriguing earthiness. It also encapsulates Sangiovese’s buoyancy, coming across as mid-weight at first then building with power as firm, dusty tannins wrap around a tangy core. The finish is energetic and uplifting - an elegantly sculpted Brunello. 

 $119.98 per bottle plus tax. 96 Wine Spectator 

 Sesti Brunello di Montalcino 2016: 

The Sesti estate's vineyards are in the enviable position of being on the southern slopes of Montalcino, where some of the most prestigious Brunello comes from. Giuseppe Sesti is considered the leading winemakers of the region. 94 Wine Advocate 

 $147.98 per bottle plus tax. 

Get to know the region: Sancerre

What is a Sancerre? My curiosity was aroused by a character in Ian McEwan’s wonderful novel Nutshell, who loves this French white. I was curious. What kind of wine was a Sancerre? And was the name that of a grape varietal or of a region? A little research on my favourite online wine source quickly set me on the right path:

“Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine grape, while Sancerre is the name of a wine region in France's Loire Valley where the white wines from are made exclusively from Sauvignon Blanc.”

https://www.winespectator.com/articles/sancerre-vs-sauvignon-blanc-wine-54733

Sauvignon Blanc is a wine varietal that many are familiar with. No country has done more to popularize this fresh and aromatic white than New Zealand. Almost everyone knows the names Kim Crawford and Oyster Bay; these Sauvignon Blancs are on restaurant wine lists and are extremely popular.  

I love the refreshing acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough region. The Marlborough has many valleys that have gravelly soils and a windy, cool climate, which results in a wine that many call herbaceous or grassy, with green pepper or even tomato notes. These wines are particularly refreshing.

In warmer climates, still in the southern hemisphere, the wine can take on very tropical notes with lots of pineapple. Everything Wine has a lovely example of this, Sunshine Bay, capturing both the tropical and the herbal notes. It’s got lime, kiwi and grapefruit flavours along with some herbs.

So why sample a Sauvignon Blanc from France? Especially one that can be significantly more expensive? (Hubert Brochard Sancerre at Everything Wine comes in at $38.98 compared to Oyster Bay at $19.99) Because the northern hemisphere’s soil and growing conditions create an amazing wine, subtle and mineral-y with less of the bold aromatics you find in the Marlborough region’s wine.

Sancerre is a region. It is located in the eastern part of the Loire Valley and is far from the ocean. The climate in Sancerre is continental, very cold winters and very hot summers. The soil is very different too: it is chalky and full of stones and little marine fossils. These differences make for a restrained, mineral-y wine not so intense and herbaceous.  Another online source I consulted says,

The classic style of Sancerre is more subtle than that of Marlborough - the wine isn't as overtly herbaceous and fruity. To achieve this, the wine is fermented at slightly warmer temperatures so that there is less retention of the intense Sauvignon Blanc characteristics.

http://www.thesommomlier.com/blog/2015/7/30/sauvignon-blanc

Do a taste test on your own. Seek out a French Sauvignon Blanc (or even a Sancerre) and, along with your favourite from NZ, sip and see if you can detect and enjoy all these differences in the taste of these refreshing white wines.

 

 

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