Everything Wine blog

It's a Cab, Cab, Cab, Cab World!!

It’s Go Time here at Everything Wine River District, as everything that I’ve been waiting for all year has started arriving (some of it delayed out of Europe because… you know). Rather than bug you with daily emails, I’ll be sending out deep, comprehensive offers, but don’t skim over them too fast because there will definitely be things you want, herein. To begin, I present to you an immodest collection of Cabernet-based wines from around the world. Straight to the juice we go: 

AUSTRALIA 

Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2007, Margaret River. The Cab/Merlots from Western Australia’s Margaret River region have always struck me as a fairly constant paradigm: Bordeaux + Toaster. The balance is always consistent and proportional, but everything is just a little hotter and a little …more. Case in point: this … let’s say irradiant 2007 from Margaret River’s “Original 3” pioneer Voyager Estate (Jordan’s note to self: no “on fire”/”blazing”/”explosion” analogies when describing buzzworthy wines from Aus. or U.S.), showing a core of cassis and black tapenade under some slight wood notes and balanced tertiary aromas. Smells like a Left Bank but drinks like a Right Bank, rich and well put together, absolutely killer value. 96 points James Halliday, 12 bottles available, $89.98 +tax. 

Hickinbotham “Trueman” Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, McLaren Vale. Sourced from the high-ish altitude Clarendon vineyard (planted in 1971) which used to go into Grange, and made by guest winemaker Chris Carpenter from Napa’s Cardinale (I met Chris last year and everything you’ve heard about the moustache is real). A neat mix of sweet fruit notes and herbaceous aromas populate the jam-packed nose: mint, cocoa, blackberries and cedar, this has a serious structure and texture, setting it well apart from many McLaren Vale glug-fests (not that I’m against those). Boasts none of the flavours of Cardinale but all of the longevity, I don’t mean to keep ringing the Value Bell, but ding-ding-ding. 94 points Wine Spectator, 18 bottles available, $91.98 +tax 

BRITISH COLUMBIA 

Black Hills Nota Bene 2018, Black Sage Bench, Okanagan Valley. There has been even more buzz for this particular vintage of B.C.’s Cult Wine than the usual deafening amount, not necessarily because it’s the 20th anniversary of Nota Bene, but because it’s the first vintage shepherded by their new whizz-bang winemaker Ross Wise, one of the few Masters of Wine with actual skin in the game. 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc 1% Petit Verdot, with familiar but refined notes of black fruit, instant coffee and sage over a deep, tense frame. This is a step up. We are still two years out from the drinking window but who am I kidding? Nobody listens. Peeps are gonna buy it all and drink it immediately and love it then ask me for more, but I’ll be sold out and all I can do is shake my head and sigh disapprovingly like the little pig who built the house out of bricks. 8 cases available, $61.98 +tax 

CHILE 

Don Melchor 2017, Puente Alto. The top of the Chilean Cabernet Pyramid still belongs to this iconic flagship from Concha Y Toro, here celebrating its 30th vintage with this gorgeous 2017. That Don Melchor retains its throne despite other stellar Chilean Cabs rising to challenge it (and Santiago’s suburban sprawl now surrounding its single vineyard) is testament to the enduring partnership of winemaker Enrique Tirado and his Bordeaux Buddy Eric Boissenot, oenologist and consultant to 4 out of the 5 Bordeaux First Growths. Every year Enrique visits Bordeaux, barrel samples in tow, and he and Eric pick the Don Melchor blend out of the different parcels, and I guess some of those parcels are planted to blackcurrants because OMG. The Cassis notes drive, ride and fix the bus. Pencil shavings, crushed rocks and plums round out the nose – if it sounds like I’m describing Left Bank Bordeaux, that’s because it’s their North Star. A contemporary classic, first time in several years I’ve managed to land any. 99 points James Suckling, 95 points Wine Spectator, 3 wooden 6-packs available, $150.49 +tax  

FRANCE 

Pauillac de Latour 2014, Pauillac, Bordeaux. The 3rd wine to First Growth Chateau Latour is a love letter to Pauillac and a distillation of sheer expertise. Blackberry compote stirred with graphite then stuffed into a cigar box with a few bay leaves, over a medium frame held up by minimal, classic structure. 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot, it’s a junior version of the Grand Vin but drinking now, and as textbook a version of Pauillac as can be found. Delicious with a capital Yum, and one of the best deals for premium Bordeaux in my store. 18 bottles available, $168.98 +tax 

USA  

Ashes & Diamonds Cabernet Franc 2014, Napa Valley. A hidden treasure of elegance and restraint from a region that has misunderstood and mishandled this grape for decades. “Why can’t you go play football and shoot rabbits like your big brother Cabernet Sauvignon”, Napa would say to Cabernet Franc. “Why do you always stay inside and paint pictures of flowers all day?” Napa would then force little Cab Franc to dress and act like Cab Sauv and the results were weird and wrong, as if someone put machine guns on a swan. Steve Matthiasson, however, treats his Franc like a Franc, and this is a stunningly gorgeous expression of the grape from Los Carneros (near the bay), showing herbaceous red fruit over a peppery frame with a touch of Old World funk on the long, velvet finish. Drinking wonderfully now with no caveats, although I’d love to follow its development over a decade. 12 bottles available, $112.98 +tax. 

Neal Family Vineyards “Rutherford Dust” Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Rutherford, Napa Valley. Planted in 1970, Rutherford Dust is one of the rare Valley Floor vineyards for the Neal family, who tend to favour the mountains and hills (like bears). The emblematic Neal structure and finesse is clear and present, however, in this timeless 2013, with perhaps a tad more weight around the middle (not that I know anything about that). Beautiful balance between the spicy sandalwood notes and the chocolate-covered blackcurrants, with wisps of menthol and coffee surrounding the finish. The “dust” in the vineyard name refers to the coarse, crunchy tannins that the plot is known for producing, but time has softened them to now support the body, not overthrow it. This is selling for about $40 cheaper than before. 12 bottles available, $125.98 +tax 

Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Napa Valley. Chuck Wagner doesn’t have a family crest but if he did it would be a giant barrel shooting lasers out of its eyes (this barrel has eyes, fyi) whilst it stomps over hordes of fleeing grapes. Admirably unafraid of oak and physics, his 2016 is perhaps the apotheosis of the Caymus ethic: bigness for the sake of awesome, a powerhouse Cab that probably has structure, but who can tell? Like Shafer Hillside Select, this ages by dint of concentration – and age it does, I was lucky enough to drink a 2005 of this not long ago. Intense blackberries rule the court with caramelized figs, cedar and dusty spice. The only wine to place at the top of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 twice, although this vintage isn’t yet rated… 1 6-pack available, 199.99 +tax 

Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Santa Cruz Mountains. Such a lovely Cab, and I get so little. The mighty Monte Bello vineyard was first planted in the late 19th century, before Prohibition forced the owners to abandon it a few decades later. When Ridge acquired and replanted it in the 1960s, they began to notice that some of the new blocks produced a rounder, more immediately accessible Cab than was desired for the iconic Monte Bello bottling, so Paul Draper began to sequester those blocks into this compulsively gulpable Cab, although the winemaking is similar in the two labels: a hands-off “pre-industrial” ethic and the ultra-rare practice of using nearly 100% American oak instead of French (almost all Napa Cab is aged in French oak). This 2017 matches its cassis and blueberry with equal measures of cola, anise and violets. Predictably delicious. 18 bottles available, $99.99 +tax 

DeLille Chaleur Estate 2014, Red Mountain, Washington. So glad I could nab one more 6-pack of this outstanding 2014 Chaleur, one of Washington’s most egregiously unsung Bordeaux blends. Cab driven with Merlot, Franc and Petit Verdot in supporting roles, showing licorice, coffee and cloves around the striking red fruit, this is plush but still quite tannic, I’d cellar this as if it were a 2014 Left Bank, another 4 years should do the trick? 6 bottles available, $130.98 +tax 

Mettler Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Lodi, California. The last one I’ll leave you with today is an uber-tasty little gem from Lodi, one of the last regional bastions of value in premium Cali Cabs. It’s so hot in Lodi that CCR wrote a song about being stuck there, but that’s great news for Cab drinkers cuz these wines have built-in body, always drinking big and bold, if sometimes at the expense of nuance (but there are lots of Nuance Shmuance drinkers out there - you know who you are). The Mettler family is one of the largest landholders in Lodi (if this was the Middle Ages they’d be knights), and their son David does double duty both in his family’s cellars and at the local behemoth Michael David. Dark cherry, cola, cedar and fig on both nose and palate, it seems like it’s heading towards a big boozy mess but then lifts up on the surprisingly bright finish. Quite lovely and well balanced, vintage after vintage. 92 points Wine Enthusiast, 24 bottles available, $43.98 +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. 

Continuum 2016, Napa Valley. 100 points James Suckling, 99 points Robert Parker, 1 wooden 6-pack available, $374.98 +tax (bottle price) 

Raymond Generations Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley. 98 points Robert Parker, 12 bottles available, $139.99+tax 

Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Napa Valley. 96 points Robert Parker, 9 bottles available, $187.98 +tax 

Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Napa Valley. 98 points James Suckling, 97 points Robert Parker, 1 bottle available, $917.98 +tax 

Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley. 96 points Robert Parker, 94 points Wine Spectator, 9 bottles available, $202.98 

Chateau Leoville Las Cases 2009, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux. 99 points Robert Parker, 99 points James Suckling. 3 bottles available, $608.79 +tax 

Until next time, Happy Drinking!! 

US Wildfires

Once again, smoke from the U.S. has reached Vancouver. I actually wrote a bunch of jokes about it, but then I opened up some news stories about what’s happening in California’s wine regions and promptly deleted them. As belligerent as the smoky air can look and feel for us, the folks in Napa/Sonoma have it much, much worse: 

-Calistoga and parts of St. Helena have been evacuated; 80,000 people across Sonoma and Napa are displaced. 

-La Perla, Cain, Castello di Amorosa, Fairwinds, Sterling, Duckhorn, Meadowood, Boswell, Burgess, Hourglass, Newton and Spring Mountain wineries have sustained either partial or complete damage to their facilities and/or vineyards. This is an incomplete list and it grows by the hour. 

-The Glass Fire, responsible for much of the destruction, is 5% contained as of this morning. 

-The areas of the coast west of the Cascades: Seattle, Portland, Willamette valley (and us) are smoky again while east of the Cascades (where Washington state grows most of its grapes) has seen some clearing. 

I’ve started getting a lot of questions about how the wildfires will affect the 2020 harvest in the wine regions up and down the west coast, and the short answer is: I dunno. We’ve never seen a scenario quite like this. The situation is still active and some heartbreaking decisions are being made as we speak - even more grape growers are delaying those decisions as long as possible, waiting for rain that isn’t historically due to arrive until well after Hallowe’en. Everyone’s focus has obviously and rightly been on getting folks to safety and finding the too-large number of missing people, but at some point the thousands of people in the Washington, Oregon and California wine industries will need to take stock of what this year has wrought, and choose what kind of wines they’ll be able to make, if any. 

In 2017, when similar fires beset Napa and Sonoma, they happened later in the year, after our Thanksgiving, when everything besides some late-hanging Cabernet Sauvignon was off the vine and in some stage of fermentation. Vineyards were singed around the edges but they aren’t conduits for fire in the same way that dry forests are, so the spread was limited, and since the smoke only landed on scarce parcels of Cab, the main risk for producers was their power getting shut off in the middle of the winemaking process. Although there was, at the time, a run on Napa wines in stores (which left me baffled because we were selling mostly 2014s at the time and smoke can’t time-travel), the risk to the harvest was much smaller than the panic, and although the human and property costs were unacceptably high, the great Cabs, Chards and Pinots we’re now seeing from that vintage would indicate that it was, in terms of quality of wine, a bullet dodged. 

Not this year. Although some Napa and Sonoma houses have already picked their whites, a plurality of red grapes are still on the vine amidst the blaze. I know of several Napa wineries who haven’t sustained damage but are leaving all their grapes on the vine and sitting this vintage out, not only for safety reasons but also because the vines have been marinating in smoke for too long. In Oregon’s Willamette valley, harvest is underway under a haze, with the very real risk of the ensuing wines suffering smoke taint. 

And what’s smoke taint? Put simply it’s the real risk of a whole year of a winery’s output smelling like a hot dog. Put less simply, it’s when the volatile phenols in wood smoke permeate grape skins and bond with the sugars; once bonded they stop being volatile which means – and this is key – you can’t smell them in the juice. The smoky smells only reveal themselves after fermentation or worse, after bottling, so it’s a Trojan horse in a very real way. There are some tests to detect the smoky/sneaky glycosides in California and Australia (the Aussies are sadly experts on all things Fire) but they’re expensive and imperfect. 

The decision to make wine or walk away will be made independently at each winery, likely hinging on the amount of time their vines sat in smoke. The length of exposure seems to be a determining factor when it comes to taint, just like the sun’s effect on people: the longer you’re in it the stronger the damage (although when you’re as pale as me, you can get sunburns from proximity to Bic lighters). Rainfall after smoke contact can also reduce the permeation, although there has been precious little of that down south. If a winemaker can’t afford a taint test, they can try to gauge how many days their vineyards were hazy and roll the dice, or walk away. 

I wish I had a silver lining to tell you about, especially since this is only one of many recent gut punches that the U.S. west coast wine regions have endured the last few years. After enjoying a 5-year golden run from 2012-2016 where the drought made quality high but quantities low, conditions since then have created surpluses whilst trade wars and pandemics have shrunk markets. The only good news I’ve got is that it’s not over – it’s plausible that certain crops like late-ripening thick-skinned Cabernet Sauvignon could ride this out if conditions improve. Fingers crossed. 

There are so many people to keep in our thoughts this year that it can seem too hard to fit more in, but do spare some empathy to our southern winemaking neighbours, raise a glass and keep drinking their wines, they need it now more than ever. 

Continuing this idea, here are some thoughts from  Quinot Matthee, Everything Wine Langley.

Dining out at a restaurant, visiting your favourite wine store, or having a weekend trip to a winery is a completely different experience than it was a year ago. We've all had to adapt to a "new normal" this year.  Wineries in North America are beginning to harvest, checking for signs of smoke taint, while thousands of firefighters are battling raging record-breaking fires in California, Oregon, and Washington. The potential impact of smoke is currently unknown, only time will tell. Winemakers are optimistic that 2020 will produce high quality wines. Wineries that remain wildfire-free definitely dodged a bullet. Harvest is always about perfect timing, and this year will be even more crucial when to pick. Some wineries will be forced to leave their grapes on the vine and skip the 2020 vintage altogether, but most wineries are not writing off this vintage. Wines affected by smoke taint are not harmful to drink, they are just not pleasant.

Wineries are doing virtual tastings to help stop the spread of Covid-19. Stay tuned for some great virtual tastings here at Everything Wine as well! And we are looking forward to the day that we can once again host you in person at one of our stores for a tasting or classroom event (TBD).

Cheers to front line workers, thanks for everything you do!

Back Up The Truck! 99pt "Tuscan Amarone" for $60!

All technology looks like magic until you understand it. The act of turning grapes into wine pivots on the process of fermentation, a step that can happen spontaneously and looks exactly like a miracle when you can’t see the wee yeast beasties floating in the air that made it possible.  

Which isn’t to say that people didn’t use yeast, they did so obliviously all the time. The foam from fermenting beer was used to rise bread; crushed Roman grapes in an amphora eventually started to bubble in a way that resembled boiling – in fact the term fermentation comes from the Latin fevere: to boil. They knew the how but not the why, and wouldn’t truly understand until Louis Pasteur identified the mechanics of how yeast cells multiply in 1857. Until then: magic. 

The Renaissance-era Florentines were feeling mighty magical when they came up with a fix for inconsistent vintages in Tuscany. In the 1400s (when the world was cooler), using the crush-and-wait approach made your nascent wine vulnerable to the temperature swings of autumn, if you had a warm fall the yeasts would thrive and eat up all the yummy sugars, producing a drier wine (still a bit sweeter than today’s standards). A cool autumn made fermentation take way longer and could even make the yeasts go dormant, leaving elevated sugars in your accidentally sweet wine. To the entrepreneurial Florentines, who were making large coin exporting Chiantis to Europe with their new snazzy Sangiovese grape, this was a big marketing problem: how could your consumer trust your wine when they never knew how sweet it was gonna be? 

The fix they came up with was called the Governo method, and it would be used all over Tuscany and beyond until the advent of electricity. It goes like this: you do your regular vineyard harvest, but reserve a couple rows to let the fruit hang and ripen until it just about falls off the vine. You do your standard crush and ferment (but you don’t inoculate because you don’t know about yeast yet), but as the fermentation slows down (“stuck” in winemaker parlance) you pick and crush the remaining grapes (at this point semi-dried and hella sweet) and add the juice to the mix, reviving and strengthening the yeasts and resulting in a stronger, drier wine, lower in acid and consistent year after year. 

Modern Tuscan winemakers can control their ferments with a temperature dial, so the Governo method is nearly extinct, but there are a few renegade producers experimenting with it, particularly Andrea Valiani and his son Marco of Terrescure, a relatively young, upstart winery (although Andrea has been in the wine business his whole life). My “Back Up The Truck” wine today is their Lotto Unico 2016 Toscana IGT, a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot that I’ve been calling the “Tuscan Amarone”. 

To be clear: there’s no such thing as Tuscan Amarone. Amarone is only found further north in Valpolicella near Verona (and the Tuscans would argue that the Governo method predates Amarone by centuries). It is a helpful shorthand, though, to describe this rustic beast, a throwback to pre-industrial styles of Italian wine mixing raisinated grapes into the heady brew of roasted plums, mocha and caramel apple. Because the ancient Governo process is by nature oxidative, there’s also a soft basalmic quality on the nose, before unfolding into a full body (but not as heavy as Amarone) and a two-minute finish. The dried grape addition puts the sweetness slightly above Amarone levels (15g/l compared to 12g/l), drier than many Californian reds but sweeter than most bone-dry modern Tuscan wines; on average, wines have never been drier than they are today, and Lotto Unico is a nostalgic homage to a different age when sweetness, not ubiquitous as it is today, was considered a luxury. 

This is a wine for the end of the evening or the beginning of one, on a patio, with or without food (although I could destroy a burger with this, and great, now I’m hungry), and it’s a way-cool glimpse into the history of winemaking and the styles of yesteryear. I wish I had more...

Terrescure Lotto Unico 2016, Toscana I.G.T. 99 points Luca Maroni, 8 6-packs available, $59.98 +tax 

Until next time, have a great weekend, stay safe, and Happy Drinking! 

 

POSTSCRIPT: I know that the word “sweet” is the opposite of a safe-word for many wine drinkers, so I just wanted to give some context as to the residual sugar levels of a few popular wines. The antiquated 00-0-1-2-etc. dryness scale describes the impression of sweetness, which can be slewed by glycerine, acids and tannins (Coca-Cola famously hides its 39 grams of sugar per can behind a hefty dose of phosphoric acid – Apothic Red can appear dry to some because it balances its 19g with stemmy tannins), it is much more helpful to show the actual sugar content: 

Tignanello: 0.75g/l
Chateau de Beaucastel: 4g/l
Purple Angel: 4g/l
Kendall Jackson Chardonnay: 7g/l
The Prisoner: 8g/l
Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon: 9g/l
Belle Glos Pinot Noir: 10g/l
Masi Costasera Amarone: 10g/l
Brut Champagne: up to 12g/l
Lotto Unico: 15g/l
Apothic Red: 19g/l
Dr. Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling: 44g/l
Taylor Fladgate Tawny 10yr Port: 112g/l
Jackson-Triggs Vidal Icewine: 225g/l 

Summer Saga VI: Only the Rhone-ly

I hope everyone has had a safe summer, full of friends, family, food and wine, and perhaps you’ve explored new pockets of our amazing province, since… you know. I also hope you’ve enjoyed these overlong emails as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. Alas, our Summer Saga is coming to a close, but I’ll soon send a recap of all of the wines still in stock in case you missed them. This week, I present a brisk collection of wines from the Rhone Valley. To the juice: 

NORTHERN RHÔNE 

J.L. Chave “Farconnet” Hermitage 2015. There have been Chaves making wine on Hermitage hill since before the days of Christopher Columbus – in fact the Chaves could credibly change their last name to “Syrah” since they are the family with the longest proximity to that grape, which comprises the entirety of this bold 2015 Hermitage. Bucking the trend of bottling single-cru wines, Jean Louis Chave continues his namesake’s blending talents, here merging estate fruit with grapes purchased from lieu-dits all over the wee hill (Les Diognières, Les Greffieux, Péléat), constructing a robust (but quite glugable) Hermitage with heightened aromatics of dark berries and licorice over an understated but ever-present structure, a result of spending 2 years in old oak. Newcomers to Hermitage will appreciate the welcome mat, old dogs like me can’t but marvel at the sheer precision of the work. Selling at a reduced price, the previous price was over $100. 94 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $81.98 +tax 

Domaine Barge Côte Blonde Côte Rôtie 2016. The Côte Blonde has traditionally been the more elegant half of the wee Côte Rôtie AOC, tilted steeply over the village of Ampuis, where the Barge family has been weaving silk from that vineyard since 1860. Young Julien Barge has moved operations firmly into the Organic/Druid column, reducing sulphur and sprays and using whole cluster ferments of Syrah with 5% Viognier (which always punches above its percentage). Mediterranean savoury notes blend with subtle red fruits and plums, perched atop a medium-plus body and fine tannins. I’d like the acidity to integrate a bit better – a two or three years nap should accomplish this – but this is a stunningly pure example of Blonde, and should cellar accordingly for two decades quite easily. First time in BC for this Cru.  96 points Wine Spectator, 6 bottles available, $159.98 +tax. 

Tardieu-Laurent Vieille Vignes Côte Rôtie 2017. Only 350 6-packs made, I have two of them. A blend of the oldest vines from three Côte Brune crus: La Landonne, Lancement and Chavaroche, at least so says Tardieu-Laurent’s cryptic website, which gives the strong impression that they gave the wine to a hallucinating garden snail, then somehow google-translated his observations verbatim right on to the webpage. I would have translated your copy for a case of wine, guys! Heck, I’d have done it for just one bottle of this godly Syrah: almost Jamet-like in frame with a very un-Jamet-like fruit profile of rich cassis and herbs. Although not quite as wood-positive as he used to be, Michel Tardieu isn’t afraid of barrels and even the scaffold-y structure is softened and lifted by the modern élevage. Big and bold – a fantastic Syrah. 96 points Wine Spectator. 96 points Decanter, 2 6-packs available, $118.98 +tax

Guigal Condrieu 2016. If 3 dozen aromatic flowers sprang to life and started preparing you a fruit salad you’d probably freak out, but somehow when Guigal does it it’s ok? The Guigal family holds about 40% of the vineyards in the tiny region of Condrieu, normally this would seem kinda greedy but it’s forgivable when you consider that their family is responsible for saving the region – and indeed the Viognier grape itself – after the Germans tried to destroy the vineyards along their retreat in the final days of WW2 (I get that “erasing a grape variety” is low on a list of legit grievances against the Nazis, but still. Jerks.). Decadently constructed (about 1/3 stayed at Hotel Barrique with 2/3 in stainless) and ridiculously opulent, this Viognier fires tropical fruits out of a T-shirt Cannon with tangerine and melons crashing into pineapples and cream. A full, dry body, drinking beautifully now. 94 points Wine Spectator, 12 bottles available, $83.98 +tax.

SOUTHERN RHÔNE 

Domaine Raspail-Ay Gigondas 2016. Unlike many diversified Rhone wineries with thumbs in many pies, the Ay family – now run by seventh-generation Christophe and Anne-Sophie – only makes Gigondas, and unlike many local growers who step over each other to plant the highest vineyards above the town, Raspail-Ay works entirely on the hot valley floor, where they crank out naughty, boozy, truly outrageous Giggy year after year. This 2016 is barely constrained by the tight mineral structure, the fruit is open for business, happily swimming in chocolate lakes with cherry canoes pushed by herbal paddles. Floral notes surround the nose and the intensely concentrated body is actually a bit lighter than you’d expect, with an energetic finish. Good times. 95 points Vinous, 95 points Decanter, 2 cases available, $44.98 +tax 

Domaine le Colombier Vieille Vignes Vacqueyras 2015. I understand that anointing a wine the “Best Vacqueyras” can sound like giving an award for “World’s Best Beige”, but this 100-year-old vine, concrete-aged expression of the village (pronounced Vack-Ay-Rass) is heaps better than the output of many other villages too. Drinking like Southern-Rhone-by-way-of-Mendoza, there is a palpable energy coursing through the black fruits and gravel on the nose and body, followed by the expected herbal finish and unexpected exclamation point. The Moure family have specialized in Vacqueyras since the early 1960s and farm the town’s oldest vineyards (replanted just after Phylloxera), bottled here in, yes, the Best Vacqueyras (that I’ve found, at least). 94 points Robert Parker, 4 6-packs available, $40.98 +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. 

Domaine Jamet Cote Rotie 2014. 96 points James Suckling, 95 points Vinous, 8 bottles available, $165.98 +tax

Guigal La Landonne Cote Rotie 2014. 99 points Jeb Dunnuck, 98 points Robert Parker, 3 bottles available, $499.99 +tax 

Ferraton Lieu-dit Patou Cornas 2013. 94 points Wine Spectator, 10 bottles available, $69.98 +tax 

Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2017. 95 points Wine Spectator, 95 points Decanter, 3 cases available, $89.99 +tax 

Chateau de Beaucastel “Hommage a Jacques Perrin” 2014. 96 points Robert Parker, 3 bottles available, $425.99 +tax 

Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2017. 95 points Robert Parker, 95 points Jeb Dunnuck, 2 cases available, $68.99 +tax 

Roger Sabon Reserve Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012. 94 points Wine Spectator, 2 cases available, $69.99 +tax 

Haute Marone Gigondas 2013. 91 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $49.99 +tax 

 

Until next time, Happy Drinking! 

Think inside the box: the benefits of boxed wines!

The idea of drinking wine from a box may bring up memories of your college years and it’s true, early boxed wine may have been predominantly appealing for its affordable reputation but it has come a long way in terms of quality and selection! Now, boxed wine is popular with enthusiasts and newbies alike!

Many of us view boxed wine as being of lesser quality compared to their glass bottled counterparts but in reality, both boxed wine and bottled wine have the potential to be high quality. A great example of high quality offerings are from Bota Box, a company that produces boxed wines exclusively, many of which have been recognized by the highly acclaimed magazine, Wine Enthusiast.

Early versions of boxed wines lacked the technology to keep rich flavours more often found in a bottle but now, a bib, a food grade polyethylene plastic (which holds the wine within the box) has no influence on the taste of the wine and is also the safest, most non-toxic plastic available.

This bib is airtight which means that an opened boxed wine can last up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator versus a bottle of wine which only has a shelf life of a few days. In addition to keeping the wine fresh for longer, these bibs and the boxes they come in are easier on the environment as they cost less energy to produce, can be recycled easier than glass, and cost less to ship. And we haven’t even talked about the value yet!

An average box of wine will give you the equivalent of 4 bottles and can be sold at a low price because expensive materials like glass and cork aren’t needed! Not to mention they definitely earn high scores in the convenience department! A large format box of wine is lighter than 4 bottles, is an ideal choice for camping, taking to beaches, or enjoying on a boating trip. Remove the wine from the outer box and store in a cooler for the ultimate in portability!

Have we convinced you yet?

For arguments sake, let’s look at typical negative attributes to boxed wine. One trait is that they don’t have the ageing potential as some bottled wines do; most red wines in a box can only be kept for up to 1 year unopened. While we definitely appreciate a beautiful fine wine that can be cellared for upwards of ten years, the majority of wine that we buy is meant to be enjoyed within a few days of purchase—no need to wait! Another point to be made is that there is far less of a selection of boxed wine than bottled wine; however, more and more high quality boxed wines are being produced every year and Everything Wine is determined to carry as many of them as possible so the choices are becoming greater!

So now it’s up to you – would you bring home a boxed wine from your next shopping trip? If you are looking for a place to start, we put together a list of ones we highly recommend:

Black Box Pinot Grigio 3L

Clean, light and straightforward, this medium- bodied wine has mild melon and apple flavours and a rather soft texture.

Apothic Red Blend 3L

Layers of dark fruit are complemented by hints of vanilla.

Hester Creek Cabernet Merlot 3L

Loaded with plum, currant and spicy notes.

Domaine de Chaberton White Blend 4L

A crisp dry wine with aromas of zesty citrus, and an intense palate of lemon, green apple and gooseberry.

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