Everything Wine blog

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

Winter Wines

The winter months are made for cozy sweaters, movie marathons, and hearty homecooked meals; conveniently, these seasonal staples also pair perfectly with, you guessed it, drinking wine. So hunker down, bundle up, and stay out of the weather with a glass of one of our favourite winter wines.

First up, Shiraz. The darkest of the red wines is rich and full-bodied with powerful flavours of black fruit, spice, and herbaceous notes. The Australian variety is best described as big and bold with a high ABV (alcohol by volume) which makes it an excellent match for char-grilled steaks, BBQ ribs, and a good mystery novel.

Find our Buyer's pick for Shiraz here.

Another wintertime winner? Italian Sangiovese is known for its versatility and can vary from delicate and floral to intensely dark and tannic depending on the region. Nonetheless, it goes with all kinds of winter fare including pasta in tomato sauce, roasted veggies and an evening of takeout pizza and board games.

Find our Buyer's pick for Sangiovese here.

While white wine is primarily known as a summer drink, a rich buttery Chardonnay is next on our list. This full-bodied varietal has bold flavours of vanilla, butter, caramel and a hint of citrus and is the ideal winter sipper. Get your chef hats on, Chardonnay is delicious with sea bass, roasted chicken, or creamy pasta dishes.

Find our Buyer's pick for Chardonnay here.

Next up, Cabernet Sauvignon. We know, we know… it may be an obvious choice but a Cab at this time of year is definitely as good as it’s cracked up to be. It’s layered and complex with aromas of black pepper and flavours of red fruit and notes of herbs. Ideal for Sunday dinners with pepper steak and mashed potatoes.

Find our Buyer's pick for Cabernet Sauvignon here.

Are you the type of person who drinks Champagne year-round? Because you’re not alone. Many limit their bubbly intake to New Year’s Eve and while we agree that it’s perfect for celebrations, Champagne is actually very versatile. It’s light, refreshing and pairs with French fries, popcorn and The Bachelor.

Find our Buyer's pick for Champagne here.

Added bonus if you’re feeling adventurous: Port. There is arguably no better match for cozying up by the fireplace on one of winter’s cold dark nights than this fortified wine. Port is rich and sweet and best enjoyed with blue cheese or desserts such as crème brûlée and black forest cake.

Until spring arrives, you’ll know where to find us.

Season's Rieslings!

**A Quick Word From Your Holiday Turkey**

Gobble, everyone! Hope you’re having a gobbly-great holiday season! I’m not particularly, I’m sitting in your freezer waiting to be baked and eaten, but no hard feelings – Gobble knows if I were bigger than you and had thumbs and could recognize my own reflection, well, y’all would be on my plate too. Before all that happens, though, I’d like to ask a question that me and the other Turkeys in the yard have been wondering:

Why don’t you drink Riesling with me?

Whether it’s dry or sweet, Riesling pairs with me and my fixin’s, like gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce, in fact it’s one of the only wines that can check all of those boxes. The fruit balances the saline notes and the tartaric acid cuts through the fat. It’s so perfect it’s almost like turkeys invented it (except we woulda called it Gobble), but every Christmas y’all show up with Apothic and J. Lohr and the like… I’d shake my head disapprovingly if my neck weren’t, you know, right over there.

Riesling, folks. It’s really quite gobble.

**A Quick Word From Your Christmas Ham**

Oink, folks. I don’t often agree with my fine feathered friend there, but everything the bird just said about Riesling also applies to me. Baked ham and Riesling, guys. It’s oinking delicious.

**I am so sorry, here are some yum Rieslings**

Pegasus Bay, Waipara, New Zealand. I’m very excited to offer these unique and ultra-rare Rieslings – in fact I’m the only retailer in BC to offer these, they were imported at my request. The Donaldson family farms the vineyards in Waipara, north of Christchurch on the South Island, and differ from their Marlborough counterparts by inviting Botrytis into the mix. Often employed in sweet late-harvest and Spätlese/Auslese Rieslings, the Noble Rot concentrates the sugars in the shriveling grapes and increases phenolics, and the Donaldsons render those grapes two ways:

Pegasus Bay “Bel Canto” Dry Riesling 2017. An electric, statuesque, Botrytis-affected Riesling vinified dry, to an austere 5g/l residual sugar. Ginger, apricot and orange peel on the nose precede a stratified, richly structured body that calls to mind Smaragd Riesling from Wachau, Austria (but with way more fruit weight). The Botrytis adds waxy texture and depth, the acidity is considerable but completely in balance, bolstered by a very slight effervescence that adds the last few volts to the long finish. An altogether new Idea, I’ve never quite tasted anything like it. 95 points Cameron Douglas MS*, 94 points Bob Campbell MW*, 2 6-packs available, $59.98 +tax

Pegasus Bay “Aria” Late Picked Riesling 2016. Pushes the Pleasure Buttons faster and more frequently than a caffeinated squirrel playing Call of Duty, like someone dunked a plugged-in toaster into a Gold Capsule Auslese. Key Lime pie, jasmine and melons swirl around a lemon-yellow body of sweetness and delight. 50% Botrytis, 83g/l residual, 11% Alcohol, this is powerful, heady stuff, but the shining streak of tartaric acid saves the day and brings a fresh zing to the finish – this pairs with Foie, Crème Brulée and Stilton, not pancakes. Simply gorgeous, drink this and try not to smile, it’s impossible. 95 points Bob Campbell MW, 93 points Robert Parker, 2 6-packs available, $59.98 +tax

August Kesseler “530,3” Riesling Spätlese 2006, Rheingau, Germany. Put simply, this wine is having more fun than you. This wine is eating nougat and you are not. This wine smells like honeyed grapefruit with slate and you don’t. This wine is 13 years old and I truly hope you are not. Exclusive to Everything Wine, this is a perfectly-aged Rheingau Riesling that’s just off-dry enough to be naughty but structured enough to go a further decade if you can wait (you can’t). August Kesseler took over his family’s winery in the ‘70s and has been at the forefront of the qualitative renaissance that the Rheingau region – previously known for jug-filling – has enjoyed over the last few decades. This 2006 is a staff favourite for very good reason. 3 6-packs available, $59.98 +tax

Jim Barry “The Florita” Riesling 2018, Clare Valley, Australia. Built like an arrow, The Florita (means “wee flower”) has always been one of Australia’s Tent Pole Rieslings, showing the bright, linear purity of the Clare Valley, and serving as an antidote to the Barry family’s spine-crushing reds. Brilliant citrus and stones on the nose, business-like and fresh on the palate with a miles-long finish. Decades of cellaring potential, here, it’s like Grand Cru Alsace with blinders on. 96 points James Halliday, 6 bottles available, $71.98 +tax

Until next time, Happy Drinking!!

*Cameron Douglas MS is New Zealand’s only Master Sommelier, reviews NZ wines more than most, and should have picked a different domain name than camerondouglasms.com. Likewise, Bob Campbell is one of two NZ Masters of Wine, specialises in that country’s wines, and his domain name is fine.

Adventures in Awesome: Beautiful Barolo

Cappellano “Otin Fiorin” Pie Rupestris 2014, Serralunga d’Alba, Barolo. One of Barolo’s most renowned (and feared) traditionalists, Augusto Cappellano carries on his father Theobaldo’s commitment to terroir expression and minimal cellar interference, as well as his father’s tendency to shoo away wine reviewers who might possibly assign a numbered score to his wines. Although more challenging to other bits of the boot, 2014 gave Barolo a uniquely Burgundian vintage, and Augusto’s Pie Rupestris has heaps of elegance to match Serralunga’s famous richness. Somewhat austere on the nose but generous on the palate and finish; tar, jasmine and licorice can be found once looked for, and the finish is long and linear, 5 years should soften the brightness so we don’t have to squint, but it is actually quite lovely right now. This stuff is so hard to get a hold of, I think I’m safe to say that I have the only 3 6-packs west of Quebec? No Reviews Allowed, 3 6-packs available, $139.98 +tax

Giacomo Fenocchio 2015, Cannubi, Barolo. Holy Cheeseballs I love this wine. Another son carrying on the Pre-WW1 winemaking ethics of his dad, Giacomo’s son Claudio Fenocchio stands apart from Cappellano in his firm embrace of ripeness as a ballast, providing balance to the tannins and rustic aromatics that the Cannubi cru can infuse into Nebbiolo. Flowers, spices and orange peel wrap around the core of red cherries with a touch of vanillin, a velvety delivery precedes a somewhat crunchy finish – a few more years would be ideal here but if you’re drinking this with a protein, you won’t mind one bit. Absolutely delicious. 96 points James Suckling, 4 6-packs available, $102.98 +tax

Cascina Adelaide 2014, Barolo. An exquisitely elegant gulper. This is the entry-level Barolo for the proudly modern Cascina Adelaide, multi-Cru, multi-vineyard and multi-yum. Herbs and black olives mix with the ripe cherries and sandalwood, the demure 2014 vintage balances the fruit-positive palate with enough acidity to moderate the beautifully long finish. Will hold this level of awesome for another 8 years, but it came to party and may wonder why you didn’t. 93 points Wine Spectator, 2 cases available, $53.98 +tax

Something special for your Thanksgiving feast

SOUTHERN RHONE

Domaine Oratoire St Martin “Haut-Coustias” 2015, Cairanne. The reason you don’t think about the southern Rhone village of Cairanne much is because you’ve never tried this. Tracing their winemaking roots back to 1692, the Alary brothers are pretty much the Royal Family of Cairanne, owning the prime spots and making powerful, totemistic wines in a town known for table tipples that tend to blend into the tablecloth. The Haut-Coustias site is a 90-yr-old south-facing vineyard on a hill of chalk, a terroir quite unlike its surroundings and one of the only sites in Cairanne that can fully ripen Mourvèdre, the dark, moody grape that makes up 60% of this blend (with 20% Grenache and 20% Syrah; the Haut-Coustias’ constitution is similar to Beaucastel’s Hommage a Jacques Perrin and about a tenth of the price). Gorgeous violets and nutmeg surround plums and blackberries with a healthy dose of black pepper, boldly spicy and unforgettable. I’ll be pouring this on Saturday at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room if you want to taste for yourself. One of the better values I’ve found this season. 94 points Robert Parker, 2 cases available, $52.98 +tax

Chateau Saint-Cosme 2017, Gigondas. Continuing an unbroken legacy that almost predates the fork, the Barruol family gets back to traditional hues after two hot, climate-changey vintages and breaks out the pepper mill. Black and white pepper fold around blackberry, ginger and black olives over a fresh, vibrant frame, forged in both foudre and concrete. Silky and persistent. Grenache leads the band (70%) with Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault all playing tambourine. Probably best after a 2 years nap to let the finish integrate. There’s something so consistent and so right about Saint-Cosme, quite independent from how delicious it is: year after year it tastes like this ancient village’s natural reference point. 93 points Wine Spectator, 2 cases available, $77.99 +tax

Rotem & Mounir Saouma “Inopia” 2016, Cotes-du-Rhône Villages. The 97+pt Chateauneufs by Husband/Wife crime-fighting duo Rotem and Mounir (also of Burgundy’s hallowed Lucien Le Moine) were presented on these pages a few weeks ago, but these stellar, overachieving  CdRVs come from a rocky, nearly barren plot near Orange that was so tough to cultivate they named the wines Inopia, from the Latin meaning “made from nothing”. The Blanc is mostly Grenache Blanc with Roussanne and Marsanne, gorgeously silky with jasmine, brioche and pear notes over a robust frame with a touch of salinity. The Rouge is almost entirely Grenache with bits of Syrah and Cinsault, bright red fruits and lavender, medium-bodied and hella-versatile. I can’t stress the value of these enough: rather than a mishmash of lesser fruit (like most houses entry-levels are) these are single-vineyard expressions from one of France’s most exciting contemporary houses – Wednesday wines for the well-informed, if you will. I am in with both feet on this.
Blanc, 92 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $40.98 +tax
Rouge, 90 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $40.98 +tax

 

NORTHERN RHONE

VERTICAL: Domaine Jamet 2013, 2014 & 2015, Côte-Rôtie. You can see the Alps on a clear day from Le Vallin, the high plateau over Côte-Rôtie where Jean-Paul and Corinne Jamet make their traditionally ethereal wines (it’s also where they made their son Löic, who now works the vineyards with them). This “assemblage” cuvée, built from fruit in 15 different vineyards around the appellation, avoids destemming and sees almost no new barrels, so it’s a truth-serum Syrah, honestly and nakedly expressing the slate and granite terraced slopes of Côte-Rôtie in all their peppery, bacon-y glory. The Jamets have a devoted following worldwide, which is why it’s way-cool that I can offer the following:
Côte-Rôtie 2013, 94 points Robert Parker, 94 points Vinous, 3 bottles available, $165.99 +tax
Côte-R
ôtie 2014, 96 points James Suckling, 95 points Vinous 8 bottles available, $165.99 +tax
Côte-R
ôtie 2015, 97 points Vinous, 96 points Robert Parker, 9 bottles available $165.99 +tax

E. Guigal “La Landonne” 2014, Côte-Rôtie. The only one of the “La La”* Cote-Rôties by Guigal to not contain any Viognier, this 2014 Landonne is dark, deep, and more focused than someone jumpstarting a nuclear submarine, an impressive feat in a challenging vintage. The nose has notes of smoked meats stuffed with sage and olives, with hints of blackberries that have fallen under the grill, the deployment is smooth but the finish has notes of bar fights and leg-hold traps. This is a wine to be buried, hidden amongst the muggles until its eleventh birthday – only then can you announce that it is actually a wizard. 98 points Robert Parker, one wooden 3-pack available, $526.98 +tax

René Rostaing “La Landonne” 2015, Côte-Rôtie. Not quite as famous or historically significant as Guigal’s take on the same vineyard (Guigal put Côte-Rôtie on the map and single-handedly saved Viognier from extinction – in contrast, I just learned how to set a DVR recording from my phone), but Mr. Rostaing’s Landonne certainly approaches the Guigals in quality and longevity. Blackberry, fig, tobacco and bacon are just some of the attributes of this ever-changing nose, the palate is elegant power: it’s a medium weight at best but the intensity is almost frightening. Still several years out from true joy, but this 2015 will get there a tad quicker than other vintages. 99 points Robert Parker, 3 bottles available, $249.98 +tax

E. Guigal “Ex Voto” Blanc 2012, Hermitage. The best white Hermitage I’ve tasted besides Chave, from the Ermite and Murets parcels on Hermitage hill. Both stoic and generous, the nose teems with stone fruits, brioche, green apple, ginger and mint, omg. Beeswax and citrus deploy on palate, with that gorgeously viscous sewing-machine-oil texture and finish so prevalent in Marsanne. Drinking amazing now, drinking amazing in 15 years, all because it is made of magic. 97 points Wine Spectator, 8 bottles available, $249.98 +tax

Until next week, Happy Drinking!!

 

*The “La Las” are 3 Cote-Rôties by Guigal from 3 vineyards: La Mouline, La Turque and La Landonne, they are widely considered to be the appellation’s benchmark.

 

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