Everything Wine blog

Planet Pinot

What follows is a collection of amazing Pinot Noir from all over the globe. Since this country usually gets short shrift, alphabetically, let’s go backwards and start with: 

USA 

Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir 2018, Santa Barbara, California. A true American Classic, and a wine that has vexingly eluded me until now. Only reason this doesn’t cost twice as much as other estate-grown Santa Barbara wines is that Jim Clendenen – the law-student-shaman-Pinot-dancer who owns and runs ABC – bought all his land back when there was nothing in Santa Barbara but Ronald Reagan’s horses (Santa Barbara has since risen to produce some of California’s best Pinots and a famous Anti-Merlot movie). This is generous, evocative, balanced Pinot; as ripe as it is, it retains elegant acidity and never crosses over into Belle Glos richness. Blackberries and cloves stirred with strawberries and green tea. Fantastic Pinot, fantastic value, exclusive to Everything Wine. 2 cases available, $46.98 

DuMol Highland Divide Pinot Noir 2017, Russian River Valley, California. A worst-kept-secret house on a deliberate, deserved ascent. Concentrating on cool climate sites in Sonoma, DuMol’s Andy Smith has been quietly crafting sublime Pinots and Chards from some of the foggier nooks in the county, like the O’Connell and Coffee Lane vineyards that comprise most of this Highland Divide’s assemblage. Lavender and pine notes swirl into chocolate blackberries, a medium to full footprint, fresh finish. 12 bottles available, $134.99 +tax 

Carte Blanche Sun Chase Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma Coast, California. Nathan Allen, a descendant of Clarence Dillon (of Bordeaux First Growth Chateau Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion), worked with French/American winemaker Luc Morlet to pick prime sites in Sonoma like this high-elevation Sun Chase vineyard in the famed Petaluma Gap area in the south of the Sonoma Coast. Then he hired Helen Keplinger (2012’s Winemaker of the Year) to work her alchemy in the cellar - If this were a movie pitch it’d get greenlit in a second based on personnel alone. This 2016 is swimming in brilliant red fruit with sagebrush and violet, drinking lushly with just enough lift and tension on the mineral finish. Exclusive to Everything Wine. 95 points Jeb Dunnuck, 12 bottles available, $99.99 +tax 

Cobb Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017, Sonoma Coast, California. Classy, restrained hedonism. A study in aromatics from father-and-son team David and Ross Cobb and their family friend’s vineyard inland just south of Sebastopol. Cured meats and dried flowers surround the dried cherries and rhubarb, the body is fleshy and laced with orange peel, anise and black tea. This is a lot. The finish is long and thick, with great jolt and zing. New to B.C., imported in tiny quantities. 96 points Vinous, 95+ points Robert Parker, 6 bottles available, $134.98 +tax 

Arnot-Roberts Legan Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018, Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Childhood friends Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts grew up in the Cali wine business, Nathan as a barrel maker and Duncan making wine. The pair teamed up to make wine from micro-terroirs up and down the coast and the Legan Vineyard, in the mountains east of Monterey Bay, cools its screaming mid-day heat with breezes off the bay that allow a long, gentle autumn, letting the phenolics ripen without roasting the sugars. Strawberry, raspberry and red cherries lead, with citrus and herbal notes following suit. Nice balance, great finish, could be better in 2 years. 94 points Vinous, 6 bottles available, $119.98 +tax 

Orin Swift “L’Usine” Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills, California. Inspired by Andy Warhol and his iconic art studio The Factory, l’Usine is accordingly packaged quite artfully (theses could be written about Orin Swift’s labels) and the juice inside warrants it. Winemaker Dave Phinney isn’t trying to trick you into thinking this is anything but Californian Pinot, it’s lush and chocolatey with blackberries, dark cherries, sandalwood and a touch of dirt, with enough lift to dance lightly over a lingering finish. Sourced partially from the Sea Smoke vineyard, medium bodied with full intensity, exclusive to Everything Wine. 93 points Robert Parker, 93 points Wine Spectator, 4 6-packs available, $99.99 +tax 

Nicolas Jay Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017, McMinnville, Oregon. Bright/dark exoticism from the windy Van Duzer Corridor. Nicolas Jay is the American project of Meo-Camuzet – one of Burgundy’s forever houses – farming in one of the densest crus in the Willamette. The Momtazi vineyard was planted by Moe and Flora Momtazi, who had a long family history making wine in Iran before fleeing after the Revolution to the US. Classic McMinnville AVA severity forms the core of this crammed Pinot, with deep stone fruit alongside the cherries and roses. 95+ points James Suckling, 94 points Vinous, 6 bottles available, $173.98 +tax 

St. Innocent Zenith Vineyard 2016, Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon. A gorgeous, fruity mess. I met Mark Vlossak a few years ago, a man short in neither talent nor opinions, and in one hour I was up to speed on the geological history of the Willamette valley. Please take my word for it, the dude knows dirt. This 2016 is the second-last vintage he made from the ripe Zenith vineyard, which is a shame cuz this is a tangled feast: roses tossed with raspberries and chamomile over a spicy cherry broth. Delicious and good to go, exclusive to Everything Wine. 93 points Vinous, 2 6-packs available, $62.98 +tax 

PORTUGAL 

Casa de Saima Pinot Noir 2017, Bairrada. I can already hear the questions forming in your minds, so let me try and get ahead of this: Q: Pinot Noir? A: Yep. Q: From Portugal? A: Correct. Q: Is that normal? A: No, it’s rarely grown there, especially in Bairrada, which specializes in the dense grape Baga. Q: Why did they plant it, then? A: The French-born wife of the doctor who founded this estate decades ago only agreed to the investment if he planted a small plot of Pinot for her, so she could occasionally recharge her Frenchness, I suppose. Q: How is it? A: Killer, actually. Really good. The extraction is low and the vinification is done entirely in tank, so the expression is pure terroir, and the body and fruit intensity are pretty Burgundian, showing saline cherries, forest mushroom and licorice. Very yum, no weirdness. Q: Well hey, I’m in! How much do you have? A: I have 18 bottles available and the price is $42.98 +tax 

NEW ZEALAND 

Dog Point Pinot Noir 2008, Marlborough. As tweedy and proper as the gents who borne it. A lovely, mature back vintage from some of my favourite Kiwi producers, Dog Point’s Ivan Sutherland and James Healy (the original growers of Cloudy Bay), showing tinctured, savoury notes amongst the dried cherries, burnt orange, leather and tea notes. Quite round on palate, ambulating silkily towards a soft landing. I’ve had this Pinot young, and it’s remarkable how it seems to gain ripeness with advanced age. 6 bottles available, $107.98 +tax 

Rippon Mature Vines Pinot Noir 2016, Central Otago. This is a stark, dramatic Tolkien-esque Pinot from a steep vineyard bent over Lake Wanaka, deep in the mountains of the South Island. Schist and gravel are hard to grow in, and these 45-year-old vines (some of the first in that region) produce dense, rich berries, full of structure and longevity. Accordingly, this mighty Wine-of-Rohan is currently austere, showing subtle blackberries and licorice over a taught foundation with a complex, ferrous finish. Best to treat this like a Nuits-St-Georges and bury it for 3-4 years, this will shine in your cellar like a golden ring. 97 points James Suckling, 94 points Robert Parker, 12 bottles available, $76.98 +tax 

GERMANY 

Jean Stodden Herrenberg Frühburgunder GG 2017, Ahr Valley. Ok. This is one of those instances where I hope that I’ve built up enough credibility to ask you to just trust me: this is the most incredible, expressive Pinot that I’ve tried all year. Except it’s not a Pinot. It’s a Frühburgunder, a mutation of Pinot Noir discovered in the 1500s that lives on only in the Ahr Valley in Germany and ripens earlier than Pinot (Pinot Noir, by contrast, is called SpatburgunderSpat meaning Late). But it’s workably a Pinot, they both go to the same parties. It’s intensely fragrant (strawberry, pepper, matcha), wonderfully floral (roses, jasmine) and beautifully balanced with great acidity on the long, concentrated finish, nothing weird or rustic going on, just prettiness. Like a Willamette pinot that someone threw a lamp into. Outstanding. 12 bottles available, $105.98 +tax 

Weingut Wittmann Spätburgunder Rotwein Trocken 2017, Rhinhessen. Forget the multi-syllabic German labels, this should be called I can’t Believe It’s Not Santa Barbara!! The Wittmans have farmed near the village of Westhofen in the toasty-hot Rhinhessen since the 1600s, and although their principal grape is Riesling, they make a few barrels of this ripe, unctuous Pinot, full of black cherries, plums, blueberries and vanilla bean, with a medium-full weight. Plumply gorgeous, clean and classy. If I didn’t tell you differently, however, you’d think this was great value for a premium Cali Pinot, which is easier than negotiating those bumpy German names so I’m gonna roll with that. 12 bottles available, $40.98 +tax 

FRANCE 

Lou Dumont Bourgogne Rouge 2017, Burgundy. I have found your Turkey Wine. All the characteristics of premium red Burgundy with the shape and accessibility of Oregon Pinot. Drinks handily by itself – it’s a few clicks lower on the acid-o-meter – but will slow dance with pretty much any meal you put in front of it. I’ve featured Lou Dumont’s Chardonnays but I’ve never showcased their reds, an unfortunate oversight because they make luxurious Pinots, a tad more lush than other Burgundies, although far better known in Asia than here. Mushrooms and roses lift up the prominent red fruit on the nose – the barrel isn’t hiding and that’s dandy – towards a full-ish body and a soft finish with a wee side of vanilla. Enough quality to deserve your table, but enough value that you can watch your 19-yr-old nephew chug this and feel nothing. 5 6-packs available, $43.98 +tax 

BRITISH COLUMBIA 

One Mill Road Home Block Pinot Noir 2018, Naramata. Crescent Beach ex-pats David and Cynthia Enns, the couple who founded, then ran, then sold Laughing Stock, return to the spotlight with a single wine from a single place: One Mill Road (that’s the address). This inaugural Pinot shows off its sunny perch looking over Naramata and Okanagan Lake, exuding baked red fruits, cola and cardamom over a rather unctuous body with a toasty finish. One of the more plus-sized Pinots to emerge from BC, no doubt due to the extra hours of sunshine their higher altitude affords them, and a confident return to the ever-changing local stage. 2 cases available, $49.99 +tax 

AUSTRALIA 

Montalto Main Ridge Pinot Noir 2016, Mornington Peninsula. A beautifully exuberant Pinot from the Main Ridge vineyard, south of Melbourne. The battle between the fruit and savoury notes lifts the whole of the aromatics, but the fruit edges out a victory before the medium body deploys and the herbs come back on the finish, in an almost Campari-esque way. The oak is felt but not tasted or nosed, the fruit profile is fresh and gloriously red. Good to go. 97 points James Halliday, 10 bottles 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. 

Paul Hobbs Hyde Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Napa Valley. 94 points James Suckling, 92 points Robert Parker, 1 case available, $146.98 +tax 

Beaux Freres Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette. 96 points James Suckling, 95 points Wine Spectator, 5 bottles available, $160.98 +tax 

Hartford Court Land’s Edge Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma Coast. 94 points Jeb Dunnuck, 93 points Robert Parker, 12 bottles available, $78.98 +tax 

MEGA-ITALIA: Tuscany and Piedmont Deep Dives

You didn’t know it, but you were patiently waiting for this blog post, full of Italian treasures from Tuscany and Piedmont, with some new discoveries and some returning champions. It’s another deep dive so let’s jump right in: 

TUSCANY 

Antinori Tignanello 2017, Toscana I.G.T. The Beatles of Tuscan Wine hasn’t put out a bad album yet, even halving its production in challenging years like 2011 and 2014 to cut the chaff and retain quality, and the world’s original supertuscan continues its streak of glory with this uber-affable 2017, pulling elegant victory out of a volcano like an Opposite-Day Icarus. Unlike the wet-hamster 2014, the issue in the infernal 2017 vintage was heat, and lots of it. Adding some aromatic and oxidative Hungarian oak to the barrel program helped to temper the raging tannins that the dry year wrought, but the concentration and weight is still considerable – this may be the heaviest Tig* since 2009 – and a stratified harvest over several weeks helped preserve balancing acids and that characteristic mineral beauty. 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cab Sauv and 5% Cab Franc, this is real Tig with no caveats. I hope I bought enough. 96 points Robert Parker, 96 points James Suckling, 95 points Decanter. 5 6-packs available, $135.99 +tax 

Prima Pietra 2016, Toscana I.G.T. What a lovely find, and an amazing wine. The medieval village of Riparbella is a sparse, mostly wooded site that towers over the Mediterranean – it boasts the highest altitude of the Tuscan coast – and the adjacent Prima Pietra, owned and run by the shoemaking Ferragamo family, makes wines with the same power and structure as Bolgheri to the south, but with added finesse and lift from the elevated ferrous clay cliffs it’s perched on. Merlot-dominant with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc following suit and the same élèvage as Bordeaux, there are black cherry, plum, earth, iron and tobacco vibes over a memory-foam-bed of soft tannin. Vastly underrated, methinks. Man, I like drinking this, but so do my staff so don’t dillydally. 96 points James Suckling, 6 wooden 6-packs available, $79.99 +tax 

Volpaia Riserva 2017, Chianti Classico DOCG.  Situated north of Radda in the beating heart of Chianti Classico, Cellar-Stars don’t often come this humble or this cheap. This 2017 trades in the stark structures of the last two bonkers-accoladed vintages for radioactive intensity and rounded edges, bleeding burnt orange and pine notes over the angry cherries and Nibs. Consistent with the year, this 2017 is deeper and darker but will probably pull in to Drinkville sooner than the last two outings will. Herbal citrus notes round off the finish with magical cherries. Not sure why the Mascheroni-Stianti family continues to keep this cuvée at mid-price while they proffer way more expensive wines that are – at best – just as good as this iconic Riserva. 94 points James Suckling, 3 cases available, $49.98 +tax  

Buon Tempo 2010, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Outstanding Brunello value from a classic vintage. Buon Tempo grows exclusively in the southeast corner of the appellation - the former Tenuta Olivetti estate had grown fallow before Bordeaux producer Per Landin bought the sandstone-rich land and converted to biodynamic viticulture, renaming it and producing toasty lil’ neck-warmers from the hot lieu-dit of Castelnuovo dell’Abate. This 2010 is firing on all thrusters, showing anise-laced cherry cola, soil and clove over a security blanket of ripe Sangiovese. Quite lovely now, no need to wait. 3 6-packs available, $89.98 +tax 

Fanti Vallocchio 2015, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. A gorgeously bucolic, Old-World expression of Brunello, new to this market and worth your attention. Although the Fantis have made small quantities of wine for 200 years, their ancestral fame comes from their olive oil, which they’ve been producing since just shy of antiquity. Still a side project, this Brunello from the Vallocchio area southeast of Montalcino shows rustic game and tar over boysenberry, menthol, cherry and chocolate. Simply put, this is a lot, and the structure rhymes more with grippy Sagrantino than Sangiovese, boasting a big body and horse-drawn tannins. Drinks like a Western, which sounds strange but is actually a lot of fun, although this steed won’t tame until 2024. 97 points James Suckling, 6 bottles available, $97.98 +tax 

Casanova di Neri 2015, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. From plots northeast of the village, the Neri family’s meat-and-potatoes white label Brunello is usually a fair yardstick of the vintage writ large, and the 2015 exudes the kind of restrained power that comes from a textbook year. Just because it’s predictable doesn’t mean it isn’t amazing – the floral, violet hues wrap around the licorice tinged blueberry and bright cherries, the core is solid and the finish grips a bit (that’s not weird) but the tannins are fine and should only take 2 years or so to integrate. Tres yum. 94 points Robert Parker, 94 points Decanter, 94 points James Suckling, 9 bottles available, $106.49 +tax 

Supremus 2013, Toscana I.G.T. Although the name of this wine conjures scenes from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, it’s actually a fair moniker for this vastly overachieving Sangiovese-led blend from ripe sites between Chianti Classico and Maremma on the coast. Built by the Tuscan Sangiovese Whisperer Franco Bernabei (the guy who helped create Flaccianello and Fontalloro), Supremus is a hungry beast that time has turned velvet, rich and round, showing peppery chocolate amongst the bright red fruit and potpourri. Lovely and large. 93 points James Suckling, 18 bottles available, $49.98 +tax 

Castello Romitorio Il Toro 2016, Toscana I.G.T. Not yet in store, arriving on Friday, and I can’t wait. A blend of Petit Verdot and Syrah by the Brunello house Romitoro, Il Toro is a powder keg of spices and black fruits over a body and frame of a wine 3 times its price. Lavender and dark plums and cherry contribute to a fruit weight that balances the considerable tannins. Killer. 95 points Robert Parker, 4 6-packs arriving on Friday, $41.98 +tax 

 

PIEDMONT 

La Ca’ Nova Barbaresco. These should cost more. Like Barolo’s Conternos and Chablis’ Moreaus, Barbaresco is just crawling with Roccas, and they all make wine. Marco Rocca, however, with his father and uncles Pietro, Giulio and Franco Rocca (like I said, can’t swing a stick without hitting Rocca) takes a different approach to winemaking than most of his contempo-roccas by pretending like the last century didn’t happen. Farming hilltop vineyards that his family has owned for over a century (divided into bottled Crus below), Marco uses no new tech (besides, like, cleanliness) and lets the grapes ferment naturally in non-temperature-controlled, open barrels, stirring the juice with large wooden paddles. In less diligent hands this could be a recipe for Polyjuice Potion but Marco channels all his wizard-smarts into making clean, honest and highly-accoladed cellar-stars like: 

La Ca’ Nova Montestefano 2017, Barbaresco DOCG. Bright, focused, almost confected red fruit over a tight, sturdy frame with medicinal notes and leathery baking spice. Tough but not humourless, not unlike Joe Pesci. Window opens in 2023. 96 points Wine Enthusiast, 94+ points Vinous, 4 6-packs available, $65.98 +tax 

La Ca’ Nova Montefico Vigna Bric Mentina 2017, Barbaresco DOCG. This Cru goes deeper into the earth in every sense: more mineral, reserved and earthen, with softer plum and herbal hues with pepper on the nose. On palate, though, ka-bam. Rounder and hotter, the window opens in 2022, probably. 96 points Wine Enthusiast, 94 points Vinous, 4 6-packs available, $65.98 +tax 

Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Paje 2015, Barbaresco DOCG. Arriving on Friday. A collective of growers started by the village priest in 1958, Produttori del Barbaresco has been a benchmark of local quality in a way that most collectives usually aren’t. This Paje is a much darker Cru, with cedary black cherries and licorice, a shade heavier than most Nebbiolos with great intensity, and a welcome dash of spring flowers on the long, grippy finish. Best after 2023. 97 points Wine Enthusiast, 94 points Vinous, 2 cases arriving on Friday, $75.98 +tax 

Elio Sandri Riserva Perno 2013, Barolo DOCG. 600 6-packs made. I’ve never met Elio Sandri – I’m not sure I could, as he’s known to chase wine press off his property with a rake – but based on his wines I’m guessing I could outrun him because he’s probably too traditional to wear shoes. This is the Barolo of yore, vinified by basically waiting, with months-long whole-cluster ferments, minimal extraction and ancient oak. Farmed organically on the Perno hill, this Riserva shows floral herbs and spices over black cherries and mint, but this is a time capsule, no doubt. This wine won’t even speak English for 5 more years, but the butterfly that emerges from the cocoon with be stunning, drinking like a Barolo five times the price. Not sure what kind of silver tongue belongs to Vinous’ Antonio Galloni, but he managed to visit Elio, escape unraked, and award his first-ever numerical rating: 97 points Vinous, 1 6-pack available, $101.98 +tax 

Massolino 2016, Barolo DOCG. The descendants of Giovanni Massolino have done the old man proud, and have now crafted a 2016 that their descendants can enjoy decades from now. This entry-level (!) Barolo is a cull from the family’s various Crus across the commune of Serralunga d’Alba, and it is built like a tank – roses, cherries, cloves and ferrous notes are lovely on the nose but the body and finish are under lockdown, boasting tannins that would terrify a wolverine. Great value for cellaring; if you drink this before 2026 I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. 95 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $68.99 +tax 

Renato Ratti Marcenasco 2015, Baoro DOCG. A gorgeous La Morra Barolo, charming and perfumed with dried fruits, lavender and tar, medium-bodied and finely framed – although the grip is considerable it will abate sooner; I dare say that this 2015 – Ratti’s 50th vintage from the unofficial Marcenasco Cru – is drinking now, at least with food. Gorgeous stuff, I wish I had more. 96 points Wine Enthusiast, 95 points Wine Spectator, #27 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2019, 12 bottles available, $79.99 +tax. 

 

NON-STOP CLASSIC HITS: 

Felsina Fontalloro 2016, Toscana I.G.T. 98 points Robert Parker, 98 points James Suckling, 12 bottles available, $110.49 +tax 

Piaggia Riserva 2016, Carmigniano DOCG. Red Wine Of The Year – Gambero Rosso. 2 6-packs available, $65.98 +tax 

Terralsole Riserva 2006 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. 2 6-packs available, $121.98 +tax 

Fuligni 2012, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. 96 points Decanter, 8 bottles available, $116.49 

Argiano Solengo 2016, Toscana IGT. 99 points James Suckling, 2 6-packs available, $110.98 +tax 

Paolo Scavino Bricco Ambrogio 2015, Barolo DOCG. 97 points James Suckling, 12 bottles available, 104.98 +tax 

 

 *I was admonished for shortening Tignanello to “Tig” by Alessandro at the Tignanello tasting last year, in front of everyone gathered. Well, Alessandro isn’t here, so Tig Tig Tig Tig Tig Tig, Tiggity-Tig. 

Famille Perrin, an easy choice for the gift giving season

Of all the gifts that end up returned, exchanged or even worse, re-gifted, wine is not one of them.  Wine is always a welcome choice for gifting but finding that perfect bottle is not always an easy task… How much should you spend? What style of wine does Uncle Bill drink? What region is the best? While all those questions are of course subjective, one name does come to mind when hunting for a suitable bottle of wine that even the pickiest of wine enthusiasts will appreciate: Famille Perrin.

You may recognize the renowned Perrin name from one of their many triumphant ventures including Châteauneuf-du-Pape Château de Beaucastel, Miraval, and La Vieille Ferme among others. With roots dating back to 1909 when the Perrin family purchased Château de Beaucastel, they have since gone on to acquire vineyards in the most prestigious terroirs of France’s Southern Rhône Valley, Gigondas, Vinsobres, Cairanne and more. Celebrated for their commitment to traditional methods and deep belief in organic viticulture, the Perrin name has earned a worldwide reputation of excellence, making their wines an easy choice for gift giving.

With products ranging in price from $12.99 to $24.99 and all the way up to $89.99 and beyond, you know you can find an exceptional wine for any occasion. From well-known favourites like La Vieille Ferme and Miraval (famously co-owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who since 2012 have been producing acclaimed Provence rosé) to Everything Wine exclusives like L’Oustalet and Famille Perrin Vinsobres and Cairanne, you can’t go wrong.

Three Everything Wine exclusives to keep your eyes on are the L’Oustalet Rouge, Blanche or Rosé.

The Red Blend is quite fruity with flavours of raspberry and notes of pepper while the White is dry with hints of delicate flowers. The crisp Rosé reveals subtle notes of lemon and strawberry—the perfect trio of elegant French wines for the holiday season. Find them here.  

Other Famille Perrin favourites:

Coudoulet de Beaucastel offers outstanding value as it’s literally right across the street from Château de Beaucastel which means the wine is extremely similar but is sold at a lower price because technically it is not produced in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. Here’s a great explanation on the region from our Vintages Room consultant, Jordan.

Another fabulous option for gifting or for treating yourself is either Famille Perrin Vinsobres "Les Cornuds" Red Blend or Cairanne Peyre Blanche Red Blend.

 

 

 

 

Virtual Wine Tasting Tips!

At this time of year, our schedules would usually start filling up with Secret Santa gift exchanges, potluck dinners and corporate parties but this year, as with many things, holiday gatherings will look a little bit different. Don’t cancel your wine and cheese night, move it online instead! Hosting a virtual wine tasting on Zoom or Skype is the perfect way to celebrate the holidays with your family and friends—we’ll fill you in on a few tips for hosting a memorable evening, 2020 style!

At Everything Wine, we have a vast selection of wines to choose from so there’s something for everyone! We suggest narrowing down a theme for your virtual tasting; that could be anything from comparing bold Reds to sampling a flight of Italian Pinot Grigios, exploring Merlots from different regions or discovering unique BC styles. Not sure which direction to take? Our friendly and knowledgeable Wine Consultants can help narrow down your choices.

Gather some info on the wines ahead of time so you know the basics, know what to expect (and so you can impress your friends!) and download our wine tasting reference sheet to help guide you through the tasting like a pro! Our Buying Assistant, Lisa suggests downloading a wine aroma wheel so you and your friends can use the same vocabulary when tasting your wine. Before you start pouring, open your bottles of red wine in advance and keep your white, sparkling or rosé chilling until you’re ready to drink. Also, try to use a set of matching glasses—nice glasses will really add to the experience. Have water and a selection of snacks on hand too. Prepare a grazing board with cheese, crackers, charcuterie and fruit or turn it up a notch and order in the perfect food pairings from Door Dash or Skip the Dishes.

To make it easy for your virtual guests to get their wines, shop our website for the wines you will be tasting and share your list with your friends—they can simply add the items to their carts and choose delivery or pick up at any of our 6 locations.  Or send them to one of our stores with the list, our friendly wine experts would be happy to help them find the wines.

Happy virtual tasting, wine fans!

 

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!! 

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