Everything Wine

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!

 

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 

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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