Tagged with 'Everything WIne Expert Picks'

Planet Pinot II

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

AUSTRALIA 

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

FRANCE 

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

GERMANY 

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

NEW ZEALAND 

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

SOUTH AFRICA 

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

USA 

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

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

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

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

NON-STOP CLASSIC HITS 

What follows is a brief listing of some wines that fit this theme and have previously been written about, but featured again for the benefit of those who’ve recently joined my Collectors List and may have missed ‘em the first time. If anyone requires more info, I’m happy to send over the original blurb to you. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, Happy Drinking!!  

Langley Vintages Room New Arrivals and Familiar Classics

Wine Enthusiasts, we received fantastic new vintages of familiar classics and some new additions!

Belong Wine Co. Chasing the Sun 2019 Rosé:

Tasting Notes: Grapefruit, blood orange, jasmine, lavender, herbs de Provence and sage on the nose. On the palate, loads of citrus, orange blossom and salinity. Begging for a beach or mountain top - pairs incredibly well with sunsets.

Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Grenache blend. Eldorado County, Napa. Only 5 barrels produced.

Belong Wine Co Rose

$41.98 per bottle plus tax.

Belong Wine Co. El Dorado County Mourvèdre 2018: 

Tasting Notes: Blackcurrant, dark raspberry, tea leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, white pepper, rosemary, sage, and fennel. On the palate the initial burst of bright red fruit, spice and paprika. A very fresh finish.

Only 5 barrels produced. 75% whole cluster and neutral French Oak. 

Belong Wine Co El Dorado

$57.98 per bottle plus tax. 

About the Winery: Belong Wine Co. was founded in 2017 to celebrate everything founders Alli and Bertus van Zyl are passionate about. Pulling from their field journals, the Belong Wine Co. label represents their fascination of the outdoors and drinking wine in the wilderness. The company also serves as members of 1% for the planet, meaning at least one percent of their yearly profits is funneled to environmental causes. A simple and endearing mission, the van Zyls hope their wine inspires people to go out and do what they love, always with a bottle of wine in tow.

Psi 2017 Ribera Del Duero: 

Tasting Notes: Made by Peter Sisseck of the coveted Pingus! Sisseck is the producer of the most expensive of all Spanish wines, the legendary Pingus.  Gorgeous black cherries, blackberries and black truffles on the nose, following through with balanced fruit, and fine tannins. 94 Points James Suckling.

Psi Ribero

$65.98 per bottle plus tax. 

Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard 2016: 

Tasting Notes: A very good vintage in Napa. Freemark Abbey has held exclusive sourcing rights to the Sycamore Vineyard since 1980; the vineyard consistently produces one of Freemark Abbey's acclaimed Cabernets.

Located on the famed Rutherford Bench, adjacent to the Staglin Family, To Kalon, Heitz Bella Oaks and Harlan Estate vineyards. 95 Points Wine Enthusiast.

Freemark Sycamore

$134.98 per bottle plus tax.

Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Napa 2018: 

Tasting Notes: The Stags Leap District comprises some of the most coveted vineyard land in the world for Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine showcases the region's singular ability to produce Cabernets of lush texture and tremendous ageability. 94 Points Wine Enthusiast.

Chimney Rock

$147.99 per bottle plus tax.

Fontodi Flaccianello Della Pieve 2017: 

Tasting Notes: Flaccianello Della Pieve is the result of a selection of the finest Sangiovese grapes which come from the best vineyards of Fontodi and are grown with only natural methods. The vineyards are located in the " Conca d'oro " of Panzano in Chianti, a magnificent natural amphitheater blessed with a unique microclimate and dominated but thousand-year-old Parish Church of San Leolino a Facciono. Definitely one of the standout wines of the 2017 Vintage! A stellar wine that needs time!

One of my all-time favourite Italian producers. 97 Points Vinous, 96 Points Wine Advocate.

Fontodi

$165.99 per bottle plus tax.

Cheers,

Quinot

 

Prices are per bottle and do not include bottle deposits or taxes

Prices as of publication date

Tips and Tricks for attending the Vancouver International Wine Festival

Like many of you, I’ll be attending the Vancouver International Wine Festival this week, and although the smaller, more specialized seminars are heaps of fun, the main draw for me has always been the Festival Tasting on the Convention Centre floor, where so many of the world’s wineries converge to pour their particular brands of awesome sauce. To extract the most enjoyment out of any festival-style tasting, for yourself and others, it’s always helpful to remember these fun, simple tips:

DO Check out the Feature Country. You’re here to explore and discover new wines, so don’t make a beeline to the stuff you already know. This year’s feature is California, and although many of the wineries coming have good exposure in BC already, they’re likely bringing juice that you can’t get here, so be sure to check them out. Already made up your mind about California? I bet there are one or two wines on the floor that may change that (hint: it rhymes with Shmenache).

DON’T Wear Fragrances. We can all smell amazing, but everyone came to sniff good wine, not perfume/cologne/aftershave. Nothing roils a wine geek more than finding that the Petit Sirah they’ve waited for weeks to try shows notes of Axe Body Spray.


DO Spit.
The spittoons are there to help. There are hundreds of wines being poured and you aren't magic. Remember that they can’t legally serve you if you’ve rendered yourself liquid, so staggering up to a booth saying “gimme moas shpensive one” won’t produce the desired result, and getting kicked out of Wine Fest isn’t classier than getting ejected from The Roxy. Or so I'm told.

DON’T Sport Spit. We’ve all seen those dudes who can hit the spittoon from 20 paces away, like a llama. Please don’t try to do that. If you fail, it’s a disaster. If you succeed, it’s still really weird. Get a new superpower.

DON’T be a Booth Hog. There are probably lots of folks behind you, so when you finally get up to your desired booth, it’s not the best time to start telling the winemaker about the time you went to this winery and it was great but there was this dog there and you like dogs but you saw almost the exact same dog earlier in the city with a white patch on the left eye instead of the right eye but come to think of it that could be because of the mirror. Get your glass filled and then step to the side to let others get theirs, and watch your karma grow and blossom into a karma flower.

DO Have a safe ride home. No jokes here, get home safe, it is literally the most important thing you’ll do during Wine Fest. Both Skytrain lines end a 5 minute walk from the Convention Centre and this weekend should be nice and clear. Find someone on the train who also has purple teeth and compare notes.

Here are some of the booths I'm stoked to visit: Altesino (IT), Carpineto (IT), Marchesi di Barolo (IT), Herdade das Servas (POR), Bodega Garzon (UR), Elk Cove (OR), Aquilini Red Mountain (WA), Coronica (Croatia), Voyager Estate (AUS), Grgich Hills (CA), Ridge Vineyards (CA), Hall/Walt (CA), Jackson Family (CA), Antinori (IT) - and many more!! If anyone makes an amazing discovery please let me know!!

Vintage Port 2016 and more

Hi Everyone!

 

With Santa’s Dandruff still sprinkled all across this chilly land, it’s time to discuss the new bonkers vintage of the wine world’s best internal Firestarter: Port. When sipped slowly, great Port warms the heart and curls smiles further upwards. When consumed with abandon, Port’s proven magical powers include:

 

1) Not caring if it’s cold out

2) Not caring that you don’t have a jacket on

3) Ability to create better words

 

Now, these newly-released Ports from the instantly-classic 2016 vintage certainly aren’t for chugging, in fact they’re not really ready for sipping yet. These are the seeds of future awesomes, brilliantly dense fortified wines to anchor your cellar (or fridge); 2016 is the best declared Port vintage since 2011, and perhaps since 1994, but only time will tell. To the juice:

 

2016 VINTAGE PORTS:

 

Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 2016. The flagship of the Guimaraens fleet. If David’s wines were the Justice League, Taylor Fladgate would undoubtedly be Superman. Boasting a body that could repel bullets, the muscle and power contained underneath the black-fruited licorice defies science, although it’ll be about a decade before we on earth can understand its language. Plus it can see through walls and it knows if you're lying. 100 points James Suckling, 98 points Wine Spectator, #23 Top 100 of 2018 (Wine Spectator), 98 points Wine Enthusiast. 6 full-size bottles available at $145.99 +tax, 12 half-size (375ml) bottles available at $77.99 +tax

 

Dow’s Vintage Port 2016. Always the picture of elegance, this is Dow’s first declared vintage since winning Wine Of The Year (Wine Spectator) for their 2011 Vintage Port. Soft floral notes surround the expected dark fruits, and the slight minerality peeks out just before the welcome acidic lift on the finish. That brightness ties a bow on everything and holds the key to Dow’s longevity, the house style is a shade drier than most. 98 points Wine Spectator, 98 points Decanter, 5 bottles available, $120.99 +tax

 

Warre’s Vintage Port 2016. Every player has their card to play, and for Warre’s, the oldest British Port house, that card is Touriga Franca, the indigenous Portuguese grape variety that takes centre stage in this rustic field blend. Violets, chocolate and bramble lead to endless silken layers in the mouth and a juicy finish of anise and roses. 98 points Wine Spectator, #14 Top 100 of 2018 (Wine Spectator), 98 points Decanter, 5 bottles available, $108.99 +tax

 

OTHER PORTS:

 

Taylor Fladgate Single Harvest Tawny 1968. In arcane Portuguese terms, this is a Colheita (Col-hee-YIGH-tah), meaning that it’s a Tawny Port (different from the ruby Vintage Ports) from a single vintage, which is rare, as most Tawny Ports consist of many vintages blended together to an average age (10, 20, 30 etc.). This 1968 drinks like a sext, with caramel figs amongst the almonds and butterscotch. Give it a chill in the fridge for a half hour for maximum yesness. 98 points Wine Spectator, 3 bottles (each in its own wooden box) available, $279.99 +tax

 

Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 1994. This pillar of modern architecture has been described on these pages before, but I thought some of you may want an example of what the 2016 will be like in its window of glory. Still youthful, still racy, the tannins are well integrated and the fruit is finally starting to come into focus. Tastes like genius. 100 points Wine Spectator, 6 bottles available, $359.99 +tax

 

Stay safe, stay warm, and Happy Drinking!!

Greetings from Esoteria

Hi Everyone!

I rarely make resolutions, but this year I have decided to get weirder. Not personally (not possible), but in the selections of wines that I present to you. Although I’ve always strived to find classic wines with great ratings, I must admit to being a tad restless – there is a wide, electric-kaleidoscope of wines out there that I haven’t been featuring, simply because the region or producer is too small or too strange to submit for reviews or points.

Don’t worry, I haven’t moved into a yurt and renamed myself Treasure. These wines aren’t themselves bizarre, they’re just undiscovered and unusual.  I’ll still scour the province to bring you the newest exciting, must-have wines and great points-to-price ratios, but from time to time I hope you’ll allow me to show you snapshots of the Awesome World of Wine that exists far from the main roads, somewhat unsung but no less essential and no less beautiful. To the juice:

Domaine du Cellier “Cuvée Clemence” Rousette de Savoie 2016, Savoie, France. A pretty postcard from the French Alps. You’ve probably never tasted the white grape Roussette (also known as Altesse) but then you’ve likely never encountered a wine from Savoie (often Anglicized to Savoy) either, so here’s a great regional primer: https://winefolly.com/review/savoie-wine-guide/ . This Cuvée Clemence is a rich, oily masterpiece of quince, lavender and flowers, medium weight and dry with a touch of honey on the long finish. Acts like a Northern Rhone White (Marsanne/Roussanne) but with more aromatics. Gets nuttier and toastier with 5 years of down time but is super-yowzers now – I’m not waiting. Exclusive to EW River District. 3 6-packs available, $42.98 +tax

Suvla “Sir” 2011, Gallipoli, Turkey. The only thing unusual about this Syrah-based blend is where it comes from: if I didn’t tell you it was from Turkey, you’d be jumping up and down with glee for finding such a great-value French wine. Two thirds Syrah with Grenache, Merlot and Cab Franc, Sir is from family-owned vineyards on the Gallipoli peninsula, the European side of Turkey, and it drinks like a southern Rhône blend from a hot year. There are many unpronounceable rustic grapes in Turkey that make wines of varying weirdness, but Sir is not one of those. Oodles of dark berries and licorice weigh down the tongue before the spicy finish caps off with elegant acidity and astringency. Try it for yourself this Saturday at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room, I think you’ll agree: this is the nicest Rhône wine that isn’t. 3 6-packs available, $40.98 +tax

Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon 1994, Anjou, France. Founded in 1787 overlooking the middle section of the Loire River, the 8 generations of winemakers at Moulin Touchais have all followed a curious business model: they only make the dessert wine they’re most famous for in the years where the intermittent fog brings botrytis (Noble Rot, same process as Sauternes) to their Chenin Blanc vineyards – and that happens almost never. Since every late harvest is wildly different (especially when you let the indigenous yeast just do its thing), every sparse vintage of their Coteaux du Layon is varied in sweetness, and this 1994 is on the drier side – think more like an oily, ripe Auslese than an Icewine – with wildly vibrant acidity. Heather and honeysuckle drive the floral nose, clean, juicy and fresh on palate, finishes with sweet lemon curd and a touch of brioche. Gorgeous. 2 6-packs available, $50.98 +tax

Chateau d’Epire Savennieres 2016, Anjou, France. Just across the river from Coteaux du Layon is Savennieres, home to some of the richest, most concentrated dry Chenin Blanc this side of South Africa. The schist-grown Chenin (known as Pineau de Loire, locally) is lees-aged in neutral wood, and the extra junk in the trunk, alongside Chenin’s natural acidity, is a recipe for a long cellar journey – although the absence of tannins makes it quite crushable, presently. Drinking is winning and holding is winning, here, and the Bizard family has spent 6 generations getting the syncopated, drawn-out harvest just right so that you have enough acidity and enough glycerine to do both. That bumping sound you hear is your patio asking you to get some of this for summer. 3 6-packs available, $58.98 +tax

Fasoli Gino “Sande” Pinot Nero Veronese 2008, Veneto, Italy. Telling you that this is the best 10-year-old Amarone made from Pinot Noir you’ll ever drink is a) absolutely true and b) not helpful, because no one else does anything close to this. The Pinot, grown north of Verona, is harvested early, around the end of August to preserve essential acidity, then laid to dry on straw mats (like Amarone) before crush, followed by a 4-year residency in French oak. Sande is to Pinot as Hulk is to Dr. Banner, but perhaps not in the way you might think. Unlike Amarone, Sande is not opaque (Pinot isn’t that pigmented, even when in near-raisin form) and the wine isn’t sweet at all, the aromatics and mid-palate, however, burn with the rage of a dying star. Intense and focused, more elegant than hulks usually are, and also a bit of a cult item back home. 12 bottles available, $85.98 +tax

 

Until next time, Happy Drinking!!
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