Tagged with 'fine wines'

Deckbusters!

It’s time for a slate of amazing wines for outdoor sipping (or outdoor gulping, I don’t know what kind of day you’ve had), this time in both reds and whites. I didn’t plan on including white wines in a Deckbusters email, but nor did I imagine that my own deck would reach 42C, so here we are, adaptable and thirsty. We begin with the Reds. 

REDS 

Kathryn Hall “Darwin” Syrah 2014, Napa Valley, USA. Ok ok yes, you’re not used to Syrah from Napa and yes, the only dude who reviewed it was Wilfred Wong (wine.com) and he’s weird, but if I’ve built up any trust with you, believe me when I tell you that this is INSANE value – it’s basically Shafer Relentless with less grip and far less price. Prizing power over subtlety, I had presumed that this bruiser earned its name in honour of all the other Syrahs it had to kill to achieve species dominance, but in fact it’s named for the northern Australian town where Kathryn Hall’s private plane had to make an emergency landing (winemakers: they’re just like us!). She and her husband Craig were so taken with the Shirazes they tasted that night that they resolved to pay tribute when they returned home with this gorgeously floral, opaque Syrah that burns villages and slays all enemies. Violets and blackberries rule the roost, with cassis, black pepper and pencil shavings leading towards a classically tempered body and a surprisingly elegant, long finish. Nothing but purple smiles when I tried it - a joyful find. 94 points Wilfred “Weirdo” Wong, 5 cases available, $59.99 +tax 

Comando G “La Bruja de Rozas” 2019, Sierra de Gredos, Spain. A returning champion to these pages, an elegant, fresh, eminently drinkable Garnacha from the hills surrounding Madrid. At the front of the pack of young winemakers seeking to redefine Garnacha for a new generation, Daniel Landi and Fernando Garcia treat the grape more like a Pinot Noir, prizing acidity and beauty over the oxidatively rustic styles Spain has been flooding the world with for decades. Quite floral and herbal on the nose, Bruja starts to show gamey, mineral notes on palate, reflecting the sandy, granitic soils in the vineyard. Medium bodied and perfectly balanced, this can handle most of what your grill throws at you. 93 points Robert Parker, 2 cases available, $52.98 +tax. 

Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2018, Cotes-du-Rhône, France. Another returning champion, this time representing the superlative 2018 Chateauneuf-du-Pape vintage (and only 2 Parky-points lower than their Grand Vin). Essentially a geographically inconvenienced Chateauneuf-du-Pape sitting across the street (and outside the appellation) from Chateau Beaucastel, the 2018 Coudoulet is a Prince wearing the King’s clothes: denser and darker than usual (more Mourvèdre in the mix than other years), showing bright red fruits, sage and white pepper before tumbling into a medium-full body with great freshness and a long, satisfyingly grippy finish. I’ve long gone on and on about the value of Coudoulet, nothing has changed. 93 points Robert Parker, 93 points Decanter, 3 cases available, Reg Price $39.98, Sale Price $37.98 +tax 

Finca Ygay Marqués de Murrieta Reserva 2016, Rioja, Spain. Enjoying quite a moment right now (the top wine from this house won Wine of the Year last year), Ygay builds on their momentum with this iconic 2016 Reserva, boasting its best scores in well over a decade. Sourced from a single estate at the bottom edge of Rioja Alta, this Tempranillo (with drinking buddies Graciano, Mazuelo and Garnacha) shows intense red and black fruit over a bed of crushed rocks (I can see someone blind tasting this as a Supertuscan). Full and generous in the mouth, the finish tightens up nicely with good acidity and fine tannins before lingering elegantly for well over a minute. Great now, great in 5 years. 95 points Guis Proensa*, 94 points Robert Parker, 4 cases available, $49.98 +tax 

 

WHITES 

Wittmann Westhofener Riesling Trocken 2018, Rheinhessen, Germany. There is so much Riesling Hesitancy in the world today that I’ve largely abandoned the argument. If you’ve decided not to get a Riesling for yourself then there’s nothing I can say to change your mind, but I implore you: think of the sausages. Right now, all over this province, defenceless sausages are being grilled with no access to proper wine pairings – in fact, cases of grilled sausages being paired with Yellow Tail are dangerously on the rise. You can help by grabbing one of these sublimely delicious offerings from the Wittmann family, who’ve farmed around the old market town of Westhofen since 1663. The nose is an aromatic blast of tropical fruit and pastry, but the palate and finish are dry and focused, expertly suited to cut the fat of those helpless sausages. This is crackerjack stuff for the price, and pairs with Bratwurst like a key in a lock. 95 points James Suckling, 4 6-packs available, $59.98 +tax 

Sartori Marani 2018, Veronese Bianco, Italy. Returning in fine form, the unofficial White Amarone from the esteemed Amarone house Sartori shows the strength of the 2018 vintage in its long, persistent finish, full of minerality and glycerine. Holy cow, this wine is a lot. Garganega grapes from the Soave appellation (but declassified because of the process) are dried like Amarone grapes for a couple months before pressing, concentrating everything to produce a luscious, honeyed nose of peaches, melon and jasmine. A large footprint in the mouth, indeed, but not inelegant, with a balanced body and the aforementioned eternal finish. No ratings found. 4 6-packs available, $39.98 +tax 

Domaine Delaporte Sancerre Les Monts Damnés 2018, Loire Valley, France. There is, of course, nothing wrong with simple, linear Sancerre, but this ain’t that. Sourced from arguably the best vineyard in Sancerre, Delaporte’s take on Les Monts Damnes (the “damned hills”, to give you a feel for the amount of direct sun it gets) is a round but piercing blast of citrus and stones, softened with herbal and apple notes. It still starts and finishes with beautifully crisp austerity, it just has a nice fat middle: if Sancerre is a snake, the Les Monts Damnes is a snake that just ate a racoon. Brilliant stuff, doesn’t need food. 95 points Wine Enthusiast, 3 6-packs available, $76.98 +tax 

Venusa Bianco 2018, Mazzorbo, Venice, Italy. A millennium ago, the wines that the Venetian empire used to ship around the Mediterranean were actually grown right in Venice, in fact the area where the Piazza San Marco sits today used to be a vineyard, likely growing the ancient white grape Dorona di Venezia. Tourism, rising waters and urban growth pushed viticulture out to just a handful of islands in the Venetian lagoon, but as recently as 60 years ago Dorona was grown on Mazzorbo, Burano and Torcello, otherwise known as Native Venice. The flood of 1966 put the nail in the coffin of Venetian viticulture, and Dorona became nearly extinct. I say nearly because the Bisol family (Prosecco makers) discovered some Dorona in a private garden in 2002 and replanted it in their ancient walled vineyard on Mazzorbo (connected to the more populous Burano by a footbridge). The variety is perfectly suited for the salty, silty soils of the lagoon, which stress the vines and produce a wine – called Venusa – with an ethereal minerality aside the stone fruits and quince that dance lithely on the nose and palate. The short period of skin contact adds both golden pigment and some citrus rind astringency on the finish, wickedly unique, I’ve never quite had anything like this. If you only take one chance this year on a new, strange white wine, it should obviously be this. Not rated (production is too small). 4 6-packs available, $107.98 +tax 

A holy grail wine: Keplinger Basilisk

Once in a while, you find a wine that captivates you. A wine that makes you reconsider some of your assumptions. A winemaker doing things that make you sit up and pay attention. And sometimes that wine and the winemaker stop you in your tracks. I’m reluctant to say that I first learned about Helen Keplinger, the winemaker when she was featured on the front cover of Wine Spectator but given her track record, I should have known about her much earlier than that. I was fascinated by her take on varietals that you don’t always think about when it comes to iconic California wines.    

The pursuit of these holy grail type wines, which had never made it to Canada before, began immediately yet it took over a year until I had the good fortune to meet the amazing couple who bring these wines to life. Rarely will you meet two more passionate advocates for respecting the source of fruit and creating masterful wines from those vines. They craft their wines from vine to bottle with incredible attention to detail and critics certainly pay attention with many of their wines regularly scoring 95pts and above year after year. Yet that dedication to only the best fruit means they can be difficult to find as they’re often made in volumes of less than 200 cases and in fact our first allocation of Basilisk was less than 200 bottles!     

Every time I taste this wine, I find it focused, concentrated and full of intense fruit – and yet it’s never what I expect it will be! When I think of Grenache I often associate it with a softer and more plush fruity style but this is something different. It’s much more structured with a great tannic backbone and on the palate, you find notes of black tea, dried red berries and dark fruit. It’s as if this wine is alive with a brooding ‘wild’ side! 

Dave Smith, Director of Buying 

Hooray for Chardonnay Spring 2021

A collection of Chardonnays today from several points on the globe but with extra focus on the US and Italy. We begin: 

FRANCE 

Anne Gros Bourgogne Blanc 2019, Burgundy. Behold the wisest spell to escape the wand of the She-Wizard. To avoid confusion, this isn’t the same as the $70 Bourgogne Blanc of Anne’s that I offered back in October. This stunning Chardonnay – a blend of parcels from the Côte de Nuits and Hautes Côtes de Nuits – finds Anne wearing her rare Négocient hat, purchasing fruit from her biggest fans and working her magic for a civilized bottle price. All grapes should be so lucky; this is the grapey version of finding the Golden Ticket in the Wonka bar. Fresh pear, Golden Delicious apples and chalk on the nose, a gorgeous melange of chamomile, rainwater and lime on palate. Chablis seems to be the north star, here – I’m quite sure I’d flag it as such were I blind tasted on this, the crisp acidity can see through walls and focuses the finish like a magnifying glass. Outstanding value, a great introduction to Anne’s oeuvre, will make your deck shine like a grail. 3 6-packs available, $51.98 +tax 

ARGENTINA 

Bodegas Chacras “Mainqué” Chardonnay 2018, Patagonia. Meursault’s Jean-Marc Roulot made this pure, focused Chardonnay to answer the question: What if you tried to make a white Burgundy on Hoth? The tempestuous landscape in South America’s southern, wild point (the indigenous population, first thought by Magellan to be giants, were dubbed the Patagon) throws all manner of curveballs at a humble grape-grower: dramatic temperature shifts, hail and heat waves, and yet Roulot manages to wrest some sort of elegance out of chaos every year. Aged in both oak and concrete, this 2018 experienced partial malolactic fermentation (they never control it, they just roll with what happens), so there’s a balance between brioche and brioche-with-a-laser-sword laying just underneath the Granny Smith, pears and jasmine on this expressive nose. The medium-full body brings tension, salinity and more brioche in case you didn’t get enough brioche. A lovely collection of opposites that’s so different each vintage. 97 points James Suckling, 12 bottles available, $71.98 +tax 

SOUTH AFRICA 

Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2019, Hemel-en-Aarde. We weren’t supposed to get any of the miniscule-but-glorious 2019 vintage from Anthony Hamilton Russell: the tragic South African fires in early 2019, though less world-famous than Australia’s subsequent blazes, made life miserable and curtailed viticulture dramatically. The production was so small they thought they could only serve local markets for that year, but then (gestures broadly at everything). South Africa imposed an outright ban on alcohol sales, and while that really sucks for them it means more yummy HR for Jordan, so let’s rinse off that guilt with some good Chardonnay. Although usually destemmed, Russell crushed from whole bunches for this vintage to avoid the risk of smoke taint and employed the least amount of malolactic fermentation ever (only 10%), resulting in the most elegant and bright Chardonnay he’s ever produced, light on its feet without sacrificing the embracing intensity he’s known for. Limeade and candied pears line the crushed rocks on the fragrant nose, ending with just a hint of lemon danish and peach. 95 points Tim Atkins, 93 points Decanter, 3 6-packs available, $67.98 +tax 

ITALY 

Antinori Cervaro della Sala 2017, Umbria. The Antinori’s flagship white wine is a relatively young enterprise, seeing as the family started winemaking in the 12th century (I think my ancestors had contemporaneously discovered the Pointed Stick). The inaugural 1985 vintage could have been spread on toast to make an open-faced oak sandwich, but the ensuing decades have seen Cervaro evolve into an elegant, layered and powerful expression of warm-climate Chardonnay (with about 8% contribution from the local Grechetto grape). The Saharan 2017 vintage gave a nitro-boost to the wine’s weight and intensity, but the balanced élèvage (a portion spends 6 months in French oak, the rest in stainless) turned out a Chardonnay with a foot on two continents: the nose swims with the rich apples, pralines, stones and vanilla of Sonoma while the body holds that essential tension and agility of modern Beaune. This 2017 commands your attention so thoroughly, you might not even look at your phone for a couple minutes. 99 points James Suckling, 3 6-packs available, $79.98 +tax 

Gaja Rossj-Bass Chardonnay 2018, Langhe. Since Angelo Gaja is one of the fathers of modern Piedmont and Rossana (Rossj for short) is his daughter, I guess Rossj is… modern Piedmont? Figuring that out might take some time and a couple glasses of this luminous Chardonnay, grown in lower-lying (Bass) vineyards in Barbaresco and Barolo. Melon and white flowers bathed in honey – it’s quite a lovely, sweet nose – flow into a surprisingly structured frame and an almost Sancerre-ish, bracing finish. Not sure if this wine has made it into BC before, this is the first time I’ve seen it. Not yet rated. 2 6-packs available, $128.98 +tax 

Cantina Toblino Trentodoc “Antares” Brut Nature 2016, Trentino. From a snappy little organic co-operative in Trentino comes a brilliant shooting star of sparkling Chardonnay and a possible energy source to power cities of the future (diodes not included). From vines grown on the south-facing hills of Valle dei Laghi, the Chardonnay goes through the Traditional Method (can’t call it the Champagne Method because if you do, French spirits will visit as you sleep to turn all your snacks into cigarettes), spending 36 months on the lees after secondary fermentation. Full disclosure: I’m not always on board with the whole Brut Nature movement (no final “dosage” of sugar before bottling), I find that the more extreme cases are out of balance - just balls of acid that Somms dare each other to drink to see who cries first – but Antares Brut Nature is beautifully balanced and super-fab. Pastry notes are met by lemon meringue and river stones, gorgeous citrus and savoury saline mouthfeel, the finish is energetically zippy and zingy with persistent bubbles. Not often available outside of Italy, Antares is only rated locally: 4 Stars Vinibuoni d’Italia, 2 6-packs available, $55.98 +tax 

USA 

Hartford Court Chardonnay 2018, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. I hope Don Hartford doesn’t travel with armed guards ‘cause if I met him I’d just hug him without saying hello first. Giving Don good vibes would be reciprocal: for nearly 3 decades his wines have quietly showcased Sonoma’s generous, positive disposition without falling into lushness or simplicity – these are real, classic wines with great structure and length, they just have various fruits and spices falling out of their pockets and they feel that you should have some too. If ever a wine could be called “optimistic” this entry-level (!) Russian River Chardonnay would be a prime candidate, exuding honeysuckle, brioche, cream, apple, peach and pepper notes before unfolding into a rich, full texture-fest, lifting up at the end with a touch of grapefruit. Great minerality on all levels, too. The premium buyers in this company periodically get together to blind taste wines; this one blew us away and we valued it at twice the price (this new price has actually come down from near $60). #44 – Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2020, 94 points Wine Enthusiast, 6 cases available, $46.98 +tax 

WALT Chardonnay 2018, Sonoma Coast. Decadence liquified. This is the perfectly normal thing that happens when a pear and a vanilla milkshake love each other very much. Made by Napa’s Kathryn Hall from the Bob’s Ranch and Sangiacomo vineyards, the opulent nose – no need to compare apples to oranges ‘cause this has both – leads into a medium-bodied palate that shines a bit brighter than the nose suggests, just enough to boost the length of the creamy, pear-laced finish. Quite beautiful, in a confected, naughty way, and underrated in my opinion. 92 points Wine Enthusiast, 2 cases available, $61.98 

Arnot-Roberts Trout Gulch Vineyard Chardonnay 2017, Santa Cruz Mountains. The Simon and Garfunkel of single-vineyard California Négoce wines have outdone themselves with this cabin-in-the-woods style Chardonnay that I’d never blindly identify (blindentify?) as Californian. The Trout Gulch vineyard lies in the heavily forested southern Santa Cruz mountains, the whole area looks like the Slocan valley or western Kootenays, and if you’re thinking “I’ve never seen any wines from Castlegar”, bingo. The site is at the edge of the ripening window, sitting 4 miles from the ocean at 600ft and regularly beset by fog; climate change has made recent vintages more reliable than when Bernard Turgeon planted the vineyard in 1980, but there’s perennially a chance you won’t get a usable harvest. The years the vineyard gives you, however, are racing powder kegs of energy and density, like a Chablis that cloned itself and then ate that clone. Citrus and flowers rule the roost, with a robust, saline mid-palate and long, chalky finish. Refreshing now but I’d like to check back in 5 years to see what happens. 95 points Vinous, 2 6-packs available, $99.98 +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. 

Nicolas Catena Zapata “White Stones” Chardonnay 2017, Mendoza, Argentina. 98 points James Suckling, 1 3-pack available, $133.98 +tax 

Nicolas Catena Zapata “White Bones” Chardonnay 2017, Mendoza, Argentina. 99 points James Suckling, 2 3-packs available, $156.98 +tax 

Shaw + Smith “M3” Chardonnay 2019, Adelaide Hills, Australia. 96 points Decanter, 96 points James Suckling, 12 bottles available, $56.98 

Ridge Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2014, Santa Cruz Mountains, California. 95 points Decanter, 8 bottles available, $95.98 +tax 

Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Gain 2015, Burgundy, France. 6 bottles available, $192.98 +tax 

Olivier Leflaive Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Gain 2016, Burgundy, France. 6 bottles available, $192.98 +tax 

Until next time, Happy Drinking!

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

B.C. wineries need us to drink their wines to offset losses of wildfire season

There isn’t a corner of this province unaffected by this summer’s wildfires, but as bad as the air quality has been in Metro Vancouver, the interior of B.C. has had it far worse, and our wine growing regions (Okanagan, Similkameen) have been hit especially hard. While I haven’t heard news of any vineyards burning, the smoke has been acute enough to keep wine lovers away, and I’ve heard estimates from friends up there that business is down as much as 80% in some wineries.

It looks like we coasties will get at least a temporary reprieve from the smoke this weekend, but that’s only because maritime winds are pushing it back into the interior, and although I hear you can now see the other side of the lake from Naramata, the upcoming Labour Day weekend – usually a key wine holiday – may end up a wash this year. Remember when Alberta was going to ban BC wine and all of us were going to band together and drink up the slack? This is more dire. The BC wine industry needs our help: if we’re not gonna go drink it up there, we in Metro Van gotta drink it down here.

With that in mind, I’d like to recommend a few faves; wines to drink over the next couple of weeks while we wait for cooler (and wetter) skies to prevail.

Kettle Valley Gewurztraminer 2016, Naramata. Pretty pretty pretty, then kapow. A generous, ornate nose of lychee and honeyed flowers precede a 2-plane-seat body and a gingery finish with a whiff of glorious booze. Alsace is clearly the inspiration but this is lighter on its feet and cleaner, the hedonism is all on the front end. This wine hopes you order spring rolls. $20.49 +tax

Desert Hills Gamay 2017, Black Sage Bench. A spicy firecracker of red fruit and insolence. Wee snaps of vanilla and ash surround the nose, but the fruit is the story here and the fruit came to party. Black pepper on the finish, paired with enough acidity to balance the weight but not enough to make the cool kids sit at your table. Will barbeque the chicken for you. $29.99 +tax

Black Hills Tempranillo 2016, Black Sage Bench. It may come as a surprise to many, but the cult winery Black Hills does, in fact, make wines that aren’t Nota Bene. Tempranillo isn’t widely planted outside of Spain and almost never planted in B.C., which is a shame because this fab: a bright, ultra-present body of cherries and red apple, interwoven with a nose of roses, cinnamon and fine black pepper. A long hot finish and fine tannins – made for espelette-rubbed pork or chicken. $56.99 +tax. Be sure to stop by our South Vancouver location on Saturday, September 1st at 3pm to taste this BC gem!