Monthly Archives: August 2012

Domaine de Vacheron 2010

Domaine de Vacheron 2010
France, $40

Sancerre, the minerally bone-dry expression of sauvignon blanc, has had its lunch eaten by rivals from New Zealand and in some ways, it’s easy to see why. A bottle of Kim Crawford costs anywhere from 1/3 to ½ less than a comparable Sancerre, and damned if it doesn’t deliver near identical quality year after year. Which is precisely why every so often I need something more exotic, something that plays it a little less safe. It’s great driving a Mercedes, but once in a while screaming around the block in a Lotus is life affirming. This Sancerre from the excellent producers Domaine Vacheron is also life affirming. Sea spray and citrus and almonds it’s the very definition of a wine that pairs well with food. An everyday wine? Not really (especially at $40), but when you need to zip it up a bit, this is your bottle.

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Adrian Fog Pinot Noir

Adrian Fog Pinot Noir
California

Here’s the thing about BYOB—restaurateurs hate it when you bring a $10 bottle of Aussie Shiraz, but sommeliers love it when someone comes in with an obscure bottle they’ve never tried. And I don’t mean something you found in the Eastern European section of the wine store. It should be something you care about that’s out of the ordinary. For me it was a bottle of Pinot from Adrian Fog, who makes stellar wine out of a commercial space in Sebastopol. Mine was sourced from the Savoy Vineyard in the Anderson Valley, but this is a winery that you can pretty much close your eyes and any bottle (it will always be Pinot) will blow you away. I offered the sommelier a taste (always do this with a special bottle) and he gave me what very wine nerd wants—the sommelier knowing nod. Well done, sir. I pass it on to winery owner Stewart Dorman (and part-time Vancouver resident), well done sir.

Spierhead Pinot Noir 2010

Spierhead Pinot Noir 2010
Okanagan, $17.90

Last year I was really impressed by the Spierhead’s take on riesling, which showed none of the yips one would expect from a new winery. This year they’re doubling down on the difficulty scale by bringing out a pinot, the pinnacle of challenge in winemaking. Like the Riesling, they’re not taking the easy route—they’re eschewing the relatively forgiving style popular in parts of California, which sees plenty of fruit on the palate and plenty of alcohol on the label. Instead they’re going full burgundy: elegance, even austerity, and above all, balance. It’s not an easy road because there isn’t a backup if the goods aren’t there. Luckily it’s a success. It’s not perfect—there are some minor issues on the length of the finish—but it’s the type of wine that I imagine I’ll enjoy more and more with each successive vintage. And for this freshman effort, they’ve taken the rare and welcome tact of pricing the wine waaaay below the competition: $17.90, making it the lowest priced serious pinot in the Okanagan.

Solaz Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Solaz Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Spain, $12

It was a great party, evidenced by the fact that everybody kept drinking wine well after the sunset. The Sancerre was great, ditto the Santa Barbara Pinot, but who’s kidding who—by the fourth bottle, we were enjoying the camaraderie, and what was in the glass was little import. Unfortunately all I had on hand were good bottles—a rookie mistake. Always have a stash of sub-$15, wine, like this really nice, simple wine from Spain. It’s seriously fruit forward, and trust me—no one is clamoring for subtlety on bottle four. It smells like vanilla and raspberry, tastes like cherries and some spice and has almost no pesky tannins to spoil the party. A late-night crowd pleaser if ever one was made.