Monthly Archives: September 2012

Amity Pinot Noir 2008

Amity Pinot Noir 2008
Oregon, $30

A few weeks ago the stellar team at House Wine organized a stellar tasting of Oregon Pinot Noir. It’s no surprise to even the casual drinker that Oregon does Pinot well, but the tasting of a half dozen producers underscored just how well. It’s easy to think of the Willamette Valley as a single area, but the diversity that comes out of it—from Sonoma-style fruit bombs to Burgundian complexity—is astounding. The only drawback continues to be the high prices the wine commands—not quite Burgundy prices, but not that far off in many instances. But it’s at the entry level—this wine is $30—where Oregon shines. This bottle has a nice tartness that gives way to raspberry and some floral components. It’s light and delicate but in the refined and sexy sense of both words. And it’s quite a surprise at this price point.


5 Sommelier Favourites

2009 Bodegas Atradi Laderas de el Seque
Alicante, Spain $19This blend of Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah is aged 6 months in French oak. It’s the 2nd label of El Seque, made from younger plantings, and it has ripe, bright red fruit, balsamic freshness, medium body. A great everyday wine.
Pair with Pasta with Bolognese sauce, grilled Portabello mushrooms, Veal Parmigianna.
2010 Basa Rueda
Spain $19This wine is made by Telmo Rodriguez, an amazing wine maker from Spain. I ALWAYS have a bottle of this chilled in my fridge. It has a citrus and intense floral nose, with white peach, grapefruit, minerality and lively acidity. This wine loves oysters and grilled prawns.
2005 Ramos Paul
Andalucia, Sierra del Malaga, Spain $53.99Cin Cin was the first restaurant in Vancouver to sell this blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and I love it. Sometimes you have to tell yourself, “I need to spend a little bit more to get a beautiful bottle of wine.” Big, dark and earthy with firm tannins, raspberry liquor, ripe red fruit and cinnamon. They only make one wine at Ramos Paul and everything is hand picked and harvested in 22 kg boxes.  It is aged in 100% Allier French oak. The vineyards at Ramos Paul are at 1000 meters elevation and get to 30 plus degrees C in the daytime but drop to 16-17 in the nighttime. This keeps good acidity in the grapes. Pair with grilled pork chop with BBQ sauce or braised rabbit with prosciutto.
2009 Tridente
Castillo y Leon, $26.99
This wine is 100% Tempranillo and has lush, dark fruit, oaky, mulberry, dense, powerful with a New World style (it spends 15 months in French oak). Put anything on the BBQ, this is a great wine.
Paso Robles, California, $30This a non-vintage blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre and Petite Sirah.
Expect black cherry, spicy, licorice, smoked meat all with great balance.
If it was a cold day and you took a sweater out of the dryer and put it on and had that warm, all-encompassing feeling…that is Troublemaker. Pair with osso bucco or grilled pork loin.

Harper’s Trail Field White Blend 2011

Harper’s Trail Field White Blend 2011
Okanagan, $17

I have a soft spot for Kamloops. I love its golf courses, its summer heat. The way it lets its southern neighbours trumpet their achievements, while quietly going about its business. Which, come to think about, is the perfect quality for a winemaker. Enter Harper’s Trail. The new winery has just released three new wines, none of them over $20 (also very Kamloops). The $17 Field Blend White is a mix of Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc—four pals who don’t normally hang together. It’s like a very light Conundrum—so light that I enjoyed it more when it was quite cold, which given that it’s only 10.5%, makes it a good wine for those late-summer cookouts.

2007 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino

2007 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino
Italy, $60

So last week was yet another birthday. The sole benefit these days is the opportunity to head down into the wine cellar and pick out something nice to mark the somber occasion. Unlike most of my wine-writing brethren, I don’t have a huge cellar—probably only 150 or so bottles. Partly it’s a space thing, but mostly it’s my love of a sure thing—I favour the “one in the hand” of a bottle that’s drinking nicely right now over the “two in the bush” of spending a whack of money on a bottle and hoping that things play out. Despite all that, I continue to put bottles down because the joy of a well-integrated age wine is just barely better than the agony of opening an aged bottle that’s faded badly.

So, my birthday. I grabbed a 2001 Brunello di Montalcino “Montosoli” and it was magnificent. It was still a huge wine (it had another 5-10 years I imagine) but layers of fruit and richness and it just was such a joy to drink that I’m still smiling as I write this 6 days later. That bottle is not readily available but the current vintage of Altesino is, and at $60 it’s something of a steal.