Monthly Archives: February 2013

Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

 California, $80

The Vancouver International Winefest starts this week and this year, California is the focus. Choosing an iconic Cali wine is darn near impossible—if a panel chose Russian River Pinot, Paso Robles Syrah or Amador County Zinfandel, they’d all be right. But if I had to choose the paradigm, I’d go with Napa Cabernet as the wine that most says CA. There’s a whole swack of them at the winefest (Antinori’s Antica is worth checking out, Girard a classy option, The Oracle from Miner Family is a blockbuster), but the one that holds the standard for the last three decades is Joseph Phelps. I don’t imagine they’re pouring the flagship Insignia (but if they are, push old ladies out of the way to get it), but the “regular old” Cabernet (regular to the tune of about $80) is all depth and richness and a lovely balance—spice and plums and everything that makes Napa, Napa.

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Perseus Cabernet-Shiraz 2011


Perseus Cabernet-Shiraz 2011

Perseus Cabernet-Shiraz 2011
BC, $21.90

Nothing helps a wine rating better than low expectations. I have nothing agains the new-ish winery Perseus—I had visited the cool, quaint tasting room on the edge of Penticton and quite enjoyed myself. But when Canadian wineries use the name Shiraz (instead of Syrah) I get concerned that they are leaning towards the over-extracted Aussie take on the grape (as opposed to the French peppery and more restrained iteration) and as a rule I don’t love the non-traditional pairing of Shiraz with Cabernet Sauvignon. But the great thing about low expectations is that they’re easy to exceed and this wine—an admittedly fruit-forward, soft tannic number—is quite enjoyable. It’s big, it keeps the alcohol in check and it has a nice hit (13%) of Cabernet Franc which gives an enticing nose. A fair sight better than many $30 BC reds.

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McWatters Collection Chardonnay 2011

McWatters Chardonnay

McWatters Collection Chardonnay 2011
BC, $30

One sip of this wine and I’m instantly transported back to the early 1990s. I’m working at the Wine Cellar in Edmonton and owner Hank Gillespie is opening a bottle of Sonoma-Cutrer Les Pierres, a prototypical Californian Chardonnay—oaky, buttery, pineapple-y. I loved it, but in the years since, legions of cheap wines from all corners of vindom knocked the style off—using rafts of oak chips to mask flaws in mass-produced plonk, the result being that the terms “oaky” or “buttery” in a Chardonnay became synonymous with plonk. So imagine my surprise when I opened this new offering from local wine legend Harry McWatters, and found that he’s not hopping on the oak-bad, stainless steel-good bandwagon, but instead has crafted a chard that’s opulent, rich and not afraid to say it tastes like “buttered toast” in its tasting note.

Joie Farm PTG 2010

Joie Farm PTG 2010

Joie Farm PTG 2010
BC, $24

Of all the wine critics operating today (Robert Parker, The Wine Spectator et al.), one of the most universally respected is Jancis Robinson of London’s Financial Times. Whereas most critics get tagged with a certain bias (overripe, micro-oxygenated reds are considered “Parker-ized”) Robinson seems to bring an academic’s detachment (paired with an underlying passion) to her pursuits. All of which to say that when she weighs in—which she did this week on Canadian wine—people listen. Her full discourse is available here, but she took time to single out three reds from the Okanagan: the substantial Portfolio 2009 from Laughing Stock, the tough-to-find Coyote Bowl Syrah 2009 from Church & State and this week’s pick, the Joie PTG 2010. We’ve oohed about previous vintages of this wine before, but it’s worth revisiting because it’s one of the great reds to pair with Asian cuisine. Light, but substantial and with enough acid to stand up to the complexity and fire of many Gung Hay Fat Choy dishes. A nice complement to the more expected choice, Gewuztraminer or Riesling.