Monthly Archives: June 2013

Spierhead Pinot Noir 2011

Spierhead Pinot Noir 2011

BC, $19.90

We don’t go in for wine scores here at WL so I’m alwayss searching for words to convey the passion (or disdain) I feel for a particular wine in a way that the reader hopefully gets. It occurred to me recently that one of the best signifiers for me is that panicked feeling I get, immediately after I’ve tasted a wine that wows me, that it might sell out before I get my paws on some. I had that feeling at a recent BC Wine Institute tasting, where Master of Wine Rhys Pender had selected 3 BC pinots to be tasted blind with 3 international pinots. One of the BC pinots was the new 2011 vintage of Spierhead—it was vibrant and alive and it felt like it was jumping out of the glass. I immediately fretted that I wouldn’t be able to buy enough of it. Oddly it wasn’t my #1 wine—that turned out be a $65 bottle of Gevrey Chambertin from Burgundy, which didn’t give that panicked feeling in the least. Drinking the Spierhead I felt proud of the wine for some reason, and not just for the pinot but for the winery’s excellent riesling, their muscular Bordeaux-inspired Pursuit and above all their ability to deliver such great wine for such an affordable price. Spierhead is becoming one of the wineries that showing up at a party with one of their bottles has become a signifier of impeccable taste. In an amazingly short time it’s become a winery where I’m anxious to taste everything they make.

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Hester Creek The Judge 2007

Hester Creek The Judge 2007

BC, $45

One of the most esoteric functions of the wine writer/reviewer is the prognostication of when the wine should be drunk. The truth is, it’s hellishly hard to know. You generally try to gauge the tightness and denseness of the tannins and structure and guestimate when they might come around to softening. And if you’re wrong, hope that everyone has forgotten by the time the reader finally rolls around to opening the wine. To make things even more difficult, wines that used to be built to age —Bordeaux being a prime example—are often drinking wonderfully of out of the gate.

I tried this week’s wine—the Bordeaux-inspired flagship wine from Hester Creek—2 years ago and it was quite dense and had a few hard notes in it. I assumed it would work best after mellowing out for 5 years plus. But I tried it again last week over a casual dinner of burgers, and it is completely hitting its stride. It had lost none of its power—you still get waves of slightly sweet dark fruit—but it’s shed all off its faults. This is clearly a new world wine, but if you love that easily approachable flavor profile, then this wine is drinking beautifully.

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Father’s Day Gift Guide

With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, we’re highlighting three delicious bottles of scotch and bourbon that we think dad would love.

The Macallan 1824 Series

The Macallan 1824

It seems that every second Scotch distillers is dreaming up new, exotic “finishes” (Red Bordeaux Barrels, Port Barrels, Sauternes Barrels) in a effort to zip up their line-up with reams of new bottles. Not The Macallan (they want you use the “The” but to order a
The Macallan, neat, seems daft). The quintessential gentleman’s malt has the reverse problem—they can’t make enough whisky to satisfy the market’s thirst for their sublime spirit. So the announcement that they were coming out with a new line of whisky, it was no small occasion. The 1824 Series features four expressions (Gold, Amber, Sienna, Ruby) ranging in price from $65–300. Canada is just one of 2 markets to receive all four so it’s sort of our patriotic duty to buy a bottle, no? It’s literally just hitting the shelves now, so it’s a rare chance to be classy and current. $65–$300.

Bushmills 16

Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

Bushmills 16
Some drinkers like Scotch, some like Bourbon, and they’re generally two pretty distinct groups. Irish Whiskey on the other hand? Everyone loves it. It’s nutty and a tad sweet with a smooth, lingering finish. A really good deal given the age. $90.

Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon
For the longest time I thought of bourbon the same way I think about the Star Spangled Banner—it’s a middling song that’s been masterfully marketed. But in the last decade, the spirit has been elevated by distillers who are committing to raising bourbon’s flavuor profile and complexity. Take Four Roses Single Barrel—a lightyear’s leap ahead of the standard Four Roses (which is fine for mixed drinks). It’s spicy more than sweet, and smooth without being insipid, and it’s not a bad deal given out insane liquor duties. $57.

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Cabriz Colheita Selecionada 2008

Cabriz Colheita Selecionnada 2008

Portugal, $20

The one question I get most often is “Can you recommend a great red for under $15?” and the difficultly I have in answering is through no fault of serious testing. On a normal Tuesday night, I’m not sipping a Barolo or an aged Bordeaux, but usually looking for something pleasing to go with casual fare that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. The problem with most wine in this price range is that they’re either too sweet and extracted with plenty of fruit all at once and nothing else (hello New World) or too grungy and rustic (hello Old World). But once in a while there comes a wine that brings the sublime mixture of fruit, acidity, long finish and price that immediately has you say “I’ll take a case.” This is that wine.

As is usual with Portuguese wine the grapes are not the usual suspects: the awesomely named Alfocheiro is the base, backed up by Tinto Roriz (that’s Tempranillo to the rest of the world) and Touriga Nacional. The first sip evokes a mason jar of wild raspberry jam, followed by the structure and dryness that lengthens out the finish with more savory notes. It’s a little wild, but in the most enjoyable sense of the word—an amusement park ride more than a car wreck. Had I tasted blind I would have lost a mortgage payment had you bet me it was under $25. At under $15, it’s the best deal I’ve tasted in 2013

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