Monthly Archives: September 2013

2010 Finca Decero Malbec

Mendoza Argentina, $23

Tasting a wine without knowing the grape or the origin is great way to get to the gist of what it’s all about, but almost as useful is tasting a wine without knowing how much it costs, a fact that was illustrated for me at a tasting last week. It was the wines of high-end Argentinian producer Finca Decero and as I listened to their CEO and marketing exec talk about the expensive French oak they use and about the fantastically labour intensive manner in which they grow and harvest grapes—lots of expensive human hands at work here—I pigeonholed their wines at the upper echelon of the Argentine market—somewhere in the $50 dollar range. That’s high for Argentina, to be sure, but mid-market these days for Californian and cheap for Bordeaux. Tasting them, I wasn’t disappointed—their Cabernet Sauvignon was muscular without being overbearing with a rich finish that went on and on, and the Malbec had a silky lightness to it that was restrained and admirable. The Malbec had such a lovely floral, almost fresh mint character that I could see why it is becoming the favourite of sommeliers who want to steer the traditional Malbec lovers into a more deft and complex example of the grape. I made a note that, given their price, neither was likely to become regular sippers they were a sure sign of the advances the Argentines are making at the high-end.

And then I found out the wines were $23. It was like marrying a girl for love, only to find out at the alter that Bill Gates is her dad. I don’t know how they can make wine of this quality for this price—note to BC winemakers, stay away from Malbec—but as long as they do, they’ll have a serious convert in me. Simply amazing value.

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2009 Louis Jadot Moulin a Vent Chateau des Jacques

France, $80

A few years back I went to a very chi-chi house warming party that necessitated arriving with a good bottle of wine. I hemmed and hawed over what to bring, and to be honest, on an occasion such as this, where your bottle may or may not be opened, the presentation of the bottle is almost as important as what is inside. The world’s finest single-vineyard Malbec from Argentina will get trumped by a cru bourgeois from an off year. Ultimately, I landed on a bottle of Cotes du Rhone from Mourchon in magnum. It was about $60 and it was nice wine, but the hosts were blown away by the bottle as if it were a bottle of Lafitte from Thomas Jefferson’s cellar. They passed the heft around, reveled in its boldness and thanked me profusely. Behind me came my friend Sam, who brought a bottle of 2000 Cos D’Etournel, a sublime Bordeaux from an excellent vintage. The 2009 vintage of that bottle is available at the BC liquor stores for $888.00. The host thanked him profusely as well… and went back to pawing the magnum. The moral? When it comes to hostess gifts, bigger is better. The Mourchon isn’t available anymore, but the also excellent 2009 Louis Jadot Moulin a Vent Chateau des Jacques is, and at $80 I can’t fathom a better bang for the buck wine for your next tony party.

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CedarCreek Platinum Riesling 2012

CedarCreek Platinum Riesling 2012

BC, $25

A few times a year the BC Wine Institute gathers a group of wine people together and they’re lead through a blind tasting by the always cool and crazy knowledgeable Rhys Pender, MW. A few months back, I noted how in a blind tasting of Pinot Noirs the $19 Spierhead from just outside Kelowna showed amazingly well against much higher priced Pinots from around the world. This edition saw Rhys focusing on Riesling, a grape beloved by oenophiles and largely ignored by the general population. Tasting Okanagan Riesling blind is murder because different producers make it in radically different styles. Most, fearful of producing wine that’s regarded as too sweet, emphasize the wines austere character, resulting in almost flinty wines with a classic nose of petrol stored in a used honey jar. But there are a number of producers who embrace the grape’s sweeter side, and when they balance it with proper acidity, it makes for a wonderful glass that no one would mistake for Sauvignon Blanc. Summerhill falls into this camp, as does this week’s wine, from CedarCreek, which was one of the crowd faves at the tasting. It’s low in alcohol and relatively high in sweetness, but with a acidic backbone that keeps it from being cloying in the least. I’d love this wine with some sticky glazed ribs or anything with some heat—and the price is right where it should be for a wine of this quality.

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Township 7 Reserve 7

Township 7 Reserve 7

BC, $34.95

I was back in Alberta for the long weekend and I brought a slew of BC wines to try with friends who either don’t have access or have preconceived ideas about BC wines that I’m anxious to disabuse them of. I will say I continue to be disheartened by the prices that wine in AB has climbed to. I remember when privatization first arrived—Veuve Cliquot Le Grande Dame for $65!—but now it seems that the only great deals are in the whisky area (Superstore sells Laphroaig Quarter Cask for $40.50). BC wine in particular is really expensive, prohibitively so, so it was nice to arrive with a few bottles. My fave was a bottle of Township 7 Reserve 7 from 2007. When I first tasted this wine on release, I noted that it was big fairly tannic and needed time, but I didn’t really know—I had no track record of tasting the wine and the entire Okanagan track record is still being written. In any event, by good fortune my educated guess turned out to be right on the money. The wine I had remembered as a beast has morphed into something great, full of rich, juicy flavours—red currant and cherries dominate—with a long, lingering finish. A really nice bottle that I’m sure won over a few more BC wine converts, and a great indication of a winery that’s doing something right. The New 2010 vintage ($34.95) is arriving soon and I expect good things.

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