Monthly Archives: November 2013

Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva 2010

Argentina, $18

Every year the Wine Spectator announces their Top 100 about this time, and every year I vow I’m not going to get sucked on go on some wild goose chase trying to track down the named bottles—and every year I get sucked into doing it notwithstanding. In my defense, I was in Oregon at Domaine Serene (whose Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir was #3) when the list was announced so I’d have to truly have been a man of principle to not buy a bottle. Back across the border in a less liberal wine-buying climate, the story is usually a bit more bleak—the wine is harder to find and when you do, it’s double the price that’s listed in the magazine. I say usually because #36 is the Bodega Norton Malbec Reserve 2010—and it’s listed as $2 more expensive than it is here. Admittedly, it’s for the newer vintage (we’re still mostly on the 2010) but look at this way: you get a free year of bottle age and Norton isn’t exactly the type of winery with discernible quality swings between vintages, so load up. The WS folks say it taste like raspberry ganache, which I suppose it does, but there’s some nice structure to go with the sweet fruit and even some nice smoky notes.

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Laughing Stock Portfolio 2006


Aging wine is such a dicey proposition. You have so many variables—temperature, light, tannins, wines entering “dumb” periods when their aromas shut down—in play that it’s always a crap shoot what the result will be. But people still do it because when it all works out, it’s such a revelation. I was thinking about all of this last week at Whistler’s Cornucopia with my nose deep in a bottle of Laughing Stock’s Portfolio from 2006. It had the heady, slightly musty nose that shows the wine has been hanging out for a long while. And while the tannins had softened, it was still a pretty formidable wine with deep black fruit notes and a muscular structure that showed just how well Merlot (which is the majority of blend) grows on the Naramata Bench. It was drinking really well, but my guess is it’ll continue to do so for the next several years. Good luck finding a bottle—though the 2011 vintage is available in magnum ($100) and the always awesome double magnum ($200) if you are in possession of just a little patience.

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2011 Romain Duverny Vacqueyras

France, $26

I hate how much we have to pay for wine in Canada—we call a bottle under $15 a “bargain” wine. But it’s not all hopeless. In the midst of our rough misery there diamonds, like this week’s wine. It sort of has everything you want. For starters, it’s priced less here than it is in most states. If you’re the type who loves high scores (which, if we’re being honest, is 98% of us) Parker has given the last two vintages 93 & 91 pts respectively. And it looks great—a beautifully understated label married to a substantial bottle. And I’m not sure there’s a wine I like ordering more, by which I mean actually saying the name than Vacqueyras. “I’ll have the Vah keh rahs.” Only its neighbor, Gigondas, holds a candle to it, linguistically speaking.

And then finally, there’s the wine, a Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre joint venture. It’s heavy duty. Big and brawny, with dark licorice and black cherries. It’s juicy without being sweet and could handle being open for three days without wilting.

In short it’s a bottle that says all is not lost BC and Alberta wine lovers.

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2010 Lake Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon

Alexander Valley, $27

I see it every summer. American tourists coming up to cruise or Stampede looking at our restaurants’ wine lists and recoiling i

n horror at the prices shown for California wines. How does a Seghesio Zinfandel go from $11.99 (with Safeway Club Card) in La Quinta to $75 on a wine list up here? “Free health care ain’t free,” one pal quipped recently and the truth is the taxes on wine are ludicrous, and no area fares worse under this sad regime than California. We get absolutely jacked when it comes to California wine up here, which kills me because I love California wine.

The result is I hardly ever get to drink good California Cabernet anymore. I don’t mean that gunk that is labeled Central Coast or some other appellation so enormous that it’s meaningless without further refinement. The best option in BC is Beringer’s excellent (and priced accordingly at $45) Knights Valley Sonoma Cab—until now.

Tony Stewart of Quail’s Gate and Ted Zepponi (formerly of ZD Winery and Mission Hill, now Valley of the Moon) brought out a Napa Cab—Plume—a few years back, and at $30 it was the best-priced Napa juice around. Now they’re back with a new offering—a Sonoma Can from the famed Alexander Valley—and it’s $27. The only other Alexander Valley Cab available at the BC Liquor stores is Silver Oak, and its $80.

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