Monthly Archives: December 2013

Black Sage Merlot

BC, $110

A few months back I gushed a bit (ok, a lot) over the amazing deal that is the magnum of Jadot Moulin a Vent Cru Beaujolais—at $80 one of my favourite deals out there. Magnums are festive, celebratory but serious. Double magnums (or the Jeroboam if we’re using Christian names) are all that and then some. The corks are tough to get out and they’re really difficult to pour but I guarantee that every one of your guests will remember this bottle long after thousands of others have faded from their memories. The downside is that they are usually ungodly expensive— bottle of Cristal in this format is $2,730 at the BCLDB. But what I did run across the other day strolling the aisles is this behemoth from relative newcomer (who owns some seriously old vines) Black Sage. A giant with a gentle $110 price, it’s a merlot which seems like it sees a fair bit of oak, which adds some structure to it’s juicy dark fruit palate, and it’s drinking well right now. This isn’t the stuff Miles hated in Sideways, and Lord knows he would appreciate someone arriving at his place this Christmas with a Jeroboam tucked under their arm.

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Meyer Family Vineyards McLean Creek Pinot Noir 2011

Okanagan BC, $40

I was in Oregon’s Willamette Valley two weeks ago, and two things struck me. The first is it’s amazing to see what specialization can do for a region. Both Oregon and BC started seriously growing around the same but whereas they hitched their wagon early-on to Pinot Noir, we bounced around trying all sorts of varietals. As a result they’re known for world-class Pinot while we’re still seeking our place. True, they could never successfully grow some of the varietals we can (like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc….) but I don’t think you can underestimate the power of a tighter focus.

The other thing is how good a value our Pinot is at the top end. Most estate wine in Oregon starts at $50 US and the single vineyard varietals can be easily double that. In BC, our high-end single vineyard isgenerally in the $40-45 range and while it’s a small group, they produce wines I’d be proud to serve alongside their American brethren. A case in point is this $40 Pinot for Meyer Family Vineyards. This is one of my favourite wineries in BC and this wine is elegant and fresh, but not thin. Great dark cherry and cedar notes. It’s not as big as a Russian River Pinot, but not as austere as Oregon—and sweet spot where all of our great Pinots seem to land. A seriously good gift bottle for any BC skeptic.

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Taittinger Nocturne Series

France, $90

 

There’s no wine I’m more conflicted by than true French Champagne. On the one hand, it’s by definition expensive and its creation doesn’t follow the rules of vintage and terrior that we expect from everybody else. On the other hand, there’s nothing more exciting than getting a bottle of great champagne as a gift. And choosing your brand is no small choice. In this way it has more in common with cars and fashion that it does with other wine. Are you a BMW or a Bentley person, Boss or Zegna, Dom or Cristal? My personal choice was birthed by two occasions—the privatization of liquor stores in Alberta in the early 90s which made it, for a while, one of the cheapest places to buy Champagne in the world. And my childhood love of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. Forget what you see in the movies —especially the Roger Moore ones—James Bond drank Taittinger.

Can one man be so shallow you ask? Sort of. I love drinking other brands too, Krug and Veuve Le Grand Dame are also faves, but if you ask me what brand I identify with the most its Taittinger. So how happy am I that we now have these two new bottles just in time for Christmas? The Nocturne Rose for BC and the Sec for Alberta. Both have the same blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier but the rose gets an extra shot of red to get the rose colour (Champagne’s unique way of making rose). Both have been laid down for four year, and let’s be honest, both pretty much say it’s time to celebrate now at a fraction of the price of an Aston Martin.

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