Monthly Archives: March 2014

Vinos De Finca Losada Bierzo 2009

 

vinos-de-finca-losada-bierzo-2009Spain, $25

 

I’m writing this from spring break in Kauai and amid the swell weather, bathwater warm water and soring peaks exists the depressing reality that even here, 4000 kilometers from the nearest wine-producing region, wine is cheaper than it is in Western Canada. On the plus side, I’m here and enjoying it—on behalf of all of us, I like to think. Last night at the surprisingly sophisticated Bar Acuda in the chill little village of Hanalei, they had wine from the very up-and-coming Bierzo region of Spain by the glass and it seemed like an oasis in a sea of the mass market California Cabs that dominate the wine lists on the Islands. Bierzo reds normally use the relatively obscure Mencia grape (the Portuguese call it Jaen), which is a little like Cabernet Franc (in the nose) and a little like Barbera (in the body). They’re tough to find in Western Canada but this week’s wine is a nice (if a tiny bit pricey) entry into the region and the grape. Expect some really zippy acidity and great freshness with some wild strawberry notes.

 

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Bartier Scholefield Red 2011

bartier-scholefield-red

BC, $20

“Respect for tradition.” It’s a line on the back of this bottle of wine and it’s by all means an admirable sentiment in the wine world—I just don’t have any idea how it found itself on the back of a wine that blends Merlot with Syrah (a little odd), Gamay (supremely odd) and Pinot Noir (Zelda Fitzgerald crazy). Thankfully, when you know the rules, then you can break them and there are few teams more aware of how unorthodox this blend is than winemaker Michael Bartier and partner David Scholefield. And what they’ve created is a wine that by defying convention has become one of the more memorable BC wines out there. If the Loire made Merlot it would taste like this—light and supremely fresh—but I find that there’s a not-subtle undercurrent of pepper and spice that keeps the wine from being more than “summer sipper”. It’s a wine that I can see Jon Rimmerman, the globetrotting wine merchant behind garagiste, raving about. It’s unique, it’s handcrafted and speaks to a place. Oh, and it’s $20. Not bad for a vanguard.

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Periquita 2011

periquita

Portugal, $10
A group of esteemed restaurant judges were in the offices last week and choosing wine for them is always a trick—their palates are pampered and they’re used to a pretty rarified level of imbibing. To make matters worse, the wine room at the office was at a near all time low in terms of variety. And then I found it, tucked away and forgotten at the bottom of one shelf was this bottle—a 2005 Periquita with the foil removed. For those of you who don’t know Periquita, it’s a workhouse value Portuguese red that’s been over-delivering to the under $10 crowd for years. It’s a blend of castelao (a grape few outside of Portugal have ever heard of), trincadeira (a grape that sounds like a deadly bacteria) and aragonez (actually tempranillo but the Portuguese like to call it something else just to complicate matters) and it’s decidedly not modern—it delivers a rustic idea of red fruit—and it’s not meant for aging. It’s own tasting notes say it has a shelf life of 6 years after bottling and the bottle I had was already on year 9.

And it was great. It was a little tired and most of its freshness had long gone, but it retained an earthy elegance and the years had rubbed all its elbows smooth. It was like a little Hobbit who had made an incredible journey and I couldn’t help but be impressed by it. I weekly drink scores of $20+ wine that wouldn’t make this journey with the same grace that this under $10 had done.

 

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Pascal Bouchard Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2010

pascal-bouchard-fourchaume

France, $54 

The greatest white wine in the world has been announced! Well, announced by me, but still. Last week the Chablis gang was in town and I couldn’t have been more excited had the Beatles gotten back together (maybe a little more surprised I suppose). The fact is that notwithstanding my excitement at tasting new wines from new regions, the honest truth is that no white wine region is closer to my heart in Chablis. It’s beautiful, it’s hellishly hard to grow grapes there (it gets so cold that they will often water the grapes so the water will freeze and forma protective barrier) and the wines that come out are a relative bargain given all the factors they deal with. You can get a basic Chablis for $25—cheaper than any California Chardonnay with any sort of connection to an identifiable plot of land—a Premier Cru starting at about $40 and a Grand Cru at about $75 (and up). And for that money you get the purest most nuanced handling of the Chardonnay grape in the world. I’m choosing a wonderful Premier Cru from Pascal Bouchard from the Fourchaume vineyard (there are 89 Premier Crus and I don’t pretend to know the difference between all of them) and it sees some time with some used oak, enough to impart some structure but not make it okay by any stretch. Instead you get a wave a crisp, green apples, both fresh and serious with asmall linger of white fruit. What a wine, what a region.

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