Category Archives: Medium Red Wine

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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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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Louis Jadot Combes Aux Jacques Beaujolais Villages 2010

Louis Jadot Combes Aux Jacques Beaujolais Villages 2010

France, $20

We’ve just finished a multi-page survey of all that is great in Burgundy (look for it in our June Issue) and this week’s selection riffs of that. Beaujolais—and in particular Cru Beaujolais that come from one of 10 designated areas—have been all the rage with sommeliers in the past few years.

But while there are some stars out there, sadly my experience is that given the high prices (often in the $40 range) they attract in Canada, I’d rather spend my money elsewhere—like two bottles of this exquisite bottle from Jadot.

It’s a category down from Cru, Beaujolais Villages, but who cares when you get this fresh, balanced wine with floral and
strawberry notes?

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Mazzei Castello di Fonterutoli Badiola 2010

Niepoort Dialogo Branco Douro 2011

Italy, $20

Like everyone else, I go through wine phases where I get hooked on a certain grape or region and ride it until I get bored. Well, I’ve been on a Chianti kick for about 16 months and every time I think it’s time to switch gears I run into a wine like this smoking deal for Mazzei that has me fall in love all over again.

It’s the Manny Pacquiao of wines, powerful without being overly heavy, with waves of dark cherry and dried cranberry. At 70% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon it is technically a super-Tuscan, not a Chianti, so maybe I am expanding my horizons a bit—though its big brother, the Fonterutoli Chianti Classico, is also amazing. And if you love the point scores, our pals at the Wine Spectator gave it 92 of ‘em.

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