Archive for January, 2011

A Value-Priced BC Wine List That Any Restaurant Could Have – Part 1

January 28, 2011

 I’ve heard a bit lately about wine lists and prices at restaurants in B.C.  Most of it has been around the usual complaints i.e. too big a mark up on the wines, either too big or too little selection, “price gouging” for wines by the glass, etc.

That got me thinking about what my idea restaurant wine list would be! In putting this together, I had a couple of simple rules:

  • all BC wines – with all the great wine produced here, there is no reason not to have a BC-heavy wine list
  • maximum mark up of 100% – I know many restaurants go further than that (some hotel restaurants can get up to 300%), but that seems not only ridiculous but unnecessary; if you can find value priced wines (and I have), volume purchase increases should more than cover for the reasonable mark up prices
  • all wines served by the 4.5 oz glass – at these prices, there is no reason the wines shouldn’t be available by the glass. And they will “move” quickly, so there should be no fears of wasted wine.
  • only wines made in sufficient quantities – while I would love to put wines like the Kettle Valley Hayman Vineyard Pinot Noir or Blue Mountain Reserve Pinot Noir on the list, those wineries just don’t make enough of it; so let’s be realistic
  • it doesn’t have to be “War and Peace” – value and selection trump quantity, in my books, so short and simple is the approach; 10 whites and 10 reds, with a couple of sparklers and sweet wines

Alright, with the ground rules set, here we go with Pa rt 1 – Sparkling and White Wines:

Sparkling Wines Description $/bottle $/glass
NV Brut

– Blue Mountain

Classic Cava style, great bubbles, crisp and dry

50

8

Allegria Rose

– Zanatta

Vintage Rose in champagne-style; big body, like a red wine

55

9

Fatima Brut

– Zanatta

Also vintage, a dead ringer for real Champagne at a fraction of the price!

55

9

       
White Wines      
Alexandria

– La Frenz

Based on Muscat, incredibly fruity and fresh, but not sweet

36

6

Sauvignon Blanc

– La Frenz

Bone dry in the French Graves-style, crisp, touch of oak

44

7.50

Semillon

– Township 7

A touch less oak and more citrus 

30

5

Semillon

– La Frenz              

Similar in style to the T7 but bigger in body

44

7.50

Viognier

– La Frenz

Best in Canada, a medium bodied wine with classic flowers and ripe fruit

44

7.50

Riesling

 – La Frenz

Another “best wine”,  just a touch sweet but classic German flavour profile

38

6.50

Riesling

– Tantalus

Slightly drier than La Frenz, but still impressive

45

7.50

Chardonnay

– Nk Mip

California style, light oak, medium body, lovely vanilla and citrus

40

6.50

Chardonnay

– Township 7

Bigger and richer, with butterscotch and a touch of nuts with the fruit

40

6.50

Chardonnay

– Quinta Ferreira

Similar to T7 wine, just a tough lighter; still great value

40

6.50

 

There you go…part one of the BC wine list! Look for part two – reds and sweet wines – next week!

SB

www.sbwinesite.com

My New Year’s Wine Resolutions

January 6, 2011

As my first wine blog of 2011, I thought it made sense to share some “wine New Year’s resolutions” I made for 2011.  In no particular order, they are:

1. Drink the Chardonnay in my cellar much earlier

Readers will know by now that I am a big fan of oaked Chardonnays, with their wonderful creaminess and hints of vanilla, butter and nuts.  However, what I have found over the last couple of years is that even the best/most expensive versions from around the world are not aging all that well (despite what some of the wine “gurus” might recommend).  Instead, I have found that the oak overwhelms the fruit even after only a  few years.  So, starting this year, I will drink these wines younger — no more than 2 – 3 years of age — to ensure I enjoy them!

2. Make another attempt at Spanish Garnachas

For some reason, the style of Grenache-based wines from Spain just hasn’t worked for me. Maybe its the amount of oak used or some strange aspect of the “terroir”, but I have trouble finding the fruit in the wines a lot of the time.  This despite the fact that I love Grenache from France (Chateauneuf du Pape may be my favourite wine) and Australia (where there are some beautiful Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedres being made). And, at the same time, I know that some of the best bargains in the wine world are Garnachas from Spain.  So this year, I will try again…and report back on whether my palate is changing at all!

3. Don’t buy any more Bordeaux

I realize this will seem like heresy to many “winos” out there, but — with increasingly rare exceptions — I continue to be really disappointed by the Bordeaux I have been drinking from my cellar.  I’ve tried drinking them young and old, from various different grape mixtures and appellations but the result seems to be the same — a “cedar sandwich” (as one of my last wine tweets described). So no more  Bordeaux for the cellar!

4. Look for and try wines from BC’s “other” regions

I was so impressed with the wineries and wines from the Similkameen Valley and Vancouver Island during my wine trips last summer.  Both the quality and prices of the wines were very good, and it was refreshing to find so many vintners in both areas not falling into the “monster red wine” trap ((i.e. making wines that are so tannic you can’t taste the fruit and which will never resolve enough to be enjoyable).  While these wines are not as readily available as those from the Okanagan, they are obviously worth checking out.

5. Take more care in recording my wine comments

As I did the annual browse through my wine binders (pulling out recording sheets for wines that will be tried this year and putting back in those from 2010), I was struck once again by two things.  First, my wine journals are really a “diary of my life”, as they highlight not just the wine but when I drank it and what the occasion was. Births, deaths, special events — all are included with wine as the common backdrop.  However, I also found that many times my notes and comments have been scribbled down too fast, often to the point that I can’t read my own writing.  As  a result, I resolve to take more time — and care — with how I document things in 2011 to ensure I will be able to read about it clearly in future years.

6. Don’t feel the need to finish drinking a wine I don’t like

Wine is one of the great pleasures in my life, not for any status or pride reason but because I love the taste.  It is something I really look forward to at 5 pm each day, as I pour my wife and I a glass and consider the day that was (and the dinner/evening to come!). On the rare occasion that the wine I open is really not my style (or perhaps has deteriorated just a little too much in the bottle after being open for a day), it is really a disappointment. But this year — no more!  If it the wine really doesn’t work for me, on to the next bottle!  As my website says “Life is too short to drink bad wine”.

There you go, a few personal — and simple — wine resolutions for 2011. If you haven’t done so, you might want to make a few of your own!

SB

www.sbwinesite.com