Back at work this week after taking the first part of August off and wanted to start back in with some wine reflections from our holidays!
1. Portland is a great wine city, too!
Portland, Oregon has a justified reputation as a great food city, as we definitely confirmed during our recent five day stay. But what surprised me a bit was how great the wine scene was as well — and not just for Oregon wines! The restaurants have great — and reasonably priced — wine lists, aided in no small part by no sales tax. For example, at a couple of places we tried mini-flights of Oregon Pinot Noirs that made for an easy and cost efficient way to taste increasingly complex wines. At the trendy Gruner, I found an entire wine list made up of German, Austrian and Alsace wines (including a Zweigelt that was a very nice red!). At James Beard award winner Nostrana, they had a 94 point Parker Chianti Classico for $67, and a 2001 Produttori Barbaresco for $85! And don’t get me started on the Vinopolis wine store — there were literally twenty highly rated wines (from Barolo, to Barbaresco, Brunello, Chateauneuf du Pape and high end California Cabs) at ridiculously low prices!
2. Rose really is the wine of summer!
As the weather turned great in August and finally got hot, we started to drink Roses and, boy, are they refreshing in the heat! I know I already blogged on Roses this year, but we really couldn’t get enough of them. And the best of them seem to come from right here in BC — La Frenz, Averill Creek, Mt. Lehman and Domaine de Chaberton were our favourites this year. Even better, the prices are often well below $20, so it was easy to go through a case!
3. Cafe Brio in Victoria remains among the best wine restaurants around
We always try to go to this gem on Fort Street for our anniversary, both for the food and the wine. Once again, both didn’t disappoint. And what great pricing — we had the 2010 La Frenz Sauvignon Blanc for $40!!!! Unbelievable value and perfect with our food.
4. The Fraser Valley has moved ahead of Vancouver Island when it comes to wine.
I got a chance to taste a bit on both sides of the water and was blown away by the quality and value in the Valley. More to come on this up and coming area, but with Mt. Lehman, Vista d’Oro and Blackwood Lane, in particular, there is really good wine being made there. And — aside from Andy Johnston at Averill Creek in Duncan — it is better than what is being made on the Island. Plus its a heck of a lot easier to find the wineries — the signage on the Island is ridiculous, so bad that in once case I just gave up trying.
5. Vancouver restaurant wine pricing is, for the most part, out of control.
We ate at a number of places at home as well — old favourites and new ones — and while the food is great, Vancouver restaurant wine pricing is getting crazy at most places. When you have to pay $13 – $14 for a decent glass of wine, something is wrong. And there is no excuse for that, especially with the wine values you can find out there, including from BC. Almost not worth drinking in a restaurant anymore!
Ah well, back to reality and work. But it was a great summer of food and wine. Next week, look for me to resume my reviews of some of the Fraser Valley wineries!