Archive for September, 2019

The Annual Bordeaux Release Frenzy – and Why not to get sucked into it!

September 24, 2019

Okay, its that time of the year again, both for the annual release of the new Bordeaux…and my blog about how to avoid it!

Now, as I say every year, I know that Bordeaux makes probably the world’s most famous wines. And they are definitely what most wine lovers – and dweebs like me – covet. I admit it – when I started out in wine, these were the ones that I bought for my cellar.

But over the past 35 years, I have learned and evolved as a wine drinker…and learned a few things. So let me pass some of them on to you!

  1. If you haven’t tried Bordeaux before, do it before you invest the big bucks

This is the first thing I tell people who ask me about Bordeaux or any other wine. You need to try a wine before you buy it, particularly if you are going to spend a lot of money on it.

Red Bordeaux is a blend of four or five major grapes (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc). But more importantly, it is made in a style that emphasizes wood and herbs over fruit. This is not a California wine, and it won’t get fruiter as it gets older. Try it first…if you like it, then go for it. But if you go “meh” …there are other options for you.

  1. 99% of the wines are overpriced and not worth it

Even if you do like the style, the vast majority of the wines are way overpriced, and not worth it. You really need $100+++ to get a decent wine…and, in my opinion, that is just too much money. I can give you lots of other wines that you can buy 2 bottles or more for that price that are better value.

  1. Except for the best, most expensive wines, they won’t get better as they age

This is perhaps the biggest myth of Bordeaux…buy it young and tannic, but after 15+ years it will evolve into something amazing.

Sorry, but that is a bunch of bull****!

If it is woody and herbal when young, chances are it will be like that when it is old too. Again, the most expensive wines may be different, but the vast majority will never get any different or better as they age.

  1. Don’t fall for they hype

I’m a PR guy, that’s what I do for a living. So believe me when I tell you…don’t fall for the “vintage of the century” stuff! There are good years and bad years, but it rarely ever gets amazing…and certainly not amazing enough to justify the price.

  1. Don’t buy the wine…but go get free boxes!

Finally, if you have or are building a wine cellar, I do recommend one thing about the annual Bordeaux release…go and get the beautiful wooden boxes that are left over after the wines are sold! Many chateaux pack their wines in gorgeous 12 bottle wooden boxes, and most stores just throw them out after the sale (since most people can’t afford to my more than a couple at a time). But the boxes – turn them on their side, and…voila, instant wine rack, and eminently stackable! Go grab a few (I know I will).

So, there you go…my annual Bordeaux blog…take it or leave it, but as they say in the business…buyer beware!


What’s up with Fraser Valley Wine in the Summer of 2019 – Part 2: The Old Guard  

September 12, 2019

Similar to what I did for Vancouver Island, I am grouping my wine tasting tour into two parts. The first I am calling “the old guard”, as these are wineries I have been going to for years now.

First stop was Domaine Chaberton in Langley, and for more than the wine – the restaurant Bacchus Bistro! One of the great secrets of the Valley, this is as good a French bistro as you will find anywhere, including in Vancouver. Duck confit, boeuf bourgignon, pate, French onion soup – they have it all, large portions, great quality and value. Plus most of their wines are by the glass!!

After “fueling up” there, I tasted the latest of their wines, and three continue to stand out for me. For whites, they make a great oaked Chardonnay – their Reserve – which is made in classic California style, with lovely vanilla and butter covered citrus. I also love their Rose – called “Pink” – which is a touch on the off-dry side, but wonderfully fruity and fresh. Last but not least, their Syrah. I think it is their best red wine, made in a Rhone style, which means pepper, earth, dried cherries – and no oak. It drinks well now, but also ages for up to 5 years.

From Chaberton, I circled back to Vista D’Oro, a somewhat eclectic winery and farm. I say “eclectic” because you never know what they will have available! In the past, I have had wonderful Pinot Noirs – made from Vancouver Island grapes – but this time there was only Marechal Foch. But that was fine! They make one of the best around – ripe, meaty, full of fruit and no oak. Not for keeping/aging, but what a joy to drink now!

The last of my “old guard” is out in Abbotsford – Mt. Lehman Winery. Verne has been making great wines for ridiculously low prices for years, and this visit was no different. The had almost ten different wines to taste!

Most impressive? For me, on the whites…it was their Reserve Chardonnay. I am a big “oaked” Chardonnay fan – I know, not a popular thing these days – and this is absolutely gorgeous! Light gold, classic Cali style with vanilla and butter covered citrus fruit, but not too much wood on the finish. And it is under $20 with tax included! That is stupid good!

 Following a similar theme…Verne’s Pinot Noirs! His regular is – get this – is $12.96 plus tax! You can’t find a better wine value from BC or anywhere for that price! Bright cherry fruit, a touch of vanilla and spice…it would blow away other Pinots at twice that price!

Except for his Reserve Pinot, of course! The 2014 is the same price as his Reserve Chardonnay…and even better! If Burgundy, or California or the Okanagan could make a wine like this for that price…simply amazing! Ripe cherries and tannins, just the right balance of wood and fruit…it is beautiful at almost 5 years old now, but I bought a few to see how they age…crazy good!

That is it for my old guard…some new finds next week!