Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

2013 New Year’s Wine Resolutions

January 9, 2013

Happy New Year and welcome to the first wine blog of 2013!

I always try and spend a little time thinking about any “wine resolutions” I have to start a new year, so here are few for your consideration:

1. Drink my white wines young

This is a continuation of a resolution from last year, as I started to find that many of the white wines in my cellar were getting too “old” before I drank them. In particular, the Chardonnays had gotten so golden and oaky that I couldn’t taste the fruit anymore! So “drink’em young” is the motto for white wines, with the exceptions of Rieslings and Gewurztraminers.

2. End the Garnacha and oaked-Malbec experiment

Last year, one of my resolutions was to “suck it up” and try more Spanish Grenache-based wines, as they offer tremendous value (according too many critics). But…well…it didn’t work. Something about the way the oak integrates into these wines just doesn’t work for me. And it is the same thing with oak-aged Malbecs – the fruit seems to get lost in the wood. So, bye-bye to these wines!

3. Avoid the red Bordeaux temptation

I was successful in this one last year, and vow to repeat it. Given the style of most Bordeaux – or at least the ones I can afford – I just don’t like the woody, herbal, lean style of these wines. Even those rated highly and said to age for years just seem to get woodier over time. So no matter the accolades and scores, I will not go there again this year!

4. Spend a little more per bottle on wines I really like

I had a number of older Rhone wines (Syrah and Grenache-based) as well as Barolos and Barbarescos over the holidays, and realized once again how much I love these wines when then get to be 10, 15 and even 20 years of age! The challenge for me over the last few years, however, is the prices for most of them (including even Chateauneuf du Pape) have skyrocketed over my $50 a bottle limit, so I haven’t bought many. Well, without breaking the bank, I am going to change that this year! As I get older, I want more of these wines around to drink…so if it means spending $60, $70 or even $80 on a very highly rated wine that will age that long, I am going to do it!

5. Write a wine book on the best BC wines

Finally, I have been thinking for years about writing a wine book specifically focused on the BC wineries – and wines – that I think are the best. Well, this is the year I am going to write it! Watch for it on my website in either the spring of summer of 2013.

So there you go – five wine resolutions for 2013. Now, on with the year!

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com

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HOLIDAY SHOPPING FOR BC WINES!

December 12, 2012

Okay, second last wine blog of the year, and let’s focus on the best BC wines that are currently available in the government liquor stores.

Reds first this time, starting with what may be the best BC red wine value since the 1998 Tinhorn Creek Merlot. It’s another Merlot, although this time from Cassini Cellars, and what an amazing wine! Purple, super ripe – but not jammy – black plums, a touch of earth and herbs, and no oak in sight anywhere. Incredible wine, and for $17.99, a ridiculous value as well.

For a couple of bucks more, a nice Pinot Noir from one of BC’s most consistent wineries. Nk Mip Cellars makes very nice Pinot Noir, year in, year out, and the 2010 is no exception. Look for a Cali/Burgundy cross here from a style perspective – lots of ripe, red cherry fruit, but also earth, spice and a bit of mushroom. At less than $20, this wine would give many Pinots from around the world a serious run for their money.

Finally, a Bordeaux blend. Now, nobody faint – I know they are not my style of wine. But this one – from Moon Curser – is very nice, and nicely priced! The 2010 Border Vines is a mix of all the usual grapes, but much riper than most of these kinds of wines. It shows black currants, oak and cedar, but the former is equal to the latter, making it very nice to drink. And that is the case both now and for the future, as there are some tannins here that will allow it to age and develop for 3 – 5 years. It’s $24.99 – compare that to $45+++, and you will see the value!

So what about white wines? Well, Quail’s Gate once again gives us a nice dry Riesling, which might be their best wine (next to the Marechal Foch). Bone dry, it has classic flinty, minerally, citrus fruit – crisp, medium bodied, and very nice to drink now. It is also very reasonably priced at $16.99.

Moon Curser grabs another recommendation for five bucks more with its 2010 Afraid of the Dark. This is a rarity for BC – a blend of white Rhone grape varietals, and it is a beauty. Avoiding the resiny taste that sometimes comes with these wines, it is dry, not too fruity, and surprisingly full-bodied. For $21.90 it competes well with other wines in that price category.

The final white is another new addition to the BC Liquor stores – the 2010 Alibi by Black Hills. Because of drastically increasing costs, this is the only wine I can still recommend from the winery (the red Nota Bene is over $53 now!!!). It is a gorgeous Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend, very much like a white Graves from Bordeaux. Look for a touch of oak, crisp, dry citrus, and medium body. At $24.90, it isn’t cheap, but its French cousins are more than twice that much, hence the value!

Finally, sweet and sparkling! For the latter, an amazing value given the style. The NV Brut by Neck of the Woods in Langley, B.C. tastes like a classic Champagne – toasty, yeasty, bone dry. Almost all wines of this style and quality are $50+++, so kudos to them for it!

Sweet wine recommendations are tougher in BC, but a fun one to try is actually made from fruit. In this case, its blackberries, and the NV Cowichan Blackberry by Cherry Point on Vancouver Island is like a good liqueur. A little goes a long way here, and it will do well at any holiday party!

So there is BC wines for the holidays! One more to go – my recommendations for Christmas Dinner next week.

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com

HOLIDAY WINE BLOG – BEST DEALS TO STOCK UP ON

December 5, 2012

Okay, next up are my picks for “best wine buys for the season”. These are the wines that you can either get by the case (if you are hosting a party) or take as a host/hostess gift. Regardless of the situation, you won’t break the bank…and your friends will be impressed with the quality of your wine selections!

Let’s start with white wines this time – a perennial best buy, and a newcomer that has blown me away the last couple of vintages. The first is the Viognier that Chilean winery Con Sur makes. Yes, it is on the ripe side for a Viognier, made in that fruit cocktail style. And, yes, it is so fruity that you almost mistake it for being sweet (although it’s not). But for the price — $10.99 – it is hard to beat. And it will turn more than a few heads at any holiday party.

The other white is the same price, but may be an even better value. I am not normally a big fan of South African wines, but the Two Oceans winery is doing some amazing things for ridiculously low prices. The 2011 Sauvignon Blanc might just be the best overall wine bargain around – classic, dry SB, with touches of herbs and grasses around crisp, dry citrus fruit. It tastes like it should cost $10 more, but is only $10.99 to start with! I imagine in places with lower alcohol taxes this is probably a $5 wine, which makes me cry!

On to the reds. A repeat from last year’s list and another perennial best buy in its own right, the Vin de Pays from Domaine de la Bastide is what an every day wine should be. It is made from Rhone varieties (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, etc) and exhibits that classic south of France style – dry, with earthy black cherries and no oak. A pleasure to drink, and amazing at $10.25.

At a buck and a half more, Castano’s Monastrell is also a great deal. Different grape, but the wine tastes very much like the Bastide, although perhaps a bit earthier. It is my favourite wine deal from Spain, and again has no oakiness at all. At $11.97, you can afford more than a couple of bottles.

So what about sparkling wine, then? Not usually something you consider a bargain…but there is, once again, a great value wine out there! It is also from Spain, the NV Brut by Segura Viudas. It is made in the classic “cava” style – green apples, crisp, dry but also fruity, with nice bubbles. At $15.99, it is affordable enough to serve at an open house!

Finally, sweet wine. Not many will serve sweet wine during the holidays, but if you are having cheese, nuts, etc., you would be surprised how well it goes (and will be received). If you want to go that way, try the 2011 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Chilean winery Concha Y Toro. A Sauternes “look a like”, it is golden yellow, with sweet fruit on the nose and nice caramel/toffee flavours. A little goes a long way with sweet wine, so at $14.99, a couple of bottles will probably do.

So there you go! A selection of best buys that will make any party, house warming, event, etc. a hit. And they won’t break the bank!

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com