Posts Tagged ‘Mouton Rothschild’


October 18, 2018

I get the question a lot, and I’m sure we have all heard it – what’s the best wine? Seems simple…but its not…and the answer really goes to what wine is all about!

At the most basic, “best” is a relative term, whether in business, sports or wine. And that’s because it all depends on what you, the individual, value the most.

Wine is a great example. We just went through the annual Bordeaux release. Regardless of the quality of the vintage, there are some of the world’s most famous wineries involved, names that are legends – Lafite, Mouton-Rothschild, Latour, Petrus…but does that make them the best, or making the best wine?

This is an easy example for me, because – deep breath – I don’t like Bordeaux. So my answer would be “no”.

But the reason I don’t like it is actually the answer to the definition of “best”…I don’t like the Bordeaux style of wine. Herbaceous, woody, super tannic…and not a lot of fruit (at least in the cheaper wines, as I have never been able to afford the wines I mentioned above).

So for me, I would say the best wines come from the Cotes du Rhone – north or south, made from Grenache and Syrah – or the Piedmonte in Italy (Barolos and Barbaresco). The mix of ripe fruit and underlying herbs, lack of oak/wood, ageability…that is the recipe for “best” for me.

When I started getting into wine over 35 years ago, a wine educator said “the best wine is the wine you like the best”. That seemed simplistic to me at the time, but the more wine I have tasted and drunk over the years, the more I believe he was right.

So the next time someone asks you “what is the best wine”, answer it with another question…”what wine do you like the best”?

Because that’s the answer!



February 1, 2017

Okay, been a while, but I am back…and with the Vancouver International Wine Festival just a couple of weeks away, how about a primer on two of the most popular grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir – and what you can expect from their wines.

While the grapes are very different in terms of where they are grown and their flavour profiles, they are somewhat similar in terms of the two primary styles of wine.

The more traditional style for both grape varieties is what is usually called old world. For Cabernet Sauvignon, that tends to mean from Bordeaux (where it is usually the main player in a blend of grapes) and Burgundy (where Pinot Noir stands alone, except for the Beaujolais region). Both are from France.

What are the characteristics of that style? Well, in my experience and taste, the emphasis is more on wood – usually oak and cedar – and herbs. Tannins, too, tend to dominate, particularly when the wines are young. As they subside, the result can be smooth, but the amount of fruit that is still there? Except for the great wines – which are way too expensive for me – it is usually long gone.

You can probably tell, these are not my style of wines. I have had a small number of mind boggling older Burgundies and Bordeaux, but that is more than offset by the number of woody, herbal and dried out Bordeaux and Burgundy wines (young and old). Having said that, they are the most popular red wines in the world!

But there is another style of wine which I really like…some call it new world, but it has one key word to describe it – fruit!

Luscious black currants and cassis for Cabernet Sauvignons, and cherries (black and red) for Pinot Noir. Lovely vanilla and spice can overlay but not dominate this fruit.

You probably already know where the best of these kinds of wines come from! The USA – California, Oregon (for Pinot Noirs) and Washington (for Cabernet Sauvignons). But also from Australia and my home province of British Columbia (especially for Pinot Noir).

And don’t think that “fruity” means they can’t age. Some of the Cali Cabs can easily go for 15 – 20 years without losing their fruit.

Ironically, the best ones can also be almost as expensive as their French cousins (as anyone who has heard of so-called “cult wines” like Screaming Eagle or Harlan Estates).

What does this mean for the VIWF? Well, in looking at the list of wineries, I would recommend trying the following wineries in each of the styles:
• Old World Cabernet – Baron Phillipe de Rothschild, Dourthe, Borie Manoux (France), Mission Hill, Osoyoos Larose, Jackson Triggs (B.C.)
• New World Cabernet – Kendall Jackson, Robert Mondavi (California), Columbia Crest (Washington), La Frenz (B.C.)
• New World Pinot Noir – Etude (California), Whitehaven (New Zealand), La Frenz, Howling Bluff, Averill Creek, NkMip (B.C.)



What’s the Real Value of a Wine Label?

April 15, 2015

Wine labels are back in the news up here, with a story that one BC winery hired some branding/marketing firm to produce a whole series of provocative labels for new wines in the hope that would drive sales. Interestingly, the story said nothing about what the wines actually tasted like…just what they looked like!

That led me to thinking – what is the real value of a wine label?

Certainly many wineries – or their marketing people – think “lots”! It seems like ever since Yellow Tail came out with their colourfully labelled, low-priced wines about a decade ago, a whole range of wineries from around the world have followed suit. Some are funny, many – at least to me – are not. And some are just plain offensive.

The history of this actually goes way back, as the Bordeaux winery Chateau Mouton-Rothschild has had famous painters produce their labels for years. That included Picasso, who’s 1973 label ended up being worth way more than the wine itself (and not just because if was from a poor year).

The goal is obvious – to have the colourful/interesting/provocative labels make those wines stand out from the competition, in the hope that people will try them over other wines.

But don’t you still have to have a good wine to back it up? And if it is a good wine anyway, why the need for all the extra work on the label (which may also drive up the cost of actual wine)?

Now I have nothing against being clever in the name. d’Arenberg’s wines, for example, all have strange and interesting names (like Hermit Crab, Galvo Garage, Stump Jump, Dead Arm). But they are just printed on the label and then it is explained on the back. And, of course, many of them are outstanding wines!

Mollydooker goes further with its illustrations…but they also make amazing wine. And let’s not forget Bonny Doon in California…their Le Cigar Volant was bit of a shot at Chateauneuf du Pape…but it was also very nice wine.

I guess my point is if you make great wine, then people will buy it. Personally, I am at the point now where if I see a bizarre label or name, I just walk on by.

Call me old-fashioned, but I want what’s inside…not what is on the outside!