Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Perrin’

2015 Victoria Wine Festival

September 23, 2015

I’m looking forward to my first trip to the Victoria Wine Festival. With family on Vancouver Island, we get there fairly often, and I try to ‘do’ the wineries once a year as well. But to date, I have been to their Festival.

And after scanning the wineries/wines, I am looking forward to it even more!

First and foremost, what a delightful surprise to see so many small, but great BC Wineries are going to be there! My tasting list will certainly include:

• Quail’s Gate – their Old Vines Marechal Foch is perhaps the best in BC, with rich, meaty flavours
• Moraine – a relative newcomer, Moraine is making great Rhone style Syrah, full of peppery, earthy cherries
• Howling Bluff – rapidly becoming the standard barrier for value-priced white wines, Luke’s
Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend is amazing, and his more expensive Pinot Noir shows great potential as well
in a Burgundy/Cali cross style
• Gray Monk – I stumbled across their sparkling rose (Odyssey Brut Rose) and was amazed at the fresh
strawberries in this wine
• Marichel – Richard is a Rhone-specialist! His Syrah is richer and riper than almost all others in Naramata
(think Aussie Shiraz without the jam) and his Viognier is old-school – floral, dry, with none of the fruit
cocktail flavours you get from many new world wines
• Perseus – another newcomer making great value wines, including a non-oaked Merlot that fairly bursts with
cherries and berries
• Eau Vivre – last but not least, this Similkameen Winery goes from success to success with its multiple award
winning Pinot Noir, which remains a steal at about $20!

With that list, I could spend a good part of my evening!

But it looks like there are other great wines to try as well. From France, I see Perrin’s Vacqueyras Le Christin, a Grenache blend from the southern Rhone that is accessible young but ages beautifully; it is an annual Robert Parker favourite, and I have multiple vintages in my cellar.

Italy is well represented with Barolos from Damilano, Altesino’s Brunello di Montalcino, and Amarones by La Dama. These are expensive wines and it is great to get a chance to taste them in this format! The challenge is deciding if there is enough fruit to survive the tannin…but I am up for it!

Finally, don’t forget California! Ravenswood has a couple of Zinfandels, which are classic blackberry bombs! Belle Glos’ single vineyard Pinot Noir is also there, which I have never tasted but heard good things about. And Stag’s Leaps’s Petite Sirah, usually a brooding giant of a red wine with years of aging in it.

Sparkling, white and red…that will be my tasting strategy, and I will try to tweet out my tasting notes in real time!

So stay tuned, and if you want more info about the event, check out the website at



Holiday Blog #1 – Red Wines

December 4, 2014

Alright, three blogs left for 2014, so let’s focus on holiday wines. Today, we will start with red wines, with recommendations for all occasions. White wines next week, and we will finish with sparklers and sweet wines the week before Christmas.

1. Open Houses/Big Dinner Parties

In a lot of ways, this is the toughest category, because while you need to potentially serve wine to a lot of guests – and want it to be good – you also don’t want to break the bank. So you need to try and keep the wines to under $15 if possible.

My first “go to” region is the Cotes du Rhone in the south of France (and the regions around it). Even with the vagaries of exchange rates, there are lots of relative bargains out there. Most of these wines are blends – mainly Grenache and Syrah, with a smattering of Mourvedre and Carignan mixed in – but the big reason they are popular with many people is they lack oak. That means instead of cedary, woody aromas and flavours, you get cherries and berries, herbs, earth and pepper. Up here, my best pick is the Vin de Pays by Domaine la Bastide, a GSM mix that goes for $10.95 a bottle. The Ventoux by La Vieille Ferme is also a good bet for a few bucks more. And don’t worry about the vintage – the style is very consistent from year to year.

Spain is another obvious choice for value reds you are going to serve in quantity. My only caution here is that the main grape used in the cheaper wines – Garnacha (the Spanish version of Grenache) – is often oaked, which can take away fruitiness and add in woodiness. So be careful! A very consistent producer is Castano, which makes La Casona for $9.99 and Monastrell for $12.49. There is no oak in either that I can taste.

2. Small Dinner Parties

If you are having only a few friends over, you can afford to spend more per bottle (since you are going to serve few of them). If you want to keep the tab under $25 a bottle, I have a few suggestions.

Back to the Cotes du Rhone! The 2012 vintage is on the shelves and it is very good, better than the 2011 (if not as good as 2010). Most of the wines – again, made of Grenache and Syrah – are ripe, medium bodied, and have little evidence of oak aging. Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Rhone Villages will cost anywhere from $18 – $25. Look for Famille Perrin (the makers of Chateau de Beaucastel), Chapoutier (including his Bila Haut wines from the Roussillon) and Delas Freres.

If you like Shiraz, this is also a good price point, because you can avoid the overly sweet, syrupy cheaper wines. Personally, I love the blackberry jam and licorice you find in the best wines. Vintage variation isn’t that big a deal (because of the climate consistency). Recommendations would be the wines from d’Arenberg, Shotfire Ridge, Kilikanoon, and Penfold’s.

3. Special Occasions

Last but not least, some special occasion red wines. Here you either want to enjoy a great bottle with someone, or perhaps just show off a bit! The price tag starts at $40 and can go up – way up! The other thing to consider, though, is the maturity of the wine. If you open up a young Bordeaux or Barolo that cost you $75 or more, you (and your guest) may be very disappointed by the harsh, tannic wine.

Instead, I look to California. Cabernet Sauvignon can be a good bet, as most of the wines are made in such a fruit forward style that they drink beautifully when young (as well as aging well). Beringer and Caymus are two famous names to look for… their “regular” Cabs start at about $45 (and their reserves are over $100). But they taste fabulous!

Another option can be old vine Zinfandel. Young wines almost explode with ripe blackberry fruit, but without the jam you get in Aussie Shiraz. Ridge Vineyards is my favourite (look for Geyserville and Lytton Spring blends for about $50), along with Ravenswood. If you want a real treat, try to find a Turley, a cult wine for sure, but can be worth the $60+++.

So there you go…some red wine options.

Next week, the whites!


An Evening with Thomas Perrin – the Greatness of Beaucastel

October 9, 2013

What a fabulous experience tonight, so much so that I changed my planned blog for this week!

Marquis Wine Cellars, Vancouver’s premier private wine store, sent out an invite last week announcing the Thomas Perrin, the head of the legendary Chateauneuf du Pape producer Chateau de Beaucastel, was going to be in town and would be hosting a tasting of some of his wines. From the original message, it didn’t look like that big a deal – but with Beaucastel being my favourite wine, I arranged my work schedule to attend.

Before I go further, a few words about Perrin and Beaucastel for those not familiar with them. I won’t try and repeat the accolades lauded on them from the likes of Robert Parker, the Wine Spectator, etc. Arguably, they are the greatest Chateauneuf du Pape producer in the world, and one of the leading Rhone wine negotiants (making Gigondas, Vacqueyras and other fabulous wines). Their regular Chateauneuf du Pape is one of the few that uses all 13 allowed grape varieties, and it regularly gets scores of 90+ points. The reserve wine – the Hommage de Jacques Perrin, named after the legendary proprietor – is generally accepted as one of the greatest red wines in the world, often rated at 100 points and costing over $400 a bottle.

I have only tasted the Hommage once (at the Vancouver International Wine Festival; it was almost a religious experience), but have had the chance to collect and drink many vintages of the regular Chateauneuf du Pape, mainly by buying them in half bottles in Calgary at ridiculously low prices. They are stunning examples of Chateauneuf du Pape, capable of lasting 15 – 20 years in good vintages.

So that’s the set up for the tasting…why I went, regardless of what it was going to be like.

Then I walk in, and…there were 10 different wines to taste, including 8 vintages of Chateauneuf du Pape and one of the Hommage! Most of the older bottles were brought by Monsieur Perrin.

I was stunned…the quantity, quality, and hospitality…and it was FREE!!!

Below are my tweet reviews of the wines:

2010 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Villages – “50/50 blend of Syrah and Grenache, the former dominates with ripe black cherries, pepper, earth, no wood. Good deal for $21.”

2010 Coudoulet de Beaucastel Cotes du Rhone – “A serious wine! Similar blend to the Chateauneuf (mostly Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre/Carignan): really taste the Mourvedre with its earthiness. Tannic; years away, 5+”.

1995 Chateauneuf du Pape – “Still seems young! Medium red, garrigue on the nose, classic Grenache dried cherry fruit, still firm tannins. Still 5 years in it.”

1998 Chateauneuf du Pape – “Looks older/tastes more mature than the 1995. Still tannic, but fruit is drier/more mellow. Drink now after decanting for 30 minutes.”

2005 Chateauneuf du Pape – “Maybe a bit riper than the ’06, but same Grenache fruit. Tannins still there, and another 5+ year wine.”

2006 Chateauneuf du Pape – “With the ’05, maybe the best of the older wines? Good colour, garrigue, dried cherries, earth, pepper, tannin; still 5+ years.”

2008 Chateauneuf du Pape – “Surprisingly young and ripe¸ sweet (ripe) cherries. Quite tannic – 8 – 10 years?”

2009 Chateauneuf du Pape – “Best wine of the night? Super, super ripe dark cherry fruit, very tannic still, but lots years left in it.”

2010 Chateauneuf du Pape – “So young it is hard to judge; really tannic, but a core of ripe dark fruit underneath. 15+ years?”

2011 Chateauneuf du Pape – “Can you taste the vintage? Less sun, more rain…and the grapes don’t seem as ripe.”

2011 Chateauneuf du Pape Hommage de Jacques Perrin – “Even the Hommage can’t escape the vintage ! Unbelievable nose, and the fruit is ripe, but it is lighter than you would expect.”

There you have it – an unbelievable evening! Thanks and kudos to both Marquis Wine Cellars and Thomas Perrin!