Wine Of The Month
In the mid-eighties, few people outside Ribera Del Duero had ever heard of the viña Pesquera wines of Alejandro Fernandez. Enter an American merchant and some influential American wine writers, one of whom compared viña Pesquera to a fine Bordeaux, ‘…and the rest, as they say, is history.’ Today, it has become one of the most prestigious bodegas in Spain, and is appreciated worldwide. Tinto Pesquera crianza is made of Tempranillo grapes. It is a dark ruby-coloured that exhibits fragrant plummy-tobaccoey, violet, cherry, and spice on the nose and palate with excellent concentration and length.
Spain’s best native red grape is grown widely over the northern and central parts of the country. Tempranillo (also known as Ull de Llebre, Cencibel, Tinta del Pais and several other synonyms) is a black grape variety widely grown to make full-bodied red wines. Tempranillo is an official variety of the DO of Ribera del Duero. Tempranillo grapes are very low in the enzymes that help to cause oxidation (browning and spoiling of juice) so the grapes are easy to handle at harvest time. The wines also keep well, and are very suitable for ageing in oak barrel.
Price: $32.99 + tax.
Find this wine at BC govt liquor stores, and selected private stores
Drinking Wine While Reading
Published in 1997, Neil Gaiman’s darkly hypnotic first novel, Neverwhere, heralded the arrival of a major talent and became a touchstone of urban fantasy. Over the years, a number of versions were produced both in the U.S. and the U.K. Now Gaiman’s preferred edition of his classic novel reconciles these works and reinstates a number of scenes cut from the original published books.
Neverwhere is the story of Richard Mayhew, a young London businessman with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he discovers a girl bleeding on the sidewalk. He stops to help her—an act of kindness that plunges him into a world he never dreamed existed.
Slipping through the cracks of reality, Richard lands in the Neverwhere—a London of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth. The Neverwhere is home to Door, the mysterious girl Richard helped in the London Above. Door, a noblewoman whose family has been murdered, is on a quest to find the agent that slaughtered her family and thwart the destruction of this underworld kingdom. If Richard is ever to return to his former life, he must join the journey to save Door’s world—and find a way to survive.
Neverwhere is one of my favourite books, and on my top 100. It is an easy read, page turning with unique characters. This engaging story is a blend of Edward Scissorhand, Beetlejuice, and Princess Bride.
Wine Of The Month
The Barossa Valley was formed by the North Para River and was named by Colonel William Light in 1837. The area of Barossa Valley, often referred to as the valley floor, is approximately 13 km long and 14 km wide and stretches from Williamstown in the south almost to Kapunda and Truro in the north. It averages less than 400 metres above sea level. Within Barossa Valley, there are numerous unofficial sub-regions: from north, south, east and west they include Gomersal, Williamstown, Lyndoch, Rowland Flat, Barossa foothills, Vine Vale, Light Pass, northern Barossa Valley, Greenock, Seppeltsfield and Marananga. The red brown soils in Barossa Valley are more fertile than Eden Valley, rainfall is up to 50% less and temperatures are up to 2 % warmer.
Yalumba is a winery located near the town of Angaston, South Australia in the Barossa Valley wine region. It was founded by a British brewer, Samuel Smith, who emigrated to Australia with his family from Wareham, Dorset in August 1847 aboard the ship ‘China’. Upon arriving in Australia in December, Smith built a small house on the banks of the River Torrens. He lived there less than a year before moving north to Angaston where he purchased a 30-acre (120,000 m2) block of land on the settlement’s south eastern boundary. He named his property “Yalumba” after an indigenous Australian word for “all the land around”. In 1849 Samuel Smith, along with his son Sidney, planted Yalumba’s first vineyards, beginning the Yalumba dynasty. Today Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family-owned winery. (via wikipidia)
The GSM Strapper blend is a stalwart of the Barossa. The three red varieties have been planted in the region for nearly 170 years, and in the past were commonly blended to make fortified ‘tawny port’ style wines. After World War II the same blend started to become popular in table wines. ‘Grenache Shiraz Mataro’ is a bit of a mouthful – hence the birth of the colloquial ‘GSM’.Garnet red in colour, this wine leaps from the glass with strawberry compote, potpourri, nutmeg and fennel seed. The palate has juicy raspberry, ironstone and a long savoury line that finishes with talc like tannins.
Seek & Sip!
Shelf price $23.99 +tax SKU# 354050
Available at BC liquor Stores and private stores.
Herdade Do Rocim
Herdade do Rocim is an estate located between Vidigueira and Cuba, in the Lower Alentejo region of Portugal. Rocim sits on the Vidigueira fault, a natural landmark which marks the border between the Upper and Lower Alentejo. The East-West facing escarpment of around 50 kilometers in length defines the climate of Vidigueira, and despite its deep-lying southern location, makes it one of the most temperate sub-regions in the Alentejo. This facitlitates the domaine’s goal of showcasing the region´s terroir while producing fresh, elegant, and mineral driven wines.
Click here for the story of the wine’s namesake; 17th century Franciscan nun Mariana Alcoforado.
Medium-bodied and lightly aromatic. This lovely white offers hints of flowery notes, citrus, pear, melon whith a smooth mouthfeel finish. Overall easy drinking, uncomplicated style. Perfect for drinking without thinking.
As a wine-producing country, one of Portugal’s great strengths is its diversity. The Algarve may be Portugal’s top holiday destination, but for wine lovers, the Alentejo is Portugal’s go-to southerly region. Today, Alentejo is renowned for red blends, which are as warm, generous and easy-drinking. Between 1995 and 2010 the number of producers exploded from 45 to 260. Traditional Portuguese grape varieties dominate the region, but newcomers such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are beginning to make inroads, often blended with the local varieties. Some white wines are made in the Alentejo, but it’s the reds that are forging the region’s reputation. Demand for Alentejo wines, with their ripe fruit and full-bodied character, has been such that vineyard land here is among the most expensive in the whole country. Because many of the estates are fairly large and the climate is so reliable, economies of scale mean that Alentejo wines can combine quality with affordability, which is more of a challenge in Portugal’s more northerly regions.
SKU #388165 – Shelf Price $19.49 + tax
Available at BC Liquor Stores.
Kuei Hua Chen Chiew – Feng Shou – Chinese Happy Wine
Happy Wine – Dessert Wine
A wine lover is not satisfied with drinking the same wine every day, no matter how expensive and precious it is. Variety is the spice of life! I am a wine adventurer, I like to sample products that are not main stream and that I never heard of, and sometimes you can find some unusual and surprising wines… Kuei Hua Chen Chiew Feng Shou – Chinese Happy Wine. It is a Chinese dessert wine infused with the Osmanthus flowers. It is made from the indigenous Longyan grape variety grown in the Zhuolu County in China. It has an interesting light, bright orangy/pinkish colour. The nose is fragrant with sweet apricot, peach, and a hint of flowery Jasmine , from the Osmanthus flowers, and some minerally notes. It offers a mix of sweet and bitterness mouthfeel, ripe dried apricot flavours with good acidity. It is simple, unique, enjoyable, and fun! Enjoy it chilled after the end of a nice meal. This wine is well-suited as an apéritif cocktail such as a ‘Happy Spritzer’. In a wine glass add a few ice cubes, pour 3 oz of Happy Wine and top-up with soda water, et voilà!
SKU #897397 – $10.99 + tax – Available at BC Liquor stores and selected private stores.
It is a late ripening variety; its firm pulps and steady stems mean that berries won’t fall off that easily during storage. Due to this reason, in ancient China, when the storage conditions of fresh fruits were not as satisfactory as today, Longyan was favoured by producers and consumers. Similar to Gewurztraminer, when Longyan grape matures, its skin turns red. The average weight of each berry is 7 to 8 grams (5 times heavier than that of Cabernet Sauvignon), and a good sugar and acid balance gives Longyan a pleasant taste as a table grape. As this grape is widely planted and easy to source, in 1979, China Great Wall Wine (which belongs to COFCO) chose Longyan to produce the very first dry wine in China, the ‘Great Wall Dry White’. The wine was produced in Huailai, Hebei Province, which is an important producing region for the grape. Excerpt from China Decanter emag. For more information visit ChinaDecanterMag page.
China has emerged on to the global wine scene with unprecedented speed in recent years, both in terms of production and consumption. Currently, it is one of the top 10 wine-producing countries in the world, both in terms of area under vine and of volume produced. It is a good time to explore and discover the wide range of Chinese alcoholic beverages.
Wine Of The Month
1000 Stories Zinfandel Mendocino, California
1000 Stories is made – like craft spirits and beer – in small lots, each unique and expressive of Winemaker Bob Blue’s interpretation of the fruit, vineyards and barrels whose singular qualities came together to create something new. Each batch offers an opportunity for discovery. Maturing 1000 Stories in new and used bourbon barrels from some of America’s finest bourbon distilleries lends nuance and enhances Zinfandel’s signature red fruit and spice notes. Zinfandel ultimately is a hearty red grape whose structure and flavors successfully stand up to – and riff on – the intensity of bourbon barrels. For 1000 Stories, fruit from heritage Mendocino Zinfandel vines dating to the 1880s is enhanced in the blend by Zinfandel from some of California’s most exciting emerging AVAs for the variety.
A harmonious balance of aromatic red fruit scents, and complex dark fruit flavours. A touch of Petite Syrah adds bold black and white pepper spice. Rounded out with a pleasing layer of smokiness derived from the bourbon barrel aging. Pair with pork sausage or grilled meat. It is a ‘Love At First Sip‘ kind of wine.
SKU#149636 – Shelf price $29.99 + tax ( $2 off until March 3 )
Available at BC Liquor stores, EverythingWine stores, and selected private stores.
Wine Of The Month
Painted Wolf ‘Guillermo’ Pinotage, Swartland, South Africa
Painted Wolf Guillermo is very much a handmade wine. Guillermo is the most exciting Pinotage that I have tasted in a few years! It has a deep garnet colour, and it is full-bodied. The wine is rich, and intense with good ripe blueberry, dried fruit, exotic spice, and soft vanilla notes. It has ripe but manageable tannins and a long lingering finish. Enjoy with or without food, you decide. Suitable for cellaring for 2 to 3 years. Pair with roasted venison.
The first grape developed in South Africa, a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. It was created by professor Abraham Perold in 1925, and the first commercial plantings were made in 1943, but became widely accepted only in the 60s. The name Pinotage is a combination of its two parents, as Cinsaut was then known in South Africa as Hermitage.
Listing Price: $28.99 + tax
Availabe at EverythingWine stores in BC and Britannia Wine Merchants store in Calgary .
LITERARY WINE LOVERS
I would like to share my reading list on the subject of wine.
1. The Accidental Connoisseur by Laurence Osborne
What is taste? Is it individual or imposed on us from the outside? Why are so many of us so intimidated when presented with the wine list at a restaurant? In The Accidental Connoisseur, journalist Lawrence Osborne takes off on a personal voyage through a little-known world in pursuit of some answers. Weaving together a fantastic cast of eccentrics and obsessives, industry magnates and small farmers, the author explores the way technological change, opinionated critics, consumer trends, wheelers and dealers, trade wars, and mass market tastes have made the elixir we drink today entirely different from the wine drunk by our grandparents.
2. The Billionaire’s Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace
If you’re getting your morning jollies reading about the amazing collapsing Ponzi schemes of investment wizard Bernie Madoff, you’ll love The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Story of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine. It’s all there: fraud on a grand scale; apparently smart people who should have known better committing serial stupidities; rich people doing pratfalls in public. It’s like a bottle full of schadenfreude; what more could you ask from a wine book? It makes you wonder about those wine experts!
3. Judgement of Paris by George M. Taber
The only reporter present at the mythic Paris Tasting of 1976—a blind tasting where a panel of esteemed French judges chose upstart California wines over France’s best—for the first time introduces the eccentric American winemakers and records the tremendous aftershocks of this historic event that changed forever the world of wine. The Paris Tasting of 1976 will forever be remembered as the landmark event that transformed the wine industry. At this legendary contest—a blind tasting—a panel of top French wine experts shocked the industry by choosing unknown California wines over France’s best. You might also want to read ‘To Cork Or Not To Cork’ by the same author.
4. The Wine Savant by Michael Steinberger
A savvy and opinionated tour of the contemporary world of wine. Today’s dynamic wine culture calls for a different kind of wine book. The Wine Savant is just that: punchy, polemical, and brimming with insights to educate and entertain beginning wine drinkers and seasoned oenophiles alike.
5. Bacchus & Me by jay McInerney
Jay McInerney on wine? The best-selling novelist has turned his command of language and flair for metaphor on the world of wine, providing this sublime collection of nontraditional musings on wine and wine culture that is as fit for someone looking for “a nice Chardonnay” as it is for the oenophile.