Friday, August 18, 2017

Time to give Trump DAS BOOT....but until then, let's talk about German wine....

...and given the current political climate in the country directly south of us, I'm going to refrain from making the obligatory jokes about Germany and their past history of being......say......not so nice.....

But they are nice now. Who would have ever thought we would live to see the day that the Chancellor of Germany would be the de facto "Leader of the free world"?? Hitler just rolled over in his grave.

And I mean ACTUAL Hitler, not the buffoon currently occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Our most recent "theme" night, as our dear friends hosted a simply fabulous night of German food and wine. Now, I'm fairly familiar with German wine, but when I think "Germany", well, great food doesn't necessarily jump to mind. That was about to change.

Prices listed below are estimates.

Erster Kurs (first course)

The wine beer: German wheat beer

Not a beer guy at all, but this was pretty damn good and it went beautifully with the pretzels, which were the best I've ever had. By a mile. Even though I knew there was a lot of food coming, I had to have a couple of these. Incredible.

For fun, we opened up this adorable little bottle:

Moselland Black Cat 2015 Riesling, Qualitatswein Rhein ($11ish)

Sure, it's a gimmicky bottle, but the wine was  tasty. Not particularly sophisticated, but perfectly flavorful. Green apple, pear and minerality abound. 86.

Zweiter Kurs

The wine:

Domdechant Werner'sches Weingut 2009 Hochheimer Holle Riesling Kabinett ($25ish)

Nice pairing with this delicious dip. Lots of petrol aromas developing as this bottle nears a decade. Fruity and well-balanced acidity, flavors of pineapple and a hint of spice at the end. 88.

Dritter Kurs

The wine:

Reichsrat Von Buhl 2014 Rose Spatburgunder ($20ish)

This didn't pair well with the food, but it's not the food's just wasn't very good. None of the diners enjoyed this bottle. 77.

The dumplings were terrific, wine notwithstanding.

Vierten Kurs

The wine:

Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt 2014 Riesling Spatlese ($40ish)

So this is kinda what I think of when I think of German food: big hunks of meat, boiled, which takes a lot of the colour out of them, so they all end up looking a bit grey. That was sort of the case here too...but then I tasted them!! Oh my. I can't remember how many kinds of meat there were (I lost count), but they were all terrific and the ham might have been the best I've ever had. If not, definitely in the top 3. So delicious.

This wine featured intense aromas of white flowers and citrus, particularly lime. 42g of residual sugar but it doesn't come across as sweet at all. 8.5% alcohol, so it goes down reallllly easy. 89.

Fünfter Kurs

Cheese plate4 types of cheese, candied pecans, black berries, rye crisps

The wine:

Dr. Loosen Erdener Pralate 2007 Riesling Auslese ($50ish)

Petrol is there but not as prevalent as you might think for a decade old. Aromas of honey, ripe tropical fruit, grapefruit and orange peel. Honeysuckle, pineapple and pear on the palate. Very nice. 90.

Sechster Kurs

The wine:

Selbach-Oster 2003 Riesling Auslese ($80ish for 375ml)

Intense tropical fruit and floral aromas. Stone fruit and pineapple flavors, very ripe and fruit forward. Paired perfectly with dessert, and would probably also pair well with a spicy dish. 91.

Another fun and delicious theme night! Riesling is king in Germany, no doubt about that.

Next up for the wine blog, will be another Okanagan trip report, as we head to Kelowna/Lake County/Penticton next weekend for a few days of random wine tastings and one of our favorite events of the year, the Quails' Gate Barrel Club party at their lake house. Can't wait!

Next theme night comes up in a few weeks, when it's our turn again to do the entertaining. It's going to be a big one (not that they aren't all big), as we are tackling the United States of America. You know, the country going to Hell in a handbasket right now.

Hopefully they don't get us all nuked before then.

Until then...

Auf Wiedersehen!!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Huge catch up entry, finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's been so long since I did one of these random catch-up entries, but I figure I better get one done before my notes get eaten.

No, that's not a typo. We don't have livestock or anything, but we do have one of these.

That is a Sidra. She's real, and she's spectacular. And she loves to eat paper.

So, I better get to it while I can still read (most of) my notes.

Shafer Vineyards 2011 Merlot ($80.99)

Aromas of chocolate, oak, smoke, cassis, blueberry, vanilla and sage. Juicy palate features blackberry, chocolate, forest floor and cedar. Medium finish. Nice effort in what was a pretty poor year in Napa. 92.

Black Hills 2012 Addendum ($55.00)

So, Black Hills decided to do a test run by putting their 2012 Nota Bene back into the bottles for an extra 6 months to see how it worked. The result was this beauty. Aromas of blackberry, blueberry and a touch of smoke. Juicy blackberry flavors, with a touch of vanilla and black tea. Finishes very long. 93.

Turnbull 2014 Bonne Vivant Winemaker's Blend ($75.00 USD)

Blackberry, blueberry, eucalyptus, red fruit and a touch of spice on the nose. Complex palate of black cherry, dark chocolate, toasty oak, smoke, and juicy blueberry notes come up at the end as it opens. Lovely. 93.

Cedarcreek 2016 Platinum Block 1 Pinot Noir Rosé ($24.99)

Strawberry, cranberry, watermelon, a touch of pink grapefruit and some vegetative notes on the nose. Is that a soupcon of asparagus, perhaps? Strawberry, a touch of watermelon and herbs de Provence on the palate. This is juicy and delicious and a top-notch Rosé. 92.

The Hatch 2016 Lifecycle of a Hobo Muller-Thurgau ($25.99)

This hybrid is enjoying a renaissance due to the crazies at the Hatch. Aromas of red apple, papaya, guava and lemon. Citrus flavors dominate. Intriguing. 88.

The Hatch 2016 Gobsmacked Sweet P ($17.99)

Blend of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Auxerrois.

Light aromas of tropical fruit, pineapple and white flowers. Flavors of guava, banana, honeysuckle and red apple. Balanced acidity. 88.

Tinhorn Creek 2013 Oldfield Series Kerner Icewine ($57.99)

Aromas of lemon, white flowers, honey and apricot. Pear, citrus rind, honey and pineapple on the palate. 89.

Paul Hobbs 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($75.00)

Tropical fruit and buttery citrus abound on the nose. Butterscotch, hazelnut, pineapple and ripe apple on the palate. Finishes long. 93.

Chateau Montelena 2013 Chardonnay ($75.00)

The wine that won the Judgement in Paris in 1973, aromas of butterscotch, citrus, hazelnut, sweet oak and ripe apples. The flavors are similar to the nose, with a long finish, and vibrant acidity. 93.

Quilceda Creek 2013 CVR ($39.00 USD from winery)

This is a blend of declassified lots that don't make it into their flagship wines, and the quality of this wine is a good indication of just how good their flagship wines will be. Aromas of dark chocolate, black plum, licorice and graphite. Rounded texture, ripe tannins, juicy flavors of rich cherry and a long finish. 92.

Black Hills 2015 Roussanne ($24.99)

Light aromas of pear and melon. Creamy mouthfeel, white flowers, toasted coconut, apple and almond flavors. Delicious first effort. 89.

Ego Bodegas 2014 Goru ($21.95)

Blend of Monastrell, Syrah and Petit Verdot

Aromas of violets, blueberry, leather and sweet cedar. Herbaceous notes on the palate, with blackberry flavors and a juicy mid-palate. Short finish. 88.

Turnbull 2012 Oakville Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($85.00)

Beautiful aromas of eucalyptus, coffee, mushroom, tobacco leaf and black fruit. Beautiful, complex flavors of dark chocolate, leather, cigar box and red cherry. Really special. 94.

d'Arenberg 2009 The Laughing Magpie Shiraz/Viognier ($41.99)

92% Shiraz, 8% Viognier

Mushroom, black fruit, forest floor and tobacco on the nose. Black cherry, leather, tobacco and mushroom on the palate. Juicy and lovely finish. 92.

Culmina 2015 Decora ($24.95)

Aromas of papaya, honeysuckle, wet slate. A touch of minerality on the palate is framed by papaya, orchard fruit. Still young and will age gracefully. 89-91.

Church & State 2014 Coyote Bowl Chardonnay ($34.99)

Pretty nose of buttered toast, hazelnut and white flowers. Intense flavors of toasty oak, caramel and hazelnut. Lovely. 91.

Cedarcreek 2014 Amphora Project Meritage ($45.00)

Graphite, forest floor, red berries and wild mushroom on the nose. Black fruit and mushroom on the palate. Finishes short, and lacks some power and finesse. 86.

OK that will do it for now! Some great stuff. Next up: Germany night!

BIG HUNKS OF MEAT, and an epic vertical of Syrah, and some spectacular other stuff.....

Last night was "Big Hunks of Meat" night at our house, just an excuse to get together with friends and finally devour the Le Vieux Pin vertical we had been planning for a while. When we were up at LVP last month, they were selling some older vintages of their spectacular flagship Syrah, so we brought a few home.

Although this night was all about Syrah and red meat, we wanted to start with something lighter and refreshing so with a chicken dish, we opened this one:

Summerhill 2015 Ehrenfelser ($21.28)

Apricot is the real star on the nose, but if you pay attention you'll also get some cantaloupe and orange blossom. Off-dry and delicious, flavors of orange, honeysuckle, stone fruit and pineapple. The best one ever. 89.

At this point, it was time to start off the BIG HUNKS OF MEAT, beginning with Prime Rib with a peppercorn crust. And the vertical, each wine had been decanting for a little under 2 hours.

Le Vieux Pin 2008 Equinoxe Syrah ($129.99)

Aromas of pink and white peppercorn, lilacs, game, licorice and a hint of cigar box. This one, the oldest, was the one that was least impressive right out of the gate, but did open up and improve as the evening went on. 90.

Le Vieux Pin 2009 Equinoxe Syrah ($129.99)

A hot hot hot growing season produced a pretty wine, very feminine in it's floral notes but masculine in it's gamey and meaty notes. Red roses and lilacs abound on the nose. Beautiful, long finish which gets just a touch peppery at the end. Fabulous. 94.

Le Vieux Pin 2010 Equinoxe Syrah ($109.99)

From a much cooler vintage, this is the one that popped from the bottle while I was pouring the wines into the decanters. Unmistakable aromas of violets, blackberry, roses and cherry, with pink peppercorn also making an appearance. Beautiful black fruit dominates the juicy and complex palate. Finishes long and luscious. Universally the favorite of the night, and a real treat. 95.

Le Vieux Pin 2011 Equinoxe Syrah ($79.99)

Violets, white pepper, blackberry and a touch of red licorice on the nose. Smooth and silky mouthfeel with flavors that mirror the nose. A fairly uneven, cold growing season has produced a wine that is elegant in it's simplicity, pretty and feminine. 92.

We were well into our "steak" courses at this point, with some Filet Mignon bites alongside a grilled flank steak with chimichurri sauce, and we figured we could handle one more good bottle of Syrah. Holy cow, did we ever find one.

Shafer Vineyards 2013 Relentless Syrah ($99.99 USD)

97% Syrah, 3% Petit Sirah

An intense inky purple colour. The aromas jump from the glass and dance seductively across your olfactory senses. Black fruit and BBQ meat, cedar, licorice, mint, lavendar and sage all take their intoxicating turn. The palate is as complex as I have experienced. Blackberry, boysenberry, mushroom, cinnamon, nutmeg, blueberry, raspberry. Full-bodied and ridiculously decadent, this is a tour-de-force in winemaking and is nearly flawless. Find one (or more) of these. 98.

And if that wasn't enough, we figured we'd crack open our last bottle of my 99-point Velvet Sisters Pinot Noir (review here).

That was a pretty spectacular night of wine, I must say.

Next up: So much more wine to catch up on, and I still have to report on the terrific Germany night we had a few weeks ago. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Vegas and Wine go together like Lamb and Tuna Fish........

.....or Spaghetti and Meatballs, if you are more comfortable with that analogy.

While in Vegas, we bought a few bottles to consume in our resort, had some good wine at restaurants, and had the opportunity to attend a wine tasting at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. Review of each are below.

All the prices are in USD, of course.

From our first dinner of the trip, at Mon Ami Gabi:

Domanie Roger & Christophe Moreux 2012 Sancerre "Les Monts Damnés" ($85 at restaurant)

100% Sauvignon Blanc

Aromatic nose of citrus, straw, and orchard fruit. Flavors of pineapple and minerality join in. Given that this is probably $30ish in a retail store, it's a real nice value. 91.

From our Duckhorn tasting at the Eiffel Tower restaurant:

Duckhorn Vineyards 2016 Sauvignon Blanc ($30 from winery)

Aromas of lychee, grass and nectarine jump from the glass. Bright and intense citrus fruit overwhelms the palate. Vibrant acidity and silky texture. For such a young wine, this is really delicious. 90.

Interesting to compare the same grape from two very different wine regions. Of course, the Sancerre had an extra 4 years of aging, so it's not a totally fair comparison.

Goldeneye 2014 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($56 from winery)

 Effortlessly combines bright red fruit with dark and brooding earth. Blackberry, cranberry, cherry and strawberry all mingle on the nose and palate. Long finish and showing great potential for development. Will improve with more aging. 90-92.

Duckhorn Vineyards 2013 Napa Valley Merlot (sold out at winery; $46.99 at

Intense aromas of ripe cherry, graphite, violets, orange peel, cedar and cigar box. Raspberry, plum, graphite and baking spices on the palate. Finish is not particularly long, which is the only drawback to an otherwise excellent Merlot. 91.

Duckhorn Vineyards 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($75 from winery)

Aromas of red and black fruit, violet, black licorice, graphite and mint. Black currant and licorice mingle with red cherry flavors. Well structured and build to improve with age, but very approachable now. Finishes long. 92-94.

From random drink-in-the-room stuff:

Chateau St. Michelle 2015 Columbia Valley Chardonnay ($15.00)

Aromas of baked apple, citrus and nutmeg. Rich mouthfeel with a touch of hazelnut and butterscotch. Unsophisticated but for the price, it's not bad. 86.

Chateau St. Michelle 2015 Riesling ($9.00)

When you spend $9 on a bottle of wine, you are lucky if you get more than turpentine and cat piss. This is much more than that. Red and green apple aromas, citrus and appealing minerality. For the price, you simply cannot do better than this. 88.

Hartford Family Winery 2015 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($25.99 from

This is their generic version that gets sold to retail outlets and restaurants, a far cry from the high quality single-vineyard offerings that we get from this winery regularly. Still, this is always a winner for the price. Aromas of ripe apple and pear, some citrus and butterscotch. Flavors include hazelnut, butterscotch, ginger and apple, with a touch of minerality. 90.

Pine Ridge 2015 Chenin Blanc/Viognier ($15.00)

80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Viognier

A simple, basic, delicious blend that we've been enjoying for years. Peach aromas leap from the glass, followed closely by some meyer lemon. Keep your nose in there and you'll notice a hint of tea, and a touch of orange blossom right at the end. Tangerine and lychee flavors start off, followed by key lime pie and golden delicious apple. Finishes quite lovely. A real bargain. 90.

Gray Monk 2015 Kerner ($16.59 CAD before taxes)

We brought this one down with us, figuring after a long day of traveling we may enjoy a very off-dry white wine to celebrate our first night in Vegas. We were not wrong. Pleasing aromas of lemons, peaches and pears. Light and full of finesse, this is about as good as it gets in terms of a patio-sipper that will pair with a ton of food. If you are eating something that you think will pair with a white wine, you are probably safe to use this one. It's just delicious year after year. 90.

Columbia Crest 2015 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon ($13.99)

$14, and this isn't their cheapest Cab Sauv. It's one of those wineries that generally gets recognized for good value. For the money, not bad at all. Black cherry and blackberry, vanilla and anise on the nose and palate Tannins are soft and it finishes with cocoa notes. 87.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Okanagan trip concludes with the MAIN EVENT....Nota Bene release party!!

OK that's partially true. Yes, we did attend the Nota Bene release party, where the entertainment was terrific, the food was fabulous, and the wine was flowing. And flowing. And flowing.

This was some sort of a dance crew. Apparently some of them needed a nap.

Headliner Barney Bentall gave us all Something to Live For

But as for the wine that I'm going to review during this blog, it had little to do with the actual party; we stopped at Black Hills for a portfolio tasting a couple of days before the event.

We did get to taste some wine directly from the barrel at the party (the newest vintages of Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon, which will eventually end up in Nota Bene), but I'm only reviewing the wine that has already been bottled.

Black Hills 2016 Alias ($24.90)

Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Schoenburger, Muscat & Ehrenfelser

Aromas of passion fruit, lemon curd and pineapple. Those fruits hang around onto the palate, joined by some honeysuckle. It's very nice, although last year's vintage produced more pronounced pineapple flavors, and I love me some pineapple. 88.

Black Hills 2016 Rosé ($24.90)

Their first ever Rosé, made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes. Aromas of strawberry, blood orange, cranberry and also features some vegetation. Raspberry and strawberry dominate the delicious, juicy palate. A terrific first effort. 90.

Black Hills 2015 Viognier ($24.90)

Beautiful aromas of white flowers, citrus, orange and papaya. Full bodied and creamy, with wonderful tropical fruit flavors. So nice. 90.

Black Hills 2015 Chardonnay ($29.90)

Pear, apple and butterscotch on the nose. Beautiful and complex flavors of toffee, butter, hazelnut and caramel. Just the right amount of butter on the finish, which adds to but does not overwhelm the fruit. 90.

Black Hills 2015 Carmenere ($35.90)

Their most limited-production wine, available only to wine club members, and it rarely disappoints. Black olive, raspberry, smoke and white pepper on the nose which starts out fruity and becomes almost dusty. Dark berries and white pepper flavors on the palate, which finishes with touches of charred meats. So delicious. 93.

Black Hills 2015 Syrah ($34.90)

Your nose is almost overwhelmed with blueberry, black cherry and plums. Blueberry and blackberry flavors, with a touch of pepper, come to the palate party. Finishes with an almost dusty quality, like a beautiful Sangiovese. It's a touch hot, with strong tannins, so if you have the patience to age it a bit, you will be richly rewarded. 92-94.

Black Hills 2015 Nota Bene ($59.90)

56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc

Oh my. Intoxicating aromas of violets, dark chocolate, baking spice, cassis, black plum and tobacco. Flavors include black olive, forest floor, cedar, black fruit and mocha. So incredibly approachable. I'm not going to say this is the best Nota Bene ever, it's too early for that, but it might be the best "young" one. It is truly spectacular already. 95.

So that's it for another absolutely terrific vacation in the Okanagan. Next trip comes up in late August. But lots of good stuff coming up in this blog, we have TONS of great stuff to catch you up on, including a fabulous night of German food and wine, and we are only a week or so away from a trip to Vegas where I suspect some good wine will be consumed. Stay tuned!!!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The penultimate entry in the Okanagan trip report takes us to Church & State

Always a favorite of ours, let's get right to the reviews!

Church & State 2015 Lost Inhibitions White ($20.00)

Yes, the one with the crazy labels; but the wine is pretty good too. Aromas of fruit salad and lychee. Flavors of lychee and stone fruit, and creamy mouthfeel. 88.

Church & State 2016 Sauvignon Blanc ($20.00)

Light grassy notes mingling with citrus on the nose, and on the palate. Well balanced acidity. 88.

Church & State 2015 Trebella ($25.00)

 Roussanne (62%), Marsanne (28%), Viognier (10%)

Frequent award winner features a nose of tea, elderflower, nectarine and vanilla. Unctious with flavors of orchard fruit and a touch of spice on the finish. 89.

Church & State 2014 Coyote Bowl Chardonnay ($27.00)

This has long been one of our favorite Chardonnays but this one seemed to be the least buttery example. Slight notes of hazelnut and butterscotch, with pear, apple and vanilla. More fruit than butter on the palate, which finishes long. 88.

Church & State 2014 Meritage ($25.00)

Aromas of blackberry, blueberry and a hint of chocolate and vanilla. Black fruit, a hint of earth and spice on the palate. 88.

Church & State 2014 Syrah ($35.00)

Black fruit and black pepper dominate the nose. Flavors of black cherry, blackberry, plum and black pepper. Nice. 89.

Church & State 2014 Cabernet Franc ($35.00)

Blackberry, cranberry, baking spices and just a touch of cherry on the nose. Dark fruit dominates the palate, with some notes of tobacco, cassis and cedar poking through. Finishes long. 89.

Church & State 2013 Quintessential ($55.00)

Their signature Bordeaux blend always brings quality and this vintage is no exception. Aromas of red cherry, mint, black plum, blackberry and chocolate. Complex flavors of juicy black fruit, hints of cherry and spice. Finishes long. 92.

Truth be told, although there isn't a bad wine in the bunch, we were underwhelmed by some of today's wine. However, it would be very premature to suggest that this winery's quality has slipped, because just a few months ago I reviewed their new Merlot (review here) which was so good it actually made my "best of the best" list. We will certainly be back to taste the new vintage.

Next up: The Okanagan trip concludes with the main event of the trip: The Nota Bene Release Party at Black Hills!