Archive for May, 2009

Bocca di Lupo, massive Aglianico

May 31, 2009

Bocca di Lupo is Italian for wolf’s mouth. Which seems appropiate when applied to this ninety per cent bocca di lupoAglianico – ten percent Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Castel del Monte in Pulia, Southern Italy. This wine is a statement of power that doesn’t exclude finesse. Aromas of dry blue berries and oak notes followed by a manly body, full, substantious and non-apologetic. Plenty of rounded tannins lead to a very satisfying finish. I don’t know if a wolf’s mouth tastes and smells like this, but if it does you will see me kissing wolves in the mouth for some time.

Product: Bocca di Lupo

Variety: Aglianico del Vulture

Vintage: 2003

Winery: Tormaresca

Origin: Castel del Monte, Italy

Alcohol: 13.5%

Price: 44.99 (


Equus Carmenere

May 30, 2009

equus carmenereA Carmenere with an atypical nose by Viña Haras de Pirque (viña, meaning vineyard, pronounced “veenya”). If the name of the product is indication of any quality, then they got it right, as this Carmenere, like a nervous equine, comes with a 15% alcohol kick. The wine is deep purple, inky. On the very pungent nose there is spice, red cherry, herbaceous tones and smoked bacon. Medium-plus body, vegetal and white pepper flavors accompany the dark fruit of the palate. Soft tannins and a finish with good persistence. I have tried other Carmenere varietal wines that are perfect to sip on their own, smooth and velvety. This one will surely be better appreciated with barbequed meats.

Alcohol Percentage: 15.0%

Product: Equus

Variety: Carmenere

Vintage: 2007

Winery: Viña Haras de Pirque

Origin: Chile

Alcohol: 15.0%

Price: 14.99 (Everything Wine)

Hans, Spirit of Marlborough Red Blend

May 30, 2009

hans merlot cabernetWe all know and love the Sauvignon Blanc that come from Marlborough. Grassy, aromatic, with tantalizing acidity, they have set a new standard for the variety. But, knock, knock, any reds from New Zealand? Only Pinot Noir comes to mind. However, a few wineries are making use of advanced viticultural techniques to extract the maximum from the sun and heat that this southern location has to offer. Herzog Winery offers a delectable Bordeaux-style blend with its 2001 Spirit of Marlborough. Inky purplish red, with poignant red fruit and capsicum in the nose, the palate is rich with good acidity. Tannins are rounded and the finale is persistent, expansive and satisfying. There is a streak of herbaceousness –perhaps from the not so hot conditions- that robs this fine blend from higher accolades. Nevertheless, shot through with quality.

Alcohol Percentage: 14.8%

Product: Hans, Spirit of Marlborough

Variety: Merlot 60%, Cabernet Sauvignon 15%, Cabernet Franc 15%, 10% Malbec

Vintage: 2001

Winery: Herzog Winery

Origin: Wairau River, Marlborough, New Zealand

Alcohol: 14.5%

Price: 69.99

Vino 101: Argentinean Malbec

May 28, 2009

Argentina’s Malbec, From Rags To Richesmendoza-vineyard-wine-tour

When French engineer Michel Pouget planted Malbec vines in Argentinian soil in 1868, he had no idea that his simple deed would eventually transform the variety into one of the cultural icons of his adoptive home country. One hundred and forty years later, Malbec is on a firm path to earn a place in the pantheon of things Argentinean.

Argentina’s cultural landmarks are easily recognized across the globe. Maradona, the soccer genius given to tantrums and extravagance. Tango, the dance that has imprinted the world’s psyche with its overtones of passion and romanticism. Evita, former President Peron’s lover and wife, whose destitute, later powerful—and finally tragic—fate, has inspired novels, plays, operas and films. Apparently, the South American nation is not done with producing such icons: today, Malbec is synonymous with fine wine from Argentina.

Although widely planted in France, where it merited close to sixty names—many associated with its dark complexion—the grape’s standing took a nosedive when in 1956 a frost killed 75% of the Bordeaux crop. Malbec does not handle frosts too well and it is also very susceptible to rot and mildew, which makes for a troublesome cultivar in its motherland. Uneasy vineyard owners pushed Malbec to the back seat in favor of more robust lineages of Vitis vinifera, like Cabernet and Merlot. While it withered in France, Malbec thrived in the dry, warm, sun drenched conditions of Mendoza, the premier wine region of Argentina.

Traditionally, Argentinean winemakers made Malbec into lower quality, mass consumption products intended to satisfy the needs of the internal market. And this was a demand of gargantuan proportions: being descendants of immigrants of Italian and Spanish origin, Argentinians have been known to drink up to ninety liters per capita a year. Only within the last decade and a half have winemakers concentrated on increasing quality rather than quantity, and the results are becoming apparent. Exports are booming, and Mendoza is changing quickly from the sleepy Andean town that it used to be into the exciting wine capital of the Americas.

Good Malbec from Mendoza displays a palette of dark ruby tones. It is fruity on the nose (with a predominance of plum and ripe cherry), medium- to full-bodied and generally boldly oaked. Mendoza is producing ever more quality wines, many of them with a reasonable price tag. But as the push for quality is relatively new, it is not hard to come across unbalanced wines, while others are excessively oaked. There is plenty of room for improvement and, for the moment, in the Argentinean industry, quantity still has the upper hand over quality.

In North America, a few wineries are getting a firm footing with Malbec, among them, Catena, Altos Las Hormigas, Luigi Bosca and Benegas, all of them priced between $15 and $30 CDN. In the higher price bracket, Dona Paula and Achaval Ferrer deliver the varietal’s full potential. For those who are looking for a good budget wine, Los Primos, Pascual Tosso and La Puerta are excellent choices.

Mendoza’s Malbec is here to stay, and the story of the underdog that today enjoys a global reputation is a great tribute to the ingenuity of the Argentinian winemakers and to the qualities of the variety that someone once called “the failed grape.”

A different Malbec from an unlikely location

May 27, 2009

Who would have known that they make Malbec in the wind swept plains of Patagonia? Well, they do, and vin_43athey do a pretty good job at it, albeit, quite different from what we are used to. Familia Schroeder brings their Saurus Malbec to British Columbia. A purple, inky color, precedes a surprisingly chocolate, plum, tobacco, French vanilla loaded nose. Medium-plus body with red fruit, good acidity and soft tannins. The finish is rich and unusually chocolatey for a Malbec and spice.

Product: Saurus

Variety: Malbec

Vintage: 2007

Winery: Familia Schroeder

Origin: Patagonia, Argentina

Alcohol: 14.0%

Price: 21.99

Bonarda, the other red grape from Argentina

May 27, 2009

Although not well known in British Columbia, Bonarda is one of the most widely planted red grapes in the land bonarda don domenicoof Che Guevara. Traditionally used for blending, today some wineries are producing very interesting varietal wines. Don Domenico’s rendition, grown and vinified in northerly San Juan, has a pretty ruby red color, with purple tones. Aromas of dark fruit, almost like prune juice, herbaceous, earth minerality precede a medium body with red fruit and slightly angular tannins. The finish has good length, with red fruit, peppery spice and a vegetal streak.

Product: Bonarda

Variety: Bonarda

Vintage: 2005

Winery: Don Domenico

Origin: San Juan, Argentina

Alcohol: 14.4%

Price: 26.99 (

Don Domenico, Syrah

May 26, 2009

Don Domenico brings another delicious wine to its selection available in British Columbia. This Syrah from Huanacache, Northern Argentina, has a surprising floral nose, with fresh lavender, red fruit and spice. Deep ruby in color, it has a medium-plus body tha is soft, with red fruit and good acidity. The finish is long, with mint tones.

Product: Don Domenico

Variety: Syrah

Vintage: 2007

Winery: Don Domenico

Origin: San Juan, Northern Argentina

Alcohol: 14%

Price: 19.99 (Everything Wine)

Deseado, Sparkling Torrontes

May 26, 2009

Deseado, Sparkling Torrontes

Looking for a crisp, lively sparkling for the warm season? Don’t look any further. Deseado sparkling Torrontes has fruit, character and is a lot of fun. An intense nose of apricot and ripe grapefruit, follows with a creamy body with citrus and pineapple. For those who “never drink sweet wine”, this one may change your mind, as the vibrant acidity more than balances the sweetness. The finish is very long with lemon zest, mineral notes and white peach. Deseado is Spanish for “the one you wish for” and for sure this wine honors its name.

Product: Deseado, sparkling wine

Variety: Torrontes

Vintage: 2008

Winery: Familia Schroeder

Origin: Patagonia, Argentina

Alcohol: 10%

Sweetness: 03

Price: 25.99 (Everything Wine)

Terrases, Chateau Pesquie

May 25, 2009

From the Cote de Ventoux, in the southern Rhone Valley, this blend of Grenache and Syrah has it all: deep Pesque Terrassesruby red color, intense nose with red fruit and spice, a lot of structure in its medium-plus body, more red fruit and minerally flavors and plenty of soft tannins. Elegant, generous and simply delicious, this is a steal at 17.99.

Product: Terrases

Variety: Grenache, Syrah

Vintage: 2006

Winery: Chateau Pesquie

Origin: Southern Rhone, France

Alcohol: 14.0%

Price: 17.99 (Everything Wine)

Gratitude, affordable Cotes du Rhone Blend

May 22, 2009

inca-white “Gratitude” is a blend of Grenache, Syrah Mouverdre, made from grapes grown in Plan de Dieu soils, stony and well drained, with lots of sunshine. It shows a dark purple color and a rich nose of stewed red fruit and spice. Earthy notes and black pepper in the medium plus palate, with smooth tannins and good acidity. The finish is long and persistent, with more black pepper and stewed red berries. Excellent to drink now or keep for a few years.

Product: Gratitude

Variety: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre

Vintage: 2007

Winery: Chateau La Couranconne

Origin: Plan de Dieu, Cotes du Rhone, France

Alcohol: 13.5%

Price: 23.99 (Everything Wine)