Archive for April, 2010

Best Value Red Revisited

April 30, 2010

Hill of Arabi, in Yecla. Beautiful as the wines are good.

In the world of wine, there is never quiet; everything is impermanent. Yesterday your fave was that plonk you sublimized because you were in the rigth mood, in Greece, Capri or Chechnya. “I love the smell of plastic explosives and Monastrell in the morning” could be a line for a future  box office smash hit about wine in today’s turbulent world. That was yesterday, perhaps today you go for something you gulped at a tasting, a bottle your shallow pockets can’t afford. Pomerol, Angelo Gaja, Del Forno….the list goes on. Anyway, yesterday (or the day before yesterday or the day before the day before yesterday) I asked my co-worker at Everything Wine, Miss  Casserole B (no names over the net!) to help me find a bottle of good, inexpensive -ok, CHEAP- wine. Im running out of options, you see, I have tried virtually everything decent under 10 bucks available in Vancouver. Except, of course, for those decent wines under ten bucks that I havent tried yet. She pointed at a bottle I always avoid based on the label, one of those that have the feel of “printed at home with an almost empty cartridge” kind of specimen. Really? I asked. Well, why not give it a try. I’m in a financial diet, as it were. Besides, I haven’t been into straight Monastrell for a while. One of those phases we (that means, me AND you) winoholics go through, you know. Castano is an innovative producer from Yecla, Spain. In fact, their 11.99 Castano Monastrell is very good. But this one is their very basic product and judging from the label, a bit suspicious. I took it home, neverthemore, and hey, starting from the appearance, so clear light and shiny, I felt attracted to it. The nose is delectable as is the medium  to light palate. I had it with a plate of  Basmati -God save India- rice and kidney beans cooked in tomato sauce (homemade) and a pinch of cumin.

Summing up: Best value red before yesterday was Paiara. Yesterday Lujuria. Today, that place is for La Casona Old Vines Monastrell 2008. Find it. Enjoy it. And dont forget the beans.

Hasta pronto camarada del Vino

ps. I warned you. The label….

ps1. Price 9.99 at Everything Wine North VAncouver (go now! there are 4 bottles left and its friday)


In Praise of Greek Love and Wine.

April 30, 2010

She was young, she was curvy, extremely so. Her hair was straight like Obama‘s foreign policy, jet black, a crow’s plumage. Birds I love when they are quiet, because when they quack in the early morning I wish I had my Iver Johnson .22 caliber at hand. She was lovely and her parents were Greek. She was Greek inside out except for the fact that she was Canadian, just like, er, me, with the difference that I am from Peru and she was born in some hole-in-the-ground town somewhere in that desolate expanse of flat land between Winnipeg and Regina. She had been raised there by strict parents, especially when it came to racial purity and all that jazz. I met her travelling on a Westbound Blackhound bus. I was coming back from a disastrous amorous (mis)adventure in Ottawa. She was a fresh new student eager to see the ponderous architecture of Simon Fraser University. Our destinies converged. So did our lips, in the dark of the bus driving under a million stars of the prairie sky.

In the middle of our kiss I felt something hard between her legs, long and cilindric. Holy cow, I thought. She has a penis. I knew it. I could  not possibly be so lucky to hit the jackpot of beauty youth and Greek sensuality after having been ejected by a combination of bad luck, poor choices and the stern Baptist dogma that my ex from Ottawa had used to shield herself from my loving advances. Ok, loving and something else. But Im human, after all. So, back to the subject of interest. A penis! I had been picked up by a little transvesti. What the hell is that, Gina? (that was her first. No last names over the net. Suffice to say it ended in stenikanapopopolous) She was too naive to understand my alarm. After all, I was 24 years old(er).

With a mischievous smirk she went “shashhh” and produced a small bottle of wine. I brought my farewell dinner leftovers and I poured half a bottle of Agiorgitiko in this demi. WHAAAT? At the time I was completely ignorant of any wine other than Yellowbum and Jackson Thrills. Giorgio who? I demanded. Agiorgitiko, she repeated, taste it. She put the bottle to my lips. In the dark I gulped a bit. It was wonderful. Then she produced some lamb roasted meat from her bag. I had a morsel. I chewed. I took another sip. It was miraculous.

My romance didn’t last too long. Once in Vancouver, Gina realized that there were a lot more attractive young men than the older guy she had met riding buses across Canada and said goodbye to me. But she left me something a lot better than these sweet memories.

The red in the penis-demi-bouteille turned out to be the ODE, a blend of  Agiorgitiko and Cabernet Sauvignon made by Greek wine powerhouse Boutari. It’s delicious and possibly the best Greek I’ve had so far. Only that when I drink it makes me feel like crying. For when I close my eyes and take my nose to the glass, I can feel the gentle hum of the bus’ engine, remember the darkness of the cabin, our secret kiss, endless, interminable, like the finish of a good wine.

Go get your bottle (just around 20) and when you drink it and enjoy it think of me.


(sounds good, whatever the hell that means)

Down with Snooth

April 29, 2010

It’s so FRUSTRATING. Have you ever searched for tasting notes to find that the first 5 Google hits are all Snooth? And then you click on the links only to come back to your search, disgusted by this encroaching monster of the web? Well, you are another one. Welcome to the club. Why I don’t like Snooth? Look at the pic above for my reasons.

One. Disgusting color scheme. Was this site designed by some color blind geek? That green reminds me of Linda Blair’s vomit in The Exorcist. Hard to spend time in front of the screen with that gall bladder hue. Yuck.

Two. Clutter. Just look at the site. It gives you vertigo.

Three. The “tasting notes” rarely have pictures. Instead they give you those ugly icons.

Four. I am sick and tired of going to Snooth when it looks like they have a wine review to find the “not yet rated” icon. Come on. If you dont have the tasting notes, take it out until you do. That is hogging.

Five. I don’t know about you but I’ve never found any tasting notes in Snooth that I could use either to pick a wine or to educate others.

Out of the way, Snooth. Leave the first hits to other more useful wine sites.

From Greece -cheap- with Love

April 29, 2010

Skeptical. Very skeptical. Not the only one, when it comes to Greek wines. Who hasn’t been to a Greek restaurant and tasted a caraffe of horrible, harsh red or pinesol sour white? Well, times change. There is the ODE blend of Agiorgitiko and Cabernet Sauvignon. There is the delicious white wine called Moschofilero by Boutari. Who would think that a 9.99 bottle of wine packaged in a coarse green glass bottle with a tacky label is any good? Gotta taste it to believe it. Nothing out of this world, for sure. But really, from the pretty yellow greenish shiny robe,  through the floral waxy nose, to the full creamy body, 2007 Makedonikos Tsantali delivers quality for the price. The finish is smooth and staying and the acidity convincing. On its own on the deck under a sunny sky, with kalamaria, with grilled octopus or Greek antipasti. Break your skepticism, enjoy this lovely wine from the land of great philosophers, democracy and spanakopita and save a couple dollars for your next bottle, you wine addict!

Vancouver Best Value Red

April 28, 2010

I dont get it yet. What is the connection between the picture of the bird in black and white on the label and the wine’s name? Lujuria means lust. Are birds gifted with some sexual overdrive I havent heard of? Whatever. At $9.99 this 2006 wine from the Yecla region of Spain, famous for its Monastrell grape, is the real deal. Monastrell, which in its own can be a bit too much on the nose and palate for its agressive pungency of liqorice, tobaccoeish, animal aromas and flavors is mellowed out with soft, silky Merlot, improving body and mouthfeel. I love it and so will you once you taste it. Available at LDB liquor stores. Oh, let me know what is the thing with  the lusty Lujuria, if you do get it.

Winegeek tip: Monastrell is called Mourvedre in France, Mataro in Australia

Playhouse Wine Festival 2010: Let’s the Games Begin

April 23, 2010

Wow! the new Vancouver Convention Center is really awesome. Great sweeping views of the North Shore mountains and the Burrard Inlet and spacious, huge hollow rooms that may feel cavernous if it was not by the skillful use of wood bricks covering the walls, giving it a warm maple syrup brown feel to this great indoors. Light years away from the warehouse feeling that the old Convention Center has. The first trade session was packed, with kilometric line ups to pick up tickets and to complete registration.

To the wines. I ignored the siren calls of Italian reds, elegant Champagnes, appealing Oregon whites. I went straight for the theme booths, Argentina and New Zealand. The latter country was very popular and many of its booths were beyond reach. Rant: C’mon Vancouverites. This city has been a wine city for over a decade now. When are you going to learn the most basic etiquette of wine tasting? Blocking spittoons, chatting endlessly with your pals blocking access to tables and wearing perfume are all no, no, no and no.

Ok, I got that out of my system. As a result, a limited tasting of New Zealand with two wines that stand out like two lonely stars in a dark southern sky. The Ostler 2008 Audrey’s Pinot Gris is a complete sensorial assault of pleasure. Starting with the nose. It was so intoxicatingly delicious that it made it hard to follow Jim Jerram, Ostler’s rep telling me about their terroir. Close to Otago but not as far inland, limestone soils and ocean breezes influence Ostler’s vineyards. The nose is intense, thick, a prelude to what is to come. Wow! I said after my first sip. It’s like a lady with curves. Chardonnayish. Jim agreed, with excitement. “Exactly, we make it like a Chardonnay, but on a diet.” A Chardonnay in a weight watchers program. A Chardonnay on a fast bike. There is a feeling of something that grows fatter and fatter on the palate but then whooosh! it’s gone and back to a leaner, trimmed up texture. “It’s the acidity, idiot.”  Brilliantly made, this Pinot Gris has a distinct spectrum of nose, flavors and texture and it may not be your accessible everyday wine at $38 but definitely one of those wine styles that set trends and change paradigms. Bravo for Ostler and thanks Jim and Gord for all the information.

The other white from Kiwi land that made my head turn was -not surprisingly- a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Matua Valley’s Paretai 2009 is as good as it gets for the grassy and minerally sassy style from South Island. At 29.99 this vibrant and fresh SB delivers all the goods one expects from the appellation.

Changing country, I expected a lot more whites from Argentina. The offer is still dominated by Torrontes. In my humble (not) opinion, there should have been a lot more quality Chardonnays. Anyway, less whining and more wining. I found one remarkable white by Bodega Lurton. The 2007 Gran Lurton Corte Friuliano, is a somewhat idyosincratic blend of Sauvignon Vert, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Torrontes, accomplished to notes of high delight. Aromatic on the nose, agile, playful and fruity on the palate, satisfying on the endless aftertaste. As in the case of the Ostler Pinot Gris, this Friuliano may have the limitation of price (29.99) to become popular. Nevertheless, an excellent effort by Lurton, which entry level $13.99 Pinot Gris is a promise of what this winery can do with the variety.

Red wines to follow on next post.

About Winecouver Acerca de

April 22, 2010

Aconcagua Mountain, near Mendoza,  2008

Amazon forest biologist turned Alaska marine biologist turned winophiliac, Ivan Loyola is a wine consultant, writer and speaker with WSET studies. Ivan is a member of the South World Wine Society‘s executive committee and works as a sales consultant with Everything Wine, BC largest wine-only store. Ivan’s favorite wines come from Argentina, Chile, California, Oregon, Washington, Italy, France, Spain, Israel, Greece, Lebanon, Canada, Georgia, Montenegro, Croatia, Uruguay, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Slovenia, etc. Not necessarily in that order. Ivan wants you to eat well and sustainably, especially when it comes to fish and seafood. He aspires to live in a world free of all forms of cruelty against humans and animals. He lives in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.

Blog en Castellano peruvino sobre vinos y maridajes con comida peruana

Kicking your Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc Addiction: Italian Whites

April 21, 2010

Wine addiction? No worries, we all have been there. I hit rock bottom when for a while, I refused to drink anything but Kendall Jackson Chardonnay ($22.99) which is very good by the way, keeping its quality consistent through the years. When I thought I was on my way to rehabilitation wham! I stumbled upon Kiwi Sauvignon Blancs and the Jackson Estates “Stich” kept me semi-comatose for a while, with its charming fruit and exciting acidity.

However, a true wine lover must be an explorer. So I went back to the wine roads of the world, wide and long and branching off at every turn. There was Greece with its refreshing, intriguing Moschofilero, Argentina with its potent Torrontes and France with its Rousanne-Marsanne-Viognier blends. I decided to go Italy. No regrets. Here is what I found.

Poggio al Tesoro 2008. Bolgheri Solosole IGT Vermentino. $29.99. Tesoro means treasure. Solosole goes for “only sun.” This wine honors both its monikers. Rich, deep and audaciously citrusy.

Primo V Prosecco 2008. Treviso. $22.99. Your buds will dance to the lemony, bright, chalky music of this sparkling darling.

Plozner Tocai Friuliano 2008. DOC Friuli Grave. Very fragant nose, a bit grassy and mellow on the palate. Loved the finish, a tad almondy-bitter.

Verdicchio di Matelica Vigneti del Cerro 2008. “Belisario”. $17.99. Stupendous Verdicchio. Fresh, minerally and with a large acidic footprint. Don’t look further for your next salmon barbeque white. Where can you buy it?

Feudo Arancio Grillo 2006/07. Sicily. $16.99. Mango leads the tropical fruit charge, followed by a refreshing palate with slightly creamy texture. When you get tired of Grigio ask for Grillo.

Of all five, for quality vs value I recommend the Belisario Verdicchio di Matelica. If there is only one you could taste before trashing your monthly wine budget, that would be the Plozner Friuliano. If you do, get some good quality Prosciutto, perfect Italian match.

Chi Veddiamo!

A Perfect Sushi Wine

April 17, 2010

Wine to pair with Sushi? Well, that is the 100 million dollar question. When I first tasted Torrontes I thought the varietal was a serious candidate. Of course, Sushi is such a wide umbrella term that is rather simplistic to say “this wine pairs with Sushi.” But some wines get closer to the job than others. Torrontes, with its ripe apricot palate and floral and spice aromas, definitely qualifies for the job. But its bubbly incarnation, the Deseado Torrontes, is really the wine that stands up to the challenge. Sweetness matched by incisive acidity, fruity and muscaty, Deseado meets the diversity of flavors accompanying a set of rolls, nigiri and oily tempura snacks. Available in Vancouver for 22-26 dollars, this is the ultimate Sushi wine. Gochiso Sama!

ps. while you eat your sustainably fished albacore tuna, the bluefin tuna species, perhaps the most majestic animal in the oceans is being caught to extinction by greedy northamerican and japanese fishmongers. let’s put a  stop to it! write a letter to your MP and demand Canada supports a total ban on bluefin tuna fishing

Argentina Wine Regions: San Juan

April 17, 2010

The forbidding landscape of San Juan, to the North and East of Mendoza, is home to wines of ever improving quality. Its valleys have names that seem to echo the towering Andes mountains in which they are nested. Tulum, Zonda, Calingasta, Pedernal, are locations that are becoming synonymous with excellent wine. This is high mountain country: Altitudes go from 650 meters at Tulum all the way to 1,400 meters in the Calingasta Valley. Fierce winds can sometimes cause trouble in the vineyards, preventing fruit set.   Syrah is the black grape that seems to benefit the most from the region’s scorching heat, high altitude solar radiation and mercilessly infertile soils. San Juan Syrah presents a dark robe, an aggressive, aromatic –floral- nose and fleshy, robust body. Malbec, Bonarda, Tannat and Chardonnay also thrive in these conditions, rendering delicious wines of distinctive character.

With its cool nights, wide thermal amplitude and pristine irrigation waters from ice capped peaks, San Juan is poised to become Argentina’s next wine darling.

In Vancouver, the offer of wines from San Juan is still very narrow. The few we have, more than satisfy.

Las Moras. I have reviewed this impressive line of products in a previous post. Terrific quality for the money. $16-25

Xumek. Both the Malbec Syrah ($40) blend and the straight Syrah ($26) are both available in Vancouver and are both solid, powerful wines. The Xumek Malbec ($21.99) is available at LDB Liquor Stores. Check out the previous post “how to find your wines in BC”

Don Domenico. This award winning winery offers excellent Syrah (16-22), Bonarda ($32), Cabernet Franc ($22) and Tempranillo ($32). These products come from sustainably managed vineyards.

ps. Photo: Wines of Argentina

Jump to Argentina Wines Regions I