wine of the week reviews

April 7th, 2014

2010 Ramos Pinto, ‘Duas Quintas’ Douro DOC, Portugal


The well-priced ‘Duas Quintas’ hails from the Douro Valley, best known for Port. The same blend of indigenous grapes used for those sweet, intense elixirs are responsible for making equally intriguing dry reds. Here, aromas of blueberries, currants and clove are joined by flavours of ripe cherry and red licorice for a satisfying mouthful. Friendly yet assertive, it finishes with a subtle grip of dry tannin. A worthy partner for grilled meat if the weather is inspiring you to bust out the barbeque. Take advantage of the limited time offer of $2 off the regular price for the month of April, which bumps this up from good to great value. – MM

$15.99 (SKU# 745042) Available at BC Liquor Stores

March 31st, 2014

2010 Le Clos Jordanne, Claystone Terrace, Pinot Noir, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario


What a treat to find one of the top wines from Ontario on our shelves in BC! The Niagara Peninsula might be known for its great Rieslings but the region also produces some delicious Pinot Noir. The grapes for Claystone Terrace are grown on calcareous soil; ideal for Pinot Noir. Restrained and earthy with flavours of mushroom, cedar and bright cherries. We can definitely feel the Burgundian influence on this wine. Chill slightly and serve with fresh grilled sockeye salmon or duck confit salad. A nice bright red to celebrate the arrival of spring. Want to learn more about Pinot Noir? Join us here on April 23th for a closer look at this fantastic grape. - MB

$35 (SKU# 745042) Available at BC Liquor Stores 

March 24th, 2014
2010 Poderi dal Nespoli, ‘Il Nespoli’ Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore Riserva DOC, Italy
Look out Tuscany, here comes a Sangiovese from the neighbouring region of Emilia-Romagna. While most examples pale (quite literally) in comparison to Tuscany’s fine Chiantis, Il Nespoli is a lip smacking demonstration of Sangiovese’s potential in Emilia-Romagna. The deeper colour is the first suggestion of something a little more serious and it definitely follows through on the palate. Juicy red cherry, black tea and tobacco notes are complemented by a touch of toast and ripe chewy tannin. Best of all, it’s hunger inducing. A great excuse, if you needed one, to eat Spaghetti Bolognese. – MM

$22.99 (SKU# 401141) Available at BC Liquor Stores 
March 17th, 2014

2011 Domaine des Lises, Crozes-Hermitage AOC, France


This week we’re splurging simply because we can’t resist the charm of a good Crozes-Hermitage. Made of 100% Syrah, Domaine des Lises shows the very best of this appellation. A seductive combination of violet, red plum, black pepper and game notes jump out of the glass and are repeated on the palate. This wine truly shines at the table. With the arrival of spring you might have already taken out your BBQ and this is the perfect wine for it. Any grilled meat will be a brilliant match. Venison, quail or rabbit would be our first pick. Don’t be afraid to put the wine in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool very slightly; it will enhance its savoury quality. Santé et vive la France! - MB

$37.96 (SKU# 471029) Available at BC Liquor Stores

March 10th, 2014

2012 Cameron Hughes, Lot 403, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, California 

With the balmier temperatures and longer days, Spring seems to have suddenly sprung. Even if it isn’t quite official yet, we’re more than ready to embrace it. We’re starting by weaning ourselves off full-bodied reds and sipping on something lighter, like Pinot Noir. Our never-ending search for an affordable example of one of our favourite grapes led us to this delicious surprise from California. Imagine a bowlful of plump summer berries! Succulent cherries and strawberries with vanilla and a touch of earthy forest notes, this cheerful and easy-going Pinot offers fantastic value. A good excuse to indulge in duck but chicken or tuna would also work a treat. Get it while you can; supplies are limited. - MM

 $24.99 (SKU# 469643) Available at BC Liquor Stores

March 3rd, 2014

2010 Tahbilk Marsanne, Nagambie Lakes Central Victoria, Australia
In the spirit of the big announcement that Australia will be à l’honneur at next year’s Vancouver International Wine Festival, we’re celebrating the news with one of our longtime Aussie favourites. The country might have a reputation for its flamboyant Shiraz and Cab but don’t get fooled, Australia's wine offering is vast and incredibly diverse. This fantastic crisp and refreshing white is a great example. Located in the cooler region of Nagambie Lake in Victoria, Tahbilk originally sourced its Marsanne vines from Hermitage in France. The winery has the largest single holding of this variety in the world and some of the plantings go back to 1927. Vibrant and light with explosive notes of lemon curd, hay, lanolin and mineral, this Marsanne is a great aperitif and truly shines with fresh seafood. Did you say oysters with lime? Cheers! – MB

$19.99 (SKU# 559716) Available at BC Liquor Stores
February 17th, 2014

2011 Paul Zinck, Pinot Gris, Alsace AOC, France

The Vancouver International Wine Festival is just around the corner and while we don’t want to be accused of picking favourites we’re pretty excited that France is the theme country this year. Get into the spirit now with this richer cold weather white from the lovely but underappreciated region of Alsace. Subtle smoke and spice on the nose with flavours of apricot, citrus peel, baked apple and ginger. Almost dry but I promise that touch of sweetness is balanced by lively acidity. Pork with braised cabbage and apple is the ideal foil. If you are heading to the tasting room at the VIWF, stop by the table to meet the young and dynamic Philippe and Pascale Zinck. - MM

$18.99 (SKU# 414532) Available at BC Liquor Stores
February 10th, 2014
n/v Charles de Cazanove, Brut, Champagne AOC, France
Whether you are trying to rekindle your love and treat your better half to something special, or that you are playing cupid and seducing someone new, your valentine deserves the best. It might sounds cliché but there is nothing like Champagne to make someone feel special. A synonym of celebration, this sparkling elixir puts a smile on any wine lover. Most Champagne in this market starts at $60+ so we were happy to find this fine example at a good price. A blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay, this fuller and richer style of Champagne drinks well on its own and goes well with smoked salmon canapés for a pre-diner outing, or better yet with strawberries for post dinner celebration. Happy Valentines’ Day! - MB

$49.97 (SKU# 420315) Available at BC Liquor Stores
February 3rd, 2014
2000 Caves São João, Reserva, Vinho Regional Beiras, Portugal
No, we didn’t make a typo on the vintage; this wine is indeed over 13 years old and still going strong. Essentially it’s been aged for you and at $25 you couldn’t ask for much more. Trust Portugal to deliver value and personality. So what if you’ve never heard of the grapes Baga and Touriga Nacional that go into making this wine. All the more reason to try a bottle, no? Developed aromas of leather, earth and dried fruit with good concentration of cherry, plums and sweet herbs that linger on a savoury finish. Dry tannin and assertive acidity call for a hearty meal. Pair with a feast of sausages. Worth seeking out while it is still available. - MM

$24.99 (SKU# 606459) Available at BC Liquor Stores

January 27th, 2014
2010 Palacios Remondo, ‘Plácet Valtomelloso’ Rioja DOCa, Spain
Most people associate Spain with red wine but the country also makes some fantastic characterful and intriguing white wine. The latest coup de coeur is one made from 100% viura from the region of Rioja. The charming and highly regarded winemaker Alvaro Palacio crafts another astonishing wine. Rich and unctuous with flavours of melon, lemon peel, fennel, spice and hazelnut, ‘Plácet Valtomelloso’ screams for food. Last time I enjoyed the wine with some fantastic ham croquette but it would equally go well with richer seafood dishes or roasted lemon chicken. This is the perfect winter white! Cheers! - MB

$36.99 (SKU# 797357) Available at BC Liquor Stores
January 20th, 2014
2009 Domaine de Babio, Minervois AOC, France
In the depths of winter, we start reminiscing about our favourite warm weather escapes. The sunny South of France is high on our list and the Domaine de Babio transports us to the captivating region of Minervois with its medieval abbeys, rocky cliffs and delicious wines. This satisfying blend of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah offers aromas of licorice, grilled thyme and smoky black fruit that evoke the scents of the area. (If we close our eyes we could almost be there.) Savoury, lush and full-bodied, it is a perfect partner with hearty winter stews and roasted meats. Our wanderlust is sated until we travel again. – MM & TT

$19.99 (SKU# 928531) Available at BC Liquor Stores
January 13th, 2014
2011 Casa Catelli, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC, Italy
The holidays might have left your wallet thin but there are no reasons why you should cut down on your wine consumption. They are plenty of well-priced bottles on the shelves for you to enjoy. The Casa Catelli is one our most recent finds. Hailing from the central eastern Italian region of Abruzzo, this Montepulciano provides a nice combination of juicy red plums and earthy notes. Plenty of character for the price tag! Who said January was a month to cleanse? We promise that this wine will lift your spirits on the dark rainy days; especially when paired with pizza! - MB

$14.98 (SKU# 390625) Available at BC Liquor Stores
January 6th, 2014
Another gem from my recent trip to Chile, Koyle is a small property nestled in the foothills of the Andes focusing on biodynamic practices to tend the stunning vineyard. Here, Chile’s ‘flagship’ grape Carmenere is given a chance to truly shine. The Royale breaks out of the ‘cheap and cheerful’ mode and comfortably settles into the realm of serious while still offering excellent value for the money. The nose intrigues with leather, earth, roasted red pepper and sweet tobacco notes. Then on the palate, lush black currant and chocolate play well with the slightly grippy tannins. A bold and concentrated red that could stand a couple of years in the cellar. Or have it with a juicy steak tonight. - MM

$29.99 (SKU# 412502) Available at BC Liquor Stores
December 31st, 2013
nv Champagne le Mesnil, Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, Champagne, France
In some parts of the world there is a belief that what you do on the 1st day of the year is an indication of what the year will bring. This is why we always make sure we have something special and bubbly in our glass on the 31st at midnight! Champagne is the word when it comes to treating ourselves to something exceptional to celebrate. In this market it’s hard to find a good Champagne under $60 so we were thrilled to find this fine sparkler. Elegant with delicious rich toasty brioche flavours and balancing acidity and lemon notes. Bring on the oysters and shall they be merry! Cheers to an amazing 2014!! -MB

*For more wine recommendations for New Year’s Eve take a look at our top picks for the Holidays

$54.99 (SKU# 546390) Available at BC Liquor Stores
December 17th, 2013
2011 Produttori del Barbaresco, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Italy 
All we want for Christmas… is a trip to Piemonte. In lieu of a jaunt to the lovely Langhe hills, we’ll settle for a tasty bottle of Nebbiolo to transport us there in a glass. Produttori del Barbaresco offers an affordable example with haunting aromas of truffles and rose petals. Persistent juicy red currants and earthy notes are framed by firm tannin. Escape the madness of the season and enjoy with a simple pasta tossed in porcini mushrooms. This was a popular wine at our house wine turns 10 party in Nov. For a full list of all the fabulous wines we poured, click here. You’ll find plenty of suggestions to see you through the holidays. - MM

$28.95 (SKU# 42655) Available at BC Liquor Stores 
December 10th, 2013
2010 Château Labrande, Cahors AOC, France 
With the arrival of cold snowy winter days comes new food and wine cravings. Forget about the healthy salads, it’s all about rich warm food. Sausages, meat pie, lamb stew, steak; I want it all! And the new wine obsession to pair with it? Cahors! My love for Cahors isn’t new but while enjoying Labrande with the decadently rich cassoulet and duck confit ordered from Oyama Sausage, I was reminded of how important it is to have a full bodied red that has the acidity to cut through the richness of the dish. Before I knew it the bottle was gone and the rich dish had disappeared leaving my palate refreshed. This is one of the best vintages I’ve had from this producer. A nice savoury combination of earthy notes and fresh red plums. Santé! -MB

$19.95 (SKU# 2162 ) Available at BC Liquor Store
December 4th, 2013
2011 Niepoort ‘Dialogo’, Douro Branco DOC, Portugal 
Winter is not exclusively about drinking full-bodied reds. That would be too boring. And if there is one country that can relieve you from any latent wine drinking boredom, it’s Portugal. With a host of obscure and unpronounceable grape varieties, Portuguese wines deliver on character. This one is from the Douro Valley and made from varieties that normally go into white Port. Aromas of honeysuckle, camomile and ripe stone fruit tempt you to take a sip. On the palate, apricot and white peach notes are balanced by just enough acidity and a core of minerality. Give it a try with richer fish dishes. You may love it enough to invite it as the guest of honour at Christmas dinner. - MM

$19.94 (SKU# 606186 ) Available at BC Liquor Store
November 25th, 2013
2004 Paul Bara, Brut Grand Cru, Champagne, France
In the spirit of our big ‘10th anniversary party’ we splurge with the ultimate beverage to celebrate with; Champagne! We both fell in love with Paul Bara when working at Marquis Wine Cellars (where we first met over 10 years ago). A grower Champagne from the appropriately named village of Bouzy, this producer has been making delicious bubbles for 170+ years. Bouzy is Pinot Noir territory which is reflected in this blend (90% Pinot Noir & 10% Chardonnay). Expect a more robust style of Champagne with fine elegant toasty notes that linger and linger. Fantastic on its own and equally amazing with salmon gravlax or oysters. Cheers to all of our supporters who have made house wine possible. Here’s to another 10 years! – MB & MM

$65 Only Available at Marquis Wine Cellars
November 18th, 2013
2012 De Martino, Cinsault, Viejas Tinajas, Coelemu DO, Chile
Fresh off the plane after a fabulous trip to Chile, I am eager to share my new favourite finds. Though I enjoyed plenty of Cab and Sauvignon Blanc, it was the lesser known varieties that really grabbed my attention, like this Cinsault. A French grape that was planted in Chile years ago, Cinsault unfortunately hasn’t received much attention or respect. Until now. De Martino is harking back to Chile’s history reviving this grape as well as traditional winemaking techniques. The Viejas Tinajas refers to the 80 year old amphorae that the wine is aged in. Unique AND delicious. Violets and wild flowers mingle with raspberry, sour cherry and appetizing earthy notes. A medium wine with lowish tannin, great concentration and a delightful juiciness on the finish. Serve with a slight chill alongside pork, duck or even tuna. -MM

$24.99 (SKU# 72702) Available at BC Liquor Store
November 11th, 2013
2011 Château Ste. Michelle, Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington
Riesling is very well at home in the extreme continental climate of Washington. The grape is able to withstand the harsh winter freeze and benefits from the day and night temperature difference, enabling Riesling to keep it’s fresh vibrant acidity. This might be the best vintage we’ve had from this producer. Bright with juicy flavours of lime, lemon and pink grapefruit, it stood out in a recent blind tasting where it was put against other top Rieslings. And what a great price! Dangerously easy to drink on its own but truly shines with the right food. Try it with Chinese, Japanese, Indian or Thai; a lip smacking match! - MB

$16.99 (SKU#232512) Available at BC Liquor Store
November 4th, 2013
n/v Jaume Serra, ‘Cristalino’ Brut Cava DO, Spain
It’s crucial to have a steady supply of bubbles... Thank you Spain for making them affordable without sacrificing character. Friendly and charming (just like the Spaniards), the Cristalino bursts with lemon peel, green apple, lime blossom and a touch of toast. A delightful frothy mousse cleanses the palate and stimulates engaging conversation. We will be handing out individual mini bottles of this yummy Cava to kick off the festivities at our house wine turns 10 anniversary party. A great party bubble for ALL the celebrations in the weeks ahead. Serve with good cheer. – MM

$12.99 (SKU#551218) Available at BC Liquor Store
October 28th, 2013
2011 Rigal, ‘Les Terrasses’ Malbec, Cahors AOC, France
 We are accustomed to the Malbec from Argentina but what about those from the region of Cahors, in France? This is where Malbec is originally from. Typically the labels from Cahors don’t show the name of the grape and that might be why you are not familiar with it. Often a synonym of sturdy rustic reds with firm tannins and earthy notes, Cahors can be austere and unfriendly for those unaccustomed to this style of wine. But not this one! ‘Les Terrasses’ is a gentle introduction. Lush fruit with pleasing black liquorish and red plum notes, Rigal is friendly and was the consumer’s choice at your last minglers tasting. For a truly French experience match it with cassoulet, otherwise duck confit or red meat will work like a dream. – MB

$14.95 (SKU#786590) Available at BC Liquor Store
October 21st, 2013
2011 Château La Courançonne, ‘Cuvée Gratitude’ Côtes du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu, France 
We like our Rhone wines but we love the Cuvée Gratitude. While most wines labeled Côtes-du-Rhone are usually Grenache based, this Villages level turns it up a notch with a very healthy dose of both Syrah and Mourvèdre. If you are used to simple and fruity Côtes-du-Rhone, think more structure, stuffing and a slightly wilder earthy expression without sacrificing any fruit. Offering grilled herbs, black raspberry and cherry, with minor olive and licorice notes, it makes us hungry for a herb crusted pork roast. - MM

$23.96 (SKU#840801) Available at BC Liquor Store
October 14th, 2013
2009 Remelluri, 'Lindes de Remelluri' Rioja DOC, Spain
The historical Granja Nuestra Señora de Remelluri estate belongs to Telmo Rodriguez’s family and it is known as the oldest Estate in Rioja. This particular wine showcases the terroir of two villages from the Alta sub-region of Rioja. Classy, savoury and well balanced are all words that come to mind when describing this Spanish gem. Lindes de Remelluri celebrates tradition and honors the growers of the region yet, it expresses a modern elegant touch. The perfect wine to share with friends and family, and a great match with roasted chicken, pork, lamb or beef stew. Enjoy! -MB

$ 29.99 (SKU# 416933). Available at BC Liquor Stores
October 7th, 2013
2011 Oyster Bay Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand
New Zealand first caught our attention with Sauvignon Blanc but now she is keeping us enthralled with Pinot Noir. Oyster Bay does a fine job capturing what we love about this grape and delivering it at a very attractive price. Dark cherry aromas and flavours balanced by earthy spice notes and kiss of vanilla. Juicy and vivid with medium weight and soft tannin, it is very turkey and ham friendly if you are looking for a red to go with Thanksgiving dinner. Or check out how it fares with flavours of the Orient at our New Zealand Meets Asia tasting. - MM

$ 21.99 (SKU# 111302). Available at BC Liquor Stores
September 30th, 2013
2012 Bodegas Escorihuela, ‘1884’ Syrah Reservado, Mendoza, Argentina
If the weather is inspiring you to cocoon, don’t forget to stop by the liquor store on your way home. The reds of Argentina provide a warm embrace. Malbec is the obvious choice but Syrah offers a charming alternative. The Escorihuela, ‘1884’ is full-bodied and meaty with flavours of plum, chocolate and raspberries. Subtle hints of grilled herbs and leather linger on the palate. While it’s totally delicious on its own, pair with a slowly braised meat stew for the most effective warming results. An outstanding value! You’ll discover more fantastic Argentine gems at our at our Olé Argentina tasting later this month. - MM

$15.99 (SKU #744532) Available at BC Liquor Stores 
September 23rd, 2013
2011 Finca Villacreces, ‘Pruno’, Ribera del Duero DO, Spain
As we’re soaking up the Spanish sun and sipping refreshing whites from Rias Baixas, we leave you with a big bold red to comfort you during Vancouver’s cool nights. Made from 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, Pruno exudes the intensity you would expect from the wines produced in the extreme climate of the region of Ribera del Duero. Rich yet savoury, the wine has a nice combination of dark blackberries and a firm structure with lingering leather and iron notes. Perfectly paired with with rack of lamb or steak, it is a fantastic value. Salud from España! -MB

$27.95 (SKU #132233) Available at BC Liquor Stores
September 16th, 2013

2011 Valle dell’Acate, ‘Il Frappato’ Vittoria Frappato DOC, Italy

There is no mistaking that Autumn has arrived but we are not quite ready to let go of summer completely. We find ourselves craving lighter reds that taste like the delicious berries we’ve been gobbling for the last few months. The Valle dell’Acate delivers just that. Made from Sicily’s characterful Frappato grape, this could be Italy’s answer to Beaujolais. Extremely fragrant and floral with succulent raspberry, wild strawberry, a bit of orange zest and very gentle tannin. Serve with a very slight chill but drink next to something warming like roast chicken. The perfect transition into the cooler evenings. - MM

$24.99 (SKU #23390) Available at BC Liquor Stores
September 9th, 2013
2011 M. Chapoutier, ‘Les Meysonniers’ Crozes-Hermitage AOC, France
The pure and pretty sweet cherries, violets and smoked meat notes that this wine exudes can only transport you to one place; the Northern Rhône Valley. Syrah is the exclusive red grape found in this wine region and you find it hidden behind multiple appellations including Crozes-Hermitage. Seductive and elegant, Les Meysonniers’ slight meaty notes and vibrant acidity make it an ideal partner with game meats of all kind. We tested the combination for you with elk roast on the weekend; the perfect match! Sausages, venison or lamb would be just as good with it. Why not make the most of the last summer days, turn on your BBQ and explore a different expression of Syrah. Santé! - MB

$27.99 (SKU #131078) Available at BC Liquor Stores
September 2nd, 2013
Parés Baltà, Organic Brut Cava DO, Spain
We know we aren’t the only ones who oppose the notion that bubbles are exclusively for important celebrations but more of you need to join the ‘sparkling wine all the time’ club. Its frothy nature will lift your spirits when you are down and encourage you to toast life’s every day moments. Luckily Spain offers affordable examples so you can pop the cork whenever the mood inspires you. Parés Baltà’s Cava explodes with character, vibrancy and a decadently creamy mousse while lemon and pear mingle with aromas of freshly baked bread. Why not drink to the new school year or the change in season? Oh, and you can still enjoy it on special occasions. Happy Birthday Michelle! - MM

$19.99 (SKU #366872) Available at BC Liquor Stores