British Columbia Critics’ Picks October 2015
Our monthly BC Critics’ Picks is the place to find recent recommendations from our intrepid and curious BC critics – wines that cross geographical boundaries, toe traditional style lines and may push limits – without being tied to price or distribution through BCLDB or VQA stores. All are currently available for sale in BC.
Sitting here writing this while unable to see out my window due to the dense fog, it’s clear that Fogtober has rolled back into coastal BC. It makes my three Hallowe’en-ready picks even more appropriate this month, as well as the soul-warming reds and classic whites suggested by my colleagues. Meanwhile, DJ, ever the optimist (and sports fanatic) is getting the bubbles ready to toast the Blue Jays.
Cheers ~ TR
The harvest is all but done here on west coast of North America but it’s too early to say much other than it was one of the earliest on record and one of the warmest. Climate change continues to impact most every vineyard in the world and it will no doubt change the future of wine from California to British Columbia and beyond. Change, in fact, is the only certainty in the modern wine business; it matters not if you are new to the business such as BC’s Intersection Wines or if you have been around 40 years as is the case at Joseph Phelps Napa Valley or if you can date your winery back to 1500 as they can at Joseph Mellot in the Loire Valley.
This month my three picks follow those timelines beginning with the latest release of the Joseph Phelps 2012 Insignia, a Napa Valley giant. The 40th vintage of Insignia is something special and the cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, merlot, malbec and cabernet franc is going to need a decade to become one of the finest yet from one of the most respected valley pioneers.
Much farther north, an Okanagan Valley upstart is the Intersection 2012 Silica Merlot, a single block of fruit grown over sandy loam, the remains of beach deposits from an ancient glacial lake. A generous style with floral undertones, finesse and elegance. Surely where BC merlot must go.
Finally, stack up some bottles of Joseph Mellot 2014 Le Tronsec Pouilly-Fume from the famed Loire Valley commune. Here the magic is all about fruit grown over Kimmeridgian limestone marls and stones over clay, aided by a super classic vintage. Change – embrace it.
Rhys Pender, MW
A new listing at the BCLDB, the Bindi 2013 Pyrette Shiraz is from the small but high quality Heathcote region in Victoria, Australia. Heathcote to me captures both the cool climate and riper side of Shiraz in the same wine. Fruit, spice, leather, pepper.
I never seem to tire of Châteauneuf-du Pape. It is so often just so delicious. The Château de la Grande 2012 Gardiole impressed recently with its lovely texture and complexity.
I haven’t been over impressed lately with lots of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé and I’m not sure why. It is something about them seeming to be sweeter and fruitier than I expect. So it was a very pleasant surprise to try the Serge Dagueneau & Filles 2014 Pouilly-Fumé Tradition. Great complexity, racy minerality and super refreshing.
Freshly back from Portugal including a week rummaging around Madeira, I needed interesting wines to ease me back into the busy quotidian round that is life. I’d been drinking robust and thrilling Douro dry whites, and so the lusty, dusty Church and State 2014 Trebella provided a perfect transition to the 49th parallel.
The gravitas of Alois Lageder’s 2014 Dolomiti Pinot Grigio kept fine company with Lingini Vongole, my favourite welcome home dinner.
Sparkling wines are my best revivers (perfect for combatting jetlag) and it’s hard to beat the value of Taittinger Brut Reserve, where the elegant house style ensures thoroughbred bubble for celebrating Friday night, or (dare we hope) the Blue Jays’ playoff bid.
I’m not one for themes. Nor am I one for holidays. That said, I am certainly one all for good wine. Packaging trumps all else on store shelves, sadly often masquerading the plonk inside. There are labels and packaging that reference the darker side AND are honest and tasty – perfect for your Halloween plans. Here are three that will suit your Halloween and Day of the Dead, as well as any other day of the calendar year.
You needn’t grab a flashlight to drink the beguiling Moon Curser Vineyards 2013 Afraid of the Dark from the bottom reaches of the Okanagan Valley. Moon Curser Vineyards has proven that no one needs to fear Rhone varieties in BC, expressed through their concentrated wines like this roussanne, viognier, marsanne blend. Partner with Thai or Indian dishes.
Ravenswood 2013 Besieged is a blend from mostly Sonoma County, with petite sirah, carignane, zinfandel, syrah, barbera, alicante bouschet and mourvèdre all playing a part in this deep, savoury red, one scented with violets, dried spice and subtle leather resting on sueded tannins.
The label of 2013 Skulls Shiraz can appear either spooky or spookier. A man falling from a tree? Or a human skull? You don’t even need to have been drinking to be mesmerized by this artistic illusion, an illustration by artist Istvan Orosz titled Ship of Fools. However, be forewarned: if you drank a whole bottle of this heavyweight 20-60 year old vines Barossa shiraz at 16.5% alcohol solo, you’d just be seeing stars (or be passed out).
WineAlign in BC
In addition to our monthly Critics’ Picks report, we also publish the popular shortlist 20 Under $20, as well as the BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. Lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out each month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential and global critic.