Domaines Paul Jaboulet Ainé: The Next Level

5 08 2016

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]

I recently tasted and discussed the entry-level Parallele 45 lineup from the Rhone Valley’s Domaines Paul Jaboulet Aine, which showcased the red, white and pink sides of the Southern Rhone in an impressive value-priced package.  Today we kick it up a notch.

FullSizeRenderJaboulet’s Alberta portfolio is supplemented by a quartet of upper-echelon bottles from a group of distinctive quality regions scattered across the Rhone, each of which has its own character and legend to live up to, and each of which, I’m happy to report, Jaboulet and winemaker Caroline Frey reflect to a tee in these beautiful offerings.  See my prior post for more details about this historic winery and its renaissance in our market; for now, we have a lot of wine to drink.

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Rioja Quality Ladder: Bodegas Montecillo

11 11 2015

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]

Crianza vs. Reserva.  And one of the hardest sets of labels to photograph well.

Crianza vs. Reserva. And one of the hardest sets of labels to photograph well.

If I had to pick one European red wine region that was my Old Faithful, that always delivered quality and intrigue, regularly delighted and rarely disappointed, it would be Rioja.  Something about the wines coming out of Spain’s original star region just speak to me, offering up traditional character and depth and a unique voice at often-amazing prices.  Rioja is perched at altitude in north-central Spain, closer to Bordeaux (a 4 hour drive north) than Barcelona (5.5 hours east), and has long been the king of the Spanish wine world:  it was the first D.O. (Denominacion de Origen, or classified geographical quality region) in the country to be granted super-elite D.O. Calificada status in 1991, the highest quality category in Spanish wine law.  Only one other region, Priorat, has been awarded the designation since.  There are always challengers for Rioja’s crown in a country with soils, grapes, styles and traditions as rich and varied as Spain, but at its best, there is nothing quite like it. Read the rest of this entry »





Longview Showdown: 2010 Devils Elbow Cabernet Sauvignon vs. 2010 Yakka Shiraz

18 03 2014

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]

Cab. Shiraz. The ultimate battle.

Cab. Shiraz. The ultimate battle.

This is the kind of tasting opportunity that wine geeks drool over:  two bottles from the same producer (Longview), same region (Adelaide Hills in Australia), same vintage (2010) and same single vineyard (the aptly named Longview Vineyard), made using the same winemaking techniques (fermentation on skins, 18-20 months aging in French oak), differing only by their grape variety, Cab vs. Shiraz.  The Devils Elbow Cabernet Sauvignon was named after a treacherous hairpin turn in the windy road leading up the hills into Longview Vineyard; the Yakka Shiraz was named after a spiny prehistoric-looking plant that grows in it.  Both red offerings epitomize the New Australia now being unveiled to the wine world:  many recent efforts from Down Under try to sell themselves as a counterpoint to the stereotypical blowsy Aussie fruit bombs of years past, but these wines from Longview take that philosophy absolutely to the hilt, offering up balanced, restrained, nuanced flavours and a take on each grape that is dripping with Old World influence.  The similarities between the two reds are plentiful, but when poured side by side, the differences slowly emerge. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2010 Prospect Winery Major Allan Merlot

3 10 2012

[This bottle was provided as a sample for review purposes.]

Prospect Winery, colour me impressed…again.

After being quite pleasantly shocked by the first bottle of red wine that the Prospect Winery sent my way (the 2009 Red Willow Shiraz, written up here), I opened the second and final red they had provided last night thinking that it was fighting against a strong precedent.  I wasn’t heading into this bottle with the lowered expectations with which I had traditionally approached inexpensive Canadian wine; instead, after Prospect’s dynamic Shiraz, I was looking for big things, at least as far as sub-$20 BC Merlot goes.  And while I’m still trying to figure out whether I was satisfied or disappointed with the outcome, I continue to be refreshed and enthused by the fact that I’m starting to approach my own country’s wines with something resembling optimism…because of that alone, Prospect Winery has already succeeded in its mission to showcase the various varietals of the Okanagan in an affordable way.

Since I covered the winery’s corporate ancestral lineage in detail in my previous PW post, I won’t rehash it here other than to say that the Prospect lineup is part of the Mission Hill family once removed, with its own winemaker and plans to create a stand-alone winery.  Of the various brands falling under the umbrella of MH affiliate Artisan Wine Co., it may be the one with the brightest prospects (pun only half intended), putting out dependable, varietally-correct wines at very reasonable prices.  Each of Prospect’s bottlings is named for a different ecological or historical feature of the Okanagan Valley; the Major Allan Merlot is an homage to Allan Brooks, a prolific wildlife artist whose wildlife paintings are known across North America (and on this bottle’s label, which showcases one of them).  I was particularly interested to try this wine, because, as far as I could tell, unlike many of Prospect’s other offerings, the Major Allan is not currently available in Alberta.  In other words, unless my research is wrong, my home province may just have to take my word for this. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2010 19 Crimes Shiraz Durif

19 09 2012

Looks like a Deadwood episode, tastes a fair bit better.

I’ve seen this bottle in every wine store I’ve been in over the past couple of months, so I presume it’s attracted some critical mass of popularity and is doing well for itself.  I didn’t buy it for that reason, however, or because of its admittedly compelling bottle frosting and showstopper labelling.  I bought it because I felt sure that the makeup of this red blend was some sort of elaborate winemaker’s pun.  19 Crimes is a mixture of Shiraz and Durif.  Shiraz, as I discussed in my last review, is the same grape as Syrah.  Durif also has a more commonly known alias; in North America and elsewhere, it’s usually called Petite Sirah.  So this wine is actually a Syrah/Petite Sirah blend…Syrahs of all sizes?  Not quite.  Petite Sirah is not a type or class of Syrah but a stand-alone grape variety…and while we’re at it, nothing about it is petite at all once it hits the glass:  its diminutive first name refers to the size of its grapes on the vine rather than its flavours or structure.  Since Petite Sirah’s grapes are smaller, this creates a larger ratio of skins to juice, and since the skins are where a red wine’s colour and tannin resides, this makes most Petite Sirahs deep, thick, opaque and massive.  But still not Syrahs.  Who said learning about wine was hard? Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2010 Pheasant’s Tears Kisi

5 09 2012

One of the strangest (and most captivating) bottles you’ll ever try. And it’s orange!

When I interviewed Tim Hendrickson of Wine Ink for last week’s PnP/CIA dual feature, I asked him what was the single weirdest bottle in his unique and eclectic collection of wares, knowing full well that I would likely be buying his response.  The answer was this bottle, the 2010 Kisi from producer Pheasant’s Tears.  What makes it weird?  Well, what doesn’t?  It’s made in Georgia (the country, not the state, although both would be equally weird, I suppose), which is no longer a known winemaking power but is the area of the world with the longest-known history of winemaking, dating back 8000+ years.  It’s a single-varietal wine from a grape, Kisi, that neither I nor the dozens of reference books in my house had ever heard of, a white grape indigenous to the Kakheti province of eastern Georgia, located near the Azerbaijan border.  However, as you can see in the picture at left, the wine is not really white at all, but a rather lurid shade of orange.  And oh yes — it’s fermented and aged by being buried in the ground in a giant clay egg.  Intrigued yet?  Just wait till you taste it. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2010 Mission Hill Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir

22 08 2012

[This bottle was provided as a sample for review purposes.]

As aptly pointed out by my 19 month old son: P!!!

It was with great sadness that I uncorked (OK, unscrewed) the last of the sample bottles that the Okanagan’s Mission Hill winery had sent my way.  When MH sent me their small-batch limited edition Martin’s Lane Riesling a few weeks ago, they included with it the Riesling’s vineyard twin, the inaugural release of the Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir.  This bottle of Pinot was many years in the making (the vineyard was planted in 1995), but MH held back on releasing it as a single-vineyard offering until the vines and the grapes were fully ready to show their stuff.  I laid out the story behind Martin’s Lane in my Riesling review, but to quickly recap, it’s a high-quality, steeply-sloped vineyard located right by Mission Hill’s winery property just outside of Kelowna, and it’s named as a tribute to MH proprietor Anthony von Mandl’s late father Martin.  Only 485 cases of this Pinot were produced, and this is the first bottle I’ve seen in this province, so unless you live near the winery, this bottle is probably hard to come by.  All the more reason to enjoy it if you have it! Read the rest of this entry »








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