Wine Review: Officially Summer Trio

9 07 2018

By Peter Vetsch

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

IMG_8409Sometimes you have to force seasonal drinking posts, and other times the season and the drinks just fall right into your lap.  Stampede is here in Calgary, the thermometer has just recently clocked over 30C, and we’re well-ensconced into July, which turns my sample pile ponderings to thoughts of whatever I can chill for refreshment most effectively.  After landing on an ideal trio of bottles that achieved that lofty goal, I noticed something odd that bound them together:  they have all at one time or another previously graced the pages of Pop & Pour.  Even though the blog is now 7½ years old and counting, that basically never happens.  Sometimes summer is just meant to be.  Game on.

2016 Ricasoli Albia Bianco Toscano (~$20)

I believe this is the second ever time that an identical bottle will get two separate reviews on PnP:  when Ray had the pleasure of meeting Tuscan winemaker Francesco Ricasoli at a tasting luncheon back in February, this 2016 Albia Bianco was the first bottle they cracked.  If you want a detailed backstory on Francesco, the Ricasoli estate and the family’s critical contributions to Chianti Classico as we now know it, click the link above for the whole enthralling narrative.  While I don’t have a five-course meal to pair with tonight’s wines, I do have both this Albia Bianco and its sibling the Albia Rose on the menu, both scions of Barone Ricasoli’s “fresh and fragrant” early-drinking Albia label.  Both come in gorgeous, hefty, gourd-like bottles that you first admire for making this $20 wine look like it costs double that amount, but then curse effusively once you realize the heavy-punted broad base is about a millimetre away from not fitting at all in any standard wine racking.  Suffice to say the labels suffered some mild to medium collateral damage as I reamed the bottles into place with every ounce of strength I had. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wine Review: Red Blends of the Eternal Ice Age

20 03 2018

By Peter Vetsch

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

Happy first day of spring.  Spare me.  Yeah, I’ve seen all of the (obviously non-local) articles and Instagram pics and Twitter updates about new rosé and bubble releases and patio beers and T-shirt weather.  Meanwhile I have snowbanks bordering each side of my driveway that are taller than each of my children and still see the minus sign side the thermometer heading to work every morning.  It’s supposed to snow again on Thursday morning and there is no god and we are in some kind of forsaken meteorological time loop that will have no end.  So forget you, frizzy pink refreshing splashes and dainty Prosecco; I’m gearing up for blustery Armageddon, armed with a pair of full reds that scoff at the entire concept of spring.  I need to find joy somewhere, after all.

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Forget you, “spring”.

2014 Gerard Bertrand Corbieres (~$20)

I know from past experience that Gerard Bertrand is a value wine savant, and that his legend in the south of France is ever-growing.  I also knew that this particular bottle of Corbieres, part of his “Terroirs” regional collection of bottlings, hit the wine awards mother lode in 2016 by landing the #55 spot in the much-anticipated Wine Spectator Top 100 list — not bad for a $20 bottle from a little-known region.  What I didn’t know about Bertrand was that he was a prodigious professional rugby player before he followed in his family’s footsteps and turned to winemaking, even juggling a pro career with vigneron duties in the aftermath of his father’s death as he took over the reins of his ancestors’ business.  He has now hung up the cleats for good but brings some of his sport’s scrappiness to all of the wines that bear his name.   Read the rest of this entry »





The Tournament of Pink (1st Ed.)

28 01 2017

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

Rosé:  it’s not just for summer anymore.  Well, it was never just for summer, but the shelves of your local wine shop wouldn’t have given you that impression a few short years ago.  I had a tremendously difficult time a couple years back trying to source some pink wines in November/December for use in office client Christmas gifting packages, because for many retailers, the presence of rosé within store walls was decidedly seasonal.  This remains the case to some extent (because it is virtually impossible to beat a chilled rosé as an out-on-your-deck-on-a-summer-evening wine), but I had an agent tell me recently that their pink sales outlook for this winter might just outpace their summer, and I’ve seen more rosé on Calgary shelves with snow on the ground this year than ever before.  This is an enlightened change for the better:  there may be no type of wine more versatile and more universally appealable to all types of cuisines and personalities than a good rosé.

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There can be only one.

So when I noticed that I had a quartet of bottles of rosé sitting by themselves in an unassuming pink group in my cellar, the time of year did not remotely deter me in coming to the obvious conclusion:  let’s open them all and drink them all at once, and let’s do so in a Kickboxer-style fight-to-the-death tournament.  Thus the Tournament of Pink was born.

The actual Tournament took place a week or so ago and was simulcast on Twitter and Facebook, but work commitments have kept me from immortalizing the results on PnP until now.  If you weren’t following along at the time, we played our game by splitting our four rosés into two qualifying heats where they battled for the right to face off for the Tournament of Pink crown in the final.  Game on. Read the rest of this entry »





Replacement Wine Review: 2012 Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir Pic Saint Loup

6 08 2015

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

If at first you don't succeed...

If at first you don’t succeed…

If you were reading this blog one week and two posts ago (and I’ll forgive you, if quietly resent you, if you haven’t), you will remember this bottle.  One of three contenders in a Languedoc-Roussillon Terroir Showdown, and arguably the favourite by virtue of coming from the most recognizable and lauded subregion that area has to offer (the excellently named Pic Saint Loup), this 2012 Gerard Bertrand offering instead had to be disqualified from the competition because the bottle I got was corked, affected by a musty, devious molecule called TCA that lent it a faint newspaper-left-out-in-a-Calgary-hailstorm smell and sapped it of its life and flavour.  But tonight will be different.  Tonight Pic Saint Loup gets its revenge, and its shot at glory.

Read the rest of this entry »





Gerard Bertrand: Terroir Showdown

30 07 2015

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

This is the kind of tasting opportunity that wine geeks drool over:  three bottles, one producer, one general wine region, similar grapes, identical pricing ($25ish), same winemaking processes, but three different and distinct subregions, each with their own soils, microclimate and story to tell.

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The producer is Gerard Bertrand, visionary winemaker from the south of France who was literally born to do what he’s doing:  a local of the area, he started making wine with his father at the age of 10.  The region is the Languedoc-Roussillon, a sun-drenched area stretching along the Mediterranean coast on the southern edge of central France.  It is the world’s single biggest wine-producing area with around 700,000 acres under vine, although this is not necessarily a good thing; it has been known as the “wine lake” of France for churning out vast quantities of crude jug wine for cheap consumption, more than people could possibly buy, creating massive stockpiles of reputation-draining plonk and setting the region back in the eyes of the wine world.  However, the Languedoc-Roussillon is in the midst of a quality renaissance thanks to a few passionate producers, Bertrand included, who see the potential for greatness in the land.  The result, if you know what (or, more accurately, who) to look for, is a series of unparalleled wine values that can knock your socks off for the price.

FullSizeRender-82You don’t see many wines with Languedoc-Roussillon subregions on the label in this market:  either they’re from the popular catch-all Vins de Pays d’Oc (now known as Pays d’Oc IGP) umbrella region or from a similar overarching area like Cotes du Roussillon.  I have been heavily into wine for a number of years and had never heard of two of the three sub-zones highlighted in this trio of bottles: Tautavel and Montpeyroux.  The third, Pic Saint Loup, is probably the best-known quality subregion in the Languedoc, but it remains woefully underrepresented here.  Bertrand’s Grand Terroir series of wines is intended to change that and to shine the spotlight on these specific and distinctive parts of Languedoc-Roussillon, to prove that the area is more than just a bulk conglomerate.  After tasting the three Grand Terroir bottles side by side by side, I have to say that he’s on to something.  The terroir showdown begins now! Read the rest of this entry »








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