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 »

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Calgary Wine Life: Value Wine Uncorked! (by Shelley Boettcher)

17 12 2012

[Cross-posted at www.calgaryisawesome.com.  This book was provided as a sample for review purposes.]

Uncorked2013COVERYou almost certainly don’t need me to remind you that it’s December 17th.  By some true Christmas miracle, I managed to finish both my shopping AND my wrapping this past weekend, easily setting a new XMas Efficiency Standard for myself.  But if you happen to be using the eight days between now and the 25th to scramble madly around looking for last-minute gifts, fear not, because I can help you with two simple words:  buy wine.  Shopping = finished.  Everybody likes receiving a gift they can drink, and even if they aren’t sure about the wine you pick out on the first sip, by the fifth glass I guarantee they’ll be all over it.  Alternatively, if you don’t quite feel up to the pressure of picking out that perfect bottle for the people you love, you can do the next best thing and buy them a book that tells them what that perfect bottle might be.  Shelley Boettcher’s slightly pre-emptive 2013 edition of Uncorked! is one such book that is focused on finding that rarest of beasts:  good cheap wine.  All of its recommendations clock in at $25 or less retail.  It is also the only such wine guide that I have seen which is geared entirely to the Alberta market instead of to American or European audiences, each of whom have a remarkably different selection of vino to choose from than we do here.  If you live in the province, you should be able to find at least some of these wines at a shop near you; if you live in Calgary or Edmonton, you should have access to almost all of them. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2009 Jim Barry “Cover Drive” Cabernet Sauvignon

18 06 2012

The second vintage of Cover Drive featured on PnP…let’s see how they stack up against each other.

I went to the Costco liquor store this week, and as always when I walk into Costco, I walked out with a bottle of the Jim Barry “Cover Drive” Cab from South Australia, one of my favourite New World value wines.  When I first grabbed the bottle, I thought it was the same wine that I had previously reviewed back in November, but on closer inspection it was in fact a brand new vintage of Cover Drive, the 2009 (my reviewed bottle was the 2008).  This provided a golden opportunity to examine a question that I’m sure many casual wine drinkers ask themselves:  how much does vintage impact the flavour and quality of a wine?  Is there really a discernible difference between the 2008 and 2009 bottlings of a wine made from the same grapes grown in the same spots?  Most inexpensive wines are made to reflect a consistent flavour profile and style year over year, but my bet was that a quality producer like Jim Barry wouldn’t try to make his ’09 Cover Drive a clone of his ’08 and would retain some of the vintage variation arising out of the changes in weather patterns, sunlight, temperature, harvest dates and more between the two years.  To find out, I wrote up tasting notes for the 2009 CD without re-reading my 2008 review, and now I’m going to retro-compare the two bottles by lining up my 08 notes side by side with my impressions of the 09.  Hopefully this actually proves interesting.  Here goes! Read the rest of this entry »





XMas 2011: Top Secret Santa Wines

5 12 2011

Yep, that time again.

Over the last week I have somehow found myself volunteered to be a part of not one but TWO Secret Santa gift swaps at work.  I’m not really sure how I feel about this.  The office Secret Santa pool is always fraught with dangers because (1) you often don’t know your co-workers well enough to get them anything truly personal that you know they’ll like, and (2) there is usually a spending limit imposed on your shopping (in my case, $15 for one pool and $25 for the other) that prevents you from buying most types of gifts that would be winners with just about anyone.  Since I feel that Secret Santa-ing chocolates is basically an admission of defeat, this year I’ve done the logical thing and decided to stick with booze.  I may not know if my office-mates read Malcolm Gladwell fan or listen to Johnny Cash or could get any use out of tree ornaments or candle holders or plants or winter gloves, but I do know that if they’re remotely sane and not prohibited by religious or medical reasons, they will enjoy a good bottle of wine, so I’m going to get them one.  Or two.  And since you might be in the same situation I am (hell, you might even work in my office; there’s 2,000 of us in there), I thought it might be useful to run down a few can’t-miss bottles that will have everyone hoping you pull their name out of the hat next year.  Without further ado, here are PnP’s Top Secret Santa Wines for 2011 in the $15-and-under, $20-and-under and $25-and-under categories:

Read the rest of this entry »








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