A Brisk November
Though often thought of as a breather month between holidays, November has proven brisk for WineAlign West – and not only due to the temperature. Anthony has been travelling around Australia the past couple of weeks with a Vancouver Sun group (hence sitting out this month’s 20 Under $20), DJ is fresh off duties as head judge for the Vancouver Magazine International Wine Competition – which all four of us WineAlign Westers judged at – as well as leading trade and consumer classes at Cornucopia. Rhys has been babysitting ferments and getting his Similkameen vineyard ready for winter as well as finalizing the BC Wine Appellation Task Group findings, which he’ll be covering in this month’s upcoming BC Wine Report. Meanwhile, I’m gearing up for Italy next week for a taste of Franciacorta and look at Lombardy.
Yes – brisk is good, and refreshing. Our 20 Under $20 will refresh both your wallet and palate this month.
Rhys Pender MW
At this time of year when there is less time spent outside due to the change in weather I always start thinking more about cooking. Flicking through cookbooks turns into long, intensive sessions in the kitchen making complex but rewarding dishes. Part of the fun is finding a perfect wine to go with these dishes.
I like to make choucroute garnie at this time of year, a good dish to fatten you up for the winter. The slow cooked, smoky pork and sauerkraut is perfect with a light juicy red such as Beaujolais but even better with a solid Riesling. The new Intrigue 2014 made by Roger Wong is a great match.
I also recently whipped up a batch of empanadas. With their meaty filling you would first think of going to a red wine, but in Argentina they contrast the empanadas with the crispness of Torrontès. I went for a similar theme but using the local Maverick Sauvignon Blanc 2014. Bertus Albertyn is really stepping it up with his wines in recent years and this is a great value rich yet fresh Sauvignon.
With meat cooked outdoors over the fire with the chill of fall keeping you close to the warmth of the flames, practically any hearty red wine will do. But a particularly good pairing is something that is both flavoursome and also has a bit of complexity. And for under $20 the Campo Viejo Riserva Rioja is a great deal.
A little extra butter is always needed in the fall, right?, particularly when searing off some nice BC prawns or scallops. The elegant and surprisingly complex for the price CedarCreek 2013 Chardonnay has some nice lemon freshness and complexity to match perfectly.
Something a little different and quite interesting for many palates is Fino Sherry. It is all about context. Try a bottle of the Lustau Puerto Fino with some green olives, nuts, tapas or little pieces of deep fried seafood and you will probably get what Fino is all about.
Representing colossal value, these five picks shone at our World Wine Awards of Canada, held in Toronto at the end of August.
First in the glass is a long-time BC hero, Gray Monk 2014 Gewurztraminer has extra depth and freshness from a warm, quality vintage. Pair with Sunday French toast.
On a dryer note, Matua Sauvignon Blanc 2014 from Marlborough expresses pungent, tropical juicy white to a T. The aqua label always cheers me up.
Back to Argentina for a pinot grigio that’s a sound alternative to Italian grigio. From one of the oldest of Argentina’s wine regions, Graffigna Centenario Pinot Grigio 2014 is bone dry, with streamlined fruit and an unbeatable price tag.
Finally the only red of my quintet is one of Chile’s acknowledged value stars, Medalla Real Gran Reserva 2010 from the Maipo Valley, affectionately nicknamed ‘the Bordeaux of South America’. Pure cassis fruit, supple tannins and a gravelly finish make it a great choice for skirt steak and zesty chimichurri sauce. It’s a few cents above our $20 limit, but it defines colossal value to me.
Back to budget, you can’t do better than Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. The fruit comes from Langhorne Creek, a quality region in Oz for cabernet, and it will have you craving a good old fashioned meat pie.
Of course, fizz. Always fizz. One striking value is the organic Parés Baltà Cava Brut, with 18 months on the lees and wild herbs and cracked stone dominating this green apple crisp sparkler.
Spier 2013 Chenin Blanc is a stellar steen from Stellenbosch – and a steal at $14. No oak influence allows the youthful, citrus and honeysuckle fruit to shine. And on the topic of shining citrusy fruit, the new BC VQA Okanagan Valley Fern Walk label brings a bit of Kiwi to BC with the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc. Gooseberry, tart lemon, guava and asparagus will let you support the home team while thinking New Zealand.
Speaking of local, how many wines from BC’s Wine Islands do you get to try? Mistaken Identity Winery is located on Saltspring Island, and their 2014 Journey an estate blend of pinot gris, ortega, siegerrebe, madeline angevine, madeline sylvaner and reichensteiner. Expect apricot, peach and apple blossoms to flow from the nose to the juicy, off-dry palate of this lighter bodied aromatic white. And with a pleasant 11.5 percent alcohol, this could be a new favourite brunching go-to. Or pick from the orchard basket of the Okanagan for the Volcanic Hills 2013 Gewurztraminer, where marmalade, lime pith and anise are lifted with rosewater and moderate acidity. Chinese take-out pairing wine.
For warming alongside braised chicken thighs (and a fireplace), Chile’s Vina Undurraga 2013 Sibaris Pinot Noir will do the trick, its smoked red pepper and poultry spice seasoning the juicy palate. Also in Chile, the Leyda 2012 Reserve Syrah impresses for its ripe fruit framed with firm oak; a compact little syrah. If you’re looking for riper, plusher, plumper and sweeter fruited reds, Sumac Ridge 2013 Merlot Private Reserve will suit.
Across the Andes, the Alamos 2013 Malbec from Catena Zapata is a potpourri of exotic spices swirled with sweet vanilla, perfumed musk, violets, cassis and blackberry jam. Pour this concentrated red with hearty, fragrant lamb roasts. (The 2014 is
And for an effortless dessert, sweet starter, or indulgent breakfast, reach for Fresita, a bold pink sparkling chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and muscatel blend infused with organic strawberries from Patagonia. A bright cranberry acidity helps tame the sweetness and a foamy mousse keeps it light and fun.
WineAlign in BC
In addition to our popular 20 Under $20 shopping guide, we publish the monthly Critics’ Picks report and include the wines across any price point and channel that excite us each month, 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.
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