British Columbia Critics’ Picks October 2016

A Mixed Case for Autumn

We went for some pretty serious wines this month, finding high quality at every price point. We have wines from under $20 to over $100 here, all imminently drinkable, unpretentious, interesting and – most importantly – delicious. Take your pick from our picks in this mixed case for October.

Cheers ~ TR

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. All are currently available for sale in BC – through BC Liquor Stores, private wine shops or direct from the wineries. Inventory is also available when linked to BCLDB stores.

Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi Portrait Colour_Cropped

Anthony Gismondi

I’ve selected a trio of big-impact wines that hit far above where their price point would suggest this month.

Concha Y Toro is one of the best ‘big’ wineries in the world and its Marques de Casa Concha series is a great example why. Winemaker Marcelo Papa has been tweaking the “Marques” range for some time, slowly taking them out of the predictable, super-ripe, extracted, too-much-new-oak style to a juicy, fresh, more ‘naked’ style that better represents the grape and the land. It’s a brave move for a highly conservative wine company and country but it’s exactly where the Marques range must go. The latest Concha y Toro Marqués de Casa Concha Chardonnay Single Vineyard 2014, from Limari Valley, Chile is as good as it gets for the price. Food friendly and easily one of the best $20 chardonnays in the world.

Speaking of the best ever, the new release of Osoyoos Larose 2013 from the south Okanagan is a wine we have been waiting for with great anticipation. A terrific growing season, including rain when it was needed, a warm summer and long, cool fall has given us a wine with real finesse. This is New World Bordeaux, pardon me, Okanagan at its best.

Concha Y Toro Marqués De Casa Concha Chardonnay 2014Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2013Chateau Du Vieux Puit 2010

Finally, the latest releases from Bordeaux are predictably super expensive for what you get, and in the case of 2013 it’s a so-so vintage at best. But if you want Bordeaux and you are looking for value, I discovered a 2010 reorder that is pretty tasty and frankly very affordable. Chateau du Vieux Puit 2010 is a red blend from the less famous Blaye appellation that over delivers in the highly lauded 2010 vintage, and at six years old, it is really hitting stride at a bargain price – even for Bordeaux.

Rhys Pender, MW

Rhys Pender_Portrait_2015

Rhys Pender, MW

Looking through the picks I’ve come up with for this month, I realized that put together they could make for a pretty damn good, lavish, dinner party. I’ve added some food pairings so you can do the whole shebang if you are feeling up for it.

To start with, I’ve gone for a bit of a weird, wonderful and odd wine, the Gruet Blanc De Noirs Méthode Champenoise Sparkling from New Mexico, USA. Yes, New Mexico. It has plenty of developed notes that I love and still great balancing acidity. For those who like a bit of development in their bubbly this is pretty tasty and a great deal. A great conversation starter and should pair well with some gougères and other canapés.

I would then move on to some BC scallops sautéed in brown butter with a top class Chardonnay. I recently tried the David Moret 2012 Puligny-Montrachet from Burgundy, France. It is everything Chardonnay should be. Just one fantastic package of seamless beauty. Not cheap, but worth a splurge.

A classy Pinot Noir that could pair well with squab or some seared duck breast is the Bouchard Père & Fils 2014 Premier Cru Beaune du Château from Beaune in Burgundy. Still young it shows great potential with its complexity hitting many different flavour and aroma spectrums. The palate texture is beautifully silky too, as is the price for Premier Cru Burgundy.

Gruet Blanc De Noirs Méthode Champenoise SparklingDavid Moret Puligny Montrachet 2012Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune Du Château 1er Cru 2014Chateau Jean De Trimoulet 2010Laughing Stock Blind Trust Red 2014

I would then pair the following two wines with a nice slow roasted prime rib and some roasted fingerling potatoes. The first is a Bordeaux with a bit of age, the second a young, vibrant BC Bordeaux blend. A great deal quietly lurking around on BC Liquor Store shelves is the Chateau Jean De Trimoulet 2010 from Saint-Emilion in Bordeaux, France. This is 2010 Bordeaux and only $35 and is starting to drink very nicely now still with some life ahead. Silky textured with plenty of complexity it is worth seeking out.

A top local red that rarely gets attention because it is always in the shadow of its big brother, Portfolio, is the Laughing Stock Blind Trust Red 2014 from BC’s Okanagan Valley. This is intensely flavoured, young and needs a couple of years in the bottle to show its best but it is a very classy wine and a great buy. Stick a half dozen of these in the cellar and give them a couple of years.

Treve Ring

Treve Ring

Treve Ring

I’m most intrigued by wines that teach me something new. Italy always teaches me something new. For example, did you know that about 30 miles north of Rome there are a group of nuns that make a beguiling orange wine from volcanic soils? And it’s delish? Definitely worth trying. Coenobium 2014 is a blend of trebbiano, malvasia and verdicchio, with time on the skins and nothing added/taken away. Almond blossoms, baked quince, nutmeg and dried apple on a medium weight palate, streaking acids and a grasp of dusty stone tannins. Best paired with adventuresome drinkers.

I was also surprised by the complexity of Vietti 2015 Moscato d’asti Cascinetta. Showing the serious side to the oft ignored wine, Cascinetta is a premium Moscato d’asti selected from 40-year-old vines and has undergone extended maturation before pressing and clarification. Fantastic concentration and depth for only 5 percent alcohol, with ripe gooseberry, kiwi, fleshy apricot, and rosewater lifted by a key lime blossom acidity.

Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium 2014Vietti Moscato D'asti Cascinetta 2015Mission Hill Terroir Collection No.23 Crosswinds Syrah 2012Quails' Gate The Boswell Syrah 2014

Closer to home, I was happy to find the savoury, structured side of syrah in the Mission Hill 2012 Terroir Collection No. 23 Crosswinds Syrah. Restraint rules in this surprisingly cabernet-like red from the southern Okanagan. Dusky black cherry, potent anise, thorny cassis is scented with tobacco and lined with subtle tar. Acidity is tenuous, tannins are finely structured and sanded, providing a firm, lean framework to this medium-full red.

But the most surprising BC syrah I tasted this month was the Quails’ Gate 2014 Syrah The Boswell, sourced from their estate Westbank vineyards. Its northern latitude is evident in its graceful form and figure. Warm scrubby rosemary, highly perfumed violets, smoked meats and a haunting white pepper note throughout this complex, medium/full red. Impressive finesse.


WineAlign in BC

In addition to our monthly Critics’ Picks report, we also publish the popular shortlist 20 Under $20, as well as the Rhys Pender’s BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. Treve Ring pens a wandering wine column in Treve’s Travels, capturing her thoughts and tastes from the road. Lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out the month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential critic.

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