They’re flying in by the dozen—new wines with new names, some of them on the ditsy side. Here’s a random sampling of what’s trooped in with the cold weather. Find them if you can.
Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino di Sardegna 2011 ($21.99, specialty)
I do love a good Vermentino, even when it costs too much. This one is, and does—and love it, I do. Robust, hearty, rich, and full: a white wine for red-wine fans. The producers recommend it with antipasti, pasta, and seafood. You can pair it with anything, even dishes you’d usually serve something big and red with.
Bere Toscana IGT 2009 ($19.99, specialty)
If yours is a more traditional palate, and you prefer red with your cotechino and lentils or your bistecca fiorentina, let me suggest this typical Tuscan table wine. Again, I’d like it twice as much if it cost half as much. But hey, it’s still the aftermath of the holidays, so go for it: a hearty table red of Tuscan substance. You can taste the eight months it spent in Slovenian oak. Lots of fruit: cherries, berries; great for big pasta dishes, too. Wine Spectator gave it 90 points and named it one of the best values of the year.
Cherry Pie Stanly Ranch Pinot Noir 2010 ($66.99, restricted)
Speaking of costing too much, this pretty and fragrant Pinot carries a ridiculous price tag. Good fruit, sure, but you can get better domestic Pinot Noir for a third of the price. Yes, it’s 100 percent Carneros grapes, the epitome of Pinot fruit on this side of the Atlantic, but almost 70 bucks? Not this close to Christmas gifting. Get someone to buy it for you. You’ll love the taste—what’s not to love with a California red this good?
Edible Canada Presents Market Red 2010 ($32.99 at Liberty Wine Merchants on Granville Island; few bottles remaining)
The manifesto is “Gamay from Secrest Vineyard; Syrah from Cerqueira; Edible Canada from Granville Island”, and that’s where you get it. A lovely little layered wine made by Michael Bartier in the Okanagan. The Gamay is tastable, distinct from the Syrah. A little bit bitter out back, but in an agreeable way; the blend is rich and tasty.
Forbidden Fruit Plum Noir 2011 ($24 from the winery and many Vancouver indie stores)
Another one of the many fruit-wine winners from this amazing Similkameen winery. If you don’t know the Forbidden Fruit portfolio, this is a great introduction. Definitely chock-a-block with black-plum flavours, but in a noncloying way. Unusual and refreshing when you give it a slight chill.
Haywire The Bub 2011 ($24.90 at the winery and select private shops; only 50 cases made)
It’s the first sparkling wine from Haywire (well done!), made by Michael Bartier, whose Sparkling Chenin Blanc for Road 13 was one of the best bits of bubble ever produced in B.C. It’s made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Oliver neighbourhood, bottle fermented, aged in the classic method, and closed with a crown cap. Very fresh and bracing, with tight little bubbles. Look for green-apple crispness; it’s juicy and elegant through and through. The Haywire folks suggest chef Roger Planiden’s “trick of drizzling extra virgin olive oil and a drop of truffle oil on fresh salted popcorn”. Could become a seasonal party treat—if they make more, I mean.
If You See Kay 2010 (One True Vine) ($29.99, restricted)
The colourful label cloaks the old schoolboy joke that spells the F-word—bet you haven’t seen or heard it for decades. Sweet-fronted; full of bright, rich fruit; intense and dark, with a lovely bit of licorice in the flavour mix. But again, I’m having trouble swallowing the price.
Layer Cake Malbec 2011 ($22.99, restricted)
One of the biggest and best Argentine Malbecs in our market today, it deserves more widespread availability. Dark and dense. The original winemaker named it, and his grandson explains the origin of the name: “If properly made [the wine] is like a great layer cake: fruit, mocha and chocolate, hints of spice and rich, always rich…never pass up a layer cake.” Words to live by. Love it.
Roaring Twenties Malbec 2011 ($14.99, specialty)
From a new wine company about town, this is part of an emerging trend of “wineries” sourcing bulk wines around the world, slapping their own labels on them, and marketing the wines to you and me. Here is Vancouver Urban Winery’s first label under the name Roaring Twenties Wine Company. Operating out of Vancouver Urban’s premises at 55 Dunlevy Avenue, Roaring Twenties has come up with two new wines: a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and this Argentine Malbec. Both cost $14.99. The SB didn’t do much for me and my dinner guests, but the Malbec lit up everyone’s taste buds. It’s fresh, bright, round, and typical of the better Malbecs from that South American wine area. I hope they bring us more varietals from elsewhere in the spring.
Rolling Shiraz 2010 ($14.99, specialty)
“Inspired by the rolling hills of the Central Ranges” of Australia’s New South Wales and 600-metre-elevation vineyards. This is a prime example of Australia’s best red wine, and another one to add to the lengthy list of Shirazes. Beautifully balanced, vibrant, and hearty, with “high notes of spice and fine tannins”. It has a mile-long finish, plus gorgeous fruit and complexity.
Vivi Falanghina Campania IGT ($14.99, specialty)
Here’s your new favourite seafood wine—an Italian charmer from the Amalfi coast, where the grapes were grown in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. Fine, crisp apple notes; ideal with seafood or chicken in a rich cream sauce.