Here’s a random roundup of recently received reds. All are good-value wines for holiday meals or entertaining gifts. They come with varying degrees of availability and I have listed some importing agencies that might be able to help you locate their wines around town.
Chateau Canada Bordeaux Superieur 2009
($19.99, Waldorf Wine Group; www.waldorfwine.com/ )
This is a new one for me, as it may be for you, but the winery has been producing lots of little Bordeaux blends since the 1920s, not far from the Dordogne River, just north of the city of Bordeaux. As far as I can tell, this is the first time we have seen the label in B.C. Light and fresh (only 12 percent alcohol), it’s perfect with a cheese board plus apples, dried fruit, and fresh berries. Excellent value for Bordeaux. The blend is mostly Merlot (70 percent) and then Cab Sauv. Good use of oak: not too much, not too little. A nice seasonal surprise for your favourite French wine snob; it could be one he’s never heard of.
Mount Boucherie Summit Reserve Syrah 2007
($24.99, VQA and private stores; see mtboucheriewinery.com/ for a list of vendors)
This one has been lingering in my cellar for some months, but it’s too good to pass up, so I hope you can find some. It’s worth the quest. Big and dark, with black pepper and a little sandalwood/cedar. A real treat—rich and robust. If you can’t locate it, try a subsequent vintage; the 2008 vintage is available on the winery’s website.
Bodega Vistalba Corte C 2009
($19.99; Patagonia Imports; www.patagoniaimports.com/ )
Made from major Malbec (80 percent) and Cab Sauv, this Argentine dazzler is a big fave of The Wine Advocate magazine’s Robert Parker. Expect smoky fruit with lots of fullness and viscosity on the tongue. Could surprise the turkey but really likes roasts and steaks.
Averill Creek Foch Cab Reserve 2009
($38 at the winery in Cowichan; www.averillcreek.ca/ )
From one of my favourite Vancouver Island wineries comes this rich and mellow, inky-dark Foch-forward blend. The winemaker likes the all-but-forgotten Maréchal Foch variety; he grows it in the Cowichan Valley and the result is this rich, opulent, very big wine that wants major meat. But do you want to spend $38 on an unfamiliar grape variety? When it’s this good, sure!
Averill Creek Pinot Noir 2009
($26 at the winery; www.averillcreek.ca/)
This light, charming Pinot Noir might be more to your taste, but it’s elusive and not so easily found on the mainland. Well worth seeking out, though, especially if you’re a lover of Pinot Noir. The price reflects what good Pinot costs hereabouts these days.
Escorihuela 1884 Reservado Malbec 2011
($16.99 at LDB stores)
A textbook-good example of Argentina’s proud red-wine export at a super-good price. Mellow, with a hint of sweetness, deep purple colour, a little intimation of mocha in the flavour, and a lovely, lingering finish. All-round superb wine for your holiday foodie events and entertaining.
Escorihuela 1884 Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
($16.99 at LDB stores)
From the same house comes this lovely, fruity Cab with lots of cherry at the front. A slow-sipping wine as well as a food companion. Ideal with Portuguese San Jorge cheese or Stilton with dried fruit and nuts.
Spierhead Pinot Noir 2010
($18 direct from the winery in Kelowna or savvy indie stores about town)
Fantastic value, but be warned: these wines have a nasty habit of selling out fast. Rich concentration of ripe fruit, but a very deft, classic Pinot Noir balance and finish. Surely one of the best new Pinots to come out of the Valley.
JoieFarm PTG 2010
($23.90 at the winery in Naramata)
PTG stands for Passe-Tout-Grain, a “classic but little-known wine of Burgundy”. It reminds me—at least, this one does—of a baby Vougeot. I think this recent vintage is Joie’s best expression yet of this delightful, delicious wine: rich and super fresh, soft and mellow but never mushy. The winemakers’ notes point out the blend components: “elegant Pinot Noir of the Côte d’Or” and “the rich, spicy Gamay of Beaujolais”. A stunning wine in every way. Grab a couple if you can.
River Stone Merlot 2010
($19.90, but sold-out at the winery; there may still be some bottles in select VQA stores)
This fairly new South Okanagan winery can do no wrong, or so it seems to me. This is (was) a gorgeous Merlot, spicy and full of great fruit, cherries galore. A superb wine; no wonder it’s all sold—they only made 133 cases. However, a look at the website a few days ago showed there was still some of their beautiful blend, Corner Stone, available. Only 349 cases of that were produced; it sells for $28.50 at the winery. Check it out online first at the winery (www.riverstoneestatewinery.ca/), which also has a list of local private stores that may have some.
Clos du Soleil Signature 2010
($39.90 at the winery in Keremeos and some VQA stores; www.closdusoleil.ca/ )
This flagship Similkameen winery brought in winemaker Ann Sperling to blend their Meritage-style wine for them, from grapes grown in both Similkameen and Osoyoos vineyards. Her mix is 48 percent Merlot, 34 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, nine percent Malbec, and 9 percent Petit Verdot. It all went into French oak for 18 months and the result is terrific: hearty, hale, rich and round, big and bold. The Merlot stands out as the driver, while the other varieties act cohesively in their supporting roles to achieve a brilliant blend. Handsome stuff. It’s well worth acquiring a few bottles (if the budget can stand it) and keeping it around someplace cool for periodic sipping, say at six-month intervals, to see how it fares.