Wine Talk

Snooth User: GregT

More on BC wine

Posted by GregT, Oct 18.

Don't know if anyone saw the most recent issue of Wine Spectator - November 2019?

They reviewed a number of Canadian wines. Here is a sample.

Checkmate -

2015 Capture 91 $80

2015 Fool's Mate 91 $75

2015 Little Pawn 91 $85

2015 Queen Taken 91 $100

2015 Attack 90 $90

2015 Knight's Challenge 91 $75

They had a number of others too:

Pinot Noir -

2015 Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Twenty Mile Bench 92 $35

2015 Martin's Lane Simes Vineyard 92 $80

And a number from Mission Hill and Burrowing Owl. Not all wines were from the Okanagan Valley, but most of them were.

I only knew a few of the wines, including the reds from Checkmate. Bruce is usually a fair reviewer and he obviously liked the wines, but they're all in the 89 - 92 range. That's like saying the wines were "nice". I think some were a little better than that, if not quite in the 100 point Schreiner stratosphere.

Highest-scoring wine was Mission Hill Oculus at 93 for both the 2015 and 2016 at $90 and $100 respectively.

Just based on what I had, I'd have given some of the Checkmate wines a few more points. But they're fighting a serious battle at those prices, where they're starting to compete with top US Chardonnays and Burgundy. You can find some truly enjoyable, crisp Chardonnay in CA for $40 and for even less than that in the Mâcon.

But it's good that the wines are getting some more recognition. They certainly deserve it.

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Replies

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Reply by zufrieden, Oct 18.

I dare say you are right concerning the general level of quality GT.  I have not been buying as much wine of late (although I did buy a coupe of cases of intermediate level - mostly - 2016 Bordeaux due to the obviously high quality there).  Hence, you now almost certainly know more about the contemporary BC wine scene than I - although DV keeps his hand in things on a pretty much constant basis.

My last sortie was into the garagiste wines of the boundary region in the Fraser Valley (using Okanagan fruit).  That brief flame-up of interest convinced me that we can produce world-class wines on a small scale in a style that is growing ever more geographically identifiable. 

Next stop: Checkmate wines and the recent editions of Oculus - being in a Bordelais mood of late for obvious reasons.  However, I may check out the PN where we are getting rave reviews - with scores exceeding those of good premier crus in the Beaune and Nuits St. Georges... and, best of all: good price competition.  Burgundy has to be the most overpriced, overhyped wine in the world - the reputation being worthy of same in many instances notwithstanding.

Anyway, glad to see a post from you.

Z.

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Reply by dvogler, Oct 18.

Check Mate is Anthony Von Mandl's project (he is the owner of Mission Hill too).  So, this makes me wonder about how Bruce got the wines he reviewed.  I think honestly, that 92 points is pretty darn good.  There are a lot of good BC wines though for $20-$40 US, but the problem is none of these are really available to buy in the US.  I've always maintained that BC wines are not "better than..." , but the they're better than you would think they might be.

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Reply by zufrieden, Oct 18.

Some are better than, by consensus, that is - not in any absolute sense, just con-sense.  There is a healthy dollop of subjectivity in all this, but opinions of experienced tipplers do tend to converge... especially when the taste buds are zeroed in on common loves such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir.

I am doing a test comparison of a reasonable Côte de Beaune and a North American PN of reasonably high quality.  Hence my question: where can you obtain a Flat Rock Gravity 20 Mile Bench in Old Vic - if at all?

It might make a neat comparison to a Pernand-Vereglesses 1er Cru I have in mind (2016).

Z.

 

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Reply by dvogler, Oct 19.

I meant that I've never said BC wine is better than some other region's wine.  It's easy to get crappy wine from anywhere!  It could be that in thirty years, BC will make better wine than California because of temperature and water etc.  Greta said so ;)

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Reply by zufrieden, Oct 19.

Yes the Swedish swamp witch.  But loveable, and probably correct on almost every point.  Sad that Jason Kenney is too obtuse to meet with a 16 year old who, one supposes, might have him on the carpet in pain crying "uncle!"...

Z.

Countdown to move: 3 days.

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Reply by dvogler, Oct 19.

Who is handling your bottles? ;)

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Reply by zufrieden, Oct 19.

Yours truly, of course  You may actually benefit, if things work out as planned.

Z.

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Reply by GregT, Oct 19.

I don't know how Bruce got the wines. I know that we used to drop them off at the WS offices in Manhattan. The reviewers will visit wineries, but they arrange that in various ways and I have no idea if he went out to BC or not.

I do know that there's a guy who's put together about five of the wineries in BC. There's one that has a medieval castle kind of decor. They're making good wine but the new owner wants to change the decor because he thinks it's kitchy. He's bundling them together to make a push into the US market, just because it's so much larger than the local market. So maybe the owner of Checkmate is doing something similar? Not sure. And maybe they're part of that group - I don't remember the wineries involved. But it seems like someone is trying to create some buzz for the region and I don't blame them.

As to whether they're "better" than someplace else, that's not something I can say. Like you guys said, there's crappy wine made all over and there's good wine made all over too. And most importantly, there's personal taste. The guy who kind of got me into the business a long time ago said something that makes sense. We were at a steakhouse with about five other people and we all brought all kinds of steak wines, some pretty expensive. He was importing wines from Argentina and he had his top wine. Not the top from Argentina, just the top in his portfolio. Everyone tried it and nobody complained. He said he was happy if the wine wasn't out of place at the table with the other wines. It wasn't. I don't think anyone suggested it was better than the aged Bordeaux or Barolo or Rioja, but it was good enough that everyone was happy to drink it. And I wouldn't be ashamed to pour many of the BC wines in good company.

But part of the fun is finding wines you haven't heard about forever. So we know that Napa can make good Cabs at this point. Bordeaux doesn't need an introduction. But there aren't a lot of people who know much about BC other than you guys up there!

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Reply by dvogler, Oct 20.

Good story and exactly how I felt when the Syrah thing at OT's was commencing and I brought the 2009 Le Vieux Pin "Equinoxe".

The medieval castle place is Road 13 in Okanagan Falls.  I guess you didn't make it there, but you did buy a Road 13 Jackpot syrah somewhere on your trip.

BC wine being marketed in the US could only be a novelty thing.  We simply don't have the volume, except for Mission Hill and a handful of others.  I'm talking 10k plus cases.  If people in the US tasted some BC wine and thought, "Hey!  I like this.  I'll buy some more next time I'm at the store".  There wouldn't be any!  If the local market were deprived, it might be a little better, but not for me!

 

 

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Reply by zufrieden, Oct 21.

There will be a gradual increase in volume - depending on the course of climate change, if permanent, as most now suspect.  Certainly, there is a lot of money going into the properties that be, and many of the largest orchards in BC were ploughed over, or at least denuded, to bring more grapes on line.

I am not well enough informed to say whether there are yet a few thousand hectares of land yet to be planted to grapes with any degree of profit; what seems to happen is that, "undifferentiated," or "general, overall" demand seems to push the expansion.

I think we are well on the way to the margins, just from comments over time.  However, it may be that our small production in BC (Ontario produces much more than we, about 70% of the total vineyard area, while we out west may account for 25%) will never surpass 10,000 hectares (currently around 4200).  I have yet to see anything about the upper limits of land suitable (even marginally) to the vine (I mean vitas vinifera - not hybrids - however quaffable), but we must be more than half-way there by now - assuming no further shift in climate.

Therefore, production will always be small, but with some emphasis on quality as a result.  Think the island of Santorini... tiny production, generally high quality and actually, quite reasonable prices (because unknown to all but we few).

Z.

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Reply by GregT, Oct 22.

Yep. Road 13. We spent a lot of time there with the wine maker. He stayed late for us and gave us a lot of insight into the region. I don't really mind kitch, as long as it's presented in fun. I'd keep the decor.

Zuf - you may be on to something about Ontario. I never equated it with wine, but they do a lot there.

And tobacco!

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Reply by zufrieden, Oct 25.

I find Road 13 wines quite robust (reds).  So, given that you can still (usually) find an Road 13 in the government liquor store, let's hope they don't end up in File 13.  You probably found most of the wine-makes in the Okanagan quite personable and even knowledgeable... we have not toured of late since friends and relatives in the region seem to have drifted away, and the likelihood of resurrecting  more than a trip per year is less now given our move to the island.

On that topic, we noticed that no doorbell was put in at the main entrance of our new upscale townhouse.  Hmmm, maybe we should stick with that.  Anyway, except for the communications and security arrangements - which are mysteriously poorly managed here (well, not really, but that is another story), everything has gone well so far with the move (two days ago).

Z.

 

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Reply by dvogler, Oct 25.

Ah good to hear Zuf, I mean that you're moved in at least.  I'm sure that the place is wired for every piece of technology you could want.  I'll have to pop by and make sure the on-demand water heater is functioning properly and the fireplace.  You should consider some big knockers in lieu of a doorbell ;)

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Reply by GregT, Oct 25.

Check his heater but check the automatic lock as well. You saw what happened in Texas where that tired policewoman walked into the wrong apartment when the door wasn't shut properly.

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Reply by dvogler, Oct 25.

No.  What happened?  (I'll see if I can find something about it!  It may be inappropriate for the forum!).

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Reply by zufrieden, Oct 26.

Yes indeed.  I do recall that case.  More like a Coen Bros. scripted film noir scenario (in poor taste).

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Reply by dvogler, Oct 26.

Okay.  I guess I heard about it on NPR, but didn't really pay attention to it.  Fortunately, gun violence is rare here.  Zuf will be more likely accosted by a raccoon or deer.   

Greg, there's a good article on John Schreiner's blog about a French woman who is the winemaker at Le Vieux Pin and it's sister winery, La Stella.  

https://johnschreiner.blogspot.com/

 

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Reply by zufrieden, Oct 27.

GT, you must be busy with some kind of employment of late - or, if you are not needing "gainful employment" (a somewhat oxymoronic expression for 95% of occupational work, for who ever gains from employment excepting, perhaps entertainers, professional athletes and a handful of others who engage in wage slavery?... admittedly, of course, we all have done it).

Well, we look forward to some more pithy remarks in the near future.

Anyway... I looked at Schreiber's blog and he has reviewed many wines.  I have a formula in the works for converting his generous grading system to one more comparable with, say, the Wine Spectator or Decanter.  I must share this at some point.  But I digress (as I am wont to do).  His short bio of Severine Pinte was very unsatisfactory as it missed out on almost every personal element of interest - such as: where born, childhood, how interest in wine developed, side trips in life, marriage, Canada connection, etc.

But that's John for you, I guess.  At least Severine agrees with you guys on PN.

Z.

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Reply by dvogler, Oct 27.

Although John is far too generous with his ratings, he is consistent and I'm able to deduct two points to give me a better idea of the wine.  Severine was at the winemaker's dinner at the Parksville Uncorked event last February.  She spoke before each course about the wines we'd be drinking.  She admitted public speaking wasn't something she relished, but she was great.  She was funny as well.  I'm pretty sure she was born in France, but I didn't go talk to her after the dinner.  

more on Severine:

https://www.sumilier.com/sumilier-stars/women-in-wine-7/62017

 

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Reply by zufrieden, Oct 29.

DV, I guess this is the biggest drawback to blog-style (as opposed to face-to-face) discussion - you can't easily modify or refine your statements.  I meant that Schreiner never asked exactly where the woman was born (I knew she was French) and how she got into the wine business and why, and more importantly, why Canada?  I know there is a French connection (not to be confused with the 1971 movie with Gene Hackman), but New France is a long, long way from these rainy shores.  And so on.

Maybe a Parksville (why not Victoria?) uncorked in future will dissolve this and many other mysteries not solved by the likes of Schreiner (BTW, John seems nice and is a great booster of BC Wine having written some very useful and breezy books on the subject as well).  Besides, I can't help thinking of the Shriners...

Z.

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