Friday, September 12, 2014

Think Pink: summer's still here and there's still time to drink great rose wines!

Miraval - from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to you!
Rose is the quintessential wine of summer to me - and million of other drinkers around the globe!

Did you know that a shocking one-third of all wine sold in France today is rose?  Amazing.

Fortunately for us, the French are happy to export some of their best rose wines - as are the Spanish - and BC makes some darn fine ones too.

A personal favourite is better know for its owners than its name - Miraval from Provence in southern France.

The owners are a new couple trying their hand at wine: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie!  

And if you don't think life is unfair, their very first vintage in 2012 was one of the Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines of last year, scoring 90 points!  Of course, it helps that they partnered with the great Perrin family of winemakers who bring centuries of experience to the vineyard.

Miraval's current 2013 vintage is scored 90 by Robert Parker and 89 by the Wine Spectator and - time to rush - it is still available in BC Liquor Stores, with 169 bottles available across BC at $28.99 - not cheap but hey, it's movie star wine!  [I should note that your friendly local liquor store can usually bring bottles in for you at no charge if not available.]

This rose is simply delicious - strawberry notes, a touch of rose petals and goes with just about anything - salmon, appetizers, chicken - you name it.  

A second personal favourite is Domaine Lafond's Roc Epine 2013 rose from Tavel in Provence.

Domaine Lafond
A deeper darker rose than the Miraval and done in a different style, this is the wine that changed my mind about rose wines some years ago.

Loads of cherry fruit and lots of flavour - just a beautiful wine. Robert Parker rates this at 91 points while the Wine Spectator scores it 89.

There are 271 bottles available in BC Liquor Stores for $24.99.  As you can see from the prices, these are serious bottles and not the Mateus we all drank in high school in the funny bottle!

Another great choice at a more modest price is Muga 2013 rose from Spain.

A lighter style than the Tavel but very lovely and at $17.99 a little more affordable. No ratings on this vintage but past years have always scored int he high 80s.

There are 349 bottles available across BC.  
Muga Rose from Spain

Last but not least - British Columbia's own Joie makes a fabulous rose wine in Naramata and the 2013 is an excellent choice at $20.93.  There are 1200 bottles in BC Liquor Stores across the province. 

Joie makes it in a full bodied style with lots of berry fruit.  It's made with 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Gamay, which give it both strawberry and black cherry flavours - delicious.

So Think Pink as we approach the end of summer - and open a rose this weekend!
BC's own Joie 2013 Rose from Naramata


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Celebrate World Malbec Day - Thursday April 17 - with a glass of Malbec from Argentina or France or Canada or the United States or…...

Malbec heaven!  A Top 100 Wine Spectator wine, scored at 90 points and available in BC for just $19.99!

Happy World Malbec Day!  

It's April 17th each year and wine lovers celebrate one of the most accessible, enjoyable and simply drinkable grape varietals you can wine on the planet!

I love Malbec for all those reasons and one more - it is one of the great values in wine, providing a lot of delicious taste for often the most modest expenditure.

Here in British Columbia we have available a huge variety of Malbecs - according to the Vancouver Sun's excellent wine columnist Anthony Gismondi there are dozens of Malbec and Malbec blends in government and private liquor stores at a wide range of prices.

And you can celebrate World Malbec Day Wednesday April 17th at BC Liquor Stores events or just by purchasing a bottle to go with dinner.  

So here are just a few personal favourites that you can easily find: 

Norton Malbec Reserva 2010 - a Wine Spectator Top 100 Wine of 2012, with a 90 point score and for sale for just $19.99 in BC Liquor Stores!  

And there are over 1,000 bottles across BC - so no excuse to not celebrate World Malbec Day with this bottle from Argentina for dinner.  Full of berry, plum and smoky flavours, it would go great with a steak or pasta or sausages or just about anything.
Big, bold Bramare Malbec by Vina Cobos

Want to live large with the Easter weekend upon us?  Then spend a big $44.99 and you won't regret buying the 2011 Vina Cobos Bramare Valle de Uco Malbec.  This is a massive but complex Argentina Malbec that I first tried at the Vancouver International Wine Festival and was blown away by how great it was.

Raspberry, blueberry, spice and herb - this has it all and layers of complexity.  It was simply one of the best values at the Wine Festival and easily outperformed much more expensive wines being poured there. There are over 300 bottles available across BC. 

Last but far from least, try Catena's always wonderful Malbec from Argentina also - currently on sale for $20.99, marked down $2 by BC Liquor Stores till May 3, with a massive 3,200 plus bottles available.

It's scored 91 point by the Wine Spectator -and I tried it tonight and loved as usual.  Lots of bright jammy red berry fruit, a bit of smoke and espresso.

Delicious Catena 2011 Malbec
But whatever you decide - you can't go wrong with Malbec!

Pick one up whether from the Cahors region in France or Argentina and Happy World Malbec Day!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Two "must buy" reasonably-priced red wines - Concha y Toro Casa Concha 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and Chateau Maison Blanche 2009 Medoc Bordeaux!

Casa Concha 2011 and Maison Blanche 2009 killer wines
Every now and again a stunningly good wine shows up in British Columbia liquor stores at a price that makes you happy!

So prepare to smile when you buy and taste not one but two excellent red wines!

Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and Chateau Maison Blanche 2009 Medoc Bordeaux are simply great wines at reasonably affordable prices - both less than $30.  

Concha y Toro's Casa Concha series is always awesome - it has consistently won 90 points + scores from the Wine Spectator and other reviewers year after year and is one of my favourite wines because it retails for under $25.

But this year's Casa Concha 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon is remarkable - and earned it a 93 point score - while it is reasonably priced in BC government liquor stores at $22.99 and has been on sale at times for $20.99. Amazingly, the U.S. list price is $26 in their dollars.

This cabernet is big, smoky, chocolaty and spicy - lots of blackberry fruit and intense concentration.  The Spectator recommends waiting till 2015 to 2022 to drink this one but there is simply no way I am waiting another year - quaff it now with a steak or red meat cut or just enjoy this big wine.  But I will age some for sure.

You simply cannot touch this kind of wine for value at that price!  Fortunately there are over 1,400 bottles in the BC system.

I also love the Chateau Maison Blanche 2009 Medoc from Bordeaux - a 91 point Wine Spectator scored bottle that is available at BC government liquor stores for $28.99.  They have nearly 700 bottles across BC.

It is a Medoc Cru Bourgeois red wine - don't let the "Blanche" fool you - from the excellent 2009 vintage that allowed the Bordelais wineries to charge extortionate rates for their products - but this is a very reasonable price for such a lovely wine.

The blend is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and it has all the terroir taste you expect from a fine Bordeaux wine - but without the $100 or $200 or $2,000 price tag.

Yummy raspberry and blackberry fruit in this one and it is drinking very well now but will likely get even better for up to five years.

But don't wait long to pick these two wines up - they won't last on the shelves at this price!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Get Ready for Hard-to-Swallow Higher Booze Prices in BC Supermarkets - Easier To Buy, Not Cheaper

Going into the red - BC price $17.95, $15.95 in Ontario and $11.10 in Chicago!
BC Liberals' changes will simply increase total sales by making it easier to buy, not cheaper.

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

Tuesday March 18, 2014

By Bill Tieleman

There are only two real ways to get ahead today -- sell liquor or drink it."
- W.C. Fields, comedian, 1880-1946
Beer, wine and spirits are coming to British Columbia supermarkets next year, but don't expect cheaper booze -- if anything, what is already among North America's highest-priced alcohol will only get more expensive.
Consumers say they would love the convenience of supermarket sales, but that thrill may be gone when prices stay the same or likely go higher than in B.C. government liquor stores.
The reality of BC Liberal changes is to make booze easier to access, but prices harder to swallow.
So forget about B.C. becoming like Washington State or Europe, with giant supermarket chains offering deep discounts on your favourite beverage.
The government's real goal is simply to increase total sales by making it easier to buy, not cheaper.
The only way most prices could actually drop is if government reduced its $1-billion annual booze profits -- and that ain't gonna happen.
And since most B.C. private liquor stores already charge $2, $3 or much more per bottle of wine, spirits or a case of beer than government rates, without a wholesale price drop retail prices will stay sky high.
In fact, there is nothing in the B.C. liquor review that gives even faint hope to thirsty drinkers of any cut to the high cost of quaffing.
Booze costs already too damn high
There are two models for sales in grocery stores. The main one is called a "store within a store," where supermarkets will have a liquor sales area separated from grocery products and minors.
In addition, some B.C. VQA-certified wines will be made available at some point directly on grocery store shelves without the separate store model, though details aren't yet clear.
When this column did a price comparison of wine and beer prices in 2012, the gap between B.C. prices and other jurisdictions was stunning.
And it still is.
One example: the widely distributed Perrin Cote Du Rhone Reserve red wine sells for $17.95 a bottle in B.C. Liquor Stores, but $16.50 in Quebec government liquor stores, $15.95 in Ontario, only $13 in a private Alberta store if you buy a case of 12, and just $11.10 Canadian at Binny's in Chicago -- or $10.54 a bottle if you buy a case!

By the way, this wine is rated 88 points by Robert Parker and 86 points by the Wine Spectator - a good value.
And while occasionally a B.C. bottle can be had cheaper, overall any online search will find wine, beer and spirits here are very pricey in both public and private stores.
So, government "modernizes" liquor laws, booze arrives in grocery stores, and yet the prices will only go up, not down.
Drink that irony in.



Friday, February 28, 2014

Wine Barbarian UPDATED top picks for Vancouver International Wine Festival SATURDAY


Amazing number of fantastic wines available for tastings Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night at the Vancouver International Wine Festival's Acura tasting room.

Okay - being an independent wine blogger with a day job makes tasting wines and making recommendation in a hurry a lot harder!  
Bill Tieleman - The Wine Barbarian on site

But I have done my best to personally taste a lot of wines Thursday afternoon and evening to give you some guaranteed picks to try if you are attending sessions Friday and Saturday!

None of which is to say I haven't missed other fabulous wines - I know I have, dammit!  And I'm trying to get to them today and tomorrow - so feel free to let me know your winners and I'll attempt to add to the list.  

And follow me on Twitter for ongoing tips @BillTieleman today and Saturday!  And check #VIWF for other Tweets from wine experts and consumers on what to try and buy.

However these wines were all wonderful and you will not be disappointed with them.

These wines are in no particular order and I only took a few photos on the iPhone 5 but picture or not, try them!

One cautionary note however - to my continual chagrin, the BC Liquor Stores on site store allows customers to clean out the limited supply of some rare and never to be seen again in BC wines brought in by participating wineries.  

That includes letting Trade Show visitors from the food and beverage industry and media buy them up before regular consumers even taste the wines.  And that leaves a bad taste in consumers' mouths after they've just tried a fantastic wine and want to bring home a bottle!  So then you see this sign - which I photographed Thursday at 5 p.m. after the Trade Show ended: 

BC Liquor Store at Wine Festival - sold out bottles before consumers even arrive!
There are several factors - importing rules etc., - but if necessary, the BC LDB should put quotas on bottle sales to give consumers a chance to buy them - and better still, find a way to put more on the shelf!  So please don't blame the wineries, the Wine Festival, the hard-working BC Liquor Store staff on site - not their fault.  

Here's the picks I recommend but try others at their tables and from other wineries too:

Boisset Puligny-Montrachet Le Trezin 2011 

TRÉZIN 2011 
Fabulous white from Burgundy - simply outstanding!  $70.

Next door is another fantastic white to compare it with, from: ROUX PÈRE & FILS | BOURGOGNE, FRANCE

CRU “LES CORTONS” WHITE 2012 MONOPOLE 2012 - This is a beautiful Meursault at $113 so don't miss it!
Roux Pere Chambolle-Musigny 2010

Also great are their other Burgundies but especially: CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY 1 CRU “LES BORNIQUES” 2010 - what an awesome expression of a great wine region!  

Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne

Of course, Champagne and bubbly are the focus this year and what better Champagne to try to start than the GRAND SIÈCLE NV  from  LAURENT-PERRIER | CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE - a fantastic bottle and, regrettably, $199 for each one.  But what a treat to try.  

And there is an amazing selection of other fabulous Champagnes, cremants and more!

Moving over to the Rhone Valley of France, don't miss DOMAINE DE LA SOLITUDE and their stellar selection, including a killer white CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE CUVÉE BARBERINI BLANC that will stun you if you haven't tried whites from CNP before and make you fall in love again if you have!  At $90.  

But also try all to their other fantastic CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE reds - simply outstanding wines!

Also in Rhone - don't miss the wines of Romain Duvernay, especially their CÔTE RÔTIE ROMAIN DUVERNAY 2009 at $64 and their VACQUEYRAS ROMAIN DUVERNAY 2011 at $29 - the latter one of the bargains of the Festival.

Please don't miss one of my constant favourites - FAMILLE PERRIN | RHÔNE, FRANCE
and their killer CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE Chateau Beaucastel red and white.  I was fortunate enough to attend the Beaucastel dinner at Bistro Pastis but you can taste both the wonderful CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE ROUGE 2011 and the amazing CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE BLANC 2012 at their table - both at $92.

Lastly from the Loire Valley in France, fabulous Sauvignon Blancs from DOMAINE JOSEPH MELLOT - including outstanding Sancerre bottles at two different ascending levels of complexity and cost: SANCERRE JOSEPH MELLOT LA CHATELLENIE 2012 at $30 and SANCERRE JOSEPH MELLOT LA GRANDE CHATELAINE
2010 at $45.  I also tasted a 2009 Cuvee Pierre Etienne Sancerre at the Trade Tasting that was unbelievable! 

Outside of France - which has the most wineries of the Festival - there are other fantastic wines.  Space and time limit me to a quick list not to miss: 

VIÑA COBOS | MENDOZA, ARGENTINA - two stunning Malbecs - BRAMARE LUJAN DE CUYO MALBEC 2010 at $45 and the VALLE DE UCO MALBEC 2011 at $48.

From Australia INLAND TRADING CO. | BAROSSA VALLEY, AUSTRALIA - don't miss the GREENOCK CREEK ALICES BLOCK SHIRAZ 2010 - big, bold and fruity at $63.  And try the CHARLES CIMICKY “ST. C” SHIRAZ / CABERNET 2010 at only $30 - a bargain.
From Chile LAPOSTOLLE | COLCHAGUA VALLEY, CHILE - the Clos Apalta is one of the world's great wines at $125 for the 2010 vintage. Also great value CUVÉE ALEXANDRE MERLOT 2012 at $30.

And next door is SANTA RITA | MAIPO VALLEY, CHILE - where I loved both the TRIPLE C 2008 at $39 and the very opulent PEHUEN CARMENERE 2007 at $70 - simply delicious and I adore Carmenere!

Lastly and only due to time constraints, don't miss the always outstanding CHARLES SMITH WINES / K VINTNERS | COLUMBIA VALLEY, UNITED STATES - where I have been fortunate to visit.  Charles is a rock star in wine and you can see why with his K VINTNERS MOTOR CITY KITTY SYRAH 2011 at $50 - shows what Washington State can do with Syrah - and Charles makes even bigger and bolder Syrahs and blends as well.


On Friday I worked hard to try yet more wines and here are some recommendations for Saturday night - to buy if you can afterwards:

New Zealand is always a big favourite of mine and nice to see the genial Jim Robertson - Global Brand Ambassador - at the Festival again.  

STONELEIGH | MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND - all good value but really loving the $24 LATITUDE PINOT NOIR 2012

Next door don't miss NAUTILUS ESTATE | MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND and their great PINOT NOIR 2011 at $40 - it has been selling out every day a the onsite store.

I have neglected Italy a bit - which is tragic - because there are some beautiful wines here this year.  Will try to make up for that but did love the CASTIGLION DEL BOSCO | TUSCANY, ITALY and their killer CAMPO DEL DRAGO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2008 at $90 as well as their BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2009 at $60.
Campo Del Drago

Next door at DAMILANO | PIEDMONT, ITALY you can find a wonderful pair of Barolos - BAROLO “LECINQUEVIGNE” DOCG 2008 at $50 and the superb, huge BAROLO LISTE DOCG 2007 at $100.
 One last trip back to France - go to CHÂTEAU DE LA GARDINE | RHÔNE, FRANCE
where you will meeting the charming Marion Barral and be sure to try the wonderful CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE CUVÉE DES GENERATIONS MARIE LEONCIE 2011
 - a white full of fragrant tropical fruit at $85.  And of course their great CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE CUVÉE TRADITION RED 2011 at $58. 

There are so many other great wines at the Festival and so little time - hope to see you there and if possible I will update this list as I taste more today!   Also follow me on Twitter for tips @BillTieleman - and cheers!


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Vancouver International Wine Festival sold out except for just 2 events! Hurry, hurry hard for tickets!

The Vancouver International Wine Festival now well underway and the only big tasting event NOT sold out is Saturday afternoon at bargain price of $68!  

Plus great Aussie Pie wine tasting lunch - and Chateau Beaucastel dinner at Bistro Pastis menu
John Blakeley of Bistro Pastis, Thomas Perrin of Château Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Perrin with Bill Tieleman, Wine Barbarian
Wow - what an amazing success already for the Vancouver International Wine Festival!

Every event is now sold out except for the big Acura Room International Tasting Festival on Saturday afternoon from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at a bargain price of $68 and the Aussie Pie tasting "Life of Pie" for $69 on Saturday at 12 noon till 2 p.m.  

So don't delay if you don't want to miss this fantastic Festival for the benefit of Bard on the Beach - I strongly believe those last two events will also sell out soon!

Last night I had the privilege of attending the Château Beaucastel dinner at the always fabulous Bistro Pastis and sitting with Thomas Perrin, from the famous Perrin family who own Château Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and other great properties in France - this year's theme country.

First - do not miss the opportunity to taste all of the Château Beaucastel and Perrin wines at the Festival if you are attending - all wonderful bottles!

I will have a full report on the dinner and Thomas' many interesting remarks on Chateau Beaucastel winemaking, terroir and history soon but here is the amazing menu prepared by John Blakeley and the wines Thomas chose to accompany them, not including starting with a great Wine Spectator Top 100 rose from Brad Pitt + Angelina Jolie in partnership with Perrin - Miraval 2012.

Château Beaucastel dinner menu with wine pairing - fabulous!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Vancouver International Wine Festival almost sold out - but tickets still available for these great events

Wine Barbarian Bill Tieleman at the famous Romanee-Conti vineyard in Burgundy.
France is the Vancouver International Wine Festival theme but don't expect to see bottles of this!
With still several days before the Vancouver International Wine Festival kicks off, most events are totally sold out!  But still some excellent ones left - don't delay!

But don't dismay - there are still a few great wine events with tickets available.

Most important - you can still go to the Thursday night International Festival Tasting - my favourite as it's the least crowded, with more time to talk to wine principals - and Friday night International Festival Tasting - the big shows with hundreds of wines to try.  They run from 7 to 10 p.m. and this year's focus is on France with special emphasis on bubbly!  Tres bien!  Tickets are $89.

And you can also go to the first-ever new Saturday afternoon International Festival Tasting from 3 to 5 p.m.   [But Saturday night's event is totally sold out.]

I will be there on Thursday and Saturday night, by the way - if you see me, ask for my top picks!

Other interesting events you can still attend include: 

Blind Tasting Challenge (test your skill!) - Wednesday Feb. 26 - 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts - just $30

Life of Pie (Aussie Pie and wine) - if you haven't tried Aussie Pie you are in for a treat!  I love this stuff!  Lunch and wine on Saturday March 1 from 12 to 2 p.m. at Loungeworks - $69

UPDATE NOW SOLD OUT! France Bubbly Party (Champagne! Seafood! French pastries!) - Tuesday Feb. 25 from 9 to 11 p.m. at Ginger 62 - $65

UPDATE - HAS HAPPENED  Bacchanalia Gala - the most glamourous event - this Saturday February 22 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver from 5:45 to 11 p.m. Champagne reception followed by 5 incredible courses, nine fantastic wines, one-of-a-kind auction items - hold your breath - tickets are $395 each.

You can check this link to find out which events have tickets or are sold out. 

And again remember availability is still there for the International Festival Tastings on Thursday and Friday and Saturday afternoon.

See you there - cheers! 



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