Friday, December 27, 2013

Puddifoot store - a Vancouver institution for wine and food fans - is sadly closing December 31 - but hurry to Kerrisdale for fantastic deals!


Original item: The fabulous Puddifoot store in Kerrisdale that has served Vancouver wine and food fans for over 60 years is sadly closing after December 31.

I recently spoke with Jason Puddifoot about the retail institution and the good news is that their wholesale business serving the restaurant and food service business is booming and will continue.

But those of us who depended on Puddifoot's multi generation store for the fabulous Riedel and other wine and whisky glasses and carafes, cutlery, plates, candlesticks and much more for the kitchen and dining room will be out of luck.

The brief bright spot is that everything is on sale now through December 31 at remarkable savings!

I've already bought my wine glassware for the next year or two, depending on breakage!

I encourage, if not urge you to head over there and help Puddifoot clean out the store with fabulous savings to you. 

Best wishes to Jason and John Puddifoot, their family and the many dedicated staff that have served me over many, many years - good luck continuing the wholesale business and see you at the Vancouver International Wine Festival again this year!

Call 604-261-8141 if you need to check hours.

CORRECTION: I mixed up Jason with John in an earlier version - now fixed.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

A modern Shiraz Fable - launch at Fable Restaurant of George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2010

3 courses - 1 wine - a case study in delicious simplicity

2010 George Wyndham 
Founders Reserve Shiraz
Most people on most nights open one bottle of wine to accompany their dinner.  

And while chefs, sommeliers, restaurant critics, foodies and others will rightly argue that each separate course of a meal should have a different wine to match it, that's really not possible 99% of the time.  

Especially when it's dinner for two at home. 

Enter George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2010 and Fable Kitchen's famed chef Trevor Bird to show how it's done right.

Winemaker Steve Meyer from Wyndam Estate was guest of honour and explained his approach to creating a reasonably-priced Shiraz that goes with a wide variety of dishes - without overpowering them, as some massive, high-alcohol Australian Shiraz is apt to do. 

This tasty wine is widely available across the province at BC Liquor Stores at $18.99 with over 800 bottles in stock and likely many private stores as well.

Steve explained his craft and the style he uses with the George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2010 - which comes from the Langhorne Creek region in South Australia, which has been producing wine grapes since the 1860s.

Steve that in comparison to some other wine regions of Australia, Langhorne Creek wines have softer tannins with a bouquet of mint and eucalyptus notes.

The George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2010 features a palate of fresh plum and blackberry fruit flavours, along with notes of black olives and aniseed.  The bouquet also has a touch of cedar, cinnamon, chocolate and spice.

Winemaker Steve Meyer and Bill Tieleman
- Shirley Ross photo
What I really like about this Shiraz - and I drink a lot of them from Australia and other countries - is that it is not a take-no-prisoners wine - it is actually very food friendly.

That was proven by Chef Bird with an excellent meal built around the wine.

We started with canapes of blue cheese, dates and bacon that were simply excellent, followed by a parsnip and apple soup shooter - very imaginative - and the Shiraz went very well with both.

Our first course was one close to my heart - rabbit!  Chef Bird prepared rabbit legs with red curry squash agnolotti and fall gourds in a very rich sauce - excellent!  

Rabbit legs, squash agnolotti dish - Bill Tieleman photo
The George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2010 was clearly a handsome match for this dish - complementing it rather than attempting to bully it as some other big Shiraz wines would.

Chef Bird said this Shiraz goes very well with rich dishes, adding: "You could have it with a stick of butter!"   We didn't try that but I would guess a lot of butter was used in the kitchen that night!

Next up was an unusual dish - and a cut of beef you just won't find anywhere unless you are a restaurant chef with a great supplier.

Braised Beef Stiletto came with triple-cooked potatoes, fresh grilled porcini mushrooms, carrots, pearl onions and porcini foam with Shiraz jus.  The beef was also braised in the Shiraz.

To call it delicious would be an understatement!  And it was as rich as a new lottery winner!
Braised Beef Stiletto w potatoes, porcini

But once again, the George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2010 was an excellent partner that added to the beef's strong flavours.

As for the "Stiletto" - Chef Bird explained that the cut is from the back calf muscle - the one that would get used if you were wearing stiletto heel shoes.  

Chef Bird - a competitor in last year's Top Chef Canada show, coming in second place - clearly knows his meat and wine. Before opening Fable Kitchen [formerly Fuel and ReFuel] at 1944 West 4th Avenue in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood, he was chef de partie at the Shangri-La hotel in Vancouver and worked as a chef at Truffert and sous chef at Restaurant Garcon in Montreal.

Steve Meyer at home in Langhorne Creek
Our dessert course was - guess - rich again!  A dark chocolate terrine was paired with a highly unusual olive oil ice cream.  Again the George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2010 rose to the challenge, matching a completely different taste than all that came before.

Steve Meyer was very impressed with the results of the wine and food pairing.  Steve also noted in response to questions from the wine and foodie writers in attendance that Wyndham is using mostly screwcaps instead of corks with their wine and that this wine will age 10 to 15 years if well stored.  He said they first tested screwcaps in 1998 with their Riesling and immediately saw big advantages.  

Steve, who has previous winemaking experience in the Mudgee region, Georgia in eastern Europe and Spain, said he believes his role is to express the fruit flavours as they occur in the vineyard, not use a lot of tricks in the cellar to change the wine.

It was a great event and many thanks to Dana Sissons and Kristine Driedger of Hill + Knowlton Strategies and Rae Gibson of Corby Distilleries for the inviting and gracious hosting!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Drinking great champagne - especially on your 21st Anniversary! Piper-Heidsieck Top 100 champagne it is!

Nothing better than bubbly and blue skies!
Bill Tieleman photo

Let's face it - champagne is a fantastic wine that is sadly a bit too expensive other than on special occasions.

So when you have one - and my wife Shirley Ross and I just celebrated our 21st anniversary - I have two suggestions:  1)  Drink a good champagne and 2) Consider buying a half bottle - 375 ml size - so you can do it more often!

Fortunately, in British Columbia and many other places you can drink a delicious Piper-Heidsieck non-vintage champagne that is on the Wine Spectator magazine's Top 100 Wines of 2012 and scored a very impressive 93 points.

The Spectator said: "Elegant, with rich base notes of toasted brioche and smoke adding depth, this integrates finely honed acidity, detailed texture and flavors of black cherry puree, apple tarte Tatin, kumquat and grated ginger. Provides a creamy, mineral-tinged finish."

Okay - I didn't find all that in my glass but let's just say it is one tasty, creamy good champagne!

I was fortunate enough to have bought a few half-bottles a while back but at the moment BC Liquor Stores don't seem to have anything but the full bottles.  Those will cost you a not insignificant $64.95 but there are 700 bottles available across the province.

Piper-Heidseick NV Brut Champagne


Monday, September 2, 2013

Wine Barbarian on assignment in Amsterdam, Burgundy & Paris!

It's a tough job but somebody's got to do it - go to the Netherlands and France, drink Bordeaux, Rhone, Provence, Burgundy, German and Italian wines, eat truffles, escargot, rabbit, foie gras, duck and mountains of cheese - and report back to Wine Barbarian readers!

Here I am visiting one of the most famous - and expensive - vineyards in the world: Domaine De La Romanee-Conti in Burgundy. 

How pricey? The La Tache 2005 is available in BC Liquor Stores for $8,500 a bottle! Their 2005 Richebourg is a more affordable $5,500 each. Sadly, no tasting room with free samples. ;-(

I am currently in Paris eating and drinking my way through the City of Light after visiting Burgundy - stay tuned for reports on my travels after I return shortly - and perhaps more portly!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Still more Top 100 Wines available in British Columbia! And some at lower than U.S. prices! Plus a great budget Chardonnay

Two great Top 100 wines and one excellent budget choice Chardonnay, so don't delay!  

Apologies for the long summer absence but I've been busy drinking wine, err, doing research for this website!
Flaccianello 2009

But I had to tell you ASAP that one of the best wines in the world - and a Wine Spectator 2012 Top 100 choice [#25] that scored a massive 96 points - is readily available in BC Liquor Stores for over 20% less than US prices! 

Fontodi's 2009 Flaccianello is not cheap - at $99.99 it is a collector-only wine for sure - but that's still $20 cheaper than the Wine Spectator list price south of our border.  Robert Parker rates it at a still very high 94 points, BTW.

You'll find black current, raspberry and violet aromas in this Sangiovese that shouldn't be opened till at least 2015 and will last till 2032, if you have the time and patience!

And there are 555 bottles of Flaccianello in stock across BC, so it's very available - but won't last long!

I've had the pleasure of visiting Fontodi in Panzano, Italy in 2005 and tasting their delicious Flaccianello, as well as their other awesome wines.  If $99.99 makes you shiver - and it should - try their 2008 Chianti Classico at 33.99 - it's a 90 point Wine Spectator wine that while not Top 100 is beautiful and cheaper, with 807 bottle around the province.
Bill Tieleman visits Fontodi and tastes 
Flaccianello in Panzano, Italy in 2005

Since we're spending big buck, let's also buy some Top 100 Champagne too!

Piper-Heidsieck Brut is not cheap either at $64.95 at BC Liquor Stores but no Champagne is - and this one gets 93 points and #84 spot on the Wine Spectator's 2012 Top 100 list.  

[There were some half-bottles in BC available but I don't see them listed at the moment.]

You get classic brioche and smoke, plus black cherry puree notes and more - I simply say it's delicious.

Pricey, yes, but as Napoleon said: "Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it."

Edna Valley Paragon
Chardonnay 2011
Lastly, for those on a less regal budget - like me - here's another great choice for just $17.99: 2011 Edna Valley Paragon Chardonnay from San Luis Obispo County in California.

This beautiful wine is on sale for $17.99 down from list price of $19.99 at BC Liquor Stores and it is without question the best white wine buy in the province right now until August 24, with 1,058 bottles available - minus the ones I just grabbed!

I've had the pleasure of visiting this winery in the past and their Chardonnay is lovely - a big, tropical fruit style but not over the top.  

Pear, apricot, pineapple, white peach - up to you to determine but that's what the reviews indicate and I agree.

Happy summertime wine drinking and cheers!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Celebrate World Malbec Day with a glass of Malbec from Argentina - or France!

Did you know it's World Malbec Day today - April 17?

Neither did I until a few weeks ago!  But it's a great idea, because Malbec is a wonderful grape that deserves it's own day.

Malbec Day has only happened the last two years and it may create a trend - of course, there are almost enough grape varietals for the 365 days of the year!

I recommend celebrating with Norton's Malbec Reserva 2010 from Argentina's Mendoza region - a fabulous wine that is both very reasonably priced at just $17.99 [on sale by $2 right now], very accessible with over 1,200 bottles in BC Liquor Stores and also in some private stores and best of all - it is #51 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2012 - rated at 91 points out of a possible 100!

I enjoyed a bottle a few days ago and it is a remarkable value, full of berry, plum and smoky flavours.

But for my own Malbec Day dinner I'm going with another great 91 point wine - the Bodega Colome Estate Grand Altura 2010 from the Calchaqui Valley in Argentina - which the Wine Spectator promises is a suave, racy wine that will deliver game, crushed cherry and wild berry notes - all for $30 from BC Liquor Stores, who have only 176 bottles left!

Happy Malbec Day!


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Number 3 of Top 100 Wines of the Year available still in British Columbia!

Two Hands Bella's Garden Barossa Valley Shiraz still on LDB shelves - 95 point wine ranked as #3 on Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2012

Many people in BC like to think of themselves as wine experts and savvy collectors - so why is one of the very best wines in the world still on BC Liquor Store shelves?

Not only is it #3 on the Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2012, it was also rated 95 points by Robert Parker, the other key wine critic in the world.

At $80 clearly it's not cheap but neither was the extremely expensive 2009 Bordeaux [well overpriced in my opinion -and near impossible to get because of hyped frenzy buying].

And lots of cult California cabernets and other wines fly off the shelves - but this fabulous wine that I have enjoyed in previous and also highly rated vintages can still be found - 101 bottles are still listed in BC, including 55 in Metro Vancouver - though none in the city itself.

My advice?  Don't delay - some smart restaurant may just buy up the whole supply - and then charge $160 to $240 a bottle for this masterpiece!

And I've already got mine in the cellar!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Only half as good at twice the price! Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Week" is double the cost in BC!

Why does a chardonnay from Australia priced at $6 a bottle in the United States and sold for as low as $4.05 - and praised as Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Week"  - cost $12 a bottle in British Columbia?  

And does BC Liquor Minister Rich Coleman still disagree with me on the high price of wine in BC? 

Simple question to Rich Coleman: why does Lindeman's Bin 65 Chardonnay cost $6 on average in the United States and as low as $4.05 cost double to triple as much at $12 in British Columbia?

Does the term "greedy government" come to mind?  I thought it might.

But first - here's what the Wine Spectator - one of the world's leading wine magazine's - said about its "Wine of the Week" for March 18:

"Lindemans Chardonnay South Eastern Australia Bin 65 2011 (86 points, $6) 
Light and sleek, with pretty pear and floral flavors, lingering softly. Drink now. 100,000 cases imported. From Australia." 

Sounds delicious!  And knowing past vintages, it likely is.

But cheap it is not - not in BC by comparison.

Let me be clear - I totally support so-called "sin" taxes on liquor, tobacco and gambling paying for important social services like health care and education.

And I have no problem personally paying more than the average American in taxes, especially considering the benefits of public health care in Canada.

But DOUBLE the price in BC?  Actually TRIPLE the price compared to several Florida liquor stores! Seriously?

As regular readers know, I've written about this before and even posed the question of why BC wine drinkers pay amongst the highest prices in North America to Coleman on this edition of Voice of BC with host Vaughn Palmer on Shaw.

I'd say he dodged big time with his lame answers.

But you be the judge - is there any way an affordable $6 wine in the U.S. is justifiable for $12 in BC?  

Of course not - but if that doesn't piss you off enough, remember that the Lindemans Bin 65 will likely cost you $24 to $36 in any BC restaurant when they mark it up by 100% or more of the retail price!

I've written about that gouging too on this blog - but nothing has changed. 

So all I can do is whine some more about the outrageous price of wine in BC!


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Best of the Fest - Wine Barbarian top picks from Vancouver International Wine Festival

Here are my top picks of the Vancouver International Wine Festival.... so far:

I have been at a few Vancouver International Wine Festival functions, including the first of three big evening tasting room events on Thursday night at the Festival and can highly recommend tasting these fine wines, among far too many others to taste! 

First off, wines I was able to try, then some others I really hope to taste tonight.

Be sure to try the fabulous Joseph Phelps Insignia, their flagship red blend and one of most expensive wines at  at $255 a bottle! But so,so good!

Joseph Phelps Insignia 2009
All their other wines are great too, particularly the Freestone Pinot Noir 2010.

Don't miss fabulous but small production Blackbird Vineyards Illustration - a Merlot-based [81%] killer California wine that sadly is in extremely short supply and retails - not here - at $150 a bottle! But also great are their  Paramour 2009 - Cabernet Franc-based [61%] blend at $140 and Arise 2010 at $70.  Want to go back for their Arise 2012 rose at $36.
Blackbird Vineyards Illustration 2009

One of my favourite wineries in the world is Concha y Toro - always good value and award winning wines.  Their wonderful flagship wine - Don Melchor - is a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon [sometimes with a touch of Cabernet Franc] available in BC at $86.  They also have excellent Terrunyo Carmenere 2009 at $37, and the best-priced cab and chardonnay in BC - Casa Concha at $20 each - the chardonnay is on the Wine Spectator Top 100 rated at 90 points and the cabernet consistently scores 90 year after year. 
Don Melchor 2009

Lange Twins - A pleasure to meet Randy Lange, who is producting a really great chardonnay out of Lodi, California at the reasonable price [for BC, don't ask what it costs in the US!] of $24; try also their lovely Cabernet Sauvignon, plus Zinfandel.

Les Halos de Jupiter - from Cotes du Rhone to Rasteau to Gigindas to Chateauneuf du Pape, a collection of beautiful southern French classics!  The Cotes du Rhone at $24 is just an awesome wine but all are excellent values.

Paul Hobbs - great wines from a fabulous California producer - Chardonnay, Cabernet and blends.  Don't miss the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 at $110 - fabulous, as is their 92 point Wine Spectator rated Russian River Chardonnay 2010.

O. Fournier - Another favourite - producing head-turning Malbecs from Argentina especially Alpha Crux 2008 at $50!  The B Crux bled is also great.

Silver Oak Cellars - their Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 is very big and very smooth too - retails at $135 unfortunately but oh so good!  Try their Alexander Valley cabernet and Napa merlot too. 

Fontodi - another great winery I've had the pleasure of visiting in Panzano, Tuscany, this is one of the consistently highly-scored producers.  Their 2008 Chianti Classico is a real value at $34 for this quality - scoring 90 points at the Wine Spectator for the second year in a row. Their bigger Vigna del Sorbo Chianti Classico 2009 at $70 is a collector's wine and their $60 Pinot Nero [Pinot Noir] is the best of that varietal I've ever had from Italy!

There are only about 700 more wines to taste - I'll try to add a few more if I can later today but regardless, follow me on Twitter @BillTieleman and watch tonight for some more top picks there!


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vancouver International Wine Festival is on - see you there!

Christopher Gaze, founder of Bard on the Beach, and Harry Hertscheg, executive director of the Vancouver International Wine Festival, launch the 2013 event
The Vancouver International Wine Festival is on - and what a great event it is!

Even better - there are still tickets left if you want to attend - tonight, Friday or Saturday.

I will be at Thursday night's major wine tasting event and will give you some don't-miss suggestions for your visit to the Festival if you are attending Friday or Saturday night's tastings, which run from 7 to 10 p.m.

The tasting is huge -  It features 175 wineries from 15 countries pouring 1,850 wines at 55 events to a projected 25,000 admissions!

Follow me on Twitter - @BillTieleman - for instant updates or look for me if you are there tonight or Saturday night - and check back her at The Wine Barbarian for a list of my favourites!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Even more Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines available in BC Liquor Stores!

Get them while you still can - some fabulous, top rated wines still languishing on BC Liquor Store shelves - won't last long with Vancouver International Wine Festival on!

The Wine Spectator's most eagerly awaited edition is the one where it lists the Top 100 Wines of each year - and those wines immediately disappear from the shelves of wine shops all around the world.

But not in British Columbia you say?  Apparently not.  

But with the fabulous Vancouver International Wine Festival already now underway - tickets for many tastings still available by the way - including the major tastings Thursday Friday and Saturday nights - that may soon change.  Some of these great wines are going to be showcased there. 

I grabbed several choice wines from the 2012 Top 100 list since it came out in November of last year - but amazingly, quite a few are still available - and some of them at very reasonable prices.

I am a big fan of all New Zealand wines - and their Sauvignon Blancs are stupendous.  So why is there any Astrolabe 2011 Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, NZ left in BC?

Beats me - it's a 91 point wine, it's Number 59 on the list and it costs just $23.99 in BC Liquor Stores - where there are 645 bottles left - including 154 in Vancouver alone!

The Wine Spectator says - and I agree - that the Astrolabe this "bright, juicy white delivers succulent notes of passion fruit, honeydew melon, Key lime and Asian pear".

Also still available is the superb Alvaro Palacios Petalos 2010 from the Bierzo region of Spain - scored at 91 points, ranked Number 57 of the Top 100 and for sale in BC at $29.99, there are still 180 bottles left - all in Metro Vancouver.

I have enjoyed this wine as well - simply delicious!  Made from Mencia grapes, it is complex and layered.  The Wine Spectator says it has plush black cherry, liquorice, mineral and smoke flavours.  I say - go buy some right now!

And make sure to check The Wine Barbarian as the week goes by for top wines to taste at the Vancouver International Wine Festival - or just to buy.

Looking forward to the deep research!


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Only in BC you say? Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2012 wines readily available!

Each year The Wine Spectator magazine posts its Top 100 Wines of the Year - and in most jurisdictions, those bottles immediately go on the endangered species list and disappear shortly thereafter.

In the wine jungle, the successful hunters are those who strike quickly and silently.

And count The Wine Barbarian as one of those!

Fortunately, I'm also willing to share - knowledge that is, not my wine!

BC government Liquor Stores currently have quite a few of the Top 100 Wines still available.  You may have to travel a little further and hunt a little more diligently than a simple visit to your local store, but you will be amply rewarded for your efforts.  And you may find some of them in BC private wine stores as well.

I have kindly linked each wine title below to its BC Liquor Store URL - click on it and you can find where these bottles are stashed anywhere in BC.  

But remember that it's always wise to call in advance because the website for consumers like us is about 48 hours behind reality - store consultants can tell you better what the situation is.

The Top 100 are NOT either the highest scoring or the highest priced wines tasted in 2012 by the Wine Spectator, by the way - they are chosen by editors based on this criteria:  

"In 2012, our list was selected from more than 17,000 new releases our editors rated in our independent blind tastings. More than 5,500 of these wines earned outstanding or classic ratings (90 points or higher on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale). 
We narrowed the list down based on four criteria: quality (represented by score); value (reflected by release price); availability (measured by cases made or imported); and what we call the “X-factor”–the excitement generated by a rising-star producer, a benchmark wine or a significant milestone for a wine region. But no equation determines the final selections: These choices reflect our editors’ judgment and passion about the wines we tasted."

Here are some of the key Top 100 Wines currently available in BC:

#16 - 96 points - Le Vieux Donjon - Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2010 - France

BC price: $59.94  [US price $66]  

Only 109 bottle left in the province but that's a miracle for a 96 point wine at that price! The Spectator talks about juniper, bay leaf, black current, blackberry and roasted plum flavours in a wine drinking from 2015 to 2030.

#30 - 92 points - Schild Estate Barossa Shiraz 2010 - Australia 

BC Price $29.99 [US price $20]

There are 1602 bottles listed available on the BC Liquor Stores website but in late December they had almost disappeared, so don't delay!

This is a bargain wine even if the last great vintage in 2008 only cost $20 and was also a Top 100 pick.  It's a big Barossa shiraz - what more do you need to know?  The screwtop makes it even harder to resist immediate drinking - and it is highly quaffable already - but should last nicely till 2018.

#87 - 90 points - Concha y Toro - Marques de Casa Concha Limari Valley Chardonnay - Chile

BC price - $19.99 [US price $18]

A fabulous white that's always on my personal Top 100 wine list because it is reasonably priced and super tasty every vintage - but it's also on the Spectator list!

They say it has "pineapple, citrus and spice notes...juicy acidity and creamy texture" - I say open this chardonnay tonight and then go buy lots more!

So that's all for now but there are still more Top 100 Wine Spectator 2012 wines in BC Liquor stores - stay tuned to The Wine Barbarian for another posting in the near future - after I've grabbed my share first!