Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mission Hill Oculus is back on Sale!

They made it better than ever, and we knocked the price down!

This year's edition of Mission Hill's flagship Bordeaux blend contains 42% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cab Franc and 10% Petit Verdot; all hand-harvested and sorted, and aged in 100% French oak for 13 months. This is the best Oculus yet, and it's tasting beautifully already!

But wait, there's still more! Until Christmas, we're taking the price down more than $6 below what the BC Liquor Stores will be charging you. So, get your Christmas shopping done early---especially for those special friends who have a history of sharing their bounty around!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Is this the finest chardonnay ever produced in BC?

Meyer Family Vineyards makes a serious grab for the hearts and palates of BC wine-drinkers with its 2006 Tribute Series Chardonnay! (They've got a nice website, so if you want to know more than you ever thought you wanted to know about them, by all means pay them a visit!) But all you need to know from me is that I was blown away by this (very Burgundian) effort from JAK Meyer and Janice Stevens up on the Naramata Bench. They made 550 cases (1030 6-packs, actually) of this offering, and we've brought in as many as we could get. At just north of $30, it's a bargain as well!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Road 13: New signposts along a great old trail

Along with having one of the best websites of any winery I've ever seen, Pam and Mick Luckhurst and winemaker Michael Bartier of Road 13 Vineyards have raised the quality bar for BC wines as well! Pam and Nick bought the Golden Mile Winery in 2003, gave the name back to the region, and introduced Road 13 wines to the world. We were all knocked flat by their 2007 Chenin Blanc!
For a moment we'll let them be the ones to talk about it:
"The vines producing these Golden Mile grapes are a sight to behold – 40-year-old gnarled, thick, beautiful trunks that continue to produce big, perfect clusters of botrytis infected Chenin. The grapes were picked with relatively high acidity this vintage, destemmed, and crushed to the press with a small amount of skin contact. Fermentation was conducted on the cool side and arrested at an off-dry state to balance the acidity. A small amount of the blend (15%) was allowed to ferment in new tight grain French barrels and was racked from these barrels immediately following completion of fermentation – 3 weeks total barrel time for this portion. Some Sauvignon Blanc has been blended into this wine, bringing the contrast of very ripe pineapple aromas."
I can't add anything more to that---it's yummy stuff, and we're stocking as much of it as we can, for just north of $20! Stay tuned for more winners from Road 13 in the coming weeks and months!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Coming soon...No! Here Now at a Spinnakers store near you!

In our relentless quest to bring you a peerless combination of brilliant quality wines at thoroughly modest prices, our fearless product consultants have come up with four new wines we're convinced are drop-dead winners! Prices will all hover in the vicinity of $25 or less.
  • Jaboulet-Vercherre Bourgogne Rouge 2005 2005 may have been a terrific year in the Cote dOr, but this was ridiculous: a basic Burgundy for about $25 that was this good? None of us had ever tasted anything like it: Classic Burgundy nose, and fruit as silky-smooth as a bucketful of kittens. Better yet, it's still improving in the bottle---we tasted this in the morning and finished it off at dinner, where it was even better! This is a bargain that has the potential to keep on delighting you for years!
  • 2005 Chateau Haut Vigneau Cotes de Blaye Another excellent modestly-priced Bordeaux from 2005, where a miracle vintage has proven kindest to the budget-minded consumer: if the Latours and Moutons are fetching record prices, the petit chateaux like this one have never made better wine---and they're all fighting for a spot in your cellar, so prices have never looked so affordable. This example 85% Merlot, with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and another 5% Cabernet Franc; it has a wonderful, earthy nose with plenty of tannic bite on the palate---very seductive now, but with the promise of even better to come, if you can only keep your mitts off it long enough!
  • "Manior de la Tete Rouge" Bagatelle 100% Cabernet Franc from vigneron Guillaume Reynouard, working in the Saumur AOC: Dark, intense---maybe the most macho Cab Franc you've ever had at this price!
  • Pica Broca "La Sauvageonne" Terrasses du Larzac 2005 Another wonderful Syrah-Grenache-Cinsault combination from the Coteaux du Languedoc, this has an earthy nose that suggests some Mourvedre was in the mix as well; but since that's a variety not listed on the label, we'll just have to assume that it comes from expert winemaking and a nice bit of terroir.
Case upon case of all of the above are now here at both Spinnakers Spirit Merchants' locations!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Week in Alcohol

The 'she could end up rotting in Hell' part was taken out by his Firefox grammar-checker A Paris judge has filed charges against critic Robert Parker for defamation of his former assistant, Hannah Agostini, author of Robert Parker: Anatomy of a Myth. "The charges were filed Friday against Parker for writing on his Internet site that Agostini 'could end up stagnating in prison,' and for misrepresenting the penalties that she faces, officials said.... The critic declined comment about the case. He was fined €2,000 ($2,820) by a Paris court in March for violating Agostini's presumption of innocence."

As a sobriety test, you just have to type out "Super Saver Shipping" without slurring your words Amazon.com announced that they would soon be selling wine online

The return address on the rice bags to the Lepage factory in Mianzhu, China should have been a bit of a giveaway Japan's Sake supply has been compromised by tainted rice. "Shipments of pesticide-ridden, rotting rice, intended for use in glue factories, have ended up in the human food chain, principally as ingredients for brewing the national tipple. In the past week more than a million bottles of shochu and saké - drinks made from rice - have been recalled over safety fears."

Their "drink beer and be impotent" campaign didn't seem to work too well The Brewers association of Canada announced that over the next five years it would be donating $1 million to the study of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in Canada

...but especially when somebody's applying for a job as a T.T.C. executive The Toronto Transit Commission announced that it would soon be testing some workers for alcohol and drugs. The report "recommends that employees in 'safety sensitive' jobs like vehicle operators or track workers, their supervisors, and members of the TTC executive be subject to six stages of drug and alcohol testing: when applying for a job, when there is 'reasonable' suspicion of impairment, after an incident, after a violation, after treatment and randomly."

He then went on to observe that they had bad weather and produced crummy soccer players as well Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver complained that Britons didn't appreciate decent cuisine, and that "the only people who drink more than us are the Irish and the Scottish"

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Week in Alcohol

The only problem is that Yellow Tail sets off the alarm as well Scientists in France have designed a technique to detect counterfeit wines. "The results reveal the age of the bottle, and the wine within it. This data is then compared to results from bottles known to be authentic."

Your ticket there on Air Canada will cost you $1259.99 Macau---which has recently eclipsed Las Vegas as the gambling capital of the world---has eliminated it's 15% tax on wine "in a bid to become a dominant player in the regional fine wine market".

It was followed by a sex-free orgy at Tommy Lee's hotel room
Motley Crue played a concert at Toronto's Molson Amphitheater at which alcohol was banned.

However, the age of consent still stays at 10
France plans to raise it's drinking age to 18

It all happened when Becks and Posh left Real Madrid for Hollywood
The Foreign Office in London released figures showing that the number of British tourists in Spain arrested for being drunk grew by a third over the course of the previous year

Racing in front of Gordon Brown will do that to a guy In Britain, a dozen jockeys have been caught drinking and riding by random alcohol testing. "But as only a tiny fraction of those who ride each day are tested under the system, it is thought many more jockeys are still slipping through the net and riding under the influence of alcohol".

He actually thought he was riding in the fifth race at Epsom Russian high-jumper Ivan Ukhov was banned from a Swiss track meet for jumping while inebriated. Film at 11:00.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

They're Here! The 2005 Bordeaux!

We've got about 20 new, fabulous examples of the brilliant 2005 Bordeaux Vintage in the store right now! Prices range from an unbelievable $22.95 for a stellar, traditionally-styled Chateau Curton la Perriere Cuvee no. 5---which is fabulous now but still has years left in it; all the way to a mightyWine Spectator 92-pointer Chateau Pontet St Emilion at $75.58. Among the delights between those bookends: Chateau Fombrauge St Emilion Grand Cru; Chateau Bouscaut (a Graves Grand Cru); the brilliant Medoc C.B.E. Chateau Potensac; and a very few bottles of the stunning Chateau D'Aiguilhe---another WS 92-pointer!
Robert Parker has called 2005 the finext Bordeax vintage he's ever been around professionally for, and for once, I agree with him! The best news of all, though, is the wonderful quality of even the modestly-priced chateaux---everybody was making great wine this time, and those of us who have neither the thousands to pay for the first growths (or, indeed, the time to wait for them to mature) can play kid-in-a-candy-store without sopending the earth. The best year ever is also the best value ever as well? You read it here first!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Coming Soon: New 2005 Bordeaux!

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, God and the Panama Canal willing, Spiritmerchants will be getting in it's mammoth order of the 2005 Bordeaux's. (It's not quite as mammoth for the store as it originally was, with a few of the rarer specimens already spoken for by some of the Island's nicer restaurants, but this leaves more splendid deals for the rest of us.) Some Highlights? How about Chateau Cos D'Estournel's 2005 Goulée for a start? Robert Parker gave it a score of 91, sipping it from the barrel in 2006; and while we at Spinnakers by no means worship at Parker's pant-cuffs, well, even a blind pig finds a truffle now and then. In the same price-range, we'll be stocking a half-a-dozen cases of Chateau D'Aiguilhe (90-93 points from Parker in 2007), and altogether, we'll be bringing in almost a hundred cases of fifteen different chateaux, ranging in price from under $20 to whatever we finally come up with for the Cos D'Estournel that we spent a painful number of Euros for.

We'll have a complete list up on the blog and the store site when I get around to it, but in the meantime, here's the story renowned negociant and all-around Bordeaux sage Bill Blatch had to tell about the 2005 vintage in Bordeaux, pilfered from Jancis Robinson's website.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Great Bottles---Great Vintages

Larry Sez:
This utility is under construction---come back soon!

Coming to Spinnakers: 10 wines from Israel

Any day now, Spinnakers Spirit Merchants will have 10 new Israeli wines on its shelves. For some background, here's what Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate had to say about their latest (large) survey of Israeli wines:

Quietly, and without attracting much consumer attention, Israel has developed a wine industry that will confound preconceptions. A country whose wine industry once was largely considered insipid and mostly aimed at satisfying religious needs, today has dozens of wineries and a serious enough industry to have a few trophies. That, to be sure, does not mean Israeli wine production is new. Ignoring Biblical times, Israel has been producing wine since long before it was actually a State. Carmel, Israel's largest winery, was founded by Baron Edmond de Rothschild, the owner of Château Lafite-Rothschild. It traces its roots back to 1882 and it dominated Israel's wine scene for a century.

It is only recently, however, that more than an occasional Israeli wine has attracted serious interest. Even prestigious Golan Heights, an old stalwart familiar for its Yarden label in the USA, did not begin operating until 1983. Its founding was one of the important landmarks in modern Israeli wine history.

In the generation since Golan Heights’ debut, the industry has undergone massive change. While giant Carmel still has a dominating market share, and Carmel, Golan Heights and Barkan together control about 75% of the marketplace, much of the attention has shifted to Israel’s boutique wineries, a relatively new phenomenon. Tiny Margalit, for instance, calls itself Israel’s first boutique winery. Its debut vintage, the 1989 Cabernet Sauvignon, was just released in 1991. This shouldn’t be taken to mean that the larger wineries are bad, incidentally. Golan Heights is on every short list for “Best of Israel,” and Carmel is producing small production, high quality wines, too, both under its own label and Yatir.

The first issue in dealing with Israeli wines is invariably whether they are Kosher. The larger wineries generally produce Kosher wines, but most of the boutique wineries do not. Importer Haim Hassin of SolStars asserted, “There are close to 200 wineries in Israel and about 150 of them are non-kosher boutique wineries.” The total output for the boutique wineries is, however, fairly small. It is fair to say that if you are going to be drinking Israeli wines regularly, you will regularly encounter Kosher wines. The second and therefore more important issue is what significance a Kosher certification has for the non-Kosher consumer to whom such wines must be marketed if they are to be considered mainstream products. The simple answer: no one should avoid wines simply because they have Kosher certifications. Based on my tastings, in fact, Kosher wines are among the best in this report, such as those from Domaine du Castel and Yatir. It seems generally irrelevant....

The most important thing to understand is that those sickly sweet Passover wines Americans are used to have nothing to do with the types of wine Israel is bragging about these days. Now the mainstream wines are more likely to be bottlings of Bordeaux varietals, Chardonnay or Syrah that have typicity and will seem familiar to sophisticated consumers. They can be big and bold, as at Yatir, or graceful and old world, as at Domaine du Castel. You can put a bag over a Bustan Syrah and watch your friends argue about whether it is a Languedoc or Rhône. Israeli wine isn't an oddity any more, and it is certainly not just for those who keep Kosher.

A detailed list of the new Israeli wines coming to Spinnakers can be found here. An overview of them, from
their importer, International Cellars, can be found here. Notes from a preliminary Spinnakers tasting are available here. Perhaps not surprisingly, there have been some dissenting political voices; for an example of the rhetoric, go here. More news when the products actually hit the shelves.