Narrative Cabernet Franc B.C.

With more than 700 wines being poured at the Vancouver International Wine Festival your palate will give out long before the wine runs out. Make sure you don’t miss this Cab Franc because it’s a beauty. Winemaker Matt Dumayne has carved out a deserved reputation for the less is best style of making wine. By that I mean a pure representation of the vineyards where the grapes are grown. The result is an authentic, true taste of the Okanagan. You’ll enjoy flavours of blackberries and plums with subtle herbal notes. This is a savoury wine that needs decanting to release its full flavour. If you aren’t familiar with Cab Franc let Narrative be your introduction. A very well priced wine you can taste at the Okanagan Crush Pad booth at VanWineFest.
Price: $21.99 (plus tax)
Available: B.C. Liquor stores

Johnny Q Shiraz Australia

It’s always fun to happen upon a wine that is such a terrific buy you want to pull an Oprah. You get a bottle, you get a bottle and so on and so on. Johnny Q has a richly deserved following because this is so much wine for such a good price. It touches all the right buttons for an everyday tipple. Loaded with fresh fruit along with liquorice and spice in a soft, long finish….what’s not to like? It’s a lovely sipper on its own and a remarkably food friendly with everything from burgers to pizza, charcuterie to beef kabobs. I bet you can’t say no to a second glass.

Price: $13.95 (plus tax)
Available: Sutton Place Wine Merchant on Burrard street
Price: $16.49 (plus tax)
Available: Everything Wine in North Vancouver, South Vancouver, South Surrey and Langley
Price: $17.30 (plus tax)
Available: Marquis Wine Cellars on Davie Street

Torres Grand Coronas Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Spain 2013

When the 2018 Vancouver International Wine Festival opens at the end of the month I’ll be swirling and sipping Spain and Portugal. The two featured countries are delivering some fantastic wine at a great price. This Torres Cab is a prime example. After decanting the wine for about an hour I could already get a hint of what’s to come from the aroma. This is a bright, sunny glass of Spain. Flavours of blackberries and liquorice with some smoke and spice to add to the taste. This is a lush, balanced Cab that’s great with charcuterie or rack of lamb. We need more Espana in my opinion!

Price: $19.99 (plus tax)
Available: B.C. Liquor stores

Sarmentero Tempranillo Spain 2015

I review Spanish wines regularly because they offer a lot of bang for the buck. So I’m more than a little excited to share this review ahead of the Vancouver International Wine Festival where Spain is a featured country. This Tempranillo is a beauty. There’s plenty of fruit and spice in the aroma along with vanilla. The flavour is rich and juicy, soft and smooth and medium bodied. A great wine on its own but really food friendly too for everything from charcuterie to burgers. If you haven’t tried Spanish wine here’s a great introduction to an old world producer with a new world sensitivity.

Price: $21.99 (plus tax)
Available: B.C. Liquor stores

Road 13 Honest John’s Red 2016

I think of this Road 13 red blend as an old friend. We’ve known each other for more than a decade and it’s always a pleasure to open a bottle. There’s a half dozen grapes used in the blend but it’s Merlot and Gamay that provide its signature flavour that’s so evocative of the southern Okanagan. It reminds me of a hot summer day with juicy fruit, some spice and black pepper. A lovely wine that’s rich and soft and pairs well with so many dishes. In winter it’s my go to for savoury stews and in the summer for any grilled meats. For the price you’d be hard pressed to find a better value in B.C. reds.

Price: $19.99 (plus tax)
Available: B.C. Liquor stores and Everything Wine in North Vancouver. South Vancouver, South Surrey and Langley.
Price: $22.99 (plus tax)
Available: Swirl Wines in Yaletown and Village VQA Wines in Kitsilano

Quails’ Gate Merlot 2015 B.C.

Patience is a virtue. Or good things come for those who wait. That sums up my impression of this Merlot. I first tasted it at a Quails’ Gate release in the spring. Initially I felt there was something missing. Six months later I tried it again and colour me impressed! It was worth the wait. An additional six months in the bottle made all the difference. It’s already been aged for 18 months in French oak and the result is impressive. It begins with a heady aroma of cherries, plums and spice. The flavour is deep, rich and impressive. Classic B.C. Merlot with a lovely finish that demands a second glass. I’m pouring this with Christmas dinner. Make sure you open it well before serving or even better decant this red to release all of its deliciousness.

Price: $25.17 (plus tax)
Available: Sutton Place Wine Cellar on Burrard street
Price: $25.99 (plus tax)
Available: B.C. Liquor stores
Price: $26.99 (plus tax)
Available: Everything Wine in North Vancouver, South Vancouver and South Surrey

Haywire Pinot Gris 2016 B.C.

Okanagan Crush Pad is the home of Haywire and Narrative wines and they pride themselves on a fresh, juicy style. That’s evident in their white label Pinot Gris. This has been a good, reliable wine friend for the last five years. B.C. is home to some delicious Pinot Gris and Haywire is arguably at the top of the list. The wine has a heady citrus aroma which carries through the long, lingering finish. Good acidity offers a beautiful balance that’s almost lip smacking. I’ve paired this white with sushi, grilled salmon and soft cheese. In fact you’ll be hard pressed to find a more food friendly wine. If you want an authentic B.C. wine count on Haywire to deliver the goods.

Price: $19.99 (plus tax)
Available: Select B.C. Liquor stores
Price: $21.65 (plus tax)
Available: Marquis Wine Cellars on Davie street
Price: $21.99 (plus tax)
Available: Swirl Wines in Yaletown

Desert Hills Cactus Red 2012 B.C.

Welcome to December which could easily be called Winember for the sure volume we’ll enjoy this month. It can also be hard on your wine budget at a time when money is already tight. So I’ve picked this B.C. red as your house wine for the holiday season. This is an absolute steal at
around $20.00. Plus Cactus Red is a remarkably food friendly wine that’ll pair with everything from a cheese tray to your Christmas dinner.
I’ve been a fan of Desert Hills wines from my first taste of their terrific Gamay. Good luck trying to find that wine. It’s sold out just about everywhere.The good news is that Cactus has a healthy dollop of Gamay in this red blend. Merlot is the dominant grape at 40% along with equal amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Gamay. Loads of black fruit on the nose and in the glass along with hints of spice. This is an easy drinking and palate pleasing red. Make sure you give this 2012 vintage some air to fully enjoy all it has to offer.

Price: $18.90 (plus tax)
Available: Swirl Wines in Yaletown and Village VQA Wines in Kitsilano

Columbia Crest Merlot 2014 Washington

I love when the aroma of a wine is a roadmap to what you’re about to taste. This Merlot from Washington state does that in spades. My nose picked up the scent of plums and black cherries wafting out of the decanter. Yes, this full flavoured red needs air to give you all that you paid for and not a penny less! Once I started sipping, the taste of black fruit was exactly what I expected along with spice and chocolate. The medium bodied red is über smooth with a good finish. It was much more complex than I expected given the price. I’d pair this Merlot with a hearty beef stew.

Price: $17.49 (plus tax)
Available: B.C. Liquor stores

Fort Berens Chardonnay 2016 B.C.

There’s no better way to cast off the gloom of fall and winter in Vancouver than to open a wine that reminds you of summer. Fort Berens captures the floral aromas of peach and apple trees in bloom and it jumps out of the bottle. Although this Chard spent time in oak it doesn’t overwhelm the flavour, it enhances it. Another example of the wine making talent evident at Fort Berens. Lots of tropical and B.C. fruit to taste…from pineapple to peaches. There’s a fresh, creamy style that makes this wine very food friendly. I paired it with grilled pork but salmon would also be a good match.

Price: $21.99 (taxes in)
Available: Village VQA Wines in Kitsilano
Price: $21.99 (plus tax)
Available: Swirl Wines in Yaletown
Price: $25.15 (plus tax)
Available: Marquis Wine Cellars on Davie street