Wine category: RED

Anciano Gran Reserva Tempranillo Spain 2008

One of the joys of the Vancouver International Wine Festival is that it’s the gift that keeps on giving. This Tempranillo from Anciano is a perfect example. I couldn’t wait to share this discovery on social media and now on my website. Partly because it’s damn tasty but just as importantly is the remarkably low price. I was so impressed with this elegant wine that won me over with the first sip. The aroma is a subtle melange of red fruit…notably raspberry. I tasted black cherries and vanilla along with a touch of balsamic. A medium bodied wine that’s lovely on its own but I paired it with a grilled ribeye steak and know it’ll be a BBQ staple.

Price: $13.49 (plus tax)
Available: B.C. Liquor stores

Narrative Cabernet Franc B.C.

Hundreds of wines were poured at the Vancouver International Wine Festival which meant your palate gave out long before the wine ran out. One of my favourites was this Cab Franc. 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

I’m so glad the Vancouver International Wine Festival turned the spotlight on Spain and Portugal this year. 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 particularly after the Vancouver International Wine Festival where Spain was 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

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

Hester Creek Merlot 2015 B.C.

Fall and winter should be renamed the “comfort food” season. So if stews and similar dishes are in need of a “comfort” wine grab this B.C. beauty. Hester Creek is doing a superb job with their red wines, no matter the price point. The Merlot is a personal favourite for me and not just because it’s so well priced. The nose and flavour is loaded with dark fruit. From the first sip you’ll get a rich and savoury Merlot that’s easy drinking to the last drop. I’d put this wine up against more expensive Merlots and I’m confident it would hold its own. Don’t hesitate to add this to your holiday wine list.

Price: $17.35 (plus tax)
Available: Sutton Place Wine Merchant on Burrard street
Price: $18.99 (plus tax)
Available: Swirl Wines in Yaletown and Village VQA Wines in Kitsilano