I love good quality white wine. This week I came across one of my favorite grapes in a discounted wine at Fort and Foul Bay Liquor Store in Victoria. The wine is called Singing Gruner Veltliner, (price reduced to 17.00).
This wine is medium to full bodied with a very nice long zippy finish. Gruner Veltliner is the most famous grape of Austria. This one is made by Laurenz Moser and his daughter Sophie, hence the label. They call it Singing because of that nice finish that seems to sing in your mouth. I love this photo of the two of them in their vineyard.
What really struck me about this wine is its kind of laid back informality in the label and the name. The first time I was truly introduced to the beautiful Gruner Veltliner grape it was in quite a different format. One that to me signified the difference between the old world style of doing business and how business is usually conducted on the west coast of Canada.
A gentleman, (there is really no other word for him), came into Zambri’s to sell me wine. This is not an unusual occurrence as I am the Sommelier there. What was unusual was his appearance. He was short of stature yet very formally dressed in a suit including shirt, vest and coat. He was Austrian with a pronounced accent. Although he did not wear a Tyrolean hat, one would not have looked out of place on him,
He introduced himself very formally and politely asked if he could pour me a taste of his wine. The day was very hot and during the course of the tasting he began to perspire slightly. He then asked my permission for him to remove his jacket. Asked my permission!
Even though I usually only carry Italian wines I did bring his beautiful wines on my list for a time. The wines were outstanding but what really struck me were his manners. Old world style that shines through in wine that is naturally beautiful without showiness. Wine that doesn’t leap out of the glass at you but rather allows you to savor it slowly. Wine that improves and changes over time as you get to know it. Much like how relationships should progress. In business and elsewhere.
As I was scanning the shelves at Cascadia Liquor Store in Victoria B.C., my eye was caught by this wine. My wife loves French Wines and I am always on the lookout for good value wines. At $16.00 including tax this seemed like a very good price. Not only that, but this wine is in their Best Buys section where you can get 5% off if you buy a case. (This is the Cascadia store in Uptown Mall, I am not sure if the same applies at all the stores.)
The wine is called Terre de Neptune and the grape in it is Pipoul. It is from the Languedoc region in the south of France. and the AOC is called Picpoul de Pinet. We tried this wine as an aperitif and with our first course which was frutti di mare featuring clams, mussels, shrimp and octopus with farro grain which was an antipasti that I had taken home from Zambris, ( the restaurant where I work as a Sommelier). It was perfect!. When steely cold right out of the fridge it was very refreshing but as it began to warm up it became more velvety and aromatic. I think it could work really well with spicy food as well.I realized as I picked this wine up, that the reason it caught my eye is because Picpoul was one of the grapes I was tested on when I took my Sommelier exam many years ago. I have a funny feeling that I actually remember this name because I failed to get it right on the exam. As a relatively obscure grape it just did not stay in my memory. Now why do we more often remember our mistakes than our successes? I couldn’t tell you the name of the grapes that I did remember. Well, that is another blog.
Last week I described an incredible value wine from Di Majo Norante in Molise called Contado Aglianico. This wine costs 24.99 but is well worth it as it is a Tre Bichierri wine which is the highest Italian Wine Award. Much to my surprise I stumbled across another wine from the same producer which had dropped in price from 21.99 to 13.99! It is called Ramitello and it is a blend of Montepulciano and Aglianico. I have had this wine on my list before and felt it was incredible value. lt is rich and spicy with just enough structure to make it interesting. While it is not the blockbuster wine that the Contado is, it is a great wine to drink everyday with dinner. You can bet I am! Just one cautionary note. This is the price I paid at Fort St. LDB in Victoria. It is still listed as 21.99 on the website so this price is likely temporary.
The best value wines are not always the least expensive. But price is also no guarantee of quality. As with anything it is based on what the market or the perceived market will pay. When it comes to wine, you and I are the market, and we need to show the powers that be that we can make good choices about value. It has long been my goal at Zambri’s and else where to de-mystify the world of Italian Wine so that we can take advantage of some of the great deals out there.
My wine tip this week is about a great wine called Contado Aglianico. At 24.99 per bottle it is not as inexpensive as the wine I recommended last week but it is exceptional value and I will tell you why. There is a wine rating system in Italy which rates wines as uno, due or tre bichierri. (This translates as one, two or three glasses). Tre Bichierri is the highest Italian wine award.
The 2009 vintage of the Contado Aglianico from Di Majo Norante has achieved Tre Bichierri. So this makes the wine cost of $24.99 an incredible deal. If this wine was from a more well known producer and region it could easily cost ten times that much. The Contado is produced by Di Majo Norante in a region called Molise in the Central South of Italy. The wine is made from 100% Aglianico which is a powerhouse grape grown mainly in the south of Italy.
This is a wine to drink today, (I recommend decanting to soften the tannins), but could easily be aged for ten or more years. As with my previous posts, this wine is not available on the shelves locally as far as I have seen. So the only way to purchase it is by the case. You can order it from any government liquor store. The CSPC code for this one is 535732. Take advantage of it now as you never know how long these wines will stay in the system.
Don’t ever go to Europe if you don’t want to deeply resent the price we pay in Canada for European wines. I work as a Sommelier for Zambri’s restaurant and I have a passion for Italian wines. I make it my mission to source out the best value I can find in a market where prices are inflated and taxes are so high. In the process, of course, I find good wines that I can take home for dinner. This week I have two wines for you, a white and a red from Poderi dal Nespoli a good producer from the Italian wine region of Emilia Romagna. Many of you may have heard of this region as it is considered to the the food basket of Italy, but it is not as well known for its wines.
My house wines right now are called Nespolino. The white is a blend of trebbiano and chardonnay, medium bodied and a great food wine, especially with spicier food. The red is a blend of sangiovese and merlot. Also medium bodied but with a pleasant fullness that is nice both with food and sipping after dinner. At $10.25 per bottle these are the best deal around. But here is the catch. You will not find them on the shelf anywhere at this price. At private wine stores you might find them prices at around $14.00 which is still pretty good. However, I order them by the case from the BCLDB and that is how to get the $10.25 price. You need to know the SKU which is 791558 for the white and 520833 for he red. You can also order these at any government liquor store in B.C. My final tip? Order fast as big changes are coming on April 1 that could result in price increases across the board.