After a week of wine in British Columbia there were some memorable winners....and, of course, some losers.
I'll start with the winners - and you'd be happy to see that, even in BC, you can get some half decent wine under $25. The best of the lot was the Vasse Felix, Adams Road Shiraz, 2004 from Margaret River in Western Australia. Simply a classy, tasty shiraz, lots of chewy fruit and oak but with an elegance not often seen in shiraz at this price point. I thought this one cost over $30 for sure but it clocks in at $24.99. Wow.
Next was a close tie. The biggest surprise was the Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz, 2006. This is no yellow tail joke wine - a crowd pleaser, yes, but plush, smooth and very sippable. Some would say it's over-oaked, but I love it. Wow. And $20 to boot.
The Carmen Reserve Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 I've found before in Ontario, and it's just as good in BC. Full bodied and more meaty than the Yellow Tail. Another "wow" wine, and worth the $22 (It cost $20 in Ontario, so not too much of a mark-up. More commonly the mark-ups are atrocious, such as the Liberty School cab, this is down to $16.95 in Ontario but comes in at $22 in BC).
Bringing up the rear for the best-of-the week wines is the Saint Cosme, Cotes du Rhone, 2006. Full bodied, with meat, leather and smoke with red cherry fruit. I rate it as a "good" wine, not as impressive as the previous three, but if you like old world style, this is right up there baby!
Now, the thankless task is to talk about the bottom of the barrel...stay away from these wines. The Don Miguel Gascon, Syrah, 2005 from Argentina is actually not that bad, but it is so over priced at $17 I don't recommend it. Tastes like a $9 French vin de pays, medium bodied, light spice, leathery background. Very average, an "OK" wine. The JP Chenet, Founders Reserve, Merlot-Cab, 2006 is from the Pays D'Oc, but is very new world in style - 14% alcohol, fruit driven (but the fruit is candy like - yuck), almost jammy. "OK", but why buy it? $13, so at least you don't waste too much money. Tied for last place is the Wolf Blass, Yellow Label, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006. Crap wine, I won't talk any more about it, the worst value at $18. Equally crappy but cheaper at $14 is the Simonsig, Cabernet Sauvignon - Shiraz, 2005 from Stellenbosch in South Africa. Fake candy tasting. Yuck. Crap wine.