Nacho Average Pub Fare.. Review: Monte Creek Ranch Hands Up Red

I set out on upon a quest this week. A quest to find a nacho wine.

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There have been nobler quests, I know. Whatever. This was my quest. And really, it’s a pretty good quest when you think about it.

I have tried hard to like beer but I am just not that girl. Never will a country song be written about lil’ ol’ me. I am just not that into beer. But, if you go to almost every nacho and chicken wing pub in Kamloops and you don’t want beer with your dinner, you are going to enter a very unfamiliar place. I call it… Alberta.

You see, we are so spoiled. We live in the heart of Canadian wine country and we don’t even know how good we have it. We have so much good wine at our fingertips. Our liquor stores and cold beer and wine stores are packed with hundreds of choices. We take wine camping and to **cough ** Music in the Park **cough** and have a wine list a mile long at most restaurants. Most people I know can order a decent wine with dinner and every restaurant trains their staff on their wine selections.

Then you go to a pub.

It can be enough to give you PTSD. You get red or white if it’s really bad. You get red, white and a list of bottles they are out of if they have thrown in some effort. See, it’s like we enter Alberta. I went to a cold beer and wine store outside of Edmonton a few years ago and they had, I kid you not, twelve wines to choose from. I asked where they keep the Chilean wine and the clerk spit her straw out at me. Shocker!

That’s a long way to tell you I really wanted a go-to, easily ordered wine to have with pub food. And I found it.

Monte Creek 2016 Hands Up Red is a great wine for nachos, wings or other salty fair you find at a pub or restaurant. And, because our local eateries are great about supporting our local wineries, it’s pretty accessible, too!

Hands-Up-Red

Made up of mostly merlot grapes, it’s got good structure, body and weight. It feels heavy and solid in your mouth. It’s no light sipper. It’s flavourful and bursting with bold fruit. Cherry, smoke, plum… it’s all here. It’s also nice and dry. It’s dark and sexy in colour. It’s smells heady and oaky. You could easily sip this wine on it’s own around a campfire, of course, but it can stand up to salty and spicy food as well.

All in all, this is a fantastic value at $16.99 a bottle. I suspect, if you buy six of these, and open one a year for the next few years, you’d be pleased with how it ages and deepens, too. We don’t have a lot of wine worth cellaring here but this one would be worth trying.

And, if you are looking for a good red table wine for your wedding this Summer, this would fit the bill. It will go well with your buffet, be nice just before dinner and isn’t drier or heavier than most inexperienced wine drinkers would enjoy.

So, I have fulfilled my quest. From this day forward, let it be known that the 2016 Monte Creek Hands Up Red is your go-to pub wine, Kamloops. You are welcome.

Woman-knight

 

Wine: Monte Creek 2016 Ranch Hand Red

Price: $17

Where to purchase: Save On Foods, Winery, most Liquor Stores in Kamloops

Score: 5/6

Takeaways: Good weight, dry, bold flavour, very light oak

 

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Review – Larch Hills Marechal Foch

Oh, this wine…

When I review a wine I like to try it at least twice before I make a decision.

So, this bottle got cracked with dinner last night, then, so I could really be sure I was right about it, I poured half a glass to have with lunch. Working from home is so rough.

This particular red, the 2015 Reserve Marechal Foch from Larch Hills Winery, scored big last night.

It was beautiful from the second we poured it. The deep, dark, inky colour of this wine is captivating. Rich and vibrant, it’s a harvest season wine for sure. It is a warm purple with hints of burgundy. How delicious does that sound?

It smells divine. You can tell this wine is chock full of fruit just by smelling it. Black, smokey, full bodied and ripe fruits are just a sip away.

For our roast beef dinner with lots of thick, dark gravy this wine was a great match. We found it full and dense. The flavour is almost concentrated. It’s chewy and up front. It’s full of rich, dark fruits and just a hint of smokey oak. They don’t let on much about their process but these are old-vine grapes and that shows in the tasting.

I make notes on the bottles of all the wines I buy, because I have a terrible memory and need help if I don’t drink the wine within a week. On this bottle I wrote Kevin (who likes heavier, oakier wines than me) beef, dinner and smooth. I also wrote $15.49. That’s a crazy cheap price for a reserve bottle.

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Now, on to today. This wine showed a few weaknesses when left to stand on it’s own. First, it’s a little on the sweet side. We thought that last night as well but it had enough flavour to get along well with our roast beef so we overlooked it. But it is a little sweet to pair with just anything. It’s also a quick wine. By that I mean it’s fruity up front, in the middle and at the end and there is nothing else in between. For a new wine it is quite smooth. But it lacks the complexity that would make you slowly sip it and savour your experience. It has a hint of a dry finish. That’s probably not the right wording… but you do get a little oak at the end. If I had to sum up this wine in one word I would say ‘concentrated’ would do it nicely.

So, who is this wine for? Do you like Bodacious? Buy this. It’s way better. Do you like red wines that are fruity but don’t leave your tongue fuzzy? Buy this wine. Do you want to buy a good value wine and hang on to it a bit to see if it gets better? Buy this wine. I bet this bottle would have been very different if I had waited a year to open it. Do you like Gamay Noir? Buy this wine.

It’s still a great deal at $15.49 and would be great to hang on to. And it’s not just for fall and winter. I think it would be great with a cheese plate. Just be prepared for a sweeter wine and buy yourself some strong cheese.

Summary – 4.5/6 Strong, fruity and bold. Good value and may improve a lot with age.

Warning – if it’s the fruitiness you are after, don’t age it to long. That’s the first thing to go when you sit on a wine.

 

halloween wine for one

So, what to get this Halloween?

If you are going to a party this weekend and you want to bring wine, you better do a good job picking a theme wine. There are a lot of choices for Halloween.

I saw a great one called The Raven, but it was a 01 on the sweetness scale, so it wouldn’t do.

There are lots of creepy labels and spooky pictures on wine, but that is a little cliche.

So, what do you drink when you want to creep yourself out? What do you serve your guests if you want them to be a little nervous about their safety on all hallows eve?

I say, you scare them with a movie reference…

Nothing scares the shit out of me like Silence of the lambs.

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Look at that guy! Have you watched the movie in the last 10 years? If not, watch it again. You have forgotten how terribly scary it is. So, in honour of Hannibal Lecter, I say you serve your guests a nice Chianti to go with your dinner. If you end up eating someone’s liver later then you are all set.

So, since I have no luck with Chianti, I decided to throw caution to the wind and pick at random. I came up with this…

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And, surprisingly, it’s better than liver!

To really enjoy your Chianti there are a few things you can do to enhance it.

  • Plan to eat dinner while you drink it
  • Decant it
  • Share it

This wasn’t a bottle to covet. (seriously, that was awesome) You will probably enjoy a glass then be ready to move on to another wine. I drank it over two days. The second day it was better. I decant wine by leaving it open… health Canada be damned!

This dry wine is nice and flavourful. It is medium-bodied and smooth. It’s actually really smooth considering it was under $14. Perhaps it’s so smooth because the grapes use lots of lotion? (bam! another one)

This is your uncle’s wine. It’s classic old world fare and a great example of Chianti for the new world drinker.

Regardless, this is my top pick for Halloween 2016! Enjoy!

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review – black cellar cab sav temp

Oh Em Gee… try to find this freaking wine and you will need a drink by the time you are done.

First of all, It’s Peller Estates… but not. It’s bottled in Kelowna, but they don’t have it on their website. You can only buy it at the liquor store but you can barely find it! Crazy!

Thank God it is great! Otherwise, my Uncle Larry, who recommended I seek it out and give it a go, would have been in for a talking to.

This is a flavourful, light-bodied red wine with lots of punch and little sweet. Hooray! I love that it was full of flavour without being a 01 on the sweetness scale! It boast this claim on the bottle and it delivered perfectly.

It’s nice and smooth and has just the right hint of that old vine depth that a Spanish grape like the tempranillo brings with it. I love the mix of that old country depth and dryness, coupled with our new world boldness and fruity forward notes.

This wine is bottled here in BC but made with grapes from all over. Peller Estates is originally an Ontario Winery, with off shoots on both Canadian Coasts. I will admit I haven’t given them a fair shake. This wine will have me exploring more of their offerings for sure.

We just drank this bottle and didn’t really pair it with food, but I can’t think of a single typical BC Summer dinner that I wouldn’t add this bottle on to for good measure. And, at under $15 a bottle it has become an immediate staple in our house!

Good call, Uncle Larry!

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best dad’s day wines for 2016

So, you are thinking that maybe your dear old Dad would like some wine for Father’s Day? Well, it beats a fish tie every day of the week, so good for you!

Even if your Dad has a favorite wine it may be better to give him something a little extra special this year. Here are two wines I think are pretty cool and they are both from BC!

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This is a dessert wine from Lang Vineyards in Naramata. It is the bomb! They actually make a red and a white version. Why is it so special? IT’S A MAPLE WINE!! As in, it has Canadian maple syrup in it! And I think that is pretty neat.

On top of being neat, it tastes great and is a real treat. Dessert wine is also fantastic because a little goes a long way. This one os particularly awesome because it rings in around the $20 mark. Buy all your Dads a bottle. Buy it for your uncles and grandpas, too!

Next pick?

 

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Monte Creek makes a new boxed wine, Giddy Up! It’s great! I like it better than their Hands Up Red, actually. It’s a great dinner wine and the box rings in around $33. This is also a wine that would go a long way. And it’s new and it’s local and it’s not the kind of wine that’s going to put anyone off. It’s a nice middle of the pack wine with lots of punch and not so heavy that you need to pair it carefully.

Any Dad would probably like to get their own little Giddy Up for Father’s Day! Who doesn’t need some extra Giddy Up, right?

I hope your Dad has a terrific day this Sunday! And if you are a Dad, or you are my Dad, sit back and relax and enjoy a glass of wine on your special day! You are a special guy!

 

review – not so fabulous ant

Mediocre French wine? Non! Say it is not so…

I bought this wine for our February Wine Club meeting. The theme was warm and caozy since we had a pajama party! And we brought back the spa girls for manicures, pedicures and other spa services that night. My niece is an was there with her friends so I bought this as an homage to my sheer awesomeness!

I am so much awesomer than this wine. Darn it. It’s not that there is anything wrong with it. It’s smooth, no bite, not too peppery, not too dry. But what it lacked in mistakes it didn’t make up for on the plus side. It was pretty flat. A light body with little depth and no discernible flavours.

Pinot Noir is not a grape known for it’s personality. But I’ve had much, much better ones than this. At about $14 you can do much better for you euro!

This is a fail.

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