A Few of My Favorite Drinks of 2015

2015 was a great year for drinking. I drank so much great stuff, it’s hard to remember it all.

Some of these things I enjoyed at home, some were sampled while on the road, and lots of them were tasted at events. To remember them, I have to comb through my blog posts, Facebook and Twitter, tasting sheets, notepads and my iPhone.

So as this year comes to a close, I’m taking a moment to reflect on a few of my favorite drinks, enjoyed for the first time.

Wines

Bottega Prosecco – Crisp, citrusy and refreshingly fruity, this elegant prosecco I tasted at an Italian Chamber of Commerce event is currently the best deal in bubbly in all of BC, I think. I’ve purchases at least six bottles since March. $17 CD

Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore 2004 – This eleven year old Italian Brut was better than most French champagne I’ve had lately. Made entirely from Chardonnay grapes, it had depth and richness while remaining fresh tasting. $63 USD

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Lightly Sparkling – New to BC, this mildly effervescent sparkler is zesty and bright with lime, gooseberry and pepper notes, and finishes clean and fresh. Delightful with crustaceons. $16 CD

Blue Grouse 2013 Pinot Gris, Vancouver Island. Picked up this bottle at the tasting room opening party and paired it with salmon, which was perfection. Lovely honeyed pears and lemon, spice and toffee notes, it has a creamy body that finishes juicy and clean.$20 CD

Desert Hills 2011 Zinfandel, Okanagan Valley – Starts with a floral nose with briary black fruit and spices. In the mouth it has candied and jammy blackberries and plums, with licorice and spice. The medium-length finishes juicy and clean with lingering spiciness and candied fruit. Almost Californian in style and truly excellent with turkey, yams, stir fry and chocolate cookie. 14.7% alcohol  $40 CD

Backyard Vineyards 2012 Reserve Syrah, Fraser ValleyDeep and full-throated plum and black fruit with long, earthy finish. $32 CD

Chaberton 2014 Reserve Siegerrebe, Fraser Valley – candied nose, tangerine and grapefruit, spicy and crisp in the mouth, zesty finish. I loved it and brought home a bottle. $16 CD

Township 7 Reserve Chardonnay 2013 – available only through the wine club and is a great reason to join –  big vanilla nose, baked apple on a creamy mouth, woody finish. $22 CD

Vin Perdu 2014 Gamay – pretty notes of cherry and raspberries, well balanced, elegant and intense. The most pinot noir-like gamay I’ve ever tried. $28 CD

Black Cloud 2013 Fleuvage Pinot Noir – The younger sibling of Altostratus, we paired this with Thanksgiving turkey and yams and the beautiful black cherry really shined, finishing with lusty notes of earth and spice. $25 CD

Hester Creek 2013 Syrah-Viognier – A new blend at Hester Creek, this has big ripe plum fruit nicely balanced by the viognier with an undertone of sweet oak and smoke. $25 CD

Kamloops wines – At Colours, the Fall BC tasting, I tried three of the four wineries that comprise the province’s most up-and-coming new region. The Harpers Trail, Monte Creek, and Privato Vineyards were all good and I plan to try more in 2016.

Dona Paula El Alto 2010 Parcel Selection Malbec – Giant red and black fruits jump from a massive, complex body. A deep thinker, this. $79 CD

2000 Graham’s Vintage Port – Amazingly full throttle fruit for a 14-year old port with a lush finish that lasts into enternity. Powerhouse. $124 CD

González Byass Noe V.O.R.S. Pedro Ximenez Oloroso – This Oloroso is french toast with melted butter, drenched in maple syrup with a cup of coffee. Like, your whole breakfast. The nose is white grape raisins with a most pleasant note of brine. The rotund body has intense notes of coffee and figs that’s super sweet but with a bitter edge, and complex as a Napa Cabernet – with 20.5% alcohol. $68 CD

Spirits

Bull Run Temperance Trader Bourbon – Distilleries are springing up everywhere and Portland is no exception. This bottle has vanilla and smokey notes with the sweet molasessy taste of a true bourbon.

The Dalmore King Alexander III – aged in six different types of wood, it has red fruit and flowers on the nose and citrus, vanilla, caramel and almonds on the palate with a sweet spicy finish. Otherworldly. $252 CD

Kealy’s Diamond Vodka – Diamond filtered by Mason Kealy in nearby Abbotsford, it’s super smooth, clean and elegant. And, gluten free! $35 CD

Dubh Glas Noteworthy Gin – Over Victoria Day weekend, we stumbled into this brand new distillery on the outskirts of Oliver and were delighted when owner and distiller Grant Stevely made us gin and tonics gave us a tour. Like most new distillers he’s making gin while his whisky ages. Noteworthy is fresh and citrusy, perfect for summer sipping.  $50 CD

Victoria Spirits Left Coast Hemp Vodka – Released in 2010, we finally found it at Eat! Vancouver. They say “Distilled with the finest Canadian-grown hemp seeds” which probably means Manitoban. Hemp’s trademark hazelnut notes are definitely there along with a long, skunky finish. Excellent.

The Ileach Peaty Islay Whisky – You would think a hunk of peat had dissolved in your glass the way it dominates the flavor profile. Still, notes of allspice shine through in this stunning dram. $53 wholesale CD

Highland Park Dark Origins Whisky – This high octane whisky punches you in the face with with spice, apples, and roasted hazelnuts before mellowing into peat-smoky bliss. $75 CD

Macallan 1824 Gold– aged in sherry oak, it starts out citrusy, follows up with chocolate and vanilla before finishing spicy and dry. A real sniffing whisky. $52 CD

Beer

Founders Red’s Rye IPA –  Tasted at the brewery in Grand Forks, Michigan, this is one seriously hoppy ale. 6.6% ABV, 70 IBUs.

Bells Brewery The Oracle Double IPA – I had never tasted such a high-alcohol IPA as this 10% puppy when we stopped in at the Kalamazoo brewery. It’s hop-forward and highly bitter, with attractive citrus and resin flavors. It starts out mild but then it fairly punches you in the face when you swallow, making you ask yourself, What’s in this stuff?

Big Rock Citradelic IPA – From my new favorite neighborhood brewery comes this zesty, tropical IPA that starts bitter but finishes fresh and clean. It’s my go-to ale. 6 ABV and 67 IBU.

Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye IPA – I really liked rye IPA’s this year, can you tell? Tasted this on our trip close to the source  in Sonoma County over the summer. Hop Rod Rye has a flowery hop aroma, caramel notes and earthy ryeness, on a big fat body. Only 8% alcohol, I loved it!

Only a Few Favorite Drinks

This is by no means a comprehensive list of great booze I consumed for the first time over the year, just a sampling. I drink every day, and 27 bottles is a small percentage of the 365 days in a year. Typically though, I drink the same things over and over and need to remind myself to try something new. So many wines, so little time and all…

What about you? What drinks did you discover in 2015? What jumped out and grabbed you by the throat? Please leave your favorite drinks in our comments.

And whatever you drink on New Year’s Eve, don’t forget to add a little water to the mix. That will help you start your 2016 on a smooth note.

Happy New Year!

 

Mari Kane

Mari is a writer, blogger and WordPress consultant, living in Vancouver, BC, the most wine-soaked town north of the 49th Parallel. She also blogs about WordPress web design at Blogsite Studio.com. Follow her on Twitter or Google Plus.