2014 is almost over and with its close comes the obligatory of Year in Review stories about everything from music to movies to politics to international events.
Forget that, all I want to remember are the great things I drank this year so I know what to look for in 2015.
Have to say, I drank some pretty great wine this year, most of which I can’t remember specifically since I tried them at tastings. I enjoyed beers from within four different states plus BC, far too many to keep track of. Spirits are more of a treat, so they stand out more boldly in my mind.
So from what I can piece together from memory, notes, photos and posts on this blog, here is a short list of a few of my favorite drinks of 2014.
While reading, I invite you to listen to the inimitable John Coltrane playing My Favorite Things.
I’ve been a fan of these wines since they were first released in 2012. They all have deep flavour, big body and beautiful integration. $25 and $24/BCLB. The zinfandel is brand new and brings the number of BC zins up to 6. It has nicely-balanced oak and fruit, and finishes with quite nervy acidity that I expect will smooth out soon. $27/winery.
Inniskillan Discovery Malbec
Being in a number of BC wine clubs has allowed me to drink things I might only catch at a tasting. This malbec was a lovely surprise with its plummy fruit, notes of toffee, a plush mouthfeel and deep complexity. Instantly drinkable, it’s great with savoury foods as well as chocolate. $25.
I like all Serendipity wines, but the Sauvignon Blanc we had with halibut steaks with our friends on Mudge Island was memorable for its crisp, clean freshness, lovely tropical and citrus fruit and superb pair-ability. $20/winery.
Moon Curser 2010 Petit Verdot
Purchased in 2012 and rescued from a closet last weekend, this wine was excellent with turkey and fixins at an American Thanksgiving dinner. I’m glad we waited as the integration was so complete as to be perfectly balanced. Seamless. Intense, yes, but not overbearing. Just pure, crystaline fermented fruit in a glass.
Calcarole2009 Amarone della Valpolicella
Tasted at the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri tasting, I loved this amarone for its huge nose of ripe black fruit and a massive, concentrated mouth of black cherries, road dust and tar. Just dreamy.
Black Cloud Altostratus Pinot Noir
Also enjoyed on Mudge Island, this Black Cloud’s pinot has pure, fresh red fruit and well-balanced oak and tasted amazing with blackberry pie and vanilla ice cream. I can almost taste it all over again. $35/winery
Dunham Froese/Covert Amacitia 2009
Again, club membership has its rewards, like when they send an old and new version of the same wine to compare. What a difference a year makes. The Dunham Froese Amacitia 2009 was so balanced, rich, deep and opaque you could get lost in it. If it had a touch more sugar I would call it syrupy. The Covert Farms 2010 Amacitia had all the makings of the ’09, but with youthful tannins and acidity. Beautiful.
Cuvée Jean Louis Brut
This is hands-down the best deal on French bubbly found anywhere in Vancouver. The fruit is fresh, the mousse is profuse and the finish is clean – perfect with sushi. $15/Private
Michigan has almost become synonymous with craft beer, and it’s not just because the state is so water logged. Almost 400 acres of Michigan hop farms contribute to the 160 Michigan micro breweries and the numbers are rising fast.
Over a week in Port Sanilac I was able to try a handful of Michigan IPAs and none failed to impress. My favorite drinks were:
Tasted both from the tap at Tiger Stadium and from a can at the East Port Blues Fest, this IPA impressed me with its lemony-grapefruity pineyness and malty doughiness.
Founders Centennial IPA
For such a well hopped ale, this one is super smooth and goes down like butter. Lots of citric and earthy notes on a big body.
Brassneck Passive Agressive IPA
This IPA from Vancouver’s Brassneck Brewing has become my go-to for growler fill ups on my way home from the gym. It’s big and bodacious with great hoppyness and bright citrus flavours. A refreshing mouthful. I love going their because the place always smells like something’s brewing.
Corsair Triple Smoke Whiskey
Distilled in an old auto plant in Nashville, this is the best whiskey I’ve had outside of Scotland. Smoked with peat, cherrywood and beechwood, the single barrel whiskey is so dense that cutting it 1:1 makes sense. With huge flavours of smoke, caramel, vanilla, apricot and biscuit, and a touch of sweetness, it tastes so amazing with chocolate shortbread cookies that I’ve come to associate one with the other. $75/Distillery only
New Columbia Distillers Green Hat Gin
This is the gin that has made me like gin. Don’t know why I never cared for it before, but now that craft distilling is a thing, I’m liking gin a lot. Made by the first distillery to open in Washington DC since prohibition, Green Hat has beautiful floral, herbal and citric notes, plus a hint of cucumber on a smooth silky palate. $43/Distillery.
Liberty Distillery Railspur No. 1 White Whiskey
This Vancouver moonshine, er, whiskey has smooth mouthfeel, citric notes, bisquity undertones and a honeyed finish. It’s a nice day for a white whiskey. $28/375 ml
I only ever try this during Tequila week in Vancouver, but it’s the perfect sipper to curl up with on the couch. Super deep and complex with an alluring nutty, orange-grapey flavour, it would go brilliantly with chocolate or cookies. $85-115/US
Just a few favorite drinks
Again, this is an incomplete list of what I tasted this year, just a few things that stood out in my mind. If your wine didn’t appear here, it doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. It’s just that it didn’t rise to the top of my memory, what’s left of it.
But there’s always next year!
Happy holidays everyone!