Our wine correspondent, Shafiq Jamal, is back with his annual column––including a delicious hit list of top recommendations for the 2022 holiday season
Well, what a year this has been. I’m sure we say this towards the end of every year, but it certainly felt like 2022 zoomed by really fast.
This year, without foresight or a grand master plan, I was fortunate to find myself at a number of wine tastings, mostly at the Water Street Café in Vancouver––a fabulous place to enjoy a meal with some good wines.
The oldest wine I tasted was from 1978: a French Bordeaux (hearty thanks to Jim Robertson for donating this wine to our wine club). There were also a couple of wines from Bordeaux from 1982 plus a 1999 Wolf Blass Shiraz Premium Selection.
I was thoroughly impressed––the 1978 and the 1982 wines all had good structure and body, while having mellowed in bottle. They still had decent bouquets and I was so grateful to have had the chance to sample these. And yes, I should have noted the names down…sorry, I was in such awe of these wines that I dispensed with note-taking and record-keeping.
This year I also attended the Vancouver International Wine Festival for the first time. The event I attended was on a Thursday night and it wasn’t as crowded as I anticipated, due to COVID. There were a lot of British Columbia wineries participating, and I enjoyed sampling them. In fact, I was enamoured of a Rosé from French Door Estate Winery.
On their website, they describe this wine, which is of course, out of stock, as “a Provence-style Rosé made with Grenache and Mourvèdre. Delicate scents of pear, mandarin, and apple. Clean and smooth flavours of grapefruit and grenadine on the palate.” I got grapefruit, apple, and a hint of mandarin. Regardless, it was delicious, and I’ll be looking to get my hands on more of these bottles into 2023.
So, what’s my take on 2022? As you may remember, my 2021 post was about how disappointed I was generally with wines in the $40 to $80 category, and how I had reverted to wines in the $20 to $30 range.
Well, in 2022, I pretty much continued this approach, and I haven’t been disappointed. Sonoma Country has piqued my interest (I just had a sumptuous wine in the Seghesio 2020 Sonoma Zinfandel), and as the prices of Chilean wines continues to rise, I’ve turned to value finds from Portugal (Duoro Valley in particular) and South Africa as well.
Without further ado, then, here are my recommendations for wines you and your lucky gift recipients can savour for the 2022 holiday season. Enjoy, and of course, do so responsibly.
My 2022 recommendations
First up then, is the Almansa Laya from Spain. Currently available at the BC Liquor Distribution Board for $2 off at $15.99, this one has a full body. It’s made of 70% garnacha tintorera and 30% monastrell and is Vegan. It has generated over 5,000 ratings on Vivino (a great App for wine lovers!), and what stuck with me was the great presence of dark fruit, leather, earthiness, and its decent finish. If I were you, I’d gift this––while also keeping about six bottles for yourself!
I haven’t fully given up on Chile. One of my regular favourites is the Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon from the Colchagua Valley. It delivers for me with its full body, it’s juiciness, and the fact that it pairs well with red meats. I find it opens up with time, especially the more you swirl it in a proper red wine glass. Coming in at $24.99, it’s a good value wine that punches above its weight.
Then there’s Blasted Church, which I have always appreciated for their whimsical take on wine and labels. My first introduction to Blasted Church (and my ex-wife’s actually) was their Hatsfield Fuse, but that’s a story for another day.
I’ve also had their Nectar of the Gods Red Blend, a gem that never disappoints. However, the wine I want to recommend as a value wine, is Blasted Church Cabernet Sauvignon, which was gifted to me by my wonderful team at Weber Shandwick Vancouver when I left to start my own communications shop, Jamal Communications Inc. Thanks to Toru Levinson, Leslie Haber, Milena D’Agostino, John Tabbernor and Geoff Newsome for this wonderful wine.
As a lover of full bodied wines, this one is packed with notes of cassis, dark fruit, chocolate (characteristic of Merlots), dried herbs and a bit of cocoa. It has a good structure that leads to a nice finish. I wanted this bottle to last longer, alas, I had to share it. Coming in at $30.99, it’s on the steeper end of the range, but yup, you guessed it, get one or more as a gift, and then stock up for those nights when 5cm of snow turns Vancouver into a vast parking lot.
Next up is the Michael David Lodi Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon. Regular readers of my column will immediately recognize that I have a thing for wines from Lodi: as I like my coffee bold, so do I like my wines bold, most of the time. And then there’s the label, which is always pleasing to the eye. Packing a punch at 14.5% yet medium bodied, you can see the rich 150-year history of this winery come to life in this bottle. At $3 off, coming in at $26.99, it has rich notes of black cherry, strawberry, and toasted hazelnut plus good length on the finish.
Finally for this year, the optimist in me wants to recommend the Daou Pessimist Red Blend. Inching up towards $40, this lightens the purse or wallet a bit––but it’s worth it. Having had the Daou Cabernet Sauvignon before, I didn’t hesitate when the BCLDB Product Consultant asked me to try the Pessimist. Boy does it ever deliver at 15.2% (you can see that I like big wines). It is also redolent with notes of black fruit, blackberry, oak, vanilla, and tobacco. A versatile wine, don’t resist the urge to splurge on this one now––dry January is just around the corner.
Well, that’s it folks! I wish you all a safe, happy, healthy, and joyous holiday season and I look forward to talking to many of you in 2023!