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We are generally big fans of the crisp tropical flavours of a good Verdelho (not to be confused with Verdejo – which we are also big fans of), so we were interested in tasting this offering from Margaret River’s Miles from Nowhere.  While we generally tend (when we can find them) toward Spanish Verdellos from Gallicia, we have had a number of tasty versions out of Australia over the years and so had reasonably high expectations for this wine.

Fresh nose that is reminiscent of wet pavement, with a sweet floral note and a hint of citrus.  So basically, this wine smells like spring.  The palate displays the typical tropical fruit -especially pineapple, lime, honeysuckle and grassy notes that we expect from Verdehlo.  Not overly complex, but bold, well balanced and refreshing – just the kind of wine you want to have on hand as warmer weather starts making its annual comeback.

We had this with a curried cauliflower soup and fried Pacific Snapper sandwiches, which was a great pairing for the bold flavours and big aromatics of this wine.

8.2/10.0     $21.99

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This wine is a blend of Viognier, Gewurtztraminer and Pinot Gris so you know the aromatics are going to be huge – a big nose of peach, tangerine, myer lemon, rose petal, lychee and a hint of honey immediately impresses. On the palate this wine is bone dry with a crisp, refreshing acidity; great balance. Flavours of stone fruit, citrus and green apple with a clean streak of minerals leave you with a long fresh aftertaste. You’ll taste this one for a long time after it’s gone.

We had this with panko crusted cod fillets – wich was delicious – but we immediately thought the big aromatics on this would play well with something with a bit of heat.  Thai or earthy Mexican dishes would be an ideal match.

8.8/10.0 $24.00

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Some believe that all good things begin with a dream. Cartems Donuterie in Vancouver is proof this is true. Currently housed out of a shared kitchen space on the Drive, with an additional pop-up location on the corner of Carrall and Hastings, it began with a dream by owner Jordan Cash. In 2002, while teaching English in South Korea (which he told a captive audience in the shop waiting for his next batch of donuts, is what you do when you don’t know what you’re doing with your life) he had a dream. Jordan dreamed about opening a donut shop, about serving donuts with a knife and fork and about a name for the shop: Cartems.

Fast forward 10 years later and the little donut shop that could (and opened only 3 weeks ago) is taking the Vancouver food scene by storm. The donuts aren’t served with a knife and fork (yet) but they are delicious. Finding Cartems’pop-up shop in Gastown proved easier that we expected – the line of customers out the door gave it away. If there is no line to guide you – it’s in the Pennsylvania Hotel. We joined the line, waiting in the drizzling Vancouver rain to see what all the fuss was about. When we got to the end we were part of a few waiting for the next batch to arrive. For the next hour a well-spirited crowd of donut-seekers waited eagerly for a fresh delivery from the kitchen on Commercial. The happy chattered ranged from the changing neighbourhood (we shared an ice cream sandwich from nearby restaurant Meat and Bread), other donut hotspots in the city(or lack thereof) and as is inevitable in Vancouver the price of housing. The owner’s and their friends who volunteered on this unexpectedly busy day chatted with the waiting crowd until an hour later, a vintage green Porsche arrive, with a rubber bin full of donuts.

We took home one of each flavour available: early gray, sweet heat, citrus zest, triple chocolate threat, carrot cake and a classic. We rushed home warm box in hands to devour two while they were still warm (the other four were going to some much deserved Hobbyists for dinnertime dessert). The first two we tried were delicious. The classic was just that: a plain donut with a slightly crispy, but moist vanilla bean glaze. The kind of donut that reminds you of your childhood, but just a little more gourmet. The outside of the citrus zest had that fantastic deep fried crunch with a moist cake inside. The zest was surprisingly potent, creating a sweet citrus tingle on your tongue. The two favourites at that night’s dinner party were the sweet heat and earl gray. The amount of heat in the sweet heat was pleasantly surprising. If you love a good chili/chocolate combination this is donut for you. The heat lingers and the cinnamon in the dusting rounds out this full flavour combination. The earl gray is beautiful looking and has a subtle but unmistakeable flavour. For this donut texture pulled it to the top of the list: soft crunch to the icing, crunchy donut outside and moist middle. If you like carrot cake you will like the carrot cake donut. We were missing the candied carrots and oats topping (they ran out) to give the donut that extra blast of carrot flavour. The triple chocolate was a little bit dry and heavy – our least favorite of the day. We will try it again – even a donut has an off day.

The donuterie has been open for 3 weeks. They have gone from making 60 donuts a day to over 700 – who knew Vancouver foodies were yearning for a great donut? Apparently the team at Cartems Donuterie did. If you are in the area stop by. We’ve already got a coffee and donut date planned for next weekend – so you can count us in as repeat customers.

Montreal’s Yamanataka have a sound that reminds us of somewhere in between Asobi Seksu and Sleigh Bells – which is a great combo – and the video for Hoshi Neko off their debut album Sonic Titan has a whimsical mixed- media quality that we enjoy.  It reminds of the doodles you made in the margins of your class notes come to life.

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Rich smokey notes of tar, plum and vanilla make this wine instantly enticing – just what we want in a good Montepulciano.  The plum notes follow through on the palate, with notes of blueberry, tea and a hint of cinnamon.  Nice balance and structure here, with grippy tanins that soften as it opens.  Nothing mind blowing here, but make no mistake this is a solid wine that delivers everything you want to see in a Montepulciano at this price point.  The deep purple colour of this wine only helps to draw you in more.

We had this with a spicy bruschetta and burrata – tasty.  You’ll be happy with this as your pizza and pasta wine, but it would also be great with a grilled steak served with a squeeze of fresh lemon, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil – it cries out for the flavours of Italy.

8.1/10.0      $29.99

 

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Portland’s Yacht can be a little hit and miss for us, but Shangri-La is a definite hit and the video reminds us of all the things we love about the wacky West Coast.

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Aromas of apricot, citrus and wild flower honey with a hint of cinnamon give this a very different profile than most Vinho Verdes on the nose.  On the palate this is dry and crisp, providing a great contrast to the sweet and spicy nose, but without the mouth puckering acidity of some Vinho Verdes.  Flavours of dried apricot, orange zest and lemon lead to a clean mineral and citrus finish.  One complaint on this wine is that it lacks the usual effervescence that is typical to Vinho Verde.  Not the end of the world as this is still a tasty and unique wine, but we’re normally big fans of the refreshing citrus fizz of Vinho Verde.  This is a richer, more full bodied Vinho Verde than most – definitely not your typical cheap Portuguese fizz.

Try this paired with grilled white fish -the fattiness of halibut, sole or lingcod would be ideal the ideal foil for the crisp citrus flavours, but this wine also has the weight to stand up to them.

Unique and thrilling stuff – try this with The Weeknd’s latest mix tape Echoes of Silence.

7.9/10      14.99

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For anyone that went to the Watch the Throne Tour this Fall, this video is the perfect momento.  Like being there all over again… well if you play this on repeat 8 – 10 times.  Also a few clips that take you back to Paris.  Good 2011 revisit for a few of us.  Enjoy!

Our fondness for Spanish wines has been fairly well documented, so it is not surprising that this well-priced old vine Grarnacha from just outside of Zaragoza caught our attention.

Very concentrated deep ruby colour on this wine. Not a lot going on on the nose on this wine. Aromas of sweet dark fruit dominate with a herbal / floral note and hint of black pepper and spice. Flavours of raspberry, strawberry and under-ripe blackberry give way to a black pepper, carmel and vanilla notes. Good acidity and soft tannins, but a little out of balance. Overall a pleasant and interesting wine, but definitely not a blockbuster.

We had this with a delicious ghormeh sabzi (a Persian dish with lamb and herbs) – which was a great pairing. Lamb is a natural pairing for Grenache, and this wine is no exception.

7.5/10.0 $17.99

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Wild Goose has long been one of our favourite BC wineries and has for years produced some of the most consistently stunning Alsatian style whites being made in the Okanagan.  Autumn Gold was the wine that introduced us to Wild Goose years ago – long before we fell in love with their epicly delicious Rieslings.  A blend of Riesling, Gewurtztraminer and Pinot Blanc, Autumn Gold puts a BC spin on a classic Alsatian blend.

On the nose you get the big aromatic notes you expect from a good Alsatian blend:  honeysuckle, orange blossom, tropical fruit and lime.  On the palate, flavours of pear, spiced apple, pineapple and lime zest predominate with a nice mineral note that lingers on the finish.  Fresh acidity and a touch of sweetness that also carries through the long finish on this wine.

We had this with sushi, but it would pair well with almost any seafood dishes and spicy asian fare.  Of course, this would also be excellent with a nice Alsatian onion tart or a cheese fondue – which is to say, it is a very versatile and food friendly white.

8.7/10     $18.99
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