Skip to content

WINE NOTES: A global tour of unique wine characters

Wine critic, Robert Moyes, gives his May picks
Columnist Robert Moyes photographed at the Artisan Wine Shop on Broughton Street. (Don Denton)

Le Fat Bastard Shiraz ($19), whose label features a hippopotamus doing an exuberant belly flop, is the most drolly named of the so-called “critter wines.” Sourced from the Minervois region of southern France, this generously proportioned tipple is coloured a deep ruby red and offers bold flavours of cherry, blackberry, black olive, and bell pepper, augmented with spice and floral touches. Concentrated, juicy, and nicely balanced, Fat Bastard is an amiable Gallic dinner companion for everything from cassoulet to pork ribs and strong cheeses.

Established in 1972 in what used to be an orchard north of Kelowna, Gray Monk Estate Winery produces some of the better-value wines in the Okanagan. Their unoaked Chardonnay offers a pure, sophisticated fruit experience, with notes of green apple, melon, and pear, as well as tropical touches. Smooth and easy drinking, this medium-bodied wine is aromatic, with a refreshing acidity, good balance, and a lush mouthfeel. Enjoy with a range of fish and seafood, lemon-oregano chicken, or salads. This is an elegant wine, well worth $24.

Those who enjoy their reds on the lighter side should try the Estrella de Pascua Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah (happily, the $15 price is also on the light side). Chile produces a notable number of well-made wines, and this blend is no exception. Red-fruit aromas are followed by plum, cherry, and cassis on the palate, as well as a sprinkling of pepper and spice. Smooth and supple and quite dry, this is a decent everyday wine that will complement sausages, mixed olives, and hard cheeses.

Australia’s lurid history as a penal colony for British criminals is the inspiration for 19 Crimes Winery, so named for the 19 transgressions that could get you “transported” 200 years ago. Although the scary man on the label was an actual criminal, the wine inside is friendly as a puppy: lush, fruit-forward, and tail-waggingly eager to please. The 2019 Shiraz/Durif (a.k.a. Petite Sirah) offers oodles of blackberry, plum, and black cherry flavour, as well as a silky mouthfeel and a long finish. Perfect with grilled meats, this purple-black throat charmer represents $22 very well spent. (All prices include tax.)

READ MORE: Anchovy delight: pizza paired with a warm welcome at Bubby Rose’s