No.99 Wayne Gretzky Estates Riesling (Ontario, Canada)


  • My Rating: D

Riesling 2008 – No.99 Wayne Gretzky Estates, 11.3% ABV, 750ml, (Vineland, Ontario, Canada)

on the back label:

“No.99 Riesling from the 2008 vintage is a refreshing presentation of one of Niagara’s most prized aromatic white varieties. Bright citrus fruit lemon-lilme acidity, creating a crisp, alluring wine with a fruit-forward nose and long, lush palate structure. Drinking well now, and will evolve further in bottle over the next 3-5 years.”

  • Style: (white wine) Riesling
  • Taste Profile: super sour -> cloying acidity/lemon/lime/minerality -> tart/tangy/acidic finish
  • Where I got it : Legacy
  • How much: $20 (after 10% off) / ($14 online direct) – 750ml, May 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to wine drinkers: no

Visual: Wayne Gretzky, the legend! How about this wine? Professional fancy label, complete with Wayne’s signature for you learn to forge on all his memorabilia. Pours light golden yellow with some tiny bubbles in the glass.

Nose: lemon-lime acidity

Attack: extreme citrus (10)-sourness

Mid-palate: (4)-sweetness, (9)-cloying acidity, (MAIN) lemon oil, lime, green apple (HINT) minerality

Finish: (7)-tart, tangy, acidic, cloying finish.

Summary: This is a wine that definitely must accompany a meal. It’s way to sour on it’s own and becomes even more so as it warms up. I’m a fan of Gretzky but not this wine. (Note: all numbers above are on a 10-point scale, with 1 being weak and 10 being the strongest)

Miller Genuine Draft – Miller Brewing (Milwaukee, WI, USA)


  • My Rating: D-

Miller Genuine Draft – Miller Brewing, 4.7% ABV – 355ml, (Milwaukee, WI, USA)

from Wikipedia:

“Miller Genuine Draft (MGD) was introduced in 1985 as the original cold filtered packaged draft beer, which means that the beer is not pasteurized. MGD received the gold medal in the American-style Premium Lager category at the 1999 World Beer Cup. It also received the silver medal at the 2003 Great American Beer Festival. The concept for cold-filtered Miller Genuine Draft was developed by product consultant Calle & Company. Martin Calle evolved the concept from Miller’s New Ventures effort to launch a new dry beer at a time Miller Brewing was in danger of becoming a much-cloned light beer manufacturer. Originally introduced as “Miller High Life Genuine Draft”, the “High Life” part of the name was soon dropped. MGD is actually made from the same recipe as Miller High Life but with a different treatment. It was developed to give High Life drinkers the same taste in a can or bottle as they found in non-pasteurized kegs. It has 4.7% abv”

  • Style: Lager
  • Taste: sharp crispness -> barley malt/cereal -> thin malty sweet/rough off-dry metallic finish.
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $24 – 12x355ml, September 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no!

Visual: Big beer company, now joined with Molson and Coors. Seems like a chugging/hot pot beer to me. Pours clear golden yellow with a small dissipating head, thin layer of retention, several slow spread out streams.

Nose: a bit of apple but mainly light barley grain. (3)-aromatic strength.

Attack: sharp crispness mixed with light barley (4)-sweetness.

Mid-palate: (MAIN) barley, cereal grain

Finish: thin malty sweet finish, palate off-dry rough metallic finish.

Summary: Absolutely zero depth and not much flavour other than the cereal barely malt. It goes okay with Chinese salty meal since it’s light flavour basically acts like water in cleaning the palate, quenching thirst, and partially accentuating lingering residual flavours. Terrible on its own though. (Note: all numbers above are on a 10-point scale, with 1 being weak and 10 being the strongest)

Enlightenment Great Punkin – Renaissance Brewing (Marlborough, NZ)


  • My Rating: C

Enlightenment Great Punkin – Renaissance Brewing, 7.2% ABV – 500ml, (Marlborough, New Zealand)

On the front side label:

“Brewed with roasted pumpkin and a blend of spices to yield ‘punpkin pie’ notes and a deep red/orange colour. Lightly hopped with NZ Fuggle. A medium body and moderate bitterness allow the flavour of the pumpkin, spice and caramelized malts to shine through.”

  • Style: (seasonal, pumpkin) Spiced Ale
  • Taste Profile: creamy/fizzy -> brown sugar/pumpkin/root beer/bad-salty-bitterness -> molasses off-dry malty bad roughness.
  • Where I got it : W.16th
  • How much: $9 (after 10% off) – 500ml, September 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no

Visual: Attractively designed label. Pours beer bottle brown with a massive lasting foamy head, thick layer of retention, thick clusters of fast streams.

Nose: sour, almost metallic caramelized malts, hint of orange oil citrus, mildly roasted pumpkin. (6)-aromatic strength.

Attack: creamy/fizzy mouthfeel, malty (7)-sweetness

Mid-palate: (MAIN) brown sugar malts, pumpkin, root beer, ginger dryness (HINTS) nutmeg, almost salty (off-putting) texture

Finish: lingering molasses, malty burnt bitter finish.

Summary:  The CO2, visual, and bottling are nice, but what I don’t like is burnt, saltiness in the mids. Perhaps its the roasting or off-balance of the spices that make it leave a lingering bad taste in the mouth. (Note: all numbers above are on a 10-point scale, with 1 being weak and 10 being the strongest)

Orofino Riesling (Cawston, BC, Canada)


  • My Rating: C-

Riesling 2010 – Orofino Vineyards, 12.3% ABV, 750ml, (Cawston, BC, Canada)

on the back label:

“Typical Orofino Riesling full of complex tropical fruit, lime and minerality. Dry with bright acidity.”

  • Style: (white wine) Riesling
  • Taste Profile: sourness -> green apple/lime/pineapple/papaya -> tart acidity/puckery off-dry finish.
  • Where I got it : Firefly
  • How much: $23 (after 10% off) – 750ml, May 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to wine drinkers: no, average

Visual: Raised font printed paper label, screw-top cap. Pours light yellow with a few small bubbles.

Nose: green apple, pineapple, lime, lots of acidity and brightness. (7)-aromatic strength.

Attack: intense sourness

Mid-palate: (2)-sweetness, continued sourness, (MAIN) green apple, lime, pineapple, papaya

Finish: lingering tartness-acidity-sourness, puckery off-dry fruity finish.

Summary:  Decent body and structure, but I find the acidic sourness too overbearing. (Note: all numbers above are on a 10-point scale, with 1 being weak and 10 being the strongest)

Harlot’s Harvest Pike Pumpkin Ale – Pike Brewing (Seattle, WA, USA)


  • My Rating: B+

Harlot’s Harvest Pike Pumpkin Ale – Pike Brewing, 8.5% ABV – 650ml, (Seattle, WA, USA)

On the front label:

Ingredients: Water, Malt, Pumpkin, Hops, Spices, Yeast. (Pumpkin as the 3rd ingredient and spices as the 5th! It means lots of pumpkin was used in this brew.)

  • Style: (seasonal, pumpkin) Spiced Ale
  • Taste Profile: soft CO2 -> demerara/cola/roast pumpkin/malt -> caramel/coffee-chocolate bittersweet malty finish.
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $7 (after 10% off) – 650ml, September 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: likely, if I’ve already tried all the pumpkin beers available
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: Cool label of a woman holding her pumpkins… Pours very dark brown with minimal head, lasting ringed retention, lots of streams along the perimeter.

Nose: caramel pumpkin pie filling including the spices, plus brown sugar malts. (5)-aromatic strength.

Attack: soft creamy carbonation and sweetness

Mid-palate: (MAIN) demerara sugar (6)-sweetness, cola, roasted pumpkin, malts (HINT) hoppy bitterness, root beer, cinnamon/nutmeg

Finish: hints of ginger dryness, caramel malty sweet, (a really nice) coffee-chocolate bittersweetness to finish.

Summary:  Superb balance and a top-notch pumpkin ale compared to all the local (BC) ones I’ve tried to date. It has depth, complexity, and drinkability at a great price point. (Note: all numbers above are on a 10-point scale, with 1 being weak and 10 being the strongest)

Armagnac VSOP Round 1 – Saint-Vivant VS Tariquet


Round 1 of VSOP Armagnac. Why? Well, checking my inventory I noticed that I have 3 different bottles of VSOPs so why not? They’re similarly priced and of the same style and age, so let’s get to it! (I reviewed Saint-Vivant by itself earlier this week here.)

1) Saint Vivant VSOP – 40% ABV – 750ml, (Condom, Gers, France), $60 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores

  • first distilled in 1559 by nobleman Saint Vivant de la Salle.
  • (I think) it’s in the Armagnac-Ténarèze terrior, one of three terriors in which Armagnac may only be produced.
  • aged at least 5 years (VSOP designation, wiki)


2) Tariquet – 40% ABV – 750ml, (Eauze, Gers, France), $52 CAD @ Aristocrat Liq 82nd (Edm)

  • Château du Tariquet, since 1683 (according to the box)
  • distilled from 60% Ugni Blanc, 40% Baco grapes, in the Bas-Armagnac terrior.
  • aged for at least 7 YEARS


Nose: Saint-Vivant is half alcohol, and half flavour aromas consisting of vanilla, oak, caramel, and a bit of toast. Tariquet is much, MUCH gentler on the nose, with about 1/3 less alcohol nasal burn. Its profile consists of more caramel than vanilla, and lemon curd. Hands down the winner is Tariquet.

Taste & Texture: Having reviewed St-Vivant earlier, I was really looking forward to trying Tariquet. Tasting St-Vivant again brought back the overwhelming alcohol detection up front, bold in-your-face aggressive vanilla-caramel, and licorice-warm long finish with spice and burn. Tariquet, you are so much smoother. You taste floral up front, like chamomile and lemon, with gingerbread-caramel-vanilla-oak dominating the mids, finishing with spiced numbness. The choice is an easy one, Tariquet you win.

Final Notes:

  • Tariquet exhibits a slightly darker golden brown hue than Saint-Vivant
  • Saint-Vivant may have bolder flavours, but it gets muddled up by the overwhelming alcohol jaggedness also in there.
  • Tariquet comes in a (giftable) box. Otherwise it’s just another thing to recycle.
  • Bottom line: Saint-Vivant is a notch BELOW my enjoyability threshold, whereas TARIQUET is just ABOVE my enjoyability threshold. I’m curious to try an XO Armagnac next.

WINNER = Tariquet VSOP (Round 1 Champ)


Lavender Cranberry Mead – Middle Mountain Meadery (Hornby Island, BC, Canada)


  • My Rating: C+

Lavender Cranberry Mead – Middle Mountain Meadery, 12% ABV, 375ml, (Hornby Island, BC, Canada)

from the Middle Mountain Mead website:

“This is a special mead with a lovely lavender bouquet. Herbs play a strong role in this mead, giving it truly ethereal flavours. Try sipping this wine and let the magically relaxing effects of lavender take hold. It was voted one of the top 101 things to eat and Drink in the 2009 Vancouver Magazine edition.”

  • Style: (lavender-cranberry) flavoured Mead
  • Taste Profile: sweet/sour/supple -> apple cider vinegar/tart/cranberry/lavender -> alcohol warmth/spicy heat/sweet-tart finish.
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $23 – 375ml, April 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to wine aficionados: yes, just to try.

Visual: Pours a very light orange with a hint of purple. Miniscule sedimentation in the pour.

Nose: apple cider vinegar and cranberry on the nose. (6)-aromatic strength.

Attack: incoming sweet and acidic sourness, supple mouthfeel

Mid-palate: (MAIN) apple cider vinegar, (7)-sourness, (5)-tartness, (5)-sweetness (HINT) cranberry, lavender

Finish: light-medium alcohol warmth, medium-heat spicy, sweet-tart finish.

Summary:  Quite interesting and sippable at room. It’s got a nice balance of sweet-fruit-sour-tart-spice-alcohol in there. (Note: all numbers above are on a 10-point scale, with 1 being weak and 10 being the strongest)

Knucklehead Pumpkin Ale – Cannery Brewing (Penticton, BC, Canada)


  • My Rating: C

Knucklehead Pumpkin Ale – Cannery Brewing, 5% ABV, 20 IBU – 650ml, (Pentiction, BC, Canada)

On the front label:

“Nothing says fall better than this gnarly, spiced-up brown ale. We added 250 pounds of roasted knucklehead pumpkin along with traditional fall spices to this seasonal ale. Not your average knucklehead’s ale.

Ingredients: Malted barleys, hops, water, yeast, KNUCKLEHEAD PUMKPIN AND SPICES.”

Here’s the scoop on the Knucklehead pumpkin varietal.

  • they are smaller than typical pumpkins
  • have characteristic “knuckles”
  • usually upright and oval shape


  • Style: (seasonal, knucklehead pumpkin) Spiced Ale
  • Taste Profile: creamy sourness -> brown sugar malts/roast pumpkin/tang -> sour bitter burnt roast malt finish.
  • Where I got it : W.16th Liquor
  • How much: $5 (after 10% off) – 650ml, December 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no

Visual: This is the first time trying a Knucklehead pumpkin ale, let’s see how it differs. Pours dark cola brown, with a large foamy head with long retention, lots of active streams.

Nose: sour/mild funk acidic brown sugar, roasted malts. (6)-aromatic strength

Attack: creamy-fizzy, incoming sourness

Mid-palate: (6)-sourness, (MAIN) brown sugar malts, roast pumpkin (HINT) yeasty tang, cinnamon/nutmeg

Finish: sourness, medium (5)-bitter burnt malt finish.

Summary: Somewhat surprised for such acidity/sourness in a pumpkin brew. Persistent sourness without complexity makes this one just an average beer for me. (Note: all numbers above are on a 10-point scale, with 1 being weak and 10 being the strongest)

Iceder (Icewine + Apple Cider) – Lulu Island Winery (Richmond, BC, Canada)


  • My Rating: B-

Iceder (Icewine + Apple Cider blend) 2007- Lulu Island Winery, 11.0% ABV, 375ml, (Richmond, BC, Canada)

On the back label and box:

“Our winemaker was searching for the perfect flavour match to blend with the world famous VQA Canadian Icewine. He chose the best Okanagan apples and created ICEDER, a blend of Icewine and Apple Cider. ICEDER boats a delicate golden colour with intense apple aromas. Smooth and rich, with flavours of apple, dried apricot and honey. Serve this exquisite sweet dessert wine chilled.”


  • Style: (Icewine + Apple Cider) Dessert Wine
  • Taste Profile: tangy tingly sweetness -> red apple/apricot/lemon -> tangy/alcohol/zingy thin sweet apple finish.
  • Where I got it : @Winery
  • How much: $32 (after 10% off) –375ml, March 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to dessert wine aficionados: it’s nice, but not must have

Visual: Includes a relatively high quality box with textured lettering and thick material. All this is built into the price of course. Pours medium deep golden orange with minor sedimentation at the bottom of the bottle.

Nose: filtered Sun-Rype apple juice, hints of sourness and yeast. (6)-aromatic strength.

Attack: tangy/light-sour, tingly mouthfeel

Mid-palate: (7)-fruity sweetness (MAIN) red apple, apricot (HINT) lemon

Finish: continued tanginess, mild alcohol warmth, watery soda-like-zingy sweet apple finish.

Summary: Extremely sippable but lacks the carry, warmth, and viscosity of a typical Icewine. Quite basic in flavour but very approachable due to the nice balance of sweet-sour-fruity-alcohol. Decent but on the thin-mouthfeel side. (Note: all numbers above are on a 10-point scale, with 1 being weak and 10 being the strongest)

Saint Vivant VSOP Armagnac (France)


  • My Rating: C-

Saint Vivant VSOP Armagnac, 40% ABV, 750ml, (Condom, Gers, France)

Some things I learned about Armagnac via the internets:

  • 1x distilled, traditionally to 52% ABV and then Monlezun Black Oak barrel aged for years. Typically not diluted with water. (VS Cognac which is 2x distilled)
  • VS = 2 years, VSOP = 5 years, XO/Napoleon = 6 years, Hors d’Age = 10+ years
  • Nosing should be done progressively from chest height, chin, lips, and finally nose. Allow time for alcohol to evaporate because initial nosing can be harsh
  • ditch the brandy snifter for this “rounded belly and tapered chimney” glass

Armagnac Glassware

  • Style: (VSOP) Armagnac
  • Taste Profile: sweet caramel -> vanilla/oak/licorice -> plum/grape
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $60 – 750ml, sometime in 2011
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to brandy aficionados: no

Visual: Unique shaped bottle with a dimple allows for an ergonomic grip (A+). Pours light-medium (5)-dark brown.


Nose: (after 20 minutes) direct inhalation is still extremely harsh. (Lip-height) vanilla, oak, caramel.

  • Nosing = D+

Attack: sweet, sweet caramel, (9)-nasal burn as you sip

Mid-palate: (MAIN) (8)-vanilla, (5)-oak, (8)-licorice

Finish: (3)-plum/raisin, (4)-concord grape

  • Flavour = C+

Summary: Nosing is way too harsh. Flavours are decent but you must have patience with this one. Body is underwhelming. Unbalanced (licorice and alcohol overbearing). Overall not recommended; Spend more money on a higher quality Armagnac. (Note: all numbers above are on a 10-point scale, with 1 being weak and 10 being the strongest)