Wine and cheese. Always an enjoyable time when paired together. Today I looked forward to going to Herons Restaurant in Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in downtown Vancouver to try a flight of wines from Blasted Church winery and a pairing of cheeses from The Farm House Natural Cheeses and cheese from the Kootenays and from Salt Spring Island. You too can enjoy Sip + Savour because it takes place daily from 2pm to 5pm (excluding Sundays) at a cost of just $35.95.
Walking into Herons, I looked for an empty wine glass and a table with some wines to taste. With my luck, the table I picked had the new wine maker from Blasted Church, Mr. Mark Wendenburg, pouring wine. Mark Wendenburg left Sumac Ridge Winery after working with them for18 years. Mark was a born and raised Penticton, and has travelled around the world, getting trained in Germany, and then making wines in New Zealand and Australia before settling back in the Okanagan. Mark is a very friendly person and I enjoyed speaking with him for a long time about wine making style, terroir, and more.
The white wines I tasted were all fresh and fruit forward. Perfect for the summer, which I am told should arrive soon!
Pinot Gris 2010 ($19.99). I was told by Mark that their Pinot Gris always has a bit of Viognier blended in. This vintage had 8% added to the Pinot Gris. Pale lemon in colour. Light peach and apple aromas. High acidity but still round mouth feel. Medium body. Flavours of ripe tropical fruits.
Chardonnay Musque 2010 ($17.99). The Chardonnay Musque grape is a unique clone of Chardonnay that was pioneered in the Niagara Peninsula by Château des Charmes’ founder Paul Bosc. It has the Muscat character, which is very aromatic and an aroma of oranges. This wine was pale lemon in colour. Very aromatic of oranges and flowers. Medium body, dry and medium acidity. Juicy fruits of lemon and tropical fruit on the palate, also a bit of vanilla. A nice long, dry finish.
Mixed Blessings 2010 ($17.99). This is the third vintage of this wine, and each vintage is made of a unique blend of white grapes. This vintage was made with Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Nice aromatic nose. Green and stone fruits. Off dry with a slight green, herbal flavour. Light body with medium acidity and light spice to finish. Nice.
Gewurztraminer 2010 ($16.99). Pale lemon in the glass. Flowers and lychee greet your nose. High acidity with flowers,lychee and bonbon flavours. Light body and has a nice balance of roundness with acidity in your mouth. Another nice wine!
Hatfield’s Fuse 2010 ($17.99). This is a blend of white grapes including Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Light lychee and herbal nose. Round mouth feel with a nice balance of acidity. Juicy fruit gum flavour.
Rose and Red Wines
Blasted Church has a wide range of reds from rose and lighter bodied Pinot Noir, up to a full bodied Bordeaux Blend.
Rose 2010 ($17.99). This rose is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Usually I expect a single varietal, like Pinot Noir or Merlot, so I was very interested to taste this rose. Very pale cherry colour. Nice strawberry aromas. Raspberry leaf, strawberry, and capsicum flavours. High acidity and spicy on your palate. Light body and long length. This wine packs a punch with 14.9% alcohol, so beware as you sip this one on the patio.
Pinot Noir 2009 ($24.99). I am a Pinot Noir fan and I think that the Okanagan produces some nice Pinot Noir wines. This wine was a bit Burgundian in style. Pale cherry colour, with a smoky, earthy nose. Between a light and medium body with more smokiness and earthiness on the palate, along with cherries. Low tannins with medium acidity. Dry with medium length.
Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot ($25.99). Deep garnet in colour. Ripe, dark fruit, vanilla, capsicum and pencil lead aromas. Medium body round and soft in your mouth with juicy ripe fruits, cherries and vanilla. Also a bit on spiciness on the finish. Long length. This wine tastes sweet, but it is just the juiciness of the fruit. Nice.
Nothing Sacred 2008 ($39.99). I’m not sure why the name, but the label shows a dead goat with it’s legs up in the air! This is a premium Bordeaux blend comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Each parcel of fruit was processed and vinified separately. After vinification, the wines went into their finest oak barrels and aged separately until a final blend was determined. Deep garnet in the glass. Ripe dark fruit, vanilla and dark chocolate nose. Full body with cassis, plums, and opulent vanilla flavours. Dry with medium tannins and soft acid. Try this wine with a steak on your barbeque this long weekend.
To pair with several of Blasted Church’s wines were artisan cheese by The Farm House Natural Cheeses, plus an Alpindon cheese from the Kootenay’s and a “Beddis Blue” from Moonstruck Organic Cheese on Salt Spring Island.
The Alpindon cheese was paired with the Pinot Gris. This is a hard cheese, slightly creamy and salty, with a bit of crunchiness to it. A bit of pungency but still quite mild for most people. It went nicely with the pinot gris.
I checked up on this cheese via the Internet and found that it is made by the Kootenay Alpine Cheese Company in Creston, BC. They describe the Alpindon cheese as “a firm cheese carefully modeled after French Beaufort d’Alpage. Following centuries old tradition this cheese is hand-rubbed and made only with milk from summer pastures. It exhibits a smooth nut flavour, a complex finish, a rich golden interior and a dark textured rind. Additional aging concentrates its flavours, deepens its complexity, and increases the sweet crystals that develop throughout the body of the cheese.”
The Farm House Natural Cheeses‘ Farm House cheddar was paired with the Chardonnnay Musque. This cheddar felt medium aged to me with some nice nuttiness, a bit of cheddar sharpness, and low in salt. It is hard for a cheddar not to pair nicely with any wine, and this one matched well. A drop of sweet chutney was added to the cheese so you had some sweet, sharp, nutty, and salty flavours to go with the Chardonnay Musque. I spoke with I believe Debra Amrein-Boyes, who is one of only twelve people in western Canada and the US who has been inducted into the prestigious French Cheese Guild, the “Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie de Saint-Uguzon“. I was very interested to hear how they made one of their blue cheeses, and her description of their camembert cheese. They are located in Agassiz, BC, so I hope to make a pilgrimage to their Fromagerie before the summer is out, see her contented cows and try more of her fabulous cheeses.
The last cheese paired was the “Beddis Blue” from Moonstruck Organic Cheese onSalt Spring Island. Very creamy with a mild bite. A drop of honey made by bees kept on the roof of the Fairmont Waterfront hotel, was added to this blue cheese. It was a very interesting flavour combination. I’ve never mixed honey and blue cheese, but it works and paired nicely with the fruitiness and acidity in the Cabernet Merlot blend.
If you are a fan of bees and honey, the Fairmont Waterfront hotel does offer their guests a guided Herb Garden & Honeybee Tour. Also if you are a chocolate fan, try the hotel’s honey truffles, the “Bee’s Knees”. The truffles, created in partnership with British Columbia’s legendary chocolatier, Rogers’ Chocolates, are offered in milk and dark chocolate and feature flavour notes of butterscotch, vanilla and cinnamon.
Have a great summer, enjoying some wine and cheese on your patio!