My Favorites From the South World Wine Society’s Five Nations Cup 2011

Wednesday, Jan 19 was the South World Wine Society’s 6th Annual Five Nations Cup.  This is a blind wine tasting and humbles everyone in attendance. Five white wines and five red wines were presented to us.

We first went through the white wines, and were told that there were a Chenin Blanc, a Pinot Gris, a Chardonnay, and 2 Sauvignon Blanc.  One of the sauvignon blanc would be young (a recent vintage), while the other sauvignon blanc would be aged (2003 in this case).  The wines would be from Australia, Chile, New Zealand, or South Africa.  We were missing a white wine from Argentina for this half of the tasting.  Our host for the evening, Mr. Paul Watkin, is past SWWS cellar master and is a manager at Icon Fine Wine and Spirits in Vancouver.   Paul let us all know some of the characteristic aromas and flavours of each of these white grapes, as well as some hints as to style of white wines produced by each of these countries.  After sipping and debating each other at our table, we all stood up and slowly each started to sit down as each wine was revealed but did not match our guess.

The first wine was the Mount Riley Pinot Gris (2008 I think) from New Zealand.  I marked this wine as pale lemon colour. Herbal, lemon a bit of lime and some lychee on the nose.  Medium body, medium acidity, grapefruit and spice flavours with a long finish.  I guessed correctly.

The second wine was the Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc (2008) from Chile. Pale but bright lemon colour in the glass. Vanilla, waxy, lemon, grassy, and gooseberry aromas. Medium body.  Citrus, slightly vegetal and slightly spicy with medium acidity.  Another correct guess!

The third wine was the Montes Alpha Chardonnay (2006) from Chile.  This one was the easiest to guess.  The fullest body, most deep lemony coloured, lots of vanilla and apple aromas and flavours.  Nice spice too.  It went really well with a smoked scalloped that was served with the wines.  3 for 3 so far.

The fourth wine was the Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc (2003) from Australia. The aged sauvignon blanc!  This wine was medium minus golden colour. Big legs on the sides of the glass.  Honeysuckle, honey, and apricot aromas. Medium minus body, smooth, lower in acidity with a dry finish.  I guessed this one was the Chenin Blanc.

The last white wine was the Graham Beck Gameskeeper Reserve Chenin Blanc (2008) from South Africa . Light lemon colour.  Smokey, apple, spice, oak, vanilla, and some earthiness on the nose. Bright fruit flavours, but also some smokiness, apple and oak.  Medium length. I originally thought this one could be the aged sauvignon blanc with some oak aging (e.g. a Fume Blanc).

So from the white wine review, I ended up in 2nd place.  Not bad considering how difficult the whites were to identify.  Hopefully the red wines would be easier.

No such luck.  Paul was going to give us 5 different Bordeaux blends.  That is much more difficult than trying to guess if a wine is a Malbec or a Merlot.  The first red was the Man O’ War Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec blend (2008) from New Zealand. I had marked it as medium red with a purple tint (from the Malbec). Cassis, red cherry, leather, mint and tomato aromas. Juicy red fruit flavour, with vanilla, spice, high acidity and medium tannins.  I guessed correctly.  I thought the high acidity would be from a cooler climate, and New Zealand would be the coolest of the 5 countries.

The second red was the Miguel Torres Cordillera (2001) from Chile. A deep core of garnet in the glass.  Some capsicum aroma, along with vanilla, dark plum and milk chocolate.  On the palate it was full bodied.  Vanilla, purple fruit and savory flavours. Medium acidity and tannins. Another correct guess.  The capsicum was my hint that it was Chilean.

The third red was the Glen Carlou Grand Classique (2005) from South Africa.  Deep garnet in colour.  Iodine and earthy aromas. Mineral, leather and firm tannins.  Quite different from all the other reds.  I guessed that one correctly too.

The fourth red wine was the Luigi Bosca Gala 2 (2005) from Argentina.  I had guessed New Zealand, then changed my mind to Australia, but in the end I found out it was Argentina.  Really hard to guess the origin of this wine.  It was medium garnet coloured.  Sweet vanilla, chocolate and dark fruit aromas.  Not overly aromatic. Medium body and medium tannins with grippy black fruit flavour.

The fifth red wine was the d’Arenberg Galvo Garage (2005) from Australia. Very dark garnet in colour.  Some capsicum, dry not overly fruity nose with some earthiness.  Vanilla, capsicum and very fruity flavours.  Firm tannins.  I guessed this one was the wine from Argentina.

I ended up in 2nd place for the red wines.  I don’t feel too bad getting 2nd place for both the red and white wines.

How did I rate these wines?

White wines in my rank of preference:

  1. Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc (2003) Australia
  2. Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc (2008) Chile
  3. Mt. Riley Pinot Gris (2008) New Zealand
  4. Montes Alpha Chardonnay (2006) Chile
  5. Graham Beck Gameskeeper Reserve Chenin Blanc (2008) South Africa

Red wines in my rank of preference:

  1. Miguel Torres Cordillera (2001) Chile
  2. Man O’ War Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec blend (2008) New Zealand
  3. Luigi Bosca Gala 2 (2005) Argentina
  4. d’Arenberg Galvo Garage (2005) Australia
  5. Glen Carlou Grand Classique (2005) South Africa

One thing that you may notice is that my first choice in both the red and white wines were the OLDEST wines.  Don’t think that you have to drink a wine as soon as you buy it.  Especially true for red wines, and some white wines.  Many of these wines will be available only in private wine shops.  Hope you can get a chance to try some of them. Enjoy!

ALERT: South World Wine Society’s Five Nations Cup!

Being the past president / co-chair / cellarmaster of the South World Wine Society (SWWS), I really like to introduce people to the wines of the Southern Hemisphere.  On January 19, 2011 will be their yearly 5 Nations Cup.

What is the SWWS 5 Nations Cup?  It is a blind wine tasting, where a red and a white wine from each of the 5 southern hemisphere wine producing countries are tasted (Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand), and you try to figure out which wines are from which countries.  It is quite fun.  Sitting at a table with 4 other people; you are each tasting the same wines, and talking, and maybe convincing each other, which one is the Merlot and that it comes from Chile, for example.  There will also be appetizers to pair with the wines.

I’ll be there.  I hope you will be too.  Here is the announcement from the South World Wine Society.


The Sixth Annual Five Nations Cup
January 19, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 7-9 p.m.

The Listel Hotel
1300 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC, V6E 1C5
Tel 604 684.8461

$44.00 per member
$55.00 per non-member
(Event includes wines and appetizers)
Book by January 15 to avoid disappointment.


Our Guest Speaker:

Paul Watkin
Past SWWS Cellarmaster and wine educator

In South America, countries vie for the Copa Sudamericana trophy. With Australian Rules Football you have the Premiership Cup. South Africa participates in the Standard Bank Cup for cricket. New Zealand has the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy for cricket. In keeping with this competitive vein, we will have the South World Wine Society’s SIXTH Annual Five Nations Cup.

This blind tasting consist of a red and a white flight of wine. Each flight will include a one red varietal and one red varietal from each of the 5 southern hemisphere nations. It will be a hotly contested battle with your votes determining the winner.

There are sure to be some surprises. So come out and kick off 2011 by tasting some great wines from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Chile and Argentina.

As this is a BLIND wine tasting, the wines will be revealed AFTER we vote for our favorites, so you will not see the wine list in our announcement. As usual, along with these wines we will be providing a great selection of appetizers.

To REGISTER for our TASTING EVENT via CREDIT CARD click here: “Five Nations Cups”.  (Click here for Mail-in Registration.)

Wines of South Africa Event in Vancouver

I received this note from the Wines of South Africa (WOSA) and I thought I’d pass it along to you. In celebration of the World Cup happening in South Africa, South African wines are going to be celebrated as well in June. Below is the note I received. I hope you get a chance to try some South African wines during the World Cup. South Africa is known as the Old World of the New World. Their wines have the “fruit” that you associate with other New World wines, like from California or Chile, but they also have some of the restraint, tannic structure, and earthiness of Old World wines, such as from France and Spain. There are some excellent producers in the list of wines below, such as Boekenhoutskloof, Graham Beck, and Glen Carlou. Enjoy the World Cup!

The Announcement from WOSA:
On Friday, June 11th 2010, a unique South African wine tasting will be held at the 39th & Cambie Signature Liquor Store. Open to the public, this event will sample high quality and value of South African wines paired with savoury bites and a complimentary mini spa. The food will be prepared by Hart House Restaurant’s Kris Kabush and the complimentary mini spa treatments are from Spa Utopia.

The event at 39th & Cambie will feature a dozen stellar wines:

Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon 111526 $ 12.99
Sebeka Cabernet/Pinotage 793067 $ 12.99
Spier Chenin Blanc 659037 $ 13.95
K.W.V. Roodeberg Red 7187 $ 14.99
Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap 138479 $ 14.99
Excelsior Shiraz 183995 $ 15.99
Bellingham Sauvignon Blanc / Chardonnay 848622 $ 14.99
Boekenhoutskloof Porcupine Ridge Syrah 592873 $ 17.99
Saxenburg Guinea Fowl Red Blend 316992 $ 18.99
Graham Beck Game Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 40428 $ 19.99
Glen Carlou Grand Classique 153882 $ 19.99
Thelema Mountain Red Wine 487967 $ 24.95

These wines will be shown to their best advantage paired with tasty bites prepared by Hart House’s talented Executive Chef, Kris Kabush. In addition to indulging their tastebuds, guests can also enjoy an onsite spa experience from Vancouver ’s much-loved Spa Utopia. Spa Technicians will give each guest a relaxing five-minute mini treatment. The combination of good wine, savoury food, and a turn in a massage chair is sure to help iron the wrinkles out of your day!

In conjunction with the month-long promotion, Wines of South Africa is also offering a deluxe prize package featuring Spa Utopia and the Pan Pacific Vancouver. The winner will enjoy a $225 spa gift certificate, lunch for two, and one night’s accommodation at the luxurious Pan Pacific all valued at $1000.

For details, and to enter the draw, visit http://www.wosa.co.za.

Wines of South Africa Consumer Tasting

Friday, June 11 2010

3:00 – 7:00 pm

BCLDB 39th & Cambie Signature Liquor Store

5555 Cambie Street, Vancouver

South World Wine Society’s 5th Annual 5 Nations Cup

One of my favorite wine events is coming up on January 14, 2010. It is the South World Wine Society’s “5 Nations Cup“. It is a blind wine tasting. We select a red and a white wine from each of the 5 southern hemisphere countries: Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa. In the previous years, Australia and Chile have split the glamour of winning the 5 Nations Cup.

This year we are having a signature red and white varietal from each country. It is fun to see if people can, for example, blindly tell the difference between a Malbec and a Shiraz, or between a Chenin Blanc and a Chardonnay. There are usually lots of theories amongst the tasters as to which glass has which wine in it. I’m disqualified from guessing as I help to select the wine, but it is still educational for me to taste the wines and make my own notes.

If you are in the Vancouver area, i’d like to suggest for u to sign up to this tasting. It is really fun. It is also an idea for a Christmas gift if you have a friend or family member that likes wine. There will also be appetizers so that you can enjoy the wine with food too. Sometimes you will find that you like a certain wine more with food.

I hope to see you there. You can register online at http://www.southworldwine.com

The Globe in Your Glass Media Tasting

This evening in support of Canuck Place, was the Globe in Your Glass tasting, with wineries from around the world. There was also a Media component, which usually has a person telling you something about the wines for the evening, BUT this evening was different. We were presented with 15 wines (8 white and 7 red) that were poured into carafes. Our task as Media was to taste each wine and guess the winery that produced it and the varietal or blend. We did get a hint for each wine, but it was still really hard. Also, all the wines were under $20, so good value.

The wines were of course unveiled at the end and the person(s) with the most right guesses, wins. Believe it or not, yours truly guessed the most correct wines. The wines we had to guess were:
– Hardys Stamp of Australia Riesling Gewurztraminer 2008 ($10.49)
– Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Gewurztraminer 2007 ($12.99) *
– Nk-Mip Cellars Pinot Blanc 2007 ($17.01)

– Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi S
auvignon Blanc 2008 ($9.99)
– Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($15.99) *
– Banrock Station Unwooded Chardonnay 2007 ($11.99)
– Jackson-Triggs Esprit VQA Chardonnay 2007 ($12.99)

– Inniskillin Okanagan Dark Horse Chardonnay 2005 ($19.99) *

– See Ya Later Ranch Unleashed Pinot Noir 2007 ($17.99) *

– Hogue Cellars Genesis Merlot 2004 ($19.99)

– Clos du Bois Merlot 2005 ($19.99)
Barossa Valley Estates E-Minor Shiraz 2008 ($19.99)
– Hardys Chronicles “Butcher’s Gold” Shiraz Sangiovese 2007 ($16.95) *

– Robert Mondavi Private Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($19.99)

– Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2006 ($19.99) *

The easiest for me to guess was the Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc, the See Ya Later Ranch Pinot Noir, and the Ravenswood Zinfandel. The toughest was the Nk’Mip Cellars Pinot Blanc and the Hardys Chronicles “Butcher’s Gold” Shiraz Sangiovese.

The ones I enjoyed the most I put a “*” beside in case you are looking for a tasty wine under $20. Enjoy.