TWB Bursting with Bubbles for Champagne Day

If you enjoy Champagne, you may want to know that October 19 is Global Champagne Day.  TWB at Provence Marinaside is celebrating with Champagne of course.  Here are the details.

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(Vancouver, BC) – As novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald once said “too much of anything is bad, but too much champagne is just right.” How lucky for us that October 19 is Global Champagne Day  – a day to raise a glass of the quintessential wine of celebration.  According to TWB-The Wine Bar’s Wine Director Joshua Carlson, “Bubbles turn any occasion, whether meeting friends after work or dropping by after the game, into a mini-celebration. They’re also very food friendly and go with everything from brunch to oysters to popcorn.”
Where better to celebrate Global Champagne Day than at TWB –The Wine Bar  and Provence Marinaside where they have 35 different bubbles on their wine list including 17 French champagnes. Prices for bottles range from $45 – $1,750.  If a bottle seems like too much of a good thing, you can always indulge your champagne passion with a glass or two. TWB has the largest selection of bubbles by the glass (35) including 17 French champagnes ranging from $28 for glass of Marie Demets Tradition Brut to $110 for the Louis Roederer Cristal if you are feeling very extravagant. Of course there are always non-champagne bubble options starting from $8 a glass./$45 bottle.
 In honour of Global Champagne Day, TWB and Provence Marinaside will be offering 25 percent off all bubbles (both glasses and bottles) on Friday, October 19. If you can’t make it in, they’ll be offering the same discount for their regular Sparkling Saturday the following day.

“Everything is better with bubbles… life itself feels a little brighter when you’re sipping something sparkling. It’s going to be a lot of fun offering so many selections to our guests. Our wonderful patio, the view over-looking the Marina, and a glass of bubbles, is just about perfect when it comes to making your day exceptional,” concludes Carlson.

And don’t forget, Provence’s special three-course Taste of Yaletown menu starts this Thursday, giving you another tasty reason to drop by.

Whether you are in a celebratory mood, need a pick-me-up, or looking to unwind after work, TWB-The Wine Bar and next door Provence Marinaside have you covered this coming weekend.

All photos by Emrys Horton

Almost Last Minute Christmas Holiday Wine Picks 2011

There are less than 2 weeks to Christmas now. Maybe you are starting to think about Christmas gifts, or inviting family and friends over to your place for a nice dinner, or you received a dinner invitation? What wines to gift or serve?

I went through the list of all the wines I tasted in 2011 and have a few suggestions for you.

Some Favourite Sparkling Wines for 2011

  • Oyster Bay Brut and Rose sparkling wines

    Perrier Jouet Grand Brut N/V, France. This is also a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Pale lemon in colour.  Light lees and toast on the nose. Light body with apples and white fruit.  Small bubbles with lower acidity.  I really enjoyed this one in part due to the lower acidity which made this Champagne very easy to drink on its own.

  • Bastianich Flor Prosecco, Italy ($19.99).  A delightful wine with melon and lychee aromas. Off dry, light body, with cinnamon, citrus and peach flavours.  Small bubble.  This is such a fun wine. Start a party with this wine.
  • Champagne de Venoge Cordon Bleu Brut Select NV, France ($62.99). This Champagne is a blend of 2/3 PinotNoir and Pinot Meunier (both red grapes), and 1/3 Chardonnay. Light lemon in colour.  Nice medium toasty nose.  Medium acidity and body.  Citrus, some spice and toasty flavours on the palate.
  • Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvee Brut N/V, New Zealand ($24.99). I was really surprised by this wine.  It won me over with it’s fresh fruit flavours. Light citrus and stone fruit on the nose.  Lots of flavour in your mouth with citrus, lime, kiwi fruit, and herbal flavours. Small bubble with medium acidity.
  • Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Blanc, 2008, California. Light lemon colour.  Vanilla and spice on the nose.  High acid with small bubbles.  Lemons and green apples greet your tongue. A very nice, elegant dry sparkling wine.

Some Favourite White Wines for 2011

  • Stags Hollow Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc 2010

    Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay 2009, California.  This is a single vineyard wine.  Medium lemon in colour with tropical fruit and some toasty aromas. Medium body and very soft mouth feel (really silky). Some vanilla and tropical fruit flavours.  Really nice.

  • Waterstone Chardonnay, 2009, California. This is my favourite white wine of the night.  Not a typical Napa Chardonnay.  This wine had a medium pear colour.  Vanilla and bartlett pear aromas. Medium body, soft and round mouthfeel.  Cinnamon and tropical fruit flavours with light acidity.  Nice and fruity, some vanilla with a long dry finish.
  • Stags Hollow Viognier 2010, BC. One of my favourite wines of the tasting. This Viognier was pale in colour with some sweetness, orange, and flower aromas. Very pretty. Tropical fruit and cinnamon flavours.  Medium body.
  • Tantalus Vineyards Riesling 2010, BC. Their Riesling is always on my favourite list. This one is no exception.  It has light lemon, lychee and flowers on the nose.  Off dry, with high acidity to make your mouth water for more.  Red apples and lemon flavours.  Excitement in a glass.
  • Thornhaven Estates Winery Pinot Gris 2010, BC. I think there is something specific about the terroir for this wine that makes this Pinot Gris have a wonderful grapefruit nose and flavour.  I haven’t seen this in other Okanagan Pinot Gris. Pale lemon in colour with red grapefruit nose. Flowery with citrus, grapefruit flavours. Yum.
  • Graffigna Grand Reserve Torrontes 2010 (Argentina). Torrontes is the signature white grape of Argentina.  Very aromatic and a good change from Gewurztraimer or Viognier. Light lemon coloured. Lychee and perfumy nose.  Light body, round, with medium acidity.  Lychee, apricot and cinnamon flavours. Very tasty with a long spicy finish.
  • Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Gewurztraminer 2007 (France). I love Alsatian wines, and was really looking forward to Pfaffenheim’s wines. Medium lemon colour.  Wonderful lychee nose with a slight touch of sweet spice. Full body. Off dry with lower acidity.  Round mouthfeel with lychee, apricot and flowery flavours.  Very nice.

Some Favourite Red Wines for 2011

  • Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005

    Kim Crawford Small Parcel “The-Rise-and-Shine” Creek Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007, New Zealand. Central Otago, is inland in the South Island.  The cooler climate allows these grapes have a long hang time and smaller berries, which gives a higher skin to pulp ratio, and more intense, riper, fruit flavours.  Medium purple in the glass with ripe purple fruit and vanilla aromas.  Ripe fruit, cassis, plums and vanilla on the palate.  Medium body and medium length.  Very nice.

  • Vina Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005, Chile. Pehuen Carmenere is a premium wine from Vina Santa Rita.  Opaque purple in the glass. Dark fruit nose with a whiff of capsicum. Full bodied but with soft tannins.  Ripe black cherries, vanilla and spice on the palate.  A very long length.  Here is a Carmenere you should try.
  • Dusted Valley Grenache, Columbia Valley 2009, Washington. This was such a wonderful wine.  Just the right balance of fruit, tannins, and acidity.  The wine was medium garnet in colour.  Cherry, vanilla and smoky aromas.  Raspberry, cherry, and vanilla on the palate.  Medium bodied with a raspberry finish.
  • 1884 Reservado Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Argentina ($16.99).  This was my red wine deal of the wine tasting. Drink now. Raspberry and cocoa on the nose.  Full body with full ripe cherries and raspberries.  Juicy!  Long finish.
  • Desert Hills Syrah 2007, BC.  Another one of my favourites of the tasting. Almost opaque ruby in colour. Smoky, meaty, and dark fruit nose. Full body, dry tannins, with dark fruit spice and vanilla flavours.  Enjoy this big wine with a nice roast over the winter.
  • Ogier Crozes Hermitage, Les Brunnelles 2008, France ($25.99). This is a Rhone Valley wine. The Rhone Valley produces some fabulous Syrah, and this is one of them. I really liked the aromas of this wine of cassis and plums. Full body with cassis, raspberry, cherry and oak flavours.  Low tannins helped make this wine very approachable.
  • Finca Las Moras Intis Malbec 2010, Argentina. This wine was the surprise wine of the evening.  It is priced at $8.99, and over delivers. Pale ruby colour.  Light aromas of grilled sausage and dark fruit. Medium plus body with medium acidity.  Vanilla, cherry, raspberry and sausage flavours all together. Lots of nice flavours.  Dry with soft tannins.

Some Favourite Fortified Wines

  • Sogrape Vinhos Ferreira 20-Year-Old Duque de Braganca (Portugal). Light tawny colour in the glass. Ripe sweet fruit and Malmsey Madeira nose.  Round mouthfeel, medium sweetness. Apples, plums, chocolate and spice. Nice.
  • Fonseca N/V Terra Prima Organic Port ($31.99).  Rich black fruit nose.  Medium body in your mouth.  Spicy with plums, cherries, and chocolate flavours.  Medium sweetness. Very nice.
  • Mount Baker Vineyards Late Harvest Viognier 2007, Washington (US$20 for a half bottle). Deep lemon in colour.  Pretty nose with peaches, oranges and honey. Unctus in your mouth. Sweet with honey, honeydew melon, and peach flavours. Good acidity to balance this wine. A wonderful wine. Highly recommended to top off a nice meal with family or friends.
  • Fonseca 20 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal ($63.99).  A tawny port is aged in wooden barrels, which exposes the wine to oxygen causing oxidation. As a result, these wines  gradually turn to a golden-brown colour. The exposure to oxygen also imparts “nutty” flavours to the wine. This wine had caramel and roses aromas in the glass.  Amazing flavour with sweet spices, nuttiness and butterscotch.  Sweet but dry with a long length.  I REALLY liked this wine.

There are many more in my archives, so please check there as well for a specific varietal or style. www.mywinepal.com and of course the blog right here!  Cheers and Happy Holidays to all my friends, near and far.

Valentine’s Day, Aphrodisiacs, and Wine

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. A nice dinner with special wine and food with your significant other i’m sure would be greatly appreciated. But what wine and food to serve?

There are many foods that are purported to be an aphrodisiac:

  • oysters on the half shell,
  • asparagus,
  • cheese, and
  • chocolate.

There are more, but i’ll give you a bit of info on these and some pairings you may want to consider. Oysters are an aphrodisiac due to their shape similar to a woman’s genitals, but also because they contain zinc which which promotes well being. Try pairing oysters with some bubble. You may enjoy:

  • Moreson, Blanc de Blancs Brut Method Cap Classic, South Africa. This is 100% Chardonnay. A very fine bubble. Red apple, citrus, light spice and bready flavour. Long finish. Nice.
  • Cuillier Pere et Fils, Brut Selection Pinot Noir / Chardonnay, France. Fine bubble with green apple and pear aromas. Lemon and pear flavours. This wine was like enjoying a fresh pear. Very tasty!

The asparagus of course visually is a phallic symbol, and visual excitement can be part of being an aphrodisiac. Try pairing it with:

  • Cremaschi Furlotti Pinot Noir from Chile. A wonderful bouquet of violets. Light bodied with some acidity. The floweriness of the Pinot Noir grape is an aphrodisiac in itself.
  • Miguel Torres Cabernet Sauvignon Rose, also from Chile. This one has a bouquet of cherries, which continues on the palate. Some spiciness and a balance of acidity with sweetness.

In European culture, cheese is said by some to resemble the scent of a woman. Italian culture views cheese as an aphrodisiac, much like chocolate. Some cheeses would be a fresh goat cheese, a brie/camembert, and maybe a bit stronger cheese such as a Quebec Oka. Remember that cheese right out of the fridge has little aroma. Leave the cheese out for a few hours so that it warms up and those aphrodisiac aromas can come out. A few wines:

  • Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose from South Africa. Mulderbosch rose shows some typical cabernet flavours and aromas, but without the big tannins that one get with a red wine.
  • Amayna Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. Citrus and tropical fruit flavours with some oakiness on the bouquet due to barrel fermentation. The wine had a very round mouthfeel with just the right amount of acidity to cut through the fat in the cheese.

Chocolate contains both a sedative, which relaxes and lowers inhibitions, and a stimulant to increase activity and the desire for physical contact. A red wine and/or a dessert red wine would go well here.

  • Buller Old Fine Muscat, Rutherglen, Australia (dessert wine). Medium dark amber-coloured Muscat has aromas of toffee and marmalade. This Muscat has enough body and flavour to balance with the richness of chocolate (and chocolate cake)
  • Poplar Grove Merlot, British Columbia 2005. Light garnet in colour. Cherry, cassis and leather nose. Big cherry flavour with some vanilla. Medium tannin and length.

I find that the roundness and fruitiness of Merlot and it’s softer tannins make it a nice varietal to pair with chocolate. In my opinion 72% cocoa is about the right amount of cocoa for me. When you get into the 90% range, it gets a bit gritty.

I hope you are able to find some inspiration in these suggestions. Enjoy Valentine’s Day!

Vinho Verde tasting at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival

March 31, 2009 05:05:33
Posted By Wine With Karl

This was my last official tasting of the wine festival, and I would say it was a very interesting and tasty tasting! Our speaker was DJ Kerney a wine educator, caterer, chef, sommelier and more. DJ talked to us about Vinho Verde, “Green Wine” from the northwest corner of Portugal. These wines were all very refreshing, good acidity and fruit. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, but want something slightly different with a bit of bubble then try Vinho Verde.

The wines were tried on their own first, and then with some excellent appetizers, skillfully produced by Blair Rasmussen, the executive chef for the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Our wines were:
1. Vinho Verde Gatao N/V ($10.99 in BC)
2. Arca Nova Rose 2007
3. Arca Nova Loureiro 2007
4. Quinta de Simaens 2007
5. Quinta de Linhares Avesso 2007
6. Alvarinho Quinta do Regueiro 2007

Our appetizers were:
1. Sake Braised Japanese Eggplant Salad, with Crispy Garlic and Handmade Fresh Wasabi
2. Steamed Island Scallop with Portuguese Chorizo Piperade and Scallop Roe
3. Lemon Grass Chicken with Wild Prawn Sate and Thai Red Curry Sauce
4. Salt Cod “Bolinhos”, Roma Tomato and White Truffle Oil

The first wine was a non-vintage wine, but was quite refreshing and a great deal at $10.99. A great patio wine and one that went well with the eggplant, scallop and lemon grass chicken. The Vinho Verde Gatao had lemon, orange, yeast and some sweetness on the nose. Good acidity with more bright orange and lemon flavour.

The Arca Nova Rose is a “rose”. Most people think of white wine from this region but it also produces red and rose wines. This rose had citrus, strawberry and raspberry aromas. Good acid as well, with apple and citrus flavours.

Also from Arca was the Lureiro (Lureiro is a native grape variety. Portugal has LOTS of native grape varieties with hard to pronounce names). I enjoyed this one as it had a tangerine and lime aromas, which continued on the palate, and good acidity. No flabby wines anywhere in this lineup. This paired nicely with the lemon grass chicken and the eggplant.

The Quinta de Simaens was a blend of a few white grapes; arinto, avesso, and trajadura. Pale lemon green colour. Flowery, apple, and citrus aromas. Less acid than the others, but nicely smooth, with apple and citrus flavours. This wine paired best with the eggplant as the eggplant was very smooth and this wine was smooth. Similar with the Salt Cod Bolinhos.

The Quinta de Linhares Avesso had a light aroma, bright acidity with apple and flower flavours.

Our final wine was the Alvarinho Quinta do Regueiro. If you like sauvignon blanc, this one smells and tastes very similar. On the nose you get lots of gooseberry and lemon aroma. On the palate, good acid, some smoothness and oiliness. I thougt it went well with the scallop and the salt cod.

The nice thing about Vinho Verde not being too well known as you can buy them for all probably under $20 according to the people speaking at the event. Enjoy!