Preview of Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I last blogged. I’ve been busy the last 2 weeks volunteering at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, but now that this is over, I can dedicate myself to tasting wine, and giving you some insights on great wines and great wine events.

This evening I was privileged to try a range of wines from New Zealand and Argentina. These are the theme countries for the upcoming Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, which will be held in late April this year. BTW, if you don’t have tickets yet for any tastings, you better hurry up as many events sell out fast. The web link to the Playhouse International Wine Festival is:
http://playhousewinefest.com/

I tried over 40 wines and found some really nice ones for you. I will have tasting notes for all the wines on www.MyWinePal.com over the next few days, but in the meantime, enjoy these few wines. I do not know if these wines are currently available in BC, but they will for sure be available in the BC Liquor store at the Playhouse International Wine Festival.

New Zealand is well known for their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, but pay attention to their Viognier, Pinot Gris, and Merlot. The Jackson Estate Stich Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Marlborough, NZ) is a very elegant wine. Oak, lemon and herbal on the nose. Big legs from a higher alcohol content, but the wine is balanced by the fruit so not hot on the palate. It does have nice herbal and lemon flavours with good acidity, not too strong. If you prefer a higher acid Sauvignon Blanc, you may want to try the Giesen “The Brothers” Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008. This wine has a tomato leaf aroma, higher acid, with herbal flavour. A traditional NZ Sauv Blanc.

There was 16 different NZ Pinot Noirs to taste at this event from all regions. There were several “wild” Central Otago pinots. One I enjoyed was the Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008. Light to medium cherry colour in the glass. A range of smoky, cherry, and leafy aromas. Wild flavours on your palate with cherry, oak and strawberry flavours. Another pinot I liked was the Two Paddocks Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007. This one was medium garnet in colour. Smoky, raspberry and cherry on those nose. Ripe fruit and raspberry flavours. Medium acidity and body, with a smoky finish. Enjoy with grilled lamb chops!

Crossing the Pacific Ocean we reach South America, and Argentina. Argentina is well-known for their Torrontes and Malbec wines, and today did not disappoint. The Bodega Tapiz Torrontes 2009 is a nice understated wine. Some Torrontes can be too fruit forward. This one has the fruit aromatics but doesn’t overpower you, and would be a nice accompaniment with food. This wine had a light lychee and rose nose. On the palate there was nutmeg, rose and lychee flavours. A premium wine producer in Argentina is Bodega Catena Zapata. I was able to enjoy their Alta Malbec 2006. This wine is opaque purple in the glass. Vanilla, black currant and red cherry aromas make an interesting nose. On the palate there is vanilla, cherry, black currant and ripe fruit flavours. The tannins were medium yet smooth. You can’t go wrong with this wine. A blend that caught my eye and tastebuds was the MASI Tupungato Corbec 2007. This is a mix of 70% Corvina and 30% Malbec. It is made with partially dried grapes, with the drying process concentrating the flavours of the grapes. This wine has a light cherry nose, but very full body and lots of ripe dark fruit and cherries and high tannins. You would need a nice grilled roast or hearty stew to tame the tannins right now, but it is overall a very enjoyable wine.

That’s all for now. I hope you enjoy these wines and the upcoming Playhouse International Wine Festival.

MASI Tupungato Passo Doble 2007

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} catch(err) {}I was intrigued when I first heard of this wine for a few reasons. First it is by the large Italian winery MASI. Second it uses Corvina, an Italian grape, not common in Argentina. Third it uses the process of drying the Corvina grapes (concentrating the juice and sugars) and then fermenting them with the Malbec grapes (a double fermentation). Fourth, Passo Doble is a very macho bullfighting dance from Spain, so I was expecting this to be a very macho wine.

For those that have not heard of, or tried wines from MASI, here is a bit of info. The Boscaini family have been the owners of the Masi vineyards for six generations, starting in the 18th century. They started in the Venetian region and expanded to the Tuscany region. They then crossed contients and started a winery in Argentina. Most people probably know Masi for their Amarone wines, especially COSTASERA AMARONE CLASSICO. This wine is made of a mix of three grapes, Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara, which are dried on straw or bamboo mats before fermenting. You can expect from this wine to be dark red, and have a bouquet of baked fruit, plums and cherries, and a follow through of these flavours on the palate along with coffee and cocoa. Enjoy it with a hearty Italian pasta or meat dish.

And some info about the two grape varieties. Malbec is a grape used in Bordeaux, but never reached prominent status as it needs lots of heat to mature, and Bordeaux did not get hot enough, often enough. But Argentina, and in particular Mendoza, does have nice hot weather so that Malbec can fully ripen. The Malbec grape was brought from France to Argentina in the mid 1900s. It is now the signature RED grape of Argentina. The wines from this grape are typically deep purple in the glass, with plum and other dark fruit flavours and aromas. Sometimes some chocolate notes too.

The Corvina grape comes from the northeast part of Italy and is one of three grapes that go into Valpolicella. The grape has high acidity and sour cherry flavour and produces a light-medium bodied wine on it’s own.

So how was the MASI Tupungato Passo Doble 2007 from Argentina? It was a bright purple in the glass. The purple to me coming from the Malbec grape. It had a very smoky, rustic aroma, but behind that was cherry, leather, menthol and cinnamon. On the palate, there was smoke, chocolate, sour cherry, some spice and a green herbal edge. There was not much tannins. It was a bit hot but had a slightly sweet finish, which could be a result of the dried Corvina grapes. There was also a fair bit of acidity which would have been from the Corvina grapes. I’d rate this wine in the interesting category. I’d suggest enjoying this wine with food, and not drinking it on it’s own. You need some food to be a foil for the high acid in this wine.

The price in the BCLDB is regular $15.99 but right now is discounted to $14.99 (save $1).
Corvina Grapes on Foodista