Enjoy Chilean Wine at the BC Hospitality Foundation Dish & Dazzle

On Friday, June 17, 2011, you will be able to sample some fantastic wines from Chile, and help support the BC Hospitality Foundation’s Dish & Dazzle. What is the BC Hospitality Foundation?  The Foundation was formed in 2006 to help wine agent Michael J. Willingham pay for a costly surgery and subsequent rehabilitation following a stroke. Michael’s situation highlighted the need to establish a trust fund that could be used as a last-resort safety net for other industry members in need – who may or may not have benefits, be covered by employment insurance, or require assistance beyond traditional medical benefits. The Foundation benefits will cover people in the industry – food suppliers, hoteliers, media, publicists, retailers, vintners and wine sales representatives (from BCHR website).

The Dish & Dazzle is one of their fundraising efforts. The location will be the fabulous Fairmont Pacific Rim in downtown Vancouver. The schedule will include :

  • wines from 25 Chilean wineries with each pouring up to five different wines at their table,
  • four focus stations highlighting Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Carmenere & organic wine
  • food from 12 fine restaurants,
  • an exciting “sour” themed cocktail competition,
  • live entertainment and
  • silent auction

Dish n’Dazzle, will be a showcase for Vancouver’s dynamic hospitality industry. Restaurants, wineries and premium liquors will be featured in the main “tasting room” and guests will move from station to station in an interactive, informal setting.

If you have never tasted Carmenere wine before, this would be a good introduction.  Carmenere is a “forgotten” grape, originally from Bordeaux, France, but loves the climate of Chile and has become Chile’s signature red grape!  It has been mistaken in the past in Chile for Merlot.  Carmenere is dark red in colour with cherries and red fruit flavours, spice and sometimes a bit of green pepper.  The tannins are soft, making this wine easy to drink.  It goes well with BBQ so think about buying some carmenere for summer.  Here are some Carmenere that I have reviewed in the past:

  • 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.
  • Vina Errazuriz Max Reserva Carmenere 2007  (Chile). This wine spent 12 months oak aging. 2007 is the first vintage for the vines selected for this wine. It had a deep purple color in the glass. Cassis, smoke, black cherry, and oak on the nose. Black cherries, vanilla and cassis flavours. Smooth tannins. It had a long length, with a spice and red cherry finish. Highly recommended.
  • Montes Alpha Carmenere 2007 (Chile). This wine was deep purple in the glass. Capsicum, back fruit and vanilla aromas. On the palate I tasted red and black cherries, vanilla and a slight hint of capsicum. This wine had a soft, round mouth feel and a long length.
  • Viu Manent Reserva Carmenere 2008 (Chile). Deep purple colour in the glass. Vanilla, black fruits and a slight hint of capsicum on the nose. It was quite round in the mouth, with vanilla and ripe black fruit flavours, and a peppery finish.

In case you didn’t know, the theme country for next year’s Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is Chile, so come out to this event, and get a sneak peek at what you can expect next year, and maybe find a few new favorites for this summer!

Here is the website for tickets for the BC Hospitality Foundation Dish & Dazzle. Enjoy!

Wine for Easter

Spring flowers for EasterEaster is a big holiday for many of us, where we get together with family and enjoy a big Easter dinner. Easter is also leading us into spring. Flowers are already blooming here in Vancouver, and I’m sure it will come soon in the rest of Canada.

Ham, roast chicken or turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and vegetables are traditional dishes for many people’s Easter dinner. But maybe you are wondering what wine(s) to serve? Before starting dinner you may want to consider something sparkling? An easy to sip wine would be an Italian prosecco or a Moscato. These wines tend to be quite reasonably priced. Mionetto Prosecco FrizzanteEmotivo Prosecco, or Batasiolo Moscato D’Asti are three Italian wines you may want to consider.

For the main course, a roasted ham, if you are a red wine person, you could try a Pinot Noir or a Gamay (the most famous being Beaujolais). Serve slightly chilled. Here in North America, you could go with a Pinot Noir from British Columbia, such as the Quails Gate Okanagan Valley Pinot Noir. A Gamay such as Georges Duboeuf Brouilly, France would also be nice. The Gamay would also work with turkey.

Spierhead Chardonnay

What if you prefer white wine? Then I would suggest a riesling. The Kettle Valley Winery Riesling 2008 (BC) has a bit of residual sugar with some apple, flower and citrus aromas, and apple with a bit of petrol flavours, or on the organic side, Kalala Organic Estate Winery Riesling 2008 also from BC. If you prefer a drier riesling, how about the Plantagenet Great Southern Riesling 2008 from Australia? Quite minerally. Light green and petrol aromas. Apple and citrus flavours.

For roast chicken or turkey, there is Pinot Noir, as mentioned earlier. A lightly oaked Chardonnay would also work well. The oakiness and butteriness from some secondary malolactic ferementation would make the Chardonnay nice and round in your mouth to complement the richness of your roast chicken or turkey. If you would like to support Chilean wineries, after the earthquake, you may want to try the Carmen Nativa Vineyards Chardonnay (organic) or the Vina Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay from Chile. The Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay is always a winner for me. From my last tasting notes, I noted 100% barrel fermented in French oak for 9-10 months. 1/3 of wine goes through malolactic fermentation to add some extra body and butteriness. Full lemony colour. Lots of vanilla, caramel and tropical fruit on the nose. Very aromatic. Medium-full body, with tropical fruit and vanilla flavour. Has some acidity and slight spiciness to balance the creaminess. An excellent wine.  A BC selection would be Spierhead Winery Chardonnay 2010. Their chardonnay is creamy with lots of vanilla and tropical fruit aromas and flavours.  Enjoy juicy fruit flavours in your mouth with medium acidity to keep it refreshing.

I hope some of these wines give you ideas for what to serve with your Easter family meal. Enjoy!

Chile Day 6 – Errazuriz

Chile Day 6. Today I visited one of the largest wineries in Chile, Errazuriz. Errazuriz is located in the Aconcagua Valley, north of Santiago. I was first met by Mr. Pedro Olivia Farias in Public Relations who showed me part of the vineyard, plus their winery processing facilities. It was very informative. Pedro showed me the upgrades that Errazuriz has done to the winery, and changes upcoming to make it more sustainable. Gravity fed, using thermal heating from the ground, natural lighting and more. He also provided me a brief history of the Errazuriz winery, which started in the late 1880’s up to today. Today the winery is completely owned by 4 family members. He also described to me the different wineries owned by Errazuriz, which include Arboleda, Sena, and Caliterra, and the different emphasis of each winery. I found out that Canada is the 2nd largest market to Errazuriz, behind the UK. That was quite amazing.

After the tour by Pedro, I was handed over to winemaker, Mr. Rodrigo Zamorano. Rodrigo spent a lot of time with me and went into much depth about the Aconcagua Valley and each of the 9 different wines we sampled together. Errazuriz is the largest winery in the Aconcagua Valley and is the only valley to have a continuous valley up to the Andes. This allows the coastal fogs to reach far in land moderating the temperatures in the Aconcagua Valley. He also mentioned that they started a new vineyard area called Manzanar near the coast in the Aconcagua Valley where they are trying white varietals plus pinot noir. They are just starting to produce wines from this area so time will tell which varietals produce the wines up to their standards.

As i mentioned, I tried 8 different wines, from the Estate Level, Reserve Level, and their top level wine, Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve. To keep this blog brief, I will tell you about one white and one red I enjoyed, and then provide the full tastings notes when i am back in Canada. For the white wine, I enjoyed their 2007 Wild Ferment Chardonnay from the Casablanca Valley. This is a 100% barrel fermented wine, using all French oak. One third of the wine went through malolactic fermentation to provide a more round mouthfeel and butteriness. I’ve tried this wine in the past in Vancouver, and enjoyed it this time with the wine maker Rodrigo. The wine had lots of vanilla, caramel and tropical fruit on the nose. Very aromatic. Full bodied, with tropical fruit and vanilla flavours. Very smooth, but still had some acid to balance it. It had a long length with a spicy finish. Rodrigo suggested aging it for a year to integrate more in the bottle, but I thought it was fine already.

For the red wine, I enjoyed the 2007 Max Reserva Carmenere from the Aconcagua Valley. This wine spent 12 months oak aging. 2007 is the first vintage for the vines selected for this wine. It had a deep purple color in the glass. Cassis, smoke, black cherry, and oak on the nose. Black cherries, vanilla and cassis flavours. Smooth tannins. It had a long length, with a spice and red cherry finish. Highly recommended.

That is all for now. Tomorrow is visiting the Maipo Valley. Three wineries in one day. Should be a big day. Saludos!