Highlights from the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fest – Day 2

The second day from the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is now finished.  A lot of wine again today to taste.  But still probably more than half the wines haven’t yet been tasted.  I did visit many nice wineries and tasted some interesting wines from around the world today.  As I had mentioned in my previous blog article, today I would taste wines from the rest of the world, and then at the end try some Spanish wines I had missed.

Again to keep things brief, here is my 2nd list of recommended wines to try at the #VPIWF.  After the festival is over, I’ll post full tasting notes for these wines and others that I have tried on www.MyWinePal.com. The wines below range from white, red, sparkling, and fortified.

Recommended wines:

  • Babich East Coast Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand)
  • Vina Cobos Bramare Malbec 2008 (Argentina)
  • Decero Malbec, Remolinos Vineyard 2009 (Argentina)
  • Decero Cabernet Sauvignon, Remolinos Vineyard 2008 (Argentina)
  • Graffigna Grand Reserve Torrontes 2010 (Argentina)
  • Graffigna Centenario Reserve Malbec 2009 (Argentina)
  • Vina Santa Rita Medalla Real Pinot Noir 2008 (Chile)
  • Vina Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005 (Chile)
  • Cave de Tain Crozes Hermitage Red Les Hauts du Fief 2007 (France)
  • Cave de Tain Saint Joseph Red Esprit de Granit 2007 (France)
  • Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Gewurztraminer 2007 (France)
  • Pierre Sparr Mambourg Pinot Gris 2008 (France)
  • Schloss Reinhartshausen Prinz VVN Preussen Rielsing Off-Dry 2009 (Germany)
  • Ca’ Del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvee Prestige (Italy)
  • Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand)
  • Man O’War Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (New Zealand)
  • Fonseca Guimaraens 10 Year Tawny Port (Portugal)
  • Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Vanzeller 10-Year-Old Tawny Port (Portugal)
  • Sogrape Vinhos Callabriga Dao Reserva 2005 (Portugal)
  • Sogrape Vinhos Ferreira 20-Year-Old Duque de Braganca (Portugal)
  • Champagne Lallier Rose (France)
  • Joseph Drouhin Chablis Premier Cru 2009 (France)
  • Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2008 (Canada)
  • Juan Gil Monastrell 2010 (Spain)
  • Bodegas Abanico Mencia 2007 (Spain)
  • Bodgeas Abanico Tinta de Toro Eternum Viti 2008 (Spain)
  • Bodegas Abanico Tinta de Toro Los Colmillos 2008 (Spain)
  • Gonzalez Byass Croft, Pale Cream Sherry (Spain)
  • Zuccardi Series A Torrontes 2010 (Argentina)
  • Bodegas San Valero Monte Ducay Cava Brut (Spain)

That is a lot of recommendations, and a lot of wines to try in one day.  There were many more that are also good, but did not make the list.  I wish I had another day or two so that I could try the rest of the wines from the Festival.

Today’s agenda for me is New Zealand Perfect Parings, Good Gracious Grenache seminar, and Cinq a Sept French wines.  Check back tomorrow for a short article on these.  Enjoy the remainder of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, and remember to check out the Vancouver Playhouse and what they have to offer!  Support the arts.

Naramata Bench Spring Wine Release 2010

Just a week before the huge Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival opens, I attended a much more low-key, but very enjoyable, event: the Naramata Bench Spring Wine Release 2010.

This is the second time I’ve attended this event. Last year I came upon a new winery to me called, Van Westen Vineyards, where their wines beguiled me. So this year, the first winery I went to see was Van Westen, as I was not disappointed. Their 2008 Vino Grigio and their 2008 Vivacious whites and their 2006 Voluptuous are highly recommended. The Vino Grigio 2008, is of course Pinot Gris. It had a light peach and melon nose. Good acidity with more peach and melon on the palate. The Vivacious 2008 is Pinot Blanc with a hint of Pinot Gris, again has peachy fruit as well as some apricot aromas. Good acidity. Peach and apricot flavours with a touch of greenness. Their Voluptuous 2006 is a barrel aged blend of 67% Merlot and 33% Cabernet Franc. Deep garnet in colour. Very ripe plums and black fruit aromas. Medium body, black ripe fruit, plums, black cherry flavours with drying tannins.

Other notable wines are the La Frenz Merlot 2007, La Frenz Andrew Vineyard Riesling 2009, La Frenz Sonoran Vineyard Chardonnay 2009, Lake Breeze Seven Poplars Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Lake Breeze Gewurztraminer 2009, Therapy Merlot 2008, and Howling Bluff Estate Pinot Noir 2008. I’m sure there are more wines, but I only had 1.5 hours at the tasting room.

The La Frenz Merlot 2007 was deep garnet in the glass. A very nice nose, with sweet black cherry aroma. Sweet, black cherry flavour with a hint of vanilla. Very smooth on the palate. Outstanding.

The La Frenz Andrew Vineyard Riesling 2009, is light lemon in colour. Flowery and apple aromas. Good acidity with a bit of residual sugar. Red apple and citrus flavours. Elegant.

Hmm, 3 La Frenz in a row. I must also like La Frenz’s wines alot too! The La Frenz Sonoran Vineyard Chardonnay 2009 was light lemon colour in the glass. Vanilla and nutmeg aromas. Lots of flavour on the palate of apple, oak and pineapple. Very creamy with medium acidity.

Lake Breeze is also a consistent producer in the Okanagan. The Lake Breeze Seven Poplars Sauvignon Blanc 2009 has citrus and slight herbal aromas. High acidity, with citrus and gooseberry flavours. Eat with fresh seafood.

The Lake Breeze Gewurztraminer 2009 is very pale coloure. But has a wonderful lychee and rose petals aromas. Off dry, with medium acidity. Lychee and red delicous apple flavours.

The Therapy Merlot 2008has a lot of leather, coffee, cherry and plum aromas. On the palate there is more of the coffee and cherry flavour, accompanied by some chocolate. Medium tannins. Quite different from the La Frenz Merlot. Maybe buy one of each and do a side-by-side comparison?

Last, one of my favourite Pinot Noirs in the Okanagan is the Howling Bluff Estate Pinot Noir 2008. New world style, with ripe strawberry and cherry aromas with a bit of sweet spice and vanilla. Silky on the palate with vanilla, cherry, and raspberry flavours.

I hope you have a chance to try some of these wines, either here, or even better over in the Naramata Bench at the wineries’ cellar doors. Enjoy!

Lulu Island Winery Grand Opening

 

Today, July 3, 2009 was the grand opening of the Lulu Island Winery in Richmond. There was an official ribbon cutting with federal, provincial, and municipal dignitaries there in abundance. I was there of course for the wine. This winery I believe was previously called Blossom Winery and have now renamed themselves as Lulu Island Winery.

Blossom Winery was well known to me as producing non-grape, fruit wines. But with Lulu Island Winery, they contracted with grape growers in the south Okanagan to produce a range of grape wines. The wines that are currently available from Lulu Island winery are:

Chardonnay $14.95
Gewurztraminer $16.75
Sauvignon Blanc $13.95
Merlot 2008 $18.95
Riesling / Chardonnay Ice wine 2007 $69
Merlot / Pinot Noir Ice wine 2007 $95
Raspberry $15.95
Blueberry $18.95

I did not record a vintage for all the bottles, so only listed the vintages I knew.

On the white wines, I particularly enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc. It was medium lemon in colour, and had a light grapefruit nose. Good acid, with honey and grapefruit flavours. There was only 1 red, which was the Merlot and was also quite nice. This wine was deep purple in the glass. It had oak, vanilla, and black plum aromas. It was medium body , medium tannins, with plum and cherry fruit flavours. Both ice wines were very unctus and can be enjoyed either on their own or maybe with cake or fruit. Finally I quite liked their blueberry wine. Although it was listed as a sweetness of 4, it had good acidity to balance the sugar and keep the wine refreshing. Lots of blueberry aroma and flavour.

Lulu Island Winery is located at 16880 Westminster Highway in Richmond, BC. Their tel is 604-232-9839. A nice place to visit on a weekend for those of you that live in the Vancouver lower mainland.

La Deutsche Vita

What’s new in German wines? That was the question on May 7/09, in Vancouver. The Wines of Germany hosted a Trade event to reintroduce the wine trade to Riesling as well as the less commonly known varietals that make it out to Canada, such as Pinot Noir. We were given an overview by Dr. Steffen Maus, wine writer from Germany, about the main wine regions, some background on the latest vintages and where Germany fits into the global wine scene.

While most people think of sweeter style Rieslings, I found out that more than half of Germany’s wine production is dry white wines. Pinot Noir is a major red varietal in Germany, and is the 3rd largest producer of Pinot Noir in the world. Quite an achievement. Germany produces 3-4 times more Pinot Noir than New Zealand.

As for vintages, 2007 is viewed as the best vintage in the past 15 years. For Reisling, it produced luscious ripe fruit with good acidity. These wines can stand cellar aging. If you prefer a fresher, greener fruit type of Reisling, one to drink now, try the 2008 vintage.

So what were some wines I quite enjoyed?
Bischofliche Weinguter, 2007 Riesling Spatlese. This wine was pale lemon, some stone fruit and peach aroma. Sweet on the palate but still dry.
Weingut Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler, 2007 Riesling. Some rieslings as they age pick up a petrol aroma and flavour. This one had a bit of petrol and flowers on the nose. Round mouthfeel, with petrol citrus and apple flavour. LOTS happening in this glass.
Moselland 2007 Riesling Spatlese. This one had a sweet, lemony, spicy nose. Quite sweet on the palate, but good acid to balance it. Full bodied, with apple and flowery flavours.
Weingut Pfeffingen 2008 Gewurztraminer Spatlese. Gewurztraimer means spicy grape from the town of Traminer in Germany. This one was pale lemon coloured, with a pine needle aroma. Medium sweetness, pine needle flavour, with a lychee finish.
Valckenberg 2007 Gewurztraminer. This gewurztraminer was very aromatic. Lots of lychee aroma. In the mouth it was very round, with spicy, roses, and lychee flavour.

Enjoy!

Day 1 at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fest

March 26, 2009 09:22:25
Posted By Wine With Karl

Today I was at the wine festival waiting for the doors to open. My strategy as I am there today and tomorrow, is to taste mainly white wines today, and red wines tomorrow. Also since BC is the theme region, I’d taste the BC wines before exploring the international offerings. The BC wines I tried:

– Black Hills Estate winery who are noted for their Nota Bene Bordeaux style red blend
– Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars
– Burrowing Owl Estate winery
– Cedar Creek Estate Winery
– Church & State Wines
– Dunham & Froese Estate Winery
– Garry Oaks (I also recorded an interview with Marcel Mercier from Garry Oaks)
– Road 13 Vineyards
– Sandhill (check out the picture of me with Howard Soon their wine maker, and Louise Wilson their sales rep and Sommelier)
– Stoneboat Vineyards
– Tantalus Vineyards (I recorded another interview here)
– Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
– Twisted Tree Vineyards & winery
– Wild Goose Vineyards

Keeping things short and sweet on the blog, the Tantalus Riesling and Old Vines Riesling were exceptional. Sandhill has a wonderful Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Road 13 has a nice pinot noir. Garry Oaks pinot noir was quite beguiling. Cedar Creek‘s Ehrenfelser is a neat change to a gewurztraminer. You can’t go wrong with Burrowing Owl‘s Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.

On the international side I tried:
– La Joya Viognier Reserva 2007 (Chile)
– Bouchard Pere & Fils Beaune du Chateau Blanc Premier Cru 2006 (Burgundy, France)
– Catena Chardonnay 2007 (Mendoza, Argentina)
Champagne Deutz Cuvee William 1998 (Champagne, France) LOVED It But >$150 a bottle.
– Erath Pinot Gris 2007 and Pinot Blanc 2006 (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
– Vina Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc Single Vineyard 2008 (Aconcagua, Chile) A wild ferment!
– Miguel Torres Milmanda Single Estate Chardonnay 2006 (Penedes, Spain)
– Bodegas Muga Blanco 2007, Rosado 2005 (Rioja, Spain) I enjoyed the Rosado so much I bought a few bottles.
– Murphy-Goode Sonoma County Chardonnay 2006 and “The Fume” 2007 (Sonoma, CA)
– Olivier Lefaive Wines Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Gain 2006 (Burgundy, France) an excellent wine but over $100
– Santa Margherita / Ca’ Del Bosco / Kettmier Pinot Grigio 2007, Pinot Bianco Alto Adige 2007, Cuvee Prestige Franciacorta N/V. (Italy)
– Vina Santa Rita Floresta Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Leyda Valley, Chile) good gooseberry flavour
– Sokol Blosser Winery Evolution N/V and Dundee Hills Pinot Gris 2007 (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
– Thompson Estate Chardonnay 2005 and Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2005 (Margaret River, Australia) The sparkling just evaporated when it hit your tongue and was quite creamy. A buy!
– Miguel Torres Cordillera de las Andes Chardonnay/Viognier blend (Curico, Chile) Also a nice blend to try.

Did I try enough? I was at it for 2.5 hrs, then did a 2 hour sit down Pinot tasting. I’ll blog about that another day. I will do indepth reviews of wines after the festival is over. Enjoy!

Thornhaven Winery – A small gem

I enjoy discoverng small wineries that are producing quality wines, then letting other people know about them. Thornhaven winery in Summerland, BC is one of those wineries. I came across this winery two years ago doing an Okanagan tasting weekend. Each wine in their portfolio was very well made, full of fruit, but with structure. Two wines stood out for me at the time. The first was their pinot grigio. Most grigios have a variety of citrus, peach, mango flavour with soft acidity, not as much as you would get on a Sauvignon Blanc. Thornhaven’s pinot grigio tasted like a juicy red grapefruit. It was so refreshing and would have been a great pairing with grilled seafood. The other wine I really enjoyed was their Pinot Meunier. This is a red grape, that is used in the Champagne region, in the blend with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to produce Champange. It is fruiter than pinot noir. Thornhaven’s pinot meunier had a nice cherry and red fruit aromas and flavours. There was also some coffee flavour. This wine is hard to find, outside of going to the Thornhaven winery.

The last wine of note, which I have not yet tasted, is their 2006, Gewurztraimer, as it won double gold at the Canadian Wine Awards. I was able to buy a bottle, but am waiting for the right occasion, to open it with friends. For those that haven’t tried Gewurztraimer, think of lychee fruit with some sweet spices. This is known as the spicy grape in Germany. Try pairing it with a light blue cheese, chicken satay, pate, or chinese food. Enjoy!

Domaine Klipfel

Just south of Strausbourg is the city of Barr and the Domaine Klipfel. This winery produces Alsatian style white wines as well a eaux-de-vie (fruit infused distilled spirits). My guide in this tasting was a wonderful lady, but spoke no English, and my French is not too extensive. we both spoke enough wine terms that we both understood and so enjoyed the tasting. I tried both the entry level riesling / pinot gris / muscat / gewurztraminer as well as the Grand Cru versions. The entry level wines were quite light and off-dry. They showed some of their grape character. All were very refreshing. The riesling though was my favorite of this group. The Grand Cru wines were all fantastic, being more intense in fruit flavour and more full bodied. The riesling was again my favourite. This one was starting to show some of the petrol aromas you get from an aged riesling. I was told that their Grand Cru wines can age for 10 years in the bottle. As a special treat, I was offered to taste a Vendage Tardive (late harvest) gewurztraminer. It was of course much sweeter due to the concentration of sugar in these late harvested grapes. There was the typical lychee aroma, but also honey and orange, which I believe came from Noble Rot from some of the grapes. Truly a wonderful wine as an aperitif on it’s own or with some cheese. Salut!