CheckMate for the Win with Provence’s November Wine Menu

(Vancouver, BC) – Provence Marinaside shines the spotlight on Oliver BC’s CheckMate Artisanal Winery for its second Monthly Wine Menu. “Checkmate produces extraordinary wines,” says Provence’s Wine Director Joshua Carlson. “Under the skillful guidance of winemaker Philip McGahan, they have garnered two consecutive 100-point vintages of their ‘Little Pawn’ Chardonnay – the first Canadian wine to score 100 points being the 2015 vintage.

“I am very gratified by how popular October’s Martin’s Lane Menu has been. We’ve received some wonderful comments from our guests,” continues Carlson “so I am very excited to present our guests with a menu featuring CheckMate’s award-winning 2015 Little Pawn Chardonnay and 2014 End Game Merlot.”

The Monthly Wine Menu is series of special menus designed to highlight rare BC wines. The Monthly Wine Menu features wines from BC that are typically difficult to find by the glass (e.g. small production, back vintages, out of stock items, or priced out of range). These are paired with dishes especially created by Owner/Chef Jean Francis Quaglia and Chef de Cuisine Sheldon Maloff that are inspired by the wine, not the other way round as is usually the case. The dishes are unique to the Monthly Wine Menu and do not appear on Provence Marinaside’s regular menu.

The Monthly Wine Menu contains a QR code so that guests can access more information on the winery and the featured wines.

November – CheckMate Artisanal Winery
Winemaker: Philip McGahan

Two-course Menu $57/person
Two-course Wine Pairing $58/person
Two-course Petit Pour $30/person

First Course
Dungeness Crab Salad

Sherry butter, apple and celeriac

CheckMate ‘Little Pawn’ Chardonnay 2015
$32/glass, $128 bottle
The wine is aged for 16 months in 47 percent French oak.
There are aromas of citrus, sage and licorice. The palate is a medley of fruit flavours including Mandarin orange mingled with subtle oak notes. Tropical and citrus fruits are revealed on the very long finish, with bright acidity keeping the wine fresh and lively.
Second Course
Veal Tournedos

Grilled radicchio, confit tomato, and mashed edamame
Blue cheese and green peppercorn sauce

CheckMate ‘End Game’ Merlot 2014
$40/glass, $185/bottle
Made from 100 percent hand-picked and destemmed grapes; the wine is barrel-aged for 21 months in 100 percent new French oak.
Opulent on the palate, there are savoury and bright flavours of cherry, plum, cassis and vanilla. The wine is elegant and polished, with long, ripe tannins. The nose has an enticing pure merlot red fruit character that pushes the oak into the background.

The November’s CheckMate Wine Menu is priced at $57 for the two-course food menu with the selected wine pairing available for an additional $58 for both wines (petit pour is $30), or if you prefer, the wines can be purchased individually by the glass or bottle.

Be sure to check out the CheckMate Wine Menu from November 1 through 30. It’s a move that is bound to result in a winning (k)night.

Provence Marinaside Notes:
Provence Marinaside is committed to the health and safety of its guests and staff in keeping with the protocols set by the BC Ministry of Health. You can find the details of Provence’s standards here.

In addition to Dine-In service, Provence Marinaside continues to offer its Takeout Menu for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner daily. If you prefer to cook Provence’s food in the comfort of your own kitchen, they also offer six French Food Made Easy kits and two Cocktail Kits (Moscow Mule and Caesar). All are available through Provence Marinaside’s website along with Chef Sheldon’s Online Grocery Store for individual ingredient items such as meats, dairy, baking supplies and other miscellaneous items.

Provence Marinaside is also supporting The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre with the donation of meals and funds along with a donation option on their website should the public also wish to support the organization.

Christmas Eve Dinner 2012 at Le Parisien

Chemps Elysee, Paris, in December. *Source: self-made *Photographer: Andreas Saebjoernsen {{GFDL}}

Chemps Elysee, Paris, in December. *Source: self-made *Photographer: Andreas Saebjoernsen {{GFDL}}

Who wants to cook on Christmas Eve?  Well some people, but I’m sure more prefer to be on the receiving side of that equation.  So why torture yourself?  Enjoy a wonderful French Christmas dinner at Le Parisien.  There are selections for your courses so I’m sure there is something for you and your family to enjoy.  I think my choices would be the Baby Spinach Salad & Warm Duck Confit appetizer, Roasted Duck Breast entree, and Raspberry Souffle Crepe dessert.  I do adore duck.  Pair the duck with a violet scented Pinot Noir or juicy Merlot and I’m set for the evening.  Here is the announcement for the dinner from Le Parisien.  Joyeux Noel.


In Paris, Nuit de Noel (Christmas Eve) is a time to spend feasting with friends and family. Whether your Nuit de Noel tradition is to attend a carol service, stay at home, go to a movie or visit friends, consider joining us for dinner that night. As your neighbourhood French bistro, we offer a warm, family-friendly environment in which to enjoy good food and the joy of the season.

Give the cook in your home an early Christmas present – our four-course prix fixe menu is only $45 and you’ll leave as full as a Christmas stocking.

Reservations essential: 604-687-1418 /

Christmas Eve Dinner, December 24, 2012

Squash Croquettes
Apple Chutney


Crab Cake
Saffron Aioli, Melon Salad

– or –

Goat Cheese & Tomato Tart
Caramelized Onions, Black Olives

– or –

Baby Spinach Salad & Warm Duck Confit
Hazelnuts, Pear, Mustard Vinaigrette


Salmon Wellington
Spinach, Mushroom Duxelle, Sauce Béarnaise

– or –

Grilled Beef Tenderloin
Potato Gratin, Mushroom Ragout, Red Wine Sauce

– or –

Roasted Duck Breast
Butternut Squash Risotto, Walnuts, Port Reduction


Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut Mousse
Frangelico Cream, White Chocolate Chantilly

– or –

Classic Lemon Tart
Raspberry Coulis, Burnt Meringue

– or –

Raspberry Souffle Crepe
Berries, Crème Anglaise

$45.00 / Person

Le Parisien
751 Denman St. Vancouver, BC V6G 2L6 | Tel: (604) 687.1418

2009 Bordeaux Release Now Available at Liberty Wine Merchants

Merlot grapes (complements Wikipedia)

This announcement by Liberty Wine Merchants in Vancouver just came through my email.  If you are a Bordeaux fan, you may want to pick up some of the 2009 vintage.  From a quick look I notice that all are primarily Merlot with lesser amounts of the other Bordeaux varieties.


2009 Bordeaux In Stock

Bordeaux 2009 is a brilliant vintage in which Chateaux have crafted truly exceptional wines!

Chateau la Pierrere
2009 Cotes du Bordeaux
60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc
Pleasing aromas of blackcurrant and raspberry. Very ripe fruit on the palate backed by silky, mellow tannins. A superb expression of balance, harmony and smoothness.

Chateau Feret-Lambert
2009 Bordeaux Superieur
90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Notes of black raspberries, liquorice, graphite, and cassis, wonderful intensity, purity, richness, and overall balance, and a stunning finish.

Chateau Cailleteau Bergeron
2009 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux
80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec
An elegant wine, smooth and rounded. Fruit-forward with plum, cherry and black fruits, complimented by toast, vanilla and tobacco.

Chateau Clos Mansio
2009 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux
75% Merlot, 25% Malbec
Floral notes combine with black fruit, vanilla, white pepper and a touch of licorice. Strong, yet smooth highlighted by ripe blackberry.

Chateau Rousselle
2009 Cotes du Bourg
85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec
A spicy, peppery nose of plum, blackberry confit and minerals.  The palate is fresh and well defined with mouth-filling cassis and chocolate with liquorice, mocha and vanilla spice.

Chateau Feret-Lambert
2009 Bordeaux Superieur
90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Notes of black raspberries, liquorice, graphite, and cassis, wonderful intensity, purity, richness, and overall balance, and a stunning finish.

Coming In July!

Chateau la Goutere
2009 Bordeaux
77% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc
Enticing aromas of ripe berries, backed by a hint of vanilla. Lovely notes of earth and fresh herbs enhance the fruit-forward palate, and merge with round, soft tannins on the finish.

Château Le Breuil Renaissance
2009 Médoc
60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon
This great value red delivers heaps of black cherry, currant and plum flavors, with tobacco, chocolate and toast. The firm tannins are well-integrated, and the finish is smoky and fresh.

Chateau Segonzac
2009 Bordeaux
70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon
Deep colour and pure aromas of blackcurrant and raspberry, overlain with vanilla and spice notes from the oak maturation. A soft-textured wine, with sufficient tannins.

Stock varies by location. Please consult your Liberty store to ensure availability.

South World Wine Society’s Big and Bold Red Tasting

Last night we were treated to big red wines from the Southern Hemisphere. In particular, 2 wines from each of Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and Australia. These are all premium wines in the $30-$40 range per bottle. Our speaker for the evening was Mr. Lance Berelowitz, one of the South World Wine Society‘s co-founders, past President and past Cellar Master. Lance is originally from South Africa, but has travelled extensively and has visited Australia, Chile, and Argentina, and provided to us in depth descriptions about each of these wines and regions.

Our wines for this evening:

  • Alta Cima Premium Reserve 2002, Lontue Valley, Chile
  • Miguel Torres Cordillera 2001, Central Valley, Chile
  • De Toren Diversity 2003, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa
  • Norton Malbec Reserva 2005, Mendoza, Argentina
  • Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina
  • Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia
  • Peter Lehmann Mudflat Ebenezer Shiraz 2004, Barossa Valley, Australia

To these wines we had 3 appetizers:

  • Poplar Grove Tiger Blue Cheese Buff with stone fruit compote
  • Smoked Peace Country Lamb Shoulder Arrancinni with tomato ragout
  • Braised Shortrib Cannelonni with carmelized onion jus

The Alta Cima Premium Reserve 2002, Lontue Valley, Chile is a Bordeaux blend with 85% being from Cabernet Sauvignon, and the remainder coming from Merlot, Syrah (not Bordeaux), and Petit Verdot.  Alta Cima is a family run winery in Chile in the Lontue Valley which is part of the Curico Valley. This wine was deep garnet from the core to the rim, not showing it’s 9 year of aging yet. Vanilla, oak, dark cherry sweet spice, meaty and pencil lead aromas filled the glass.  Quite complex.  Medium body on the palate, with cherries and blueberry flavours.  Medium acidity and tannins.  Round in the mouth but not quite full bodied.  A nice balanced wine.

Next was the Miguel Torres Cordillera 2001, Central Valley, Chile. Miguel Torres, originally from Spain, has a great reputation around the world for their wines, and for opening wineries in other parts of the world.  The Cordillera is a blend primarily with Carignan and lesser amounts of Merlot and Syrah. Deep garnet in colour. A light nose with whiffs of oak, black olives, and dark cherries. Medium body with dark sweet fruit, and some tar and pepperiness.  Quite soft and round in the mouth, with a puckering finish.

The De Toren Diversity 2003, Stellenbosch, South Africa followed.  This is another family run winery.  Their Fusion V is a cult wine amongst wine enthusiasts. This wine is a blend of 5 Bordeaux varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Medium garnet with slight bricking on the rim of the wine, indicating it’s age. Meaty, pencil leads, earthy and red fruits on the nose. Medium body with dried red and black fruits, low acidity and tannins.  We all agreed that this wine is past it’s prime and we were sampling it on it’s way down.

My favourite wine of the evening was the Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa. Paarl is more inland than Stellenbosch, affording a warmer climate, which the Syrah grape loves. Deep garnet to the rim in the glass. Smoky, raspberries and oak on the nose. On the palate an array of flavours including smokiness, chocolate, coffee, dark fruit and spice.  Medium plus body with medium acid to keep the flavours bright. Long length. An excellent wine.

The first wine from Argentina was the Norton Malbec Reserva 2005. This is from the famous Mendoza region of Argentina, which is well-known for Malbec.  It is a high altitude desert that is fed with the precious water from the Andes Mountains. This wine had a light nose with some mint and plum. Medium body with dark fruit and oak. Soft tannins.  The group tasting the wine today also agreed that this wine was just OK.  Not very complex.

On the other hand the Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina was quite complex and interesting.  The San Juan region is to the north of Mendoza.  Not as well known, but produces very nice wine, if this wine is any indication of quality. Deep ruby in colour.  Light nose with oak, dark fruit, plum, coffee and a bit of eucalyptus aromas. Full body with firm tannins.  Dark fruit flavours with medium acidity and a dry finish. This wine paired nicely with the Poplar Grove Tiger Blue Cheese Puff with stone fruit compote.

On to Australia. Our first wine was the Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia. The two owners of Two Hands are similar to négociants from Burgundy.  They do not own vineyards, but work with vineyards to produce wines to their particular standards. This wine had some sediment in the glass, which we thought could be tartrate crystals. These crystals can form when the wine gets too cold.  It is a natural process, and should not be considered a fault in a wine. The wine was deep purple in the glass but was cloudy and not clear.  I am not sure if this wine was filtered, but if unfiltered, you could get this cloudiness. Nice nose with eucalyptus, vanilla, ripe dark fruit and chocolate. Medium plus body with soft, round mouthfeel.  Ripe cherries, chocolate and spiciness on the palate. This wine was the favorite of the room this evening.

The last wine was the Peter Lehmann Mudflat Ebenezer Shiraz 2004, Barossa Valley, Australia. This is an interesting wine as the shiraz is blended with a few percent of the white muscadelle grape to add in some aromatics.  Medium garnet in colour.  Light nose of vanilla and dark fruit.  Round with soft tannins.  Blueberries, vanilla, cloves and some salty minerality on the palate.  A good balance of oak, fruit and acidity.

MyWinePal Wine Picks:

  1. Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa
  2. Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina

The Favorites from the Room:

  1. Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia
  2. Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa

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!

Holding Court at Church and State Wines

It has been long overdue.  A trip to Vancouver Island, and to visit some Island wineries.  I have enjoyed wines from Church & State for the past few years, but have never been to their winery in the Brentwood Bay area of Vancouver Island. They also have a winery in the Oliver area.  At Brentwood Bay they grow the wine grapes to produce their sparkling wines and some white wines, while the red wines and some white wines are produced at the Oliver area winery.

I’ve written about their Chardonnay in the past and was lucky to try a sample at this tasting as well. Their Chardonnay 2008 has won Double Gold at both the San Francisco International Wine Festival 2010 and the All Canadian Wine Championships 2010, and a Silver at the Challenge International de Vin in France. This wine comes from 2 vineyards in Oliver. It is medium lemon in colour.  Nice nutmeg and lemon aromas.  Round mouth feel with medium body and softness on the palate.  Low acidity.  Very elegant.

The Pinot Gris 2009 comes from Estate grapes at Brentwood Bay. Pale lemon in colour.  Oak, lemon and peach on the nose. Peachy, sweet spice and almond flavours. Medium length. Nice.

Their Pinot Noir 2007 – Hollenbach comes from Skaha Lake grapes in the Okanagan. This is another Gold medal winner from the Canadian Wine awards 2009 and the Okanagan Fall Festival 2010, and several other awards. Light raspberry and tarry aromas. Light body with tea leaves, strawberries and cinnamon flavours.  Soft in the mouth with a dry long finish. Very nice.

The Merlot 2009 is medium garnet in colour. Light cherry, oak, and spicy aromas. Medium body with lots of plummy and black cherry flavours.  A bit of flowers and spice on the finish. Medium acidity and tannins.

The Meritage 2006 is a blend of three Bordeaux varietals – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Deeper garnet in colour.  A very wild nose!  Animal and overripe black fruit. Meaty, animal and black cherry flavours with medium tannins.  A very masculine wine.  Have a big slab of roast beef with this wine.

Their Quintessential 2007 Bordeaux blend is coming out this week.  Drop by their Brentwood Bay winery for a taste for Mothers Day, or check your local wine shop for the arrival of this wine.  It has wine a Gold medal at the Challenge International de Vin in France.  Enjoy!

Okanagan’s Perseus Winery

I recently learned about the Perseus winery located in the South Okanagan. Perseus was founded in 2009 and originally known as Synergy Winery & Vineyards, located  in Penticton, BC. In 2011, three long-time friends—Rob Ingram, Sam Elia, Bob Hole—acquired the winery through their company, Terrabella, and joined forces with the three founding owners and other expert wine-industry consultants to bring high quality, expressive wines from the vineyard to their urban winery setting.  I have not yet had a chance to try their wines, or visit their winery, so both these things are on my to-do list this summer. <NOTE: Subsequent to this article, I did have a chance to try their wines.  Here is my review one of Perseus’ wines.>

The logo for their winery is the constellation Perseus.   According to Greek mythology “Born to Jupiter and Danae, Perseus was one of the most courageous warriors in the Greek mythology. His claim to fame was slaying gorgon Medusa, one of the three gorgon sisters who had the power to turn anyone who saw them into a stone. Perseus achieved this feat with a bit of help from Pluto; who gave him the helmet of invisibility, Mercury; who gave him his winged sandals and Minerva; who gave him her powerful shield. The helmet of invisibility and the winged sandals ensured that Perseus reached close to Medusa without getting noticed, while the shield acted as a mirror in which he saw Medusa while delivering the lethal blow. This heroic act earned Perseus a place in the stars, and thus came into existence the constellation of Perseus.” from

What wines does Perseus produce?

Being in the hotter, South Okanagan, if you guessed primarily red wines, you would be correct, but they do have some white wine too.  Their 2 white wines are: Pinot Grigio 2009 and Sauvignon Blanc 2009.  On the red side they have: Merlot 2009, Shiraz Cabernet 2009, and an Invictus 2008 blend.  Invictus is a Bordeaux blend comprised of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc, 16% Merlot, 8% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot.  I am not sure if poetry influenced their naming of this wine, but Invictus is quite a famous poem written by William Ernest Henley.  It’s brief, so I have it here for you:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

They have 3 vineyards to produce the grapes for their wines.  Their Blind Creek Vineyard bridges the two towns of Keremeous and Cawston in the Similkameen valley.  I read that they also planted whites including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, here, and are most excited by the establishment of the Rhone varieties: Viognier, Roussane and Marsanne.  I too am a Rhone lover so look forward to tasting these wines once the vines are producing grapes. Their Old Station Vineyard overlooks Skaha Lake in the Okanagan Valley our vineyard and sits between the city of Penticton and the Town of Okanagan Falls. Their last vineyard, Lower Bench Vineyard,  you will see when you visit their tasting room and wine shop in the Okanagan valley. It is a 2 minute drive from Penticton on the Bench to Naramata.

If you have visited Perseus winery, please comment in the blog and let me know what you think of their wines.  I am very interested in getting some info.  Cheers!

Poplar Grove Wine Alert Special!

I received this email about a mixed case special of wines from the Okanagan’s Polar Grove winery, so I thought i’d pass it along. Might be very useful for upcoming Christmas parties. Cheers.



We are thrilled to introduce Poplar Grove Winery –  a new partnership and highly recognized BC Winery  to Trialto Wine Group‘s portfolio.

To celebrate our new partnership Poplar Grove and Trialto Wine Group wanted to offer our friends a one-time special offer of a mixed case selection from Poplar Grove Winery.

This mixed case selection is a wonderful opportunity to taste through the exciting wines from Poplar Grove or could be a perfect gift for the upcoming holiday season for your friends, colleagues, and family.

Special Mixed Case Selection from Poplar Grove

$306.00 for mixed case (12 bottles)

Includes taxes and bottle deposit

POPLAR GROVE Pinot Gris 2009 – 3 bottles
POPLAR GROVE Chardonnay 2008 – 3 bottles
POPLAR GROVE Merlot 2006 – 3 bottles
POPLAR GROVE Syrah 2007 – 3 bottles

*Mixed cases will be available only through Kitsilano Wines

2235 W. 4th Avenue, Vancouver

Please contact Lesia Knowlton at (604) 320 7322 or by Friday November 12th to place your order.

Your mixed case of Poplar Grove Wines will be ready to pick up at Kitsilano Wines on Saturday November 20th.

Bordeaux 2007 Release Preview. What to Expect?

Today the Cambie Street BC Liquor Store had a pre-release showing of six red Bordeaux wines from the 2007 vintage. As expected, the tasting area was packed full of people wanting to get a taste of what to expect with the BCLDB releases all their 2007 Bordeaux inventory on September 25, 2010.

The 2007 vintage I was told at this tasting was a cool year. So do not expect, big, full-bodied reds. Expect a leaner, lighter style. Also expect the blend to change, as it does every year. Cabernet Sauvignon loves heat, while Merlot does very well with cooler temperatures, so for this cooler vintage, expect to see a greater percentage of Merlot in the blends.

The first three wines I tasted were:
Chateau Belle Vue, Haut-Medoc AOC 2007
– Chateau Puy Blanquet, St Emilion Grand Cru AOC 2007
– Chateau Sainte Colombe, Côtes de Castillon AOC 2007

The Chateau Belle Vue is a 70% Merlot / 20% Cabernet Franc / 10% Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Deep garnet in the glass. A very nice colour. Quite smoky aromas, along with black berries and cherries. Firm tannins with bright cherry fruit and a medium length. Good to drink now.

I do like the wines from the St. Emilion region and was looking forward to trying the Chateau Puy Blanquet . It was light garnet in colour with aromas of red cherries and a bit of vanilla. Soft mouthfeel with red cherries flavours. The tannins built as you kept the wine in your mouth longer. Thin body and short length. I was hoping for more.

Chateau Sainte Colombe is a blend of 70% Merlot / 20% Cabernet Franc / 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium garnet colour. Closed nose, but I was able to pull out some capsicum, vanilla and cherries. On the palate, it was quite round, with cassis, red cherries and oak flavours. Medium tannins and medium length. Not bad. Maybe with a bit of time exposed to the air, the nose would have opened up more.

The next three wines I would rank at a higher level of wine making. These wines are more structured with more length and interesting flavours and aromas. The three wines are:

Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux AOC 2007
– Chateau de Gironville, Haut-Medoc AOC 2007
– Chateau Moulin Haut-Laroque, Fronsac AOC 2007

The Alter Ego de Palmer, is the second label for the well-regarded Chateau Palmer winery. This wine was a blend of 60% Merlot / 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was deep purple coloured in the glass. Meaty, dark cherry, cassis, and vanilla aromas. Full bodied, with ripe cherries, vanilla, and medium fine tanning. It had a very nice cherry finish and a long length. Overall my favorite of all six wines, but comes with a $59 price tag. Clearly not the most expensive of the upcoming Bordeaux releases (which can be easily $600+), but I think would be a special occasion wine for many people.

The Chateau de Gironville is a blend of 45% Merlot / 45% Cabernet Sauvignon / 10% Petit Verdot. Opaque purple in the glass (courtesy of the Petit Verdot). A very aromatic nose. Lots of coffee of black cherry. On the palate you get firm tannins, with black cherry, coffee, and vanilla flavours. Full body with long length. I personally purchased a bottle of this wine. A nice price point at $22.99.

The final wine was the Chateau Moulin Haut-Laroque. Opaque purple/garnet in the glass. It had a chemical / woody nose that I did not particularly enjoy. Medium body, with cassis and cherry flavours. Round mouthfeel but an astringent finish. Maybe this wine needs a few years to evolve in the bottle?

I’d advise those of you going to buy the 2007 red Bordeaux’s to do some research online to find out what other professional reviewers have said about the wines. Do not forget that there will also be white Bordeaux being released. With the cooler temperature of the 2007 growing season, this gives the semillon and sauvignon blanc grapes plenty of time to mature on the vine and to keep their fresh fruitiness and good acidity. It also I am told was very good for Sauternes. Be sure to line up early at the Cambie St specialty wine store on September 25, 2010! Enjoy.

Bordeaux Blends for the Long Weekend

Our last long weekend, Labour Day, is upon us. Soon the rains will start here in BC. So fire up the BBQ for maybe one last great hurrah, and open a bottle of a BC Bordeaux blend.

When I speak of Bordeaux blend, in this blog I’m talking about red wine. There is a white Bordeaux blend, but I’ll cover that in a different blog.

In a red Bordeaux blend, you can have a blend of up to the following different grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere. Malbec and Carmenere are rarely used in Bordeaux now as they were hard to harvest to ripeness and most of the vines are gone. In Bordeaux due to the variations in the climate each year; sometimes a cooler year, and sometimes warmer, you needed to blend earlier ripening and later ripening grapes in order to get a good wine. In the Okanagan, we are blessed with fairly good weather every summer so we can do single varietals, but still blending adds additional complexity to the wine.

With that said, I checked into and identified the following BC Bordeaux blends in the $15-$25 range:

Black Widow Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 375 mL Red blend $24.99
Blasted Church Winery Big Bang Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $23.99
Domaine de Chaberton Canoe Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $15.99
Fork In The Road Winery Oliver Block 249 Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Hester Creek 2004 Cabernet – Merlot – Cab Franc 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Kalala Organic Estate Winery Cuvee Noir 2008 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Kettle Valley Starboard Fortified Malbec / Petit Verdot 375ml Red blend $24.99
Kettle Valley Old Main Red 375ml Red blend $23.99
Lake Breeze Vineyards Meritage Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $24.99
Road 13 Vineyards Rockpile Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $24.99
Sonora Ranch Proprietor’s Select Red 1.5 L Red blend $15.99
Therapy Vineyards Freud’s Ego 750ml Red blend $19.99
Toscano Rosso Red 2.0L Red blend $16.99

A few of the above blends may have some non-Bordeaux variety grapes in them, such as the Kalala Cuvee Noir, but most I think are all true Bordeaux blends.  In the past I’ve tasted the following BC Bordeaux blends:

Van Westen Vineyards Voluptuous Merlot / Cabernet Franc    2006    Deep reddish purple. Light aromas of cherry, cedar and slight herbaceousness. Round mouthfeel.  Dark fruit liquor, cherry and plum flavours with a vanilla finish.

Poplar Grove    Legacy Merlot / Cabernet Franc / Cabernet Sauvignon / Malbec    2004    Black fruit aromas with a slight wisp of capsicum.  Round mouthfeel with dark fruit and firm tannins.  Dry with a black cherry finish.

Howling Bluff    Sin Cera Merlot / Cabernet Franc / Malbec    2007    Deep purple with a red edge. Smoky, dark fruit aromas.  Dark fruit, cherry and spicy flavours.  Spicy / cherry finish.  Firm tannins.

Black Widow Winery    Hourglass Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon    2007    Nice nose with casis, cherry, plum and vanilla.  Fruit forward.  Black cherry, plum and some vanilla on palate.  Medium length.

Therapy Vineyards    Freud’s Ego Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc / Merlot    2007    Medium garnet with slight purple colouration.  Oak, cherry, currant and cedar aromas.  Cherry, red and dark berries, and vanilla flavour.  Round mouth feel, soft tannins.  Cherry finish.

I have many more in the list, but to keep it brief, I’ve listed just a few.  I hope you enjoy your Labour Day long weekend with a red  BC Bordeaux blend.