Banana Bread with Vidal Icewine Pairing

Today I made a batch of banana bread and thought about what to pair it with. Sifting through my memory, I thought that Mission Hill Winery’s Vidal Icewine (or their Late Harvest) would fit the bill. The Vidal grape has a honey and tropical fruit aroma and flavour. Banana from the banana bread is a tropical fruit, so it should mesh beautifully. While the bread is cooling, I am writing this article.

In case you would like to try this pairing, here is the recipe that I use for banana bread. It comes from the “Centennial Cookbook” and the recipe is by a lady named Lil Karpyshyn. I’ve made a few modifications, to make the recipe my own.

Picture courtesy of http://mdaras.com/lowgi/recipe/banana-bread/Banana Bread Recipe

1.25 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
dash of vanilla
3/4 cup oil (I use canola)
2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups mashed bananas (2.5 bananas)
1/4 cup raisins

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan. Beat sugar, eggs, and vanilla till creamy. Slowly add in oil. In a separate bowl, mix flour, making soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Slowly add flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix in the mashed bananas and the raisins. Pour into the loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes. Test with a toothpick. It should come out dry.

Indulge and enjoy with the Vidal Icewine!

Red Door #dineout Wine and Food Pairing was Delicious

Thursday night’s Dine Out Vancouver meal was at Red Door Pan Asian Grill on Granville (2996 Granville Street, http://www.reddoor.ca).  The menu I selected was:

  • Indonesian Chicken Satays Served with peanut and spicy plum sauce. (appetizer)
  • Spicy Ginger Beef Tender slices of crispy beef, spicy Thai chili peppers, served with Mongolian noodles and vegetables. (Main course)
  • Curry-Butterscotch Pot de Crème Buterscotch custard spiked with a mild curry and aged Scotch. Topped with chocolate ganache and rice pearls. (Dessert)

To pair with this food, Red Door was offering a flight of 3 red wines (2oz), consisting of: Sumac Ridge Black Sage Vineyard Merlot, Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and Red Rooster Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot blend. The Merlot was quite round with cherry fruit.  The Cabernet Sauvignon was much more full-bodied, heavier mouthfeel, with ripe cherry flavour.  The Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot blend I think was the lightest bodied of the three reds that evening.  Sorry it was quite dark in the restaurant, which is good for ambiance but makes it difficult to take detailed wine notes.

The satay chicken was ok.  The dipping sauce was interesting with ginger mixed in with the ground peanuts.  The Sumac Ridge Merlot was a nice pairing with the satay chicken.  It was not too heavy in flavour compared to the satay.

The Spicy Ginger Beef was deep fried slices of beef in a dark soy sauce with spice and a bit of sweetness.  The noodles had a bit of ginger in them.  The beef needed a full-bodied wine to handle the amount of flavour from this dish.  The perfect pairing was the Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  The fruit of the wine balanced out the spice of the beef, the tannins in the wine balanced against the bit of sweetness in the beef.

I didn’t have any of my three wines with the dessert.  The Curry-Butterscotch Pot de Crème was perfect on it’s own.  The hint of curry mixed with the butterscotch was remarkable, and topping it with the chocolate ganache and crunchy rice pearls was over the top. 

I recommend trying out Red Door Pan Asian Grill. Enjoy!

BC Chardonnay for Summer Sips

Chardonnay. Some people love it; others are not too crazy about it. From my speaking with people, I think it is mainly the heavily oaked chardonnays that are not as enjoyable for many people. But the good news is that there are many unoaked chardonnays which are lighter in body and show more fruit character. Mission Hill brought worldwide attention to Okanagan wines when their 1992 Mission Hill Grand Reserve Chardonnay was awarded the Avery Trophy for the Best Chardonnay at the International Wine & Spirit Competition.

Chardonnay can show a wide range of character including peach, pear, apple or tropical fruits, mineral notes and rich full-bodied buttery, toasty flavours if aged in oak. It can be a heavy white wine with oaking, and can be a replacement for some red wines. Try with a bbq’d steak.

Checking the www.EverythingWine.ca website, for $15-$25 BC Chardonnay, I came up with 33 wines:

Arrowleaf Chardonnay 750 mL Chardonnay $17.99 More information about Arrowleaf  Chardonnay 750 mL
Blasted Church Chardonnay Musque 750 mL Chardonnay $21.99 More information about Blasted Church  Chardonnay Musque 750 mL
Cassini Cellars Chardonnay 750mL Chardonnay $23.99 More information about Cassini Cellars  Chardonnay 750mL
Cedar Creek Estate Chardonnay Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $15.99 More information about Cedar Creek Estate Chardonnay Chardonnay 750ml
Cedar Creek Platinum Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $23.99 More information about Cedar Creek Platinum Chardonnay 750ml
Crowsnest Vineyards Stahltank Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $21.99 More information about Crowsnest Vineyards Stahltank Chardonnay 750ml
Desert Hills Unoaked Chard 750 mL Chardonnay $18.99 More information about Desert Hills  Unoaked Chard 750 mL
Dirty Laundry Chardonnay unoaked 750ml Chardonnay $23.99 More information about Dirty Laundry Chardonnay unoaked 750ml
Dragonfly Hill Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $19.99 More information about Dragonfly Hill Chardonnay 750ml
Gray Monk Unwooded Chardonnay 750 mL Chardonnay $16.99 More information about Gray Monk Unwooded  Chardonnay 750 mL
Herder Vineyards Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $23.99 More information about Herder Vineyards Chardonnay 750ml
Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Chardonnay 750 mL Chardonnay $17.99 More information about Jackson-Triggs  Grand Reserve  Chardonnay 750 mL
Kettle Valley Chardonnay 750 mL Chardonnay $21.99 More information about Kettle Valley Chardonnay 750 mL
Mike Weir Chardonnay 750 mL Chardonnay $16.99 More information about Mike Weir Chardonnay 750 mL
Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $18.99 More information about Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve  Chardonnay 750ml
Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $19.99 More information about Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Chardonnay 750ml
Mt Boucherie Summit Reserve Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $23.99 More information about Mt Boucherie Summit Reserve Chardonnay 750ml
Mt Boucherie Unoaked Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $17.99 More information about Mt Boucherie Unoaked Chardonnay 750ml
Nk’Mip Cellars Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $15.99 More information about Nk'Mip Cellars Chardonnay 750ml
Pacific Breeze Winery Sangiacomo Vineyards Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $22.99 More information about Pacific Breeze Winery Sangiacomo Vineyards Chardonnay 750ml
Peller Proprietor’s Reserve Chardonnay 1.5 L Chardonnay $15.99 More information about Peller Proprietor's Reserve Chardonnay 1.5 L
Quails’ Gate Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $18.99 More information about Quails' Gate Chardonnay 750ml
Quinta Ferreira Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $24.99 More information about Quinta Ferreira  Chardonnay 750ml
Robin Ridge Chardonnay 750 mL Chardonnay $22.99 More information about Robin Ridge Chardonnay 750 mL
Sandhill Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $17.99 More information about Sandhill Chardonnay 750ml
See Ya Later Ranch Unleashed Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $19.99 More information about See Ya Later Ranch Unleashed Chardonnay 750ml
See Ya Later Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $19.99 More information about See Ya Later Chardonnay 750ml
Sonora Ranch Chardonnay 1.5 L Chardonnay $17.99 More information about Sonora Ranch Chardonnay 1.5 L
Summerhill Estate Winery Chardonnay, Organic 750 mL Chardonnay $24.99 More information about Summerhill Estate Winery  Chardonnay, Organic 750 mL
Thornhaven Chardonnay 750 mL Chardonnay $18.99 More information about Thornhaven  Chardonnay 750 mL
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $19.99 More information about Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Chardonnay 750ml
Township 7 Semillon 750mL Chardonnay $19.97 | $22.99 More information about Township 7 Semillon 750mL
Township 7 un-oaked Chardonnay 750mL Chardonnay $21.99 More information about Township 7 un-oaked Chardonnay 750mL

Chardonnay is quite a popular grape amongst BC wineries. Some chardonnay’s in my tasting notes are:

  • Therapy Vineyards Chardonnay, 2007 – Pale lemon. Vanilla, apple, and butterscotch aromas. Butterscoth, leees, citrus, and orange peel flavours. Round mouthfeel.
  • Dirty Laundry Vineyard Unoaked Chardonnay, 2007 – Light lemon colour. Tropical fruit, lemon, and honey on the nose. Some roundness in the mouth. Vanilla, apple and pear flavours.
  • Greata Ranch Reserve Chardonnay, 2006 – Single vineyard. Slight oaky aroma and lime. Topical fruit flavour with a vanilla finish. Medium body, some roundness on the palate.
  • Greata Ranch Chardonnay, 2006 – Pale straw coloured. Oak, vanilla, and pineapple aromas. Oak, apple and citrus flavours. Light acidity, but very fruity.

Cheers!

BC Cabernet Sauvignon for Summer Sips

Well I’ve talked about Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Riesling. This blog is on BC Cabernet Sauvignon wine for the summer. Sometime you want a big red wine, with good tannic structure to complement some serious barbecuing in your backyard or patio. Cabernet Sauvignon is known as the king of the red grapes, although some may say Syrah should share that crown. Cabernet Sauvignon typically has black currant and dark fruit aromas. It can also have other interesting aromas of cedar, violets, leather, or cigar box. The tannic backbone of this varietal helps it age gracefully in the bottle and bring out the nuances in aroma and flavour profiles.

Checking the www.EverythingWine.ca website for BC Cabs in the $15-$25 range I came up with:

Church & State Wines Cabernet Blanc 750mL Cabernet Sauvignon $23.99 More information about Church & State Wines Cabernet Blanc 750mL
Inniskillin Okanagan Cabernet Sauvignon Osoyoos 750 mL Cabernet Sauvignon $16.99 More information about Inniskillin Okanagan  Cabernet Sauvignon Osoyoos 750 mL
Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Edition VQA Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml Cabernet Sauvignon $16.99 More information about Jackson-Triggs Proprietors' Edition VQA Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml
J-Triggs Proprietors Select Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml Cabernet Sauvignon $17.99 More information about J-Triggs Proprietors Select Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml
Mission Hill 2003 Reserve Bin 88 Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml Cabernet Sauvignon $21.99 More information about Mission Hill 2003 Reserve  Bin 88 Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml
Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 750 mL Cabernet Sauvignon $21.99 More information about Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve  Cabernet Sauvignon 750 mL
Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 88 750ml Cabernet Sauvignon $21.99 More information about Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 88 750ml
Sonora Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 1.5 L Cabernet Sauvignon $17.99 More information about Sonora Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 1.5 L
Sumac Ridge Black Sage Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml Cabernet Sauvignon $22.99 More information about Sumac Ridge Black Sage Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml

In general, Cabernet Sauvignon wines command a greater price than other varietals, due to their full body, their ageability, and cachet. I was happy to get 9 BC Cabs showing up in the $15-$25 price range. I’ve had the Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon many times over the years. It is a solid wine and sure to please. I recently visited the Sumac Ridge winery and sampled their Black Sage Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. A nice full bodied Cab.

With the hot weather we are now having in BC, now might be the time to try some of these wines. Enjoy!

Okanagan Road Trip

This past week was a road trip with my family in the Okanagan. I did get a chance to visit a few wineries I already knew, and to visit some new wineries. With Kelowna as our home base, we drove as far north as Vernon, and as far south as Osoyoos. In Kelowna, I had to show my family the beautiful views from Mission Hill Family Estate winery’s grounds. It is always so nice to look over the lake and Kelowna from the patio restaurant. On the wine tasting side, I was privileged to taste a 2003-2006 vertical of Mission Hill’s top wine, Oculus. Although I didn’t have any notes written, I can tell you that the 2006 was “feminine” in style with a beautiful flowery bouquet. The 2004 and 2003 Oculus was my favorite by a slim margin over the 2006 Oculus. 2003 was a very hot year in the Okanagan, and had the horrible forest fires we all remember. The heat made the fruit very ripe that year, so you get lots of fruit to balance the tannins. The 2003 still has good tannic structure with fruit and I’d give it a few more years to soften. It is a wonderful wine. You might want to see if they are selling any through the Library releases. I think you have to go to the winery though to buy their Library releases.

On another day trip, we went to Nk’Mip desert cultural centre and the Nk’Mip winery right beside it. The cultural centre was very interesting, and has a nest with an Osprey parents and chicks. The nest is on the top of a tall pole, so bring your binoculars. My favorite wine on this tasting of the Nk’Mip winery was their NK’Mip Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir 2007. Again no hand written notes, but I remember strawberries with smoke aromas and flavours. Buy some if you can.

On another trip, we spent some time tasting wines at Sumac Ridge Estate winery in Summerland. While there I tried my first ever sparkling Gewurztraminer. It was quite refreshing. I bought a bottle so that I can try it back home with some seafood this summer. I also enjoyed their Chardonnay and their Cabernet Franc from the Black Sage vineyards. Quite elegant.

Another day was spent at Volcanic Hills winery, Beaumont Estate Family winery, and Kalala Organic Estate winery. I found out that the owners of Volcanic Hills winery were co-owners of the Mount Boucherie winery. They just opened their tasting room 3 weeks ago. Most of the grapes were purchased from what I could tell. The Volcanic Hills Pinot Gris was quite nice. Round mouthfeel with juicy ripe fruit flavours. This is their first vintage of their reds and whites. I am looking forward to trying their next vintages and see how they define their style.

If you like wines made from organically grown grapes, there is Beaumont Estate Family winery, which is right next door to Volcanic Hills winery, and there is Kalala Organic Estate winery (who BTW let Volcanic Hills use their equipment for vinifying their first vintage). Beaumont is a family run business with the daughter of the family making the wines. They have a wide range of wines from Pinot Gris, to Pinot Noir, to Gamay Noir, and more. They noted that Pinot Noir seems to like their soil the most, so expect to see them concentrate on this wine. I was really looking forward to Kalala Organic Estate winery, since I saw them last June. They have won several medals this year for their red and white wines. I really liked their Riesling 2008 vintage. It had crisp acidity, pineapple and apple aromas with a hint of petrol. It won a Gold at the 2010 New World Int’l Wine Competition in California, a Silver in the 2010 Concours mondial de Bruxelles, and a Bronze at the 2010 Northwest Wine Summit. Buy this wine before it sells out. On the red side, if you have not tried, give their Zweigelt 2008 a try. This red grape provided sour red cherry aroma and flavour, and a bit of maraschino cherry too. Soft tannins also with Zweigelt. This wine won 4 different Bronze medals this year. Check out Kalala’s website http://www.kalalawines.ca/wine/index.php for all their medals.

That is all for now. I wish I had more time to try more wines while I was in the Okanagan, but being with family is also nice!

Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fair – Day 3

Yesterday was my last day at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fair. I tried many wines from the theme countries of New Zealand and Argentina, and gave you my picks. Today I’ll give you some of my picks for the rest of the world.

If you like Italian wines, Altesino is a nice coice. I particularly liked their Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2004 and their Alte d’Altesi “Super Tuscan” IGT 2003. The Brunello was pale reddish orange. Light strawberry and woody nose. Light body with strawberry and oaky flavours. Medium tannins. The Alte d’Altesi was fuller bodied. Medium garnet. Smoky, earthy, oaky nose. Cherry flavour with very firm tannins.

A South African winery I had not tried before but will now look around for is Alto. South African wines tend to have a different aromatic profile than other New World wines. There is something earthy about many of their wines. Alto’s Rouge 2007 and Shiraz 2006 were wonderful. I was told their Fine Old Vintage Port 2006 was really good, but never got around to trying it. The Rouge 2007 was light/medium garnet in the glass. Capsicum and cherry nose. Cherry, meaty and spicy flavours. Their Shiraz 2006 was deep purple coloured. Sweet black fruit aromas. Firm tannins and bursting with blueberry flavours. Very full bodied. Nice!

Back here in Canada, a must try is Cedar Creek Estate winery’s Platinum Malbec 2007 and their Platinum Syrah 2007. The Platinum Malbec 2007 is their first single varietal release. Medium purple colour. Plum and dark fruit aromas. Rip, black cherries with some green stemminess. Very smooth. Vanilla and medium spice. The Platinum Syrah 2007 had nice blueberries and plum aromas. Quite spicy on the palate with black cherry flavour. Medium tanning and long length.

Another BC wine to try is the Chardonnay 2007 from Church & States Wines. The Chardonnay 2007 is medium lemon colour. Nice apricot nose. Vanilla, sweet spice, pineapple and apricot flavours, with a bit of spice. Lots of flavours coming out the glass the more you swirled it around in your mouth.

If you like biodynamic wines, there is the Cadenizia 2008 from Gemtree Vineyards in Australia. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Tempranillo, and Shiraz). Medium garnet. Nice nose with butterscotch, cherry and vanilla. Lots of cassis flavour with black cherry and spiciness. Firm yet fine tannins.

My third recommended BC wine is the Mission Hill Family Estate Quatrain 2006. This is a Syrah, Merlot, Cab Sauvignon, and Cab Franc blend from the Black Sage area of the Okanagan. Deep purple coloured. Blueberry and plum nose. Cherry and plum flavour, peppery with firm tannins.

If you are a Pinot Noir lover, try the Freedom Hill Pinot Noir 2006 from Panther Creek in Oregon. The Freedom Hill Pinot Noir 2006 is light cherry coloured. Smoky, strawberry aromas. Earthy, cherry flavours, with a bit of spiciness and low tannins.

There are many more wines for me to write about for you. That will be happening over the next week. Hopefully you would have tried some of these wines and/or purchased some. Enjoy!

Put a cork in it

Hopefully you never have a wine bottle go bad due to cork taint. For the casual drinker, you may not hit a tainted bottle for a long stretch, but it does occur at a rate of about 5%. Through the tastings that I hold with the South World Wine Society, it is not out of the ordinary to have 1 or 2 bottles corked. The SWWS usually opens 27 bottles of wine during one tasting. 5% * 27 bottles = 1.35 potentially corked bottles. So we are holding to the cork taint average.

How can you tell that a bottle has cork taint? Unless you know what the wine should taste like ahead of time (e.g. it’s your favorite wine and you know how it should taste), or you recognize the smell of cork taint, you may think that the bottle was just not very tasty, or the wine critic that praised that wine doesn’t know what they are talking about. The problem with cork taint, is that there are different levels of taint. A very slight taint is the hardest to detect and usually just is represented by a flatness in the fruit flavour and aroma. With more cork taint, along with the reduced fruit flavour and aroma, you may smell wet cardboard or freshly dug potatoes.

Cork manufacturers have been trying to produce better cork with fewer defects, but there are still rivals to traditional corks, being synthetic (plastic) corks and the stelvin closure. In a previous blog post I talked about an alternative to cork, which is the stelvin closure. You may want to check it out.

But many people love the romance that goes along with opening a bottle that has a natural cork in it. Not all of these corks are created equal. In the photo in my blog, there are 4 examples of cork. From left to right, you have a high quality single piece natural cork, next a lesser quality single piece natural cork, next an agglomerated cork sandwiched between two pieces of natural cork, and the last is an agglomerated cork.

You will also notice difference in length. Longer tends to be better for corks, as there is more separation between the wine and the air outside of the bottle. The agglomerated corks are basically bits of cork that fall off or break off in the cork making process. These bits of cork are broken down into pieces of about the same size then glued together. These corks do not look very nice, but get the job done. Some winemakers go for the agglomerated cork sandwiched with slices of real cork. The Mission Hill cork in the photo has a real slice of cork about half way through the M in Mission and then at the last L in Hill. Some people prefer this cork over the simple agglomerated cork, as there is a real piece of cork in contact with their wine as it ages as opposed to wine + glue. Finally you have the single piece of cork. This is the ultimate goal for many winemakers. The better cork would have the least amount of holes/pits visible in the cork. The Pisano cork has more holes/pits visible on the cork, which could be housing cork taint, or could let too much air interact with the wine, making it age quickly. The longer Montes Purple Angel cork (leftmost cork) is an example of a high quality single piece cork. You do not see lots of small holes along the sides of the cork.

Well now you know a bit more about cork and about cork taint. The next time you open a bottle of your favorite wine, check out what type of cork they are using. If you wine smells off, as described above, and you are in a restaurant, please don’t hesitate to talk to your server and ask for them to confirm with you that the wine is corked. If it is, they should give you a replacement bottle at no additional charge. It’s your money and enjoyment. Cheers!

Le Mondial du Pinot Noir – 2009

Le Mondial du Pinot Noir is a yearly competition strictly for the Pinot Noir varietal. 2009 was the 12th year of the competition. The competition is held and hosted by Switzerland. Wineries from around the world are invited to compete.

I did not know that Switzerland produced many Pinot Noir wines, but I guess this is in part to these wines not reaching British Columbia. The Pinot Noirs of western Switzerland and Neuchatel, I have read are of good quality.

This past year the Mondial du Pinot Noir set a new record for participation, with 1,144 wines being tasted. Switzerland, being the host country, offered 60% of the Pinot Noir wines for tasting. Germany was represented by 140 wines and France with more than 100. Other countries participating also included Hungary, Austria, Australia, Argentina – for a total of 24 countries. 50 judges from Canada, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Luxemburg, Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland, Romania, Spain, Greece and Lebanon tasted and graded the wines. The event was organized in accordance with regulations set down by the Paris-based governmental body the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).

The big winners, taking the Grande Médaille d’Or, are a Spanish Pinot Noir from the cellar Cortijo Los Aguillares in Ronda and a Valais Pinot Gris from Cave de la Madeleine (André Fontannaz in Vétroz). Of the 95 Or (gold) medals, 30 were awarded to wineries outside of Switzerland with 17 medals to Germany. I was amazed to read that a Spanish Pinot Noir won the Grande Medaille d’Or as you typically don’t think of Spain as a powerhouse for Pinot Noir. I now have a wine on my “to find and try” list for 2010!

Before going into more of the prizes, how did Canada do? We did win two prizes:
Arrowleaf Cellars, Arrowleaf Solstice Pinot Noir 2007 won a Bronze Medal,
Mission Hill Family Estate, Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2007 also won a
Bronze Medal.
Congratulations to Arrowleaf Cellars and Mission Hill Family Estate!

Some of the major prizes awarded are as follows:
World Champion of Pinot Noir Producers
Offered by the Fondation l’Homme et le Vin, Chamoson
Urs Pircher
Eglisau Zürich

Univerre Pro Uva prize, Sierre
Weingut Thomas Marugg
Blauburgunder Barrique 2007, Fläsch, Grisons (Blauburgunder is a German word for Pinot Noir.)

Millésimes Anciens (older vintages) prize
Offered by Nestlé Waters
Schlossgut Hohenbeilstein, Beilstein, Allemagne
Spätburgunder Auslese Trocken 2003, Württemberg (Spatburgunder also is a German word for Pinot Noir.)

Bourgogne Aujourd’hui prize
Décerné par la revue Bourgogne Aujourd’hui

Domaine de la Vougeraie
Nuits-Saint-Georges, France

Domaine Anne Parent
Pommard, France

Vinofed prize
Given by the Fédération Mondiale des Grands Concours Internationaux de Vins et de Spiritueux
Weingut Kuhnle, Weinstadt, Allemagne
Pinot Noir Barrique 2006, Qualitätswein Württemberg

Découverte (discovery) prize
Given by la Ville de Sierre
André Fontannaz, Cave la Madeleine, Vétroz, Valais
Malvoisie flétrie sur souche 2008, AOC Valais

A new prize was offered for 2009 at the Mondial du Pinot Noir called the “Producers of Pinot Noir World Champion“. For this special category the judges test three consecutive vintages, all more recent than 1995, which the producer has selected. The inaugural winner of this award was Urs Pircher from Eglisau Zürich.

If you are planning on being in Switzerland on August 20-22, 2010, maybe drop in on the 13th Le Mondial du Pinot Noir?

(Mondail is French for World if you were wondering). Enjoy!

An abbreviated list of wines for the holidays

Isn’t technology lovely? Sometimes you spend a long time writing a long blog about wines for the holidays and it doesn’t get saved! Well that just happened to me, so please enjoy this very short version of my wine recommendations.

Wines to take to a host/hostess. Try a wine they would not normally buy but would enjoy. Try a champagne (from France. Try Bollinger, Lanson, Krug, or Taittinger), or a sparkling wine (e.g. a cremant from France, a prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, or a New World sparkling, such as Gloria Ferrer from Napa Valley, or Lindauer from New Zealand).

An ice wine could also be a nice gift. Riesling ice wines are the best in my opinion as the high acidity of this grape complements the sweetness from the grape. Mission Hill and Quails Gate in the BC Okanagan have nice ice wines.

With dinner, assuming you have a turkey feast, try a lightly oaked chardonnay, or a lighter bodied pinot noir. On the chardonnay side try a wine from Deloach in California, Mission Hill Reserve from the Okanagan, or Evans and Tate from Australia. For a pinot noir, try Quails Gate or Mission Hill from the Okanagan, or Villa Maria or Kim Crawford from New Zealand.

People also like fortified / dessert wines. Buller makes a nice Muscat (Australia). You may try a port from Portugal, such as from Quinta do Portal. A full bodied Oloroso Sherry from Spain from Gonzalez Byass.

Enjoy the wines and enjoy the holidays!

What am I drinking today?

Well it is summer, so you would think a nice, crisp white wine, or maybe i’m a contrarian and would go for a big red (maybe with some BBQ), but you would be wrong on both counts. Today I am sipping on the 2007 Mission Hill 5 Vineyards Rose from Westbank in the BC Okanagan. Rose is becoming more fashionable. I have seen greater numbers of roses on store shelves and in restaurant lists over the past 2 years here in Vancouver. Rose is actually produced from red grapes, the only difference between a rose and a red wine is the length of time that the skins stay in contact with the juice during fermentation. Depending on the winemaker this could be 16-22-24 hrs or more. But the longer the skins are in the fermentation vessel, the more colour comes out, plus tannin (the stuff that makes your mouth feel dry).

The rose I am drinking today is a blend of varietals: pinot noir and merlot. This wine has a nice strawberry aroma with a tinge of orange on the palate. Not too heavy. Would be nice with some grilled salmon, or a lightly flavoured cheese. Enjoy.