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!


Vancouver Playhouse Wine Fest 2010 – Day 1

Well I’m back from the Trade tasting at the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival. I’m off to the Public tasting that starts in about 1 hr. So some quick notes here for u, in case you are going and want to buy some wines.
There are a ton of Argentinean Malbecs there. If you like full bodied wines, please try them out. I did find a few Malbecs I really enjoyed. They are:

– Casa Montes Bodegas & Vinedos “Alzamora Gran Reserva Malbec 2006”
– Cavas del 23, “Beviam Reserve Malbec 2007”

– Vina Cobos “Bramare Malbec Lujan de Cuyo 2007” – Bodega Catena Zapata “Alta Malbec 2006”
– Bodegas Escorihuela 1884 “1884 Limited Production Malbec 2006”
– Bodegas Salentein “Malbec Reserva 2007”

– Bodegas Salentein “Numina 2006”

– Bodega Vistalba “Tomero Gran Reserve Malbec 2006”

I didn’t get through all the Malbecs there are. I’m sure there are more… More news to come after I finish tonight’s tasting, and tastings for the rest of the week.


Chile Day 9 – Montgras and Montes

Chile day 9 – Today was my M&M day. That is Montgras and Montes. Two premium wineries located in the Colchagua Valley in Chile. In the morning I met with Mr. Santiago Margozzini from Montgras. He led me through a tasting of their wines as well as drove me through part of their Ninquen vineyards. Most of their vines are located in the Colchagua valley, but they also have some vineyards in the Leyda and the Maipo Valley. Many of the wines I tasted I do not think are in BC yet, but may soon arrive. To keep the blog short, i’ll keep my notes to one white and one red for each winery, with my full tasting notes to come when I’m back in Vancouver. From Leyda, I tried a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay. The Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2009 is 100% stainless steel fermented. They tried to minimize oxygen content with the grapes using dry ice. The wine was only bottled one month ago, and I think i am one of the first few non Chileans to try this vintage. The wine has lots of lemon, lime and grapefruit aromas with a slight hint of greenness. On the palate it had high acidity, with more lemon, lime and grapefruit flavours. And a very long length. I tried 7 reds with Montgras. All but one came from the Colchagua Valley. The MontGras Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 was deep garnet in the glass. Vanilla, black fruit, black cherries, cassis and tarry aromas. It had lots of fruitiness on the palate, with flavours of black cherry, vanilla, cloves, and chocolate. The tannins were soft but still provided a dry finish.

The afternoon I dedicated to the Montes winery, and wine maker Mr. Aurelio Montes Jr. I had met Aurelio in Vancouver during the Wines of Chile events in September and arranged to meet him at the winery in October. Aurelio first drove me around the vineyard, pointing out the differences within the vineyard topography and how that influenced the varieties planted and how the vines were planted (e.g. training the vines, and vine density). After we toured the winery, then onto tasting his wines. Again keeping brevity, i’ll only review one white and one red wine for the blog, with more to come. For the white wine, I tried the Montes Sauvignon Blanc Limited Selection 2009 from the Leyda Valley (FYI, i’m starting to really enjoy Leyda Sauv Blancs more than from other parts of Chile). This one had citrus, nettles, herbal and green chile aromas. On the palate the wine had citrus, and green chile pepper flavours. Light in body but long length. Pair with some seafood. I tried 7 red wines, but the one I will talk about is the Montes Alpha Carmenere 2007. This wine was deep purple in the glass. Capsicum, back fruit and vanilla aromas. On the palate I taste red and black cherries, vanilla and a slight hint of capsicum. This wine had a soft, round mouth feel and a long length. Pair carmenere with spicy Thai, Mexican or Indian food. I can’t wait to try this back in Vancouver.

Thanks to both Santiago and Aurelio for showing me their vineyards and fine wines. Saludos!

Finishing dinner with Aurelio Montes

In my previous blog I took you through the reception, first and second course. To wind up this dinner at Saltaire with Aurelio Montes, we have the third and final course. Our third course was a slow braised lamb shank, with rosemary tomato jus, chatrelle, fresh tyme risotto and pattypans (a kind of squash). As you can excpect a slow braised lamb shank is going to be full of flavour and needing some big red wines to complement it. The two Montes wines we had were the2005 Alpha M and the 2005 Purple Angel. The Alpha M is 95 point WIne Spectator rated. This is a Bordeaux blend, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with cabernet franc, merlot and petit verdot. Deep purple in the glass, with a round mouthfeel. Lots of dark fruit and spice, with a dry oak finish. The second wine was the Purple Angel. Aurelio Montes has many angels drawn on different wine labels for the winery. The angels take care of the winery. This one is primarily carmenere (Chile’s signature grape) with a small amount of petit verdot for extra colour and tannin. Carmenere typically has a capsicum aroma/flavour and it was evident in this wine. But it also had cherry oak and vanilla. Both are big wines, but I think the Alpha M paired slightly better with the lamb shank.

The final course, is of course, dessert. Our dessert was everything to do with chocolate. There was a cocoa tulle, a dark chocolate truffle, pot du creme, and a peanut butter cup. What to pair with these chocolates? The Montes Folly. This is a 100% syrah. The story behind the folly has a few versions, with one being people telling Aurelio that syrah cannot ripen in Chile and that it would be a folly to try. Again this wine is deep ruby in the glass like the other big reds from Montes. Aromas of cassis, vanilla oak and licorice. Yet the tannins were very supple, which again is a trademark for Aurelio’s reds. Red wine and chocolate are a great pairing and this worked very well with the dark chocolate.

Please take a chance and try one of the wines from Montes. You won’t be disappointed. Enjoy!

Dinner with Aurelio Montes

Yesterday evening was exceptional. Through the South World Wine Society and Whitehall Agencies, I and 55 other people sat down to dinner at Saltaire in West Vancouver and enjoy the wines from Aurelio Montes. Mr. Montes’ winery is the 4th largest winery in Chile. He bought to us:

Montes Leyda Sauvignon Blanc
Montes Classic Cabernet Sauvignon
Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Carmenere
Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon
Alpha Chardonnay
Alpha M cabernet sauvignon blend
Folly 100% Syrah
Purple Angel Carmenere Petit Verdot

The Alpha, Folly, and Purple Angel wines are all Premium wines from Montes. Aurelio is a tall imposing man, but when you talk to him, he is very nice and down to earth. He told us of his experience of starting the Montes winery and growing it to the point where he was able to open a winery in Argentina in 2002, and another winery in Napa Valley in 2006! All the Montes’ red wines have silky smooth tannins. Aurelio says it is because he likes to let their red grapes hang on the vine as long as possible. His Sauvignon Blanc was very much in the New World, New Zealand style. It had good acidity and a wonderful herbal nose (and paired very nicely with the chilled black tiger prawns with garlic aioli appetizer).

Our first course was a sweet curry creamed orzo which was paired with the Alpha Chardonnay. The Chardonnay comes from the Casablanca valley. It is oak fermented and aged in the barrel for one year. The lees (the dead yeast cells) are stirred in the barrel regularly to add a creamy texture/flavour to this wine. It had a wonderful pear and vanilla aroma. The creaminess of the wine and the full pear/apple/spice flavour paired nicely with the orzo.

The second course was a smoked black cod. It was paired with the Cabernet Carmenere blend and with the Alpha Cabernet blend. I thought the Alpha Cab with fuller body and firmer tannins held up well with the strong smoky flavour from the cod.

More to come for the third course and final course in my next blog.

You can visit the Montes website for more info.