Sangria for Summer!

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Author: TamorlanSummer is just around the corner, your patio furniture is coming out. You need something refreshing to drink. How about sangria?

If you have never had a glass of sangria, it is a mixture of sliced fruit, wine, and club soda or other sparkling water. The wine can be white or red, so make a pitcher of each if you are having a party on your patio. Sangria, from Spain, works well with tapas, so try to put together a few classic Spanish tapas, such as grilled prawns with garlic in oil, potatoes in spicy tomato sauce, grilled sausages, olives, cheese, and more.

White Sangria Recipe

  • 1 bottle of a light, unwooded white wine, like Casal Garcia Vinho Verde or a Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio.
  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 1 sliced lime
  • 1/2 sliced orange
  • 1/2 chopped red delicious apple
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Dissolve the sugar with a bit of the wine in a pitcher.  After the sugar is dissolved, add the chopped fruit. Pour the remaining bottle of wine into the pitcher, then refrigerate overnight, if possible, otherwise give it a few hours.  The next day add a few ice cubes to a glass, fill the glass 1/2 way with sangria, and fill the other half with the soda water / sparkling water. Enjoy.  If you like peaches, you could use them instead of the apple or orange pieces.

Red Sangria Recipe

  • 1 bottle of an inexpensive red wine (try a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Tempranillo. Check wines from Chile or Spain)
  • 1 shot of brandy (optional)
  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 1 sliced lime
  • 1/2 sliced orange
  • 1/2 chopped red delicious apple
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

As you can see the ingredients are very similar to the white sangria.  So are the preparations. Dissolve the sugar with a bit of the wine in a pitcher.  After the sugar is dissolved, add the chopped fruit. Add a shot of brandy (optional). Pour the remaining bottle of wine into the pitcher, then refrigerate overnight, or at least a few hours.  The next day add a few ice cubes to a glass, fill the glass 1/2 way with sangria, and fill the other half with the soda water / sparkling water. Enjoy.  If you like peaches, you could use them instead of the apple or orange pieces.

Enjoy these two sangria with friends and with food!

BC Syrah for Summer Sips

Well, Syrah. A big wine. So maybe Summer Sips is not the correct term. Maybe I should call this one, Summer Gulps. Because you would want a big glass of syrah, and enjoy a good amount in your mouth, probably just before or after you have something nice from the BBQ. Syrah loves heat so that it can fully ripen and you can appreciate all the flavours this grape can produce. The southern Okanagan gets a lot of heat, so there should be plenty around.

Syrah typically has high tannins and high acidity, with flavours of blackberry, blueberry, dark chocolate, mint, eucalyptus, smoked meat, black pepper, white pepper, liquorice, and cloves. The high tannin content of the grapes often makes these wines good candidates for aging.  This grape ranks up there in ageability together with Cabernet Sauvignon.

You may also see the term “Shiraz” instead of “Syrah“.  These are the same grape, just a different style wine making.  In France, you tend to get a more restrained version of the wine produced, with less fruit forwardness and more tannins and acidity.  In newer wine making regions of the world, you tend to get a “New World” style called Shiraz.  Australia has been the poster child for the Shiraz style, which is a big block buster wine full of ripe fruit.  Both styles have their followers and their detractors.

Checking the www.everythingwine.com website, I find the following BC Syrah in the $15-$25 range:

Jackson-Triggs Private Reserve Shiraz 750ml Syrah $19.99
Kettle Valley Syrah 375ml Syrah $23.99
Marichel Vineyard Syrah/Viognier 750 mL Syrah $24.99
Peller Proprietor’s Reserve Shiraz 1.5L Syrah $16.99
Stag’s Hollow Rose Syrah 750 ml Syrah $21.99

More syrah  are usually at a slightly higher price point, so checking everythingwine.com again, in the $25-$50, I have the following additional BC syrah:

Blasted Church Winery Syrah 750 mL Syrah $31.99
Church & State Coyote Bowl Syrah 750mL Syrah $33.99
Desert Hills Syrah 750 mL Syrah $39.99
Hillside Syrah 750 mL Syrah $31.99
Laughing Stock Small Caps Program Syrah/Viognier 750ml Syrah $39.99
Marichel Vineyard Syrah 750 mL Syrah $49.99
Mission Hill Family Estate Select Lot Collection Syrah 750 mL Syrah $37.99
Morning Bay Syrah 750ml Syrah $46.99
Mt Boucherie Summit Rsv Syrah 750ml Syrah $30.99
Nichol Syrah 750ml Syrah $35.99
Peller Prop Res Shiraz 4 L Syrah $38.99
Poplar Grove Syrah 750 mL Syrah $48.99
Quinta Ferreira Syrah 750ml Syrah $29.99
Township 7 Syrah 750ml Syrah $33.99
Twisted Tree Syrah 750ml Syrah $28.99
Winchester Cellars Syrah 750ml Syrah $33.99

You may have noticed that some of the syrah are blended with a white aromatic grape called “viognier“. Syrah’s traditional home is the Rhone Valley in France.  Viognier is also from the same area.  French wine makers in this region have found through many years of wine making that by co-fermenting a bit of viognier with the syrah grape, that the colour from the syrah grape becomes more intense in the resulting wine, plus you get some of the aromatic perfume from the viognier.

I have had the Mission Hill Select Lot Collection Syrah from past years, and this is a very refined wine. The price point for this is on the higher end, so if you are going to sip this wine, make it a special occasion.  On the summer sipping theme, Jackson-Triggs produces enjoyable wines at reasonable prices.  Their 2007 Proprietor’s Reserve Shiraz 2007 won a Gold Medal at the Okanagan Valley Fall Wine Festival (I think this is the same as the Private Reserve Shiraz listed above) and is only $19.99. Last month I was at the Township 7 winery in the Fraser Valley.  I tried their 2006 Syrah and noted that this wine had blueberries and plum on the nose.  South mouth feel, with pulm and vanilla flavours, and a sour cherry finish ($24.99). I had also visited a while back the Therapy Vineyard and tried their Shiraz 2007.  From my notes, I noted a medium purple colour in the glass.  Dark fruit, black berries and slight oak aroma.  Ripe black fruit, plummy with a bit of chocolate on the palate.  Smooth mouthfeel with a long finish.  I marked this wine as a star in my tasting notes.

If you like this post on Summer Sippers, or other of my posts, please tag or tweet them. Merci. Now go and enjoy some Syrah.

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!

Fraser Valley wineries – A short summer trip

Well summer is here! Sort of. Well, hopefully soon. Don’t let the poor weather slow you down though. Short weekend trips in the Fraser Valley could be a way to cheer your spirits. There are many wineries in BC’s Fraser Valley. They are open to the public with tasting rooms, and are probably at most a 45 minute drive from most places in Vancouver.

So which wineries can you visit in the Fraser Valley (I put in the web links for you)?
Domaine de Chaberton Estate Winery & Bacchus Bistro

The Fort Wine Company

Lotusland Vineyards

Pacific Breeze Winery

Neck of the Woods Winery

River’s Bend Winery

Sanduz Estate Winery

St. Urban Winery Ltd.

Wellbrook Winery

Westham Island Estate Winery

Lulu Island Winery

Township 7 Vineyards

Blue Heron Fruit Winery

Some of these wineries you may see from the links to their websites are berry fruit (not grape-based) wines. If you haven’t tried a berry fruit wine, such as from red currant or blueberry, give it a try. I think the berry fruit wines, served chilled would be nice in the summer on the patio.

Cheers!

Hart House’s Summer Garden Parties

Sometimes I hear about events at various restaurants with food and wine. Here is a case in point. Burnaby’s Hart House is a beautiful heritage home at Deer Lake Park. They have just released their Summer Garden Parties announcement. You may want to partake, and you may bump into me at one of them. Enjoy!

Burnaby’s Hart House at Deer Lake is pleased to announce the dates for our summer garden party events. Each garden party starts with a casual tasting of wines from the evening’s featured region, held in Hart House’s elegant gardens. Guests may then purchase wines from the evening’s specially-selected wine list to pair with the al fresco dinner that follows. Live music and a spectacular view of Deer Lake will add to diners’ enjoyment of the evening.

The 2009 summer event schedule includes:

Lobster Supper – Wednesday, June 17
Fresh Nova Scotia lobster is the life of our annual Maritime-infused party.
Wine sampling and live music help make this event a great way to welcome in the summer.

Italian Garden Party – Wednesday, July 22
Our classic Italian Garden Party features Mediterranean cuisine paired with premium Italian wines. Guests are welcome to stroll around the beautiful Hart House estate lawn and gardens.

Evening in Provence – Wednesday, August 19
This is a celebration of the culture and flavours of Provence , France . A sampling of French wines in our gardens is followed by a dinner featuring Provence-inspired cuisine.

California Experience – Wednesday, September 9
California’s world-class wines have earned a prominent place on the world stage in recent years. Here’s your chance to sample some of California ’s best, paired with exceptional cuisine.

All events start at 6:00pm. Reservations will be accepted starting May 21, 2009.

Reservations by phone only at 604-298-4278 www.harthouserestaurant.com

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.