Some Canadian Wines to Try on Canada Day

Canada flagCanada Day is around the corner.  With your day off, I hope you will have a chance to celbrate our country with family and friends.  If you are having a get together, here are a few Canadian wines that you may want to try.  I’ve tasted these wines since January this year, so you should be able to find them in your favourite BC Liquor store or wine shop.  Enjoy!

Spierhead Pinot Gris 2013 (BC $19.90)

I tried their 2012 last year and noted how much I enjoyed it, with it’s range of flavours from citrus to tropical fruit to apples.  It won a Gold Medal at Okanagan Wine Festival – 2013 B.C. Wine Awards and other awards as well.  Their 2013 was pale to medium lemon with a tint of green in the glass.  On the nose I picked up Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples, together with melons and a hint of vanilla.  With some airing, lemon and grapefuit aromas also became apparent.  It’s dry with medium plus acidity, with an acidic prickle that dances on your tongue.  Medium plus body, round mouth feel, some creamy lees, a hint of honey, and stone fruits, pears, lemons and Red Delicious apple flavours.  Again with a bit of air, I also picked up lychee.  Quite a mouthful of flavours.  Mouth watering finish.  This wine really tastes like fresh fruit to me.  A very nice example of BC Pinot Gris.  With halibut season underway, I would love to try this wine with a griled halibut steak, nugget potatoes, and salad.

Le Vieux Pin Petit Sigma Blanc 2012 ($17)

Why Petit?  Petit wines from France are the second labels of famous wineries.  In some vintages a winery may determine that some grapes did not reach the quality needed for their top tier wine, so the grapes go into their second tier wine.  An example of this second tier is Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux.  This Petit wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Viognier, Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Erhenfelser.  The wine had waxy, lemony, and grapefruit aromas with a hint of flowers.  It was dry with medium plus acidity and some viscosity in the mouth.  I picked up some light tropical fruit that was underlain with full citrus flavours, particularly lemon, but also a hint of lime.  There was also some pear and apple in the background.  Steely on the palate.  Peppery and mouth watering on the finish with some grapefruit rind flavour.  A good wine for your summer, in a screw cap, so meant to be enjoyed now.

Painted Rock Syrah 2011

Very nice nose. A mix of black cherry and very ripe raspberry, with some vanilla in the back. Medium plus body, dry with bright purple fruit, cassis and blueberry flavours, together with vanilla. Silky tannins from start to end leaving you with a soft finish and mouth watering acidity.  Across the tongue you get a salty minerality which was quite interesting to me.  I also did pick up some leafiness on the finish.  A very enjoyable wine.

Bartier Scholefield Red 2011

My last wine, the B.S Red 2011 is a blend of mostly Merlot, with lesser amounts of Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Gamay Noir. This wine was noticeably dark to opaque ruby in the glass. Lots of sweet, purple fruit aromas, along with raspberries, plums, vanilla and a hint of chocolate.  Quite enjoyable to nose.  Wow, lots of layers of juicy fruits on the palate.  Ripe raspberries, red cherries, red and black fruit, and plums.  I also picked up vanilla, sweet spices, and milk chocolate flavours.  This wine has medium body and is soft and silky, coating your mouth.  The juicy fruit flavours were dragging my tastebuds all over the place.  The tannins were not too strong, but there was enough to support the fruit.  On my second day of tasting I noted aromas of violets, and a hint of blueberries on the palate.  An outstanding wine expressing an exuberance of youth in my opinion.  I might try this with some bbq’d baby back ribs.

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My Favourite Wine Writing Words

Do you ever wonder what words you like to use the most when you are talking about wine, or some other topic that is important to you? I do. So I decided to try 3 different “Word Cloud Generator” tools on the web to scour through my mywinepal.com website blog entries and find out which words are my most popular. I decided to try more than one tool to see if the tools come up with the same words or are completely different.

The results of the 3 Word Cloud Generators and their graphics are below.  I left the word clouds in the format produced by the tools rather than try to make the clouds all look the same in shape and text orientation so that you get a better idea of what is produced.  Just in case you have never seen a word cloud before, the more frequently a word is used in a blog, document, etc, the larger it appears in the word cloud.

My Word Clouds

Wordle was the first tool that I ever heard about for creating word clouds.  From my experience, I think it does a very good job of finding favourite words.

MyWinePal Wordle

MyWinePal – Wordle

Tagxedo also seems to do a good job.  Do you notice any similar words to my Wordle word cloud?  One thing I notice showing up is Pinterest and Facebook, which are “Like” buttons on my blog, so maybe this algorithm is reading more than just the blog articles.

MyWinePal Tagxedo

MyWinePal – Tagxedo

Word it Out was the last of the three tools.  I think this word cloud is much more similar to Wordle, but the presentation, as-is, is not too stunning.

MyWinePal Word it Out

MyWinePal – Word it Out

Between the 3 word clouds, I think my favourite words are:

  • wine
  • Vancouver
  • Pinot
  • fruit
  • Syrah
  • Chardonnay
  • France

An interesting experiment that may also give you some insight into what I like to talk about, or wines that I enjoy.  You may want to try this with other blogs, or with MyWinePal.com in the future, as theoretically each new article I post can potentially change the word cloud!

Star Studded BBQ With Winemaker Eric Dunham & Celeb Kyle MacLachlan at Tulalip Casino

Eric Dunham and Kyle MacLachlan courtesy of Vogue

The Tulalip Resort Casino in WA State has put on some very classy wine and food events in the past, with the most recent that I attended was the “Taste of Tulalip” in November.  I just received this press release of their upcoming summer wine makers’ dinner series, and they make me want to drive down to each one!  I no doubt these will be spectacular events based on the past events.  Enjoy!

~~~

Tulalip, Washington — Eric Dunham, enological legend and Walla Walla wine world luminary will share his award-winning, single vineyard “Artist Series Wines” at Tulalip Resort Casino on Saturday, June 23rd.  In partnership with screen star and Washington native Kyle MacLachlan (check Kyle’s bio here), the duo has created Pursued by Bear, Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Baby Bear Syrah. Both join culinarian extraordinaire Chef Perry Mascitti and his team for an evening of great sips, quips and exceptional food pairings under the direction of Tulalip Sommelier Tom Thompson. Guests will be served under the stars or by the fire on the Mpulse patio.

This rare and not to be missed summer star-studded evening, will feature five dynamic food stations. Each showcases the diversity of Tulalip’s culinary depth.  The meat and fish grilling station offers guests a selection of six basting sauces, seasoning salt and assorted relishes.  Among the plethora of vegetable station choices is a cedar grilled garden bundle and attendees are invited to slide into the slider station to try the mini-halibut burger, Italian sausage focaccia and venison sliders.  As diners toss their way over to the salad section, they can nibble on everything seasonal.  Chef Nikol will work her usual kitchen magic (done with sweetness) on a trio of sinful desserts including fried fruit pies and fudgesicles.

The winemaker dinner series continues on July 7 when 2012 Taste of Tulalip Honorary Winemaker Chris Sparkman of Sparkman Cellars shares his powerhouse pours and shows how well suited they are to enjoy with great food.  This is a winemaker who knows his stuff having spent a couple of decades as a sommelier and wine buyer for some of the U.S.’s best restaurants.

On August 4th, guests will dine al fresco with the wine pioneering Mondavi’s as Marc and his family bring their legendary Napa bottling selection to Tulalip.  Chef Perry will prepare a mid-summer evening “Krug family picnic on the lawn” at the resort’s Amphitheatre, while the Mondavi generations speak about their family’s amazing history.

The Dunham / MacLachlan Winemaker Dinner Details

The Dunham/MacLachlan Winemaker Dinner begins at 5:00 pm and is priced at $115 pp all-inclusive as is the evening with Sparkman Cellars.  The Mondavi Generations Picnic is priced at $145 pp all-inclusive.  Guests can save by purchasing the entire series of three events for $340 pp all-inclusive.   For ticket purchase go to https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/250074

About Tulalip Resort Casino
Tulalip Resort Casino is the largest and most distinctive gaming, meeting, dining, entertainment and shopping destination in Washington State. The AAA Four Diamond resort’s world-class amenities have earned the property Condé Nast Traveler Gold List status as well as the “Best Resort” award from NW Meetings & Events magazine.  With six dining venues, headlined by the exceptional Tulalip Bay (TB) restaurant and Blackfish Wild Salmon Grill and Bar (BF), the restaurants have been individually honored with accolades from Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence” (TB), the Washington Wine Commission “Award of Distinction” (BF) and “Grand Award” (TB), the Seattle Magazine award for restaurant leadership in the business community (TB), to Wine Press Northwest’s “Herbies” for an “Outstanding Washington Wine List” (TB).  The Taste of Tulalip, the resort’s annual signature food, wine and tradition event has also been recognized as the “Best Wine Event Featuring Washington Wine”.  Tulalip is conveniently located between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., just  off Interstate-5 at exit 200 and is an enterprise of the Tulalip Tribes.  For reservations please call (866) 716-7162 or visit www.tulalipresort.com .

Favorite Wines from My France Trip

As I blogged across France, you would have seen my reviews of different wines I enjoyed. I thought that instead of leaving the reviews scattered, it might be nice for you to see my top France trip wine picks in one place. Hopefully some, or all, of these wines are available where you live. Enjoy!

M. Chapoutier Les Arènes, Cornas, 2007. This is another wonderful Syrah from the tiny Cornas appellation. I read on Wikipedia that Cornas is Celtic for “burnt earth”, so similar to the “roasted slope” of Côte-Rôtie. Medium to dark ruby in the glass. A very nice nose with mint, crushed herbs, olives and dark fruit. Full body with blueberry and dark fruit flavours.  Medium acidity and tannins.  Long soft finish.  I really like this wine, and bought a bottle to take home.

Chapoutier Deschants and Petite Ruche wines

M. Chapoutier De l’Orée, Hermitage, 2008. This wine is made from Marsanne grapes grown by 60-70 year old vines. The actual plot for this wine is called “Les Murets” and is composed of very old fluvioglacial alluvial deposits that face east, getting the morning sun. The grapes for this wine are hand harvested. About half the grapes are vinified in large wooden barrels with regular lees stirring and the rest fermented in vats. The wine matures on lees with stirrings for 6 months. Maturation is between 10 and 12 months. Very deep golden honey in colour.  Lemon and honey aromas in the glass. Full body, round mouth feel, with medium acidity and lemon and honey flavours.  Long length. A very elegant wine. This is another wine that can age 30 to 60 years!

M. Chapoutier Deschants (Marsanne), Saint-Joseph, 2009. Deep golden, beautiful colour in the nice.  Very nice nose with peaches and flowers.  Medium plus body and good acidity, and flavours of peaches, orange and citrus.  Also a vein of minerality in this wine.  Very refreshing.  Medium length. I liked this wine a lot.

M. Chapoutier Petite Ruche (Syrah), Crozes-Hermitage, 2009. Deep purple in the glass with lots of cassis aromas.  Medium acidity and body.  Lots of ripe cassis and blueberry flavours.  Dry finish.  Very nice!

Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu and Clos du Bourg 2010 Sec wine

Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu Sec

2010 (€14). Sec means dry so these and the next two wines are dry. This wine was light straw in colour with small bubbles.  Nice lemon and honeycomb aromas with a hint of minty herbal.  Round nice mouthfeel.  Very fruity.  Citrus, flowers, and minerality.  Good acidity.  I really liked this wine.

Domaine Huet Clos du Bourg Sec 2010 (€16). Medium lemon colour.  Light citrus and apple aromas. Medium body, small bubbles, round in the mouth but with medium acidity to keep it refreshing.  Some honey, apple, citrus and spice flavours.  A very elegant wine.

More Wineries to Check at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival #VPIWF

As I mentioned in my earlier blog article, the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, has a PDF brochure now available. It  has a listing of all the wineries attending this year. I started to point out some wineries to visit at the International Festival tasting, but needed this second article to finish off the list.  I already covered Spain, Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, and BC.  Although I may not mention each winery listed, I still suggest trying them as you may find a wine you love.

Wines from Germany

Germany is well-known for their rieslings.  In their Qualitätswein mit Prädikat rating system. You have:

  • Kabinett
  • Spätlese
  • Auslese
  • Beerenauslese
  • Trockenbeerenauslese and
  • Eiswein

With increasing level of sweetness.  But don’t forget that Germany also produces wines from Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir,  Scheurebe, Bacchus, and Gewürztraminer (and more). Bürgerspital Estate would be one winery to try as they do have a wide range of varietal wines to try.  It is also amazing to consider how steep the slopes are where they grow their grapes; check out the picture I included from their website. Schloss Schonborn is another premium winery, has a wide range, and a sparkling wine.

Wines from Italy

In Italy, the first in the list is Antinori.  This is a large, well-known, and regarded winery, that has it’s winery in Italy, but also wineries in California and Washington state.  Their innovations played a large part in the “Super-Tuscan” revolution of the 1970s. They are well-known for their launch of Tignanello, a barrique-aged wine from the Tignanello vineyard that contained not only Sangiovese, but also Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, which meant that it was ineligible for the Chianti Classico appellation.  This wine, plus Sassicaia from another Tuscan winery, helped to bring about the Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) classification in Italy. Needless to say, if they are pouring Tignanello, you should try it.

Accordini Igino is from the Veneto region (NorthEast) of Italy, famous for Valpolicella and Amarone. If you have never tried an Amarone, you should be in for a treat.  Amarone is a rich, dry red wine made from the partially dried grapes of the Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes. The drying process concentrates the remaining sugars and flavors in the grapes to produce a full-bodied wine with lots of flavour. Consider an Amarone for a special dinner.

Beni di Batasiolo is from the Piedmont (NorthWest) corner of Italy.  Beni di Batasiolo is quite well-known for their off-dry Moscato d’Asti, but they do have a wide range of red and white wines.  On the red side, we may be treated to a Barolo, Barbaresco, or Barbera d’Alba.

Ca’ del Bosco is a winery from the Lombardi region of Italy. They are a relatively new winery, who is on the leading edge of the exciting new wave of Italian wine producers, making top-quality sparkling and still wines.  I checked their website and they do have quite a range of sparkling wines, that I am looking forward to tasting.

Wines from New Zealand

New Zealand and BC are quite similar.  We both have been producing wines from the noble grapes starting the 1970s.  We are both also cool-climate wine producers, and I think make some very nice Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Astrolabe, Giesen Wine Estate, Man O’War Vineyards, Mud House Wines, and Sacred Hill Wines are wineries that you may not have heard of, but they all are very good producers.  Try Astrolabe‘s Sauvignon Blanc . I can recommend the Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008. When I tried it last year it had a range of smoky, cherry, and leafy aromas. Wild flavours on your palate with cherry, oak and strawberry flavours.  Also try Mud House’s Pinot Gris.  I also recommend trying the Giesen “The Brothers” Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2008. Again from a past tasting, it had lots of herbal and gooseberry aroma. Bracing acidity with green flavours.

In August 2010, I was able to meet with Man O’ War winemaker, Mr. Duncan McTavish. At that time I recommended his Man O’ War Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 and his red blend made with Merlot / Cabernet / Franc / Malbec 2008.  The winery also has a premium level of wines called their Black label wines.  They are named after great battleships or classes of battleships.  Hopefully Duncan will be bringing his  Valhalla Chardonnay, Dreadnought Syrah, and Ironclad Bordeaux blend. Read my MyWinePal Meets Man O’ War article here.

Wines from Portugal

The G7 Wines of Portugal group visited Vancouver a few months ago, introducing us to the still white and red wines of Portugal, and of course their wonderful port.  Aveleda has a variety of labels: Casal Garcia, Aveleda Fonte, Quinta da Aveleda, Aveleda Alvarinho, Charamba, Follies and Adega Velha. You may be most familiar with their Casal Garcia Vinho Verde, “green wine”.  Vinho Verde, comes both as a red and a white wine, but I think only white wines have reached BC.  Vinho Verde is a very refreshing and versatile white wine that has a bit of effervescence to it. Try it with some seafood. They also have a Follies line of wines. I was fortunate to taste their Follies Cabernet Sauvignon / Touriga Nacional (30/70%) 2008 (~$16). It was one of my favorite wines from the G7 tasting. Violets, black fruit, spice and mint aromas. Full bodied. Good fruit / tannins balance. Purple fruit flavour with a dry tannic finish.

Quinta do Crasto is well-known for their ports here, and will hopefully show us their range of still red wines. There are a few of their red wines currently available through the BCLDB, but there are many more to show. Their single varietal Touriga Nacional and their Touriga Roriz should be interesting to taste.  These are two of the indigenous grapes to Portugal that go into the blend for port. The most expensive ports are primarily made from Touriga Nacional. It has aromas and flavours of violets, blueberries, black fruits, and spice. A grape that produces a very full-bodied wine. Touriga Roriz is the most widely grown grape in Portugal.  It has cherry, jam, blackberry and spice on the nose. The grape has high tannins, and can age for a long time. Quinta do Vale Dona Maria is another producer of both port and still red wines to check out at the festival. Symington, Fonseca Guimaraens and Taylor Fladgate are famous port producers.  You should visit all of them, but maybe wait toward the end of your tasting session as these ports could overpower your palate for white and red still wines.

Wines from South Africa

South African wines are a bit of Old World and New World style put together.  People tend to have strong feelings about South African wines, either for or against.  Many of their wines are in my opinion built for drinking together with food.  We are lucky to have some premium South African producers at the Festival.  Boekenhoutskloof produces some great red wines from entry level to premium.  On the entry level they have The Wolf Trap, which is a blend containing syrah, mourvedre, and viognier. You get spice, structure, and perfume from these three grapes respectively.  On the premium, hopefully we will have a chance to try their Boekenhoutskloof Collection Syrah.  On the label you will notice 7 deck chairs, which I was told represents each one of the winery principals. It is quite a process to produce this wine which is fermented with native yeasts.  Here is the description from BHK’s website:

“In 2008 the fruit was harvested over an one week period starting on February 25st. The complexity of this wine also benefits from the diversity in grape maturity from the different picks. The fruit is kept in the cold room overnight before it gets sorted and crushed into concrete fermenter. A small percentage of whole bunches were put into the bottom of the tank of some batches to get a slight effect of carbonic maceration. After 4 days of cold soaking, the fermentation starts by only using native yeasts. The primary fermentation is done within two and a half weeks with the temperature that peaks at around 29°C. During the fermentation the wine gets a delestage 2 – 3 times per day. Pigeage was never done on this Syrah. It also received a postfermentation maceration for another week before being pressed to 2nd filled barrels to undergo MLF. After 18 months in barrel the wine gets a light egg-white fining and racking before its final 9 months in oak.”

Graham Beck Wines produce a wide range of wines, from sparkling to dessert to white, rose, and red wine.  Graham Beck also has a social conscience and opened the Graham and Rhona Beck Skills Centre near Madeba in Robertson. Part of an extensive and innovative social development program, the centre aims to facilitate skills development for the long term upliftment of the farming community in the Breede River Valley.  They also are supporters of the environment. You can read about Graham Beck’s Biodiversity drive here. I have enjoyed their Game Reserve Shiraz, Game Reserve Chenin Blanc, and their Méthode Cap Classique Brut NV sparkling wine in the past.  Glen Carlou‘s Syrah and Chardonnay has won many awards from around the world.  Their Syrah 2004 was awarded John Platter’s Wine of the Year in 2006.  Their wine is reasonably priced, is a general listing in the BCLDB, and in my opinion a great deal.

Wines from the USA

There are plenty of wonderful wines from the USA. From Oregon there is the solid King Estate.  They are well known for their excellent Pinot Noir, but I also really like them for their Pinot Gris.  For Washington State, you will want to try Columbia Crest.  The Columbia Crest 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, was Wine Spectator’s No. 1 Wine in the World for 2009. Also I’ve tried their H3 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 and really enjoyed it (Horse Heaven Hills = H3).   There are several California wineries to choose from.  If you like big, jammy Zinfandels, I would expect to see the wide range that are produced by RavenswoodCaymus Winery and Clos Du Val are two cult level wineries for Sauvignon Blanc. Another good producer of Cabernet Sauvignon at a lower price point is Louis M MartiniRodney Strong (both their white and red wines are excellent), Robert Mondavi, and Stag’s Leap are also excellent producers of wine.  Give them each a try.

I could keep going on about all these wineries, but I think I’ll stop with this.  If you have any favorite wineries, please let me know, and go out and enjoy the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival!!!

GERMANY ITALY
Balthasar Ress Antinori
Bürgerspital Estate Azienda Vitivinicola
Deinhard Accordini Igino
Henkell Badia a Coltibuono
Schloss Reinhartshausen Bastianich / La Mozza
Schloss Schonborn Beni di Batasiolo
St. Urbans-Hof Fontanafredda
Mionetto
Pasqua
GREECE Rocca Delle Macìe
Boutari Tenuta Sant’Antonio
Santa Margherita /
Ca’ del Bosco
ISRAEL Tedeschi
Galil Mountain Winery /
Yarden
NEW ZEALAND
PORTUGAL Astrolabe
Aveleda Giesen Wine Estate
Blandy’s Madeira Kim Crawford Wines
Fonseca Guimaraens Man O’War Vineyards
Quinta do Crasto Mud House Wines
Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Oyster Bay Wines
Sogrape Vinhos Sacred Hill Wines
Symington – Dow’s Port Stoneleigh
Symington – Graham’s Port
Taylor Fladgate / Croft
USA
CALIFORNIA
SOUTH AFRICA Bonterra Vineyards
Boekenhoutskloof Caymus Winery
Durbanville Hills Clos Du Val
Graham Beck Wines Delicato Family Vineyards
KWV Wines Francis Ford Coppola
Presents LLC
Nederburg
Glen Carlou
J. Lohr Vineyards
& Wines
Louis M Martini
Miner Family Vineyards
OREGON Quady Winery
King Estate Ravenswood Winery
Ridge Vineyards
Robert Mondavi Winery
WASHINGTON Rodney Strong Vineyards
Columbia Crest Signorello Estate /
Hedges Family Estates / Edge Winery / Fuse Wines
Snoqualmie Vineyards Stags’ Leap
Trefethen Family
Vineyards
Truchard Vineyards
Wente Vineyards

Here is the download link for the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival brochure.  Enjoy!

Boekenhoutskloof

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!

MyWinePal visits Mistral French Bistro

It was a beautiful day on Saturday, so I decided to have lunch at Mistral French Bistro in Kitsilano. I’d never been there before but have heard that the food is very good. I checked through their website to see that they have 4 Fixed Price menus for lunch. All around the $20 mark, that includes appetizer, main course and dessert. A very good deal in my opinion.

So my selection was the “Provence” lunch ($20). My selections for my lunch were:

Appetizer: Assortment of traditional Provencal appetizers – Mediterranean black olive spread with croutons, Puree of creamed Cod, Anchovy and garlic dipping sauce with crisp celery

Main: Braised lamb shoulder stew with olives Nicoise and seasonal vegetables, house French Fries

Dessert: Dark Chocolate mousse

To the appetizer and Main course, I enjoyed a glass of L’ORANGERAIE Rose 2009. This wine is from Vin de Pays d’Oc, France and is a mixture of 60% Cinsault, 20% Grenache, 20% Syrah. The wine had nice light cherry flavour, nice acidity, and low tannins. This rose went very nice with the Provencal appetizers and balanced the heaviness of the stew.

The appetizers were quite nice. In particular I enjoyed the black olive spread (tapenade) together with the radish. The saltiness of the tapenade and the pepperiness of the radish cancelled each other out, letting more fully enjoy the olive flavour and the crunchiness of the radish.

The braised lamb shoulder stew was quite amazing. Many different flavours merged together. The stew sauce had the herbes de Provence. There were fresh baby carrots and beans as well and turnip that exploded with flavour. The vegetables still had a nice amount of crispness to them and provided nice texture to the lamb.

The chocolate mousse for dessert was fantastic. I enjoyed it with a cup of coffee. A truly enjoyable lunch.

To check out their other fixed price menus, you can click on this link to the Mistral French Bistro. Enjoy!

Le Vieux Pin Dinner

On Thursday, May 20, 2010, I was fortunate to attend the Le Vieux Pin Winemaker Dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver. The event was at the Market Restaurant in the hotel and the food was masterfully designed by Executive Chef Wayne Harris in consultation with Jean-Georges. Keeping to the blog format, I will keep my notes brief and will then provide more details in www.MyWinePal.com.

Rasoul Salehi, the Director of the enotecca wineries that owns Le Vieux Pin, led us through a tasting of white, red, and rose wines he has recently produced.  James Cambridge, the wine maker was unable to attend, but Rasoul is a very knowlegable man about wine and very interesting to hear speak.  Rasoul also brought a small barrel of a new wine for Le Vieux Pin, his 2008 Syrah / Viognier. For those that do not know, Syrah is a red grape, while Viognier is a white grape. Both varieties come from the Rhone Valley in France. Syrah is a bold, spicy grape, while viognier is very flowery and aromatic. In the Rhone Valley, one of their traditions is to co-ferment Syrah is a bit of viognier. The viognier helps bring out more colour from the Syrah grape skin and adds more perfume to the wine. I applaud James for trying this in the Okanagan.

This Syrah / Viognier was deep purple in the glass, with aromas of vanilla, blueberry, plum and honeysuckle. On the palate you get ripe plum, black cherry and vanilla. Quite spicy, round in the mouth and long length. When this wine is released to the public it will be in the $32-$35 range. Well worth the price. This wine was paired with homemade, melt in your mouth, gnocchi, with morel mushrooms, black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. The black pepper seemed to bring out the fruit in the syrah.

To start the evening we had the 2009 Vaila Pinot Noir Rose, paired with egg caviar. The Pinot Noir grapes were picked at a ripeness that Rasoul felt did not bring out the tannins of the grapes. Some wineries, when they produce rose wines, use fully ripened red grapes, which have partial contact between skin and juice, then some of the juice is bled off to produce the rose wine, but this also allows the tannins to be imparted to the rose. Rasoul by choosing to pick earlier indicated that the tannin level can be minimized, making a smoother rose. This wine had fresh raspberries and medium cherry aromas. More fresh strawberry and red cherry on the palate with low tannins. Good crisp acidity. The egg caviar was a wonderful mixture of salty, creamy and eggy flavours that blended nicely with the rose.

There are many other wines to talk about from this evening: 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, 2007 Epoque Merlot, 2007 Apogee Merlot, and 2009 LaStella’s Moscato d’Osoyoos, and of course their food pairings. Check on http://www.MyWinePal.com for the full review.

Enjoy!

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!