My 2010 Wine Picks on MyWinePal.com

In an earlier blog article, I listed my favourite 2010 wines that I had previously posted. I also promised to provide a list of my favourite 2010 wines from the main MyWinePal.com website.

This list has a range of wines from all over the world, and includes red, white, and sparkling wines. Quite a mix of wines. But which was my overall favorite? Read on!

Meyer Family Vineyards Micro Cuvee, Old Main Road Vineyard Chardonnay 2009 (BC) This wine is a deep lemon colour. Medium intensity aromas that show some developing characteristics. Tropical fruit, apple, yeast, oak, vanilla, butter and honey aromas. It is dry on the palate with medium plus level of acidity. Very pronounced flavours and quite full bodied. Citrus, tropical fruit, dried fruit, oak, vanilla, butter, honey and some minerality. Lots roundness in the mouth, but has that higher level of acidity to balance it out. There is a tiny hint of spice. The oak is very integrated with the wine. It’s there in the background. I rate this as an outstanding wine and can be aged for further complexity.

The D’Angelo Sette Coppa 2005 (BC) is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Verdot, and Malbec. It is primarily Cabernet Franc and Merlot, with lesser amounts of the other grape varieties. From my tasting of this wine at the Simply Red event, I had the following notes: “Light garnet in the glass. Tarry, cassis and black cherry aromas. Cassis, cherry, chocolate and vanilla on the palate with some spiciness. Medium length with firm tannins kicking in on the finish. Enjoy with some grilled meat.” What did I note in my latest tasting? This wine is deep garnet in colour. Pronounced aromas in the glass of dried fruit, black fruit, red cherry, a hint of cedar, sweet spice and vanilla. This wine has firm yet soft tannins. Dry on the palate with medium to full body. Flavours of black fruit, black cherry, strawberry, sweet spice, vanilla, and a hint of chocolate. This wine is ready to drink now, but could age a year to let the tannins soften a bit more.

The Bodegas Salentein Primum Malbec (Argentina) was outstanding. Opaque purple in the glass. Reserved vanilla and plum nose. Ripe plum and cassis flavour with some spice and firm tannins. A very high quality Malbec.

The Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 comes from the Dierberg Family of wines (California). Opaque garnet in the glass. Vanilla and juicy red cherry nose. Cherry and plum flavours. Round mouthfeel and firm tannins. Their Dierberg Pinot Noir 2006 was also outstanding.

The Mount Riley Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (New Zealand) is pale lemon colour in the glass. Light gooseberry nose. High acid with some minerality and lemon rind. Herbal finish. Elegant.

The Alto Rouge 2007 (South Africa) was light/medium garnet in the glass. Capsicum and cherry nose. Cherry, meaty and spicy flavours. Their Alto Shiraz 2006 was deep purple coloured. Sweet black fruit aromas. Firm tannins and bursting with blueberry flavours. Very full bodied.

The Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Pinot Gris 2005 (France) may have been my overall favorite white wine of the festival. This wine was very elegant and intense. Medium lemon in colour, with peach and honey on the nose. Medium body, with peach and flowery flavours. Round with refreshing acidity to balance the fruit.

Another fantastic wine was the Dopff & Irion Traditional Gewurztraminer 2008 (France). Lychee and honey on the nose. Good acidity with peach and lychee flavour. Very refreshing.

Church & States Wines Chardonnay 2007 (BC). 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.

Mission Hill Family Estate Quatrain 2006 (BC). This is a Syrah, Merlot, Cab Sauvignon, and Cabernet 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.

Villa Rinaldi Rose di Barriciaia 1998 (Italy). This is a Pinot Noir based sparkling wine that has some oak aging. Peachy, orange colour in the glass. Nutty, lemony and creamy / lees on the palate. Very small, fine bubbles.

The Vina Cobos Bramare Malbec Lujan de Cuyo 2007 (Argentina) has a vanilla, cedary, cherry nose. Ripe black fruit, cassis and black cherry flavours, with medium tannins. I marked a star beside this wine in my notes.

The Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir (New Zealand) was medium garnet in the glass. A very pretty raspberry and plum nose. Raspberry, leafy, cherry flavours. Slightly spicy. Silky on the palate. Very nice!

The Woollaston Estates Tussock Nelson Pinot Noir (New Zealand) was very aromatic with strawberry and raspberry aromas. Cherry and raspberry flavours. Medium body, medium acidity. Vanilla on the finish.

The Starmont Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (California) is pale lemon colour. It has light lemon with gooseberry nose. Round mouthfeel with good acidity. Nice herbal flavour.

St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (California) continues to deliver. There was lots of gooseberry and green herbal aromas. Herbal flavour with good acidity. A very good example of Sauvignon Blanc.

The Merryvale Pinot Noir 2008 (California) is light cherry coloured in the glass. It has a beautiful raspberry / strawberry nose. Red cherry, vanilla and raspberry flavours. Medium acidity.

So which was my 2010 Overall Wine Pick? The Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Pinot Gris 2005 (France). I still think of when I tasted this wine. I checked the BCLDB website, and this wine is still available. It retails for $33.95 a bottle.

What’s my favourite wine?

People ask me quite often, what’s my favourite wine, or what is my favourite wine from a specific region or country.  Do you get that too?  What do you say?

My response is that I have too many favourite wines, which is true.  The thing about wine, is that every vintage is different.  Some years are hot and dry, others are cool and wet, and everything in between.  This makes every vintage unique.  So one year I may like a cabernet sauvignon from one producer, but next year, I may prefer a cab from a different producer.  That’s the beauty of wine.  In this case, I do have a few wineries that I enjoy their wines each vintage.

Some countries have less variability in climate, so the wines are closer in style, body, flavour each year.  Examples would be the Barossa Valley in Australia, or the Colchagua Valley in Chile.  Some producers are Haan, Penfolds, and Thorn-Clarke in Australia, and Montgras, Casa Lapostolle, and Montes in Chile.

Most places do not have the luxury of a predictable climate with a long growing season.  Most areas in France, Canada, and the Pacific Northwest have significant climate variability each year.  So I could list just about every winery I know in this category.  Some wineries do seem to produce better quality wines, due to their vineyard management and their fermentation process and aging.  Those would be a good bet to try for each new vintage.  Other wineries can have an exceptional year and those are the unique finds that are fun to hear about and try, because it would only be around for that vintage.  Some wineries in BC that I really like are La Frenz, Quails’ Gate, Le Vieux Pin, La Stella, Osoyoos LaRose, Tantalus, Mission Hill, Tinhorn Creek, and many more.

So for the cooler climate wines, I’d say the best is to check with the www.MyWinePal.com website for my wine reviews, and check other well-known wine bloggers for their reviews, then go try out some wines.  You may also want to  consider attending wine tastings put on by wine societies in your city.  Here in Vancouver we have the South World Wine Society, the BC Wine Appreciation Society, and many others. Enjoy!

Review of the Trialto Wine Group Fall Tour 2010 Tasting

This week I was invited to the Trialto Wine Group’s fall tour tasting of wines. There were winery representatives from 18 different wines around the world. I tried to taste wines from as many as possible, but ended up a few wineries short. The wineries that I did get to try wines were:
– Argiano Cantina Dal 1580 (Tuscany, Italy)
– Bodega Noemia (Patagonia, Argentina)
– Brokenwood (Hunter Valley, Australia)
– Chono (Chile)
– Delta Vineyards (Marlborough, New Zealand)
– Dog Point Vineyard (Marlborough, New Zealand)
– L’Ecole No 41 (Washington State)
– Pares Balta 1790 (Spain)
– Quinta Do Vale Meao (Portugal)
– Sperling Vineyards (Okanagan, BC)
– Zardetto (Prosecco, Italy)

A few of the highlights from these wineries for me were:

1. Argiano Brunello Di Montalcino D.O.C.G. 2005 ($58.99). This wine is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes. A very nice Old World style wine. Light cherry in colour. Cherry, sausage and vanilla on the nose. Medium body, red cherry flavour and drying tannins.

2. Bodega Noemia J Alberto 2008 ($58). This is a single vineyard Malbec. The vineyard and winery is certified biodynamic. This wine is deep purple in the glass. A very interesting nose with aromas of cassis, tar and cherries. Full bodied with a smooth round mouthfeel. Cassis, black plum, black cherry and quite spicy on the palate.

3. Brokenwood Shiraz 2009 (no pricing available). I spoke with the winemaker, Iain Riggs about this wine. He did mention that it was a cool year. Typically a cool year would make a more Old World style of Syrah, rather than a typical full-fruit Aussie Shiraz. When I tasted it, it had a bit of Old and New World blended together. It was quite full bodied, but did have some structure to it. Smoke, cherry and oak on the nose. Blueberries and vanilla on the palate with a red cherry finish. Medium acidity with medium tannins.

4. Delta Vineyards Hatter’s Hill Pinot Noir 2007 ($34.99). This wine was bursting with raspberry aroma and flavour. There was also some smokiness on the nose. Medium body, round mouthfeel and low tannins. There was also some cherry flavours to complement the raspberry flavour. I’d love to enjoy this wine with duck breast.

5. Dog Point Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 ($55). I really like Pinot Noir wines. This one was in a classic New World style. One thing in particular about this wine that is interesting is that it is 100% fermented with indigenous yeasts from the vineyard (no cultured yeast was added). This is always a risk for the winemaker, but maybe it really helps to bring out the terroir of the vineyard. This wine was light cherry coloured. Earthy and violet aromas on the nose. Light body, a bit of spice, strawberries, cherries and violet flavours. Delicious.

6. L’Ecole No 41 Pepper Bridge Apogee 2007 ($69.99). This wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, and lesser amounts of Merlot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc, from the Walla Walla Valley in Washington state. Deep purple colour in the glass. Plum, vanilla and some cedar on the nose. Quite drying tannins up front. Cedar and cherry flavour that lasted for a long time in your mouth. Very structured with a good fruit / tannin balance.

7. Sperling Vineyards Pinot Gris 2008 ($19.99). This is a new winery in Kelowna, BC. No tasting room yet, but they are located near the Tantalus winery. Pale lemon in colour. A very nice nose with grapefruit and flowers. Medium body, high acidity, with flavours of lemon rind, flowers and some spice. I look forward to visiting them when the tasting room opens.

That’s all for now. There were many more wines, but I’m trying to keep this brief, and not a novel. I will be entering in tasting notes for all the wines I tried on www.MyWinePal.com. I hope you have a chance to try some of these wines.

Why does my wine taste different?

During the course of an evening enjoying a bottle of wine with friends you may notice that the aromas and flavours of the wine may change. This is more readily evident in red wines than white wines. If you leave the wine longer, e.g. taste it the day after or two days after, the wine will continue to change.

Case in point; a bottle of Therapy Vineyards Shiraz 2007 that I opened two days ago. At that time I noted it had aromas of plum, vanilla, and a hint of fried bacon. On the palate, there was ripe black fruits, soft tannins and vanilla. After about an hour the fried bacon aroma disappeared, and the fruitness and vanilla flavour became more pronounced. I put the cork back in the bottle without removing any air. Skip forward 2 days. In my tasting notes I remarked aromas of tea leaves, plum, and some smokiness. On the palate I tasted coffee, nutmeg and ripe black fruit. Sounds like two different wines, doesn’t it?

But we know it’s not. It is interesting to try a wine a few days after you originally tasted it. If the wine is red, see if the exposure to the air softened the tannins. Make notes.

I also have another reason for telling you about this experience. In my last blog article (Do You Trust Wine Reviews?), I was asking you to think about how a wine is rated, and gave a few suggestions on following wine critics. I did not mention in that blog about, WHEN the wine was tasted.

  • Did the wine critic taste the wine as soon as it was poured from the bottle?
  • Was the wine chilled?
  • Did they taste it as soon as it was poured, then after one or two hours after exposure to air?
  • Did they decant the wine before tasting?

These questions I think are interesting because the tasting review from a wine critic does influence many people’s decision when they purchase a bottle of wine. Maybe it would be good to know how the critic did their tasting? Maybe there should be two tastings of the same wine with a few hours of separation between tastings, and have BOTH tasting notes provided for the same bottle of wine? That could be so very interesting and informative to the wine public.

Tell me what you think.  Take out a bottle of red wine today.  Try it now and take notes.  Then tomorrow at the same time, pour yourself another glass of the same wine and make your tasting notes.  Please post your notes to this article because I think it would be of interest to many other people.  Thanks and cheers!

Do you trust wine reviews?

Before the web, blogging, and micro-blogging, there were magazines and newspapers where people would read about ratings of wines. There were relatively few reviewers at that time. But now, anybody can review and rate a wine.

How do you choose a reviewer to trust? And what makes a good review?

There are well known people in the wine world, such as Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson. People have read their reviews and understand what/how they rate the wines (hopefully).

With new reviewers, and maybe even with the well-known ones, here are a few tips or ideas that might help you in your quest for a wine review you can trust.

1. Know the style of wines that a reviewer likes. Do they like fruit forward wines, or are they more into the structure of a wine and how the tannins / sugar / acid / fruit balance each other. If you are a person that likes fruit forward wines, try to find a reviewer with similar tastes.

2. Does the reviewer have any wine training / background? It’s true that there can be some people who are naturally talented and can become good wine tasters and reviewers, but I think finding someone that has been trained in how to taste and critique a wine, will give you an added level of assurance in what they say about a wine. I like my carpenter analogy here. I can build a house, but I’d trust a house built by a professional carpenter that went to Trade school, more than I would trust the house I build.

3. If you find a wine that you are considering purchasing being reviewed, check to see when that review was done. If the review is more than a year old, it is possible that the wine has since changed in the bottle (if it is a bottle with cork, not screw cap), so some of the aromas and flavours back at the original tasting, may not hold true now. One thing you can check is if that reviewer gave their opinion on how the wine will age, or how long it can age to reach it’s potential.

I did a test with 2 bottles of Altenbourg Riesling I had purchased a few years ago. I opened one up and wrote my tasting notes, then opened the other bottle a year later, and wrote my tasting notes, then compared the two tasting notes and there were differences.

4. This one is optional. But I’d recommend to find wine reviewers that specialize in different parts of the world. For example, for Australian wines, I may search the web for a wine writer in Australia that knows more than just the wine. The writer may actually go to the wineries, speak with the wine maker, and give you a more rounded picture of the wine and what the goals are of the winery. Someone from another part of the world, could give you a good review/rating of a wine, but maybe not the story surrounding the wine And sometimes that is just as interesting as the wine.

An additional thought on this is that if the reviewer doesn’t live in the region but has travelled there and spent time with wine makers, toured the vineyards, etc., they could give you a bit more insight or story around the wines that they are reviewing.  I know when I travel to Oregon and California that I have a better appreciation for the wineries and the wines, and I can offer my readers more information about the wine and winery.

5. Understand the rating scale. Most wines are rated on a 100 point scale. Hopefully a 90 point wine is rated at 90 points by a majority of professional tasters. But it might not be. There can be tasters that prefer fruit forward wines. If a wine doesn’t have that characteristic, maybe the wine will get an 88 point rating. Try to understand the wine writer’s views on how they review wines and assign points.

I personally am not the greatest fan of assigning points to wines. I’ve tried to stay away from it in my reviews and just tell people what I taste and smell, if I like it, and if I think it can cellar for a while. I think people like this kind of information, but to try to differentiate an 89 from a 90 point wine, I think is hard, and for most of the people drinking wine for their enjoyment, are not going to be able to tell either. How does that sound to you?

I’d love to hear your feedback on this article. Maybe you want me to rate wine with points. Let me know. Cheers!