Canadian Thanksgiving – Have You Picked Your Wine?

Traditional Thanksgiving dinner courtesy of BenFranske

It’s very easy to get busy with work and family this time of the year.  And Thanksgiving comes knocking on the door early October for us Canadians.  While the BC and ON winemakers are busy harvesting their grapes and making new and exciting wines for our Thanksgiving 2012, let’s look at a few red and white wines that you may want to have with your roast turkey or ham this year.

Wine Pairings for Roast Turkey

Roast turkey can be quite rich in flavour, plus gravy adding extra flavour.  You need a wine that can stand up on it’s own and complement the roasted flavours. A lightly oaked Chardonnay is one choice, an aromatic Viognier, or if you prefer red, a juicy Merlot or a Pinot Noir. A few that I’ve tasted over the past year:

  • Spierhead Chardonnay

    Spierhead Winery Chardonnay 2010 (Canada). Here is another of BC’s newest wineries. Spierhead is located in South East Kelowna, near Tantalus. Their chardonnay is creamy with lots of vanilla and tropical fruit aromas and flavours.  Enjoy juicy fruit flavours in your mouth with medium acidity to keep it refreshing.

  • Mount Baker Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate 2009 (US$24). Light cherry colour in the glass. Violets, light spice and strawberry aromas.  Light body with raspberry, strawberry, and a hint of cedar and vanilla.  Low tannins and smooth on the palate. Nice.
  • M. Chapoutier Invitare, Condrieu, 2009 (France). Invitare is made from 100% Viognier. The Condrieu appellation where the grapes are from only produces wine from Viognier.  No red wines in Condrieu. 30% of this wine is aged in oak barrels.  The wine also goes through a malolactic fermentation (MLF) to give it more roundness.  Deep golden in the glass with a very fruity nose of oranges and honey. Round, medium body with cinnamon and orange flavours.  Medium minus acidity.  Round in the mouth, thanks to the MLF. A bit of spice on the finish.  An excellent wine, but drink it young, no longer than 3 years of aging potential.
  • Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2008 (BC). This is 100% Chardonnay from a blend of 3 Chardonnay clones: 2 Dijon and 1 Loire. A portion of the wine is fermented in French oak and left sur lies for 10 months. Pale lemon with a green tint in the glass.  Flower and lemon on the nose. Medium body with vanilla, pineapple flavours.  Medium acidity. A very well balanced wine.  This is a chardonnay that everyone should try.
  • La Stella Allegretto 2008 (BC). This is 100% Merlot grown from their Stag vineyard in Osoyoos.  Deep purple in the glass.  Lots of raspberry, cherry and vanilla on the nose.  Full body with mocha, cherry and vanilla flavour, and a hint of raspberry.  Medium tannins with a long finish.

Wine Pairings for Roast Ham

Roast ham is also quite full flavoured.  It has some sweetness to it, and can have other flavours such as some smokiness, depending on how it’s prepared. Riesling is a nice pairing with ham; think Alsatian food.  I think a Pinot Noir would also be nice with ham.

  • Schloss Reinhartshausen Prinz VVN Preussen Rielsing Off-Dry 2009 (Germany). I really enjoyed this wine.  Light lemon colour in the glass. Light flowery nose.  Good acidity with lime flavour and streak of minerality.
  • Kim Crawford Small Parcel “The-Rise-and-Shine” Creek Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007 (New Zealand) ($34.99). Central Otago, is inland in the South Island.  The cooler climate allows these grapes have a long hang time and smaller berries, which gives a higher skin to pulp ratio, and more intense, riper, fruit flavours.  Medium purple in the glass with ripe purple fruit and vanilla aromas.  Ripe fruit, cassis, plums and vanilla on the palate.  Medium body and medium length.  Very nice.
  • Kalala Organic Estate Winery Riesling 2008 (BC). Medium lemon colour in the glass. Nice petrol and apple aromas. Dry with apple, lemon, petrol flavours and a bit of spice on the finish.
  • Vina Santa Rita Medalla Real Pinot Noir 2008 (Chile). Santa Rita is a premium producer from Chile.  I really enjoy their wines, and spent time visiting them in Chile. Their Medalla Real Pinot Noir is coloured light purple in the glass.  Ripe cassis aromas. Round mouth feel, light boded with an abundance of cassis flavour.  Low tannins.

I hope some of these suggestions help you make your Thanksgiving memorable. Cheers!

Rob Feenie and Le Vieux Pin Wines: A Perfect Pairing

What does master chef Rob Feenie have to do with the Le Vieux Pin wines of the South Okanagan?  No, he is not another celebrity opening a winery.  But what he has done, now for the second year, is pair up with the wineries to produce a Feenie’s Blend wine, which is sold at Cactus Club Cafe restaurants!  I had a chance to try the second release of the Feenie’s Blend, red and white, at a recent Le Vieux Pin and La Stella winery new vintage release event.  In addition, I was able to taste a vertical of La Stella’s Allegretto Pie Franco Merlot wines. Let me tell you about the wines I tasted.

Feenie’s Blend Wines

Petit Le Vieux Pin Feenies Blend Rouge and Blanc

Petit Le Vieux Pin Feenie’s Blend Blanc 2010 – Slightly warmer year so slightly higher alcohol content compared to the first vintage. This is a blend of several white aromatic varieties. Pale lemon colour. The Muscat really shows through with orange and spices on the nose as well as other citrus fruits. Quite round mouthfeel, with acidity kicking in the mid-palate. Spicy finish with ripe fruits; peaches and oranges. A nice wine.

Petit Le Vieux Pin Feenie’s Blend Rouge 2009 – A Bordeaux blend made with primarily Merlot. Pretty medium garnet colour. Has a bit of chocolate, leather, cherries, and vanilla on the nose. Medium body, fairly dry, with big legs in the glass. Red cherry and a bit of bon bon flavours. Dry finish.

What is Le Vieux Pin Équinoxe Series?

Newly released, the Équinoxe series could be viewed as a Reserve level series for Le Vieux Pin, but it is much more than that. It also represents equal day, equal night; Equal Old World, equal New World styles.  Everything in perfect harmony.

Le Vieux Pin’s Latest Releases

Équinoxe Syrah 2008 – This Syrah has a traditional Rhone blending of 5% Viognier to add some flowery notes and colour extraction to the Syrah grapes. This is a single vineyard wine from new, 3 year old, vines. Fairly deep purple garnet in the glass. Lots of leather on the nose and a bit of smokiness and dark fruit. Bursting with blueberry and black currant flavour. Spiciness in the mid-palate, and a long length. Subtle vanilla in the background. A big wine. Nice. Still full of youth, it should be interesting to watch future vintages of this wine.

Le Vieux Pin Equinox Cabernet Franc 2008

Équinoxe Merlot 2008 – Medium garnet in colour. A fair amount of legs to this wine, representing high alcohol content. Restrained nose, even with decanting. I detected light vanilla and cherries, and in general ripe, red fruit.  Medium body, very smooth. Some red fruit and cherries. Towards the mid-palate, a raspberry leafiness, some tannins and spices. Long length to this wine. This wine leaves the back and sides of your tongue watering, which indicates a higher amount of acidity.

Équinoxe Cabernet Franc 2008 – This wine comes from a single row from a single vineyard of 16 year old vines, to produce a single barrel of wine! Medium garnet colour in the glass. Light vanilla, cherries, and a slight hint of cedary notes. Medium body with cherry and cassis flavours.  Tannins kick in quite quickly. A very dry wine.  This wine also has the raspberry leafiness that was also there on the Merlot.

La Stella’s Latest Releases

Before talking about these wines, you may want to know what is “Pie Franco“? “Pie Franco” is a term meaning ungrafted (In French I believe it would be “franc de pied”). Why is this important?  As you may know the phylloxera louse nearly wiped out all vitis vinifera in Europe and needed to be grafted to North American root stock in order for it to survive.  Some people have said that you now never really get the true flavour of these European grapes.  In some parts of the world that have sandy soils, phylloxera cannot survive, so you can plant the vitis vinifera in the ground with it’s own rootstock.  This is what has been done in the South Okanagan with the Merlot I had tasted from La Stella.  Chile is another area famous for planting vitis vinifera vines on their own rootstock.

La Stella Allegretto Merlot 2006

Allegretto: Pie Franco Merlot 2006 – Medium to light garnet in colour. Some earthiness on the nose. Earthiness on the palate as well. Red fruit flavours. Low tannins and medium body.  Just a hint of spices. Dry with a long finish.

Allegretto: Pie Franco Merlot 2007 – A bit deeper in colour, purple red in the glass.  Fresh cherry and vanilla nose, with some white pepper. Medium plus in body. Quite smooth and round on the palate. Restrained cherries on the palate. Mid-palate there is some refreshing acidity and spiciness. Dry finish, and long length. I like this wine.

Allegretto: Pie Franco Merlot 2008 – Light garnet coloured. Raspberry and vanilla aromas and a hint of cassis. Light body with firm tannins. Cherries and raspberry flavours with vanilla in the background. Very dry. Another nice wine.

Maestoso: Merlot 2008 – This is La Stella’s flagship wine – the Jewel in the crown. Light ruby in the glass. Quite aromatic compared to the Allegrettos. Nice vanilla and cherry with a leafy edge to the nose. Interesting. Starts off feeling light, but as you aerate it, it gets heavier in your mouth! Vanilla and red cherry flavours with milk chocolate on the finish. Quite round. The tannins are soft.  I highly recommend this wine.

Enjoy these wines at home with friends or family, or go to the Cactus Club Cafe and try a Feenie’s Blend.

Thank Your Mom with these Mothers Day Wine Selections

Mother’s Day is coming up soon. We all like to treat our mothers. A nice meal and nice wine is one option. Some wines you may want to consider.

Sparkling Wine

  • Fresita sparkling (Chile). This is a blend of white sparkling wine with blended strawberries. Very nice and fruity. Would be a nice way to start a breakfast if you don’t want to make a mimosa.
  • Champagne Lallier Rose (France). Very pale pinkish orange colour. Light strawberry nose. Bigger bubble, with strawberry and red cherry flavour. You can never go wrong with Champagne. If you cannot afford Champagne, maybe try an Italian Prosecco or a Spanish Cava.
  • Moreson  Blanc de Blancs Brut Method  Cap Classic (South Africa)   Chardonnay  NV.    A very fine bubble. Red apple, citrus, light spice and bready flavour. It had a long finish. Nice.
  • Codorniu Sparkling Brut (Spain) Pinot Noir NV.   This Spanish Cava is light orangy pink in colour. Light strawberry aroma. Very bracing in your mouth, with strawberry and raspberry flavours.

White Wines

If you mother likes white wines here are a few suggestions.

  • Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2008 (Canada). This is 100% Chardonnay from a blend of 3 Chardonnay clones: 2 Dijon and 1 Loire. A portion of the wine is fermented in French oak and left sur lies for 10 months. Pale lemon with a green tint in the glass.  Flower and lemon on the nose. Medium body with vanilla, pineapple flavours.  Medium acidity. A very well balanced wine.  This is a chardonnay that everyone should try.
  • Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (New Zealand).  Pale lemon in the glass.  Lots of gooseberry on the nose with some herbal on the nose that continued to the palate.  Medium plus acidity with long length.  Really nice flavour.
  • Township 7 Viognier 2008 was medium lemon in colour. Honey, lime and tropical fruit on the nose. Medium acidity with citrus, mango and papaya flavours. If you have not tried a Viognier before, this one will get you hooked.
  • Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Chile). It had varied aromas of citrus, pineapple and apple. On the palate there was good acidity with pineapple flavour and medium length.
  • La Frenz Winery Reserve Chardonnay 2009 (Canada). Pale lemon in the glass. Lots of vanilla with a hint of eucalyptus / menthol. Nice acidity.  Round mouthfeel with pineapple and spice.

Red Wines

Maybe your mother prefers red wine or you are planning to BBQ something for her.  Here are some suggestions.

  • Vina Santa Rita Medalla Real Pinot Noir 2008 (Chile). Santa Rita is a premium producer from Chile.  I really enjoy their wines, and spent time visiting them in Chile. Their Medalla Real Pinot Noir is coloured light purple in the glass.  Ripe cassis aromas. Round mouth feel, light boded with an abundance of cassis flavour.  Low tannins.
  • Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand). Pale purple colour.  Lots of raspberry aroma and flavour.  Also a bit of tea leaves on the palate. Light body with medium acidity.
  • Van Westen Vineyards Voluptuous Merlot / Cabernet Franc 2007 (Canada). Opaque puple in the glass. Ripe cherries and vanilla with a hint of cedar on the nose. Full bodied with firm yet smooth tannins.  Ripe black cherry flavour.
  • Howling Bluff Estate Winery Summa Quies Estate Pinot Noir 2009 (Canada). Pale garnet in colour. Beautiful violets and strawberry aromas. Soft, light bodied, with vanilla, strawberries and ripe cherries on the palate.  Highly recommended.
  • d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache 2008, (Australia)  This wine is light garnet in colour.  Smoke and raspberry on the nose.  Petrol, cassis, raspberry flavours.  Low tannins. Very refreshing.
  • Bennett Lane Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California) This cab is deep garnet in colour. A nice nose with ripe cassis and vanilla. Smooth mouthfeel with dark fruit and dry tannins. Long lingering flavours.
  • Clos du Val Wine Company Zinfandel 2009 (California). Light garnet in colour. Smoky raspberry nose. Medium body with raspberry and cassis flavours, with vanilla and spice on the finish. An elegant wine.
  • La Stella Allegretto 2008 (Canada). This is 100% Merlot grown from their Stag vineyard in Osoyoos on it’s own rootstock!  Deep purple in the glass.  Lots of raspberry, cherry and vanilla on the nose.  Full body with mocha, cherry and vanilla flavour, and a hint of raspberry.  Medium tannins with a long finish.

I’ve tried to give you a range of wines from light to full bodied.  I hope there is one for you and for your mother.  Enjoy!

A Taste of the Le Vieux Pin and La Stella New Wine Releases

Earlier this week I attended a tasting of the latest wine releases by Le Vieux Pin and La Stella wineries. These two wineries are located in the Okanagan and belong to the same winery family. Mr. Rasoul Salehi, the Director of the two enotecca wineries, and their viticulturist/winemaker, Mrs. Severine Pinte. I spoke with Mrs. Pinte. She has started working with Le Vieux Pin and La Stella wineries approximately 7 months ago. She comes from the Langedoc region in France where she worked as one of the winemakers in a co-operative there. We spoke about fermentation with indigenous yeasts, blending wines, and her style of wine making. It was quite interesting.

The goals of this tasting by enotecca were to:

  • Focus on 2010 whites and rose (from Both Le Vieux Pin and LaStella) which be officially released mid-April
  • Launch of Le Vieux Pin’s Rhone Ranger Program
  • Sample a few Library examples from both Le Vieux Pin and LaStella to follow their evolution

There was a wide range of wines for everyone’s different tastes.  A few of my latest release picks are:

Le Vieux Pin Vaïla Pinot Noir Rosé 2010. Light pinkish salmon colour. Raspberries and strawberry fruit on the nose with a bit of raspberry leaf as well.  Off dry with light body and medium acidity.  Quite nice strawberry flavour with some almonds on the finish.  The grapes for this wine come from one of the organic Kalala vineyards in West Kelowna.

Le Vieux Pin Sauvignon Blanc 2010. Lots of herbal and pine needle aromas and flavour.  Medium acidity with a long finish.  Very bright flavours.  A wine to enjoy with some shellfish this summer or maybe a Greek salad.

Le Vieux Pin Pinot Noir “Adieu” 2008.  This I have read from their website is the last vintage, thus the “Adieu” on the label. I really enjoyed this wine and hope they decide to bring back Pinot Noir in the future.  This wine had a light cherry and red delicious apple aroma.  Very dry with cherry, raspberry and vanilla flavour with a long length, and a dried cherry finish.

Le Vieux Pin Syrah 2008.  This is the start of Le Vieux Pin’s Rhone Ranger program (along with their Viognier-Roussanne which was also quite nice). The grapes for this syrah come from the Black Sage Road area in the Okanagan.  The vines are still young; 3-4 years.  This wine is medium garnet in the colour.  Earthy aroma along with dark fruit and smoky raspberries.  There is bright acidity right up front when you taste this wine.  Smoky raspberries and vanilla flavours with a long finish.  It will be interesting to see how the wines evolve as the vines mature.

La Stella Allegretto 2008. This is 100% Merlot grown from their Stag vineyard in Osoyoos on it’s own rootstock!  Deep purple in the glass.  Lots of raspberry, cherry and vanilla on the nose.  Full body with mocha, cherry and vanilla flavour, and a hint of raspberry.  Medium tannins with a long finish.

La Stella Leggiero Unoaked Chardonnay 2009. Light lemon colour.  Flowery and grapefruit aromas.  Quite an unusual nose, but very nice! Light body with lots of pink grapefruit flavour and a bit of almonds on the finish.  High acidity to keep the wine refreshing.  Long length.  I very nice wine.

La Stella Moscato d’Osoyoos 2010.  This wine has yet to be bottled, but will soon be.  Pale lemon colour.  Lots of orange and flowery aromas.  Some sweetness on the palate with lots of tangerine and mandarin orange flavours.  Light body with light acidity.  A fun wine to drink.

They also opened some of their library wines so we could see how their wines age. Some of my notes:

Le Vieux Pin Apogee Merlot 2005.  Deep purple red in the glass.  Cherry aroma wish slight raspberry and vanilla. Medium body with a fair amount of acidity to keep the wine bright and refreshing.  On the palate there was black cherries, oak, some leafiness, vanilla and then some smokiness on the finish. Still tastes like a young wine and I think can age a few more years without problem.

Le Vieux Pin Belle Pinot Noir 2005.  As I mentioned earlier, Le Vieux Pin has removed their pinot noir vines, so these wines represent what was once.  You can taste this wine and imagine being in the vineyard.  This wine had a slight earthy aroma to it.  High acidity with bright raspberry and some red cherry and vanilla flavours.  Medium length.  This is another wine that I think still has a few years of aging potential left.  I look forward to trying it again.

La Stella Maestoso Merlot 2006. This is a big wine.  Deep purple in colour with lots of tears on the side of the glass when swirled. Mushroom and red cherries on the nose.  Grippy tannins.  Cherry, dark fruit, a bit of leafiness to it, and some vanilla. Medium length.

I hope you have a chance to try out the Le Vieux Pin and La Stella wines, and visit them when you are on your summer holidays in the Okanagan. Enjoy!

A Taste of LaStella Wines

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} catch(err) {}LaStella Winery is one of the new wineries in the Okanagan, opening it’s doors in May 2007. It has a sister winery, which you may have heard of called Le Vieux Pin. I was recently invited to a tasting of LaStella’s wines in Yaletown and was very impressed with their wines. LaStella operates their vineyards with a cross between organic and biodynamic practices. They also contract grapes from like minded, quality growers (which I will talk about shortly). They also take great care in the production of the wine, from hand-destemming grapes, to using whole berries for fermentation and using small open-top oak fermentors.

LaStella has both white, rose, and red wines. The two white wines I tried was the Leggiero Unoaked Chardonnay 2008 and the Vivace Pinot Grigio 2008. The Leggiero and Vivace grapes come from the Kalala vineyard. For those that have read my past posts, the Kalala Organic Winery in West Kelowna has produced some wonderful organic wines at a great price point. They also told me that they sell some of their grapes to other wineries. So I was VERY happy to see that LaStella is one of those wineries.

The Leggario had nice mango and pineapple aromas. It was medium body, with light acidity, lime and mineral flavours. The Vivace is a gorgeous, refreshing pinot grigio. It has a crisp citrus and pineapple nose. Good acidity, with pineapple, lime, and mineral flavours. Next I moved on to the Lastellina Rose 2008. This is a merlot based rose. It has a nice salmon colour and a ripe strawberry nose. It is medium bodied, with some spice (cinnamon), and strawberry flavour.

There were 3 reds to enjoy. I found out that the reds are all un-fined and un-filtered, which gives you the closest to a barrel sample experience as possible. The red first was the Allegretto Merlot 2006. It was medium garnet in colour. Ripe plums and light oak on the nose. Medium body and tannins, with black cherry flavours. Their premier wine that evening was the Maestoso Merlot 2006. This wine was deep garnet in colour. Ripe black fruit, cigar box and mocha nose. Ripe black fruit, cherries and mocha flavour, with a cherry finish. The tannins were very fine. This is an exceptional wine. Last but not least was the Fortisimo 2007. This wine will soon be bottled, so we were treated with a sneak taste of this wine. The Fortisimo is a Bordeaux blend, with approximately 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc. This wine had a very complex nose and aroma. I unfortunately did not take detailed notes on this wine, but it had many flavour dimensions and a long finish.

What’s upcoming for LaStella? I heard that they have Sangiovese grapes planted and will be harvesting them to blend with other red varietals to offer their first “Super Tuscan“. I joked that maybe it should be a “Super Okanagan“. Either way, I look forward to trying this wine. Enjoy!