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!

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.

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!