Bottles & Bangers Wine Tasting – Get Your Tickets

Liberty Bottles and Bangers wine tasting

I recently received an email from Liberty Wine Merchants about their upcoming Bottles and Bangers Southern Hemisphere wine tasting. You may not know, but I was the president, then co-chair, and the cellar master for the South World Wine Society here in Vancouver for many years.  I’ve turned over the reigns to other exec members, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for southern hemisphere wines. South Africa, the Old World of New World wines, has many food friendly wines.  Try a Syrah or Chenin Blanc.  For Chile, maybe try their signature red grape, Carmenere.  Argentina has Malbec, which has been very hot in BC for a while. New Zealand Pinot Noirs or Sauvignon Blanc wines are well-known around the world.  Central Otago in the South Island in particular has very interesting Pinot Noir. And don’t forget Australia.  The Coonawarra, Margaret River, Eden Valley, and the Barossa Valley, to name a few vineyard regions, produce exceptional wines. Jacob’s Creek, Yalumba, Penfolds, and Henschke are just a few names that you may recognize.  Australian shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, riesling and many more wonderful wines.  With that, check out the details for Bottles & Bangers, and buy your tickets before they sell out.

Bottles and Bangers Event Details

Thursday, August 18 | 7:30 – 9:30pm
Vancouver Rowing Club, 450 Stanley Park Drive, Vancouver

Taste the sensational wines of the Southern Hemisphere accompanied by an artisanal sausage. All proceeds to benefit amateur sports.

Tickets $29.99 Available at all Liberty Wine Merchants stores.

South World Wine Society’s Big and Bold Red Tasting

Last night we were treated to big red wines from the Southern Hemisphere. In particular, 2 wines from each of Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and Australia. These are all premium wines in the $30-$40 range per bottle. Our speaker for the evening was Mr. Lance Berelowitz, one of the South World Wine Society‘s co-founders, past President and past Cellar Master. Lance is originally from South Africa, but has travelled extensively and has visited Australia, Chile, and Argentina, and provided to us in depth descriptions about each of these wines and regions.

Our wines for this evening:

  • Alta Cima Premium Reserve 2002, Lontue Valley, Chile
  • Miguel Torres Cordillera 2001, Central Valley, Chile
  • De Toren Diversity 2003, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa
  • Norton Malbec Reserva 2005, Mendoza, Argentina
  • Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina
  • Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia
  • Peter Lehmann Mudflat Ebenezer Shiraz 2004, Barossa Valley, Australia

To these wines we had 3 appetizers:

  • Poplar Grove Tiger Blue Cheese Buff with stone fruit compote
  • Smoked Peace Country Lamb Shoulder Arrancinni with tomato ragout
  • Braised Shortrib Cannelonni with carmelized onion jus

The Alta Cima Premium Reserve 2002, Lontue Valley, Chile is a Bordeaux blend with 85% being from Cabernet Sauvignon, and the remainder coming from Merlot, Syrah (not Bordeaux), and Petit Verdot.  Alta Cima is a family run winery in Chile in the Lontue Valley which is part of the Curico Valley. This wine was deep garnet from the core to the rim, not showing it’s 9 year of aging yet. Vanilla, oak, dark cherry sweet spice, meaty and pencil lead aromas filled the glass.  Quite complex.  Medium body on the palate, with cherries and blueberry flavours.  Medium acidity and tannins.  Round in the mouth but not quite full bodied.  A nice balanced wine.

Next was the Miguel Torres Cordillera 2001, Central Valley, Chile. Miguel Torres, originally from Spain, has a great reputation around the world for their wines, and for opening wineries in other parts of the world.  The Cordillera is a blend primarily with Carignan and lesser amounts of Merlot and Syrah. Deep garnet in colour. A light nose with whiffs of oak, black olives, and dark cherries. Medium body with dark sweet fruit, and some tar and pepperiness.  Quite soft and round in the mouth, with a puckering finish.

The De Toren Diversity 2003, Stellenbosch, South Africa followed.  This is another family run winery.  Their Fusion V is a cult wine amongst wine enthusiasts. This wine is a blend of 5 Bordeaux varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Medium garnet with slight bricking on the rim of the wine, indicating it’s age. Meaty, pencil leads, earthy and red fruits on the nose. Medium body with dried red and black fruits, low acidity and tannins.  We all agreed that this wine is past it’s prime and we were sampling it on it’s way down.

My favourite wine of the evening was the Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa. Paarl is more inland than Stellenbosch, affording a warmer climate, which the Syrah grape loves. Deep garnet to the rim in the glass. Smoky, raspberries and oak on the nose. On the palate an array of flavours including smokiness, chocolate, coffee, dark fruit and spice.  Medium plus body with medium acid to keep the flavours bright. Long length. An excellent wine.

The first wine from Argentina was the Norton Malbec Reserva 2005. This is from the famous Mendoza region of Argentina, which is well-known for Malbec.  It is a high altitude desert that is fed with the precious water from the Andes Mountains. This wine had a light nose with some mint and plum. Medium body with dark fruit and oak. Soft tannins.  The group tasting the wine today also agreed that this wine was just OK.  Not very complex.

On the other hand the Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina was quite complex and interesting.  The San Juan region is to the north of Mendoza.  Not as well known, but produces very nice wine, if this wine is any indication of quality. Deep ruby in colour.  Light nose with oak, dark fruit, plum, coffee and a bit of eucalyptus aromas. Full body with firm tannins.  Dark fruit flavours with medium acidity and a dry finish. This wine paired nicely with the Poplar Grove Tiger Blue Cheese Puff with stone fruit compote.

On to Australia. Our first wine was the Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia. The two owners of Two Hands are similar to négociants from Burgundy.  They do not own vineyards, but work with vineyards to produce wines to their particular standards. This wine had some sediment in the glass, which we thought could be tartrate crystals. These crystals can form when the wine gets too cold.  It is a natural process, and should not be considered a fault in a wine. The wine was deep purple in the glass but was cloudy and not clear.  I am not sure if this wine was filtered, but if unfiltered, you could get this cloudiness. Nice nose with eucalyptus, vanilla, ripe dark fruit and chocolate. Medium plus body with soft, round mouthfeel.  Ripe cherries, chocolate and spiciness on the palate. This wine was the favorite of the room this evening.

The last wine was the Peter Lehmann Mudflat Ebenezer Shiraz 2004, Barossa Valley, Australia. This is an interesting wine as the shiraz is blended with a few percent of the white muscadelle grape to add in some aromatics.  Medium garnet in colour.  Light nose of vanilla and dark fruit.  Round with soft tannins.  Blueberries, vanilla, cloves and some salty minerality on the palate.  A good balance of oak, fruit and acidity.

MyWinePal Wine Picks:

  1. Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa
  2. Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina

The Favorites from the Room:

  1. Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia
  2. Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa

Good Gracious Grenache at the Vancouver Playhouse Int’l Wine Fest

When most people purchase red wine, they probably think of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or Pinot Noir. I’m sure that Grenache is probably not on the top of your list, but should be.  During last year’s first International Grenache Day, this grape was given the moniker, “the girl next door“.  She is always around and a nice person but you don’t notice her, until you are smitten one day.

A little bit about the grenache grape, before reviewing the wines we tasted at Good Gracious Grenache, during the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fetival.  The grape is originally from Spain, where it is known as “garnacha“. It likes heat, accumulates lots of sugar and can make wines, high in alcohol.  It can have aromas and flavours of raspberries, grilled herbs, black olives, mocha, tobacco, and butterscotch.  Quite a range of aromas and flavours.  Grenache, as it is known in France, is important in Northern and Eastern Spain where it is blended with tempranillo.  Garnacha provides the fruit, while tempranillo provides the backbone of the blend.

Our moderators, Michelle Bouffard and Michaela Morris had us taste wines from Spain, France, Australia and California. Our wines:

  • Miguel Torres de Casta Penedes, Spain 2010. ($14.99)
  • Paul Mas Grenache, France 2009. ($12.99)
  • Perrin & Fils Vacqueyras, France 2009. ($26.99)
  • Chapoutier La Bernardine Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France 2008. ($48.99)
  • Bodegas Valdemar Conde de Valdemar Rioja Garnacha, Spain 2009. ($25.00)
  • Orowines, Atteca, Calatayud, Spain 2008. ($26.99)
  • Telmo Rodriguez Pegaso Granito, Spain 2007. ($55.00)
  • 2πR DOQ Priorat, Spain 2007. ($47.00)
  • Ridge Vineyards ATP Grenache, California 2004. (no price available)
  • Langmeil GSM Three Garden, Australia 2009. ($24.99)
  • Yalumba Tri-Centenary Vineyard Vine Vale Barossa Grenache, Australia 2006. (no price available)
  • Chapoutier Banyuls, France 2008. (no price available)
  • Seppeltsfield Fortified Grenache Rose, Australia, NV. (no price available)

Miguel Torres de Casta Penedes, Spain 2010. This is a rose wine to start of the event.  Light pink in colour. Strawberry nose.  Light body, off dry, with strawberry flavour.  Low tannins with good acidity.

Paul Mas Grenache, France 2009. This wine is from the Languedoc region of France, which has been known in the past as a wine lake, but is now being known for better quality wines. Paul Mas represents a new, younger breed of winemakers.  This wine was deep purple in the glass with legs on the glass, indicating it’s higher alcohol content coming from this warm region of France.  Slight raspberry on the nose.  Medium body and tannins, with raspberries and cherries.  Short in length though.

Perrin & Fils Vacqueyras, France 2009. Vacqueyras is a small region in the Rhone.  Vanilla, Purple fruit and olives on the nose. Higher level of acidity with firm tannins. Quite dry with dark cherry flavour. Medium plus length.  This is a good food wine.

Chapoutier La Bernardine Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France 2008. Chateauneuf-du-Pape is also a region within the Rhone, but has a different expression than Vacqueyras.  C-du-P is usually a blend of up to 13 different grape varieties, but grenache is usually the major component of the wine. Dull garnet in the glass.  Light strawberry, cherry, and olive aromas.  Medium minus body. Light cherry flavour and a bit warm on the tongue.

Bodegas Valdemar Conde de Valdemar Rioja Garnacha, Spain 2009. This wine is deep purple coloured.  Dark fruit, slight leather and vanilla aromas.  Good fruit flavours of dark cherries.

Orowines, Atteca, Calatayud, Spain 2008. This is an area to the south of Rioja.  It is a very arid climate.  This wine was very deep purple in colour.  Saddle and slight smokiness on the nose.  Quite juicy and fruity cherry flavours.  Medium body, tannins and length.  I enjoyed this wine.

Telmo Rodriguez Pegaso Granito, Spain 2007. This wine comes from a high altitude vineyard in Castilla y Leon, surrounded by mountains. Dark cherry and oak nose. Medium body, round mouth feel, with ripe cherry flavours.  It has very dry tannins and finish.  Needs food if you drink it now, or leave it to age 3-4 years and try again.

2πR DOQ Priorat, Spain 2007. Quite aromatic in the glass with oak and menthol. Juicy dark fruit aromas along with some leather and licorice.   Dry firm tannins and long length.  A very high quality wine, but needs some aging in your cellar.

Ridge Vineyards ATP Grenache, Sonoma, California 2004. This wine was brought in specifically for this tasting.  It was not available in the big tasting room, or for purchase in the festival liquor store. Grenache is not widely planted in California so it is a treat to see how the grape thrives there. This wine had vanilla and dark fruit aromas.  Dry up front, with medium body.  Savory and dark fruit flavours.

Langmeil GSM Three Garden, Australia 2009GSM stands for Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre.  A blend.  This blend had the least amount of Grenache in it. Olives and savory aromas in the glass. Medium body, with dark fruit and olive flavours.  Soft mouthfeel with low tannins.

Yalumba Tri-Centenary Vineyard Vine Vale Barossa Grenache, Australia 2006.  Darker garnet in colour. Light vanilla, oak, cherry and raspberries on the nose.  Light fruity, raspberry flavours with a bit of spice.  Medium body.  A nice wine.

Chapoutier Banyuls, France 2008.  If you like Port, you will like Banyuls.  Banyuls is a sweet fortified wine. This one is 90% grenache and 10% mourvedre. Opaque purple in colour.  Sweet ripe dark fruit nose with some citrus notes. Lighter bodied, sweet, with dark fruit and spice flavours. Try this wine with chocolate.

Seppeltsfield Fortified Grenache Rose, Australia, NV. Another sweet fortified wine. Light, salmony coloured.  Bright aromatics with raspberry and caramel.  Medium sweetness, with strawberry and spice flavour.  Medium length.

Some Alternative Grenache Wines

Most of the wines were in an “Old World” style, with firm tannins, olives and herbs.  I have tried other, more bright raspberry fruit wines made from the grenache grape.  Here are a few wines I recommend to try:

d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache 2008, McLaren Vale, Australia $21.99 – This wine is light garnet in colour.  Smoke and raspberry on the nose. Petrol, cassis, raspberry flavours.  Low tannins. Very refreshing.

Dusted Valley Grenache, Columbia Valley, WA 2009. This is such a wonderful wine.  Just the right balance of fruit, tannins, and acidity.  The wine was medium garnet in colour.  Cherry, vanilla and smoky aromas.  Raspberry, cherry, and vanilla on the palate.  Medium bodied with a raspberry finish.

Airfield Estates Winery Mustang 2008, Washington  (US$25). This is a blend of 53% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 8% Cinsault, 2% Counoise, and 2% Mourvedre.   This wine was medium purple in colour.  Quite a complex nose, with aromas of cassis, vanilla, and cherry. Medium body with soft tannins.  Red cherry, raspberry, vanilla, and butterscotch flavours.  Medium length.

Brotte Vacqueyras “Bouvencourt” 2006, France $28.99. This is a Grenache / Syrah blend. Medium garnet with a bit of bricking. Caramel, and cherry on the nose.  Medium body and tannins. Caramel, apple, raspberry and cherry flavours.

Gemtree Vineyards Cadenizia 2008, Australia. This biodynamic 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.

Enjoy!

Wineries Attending the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival #VPIWF

If you have not visited the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, they do have a PDF brochure now available. It describes the different wine tasting events, and has a listing of all the wineries attending this year.

I thought you may want to see the list of wineries attending, so I posted them below, plus some comments on my part for wineries that you may want to visit if you attend the International Festival tasting (aka the Big Room).

As Spain is the featured country, you will see many Spanish wineries in the list.  In the Spanish list, there is every style of wine to interest you: sherry, sparkling (Cava), red and white still wines. Bodegas Alvear, González Byass, Miguel Torres, and Bodegas Faustino are a few to try.  You might want to try them all.  I will.  For Argentina, try Graffigna and Bodega Alta Vista (nice Malbec) and Familia Zuccardi (Their Q series is quite good). For Australia try Buller (maybe they will be pouring a sticky?), Chapel Hill, Langmeil, and Heggies.  From BC, try them all.  For Chile there is Vina Errazuriz, Lapostolle, Miguel Torres, Montes, and Vina Santa Rita. France, try them all if you have a chance.  Chapoutier is one of my favorites.  There are many more.  I think I’ll make a full listing of my picks on an upcoming blog article.

SPAIN ARGENTINA
Bodegas Abanico Bodega Alta Vista
Alvaro Palacios Belasco de Baquedano
Bodegas Alvear Viña Cobos
Bodegas Arúspide Bodega Colomé /
Axial Vinos Decero
Bodegas Chivite Viña Doña Paula
Codorníu Graffigna
Domecq Bodegas Humberto Canale
Bodegas Ercavìo Domaine Jean Bousquet
Bodegas Faustino Luigi Bosca
Grupo Faustino O. Fournier
Freixenet Bodegas Pascual Toso
González Byass Bodega Vistalba
Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Familia Zuccardi
Bodegas Hidalgo –
La Gitana S.A.
Iberwine
Bodegas Juan Gil AUSTRALIA
Marqués de Riscal Buller Wines
Bodegas Martín Códax Casella Wines
Viña Mayor / Chapel Hill
Bodegas Palacio Greg Norman Estates
Miguel Torres Henry’s Drive Vignerons
Bodegas Olivares Inland Trading Co.
Orowines Jim Barry / Heggies
Osborne Josef Chromy Wines
Cavas Parés Baltà Langmeil
Bodegas Piqueras Majella Wines
Ramón Bilbao Peter Lehmann Wines
Vinos y Viñedos Robert Oatley Vineyards
Bodegas San Valero Shingleback Wines
Segura Viudas St Hallett
Sierra Cantabria Wyndham Estate
Solar Viejo Xanadu
Telmo Rodríguez Yabby Lake Vineyard
Bodegas Valdemar
CANADA CHILE
BRITISH COLUMBIA Viña Caliterra
Artisan Sakemaker Concha y Toro
at Granville Island Cono Sur
Averill Creek Vineyard Viña Errázuriz
Cassini Cellars Lapostolle
Herder Winery & Vineyards Viña Leyda / Viña Tabalí
Hester Creek Estate Winery Viña Maipo
Jackson-Triggs Miguel Torres
Okanagan Estate Montes
Meyer Family Vineyards Viña Santa Rita
Mission Hill Family Estate Viu Manent
Nk’Mip Cellars
Noble Ridge FRANCE
Vineyard and Winery Boutinot
Osoyoos Larose Cave de Tain
Painted Rock Estate Winery M. Chapoutier
Poplar Grove Winery Delas Frères /
Quails’ Gate Winery Champagne Deutz
Red Rooster Winery Vins & Vignobles Dourthe
Sandhill Domaines de Les
Sperling Vineyards Grands Chais de France
Summerhill Pyramid Winery Joseph Drouhin
Tantalus Vineyards Champagne Lallier
Domaine Louis Moreau
ONTARIO Ogier Caves des Papes
Henry of Pelham Paul Mas
Pillitteri Estates Winery Perrin & Fils
Wayne Gretzky Estate Winery Pfaffenheim
Pierre Sparr
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
Nederburg
Glen Carlou
Presents LLC
J. Lohr Vineyards
& Wines
OREGON Louis M Martini
King Estate Miner Family Vineyards
Quady Winery
Ravenswood Winery
WASHINGTON Ridge Vineyards
Columbia Crest Robert Mondavi Winery
Hedges Family Estates / Rodney Strong Vineyards
Snoqualmie Vineyards Signorello Estate /
Edge Winery / Fuse Wines
Stags’ Leap
Trefethen Family
Vineyards
Truchard Vineyards
Wente Vineyards

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

My Favorites From the South World Wine Society’s Five Nations Cup 2011

Wednesday, Jan 19 was the South World Wine Society’s 6th Annual Five Nations Cup.  This is a blind wine tasting and humbles everyone in attendance. Five white wines and five red wines were presented to us.

We first went through the white wines, and were told that there were a Chenin Blanc, a Pinot Gris, a Chardonnay, and 2 Sauvignon Blanc.  One of the sauvignon blanc would be young (a recent vintage), while the other sauvignon blanc would be aged (2003 in this case).  The wines would be from Australia, Chile, New Zealand, or South Africa.  We were missing a white wine from Argentina for this half of the tasting.  Our host for the evening, Mr. Paul Watkin, is past SWWS cellar master and is a manager at Icon Fine Wine and Spirits in Vancouver.   Paul let us all know some of the characteristic aromas and flavours of each of these white grapes, as well as some hints as to style of white wines produced by each of these countries.  After sipping and debating each other at our table, we all stood up and slowly each started to sit down as each wine was revealed but did not match our guess.

The first wine was the Mount Riley Pinot Gris (2008 I think) from New Zealand.  I marked this wine as pale lemon colour. Herbal, lemon a bit of lime and some lychee on the nose.  Medium body, medium acidity, grapefruit and spice flavours with a long finish.  I guessed correctly.

The second wine was the Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc (2008) from Chile. Pale but bright lemon colour in the glass. Vanilla, waxy, lemon, grassy, and gooseberry aromas. Medium body.  Citrus, slightly vegetal and slightly spicy with medium acidity.  Another correct guess!

The third wine was the Montes Alpha Chardonnay (2006) from Chile.  This one was the easiest to guess.  The fullest body, most deep lemony coloured, lots of vanilla and apple aromas and flavours.  Nice spice too.  It went really well with a smoked scalloped that was served with the wines.  3 for 3 so far.

The fourth wine was the Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc (2003) from Australia. The aged sauvignon blanc!  This wine was medium minus golden colour. Big legs on the sides of the glass.  Honeysuckle, honey, and apricot aromas. Medium minus body, smooth, lower in acidity with a dry finish.  I guessed this one was the Chenin Blanc.

The last white wine was the Graham Beck Gameskeeper Reserve Chenin Blanc (2008) from South Africa . Light lemon colour.  Smokey, apple, spice, oak, vanilla, and some earthiness on the nose. Bright fruit flavours, but also some smokiness, apple and oak.  Medium length. I originally thought this one could be the aged sauvignon blanc with some oak aging (e.g. a Fume Blanc).

So from the white wine review, I ended up in 2nd place.  Not bad considering how difficult the whites were to identify.  Hopefully the red wines would be easier.

No such luck.  Paul was going to give us 5 different Bordeaux blends.  That is much more difficult than trying to guess if a wine is a Malbec or a Merlot.  The first red was the Man O’ War Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec blend (2008) from New Zealand. I had marked it as medium red with a purple tint (from the Malbec). Cassis, red cherry, leather, mint and tomato aromas. Juicy red fruit flavour, with vanilla, spice, high acidity and medium tannins.  I guessed correctly.  I thought the high acidity would be from a cooler climate, and New Zealand would be the coolest of the 5 countries.

The second red was the Miguel Torres Cordillera (2001) from Chile. A deep core of garnet in the glass.  Some capsicum aroma, along with vanilla, dark plum and milk chocolate.  On the palate it was full bodied.  Vanilla, purple fruit and savory flavours. Medium acidity and tannins. Another correct guess.  The capsicum was my hint that it was Chilean.

The third red was the Glen Carlou Grand Classique (2005) from South Africa.  Deep garnet in colour.  Iodine and earthy aromas. Mineral, leather and firm tannins.  Quite different from all the other reds.  I guessed that one correctly too.

The fourth red wine was the Luigi Bosca Gala 2 (2005) from Argentina.  I had guessed New Zealand, then changed my mind to Australia, but in the end I found out it was Argentina.  Really hard to guess the origin of this wine.  It was medium garnet coloured.  Sweet vanilla, chocolate and dark fruit aromas.  Not overly aromatic. Medium body and medium tannins with grippy black fruit flavour.

The fifth red wine was the d’Arenberg Galvo Garage (2005) from Australia. Very dark garnet in colour.  Some capsicum, dry not overly fruity nose with some earthiness.  Vanilla, capsicum and very fruity flavours.  Firm tannins.  I guessed this one was the wine from Argentina.

I ended up in 2nd place for the red wines.  I don’t feel too bad getting 2nd place for both the red and white wines.

How did I rate these wines?

White wines in my rank of preference:

  1. Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc (2003) Australia
  2. Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc (2008) Chile
  3. Mt. Riley Pinot Gris (2008) New Zealand
  4. Montes Alpha Chardonnay (2006) Chile
  5. Graham Beck Gameskeeper Reserve Chenin Blanc (2008) South Africa

Red wines in my rank of preference:

  1. Miguel Torres Cordillera (2001) Chile
  2. Man O’ War Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec blend (2008) New Zealand
  3. Luigi Bosca Gala 2 (2005) Argentina
  4. d’Arenberg Galvo Garage (2005) Australia
  5. Glen Carlou Grand Classique (2005) South Africa

One thing that you may notice is that my first choice in both the red and white wines were the OLDEST wines.  Don’t think that you have to drink a wine as soon as you buy it.  Especially true for red wines, and some white wines.  Many of these wines will be available only in private wine shops.  Hope you can get a chance to try some of them. Enjoy!

Wine Australia’s Regional Roundup Tasting – Jan 28/11 Ticket Info

January 26 is Australia Day, equivalent to our July 1, Canada Day.  On Friday January 28, Wine Australia will be having their Regional Round-Up tasting.  Additional wine tastings of great Aussie wines will also be held in April and in June.  I have the details for all 3 events below.  If you want to attend next week’s event, buy your tickets soon before they sell out! Tickets are $49 each—it’s a bargain ticket price for the sheer number of wines that will be in the room.


Wine Australia’s Regional Round-Up

Date: Friday, January 28th, 2011
Time: 7:00pm – 9:30pm

Venue: Buschlen Mowatt Art Gallery
Tickets available here: House Wine

Celebrate Australia Day (which is on January 26th) by getting to know her more intimately. Offering an unending variety of wine, this sizable country is blessed with a great diversity of regions. Revisit familiar favourites like Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra and Hunter Valley as well as acclaimed cooler areas such as Margaret River and Adelaide Hills. You will also have a chance to discover lesser-known regions including the Yarra Valley and Langhorne Creek. A great way to compare and contrast wines from cooler pockets with those from warmer climes—and there are over 60 wines to try!

A sneak peak at some of the wines…

  • Yabby Lake Pinot Noir 06
  • Camelback Block Two Shiraz 07
  • D’Arenberg the Money Spider Rousanne 08
  • Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 06
  • Jim Barry Cover Drive Cabernet 08
  • Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Cabernet 07
  • Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz 08
  • Brokenwood Semillon 08

WINERIES FOR THE REGIONAL ROUND-UP

Barossa Valley Estates Henry’s Drive Shingleback
Bleasdale Jacob’s Creek St. Hallett
Brokenwood Jim Barry Tahbilk
Camelback Kangarila Road Thorn-Clarke
Chapel Hill Katnook Estate Treasury
Cumulus Langmeil Wirra Wirra
d’Arenberg Petaluma Xanadu
Evans & Tate Peter Lehmann Yabby Lake
Gemtree Ring.bolt Yalumba
Grant Burge Robert Oatley Yering Station
Heggies Shaw + Smith

Event #2: Down Under Mix Up

Date: Friday, April 29th, 2011
Time: 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Details and Tickets available here: House Wine

Event #3: Summer Sipper

Date: Saturday, June 25th, 2011
Time: 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Details & Tickets available here: House Wine

ALERT: South World Wine Society’s Five Nations Cup!

Being the past president / co-chair / cellarmaster of the South World Wine Society (SWWS), I really like to introduce people to the wines of the Southern Hemisphere.  On January 19, 2011 will be their yearly 5 Nations Cup.

What is the SWWS 5 Nations Cup?  It is a blind wine tasting, where a red and a white wine from each of the 5 southern hemisphere wine producing countries are tasted (Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand), and you try to figure out which wines are from which countries.  It is quite fun.  Sitting at a table with 4 other people; you are each tasting the same wines, and talking, and maybe convincing each other, which one is the Merlot and that it comes from Chile, for example.  There will also be appetizers to pair with the wines.

I’ll be there.  I hope you will be too.  Here is the announcement from the South World Wine Society.


The Sixth Annual Five Nations Cup
January 19, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 7-9 p.m.

The Listel Hotel
1300 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC, V6E 1C5
Tel 604 684.8461

$44.00 per member
$55.00 per non-member
(Event includes wines and appetizers)
Book by January 15 to avoid disappointment.


Our Guest Speaker:

Paul Watkin
Past SWWS Cellarmaster and wine educator

In South America, countries vie for the Copa Sudamericana trophy. With Australian Rules Football you have the Premiership Cup. South Africa participates in the Standard Bank Cup for cricket. New Zealand has the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy for cricket. In keeping with this competitive vein, we will have the South World Wine Society’s SIXTH Annual Five Nations Cup.

This blind tasting consist of a red and a white flight of wine. Each flight will include a one red varietal and one red varietal from each of the 5 southern hemisphere nations. It will be a hotly contested battle with your votes determining the winner.

There are sure to be some surprises. So come out and kick off 2011 by tasting some great wines from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Chile and Argentina.

As this is a BLIND wine tasting, the wines will be revealed AFTER we vote for our favorites, so you will not see the wine list in our announcement. As usual, along with these wines we will be providing a great selection of appetizers.

To REGISTER for our TASTING EVENT via CREDIT CARD click here: “Five Nations Cups”.  (Click here for Mail-in Registration.)

What wine to pair with a vegetarian meal?

For those of you that haven’t had a vegetarian meal, think again.  You typically have cereal or a muffin and coffee for breakfast.  For lunch it could be a salad or a vegetable sandwich or soup.  That leaves you with one meal with meat.  You are almost a vegan without knowing it, or doing much.

For most people, dinner is the main meal, and this is where the what wine to pair with a vegetarian meal will be addressed.  There is a wide variety of vegan dishes.  There are vegan dishes from all countries.  For example, Indian food has many curries made with vegetables.  Curries are usually spicy, so my recommendation is a fruity red or white wine.  The fruitiness can hold up to the spice in the wine.  You do not want to pick a dry, tannic cabernet.  A Merlot would be a better choice.  On the white wine side, a Kabinett style Riesling from Germany would work.  I have also been told that Pinotage (a red grape from South Africa) works quite well with curries.

The key point for meals, whether vegan or not, is to consider how the food is cooked (e.g. grilled or sauteed), and what sauce or spices are being used in the dish.  If you have a spicy sauce, then a wine that has lots of fruitiness works, not a dry, tannic wine.  A meal that is sauteed and has maybe a mild, citrus sauce, could pair well with a lighter bodied white wine, such as a sauvignon blanc or a chenin blanc, or a lighter bodied red, such as pinot noir or gamay.  A dish with a creamy or buttery sauce would pair well with a Burgundian wine (chardonnay or pinot noir).  The silkiness of these wines complementing the silkiness of the sauce.

Salads can be a challenge because of the sourness of the vinegar.  You may want to try a high acidity wine such as a New Zealand or BC sauvignon blanc, or a dry riesling from Australia.

Some vegetarians do eat fish.  Most fish are delicately flavoured so again pick a delicately flavoured wine, such as unoaked chardonnay, pinot gris, pinot noir or riesling.  If you get some smoked salmon, try pinot gris, Alsatian riesling, or a pinot noir.

There is much more than I can write about in this short blog.  Hopefully this will give you some pointers.  Enjoy!

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!

South World Wine Society’s Season Kickoff Tasting Notes

Yesterday was the season kickoff for the South World Wine Society here in Vancouver, BC. It was held in conjunction with the new Legacy Liquor Store located at 1633 Manitoba Street. Wines from Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa were being poured. It was a walk-about event and had appetizers to nibble along with your southern hemisphere sips.

There were some interesting wines this evening.  I had not heard of the Juno wines before from South Africa.  South African wines tend to be a bit of Old and New World wine styles mixed together, and to go well with food, at least in my past experience.  The Juno Sauvignon Blanc 2009 was medium lemon in colour.  It had very distinctive aromas of asparagus and green peas.  On the palate it had high acidity with asparagus flavour and also some wet slate (or dustiness as another person I spoke to described it).  The Juno Shiraz 2009 was deep garnet in colour.  Vanilla and plum on the nose.  Medium plus in body with vanilla and plum flavours.  Firm dry tannic finish with the flavour of pencil leads lingering on your tongue.

New Zealand also consistently puts out a flavourful Sauvignon Blanc. For this evening it was the Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2009 from the Marlborough region.  This wine was medium lemon in colour with a green tinge. Lots of gooseberry aroma on the nose.  High acid on the palate but a bit of roundness so it wasn’t harsh.  Gooseberry flavour with a hint of cinnamon. Herbal finish with a medium length.  Maybe enjoy with some fresh oysters.

My favourite wine of the night was Vina Maipo Syrah from Chile.  It is 85% Syrah with 15% Carmenere.  Deep purple in colour.  An interesting nose with vanilla, rubber and purple fruit.  Dry tannins.  Blueberries show up mid-palate, and cherries on the finish.  A bit of pepper and vanilla.  It has good tannic structure for the fruit to hang.  I don’t have the price, but I believe it is < $20.

The other red I enjoyed was the Vina Maipo Carmenere. This is 90% Carmenere and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Also a deep purple colour in the glass.  Vanilla, dark ripe plums and chocolate on the nose.  Full body with ripe black fruit, vanilla and peppery flavours.  Round mouth feel with medium length.  I preferred the Syrah over the Carmenere as it had a bit more structure to the wine.  The Carmenere is a softer wine, but also quite nice.

All these wines are available from the Legacy Liquor Store, which opens on Nov 24, 2010.  Please drop by to visit the store, and also as important, please come out to the South World Wine Society’s next event, which is their 5 Nations Cup, a blind wine tasting, to be held in January 2011. Enjoy!