Win Tickets to the Celebrate Argentina Tasting

Celebrate Argentina

Celebrate Argentina

On Wednesday, September 25, 2013 Wines of Argentina will host Celebrate One Night In Argentina.  With DJs, a graffiti artist and more than 30 wineries, the evening will be a lively festival of modern Argentine culture.   The event will benefit the BC Hospitality Foundation’s Tip Out To Help fundraising efforts.  Enter the MyWinePal contest for your chance to win 2 tickets to the fantastic event.

About Argentina and Their Wine

Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world and produces about four times as much wine as Chile.  Spanish colonization in 1541 brought over Vitis Vinifera vines and the first record of a vineyard dates back to 1557 in Santiago del Estero. Vines came from different sources, including Italy.

The country is known for Malbec, Bonarda, Tempranillo, Barbera, Lambrusco, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah and others. The most widely planted white varietals are Pedro Xeminez, Moscatel, Torrontes, Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Riesling, Chardonnay and others.

The Event: Where, When, and How Much?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
7:00 – 9:30 pm
Jewel Ballroom
1495 West 8th Avenue (at Granville), Vancouver

Tickets $49; available through www.winesofargentina.ca
$10 discount with promotional code greatwine makes them a deal at $39

Contest to Win 2 Tickets!

Would you like to wine 2 tickets to this awesome event?  For your chance to win, do the following:

  1. Send out the tweet “I want to win 2 tickets to #CelebrateArgentina from @mywinepal”
  2. Post a comment below with your favourite wine from Argentina that you have tasted or your favourite grape from Argentina.

One pair of tickets will be randomly on September 23, 2013 from all entries, and the winner will be notified on Twitter.

BC Hospitality Foundation’s Tip Out To Help

The foundation, formed in fall 2006, was inspired by the desire to help long-time wine agent Michael Willingham with the money he needed for both a costly surgery and the rehabilitation time that would follow.

This desire to help Michael brought forward a need to establish a trust fund that could be used to help anyone within the food service, beverage, and hospitality industry who required extraordinary support due to illness or accident.

Read more here about the BC Hospitality Foundation.

Novo Pizzeria and Fontanafredda Wine in the BC Marketplace

Poggiotondo Bianco Toscana 2011

Sometimes last minute events are the most fun.  I received a short notice invite to try a new red wine, a Barbera,  from Italian producer Fontanafredda being released in the BCLDB stores. Also at the event is a white blend of Malvasia, Trebbiano and Vermentino produced by Alberto Antonini.  To top it off, the wine tasting was going to be held at Novo Pizzeria on Burrard St in Vancouver.  How could I refuse.  I love wine and pizza!

The white wine comes from Tuscany which is perhaps the most famous of all Italian wine regions, while the Barbera is from Piedmont. The Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes are found all over Italy, particularly in the center and north. I have noticed recently an uptick in Trebbiano wines coming into the BC marketplace.  Barbera, according to Wikipedia “..is a red Italian wine grape variety that, as of 2000, was the third most-planted red grape variety in Italy (after Sangiovese and Montepulciano).[1] It produces good yields and is known for deep color, low tannins and high levels of acid… The best known appellation is the DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) Barbera d’Asti in the Piedmont region. When young, the wines offer a very intense aroma of fresh red and blackberries. In the lightest versions notes of cherries, raspberries and blueberries and with notes of blackberry and black cherries in wines made of more ripe grapes. Many producers employ the use of toasted (seared over a fire) oak barrels, which provides for increased complexity, aging potential, and hints of vanilla notes…“.

My Wine Notes

  • Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera 2010

    Poggiotondo Bianco Toscana IGT 2011, Italy ($16.99). Light lemony colour. Lively citrus with some lime and flowers on the nose.  Very pretty. Light body, dry with high acidity making it very refreshing to drink. Citrus and bitter apricot pit flavours, and some leesy creaminess on the palate.  A nice wine to drink this summer on the patio.

  • Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera 2010, Italy ($17.99). Medium ruby colour in the glass. Woody nose, not oaky.  Also some sour cherry aromas. Light body, dry with medium acidity.  It has a very light vanilla flavour that floats on top of the cherry and ripe raspberry flavours.  Soft mouth feel with some acidity at the back of your tongue. Very tasty.

Both wines are very approachable, have an excellent sub $20 price, and use a screw cap, so you should have no reason not to buy these wines and enjoy them.

Enjoying Novo Pizzeria’s Pizzas

I do enjoy thin crust pizzas baked in a brick oven and made with fresh ingredients.  Novo Pizzeria kept making pizzas with different ingredients, some with tomato based sauces, others without.  Each pizza was unique and very tasty.  Enjoy the pictures of the process of making the pizza, to reaching my plate!  Enjoy!

Making a pizza at Novo Pizzeria.

Novo Pizzeria cooking the pizza.

Novo Pizza right from the oven.

Novo pizza with wine.

More Novo pizza with wine.

MyWinePal Picks from the California Wine Fair 2011 Canadian Tour

I look forward each year for the California Wine Fair to come through Vancouver. There was almost 120 wineries in attendance this year. Too many to try and taste at one time. But I hope I have a few gems for you.

California wines are big in the USA market. From a recent Decanter article, they noted “Wines from California accounted for 61% of overall US market volumes at nearly 200m cases, up 1%, with retail value estimated at US$18.5bn.http://bit.ly/ieHzkC.  That is a staggering amount to me.

In BC, California wines are well-regarded, but maybe only known for their Napa Cabs and oaked chardonnays. But there is more to California wines than just that. Try a Pinot Noir, Syrah, or Sauvignon Blanc.

Here are a few of my California Wine Fair highlights:

Sparkling Wine

  • Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2007. This wine is made from 100% chardonnay.  It had a light nutty nose.  High acid with small bubble.  Red delicious apple and citrus flavours.

White Wine

  • Ferrari-Carano Winery Fume Blanc 2009. This is possibly my favorite wine of the fair. Fume blanc is an oaked sauvignon blanc. This wine is pale lemon in colour with a greenish tint. Lots of herbal, gooseberry and grassy aromas. Round mouthfeel with herbal and green pepper flavours. A long length. A white wine to savour.
  • Rodney Strong Vineyards Chalk Hill Chardonnay 2009. This wine is tied with the Ferrari-Carano for my favorite wine of the fair.  Pale lemon in colour with a green tinge. Vanilla and lemon aromas. Cinnamon, apple, lemon and vanilla flavours.  Have a wow moment when you sip this wine.

Red Wine

  • Alexander Valley Vineyards Redemption Zin, 2007. Medium garnet in colour with a nice raspberry nose. Very fruity and jammy. Primarily raspberry flavours, with a bit of cherry and spice. Medium tannins and is drinking nicely now.
  • Bennett Lane Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. 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. Light garnet in colour. Smoky raspberry nose. Medium body with raspberry and cassis flavours, with vanilla and spice on the finish. An elegant wine.
  • Clos du Val Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. Light garnet colour in the glass. Light nose with capsicum and cassis. Medium body with cassis and raspberry flavours. Round mouthfeel with medium tannins. Another elegant wine!
  • Eberle Winery Syrah 2008. Medium garnet. Meaty, ripe red fruit, and herbal notes on the nose. Raspberry, blueberry and vanilla flavours. Medium body with dry tannins in the background.
  • Grgich Hills Estate Zinfandel 2007.  Light garnet in colour with a light jammy nose.  Raspberry flavour with firm tannins and a medium body.  Some spice on the finish.
  • Hahn Family Wines Pinot Noir 2009.  Light garnet in colour.  Strawberry aromas on the nose.  Light body, with tea leaves and strawberry flavours.   Low tannins.
  • Mettler Family Vineyard Zinfandel 2008.  This is a relatively new winery although this family has been growing grapes for many years.  This is the 3rd vintage for this winery.  This zin was opaque purple in colour.  BBQ briquettes, woody and meaty nose.  Very round mouthfeel. Dark ripe fruit, cigar and vanilla flavours with some spice on the finish.
  • Perry Creek Vineyards Altitude:2401 Barbera 2009. Barbera is an Italian grape variety that is best known as Barbera d’Asti in the Piedmont region.  This California version was light garnet in colour.  Smoky, chocolate, and raspberry on the nose. Medium body with smoky raspberry flavours.  Low tannins.  This was one of my surprise favorites of the wine fair.
  • St. Clement Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.  Deep garnet in colour.  Light cherry / plum on the nose.  Medium body and medium tannins.  Flavours of apples, plums, cherries and vanilla.
  • Vina Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.  Nice juicy raspberry fruit nose with a hint of capsicum.  Juicy flavours of cassis and raspberries.  Some vanilla too.  Fine tannins.

That’s all for now.  Enjoy some California wine this weekend.

A Visit to Two Small WA Wineries

In an earlier post, I wrote about my experience at Chateau Ste Michelle and Airfield Estates wineries. On that same trip, but different day, I visited 2 small wineries south of Seattle: E.B. Foote and Castle Bridge wineries. Both are owned by a couple.

E.B. Foote contracts with vineyard operators in Eastern Washington for their grapes. They produce mostly red wines and primarily single varietals. I was amazed to hear that 90-95% of their sales are right from their cellar door. The winery started in 1978 by a previous owner and was bought by the current couple in 1991. This couple is now ready for retirement, so the winery is up FOR SALE! If you have US$500,000 you can buy the winery. You get their equipment, their current inventory of wine, and the use of their brand. I figure from the $500,000, that selling the inventory should bring down that cost for you, but will take a bit of time.

What about their wines? The wines are all reasonably priced at $14 a bottle. My favorite was their Cabernet Franc 2008. Medium garnet in colour. Vanilla, cedar and dark cherry aromas. It was medium plus in body. Sweet black cherries, very juicy, with cinnamon / cloves and vanilla flavours. I also enjoyed their Zinfandel 2009. This wine had the characteristic jammy fruit nose, along with some vanilla. More vanilla on the palate, along with cinnamon and raspberry flavours. It had a dry cherry finish. Medium tannins so you can drink it now. They also have two nice blends. Their Mirage 2009 from Syrah and Merlot, and their Rainy Day VI blend from Syrah and Cabernet.

The other winery that day was Castle Bridge. They have only been open for 4 years. They contract with vineyards in WA and CA. The vineyards provide them with the juice for their wines. They produce an off-dry Chenin Blanc. Their Chenin Blanc 2009 is medium lemon in colour. Wax, lemon and vanilla on the nose. Medium body with pears and citrust and oak. A hint of some spice. Medium bodied. Something easy to drink. The other wine that was quite interesting was their Barbera 2007 from the Columbia Valley. Barbera is an Italian grape, and is the third most popular red grape planted in Italy. I don’t think I’ve come across any other Barbera in WA. Deep purple in colour. Lots of aromas. Vanilla and various purple fruits. Full body with soft tannins. Juicy purple fruit and vanilla. A bit of sweetness on the palate. If you’ve come across any other wineries in WA that produce a Barbera, please let me know, as I would like to try them too.

Enjoy!

Wines from Mendoza, Argentina

Most people probably don’t know about the Mendoza area, but enjoy the big Malbec wines that come from that part of Argentina. Mendoza is located in mid-west of the Argentine Republic and at the feet of the Andes. Mendoza is the center of Argentina’s wine industry and accounts for approximately 70% of the country’s total output. Nearly all the major wineries are concentrated in this province. Its signature grape is the Malbec. The climate and terroir in Mendoza are the ideal setting for the full expression of this grape variety. Being high altitude, it gets nice warm sunny weather during the day, and cool night time temperatures, which prolongs the grape ripening season and keeping acidity in the grapes.

Argentina is the 5th largest wine producer in the world. Mendoza has over 140,000 hectares of vineyards. Mendoza exports approximately 90% of Argentina’s wines.

Mendoza produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera, Riesling, Chenin, Ungi Blanc, and Semillon and others, in its over 1220 vineyards. 79% of vineyards are planted with red varietals and 21% with white varietals.

Malbec is the most popular varietal for international markets. With typical black cherry, blackberry and spice aromas, this wine is usually produced in a Bordeaux style, often aged in oak, for a result that is soft, deep, and velvety.

Besides being a great place to produce full bodied wines, the town of Mendoza has a large artist base. So lots of great artwork as well.