The Grand Opening at Tap & Barrel

Tap and Barrel main floor

Tap and Barrel main floor

This past week was the grand opening of Tap & Barrel in the Athletes Village area in Vancouver (that is just west and south of the Main Street Skytrain station).  The event was hosted by City TV’s Dawn Chubai with guest speaker and ribbon cutter Vancouver City Councillor Raymond Louie.

The venue has two levels and is waterfront situated, with a superb view of downtown and BC Place Stadium.  The Tap & Barrel has a patio on the main level and a balcony overlooking the downtown on the upper level. The main level is maybe more high energy with many large screen TVs showing sporting events, 23 beers on tap, and more by the bottle. If you prefer a bit more quiet time, go to the 2nd floor and enjoy the Barrel level, which has 6 white wines and 7 red wines on tap.  I did sample from both the beer and the wine levels.  On the beer side, I tried the Whiskey Jack Ale and for wine, the Blasted Church Hatfield’s Fuse (Chardonnay, Viognier blend).  While beer by the glass is common, having more than 1 house red and white wine is usually not available.  I like having the choice of wines to sip by the glass. Tap & Barrel also provides you with the option of 6oz or 9oz pours, or a full bottle (750ml). The wines are quality BC wines. Besides Blasted Church, you can also sample:

  • Le Vieux Pin,
  • Laughing Stock,
  • Nichol Vineyards,
  • Summerhill,
  • Okanagan Crush Pad (Haywire), and more.

On the beer side, all are BC brewed, and include 5 Lagers, 5 Ales, 4 Pale Ales, 3 Bitters, 4 Wheat Ales, and 2 Stouts/Porters on tap.  Besides all the tipple, there is also a selection of food items for you.  We had nibbles of their fish & chips (the tartar sauce is really good. It has a fair amount of horseradish in it), pretzels, burgers and pizzas. Things you would expect from a pub.

I think it would be a fun place to get together with friends after work, or when we have some nice sunny days (I know that might not be for a while now with our rainy season).  Probably fun too for upcoming Christmas parties!  Enjoy the pictures from the event.

Tap and Barrel upper floor balcony view

Tap and Barrel upper floor balcony view

Whiskey Jack Ale

Whiskey Jack Ale

Fish and chips

Fish and chips

Barrels of wine

Barrels of wine

2 kinds of pretzels with moustard

2 kinds of pretzels with mustard

Roses and Rose Wine for Mother’s Day

Rose Hybrid Tea ‘Mrs. Herbert Stevens’

Mothers have a hard job.  And having 1 day a year to celebrate her daily toil hardly covers how much she should be appreciated.  So I’d like to suggest both roses and rose wine for this special day, and any other day you want to show your appreciation.

The Meanings of Roses

For most of us, guys especially, do not know what the colours of roses mean.  Peruse the colours and pick what is most appropriate.  I would think that some colours of roses, e.g. red, may be more appropriate for your spouse, while other colours more appropriate for your mother.  As I am not an expert on rose colours, I present this list from http://www.rkdn.org/roses/colors.asp

Red (Dark)  Unconscious beauty
Red (Single) I Love You
Deep Burgundy  Unconscious Beauty
White Purity, Innocence, Silence, Secrecy, Reverence, Humility, Youthfulness
Pink  Appreciation, “Thank you”, Grace, Perfect Happiness, Admiration, Gentleness, “Please Believe Me”
Dark Pink Appreciation, Gratitude, “Thank You”
Light Pink  Admiration, Sympathy, Gentleness, Grace, Gladness, Joy, Sweetness
Yellow Joy, Gladness, Friendship, Delight, Promise of a new beginning, Welcome Back, Remember Me,  Jealousy
Yellow with Red Tip Friendship, Falling in Love
Orange Desire, Enthusiasm
Red and White  Given together, these signify unity
Red and Yellow Jovial and Happy Feelings
Peach  Appreciation, Closing the deal, Let’s get together, Sincerity, Gratitude
Pale Peach Modesty
Coral  Desire
Lavender Love at first sight, Enchantment
Orange  Enthusiasm, Desire, Fascination

How many roses should you give?  That’s a bit subjective, but 1 rose shows your devotion and 6 roses signify a need to be loved or cherished.  If you give 2 roses, that means you want to marry that person.  Maybe you would like to buy 1 rose for each year you have been together?

Some Rose Wine Picks

I have covered many rose wines over the past years.  Rose wines are wonderful I think for spring time and to celebrate Mother’s Day.  Here are a few that I think are quite tasty:

  • Chateau Lallier Champagnes

    Champagne Lallier Rose, NV, France. If your mother, wife or significant other enjoys bubbles, here is one to please. Very pale pinkish orange colour. Light strawberry nose. Bigger bubble, with strawberry and red cherry flavour. You can never go wrong with Champagne.

  • Domaine Chandon Brut Rose, NV, France.  A sparkling rose that will treat your tastebuds.  Light orangey cherry in colour.  Lees and strawberries on the nose.  Lots of light small bubbles in the glass.  Quite creamy mouthfeel with strawberry and cherry flavours.
  • Haywire Gamay Noir Rose 2010, BC ($23). Light salmon colour. Strawberry and cherry aromas. High acidity with strawberries, raspberries and cherry flavours.  Very refreshing. We don’t come across a Gamay Noir rose, so this was nice.  Gamay, like Pinot Noir is naturally a low tannin wine, with red fruit / summer fruit flavours.  This is a very nice wine for the summer.  Try with some crab or lobster.
  • Blasted Church Rose 2010, BC ($17.99). This rose is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  Usually I expect a single varietal, like Pinot Noir or Merlot, so I was very interested to taste this rose. Very pale cherry colour. Nice strawberry aromas.  Raspberry leaf, strawberry, and capsicum flavours.  High acidity and spicy on your palate. Light body and long length.  This wine packs a punch with 14.9% alcohol, so beware as you sip this one.
  • Olivares Jumilla Rose 2010, Spain. Bright cherry colour. Light cherry nose.  Light body with ripe red cherries and strawberry flavours. Medium acid and low tannins. Very refreshing. Highly recommended.
  • Le Vieux Pin Vaïla Pinot Noir Rosé 2010, BC. 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.

I wish all mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day!

A Tasty Dineout Vancouver Dinner at Cru

Angus Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio

It was a very tasty evening at Cru Restaurant on Broadway. I spent this evening chatting with Dianne Chow and her friend S. Sharing food and talking about things big and small. I’ve eaten at Cru during non Dineout Vancouver events, and was treated to wonderful food. This is the first time for me at Dineout Vancouver.

My meal was:

  • Angus Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio, with truffle aioli, shaved parmesan and caperberries appetizer
  • Natural Pork Tenderloin, with caramelized apples, curry and raisin couscous, grainy dijon jus main course
  • Chocolate and Cardamom Pannacotta, with stewed dried fruit, hazelnut sable dessert

To accompany all of our dishes we selected a bottle of Blasted Church Merlot.  I thought a juicy, soft merlot would go well with my carpaccio, pork tenderloin, as well as the duck breast for Dianne.  It was as expected.  Very juicy ripe fruit, soft tannins, and went well with the dishes.

Natural Pork Tenderloin

I think my favourite dish was the Angus Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio.  Such thin slices of beef, very tender topped with tiny crystals of salt, some garlickiness, and sharpness from the Parmesan cheese.

The main course, the pork tenderloin was cooked with a slight pinkness left.  Went nicely with the caramelized apples.

The panacotta was decandent without being heavy.  I had a cup of Americano with it.  The hazelnut sable dessert (think a shortbread type cookie) went nicely with the coffee.

Chocolate and Cardamom Pannacotta

I also had a chance to try some of Dianne’s duck breast main course (it doesn’t show up in the Dineout Vancouver menu online, but is there at the restaurant).  It was very full flavoured, the fat under the skin giving added richness and complemented the juicy Blasted Church Merlot.

Enjoy Dineout Vancouver!

A Few BC Day Wine Picks

BC flag

Our long weekend has started here in BC. And it is also sunny. I’m sure you will want to go outside for a picnic, maybe a BBQ in your backyard patio with family and friends. But maybe you need a few BC wines to get the party going. How about some of these?

Some BC Wines

Haywire Gamay Noir Rose

Haywire Gamay Noir Rose 2010 ($23). Light salmon colour. Strawberry and cherry aromas. High acidity with strawberries, raspberries and cherry flavours.  Very refreshing. We don’t come across a Gamay Noir rose, so this was nice.  Gamay, like Pinot Noir is naturally a low tannin wine, with red fruit / summer fruit flavours.  This is a very nice wine for the summer.  Try with some crab or lobster.

Township 7 Viognier 2008. This wine 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.

Church & State Wines Chardonnay 2007. This Chardonnay 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.

Blasted Church Mixed Blessings 2010 ($17.99). This is the third vintage of this wine, and each vintage is made of a unique blend of white grapes. This vintage was made with Riesling and Gewurztraminer.  Nice aromatic nose. Green and stone fruits.  Off dry with a slight green, herbal flavour.  Light body with medium acidity and light spice to finish. Nice.

Poplar Grove Legacy

Poplar Grove Winery Legacy 2006. Legacy is a Bordeaux blend consisting of 70% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 24% Cabernet Franc. Opaque garnet in colour.  Leather and cherry aromas. Full body with ripe black cherries and vanilla.  Medium tannins with a long length.

Van Westen Vineyards Voluptuous Merlot / Cabernet Franc 2007. Opaque purple 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. Pale garnet in colour. Beautiful violets and strawberry aromas. Soft, light bodied, with vanilla, strawberries and ripe cherries on the palate.  Highly recommended.

Enjoy the long weekend!

Enjoying Blasted Church – Sip + Savour

Image Courtesy Fairmont Herons Restaurant

Wine and cheese.  Always an enjoyable time when paired together.  Today I looked forward to going to Herons Restaurant in Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in downtown Vancouver to try a flight of wines from Blasted Church winery and a pairing of cheeses from The Farm House Natural Cheeses and cheese from the Kootenays and from Salt Spring Island. You too can enjoy Sip + Savour because it takes place daily from 2pm to 5pm (excluding Sundays) at a cost of just $35.95.

Mark Wendenburg with a bottle of Blasted Church wine

Walking into Herons, I looked for an empty wine glass and a table with some wines to taste.  With my luck, the table I picked had the new wine maker from Blasted Church, Mr. Mark Wendenburg, pouring wine. Mark Wendenburg left Sumac Ridge Winery after working with them for18 years. Mark was a born and raised Penticton, and has travelled around the world, getting trained in Germany, and then making wines in New Zealand and Australia before settling back in the Okanagan. Mark is a very friendly person and I enjoyed speaking with him for a long time about wine making style, terroir, and more.

White Wines

The white wines I tasted were all fresh and fruit forward. Perfect for the summer, which I am told should arrive soon!

Pinot Gris 2010 ($19.99). I was told by Mark that their Pinot Gris always has a bit of Viognier blended in. This vintage had 8% added to the Pinot Gris. Pale lemon in colour.  Light peach and apple aromas.  High acidity but still round mouth feel. Medium body.  Flavours of ripe tropical fruits.

Blasted Church Pinot Gris on ice

Chardonnay Musque 2010 ($17.99). The Chardonnay Musque grape is a unique clone of Chardonnay that was pioneered in the Niagara Peninsula by Château des Charmes’ founder Paul Bosc. It has the Muscat character, which is very aromatic and an aroma of oranges.  This wine was pale lemon in colour. Very aromatic of oranges and flowers. Medium body, dry and medium acidity.  Juicy fruits of lemon and tropical fruit on the palate, also a bit of vanilla.  A nice long, dry finish.

Mixed Blessings 2010 ($17.99). This is the third vintage of this wine, and each vintage is made of a unique blend of white grapes. This vintage was made with Riesling and Gewurztraminer.  Nice aromatic nose. Green and stone fruits.  Off dry with a slight green, herbal flavour.  Light body with medium acidity and light spice to finish. Nice.

Gewurztraminer 2010 ($16.99). Pale lemon in the glass. Flowers and lychee greet your nose. High acidity with flowers,lychee and bonbon flavours.  Light body and has a nice balance of roundness with acidity in your mouth. Another nice wine!

Hatfield’s Fuse 2010 ($17.99). This is a blend of white grapes including Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Light lychee and herbal nose.  Round mouth feel with a nice balance of acidity.  Juicy fruit gum flavour.

Rose and Red Wines

Blasted Church has a wide range of reds from rose and lighter bodied Pinot Noir, up to a full bodied Bordeaux Blend.

Rose 2010 ($17.99). This rose is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  Usually I expect a single varietal, like Pinot Noir or Merlot, so I was very interested to taste this rose. Very pale cherry colour. Nice strawberry aromas.  Raspberry leaf, strawberry, and capsicum flavours.  High acidity and spicy on your palate. Light body and long length.  This wine packs a punch with 14.9% alcohol, so beware as you sip this one on the patio.

Pinot Noir 2009 ($24.99). I am a Pinot Noir fan and I think that the Okanagan produces some nice Pinot Noir wines. This wine was a bit Burgundian in style. Pale cherry colour, with a smoky, earthy nose.  Between a light and medium body with more smokiness and earthiness on the palate, along with cherries.  Low tannins with medium acidity. Dry with medium length.

Blasted Church Cabernet Merlot and blue cheese

Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot ($25.99). Deep garnet in colour. Ripe, dark fruit, vanilla, capsicum and pencil lead aromas. Medium body round and soft in your mouth with juicy ripe fruits, cherries and vanilla. Also a bit on spiciness on the finish.  Long length.  This wine tastes sweet, but it is just the juiciness of the fruit. Nice.

Nothing Sacred 2008 ($39.99). I’m not sure why the name, but the label shows a dead goat with it’s legs up in the air! This is a premium Bordeaux blend comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Each parcel of fruit was processed and vinified separately.  After vinification, the wines went into their finest oak barrels and aged separately until a final blend was determined. Deep garnet in the glass. Ripe dark fruit, vanilla and dark chocolate nose. Full body with cassis, plums, and opulent vanilla flavours.  Dry with medium tannins and soft acid.  Try this wine with a steak on your barbeque this long weekend.

Artisan Cheese

To pair with several of Blasted Church’s wines were artisan cheese by The Farm House Natural Cheeses, plus an Alpindon cheese from the Kootenay’s and a  “Beddis Blue” from Moonstruck Organic Cheese on Salt Spring Island.

Alpindon cheese with Blasted Church Pinot Gris

The Alpindon cheese was paired with the Pinot Gris. This is a hard cheese, slightly creamy and salty, with a bit of crunchiness to it. A bit of pungency but still quite mild for most people. It went nicely with the pinot gris.

I checked up on this cheese via the Internet and found that it is made by the Kootenay Alpine Cheese Company in Creston, BC. They describe the Alpindon cheese as “a firm cheese carefully modeled after French Beaufort d’Alpage. Following centuries old tradition this cheese is hand-rubbed and made only with milk from summer pastures. It exhibits a smooth nut flavour, a complex finish, a rich golden interior and a dark textured rind. Additional aging concentrates its flavours, deepens its complexity, and increases the sweet crystals that develop throughout the body of the cheese.”

Variety of Cheeses from Farm House Natural Cheeses

The Farm House Natural Cheeses‘ Farm House cheddar was paired with the Chardonnnay Musque. This cheddar felt medium aged to me with some nice nuttiness, a bit of cheddar sharpness, and low in salt. It is hard for a cheddar not to pair nicely with any wine, and this one matched well. A drop of sweet chutney was added to the cheese so you had some sweet, sharp, nutty, and salty flavours to go with the Chardonnay Musque. I spoke with I believe Debra Amrein-Boyes, who is one of only twelve people in western Canada and the US who has been inducted into the prestigious French Cheese Guild, the “Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie de Saint-Uguzon“.  I was very interested to hear how they made one of their blue cheeses, and her description of their camembert cheese.  They are located in Agassiz, BC, so I hope to make a pilgrimage to their Fromagerie before the summer is out, see her contented cows and try more of her fabulous cheeses.

The last cheese paired was the  “Beddis Blue” from Moonstruck Organic Cheese onSalt Spring Island. Very creamy with a mild bite. A drop of honey made by bees kept on the roof of the Fairmont Waterfront hotel, was added to this blue cheese.  It was a very interesting flavour combination.  I’ve never mixed honey and blue cheese, but it works and paired nicely with the fruitiness and acidity in the Cabernet Merlot blend.

If you are a fan of bees and honey, the Fairmont Waterfront hotel does offer their guests a guided Herb Garden & Honeybee Tour. Also if you are a chocolate fan, try the hotel’s honey truffles, the “Bee’s Knees”. The truffles, created in partnership with British Columbia’s legendary chocolatier, Rogers’ Chocolates, are offered in milk and dark chocolate and feature flavour notes of butterscotch, vanilla and cinnamon.

Have a great summer, enjoying some wine and cheese on your patio!

BC Sauvignon Blanc for Summer Sips

Sauvignon Blanc generally has a fresh, bracing style, which is perfect chilled for summer sipping, and with fresh seafood, which we have in abundance here in British Columbia. This grape variety is known for its grassy, herbal, gooseberry fruit, citrus and asparagus characters. It is unique with a herbaceous character and most often made in a dry style.  Sometimes you may see a wine labelled “Fume Blanc”.  This is a Sauvignon Blanc that has been aged in oak barrels.  California I think can be thanked for popularizing this style of Sauvignon Blanc.  Classic regions for Sauvignon Blanc are France and New Zealand.  Luckily for us, many BC wine makers were trained in New Zealand, and/or we have some Kiwi wine makers working here.

Checking the www.EverythingWine.ca website, I identified the following BC Sauvignon Blanc wines in the $15-$25 range:

Blasted Church Winery Sauvignon Blanc 750 mL Sauvignon Blanc $22.99
Calliope Sauvignon Blanc 750ml Sauvignon Blanc $21.99
Fairview Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2009 750 mL Sauvignon Blanc $24.99
Gehringer Dry Rock Sauvignon Blanc 750 mL Sauvignon Blanc $16.99
Little Straw Sauvignon Blanc 750ml Sauvignon Blanc $20.99
Mike Weir Sauvignon Blanc 750 mL Sauvignon Blanc $17.99
Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 750 mL Sauvignon Blanc $18.99
Orofino Sauvignon Blanc 750ml Sauvignon Blanc $24.99
Painted Turtle Sauvignon Blanc 1.5 L Sauvignon Blanc $16.99
Sawmill Creek Fume Blanc 1.5L Sauvignon Blanc $15.99
Sawmill Creek Sauvignon Blanc 1.5L Sauvignon Blanc $15.99
Sonora Ranch Sauvignon Blanc 1.5 L Sauvignon Blanc $17.99
Sonora Ranch Sauvignon Blanc VQA 1.5 L Sauvignon Blanc $19.99
Stag’s Hollow Sauvignon Blanc 750 ml Sauvignon Blanc $24.99

Checking my wine tasting notes, I have tasted these BC Sauvignon Blanc:

Lulu Island Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2008: Medium yellow colour. Light grapefruit nose. Good acid. Honey and grapefruit flavours.

Kettle Valley Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2008: Pale lemon. Citrus and green aromas. Good acidity and roundness balance. Off dry with peachy, citrus flavours.

Poplar Grove Monster Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2008: New Zealand style. Lots of gooseberry, herbal and honey on the nose. Light body. Gooseberry and herbal flavour. Good acidity. Try with fresh seafood.

Cheers!