My Best Blog Articles for 2010

Today I received an email from WordPress outlining my most read articles in 2010.  According to WordPress these are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

From my review of past daily access to my blog, I think I would also add:

Caviar and Champagne for New Years Eve?

Wineries for Sale?

From the WordPress list, I see that the most interest you had was in the latest Bordeaux release.  So I will try to cover more Bordeaux articles that I can.  I do find out Bordeaux news and pass it along via my Twitter account.  My Twitter id is @mywinepal.  Please follow me there.

Do you have a favorite blog article(s) from me over the past year? I would love to find out which articles were most interesting to you, and what topics you would like me to cover in the future!  So please comment.

Have a great 2011 New Year.

My Favorite Wines in 2010 – MyWinePal Blog Selection

Wines change yearly with each new vintage. That’s one thing that makes tasting wine exciting. What wines did I try this past year, 2010, that made my favorite list?  I went through the list and noted that I recommended approximately 111 different wines this year.  The wines below are the ones I’ve selected from my BLOG.  I also have a wine selection from my main MyWinePal.com website.  I’ll post that separately.

From the 111 different wines my favorites for 2010 are:

White Wine

Domaine Comte-Senard Corton-Charlemagne 2006 (Burgundy). This wine was medium to deep lemon in the glass. Lemon vanilla, wood, and butterscotch on the nose. Medium body, with lemon, woody, earthy, and nutmeg aromas. Quite complex. Medium acidity which nicely balanced the fruit in this wine.

Jackson Estate Stich Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Marlborough, NZ) is a very elegant wine. Oak, lemon and herbal on the nose. Big legs from a higher alcohol content, but the wine is balanced by the fruit so not hot on the palate. It does have nice herbal and lemon flavours with good acidity, not too strong.

Church & States Wines Chardonnay 2007 (BC) 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.

Van Westen Vineyards Vivacious 2008 (BC) is Pinot Blanc with a hint of Pinot Gris, again has peachy fruit as well as some apricot aromas. Good acidity. Peach and apricot flavours with a touch of greenness.

La Frenz Andrew Vineyard Riesling 2009 (BC), is light lemon in colour. Flowery and apple aromas. Good acidity with a bit of residual sugar. Red apple and citrus flavours. Elegant.

Sperling Vineyards Pinot Gris 2008 (BC). 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.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Chardonnay 2008 (Washington) was very elegant.  This wine was medium golden in the glass. Vanilla, oak, lemon and apple aromas.  It was medium body with toasty, lemon and light spice on the palate.  Light acidity to complement the roundness of the wine.  Spice and lemon on the finish.

Red Wine

Howling Bluff Estate Pinot Noir 2008 (BC). New world style, with ripe strawberry and cherry aromas with a bit of sweet spice and vanilla. Silky on the palate with vanilla, cherry, and raspberry flavours.

Dominique Laurent Chambolle-Musigny “Les Charmes” 1er Cru (Burgundy). I was told that Dominique Laurent is a bit of a controversial producer in Burgundy in that he buys wine and “elevates” it through the use of oak aging before bottling. His wines have his stamp or “signature” on them. Some enjoy having a wine with a certain style, while others do not. I did enjoy this wine. It was deep garnet in colour. Complex nose with dark cherry, liquor, slight smoke and vanilla aromas. Drying tannins but very fine grained. Medium body. Cherry flavour with slight spice on the finish.

Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux AOC 2007 (Bordeaux). This wine was a blend of 60% Merlot / 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was deep purple coloured in the glass. Meaty, dark cherry, cassis, and vanilla aromas. Full bodied, with ripe cherries, vanilla, and medium fine tanning. It had a very nice cherry finish and a long length.

Chateau de Gironville, Haut-Medoc AOC 2007 (Bordeaux) is a blend of 45% Merlot / 45% Cabernet Sauvignon / 10% Petit Verdot. Opaque purple in the glass (courtesy of the Petit Verdot). A very aromatic nose. Lots of coffee of black cherry. On the palate you get firm tannins, with black cherry, coffee, and vanilla flavours. Full body with long length.

Vina Maipo Syrah (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.

Ata Rangi ‘Crimson’ Pinot Noir 2008 (Waiparapa – New Zealand). Light cherry colour. Raspberry aroma. Red cherry and raspberry flavours. Soft tannins. Very elegant.

Panther Creek Freedom Hill Pinot Noir 2006 (Oregon) is light cherry coloured. Smoky, strawberry aromas. Earthy, cherry flavours, with a bit of spiciness and low tannins.

Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir (New Zealand) was medium garnet in the glass. A very pretty raspberry and plum nose. Raspberry, leafy, cherry flavours. Slightly spicy. Silky on the palate.

Le Vieux Pin Syrah / Viognier 2008 (BC). 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.

Man O’ War Merlot / Cabernet / Franc / Malbec 2008 (New Zealand). The blend for this wine is 42% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc, 19% Malbec, and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium purple/garnet in colour. Smoky with black cherry and tar aromas. Black cherry, cassis, and vanilla flavours. It was medium plus in body with medium silky tannins and good acidity to balance the fruit. Very nicely done. It had a long length with a dry cherry finish. A quality wine that coated the glass.

Travaglini Giancarolo Gattinara DOCG 2005 (Italy) was a light cherry / tea colour in the glass. Tea leaves, strawberries, cedar and slight oak on the nose. Light body, with medium mouthfeel. Good fruit, with flavours of plum and cherries. The tannins were firm but refined. Dry finish with medium length.

La Frenz Reserve Pinot Noir 2008. (BC). This wine won a Silver in the Northwest Wine Summit this year, and two Gold medals at the Northwest Wine Summit in 2009. It had a nice smoky, strawberry nose with a hint of oak. Light body with strawberry and cherry flavours. Silky with low tannins. Long length with a cherry finish. Buy it before it is all sold out.

Nicol Vineyards Syrah 2008 (BC) is opaque purple in the glass. Vanilla and sweet dark fruit nose. Raspberries, red cherries, blueberries and a bit of minerality on the palate. Soft tannins. I do enjoy a syrah when the blueberry characteristic of the grape is detectable.

Bodega Noemia J Alberto 2008 (Argentina). 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.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Washington).  Ethos is the top tier wine level from Chateau Ste Michelle.  The wine is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 3% Syrah. The wine is deep garnet in colour.  A nice nose, with aromas of capsicum, cherry, and meat.  Round on the palate with soft tannins.  Meaty, cassis, black cherry, and chocolate flavours.  The wine went through a very light filtering before being bottled, so don’t be surprised to see a bit of sediment in your glass.

Fortified / Dessert Wine

Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica Riesling Ice Wine 2006 (Washington). This wine was made in conjunction with Dr. Loosen from Germany. The Riesling grapes were harvested from their Horse Heaven Vineyard on Oct 31, which according to Chateau Ste Michelle is very rare.  This is only the fifth time in their 40 year history that this has occurred.  The wine was a medium golden colour in the glass.  Petrol, flowers, lemon nose.  Very pretty. Medium body, with a wonderful lime flavour, petrol, and good acidity to balance the sugar and fruit.  Medium sweetness.  Lovely lime finish.

Sparkling Wine

Moreson, Blanc de Blancs Brut Method Cap Classic, South Africa. This is 100% Chardonnay. A very fine bubble. Red apple, citrus, light spice and bready flavour. Long finish. Nice.

Enjoy this selection and stay tuned for my next blog article, where I will cover my wine selections from the main MyWinePal.com website.

30 Year Anniversary of Meerlust Rubicon

Nobody said crossing the Rubicon would be easy. The Rubicon was the name of the river crossed by Julius Caesar when he advanced upon Rome to wrest sole control over the ancient city from the senate and its ruling triumvirate of consuls in 49BC.

It is said that when you “Cross the Rubicon“, it means you have made a decision and cannot go back.  Thirty years ago, Nico Myburgh, Meerlust’s seventh-generation owner and vintner from the 1950s to the 1980s, committed his pioneering vision of a Cape version of the classic Bordeaux red blend to bottle in 1980.  And thus Meerlust’s Rubicon was born in 1984.

Nico Myburgh had committed himself to his vision of making a premium red blend after travelling in France in 1967 and visiting some of the most renowned Bordeaux estates.

In the three-centuries-old South African Cape Dutch homestead,  the 30th vintage of Meerlust Rubicon has been assembled from the farm’s finest barrels of 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. And, for the first time, a dash of another classic Bordeaux blending ingredient has been added: Petit Verdot. This wine will be released in 2014, as per tradition of waiting for four years after bottling to let the wine’s components integrate.

The Meerlust Rubicon 2001 was listed as No 27 in the Top 100 wines for 2006 by Wine Enthusiast and winning the Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande trophy for best red blend at the 2006 International Wine & Spirit Competition in London. The Meerlust Rubicon 2004 was awarded 90 points by Wine Spectator in 2008 and voted best New World red in Decanter in 2009.

I have tried the Meerlust Rubicon in the past through the South World Wine Society and can vouch for the quality of this wine.  I am also a fan of the Meerlust Chardonnay and the Meerlust Merlot.  You cannot go wrong with any of these wines.  For more information about Meerlust and Rubicon. Enjoy!

Bordeaux 2007 Release Preview. What to Expect?

Today the Cambie Street BC Liquor Store had a pre-release showing of six red Bordeaux wines from the 2007 vintage. As expected, the tasting area was packed full of people wanting to get a taste of what to expect with the BCLDB releases all their 2007 Bordeaux inventory on September 25, 2010.

The 2007 vintage I was told at this tasting was a cool year. So do not expect, big, full-bodied reds. Expect a leaner, lighter style. Also expect the blend to change, as it does every year. Cabernet Sauvignon loves heat, while Merlot does very well with cooler temperatures, so for this cooler vintage, expect to see a greater percentage of Merlot in the blends.

The first three wines I tasted were:
Chateau Belle Vue, Haut-Medoc AOC 2007
– Chateau Puy Blanquet, St Emilion Grand Cru AOC 2007
– Chateau Sainte Colombe, Côtes de Castillon AOC 2007

The Chateau Belle Vue is a 70% Merlot / 20% Cabernet Franc / 10% Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Deep garnet in the glass. A very nice colour. Quite smoky aromas, along with black berries and cherries. Firm tannins with bright cherry fruit and a medium length. Good to drink now.

I do like the wines from the St. Emilion region and was looking forward to trying the Chateau Puy Blanquet . It was light garnet in colour with aromas of red cherries and a bit of vanilla. Soft mouthfeel with red cherries flavours. The tannins built as you kept the wine in your mouth longer. Thin body and short length. I was hoping for more.

Chateau Sainte Colombe is a blend of 70% Merlot / 20% Cabernet Franc / 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium garnet colour. Closed nose, but I was able to pull out some capsicum, vanilla and cherries. On the palate, it was quite round, with cassis, red cherries and oak flavours. Medium tannins and medium length. Not bad. Maybe with a bit of time exposed to the air, the nose would have opened up more.

The next three wines I would rank at a higher level of wine making. These wines are more structured with more length and interesting flavours and aromas. The three wines are:

Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux AOC 2007
– Chateau de Gironville, Haut-Medoc AOC 2007
– Chateau Moulin Haut-Laroque, Fronsac AOC 2007

The Alter Ego de Palmer, is the second label for the well-regarded Chateau Palmer winery. This wine was a blend of 60% Merlot / 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was deep purple coloured in the glass. Meaty, dark cherry, cassis, and vanilla aromas. Full bodied, with ripe cherries, vanilla, and medium fine tanning. It had a very nice cherry finish and a long length. Overall my favorite of all six wines, but comes with a $59 price tag. Clearly not the most expensive of the upcoming Bordeaux releases (which can be easily $600+), but I think would be a special occasion wine for many people.

The Chateau de Gironville is a blend of 45% Merlot / 45% Cabernet Sauvignon / 10% Petit Verdot. Opaque purple in the glass (courtesy of the Petit Verdot). A very aromatic nose. Lots of coffee of black cherry. On the palate you get firm tannins, with black cherry, coffee, and vanilla flavours. Full body with long length. I personally purchased a bottle of this wine. A nice price point at $22.99.

The final wine was the Chateau Moulin Haut-Laroque. Opaque purple/garnet in the glass. It had a chemical / woody nose that I did not particularly enjoy. Medium body, with cassis and cherry flavours. Round mouthfeel but an astringent finish. Maybe this wine needs a few years to evolve in the bottle?

I’d advise those of you going to buy the 2007 red Bordeaux’s to do some research online to find out what other professional reviewers have said about the wines. Do not forget that there will also be white Bordeaux being released. With the cooler temperature of the 2007 growing season, this gives the semillon and sauvignon blanc grapes plenty of time to mature on the vine and to keep their fresh fruitiness and good acidity. It also I am told was very good for Sauternes. Be sure to line up early at the Cambie St specialty wine store on September 25, 2010! Enjoy.

What is Old World Wine?

Old World wine, strictly defined, are wines produced by historically the wine producing regions of Europe. France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain would be the top producers of Old World wine. These countries have been responsible for many innovations in wine making, such as selecting vitis vinifera as producing the most enjoyable wines (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Riesling).The Old World region invented the glass bottle for wine, and sparkling wine, among other accomplishments.

Old World wine is also about a style and a mentality about the land. In the Old World, you hear about “terroir“, and how terroir drives which grapes are grown in a region. For example, in the Rhone Valley, Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne, and Rousanne are grown. You would not traditionally find these grapes grown in Bordeaux or the Loire Valley.

What is terroir? Terroir is often used to describe the aspects of a wine region such as soil, climate and topography that are often out of the winemaker’s control. These unique features affect the ripening of the grapes, the nutrients that are absorbed from the soil, and more, which combined make the wine from the syrah grape in the Rhone Valley to taste different from syrah made elsewhere in the world. With the thousands of years that wine makers in the Old World have had with experimenting with different grape varieties on different soils, with different slopes and drainage, and climate, they have found the varieties that produce the best wine in each region.

Another aspect of Old World wine, is tradition. Tradition can be good or bad. Traditions help us learn from the past so that we do not have to go through the learning process that our ancestors have gone through. Such as determining that Syrah grows very well in the Rhone Valley. But on the other hand, tradition can be very prescriptive. Telling you that you can only grow Syrah in the Rhone Valley. Some wine makers, may for example want to grow Cabernet Sauvignon. They can, but the wine would not be accredited as AOC in France by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine. This has happened in Italy, where some wine makers in the Tuscany region wanted to grow and produce wine with red grapes other than sangiovese. These wines could not be certified as DOCG of Italy at that time. The wine makers were producing excellent wines, and eventually the Italian wine certification body in Italy relented and made a new category for these Super Tuscan wines, called IGT. So change is possible in the Old World, but it can be a long process.

Old World Wines can also be thought of according to style. If you are thinking of a wine from Bordeaux, you are thinking of a wine, with some fruit, a solid backbone from tannins in the grape and from the oak aging. The wines are restrained. Not super extracted fruit driven wines, with lots of vanilla flavour. In time these Old World style Bordeaux reds evolve in the bottle, with the tannins softening, providing support to the fruit, and the flavours and aromas becoming more complex. Some Old World style wines are produced by the wine maker to reach their peak 5 – 10 or more years after the wines are bottled.

That’s a brief overview of what is Old World wine. Much more can be said about Old World wines, and maybe I will discuss more in future blogs. Enjoy.

Bordeaux Blends for the Long Weekend

Our last long weekend, Labour Day, is upon us. Soon the rains will start here in BC. So fire up the BBQ for maybe one last great hurrah, and open a bottle of a BC Bordeaux blend.

When I speak of Bordeaux blend, in this blog I’m talking about red wine. There is a white Bordeaux blend, but I’ll cover that in a different blog.

In a red Bordeaux blend, you can have a blend of up to the following different grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere. Malbec and Carmenere are rarely used in Bordeaux now as they were hard to harvest to ripeness and most of the vines are gone. In Bordeaux due to the variations in the climate each year; sometimes a cooler year, and sometimes warmer, you needed to blend earlier ripening and later ripening grapes in order to get a good wine. In the Okanagan, we are blessed with fairly good weather every summer so we can do single varietals, but still blending adds additional complexity to the wine.

With that said, I checked into everythingwine.ca and identified the following BC Bordeaux blends in the $15-$25 range:

Black Widow Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 375 mL Red blend $24.99
Blasted Church Winery Big Bang Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $23.99
Domaine de Chaberton Canoe Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $15.99
Fork In The Road Winery Oliver Block 249 Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Hester Creek 2004 Cabernet – Merlot – Cab Franc 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Kalala Organic Estate Winery Cuvee Noir 2008 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Kettle Valley Starboard Fortified Malbec / Petit Verdot 375ml Red blend $24.99
Kettle Valley Old Main Red 375ml Red blend $23.99
Lake Breeze Vineyards Meritage Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $24.99
Road 13 Vineyards Rockpile Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $24.99
Sonora Ranch Proprietor’s Select Red 1.5 L Red blend $15.99
Therapy Vineyards Freud’s Ego 750ml Red blend $19.99
Toscano Rosso Red 2.0L Red blend $16.99

A few of the above blends may have some non-Bordeaux variety grapes in them, such as the Kalala Cuvee Noir, but most I think are all true Bordeaux blends.  In the past I’ve tasted the following BC Bordeaux blends:

Van Westen Vineyards Voluptuous Merlot / Cabernet Franc    2006    Deep reddish purple. Light aromas of cherry, cedar and slight herbaceousness. Round mouthfeel.  Dark fruit liquor, cherry and plum flavours with a vanilla finish.

Poplar Grove    Legacy Merlot / Cabernet Franc / Cabernet Sauvignon / Malbec    2004    Black fruit aromas with a slight wisp of capsicum.  Round mouthfeel with dark fruit and firm tannins.  Dry with a black cherry finish.

Howling Bluff    Sin Cera Merlot / Cabernet Franc / Malbec    2007    Deep purple with a red edge. Smoky, dark fruit aromas.  Dark fruit, cherry and spicy flavours.  Spicy / cherry finish.  Firm tannins.

Black Widow Winery    Hourglass Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon    2007    Nice nose with casis, cherry, plum and vanilla.  Fruit forward.  Black cherry, plum and some vanilla on palate.  Medium length.

Therapy Vineyards    Freud’s Ego Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc / Merlot    2007    Medium garnet with slight purple colouration.  Oak, cherry, currant and cedar aromas.  Cherry, red and dark berries, and vanilla flavour.  Round mouth feel, soft tannins.  Cherry finish.

I have many more in the list, but to keep it brief, I’ve listed just a few.  I hope you enjoy your Labour Day long weekend with a red  BC Bordeaux blend.

Cheers.

BC Merlot for Summer Sips

We are well into summer now. With a scorching weekend and upcoming week, I thought it would be time to cover BC Merlot, which can be quite ripe and juicy, and pair up nicely with outdoor BBQs.

Merlot is one of the main components in a Bordeaux blend, with the other two major varieties being Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. I’ve covered Cabernet Sauvignon in a previous summer sips blog, so please read that one as well as this blog article. Cabernet Sauvignon is more structured with higher tannins and usually less juicy fruit flavours. Merlot, when blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, adds that juicy, fruit, round mouth component. But Merlot is also wonderful on it’s own.

Merlot typically shows blackberry, plum and berry fruit flavours.  If very ripe, Merlot may have fruitcake flavours.  It is generally lower in tannins, making it a versatile wine to enjoy with various foods.  Oak aging adds additional complexity to the wine.  If you like cheese, try some Merlot with brie or medium cheddar.

Checking with the www.everythingwine.ca website, I located the following BC Merlots in the $15-$25 range:

8th Generation Merlot 750ml Merlot $23.99
Bounty Cellars Merlot 04 750ml Merlot $23.99
Cedar Creek Estate Selection Merlot 750ml Merlot $20.99
Cedar Creek Merlot 750ml Merlot $19.99
Copper Moon Moonlight Harvest Merlot 1.5L Merlot $17.29
Crowsnest Vineyards Barcello Canyon Merlot 750ml Merlot $22.99
Fairmont Mission Hill Select Merlot 750 mL Merlot $15.99
Gray Monk Merlot 750 mL Merlot $17.99
Hawthorne Mtn Merlot 750 mL Merlot $16.99
Hester Creek Proprietor’s Reserve Merlot 750 mL Merlot $20.99
Hillside Estate Merlot 750 mL Merlot $23.99
Inniskillin Merlot 750 mL Merlot $16.99
J-Triggs Proprietors Select Merlot 1.5L Merlot $17.99
J-Triggs Ps White Merlot 1.5L Merlot $16.99
Kettle Valley Merlot 375ml Merlot $15.99
Little Straw Merlot 750ml Merlot $20.99
Mission Hill 2000 Reserve Merlot 750 mL Merlot $25.00
Mission Hill 2001 Reserve Merlot 750 mL Merlot $18.99
Mission Hill 2004 Reserve Merlot 750 mL Merlot $24.99
Mission Hill Five Vineyards Merlot 750 mL Merlot $17.99
Mission Ridge Merlot 1.5L Merlot $17.99
Monster Merlot 750 ml Merlot $23.99
Monster Vineyards Merlot 2007 750 ml Merlot $24.99
Monster Vineyards Merlot 2008 750 ml Merlot $24.99
Nk’Mip Cellars Merlot 750ml Merlot $19.99
Noble Ridge Winery Stony Knoll Merlot 750 mL Merlot $16.99
Painted Turtle Merlot 1.5L Merlot $16.99
Paradise Ranch 2003 Late Harvest Merlot 375 ml Merlot $16.99
Peller Priv Reserve Merlot 750ml Merlot $19.99
Peller Proprietor’s Reserve Merlot 1.5L Merlot $16.49
Perseus Winery & Vineyards Synergy Merlot 750 mL Merlot $22.99
Quails’ Gate Merlot 750ml Merlot $24.99
Red Rooster Chardonnay 750 mL Merlot $16.99
Red Rooster Merlot 750 mL Merlot $18.99
Road 13 VIneyards Honest John’s Red 750 mL Merlot $21.99
Road 13 Vineyards Honest John’s Red 750 mL Merlot $18.99
Road 13 Vineyards Merlot 750 mL Merlot $23.99
Sandhill Merlot 750ml Merlot $19.99
Saturna Island Merlot 750 mL Merlot $24.99
Saturna Winery Vintner’s Select Merlot 750ml Merlot $21.99
Soaring Eagle Merlot Rose 750ml Merlot $22.99
Sonora Ranch Merlot 1.5 L Merlot $15.99
Stag’s Hollow Merlot 750 ml Merlot $24.99
Sumac Ridge Black Sage Vineyard Merlot 750ml Merlot $19.99
Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Merlot 750ml Merlot $15.99
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Merlot 750 mL Merlot $19.99
Tinhorn Creek Vineyrads Oldfield’s Collection Merlot 750ml Merlot $24.99
Township 7 Merlot 750ml Merlot $24.99
Young & Wyse Merlot 750mL Merlot $24.99

Merlot is a popular grape in the BC Okanagan, according to the last factsheet put out by the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.  Some BC Merlot that I’ve enjoyed:

Lulu Island Winery Merlot 2008: Deep purple colour. Oak, vanilla, black plum aromas. Medium body, smooth, plum and cherry fruit flavours.  Medium tannins.
Stonehill Estate Winery Merlot 2006: Earthy,herbal and dark fruit aromas.  Plums and spice on the palate.  Soft tannins.
Poplar Grove Merlot 2005: Double Gold @ Canadian Wine Awards. Light garnet in colour. Cherry, cassis and leather nose.  Big cherry flavour with some vanilla.  Medium tannin and length.
Township 7 Merlot 2006: Medium garnet colour. Plum, black cherry, capsicum and vanilla on the nose.  Medium body with cherry and light milk chocolate flavour. ( I really like this one.  Tried it last July 2010.)
Neck of the Woods Merlot 2006: Medium garnet.  Red cherry, cloves and vanilla aromas.  Medium body.  Full cherry flavour with vanilla and slight spice.  Firm tannins.

Hope you get a chance to get outdoors these next few days and enjoy the summer before it’s gone. And enjoy it with a bottle of Merlot. Cheers.

MASI Tupungato Passo Doble 2007

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} catch(err) {}I was intrigued when I first heard of this wine for a few reasons. First it is by the large Italian winery MASI. Second it uses Corvina, an Italian grape, not common in Argentina. Third it uses the process of drying the Corvina grapes (concentrating the juice and sugars) and then fermenting them with the Malbec grapes (a double fermentation). Fourth, Passo Doble is a very macho bullfighting dance from Spain, so I was expecting this to be a very macho wine.

For those that have not heard of, or tried wines from MASI, here is a bit of info. The Boscaini family have been the owners of the Masi vineyards for six generations, starting in the 18th century. They started in the Venetian region and expanded to the Tuscany region. They then crossed contients and started a winery in Argentina. Most people probably know Masi for their Amarone wines, especially COSTASERA AMARONE CLASSICO. This wine is made of a mix of three grapes, Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara, which are dried on straw or bamboo mats before fermenting. You can expect from this wine to be dark red, and have a bouquet of baked fruit, plums and cherries, and a follow through of these flavours on the palate along with coffee and cocoa. Enjoy it with a hearty Italian pasta or meat dish.

And some info about the two grape varieties. Malbec is a grape used in Bordeaux, but never reached prominent status as it needs lots of heat to mature, and Bordeaux did not get hot enough, often enough. But Argentina, and in particular Mendoza, does have nice hot weather so that Malbec can fully ripen. The Malbec grape was brought from France to Argentina in the mid 1900s. It is now the signature RED grape of Argentina. The wines from this grape are typically deep purple in the glass, with plum and other dark fruit flavours and aromas. Sometimes some chocolate notes too.

The Corvina grape comes from the northeast part of Italy and is one of three grapes that go into Valpolicella. The grape has high acidity and sour cherry flavour and produces a light-medium bodied wine on it’s own.

So how was the MASI Tupungato Passo Doble 2007 from Argentina? It was a bright purple in the glass. The purple to me coming from the Malbec grape. It had a very smoky, rustic aroma, but behind that was cherry, leather, menthol and cinnamon. On the palate, there was smoke, chocolate, sour cherry, some spice and a green herbal edge. There was not much tannins. It was a bit hot but had a slightly sweet finish, which could be a result of the dried Corvina grapes. There was also a fair bit of acidity which would have been from the Corvina grapes. I’d rate this wine in the interesting category. I’d suggest enjoying this wine with food, and not drinking it on it’s own. You need some food to be a foil for the high acid in this wine.

The price in the BCLDB is regular $15.99 but right now is discounted to $14.99 (save $1).
Corvina Grapes on Foodista

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!

2009 French Wines Expo Tour

2009 French Wines Expo Tour
April 16, 2009 07:52:29

The French have been coming to Vancouver quite regularly recently. Last week I had the pleasure of trying wines from across France at a Trade Only event. There was red and white from Bordeaux, Sauternes, Languedoc, Rhone, organic wines, and more. I also was able to taste a new red grape called Negrette, which I am told is originally from Cyprus, but happy to grow in France. The Negrette grape has lots of sweet bon bon aroma, and bon bon / red crisp apple flavour. I tried the Vin de Pays Comte Tolosan Terreo Negrette 2008. It’s always nice to try something different. Many French wine makers are paying attention to the New World wineries that produce wines that are approachable and drinkable now. Several wines were available to try in this category such as the Esprit du Sud AOC Languedoc 2007, made from Syrah and Grenache.