Free Wines of Argentina Featured in October at BC Liquor Stores

Argentina has been producing high quality Malbecs, which we are all familiar with, but there is more to Argentina than Malbec.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda, Torrontes, Carmenere and even Riesling are being produced.  Time to try these other wines, in addition to Malbec.  Your chance to try some Argentine wines for free, is through the BC Liquor Stores in October.  The dates and announcement are below.  In addition, you have a chance to wine a prize package to Victoria’s Oak Bay Beach Hotel.  Enjoy!

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September 18, 2012 (Vancouver, BC) –Get ready to celebrate the wines of Argentina!  This October the BCLDB will host three FREE wine and food consumer events at BC Liquor Stores.  Each of the “Argentine Treasures” tastings will feature a different selection of quality wines paired with empanadas from Panaderia Latina Bakery.  In conjunction with this promotion, Wines of Argentina will also hold a draw for a luxurious prize package featuring Victoria’s Oak Bay Beach Hotel.

Argentina is one of the hottest categories on BC shelves, and the free tastings are a great way to become familiar with the amazing diversity of excellent wines produced by the South American country.

As part of the month-long celebration, Wines of Argentina is giving away a deluxe prize package including the following:

  • 2 nights’ accommodation for two in a Panoramic Ocean View Boutique Suite at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel
  • Boathouse Spa & Baths – hour-long Classic Massage (one per person)
  • Access to the Seaside Therapeutic Mineral Baths, Steam Room & Fitness Centre
  • Complimentary Valet Parking

This prize package is valued at $1,150.  You can enter online at www.winesofargentina.ca

 

Argentine Treasures Free Consumer Tastings

Saturday, October 6
Cambie Signature Store, Vancouver
2:00-6:00pm

Thursday, October 11
Alberni & Bute Signature Store, Vancouver
3:00-7:00pm

 

Friday, October 12
Park Royal Signature Store, West Vancouver
3:00-7:00pm

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About Wines of Argentina: Wines of Argentina is responsible for the promotion of the brand VINO ARGENTINO around the world. Since 1993, this organization has been promoting the image of local wines abroad and providing advice on export strategies for Argentina by studying and analyzing trends in consumer markets. Its aim is to contribute to the consolidation of Argentina as one of the main wine exporting countries in the world and to the global success of the Argentine wine industry by enhancing its positive image in the wine trade, among opinion leaders and consumers. www.winesofargentina.ca

 

About the Oak Bay Beach Hotel:  The new Oak Bay Beach Hotel is being completely rebuilt on the same spectacular oceanfront lot where the previous hotel sat for more than 80 years. It will reopen in October 2012 as a 100-room hotel with 20 luxury residences. Built to five-star standards, hotel and residential amenities include seaside mineral pools, a fitness centre, Boathouse Spa & Baths, The Snug pub, the David Foster Foundation Theatre and a fine-dining restaurant. Not only is this Victoria’s first combination full-service luxury hotel and private residence, but it is also the only commercial waterfront development in Oak Bay. www.oakbaybeachhotel.com

Enjoying the Northern Icon, Southern Gem, Concha y Toro Dinner

Northern Gem Southern Icon - Concha y Toro at Blue Water Cafe

Northern Gem Southern Icon - Concha y Toro at Blue Water Cafe

The largest and most well-known winery from Chile in my opinion is Viña Concha y Toro.  This winery has been recognized by many wine publications and has 15 awards as “Winery of the Year” in Wine & Spirits.  They are also acknowledged as “Second most powerful wine brand in the world” according to The Power 100 survey by Intangible business.  Concha y Toro does not rest on their past, but still strives to produce wines of extraordinary expression of contemporary Chile. One iconic wine in particular is particularly nurtured each vintage, “Don Melchor“, led by top wine maker, Enrique Tirado, to produce this wine.  With great anticipation, as part of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, I arrived at the door of the Blue Water Cafe in Yaletown to sample the carefully crafted and paired coastal cuisine of Executive Chef Frank Pabst with Concha y Toro’s wines.

Leading the tasting is Isabel Guilisasti Gana, the Marketing Director Origin Wines for Concha y Toro and wine maker Tamara Baeremaecker.

Concha y Toro Chardonnay Carmenere and Don Melchor bottles

The Guilisasti family has a long history in Chile and in the wine trade.  Isabel Guilisasti joined Concha y Toro in 2000.  As marketing manager, she is responsible for Concha y Toro’s ultra premium and super premium brands.Tamara joined Concha y Toro in 1998 after receiving her degree in oenology from the Universidad Catolica de Chile. She has worked on many of their premium-brand wines and in 2006 became part of the Don Melchor wine making team.

Our private tasting room at the Blue Water Cafe was laid out as two long table, with each person getting a name card for their particular seat.  It was quite interesting.  Some of the people I sat with were other media, but I also sat with people who were there as they love Chilean wine and Blue Water Cafe.  I had fun chatting with everyone around me.

Our Dinner

Scallop prawn and oyster with Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2009

Our first pairing:

  • Pan seared scallop with fennel basil slaw and kumquat ginger puree, Grilled prawn with garlic and rosemary, mango salsa and avocado, and Smoked Stellar Bayer oyster in brick leaf with white onion grape soubise and toasted hazelnuts. These 3 seafood morsels was paired with Concha y Toro’s Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2009 from the Limari Valley.

I thought the pairing of each seafood, with their own unique flavours and textures, all paired very well with the Chardonnay. The Chardonnay was medium lemon in colour.  A very fruity tropical fruit nose with some vanilla too. Medium plus body with high acidity leaving a prickle on your tongue, but it still had some roundness to it. Full of tropical fruit flavours with vanilla on the finish.  The higher acidity from the wine comes from the cooler coastal Limari Valley.

The scallop was very fresh, seared lightly on the outside and tasted very nice with the citrusy flavour of the kumquat and the fennel flavour of the slaw.  The latin-spiced, grilled prawn with the mango salsa and avocado were nicely complemented by the tropical fruit flavours of the Chardonnay.

White sturgeon with Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere 2009

Our second pairing:

  • Farmed white Sechelt sturgeon with beluga lentils and Berkshire pork cheeks with a mild Madras curry tomato sauce. This was paired with the Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere Peumo vineyard 2009 from the Rapel Valley.

The Carmenere was deep ruby in the glass with a bright rim. Dark fruit, vanilla and very slight capsicum aromas. Very ripe plums, quite spicy with black pepper on the palate. Round and full bodied up front and then lightens up mid-palate.

The sturgeon was soft with fine texture.  The lentils added an earthiness to the dish and the light curry tied the two elements together.  The curry flavour also made a red berry flavour come out of the Carmenere.  Another great pairing.

Bison Churrasco with Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Our third pairing:

  • Marinated bison flat iron steak, grilled and served with cassava root gnocchi, sauteed salsify, eggplant caviar with oregano, and chimichurri sauce.  Our pairing was the Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Puente Alto-Maipo Valley.

This was the youngest Don Melchor in our mini-vertical that Concha y Toro provided to us.  Don Melchor, Chile’s first ultra-premium wine is the only one with 21 vintages to its credit that are prize winning and known by wine critic around the world.  Don Melchor is produced from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape from the Puente Alto vineyard in the Alto Maipo Valley near Santiago.  2008 was a cooler vintage for this wine and it was more restrained than the 2007 vintage.  The 2008 Don Melchor was opaque ruby.  Light red cherries, some stemminess and cassis aromas.   Full body.  Very spicy mid palate with ripe plums and cherry flavours.  Dry with some minerality.  As this wine breathed in the glass the cassis flavour became more prominent. Still a young, tight wine, but one that you could enjoy now, or in another 10 or 20 years.

The Bison Churrasco was a wow dish for me.  It was soft, medium rare.  The Chimichurri sauce with olive oil, parsley, cilantro, salt, and garlic flavours really enhanced the bison flavour.  Red wine loves protein and this held true for the Don Melchor and the bison.  In addition the chimichurri sauce I think helped to tone down the spiciness of the wine.

Wagyu beef shortrib with Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 and 1995

Our fourth pairing:

  • Wagyu beef shortrib braised with merken spice and espresso, sauteed portobello mushroom whipped potatoes, green beans, and braising juices reduced with tamarind. To this we had 2 Don Melchor wines.  A 2007 and a 1995 vintage.

The Don Melchor 2007 came from a warmer vintage than the 2008 vintage and you could smell and taste the more opulence of this wine.  It had lots of plum, vanilla and capsicum on the nose.  Very silky mouthfeel.  Peppery round and dry on the palate, with black cherries cassis and oak flavours, and vanilla on the finish.  A very nice wine.

The Don Melchor 1995 is now 17 years old.  You would expect the colour and fruit flavours to have diminished, which they have to some extent.  The wine has changed to a medium plus garnet colour with very slight bricking on the rim. The aromas are more complex with capsicum, chocolate and dark fruit aromas.  Soft, medium body in your mouth.  Pencil leads and dark fruit flavour with higher acidity.  A very balanced, complex wine.

If you have never had Wagyu beef, you should try it.  It is so soft and so buttery rich.  The shortrib was cooked to perfection wit the beef falling apart easily.  I think the Wagyu beef with the big braised flavours with the espresso needed a full bodied wine, and the 2007 Don Melchor fit the bill.  The fruit from this wine paired with the strong flavours of the beef.  The 1995 Don Melchor to me is not as fruity, with more complex aromas and flavours.  It was not quite as good to me with the Wagyu beef, but I would have loved a plate of cheeses to try with it and savour them both together.

Kalamansi honey cheese cake with Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Our fifth (and last) pairing:

  • Kalamansi honey cheese cake with papaya and strawberry salsa.  Paired with Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from the Maule Valley.

The Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2008 was pear skin in colour.  Honey and peach aromas.  Medium body with honey, spice, peaches, apples and flowers flavours. Medium sweetness.  I think this wine paired nicely with the Kalamansi citrus from the cheese cake and the peachy fruit from the wine.

Blue Water Cafe and Don Melchor

If you have never been to Blue Water Cafe, I hope this review of the food and wine pairing convinces you to enjoy a lunch or dinner with them.  Executive Chef Frank Pabst is recognized for his creative flair and his dedication towards responsible seafood practices.  He has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants throughout Germany and France.  In 2010 he was recognized by Vancouver Magazine as “Chef of the Year” and inducted into the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame.  Quite an achievement.

Here is a web link if you would like to find more information about Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor wine,

I really enjoyed this dinner.  All the food and wine were paired wonderfully by the Blue Water Cafe.  I look forward to the next time I sit down and enjoy dinner with friends there.

Its Official – The Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival is On!

Harry Hertscheg speaks to Media.

This afternoon was the official kick off of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. Our emcee was Mr. Harry Hertscheg, the Playhouse Wine Fest’s manager. He very eloquently introduced we in the media to this year’s event, with Chile as the host country, and Cabernet as our global grape focus.

Range of Red Wines from the Playhouse Wine Festival

At JOEY‘s downtown, we nibbled on a variety of latin-inspired appetizers and sipped a variety of wines from around the world, that will be poured during the Wine Festival.  Two of the wines were from Chile; a Leyda Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and an Errazuriz Carmenere (That’s Chile’s signature red grape by the way!).  I really liked the Sauvignon Blanc.  Leyda Valley is a very cool climate region south of the Casablanca Valley and close to the Chilean coastline.  The Errazuriz Carmenere also is also a nice example of the wine produced by the Carmenere grape.  Soft in the mouth, fruity with capsicum on the nose.

So from now till Sunday there are dinners, seminars, and of course the big International Festival Tasting room.  There are still some tickets available to various events.  Here is the link to tickets for you.

Where can you find me during the wine festival?

  • You’ll Tell Two Friends…: Social Media Symposium
  • Northern Gem, Southern Icon (Concha y Toro winery at Blue Water Cafe)
  • Food & Wine in Balance (Be a food & wine pairing expert)
  • Speaking Frankly about Franc (Learn about Cabernet Franc)

Keep checking into my blog as I will be posting as I attend these events, and sending tweets from my twitter account @mywinepal.

Interested in Going to Chile to try Wine?

I have arranged a 10 day wine and food tour of Chile and Argentina.  The tour will start May 23 and finish on June 1, 2012.  Starting in Santiago we will visit several wineries around Santiago and further south in the premium Colchagua Valley, then cross the Andes and visit several wineries in Mendoza, Argentina, and end up in Buenos Aries, experiencing the city, taking in a tango show, and more.  Here are the details of the wine tour for you.  I am keeping this tour small so that we all get personal attention from the restaurants and wineries we will visit.  Register soon before all the seats have been reserved.

The Chileans are Coming! Preview Notes for You

Flag of Chile

Every year we look forward to our pinnacle wine event, the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.  Next year’s event will be Feb. 27 – March 4, 2012.  What does this have to do with Chile?  Chile is the theme country for the Festival!

A group of Media, myself included, were invited to a preview of the Chilean wines we can expect to see at the Festival, plus give us some background into this long, thin country.

My Experience in Chile

Karl aka MyWinePal at Casa Lapostolle

Two years ago I travelled down to Chile and visited wineries from the Aconcagua, Maipo, Casablanca, and Colchagua Valleys.  Some of the wineries were Casa Lapostolle, Montgras, Montes, Errazuriz, and Casas del Bosque.   I was impressed with how much the wineries cared for their vineyards and the production of their wines.  One of the nice thing with Chile, is that it is dry due to it’s location on the west coast of South America, and the Andes Mountains on it’s eastern border.  The dry climate, plus topography, and soil factors have made the area a great place to grow grapes.  There is very little, or no, phylloxera louse to attack the grape vines, plus the dryness keeps fungus and mold at bay.  So less pesticides and/or herbicides are needed here.  Many of the wineries in Chile indicate that they are organic or follow organic principles.

Chile’s Natural Advantage

Chile is a wine maker’s paradise.  They get 3 weeks more ripening time than in Bordeaux and 300 + days of sunshine each year.   The cool air from the Andes cools the grapes in the evening so that the grapes mature slowly so that they reach full phenolic ripeness; lots of ripe fruit and a good backbone of acidity. The adjacency to the coast, and the cool Humbolt Current helps produce coastal fog which cools the grapes near the coast, such as from the Casablanca Valley and San Antonio Valley.

What Grapes Grow in Chile?

There is a wide range of red and white grapes grown in Chile.  The top 5 red grapes in order of volume are:

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. Merlot
  3. Carmenere
  4. Syrah
  5. Pinot Noir

Montes M, Folly and Purple Angel wines

Cabernet is King is Chile.  With the 300+ days of sunshine, the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes produce very full-bodied, ripe, supple wines.  Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor is one of the top quality wines for this grape.  Merlot and Carmenere come in, in 2nd and 3rd place.  Yet they were thought of both being Merlot for many years.  The grapes were planted together in the same vineyard and the grapes and leaves of both vines look very similar.  It was only fairly recently that the Carmenere grape was identified (it’s a Bordeaux grape btw), and has become a signature grape for Chile. A second signature red grape is coming through the ranks, and that is the Syrah grape.  I think people started to recognize Syrah’s potential in Chile, with Aurelio Montes‘ plantings in the Apalta Region of the Colchagua Valley.  There he produces an ultra premium Montes Folly wine from Syrah.

For white grapes, the top 5 varieties are:

  1. Sauvignon Blanc
  2. Chardonnay
  3. Moscatel of Alexandria
  4. Riesling
  5. Viognier

Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc and Reserva Chardonnay

Most people probably think of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay when they think of white wines from Chile.  Probably also the Casablanca Valley, where a lot of very good Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are produced. An upcoming region for Sauvignon Blanc is slightly south of the Casablanca Valley and much closer to the coast is the Leyda Valley.  While the Sauvignon Blanc wine from the Casablanca Valley can be more tropical fruit, from the Leyda Valley, expect more citrus and herbal aromas and flavours.  Have you ever heard of Moscatel of Alexandria?  You might not have, but you probably have tried some Chilean Pisco.  Pisco is produced from the Moscatel grape.  Riesling and Viognier and two grapes with great potential.  I don’t think a particular region is well-known enough for these grapes, but I would hazard to guess that the Riesling grape would be very good in the Casablanca and San Antonio Valleys while Viognier would shine in the more inland, warmer regions, like Aconcagua, Maipo and Colchagua Valleys.

Wines We Tasted at the Media Preview

Montgras Santa Carolina and Undurraga Sauvignon Blancs

We enjoyed 3 Sauvignon Blancs and a range of single varietals and red blends.  The three Sauvignon Blancs:

  • Montgras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Leyda Valley). Light straw colour with a green tinge. Gooseberry and sweet honey nose. Light body with medium plus acidity.  Gooseberry and citrus flavours.  Medium length. My favorite of the these 3 wines.
  •  Vina Santa Carolina Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Leyda Valley). Light lemon colour with herbal, asparagus and mint on the nose.  Round mouth feel with light body. Herbal, citrus and green apple fruit flavours with some minerality on the palate.  Quite sour on the finish.
  • Undurraga Terroir Hunter Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Leyda Valley). 2008 was a later harvest than the other years, resulting in riper more tropical fruit flavours.  This wine was light lemon/green in colour.  Tropical fruit, lees and oak on the nose.  Light body,  round mouth feel but also has a good backbone of acidity. Oaky, smoky, citrus flavours.  Long length.

Wide range of Chilean red wines

Our red wines included single varietal Pinot Noir, Carmenere, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and blends.  The wines are:

  • Cono Sur Ocio Pinot Noir 2009 (Casablanca Valley). Medium ruby, Vanilla and cherry aromas. Medium body, dry, but full fruit, cherry flavours.  Vanilla in the back ground and some spiciness and raspberry leaf.  Slightly sweet cherry finish.
  • Emiliana Vineyards COYAM 2007 (Colchagua Valley). This is a biodynamic wine, which goes beyond organic wine making principles. Opaque garnet in the glass with ripe black fruit, vanilla, dark chocolate and cherrie aromas.  Full body, very round, with milk chocolate and ripe cherry flavours.  Some spice, raspberry leaf and vanilla on the finish.  A very high quality, balanced wine. You can read about biodynamic wines at this link.
  • Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carmenere Syrah 2008 (Maule Valley). This blend is 75% Carmenere and 25% Syrah.  Deep ruby colour.  Meaty sausage and ripe cherry aromas. Full body, round with minerality.  Cherries, blueberries and vanilla flavours.   Medium plus acidity gives this wine bright flavours.
  • Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere 2009 (Apalta Valley).  Some dustiness on the nose, along with ripe cherries, capsicum and vanilla.  Medium minus body with high acidity and soft tannins.  Dark chocolate and cherry flavours with a mineral streak running through the wine. Not mouth filling but very pleasant sensation in your mouth.
  • Vina Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Carmenere 2010 (Colchagua Valley). The nose on this wine was a little closed, but I did get some nutmeg and cherry aromas. But on the palate, nutmeg, cedar and dark fruit flavours jump out.  Round mouth feel, dry with some spiciness.
  • Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Maipo Valley). Deep garnet in colour with cedar and ripe fruit aromas. Full body, rich feeling ,with  ripe dark fruit flavours and vanilla.  Dry with soft tannins and cedar on the finish.  This is a real good value wine at $19.99 a bottle. Also try their Medalla Real Pinot Noir!
  • Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Maipo Valley). This wine I think is starting to show it’s age as there is a slightly brownish tinge to an otherwise garnet colour in the glass. Some dark fruit on the nose.  Medium body, light mouth feel, with juicy black fruit flavour.  An elegant wine.
  • Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet 2009 (Maipo Valley). Deep dark core with a ruby rim in the glass. Vanilla, dark fruit and oak/cedar aromas. Full body, round mouth feel with soft tannins.  Light vanilla with some mintiness.
  • Vina Chocalan Gran Reserva Blend 2009 (Maipo Valley). This is a blend of 6 grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere, Petit Verdot, and Syrah.  Opaque garnet in the glass. Nice cedar, allspice and vanilla on the nose. Very round in your mouth with soft tannins. Allspice, cedar and ripe black fruit flavours.  Nice texture.  A favorite wine of many of the media I spoke with.

If these wines have enticed you, you may want to buy advance tickets to the Playhouse Wine Festival.  Here is my link to the tickets.  Enjoy and Salud!

Salud Chile – Advance Tickets to Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival

Have you been thinking about what to buy for someone who has everything for Christmas? or something for yourself?  How about some advance tickets to the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival?

Tickets just went on sale this week.  The advance tickets are LIMITED, so buy them quickly before they are sold out.   Chile is the theme country for the wine festival.  I’ve been to Chile and visited many wineries and I can tell you that they produce fantastic wines and that I’m really looking forward to seeing the wineries here in Vancouver.  Come try some rising stars: Syrah and Carmenere, along with their well-known Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Here is the announcement from the Festival.

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Salud Chile Pack –  3 Events for $219

 

Buy tickets 604-873-3311
Toll Free: 1-877-321-3121
In Person at: 601 Hamilton Street: Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Box Office
 
Advance pack price $219 (includes HST and ticket service charges)
The Salud Chile Pack is available by phone or in person only.The Salud Chile Pack includes:

Taste Chile
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
8:00PM to 10:00PM
The Waldorf Hotel

Single Ticket: $55 (Buy Online)

Group Rate (8 or more): $45 (Available only in person and by phone – no web sales)
Kick off the festival with an evening of wine, food and music at the Waldorf Hotel. Let the venue take you back to 1947 while the wines bring you up to speed on what this exciting region has to offer. Despite nearly 500 years of winemaking, Chile’s wine industry is fresh, young, and boldly evolving to meet the needs of today’s consumers. Chilean styled canapés will pair wonderfully with the exceptional wines from more than 20 wineries while the beats of resident DJ El Garzita will set the mood. Celebrate Chile
Saturday, March 3rd, 2012
12:30PM to 2:30PM
Vancouver Convention Centre West
Single Ticket: $99 (Buy Online)  
Group Rate (8 or more): $90  (Available only in person and by phone – no web sales) 
Wines of Chile has tasked VCC Executive Chef Blair Rasmussen with the seemingly impossible task of creating a Chilean themed menu to pair with more than 70 Chilean wines. Chef Rasmussen will no doubt rise to the challenge and create some amazing synergies between our own Pacific Northwest cuisine and the wonderful flavours of Chilean dishes. Your challenge will be to try and figure out which wine and food pairing you love most!

Also included in the price of the Salud Chile Theme Region Pack is an evening session in either the Thursday, Friday or Saturday International Festival Tasting.

International Festival Tasting
Thursday, Friday or Saturday (March 1 to March 3, 2012)
7:00PM to 10:00PM
Vancouver Convention Centre West


Gold Pass – $425 
Thurs – Sat, March 1 – March 3, 2012
VCC West
1055 Canada Place, Vancouver, BC
Various Times
Advance: $425 (Regular: $460)
Buy tickets 604-873-3311
Toll Free: 1-877-321-3121
In Person at: 601 Hamilton Street: Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Box Office

The Gold Pass is available by phone or in person only (no web sales).Enjoy the red carpet treatment with our Gold Pass. A terrific value, this pass offers incomparable access to the Festival.
* Three evenings (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) in the International Festival Tasting Room (a $285 value) 7:00pm to 10:00pm
* Two afternoons (Thursday and Friday) at the exclusive Trade Tasting sessions in the International Festival Tasting Room (a $80 value) 2:30pm to 5:00pm
* Admission to the Curtain Raiser VIP reception on Thursday from 6:00-7:00 pm (not available for public sale).
*Admission to the Gold Pass Tasting Lounge on Friday and Saturday from 5:30-9:00 pm, featuring:
– A selection of premium wines from the Tasting Room and special events
– Enjoy a selection of canapés and cheeses
($190 value)
* Priority access to the Tasting Room – no line-ups!

International Festival Tasting

Thursday March 1, 2012 / Friday March 2, 2012 / Saturday March 3, 2012
VCC West
1055 Canada Place, Vancouver, BC
7:00pm – 10:00pm
 
Buy tickets 604-873-3311
Toll Free: 1-877-321-3121
In Person at: 601 Hamilton Street: Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Box Office
International Festival Tasting Tickets are available Online

The Tasting Room offers a unique opportunity to taste rare bottles and discover new treasures as you visit with renowned winery principals from around the globe. At each booth you will find a winery principal, identified by his or her royal blue lanyard. This person is a senior member of the winery, intimately involved in the wine-producing process as a winemaker, proprietor or senior executive. Nowhere else in the world will you find a gathering of these talented men and women pouring wine and answering questions under one roof. Take the opportunity to ask questions and learn from the experts about your favourite wine.


Thursday night’s capacity is guaranteed to be 25 percent lower than the other two evenings, attracting wine collectors and trade professionals who appreciate more room to interact with the winery principals.
 
Friday is great for groups and the after-work crowd looking to kick off the weekend in style.

Saturday night is perfect for couples and friends wanting to spend a night on the town.

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.

Enjoy Chilean Wine at the BC Hospitality Foundation Dish & Dazzle

On Friday, June 17, 2011, you will be able to sample some fantastic wines from Chile, and help support the BC Hospitality Foundation’s Dish & Dazzle. What is the BC Hospitality Foundation?  The Foundation was formed in 2006 to help wine agent Michael J. Willingham pay for a costly surgery and subsequent rehabilitation following a stroke. Michael’s situation highlighted the need to establish a trust fund that could be used as a last-resort safety net for other industry members in need – who may or may not have benefits, be covered by employment insurance, or require assistance beyond traditional medical benefits. The Foundation benefits will cover people in the industry – food suppliers, hoteliers, media, publicists, retailers, vintners and wine sales representatives (from BCHR website).

The Dish & Dazzle is one of their fundraising efforts. The location will be the fabulous Fairmont Pacific Rim in downtown Vancouver. The schedule will include :

  • wines from 25 Chilean wineries with each pouring up to five different wines at their table,
  • four focus stations highlighting Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Carmenere & organic wine
  • food from 12 fine restaurants,
  • an exciting “sour” themed cocktail competition,
  • live entertainment and
  • silent auction

Dish n’Dazzle, will be a showcase for Vancouver’s dynamic hospitality industry. Restaurants, wineries and premium liquors will be featured in the main “tasting room” and guests will move from station to station in an interactive, informal setting.

If you have never tasted Carmenere wine before, this would be a good introduction.  Carmenere is a “forgotten” grape, originally from Bordeaux, France, but loves the climate of Chile and has become Chile’s signature red grape!  It has been mistaken in the past in Chile for Merlot.  Carmenere is dark red in colour with cherries and red fruit flavours, spice and sometimes a bit of green pepper.  The tannins are soft, making this wine easy to drink.  It goes well with BBQ so think about buying some carmenere for summer.  Here are some Carmenere that I have reviewed in the past:

  • Vina Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005 (Chile). Pehuen Carmenere is a premium wine from Vina Santa Rita.  Opaque purple in the glass. Dark fruit nose with a whiff of capsicum. Full bodied but with soft tannins.  Ripe black cherries, vanilla and spice on the palate.  A very long length.  Here is a Carmenere you should try.
  • Vina Errazuriz Max Reserva Carmenere 2007  (Chile). This wine spent 12 months oak aging. 2007 is the first vintage for the vines selected for this wine. It had a deep purple color in the glass. Cassis, smoke, black cherry, and oak on the nose. Black cherries, vanilla and cassis flavours. Smooth tannins. It had a long length, with a spice and red cherry finish. Highly recommended.
  • Montes Alpha Carmenere 2007 (Chile). This wine was deep purple in the glass. Capsicum, back fruit and vanilla aromas. On the palate I tasted red and black cherries, vanilla and a slight hint of capsicum. This wine had a soft, round mouth feel and a long length.
  • Viu Manent Reserva Carmenere 2008 (Chile). Deep purple colour in the glass. Vanilla, black fruits and a slight hint of capsicum on the nose. It was quite round in the mouth, with vanilla and ripe black fruit flavours, and a peppery finish.

In case you didn’t know, the theme country for next year’s Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is Chile, so come out to this event, and get a sneak peek at what you can expect next year, and maybe find a few new favorites for this summer!

Here is the website for tickets for the BC Hospitality Foundation Dish & Dazzle. Enjoy!

Highlights from the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fest – Day 2

The second day from the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is now finished.  A lot of wine again today to taste.  But still probably more than half the wines haven’t yet been tasted.  I did visit many nice wineries and tasted some interesting wines from around the world today.  As I had mentioned in my previous blog article, today I would taste wines from the rest of the world, and then at the end try some Spanish wines I had missed.

Again to keep things brief, here is my 2nd list of recommended wines to try at the #VPIWF.  After the festival is over, I’ll post full tasting notes for these wines and others that I have tried on www.MyWinePal.com. The wines below range from white, red, sparkling, and fortified.

Recommended wines:

  • Babich East Coast Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand)
  • Vina Cobos Bramare Malbec 2008 (Argentina)
  • Decero Malbec, Remolinos Vineyard 2009 (Argentina)
  • Decero Cabernet Sauvignon, Remolinos Vineyard 2008 (Argentina)
  • Graffigna Grand Reserve Torrontes 2010 (Argentina)
  • Graffigna Centenario Reserve Malbec 2009 (Argentina)
  • Vina Santa Rita Medalla Real Pinot Noir 2008 (Chile)
  • Vina Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005 (Chile)
  • Cave de Tain Crozes Hermitage Red Les Hauts du Fief 2007 (France)
  • Cave de Tain Saint Joseph Red Esprit de Granit 2007 (France)
  • Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Gewurztraminer 2007 (France)
  • Pierre Sparr Mambourg Pinot Gris 2008 (France)
  • Schloss Reinhartshausen Prinz VVN Preussen Rielsing Off-Dry 2009 (Germany)
  • Ca’ Del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvee Prestige (Italy)
  • Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand)
  • Man O’War Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (New Zealand)
  • Fonseca Guimaraens 10 Year Tawny Port (Portugal)
  • Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Vanzeller 10-Year-Old Tawny Port (Portugal)
  • Sogrape Vinhos Callabriga Dao Reserva 2005 (Portugal)
  • Sogrape Vinhos Ferreira 20-Year-Old Duque de Braganca (Portugal)
  • Champagne Lallier Rose (France)
  • Joseph Drouhin Chablis Premier Cru 2009 (France)
  • Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2008 (Canada)
  • Juan Gil Monastrell 2010 (Spain)
  • Bodegas Abanico Mencia 2007 (Spain)
  • Bodgeas Abanico Tinta de Toro Eternum Viti 2008 (Spain)
  • Bodegas Abanico Tinta de Toro Los Colmillos 2008 (Spain)
  • Gonzalez Byass Croft, Pale Cream Sherry (Spain)
  • Zuccardi Series A Torrontes 2010 (Argentina)
  • Bodegas San Valero Monte Ducay Cava Brut (Spain)

That is a lot of recommendations, and a lot of wines to try in one day.  There were many more that are also good, but did not make the list.  I wish I had another day or two so that I could try the rest of the wines from the Festival.

Today’s agenda for me is New Zealand Perfect Parings, Good Gracious Grenache seminar, and Cinq a Sept French wines.  Check back tomorrow for a short article on these.  Enjoy the remainder of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, and remember to check out the Vancouver Playhouse and what they have to offer!  Support the arts.

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!

Cavas Submarinas – a unique cellar in Chile

After a long day of wine tasting in Chile, I was flipping through the TV channels and stumbled upon a Spanish speaking channel talking about a winery called Cavas Submarinas. What was interesting is that you order a bottle of Cavas Submarinas wine, and instead of going to the cellar to fetch it, the sommelier puts on a wetsuit, dives into the Pacific ocean, emerges with a bottle, and comes back to your table to open it, dripping wet.

The Cavas Submarinas line consists of a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir Carmenere blend, Carmenere, Syrah, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery sinks containers of bottles along the coastline at specific depths (in SECRET locations), from 10 to 30 meters with the pressure of the ocean and cool temperatures keeping the wine fresh. The wines are aged beneath the waves from six months to a year. The winery asserts that the constant submarine temperature of 8°C, and the unique combination of ocean pressure, luminosity and wave movement gives the wine “…a roundness, a more Champagne-like flavor.”

With this in mind, I wonder if some enterprising winery in Kelowna or Penticton would try the same with Lake Okanagan, or maybe one of the Vancouver Island wineries?

If you can read Spanish, here is the Cavas Submarinas website.

Saludos!