December Wine and Whiskey Special Events at BC Liquor Stores

Make it merry this holiday season by enjoying a glass of your favourite bubbly, wine, spirits, or beer! Here is your inside track to some of BC Liquor Stores’ exciting holiday events! Whether you are picking out the perfect gift, hosting your own party, or simply enjoying the company of family and friends, BC Liquor Stores have something perfect for every occasion.

Share a wonderful experience while learning from our knowledgeable wine and spirits brand ambassadors by checking out our line up of sit down events! Make it a perfect gift and bonding moment with your special someone. Events are free unless otherwise specified. For ticketed events, quantities are limited so get yours now.

DECEMBER

39th & CAMBIE

CELEBRATE AND SHARE THE HOLIDAY SEASON WITH CONO SUR
Saturday, December 2
3:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Taste Cono Sur Bicicleta wines and enjoy a great food pairing experience. Learn how to recreate this at home with friends and family for the holiday season!

DISCOVER THE EXTRAORDINARY WITH GREY GOOSE AND BOMBAY SAPPHIRE
Friday, December 8
3:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Discover the complex and refined taste of Bombay Sapphire and Grey Goose. Carefully crafted gin and premium vodka are perfect for blending during your holiday celebrations!

MASI CAMPOFIORIN 50th anniversary

MASI CAMPOFIORIN 50th anniversary

MASI CAMPOFIORIN 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
Saturday, December 9
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Join us in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Masi Campofiorin as we taste through the history of this iconic Italian wine with Brand Ambassador James Bornn. Classic vintages like 1988, 1997 and 2001 will be tasted alongside the 2014 served from Special Edition Magnums.
Tickets are $30 and may be purchased at any BC Liquor Store location.

DIAGEO SPECIAL RELEASE TASTING
Tuesday, December 12
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Tutored Scotch Whisky tasting with Stuart Brown, Diageo Whisky Consultant. Rare, old and unusual bottlings from famous and closed distilleries – this small, annual series of Special Release Single Malt Scotch Whiskies are limited editions, usually bottled at cask strength. They’re also some of the most sought-after whiskies in the world, though you definitely don’t have to be a collector to marvel at these magnificent, rare malts. Let Stuart Brown, Scotch consultant for Diageo’s preeminent release of the year guide you through some of Scotland’s most exceptional expressions of Scotch whisky.
Tickets are $50 and may be purchased at any BC Liquor Store location.

DOUGLAS LAING REGIONAL MALT COLLECTION
Wednesday, December 13
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Explore the very best single malts from their respective regions, Douglas Laing’s remarkable regional malts deliver the ultimate distillation of Scotland’s malt whisky regions. Taste through the Christmas Big Peat (2017 Edition), the Rock Oyster Sherry and the Scallywag Limited Edition bottlings.
Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at any BC Liquor Store location.

THE MACALLAN RARE CASK — BOTTLE STOPPER EVENT
Thursday, December 14
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Join Macallan Brand Ambassador, Dan Volway, for a unique whisky tasting and food pairing featuring 4 outstanding Macallan whiskies. A gift with purchase of a limited edition Macallan bottle stopper (valued at $60) will be available for guests who purchase a bottle of the Macallan Rare Cask during the event.
Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at any BC Liquor Store location.

GRAND MARNIER TASTING – BOTTLE ENGRAVING WITH PURCHASE
Saturday, December 16
1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Experience the taste of Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, an alchemy of fine aged cognacs and exotic wild oranges, while having the opportunity to engrave your purchased bottle with a personalized message

PARK ROYAL

MASI CAMPOFIORIN 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
Friday, December 8
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Join us in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Masi Campofiorin as we taste through the history of this iconic Italian wine with Brand Ambassador James Bornn. Classic vintages like 1988, 1997 and 2001 will be tasted alongside the 2014 served from Special Edition Magnums.
Tickets are $30 and may be purchased at any BC Liquor Store location.

GRAND MARNIER TASTING – BOTTLE ENGRAVING WITH PURCHASE
Saturday, December 9
1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Experience the taste of Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, an alchemy of fine aged cognacs and exotic wild oranges, while having the opportunity to engrave your purchased bottle with a personalized message

DIAGEO SPECIAL RELEASE TASTING
Wednesday, December 13
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Tutored Scotch Whisky tasting with Stuart Brown, Diageo Whisky Consultant. Rare, old and unusual bottlings from famous and closed distilleries – this small, annual series of Special Release Single Malt Scotch Whiskies are limited editions, usually bottled at cask strength. They’re also some of the most sought-after whiskies in the world, though you definitely don’t have to be a collector to marvel at these magnificent, rare malts. Let Stuart Brown, Scotch consultant for Diageo’s preeminent release of the year guide you through some of Scotland’s most exceptional expressions of Scotch whisky.
Tickets are $50 and may be purchased at any BC Liquor Store location.

SPARKLE AND ICE
Saturday, December 16
1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Celebrate the season with sparkle and ice in this elegant fine wine tasting experience. Specially selected hors d’oeuvres will be available to pair and there will be a live performance by the Armadillo String Quartet.

CELEBRATE AND SHARE THE HOLIDAY SEASON WITH CONO SUR
Saturday, December 23
3:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Taste Cono Sur Bicicleta wines and enjoy a great food pairing experience. Learn how to recreate this at home with friends and family for the holiday season!

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Wines of Chile Presents Dish n’ Dazzle – Get Your Tix

dish n dazzleDish ‘n Dazzle returns! On Thursday, May 30 at the Pan Pacific Hotel (999 Canada Place), The BC Hospitality Foundation  and  Wines of Chile present a spectacular night of food, wine, and cocktails, that is sure to delight and entertain. 19 wineries from across Chile’s diverse wine regions will pair up with food from 12 of Vancouver’s best restaurants and a high-stakes cocktail competition will ensure things stay spirited!   The cocktail competition event will  feature custom cocktails created some by some of the finest mixologists in BC.  Guests will have a chance to taste these new drinks and be on-hand as a winner is announced. A large silent auction and raffle will round out the evening.

Chilean Wineries to Expect

Errazuriz winery in Chile

Errazuriz winery in Chile

The wineries attending will be:

  • Viña Carmen
  • Cono Sur
  • Concha y Toro
  • Viña Maipo
  • Montes
  • Car Men Air (Terraustral)
  • San Pedro
  • Ventisquero
  • Errazuriz
  • Santa Rita
  • Vinedos Emiliana
  • Koyle
  • Terra Andina
  • Santa Carolina
  • Undurraga
  • Casas del Bosque
  • J.Bouchon
  • Viña Falernia
  • Casa Marin

I’ve tasted the wines from most of these wineries, and visited several of them on my trip to Chile, and I can vouch for the quality of the wines you will taste.  You should take a wide range of wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Syrah and more!

If you are interested in reading about my trip to Chile, here are my blog postings:

Where, When and How Much?

Date: Thursday, May 30, 2013
Time: 6:30PM – 9:30PM
Location: Pan Pacific Hotel, 999 Canada Place, Vancouver

Price $77.95 / person includes handling charge.

Sen Bistro – A New Restaurant Opening For Chef Zhang

Upscale interior at Sen Bistro

Upscale interior at Sen Bistro

Sen Bistro on Broadway @ Burrard (1788 W. Broadway), has had a soft opening, but last week, they had their official opening with a Media Dinner kickoff.  I was fortunate to be invited to attend.  Sen Bistro is the sister restaurant to Chef Zhang‘s nearby Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House.  Both feature Northern Chinese cuisine, which is different from the Southern Chinese restaurants that populate the Lower Mainland. I find that the Northern cuisine has more beef and lamb for example, as well as other spices like cumin being used.  Chef Zhang opened Sen Bistro so that he could experiment with the Northern Chinese dishes; fusing food or spices from other parts of the world.  I think all chefs like to experiment and grow.

This evening we also had wine pairings to go with the specific dishes served to us.  Another nod to fusion; east meets west.  In the reception, I enjoyed the cumin spiced lamb cubes.  At first I saw large numbers of dried red chilies and thought that this might be a very spicy dish, but I was quite surprised that it was fairly mild.  Also served was a beef curry spring roll. Our wine pairing was a St. Hubertus Rose from the Okanagan.  Made from Gamay fruit, this rose burst with red fruit and red cherries.  Off dry, it tasted a bit like candy. An OK wine, but may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Salad Trio

Salad trio

Salad trio

There was a Salad Trio, was really nice, with contrasts in flavors and textures.  The celery & dried scallop and the lotus root dishes were tied for my favourite of the three dishes.  The celery was crunchy and I enjoyed the sesame oil taste.  The lotus root dish was very different. Thin slices of lotus root, marinated in a Chinese red vinegar, along with some sweet component.  So you get crunchy, sweet and sour in each bite. Nice. The pairing for this was a Cono Sur Viognier 2011 (Chile).  Cono Sur has been producing some good quality wines for many years.  This Viognier was full bodied, nice and round mouthfeel, with lots of tropical and stone fruit.  Along with the Salad Trio, we were served a Broad Bean & Sherchai Mash.  It looked very similar to guacamole, but different flavour profile. The texture was similar to guacamole, but it was dried, and had a salty and spinach flavour to it.  I had never heard of Sherchai, and was told it was similar to spinach.  I did a quick search on Google but did not see it; perhaps I should head out to Chinatown to investigate!

Broad bean and sherchai mash

Broad bean and sherchai mash

Hot Appetizers

For hot appetizers we samples a Chicken, enoki & shitake mushroom soup, Lormi Xiaomai, and salt & pepper crunchy tofu.  The tofu was fabulous.  If you like dry ribs and beer, the salt & pepper crunchy tofu would be a great replacement.  Nice crunchy outside, spicy from crushed chili pepper, but not too much; just right.  If you have gone for dim sum, you probably have had xiaomai (mixed ground pork and shrimp in a flour wrapper).  The Lormi Xiaomai was stuffed instead with sticky rice. I do like sticky rice in lotus leaf.  This is a bite size version, sans lotus leaf flavour component. The Chicken with enoki & shitake mushroom soup, was calming. The mushrooms added an earthy component to the soup. There were small chopped green vegetables, still with a bit of crunch to them.

Salt and pepper crunchy tofu

Salt and pepper crunchy tofu

Lormi xiaomai

Lormi xiaomai

Chicken with enoki and shitake mushroom soup

Chicken with enoki and shitake mushroom soup

Entree

I think the entrees showed most of the fusion component of the evening.  The dishes were:

  • Flambe salmon
  • Braised pork with pumpkin in soybean paste
  • Double prawns delight
  • Wok-fried vegetables
  • Steamed crepes & buns

Salmon, the patron fish of BC, was served on a hot plate, then flambeed at our table.  The salmon was cooked perfectly, nicely soft in the centre.  I really enjoyed the braised pork with pumpkin.  The pork belly had nice layering of fat and meat and too that the soybean paste had 5 Spice powder seasoning.  The pumpkin slice that accompanied too went well.  Nice and soft, and of course matching with the 5 Spice powder (which has cinnamon and cloves). We paired the entrees with a Lucky Star Pinot Noir 2011 (California).  The acidity in the Pinot Noir cut through the fattiness of the pork belly.  Our table really liked this Pinot Noir.  It had flavours of sour red cherries and a hint of violets.  Light body, dry with low tannins.  The steamed crepes & buns were good to sop up the soybean paste sauce from this dish.

Flambe salmon

Flambe salmon

Braised pork with pumpkin in soybean paste

Braised pork with pumpkin in soybean paste

The double prawns delight featured prawns cooked two ways; one deep fried and coated with a honey mustard sauce, and the other wok fried with a smokey / sweet / chili sauce.  I preferred the latter, but several people at my table also liked the honey mustard version.

Double prawns delight

Double prawns delight

The last dish was the wok-fried vegetables, mainly consisting of thin slices of eggplant, mushrooms, and scallions. It was spiced with ginger and sauteed. Quite tasty.

Wok fried vegetables

Wok fried vegetables

Dessert Duo

There were two desserts.  The first was “pumpkin sticks“, but it was more than just a “poki” style stick that you see at T&T.  To this there was a yellow yam? pudding topped by a purple yam ball coated with dried coconut.  The purple yam ball was a hit. The pudding was also good, not too sweet, but may be bland to some people not familiar with Asian style desserts. The other dish was the blackbean paste Lormi-zhi.  We were presented with what appeared like Japanese mochi balls, that were each in a different colour.  Each one had a different filling.  One was the traditional blackbean paste, while another that I tried had 3 types of chopped nuts (peanut, cashew and almond I think).

Pumpkin sticks dessert

Pumpkin sticks dessert

Blackbean paste Lormi-zhi

Blackbean paste Lormi-zhi

I wish Chef Zhang best of luck in his new endeavor at Sen Bistro.

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!