Latest IVSA Wine Picks – March 2012 Trebbiano and More

I’m a bit tardy with this blog article about the latest Import Vintners and Spirits Association (IVSA) trade tasting, with many other work and non-work events happening at this time. Going back to my notes, I found a few good new wines to the BC marketplace. One thing I noticed was there was more Torrontes and Trebbiano at this trade tasting than at other tastings. This could be in part due to the time of year with the white wines being released.  With that, let’s get into my latest wine picks.

White Wines

  • Callia Alta Torrontes 2011

    Callia Alta Torrontes 2011, Argentina (spec $13.95). Medium lemony green in colour.  Very fruity, tropical fruit and flowers on the nose. Medium body with tropical fruit, citrus and oranges in particular flavours.  Nice acidity and some spiciness.  Dry with medium plus length.  This is more complex than most Torrontes.

  • Zenato Lugara DOC San Benedetto Trebbiano, Italy. Pale lemon in the glass.  Nice nose with citrus, apples and a hint of oranges. Light body with citrus and slight sweet spice / nutmeg flavour. Dry. Very nice.
  • Thelema Mountain Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2010, South Africa. Thelema is a quality producer from South Africa.  This wine had a wow nose.  Lots of gooseberries.  High acidity with green bean, gooseberry and grapefruit peel flavours.  Some spiciness on the mid-palate.  Short length (wish it was a bit longer).
  • Vouvrey Grandes Caves Saint Roch – Demi Sec 2010, France.  This was my overall favourite wine of the tasting.  It is a Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley. Delicate light crab apple and citrus aromas. Medium minus body mouthfeel yet acts like it is a bigger wine.  Apples and citrus flavours.  Quite round with a good acidic backbone.
  • Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2007, New Zealand. Medium lemon colour. Citrus and tropical fruit on the nose with a touch of oak.  Medium minus body, mineral, citrus, and apple flavours.  Dry with medium acidity. Medium length with a waxy finish.  An interesting wine.
  • Kiwi Walk Sauvignon Blanc 2011, New Zealand. Pale lemony green in the glass.  Lots of herbal and cut green grass on the nose.  High acidity on the palate with lots of gooseberry flavour and some jalapeno pepper flavour mid palate.
  • Domaine des Baumard Clos du Papillon 2008, France. Another Chenin Blanc from the Loire. Deeper golden colour. Nutty, peachy nose. Medium body, round with medium acidity.  Peach pit, citrus and some spice on the palate.  Very interesting.

Red Wines

  • Cameron Hughes Lot 300 Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

    Cameron Hughes Lot 300 Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Napa Valley. Medium translucent ruby colour.  Nice ripe berry nose.  Elegant and not overpowering. Lighter body with cassis and dark fruit flavours.  High acidity, low tannins and long length.  A quality wine.

  • Gorcleyant Malbec 2010, France. Medium ruby colour. Nice bright red fruit nose.  Lighter bodied, soft tannins and juicy red fruit flavour.  A hint of vanilla and spice too.
  • Masi Modello Rosso 2010, Italy. Light ruby colour.  Nice nose with closes and red fruits.  Light body, dry, with soft tannins. Red fruit, oak and cloves on the palate. Good price $12.99.

Sparkling and Fortified Wines

  • Niepoort LBV 2005, Portugal. This is a Late Bottled Vintage port.  This one is medium ruby in colour.  Light aromas of cherries and apples.  Light body, medium sweetness, but quite spicy on the palate.  Flavours of plums, dark cherries and some vanilla.
  • Zinck Cremant Brut D’Alsace, France. Light straw colour with small light bubbles. Nice aromas of red delicious apples and some lees.  Light body, high acidity, with more red delicious apples on the palate.  Dry.  Tasty.
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Caviar and Champagne for New Years Eve?

Last year I made this original post and thought that it would be of interest to you for this upcoming New Years eve.  I’ve added some additional text and champagnes for you.  Hopefully you will be able to find these more recent sparkling wines.

I recently watched The Social Network and thought if I was Mark Zuckerberg, what could I have for New Years eve with my friends?

I think the ultimate indulgence would be sturgeon caviar from the Caspian Sea and vintage French champagne. The four most prized caviar are the Beluga, Osetra, Sevruga, and Sterlet. I did a quick check on the internet and saw that the price for Osetra caviar is around US$500 for 2 oz.  2 oz of Sevruga caviar is US$400.  2 oz of Beluga caviar is US$350.

How to Serve Caviar?

I’m not a caviar expert, so I checked with www.igourmet.com. This is their recommendation: “To allow the delicate flavor of the caviar to come through, serve the caviar on a plain base, such as the traditional buckwheat blini. Plain crackers, toasted brioche, or challah bread are all perfect substitutes. You can then top with a small dollop of crème fraiche on the blini, then add the caviar. For the purist, just enjoy the caviar by the spoonful will no adornment, pressing the eggs against the roof of your mouth with your tongue until they pop.

On the subject of serving Caviar, never use metal. The delicate nature of Caviar is so fragile that using a metal bowl or spoon will give the caviar an “off” flavor of a metallic tang. In haut cuisine, Caviar should be served in a bowl made of ice with a pearl or bone spoon. If you don’t have the luxury of such serving wear, glass will work fine. If all else fails, use plastic before you ever consider using metal serving ware.”

Fish may shine though with a squirt of lemon, but do not apply acidic liquids to caviar, as this can neutralize any flavor…”

If you cannot afford sturgeon caviar (yet), you can try salmon or trout caviar this New Years eve.  Being in Vancouver, I think salmon caviar should be really easy to find.

Champagne for Caviar

Assuming you have your 2 oz of beluga caviar to share with a friend(s), which champagne to enjoy it with?  Most champagne is non-vintage.  It is a blend of wines from different years, bottled and fermented a second time.  The blending of different vintages allows Champagne houses to design a house style, which people enjoy.  James Bond‘s favorite champagne house is Bollinger.  Some champagne is labelled “Blanc de blanc” and is made solely from Chardonnay grapes.  Other champagne may be labelled “Blanc de noir” and would be made with Pinot Noir and maybe Pinot Meunier.  Blended champagnes are usually a mix of wines from all three grapes varieties.

From what I’ve read about champagne and caviar pairings, the saltier the caviar, the younger and fresher the champagne to pair with it.  The bone dry finish of a champagne can stand up to the complex oily, fishy and salty flavors of caviar.  As a champagne ages, it mellows and brings on it’s own flavours and character, so choose a less salty caviar.

Doing a quick check at www.everythingwine.ca, I came up with the following French champagne:

Armand de Brignac Brut Champagne 750 ml Sparkling $399.99
Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois Brut 1998 750 mL Sparkling $225.99
Bollinger Special Cuvee Champagne 750ml Sparkling $74.99
Champagne Boizel Brut Reserve 750ml Sparkling $91.99
Champagne Salon96/97 Le Mesnil Blanc de Blanc 750ml Sparkling $424.99
Cordon Rouge Brut (Mumm) Champagne 750ml Sparkling $58.99
De Venoge Cordon Bleu Brut Select 200mL Sparkling $21.99
De Venoge Cordon Bleu Brut Select Sparkling 750 mL Sparkling $57.99
Delamotte Blanc de Blanc Champagne 750ml Sparkling $78.99
Delamotte Rose Brut Champagne 750ml Sparkling $86.99
Deutz Brut Classic NV Champagne 750 mL Sparkling $64.99

There are many more. There was 101 sparkling French wines listed from my query. Some are not Champagne from the 101, and could be a cheaper alternative. A Cremant would be something you may want to select.

Some champagne and sparkling wines that I’ve rated last year:

Cuillier Pere et Fils,  Brut Selection (France)  Pinot Noir / Chardonnay  NV.    Fine bubble with green apple and pear aromas. Fine bubble with lemon and pear flavour. This wine was like enjoying a fresh pear. Very tasty!

Moreson  Blanc de Blancs Brut Method  Cap Classic (South Africa)   Chardonnay  NV.    A very fine bubble. Red apple, citrus, light spice and bready flavour. It had a long finish. Nice.

Codorniu Sparkling Brut (Spain) Pinot Noir NV.   Light orangy pink in colour. Light strawberry aroma. Very bracing in your mouth, with strawberry and raspberry flavours.

Villa Rinaldi Rose di Barriciaia 1998 (Italy). This is a Pinot Noir based sparkling wine that has some oak aging. Peachy, orange colour in the glass. Nutty, lemony and creamy / lees on the palate. Very small, fine bubbles.

A few favourite Champagnes and other sparkling wines from this year:

  • Perrier Jouet Grand Brut N/V, France. This is also a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Pale lemon in colour.  Light lees and toast on the nose. Light body with apples and white fruit.  Small bubbles with lower acidity.  I really enjoyed this one in part due to the lower acidity which made this Champagne very easy to drink on its own.
  • Bastianich Flor Prosecco, Italy ($19.99).  A delightful wine with melon and lychee aromas. Off dry, light body, with cinnamon, citrus and peach flavours.  Small bubble.  This is such a fun wine. Start a party with this wine.
  • Champagne de Venoge Cordon Bleu Brut Select NV, France ($62.99). This Champagne is a blend of 2/3 PinotNoir and Pinot Meunier (both red grapes), and 1/3 Chardonnay. Light lemon in colour.  Nice medium toasty nose.  Medium acidity and body.  Citrus, some spice and toasty flavours on the palate.
  • Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvee Brut N/V, New Zealand ($24.99). I was really surprised by this wine.  It won me over with it’s fresh fruit flavours. Light citrus and stone fruit on the nose.  Lots of flavour in your mouth with citrus, lime, kiwi fruit, and herbal flavours. Small bubble with medium acidity.
  • Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Blanc, 2008, California. Light lemon colour.  Vanilla and spice on the nose.  High acid with small bubbles.  Lemons and green apples greet your tongue. A very nice, elegant dry sparkling wine.
  • Roederer Estate L’ermitage 2002. This sparkling wine is made by the famous Roederer Estate Champagne house from France. It is a blend of 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir. Pale lemon in colour.  Toast, lees, and caramel aromas. Tiny bubbles in the glass.  High acidity with lots of citrus flavour and some toastiness on the finish.  Nice.
  • Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose, France ($24.99). This Cremant is produced from the Pinot Noir grape. Watery pink colour. Light strawberry aroma. High in acid with small bubbles.  Dry with apple, cherry and strawberry flavours to tickle your tongue.  Elegant.  Easy to enjoy.

Enjoy and have a prosperous New Year!

can stand up to the complex oily, fishy and salty flavors of caviar

Would You Like Nice Bubble and More for Christmas?

Today is one of my favourite times of the year. The last Import Vintners & Spirits Association (IVSA) trade wine tasting typically has a lot of sparkling wine and other wines to taste in preparation for the Christmas season. I spent half of my time exclusively trying sparkling wines, and the other half of my time on white and red still wines. There was so much sparkling wine, that I could have easily spent my entire time tasting these wines.

As usual, I would like to pass along those wines that were very good in my opinion, so that you can purchase them either at a government or a private liquor store. Some are at a very good price (sub $20).

Recommended sparkling wines:
Pierre Paillard Grand Cru NV Brut (France). A blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. This wine is light peachy pink in colour. Bread and cherry aromas. Light small bubbles with lemon, cherry and apple flavours. Bready, citrus finish. Very nice.

Codorniu Classico Brut NV (Spain) $13.99. Pale lemon in colour. Lemon, yeast and slight petrol aroma. Fine bubble. Off dry with crisp acidity. Lemon and apple flavours. Medium length.

Hungaria Grande Cuvee Brut (Hungary) on sale $12.95 during Dec 2010. This is a very easy drinking sparkling wine from Hungary. Pale lemon in colour. Lychee, crisp apple nose. Light bubble with medium length. Apple and lemon flavours with a herbal finish.

J.G. Carrion Cristalino Cava Rosado Brut (Spain) on sale till Jan 2, 2011, $13.99. A mix of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Trepeat. Pale cherry colour with a light cherry nose. Cherry and raspberry flavours. Small bubble. Dry with a cherry finish.

Perle d’Aurore Cremant de Bourgogne Rose NV (France) $on sale till Feb 27, 2011, $23.95. Light salmon colour in the glass. Strawberry aroma. Strawberry and cherry flavour. Small, aggressive bubble in our mouth. Off dry. Very good.

Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne NV (France) $59.99. Bread and citrus on the nose. Very fine, small bubble. Dry on the palate. Lemon, oak, and almond flavour. Long finish. A very elegant Champagne.

Recommended white wines:
Teira Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley 2009 (California). This is a small production organic wine producer. If you tasted this wine, you would not guess that it is a Sauvignon Blanc. You might guess Pinot Gris. This wine is medium lemon in colour. Peachy, lychee, and flowery aromas. Light to medium body, medium acidity with apple and some herbal flavour. Round mouth feel.

Kooyong Estate Chardonnay 2006 (Australia) $49.99. Light lemon colour. Oak, vanilla, butter and citrus on the nose. Round mouth feel. Apple, citrus and oak flavours. Medium body.

Trefethen Estate Chardonnay 2007 (California) $34.95. Light lemon with a green tinge colour. Light lemon, apple, and flowers on the nose. Round mouth feel with cinnamon flavour up front. Medium body. Apple and lemon flavours. Long length.

Recommended red wines:
Velletri Riserva 2004 (Italy), on sale till Nov 27, 2010, $17.99. This is a red wine from the Sangiovese grape. This may have been my favourite wine of the tasting, and it is at a great price. Medium cherry colour. An interesting nose with pencil leads and red cherries. Medium body, round mouth feel with smooth tannins.

Chanson Pere Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2007 (France) $26.52. Light cherry in colour.  Light strawberry and red cherry aromas.  Strawberry, raspberry, cherry and vanilla flavours.  Light body with low tannins. Very nice.

Chateau de Ferrand St. Emilion Grand Cru AOC 2003 (France) $39.99. This is a red wine from the right bank in Bordeaux.  It is a blend of 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Medium light garnet in colour. Nice vanilla, and red cherry nose.  Medium body with vanilla, ripe red fruit flavours.  The flavour builds in your mouth.  A wonderful wine.

Montresor Capitel della Crosara Appassimento IGT 2006 (Italy) $24.99.  This is a “ripasso” style wine, which is made by reserving wine made during the recent vintage then placing this wine on the pressed grape skins and lees in the vats used for Amarone and allowed to ferment further in contact with those skins, to acquire additional body and flavour. This wine was medium to dark garnet coloured in the glass.  Red cherry and vanilla on the nose.  Lots of fruit flavours on the palate, particularly raspberries and black cherry.  Medium body.

Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red 2006 (California) $19.99.  This is a fun red wine, made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Medium purple colour.  Nice cherry and raspberry nose.  Full body with raspberry and black cherry flavours.  Firm tannins but not overpowering.  Purple fruit and cherry on the finish.

There were many more wines to taste, and I’m sure I could have recommended more.  You may notice that there are no BC wines listed.  The IVSA tasting is for new vintages, and new wines being brought into the BC market.  There are plenty of very good BC wines, but none were being poured at this event.  So please enjoy the wines I’ve listed, but don’t forget BC wines.

BC Pinot Blanc Summer Sips

Some wine industry experts have said that Pinot Blanc could be the signature grape variety here in British Columbia, and I think particularly in the Okanagan. I have tasted many nice BC Pinot Blanc, but I think we also do very nice Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, and should be in the running for signature grape variety.

This grape variety is known for its apple, melon and almond flavours.  It can produce light to medium bodied wines. Usually low acidity, it can be oak aged for additional complexity. In Alsace it is commonly made into a sparkling wine called Cremant d’Alsace. I personally would like to see a BC winery try to make a Cremant with Pinot Blanc. (I think there may be a winery, but I’m not sure at the time of writing this blog article.)

Checking the www.everythingwine.com website, I identified the following BC Pinot Blanc wines in the $15-$25 range:

Blue Mountain Vineyard Pinot Blanc 750 mL Pinot Blanc $21.99
Hester Creek Late Harvest Pinot Blanc 200 mL Pinot Blanc $15.99
Hester Creek Pinot Blanc 750ml Pinot Blanc $16.99
Lake Breeze Pinot Blanc 750 mL Pinot Blanc $19.99
Monster Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 750 ml Pinot Blanc $21.99
Nk’Mip Cellars Pinot Blanc 750ml Pinot Blanc $16.99
Paradise Ranch Late Harvest Pinot Blanc 375 mL Pinot Blanc $24.99
Red Rooster Pinot Blanc 750 mL Pinot Blanc $16.99
Starling Lane Pinot Blanc 750ml Pinot Blanc $18.99
Van Westen Vivacious Pinot Blanc/Pinot Gris 750 mL Pinot Blanc $23.99

Checking my past tasting notes, I’ve had the opportunity to try the following BC Pinot Blanc:

Van Westen Vineyards Vivacious Pinot Blanc / Pinot Gris, 2007 :   Some sur lie on the nose, along with spice, citrus and apple aromas.  Good acidity, with apple and vanilla flavours. (Try Van Westen’s other wines too.  All are wonderful.)

Sandhill Estate Vineyard Pinot Blanc, 2007: Lemon colour in the glass.  Pineapple, melon, and oak aromas and flavours.  This is a very elegant Pinot Gris and one that I regularly show at private tastings.

Stonehill Estate Winery Pinot Blanc, 2007:  Medium lemon in colour.  Apple and oak nose and flavours.  Good acidity.  Light oak.

Greata Ranch Vineyards Pinot Blanc, 2007: This wine is aged 8 months in oak barrels, 20% are French oak.  Lots of aroma for this wine.  Peaches and pears on the nose.  Nice acidity with a balance of smoothness in the mouth.  Some oak and butterscotch flavours.

Try a bottle of BC Pinot Blanc and see if you think this could be BC’s signature grape variety.  Cheers.

An abbreviated list of wines for the holidays

Isn’t technology lovely? Sometimes you spend a long time writing a long blog about wines for the holidays and it doesn’t get saved! Well that just happened to me, so please enjoy this very short version of my wine recommendations.

Wines to take to a host/hostess. Try a wine they would not normally buy but would enjoy. Try a champagne (from France. Try Bollinger, Lanson, Krug, or Taittinger), or a sparkling wine (e.g. a cremant from France, a prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, or a New World sparkling, such as Gloria Ferrer from Napa Valley, or Lindauer from New Zealand).

An ice wine could also be a nice gift. Riesling ice wines are the best in my opinion as the high acidity of this grape complements the sweetness from the grape. Mission Hill and Quails Gate in the BC Okanagan have nice ice wines.

With dinner, assuming you have a turkey feast, try a lightly oaked chardonnay, or a lighter bodied pinot noir. On the chardonnay side try a wine from Deloach in California, Mission Hill Reserve from the Okanagan, or Evans and Tate from Australia. For a pinot noir, try Quails Gate or Mission Hill from the Okanagan, or Villa Maria or Kim Crawford from New Zealand.

People also like fortified / dessert wines. Buller makes a nice Muscat (Australia). You may try a port from Portugal, such as from Quinta do Portal. A full bodied Oloroso Sherry from Spain from Gonzalez Byass.

Enjoy the wines and enjoy the holidays!