IVSA Wine Picks for June 7, 2011 Tasting

This is probably the last Import Vintners & Spirits Association (IVSA) tasting of new wine, beer, and spirits until September. Everyone needs a summer vacation. The IVSA event showcases new wines (or new vintages of wines), beers, and spirits reaching the BC market. It is always exciting to see what new gems I can find and pass along to you. So here are my recommendations!

White Wines

Tiera Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley, California, 2009. Watery lemon colour.  Light citrus nose.  Medium acidity. Very juicy on the palate with citrus and some apple.

La Chablisienne Saint-Bris Sauvignon Blanc 2010, France. Pale lemon. Some nettle, light gooseberry and lime aromas. Herbal, nettle flavour, medium body and length. An elegant wine.

Carmen Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Chile. Bright lemon in the glass. Lots of gooseberry and lime aromas. Medium body and high in acidity. Green and gooseberry flavours, with a flowery finish.

Honig Sauvignon Blanc ‘Napa’ 2009, California. Watery lemon. Nice herbal, gooseberry and flowers on the nose. High acidity with red apple, flowers and citrus flavours. A bit of roundness. A top value from Wine Spectator.

Red Wines

Olivares Jumilla Rose 2010, Spain. I reviewed this rose during the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival and recommended it.  Tasting it again today, I still recommend it. Bright cherry colour. Light cherry nose.  Light body with ripe red cherries and strawberry flavours. Medium acid and low tannins. Very refreshing.

Finca Las Moras Reserva Shiraz 2006, Argentina. This one is the deal of the tasting.  It is a speculative wine.  The price of this wine is $11.99 a bottle. Buy a case and enjoy with bbq all summer. Opaque purple in colour.  Tarry, meaty, dark cherry and vanilla aromas.  Brooding. Full body with vanilla, black cherries and soft tannins.

Domaine La Fond, Cotes du Rhone 2009, France. This is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah. Medium garnet. Cassis nose. Medium body with dark chocolate, cassis and spice.  Firm tannins with a dry finish.  This is a nice wine, but it needs to be paired with food for full enjoyment.

Tomero Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Mendoza, Argentina. Medium ruby. Nice nose of vanilla, cassis and ripe cherries. Ripe cassis, black cherries and vanilla flavours. Spicy with plum coming in later. Round on the palate with firm, yet fine tannins. Very tasty.

Manium Crianza 2007, Bierzo, Spain, 2007.  If you have never tried wine made from the Mencia grape, here is your chance.  Deep purple in the glass, with earthy, chocolate and black cherry aromas. Full body with ripe black cherries, cassis, milk chocolate and sweet spices. Very nice.

Chateau La Gordonne, Les Gravieres Rose 2010, Cotes de Provence, France. This rose is a blend of grenache, syrah, cinsaut, mourvedre and tibouren. Watery pink in the glass. Nice sweet cherry and strawberry aromas. Sweet cherries, bonbon, strawberry flavours. Very juicy. Low tannins with medium length. A fun summer wine. It is a one time buy so get it before it’s gone.

Enjoy the summer with these wines.

Thank Your Mom with these Mothers Day Wine Selections

Mother’s Day is coming up soon. We all like to treat our mothers. A nice meal and nice wine is one option. Some wines you may want to consider.

Sparkling Wine

  • Fresita sparkling (Chile). This is a blend of white sparkling wine with blended strawberries. Very nice and fruity. Would be a nice way to start a breakfast if you don’t want to make a mimosa.
  • Champagne Lallier Rose (France). Very pale pinkish orange colour. Light strawberry nose. Bigger bubble, with strawberry and red cherry flavour. You can never go wrong with Champagne. If you cannot afford Champagne, maybe try an Italian Prosecco or a Spanish Cava.
  • 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.   This Spanish Cava is light orangy pink in colour. Light strawberry aroma. Very bracing in your mouth, with strawberry and raspberry flavours.

White Wines

If you mother likes white wines here are a few suggestions.

  • Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2008 (Canada). This is 100% Chardonnay from a blend of 3 Chardonnay clones: 2 Dijon and 1 Loire. A portion of the wine is fermented in French oak and left sur lies for 10 months. Pale lemon with a green tint in the glass.  Flower and lemon on the nose. Medium body with vanilla, pineapple flavours.  Medium acidity. A very well balanced wine.  This is a chardonnay that everyone should try.
  • Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (New Zealand).  Pale lemon in the glass.  Lots of gooseberry on the nose with some herbal on the nose that continued to the palate.  Medium plus acidity with long length.  Really nice flavour.
  • Township 7 Viognier 2008 was medium lemon in colour. Honey, lime and tropical fruit on the nose. Medium acidity with citrus, mango and papaya flavours. If you have not tried a Viognier before, this one will get you hooked.
  • Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Chile). It had varied aromas of citrus, pineapple and apple. On the palate there was good acidity with pineapple flavour and medium length.
  • La Frenz Winery Reserve Chardonnay 2009 (Canada). Pale lemon in the glass. Lots of vanilla with a hint of eucalyptus / menthol. Nice acidity.  Round mouthfeel with pineapple and spice.

Red Wines

Maybe your mother prefers red wine or you are planning to BBQ something for her.  Here are some suggestions.

  • Vina Santa Rita Medalla Real Pinot Noir 2008 (Chile). Santa Rita is a premium producer from Chile.  I really enjoy their wines, and spent time visiting them in Chile. Their Medalla Real Pinot Noir is coloured light purple in the glass.  Ripe cassis aromas. Round mouth feel, light boded with an abundance of cassis flavour.  Low tannins.
  • Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand). Pale purple colour.  Lots of raspberry aroma and flavour.  Also a bit of tea leaves on the palate. Light body with medium acidity.
  • Van Westen Vineyards Voluptuous Merlot / Cabernet Franc 2007 (Canada). Opaque puple in the glass. Ripe cherries and vanilla with a hint of cedar on the nose. Full bodied with firm yet smooth tannins.  Ripe black cherry flavour.
  • Howling Bluff Estate Winery Summa Quies Estate Pinot Noir 2009 (Canada). Pale garnet in colour. Beautiful violets and strawberry aromas. Soft, light bodied, with vanilla, strawberries and ripe cherries on the palate.  Highly recommended.
  • d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache 2008, (Australia)  This wine is light garnet in colour.  Smoke and raspberry on the nose.  Petrol, cassis, raspberry flavours.  Low tannins. Very refreshing.
  • Bennett Lane Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California) This cab is deep garnet in colour. A nice nose with ripe cassis and vanilla. Smooth mouthfeel with dark fruit and dry tannins. Long lingering flavours.
  • Clos du Val Wine Company Zinfandel 2009 (California). Light garnet in colour. Smoky raspberry nose. Medium body with raspberry and cassis flavours, with vanilla and spice on the finish. An elegant wine.
  • La Stella Allegretto 2008 (Canada). This is 100% Merlot grown from their Stag vineyard in Osoyoos on it’s own rootstock!  Deep purple in the glass.  Lots of raspberry, cherry and vanilla on the nose.  Full body with mocha, cherry and vanilla flavour, and a hint of raspberry.  Medium tannins with a long finish.

I’ve tried to give you a range of wines from light to full bodied.  I hope there is one for you and for your mother.  Enjoy!

Good Gracious Grenache at the Vancouver Playhouse Int’l Wine Fest

When most people purchase red wine, they probably think of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or Pinot Noir. I’m sure that Grenache is probably not on the top of your list, but should be.  During last year’s first International Grenache Day, this grape was given the moniker, “the girl next door“.  She is always around and a nice person but you don’t notice her, until you are smitten one day.

A little bit about the grenache grape, before reviewing the wines we tasted at Good Gracious Grenache, during the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fetival.  The grape is originally from Spain, where it is known as “garnacha“. It likes heat, accumulates lots of sugar and can make wines, high in alcohol.  It can have aromas and flavours of raspberries, grilled herbs, black olives, mocha, tobacco, and butterscotch.  Quite a range of aromas and flavours.  Grenache, as it is known in France, is important in Northern and Eastern Spain where it is blended with tempranillo.  Garnacha provides the fruit, while tempranillo provides the backbone of the blend.

Our moderators, Michelle Bouffard and Michaela Morris had us taste wines from Spain, France, Australia and California. Our wines:

  • Miguel Torres de Casta Penedes, Spain 2010. ($14.99)
  • Paul Mas Grenache, France 2009. ($12.99)
  • Perrin & Fils Vacqueyras, France 2009. ($26.99)
  • Chapoutier La Bernardine Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France 2008. ($48.99)
  • Bodegas Valdemar Conde de Valdemar Rioja Garnacha, Spain 2009. ($25.00)
  • Orowines, Atteca, Calatayud, Spain 2008. ($26.99)
  • Telmo Rodriguez Pegaso Granito, Spain 2007. ($55.00)
  • 2πR DOQ Priorat, Spain 2007. ($47.00)
  • Ridge Vineyards ATP Grenache, California 2004. (no price available)
  • Langmeil GSM Three Garden, Australia 2009. ($24.99)
  • Yalumba Tri-Centenary Vineyard Vine Vale Barossa Grenache, Australia 2006. (no price available)
  • Chapoutier Banyuls, France 2008. (no price available)
  • Seppeltsfield Fortified Grenache Rose, Australia, NV. (no price available)

Miguel Torres de Casta Penedes, Spain 2010. This is a rose wine to start of the event.  Light pink in colour. Strawberry nose.  Light body, off dry, with strawberry flavour.  Low tannins with good acidity.

Paul Mas Grenache, France 2009. This wine is from the Languedoc region of France, which has been known in the past as a wine lake, but is now being known for better quality wines. Paul Mas represents a new, younger breed of winemakers.  This wine was deep purple in the glass with legs on the glass, indicating it’s higher alcohol content coming from this warm region of France.  Slight raspberry on the nose.  Medium body and tannins, with raspberries and cherries.  Short in length though.

Perrin & Fils Vacqueyras, France 2009. Vacqueyras is a small region in the Rhone.  Vanilla, Purple fruit and olives on the nose. Higher level of acidity with firm tannins. Quite dry with dark cherry flavour. Medium plus length.  This is a good food wine.

Chapoutier La Bernardine Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France 2008. Chateauneuf-du-Pape is also a region within the Rhone, but has a different expression than Vacqueyras.  C-du-P is usually a blend of up to 13 different grape varieties, but grenache is usually the major component of the wine. Dull garnet in the glass.  Light strawberry, cherry, and olive aromas.  Medium minus body. Light cherry flavour and a bit warm on the tongue.

Bodegas Valdemar Conde de Valdemar Rioja Garnacha, Spain 2009. This wine is deep purple coloured.  Dark fruit, slight leather and vanilla aromas.  Good fruit flavours of dark cherries.

Orowines, Atteca, Calatayud, Spain 2008. This is an area to the south of Rioja.  It is a very arid climate.  This wine was very deep purple in colour.  Saddle and slight smokiness on the nose.  Quite juicy and fruity cherry flavours.  Medium body, tannins and length.  I enjoyed this wine.

Telmo Rodriguez Pegaso Granito, Spain 2007. This wine comes from a high altitude vineyard in Castilla y Leon, surrounded by mountains. Dark cherry and oak nose. Medium body, round mouth feel, with ripe cherry flavours.  It has very dry tannins and finish.  Needs food if you drink it now, or leave it to age 3-4 years and try again.

2πR DOQ Priorat, Spain 2007. Quite aromatic in the glass with oak and menthol. Juicy dark fruit aromas along with some leather and licorice.   Dry firm tannins and long length.  A very high quality wine, but needs some aging in your cellar.

Ridge Vineyards ATP Grenache, Sonoma, California 2004. This wine was brought in specifically for this tasting.  It was not available in the big tasting room, or for purchase in the festival liquor store. Grenache is not widely planted in California so it is a treat to see how the grape thrives there. This wine had vanilla and dark fruit aromas.  Dry up front, with medium body.  Savory and dark fruit flavours.

Langmeil GSM Three Garden, Australia 2009GSM stands for Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre.  A blend.  This blend had the least amount of Grenache in it. Olives and savory aromas in the glass. Medium body, with dark fruit and olive flavours.  Soft mouthfeel with low tannins.

Yalumba Tri-Centenary Vineyard Vine Vale Barossa Grenache, Australia 2006.  Darker garnet in colour. Light vanilla, oak, cherry and raspberries on the nose.  Light fruity, raspberry flavours with a bit of spice.  Medium body.  A nice wine.

Chapoutier Banyuls, France 2008.  If you like Port, you will like Banyuls.  Banyuls is a sweet fortified wine. This one is 90% grenache and 10% mourvedre. Opaque purple in colour.  Sweet ripe dark fruit nose with some citrus notes. Lighter bodied, sweet, with dark fruit and spice flavours. Try this wine with chocolate.

Seppeltsfield Fortified Grenache Rose, Australia, NV. Another sweet fortified wine. Light, salmony coloured.  Bright aromatics with raspberry and caramel.  Medium sweetness, with strawberry and spice flavour.  Medium length.

Some Alternative Grenache Wines

Most of the wines were in an “Old World” style, with firm tannins, olives and herbs.  I have tried other, more bright raspberry fruit wines made from the grenache grape.  Here are a few wines I recommend to try:

d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache 2008, McLaren Vale, Australia $21.99 – This wine is light garnet in colour.  Smoke and raspberry on the nose. Petrol, cassis, raspberry flavours.  Low tannins. Very refreshing.

Dusted Valley Grenache, Columbia Valley, WA 2009. This is such a wonderful wine.  Just the right balance of fruit, tannins, and acidity.  The wine was medium garnet in colour.  Cherry, vanilla and smoky aromas.  Raspberry, cherry, and vanilla on the palate.  Medium bodied with a raspberry finish.

Airfield Estates Winery Mustang 2008, Washington  (US$25). This is a blend of 53% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 8% Cinsault, 2% Counoise, and 2% Mourvedre.   This wine was medium purple in colour.  Quite a complex nose, with aromas of cassis, vanilla, and cherry. Medium body with soft tannins.  Red cherry, raspberry, vanilla, and butterscotch flavours.  Medium length.

Brotte Vacqueyras “Bouvencourt” 2006, France $28.99. This is a Grenache / Syrah blend. Medium garnet with a bit of bricking. Caramel, and cherry on the nose.  Medium body and tannins. Caramel, apple, raspberry and cherry flavours.

Gemtree Vineyards Cadenizia 2008, Australia. This biodynamic wine is a blend of Grenache, Tempranillo, and Shiraz. Medium garnet. Nice nose with butterscotch, cherry and vanilla. Lots of cassis flavour with black cherry and spiciness. Firm yet fine tannins.

Enjoy!

Celebrating Mardi Gras Food with Wine!

Mardi Gras is coming up on March 8. What food and wine will you be serving? I took a trip to New Orleans, the Big Easy, just before Hurricane Katrina. It was an amazing food experience. Lots of rich and delicious food.

For Mardi Gras, there are some well loved dishes.  I was thinking to tell you about some of them, and then offer some wine pairing suggestions.  And maybe get invited to a few Mardi Gras parties!

What are some Mardi Gras dishes?

Courtesy Epicurious.com

  • Oysters Bienville
  • Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
  • Gumbo

The Oysters Bienville dish on the half shell cooked with butter and egg and of course oysters is quite a rich dish.  A riesling or maybe an unoaked chardonnay may pair nicely with this.  For a riesling maybe try a Tantalus Vineyards Riesling from the Okanagan, BC or a Pikes Traditionale Clare Valley Riesling from Australia. For unoaked chardonnay, you could pick a La Chablisienne Chablis from France or Township 7 unoaked chardonnay from Okanagan, BC.

The Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya will be a spicy dish with a tomato based sauce.  A wine with good fruit and low tannins would pair well.  Maybe a grenache or a zinfandel.  On the grenache side, I really like the Sorrento Dry Grown Grenache 2008, McLaren Vale, Australia.  I just tried it last month and it is wonderful, lots of red fruit flavours.  Nice raspberry and toffee on the nose and on the palate. If you prefer a garnacha from Spain, try the Las Rocas Garnacha. For a zinfandel Kenwood Vineyards Yulupa Old Vine Zinfandel 2007 or Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2006.

What is gumbo?  Gumbo is a roux-based stew made with andouille sausage, cubes of beef, crab and shrimp. Again this will be spicy.  A New World pinot noir could match well.  From last years Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fair, I can recommend the Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir 2007 and the Woollaston Estates Tussock Nelson Pinot Noir 2007. My wine reviews for these 2 wines are here.  If you want a BC Pinot Noir, try the Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir?  One of my reliable pinots in BC!

In case you don’t have a recipe for these dishes, I’ve added the links for you.
Jambalaya

Oysters Bienville

Gumbo

Enjoy these dishes from the Big Easy and these wines from around the world!

My Wine Picks from the Australian Regional Round-Up Tasting #apluswines

January 28, evening at the Bushlen Mowatt Gallery. It was raining outside, but warm and bright inside the Gallery. This evening’s tasting was a regional round-up of Australian wines. The regions, and subregions, covered in this tasting were:

  • South Australia
    • Eden Valley
    • Clare Valley
    • Barossa Valley
    • Padthaway
    • Langhorne Creek
    • Coonawarra
    • McLaren Vale
    • Adelaide Hills
  • New South Wales
    • Hunter Valley
    • Mudgee
    • Orange
    • Riverina
  • Western Australia
    • Margaret River
  • Victoria
    • Mornington Peninsula
    • Goulburn Valley / Nagambie Lakes
    • Heathcote
    • Yarra Valley

There was at least one wine from each sub-region that evening.  I tried to sample every wine but there were too many, so if a wine you liked did not make my list, it could be that I did not have a chance to try it that evening.

South Australia produces most of Australia’s wines, and have many of the best known regions such as the Barossa Valley and the Coonawarra region.  My picks from SOUTH AUSTRALIA are:

Jim Barry ‘The Cover Drive’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Clare Valley) $28.99 – This wine was deep purple in the glass.  Ripe cassis fruit aroma.  Round mouthfeel with medium acidity and raspberry flavour.  A full bodied Cabernet that is more well-known in my opinion for riesling.

Yalumba “Patchwork” Barossa Shiraz 2008 (Barossa Valley) $25.99 – Another deep purple wine.  Rich cassis aroma.  Full body with coffee, black fruit and spice. Medium tannins.

Peter Lehmann “The Futures” Barossa Shiraz 2007 (Barossa Valley) $29.99 – More deep purple shiraz in the glass.  Meaty and chocolate on the nose. Spicy, chocolate and very fruity with firm tannins.

Bleasdale “Potts’ Catch” Verdelho 2009 (Langhorne Creek) $15.99 – Verdelho is a white grape that is originally from Portugal and used in making Madeira wine.  Wine produced from the Verdelho grape can be lemony, crisp and refreshing. It’s character can vary from herbaceous, when grown in cooler vineyards or picked earlier, to tropical fruit, when coming from warmer vineyards or when picked at full maturity. This wine was watery in colour. Some light lime and lees on the nose. Good acidity with apple, lime and spice.  Think about this one for summer.

Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz 2007 (Coonawarra) $40.99 -Vanilla and ripe plum aromas.  Soft and round in the mouth with sweet ripe cherry flavour and nice pepperiness. A highlight wine.

Chapel Hill Parsons Nose Shiraz 2008 (McLaren Vale) $19.99 – McLaren Vale is a bit cooler climate area in South Australia, but it seems to still be putting out quite full-bodied wines that also have good acidity to them too. This wine was deep purple in colour.  Lots of cassis fruit on the nose.  Good acidity with spiciness and cassis flavour.  Medium tannins.  The cassis just jumped out of the glass at you.  Quite nice and a great price.

Wirra Wirra “Dead Ringer” Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (McLaren Vale) $58.99 – This one might have been my overall favourite for the night. Capsicum upfront then some meatiness on the nose.  Tarry, espresso and capsicum and dark fruit on the palate.  Very full bodied.

d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache 2008 (McLaren Vale) $21.99 – It was nice to have a lighter bodied grenache after so many big Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was light garnet in colour.  Smoke and raspberry on the nose. Petrol, cassis, raspberry flavours.  Low tannins. Very refreshing.

Petaluma Chardonnay 2007 (Adelaide Hills) $35.97 – Light lemon in colour with a tinge of green. Light spice, citrus and oak on the nose.  Light body but full of flavour.  Spicy on the palate with long length.

My NEW SOUTH WALES wine picks:

Brokenwood Semillon 2008 (Hunter Valley) $23.99 – Semillon is a classic grape for the cooler climate Hunter Valley.  It can age for a long time and develop an oaked profile eventhough no oak has been applied.  I’ve become quite a fan of Brokenwood’s Semillon since I first tried it a few years ago.  Young, it is bright and refreshing.  Lovely to go with some shellfish.  The 2008 vintage was watery with a slight green hint in colour. Light citrus nose. Green pepper and jalapeno on the palate. Clean with great acidity.  Highly recommended.

Robert Oatley Chardonnay 2007 (Mudgee) $19.99 – Medium lemon in colour.  Vanilla and slight vegetal aromas. Round mouth feel with medium acidity.  Off dry with apple, oak and spice.

From the VICTORIA region, my wine picks:

De Bortoli Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2006 (Yarra Valley) $33.99 – Light red colour with slight bricking.  Burgundian nose with some cherry too. Earthy, meaty, and strawberry flavours.  Low tannins and a bit of spice.  I’d like to try this with some nice French cheese.

Upon reviewing my notes, it looks like Shiraz was the big winner for me at this tasting, and I hope it will be for you too. Enjoy!

has been cultivated in Portugal since at least the 1400s. It is one of the grapes long used in the making of Madeira.

Chinese New Year, the Year of Golden Rabbit. Wine to serve?

February 3, 2011 is Chinese New Year.  This will be the Year of the Golden Rabbit, (which is my sign BTW).  The Rabbit is a lucky sign. According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves. I think enjoying a glass of wine every day would be a great way to calm your nerves and support your inner bunny.  With that my innate curiosity got the best of me, so I started to search for all rabbit-related wines that I could find on the web.  Here is what I was able to identify.

Wines that are available in BC:

  • French Rabbit Cabernet Sauvignon 1 L (some smart bunnies drink boxed wine) – France
  • Rock Rabbit Sauvignon Blanc 750 mL USA Central Coast
  • Rock Rabbit Shiraz 750 mL USA Central Coast
  • French Rabbit Pinot Noir 2005 1.0L France Languedoc
  • French Rabbit Chardonnay 1 L Boxed Wine Tetra France
  • California Rabbit Hopping Red 2009


And a few wines that may be in BC at some specialty shops, but likely across the border in WA state if you are up for a short trip.

  • Rudolf Müller 2007 Riesling (has a rabbit on the label)
  • Hip Chicks Do Wine Wine Bunny Blanc, Wilamette Valley, Oregon
  • Hip Chicks Do Wine Wine Bunny Rouge, Wilamette Valley, Oregon
  • Hip Chicks Do Wine Wine Bunny Blush, Wilamette Valley, Oregon

I found MANY wines from Rabbit Ridge in California.  It seems they have a population explosion of wines:

  • Rabbit Ridge 2008 Paso Robles Grenache Róse
  • Rabbit Ridge 2009 Paso Robles Allure de Robles
  • Rabbit Ridge 2005 Paso Robles Bunny Cuvee
  • Rabbit Ridge 2009 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Rabbit Ridge Sarah’s Syrah
  • Rabbit Ridge 2009 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Rabbit Ridge 2009 Paso Robles Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Rabbit Ridge 2005 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon- Reserve
  • Rabbit Ridge Le Lapin Clairveaux (Rhone Style Red Wine Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre)
  • Rabbit Ridge 2009 Central Coast Merlot
  • Rabbit Ridge Le Lapin NV Paso Robles Merlot
  • Rabbit Ridge Le Lapin NV Paso Robles Multiplicity red blend
  • Rabbit Ridge 2005 Paso Robles No Worries
  • Rabbit Ridge Le Lapin NV Paso Robles Petite Sirah
  • Rabbit Ridge 2006 Paso Robles Pinot Noir
  • Rabbit Ridge Le Lapin Speed Bump (Tempranillo, Alicante red blend)
  • Rabbit Ridge 2005 Paso Robles Syrah- Côte Rôtie Style Reserve
  • Rabbit Ridge 2009 Central Coast Zinfandel
  • Rabbit Ridge Le Lapin NV Paso Robles Zinfandel
  • Rabbit Ridge 2009 Paso Robles Estate Zinfandel
  • Rabbit Ridge 2007 Paso Robles Estate Zinfandel- Reserve
  • Rabbit Ridge 2009 Central Coast Chardonnay
  • Rabbit Ridge 2008 Paso Robles Chardonnay
  • Rabbit Ridge Le Lapin Chardonnay
  • Rabbit Ridge 2009 Mystique de Robles (Sauvignon Blanc,Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc, Pinot Gris)
  • Rabbit Ridge Le Lapin NV Ingenuity (Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio)

I’ve seen Rabbit Ridge in WA state at many stores, but have not bought any yet.  I’m curious to try their Le Lapin Clairveaux, Rabbit Ridge 2005 Paso Robles Syrah- Côte Rôtie Style Reserve, and Le Lapin NV Ingenuity (Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio). On my next trip, hopefully before Feb 3, 2011, I plan on trying some Rabbit Ridge and bringing some back with me so I can celebrate the Chinese New Years with my friends.

What food to pair with these wines?  Well, seeing that it is the Year of the Golden Rabbit, and rabbits are lucky, I would not want to ruin my luck by cooking up a bunny.  So I’m going to suggest that you can pair the above wines with anything but bunny!  A chocolate bunny with the grenache, merlot, or a red blend could be nice though.

Gung hey fat choy.

A Visit to Chateau Ste Michelle and Airfield Estates in Washington State

This past weekend I made a short trip across the border to visit a few wineries in Washington State.  One of the days was a visit to Chateau Ste Michelle and Airfield Estates, located in Woodinville, WA.   It was quite a contrast in scale, but the people I spoke to at both wineries were passionate about the wines that they produced.  I like that.  What did I try, and do I have any recommendations for you?  Of course!

Chateau Ste. Michelle

I spent an hour at Chateau Ste. Michelle, being led through a tasting of wines with one of their staff members, Bob.  I appreciate all the time Bob spent with me, considering how busy the tasting room was at that time.  I tried white, red, and dessert wines.

On the white wine side, I thought their Cold Creek Chardonnay 2008 (US$25.99) was very elegant.  The Cold Creek vineyard is the oldest and hottest vineyard owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle in the Columbia Valley.  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.  Would go nicely with some salmon.

An easy drinking white was their Pinot Gris 2008 (US$14.99). Pale lemon in colour.  Lemon, spice and apple aromas.  Crisp acidity, with apple, melon and oak flavour.  Medium body with nice round mouthfeel.

For their red wines, I have a few recommendations.  The Cold Creek Merlot 2007 (US$30) is big and bold.  Deep puple in colour.  Vanilla and cherry on the nose.  Round and smooth on the palate, with tannins kicking in mid palate.  Flavours of ripe black cherries and a hint of chocolate.  Medium length with a very drink finish. Drink now or wait a year.

Canoe Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from the Horse Heaven Hills was also another big wine.  Canoe Ridge is their mid-tier wine level. The grapes for this wine comes from their Horse Heaven Hills vineyard.  Deep purple in colour.  Purple fruit, vanilla, and sweet ripe plum aromas.  Juicy plums and cherry flavours along with vanilla.  Medium body with fine tannins and a dry soft finish.  There was a hint of cedar and some chocolate on the palate as well.  This wine coated my glass.  Very nice.

My last red wine pick is their Ethos Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.  Ethos is the top tier wine level from Chateau Ste Michelle.  This wine received 90 points from Wine Spectator and 92 points from The Wine Advocate, and is my top wine pick!  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.

For dessert wines, I was infatuated with their Eroica Riesling Ice Wine 2006 (US$60 for 375ml bottle). 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.  It scored 93 pts in Wine Spectator. 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.

Airfield Estates Winery

Airfield Estates winery is a family-owned operation.  It has passed through a few generations.  Why “Airfield Estates”?  During WWII the US Military asked the Miller family if they could setup an airbase on their land to train pilots. The airbase continued operations until the mid 1940’s. Shortly after WWII came to an end, the pilots moved off-site and the recently constructed buildings were auctioned off to the highest bidder. The only bidder turned out to be H. Lloyd Miller. These unique buildings became the headquarters of the Miller family’s farming operations up to today. You will notice an aeronautical theme to all their wine labels.  They have a Thunderbolt, Lightning, and Mustang wine, which are three different types of fighter aircraft.

A white wine I particularly liked was their Gewurztraminer 2009 (US$14).  Pale lemon with a green tinge in the glass. Lots of lychee and pear aromas.  Some spiciness with pear and lychee flavour.  Medium length.

Another white I liked was their Lightning 2008 (US$18). This is a Rhone-inspired blend, consisting of 50% Viognier, 25% Rousanne, 20% Chardonnay, and 5% Marsanne.  It scored 90 Points on Wine Advocate. Pineapple and vanilla aromas. Medium acidity but still quite a creamy mouthfeel.  Peach and some oak flavours.  Medium length.

On the red side, I enjoyed their Mustang 2008 (US$25). This is a blend of 53% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 8% Cinsault, 2% Counoise, and 2% Mourvedre.  I had not heard of the Counoise grape before.  From Wikipedia: “Counoise is a dark-skinned wine grape grown primarily in the Rhône valley region of France. Counoise adds a peppery note and good acidity to a blended red wine, but does not have much depth of colour or tannin.”  This wine was medium purple in colour.  Quite a complex nose, with aromas of cassis, vanilla, and cherry. Medium body with soft tannins.  Red cherry, raspberry, vanilla, and butterscotch flavours.  Medium length.

Another red wine of note is their Aviator 2008 (US$30). It is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, and 5% Malbec.  A Bordeaux blend, just missing Carmenere.  Medium garnet in colour.  Capsicum, vanilla, plum and some meatiness on the nose.  Medium plus body.  Round up front, then dry on the finish.  Capsicum, vanilla, and cherry flavours.

If you live in the Vancouver, BC area, it is only a short 2 hour car ride to Woodinville, WA.  There are many wineries in the area for you to explore.  Enjoy!

Liquid Art Fine Wines – 20th Anniversary tasting

Today I was invited to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Liquid Art Fine Wines in Vancouver. Liquid Art Fine Wines is an importer of premium wines from around the world. They are specialists in sourcing some of the world’s finest and most sought-after wines. You can find their wines in restaurants in Vancouver as well as you can purchase the wines from them if you are an avid collector of hard to get wines.

I enjoyed sparkling wines, white and red wines from around the world today. A very nice Champagne from France was the Varnier-Fanniere Brut Grand Cru NV ($71.90). This champagne had a nice bready nose. Very fine bubble, with green apple, oak and citrus flavour. The fine bubble, I learned from my trip to France last year comes from the Chardonnay grape. This champagne is 100% chardonnay from different vintages blended together. It is aged in bottle for 3 years. It is not heavy and I’d enjoy it as an aperitif with some light canapes.

If red wine is more your style, staying in France, maybe you would enjoy their Domaine de la Mordoree “La Dame Rousse” Lirac Rouge AC 2006 ($30.90)? This a blend of 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah. Hand harvested. This was a very intriguing wine. It has a brooding character. Deep garnet in colour, with a sweet dark cherry nose. Full dark cherry flavour. Medium tannins and medium length.

Outside of France, you may enjoy the Roccolo Grassi Valpolicella Superiore DOC 2004 Italy ($57.90). Valpolicella is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Croatina and Corvinone. This wine had a very smoky nose with cherries. On the palate there was that smokiness again, with sausage and cherry and nice amount of spice. Long length. Wonderful.

There are many more wines of great quality at Liquid Art Fine Wines. I will be posting my tasting notes for the other wines that tried this evening on www.MyWinePal.com. You may want to visit Liquid Art Fine Wines’ online inventory.

Enjoy!

Celebrate Australia!

G’Day Mate and Happy Australia Day! On Saturday I was invited to the Celebrate Australia wine tasting, which was held in downtown Vancouver. 43 wineries were present, along with lots of food, and music. Each of the wineries offered 3-5 wines, so there were about 200 wines to sample this evening. I didn’t make it through all of the wines, but found some very nice wines.

Australian wines over 10 years ago were in the sub $20 category and were predominantly full bodied, full fruited red wines. Now countries like Chile and Argentina are filling that price range. Australia is now into the $20 and up category, and rightly so, as they have some premium wine makers and wine regions.

Western Australia, particularly around Margaret River, are known for their Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines. More Old World in style and restrained, compared to the rest of Australia and the other New World countries. The Barossa Valley and Coonawarra are still producing big cabernet sauvignon and shiraz, but there tends to be more structure than in the past. The Yarra Valley is becoming more well known around the world for their cool climate pinot noir and chardonnay.

So you are probably hoping for a few wine picks from me, and here they are:

Brokenwood Hunter Valley Semillon 2007, $26.99. If you have never tried Semillon (a white varietal), you have to try this one. It has a citrusy, apple, tarry nose. Excellent acidity with citrus/lime flavours.

d’Arenberg The Custodian McLaren Vale Grenache 2005, $24.99. Wonderful toffee, tar, raspberry and strawberry fruit with sweet, ripe tannins.

Heggies Eden Valley Chardonnay 2006, $27.99. This wine has nice acidity and minerality. Don’t look for an overly oaked, buttery chardonnay here.

Enjoy!

A new wine and cheese experience

Every region of France has it’s own unique cheese. In Burgundy, one of those cheeses is the Epoisses de Bourgogne. This cheese has a cream cheese type texture and an orangey, wrinkled rind. The rind is washed with the marc de Bourgogne as it ripens. Marc is the left over juices after squeezing out the fermented grape skins and then distilling these juices. The cheese was semi-firm with a woody / nutty aroma. The aroma was not as strong as the previous cheeses. It had a cottage cheese flavour, with nutty flavoured rind, and a hint of saltiness. Quite nice.

The wine I paired with it was from the Rhone valley. It was the Chateau de Beaulieu, La Chatelaine, 2007, Cotes de Rhone. The blend was 60% grenache, and the remainder unknown amounts of Syrah, Cinsault, Mouvedre and Carignan. This wine was the Medaille de Bronze award from the Concours des Grands Vins de France 2008. It was a deep purple colour in the glass. There were intense aromas of meat, pepper, red and black fruits. The red and black fruit flavours continued on the palette. It was very peppery and had a long finish. Very full bodied, low tannins and good acidity. The fruit and black pepper flavours of the wine complemented the creaminess and nuttiness of the cheese. It was a great pairing. Salut!