A Few Quick Thanksgiving Wine Picks

Traditional Thanksgiving dinner courtesy of BenFranske

It’s very easy to get busy with work and family this time of the year.  And Thanksgiving comes knocking on the door extra early in October for us Canadians this year.  Some of you may be off to the Okanagan to enjoy their Fall Wine Festival.  Pick up a few bottles from the great wineries there to help you celebrate October 8.  Let’s look at a few red and white wines that you may want to have with your roast turkey or ham this year.

Wine Pairings for Roast Turkey

Roast turkey can be quite rich in flavour, plus gravy adding extra flavour.  You need a wine that can stand up on it’s own and complement the roasted flavours. A lightly oaked Chardonnay is one choice, an aromatic Viognier, or if you prefer red, a juicy Merlot or a Pinot Noir. A few that I’ve tasted over the past year:

  • Fort Berens Estate Winery Chardonnay 2011 ($17.99). This plus 2 reds from Fort Berens made me sit up and take notice.  Such quality from a new winery in a new BC wine region: Lillooet! Pale pear skin colour. Light vanilla and apple aromas.  Light body with peach flavour and a hint of oak and cinnamon. A very elegant, integrated wine.
  • Kalala Organic Estate Winery Dostana Chardonnay 2010 ($18.90). Medium lemon in colour with a nice apricot nose.  Medium body with honey, oak and apricot flavour. Very tasty.  Medium acidity with a hint of sweet spices.
  • Stag’s Hollow Viognier 2010 ($21.99). Light orangy nose.  Medium body, round mouthfeel with medium acidity. Citrus, peaches, vanilla and nutmeg on the palate.
  • Trivento Tribu Viognier 2011, Argentina ($9.99. SPEC listing). This was a very surprising wine for sub $10.  Light orange, peach and citrus nose.  Medium minus body with flowers, orange, and spice on the tongue.  Dry citrus finish.  A nice wine.
  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Merlot 2009 ($30). Light transparent garnet in the glass. Bright ripe cherry nose.  Light body, dry with ripe cherries and vanilla flavours.  Sweet cherry finish.
  • Bench 1775 Winery Merlot 2011 ($19.90). This was my surprise red wine of the tasting as I had not had their wines before.  I now want to try all their wines.  The Merlot was opaque ruby in colour.  Interesting nose of apples and plums. On the palate you get soft tannins, and flavours of yellow plum and red cherries. The yellow plum really stands out. Quite a different Merlot.  Give it a try.

Wine Pairings for Roast Ham

Roast ham is also quite full flavoured.  It has some sweetness to it, and can have other flavours such as some smokiness, depending on how it’s prepared. Riesling is a nice pairing with ham; think Alsatian food.  I think a  Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir would also be nice with ham.

  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Calliope Riesling 2011, BC ($14.99). Nice nose of citrus, apple and stone fruit.  Dry with high acidity, but still has some roundness on the palate.  Peach flavour with a slight herbal edge.
  • Fort Berens Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2010, BC ($24.99). Deep garnet in colour with light cedar and ripe cherry aromas. Dry, medium plus body with cedar, oak and ripe black fruit flavours. Ripe fruit and vanilla on the finish. This wine won a Double Gold Medal at the All Canadian Wine Championships.
  • Pewsey Vale Riesling, 2011, Australia ($23.99 SPEC).  Nice lime, lychee and flowers on the nose. Medium minus body, light acidity with lots of citrus and stone fruit flavours. Very tasty.
  • King Estate Winery Estate Signature Pinot Noir 2010, OR ($36.99).  King Estate is the largest, or one of the largest wineries in Oregon, but that doesn’t mean poor quality.  They produce very good Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.  They use organic and sustainable farming methods. Their Pinot Noir had light aromas of vanilla, red cherries and eucalyptus.  Medium minus body with a light mouth feel.  Raspberries, some tea leaves flavours, with spice showing up mid palate.  A quality wine!
  • Haywire Pinot Noir 2010, BC. Light garnet in the glass. Orange pekoe tea, nutmeg, violets, and raspberry aromas with a bit of match stick later on.  Quite a complex nose. Round, dry with red cherries, red berries, violets, some sweet spices and a streak of minerality. Medium length. Subtle tannins, which pick up on the finish. Excellent.
  • Carmen Pinot Noir Reserva, 2010, Chile ($18) – Violet aromas.   Cinnamon, violet, vanilla and cherry flavours.  Light body, low tannins. Very tasty.

I wish you many happy Thanksgiving with your family now and in the future. Cheers!

Canadian Thanksgiving – Have You Picked Your Wine?

Traditional Thanksgiving dinner courtesy of BenFranske

It’s very easy to get busy with work and family this time of the year.  And Thanksgiving comes knocking on the door early October for us Canadians.  While the BC and ON winemakers are busy harvesting their grapes and making new and exciting wines for our Thanksgiving 2012, let’s look at a few red and white wines that you may want to have with your roast turkey or ham this year.

Wine Pairings for Roast Turkey

Roast turkey can be quite rich in flavour, plus gravy adding extra flavour.  You need a wine that can stand up on it’s own and complement the roasted flavours. A lightly oaked Chardonnay is one choice, an aromatic Viognier, or if you prefer red, a juicy Merlot or a Pinot Noir. A few that I’ve tasted over the past year:

  • Spierhead Chardonnay

    Spierhead Winery Chardonnay 2010 (Canada). Here is another of BC’s newest wineries. Spierhead is located in South East Kelowna, near Tantalus. Their chardonnay is creamy with lots of vanilla and tropical fruit aromas and flavours.  Enjoy juicy fruit flavours in your mouth with medium acidity to keep it refreshing.

  • Mount Baker Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate 2009 (US$24). Light cherry colour in the glass. Violets, light spice and strawberry aromas.  Light body with raspberry, strawberry, and a hint of cedar and vanilla.  Low tannins and smooth on the palate. Nice.
  • M. Chapoutier Invitare, Condrieu, 2009 (France). Invitare is made from 100% Viognier. The Condrieu appellation where the grapes are from only produces wine from Viognier.  No red wines in Condrieu. 30% of this wine is aged in oak barrels.  The wine also goes through a malolactic fermentation (MLF) to give it more roundness.  Deep golden in the glass with a very fruity nose of oranges and honey. Round, medium body with cinnamon and orange flavours.  Medium minus acidity.  Round in the mouth, thanks to the MLF. A bit of spice on the finish.  An excellent wine, but drink it young, no longer than 3 years of aging potential.
  • Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2008 (BC). 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.
  • La Stella Allegretto 2008 (BC). This is 100% Merlot grown from their Stag vineyard in Osoyoos.  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.

Wine Pairings for Roast Ham

Roast ham is also quite full flavoured.  It has some sweetness to it, and can have other flavours such as some smokiness, depending on how it’s prepared. Riesling is a nice pairing with ham; think Alsatian food.  I think a Pinot Noir would also be nice with ham.

  • Schloss Reinhartshausen Prinz VVN Preussen Rielsing Off-Dry 2009 (Germany). I really enjoyed this wine.  Light lemon colour in the glass. Light flowery nose.  Good acidity with lime flavour and streak of minerality.
  • Kim Crawford Small Parcel “The-Rise-and-Shine” Creek Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007 (New Zealand) ($34.99). Central Otago, is inland in the South Island.  The cooler climate allows these grapes have a long hang time and smaller berries, which gives a higher skin to pulp ratio, and more intense, riper, fruit flavours.  Medium purple in the glass with ripe purple fruit and vanilla aromas.  Ripe fruit, cassis, plums and vanilla on the palate.  Medium body and medium length.  Very nice.
  • Kalala Organic Estate Winery Riesling 2008 (BC). Medium lemon colour in the glass. Nice petrol and apple aromas. Dry with apple, lemon, petrol flavours and a bit of spice on the finish.
  • 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.

I hope some of these suggestions help you make your Thanksgiving memorable. Cheers!

Wine for Easter

Spring flowers for EasterEaster is a big holiday for many of us, where we get together with family and enjoy a big Easter dinner. Easter is also leading us into spring. Flowers are already blooming here in Vancouver, and I’m sure it will come soon in the rest of Canada.

Ham, roast chicken or turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and vegetables are traditional dishes for many people’s Easter dinner. But maybe you are wondering what wine(s) to serve? Before starting dinner you may want to consider something sparkling? An easy to sip wine would be an Italian prosecco or a Moscato. These wines tend to be quite reasonably priced. Mionetto Prosecco FrizzanteEmotivo Prosecco, or Batasiolo Moscato D’Asti are three Italian wines you may want to consider.

For the main course, a roasted ham, if you are a red wine person, you could try a Pinot Noir or a Gamay (the most famous being Beaujolais). Serve slightly chilled. Here in North America, you could go with a Pinot Noir from British Columbia, such as the Quails Gate Okanagan Valley Pinot Noir. A Gamay such as Georges Duboeuf Brouilly, France would also be nice. The Gamay would also work with turkey.

Spierhead Chardonnay

What if you prefer white wine? Then I would suggest a riesling. The Kettle Valley Winery Riesling 2008 (BC) has a bit of residual sugar with some apple, flower and citrus aromas, and apple with a bit of petrol flavours, or on the organic side, Kalala Organic Estate Winery Riesling 2008 also from BC. If you prefer a drier riesling, how about the Plantagenet Great Southern Riesling 2008 from Australia? Quite minerally. Light green and petrol aromas. Apple and citrus flavours.

For roast chicken or turkey, there is Pinot Noir, as mentioned earlier. A lightly oaked Chardonnay would also work well. The oakiness and butteriness from some secondary malolactic ferementation would make the Chardonnay nice and round in your mouth to complement the richness of your roast chicken or turkey. If you would like to support Chilean wineries, after the earthquake, you may want to try the Carmen Nativa Vineyards Chardonnay (organic) or the Vina Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay from Chile. The Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay is always a winner for me. From my last tasting notes, I noted 100% barrel fermented in French oak for 9-10 months. 1/3 of wine goes through malolactic fermentation to add some extra body and butteriness. Full lemony colour. Lots of vanilla, caramel and tropical fruit on the nose. Very aromatic. Medium-full body, with tropical fruit and vanilla flavour. Has some acidity and slight spiciness to balance the creaminess. An excellent wine.  A BC selection would be Spierhead Winery Chardonnay 2010. Their chardonnay is creamy with lots of vanilla and tropical fruit aromas and flavours.  Enjoy juicy fruit flavours in your mouth with medium acidity to keep it refreshing.

I hope some of these wines give you ideas for what to serve with your Easter family meal. Enjoy!