Naramata on the River April 24, 2012 – Get Your Tickets

Naramata on the River April 2012

The Naramata Bench is one of the cherished wine regions in BC.  Each year the Naramata wine producers bring their wines out to Vancouver so that we can try the latest releases, and hopefully buy these wines.  On April 24, 2012, from 6:30pm – 9:00pm the Naramata wineries will be pouring their wines for you, and you can also try these wines with some fantastic food by local Vancouver area restaurants.  The event is called “Naramata on the River” and is being held at the River Market at (New) Westminster Quay.  It is easy to get to by Transit.  The Skytrain stops across the street from the Quay, so no need to drink and drive.  Instead you can drink and enjoy! This event is in support of the BC Cultural Crawl (more info below).

Which Wineries Will Be There?

  • Black Widow Winery
  • D’Angelo Estate Winery
  • Elephant Island Orchard Wines (they make a nice Stellaport)
  • Hillside Winery  & Bistro
  • Kettle Valley Winery
  • La Frenz Winery (top quality Chardonnay)
  • Lake Breeze Vineyards
  • Laughing Stock Vineyards
  • Misconduct Wine Co.
  • Monster Vineyards
  • Moraine Estate Winery
  • Nichol Vineyard & Estate Winery (try their Pinot Noir)
  • Poplar Grove Winery (try their Legacy, Bordeaux Blend)
  • Red Rooster Winery
  • Serendipity Winery
  • Therapy Vineyards (we all need some Therapy don’t we?)
  • Township 7 Vineyards & Winery
  • Upper Bench Estate Winery
  • Van Westen Vineyards (one of my favorites each Spring release)

Which Restaurants Will Be There?

  • Crepe des Amis
  • Pamola Bakery & Deli
  • The Crab Shop
  • Tre Galli Gelato Caffe
  • Wild Rice Restaurant
  • Re-Up BBQ (a wonderful food cart/truck downtown by the Art Gallery)
  • Donald’s Market – Aria Foods
  • Orlando’s Catering
  • Hamilton Street Grill
  • Daniel’s Restaurant
  • Hillside Bistro
  • Seasonal 56
  • Chef Ann Kirsebom
  • Hart House Restaurant
  • Hagensborg Chocolates (try with the Stellaport)
  • Gone Crackers
  • Rocky Mountain Flatbread
  • Restaurant 62

I’ve written about many of these wineries from past wine events.  Here are a few links:

This event is to help celebrate the 11th Annual British Columbia Cultural Crawl.  The BC Cultural Crawl is a self-guided tour of community-initiated events: music, theatre and dance performances, visual arts, festivals, museum and heritage exhibitions, culinary arts, community art walks and more.  Here is their website for more info.

I hope to see you there to enjoy great wine and food!  Enjoy.

BC Merlot for Summer Sips

We are well into summer now. With a scorching weekend and upcoming week, I thought it would be time to cover BC Merlot, which can be quite ripe and juicy, and pair up nicely with outdoor BBQs.

Merlot is one of the main components in a Bordeaux blend, with the other two major varieties being Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. I’ve covered Cabernet Sauvignon in a previous summer sips blog, so please read that one as well as this blog article. Cabernet Sauvignon is more structured with higher tannins and usually less juicy fruit flavours. Merlot, when blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, adds that juicy, fruit, round mouth component. But Merlot is also wonderful on it’s own.

Merlot typically shows blackberry, plum and berry fruit flavours.  If very ripe, Merlot may have fruitcake flavours.  It is generally lower in tannins, making it a versatile wine to enjoy with various foods.  Oak aging adds additional complexity to the wine.  If you like cheese, try some Merlot with brie or medium cheddar.

Checking with the website, I located the following BC Merlots in the $15-$25 range:

8th Generation Merlot 750ml Merlot $23.99
Bounty Cellars Merlot 04 750ml Merlot $23.99
Cedar Creek Estate Selection Merlot 750ml Merlot $20.99
Cedar Creek Merlot 750ml Merlot $19.99
Copper Moon Moonlight Harvest Merlot 1.5L Merlot $17.29
Crowsnest Vineyards Barcello Canyon Merlot 750ml Merlot $22.99
Fairmont Mission Hill Select Merlot 750 mL Merlot $15.99
Gray Monk Merlot 750 mL Merlot $17.99
Hawthorne Mtn Merlot 750 mL Merlot $16.99
Hester Creek Proprietor’s Reserve Merlot 750 mL Merlot $20.99
Hillside Estate Merlot 750 mL Merlot $23.99
Inniskillin Merlot 750 mL Merlot $16.99
J-Triggs Proprietors Select Merlot 1.5L Merlot $17.99
J-Triggs Ps White Merlot 1.5L Merlot $16.99
Kettle Valley Merlot 375ml Merlot $15.99
Little Straw Merlot 750ml Merlot $20.99
Mission Hill 2000 Reserve Merlot 750 mL Merlot $25.00
Mission Hill 2001 Reserve Merlot 750 mL Merlot $18.99
Mission Hill 2004 Reserve Merlot 750 mL Merlot $24.99
Mission Hill Five Vineyards Merlot 750 mL Merlot $17.99
Mission Ridge Merlot 1.5L Merlot $17.99
Monster Merlot 750 ml Merlot $23.99
Monster Vineyards Merlot 2007 750 ml Merlot $24.99
Monster Vineyards Merlot 2008 750 ml Merlot $24.99
Nk’Mip Cellars Merlot 750ml Merlot $19.99
Noble Ridge Winery Stony Knoll Merlot 750 mL Merlot $16.99
Painted Turtle Merlot 1.5L Merlot $16.99
Paradise Ranch 2003 Late Harvest Merlot 375 ml Merlot $16.99
Peller Priv Reserve Merlot 750ml Merlot $19.99
Peller Proprietor’s Reserve Merlot 1.5L Merlot $16.49
Perseus Winery & Vineyards Synergy Merlot 750 mL Merlot $22.99
Quails’ Gate Merlot 750ml Merlot $24.99
Red Rooster Chardonnay 750 mL Merlot $16.99
Red Rooster Merlot 750 mL Merlot $18.99
Road 13 VIneyards Honest John’s Red 750 mL Merlot $21.99
Road 13 Vineyards Honest John’s Red 750 mL Merlot $18.99
Road 13 Vineyards Merlot 750 mL Merlot $23.99
Sandhill Merlot 750ml Merlot $19.99
Saturna Island Merlot 750 mL Merlot $24.99
Saturna Winery Vintner’s Select Merlot 750ml Merlot $21.99
Soaring Eagle Merlot Rose 750ml Merlot $22.99
Sonora Ranch Merlot 1.5 L Merlot $15.99
Stag’s Hollow Merlot 750 ml Merlot $24.99
Sumac Ridge Black Sage Vineyard Merlot 750ml Merlot $19.99
Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Merlot 750ml Merlot $15.99
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Merlot 750 mL Merlot $19.99
Tinhorn Creek Vineyrads Oldfield’s Collection Merlot 750ml Merlot $24.99
Township 7 Merlot 750ml Merlot $24.99
Young & Wyse Merlot 750mL Merlot $24.99

Merlot is a popular grape in the BC Okanagan, according to the last factsheet put out by the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.  Some BC Merlot that I’ve enjoyed:

Lulu Island Winery Merlot 2008: Deep purple colour. Oak, vanilla, black plum aromas. Medium body, smooth, plum and cherry fruit flavours.  Medium tannins.
Stonehill Estate Winery Merlot 2006: Earthy,herbal and dark fruit aromas.  Plums and spice on the palate.  Soft tannins.
Poplar Grove Merlot 2005: Double Gold @ Canadian Wine Awards. Light garnet in colour. Cherry, cassis and leather nose.  Big cherry flavour with some vanilla.  Medium tannin and length.
Township 7 Merlot 2006: Medium garnet colour. Plum, black cherry, capsicum and vanilla on the nose.  Medium body with cherry and light milk chocolate flavour. ( I really like this one.  Tried it last July 2010.)
Neck of the Woods Merlot 2006: Medium garnet.  Red cherry, cloves and vanilla aromas.  Medium body.  Full cherry flavour with vanilla and slight spice.  Firm tannins.

Hope you get a chance to get outdoors these next few days and enjoy the summer before it’s gone. And enjoy it with a bottle of Merlot. Cheers.

BC Syrah for Summer Sips

Well, Syrah. A big wine. So maybe Summer Sips is not the correct term. Maybe I should call this one, Summer Gulps. Because you would want a big glass of syrah, and enjoy a good amount in your mouth, probably just before or after you have something nice from the BBQ. Syrah loves heat so that it can fully ripen and you can appreciate all the flavours this grape can produce. The southern Okanagan gets a lot of heat, so there should be plenty around.

Syrah typically has high tannins and high acidity, with flavours of blackberry, blueberry, dark chocolate, mint, eucalyptus, smoked meat, black pepper, white pepper, liquorice, and cloves. The high tannin content of the grapes often makes these wines good candidates for aging.  This grape ranks up there in ageability together with Cabernet Sauvignon.

You may also see the term “Shiraz” instead of “Syrah“.  These are the same grape, just a different style wine making.  In France, you tend to get a more restrained version of the wine produced, with less fruit forwardness and more tannins and acidity.  In newer wine making regions of the world, you tend to get a “New World” style called Shiraz.  Australia has been the poster child for the Shiraz style, which is a big block buster wine full of ripe fruit.  Both styles have their followers and their detractors.

Checking the website, I find the following BC Syrah in the $15-$25 range:

Jackson-Triggs Private Reserve Shiraz 750ml Syrah $19.99
Kettle Valley Syrah 375ml Syrah $23.99
Marichel Vineyard Syrah/Viognier 750 mL Syrah $24.99
Peller Proprietor’s Reserve Shiraz 1.5L Syrah $16.99
Stag’s Hollow Rose Syrah 750 ml Syrah $21.99

More syrah  are usually at a slightly higher price point, so checking again, in the $25-$50, I have the following additional BC syrah:

Blasted Church Winery Syrah 750 mL Syrah $31.99
Church & State Coyote Bowl Syrah 750mL Syrah $33.99
Desert Hills Syrah 750 mL Syrah $39.99
Hillside Syrah 750 mL Syrah $31.99
Laughing Stock Small Caps Program Syrah/Viognier 750ml Syrah $39.99
Marichel Vineyard Syrah 750 mL Syrah $49.99
Mission Hill Family Estate Select Lot Collection Syrah 750 mL Syrah $37.99
Morning Bay Syrah 750ml Syrah $46.99
Mt Boucherie Summit Rsv Syrah 750ml Syrah $30.99
Nichol Syrah 750ml Syrah $35.99
Peller Prop Res Shiraz 4 L Syrah $38.99
Poplar Grove Syrah 750 mL Syrah $48.99
Quinta Ferreira Syrah 750ml Syrah $29.99
Township 7 Syrah 750ml Syrah $33.99
Twisted Tree Syrah 750ml Syrah $28.99
Winchester Cellars Syrah 750ml Syrah $33.99

You may have noticed that some of the syrah are blended with a white aromatic grape called “viognier“. Syrah’s traditional home is the Rhone Valley in France.  Viognier is also from the same area.  French wine makers in this region have found through many years of wine making that by co-fermenting a bit of viognier with the syrah grape, that the colour from the syrah grape becomes more intense in the resulting wine, plus you get some of the aromatic perfume from the viognier.

I have had the Mission Hill Select Lot Collection Syrah from past years, and this is a very refined wine. The price point for this is on the higher end, so if you are going to sip this wine, make it a special occasion.  On the summer sipping theme, Jackson-Triggs produces enjoyable wines at reasonable prices.  Their 2007 Proprietor’s Reserve Shiraz 2007 won a Gold Medal at the Okanagan Valley Fall Wine Festival (I think this is the same as the Private Reserve Shiraz listed above) and is only $19.99. Last month I was at the Township 7 winery in the Fraser Valley.  I tried their 2006 Syrah and noted that this wine had blueberries and plum on the nose.  South mouth feel, with pulm and vanilla flavours, and a sour cherry finish ($24.99). I had also visited a while back the Therapy Vineyard and tried their Shiraz 2007.  From my notes, I noted a medium purple colour in the glass.  Dark fruit, black berries and slight oak aroma.  Ripe black fruit, plummy with a bit of chocolate on the palate.  Smooth mouthfeel with a long finish.  I marked this wine as a star in my tasting notes.

If you like this post on Summer Sippers, or other of my posts, please tag or tweet them. Merci. Now go and enjoy some Syrah.