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!

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New Zealand Perfect Pairings, Wine and Food at the Int’l Playhouse Wine Fest

Saturday was a wonderful sunny day for the New Zealand Perfect Pairings event for the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. It was held at the Boathouse Restaurant, situated at Kits Beach in Vancouver. Eight wineries from New Zealand were represented:

  • Astrolabe Wines
  • Giesen Wine Estate
  • Kim Crawford Wines
  • Man O’War Vineyards
  • Mud House Wines
  • Oyster Bay Wines
  • Sacred Hill Wines
  • Stoneleigh

New Zealand is well-known for their bracing Sauvignon Blancs and their Pinot Noirs, which range in style from summer fruits, like strawberries and raspberries, to wild savory aromas and flavours. But there are other grape varieties to try from New Zealand, such as Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec!

There was a wide variety of foods to try with the wines from these wineries:

  • Kusshi, Kumomoto and Boathouse Kiss Oysters on the half shell
  • Pan seared Dungeness crab cakes with mango  salsa and lemon aioli and citrus micro greens
  • Herb crusted Chicken Kiev on wilted greens with tomato, pine nuts and white balsamic strawberry coulis
  • Wild mushroom and fiddlehead gnocchi
  • Sesame crusted tuna nigiri sushi style with soy braised shiitake mushrooms
  • Lamb shoulder confit with mushroom ragout
  • One bite Caesar with smoky rubbed USDA prime striploin and clam vinaigrette
  • Strawberry, kiwi fruit flan with a drizzle of chocolate inside  (I didn’t get a chace to sample these, but they looked fabulous)
  • Assorted cheese (Alexis de Portneuf la Cendrillon, Paillot de Chevre, Stella Asiago, La Sauvagine)

Let’s start with the wines.  I enjoyed all the wines, but my top were:

  • Kim Crawford Small Parcel “The Mistress” Waipara Riesling 2006.  I was really impressed by this wine and their Small Parcel Pinot Noir.  These are special single vineyard wines.  The Riesling was pale lemony green.  Petrol, and lemon on the nose.  High acidity, almost bone dry, with petrol and lemon flavours.  It paired very nice with the La Sauvagine cheese.  And also with the Herb crusted Chicken Kiev.  The saltiness of the Chicken Kiev meshed nicely with the flavours of this wine.
  • Kim Crawford Small Parcel “The-Rise-and-Shine” Creek Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007 ($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.
  • Man O’War Vineyards Waiheke Island Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($23.99). This wine was very light lemon in colour.  Herbal and jalapeno pepper aromas. High acidity with more jalapeno and herbal flavours.  Light body, but long length.  Very nice.  Went very well with the creamy cheeses and also held up against the Alexis de Portneuf la Cendrillon ash goat cheese.
  • Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($19.99).  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.
  • Sacred Hill Brokenstone Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2006 ($39.99). Medium dark garnet in colour.  Ripe dark cherry and vanilla aromas in the glass.  Full body, round mouthfeel with medium drying tannins.  Ripe cherries and vanilla flavour, with a bit of spice on the finish.

Some other mentionable wines were:

  • Astrolabe Voyager Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 ($32.99). Light garnet in colour.  Light cherry and vanilla nose.  Light body with red cherry flavour and a bit of spice.  Medium length.
  • Astrolabe Voyager Marlborough Pinot Gris 2010 ($23.99). Perfumy, peach and citrus on the nose.  Light body with peach flavour.  Round in the mouth with medium length.  I enjoyed this with the 3 types of oysters on the half shell.
  • Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Chardonnay 2007 ($25.99).  A pale lemon colour with a green tint. Vanilla, oak and apple on the nose.  A full bodied wine.  Acidity upfront, which made it refreshing.  Cinnamon spice and apple flavours.  Round, but not too round as it had that nice acidic balance.  Very nice with the creamy cheeses.  Also I really enjoyed this with the sesame crusted tuna nigiri sushi.  It had a bit of smokiness to it that I enjoyed with the wine.
  • Man O’War Waiheke Island Cabernet Franc Malbec 2009 ($28.99). Deep purple in colour.  Vanilla and light cassis aromas.  Full body with ripe cassis, black cherries, and medium but soft tannins.  This wine paired with the smoky rubbed USDA prime striploin.
  • Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009 ($22.99). This wine had a light cherry / strawberry nose. Light body with cassis and ripe red cherry flavours.  Low tannins and medium length.  Nice weight and flavours.
  • Sacred Hill Sauvage Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2007 ($39.99).  This is a barrel fermented wine, which gives it a bit more body and complexity.  It also is fermented using indigenous yeasts, which is always interesting.  You are never sure how a wine is going to turn out, and in this case, it worked out nicely.  This wine was light lemon in colour, with lemon and petrol on the nose.  More petrol on the palate along with apple.  Medium plus acidity.  This wine paired nicely with the oysters on the half shell.
  • Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir 2009 ($19.99). Light strawberry nose.  Light body with lots of strawberry flavour.  Low tannins and medium acidity.  A nice little wine.

I enjoyed the Boathouse food a lot, the view at Kits Beach, and the great New Zealand wine.  Hopefully I’ve given you a few ideas of Kiwi wines that you would like to try. Enjoy!

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!