BC Wine Appreciation Society 10th Anniversary Gala – Get Your Tickets

Do you love BC wine, or want to try BC wine?  Here is a great chance at the 10th Anniversary Gala of the BC Wine Appreciation Society.   Their announcement is below.  Enjoy!

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BC Wine Appreciation Society logo10th Anniversary Gala-Over 45 Wineries – April 16/15

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.

Tuna Brochettes BBQ and Wine Pairing

Tuna brochettes image courtesy of Discover Beaujolais

I saw this recipe on the News by Beaujolais newsletter and thought it sounded like it is worth trying instead of sticking with chicken, pork, or beef on the BBQ. This recipe comes compliments of The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. Discover Beaujolais recommends to pair it with a 2009 Beaujolais Blanc below. I’ll give a few of my picks too.

Tuna Brochettes

Ingredients (serves four):

  • 1-1/2 pounds fresh tuna, cut into 2″ chunks
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges

Marinade

  • 1/4 cup fruity olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation:

Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl until smooth. Add the tuna, fennel, and red onion, and turn in the marinade. Cover loosely, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Prepare hot coals for grilling.
On four large metal skewers, thread the tuna chunks alternately with pieces of fennel and onion.
Oil the grill, and cook over medium heat about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Tuna must be grilled quickly, since it will dry out badly if overcooked – so watch it carefully. Serve immediately.

Discover Beaujolais suggests trying the 2009 Château de Pizay Beaujolais Blanc, a crisp white Beaujolais using 100% Chardonnay grapes. With summer, I’d like to also suggest a rose or a riesling.  A few of my recommendations are:

  • Olivares Jumilla Rose 2010, Spain. Bright cherry colour. Light cherry nose.  Light body with ripe red cherries and strawberry flavours. Medium acid and low tannins. Very refreshing. Highly recommended.
  • Le Vieux Pin Vaïla Pinot Noir Rosé 2010, BC. Light pinkish salmon colour. Raspberries and strawberry fruit on the nose with a bit of raspberry leaf as well.  Off dry with light body and medium acidity.  Quite nice strawberry flavour with some almonds on the finish.  The grapes for this wine come from one of the organic Kalala vineyards in West Kelowna.
  • La Frenz Andrew Vineyard Riesling 2009, BC, is light lemon in colour. Flowery and apple aromas. Good acidity with a bit of residual sugar. Red apple and citrus flavours. Elegant.
  • Kim Crawford Small Parcel “The Mistress” Waipara Riesling 2006, New Zealand.  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.

Enjoy!

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!

My Favorite Wines in 2010 – MyWinePal Blog Selection

Wines change yearly with each new vintage. That’s one thing that makes tasting wine exciting. What wines did I try this past year, 2010, that made my favorite list?  I went through the list and noted that I recommended approximately 111 different wines this year.  The wines below are the ones I’ve selected from my BLOG.  I also have a wine selection from my main MyWinePal.com website.  I’ll post that separately.

From the 111 different wines my favorites for 2010 are:

White Wine

Domaine Comte-Senard Corton-Charlemagne 2006 (Burgundy). This wine was medium to deep lemon in the glass. Lemon vanilla, wood, and butterscotch on the nose. Medium body, with lemon, woody, earthy, and nutmeg aromas. Quite complex. Medium acidity which nicely balanced the fruit in this wine.

Jackson Estate Stich Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Marlborough, NZ) is a very elegant wine. Oak, lemon and herbal on the nose. Big legs from a higher alcohol content, but the wine is balanced by the fruit so not hot on the palate. It does have nice herbal and lemon flavours with good acidity, not too strong.

Church & States Wines Chardonnay 2007 (BC) is medium lemon colour. Nice apricot nose. Vanilla, sweet spice, pineapple and apricot flavours, with a bit of spice. Lots of flavours coming out the glass the more you swirled it around in your mouth.

Van Westen Vineyards Vivacious 2008 (BC) is Pinot Blanc with a hint of Pinot Gris, again has peachy fruit as well as some apricot aromas. Good acidity. Peach and apricot flavours with a touch of greenness.

La Frenz Andrew Vineyard Riesling 2009 (BC), is light lemon in colour. Flowery and apple aromas. Good acidity with a bit of residual sugar. Red apple and citrus flavours. Elegant.

Sperling Vineyards Pinot Gris 2008 (BC). This is a new winery in Kelowna, BC. No tasting room yet, but they are located near the Tantalus winery. Pale lemon in colour. A very nice nose with grapefruit and flowers. Medium body, high acidity, with flavours of lemon rind, flowers and some spice.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Chardonnay 2008 (Washington) was very elegant.  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.

Red Wine

Howling Bluff Estate Pinot Noir 2008 (BC). New world style, with ripe strawberry and cherry aromas with a bit of sweet spice and vanilla. Silky on the palate with vanilla, cherry, and raspberry flavours.

Dominique Laurent Chambolle-Musigny “Les Charmes” 1er Cru (Burgundy). I was told that Dominique Laurent is a bit of a controversial producer in Burgundy in that he buys wine and “elevates” it through the use of oak aging before bottling. His wines have his stamp or “signature” on them. Some enjoy having a wine with a certain style, while others do not. I did enjoy this wine. It was deep garnet in colour. Complex nose with dark cherry, liquor, slight smoke and vanilla aromas. Drying tannins but very fine grained. Medium body. Cherry flavour with slight spice on the finish.

Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux AOC 2007 (Bordeaux). This wine was a blend of 60% Merlot / 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was deep purple coloured in the glass. Meaty, dark cherry, cassis, and vanilla aromas. Full bodied, with ripe cherries, vanilla, and medium fine tanning. It had a very nice cherry finish and a long length.

Chateau de Gironville, Haut-Medoc AOC 2007 (Bordeaux) is a blend of 45% Merlot / 45% Cabernet Sauvignon / 10% Petit Verdot. Opaque purple in the glass (courtesy of the Petit Verdot). A very aromatic nose. Lots of coffee of black cherry. On the palate you get firm tannins, with black cherry, coffee, and vanilla flavours. Full body with long length.

Vina Maipo Syrah (Chile).  It is 85% Syrah with 15% Carmenere.  Deep purple in colour.  An interesting nose with vanilla, rubber and purple fruit.  Dry tannins.  Blueberries show up mid-palate, and cherries on the finish.  A bit of pepper and vanilla.  It has good tannic structure for the fruit to hang.

Ata Rangi ‘Crimson’ Pinot Noir 2008 (Waiparapa – New Zealand). Light cherry colour. Raspberry aroma. Red cherry and raspberry flavours. Soft tannins. Very elegant.

Panther Creek Freedom Hill Pinot Noir 2006 (Oregon) is light cherry coloured. Smoky, strawberry aromas. Earthy, cherry flavours, with a bit of spiciness and low tannins.

Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir (New Zealand) was medium garnet in the glass. A very pretty raspberry and plum nose. Raspberry, leafy, cherry flavours. Slightly spicy. Silky on the palate.

Le Vieux Pin Syrah / Viognier 2008 (BC). This Syrah / Viognier was deep purple in the glass, with aromas of vanilla, blueberry, plum and honeysuckle. On the palate you get ripe plum, black cherry and vanilla. Quite spicy, round in the mouth and long length.

Man O’ War Merlot / Cabernet / Franc / Malbec 2008 (New Zealand). The blend for this wine is 42% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc, 19% Malbec, and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium purple/garnet in colour. Smoky with black cherry and tar aromas. Black cherry, cassis, and vanilla flavours. It was medium plus in body with medium silky tannins and good acidity to balance the fruit. Very nicely done. It had a long length with a dry cherry finish. A quality wine that coated the glass.

Travaglini Giancarolo Gattinara DOCG 2005 (Italy) was a light cherry / tea colour in the glass. Tea leaves, strawberries, cedar and slight oak on the nose. Light body, with medium mouthfeel. Good fruit, with flavours of plum and cherries. The tannins were firm but refined. Dry finish with medium length.

La Frenz Reserve Pinot Noir 2008. (BC). This wine won a Silver in the Northwest Wine Summit this year, and two Gold medals at the Northwest Wine Summit in 2009. It had a nice smoky, strawberry nose with a hint of oak. Light body with strawberry and cherry flavours. Silky with low tannins. Long length with a cherry finish. Buy it before it is all sold out.

Nicol Vineyards Syrah 2008 (BC) is opaque purple in the glass. Vanilla and sweet dark fruit nose. Raspberries, red cherries, blueberries and a bit of minerality on the palate. Soft tannins. I do enjoy a syrah when the blueberry characteristic of the grape is detectable.

Bodega Noemia J Alberto 2008 (Argentina). This is a single vineyard Malbec. The vineyard and winery is certified biodynamic. This wine is deep purple in the glass. A very interesting nose with aromas of cassis, tar and cherries. Full bodied with a smooth round mouthfeel. Cassis, black plum, black cherry and quite spicy on the palate.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Washington).  Ethos is the top tier wine level from Chateau Ste Michelle.  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.

Fortified / Dessert Wine

Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica Riesling Ice Wine 2006 (Washington). 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.  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.

Sparkling Wine

Moreson, Blanc de Blancs Brut Method Cap Classic, South Africa. This is 100% Chardonnay. A very fine bubble. Red apple, citrus, light spice and bready flavour. Long finish. Nice.

Enjoy this selection and stay tuned for my next blog article, where I will cover my wine selections from the main MyWinePal.com website.

What’s my favourite wine?

People ask me quite often, what’s my favourite wine, or what is my favourite wine from a specific region or country.  Do you get that too?  What do you say?

My response is that I have too many favourite wines, which is true.  The thing about wine, is that every vintage is different.  Some years are hot and dry, others are cool and wet, and everything in between.  This makes every vintage unique.  So one year I may like a cabernet sauvignon from one producer, but next year, I may prefer a cab from a different producer.  That’s the beauty of wine.  In this case, I do have a few wineries that I enjoy their wines each vintage.

Some countries have less variability in climate, so the wines are closer in style, body, flavour each year.  Examples would be the Barossa Valley in Australia, or the Colchagua Valley in Chile.  Some producers are Haan, Penfolds, and Thorn-Clarke in Australia, and Montgras, Casa Lapostolle, and Montes in Chile.

Most places do not have the luxury of a predictable climate with a long growing season.  Most areas in France, Canada, and the Pacific Northwest have significant climate variability each year.  So I could list just about every winery I know in this category.  Some wineries do seem to produce better quality wines, due to their vineyard management and their fermentation process and aging.  Those would be a good bet to try for each new vintage.  Other wineries can have an exceptional year and those are the unique finds that are fun to hear about and try, because it would only be around for that vintage.  Some wineries in BC that I really like are La Frenz, Quails’ Gate, Le Vieux Pin, La Stella, Osoyoos LaRose, Tantalus, Mission Hill, Tinhorn Creek, and many more.

So for the cooler climate wines, I’d say the best is to check with the www.MyWinePal.com website for my wine reviews, and check other well-known wine bloggers for their reviews, then go try out some wines.  You may also want to  consider attending wine tastings put on by wine societies in your city.  Here in Vancouver we have the South World Wine Society, the BC Wine Appreciation Society, and many others. Enjoy!

Simply Red – Naramata Bench wine tasting review

This past week the Naramata Bench wineries had their “Simply Red” tasting. And you guessed it, red wines only! The red wines from this stretch of land, just north of Penticton on the east side of the lake produce some very nice red and white wines. If you ever go for a wine tour in the Okanagan, the wineries along this stretch of the Naramata Bench are quite close together, so it is easy to do several wineries in one day. Plus if you would rather not drive your car, it is an easy bicycle ride.

The red wines for this tasting were primarily the 2008 vintage, although there were a few 2007 also. Some of the wines were bottled a few weeks before this event. I did not notice any bottle shock though. All the wines I tasted were all technically made well.

I usually like to try Pinot Noirs first as they are the lightest bodied wines, then taste Merlots, Syrahs, and Cabernets. There were three pinot noirs that I particularly liked: La Frenz Reserve Pinot Noir 2008, Lake Breeze Seven Poplars Pinot Noir 2008, and Nicol Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008.

The La Frenz Reserve Pinot Noir 2008 (and their other wines) was top notch. This wine won a Silver in the Northwest Wine Summit this year, and two Gold medals at the Northwest Wine Summit in 2009. It had a nice smoky, strawberry nose with a hint of oak. Light body with strawberry and cherry flavours. Silky with low tannins. Long length with a cherry finish. Buy it before it is all sold out.

Lake Breeze is also a premium producer of wines in the Okanagan. They are most well known for their Pinot Blanc, but they also make very good red wines. The Lake Breeze Seven Poplars Pinot Noir 2008, was light cherry in colour. Vanilla and strawberry aromas. A very nice nose. On the palate it was medium bodied, with strawberries, raspberries and cherry flavours. Quite spicy. Well done.

The Nicol Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008 had gone through a partial malolactic fermentation (MLF) to change the harsher malic acids in the wine to softer lactic acids. Many red wines go through this secondary fermentation to soften them up. This wine was very pale cherry colour in the glass. A really nice red cherry and vanilla nose. Light body, with bright cherry flavours in your mouth. Slightly spicy with some vanilla notes too. Dry with low tannins. A classic style New World Pinot Noir.

You can’t go wrong with any of those Pinot Noir. As for the fuller bodied reds, I have four recommendations:
Lake Breeze Seven Poplars Merlot 2008
– Nicol Vineyards Syrah 2008
– La Frenz Rockyfeller Vineyard Shiraz 2008
– D’Angelo Sette Coppa 2005

As I mentioned earlier, Lake Breeze makes wonderful wines. Case in point is their Merlot. The Lake Breeze Seven Poplars Merlot 2008 is medium garnet in colour. Vanilla, plum, with a slight bit of capsicum and mocha on the nose. Full bodied mouthfeel, with black and red cherries, vanilla, and a bit of minerality. Soft tannins with a medium length.

The Nicol Vineyards Syrah 2008 is opaque purple in the glass. Vanilla and sweet dark fruit nose. Raspberries, red cherries, blueberries and a bit of minerality on the palate. Soft tannins. I do enjoy a syrah when the blueberry characteristic of the grape is detectable.

The La Frenz Rockyfeller Vineyard Shiraz 2008 won a Gold medal at the All Canadian Wine Championships 2010. This is a very elegant wine. Deep garnet in colour. Blueberry, raspberry and vanilla aromas. Medium body and mouthfeel. Cherry and vanilla flavours.

The D’Angelo Sette Coppa 2005 I think is the oldest vintage wine during this tasting. The Sette Coppa 2005 won a Silver medal at the 2008 Canadian Wine Awards. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Verdot, and Malbec. It is primarily Cabernet Franc and Merlot, with lesser amounts of the other grape varieties. Light garnet in the glass. Tarry, cassis and black cherry aromas. Cassis, cherry, chocolate and vanilla on the palate with some spiciness. Medium length with firm tannins kicking in on the finish. Enjoy with some grilled meat.

I hope you have a chance to enjoy a few of these picks from the Simply Red Naramata Bench tasting. Enjoy!

Naramata Bench Spring Wine Release 2010

Just a week before the huge Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival opens, I attended a much more low-key, but very enjoyable, event: the Naramata Bench Spring Wine Release 2010.

This is the second time I’ve attended this event. Last year I came upon a new winery to me called, Van Westen Vineyards, where their wines beguiled me. So this year, the first winery I went to see was Van Westen, as I was not disappointed. Their 2008 Vino Grigio and their 2008 Vivacious whites and their 2006 Voluptuous are highly recommended. The Vino Grigio 2008, is of course Pinot Gris. It had a light peach and melon nose. Good acidity with more peach and melon on the palate. The Vivacious 2008 is Pinot Blanc with a hint of Pinot Gris, again has peachy fruit as well as some apricot aromas. Good acidity. Peach and apricot flavours with a touch of greenness. Their Voluptuous 2006 is a barrel aged blend of 67% Merlot and 33% Cabernet Franc. Deep garnet in colour. Very ripe plums and black fruit aromas. Medium body, black ripe fruit, plums, black cherry flavours with drying tannins.

Other notable wines are the La Frenz Merlot 2007, La Frenz Andrew Vineyard Riesling 2009, La Frenz Sonoran Vineyard Chardonnay 2009, Lake Breeze Seven Poplars Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Lake Breeze Gewurztraminer 2009, Therapy Merlot 2008, and Howling Bluff Estate Pinot Noir 2008. I’m sure there are more wines, but I only had 1.5 hours at the tasting room.

The La Frenz Merlot 2007 was deep garnet in the glass. A very nice nose, with sweet black cherry aroma. Sweet, black cherry flavour with a hint of vanilla. Very smooth on the palate. Outstanding.

The La Frenz Andrew Vineyard Riesling 2009, is light lemon in colour. Flowery and apple aromas. Good acidity with a bit of residual sugar. Red apple and citrus flavours. Elegant.

Hmm, 3 La Frenz in a row. I must also like La Frenz’s wines alot too! The La Frenz Sonoran Vineyard Chardonnay 2009 was light lemon colour in the glass. Vanilla and nutmeg aromas. Lots of flavour on the palate of apple, oak and pineapple. Very creamy with medium acidity.

Lake Breeze is also a consistent producer in the Okanagan. The Lake Breeze Seven Poplars Sauvignon Blanc 2009 has citrus and slight herbal aromas. High acidity, with citrus and gooseberry flavours. Eat with fresh seafood.

The Lake Breeze Gewurztraminer 2009 is very pale coloure. But has a wonderful lychee and rose petals aromas. Off dry, with medium acidity. Lychee and red delicous apple flavours.

The Therapy Merlot 2008has a lot of leather, coffee, cherry and plum aromas. On the palate there is more of the coffee and cherry flavour, accompanied by some chocolate. Medium tannins. Quite different from the La Frenz Merlot. Maybe buy one of each and do a side-by-side comparison?

Last, one of my favourite Pinot Noirs in the Okanagan is the Howling Bluff Estate Pinot Noir 2008. New world style, with ripe strawberry and cherry aromas with a bit of sweet spice and vanilla. Silky on the palate with vanilla, cherry, and raspberry flavours.

I hope you have a chance to try some of these wines, either here, or even better over in the Naramata Bench at the wineries’ cellar doors. Enjoy!