A Taste of the Le Vieux Pin and La Stella New Wine Releases

Earlier this week I attended a tasting of the latest wine releases by Le Vieux Pin and La Stella wineries. These two wineries are located in the Okanagan and belong to the same winery family. Mr. Rasoul Salehi, the Director of the two enotecca wineries, and their viticulturist/winemaker, Mrs. Severine Pinte. I spoke with Mrs. Pinte. She has started working with Le Vieux Pin and La Stella wineries approximately 7 months ago. She comes from the Langedoc region in France where she worked as one of the winemakers in a co-operative there. We spoke about fermentation with indigenous yeasts, blending wines, and her style of wine making. It was quite interesting.

The goals of this tasting by enotecca were to:

  • Focus on 2010 whites and rose (from Both Le Vieux Pin and LaStella) which be officially released mid-April
  • Launch of Le Vieux Pin’s Rhone Ranger Program
  • Sample a few Library examples from both Le Vieux Pin and LaStella to follow their evolution

There was a wide range of wines for everyone’s different tastes.  A few of my latest release picks are:

Le Vieux Pin Vaïla Pinot Noir Rosé 2010. 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.

Le Vieux Pin Sauvignon Blanc 2010. Lots of herbal and pine needle aromas and flavour.  Medium acidity with a long finish.  Very bright flavours.  A wine to enjoy with some shellfish this summer or maybe a Greek salad.

Le Vieux Pin Pinot Noir “Adieu” 2008.  This I have read from their website is the last vintage, thus the “Adieu” on the label. I really enjoyed this wine and hope they decide to bring back Pinot Noir in the future.  This wine had a light cherry and red delicious apple aroma.  Very dry with cherry, raspberry and vanilla flavour with a long length, and a dried cherry finish.

Le Vieux Pin Syrah 2008.  This is the start of Le Vieux Pin’s Rhone Ranger program (along with their Viognier-Roussanne which was also quite nice). The grapes for this syrah come from the Black Sage Road area in the Okanagan.  The vines are still young; 3-4 years.  This wine is medium garnet in the colour.  Earthy aroma along with dark fruit and smoky raspberries.  There is bright acidity right up front when you taste this wine.  Smoky raspberries and vanilla flavours with a long finish.  It will be interesting to see how the wines evolve as the vines mature.

La Stella Allegretto 2008. 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.

La Stella Leggiero Unoaked Chardonnay 2009. Light lemon colour.  Flowery and grapefruit aromas.  Quite an unusual nose, but very nice! Light body with lots of pink grapefruit flavour and a bit of almonds on the finish.  High acidity to keep the wine refreshing.  Long length.  I very nice wine.

La Stella Moscato d’Osoyoos 2010.  This wine has yet to be bottled, but will soon be.  Pale lemon colour.  Lots of orange and flowery aromas.  Some sweetness on the palate with lots of tangerine and mandarin orange flavours.  Light body with light acidity.  A fun wine to drink.

They also opened some of their library wines so we could see how their wines age. Some of my notes:

Le Vieux Pin Apogee Merlot 2005.  Deep purple red in the glass.  Cherry aroma wish slight raspberry and vanilla. Medium body with a fair amount of acidity to keep the wine bright and refreshing.  On the palate there was black cherries, oak, some leafiness, vanilla and then some smokiness on the finish. Still tastes like a young wine and I think can age a few more years without problem.

Le Vieux Pin Belle Pinot Noir 2005.  As I mentioned earlier, Le Vieux Pin has removed their pinot noir vines, so these wines represent what was once.  You can taste this wine and imagine being in the vineyard.  This wine had a slight earthy aroma to it.  High acidity with bright raspberry and some red cherry and vanilla flavours.  Medium length.  This is another wine that I think still has a few years of aging potential left.  I look forward to trying it again.

La Stella Maestoso Merlot 2006. This is a big wine.  Deep purple in colour with lots of tears on the side of the glass when swirled. Mushroom and red cherries on the nose.  Grippy tannins.  Cherry, dark fruit, a bit of leafiness to it, and some vanilla. Medium length.

I hope you have a chance to try out the Le Vieux Pin and La Stella wines, and visit them when you are on your summer holidays in the Okanagan. 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!

LaStella winery food, dinner and music @ YEW Restaurant, June 9

LaStella is the sister winery to Le Vieux Pin in the Okanagan. They produce some very nice wines, and are having a special wine, food, and music paired dinner at YEW Restaurant, next week, Wednesday, June 9. I’m passing this info along to you, as there are still tickets left. The music pairing with the food is also a unique experience!

LaStella is situated at Osoyoos Lake in the sunny South Okanagan valley of beautiful British Columbia. Just like music, LaStella likes to names their wine after Italian music notes, such as Allegreto, Vivace and Maestoso.

Join LaStella on Wednesday June 9th at 7pm at YEW Restaurant in the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel, Vancouver for a celebration of La Dolce Vita. They collaborated with the culinary team at YEW as well as Mrs. Robin Braun of Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) to pair each of our wines with a dish and a solo violin piece that captures the essence of the name given to each of their wines.

Think of their Leggiero Un-Oaked Chardonnay (meaning elegant and minimal) paired with raw fresh fish preparation, farm fresh salad while listening to “Come Primavera“{“Like Spring”} by Il Divo

Or

Maestoso Merlot (meaning majestic or a musical note that sits at the very top of the crescendo) paired with a rich, massively flavorful braised short ribs while listening to “Nessun dorma” by Puccini

How interesting! Very limited seating available. Please call Yew Restaurant directly to secure your spot for a night to remember… 604-692-4939

Le Vieux Pin Dinner

On Thursday, May 20, 2010, I was fortunate to attend the Le Vieux Pin Winemaker Dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver. The event was at the Market Restaurant in the hotel and the food was masterfully designed by Executive Chef Wayne Harris in consultation with Jean-Georges. Keeping to the blog format, I will keep my notes brief and will then provide more details in www.MyWinePal.com.

Rasoul Salehi, the Director of the enotecca wineries that owns Le Vieux Pin, led us through a tasting of white, red, and rose wines he has recently produced.  James Cambridge, the wine maker was unable to attend, but Rasoul is a very knowlegable man about wine and very interesting to hear speak.  Rasoul also brought a small barrel of a new wine for Le Vieux Pin, his 2008 Syrah / Viognier. For those that do not know, Syrah is a red grape, while Viognier is a white grape. Both varieties come from the Rhone Valley in France. Syrah is a bold, spicy grape, while viognier is very flowery and aromatic. In the Rhone Valley, one of their traditions is to co-ferment Syrah is a bit of viognier. The viognier helps bring out more colour from the Syrah grape skin and adds more perfume to the wine. I applaud James for trying this in the Okanagan.

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. When this wine is released to the public it will be in the $32-$35 range. Well worth the price. This wine was paired with homemade, melt in your mouth, gnocchi, with morel mushrooms, black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. The black pepper seemed to bring out the fruit in the syrah.

To start the evening we had the 2009 Vaila Pinot Noir Rose, paired with egg caviar. The Pinot Noir grapes were picked at a ripeness that Rasoul felt did not bring out the tannins of the grapes. Some wineries, when they produce rose wines, use fully ripened red grapes, which have partial contact between skin and juice, then some of the juice is bled off to produce the rose wine, but this also allows the tannins to be imparted to the rose. Rasoul by choosing to pick earlier indicated that the tannin level can be minimized, making a smoother rose. This wine had fresh raspberries and medium cherry aromas. More fresh strawberry and red cherry on the palate with low tannins. Good crisp acidity. The egg caviar was a wonderful mixture of salty, creamy and eggy flavours that blended nicely with the rose.

There are many other wines to talk about from this evening: 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, 2007 Epoque Merlot, 2007 Apogee Merlot, and 2009 LaStella’s Moscato d’Osoyoos, and of course their food pairings. Check on http://www.MyWinePal.com for the full review.

Enjoy!

Winemaker’s Dinner with Le Vieux Pin

I don’t normally post on my blog about an upcoming Winemaker’s Dinner, but today I make an exception. I’ve sampled some of Le Vieux Pin’s wines from previous tastings, and I think that they are exceptional. I heard about their upcoming dinner, which will be held on Thursday, May 20, so I wanted to share the info with you, to give you a chance to sample their wines, paired expertly with food from Executive Chef Wayne Harris at the Shangri-La Hotel here in Vancouver.

Here is a copy of the invitation to attend this event:

Thursday, May 20th at 7pm in MARKET by Jean-Georges at Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver
Amuse Bouche followed by a four course dinner, prepared by Executive Chef Wayne Harris and paired with Le Vieux Pin’s current releases.

Le Vieux Pin will be bringing a barrel from their winery in Oliver to showcase a future release.

A majestic old pine tree stands in our vineyard: Le Vieux Pin. It speaks to the earth and rain and the clean clear air of the South Okanagan. There we have created a winery inspired by the architecture and style of France.

Our goal is to make wines that capture the essence of the French tradition; but with the fruit and character of the New World: elegant and focused, with great intensity of fruit. Low-input viticulture is the method we use to get there. Sustainable and organic practices, deficit irrigation, high-density planting and extremely low yields will allow the vines to show us who they really are deep down to the roots. The pine tree stands alone.

Sante!
Seating is limited $95.00/seat
Please make your reservation with our Hostess Team
604.695.1115 marketbyjg.slv@shangri-la.com

Enjoy!

A Taste of LaStella Wines

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} catch(err) {}LaStella Winery is one of the new wineries in the Okanagan, opening it’s doors in May 2007. It has a sister winery, which you may have heard of called Le Vieux Pin. I was recently invited to a tasting of LaStella’s wines in Yaletown and was very impressed with their wines. LaStella operates their vineyards with a cross between organic and biodynamic practices. They also contract grapes from like minded, quality growers (which I will talk about shortly). They also take great care in the production of the wine, from hand-destemming grapes, to using whole berries for fermentation and using small open-top oak fermentors.

LaStella has both white, rose, and red wines. The two white wines I tried was the Leggiero Unoaked Chardonnay 2008 and the Vivace Pinot Grigio 2008. The Leggiero and Vivace grapes come from the Kalala vineyard. For those that have read my past posts, the Kalala Organic Winery in West Kelowna has produced some wonderful organic wines at a great price point. They also told me that they sell some of their grapes to other wineries. So I was VERY happy to see that LaStella is one of those wineries.

The Leggario had nice mango and pineapple aromas. It was medium body, with light acidity, lime and mineral flavours. The Vivace is a gorgeous, refreshing pinot grigio. It has a crisp citrus and pineapple nose. Good acidity, with pineapple, lime, and mineral flavours. Next I moved on to the Lastellina Rose 2008. This is a merlot based rose. It has a nice salmon colour and a ripe strawberry nose. It is medium bodied, with some spice (cinnamon), and strawberry flavour.

There were 3 reds to enjoy. I found out that the reds are all un-fined and un-filtered, which gives you the closest to a barrel sample experience as possible. The red first was the Allegretto Merlot 2006. It was medium garnet in colour. Ripe plums and light oak on the nose. Medium body and tannins, with black cherry flavours. Their premier wine that evening was the Maestoso Merlot 2006. This wine was deep garnet in colour. Ripe black fruit, cigar box and mocha nose. Ripe black fruit, cherries and mocha flavour, with a cherry finish. The tannins were very fine. This is an exceptional wine. Last but not least was the Fortisimo 2007. This wine will soon be bottled, so we were treated with a sneak taste of this wine. The Fortisimo is a Bordeaux blend, with approximately 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc. This wine had a very complex nose and aroma. I unfortunately did not take detailed notes on this wine, but it had many flavour dimensions and a long finish.

What’s upcoming for LaStella? I heard that they have Sangiovese grapes planted and will be harvesting them to blend with other red varietals to offer their first “Super Tuscan“. I joked that maybe it should be a “Super Okanagan“. Either way, I look forward to trying this wine. Enjoy!