Holding Court at Church and State Wines

It has been long overdue.  A trip to Vancouver Island, and to visit some Island wineries.  I have enjoyed wines from Church & State for the past few years, but have never been to their winery in the Brentwood Bay area of Vancouver Island. They also have a winery in the Oliver area.  At Brentwood Bay they grow the wine grapes to produce their sparkling wines and some white wines, while the red wines and some white wines are produced at the Oliver area winery.

I’ve written about their Chardonnay in the past and was lucky to try a sample at this tasting as well. Their Chardonnay 2008 has won Double Gold at both the San Francisco International Wine Festival 2010 and the All Canadian Wine Championships 2010, and a Silver at the Challenge International de Vin in France. This wine comes from 2 vineyards in Oliver. It is medium lemon in colour.  Nice nutmeg and lemon aromas.  Round mouth feel with medium body and softness on the palate.  Low acidity.  Very elegant.

The Pinot Gris 2009 comes from Estate grapes at Brentwood Bay. Pale lemon in colour.  Oak, lemon and peach on the nose. Peachy, sweet spice and almond flavours. Medium length. Nice.

Their Pinot Noir 2007 – Hollenbach comes from Skaha Lake grapes in the Okanagan. This is another Gold medal winner from the Canadian Wine awards 2009 and the Okanagan Fall Festival 2010, and several other awards. Light raspberry and tarry aromas. Light body with tea leaves, strawberries and cinnamon flavours.  Soft in the mouth with a dry long finish. Very nice.

The Merlot 2009 is medium garnet in colour. Light cherry, oak, and spicy aromas. Medium body with lots of plummy and black cherry flavours.  A bit of flowers and spice on the finish. Medium acidity and tannins.

The Meritage 2006 is a blend of three Bordeaux varietals – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Deeper garnet in colour.  A very wild nose!  Animal and overripe black fruit. Meaty, animal and black cherry flavours with medium tannins.  A very masculine wine.  Have a big slab of roast beef with this wine.

Their Quintessential 2007 Bordeaux blend is coming out this week.  Drop by their Brentwood Bay winery for a taste for Mothers Day, or check your local wine shop for the arrival of this wine.  It has wine a Gold medal at the Challenge International de Vin in France.  Enjoy!

Lulu Island Winery Spring 2011 Wine Release Party

April 9 and 10, 2011 was the Spring Wine Release Party at Lulu Island Winery, located in Richmond, BC. This was not a release of all their new vintages .There were three fruit wines released, one of which is a brand new fruit wine for me. The three fruit wines I tasted were:

  • Raspberry 2008 ($15.95)
  • Cranberry 2007 ($16.95)
  • Passion Fruit 2006 ($18.95)

The raspberries and cranberries are sourced locally. The raspberries coming from Abbotsford and the cranberries from Richmond. I haven’t seen any passion fruit trees growing locally, and found out the fruit for this wine came from Taiwan in pulp format.

All three fruit wines have sweetness between 2 and 4, so you would think you would be tasting quite sweet libations, but you would be wrong. These three wines have nice tart acidity that balances out the sugar.

The Raspberry 2008 is deep garnet in colour with aromas of juicy raspberries and floweriness. Dry mouthfeel with sour raspberry flavour. This was a nice pairing with some ripe strawberries at the tasting.

The Cranberry 2007 had red cherry and cranberry aromas. Sour red cherry and cranberry flavour. Medium length. Also good with the strawberries.

The Passion Fruit 2006 had a very intriguing aromas and flavours. This wine had a beautiful golden colour in the glass.  How do you describe passion fruit aroma and flavour to someone that has not grown up with this fruit?  My initial stab at a description was honey, peach and ripe topical fruit.  The wine also had a dried raisin flavour to it too.  Very dry with medium body.  Lots of pucker power with this wine.  Good crisp acidity.

While I was there, I thought I’d try two of the red wines which I had before.  The Lulu Island Cabernet Franc 2009 ($24.95) was deep garnet in colour.  Slight cedar on the nose along with red cherries.  On the palate it was soft in the mouth with ripe red cherries, vanilla and cedar flavours.  Low tannins and medium length.  A very enjoyable wine.

The Lulu Island Meritage 2009 ($31.95) is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot.  It had a dark fruit nose.  Quite round mouthfeel. Cherries, raspberries and vanilla on the palate.  Soft tannins with some spice on the finish.  Another nice wine.

Lulu Island’s current vintages of Merlot 2009, Pinot Noir 2009, and Blueberry wines are SOLD OUT.  Their Late Harvest Merlot stock is low.  Take a weekend trip to Lulu Island Winery.  They are in Richmond so not too far to go for Vancouverites.  Be a tourist in your own city.  Enjoy!

Have You Been to Lulu Island Winery? @LuluIslandWine

Living in Vancouver, you may not realize that there are many wineries in Richmond and the Fraser Valley. Lulu Island Winery, located in Richmond, started it’s life as Blossom Winery producing fruit wines, and now has blossomed into Lulu Island winery, producing a wide range of grape and fruit wines. They celebrated their Grand Opening at the new winery July 3, 2009. I attended the Grand Opening and have the review of that great day here.

For my current tasting and tour, I was met by Heather Turnbull from Lulu Island Winery.  We started off viewing part of the vineyards that are behind the winery building.  There were a few different varieties planted.  One for sure was pinot noir, which they think will do well in our cool, maritime climate.   The fermentation room with the gleaming stainless steel tanks were next.  When I was first there in 2009 at the Grand Opening they had 3 tanks.  Now there were around 10 tanks (sorry I did not count the exact amount).  So things are progressing well for Lulu Island winery.  It is nice to see success.

Before moving on to the tasting, the last thing Heather showed me, and talked to me about was the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. During the Olympics, Lulu Island winery was the Chinese Olympic Delegation house “China House“.  Various Chinese products and producers were at the winery, along with athletes, food, and more, to help promote China to everyone celebrating the Olympic Games.  There were a few remnants of the Games left there still; some red lanterns, and a display showing the Chinese athletes’ outfits.  I really enjoyed the Olympics.  I was a volunteer, working at the curling centre.  I did see the Chinese women’s team play against Team Canada.

Now for the wine tasting.  I tasted 11 different wines, but to keep to blogging brevity, I’ll outline a few of my favourites.  Their Gewurztraminer 2009 ($16.97) is light lemon in colour.  Off-dry with lychee and sweet red apple flavours.  Medium- body and medium length.  An easy sipper.  My overall favourite red wine is their Petit Verdot 2009 ($18.95).  Medium purple in colour.  Rich cassis nose.  Rich, ripe cassis and cherry flavours.  Medium body.  Vanilla on the mid palate.  Medium length with a light bit of spice on the finish.  The winemaker’s favorite wine is his Meritage 2009 ($31.95). The Meritage is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. It is deep garnet coloured in the glass.  Bright cassis and fruit on the nose.  Lots of cherries on the palate.  Slightly herbal, with vanilla and oak flavours as well.  Medium tannins with a dry cherry finish.  If you like sweeter wines, you may want to try their Iceder ($31.95).  This is a blend of apple cider and ice wine.  This had a medium golden colour.  Nice apple aromas.  Very round mouthfeel and velvety. Good acidity to balance the sugar, making a refreshing apple flavoured wine with a long finish.  Give it a try.

I hope you get a chance to visit Lulu Island winery.  It’s nearby, so try it for a Saturday or Sunday weekend visit.  Enjoy!