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

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Arts Club Theatre Company presents CHEFMEETSBCGRAPE!

ChefmeetsBCGrape

ChefmeetsBCGrape

If you have never attended the ChefmeetsBCGrape, now is your time to attend, to taste BC wine, taste fantastic food by our chefs, and help the Art’s Club Theatre Company!  Check out the announcement below. And buy your tickets!  There are multiple events.

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Vancouver, BC—The Arts Club’s ChefmeetsBCGrape fundraising series returns this September with three entertaining evenings that will feature fine BC wines and delectable cuisine pairings as well as incredible access to world-class winemakers and highly-trained chefs.

These events will be social, lively, and informative, and offer the perfect opportunity to showcase both the flourishing wine industry and innovative fine dining establishments in the province. All proceeds will benefit the Arts Club’s community engagement initiatives and youth-focused education programs.

The series opens with the ChefmeetsBCGrape Signature Tasting, which will feature an extensive selection of BC’s award-winning wines perfectly paired with dishes created by top BC chefs. The events continue with two more intimate evenings: the Uncorked Kitchen Party, a new event dedicated to the prolific Oliver and Osoyoos wine region followed by the decadent Mission Hill Family Estate Dinner. This final event will showcase reserve labels from the flagship Okanagan winery, accompanied by a menu of classic French-inspired cuisine.

DETAILED EVENT + TICKETING INFORMATION:

  • Presented in association with the Wines of British Columbia
    Wednesday, September 17, 7–9:30 PM
    : Chefmeets
    BCGrape Signature Tasting
    Vancouver Convention Centre East, 999 Canada Place, Vancouver
    Tickets: $85 (Groups of 8 or more: $80 per ticket)
    To purchase, visit artsclub.com/events/chefmeetsbcgrape or call the Box Office at 604.687.1644Guests will have the chance to discover lesser known BC VQA wines, taste old favourites, and talk one-on-one with skilled winemakers. More than 90 BC wineries will be pouring in excess of 350 wines. In addition, chefs from 15 restaurants will put out their finest culinary creations in the hopes of winning the Best Plate Pairing and Best Overall Dish awards. A silent auction will offer travel and entertainment packages as well as wine lots.
  • Presented in association with Oliver Osoyoos Winery Country
    Thursday, September 18, 7–10PM
    : Uncorked Kitchen Party
    Westside Grand, 1928 West Broadway, Vancouver
    Tickets: $95
    To purchase, visit artsclub.com/events/chefmeetsbcgrape or call the Box Office at 604.687.1644Part-tasting, part-interactive cooking demonstration, this evening will centre around three top chefs, all based in the South Okanagan, preparing elegant tasting plates. Each dish will be expertly paired with exclusive wines, and 10 proprietors will be on-hand to explain more about the winemaking process. A pop-up tasting room will be stocked with labels from over 30 wineries.
  • Tuesday, September 23, 6–9 PM: Mission Hill Family Estate Dinner
    Bistro Pastis, 2153 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver
    Tickets: $160 (with partial tax receipt)
    To purchase, contact specialevents@artsclub.com or call 604.687.5315, ext. 248The Mission Hill Family Estate is famed for producing award-winning wines in the heart of British Columbia’s pristine Okanagan Valley, one of the world’s most exciting wine regions. Featuring a four-course menu with wine pairings, the evening will be hosted by Steven Lane, Fine Wine Consultant for the winery, and include a chef’s demonstration by Bistro Pastis’ proprietor John Blakeley.

Mission Hill Winemaker’s Dinner at Bistro Pastis

Bistro Pastis

Bistro Pastis

Oculus, Quatrain, Perpetua; all top quality wines from Mission Hill winery in the Okanagan, and all being poured and paired with fantastic French cuisine at Bistro Pastis.   Read the note below by Bistro Pastis about the dinner, then phone before it sells out.  It should be a fantastic dinner. I think the bottles themselves if you were to buy them would be at least $250.  So a very good deal.

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Mission Hill Oculus

Mission Hill Oculus

The Okanagan Valley has gained an international reputation for the quality of its wines. Join us on Thursday March 28th for a very special dinner with Ingo Grady, Director of Wine Education for Mission Hill Winery, one of the region’s premier wineries. Executive Chef Tobias Grignon has designed an elegant menu to showcase these exceptional wines and will be demonstrating some of his techniques in making the dishes. Price for the evening is only $110 per person and includes: cocktail, five-course dinner, full wine pairing, taxes, gratuities along with presentations by Chef Tobias and Mr. Grady.

Book quickly at this event is sure to sell out, 604-731-5020.

Food and Wine Paired Menu

Cocktail: Sparkling Wine and Ice Wine

***** 1st Course *****

Salmon and Scallop Crudo
Apple, Chili, Thai Basil
Riesling Reserve Martins Lane 2011

***** 2nd Course *****

Prosciutto Wrapped Monkfish
Creamed Cabbage Grapefruit and Pistachio
Perpetua Chardonnay 2010

***** 3rd Course *****

Smoked Duck Breast, Crispy Duck Terrine
Red Beets, Sunchoke, Wild Mushrooms
Pinot Noir Reserve Martins Lane 2011

***** 4th Course *****

Slow Roasted Venison
Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts Smoked Barley Risotto, Mole Sauce
Quatrain 2009

***** Cheese Course *****

Idiazabal, Unpasteurized Sheep’s Milk Cheese, Two ways Custard and
Regular, Poached Dates, Brioche Tuile
Oculus 2009

$110.00, Cocktail, Food, Wine, Taxes and Service Included

Food Demonstration by Chef Tobias Grignon
Wine Presentation by the famous Ingo Grady Director of Wine Education

martins marvelous naturals #GF salami and cookies

I mentioned in my previous post on martin’s marvelous naturals crisps paired with wine that I would be covering other samples that I received. In this case it is their Fig Salami with apricots and chocolate and their Chocolate Chip Cookies. Luckily I inherited a chocolate chip cookie gene from my grandmother!

martins marvelous naturals fig salami and chocolate chip cookies

martins marvelous naturals fig salami and chocolate chip cookies

The Fig Salami

The salami is wrapped in a wax covering.  It was recommended to chill the salami in the fridge before slicing, which I did. A slice into the salami reveals a lot of texture.  You can seed the various seeds, plus chunks of organic, free trade chocolate chips.  The salami also has a wonderful smell of both figs and chocolate.

Peeling off the wax covering and taking my first bite, I got the crunch from the tiny fig seeds, plus the flavour of the fig, and the sunflower seeds.  The second bite had a chocolate chip in.  It is dark chocolate, with the characteristic bitterness of dark chocolate and no sweetness.  This salami is fun to eat.  I’d recommend having it as a dessert with guests after dinner.  Maybe pair a Late Harvest Riesling from Mission Hill or some other favourite BC winery.  Even some Tawny port may be a nice pairing too. My slice was about 1cm thick.  I think that is probably a good size.  I am not sure how it will affect your digestion if you eat too much at once (a veiled hint).

Thinking out loud, you may want to try to make a gluten free cookie with a slice of this in the centre, and two cookies on either side (like an Oreo type cookie arrangement).

Two chocolate chip cookies and a slice of salami

Two gluten free chocolate chip cookies and a slice of fig salami

The Chocolate Chip Cookies

Looking at these cookies, I cannot tell they are gluten free.  They smell nice and chocolately, plus some toastiness from the cookie.  It is not crumbly.  Holds together well.  The dark chocolate flavour is nice.  The flour part of the cookie has no sour or other odd taste that I sometimes get from other gluten free baked products, and the cookie is not too sweet (8g of sugar / cookie). The ingredients are straight forward: fair trade organic chocolate chips, pure oat flour, butter, fair trade organic sugar, buttermilk, baking soda, and sea salt.  Excellent.  I really am going to enjoy these cookies with my morning coffee (organic) and I hope you will too.

martin’s marvelous natural website for more info.

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!

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!

Banana Bread with Vidal Icewine Pairing

Today I made a batch of banana bread and thought about what to pair it with. Sifting through my memory, I thought that Mission Hill Winery’s Vidal Icewine (or their Late Harvest) would fit the bill. The Vidal grape has a honey and tropical fruit aroma and flavour. Banana from the banana bread is a tropical fruit, so it should mesh beautifully. While the bread is cooling, I am writing this article.

In case you would like to try this pairing, here is the recipe that I use for banana bread. It comes from the “Centennial Cookbook” and the recipe is by a lady named Lil Karpyshyn. I’ve made a few modifications, to make the recipe my own.

Picture courtesy of http://mdaras.com/lowgi/recipe/banana-bread/Banana Bread Recipe

1.25 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
dash of vanilla
3/4 cup oil (I use canola)
2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups mashed bananas (2.5 bananas)
1/4 cup raisins

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan. Beat sugar, eggs, and vanilla till creamy. Slowly add in oil. In a separate bowl, mix flour, making soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Slowly add flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix in the mashed bananas and the raisins. Pour into the loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes. Test with a toothpick. It should come out dry.

Indulge and enjoy with the Vidal Icewine!

Red Door #dineout Wine and Food Pairing was Delicious

Thursday night’s Dine Out Vancouver meal was at Red Door Pan Asian Grill on Granville (2996 Granville Street, http://www.reddoor.ca).  The menu I selected was:

  • Indonesian Chicken Satays Served with peanut and spicy plum sauce. (appetizer)
  • Spicy Ginger Beef Tender slices of crispy beef, spicy Thai chili peppers, served with Mongolian noodles and vegetables. (Main course)
  • Curry-Butterscotch Pot de Crème Buterscotch custard spiked with a mild curry and aged Scotch. Topped with chocolate ganache and rice pearls. (Dessert)

To pair with this food, Red Door was offering a flight of 3 red wines (2oz), consisting of: Sumac Ridge Black Sage Vineyard Merlot, Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and Red Rooster Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot blend. The Merlot was quite round with cherry fruit.  The Cabernet Sauvignon was much more full-bodied, heavier mouthfeel, with ripe cherry flavour.  The Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot blend I think was the lightest bodied of the three reds that evening.  Sorry it was quite dark in the restaurant, which is good for ambiance but makes it difficult to take detailed wine notes.

The satay chicken was ok.  The dipping sauce was interesting with ginger mixed in with the ground peanuts.  The Sumac Ridge Merlot was a nice pairing with the satay chicken.  It was not too heavy in flavour compared to the satay.

The Spicy Ginger Beef was deep fried slices of beef in a dark soy sauce with spice and a bit of sweetness.  The noodles had a bit of ginger in them.  The beef needed a full-bodied wine to handle the amount of flavour from this dish.  The perfect pairing was the Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  The fruit of the wine balanced out the spice of the beef, the tannins in the wine balanced against the bit of sweetness in the beef.

I didn’t have any of my three wines with the dessert.  The Curry-Butterscotch Pot de Crème was perfect on it’s own.  The hint of curry mixed with the butterscotch was remarkable, and topping it with the chocolate ganache and crunchy rice pearls was over the top. 

I recommend trying out Red Door Pan Asian Grill. Enjoy!

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!

Decadent Ice Cream and Wine!

I had a hankering for some ice cream today and I thought what flavour and/or toppings do I enjoy? I do love chocolate and anything with chocolate is wonderful, but there is something that is very simple, and simply wonderful to enjoy yourself, or with your friends to finish off a nice dinner.

What is it? French vanilla ice cream with Oculus Cherries. What are Oculus Cherries? We all know what cherries are, but maybe you do not know about Oculus.

Oculus is Mission Hill Family Estate’s signature Bordeaux-inspired red wine. John Simes the wine maker from Mission Hill in the Okanagan, BC has their premium grapes across their Okanagan vineyards handpicked, hand sorted and minimally handled in the best European fermenters and barrels. The 2006 vintage was the 10th year for their top level wine. The blend for the 2006 Oculus is 51% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot. A bottle of Oculus is around $90 a bottle.

A great wine with great aging potential. But you may not have $90 to buy a bottle of Oculus. But for a small amount of money, you can buy a jar of BC cherries preserved in Oculus wine. The sweetness of the cherries complement the fruit and tannins from the Oculus. It is decadent on it’s own, but even better on French Vanilla ice cream. You can buy Oculus cherries at the Mission Hill winery in West Kelowna, and at Artisan wine stores in the Vancouver lower mainland. There is one store that I go to in Burnaby at Metrotown shopping centre.

Give it a try for one of your Christmas party desserts. Cheers!