Wines of Chile Presents Dish n’ Dazzle – Get Your Tix

dish n dazzleDish ‘n Dazzle returns! On Thursday, May 30 at the Pan Pacific Hotel (999 Canada Place), The BC Hospitality Foundation  and  Wines of Chile present a spectacular night of food, wine, and cocktails, that is sure to delight and entertain. 19 wineries from across Chile’s diverse wine regions will pair up with food from 12 of Vancouver’s best restaurants and a high-stakes cocktail competition will ensure things stay spirited!   The cocktail competition event will  feature custom cocktails created some by some of the finest mixologists in BC.  Guests will have a chance to taste these new drinks and be on-hand as a winner is announced. A large silent auction and raffle will round out the evening.

Chilean Wineries to Expect

Errazuriz winery in Chile

Errazuriz winery in Chile

The wineries attending will be:

  • Viña Carmen
  • Cono Sur
  • Concha y Toro
  • Viña Maipo
  • Montes
  • Car Men Air (Terraustral)
  • San Pedro
  • Ventisquero
  • Errazuriz
  • Santa Rita
  • Vinedos Emiliana
  • Koyle
  • Terra Andina
  • Santa Carolina
  • Undurraga
  • Casas del Bosque
  • J.Bouchon
  • Viña Falernia
  • Casa Marin

I’ve tasted the wines from most of these wineries, and visited several of them on my trip to Chile, and I can vouch for the quality of the wines you will taste.  You should take a wide range of wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Syrah and more!

If you are interested in reading about my trip to Chile, here are my blog postings:

Where, When and How Much?

Date: Thursday, May 30, 2013
Time: 6:30PM – 9:30PM
Location: Pan Pacific Hotel, 999 Canada Place, Vancouver

Price $77.95 / person includes handling charge.

Advertisements

A Few Quick Chilean Wines from Thursday’s Vancouver Playhouse Wine Fest

Andrés Ilabaca from Santa Rita winery

Today, Thursday, is the first day of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, International Festival Tasting room. I decided to spend most of my time tasting Chilean wines as Chile is the theme country, so there will be many wines brought in specially for this event. Besides tasting I also had a chance to chat with some of the winery principals like Andrés Ilabaca from Vina Santa Rita.

If you are going out to the Tasting Room on Friday or Saturday night, here are a few quick picks:

  • Canepa Reserva Privada Sauvignon Blanc 2011
  • Concha y Toro Gravas del Maipo Syrah 2008
  • Emiliana Vineyards Novas Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
  • Emiliana VineyardsWinemaker’s Selection Chardonnay / Viognier / Marsanne / Rousanne 2010 (This wine really impressed me.)
  • Vina Errazuriz Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011
  • Vina Errazuriz Don Maximiano 2008
  • Lapostolle Casa Chardonnay 2011
  • Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
  • Miguel Torres Cordillera Chardonnay 2011
  • Vina Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2010
  • Vina Quintay Clava Pinot Noir 2010
  • Vina San Pedro 1865 Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
  • Vina San Pedro Cabo de Hornos 2007
  • Vina Santa Rita Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2011
  • Vina Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
  • Vina Arboleda Sauvignon Blanc 2011

    Emiliana selection of wines

  • Sena 2008
  • Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
  • Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva Carmenere 2010
  • Vina Ventisquero Vertice Syrah Carmenere 2007
  • Veramonte Reserva Pinot Noir 2009
  • Veramonte Neyen Carmenere / Cabernet 2008

Detailed tasting notes will follow, but check out these if you have a chance.  My next post I will give you some quick picks for wines for the rest of the world.  Enjoy!

My Recommendations to Attend the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival

Have you had a chance to check out the wine events coming up at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival?  Did you know that tickets for the events go on sale this Tuesday, January 10?  I’ve checked through the events, and I’d like to give you a few recommendations.  Maybe you will see me at one of these events too.

Theme Country – Chile

Two years ago I travelled down to Chile and visited wineries from the Aconcagua, Maipo, Casablanca, and Colchagua Valleys.  Some of the wineries were Casa Lapostolle, Montgras, Montes, Errazuriz, and Casas del Bosque.   I was impressed with how much the wineries cared for their vineyards and the production of their wines.  One of the nice thing with Chile, is that it is dry due to it’s location on the west coast of South America, and the Andes Mountains on it’s eastern border.  The dry climate, plus topography, and soil factors have made the area a great place to grow grapes.  There is very little, or no, phylloxera louse to attack the grape vines, plus the dryness keeps fungus and mold at bay.  So less pesticides and/or herbicides are needed here.  Many of the wineries in Chile indicate that they are organic or follow organic principles.

Chile’s Natural Advantage

Chile is a wine maker’s paradise.  They get 3 weeks more ripening time than in Bordeaux and 300 + days of sunshine each year.   The cool air from the Andes cools the grapes in the evening so that the grapes mature slowly so that they reach full phenolic ripeness; lots of ripe fruit and a good backbone of acidity. The adjacency to the coast, and the cool Humbolt Current helps produce coastal fog which cools the grapes near the coast, such as from the Casablanca Valley and San Antonio Valley.

Chilean Grapes

Wide range of Chilean red wines

Cabernet is King is Chile.  With the 300+ days of sunshine, the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes produce very full-bodied, ripe, supple wines.  Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor is one of the top quality wines for this grape.  Merlot and Carmenere come in, in 2nd and 3rd place.  Yet they were thought of both being Merlot for many years.  The grapes were planted together in the same vineyard and the grapes and leaves of both vines look very similar.  It was only fairly recently that the Carmenere grape was identified (it’s a Bordeaux grape btw), and has become a signature grape for Chile. A second signature red grape is coming through the ranks, and that is the Syrah grape.  I think people started to recognize Syrah’s potential in Chile, with Aurelio Montes‘ plantings in the Apalta Region of the Colchagua Valley.  There he produces an ultra premium Montes Folly wine from Syrah.

Most people probably think of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay when they think of white wines from Chile.  Probably also the Casablanca Valley, where a lot of very good Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are produced. An upcoming region for Sauvignon Blanc is slightly south of the Casablanca Valley and much closer to the coast is the Leyda Valley.  While the Sauvignon Blanc wine from the Casablanca Valley can be more tropical fruit, from the Leyda Valley, expect more citrus and herbal aromas and flavours.  Have you ever heard of Moscatel of Alexandria?  You might not have, but you probably have tried some Chilean Pisco.  Pisco is produced from the Moscatel grape.  Riesling and Viognier and two grapes with great potential.  I don’t think a particular region is well-known enough for these grapes, but I would hazard to guess that the Riesling grape would be very good in the Casablanca and San Antonio Valleys while Viognier would shine in the more inland, warmer regions, like Aconcagua, Maipo and Colchagua Valleys.

Theme Grape – Cabernet

Montes Apalta vineyard

Cabernet is more than just one grape.  Most people know of Cabernet Sauvignon, the highly revered grape from Bordeaux, but there is also another Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, which can also be found in Bordeaux, but is better known in the Loire Valley in France. Cabernet Sauvignon can be found around the world.  California’s Napa Valley produces some famous Cabernet Sauvignon, such as Stag’s Leap, and don’t forget Chile!  Cabernet Sauvignon tends to have quite high tannins giving it great longevity potential in the bottle. The flavour profile is Cabernet Sauvignon according to Wikipedia, “When Cabernet Sauvignon is young, the wines typically exhibit strong fruit flavors of black cherries and plum. The aroma of black currants is one of the most distinctive and characteristic element of Cabernet Sauvignon that is present in virtually every style of the wine across the globe. Styles from various regions and producers may also have aromas of eucalyptus, mint and tobacco. As the wines age they can sometimes develop aromas associated with cedar, cigar boxes and pencil shavings. In general New World examples have more pronounced fruity notes while Old World wines can be more austere with heightened earthy notes“.

Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux is used as a blending grape, offering cedar, tobacco, raspberry, cassis and violets aromas and flavours. It is lower in tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon, and also can have a green pepper or leafy character. You can also find Cabernet Franc grown around the world.  Here in BC we have single varietal bottles of Cabernet Franc, such as from Tinhorn Creek.

As an aside, in my Wikipedia check, I see that there are 3 other Cabernets, formed through a hybrid of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape with another grape variety.  They are:

  • Cabernet Dorsa, a 1971 hybrid of Cabernet Sauvignon and Dornfelder, created in Germany
  • Cabernet Gernischt, a Chinese variety similar or perhaps identical to Cabernet Savignon
  • Cabernet Mitos, a 1970 hybrid of Cabernet Sauvignon and Blaufränkisch, created in Germany

I have not had time to check on these other Cabs but will do some further research in the future.

My Recommended Events

  • New World Expressions. This is all about New World Cabernets.  Try Penfolds Bin 707 and other Bins against sought after New World regions of Sonoma and Napa Valley.
  • Celebrate Casa Real. Casa Real is one of Chilean winery, Casa Santa Rita‘s ulta-premium Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaker Andres Ilabaca will guide you through a vertical of 8 vintages of this wine.  It is always very interesting to try successive vintages of a wine and see how it is aging over time.
  • Kings of Cabernet Sauvignon. Join Barbara Philip Master of Wine and a panel of leading experts for a comparative tasting of top notch
    Cabernets from around the world.  One of the best ways to tell what style of wine you prefer for a particular grape.
  • Don Melchor: Behind the Blend.  If you know anything about Chilean wine, you would know about Concha y Toro‘s premium Don Melchor. Don Melchor has been regarded as Chile’s first growth of Cabernet Sauvignon and is accredited with bringing the premium wines of Chile to the attention of the world.
  • Any of the 8 sit down or grazing lunches on the weekend of March 3 and 4. I’d personally select the Chilean, New Zealand, or Spanish events.
  • Flavours of the Festival.  If you have the money but not the time to try many of the wines from around the world during the Festival. This sit down brunch at the The Fairmont Waterfront ballroom showcases foods from top BC restaurants paired with Festival wines from around the world.
  • Catena High Altitude at Hy’s. This is a Argentinean delight.  Wonderful wines from premium producer Bodega Catena Zapata from Mendoza, with expertly cooked steak from Hy’s.  Malbec and more!
  • A Star Rises in South Africa! Lammershoek is one of the rising stars of the dynamic South African wine scene. I’ve tried their wines for the first time last year and they are excellent.  Try their Pinotage, the signature red grape from South Africa.
  • West Coast Montes.  Enjoy a dinner with Chilean wine pioneer Aurelio Montes.  I’ve had dinner with him in the past.  He is very interesting and will tell you many stories about his wines.
  • Discover Piedmont at CRUCRU is one of my favourite restaurants in Vancouver.  The food creations will be expertly matched with the wines of one of the most dynamic Barolo producers in Piedmont Italy, Damilano.
  • Classe Italiana. Another choice if you like Italian wine. Wines from Antinori, one of Italy’s most historic and prestigious Tuscan wineries, will be paired with Vancouver’s highly acclaimed and awarded Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill.
  • Excellence of Nature. CinCin Restaurant and Emiliana winery from Chile will showcase a pairing of organic and biodynamic
    wines with local producers of biodynamic products. This five-course meal integrates the best fresh, sustainable ingredients with the magic
    of Alvaro Espinoza’s wines in a harmonious and innovative union.
  • Sandhill Small Lots Dinner. Come celebrate a BC winery.  You will get to try the very limited wines from Sandhill’s Small Lots program. Indulge in the partnership of BC’s iconic winemaker Howard Soon and Gotham Steakhouse Executive Chef Jean-Claude Douguet

All events are available through the Playhouse Box Office
By phone: 604.873.3311
Toll free 1.877.321.3121
Monday to Friday 9:30 am-8:00 pm
Saturday 12:00-4:00 pm

In person at:
Vancouver Playhouse Box Office
601 Hamilton Street (at Dunsmuir)
Vancouver, BC
Monday to Friday 9:00 am-5:00 pm

Online at PlayhouseWinefest.com (excluding brunches, ticket packages and group rates)
Public Events:  Tickets to all public events go on sale Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 9:30 am.

The Chileans are Coming! Preview Notes for You

Flag of Chile

Every year we look forward to our pinnacle wine event, the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.  Next year’s event will be Feb. 27 – March 4, 2012.  What does this have to do with Chile?  Chile is the theme country for the Festival!

A group of Media, myself included, were invited to a preview of the Chilean wines we can expect to see at the Festival, plus give us some background into this long, thin country.

My Experience in Chile

Karl aka MyWinePal at Casa Lapostolle

Two years ago I travelled down to Chile and visited wineries from the Aconcagua, Maipo, Casablanca, and Colchagua Valleys.  Some of the wineries were Casa Lapostolle, Montgras, Montes, Errazuriz, and Casas del Bosque.   I was impressed with how much the wineries cared for their vineyards and the production of their wines.  One of the nice thing with Chile, is that it is dry due to it’s location on the west coast of South America, and the Andes Mountains on it’s eastern border.  The dry climate, plus topography, and soil factors have made the area a great place to grow grapes.  There is very little, or no, phylloxera louse to attack the grape vines, plus the dryness keeps fungus and mold at bay.  So less pesticides and/or herbicides are needed here.  Many of the wineries in Chile indicate that they are organic or follow organic principles.

Chile’s Natural Advantage

Chile is a wine maker’s paradise.  They get 3 weeks more ripening time than in Bordeaux and 300 + days of sunshine each year.   The cool air from the Andes cools the grapes in the evening so that the grapes mature slowly so that they reach full phenolic ripeness; lots of ripe fruit and a good backbone of acidity. The adjacency to the coast, and the cool Humbolt Current helps produce coastal fog which cools the grapes near the coast, such as from the Casablanca Valley and San Antonio Valley.

What Grapes Grow in Chile?

There is a wide range of red and white grapes grown in Chile.  The top 5 red grapes in order of volume are:

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. Merlot
  3. Carmenere
  4. Syrah
  5. Pinot Noir

Montes M, Folly and Purple Angel wines

Cabernet is King is Chile.  With the 300+ days of sunshine, the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes produce very full-bodied, ripe, supple wines.  Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor is one of the top quality wines for this grape.  Merlot and Carmenere come in, in 2nd and 3rd place.  Yet they were thought of both being Merlot for many years.  The grapes were planted together in the same vineyard and the grapes and leaves of both vines look very similar.  It was only fairly recently that the Carmenere grape was identified (it’s a Bordeaux grape btw), and has become a signature grape for Chile. A second signature red grape is coming through the ranks, and that is the Syrah grape.  I think people started to recognize Syrah’s potential in Chile, with Aurelio Montes‘ plantings in the Apalta Region of the Colchagua Valley.  There he produces an ultra premium Montes Folly wine from Syrah.

For white grapes, the top 5 varieties are:

  1. Sauvignon Blanc
  2. Chardonnay
  3. Moscatel of Alexandria
  4. Riesling
  5. Viognier

Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc and Reserva Chardonnay

Most people probably think of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay when they think of white wines from Chile.  Probably also the Casablanca Valley, where a lot of very good Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are produced. An upcoming region for Sauvignon Blanc is slightly south of the Casablanca Valley and much closer to the coast is the Leyda Valley.  While the Sauvignon Blanc wine from the Casablanca Valley can be more tropical fruit, from the Leyda Valley, expect more citrus and herbal aromas and flavours.  Have you ever heard of Moscatel of Alexandria?  You might not have, but you probably have tried some Chilean Pisco.  Pisco is produced from the Moscatel grape.  Riesling and Viognier and two grapes with great potential.  I don’t think a particular region is well-known enough for these grapes, but I would hazard to guess that the Riesling grape would be very good in the Casablanca and San Antonio Valleys while Viognier would shine in the more inland, warmer regions, like Aconcagua, Maipo and Colchagua Valleys.

Wines We Tasted at the Media Preview

Montgras Santa Carolina and Undurraga Sauvignon Blancs

We enjoyed 3 Sauvignon Blancs and a range of single varietals and red blends.  The three Sauvignon Blancs:

  • Montgras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Leyda Valley). Light straw colour with a green tinge. Gooseberry and sweet honey nose. Light body with medium plus acidity.  Gooseberry and citrus flavours.  Medium length. My favorite of the these 3 wines.
  •  Vina Santa Carolina Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Leyda Valley). Light lemon colour with herbal, asparagus and mint on the nose.  Round mouth feel with light body. Herbal, citrus and green apple fruit flavours with some minerality on the palate.  Quite sour on the finish.
  • Undurraga Terroir Hunter Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Leyda Valley). 2008 was a later harvest than the other years, resulting in riper more tropical fruit flavours.  This wine was light lemon/green in colour.  Tropical fruit, lees and oak on the nose.  Light body,  round mouth feel but also has a good backbone of acidity. Oaky, smoky, citrus flavours.  Long length.

Wide range of Chilean red wines

Our red wines included single varietal Pinot Noir, Carmenere, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and blends.  The wines are:

  • Cono Sur Ocio Pinot Noir 2009 (Casablanca Valley). Medium ruby, Vanilla and cherry aromas. Medium body, dry, but full fruit, cherry flavours.  Vanilla in the back ground and some spiciness and raspberry leaf.  Slightly sweet cherry finish.
  • Emiliana Vineyards COYAM 2007 (Colchagua Valley). This is a biodynamic wine, which goes beyond organic wine making principles. Opaque garnet in the glass with ripe black fruit, vanilla, dark chocolate and cherrie aromas.  Full body, very round, with milk chocolate and ripe cherry flavours.  Some spice, raspberry leaf and vanilla on the finish.  A very high quality, balanced wine. You can read about biodynamic wines at this link.
  • Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Carmenere Syrah 2008 (Maule Valley). This blend is 75% Carmenere and 25% Syrah.  Deep ruby colour.  Meaty sausage and ripe cherry aromas. Full body, round with minerality.  Cherries, blueberries and vanilla flavours.   Medium plus acidity gives this wine bright flavours.
  • Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere 2009 (Apalta Valley).  Some dustiness on the nose, along with ripe cherries, capsicum and vanilla.  Medium minus body with high acidity and soft tannins.  Dark chocolate and cherry flavours with a mineral streak running through the wine. Not mouth filling but very pleasant sensation in your mouth.
  • Vina Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Carmenere 2010 (Colchagua Valley). The nose on this wine was a little closed, but I did get some nutmeg and cherry aromas. But on the palate, nutmeg, cedar and dark fruit flavours jump out.  Round mouth feel, dry with some spiciness.
  • Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Maipo Valley). Deep garnet in colour with cedar and ripe fruit aromas. Full body, rich feeling ,with  ripe dark fruit flavours and vanilla.  Dry with soft tannins and cedar on the finish.  This is a real good value wine at $19.99 a bottle. Also try their Medalla Real Pinot Noir!
  • Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Maipo Valley). This wine I think is starting to show it’s age as there is a slightly brownish tinge to an otherwise garnet colour in the glass. Some dark fruit on the nose.  Medium body, light mouth feel, with juicy black fruit flavour.  An elegant wine.
  • Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet 2009 (Maipo Valley). Deep dark core with a ruby rim in the glass. Vanilla, dark fruit and oak/cedar aromas. Full body, round mouth feel with soft tannins.  Light vanilla with some mintiness.
  • Vina Chocalan Gran Reserva Blend 2009 (Maipo Valley). This is a blend of 6 grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere, Petit Verdot, and Syrah.  Opaque garnet in the glass. Nice cedar, allspice and vanilla on the nose. Very round in your mouth with soft tannins. Allspice, cedar and ripe black fruit flavours.  Nice texture.  A favorite wine of many of the media I spoke with.

If these wines have enticed you, you may want to buy advance tickets to the Playhouse Wine Festival.  Here is my link to the tickets.  Enjoy and Salud!

Enjoy Chilean Wine at the BC Hospitality Foundation Dish & Dazzle

On Friday, June 17, 2011, you will be able to sample some fantastic wines from Chile, and help support the BC Hospitality Foundation’s Dish & Dazzle. What is the BC Hospitality Foundation?  The Foundation was formed in 2006 to help wine agent Michael J. Willingham pay for a costly surgery and subsequent rehabilitation following a stroke. Michael’s situation highlighted the need to establish a trust fund that could be used as a last-resort safety net for other industry members in need – who may or may not have benefits, be covered by employment insurance, or require assistance beyond traditional medical benefits. The Foundation benefits will cover people in the industry – food suppliers, hoteliers, media, publicists, retailers, vintners and wine sales representatives (from BCHR website).

The Dish & Dazzle is one of their fundraising efforts. The location will be the fabulous Fairmont Pacific Rim in downtown Vancouver. The schedule will include :

  • wines from 25 Chilean wineries with each pouring up to five different wines at their table,
  • four focus stations highlighting Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Carmenere & organic wine
  • food from 12 fine restaurants,
  • an exciting “sour” themed cocktail competition,
  • live entertainment and
  • silent auction

Dish n’Dazzle, will be a showcase for Vancouver’s dynamic hospitality industry. Restaurants, wineries and premium liquors will be featured in the main “tasting room” and guests will move from station to station in an interactive, informal setting.

If you have never tasted Carmenere wine before, this would be a good introduction.  Carmenere is a “forgotten” grape, originally from Bordeaux, France, but loves the climate of Chile and has become Chile’s signature red grape!  It has been mistaken in the past in Chile for Merlot.  Carmenere is dark red in colour with cherries and red fruit flavours, spice and sometimes a bit of green pepper.  The tannins are soft, making this wine easy to drink.  It goes well with BBQ so think about buying some carmenere for summer.  Here are some Carmenere that I have reviewed in the past:

  • Vina Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005 (Chile). Pehuen Carmenere is a premium wine from Vina Santa Rita.  Opaque purple in the glass. Dark fruit nose with a whiff of capsicum. Full bodied but with soft tannins.  Ripe black cherries, vanilla and spice on the palate.  A very long length.  Here is a Carmenere you should try.
  • Vina Errazuriz Max Reserva Carmenere 2007  (Chile). This wine spent 12 months oak aging. 2007 is the first vintage for the vines selected for this wine. It had a deep purple color in the glass. Cassis, smoke, black cherry, and oak on the nose. Black cherries, vanilla and cassis flavours. Smooth tannins. It had a long length, with a spice and red cherry finish. Highly recommended.
  • Montes Alpha Carmenere 2007 (Chile). This wine was deep purple in the glass. Capsicum, back fruit and vanilla aromas. On the palate I tasted red and black cherries, vanilla and a slight hint of capsicum. This wine had a soft, round mouth feel and a long length.
  • Viu Manent Reserva Carmenere 2008 (Chile). Deep purple colour in the glass. Vanilla, black fruits and a slight hint of capsicum on the nose. It was quite round in the mouth, with vanilla and ripe black fruit flavours, and a peppery finish.

In case you didn’t know, the theme country for next year’s Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is Chile, so come out to this event, and get a sneak peek at what you can expect next year, and maybe find a few new favorites for this summer!

Here is the website for tickets for the BC Hospitality Foundation Dish & Dazzle. Enjoy!

My Favorites From the South World Wine Society’s Five Nations Cup 2011

Wednesday, Jan 19 was the South World Wine Society’s 6th Annual Five Nations Cup.  This is a blind wine tasting and humbles everyone in attendance. Five white wines and five red wines were presented to us.

We first went through the white wines, and were told that there were a Chenin Blanc, a Pinot Gris, a Chardonnay, and 2 Sauvignon Blanc.  One of the sauvignon blanc would be young (a recent vintage), while the other sauvignon blanc would be aged (2003 in this case).  The wines would be from Australia, Chile, New Zealand, or South Africa.  We were missing a white wine from Argentina for this half of the tasting.  Our host for the evening, Mr. Paul Watkin, is past SWWS cellar master and is a manager at Icon Fine Wine and Spirits in Vancouver.   Paul let us all know some of the characteristic aromas and flavours of each of these white grapes, as well as some hints as to style of white wines produced by each of these countries.  After sipping and debating each other at our table, we all stood up and slowly each started to sit down as each wine was revealed but did not match our guess.

The first wine was the Mount Riley Pinot Gris (2008 I think) from New Zealand.  I marked this wine as pale lemon colour. Herbal, lemon a bit of lime and some lychee on the nose.  Medium body, medium acidity, grapefruit and spice flavours with a long finish.  I guessed correctly.

The second wine was the Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc (2008) from Chile. Pale but bright lemon colour in the glass. Vanilla, waxy, lemon, grassy, and gooseberry aromas. Medium body.  Citrus, slightly vegetal and slightly spicy with medium acidity.  Another correct guess!

The third wine was the Montes Alpha Chardonnay (2006) from Chile.  This one was the easiest to guess.  The fullest body, most deep lemony coloured, lots of vanilla and apple aromas and flavours.  Nice spice too.  It went really well with a smoked scalloped that was served with the wines.  3 for 3 so far.

The fourth wine was the Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc (2003) from Australia. The aged sauvignon blanc!  This wine was medium minus golden colour. Big legs on the sides of the glass.  Honeysuckle, honey, and apricot aromas. Medium minus body, smooth, lower in acidity with a dry finish.  I guessed this one was the Chenin Blanc.

The last white wine was the Graham Beck Gameskeeper Reserve Chenin Blanc (2008) from South Africa . Light lemon colour.  Smokey, apple, spice, oak, vanilla, and some earthiness on the nose. Bright fruit flavours, but also some smokiness, apple and oak.  Medium length. I originally thought this one could be the aged sauvignon blanc with some oak aging (e.g. a Fume Blanc).

So from the white wine review, I ended up in 2nd place.  Not bad considering how difficult the whites were to identify.  Hopefully the red wines would be easier.

No such luck.  Paul was going to give us 5 different Bordeaux blends.  That is much more difficult than trying to guess if a wine is a Malbec or a Merlot.  The first red was the Man O’ War Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec blend (2008) from New Zealand. I had marked it as medium red with a purple tint (from the Malbec). Cassis, red cherry, leather, mint and tomato aromas. Juicy red fruit flavour, with vanilla, spice, high acidity and medium tannins.  I guessed correctly.  I thought the high acidity would be from a cooler climate, and New Zealand would be the coolest of the 5 countries.

The second red was the Miguel Torres Cordillera (2001) from Chile. A deep core of garnet in the glass.  Some capsicum aroma, along with vanilla, dark plum and milk chocolate.  On the palate it was full bodied.  Vanilla, purple fruit and savory flavours. Medium acidity and tannins. Another correct guess.  The capsicum was my hint that it was Chilean.

The third red was the Glen Carlou Grand Classique (2005) from South Africa.  Deep garnet in colour.  Iodine and earthy aromas. Mineral, leather and firm tannins.  Quite different from all the other reds.  I guessed that one correctly too.

The fourth red wine was the Luigi Bosca Gala 2 (2005) from Argentina.  I had guessed New Zealand, then changed my mind to Australia, but in the end I found out it was Argentina.  Really hard to guess the origin of this wine.  It was medium garnet coloured.  Sweet vanilla, chocolate and dark fruit aromas.  Not overly aromatic. Medium body and medium tannins with grippy black fruit flavour.

The fifth red wine was the d’Arenberg Galvo Garage (2005) from Australia. Very dark garnet in colour.  Some capsicum, dry not overly fruity nose with some earthiness.  Vanilla, capsicum and very fruity flavours.  Firm tannins.  I guessed this one was the wine from Argentina.

I ended up in 2nd place for the red wines.  I don’t feel too bad getting 2nd place for both the red and white wines.

How did I rate these wines?

White wines in my rank of preference:

  1. Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc (2003) Australia
  2. Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc (2008) Chile
  3. Mt. Riley Pinot Gris (2008) New Zealand
  4. Montes Alpha Chardonnay (2006) Chile
  5. Graham Beck Gameskeeper Reserve Chenin Blanc (2008) South Africa

Red wines in my rank of preference:

  1. Miguel Torres Cordillera (2001) Chile
  2. Man O’ War Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec blend (2008) New Zealand
  3. Luigi Bosca Gala 2 (2005) Argentina
  4. d’Arenberg Galvo Garage (2005) Australia
  5. Glen Carlou Grand Classique (2005) South Africa

One thing that you may notice is that my first choice in both the red and white wines were the OLDEST wines.  Don’t think that you have to drink a wine as soon as you buy it.  Especially true for red wines, and some white wines.  Many of these wines will be available only in private wine shops.  Hope you can get a chance to try some of them. 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!

Taste Chilean Wine Event 2010 in Vancouver

‘ve been a proud supporter of Chilean wines for many years. A year ago, I had an opportunity to go to Chile for my vacation, and visit many wineries in Aconcagua, Casablanca, Maipo, and Colchagua. Some of the wineries I was able to visit include Santa Rita, Casa Lapostolle, Montes, Montgras, and Casas del Bosque. The Chilean wineries I visited and winemakers I spoke with, take the health of their vines very seriously and try to use as much natural processes as possible. The climate is wonderful for grapes, and with the grapes growing on natural root stocks, you get a very true expression of the grape character.

Every September for many years, Wines of Chile, hold a tasting in Vancouver, and other cities across Canada. The Vancouver tasting is coming up soon, and the tickets are on sale. Below is the announcement from Wines of Chile, plus the link to purchase your tickets. Please come and try some wines from Supernatural Chile!  To find out about last year’s tasting you can click on my link to my Wines of Chile 2009 tasting blog.

Wines of Chile Consumer Event Details:

On Thursday, October 7, 2010, at 7:00pm a $39 ticket gives you the chance to mingle with Vancouver’s hottest wine lovers and Chilean wineries as they showcase their wines in Vancouver at Taste Chile 2010!

Meet visiting winemakers and taste wines from wine regions across Chile from more than 30 visiting wineries, each pouring up to six different wines at their table. Chilean style passed hors d’oeuvres will be provided to pair with the fabulous wines on offer. Educate yourself on Chilean wines while sampling additional wines at three focus stations. After tasting your way around the room, relax and enjoy the food and wine in our Santiago Lounge while taking in the sounds mixed by a local DJ.

Taste Chile 2010

W2 Storyeum – 151 West Cordova, Vancouver

Thursday, October 7th

7:00-9:30pm

Tickets $39

Charitable proceeds from the event will be donated to the Grapes for Humanity Canada.

For tickets and information, please visit www.winesofchile.ca.

Salud!

Vancouver Playhouse Wine Fest 2010 – Day 1

Well I’m back from the Trade tasting at the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival. I’m off to the Public tasting that starts in about 1 hr. So some quick notes here for u, in case you are going and want to buy some wines.
There are a ton of Argentinean Malbecs there. If you like full bodied wines, please try them out. I did find a few Malbecs I really enjoyed. They are:

– Casa Montes Bodegas & Vinedos “Alzamora Gran Reserva Malbec 2006”
– Cavas del 23, “Beviam Reserve Malbec 2007”

– Vina Cobos “Bramare Malbec Lujan de Cuyo 2007” – Bodega Catena Zapata “Alta Malbec 2006”
– Bodegas Escorihuela 1884 “1884 Limited Production Malbec 2006”
– Bodegas Salentein “Malbec Reserva 2007”

– Bodegas Salentein “Numina 2006”

– Bodega Vistalba “Tomero Gran Reserve Malbec 2006”

I didn’t get through all the Malbecs there are. I’m sure there are more… More news to come after I finish tonight’s tasting, and tastings for the rest of the week.

Enjoy!

Chile Day 9 – Montgras and Montes

Chile day 9 – Today was my M&M day. That is Montgras and Montes. Two premium wineries located in the Colchagua Valley in Chile. In the morning I met with Mr. Santiago Margozzini from Montgras. He led me through a tasting of their wines as well as drove me through part of their Ninquen vineyards. Most of their vines are located in the Colchagua valley, but they also have some vineyards in the Leyda and the Maipo Valley. Many of the wines I tasted I do not think are in BC yet, but may soon arrive. To keep the blog short, i’ll keep my notes to one white and one red for each winery, with my full tasting notes to come when I’m back in Vancouver. From Leyda, I tried a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay. The Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2009 is 100% stainless steel fermented. They tried to minimize oxygen content with the grapes using dry ice. The wine was only bottled one month ago, and I think i am one of the first few non Chileans to try this vintage. The wine has lots of lemon, lime and grapefruit aromas with a slight hint of greenness. On the palate it had high acidity, with more lemon, lime and grapefruit flavours. And a very long length. I tried 7 reds with Montgras. All but one came from the Colchagua Valley. The MontGras Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 was deep garnet in the glass. Vanilla, black fruit, black cherries, cassis and tarry aromas. It had lots of fruitiness on the palate, with flavours of black cherry, vanilla, cloves, and chocolate. The tannins were soft but still provided a dry finish.

The afternoon I dedicated to the Montes winery, and wine maker Mr. Aurelio Montes Jr. I had met Aurelio in Vancouver during the Wines of Chile events in September and arranged to meet him at the winery in October. Aurelio first drove me around the vineyard, pointing out the differences within the vineyard topography and how that influenced the varieties planted and how the vines were planted (e.g. training the vines, and vine density). After we toured the winery, then onto tasting his wines. Again keeping brevity, i’ll only review one white and one red wine for the blog, with more to come. For the white wine, I tried the Montes Sauvignon Blanc Limited Selection 2009 from the Leyda Valley (FYI, i’m starting to really enjoy Leyda Sauv Blancs more than from other parts of Chile). This one had citrus, nettles, herbal and green chile aromas. On the palate the wine had citrus, and green chile pepper flavours. Light in body but long length. Pair with some seafood. I tried 7 red wines, but the one I will talk about is the Montes Alpha Carmenere 2007. This wine was deep purple in the glass. Capsicum, back fruit and vanilla aromas. On the palate I taste red and black cherries, vanilla and a slight hint of capsicum. This wine had a soft, round mouth feel and a long length. Pair carmenere with spicy Thai, Mexican or Indian food. I can’t wait to try this back in Vancouver.

Thanks to both Santiago and Aurelio for showing me their vineyards and fine wines. Saludos!