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!

My 2010 Wine Picks on MyWinePal.com

In an earlier blog article, I listed my favourite 2010 wines that I had previously posted. I also promised to provide a list of my favourite 2010 wines from the main MyWinePal.com website.

This list has a range of wines from all over the world, and includes red, white, and sparkling wines. Quite a mix of wines. But which was my overall favorite? Read on!

Meyer Family Vineyards Micro Cuvee, Old Main Road Vineyard Chardonnay 2009 (BC) This wine is a deep lemon colour. Medium intensity aromas that show some developing characteristics. Tropical fruit, apple, yeast, oak, vanilla, butter and honey aromas. It is dry on the palate with medium plus level of acidity. Very pronounced flavours and quite full bodied. Citrus, tropical fruit, dried fruit, oak, vanilla, butter, honey and some minerality. Lots roundness in the mouth, but has that higher level of acidity to balance it out. There is a tiny hint of spice. The oak is very integrated with the wine. It’s there in the background. I rate this as an outstanding wine and can be aged for further complexity.

The D’Angelo Sette Coppa 2005 (BC) is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Verdot, and Malbec. It is primarily Cabernet Franc and Merlot, with lesser amounts of the other grape varieties. From my tasting of this wine at the Simply Red event, I had the following notes: “Light garnet in the glass. Tarry, cassis and black cherry aromas. Cassis, cherry, chocolate and vanilla on the palate with some spiciness. Medium length with firm tannins kicking in on the finish. Enjoy with some grilled meat.” What did I note in my latest tasting? This wine is deep garnet in colour. Pronounced aromas in the glass of dried fruit, black fruit, red cherry, a hint of cedar, sweet spice and vanilla. This wine has firm yet soft tannins. Dry on the palate with medium to full body. Flavours of black fruit, black cherry, strawberry, sweet spice, vanilla, and a hint of chocolate. This wine is ready to drink now, but could age a year to let the tannins soften a bit more.

The Bodegas Salentein Primum Malbec (Argentina) was outstanding. Opaque purple in the glass. Reserved vanilla and plum nose. Ripe plum and cassis flavour with some spice and firm tannins. A very high quality Malbec.

The Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 comes from the Dierberg Family of wines (California). Opaque garnet in the glass. Vanilla and juicy red cherry nose. Cherry and plum flavours. Round mouthfeel and firm tannins. Their Dierberg Pinot Noir 2006 was also outstanding.

The Mount Riley Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (New Zealand) is pale lemon colour in the glass. Light gooseberry nose. High acid with some minerality and lemon rind. Herbal finish. Elegant.

The Alto Rouge 2007 (South Africa) was light/medium garnet in the glass. Capsicum and cherry nose. Cherry, meaty and spicy flavours. Their Alto Shiraz 2006 was deep purple coloured. Sweet black fruit aromas. Firm tannins and bursting with blueberry flavours. Very full bodied.

The Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Pinot Gris 2005 (France) may have been my overall favorite white wine of the festival. This wine was very elegant and intense. Medium lemon in colour, with peach and honey on the nose. Medium body, with peach and flowery flavours. Round with refreshing acidity to balance the fruit.

Another fantastic wine was the Dopff & Irion Traditional Gewurztraminer 2008 (France). Lychee and honey on the nose. Good acidity with peach and lychee flavour. Very refreshing.

Church & States Wines Chardonnay 2007 (BC). The Chardonnay 2007 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.

Mission Hill Family Estate Quatrain 2006 (BC). This is a Syrah, Merlot, Cab Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc blend from the Black Sage area of the Okanagan. Deep purple coloured. Blueberry and plum nose. Cherry and plum flavour, peppery with firm tannins.

Villa Rinaldi Rose di Barriciaia 1998 (Italy). This is a Pinot Noir based sparkling wine that has some oak aging. Peachy, orange colour in the glass. Nutty, lemony and creamy / lees on the palate. Very small, fine bubbles.

The Vina Cobos Bramare Malbec Lujan de Cuyo 2007 (Argentina) has a vanilla, cedary, cherry nose. Ripe black fruit, cassis and black cherry flavours, with medium tannins. I marked a star beside this wine in my notes.

The 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. Very nice!

The Woollaston Estates Tussock Nelson Pinot Noir (New Zealand) was very aromatic with strawberry and raspberry aromas. Cherry and raspberry flavours. Medium body, medium acidity. Vanilla on the finish.

The Starmont Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (California) is pale lemon colour. It has light lemon with gooseberry nose. Round mouthfeel with good acidity. Nice herbal flavour.

St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (California) continues to deliver. There was lots of gooseberry and green herbal aromas. Herbal flavour with good acidity. A very good example of Sauvignon Blanc.

The Merryvale Pinot Noir 2008 (California) is light cherry coloured in the glass. It has a beautiful raspberry / strawberry nose. Red cherry, vanilla and raspberry flavours. Medium acidity.

So which was my 2010 Overall Wine Pick? The Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Pinot Gris 2005 (France). I still think of when I tasted this wine. I checked the BCLDB website, and this wine is still available. It retails for $33.95 a bottle.

Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fair 2010 – Day 2

Today is dedicated to the wines of New Zealand at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. New Zealand is well known for their Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, and there were plenty of fine examples to be tasted. But what was suprising was the number of Pinot Gris that were available. I knew that Pinot Gris is available in New Zealand, but was suprised how many made it across the Pacific Ocean to reach our shores. As such, I purchased 3 in particular that I liked:
– St. Helena Pinot Gris 2008 ($21.99)
– Mount Riley Pinot Gris 2009 (19.99)

– Gibbston Dream Maker Pinot Gris 2008 ($29.99)

The St. Helena Pinot Gris 2008 was roses and peach on the nose. Round mouth feel, with medium acidity. Peachy flavour with slight spice and oak.

Mount Riley Pinot Gris 2009 had a light peach and apricot nose. Off dry, and quite flavourful. Lots of peach and a bit of spice on the finish.

The Gibbston Highgate Estate Dream Maker Pinot Gris 2008 has a light sweet citrus / honey / peach nose. Medium acid with some roundness on the palate. Vanilla and peach flavours.

All wonderful choices for summer.

As you know, I love Pinot Noir, and I was waiting to try some new ones from New Zealand.
Two in particular I really liked was the:
– Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir 2007
– Woollaston Estates Tussock Nelson Pinot Noir 2007

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

The Woollaston Estates Tussock Nelson Pinot Noir was very aromatic with strawberries and raspberries aromas. Cherry and raspberry flavours. Medium body, medium acidity. Vanilla on the finish.

There was of course many sauvignon blancs to choose from:
– Elephant Hill Estate and Winery Sauvignon Blanc Rserve 2008
– Mount Riley Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2009

– Sacred Hill Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009

I’m running out of time, so no review on these last 3, but don’t worry after the Festival is over, i’ll be posting full tasting notes.

See you all tomorrow at the Saturday tasting! Enjoy!