Abbotsford Harvest Dinner setting at Mt Lehman Winery

Abbotsford Harvest Dinner – Wine, Beer, Main Dishes and Dessert

Circle Farm TourMany of us aspire to the 100 mile diet.  Keeping our food local.  Supporting our farmers.  But here in Vancouver, have you considered that those farmers, might be a 30-45 minute drive away in Abbotsford, in the Fraser Valley?  I was invited as part of the Circle Farm Tour to experience an Abbotsford Harvest Dinner, and was pleasantly surprised by the bounty of food, wine and beer that is available.

The dinner starting with chatting and sampling local beer from Ravens Brewing Company.  This brewery just opened earlier this year and collaborates with local growers and suppliers to craft artisan beer.  I tried their English Dark Mild.  It was indeed dark, with a charcoal and dark malt flavour to it, but not too heavy, so that you can enjoy more food and wine.

The dishes we enjoyed were:

  • Campbell’s Gold honey roasted, local delicata squash with pumpkin seeds, Abbotsford goat cheese from Mt. Lehman Cheese (appetizer)
  • Maple Hills Farm’s chicken roulade with creamy polenta and kale chips (appetizer)
  • Lepp Farm Market’s pork loin wrapped in bacon with savory shallot and plum marmalade (entree)
  • Yarrow Meadows’ duck breast with balsamic pearl onions (entree)
  • Roasted local beets and parsnips (entree)
  • Organic Fraser Valley rice risotto with roasted shiitake mushrooms (entree)
  • Birchwood Dairy’s vanilla ice cream topped with Gojoy Berries’ goji berry compote (dessert)
  • Onnink’s chocolate blueberry bonbons (dessert)

I must say that it was nice to meet, or have the farmers from Abbotsford introduce themselves to us as we sat at a beautifully set table in the barrel room of Mt. Lehman Winery.  Thanks also to Chef Jeff Massey from Restaurant 62 who prepared all these dishes for us.

The farmers supplying our food and drink are:

The dishes come from fresh ingredients from the vegetables, to the pork, chicken and duck.  A few standout dishes for me were first the honey roasted local delicata squash with pumpkin seeds and goat cheese.  Creamy sweetness from the squash, with creaminess from the cheese and a bit of crunch from the pumpkin seeds.  The Lepp Farm Market’s pork loin wrapped in bacon was also outstanding for me.  The bacon comes from Lepp, and is smoked by them.  No artificially aged bacon here.  The flavour of the bacon was really outstanding and makes you think about the industrial bacon you buy in grocery stores.  No comparison.  If you have never tried roasted beets, give them a try.  I really like the earthiness of the beets.  And the blueberry bonbons are also a very tasty way to end dessert.  Good quality chocolate mixed with blueberries.  You cannot go wrong with this combination.  All the dishes were very good, and I present to you pictures of these dishes for your visual consumption below.  If any of this food or wine sparks your interest, drive out to Abbotsford and buy from these farmers.

I must especially thank winery owner Vern Siemens for opening bottles of every white and red wine I think they make, for us to experiment and pair with all the dishes at our Abbotsford Harvest dinner.  I in particular liked Mt. Lehman’s Pinot Noir and Unoaked Chardonnay, and felt they made good pairings with many dishes.

Mt Lehman Unoaked Chardonnay Pinot Gris Pinot Noir and Merlot Reserve wines

Mt Lehman Unoaked Chardonnay Pinot Gris Pinot Noir and Merlot Reserve wines

Ravens Brewing Company English Dark Mild beer

Ravens Brewing Company English Dark Mild beer

Campbells Gold honey roasted local delicata squash with pumpkin seeds, Abbotsford goat cheese from Mt Lehman Cheese

Campbell’s Gold honey roasted local delicata squash with pumpkin seeds, Abbotsford goat cheese from Mt Lehman Cheese

Maple Hills Farm's chicken roulade with creamy polenta and kale chips

Maple Hills Farm’s chicken roulade with creamy polenta and kale chips

Roasted local beets and parsnips

Roasted local beets and parsnips

Yarrow Meadows' duck breast with balsamic pearl onions

Yarrow Meadows’ duck breast with balsamic pearl onions

Organic Fraser Valley rice risotto with roasted shiitake mushrooms

Organic Fraser Valley rice risotto with roasted shiitake mushrooms

Lepp Farm Market's pork loin wrapped in bacon with savory shallot and plum marmalade

Lepp Farm Market’s pork loin wrapped in bacon with savory shallot and plum marmalade

Birchwood Dairy's vanilla ice cream topped with Gojoy Berries' goji berry compote

Birchwood Dairy’s vanilla ice cream topped with Gojoy Berries’ goji berry compote

 

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Wines from Spain Spill into Consumer Glasses April 4th and 5th

Wines from SpainDo you love Spanish wine, or want to learn about Spanish wine?  There is of course Tempranillo, but there is also other grapes like Mencia you may not have heard of, or what about Spanish sparkling wine?  There is a chance for you on April 4 and 5 through BC Liquor Stores to try and learn a bit about Spanish wines.  The details are below.

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Vancouver, BC – Two FREE consumer tasting events kick off a province-wide Signature Store promotion at BC Liquor Stores Cambie Kitchen this month:

Dates: Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5, 2014
Time: Drop-in any time between 3 and 6pm
Location: Cambie and 39th Signature Store
5555 Cambie Street, Vancouver

The event will feature live Flamenco music by Canadian fusion guitarist Dave Martone with mouthwatering visuals of Spanish wines, their regions and their cultures. Accredited wine professionals will pour samples for visiting shoppers with descriptions of the wines and the foods that go with them. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper wine event without delectable foods to accompany the wines so Vancouver caterer Christine Moulson of Little House will be on hand with the finest in Spanish flavours to nibble on in between sips for all who come out for the fun. As an added bonus, all who arrive to taste wines will take with them a little something. (No purchase necessary.)

Seven wines take part in the promotion, winding consumers through a virtual tour of Spain’s booming wine regions and their various styles:
Cava PARES BALTA – BRUT ORGANIC $19.99 <Karl: a must try>
Jumilla LAS HERMANAS ORGANIC MONASTRELL $15.95
Ribera del Duero TORRES CELESTE $24.99
Toro ELIAS MORA $19.99
Monsant MALONDRO BESLLUM $19.99
Bierzo LOSADA MENCIA $24.99 <Karl: Mencia is a red grape you may not have heard or tried.>
Rioja MARQUES DE MURRIETA FINCA YGAY RESERVA $29.99

Vancouver Chefs Dishes Festival

Chefs Signature Dishes Festival – Get Your Tickets

Vancouver Chefs Dishes Festival

Vancouver Chefs Dishes Festival

Wouldn’t you be honoured if a chef made a dish specially for you to try, not on their menu?   I would. This is the opportunity that Vancouver Foodster is offering to you through his Chef’s Signature Dishes Festival.  Below are the details of the event from Vancouver Foodster.  Bon Appetit!

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We are fortunate to live in a city which has one of the most exciting culinary scenes in North America, where chefs are passionate about the ingredients that they use, are committed to pushing boundaries and are creating dishes to excite the diners palate. I have created this Signature Dishes Festival to put the spotlight on these creative chefs and their restaurants who support their creativity and passion; said Richard Wolak, this festival is also a challenge featuring 15 participating Chefs and their Restaurants in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond and Langley where diners are invited to vote for their favourite dishes, this festival runs from September 6-30, 2013.

Chefs create a must try signature dish (this dish can-not be on the restaurant’s menu, it must be a new dish created by the chef) to enter in this Chefs Signature Dishes Festival. The Chefs creation can be simple to fancy, using unique and innovative ingredients, any type, as nutritious or indulgent as he/she wants, I told them to be creative and imaginative and to stay true to their type of cuisine or restaurant

Participating restaurants are featuring their Chefs who have created a new Signature Dish creation

These are just some of the creative Chefs and their Signature Dish creations in this festival:

PARTICIPATING CHEFS & RESTAURANTS

Chef Dan Craig

EBO Restaurant

Signature Appetizer Dish: Tasting of Dungeness Crab and Butternut Squash

Pink Salmon, Crab Chawanmushi and croquette, Butternut Squash Terrine.

Price: $14

Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre, 4331 Dominion Street, Burnaby

Tel: (604) 453-0788

Web:  http://www.eborestaurant.com/

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Chef Siriwan (Grace) Rerksuttisiridach

Simply Thai Restaurant

Signature Dish: Thai Steak

Prime sirloin steak strips on a bed of steamed broccoli topped with Simply Thai’s red curry sauce. Jasmine rice topped with bell peppers, fresh basil and lime leaves complete this plate.

Price: $25

1211 Hamilton St, Vancouver

Tel:(604) 642-0123

Web: http://www.simplythairestaurant.com/

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Chef Matt Repeto

The Bibo

Signature Dish: Risotto Mediterraneo

Delicate Risotto with the best B.C. seafood that join the Italian traditional with a taste of the sea.

Price: $24

Offered: Wednesday dinner, Thursday lunch and Thursday dinner

1835 W 4th Ave, Vancouver

Tel: 604-568-6177

Web:  http://www.thebibo.com

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Chef Brian Fowke

Kitsilano Daily Kitchen

Signature Dish: Brown Butter Broiled Organic Peace Country Beef Marrow ‘Provençal’ with fried green heirloom tomatoes, bourbon onion jam, butter potato gnocchi and chanterelle mushroom cornbread.

Price: Appetizer (without the gnocchi or cornbread): $18 OR Entrée: $32

Special Add-on: A complete bone’s pour of White American Bourbon to finish your meal – $12 (bring a bib)

Offered: Dinner nightly (starting Sept 7)

1809 W 1st Ave, Vancouver

Tel: (604) 569-2741

Web: http://www.kitsdaily.com/

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The full list of Chefs and their Dishes creations with details including the participating restaurants are listed here
http://vancouverfoodster.com/2013/09/06/vancouver-chefs-dishes-festival/

How people can Vote for their favourite Signature Dish Creations?

Once people have ordered and tried the Signature Dish Creations at the participating restaurants, they can vote on their mobile phones or ipads from their table in the restaurants or later in the day. People can cast their vote once a day, so if they are visiting the other participating restaurants daily or during the festival they can vote for their other favourites as well.

You are invited to try these signature dish creations at the participating restaurants, keeping in mind this criteria – originality, creativity, uniqueness, traditional, non-traditional, price, value and most importantly taste.  You are then encouraged to VOTE for their favourite Dish creations at http://vancouverfoodster.com/chefs-dishes-festival/

We will announce the winning Chefs and their Dish Creations on October 1, 2013.

Almost Last Minute Christmas Holiday Wine Picks 2011

There are less than 2 weeks to Christmas now. Maybe you are starting to think about Christmas gifts, or inviting family and friends over to your place for a nice dinner, or you received a dinner invitation? What wines to gift or serve?

I went through the list of all the wines I tasted in 2011 and have a few suggestions for you.

Some Favourite Sparkling Wines for 2011

  • Oyster Bay Brut and Rose sparkling wines

    Perrier Jouet Grand Brut N/V, France. This is also a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Pale lemon in colour.  Light lees and toast on the nose. Light body with apples and white fruit.  Small bubbles with lower acidity.  I really enjoyed this one in part due to the lower acidity which made this Champagne very easy to drink on its own.

  • Bastianich Flor Prosecco, Italy ($19.99).  A delightful wine with melon and lychee aromas. Off dry, light body, with cinnamon, citrus and peach flavours.  Small bubble.  This is such a fun wine. Start a party with this wine.
  • Champagne de Venoge Cordon Bleu Brut Select NV, France ($62.99). This Champagne is a blend of 2/3 PinotNoir and Pinot Meunier (both red grapes), and 1/3 Chardonnay. Light lemon in colour.  Nice medium toasty nose.  Medium acidity and body.  Citrus, some spice and toasty flavours on the palate.
  • Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvee Brut N/V, New Zealand ($24.99). I was really surprised by this wine.  It won me over with it’s fresh fruit flavours. Light citrus and stone fruit on the nose.  Lots of flavour in your mouth with citrus, lime, kiwi fruit, and herbal flavours. Small bubble with medium acidity.
  • Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Blanc, 2008, California. Light lemon colour.  Vanilla and spice on the nose.  High acid with small bubbles.  Lemons and green apples greet your tongue. A very nice, elegant dry sparkling wine.

Some Favourite White Wines for 2011

  • Stags Hollow Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc 2010

    Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay 2009, California.  This is a single vineyard wine.  Medium lemon in colour with tropical fruit and some toasty aromas. Medium body and very soft mouth feel (really silky). Some vanilla and tropical fruit flavours.  Really nice.

  • Waterstone Chardonnay, 2009, California. This is my favourite white wine of the night.  Not a typical Napa Chardonnay.  This wine had a medium pear colour.  Vanilla and bartlett pear aromas. Medium body, soft and round mouthfeel.  Cinnamon and tropical fruit flavours with light acidity.  Nice and fruity, some vanilla with a long dry finish.
  • Stags Hollow Viognier 2010, BC. One of my favourite wines of the tasting. This Viognier was pale in colour with some sweetness, orange, and flower aromas. Very pretty. Tropical fruit and cinnamon flavours.  Medium body.
  • Tantalus Vineyards Riesling 2010, BC. Their Riesling is always on my favourite list. This one is no exception.  It has light lemon, lychee and flowers on the nose.  Off dry, with high acidity to make your mouth water for more.  Red apples and lemon flavours.  Excitement in a glass.
  • Thornhaven Estates Winery Pinot Gris 2010, BC. I think there is something specific about the terroir for this wine that makes this Pinot Gris have a wonderful grapefruit nose and flavour.  I haven’t seen this in other Okanagan Pinot Gris. Pale lemon in colour with red grapefruit nose. Flowery with citrus, grapefruit flavours. Yum.
  • Graffigna Grand Reserve Torrontes 2010 (Argentina). Torrontes is the signature white grape of Argentina.  Very aromatic and a good change from Gewurztraimer or Viognier. Light lemon coloured. Lychee and perfumy nose.  Light body, round, with medium acidity.  Lychee, apricot and cinnamon flavours. Very tasty with a long spicy finish.
  • Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Gewurztraminer 2007 (France). I love Alsatian wines, and was really looking forward to Pfaffenheim’s wines. Medium lemon colour.  Wonderful lychee nose with a slight touch of sweet spice. Full body. Off dry with lower acidity.  Round mouthfeel with lychee, apricot and flowery flavours.  Very nice.

Some Favourite Red Wines for 2011

  • Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005

    Kim Crawford Small Parcel “The-Rise-and-Shine” Creek Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007, New Zealand. 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.

  • 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.
  • Dusted Valley Grenache, Columbia Valley 2009, Washington. This was such a wonderful wine.  Just the right balance of fruit, tannins, and acidity.  The wine was medium garnet in colour.  Cherry, vanilla and smoky aromas.  Raspberry, cherry, and vanilla on the palate.  Medium bodied with a raspberry finish.
  • 1884 Reservado Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Argentina ($16.99).  This was my red wine deal of the wine tasting. Drink now. Raspberry and cocoa on the nose.  Full body with full ripe cherries and raspberries.  Juicy!  Long finish.
  • Desert Hills Syrah 2007, BC.  Another one of my favourites of the tasting. Almost opaque ruby in colour. Smoky, meaty, and dark fruit nose. Full body, dry tannins, with dark fruit spice and vanilla flavours.  Enjoy this big wine with a nice roast over the winter.
  • Ogier Crozes Hermitage, Les Brunnelles 2008, France ($25.99). This is a Rhone Valley wine. The Rhone Valley produces some fabulous Syrah, and this is one of them. I really liked the aromas of this wine of cassis and plums. Full body with cassis, raspberry, cherry and oak flavours.  Low tannins helped make this wine very approachable.
  • Finca Las Moras Intis Malbec 2010, Argentina. This wine was the surprise wine of the evening.  It is priced at $8.99, and over delivers. Pale ruby colour.  Light aromas of grilled sausage and dark fruit. Medium plus body with medium acidity.  Vanilla, cherry, raspberry and sausage flavours all together. Lots of nice flavours.  Dry with soft tannins.

Some Favourite Fortified Wines

  • Sogrape Vinhos Ferreira 20-Year-Old Duque de Braganca (Portugal). Light tawny colour in the glass. Ripe sweet fruit and Malmsey Madeira nose.  Round mouthfeel, medium sweetness. Apples, plums, chocolate and spice. Nice.
  • Fonseca N/V Terra Prima Organic Port ($31.99).  Rich black fruit nose.  Medium body in your mouth.  Spicy with plums, cherries, and chocolate flavours.  Medium sweetness. Very nice.
  • Mount Baker Vineyards Late Harvest Viognier 2007, Washington (US$20 for a half bottle). Deep lemon in colour.  Pretty nose with peaches, oranges and honey. Unctus in your mouth. Sweet with honey, honeydew melon, and peach flavours. Good acidity to balance this wine. A wonderful wine. Highly recommended to top off a nice meal with family or friends.
  • Fonseca 20 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal ($63.99).  A tawny port is aged in wooden barrels, which exposes the wine to oxygen causing oxidation. As a result, these wines  gradually turn to a golden-brown colour. The exposure to oxygen also imparts “nutty” flavours to the wine. This wine had caramel and roses aromas in the glass.  Amazing flavour with sweet spices, nuttiness and butterscotch.  Sweet but dry with a long length.  I REALLY liked this wine.

There are many more in my archives, so please check there as well for a specific varietal or style. www.mywinepal.com and of course the blog right here!  Cheers and Happy Holidays to all my friends, near and far.

French Wine Connection 2011 Visits Vancouver – Do You Like Organic Wines?

Organic and biodynamic wineries from France were here in Vancouver on November 9 to show what they have to offer to our market. I think organic and biodynamic wines are becoming more well-known and more people are specifically searching for these types of wines.

What are Organic and Biodynamic Wines?

Just in case you are not familiar with these terms, “Organic” wines are wines that are produced from grapes that have been grown without the use of any artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Also in the wine making process, no sulfites may be applied as a disinfectant to the wine bottle.  Biodynamic wines use organic principles, but go even further, into using special preparations (fertilizers) to apply to the vines, no copper sprays are applied to the leaves of the grapes to prevent powdery mildew, and various vineyard tasks are undertaken according to the phase of the moon.  There is much more to biodynamic wine making and viticulture than this, so I refer you to this Wikipedia article on biodynamic wine making.

White Wine Picks

  • Domaine Renaud Boyer Bourgogne 2009 and Saint-Romain 2009

    Domaine Renaud Boyer Bourgogne 2010, Burgundy, France. (organic) Light stone fruit and honey nose. Cinnamon upfront on your palate with red apples mid-palate.  Light body, dry with medium acidity and medium length.  Very nice.

  • Chateau Pouchaud-Larquey 2010, Entre-deux-Mers, France.  (organic) This organic wine won a Silver Medal at the Concours d’Aquitaine des vins issus de l’agriculture biologique 2010. Although the grape varieties are not listed, I would guess that this is a Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc blend, as these are the customary white grapes of the Bordeaux region. This wine had a light stone fruit nose.  High acidity with peach and other stone fruits, and citrus flavours.  It was very fruity with a medium body.
  • Chateau de Lagarde “Cuvee Prestiage” 2009, AOC Bordeaux Superieur, France. (organic) Another Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc blend. Medium lemon in colour.  Honey, stone fruit and oak aromas. Round mouthfeel with medium minus acidity.  Lemon, oak and sweet spice on the palate.  Medium plus length. Very nice.
  • Caves Jean Bourdy Cotes du Jura varied vintages

    Caves Jean Bourdy Cotes du Jura 1959, Jura, France.  (biodynamic since 2006)) The Jura region is along the eastern border of France. How often do you get a chance to try a 42 year old wine?  I never have.  This is a very cool climate wine made from the Chardonnay grape.  The wines are aged in 4-5 year old barrels and undergoes malolactic fermentation.  This wine was pear skin with a brownish tint. Oxidized nose with honey and caramel aromas.  Medium minus body, with high acid, green apples and caramel flavours.  Wow, a very interesting wine.

  • Caves Jean Bourdy Cotes du Jura 2003 “Vin Jaune”, Jura, France.  (biodynamic since 2006) Vin Jaune is also new to me, yet very familiar. If you have tried a fino sherry, Vin Jaune undergoes the same process.  This wine is produced from the Savagnin grape. After fermentation the wine barrels are filled up to the top and allowed to evaporate, reducing the volume in the barrel and a creating an air pocket at the top of the barrel. As the wine oxidizes, it grows a film of yeast that is similar, but not the same as the flor growing on fino sherry. Limpid lemon colour.  Very much a dry sherry / cognac nose.  Also some caramel aromas.  Medium body with oak, citrus, tar, apples and spice.  Very interesting.
  • Chemin de Bassac ISA White, 2010, Languedoc-Roussillon, France. (organic) This is a Roussane / Viognier blend.  Light lemon colour.  Light lemon and stone fruit nose.  Very fruity. Dry but tastes sweet from the fruit.  Citrus, apples and stone fruit flavours.
  • Domaine du Closel Savennieres Le Clos du Papillon 2007, Loire Valley, France. The LoireValley produces Chenin Blanc wines in many styles from still, to sparkling, to dessert.  This wine is a still wine.  Pale lemon, with caramel and oxidized fruit nose. Cinnamon, citrus and oak flavours.  Round mouth feel. Quite elegant.
  • Agence CLVD O by Gilles Louvet Chardonnay 2010, Southern France. Nice colour.  Lemony gold. Light tropical fruit nose. Medium body, round with undertone of acid.  Red apples with some sweet spice and vanilla. Elegant.
  • Lescarret Zacmau 2010, AOC Gaillac (South west), France.  This is made with a little known white aromatic grape called mauzac.  This wine has a nice pear and honey nose. Round with medium minus body, honey, peach and apples.  Medium acidity to keep the wine refreshing.  A real surprising wine and one I would look for.

Red Wine Picks

  • Domaine de Petit Roubie Syrah

    Chateau Pouchaud-Larquey 2009, Bordeaux, France. This is a Bordeaux blend.  Deeper garnet in colour.  Cherries and some meatiness on the nose. Fruity dark fruit with cassis, some tar and vanilla. Dry with medium tannins.

  • Petit Roubie Syrah 2010, Languedoc-Roussillon, France. Opaque ruby.  Nice nose with fried bacon and dark fruit aromas. Lots of fruit.  Blueberries, ripe black fruits and cherries, along with nutmeg spice and vanilla.  Dry tannins.  A real tasty wine.
  • Montirius Le Clos 2007, AOC Vacqueyras, France. (biodynamic) This is a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah. Medium garnet in colour.  Dark fruit, sausage and meaty nose.  Medium body.  Round mouth feel with cherries, dark fruit and some spice.
  • Montirius Terre des Aines 2009, AOC Vacqueyras, France. (biodynamic) This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre.  Medium garnet in the glass.  Violets, cherries and kirsch.  Tons of flavour.

All these wines need a local rep to bring them into the BC market.  So keep your eyes open and check the French wine section.  Maybe one of these organic or biodynamic wines will show up soon.

Highlights from the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fest – Day 1

Yesterday was a day of tasting primarily Spanish wines at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. Quite a range from sherries to white, red, and Cavas to choose from. I haven’t been able to get through them all, but here are the names of a few bottles you may want to try if you go to the International Tasting room tonight or tomorrow night. Full reviews for these wines and others will come after the festival on my main www.MyWinePal.com website.

My Spanish Wine Picks for Day 1:

  • Alvaro Palacios Remonda la Vendimia 2009
  • Alvaro Palacios Remonda la Montessa 2007
  • Bodegas Chivite Gran Feudo Edicion Vinas Viejas Reserva 2005
  • Grupo Faustino Fortius Reserva 2004
  • Freixenet Elyssia Pinot Noir (sparkling)
  • Gonzalez Byass Finca Constancia Cosecha 2008
  • Marques de Riscal Gran Reserva 2003 (my favorite of the night)
  • Bodegas Olivares Rose 2010 ($12 bottle of rose is a great deal!)
  • Cavas Pares Balta Blanc de Pacs 2010 (a still white made from traditional Cava grapes. Great flavour. It is organic too.)

Most of the red wines above are 100% tempranillo, or a blend with tempranillo. Note that there are many other wines I could add to this list, but today I’m keeping things short.

Today is tasting room time again. I’ll be trying the rest of the world mainly, and finish off a bit of Spain. Saturday is jam packed for me, attending the New Zealand Perfect Pairings, the grenache seminar, and the Cinq a Sept French event. I hope you get a chance to try one of the above wines, and to meet you at one of the events. Please say Hi. Enjoy!

Wineries for Sale?

After coming across the E.B. Foote winery last month, and finding they are for sale for US$500,000, I started to wonder what other wineries are for sale, and how much would it cost.  I googled “winery for sale” and found the VineSmart website.  They had 20 featured wineries on their front page.

One of the wineries is in BC.  Clicking on the link, I find out it is the Morning Bay Estate Winery, Pender Island, BC.  Property Location:  6643 Razor Point Road,  Pender Island. It is 26+ acres in size with 7 acres (5000 vines) planted with vines.  Price is $2,900,000.  I am not sure if that is Canadian dollars, and if there is HST on top of the price.  The realtor is Sam Boyte and his tel is (250) 704 6226.
If a BC winery is not exciting enough for you, how about one in Argentina? Imagine producing your own Malbec!  The one for sale is an organic winery in San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina.  It also has a hotel and restaurant attached with the winery.

The vineyards have about 50 acres of certified organic vines, including merlot, malbec, semillion, syrah, chenin and ugni blanc.

There is an additional 16 acres of vineyard in common table wine — muscatel and pedro jimenez, and another 2.5 acres of syrah.

All this plus the hotel and restaurant for US$1,500,000, but it says the price is negotiable.

The VineSmart website also has wineries for sale from California, Australia, New Zealand, and more.  Check it out, and dream like me.  Enjoy!

Some Chilean insights to vineyards and wine

I thought i’d pass along 2 bits of info i learned while i was speaking with wine makers in Chile.

1. organic red grapes appear to have thicker skins and can be more tannic than non-organic grapes (at least for Chile). So different vinification is needed for organic red grapes vs non-organic. The winemaker suggested that less maceration is needed as you would get too much tannins from the organic grapes.

2. deeper soils make softer tannins for red grapes (at least for Chile). For a cabernet sauvignon, it appeared that the deeper soil made softer tannins, and the shallower soil made firmer tannins. So the wine maker, knowing the differences caused by soil depth, vinified the cabernet plots separately and came out with two entirely different wines.

Do u have any stories like this from winemakers around the world? If so, please let me know.

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!

Small wineries in Kelowna

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} catch(err) {}Everyone visits the big wineries in Kelowna, like Mission Hill and Quail’s Gate, but there are other small wineries worth a visit. This past week I had the pleasure of visiting:
Rollingdale Winery
Kalala Organic Estate Winery
Camelot Vineyards Estate Winery

Rollingdale Winery is located in Westbank very near to the other big wineries in the area. Rollingdale is certified organic, which I think is getting to be more common in the Okanagan. There was a wide range of wines to taste, from whites to reds to dessert wines. This winery started in 2004, with most of the vineyard area in Okanagan Falls and a few acres around the winery in Westbank. An interesting white was their 2007 Chardonnay / Semillon. This is a wild ferment. Vanilla on the nose. Very tart with green apple flavours. Would be good chilled with shellfish. Their red selection was quite large, with the winery making a 2007 “La Droite” and a 2006/07 “La Gauche” wine following the blends that are used in the Right and Left banks in Bordeaux. The “La Droite” was primary Merlot, with smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. This wine was deep purple in the glass. Sweet cherry / plum nose. Round mouth feel, cherry flavour and firm but not overpowering tannins. For those with a sweet tooth a nice wine was the 2007 Pinot Noir Icewine. Pear coloured. Apple, pear, and burnt matches aroma and flavours. Good acidity to balance the sweetness.

Another certified organic winery I visited on this trip was Kalala Organic Estate Winery, also located in Westbank. I was impressed with all the wines they let me try. As it is now officially summer, I welcomed the Pinot Noir Rose 2007. This wine is light salmon / orangy in colour. Strawberry and cranberry nose. Strawberry flavour with good acidity. A great choice for a patio sipper. An unusual wine that I tried (and bought a few bottles) was their Kalala Cuvee Noir 2007. What made it unusual? The 3 varietals that they used to make this wine: Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch, and Michurinetz. I’ve tried two of the 3 varietals before, but not all 3, and not all 3 blended together! This wine was a deep, bright purple colour. Red fruit, plummy nose. Sweet candy, red fruit, ripe cherry flavours with low tannins. This wine should hold up to full bodied grilled meats. The prices for Kalala’s wines are also excellent. The Cuvee is $14.95 and the Rose is $17.95. Only their Zweigelt icewine broke the $20 mark with a price of $75. They want to keep the prices reasonable to show people that organic wines need not be expensive and can be quite tasty. The Zweigelt icewine 2006 if you are curious, had honey, orange, butterscotch aromas and flavours.

The last winery I visited was Camelot Vineyards Estate Winery. I do not know if this is an organic winery, but I do know that it just opened to the public 2 weeks ago. They produce both red and white wines, but at the moment, only their white wines are bottled and ready for tasting. The reds I saw were still in barrels (both French and American oak) waiting for bottling next year I believe. The 2 whites I tried were a Pinot Gris and a Gewurztraminer. I enjoyed the Gewurztraimer. It was light bodied, with lychee and spice aromas and flavours. I have tasted many very nice Gewurztraimers from the Okanagan the last few years. If you have not had a chance to try a BC Gewurztraimer, you should give it a try.