Spring Winemaker’s Dinner With Howling Bluff May 15

Do you like BC wine?  Have you ever attended a BC Wine Appreciation Society event, such as this excellent sounding winemaker’s dinner with Howling Bluff?  The menu and wines look fantastic.  Check it out and sign up if you are salivating.

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BCWASThe BCWAS is delighted to announce our 2017 spring dinner! This dinner is all about the awards. Glowbal at Telus Garden has won awards for architecture and design as well as – importantly – the food. We think it will be a great place to host owner Luke Smith of Howling Bluff Estate Winery. Luke has won too many wine awards to mention here: in addition to two Lieutenant Governor’s Awards, he’s also garnered several Gold medals in Canadian and international competitions. Join us as we beat the winter blues! (After this winter, the blues will take a lot of beating!)

The Chef at Glowbal Telus Garden has crafted a menu especially for us:

Hamachi Crudo
Meyer Lemon, Fennel, Dill, Grapefruit
2015 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

Roasted Lamb Loin
Charred Cipollini Onion and Seabuckthorn Berry Relish
Wild Mushroom Crumb, Wild Stinging Nettle, Puffed Huckleberry Jus
2013 Three Mile Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir

Charred Yarrow Meadows Duck Breast
Spring Peas, Morel Mushrooms, Smoked Fingerling Potatoes
2013 Century Block Pinot Noir

Slow Cooked Beef Tenderloin
Crispy Bone Marrow, Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese Tart
Baby Spinach, Cherry Bordelaise Sauce
2012 Sin Cera (blend of Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot)

Seared Foie Gras, Dark Chocolate, Rye Cake, Beet Root
2009 Fort Summa Quies Pinot Noir dessert wine

Alternatively, for vegetarians we have something special as well:

Truffled Arancini
Meyer Lemon, Fennel, Dill, Grapefruit
2015 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

Roasted BC Mushrooms
Charred Cipollini Onion and Seabuckthorn Berry Relish
Wild Mushroom Crumb, Wild Stinging Nettle, Puffed Huckleberry Jus
2013 Three Mile Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir

“Peas & Carrots”
Spring Peas, Slow Cooked Baby Carrots, Morel Mushrooms, Smoked Fingerling Potatoes
2013 Century Block Pinot Noir

Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese Tart
Creamed Spinach, Crispy Walnuts, Soubise
2012 Sin Cera (blend of Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot)

Sorbet Trio
2009 Fort Summa Quies Pinot Noir dessert wine

Howling Bluff Estate Winery

Date: Monday, May 15, 2017
Time: 6:30pm (please arrive earlier to be seated)
Place: Glowbal at Telus Garden, 590 West Georgia Street, Vancouver
Price: $159 Members / $174 Guests via Interac e-transfer to info@bcwas.com
OR $165 Members / $180 Guests via Paypal (below)
​Important things to note:There will be pre-arranged seating at this dinner. When you sign-up, e-mail us at info@bcwas.com and let us know your chosen dinner companions, and we will do our best to fit everyone in.​

Members $165.00 CAD
Non-Members $180.00 CAD

​Alternatively, cheques can be mailed to: BC Wine Appreciation SocietyPO Box 48912 Bentall Station, Vancouver, BC  V7X 1A8 ​  (Note: Receipt of your payment is required to hold your seat – please notify us by e-mail if you are mailing a cheque.)

2017/2018 BCWAS membership: Join us now, and your membership is good until March of 2018. Only $40 for more than a year of our fun and fabulous events! Click here to become a member of the best wine club in town. http://www.bcwas.com/membership.html

Questions? Contact us at membership@bcwas.com

Please note – there are no paper tickets for our events. Once your purchase is completed you will be added to our attendees list. Please check in when you arrive.

Please make sure you have a safe way home: take transit, call a cab, or ask a friend to be a designated driver. We will have free transit tickets on hand for those who take transit home.

Please note that we are unable to provide refunds. If you purchase a ticket but cannot attend the event, please let us know with as much advance notice as possible and we’ll try to re-sell your ticket, but we cannot guarantee this.

Inception A Red Blend from South Africa: My Review

I received a bottle of Inception 2012, a red blend of 81% Shiraz, 10% Petit Verdot, and 9% Mourvedre. This wine I was told is being released first in Canada before the rest of the world. It is produced in South Africa, a country that has its feet in both the Old World and the New World of wine making style. Wines that I have tasted in the past from South Africa, tended to be enjoyed with meals more than on their own.

From the information provided with this wine, it appears that quite a bit of care was taken to hand pick the grapes, then ferment each grape variety separately in stainless steel tanks. followed by a full malolactic fermentation (to make the wine smoother and rounder), followed by aging in oak barrels for 12-14 months and blending.

Inception 2012 bottle and glass of wine

Inception 2012 bottle and glass of wine

My Tasting Notes for Inception 2012

The wine is deep ruby in colour.  It has a pronounced nose, with primary aromas of red fruit, smoke and meatiness, followed secondarily with raspberry, vanilla, leather and chocolate.  It has a bit of sweetness to it, at 17.2 g/l of residual sugar.  Quite soft, round and smooth on the palate, but overall has a very light mouth feel.  Mainly red fruit and chocolate flavours, with lesser amouhts of red cherry and black currant.  The sweetness is the first sensation you get on the palate and continues to the finish.  On the finish you get mouth watering acidity and pepperiness.  The tannins are very light on this wine, and I think would help to bring a bit more structure to the wine.  This wine will be a hit for those of you who like Apothic Red or Yellowtail wines.  I think people who do not like tannic wines and just want something to sip at a party would enjoy this wine.  The price is nice.  In BC $14.99 a bottle.

Enjoy the Ultra-Premium Wines from Long Shadows Vintners

Have you heard of Long Shadows Vintners? It might not be a well-known name here in Vancouver, but this Washington State winery has made it’s name in it’s home state and I hope expand it across the States and Canada. For most wineries, you have a single wine maker to guide the wine making process. Long Shadows is different. For each wine, it has it’s own wine maker. And beyond that, a super-star wine maker from somewhere around the world.

Washington State has some wonderful grape producing regions.  The grapes for the Long Shadows wines comes from the Columbia Valley.  Within the Columbia Valley you have individual vineyards, with their unique terroir. The winery is located in Walla Walla, which is located in the southeast corner of Washington state.

How did Long Shadows decide to work with international wine makers for their wines? That vision comes from the founder, Allen Shoup.  Allen was the CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.  With his time there, he brought over Piero Antinori to produce the Tuscan-inspired wine, Col Solare.  He then brought over Dr. Ernst Loosen to produce their Eroica riesling. So when he started Long Shadows, Allen again contacted well-regarded wine makers from around the world to produce his wines.

The Wines I Tasted

Long Shadows Poet's Leap Riesling

Poet’s Leap Riesling 2010. This wine was crafted by Armin Diel, one of Germany highly acclaimed riesling producer.  The Diel family owns and operates Schlossgut Diel estate in Germany. The grapes for this wine were hand harvested and sorted, whole cluster pressed and fermented at cool temperature in stainless steel tanks. The wine was pale lemon coloured in the glass.  Nice nose.  Very fragrant with flowers, citrus, orange and honeysuckle. Medium body, round, off-dry.  Flowers and citrus flavours with sweet spices showing up mid-palate. Long length.  I loved this wine.

Pirouette 2005. This is a Bordeaux style red blend, primarily made with Cabernet Sauvignon with lesser amounts of Petit Verdot and Merlot. This wine is made by wine makers Philippe Melka and Augustin Huneeus, Sr. Philippe Melka originall from Bordeaux has worked around the world at J. P. Moueix in France, Chittering Estate in Western Australia, Badia a Coltibuono in Italy, and Dominus in California. Augustin Huneeus, Sr. is a native Chilean who has worked at Veramonte (Primus) and Concha y Toro of Chile, and Franciscan Oakville Estate, Mount Veeder, Estancia and Quintessa in California. This wine was light garnet in colour. Vanilla, cedar and ripe cherry aromas.  Medium plus body. Very smooth with medium tannins and acidity.  Cedar, cherries and other black fruit flavours. Long length.

Chester-Kidder 2oo4. This wine is listed as a New World blend, as it has grapes from different Old World wine regions.  In this case you have Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Merlot (which are Bordeaux grapes), Syrah (which is a Rhone Valley grape), and Cabernet Franc (which is in both Bordeaux and in the Loire Valley). This wine was produced by Gilles Nicault and Allen Shoup.  Gilles Nicault graduated from the University of Avignon in southern France and worked at wineries across Cote Du Rhone, Provence and Champagne. He then moved to the United States to Woodward Canyon and the Hogue Winery (If you haven’t tried Woodward Canyon, you should.  Wonderful wines.).This wine is aged for 30 months in French oak, and a small amount of Hungarian oak. The Cabernet grapes coming from the Red Mountain and Candy Mountain regions of Columbia Valley, and Syrah from their estate Benches Vineyards in Horse Heaven Hills. Translucent garnet in the glass.  Restrained nose with light vanilla and sausage aromas.  Very flavorful with ripe berries and vanilla.  Smooth with medium tannins and acidity.  A bit of pepper mid to late palate.  Long length.

Saggi 2007. A Super-Tuscan inspired blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah produced by father and son wine makers, Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari. Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari operate Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari Tenute, producing primarily Tuscan “grand crus,” in Tuscany. Prior to launching A. & G. Folonari Tenute, Ambrogio was the president of Ruffino, which was originally purchased in 1912 by Ambrogio’s grandfather. Saggi was aged in new and used small French oak barrels for an average of 18 months. The Sangiovese grapes comes from vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills, the Benches and Alder Ridge.  The Syrah from the Boushey Vineyard. This wine was medium ruby coloured with a light cherry nose. Full body with round mouthfeel.  Heavy weight in your mouth. Medium minus tannins with vanilla, red cherries, oak and peppery flavours.

Feather 2006. Feather is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, with grapes from several vineyards across the Columbia Valley AVA.  The wine is crafted by Napa Valley vintner Randy Dunn, who is well known for producing world-class Cabernet Sauvignon wines. The grapes are hand harvested, fermented in small lots for an average of 22 months in new French oak barrels. The wine was light garnet in colour.  A whiff of capsicum on the nose, along with vanilla and light cherry aromas.  Dry with firm tannins. Flavours of ripe red fruit, cherry, vanilla with some pepperiness and tarriness. A very nice wine.

Sequel Syrah 2006. This wine is created by John Duval, former wine maker of Australia’s Penfold’s Grange wine, which is a Syrah-based wine.  So Sequel is aptly named as the follow up for John in Washington State.  The grapes for this wine come from The Benches, Alder Ridge (for dark fruit falvour), Red Mountain (for structure) and Boushey Vineyard (for elegance) according to John. Deep garnet in the glass. Gamey, smokey sausage with vanilla and cherry aromas. Medium body, round mouthfeel with medium acidity.  Ripe cherries, oak, almonds, and vanilla flavours with a long dry finish.

Long Shadows Pedestal Merlot

Pedestal Merlot 2006. This wine is crafted by one of the world’s most famous wine makers, Mr. Michel Rolland, an enologist from Pomerol in Bordeaux, France. Hand harvested grapes were then whole-berry fermented to provide softer tannins and to preserve the grapes’ aromatics.  The wines then spent an average of 22 months of aging in French oak barrels. This wine was medium garnet in colour.  Light nose with red fruit, plums and vanilla.  Very flavourful.  Medium body with cherries and vanilla, and soft tannins with kick in the mid to end palate. Long finish.  Another of my favorite wines of this tasting.

There were also three collaborative wines, named Nine Hats. These wines come from individual wines produced by the wine makers, that are then blended to form the Nine Hats series of wines.

Nine Hats Sangiovese 2008. Light garnet in colour.  Light red fruit and oak aromas.  Light body. Dry with low tannins.  Clove, red cherry and vanilla flavours.  An elegant wine.

Nine Hats Bordeaux Blend 2008.  Deep ruby in colour with a light red fruit nose.  Dry, with firm tannins.  Vanilla, red apples, plums, bon bon and vanilla (mid palate). Long length. Another one of my favourite wines.

Nine Hats Syrah 2008. Medium purple in the glass. Red fruit and sausage aromas.  Medium body, smooth with good acidity. Vanilla, red cherries, spice and a bit of sausage flavours. Long length.

The Sequel, Chester Kidder, Pedestal, Pirouette and Feather wines will have new, lower pricing here in Vancouver starting approximately August 1.  Check out for Long Shadows wines at private wine shops, or email adoyle@markanthony.com to find out which shops near you have their wines.

If you would like to learn more about Long Shadows Vintners, I provided this link.

Have You Been to Lulu Island Winery? @LuluIslandWine

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

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

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

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

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

30 Year Anniversary of Meerlust Rubicon

Nobody said crossing the Rubicon would be easy. The Rubicon was the name of the river crossed by Julius Caesar when he advanced upon Rome to wrest sole control over the ancient city from the senate and its ruling triumvirate of consuls in 49BC.

It is said that when you “Cross the Rubicon“, it means you have made a decision and cannot go back.  Thirty years ago, Nico Myburgh, Meerlust’s seventh-generation owner and vintner from the 1950s to the 1980s, committed his pioneering vision of a Cape version of the classic Bordeaux red blend to bottle in 1980.  And thus Meerlust’s Rubicon was born in 1984.

Nico Myburgh had committed himself to his vision of making a premium red blend after travelling in France in 1967 and visiting some of the most renowned Bordeaux estates.

In the three-centuries-old South African Cape Dutch homestead,  the 30th vintage of Meerlust Rubicon has been assembled from the farm’s finest barrels of 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. And, for the first time, a dash of another classic Bordeaux blending ingredient has been added: Petit Verdot. This wine will be released in 2014, as per tradition of waiting for four years after bottling to let the wine’s components integrate.

The Meerlust Rubicon 2001 was listed as No 27 in the Top 100 wines for 2006 by Wine Enthusiast and winning the Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande trophy for best red blend at the 2006 International Wine & Spirit Competition in London. The Meerlust Rubicon 2004 was awarded 90 points by Wine Spectator in 2008 and voted best New World red in Decanter in 2009.

I have tried the Meerlust Rubicon in the past through the South World Wine Society and can vouch for the quality of this wine.  I am also a fan of the Meerlust Chardonnay and the Meerlust Merlot.  You cannot go wrong with any of these wines.  For more information about Meerlust and Rubicon. Enjoy!

A Visit to Chateau Ste Michelle and Airfield Estates in Washington State

This past weekend I made a short trip across the border to visit a few wineries in Washington State.  One of the days was a visit to Chateau Ste Michelle and Airfield Estates, located in Woodinville, WA.   It was quite a contrast in scale, but the people I spoke to at both wineries were passionate about the wines that they produced.  I like that.  What did I try, and do I have any recommendations for you?  Of course!

Chateau Ste. Michelle

I spent an hour at Chateau Ste. Michelle, being led through a tasting of wines with one of their staff members, Bob.  I appreciate all the time Bob spent with me, considering how busy the tasting room was at that time.  I tried white, red, and dessert wines.

On the white wine side, I thought their Cold Creek Chardonnay 2008 (US$25.99) was very elegant.  The Cold Creek vineyard is the oldest and hottest vineyard owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle in the Columbia Valley.  This wine was medium golden in the glass. Vanilla, oak, lemon and apple aromas.  It was medium body with toasty, lemon and light spice on the palate.  Light acidity to complement the roundness of the wine.  Spice and lemon on the finish.  Would go nicely with some salmon.

An easy drinking white was their Pinot Gris 2008 (US$14.99). Pale lemon in colour.  Lemon, spice and apple aromas.  Crisp acidity, with apple, melon and oak flavour.  Medium body with nice round mouthfeel.

For their red wines, I have a few recommendations.  The Cold Creek Merlot 2007 (US$30) is big and bold.  Deep puple in colour.  Vanilla and cherry on the nose.  Round and smooth on the palate, with tannins kicking in mid palate.  Flavours of ripe black cherries and a hint of chocolate.  Medium length with a very drink finish. Drink now or wait a year.

Canoe Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from the Horse Heaven Hills was also another big wine.  Canoe Ridge is their mid-tier wine level. The grapes for this wine comes from their Horse Heaven Hills vineyard.  Deep purple in colour.  Purple fruit, vanilla, and sweet ripe plum aromas.  Juicy plums and cherry flavours along with vanilla.  Medium body with fine tannins and a dry soft finish.  There was a hint of cedar and some chocolate on the palate as well.  This wine coated my glass.  Very nice.

My last red wine pick is their Ethos Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.  Ethos is the top tier wine level from Chateau Ste Michelle.  This wine received 90 points from Wine Spectator and 92 points from The Wine Advocate, and is my top wine pick!  The wine is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 3% Syrah. The wine is deep garnet in colour.  A nice nose, with aromas of capsicum, cherry, and meat.  Round on the palate with soft tannins.  Meaty, cassis, black cherry, and chocolate flavours.  The wine went through a very light filtering before being bottled, so don’t be surprised to see a bit of sediment in your glass.

For dessert wines, I was infatuated with their Eroica Riesling Ice Wine 2006 (US$60 for 375ml bottle). This wine was made in conjunction with Dr. Loosen from Germany. The Riesling grapes were harvested from their Horse Heaven Vineyard on Oct 31, which according to Chateau Ste Michelle is very rare.  This is only the fifth time in their 40 year history that this has occurred.  It scored 93 pts in Wine Spectator. The wine was a medium golden colour in the glass.  Petrol, flowers, lemon nose.  Very pretty. Medium body, with a wonderful lime flavour, petrol, and good acidity to balance the sugar and fruit.  Medium sweetness.  Lovely lime finish.

Airfield Estates Winery

Airfield Estates winery is a family-owned operation.  It has passed through a few generations.  Why “Airfield Estates”?  During WWII the US Military asked the Miller family if they could setup an airbase on their land to train pilots. The airbase continued operations until the mid 1940’s. Shortly after WWII came to an end, the pilots moved off-site and the recently constructed buildings were auctioned off to the highest bidder. The only bidder turned out to be H. Lloyd Miller. These unique buildings became the headquarters of the Miller family’s farming operations up to today. You will notice an aeronautical theme to all their wine labels.  They have a Thunderbolt, Lightning, and Mustang wine, which are three different types of fighter aircraft.

A white wine I particularly liked was their Gewurztraminer 2009 (US$14).  Pale lemon with a green tinge in the glass. Lots of lychee and pear aromas.  Some spiciness with pear and lychee flavour.  Medium length.

Another white I liked was their Lightning 2008 (US$18). This is a Rhone-inspired blend, consisting of 50% Viognier, 25% Rousanne, 20% Chardonnay, and 5% Marsanne.  It scored 90 Points on Wine Advocate. Pineapple and vanilla aromas. Medium acidity but still quite a creamy mouthfeel.  Peach and some oak flavours.  Medium length.

On the red side, I enjoyed their Mustang 2008 (US$25). This is a blend of 53% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 8% Cinsault, 2% Counoise, and 2% Mourvedre.  I had not heard of the Counoise grape before.  From Wikipedia: “Counoise is a dark-skinned wine grape grown primarily in the Rhône valley region of France. Counoise adds a peppery note and good acidity to a blended red wine, but does not have much depth of colour or tannin.”  This wine was medium purple in colour.  Quite a complex nose, with aromas of cassis, vanilla, and cherry. Medium body with soft tannins.  Red cherry, raspberry, vanilla, and butterscotch flavours.  Medium length.

Another red wine of note is their Aviator 2008 (US$30). It is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, and 5% Malbec.  A Bordeaux blend, just missing Carmenere.  Medium garnet in colour.  Capsicum, vanilla, plum and some meatiness on the nose.  Medium plus body.  Round up front, then dry on the finish.  Capsicum, vanilla, and cherry flavours.

If you live in the Vancouver, BC area, it is only a short 2 hour car ride to Woodinville, WA.  There are many wineries in the area for you to explore.  Enjoy!

Bordeaux 2007 Release Preview. What to Expect?

Today the Cambie Street BC Liquor Store had a pre-release showing of six red Bordeaux wines from the 2007 vintage. As expected, the tasting area was packed full of people wanting to get a taste of what to expect with the BCLDB releases all their 2007 Bordeaux inventory on September 25, 2010.

The 2007 vintage I was told at this tasting was a cool year. So do not expect, big, full-bodied reds. Expect a leaner, lighter style. Also expect the blend to change, as it does every year. Cabernet Sauvignon loves heat, while Merlot does very well with cooler temperatures, so for this cooler vintage, expect to see a greater percentage of Merlot in the blends.

The first three wines I tasted were:
Chateau Belle Vue, Haut-Medoc AOC 2007
– Chateau Puy Blanquet, St Emilion Grand Cru AOC 2007
– Chateau Sainte Colombe, Côtes de Castillon AOC 2007

The Chateau Belle Vue is a 70% Merlot / 20% Cabernet Franc / 10% Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Deep garnet in the glass. A very nice colour. Quite smoky aromas, along with black berries and cherries. Firm tannins with bright cherry fruit and a medium length. Good to drink now.

I do like the wines from the St. Emilion region and was looking forward to trying the Chateau Puy Blanquet . It was light garnet in colour with aromas of red cherries and a bit of vanilla. Soft mouthfeel with red cherries flavours. The tannins built as you kept the wine in your mouth longer. Thin body and short length. I was hoping for more.

Chateau Sainte Colombe is a blend of 70% Merlot / 20% Cabernet Franc / 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium garnet colour. Closed nose, but I was able to pull out some capsicum, vanilla and cherries. On the palate, it was quite round, with cassis, red cherries and oak flavours. Medium tannins and medium length. Not bad. Maybe with a bit of time exposed to the air, the nose would have opened up more.

The next three wines I would rank at a higher level of wine making. These wines are more structured with more length and interesting flavours and aromas. The three wines are:

Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux AOC 2007
– Chateau de Gironville, Haut-Medoc AOC 2007
– Chateau Moulin Haut-Laroque, Fronsac AOC 2007

The Alter Ego de Palmer, is the second label for the well-regarded Chateau Palmer winery. This wine was a blend of 60% Merlot / 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was deep purple coloured in the glass. Meaty, dark cherry, cassis, and vanilla aromas. Full bodied, with ripe cherries, vanilla, and medium fine tanning. It had a very nice cherry finish and a long length. Overall my favorite of all six wines, but comes with a $59 price tag. Clearly not the most expensive of the upcoming Bordeaux releases (which can be easily $600+), but I think would be a special occasion wine for many people.

The Chateau de Gironville is a blend of 45% Merlot / 45% Cabernet Sauvignon / 10% Petit Verdot. Opaque purple in the glass (courtesy of the Petit Verdot). A very aromatic nose. Lots of coffee of black cherry. On the palate you get firm tannins, with black cherry, coffee, and vanilla flavours. Full body with long length. I personally purchased a bottle of this wine. A nice price point at $22.99.

The final wine was the Chateau Moulin Haut-Laroque. Opaque purple/garnet in the glass. It had a chemical / woody nose that I did not particularly enjoy. Medium body, with cassis and cherry flavours. Round mouthfeel but an astringent finish. Maybe this wine needs a few years to evolve in the bottle?

I’d advise those of you going to buy the 2007 red Bordeaux’s to do some research online to find out what other professional reviewers have said about the wines. Do not forget that there will also be white Bordeaux being released. With the cooler temperature of the 2007 growing season, this gives the semillon and sauvignon blanc grapes plenty of time to mature on the vine and to keep their fresh fruitiness and good acidity. It also I am told was very good for Sauternes. Be sure to line up early at the Cambie St specialty wine store on September 25, 2010! Enjoy.

Bordeaux Blends for the Long Weekend

Our last long weekend, Labour Day, is upon us. Soon the rains will start here in BC. So fire up the BBQ for maybe one last great hurrah, and open a bottle of a BC Bordeaux blend.

When I speak of Bordeaux blend, in this blog I’m talking about red wine. There is a white Bordeaux blend, but I’ll cover that in a different blog.

In a red Bordeaux blend, you can have a blend of up to the following different grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere. Malbec and Carmenere are rarely used in Bordeaux now as they were hard to harvest to ripeness and most of the vines are gone. In Bordeaux due to the variations in the climate each year; sometimes a cooler year, and sometimes warmer, you needed to blend earlier ripening and later ripening grapes in order to get a good wine. In the Okanagan, we are blessed with fairly good weather every summer so we can do single varietals, but still blending adds additional complexity to the wine.

With that said, I checked into everythingwine.ca and identified the following BC Bordeaux blends in the $15-$25 range:

Black Widow Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 375 mL Red blend $24.99
Blasted Church Winery Big Bang Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $23.99
Domaine de Chaberton Canoe Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $15.99
Fork In The Road Winery Oliver Block 249 Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Hester Creek 2004 Cabernet – Merlot – Cab Franc 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Kalala Organic Estate Winery Cuvee Noir 2008 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Kettle Valley Starboard Fortified Malbec / Petit Verdot 375ml Red blend $24.99
Kettle Valley Old Main Red 375ml Red blend $23.99
Lake Breeze Vineyards Meritage Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $24.99
Road 13 Vineyards Rockpile Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $24.99
Sonora Ranch Proprietor’s Select Red 1.5 L Red blend $15.99
Therapy Vineyards Freud’s Ego 750ml Red blend $19.99
Toscano Rosso Red 2.0L Red blend $16.99

A few of the above blends may have some non-Bordeaux variety grapes in them, such as the Kalala Cuvee Noir, but most I think are all true Bordeaux blends.  In the past I’ve tasted the following BC Bordeaux blends:

Van Westen Vineyards Voluptuous Merlot / Cabernet Franc    2006    Deep reddish purple. Light aromas of cherry, cedar and slight herbaceousness. Round mouthfeel.  Dark fruit liquor, cherry and plum flavours with a vanilla finish.

Poplar Grove    Legacy Merlot / Cabernet Franc / Cabernet Sauvignon / Malbec    2004    Black fruit aromas with a slight wisp of capsicum.  Round mouthfeel with dark fruit and firm tannins.  Dry with a black cherry finish.

Howling Bluff    Sin Cera Merlot / Cabernet Franc / Malbec    2007    Deep purple with a red edge. Smoky, dark fruit aromas.  Dark fruit, cherry and spicy flavours.  Spicy / cherry finish.  Firm tannins.

Black Widow Winery    Hourglass Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon    2007    Nice nose with casis, cherry, plum and vanilla.  Fruit forward.  Black cherry, plum and some vanilla on palate.  Medium length.

Therapy Vineyards    Freud’s Ego Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc / Merlot    2007    Medium garnet with slight purple colouration.  Oak, cherry, currant and cedar aromas.  Cherry, red and dark berries, and vanilla flavour.  Round mouth feel, soft tannins.  Cherry finish.

I have many more in the list, but to keep it brief, I’ve listed just a few.  I hope you enjoy your Labour Day long weekend with a red  BC Bordeaux blend.

Cheers.

Celebrate Argentina Wines 2009

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} catch(err) {}Having both the Wines of Chile and the Wines of Argentina in the same week have been taxing, but very fulfilling. I tried many new wines from many new wineries this week, and I look forward to seeing these new wines in our government and private wine shops. On this post I focus on the Argentina event.

Argentina has been making wines over the last 300 years, with most of the consumption within the country. Over the past 20 years exports of Argentinean wine has grown. Canada is now starting to get many more Argentinean wines.

For this tasting, there was of course many bottles of Malbec to taste, but also now a wide range of other varietals such as Semillon, Pinot Noir, Torrontes (the signature white grape of Argentina) and Petit Verdot! I was particularly suprised to see the Pinot Noir as it is such a finicky grape and loves cool climate, while the major wine region of Argentina, Mendoza, is quite hot and Malbec thrives there. I also enjoyed watching the Argentinean tango being danced at the event.

So what were some of the highlight wines that I came across at this evening’s event?

Urraca Chardonnay 2008. This wine had a nice oaky, earthy nose. Round in the mouth with nice lemon flavour and a long finish. Not overly oaked. This winery needs an agent so we can see their wines.
Juana del Sol Chardonnay 2009. This wine has understated elegance. Pale lemon in colour with a light oak nose. Round. Vanilla and stone fruit flavours. They also need an agent.
Sur de los Andes Torrontes 2008. Medium lemon coloured. Light pine needle aroma. FULL flavour. Pine needles and apples with a grapefruit finish. Maybe try instead of a Sauvignon Blanc sometime.
Filus Reserva Malbec 2007. Deep purple in the glass. Ripe sweet red fruit with cherry liquor flavours. Vanilla, red fruit and plum on the nose. Tannic finish, but not unpleasant. This winery needs an agent.
Aconcagua Malbec 2008. Deep purple coloured. Very aromatic. Smoky, herbal, cherry aromas. Smoky, earthy and dark fruit flavours with a cherry finish. Nice round mouth feel. One of my favorites, and should be around $15 when it comes to BC.
Sottano Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. Medium garnet in the glass. Classic cassis nose. Cassis and cherry on the palate. Lots of fruit flavour and low tannins.

There is a peek at a few of the wines of the evening. There were many more, and I’ll be posting them on www.mywinepal.com in the Wine Reviews section. Keep your eyes open for these wines coming soon to BC. Salud!

Pacific Breeze Winery

Many people living in New Westminster probably drive by this winery and don’t realize it is there, and that they have very good wines. Hopefully this post, plus my past tweets will help let Vancouverites know about this winery and try their wines.

Last weekend, Pacific Breeze Winery, had a Summer Launch Release of their Sangiacomo Vineyards Chardonnay 2007 and their Lake County Killer Cab 2006. The grapes for both these wines come from California. The Chardonnay was medium lemon colour, lots of vanilla, citrus and pineapple on the nose. It was medium bodied, with some smoothness (so maybe partial MLF). Vanilla, pineapple and oak flavours. A very nice chardonnay.

The Killer Cab 2006 was medium purple in the glass. Black cherry, vanilla and other black fruit aromas. On the palate I tasted cassis, sweet fruit, black cherry liquor, and some spice. Nice round mouthfeel with medium tannins and a long finish. When the weather warms up this week, I think I’ll be bbq’ing and drinking this wine.

In their backroom, they had 2 additional wines to taste; the aCURE eSTATE Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 and the aCURE eSTATE Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. The 2005 was 81% Cab with 17% Merlot, 5% Cab Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, while the 2006 was 80% Cab with 16% Cab Franc, and 4% Petit Verdot. Both wines looked and tasted quite different. The 2005 was really dark and extracted in the glass. Vanilla, cassis, cherry and cedar aromas. Chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, and black cherry flavours. Very smooth. The 2006 was a medium garnet in colour (I thought it would be darker as it had a high percentage of Petit Verdot). Leathe, licorice, cherry, and nutmeg on the nose. Lots of cassis, black cherry and some spicy. Very tasty. Either wine is a winner.

Where is Pacific Breeze Winery? It is #6 – 320 Stewardson Way, New Westminster, BC. Hope you have a chance to visit them. Tell them Karl at MyWinePal sent you!