Join Bistro Pastis with their Alsatian Menu in June

Colmar in Alsace (Image courtesy Wikicommons Tizianok)

Colmar in Alsace (Image courtesy Wikicommons Tizianok)

Alsace is a wonderful region in northeastern France.  The confluence of German and French wine and cuisine.  Beautiful gingerbread-style houses.  I’ve been there once and would love to go again.  But in case you are like me, longing to visit, or have yet to visit, you can experience the cuisine of Alsace at Bistro Pastis till the end of June.  Here is their special menu for me and you.

Alsace Feature Menu

June 8th to 30th, 2017

Appetizers:

alsatian onion tarte
shaved spring vegetables, crème fraiche
$16

beef consommé
alsatian dumplings, brunoise mire poix
$12

smoked sturgeon carpaccio
fingerling potato salad, remoulade
$16

Mains

perch a la sauvigny
pan seared perch in cream sauce, buttered egg noodles, glazed asparagus
$30

choucroute garni
braised pork belly, house made sausage,
sauerkraut, potatoes

$29

beer braised duck leg
Roasted apples, pomme sardelaise, green beans
$29

Desserts

rhum baba
caramel sauce, “the kraken” rum raisin ice cream
$10

citrus madeleine
candied citrus zest
$9.50

 

Although there are no wine pairings shown, classic Alsatian wines are made from Pinot Noir, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Muscat d’Alsace, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer.

You can make a reservation to Bistro Pastis on OpenTable at this link.

Blue Mountain Winery Tasting at Seasons in the Park

Blue Mountain Vineyard and CellarsBlue Mountain welcomes you to experience wines using exclusively estate grown grapes from its South Okanagan vineyard, at Seasons in the Park on July 30, from 6::00 – 7:30pm
This tasting coincides with the release of their first two 2012 vintage wines which will be sporting brand new packaging!
Try a range of wines from their iconic flagship sparkling, the Gold Label Brut, the new 2012 Pinot Blanc and 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and finishing up with the delicious 2011 Pinot Noir. You’ll taste the same great quality that they have become know for with a brand new look!  All wines beautifully paired with canapes thoughtfully prepared by Sous Chef Christopher Tse!

Tasting Line Up

  • Gold Label Brut
  • 2012 Pinot Blanc (NEW RELEASE)
  • 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (NEW RELEASE)
  • 2011 Pinot Noir

 Tickets are $30 per person (not including tax & gratuity)

Seasons in the Park
W. 33rd Avenue at Cambie St.
604.874.8008

For more information or to purchase tickets, please feel free to contact us!

 604.874.8008 or seasonsevents@vancouverdine.com 

My Experience with Alta Bistro Concierge Menu $19 for 3 courses

On a recent trip up to Whistler, I stopped at Alta Bistro, at the recommendation of Cassandra Anderton aka @goodlifevancouver. I checked their website and saw that they have a Concierge 3 course menu for $19.  The food overall is very good in my opinion.  The dishes have a French flair to them, but still left me a little hungry at the end of the meal.  My 3 courses were:

  • Oysters of the Day – 3 local oysters, served with verjus granite (+ $2 for this course)
  • Fresh Goats Cheese and Buttermilk Mousse – Squamish honey and toasted nut vinaigrette, house made lavash bread, golden beets
  • Pan Seared Yarrow Meadows Duck Breast – Textures of Heirloom carrots, Meyer lemon vinaigrette & lemon balm

Alta Bistro oysters, goats cheese buttermilk mousse, and Yarrow Meadows Duck breast

I think the oysters that evening were from Stellar Bay.  Maybe someone looking at the picture can tell me for sure which variety of oyster I enjoyed.  The oysters were plump and had a nice sea brine flavour.

My favourite dish, and the most creative was the fresh goats cheese and buttermilk mousse. Lots of flavours and texture.  The mousse had a healthy dose of citrus.

The duck breast was done to perfection.  Nicely pink, but I wish there was more than the 4 small cubes.

My glass of wine that I paired with these 3 courses was the Joie Farm, A Noble Blend 2011, a white wine blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Auxerrios, and Schoenberger. Very aromatic and nice round mouthfeel.  Lychee, flowers, and citrus flavours.  A nice wine, and a nice pairing.

Overall I’d recommend going to Alta Bistro as their food is executed very nicely, but maybe do not go there if you are overly hungry.

A Niche Wine – A Rose from the Okanagan and More

Niche Wine Co Rose 2010

Have you heard of Niche Wine Co?  Me neither, until very recently.  There are many new wineries sprouting up here in British Columbia.  Niche’s Head Office is in Vancouver, and their winery in Kelowna.  James and Joanna Schlosser are the owners. They are farm folk and love to make wine. You can find their winery high on a ridge in West Kelowna.  All the grapes for the wine come from their vineyard, so very much a boutique winery. They currently are producing a rose and a Pinot Blanc.  And I am told a Pinot Noir is on the way.

Today I am trying their Niche Wine Co. Rose 2010. It is a blend of 59% Pinot Noir, 28% Riesling, and 13% Chardonnay. Very pale salmon in colour.  Ripe tropical fruit, strawberries and red cherry aromas. Round, and soft mouth feel.  Medium body with more red cherries and strawberry flavour.  Medium plus acidity makes this a refreshing rose. Medium length with apples on the finish.  I think the Chardonnay and Riesling add a bit of complexity to this rose.  I don’t normally for example, think of tropical fruit when I taste a rose.

A decent first attempt. I am curious to taste their Pinot Noir when it is released.  I am one of the many Pinot lovers here in Vancouver.

James and Joanna also recommend this Citrus Strawberry Salad Recipe to go with their Rose.

Enjoy!

A Pinot Lover’s Dinner with Amity Vineyards

A last minute Tweet to me, asking if I’d like to try some Oregon Pinots, was all I needed to get me to Raincity Grill to try the wines of Amity Vineyards paired with expertly crafted entrees. Our pinot passionate speaker was Myron Redford, President & Senior Winemaker of Amity Vineyards.

Myron Redford of Amity Vineyards

Myron was originally from Seattle and was trained in wine making.  He travelled to Europe and was introduced to Pinot Noir. In 1974 a winery in Oregon was available for sale.  With the help of his mother, $15,000 secured his ownership of what is now Amity Vineyards. The vines were not originally Pinot Noir or Pinot Blanc, but would be over time.  Myron was one of the people on a review board analyzing various clones of Pinot Noir and how they thrived and the type of wines they produced in Oregon. With this knowledge, he selected those clones that would show pinots potential in Oregon, and at his winery.

Our first pairing for the evening was House Cured Wild Sockeye Salmon, barigoule vegetable salad with Amity Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc 2008. The Pinot Blanc was bright in the glass of a medium lemon colour. Red delicious apple with some citrus aromas. Medium body, dry on the palate but with a roundness to it.  More red delicious apple and lemon flavours.   High acidity and a bit of sweet spice.  This was a nice pairing with the lower acidity of the salad being complemented by the higher acidity of the wine.

Amity Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2008 with Thiessen Farms Quail Terrine

The second pairing was Thiessen Farms Quail Terrine (bacon wrapped country-style terrine, house-made brioche and cranberry compote) with Amity Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2008. This pinot was deep ruby in colour.  Nice nose.  Light cherry, raspberry, violets and vanilla aromas. Medium body. Round with spice, cherries, and violets flavours up front and nice acidity, followed by vanilla on the mid-palate. Long length. This is one of Amity’s larger quantities of Pinot Noir, with 4000 cases produced. The grapes come from 7 different vineyards. The grapes are kept separate when picked and are fermented and aged separately.  Finally these separate wines are blended to produce the final wine. The terrine was exquisite with the smokiness of the bacon and the savoriness of the terrine complementing the acidity and violet aromas and flavours of this wine.

Our third pairing was Nicola Valley Bison Flat Iron with plum jus, ‘helmers’ fondant potatoes, hazelnuts, and green beans with Amity Vineyards Winemakers Reserve Pinot Noir 2007. This wine is the top wine from Amity Vineyards.  Barrel selected from the best barrels to drink in the future. This wine is not meant to be consumed yet.  Full enjoyment comes with patience; 10 years if possible. The 2007 vintage has just been released and for the first time has 40% new oak. Past vintages used older, more neutral barrels for aging. This wine truly was a step above of the previous wine.  Deep ruby red in colour.  Violet, vanilla, and raspberries on the nose.  Later on in the glass you picked up some strawberry leaf and smokiness. Lots of vanilla and vanilla up front. Hot and spicy mid-palate.  Dry with tannins and astringency now, which should fade with aging. Medium length.  Round with light body and soft tannins. Protein loves tannins in red wine, and the dark gaminess of the bison paired nicely with this Pinot Noir, making both a bit softer.

Amity Vineyards Pinots and Riesling lineup

Our final pairing was dessert.  Honey roasted apricot tart tatin with thyme ice cream paired with Amity Vineyards Late Harvest Estate Riesling 2007. This wine was made with botrytis affected grapes, which imparts a honey or marmalade flavour to the wine. This wine was light pear coloured.  Petrol, peaches, and honey aromas.  Good acidity on the palate with peaches, honey and petrol flavours.  Medium body with long length.  A tasty wine. The apricots in the tart tatin were very flavourful with the acidity of the late harvest Riesling adding additional lively complexity to this dessert.

You should be able to find the Amity Vineyards wines in the private liquor stores in Vancouver. Enjoy.

What’s New At Hester Creek Estate Winery?

Hester Creek Estate Winery in the South Okanagan has been slowly changing, putting several different pieces together, in the vineyards, the winery and around the winery, to put together a unique experience for their customers.  I enjoyed a few hours with General Manager Mark Sheridan and winemaker Robert Summers talking about the winery and some of their wines.  We met at Central Bistro in the west-end of downtown Vancouver.  Central Bistro is cozy, they source local ingredients as best as they can, and try to showcase BC VQA wines.  Hester Creek’s wines are on their list.

One of the things that you will notice with their wines is the changing of their bottle labels.  The new labels will be officially unveiled during the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fair in April.  The new label still keeps the logo of Hester swimming after a fish in the creek, but it is now smaller, and bringing forward the name of the winery and varietal(s).  It is very classy looking.  Another related labelling item is that their back label will have a ScanLife code which you can scan with your smart phone / iphone and it will provide you with a flavour profile and food pairings.  If you have not heard of a ScanLife code, it is a square shaped grid that can encode a significant amount of information.

What is in the bottle is also very important.  Winemaker Rob Summers described how they have improved their vineyards, installing drip irrigation, and now are using 100% Ganimede fermenters, which pump over the cap with their own CO2 produced during the fermentation process.  These fermenters according to Rob makes brighter fruit flavours and softer tannins.

Speaking about their wines, I was able to try two wines with Rob and Mark. The first wine was their Pinot Blanc 2009 ($15.99).  It had aromas of flowers, peach and melon on the nose for me.  Very vibrant fruit with medium acidity and a bit of roundness on the palate.  A long minerally finish.  I’d enjoy this wine this summer with some shellfish.  The other wine was their Reserve Cabernet Franc 2008 ($25.99).   Cabernet Franc grapes typically have an aroma profile that contains a cedar note.  For some reason the Cabernet Franc grapes do not have this cedar component, and instead have raspberry and strawberry aromas and flavours.  Something unique with their terroir, and that is what is so interesting about wines, and where they are produced. Their Reserve Cabernet Franc had a very fruity nose with raspberry, strawberry and some oak.  Lots of bright raspberry fruit flavour.  Medium acidity with a vanilla undertone and nutmeg spice.  Medium length with a cherry / spice finish.  In both cases, there was bright, vibrant fruit, and that is a character theme they want to have across their wines.

The Next Chapter for Rob Summers is his “The Judge” ultra-premium wine.  With this wine he wants to show that he has something special at Hester Creek, when the weather, terroir, and vineyard practices all mesh together.  This wine is a blend of his best lots in the cellar of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, to produce a wine that will age for several years.  The wine from each grape is matured for up to two years separately, then are blended together and the blend is then further aged.  Only 200 cases of The Judge will be produced.

On top of the wines, there are 6 villas where you can stay, a stylish curved bar, an executive barrel room, a dining room, and a gift shop.  And if you are a foodie, Hester Creek is offering a teaching kitchen that seats up to 14 people.  Past chefs have included Chef Neil Taylor of Vancouver’s Cibo Trattoria, Chef Heinz Schmid of Kaleden’s Catering Done right, and famed restauranteur Umberto Menghi.

That is Part 1 of my article on Hester Creek.  Part 2 will be in summer this year when I visit Hester Creek Winery’s winery.  I am looking forward to it.  Enjoy!

BC Pinot Blanc Summer Sips

Some wine industry experts have said that Pinot Blanc could be the signature grape variety here in British Columbia, and I think particularly in the Okanagan. I have tasted many nice BC Pinot Blanc, but I think we also do very nice Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, and should be in the running for signature grape variety.

This grape variety is known for its apple, melon and almond flavours.  It can produce light to medium bodied wines. Usually low acidity, it can be oak aged for additional complexity. In Alsace it is commonly made into a sparkling wine called Cremant d’Alsace. I personally would like to see a BC winery try to make a Cremant with Pinot Blanc. (I think there may be a winery, but I’m not sure at the time of writing this blog article.)

Checking the www.everythingwine.com website, I identified the following BC Pinot Blanc wines in the $15-$25 range:

Blue Mountain Vineyard Pinot Blanc 750 mL Pinot Blanc $21.99
Hester Creek Late Harvest Pinot Blanc 200 mL Pinot Blanc $15.99
Hester Creek Pinot Blanc 750ml Pinot Blanc $16.99
Lake Breeze Pinot Blanc 750 mL Pinot Blanc $19.99
Monster Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 750 ml Pinot Blanc $21.99
Nk’Mip Cellars Pinot Blanc 750ml Pinot Blanc $16.99
Paradise Ranch Late Harvest Pinot Blanc 375 mL Pinot Blanc $24.99
Red Rooster Pinot Blanc 750 mL Pinot Blanc $16.99
Starling Lane Pinot Blanc 750ml Pinot Blanc $18.99
Van Westen Vivacious Pinot Blanc/Pinot Gris 750 mL Pinot Blanc $23.99

Checking my past tasting notes, I’ve had the opportunity to try the following BC Pinot Blanc:

Van Westen Vineyards Vivacious Pinot Blanc / Pinot Gris, 2007 :   Some sur lie on the nose, along with spice, citrus and apple aromas.  Good acidity, with apple and vanilla flavours. (Try Van Westen’s other wines too.  All are wonderful.)

Sandhill Estate Vineyard Pinot Blanc, 2007: Lemon colour in the glass.  Pineapple, melon, and oak aromas and flavours.  This is a very elegant Pinot Gris and one that I regularly show at private tastings.

Stonehill Estate Winery Pinot Blanc, 2007:  Medium lemon in colour.  Apple and oak nose and flavours.  Good acidity.  Light oak.

Greata Ranch Vineyards Pinot Blanc, 2007: This wine is aged 8 months in oak barrels, 20% are French oak.  Lots of aroma for this wine.  Peaches and pears on the nose.  Nice acidity with a balance of smoothness in the mouth.  Some oak and butterscotch flavours.

Try a bottle of BC Pinot Blanc and see if you think this could be BC’s signature grape variety.  Cheers.

Hester Creek wine tasting

Last evening I was selected with a few other bloggers to sit down with Rob Summers, the wine maker from Hester Creek Estate Winery, in downtown Vancouver. Rob comes originally from the Niagara region in Ontario working for larger wineries, and has moved to the Oliver area in BC in 2006, to work for the boutique winery, Hester Creek. It sounds like he really enjoys all the hands-on work and the wonderfully dry Okanagan climate. Hester Creek is one of the oldest wineries in BC.

Hester Creek Estate winery, besides having 95 acres of vineyards for producing wine, also has 6 villas for visitors. I’d say one of the most famous visitors from last year staying at a villa, is the renowned wine writer, Jancis Robinson. The villas and new winery buildings opened up last year, so if you have seen the winery from August 2009 or older, you haven’t seen their latest and greatest operation.

We went through 3 white and 3 red wines. The first white was the Pinot Blanc 2008. This is Hester Creek’s best selling white, along with their Pinot Gris. The Pinot Blanc was pale lemon colour with a slight green tinge. Light aromas on the nose. Some spice, some apple, some honey. Light in body with a light apple flavour and medium acidity. An easy sipper. The next white was their Semillon Chardonnay 2008. This is a 50/50 blend. This wine had some lemon, some sweetness, some waxiness and greenness on the nose. Medium body with slight roundness in the mouth. Apple and lemon flavours. The final white of the evening was their Trebbiano 2008. Trebbiano is the second most planted grape in the world, and is used in the production of cognac. It is known for it’s high level of acidity. This one had light green apple and floweriness on the nose. Light body, with almond and apple flavours, and good acidity. The acidity made it a nice pairing with some of the hard cheeses they had for us to nibble with the wines.

On the red side, we tried their Merlot 2008, Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot 2008, and the Reserve Cabernet Franc 2006. The first two wines were not overly extracted in colour, giving them lightness in body. The Merlot 2008 had a very wild nose, with sausage, smoke, plum and cherries. I quite enjoyed nosing this wine. On the palate it had medium tannins, with plum and cherry flavours and a slightly oaky finish. The Cabernet / Merlot 2008 is their best selling red. This wine is light garnet in colour, not an overpowering nose. Red fruits with a bit of sausage aromas. On the palate there were cherry flavours with light tannins. The final red wine of the night, and my favourite, was the Reserve Cabernet Franc 2006. Cabernet Franc doesn’t get the limelight that Cabernet Sauvignon gets, but if it is made well, is an exceptionally nice wine to drink. This wine being reserve level was deeper garnet in colour. Vanilla and cedar on the nose. Firm tannins, with a round mouthfeel. Red cherry flavours, with medium length and cherry finish.

Again, thanks to Rob Summers for leading us through this tasting. If you are out in the Okanagan, drive down to the “Golden Mile” in Oliver and visit the Hester Creek winery. I did record the tasting, and will be posting it on www.MyWinePal.com hopefully soon. Enjoy!

Blue Mountain Winery at Salt Tasting Room

On Monday evening I had the good fortune of being invited to a Blue Mountain Winery tasting at one of Vancouver’s hottest restaurants, Salt Tasting Room, in Gastown. Blue Mountain winery is located in Okanagan Falls and was established in 1991. It’s a family run business and it shows with the care they show with their wines. They are an Estate Winery which means all the grapes they use for their wines come from their vineyard (which they have 80 acres under vines, but only 60 acres producing grapes at the moment).

For those of you who have not been to Salt Tasting Room, they offer a range of cheeses and charcuterie and condiments to their guests. They have a wide range of wines to pair with these food, along with some beers.

This evening we were treated to three white and three red wines, paired with cheeses and charcuterie. The three white wines were the:
– Blue Mountain Brut (a sparkling wine made in the traditional champenoise style)
– Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc 2008
– Blue Mountain Pinot Gris 2007

The Brut is a blend of 47% Pinot Noir, 47% Chardonnay, and 6% Pinot Gris. Pale yellow in colour with a slight bubble around the edge of the glass. Light citrus, slightly sweet and a bit of lees on the nose. The bubble was quite fine, and had lemony, lees, and almond flavour. Quite nice. To this I enjoyed the Schinkenspeck sausage slices from Oyama the Savoury Moon cheese from BC and the Isle of Mull Cheddar from the UK.

The Pinot Blanc is whole cluster pressed and fermented in barrel (47%) and the remainder in tank. This wine had peach and lemon aroma (i was expecting apple, but i love suprises). There was a slight bit of effervesence, lemon and mineral flavours. Another enjoyable wine.

The final white, the Pinot Gris, is similarly fermented as the Pinot Blanc. The result is a wine with light aromas of stone fruit. A round mouthfeel with cherry and stone fruit flavours. Again something I was not expecting was the cherry flavour. Interesting.

For the red wines we were treated to the:
– Blue Mountain Gamay Noir 2008
– Blue Mountain Reserve Pinot Noir 2006

– Blue Mountain Reserve Pinot Noir 1997

The Gamay Noir was deep violet/purple in the glass. Very aromatic with dark cherry and cassis? aromas. On the palate it was peppery, black cherry and licorice with low tannins. It was nice with the Mike Vitow’s Corned Beef.

The Reserve Pinot Noir 2006, is a soft pinot noir. Light cherry and violet aromas and flavours. A bit astringent. It went nicely with the Avonlea Cheddar from PEI and the Piccantino and the Lamb Salamis from Oyama.

Our last wine of the night (and my favourite) was the Reserve Pinot Noir 1997. This wine had depth of character and was very defined in it’s flavours, like a laser beam. Deep red colour in the glass. A very interesting nose with cherries and mint. On the palate there was dark cherry, some spice and medium tannins. Long length. Excellent! I quite enjoyed this wine with the Saint Agur blue cheese from France. This is a creamy blue cheese, half way between a Stilton and a Cambazola.

If you have not been to Salt Tasting Room, it is located at 45 Blood Alley in Gastown. Enjoy.