California Wines

Having Fun California Cruisin’ at Vancouver International Wine Festival

When you hear the term “California Cruisin” what do you think?  If you are me, it would be the beach, surf boards, the Beach Boys, and in general having fun.  Having fun is what we did have at the California Cruisin’ event for the Vancouver International Wine Festival last night at Brix Restaurant & Bar in Yaletown.  This was a walk-about event, with wines being poured from at least 12 different California producers (mainly from Sonoma and Napa Valleys), and various nibbles being passed around, made by Brix.

On the white wine side, all were Chardonnay.  But don’t think big, fat, oaky Chardonnay.  These were all leaner, had a stone / tropical fruit, green pea flavour/aroma component, and a light touch of oak, if it was oaked.  Very refreshing.

The red wine side was a bit more varied with Cabernet Sauvignon, of course, but there were a few Pinot Noirs, and some Petite Sirah blends.  I’ve noticed in the past 2 years that more California Petite Sirah is being available here in BC.   If you haven’t tried Petite Sirah before you should give it a try.  It can be hard and tannic, needing aging, but the ones I tried last night were very inviting.  The grape can have flavours of black pepper, blackberries, blueberries, spice and licorice.  Two that I had at this event were the Michael David Winery Petite Petit, 2011, and the Concannon Vineyard Conservancy Crimson & Clover 2010.  They will likely be available for tasting at the Festival tasting room starting this Thursday evening.  Also a shout out to the “big” California winery, Robert Mondavi.  They were pouring a really nice Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2011, and a Napa Valley Pinot Noir, 2012.  And if you want a more serious red wine with some tannic structure try the Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon 2011.

Enjoy the food and wine pictures that I took during the event, and check out my twitter feed @mywinepal to watch my VINE video!

Liberty School Central Coast Chardonnay 2011

Liberty School Central Coast Chardonnay 2011

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2012

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2012

LA Style Korean BBQ Beef Tacos

LA Style Korean BBQ Beef Tacos

Michael David Petite Petit 2011

Michael David Petite Petit 2011

Concannon Conservancy Crimson and Clover 2010

Concannon Conservancy Crimson and Clover 2010

Nine North Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Nine North Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Foodiepages.ca Launches a Monthly Wine Subscription

foodiepages logo

With the FreeMyGrapes movement pushing for opening up the flow of wine across provincial borders, Toronto-based FoodiePages.ca has joined forces with several boutique Canadian wineries to offer this new monthly wine subscription. Each month, Canadians can  experience some of Canada’s best small lot wines, shipped direct from the winery to their home or office.   Here is their press release.  Maybe a good Christmas present to your spouse or significant 0ther (and to you).

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fall wine cellar collage

Canadian Fall wine cellar collage

TORONTO (Dec. 9, 2013) – FoodiePages.ca, the new online marketplace where you can buy directly from Canada’s best small batch food and wine makers, announced today the launch of the Hidden Gems Wine Subscription, a convenient way to access hard-to-find small lot Canadian wines.

“The Hidden Gems Wine Subscription is a way to connect Canadians with amazing Canadian vintners, providing customers with the best small lot selections from British Columbia and Ontario,” says FoodiePages.ca CEO Erin Maynes.

Wine enthusiasts* can expect a monthly shipment delivered to their doorstep. Each Hidden Gems Wine Subscription shipment contains 3 bottles, handpicked by Canada’s top small lot winemakers. A British Columbia winery is featured one month, and an Ontario winery the next. Each wine is paired with a recipe crafted by a top Canadian chef, allowing members to create delicious food and wine pairing experiences at home.

Convenience: 2-3 bottles shipped direct from a top Canadian winery to your door, every month.
Variety: We’ll alternate a BC winery one month, and an Ontario winery the next.
Impeccable sourcing: Crafted by Canada’s best small lot winemakers
Food pairings: Customized recipes for each wine from Canada’s top chefs
Great value: You’ll pay $75/month, including shipping and taxes

December Featured Winery is Award-Winning Meyer Family Vineyards

Jak Meyer and Janice Stevens purchase a small 1.62 hectare vineyard on the Naramata bench in 2006, and 3.9 hectares in Okanagan Falls two years later.  They hired the best winemaker and viticulturists and focused on small lot single vineyard wines made in the traditional of Burgundy style.  Today Meyer Family Vineyards produces less than 3000 cases from mature 14 year old vines, making some of the finest wines in the Okanagan (MFV was one of the top 10 vineyards in Canada at the 2013 National Wine Awards).

Wines Included in December Shipment:

The three wines include in the December shipment are a fantastic representation of Okanagan Valley wines at great prices:

2012 Okanagan Valley Chardonnay – Only 555 cases are produced, a blend from two family-owned vineyards, McLean Creek Road in Okanagan Falls and Old Main Rd in Naramata. Anthony Gismondi recently gave it 89 points and described this as a “lively, fresh, green apple, citrus, skinny chardonnay whose strength is nuance and simplicity.”

2011 Okanagan Valley Pinot Noir – A bronze award at the National Wine Awards of Canada; 89 points from Anthony Grimondi; and 88 points from Beppi Crosariol, who described this wine as “medium-bodied, tight and chewy, with soft raspberry fruit, zippy spice and a whisper of beetroot.  It is a great choice for grilled salmon or poultry.”

2012 Gewürztraminer – Made in the traditional Alsatian style to enjoy as an aperitif or to accompany a wide range of cuisine, especially Thai, Mexican and spicy dishes.  Aromas of Lychee or Turkish Delight, citrus and spice.

Let’s celebrate Canadian winemakers – subscribe to the Hidden Gems Wine Subscription here.

For more information, contact:

Erin Maynes
Founder
FoodiePages.ca
647.403.6075

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* Only available to customers with shipping addresses in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.  Customer must be over 19 years of age, and someone over 19 must receive the shipment.

new zealand wine logo

New Zealand Wines Winners in Recent Canadian Wine Awards

2013 WORLD WINE AWARDS OF CANADA

WineAlign’s 2013 World Wine Awards of Canada is a brand new competition yet the judging team are seasoned top wine writers and sommeliers who spent five days blind tasting 1,000 wines!  New Zealand was there to participate, and have some winning wines to share with you. Yes Sauvignon Blanc is in the list, but there are other varietal wines for you to consider, such as Pinot Grigio.

Best of Country

  • Whitehaven Pinot Noir 2011  ( A top quality winery that I never hestitate to recommend.)

Best of variety under $15

  • Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2012

Judges’ Choice

  • Giesen  Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Judges’ Choice by Varietal 
Sauvignon Blanc  

  • Giesen Sauvignon Blanc 2012
  • Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013
  • Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2012
  • The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Pinot Gris/Grigio

  • Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2012

Pinot Noir  

  • Stoneleigh Pinot Noir 2012

Best of BC Wine Tastings At BC Liquor Stores in October!

BC flag

BC flag

This announcement just came out and there are some exciting, quality BC VQA wines being poured at BC Liquor stores in the Vancouver Lower Mainland and Victoria.  Here is the announcement and some of their wines.  Enjoy!

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With the fall harvest in full swing and Thanksgiving just around the corner, October is the perfect month to explore BC VQA wines. British Columbians are celebrating our local bounty and, what better way to honour our crops, than with the annual BC Liquor Stores ‘Best of BC’ release?

Every year, BC Liquor Stores carefully selects a small collection of BC wines which are in limited supply and high demand. In the interest of fairness to all of their customers, the whole selection is released at once, and this year’s release takes place on Saturday, October 12, 2013 in Signature BC Liquor Stores across BC. It’s ‘first-come, first served’, so BC wine fans are encouraged to hurry down and snap up the very best that our province has to offer.

In support of this annual release, the British Columbia Wine Institute has organized an extensive series of in-store wine tastings which will feature a variety of VQA wines from BC. From Vancouver’s West End to West Vancouver, from Victoria to Whistler, 12 different liquor stores will be home to sommelier-led wine tastings where customers can belly-up to the bar while doing their shopping, taste an assortment of BC VQA wines, and learn all about the vinicultural bounty that exists right here in our own backyard.

October brings out the best wines our province has to offer with the ‘Best of BC’ release and province-wide BC VQA in-store wine tastings. Enjoy a glass of your backyard bounty this month!

Dates of In-Store Tastings with Locations and Times:

Thursday, October 3                      

Whistler Marketplace – 101 – 4360 Lorimer Rd, Whistler

3 to 7 PM

Saturday, October 5                       

Dunbar- 3453 Dunbar St, Vancouver

10 AM to 2 PM

Sunday, October 6                          

Highgate – 235 – 7155 Kingsway, Burnaby

1 to 5 PM

Friday, October 11                          

Northgate – 103 – 3433 North Rd, Burnaby

3 to 7 PM

Richmond Brighouse – 100- 8100 Ackroyd Rd, Richmond

3 to 7 PM

Alberni & Bute – 768 Bute Street, Vancouver

3 to 7 PM

Langley – 6435 – 201 Street, Langley

3 to 7 PM

39th & Cambie – 5555 Cambie St, Vancouver

3 to 7 PM

Westwood – 100 – 2748 Lougheed Hwy, Port Coquitlam

3 to 7 PM

Fort Street – 1960 Foul Bay Rd, Victoria

3 to 7 PM

Park Royal – 570 Park Royal North, West Vancouver

3 to 7 PM

Saturday, October 12                    

Northgate – 103 – 3433 North Rd, Burnaby

3 to 7 PM

Richmond Brighouse – 100- 8100 Ackroyd Rd, Richmond

3 to 7 PM

Dunbar – 3453 Dunbar St, Vancouver

10 AM to 2 PM

Alberni & Bute – 768 Bute Street, Vancouver

3 to 7 PM

Langley – 6435 – 201 Street, Langley

3 to 7 PM

39th & Cambie – 5555 Cambie St, Vancouver

3 to 7 PM

Westwood – 100 – 2748 Lougheed Hwy, Port Coquitlam

3 to 7 PM

Fort Street – 1960 Foul Bay Rd, Victoria

3 to 7 PM

Park Royal – 570 Park Royal North, West Vancouver

3 to 7 PM

Thursday, October 17                    

8th & Cambie – 2395 Cambie St, Vancouver

3 to 7 PM

Whistler Marketplace – 101 – 4360 Lorimer Rd, Whistler

3 to 7 PM

Highgate – 235 – 7155 Kingsway, Burnaby    –

3 to 7 PM

Featured Wines in the’Best of BC’ Release:  

Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc 2010 $32.89 Product # 178756
Painted Rock Syrah 2010 $39.94 Product # 130989
Le Vieux Pin Syrah 2010 $44.88 Product # 875831
Laughing Stock Blind Trust Red 2011 $30.00 Product # 492421

Nk’Mip QwAM QmWT Syrah 2009

$34.99 Product # 561415
CedarCreek Platinum “Block 4” Pinot Noir 2011 $39.95 Product # 464628
Poplar Grove Cabernet Franc 2010 $34.90 Product # 894410
Jackson-Triggs SunRock Shiraz 2010 $34.99 Product # 365635
Stoneboat Pinot Noir 2011 $24.89 Product # 498170
LaStella Fortissimo Selezione Di Famiglia 2010 $34.88

Product # 840504

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 

Pinot Noir at Seasons in the Park – Coming Up

Pinot Noirs from the Okanagan Valley

Where the grapes are grown, the soil they’re grown in, the weather, the air, the sun and the growing techniques all affect the characteristics and quality of the wine. The great wines of the world are the result of skilled grape-growers and winemakers working together to bring out the unique qualities of the grapes that nature provides. The Pinot Noirs of BC are among these great wines. Presenting a line-up of 4 fantastic Okanagan Pinots is Bill Sanford of Appellation Wine Marketing. 

 The Pinot Noir Line Up

  • Quails Gate Pinot Noir 2007Road 13 Pinot Noir 2010
  • Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir 2010
  • Quails Gate Pinot Noir 2011
  • Stoneboat Pinot Noir 2010

When and How Much are Tickets?

The event is on April 23, 2013.

Tickets are $25 per person (not including tax & gratuity)

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

604.874.8008 or seasonsevents@vancouverdine.com 

Rodney Strong Wines Featured at Hy’s Winemakers Dinner to Benefit the BCHF

Rodney Strong VineyardsCalifornia’s Rodney Strong Vineyards wines always impress me.  I don’t think I’ve had a bottle of Rodney Strong wine that I did not like.  Their other winery, “Davis Bynum“,  I have also been tasting recently, and these wines are also getting posted by me as one of the favourites of  various wine tastings. I recently read that this year marks the 40th anniversary of Davis Bynum making Russian River Valley‘s first single vineyard Pinot Noir.  I would not want to miss tasting these wines, and to enjoy them with top quality steaks, this winemaker’s dinner should sell out fast, so get your tickets now.  Press release below.

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Hys Steak Cocktail BarWines from Rodney Strong Vineyards turned heads at the recent Vancouver International Wine Festival.  Now Vancouverites have a chance to get better acquainted with the California winery and its premium wines at a sumptuous dinner will take place Thursday, April 11 2013 at Hy’s Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar.

Rodney Strong has attracted attention for its top-quality wines, but the family-owned winery is also renowned for its commitment to sustainable environmental practices.  Winemaker Rick Sayre will be on hand at the dinners to introduce the wines and to talk about the principles and practices that set Rodney Strong apart from other wineries.  Guests will enjoy a selection of premium wines paired with four courses.  The dinner will also benefit the BC Hospitality Foundation.

  • Rodney Strong Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – not yet rated
  • Davis Bynum Jane’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011- 90 points Wine Enthusiast
  • Rodney Strong Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 – 92 Points Wine Spectator                                      
  • Rodney Strong Brothers Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 – 93 Points Wine Enthusiast
  • Rodney Strong Alexander’s Crown Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – 92+ Points Wine Advocate
  • Rodney Strong Symmetry 2010 – not yet rated

Where, When, How Much?

  • Thursday, April 11 2013
  • 6:00 pm – Reception – 6:30 pm Dinner
  • Hy’s Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar, 637 Hornby Street, Vancouver
  • Tickets $135 Inclusive of Taxes and Gratuity excluding ticket service charge

Tickets available here

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About Rodney Strong Vineyards

With vineyards located in California’s legendary Sonoma County, Rodney Strong Vineyards has won praise from wine lovers and environmentalists alike.  The Klein family, which owns Rodney Strong, has a passion for sustainable farming practices, solar power and other green business practices.  As a result, Rodney Strong has become Sonoma County’s first carbon-neutral winery.

 About Hy’s Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar

One only needs to enter the cozy establishment to realize the extent to which Hy’s adheres to tradition. The polished mahogany walls, ornate bar, solid furnishings, and art have been lovingly maintained since they were first installed in 1962. And, with minor exceptions, the menu remains unchanged,… featuring the finest Canadian Prime beef and seafood, not to mention Hy’s sublime cheese toast.

About the BCHF

BC Hospitality FoundationFormed in 2006, the British Columbia Hospitality Foundation (BCHF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing financial support to individuals within the hospitality community who are coping with extraordinary costs arising from a serious health crisis.  Since its inception, the Foundation has expanded to also award scholarships and bursaries to students enrolled in hospitality programmes.

Sen Bistro – A New Restaurant Opening For Chef Zhang

Upscale interior at Sen Bistro

Upscale interior at Sen Bistro

Sen Bistro on Broadway @ Burrard (1788 W. Broadway), has had a soft opening, but last week, they had their official opening with a Media Dinner kickoff.  I was fortunate to be invited to attend.  Sen Bistro is the sister restaurant to Chef Zhang‘s nearby Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House.  Both feature Northern Chinese cuisine, which is different from the Southern Chinese restaurants that populate the Lower Mainland. I find that the Northern cuisine has more beef and lamb for example, as well as other spices like cumin being used.  Chef Zhang opened Sen Bistro so that he could experiment with the Northern Chinese dishes; fusing food or spices from other parts of the world.  I think all chefs like to experiment and grow.

This evening we also had wine pairings to go with the specific dishes served to us.  Another nod to fusion; east meets west.  In the reception, I enjoyed the cumin spiced lamb cubes.  At first I saw large numbers of dried red chilies and thought that this might be a very spicy dish, but I was quite surprised that it was fairly mild.  Also served was a beef curry spring roll. Our wine pairing was a St. Hubertus Rose from the Okanagan.  Made from Gamay fruit, this rose burst with red fruit and red cherries.  Off dry, it tasted a bit like candy. An OK wine, but may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Salad Trio

Salad trio

Salad trio

There was a Salad Trio, was really nice, with contrasts in flavors and textures.  The celery & dried scallop and the lotus root dishes were tied for my favourite of the three dishes.  The celery was crunchy and I enjoyed the sesame oil taste.  The lotus root dish was very different. Thin slices of lotus root, marinated in a Chinese red vinegar, along with some sweet component.  So you get crunchy, sweet and sour in each bite. Nice. The pairing for this was a Cono Sur Viognier 2011 (Chile).  Cono Sur has been producing some good quality wines for many years.  This Viognier was full bodied, nice and round mouthfeel, with lots of tropical and stone fruit.  Along with the Salad Trio, we were served a Broad Bean & Sherchai Mash.  It looked very similar to guacamole, but different flavour profile. The texture was similar to guacamole, but it was dried, and had a salty and spinach flavour to it.  I had never heard of Sherchai, and was told it was similar to spinach.  I did a quick search on Google but did not see it; perhaps I should head out to Chinatown to investigate!

Broad bean and sherchai mash

Broad bean and sherchai mash

Hot Appetizers

For hot appetizers we samples a Chicken, enoki & shitake mushroom soup, Lormi Xiaomai, and salt & pepper crunchy tofu.  The tofu was fabulous.  If you like dry ribs and beer, the salt & pepper crunchy tofu would be a great replacement.  Nice crunchy outside, spicy from crushed chili pepper, but not too much; just right.  If you have gone for dim sum, you probably have had xiaomai (mixed ground pork and shrimp in a flour wrapper).  The Lormi Xiaomai was stuffed instead with sticky rice. I do like sticky rice in lotus leaf.  This is a bite size version, sans lotus leaf flavour component. The Chicken with enoki & shitake mushroom soup, was calming. The mushrooms added an earthy component to the soup. There were small chopped green vegetables, still with a bit of crunch to them.

Salt and pepper crunchy tofu

Salt and pepper crunchy tofu

Lormi xiaomai

Lormi xiaomai

Chicken with enoki and shitake mushroom soup

Chicken with enoki and shitake mushroom soup

Entree

I think the entrees showed most of the fusion component of the evening.  The dishes were:

  • Flambe salmon
  • Braised pork with pumpkin in soybean paste
  • Double prawns delight
  • Wok-fried vegetables
  • Steamed crepes & buns

Salmon, the patron fish of BC, was served on a hot plate, then flambeed at our table.  The salmon was cooked perfectly, nicely soft in the centre.  I really enjoyed the braised pork with pumpkin.  The pork belly had nice layering of fat and meat and too that the soybean paste had 5 Spice powder seasoning.  The pumpkin slice that accompanied too went well.  Nice and soft, and of course matching with the 5 Spice powder (which has cinnamon and cloves). We paired the entrees with a Lucky Star Pinot Noir 2011 (California).  The acidity in the Pinot Noir cut through the fattiness of the pork belly.  Our table really liked this Pinot Noir.  It had flavours of sour red cherries and a hint of violets.  Light body, dry with low tannins.  The steamed crepes & buns were good to sop up the soybean paste sauce from this dish.

Flambe salmon

Flambe salmon

Braised pork with pumpkin in soybean paste

Braised pork with pumpkin in soybean paste

The double prawns delight featured prawns cooked two ways; one deep fried and coated with a honey mustard sauce, and the other wok fried with a smokey / sweet / chili sauce.  I preferred the latter, but several people at my table also liked the honey mustard version.

Double prawns delight

Double prawns delight

The last dish was the wok-fried vegetables, mainly consisting of thin slices of eggplant, mushrooms, and scallions. It was spiced with ginger and sauteed. Quite tasty.

Wok fried vegetables

Wok fried vegetables

Dessert Duo

There were two desserts.  The first was “pumpkin sticks“, but it was more than just a “poki” style stick that you see at T&T.  To this there was a yellow yam? pudding topped by a purple yam ball coated with dried coconut.  The purple yam ball was a hit. The pudding was also good, not too sweet, but may be bland to some people not familiar with Asian style desserts. The other dish was the blackbean paste Lormi-zhi.  We were presented with what appeared like Japanese mochi balls, that were each in a different colour.  Each one had a different filling.  One was the traditional blackbean paste, while another that I tried had 3 types of chopped nuts (peanut, cashew and almond I think).

Pumpkin sticks dessert

Pumpkin sticks dessert

Blackbean paste Lormi-zhi

Blackbean paste Lormi-zhi

I wish Chef Zhang best of luck in his new endeavor at Sen Bistro.

Passionate Pairings During Vancouver International Wine Festival

New Zealand flag

New Zealand flag

Kia Ora!  Do you love Pinot Noirs and bracing Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand?  Thinking of buying some event tickets for the Vancouver International Wine Festival at the end of Feb/ start of March?  Think about the Passionate Pairings at the Boathouse in Kitsilano.  I’ve attended the last two years.  Great seafood, paired with great New Zealand wine.  Here is some details from the Boathouse.  Enjoy!

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mud house sauvignon blanc and pinot noir

mud house sauvignon blanc and pinot noir

PASSIONATE PAIRINGS – Vancouver International Wine Festival Eventback by popular demand – Saturday, March 2nd

It’s the ultimate wine and food experience! NZ Wine Growers challenged seven passionate Boathouse chefs to prepare seven inspired dishes to pair with sensational wines from seven New Zealand wineries. Take in the spectacular views of English Bay at The Boathouse at Kits Beach and meet one-on-one with New Zealand winery principals and Boathouse chefs at this popular culinary grazing event. Your challenge is to choose your own favourite Passionate Pairing!
Ticket limit is 8.  $69 per person

BUY TICKETS – MORE INFO

A Few Value Wine Finds at New Westminster Liquor Store

I had a chance to drop by the New Westminster BCLDB Liquor store at the bottom of Royal Ave yesterday and saw a few wines on sale and other interesting wines. Here are a few quick snapshots from my camera on the wines. I think you should be able to pick them up at the same price at other BCLDB stores. Enjoy!

Viu Manent Malbec 2011

Viu Manent Malbec 2011 – An outrageously cheap price.

Oyster Bay Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Oyster Bay Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Always good quality from New Zealand.

Picpoul de pinet

Picpoul de pinet – an interesting white grape from France. Exceptional price.

Alive Red and White

Alive Red and White. Two quality organic wines from Summerhill Winery.