Highlights from the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fest – Day 2

The second day from the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is now finished.  A lot of wine again today to taste.  But still probably more than half the wines haven’t yet been tasted.  I did visit many nice wineries and tasted some interesting wines from around the world today.  As I had mentioned in my previous blog article, today I would taste wines from the rest of the world, and then at the end try some Spanish wines I had missed.

Again to keep things brief, here is my 2nd list of recommended wines to try at the #VPIWF.  After the festival is over, I’ll post full tasting notes for these wines and others that I have tried on www.MyWinePal.com. The wines below range from white, red, sparkling, and fortified.

Recommended wines:

  • Babich East Coast Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand)
  • Vina Cobos Bramare Malbec 2008 (Argentina)
  • Decero Malbec, Remolinos Vineyard 2009 (Argentina)
  • Decero Cabernet Sauvignon, Remolinos Vineyard 2008 (Argentina)
  • Graffigna Grand Reserve Torrontes 2010 (Argentina)
  • Graffigna Centenario Reserve Malbec 2009 (Argentina)
  • Vina Santa Rita Medalla Real Pinot Noir 2008 (Chile)
  • Vina Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005 (Chile)
  • Cave de Tain Crozes Hermitage Red Les Hauts du Fief 2007 (France)
  • Cave de Tain Saint Joseph Red Esprit de Granit 2007 (France)
  • Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Gewurztraminer 2007 (France)
  • Pierre Sparr Mambourg Pinot Gris 2008 (France)
  • Schloss Reinhartshausen Prinz VVN Preussen Rielsing Off-Dry 2009 (Germany)
  • Ca’ Del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvee Prestige (Italy)
  • Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand)
  • Man O’War Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (New Zealand)
  • Fonseca Guimaraens 10 Year Tawny Port (Portugal)
  • Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Vanzeller 10-Year-Old Tawny Port (Portugal)
  • Sogrape Vinhos Callabriga Dao Reserva 2005 (Portugal)
  • Sogrape Vinhos Ferreira 20-Year-Old Duque de Braganca (Portugal)
  • Champagne Lallier Rose (France)
  • Joseph Drouhin Chablis Premier Cru 2009 (France)
  • Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2008 (Canada)
  • Juan Gil Monastrell 2010 (Spain)
  • Bodegas Abanico Mencia 2007 (Spain)
  • Bodgeas Abanico Tinta de Toro Eternum Viti 2008 (Spain)
  • Bodegas Abanico Tinta de Toro Los Colmillos 2008 (Spain)
  • Gonzalez Byass Croft, Pale Cream Sherry (Spain)
  • Zuccardi Series A Torrontes 2010 (Argentina)
  • Bodegas San Valero Monte Ducay Cava Brut (Spain)

That is a lot of recommendations, and a lot of wines to try in one day.  There were many more that are also good, but did not make the list.  I wish I had another day or two so that I could try the rest of the wines from the Festival.

Today’s agenda for me is New Zealand Perfect Parings, Good Gracious Grenache seminar, and Cinq a Sept French wines.  Check back tomorrow for a short article on these.  Enjoy the remainder of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, and remember to check out the Vancouver Playhouse and what they have to offer!  Support the arts.

Aphrodisiacs and Wine for Valentines

With Valentine’s Day coming up in February, I thought I’d get a head start on this blog about Aphrodisiacs and Wine to help you decide your Valentine’s meal.  There are many different foods that have been touted to have some aphrodisiac component to them.  A few foods:

  • cheese (In European culture, cheese is said by some to resemble the scent of a woman.)
  • arugula (Is also known as “rocket seed”, with mustard warming a person, making better blood flow.)
  • truffles (It is said that sows instinctively seek out truffles, it’s because they give off scents identical to certain substances found in the male boars sexual organs – namely a pheromone “androstenol” with a strong musky smell. Androstenol is also secreted by men’s armpit glands.)
  • chocolate (Chocolate contains both a sedative, which relaxes and lowers inhibitions, and a stimulant to increase activity and the desire for physical contact.)
  • oysters (Oysters being the aphrodisiac, due to their shape similar to a woman’s genitals, but also as they contain zinc which which promotes well being.)
  • asparagus (The asparagus of course visually is a phallic symbol. also because according to traditional Indian medicine, it increases circulation in the genito-urinary system. Chinese traditionalists believe the roots increase compassion and love, so they save the best ones for their friends and family.)
  • chilies (Chilies get a person’s blood rushing, heart pumping, face flushing and pores sweating, providing great physical stimulation.)
  • strawberries (Strawberries gained their reputation as an aphrodisiac due to their large number of tiny seeds symbolizing fertility. In art and literature, the strawberry was usually portrayed as a symbol of sensuality and earthly desire and has been described as fruit nipples.)

Is wine an aphrodisiac?

Of course. Wine relaxes people’s thoughts. A moderate quantity of wine reduces a person’s anxiety and releases their inhibitions. In studies published from the 1994 British scientific journal, Nature, claimed that the intake of alcohol can increase the levels of libido in women. According to this research, alcohol raises the testosterone level of women, which can entice those who lack sexual interest and desire. Port wine is said to be one of the most aphrodisiac alcoholic beverages around. This drink, which originated in Portugal, is said to promote lovemaking especially when served with strawberries (from http://nepspeed82.blogspot.com/2007/05/wine-as-aphrodisiac.html).

Some suggested wine and aphrodisiac food pairings:

  • Wild Mushroom and Truffle Risotto paired with a Viognier or a New Zealand Pinot Noir.
  • Fresh Oysters with Red Wine Shallot Mignonette paired with a California or Chilean sparkling wine.
  • Arugula, Pine Nut & Chevre Pizza matched with a BC, New Zealand or Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Asparagus wrapped with smoked salmon & fresh basil paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon based Rose or a Pinot Noir.

Here are some specific wines that you may want to find either in a government liquor store or a private wine shop:

  • Stags Hollow Viognier, BC, 2010. This Viognier was pale in colour with some sweetness, orange, and flower aromas. Very pretty. Tropical fruit and cinnamon flavours.  Medium body.
  • Perrier Jouet Grand Brut N/V Champagne, France. This is 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 sparkling wine with melon and lychee aromas. Off dry, light body, with cinnamon, citrus and peach flavours.  Small bubble.  This is such a fun wine.
  • Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010, New Zealand.  Pale lemon in the glass.  Lots of gooseberry on the nose with some herbal on the nose that continued to the palate.  Medium plus acidity with long length.  Really nice flavour.
  • Vina Santa Rita Medalla Real Pinot Noir 2008, Chile. Santa Rita is a premium producer from Chile.  I really enjoy their wines, and spent time visiting them in Chile. Their Medalla Real Pinot Noir is coloured light purple in the glass.  Ripe cassis aromas. Round mouth feel, light boded with an abundance of cassis flavour.  Low tannins.
  • Bartier – Scholefield Rose, BC ($20) is 100% Gamay Noir from the Wise Brothers’ vineyard in Oliver. This wine was medium salmon colour in the glass.  Light, youthful aromas of strawberries, red cherries and other red fruits.  It is dry on the palate with medium plus acidity.  Medium body.  I get fresh summer fruits like raspberries, red currants, strawberries and red cherries, and a lingering watering mouthfeel on the finish.

If you want an extensive list of aphrodisiac foods, I’d suggest following the “Life of Reiley“.  Enjoy the pairings and I hope they bring great enjoyment for you and your significant other!

Wine for Easter

Spring flowers for EasterEaster is a big holiday for many of us, where we get together with family and enjoy a big Easter dinner. Easter is also leading us into spring. Flowers are already blooming here in Vancouver, and I’m sure it will come soon in the rest of Canada.

Ham, roast chicken or turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and vegetables are traditional dishes for many people’s Easter dinner. But maybe you are wondering what wine(s) to serve? Before starting dinner you may want to consider something sparkling? An easy to sip wine would be an Italian prosecco or a Moscato. These wines tend to be quite reasonably priced. Mionetto Prosecco FrizzanteEmotivo Prosecco, or Batasiolo Moscato D’Asti are three Italian wines you may want to consider.

For the main course, a roasted ham, if you are a red wine person, you could try a Pinot Noir or a Gamay (the most famous being Beaujolais). Serve slightly chilled. Here in North America, you could go with a Pinot Noir from British Columbia, such as the Quails Gate Okanagan Valley Pinot Noir. A Gamay such as Georges Duboeuf Brouilly, France would also be nice. The Gamay would also work with turkey.

Spierhead Chardonnay

What if you prefer white wine? Then I would suggest a riesling. The Kettle Valley Winery Riesling 2008 (BC) has a bit of residual sugar with some apple, flower and citrus aromas, and apple with a bit of petrol flavours, or on the organic side, Kalala Organic Estate Winery Riesling 2008 also from BC. If you prefer a drier riesling, how about the Plantagenet Great Southern Riesling 2008 from Australia? Quite minerally. Light green and petrol aromas. Apple and citrus flavours.

For roast chicken or turkey, there is Pinot Noir, as mentioned earlier. A lightly oaked Chardonnay would also work well. The oakiness and butteriness from some secondary malolactic ferementation would make the Chardonnay nice and round in your mouth to complement the richness of your roast chicken or turkey. If you would like to support Chilean wineries, after the earthquake, you may want to try the Carmen Nativa Vineyards Chardonnay (organic) or the Vina Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay from Chile. The Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay is always a winner for me. From my last tasting notes, I noted 100% barrel fermented in French oak for 9-10 months. 1/3 of wine goes through malolactic fermentation to add some extra body and butteriness. Full lemony colour. Lots of vanilla, caramel and tropical fruit on the nose. Very aromatic. Medium-full body, with tropical fruit and vanilla flavour. Has some acidity and slight spiciness to balance the creaminess. An excellent wine.  A BC selection would be Spierhead Winery Chardonnay 2010. Their chardonnay is creamy with lots of vanilla and tropical fruit aromas and flavours.  Enjoy juicy fruit flavours in your mouth with medium acidity to keep it refreshing.

I hope some of these wines give you ideas for what to serve with your Easter family meal. Enjoy!

Bubbles for New Years eve 2010

We are on the precipice between the 2000’s and the 2010’s New Years. Shouldn’t we be celebrating the end of the first 10 years of 2000 with some Champagne or other sparkling wine? What fun things could you try? How about buying a vintage champagne, or other sparkling wine from the year 2000. It might be difficult and cost a bit more money but it would be memorable.

If you don’t have the time or money to hunt down one of the 2000 vintage bubbles, I have a few suggestions. The wines I list below, I’ve tasted and have tasting notes on http://www.MyWinePal.com under the Wine Reviews tab. The reviews are stored in a spreadsheet format which you can freely download and use to help you select bubbles and other wines. Please download and make use of my notes.

Some sparkling wines I enjoyed:

New Zealand Lindauer Brut Sparkling NV Biscuity and citrus aroma and flavours. The bubble was small and elegant.
Australia Banrock Station Sparkling Chardonnay NV Pale straw colour. It has pleasant acidity. There are flavours of peach, lime and melon.
Australia Skillogalee Sparkling Riesling NV Petrol and citrus nose. Good acidity, bright citrus flavour with lingering petrol. Medium length.
South Africa Graham Beck Sparkling -Brut Pinot Noir /
Chardonnay
NV Brillant golden colour and had honey, apple, biscuity aromas and flavours.
Italy Cantina Breganze Prosecco Extra Dry Prosecco NV Pale lemon in colour with a
tinge of green. Lemon and juicy orchard fruit on the nose. Orange, lemon, and rose petal flavours.
Italy Cantina Breganze Blanquette de Limoux
Demi-Sec
NV This is a semi-sweet, organic
sparkling wine. This one has a nice white flower nose. Bright lemony colour. Flowery, light spice, and orangy flavours. Nice.
Spain Codorniu Sparkling Brut Pinot Noir NV Light orangy pink in colour.
Light strawberry aroma. Very bracing in your mouth, with strawberry and raspberry flavours.
Hungary Hungaria Grand Cuvee NV Quite a deal for this sparkler.
Light lemon in colour, with lemon/lime aromas. Light bubble with lemon flavour.
France Cuillier Pere et Fils Brut Selection Pinot Noir / Chardonnay NV Fine bubble with green apple
and pear aromas. Fine bubble with lemon and pear flavour. This wine was like enjoying a fresh pear. Very tasty!
South Africa Moreson Blanc de Blancs Brut Method
Cap Classic
Chardonnay NV It had a very fine bubble. Red
apple, citrus, light spice and bready flavour. It had a long finish. Nice.

If you are in the Vancouver, BC area, you should be able to get these wines (but not necessarily some of the exact vintages) at a BC Specialty liquor store, or some private wine stores like Everything Wine.

You may also want to celebrate the coming of 2010 with a BC sparkling wine. Here is a list of some sparkling BC wines from Everything Wine (you may be able to get these at BC liquor stores too):

Blue Mountain Gold Label Sparkling 750 mL Sparkling $29.99
Charles Meunier Sparkling 750ml Sparkling $13.99
Gray Monk Odyssey Brut Sparkling 750 mL Sparkling $26.99
Starling Lane ‘Celebration’ Brut 750 ml Sparkling $30.99

I hope I’ve given you a few ideas for a sparkling wine for New Year’s Eve. FYI, I’ll probably be enjoying a bottle of Summerhill Cipes Brut N/V from the Okanagan. Cheers!

A Sparkling Wine Tasting!

Today was a special Trade tasting day for me. This is typically the Trade tasting where the sparkling wines are brought out by agents in preparation for wine buyers, to pick up these sparkling wines for their hotel, restaurant, etc and offer them over the Christmas and New Year season. So i’d like to share some of these sparkling wines with you. One of the nice things I saw this year is more rose coloured sparkling wines. Very festive!

Some terms you may see in a liquor store for sparkling wine are: Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Frizzante, Cap Classique, and of course Sparkling. There are other terms, but these are a few common ones. Champagne is from the Champagne region of France, Cava is from Spain, Prosecco from Italy, Frizzante from Italy, Cap Classique from South Africa, and Sparkling, which can be from anywhere.

I think my overall favourite sparkling wine today was the Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut ($107.99). Pale salmon in colour. Oak and black currants on the nose. Light bubble with raspberries and currant flavours.

If you can’t afford a case of Laurent-Pierrier, I have a few less expensive choices for you:
Cantina Breganze Prosecco Extra Dry ($21.99) (Italy). Pale lemon in colour with a tinge of green. Lemon and juicy orchard fruit on the nose. Orange, lemon, and rose petal flavours. Recommended.
Cantina Breganze Blanquette de Limoux Demi-Sec ($26.99) (Italy). This is a semi-sweet, organic sparkling wine. This one has a nice white flower nose. Bright lemony colour. Flowery, light spice, and orangy flavours. Nice.
Codorniu Pinot Noir Sparkling Brut ($19.99) (Spain). Light orangy pink in colour. Light strawberry aroma. Very bracing in your mouth, with strawberry and raspberry flavours.
Hungaria Grand Cuvee ($13.90) (Hungary). Quite a deal for this sparkler. Light lemon in colour, with lemon/lime aromas. Light bubble with lemon flavour.
Cuillier Pere et Fils, Brut Selection ($58) (France). Fine bubble with green apple and pear aromas. Fine bubble with lemon and pear flavour. This wine was like enjoying a fresh pear. Very tasty!

Also at this Trade tasting, was red and white still wines. A few I liked:
Pampas del Sur Reserve Malbec 2007 (#13.98) (Argentina). Deep purple colour. Very aromatic. Black currant and cherry flavours. Medium body and very smooth.
Eikendal Stellenbosch Classique Reserve ($35.99) (South Africa). This is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Medium garnet in colour. Oak, tobacco, mint and cherry aromas. Chocolate, tobacco and cherry flavours. Smooth with a long length.

Enjoy some bubbles for the upcoming holiday season. And if you are interested in some nice Chilean wine, please check out my website, www.MyWinePal.com.

An abbreviated list of wines for the holidays

Isn’t technology lovely? Sometimes you spend a long time writing a long blog about wines for the holidays and it doesn’t get saved! Well that just happened to me, so please enjoy this very short version of my wine recommendations.

Wines to take to a host/hostess. Try a wine they would not normally buy but would enjoy. Try a champagne (from France. Try Bollinger, Lanson, Krug, or Taittinger), or a sparkling wine (e.g. a cremant from France, a prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, or a New World sparkling, such as Gloria Ferrer from Napa Valley, or Lindauer from New Zealand).

An ice wine could also be a nice gift. Riesling ice wines are the best in my opinion as the high acidity of this grape complements the sweetness from the grape. Mission Hill and Quails Gate in the BC Okanagan have nice ice wines.

With dinner, assuming you have a turkey feast, try a lightly oaked chardonnay, or a lighter bodied pinot noir. On the chardonnay side try a wine from Deloach in California, Mission Hill Reserve from the Okanagan, or Evans and Tate from Australia. For a pinot noir, try Quails Gate or Mission Hill from the Okanagan, or Villa Maria or Kim Crawford from New Zealand.

People also like fortified / dessert wines. Buller makes a nice Muscat (Australia). You may try a port from Portugal, such as from Quinta do Portal. A full bodied Oloroso Sherry from Spain from Gonzalez Byass.

Enjoy the wines and enjoy the holidays!