Bottles & Bangers Wine Tasting – Get Your Tickets

Liberty Bottles and Bangers wine tasting

I recently received an email from Liberty Wine Merchants about their upcoming Bottles and Bangers Southern Hemisphere wine tasting. You may not know, but I was the president, then co-chair, and the cellar master for the South World Wine Society here in Vancouver for many years.  I’ve turned over the reigns to other exec members, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for southern hemisphere wines. South Africa, the Old World of New World wines, has many food friendly wines.  Try a Syrah or Chenin Blanc.  For Chile, maybe try their signature red grape, Carmenere.  Argentina has Malbec, which has been very hot in BC for a while. New Zealand Pinot Noirs or Sauvignon Blanc wines are well-known around the world.  Central Otago in the South Island in particular has very interesting Pinot Noir. And don’t forget Australia.  The Coonawarra, Margaret River, Eden Valley, and the Barossa Valley, to name a few vineyard regions, produce exceptional wines. Jacob’s Creek, Yalumba, Penfolds, and Henschke are just a few names that you may recognize.  Australian shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, riesling and many more wonderful wines.  With that, check out the details for Bottles & Bangers, and buy your tickets before they sell out.

Bottles and Bangers Event Details

Thursday, August 18 | 7:30 – 9:30pm
Vancouver Rowing Club, 450 Stanley Park Drive, Vancouver

Taste the sensational wines of the Southern Hemisphere accompanied by an artisanal sausage. All proceeds to benefit amateur sports.

Tickets $29.99 Available at all Liberty Wine Merchants stores.

South World Wine Society’s Big and Bold Red Tasting

Last night we were treated to big red wines from the Southern Hemisphere. In particular, 2 wines from each of Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and Australia. These are all premium wines in the $30-$40 range per bottle. Our speaker for the evening was Mr. Lance Berelowitz, one of the South World Wine Society‘s co-founders, past President and past Cellar Master. Lance is originally from South Africa, but has travelled extensively and has visited Australia, Chile, and Argentina, and provided to us in depth descriptions about each of these wines and regions.

Our wines for this evening:

  • Alta Cima Premium Reserve 2002, Lontue Valley, Chile
  • Miguel Torres Cordillera 2001, Central Valley, Chile
  • De Toren Diversity 2003, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa
  • Norton Malbec Reserva 2005, Mendoza, Argentina
  • Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina
  • Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia
  • Peter Lehmann Mudflat Ebenezer Shiraz 2004, Barossa Valley, Australia

To these wines we had 3 appetizers:

  • Poplar Grove Tiger Blue Cheese Buff with stone fruit compote
  • Smoked Peace Country Lamb Shoulder Arrancinni with tomato ragout
  • Braised Shortrib Cannelonni with carmelized onion jus

The Alta Cima Premium Reserve 2002, Lontue Valley, Chile is a Bordeaux blend with 85% being from Cabernet Sauvignon, and the remainder coming from Merlot, Syrah (not Bordeaux), and Petit Verdot.  Alta Cima is a family run winery in Chile in the Lontue Valley which is part of the Curico Valley. This wine was deep garnet from the core to the rim, not showing it’s 9 year of aging yet. Vanilla, oak, dark cherry sweet spice, meaty and pencil lead aromas filled the glass.  Quite complex.  Medium body on the palate, with cherries and blueberry flavours.  Medium acidity and tannins.  Round in the mouth but not quite full bodied.  A nice balanced wine.

Next was the Miguel Torres Cordillera 2001, Central Valley, Chile. Miguel Torres, originally from Spain, has a great reputation around the world for their wines, and for opening wineries in other parts of the world.  The Cordillera is a blend primarily with Carignan and lesser amounts of Merlot and Syrah. Deep garnet in colour. A light nose with whiffs of oak, black olives, and dark cherries. Medium body with dark sweet fruit, and some tar and pepperiness.  Quite soft and round in the mouth, with a puckering finish.

The De Toren Diversity 2003, Stellenbosch, South Africa followed.  This is another family run winery.  Their Fusion V is a cult wine amongst wine enthusiasts. This wine is a blend of 5 Bordeaux varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Medium garnet with slight bricking on the rim of the wine, indicating it’s age. Meaty, pencil leads, earthy and red fruits on the nose. Medium body with dried red and black fruits, low acidity and tannins.  We all agreed that this wine is past it’s prime and we were sampling it on it’s way down.

My favourite wine of the evening was the Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa. Paarl is more inland than Stellenbosch, affording a warmer climate, which the Syrah grape loves. Deep garnet to the rim in the glass. Smoky, raspberries and oak on the nose. On the palate an array of flavours including smokiness, chocolate, coffee, dark fruit and spice.  Medium plus body with medium acid to keep the flavours bright. Long length. An excellent wine.

The first wine from Argentina was the Norton Malbec Reserva 2005. This is from the famous Mendoza region of Argentina, which is well-known for Malbec.  It is a high altitude desert that is fed with the precious water from the Andes Mountains. This wine had a light nose with some mint and plum. Medium body with dark fruit and oak. Soft tannins.  The group tasting the wine today also agreed that this wine was just OK.  Not very complex.

On the other hand the Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina was quite complex and interesting.  The San Juan region is to the north of Mendoza.  Not as well known, but produces very nice wine, if this wine is any indication of quality. Deep ruby in colour.  Light nose with oak, dark fruit, plum, coffee and a bit of eucalyptus aromas. Full body with firm tannins.  Dark fruit flavours with medium acidity and a dry finish. This wine paired nicely with the Poplar Grove Tiger Blue Cheese Puff with stone fruit compote.

On to Australia. Our first wine was the Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia. The two owners of Two Hands are similar to négociants from Burgundy.  They do not own vineyards, but work with vineyards to produce wines to their particular standards. This wine had some sediment in the glass, which we thought could be tartrate crystals. These crystals can form when the wine gets too cold.  It is a natural process, and should not be considered a fault in a wine. The wine was deep purple in the glass but was cloudy and not clear.  I am not sure if this wine was filtered, but if unfiltered, you could get this cloudiness. Nice nose with eucalyptus, vanilla, ripe dark fruit and chocolate. Medium plus body with soft, round mouthfeel.  Ripe cherries, chocolate and spiciness on the palate. This wine was the favorite of the room this evening.

The last wine was the Peter Lehmann Mudflat Ebenezer Shiraz 2004, Barossa Valley, Australia. This is an interesting wine as the shiraz is blended with a few percent of the white muscadelle grape to add in some aromatics.  Medium garnet in colour.  Light nose of vanilla and dark fruit.  Round with soft tannins.  Blueberries, vanilla, cloves and some salty minerality on the palate.  A good balance of oak, fruit and acidity.

MyWinePal Wine Picks:

  1. Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa
  2. Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina

The Favorites from the Room:

  1. Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia
  2. Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa

My Favorites From the South World Wine Society’s Five Nations Cup 2011

Wednesday, Jan 19 was the South World Wine Society’s 6th Annual Five Nations Cup.  This is a blind wine tasting and humbles everyone in attendance. Five white wines and five red wines were presented to us.

We first went through the white wines, and were told that there were a Chenin Blanc, a Pinot Gris, a Chardonnay, and 2 Sauvignon Blanc.  One of the sauvignon blanc would be young (a recent vintage), while the other sauvignon blanc would be aged (2003 in this case).  The wines would be from Australia, Chile, New Zealand, or South Africa.  We were missing a white wine from Argentina for this half of the tasting.  Our host for the evening, Mr. Paul Watkin, is past SWWS cellar master and is a manager at Icon Fine Wine and Spirits in Vancouver.   Paul let us all know some of the characteristic aromas and flavours of each of these white grapes, as well as some hints as to style of white wines produced by each of these countries.  After sipping and debating each other at our table, we all stood up and slowly each started to sit down as each wine was revealed but did not match our guess.

The first wine was the Mount Riley Pinot Gris (2008 I think) from New Zealand.  I marked this wine as pale lemon colour. Herbal, lemon a bit of lime and some lychee on the nose.  Medium body, medium acidity, grapefruit and spice flavours with a long finish.  I guessed correctly.

The second wine was the Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc (2008) from Chile. Pale but bright lemon colour in the glass. Vanilla, waxy, lemon, grassy, and gooseberry aromas. Medium body.  Citrus, slightly vegetal and slightly spicy with medium acidity.  Another correct guess!

The third wine was the Montes Alpha Chardonnay (2006) from Chile.  This one was the easiest to guess.  The fullest body, most deep lemony coloured, lots of vanilla and apple aromas and flavours.  Nice spice too.  It went really well with a smoked scalloped that was served with the wines.  3 for 3 so far.

The fourth wine was the Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc (2003) from Australia. The aged sauvignon blanc!  This wine was medium minus golden colour. Big legs on the sides of the glass.  Honeysuckle, honey, and apricot aromas. Medium minus body, smooth, lower in acidity with a dry finish.  I guessed this one was the Chenin Blanc.

The last white wine was the Graham Beck Gameskeeper Reserve Chenin Blanc (2008) from South Africa . Light lemon colour.  Smokey, apple, spice, oak, vanilla, and some earthiness on the nose. Bright fruit flavours, but also some smokiness, apple and oak.  Medium length. I originally thought this one could be the aged sauvignon blanc with some oak aging (e.g. a Fume Blanc).

So from the white wine review, I ended up in 2nd place.  Not bad considering how difficult the whites were to identify.  Hopefully the red wines would be easier.

No such luck.  Paul was going to give us 5 different Bordeaux blends.  That is much more difficult than trying to guess if a wine is a Malbec or a Merlot.  The first red was the Man O’ War Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec blend (2008) from New Zealand. I had marked it as medium red with a purple tint (from the Malbec). Cassis, red cherry, leather, mint and tomato aromas. Juicy red fruit flavour, with vanilla, spice, high acidity and medium tannins.  I guessed correctly.  I thought the high acidity would be from a cooler climate, and New Zealand would be the coolest of the 5 countries.

The second red was the Miguel Torres Cordillera (2001) from Chile. A deep core of garnet in the glass.  Some capsicum aroma, along with vanilla, dark plum and milk chocolate.  On the palate it was full bodied.  Vanilla, purple fruit and savory flavours. Medium acidity and tannins. Another correct guess.  The capsicum was my hint that it was Chilean.

The third red was the Glen Carlou Grand Classique (2005) from South Africa.  Deep garnet in colour.  Iodine and earthy aromas. Mineral, leather and firm tannins.  Quite different from all the other reds.  I guessed that one correctly too.

The fourth red wine was the Luigi Bosca Gala 2 (2005) from Argentina.  I had guessed New Zealand, then changed my mind to Australia, but in the end I found out it was Argentina.  Really hard to guess the origin of this wine.  It was medium garnet coloured.  Sweet vanilla, chocolate and dark fruit aromas.  Not overly aromatic. Medium body and medium tannins with grippy black fruit flavour.

The fifth red wine was the d’Arenberg Galvo Garage (2005) from Australia. Very dark garnet in colour.  Some capsicum, dry not overly fruity nose with some earthiness.  Vanilla, capsicum and very fruity flavours.  Firm tannins.  I guessed this one was the wine from Argentina.

I ended up in 2nd place for the red wines.  I don’t feel too bad getting 2nd place for both the red and white wines.

How did I rate these wines?

White wines in my rank of preference:

  1. Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc (2003) Australia
  2. Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc (2008) Chile
  3. Mt. Riley Pinot Gris (2008) New Zealand
  4. Montes Alpha Chardonnay (2006) Chile
  5. Graham Beck Gameskeeper Reserve Chenin Blanc (2008) South Africa

Red wines in my rank of preference:

  1. Miguel Torres Cordillera (2001) Chile
  2. Man O’ War Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec blend (2008) New Zealand
  3. Luigi Bosca Gala 2 (2005) Argentina
  4. d’Arenberg Galvo Garage (2005) Australia
  5. Glen Carlou Grand Classique (2005) South Africa

One thing that you may notice is that my first choice in both the red and white wines were the OLDEST wines.  Don’t think that you have to drink a wine as soon as you buy it.  Especially true for red wines, and some white wines.  Many of these wines will be available only in private wine shops.  Hope you can get a chance to try some of them. Enjoy!

ALERT: South World Wine Society’s Five Nations Cup!

Being the past president / co-chair / cellarmaster of the South World Wine Society (SWWS), I really like to introduce people to the wines of the Southern Hemisphere.  On January 19, 2011 will be their yearly 5 Nations Cup.

What is the SWWS 5 Nations Cup?  It is a blind wine tasting, where a red and a white wine from each of the 5 southern hemisphere wine producing countries are tasted (Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand), and you try to figure out which wines are from which countries.  It is quite fun.  Sitting at a table with 4 other people; you are each tasting the same wines, and talking, and maybe convincing each other, which one is the Merlot and that it comes from Chile, for example.  There will also be appetizers to pair with the wines.

I’ll be there.  I hope you will be too.  Here is the announcement from the South World Wine Society.


The Sixth Annual Five Nations Cup
January 19, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 7-9 p.m.

The Listel Hotel
1300 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC, V6E 1C5
Tel 604 684.8461

$44.00 per member
$55.00 per non-member
(Event includes wines and appetizers)
Book by January 15 to avoid disappointment.


Our Guest Speaker:

Paul Watkin
Past SWWS Cellarmaster and wine educator

In South America, countries vie for the Copa Sudamericana trophy. With Australian Rules Football you have the Premiership Cup. South Africa participates in the Standard Bank Cup for cricket. New Zealand has the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy for cricket. In keeping with this competitive vein, we will have the South World Wine Society’s SIXTH Annual Five Nations Cup.

This blind tasting consist of a red and a white flight of wine. Each flight will include a one red varietal and one red varietal from each of the 5 southern hemisphere nations. It will be a hotly contested battle with your votes determining the winner.

There are sure to be some surprises. So come out and kick off 2011 by tasting some great wines from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Chile and Argentina.

As this is a BLIND wine tasting, the wines will be revealed AFTER we vote for our favorites, so you will not see the wine list in our announcement. As usual, along with these wines we will be providing a great selection of appetizers.

To REGISTER for our TASTING EVENT via CREDIT CARD click here: “Five Nations Cups”.  (Click here for Mail-in Registration.)

South World Wine Society’s Season Kickoff Tasting Notes

Yesterday was the season kickoff for the South World Wine Society here in Vancouver, BC. It was held in conjunction with the new Legacy Liquor Store located at 1633 Manitoba Street. Wines from Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa were being poured. It was a walk-about event and had appetizers to nibble along with your southern hemisphere sips.

There were some interesting wines this evening.  I had not heard of the Juno wines before from South Africa.  South African wines tend to be a bit of Old and New World wine styles mixed together, and to go well with food, at least in my past experience.  The Juno Sauvignon Blanc 2009 was medium lemon in colour.  It had very distinctive aromas of asparagus and green peas.  On the palate it had high acidity with asparagus flavour and also some wet slate (or dustiness as another person I spoke to described it).  The Juno Shiraz 2009 was deep garnet in colour.  Vanilla and plum on the nose.  Medium plus in body with vanilla and plum flavours.  Firm dry tannic finish with the flavour of pencil leads lingering on your tongue.

New Zealand also consistently puts out a flavourful Sauvignon Blanc. For this evening it was the Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2009 from the Marlborough region.  This wine was medium lemon in colour with a green tinge. Lots of gooseberry aroma on the nose.  High acid on the palate but a bit of roundness so it wasn’t harsh.  Gooseberry flavour with a hint of cinnamon. Herbal finish with a medium length.  Maybe enjoy with some fresh oysters.

My favourite wine of the night was Vina Maipo Syrah from Chile.  It is 85% Syrah with 15% Carmenere.  Deep purple in colour.  An interesting nose with vanilla, rubber and purple fruit.  Dry tannins.  Blueberries show up mid-palate, and cherries on the finish.  A bit of pepper and vanilla.  It has good tannic structure for the fruit to hang.  I don’t have the price, but I believe it is < $20.

The other red I enjoyed was the Vina Maipo Carmenere. This is 90% Carmenere and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Also a deep purple colour in the glass.  Vanilla, dark ripe plums and chocolate on the nose.  Full body with ripe black fruit, vanilla and peppery flavours.  Round mouth feel with medium length.  I preferred the Syrah over the Carmenere as it had a bit more structure to the wine.  The Carmenere is a softer wine, but also quite nice.

All these wines are available from the Legacy Liquor Store, which opens on Nov 24, 2010.  Please drop by to visit the store, and also as important, please come out to the South World Wine Society’s next event, which is their 5 Nations Cup, a blind wine tasting, to be held in January 2011. Enjoy!

Sydney International Wine Competition 2010

I have been following this wine competition for a few years now. I like the Sydney International Wine Competition for 2 reasons.

1) It shows many wines from the southern hemisphere (along with wines from around the world), and since i’ve been the president / chair of Vancouver’s South World Wine Society for many years, I like to see which wines are rating highly so that I can buy some for our Society here to try.

2) They taste the wine with food. Most people enjoy wine and food together, so why not judge them together?

Here are some winners from the 2010 competition:

“Best Aromatic Wine of Competition”
DELATITE RIESLING 2008 (Australia)
BLUE-GOLD AWARD
TOP 1OO WINE AWARD
JOHN RYAN MEMORIAL PERPETUAL TROPHY

“Best Sauvignon Blanc Wine of Competition”
VAVASOUR AWATERE VALLEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009 (New Zealand)
BLUE-GOLD AWARD
TOP 1OO WINE AWARD
SIWC PERPETUAL TROPHY

“Best Fuller Bodied Dry White Table Wine of Competition”
SACRED HILL RIFLEMAN’S CHARDONNAY 2007 (New Zealand)
BLUE-GOLD AWARD
TOP 1OO WINE AWARD
SIWC PERPETUAL TROPHY

“Best Pinot Noir Wine of Competition”
GIBBSTON VALLEY RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2008 (New Zealand)
BLUE-GOLD AWARD
TOP 1OO WINE AWARD
J F HILLEBRAND/AIR SEA GLOBAL PERPETUAL TROPHY

“Best Fuller Bodied Dry Red Table Wine of Competition”
STICKS NO 29 SHIRAZ 2008 (Australia)
BLUE-GOLD AWARD
TOP 1OO WINE AWARD
KEMENYS PERPETUAL TROPHY

“Best Dessert Wine of Competition”
KONRAD “SIGRUN” NOBLE TWO RIESLING 2007 (New Zealand)
BLUE-GOLD AWARD
TOP 1OO WINE AWARD
MYRA LEHMANN PERPETUAL TROPHY

You can read more about all the winning wines on their website: Sydney International Wine Competition website. Enjoy!

Put a cork in it

Hopefully you never have a wine bottle go bad due to cork taint. For the casual drinker, you may not hit a tainted bottle for a long stretch, but it does occur at a rate of about 5%. Through the tastings that I hold with the South World Wine Society, it is not out of the ordinary to have 1 or 2 bottles corked. The SWWS usually opens 27 bottles of wine during one tasting. 5% * 27 bottles = 1.35 potentially corked bottles. So we are holding to the cork taint average.

How can you tell that a bottle has cork taint? Unless you know what the wine should taste like ahead of time (e.g. it’s your favorite wine and you know how it should taste), or you recognize the smell of cork taint, you may think that the bottle was just not very tasty, or the wine critic that praised that wine doesn’t know what they are talking about. The problem with cork taint, is that there are different levels of taint. A very slight taint is the hardest to detect and usually just is represented by a flatness in the fruit flavour and aroma. With more cork taint, along with the reduced fruit flavour and aroma, you may smell wet cardboard or freshly dug potatoes.

Cork manufacturers have been trying to produce better cork with fewer defects, but there are still rivals to traditional corks, being synthetic (plastic) corks and the stelvin closure. In a previous blog post I talked about an alternative to cork, which is the stelvin closure. You may want to check it out.

But many people love the romance that goes along with opening a bottle that has a natural cork in it. Not all of these corks are created equal. In the photo in my blog, there are 4 examples of cork. From left to right, you have a high quality single piece natural cork, next a lesser quality single piece natural cork, next an agglomerated cork sandwiched between two pieces of natural cork, and the last is an agglomerated cork.

You will also notice difference in length. Longer tends to be better for corks, as there is more separation between the wine and the air outside of the bottle. The agglomerated corks are basically bits of cork that fall off or break off in the cork making process. These bits of cork are broken down into pieces of about the same size then glued together. These corks do not look very nice, but get the job done. Some winemakers go for the agglomerated cork sandwiched with slices of real cork. The Mission Hill cork in the photo has a real slice of cork about half way through the M in Mission and then at the last L in Hill. Some people prefer this cork over the simple agglomerated cork, as there is a real piece of cork in contact with their wine as it ages as opposed to wine + glue. Finally you have the single piece of cork. This is the ultimate goal for many winemakers. The better cork would have the least amount of holes/pits visible in the cork. The Pisano cork has more holes/pits visible on the cork, which could be housing cork taint, or could let too much air interact with the wine, making it age quickly. The longer Montes Purple Angel cork (leftmost cork) is an example of a high quality single piece cork. You do not see lots of small holes along the sides of the cork.

Well now you know a bit more about cork and about cork taint. The next time you open a bottle of your favorite wine, check out what type of cork they are using. If you wine smells off, as described above, and you are in a restaurant, please don’t hesitate to talk to your server and ask for them to confirm with you that the wine is corked. If it is, they should give you a replacement bottle at no additional charge. It’s your money and enjoyment. Cheers!

South World Wine Society’s 5th Annual 5 Nations Cup

One of my favorite wine events is coming up on January 14, 2010. It is the South World Wine Society’s “5 Nations Cup“. It is a blind wine tasting. We select a red and a white wine from each of the 5 southern hemisphere countries: Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa. In the previous years, Australia and Chile have split the glamour of winning the 5 Nations Cup.

This year we are having a signature red and white varietal from each country. It is fun to see if people can, for example, blindly tell the difference between a Malbec and a Shiraz, or between a Chenin Blanc and a Chardonnay. There are usually lots of theories amongst the tasters as to which glass has which wine in it. I’m disqualified from guessing as I help to select the wine, but it is still educational for me to taste the wines and make my own notes.

If you are in the Vancouver area, i’d like to suggest for u to sign up to this tasting. It is really fun. It is also an idea for a Christmas gift if you have a friend or family member that likes wine. There will also be appetizers so that you can enjoy the wine with food too. Sometimes you will find that you like a certain wine more with food.

I hope to see you there. You can register online at http://www.southworldwine.com

Chile Day 6 – Errazuriz

Chile Day 6. Today I visited one of the largest wineries in Chile, Errazuriz. Errazuriz is located in the Aconcagua Valley, north of Santiago. I was first met by Mr. Pedro Olivia Farias in Public Relations who showed me part of the vineyard, plus their winery processing facilities. It was very informative. Pedro showed me the upgrades that Errazuriz has done to the winery, and changes upcoming to make it more sustainable. Gravity fed, using thermal heating from the ground, natural lighting and more. He also provided me a brief history of the Errazuriz winery, which started in the late 1880’s up to today. Today the winery is completely owned by 4 family members. He also described to me the different wineries owned by Errazuriz, which include Arboleda, Sena, and Caliterra, and the different emphasis of each winery. I found out that Canada is the 2nd largest market to Errazuriz, behind the UK. That was quite amazing.

After the tour by Pedro, I was handed over to winemaker, Mr. Rodrigo Zamorano. Rodrigo spent a lot of time with me and went into much depth about the Aconcagua Valley and each of the 9 different wines we sampled together. Errazuriz is the largest winery in the Aconcagua Valley and is the only valley to have a continuous valley up to the Andes. This allows the coastal fogs to reach far in land moderating the temperatures in the Aconcagua Valley. He also mentioned that they started a new vineyard area called Manzanar near the coast in the Aconcagua Valley where they are trying white varietals plus pinot noir. They are just starting to produce wines from this area so time will tell which varietals produce the wines up to their standards.

As i mentioned, I tried 8 different wines, from the Estate Level, Reserve Level, and their top level wine, Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve. To keep this blog brief, I will tell you about one white and one red I enjoyed, and then provide the full tastings notes when i am back in Canada. For the white wine, I enjoyed their 2007 Wild Ferment Chardonnay from the Casablanca Valley. This is a 100% barrel fermented wine, using all French oak. One third of the wine went through malolactic fermentation to provide a more round mouthfeel and butteriness. I’ve tried this wine in the past in Vancouver, and enjoyed it this time with the wine maker Rodrigo. The wine had lots of vanilla, caramel and tropical fruit on the nose. Very aromatic. Full bodied, with tropical fruit and vanilla flavours. Very smooth, but still had some acid to balance it. It had a long length with a spicy finish. Rodrigo suggested aging it for a year to integrate more in the bottle, but I thought it was fine already.

For the red wine, I enjoyed the 2007 Max Reserva Carmenere from the Aconcagua Valley. This wine spent 12 months oak aging. 2007 is the first vintage for the vines selected for this wine. It had a deep purple color in the glass. Cassis, smoke, black cherry, and oak on the nose. Black cherries, vanilla and cassis flavours. Smooth tannins. It had a long length, with a spice and red cherry finish. Highly recommended.

That is all for now. Tomorrow is visiting the Maipo Valley. Three wineries in one day. Should be a big day. Saludos!

Santa Rita Winery event at Boneta

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} catch(err) {}Last night was a lot of fun. I was invited to meet a new winemaker from Vina Santa Rita winery, Mr. Carlos Gatica Llop, retry their range of wines, and enjoy some food from Boneta Restaurant. Carlos is a very friendly guy, who has worked in France and Spain, before working for Santa Rita in Chile. He has his feet in both the Old and New Worlds.

For those that are not familar with Vina Santa Rita, it was founded in 1880 by Domingo Fernandez Concha. The winery currently owns vineyards in the Maipo, Casablanca, Rapel, Leyda, Lontue and Limari valleys. They own the 2nd largest vineyard area in Chile.

I was fortunate enough many years ago to meet Santa Rita’s senior wine maker, Mr. Andres Ilabaca, during a South World Wine Society wine maker dinner at the Seasons in the Park Restaurant in Queen Elizabeth Park. Now I have met Mr. Carlos Gatica Llop, their newest wine maker. I couldn’t get Carlos to pick a favourite wine from Santa Rita. To him it is like choosing your favorite child. All your children are your favorite. But I can pick a few of my favorites!

The Medalla Real Single Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 ($20.99) was wonderful. Opaque purple in the glass. Capscium and black fruit on the nose. Black fruit, licorice, and a bit of spice flavour. Smooth.

The Floresta Apalta Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 ($55.99) was also an excellent wine. It is from 100 year old vines. Earthy, rich nose. Black fruit and black cherry flavours. Medium/fine tannins.

Other wines that are worth a buy are:
Pehuen 2005 ($55.99) a premium wine made with 85% carmenere and 15% cabernet sauvignon.
Floresta Petite Sirah / Sirah 2003 and 2005 vintages are around in BC ($32.49). Lots of black fruit and licorice.
120 Sauvignon Blanc ($11.99) A really inexpensive sauvignon blanc with LOTS of flavour.

Boneta served a variety of salads, gnocci, sausages with chicken and white beans. All were delicious and paired nicely with the wines I tried. For more info about Boneta click here.