New Zealand Wine x2
April 29, 2009 09:44:57

There are two New Zealand wine events coming up in May in Vancouver that I thought you might be interested in attending. The first is with the South World Wine Society, titled “Planning a New Zealand Vacation“. This event is on May 21. It combines tasting a range of red and white wines from across New Zealand along with getting travel tips from a travel agent that has travelled extensively in New Zealand. It should be a lot of fun, plus the travel agent is offering discount coupons on travel to New Zealand. Go to to sign up. $44 for members and $55 for non-members. Comes with food too. And I am the speaker for the wines at this event.

The other event is the New Zealand Wine Fair on May 28 at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre. This is a yearly event and is a walk-about, with agents and/or winemakers at tables pouring their prized New Zealand wines. There are many tables where you try wines that have never been in Canada before, so be the first to try something new! Besides their trade mark Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, there are also lots of other varietals to try, like riesling, merlot, and pinot grigio. To sign up for this event go to

SWWS Big Reds tasting – Signup asap

April 12, 2009 07:41:43
Posted By Wine With Karl

For those of you who haven’t been to a wine tasting before, or had much exposure to southern hemisphere red wine, the upcoming “Cellar Select Premium Reds” tasting by the South World Wine Society is going to be a blockbuster. Monday, Noon, April 13 is the deadline to sign up.

Many of these are iconic red wines in the southern hemisphere. Some are from vintages no longer available, so if you want to try them, this may be the only place you can try them. Here are the wines:

1. Pisano Uruguay Coastal Region 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon RPF
2. Saxenburg South Africa Stellenbosch 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Private Collection
3. Glen Carlou South Africa Paarl 2003 Syrah
4. Peter Lehmann Australia Barossa 2004 Shiraz The Futures
5. Tikal Argentina Mendoza 2006 Malbec Amorio
6. Benmarco Argentina Mendoza 2006 Red Blend Expresivo
7. Valdivieso Chile Central Valley Red Blend Caballo Loco No 7

From the website:

The Glen Carlou Syrah has won the John Platter Wine of the Year in South Africa. The Caballo Loco No 7 from Chile is blended and aged by the Solera method used for Spanish sherry, combining fractions of wine from Caballo Loco No 1 – 6 with 7. The Peter Lehmann Futures Shiraz 2004 is not only a benchmark Australian red, but comes from an outstanding Barossa Valley vintage. The Tikal Malbec was rated 91 points by Wine Spectator. The Benmarco Argentina Mendoza 2006 Expresivo is a beguiling blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Tannat, and is one of Argentina’s top new wines. The Saxenberg Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the Cape’s most elegant and highly regarded examples of this varietal.

You have till noon on Monday, April 13 to sign up. It’s a great deal for these premium wines, plus check out the appetizers:

Plate 1
Stilton cheese with toasted walnut and dried apricot
A Van Lawn beef slider
Seared diver scallop, red wine butter sauce
Reddened salmon, red wine butter sauce

Plate 2
Grilled lamb chop with olive crust, natural pan jus
Sautéed chicken liver “Diablo”
Prime rib “melt”
Torpedo Prawn with sweet chili sauce

5 Nations Cup Results

A little over 2 weeks ago the South World Wine Society had their annual 5 Nations Cup. This is a blind tasting, where a white and red wine is tasted from each of Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa. The members and guests of the event rate the wines without knowing which country each wine is from.

Everyone loves Australian wines. They have been #2 in sales after BC VQA wine lately, but they were #1 in BC for quite a while before that. People on the other hand have viewed Chilean and Argentinean wines as being somehow cheap and cheerful wines. This tasting proved to people the exact opposite. The favourite WHITE and RED wine for the evening was from Chile. Argentina’s red wine came in second place. The Aussie red and white wines ended up in last place!

So, if you haven’t tried a Chilean wine, maybe now is the time to go to your favorite bottle shop and picking up one or two? If you want to see which wines were tasted and their rankings, go to and scroll down to the middle of the page.

And lastly a few Chilean wines you may want to buy and try:

Novas Organic Carmenere Cabernet, Chile, 2004, $16.99
Montes Alpha Chardonnay, Chile, 2006, $26.85
Viu Manent Malbec Reserva, Chile, 2005 (private stores)
Matetic “EQ” Sauvignon Blanc, Chile, 2005 (private stores)


Going to a wine tasting

You might be apprehensive, but do it. Going to a wine tasting is a great way to learn about wines. You will get the chance to try several wines in a row. The speaker will typically describe something about each wine before you try it, and give his/her opinion on what flavours they tasted and aromas they smelled. Practice makes perfect.

When you are trying wines at home, you may have one, maybe two wines. This is OK, but you can only compare one against the other. This can be a problem if you have one red and one white wine, as the two will likely be very different. What you want to do, if you do open two wines, is to pick two of the same varietal, e.g. two cabernet sauvignon. What you should also do is open wines from two different price points. Try a sub $20 and a $30-$40 Cabernet Sauvignon for example. Can you taste a different at the higher price point? Usually the higher price point wines use riper grapes, have more concentrated flavours and are aged in oak barrels for an extended period. The lower price point wine, may use lesser quality grapes (maybe picked before they reached thier full ripeness and may have some green grapes mixed in) and if there is oak, it could be from oak chips added to the fermenting tank. You will get a less expressive, thinner wine, with maybe a very oaky flavour, for example. It may not happen and you get a very nice inexpensive wine. There are many around. But usually you should be able to taste and smell the difference.

So wherever you are reading this blog from, go to google or yahoo and try to search for wine societies near to where you live. In Vancouver, BC, there is the South World Wine Society, BC Wine Appreciation Society, Australian Wine Appreciation Society, and a few more. At these societies they usually show wines from different price points and usually follow a theme, such as Cabernet Sauvignon from around the world, or compare Australian to South African wine. These wines have been picked specifically to show their differences.

If you are shy, you can get MyWinePal to host a wine tasting at your home. Here is the link: Enjoy!

Dinner with Aurelio Montes

Yesterday evening was exceptional. Through the South World Wine Society and Whitehall Agencies, I and 55 other people sat down to dinner at Saltaire in West Vancouver and enjoy the wines from Aurelio Montes. Mr. Montes’ winery is the 4th largest winery in Chile. He bought to us:

Montes Leyda Sauvignon Blanc
Montes Classic Cabernet Sauvignon
Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Carmenere
Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon
Alpha Chardonnay
Alpha M cabernet sauvignon blend
Folly 100% Syrah
Purple Angel Carmenere Petit Verdot

The Alpha, Folly, and Purple Angel wines are all Premium wines from Montes. Aurelio is a tall imposing man, but when you talk to him, he is very nice and down to earth. He told us of his experience of starting the Montes winery and growing it to the point where he was able to open a winery in Argentina in 2002, and another winery in Napa Valley in 2006! All the Montes’ red wines have silky smooth tannins. Aurelio says it is because he likes to let their red grapes hang on the vine as long as possible. His Sauvignon Blanc was very much in the New World, New Zealand style. It had good acidity and a wonderful herbal nose (and paired very nicely with the chilled black tiger prawns with garlic aioli appetizer).

Our first course was a sweet curry creamed orzo which was paired with the Alpha Chardonnay. The Chardonnay comes from the Casablanca valley. It is oak fermented and aged in the barrel for one year. The lees (the dead yeast cells) are stirred in the barrel regularly to add a creamy texture/flavour to this wine. It had a wonderful pear and vanilla aroma. The creaminess of the wine and the full pear/apple/spice flavour paired nicely with the orzo.

The second course was a smoked black cod. It was paired with the Cabernet Carmenere blend and with the Alpha Cabernet blend. I thought the Alpha Cab with fuller body and firmer tannins held up well with the strong smoky flavour from the cod.

More to come for the third course and final course in my next blog.

You can visit the Montes website for more info.