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!

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