Thinking about Thanksgiving?

It’s time that the harvest is coming in. I keep hearing tweets from various wineries that the grape harvest is well underway.

This coming Monday is Thanksgiving here in Canada. And of course, I am thinking of what bottle of wine to serve with my roast turkey. For many people, turkey or chicken means to open up a bottle of chardonnay, likely oaked, to make it a bit fuller bodied to balance out the heaviness of the bird with gravy. You can’t argue with that, but there are also some red wines too. Before getting into a few reds you might want to serve, here are a few white wine suggestions:

Therapy Vineyards Chardonnay (Okanagan) (the ’07 vintage was pale lemon. Vanilla, apple, and butterscotch aromas. Butterscotch, lees, citrus, and orange peel flavours. Round mouthfeel.)
Vina Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay (Chile) (the ’07 vintage is 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. Uses native yeasts so it is always a gamble. 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.)
Matua Judd Estate Chardonnay (New Zealand) (This is a top tier chardonnay from Matua. This ’04 vintage had melon, pear, sweet spices, butter, oak and vanilla aromas. It had a round mouthfeel, with some spice, oak and apple flavours, and a long finish.)
Meyer Family Vineyards Tribute Series Chardonnay 2008, Old Main Road Vineyard (Okanagan) (This vintage is medium lemony gold in colour. Medium intensity nose with citrus, tropical and dried fruit, butter, yeast, vanilla and butter aromas. It is dry with medium acidity and medium plus body. Flavours are citrus, dried fruit, pear, yeast, oak, vanilla and butter. It has a medium length with a green apple finish. Quite elegant.)

Other chardonnays you might want to consider would be from California.  They tend to be more full bodied due to the warmer climate.

Maybe you are curious about trying some red wine with your Thanksgiving turkey. There are a few options. I personally like a slightly chilled pinot noir. Pinot noir has good acidity to cut through the fat in the gravy, but is not so strong with oaky tannins, or too full bodied with fruit flavours that it completely overpowers your turkey dinner. Pinot noir can have aromas and flavours of raspberries, strawberries, violets and some spice. There are many more descriptors possible, but these ones are quite common. I think the summery fruit flavours would be a nice complement to the turkey. Although I haven’t tried it yet, I’m wondering if a Sangiovese which has similar characteristics could also work. Something for me to try. Here are a few pinot noir options for you:
Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir (New Zealand)(The ’05 vintage was medium ruby in appearance, and had smoky and strawberry aromas. On the palate one enjoyed strawberry and black cherry flavours with some spiciness.)
Greata Ranch Reserve Pinot Noir (Okanagan) (Single vineyard. Medium cherry in the glass. Nice colour. Raspberry and vanilla aromas. Raspberry, vanilla and cherry flavours. Full of flavour. Sweet flavour from ripe fruit yet dry.)
Voss Estate Pinot Noir (New Zealand) (The ’02 vintage had a wonderful bouquet with hints of violets, cherry and candy. On the palate there was nice acidity and smooth tannins. Cherry and strawberry flavours.)

Also to finish off this blog, maybe you are thinking bubbles? In Australia, they swear that a sparkling shiraz nicely chilled is good with roast turkey. I’ve tried it before and it did work. The sparkling shiraz took on a bit of sweetness with being chilled down before being served.

Enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Why does my wine taste different?

During the course of an evening enjoying a bottle of wine with friends you may notice that the aromas and flavours of the wine may change. This is more readily evident in red wines than white wines. If you leave the wine longer, e.g. taste it the day after or two days after, the wine will continue to change.

Case in point; a bottle of Therapy Vineyards Shiraz 2007 that I opened two days ago. At that time I noted it had aromas of plum, vanilla, and a hint of fried bacon. On the palate, there was ripe black fruits, soft tannins and vanilla. After about an hour the fried bacon aroma disappeared, and the fruitness and vanilla flavour became more pronounced. I put the cork back in the bottle without removing any air. Skip forward 2 days. In my tasting notes I remarked aromas of tea leaves, plum, and some smokiness. On the palate I tasted coffee, nutmeg and ripe black fruit. Sounds like two different wines, doesn’t it?

But we know it’s not. It is interesting to try a wine a few days after you originally tasted it. If the wine is red, see if the exposure to the air softened the tannins. Make notes.

I also have another reason for telling you about this experience. In my last blog article (Do You Trust Wine Reviews?), I was asking you to think about how a wine is rated, and gave a few suggestions on following wine critics. I did not mention in that blog about, WHEN the wine was tasted.

  • Did the wine critic taste the wine as soon as it was poured from the bottle?
  • Was the wine chilled?
  • Did they taste it as soon as it was poured, then after one or two hours after exposure to air?
  • Did they decant the wine before tasting?

These questions I think are interesting because the tasting review from a wine critic does influence many people’s decision when they purchase a bottle of wine. Maybe it would be good to know how the critic did their tasting? Maybe there should be two tastings of the same wine with a few hours of separation between tastings, and have BOTH tasting notes provided for the same bottle of wine? That could be so very interesting and informative to the wine public.

Tell me what you think.  Take out a bottle of red wine today.  Try it now and take notes.  Then tomorrow at the same time, pour yourself another glass of the same wine and make your tasting notes.  Please post your notes to this article because I think it would be of interest to many other people.  Thanks and cheers!

Bordeaux Blends for the Long Weekend

Our last long weekend, Labour Day, is upon us. Soon the rains will start here in BC. So fire up the BBQ for maybe one last great hurrah, and open a bottle of a BC Bordeaux blend.

When I speak of Bordeaux blend, in this blog I’m talking about red wine. There is a white Bordeaux blend, but I’ll cover that in a different blog.

In a red Bordeaux blend, you can have a blend of up to the following different grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere. Malbec and Carmenere are rarely used in Bordeaux now as they were hard to harvest to ripeness and most of the vines are gone. In Bordeaux due to the variations in the climate each year; sometimes a cooler year, and sometimes warmer, you needed to blend earlier ripening and later ripening grapes in order to get a good wine. In the Okanagan, we are blessed with fairly good weather every summer so we can do single varietals, but still blending adds additional complexity to the wine.

With that said, I checked into everythingwine.ca and identified the following BC Bordeaux blends in the $15-$25 range:

Black Widow Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 375 mL Red blend $24.99
Blasted Church Winery Big Bang Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $23.99
Domaine de Chaberton Canoe Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $15.99
Fork In The Road Winery Oliver Block 249 Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Hester Creek 2004 Cabernet – Merlot – Cab Franc 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Kalala Organic Estate Winery Cuvee Noir 2008 750 mL Red blend $19.99
Kettle Valley Starboard Fortified Malbec / Petit Verdot 375ml Red blend $24.99
Kettle Valley Old Main Red 375ml Red blend $23.99
Lake Breeze Vineyards Meritage Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $24.99
Road 13 Vineyards Rockpile Red Blend 750 mL Red blend $24.99
Sonora Ranch Proprietor’s Select Red 1.5 L Red blend $15.99
Therapy Vineyards Freud’s Ego 750ml Red blend $19.99
Toscano Rosso Red 2.0L Red blend $16.99

A few of the above blends may have some non-Bordeaux variety grapes in them, such as the Kalala Cuvee Noir, but most I think are all true Bordeaux blends.  In the past I’ve tasted the following BC Bordeaux blends:

Van Westen Vineyards Voluptuous Merlot / Cabernet Franc    2006    Deep reddish purple. Light aromas of cherry, cedar and slight herbaceousness. Round mouthfeel.  Dark fruit liquor, cherry and plum flavours with a vanilla finish.

Poplar Grove    Legacy Merlot / Cabernet Franc / Cabernet Sauvignon / Malbec    2004    Black fruit aromas with a slight wisp of capsicum.  Round mouthfeel with dark fruit and firm tannins.  Dry with a black cherry finish.

Howling Bluff    Sin Cera Merlot / Cabernet Franc / Malbec    2007    Deep purple with a red edge. Smoky, dark fruit aromas.  Dark fruit, cherry and spicy flavours.  Spicy / cherry finish.  Firm tannins.

Black Widow Winery    Hourglass Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon    2007    Nice nose with casis, cherry, plum and vanilla.  Fruit forward.  Black cherry, plum and some vanilla on palate.  Medium length.

Therapy Vineyards    Freud’s Ego Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc / Merlot    2007    Medium garnet with slight purple colouration.  Oak, cherry, currant and cedar aromas.  Cherry, red and dark berries, and vanilla flavour.  Round mouth feel, soft tannins.  Cherry finish.

I have many more in the list, but to keep it brief, I’ve listed just a few.  I hope you enjoy your Labour Day long weekend with a red  BC Bordeaux blend.

Cheers.

BC Chardonnay for Summer Sips

Chardonnay. Some people love it; others are not too crazy about it. From my speaking with people, I think it is mainly the heavily oaked chardonnays that are not as enjoyable for many people. But the good news is that there are many unoaked chardonnays which are lighter in body and show more fruit character. Mission Hill brought worldwide attention to Okanagan wines when their 1992 Mission Hill Grand Reserve Chardonnay was awarded the Avery Trophy for the Best Chardonnay at the International Wine & Spirit Competition.

Chardonnay can show a wide range of character including peach, pear, apple or tropical fruits, mineral notes and rich full-bodied buttery, toasty flavours if aged in oak. It can be a heavy white wine with oaking, and can be a replacement for some red wines. Try with a bbq’d steak.

Checking the www.EverythingWine.ca website, for $15-$25 BC Chardonnay, I came up with 33 wines:

Arrowleaf Chardonnay 750 mL Chardonnay $17.99 More information about Arrowleaf  Chardonnay 750 mL
Blasted Church Chardonnay Musque 750 mL Chardonnay $21.99 More information about Blasted Church  Chardonnay Musque 750 mL
Cassini Cellars Chardonnay 750mL Chardonnay $23.99 More information about Cassini Cellars  Chardonnay 750mL
Cedar Creek Estate Chardonnay Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $15.99 More information about Cedar Creek Estate Chardonnay Chardonnay 750ml
Cedar Creek Platinum Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $23.99 More information about Cedar Creek Platinum Chardonnay 750ml
Crowsnest Vineyards Stahltank Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $21.99 More information about Crowsnest Vineyards Stahltank Chardonnay 750ml
Desert Hills Unoaked Chard 750 mL Chardonnay $18.99 More information about Desert Hills  Unoaked Chard 750 mL
Dirty Laundry Chardonnay unoaked 750ml Chardonnay $23.99 More information about Dirty Laundry Chardonnay unoaked 750ml
Dragonfly Hill Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $19.99 More information about Dragonfly Hill Chardonnay 750ml
Gray Monk Unwooded Chardonnay 750 mL Chardonnay $16.99 More information about Gray Monk Unwooded  Chardonnay 750 mL
Herder Vineyards Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $23.99 More information about Herder Vineyards Chardonnay 750ml
Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Chardonnay 750 mL Chardonnay $17.99 More information about Jackson-Triggs  Grand Reserve  Chardonnay 750 mL
Kettle Valley Chardonnay 750 mL Chardonnay $21.99 More information about Kettle Valley Chardonnay 750 mL
Mike Weir Chardonnay 750 mL Chardonnay $16.99 More information about Mike Weir Chardonnay 750 mL
Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $18.99 More information about Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve  Chardonnay 750ml
Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $19.99 More information about Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Chardonnay 750ml
Mt Boucherie Summit Reserve Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $23.99 More information about Mt Boucherie Summit Reserve Chardonnay 750ml
Mt Boucherie Unoaked Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $17.99 More information about Mt Boucherie Unoaked Chardonnay 750ml
Nk’Mip Cellars Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $15.99 More information about Nk'Mip Cellars Chardonnay 750ml
Pacific Breeze Winery Sangiacomo Vineyards Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $22.99 More information about Pacific Breeze Winery Sangiacomo Vineyards Chardonnay 750ml
Peller Proprietor’s Reserve Chardonnay 1.5 L Chardonnay $15.99 More information about Peller Proprietor's Reserve Chardonnay 1.5 L
Quails’ Gate Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $18.99 More information about Quails' Gate Chardonnay 750ml
Quinta Ferreira Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $24.99 More information about Quinta Ferreira  Chardonnay 750ml
Robin Ridge Chardonnay 750 mL Chardonnay $22.99 More information about Robin Ridge Chardonnay 750 mL
Sandhill Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $17.99 More information about Sandhill Chardonnay 750ml
See Ya Later Ranch Unleashed Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $19.99 More information about See Ya Later Ranch Unleashed Chardonnay 750ml
See Ya Later Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $19.99 More information about See Ya Later Chardonnay 750ml
Sonora Ranch Chardonnay 1.5 L Chardonnay $17.99 More information about Sonora Ranch Chardonnay 1.5 L
Summerhill Estate Winery Chardonnay, Organic 750 mL Chardonnay $24.99 More information about Summerhill Estate Winery  Chardonnay, Organic 750 mL
Thornhaven Chardonnay 750 mL Chardonnay $18.99 More information about Thornhaven  Chardonnay 750 mL
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Chardonnay 750ml Chardonnay $19.99 More information about Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Chardonnay 750ml
Township 7 Semillon 750mL Chardonnay $19.97 | $22.99 More information about Township 7 Semillon 750mL
Township 7 un-oaked Chardonnay 750mL Chardonnay $21.99 More information about Township 7 un-oaked Chardonnay 750mL

Chardonnay is quite a popular grape amongst BC wineries. Some chardonnay’s in my tasting notes are:

  • Therapy Vineyards Chardonnay, 2007 – Pale lemon. Vanilla, apple, and butterscotch aromas. Butterscoth, leees, citrus, and orange peel flavours. Round mouthfeel.
  • Dirty Laundry Vineyard Unoaked Chardonnay, 2007 – Light lemon colour. Tropical fruit, lemon, and honey on the nose. Some roundness in the mouth. Vanilla, apple and pear flavours.
  • Greata Ranch Reserve Chardonnay, 2006 – Single vineyard. Slight oaky aroma and lime. Topical fruit flavour with a vanilla finish. Medium body, some roundness on the palate.
  • Greata Ranch Chardonnay, 2006 – Pale straw coloured. Oak, vanilla, and pineapple aromas. Oak, apple and citrus flavours. Light acidity, but very fruity.

Cheers!