Celebrating Mardi Gras Food with Wine!

Mardi Gras is coming up on March 8. What food and wine will you be serving? I took a trip to New Orleans, the Big Easy, just before Hurricane Katrina. It was an amazing food experience. Lots of rich and delicious food.

For Mardi Gras, there are some well loved dishes.  I was thinking to tell you about some of them, and then offer some wine pairing suggestions.  And maybe get invited to a few Mardi Gras parties!

What are some Mardi Gras dishes?

Courtesy Epicurious.com

  • Oysters Bienville
  • Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
  • Gumbo

The Oysters Bienville dish on the half shell cooked with butter and egg and of course oysters is quite a rich dish.  A riesling or maybe an unoaked chardonnay may pair nicely with this.  For a riesling maybe try a Tantalus Vineyards Riesling from the Okanagan, BC or a Pikes Traditionale Clare Valley Riesling from Australia. For unoaked chardonnay, you could pick a La Chablisienne Chablis from France or Township 7 unoaked chardonnay from Okanagan, BC.

The Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya will be a spicy dish with a tomato based sauce.  A wine with good fruit and low tannins would pair well.  Maybe a grenache or a zinfandel.  On the grenache side, I really like the Sorrento Dry Grown Grenache 2008, McLaren Vale, Australia.  I just tried it last month and it is wonderful, lots of red fruit flavours.  Nice raspberry and toffee on the nose and on the palate. If you prefer a garnacha from Spain, try the Las Rocas Garnacha. For a zinfandel Kenwood Vineyards Yulupa Old Vine Zinfandel 2007 or Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2006.

What is gumbo?  Gumbo is a roux-based stew made with andouille sausage, cubes of beef, crab and shrimp. Again this will be spicy.  A New World pinot noir could match well.  From last years Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fair, I can recommend the Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir 2007 and the Woollaston Estates Tussock Nelson Pinot Noir 2007. My wine reviews for these 2 wines are here.  If you want a BC Pinot Noir, try the Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir?  One of my reliable pinots in BC!

In case you don’t have a recipe for these dishes, I’ve added the links for you.
Jambalaya

Oysters Bienville

Gumbo

Enjoy these dishes from the Big Easy and these wines from around the world!

My Favorite Wines in 2010 – MyWinePal Blog Selection

Wines change yearly with each new vintage. That’s one thing that makes tasting wine exciting. What wines did I try this past year, 2010, that made my favorite list?  I went through the list and noted that I recommended approximately 111 different wines this year.  The wines below are the ones I’ve selected from my BLOG.  I also have a wine selection from my main MyWinePal.com website.  I’ll post that separately.

From the 111 different wines my favorites for 2010 are:

White Wine

Domaine Comte-Senard Corton-Charlemagne 2006 (Burgundy). This wine was medium to deep lemon in the glass. Lemon vanilla, wood, and butterscotch on the nose. Medium body, with lemon, woody, earthy, and nutmeg aromas. Quite complex. Medium acidity which nicely balanced the fruit in this wine.

Jackson Estate Stich Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Marlborough, NZ) is a very elegant wine. Oak, lemon and herbal on the nose. Big legs from a higher alcohol content, but the wine is balanced by the fruit so not hot on the palate. It does have nice herbal and lemon flavours with good acidity, not too strong.

Church & States Wines Chardonnay 2007 (BC) is medium lemon colour. Nice apricot nose. Vanilla, sweet spice, pineapple and apricot flavours, with a bit of spice. Lots of flavours coming out the glass the more you swirled it around in your mouth.

Van Westen Vineyards Vivacious 2008 (BC) is Pinot Blanc with a hint of Pinot Gris, again has peachy fruit as well as some apricot aromas. Good acidity. Peach and apricot flavours with a touch of greenness.

La Frenz Andrew Vineyard Riesling 2009 (BC), is light lemon in colour. Flowery and apple aromas. Good acidity with a bit of residual sugar. Red apple and citrus flavours. Elegant.

Sperling Vineyards Pinot Gris 2008 (BC). This is a new winery in Kelowna, BC. No tasting room yet, but they are located near the Tantalus winery. Pale lemon in colour. A very nice nose with grapefruit and flowers. Medium body, high acidity, with flavours of lemon rind, flowers and some spice.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Chardonnay 2008 (Washington) was very elegant.  This wine was medium golden in the glass. Vanilla, oak, lemon and apple aromas.  It was medium body with toasty, lemon and light spice on the palate.  Light acidity to complement the roundness of the wine.  Spice and lemon on the finish.

Red Wine

Howling Bluff Estate Pinot Noir 2008 (BC). New world style, with ripe strawberry and cherry aromas with a bit of sweet spice and vanilla. Silky on the palate with vanilla, cherry, and raspberry flavours.

Dominique Laurent Chambolle-Musigny “Les Charmes” 1er Cru (Burgundy). I was told that Dominique Laurent is a bit of a controversial producer in Burgundy in that he buys wine and “elevates” it through the use of oak aging before bottling. His wines have his stamp or “signature” on them. Some enjoy having a wine with a certain style, while others do not. I did enjoy this wine. It was deep garnet in colour. Complex nose with dark cherry, liquor, slight smoke and vanilla aromas. Drying tannins but very fine grained. Medium body. Cherry flavour with slight spice on the finish.

Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux AOC 2007 (Bordeaux). This wine was a blend of 60% Merlot / 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was deep purple coloured in the glass. Meaty, dark cherry, cassis, and vanilla aromas. Full bodied, with ripe cherries, vanilla, and medium fine tanning. It had a very nice cherry finish and a long length.

Chateau de Gironville, Haut-Medoc AOC 2007 (Bordeaux) is a blend of 45% Merlot / 45% Cabernet Sauvignon / 10% Petit Verdot. Opaque purple in the glass (courtesy of the Petit Verdot). A very aromatic nose. Lots of coffee of black cherry. On the palate you get firm tannins, with black cherry, coffee, and vanilla flavours. Full body with long length.

Vina Maipo Syrah (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.

Ata Rangi ‘Crimson’ Pinot Noir 2008 (Waiparapa – New Zealand). Light cherry colour. Raspberry aroma. Red cherry and raspberry flavours. Soft tannins. Very elegant.

Panther Creek Freedom Hill Pinot Noir 2006 (Oregon) is light cherry coloured. Smoky, strawberry aromas. Earthy, cherry flavours, with a bit of spiciness and low tannins.

Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir (New Zealand) was medium garnet in the glass. A very pretty raspberry and plum nose. Raspberry, leafy, cherry flavours. Slightly spicy. Silky on the palate.

Le Vieux Pin Syrah / Viognier 2008 (BC). This Syrah / Viognier was deep purple in the glass, with aromas of vanilla, blueberry, plum and honeysuckle. On the palate you get ripe plum, black cherry and vanilla. Quite spicy, round in the mouth and long length.

Man O’ War Merlot / Cabernet / Franc / Malbec 2008 (New Zealand). The blend for this wine is 42% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc, 19% Malbec, and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium purple/garnet in colour. Smoky with black cherry and tar aromas. Black cherry, cassis, and vanilla flavours. It was medium plus in body with medium silky tannins and good acidity to balance the fruit. Very nicely done. It had a long length with a dry cherry finish. A quality wine that coated the glass.

Travaglini Giancarolo Gattinara DOCG 2005 (Italy) was a light cherry / tea colour in the glass. Tea leaves, strawberries, cedar and slight oak on the nose. Light body, with medium mouthfeel. Good fruit, with flavours of plum and cherries. The tannins were firm but refined. Dry finish with medium length.

La Frenz Reserve Pinot Noir 2008. (BC). This wine won a Silver in the Northwest Wine Summit this year, and two Gold medals at the Northwest Wine Summit in 2009. It had a nice smoky, strawberry nose with a hint of oak. Light body with strawberry and cherry flavours. Silky with low tannins. Long length with a cherry finish. Buy it before it is all sold out.

Nicol Vineyards Syrah 2008 (BC) is opaque purple in the glass. Vanilla and sweet dark fruit nose. Raspberries, red cherries, blueberries and a bit of minerality on the palate. Soft tannins. I do enjoy a syrah when the blueberry characteristic of the grape is detectable.

Bodega Noemia J Alberto 2008 (Argentina). This is a single vineyard Malbec. The vineyard and winery is certified biodynamic. This wine is deep purple in the glass. A very interesting nose with aromas of cassis, tar and cherries. Full bodied with a smooth round mouthfeel. Cassis, black plum, black cherry and quite spicy on the palate.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Washington).  Ethos is the top tier wine level from Chateau Ste Michelle.  The wine is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 3% Syrah. The wine is deep garnet in colour.  A nice nose, with aromas of capsicum, cherry, and meat.  Round on the palate with soft tannins.  Meaty, cassis, black cherry, and chocolate flavours.  The wine went through a very light filtering before being bottled, so don’t be surprised to see a bit of sediment in your glass.

Fortified / Dessert Wine

Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica Riesling Ice Wine 2006 (Washington). This wine was made in conjunction with Dr. Loosen from Germany. The Riesling grapes were harvested from their Horse Heaven Vineyard on Oct 31, which according to Chateau Ste Michelle is very rare.  This is only the fifth time in their 40 year history that this has occurred.  The wine was a medium golden colour in the glass.  Petrol, flowers, lemon nose.  Very pretty. Medium body, with a wonderful lime flavour, petrol, and good acidity to balance the sugar and fruit.  Medium sweetness.  Lovely lime finish.

Sparkling Wine

Moreson, Blanc de Blancs Brut Method Cap Classic, South Africa. This is 100% Chardonnay. A very fine bubble. Red apple, citrus, light spice and bready flavour. Long finish. Nice.

Enjoy this selection and stay tuned for my next blog article, where I will cover my wine selections from the main MyWinePal.com website.

Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fair 2010 – Day 2

Today is dedicated to the wines of New Zealand at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. New Zealand is well known for their Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, and there were plenty of fine examples to be tasted. But what was suprising was the number of Pinot Gris that were available. I knew that Pinot Gris is available in New Zealand, but was suprised how many made it across the Pacific Ocean to reach our shores. As such, I purchased 3 in particular that I liked:
– St. Helena Pinot Gris 2008 ($21.99)
– Mount Riley Pinot Gris 2009 (19.99)

– Gibbston Dream Maker Pinot Gris 2008 ($29.99)

The St. Helena Pinot Gris 2008 was roses and peach on the nose. Round mouth feel, with medium acidity. Peachy flavour with slight spice and oak.

Mount Riley Pinot Gris 2009 had a light peach and apricot nose. Off dry, and quite flavourful. Lots of peach and a bit of spice on the finish.

The Gibbston Highgate Estate Dream Maker Pinot Gris 2008 has a light sweet citrus / honey / peach nose. Medium acid with some roundness on the palate. Vanilla and peach flavours.

All wonderful choices for summer.

As you know, I love Pinot Noir, and I was waiting to try some new ones from New Zealand.
Two in particular I really liked was the:
– Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir 2007
– Woollaston Estates Tussock Nelson Pinot Noir 2007

The Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir was medium garnet in the glass. A very pretty raspberry and plum nose. Raspberry, leafy, cherry flavours. Slightly spicy. Silky on the palate. Very nice!

The Woollaston Estates Tussock Nelson Pinot Noir was very aromatic with strawberries and raspberries aromas. Cherry and raspberry flavours. Medium body, medium acidity. Vanilla on the finish.

There was of course many sauvignon blancs to choose from:
– Elephant Hill Estate and Winery Sauvignon Blanc Rserve 2008
– Mount Riley Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2009

– Sacred Hill Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009

I’m running out of time, so no review on these last 3, but don’t worry after the Festival is over, i’ll be posting full tasting notes.

See you all tomorrow at the Saturday tasting! Enjoy!

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!