BCWAS

BCWAS – Perseus Wine Tasting Tickets on Sale

Have you tried the wines from BC’s Perseus winery?  Top quality wine that I’ve had the pleasure of sampling several times.  Here is your chance to taste their wines at the BC Wine Appreciation Society tasting.  The BCWAS announcement is below.  Enjoy!

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Perseus Winery Tempus Syrah 2009Perseus Winery was named after the constellation of Perseus, which can be seen in the clear northern sky in the months after harvest.

”The goal of Perseus Winery is to produce approachable wines of character and distinction from some of British Columbia’s finest vineyards.”  Perseus believes in terroir – that sense of place which includes the soil type, the microclimate, the slope, and the actual location of the vineyard. Their winemaking philosophy is to handle the wine as little as possible, letting the grapes do the talking! Recent awards include a Gold, a Silver, and two Bronzes at the WineAlign National Awards of Canada – these wines are stars!

John Pullen, Director of Sales and Marketing for Perseus, will be coming out to talk to us, and he’s bringing a whole constellation of eleven of his wines – including two mini-verticals! John has almost a decade of BC wine experience, most recently at Church and State. He’s very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about BC wines, so he’ll fit right in with all of us!

The Wine Flight

The wines you will enjoy are:

  • 2011 Sauvignon Blanc – crisp and refreshing
  • 2011 Pinot Gris – lots of peachy characters
  • 2012 Viognier – look for hints of tropical fruits
  • 2011 Chardonnay – even you “ABC” types will like this one
  • 2011 Cabernet Franc – spicy and full-bodied
  • 2011 Malbec – rich and dark
  • 2010 and 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon – big and bold
  • 2009, 2010 and 2011 Invictus – complex spicy/fruity Bordeaux blend

This will be our first tasting at our new venue, the Vancouver Masonic Centre. We look forward to seeing your familiar faces in our new location!

Where is the Tasting?

  • Where is the Masonic Centre?  1495 W 8th Ave, at Granville
  • How can I get there? Transit is very convenient! Bus routes 4, 7, 10, 16, and 50 stop along Granville, and routes 9 and 99 stop on Broadway. All stops are within one or two blocks.
  • What about parking?  Underground parking is available, and there is lots of street parking, too. Sorry, no free parking, but we will give you a free transit ticket to get you home!

Several of our tastings this year have sold out. Sign up quickly to make sure you don’t miss this one!

 When and How Much?

Date: Wednesday October 9, 2013

Time: 7:30 to 9:30

Place: the Vancouver Masonic Centre, 1495 West 8th Ave (just off Granville)

Members: only $45

Guests: $60

To sign up click on the link below.

http://www.bcwas.com/Perseus.html

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Sen Bistro – A New Restaurant Opening For Chef Zhang

Upscale interior at Sen Bistro

Upscale interior at Sen Bistro

Sen Bistro on Broadway @ Burrard (1788 W. Broadway), has had a soft opening, but last week, they had their official opening with a Media Dinner kickoff.  I was fortunate to be invited to attend.  Sen Bistro is the sister restaurant to Chef Zhang‘s nearby Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House.  Both feature Northern Chinese cuisine, which is different from the Southern Chinese restaurants that populate the Lower Mainland. I find that the Northern cuisine has more beef and lamb for example, as well as other spices like cumin being used.  Chef Zhang opened Sen Bistro so that he could experiment with the Northern Chinese dishes; fusing food or spices from other parts of the world.  I think all chefs like to experiment and grow.

This evening we also had wine pairings to go with the specific dishes served to us.  Another nod to fusion; east meets west.  In the reception, I enjoyed the cumin spiced lamb cubes.  At first I saw large numbers of dried red chilies and thought that this might be a very spicy dish, but I was quite surprised that it was fairly mild.  Also served was a beef curry spring roll. Our wine pairing was a St. Hubertus Rose from the Okanagan.  Made from Gamay fruit, this rose burst with red fruit and red cherries.  Off dry, it tasted a bit like candy. An OK wine, but may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Salad Trio

Salad trio

Salad trio

There was a Salad Trio, was really nice, with contrasts in flavors and textures.  The celery & dried scallop and the lotus root dishes were tied for my favourite of the three dishes.  The celery was crunchy and I enjoyed the sesame oil taste.  The lotus root dish was very different. Thin slices of lotus root, marinated in a Chinese red vinegar, along with some sweet component.  So you get crunchy, sweet and sour in each bite. Nice. The pairing for this was a Cono Sur Viognier 2011 (Chile).  Cono Sur has been producing some good quality wines for many years.  This Viognier was full bodied, nice and round mouthfeel, with lots of tropical and stone fruit.  Along with the Salad Trio, we were served a Broad Bean & Sherchai Mash.  It looked very similar to guacamole, but different flavour profile. The texture was similar to guacamole, but it was dried, and had a salty and spinach flavour to it.  I had never heard of Sherchai, and was told it was similar to spinach.  I did a quick search on Google but did not see it; perhaps I should head out to Chinatown to investigate!

Broad bean and sherchai mash

Broad bean and sherchai mash

Hot Appetizers

For hot appetizers we samples a Chicken, enoki & shitake mushroom soup, Lormi Xiaomai, and salt & pepper crunchy tofu.  The tofu was fabulous.  If you like dry ribs and beer, the salt & pepper crunchy tofu would be a great replacement.  Nice crunchy outside, spicy from crushed chili pepper, but not too much; just right.  If you have gone for dim sum, you probably have had xiaomai (mixed ground pork and shrimp in a flour wrapper).  The Lormi Xiaomai was stuffed instead with sticky rice. I do like sticky rice in lotus leaf.  This is a bite size version, sans lotus leaf flavour component. The Chicken with enoki & shitake mushroom soup, was calming. The mushrooms added an earthy component to the soup. There were small chopped green vegetables, still with a bit of crunch to them.

Salt and pepper crunchy tofu

Salt and pepper crunchy tofu

Lormi xiaomai

Lormi xiaomai

Chicken with enoki and shitake mushroom soup

Chicken with enoki and shitake mushroom soup

Entree

I think the entrees showed most of the fusion component of the evening.  The dishes were:

  • Flambe salmon
  • Braised pork with pumpkin in soybean paste
  • Double prawns delight
  • Wok-fried vegetables
  • Steamed crepes & buns

Salmon, the patron fish of BC, was served on a hot plate, then flambeed at our table.  The salmon was cooked perfectly, nicely soft in the centre.  I really enjoyed the braised pork with pumpkin.  The pork belly had nice layering of fat and meat and too that the soybean paste had 5 Spice powder seasoning.  The pumpkin slice that accompanied too went well.  Nice and soft, and of course matching with the 5 Spice powder (which has cinnamon and cloves). We paired the entrees with a Lucky Star Pinot Noir 2011 (California).  The acidity in the Pinot Noir cut through the fattiness of the pork belly.  Our table really liked this Pinot Noir.  It had flavours of sour red cherries and a hint of violets.  Light body, dry with low tannins.  The steamed crepes & buns were good to sop up the soybean paste sauce from this dish.

Flambe salmon

Flambe salmon

Braised pork with pumpkin in soybean paste

Braised pork with pumpkin in soybean paste

The double prawns delight featured prawns cooked two ways; one deep fried and coated with a honey mustard sauce, and the other wok fried with a smokey / sweet / chili sauce.  I preferred the latter, but several people at my table also liked the honey mustard version.

Double prawns delight

Double prawns delight

The last dish was the wok-fried vegetables, mainly consisting of thin slices of eggplant, mushrooms, and scallions. It was spiced with ginger and sauteed. Quite tasty.

Wok fried vegetables

Wok fried vegetables

Dessert Duo

There were two desserts.  The first was “pumpkin sticks“, but it was more than just a “poki” style stick that you see at T&T.  To this there was a yellow yam? pudding topped by a purple yam ball coated with dried coconut.  The purple yam ball was a hit. The pudding was also good, not too sweet, but may be bland to some people not familiar with Asian style desserts. The other dish was the blackbean paste Lormi-zhi.  We were presented with what appeared like Japanese mochi balls, that were each in a different colour.  Each one had a different filling.  One was the traditional blackbean paste, while another that I tried had 3 types of chopped nuts (peanut, cashew and almond I think).

Pumpkin sticks dessert

Pumpkin sticks dessert

Blackbean paste Lormi-zhi

Blackbean paste Lormi-zhi

I wish Chef Zhang best of luck in his new endeavor at Sen Bistro.

A Few Quick Thanksgiving Wine Picks

Traditional Thanksgiving dinner courtesy of BenFranske

It’s very easy to get busy with work and family this time of the year.  And Thanksgiving comes knocking on the door extra early in October for us Canadians this year.  Some of you may be off to the Okanagan to enjoy their Fall Wine Festival.  Pick up a few bottles from the great wineries there to help you celebrate October 8.  Let’s look at a few red and white wines that you may want to have with your roast turkey or ham this year.

Wine Pairings for Roast Turkey

Roast turkey can be quite rich in flavour, plus gravy adding extra flavour.  You need a wine that can stand up on it’s own and complement the roasted flavours. A lightly oaked Chardonnay is one choice, an aromatic Viognier, or if you prefer red, a juicy Merlot or a Pinot Noir. A few that I’ve tasted over the past year:

  • Fort Berens Estate Winery Chardonnay 2011 ($17.99). This plus 2 reds from Fort Berens made me sit up and take notice.  Such quality from a new winery in a new BC wine region: Lillooet! Pale pear skin colour. Light vanilla and apple aromas.  Light body with peach flavour and a hint of oak and cinnamon. A very elegant, integrated wine.
  • Kalala Organic Estate Winery Dostana Chardonnay 2010 ($18.90). Medium lemon in colour with a nice apricot nose.  Medium body with honey, oak and apricot flavour. Very tasty.  Medium acidity with a hint of sweet spices.
  • Stag’s Hollow Viognier 2010 ($21.99). Light orangy nose.  Medium body, round mouthfeel with medium acidity. Citrus, peaches, vanilla and nutmeg on the palate.
  • Trivento Tribu Viognier 2011, Argentina ($9.99. SPEC listing). This was a very surprising wine for sub $10.  Light orange, peach and citrus nose.  Medium minus body with flowers, orange, and spice on the tongue.  Dry citrus finish.  A nice wine.
  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Merlot 2009 ($30). Light transparent garnet in the glass. Bright ripe cherry nose.  Light body, dry with ripe cherries and vanilla flavours.  Sweet cherry finish.
  • Bench 1775 Winery Merlot 2011 ($19.90). This was my surprise red wine of the tasting as I had not had their wines before.  I now want to try all their wines.  The Merlot was opaque ruby in colour.  Interesting nose of apples and plums. On the palate you get soft tannins, and flavours of yellow plum and red cherries. The yellow plum really stands out. Quite a different Merlot.  Give it a try.

Wine Pairings for Roast Ham

Roast ham is also quite full flavoured.  It has some sweetness to it, and can have other flavours such as some smokiness, depending on how it’s prepared. Riesling is a nice pairing with ham; think Alsatian food.  I think a  Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir would also be nice with ham.

  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Calliope Riesling 2011, BC ($14.99). Nice nose of citrus, apple and stone fruit.  Dry with high acidity, but still has some roundness on the palate.  Peach flavour with a slight herbal edge.
  • Fort Berens Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2010, BC ($24.99). Deep garnet in colour with light cedar and ripe cherry aromas. Dry, medium plus body with cedar, oak and ripe black fruit flavours. Ripe fruit and vanilla on the finish. This wine won a Double Gold Medal at the All Canadian Wine Championships.
  • Pewsey Vale Riesling, 2011, Australia ($23.99 SPEC).  Nice lime, lychee and flowers on the nose. Medium minus body, light acidity with lots of citrus and stone fruit flavours. Very tasty.
  • King Estate Winery Estate Signature Pinot Noir 2010, OR ($36.99).  King Estate is the largest, or one of the largest wineries in Oregon, but that doesn’t mean poor quality.  They produce very good Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.  They use organic and sustainable farming methods. Their Pinot Noir had light aromas of vanilla, red cherries and eucalyptus.  Medium minus body with a light mouth feel.  Raspberries, some tea leaves flavours, with spice showing up mid palate.  A quality wine!
  • Haywire Pinot Noir 2010, BC. Light garnet in the glass. Orange pekoe tea, nutmeg, violets, and raspberry aromas with a bit of match stick later on.  Quite a complex nose. Round, dry with red cherries, red berries, violets, some sweet spices and a streak of minerality. Medium length. Subtle tannins, which pick up on the finish. Excellent.
  • Carmen Pinot Noir Reserva, 2010, Chile ($18) – Violet aromas.   Cinnamon, violet, vanilla and cherry flavours.  Light body, low tannins. Very tasty.

I wish you many happy Thanksgiving with your family now and in the future. Cheers!

My Bada Bing Food Truck Experience

Bada Bing Truck with menu

After a quick meeting downtown today, it was almost noon, so I decided to try a food truck.  Beside the Burrard Skytrain station was the Bada Bing truck. They proudly list that they make a chicken and a steak Philly Cheese sandwich.  I decided to go for the chicken this time.  The sandwich came on a foot-long bun, loaded with bite sized pieces of chicken in a light Middle Eastern flavoured sauce to me, along with lots of fried onions, and melted provolone cheese.  The sandwich was piping hot, the way I like it.  I didn’t try to add any extra condiments, but wished I did.  The sandwich was good, and filling, but there was no bright or sour flavours to complement the chicken & fried onions.  I think some dill pickle, or picked banana peppers would have been a great addition to the sandwich.  I will have to try next time.

What wine would I have with this Chicken Philly Cheese?  I think a juicy Gamay would be my first choice.  Not overly heavy bodied or too much dark fruit flavours.  A few gamays that I can recommend are:

  • Bada Bing Chicken Philly Cheese

    Henry Fessy Julienas 2009, France ($25.99). If you like lighter bodied reds, such as from Pinot Noir, you may also like this wine, which is made from the Gamay grape. Nice medium ruby colour. Light cherry nose.  Medium body with light tannins and medium acidity. Cherry flavours. Easy to enjoy.

  • Henry Fessy “St. Amour”, 2009, France ($24.99). This is a Beaujolais from the eastern part of France (south of Burgundy), made from the Gamay grape.  Pale ruby in colour.  Cherry bon bon nose. Light body and lower tannins.  Cherry flavour. Lighter in body than a Bordeaux, similar in weight to a lighter Pinot Noir.
  • Volcanic Hills Estate Winery Gamay Noir 2009, BC ($12.90).  An unbelievable price for a single varietal wine from the Okanagan. This is a nice light bodied wine that you can serve slightly chilled.  The wine was pale cherry in colour.  Restrained aromas of red cherry and red currants, and a hint of smoke. On the palate there was violets, roses, cherries, black pepper and a bit of spice.  Refreshing acidity and quite a long finish.

If you do not like red wine, try these white wines:

  • Stags Hollow Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc 2010

    Stags Hollow Viognier 2010, BC. This Viognier was pale in colour with some sweetness, orange, and flower aromas. Very pretty. Tropical fruit and cinnamon flavours.  Medium body.

  • Thornhaven Estates Winery Pinot Gris 2010, BC. I think there is something specific about the terroir for this wine that makes this Pinot Gris have a wonderful grapefruit nose and flavour.  I haven’t seen this in other Okanagan Pinot Gris. Pale lemon in colour with red grapefruit nose. Flowery with citrus, grapefruit flavours. Yum.
  • Monmousseau Cuvee JM Brut 2007, France ($19.99). This sparkler is made from 100% Chenin Blanc grapes. Light lemon in colour .  Light citrus with a hint of honey aromas.  Cinnamon greets your lips up front on the palate, followed with citrus and apple flavours.  Medium acid and length.  Very tasty.

I hope to have more time to visit other food trucks in downtown Vancouver this summer, and give you my wine pairing recommendations. Enjoy!

Canadian Thanksgiving – Have You Picked Your Wine?

Traditional Thanksgiving dinner courtesy of BenFranske

It’s very easy to get busy with work and family this time of the year.  And Thanksgiving comes knocking on the door early October for us Canadians.  While the BC and ON winemakers are busy harvesting their grapes and making new and exciting wines for our Thanksgiving 2012, let’s look at a few red and white wines that you may want to have with your roast turkey or ham this year.

Wine Pairings for Roast Turkey

Roast turkey can be quite rich in flavour, plus gravy adding extra flavour.  You need a wine that can stand up on it’s own and complement the roasted flavours. A lightly oaked Chardonnay is one choice, an aromatic Viognier, or if you prefer red, a juicy Merlot or a Pinot Noir. A few that I’ve tasted over the past year:

  • Spierhead Chardonnay

    Spierhead Winery Chardonnay 2010 (Canada). Here is another of BC’s newest wineries. Spierhead is located in South East Kelowna, near Tantalus. Their chardonnay is creamy with lots of vanilla and tropical fruit aromas and flavours.  Enjoy juicy fruit flavours in your mouth with medium acidity to keep it refreshing.

  • Mount Baker Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate 2009 (US$24). Light cherry colour in the glass. Violets, light spice and strawberry aromas.  Light body with raspberry, strawberry, and a hint of cedar and vanilla.  Low tannins and smooth on the palate. Nice.
  • M. Chapoutier Invitare, Condrieu, 2009 (France). Invitare is made from 100% Viognier. The Condrieu appellation where the grapes are from only produces wine from Viognier.  No red wines in Condrieu. 30% of this wine is aged in oak barrels.  The wine also goes through a malolactic fermentation (MLF) to give it more roundness.  Deep golden in the glass with a very fruity nose of oranges and honey. Round, medium body with cinnamon and orange flavours.  Medium minus acidity.  Round in the mouth, thanks to the MLF. A bit of spice on the finish.  An excellent wine, but drink it young, no longer than 3 years of aging potential.
  • Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2008 (BC). This is 100% Chardonnay from a blend of 3 Chardonnay clones: 2 Dijon and 1 Loire. A portion of the wine is fermented in French oak and left sur lies for 10 months. Pale lemon with a green tint in the glass.  Flower and lemon on the nose. Medium body with vanilla, pineapple flavours.  Medium acidity. A very well balanced wine.  This is a chardonnay that everyone should try.
  • La Stella Allegretto 2008 (BC). This is 100% Merlot grown from their Stag vineyard in Osoyoos.  Deep purple in the glass.  Lots of raspberry, cherry and vanilla on the nose.  Full body with mocha, cherry and vanilla flavour, and a hint of raspberry.  Medium tannins with a long finish.

Wine Pairings for Roast Ham

Roast ham is also quite full flavoured.  It has some sweetness to it, and can have other flavours such as some smokiness, depending on how it’s prepared. Riesling is a nice pairing with ham; think Alsatian food.  I think a Pinot Noir would also be nice with ham.

  • Schloss Reinhartshausen Prinz VVN Preussen Rielsing Off-Dry 2009 (Germany). I really enjoyed this wine.  Light lemon colour in the glass. Light flowery nose.  Good acidity with lime flavour and streak of minerality.
  • Kim Crawford Small Parcel “The-Rise-and-Shine” Creek Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007 (New Zealand) ($34.99). Central Otago, is inland in the South Island.  The cooler climate allows these grapes have a long hang time and smaller berries, which gives a higher skin to pulp ratio, and more intense, riper, fruit flavours.  Medium purple in the glass with ripe purple fruit and vanilla aromas.  Ripe fruit, cassis, plums and vanilla on the palate.  Medium body and medium length.  Very nice.
  • Kalala Organic Estate Winery Riesling 2008 (BC). Medium lemon colour in the glass. Nice petrol and apple aromas. Dry with apple, lemon, petrol flavours and a bit of spice on the finish.
  • Vina Santa Rita Medalla Real Pinot Noir 2008 (Chile). Santa Rita is a premium producer from Chile.  I really enjoy their wines, and spent time visiting them in Chile. Their Medalla Real Pinot Noir is coloured light purple in the glass.  Ripe cassis aromas. Round mouth feel, light boded with an abundance of cassis flavour.  Low tannins.

I hope some of these suggestions help you make your Thanksgiving memorable. Cheers!

My Latest IVSA Wine Highlights and Recommendations

Today was the first Import Vintners & Spirits Association (IVSA) Product Salon since before summer. I was looking forward to see what range of new wines have come in over the summer, and I can tell you about, so you can enjoy some great wines with the fall and winter coming upon us. As usual there was too many wines to try in too little time, so hopefully I found a few gems to pass along to you.

Overall Gems

Dante Robino Bonarda 2009

These two wines have a great price point, and taste great too.  One is from Italy and the other from Argentina.

  • Bodega Dante Robino Bonarda, 2009, Argentina ($17.99). Bonarda is an Italian grape. It was brought to Argentina where it flourishes,but it is not so well known to the North American palate.  This wine was very deep ruby in the glass.  Wow, a very interesting nose with cloves up front and black fruit supporting from behind. Medium plus in body with a round mouthfeel.  Cloves, vanilla and black fruit with a spicy finish.  Long length. This wine has the backbone and fruit to stand up to a heavy meal.
  • Tenuta Maggiore Amphorae, 2009, Italy ($14.95). This Italian red is made from Croatina, Barbera and Shiraz grapes. Lighter ruby red in the glass. Some violets, blackberries on the nose.  Light mouthfeel, bright flavours of cherries and violets.  Quite dry.  A really different, and really nice wine!

A Tale of Two Chenins

The Winery of Good Hope and Domaine de Vaugondy Chenin Blancs

Have you heard of Vouvray, or the Loire Valley in France?  This is classic Chenin Blanc. Have you heard of Steen?  That’s the name of Chenin Blanc from South Africa.  I enjoyed a comparison of these 2 Chenins, which are both sub $20.

  • The Winery of Good Hope, Chenin Blanc, 2010, South Africa ($13.99). Fairly deep lemon coloured. Light lemony nose.  High acid right up front.  Citrus and pairs on the palate with a vanilla finish and long length.  Medium body.  Something a bit different from a chardonnay if you like a little more acidity.
  • Domaine de Vaugondy, Vouvray, 2010, France ($19.99). Pale lemon with a green tinge. A nice flowery, stone fruit nose. Really high acidity with green flavours. Really needs to be sipped along with food, or let this one age a few years and then try again.  Chenin Blancs can stand aging and get better with time.

A Few Nice French Reds

These next 3 wines range across from the West, South, and East parts of France.  All different grapes with one sure to please you.

  • Henry Fessy “St. Amour”, 2009, France ($24.99). This is a Beaujolais from the eastern part of France (south of Burgundy), made from the Gamay grape.  Pale ruby in colour.  Cherry bon bon nose. Light body and lower tannins.  Cherry flavour. Lighter in body than a Bordeaux, similar in weight to a lighter Pinot Noir. Chilled a bit and served with a cornish hen, a light curry, or some Camembert cheese.
  • Chateau Belles-Graves, 2004, Bordeaux, France ($46.58). If you want to splurge on a red wine, this one would fit the bill. Very elegant, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, coming from the right bank, in the Lalande-de-Pomerol AOC. Pale garnet in colour. Nice aromas of flowers and cherries. Light body with cherry and apple flavours up front, violets showing up mid-palate, and a bit of spice on the finish. Medium tannins with a soft finish.
  • Domaine de Fontsainte, Corbieres Rouge, 2007, France ($22.31). This is a blended wine from southern France.  Corbieres being straight east of Carcassone. The blend of grapes are Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah. Medium garnet in the glass. Stony, smoky, strawberries on the nose. Medium body, dry with cherries, raspberries and some smokiness/flintiness mid-palate. Medium acidity with softer tanning.  Long length some some black pepper on the finish.  A very well-structured wine.

Anything But Chardonnay

Neudorf Pinot Gris 2010

I know that some people really do not like Chardonnay. So if you belong in this club, OR if you want to try some exciting white wines, try these out.

Domaine Gayda Three Winds Viognier, 2010, France ($13.99). Viognier is an aromatic grape coming out of the Rhone Valley. This wine had nice flowers and peach aromas in the glass.  Spicy cinnamon and peach flavours.  Round with medium acidity. Very enjoyable with a herbal finish.

Neudorf Moutere Pinot Gris, 2010, New Zealand ($29.99). Pale lemon in colour.  Stone fruit along with a nutty/oaky nose. Light bodied, off dry with medium acidity.  Citrus and a bit of spiciness and honey flavours. Elegant.

Canepa Novisimo Sauvignon Blanc, 2o10, Chile ($11.99). This is an unreal price. The Canepa winery was named the Chilean Producer of the Year at the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2010. New to the Vancouver market. This wine has a nice nose of kiwi fruit, citrus, and a hint of oranges. Medium acidity with herbal and asparagus flavours. Light body. Make it your fun to drink, house white wine.

Juicy Red Wines

To finish off this blog article, here are 2 full fruited red wines.

Lange Twins Winery, Zinfandel, 2009, California ($23.99). The zinfandel grapes for this wine come from certified sustainable Lodi Rules, in Lodi, California. Light ruby in colour.  Ripe raspberry aromas. Lots of vanilla, raspberries and cassis on the palate. Medium body, round mouthfeel, with medium acidity makes this jammy zin easy and ready to drink now.

Santa Julia Magna, 2009, Argentina ($15.99). This wine is made by the Zuccardi family.  I’ve spoken about their “Q” series many times.  Their Santa Julia Magna is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Malbec, and 10% Syrah. Almost opaque budy in colour. Really ripe black fruit, plums, cherries and vanilla aromas. Smooth, full body with cherries and vanilla. Drink now.

Try out one or more of these wines, and comment on this post.  Let me know what you think.  And I’ll keep you posted on the next IVSA. Enjoy!

Rob Feenie and Le Vieux Pin Wines: A Perfect Pairing

What does master chef Rob Feenie have to do with the Le Vieux Pin wines of the South Okanagan?  No, he is not another celebrity opening a winery.  But what he has done, now for the second year, is pair up with the wineries to produce a Feenie’s Blend wine, which is sold at Cactus Club Cafe restaurants!  I had a chance to try the second release of the Feenie’s Blend, red and white, at a recent Le Vieux Pin and La Stella winery new vintage release event.  In addition, I was able to taste a vertical of La Stella’s Allegretto Pie Franco Merlot wines. Let me tell you about the wines I tasted.

Feenie’s Blend Wines

Petit Le Vieux Pin Feenies Blend Rouge and Blanc

Petit Le Vieux Pin Feenie’s Blend Blanc 2010 – Slightly warmer year so slightly higher alcohol content compared to the first vintage. This is a blend of several white aromatic varieties. Pale lemon colour. The Muscat really shows through with orange and spices on the nose as well as other citrus fruits. Quite round mouthfeel, with acidity kicking in the mid-palate. Spicy finish with ripe fruits; peaches and oranges. A nice wine.

Petit Le Vieux Pin Feenie’s Blend Rouge 2009 – A Bordeaux blend made with primarily Merlot. Pretty medium garnet colour. Has a bit of chocolate, leather, cherries, and vanilla on the nose. Medium body, fairly dry, with big legs in the glass. Red cherry and a bit of bon bon flavours. Dry finish.

What is Le Vieux Pin Équinoxe Series?

Newly released, the Équinoxe series could be viewed as a Reserve level series for Le Vieux Pin, but it is much more than that. It also represents equal day, equal night; Equal Old World, equal New World styles.  Everything in perfect harmony.

Le Vieux Pin’s Latest Releases

Équinoxe Syrah 2008 – This Syrah has a traditional Rhone blending of 5% Viognier to add some flowery notes and colour extraction to the Syrah grapes. This is a single vineyard wine from new, 3 year old, vines. Fairly deep purple garnet in the glass. Lots of leather on the nose and a bit of smokiness and dark fruit. Bursting with blueberry and black currant flavour. Spiciness in the mid-palate, and a long length. Subtle vanilla in the background. A big wine. Nice. Still full of youth, it should be interesting to watch future vintages of this wine.

Le Vieux Pin Equinox Cabernet Franc 2008

Équinoxe Merlot 2008 – Medium garnet in colour. A fair amount of legs to this wine, representing high alcohol content. Restrained nose, even with decanting. I detected light vanilla and cherries, and in general ripe, red fruit.  Medium body, very smooth. Some red fruit and cherries. Towards the mid-palate, a raspberry leafiness, some tannins and spices. Long length to this wine. This wine leaves the back and sides of your tongue watering, which indicates a higher amount of acidity.

Équinoxe Cabernet Franc 2008 – This wine comes from a single row from a single vineyard of 16 year old vines, to produce a single barrel of wine! Medium garnet colour in the glass. Light vanilla, cherries, and a slight hint of cedary notes. Medium body with cherry and cassis flavours.  Tannins kick in quite quickly. A very dry wine.  This wine also has the raspberry leafiness that was also there on the Merlot.

La Stella’s Latest Releases

Before talking about these wines, you may want to know what is “Pie Franco“? “Pie Franco” is a term meaning ungrafted (In French I believe it would be “franc de pied”). Why is this important?  As you may know the phylloxera louse nearly wiped out all vitis vinifera in Europe and needed to be grafted to North American root stock in order for it to survive.  Some people have said that you now never really get the true flavour of these European grapes.  In some parts of the world that have sandy soils, phylloxera cannot survive, so you can plant the vitis vinifera in the ground with it’s own rootstock.  This is what has been done in the South Okanagan with the Merlot I had tasted from La Stella.  Chile is another area famous for planting vitis vinifera vines on their own rootstock.

La Stella Allegretto Merlot 2006

Allegretto: Pie Franco Merlot 2006 – Medium to light garnet in colour. Some earthiness on the nose. Earthiness on the palate as well. Red fruit flavours. Low tannins and medium body.  Just a hint of spices. Dry with a long finish.

Allegretto: Pie Franco Merlot 2007 – A bit deeper in colour, purple red in the glass.  Fresh cherry and vanilla nose, with some white pepper. Medium plus in body. Quite smooth and round on the palate. Restrained cherries on the palate. Mid-palate there is some refreshing acidity and spiciness. Dry finish, and long length. I like this wine.

Allegretto: Pie Franco Merlot 2008 – Light garnet coloured. Raspberry and vanilla aromas and a hint of cassis. Light body with firm tannins. Cherries and raspberry flavours with vanilla in the background. Very dry. Another nice wine.

Maestoso: Merlot 2008 – This is La Stella’s flagship wine – the Jewel in the crown. Light ruby in the glass. Quite aromatic compared to the Allegrettos. Nice vanilla and cherry with a leafy edge to the nose. Interesting. Starts off feeling light, but as you aerate it, it gets heavier in your mouth! Vanilla and red cherry flavours with milk chocolate on the finish. Quite round. The tannins are soft.  I highly recommend this wine.

Enjoy these wines at home with friends or family, or go to the Cactus Club Cafe and try a Feenie’s Blend.

How Many Vineyards are in BC?

Have you ever wondered how much area of BC is covered with wine grapes?  Well it has been steadily growing.  The 2011 BC Grape Acreage Report was recently released and has some very interesting statistics that I would like to share with you.

Some Findings from the Report:

With 9,866.52 acres (3,946 hectares) of wine grapes planted in British Columbia, up 8.7% from 2008, the report’s author Lynn Bremmer of Mount Kobau Wine Services notes, “the overall grape acreage was limited in growth somewhat over the past three years due to a number of factors, including re-plants of existing vineyards to new varieties.” All of British Columbia’s designated viticultural areas have increased their number of vineyards by at least 5% since 2008, with the most significant regions of growth being Vancouver Island (up 24.3%) and the Similkameen Valley (up 19.2%). There are also new areas of growth throughout the province, including Shuswap/Spallumcheen, Kootenays, Lillooet/Lytton and Kamloops.

Varietal plantings showing some of the greatest increases include Riesling, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.

2011 BC Wine Grape Crop Report Summary:

There are 9,866.52 acres (3,946 hectares) of wine grapes in BC

  • 48 % White grapes, 52 % Red grapes
  • 95.7 % Vinifera grapes, 4.3 % hybrids

The most planted varieties in order of acres:

  1. Merlot  (Take that “Sideways”.  My comment.)
  2. Pinot Gris
  3. Chardonnay
  4. Pinot Noir (Wow, Pinot Noir 2nd most planted red grape!)
  5. Cabernet Sauvignon
  6. Gewurztraminer
  7. Syrah
  8. Cabernet Franc
  9. Riesling (Another interesting fact.  I thought it would be higher than Gewurztraminer.)
  10. Sauvignon Blanc

There are *210 licensed grape wineries in BC and 24 additional growers indicated they will start a winery in the future
There are 864 vineyards in BC (both winery and independently owned), with acreage distributed as follows:

  • 81.7 % in the Okanagan Valley
  • 7.0 % in the Similkameen Valley
  • 8.3 % in the Coastal Areas
  • 3.0 % in Other areas of BC

61.7 % of wine grape acreage is winery owned or controlled and 38.3 % is owned by independent grape growers

Average winery vineyard holdings is 28.97 acres

Average independent grower vineyard size is 6.6 acres

All these wine grape stats and more are available at the BC Wine Publications and Reports web page.  Enjoy!

A Few BC Day Wine Picks

BC flag

Our long weekend has started here in BC. And it is also sunny. I’m sure you will want to go outside for a picnic, maybe a BBQ in your backyard patio with family and friends. But maybe you need a few BC wines to get the party going. How about some of these?

Some BC Wines

Haywire Gamay Noir Rose

Haywire Gamay Noir Rose 2010 ($23). Light salmon colour. Strawberry and cherry aromas. High acidity with strawberries, raspberries and cherry flavours.  Very refreshing. We don’t come across a Gamay Noir rose, so this was nice.  Gamay, like Pinot Noir is naturally a low tannin wine, with red fruit / summer fruit flavours.  This is a very nice wine for the summer.  Try with some crab or lobster.

Township 7 Viognier 2008. This wine was medium lemon in colour. Honey, lime and tropical fruit on the nose. Medium acidity with citrus, mango and papaya flavours. If you have not tried a Viognier before, this one will get you hooked.

Church & State Wines Chardonnay 2007. This Chardonnay 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.

Blasted Church Mixed Blessings 2010 ($17.99). This is the third vintage of this wine, and each vintage is made of a unique blend of white grapes. This vintage was made with Riesling and Gewurztraminer.  Nice aromatic nose. Green and stone fruits.  Off dry with a slight green, herbal flavour.  Light body with medium acidity and light spice to finish. Nice.

Poplar Grove Legacy

Poplar Grove Winery Legacy 2006. Legacy is a Bordeaux blend consisting of 70% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 24% Cabernet Franc. Opaque garnet in colour.  Leather and cherry aromas. Full body with ripe black cherries and vanilla.  Medium tannins with a long length.

Van Westen Vineyards Voluptuous Merlot / Cabernet Franc 2007. Opaque purple in the glass. Ripe cherries and vanilla with a hint of cedar on the nose. Full bodied with firm yet smooth tannins.  Ripe black cherry flavour.

Howling Bluff Estate Winery Summa Quies Estate Pinot Noir 2009. Pale garnet in colour. Beautiful violets and strawberry aromas. Soft, light bodied, with vanilla, strawberries and ripe cherries on the palate.  Highly recommended.

Enjoy the long weekend!

Thank Your Mom with these Mothers Day Wine Selections

Mother’s Day is coming up soon. We all like to treat our mothers. A nice meal and nice wine is one option. Some wines you may want to consider.

Sparkling Wine

  • Fresita sparkling (Chile). This is a blend of white sparkling wine with blended strawberries. Very nice and fruity. Would be a nice way to start a breakfast if you don’t want to make a mimosa.
  • Champagne Lallier Rose (France). Very pale pinkish orange colour. Light strawberry nose. Bigger bubble, with strawberry and red cherry flavour. You can never go wrong with Champagne. If you cannot afford Champagne, maybe try an Italian Prosecco or a Spanish Cava.
  • Moreson  Blanc de Blancs Brut Method  Cap Classic (South Africa)   Chardonnay  NV.    A very fine bubble. Red apple, citrus, light spice and bready flavour. It had a long finish. Nice.
  • Codorniu Sparkling Brut (Spain) Pinot Noir NV.   This Spanish Cava is light orangy pink in colour. Light strawberry aroma. Very bracing in your mouth, with strawberry and raspberry flavours.

White Wines

If you mother likes white wines here are a few suggestions.

  • Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2008 (Canada). This is 100% Chardonnay from a blend of 3 Chardonnay clones: 2 Dijon and 1 Loire. A portion of the wine is fermented in French oak and left sur lies for 10 months. Pale lemon with a green tint in the glass.  Flower and lemon on the nose. Medium body with vanilla, pineapple flavours.  Medium acidity. A very well balanced wine.  This is a chardonnay that everyone should try.
  • Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (New Zealand).  Pale lemon in the glass.  Lots of gooseberry on the nose with some herbal on the nose that continued to the palate.  Medium plus acidity with long length.  Really nice flavour.
  • Township 7 Viognier 2008 was medium lemon in colour. Honey, lime and tropical fruit on the nose. Medium acidity with citrus, mango and papaya flavours. If you have not tried a Viognier before, this one will get you hooked.
  • Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Chile). It had varied aromas of citrus, pineapple and apple. On the palate there was good acidity with pineapple flavour and medium length.
  • La Frenz Winery Reserve Chardonnay 2009 (Canada). Pale lemon in the glass. Lots of vanilla with a hint of eucalyptus / menthol. Nice acidity.  Round mouthfeel with pineapple and spice.

Red Wines

Maybe your mother prefers red wine or you are planning to BBQ something for her.  Here are some suggestions.

  • Vina Santa Rita Medalla Real Pinot Noir 2008 (Chile). Santa Rita is a premium producer from Chile.  I really enjoy their wines, and spent time visiting them in Chile. Their Medalla Real Pinot Noir is coloured light purple in the glass.  Ripe cassis aromas. Round mouth feel, light boded with an abundance of cassis flavour.  Low tannins.
  • Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand). Pale purple colour.  Lots of raspberry aroma and flavour.  Also a bit of tea leaves on the palate. Light body with medium acidity.
  • Van Westen Vineyards Voluptuous Merlot / Cabernet Franc 2007 (Canada). Opaque puple in the glass. Ripe cherries and vanilla with a hint of cedar on the nose. Full bodied with firm yet smooth tannins.  Ripe black cherry flavour.
  • Howling Bluff Estate Winery Summa Quies Estate Pinot Noir 2009 (Canada). Pale garnet in colour. Beautiful violets and strawberry aromas. Soft, light bodied, with vanilla, strawberries and ripe cherries on the palate.  Highly recommended.
  • d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache 2008, (Australia)  This wine is light garnet in colour.  Smoke and raspberry on the nose.  Petrol, cassis, raspberry flavours.  Low tannins. Very refreshing.
  • Bennett Lane Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California) This cab is deep garnet in colour. A nice nose with ripe cassis and vanilla. Smooth mouthfeel with dark fruit and dry tannins. Long lingering flavours.
  • Clos du Val Wine Company Zinfandel 2009 (California). Light garnet in colour. Smoky raspberry nose. Medium body with raspberry and cassis flavours, with vanilla and spice on the finish. An elegant wine.
  • La Stella Allegretto 2008 (Canada). This is 100% Merlot grown from their Stag vineyard in Osoyoos on it’s own rootstock!  Deep purple in the glass.  Lots of raspberry, cherry and vanilla on the nose.  Full body with mocha, cherry and vanilla flavour, and a hint of raspberry.  Medium tannins with a long finish.

I’ve tried to give you a range of wines from light to full bodied.  I hope there is one for you and for your mother.  Enjoy!