Explore California at the 2019 Vancouver International Wine Festival

The BC Liquor Stores have some recommendations for you to buy California wines during the Vancouver International Wine Festival, which kicks off on Feb. 25, 2019.  Here is their press release.  Enjoy.

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The highly anticipated Vancouver International Wine Festival this year is featuring California as the theme region, making this the perfect time to explore the wines of the Golden State. Winery principals representing 160 wineries from 15 countries will travel to Vancouver to showcase their wines. Visit the onsite BC Liquor Store Festival Wine Shop for a selection of BCL Select exclusive, festival exclusive and collectible bottles signed by the winemakers themselves to add to your cellar or give as a gift.

What makes California wines so exciting right now? California has been blessed with fantastic vintages for the past seven consecutive years from 2012 to 2018. The majority of California wines featured at this year’s festival will be from the 2015 and 2016 vintages. In the 2015 vintage, the challenging growing season resulted in wines that are high quality but with low yields. The 2016 vintage experienced a near-perfect growing season.

If you can’t make it to this year’s festival, BC Liquor Stores carry a great selection of California wines all year-round. Give these wines a try:

Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay, Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon, and Windstorm Lodi Old VIne Zinfandel

Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay, Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon, and Windstorm Lodi Old VIne Zinfandel

 

Woodwork Chardonnay, Dynamite Cabernet Sauvignon, and The Crusher Petite Syrah

Woodwork Chardonnay, Dynamite Cabernet Sauvignon, and The Crusher Petite Syrah

 

Vancouver Foodster and the Best Burger Challenge

Best Burger ChallengeFrom November 5 – 30, 2012 you can taste the burger creations from 29 restaurants in Vancouver and Burnaby, then vote from November 28 – December 3 for your favourite. Visit www.vancouverfoodster.com/burger-challenge/ to find out all the restaurants and how to vote.

I had an opportunity to visit 3 of the participating restaurants with Media last week.  The burgers were all very different in their style, which I think makes the challenge interesting.  Find what you like.  The three restaurants we visited:

  • Max’s Burgers (521 West 8th Ave, Vancouver)
  • Luke’s Kitchen (2996 Granville St, Vancouver)
  • Whet (1517 Anderson St, Vancouver)

Max’s Burgers

Max’s Burgers produced a “local” burger, where all the ingredients are local.  Plus the hamburger bun is produced on premises. The beef comes from the Honest Butcher on Broadway and the bacon comes from Woodland Smokehouse.  Amber Ale white cheddar for the burger comes from the Okanagan. We were told that since they created this burger it is their top selling burger in Max’s. People like local!  I enjoyed this burger. It was well put together.  I liked the bacon in that it was not too smoky or salty, and the burger was not dripping in sauce.  The patty looked to be 1/2″ thick. Some other Media people mentioned how much they liked the home made hamburger buns.

Max’s also made their version of a Whisky Sour to go with our burger, called “Pomme de terroir“. It is a blend of local Spicebox Whisky mixed with roasted & pureed local Gala apples, and some sugar. A shrub vinegar was also added, and to top it off with R&B Cream ale foam. The baked apple mixed with the sweet spice from Spicebox Whisky was really very tasty.  I’d order it again.

If I were to pair a wine with this burger it may be a California Chardonnay, or maybe Summerhill’s ALIVE Organic Red.

Max's Burgers

Max’s Burgers

Max's local burger

Max’s local burger

Luke’s Kitchen

Luke’s Kitchen also went local but with a twist. They produced a home made veggie burger patty. They spent 2 months with 3 different consulting chefs to create the burger we tried that evening. Some of the ingredients that went into this patty included quinoa, toasted almonds, black beans and more.  To complement the burger they topped it with southern fried beer battered dill pickles and jalapeno peppers and dressed it with home made Granny Smith Chipotle ketchup. Wow. The pickled peppers and ketchup added zing to this burger. The patty had nice texture to it, and you don’t miss that it is not beef.

If I were to pair a wine with this, I may go with a rose wine, maybe from Joie or Haywire.

Luke’s Kitchen is taking local to another level as they will soon be growing their greens onsite, and talked about also raising their own fish at the restaurant too. Very cool and very local.

A side of deep fried pickles and jalapenos

A side of deep fried pickles and jalapenos

A cross section of Luke's veggie burger

A cross section of Luke’s veggie burger

Whet

Our last stop for the evening was Whet on Granville Island. They created a beef burger for this challenge and their twist was a Latin spice influence. They use local ingredients as well, such as the buns from Le Baguette on Granville Island. The beef was mixed with oregano, cumin and other spices.  AAA beef was used for the patty and it came 1/2″ thick on the bun. A Dominican style chimichuri slaw was served on the side.  The beef was very juicy and lots of flavour.  I in particular liked the cumin flavour, plus the actual taste from the grill marks on the patty.  I did not taste the grill from the other 2 burgers. The other thing I really liked was the cheddar cheese that was layered on the burger really stood out.  I like the sharpness of the cheddar.

I’m partial to Latin flavours, and this was my favourite burger of the evening.

They served an R&B Bitter with the burger.  It had nice orange, cherries and spice flavour. It was light body with medium bitterness.  A nice beer to enjoy with this burger.

If I were to have a glass of wine with this, I think I would go with a Ravenswood Zinfandel.

Whet's beef burger

Whet’s beef burger

Give these burgers a try, or try some of the other restaurants, then vote for your favourite burger. Enjoy!

A Taste of Apothic White at District 319

Apothic White and Red wines

Apothic White and Red wines

It was an interesting evening with wine, masks, and ballet dancers flitting about the darkened District 319 nightclub; A DJ spinning tracks, and a screen showing live tweets of the event (#ApothicBC). All this to introduce the release of the Californian Apothic White wine.

What is Apothic White?

It’s a blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Moscato. From the wine articles I read about happenings in the USA, off-dry wines, and Moscato wines are becoming very popular. So this wine, the Apothic White, should find a great audience. Medium lemon colour. Sweet, honey, flowers and citrus aromas. Off dry, medium body, quite round.   Stone fruit, peaches and tropical fruit flavours with cinnamon coming up on the mid palate. Softer acidity, making the wine feel heavier and more full bodied in your mouth. Probably a summer patio sipper, or for those people who prefer a softer, sweeter style white wine.  The wine is priced at $16.99.  I tried this wine with the various appetizers and I thought it went best with the cured sausages.  The fat of the sausage married well with the flavours and weight of the wine. It also paired with some of the hard cheeses.

For those that prefer red wines, there is also an Apothic Red, released last year, which is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot (at $15.99).

Enjoy the pictures of the event and the videos of the ballet dancers.

A glass of Apothic White to start the evening

A glass of Apothic White to start the evening

Listening to the announcement about Apothic White

Listening to the announcement about Apothic White

Some sweet treats to enjoy

Some sweet treats to enjoy

Food and Wine in Balance – Interesting Knowledge

Jerry Comfort from Beringer Winery

We all have been taught that white wines go with fish and red wines go with meat (red meat especially) and never the two shall cross.  But my recent Food and Wine in Balance seminar at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival tore down that pairing barrier.  So you can enjoy a California Cabernet Sauvignon with a steamed fillet of sole.  Really!

Our speaker with Mr. Jerry Comfort, the head/executive sommelier at Beringer Winery in California.  He brought with us the following wines to taste with our food samples:

  • Beringer White Zinfandel 2010
  • Beringer Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2009
  • Beringer Napa Valley Chardonnay 2010
  • Beringer Napa Valley Pinot Noir 2006
  • Beringer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

The Food & Wine Balance Rules

First the dominant taste in your dish will change all wines in the same way but to a different degree.  For example, sweetness in your dish will make all wines taste sour (or less sweet).   Your goal is to find a dish that doesn’t change the flavour of the wine too much, as to impair the pairing.

Beringer flight of wines

Second, sweet food can make wine taste sour.  I know I just mentioned it, but previously as an example of the first rule. How does sweetness make wine taste sour?  The sweet food makes our tongue’s tastebuds used to the sweet taste so that we don’t taste the sweetness in the wine.  If you want to taste the sweetness of a wine with a sweet dish, e.g. a dessert, then the wine must be sweeter than the dish.

Third, sourness in a dish makes wine softer, less acidic tasting.  As an example of these last two rules, we tasted the Beringer Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2009 with a sweet slice of apple and with a sour wedge of lemon. The Sauvignon Blanc became extremely sour tasting after eating the apple, while the wine became very soft, and you could even taste sweetness from the wine after trying the wine with the lemon.  On it’s own this wine had passion fruit and grapefruit aromas.  High acidity with tropical fruit and vanilla flavours.

Food for wine pairing

Fourth, sweet wines can also make red wines taste more bitter.  Toasted barrels used in red wines leave bitterness on your tongue.  We tested this rule by trying a Beringer Napa Valley Pinot Noir 2006 with some apple and some lemon.  The apple made the Pinot Noir bitter tasting, while the lemon made the Pinot Noir taste soft.  As Jerry, our instructor stated, “Sour food is our friend”. The Pinot Noir on its own had nice violets aroma.  Cinnamon, cloves, soft and round on the palate.  We tried the same test to the Beringer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008.  It tasted very dry, tannic and bitter with the apple, yet was quite soft on the palate with the the lemon.

How can sweetness in food make wines both sour and/or bitter?  Well these flavours in the wine were already there.  Sweetness makes these characteristics in the wine even stronger.

Fifth, salt blocks bitterness and acidity.  So salt can soften tannins in red wines, along with lemon.  From this, it would make sense that if you have a dish with low or no salt, that you should pair it with a wine that has little or no oak.  If you can’t eat salt due to health concerns, use acidity to tame those tannins.

As a test of this salt and acidity balancing out bitterness, we had a steamed piece of white fish that we each added lemon and salt.  We then ate a piece of this seasoned fish and a sip of the Beringer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  The pairing worked wonderfully.  Everything was in balance.

We also tried adding some salt and lemon to grilled steak and eating this seasoned steak with a Beringer Napa Valley Chardonnay 2010.  The Chardonnay on it’s own had vanilla, less and tropical fruit aromas.  Round with medium acid, vanilla (from oak) and tropical fruit flavours. The steak did not overpower the Chardonnay.

Sixth, spice (such as black pepper) does not affect sweetness or fruitiness in wine, but does taste spicer with red wines.  We tried some cheese with a black pepper rind with the Beringer California White Zinfandel.  This off-dry wine did not make the pepperiness go away, you just tasted the sweetness in the wine, which then wore off and the pepperiness reappeared.  This cheese with black pepper tasted more spicy with the Cabernet Sauvignon.

How do you deal with spiciness? Again through the proper addition of acidity and salt balanced out the spicy food so that they had less effect on the wine’s flavours, so the wine tasted good.  Adding some lemon juice and salt to the pepper rind cheese made a very nice pairing with the Cab.

Take Away from this Seminar

My take away from this seminar is that you really can enjoy more than one type of wine with a dish, as long a the dish has an appropriate salt & acid balance.  This is important, if you are having a party for example, and you have some people that prefer red wines while others prefer white wines.  Through the proper balancing of the food’s flavours, you can make a dish that both types of wines lovers will love even more.

If you have food with low salt, you may choose a high acid wine, or a wine with low oak. A dish that is very salty would do better with a fortified or a dessert wine (think salty cheese and port).

Overall I thought that this was a really different food & wine pairing event, and one which I would like to try on my own now.  Enjoy!

What a Celebration Dinner at Taste of Tulalip!

I really had a great time over the 2 days at the 3rd Annual Taste of Tulalip on Nov 11 and 12 at the Tulalip Resort Casino in WA State with “Top Chef” alum, Carla Hall, wine celeb,”Thirsty Girl” Leslie Sbrocco and more. The Friday evening Celebration Dinner featured award winning Sommelier Tommy Thompson’s selection of wines and a spectacular seven course meal from Tulalip’s culinary team, lead by Chef Perry Mascitti. The Celebration Dinner was the kick-off for the Taste of Tulalip on Nov. 11.  It was an evening of superb food, wine, and some surprises, like singing waiters, and a donation to a worthy cause.  More about these surprises later.

Our Food and Wine Pairings

Pork Belly, Thai Curry Bisque, and Southwest Duck Breast

Smoked Kurobuta Pork Belly, Maple Vanilla Gastrique
Parsnip Puree, Fois Gras, Bacon Jam
Halloumi Cheese Wrapped In Jamon Iberico Prosciutto
Paired with Long Shadow’s “Poets Leap” Riesling, Columbia Valley, WA 2010

Thai Curry Kabocha Squash Bisque
Tempura Vegetables With Five Spiced Cherry Reduction
Paired with Va Piano Vineyards “Bruno’s White II” Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, WA

Southwest Duck Breast With Hydro Bibb
Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, Gruyere, Pine Nuts, Pecorino Crisp
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
Paired with Reynvaan Vineyards “The Contender” Syrah, Walla Walla, WA, 2008

Grilled Wild King Salmon Over Savory Apple, Pear And Chevre Tart
Cinnamon And Autumn-Spiced Lamb Chop With Huckleberry Demi
Paired with Sparkman Cellars “L’Autre” Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, OR, 2009
and Corliss Estates “Cabernet Sauvignon”, Columbia Valley, WA, 2006

Refresh
Ruby Pink Grapefruit Segments, Sprig Of Thyme
And Blood Orange Reduction Pipette

A Study In Beef
Kobe New York Strip Loin In Chanterelle Cream Sauce
Kobe Prime Rib In Baby Boy Blue Sauce
Kobe Tenderloin In Huckleberry Demi Glace
Smoked Yukon Mash With Sage, Seasonal Ratatouille
Paired with 21 Gram’s “Red Blend”, Columbia Valley, WA, 2007

Sweet Ending
Warm Chocolate And Peanut Butter Pudding Cake
Peanut Tuile, Frozen Banana Nougat, Butterscotch Sauce
Paired with Charles Krug Lot XIV Zinfandel Port, Napa, CA

King Salmon and Autumn Spiced Lamb Chops, Refreshing Grapefruit, A Study in Beef, and Sweet Ending

Pork belly, parsnip puree, fois gras, Halloumi cheese in prosciutto

I particularly enjoyed the first course of the Pork Belly, parsnip puree and Halloumi cheese wrapped in Jamon Iberico Prosciutto. I previously tasted the Long Shadow’s “Poets Leap” Riesling back in Vancouver.  My tasting notes from that time were ” …pale lemon coloured in the glass.  Nice nose.  Very fragrant with flowers, citrus, orange and honeysuckle. Medium body, round, off-dry.  Flowers and citrus flavours with sweet spices showing up mid-palate. Long length…”  The smoked Kurobuta Pork Belly melted in your mouth and paired very well with the acidity in this wine.  The parsnip puree was a flavour treat. It was delicately spiced with coriander and again worked very nicely with this Riesling.

Grilled wild King Salmon, pear and chevre tart, and autumn spiced lamb chop

Another pairing I really liked was the Grilled Wild King Salmon Over Savory Apple, Pear And Chevre Tart Cinnamon and the Autumn-Spiced Lamb Chop With Huckleberry Demi. These two were paired with Sparkman Cellars “L’Autre” Pinot Noir and with the Corliss Estates “Cabernet Sauvignon”.  To me the Pinot Noir was the star of this course.  The wine had a wonderful violet aroma and flavour, with low tannins and high acidity.  The violets with the acidity in the wine to me worked well with both dishes.  Salmon and pinot noir is a classic pairing. Red wines with low tannins work well with seafood.  The sweet autumn spices, e.g. cinnamon and nutmeg, formed a crust on the lamb chops. These sweet spices meshed nicely with the violets in the pinot noir, and the acidity in the wine helped cut through the fat in lamb chops.

I also have a soft spot for duck breast, and enjoyed the Southwest Duck Breast With Hydro Bibb, Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, Gruyere, Pine Nuts, Pecorino Crisp with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette. I was worried that a Syrah could overpower this dish, but the duck breast with southwest spices plus the pine nuts and pecorino crisp, held their own.  Very satisfying.

A Sweet Ending.

If you have a sweet tooth, you would have probably really liked the Sweet Ending consisting of Warm Chocolate And Peanut Butter Pudding Cake, Peanut Tuile, Frozen Banana Nougat, and Butterscotch Sauce paired with the Charles Krug Lot XIV Zinfandel Port. The pudding cake was very delicate, the tuile crunchy and the banana nougat refreshing and fruity.  The Zinfandel port was full-bodied with ripe berries, toffee, and spicy oak flavours.  It’s hard not to like this pairing.

Surprises!

Donation to Make A Wish Foundation

Donation to Make A Wish Foundation. Image courtesy of Alan Alabastro/Alabastro Photography

I always like when events like these donate part of their proceeds to supporting a local cause.  In this case it was the local chapter of the Make A Wish Foundation. Al Tschider from the Foundation graciously accepted a cheque for $5000.  He told us that the $5000 is enough to grant a wish for one child.  He is not a professional speaker but endeared himself to the audience telling us about how one young girl was able to get a chance to go to New York City and get a chance to help backstage at not just one (her original request), but two Broadway plays.  It so happened that when they were travelling to NYC to help with one play, I believe it was the Lion King, a Broadway producer was sitting next to them, and invited the girl to also attend his play as well.  It is nice to hear stories like this of people helping people.

Singing Waiters

The Singing Waiters performance. Image courtesy of Alan Alabastro/Alabastro Photography

Part way through our meal, what appeared to be a head waiter came on stage to make a small announcement.  He had an Italian accent and as after he made the announcement, he offered to sing a bit of an aria from an Italian opera.  It was nice.  Later in the evening he sang a bit more, and then a French sounding waiter came to the stage to show him how to sing opera with passion, which lead to dueling opera singers wandering through the audience.  To add to the mix another waiter, a good ol’ boy from the USA, told them that Europeans cannot sing well, so he launched into operatic singing.  So we had a triumvirate singing together.  Of course,they knew each other,and they went on stage together to sing for us.  We were told at the end that they are part of the world-wide company called the “Singing Waiters“.  If you ever get to hear them, take the chance. You will have lots of fun.

This is only the 3rd time for the Taste of Tulalip, and it was done so professionally and with so much great food and wine, I’m not sure how they will top it for the 4th celebration next year. Enjoy!

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!

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!

MyWinePal Picks from the California Wine Fair 2011 Canadian Tour

I look forward each year for the California Wine Fair to come through Vancouver. There was almost 120 wineries in attendance this year. Too many to try and taste at one time. But I hope I have a few gems for you.

California wines are big in the USA market. From a recent Decanter article, they noted “Wines from California accounted for 61% of overall US market volumes at nearly 200m cases, up 1%, with retail value estimated at US$18.5bn.http://bit.ly/ieHzkC.  That is a staggering amount to me.

In BC, California wines are well-regarded, but maybe only known for their Napa Cabs and oaked chardonnays. But there is more to California wines than just that. Try a Pinot Noir, Syrah, or Sauvignon Blanc.

Here are a few of my California Wine Fair highlights:

Sparkling Wine

  • Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2007. This wine is made from 100% chardonnay.  It had a light nutty nose.  High acid with small bubble.  Red delicious apple and citrus flavours.

White Wine

  • Ferrari-Carano Winery Fume Blanc 2009. This is possibly my favorite wine of the fair. Fume blanc is an oaked sauvignon blanc. This wine is pale lemon in colour with a greenish tint. Lots of herbal, gooseberry and grassy aromas. Round mouthfeel with herbal and green pepper flavours. A long length. A white wine to savour.
  • Rodney Strong Vineyards Chalk Hill Chardonnay 2009. This wine is tied with the Ferrari-Carano for my favorite wine of the fair.  Pale lemon in colour with a green tinge. Vanilla and lemon aromas. Cinnamon, apple, lemon and vanilla flavours.  Have a wow moment when you sip this wine.

Red Wine

  • Alexander Valley Vineyards Redemption Zin, 2007. Medium garnet in colour with a nice raspberry nose. Very fruity and jammy. Primarily raspberry flavours, with a bit of cherry and spice. Medium tannins and is drinking nicely now.
  • Bennett Lane Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. 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. Light garnet in colour. Smoky raspberry nose. Medium body with raspberry and cassis flavours, with vanilla and spice on the finish. An elegant wine.
  • Clos du Val Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. Light garnet colour in the glass. Light nose with capsicum and cassis. Medium body with cassis and raspberry flavours. Round mouthfeel with medium tannins. Another elegant wine!
  • Eberle Winery Syrah 2008. Medium garnet. Meaty, ripe red fruit, and herbal notes on the nose. Raspberry, blueberry and vanilla flavours. Medium body with dry tannins in the background.
  • Grgich Hills Estate Zinfandel 2007.  Light garnet in colour with a light jammy nose.  Raspberry flavour with firm tannins and a medium body.  Some spice on the finish.
  • Hahn Family Wines Pinot Noir 2009.  Light garnet in colour.  Strawberry aromas on the nose.  Light body, with tea leaves and strawberry flavours.   Low tannins.
  • Mettler Family Vineyard Zinfandel 2008.  This is a relatively new winery although this family has been growing grapes for many years.  This is the 3rd vintage for this winery.  This zin was opaque purple in colour.  BBQ briquettes, woody and meaty nose.  Very round mouthfeel. Dark ripe fruit, cigar and vanilla flavours with some spice on the finish.
  • Perry Creek Vineyards Altitude:2401 Barbera 2009. Barbera is an Italian grape variety that is best known as Barbera d’Asti in the Piedmont region.  This California version was light garnet in colour.  Smoky, chocolate, and raspberry on the nose. Medium body with smoky raspberry flavours.  Low tannins.  This was one of my surprise favorites of the wine fair.
  • St. Clement Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.  Deep garnet in colour.  Light cherry / plum on the nose.  Medium body and medium tannins.  Flavours of apples, plums, cherries and vanilla.
  • Vina Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.  Nice juicy raspberry fruit nose with a hint of capsicum.  Juicy flavours of cassis and raspberries.  Some vanilla too.  Fine tannins.

That’s all for now.  Enjoy some California wine this weekend.

A Visit to Two Small WA Wineries

In an earlier post, I wrote about my experience at Chateau Ste Michelle and Airfield Estates wineries. On that same trip, but different day, I visited 2 small wineries south of Seattle: E.B. Foote and Castle Bridge wineries. Both are owned by a couple.

E.B. Foote contracts with vineyard operators in Eastern Washington for their grapes. They produce mostly red wines and primarily single varietals. I was amazed to hear that 90-95% of their sales are right from their cellar door. The winery started in 1978 by a previous owner and was bought by the current couple in 1991. This couple is now ready for retirement, so the winery is up FOR SALE! If you have US$500,000 you can buy the winery. You get their equipment, their current inventory of wine, and the use of their brand. I figure from the $500,000, that selling the inventory should bring down that cost for you, but will take a bit of time.

What about their wines? The wines are all reasonably priced at $14 a bottle. My favorite was their Cabernet Franc 2008. Medium garnet in colour. Vanilla, cedar and dark cherry aromas. It was medium plus in body. Sweet black cherries, very juicy, with cinnamon / cloves and vanilla flavours. I also enjoyed their Zinfandel 2009. This wine had the characteristic jammy fruit nose, along with some vanilla. More vanilla on the palate, along with cinnamon and raspberry flavours. It had a dry cherry finish. Medium tannins so you can drink it now. They also have two nice blends. Their Mirage 2009 from Syrah and Merlot, and their Rainy Day VI blend from Syrah and Cabernet.

The other winery that day was Castle Bridge. They have only been open for 4 years. They contract with vineyards in WA and CA. The vineyards provide them with the juice for their wines. They produce an off-dry Chenin Blanc. Their Chenin Blanc 2009 is medium lemon in colour. Wax, lemon and vanilla on the nose. Medium body with pears and citrust and oak. A hint of some spice. Medium bodied. Something easy to drink. The other wine that was quite interesting was their Barbera 2007 from the Columbia Valley. Barbera is an Italian grape, and is the third most popular red grape planted in Italy. I don’t think I’ve come across any other Barbera in WA. Deep purple in colour. Lots of aromas. Vanilla and various purple fruits. Full body with soft tannins. Juicy purple fruit and vanilla. A bit of sweetness on the palate. If you’ve come across any other wineries in WA that produce a Barbera, please let me know, as I would like to try them too.

Enjoy!

IVSA New Products Salon – Wines of Note

Today was the Import Vintners & Spirits Association (IVSA) New Product Salon tasting to the wine Trade in Vancouver, BC. It was a very full event with at least 50 tables from what I could see through the crowds. And consider that at each table, they would be pouring at least 6 different NEW wines, there was at least 300 wines to sample today! Some of the wines are wines that are already in the store, but what is new is the vintage, e.g. a 2008 sauvignon blanc coming out.

I always enjoy attending the IVSA, in part to meet other Trade people, I tweet with, but also to find new and interesting wines. So for the rest of this week’s blog, I’d like to list a few white and red wines that I enjoyed. The wines come from all different price ranges.

Some nice whites:
Rudolf Muller Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett 2008 (Germany). This riesling had a light lime nose. Medium sweet but good acidity to balance it and a red apple flavour. $16.99
Sacred Hill Pinot Gris 2008 (Marlborough – New Zealand). Light lemon in colour, with lychee and pear aromas. Round mouthfeel. Off dry with lychee and apple flavours $19.99 (spec)
Mount Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Marlborough – New Zealand). I was told that this winery is a joint venture with Antinori from Italy. The wine had a light herbal nose. Halepeno pepper and herbal flavours. Medium acidity. Restrained. Quite nice. $28.99 (spec)
Torresella Pinot Grigio Veneto IGT (Italy). This pinot grigio had light peach, apricot and mineral aromas. Light effervescense. Apricot and apple flavours. $14.99 (spec)
Miner Family Vineyards “Napa Valley” Chardonnay 2007 (California). Vanilla and pineapple on the nose. Toasty oak, pineapple and spice on the palate. Round mouthfeel. $39.95 (spec)

Some nice reds:
Ata Rangi ‘Crimson’ Pinot Noir 2008 (Waiparapa – New Zealand). Light cherry colour. Raspberry aroma. Red cherry and raspberry flavours. Soft tannins. Very elegant. $27.99 (spec)
Louis Latour Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir (Burgundy – France). Light cherry and vanilla on the nose. Cherry flavour builds in your mouth with a bit of aeration. Also some flowers and apple flavours. $21.99 (spec)
Belle Gios Meiomi 2007 (California). This one is a pinot noir. Light garnet in colour. Light red currant and chocolate aromas. Nice cherry, raspberry and vanilla flavours, and balanced tannins. $33.99 (spec)
Row Eleven Santa Maria Pinot Noir 2005 (California). Medium garnet colour. Cherry and smoke on the nose. Cherry, vanilla and raspberry flavours. Dry tannins with a long finish. A premium wine! $46.99
Kenwood Vineyards Yulupa Old Vine Zinfandel 2007 (California). Medium garnet in colour. Nice raspberry jammy nose. Lots of raspberry fruit flavour. Medium tannins. A deal. $19.49
Kenwood Vineyards Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California). Deep purple in the glass. Capsicum and cherry aromas. Tar and cherry on the palate, with firm tannins. $34.99
Farnese Vini Primitivo Puglia 2007 (Italy). Primitivo and Zinfandel are the same grape variety, if you didn’t know. This one had nice reddish purple colour in the glass. Light violet and red fruit on the nose. Full ripe red fruit flavours, with soft-medium tannins. Easy to drink and an exceptional price. $9.99 (spec)

An unexpected red wine was the L.A. Cetto Private Reserve Nebbiolo 2003 from the Baja part of California in Mexico! I never knew the Nebbiolo was grown in Mexico. This one had delicious ripe berry flavours, ripe but restrained, and firm tannins, but not to the extent that you would get from an Italian Nebbiolo. Drinkable right now. Sorry I didn’t get the price but I believe it is in the $20 range.

Enjoy!