Archive for the 'Cabernet Franc' Category

2010 Laughing Stock Vineyards “In the Pink” Rosé

It’s getting to be the time of year that I find myself sitting at my desk wishing I was on a warm and sunny patio with a dish of mixed olives, some cheese and a glass of dry rosé. From what I’m seeing in the stores, more and more of BC’s winemakers seem to be having the same thoughts. I’ve only tried a few, but some of them, such as the folks at Laughing Stock Vineyards, are getting it right.

Laugh Stock’s “In the Pink” is a project done in partnership with The Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver. Their YEW restaurant + bar’s sales manager and sommelier, Emily Patterson recently helped select the blend with Laughing Stock’s winemaker, David Enns. The wine, which is a blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Franc will be sold exclusively at YEW for $22 for a bottle and $2 of each sale will go to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Only 75 cases were produced.

On May 26th, 2011 YEW restaurant + bar will also host the Laughing with YEW Wine Dinner. You can check out all the details on their site. It sounds like it will be a great time.

OK, so now that you know all that, you may be wondering if the wine is any good. It is. In the glass, the wine has a pretty pink salmon hue. A sniff filled my nose with strawberry, cranberry and citrus fruit. A sip gave me more of that gorgeous cranberry and strawberry fruit  with a crisp finish that lasts for a minute.

Well done folks. This is a very nice bottle of wine. Now I just need some sun, a patio and those olives to go along with it.

* Disclaimer – I received this wine as a sample.

$22 exclusively at YEW restaurant + bar.

3 1/2 stars

3 comments

Tasting – Marquis Wine Cellars presents Buty Winery at C Restaurant

First things first… I’d like to thank John Clerides and the staff at Marquis Wine Cellars for putting on this great tasting. The food and wine pairings at C Restaurant made my day.

From the left, that’s Graham, Caleb (the winemaker and co-proprietor at Buty), John and me (sporting a bit of a winter beard).

Last summer, when Graham and I were down in Walla Walla for the Wine Bloggers’ Conference, we ran into John and as I’ve already written, he said, “Do you guys want to taste something great? Come with me.” We headed out to Walla Walla’s airport wine area and made our way into Buty Winery’s tasting room. What we tasted were some of the highlights of the weekend.

So, when John decided to bring some of the Buty wines into his shop I was pretty stoked. I’ve grabbed a few bottles of the Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and  Muscadelle blend over the last month or so.

I’ll run through what was being poured, with a bit of a review of each wine. So, let’s go. Here’s they are:

  • 2009 Beast Sphinx Semillon
    This was the surprise of the tasting for me. It was a medium-bodied mouthful of honeyed lemon and mineral. So tasty. (4 stars – $24.99)
  • 2009 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Muscadelle
    Personally, I love this wine. It has a crisp acidity that makes it a great food pairing wine along with beautiful melon, noney, citrus and stone flavours. What’s not to love? (4-4.5 stars – $31.99)
  • 2009 Conner Lee Vineyard Chardonnay
    Wow. This was another surprise for me – and was a perfect pairing for the delicious C Restaurant-prepared lobster. It had a really nice citrus-edged crispness with nice tropical and stone minerals on the finish. More Chablis than slutty Chardonnay. Very nice. (4-4.5 – $45.99)
  • 2008 Beast Wildebeest Red Wine
    This blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Syrah and 10% Malbec adds up to a really tasty deep cherry, berry fruit-driven wine with a pepper-edged mineral finish. Nice. (3.5-4 stars – $32.99)
  • 2009 Merlot & Cabernet Franc
    Well now… another surprise. I really liked this. It had wonderful dark fruit and a flintiness on the finish that I find really appealing, especially on elegant Washington State reds. (4.5 stars – $48.99)
  • 2008 Columbia Redviva
    Wow. This is the winner. This blend of 52% Syrah and 48% Cabernet Sauvignon was definitely the standout of the tasting for me. In a word, this wine is elegant. It has a tonne of dark red fruit, but not in an over-ripe sort of way. The berry fruit is almost perfect. So good! (4.5 – $59.99)
  • 2009 Redviva of the Stones
    This wine is a blend of 79% Syrah and 21% Cabernet Sauvignon. To me, this one needed a bit of time. It was pretty closed up. I’m thinking in a year or so its dark fruit and minerality will be more in balance. (4-4.5 stars – $59.99)

It was great to see Caleb again. I always love seeing talented folks who are passionate about what they’re doing. All wines are of course available for purchase or order from Marquis Wine Cellars. Head on over to their site for the contact information.

The folks at C Restaurant deserve a special mention for the fabulous food. Everything was delicious and reminded me that I should head there soon for my seafood fix. Amazing stuff.

2 comments

A visit to Hester Creek Estate Winery

A couple of weeks ago, I received a pretty tempting invite – to fly with a few other writers up to the Okanagan Valley for the day to visit, tour and taste at Oliver’s Hester Creek Estate Winery. It’s not often that offers like that come along, so I jumped at the chance. I thought it would be great to check out the new winery they had built and to taste the wines they’ve been turning out.

Hester Creek has an interesting story. The winery’s 75 acres is located on the Golden Mile near Oliver, where hot days and cool nights present almost perfect growing conditions for grapes. It was Joe Busnardo, an Italian immigrant who first planted grapes on the site 1968. Oddly enough, he chose Trebbiano as the first varietal to go into the ground – and some of those original plantings are still around in the winery’s vineyard. They’re thick and gnarled, but turn out a surprisingly tasty wine (more on that in a bit). Joe sold the winery in 1996 and relocated the Divino Estate Winery to the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island.

From 1996 to 2002, the winery was owned by a local group, headed by winemaker Frank Supernak. They renamed the winery after a creek flowing on the border of the winery’s land. The vineyards had been left in pretty rough shape, but the group did its best over the next 6 years to make a go of it. Unfortunately, they ran out of money and the winery ended up in receivership. Quite the tale for such a good piece of land.

To make a relatively long story a bit shorter, in 2004 the winery was acquired while in receivership by BC businessman, Curt Garland – and the turnaround began. Mr. Garland set about making the winery live up to its potential. He hired wine-maker Rob Summers in 2006, planted new vines in the vineyards, replaced old overhead systems with drip irrigation, constructed a new winery building and tasting room and really rounded out the project by building B&B style villas on the hill overlooking the winery and vineyards. The place is pretty state-of-the-art… and beautiful.

A lot of our visit was spent in winery’s main building. Here’s a summary of what we did:

  • We ate a beautiful Vegetable Pave (paired with the 2008 Pinot Gris), crafted by Chef Roger Planiden in their modern demonstration kitchen. This was built to hold cooking classes and small events at the winery.
    • 2008 Pinot Gris ($16.99) – very nice with a light minerality to the crisp citrus and peach flavours. It paired very well with the Pave. 3.5 stars
  • We then moved to their dining room, where we had an incredibly tasty meal of prosciutto-wrapped chicken in a blackberry reduction.
    • 2008 Cabernet/Merlot Blend ($15.99) -velvety cherry and berry flavours made this a surprisingly good pairing with the meal. 3.5 stars
  • Dessert was a delicious Chocolate Crème Brûlée with berries.
    • 2006 Reserve Merlot ($25.99) – very herbal, with nice ripe cherry/berry and coffee flavours. Silky tannins finish things off. 4 stars

After a tour of the winery’s inner workings, we ended up in the upstairs Board Room, where we tasted through much of the current Hester Creek line-up:

  • 2008 Trebbiano ($18.99) – this really surprised me. I didn’t expect to like it, but I did. A lot. It’s the perfect light summer aperitif wine that has enough zippy citrus acidity to stand up to olives and other light fare. I’ve since bought a bottle to enjoy at home. 4 stars
  • 2008 Pinot Blanc ($15.99) – another solid white. This food-friendly PB has really nice acidity to its peach, melon and apple flavours. 3.5 – 4 stars
  • 2008 Semillon/Chardonnay ($15.99) – this 50/50 blend offers up better than expected flavours of grapefruit, melon, apple and honey. It had a nice long mineral-edged finish. 3.5 stars
  • 2008 Merlot ($16.99) – soft tannins edged the ripe red cherry/berry fruit. 3.5 stars
  • 2006 Reserve Merlot ($25.99) – see the notes above…
  • 2006 Reserve Cabernet Franc ($25.99) – this proved to be my favourite of the reds we tasted. The nose had an herbal edge to the coffee, leather and dark cherry aromas. A sip showed ripe cherry, earth, dark chocolate and firm tannins to the herbal finish. I’ve since had another chance to taste it and liked it both times. 4 stars
  • We also had the chance to taste the 2008 vintage of what the folks at the winery refer to as “Italian Merlot“. They currently use it for blending, but we tasted a sample of it for interest’s sake. I really liked it. I thought it was Dolcetto-like in its earthy and herbal ripe red berry nose and in its flavours which gave me ripe and earthy red berry fruit with a long and mineral and pepper-edged finish. 4 stars

After the more formal tasting in the Board Room, a few of us were joined by wine-maker, Rob Summers at the counter in the tasting room. He started opening bottles (and boxes) for us to try. He’s an enthusiastic guy – and that rubs off. He wanted to share with us what he had been up to at the winery. It was cool to taste the difference between the 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, made by wine-making consultant Eric von Krosigk and the 2006, made by Rob. The 2005 was extremely vegetal. The 2006 had a much fruitier edge. Having said that, they’ll no longer be making a single-varietal Cabernet Sauvignon. Instead, those grapes will be used for blending.

All in all, I was quite impressed. It had been years since I had tried a wine from Hester Creek – and there was a reason for that. I hadn’t liked the wine that had come from there. Not so any more. With the new facilities and plantings, it’s now up to the wine-making team to run with it and show what they can do. Fortunately, from what I tasted, they’re well on their way.

If what they’re trying to do is position themselves as a value winery with approachable wines for the everyday consumer, I’d have to say that they’re hitting the mark. The wines are not necessarily ones that you would choose to sit in your cellar, but they are very affordable and approachable wines to drink today.

They definitely sit on some good land and from what I heard last Wednesday, could be aiming at the higher market some time in the near future with a smaller production Reserve wine… and let’s hope that wine-maker Rob Summers makes that happen. It would be fun to see what they could do with the resources they have.

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2008 Bodegas Renacer Punto Final Malbec

10082009It’s been a while since I’d had a Malbec. My barbeque choices have centered on Cabs, Zins and the like. I picked this one up a while back – the value of Argentinean reds being pretty good and at about $6 off, worth a go.

I had a nice peppercorn steak grilling, so I popped this open and gave it a swirl. Right off the first sniff, it was not what I was expecting. 98% Malbec with 2% Cab Franc, it has some of the earthy Malbec I knew, but some nice tar and black cherry, maybe even a bit cranberry as well. A couple of sips brought some nice meaty cherry, and earthy mineral but also a bit of heat and anise for good measure. The steak really balanced this off, and the pairing really worked for me.

The finish was nice, medium length with some more mineral and pretty tight tannins. I would definitely decant this one next time for that and the unfiltered aspect. It definitely got me thinking it’s time for a few more Malbecs. I’d buy it again – a good value at its regular price – a great deal at $15.99.

$15.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

2 comments

2005 Osoyoos Larose Pétales d’Osoyoos

12222008One thing I may be guilty of is not drinking enough of British Columbia’s red wines. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with them, but here in my home province, we’ve got a bunch of newer wineries charging very established prices for some unproven wines. I really have liked a few of them over the years. Recent ones that stand out in my memory are Township 7’s Syrah, Inniskillin’s Zinfandel and even the verging-on-ridiculously-priced Black Hills Note Bené (one of the only wineries to charge me for a tasting in the last bunch of years) was tasty.

One wine that I’ve seen around, but had stayed away from because of its higher price has been the Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin. So, when I came upon its little brother, I thought I’d give it a go. I have had this wine once before, but it was one of those nights that involve multiple bottles and I didn’t take notes. I thought I’d change that.

Osoyoos Larose is a joint venture between Vincor and a big Bordeaux wine company, Groupe Taillan, whose major French property is Château Gruaud Larose.

The wine is offered up at the very reasonable price of $25 here in BC… and after tasting it, I have to say that it’s one of the better buys in an under-$30 Bordeaux-varietal red wine. The nose is a crush of red currant, vanilla and bell pepper. The flavours show dark cherry, currants, vanilla and a bit of dark chocolate on the medium-long finish. Not bad for the moolah, folks.

The true test is whether I’d buy it again. Would I? Yes, I would… and you should too. It’s tasty and well-priced.

$25 here in BC at LDB stores.

3 1/2 stars
(verging on 4)

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