Archive for the 'BC Wine' Category

Osake Granville Island Junmai Nama Nigori, Craft Sake

Well, this is the first Sake write-up for my site. For me – like many of you – Sake brought to mind warm and fume-y concoctions served from pretty containers in sushi restaurants… That is, until recently.

Earlier this year, a corner of the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival changed all that. I tasted some beautiful variations of Japanese rice wine, including a few from the artisan Sake makers based right here in Vancouver, Osake.

After trying their wines at the festival, I resolved to making a trip to their studio to try more of them… and I hadn’t until last weekend. We were out doing the tourists-in-our-own-town thing – having a wander around Granville Island – when I remembered that the Sake studio was located in Railspur Alley. You know what happened next – we went, we tasted… and I grabbed a couple of bottles to take home. It won’t be the last time.

In their words, “Osake is the first ‘fresh premium’ Junmai Sake [Namazake] of its kind produced in Canada.” I’m glad they’re here in town. 🙂

They have three Sakes: the fresh and brightly flavoured Junmai Nama, the cloudy and fruity Junmai Nama Nigori and the full and round Junmai Nama Genshu. Tonight, I popped the Junmai Nama Nigori open to have with some sushi.

This is a pretty cool drop. It’s unfiltered and has a cloudy sediment that mixes into the wine with a little movement. In the glass it looks like watered-down skim milk. A sniff brings up lychee nut and sweet rice. A sip gives up a medium-bodied bunch of that juicy lychee along with honeydew melon and a bit of tannin and booze on the finish (it clocks in at 14%).

It went pretty bloody well with some wasabi-laden sushi tonight and I can also see it going really well with some spicier Asian dishes. It’s really tasty stuff.

I won’t pretend to be anything of a Sake expert… Hell, I’m just getting into the stuff, but this isn’t a bad place to start. Go try some, especially from a quality maker. You’ll be glad you did.

~$30 at Osake on Granville Island.

3 1/2 stars


2006 Golden Mile Cellars Chardonnay, Luckhurst Family Vineyards

OK, so I went up to the Okanagan the weekend before last with the intention of writing up the trip… and I will. I’ve just been so damned busy that I haven’t gotten around to it. What I have done is drink some of the wine I brought back, especially some of the case I picked up at Wild Goose.

Tonight I’m sipping a 2006 Chardonnay from Golden Mile Cellars, which is located between Oliver and Osoyoos… and you know what? This is tasty stuff.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I love the New World slutty Chardonnays… all tropical pineapple and citrus fruit with almond and caramel on both the nose and the flavours. Well, this is the best example of that type of Chardonnay I’ve tasted from BC to this point… and at $19.99. It’s tasty. I really like it.

I had this tonight with some grilled salmon and it went swimmingly (swimmingly… get it? cheesy). Seriously though folks… I’ll be here all week. Drive safe, try the salmon and buy this wine if you can find it

$19.99 at the winery.

4 stars

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2006 Wild Goose Pinot Blanc, Mystic River Vineyard

One of the grand frustrations I find of late in BC is that many of the local wines are reaching to astronomical levels in pricing. I realize that “charge what the traffic will bear” is an old business adage, however the quality-value ratio must be upheld in the competitive world of wine.

Fortunately a winery like Wild Goose, making some of the best white wines in the province, let alone Canada, has not followed the over-pricing trend. I have always enjoyed their tasty wines along with their personable, family approach to their customers.

This Pinot Blanc is exactly what I love about their wines – crisp, with prominent fruit and a nice acidity to finish. The nose on this is honeydew melon with a bit of kiwi hiding in there. A few swishes produce some nice tart pear and more melon with nice tart green apple acidity on the finish – just plain tasty on a warm summer’s eve.

This is a great bottle of local white, something you can say about pretty much anything produced by Wild Goose.

$17.99 at the winery (and some VQA stores) here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

1 comment

Wine – 2005 Lake Breeze Vineyards Semillon, Okanagan Valley

06242007.jpgRecently we tried the La Frenz Semillon and that got me thinking about BC Semillon (an odd train of thought since I generally dislike BC wines–honestly) and as I was perusing the wine list at Bouchons Bistro in Kelowna I was hoping to find this wine to share with my friends. I noticed they had the La Frenz Viognier, but I asked Richard if he had any Semillon stashed away. He suggested I try the Lake Breeze Semillon. He had me sold when he mentioned it was a BC Semillon done in a French style. That sounded interesting.

This citrus-filled Semillon had just enough acidity to stand up to both my soupe aux poissons and the duck confit (both excellent). The Lake Breeze Semillon has less lush fruit compared to the La Frenz variation on this Semillon theme. I would love to see the soil these vines are grown in because there was certainly a mineral element to this wine that reminded me of France. I could not wait to get home and have Sean try a bottle. I searched high and low in Kelowna for one but ended up finding some at Liberty at Granville Island ($21.99 but sells for $17.99 from the winery–enough said!).

This evening we were craving tuna and this seemed like just the right wine. After scavenging at the market, we came home with two beautiful tuna steaks, which we seared with a lime and chili crust and served over fettucini drizzled with Amelia Oil. The crisp clean flavours of the Lake Breeze Semillon were a good pairing for the fresh citrus and spicy edge of this tuna dish. It was one of the meals where wine and food came together to give us big silly grins.

Slowly, slowly I am coming around to BC wines, but I realise you really have to know what to choose because it is a dangeous jungle out there. I was about to give up after a recent disastrous tour of Mission Hill, but it is good to know there are people like the folks at Bouchons that have their fingers on the heart beat of the Okanagan.

$18-22 here in BC (depending on where you find it).

3 1/2 stars

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Wine – 2006 La Frenz Semillon, Naramata Bench

06142007.jpgMy good friend (and regular contributor here) Graham’s parents recently made a trip up to BC’s Okanagan and were great enough to bring me back a case of some of BC’s best wines. I’ll be reviewing everything I bought… so first up is the 2006 La Frenz Semillon.

This isn’t a grape many folks think of when they’re out buying a bottle, but you know what? When the weather gets warm, there are some bloody tasty ones out there… and it goes really well with lighter foods such as sushi and salads. I’ve been a fan of this and the Semillon from Township 7 for a few years now. They both make great Summer sippers.

I’ll spell this wine out for ya’. It’s light in colour, has a full-on citrus and kiwi nose and is a bloody tasty mouthful of zingy citrus and gooseberry fruit. Yummy stuff as the days get warmer. I’d completely recommend picking up a bottle if you can find it.

$18 here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

1 comment

Wine – 2006 Township 7 Viognier

05022007.jpgAs Sean previously stated, during our visit to T7, we made it through the circuit of their wines, with some of highlights including their consistently tasty Semillon, a cool, spicy Gerwurztramainer and a Syrah with great ripe fruit and beefy tannins (potential for days!) and of course, the Viognier

The Viognier is new for this year with only 55 cases produced. This wine has tropical fruit in all its characteristics. The nose has this really interesting pineapple and almost a hint of coconut which is joined by some peach and apricot in the mouth. The finish is more coconut with some hints of banana. The finish has no real acidity, just a nice soft smooth finish. A tropical day in a glass.

Needless to say we continue to be fans of T7’s portfolio. Thanks Guys!

$19 at the winery

3 1/2 stars

No comments

Wine – Township 7’s 2007 Spring release party

The Saturday before I headed off to Washington & Oregon (April 15th), I headed out to Graham’s place in Langley and we drove to Township 7’s winery for their 2007 Spring release party. The place was packed. It was great to see local folks out supporting a local winery. It’s doubly good because not only is it a local winery, but one that is making some bloody tasty wine.

One of the first faces we saw there was that of Brad Cooper, Township 7’s winemaker. We’ve emailed back and forth a few times, but I hadn’t met him before. What a great guy. He filled us in on what was happening with the new wines and took us through what was being poured. He also introduced us to the winery’s owner, Mike Raffan.

They’re both passionate and optimistic about the direction in which the winery is headed. They’re all about quality and improving the wines with each vintage. More importantly, it just looks like they love what they do. That’s awesome to see.

One thing that was great to see was that they were using a review I had written about the Seven Stars Sparkling wine as the wine’s “shelf talker” – pretty cool. 🙂

While I was there, I picked up a bottle of their new Gewurztraminer, a bottle of their Viognier (also new), 2 bottles of the Semillon (one of my faves), a bottle of the Seven Stars sparkler (great wine) and a bottle of their Syrah (great, ripe dark fruit). I like what they’re doing.

Their wines are available in Vancouver at Taylorwood Wines, Kitsilano Wine Cellars and a few other private shops. If you see them, give a bottle (or a few) a try.

1 comment

Wine – 2005 Golden Mile Cellars Road 13 White

Well, it’s been a little while since I’ve tasted a BC wine, especially a white… so, tonight I wandered into Taylorwood Wines to see what they had going on and this is one of the wines I grabbed.

It looked a bit like a Heinz 57 of mixes: 73% Ehrenfelser, 17% Chardonnay, 7% Muscat and 3% Viognier. All this sounds bloody tasty to me except for the Ehrenfelser – for some reason, mostly because of my younger days drinking BC whites and having some bloody bad Ehrenfelsers.

You know what though? This wine is actually pretty tasty. Think of it as a BC version of California’s “Conundrum“. It’s got a refreshing nose of lemon, peach and “minerally” stone. The flavours are all appealing honey-citrus, peach and mineral… like licking peach jam off a mineral water rinsed stone. It was tasty and light with a nice medium-length finish.

All in all, it was really quite good.

$16.90 at Taylorwood Wines.

3 1/2 stars
(verging on 4)

1 comment

Wine – OK British Columbia, get your hand out of the cookie jar / wine barrel

OK, so I’m a little opinionated at the best of times… however, this just makes me crazy. Basically, it centres around the taxes on wine in the province of British Columbia. While we were down in San Francisco at ZAP, we talked with a number of winemakers about the availability of their wines in BC. Many of them laughed and said things like “120% duty – why should I bother?” or “when they threatened to raise tariffs in the whole softwood fight, we thought what, to 140%?” This was a little disconcerting to say the least.

Last week the local news ran a couple of stories on the local wine industry and the taxes.
A comparison of provincial taxes was outlined, and the results were rather shocking to say the least. The average tax on an imported wine in BC is 117%!! This makes a $10 bottle of US wine hit the shelves at $26 here. This is simply tragic.

My understanding is that the taxes were originally brought in to help protect the BC wine industry. Well, with now 131 wineries in BC and annual sales apparently over 133 million dollars, perhaps they don’t need protection from the big bad import wines.

Let’s be honest, this is pretty much a cash grab now. When wines produced in this province are $2 cheaper per bottle in Alberta, we are being fleeced even when supporting the local industry. Even the center of the universe, Toronto, only faces 70% for a mark-up.

With the wine industry growing and more wine drinkers emerging in the 25-40 age group it’s time to hook people on the good stuff and not push people to the home brew route out of desperation. Friends don’t let friends do homebrew no matter what the news story said.

My answers? Ask your local MP what the deal is with the wine taxes. Maximize your two-bottle limit when you cross the line, and if you’re going to Alberta, let your wine friends know and take orders, they only tax approximately $5 per bottle.


Wine – 2005 Stag’s Hollow Sauvignon Blanc

01032007.jpgThis is one of those British Columbia wines that you do and don’t want to talk about. You do because they are making some superb wines. You don’t because of the limited production that makes them a little scarce and highly sought after.

Stag’s Hollow has long been one of my favorite BC wineries. Located in Okanagan Falls, it’s a great visit as you can hit Wild Goose on the same parking spot. Larry and Linda, the owners of Stag’s Hollow are always warm and welcoming and a visit gives a chance to taste some excellent wine with great company.

This Sauvignon Blanc has the lovely fruit forward style that New Zealand’s Marborough region has made famous. That being said, it is a distinct wine that certainly has its own character. The nose is full of passionfruit, grapefruit and a hint of grass. A swirl opens up the passionfruit that continues well into the first sip, with a bit of lemon for good measure. The finish has tart gooseberries with a hint of honey. Just lovely fruit – plain and simple.

This is a wine that makes me look toward spring and the next release. This is great with a nice stir-fry or some mild cheese.

$17.99 at the winery (this vintage is sold out)

4 stars

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