Archive for the 'BC Wine' Category

Wine – 2003 Township 7 Cellars Seven Stars Sparkling Wine

02202007.jpgWhat can I say?.. When I picked up this bottle of wine, I really didn’t know what to expect. I know Bradley Cooper, winemaker for Township 7 is a fan of sparkling wine and that this wine has started to pick up something of a cult following among local wine lovers, but BC bubbly has been a bit of a hit-and-miss undertaking for me in recent years.

I picked this up last week and took it out to Graham’s house in the ‘burbs to share with him and his lovely wife, Leah. It’s 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, and the minute we poured it we knew it was something different in terms of BC sparklers. It had beautifully intense straw yellow colour with loads of lively bubbles.

Well, my fears of another so-so bottle of BC bubbly were quickly dispelled with my first glass of this wine. I stuck my nose into the glass and was met with aromas of toasted almonds laced with honey. It had a yummy buttery feel in the mouth, with crisp citrus and round fruit flavours. The finish was all honey and citrus and that certain je ne sais quoi which makes bubbly so much fun. Put simply, this is a really good bottle of sparkling wine.

Graham thought it was as good if not better than the Gloria Ferrer he reviewed a while back (which the Spectator gave 90). We both thought it had the lush feel of a French Champagne, rather than the crisp acidity of a BC sparkler. It’s just better. In a blind tasting, we agreed that it would difficult to pin this as a bottle of BC bubbly.

Kudos to Bradley and T7 for their work on this one.

$29.95 in wine shops around town (if you can find it before it’s gone)

4 stars
(edging towards 4.5)


Wine – Job at a winery

Hey folks. Bradley Cooper, winemaker for Township 7, is looking for somebody green to work at the Township 7’s Okanagan winery this spring. And by green he means newbie, not a jolly green giant wannabe. See his blog for details.

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Wine – 2004 See Ya Later Ranch Pinot Noir

It’s called a Pinot Noir, but it has roughly 15% Lemberger in it, and you know what? Although I like the wine, it would fool me in a brown-bag tasting. I wouldn’t pick this as a Pinot Noir… and really, is that such a good thing? It actually reminded me of the Frescobaldi Nipozzanno in flavour, rather than the many Pinots I’ve had recently.

Pinot Noirs, if made well, are stunning wines. I’m thinking that the winemaker at See Ya Later Ranch is put in a position where the Pinot grapes themselves weren’t providing what he wanted and the Lemberger is used to add some pepper-sprinkled depth of flavour oomph.

Having said that, I must say again that I did like this wine. It may not taste like a true Pinot, but it has nice pepper-sprinkled juicy ripe cherry flavours and good tannins to make it all stand up. Sip after sip make me want another. It’s a good wine, just not a characteristic Pinot Noir.

Try it for yourself. ‘Nuff said.

$19.99 in wine shops here in BC.

4 stars

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Wine – 2004 Inniskillin Bear Cub Vineyard Zinfandel

Who would have thought that Zinfandel would be a grape that would do well here in BC. I guess global warming has to have a positive effect or 2, and our increasingly great summers are kind to the grapes in the Okanagan.

I first tried this wine with the 2003 vintage, which I liked… and in my opinion, this one is even better. For the money ($29 here in BC), this wine stands right up to California Zins in the same price range. It has lots of ripe dark berry fruit with some pomegranate and the briary edge I love in Zinfandel. All this is backed up by firm tannins to give it a healthy backbone.

There were only 878 cases made, so if you find it, count yourself lucky and try a bottle. Tasty stuff.

4 stars

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Wine – Roundup of the last couple of weeks

I’ve been bad at updating the blog the last couple of weeks… It’s been a combination of far too much work and a much-needed long weekend out of town. I’ll lump most of the blame on the work. Damn bills that need paying (and wine that needs buying)!

OK, so I’m going to catch things up with a less detailed review of each of the wines of note over the last bit, the first few of which were enjoyed up at Whistler. Here goes:

09142006.jpg2004 D’Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier – This was inky-purple-black in colour and, after roughly 1/2 hour of air, full of juicy, succulent fruit. It’s a blend of red shiraz and white viognier grapes. In D’Arenberg’s own words, “The Viognier adds fragrance and the perfume of flowers, nectarines, ginger and herbs, serving to enhance the very ripe spectrum of the Shiraz, namely blackberry, blueberry and boysenberry. ‘Nuff said. It was really good.

$30 CDN
4 stars

09142006a.jpg2001 Allegrini Palazzo delle Torre – This is a gorgeous wine… it really has a lot of what I love in Italian wine wrapped up in its silky tannins and fruit. It’s a blend of 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella and 5% Sangiovese made in a ripasso style. tasty, tasty stuff. If you get the chance to try it (with enough breathing time), jump all over it.

$35 CDN
4 1/2 stars

09142006b.jpg2002 Masi Grandarella – This is a “Super Venetian” made in the ripasso style from semi-dried Refosco and Carmenère. It takes a while to open up, but once it does it’s got a sexy raisin edge to the dark fruit. I’ve had other vintages of this wine that were better, but this is still a heck of a good wine.

$28 CDN
4 stars

09142006c.jpg2004 Ridge California Sonoma County Three Valleys – Two things I love in the wine world: good Zinfandels and Ridge wines. This is both those things. I’ve had and reviewed this wine previously (the 2003 vintage). It’s a blend of 68% zinfandel, 11% carignane, 10% syrah, 7% petite sirah, 4% grenache and is tasty-asty. It has lush raspberry, blackberry and black cherry fruit with a touch of bramble on the edge. Yum.

$34.65 CDN
4 stars

09142006d.jpg2004 Kenwood Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – I’ve been on a bit of a Pinot Noir kick lately… I guess I’m transitioning my taste buds from the whites of summer to the big reds I sip most of the rest of the year. I picked this up last week on a whim. I really didn’t expect much and it pleasantly surprised me. It’s far from complex, but it is tasty. It’s definitely more of a “sip it and enjoy the fruit” kinda’ Pinot. It’s all juicy strawberry and cherry with an edge of Pinot earthiness. Another good wine.

$25 CDN
4 stars

09142006e.jpg2004 Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Noir – This was another Pinot Noir I had recently. I picked it up because of that Pinot craving I’ve been having as well as the fact that I should really try to drink more BC wines. At first I was disappointed, but once it opened up, it showed a nice medium body and soft fruit. This is slightly more Burgundy-styled than the Kenwood and would pair well with food, though I had it paired with a nice Reidel glass. 🙂

$22 CDN
4 stars

2003 Paiara Puglia Rosso – This was definitely the value find of the month! I had drunk many bottles of their rosé over the summer, so after my friend, Graham had tried this and said how good it was, I had to give it a go. I mean, how can you go wrong with $11?? This is a great wine for the money. It’s a blend of Negramaro and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. It’s got structure and a tonne of fruit backed up by smooth, but firm tannins. Just really good for $11! Get some.

One note on this wine: I picked up 2 bottles and noticed that the first I tried was kind of flabby – like the wine had been slightly cooked in storage or shipping. It was still OK, but the 2nd bottle showed what this was all about. It had the tannin and structure that made me really take notice. I’m just mentioning this in case you pick one up and run into what I did with the first bottle. Give it another go – c’mon, it’s only $11!

$10.99 CDN
4 stars

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Wine – 2005 La Frenz Wines

La Frenz WineryMy all-around-good-guy friend Graham recently arranged with his all-around-good-guy Dad, Dan to pick me up some wine from Naramata BC’s La Frenz Winery. I was lucky enough that Dan was able to get me 8 bottles of the good stuff: 3 bottles of the 2005 Viognier, 3 bottles of the 2005 Semillon and 1 bottle each of the 2005 Chardonnay and Alexandria (a really tasty blend of late-picked muscat varieties).

I’ve been saving the Chardonnay and Alexandria (c’mon, just 1 bottle each – though I think I’ll be taking them to Whistler this long weekend), but have been loving both the Viognier and Semillon.

The Viognier is extremely fruity, due to its full ripening and the fact that the winemaker, Jeff Martin stops the fermentation before all the residual sugar is turned into alcohol. This leaves an edge of semi-sweetness and the full-on fruit flavour I’ve come to love in this wine. It’s a load of gorgeous apricot fruit with an effervescent edge. This is a serious companion to some Thai food right here. Mind you, it’s bloody good on its own.

The Semillon is equally as tasty. It’s actually a blend of Semillon and some Sauvignon Blanc to heighten the flavours. You can tell that Jeff spent some time making wines in New Zealand because this wine has the same fruit-forward style as many of the good NZ Sauvignons… with a peppery-lemony edge. It’s gorgeous with food and one bottle I opened was just as tasty the next evening, which shows some good structure and quality. Yum.

I can only speak for these 2 wines so far, but if you can get your hands on a bottle or 2 of La Frenz’s wines, give them a try. You’ll be giddy that you did.

4 stars

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Wine – 2005 Wild Goose Mystic River Gewurztraminer

Wild Goose VineyardsHoly crap. I have a new favourite BC Gewurztraminer. The 2004 was Canada’s white wine of the year, so I figured it was worth a try. I bought it at Taylorwood Wines the other day and when I took my first sip it grabbed my taste buds and knocked them around the room.

This wine has a slightly dry finish with Intense (yes, I meant to use the capital “I”) spice, lots of rose petal, lychee and even a hint of white pepper. This wine would be a little slice of heaven here on earth matched with some green Thai curry… or hell, a warm night and some good company.

Now to me, one of the signs of a good wine is how long the finish lasts… and this one sticks around for a while. It was right there leading into the next sip. This is good stuff.


~$18.95 here in BC.

4 stars

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Wine – 2003 Inniskillin Bear Cub Vineyard Zinfandel

2003 Inniskillin Bear Cub Vineyards ZinfandelI proclaim to be something of a Zinfandel junkie. It was the first red wine variety I fell in love with and the love affair has lasted for years and years. During that time I’ve rarely found a Zin from outside of California, where it has become the de facto State grape.

Tonight I wandered into the main liquor store here in Vancouver and lo-and-behold there was actually a Zin from our fair Province – the Inniskillin Bear Cub Vineyards Zinfandel. I had heard about this wine, but hadn’t been able to find it anywhere. I was a bit disappointed to find that it was $30 (CDN), but had to give it a try.

Well, now you’re wondering how the wine is? In a word (or 2), it’s actually bloody good. It really compares favourably with a few California Zins I’ve recently had in this price range. It carries a bit of heat (having 14% booze), but backs it up with full, ripe dark berry and cherry fruit and a good tannic backbone.

2003 was a very warm summer here in BC and obviously the grapes had time to ripen. There are none of the unripe flavours I had anticipated on opening this wine. A pleasant surpise indeed.

4 stars

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Wine – 2004 Township 7 Semillon

2004 Township 7 SemillonI just opened this tonight, I picked it up a few days ago at Taylorwood Wines in Yaletown on the recommendation of my friend, Graham. From past experience, I can say that I’ve really enjoyed the Township 7 wines I’ve tried. My first taste actually made me go “Wow”. This is a beautiful wine. I’d actually say it’s a step above the Lehmann Semillon I reviewed earlier this week, and I liked that wine, though it is a bit “flabby” in comparison to this one. This has crisp lemon and pineapple flavours with a hint of sweet grassiness and a finish that keeps that going for a while as you ponder the tastiness in your mouth. This is a quality wine…. and for ~$17 here in Vancouver, it’s a steal.

4 stars

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Wine – 2004 Cedar Creek Estate Select Pinot Noir

I recently picked this bottle up at Taylorwood Wines in Yaletown. I was glad to see it back in the stores because the 2003 was a tasty Pinot in its own right and it had been sold out for a while.

2004 was a really warm summer here in BC, which I would think contributed to the dark and ripe flavours evident in this wine. On the nose, it’s all slutty succulent dark cherry and strawberry, but with a fume-y edge (from the 14.2% booze). I gave it roughly 40 minutes to air itself out and settle down. As soon as I tasted the ruby-coloured glass of goodness, there was a sexy mouthful of dark fruit with a strawberry edge to the finish. No barnyard evident here. It showed fine tannins and a nice structure. Simply put, it was bloody tasty.

If you live in BC, give it a try and taste one of BC’s better quality Pinots… and if you’re from elsewhere, try it if you get a chance. Yum.

Check out some of the other wines from Cedar Creek, Canada’s winery of the year for 2005.

~$27 here in BC.

4 stars

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