Archive for the 'BC Wine' Category

Wine and Food Event: Taste of BC 2010

Attending the “Taste of BC 2010” event, put on by Liberty Wine Merchants and benefiting B.C. Children’s Hospital – Oak Tree Clinic, this year for the first time was a really great decision. We’ve had lots of conversations about “palate shift” of late, and I can honestly say I have been seeking the rustic and mineral driven wines versus the over concentrated wines I have been finding locally. The event was a pleasant reminder, if not a reawakening for me about some of the excellent wine being produced in BC. Pair that with some tasty snacks and you have decent evening all around.

In terms of wine, the highlights were:

  • 8th Generation Vineyard – We first tasted their wines at last year’s Playhouse International Festival, and knew we had to seek them out. They had a full spectrum of wines including Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, two Rieslings, Pinot Noir and a Syrah. The whites stole the show, with delicious Rieslings being highlights. The Pinot Gris was also interesting, having spent some time on oak – unusual in my experience for a BC Pinot Gris, but really elegant and tasty. At an average price of about $22, these are real benchmarks for local wine quality/price ratio.
  • La Stella Winery – These were some of the real standouts in my mind. Their Vivace Pinot Gris had amazing grapefruit zest on the nose and some pear and peach. The two reds they were sampling were also superb. The Allegretto Merlot was full and tasty, and the Fortissimo Cab Merlot had excellent pepper and dark fruit. Definitely need to find the Vivace to include in the under $30 challenge.
  • La Vieux Pin Winery – Another highlight. I was cautious upon approaching these wines, as I wondered if they could live up to some of the preaching I had faced on a trip into a local cold beer and wine store. The salesperson there proclaimed them “the best out there, from some of the best Merlot vines in the world” and on and on… Hyperbole aside, these are some excellent wines. The Petit Sigma Blanc was perhaps the highlight of the whites at the event for me. Beautiful floral and citrus, this is an amazing deal at $22. The Belle Pinot Noir was dark and full or earthy plum – an excellent BC Pinot.
  • Meyer Family Vineyards – Brand new for me, I wondered if the hype would live up to the reality. We tasted an excellent Chardonnay (the best BC Chardonnay of the event) and a couple of quality BC Pinot Noirs. The Chardonnay was well balanced and full value for it’s $35 price tag. The pinots were quite different from each other, both with nice structure and red fruit. They’re definitely worth a try if you find them.
  • Tantalus Vineyards – Their 2008 Riesling and 2009 Rosé were both very good. Keep an eye out for them in your local stores.

Other good sips included the Seven Stones Winery Meritage that had a really nice Cabernet Franc backbone and Vista D’Oro’s Walnut Port was a delicious way to end the evening – so tasty!

On the food/pairing front, the smoked sablefish with horseradish cream from Bridges was superb with the Wild Goose Stony Slope Riesling. The oysters from Rodney’s were fantastic and would have been great with the Focus2 Sauvignon Blanc from Twisted Tree (couldn’t carry them over there). Central City Brewing had a maple cheesecake with beer-brined bacon on top. It paired fantastically with a nice breath of air.

A good night full of new tastes and a much more optimistic view on the future of BC wines.

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2007 Blue Mountain Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley

Given that the last couple of Chardonnays I’ve had have come from France’s outstanding Tissot winery, this wine had a tough act to follow. To move from having those fresh in my taste sense memory into this bottle was a bit of a shock, but we’re also talking about 2 Chardonnays that sell for over $60 (CDN) being compared to one 1/3 that price. Having said that, this wine didn’t make my mouth happy in the way a really good Chardonnay can.

I’m not saying it’s a badly made wine… or that was unpleasant to drink – just that it does nothing to stand out, even in this price range. There was nothing at all memorable about it. It had a pleasant crisp edge that shows it would pair decently with food. The nose had a nice dose of light citrus and minerality. A sip showed a slight edge of green bitterness on the thin body and led to a light clean and crisp finish.

It’s a decent wine… just not, in my opinion, memorable.

~$2o at private wine shops here in BC.

3 stars

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2008 Quails’ Gate Chenin Blanc

08252009OK, so let’s keep the BC wines posts going for at least one more wine. This is one that came completely out of left field for me. When we visited Quails’ Gate Winery on the weekend and Peter, our very friendly tasting room host offered a taste of this wine, I was thinking, “Yeah, yeah… a BC Chenin Blanc. This’ll suck.” One sip and I was thinking, “Holy crap, this is tasty stuff.”

It’s got a nose that offers up a heap of crisp pear, grapefruit and a slate-like mineral edge. A big sip gives a load of the pear, melon, grapefruit and a long finish. Wow. There is a bit of blending going on here – there’s 92% Chenin Blanc and 8% Sauvignon Blanc in there to add a bit of fresh crispness. It’s a great bottle of wine to sip with a summer salad, fish, shellfish, poultry or even as an aperitif.

It was funny. The secret’s out. When we got back to Candace’s parent’s place her Dad, Robert, wanted me to try a white he liked… he poured me a glass of this wine. Like it? I totally agree. I really like it.

As they proudly point out on their site, “Quails’ Gate 2007 Chenin Blanc was the exclusive British Columbia wine served to US President Barack Obama during his luncheon with Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday in Ottawa.” It accompanied menu selections including Pacific coast yellowfin tuna and maple and miso cured Nunavut wild Arctic char. Mmmm… sounds like a great pairing.

If you’re lucky enough to find this wine in your local shop, grab a few bottles and take it home to enjoy. You’ll be glad you did.

$18.99 at the winery.

4 stars


2008 Rigamarole Winery Rosé

08162009Both Graham and I received bottles of this wine as agent’s samples, so I thought we’d put our reviews together and get them on the site. I think this bottle surprised both of us… pleasantly. It was both tastier and better than we thought it would be.

It’s got a cool nose that is all about the cranberry, mandarin orange and flinty stone. The flavours are pretty interesting as well. There’s the juicy cranberry, sour cherry, some lemony citrus and a crisp, lightly mineral-edged finish. There’s a bit of a boozy edge, but it’s not out of balance.

You know I’m a rosé fan and all in all, I’d have to say that I would buy this wine. It goes really well with the warm weather we’re having in Vancouver this summer. It’s a nice little aperitif wine to sit and sip on the patio and would also pair well with various things grilled (think chicken, veggies and pork).

It’s a great deal for the money.

With the Hades-esque heat wave we’ve had of late in Vancouver, the wine consumption has been limited. The search for a few crisp whites and some nice rosés has been a common theme in recent weeks.

To be honest, I generally default to French Rosés for fear of encountering an overly sweet homage to the blasphemy that is white zin. I cracked this open the other night and must confess that was a tasty patio sip.

A blend of Gamay, Pinot Noir and Merlot, it has nice ruby cranberry color in the glass It has a zingy nose of some pine notes with strawberry jam and a bit of cotton candy- things I like in a Rosé. A few sips and the strawberry continued on with some cranberry and rhubarb in the middle. Generally this wine was light on the palate and had some nice soft red fruit on the finish with a bit of white pepper to top it off.

This is a tasty local rosé. The price point makes it a great choice to share with a mixed crowd (Wine geeks and non). Would I buy it? Absolutely, especially if our weather continues as it is.

$14.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

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2007 Wild Goose Gewurztraminer

07082009My first thought when I think of this wine – What a wine for the money! $18 for a classic, crisp and balanced Gewurztraminer? Yes, please. This tasty drop makes regular appearances in my fridge and sets the standard by which all other BC-made Alsatian varietals are judged.I love to pair it with a nice Thai curry.

In the glass, the nose is a sexy mix of  lychee nut, white pepper and rose petals. This is where things get really interesting – when you take a sip. This is a holy crap tasty wine – the sweet-sour lychee with ripe peach, apricot, and a citrus and honeyed-mineral edge.

If you can find it, try it. If not, the 2008 should be kicking around at your local private wine shop (here in BC). I’ll be making a point to try that soon.

$18 at the winery.

4 stars

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2007 Stoneboat Vineyards Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley

06162009I tasted (and liked) Stoneboat’s wines back at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival back in March, so when I found their new releases at Taylorwood Wines last weekend, I thought I’d pick up a couple of bottles to try. I grabbed one each of their white blend Nebbia and their Pinot Noir.

OK, let’s get down to it… it’s a Pinot – kinda’ classically so. There’s not much of the New World sluttiness going on. The nose has that disinct barnyard edge to it, with stewed cherry and a bunch of citrus and spice. A big ‘ol sip shows the cherry juice, as well as orange peel and a bit of a tobacco edge to its mineral-laced finish. It’s tasty stuff, especially for the $24. I do have to say that it is a bit rustic though… with some stemminess to the flavours. This gives it a bitter edge that many folks may not find too appealing.

Having said that, I do have to say that I enjoyed this wine. Did I love it? No. Would I buy it again? Maybe. Would I drink it again? Yes. It’s much better than almost any other Pinot available at this price.

If you come across it and are a Pinot fan, give it a go and decide for yourself.

$24 from the winery.

3 1/2 stars

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2009 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival – Wine folks talk about their wines and the value of social media

So, today Graham and I headed to the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival with the aim of searching out folks we knew were using social media to promote their wines. From our experience using Twitter, Facebook and Flickr we were aware of at least 5 wineries/winemakers at the Festival who do so – Bradley Cooper (of Township 7 and Black Cloud wines who tweets under @Bradinator, @Township7 and @BlackCloudWine), @stoneboat (Tim Martiniuk of Stoneboat Vineyards), @dfwinery (Crystal Froese of Dunham & Froese Estate Winery), @sokolblosser (the Sokol Blosser Winery from the Willamette Valley in Oregon) and @TinhornCreek (we spoke with Sandra Oldfield who is the winemaker and director of operations of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards).

Here’s what they had to say:


2006 Black Cloud Pinot Noir

03222009Brad Cooper easily takes the prize as BC’s most social media savvy winemaker. He’s had a blog for years (The Winery Project), on which he documents the travails of being a – yep, you guessed it – winemaker in BC for Township 7… as well as being one of BC’s highest rated Twitter fanatics. Through our blog and Twitter contact over the last few years, I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of Brad Cooper’s new wine venture a few weeks ago. I held onto it until I had a Pinot craving… which happens often.

Brad is still making wine for Township 7, but when some high-quality Pinot grapes became available, he jumped at the chance to do his own thing…. and what can I say? I liked it. Quite a lot. It’s a very solid first effort in Pinot-land for Brad under his own label, Black Cloud.

The nose has the classic bits of earth to its dark cherry fruit along with a powerful spicy edge. The flavours pretty much play that out. There’s a yummy splash of dark cherry and ripe strawberry fruit followed by a wallop of what I can only describe as Chinese all-spice with a medium-long earthy and mineral-edged finish. There’s also a very healthy dose of tannins on that finish as well, which makes me think this wine could use some time in your closet/cellar before it’ll see its best drinking days. Tasty and complex stuff. Give it 6 months to a year and you’ll be really happy.

I think this is a very solid example of a sign of what BC can do with the Pinot Noir grape. Good work, Mr. Cooper. If you’re in Vancouver and are able to attend the Playhouse International Wine Festival, drop by the Township 7 booth, where you may find Brad and, if you’re lucky, a sample of this very low-production wine.

$25 from the winery – $30 in some local wine shops here in Vancouver.

4 stars


2007 Township 7 Vineyards & Winery Chardonnay

02172009Brad Cooper dropped by my office last week and left me some wine to taste for the site. This is the first to hit my glass.

I’ve always been a fan of the Township 7 wines. Unlike many BC wineries these days, they tend to offer real value for your money. Their wines compete dollar for dollar with pretty much any others in their price range – from anywhere in the world.

The 2007 Chardonnay, which is aged in French and American oak barrels, offers up a beautiful nose of roasted hazelnut, pineapple-tinged tropical fruit and a crisp citrus edge. The flavours are very Burgundian – the lightly nutty tropical fruit is backed up by a very crisp green apple and lemony flinty mineral-edged finish. It’s definitely a food-friendly Chardonnay.

This is a very nice wine for the money. I’d actually go so far as to say it’s currently my favourite under-$20 Chardonnay.

$19.99 from the winery.

4 stars


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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