May 27, 2016 § Leave a comment
I had a long chat with a fellow veteran of the liquor industry and put me in a nostalgic mood.
Back in the late 90’s VQA and BC Wines were still on fringe of wine culture, and most of the brands that we take for granted today were start-ups.
This was the case for Tinhorn Creek. In 1998 the agency I was running became the sales agent for Tinhorn Creek. Previous to that Kenn and Sandy were selling their wine out of the back of their car. The labels were a sea foam green 3/4 wrap that feature a metallic burgundy creek running down the middle. The whites showed biting acidity and it wasn’t unusual to find ‘wine diamonds’ at the bottom of the bottles. With all that said, it wasn’t hard to see the quality and potential of the winery.
Another reality of the time was that every BC winery had a Gewurztraminer and most of them were off-dry to sweet, but Tinhorn’s was drier and the wine brought out loads of flavours.
Price ~ $16 (almost exactly what it was in 1998)
Score ~ 8.2 Over Delivers
The nose is brimming with spices, melon, pear and generous lychee nut. The palate is alive refreshing with a finish that gives a spicy, lychee, pear kiss to the taster.
The get the most out of this wine just chill it down a few degrees so that the bottle is cool to touch (should take about 1 hour in a normal fridge), then serve with either seafood including prawns, anything curried, salads (especially those with fruits in them), and grilled chicken.
Grapes ~ Gewurztraminer
Store Section ~ BC/VQA
Availability ~ In both private and public stores
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April 23, 2016 § Leave a comment
Every morning I take Oxxo the family dog for a stroll around what we call the loop. Recently the loop has not only provide some wonderful vistas but it also bursting with Spring flowers. The morning air has been filled with a Cornucopia of floral scents and it put me in the mood for some aromatic white wine.
To that end I tripped down to my local store and spend some time perusing the BC/VQA shelves. I came upon a wine that made me smile. I smiled because I have such fond memories of meeting with Walter Gehringer at his winery on the Golden Mile Bench.
I spied his 2014 Private Reserve Riesling and snapped it up.
Walter has some of the oldest Riesling vines in BC that has consistently produced some of the best wine year after year after year.
I recall first trying what has become the Private Reserve Riesling back in 1995 when you could count on one hand the number of quality producers in the Okanagan. Today there are over 150 inching towards 200, and yet the Gehringer wines are still priced under $20… well under $20. Thank you Walter.
Price ~ $14
Score ~ 7.6/10 Over Delivers
When I stick my generous nose in the glass I am pleasantly welcomed with white peach, pear and a hint of Jasmine flower. The palate is well balanced showing great flavour and finesse, with the finish delivering fresh fruit and real refreshment (hard not to have a second glass).
I suspect the elegance of this wine is a function of this wine being in bottle for a year before it got to me. Old vines like the ones that Walter has, can not be rushed into expressing themselves fully. Time allows the wine to make its full statement and allow the taster to sense the wisdom of their choice. I would love to try the 2015 beside the 2014, but that is just the dork in me.
Pair this wine with, and this is really simple to do, chicken thighs marinated for a number of hours in Lemon juice, Orange Juice, fresh rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic, touch of cayenne pepper, and a half a cup of white wine. The pairing is simply fantastic. I would also pair this wine with anything that has cumin and little spice to it, fresh fish and Spinach salad with some citrus in it.
Grapes ~ 100% Riesling
Store Section ~ BC/VQA
Availability ~ both private and public stores.
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March 18, 2016 § Leave a comment
I firmly believe that Grenache, and Grenache blends will be the ‘it’ wine of 2016/2017. I declare this to be true for a few of reasons.
- Taste Profile – Grenache is alway juicy and easy to enjoy, with a delicious kiss of savoury spices and a soft round texture because the grape is naturally low in tannin (pucker).
- The Underdog Effect – Grenache has long been considered a blending grape and therefore its impact on the quality of a wine has either been overshadowed or totally missed. Loads of cork dorks around the globe are choosing Grenache because it so overlooked.
- Value – Grenache is the second most planted red grape in the world meaning there are oceans of quality Grenache produced each year meaning there are lots of great wines under $20 and even under $15.
I was strolling around my local store looking for that underappreciated bottle of Grenache at a real good price… enter La Bastide.
La Bastide hit the market like a bomb a few years back. Every store had a stack and it was flying out the doors. Little did people know that this wine is about 70% Grenache, hence its juicy delicious character. Well that was a few years ago and now this wine is most likely found on the bottom shelf as the shine has worn off. That is great news for those looking for a juicy, delicious wine with loads of flavour, lively spice, a soft texture and are willing to bend their knees to get a bottle that totally over delivers for the price.
Price ~ $11
Score ~ 7.4/10 – Over Delivers
This is a real crowd pleaser and if you are looking to get married this summer or perhaps you are buying the wine for the nuptials, this is a great choice- inexpensive, over delivers and is incredibly food versatile.
Speaking of food I would have this wine with anything BBQ. Either BBQ sauce or slow roasted. Oh and it is also awfully good with a flank steak that has been marinating all day.
Grapes ~ 70% Grenache, Carignan, Syrah
Store Section ~ France
Availability ~ Both Private & Public Stores.
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PS – to keep things rolling I have signed onto acting as an affiliate for items that I think are truly noteworthy, remarkable and consistent with my values. If you don’t please click on the following, take a look and if you purchase, they send a commission that would be greatly appreciated.
February 27, 2016 § Leave a comment
I was chatting with a colleague in Vancouver, and inevitably the conversation turns to the weather. We have enjoyed a beautiful week and as my colleague said “the sun comes
out and people are nice, happy and greet you on the street.” This conversation inspired me to go a pick up a bottle of one of my all time fave ‘happy and greet you on the street’ type of wines, the Campogrande Orvieto.
The Campogrande Orvieto is a white wine which comes out of the Orvieto region of Umbria in Central Italy. It is a blend of Grechetto (Gre – ketto) and Trebbiano. Strangely if we were to turn the clock back 5 -10 years not only would I be able to bound up the stairs, but 90% of all the Italian white wines on the shelf would have been either a Trebbiano or a Trebbiano blend, like Orvieto.
Orvieto, like Trebbiano and Gavi have mostly been pushed out of the market in favour of a plethora of lifeless Pinot Grigios. Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of great Pinot Grigio’s on the shelf, but there are just too many wines capitalizing on the popularity of PG and are pushing out truly awesome wines like those of the Orvieto.
Price ~ $16-$17
Score ~ 8.1 Over Delivers
The Campogrande, actually Santa Cristina Campogrande, should be served just chilled, not cold, to showcase the wonderful melon, bartlett pear, hints of citrus and minerality. The nose is a little shy at first and that is how you will know that the wine is too cold. If you don’t get the generous aromas, then it is too cold.
The palate is crisp and refreshing and just feels good in the mouth. So good that it might be difficult to only have one glass. The finish shows more of the minerality and just a kiss of melon.
Pair this wine with light pastas, caprese salad with Arugula, and simply grilled prawns or scallops, this is also an awesome choice with a classic Ceviche.
Grapes ~ Grechetto, Trebbiano
Store Section ~ Italy
Availability ~ Private stores only.
If you do get the opportunity to try this wine, please let me know what you think.
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February 21, 2016 § Leave a comment
One of the best things for a marriage is regular date nights. I must admit that we haven’t had date nights as frequently as we used to but we make a point of it when it comes to significant moments.
Recently it was the 20th anniversary or our first date and we wanted to dine at a place that was intimate, romantic but new to us. We asked around and Ca Va Bistro Moderne in Fernwood seemed to fit the bill.
We arrived for our reservations and I immediately knew we made the right choice. Directly across the piazza from the Belfry Theatre a simple door in a simple brick and stone building, greets hungry wanderers.
The room is about 25ft across and 100 ft deep, just enough for about 30-40 seats. If we didn’t know we were in Fernwood, we could easily have been in a bistro in Avignon, Greenwich Village, Notting Hill or Gastown.
Our seats were at the front window and the lighting was soft, warm and somewhat low but enough to see the menu and the food in front of us.
The cuisine is french inspired and the wine list is a blend of BC and international selections with a decent helping of French options.
My bride had the duck liver paté to start and the lamb sirloin for her main. I started with the Gruyere Soufflé and then the Duck Confit as the main (a total no brainer as I love love love Duck Confit).
The food was absolutely fantastic and we loved every morsel of it. Chef Fauna Martin makes her own duck confit and it was unbelievably good (I’m salivating as I write this). She also makes her own duck liver paté that was as smooth as like butter.
For wine, as I know you want to know, I selected the Romaine Duvernay 2010 Crozes-Hermitage and man was it fantastic. Dark in the glass, earthy and savoury spices, dark fruit and hints of cured meats. Classic Crozes Hermitage as it has such a fresh face (bright acidity) with a brooding soul.
After a well timed meal we sank into some dessert. It is impossible for me to resist Creme Brulée so I ordered the Pedro Ximenez Creme Brulée while Ange had the Twice Baked Rhubarb Soufflé. Heavenly!!
The ambience was perfect, food was outstanding, the wine brilliant, and the company, of course routinely enriches my soul, but I know what you are asking, what about the pricing? Very reasonable. Certainly a might higher than concept restaurants but truly over delivered for the price. I would definitely go back.
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February 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
Grenache, or Garnacha, is a grape on the rise and that is good news for those seeking great wines but don’t want to sell the farm to do so.
Most famously Grenache is a key to Chateauneuf du Pape, but it is also the main grape in regions of Spain such as Calatayud and Carinena, and these are where some of the greatest buys are hailing from.
Garnacha is a late ripening grape that requires a lot of heat to reach its full potential, hence you will only find a few expressions grown in the very southern reaches of the Okanagan in BC.
Garnacha is truly a crowd pleaser grape. Dark juicy fruits of raspberry, plum and blackberry, low in tannin meaning very little pucker. The only challenge is keeping the acidity up in order to insure a balanced wine.
Crowd Pleaser is definitely the phrase I would use for the Castillo de Monseran. Dark juicy fruit, very soft and brilliant with casseroles, Mac N Cheese or Pizza.
Price ~ $8.99
Score ~ 7.3/10 Over Delivers
This wine scores high on the value meter and would have scored higher is there is a little more depth to it. Having said that as soon as I paired it with food it was brilliant.
If you haven’t added Garnacha to your repertoire of wines, this is a great one to start with and it won’t set you back an arm and a leg.
Grapes ~ 100% Garnacha
Store Section ~ Spain
Availability ~ available in both private and public stores.
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February 12, 2016 § Leave a comment
There was a time when I craved Pinot Grigio. I loved it citrus, mineral flavouring and the freshness with which it greeted my palate. Then came along a tsunami of Pinot Grigio’s trying capitalize on the grapes global popularity and I quickly lost interest.
A couple of week’s ago I was tasting a number of wines to pair with the cheeses that we have in the fridge. I tasted the next glass and recognized it as a classic Pinot Grigio and wouldn’t you know it, it comes from Italy.
The Santa Cristina Pinot Grigio is a true delight that over delivers for the price.
Price ~ $14.99
Score ~ 7.2/10 Over Delivers
Aromas of citrus, melon and ripe pear that are matched on the palate with some lovely minerality near and through the finish.
Chill this wine, but if it comes out of the fridge with some condensation, let if warm up a bit for best results.
I had this with some Gouda, Swiss, Parmesan and Saint André (it was on sale), and the Santa Cristina worked beautifully with the Saint André as well as the Parmesan (I’m sure there is no surprise there). I also had it with some Mac N’ Cheese, and then some chicken wings and it over delivered on both occasions.
Grapes ~ Pinot Grigio
Store Section ~ Italy
Availability ~ Both public and private stores
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