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To Capture a Moment…

We often use wine to make an occasion special, to make a toast, or to celebrate someone or something, and it’s a wonderful way to enjoy that which wine has to offer.  Today though, I consider the wine itself to be the moment.  The simple pleasure of the sip can be the occasion; it’s that moment when the wine offers the flavour, the comfort, or the refreshment you’re looking for.  Today, that wine is the Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir.  Now I know it sounds like a repetitive name but the significance is that the Shea Vineyard (where many of Oregon’s top Pinot’s come from) is the property of Shea Wine Cellars, so while they sell a large portion of fruit from Shea, they keep their favourite bunches for their own wines and it is spectacular! The moment holds aromas and flavours of sweet spices, floral musk, raspberry, sweet beets, stewed strawberry, earth, hints of candied berries, and tangy cherry. The wonderfully balanced acidity and structure keep the wine elegant and focused with a persistent finish that showcases the well integrated fruit. It’s a perfect wine for an autumn moment.


~ MK

Rise & Shine Wines!

With the dawn of spring here, Easter just around the corner, and my body finally adjusting to Daylight Savings Time… it’s time for rise and shine wines!  Not necessarily wake up, roll out of bed and hit the bottle wines, but wines to waken the palate; wines with freshness to whet the appetite; welcome the spring; and celebrate wine and food.  Both whites and reds are appropriate in my opinion and here a few options that I enjoy. Villa Conchi Cava Brut – a traditional method sparkling wine from Spain with beautiful fresh bubble, crisp acidity and delicate floral citrus and appley notes.  Great as an aperitif, or potentially breakfast wine, and believe it or not… a good match for potato chips!

See Ya Later Ranch “Belle” Viognier – the latest addition to the SYL stable.  This BC Viognier has a great balance between freshness, acidity, and ripe citrus and orchard fruit notes.  Mouth-watering on its own or a perfect match to herb pasta or fresh Halibut. 
Andeluna Malbec – High altitude vineyards give this medium-full bodied Argentine red inviting aromatics of blueberry, red currant and a hint of subtle spice.  Juicy acidity and smooth tannins round out the palate and make it an ideal partner for your favourite grilled meat.
El Chaparral Garnacha – A robust, and richly flavoured red from the Navarra region of Spain.  Deeply coloured and loaded with aromas and flavours of jammy berry fruit, toasty baking spice, sweet leathery hints and herbs.  A fantastic match for short ribs or Easter spring lamb.


The Little James Basket Press

In my wine experience, I have what I like to call ‘wishlist wines’.  These are wines I admire from afar; wines that are often impossible to find or impossible to afford.  Some people say it is better not to meet your heroes, and so perhaps it is best to keep the dream wines a fantasy we can admire in books, magazines or on extravagant wine lists.  Now the flipside to the coin is what I like to refer to as ‘workhorse wines’.  While the term does not conjure up a very romantic image, it describes wines that I can take pleasure in on a regular basis.  Wines that are approachable at a relatively young age, and have appeal both as a wine to enjoy by the glass as well as being suitably food-friendly.  One such wine, that both my wife Rachel and I count amongst our favourites, is the Chateau St. Cosme Little James Basket Press Grenache.Particularly appropriate as Grenache is one of my favourite red wine grapes for winter drinking, the Little James is a fantastic wine made by Chateau St. Cosme in Gigondas.  It is produced in a solera style, which in this case means it is made up of 50% current vintage wine blended with a combination of the previous 10 vintages.  This fractional blending gives the wine a very consistent, approachable style that offers wonderful complexity.  On the nose you will find subtle earthy hints, dried red and black berry fruits, vanilla and sweet herbal notes.  The palate is dry and medium full bodied with rich mouthfeel, balanced structure and layered black fruits, prune, cocoa powder and slightly nutty spice notes, with a very smooth lingering finish.  Terrific to have […]

November Wine Club Lineup – "An Evening of Bubbles"

We featured the following fantastic sparkling wines during our Wine Club event in November: *Cuvee Jean-Louis Blanc de Blancs (France)*See Ya Later Ranch ‘SYL Brut’ (B.C.)*8th Generation ‘Integrity’ Frizzante (B.C.)*Adriano Adami ‘Dei Casel’ Prosecco (Italy)*J Vineyards Blanc de Blancs (California)*De Venoge Cordon Bleu Brut (France)*Veuve Fourny Blanc de Blancs (France) 

"B" is for Barbaresco…

We recently attended the Italian Trade Commission ‘Wines of Italy’ tasting in Vancouver, and enjoyed it greatly.  Italian wines, whether rustic or modern, tend to exude the sense of terroir very well.  They maintain a strong sense of character that gives them a typically Italian style.  Lots of acidity, grippy tannins, aromatics, colour etc, all of which are very appealing. There is a soft spot in my heart for Italian wines, specifically those of the north, and it was these wines that I was most focused on, in particular Barbaresco. Barbaresco is often overshadowed by its cousin Barolo, but while they do share some similarities, Barbaresco offers a favourable alternative in terms of both style and price point.  Produced in the Barbaresco region of Piemonte, from the Nebbiolo grape, the wines are robust reds with an elegant, slightly more feminine edge to them.  They generally take less time to mature, and so become more pleasant and more approachable at a younger age while maintaining structure, and fruit integrity.  Barbarescoes are delicious and exceptional for pairing with classic Italian fare, roasted game, braised meats, and firm cheeses.  Here are a few I enjoyed:
Notedinanto Barbaresco – slightly dull red colour, richly aromatic with floral spice notes, black fruits, and leather.  Dry, full bodied, with rich grippy tannins, juicy acidity, and flavours of anise, dried cherry, and baking spice, with a warm lingering finish.
Marchesi di Barolo Barbaresco – light ruddy ruby colour, moderately aromatic with hints of strawberry, sandalwood and sweet herbal notes.  Dry, medium-full bodied with slightly rustic hints of tar, leather, red berries, and a touch of mocha in the finish.
La Spinona Barbaresco – ruddy ruby colour, moderate aromatics of leather, dried […]

1988 & 1997

I recently had the great pleasure of enjoying a meal with some good friends.  One of whom was a former team member of our Blackcomb Liquor Store & Fitzsimmons Pub family, returned to BC from Australia for a short vacation.  As a wine enthusiast, any excuse will do to fetch something from the cellar and this being such an occasion I felt obliged to pull out some fun and interesting wine.  Dining on rib-eye steaks, grilled to perfection, broccoli sautéed with pumpkin seeds, and baby potatoes, we enjoyed a very pleasant evening together.  Here are two of the accompanying wines which provide an interesting comparison to each other both in terms of vintage and region.  (Both of these wines were gently decanted approximately 5 hours prior to drinking.)
Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou Saint-Julien 1988
A wonderful example of how interesting aged Bordeauxcan be.  The deep ruby colour showed some age as it was starting to fade to a ruddy, brick tone.  The aromas were layered and also showing maturity with dried leafy floral notes, classic hints of cedar bark, graphite minerality, subtle hints of leather, dusty earth, some savoury spice notes, clay, and dried currant and raspberry fruit.  The palate was dry with balanced acid and softening tannic structure, and medium to medium-full body.  The delicate flavours of leathery cassis and slightly raisiny red berry carried through with hints of dried violets, green peppercorn, and licorice.  Polished and balanced through the persistent finish.  Quite elegant overall, still drinking well, excellent with the meat.
Kendall Jackson ‘Great Estates’ NapaValley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997
A slight surprise here with a display of more elegance than I had suspected, for such a big vintage.  Fairly dense purple colour with some […]

"Great Grigio"

What’s in a name?  Well sense of identity I suppose; and with wines and grapes it is as applicable as with any other thing.  We, in North America, remain quite varietally focused with our wines.  We tend to gravitate towards wines named for the grape or grapes that they are produced from, and perhaps that is part of the success of Pinot Grigio.  I think people like to say the name, and it sounds exotic enough yet seems familiar enough that it isn’t intimidating.  Plus let’s face it… it’s not chardonnay, and for many wine drinkers that fact alone is enough to attract attention. So, whether you like to say Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio, you are talking about the same grape.  Different countries and different producers will result in differing styles, but ultimately it’s the same grape.  It tends to be light and crisp, with delicate aromatics, and slightly leaner structure than its cousins Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay, and has an affinity towards lighter fare and seafood, or simply makes a refreshing companion to more intensely flavoured dishes.  A few that I am fond of are as follows:
Villa Chiopris Pinot Grigio – lean and mineral style with subtle citrus and straw notes, and crisp acidity.
Lagaria Pinot Grigio – slightly more modern version with a touch more fruit intensity on the nose and palate with citrus and floral notes and balanced acidity.
Zenato Pinot Grigio – classic lean and crisp, with a slightly richer mouth feel, balanced by white citrus, hints of minerality, and juicy acidity.
Fasoli Gino Pinot Grigio – an Italian beauty, with layered white fruit and citrus character, very slight herbaceous hints, balanced mineral and crisp acidity.

Picnic Picks….

In keeping with a summery theme, this month I’ve chosen a few wines suitable for the classic summer picnic at the park, beach, backyard, pool deck… whichever you may find yourself on.  Picnic wines, (like their first cousins ‘patio pleasers’), offer appealing and refreshing character, but must also provide a little more; a touch more structure, texture or subtle savoury notes to enhance the food affinity, bringing out the best in your food and drink.  Las Brisas Blanco – clear, pale straw in colour, with young moderate aromatic notes of flower blossom, white tree fruits, and tropical citrus.  The palate is dry, quite fruit forward with moderate acidity, ripe follow up fruit character with slightly candied pear and delicate green herbal hints.  This Spanish white makes a match for oysters, mussels and clams or a fruit plate by the beach with a little chevre.
Domaine Nizas Rose –  clear, beautiful rosy pink in colour, with a youthful aromatic character offering rose notes, apple skin, delicate red berries, and sweet herbs.  Light to medium bodied and dry, with complex orange peel acidity, delicate hints of tangy cherry, strawberry and garden shoots.  A great partner for lighter fare from the grill, Gazpacho soup, or an array of salami, ham, Proscuitto and other charcuterie.

 Laudun Chusclun Cotes du Rhone Blanc – clear and very pale in colour, with crisp youthful aromas on the nose offering fresh flowers, citrus blossom, and subtle hints of melon, and honey.  The palate is dry and medium full bodied, with balanced juicy acidity, subtle richness in the mouth feel and hints of melon, delicate white fruits, and mineral.  A terrific wine to have with leftover fried chicken, a fresh summer salad, or grilled turkey […]

Patio Pleasers

In an attempt to hasten the arrival of the summer weather I am dedicating this to some local  BC white wines, well-suited to sipping in a warm comfortable spot in the sun.  Wines of refreshing, aromatic, fruit driven character that maintain suitable balance and acidity to keep the palate wanting just one more sip!
 Stoneboat ‘Chorus’ White – is a suitably named harmonious white blend including varieties such as Kerner, Schoenburger, Viognier and more.  The blend here accentuates the layers of fruit both on the nose and palate with ripe melon, tropical citrus, and hints of honey and mineral.  It brings forth a touch of sweetness but retains an excellent crisp refreshing finish.

 Stag’s Hollow ‘Con-Fusion’ White – this is another field blend white that tends to vary year by year depending on the vintage.  A little more delicate on the nose with light floral white citrus, green apple and stone fruit notes.  The relatively dry palate provides ripe follow up fruit, and a thirst-quenching freshness.

 Hester Creek Trebbiano –  the only BC version of this classic Italian white that I have ever come across.  Mid-weight and juicy with warm weather compatible flavours of sweet grass, lemony citrus, and apple-pear notes.  A very subtle hint of richness on the palate, and persistent juicy finish make it a perfect picnic wine.

 Forbidden Fruit ‘Earth Series’ Sauvignon Blanc – this beauty is made from a clone sourced from Sauternes, and offers an enormous bowl of fruit on the nose.  Grapefruits, melon, apricots, guava, and orchard fruit, followed by a palate that is slightly less intense, but remains crisp, and just a touch off dry and will seduce and surprise.  Think of it as the anti-Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc!

 So once the sunshine […]

Grgich Hills

I recently had the pleasure of meeting and tasting with John Corcoran from Grgich Hills Estate winery, a winery I have not tasted in a few years, and I was very pleased at the outcome.  Grgich Hills is located in Rutherford in California’s NapaValley; and was founded in 1977; one year after winemaker Mike Grgich won the infamous Paris tasting with his 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay.  They are currently self-proclaimed stewards of the land, and since 2003 produce wines grown exclusively in their own estates.  The estate vineyards are certified organic and Bio dynamic, and they operate the winery on solar power.
The wines of Grgich Hills are obviously from California, yet they maintain an interesting, somewhat ‘old world’ style.  Limited use of oak, elegant fruit profiles, and consistent acidity and structure all add to the quality, and the expression of the terroir or sense of place.  I tasted the Fume Blanc, two vintages of Chardonnay, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and their Yountville Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.  My impressions are as follows.
Fume Blanc 2010: delicate youthful aromas of lemongrass, hints of under-ripe melon, slight citrus and green apple notes.  The palate is dry, with very crisp acidity and light bodied white citrus, spicy minerality, and grassy notes with a juicy finish.  A great wine for light seafood, shellfish or anything with lots of chevre on it.

Chardonnay 2009: mild, youthful bouquet of vanilla, floral, leesy spice notes, with subtle hints of toast, ripe citrus and orchard fruits.  The palate is dry, with juicy acidity, medium weight with a slight rich feel.  Flavours of citrus, green apple, lees notes, light oak, and a lemony finish make it a match for Brie cheese, pasta in cream sauce, or crab […]