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Halloween Re-post: Return of the Living Red

30 Oct
vineyard zombies?  delicious!

vineyard zombies? delicious!

Mash Design, the marketing brains behind the labels for Mollydooker, Two Hands and Magpie Estate, is back with old friends Redheads Studio for this genius new brand. From the unmarked, wax-dipped bottle to the small envelope of crime files, vineyard zombies and disturbing photos, this packaging is utterly unique. The contents of the bottle (yet to be reviewed) is just as unique, blending the Portuguese variety Touriga Nacional with Cabernet Sauvignon from different regions and different vintages. Download this .pdf file for more. Scroll left-to-right to view all images.


The attached package of medical images and eerie photos is more than mildly reminiscent of Pearl Jam's Vitalogy liner notes.


#VPIWF: The 2010 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival in Tweets

21 Apr

How much has the (Vancouver) wine world really embraced twitter? This post is a bit of an experiment in the matter, and depends wholly on Twitter users for the quality of its content.

I’ve added a new feed (right sidebar) so you can follow along in real-time with all the action of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival (#VPIWF), courtesy Vancouver’s most hardcore wine-geek tweeps.


Please note, this post is a WIP: I will compile interesting tweets from various VPIWF events in this post as the festivities continue.


» Diva(s) at the Met

What happens when a group of women get together? They talk wine, of course! Host Daenna Van Mulligen (aka Wine Diva) will introduce you to an international group of winemakers, proprietors and industry principals, who will share not only the wines they represent, but also the stories of their journey as a woman in the grape trade. After, schmooze and enjoy a selection of small bites prepared to match each wine by Diva at the Met Chef Dino Renaerts. Diva(s) at the Met

TheWineDiva Trying to get to my Divas at the Met event #vpiwf but the 4/20 pot protest has shut down traffic- great- come early. You’ll be stuck too

rtay Heading to the Metropolitan Hotel for Diva(s) at the Met, my first official @PlayhouseWine fest event of what will be a very boozy week.

lfroese Food porn: canapes from Divas at the Met MMMMMMMMM #vpiwf #wine @thewinediva

TheWineDiva Divas at the Met 2010 has wrapped. Inspiring women, stories and wine. I am awed-thanks to all you wine divas out there!! #vpiwf

» Canadian Wine Summit as interpreted by @yaffler

The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is pleased to announce a very special dialogue about Canadian wine issues as part of the Trade Days Conference.  What is Wine Brand Canada?   Is it Icewine internationally?  How does Cellared in Canada fit in?  How relevant are issues regarding sustainability?

Master Sommelier John Szabo moderates the morning, in-camera Strategy Session (9:30 – 11:30 am) featuring presentations by Mike Weir Wine, Tinhorn Creek, LCBO, Vincor, Brock University, Flat Rock Cellars, Andrew Peller and Mark Anthony Brands. The Canadian Wine Summit

Yaffler Interesting perspectives in this morning’s Canadian Wine Summit. Although As in all things, the big producers dominated proceedings #VPIWF

Yaffler Purpose of this morning’s Canadian Wine Summit: define winebrand Canada. Initial ideas: focus on diversity & sustainability. #VPIWF

Yaffler But before understanding & defining winebrand Canada, should everyone agree on just what it means to be Canadian in a general sense #VPIWF

Yaffler Key Canadian #wine asset is wine tourism. Vital to building the brand & creating emotional ties #VPIWF

Yaffler The big 3 want cooperation in building winebrand Canada. But only on their terms… #VPIWF Continue reading

Wine Marketing Win: Puntiapart

2 Oct

long jump wine


Paul Hobbs: Argentine Pioneer

18 Sep
vineyards of vina cobos, mendoza

Vineyards of Viña Cobos, Mendoza

As a winemaker, Paul Hobbs is highly regarded for his ability to identify exceptional vineyards and for his innovation and pioneering spirit in working with new and historical sites and regions. His success has inspired a wealth of nicknames among the press, from quiet trendsetter to prospector to truffle-hunting dog. Hired by Robert Mondavi for his advanced understanding of oak aging, he went on to become winemaker for Opus One and Simi wineries.

Paul Hobbs on Wine Taste TV

Paul Hobbs on Wine Taste TV

Recently, Paul is known for his namesake winery in Napa Valley, which has received high accolades (including multiple 100-point scores from Robert Parker) for its Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. What is less well known is that Hobbs is a pioneer in fine wine production in Argentina, having started there in 1988 with Decanter Magazine’s “Man of the Year” for 2009, Nicolas Catena. Señor Catena gives Hobbs much credit for the success of Catena-Zapata’s Chardonnay program. He has since extended his consulting efforts both in Argentina and Chile, consulting with various producers, including La Pampa winery Bodega Del Desierto. But the pinnacle of Hobbs’ work is Mendoza winery Viña Cobos, which began in 1998 and moved into its own winery facility in 2007.

Viña Cobos has expanded its lineup to include the Felino range of varietal wines: Chardonnay, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The 2007 vintage saw the entire Felino range score 90 points or better by Winedesierto Advocate reviewer Jay Miller.

Bodega del Desierto is the first winery in the Argentine province of La Pampa, a new viticultural region on the western border of the desert route to Patagonia, 700km south of Mendoza. The premium 25/5 varietal range posses Hobbs’ signature rich concentration and drinkability and have been included in”Smart Buy!” and “Top Value” lists by Wine Spectator magazine.

felino cabernetViña Cobos Felino Chardonnay 2008
Classic Argentine Chard, with pronounced oak, but well-balanced by tropical fruit and decent acidity.  90 points, Wine Advocate (August, 2009) $21.99, Everything Wine

Viña Cobos Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Good concentration for the price, with solid cassis fruit, dark berry and sweet vanilla.  91 points, Wine Advocate (December, 2008) $21.99, Everything Wine

Bodega del Desierto 25/5  Chardonnay 2007Bodegas_del_Desierto_25-5_Chardonnay
Top-notch Chardonnay by Mr. Hobbs, with a rich and creamy mouthfeel, great fruit concentration and enough acidity for food pairing. $27.99, Everything Wine

Bodega del Desierto 25/5 Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Another good example of the fruit-forward Paul Hobbs style.  Concentrated blackberry and sweet cassis fruit.  Good tannic structure and oak influence. $27.99, Everything Wine


It’s Twasting Time

9 Jun

twitter_logo_headerTwitter has defined the future of the tasting note. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle introduces the new phenomenon of Twasting.

“Twitter’s virtue is brevity,” writes Jon Bonné, “forget pain grillé and 92 points”.

Indeed, to post tasting notes on Twitter, one must be as crisp as the NZSB being reviewed.

“Do we really need to know that last night’s Cabernet had notes of blackberry, cassis and tobacco? Aside from being obvious – the curse of old-fashioned tasting notes – it’s merely a litany of the senses. No qualifications, and therefore no closer to truth. The glory of 140 is in shoving you, hard, toward that truth.”

Read the entire article.

Check out my twasting notes by following me on Twitter @joecorkscrew.

Whisk(e)y Files: ‘Clachan A Choin!’

19 Nov

This morning Robyn and I attended a fine single malt scotch tasting at Victoria Jane’s Lounge in the lobby of the Chateau Victoria. We had the privilege of hearing from one Mr. Grey, a knowledgeable and passionate employee of the Bruichladdich distillery (already my new favourite single malt producer), and of sampling five of the Islay distillery’s quality single malts. I must say I have not enjoyed a tasting so much in some time and my knowledge of single malt scotch production, of the region known as Islay, and of Scotland itself has improved dramatically as a result of this morning’s two-hour presentation. Here, I hope to share some of what Robyn and I learned this morning.

Bruichladdich is a privately-owned Scottish distillery producing single malt whisky from barley to bottle on the isle of Islay. It is still made by islanders as it was in 1881, matured beside the Atlantic, and bottled naturally at the distillery. Alone it benefits from the island’s wild climate and pure spring water. It is acknowledged as the purest spirit in Scotland (whisky directory 2005) thanks to the combination of the distillery’s original simplicity of design, long-neck stills and natural bottling. Together they produce a whisky that is fruity and floral with multi-layered complexity. Only pure, Islay spring water is added to reduce from cask strength to 46%. Nothing is taken away – all Bruichladdich whiskies are non chill-filtered and are colouring-free. The Bruichladdich house style is pure, floral and fruity with medium weight and body. American (bourbon) oak casks provide vanilla notes to most whiskies, though Sherry, Madeira, Port, and wine barrels are also used, depending on the whisky. Peating ranges from 5ppm to 30ppm, meaning a range of smoky characteristics to suit any taste. I’ve now had the opportunity of tasting no less than six Bruichladdich whiskies. Here are some of the highlights:

The Ten, “the aperitif” – Light and fresh with marine notes, but no iodine. The Ten is the youngest in the current Bruichladdich core range, but is no longer being produced, making it a great choice for collectors. Very fresh, crisp flavour with surprising floral, green apple and citrus notes. With little of the rich, caramel sweetness associated with some whiskies, Bruichladdich’s Ten makes an ideal summertime whisky. Easy-drinking, yet subtly complex, balanced and harmonious. Excellent value.

The Fifteen, “the contemplative cuvee” – From Bourbon (85%) and Oloroso Sherry (15%) casks, the Fifteen has a bit more attitude with more sweet malt, tropical fruit and butterscotch notes. Again, the long-neck stills allow for lashings of sea-salt without the medicinal iodine aromas of other whiskies. I first tried the Fifteen in Calgary (where it’s just over $60 cad) and it blows other whiskies in this price range away. A bit more expensive in BC, but still well worth it.

The Seventeen, “the reflective cuvee” – This one comes from 100% American oak casks and the wood plays a larger role in the overall spectrum of flavour. Still, the oak doesn’t overpower the fresh pear and gooseberry. The whole works are layered with cedar, vanilla, spice and maple. This one is a bit more pricey, unfortunately making it a special-occasion-only Scotch (at least in my income bracket), but definitely something to have on hand, in case the occasion should arise. All of these whiskies (and the rest of the Bruichladdich line) have a wonderful oily fullness, a result of master distiller Jim McEwan’s distaste for chill-filtering. Caramel colour is never added, and the three I’ve reviewed are deceptively lightly coloured. These three are also quite lightly peated. Try the 3d, “the peat proposal”, a blend of whiskies from the last three decades, if you are into a smoky, peat-heavy whisky.

Tasting whisky: Tasting whisky differs from tasting wine in three distinct areas. First, the swirling of the wine glass is discouraged when sampling single malt Scotch. Aeration disturbs the alcohol, and with a high-alcohol spirit like whisky it can cause unwanted “hot” aromas. Sniffing in general is not a necessary part of the whisky tasting experience. The flavour and sensation of whisky comes more from the palate than the alcohol-sensitive olfactory. Whiskies that are not chill-filtered should get a few drops of purified water to help open up the aromas. If a brief smell is desired, now is the time to quickly pass the glass under the nose. Don’t cram your face into the glass as you would with wine. Again, whisky is a more concentrated concoction – subtlety is the key here. The same goes for tasting – “just a wee sip” is suggested by Bruichladdich’s Mr. Grey. Taking a full swallow may prove one’s masculinity, but does little for the whisky taster but burn his throat. Like wine, good whiskies linger. A “breakfast” whisky is one that stays with you all day, making your otherwise unpleasant work day a flavourfully happy experience.

The motto of the Bruichladdich distillery refers to its ongoing passion for perfection. Translated, it means “the dog’s balls”. Fantastic. This whisky is “a true cracker”. Clachan A Choin!