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Something new every day

29 Oct

20111029-201044.jpg

This lovely Montsant wine taught me something new today. One of its main components (40%) is Mazuelo. What’s Mazuelo? I had to look it up, myself. Turns out Mazuelo is a synonym of Carignan. So there you go. Something new.

Bula 2009, Montsant D.O.
Mazuelo, Grenache, Syrah
available in BC early 2012, ~$20

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A great Malbec, if…

27 Oct

20111027-004317.jpgHumberto Canale Estate Malbec 2008
Alto Valle del Río Negro, Patagonia, Argentina

So, this is a new (to me) Malbec from the most southerly wine-growing region in Argentina. Patagonia lies more than 990 miles (1600 kms) south of the much more famous Mendoza and is a considerably cooler climate than the major regions to the north. In the early 20th century, Humberto Canale imported vine cuttings from Bordeaux and established the first commercial winery in the region^.

I found myself with a bottle of Humberto Canale Estate Malbec 2008 from that most southerly region and wondered about how it might differ from wines from its northern Argentine neighbours. When I finally got around to opening it, I found a complex, nuanced wine with blackberry, cocoa, mint, smoked meat, and a host of other intriguing flavours. The profile and structure reminds me more of premium high-altitude Mendoza wines than the ubiquitous fleshy, sweet-fruit reds that currently flood our wine shops. So, is this a great-value wine? Good question, as I no longer have pricing info. I’ll get back to you on that, but for now, I will say that this is either an excellent sub-$20 wine or a less-exciting buy, it’s value inversely related to price.

BC Pinot Blanc

26 Oct

20111026-233412.jpgPeller Estates Family Series Pinot Blanc 2009
VQA Okanagan Valley, BC

BC makes good Pinot Blanc. Many Okanagan Valley Pinot Blanc wines are of very good quality and well-priced, relative to other white wines from BC and elsewhere. I would like to see greater focus and emphasis on this variety. Winemakers should aim for ripe fruit, balanced acidity and moderate alcohol. Tonight’s example, Peller Estates Family Series Pinot Blanc 2009, displays decent fruit-acid balance, but with pronounced (14%) alcohol. There are better examples, but at $12.99, this should be a popular choice.

Fun with FAOSTAT

23 Mar


Recently, I’ve discovered a great new way to waste time on the Internet. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has a Statistics site that allows users to access all sorts of great information on food production, from crops and livestock to food prices and supply.  For fun, I crunched some numbers to look at recent wine production in some important wine-producing countries.  Google Spreadsheets helped with the chart.

I’ve looked at production data before and I’m always a bit shocked that Australia ranks so low. Aussie wines are definitely over-represented on shelves in BC wine stores, relative to that country’s production.  Chile, too, tends to get much more shelf space than higher-producing nations South Africa and Germany.

I find this interesting. You may not.

What Joe’s Digging: Aussie Grenache

6 Feb

Grenache Noir grapes

Every so often I get on these kicks where I get a bit obsessive about a particular grape or region or producer.  These days I can’t get enough Grenache. More specifically, I’ve been sipping a number of Australian Grenache wines – and enjoying them quite a bit.

While not considered a “Noble” variety, Grenache is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world and an integral part of wines from the Southern Rhone, especially Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas.  Grenache is also widely planted in Spain, where its known both as Garnacha and as Alicante, and also pops up in Italy as Cannonau.  Australia is the only New World wine region where Grenache has taken a serious hold, and where some of the world’s best examples are now produced.

In the glass, Aussie Grenache wines often take the appearance of Pinot Noir: pale strawberry-red with subtle violet hues.  Aromas, too, lean towards the light, and delicate.  Bright red berry, floral notes and hard candy are common.  The palate, however, is another story: big, rich mouthfeel is commonplace, and alcohol contents above 14% is the rule.  This dichotomy is what currently attracts me to these wines.  Light, bright and elegant for summer barbeques, but with enough fullness and complexity to stand up to grilled meats and the hardcore red-wine drinkers that eat the grilled meats. Continue reading

BC Wineries: the WCBC list

16 Jan

Vineyard at Quail's Gate Winery, West Kelowna (courtesy Wine Country BC)

Visit Wine Country BC (and on Twitter) for news, info, podcasts and everything BC Wine!  You’ll find informative and truly useful stuff, like this nearly-exhaustive list of BC Wineries and their websites:

Big list of Wineries and their Websites

Posted by winecountrybc on January 1, 2010

Here’s a list of the 150+ wineries that are currently producing and releasing wines in BC as of now (January 2010). If there are any that I’ve missed, please let me know. The wineries are all listed alphabetically and a few have been grouped together at the end of the list under their respective corporate umbrella. Much more info on each of these wineries will follow soon. Until then, happy clicking. Continue reading

Holidays are over :(

11 Jan

Madi enjoying a walk on the beach. Victoria, BC - January, 2010.

Yes, you haven’t heard from me in a while, but for good cause.  A crushingly successful December at work followed by a short vacay on the Island and suddenly I’m 6 weeks behind on posts! New stuff soon…

Sulfite Truths

30 Nov

I came across an article that does a decent job clearing up the increasingly common consumer confusion around sulfites in wine.  The following article was written by Canadian Master of Wine James Cluer and originally published in BC Liquor Stores’ Fall 2009 Taste magazine.

Unless you suffer from severe athsma or have a rare sensitivity to sulfur, then don’ worry about sulfites. Besides, there are more sulfites in foods like commercially-prepares fruit salad than in wine.  Sulfites only seemed to become an issue when legislation forced producers to state content on the label, at which time a surprising number of consumers suddenly developed a physical reaction to (them).

Sulfur has been used as a preservative in winemaking since antiquity.  Today, in the form of sulfur dioxide, it is used in virtually all wines as a preservative and (in the winery) as a disinfectant.  It can help prevent wines from oxidizing and can kill bacteria and yeast.  The amount used is controlled by law and producers of finer wines strive to limit the addition of sulfur to a minimum.

There are barely any wines produced in the world without adding sulfur.  It is actually impossible to produce a wine entirely free of sulfites because a small amount is a byproduct of fermentation.


Wine and Food Pairing: Sushi

9 Jun

from: http://www.everythingwine.ca/blog

Three words best describe summer dining: light, fresh, and delicious. For me, nothing satisfies these criteria better than a casual lunch on the patio of my favourite local sushi joint. After a quick glance at the menu, I’ve decided on an assortment of nigiri sushi and cucumber rolls. But the question remains: what to wash it down with?

read more of my first blog post for EW!

Everything Wine blog

7 Jun

EWblogEverything Wine, BC’s biggest wine store, has launched a new wine blog featuring contributions from a variety of wine geeks including Tasting Room Confidential blogger Mari Kane and yours truly.  Along with a seachable inventory database and online purchasing (launching soon), the blog is a great addition to the increasingly-useful website.  I’m very pleased to be a part of it and I encourage you to bookmark the blog or better yet, subscribe to the feed. Watch for my first post early next week. I’ll have a teaser link from this site.