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.

Advertisements

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

Drink Wine. Help Haiti.

21 Jan

Live in British Columbia? Love wine? Then listen up:

Everything Wine
will donate $1 from EVERY bottle sold Saturday, Janunary 23 to Red Cross Haiti relief!  Great specials and free tastings all day.  Our target is 5,000 bottles.

Drop by the store at 998 Marine Drive in North Vancouver, BC or buy online for shipping in BC.

Visit Everything Wine on Twitter

Drink wine. Help Haiti. It’s win-win!

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

Reviewed: Calvet Reserve de L’Estey Medoc (2005)

12 Jan

Calvet Reserve de L'Estey Medoc 2005

Warm and very dry, 2005 was one of the greatest vintages of recent decades in Bordeaux.  So, I was happy to discover a case of ’05 mixed in with the 30-odd cases of 2006 Calvet Reserve de L’Estey Médoc we received in the fall of 2009.  I picked up a bottle and stashed it for the holidays, only opening it recently.

My expectations were not particularly high.  First, this is not a premium Bordeaux:  at $25 it comes in at the value end of the Bordeaux spectrum (in BC).  Second, J. Calvet is not a producer best-known for ultra-high quality wines.  Third,  Calvet is actually a Saint-Émilion producer.  This wine, a Médoc, must be made from purchased grapes – certainly not their ‘flagship’ product.  All my hopes rested on the vintage:  it’s ’05, so it has to be good, right?

Well, it was pretty good.  Bright red cherries and red currants introduce themselves on the nose, followed by chocolate, dill, anise and hints of earth.   The palate follows a similar pattern, with bright, ripe fruit up front,  moving into dried herbs, cocoa and long tannins.  An approachable and very quaffable Bordeaux from an excellent vintage.  Now to try that “B” vintage ’06 to compare…

At last check, there were a few ’05 left at Everything Wine (North Vancouver), and plenty of 2006.  $24.99

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.


An $1,100 Flight to Flavour Country

19 Nov

my first Grange!

While I wasn’t lucky enough to enjoy the wisdom of host Chris Sharpe, working late last night did result in the reward of sampling the heels of the wines from his Ultra Premium Tasting.  If you happen to have $1,100 you need to dispose of, these five wines will do the trick nicely. All are available at Everything Wine and prices listed are current retail.

Quinta do Vale Meao 2005
Douro, Portugal

Touriga Nacional (40%), Touriga Franca (25%), Tinta Roriz (25%)

This wine’s nose is charming and gorgeous, with concentrated ripe red berries, pretty floral notes, earth and tar.  The palate is bright and lush, with red raspberry, sweet cherry and peppery spice. Complex, exotic and hugely appealing, I would gladly drink this wine daily – and with just about any fare. This doesn’t strike me as a wine that would fare well in the cellar, but with luscious fruit like this, who wants to wait anyway? $109.99

~

Achaval Ferrer Finca Mirador 2006
Medrano, Mendoza, Argentina
Malbec (100%)

From a 12 acre vineyard at 2400′ asl harvested to 0.75 tons per acre. The colour and aroma seemed to indicate a wine with some maturity, with it’s slightly brick-hued rim and subtle earth scents.  That illusion was soon shattered, as the palate bursted with bright red and black fruits, fresh and ripe with mouthwatering acidity.  Suprising, but delicious nonetheless.  I’d definitely leave this one in the cellar another half-dozen years. $119.99

~

Numanthia Termanthia 2005
Toro, Spain
Tinto de Toro (100%)

From an 11 acre plot, 2600 feet above sea level, planted with 100+ year old ungrafted vines, the yields were well under 1 ton of fruit per acre. The wine was barrel fermented and received the ‘200% new oak’ treatment for 20 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. It is big, tannic and extremely ageworthy. ~ erobertparker.com

A wonderfully complex nose, with layers of black cherry, sweet cassis, blackberry, caramel, licorice, mineral, toast and tar.  I went back two or three times to take it all in before taking a sip.  When I did, I received a powerul mouthful of rich black fruits, baking spices and a mess of fine tannins. Structured enough for a decade or more of cellaring, but a wonderfully unique and enjoyable wine now. Maybe the best Tempranillo I have tasted. Fantastic. $259.99

~

Shafer Hillside Select 2004
Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California
Cabernet Sauvignon (100%)

Incredibly rich, from the sweet cassis and vanilla-oak nose to the silky mouthfeel and super-long and textured finish.  The Hillside exhibits opulent black cherry, chocolate, graphite and oak.  32 months in 100% new French oak lends a silky, sexy, layered palate and a flawless finish. This wine is beautifully intense – one of the most pleasurable sips I’ve had in a long, long while. $325.99

~

Penfolds Grange Bin 95 2004
South Australia
Shiraz (96%), Cabernet Sauvignon (4%)

…grown to very special vineyards in the Barossa and McLaren Vale, with a component from the distinguished Magill Estate site in the Adealide Hills. Grange remains as Australia’s most famous wine, a peerless wine of historical significance, officially listed as a Heritage Icon of South Australia. Above-average winter rainfall led into a promising vintage, characterised by mild conditions up until February, followed by warmer weather conditions throughout March and April. Penfolds South Australian vineyards fared well, producing wines of elegance and intensity. Matured for sixteen months in exclusively new American oak hogsheads. Alcohol 14.3% ~ PenfoldsGrangeForSale.com

My first Grange!  Tauted as one of the greatest vintages of Australia’s most prestigious wine, the 2004 Grange might never have had a chance at living up to its $600AUD pre-release price. Concentrated ripe black fruits, cherry cola, smoked meat. The palate is very concentrated, but still bright.  I expected more – more tannin, more acid, more fruit, more alcohol.  But this wine is not for drinking now – it is all about 10 years from now. $424.99

Whisk(e)y Files: Forty Creek

29 Oct

forty creek

Forty Creek Premium Barrel Select Whisky

I’m only just recently getting into Canadian Whisky, but this has been an early standout.  For only $25 (BC), Forty Creek offers a great sweet oak nose reminiscent of maple syrup (how very Canadian) and a rich, sweet and dangerously smooth palate with flavours of vanilla, apricot, cinnamon and walnut.

Pioneer of the Year Malt Advocate Magazine, New York City
Double Gold Medal San Francisco World Spirits Competition
Gold Medal Monde Selection, Brussels, Belgium

Wine Marketing Win: Puntiapart

2 Oct

long jump wine

http://lavinyeta.es/puntiapart_en.html
http://www.thedieline.com/blog/2009/09/studio-spotlight-elhombredelalata.html

puntiapart2