Tag Archives: info

W(h)ining: Aromatic Whites and a Toast to the Spring Season

25 Mar

I was delighted to pour a flight of three aromatic white wines on Sunday to celebrate the first day of spring.  I was a bit apprehensive, though, that many of my tasting-bar customers would be less than excited by the offering of all white, off-dry wines.  But the intense fragrance and vibrant, mouthwatering, palate of wines poured from unassuming, Alsatian bottles, pleasantly surprised many folks who might normally shy away from this style of wine.

I’ve noticed that a majority of consumers drink only red, or very little white, and almost everyone, it seems, is afraid of a touch of sweetness in their wine.  I’m not sure if it’s the memory of sugary, flavourless, mass-produced American White Zinfandel circa 1980, or the surprisingly explosive sweetness of that first sip of quality icewine, but it seems to me there is a general reluctance to try off-dry, or, as many people mistakenly call them, ‘sweet’ wines.  An off-dry wine, unlike a sweet wine such icewine, late harvest wine, or port, has just a touch of residual sugar, and, if made to my liking, a good amount of mouthwatering  acidity to balance the sweetness; indeed, this is precisely the difference between an exquisite off-dry Gewürztraminer, and an unpalatably cloying wine of the 80s blush variety.  Acidity in off-dry wine is kind of like a squeeze of lemon in a recipe; it brightens the flavours of the wine, adds a bit of tartness to balance the sweetness, and provides a clean finish to a round palate.

Now, to answer the obvious question I’ve neglected thus far:  What is an aromatic wine?  Wines that are considered ‘aromatic’ exhibit an intense nose, or fragrance, of flowers, fruit, and spices that come from the grape itself, Vinification, by contrast, or the winemaker’s tinkering, produces what we call the bouquet rather than the aroma of the wine.  The bouquet of a Syrah might exhibit characteristics of vanilla and smoke from the oak barrels it is aged in, for example, and its aroma might show luscious black fruit and white pepper.

Some wine varieties (or grapes) considered aromatic are Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat, and Pinot Blanc, although wines from these grapes do not always exhibit the intense nose characteristic of an aromatic wine, and sometimes wines can be aromatic even if they’re not made from grapes that are typically considered ‘aromatic.’

The wines I poured on Sunday, however, were all exceptional examples of aromatic wines, and perfect for welcoming the spring season, with their bright aromas of fresh fruit and flowers. Continue reading

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

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

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.


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

sources:
http://www.bodegadeldesierto.com/

http://www.vinacobos.com/
http://www.paulhobbs.com/
http://www.erobertparker.com/
http://www.winetastetv.com/

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.

new feature: vino faq

30 Jan
blind-glass1

questions like: "what the hell is with the black glass?"

I’ve added a new feature to the blog: VINO FAQ
Here’s how it works: send me your wine questions and I’ll post answers on my new page VINO FAQ.  As it grows, it will become a great resource for everyone looking for straightforward answers to their wine queries.  So the more questions you send, the more useful the feature becomes. So ask away:  beginner or wine pro, I’ll find what you need to know.
Grapes, regions, styles, service or food pairings, I’ll give you the goods. Cheers!
~ Joe

send questions to vinovalore@gmail.com