Tag Archives: okanagan

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.


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

Reviewed: Foxtrot Chardonnay (2008)

24 Aug

Foxtrot Vineyards' label - art by Michael Halbert

Foxtrot Vineyards' label - art by Michael Halbert

Foxtrot Vineyards’ first-ever Chardonnay is from the 2008 vintage.  Grapes are sourced from two Naramata vineyards, one 35 years old (85%) and the other 5 years old (15%).  The nose is ripe and intense, with lots of apple and pear on the nose and distinct smoky, meaty notes, plus mineral, yeast and iodine. The rich palate has nice viscosity, subtle vanilla-oak and plenty of lemony acidity.  Among the very best BC Chardonnays I’ve tasted and possibly the most Burgundian of all. Superb first effort. 93 points

In three vintages, Swedish-born Torsten Allander and winemaking-son Gustav have established themselves as ultra-premium Pinot Noir specialists from Foxtrot’s tiny 3.5-acre Naramata vineyard.

Foxtrot Vineyards Chardonnay 2008 $54.99 Everything Wine
Foxtrot Vineyards Pinot Noir 2006 $60.99 Everything Wine

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!

Soaring Eagle Pinot Noir (2005)

11 May


Holman Lang Wineries
Soaring Eagle Estate Winery
Pinot Noir 2005
VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
$21.90 Winery Direct (current release: 2007 vintage)

Suprisingly saturated colour for a Pinot Noir with a warm, dark cherry-red hue. The nose is richer than expected, too, with spicy plum, black cherry, and earth notes. The palate is reminiscent of a recently-tasted Sonoma Pinot: rich and warm with dried berry, cherry preserve, fruitcake, chocolate and coffee. Still, the fruit and acid are unmistakably BC, and are nicely complemented by soft tannins and creamy vanilla oak. An unusually full and round Pinot that will satisfy the red drinker who usually favours BC Merlot, Chilean Carmenere or even an Argentine Malbec. 89 points

Best Pinot Noir
Okanagan Wine Festival 22
nd Annual Peoples Choice Awards, 2006.

Day 2: the wine developed mature aromas of mineral and herbs. The palate became richer and reminiscent of mature Aussie Shiraz, with chocolate, black fruits, smoke and mint. I must re-state the suprising richness of this humble BC Pinot Noir. Stellar value. I truly hope that future vintages offer similar quality.

Soaring Eagle wines are produced from hand selected bunches of grapes grown on the Naramata Bench. This is truly single-vineyard, low-yield production, ensuring the best possible quality in the bottle. Soaring Eagle resides in one of the most picturesque locations on the Naramata Bench and will certainly become known for the rare scenic beauty of its surroundings.

Winemaker Bernhard Schirrmeister has created a riper, fuller style of wine using later harvesting, barrel ageing and lees contact to enhance but not to interfere with what nature provides.


Elephant Island Cherry Wine

5 May


Elephant Island Orchard Winescherry
Cherry 2006
Naramata Bench, BC
$16, Winery Direct

Brick-cherry red in the glass. The nose is somewhat austere, with dried red berry, leather, earth and spice. The cherries come through more on the palate, which is rich and just off-dry with strawberry preserve, black cherry, cola and mint. A very pleasant wine that would be well-suited to slightly spicy bean-based dishes, Mediterranean tapas or pork tenderloin. Elephant Island’s Bordeaux-trained winemaker, Christine Leroux, makes fine “traditional” wines from fruit other than grapes. 88 points – Great value

V I N O | V A L O R E {issue 6}

20 Mar
The 2008 releases from JoieFarm are out now, but won't last long!

The 2008 releases from JoieFarm are out now, but won't last long!

download issue 6.pdf

Issue six of vino valore is all-BC. I was lucky enough to taste a selection of the 2008 offerings from JoieFarm recently, and I’ve summed up that tasting for you. I’ve also included a few BC Best Buys from recent tastings. Spring is here: time for some fresh local wines. Cheers!

~Joe Corkscrew

download issue 6.pdf

please note, issue six is extra long!  print on legal sheet.

V I N O | V A L O R E {issue 4}

20 Feb

in this issue: Domaine Gauby Cotes du Rousillon Rouges 2006 - 90 points

download issue 4.pdf

Issue four is the biggest vino valore yet, with seven great wines reviewed and a report from the first IVSA tasting of the new year. Cheers!

~Joe Corkscrew

download issue 4.pdf

Cellar Selection: Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Shiraz 2004

31 Jan

Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Shiraz 2004mhferes06_shiraz
VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

$21.99 (current vintage) widely available in BC

I pulled the ’04 Mission Hill Shiraz from my collection to see how some mid-term cellaring affected a good-quality BC Shiraz. The appearance shows a bit of age, with a wide clear meniscus and a brick-cherry colour, faded from its original purple-black. The nose is mature too, with rich, soft aromas of dried berries, vanilla, smoke, leather and tar. The medium-bodied palate, however, is still bright and youthful, with red plum, raspberry, black pepper, licorice and pickling spice. It opened up in the glass, revealing a softer, sweeter side, with cherry pie, cinnanmon and caramel, but the fresh acidity remained. Great example of the fruity, Okanagan-style Shiraz; a grape that’s not easy to pull off in BC. 88 points – Very Good

Four More Whites

22 Jan

Church and State Wines Viognier 2007church-and-state
VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
$24.90 Winery Direct

Beautiful and intensely floral nose followed by a creamy peach palate. Some malolactic fermentation adds to the richness. Best BC Viognier I’ve tasted to date. Former Burrowing Owl winemaker Bill Dyer has contributed to a greatly improved portfolio at Church and State, now boasting an impressive range of primarily Okanagan-grown offerings. 89 points – Very Good

Anakena Single Vineyard Riesling 2006
Maule Valley, Chile
$16.99 Everything Wine

Nice concentration and Riesling character, with lime, honey, petrol and crisp acidity. A touch of alcoholic heat and an abrubt finish. 84 points – OK

Domaine de Chaberton Estate Winery Pinot Gris 2007
VQA British Columbia
$16.49 Winery Direct

A bright, fruity nose with peach and honey aromas. The palate is crisp and simple, but pleasant. 84 points – OK

Henry’s Drive Vignerons Pillar Box White 2006
Padthaway, Australia
$13.99 Everything Wine, BC Liquor Stores (delisted)

A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdelho. Recently reduced from $16.99 and all but sold out in BC. Granny Smith apple, citrus and spicy oak. Not a bad little white for the (new) price, but not really worth seeking out. 82 points – OK