Tag Archives: VQA

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


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

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.


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

Cellar Selection: Hillside Estate Reserve Merlot (2004)

8 Jan


Hillside Estate

Reserve Series Merlot 2004

VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

$29.99 Winery Direct (2006 release price)

Deep cherry-red in colour with a slight brick tint. Intense aromas of chocolate covered cherries, cola, licorice and gingerbread. Rich mouthfeel with fruit leather, earth, pepper, clove spice and vanilla oak. Bright acidity and long, drying tannins keep this wine going and going. It has the potential for a few more years in the bottle, but 2009 may be this wine’s peak year. Exceptional BC Merlot. 89 points – Very Good