Pretty Pink Rosé – a summer essential

From pale pink to dusty rose, rosé wine can be a perfect patio summer sipper. 

With warmer weather and summer just around the corner it’s nice to have a rosé on hand for unexpected guests. There are so many varieties to choose from and so many wineries now offering rosé which makes it difficult to choose.  So why not go to the source.  Here is a little bit about rosé which can be anything but blasé from where it all began – Provence, France.

About Wines of Provence:  

Provence is the oldest French wine region and Rosé is the oldest known wine. The region has a rich Rosé tradition (over 2600 years long), and winemakers today are the beneficiaries of the region’s collective knowledge and time-honoured techniques.

Since Rosé is a delicate wine and one of the most difficult to produce with success, these long-established traditions remain entirely relevant. The area’s deep-rooted Rosé culture goes a long way toward explaining why the world’s best Rosés still come from Provence.

A Rosé wine can be made from red or white grape varietals, but most commonly red. Traditionally, the skins of a red grape have brief contact (2-20 hours) with the grape juice but not enough to impart the colour or tannins that would qualify it as a red wine. Provence Rosés are fresh, delicious and affordable.  Find out more at  www.vinsdeprovence.com/en/

Do you have a favourite?

 

Advertisements

Food + Wine: Chef Meets BC Grape

One of my favourite food/wine events is taking place this Thursday in Vancouver. Highlighting all things grown, crushed, raised and produced in British Columbia. Taste creations prepared by top chefs from Vancouver’s hottest restaurants, all perfectly paired with BC VQA wines to enhance the flavours of each dish and wine.

Tell me more…

It’s only the largest tasting of BC VQA wines in Western Canada.
Sip from 350+ BC wines and savour small plates from 15 top chefs.
Visit Chef Ned Bell’s Ocean Wise Bubbles & Seafood station.

One ticket. One amazing evening!

Thursday, May 25
7:00 pm
Vancouver Convention Centre East
999 Canada Place

Link for participating wineries:

https://www.chefmeetsbcgrape.com/wineries-vancouver/

Link for participating restaurants and chefs:

https://www.chefmeetsbcgrape.com/restaurants-vancouver/

Purchase tickets ($90.00 per person) here:

https://www.chefmeetsbcgrape.com/tickets/

Meet you there!

 

Feel-good Friday: FUN

Highlight of my week in photos:

Starting with…forblog24

On the ferry ride over to Victoria we were lucky and so delighted to spot from a distance a pod of Orcas – not once, but twice!

Church + State Vineyards
Church + State Vineyards

We were joined by others for tastings and a great outdoor lunch with a view at Church & State Wines:1445 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay, BC.  Then off to…

De Vine Vineyards6181B Old West Saanich Rd, Saanichton, BC.

Simply Devine
Simply De vine
Sitting on the grass outside
On the grass outside winery wearing my gingham picnic shoes.  Aren’t they cute.. or at least quaint?

forblog5

A frog hopped on my skirt, looked me in the eye and asked for a kiss.  I’m sorry little froggy but I already have my prince.  You’ll have to jump on someone else.forblog6

We went via private boat to stay at this Rustic  Oceanfront Cottage on a remote Gulf Island.forblog27

Cruising by Moonlight (this photo does not compare to how gorgeous it actually was). The night before the moon was red & I could not capture its incredible brilliance.forblog7

I heard scratching at the door around midnight.  Turns out it was the next door neighbour.  He was cute so I let him in and he made himself at home…right next to me in bed.forblog15

I woke up to this.  Unfortunately my little friend went home shortly after sunrise.  Guess he just wanted a warm body to curl up with.forblog12

Everyone seems to enjoy themselves when they have the freedom to do exactly as they please…..or just enjoy the peace and quiet.forblog13

And nature on the island.  Looking towards the beach with 4 deer and 2 fawns.

forblog8

This is grocery shopping island style at the local Sunday market.  The honour system is alive and well and besides everyone knows where you live.forblog16

But I picked these myself –  literally from several different trees.forblog19Then it was off camping in an even more rustic fashion.  I can’t pretend it was glamping.  At least by gorgeous waterfalls and lots of hiking trails.  No time to makeup.
forblog28We bathed in this calm crystal clear river.

?

More island shopping at Coombs Old Country Market (they have everything you can imagine) even goats up on the roof.forblog18

This one is saying “p…. off”forblog23Then a visit with my one & only sis on return with me sitting and her lying down on her lovely deck with a fluffy friend named Rufus – a lambadoodle.forblog22

She gifted me with tickets to Gwen Stefani last night at Rogers Arena.  My friend and I & millions of millennials among us really enjoyed the energy in that stadium.  Gwen is not even real – at 46 she rocks in every single capacity!  My friend asked “where have we gone wrong?

The week is still going strong!

Photos: d. king

 

Food+Drink: Italian Days 

Land of Art, Charm, History, Tradition and Wonderful Wines.

Italian Days on the Drive
Italian Days on the Drive.  Photo: d. king

rosesauce2rosesauce3For three days in a row I enjoyed little Italian touches and some major ones, not in a physical sense but in other gratifying ways.

I made a typical Italian Rosé Sauce on Saturday.  The kind I’ve been craving for ages; nicely rich & full of flavour.  Simple and satisfying.

Because I wasn’t sure if I’d be eating
Italian on “Italian Days” the following day, Sunday.  They have Italian Days in many cities across North America where they close the streets to traffic, put up white tents to sell odds ‘n ends by storefronts, have staged live music, many food vendors and crowds where you can hardly walk without bumping into someone and wait in line forever to get something you can normally get on any other given day.  Anyway, in Vancouver it took place on Commercial Drive (aka “the Drive” on the East side of town ) in what used to be a mainly Italian neighbourhood but now houses an International variety of cuisine.  I think I did notice a few Italians here and there but most of them probably left for the day. It was fun for a few hours especially from where I sat, comfortably under a heat lamp on a side street enjoying a glass of wine while watching the passersby and a plate of calamari. The real Italians were elsewhere, sitting inside one of the many Cafés sipping espresso.

italiandays3italiandays2

Then yesterday (Monday) I spent part of the afternoon at the Vancouver Club with real Italians flown in fresh from Italy especially to educate the trade about the wonderful ancient wine growing regions for Prosecco & Valpolicella and of course to promote the wines.

A short history of Old World Wine Country:

italiandays10The VALPOLICELLA territory has ancient origins, natural beauty and artistic value.  In Roman times it was known for its fascinating landscape and its tranquility.  Ancient palaces and noble villas are among the most attractive historical monuments in the area.  During the rule of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, large land tenures were established: country houses turned into splendid villas, decorated by the best artists of that period, and became the place where aristocracy and intellectuals had their cultural gatherings.  There are architectural jewels in the valley of Valpantena. Rural and town churches are spread all over the territory, enriching Valpolicella building panorama, made of small villages, courts, towers, capitals, fountains and dry stone walls.  All these monuments were built by local peasants, whose technical mastery turned country labour into ART.italiandays11Valpolicella “Superiore” is made from selected grapes grown in the best locations. It is aged for a year minimum thus obtaining its characteristic ruby-red colour with garnet shades; the nose is slightly ethereal with hints of vanilla.  Its flavour fine, harmonious, dry and velvety.  Especially fine when paired with second courses of red meat and medium seasoned cheeses.

Prosecco: not just a name.

chilled Prosecco bottles
chilled Prosecco bottles

Prosecco with friends: when I have a special occasion (which almost everything is a special occasion) I like to start the evening off with an Italian Prosecco. I never think too much about it, just that I like a nice tasting, tall cool glass of bubbly.  But now I know a bit more about Prosecco Superiore and realize the refinement of the region it comes from. Apparently it makes a difference between various types of soil, climate and the skill of men (yes, men) who have passed down the art of their hand-crafted labour from one generation to the next. It is thanks to this experience that they can cultivate the steep slopes of the hills that they have adorned with manicured vineyards, creating an environment so spectacular that it is now a candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  So there is a “Superiore” for every occasion in three versions that vary in their residual sugar content. Brut, the driest style, Extra Dry, the most traditional version, and  Dry.  The sparkling wine also differs according to where it comes from within the region.  So the best advice I can give is to try them all and find out which one(s) you love best.

Amarone Amore:

(ps: the individual bottles shown in photos are my picks for this week)italiandays5

Amarone Wine: The Patriarch of Valpolicella
italiandays6amarone3Many wine lovers know Amarone on a first name basis, though relatively few are personally acquainted. This is most likely due to the high entrance fee. Perhaps you’ve seen him lingering at the bottom of a wine list next to other recognizable stars such as Brunello di Montalcino or Barolo and wondered:italiandays9

What is the story on this dude? Is he worth it?

Yes.  Amarone is worth the minimum $50-$60 ++ bottle price. While some wine prices are artificially inflated, there’s a practical explanation as to why Amarone is one of Italy’s top red wines. – and one of mine too.  It comes with a good story: To tell it properly, we must begin at the end, with Amarone’s family name: Valpolicella. Like Romeo and Juliet – it is in fair Verona where we lay our scene…

Verona is a jewel of a city in northeastern Italy, an hour and a half due east of Venice by car. The town is home to an immaculate, picture-perfect medieval center, as well as one of the most untouched Roman amphitheaters in the world, where concerts and events are still held.amarone4amarone2

The 5 Levels of Valpolicella Wine

  • Tier 1:Valpolicella Classico
  • Tier 2:Valpolicella Superiore
  • Tier 3:Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso
  • Tier 4:Amarone della Valpolicella
  • Tier 5:Recioto della Valpolicella

amarone1amaroneWhy is Amarone Wine so Expensive?

After harvesting the grapes for ‘Tier 1’ Valpolicella Classico, they are immediately crushed and fermented. This is a light, high acid red wine; it generally sees no oak aging and provides a perfect match for the traditional local appetizers.  In Verona, everything tastes  amazing when accompanied by delicious Valpolicella.

By contrast, the fruit destined to become Amarone takes quite a different journey before reaching the bottle. He is, after all, the family Patriarch – most wineries will select their older, more mature vines for this wine. Grapes are picked a bit later to ensure ripeness – usually in mid-October. Then, they are left all winter to dry into raisins.

What goes into Amarone:

  • 2x as many grapes as normal wine
  • 45+ day slow fermentations
  • Long term aging at winery (similar to Rioja)
  • Expect to spend $50-$80

Viva Italia!

Photos: d. king

Source for Amarone: Winefolly.com

 

 

 

 

 

Feel-good Friday: feeling good all week

 My Week started off with an invite to the annual California Wine Fair presented by Vancouver Arts Club.  Followed by dancing…and more drinking….and dancing (but no driving).

Couldn't decide between the lime or fruit punch Jarritos (Mexican soft drink which may have included a bit of Tequila) while my handsome date prefered to stick with refreshing Dos Equis XX beer.
Couldn’t decide between the lime or the fruit punch Jarritos at Joe Fortes (Mexican soft drink which may have included a little Tequila) while my handsome date standing behind me prefered to stick with a bottle of refreshing Dos Equis XX beer.    Photo: Claude Duke Photography

It is their signature spring fundraiser where all proceeds from ticket sales and auction packages go toward the development of new Canadian plays and staging world-class theatre created by local artists.  I’m already familiar with many of the wineries from having visited them on several occasions around the beautiful Napa and Sonoma wine regions. Some of the properties are really amazing.  One winery is a chateau that looks more like a castle and the Francis Ford Coppola estate winery is very Hollywood glamour.  They’re fun to visit and of course, sample some fine tasting wines.

From the Wine Fair
From the California Wine Fair....in Vancouver photo: d. king

The very next afternoon it was off to the Tequila Expo Media Event at Joe Fortes rooftop deck with some of the world’s finest and smoothest tasting tequilas, excellent food, great company & conversation.  This was my second time around and it was thoroughly enjoyable especially since the day was so lovely.

The actual event will take place Saturday, May 28th at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

From the Rooftop at Joe Fortes. Photo: d. king
From the Rooftop at Joe Fortes.  Photo: d. king

The celebration of all things Agave is open to connoisseurs and those who enjoy tequila in general with exclusive offerings not yet available in BC.

We’re pleased to be the largest event of our kind in Canada”, says founding partner Manuel Otero, President of the Mexican Business Association of Canada. “As a dual citizen of Mexico and Canada, I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this event that celebrates the best of Mexico by introducing Vancouverites to an amazing range of unique Mexican flavours – both culinary and spirits based.” The full week of events runs from May 23 to May 28.  The Grand Tasting Event at the Hyatt features top Vancouver restaurants offering unique small bite food pairings created specifically to pair with Tequila and Mezcal.

Featured restaurants are The Edge Social Grille & Lounge, El Santo, Joe Fortes, La Mezcaleria, Las Margaritas, Mosaic Bar & Grille and Showcase Restaurant.

New this year! Ticket purchasers will be entered to win a fantastic trip for two to Puerto Vallarta. AeroMexico, the premier airline of Mexico, is generously providing direct flights from Vancouver. The winner’s stay will be hosted by Velas Vallarta and Casa velas. Tickets are now on sale through Tickets Tonight. Single tickets are $79, with a group rate available for only $69 each for groups of 6 or more.  All prices include service charges.

And, as if all that wasn’t enough.. the very next day I got to feeling even more light headed.

Hair by Safa - Enchanté Hair by Design. http://enchantehair.com
Hair by SafaEnchanté Hair by Design.
http://enchantehair.ca

What am I up to this evening? A Tango 10-year Anniversary Celebration Milonga on the Drive.

joefortes5

SALUT!    Enjoy your weekend

Food + Wine Crush

Fresh, Pure, Clean, Local, Love

The certified organic four-hectare (nice acres) Switchback Vineyard is home to sheep, chickens and ducks.
The certified organic four-hectare (9 acres) Switchback Vineyard is home to sheep, chickens and ducks, each playing their role in maintaining a healthy site.

I love afternoons like the one I just spent on a rainy Friday at Granville Island’s Edible Artisan Bistro.  I was one of a lucky few invited to sample the launch of premium new earth friendly wines from Okanagan Crush Pad, Haywire and Edible Canada’s new private label along with elegant food pairings inspired by the wines and seasonal goodies offered by Eric Pateman’s culinary team at Edible Canada.crush10crush7

This was fittingly done on earth day where those in attendance celebrated and toasted BC’s natural & sustainable bounty as we were introduced to the winery’s first wine crafted from certified organic grapes: Haywire Switchback Organic Vineyard Pinot Gris 2014, Narrative XC Method, a charmat sparkling wine and Edible Canada’s appropriately named new private label, Market Fresh.  A totally inspiring afternoon along with like-minded people who love to savour the new and unexpected.crush3

Already familiar with Okanagan Crush Pad wines (they supply the dinner wine for the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) yearly fundraising gala of which I’m a committee member), it was nice to finally meet the owners in person and get to try something fresh and different. I like their approach to wine making.

lovely servers
lovely servers
Asparagus coulis
Asparagus coulis

Located in Summerland, B.C., Okanagan Crush Pad is quickly gaining a reputation as a game changer crafting wines that tell a story of a very unique wine growing region; a rare place that offers both desert landscape and snow.  If you’re visiting British Columbia you should add the Okanagan to your list of places to visit even if you don’t drink wine.crush4crush2crush6

Their story:

From a small vineyard project in 2006, Okanagan Crush Pad has grown to become a recognized leader in Canada’s Okanagan.  The winery was created in 2011, as a shared workspace for vintners and is also home to Haywire and Narrative. Owners Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie have assembled a team with global experience: chief winemaker Matt Dumayne, a New Zealand native; Italian consultant Alberto Antonini; Chilean, Pedro Parra, and, Vancouver-based David Scholefield.

The team farms organically, seeks biodiversity, and respects the land with the purpose of allowing the unique terroir of Canada’s Okanagan to shine.  Time-honoured winemaking techniques are used, benefitted by the most advanced technology, and adhering to a “less is more” philosophy.  They use organically grown grapes, native yeasts for fermentation, no additives and zero to minimal SO2.

And their wines taste so good!

Photos: d. king (except for the vineyard photo compilation at very top)

Crush Pad Website: http://okanagancrushpad.com

At Edible Canada you’ll find some unusual tasty tidbits like:

Not just for monkeys
Not just for monkeys – designer peanut butters
designer salts
designer salts
designer chocolate inspired by Vancouver neighbourhoods
designer chocolate inspired by popular Vancouver neighbourhoods

About Edible Canada: locals and visitors, professional chefs and passionate foodies congregate to experience the best in BC and Canadian cuisine. With more than 12 million visitors a year, Granville Island is truly one of the top public markets anywhere in the world, and Edible Canada is proud to be a key part of its vibrant, dynamic setting.

As Canada’s largest culinary tourism and locavore retail company, Edible Canada is dedicated to sourcing the highest quality culinary products from coast to coast for their customers.

Website: http://ediblecanada.com

 

Addition: WHAT’S HAPPENING VANCOUVER? 

We know Tequila loves you, but if you love Tequila here’s an event not to be missed:

The 5th Vancouver International Tequila Expo: Grand tasting (with food) takes place Saturday, May 28th at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Burrard.  To Purchase Tickets for this and other tequila foodie events please visit:

https://ticketstonight.ticketforce.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=3173

I will attend a media reception this afternoon at Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House.  I’m looking forward as last year’s gathering was tons of fun. Casa Amigos…here I come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food & Wine: Secret Location and Wines of Portugal – a perfect pair!

A good but blurry beginning to the start of this week as I was invited to a media event at Secret Location in Vancouver’s trendy Gastown district.

Pouring Port
Pouring Port

A MASTER CLASS! The event was to promote and educate those in the room about the different wines of Portugal.  And I never miss an opportunity to drink learn more.secret8

Secret Location is a concept store that offers thought-provoking fashion and food. They’ve covered all their bases.  They describe themselves as one part lifestyle boutique, one part restaurant.  The elegantly prepared food was excellent along with the wine pairing accompaniments. Cheers to the chef!

A little lingering & mingling at the end
A  lingering, mingling finish

In short: get these people liquored up, fed well and maybe they’ll write something nice.  In all fairness it was a very enjoyable afternoon sitting at a fun table with exceptional food, pleasurable wines, and an informative presentation by Marta, the lovely sommelier. It’s interesting to find out how the grapes are selected, harvested and then fermented to obtain the desired body and structure – a caring, lengthy process.  Well done.

We sampled 7 wines and a port.  Of course we all expected nothing less than greatness from the Port, but we were a bit unsure of the wines because many people are only familiar with the pretty in pink bottle called Mateus (remember, we all drank this when younger) which has been around forever.  I have a somewhat funny but embarrassing Mateus story to share at the end. secret9 “I get juiced on Mateus and just hang loose. – lyrics from Elton John’s “Social Disease”

 Hey, I think they’ve improved it over the years.

The thing to note is that Portugal has less grapes than other European wine growing regions but they have some special ones, notably the Touriga grape which is used to make port – that’s why they’re famous for producing the finest port known to man.

In short, the wines were very drinkable and were superb with the food pairings. The price points are excellent.  All cost under $20 including the Port.   If you haven’t tried any of them, I recommend doing so for a change.

Of special note:

Periquita Reserva 2012 – a soft & balanced red with medium/long finish. $15.79      Quinta do Crasto Douro Doc 2013 – a fresh on the nose red with intense berry fruit aromas and elegant floral notes. $17.49

There is a lot to note about each particular wine we tested so the best thing is to write all the pairings with a short tasting note on each.

Arrival – chive & shallots bun, squid ink and dill bun, whey dressing and parsley oil.    Wine Pairing: Casal Garcia Branco – Vinho Verde (smooth, fresh, delicate, fruity, young).

Aperatif
Aperitif

Aperitif – grilled octopus with celery hearts, fingerling potatoes, crispy wheat berry, lemon dressing.   Wine Pairing: Mateus Rosé Original (it brought a smile to my face)

Appetizer – duck sausage, slowly poached egg, local carrots, black truffle puree.  Wine Pairings (yes, two for this one): Vale Do Bomfim – Douro Red (fresh fruits, plum and blackberries, full bodied, fresh, good balance, length and finish) & Periquita Reserva Vinho Regional Red (intense ruby, vanilla, coffee, cassis, blueberries).

Appetizer
Appetizer
Main
Main

Main – stout braised bison short ribs, caramelized onion, parsnip puree.  Wine Pairings (again, two): Duas Quintas – Douro Red (flavourful, concentrated, elegant, silky, long finish) & Cresto, Quinta do Crasto – Douro Red (elegant, balanced, well-structured on the palate, lingering finish).

Dessert
Dessert

Dessert – chocolate & sour cherry dense chocolate cake, sour cream ice cream. Wine Pairing: Pedra Cancela Seleccao de Enologo – Dao Red (not your typical dessert wine but given the intensity of the dessert it was surprisingly perfect) Intense red fruit, ripe plum and hints of cacao, final taste is very soft, nice and long.

Wait…it’s not over just yet.  Finally a local cheese platter (Smits & Co. aged gouda, Kootenay cheese company Nostrella, Farm House goat pyramid, Salt Spring Island Cheese Company Romelia paired with Sandeman Porto Ruby – Port Wine (brilliant ruby colour, full rich flavours of fresh plums and red fruits, very well balanced.

I forgot the fruit plate
I forgot about the fruit plate.  I forgot about everything else I had to do today.
Local Cheese Platter
Local Cheese Sampling

And that was the end of my day!  It was only 3:30 p.m. (it might as well have been a.m.)

there was a lineup at the bar
there was a lineup at the bar

My Mateus story: when I lived in Montreal my BFF (at the time) and I were friends with a music promoter and he gave us tickets to some shows and then we got to go backstage and meet the musicians and sometimes hang out (it must be noted we were not groupies in any way, shape or form – they disgusted us). One evening we were invited to after party with a very famous singer (I won’t say who) and he said something about liking Portuguese wine…so the very next day we decided to send him a bottle of Mateus tied with a ribbon and a note that we enjoyed the concert and the visit.  We were not so wine savvy and that was the only Portuguese wine we knew of.  We may not have impressed him but I’m sure it brought a smile to his face.  We meant well.  We didn’t break the bank either. We were young. 

when it rains they pour
when it rains they pour – cool lampshade

Do you have a favourite wine from Portugal?

Photos: d. king

Food & Wine – Baccano and Culmina

New Restaurant & Winery Review:20150718_173950Sometimes it’s nice to be among the first to try a new restaurant and sometimes it’s best to wait because they’re still ironing out the kinks. The latter wasn’t the case with the new Italian restaurant Baccano Osteria which was formerly known as “Smoking Dog.” The evening went very smoothly and the friendly service was excellent even if my server didn’t know all the pasta shapes I kept asking about from the menu.  I was among the first people to show up for their soft opening last Saturday having spent the last few months walking by on my way to the gym, talking to owners (Cal & Patrick Corsi of Quattro) and observing their day to day progress.  And anxious to try a good casual Italian place in my Kitsilano neighbourhood with an inviting outdoor space.  Here is what we ordered:

A glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to start (not very Italian but it was hot out).

The bread is made on site and because of that it’s very fresh, nice & crusty.

20150718_180734Jumping ahead to Secondi: Garganelli Spinci with swiss chard, spinach, shallot, butter, pecorino pepate, bread crumbs (very Italian, rich and satisfying).  I would order this one again.

Also tried Due di Maiale – Citrus scented pork belly & grilled pork loin with crispy pancetta, spring peas, faro and pork demi. The belly was more tender and it was a good dish if you love pork but I was not totally crazy about the veggies because I don’t love peas.20150718_185409

Dessert: I had a tough time making up my mind between 3 out of 4 desserts on the menu. I ended up going with Torta al Cioccolato (translation – Chocolate Torte, ha).  Dark chocolate mousse, amarena cherries, licorice creameaux (this sounds more French), panettone cake.   I like this better than regular chocolate mousse because it is a lot denser. In short – rich and decadent – just the way I like it!  I promised to be back before too long and I will keep my promise. Plus, I have to try the other three desserts.

A short while before dinner:

I had the opportunity to try a special wine tasting at Village Wines (a few doors away).  Don Triggs of “THE Jackson Triggs” was pouring wines from his new winery Culmina which is located in Oliver, British Columbia in the Okanagan wine region.

Don holds up the bottle of R&D (for Ron & Don)
Don holds up a bottle of R&D

With a little help from famous winemaker Pascal Madevon (of Osoyoos Larose fame), Triggs has placed an emphasis on pure quality with these wines. The label is already picking up accolades left and right and already selling like crazy.  Legendary tastings such as this one only happen once in a blue moon. He has a lot of stories as you can only imagine and was going fishing after the tasting with his twin brother Ron (on the R&D wine label with him – looks like photo was taken a few years ago).

Here is what we sampled:

Decora – Decora, which by the way is latin for pretty, accurately summarizes this straight Riesling. Perfectly balancing soft acidity with bold, bright fruit flavour, it’s a work of art.

Saignee – Sure, this is a delicious dry Rosé, blended from Bordeaux varietals and displaying unprecedented complexity, but what’s got people talking is its glass cork. Is a cork still called a cork if it’s not made of cork? Focus! This is Culmina’s hottest seller so far, and it’s easy to see why.

R&D – We trust Don Triggs with a big red blend, so we were excited to try this one, which wasn’t around for Culmina’s first vintage. A little more casual in its presentation, it’s Merlot-dominant, rich but smooth.  I purchased a bottle.

Hypothesis – This Meritage is one of the many reasons we trust Don with a big red blend! Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon are handled perfectly here, bringing out as much fruit and spice as possible while remaining finely tannic. In other words, is about as good as a BC red gets.

What a wonderful ending to a sunny Saturday after a nice bike ride over to Folk Fest.  Love days like this.

Baccano Osteria: 1889 West 1st Ave. (at Cypress) PH: 778-379-6920

http://www.baccano-osteria.com/

Culmina Family Estate Wineryhttp://www.culmina.ca/

To purchase in Vancouver: Village VQA Wines – 1811 West 1st Ave. PH: 604-732-8827

Food & Wine – California Wine Fair

“I wish they all could be California Wines”

To SIP and to SAVOUR
To SIP and to SAVOUR

The 35th annual California Wine Fair Ballroom Tasting is the largest tasting of its kind in Vancouver.  I attended “The Arts Club” hosted event (in partnership with the Wine Institute of California) last night from what I can recall at the Vancouver Convention Centre.  This was one of three California wine-inspired fundraisers taking place this month.

The Prisoner - a favourite
A rep holds up The Prisoner – a favourite

As much as I would have like to, I couldn’t possibly have sampled all of the 350 wines from over 100 highly-regarded wineries that participated.  I might have managed about half of that.  Among the classic labels with interesting vintages, there were new favourites from an abundance of family run and boutique operations.winefair2

One of particular interest is Dancing Coyote, a family owned & operated old-world style vineyard located in a beautiful stretch of land in California’s Clarksburg appellation.  They’ve been farming in the Delta region along the Sacramento River for five generations. They make a wonderul Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah.

I really enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Vineyard Inc.  No wonder, as their Director of Export explained to me that they were the very first winery to plant the grapes in the Dry Creek Valley area, in 1972.  The Cabernet Sauvignon is excellent too.

Chateau St. Jean is a winery that is known for always producing exceptional wines.  An interesting tidbit: their winemaker, Margo Van Staaveren was the first woman to win winemaker of the year in 2010 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine which helped to put Sonoma on the map.

Forgive me if I've Zinned too much lately
I’ve Zinned & loved it!

While I don’t discriminate against any great wine growing region, I have a special affinity for these wines because of having been to many of the vineyards while traveling through California. Places like Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Monterey, Lodi & Temecula.   I can tell you one thing, the choices are getting broader for which wines will go with which dishes. I also love hearing the stories about how the wineries got their names.

These wine makers work with great care and passion to product wonderful vintages which keep getting better and better.  All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable sipping and mingling evening.  I hope to attend again next year.

Have you been?

Lifestyle/Sommelier 101:  a crash-course on the ART of wine.

Don’t know your Sauvignon from your Sangiovese?

Via HarpersBazaar.co.uk
Via HarpersBazaar.co.uk

If you don’t know your Pinot Blanc from your Pinot Noir then you should definitely be ashamed of yourself and you probably flunked French.

You cannot become a wine expert overnight but you can find out how to get the most from your Merlot and a few other tips…because most of us (I said ‘most’) don’t know everything!  However, SOMM of us have the answers for everything wine.

I watched a captivating documentary called SOMM that was about the taxing process and tireless attempts on how to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world. Put it this way, it seems much easier to become a lawyer.  This is a different BAR exam. Luckily the movie theatre I watched it in had a wine list.

Great Doc!
Great Doc!

Between trying to remember ‘that one you had last time that you really liked’ (not to mention that one that you really didn’t), and not wanting to reveal your utter confusion over the different varieties of grape, region or age on offer, it’s little wonder so many of us just give up trying to choose a wine and opt either for the house or a fail-safe favourite.  How very boring!

Here is advice from Jane Parkinson, resident wine expert on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen, on how to appear sommelier- like and impress those at the dinner table:

Hold a wine glass by its stem (providing it has a stem of course). It prevents the wine from warming up too quickly by the heat of your hands.

Know your regions from your grapes. Chablis is chardonnay; Sancerre is sauvignon blanc; Soave is garganega (white Italian wine grape); Burgundy (red) is pinot noir; Rioja is tempranillo; Bordeaux (red) is cabernet sauvignon and merlot; Chianti is sangiovese.

Be brave about chilling red wine. Serving wine at room temperature was advice given pre-central heating, which means today’s reds are generally served too warm.  I generally prefer my reds at room temperature and my whites cold, but the correct way to serve whites is not by being too-cold because you don’t get to experience the true essence.

Get to know the on-trend wine regions. These include Swartland in South Africa, the Etna region of Sicily, the Douro Valley in Portugal and, for sparkling wine, England.

An appetite-whetting Sherry is a great alternative to fizz as an aperitif. Fino and manzanilla are the two sherry styles that are zesty, fresh and always bone dry.

Avoid heavily tannic (chewy) red wine with spicy food because they clash. Instead choose wines that are unoaked and/or made with a low-tannin grape, like barbera from Italy.

If in doubt about what to order off a wine list, go for a versatile food-matching grape. Try pinot noir for red, sauvignon blanc for a lighter white or chardonnay for a richer white.

Screwcaps are less romantic than corks, but they’re not inferior or solely for cheaper wines. In fact, they’re perfect for aromatic and vibrant wines, white or red.

There….now you are sommwhat of an expert!  

Exercise is Important
Exercise is Important

Follow my wine boards on PINTEREST:

http://www.pinterest.com/intrigueimports/world-of-wine/

http://www.pinterest.com/intrigueimports/best-of-bc/