I'm going to have to check and see if I've managed to store any additional bottles of this beauty because, snow day or not, I'd look forward to some more. Burrowing Owl , Favourites , Lt. Wednesday, January 12, Seven Stones Chard. I must be pulling wines from a particular box because, without a determined theme or my even noticing a trend, the last three wines that I've opened are all from Boo's and my drive through parts of the Similkameen and Okanagan Valleys on our way to Boo's mom's place in the Kootenays last summer.
We only made quick, run and gun stops at five wineries and the last three wines were all picked up at those stops - Forbidden Fruit, Twisted Tree and, now, Seven Stones. During our last couple of trips from the Kootenays, we'd noticed a new winery sign while driving Highway 3 between Cawston and Osoyoos. We'd never passed by when the winery was open however. This time it was. And lucky for us because - despite being on a tight schedule for time - we had a delightful little visit with one of the owners, Vivianne Hanson.
She was a gracious host and was full of thoroughly entertaining stories about setting up the vineyard and winery. She and her husband, George, may have only opened the winery in , but there a full slate of tales from the years leading up to the initial vintage. It's interesting, for me anyhow, that this first bottle of Seven Stones to be added to The List is a white.
Of the nine wines currently produced at the winery, this is the only white and, while we left with a full case so much for Boo's "No Buy Leash" , we certainly focused on the reds as well. I like the fact that the Hanson's utilize both limited oak and sur lies treatments for their aging and fermentation of the Chardonnay, but I found the wine to be a bit bold for my tastes. It may have been the meal pairing but I think a grilled chicken breast should have matched up nicely.
A second glass, without food, didn't move me any differently. I'm going to look forward to opening one of the reds that we bought though. Hopefully, I'll be able to gush a little more after those sips. Sunday, January 9, A Twisted Tempranillo. According to the back label on this bottle, the name for Twisted Tree winery comes from the "weathered, gnarly cherry trees" that the new winery owners, Chris and Beata Tolley, found on the property when they bought the old fruit farm.
Without knowing that fact, I might have thought that it's kind of "twisted" to find out that the winery is even producing this wine. To continue on a bit from the naming of the winery, when the Tolley's uprooted most of those "twisted trees," they decided NOT to plant the same varietals that most of the other Okanagan wineries were laying out in their vineyards. It didn't mean that they wouldn't make those wines, particularly in the interim years while they waited for their own vines to mature, it just meant that they'd source the more common grapes from other producers in the Valley.
So, instead of planting more of the varietals that we might think of as now becoming traditional to the Okanagan, they planted Tempranillo, Carmenere, Tannat and the white Rhone varietals Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. Although Viognier is making quite a name for itself in the Okanagan, you'd be hard pressed to find more than a handful of other wineries devoting their lands to the other varietals - let alone producing varietal wines with them.
Part of the effort was to see how well suited the new varietals might be to the lands. Twisted Tree released its first vintage of Tempranillo in and, at that, they were the first Okanagan winery to release the varietal. As such, this vintage is still only the second release of Rioja's - and perhaps Spain's - most famous grape. Yet, new to the scene or not, it turned more than a few heads, earning a Double Gold Medal at the All Canadian Wine Championships.
The most unfortunate aspect to the wine is that there were only cases produced. I say "unfortunate" because Boo and I were nicely surprised when we opened it. It was more of a New World take on Tempranillo, having more fruit and freshness than a more traditional Rioja bottle would likely have, but we had no idea what to expect and we were very happy.
One thing I would like to do is try a blind tasting of the wine with a selection of Spanish Tempranillos. That would certainly be interesting and worth another posting. Okanagan , Tempranillo , Uncommon Sources. Saturday, January 8, Another Forbidden Fruit. Ready for another little Forbidden Fruit? We've done some Pear and some Plum, what else is there in that bag of tricks of your's?
Adam, if I've told you once, I've told you Lord how many times. The next one to try is the Apple. Having recently opened one of the winery's new ish grape wines the Sauv Blanc at , I thought it might be worth going back to one of the fruit wines that they are better known for. We were having shrimp and pineapple fried rice and I figured it could handle a fruitier wine - like truly fruitier. The Adam's Apple is actually a blend of six different varieties of apple - all of which are organically grown in the Similkameen Valley. It is also one of only three fruit wines that Forbidden Fruit makes as table wines that tend to a dry finish.
I found it interesting that this was a non-vintage bottling. I seem to recall their table wines as being vintage in the past. I'm not sure what the story is with this bottling. I must admit, however, that when it comes to me and apples, nothing beats the apple juice that Boo's Mom used to press every Fall. You certainly know that this wine is more than reminiscent of apples, but it wasn't as fresh and sweet as pure juice, nor was it as tangy as hard cider.
I think, for me, the winery's strength still lies with its dessert wines. This might just be one apple that may not tempt me enough to get me into more trouble than I generally find myself in now. Friday, January 7, A. It's not too often that we have an Oregon wine on hand to sample. I know that I've droned on, in the past, about how I find American wines just get priced out of the Vancouver market once they cross the border into Canada - unless they're bulk producers.
For that reason, we thoroughly enjoy the opportunity, every so often, to open one of the few bottles that we manage to bring back across the 49th Parallel on those rare occasions that we adventure South of the border. Since I know so little about specific American wineries, I generally ask someone at one of the bigger stores to suggest a couple wines that they feel are from the area and are particularly special. This was one of the bottles that was suggested while Boo and I were in Seattle a couple years back. We figured there must be something to the tip if a Washington state shop was recommending an Oregon wine on their home turf.
I always think of Pinot as a classic match for duck and this one really fit the bill no pun intended. The '02 vintage was still early enough in his migration from California to Oregon for him to find much in the way of Rhone vines that were producing good fruit. His earlier years saw more of a focus on Oregon's normal star - Pinot. I don't know about that, but we loved the wine and the bottle disappeared far too quickly. Too bad I don't think it's all that available up here.
Another trip to the States might be in order. Posted by Bob at 5: Oregon , Pinot Noir. So, I guess it's now time to start zipping through a few postings. That way, I'll at least feel like I'm off to a good start with the recently resolved goal of catching up with wines gone by. I might actually be able to make a quick er go of this posting - not because of the wine but - because I'm not going to do much research or talk much about the Nk'mip winery.
I've already added about 5 or 6 Nk'mip wines to The List, including one of the very first wines we enjoyed 9. So, there's bound to be a bit of information that's already been passed on about North America's first aboriginal-owned winery. As you can see by the deep colour of the wine, we may have waited a tad too long before we opened this bottle. We're definitely finding that many BC reds are proving to be age-worthy. Perhaps it's a little too soon to hope for the same from the whites - even when they are oaked. I seem to recall far more fruit and balance on this wine when we bought it at the winery so many years back.
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I'm not much of a Chardy drinker and this bottle didn't do anything to convince me to run to Chardonnay a whole lot more - but I won't hold it against the folks at Nk'mip. I think I did the wine a dis-service by waiting this long. So, now that I'm hitting and a new milestone number on The List, perhaps a hopeful resolution should be taken on. A goal to catch up on the blog postings and to try to stay more up-to-date - than I've been able to thus far with this Odyssey - sounds promising even if it's somewhat ambitious. However, if I'm going to have any chance at all - and I've got a ways to go - I'd best get on with it.
When I chose this wine for dinner, I didn't realize that it would be the wine on this quest to hit Bottles. I kinda think these century marks deserve a bit of a celebration. So, it's fitting that I grabbed a Barbaresco because we don't get to try them very often - and, when we do, it always brings back memories of our second "honeymoon" which included some wine times up in Piedmont. We didn't get the chance to tour or taste at many wineries while in Italy and Fontanafredda wasn't one of the ones that we did visit.
I found that it's a bit of an effort to set tastings up in Italy. That's without doubt, but it's not quite the same as visiting the Okanagan or Napa. I know there's bound to be a way to fit in a lot more than we managed, but we'll have to look at setting up more of a co-ordinated tour - like we recently did in Mendoza and Argentina - should we ever make it back to Bella Italia. Fontanafredda is a major player in the Langhe and Piedmont.
They have over acres of their own vineyards; plus, they have hundreds of farmers growing grapes for them on consignment as well. Their Barbaresco vineyards surround the eleven towns just to the North-East of Alba and the grape of choice for Barbaresco is Nebbiolo. Actually, it's the only grape that can be used in making Barbaresco under classification regulations.
Barbaresco is often referred to as the baby brother of the renowned Italian Barolo wine since Barolo is also made from the Nebbiolo grape in a neighbouring district. In fact, a large number of wineries produce both wines. Although the two districts are only short miles apart, the grapes tend to ripen slightly earlier in the Barbaresco region and this can allow a shorter fermentation period. The resulting wine generally has softer tannins which make it more approachable, and earlier than a Barolo, after bottling.
Barbaresco regulations also have more lenient minimum aging requirements before the wines can be sold. More approachable than a Barolo or not, I'm not sure that we were overwhelmed by the wine. The profile was perhaps a little too Old World for our palates. It was well-matched with the pasta, but it didn't quite drink as nicely on its own once the food was gone. There was one additional bonus to the wine though. I think that's got me either at or close to 90 varietals. I think it's safe to say that I could resolve to hit my century mark this year.
Wednesday, January 5, Movie Night. It seems like it's been quite some time since we took in a movie - like it was last year or something. How will we ever be able to make our upcoming Oscar Pool picks if we haven't seen any of the year's big flicks? I don't tend to eat a lot of Thai food - even though Pad Thai and I could be the very best of friends. So, I don't pretend to be a pro at pairing a wine to chosen dishes. I generally fall back on local wisdom that you can usually rely on a Riesling with a lot of Asian cuisine, especially if there's a bit of a bite or curry involved.
After a brief discussion with our server, we chose the bottle that offered more of a hint of residual sugar over the crisp acidity that was featured in the other wines available. It's easy to tell, by looking at the labels and captions accompanying The List, that we don't tend to drink a lot of German wines. I should be a bit surprised by that when I consider how much I love a good Riesling. I guess it stems from the fact that we generally have some BC Riesling on hand at home and that I really don't know much about German wine.
Case in point - I know that this label is supposed to tell me a whole lot about the wine in the bottle, but it's pretty much all Greek or, more correctly, German to me. The winery website advises that Balthasar Ress is one of the large family owned and managed wineries in the famous Rheingau region. Now that the fifth generation of the family is at the helm, it's not hard to believe that they have access to some of the finest vineyards in the region.
Indeed, Germany has a tradition of identifying "classified" vineyards - traditional vineyards of superior quality that have displayed distinct characteristics over the years. This wine is part of Balthasar Ress's series of classified single vineyard series - their mid-range label - with Hattenheimer Schutzenhaus being the vineyard providing these grapes. I'm not so sure I would have figured that out on my own. As for the wine, we easily could have gone through another bottle if the start of the movie hadn't been imminent. It was perhaps a touch sweeter than I had been looking for, but that just meant that the curry could handle a touch more heat.
I'm not so sure that it meant that Boo was supposed to straight up eat the chilies that adorned the plate though. He's been known to do sillier things though. There's no doubt, however, that the wine was sweeter than the movie. Natalie Portman may win the Oscar but this was hardly a light and fluffy, date night, kind of movie.
Still, a pretty good way to pass an evening though, I'd say. A New Year's Dinner with Mr. If memory serves me right, I started last year off with a bit of a run in a quest to start that inevitable new year's resolution to keep the pounds off. This year, I didn't even pretend. I just stuck it out at home and then started eating the rich stuff. Admit it, you're probably a lot like me. If someone were to bring along a bottle Asti Spumonte to your place, you'd probably wonder what possessed them. Do they know nothing about wine? I tended to think of Asti as one of those high school wines that you snuck to a party - along with Baby Duck and Lonesome Charlie or the Lemon Gin.
A couple years back, however, I was challenged to give Martini Asti another chance. Thing is, we tasted it blind and the consensus was that there was nothing wrong with it at all - for what it is. A bright, sweet er bit of bubble. I still doubt that it will ever challenge its sparkling brethren like Champagne, Cava or even Prosecco, but it will definitely have its place.
Certainly, it's taken seriously enough by the Italian wine cognoscente. The region is designated a D. G - an even higher quality ranking than the standard D. Asti is named after the town that is the centre of the region where the wine is made and its floral, fruity characteristics come from the Moscato Bianco grape.
Our second bottle for the evening was one that's seen a different vintage already added to The List some time ago at Chances are that Boo and I passed by within spitting distance of the winery when we were in Mendoza back in October, but we didn't have any chance to visit - and, to be honest, I don't even know which part of Mendoza was called San Rafael. Since we weren't driving ourselves anywhere, I just found all the different sub-regions to be a tad confusing.
One just blended right into the next. Oh well, maybe if we get back there some day. They must be doing something right with it because this Malbec is one of the - if not the - best selling Argentine Malbecs in BC. The popularity of this Malbec in the market is highlighted in that, on both occasions when the wine has been added to The List, it was brought to a dinner party by one of the guests.
As much as a resolution to get invited to dinner more often this year - so that I can add more bottles to The List and finish this task of a blog challenge - seems like a good idea, I think I might be better off, in the long run, to put the running shoes back on and hit the pavement. Something tells me the wine might win if push comes to shove though. Here I am back from the Rum-soaked beaches of Cuba, only to find myself right back at it on the wine-laden shores of Vancouver. Jeaux must have been at least partially correct, all those years ago in New Orleans, when she called me "Evil Bob" throughout Mardi Gras.
I'm seeing no rest now that I'm back; ergo, does that make me "wicked? Our plane arrived at the airport after midnight. It was off to work this morning. And, now, it's off to meet up with some of the boys for New Year's Eve. Perhaps the "wickedness" stems from the fact that I'm heading out on the town without Boo - after just returning from a week in Cuba without him.
I don't think I can be faulted though. It's not my fault if he has to work on New Year's Eve and he wouldn't want to stay home all alone - especially since Tyrant has arranged reservations for dinner at a new-ish wine bar in town and we're going to start it off at his place to whet our whistles and get prepped for the evening to come. I think it's entirely appropriate to sample a wine called "Odyssey" for this blog, given the name. In fact, it's a bit of a surprise that it's taken this long. I guess I was just waiting for an appropriate occasion and if New Year's Eve isn't appropriate enough for bubbles, I don't know what time would be.
I figured it would be particularly nice to try the '07 Odyssey since it was awarded one of only eleven Lieutenant Governor's Wine Awards presented in BC this year. As one of the Heiss family members was quoted, this award puts us in "pretty elite company. There's a number of quite nice sparklers being produced in BC nowadays but I think this is the first time that I've tried the Gray Monk. It's made in the classic Methode Champenoise, although the blend would never be authorized in the Champagne appellation proper.
The winemaker worked with a mix of Riesling, Chardonnay Musque and Pinot Blanc and fashioned a wine that covers a lot of bases - crisp and tart, with a fruity nose and a touch of residual sugar, while still showing a nice roundness that reminds you of fresh baking without being overly yeasty. Tyrant had some other bottles open, but I knew there'd be plenty of wine to come.
So, I just stuck to a bit of bubble until we headed off for dinner. The restaurant, Cibo, started us off with another glass of bubbly to pair with an oyster on the half shell. Too bad I've already added this Mionetto to The List back at and under my "rules," being Non-Vintage, it doesn't get a second number. I preferred the Odyssey to the Prosecco - even though they are completely different in the style of wines - but it was interesting to taste the contrast in the varying approaches to the production of sparkling wines.
Not a varietal - or even an area - that I see often. I suppose it makes some sense that it might be featured in a wine bar with a decidedly Italian bent to it. It was paired with a buffalo mozzarella, polenta and olive salad. The bottle didn't go very far between all of us and I wouldn't mind trying some more to get a better appreciation of what the varietal has to offer.
The mushroom risotto was being paired with Pinot Noir and I can see that - Pinot can often feature an earthy, mushroom-y-ness - but I was a little surprised to find out that the Pinot in the glass was from Australia. Those aren't descriptors that I generally think of with Aussie reds - even Pinots. And, to be honest, this one didn't really hint much on that front, but I like seeing more wines coming from the state of Victoria - mostly because that where our favourite Aussie import, Merlot Boy the person, not a wine brand name , is from.
I'm not familiar with the Cooralook, but it's located outside of Melbourne and this wine is sourced from vineyards in two of the local regions - the Mornington Peninsula and the Strathbogie Ranges I've never heard of the latter to my recollection. Seems like we'll start the New Year off with a couple of wines and regions to look into further.
My cioppino was meant to be paired with a Pinot Grigio but I asked for a red instead - and the Cenobio was delivered. A blend of Negroamaro and Malvasia Nero varietals, it also hails from a region that I don't know a whole lot about.
Puglia is, maybe, best described as the heel that helps form the "boot" that is Italy. Salento is the "high heel" part. Interesting that they chose this as a wine to replace a white. I generally think of Southern Italy as producing big, strong reds. Dessert was paired with a dessert sherry - again, something that I wasn't all that familiar with. It was far from the sweet cream sherry that everyone's stereotypical gramma used to enjoy as her daily tipple.
This was a blend of two separately aged sherries - an amontillado and a Pedro Jiminez that uses partially raisined grapes as its base. It was a bit of a surprise as well and, in conjunction with another glass of Prosecco at midnight, a nice way to nightcap the evening. We'd talked about maybe heading back to Tyrant's and cracking a bottle of Port or something equally delicious, but old age seems to be catching up with us and we all decided to just wander through the young'uns partying in the downtown streets and make our way home.
A fun little way to bring in though. Here's hoping that there are plenty more opportunities to keep adding bottles to The List. Tuesday, January 4, Adios Muchacos. With one last day in Cuba, I pretty much decided to play it slow and easy - having a few laughs and a few last mojitos with some of my newest muchachos. It's rather difficult, however, not to meet up with some fun-loving folk - particularly when hanging with my little sis, Vixen, and her gal pals. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with the compact Irish lass, Martini, that they met up with at the pool.
With any luck we'll have a few more opportunities to catch up with her over the years. The biggest "laugh" of the day, however, came at dinner over our last bottle of wine on the trip - not that the wine had anything to do with that chuckle. This was the last of the bottles that I'd brought along with me and I took it to the family dinner we were gather for in the Italian restaurant.
I won't go into the wine or winery much here because this isn't the first time that Nichol or their Pinot Gris have made The List. It does, however, bear a brief reminder that this Pinot Gris is one of the very few that I've come across where the winemaker leaves the freshly pressed juice in contact with the skins for up to 24 hours or so.
It gives the resulting wine an almost coppery or orange tone which is both unique and enjoyable. The entire restaurant went silent as our family wondered what to do. Sometimes trying to coax Kam to stop can create a bigger scene than the event that started it. To our surprise, our decision was made for us. The head waiter came out from the back and joined right in with Kam.
The two of them finished the aria and its sustained final notes to a good deal of applause.
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All I could do was wonder and ask, "How the heck does Kam know the lyrics to Italian opera?! The resort didn't offer to sign Kam up to a performance contract but he pulled off a task that I doubt you could ever successfully dare me to try - bottle of wine or not.
But, with the final night's fun well under way, it was almost time to face the reality of the flight home tomorrow. There was one last morning walk along the beach but there likely won't be any more Cuban wine in my foreseeable future. Okanagan , Pinot Gris. Wrapping Things Up in Cuba. One of my favourite pastimes, when abroad, is to visit markets and see what is available when shopping locally. While in Havana, I wandered across a large supermarket and naturally took a look inside.
There wasn't much chance that I'd ever confuse it with a Whole Foods or a Capers but the mercado seemed to be pretty well stocked. Very few of the brands were recognizable but the basic products were extensive - to the point that there was even a freezer section of frozen turkeys. The prices even seemed to be fairly comparable to those at home - with the big exception that those prices are hardly comparable when your monthly salary is only a fraction of the wages back home.
Some things aren't really all that relative after all. I did find a little booze section though and, in amongst all the rum and liquors, there were some wines - mostly European or Chilean. No Australian, South African or Canadian wines were to be found and there were definitely no American bottles on the shelves. There was one little section of Cuban wines though.
The thought of Cuban wine had never really crossed my mind; so, this was pleasantly unexpected. I really had no choice in the matter though. I had to get one. On a shelf a little further along, I found another Cuban wine that was twice the price of the other bottles. Same winery but twice the price. And why not open it at the first chance? After all, I don't think I'll take it home with me. If I'm only allowed one bottle, it might as well be a aged Rum.
As luck would have it, the return trip from Havana arrived at the resort in Varadero right around dinner time. Wine isn't all that incorporated into Cuban culture. General consensus is that it's just too expensive for the average Cuban. A Cuban-made wine is even more foreign. When I asked the waiter to open the bottle of Cuban wine that I'd found, he questioned whether we seriously wanted to drink it.
In the last decade, however, it turns out that there have been two joint ventures created to set up vineyards and wineries in the Caribbean nation. One venture involves Spanish backers and experts, the other, Italian. At first, the wines were made with imported juice and I gather many of the cheaper wines are still produced that way. There are wines now, though, that are being made with grapes only grown on the island. It's not easy finding out much about the companies or the wines, but Castillo del Wajay is one of the brands produced by Bodegas del Caribe - the venture involving Spanish interests - and its wines feature all Cuban fruit.
The story goes that the partners brought in approximately 20 varietals to grow in test vineyards and they feel that they've identified several grapes that can successfully acclimatize to Caribbean conditions. I'm not sure if I should be surprised or not, given the Spanish involvement in the winery, but the Tinta Reserva is primarily made of Tempranillo.
What's more, I've had far worse wines than this. Maybe it was just the low expectations for a Cuban wine, but I found it quite palatable. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Showing of 1 reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews.
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