Posts Tagged ‘British Columbia wines’

Got your tickets? BC, Ont, Quebec & NS wineries are coming to town!

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, June 15th, 2017
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The countdown to Canada150 & Ottawa2017 celebrations is on!  We’re celebrating in a BIG way this year – by showcasing wines from British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec & Nova Scotia at our upcoming event: Oh Canada! Celebrate Red & White in Ottawa on Thursday, June 22 – next week!

100% Canadian wines.  You read that right…wines from British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec & Nova Scotia will be available for you to Taste & Buy….then have your favorites delivered to your doorstep.

 

Don’t miss it!  Celebrate Red & White 

Corks will be popping at this all-Canadian Taste & Buy as we celebrate winemakers who have worked incredibly hard to put our country on the world wine map. Meet these Canadian wine rockstars, taste their wines that are WOWing the world…then order your favs to enjoy at home.

 

It’s THE event you have been waiting for…

The #1 question we get asked: Can you buy from BC, NS & Quebec wineries as well those in Ontario?  YES you can!  Oh Canada! Celebrate Red & White Taste & Buy event is all about ordering wines from BC, NS, Quebec and Ontario…then have them delivered directly to your home or office to enjoy all summer long.

 

Show your colours!  Buy a $80 ticket & bring a friend for FREE OR $150 for a foursome of Canadian wine lovin’ friends

Canadian cheese too!

What goes best with Canadian wines?  Canadian artisan cheese of course! Cheesemakers & our Cheese Sommelier will be serving samples of award-winning cheeses that you can buy onsite too.

 

Look who is coming:

From British Columbia…

Noble Ridge Vineyard & Winery
Sperling Vineyards
Abeego

From Niagara…  

Legends Estates Winery
Reif Estate Winery
The Good Earth Food & Wine Co.
Two Sisters Vineyards
Westcott Vineyards
Vieni Estates 

From Prince Edward County…

Casa-Dea Estates Winery
Huff Estates
Karlo Estates
Keint-he Winery & Vineyards
Kinsip House of Fine Distillers
Trail Estate Winery

From other corners of Ontario & Ottawa…

Copper Tree Creative Studio
Mariposa Dairy
Pure Bread Bakery
Sprucewood Handmade Cookie Co.
St-Albert Cheese Co-op
The Merry Dairy
Top Shelf Preserves

From Quebec…

Ferme Guy Rivest
Fromagerie Montebello
Fromagerie Nouvelle-France
Fromagerie du Presbytere
Vignoble Carone Wines

From P.E.I…

COWS Creamery

From Nova Scotia…

Gaspereau Vineyards
Jost Wines

 

Wine Shopping Heaven! 

At this Taste & Buy event, EVERYTHING is 100% Canadian.

Create your own combo of Canadian wines to have delivered to your home after the event. You won’t find any of the featured wines at the LCBO – the wines will be delivered straight from the winery anywhere in Canada directly to you.  AND…there’s FREE shipping on 6 or more bottles of your top picks.

Bring a picnic basket & fill it up with artisan cheeses & gourmet treats too.

 

TIP: Be a V.I.T!

What’s a V.I.T? A Very Important Taster.  With 100+ wines, cheeses & goodies to try, purchase your tickets then upgrade each person for an additional $25 to get a V.I.T. Pass.   

You’ll enjoy red carpet treatment with advance access from 5 to 7pm to spend more time sipping & meeting the makers.  Stay as long as you like for the main event.

Buy your Ticket & V.I.T. Pass >>

 

Don’t miss this all-Canadian celebration! 

Buy your tickets >>   Event Deets

DATE: Thursday June 22 – next week!
VENUE: Horticulture Building @ Lansdowne Complex in Ottawa

TIMES:
V.I.T. Reception – 5 to 7pm ($25 upgrade pass per person is required)
Main Event – 7 to 9pm

ADVANCE TICKETS ONLY: $80 + bring a friend FREE  OR  Group of 4 people for $150
IDEA: Take the bus.  OC Transpo is FREE – simply show a printout of your ticket.

 

Wear Red & White…Win $50

Be a proud Canadian  – come to this Taste & Buy event dressed head to toe in red & white and we’ll automatically give you $50 off your ticket to our next Savvy Event.

 

Unable to make it, but want to order?

Don’t sweat it!  The Savvy Team will help you stock up on featured wines showcased at this event. Call 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email us & we’ll send you the complete list of wines & online order form.  You too can get FREE shipping – your order needs to be received by midnight on Sunday June 25.

 

WIN TICKETS!  Go on the Savvy Scavenger Hunt…

Find this video on our Facebook or Instagram pages, then…LIKE it & POST the name of your favorite Canadian wine.  On Monday, we’ll pick 2 lucky people to receive a pair of tickets & V.I.T. Passes to join us at Oh Canada! Celebrate Red & White.  It’s easy to win!  On your mark…Get Set…GO!!!

 

Psst…it’s Father’s Day weekend!

Yikes…totally forgot? Our #1 Father’s Day gift is a subscription to our Savvy Hip Hops beer-o-month club.

Click here to subscribe your Dad for 4 or 6 months & his fridge will auto-magically be filled with the best craft beers from a different Ontario brewery each month – bottles, growlers & cans not available at LCBO or The Beer Store.  100% guaranteed to make your Dad smile from beer to beer!

 

We’re hiring…

We have cool summer job opportunities for a high school or university students to work with the Savvy Team at Savvy HQ in Ottawa. We’re looking for creative & savvy students who are keen to learn about Canadian wine, artisan cheese, craft beer & cider.

Interested?  Contact us on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send your resume to cheers@savvycompany.ca

 

Happy Birthday Canada!
Debbie & the Savvy Team

 

Savvy Company
613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)
cheers@savvycompany.ca
www.savvycompany.ca

Keep in touch with us…
@SavvyDebbie
@SavvyCompany
@SavvyWines
@SavvyHipHops
@SavvyCoolCurds
#CountyintheCapital
www.facebook.com/SavvyCompany
instagram.com/savvycompanyinc

 

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Move over ‘Amazing Race’… Join The Great Canadian Wine Challenge

Posted by Debbie

Monday, August 26th, 2013
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So what happens when two Canadian-wine-loving guys – Shawn McCormick of Uncork Ontario and Calvin Hanselmann (@TheEvilDoctorD) – lament the fact that Canadian Wine Day (June 28th) is only one day? Why, they end up challenging each other to go for a year without drinking anything but Canadian wine!   When we caught wind of this all Canadian endeavor, the Savvy Team wanted to take part too.

As the saying goes, ‘the more the merrier!’

We invite Canadian wine lovers from coast to coast to coast to take part in the first annual The Great Canadian Wine Challenge (@TGCWC)!  The start line begins on September 1st…and it goes for a whole year.

Being a challenge of who-can-stick-to-the-drink-Canadian-wines-for-365-days, there are some basic rules & reds…err, I mean regs:

#1 – It is all about drinking great Canadian wine, but it is also about having fun along the way!

#2 – The duration of the Challenge is 12 calendar months, starting Sept 1, 2013

#3 – You may only purchase or open Canadian wine for the duration of the Challenge. This allows for a few exceptions like international wine events that may be attended, dinner parties where the host unwittingly opens something non-Canadian, wine-related courses you may be taking where other wines may be opened, and events like i4c2014 or The Riesling Experience where it would be terrible to miss the international wines on offer. With feedback, we decided to allow for international travel exemption as well, as we know how hard it is to get Canadian wine within Canada, let alone the rest of the world!

#4 – You must drink wine from at least three (3) provinces during the 12 month period, and at least 12 different wines during that time. Any Canadian wine counts – VQA, non-VQA, fruit wines, anything that involves fermenting fruit from this great country of ours.

#5 – Commit to a weekly update in one of these ways: via Twitter #TGCWC, a blog post, or an email Shawn & Calvin  and they will track updates from participants & feature in the TGCWC weekly updates.

 

Ready to take on the Challenge?

To join in the fun by emailing Shawn & Calvin or send a Tweet to #TGCWC.

If you are on Twitter, follow @TGCWC, @TheEvilDoctorD, @UncorkOntario and include #TGCWC of course!

“We also figured we should have some prizes for anyone who can complete The Great Canadian Wine Challenge @TGCWC“, explains Shawn (in red shirt at bottom).  “We’re putting our heads together on some outstanding Canadiana prizes, so stay tuned.  Until then, share on Twitter about the Canadian wines that you have discovered throughout the year.”

Nudge, nudge…
If you are a winery or wine-related business and would like to donate some swag & prizes, contact Shawn or Calvin at thegreatcanadianwinechallenge(at)gmail(dot)com or on Twitter @TGCWC.  They will be sure to praise you all over the interwebs and in a special blog post.

Happy Canadian Wine Year!

Calvin & Shawn

 

Join the growing list of Challengers…

Want to be famous?  All you have to do is sign up for the Challenge and send Savvy Company your photo and you will be included in our poster-board of Challengers. Take a look to see who have committed to enjoying ONLY Canadian wine this year…

 

 

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Run, don’t walk to the LCBO & stock up on this wine

Posted by Eva

Monday, July 30th, 2012
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Using only grapes grown on their property, the Mavety family has been growing grapes in the Okanagan for over 40 years – true pioneers! For the first 21 years, they supplied premium grapes to commercial wineries when finally the allure of producing quality wines inspired them to craft their own label – Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars –  in 1991. The family has not looked back since!

Today, on their 31-hectare estate, they make limited quantities of complex wines from noble varietals including Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay — the same varietals found in the Champagne, Burgundy and Alsace regions of France.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Blue Mountain Chardonnay VQA 2010, British Columbia

LCBO # 350108
$23.95

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This is a beautifully crafted wine made with Chardonnay grapes that half have been aged in oak while the other half was aged in stainless steel tanks. The result is a medium bodied white wine with a combo of buttered popcorn, warm spices & a zippy long finish. Reminds me of a dense pound cake or a flaky croissant.  Easy drinking & round in the mouth. Each sips begs you to come back for more.  This wine will go down too easily, so get two bottles & save yourself the disappointment when you reach the bottom of the bottle.

Suggested Food Pairing: A great match for BBQed pork tenderloin or a heavy fish – tuna or swordfish steaks.

 

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Rush out & buy these BC wines!

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, July 5th, 2012
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My heart beats a bit faster when I saw that the LCBO Vintages will have a few more wines British Columbia on their shelves this weekend.  It is a rare occurrence & my tip to you is that they will quickly sell out!  While we patiently await the Senate to put their seal of approval on the new Bill C-311 (to remove inter provincial trade barriers for wine making it easier for Canadians to buy & transport Canadian wines throughout Canada), here’s my wine shopping list of must buy wines this weekend.

Cheers & Enjoy!

-Debbie

 

Mt Boucherie Estate Collection Semillion VQA 2008, British Columbia

LCBO # 279364
$19.95
Brothers Kal and Nirmal Gidda opened Mt. Boucherie Family Estate Winery & recently celebrated their tenth anniversary. They are a true family business success story!  Located in West Kelowna’s Lakeview Heights area, this winery is only a five minute drive from downtown Kelowna across the scenic Okanagan Lake floating bridge. Winemaker Jim Faulkner and his team, have grown Mt. Boucherie over the years to produce a total of 21 reds, whites and Icewines amounting to 25,000 cases!

Semillion is a rare grape variety in British Columbia vineyards, yet Jim has created a stunning wine.  A Full bodied white wine with smooth texture & aromas of fresh apple tart with a shortbread crust, beeswax with some refreshing acidity. Smooth texture in the mouth with a full bodied nutmeg & white pepper finish that goes on forever. Serve with paella, blackened catfish, pan fried scallops or smoke salmon.

 

Blue Mountain Chardonnay VQA 2010, British Columbia

LCBO # 350108
$23.95
Using only grapes grown on their property, the Mavety family has been growing grapes in the Okanagan for over 40 years – true pioneers! For the first 21 years, they supplied premium grapes to commercial wineries when finally the allure of producing quality wines inspired them to craft their own label in 1991. The family has not looked back since!

Today, on their 31-hectare estate, they make limited quantities of complex wines from noble varietals including Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay — the same varietals found in the Champagne, Burgundy and Alsace regions of France.

This is a beautifully crafted wine made with Chardonnay grapes that half have been aged in oak while the other half was aged in stainless steel tanks. The result is a medium bodied white wine with a combo of buttered popcorn, warm spices & a zippy long finish. Reminds me of a dense pound cake or a flaky croissant.  Easy drinking & round in the mouth. Each sips begs you to come back for more.  This wine will go down too easily, so get two bottles & save yourself the disappointment when you reach the bottom of the bottle.

A great match for BBQed pork tenderloin or a heavy fish – tuna or swordfish steaks.

 

Malivoire Musqué Spritz VQA 2011, Ontario

LCBO #189670
$19.95
Savvy Sommelier & founder, Debbie Trenholm’s interest in Malivoire began in 2001 while she was enrolled in the Queen’s University Executive MBA Program.  Using this as an entrée to become involved in the wine industry, Malivoire was her first business consulting ‘gig’. This experience gave her an insight to Malivoire’s unique gravity pull winemaking technique (Malivoire was the first Niagara winery with this technique that has now been adopted by others), their dedication to organic grape growing and winemaking practices, as well as the fascinating people who make the impressive wines.

Over the years, Malivoire has been involved in several facets of The Savvy Grapes and Savvy Company.  They were the featured winery in one of our first winemaker’s dinners, were one of the first to be showcased in the Savvy Selections and we continue to showcase their wines in our various events.  And Debbie helped hand during their icewine harvest!

For Debbie, Musqué Spritz is always a sign that summer has arrived.  This light bubbly fizzy wine with low alcohol (9%) is perfect for a picnic or Sunday brunch with refreshing floral aromas (think delicate sweet pea or daisy aromas) & bright lemon gelato tastes.

 

Emiliana Novas Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2009, Chile

LCBO #685792
$14.95
I recently met the winemaker at Emiliana and they have a wonderful story about the winery.  All of the workers and their families live on the estate.  Founded on being totally organic and nurturing a community, everyone takes care of the property, vineyard and the operations.  They even have a bee colony that young & old is involved in caring for. Be on the look out for other organic & biodynamic wines in Vintages.  And if you travel to Chile go & visit!

This BIG red wine is loaded with black fruit (think blackberries, figs & plums), vanilla & fresh ground black pepper. It’s begging for a steak or better yet fall of the bone ribs. At this price, there is no reason why not to buy a case!

 

Hickinbotham Shiraz/Cabernet 2009, Australia

LCBO# 159632
$16.95
Very VERY deep purple in colour & as smooth as velvet. This red wine is concentrated with tastes figs, cassis, black olives, tar & tobacco aromas. With one sip you can melt with the rich tastes of dark chocolate, black fruit & medium firm tannins. Where’s my steak mate?

 

GRAND TOTAL: $95.95

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Wine Tripping in British Columbia through the Okanagan & Similkameen

Posted by Susan

Friday, November 26th, 2010
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Each trip to the Okanagan is an opportunity to further explore the valley, as well as the Similkameen Valley, and to taste some new wines, or revisit previously savoured ones.

This visit took me to Tantalus Winery, as well as Sandhill, in Kelowna, then on to Poplar Grove Winery on the Naramata Bench and to Kraze Legz, a new winery in the hamlet of Kaleden.  I traveled to the Similkameen to visit old friends, stopping in at Forbidden Fruit Winery as well as Clos du Soleil.

Tantalus Winery, originally known as Pioneer Vineyards and first planted to grapes in 1927, sits high on a hillside overlooking Kelowna. Fortunately for the new owners, the prior owner planted Riesling in the late 1970s as well as some French and German clones of Pinot Noir in 1985. He can still be seen riding around the vineyard helping to tend the vines. The site has been transformed, with the tasting room and winery housed in a dramatic modern LEED-certified structure overlooking the hillside vineyards. 

Tantalus is reputed for its Riesling, and has a new program devoted to Pinot Noir. The 2008 vintage offered two Pinots, one from the younger vines, which was light-medium bodied, fresh and earthy, with bright red fruit flavours and racy acidity. The second, produced from the French and German clones planted in the 1980s, was medium-bodied, maintaining the earthy character but with deep spicy red fruit flavours, fine acidity, a silky texture and great persistence on the finish. The 2009 Riesling, from a very hot vintage and produced from a blend of older and newer vines, had very fragrant aromatics of stone fruit and sweet citrus with a whiff of tropical fruit. The flavours recurred on the palate, nicely balanced with tangy acidity and an extended lemon-lime finish. The 2008 Old Vines Riesling, being held for release in 2011, displays petrol notes, orchard fruit, bright citrus and minerality, with mouthwatering nervy acidity and a lengthy crisp finish. This is definitely a wine for aging. I also had the opportunity to taste one of the few remaining bottles of their inaugural sparkling wine, the vintage Blanc de Noir 2004, crafted from an equal blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Produced by méthode traditionelle, this lovely sparkling wine had high-toned aromas of orchard fruit and lees with a fine mousse and a medley of orchard and citrus fruit on the palate. Alas, it was only produced in 2004, but their sparkling Riesling is available.

Sandhill is a virtual winery housed in the Calona Vineyards tasting and winemaking facility located in Kelowna. Howard Soon works with carefully selected fruit, often from unusual varietals, from select Okanagan vineyards that have unique characteristics to create Sandhill wines. The Small Lots program showcases wines crafted from unique varietals or distinctive barrels designated by the winemaker for special attention. The Small Lots Barbera is aged in French and American oak for 18 months and has alluring aromas of spicy cherry fruit, vanilla and toast. It’s dry, medium bodied, smooth and supple, with delicate acidity, fine-grained tannins and lovely flavours of red berry, black cherry, cinnamon toast and pepper. That smooth velvety texture lingers on the palate. Sandhill’s Small Lots One came through LCBO Vintages earlier this year. Small Lots Two is a blend of Bordeaux varietals (the Cabernets and Merlot) with seductive aromas of cassis, cedar, vanilla and roasted herbs. It’s full bodied, robust and complex, with firm tannins underpinning dark fruit, dark chocolate and toasty notes. There’s warmth on the finish, with a punch of espresso roast. Small Lots Three is an IGT-type blend of Barbera, Sangiovese and Merlot. It’s fragrant and floral, with aromas of spicy fruit, cedar and smoke. Medium-full bodied, the flavours are rich, the texture is supple and there’s fine acidity balancing the ripe spicy, peppery fruit. Watch for Two and Three in an upcoming 2011 LCBO Vintages release.

Poplar Grove Winery, on the Naramata Bench just north of Penticton, was established by Ian Sutherland with the goal of producing premium wines from estate-grown fruit. In 2007, Sutherland entered a partnership with Tony Holler and Barrie Sali which provided access the 100-acre Holler estate vineyards in the south Okanagan. The 2008 Gewurztraminer is highly aromatic, fragrant with rose petal, lychee, tropical and stone fruit. Dry and spicy, medium bodied and lively, the wine is very flavourful and displays a long fresh spicy finish. The 2009 Pinot Gris, just released in October, has a subtle nose of orchard and tropical fruit and a fresh fruity mouthful of citrus and orchard fruit. It’s light-medium bodied with bright notes of lemon, lime and grapefruit that linger on the zesty finish. The winery is known in the valley for holding its red wines in bottle for as much as 2 years prior to release. The 2006 Poplar Grove Merlot was aged in French oak for 18 months, then rested in bottle for 14 months. It’s perfumed with floral, plum and black fruit aromas, as well as a slightly sweet herbal note. Medium-full bodied, its complex and elegant, with a silky texture, well-integrated tannins and lovely black fruit, espresso and herbal flavours. The lengthy aftertaste is of dark chocolate winter fruit bark. The 2005 Legacy is a blend of Merlot, the Cabernets and Malbec, and spent 24 months in French oak followed by 18 months in bottle. Mahogany in color, it has subtle aromas of dried fruit, earth, mushrooms and leather. This is a structured wine with velvety tannins, fresh acidity and depth of flavour – spiced black and red berries, toast and pepper. The finish is long and lingering.

Kraze Legz is Kalenden’s first winery, although grapes are grown for other Okanagan wineries in this small hamlet just south of Penticton. We first discovered Kaleden when we headed down its steep main road in search of access to a hiking trail. While we never found the trail, we discovered Linden Gardens and the Frog City Café. This fantastic garden is the property of long-time fruit growers who grew tired of the straight rows of trees and decided to convert their property to a public garden. We visited in the spring, and the meandering paths, gently whispering lindens, water features and fragrant blooms and plants were a delight. Then there are the homemade treats to be enjoyed in the airy café. . . Don’t miss it! Then, wander across the way to Kraze Legz, owned by Gerry and Sue Thygesen. Of their 14 acres, 9 were planted to vines 4 years ago. While living in the U.S., they had tried to sell this steep property, fortunately without success! They’re now delighted to have the opportunity to establish their own winery, although Sue confesses that it has been and continues to challenging, as the two of them are doing most of the work themselves. They have a delightful newly constructed tasting room, decked out in a Prohibition-era theme. Available for tasting were 2 whites and a rosé, with plans for a couple of reds once the vines are of age. Their 2009 ‘Bees Knees’ Pinot Blanc won a silver at the Wine Access awards. It’s silky yet racy, with birght citrus, pear and apple aromas and flavours with a pithy bite on the finish. The 2009 ‘Charleston’ Chardonnay, while unoaked, comes in with a hefty 14.6% alcohol and is all about rich creamy texture, stone and tropical fruits with lively acidity that keeps it nicely balanced. The ‘Speakeasy’ Rosé was a favorite. This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer is a delightful salmon color and offers sweet silky red fruity on entry, followed by bright acidity and a spicy note that carries through on the fresh fruity finish.

On a day trip to the Similkameen, I stopped in to visit Steve and Kim at their organic property, Forbidden Fruit Winery. Memories of his exotic award-winning ‘Caught’ Apricot Mistelle drew me back. This wine has incredible true-to-the-fruit flavours and a fabulous texture and balance. Due to popular demand, Steve has also begun making wines from vinifera grapes. His ‘Earth Series’ includes a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sauvignon Blanc.

My last stop was at Clos du Soleil, where I had the opportunity to discuss the plans for a new winery building and to purchase the 2008 Clos Signature Merlot-dominant red blend, a rich powerful nicely balanced wine. This is the first vintage of the wine produced by renowned winemaker Ann Sperling, who is also producing wines from her historic family property, Sperling Vineyards. Wines from both the Clos du Soleil and Sperling Vineyards were featured in Savvy Company’s BC wine tasting, held in August, and are available to be ordered in Ontario through Savvy Company.

Enjoy visiting some of these wineries on your next trip to the Okanagan. 

Cheers!
Susan

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Wine Tripping in British Columbia through the Okanagan & Similkameen

Posted by Susan

Friday, November 26th, 2010
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Each trip to the Okanagan is an opportunity to further explore the valley, as well as the Similkameen Valley, and to taste some new wines, or revisit previously savoured ones.

This visit took me to Tantalus Winery, as well as Sandhill, in Kelowna, then on to Poplar Grove Winery on the Naramata Bench and to Kraze Legz, a new winery in the hamlet of Kaleden.  I traveled to the Similkameen to visit old friends, stopping in at Forbidden Fruit Winery as well as Clos du Soleil.

Tantalus Winery, originally known as Pioneer Vineyards and first planted to grapes in 1927, sits high on a hillside overlooking Kelowna. Fortunately for the new owners, the prior owner planted Riesling in the late 1970s as well as some French and German clones of Pinot Noir in 1985. He can still be seen riding around the vineyard helping to tend the vines. The site has been transformed, with the tasting room and winery housed in a dramatic modern LEED-certified structure overlooking the hillside vineyards. 

Tantalus is reputed for its Riesling, and has a new program devoted to Pinot Noir. The 2008 vintage offered two Pinots, one from the younger vines, which was light-medium bodied, fresh and earthy, with bright red fruit flavours and racy acidity. The second, produced from the French and German clones planted in the 1980s, was medium-bodied, maintaining the earthy character but with deep spicy red fruit flavours, fine acidity, a silky texture and great persistence on the finish. The 2009 Riesling, from a very hot vintage and produced from a blend of older and newer vines, had very fragrant aromatics of stone fruit and sweet citrus with a whiff of tropical fruit. The flavours recurred on the palate, nicely balanced with tangy acidity and an extended lemon-lime finish. The 2008 Old Vines Riesling, being held for release in 2011, displays petrol notes, orchard fruit, bright citrus and minerality, with mouthwatering nervy acidity and a lengthy crisp finish. This is definitely a wine for aging. I also had the opportunity to taste one of the few remaining bottles of their inaugural sparkling wine, the vintage Blanc de Noir 2004, crafted from an equal blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Produced by méthode traditionelle, this lovely sparkling wine had high-toned aromas of orchard fruit and lees with a fine mousse and a medley of orchard and citrus fruit on the palate. Alas, it was only produced in 2004, but their sparkling Riesling is available.

Sandhill is a virtual winery housed in the Calona Vineyards tasting and winemaking facility located in Kelowna. Howard Soon works with carefully selected fruit, often from unusual varietals, from select Okanagan vineyards that have unique characteristics to create Sandhill wines. The Small Lots program showcases wines crafted from unique varietals or distinctive barrels designated by the winemaker for special attention. The Small Lots Barbera is aged in French and American oak for 18 months and has alluring aromas of spicy cherry fruit, vanilla and toast. It’s dry, medium bodied, smooth and supple, with delicate acidity, fine-grained tannins and lovely flavours of red berry, black cherry, cinnamon toast and pepper. That smooth velvety texture lingers on the palate. Sandhill’s Small Lots One came through LCBO Vintages earlier this year. Small Lots Two is a blend of Bordeaux varietals (the Cabernets and Merlot) with seductive aromas of cassis, cedar, vanilla and roasted herbs. It’s full bodied, robust and complex, with firm tannins underpinning dark fruit, dark chocolate and toasty notes. There’s warmth on the finish, with a punch of espresso roast. Small Lots Three is an IGT-type blend of Barbera, Sangiovese and Merlot. It’s fragrant and floral, with aromas of spicy fruit, cedar and smoke. Medium-full bodied, the flavours are rich, the texture is supple and there’s fine acidity balancing the ripe spicy, peppery fruit. Watch for Two and Three in an upcoming 2011 LCBO Vintages release.

Poplar Grove Winery, on the Naramata Bench just north of Penticton, was established by Ian Sutherland with the goal of producing premium wines from estate-grown fruit. In 2007, Sutherland entered a partnership with Tony Holler and Barrie Sali which provided access the 100-acre Holler estate vineyards in the south Okanagan. The 2008 Gewurztraminer is highly aromatic, fragrant with rose petal, lychee, tropical and stone fruit. Dry and spicy, medium bodied and lively, the wine is very flavourful and displays a long fresh spicy finish. The 2009 Pinot Gris, just released in October, has a subtle nose of orchard and tropical fruit and a fresh fruity mouthful of citrus and orchard fruit. It’s light-medium bodied with bright notes of lemon, lime and grapefruit that linger on the zesty finish. The winery is known in the valley for holding its red wines in bottle for as much as 2 years prior to release. The 2006 Poplar Grove Merlot was aged in French oak for 18 months, then rested in bottle for 14 months. It’s perfumed with floral, plum and black fruit aromas, as well as a slightly sweet herbal note. Medium-full bodied, its complex and elegant, with a silky texture, well-integrated tannins and lovely black fruit, espresso and herbal flavours. The lengthy aftertaste is of dark chocolate winter fruit bark. The 2005 Legacy is a blend of Merlot, the Cabernets and Malbec, and spent 24 months in French oak followed by 18 months in bottle. Mahogany in color, it has subtle aromas of dried fruit, earth, mushrooms and leather. This is a structured wine with velvety tannins, fresh acidity and depth of flavour – spiced black and red berries, toast and pepper. The finish is long and lingering.

Kraze Legz is Kalenden’s first winery, although grapes are grown for other Okanagan wineries in this small hamlet just south of Penticton. We first discovered Kaleden when we headed down its steep main road in search of access to a hiking trail. While we never found the trail, we discovered Linden Gardens and the Frog City Café. This fantastic garden is the property of long-time fruit growers who grew tired of the straight rows of trees and decided to convert their property to a public garden. We visited in the spring, and the meandering paths, gently whispering lindens, water features and fragrant blooms and plants were a delight. Then there are the homemade treats to be enjoyed in the airy café. . . Don’t miss it! Then, wander across the way to Kraze Legz, owned by Gerry and Sue Thygesen. Of their 14 acres, 9 were planted to vines 4 years ago. While living in the U.S., they had tried to sell this steep property, fortunately without success! They’re now delighted to have the opportunity to establish their own winery, although Sue confesses that it has been and continues to challenging, as the two of them are doing most of the work themselves. They have a delightful newly constructed tasting room, decked out in a Prohibition-era theme. Available for tasting were 2 whites and a rosé, with plans for a couple of reds once the vines are of age. Their 2009 ‘Bees Knees’ Pinot Blanc won a silver at the Wine Access awards. It’s silky yet racy, with birght citrus, pear and apple aromas and flavours with a pithy bite on the finish. The 2009 ‘Charleston’ Chardonnay, while unoaked, comes in with a hefty 14.6% alcohol and is all about rich creamy texture, stone and tropical fruits with lively acidity that keeps it nicely balanced. The ‘Speakeasy’ Rosé was a favorite. This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer is a delightful salmon color and offers sweet silky red fruity on entry, followed by bright acidity and a spicy note that carries through on the fresh fruity finish.

On a day trip to the Similkameen, I stopped in to visit Steve and Kim at their organic property, Forbidden Fruit Winery. Memories of his exotic award-winning ‘Caught’ Apricot Mistelle drew me back. This wine has incredible true-to-the-fruit flavours and a fabulous texture and balance. Due to popular demand, Steve has also begun making wines from vinifera grapes. His ‘Earth Series’ includes a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sauvignon Blanc.

My last stop was at Clos du Soleil, where I had the opportunity to discuss the plans for a new winery building and to purchase the 2008 Clos Signature Merlot-dominant red blend, a rich powerful nicely balanced wine. This is the first vintage of the wine produced by renowned winemaker Ann Sperling, who is also producing wines from her historic family property, Sperling Vineyards. Wines from both the Clos du Soleil and Sperling Vineyards were featured in Savvy Company’s BC wine tasting, held in August, and are available to be ordered in Ontario through Savvy Company.

Enjoy visiting some of these wineries on your next trip to the Okanagan. 

Cheers!
Susan

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The Essence of Okanagan Wines

Posted by Susan

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
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The 2009 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival’s featured region was British Columbia – a treat for those of us who enjoy BC wines, yet rarely see the range of them here in Ontario.  The opening plenary, and a number of the trade seminars, provided a unique opportunity to meet and hear from the owners and winemakers, as well as to taste some of their most outstanding wines.

And then, to bring all these attributes together into fabulous wines, you have the “cultural mosaic” of owners and winemakers – pioneers Adolf Kruger and Anthony von Mandl, who left Europe for the BC interior; John Symes, one of the early pioneers who emigrated from New Zealand; Grant Stanley, a Canadian who spent many of his early years in New Zealand, only to return to the Okanagan to produce outstanding Pinot Noir; Lawrence Herder, who came back to the Similkameen after years of producing “big Cabs” in California; Tom di Bello, who has migrated up the coast from California ahead, as he said, of global warming; and the newer arrivals, Brooke Blair of Australia, who produced a Shiraz judged best in the world in 2004, her first vintage here; and Pascal Madevon, a Bordelais who moved his family to the Okanagan in 2002 and has become a Canadian citizen who produces outstanding Bordeaux-style blends.  The outstanding wines of BC are created from this mosaic of terroir, varietals and people, and are enhancing Canada’s reputation on the world wine stage.

BC wines ready to be enjoyed

BC wines ready to be enjoyed

As I listened to the various speakers, the concept of a mosaic came to mind.  In fact, many aspects of the wine industry can be characterized as ‘mosaics’.  The terroir includes a range of soil types, aspects, exposure, microclimates, elevation.  And this wide range of conditions facilitates growing many varietals, and ripening them in ways not found anywhere else in the world – from fully-ripened Cabernet Franc, to brawny tannic Merlot, to lean, crisp Riesling, Ehrenfelser or Gewurtztraminer with exquisite acidity.

 

 

 

These themes were threaded through the discussions and tastings, but an overarching theme was the “coming of age” of the BC wine industry.  As pointed out by the moderators, the industry has grown from 13 wineries and 1500 acres under cultivation in 1990 to now over 160 wineries with more than 9100 acres under cultivation.  Yet, BC is still a small player on the large wine world scene.  Quoting Scholefield, a well-known BC wine critic and one of the moderators, “Yellowtail began producing Pinot Gris two years ago, and now delivers approximately 1.5 million cases to the market.  This is the ENTIRE production of the BC wine industry.”  BC is a niche market that must be characterized by high quality wines, a unique story, and its incomparable terroir. 

Anthony von Mandl, owner of Mission Hill, said it is time to “take BC wines to the world.  As the Okanagan, as BC winemakers, we have to go to the world . . . There’s an enormous opportunity.”  There was a consensus that BC has what the world wants!

And speaking of the terroir, there were many discussions concerning the varying terroir from north to south in the Okanagan, and into the Similkameen valley.  According to Anthony Gismondi, wine critic and Editor-in-Chief of Wine Access magazine, his opinion is that while the rest of the world is attempting to move away from big, bold, powerhouse and overextracted wines, BC wines are naturally crisp, clean and fresh wines.  “Acidity is our friend” was an oft-quoted phrase, attributed to Grant Stanley of Quail’s Gate  

Howard Soon, a veteran of the industry and winemaker at Sandhill Winery, discussed his Pinot Gris.  “This is how we might describe BC white wine to the world:  lean, edgy, crisp, fresh.  Profoundly food friendly and appetizing.” 

As I listened to pioneers of the industry including Harry McWatters, who founded Sumac Ridge on a golf course; Anthony von Mandl, who founded Mission Hill and used to come to the Okangan for holidays during his childhood, as well as some of the more recent arrivals – Brooke Blair, Australian winemaker who immigrated to work at Jackson-Triggs and who made an immediate impression with her first Shiraz in 2004 winning best Shiraz in the world at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London. 

Anthony von Mandl (standing with mic), Harry McWatters (sitting at right with beard)

Anthony von Mandl - owner of Mission Hill Winery (standing), Harry McWatters - founder of Sumac Ridge Winery (sitting at right)

There was also a significant amount of discussion regarding the unique character of varietal wines made from Cabernet Franc in the Okanagan.  Not only has the Cab Franc in the southern Okanagan been shown to have unique terpenes (winespeak: flavor components), it continues to ripen through the summer heat (some other varietals shut down temporarily) and well into the late autumn.  It delivers wonderfully rich, intense wines with aromas of cocoa and herbs.  And Merlot, which is often soft and round in other regions, is the tannic backbone of the outstanding red Bordeaux style blend wine created by such wineries as Osoyoos Larose (wine name: Le Grand Vin), Mission Hill Winery (Quatrain), Black Hills Winery (Nota Bene), Herder Winery (Josephine), the newly named Road 13 Winery (Fifth Element).  Tom di Bello, of CedarCreek Estate explained, “The Okanagan is one of the best places in the world to grow Merlot.  The fruit is bright, vibrant, with more natural acidity.  And we’re getting mature tannins with less sugar because the fruit ripens sooner physiologically.”

 

 

 

To these pioneers – old and new – BC’s microclimates are critical.  Early pioneers planted with their palates, for instance, trying to grow Pinot Noir in the southern Okanagan.  But the ‘heartbreak grape’ lived up to its reputation, suffering through the long hot summers.  It was soon either ripped out or grafted over with more suitable varietals, such as Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Shiraz.  Brooke Blair’s award-winning Shiraz thrives in the deep sandy soil beside a sun-warmed rock formation on the 49th parallel.  And winemakers have learned that the aspect and soils of the Black Sage bench are uniquely different from those of the Golden Mile, although these sites sit across from each other in the narrow valley near Oliver. 

Lawrence Herder explained that the components of his red assemblage come from three very different parcels in the Similkameen Valley.  “We’re barely discovering what to plant where.  Each section of the valley is a specific microclimate.”

But along with this diversity, there is a unique defining character to the wine of the Okanagan.  You might call it the essence of these BC wines.  Both David Scholefield and Anthony Gismondi highlighted the characteristic earthiness and the unique flavors of Okanagan wines.   “I think you’ll find a dry herbal character somewhere in every single one of these wines.  Herbal, savory character . . . when you see that, think Okanagan,” said David.  “I encourage visitors to get out of their car, walk off the road and look at the sagebrush and everything that’s growing there . . . and smell.  That scent is somehow transposed into our wines,” said Anthony.    

While there was great focus on the wines, Howard Soon reminded us all that you have to remember to lift your head up when you’re in the vineyard – there is a breathtaking view to be had, whether you are near the lake just south of Kelowna, in some of the higher vineyards near Okanagan Falls, or on the Black Sage bench near Oliver.  “Don’t forget the unique scenery that is the Okanagan.” 

So, if you’re planning a trip to a wine region, consider a visit to the Okanagan.  Whether you visit this dynamic wine region after next years Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival in 2010 (tip: the Okanagan Spring Winefest occurs April 29-May 8, 2010), during the peak summer months, or in the fall (the Fall Winefest is September 30-October 10, 2010), there are a wide range of wineries to visit, all led by people passionate about their wines and excited to share the fruit of their vines with you.

Drop me a note if you’re planning a trip to the Okanagan, as I’d be happy to help you plan your winery visits. 

Here are a few of the many BC wines I discovered while in Vancouver last month:

  • CedarCreek Ehrenfelser
  • Wild Goose Stony Slope Riesling
  • Thornhaven Estates Gewurztraminer
  • Road 13 Old Vine Chenin Blanc
  • Quail’s Gate Family Reserve Pinot Noir
  • Nk’Mip Qwam Qwmt Merlot
  • Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc
  • Jackson-Triggs Sunrock Vineyard Shiraz
  • Herder Winery Josephine
  • Mission Hill Quatrain
  • Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin

 Cheers & Enjoy,

 Susan

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BC Wines & Pinots: What a combo at the 2009 Playhouse Winefest

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
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Have I got you thinking about joining us at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival?  The Festival website now provides comprehensive information about all of the week long events planned from March 23 to 29, 2009.  Here are my ‘insider tips’ of some of the great opportunities available to all who participate – there will be over 180 wineries from 15 different countries pouring more than 1,600 wines at 61 unique events – heaven for any wine enthusiast!

This year, the Festival is an opportunity to showcase for the British Columiba wine industry to showcase it’s “coming of age”, showcasing over 150 grape wineries, several fruit wineries and thousands of acres planted to the vine.  The wineries of BC are driven to express the unique character of their terroir (winespeak for the microclimate, the soils, the vineyard aspect and the ‘je ne sais quoi’ of BC wines).  From Vancouver Island to the Fraser Valley to the Okanagan – from north to south – you’ll find wineries and wines that suit your palate.  Unfortunately, if you live in eastern Canada, you won’t see very many BC wines on your local wine store shelf as many of the wineries are relatively small.  Over 70% of their wines are snapped up by appreciative connoisseurs in BC and Alberta.  All the more reason to join the wine lovers heading join the Savvy Sommeliers in Vancouver.

Did you see the movie, Sideways?  Did you wish you were there, sampling all those wonderful Pinot Noir wines?  Well, here’s your chance.  The featured varietal at the 2009 Playhouse Festival is Pinot.

To quote the Festival organizers, Pinot is “believed to be derived from the characteristic pinecone shape of the grape bunches, the name Pinot encompasses a cluster of different varietals. Led by Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc – the Big Three, as it were – each grape asserts completely different characteristics and can be produced in a variety of styles. Pinot Noir can range from restrained and earthy to full and fruity, with every incarnation in between. Pinot Gris’ name even changes when the style changes. Pinot Grigio is used to describe the dry, grassy, refreshing style of Pinot Gris created by the Italians. Pinot Gris is generally fuller bodied when developed in cooler climates like Alsace, Oregon and British Columbia, where it can take on completely different flavours and reach amazing depths of complexity. And don’t forget about Pinot Blanc, which also produces fresh, exciting wines in a wide variety of styles. BC Pinot Blanc is reminiscent of summer fruit, pinched from the roadside fruit stand.”

If you come to the Festival, there are many opportunities to taste many BC wines and to sample Pinot from around the world.  For instance, on Monday or Tuesday, you could attend a winery dinner.  Consider tasting Burrowing Owl wines at the Glowbal Grill & Satay Bar, or enjoying Cuisine de Terroir at DB Bistro Moderne, paired with premium wines from Mission Hill Family Estate.

Consider a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on Thursday, when you can attend the Osoyoos Larose Component & Vertical Tasting.  I will be there!  Last fall, I had a private visit with Pascal Madevon, the French-born winemaker of Osoyoos-Larose, who asserted that he spends 80% of his time in the vineyards.  An engaging and articulate individual, Pascal talked about his passion for the vines, and his great expectations of his Okanagan wines.  I think you’ll agree this is a great opportunity to try the individual elements of this classic blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

The Pinot-Rama wine seminar on Thursday, led by Vancouver’s own David Scholefield, features an entertaining, educational tour of the world of Pinot, with a tasting of great pinots from around the world.  Friday and Saturday, join the thousands of people attending the International Festival Tasting, where over 180 wineries from 15 countries will be serving more than 700 wines.  Don’t worry, our Savvy Tasting Trails can help you find a path through the insanity.

Saturday, a wide range of lunch tastings are available, including:Our Land, Our Best (featuring BC wines), New Zealand’s Perfect Pairings, and Argentina’s Culinary Tango! 

You can also attend a wine seminar, Icons of British Columbia, which will feature benchmark examples of red and white BC wines.  Finally, if you sign up early, you might get a ticket to Sunday’s event-defining Vintner’s Brunch, where local chefs prepare delicacies artfully paired with a featured wine.  Or, if you prefer a Sunday evening event, consider the Great Estates of the Okanagan dinner, to be held at the Blue Water Café.

Excited?  Delighted?  Thrilled with the opportunity?  Don’t hesitate to contact Savvy Company for assistance with the planning of your trip to the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.  Tickets are selling fast.  Get ready to pack your bags – I will be providing you more insider tips on my blog about the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival!

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