Posts Tagged ‘Burrowing Owl Winery’

If I only had $100…I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Susan

Friday, September 26th, 2014
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The September 27 LCBO Vintages release features New World Ground-breakers, wineries known for their innovative practices and outstanding wines. As suggested in the catalogue and demonstrated by the founders of these historic wineries, “the wine visionary starts with an unplanted vineyard and creates something amazing.”

LCBO Vintages magazine Sept 27

Visionaries in the wine world

Included in this feature is the iconic Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon from California’s Wagner family ; Chile’s Errazuriz, where Eduardo Chadwick is pushing the cool-climate envelope in the country’s coastal regions; and Argentina’s Catena, where Nicolás Catena and his daughter Laura are producing vibrant, concentrated wines from their high-altitude vineyards. South Africa presents its cool-climate gem, the Hamilton-Russell Pinot Noir, Cloudy Bay is recognized for putting New Zealand on the wine world map, and, of course, Australia’s success with the Shiraz grape variety is featured in Two Hands wines from McLaren Vale.

…and ground breakers close to home

Canada has not been left out! You’ll find Niagara’s Rockway Vineyard’s well-balanced ‘Small Lot’ Meritage and Organized Crimes’ Sauvignon Blanc among the mix. Don’t miss the creamy Chardonnay and powerful, concentrated Cabernet Franc from the south Okanagan’s Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, recognized as a leading producer of quality B.C. wines. Hardly surprising, these wineries exemplify long family traditions of commitment to the land and excellence in winemaking.

A Passion for Portugal

The old world is not to be forgotten, as the secondary feature focuses on Portugese wines—the country is not just known for Port—including well-known light and fresh Vinho Verde (vinified from the Alvarinho grape) and a series of intense, flavourful blended red wines produced from native grapes made famous by Port, such as Touriga Nacional, Tinto Roriz and Touriga Franca. Portugal has a long history of grape growing and wine making; it exported wine to the Roman and British Empires! And the Douro is one of the oldest designated wine-making regions in the world. Take advantage of the great value to be found among these wines, one of which is included in our selection.

Ready for Thanksgiving?

It’s just around the corner so this release ensures that you have an array of wines to serve with ham, turkey, roast beef or a vegetarian option. You can choose from flavourful Riesling, ripe Pinot Grigio, lush Chardonnay, earthy Pinot Noir, classic Chianti, or robust Cabernet Sauvignon. For something a little different, consider the a Touriga Nacional or a fresh Stoney Ridge Cranberry Wine!

Cheers,

Susan
susan@savvyselections.ca

 

 If I had $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages…

September 27, 2014

  

Henry of Pelham Estate RieslingHenry of Pelham Estate Riesling 2012

VQA Short Hills Bench, Ontario
$17.95 (Vintages 557165) 11.5% alcohol

Pale straw, this white wine offers lovely mineral notes mingling with orchard fruit and citrus. Dry, medium bodied, dashing clean acidity underlines the flavours of lime zest, ripe apple and pear. The fine silky texture and crisp refreshing finish make it a must-have wine, and a great choice for Thanksgiving ham or turkey. Pick up a few bottles!

 

Bestheim Pinot GrisBestheim ‘Réserve’ Pinot Gris 2012

AOC Alsace, France
$15.95 (Vintages 315143) 13.0% alcohol

This off-dry award winning white wine is loaded with rich stone fruit and melon aromas and flavours. The ripe fruit is nicely balanced by a backbone of lively acidity, while a hint of sweet grapefruit and a touch of pithiness add a lift on the finish. Enjoy chilled with gently spiced Asian dishes or ginger-maple marinated salmon.

 

 

Versado MalbecVersado Malbec 2013

Luján de Cuyo, Argentina
$25.95 (Vintages 317008) 14.8% alcohol

Canada’s Ann Sperling and husband Peter Gamble are the magicians behind this big, bold Malbec. Inky, opaque, the basket of aromas includes a bevy of black fruits, sweet spice and notions of cedar. Dry, full bodied, the palate is awash with plush, velvety black fruit, while fine-grained underlying tannins and fine acidity create balance. There’s warmth on the finish and appealing notes of vanilla, toast, dried fruits and white pepper adding to the intensity of the wine. Savour and serve with rare grilled meats.

 

 

Rockway Estate ‘Small Lot’ Meritage 2011

Twenty Mile Bench
$19.95 (Vintages #388262) 13.0% alcohol

Evocative and complex aromas of sweet black fruits, vanilla, earth, smoky toast, spiced rose and herbs tantalize the nose. Dry, medium-full bodied, this blend of the Cabernets and Merlot flows across the palate like velvet, offering power and harmony, a fresh texture and supple tannins to balance the savoury ripe fruit, and lovely notes of dark chocolate and dried herbs through the long, flavourful finish. An excellent value, this finely crafted candidate for the cellar will pair well with full-flavoured meat dishes.

 

Quinta da PancasQuinta de Pancas Seleccão do Enólogo 2010

DOC Lisboa, Portugal
$18.95 (Vintages #380931) 13.5% alcohol

This award-winning blend is dense and inky, offering tantalizing aromas of vanilla, smoke, fresh black berry and dried fruits. Dry, medium-full bodied red, it’s smooth and velvety in texture, substantial and rich on the palate.  The ripe fruit flavours are framed by ripe tannins and fine acidity, and enhanced by well-integrated oak. Notes of exotic spice extend through the full-flavoured finish. Serve with hearty meat dishes.

 

 

GRAND TOTAL $98.75

 

 

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Tuscany & Thanksgiving wines at Vintages – this shopping list is under $100

Posted by Susan

Thursday, September 26th, 2013
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Italy’s Tuscany wine region is the main attraction in this weekend’s LCBO Vintages release (beginning on Sept 28th). The classic ‘big three’ red wines crafted from the native grape variety, Sangiovese—Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Brunello—and a number of blended red wines, usually classified as IGT  (Indicazione geografica tipica), that bring to the palate the impact of classic French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Sangiovese grapes, photo F. Sgroi

Explore the world of Super Tuscans

Some may know the story of how the Maremma, the coastal region of Italy on the Mediterranean, was the birthplace of what were called the ‘Super-Tuscans’. Mario Incisa della Rocchetta planted his first vineyard in the area with the intention of producing some Bordeaux-style red wines for his personal consumption. The wine he called ‘Sassicaia’, commercially released in 1968, along with Antinori’s Tignanello, launched the Super-Tuscan phemonema.

Over time, as this style of wine became more popular and spread more broadly through many Italian wine regions, the regulations were expanded to include the designation IGT to incorporate these unique wines into the standards of Italian wine law. These wines come from a specific geographic area, meet specified quality standards, and may also bear the name of the grape varieties from which they were produced. As an example of the longstanding presence of non-native varieties in Italy’s winemaking history, the Capezzana ‘Barco Reale’ di Carmignano (a great value) comes from a DOCCarmignano—which has always required the inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon in its blends. To quote the September 28 LCBO Vintages magazine, the IGT style ‘embodies the interplay of tradition and innovation that has always been at the heart of Tuscan winemaking’.

Give Thanks with Great Wines 

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, this release brings a cornucopia of wines to choose from. There are Rieslings from Ontario, Alsace and Germany; Chardonnay from California and Australia.  If you are prepping your Thanksgiving feast early, here are my top picks at the table; a richly flavoured Merlot from Ontario’s Angels Gate; the fabulous ‘Goldeneye’ Pinot Noir from Duckhorn or the classic Mercury of Domaine Faiveley; and Cascina Gilli’s clean yet concentrated Barbera d’Asti. For a Canadian sweep at the Thanksgiving table, consider starting with Sumac Ridge Steller’s Jay Sparkling Brut, moving to a choice of Angel’s Gate Mountainview Merlot or Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling for the main, and then consider the hedonistic pleasures of Château des Charmes’ Vidal Ice Wine for dessert!

From the general release, I’m putting a focus on cellarable wines, including Paul Hobbs’ always impressive, concentrated ‘Crossbarn’ Cabernet Sauvignon, a great value Bordeaux—Château les Hauts de Palette—and from the Okanagan, Burrowing Owl’s 2010 Merlot.

Cheers and Enjoy!

Susan

Nottola Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2009

Montepulciano, Italy
$19.95 (Vintages #184960) 14.0% alcohol

Absolutely delectable, this fine red wine shows restrained aromas of red fruit, spice, earth and delicate floral notes. Dry, medium-full bodied and satiny in texture, the wash of intense red fruit is nicely offset by a spine of lively acidity and subtle tannins. Elegantly integrated oak offers a spicy note that accents the earthiness that persists on the finish. Enjoy this red wine now and over the next few years.

 

Lapostolle ‘Cuvée Alexandre Apalta Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Colchagua Valley, Chile
$24.95 (Vintages #947929) 14.0% alcohol

Deep purple, this powerful red wine produced from organic grapes offers great complexity and layers of aromas and flavours, including cassis, mint, spiced flowers, dried herbs and tobacco. Dry, full bodied, displaying gripping tannins and clean acidity, it has a firm base from which to showcase ripe, concentrated red and black fruits. Hints of sweet spice and pepper, along with a whiff of espresso linger on the finish. Cellar a further year or two, or decant and serve with rare red meats.

 

Graffigna ‘Centenario’ Late Harvest Malbec 2012

San Juan, Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages #322719) 12.5% alcohol

Deep ruby, this is a delightful incarnation of Malbec, offering tantalizing aromas of dried cranberries and black cherries, ripe dark berries and hints of smoke and spice. The jammy red fruit is attractively balanced with a backbone of clean acidity, notes of spice add interest, and there’s freshness on the finish. Serve this red wine with flourless chocolate almond cake.

 

Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$17.95 (Vintages #89029) 10.0% alcohol

Light-medium bodied and almost transparent, this is a fine value white wine bursting with aromas of nectarine, Japanese pear and lemon/lime. The sensation is one of subtly-wrought balance, the flavours suggesting the sweetness of lemon curd, along with lime, crisp apple and a touch of mineral.

 

Dry Creek ‘Heritage’ Zinfandel 2010

Sonoma County, California
$21.95 (Vintages #574491) 13.5% alcohol

Inky and deep, this absolutely fabulous Zin offers rich blueberry and currant aromas, exotic spice notes, vanilla, earth and savoury toasty oak. Dry, full and rich, the dark fruit is succulent and spicy, the oak well integrated. The subtle structure brings great balance and harmony to the whole and delivers a surprisingly clean freshness on the big, fruity finish. Wow! You’ll want to stock up on this red wine!

 

Grand Total: $99.30

 

 

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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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