Posts Tagged British Columbia

Favorite Moments Of The Wine Blogger Conference (Part 2)

19 June 2013
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Dessert wines from Greece

6. Wines of Greece Tasting: When I tell people that the Wines of Greece tasting was a real highlight of the Wine Bloggers Conference,  many people are taken aback, still traumatized by memories of Retsina. This tasting, however, left no doubt as to the potential of Greek wines today. Sunny whites from Santorini, rich reds made from barely pronounceable varieties like Agiorgitiko and Xinomavro, eye-poppingly vivacious dessert wines — taken together, they put to rest the notion that Greeks don’t make great wine. More specifics on this tasting to come.


Old Fairview town site

7. Ghost Town Tasting: One evening, we headed to the site of Fairview, a gold-mining boom town which was subsequently abandoned. Little remains today, but the site made for a spectacular progressive wine tasting. We meandered along gently rolling paths from tent to tent, tasting an array of delicious wines, the cloud-capped peak of Old Baldy (above) watching over us in the distance. Some favorites:

  • 2012 Gehringer Brothers Gewürztraminer-Schönburger: This 50/50 blend had a nose of caramel popcorn that made me positively shiver with anticipation. I was not disappointed. I wrote, “Dry, spicy, fruity, aromatic — yes. Yum.”
  • 2012 Oliver Twist “Oliver’s Choice” Kerner: I’ve written positively about Kerner before, and this example also proved delightful. It smelled of honeysuckle, rubber and funk, and it tasted fruity, savory, spicy and exotic. Unusual and great fun.
  • 2012 Tinhorn Creek 2Bench Rosé: This blend of 51% Cabernet Franc and 49% Syrah had a beautiful aroma which made me think of strawberry-topped crème brûlée. The flavor profile was exactly what I look for in a rosé: fruity, juicy, zesty and dry.
  •  2010 Stoneboat Vineyards Pinotage: I never thought a wine made from this South African variety would make my list of favorite anything, but this British Columbian Pinotage had a richly creamy red fruit aroma, a velvety texture, ample red fruit on the palate, rustic acids and a non-overpowering vegetal note. The best Pinotages I’ve had in recent memory.
  • 2005 Fairview Cellars “Two Hoots”: The winery currently sells the 2010 vintage of this Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend, and if that’s all you can find, buy it and lay it down for a couple more years. The 2005 sucked me right in with a very deep, jammy aroma, and despite the rich fruit, its structure managed to be tight and focused. Delicious, especially considering that this is a wine “priced for daily consumption.”


Jon and the Feet of God!

8. The Feet of God!: Jon makes a superlative Argentinean Malbec called “Hand of God,” which you should snap up immediately should you be fortunate enough to come across a bottle. It has a richly dark, plummy aroma, some zingy acids and powerful focus. But Jon’s bright-orange shoes stole the show, especially in the black light of the bus. “Those are the feet of God!” a gleefully stentorian Jon pronounced.


One bajillon grapes go into every bottle!!!

9. The Inniskillin Ice Wine Presentation: This presentation felt too salesy, but it proceeded smoothly enough until this PowerPoint slide hit the screen. Then there it was, in giant font, the biggest whopper I’d heard since Eric Holder denied being involved in the subpoena of news media phone records. One half a ton (please forgive the American spelling) of grapes in every bottle of ice wine. Zow.

Now I’m just guessing here, but I think that would mean the entire grape harvest of North America would have to be diverted to Inniskillin. A couple of alert audience members questioned the speaker, and I tweeted my incredulity about the numbers. Nk’Mip Cellars responded to my tweet, writing, “Our bad. Our winemaker Randy Picton advises its more like 500, 375ml bottles. Thanks for checking in.”

Two bottles, 500 bottles… it’s just a rounding error, really.


Riunite, baby!

10. Lambrusco Tasting in the Riunite RV: There came a time on the last evening of the Wine Bloggers Conference when the pull of the Riunite RV finally became irresistible. I collected some of my favorite people at the conference, including noted Vancouver-based wine writer Kristof Gillese and Steve and Jane of the well-regarded 2 Hollywood Winos blog, pulled them out of a perfectly lovely Jordan Winery after party, and headed down to the hotel’s parking lot. The Riunite RV gleamed under the lot’s lights, and we climbed aboard.

Inside, we discovered two leather sofas and a distressingly red queen-size bed, along with plenty of swag such as red-and-white Riunite-emblazoned sunglasses. The Riunite rep encouraged me to try a Lambrusco and beef jerky pairing. And by God, if in that moment — in that wonderfully ridiculous RV, after days of carefully contemplating dozens and dozens of serious wines — that sweet/salty pairing wasn’t perfectly delicious, my name isn’t Odd Bacchus.

Favorite Moments Of The Wine Blogger Conference (Part 1)

15 June 2013

Lake Okanagan

1. Waking up each morning to this view of Lake Okanagan.


The view from Tsillan

2. Dinner with Tsillan Cellars‘ owners Mr. & Mrs. Bob Jankelson. The hillside setting of Tsillan presents panoramic views of Lake Chelan, and the well-crafted wines — available only in the tasting room or through the wine club — provide yet more incentive to visit. The Chardonnay tasted rich but balanced and focused; I enjoyed the tight and earthy Sinistra (a Sangiovese-based blend); and about the fruity and full-bodied Bellissima Rossa, I wrote “Yes.” The company was just as good as the wines. My favorite part of the evening came when Mrs. Jankelson asked, with disarming frankness, “So, can you tell me, what is wine blogging? And why is it important?”


Karma owner Julie Pittsinger and winemaker Craig Mitrakul

3. Sparkling Wine Brunch at Karma Vineyards. This winery convinced me, along with quite a few of my fellow bloggers, that Lake Chelan’s specialty might well be sparkling wines. Each of the wines we tasted had impressively small, pointy bubbles and bright acids, ensuring that they pair well with a range of foods. My favorites were the 2010 Karma Brut, which had rich apple fruit and balanced lemony acids, and (despite the unfortunate name) the 2011 Hard Row to Hoe “Good in Bed” Blanc de Noir, with its beautiful texture, pronounced berry flavor and juicy, orangey acids.


Sarah pouring Moon Curser

4. Bus Tastings. We spent a lot of time on buses at the Wine Blogger Conference this year, for better or worse, and the conference organizers had no intention of wasting that time. Why just sit there when you can be drinking wine? The best bus tasting culminated with a 2011 Moon Curser Petit Verdot, a variety which appears in Bordeaux-style blends far more often than in a varietal wine. It had a gorgeous mocha aroma, dark fruit, rustic tannins, a zing of acids and an aromatic finish. Delicious. The winery takes its name from local gold smugglers, who would curse the full moon as they tried to sneak their booty across the border at night.


Hainle Gewürztraminer Ice Wine

5. 2010 Hainle Vineyards Estate Winery Gewürztraminer Ice Wine. Kristof Gillese led a fascinating session about judging wine, selecting several delicious British Columbian wines for us to sample. I very much enjoyed the rich and lively 1996 Summerhill Pyramid Winery sparkling wine, the cheery and earthy 2008 Tinhorn Creek Old Field Series Pinot Noir, and the velvety and peppery 2009 Painted Rock Merlot.

But the Hainle Gewürztraminer Ice Wine was staggeringly delicious. It’s rare to see a Gewürztraminer ice wine, I learned, because the fruit usually falls off the vine before the first frost, or at the very least loses its acidity. Conditions have to be just right, and with this wine, Hainle hit a home run. It had a rich but fresh honeysuckle aroma, and such verve on the palate! It started lush and sweet, as you might expect, but then startlingly zesty acids kicked in, followed by a pop of white-pepper spice. On the finish, I got a touch of orange along with an aromatic tobacco note. It was sublime. If you can find a way to get to Hainle to taste this wine, for God’s sake, do it.