Saturday, October 6, 2018

In 2018, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, with support from the Government House Foundation, and The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society announced a new partnership in recognizing the best of British Columbia wines with the creation of the British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards.

The British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards replaced the Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in B.C. Wine and the B.C. Wine Awards. The new competition is open to all licensed wineries in British Columbia, including fruit wines and mead. Bronze, silver and gold medals are awarded, with the top 1% of medal winners receiving the Lieutenant Governor’s platinum medal and with one wine receiving the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Best Wine in British Columbia.

This of course dramatically increases the number of winners.  To give credit to The Okanagan Festival they chose a very strong panel of judges for the event.

2018* platinum medal

Sperling Vineyards Sparkling Brut 2011 ($43.49 for 200 six-packs). This is a traditional Champagne method wine made with Pinot Blanc from a 1996 planting. The wine spent five years on the lees before being disgorged. It has classic bready/bisquity aromas and flavours from time on the lees. There are also flavours of citrus and apple. Good acidity gives the wine a crisp, tangy finish. The bubbles are fine and persistent. (My tasting notes.)

Black Hills Estate Winery Syrah 2016 ($39.90). This vintage of Syrah is elegant, offering notes of blackberry, blueberry, and black & white pepper on the nose with hints of cocoa and eucalyptus lingering in the background. Soft, supple tannins dominate the palate with rich black fruit carrying through for a mouth-watering finish. This wine will pair well with wild game and hearty red meat dishes. Enjoy now or cellar for up to eight years.

Hillside Estate Winery Reserve Pinot Gris 2017 ($24). Our classic Pinot Gris—luscious ripe fruit created scents of orange blossoms and vanilla mingled with tropical fruit aromas followed by a rich and supple mid-palate.

Kismet Estate Winery Syrah Reserve 2016 ($39.99). Syrah is especially suited to the warm dry climate of the South Okanagan, where it reaches full ripeness with deep purple colour and spicy aromas. Aged for 18 months in new French and American oak barrique barrels. Bright cherry red colour with a good depth and bluish hues at the rim. Intense red currant and red berry fruit aromas along with spice and vanilla. A lively, vibrant palate with intense flavours.

Kismet Estate Winery Cabernet Franc Reserve 2016 span>($39.99). Smokey toasty, blackberry, black cherry and leather. Sumptuous soft and seamless texture. Focused acidity lifts the fruit of this viscous wine. Structured bold and emery tannins complete the finish. Aged for 18 months in French and American barrique barrels.

Lake Breeze Vineyards Pinot Noir 2016 ($25.90 but sold out). Best wine of the show. This wine is a medium bodied elegant red with rich aromas and flavours of strawberries and plum, followed by a touch of warm spice. Well integrated tannins and generous length reflects the terroir of this estate grown Pinot Noir. An excellent structured wine designed for food.

Little Engine Winery Silver Pinot Noir 2016 .A beautiful ruby colour wine that beckons with initial notes of savoury herbs, dried brush and red fruit leather. Fresh and juicy start on the palate with bing cherries and dried hibiscus with a considerably lengthy finish highlighting spicy red fruits, anise and a touch of tarragon. Approachable and silky upon release this wine will develop well through 2023 under ideal cellaring conditions.

Moon Curser Vineyards Touriga Nacional 2016 ($39.99). The 2016 Touriga Nacional is a dry, medium-bodied red wine with a nose of spice, red fruits, fennel seed and floral notes. The palate is similar to the nose but with hints of leather, tobacco and cedar. Medium weight, with a silky mouthfeel and approachable tannin and acid structure, the wine delivers an intriguing profile of savoury and fruity characters.

Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay 2016($28.99). These Chardonnay grapes were whole-bunch pressed to extract the highest quality of juice. Complete malolactic fermentation during 10 months in French oak barrels developed the unique bouquet and mouth-feel. Rich and nutty in flavour, offering lots of caramel, marzipan and pear. Enticing and aromatic with subtle layering of honey and pineapple is followed by a lingering vanilla finish.

Quails’ Gate Estate Winery Totally Botrytis Affected Optima 2017 ($28.99 for 375 ml). For more than 25 years Quails’ Gate has become known for this wonderfully unique dessert wine. Our Optima grapes are grown at the base of the Quails’ Gate Estate vineyards where the proximity to the lake encourages a micro flora known as Botrytis Cinerea or Noble Rot to grow on the ripe grapes, which concentrates the flavours and intensifies the sugars to produce a Sauterne-style wine.

Rust Wine Co. Syrah 2016 ($37). Q Block is situated on the northern edge of the Black Sage Bench in Oliver. Sandy loam soils and a western aspect produce a Syrah with ripe black fruits, cracked pepper and olive notes. Will continue to age well for 5+ years.

Wild Goose Vineyards Mystic River Pinot Blanc 2017 ($16.52) The lovely aromas and flavours of this wine make it one of the unsung heroes of BC wines. This small production wine has a nose that shows melon & minerality, while the palate tastes of pear and white pepper. The buttery mouthfeel is balanced with a long finish that goes on and on and …

Wild Goose Vineyards Riesling 2017 ($16.52). This fruit forward Riesling comes from estate grown grapes, including the 33-year-old Wild Goose Vineyards and the 11-year-old Secrest Vineyards. Sweet reserve is added to balance the refreshing racy acidity, a “classic” method of winemaking. The nose shows aromas of floral, spice and apricot, while flavours of minerality and citrus follow.

Tasting notes are those of the wineries

The big surprise here was Sperling vineyards congratulation to them!

Winning Gold another surprise was Golden Hills Winery with 3 Golds. Pipe Dream another surprise winner with 2 gold. A surprise because we have not heard about these wines prior.

Bottom line BC makes great wines. But so many award events come on!

Friday, October 5, 2018


As the years have flowed by I have noticed that more and more establishments are placing tip jars on the counter. Of course, in today's modern world, the tip selection always pops up on the credit card or debit machine.                                                               

At one time we tipped a waitress/waiter when provided with good service. We looked at the job as been a starting position for people and they were of course underpaid so we gave then a quarter (dating myself) or a little more. Somewhere along the line "the rule" became 10%. Then we added the pizza delivery guy and the barber to the list of those we tip. We are not counting those we give to at Christmas such as the paperboy ( i mean person) or mailman ( once again  I mean person)

When I first started visiting wineries no one charged for tasting fees, now they do I fully support that. They too have now added the tip jar!    Maybe that is ok after all they do more than the person handing you a paper cup in a coffee shop saying the coffee is over there"   

But let me give you an example of a recent experience.     My wife and I took friends to visit a local winery, It involved a 45-minute drive. We arrived to find construction material in the parking lot, a workers car blocking driveway and an employees car parked near the front door leaving but one small space to park the car.    That left two people having to exit the car into the construction gravel pile.

Next we are startled by the sounds of a dog barking our eyes fell upon the black   Doberman, Thankfully the dog was behind a fence. We opened the door to the winery and were once again started by another black dog running towards us.       Just image the fright !

Once we realized this was just a  Labrador Puppy we dodged around more construction material.

We were quickly informed by the staff member the winery closed at 5 O'clock

I asked that a bottle of wine be serviced on the patio Sorry " we can not serve you, you can buy the wine and take it out with you" Okay. So I pulled out the debit card stuck it in the machine and clicked ok of course you already know what popped up on the screen "add a tip" staring choice 18%.

Listen to me as prices continue to rise my pension does not and thus 10% 15 % whatever is always more and more. Yet service is less and less.

Well, that's my negative blog for today I blame a certain president for by bad attitude today.

Oh and by the way AT precisely 5 pm we were asked to leave.

We actually over tip today what is a decreasing quality in service.


Friday, September 21, 2018

Make mine Scrambled

Egg whites, or albumen, is one such fining agent used to clarify red wines. Egg whites are particularly good for removing tannin particles, especially green or harsh tannins, rendering the wine more round and soft in texture.

When wine finishes fermenting there are still suspended particles of dead yeast cells, fragments of grape pulp, skins and stems, tartrates and colloids (tannins, proteins and phenolic particles) floating throughout the liquid. Add eggs helps to clear these particles and provide that fine clear look one expects from a white wine. Gravity, itself can do this but the egg speeds up the process. Depending on the size of the egg, between three and eight egg whites are used within a 225 liter barrel of red wine.

The proteins in egg whites, milk, fish bladders, seaweed or volcanic clay are known to attract and bind to these tannins or solids, which then clump together and fall out of suspension to the bottom of a barrel or tank. Then the wine is then typically “racked,” or moved to another container, leaving behind the sediment and fining agent.

Worried about allergies most researchers say there is not enough egg particles left in the finished product to worry about. However, they do no all agree. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Icewine is a rare gift from a magical Canadian winter. Picked at the coldest moment of a winter's night, each frozen grape creates just one drop of Icewine. One smooth rich, luxurious drop. Peller Estates

One of nature's most exquisite gifts one of the world's most luscious and celebrated wines. It is one of the most difficult and challenging processes for the winemaker.

Canada is the world leader in producing amazing Ice Wines

Making Icewine is a Canadian game, we may not have invented it but we have perfected it. Canada's Niagara region has the long, warm summers and cold winters that create the ideal conditions for Icewine.** The Icewine harvest, done entirely by hand, commences once the temperature drops below -10 to -13 degrees Celsius and the grapes have naturally frozen on the vines. As the frozen grapes are pressed, the natural water portion of the juice remains within the grape skins in the form of ice crystals. A tiny but precious ration of highly concentrated juice is expressed. The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia also produces outstanding Icewines as do Nova Scotia and Quebec.

The discovery of Icewine was accidental. Due to a cool summer and exceptionally cold winter in 1794, wine producers in Franconia, Germany, by virtue of necessity, created Icewine by pressing juice from frozen grapes. They were amazed by the high sugar concentration. It was not until the mid 1800's, however, that Icewine was intentionally made. This occurred in the Rheingau region.

Grapes are left on the vine well into the winter months. The resulting freezing and thawing of the grapes dehydrates the fruit and concentrates the sugars, acids, and extracts in the fruit, thereby intensifying the flavours and adding complexity to the wine. This juice is then fermented very slowly for several months, stopping naturally. Genuine Icewine must be naturally produced; no artificial freezing is permitted.

The icewine harvest, done entirely by hand, commences once the temperature drops below -10 to -13 degrees Celcius and the grapes have frozen naturally on the vines. As the frozen grapes are pressed, the natural water portion of the juice remains within the grape skins in the form of ice crystals. A tiny but precious ration of highly concentrated juice is expressed.

The juice from wine grape is about one-fifth the amount you would normally get if you pressed unfrozen grapes. To put it another way, a vine will normally produce sufficient grapes to make a bottle of wine; but frozen grapes will produce only one glass of Icewine. This would explain the difference in price between the two.

The finished Icewine is intensely sweet and flavourful in the initial mouth sensation. The balance is achieved by the acidity, which gives a clean, dry finish. The nose of Icewine recalls lychee nuts. The wine tastes of tropical fruits, with shadings of peach nectar and mango. The high sugar levels lead to a slower than normal fermentation.

The signature of a great Icewine is the balancing tension between the sweetness and the acidity, with seductive tropical fruit flavours followed by a crisp, bracing finish which, when the wine is swallowed, is vividly refreshing. This brilliantly focused acidity distinguishes the icewine from sauternes and accounts for the freshness.* The finished Icewine creates a unique sensation on the palate.

Renowned for fruit flavours ranging from mango to peach to lychees, Icewine is truly a natural wonder and extreme winemaking at its best, yielding the impressions of tropical tastes wrought from the frigid extremes of the icy Canadian winterscape.***

Typical grapes used for Icewine production are: Riesling Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc and, interestingly, the red grape, Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc Icewine is a light pink colour, similar to a Rosé wine.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Mac and  Cheese

Making a move towards to title of most "asked Question" What wines go best with Mac & Cheese.

Now I have to omit I love wine, but it has been a while since I have had Mac & Cheese. Nobody can make Mac & cheese the way my mother could.

Since the question has been asked numerous times I decide to find out the answer. Which means I had my wife order Mac & Cheese at a local restaurant along with the wine she orders at this restaurant. This would be a Jackson Triggs Cabernet Sauvignon. She enjoyed the dish along with the wine.

I was drinking a Riesling. I tasted her dish and found it pair extremely well with Riesling also from Jackson-Triggs.

In doing some research  Wine Spectator liked the earthy tones of the Pinot Noir to enhance a Mac & Cheese dish with mushrooms. Other wine folks have suggested Chardonnay, Ortega or Bacchus.

Next time we visit this restaurant I am going to have the  Mac & Cheese with a White Meritage

Monday, August 27, 2018

One vs Two

When it comes to serving alcohol there are a number of rules and regulations that must be followed. Some are very beneficial and worth enforcing, others well they do not make sense.

On Saturday my wife, friends and I attended the ball game at Nats Bailey Stadium. Beer sales are allowed in the ballpark with numerous locations to obtain your beer, along with vendors walking the stands.  The rule here says you can only purchase two beer at a time. Two been the keyword.

Now, yesterday visiting at a very busy restaurant there was a table wait. It was happy hours so I went to the bar to purchase a glass of wine for the two of us. I place my order one white and one red wine, please. The bartender shook his head and said I can't do that. I'll talk about his response in a moment.

Okay why at the ballpark I may purchase two beer but in a restaurant, I can't purchase two wines.  The bartender says he was only following the law. The law is different! That makes no sense.

The bartender I am sure has a Serving It Right licence  This is a mandatory self-study course that educates licensees, managers and servers about their legal responsibilities when serving alcohol in British Columbia.

Now I checked out this serving it right some people doing tastings at wine events have it some have never heard of it.

Getting back to the bartender. His approach was rather wrong he should have offered an apology saying the law prohibits him from serving two glasses to one person. Shaking his head! Even when I pointed to the entrance where my wife was waiting for a table he refused to provide the wine. Perhaps he forgot this part of the Serving it Right program:

an establishment must provide a pleasant service experience. Staff members are the strongest control point and the key to a good service experience, profitability and repeat business.
Responsible service is simply good customer service, and it results in happy guests returning to the establishment. Staff can help control the rate of service, monitor patron behaviour, sell profitable alternatives and create a friendly atmosphere by simply spending some time talking to customers.

I went and told my dear wife she had to come to the bar and show the bartender there were two of us.
We obtained our wine and moments later found ourselves seated at the table. Here we were ignored by the waitress having seen the wine on the table she thought the other girl had taken our order. Lol

Once the waitress was informed the service was wonderful as was the food.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Yes I love Canadian Wines! My wife and I have been shouting about them since 1992. It will be 26 years ago this Sept, that we became interested in Wines. It all began when by chance we found ourselves spending part of our honeymoon in Napa Valley.

We returned home to start a website and enjoy wines from around the world. The website was called Wines of the World. It was quite the task to list all the countries that actually produced wine. However, one thing was clear in all the wine books we could find not one mentioned Canada.

Ater deciding the task of looking at the entire world was maybe too huge of an undertaking and realizing no one was buying Canadian wines we changed our website to Wines of Canada. We purchased the Domain  Wines of . (no ca. back then)

It was not too much longer after that I discovered a book on Canadian wineries written by Ontario author Tony Aspler.  Tony today is considered to be one of Canada's top wine authors with a well-respected reputation.

Shortly after that, I discovered a second book on Canada's wine industry this one written by author John Schreiner.  My original website was build upon the work of these two fine gentlemen.

In 1992 there was only one other website that focused on Canada's wines. It was more of a chat room. It was gone a few years later, leaving as the only site focusing on Canada.

In 1992 and the years that followed no one else paid attention to the industry, that I was aware of. A few regional websites popped up but quickly went by the wayside. In later years bloggers came along hundreds of them. Wine columns began appearing in Newspapers.  They either focus on regional wines or imported wines. These bloggers and newspaper writers cover old world wines more than Canadian wines.

Today besides Mr Aspler and Mt Schreiner, I am perhaps the leading promoter of the Canadian wine industry. A very daunting task considering it is only a hobby to me.