Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Discoveries At Taste Victoria

By: John Schreiner

Discoveries at Taste - Victoria's Festival of Food and Wine


Photo: Rocky Creek's Mark and Linda Holford at Taste

One of the major Okanagan wineries chose to sit out Taste – Victoria’s Festival of Food and Wine because winery officials thought the turnout for last year’s Taste (the first) was a bit lukewarm.

I have news: this year’s turnout was better and, from my observation, the 33 British Columbia wineries attending were happy with the response. In fact, Vivianne Hanson, one of owners of Seven Stones Winery, a rising star in the Similkameen, was ecstatic at how consumers were responding to the Seven Stones wines.

Numerous Okanagan and Similkameen wineries were at Taste for the first time. For some, it may have been the first time that they were showing wines in Victoria.

Of course, it is a reflection of the times. The number of wineries in British Columbia has tripled in the last decade. Getting and keeping market share is a lot harder than it once was.

The winery I was most surprised (and pleased) to see there was Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars. In the 1990s, this was the Okanagan’s original cult winery. Fans clamoured for Blue Mountain wines, which usually sold out in days or weeks of release.

These days, Blue Mountain wines no longer sell out in a blink. The wines are as good as ever but there is a growing list of competing cult wineries. So Blue Mountain is showing up a more festivals, doing some winemaker dinners and offering wine for sale in private wine stores.

Sitting out events like Taste may not be an option.

The 33 producers at Thursday evening’s public tasting included two Vancouver Island cideries, Victoria Gin and Artisan SakeMaker at Granville Island. These 33 had tables throughout Victoria’s Crystal Gardens, intermingled with food stations from some of the city’s best restaurants. Crystal Gardens is spacious enough that there seemed no serious overcrowding in front of winery or restaurant tables. Even so, it was not possible to visit everyone in the time available.

I did my best. Here are notes on some of the more notable wines.

Alderlea Vineyards 2007 Merlot ($28). There is only one way to ripen Merlot on Vancouver Island and that is to start it growing each spring under a plastic tent. Alderlea’s Roger Dosman was one of the earliest of island producers to tent. The result is a big, generous, plummy wine. 88-90

Alderlea Vineyards 2007 Matrix ($28). This is the new name for Fusion. An Argentinean winery, Zuccardi, has a big volume brand called FuZion but had neglected to trademark it in Canada. So they bought Alderlea’s trademark and Alderlea rebranded its wine as Matrix. This red is made from Cabernet Foch, one of the crosses from Valentin Blattner in Switzerland. The flavour is closer to Cabernet than to Foch, with dramatic aromas of herbs and spices. It tastes of red plum and currants and has piquant acidity. It is a new taste profile among B.C. wines. 88.

Alderlea Vineyards 2009 Bacchus ($16). The spicy aromatics of Bacchus can be over the top sometimes – but not here. This is complex wine with tangy orange peel and spice flavours, none of which will overpower food. 89.

Alderlea Vineyards 2006 Pinot Noir Reserve ($32). The wine begins with aromas of plums and black cherries which carry through to the flavours. The texture is classically silky but the wine has the structure to age for another several years. 89.

Blue Mountain Vineyards & Cellars 2008 Pinot Blanc ($18). The wine is crisp and disciplined, with fresh, clean tastes of citrus and green apples. 88.

Blue Mountain Vineyards & Cellars 2008 Pinot Gris ($21). An attractive fresh, crisp white with flavours of pears and citrus and a hint anise on the finish. 89-90.

Blue Mountain Vineyards & Cellars 2008 Pinot Noir ($25). Since opening in 1992, this winery has been a leader in Okanagan Pinot Noirs. This is a delicious wine, full of fruit flavours, with a velvet texture and an elegant, finessed finish. 90.

Jackson-Triggs 2007 SunRock Shiraz ($34.99). This winery offers three different Shiraz wines and at least one Shiraz-Cabernet blend and all are good. But this single vineyard Shiraz really stands out – a bold, ripe wine with rich spicy fruit flavours recalling a Christmas pudding. 92.

Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery 2009 Unwooded Chardonnay ($15). It would be great to have a few bottles of this chilled for whenever the thirst hits. It has fresh, tangy citrus and peach flavours and the vivacity you get from New Zealand whites. 87.

Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery 2007 Summit Pinot Noir ($20). This wine, which has a silky texture and aromas and flavours of strawberry, delivers great value in a budget-priced Pinot. 88.

Muse Winery 2007 Grande Dame Rouge ($34.90). This blend of five Bordeaux varietals is from a Vancouver Island winery that makes wines both from island grapes and, in the case of its Big Red, from Okanagan grapes. This wine has a deep colour and flavours of spice, plum, currants and chocolate, with long, ripe tannins. 89.

Peller Estates 2008 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.99). This may be the best budget-priced Cabernet in B.C., with flavours of currants and spice and with long ripe tannins, giving it body and the potential for aging a few years. 88.

Peller Estates 2008 Family Series Merlot ($14.49). Here is screaming good value, a generous, soft-textured Merlot with blackberry and blueberry flavours. 88,

Rocky Creek Winery 2008 Pinot Noir ($21.90). In a tough vintage, winemaker Mark Holford concentrated the fruit flavours and the colour by bleeding off some juice for rosé. This is a clean, fresh Pinot Noir with hints of raspberry. 87.

Salt Spring Vineyards 2009 Blattner White ($N.A.). This wine is so new that the winery has not yet come up with a proprietary name. It is a blend of Petit Milo and Epicure, two white varieties created by Swiss breeder Valentin Blattner. These are early-ripening varieties. In last year’s summer the winery was surprised by how fast the grapes ripened. The outcome is a lovely honeyed wine with enough acidity still to have a tangy finish. A conversation piece and there are only 100 cases. 88.

Salt Spring Vineyards Karma 2007 ($34.90). A traditional sparkling wine made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the current release has spent 18 months in bottle. The next release of this same vintage is due in about six months. The strategy is to monitor the impact of aging on the wine’s acidity. This release is dry and steely and crisp. 87.

Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse Wild English 2008 ($12 for a half litre). The product gets its name from the fact that juice of English cider apples was fermented with natural yeast. The tangy apple flavours and the spine of light tannins give this dry cider a clean, refreshing finish. 90

Seven Stones 2008 Pinot Noir ($28). Another attractive velvet-texture red with notes of strawberry and cherry. The finish of this delicious wine lingers and lingers. 88-90.

Seven Stones 2008 Row 128 Merlot ($25). Owner and winemaker George Hanson says this Merlot grows in a part of his vineyard that has an almost spiritual ambiance to it. You can imagine how he treats the grapes. This juicy Merlot has bright fruit flavours of cherry and plum with a hint of spice, likely from 18 months the wine was in barrel. 90.

Starling Lane Celebration N.V. ($N.A.) Made in the traditional Champagne style, this is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The latter variety gives the wine a hint of colour and fruity flavours. In a blind tasting you might mistake this for Champagne, with its toasty notes, its fruit, its fine bubbles and its long, long finish. This is sold out at the winery but the next release is due this fall. 90.

Therapy Vineyards 2008 Chardonnay ($N.A.). This is a classic barrel-aged Chardonnay, with complex flavours of citrus, butterscotch and cloves. 89-90.

Therapy Vineyards 2007 Freud’s Ego ($16). Great value, this delicious wine has gobs of black cherry and currant flavours, with ripe tannins. A terrific Bordeaux blend at this price. 90.

Venturi Schulze Vineyards 2009 Millefiori ($23). This pristine and focussed aromatic white, a blend of Ortega and Siegerrebe, has a lovely aroma of tropical flowers and fruits, leading to vivid flavours of tropical fruits. The finish is crisp and refreshing. 90. The winery also offers a barrel-aged wine, Terracotta 2009 (also 90), from the same two grapes. Winemaker Giordano Venturi said he wanted to make a wine like an old-fashioned Burgundy. I think he succeeded.

Venturi Schulze Vineyards Brut Naturel 2007 ($32). The elegant and dry sparkling wine is made in the traditional Champagne method, spending enough time in the bottle on yeast less to acquire a classic bready aroma. The flavours are delicately fruity. The fine bubbles give the wine a creamy texture, even though the finish is crisp. 88.

Twitter @LocalFoodWine * FaceBook/LocalFoodAndWine

*Local Food And Wine *


Posted via email from Okanagan Food And Wine

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cuisine Concepts

New takes on common concepts:  Lobster on the fly; Guest-cheffing; apple pie a la derriere; and Patty's Pizza takes its cue from Koji Bbq...

1. LE TROISIEME LIEU — Stealing a tradition from music and comedy clubs, Paris bar Le Troisième Lieu has declared Mondays as 'open kitchen nights': any aspiring chef can register to be the venue's cook for the evening. All meals cost EUR 12.

2. PUBLIC PIE — Dutch mobile kitchen Public Pie features ovens that are integrated into the outdoor benching that is provided for patrons, meaning customers get exactly what is promised by the company motto: 'Fresh apple pie with a hot butt'.

3. PATTY'S PIZZA — Santa Monica pizza maker Patty's has done away with its brick-and-mortar eatery altogether, and moved its retail operation entirely online. On top of that, customers can choose to have their gourmet pizzas delivered baked or par-baked, giving them the option of completing the process their own oven.

4. LOBSTER PUSHER — How to make a sandwich more exciting to consumers? The Lobster Pusher's answer is to make the act of buying one emulate a drug deal. Customers interested in The Merchandise—a lobster bun—must first become a member of a Facebook group. Orders for product are conducted by SMS, and handovers take place surreptitiously on street corners.

Thanks to: Food Inspiration






Posted via email from Local Food And Wine

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

2004 Château La Bienfaisance 'Sanctus' Saint-Emilion Grand Cru

By: The Wine Spies


Mission Codename: Holy Vines

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Secure a delicious and exclusive Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Bordeaux for our operatives.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Château La Bienfaisance

Wine Subject: 2004 ‘Sanctus’ Saint-Émilion Grand Cru

Winemaker: Didr Peytour

Backgrounder: The movie Sideways may have tried to kill Merlot, but real wine lovers know that the joke is on the character Miles. He boldly proclaims: ”If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any [censored] Merlot!”, Really, and his favorite wine is Chateau Cheval Blanc? Chateau Cheval Blanc, like today’s selection from Château La Bienfaisance is a Saint-Émilion, a Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend. (For those not lucky enough to have enjoyed a Cheval Blanc, it is about 60% Cab Franc 37% Merlot and the remainder other varietals)

Fellow Wine Spies know that the wines from Saint-Émilion Grand Cru have been treasured since the times that the Romans initially cultivated Bordeaux’s vineyards of the Rive Droite. Each Grand Cru vineyard has its own varietal composition and this selection is 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, and is heavily influenced by the region’s famed Terroir of Graves and ancient sand.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dense garnet and purple with a barely clear core that is nearly inky in character. Along the edges, the color shows ruby red highlights and when swirled fast thin evenly spaced legs ring the glass.

Smell – Well developed and balanced aromas of dark fruit including black cherry and blackberry are layered over sweet vanilla oak notes, smokey spice, hints of black licorice and earthy undertones.

Feel – Smooth and dry, this supple full-bodied wine is classic ‘right-bank’ in character with finely textured tannins that are supported by its lively but balanced acidity and Terrior driven minerality.

Taste – Classically old-world with reserved flavors of blackberry, cassis and black cherry meld perfectly with sweet oak flavors, spice and cigar tobacco. The licorice, herbal and earthy aromas found on the nose also make an appearance on the palate and add complexity to this lovely mature wine.

Finish – Medium long in length with this wine’s restrained fruit fading away softly as the classic supple and fine textured structure lingers on.

Conclusion – The 2004 Château La Bienfaisance ’ Sanctus’ Saint-Emilion Grand Cru is a delicious example of with the right bank still rules with lovers of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Exceptional balance, great old world complexity and finesse, a lovely wine that will continue to age well for the next 5 to 10 years, perhaps longer!

Mission Report:

Château La Bienfaisance winemaker Didr Peytour is very busy and was quite hard to catch, we did get a brief opportunity to ask him a few questions and below is a transcript of our conversation.


SUBJECT: Didr Peytour

AGENT WHITE: Bonjour Didr, We are thrilled to be showing your 2004 ‘Sanctus’ Saint-Émilion Grand Cru today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

DIDR: You’re welcome – I’m excited to have our 2004 Sanctus, our flagship wine featured on The Wine Spies.

WHITE: What is your background in wine or grapes?

DIDR: I have a higher technician certificate in Viticulture and Enology.

WHITE: Is there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

DIDR: I’ve loved wine since my childhood.

WHITE: How long have you been making wine?

DIDR: I’ve been making wine for 23 years.

WHITE: What is your philosophy of winemaking?

DIDR: The gentle extraction of tannins to reveal the wine’s true character.

WHITE: What is your favorite grape variety?

DIDR: I love Cabernet Franc, one of the two varietals represented in this delicious wine.

WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

DIDR: It’s a wine that is fully characteristic of the region. Its rich and opulent but has good acidity due to the moderating influence of ocean climate in Bordeaux. WHITE: In your opinion, what makes your ‘Sanctus’ so special?

DIDR: The Terroir of Saint-Émilion is among the best in France

WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

DIDR: We are currently working on the 2009 vintage.

WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of Saint-Émilion along the rive droite of the Dordogne (and the Gironde) can be seen in this satellite photo.

*Local Food And Wine *



Posted via email from Local Food And Wine

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tigh-Na-Mara Wins Food Fight

Tigh-Na-Mara Wins Food Fight

Parksville, BC – On June 27th, Food Fight! The Battle for Brunch, Variety – The Children’s Charity’s brand new fundraising event, brought together some of BC's finest chefs in a battle for best brunch. Guests sampled each deliciousvoffering and cast their ballot to declare one chef the Food Fight champ! Close to 300 foodies and their friends enjoyed avgorgeous harbour front view at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Event contenders were the Executive Chefs from LIFT Bar & Grill, MARKET at Shangri-La, O'Doul's Restaurant and Bar,River Rock Casino Resort, YEW Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel and the Cedar Room at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort.

Sweet Potato Waffle with Ginger Peach Compote.

Now on Tigh-Na-Mara's Breakfast Menu.

After the ballots were cast Tigh-Na-Mara’s Chef Eric Edwards was declared the Food Fight Champ! Chef Eric prepared delicious Seared Qualicum Bay Scallop on Warm Nanoose Edibles’ Spinach Salad and Sweet Potato Waffle with Ginger Peach Compote. The Waffle is now a featured item on the Cedar Room’s Breakfast Menu.

“Tigh-Na-Mara has long been a supporter of Variety, and we are very proud to participate in the inaugural Food Fight for Brunch,” says Jenn Houtby-Ferguson Tigh-Na-Mara’s Director of Sales & Marketing. “It is a tremendous honour for our team to be the first ever Food Fight Champs!”

The event raised over $38,000, with almost $12,000 brought in through the live and silent auction alone. All funds will be used by Variety to support children in British Columbia who have special needs.

Variety – The Children’s Charity raises funds and distributes grants to inspire hope, enrich lives, and build a better future for children in British Columbia who have special needs. Since 1965, Variety has raised over $155 million for children and families in the province.

Centrally located on Vancouver Island, Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort captures the very best of the West Coast. Featuring 192 unique log-style accommodation units set in 22 acres of forest beside the ocean, a full service spa and award winning West Coast cuisine. Tigh-Na-Mara is the natural choice, rated with 4 Green Keys.

*Local Food And Wine*


Posted via email from Vancouver Food And Wine

Bramblings From Vancouver Island

By: Angeline and James Street

Brambles Market

Well, summer is here for sure-at least in the produce department, if not outside! This is our favourite time of the year. We get excited by every delivery; it's like Christmas every week. We can't wait to break into the boxes to see what new goodies we have received. Asparagus is done, as are fiddleheads and mache. But, then there are other treasures to be had: baby potatoes, baby carrots, strawberries, lettuces,green beans and baby zucchini... Oh, it's hard to know what to eat first!!

We are planning and setting up so many things for the coming year. It's too bad there are so few hours in the day to get everything done. As many of you know, we are working on a website as one of our big projects right now. It is taking longer than expected as we want it to be really great. There are just so many things we want to cram onto the site, but we have to pick and choose what we do put on it, so that it is useful and entertaining and interactive for YOU. And it really is challenging to figure it all out! If there are particular things that you think you would like to see on the site, please let us know. Right now, if you have food photos or recipes featuring local goodies, feel free to send them in to us to use on the site. The more the merrier!

French Breakfast Radishes

Here's an idea: Serve the radish roots in the French fashion: dip them in butter and kosher salt and eat them with buttered bread for breakfast!

The first year and a half have flown by, and we sure have learned a lot! We are taking stock of what we do well, what we need to improve, and what else we want to accomplish in the coming year. (That's where all the thinking and planning come in...) We just have to work really hard at making at least half of our dreams into reality now.

So, here is the first newsletter as part of one of the things we want to make happen this year! Let us know what you think! If it's great, let us know. If it stinks, we suppose you can tell us that too. Till next time, thanks for being part of the Brambles experience with us. We couldn't have done it without you!

Meet the Grower:  Vantreight Farms Saanichton

How many years in business?
126 - Five generations

What are the primary products you offer?
 A wide variety of fruits, vegetables, fresh cut daffodils, bulbs and upick crops.

Fresh cut daffodils from organic, bio-diesel run Vantreight farms, Vancouver Island, B.C.

Please describe your production methods or farming practices, particularly those that are distinguishing or unique to your business?

We are utilizing organic methods and are applying this year for organic certification for our 15,330 m2 (165,000 sq.ft.) state-of-the-art greenhouses and land adjacent to the greenhouses totalling approx 6.5 acres with further certification planned for the future.   Our packing facility is second to none with a 4650 m2 (50,000 sq.ft.) warehouse processing plant, 8  cooler units totaling 1,189 m2 (12,800 sq.ft) of cold storage, shipping and receiving areas with 3 loading docks with room for further expansion.  Future plans include the use of bio digesters for the creation of heat and power to grow food all year round while significantly reducing GHG's for the region.

What inspired your choice for this career?
Aside from carrying on our family farming legacy, I was personally inspired to choose the farm as a career because of our farm's ability to positively contribute to the community and increase local food security on Vancouver Island.

Why do you sell to Brambles?
 The more local businesses support local agriculture by buying from the farmer the better off we all are.

Do you believe that it is important to shop locally?

*Local Food And Wine*



Posted via email from Vancouver Food And Wine