Sunday, February 7, 2010

WCOW: Canadian White Blend Regional Try-outs

Country: Canada
Manager: Liam Carrier

Canadian white blends were the focus of this week's tastings. This isn't a category with an abundance of qualifying wines at the top-end of the quality scale as many BC producers offer low-end white blends which sometimes appear as though they were afterthoughts. Not so with the two wines going head-to-head in this showdown. Both wines have been expertly crafted:

Wine #1: Road 13 Winery and Vineyards 2008 Honest John's White
Price: $16.99
Region: Black Sage Bench - Okanagan Valley
Country: Canada
Notes: A blend of 51% Sauvignon Blanc, 18 % Muller Thurgau, 11% Orange Muscat, 7% Schoenberger, 7% Kerner and 6% Chardonnay.
Full review: Follow Link
Score: 88 points

Wine #2: Blackwood Lane 2008 Vicuna Blanca
Price: $19
Region: Langley - Fraser Valley
Country: Canada
Notes: A tasty blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Gewurztraminer which offer aromas and flavours of grapefruit, apricot and blossoms with good minerality
Full review: Follow Link
Score: 87.5 points

Conclusion: The Road 13 offering edges out Blackwood Lane on points and availability and moves on to the next round. Close call, but the production level of the Honest John's White makes it much easier to get a hold of.

Friday, February 5, 2010

17 Days, 17 Wines - Part 1

 Icon Wines' self-proclaimed Olympics-junkie, Liam Carrier, offers his suggestions for each day of the spectacle that will be the 2010 Winter Olympics in his home town of Vancouver, BC. Celebrate the 17 days of the games with us as we salute a different BC wine each day.

Day 1 - Opening Ceremony
For the opening ceremony I'm going to suggest BC's most prominent wine export, ice wine. My favourite ice wine from 2009 was Mission Hill's 2007 Reserve Riesling ice wine. Yummy, yummy, yummy... oh and complex, refined, bold... but mostly yummy.

Day 2 - Competition Begins
Canada has the awful distinction of being the only Olympic host nation to have never won a gold medal at home. Everyone expects this time to be different. I will go one step further and say that we get that rather large monkey off our collective shoulders on the first day of competition in the Ladie's Moguls. To pair with the lovely Jennifer Heil I suggest the charming and sexy Township 7 2006 Merlot.

Day 3 - February 14th
For Valentine's Day I recommend our top rated Gewurztraminer from 2009, Lake Breeze 2008, for all its fragrant perfume notes. A very sensual wine.

Day 4 - Dude, Where's My Snowboard?
The day's schedule is heavy on snowboarding so how about a "gnarly" BC red: Tinhorn Creek 2007 Cabernet Franc. Aromas of pungent cheese and cigar box will keep you entertained for hours while the wine changes in the glass.

Day 5 - Hurry Hard!
The curling tournament starts on Day 5. This sport has the occasional moment of adrenalin-pumping excitement when a player must make a clutch shot to save "the end" which brings the loyal curling fans to their feet. Mostly, however, it's a game of patience and precision which pairs well with a wine that you should probably be patient with and cellar for another 2-3 years before opening. But... the Olympics will likely never be back to Vancouver, so treat yourself with a bottle of Mission Hill's 2006 Oculus or find a bottle of the nearly-ready '04 (skip the '05).

Day 6 - Loaded
The sixth day of competition is extremely busy with events occuring everywhere, seemingly. This calls for a complex red that will develope in the glass as you change channels back and forth from event to event (sadly, if you actually have tickets, you won't be able to take this wine with you to the venue). I recommend the Poplar Grove 2006 The Legacy, a wonderful Bordeaux-style blend from Naramata.

Day 7 - Biathlon
Two Biathlon gold medals will be handed out on Day 7 up at Whistler Olympic Park and since I find this sport a little mad, I must recommend Fairview Cellar's 2007 Madcap Red. Fairview is an Oliver, BC winery that produces fantastic red wines under the watch of the "Madcap winemaker" Bill Eggert, a title bestowed upon him by a notable Vancouver critic.

Day 8 - Skeleton In The Closet
Skeleton is in an insane sport. To run as fast as you can for 20 paces and then launch yourself down a wicked and winding track of ice, head first. That takes guts. It takes another form of bravery to take a successful winery's image and completely change it for the betterment of the local appellation. Rebranding and starting the quest for name recognition all over. The winery in question is Road 13 who were once Golden Mile Cellars located on Southern Okanagan's Golden Mile Bench. We salute thee and your wonderful Road 13 2008 Honest John's White. Although traveling at 100mph down a mountain, head first, takes the cake.

Go to Part 2 - Days 9 Through 17

17 Days, 17 Wines - Part 2

Day 9 - Apolo No No
American Short Track speed skating star Apolo Ohno will be competing for his umpteenth medal on Day 9 and I will be interested to see if he's as arrogant as he has been in the past in either victory or defeat. Likely he has mellowed and matured with age just like this fabulous Blackwood Lane 2005 Merlot. If you can't find the 2005 at a private fine wine shop, visit the winery in Langley, BC and pick up the 2006 vintage.

Day 10 - Men's Hockey: Canada VS. USA
As a nation we Canadians put a lot of trust into the folks who pick the Canadian men's hockey team to select the right players and bring home the gold. The biggest test of the non-medal round will be against our cousins to the south, the Americans, on February 21st. The perfect pairing for this leap of faith is the excellent Laughing Stock's 2007 Blind Trust Red.

Day 11 - Teamwork, With An Emphasis On Work
Cross-Country Skiing events are the winter Olympics equivalent of the summer Olympics' track & field events. On Day 11 both the men and women compete in the freestyle skiing team sprints which is similar to the 4X400m relay in running, but longer. Relays require teamwork, timing and a lot of hard work. Starting a new winery does too. Tantalus Vineyards is the new-kid-on-the-block in Kelowna. An up-and-coming star that you will likely here a lot more of in 2010. Start your introduction with the superb Tantalus Vineyards 2007 Pinot Noir.

Day 12 - A Medley Of Sorts
The Nordic Combined Team gold medal will be handed out on Day 12 which is a combination of ski jumping and a cross-country relay. This medley should pair nicely with an inspired Meritage blend. One medley to another. The See Ya Later Ranch 2006 Ping is such a blend.

Day 13 - Flying High
Freestyle Skiing - Aerials is another crazy sport where competitors seem to break the laws of physics temporarily and fly through the air. Gravity always wins, however, sometimes in spectacular fashion. Those who survive the craziness of 4 flips and 3 turns to win gold, do so to a chorus of applause. Thus, the perfect pairing in Stoneboat Vineyards 2008 Chorus.

Day 14 - Nice Figure
The Ladies take center stage on Day 14 with their "Free" program that will determine the Olympic champion. This second, and longer of the two required routines, is always more sensual and artistic than the short program which is all about jumps and turns. This requires a sensual and artistic wine and I can think of no better pairing than Cedar Creek's 2006 Estate Select Pinot Noir. Simply put, it's beautiful.

Day 15 - Cool It!
The action on February 26th will be intense at The Pacific Coliseum where no less than three Short Track Speed Skating medals will be handed out. You'll need a crisp and refreshing drink to cool you down as you watch intently at home. The Averill Creek Vineyard 2007 Pinot Gris will do the trick.

Day 16 - Go The Distance
The women's 30 km Cross-Country Skiing event runs on the penultimate day of the games. For this marathon you will need a wine that will go the distance. There is no better pairing than the excellent La Frenz Winery 2006 Reserve that has a finish that lasts for a very long time. Not quite as long as 30 km, however.

Day 17 - Men's Gold Medal Hockey Game / Closing Ceremony
My "pairing" suggestion for the gold medal hockey match itself is beer. However, my suggestion for a wine to enjoy during your closing ceremony get-together depends on the result of the men's game. Should the home team win big, Canadian fans should open a nice bottle or two of Okanagan bubbly: Sumac Ridge Tribute Gold. Should the home team lose, Canadian fans should drown their sorrows in what may be the best wine produced in BC: Blackwood Lane's 2006 Reference.
- LC

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

BC Wine Deal: February 3rd, 2010

The following wines have been reduced in price for February. Look for these deals at participating BC VQA stores like The Wine Emporium and Taylorwood Wines.

Arrowleaf Merlot was $17.99 IS NOW $16.99
Canoe Cove Chardonnay was $12.49 IS NOW $9.99
Chaberton Merlot Barrel Reserve was $23.30 IS NOW $19.50
Chaberton Madeleine Sylvaner was $13.20 IS NOW $11.75
Fork in The Road Red was $22.99 IS NOW $19.99
Gray Monk Odyssey Rose Brut was $26.99 IS NOW $24.99
Gray Monk Odyssey Sparkling White was $26.99 IS NOW $24.99
Mission Hill Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon SLC was $26.99 IS NOW $21.99
Tinhorn Merlot was $18.99 IS NOW $17.99
Tinhorn Chardonnay was $17.99 IS NOW $16.99

Monday, February 1, 2010

Restaurant Profile: Pearl on the Rock

Location: White Rock, BC
Executive Chef: Jeremy Keighley
Restaurant Director: Heather Bramham
Wine Director: Jordan Carrier

Deftly positioned a stone’s throw away from White Rock’s iconic pier, Pearl on the Rock offers BC Lower Mainland restaurant goers excellent Seafood at a reasonable price, accompanied by a Wine Spectator recognized wine list.

The menu is tight, lean and focused, specializing in local land and sea dishes influenced by flavours from around the world. The room is modern, inviting and comfortable with an attentive and professional staff.

The 625+ label wine list offers wines from every major region in the world with special attention given to British Columbia and France. Thrice a winner of the prestigious Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence” (2006, 2007 & 2009) wine director Jordan Carrier will find you the perfect bottle to accompany your meal.

Icon Wines recommends:

• The seasonal, five-course, tasting menu with paired wine for $105 (Cdn) per person.
• Parking a block off the beach (Marine Drive) and walking to the restaurant.
• Time your visit with the sunset (either pre or post-dinner) & leave time to enjoy a walk on the pier.

Go to for more details or call direct @604-542-1064. Address: 14955 Marine Drive, White Rock, BC, V4B 1C3
- LC