Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Critters Be Gone

Recently, two BC wineries have gone through re-branding efforts with new label designs moving away from critter-centric logos. Both Naramata-based Howling Bluff Estate Wines and Golden Mile Bench's Golden Beaver Winery have replaced their cartoon animal branded labels with new, slick-looking and modern labels that better reflect the serious product within.

Howling Bluff's new logo elevates the name of the winery's home vineyard to that of a brand for the winery's new releases in 2011. The name "Summa Quies" comes from the Latin meaning (roughly) "a higher calm or peace". The new label is slick, focused and fairly forgettable - perfect really, as one should be thinking of the wine inside and not of the stylistic coyote howling at the moon on the old label. The change also elevates the packaging up to the standard to which the winery's excellent Pinot Noir has obtained over the past three vintages.

Golden Beaver Winery has gone through a more dramatic change, re-branding the winery name to Castoro de Oro which roughly translates back to golden beaver in Italian. Logos, labels, signs and their website have all been updated with an artistic beaver-wearing-a-coat-and-top-hat-pondering-life design, moving away from the Canadiana fueled drunk-beaver-crapping-on-a-barrel cartoon. The modern design is eye-catching, interesting and potentially topical - why is a beaver wearing a felt top hat... does he not know what felt was traditionally made of?

The moves are purely economical, as most business decisions are, but the aesthetic effect on the industry as a whole - one still struggling to be taken serous at times - is a welcomed side-effect for those of us who would like to see the BC wine industry flourish both domestically and abroad. The business reasons are likely rooted in the reliance of small-to-medium sized wineries on stable and repeat restaurant clients ordering their wines. Restaurants have been known to keep wines off their wine lists due to the design of the labels despite the quality of the product within. If a wine is at all hard to sell, for whatever the reason, it's not worth their time (or the space to store it).

The move away from critter-based cartoon labels and logos is certainly restaurant-friendly and a change for the greater good but only time will tell if was good for business - here's hoping.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011 IconWines.ca

Monday, May 16, 2011

Osoyoos Celebrity Wine Festival

I can speak from personal experience, Black Hills Estate Winery knows how to throw a party! As a wine tourist myself, I like to seek-out fun wine related events to attend and any affair organized by Black Hills' president Glenn Fawcett is sure to be a blast. The Celebrity Wine Festival is just such an event and affords one the luxury of taking the experience of attending to the next level - you can actually be in the event by creating a short video about your love for BC wine. Submissions are due June 1st.

Official Call for Submission note from Glenn Fawcett:
The Vino’s is the world’s first wine film festival. It has been inspired by events like the Sundance Film Festival, Cannes, or the wildly successful Big Rock Eddies beer commercial film festival. It gives wine enthusiasts the opportunity to compete for cash prizes and precious wine packages by producing a one to three minute video about their favourite BC winery or anything to do with BC wine.

You obviously like drinking B.C. wine. So why not grab your friends and a camcorder and make a 60 second video commercial about your favourite B.C. wine or winery? Have some fun, create some laughs and send something in. If you are lucky, your submission will be chosen as one of the 24 finalists and will be shown during the Vino’s party on June 11. Then you can act like a star and rub shoulders with celebrities & producers. If your video is really good (funny), you could win one of the prizes:

· First Place: $1500 cash plus 3 cases of B.C, wine
· Second Place: $750 plus 2 cases of B.C. wine
· Third Place: $250 cash plus 1 case of B.C. wine

All 24 finalists will receive 2 free tickets to the Vino’s party plus one night free hotel accommodation in Osoyoos during the festival. So spread the word to your friends who may want to do a submission as well. For further details please go to: www.osoyooscelebritywinefestival.com/vinos

Friday, May 6, 2011

BC Wine Deal: May 6th, 2011

The following wines have been reduced in price at participating VQA wine shops. Some reductions are due to new vintages being released soon and others are simply to help move stock.

Aces Pocket King Red was $45.43 - now $34.90
Camelot Chardonnay was $24 - now $23
JT Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was $16.99 - now $15.49
JT Private Reseve Sauvignon Blanc was $13.99 - now $12.49
JT Private Reserve Shiraz was $19.99 - now $18.49
Prospect Winery Fats Johnson Pinot Noir was $19.99 - now $16.99
Prospect Winery Sauvignon Blanc was $13 - now $11
Red Rooster Meritage was $24.99 - now $22.99
Robin Ridge Merlot was $23.92 - now $19.90
Saturna Island Pinot Noir was $18.95 - now $15.99
See Ya Later Ranch Semillon was $19.99 - now $14.99
Thornhaven Evolution was $31.90 - now $26.90

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

2010 Okanagan Whites

As Spring finally takes hold in BC, wine lovers can rejoice with the release of the previous year's first wines: white varietals that don't endure long maturing or oak programs prior to release. It is the first tangible evidence of a vintage's quality and of a winery's ability to have reacted to the unique challenges that every vintage north of the 49th parallel presents. A time of excitement and anxiety and of judgement and commerce.

The white wines from the cooler than average and late starting 2010 vintage can be best described as crisp and tangy with abundant natural acidity and mineral characters. Concentration and complexity is also present due to the prolonged growing season allowing longer hangtime on the vines for some varietals if the wineries didn't pick early. Time on the vine was so extreme in some cases that we should see more botrytis affected wines from the 2010 vintage.

Overall, the quality of the 2010 whites from the Okanagan Valley is strong, especially for the aromatic varietal wines where an extra acidic kick is welcomed. From recent tastings, here are some crisp, bright and most importantly, very tasty 2010 white wines to look-out for:

Desert Hills Estate Winery 2010 Gewurztraminer - $20
Bursting with classic "Goo" chracters of lychee and grapefruit with a nice acidic kick to balance the concentrated perception of sweetness from the fruit flavours. Where to buy: Direct from winery here.

Fort Berens Estate Winery 2010 Pinot Gris - $18
Despite the winery's Lillooet address this wine is all Okanagan. Produced from West Kelowna grown fruit and fermented in stainless steel tanks, this Pinot Gris is fruit forward and terroir driven with excellent austere characters to balance the orchard fruit and lemon zest notes. Where to buy: Direct from winery here.
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Hillside Estate Winery 2010 Muscat Ottonel - $20
A fairly dry Muscat which is a welcomed change from the many excellent sweeter examples of the varietal family. Dryness lets the subtle complexity on the palate shine. Where to buy: Direct from winery here.

JoieFarm 2010 Muscat - $23
The nose pops out of the glass with tangy citrus and candied fruit aromas. On the palate the wine is both biting and delicate. Crisp and fresh, yet gentle in its release of bright, nectarine, peach and lemon flavours. Where to buy: Direct from winery here and private wine shops.
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JoieFarm 2010 Riesling - $23
Prominent sweetness (25g/l of residual sugar) is balanced effortlessly with crisp acidity and strong minerality. The palate is fairly full-bodied for a Riesling offset by a refreshing, silky texture and a moderate, zesty finish. Where to buy: Direct from winery here and private wine shops.
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JoieFarm 2010 Un-Oaked Chardonnay - $23
The long and sometimes difficult 2010 season has produced a lovely Chardonnay that showcases the orchard and lemon/lime flavours and crisp, natural acidity of the grape without the need of oak structure or added depth. Where to buy: Direct from winery here and private wine shops.
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La Frenz Winery 2010 Alexandria- $20
A wonderfully delicate wine that oozes floral and citrus flavours. Sweetness is nicely balanced with the residual acidity. A great wine to pair with your sunny patio exploits this summer. Where to buy: Direct from winery here and private wine shops.

La Frenz Winery 2010 Riesling - $20
Similar off-dry style, but the mineral character is more prominent in the 2010 Riesling than its 2009 predecessor. Where to buy: Direct from winery here and private wine shops.

La Frenz Winery 2010 Sauvignon Blanc - $22
The Semillon component of this wine has been reduced to just a splash and is hardly noticible with the 2010 release. Crisp New Zealand style without the funky cat pee aromas. Where to buy: Direct from winery here and private wine shops.

LaStella Winery 2010 Leggiero - $25
Should appeal to the ABC crowd and to wine-lovers who love Chardonnay for its inherent fruit and mineral character more so than its compatibility with oak. Where to buy: Direct from winery here and VQA stores.
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LaStella Winery 2010 Vivace - $25
Balance is spot on with good acidity and enough residual sugar to mask the alcohol and create a joyful and full-ish texture on your palate. Where to buy: Direct from winery here and VQA stores.
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Le Vieux Pin 2010 Sauvignon Blanc - $35
The 2010 vintage has proven to be a good fit for Le Vieux Pin who routinely drop fruit in their vineyards to keep tonnage low, long before the threat of bad weather forces them to. The result is added concentration and a wider spectrum of flavours... and a higher cost per bottle. Where to buy: Direct from winery here.
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Moon Curser 2010 Afraid of the Dark - $22
Tasty, crisp blend of 43% Viognier, 42% Roussanne and 15% Marsanne was not oaked leaving a focused, fruit forward sipper. Where to buy: Direct from winery here.

Oak Bay Estate Winery 2010 Gewurztraminer - $17
Classic Alsatian "Goo" flavours of lychee, spice and citrus fruits follow on the well-balanced, full-bodied palate with a touch of residual sugar, good acidity and a long finish with lingering peppery lemon. Where to buy: Direct from winery here.
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Stoneboat Vineyards 2010 Chorus - $18
Production for this tasty blend of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Viognier, Muller Thurgau, Kerner and Schoenburger is way up for 2010 which means visitors to the wineshop this summer will avoid being disappointed. Where to buy: Direct from winery here and VQA stores.

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay - $17
As the wine warms in your glass the oak and lees characters come to life, but never dominate the palate of nose. Stonefruit, green apples, lemon and austere notes round-out the flavour profile. Where to buy: Direct from winery here and VQA stores.
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Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2010 Oldfield Series 2Bench White - $23
A blend of 44% Chardonnay, 26% Sauvignon Blanc, 17% Semillon, 12% Viognier and 1% Muscat, this wine is complex and very satisfying with a rich, creamy texture and a crisp, long, balanced finish. Where to buy: Direct from winery here and VQA stores.
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Young and Wyse Collection 2010 Amber - $20
The first white wine to be released by Osoyoos winery Young and Wyse Collection is a blend of 47% Viognier, 38% Pinot Gris and 15% Gewurztraminer. Crisp citrus acidity balances the fullness on the palate resulting in a very tasty wine with a moderate-plus finish and excellent texture. Where to buy: Direct from winery.
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