Saturday, August 20, 2011

Re/Max Orchard Country Wine Fair and Competition

Place: Summerland Fall Fair
Date: Saturday, September 10, 2011
Time: 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Cost: $10* (includes your entry to the Fall Fair)

*For more information and to reserve your specially engraved commemorative tasting glass, please contact RE/MAX ORCHARD COUNTRY at 250.494.8881. This tasting event is limited to 250 glass purchase attendees and they strongly recommend reserving your glass early.

Summerland Wines to Entice You

Dirty Laundry Vineyard 2010 Woo Woo Vines Gewurztraminer - $18
Delicate notes of lychee and crushed flowers dance on the nose while the lush palate finishes long with a touch of lingering spice.
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Thornhaven Estates Winery 2009 Gewurztraminer - $18
Very full and oily in the mouth but appropriate levels of acidity help to add balance resulting in a bold expression of the Alsatian varietal. Seekers of subtle, dry "Goo" need not apply.
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SummerGate Winery 2009 Kerner - $20
My ultimate pairing suggestion would be a secluded hot deck in the apex of the summer sun, wearing nothing but an ice bucket over your doo-da and soaking up the rays.
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Haywire Winery 2009 Switchback Pinot Gris - $23
The Switchback Pinot Gris starts with alluring aromas of juicy, baked peaches and minerality, with herbal notes on the nose. The dry palate offers both fruity and savory flavours of citrus fruits, pears and dried herbs. The finish is moderate in length with lingering lemon tartness.
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Last of the Summer Wine

Those of you of a certain age or those hardcore winos among us who have scoured IMDB for wine-related TV programs and movies, will recognize the title of this entry as a reference to the British Sitcom about three older men nearing the Autumn of their lives which ran on BBC 1 for an impressive 31 series. However, for our purposes we’ll take the phrase at its literal best and focus on suggestions for your wine drinking enjoyment during the last days of summer. Fleeting as it may seem, the best days of the setting summer lie ahead with long, warm evenings and the palpable sense that now is the time to celebrate, before the party ends.

For your end-of-summer get-togethers we recommend you look to light and medium bodied wines to pair with your favourite summer foods and warm days. A crisp and tart white will help you combat the mid-day heat and a complex, yet non-committal red will keep you engrossed into the balmy night. Below are some recommendations for light and medium bodied white and red wines for your late-summer intrigue.

Light and Medium Whites
Nothing beats the heat like a crisp, light white wine. When you find yourself in need of refreshment during the dog days of summer, turn to these lighter-bodied whites for the replenishment of essential you-ness.

St. Hubertus Estate Winery 2009 Chasselas - $17
Light White. A fun picnic wine that won't wear down your alcohol tolerance quickly and keep you refreshed in the sunshine with good acidity and sweetness.
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SummerGate Winery 2009 Muscat Ottonel - $20
Light White. Balance and a long, lingering finish seem to be a trademark of the SummerGate portfolio and is well represented here with intricate aromas of apricots, rose petals, stonefruit, cotton candy and lemon.
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SpierHead Winery 2010 Riesling - $22
Light White. Produced from fruit grown in the home vineyard of the East Kelowna-based winery, the SpierHead 2010 Riesling offers a rich nose of baked apples with supporting slate mineral notes followed by a bright, focused, citrus and mineral-flavoured dry palate.
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Stag's Hollow Winery 2009 Con-Fusion - $18
Medium White. An easy-going, crowd-pleasing, Thai food loving, Gewürztraminer-dominant white blend with other aromatic varietals adding to the cornucopia of exotic fruit characters on the vibrant nose and off-dry-ish palate.
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Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2010 Oldfield Series 2Bench White - $23
Medium White. Opens with a lush nose of apple sauce, kiwi, gooseberry and citrus fruit. The moderately intense, dry palate follows with similar flavours and added pineapple and lemon zest tartness.
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Sandhill 2010 Small Lots Program Viognier - $25
Medium White. Good concentration on the fruity nose and mineral-filled, dry palate. The finish is very long with lingering orchard fruit and mineral flavours.
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Light and Medium Reds
As the days get shorter the long, warm evenings lead to patio parties under sparkling stars. Humid though it may be, you'll want something red for your glass that will stay tasty for as long as the converstion you'll be engaged in.

Fort Berens Estate Winery 2009 Rosé - $18
Light Red. A dry rosé whose light-cranberry hue hints at the prominent tart fruit at the core of the flavour profile. Light in body and complexity but well balanced and easy-drinking with a touch of residual sugar and a tart, moderate finish.
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JoieFarm 2010 Rosé - $21
Light Red. This is the rosé to pour your non-pink drinking friends who believe that the much maligned (and emasculated) wine style can't offer the complexity of white and red wines.
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Church and State Wines 2007 Pinot Noir - $26
Medium Red. This Pinot offers superb concentration of raspberry, cherry, savoury spice and earth note characters on the sublime nose and silky palate. Fully dry, yet veins of sweet fruit linger with spice on the long and refined finish.
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Chateau Des Charmes 2007 St. David's Bench Vineyard Cabernet Franc - $26
Medium Red. The St. David's Bench Cabernet Franc delivers a terroir driven expression of the varietal wrapped in a blanket of toasted oak. Alcohol is well managed at 13.5% with ripe fruit and tannins from the stellar 2007 growing season.
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Cassini Cellars 2008 Reserve Pinot Noir - $34
Medium Red. A familiar red fruit and toasted oak profile from the 2007 vintage is accompanied by barnyard and cured meat aromas in the new release. This adds complexity to the wine which also boasts silky smooth tannins and food-friendly, mouth-watering acidity.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

In Defense of the 100pt Rating System

A growing community of wine bloggers have become increasingly negative towards using a Robert Parker inspired 100 point wine rating system for reviewing wines with many alternatives suggested. Citing such complaints as the system is subjective and that it cannot truly be standardized across the industry: one writer’s “90” is another’s “88”. That is true, however, my main argument to this complaint is that all rating systems are subjective – by nature. There can never truly be a definitive rating system for anything remotely artistic. Ideally, a consumer finds a trusted voice and learns how the individual reviewer applies whatever rating system they employ.

In defense of the 100-point rating system, I offer the following arguments, or, at the very least, an explanation as to why I use the scale.

1. Familiarity
The simple genius of the 100-point scale is that, at its core, it is very simple to understand and very familiar. Everyone can relate to a percentage-based, out-of-100 type of system because we’ve lived with these types of scores throughout our academic lives. From math tests to essays to book reports we are subjected to a rating where perfection, a perfect “100” is the ultimate goal to be achieved and where you were awarded 50+ points just for showing up (more on this last point below). A simple glance at the result of two tests where one is scored "90" and the other "89", you immediately know which one is the better result. Now, I always hope that a visitor to my site will read the full description of a wine’s characteristics rather than simply glancing at the score, however, should they choose not to, I’m confident that, more often than not, the higher scored wine will give them more drinking pleasure.

2. A word-based rating system always needs an explanation
How is anyone to know at a quick glance that “Amazing” is better than “Extraordinary” without the reviewer explaining this? Why this doesn’t work without a glossary or accompanying chart at the ready at all times, is that these words have their own predefined unique meanings and they only relate to the quality of a wine by way of context, which, itself, is completely subjective. Even worse, the reviewer who avoids defining the words and their relevance to a rating system at all and simply uses them in their literal means as a way to categorize the wines reviewed. “Honey, I feel like an “Amazing” wine tonight. Oh right, you’re still on your “Extraordinary” kick. Well, I suppose we can pick a “Satisfactory” wine as a compromise.” Yikes.

3. Alternative systems lack latitude
A star-based rating system doesn’t provide a wide enough spectrum within which to work. Granted, a 100 point scale is usually limited to the 80-95 point range (95+ point wines being exclusive and anything under 80 points isn’t worth the effort), but at least you have more room to work with. My favourite Canadian wine publication, "Vines", using the star rating system in their buyer's guide and although I love their write-ups I doubt that even they think that all of the 4 star wines are truly equal.

4. Minimum points is a red herring
Often, the criticism of the 100 point system is focused on the fact that wines get X number of points just for showing-up, which, depending on the publication, can range from 50-75 points. Decanter magazine uses both a star-based categorical approach and a 20 point scoring system, but never posts a score below 10 unless the wine was faulty. Essentially, a wine gets 10 points for showing up and being wine, not vinegar. I like to remind people that this too should be familiar to them as part of their final grade for any class back in High School was based on attendance.

When people focus on this fact I think they are missing the point that the beauty of the 100 point scale is the balance between the subtle differences of wines with the restrained flexibility with which to distinguish them. All wrapped-up in an immediately recognizable and familiar format.

In my opinion, the 100 point rating system trumps all others and is as close to an industry standard as we're ever likely to see. It's not perfect, but it is easy to understand and relate to - which should be the goal of any wine writer in the attempt to bestow the virtue of wine to the masses.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

BC Wine Deal: August 3rd, 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.

Cedar Creek Ehrenfelser was $18.90 is now $17.90
Clos du Soleil Signature Red was $38.92 is now $36.90
Le Vieux Pin Petit Rouge was $24.00 is now $20.90
Prospect Shiraz was $16.99 is now $15.99
Prospect Chardonnay was $12.99 is now $11.99
Fork in the Road White was $17.99 is now $15.99
Rigamarole Rose was $14.99 is now $12.99
White Bear Sauvignon Blanc was $13.99 is now $12.99
Summerhill Cipes Pinot Noir Brut was $29.95 is now $24.95