Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wines for Canada Day 2013

Each year July 1st marks Canada’s “birthday” and many of us have the day off and an excuse to celebrate. Sadly, Canada Day doesn’t always equate to good weather (especially in BC where this site originates), therefore, we've compiled a list of wines for you to enjoy no matter what Mother Nature sends your way.

For this year's list we're, appropriately, only listing the excellent and under appreciated wines of Canada, which are becoming easier to purchase across Provincial borders thanks, in part, to the tireless efforts of folks like www.freemygrapes.ca.

If it’s nice and hot where you are – and ideally that will be the case for most of us – then we have some heat-quenching wine suggestions for you to enjoy of a hot patio, deck or dock.

Fort Berens Estate Winery 2012 23 Camels White - $17
This tangy and playful blend of 60% Pinot Gris, 20% Chardonnay and 20% Riesling is all about its well balanced palate with tart green apple mingling with ripe grapefruit and juicy white peach flavours. The mouth-watering, long finish lingers with herbal notes and lots of green apple and lime peel acidity.
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Little Straw Vineyards 2012 Tapestry - $18
Though a blend of Riesling, Auxerrois, Gewurztraminer, Siegerrebe and Schonburger, it's the Gewurztraminer that plays the lead character in 2012 with lush tropical fruit on the floral nose and the off-dry palate which starts with a chewy (gooey) texture and then finishes crisp and tangy thanks to its pronounced grapefruit acidity.
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JoieFarm 2012 A Noble Blend - $24
Delivering rich, complex flavours of tropical fruit, apples, lime rind and clove spice on the off-dry, vibrant palate and delicate aromas of kiwi fruit, lychee and peaches on the delightful nose.
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If it’s cloudy where you are, well, look on the bright side – at least it isn’t raining. Cloudy weather (assuming it’s also a bit cool) calls for something with some body and texture to compliment a wide variety of foods. Think lighter reds and rosé.

River Stone Estate Winery 2012 Malbec Rosé - $20
Bold, both in hue and in flavour, the River Stone Malbec Rosé is one of the more colourful and fuller-bodied blush wines on the market in BC today. Juicy and ripe cran-apple, pomegranate and strawberry flavours are supported by light tannins and grapefruit acidity.
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Meyer Family Vineyards 2011 Pinot Noir - $25
A gorgeous, complex array of cherry-cola, raspberry, sweet oak, vanilla, forest floor and warm earth aromas greet you on the nose of this blend of Pinot Noir batches from numerous locations all over the Okanagan Valley.
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Le Vieux Pin 2011 "Cuvée Violette" Syrah - $30
Focuses more on the aromatic qualities of the Rhone Valley grape while the palate has been left quite light with a good balance of fruit, pepper and herbaceous flavours, while the nose successfully expresses the lovely, feminine, floral aromas achievable by Syrah.
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If it’s raining where you are then you may be spending a large portion of your Canada Day indoors. This calls for a soothing and cheerful red wine to lift your spirits.

Chateau Des Charmes 2009 Cabernet-Merlot - $13
An impressive "budget" blend that over-delivers for the price with a nice nose of cassis, blackberry, vanilla spice and oak aromas followed by a medium-bodied, smooth-tannin palate with a good balance of mature dark fruit and savoury herbs'n'spice flavours.
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Stag's Hollow Winery 2010 Heritage Block - $25
Although a "Bordeaux style" blend, the Heritage Block has always been quite New World-y in its approach to showcasing the rich and vibrant fruitiness of the classic combination of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
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Howling Bluff Estate Winery 2010 Summa Quies Vineyard Sin Cera - $29
A blend of all five Bordeaux varietals and aged in French oak for 18 months, the Sin Cera is an irresistible femme fatale that jumps out of the glass with potent, yet graceful, feminine aromas of baked cherry and blackberry fruit, plum preserve, cooking spice, sweet licorice, vanilla, toasted oak and holds your attention through to the equally seductive, fine tannin and similarly flavoured palate.
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Have a fun and safe Canada Day celebration – wherever you are!

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013 IconWines.ca

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Get To Know... Bradley Cooper

Photo Courtesy Black Cloud Wines
Bradley Cooper
Vintner, Township 7 Vineyard and Winery,  Black Cloud Wines
Naramata Bench, BC

To BC wine connoisseurs, the other Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) is "the other" Bradley Cooper, ours is the original and that's 'original' with a capital 'O'! An early pioneer of engaging consumer via social media (@Bradinator), Cooper transfers his quick wit charm and off-beat humour to 140 character tweets easily and is a regular participant in the weekly #BCWineChat discussion on Twitter. 

As winemaker and chief bon vivant at Township 7 Vineyard and Winery he has helped raise the profile and quality of the wines of the longstanding Naramata Bench winery (which also operates a Fraser Valley vineyard and tasting room). The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and Township 7 wines have gotten better and more acclaim in recent years.

Cooper also runs a Pinot Noir-only side project called Black Cloud which is slowly developing a loyal following amongst BC's Pinot lovers. The micro-winery only produces two wines, a lighter, Spring released Pinot for early consumption called Fleuvage and a cellar-worthy Pinot released each Fall called Altostratus. Both can be found at private wine shops with a little hunting.

Get to know Bradley a bit better and get to know both his Township 7 and Black Cloud wines...

Key wines to try:
Township 7 Sauvignon Blanc
Township 7 Merlot
Black Cloud Altostratus Pinot Noir

1. What do you enjoy most about making wine?
Everytime I start making a wine, a journey begins. Parts of that journey are familiar, but none of those journeys are the same. The ever-changing dynamic of wine making offers challenge and inspiration at every step.

2. What inspired you to become a winemaker?
I fell into wine making haphazardly from a consumer perspective to a production professional. I enjoyed the physical robustness of the work and having a hodgepodge of skill set developments take place. Farmer sometimes, technician sometimes, food manufacturerer sometimes, salesman, sometimes. The hats, they are many.

3. What causes you the most stress during harvest?
Stress is a direct result of expectations not being met. Some of those shortfalls are human generated, some are naturally occurring. The trick is to mitigate where you can to reduce the potential for stress. As an example: a highly-skilled crush crew can balance other shortfalls in production like poor weather or sub-standard fruit quality.
4. What is your favourite and/or least favourite wine cliché?
Favourite: It takes a lot of beer to make good wine.
Least favourite: Any cliche using the word "soul" to describe wine.

5. Away from the cellar and vineyard, what’s your greatest passion in life?
If I have to use the overused word 'passion', I would have to say that living is my passion.

6. After a long day of work in the cellar, what do you turn to for refreshment?
Beer. Preferably a craft-brewed IPA like Lighthouse's Switchback

7. If you could take credit for one other BC wine on the market today, which would it be and why?
Stomeboat's Piano Brut. I like charmat, I like the flavour profile and I like what Alison Moyes is doing in the cellar.

8. Of the wines in your portfolio, do you have a favourite food pairing to go with one of the wines?
2009 Black Cloud Altostratus Pinot Noir with roast rack of lamb, lightly seasoned. No mint jelly, please.

9. What do you think will be the next big trend in BC wine over the next few years?
I'm hoping for less pretension and more grounded value. I'd like to see the emergence of genuine negociant style winemaking and marketing. It may be the only way to crack the export market.

10. Screwcap or cork? What’s your preference?
Few things bore me to tears faster than a discussion about the merits and drawbacks of bottle closures. Apples and oranges. As a consumer, I see the value in both. I really can't begin to worry about how the bottle is sealed, unless it is patently flawed.

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013 IconWines.ca

Friday, June 14, 2013

BC Wine Deal: June 14th, 2013

The following VQA wines have been reduced in price for a limited time. Find them at your local VQA and participating BCLDB stores.

Andrew Peller Chardonnay Private Reserve was $15.99 is now $12.99
Andrew Peller Merlot Private Reserve was $17.99 is now $14.99
Andrew Peller Pinot Gris Private Reserve was $16.99 is now $11.99
Andrew Peller Pinot Noir Private Reserve was $18.99 is now $13.99
Calona Cabernet/Merlot Artist Series was $14.99 is now $12.99
Calona Sandhill Pinot Gris was $18.99 is now $14.99
Dirty Laundry Woo Woo Gewurztraminer was $19.99 is now $18.99
Inniskillin Reserve Merlot was $16.99 is now $15.49
Inniskillin Reserve Pinot Blanc was $13.99 is now $12.49
Jackson Triggs Reserve Riesling was $13.99 is now $12.49
Jackson Triggs Viognier Silver Series was $13.99 is now $12.49
Jackson Triggs White Meritage was $19.99 is now $18.49
Prospect Merlot/Cabernet was $14.99 is now $12.99
Prospect Pinot Grigio was $14.99 is now $13.99
Prospect Regatta Red was $14.99 is now $13.99
Nk'mip Chardonnay was $16.99 is now $15.99
Nk'mip Merlot was $19.99 is now $18.99
Red Rooster Pinot Gris was $17.99 is now $15.99
Saturna Un-Oaked Chardonnay was $14.99 is now $13.90
Saturna Riesling was $15.99 is now $14.90
See Ya Later Brut was $22.99 is now $20.99
See Ya Later Riesling was $16.99 is now $14.99
Stag's Hollow Con-Fusion was $17.95 is now $15.99
Sumac Ridge Pinot Grigio was $13.99 is now $12.49
Therapy Alter Ego was $23.99 is now $19.99

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Get To Know... Sandra Oldfield

Photo courtesy Tinhorn Creek
Sandra Oldfield
Vintner and CEO, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
Golden Mile Bench, BC

As head of the winemaking team and as CEO of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, Sandra Oldfield is involved in nearly every aspect of the business. Whether it be deciding the approach each varietal will receive or championing the winery's involvement in social media. As host of the weekly #BCWineChat on Twitter, Sandra directly engages the public in a range of subjects from food'n'wine pairing to navigating the strange liquor laws of the Province. It's a forum that attracts both the public and her fellow winery representatives and gives direct access to the people behind the products you love so much. In fact, she does this so well, that you may already know Sandra thanks to her always-honest approach to all topics and witty tweets, but we never miss an opportunity to engage her at IconWines and are thrilled she's participated in this series.

Get to know Sandra a bit better and get to know Tinhorn's wines...

Key wines to try:
Oldfield Series Cabernet Franc
Pinot Gris
Oldfield Series 2Bench Rosé

1. What do you enjoy most about making wine?
It's the bridge between farming and people's enjoyment. What could be better?

2. What inspired you to become a winemaker?
When I was put into the lab to work at Rodney Strong I found I wanted to stay longer at work when my shift had ended and I showed up to work early. Once I realized that was happening for the first time in my life I told myself I had to pay attention to that.

3. What causes you the most stress during harvest?
I guess I used to say "weather" but really that's not the case anymore. I guess I'd say it's usually when a piece of equipment breaks down what I most need it. It doesn't happen a lot but certainly it is the most stressful part of the job.

4. What is your favourite and/or least favourite wine cliché?
Great wine is made in the vineyard--is both my least and my most favourite wine cliche. It has become trite but it certainly is true. Sometimes though I think it overlooks the fact that it takes really great dedicated individuals to make great wine too.

5. Away from the cellar and vineyard, what’s your greatest passion in life?
That's hard because obviously my family is my greatest passion but a more complete answer is traveling with my family--I love going to other countries with them and seeing what's out there.

6. After a long day of work in the cellar, what do you turn to for refreshment?
Whatever is open! Does a hot tub count?

7. If you could take credit for one other BC wine on the market today, which would it be and why?
I'd say a really great Riesling (although I've never made one) perhaps like the one from Orofino.

8. Of the wines in your portfolio, do you have a favourite food pairing to go with one of the wines?
2012 Pinot Gris is what I'm drinking a lot of right now and it goes with so many things, but I love it with the split pea risotto at Miradoro Restaurant!

9. What do you think will be the next big trend in BC wine over the next few years?
Sub Appellations

10. Screwcap or cork? What’s your preference?
Screwcap, or course. Someone contacted me today with my thoughts on a vertical they are doing of our Oldfield Series Merlots from 2001-2008 and I'm only nervous that the 2001 might be off because it's the only one with a cork. I find it interesting though that if the others are "gone" or over the hill it is because they are truly over the hill....not because they were sealed improperly.

More on visiting Tinhorn Creek and their family-friendly winery, here.
- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013 IconWines.ca

Friday, June 7, 2013

#WBC13 Day 1 - Part 2

Lunch was hosted by Wine Country and featured 5 wines that ranged from celebrity named to small, hands-on producer.

Henry of Pelham 2009 Reserve Riesling
St. Catherines.  Vines planted in 1984 by the Spec family. Good nose full of minerals and apples. Dry, crisp with good continuity from the nose.

Mike Weir Winery 2009 Chardonnay
Beamsville.  Celebrity/Charity wine. Successful Chard with oak influence on orchard fruit nose and dry, mineral-y palate. Not overdone.

Rosehall Vineyard 2009 Pinot Noir
Prince Edward County. Light colour and nose, though the palate comes on with unexpected intensity and character. Well balanced, fruit-driven Pinot with good complexity and earthy notes.

Kacaba 2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc
Vineland. Medium bodied Cab Franc focused on delivering berry fruit and fine, smooth tannins. Good herbs, minerality and length.

Lakeview Cellars 2011 Vidal Icewine
Niagara-On-The-Lake. Wonderfully sweet and intense as Icewine should be.

The stand-out of the flight was the Kacaba Cabe Franc which paired beautifully with Grilled Portabelloe Mushroom and Grilled Sirloin course.

#WBC13 Day 1 - Part1

Day one of the Wine Bloggers' Conference began with a key note address from the dry-humoured Jim Conaway, author of the novel "Nose" and a best selling historical book of "Napa: The Story of American Eden", who recounted his long journey to fine wine through the mediocre plunk that many of us experiment with before our personal wine education begins in earnest. Conaway's entertaining thesis was the important role writers play in presenting and interpreting the milieu between the wine industry's message and that of the "truth" behind the spin. Essentially, what all writers should strive for and some do better than others in this age of free online content where the lines between personal opinion and industry-fed talking points can be thin.

Affable and soft spoken, Conaway's comforting southern accent contrasted his stark appraisal of the current state of publishing during the Q and A session - a reminder to all bloggers attending the conference to keep their dreams of inevitable financial reward for their hard work in-check.

A good segue into the next session on "The State of Wine Blogging" based on data collected from a survey to current and past WBC attendees (256 people contributed). The results? Well, predictably the majority of wine bloggers are male, don't generate any revenue from their endeavor and write the blog the satisfy their own passion for wine. Sounds familiar. For a full breakdown of the survey results view the report visit the wine bloggers' conference website.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013 IconWines.ca

#WBC13 - Speed Tasting Whites

The following is a collection of tweets from the white wine speed tasting event at the Wine Bloggers' Conference on June 7th.

First speed tasting wine at 2012 Alibi 75/25 sauv and sem blend. Great texture.

Wine 2, Monster Vineyards 2011 Riesling. .aromatic, crisp and light RS. Not complex but tasty.

Cedar Creek 2012 Block 3 Riesling from their Platinum tier. Only 8.5 % alcohol. Acidity matches the RS (25gl)

Quails' Gate 2012 Chenin Blanc with 15% Sauv Blanc blended. Crisp and very dry on the finish.

Next up Bench 1775 '12 Chill at the speed tasting. Aromatic and crisp, total patio wine

Terravista Vineyards 2012 Fandango blend of Albarino and Verdejo. Lovely. A stand out.

always entertaining from with his 2010 Chardonnay and popcorn and tiaras.

Big buttery Chard from Mt. Boucherie. 2010 vintage.

Upper Bench 2012 Riesling with colour gradient label representing the flavour profile.

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013 IconWines.ca

Monday, June 3, 2013

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Monthly Picks: June 2013

This month's selection is dedicated to the many 2013 Wine Bloggers' Conference participants visiting Penticton and tasting BC wines for the first time. The wines are organized by the various sub-appellations you may visit during your stay and have been selected as representative of that region's terroir.


SpierHead Winery 2012 Riesling - $22
Kelowna is a great place to find single vineyard Riesling and this new-ish winery produces a nice mineral-y version.
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Cedar Creek Estate Winery 2012 Ehrenfelser - $19
One of the more unique and rare varietals planted in BC and many locals' go-to summer sipper. Slightly off-dry, spicy and oh-so refreshing.


SummerGate Winery 2011 Muscat - $20
A small, family-owned, estate fruit producer focusing on aromatic white varietals. Their Muscat is delicate with beautiful layers of citrus fruit. Balance and a long, lingering finish is the trademark of the SummerGate portfolio.

Thornhaven 2011 Gewurztraminer - $18
An off-dry, chewy version of the Alsatian grape. Unctuous and fruity yet offers a nice degree of complexity with spice and acidity.

Naramata Bench

Van Westen Vineyards 2011 Viognier - $24
Long-time growers turned estate winery proprietors produce numerous 'V' named wines like Voluptuous, Vulture and Vivacious plus the more simply named Viognier, which just might be their best. A great representative of the Rhone varietal grown on Naramata terroir.

Howling Bluff Estate Winery 2011 Reserve Pinot Noir - $35
A number of red varietals grow successfully on the Naramata Bench, but Pinot Noir, it could be argued, performs the best year-to-year and makes an excellent vehicle to transmit the appellation's unique terroir. Look no further than the sublime Pinot from Howling Bluff's Summa Quies vineyard to experience the Naramata Bench.
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Skaha Bench

Painted Rock Estate Winery 2010 Red Icon - $55
A short drive south from Penticton on the East side of the lake Skaha will get you to Painted Rock Estate Winery and its jewel in the crown, the Red Icon. This single-vineyard Bordeaux-style blend performs impressively year-to-year and is starting to get some international attention. Taste it before it becomes the cult wine its destined to become.

Okanagan Falls

Stag's Hollow Winery 2010 Renaissence Pinot Noir - $35
I suppose it's easy to default to another single-vineyard Pinot Noir to showcase a region's unique terroir, but it truly is a prime area for Pinot Noir in BC and, thus far, under appreciated.
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Meyer Family Vineyards 2011 McLean Creek Chardonnay - $35
Pinot's Burgundian cousin-from-another-puncheon™ is Chardonnay, the second featured wine to express the best of Okanagan Falls. Meyer produces a few Chardonnay from different appellations, but this McLead Creek Chard is made from OK Falls fruit.
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Black Sage Bench

Black Hills Estate Winery 2010 Nota Bene - $54
BC's first cult wine is a big, ripe, red, beast of a wine made from estate grown Bordeaux varietals grown on the Black Sage Bench. Production fluctuates between 2500-4000 cases each year with a clever, exclusivity-themed (and successful) purchasing campaign each Spring. Is it worth the hype? Well, it is pretty damn good... but you be the judge.
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Burrowing Owl Estate Winery 2010 Cabernet Franc - $33
Hard to showcase the Black Sage Bench without a mention of the family-owned Burrowing Owl whose scenic winery helped put the Southern Okanagan on the wine-tourism map. Their Cabernet Franc is one of their most successful wines (along with the estate Meritage and partially oaked Pinot Gris).

Golden Mile

Fairview Cellars 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon - $40
Fairview's home vineyard produces some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in BC and remains my go-to counter-argument for anyone who suggests that the king of grapes can't be effectively ripened in BC's cool-climate.

Tinhorn Creek Winery 2012 Gewurztraminer - $19
The Golden Mile produces a lot of great red wines, but a few white varietals do extremely well each year like this tasty, Alsace-y, Goo from Tinhorn Creek.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013 IconWines.ca