Link If you are interested in the cutting edge of Riesling in the southern hemisphere then Grosset Polish Hill Riesling is the finest example . Link . This low yielding organically farmed vineyard in Eden Valley is the epitome of dry age worthy Riesling. First made in 1981 it has an bright citrus edge to it and the ability to age easily for 15 years. Not always the most stylish when young , it really blossoms at the 7-9 year mark. Fantastic food wine. For a German option my all time favorite is JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese. This is a beautiful of a sweeter Riesling that can age for 20 years and can be brilliant when consumed young. Tons of white peach and apricot notes. Generally a fairly substantial amount of acidity but always brilliantly balanced with the residual sugar. Never cloying . This wine is amazing with pork dishes and moderately spiced Thai Cuisine ( think spicy prawn dishes). Link to a pretty lame website I have two BC wineries that are worthy of your consideration for aging. Tantalus and Synchromesh Winery are making wines that I believe are excellent candidates for aging at least 10 years from the vintage on the bottle. I believe very few BC Chardonnays have the potential to do that. Tantalus is owned by Eric Savics and David Peterson is winemaker/general manager . Tantalus makes two different Riesling that are generally available but not necessarily year around. A more approachable when young Riesling and an Old Vines Riesling that can go the distance. Link Synchromesh is owned by Amy and Alan Dickinson . They are a young couple striving to elevate the image and status of Riesling in BC to a higher level. Each year Alan makes a number of single vineyard Riesling that are unique and age worthy. His Storm Haven Riesling is particularly noteworthy. These wines are highly sought after and often sold out by mid-summer. The mailing list is the best way to secure a bottle or case of these wines. Link If you have any feedback we would love to hear from you on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/winecellardepot/ . Also check out our Houzz Page for design ideas and planning. http://www.houzz.com/pro/winecellardepot/wine-cellar-depot Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers David Lancelot
Link Colheita Ports are ports from a single vintage aged in wood (often 7-8 years). Don’t confuse them with Vintage Port which is also from a single vintage but aged in wood for a shorter period of time, 2 years minimum and 3 years max. While there isn’t much of either style available at any given time, Colheita and Vintage Port might represent 1% of port production each. It’s my opinion that Colheita ports can provide a stellar port experience at a great price point. The challenge can be finding them. There is only one Colheita port listed by the BC Liquor Board right now. The Dalva 1982 Amber color with an orange tinge on the edge. The nose smells like dried dates, prunes and cinnamon. On the palate it reveals flavors of hazelnut, walnuts and nutmeg. Very fresh clean style of colheita, with a long dense finish. Pocas Colheita 1995 Is available from Legacy Liquor Stores in Vancouver Link Grape Varieties: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão Food Pairing: Excellent digestive wine. Splendid with cheese, pastry, sweets, nuts, light puddings and cakes. Ready to drink when bottled. Reviews and Awards: . 93 points in Wine Spectator Magazine; . 16,5 points in Revista de Vinhos; . Bronze medal Challenge International du Vin 2008; . Silver medal International Wine Challenge 2008. One of the classic matches with ports like Colheita are with a dessert combo of nuts (walnuts and pecans) Blue Cheeses like Roquefort ,Danish Blue ,Gorgonzola ,Maytag Blue and Stilton, Mix in some dried fruit like dates, prunes or dried cherries and you have magic. Christmas cake chock full of fruit and nuts is also a great match. If you have any feedback we would love to hear from you on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/winecellardepot/ . Also check out our Houzz Page for design ideas and planning. http://www.houzz.com/pro/winecellardepot/wine-cellar-depot Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers David Lancelot
Shroud of Turin and a cartoon of Bart Simpson. Finally the cork released and my Commis (noticing my distress) placed a napkin over the scene of the crime. I was able to pour the wine with no difficulties and ran to the back for a wipe down. Much laughter ensued and I was able to regain my confidence for the next round. Now that I have opened 1000’s of bottles I realize technique is important but also good tools. One of the things that is in my bag of tricks is a corkscrew called the Durand. https://thedurand.com/ . They don’t have a wholesale program so the best way to order one is directly from the link provided This is a hybrid corkscrew that can open the toughest dried out cork with ease. If you spend any time at all opening bottles that are aged this will save you endless aggravation. If you are a wine professional and open bottles tableside this may help you avoid my “worst moment”. Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers David Lancelot
link . This year will be the 39th edition and I have been fortunate enough to attend the last 30 of those. It has been a superb source to try new wines, learn about production and trends in the more formal sit down events and talk directly with winemakers and winery owners. Each year also has a theme country. The 2017 theme country is Canada. It is a requirement of the event that an owner or winemaker be at the booth for all the public stand up tastings. I feel this has been critical to the ongoing success of the event. There are a number of lessons I have learned over the years that can make the experience better for you and for other festival attendees.
- The best opportunity during the festival to taste a lot of wine is the Thursday/Friday/Saturday evening tastings. There is also a Saturday Matinee tasting as well. These are stand up festival style tastings where you are given a glass and each winery has its own table and they will pour you taster size portions of the wines.
- Have a plan for the 3 hours for the evening tastings. If you are balanced in terms of your interests you might plan on an hour for whites an hour for reds and the balance of your time spent trying sparkling wine, dessert wine and re-tasting your possible favourites.
- Avoid any application of perfume or aftershave that will interfere with your enjoyment of the wine. This is also a show of respect for your fellow tasters .
- If you brush your teeth before the event do it without toothpaste as the flavour will persist for quite some time and affect the wine. Also if you are a regular attendee of events like this wait an hour after the event to brush as well. The alcohol softens tooth enamel and can result in diminished enamel thickness. Web MD Article .
- SPIT ! Don’t be embarrassed to use the provided spit buckets. Practise at home in the bathroom sink if you are self conscious about spitting. You will not survive the three hours if you drink every single sample. I would also suggest not wearing and white during a tasting as spills occasionally occur.
- Take notes if possible. Bring a notebook with you and take notes. It is very difficult to remember 20 of your favourite wines the next day. If you are not a notebook person use your phone and take pictures of the labels. Your phone is a powerful tool, use it.
- Be considerate of your fellow attendees, once you have been poured a sample move back so others can have an opportunity. Also be considerate of the wineries pouring their wine. Ask your questions to the winemakers and owners but realize other people would like to do the same. It is also considered rude to go to a table and ask the person pouring to give you only the most expensive wine on the table. A courteous approach is to give them the time to pour you a sample of the entire line up.
- Buy your wine at the onsite liquor store. Each vendor supplies wine for the tasting and a specific amount for the store. You can buy the wines and pick them up at your nearest LDB store later in the month. Very convenient.
- Take a Taxi or transit or get a Hotel room downtown and make an evening of it. Do not take the risk; a DUI is not worth it.
Mustards Grill 7399 St. Helena Highway, Napa, CA 94558 707.944.2424 Link This restaurant on St Helena AKA Highway 29 has been around for over 30 years. Still a favourite of mine for its solid no nonsense cuisine ( I don’t think a single pair of tweezers is used in the kitchen) . Cindy Pawlcyn is a pioneer in wine country cuisine and a fantastic cookbook writer as well. The onion rings alone are worth the trip. It has an eclectic USA based wine list with some well chosen International wines added. There are sections called “not so common whites” and “not so common reds” If you are a value shopper you will find something interesting and very well priced. If you like the big dogs they are there in spades… Marcassin, Sea Smoke, Sine Qua Non, Saxum, Melka , Dalla Valle, Araujo, Colgin, Bond, Harlan and the famous Screaming Eagle . Your credit card will give up before they do. Gotts Roadside 933 Main Street. St. Helena, CA 94574 707-963-3486 Link This is the original location for a diner style restaurant called Taylors refresher . It was leased out to the Gott family and later named Gotts Roadside. Think of it as a reverential take on old school diners serving hamburgers and Ahi burgers, salads, French fries and milkshakes, plus seasonal specials like the “Seoul” pork burger with kimchi and the B.L.T with heirloom tomatoes. If you are spending a significant amount of time in Napa Valley you will appreciate the low key flavour packed food as well as the ability to have a quick meal and move on to your next appointment . After all it’s about maximizing the time you spend trying wine. All Seasons Cafe 1400 Lincoln Avenue Calistoga Ca 94515 707 942 9111 reservations Link Long time Calistoga restaurant , the All Seasons Cafe was one of the first restaurants in the USA to receive a Wine Spectator Grand Award and the receive consistently great reviews from Yelp , Trip Advisor and Zagat. The wine list has some great older vintages from Napa , mid 90’s Turley single vineyard Zins in the $130 range would be interesting. Here is your wild card stop for the hardcore foodie. Rancho Gordo Beans 1924 Yajome St, Napa, CA 94559, USA 707-259-1935 Link If you are serious about your provisions this is a must stop for beans. Yes I said heirloom beans. Ranch Gordo has been at the cutting edge for the revival of heirloom beans in America. If you make your own Cassoulet or love Central American bean dishes this place will blow your brain. Tons of great quality properly sorted beans for all your culinary needs. Easy to transport and super hard to find in Canada. Open Monday through Saturday Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers David Lancelot
- Try new wines. This is a pretty simple one and quite easy to fulfill. Try a grape variety you haven’t heard of or an obscure producer from a store or off a wine list. It’s all too easy to keep trying the same genre of wines over and over as it’s not a big risk. I’m suggesting you stretch your brain a bit. Have you ever tried wine from Lebanon ? Try Chateau Musar or Kefraya . Have you tried Tokaji Azu from Hungary? Look for the Royal Tokaji Company wines.
- Try wines you drank when you first started drinking wine. Often sweeter wines are the first wines to be tried when you first get into wine . Moscato can be a classic example. When was the last time you had Asti Spumanti ? BCLDB Listing . Did you ever try Mateus when you were exploring wine ? BCLDB Listing . I can already imagine you shaking your head. Try them again and you will be surprised flavours are a powerful trigger for emotion and nostalgia. Maybe you have young adults in the house that have never tried wine before. Tasting a 61 Lafite or a lean Northern Italian wine might be too much for a first timer.
- Drink a couple of your best wines this year. There is a human tendency to procrastinate drinking your “best” wines for a special occasion. My experience tells me that that occasion rarely happens and it’s often a disappointment when it does. Collectors/wine lovers often keep wines far longer than the winemaker intended. They also have a lot of pent up hopes for those wines when the time comes to open them. How about just opening a great bottle of wine on a Tuesday night with pizza? They pressure is off for the wine to perform and you will be surprised how much more enjoyable the wine will be. In my old days at Marquis Wine Cellars I had a customer and his wife that had an amazing cellar. Blue Chip wines from all over the world, young old … everything. They used to wrap 12-24 bottles in aluminum foil and drink them randomly over the next few weeks. Generally I’m not fond of blind tasting wine. In this case it taught me a valuable lesson. They weren’t drinking wines based on the price or the emotion connected to the wine. There is a certain serendipity to this approach that simply says “I’m going to drink 26 ounces of wine just for the sheer pleasure of it”. I loved that approach. Tomorrow is a promise, not a guarantee.
- Share some great wines with friends that don’t have the opportunity to try/purchase the wines you have in your cellar. I have been the beneficiary of many friends, customers and collectors that shared amazing wines with me. No doubt you have as well. Now it’s time to pay it forward. Do you have a young clerk at the wine store you shop at that is keen to learn? Share a bottle with them. Is there a passionate wine lover that is a server at your favourite restaurant? Open something that ignites their passion. Show them how wonderful wine can be when it’s a Reserve wine or has had some time to age. It can be very satisfying to share in this way. In my mind wine is not a solitary beverage it is a social beverage and deserves the chance to be explored in this way.
Riesling Zind Humbrecht 2011 or 2012 listed and available for sale at 13 different BC Liquor Stores $33.99 (not including tax) .Solid press from Wine Spectator. My take on it is there are few producers of white wine in the world I would take over Zind Humbrecht. Under the leadership of Olivier and Margaret Humbrecht since 1989 and converting in 1997 to bio-dynamic agriculture this winery has gone from strength to strength. Early on Olivier committed to increasing the amount of time the wines spent in the bottle before release. The grapes are picked very ripe with no chaptilisation or fining. Some fermentations take as long as a year to complete. This is richness density and purity of fruit at its finest. Enjoy with blue cheeses or a really smoky ham. Brilliant stuff. Ridge Geyserville 2013 available for sale at New District Liquor Store in Vancouver BC $61.99. Ridge has been waving the flag for California Zinfandel for almost 50 years. This blend of 60% Zinfandel, 24% Carignane, 12% Petite Sirah, and 4% Mourvedre. Geyserville used to be called a Zinfandel however after a vineyard audit in 1989 the winery stopped using the reference to Zinfandel on the front label and switched to an accurate listing of the percentages. This is your go to Lamb wine; bring on all the garlic and rosemary you want. It begs for more. Domaine de Bosquets Gigondas 2013 available for sale at Marquis Wine Cellars $46.90 tax included. Grenache 65 %,Syrah25 %,Mourvèdre7 % and Cinsault3 %. Think of this wine as your gateway drug to Chateauneuf du Pape .” Intense, with very pure, focused raspberry, boysenberry and blueberry fruit flavors that pump along, while a racy graphite note bolts down the finish. Alluring spice and black tea accents hang in the background. The finish features subtle, latent grip. Rock-solid. Best from 2016 through 2021. 500 cases imported. Score: 91 points— JM, Wine Spectator, Oct 2015” Run, don’t walk to MWC and buy some of this wine. Great host/hostess gift and a wonderful compliment to Prime Rib or vegetarian dishes that include fennel. Gaston Chiquet NV Brut Blanc de Blancs d’Ay available for sale at Marquis Wine Cellars $75.90 tax included . Champagne can be divided in a few categories. Negociant Champagne is made by producers that typically don’t own all of the land the grapes are grown on and many times don’t control the viticultural practices either. A grower Champagne is exactly that, a single owner who grows the grapes, owns the property and makes the wine on their own. They are idiosyncratic and fabulous deals. The Gaston Chiquet is your ultimate bubble with seafood. If you are doing BYO Chinese Restaurants over the holiday you can’t go wrong. Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers David Lancelot
http://www.winejobscanada.com/ I recently was in touch with David Munro Manager, Fine Vintage International and asked him to summarize the top three elements of Fine Vintage Ltd. His reply is below . I have added hyperlinks to the relevant locations in their website. 1) Wine Courses A) Fine Vintage LTD. is North America’s leading provider of WSET certified courses with 11 schools including Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, and even Tuscany. They have been shortlisted as the WSET Educator of the Year 4 times – the most of any Canadian institute. They offer all levels of the WSET curriculum including being the only Canadian provider with the prestigious Diploma programme in 2 Canadian cities: Vancouver and Calgary. B) Further to the WSET curriculum, Fine Vintage LTD. is an innovator in developing courses designed to advance students’ knowledge and understanding of wine. Such courses include: i. Sensory Master class – designed to strengthen your ability to identify key aromas and flavours in wine ii. Canadian Wine Scholar – the first Canadian institute to put the whole of the Canadian wine industry into a 2-day course iii. Sommelier Course – designed to develop your skills as a sommelier by incorporating service skills and knowledge of not just wine but also beer, spirits, and sake 2) Wine Tours a. Fine Vintage LTD. offers annual luxury wine tours to 5 iconic wine regions: Bordeaux, Champagne-Burgundy, Tuscany, Spain, and South Africa. b. The tours include accommodations at 4- and 5-star properties in each of these destinations and privileged access to the owners and winemakers of some of the wine world’s most iconic estates. Many of these estates are not open to the public. Meals are a lingering affair and always paired with top wines. c. Each of these tours is led by a Master of Wine with expert knowledge of the region. 3) Wine Jobs Websites a. Fine Vintage LTD. owns and operates www.winejobscanada.com; Canada’s leading job site for employers and job seekers in the Canadian wine industry b. For job seekers, the site is completely free to use and connects you with up-to-date job opportunities in the wine industry across Canada c. For employers, the fee to post is a very competitive $99. With this fee, your posting is listed on the site for 6 months or until it is filled. d. Further to Canada, Fine Vintage LTD. offers similar highly-rated sites in the United States, England, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.” Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers David Lancelot
The best wine of my lifeI love wine. I mean really love wine. There is a connection to the land and a connection to a specific moment in time that other beverages cannot replicate. That said there is a huge difference between good and truly great wine. I have been privileged to try many, many wines in my career thanks to great friends, wine makers and suppliers. Trade tastings like the Vancouver International Wine Festival , ZAP in San Francisco and Hospice du Rhone in Paso Robles have been instrumental in my learning curve and appreciation for all wine. I have been asked many times what are the best wines I have tried. It’s tempting to bring out the old saying that it’s like asking me to pick a favourite nephew/child. It can be said there are no absolutes but if I had to pick one I could because of the significance it played in my personal and professional life. #1 1985 Sassicaia . I purchased 3 of these bottles while working at Marquis Wine Cellars early in my career. I’d like to say it was good planning to buy three but it was mostly because I was an ardent follower of Robert Parker and he had raved about it in The Wine Advocate. At that time it was a lot of money for me to spend on three bottles of wine but I was starting a collection and thought they would be a good foundation. I don’t remember the first bottle being consumed but the second bottle of it is forever etched in my brain. My wife and I had dinner together at our home and it wasn’t specifically a special occasion but I wanted it to be a special wine so I grabbed a bottle of the Sassicaia. At that time it was probably 11-12 years old. Dinner was served; wine was opened and poured for each of us as we sat down to eat. I took a first sniff and she did as well. I remember being overcome by emotion as we started to eat and drink. There was nothing out of balance on this wine, alcohol was in check, tannins were integrated, aromatics were amazing and I had a moment that clarified my love for her and for wine. The interesting part for me about that moment is that I realized there are probably a number of different categories of wine. Not good, good, great and life altering. The life altering ones are few and far between and they are NOT intellectual exercises they are EMOTIONAL. Emotions are much harder to quantify. When I try wines of that calibre I find it almost impossible to write a tasting note because they strike my heart not my brain. I felt truly alive and electrified as I realized I was enjoying a truly special experience. That bottle was just 26 ounces of fermented grape juice. It was also a window into a different world. This was boldness to plant Cabernet Sauvignon in Bolgheri. ( First commercial vintage released was 1968). This was looking forward to the future of Italian wine. It stood Italian winemaking on its head as there wasn’t a category for these wines. We just called them Vino da Tavola , eventually the category IGT was created . Looking back I realize it was an expression of Cabernet Sauvignon but not necessarily an expression of Italian wine making culture and tradition. I accept that. But it was brilliantly conceived, farmed and made. I have rarely seen a review of this wine that did not rave about it. This led me to another conclusion. We often describe wines as being closed or dumb. I am convinced that this wine has never been in a period in which it wasn’t perfectly drinkable and that is another hallmark of truly great wines. There are a few more wines that deserve mentioning as being truly memorable. I’ll be talking about them at a later date. Do you have a memorable wine or story about wine you would like to share? We would love it if you would do so on our Facebook Page . Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers David Lancelot
So you want to buy a wine coolerThe decision has been made and you are now deciding on a new wine cooler to store your favourite bottles. The selection/set up process can go smoothly or not. It’s entirely up to you how this will go. I’m going to throw out some thoughts on how this can be a pain free process. #1 Plan, plan , plan. Will your unit be stand alone or under counter? If it’s under counter what is the maximum height the unit can be? What are the power requirements? Does it need to vent from the front? If you put a rear venting unit under a counter and the heat has nowhere to go it will burn out the motor. Include your finished floor height in your calculations if you are measuring very early on. If possible contact Wine Cellar Depot at the start and they can work with your builder or kitchen designer right from the beginning. #2 Plan, you are still planning right? Assuming you pick a larger unit can your doorways accommodate the assembled unit? Do you have sufficient clearance at the rear to allow for proper ventilation? Can you reach the rear of the unit to occasionally dust it? #3 Plan for delivery. Make sure you have enough room for the delivery vehicle to get to your home and that the installer has room to get it into position and get it working properly. #4 Clean. The cabinets will most likely need a wipe down inside and out before use. There are manufacturing processes that can cause odours to be present in the cabinet. A little prep ahead of time can make your life easier later. #5 It’s a numbers game. The stated numbers of bottles that the unit can hold are generally very optimistic. Manufacturers make their statements based on the smallest 750ml bottle available in the marketplace. Think of a bottle of Mouton Cadet White. If you have a collection of Champagne or Pinot Noir from Oregon or Chateauneuf du pape you will need to revise your estimates. #6 Time is not your friend. When you first plug in your unit it will run for quite awhile. Especially once you start adding wine. Think of all that liquid as a big heat sink. When you add 100 bottles or more to your cabinet it might take 2-3 days to cool things off. It depends upon the temp of the bottles and the ambient temperature of the room it is in. Be patient. Once it cools off it’s then going to cycle on and off at a fairly slow rate. I would aim for 13C as a good starting point for storage. If you want to serve wine colder, pull it from the unit and put it in your kitchen fridge. Wine Cellar Depot has a great range of coolers available for purchase. Good Oenopro Better Le Vielle Garde Best Majestika and Eurocave ( see picture) Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers David Lancelot