About Winecouver Acerca de

April 22, 2010

Aconcagua Mountain, near Mendoza,  2008

Amazon forest biologist turned Alaska marine biologist turned winophiliac, Ivan Loyola is a wine consultant, writer and speaker with WSET studies. Ivan is a member of the South World Wine Society‘s executive committee and works as a sales consultant with Everything Wine, BC largest wine-only store. Ivan’s favorite wines come from Argentina, Chile, California, Oregon, Washington, Italy, France, Spain, Israel, Greece, Lebanon, Canada, Georgia, Montenegro, Croatia, Uruguay, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Slovenia, etc. Not necessarily in that order. Ivan wants you to eat well and sustainably, especially when it comes to fish and seafood. He aspires to live in a world free of all forms of cruelty against humans and animals. He lives in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.

Blog en Castellano peruvino sobre vinos y maridajes con comida peruana

Stars of the Playhouse Festival: Trefethen

April 19, 2011

Trefethen 2007 Estate Merlot

This Merlot, which I mentioned in my previous post, is here to turn heads. The 93 points by Wine Enthusiast Magazine are fully justified, if by that they mean a mean, firm and complex red. Big and bold, Californian in and out, I came back to this booth to taste it again. Great addition to thewinesyndicate portfolio. $39.99.

Trefethen 2007 Estate Cabernet Savignon

The Trefethen label also brought this Cabernet Sauvignon   to the show, defying the big Californian style that we all are so used to. Definitely more subtle than its stable mate, this wine is more about finesse than muscle and should be a great addition to any cellar as it will but improve with a few years of guarda. Robert Parker, my favorite wine point-giver, sanctioned 91 pts for this baby.

Yabby Yabby at the Playhouse Wine Festival

April 12, 2011

Had these two Chardonnay before the Playhouse Wine Festival, like a year ago, tasting courtesy of Renassaince Wine Merchants’ Alice Walcott. Liked them both then and liked them again a few days ago at the fest. The first of the pair (to the right) is the Yabby Lake Chardonnay, a brilliantly executed wine. Flavorful, crisp and unremittingly Australian in its boldness, self-confidence and flavors. The Cooralook, its little brother (or sister, depending of what you think of Chardonnay’s sexual inclinations) is full, very crisp. I believe the latter to be in the vicinity of 20 bucks and the Yabby Lake Chardonnay around 35. Good stuff.

Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival

April 7, 2011

Oh well. After months of anticipation it came and now it is a fading memory. Like everything else, like life itself. Uh uh, I am very philosophical today. Must be the weather, a blast of sunlight bathing the whole of Metro Vancouver, beautifully bouncing back on the greenandwhite of the north shore mountains. Not to mention the mountains around Pitt Meadows, where I am staying after coming back from months in Lima. How can I afford it? Don’t ask.  The mountains, the sunshine. Simply adorable. Green, white and blue sky.

Back to the subject of interest.

Wine.

Playhouse Wine Festival 2011.

Ok, let’s say, I was busy manning the Badia Cultibuono booth, helping a most charming Italian expert, Emanuela Stucchi, who, in two strokes applied with great subtleness reminded me that I really know next to nada about Chianti. Will mention the wines in a later post. And then, had the great luck to man the booth with a couple of show stoppers, I am talking now about the Schloss Schonbrunn Rieslings. Oh my, what depth, what beautiful acidity, what amazing concentration and length… in fact I have found what I consider to be the best 20 dollar Riesling you can find this part of the world.

The show itself… well, let’s be real. It’s becoming a little bit of a joke. Big is not always good. Especially when it comes to something so sublime a drink as wine.

You still want a name or two? Ok. The South African Pinotage by the name Coffee. 15 bucks of sheer mocchajava aromas and flavors.  Threfeten Merlot 93pointer at around 40 dollars. Humberto Canale Cabernet Franc. (That would be Argentina, dude).

Let’s this show begin.

Cafayate’s Cabernet Sauvignon

February 3, 2011

Move on Malbec! just kidding. But hey, a jewish celebrity said two thousand years ago “not on bread alone”, and the wisdom of this phrase still holds today, especially when it comes to wine, where searching for new flavors, grapes, styles and appellations is the only way to learn and enjoy more. After the 2012´ish tsunami wave of Malbec sweeping all six continents (they drink it in the research stations in the Antarctic), one has to wonder what else may come from the land of the gaucho, cheap beef and omnipresent botox applications. Well, it turns out that the king of grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon is doing really well there, and thanks to the long ripening season the phenolic ripeness many a time coincides with the sugar ripeness. The latter is the one that makes the fruit taste like a grape and not like mouthwash. It breaks down the acids and increases  the sugar content. Phenolic ripening is related to tannins, and when picking happens while the tannins are not mature enough this can have an unpleasant effect on the wine, giving it a “green” character. In grapes with heavy loads of tannin, like Cabernet Sauvignon, this problem can be a nightmare for the grower and the winemaker. In Argentina, however, due to the high elevation of the vineyards and lack of autumn rains, this is less of a concern, resulting in “sweet” tannins, also called “redondos” (round) and some other names that are reminiscent of the phemale anatomy and that I will discuss in another post dealing with the sexuality of wine.

Anyhow, and going back to the subject of interest, no better place for Cabernet Sauvignon than Cafayate, a colonial city in the province of Salta, far up north toward Bolivia. Cabernets from the area are intense, big, unfathomably fruity and have those beautiful sweet round tannins that tickle your buds long after you swallow. The province is famous for the Calchaquies Valleys, which boast truly high elevation vineyards, up to 2000 meters above sea level, dwarfening the “high vineyard” monicker that many wineries from Mendoza love to stamp on their back labels. Cabernet Sauvignon does so well there that in fact, wines from Cafayate have won national challenges in Argentina, leaving behind not only wines from famed Mendoza but those made with the legendary Malbec grape. Names to look for include Etchart, Colome, San Pedro, Nanni, among many more.

Budget Syrah from San Juan

January 15, 2011

What a great finding! Although I bought this Syrah in Lima, I am sure it is available in Vancouver, as most Argentinean wines I have seen in Peru are sold also in the True North, Strong and Free. This wine isn’t free, although its price is as close as it gets to that dream. 6 US dollars in Lima should translate into 8 or 9 dollars in British Columbia.

Ok, to the wine. The Colon Syrah is made in the Tulum Valley, in San Juan, arguably the best area for this grape in the whole of Argentina. What do you get? A remarkable nose brimming with warm red fruit and spice tones followed by the same plus good pepper and a suprisingly firm finish for a wine at this price. Medium bodied, fine tannins and elegant, this is a confirmation of the suitability of San Juan’s terroir for one of the best loved grapes used in winemaking.

 

A hidden Italian treasure in the heart of Lima

December 14, 2010

My 13th day in Lima and after a wonderful first week of eating great and  drinking better (wine) I fell to the dreaded sickness that afflicts visitors: stomach infection from drinking tap water. Actually, didnt drink it but used tap water ice cubes to make a ceviche, which comes to be the same. Or perhaps worse.

I will leave those laments aside for now and as I recover for my next round of culinary and wine adventures let me tell you about this little place, a bakery-restaurant called Levaggi, which has been around for decades. It sits on a corner of downtown Petit-Thouars avenue, the cross street is Manuel Segura* in the traditional Lince district, a lower middle class neighborhood which has become a must see because of its market and surrounding area packed with affordable, good-quality eateries. Chifas (chinese food restaurants) and ceviche places are everywhere, as well as criolla (peruvian) food and anticucho (spicy meat brochettes) street vendors.

Levaggi started as a bakery only, like many other Italian run bakeries in old Lima. Later they added the restaurant section, which proved to be a great idea. The restaurant is unpretentious in its decoration and retains an air of old times, with its counters and food exhibitors packed with pastries, breads, hams, sausages, home made pasta and bottles of wine. Servings are massive and fairly inexpensive. Although the menu is mostly peruvian, there is a section dedicated solely to Italian dishes. Their basic menu pasta is homemade fettuccini, which you can have with tomato sauce only for 8 soles (approx. 2.50 dollars), accompanied with a basket of bread and butter, dessert and a hot drink. Or you can switch to marinara or pesto sauce for the same price. You can have meat or mushrooms on your sauce or go for ravioli (I recommend the vegetable version, yummy) or other Italian pastas.

Prices for set menus can go up to 25 soles (9 dollars) for fancy dishes or for large servings or generous servings of meat. Worth trying their ossobuco, lomo saltado (peruvian stir fry version) and their butifarras, sandwiches made with house cooked ham.

Wine is a must in an Italian restaurant and they have a modest but competent selection. Nothing outstanding but good enough for this kind of meal. The house wine is an italian Rosso but you can have Chilean Clos de Pirque out of a box. This latter one is pretty good value. Then they have Farnese‘s Merlot, Sangiovese and Montepulciano. They even have a special with two glasses of wine and a set menu for 14 soles. Pretty reasonable, although if you are likely to want more (wine) it is better to go for the half liter caraffe for 15 soles.

There are a few Italian bakery restaurants like this in Lima, all of them worth checking out not only for the food but  also for the experience, to feel that air of the past trapped behind their swing doors, whirling through hanging hams and freshly baked loaves of bread. Look for Cordano, near the main square, Queirolo both their downtown and Pueblo Libre locales or the old Carbone sandwich house, again in old downtown.

*this area is half way between Miraflores district and old Lima downtown

Shiraz Mataro 2009 by Banrock Station

November 17, 2010

Wow, in the search for inexpensive, tasty, quality wine I found this little  warrior. Nicely scented nose and firm, juicy body. Loved the blend. By the way, Mataro is the Australian word for Monastrell (Spain) and Mourvedre (France). 10.99 is a great price for this red. Try it with spicy tomato sauce on spahgetti.

Basa Fillet in Wine Sauce: A French Recipe with a Peruvian Twist

October 6, 2010

 

A while ago (I’d rather exclude definite time references to avoid feeling old-er) I met with delight a simple yet delicious seafood dish. My friend in her  Coquitlam home made this salmon fillet in Pinot Noir sauce. I loved it so much that she made it a couple times more for me. Then one day I figured I would try a similar recipe changing ingredients, which is the best way to create new recipes and have a lot of fun. So I replaced the salmon for white fish, in this case, Basa, although I have used rockfish (aka snapper) and halibut also. It works out great with all of the above. I am not fond of precise recipes, just because that is the way I cook and also, I believe that every person has a different appreciation for each ingredient, so bare with me. I would suggest try to interpret the recipe in the way you would like the final product to taste like. Here it goes.

Grab a couple 200 gram Basa fillets. For those who don’t like grams or measurement units, grab a couple fillets, each enough to satisfy one person. That would be the average person. Which means nothing really, because the “average” is a figment of one’s imagination. Pretend the average person to be you then and grab those fillets.

The Salmon Pinot Noir recipe included shallots. In this case, just for fun I used red onions. I highly recommend Peruvian red onions from Arequipa province, with no doubt, the best ever. Since they are hard to find, I used Washington State red onions of medium size. They are phenomenally good. Chop one onion fairly fine. Put a dash of vegetable oil in bowl shaped frying pan, wok or similar. On low heat melt a couple spoonfuls of salted butter. Sautee the onions for 2 minutes. Here comes the tricky part. You need to find this product called AJI PANCA. Aji (a-hee) is the word for hot pepper or chili in Peru and in most of the South American Andes. This Panca one is a truly delicious condiment, a little bit like Chipotle but less pungent and not smoky at all. It doesn’t have that bit of bacon like aroma that the Chipotle does. You can buy this Panca pepper paste in Latino shops, there are a few in Metro Vancouver. If you google them up you will find them easy. Slather the fillets with this paste, you can use quite a bit of it. Do not be afraid, this aji is at most mildly spicy but oh, so flavorful. Place said fillets on frying pan or wok and add a quarter of a glass of white wine. This can be dry or off dry. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 6 minutes. I sometimes throw a few capers for that briny, zingy acidity that always seems to enhance fish and seafood flavors. Probe the fillets with a fork; they should flake nicely although Basa will not flake like salmon. It is firmer. You will have to learn this by experience. Serve on fresly cooked basmati rice. I have enjoyed this fish with Alsatian Gewurztraminer or a Torrontes with personality, like the Andeluna.

If you make this you will love it. Let me know what you think. Aji Panca paste is usually sold in little jars like the one shown above. It sells in Vancouver for about 5 dollars. You can also buy it in plastic sachets for a little less.

Di Majo Norante

September 18, 2010

What a great winery this is. Located in the Molise region of south central Italy (if you know Italian geography by its boot shape, Molise would be located on the lower part of the calf).  Wines have been made in the area since the times of the Romans. Which is not to say much in a country where wine is as much part of the national identity as Calcio (soccer), funny shaped pasta and bodacious, sultry divas like Gina Llollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale.

I don’t know about you, but I love a beautifully packaged product. I hate putting on my table wines with tacky labels. And if that is the wine I have, then it goes in a decanter. But with labels like the ones offered by Di Majo Norante, well,  I have them on my table and discuss and appreciate them with friends. Maybe they can try next a picture of Gina or Claudia on the label of a full bodied wine. Just kidding. But, no, seriously.

Di Majo Norante’s products in Vancouver are available both through LDB and private stores. With prices hovering over the 15-24 dollar range they offer excellent quality for the money. The Sangiovese Terre degli Osci IGT 2008 has merited a 90pt score by Antonio Galloni (www.erobertparker.com) no small achievement for a wine under 15 dollars. Great label, dry and mellow wine, with red fruit and a bit of leather.

Prugnolo is made of Montepulciano grapes. A great match to pasta dishes, meats or cheese. Taut, firm and structured with good balance between acidity and dark fruit. Which sounds like any other wine but trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Price?  22-25 dollars.

Ramitello is a blend of Sangiovese and Aglianico grapes. I think in a post waaay back I said Montepulciano and Aglianico. My mistake. This one has a fullish, mellow body made interesting by that ashey, raw mineral quality of the Aglianico variety.

A visit to the winery’s website www.dimajonorante.com shows that they make a number of other red wines and a selection of whites. Until recently the Contado Aglianico was available in Vancouver. Heard was quite good. I would like to try their renditions of Falanghina, Greco and Fiano. Particularly interesting to me is the Apianae, a sweet white made with Moscato grapes. Hopefully the importers, Stile Enterprises, will bring some of these products to our wine thirsty city.

 

Causa with Pulpo (Octopus)

August 31, 2010

Although all dishes were very good and all attendees liked them at my last event Peruvian Food Tasting  & Wine Pairing, I think I got the best comments for the Causa de Pulpo. This uniquely Peruvian dish is delicious, tangy and mildly spicy and easy, easy to make. Here the recipe.

Please note this is right off my mind so amounts will not be exact. However, I have prepared this so many times that I am sure it will be pretty close.

Potato mash (Causa proper)

Boil two pounds of white or yellow potatoes. Peel and mash while still warm. Set aside in bowl. Squeeze one fat lime over mash, a 4 spoonfuls of olive oil (the entry level one not the xtra virgin) and IDEALLY 2 spoonfuls of Peruvian Yellow Aji Pepper paste. You can buy this at different Latino markets in Metro Vancouver. If don’t feel like going all the way there you can try a couple teaspoonfuls of turmeric for color and a pinch or more of chili flakes. Knead well until paste is uniform.

Sauce: blend half a small jar of mayonaisse with 10 pitted kalamata olives, a good dash of olive oil and the juice of a lime.

Octopus: Buy pre-cooked and then just thaw and cut in small pieces or buy baby octopus and steam them for 10 minuts until they turn red and tender. Cut in pieces.

You can make a small bun with the Causa paste or you can use a mold, like a small cup to make a cake. Set on dish and slather the mayo on top with very thin celery slivers. Put octopus on top and on the sides, together with a piece of avocado.

Bon appetit!


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