Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

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.

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!

Peruvian Cuisine Tasting: Burnaby Heights

August 18, 2010

Want to try the real Peruvian Ceviche and other delicious national dishes like Causa, Potatoes Huancaina, Anticuchos and more? How about having them paired with awesome wines? Your host Ivan Loyola and the staff at Rustic Llama Peruvian Cafe invite you to join us for a celebration of Peruvian cuisine, this time in Burnaby Heights.

We will open the evening with a Pisco Sour and a short presentation on what makes Peruvian cuisine so unique and the current darling of international foodies.

Peruvian Food Tasting & Wine Pairing

Rustic Llama Peruvian Cafe

August 25, 2010

A Selection of Typical Peruvian Dishes

v Ceviche de Pescado. A Peruvian classic. Minimalist use of ingredients to allow the fish to shine. Paired with Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc

v Causa de Pulpo. Exclusively found in Peruvian Cuisine, a cold, tangy, mildly spicy mash potato cake topped with olive mayo and octopus. Paired with Olivares Rose

v Pollo a la Brasa. Rotisserie chicken is found everywhere but it is hard to beat this spice driven, bronze skinned, moist Peruvian rendition. Paired with Ferrandiere Marselan

v Arroz con Pollo. The Peruvian version offers a cilantro flavored dish with mild spice. Paired with Primitivo Salvalai

v Anticucho. Of African origin and sold mostly by street vendors, an incomparable skewer of beautiful texture and mouthwatering flavor.  Paired with Caliterra Tributo Carmenere

v Alfajor. Traditional pastry stuffed with sweetened,  browned milk. Paired with El Escondido Late Harvest Semillon

Wine List

Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc 2009. $13.99. 90 points by Robert Parker! Herbal nose, citrus flavors and minerality interplay in a framework of impeccable acidity.

Available at: Everything Wine

Olivares Rose (Monastrell & Syrah) 2009. $13.99. 90 points by me. Firm fruit, a touch of spice and surprisingly elegant for a wine at this price.

Available at: Everything Wine

Caliterra Tributo Carmenere. $18.99-20.99. 92 pts by Natalie McLean. Smoky vanilla and plum galore in this full bodied version of Chile’s flagship grape.

Available at: Central City, Surrey. Divino Quayside New Westminster.

Cantine  Salvalai  Primitivo Flaio 2007. $12.95. Ripe fruit, juicy and spicy, ideal for barbequed meats, East Indian and many meat based Peruvian dishes.

Available at : LDB

El Escondido Late Harvest Semillon 2005. 18.99. Deliciously viscous, with ripe fruit flavors underpinned by precise acidity.

Available at : LDB. Note : when purchased by the case of six the price is 13.99

Draw prize : Wine courtesy of Everything Wine. 998 Marine Drive, North Vancouver.

When: Thursday August 26th, 2010.

Time: 700 pm – 830pm

Where: Rustic Llama Café. 3675 E. Hastings at Boundary (NW corner), Burnaby, BC

Private event. Confirm your reservation. Limited seating.

Call 778 322 7701 or email winecouver@gmail.com

First Peruvian Cuisine Tasting in Kitsilano

July 21, 2010

 

 

Peruvian Cuisine is the new darling of the culinary world. Restaurants offering Causa, Ceviche, Potatoes Huancaina and scores of other dishes are all the buzz in London, New York, San Francisco, Buenos Aires and Tokyo. Why? Come and learn how successive waves of immigrants from all five continents grafted their culinary traditions on the astronomically huge diversity of ingredients found in the waters, coastal fields, high mountains and Amazon plains of Peru.

We will enjoy a delicious food sampler prepared by experienced Chef Pedro Guillen: Halibut & Octopus ceviche, Causa (cold mash potato cake), Peruvian Tamal, Seco (cilantro scented lamb stew), Anticucho (spicy meat skewers), Empanadas and Suspiro de limeña (Lima girl’s sigh) a creamy, scrumptious dessert. Drinks: we will open the evening with a Peruanissimo Pisco Sour followed by a flight of wines selected for perfect pairing by Winecouver. A sensorial experience not to be missed!

When: August 12, 2010

Time: 700 pm – 830pm

Cost: $40

Where: Mochikas Peruvian Cafe

1696 West 5th Avenue at Pine Street

Vancouver, BC

V6J 1N8

For information or tickets call

778 322 7701 or email winecouver@gmail.com

or go and buy at Mochikas Cafe

HURRY!  LIMITED SEATING

Languedoc Wine Tasting in Burnaby Heights / SOLD OUT. Thank You All!

June 30, 2010

Chez Meme Baguette Bistro and wine apassionado Ivan Loyola (winecouver) announce a soiree of French wine, food and fun.

When: Thursday, July 15, 2010

Time: 7:00pm – 8:30pm

Where: Chez Meme Baguette Bistro

4016 Hastings Street Burnaby, BC V5C (Hastings and Gilmore)

Burnaby, BC

Contact: Tel. 778 322 7701 or 604 299 1141

Languedoc, in Southern France, is one of the most exciting appellations for great wine of distinct character and good value. Come join us to explore whites, reds and roses paired with a sampler of French dishes. Wine apassionado Ivan Loyola will guide you through the regions and wines, while the Bistro staff will give insights into French cuisine. There will be a draw to win a French chef knife and a bottle of wine. Tickets $35. Please RSVP as seats are limited.

Menu:

Sliced baguette with brie, poached pears and toasted walnuts

Smoked salmon with dill cream cheese wrapped in crepe

Albacore seared tuna with lemon caper mayo light grenache

ratatouille mousse

Confit de Canard (duck)

Lamb shanks sliders

Chocolate dessert

Wines:

Blanquette de Limoux Sparkling

Chateau de la Galiniere Rose

Lulu B Chardonnay

Domaine de Nizas Rouge

Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Grenache Syrah

Chateau de Camplezans Syrah

Chapoutier Banyuls

To buy tickets visit the Bistro (604 299 1141) or buy online at

www.localwineevents.com

Playhouse Wine Festival 2010: Let’s the Games Begin

April 23, 2010

Wow! the new Vancouver Convention Center is really awesome. Great sweeping views of the North Shore mountains and the Burrard Inlet and spacious, huge hollow rooms that may feel cavernous if it was not by the skillful use of wood bricks covering the walls, giving it a warm maple syrup brown feel to this great indoors. Light years away from the warehouse feeling that the old Convention Center has. The first trade session was packed, with kilometric line ups to pick up tickets and to complete registration.

To the wines. I ignored the siren calls of Italian reds, elegant Champagnes, appealing Oregon whites. I went straight for the theme booths, Argentina and New Zealand. The latter country was very popular and many of its booths were beyond reach. Rant: C’mon Vancouverites. This city has been a wine city for over a decade now. When are you going to learn the most basic etiquette of wine tasting? Blocking spittoons, chatting endlessly with your pals blocking access to tables and wearing perfume are all no, no, no and no.

Ok, I got that out of my system. As a result, a limited tasting of New Zealand with two wines that stand out like two lonely stars in a dark southern sky. The Ostler 2008 Audrey’s Pinot Gris is a complete sensorial assault of pleasure. Starting with the nose. It was so intoxicatingly delicious that it made it hard to follow Jim Jerram, Ostler’s rep telling me about their terroir. Close to Otago but not as far inland, limestone soils and ocean breezes influence Ostler’s vineyards. The nose is intense, thick, a prelude to what is to come. Wow! I said after my first sip. It’s like a lady with curves. Chardonnayish. Jim agreed, with excitement. “Exactly, we make it like a Chardonnay, but on a diet.” A Chardonnay in a weight watchers program. A Chardonnay on a fast bike. There is a feeling of something that grows fatter and fatter on the palate but then whooosh! it’s gone and back to a leaner, trimmed up texture. “It’s the acidity, idiot.”  Brilliantly made, this Pinot Gris has a distinct spectrum of nose, flavors and texture and it may not be your accessible everyday wine at $38 but definitely one of those wine styles that set trends and change paradigms. Bravo for Ostler and thanks Jim and Gord for all the information.

The other white from Kiwi land that made my head turn was -not surprisingly- a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Matua Valley’s Paretai 2009 is as good as it gets for the grassy and minerally sassy style from South Island. At 29.99 this vibrant and fresh SB delivers all the goods one expects from the appellation.

Changing country, I expected a lot more whites from Argentina. The offer is still dominated by Torrontes. In my humble (not) opinion, there should have been a lot more quality Chardonnays. Anyway, less whining and more wining. I found one remarkable white by Bodega Lurton. The 2007 Gran Lurton Corte Friuliano, is a somewhat idyosincratic blend of Sauvignon Vert, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Torrontes, accomplished to notes of high delight. Aromatic on the nose, agile, playful and fruity on the palate, satisfying on the endless aftertaste. As in the case of the Ostler Pinot Gris, this Friuliano may have the limitation of price (29.99) to become popular. Nevertheless, an excellent effort by Lurton, which entry level $13.99 Pinot Gris is a promise of what this winery can do with the variety.

Red wines to follow on next post.

More Wines of IVSA March 21st

March 30, 2010

The week before IVSA, Alejandro Salinas of Marful Consultants told me about some Garagiste wines from Chile they are importing. So I was curious to taste these new products. Finally, on the evening of the 21st at the Four Seasons Alejandro poured the Polkura 2006 Syrah from the Colchagua Valley. I had to concur with Alejandro’s comments: the Polkura deserves all the recent scores garnered left, right and center. 90 Parker points, 90 Wine Spectator, Gold Medal at Syrah du Monde 2008. Decidedly Languedoc-ish in style (must be the dash of Mourvedre and Grenache Noir), smoky and full flavored, plus a very attractive, classic packaging, this Syrah rivals that other Chilean delicious Syrah, the Montes Alpha. The Polkura will retail in Vancouver at around $29. Don’t miss it. 

Robert Smith of Wine Quest was pouring the increasingly popular Scurati Sicilia Rosso IGT 2007. I already lauded this product but there’s always better things to say about it. This unoaked Nero d’Avola is all about being jammy, plump, intense and satisfying. I am sure Vancouver wine enthusiasts will learn to love Nero d’Avola through this rendition. 24 dollars well spent. When Robert poured me a sip of the Brunello di Montalcino Col d’Orcia (a 2003, 92 Parker pointer) he knew I would love it. He asked me, however, for my thoughts on a market for this wine in the 375ml format (32 dollars). I totally believe people will snatch this one. The demi-bouteille market is decidedly full of room for growth. The nose on this wine is so densely packed with aromas of ripe fruit and tobacco and mineral that one might forget to drink it. On the palate, outstanding balance in the medium plus body and great staying power. 

Enoteca Bacco didn’t have the delicious –and rare- Vigna Pedale Nero di Troia on this edition. Where can you buy this wine? I must find out for the benefit of the reader. Instead, signore Bellantoni poured me some Chateau Mourgues du Gres, the 2008 Costieres de Nimes Les Galets Rouges. 92 Parker points for this 20 dollar bottle don’t come across as an exaggeration at all. One of my favorite reds of the night, seething with the spicy waft and red fruit marmalade of a well achieved Syrah-Grenache blend. All the charm of the appellation plus an Argentinian sweetness in the tannins. 

David Herman Wine & Spirits Merchants’ booth was pretty busy and with all good reason. They were serving the Benegas 2006 Luna Cabernet Sauvignon ($19) and the Benegas Don Tiburcio blend ($22), both hailing from Mendoza. The former confirms previous assessments with its ripe dark fruit, sweet tannin and juicy, peppery full-bodiness. The blend, a passé-touts-graines sort of mélange that includes Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon was a surprise indeed, a very well balanced, smooth blend. These two I knew from before but the surprise was the Paradou Viognier and the Paradou Syrah-Grenache. From Cotes du Ventoux and both at 14.99, these are the little siblings of the well established Pesquie (Les Terraces and Quintessence) line of products. At this price they deliver all the quality you would expect from such a competent winery.  

 Sabrina Hira, of Appellation Wine Marketing briefed me on a set of newcomers to Vancouver, the Decero wines from Mendoza. The fairly recent winery has been making waves from the start and the wines tasted here did not disappoint. The Decero Malbec 2008  ($25.99) keeps in line with the plummy, juicy, slightly rustic style that comes to mind when you think of a good drop to push down barbequed steak, lamb and sausages. An “asado” wine. At the same price, I enjoyed the Decero Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, which starts with a breeze of dark fruit and eucalyptus globulus. Rich and satisfying, I see a good future for this CabSav in Vancouver. The Mini Edicion Petit Verdot was the darling at this booth, a blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec. Intense color and fragrant eucalyptus on the nose, medium body and dark fruited closing with a barrage of fine tannins falling on the palate like hail. Not everybody’s cup of tea (??) but surely will have a legion of loyal followers.

 The last Malbec of the night hails not from Argentina but from Australia and it is brought to Vancouver by International Cellars. The Bleasdale Second Innings  Malbec ($16) pleases with its rich plummy fruit and sweet, smooth tannins. You will not miss your Argentinian Malbec if you go for this one. From the Upper Galilee, where vineyards now thrive where decades ago tanks exchanged fire, Galil Mountain brings its Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of sweet fruit seethe in the warm nose, followed by a pleasant medium body. This wine is Kosher, tasty and inexpensive: it will set you back only 17 dollars.

 Cheers

Hot Wines from Argentina, IVSA March 2010

March 23, 2010

Pulenta Estate Winery, Mendoza

Thanks to warm weather the IVSA show was not as packed as the last two episodes. Packed is good; one feels the vibrancy of wine lovers pushing to get a taste of the stuff they love. But hey, its nice to get some room too, and probably this is the last IVSA of the year to get just that. As I promised before, most postings these days will be devoted to Argenwines, that is, Argentina wines. Let’s start by one of the very best. Vistalba Corte C Blend. I have been wondering for years why we don’t get Carlos Pulenta wines here in BC. That is Argentina at its best. Small production runs? I don’t know. Thank god, Patagonia Imports brings the Vistalba Corte “C” (corte is Spanish for blend) to Vancouver. Cortes A and B are really spectacular and hopefully, we’ll have them here soon. Lucila Planas of Patagonia Imports treated me to their Xumek Reserve Blend 2006. All adjectives fall short for this soft,  crème-bruleey  textured 14% alcohol blend. Lovely under 30 bucks. Another offering by this importer, the Acequias Oak Malbec , which I tasted in its native Mendoza a couple of years ago, still satisfies with its chocolatey tobacco notes, its concentrated flavors and its excellent price. Not very many Malbecs deliver this quality at 20 bucks.

The surprise of the night was Enoteca Bacco with Natino Bellantoni. I always loved to taste his particular –unique- picks from the land of Garibaldi, Pasta Faggiole and Pizza Napolitana. Verve Negroamaro, Belisario Verdicchio and Nero di Troia are usual staples at this booth. But tonight, Natino poured an unbelievably good Malbec, with all you expect from a good Argentinian varietal plus an Italian touch in the tannin and acidity. The Altavista Malbec Grande Reserve, at 35 dollars, will turn many heads. If that were not enough, Natino challenged me to estimate the price of the 2007 Altavista Atemporal Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah-Petit Verdot blend. It was delicious and I overshot way higher than the humble 22 dollar price tag. This is a wine you don’t want to miss.

Renaissance Wine Merchants had but one Argentinian wine, and they hit right on the nose with their Tapiz Malbec 2008. There is a muddle of inexpensive Malbecs and most of them as are good as you would like them to be. Fruit forward, plummy, aromatic, soft-tannin, they all share the goods. Tapiz is a bit like Maradona; lots of players are really good. Only a few make that special move that nobody else does. At 19 dollars, this a serious contender for best Malbec under 20. With the Playhouse looming ever closer with the Argentinian theme, Red Dog keeps up with their Calafate wines. These wines hail all the way from Patagonia and they want to be noticed. The Calafate Pinot Noir Grande Reserva is probably the first Argentinian Pinot Noir to really challenge the undisputed reigning champions of this segment, the Chilean Pinots. With sweet fruit and confident tannin, this Pinot will make its mark in the Vancouver wine market. The other offering by Cafalate is the Reserva Malbec 2009, a lovely smoothy of chocolate, plum, cigar, double cream cheese and sweet tannin for 18 dollars.

For those who don’t know yet Winecouver is also a wine scout in Argentina and Uruguay. The first successful effort by yours truly is the impressive Mapema line of wines. Lone Tree Cellars’ Susan Doyle poured Mapema’s first arrivals in Vancouver. The Sauvignon Blanc, at 18 dollars, departs from the classic grassy nose and instead delivers a self-confident blitzkrieg of lime and melon. Wonderful. The Tempranillo-Malbec blend is the perfect sip for those who look beyond the classic Malbec offering. Lighter, less plummy and more strawberriesh, this is a wonderful drink for a lazy mid-afternoon, with or without snacks. But Mapema really shines with the Malbec varietal. From the elegant label and packaging, it delivers all the plummy soft tannin goods you expect from a good Malbec. Plus an unflagging acidity and Bordeaux reminiscent elegance that sets this wine apart in the 20-25 dollar category. Winecouver was not wrong when he approached Pepe Galante, one of the most knowledgeable Argentinian winemakers.

Time to snooze.

More Argentinian wine in the next one.

Ciao

Ivan