Posts Tagged ‘British Columbia’

How to Find your Wine in British Columbia

April 14, 2010

Looking for Bronzinelle? Or for any other wine in British Columbia? Go to the Liquor Distribution Board aka “Liquor Store” webpage. Since a reader asked about Bronzinelle, let’s say that is the wine you are looking for.

Click on PRODUCTS. You will see something like this:

Enter the name of your wine in the search box:

Click on the GO link. You can now see that your product “Bronzinelle” is available and have information on the country and region of origin, the vintage, the price and the SKU number.

Next click on the PRODUCT DETAILS link. You get a table with the regions in which this product is available. Let’s say you want to find a store in the LOWER MAINLAND. Click on that link.

Now you need to know how many stores are there and where in, let’s say, Burnaby, so you click on BURNABY

The table shows that there is a total of 72 bottles in Burnaby. Click on the BURNABY link to find out where are the stores located.

Voila! You have three choices. You are in North Burnaby but you don’t know where the store is located exactly. That’s when you click on the VIEW MAP link…

Wow! Now you just realized that the store that carries your wine is the one across the street from your home! Well, next time get off the couchputer and check the stores around your place! If you drink wine you must exercise to move those 150 calories per glass…

It doesn’t get any easier than this. Time to enjoy your Bronzinelle…



In Focus: Argentina’s Wine Regions

March 15, 2010

Glancing at a map of Argentina’s wine regions the first thing that comes to mind is how far those regions are from any large body of water. Separated from the Pacific Ocean by the massive wall of granite of the south Andes Mountains, Argentina is perhaps the only important wine region in the world to enjoy continental climate exclusively. This fact, which might have been a problem in other areas, is rather a blessing in the case of the south american country. In continental climates, summers are hot; hot summers are scorching; many times cooking the berries while still on the vine. It happens, however, that Argentina’s wine regions are not only inland but also are located at high elevations. In fact, some vineyards, like in Northern Salta, thrive at altitudes of over 2,000 meters above the sea level. This results in cooler conditions and a counterbalance to the parameters dictated by a continental climate. 

Anyone who has been to the Andes will remember the tremendous amount of solar radiation, bright, white light that sweeps the land. During most of the ripening season the skies are an endless blanket of spotless, immaculate blue. This, together with the latitude, work into a long ripening season. If that were not enough for a viticulture paradise, rainfall is quite low, averaging 150 mm per year. That is very dry. This landscape would be a harsh desert was not for the snow capped mountains to the east, separating it from neighboring Chile. Hundreds of years ago the Andean peoples mastered irrigation technology, to a level unparalleled anywhere in the world at that time. If you visit Mendoza, Argentina’s viticultural core, you won’t fail to notice the canals crisscrossing the city. Fresh, unpolluted glacier water reaches the vineyards, making the whole area into a veritable oasis. To complete the picture, add poor soils and you have some of the best terroirs in the world. 

The Regions


The sheer size of Argentina’s wine country is staggering. From the northernmost vineyards, in Salta, to southern Rio Negro in Patagonia, they cover 1,600 kilometres, with several different microclimates determined by a diverse combination of latitude and elevation. The core of this vast wine expansion lies in Mendoza, some 1000 kilometres northeast of Buenos Aires. This area alone has close to 140,000 hectares of vineyards. By comparison, British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley wine country amounts to some 2,000.   

Mendoza is divided in what could be called sub-appellations, five in total. North Mendoza is a plain of sandy loam soils, planted mostly with Bonarda, Sangiovese, Chenin Blanc and Pedro Ximenez. Most wine produced there is for early drinking.

The Upper Mendoza district is perhaps Argentina’s current top terroir. The sub-area of Lujan de Cuyo (loo-han deh coo-yoe) has a recognized DO status or Denominacion de Origen. It is also an area of great scenic beauty, with the lush greenery of the vineyards and tree hedges set against the backdrop of the snow tipped Andes.  Malbec reigns supreme here and some of the premier Argentinian wineries are located in this area. Stony soils, excellent thermal amplitude* and minimum rainfall result in wines of depth, flavor and concentration. Besides Malbec, quality wines are made of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Among the white grapes, Chardonnay and Semillon stand out. Many bodegas located there have their wines available in Vancouver: Altos Las Hormigas, Terrazas de los Andes, Ruca Malen, Renacer, Norton, Nieto Senetiner, Foster, Dominio del Plata, Chakana and Catena Zapata. 

In a next posting we will visit the Uco Valley, an exciting new development in Upper Mendoza district.


Ivan Alfonso

*Thermal amplitude. Refers to the difference between day and night temperatures. Ideal conditions allow for a hot day and a cool night –a wide amplitude- so that acidity can be sustained in until full grape maturation.  

ps. Photos. Dominio del Plata winery. Lujan Fall landscape from Flickr by Nino Calogero.

Zinfandelis Part One

August 8, 2009

Oh the much ridiculed grape from California. The grape only Californians love. The grape that Vancouverites love to hate. Well, here they were, the Zinfandel ambassadors, those pesky Americans, full of sound and fury, full of grandiloquence, celebrating their beloved Zinfandel, spreading the good news, the word, as if spreading the gospel, perhaps, being Americans, that is the way they know well, fundamentalist Christian style, even when the subject is just wine. When the issue of Primitivo being the same grape was raised, oh yes, oh they reacted like zealous keepers of the faith. It was fun to watch.

Passion, passion, a word that was pronounced again and again by the speakers, winemakers, who came to Vancouver to show us that, yes, Zinfandel can, yes it can, and it certainly does, not to the degree they would like to, but yes, I enjoyed many of the Zins tasted and for sure, I can see it as great food wine.

British Columbians will resist Zinfandel for a while. They are stuck with the image of Zin being a sweet blush cheap wine. Humans resist new things, resist change, like no other species. British Columbian humans oh they love to hate America, they love to hate Americans and things American. Perhaps because there are no discernible differences between the two cultures, the only way to set themselves apart is by negation. Anyway, going back to the subject of interest. I am certain the gospel of Zin will eventually spread, taken by the hand of Vancouver’s cuisine, which is, surprise, Asian. Zinfandel is the perfect red wine to marry the spicy, sweet, tangy, hot dishes that come from Guangdon to Hanoi, from Bangalore to Bangkok, the whole arch of far eastern cultures.

For those who dare to try:

Ironstone 2007 Old Vine. Lodi. 14.5%, 19.99.
Simple, packed with red and dark berries, spice, medium bodied juicy, easy drinking.

Ridge Lytton Springs. 2006. 14.7%. 49.99.
A dash of Syrah and a bit of Carignan make this Zin very interesting, with beau coffeeish red fruit and great acidity plus a subtle vegetal streak. Delicious, but ay, there is the rub, fifty bucks.

Ridge Three Valleys 2007 14.3%. 39.99.
It doesn’t deliver like its older sibling. The acidity sags behind the fruit and the alcohol.

Robert Biale Black Chicken 2006. Napa Valley. 15.8 %. 84.99.
A fantastic Zifandel, with great acidity, beautiful balance and structure, elegant. The price, again, goes against it.

Robert Biale Black Chicken 2007. Napa Valley. 15.8 %. 84.99.
Not as bright as its 2006 partner.

Seghesio Home Ranch. 2007. Alexander Valley. 15.5%. 49.99
Full bodied, fruit forward, velvety Zin. Yes, despite the price.

Seghesio Cortina 2006. Creek Valley, N. Sonoma. 15.2%. 49.99.
A more astringent wine that its stable mate above, a more “Italian” feeling to it. High acidity bordering with unpleasant, but then, just not crossing that line, and making it very interesting, very challenging, with a long finish, one of the stars of the show. Yes, go and get one.

Bonarda, the other red grape from Argentina

May 27, 2009

Although not well known in British Columbia, Bonarda is one of the most widely planted red grapes in the land bonarda don domenicoof Che Guevara. Traditionally used for blending, today some wineries are producing very interesting varietal wines. Don Domenico’s rendition, grown and vinified in northerly San Juan, has a pretty ruby red color, with purple tones. Aromas of dark fruit, almost like prune juice, herbaceous, earth minerality precede a medium body with red fruit and slightly angular tannins. The finish has good length, with red fruit, peppery spice and a vegetal streak.

Product: Bonarda

Variety: Bonarda

Vintage: 2005

Winery: Don Domenico

Origin: San Juan, Argentina

Alcohol: 14.4%

Price: 26.99 (

Don Domenico, Syrah

May 26, 2009

Don Domenico brings another delicious wine to its selection available in British Columbia. This Syrah from Huanacache, Northern Argentina, has a surprising floral nose, with fresh lavender, red fruit and spice. Deep ruby in color, it has a medium-plus body tha is soft, with red fruit and good acidity. The finish is long, with mint tones.

Product: Don Domenico

Variety: Syrah

Vintage: 2007

Winery: Don Domenico

Origin: San Juan, Northern Argentina

Alcohol: 14%

Price: 19.99 (Everything Wine)

Andeluna Malbec, Winemaker’s Selection

May 19, 2009

I knew about this wine from friends in South America and have been waiting long for its arrival. Winemaker SilvioAndlna_06_malbec_WS_bottle Alberto in collaboration with world famous Michel Rolland have crafted this formidable Malbec in the Tupungato area of Mendoza. Not for the faint of heart, this deep purple broth has a rich nose of ripe plum, fresh lavender, earth and a touch of vanilla. Eight months in French and American oak show through toast, smokey notes that accompany the prune and plum flavors exhibited by this medium plus body wine. Tannins are soft and the finish is long and persistent, saturated with ripe dark fruit and fig. Complex and intense, this exuberant Malbec is a must for British Columbia lovers of Argentinean wines.

Variety: Malbec

Vintage: 2006

Origin: Tupungato, Mendoza, Argentina

Winery: Andeluna

Alcohol: 14.2%

Price: 19.99 (Everything Wine)