Posts Tagged ‘IVSA’

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.



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.



IVSA November 9: The Reds. Part I

November 12, 2009

Ok, let’s face it: A shiny morning doesn’t mean that our beautiful Vancouver fall is holding on. Mostly days are turning gray, cold and miserable. And it is for that reason that while I decipher my wine notes from the last IVSA, a pot of Osso Bucco -Peruvian version- is simmering on the stove, flooding my kitchen with aromas of beef ribs, porcini mushroom and melting celery. While I seep and write I keep an eye on it, you know, cooking is a serious matter for a wineaddicto like me.

The wine I have in mind for this Peruvian stew  (Estofado) is the Poggio al Lupo IGT Toscana, brought to Vancouver by Liquid Art Fine Wines. This fine, big wine is made by Tenuta Sette Ponti, the very creators of proved success stories, like the delicious Crognolo. The Poggio al Lupo is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Alicante and a dash of Petit Verdot. The latter two are responsible for the deep coloring of this remarkable Tuscan broth and for its reverberate-on-the-palate tannic charge too. Piquant fruit on the nose, aggressive almost to a fault –but stopping just shy of- and with black fruit and herbal flavors that have a hint of bitterness, in the right sense. This makes for a challenging drink and for a great companion to a dish like the one I have on the slow cooker or for Osso Bucco, game or mature cheeses. In the vicinity of 70 dollars, this is a wine to look for. 91 points Wine Spectator 2007, 2008.

Wine Rhapsody treats British Columbians with the Chateau La Moutete, a red blend from Provence. The Rouge Vielles Vignes 2005 is a typical southern blend of Carignan, Grenache Syrah and Mourvedre. Medium bodied and straightforward in its simplicity, it will accompany duck or red meats with alacrity at c. 30 dollars. More impressive, albeit a lot pricier (7o dollars), the Marchesi di Barolo Cannubi 2001 is a big wine from Piedmont. A floral whiff precedes a full, dry, serious body that delivers all the textural –tannic- load of the properly vinified Nebbiolo grape. Braised meats like beef, lamb or game should allow the full appreciation of this biggie.

Stepping down a bit from the previous big Italian, I tasted the Sgubin Schioppettino, courtesy of Burrows, Luongo & Associates. This a red that deserves a lot more of the Vancouverite wine lover’s attention. The varietal is another incarnation of the better known Refosk grape, a local specialty which is adored in Northern Italy and Slovenia (where it is called Teran) but apparently nowhere else. Simple, rustic and tannic, it does have its charm, and having the chance of choosing a wine to have with roasted boar (ok, yes, it was road kill) I would go for this inexpensive food friendly red. 20-23 dollars. Burrows & Luongo also brings Australian wines. They showcased their Serafino line from McLaren Vale. At 26 dollars and 14.5% alcohol, both the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Shiraz represent good value. I enjoyed the Cab Sauv particularly, with its well integrated oak, juicy fruit and fine tannins.

Natalia Samborski from Select Wines walked me through some of their products. The 2008 Little Yering Pinot Noir comes to mind as excellent value. At 14.99 this Pinot from Yarra had a decent level of structure and a solid, savoury finish. The Villa Saletta 2005 Chiave (key) was the surprise novelty at this table and kept us chatting about it for a while. A blend of Cabernet, Sangiovese and Caladoc, this 16 dollar wine is light, simple and carries ticklish tannins, making the perfect complement to lighter fare. The 2004 Faustino V Rioja doesn’t need introductions and once again, impressed with its burly, intoxicating nose and stewed fruit loaded body. One of the best Riojas to be found at this price. My visit to this booth ended with the Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec 2006. Delivering the typical Mendoza’s Malbec style, this concentrated broth will be serious competition to the likes of Pascual Toso Reserva.

I will continue with the rest of the reds in my next post.


IVSA November 9. The Whites.

November 10, 2009

The last IVSA New Products Salon of the year was fun, crowded and full of new, tasty wines. The usual suspects were around and for the first time in a while I got to see the Wine Diva, Daenna Van Mulligen, tasting some sparkling wines of the Vino Allegro portfolio. For Daenna traveling has been intense recently and between flying, events and writing for her website, there is little time for anything else. As usual she was fun, friendly and looking spectacular. Oh, well, let’s not get carried away and onto the wines I tasted. I tried to taste more reds this time, as the three hours that these events last seem to shrink into some sort of time warp  and you never get to taste all the wines you planned.  I will cover the whites first, then bubbles and reds.

First I visited the Stewart Wine & Spirits booth, where I kicked off the night with the Bollini 2008 Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC. No surprises here, as the product is well established in the BC market. Fresh fruit and refreshing acidity held up by a slightly creamy texture. Always nice to find a Pinot Grigio which is not just another one. Under 20 dollars, this wine is an excellent pick any time. I followed with a Sauvignon Blanc by Bastianich, the “B” 2008. Compact and snappy, this would be a good alternative to Kiwi Sauv Blanc, especially on these cool days when the grassy character is not as attractive, and a more savory, almondy , less acidic wine seems to fit better the weather and gris November mood. This different Sauv Blanc will set you back 19.99. Give it a try. 

I have been waiting for a while to taste the Cuvee Claude Seigneuret Vielles Vignes Macon Bussieres AC 2007 by Domaine de la Saraziniere (what a mouthful of a name here) and I was not disappointed. Electric minerality upholds the….. (illegible!) fruit, better described as a touch of lemon juice squeezed through a filter of flint. Nice acidity and can see why this is a Liquid Art staff favorite. Now is one of mine too at 28.99 per bottle.

Wine Rhapsody brought a small yet tasty set of wines to the show. From the beautiful Loire, two Chenin Blanc offerings proved to be great wines for the season. The Chateau de Varennes Savennieres 2005 renders a textbook tasting of the appellation, with plenty of character, honeyfloralspicyacidity (did you get that? Im playing Faulkner here) at 30.00 dollars.  Also from the Loire and also Chenin Blanc but this time noblerotted, the Chateau Belle-Rive Quarts de Chaume 2003 is as beautiful as the sound of its name. This is all about texture texture and more texture against which fruit flavors, not-cloying sweetness and sober acidity plus a touch of minerality move in a seamless dance. 70.oo dollars for a 750 ml bottle is not bad at all, considering other similar products in the market. I wish I had had some blue cheese to go with. Hmm.


Among the most delicious whites of the evening was the Marina Cvetic 2007 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. Represented by Burrows, Luongo & Associates, this high alcohol (14.5%) white surely stands up to its 62.99 dollar price tag. Audacious in its aroma spectrum and bodacious in mouth, this wine is round, intense and satisfying. For those lovers of good west coast halibut baked with herbs and rich sauces, this is the bottle to pick. Having been in the halibut fishing industry for several years, I guarantee it. Your money back? Go see the agents! ; ) 

Wine Quest never fails to surprise and this time they did it again with a delicious Ribolla from Colli Orientali del Friuli. This 2007 Gialla by Poggiobello salutes with a heap of wet hay, melon and pomme aromas followed by a medium bodied, crisp, clean-finish sip. 25.99. Also at this table, the unoaked 2007 IGT Prato Grande Chardonnay by De Angelis was fresh, flinty and fersistant. I meant persistant but got caught with the flow of f’s. Go figure. Figure it out. Ok, enouf –enough- of that. 18.52 for this interesting wine from Marche.


Legacy Brand Management treated me to their 2003 Eikendal Stellenbosch Reserve Chardonnay. I have been curious about the new South African Chardonnays that (like the Ataraxia) seem to be harvesting awards left, right and center. This one had a remarkably skillful use of oak giving structure to rich lemony flavors that persisted in the finish. Truly delicious at 30.99 almost ten dollars below the aforementioned Ataraxia Chardonnay.


The only Muscadet Sevre et Maine of the night I tasted was brought by La Boutique du Vin. The Chant de la Mer indeed carried some marine reminiscence in its briney nutty leesy minerality. I thought of oysters and kisses. Oh, well, maybe shouldn’t go there, but they go together don’t they. 18.99 makes perfect for a nice seafood dinner for two any evening.


Lanigan & Edwards Wine Merchants import the wonderful 2006 Estate Chardonnay by Trefethen, the house that produces famed Cabernet Sauvignon. A mouth coating, unambiguously Californian Chardonnay, at 34.99 this creamy white puts La Crema in the back seat. Chard lovers pay attention.


That’s all folks.

Ciao for now.


November 9: IVSA New Products Salon Today!

November 9, 2009

Well, the IVSA show is starting in…. one hour and five minutes. Lots of new sparkling wines for the coming season will be available for tasting, as well as still red & white and spiritis. I will be hunting for heavy whites and cold weather reds. See you there

Four Seasons Hotel (corner opposite the Vancouver Art Gallery, north east direction). New Products from over 60 agents. Setup at 12:30, Guests from 2PM – 5PM. No Minors.

Import Vintners & Spirits Association New Products Salon: The Reds

October 24, 2009

Scary. Looking at my calendar I realize that the next IVSA event is scheduled for November 9th! So, before I get a glut of new wine notes to comment here, I will go back to those I had in the September event. And since I already posted notes on the whites I enjoyed, let’s now visit the tintos I found memorable. You may notice that mostly I am covering Italian wines but given the size of the IVSA event and the number of products (and the number of people you stop by to say hi and chat) there was little room for anything else.

• Let’s start with one of my favorites of that busy evening. Enoteca Bacco brings a truly delicious Negroamaro varietal, the 2006 Verve IGT from Salento. Pure expression of fruit, direct and ample, with dark overtones and really fun to drink. Not surprisingly, a previous incarnation of this wine, the Verve 2004, collected gold medals left, right and center. Battle the incoming November blues with Verve matching grilled blue fish like mackerel, sardines or spicy dishes (click on links for recipes). Just under 30 dollars, this listed product is available at LDB stores.

Tempus Malbec 2007. Under 18 dollars, I fully enjoyed this uncomplicated, fruity, filling Malbec brought to us by MKR Importers. A no brainer for roasted beef, grilled meats, sausage in a bun with friends, etc. Just make sure you don’t eat your friends. Ha ha.

• When I had the Anghelos IGT 2006 I did understand the reason for the name: Angelic. I recommend this wine with absolutely NO reservations to those who enjoy a balsamic nose followed by a meaty, fleshy chunk of fruity acidity and elegant tannins that do not let go. Cabernet Sauvignon, Montepulciano and Sangiovese are blended in this superb broth hailing from the Marche region. Soft enough to accompany a Pasta Fagioli (pasta and beans in tomato sauce) but will stand up to an Osso Bucco. Wine Quest importers hit it right on the nose with this vino tinto. Under 40 dollars, this is the kind of wine you want to kick off the cool part of the year in full form.

Fontanabianca means “white fountain”, which is the name of the winery that makes the Sori Burdin 2004 Barbaresco. This broth is potenza (potence) in the full meaning of the term. Nebbiolo grapes in grand style, with a tremendous aromatic profile and an equally tremendous body and tannic structure. Robert Parker, in his flowery-paralegal style calls this wine “authoritative”. I don’t know how a wine can be authoritative but I surely like the adjective here. Close to 90 dollars, granted not a wine for everyday consumption, but make sure you have a bottle around for that special occasion. And give me a shout when you do; I’d love to have this tinto again.

Di Majo Norante is a producer that always delivers quality at affordable prices, without compromising the quality and more importantly, the sense of terroir. Their Sangiovese and Ramitello are good examples of this, but here I want to mention the Prugnolo del Molise IGT 2004. A delicious, easygoing yet flavorful Sangiovese. Light and playful but balanced and structured enough to be taken seriously. This product, brought by Style Wines retails for less than 22 dollars.

•The last two wines are both represented by Liquid Art Fine Wines. The Tenuta Sette Ponti ‘Crognolo’ IGT 2006 is a Sangiovese Merlot blend from Toscana. At around 40 dollars a bottle, it merited a 92 pt score by Wine Spectator (08/31/08). Full bodied, concentrated, tannic, warm, with cherry and earthy aromas and flavors, this is a delicious, powerful wine.

I closed the night with the Domaine de Cristia Chateauneuf-du-Pape AC, 2006. I knew it would be my last tasting of the night. The lights had already flickered off a couple of times and the Liquid Art reps were already putting their gear away. I could not but ask for a second pouring, being late and feeling like I deserved a break. I savored every drop of the Cristia. Elated and in awe, I only jotted down

depth suavidad elegance long red fruit rocks beautiful alcohol integration A

Enough said.

Hasta la proxima.

IVSA New Product Salon, Sept. 21st. Vancouver

September 22, 2009

Import Vintners &; Spirits Association IVSA
New Product Salon
4 Seasons Hotel
Vancouver, September 21, 2009

This wine tasting show, put out by the Import Vintners and Spirits Association, was, like the previous ones, a success. A large selection of wines and spirits were poured, together with snacks. Importers, retailers, wine writers, aficionados, they all gathered at the Four Sesons Hotel. This event, which takes place every quarter, can’t be missed by those Vancouverites who love wine or those who want to get into the trade. Visit the IVSA website for details and be on their mailing list for the next event at:

On this occasion I tried several wines but focused on whites for good part of the show. Here what I found and what I recommend. Note that they are not in any particular order.

Shoofly 2007, Buzz Cut. Viognier, Riesling, Chardonnay, Verdelho, Semillon. South Australia. $19.99 Spec. Agent: Old Bridge Cellars. Excellent value. Think of the popular “Conundrum” blend, but 10 dollars less.
Poggio al Tesoro. Bolgheri “Solosole” IGT Vermentino. Toscana, Italy. $29.99. Excellent. Rich, deep and citrusy.
Prosecco Extra Dry. Villa Sandi. Italy. $22.95 Spec. Crisp, lemony, minerality. Highly recommended!Agent: Enoteca Bacco.
Verdicchio di Matelica, 2008. Vignetti del Cerro. “Belisario”. Verdicchio. $17.99. One of the stars of the night. Fresh, clean, crisp, every possible positive adjective for a white comes in here. Plus a great price. Agent: Enoteca Bacco.
Poggiobello. Friulano Colli Orientali del Friuli 2007. $24.99. 91 pts Wine Spectator 31/08/08. Beautiful. If I only had had some Prosciutto I wouldn’t have left that table. Agent: Wine Quest.
Flying Kiwi, Sauvignon Blanc 2008. Marlborough, NZ. $15.95. A good effort to bring famed NZ Sauv Blanc with good quality at a lower price. Agent: Peacock & Martin.
Gerarado Fiorile Pinot Grigio 2008. Cesari Veneto, Italy. $17.99. Delicate floral nose, good acidity will make this a serious competitor in the under $20 PG class. Agent: Peacock & Martin.
Domaine de Grachie. 2008 Cote de Gascogne Blanc. France. $11.99 Spec. At this price this funky-nosed, mineral Sauvignon Blanc based wine should fly off the shelves. Agent: Liberty Merchant Company.
To be continued….