Posts Tagged ‘vancouver’

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.

Advertisements

Seafood + Wine = Perfect Pairing

July 25, 2010

Summer has arrived in Vancouver. Although the sun has not shown up as much as we would love it to, temperature is creeping up and with it comes the need for lighter, fresher meals to keep the heat at bay. And when it comes to light, cold dishes, nothing like seafood! Lucky for us, we live right on one of the cleanest maritime areas of the world and the quality and diversity of our fruits de mer is second to none. Seafood is still a bit of terra incognita for a large proportion of consumers and when it comes to choosing the best wines to pair with a fish or shellfish dish, the subject can be outright obscure. “White wine with seafood, red wine with meat” goes the old saying, and for the most part it is a solid guideline. Having been raised sea side in Lima, and having worked for my family’s ceviche restaurant, my diet relies heavily on seafood. After moving to Canada, and being a wine apasionado, I have had no alternative but to test and try wines and local seafood in my adoptive homeland, findings that I now share with Everything Wine blog readers.

First of all, and before the season is over, get your hands on some spot prawns, sustainably harvested off the coast of British Columbia. Garlic butter is one of the most popular sauces to accompany this beautifully tender, naturally sweet tasting crustacean. A classic match is a lush, full flavored Pinot Gris, like New Zealand’s Sileni (15.99), Argentina’s Lurton (13.99) or Hungary’s Dunavar, which, at 9.99 offers tremendous value. More adventurous seafood lovers may like to add some wasabi and soy sauce to their garlic butter, which results in a delicious mélange. The cooking temperature takes away some of the wasabi’s aggressive heat but keeps its flavors. In this case a wine with more weight on the palate is in order. Kettle Valley’s Pinot Gris (24.99) is a good call. Even better, try Alsace’s Hartenberger (23.99) or Pierre Sparr Reserve, which at 29.99 has a massive presence on the palate and abundant, flavor-packed fruit that stands up to the spot prawn challenge.
 

Oysters deserve a post of their own. The mind boggling diversity and their aptitude to reflect the “sea-rroir” make the bivalves analogous to wine. East and West coasters taste different, and within the West Coast, they will have different taste and texture depending on whether they come from farms in Washington, Oregon or British Columbia. Keep in mind that in the case of oysters, farmed is better than wild for a number of reasons that would take too long to discuss here. Suffice to say that environmentally farmed oysters take the pressure off natural stocks, besides the fact that they are fed only clean ocean water and nothing else, no vitamins, hormones, antibiotics or dyes. Although Chablis (the real thing, from France, not the spurious sweet plonk made in California) is the classic match, we will look here at the best pairing for West Coast slimes: Sauvignon Blanc. Effingham oysters have a distinct savory taste, which calls for a wine that reflects that character. Wither Hills Rarangi, from Marlborough (26.99) comes immediately to mind. For the budget minded, Southern France’s Tariquet (15.99) will rise up to the job. Kumamotos and Kusshis have a sweeter, fruitier profile. Riper fruit is what you should look for in your Sauv Blanc. Napa Valley’s St Supery (37.99) is an excellent choice. A bit pricey, point taken, but then you are slurping the aristocracy of mollusks. Not convinced? Go for Argentina’s Mapema (20.99) or Paula (16.99). If you are rooting for Chile and not Argentina in the World Cup and don’t want to buy a Tango wine, then grab Casas del Bosque (17.99), a delicious Sauvignon of high fruit profile and persistent acidity.

Dungeness crab is another critter that British Columbians love to have on their table. The white, firm meat is packed in both legs and body. It is so tasty that for the most part all you need to do is cook it in boiling water (crustaceans have well developed nervous systems so please put them to “sleep” in the freezer for 20 or 25 minutes before you scald them). Dungeness, like King Crab, has a distinct touch of sweetness sparkling over the rich flavor and texture. Find a wine of analogous fat character, like a good Chardonnay. Los Alamos (14.99), Liberty School (23.99) or Oyster Bay (19.99) will do the job. For those who don’t mind a touch of sweetness in their wine, the Madrone (which is blended with 8% Muscat) should be the perfect match at 18.99.

Before closing this note, how can you write about West Coast seafood without mentioning the king of our waters, the mighty salmon? Here is when you can bend the white-for-fish-red-for-meat rule. Barbequed or poached salmon will be enriched by a fleshy Chardonnay but it has enough flavor to stand up to lighter reds. First in line, C’est la Vie, an idiosyncratic Southern French blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah is a great candidate at 16.99. A soft Pinot Noir, like the Tabali Reserva (29.99) or the Coldstream Hills (33.99) are also great picks. For the budget minded, the J.P. Chenet Limited Release (1.99) or the Morande Pionero (15.99) are the ones to look for. Look for troll caught salmon, as it is the tastiest and the fishing method is environmentally responsible.

 Grenache (aka Garnacha) is another red that enhances strong flavored fish. Seared Albacore tuna, which is harvested sustainably in British Columbia (barbless hooks minimize bycatch of other species) pairs wonderfully with a light Grenache like Vive La Revolution or Spain’s No Time Garnacha (both at 15.99). Not into light reds? No worries. You would still have a good pairing with something like the Wallace Shiraz Grenache (29.99).

Seafood and wine pairings are a bit tricky but when you find the right match, they are so terroir oriented that the synergy is rarely found in other pairings. And when you go seafood shopping, don’t forget to look for sustainable harvested fish and shellfish. That is the only way to keep the bounty of our oceans healthy and available for us and for future generations.

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

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.

Argentina Wine Regions: San Juan

April 17, 2010

The forbidding landscape of San Juan, to the North and East of Mendoza, is home to wines of ever improving quality. Its valleys have names that seem to echo the towering Andes mountains in which they are nested. Tulum, Zonda, Calingasta, Pedernal, are locations that are becoming synonymous with excellent wine. This is high mountain country: Altitudes go from 650 meters at Tulum all the way to 1,400 meters in the Calingasta Valley. Fierce winds can sometimes cause trouble in the vineyards, preventing fruit set.   Syrah is the black grape that seems to benefit the most from the region’s scorching heat, high altitude solar radiation and mercilessly infertile soils. San Juan Syrah presents a dark robe, an aggressive, aromatic –floral- nose and fleshy, robust body. Malbec, Bonarda, Tannat and Chardonnay also thrive in these conditions, rendering delicious wines of distinctive character.

With its cool nights, wide thermal amplitude and pristine irrigation waters from ice capped peaks, San Juan is poised to become Argentina’s next wine darling.

In Vancouver, the offer of wines from San Juan is still very narrow. The few we have, more than satisfy.

Las Moras. I have reviewed this impressive line of products in a previous post. Terrific quality for the money. $16-25

Xumek. Both the Malbec Syrah ($40) blend and the straight Syrah ($26) are both available in Vancouver and are both solid, powerful wines. The Xumek Malbec ($21.99) is available at LDB Liquor Stores. Check out the previous post “how to find your wines in BC”

Don Domenico. This award winning winery offers excellent Syrah (16-22), Bonarda ($32), Cabernet Franc ($22) and Tempranillo ($32). These products come from sustainably managed vineyards.

ps. Photo: Wines of Argentina

Jump to Argentina Wines Regions I

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…

Salud!

White Wine, Good Value and the Butterfly Effect

April 7, 2010

Not talking here of the white, fine hail that whipped me on my bike last evening, in Burnaby Heights, my hood. I want to feature a few whites that you should taste. Whites are ever more relevant in the market. I figure that, after a long time being sidelined by consumers, now that they are accepted by mainstream critics and writers, they start to shine. The more open you are  to enjoying something, the more you will enjoy it. Until last year I heard constantly “no, I don’t drink white” or “white wine gives me headaches” or even worse “they have lots of sulphites.” And lots of people still resist white wine; but a lot more are starting to appreciate it for what it is and for it can give to you. No red can exhibit the levels of refreshing acidity a good white can. And with good acidity, flavors are highlighted, focused, sharpened, delimited, underscored. Not to mention aromas. A red offering floral whiffs is like a few flowers, perhaps a bunch. A good aromatic white is like sniffing in the whole garden.

From the top.

Casas del Bosque 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. $17.99. Are you kidding me? 18 bucks for this Chilean gold medallist (Concourse Mondial du Bruxelles 08)? Geologists love minerals and critics love citrics and this one has both plus plenty of alluring fruit.

Jackson Estate 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. You enjoy Sauv Blanc from New Zealand? This is the one you should pick. 20 dollars of pungent grass and persistent tropical, guava flavors that surf down your palate on a wave of shiny acidity. No wonder why the empty spots on the shelves.

Domaine de Grachies 2009. This blend from Cotes de Gascogne will turn heads –and open wallets- at 11.99. Colombard, Ugni Blanc, Gros Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc join forces to render an impressive table white.

The Hermit Crab 2008 by D’Arenberg. $21.99. Oh yummy Viognier/Marsanne blend. Fleshy and refreshing, with solid pear fruit.

Fish Hoek Sauvignon Blanc. $10.49. When looking for a budget white, look at this cheapie. Tropical and limey, with vibrant acidity and  slight background “Southafrican” aromas. Another reason? Great label! Click on pic.

Two in the Bush 2008 Chardonnay. $20.95. Chardonnay lovers, rejoice. A basket of fruit led by ripe banana. Smooth, creamy and nicely oaked.

Claar Cellars Riesling. $22.99. A Southafrican sounding name for this Columbia Valley Riesling with checks in all the right boxes. Bright acidity, check. Lip smacking citrus, check. Sweet tropical fruit, check.

Go white. Have you heard of the Butterfly Effect? It works, its true. If all of us drink more white, the sun will show up more often. Serious.

Spain: Mambo Number Five. Numero Cinco

April 3, 2010

Los Trenzones, Condesa de Leganza vineyards in La Mancha

Spain is probably the source of some of the best value you can get these days. Here some quick notes on cinco vinos de puta madre, like they say in the land of Don Quixote, Tapas and ever-choking-at-World-Cup national teams.

Legaris Crianza Ribera del Duero 2003 $30. After drinkingTempranillos from Toro for the last few months, I really enjoyed the switch over to Ribera del Duero. Elegant, satisfying fruit in a medium frame supported by lovely tannins. Good stuff. Paella, roast chicken with rosemary? No brainer. Pick it up.

Dehesa Gago, Toro 2007 $20. Telmo Rodríguez is perhaps the top winemaker in the Toro region. This Tempranillo loads up all the rustic power and concentration typical of the appellation plus unoaked fruit freshness. Solid.

Faustino V Reserva 2004 $25. 92% Tempranillo + 8% Mazuelo make this a real head turner. Intoxicating nose with toasty woody notes and a velvety mouthfeel of stewed fruit. Ok. Enough vino bul@#$^&&. Yummy.

Fortius Tempranillo 2006 $14. Look for this Tempranillo all over Vancouver, and when you find it, snatch a couple (cases). Possibly best value Tempranillo in town. Peppery, fruity acidity and weight make it a great choice.

Condesa de Leganza, Crianza 2004, Reserva 1998. Lines above I said “possibly best value Tempranillo” because it is hard to compete against this pair. From La Mancha, the Crianza* 2004 is remarkable, with elegant wood giving off cinnamon, coconut, preceding the medium bodied palate. 18 dollars? Amazing for the price.

The bigger sibling of the Crianza is the Reserva 1998. Yes, 1998. That is -let’s count- uno, dos y tres, cuatro, cinco, cinco y seis….12 years since release.

You better stick to winecouver. Which other blog educates you on wine and throws some Spanish lessons to top it off? 22 dollars is a bargain for this Reserva, gold medallist of the Concours Mondial Bruxelles 2009 (whatever that means but sounds important enough *~*) I Drank it with a friend and found all kinds of aromas on the nose. Bootylicious with persistent fruit finish.

Ok, now go grab some …y Ole!!

Condesa de Leganza bodega -winery- in Spain.

* I get asked all the time (it must be my Spanish accent -or my good looks) if Crianza is an appellation or a grape. It is neither. You will see both terms, Crianza and Reserva on lots of Spanish labels. You will also come across Vino Joven (young wine) or Sin Crianza. These last two mean no ageing in oak. Crianza red wines are aged for 2 years with at least 6 months in oak. Reserva red wines are aged for at least 3 years with at least 1 year in oak. These laws change for whites and roses.

Of Chablis, Oyster Cebiche, Ocean Floor and Sensorial Glory

April 2, 2010

“I prefer the 2007 Chablis wines to the 08’s. They are more classic, with acidic minerality. 2008, which some favor, shows more fruit. But what makes Chablis different is the electric acidity, unlike that of any other white wine in the world”. I heard those words last night, tasting a flight of Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis wines. Today, enjoying a sip of the 2007  Montmains Premier Cru next to a Royal Miyagi oyster cebiche, I fully understand their meaning. Frederic Brouca, Brocard’s Manager Sommelier for North America, planted the idea in my head, when he saw my card. More precisely, when he heard my accent. “Where is that accent from” asked Frederic, with an accent. “Peruvian. Ok. Taste this. Would this pair well with cebiche?”. As it turned out, Frederic knows his Peruvian cebiche as well as his white wines. I tried to imagine the combination, sipping the Montmains. That intense minerality, like the memory of the soil itself, has connotations of marine scents. Which is not strange at all, given that what makes Chablis’ terroir unique is the presence of billions of marine fossils in the Kimmeridgian subsoil where the vineyards thrive. The acidity exacerbates those “memories” on my palate, tingling with very subtle fruit and a brushstroke of salinity. The finish is long like time itself, memories of ocean floors that have been, of floods, of previous episodes of earth warming. That is what the wine transmits, the vine only acting as a way for the earth expressing itself. “Oysters” I think. “Oyster cebiche.” I have a plan in my mind.

Besides the extremely lean and mean Montmains, Frederic poured a glass of the Boissonneuse, a Chablis of lesser appellation that is yeasty, richer. The lees are stirred on this one, which has also the hallmark acidity but allows the fruit to show more, in a nice balance. A good wine to discover the beauty of Chablis at an affordable price ($36-40). Next in the flight, the Grand Cru Le Clos shines on the nose, a breeze of green apple crushed in a stone mortar. The palate is equally delicious, and had not Frederic told me that this wine spends some time in very old oak vats, I may have not noticed the almost imperceptible trace of wood. Sfumato is the word that comes to mind. The acidity and marine minerality, impeccable. Magnifico. This wine is available in Vancouver in the 80-90 dollar range.

After saying goodbye to Frederic, I walk home with a demi-bouteille of the Motnmains ($25-28), already thinking of the half dozen Royal Miyagis waiting at home. I also think “damn, I wish I could speak French.” Somehow, talking to Frederic about wine, I felt the need for expressing myself in the language of romantic, culinary and enological endeavors. How can you speak in English of la finesse et la mineralite without sounding hopelessly clunky?

THE RECIPE

Enough of that; to the Cebiche. Shucked the oysters with a New Haven style oyster knife, the only kind that really works. Saved every bit of the liquid, the oyster’s “blood.” I used very little hot pepper, a quarter of a red Thai. I could have used even less, as any excess in the heat will negate the subtleties of the wine. Squeezed half a lime, perhaps a bit more. A few flat (Italian) parsley leaves, chopped very fine. Half a shallot, again, sliced very fine and rinsed in cold water. I waited not; oysters are at their best raw. The cebiche was stupendous. Would the pairing work?

I held the glass of Montmains near my mouth. My nose was aflame with the vapors from the lime, the Thai pepper, the oysters: The sea itself. Like a river that meets the ocean, those aromas blended with the ones coming from the glass. The intense acidity of the wine equaled that of the cebiche, the traces of marine minerality from the Chablis encountered their match in the flavor of the oysters still reverberating on my palate. I thanked God for making Chablis possible.

A bientot.

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