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Archive for the ‘Wine Series’ Category

This year, Vancouver International Wine Festival features the wine region of California. It’s impressive that the state of California alone can be the featured region. Why? California produces more than 81% of all U.S. wines – and if California were a country, it would be the fourth leading wine-producing nation in the world, only behind France, Italy and Spain. There are close to 560,000 acres of vineyards in California, with more than 65,000 registered California wine labels.

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Similar to last year, instead of aimlessly drinking my way around the big tasting room, I focused on one type of wine. Since I’m not a huge chardonnay drinker, and I like Zinfandel in general, I picked out the California Zinfandel to taste.

 

California Zinfandel

One of the bolder varietals, Zinfandel teases our palate in a wide range of notes, from raspberry to black pepper, to cloves and licorice. Being one of the oldest and most revered vines, Zinfandel is a signature grape in California.

Although it’s the same grape, depending on the region, the flavourful profile of Zinfandel can be very different. Some may be more jammy, more fruit-forward, while others bring out the pepper, anise and clove note.

Here is a list of Zinfandel I’ve tried at the tasting room. My favourites are the ones highlighted in orange. Overall, I gravitated towards the ones that were more fruit-forward, jammy and round in body. And 2016 seems to be a good year for me. Some was a bit harsh for my liking; perhaps some more aging would make it smoother.

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Even though the theme region for this year’s Vancouver International Wine Festival was California, there were many events featuring other wine-making countries/regions. Lucky for me I was able to attend the Gusto Latinoamericano wine lunch at Lift Bar Grill View. As you may have guessed already, this wine lunch highlighted wines from Argentina and Chile.

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Event guests were treated to a 3-course lunch here, along with wine pairing. But before that, there was the amuse Argentinean Prawn with Chimichurri. The prawn was sweet and plump, and the chimichurri brought bright acidity. It was paired with the Domaine Bousquet Organic Brut NV — a dry, crisp, easy-drinking bubbly with 25% pinot noir and 75% chardonnay.

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For our appetizer, it was a Chilled Seafood Salad, with a mix of wine braised octopus, mussels, clams and squid, along with some chorizo chips and warm garlic bread. (more…)

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What is it like to be driven around in a 1952 Vintage Mercury Pickup? An experience only found at Covert Farm! It’s an 1.5-hour tour on the 650-acre farm, and let me tell you all about it.

Covert Farms Family Estate Farm Tour

Covert Farms Family Estate Farm Tour

The Pickup

As soon as Mr. and I arrived at the farmhouse and signed in, we were ushered towards the vintage truck. It’s in a bright red colour and you couldn’t miss it. (more…)

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It was two years ago during our visit of Evolve Cellars, we learned from Christa-Lee that her family winery business ENCORE Vineyards had acquired the PenMar Theatre in Penticton and was converting the space into a winery. Now, we just got a sneak preview of the soon-to-open TIME Winery & Kitchen.

Time Winery & Kitchen, Penticton

At the time this was written, the winery was just one inspection away from getting the permit needed to open its door to the public. So during our visit, the staff was still putting on some finishing touches.

Time Winery & Kitchen, Penticton

Time Winery & Kitchen, Penticton

The PenMar Theatre was a four-auditorium theatre, originally built in the 50s with just one auditorium. Harry McWatters, CEO of ENCORE, has some fond memories of the theatre. He pointed to a corner of the now winery, and told us that’s where he sat on a date decades ago, as a boy, when the movie and popcorn was just 25¢.

Harry McWatters, Time Winery & Kitchen

The reconfiguration from movie theatre to winery took longer than expected.

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This year, Vancouver International Wine Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary with feature countries Spain and Portugal. Just like previous years, I drank my way through the big tasting room. But this year my focus was on the Ports.

2018 Vancouver International Wine Festival

What is Port Wine?

Port Wine (“Vinho do Porto” in Portuguese) is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in Portugal. It is a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine. Although you may find fortified wines outside Portugal (e.g. Vista D’oro makes an awesome walnut port-style wine), only the product from Portugal may be labelled as Port or Porto.

Through the tasting and in talking with the wine reps, I’ve learned about the different styles of port:

Ruby Port is the most extensively produced type. It’s usually stored in stainless steel tanks to prevent oxidation and preserve its bright red colour and full-bodied fruitiness.

Tawny Ports are aged in wooden barrels, exposing them to gradual oxidation and evaporation. They turn into a golden-brown colour and the oxidation gives the wine nutty, caramel, and/or prune, raisin notes. If there isn’t any indication of age, it’s just a generalization that the wine has spent time in wooden barrels.

Late Bottled Vintage (often referred to simply as LBV) is typically bottled between four and six years after the vintage, with similar quality like a Vintage Port. If the LBV is filtered, it’s not meant to be aged.

Vintage Port is made entirely from grapes of the same vintage year. They may be aged in barrels for 2-3 years before bottling. You can drink it right away but it’s meant to be cellared for decades as it improves with age.

Here is what I tried:

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While we were in the Okanagan, of course Hester Creek wasn’t the only winery we visited. On this trip, we ventured out to Summerland, specifically the Bottleneck Drive area, and we discovered Evolve Cellars.

Evolve Cellars was open in 2015 and above the tasting room is e, its dining room. Simple decor – white wall, white table cloth, with big window panes overlooking a gorgeous view of its vineyard and Lake Okanagan. Bryan, Kathryn, Mr. and I made a lunch reservation prior to getting there, and we’re patting our back for making a good choice.

View of Evolve Cellars

Food

e’s lunch menu is quite interesting. I like that they incorporate their wine into many of the dishes. We shared a few appies, including the Seared Scallops. There was nice caramelization on one side of the scallops, the scallops were cooked to the right temperature, tender and sweet. The roasted corn salsa gave it some smokey flavours and crunch. For us, they were served on a spoon and it made a perfect bite (Mr. really liked it, because he always wants “a bit of everything in each bite”).

Seared Scallops

The Bruschetta was probably my least favourite appetizer. Don’t get me wrong, it was quite good.

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For the Canada Day long weekend, Mr. and I went to the Okanagan with Bryan and Kathryn. Last year, we received a certificate for a two-night stay at The Villa at Hester Creek Estate Winery, so we took the opportunity to spoil ourselves on this getaway.

Terrafina Restaurant

During our stay, Mr. and I also had dinner at the Terrafina Restaurant at Hester Creek.

Terrafina RestaurantTerrafina Restaurant

To start, we shared the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio. There was so much on the plate you can barely see the thinly sliced wagyu beef. The flavour combination was quite typical — capers, parmesan, arugula, aioli — what came as a pleasant surprise was the little sprouts sprinkled on top. They gave a slight crunch, an earthy note, which brought a new dimension of flavour.

Wagyu Beef Carpaccio

Mr. ordered the Ricotta & Confit Duck Pizza. It’s, interesting.

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