14 Apr 2014

Wine Tasting Event With Howard Soon Of Sandhill Wines

Osprey Ridge Vineyard for Sandhill Wines
Courtesy montecristomagazine.com
This past Friday we were fortunate enough to be invited to a wine tasting event at the Halifax Club for Sandhill Wines from British Columbia.  The event featured Howard Soon the Master Winemaker for Sandhill and what followed was an awesome display of great wines from the Okanagan Valley.

Howard gave us a really great run down of the vineyards they draw their grapes from and it was really interesting to see the variance of temperature, climate, and varieties being grown.  He was very generous with his time talking about the challenges of growing grapes like Sangiovese and Barbera in the Okanagan.  He showed us pictures of the cliffs at the base of the vineyard that hold in the heat to allow the Italian varieties to ripen.  Really interesting.

We tried a number of their wines, all listed locally, and found out that Sandhill has made a very thoughtful point of ensuring that their wines are the same price across this varied and enormous country.  So, a $17.99 Pinot Gris at the Winery is a $19.99 Pinot Gris at our local Liquor Store.  Now THAT takes forethought, budget planning, and good brand sense.  Kudos to Sandhill.
Sandhill Pinot Blanc

We started with the Pinto Gris which is a steely/flinty wine with a nice mix of fruit and acid.  We really liked it and it is a great drinker for upcoming patio season.  After that it was on to a partially barrel-aged Pinot Blanc ($17.99).  There was an absolutely perfect amount of oak on this wine.  If you know anything about us, you know that we aren't scared of oak on white wine.  This one is great.  A nice mouth feel and good balance are the highlights on this wine.

A standout for sure.

Up next was a Viognier ($24.99), which had all the nice things that Viognier provides like body and an almost creamy mouth feel.  If you like a good Chardonnay you will like this wine.  It is not exactly like French Viognier but still has all the good characteristics.

For the Reds, we started with the Sangiovese ($29.99) and yes it is Canadian Sangiovese and delicious at that.  Mama Mia!  Typically on the thin side it still packs a flavour wallop.  Great red fruit and structure were highlights along with a really nice nose that makes you think of it's Italian heritage.

Nice wine.

Immediately following that was a Barbera ($29.99).  That's right, another Italian variety and this one was had just as much punch on the palate.  However, this one was a bit more aromatically challenged with hardly any real notes coming out of the glass even after the bottle had been opened for a while.  It tasted great but without the extra oomph from a nice bouquet it falls a little flat.  After that, was the Sandhill Small Lots Three.  They make a Small Lot Blend called One, Two, and Three ($34.99) and the Three is their version of a Super Tuscan and the Sangiovese and Barbera being blended in the best way.  It is delicious and brings the best of both together.  We really liked it, though the Sangiovese on its own was our favorite red.  Finally, was a Syrah ($23.99) and that was a nice closer.  It bit more body and fruit were the hallmarks of the Syrah and it was a really nice tasting wine.

All in all it was an awesome event to learn more about the wealth of riches the Okanagan has when it comes to growing grapes and making wine.  We've had some great BC wines in the past (see Tinhorn Creek) and we have some in our racks we haven't tasted yet.  So more adventures to come.

Special thanks to Mark DeWolf of the Chronicle Herald for the invite and Adelle Lyon from Andrew Peller for hosting.

These are wines worth trying so if you can get them where you are do it.

Keep on tasting!

Chris & Shannon

25 Mar 2014

Cool Wine Video - Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz: Up, Up, & Away

We received this video from Alyssa Graham who is helping to promote Yalumba's Patchwork Shiraz.  We have previously had their 2009 Mawson's Hill Block 3 Wrattonbully Cabernet Sauvignon which we loved (review here).  We have also tried their Y Series Shiraz Viognier which we also recall as being a nice wine.  That said, this video combines our favorite topic with something we have always wanted to try but never have...Hot Air Ballooning.  It is a cool look at what a Hot Air Balloon ride over the Barossa Valley might look like and what it looks like is whole pile of awesome!  Someday we'll do it...someday.  It's a quick 2 minutes so give it a watch:

As always....Keep on Tasting!

Chris & Shannon

20 Mar 2014

Wine Review - 2011 Tblivino Rkatsiteli: Light And Crisp White From The Republic Of Georgia

Wine Review - 2011 Tblivino Rkatsiteli
We purchased this wine a while ago at a Cristall Wine Merchants where they were selling this and a Saperavi (Georgian Red) where we had previously done a quick Blog post about (see that here).  Coincidently, the Georgian Lelos beat the Oaks of Romania for placement in the 2015 Rugby World Cup yesterday as well.  Go Georgia and good luck against the All Blacks. :)

We were talking to a former staffer who gave us some insight on how these Georgian wines came to Nova Scotia and how expensive it was to get them here.  Having to have the wines shipped from Georgia to Germany then on to Canada.  That said, they retailed for less than $20 so it would be interesting to know the wholesale price.

The bottle is dark so we incorrectly assumed that would be a golden or amber wine.  In fact, this is a very light colour wine, it borders on clear with a little fizz in the bottom of the glass.  Really interesting look to the wine made even more surprising by lack of colour.  It is so watery that there are no legs in the glass and it more comes down in a sheet.

The overwhelming notes are peaches and lavender.  It is not a super complex wine from the bouquet side of things but Shannon thought it had a strong nose and I thought it was quite soft.  Neither one of us had a cold so it was a strange scenario.

The wine is off dry but is definitely on the dry side for sure of off dry for sure.  If you're from Nova Scotia you would understand that it tastes a little like Tidal Bay, our local appellation.  It is tart and crisp with a nice amount of minerality and apple and pear notes.  It's a bit like touching your tongue to battery but in a good way.  The wine lingers on the palate a good long time.  We paired it with spinach ravioli and lobster sauce which was great.

   Tasting Notes: Score:
Sight (0-5) Very light colour, almost clear that is thin and watery in the glass with a little fizz. 4.0
Smell (0-5) Peaches and lavender are the main scents on the wine which can be strong or soft depending on your nose. 4.25
Taste (0-10) Slightly off dry but tart with apple and pear notes and lots of minerality. 8.25
  Total: 16.5 / 20 (82.5%)

If you can find this wine or even this variety give it a try.  It is really fun to find these wines from around the globe.  Now we'll look for other Eastern European wines to try.  We've heard good things about Moldova and Croatia.  The adventure continues...

Keep on tasting!

Chris & Shannon