Thursday, October 18, 2018

Another random catch-up entry features a little bit from BC, a little bit from here, a little bit from there, a little bit from everywhere.....

We have really been enjoying some great stuff over the past few months, as evidenced by the scores on these wines. Ten wines reviewed below, and 9 of them scored 91 or higher. First, we might as well start with the only one that didn't....

Next up, four beauties from right here in BC!

Viva Italia!! Literally have no clue where this came from or how long I've had it. But I liked it!

And, from our friends down South!

There you have it, a little bit of everything! Reminds me I should go online and get another one of those Calera Pinots. Delicious!

Next up: Still more random stuff to report on, still have to get to Ex Nihilo, still have so much wine to drink and write about! Oh, the horror. :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Not-so-random blog update focusing on just one winery - our first love - Quails' Gate!!!

Going through my notes recently and noticed an alarming trend; we drink a ton of Quails' Gate wine, but I often overlook writing about it. I think I often assume I have already reviewed them, and I am generally wrong.

Time to fix that, at least partially. Reviews of 8 random Quails' Gates wines, some new, some aged, that we have enjoyed in the past couple of months.

Quails' Gate was our first Wine Club, and their annual party at their gorgeous multi-million dollar Lake House is a "can't-miss" event for those of us in the Barrel Club, which is the highest of their two wine club tiers. I'd recommend you all join it, but I believe they have reached capacity (or if not, they will very soon).

These guys don't make a bad wine, and one of the great perks of the Barrel Club is that a large portion of the wine we get is already Library wine, meaning we have already aged wine to drink right away while cellaring the rest of it. It's a great club, a great winery, and great people. Cannot say enough good things about them!

Up next: More random stuff to get to, plus the next stop on our Okanagan trip, Ex Nihilo!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Okanagan Trip report continues in Lake Country at Arrowleaf!

We tend to get to Lake Country every couple of years, and we will generally try to hit all the wineries in the area in a day. If, for some reason, we can't get to them all, Arrowleaf is one we generally skip. In the past, we have found that the quality of the wine has never made this a "must-do", although that's not to say the wine is lousy; far from it, it has always been perfectly pleasant. While we rarely have encountered a bad wine here, we've also rarely encountered anything so spectacular that we just can't miss out.

Our last visit here was in 2015. They opened up a gorgeous new tasting room and a little kitchen/bistro/bakery that serves small plates to pair with the wines. You can sit out on their patio and soak in the spectacular view while enjoying a glass or bottle from their portfolio. After our tasting, we did that as we had a bit of time before our next appointment. We had them pour us a couple glasses of Pinot Gris and headed out to the beautiful terrace to enjoy some scenery. Unfortunately for us, someone forgot to tell the weatherman that it is THE MIDDLE OF AUGUST IN THE OKANAGAN!! As if the smoke from the fires wasn't enough, it was windy, it was cold, and it was RAINING!

The author's lovely wife, who really did comb her hair this morning. That is how windy it was.
I didn't think it was allowed to be this cold in the Okanagan in the middle of Summer. Disapproved.

Anyway, on to our tasting! One thing I do remember about this winery, we have always been treated very well by the staff, and today was no exception. Our guide, Janet, was an absolute delight.

As usual, not a bad wine in the bunch. I would suggest that, although there are still not any wines that absolutely knocked us over (although the Riesling has a chance), the quality has improved since our last visit, and we will be back next time we are up in this neck of the woods.

Next up: I think it's time for another random update of some great stuff we've been drinking, still gotta find all my notes on the wine we enjoyed in Disneyland, and the Okanagan trip continues at Ex Nihilo!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The latest country for our food and wine theme nights isn't actually a country at's "OTHER" night!

What exactly does "OTHER NIGHT" mean? Well, if you've been following along over the past couple years, you will know that we've been taking a country and having an entire night of food and wine from that country. Most of the nights have been rousing successes. But what about all those poor countries that make wine and food, but didn't get represented with their own night? Well, this night was all about them.

In all cases, the countries produce a lot of wine, but it's tough to source enough of it here to have an entire night dedicated to them. So let's see what all the fuss is about! Links to all the recipes can be found by clicking on the recipe name.

I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting much here. A lot of these countries feature traditional dishes that I'm not crazy about, and wine is always a crapshoot when you don't have much to choose from. Even though this evening was being hosted by our dear friends, who know their way around a kitchen, I expected that this lineup of dishes was going to pose a challenge. Let's see if I was right or pleasantly surprised.

Oh, and there was supposed to be another couple enjoying the evening with us, but they bailed out because of the lame excuse of childbirth. I kid you not, she was literally having the baby at the time that they were supposed to be attending this event. Some people will use any excuse to get out of things, won't they??

Course 1


Full disclosure: I despise chick peas. So.....not much chance I am going to love this dish made almost entirely from chick peas. My wife, however, who loves chick peas, loved this dish, and said it paired well with the wine.

Course 2


Spiced Pea & Courgette Fritters with Minty Yogurt Dip

These were really tasty, and the minty yogurt dip gave them a beautiful tang. Liked these quite a bit.

Course 3


Turkish Style Kebab with Turkish Style Rice Pilaf with Orzo

The chicken was very juicy and tasty, but the Rice Pilaf was the absolute star of this dish. Seriously, I could have just eaten nothing but that rice all night long and been totally satisfied. It was phenomenal. The wine was one we had tasted (and bought) at last year's VIWF.

Course 4


Potato and Poblano Taquitos

Yum yum yum yum yum. These were just as tasty as the name implied. Served on fresh, homemade tortillas. Delish. As for the wine, our friends go to Mexico just about every year and picked this bottle up. Not traditional wine and very sweet, but it was an interesting adventure to taste it.

We also tried this wine with this course; another sweet red, although not nearly as sweet as the one from Mexico.


Course 5

Republic of Moldova

Hands up, who out there has to look up where Moldova is on a map? Just for the record, most of you who don't have your hands up are liars.

Kind of a Romanian-style Cabbage Roll, frequently enjoyed in Moldova. Some of the best cabbage rolls I have ever tasted. Scrumtrulescent. Thankfully, they didn't need wine, because this one was undrinkable.

Course 6


One dish to pair with a Greek White, one to pair with a Greek Red. 


Another fabulous dish. I tell you, with the exception of the chick peas, our friends outdid themselves on the menu tonight. If only the wine had been able to stand up to the quality of the food!!

Course 7


Apple Cake Almas Pite

This was also delicious, but I admit I was getting too full to properly enjoy it by this point. The wine was another one we had tasted and picked up at last year's VIWF.

So there you have it, our "theme nights" have come to an end.....until we start over!! We have also discussed having a "best of the best" night where we take our favorite dishes from all the theme nights and try pairing them with different wine. After that, we will start again, with the proviso that whomever hosted each individual country last time cannot host them again. It will be like starting from scratch!

I was pleasantly surprised at how much of the food from these countries I really enjoyed! As for the wine, well, except for the red from Greece that was faulty, it was basically about what I expected. Having said, that, I'll certainly never regret trying new things.

Next up for the blog, still have a lot of wine from Disneyland to report on, plus another huge random catch up entry, and the Okanagan trip continues at Arrowleaf. Stay tuned, true believers!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Okanagan Trip Report, Part Trois, and the Monks wouldn't be Gray if they ate here.....

Grapevine Restaurant at Gray Monk is a "must-do". Seriously, we have never had a bad meal here, and the scenery is fantastic.

Well, it's USUALLY fantastic; today there is a huge, billowing cloud of smoke that is impeding our Zen. I guess we can't blame them for the forest fires.

At lunch we enjoyed this:

After our terrific lunch, up to the very crowded tasting room to see what they had to offer. We have been here many times, and our opinion is generally pretty consistent: Sweet whites are delicious, dry whites are OK, reds are pretty average. Let's see if that holds true on this visit.


So there you have it: we found a new favorite in the Ehrenfelser and all of their off-dry to sweet whites are excellent as always. Their Kerner, which we didn't taste here, is fantastic every single year. They also have an always-decent Gewurztraminer and a Siegerrebe, a German grape you almost never see outside of Deutschland.

As for the reds, they are too far North to grow great red grapes, but that doesn't mean they can't source great fruit from elsewhere. Ironically the Pinot Noir, the one that needs the least heat, always seems to be pretty average.

We are always treated well here, and we love the restaurant, so we will never come to Lake Country and miss these guys. As they were one of the wineries that was purchased by Peller last year, we will see if the infusion of capital helps them source higher-quality red fruit. Time will tell.

Up next: a short break from the Okanagan trip to report on our latest "theme night". The country this time? "Other". What does that mean? You'll just have to read the report to find out!

When we get back to the Okanagan trip, it will continue in Lake Country, just down the road at Arrowleaf!