Sunday, March 8, 2015

Wine Fest - the rest of the world!!

Part two of my reviews and thoughts on tasting at the Acura Tasting Room at last weekend's Vancouver International Wine Festival. Lots of the usual suspects there of course; I tried to avoid the Okanagan wineries that I can taste anytime, but tried some new wines and a couple of new wineries. Also got to taste my first ever wines from Croatia! In fact this was the first year that a Croatian winery came to the VIWF. Very exciting to see some less-traditional wine markets showing up.

Here we go! As with the first update, the region is listed in RED.



Domaine Bousquet 2011 Grand Reserve Malbec Organic - 85


Okanagan Valley

Cassini Cellars 2011 The Godfather - 88
Cassini Cellars 2011 Grand Reserve Syrah - 87

Cedarcreek 2012 Platinum Meritage ($44.95)

Give them credit; if Cedarcreek doesn't feel the grapes are of sufficient quality to make Platinum-level wines, they just don't produce them. We haven't seen this one since 2009. It is back with a vengeance. Notes of cherry and cigar box, with loads of blackberry up front on the palate and a long finish. Very drinkable now but would definitely improve with some careful cellaring. We didn't actually buy any of these at the WineFest as we knew we had three of them on the way as we are members of their wine club. Going to put two of them away for a while. 90.

Culmina Family Estate 2011 Hypothesis - 90
Culmina Family Estate 2012 Hypothesis - 90

Inniskillin Okanagan Estate 2011 Discovery Series Zinfandel - 84
Inniskillin Okanagan Estate 2011 Dark Horse Vineyard Meritage - 86
Inniskillin Okanagan Estate 2013 Vidal Icewine - 91

Next up is La Frenz, a non-VQA winery that we were quite unfamiliar with. That changed quickly.

La Frenz 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir - 88
La Frenz 2012 Reserve Chardonnay - 88
La Frenz 2013 Sauvignon Blanc - 88
La Frenz 2013 Alexandria - 88

We tried to purchase a couple of these but by the time we got to the store they were long gone. Even the tags had been pulled from the shelf, one of the clerks said they had been sold out since the Friday night tasting.

Now, Osoyoos Larose. This was one of the more interesting experiences, as they were tasting both the 2009 and 2010 version of their flagship Bordeaux blend, "Le Grand Vin". I own a 2009 and am cellaring it, but was anxious to taste it. Interestingly, the winemaker suggested that, in time, he thought the version from the poor 2010 version would actually surpass the version from the brilliant 2009 version! It seems almost ridiculous to me, but he should know :-)

My early verdict is that the 2009 is much better now, but I bought a 2010 as well and I'll cellar them both for a while and we'll see!

Osoyoos Larose 2011 Petales d'Osoyoos - 86

Osoyoos Larose 2009 Le Grand Vin ($45)

The blend: 58% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec
Very dark and concentrated. Blueberries and a touch of herb on the nose. Plums and currants join in on the palate. Tannins are still firm, suggesting this still has a lot of improvement ahead of it. It's already very good, and if you are particularly impatient, decant for an hour or so to smooth it out. 91.

Osoyoos Larose 2010 Le Grand Vin ($45)

The blend: 67% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Malbec.
Berries, cassis and vanilla on the nose. Cherry and blackberry on the palate. Quite drinkable now but will much improve with time. Will it improve to be as good or better than the '09? Only time will tell. 88.

Poplar Grove 2011 Reserve Chardonnay - 88
Poplar Grove 2009 The Legacy - 90

Quails' Gate 2013 Pinot Noir - 90
Quails' Gate 2013 Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir - 92

See Ya Later Ranch 2012 Rover - 85
See Ya Later Ranch 2012 Ping - 87

Time Estate Winery 2012 Syrah - 89
Time Estate Winery 2012 Meritage (Red) - 87

And my first ever taste of a winery from Vancouver Island! It was the only one there, and I probably should have given them a chance to taste their whites, which is their strength, but alas, I only got to taste their one red.

Vancouver Island

Unsworth Vineyards 2012 Pinot Noir - 85


Elqui Valley

Vina Falernia 2010 Reserva Syrah - 85
Vina Falernia 2010 Reserva Pinot Noir - 85
Vina Falernia 2010 Number One - 88
Vina Falernia 2011 Reserva Carmenere - 89

We tried to buy a Carmenere but again, sold out.

Colchagua Valley

Vina Ventisquero 2012 Root:1 Cabernet Sauvignon - 86
Vina Ventisquero 2013 Root: 1 Sauvignon Blanc - 88  ***
Vina Ventisquero 2012 Grey Carmenere - 88
Vina Ventisquero 2011 Carmenere Syrah - 88
Great value on all of these wines, and the Sauvignon Blanc was the steal of the entire show at only $11.98. Once again, by the time we got to the store, all gone.



Stina 2010 Plavac Mali Majstor - 86
Stina 2010 Plavac Mali Barrique - 85



Chateau De Caraguilhes 2013 Domaine de L'Olivette Rouge VDP - 83
Chateau De Caraguilhes 2012 Corbieres Classique - 87
Chateau De Caraguilhes 2012 Corbieres Solus - 87
Perhaps not surprisingly, last year's feature country didn't send much of a delegation this year, with just Seven wineries represented.



Weingut St. Urbans-HOF 2013 Urban Riesling Nik. Weis Selection - 88
Weingut St. Urbans-HOF 2012 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett - 90
Weingut St. Urbans-HOF 2011 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Spatlese - 89
Weingut St. Urbans-HOF 2013 Riesling Old Vines - 88
A winery we are quite familiar with as at least a couple of these are easily available in Vancouver, and the Kabinett is a favorite. We have a 2010 in our cellar, due to come out and be enjoyed in the next year or so.

New Zealand


Kim Crawford 2012 Small Parcels Rise and Shine Pinot Noir ($24.50)
Cherries and spices on the nose. The palate reflects the nose with some cinnamon mingling in the background. Just a tiny hint of leather. An excellent value at this price. 90.
Mud House Wines 2014 Haymaker Sauvignon Blanc - 84
Mud House Wines 2014 Woolshed Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc - 86
Sacred Hill Vineyards 2013 Orange Label Sauvignon Blanc - 86
Sacred Hill Vineyards 2014 Whitecliff Sauvignon Blanc - 84

South Africa


Fairview Wines Spice Route Chenin Blanc - 85
Fairview Wines Nurok - 88
Glen Carlou 2013 Unwooded Chardonnay - 85
Glen Carlou 2013 Quartz Stone Chardonnay - 88

United States

California, Central Coast

Terravant Winery 2012 Edna Valley Pinot Noir - 86
Terravant Winery 2012 Insomnia Red Blend - 84
Terravant Winery 2012 Compilatoin Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills - 86
Terravant Winery 2012 Scratch Pad Pinot Noir Edna Valley - 85

California, Columbia Valley

Charles Smith Wines - 2013 Kung Fu Girl Riesling - 86

Columbia Crest 2013 H3 Horse Heaven Hills Chardonnay - 88

California, Livermore Valley

Wente Vineyards 2013 Morning Fog Chardonnay - 86
Wente Vineyards 2012 Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon - 87
Wente Vineyards 2012 Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon - 87
Wente Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir - 86

California, Napa Valley

Beaulieu Vineyards 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - 85
Beaulieu Vineyards 2010 Beaurough Red Blend - 86
Beaulieu Vineyards 2012 Coastal Estates Cabernet Sauvignon - 85
Beaulieu Vineyards 2012 Coastal Estates Sauvignon Blanc - 86
Delicato Family Vineyards 2012 Irony Chardonnay - 86
Kendall-Jackson 2012 Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - 87
Pine Ridge 2011 Forefront Cabernet Sauvignon - 86

Pine Ridge 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($69.99)

Red and black fruits on the nose and palate. The slightest note of cinnamon joins in. Finishes very long with velvety tannins. Should continue to improve with careful cellaring for a decade or more. 90.

Plume Winery 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon - 88
Plume Winery 2012 Chardonnay - 88

Signorello Estate Winery 2013 Seta - 89
Signorello Estate Winery 2012 Vielle Vignes Chardonnay - 85
Signorello Estate Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon - 90

Silver Oak Cellars 2010 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - 92

Silver Oak Cellars 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($149.95)

Blueberry, sage, and boysenberries on a very complex nose. Fresh fruit explodes on the palate. Velvety tannins lead to a long, beautiful finish. A terrific example of what excellent winemaking can do, even in an unusually cool Napa vintage. Will only improve with time, but there isn't much improvement necessary. 95.

Sterling Vineyards 2012 Chardonnay - 86

Sterling Vineyards 2012 Pinot Noir ($24.99)

Wild berries and a hint of spice on the nose and palate. A tiny bit of brown sugar ads to the palate. Finishes long and elegant. Beautiful. 91.

Sterling Vineyards 2013 Sauvignon Blanc - ($18.99)

Fruity and grassy notes on the nose. Tons of citrus and balanced acidity. An excellent deal at this price point. 87.

Twomey Cellars 2010 Merlot - 89

Twomey Cellars 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($40.95)

Pear, grapefruit, green apple and citrus on the nose and palate. A touch of honeysuckle on the palate as well. A long, lingering, fresh finish. Excellent. 89.

California, Sonoma County

Cannonball Wine Company 2013 Chardonnay - 85
Cannonball Wine Company 2013 Sauvignon Blanc - 85
Chateau St. Jean 2012 Sonoma County Chardonnay - 84
Chateau St. Jean 2010 Robert Young Vineyard Chardonnay - 86
Dry Creek Vineyards 2013 Sauvignon Blanc - 86
Francis Ford Coppola Winery 2013 Sofia Blanc de Blancs - 85
Francis Ford Coppola Winey 2013 Diamond Gold Label Chardonnay - 86

Lake Sonoma Winery 2012 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - 88
Lake Sonoma Winery 2012 Dry Creek Zinfandel - 88
Lake Sonoma Winery 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay - 88

Oregon, Willamette Valley

La Crema 2012 Pinot Noir ($38.99)
Notes of black fruit, star anise and violets on the nose. Lots of fruit follows through on the palate, with a touch of pomegranate and a hint of orange zest. This is La Crema's first vintage of Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley; it won't be the last. 89.

Finally that is the end! We learned an important lesson this trip, which is trying to buy wine at the very end of the Saturday night tasting is folly. Next year, we are going to try to go to the Thursday and Friday night tastings, and get all our shopping done before everything sells out.

We tasted a heck of a lot of wine, but you may notice we didn't even get to Spain or Italy. Since Italy is next year's featured country, we should make up for that, and we'll have to focus more on Spain.

One more entry to come: Dine Italia!!!

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