Thursday, February 23, 2017

Vancouver International Wine Festival - Part 1 ! Dine Italia!

Starting this year's VIWF report with our last activity of the Festival; Dine Italia!

We first attended this event in 2014 and at the time, promised ourselves we'd never miss it again. But then in 2016, with Italy being the host country, the normal-Saturday event got bumped to Sunday, and it didn't fit into our plans. But I'm going to say it again; we'll never miss this again! Hosted by beautiful Yaletown restaurant La Terrazza, the food and wine always measure up.

It sells out in minutes. MINUTES. I wonder why?

Not much to like there. :)

We started off with Cornetto Al Tonno. There is virtually NOTHING I like in this dish. It's yellow fin tuna tartare with a meyer lemon basil aoili, topped by steelhead caviar in a mini sugar cone. I don't like tuna, certainly don't like raw fish of any kind, and am not much of a fan of caviar. Basically, I like the cone. But when anything is well made, it's pretty good and this was certainly palatable.


Zonin1821 - NV Veneto Masseria Altemura Rosamaro ($32.99)

Beautiful aromas and flavors of strawberry, raspberry and cranberry highlight this sparkling gem. A real nice way to start off the afternoon. 88.

Course 1

King crab cake, micro potato salad,
apple-fennel slaw, lime-peperoncino emulsion
Fresh bocconcini and tomato salad
for my shellfish-allergic wife 


Santa Margherita Ca'Del Bosco - N/V Cuvée Prestige ($40.99)

Light wheat nose with aromas and flavors of green apple. Well balanced and was an absolutely beautiful pairing with the crab. 89.

Cantina Tollo - 2015 Pecorino Terre di Chieti ($26.99)

Muted nose. Palate features citrus notes with a vegetative component. For me, didn't pair as well with the crab as the above. 86.

Monte Del Fra - 2014 Ca Del Magro Custozo Superiore ($16.99)

Beautiful fruity nose. Flavors of peach and nectarine. Long, almost sweet finish. Really lovely and a great pair with the crab. 89.

Course 2


Risotto Al Tartufo - simmered canoli rice, parsnip purée, asparagus tips, oyster mushrooms, perigold truffle
Oh my, that was really freaking delicious. Oh my.


Tommasi - 2014 Rosso di Montalcino Casisano ($29.49)

Rosso is Brunello's little brother and this one features a light nose of red berries with just a hint of dustiness that Sangiovese often brings. Sour cherry and some orange rind on the palate. This really needs food, but I didn't think it was a brilliant pairing with the risotto. 86.

Rocca Della Macie - 2012 Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG ($26.09)

Raspberry, earth, tiny bit of spice and wood on the nose. Full-bodied and strong tannins, with cherry and raspberry on the palate. This worked beautifully with the risotto. 88.

Course 3


Sous-vide blackened angus reserve beef tenderloin,
sangiovese - aged balsamic reduction, gnocchi al forno, burrata

 Dean likes beef. Dean LOVES this beef. Fabulous.

Umberto Cesari - 2013 Liano Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon ($26.49)

Pleasant nose featuring some dark fruit, smoke and spice. Some mocha and sweet chocolate flavors along with dark berries. This improved greatly with the tenderloin and was a terrific pairing. 89.

Allegrini - 2013 Palazzo Della Torre ($28.49)

Beautiful aromas of red cherry, dried raspberry, smoke and tobacco. Almost jammy in a way. Cherry, black pepper, plum on the palate. Some herbaciousness. Long finish. Fantastic pairing with the beef, this was my wine of the afternoon. 92.

Carpineto - 2011 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva ($34.79)

Montepulciano here references the town; not to be confused with the grape of the same name grown in other regions of Italy.

Black cherry, cassis, blackberry and mocha on the nose. Lingering accents of herbs, tobacco and spice on the pleasant finish. This wine is traditionally paired with wild boar or other gamey meats, but it went very well with the beef. 89.

Course 4

Barolo-braised veal cheek, mascarpone-porcini polenta,
grilled fennel, agro-dolce red onion
Veal has never been my "thing". If it always tasted like this, I'd have a new "thing".


Giusti - 2014 Augusto Recantina ($48.99)

 The recantina grape had almost been lost, but to our benefit, has been rediscovered. Hardly any planted in the world; about 9 hectares total, all in Italy! Huge, bold nose of violets and charred meats, slightly dusty. Some old world oak, with ripe red fruit. This was delicious, and I'll pick some up if I can find them anywhere. The veal pairing didn't make it any better, but it didn't need to get much better. 92.

Cantine Giacomo Montresor - 2013 Amarone Della Valpolicella Montresor ($42.99)

Dark ruby-red colour; light aromas of fig, dried cherries. Flavors of cedar, cherry, chocolate. Excellent food wine, improved a lot with the veal. Very nice. 90.

Course 5


Vanilla bean panna cotta w/blueberry compote, vermeer, taleggio, port cheddar cheese,
essencia honey, candied walnuts, fresh apple, cranberry/raisin crisps

What a fabulous end to a fabulous meal. The panna cotta was ridiculously good. Everything was perfect.


Cavit - Roscato Sparkling Red Wine ($19.99)

Beautiful red cherries, ripe strawberries on the nose and palate. Normally I'm not a big fan of sweet red wines (sparkling or not), but this was absolutely delicious and is an excellent bargain at this price. It's new, though, so good luck finding it. 92. 

There we go, a terrific afternoon of food as we finished off our VIWF experience for another year. Up next: Two more reports from the VIWF, both from the tasting room...


We bring "Dine Italia" home, this Saturday, as we host our own version of Italian Wine and Food night. Going to be an epic entry in our "pick a country theme nights" and I'll have a full report on that as well.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Catching up on so much good wine!

I've noticed that my notebook is getting very overcrowded, so I'll try to take care of that over the next week or so. With the Vancouver International Wine Festival only a week away, I need to get caught up! Let's get right to it, in no particular order.

Quails' Gate 2012 Old Vines Foch ($22.00)

Dark, brooding aromas of black cherry, blackberry, cedar and a hint of smoke. Herbaceous flavors, as well as some cedar, black plum, charcuterie and toasty oak. Rich mouthfeel. 89.

Quails' Gate 2011 Merlot ($22.00)

Aromas of coffee, dark berries and black cherry. Red cherry dominates the palate, with a touch of chocolate. Smooth, round and straightforward. 88

Church & State 2009 Chardonnay ($45.00)

Beautiful notes of marshmallow, graham....almost like S'Mores in a bottle. That's an apt description for the palate as well, with a hint of caramel on the finish. 89.

Church & State 2007 Syrah ($45.00)

Funkier than Rick James. Funky funky funky...but not in a bad way. Forest floor and intense mushroom aromas. The palate features lots of black fruit, cigar box, and graphite. Very unusual and very nice. 90.

Church & State 2014 Coyote Bowl Viognier ($20.000

Beautiful aromas and flavors of peach, apricot and pear. Well balanced acidity and a lovely finish. 89.

Stag's Leap 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon ($49.99)

Intriguing nose of plum, blackberry, mint, mushroom and a touch of black pepper. Rich mouth feel and lovely finish, with flavors of black fruit and just a hint of pepper. Drinking well now but another few years in the cellar would only enhance the pleasure. A good example of what a good producer can do even in a less-than-stellar vintage. 91.

Joseph Phelps 2014 Viognier ($30.00)

Beautiful aromas of white flowers, orchard fruit, honey and pear. Apricot, peach and pear flavors. Nicely balanced and a beautiful finish. 90.

Joseph Phelps 2013 Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard Syrah ($60.00)

Dark purple in colour, toasty oak, cassis, coffee and tobacco notes. Complex flavors of plum, blackberry, mocha and graphite. Long finish. Lovely. 92.

Cedarcreek 2013 Cabernet Merlot ($17.99)

58% Merlot
18% Cab. Franc
16% Cab. Sauv.
  8% Malbec

Aromas of blackberry, mint and herbs. Plums, cocoa and blackberry on the palate. A real nice wine at this price. 88.

As part of Tracey's Xmas wine, I bought four bottles from a winery we were not familiar with, except that they are a well-regarding winery from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. We put a couple bottles away for a while and have opened up the two 'cheaper' bottles already. So far, I must consider them a MAJOR disappointment.

Evening Land 2014 Seven Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir ($45 USD from the winery)

Light nose of blueberry with a touch of mint. The palate features some sour cherry and a hint of spice. The flavors just never really developed into anything, despite decanting and lots of time in the glass. 86.

Evening Land 2014 Seven Springs Vineyard Chardonnay ($45 USD from winery)

Light notes of hazelnut, butterscotch and toasty oak. Caramel notes on the palate with a bit of minerality. Well balanced acidity. Perfectly decent, but not spectacular. 88.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Don't Cry For Me, Argentina!!!

I few months ago I wrote a blog post about "Spain Night" at our place with some very good wine loving-friends. We decided at the time to make it a monthly (or close to it) event, with the venue alternating between our place and theirs, and the countries changing monthly. With the craziness of Xmas our next event flopped into January, and this is the report on the food and wine enjoyed by all.

Our dear friends, Melissa and Travis, put on quite a show. I mean, before this event, who the Hell knew what Argentina food was, even? Not me.

As for the wine....well, sure, we've all had Argentinian Malbec. But Argentina is more than Malbec, my friends.

Oh, as an aside note, Melissa runs her own cookie company; you may remember the cookies she made for our big wine event in 2015.

The best thing about her cookies is that they taste even better than they look!

She can make anything - I've seen some ridiculously hard designs - so if you are looking for a gift or party favors, check out her work on Facebook or Instagram.

If you don't do the social media thing and are interested in cookies, just leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post and I'll put you in touch with her.

Now, on to the food and wine!! The wines were all purchased from a BC Liquor Store so those of you who are local will have little trouble finding them.

Course 1:

Potato Soup with Avocado:

Finca Los Primos 2015 Chardonnay ($10.99)

Light, fruity aromas of citrus and peach. Citrus stays around on the palate, joined with just a hint of a buttery finish. A real good value at this price point. 88.

Many of the diners felt this was an excellent pairing with the food. I actually disagreed, thinking the wine went better without the soup (which was delicious, by the way).

Course 2: 

Spiced Beef Empanadas:

Finca Las Moras Reserva Tannat ($13.99)

Intense dark berries, spice and jammy notes on the nose. Cherry, blackberry, baking spices and some coffee on the finish. Very nice and a terrific pairing with the excellent recipe above. 89.

Course 3:

Frijoles Burrachos (Drunken Beans):

Michel Torrino Cuma Organic 2015 Torrentés ($12.49)

Gewurztraminer-like notes of lychee, spice and white flowers. Tropical fruit, lychee and a touch of spice on the palate. Very nice and another excellent bargain. Excellent pairing with the beans! 89.

Course 4: The Main Event:

Gaucho-style steak with chimichurri sauce: -

Trapiche Terroir Series Ambrosia Vineyard 2012 Malbec ($41.99)

Interesting nose features cassis, rhubarb and white pepper. The pepper is joined on the palate by earthy and coffee flavors. Look, I've been honest, Malbec is not necessarily my grape, but this one is perfectly decent and went well with the beautiful steak. Interestingly, it might have paired even better with the side of steamed carrots! 88.

Course 5: Dessert

Dulce de Leche Tiramisu:

Mascota Mendoza Uco Valley 2012 Unanime ($28.99)

A delicious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Light but expressive nose of cigar box and chocolate. Excellent structure shows promise for mid-term aging, but the dark berry and chocolate flavors are so good right now, it would be tough to leave it alone. Oh, and it went very nicely with the superb dessert. 92.

There you have it, what a fabulous night! The food was tremendous, the wine was universally excellent, and all except for the Malbec can be considered "BEST BUYS" as they give tremendous bang for your buck.

Next theme night will be in 3 weeks, at our place, as we take on a classic: Italy!!

Next up for the blog? Lots of catch up entries, plus two weeks from today we begin our experience with the Vancouver International Wine Festival! Going to be a spectacular few days. There will be lots to report on!

Thanks for reading, and I will leave you with this, one of my favorites from a rather famous film about this entry's host country: