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TASTING NOTES: A big week for wine
Whoo-hoo! It’s Vancouver Wine Festival week!
If you’re hitting the International Festival Tasting room, and you should, don’t forget that the more you spit, the more wines you can sample and enjoy.
Make sure you have a big meal beforehand, you’ll need all the energy you can muster to navigate the room’s 177 wineries. With this year’s theme being France, do take advantage of that by exploring the country’s diverse regions and styles.
Domaine Zinck from Alsace offers fresh, aromatic and zippy whites, while Maison Louis Jadot of Burgundy provides some wonderfully plummy Pinot Noirs, expressing gleaming minerality.
You can bet I’ll be swinging by Lanson in the Champagne section more than once, and doing my best to get a little face-time with M. Chapoutier, the man himself, over in the Rhône Valley.
When you do step away from France and find yourself knee-deep in Spanish wines, I heartily recommend you pop by Nathalie Bonhomme’s table. The winemaker/négociant always has some delicious wines to pour, and personality-wise she’s a stick of dynamite who will leave you beaming.
Sitting Wine Fest out this year? Here are a couple wines to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
Breton 2012 Avis de Vin Fort | Loire Valley, France | $30-ish | Private Wine Stores
This wine isn’t going to be everybody’s favourite because of its unique style, but if it does indeed speak to you, you’ll love it!
The grape is Cabernet Franc, and it’s grown using organic and biodynamic practices in the gravel, clay and limestone soils of France’s Loire Valley.
The grapes are only macerated with their skins for just under a week, so the wine straddles the line between rosé and light red. Do serve it with a touch of a chill; it will absolutely sing.
The reason it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea? It tastes like those wonderful gravel, clay and limestone soils, and that will be the first thing that hits you.
Cascading over all of that though, is a wave of crushed red berry fruit; currants, strawberries, cherries and maybe a few rose petals floating on top. A light dusting of white pepper on the finish gives it some fine texture. Be adventurous and give it a go!
Liquidity 2011 Chardonnay | Okanagan Falls, BC | $27-ish | Private Wine Stores
Matt Holmes is the winemaker at what’s quickly becoming one of my favourite new B.C. wineries. Liquidity is a hop, skip and a jump from Blue Mountain in Okanagan Falls, a sub-region that is the heart of local Chardonnay and Pinot Noir country.
Matt’s wines are consistently elegant and polished, this Chardonnay being a fine example. Lightly oaked, the wood in no way weighs things down, instead it offers a clean lift to the wine’s lime, star fruit and mango juiciness.
Make sure to use the biggest wine glasses you’ve got; constant swirling will have you relishing those lovely, lovely tropical aromatics.
Kurtis Kolt teams up with Loblaw’s City Market
It’s a new year and Outlook wine columnist Kurtis Kolt is hunting the aisles of North Van’s Loblaw’s City Market in search of the perfect pairings to go along with his weekly wine picks.
Though I only profile a couple wines in this week’s column, there’s a wide array of foods that’ll go with them. A good rule of thumb when pairing food and wine is to really take note of a wine’s flavour profile. Any food flavours you’re picking up, from lemons and apples to chocolate and peppercorn, are the elements you want to hone in on.
When deciding on a dish or a snack to go with your bottle, think if those food flavours in the wine could find a place with your dish, actually in it or as a complement with each bite.
Think of it this way. Say you have some lovely fresh oysters and a choice between a lemony Sauvignon Blanc or a chocolaty Cabernet Sauvignon. Would you ever have a little chocolate shaved onto those oysters, or served alongside? Probably not. But would you squeeze a little lemon on them? Sure! Looks like we’d go Sauvignon Blanc with that one.
So we start out with the Breton 2012 Avis de Vin Fort, which is a little earthy but has plenty of red fruit. If we were to go with a cheese, let’s move toward something with a touch of earthiness, but would enjoy the contrast of a little red fruit, which could be seen as serving it with a little compote. PC Black Label Sovrano is an Italian hard-ripened cheese made from cow’s milk and buffalo’s milk, coming across as a slightly-milder Parmesan. That red, juicy character of the wine will also work as a great thirst-quencher for the cheese’s slight saltiness.
Now, with that Liquidity 2011 Chardonnay, you have some citrusy, tropical fruit, it’s quite juicy and there’s just a hint of creaminess, texture-wise. We can focus in on the creamy element, grab some PC Black Label Fiorelli Pasta and enjoy is with a simple cream sauce, perhaps with a little white wine, garlic and fresh herbs, or we can go to the other end of the spectrum.
Vij’s Punjabi Lamb Curry has some big flavour and plenty of warm spices; the Chardonnay will provide some lovely contrast and refresh the palate after each bite. That hint of ginger in the curry will also hit a similar note offered by the oak in the wine. Enjoy!