Saturday, September 24, 2016

Benjamin Bridge is Nova Scotia’s ultra-premium sparkling wine house located in the beautiful Gaspereau Valley. The winery is located on White Rock Road near Wolfville. It owned by Gerry MCConnell. The winemaker is Jean-Benoit Deslauriers.

Canadian Author and wine authority Tony Aspler call them the Sparking wines I have ever tasted. That is amazing praise. The sparkling wines are made in the Methode Classique method using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Consulting with Deslauriers is Raphael Brisbois and Peter J Gamble.

Although their signature wines are Sparkling the winery has  achieved  success with its Nova 7. Conceived by Canadian winemaking icon Peter J. Gamble, Nova 7 is a proprietary blend of signature aromatic whites, highlighting select Muscat grape varieties. Nova Scotia’s iconic wine is gently handcrafted from grapes grown along the Bay of Fundy. A category unto itself, its lively spritz, inherent acidity and elegant aromatics combine for a seductive expression of coastal terroir.

Getting back to the Sparking Brut John Szabo of Winealign wrote "Brut Reserve  reaches new heights of class and quality… I’m confident in stating that this is very likely the finest sparkling wine to have yet been issued from Canadian soil."

Winemaker Deslauriers and winery manager Kielty McNeil

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

All things French

We have a friend a young lady who travelled quite extensively in Europe, especially France. She loves all thing French including her wine.

We have on numerous occasions attempted to persuade her to try Canadian wines. She will not!
When we started to host tasting events at our home featuring BC wines she was invited.
She showed up with a friend a gentleman who work for the Candian Government at an Embassy in Europe. He declared himself an expert in wine and shared our friend's opinion that Candian wines were not good.

He loudly declared this at our wine event. All I could say to that was for someone who did not like our wines you drank a great deal.

So our friend left our event still convinced that French wines were simply the best. So we planned a little trickery. We invited her to dine with us at a neighbouring 5-star restaurant. The owner also been a friend of ours.

We ordered our friends favourite French wine. Only along with the restaurant owner we had drained the bottle and refilled it with a BC wine and recorked the bottle. She was of course completely followed and raved about the wine.

At the end of the meal we told her about our trick and provided video to show her what we had done. She laughed it off saying the wine was French and you are just trying to fool me into thinking it was a BC wine.

We though the battle was lost until one day invited for dinner at her home I accidently discover a number of BC wines in the kitchen cabinet.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Kimberley's  Mini Bistro

It was a perfect summer evening for the first Pizza Night at Blackwood Lane Vineyards in the Fraser Valley (Langley). We and our friends Ken and Jane looked forward to trying the new ideas winery   Manager Kimberley had designed to compliment the quality wines of the winery.

We were greeted warmly by staff member Julie, whose bright smile and hospitality made us feel welcome.  The news that the winery was now open until 9:00 pm (Fridays only) has spread, and the turnout was larger than expected. All the staff was hands on, including owner Carlos in keeping up with the table service. We enjoyed the ambiance of the patio; sipping wine, chatting and watching the horses in the fields beyond.

We did a tasting of white and red wines before ordering pizzas, a ham and pineapple, as well as a margarita pizza with locally grown ingredients.  Kim, your skill as a pizza maker is outstanding, they were delicious.  We hope you will have them on the menu often.  Barb and Ken chose the Merlot while Jane and I ordered the Reisling to accompany the pizzas

Winemaker Carlos found time to join us, bringing out his newly released fortified wine, Portance Merlot. I have a feeling that it is going to be on Barbara's Christmas wish list, she loved it! 

The dessert of the evening was a delicious flour free chocolate cake Kim had prepared, it complimented the Portance Merlot perfectly.

Fine weather, great service by friendly staff, exemplary food and wine plus fabulous friends all made for a very pleasant evening in BC's Fraser Valley.  We highly recommend a Friday Night on the Patio!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Annual Wine Tasting Party

This year our annual tasting was held on July 26th. This very exciting event is so special it is not held every year. It was a smaller than normal; everyone is so busy these days and we have a much smaller yard. However, we were blessed by having some close friends enjoying the quality wines.

We began the event with a sparkling wine from The View Winery in East Kelowna 2014 Distraction Frizzant. A dry sparkling, made from Pinotage, Gewurztraminer, and Ehrenfelser grapes a nice patio wine on a warm summer day.

After the sparkling wine appetizers were served, what a feast! We then did a wine challenge comparing Rieslings from British Columbia, Ontario, and Washington State. Our guests were not told which wineries they were tasting. The majority favoured the Blackwood Lane 2009  Riesling from BC,  while others preferred the Tawse Winery 2014 Sketches Riesling from Ontario

It was now on to an open cellar where you could select any wine on hand. Reds were added to the mix. Not surprised to find the favourite was the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from Blackwood Lane, my entire stock was consumed.

Winemaker and owner Carlos Lee of Blackwood Lane provided us with a tasting of his yet to be released, port style wine. What a treat!

The tasting began at 2:00 pm with the last guests leaving at 9:30 pm. All had a most enjoyable time looking forward to the next one.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Taming of the Shrew at Township7 Vineyards

Having experienced visits to Township7 in Langley we decided to attend an evening performance of Shakespear's "Taming of the Shrew"  presented by Bard in the Valley.  We were joined by our good friends Ken and Jane who are fantastic in helping promote our website. 

The weather was not promising, with heavy black clouds threatening rain but the air was warm so we decided to chance it.  We began the event with a picnic supper of chicken, salads and watermelon along with Township7's Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Sauvignon Blanc.

The wineries new tasting room and picnic area are very impressive. The wine bar was crowded but the staff was prepared and provided wonderful service. We were all very impressed by their hospitality. 

Prior to the start of the play we met Tesesa Townsley from Festina Lente Farm located across the road from Township 7. She and her husband are currently working towards opening a meadery in the near future.

The play is a modern day version of "Taming of the Shrew" produced by Diane Gendron and directed by Darcy J. Knopp.  In this version, the boss of Padua Golf Club has a major problem, she has double booked special events for her two most important clients. It was well done and the energy of the performers was catching.

All in all, it was a fun night with good friends and good wine. Please see Visit to Township7

Photo credit Barbara Bell

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Naramata Bench

The Naramata Bench located on the south-east side of Lake Okanagan has become one of Canada's prime wine growing regions. There are now close to fifty wineries operating on the bench. It all began back in the 1980s when Vera and Bohumir Klockockas founded Hillside Cellar. Lang winery opened in 1990 and became the first Farm Gate winery in BC.

With abundant sunshine, the cooling of the lake waters and moderate temperatures along with great terroirs grapes have prospered producing fine wines. This of course, brought others to the bench.

Tim Watts and Bob Ferguson started planting their vineyards in 1989. They named their winery after the railroad that once ran through Naramata, Kettle Valley.

D'Angelo winery open in 2002 when winemaker Sal D'Angelo a very successful Ontario winemaker and winery owner was extremely impressed by the Okanagan he  decided to open on the bench. Sal has had great success with the Tempranillo grape.

One of the most successful and very popular wineries  is Poplar Grove under winemaker Ian Southerland. Another winery that became very popular was Red Rooster originally founded by Beat and Prudence Mahrer. They sold it to Andrew Peller Ltd. but loved the business so much they came back and opened Ruby Blues winery.

Recently Black Widow owned by Dick Lancaster has been collecting more than its fair share of rewards including Gold at the recent All-Canadian.

La Frenz is one winery you do not want to miss when visiting the bench. Their Liqueur Muscat and Tawny port sensational.

The Naramata Bench is full of wineries that have impressed very one with their wines. The list includes Serendipity under winemaker Bradley Cooper (and his own label Black Cloud),Lake Breeze, Laughing Stock, Marichal Vineyards and fruit wine Elephant Island.

At the far end of the Bench is Van Westen Vineyards  They started as farmers almost 60 years ago and today are know for its cherries and white wines.

Yes I am forgetting to mention so many other wine wineries  like Misconduct, Meyers Family Estate, Moraine Estate and Nichol Vineyards and Perseus.

At the 2015 Canadain wine awards Deep Roots Winery Syrah won for best red. They also won for their unoaked Chardonnay

Se all the Naramata wineries

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The beautiful Shuswap is situated in south-central British Columbia, northeast of Vancouver. The Shuswap Lake system offers more than 1,000 kilometres of shoreline to explore, amidst spectacular scenery and a pristine environment. The Shuswap offers a four-season playground that boasts the largest houseboat fleet in Canada, and one of the largest in the world, offering a fabulous way to vacation with family and friends, lazily drifting along the lake gazing at blue skies and gorgeous mountains.

Here you will find a number of wineries, many of them starting up in the last few years. This is  a region for Cold Climate wines. Cool climateregions definitely get just as hot as warm climates in the peak of the season. However, it is the fact that the temperatures drop off so quickly towards harvest that make the wines taste different. Lower temperatures preserve the acidity but they also make it difficult for grapes to ripen. You can generally assume that cool climate wine regions tend to produce tart fruit flavors and have more acidity.

These wineries need to be very selective in the grapes they grow and vineyard planting. One of the early and must successful wineries in Salmon Arm is Larch Hills Estate. They made some very good Ortegas over the years.

In 1992 John and Catherine Koopman started Ovino winery also in Salmon Arm. Their signature blend is Foch-Pinot Meunier. The newest winery in Salmon Arm and one to keep an eye on is Marionette winery owned by Amanda Eastwood and Jamie Smith both highly taned winemakers.

Down the road in Tappin you will find Recline Ridge a family operation that has won its shre of awards in the last few years. Continuing south from Salmon Arm you come across Sunnybrae Vineyards overlooking the lake. Mark Walenburge is the consulting winemaker here. He has helped establish a fine reputation for the winery

Up  a little north  of Salmond Arm  sitting on the northern side of Shuswap lake is Celista Winery. Winners of 32 medals in the last 5 years. The winery is owned by Jack Ootes and his wife Marg. Jack is a former MLA and cabinet Minister for NW Territories.

The Shuswap wineries have proven you can make good wines in the northern end of the Okanagan with had work and dedication.