Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wines we seldom Buy

Pictured above is one of my favourite grapes when turned into wine Ortega! I love the smooth rich refreshing taste of this cold climate wine. Sea Star Vineyards on Pender Island makes a very good Ortega as does Larch Hills and 49 Knots. Among the best is Beaufort Vineyard & Estate Winery on Vancouver Island. The WineAlign National awards clump Ortega under single white varietals. These include such varietals as Semillion, Gruner Veltliner and Petite Milo.

On the opposite end of the scale is Riesling. Perhaps Ontario's most popular grape.  Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines.  Very popular when producing icewine.

Another good wine producing grape we seldom hear about is Zweigelt.  Gary Oaks on Salt Spring island won Gold at the Nationals Arrowleaf Cellars also makes a good one.

Sémillon is a golden-skinned grape used to make dry and sweet white wines , most notably in France and Australia . Sémillon is one of the few white varieties (Riesling is the other) with a spectacular ability to age. La Frenz produces a very good Semillion.

Perhaps my all time favourite seldom seen wine around the dinner table is Bacchus. The signature wine of Domaine De Chaberton Estate Winery in Langley British Columbia. In BC Bacchus grape production is less than 1 % of all grapes grown in the province. Arrowleaf is another BC producer of Bacchus. Blue Grouse on Vancouver Island as well.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The  Avocado

Oh! that healthy Avocade. Everyone is talking about its healthy qualities. It is a must order appetizer when visiting Mexico.  But honestly, I do not like them!  The colour is nice but the texture I do not care for.

Avocados: Contain antioxidant monounsaturated oils, essential fatty acids and Vitamin E. Promote cartilage repair in osteoarthritis.

This fruit is prized for its high nutrient value and is added to all sorts of dishes due to its good flavour and rich texture. It is the main ingredient in guacamole.

Studies have shown that avocados can

Reduce total cholesterol levels significantly.

Reduce blood triglycerides by up to 20%.

Lower LDL cholesterol by up to 22%.

Increase HDL (the “good”) cholesterol by up to 11%.

Now I am a heart patient and certainly, appreciate the health benefits of the Avocado. I am trying very hard to learn how to eat them.

To help me in this endeavour I concluded (as we all know) things go better with wine.

Apparently, the best wines to go with Avocado are whites. That's good I like whites.  Pairing avocado dishes with zesty whites, such as Sauvignon Blanc works. “The mouth-watering acidity in the wine cuts through the sweetness and fattiness of the fruit. That’s why a non-vintage sparkling wine or Pinot Grigio also works.”

Rieslings are food friendly in general. In picking a Riesling for guacamole, a slightly sweeter one is best! 

Other possible wines that go with Avocados are Rosé wines and  Gruner Veltliner. Hester Creek Old Vines Trebbiano! has also been recommended.

Reds?  well with Guacamole or the Avocado it is a no. However, if you use Avocados as an ingredient in a dish such as a Crab salad or Turkey Chili reds will work just wine.

In conclusion, it seems that simple Avocado and Guacamole go best with light refreshing whites. Reds come into play with more complex receipts.

Don't tell my wife, but there is no doubt  I will be consuming much more wine than Avocados.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fred's  Wines

I found myself standing among the wines at Fred Meyers in Bellingham. I was surrounded by wines. Rows and rows of wine; almost entirely from California. I looked up at the tall 8 foot plus shelfs, so many wines.

The top shelves where the more expensive wines from 24-30 US dollars. I guess only the giants of the world can afford these wines. However, the truth be known the more expensive wines were across the street at Costco.

As I stood there amazed first at the number of wines, but also at the low prices. Compared to Canadian wines prices these wines were cheap, very cheap. The middle shelf at eye level had the more moderate priced wines from $12-20 dollars. Wines we pay $30-$60 for back home in British Columbia.

I wondered about trying to find something other than Calfornia wines. I found some, one small section, none from Canada, mostly French and Chilian wines. There was more space devoted to box wines than imported wines.

I noticed the other shoppers were bending over reaching down to the very bottom shelf and placing two to four bottles of wine in their carts. These were the $3.99, $4.44, $4.99 wines and these were what Fred's grocery shoppers were buying.

I had to take a look. The usual names were there Sutter, Columbian Valley, Gallo, and Beringer.
I look twice at the Beringer Pinot Gris, one I had seen it in a BC store for $24.00 Here it was $4.49 I bought it!

Barbara and I toured Beringer on our Honeymoon so it was an easy decision to purchase this wine.

We also purchased a Lindeman's Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon, not a bad wine for its low price.

The question, of course, was how much tax would be applied to the wines at the checkout. The tax added to wines in Canada a way too high, too too  high. The answer 80 cents. and no recycling fee!

Glad to say I do not live in the USA, I would definitely be drinking too much wine! But then again Canadian wines are better, right!


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Summerhill Pyramid Winery

An elite winery located in Kelowna, British Columbia. Producing organic wines from Okanagan Vineyards.  The winery opened in 1987. The proprietor is Stephen Cipes.  Their philosophy: "Our vision is to provide the very best from pure   nature for those who appreciate all natural foods and wines."

Summerhill is the home of the Pyramid, after 3 years of tests in a small pyramid, consumer tastes proved to the owner that pyramid aged wine was better.

The winery is a family affair with son Ezra Cipes being the CEO. Well, known Eric von Krosigk is the winemaker.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery took top spot at the Chardonnay du Monde competition in Burgundy, France 2017.The winery earned a gold medal for its 2014 Chardonnay icewine, described as "a vibrant dessert wine with notes of honey, apricot and poached pears."

Their 2013 Small Lot Semillon Icewine awarded 100 points and double gold at 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition

Friday, June 16, 2017

Look out here comes Cider

A rapidly growing trend in Canada is a desire to drink Cider

Cider is an alcoholic beverage made mainly from the fermented juice of apples, though pears can also be used; in the UK, pear cider is known as perry. In the US and parts of Canada, the term cider almost exclusively refers to nonalcoholic apple juice (apple cider). The phrase hard cider is used to denote the fermented version.

Real cider is fermented apple juice, pure and simple. Traditionally, it is made with bittersweet and bitter-sharp apples, which have the tannins and acidity required to make a quality product. While dessert apples, such as Granny Smith or MacIntosh, are used by large commercial cider makers, these common varieties often require the addition of modifiers such as concentrates and synthetic flavourings.

Common varieties include: Golden Delicious, Johngold, Macoun, Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, and Honeycrisp. Ontario McIntosh, Ida Red, Spy, Gala, Paula Red, and Russet are commonly used.

Defining the fruit (from National Association of Cidemakers)

Cider apple varieties are divided into four categories according to the relative proportion of acidity and tannin:

Sweet varieties are the blandest of the four categories, being low in both components. They are useful to blend with ciders from the more strongly flavoured varieties, which, by themselves, would be too extreme in taste and aroma to be palatable. Typical examples of sweet apples are Sweet Coppin, in use to a small extent, and Court Royal which was used extensively at one time but rarely used nowadays.

Bittersweet apples impart the characteristic flavour of English ciders; as the name implies, they are low in acid and high in tannin. The latter is responsible for two sensations on the palate - astringency and bitterness. In the bittersweet apple, there is a whole range of combinations of these two characteristics, varying from little astringency coupled with intense bitterness to very marked astringency coupled with mild bitterness. Typical bittersweets are Dabinett, Yarlington Mill and Tremlett’s Bitter.

Sharp varieties, so called because the predominant characteristic is that of acidity, are encountered less frequently today, possibly because culinary fruit, which has a similar flavour balance, can be substituted for this class. There are, however, recognized full sharp cider varieties, two of which are Crimson King and Brown’s Apple.

Bitter-sharp is the fourth class of cider apple. These are fairly high in acid and tannin, although the latter component does not show the wide range of flavours exhibited by the bittersweet. Stoke Red is a good example.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Icewine and Food

Icewine has an extravagant sweetness and intensity. Its magical balance of acidity and sweetness gives it a texture that is surprisingly elegant and sets it apart from other dessert wines. This balance of perfectly ripe fruit flavours and aromas with acidity for depth and complexity makes Icewine the least coying of all dessert wines and more likely to marry well with a wider variety of foods.

Icewines made from Vidal are noted for their affinity with honey's flavours. In addition to aromas of tangerine, apricot and pineapple, when Vidal is aged in oak it takes on rich overtones of vanilla, almonds and freshly baked bread. Vidal Icewine works beautifully in a glaze for caramelized grilled pork roast or as an accompaniment to fresh summer berries with cream, chocolate biscuits, a pear tart or a raspberry mousse.

Riesling based Icewine is renowned for its acidity and mineral notes. Its vivid orange and citrus tones will combine with a rich range of creamy and decadent food textures and tastes, from foie gras to crème brulée.

The crimson Icewine crafted from Cabernet Franc yields up the classic aromatics of baked strawberry and rhubarb pie. This wine shines when teamed up with cooked or baked fruit courses featuring cherries or wild strawberries with crème fraîche. It's spicy exotic quality is underlined when contrasted to foods with hazelnut and dark chocolate

Icewines are magnificent with cheese, especially blue cheese such as Roquefort and Gorgonzola, hard and aged cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano and aged Gruyere and some sheep's cheese such as Pecorino.

Milder cheeses simply fade away against the dominant Icewine flavours. Foods made with Cheese such as Sweet Chevre Scoffle with peace sauce or authentic savoury cheesecake can find no better partner than Icewine .

Icewines are magnificent with cheese, especially blue cheese such as Roquefort and Gorgonzola, hard and aged cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano and aged Gruyere and some sheep's cheese such as Pecorino.

Milder cheeses simply fade away against the dominant Icewine flavours. Foods made with Cheese such as Sweet Chevre Scoffle with peace sauce or authentic savoury cheesecake can find no better partner than Icewine .

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Charcuterie Board

The latest trend in hospitality at your local winery is the outdoor patio where you can get wine by the glass, order a pizza, select a cheese plate or a charcuterie board. My favourite is the charcuterie board, which seems to go extremely well with a wine assortment.

Charcuterie plate charcuterie (shahr-cute-uh-ree) is a French word for any smoked, dry-cured or cooked meat. This category includes favourites like bacon, ham, pâté and sausages. More esoteric items like terrines, rillettes, galantines and duck confit are also considered charcuterie.

Access to a good butcher shop is important to the winery for selecting quality meats.  The plate often is composed of various salamis and prosciutto ham. A spreadable jam or chutney is a must, and of course crackers or toast.

The French prefer duck rillettes and various pates`

Although cheese is not considered charcuterie almost everyone has various cheeses on their board. Cheese goes well with wine, nuts and olives are often included on the plate

I prefer a light refreshing wine such as Pinot Grigio or a soft Riesling.

Glass House Estate produces a very nice one in the Fraser Valley. In Ontario Coffin Ridge is rated highly.

One of the secrets to a good charcuterie board at a winery is to keep it simple too many flavours can overwhelm the wine. Let your guests savour the foods and the wines.