Monday, September 11, 2017

A Return to Seaside Pearl Farmgate  Winery

Babara and I were returning home from a day trip through the Fraser Valley, near Abbotsford when on a whim we decided to turn south and visit the good folks at Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery. Our first visit was back in the spring prior to their opening, we were quite impressed with the winery, as well as owners, Allison and David Zimmerman.

Seaside Pearl is located in the Mt. Lehman area near the Fraser River, known as horse country it is gaining a reputation as the Mt Lehman winery triangle. The neighbouring wineries are Mt Lehman and Single Tree.

One enters the winery through an iron gate then along the driveway next to vineyards and horse pastures, towards the chapel style tasting room. Once again we were warmly greeted by Allison and her lovely smile as we entered the building.

 We had been impressed by the winery back in the spring even though the finishing touches had not yet been completed. This time we were impressed by the quality and beauty of it. Comfortable patio furniture is out, the trees are decorated with tiny lights, pleasant background music is wafting through the air, the ambience is very welcoming.

Allison invited us to a wine tasting, we were more than happy to oblige her. She was knowledgeable and cheerful in her explanation of each wine, and the stories behind the names were a bonus. We tasted wine from each bottle in the photo.

Allison puts together a very nice cheese tray, featuring cheeses from a neighbouring farm to go along with the tastings. While there a young couple on vacation from Manitoba stopped by, they too were impressed with the wines  Barbara and I  highly recommend you visit Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery

Our first visit to the winery

Friday, August 25, 2017

Closed for Event

Sometimes writing a blog can be very difficult. The fact that wineries often close for special events I find very annoying.
Right now I am finding it difficult to express why I feel this way. I have twenty-five years of experience in the hospitality industry but granted none as a winery manager or owner.

I realise it’s a quick and profitable means for the winery to have a special one-day event. But what about those people who planned a visit to a winery that day and find it closed. Closed because the winery does not have the space or staff to run a special event and greet their regular customers at the same time? DO you sacrifice the public’s trust that you are open on the day your Facebook page and website say you are? Are people who arrive at your door and find you closed unhappy perhaps even angry with you?

I just know I would be very upset if I came to your door and found you closed. I have experienced it a few times. A few years ago my wife and I planned a trip to Vancouver Island. I check with four wineries to see if they would be open. According to their website, all four would be open.  We drove through the back roads of Saanich Peninsula searching for the first winery only to find it closed. So was winery two and three. We did not bother going to the fourth winery.  

Posting a notice on Facebook saying your closed that day for an event is not good enough! Not posting correct hours on your website, unforgivable.

Will the people who arrive at your door to find you closed willing to return, studies have shown the majority do not. When they go to the store ready to purchase wine for diner do they deliberately avoid your wine because of the disappointment of discovering your doors were closed that day? DO they tell others about their frustration at finding you closed Yes they do!

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.

Carmenere is a rare one indeed in Canada. A variety originally planted in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France, where it was used to produce deep red wines and occasionally used for blending purposes in the same manner as Petit Verdot. Moon Curser in Osoyoos produces this wine and says "We're kind of known for swimming upstream and thinking outside of the box.  This grape is just another example of our steadfast refusal to play by the rules."

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.