Monday, December 19, 2011

Tinhorn Creek Concert Series

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards is thrilled to announce the exciting line-up for its 2012 Canadian Concert Series. The coveted annual event is a rare opportunity to see some of Canada’s top talent while sipping award-winning wines and enjoying a breathtaking view of the South Okanagan Valley.
Tinhorn Creek’s outdoor amphitheatre sits atop the winery’s hillside overlooking the famed Golden Mile, and is a one-of-a-kind venue for dancing the night away under the stars. Premiering May 26th, the 2012 Canadian Concert Series features up-and-coming Canadian talent every month and ends with a highly recognized Canadian performer to close the season.
Hailing from East Vancouver, The Boom Booms open the festival on May 26th with their “Latin-soul-funk-rock-reggae” music. On June 23rd, Victoria-based pop-rock quartet Acres of Lions will showcase their lyrically-driven sound, while July 28th will see west coast band Redeye Empire entertain with their “unique blend of reggae, ska, rock and hip-hop.” Vancouver quintet Said the Whale caps off the four-part series on August 25th with its brand of west coast indie pop, bubblegum folk, hard rock and ukelele ballads.
Perched on the picturesque Tinhorn Creek Vineyards estate on the famed Golden Mile, Miradoro Restaurant will offer several different BBQ food options prepared by Executive Chef Jeff Van Geest; Tinhorn Creek wines will be available by the glass or bottle. Miradoro also offers dinner and concert packages for those wishing to sit on the patio during the concert. Named one of the “World’s Best Winery Restaurants” by Wine Access Magazine, the destination restaurant offers stunning views of the South Okanagan Valley wine country.
Tickets to the Canadian Concert Series are now on sale and are some of the most sought-after in the South Okanagan and beyond, as only 500 tickets are available for each show. Ticket prices are as follows: The Boom Booms, $25; Acres of Lions, $25; Redeye Empire, $35 and Said the Whale, $40. Season Passes provide one ticket to each concert. Priced at $100, it’s like receiving four concert tickets for the price of three. Only 150 Season Passes are available. All concerts start at 7pm (gates open at 6:30pm).
Tickets are available through Tinhorn Creek’s online store or by telephone:
Online store:
Phone: 250.498.3743 or 888.484.6467

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wine News and Quotes for the Day

The Bell Tower Mission Hill
Canadian Wine  IWSC  2011 Producers Trophies Announced British Columbia's Mission Hill a winner.

"A sight of the label is worth 50 years experience.
Michael Broadbent"
Wine Tasting

Twase Winery
Canadian Wine   A November to Remember for Murray Twase   from Twase Winery and it is organic and biodynamic as well.

"Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing."
Ernest Hemingway
Death in the Afternoon

Cognac Shows Its Age  It is a good thing

"Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages."
Louis Pasteur

Magis is an innovative viticulture project aiming to improve and modernize vineyard management in Italy.

South African Winemakers going Au Naturel

"Blind Tasting of great wines is often disappointing " Emile Peynaud

The Extreme Importance Of A Proper Diet.
I have been a little concerned about my diet lately, so I did a little research. Both these ladies are 51 so it is a far comparison to show how important a proper diets is.

'Tell me what you eat, I'll tell you who you are."  ~Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Gillian McKeith Aged 51
Gillian McKieith a TV health guru. Advocates a holistic approach to nutrition and health, promoting exercise. a veggie diet high in organic fruits and vegetables. She recommends detox diets, colonic irrigation and supplements.
Nigllea Lawson Aged 51
Nigellea Lawson a TV cook who eats meat,butter and deserts. I am with this woman and you ?

Blog Post of the Day   A Love Letter to Wine PR Folks by Joe Roberts writing  1 Wine Dude

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wine and Spirits News Nov 28

Château d'Yquem, Clos Haut-Peyraguey, Château Suduiraut… - Sauternes Grands Crus Classes 2011: The Promise Of A Great Vintage 2011 to be a great vintage year.

Champagne Diet helps Weight loss  Fizzy weight loss plan, another good reason to drink Champagne.

Speaking about Champagne this is the biggest waste of Champagne I have ever seen, besides who has left over champagne ?

Rhone 2011 Vintage   Always right Vintage ?

South Africa Expecting larger Harvest

BC Aims For Record Ice Wine Harvest

New Cooperage serves Rising Scotch Demand The demand for Scotch whisky is growing around the world, particularly in the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America.

Global Viticulture Data  Stable production, fall in world Vineyard

Australia Wine Industry Faces Price  Undercutting   further hard times Down under

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wine news and quotes 24 Nov

China lacks Drinking culture  from Drinks Business. “China is not a wine drinking culture and it’s a common fallacy to think it is.”

From  Alfonso Cevola  "The Italian Wine Guy"  Thank You Italy giving thanks for Italy and all it wines. "Thank you for the red wines of Piedmont, from Grignolino to Dolcetto to Barbera to Nebbiolo. These wines are constant companions on my table and are a joy to drink and to grace the Italian table." Amen Alfonso

Boudeaux First Growths Going High TecH  Pichon-Baron using QR Codes

"Champagne is Frances greatest palpable contribution to human happiness " Hugh Johnson

Australian Wines Making A Comeback In the US  seems that sales in the USA have picked up once again for OZ wines.

Canadian Cheese will really have cheese in it. Top Court won't hear Saputo, Kraft appeal of cheese Rules

"After fifty years of tasting and teaching I am convinced that to talk about, let alone claim, total objectivity in tasting is nonsense" Micheal Broadbent

Wine Critics Have Bias ? from the Globe and Mail   Really I had not noticed ?

" A little imagination can find a wide range of rich, complex and familiar smells in a wine" Peynaud from Taste of Wine.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Some interesting articles and posts from around the wine world.  A must read from Sandra Oldfield from Tinhorn Creek has a post on The Case for Canada’s Sustainable Wine IndustryCanadian wine producers should take note.
South of the border The US still biggest for Burgundy from the Drinks Business. Here what happens when some scientists have a little too much wine.  The Physics of Wine Swirling from Science, they also  figured how overly enthusiastic wine swirls manage to splash their drinks, possibly staining their sweaters. Now I know how wine stains end up on my shirt, and now can figure it out mathematically.

Australian wine  Researchers closer to preventing spoiled wine, will Brett be a thing of the past we can only hope.

Wines that Rock have " crafted" a wine  honoring the Grateful Dead the process involved listening to a 1974 performance by the band at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, during blending.
Patrick Comiskey writes in the  LA times about Beaujolais growing up. A good piece on the changes going on in the region. The Crus are wines are definitely worth buying.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Old Vintages of Barolo or Pour It and They Will Come

 There are wines that burn their way into your taste memory and turn rational analysis on its head. Somewhat like the magic of a great work of art, or the heartbreak of an exquisitely performed opera.  Try to bear this in mind because we are about to encounter one of those wines.

The Line Up
 The original line up for the tasting was two bottles each of the following wines: (My thinking, of course was that if one of these beauties was hopelessly lost, the other would, hopefully, still be palatable).
1962 Bersano Barolo, 1964 Giovanni Scanavino Barolo, 1978 Mauro Barolo, 1979 Bolla Amarone, 1981 Fontafredda Barolo and 1980 Brunello de Montalcino.
There were two more wines from the collection added to the list by popular vote: a 1981 Casa Vincola Nino Inferno and a 1984 Sassicaia.

 The guests for the evening were as follows:  two WSET Instructors with decidedly different teaching techniques, a Chef who also imports Italian wines amongst his other myriad endeavors, the wife of one of the WSET instructors, a very charming lady in her own right,  and a knowledgeable wine geek with no verbal inhibitions. We also had a friend with us whose wine knowledge basically consists of knowing what she likes, possibly not why, but who is never impressed by labels.  Add to the mix myself and, of course, Wendy, who shares most of the wine I drink and definitely all of the good ones.

1962 Bersano Barolo
  I had only  two bottles of this wine left in the cellar. The labels were scuffed and torn. Ullage was good, very high shoulder. I had high hopes for these; Barolos, produced before Barolo became a Doc. One bottle was the first to be opened  and was decanted for most of the evening. The second bottle was opened later and also decanted and aerated.  The nose never came around. To put it in wine geek terms, they ended up being DNPIM and PDTS. Do Not Put In Mouth and Pour Down The Sink. So sad.

1978 Mauro Osvaldo Barolo
 Typical old Barolo. Orange rim, light red colour . A little past its prime sadly, but still drinkable. Lots of sediment, still some tannins left, but soft. Still an enjoyable wine.

1981 Fontanafredda Barolo
 There was a lot of bottle variation between these two bottles. Both bottles were quite acceptable and drinkable. Bottle number one still had quite a bit of floral, rose notes while bottle number two had not as many aromatics. Both bottles had high amounts of volatile acidity, but in a juicy, lip smacking way. Clear, garnet coloured with an orange rim. Clean on the nose, but not a lot of intensity. Tarry with a tiny hint of sherry notes. Tannins were smooth, medium minus. This wine was full bodied with more on the palate than the nose. At its outside edge of being drinkable.

 1981 Casa Vincola Nino Negri Inferno
 I foolishly made a comment that I would open two more wines from my collection to be determined by a popular vote. Democracy is a terrible thing. We do not have any Infernos available here and, of course, we needed to try another nebbiolo. The nebbiolo character was there, but the Inferno lacked the power of the Barolos. Not a lot of aromatics remained, but this wine was still interesting on the palate. The nose was clean, but a little tired. The tannins in this wine were still much in evidence, as with the Barolos, but the refinement was lacking.

 1984 Sassicaia
 The Sassicaia was another one of the wines that everyone wanted to taste. I thought that it would be a good benchmark wine for the Barolos. Different region, different style. Wonderful wine, but the Barolos muscled it into the background and kicked sand in its face. It should not have been tasted with the Barolos. I have had this wine before and it was remarkable when experienced on it's own. I thought the Cabernet would stand out more when compared with the Nebbiolos.  That supposition turned out to be utterly and completely wrong.

1980 Brunello di Montalcino 
  Quite frankly, I did not intend to open this wine for this tasting. But, we had run out of wine. And...when you have a room full of wine geeks clamoring for more,  it is definitely in your best interest to keep them entertained. This is one of Wendy's favorites. "The Girl on the Label Wine". This Brunello also outdid the Sassicaia.  It has aged well, always lots of aromatics and fruit. As this was one of the wines tasted later in the evening, there were not a lot of detailed notes from anyone, just a lot of head nodding and lip smacking. It was picked as the second best wine of the evening. Every bottle of this wine that I have been privileged to experience has amazed me with its freshness and ability to persevere. Tannins like silk.

                                               1964 Giovanni Scanavino Barolo
At last we come to the star of the evening. Both bottles were virtually identical. The labels were almost perfect, ullage was as when just bottled. These were ready to drink upon opening. Everyone started out doing the tech notes on this go round. Tasted blind, this wine would have sung out Nebbiolo; tar and roses and violets in the background. The fruit was hanging on like a suit that has seen better days, but is so well-made you always choose it. When the first bottle was poured, the descriptors were flying about the room. Then, one by one, everyone seemed to have their moment of silence and meditation. It takes a remarkable wine to shut up a room full of of wine geeks with a glass of wine in their hands. Yet,we sometimes recognize when a wine deserves and demands our attention.  This is one of those wines. What  the  hell was this winemaker thinking when he was working with this wine? This is definitely a wine of its place and of its terroir. It must have been really incredible in its prime. Like Pavarotti's final performances, the power and the life is still there. Still breaking our hearts.

Monday, January 10, 2011



Barolo is one of the great wines of the world.  It was one of the first DOCGs granted, in 1980, which attests to the quality of wine produced in the region. This is a small DOCG, all of seven miles long and at its widest five miles, in the Piedmont region in northern Italy.  Barolo wines have an ability to age for decades. The only grape permitted is the tannin monster, Nebbiolo.

Fontanafredda in the 1900's
It has been called the “King of wines and the wine of Kings”. Barolo was one of the favorite wines with the nobility and the ruling Kings of Savoy. The King of Savoy, Carlo Alberto owned various wine making estates in the region.  His son Victtorio Emanuele founded the estate Fontanafredda and the colors of the House of Savoy are still visible on the Frontafredda buildings to this day. Wine made by Kings and for Kings.

 Barolo and Nebbiolo both have a long history in the region but we will only highlight some of the important dates. Nebbiolo was mentioned as early as the 1200s. Some early legislation was enacted in 1909 to try and define the area and protect the name of Barolo. The boundaries changed a few times in the 1920's and in 1930 and again in 1934. However, there was little change in the region during the war years. In 1966, Barolo was awarded its DOC and its DOCG in 1980, again with some small boundary changes.

 The Barolo zone has many different mesoclimates, soil types and altitudes that have broad effects on the wine produced. To simplify the complicated geology, there are two basic soil types producing two broad styles of wine. The wines of the Serralunga Valley tend to be a little bigger, with more tannins and higher alcohol. This area has a sand and limestone soil structure. The Central Valley to the west, La Morra, and the Barolo commune itself, to me, have more perfumed and truffle aromas, with less tannins.  This valley has more clay and manganese in the soil. The wine producer can at times override the terrior though; it is best to compare one producer's different versions.

 There are eleven communes in the DOCG.  Five which produce the majority of wine: Barolo, La Morra, Serralunga d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto and Monforte d’Alba . The other six are Verdune, Novello, Diano d’Alba Grinzane, Cavour, Roddi and Cherasco. These communes have been further divided into Cru style vineyards, somewhat similar to Burgundy. These vineyards though, have not been assigned a status as have Burgundy’s premier crus or grand crus.  The Slow Food Group spent quite a few years researching and mapping these vineyards. This mapping was built upon Renato Ratti’s “Carta del Barolo”. Many producers since the eighties have been doing single vineyard bottling; you will see the name of the vineyard on the label. Some producers still only bottle a regional wine made from blends from vineyards all over the region, which is more traditional. Their thinking is that a blend of various vineyards makes for a better fuller wine. With all the possibilities of commune vineyards, producers and soil types you could have a nice lifetime hobby tasting all the variations and styles.

Barrique at Marquis de Barolo
There has been some controversy in the past about how Barolo should be made. There are the tradionalists and the so-called modernists. The tradionalists use long maceration periods of 20 days or more and use older, large barrels called botti, usually made from Slovenian oak. This style produces the more tannic, lighter colored versions of Barolo. The modernists use much shorter maceration times, seven to ten days and use smaller barrique size barrels, made from French Oak. This is the more international style with more approachable tannins, more color and fruit. A huge controversy developed in the 1980s, when families warred and even went their separate ways over how to make Barolo.  It now seems that more producers are falling into a middle ground. The end result is that these wines are more approachable and can be enjoyed without years of aging, as in the past.

 I thought this was interesting. It is taken from article eight of the DOCG regulations on what Barolo should be.
Color: garnet red, shot through with orange.
Odor: characteristic perfume, ethereal pleasurable and intense.
Flavor: dry, full, robust, austere yet velvety and harmonious

Annual production: 8 million bottles depending on vintage.
Aging: must be aged for three years, one must be in wood. Some producers will age longer. Yields: 56 hl/ha or 3.2 tons per acre.
Acreage planted: 4285

Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of ItalyA Wine Atlas of the Langhe: The Great Barolo and Barbaresco VineyardsBarolo to Valpolicella: Wines of Northern Italy (Faber Books on Wine)The New Italy: A Complete Guide to Contemporary Italian Wine

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

No Longer in the Minor Leagues or a Zero Dosage Champagne in BC

We finally now have a Zero Dosage Champagne in British Columbia, yea! We actually an importer that has balls and will give us something else other than Brut to chose from.  My hats off also to the LCB buyer who put this one on the shelf.
 Champagne Lallier is a small family producer who have crafted this wonderful zero dosage Champagne. Zero dosage refers to that there is no sugar added at the disgorgement. The grapes come from Grand Cru grapes 70% pinot noir and 30% Chardonnay from Avize/Cramant. The quality of the grapes really show in this Champagne. Golden colour with a little touch of amber. The Chardonnay puts some citrus in the aroma and add in butter and brioche. Good mousse and long lasting bubbles. This wine has been aged for four years in chalk cellars.  This is an excellent food wine, sharp as a razor and full bodied. If you are thinking  gift giving, it has attractive in the box packaging.  In my opinion you can not get  better  Champagne for the price point in British Columbia.I have added the LCB SKU to help you find this one. This is now my house Champagne.  I look forward to a long full filling relationship. Hopefully it will keep my hands off the Salon that is stashed away.

Price: $ 89.95 Volume: 750 mL SKU: #14274
Imported by VonAlbrecht

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wine and Climate Change or don't sell the ranch

Dad, I don’t know what you’ve heard about global warming, but it looks like we might be making a mistake selling the ranch. I know cattle prices are down and all, but apparently a rock ranch might have some value about now.
There was some big study done on Climate Change, and the BC government is thinking BC can grow grapes somewhere besides the Okanagan. And they’re spending money – big money – to find out where. Fifty grand, Dad, and another forty grand from the feds – all you gotta do is plant a few grapes to see which ones survive.
Those orchard guys sure picked up on this wine thing early. Did you know they’re getting a hundred thousand dollars an acre for grapes? Sure beats a couple of grand for grazing land.
Just think, no more dealing with cattle – all we’d have to handle are busloads of tourists lining up to taste our wine. Yeah, I guess the cattle prods might still have some use after all. And how’s this? We could change the barn into one of those rustic tasting room. Yup, you can charge ’em for the tasting. Those Yanks been doing it for years – never give away anything for free.
Maybe we can hire us that cute waitress from the bar to work the tasting room. No, I don’t think she needs to know anything about wine. Hey, I could be one of those wine geeks selling hundred dollar bottles of wine. Yes, Dad, people really do spend a hundred bucks on one bottle – sometimes even more.
No, I have NOT been drinking too much this morning. When it gets too hot for California to grow all those Napa Cabs, someone’s going to have to do it. And if it gets cold, we can just make ice-wine. No, it’s a tad more complicated than just adding ice cubes. You gotta let the grapes freeze right on the vine. Remember all those veggies we lost years back? Hell, no problem now. Might have a problem getting the boys off the horses and teaching them how to prune the vines – but oh well.
I checked it out, and there’s even some place in France that’s got just about as much rock as we do – Shaaa-toe-nuff de something. We can hire us one of those French guys to show us how to make wine with lots of points. You know points – up to a hundred. Nah, I haven’t a clue what the difference between 92 and 93 points would be either. But the more points you get, the more money you get – and we want to be selling our stuff for big bucks.
Yeah, Dad, it probably is a good thing they don’t give points to Rye and beer, might drive the price up. Anyway, let’s keep an eye on this. Hell, maybe we’ll finally be able to get rid of them snowshoes too.
Okay maybe a little to much humor for  such a serious subject. To the folks at home in ranching country up north, have a look at developing a new business plan. A couple of videos below to shed a little more light on the subject.

Global Warming: The Complete BriefingRoadside Nature Tours through the Okanagan: A Guide to British Columbia's Wine CountryEssential Wines and Wineries of the Pacific Northwest: A Guide to the Wine Countries of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, and IdahoBritish Columbia Wine Country

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Absinthe the "Green Fairy" or "death in the afternoon"

 Ah! the Green Goddess! What is the fascination that makes her so adorable and so terrible?”—Aleister Crowley

Absinthe is a making a comeback, but there is a great deal of misinformation on our little green fairy  and what she supposedly does. We will get into the subject of hallucinations later. Absinthe is a high alcohol spirit; since it does not have added sugar it is not considered a liqueur. It can be colorless or can have the traditional green color, which is derived from the chlorophyll in the herbs used. Chlorophyll acts almost like tannins in a wine, creating a drying sensation at the side of the mouth. The green version is known as “la fee verte”.

Like gin, cold compounding can be used to make a lower quality Absinthe, by the addition of essences and color to pure alcohol. There are so called Absinthe coming from Eastern Europe that is made this way. I have had some that where totally undrinkable. Some call it assbinthe. The little fairy really does not show up in the bottle at all.

Redistilling with grand wormwood, anise and fennel and other botanicals produces a proper Absinthe. Grande wormwood gives a slight bitter taste, fennel contributes licorice and sweetness. Anise gives the distinctive and defining flavor. Distillation integrates the flavors, giving a more uniform flavor profile.

Absinthe has a reputation of being psychotropic because the thujone  present in grand wormwood. Studies have shown that there is just not enough thujone present in the bottle. There is also an urban legend that has Absinthe acting on the same area of the brain that is affected by THC. Once again an other study shows that is not so.  Our little fairy has just been getting some bad press. By the way sage and rosemary also contain thujone.

Where did all the railing against Absinthe come from, and why was the green fairy banned, the poor little thing. In the mid eighteen hundreds Absinthe was cheap and was eating into the French wine market. The French wine industry to protect its profits, came out with a campaign, somewhat like prohibition to outlaw Absinthe. The press was used to vilify the product any way it could. A quote from the period “ Absinthe makes you crazy and criminal, provokes epilepsy and tuberculosis, and has killed thousands of French people. It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country.” Now, don’t you just want to try a glass of whatever it is that can cause all that mayhem and destruction? The French wine industry used its political might with lawmakers to ban Absinthe altogether.Our little girl just about disappeared.
Typical ad comparing the families of wine and Absinthe drinkers

Abinthe also had a reputation as being bohemian, and a drink of deranged poets and artists. The fairy kept some strange company. Toulouse Lautrec was known to drink six bottles a day. Lautrec also invented the earthquake, three oz of cognac and three oz of Absinthe. If you drink that much of a high alcohol spirit, possibly you may get a little deranged. Lautrec and others where pointed out as examples of what Absinthe could do to the mind. Oscar Wilde had a quote “Absinthe has a wonderful colour, green. A glass of absinthe is as poetical as anything in the world. What difference is there between a glass of absinthe and a sunset" This was after drinking all day, mind you. Hemingway was quoted in letter “Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks. Great success shooting the knife underhand into the piano. The woodworms are so bad and eat hell out of all the furniture that you can always claim the woodworms did it”
Degas "The Absinthe Drinker"
Maignan "The Green Muse"

In 1912 Absinthe was banned in the US. France finally banned it in 1915. However in 1972 the law was changed in the US,  products containing less  than 10 milligrams of thujone, where ruled thujone free. It just took awhile for everyone to figure out that most Absinthes have less than 10 milligrams of thujone. Once everyone found out through testing the thujone level in most Absinthes, and being below the limit it became legal.

The traditional way of serving Absinthe is a wonderful ritual. A slotted spoon is placed over a glass, a sugar cube on the spoon and water dripped over the sugar cube. An effect called louching happens, the Absinthe turns cloudy. Some of the spoons are works of art in the own right and have become collector’s items.

Remarkably in British Columbia there is no upper limit on thujone levels.
We have a highly recommend Absinthe made in British Columbia called Taboo. As a side note Canada has never had a ban on Absinthe.

Death in the Afternoon

I like Hemmingway’s recipe so I will quote him directly.

“ Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly. I heartily recommend drinking less than five of these, and you may also try pouring the absinthe on top instead; some brands of absinthe will float for a time on the Champagne, and this makes a nifty visual effect.”
Be careful with knives if you are having more than one. You never know what that little green fairy will do!

Absinthe CocktailsAbsinthe: History in a BottleAbsinthe: History in a BottleA Taste for Absinthe: 65 Recipes for Classic and Contemporary Cocktails