Sunday, April 19, 2015

Report from ... Get Fresh in the Valley 2015 - April 19, 2015

Being welcomed at The Good Earth Winery
- you just don't get much more spring then this -

On a gorgeous spring day we headed out to take advantage of the 20 Valley's spring wine and food pairing program "Get Fresh in the Valley".  22 wineries pair up food with some of their newest vintages (or what they deem to be something fresh / refreshing for the season).  Each winery also hands out a recipe card so you can replicate the dish at home (if you so desire).  This year we started by picking through the wineries that offered up something that we thought sounded interesting - not based on the wine, but solely on the food (this year's full selection can be found here) - we planned our route and out the door we went.  

Below is our ranking of the seven places we went to, some food commentary (because in all seriousness this event is all about the food) and a note on some of the best wines we tried on the day - be they part of the pairing or not.

Our Seven Wineries Visited - in order or preference

1. Kacaba Vineyards
Rustic Pan seared Crostini topped with Fresh Arugula &
Almond Pesto, pickled red onions & Pingue’s Capicollo
Usually "crostinis" are dry and overwhelm the topping
during these events - but this one had the right amount
of topping to bread ratio and the butter/oil it was
"pan seared" in gave it just the right texture.
The 2014 Rebecca Rose was a nice patio sipper - so we did.
2. Mike Weir Winery
Double Smoked Bacon, Asparagus & Spring Pea Salad with Basil Lemon Crème Fraiche
A little confusion here over the "pellet pasta", as it does not appear
on the recipe card - but we think it was Israeli Couscous
3. Vineland Estates
Smoked Whitefish Taco, Pico de Gallo, Pickled Cucumbers & Crème Fraiche  
Maybe just a little too much smoke on the fish - but overall a solid dish
4. Creekside Estate Winery
Pingue’s Prosciutto on E’spelette Pepper Flatbread  
It might not look like much but Creekside's take on the traditional canape
was a spot on success and tasty too:
"you could finish the whole tray yourself before you knew they were gone"
5. Tawse Winery
Homemade Corn Dogs with Celeriac & Apple Remoulade  
Shocked by the freshness of this Unoaked Chardonnay I failed to take a picture of the
corn dog - but it did offer up a tasty treat and one of only a few hot dishes on the day
6. The Good Earth Food and Wine Company
The Good Earth’s Cold Salad Rolls  
Fresh? Check.  Tasty? Check.  An enjoyable bite.
7. Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery
Bacon Salad
How can you go wrong with bacon? The only draw back was the bitterness of grapefruit
peel that detracted from the finish.

Other Highlights of the Day

Best Wine on the pairing list:  Tawse 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay

Best Wine off pairing list:  Kacaba 2014 Jennifer's Pinot Gris

Food Item Most Likely to Make at Home:  Mike Weir's Spring Pea Salad

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Report from ... Stem Wine Group Annual Tasting, 10th Anniversary - October 20, 2015

That the Stem Wine Group called this an "annual" tasting is a little bit of a misnomer, my understanding is that this is to become a biennial event ... so you have to wait every two years to enjoy / taste this level of quality wines.  The majority of the portfolio is Italian wine, 30 producers in attendance this year; four from France, eight from the US, two from Australia and one each from Argentina and New Zealand ... many had at least one wine that was worth the price of admission.

Italy ...
Villabella 2005 Amarone 'Fracastoro' ($56.99)
pleasant richness of black cherry and red cherry,
elegant tannins and a long finish (****+)
Delibori 2012 Ripasso della Valpolicella ($17.99)
finesse and elegance with rich cherry with really
pleasant mouthfeel and good flavour (****+)
Zyme 2009 Valpolicella Classico Superiore ($44.99)
rich red fruit from beginning to end; cherry up front
with a gentle, delicate finish - very drinkable (****+)
Zyme 2008 Kairos ($74.99)
a 15 grape variety blend which offers up complexity
and intensity with a big spicy/tannin finish (*** 1/2+)

Zyme 2007 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico ($144.99)
black cherry, coffee, mocha, blackberry, vanilla, rich and smoky;
nice balancing acidity on the finish - damn fine wine (****+)
Zyme 2003 Amarone Classico Riserva 'La Mattonara' ($379.99)
richer and smokier than the other Zyme Amarone with coffee,
toffee, and black cherry extract; rich and flavourful - there
are layers of flavour that make this very decadent (**** 1/2)
Casina Bric 460 2010 Barolo, Bricco delle Viole ($84.00)
elegant yet juicy with lovely fruit,
good acidity and chalky mineral (****+)

Casina Bric 460 2010 Barolo ($68.00)
fruit driven with raspberry, sour cherry and vanilla (****)
Ca' del Baio 2009 'Pianrosa' Barbaresco ($32.99)
2 years in oak, 6 months in bottle ... shows dried cherry, smoke,
nice mineral and acidity mix - lovely and elegant food wine (****)

Ca' del Baio 2013 Moscato D'Asti ($19.99)
pretty Moscato with tropical notes; sweet but elegant -
biscotti and almond notes on the finish, nice acidity (****)
Braida di Giacomo Bologna 2011 Montebruna ($29.99)
single vineyard offering Barbera
black cherry, cassis, raspberry, smoky-vanilla and a nice tannin grip (****+)

Braida di Giacomo Bologna 2010 Bricco Dell'Uccellone ($74.99)
grapes from 53 year old vines aged 14 months in oak
robust yet shows elegance, dark berries, coffee,
chalky / mineral and smoky (****)
Gaja 2011 Promis ($47.99)
great fruit forward wine with red and black fruit -
balances acidity, wood smoke and tannins (****)
Siro Pacenti 2012 Rosso di Montalcino ($45.00)
big coffee flavour with creme de cassis, red berries
and rich blackberries (****)
Collemattoni 2012 Rosso di Montalcino ($25.99)
easy drinking with cherry and spice (*** 1/2+)
Villa a Sesta 2009 Chianti Classico Riserva ($32.99)
rich, robust, and juicy yet shows backbone with blackberry,
cassis and other dark fruit and good spice  (****)
Villa a Sesta 2009 Chianti Classico 'Il Palei' ($22.99)
mocha, coffee, cinnamon, vanilla, smoke - very pleasant  (*** 1/2+)
Fattoria di Magliano 2011 'Sinarra' ($23.99)
100% Sangiovese
mineral and red fruit mix in this deliciously fruit-driven wine  (*** 1/2+)
Fattoria di Magliano 2010 'Poggio Bestiale' ($49.99)
40% Merlot / 35% Cabernet Franc / Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot
yummy - big black fruit, smoky yet with nice tannin backbone
and a deliciously long finish  (****)
Arnaldo-Caprai 2011 Montefalco ($22.99)
70% Sangiovese / 15% Sagrantino / 15% Merlot
lovely fruit of blackberry and cassis with gentle spice (****)
Arnaldo-Caprai 2008 Sagrantino di Montefalco ($89.99)
big, spicy and rich, full of dark fruit, and hard tannins;
it's a food wine and sipping it brings me back to Montefalco (****+)
Masciarelli 2012 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo ($15.99)
rich and fruity with red and black berries and gentle tannins;
this is a nice fruit driven wine (****)
Feudi di San Gregorio 2013 Primitivo di Manduria ($18.99)
always a pleasurable drink with rich red cherry, blackberry and plum (****)
Argiolas 2013 'Costamolino' ($17.99)
lovely floral, creamy mouthfeel, pineapple, good acidity (*** 1/2+)
Argiolas 2010 'Is Solinas' ($17.99)
Carignan and Bovale (same family as Mourvedre)
1 year oak / 1 year cement / 2 years bottle

herbal, raspberry, nice spice and good acidity with a long
salty/mineral finish (****)

France ...
Henri Abele NV Blancs de Blancs ($79.00)
almandine and bruised apple, crisp, clean and biscuity
toasty with hints of buttered bread (****)
Chateau du Val D'or 2010 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru ($34.99)
gentle and soft with nice balance of fruit and wood:
hints of smoke, blueberry skin and tannins (****)
Daniel Chotard 2013 Sancerre ($25.99)
nice mineral with grapefruit pith and grassy notes,
great mouthfeel and a stony mineral finish and good length (****)

United States ...
BNA Wine Group 2012 Butternut Pinot Noir ($24.00)
light and easy drinking with nice fruit (****)

BNA Wine Group 2012 Humble Pie Cabernet Sauvignon ($21.99)
red fruit with touches of red licorice and anise;
nice spiced finish with good length (****)
Other Wines ... (no pictures)

United States ...
Michael Sullberg 2012 Chardonnay ($16.99) - ****+
Michael Sullberg 2012 Merlot ($17.99) - *** 1/2+
Highway 101 Cellars 2012 Zinfandel ($18.99) - ****+ 
Husic Vineyards 2010 Palm Terrace, Cabernet Sauvignon ($66.99) - **** 
Merry Edwards Winery 2012 Sauvignon Blanc ($47.99) - ****
Merry Edwards Winery 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($64.99) - *** 1/2
Merry Edwards Winery 2012 Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir ($74.99) - ****

New Zealand ...
Marisco Vineyards 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($18.99) - *** 1/2+
Marisco Vineyards 2011 Pinot Noir ($20.99) - ***  1/2
Australia ...
Rockbare 2012 McLaren Vale Shiraz ($22.99) - **** 1/2
Woolshed 2013 Merlot ($14.99) - *** 1/2+