The Demystified Vine

Taking the mystery out of wine exploration!

On Monday, May 18th, 2015, I had the opportunity to head over to GlobalBC to promote the Wine in the Garden  fundraiser event that is happening on May 28th, 2015 at Van Dusen Gardens in Vancouver, BC.


This annual event is a collaboration between Van Dusen Gardens and the Bottleneck Drive Wineries Association. Its focus is to not only raise awareness and money for the educational programs that happen at VDG, but also draw attention to some of the fantastic Summerland wines that we have at our fingertips.

The video is about 5 minutes in length, and it highlights how we are pairing some of the Summerland wines with flowers in the garden! I hope to see you at the event!

Thank you to the folks at Town Hall Communications for asking me to do the segment!


Eav Vivre is a “family-run boutique winery” that is located in Cawston, BC. They are one of the growing number of wineries located in the Similkameen Valley – an area full of farms, microclimates, and really great soils.


Photo from


Dale and Geraldine are the proud owners of Eau Vivre. To support the unity between the land and their wines, the family is using sustainable and biodynamic practices.


Photo Copyright Valerie Stride 2015

Sauvignon Blanc can be made in a variety of ways. One can find tropical fruit-driven examples from places like New Zealand, or one can locate dry and herbaceous examples from the Loire Valley in France. Whatever style you like Sauvignon Blanc to be in, one thing I know I enjoy most about Sauvignon Blanc is its acidity. For me, Sauv Blanc should be refreshing, zippy, and paired with a hot summer aft.

The 2013 Eau Vivre Sauvignon Blanc ($17.00 CAD) fulfilled my last statement with ease. Okay, well, it is still technically Springtime, but I’m okay with that. Are you?

Regardless of the time of year it is, the EV didn’t disappoint. It was refreshing and zippy with lots of fresh squeezed lime juice, tart apple, and a palate-cleansing acidity. There were additional notes of grapefruit pith, dry grass, and quince. This is a great food-pairing wine, and the level of acidity in the wine made it the perfect pairing for shrimp cocktail in an avocado. I could not have made that particular pairing better. While sipping, I thought I could have also used some scallops with beurre blanc and a few pea shoots to go. One can dream.


Photo Copyright Valerie Stride 2015


I’m very intrigued with how Geurztraminer shows itself in British Columbia. Eau Vivre nailed it.

Their 2013 Gew ($17.00 CAD) is lively and intensely youthful. Classic white pepper notes, white peach, lime zest, sliced apple, and chamomile all work together quite harmoniously on the bouquet.

Palate wise, this vintage is off-dry with a medium body (which is typical of Gewurztraminer). Fuzzy peach, Atulfo mango, juicy green pear, and a hint of lime zest pith dance around on the tongue. Of course, Gew would not really be Gew without that white pepper note on the palate as well. If you are a terroir fan, you’ll be excited to know that this particular Gew also carries some stony minerality. Super clean on the finish to boot.

The Gew is showing extremely well right now. Drink up!

Interested in more Eau Vivre? Watch for more reviews on The Demystified Vine or you can visit their website at Make sure to stop into the winery and say hello!


The lights were turned down low as I walked into Cibo Trattoria at Seymour and Nelson St. on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015. Everyone was already seated, and there was a hum in the room. Across the restaurant, David Tremblay (Sales Manager for South by Southwest Wine Imports) leaned into the table engulfed in a conversation about wine with Lionel King (Sales and Territory Manager for Bonvida). Future sommelier, Joshua Decolognon, listened intently. Robert Stelmachuk, Wine Director & General Manager of Cibo, briskly walked over to take my coat. “I almost broke a heel on my stilettos!” I stated. He responded, “I was getting nervous that you weren’t going to make it!” Oh no, Robert, I made it. After all, how could I pass up Veneto-inspired cuisine paired with Veneto wine? This was the first dinner in a series at Cibo that is region-focused. If you haven’t put two-and-two together yet, tonight the focus was on northeast Italy.

Shortly after I was seated and had been introduced to the company at the table I was sitting at, our first glass of wine appeared before us. The Monte Del Fra Bardolino 2012 (Chilled) was a pleasant surprise to see in front of me. It was to be paired with Cache Creek Ox Tongue with Smashed Favas, and Pecorino-Mint

The pairing was delightfully delicate. The combination of herbaceous and green characters in the pesto balanced well with the sweet essence in the wine. The soft texture of the ox tongue was almost synonymous to the velvety body of the Bardolino. Cherries, red berries, rose petals, and vanilla cola were all gracefully present. This wine was surprisingly light, and I was curious about why a red wine was starting this five-course meal. More to come.

The second course was a Tortellini In Brodo paired with a white wine! The morsels of pasta were stuffed with Martinez Ranch Braised Lamb Neck accompanied with Spring Peas, Fresh Horseradish, and vinegar. The wine was a medium bodied classic Veneto white — a 2009 Ca’Rugate ‘Monte Alto’ Soave Classico.


The broth was earthy, dense, and complex, but light in body. Initially, I was doubtful upon first taste of the broth that it was going to balance out with the wine. Soave is known to be lighter in body and rarely oaked. This particular Soave, however, had seen some oak. It was surprisingly complementary. The succulent lamb carried umami notes that married nicely with this Garganega-based vino. The citrus and wet stone notes held there own in the face of the lamb. I was impressed, indeed.

Of this pairing, Robert Stelmachuk noted, “This one [wine] is oaked for structure…it can stand up to richer foods.”

At this point, I was already curious what game Executive Chef Faizal Kassam & crew would bring to the table next.

Course three was a Risotto Nero with Octopus, and Bone Marrow Gremolata paired with Brigaldara Valpolicella Classico 2012. The wine boasted a comfortable toastiness with hints of cherry cream. My notes say it “smells like velvet”. I can only infer at this point that it smelled smooth. During his introduction to this course, Stelmachuk stated the wine was “simplistic, juicy, uncomplicated wine. There is no oak on this wine which let’s it play incredibly well”. With soft tannin, and violet and ripe raspberry notes, I was already intrigued. How was this going to do with squid-inked rice and tentacles? I’ll let you use your imagination on this one. photo(11)

The discoveries were not over just yet. Grilled Fraser Valley Quail on top of Red Wine Lentils, Radicchio, and Salsa Peverada was up with the Ilary Cordin Amarone Della Valpolicella 2006. The sauciness and spiciness of the red lentils communicated nicely with one another on the palate. The acid in the food was softened by the wine to help bring out the salty & savoury notes of the risotto. The wine itself was of medium intensity and showed developing characteristics. Cola, pitted ripe cherries, milk chocolate, mocha, red licorice, and a sprinkle of black pepper all complemented the medium (+) body of the wine. Vibrant. photo(14)photo(10)

Dessert was an interesting choice. I totally get that a lot of times you gamble on how a dessert and wine will pair. The rule of thumb: always make sure your wine is sweeter than your dessert, or else your wine will seem bitter, astringent, or tannic. The Walnut & Caramel Tart with Honey, Coffee, and Cream was just lovely. The caramel oozed over the tart crust, begging you to wipe it up with your finger. (Of course, I didn’t. But let it be known that if I was at home, I would have wiped my finger on that plate.) The wine – Masi’s Amabile Degli Angeli Recioto Classico 2007 – was a beauty on its own, but just [<->] this close to being not sweet enough for the tart. photo(15)photo(8)

When I asked Robert why he decided to start with a red wine and then go to a white, he said, “People get stuck in a rut. I wanted the option of giving you something different. The whole premise of this was to have white wine before red wine.” He went on to say that with all of the “rules” surrounding food and wine pairings, he wanted to break the tradition and exhibit some perfect examples of why one can play with these “rules”. Bravo, Robert, bravo.



If you’re interested in attending other region-focused dinners at Cibo Trattoria, you’re in luck! There are more!

  • June 2 – Sicily
  • July 8 – Tuscany “The Anti-Chianti Dinner”
  • August 2 – The 2nd Annual “Bottle Royale” – B.C.’s wines vie against international selections.

Contact Cibo to make your reservation for an unfortgettable night.


The other night I was enjoying a 2012 Chartron et Trébuchet “Cuvée de la Chapelle” Pouilly-Fuissé. While sipping it, I couldn’t help but be a little bit peeved over the fact that I’ve heard countless people say they hate Chardonnay.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that there are a lot of people on that ABC bandwagon (the Anything-But-Chardonnay kick), but I’m wondering where that all comes from?

Let’s be real. Chardonnay is one, if not the, most versatile grapes that make up this lovely libation we call vino.

It comes in all types of styles from buttery and oaked to austere and citrus-driven.

While I think that some areas are producing better Chardonnay than others, I’m curiously thinking about why so many people are going ABC!

The Facts

Pouilly-Fuissé is a type of Chardonnay found in the Mâconnais area of Burgundy in France. While this region doesn’t produce the most ageworthy or complex wines, you can be guaranteed that you will try a Chardonnay so far-from-the-reality-of-buttery-Chards-out-of-Cali that your palate will be refreshed. Literally.

As it says in the Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil:

A lifetime of experience with California chardonnay (or chardonnay from other parts of the New World) would give you little idea of what to expect from a white Burgundy, for these wines are completely different, even while they span an enormous range of styles and flavors. At a fairly simple level there are crisp appley-lemony wines from such Mâconnais and Côte Chalonnaise villages…These everyday drinking wines are almost never going to be called opulent, buttery, butterscotchy, oaky, bursting with tropical fruit, or any other descriptor commonly applied to California chardonnays. Even Pouilly-Fuissé, which can have some weight to it, is far less conspicuous and less bosomy than most New World chardonnays.  p. 208

So what am I getting at? Go out and explore. Go out and try some Chardonnay that will expand your horizons. Stop being so ABC!


Photo Copyright © The Demystified Vine, Valerie Stride 2015

The Review

Available at the BCLDB for ~$35.00, you’ll get a good glimpse into what austere citrus notes taste like. Brilliantly vibrant, the fresh squeezed lemon juice and lime zest notes pop from the glass. The minerality in this wine pulsates, leaving you with impressions of wet stones and white chalk. It’s gorgeous. As it warms up in the glass, more green fruit appears with notes of apples and pear. White grapefruit pith stands on its own, ensuring that the citrus-family is kept in check. Good acid structure. Good body. Good value. Try it with grilled cheese sandwiches, calamari, or veal piccata.

Now that’s a Chardonnay I can uncork. DOWN WITH ABC!

Cheers, and remember to “Like” The Demystified Vine on Facebook!

At the Vancouver International Wine Festival in February 2015, I had the opportunity to try Australia’s own Nugan Estate wines during the trade tasting.

Nugan’s wines are sourced from vineyards situated in New South Wales, King Valley, and McLaren Vale. This estate winery, which has four different labels, is focused on making “premium estate grown wines from the family’s vineyards across Australia“. Matthew Nugan, General Manager, was present at the festival, and called the terroir of his family’s various vineyards sites “vast and diverse”.

The three wines that I was focused during the tasting were the Shiraz 2012, Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz 2012, and the icon wine Matriarch 2006 – a wine very close to Matthew Nugan’s heart.

I asked Matthew to describe Nugan’s wine making philosophy in 3-5 adjectives. His response was, “committed, focused, passionate, innovative, sustainable.”

A Tasting of the Wines

The Shiraz 2012 was pale ruby in colour, and shone with bright red fruit. Raspberry, cherry, and toasty oak profiles were found both on the bouquet and palate. This wine had a good acidity to it and a medium tannin structure. The wine is priced at $25.99. If you’re a fan of simple, straightforward red fruit with a good tannin kick, this is a must-try.


Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz at #VIWF. Photo Copyright Valerie Stride 2015

Moving onto the Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz 2012, $25.99, I was much more intrigued. This wine has only been made for three vintages, and 2011 was missed due to not having the best fruit. The wine itself was bright, with loads of red berries and shaved dark chocolate. It was an inky wine with a hearty acidic backbone. It had a detectable sweetness, likely do to the concentrated sugars of the dried grapes.

Post-tasting, I asked Matthew why he decided to make an appassimento-style (dried grape) Shiraz. Simply put, Matthew said,

“I wanted to make something different. When traveling to visit my customers in 2008 and 2009, I was asking customers what we at Nugan could do that would enable us to stand out from the crowd of Australian wines. Our Danish importer suggested to us to try and make these styles of wines out of Shiraz, so after discussion with our winemaker Daren Owers we did and they were extremely successful.”

Finally, I tasted the Matriarch 2006, which was inspired by Matthew’s mother. It was a pretty wine which was both bright and lively. Solid red fruit characters were present, and it should be noted that there was a deep influence on the palate of luscious raspberry and pepper jam. With clear acidity and gripping, but flexible tannin, this small case production wine was a prize. The Matriarch was aged in French oak for 24 months and then aged in bottle 2 years prior to release.

I had stepped away from the table in order to try the Matriarch. After about 10 minutes of “sitting with it”, I went back to the table. Later, I wrote the following to Matthew in an email.

A Little Chit-Chat

[TDV] I adored your 2006 Matriarch. You had mentioned that this wine was named after your mother. Tell me a bit more about that story.


The tall-standing bottle of Matriarch 2006 at #VIWF2015. Photo Copyright Valerie Stride 2015.

[Matthew Nugan] My mother retired some years ago, and we had been in the process of making an ICON wine for quite some time. The wine was ready for release shortly before Mum’s retirement, so my sister Tiffany and myself decided to call the wine Matriarch in my mother’s honour. She is the Matriarch of our Family, [as] my father died quite young of cancer in the mid 1980’s and mum had to take over the running of the business. This is no small achievement. If you can understand a house wife in a male dominated world, thrust into the centre of a struggling business during the 80’s, there was a recession, interest rates were going crazy, business was extremely tough. Mum managed to conquer all to bring the company through tough times. She had many successes including building one of the largest producers of natural carrot juice in the world and the largest in the southern hemisphere. In the mid 1990’s, she was crowned NSW business woman of the year for her efforts and success. She had also increased the company agricultural holdings and built a new clean and green winery and juice factory.

[TDV] Nugan also makes olive oil. Tell me a little bit about that endeavor.

[Matthew] Nugan Farms has about a grove of approx. 800 acres (80,000 trees) of Tuscan Olive varieties located in close proximity to the winery, so the time between harvest and delivery is limited ensuring the quality is excellent. [At] the winery, we make only the highest quality extra virgin olive oil[;] this is used both domestically and internationally in some markets like Japan.

Thank you for taking the time out to talk about Nugan Estate, Matthew!

For more information on Nugan, visit their website at



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