The Demystified Vine

Taking the mystery out of wine exploration!

Hello wine lovers!

Here’s the ‘quick and dirty’ on a recent wine I tried – the 2016 Wild Goose Vineyards “Mystic River Vineyard” Gewurztraminer – that I was definitely “wowed” with.

If you can get your hands on a bottle of this award-winning wine, do so. It recently received Okanagan Wine Festival’s “Wine of the Year 2017”. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of off-dry white wines, this is worth a shot. Try it with some spicy Pad Thai or a Daal curry. You won’t be disappointed nor able to tell it is off-dry, to be honest.

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What you’ll experience is a well-balanced white wine in both acidity and sugar levels. It doesn’t seem as sweet because the acidity is high enough. This particular “Gew” is very old-world styled, and is complex to boot. Furthermore, now that I think about it, what you’ll have with this wine is an experience.

Made from 100% estate grapes from the Mystic River Vineyard, the bouquet and palate notes are ‘fruitful’; you’ll likely find some kind of combination of stone and citrus fruits, in addition to ripe tropical fruit characteristics.

What I found? Fuzzy peach, lychee, nectarine, lemon, juicy mango, honey, white pepper, hints of apricot, a smidgen of fresh grape, and some stoniness.

ABV: 13.6%
Grape: 100% Gewurztraminer
Production: 200 cases
Winery price: $20 a bottle.

Cheers!

The Demystified Vine

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Rosés are truly making a splash in many glasses these days. The latest rosé movement started picking up its heels in the last half of a decade, and I am not seeing this trend slowing down anytime soon.

A Bit About Rosé

In a nutshell, this particular style of wine is made when red grapes are harvested, pressed for their juice, and then sometimes left for varying periods of time to extract some colour from the skins of the grapes.

According to The Commonsense Book of Wine by Leon D. Adams, rosé is a “drink anytime” kind of wine; it is versatile wine in that it can be served anytime, it is flexible for various occasions, and useful to have on hand if you just want a glass of wine!

“I advise you to buy an all-purpose wine, and to let the rest come naturally. Such an all-purpose beverage is the pink table wine called Rosé (pronounced Ro-ZAY). […] Rosé is the one wine you can bring out of your refrigerator and serve at any time for any use without a brow-wrinkling thought as to whether you have made an acceptable choice. Chill, open, and pour; it is that simple” (p.65).

Now, with Adams’s sharp clarity on how rosé can function, I think it is important to know that rosés fall on the spectrum of extremely light in flavour and body to tremendously deep in colour, flavour, and body. It all depends on what you like. However, don’t shy away from one or the other; you might be missing out on your next beloved wine!

I have to say that it was a delight to try the different styles of rosé that Culmina is producing. They cover a lot of ground between the Saignée and the R&D blend, which is awesome for the general consumer. In short, I love the versatility that Culmina is offering wine consumers between these two wines.

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I spoke to Sara Triggs, Sales and Marketing Manager of Culmina Family Estate Winery and daughter of Don Triggs, a pioneer in the British Columbia wine industry, to find out more about Culmina’s particular 2016 rosés.

Differences in Style

TDV: The 2016 Saignée and 2016 R&D Rosé Blend are two very different roses. First, tell me a bit about the 2016 Saignée.

ST: The difference involves essentially that of winemaking. Our Saignée of course is made in the saignée method, which involves bleeding juice from our red wine fermenters at harvest. As much as possible, we try to bring all of our fruit from each one of our 44 micro-blocks separately, reds included. When making our Saignée, the juice bled off of each fermenter is then also handled separately. When it’s time to blend the finished rosé wine, we undergo the same blending process that we do for our reds wines, such that even though the reds undergo the saignée process, is no guarantee that the saignée’d juice will end up in our Saignée rosé.

TDV: And how about the 2016 R&D Rosé Blend?

ST: Our R&D Rosé Blend on the other hand, has been made in the ‘direct press’ method from blocks of fruit specifically designated for the rosé. Because of the production method, it is a bit lighter and a bit more lively in terms of acidity. Like all of the wines in our ‘R&D by Culmina’ Series, it has been made from 100% estate grown fruit, but moreover, is meant for enjoyment across all contexts, with or without food, with company, at home, on the patio, or with dinner, etc. It’s a bit more casual than Saignée, and ever-so-slightly more sweet. Because we are a Bordeaux red house, it has been made similarly from a blend of Bordeaux red varietals.

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TDV: How do you determine what your rosé blends will be?

ST: The varietal breakdown varies from vintage to vintage just like our reds, as it is not determined by a predetermined ‘formula’, but solely on what is best that year. Stylistically, because of the way that the wine is made (i.e. with fruit harvested at full maturity), our Saignée always tends to be textural, creamy, and a bit unctuous; it also tends to balance savoury flavours with bright fruit characters, even across vintages despite the varietal breakdown.

The Wines – My Reviews and Notes

2016 R&D Rosé Blend                    $19.00 winery price

Plentiful notes of strawberry, rhubarb, raspberry and pink grapefruit flesh. Medium boded. Very nice acidity. Long finish. Peppery tones come out on the palate. Fantastic rosé, midway between Provençal and something as medium bodied as 8th Generation. Curious about this rosé with BBQ chicken or pan-fried dumplings. Crisp and refreshing. Bright. Would put money on it being a rosé that “non-rosé lovers” might like. Made from Merlot, Malbec and the two Cabernets. Also available at BC Liquor Stores.

2016 Saignée                                     $24.00 winery price

Poetic rosé with delicate mineral-driven notes. Strawberry perfumed and bright. Clean and balanced acidity. Delectable. Well-rounded fruit on both bouquet and palate. A cultivated sophistication. Notes of cranberry are uncovered mid-palate and lead to a refreshingly pure finish. Adored this with seasoned salmon and a herbed-yogurt dressing with a mixed greens salad. Additional pairing: a porch and a summer sunset. [grin] Made from 73% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, and 13% Malbec. 100% Golden Mile Bench.

For more information on Culmina Family Estate Winery, read about their “Pursuit of Excellence” here. You can also check out their winery page here.

Cheers!
The Demystified Vine

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2015 Pinot Blanc – Oraniensteiner – VQA

A very fun wine! Bursting with stone and tree fruit, this blended beauty is a lovely sipper for a hot day when chilled to perfection. Oraniensteiner is a German variety that was originally created to make sparkling wines, however, matched with the late harvest Pinot Blanc in this wine, it balances quite well. If you like a heavier bodied white wine with a touch of sweetness, do check this out!

Lunessence Pinot Blanc Oraniensteiner

2015 Sauvignon Blanc – Muscat – VQA

This blended wine also includes Canolli, Viognier, Chardonnay, and Semillon. Peach skins and a light candied nose define the bouquet. Stainless steel fermentation went on for 34 days, and then the wine was aged another 4 months on the lees. The palate has a nice peaches and cream feel. Additionally, the palate is quite floral, and I would definitely recommend pairing this dry, energetic wine with Asian-inspired dishes.

2014 Sauvignon Blanc

Still holding up in May 2017, this beautiful Sauvignon Blanc was bright and filled with veins of citrus and grass. Hints of clementine shone through. A delightful white wine from British Columbia showing South Okanagan potential. (Note: This particular wine was bottled and produced by Moonlight Valley Winery Ltd. in Summerland, BC. as per label information.)

Lunessence Sauv Blanc

2014 Merlot – VQA

One hundred percent Merlot goes into this vintage wine. This particular wine was fermented at high temperatures for just over two weeks and went through full malolactic fermentation. The program for the Merlot was aging in Hungarian, Slovakian, and French oak. The wine itself showed solid toastiness and dark fruit character. If you are a fan of lighter styled Merlot, this is definitely one to try. Drink by 2018.

Lunessence merlot

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon – VQA

The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from Lunessence was also fermented at high temperatures for a wee bit longer than the Merlot. The oaking program was the same as the Merlot. The wine itself showed red fruit character with a strong toasted nature. Lighter bodied than southern BC Cab Sauv’s, this red wine most interestingly showed notes of Partridgeberry and currant leaf. The palate showed some light peppery notes. An easy-drinking Cabernet.

Cheers,

The Demystified Vine

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Lunessence Winery in Summerland, BC, is starting to gain some traction in the local wine world. Their motto, “Harmony, from vine to wine”, plays close attention to wine making from the dirt up. As the winery is experimenting with classical music being broadcast throughout the vineyard, Lunessence is utilizing alternative methods, shall we say, to influence what goes into bottle. Their belief: that classical music provides positive effects to the grapes via the sound vibrations and frequencies of, arguably, the most complex music on the planet.

Lunessence logo

Interestingly Enough…

To make things even more specific, Lunessence is not broadcasting just any classical music. The “chosen ones” include operas composed by Verdi, Mozart, Rossini, Leoncavallo, and others.

Now, before you judge or scoff at the idea, I have to let you in on a secret. While I cannot link you to the exact experiments, it has been proven that listening to classical music while studying can increase your understanding of material thus leading to higher grades in school.

According to an article published in USC News (https://news.usc.edu/71969/studying-for-finals-let-classical-music-help/), “University research in France, published in Learning and Individual Differences, found that students who listened to a one-hour lecture where classical music was played in the background scored significantly higher in a quiz on the lecture when compared to a similar group of students who heard the lecture with no music.” Being a teacher, I will support any theory that would help students be better students! So, if grapes are the students of the land, play on Mozart!

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Photo from http://lunessencewinery.com/photo-gallery/

The Land

Summerland, BC, is rife with a variety of soil compositions, and Lunessence’s estate vineyard is situated on ancient bedrock. Giant’s Head Mountain is not far off from the site, and this particular mountain is known to locals to be an ancient volcano. Volcanic soils tend to impart favourable characteristics to a wine’s profile, and if you are a wine lover who enjoys minerality, volcanic soils might be your thing. Think Sicilian wines; vino from around the Mt. Etna area are bursting with terroir influence.

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Photo from http://lunessencewinery.com/photo-gallery/

Viticultural Practices

Lunessence Winery & Vineyard is practicing sustainable viticulture. While not yet fully biodynamic, the vineyard is becoming more closely tied to organic practices, putting an emphasis on not harming the locale of what lovely things may be living around them. The goal, as stated in their winery pamphlet, is to “find balanced energy within both ourselves and our vineyard”.

Click here to learn more about the wines: Lunessence Winery & Vineyard Wine Profiles

Cheers!

The Demystified Vine

 

I’m so glad that we are beginning to see wines, from places like Turkey, in our market. As a general note, Turkey grows a lot of grapes. There are thousands of different varieties of grapes in this eastern country, and only two percent  are used for wine making. As such, most of the grapes grown in Turkey are used for filling bellies.

At the Vancouver International Wine Festival, I had the opportunity to sit down with Haluk Erenguc, Founder of Suvla Wines Canada, and Selim Zafer Ellialti, the proud owner of Suvla Wines.

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Selim Zafer Ellialti (left) and R. Haluk Erenguc (right) cheers to wine and life

The Back Story

After hearing the motto of Suvla Wines – “wine is life” – I couldn’t help but already be interested in what I was going to taste at the dinner being held at Terroir Kitchen in West Vancouver, BC.

Ellialti professed his love for wine making in a humble way. “My dream was to make a rich palate of wines. We worked more than one year to discover Turkish terroir.” With that information at hand, Suvla wines set out to make a strong portfolio of vino. Making over 120,000 cases per year alone, Suvla sets out to “make wine for everyone”. Ellialti added, “that’s why we’re doing a lot of wines, bold wines”.

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Photo courtesy of R. Haluk Erenguc

Turkey’s climate is favourable for grape growers. With a variety of rainy winters and high diurnal range in the summer, there is little risk of vine kill in the winter and cool nights help to keep acidity high following hot afternoons.

Some of the noble grape varieties are being grown in Turkey, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, but Suvla also wishes to represent their home by making wines from Karasakiz, a grape similar to Grenache.

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Guests of VIWF eagerly await the first course at Terroir Kitchen on February 19, 2017

Many of the wines in Suvla’s portfolio are blends of varietals we are already familiar with. So, for those of you who are anxious to explore the wines of the world, you can now find some Turkish wines and try them out!

Germany is currently Turkey’s biggest market, but things are starting to change. Ellialti plainly stated, “Within the last decades, there has been a focus on high quality wine making […] [as] the perception of Turkish wines is not positive in the last few decades”. Many restrictions have been in place due to religious and political issues in the country, and Ellialti believes that Turkey will “need a decade or more to develop the Turkish wines. It is a journey”.

The Wines

Beginning with some butter poached lobster, guests sipped on Suvla’s “Kabatepe” [kah-bah-tep-peh], a white wine made from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Roussanne, and Marsanne. “Kabatepe” is the same of a historical harbour on the northern coast of the Aegean Sea located near the Gallipoli peninsula. It was clean and crisp, boasting of yellow apples, citrus, and brine. I really enjoyed the grassy notes in the finish.

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Butter poached lobster by Chef Faizal Kassam paired well with Kabatepe

Suvla’s rose, made from Karasakiz, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, was light and refreshing. This rose definitely brought summer to mind, and what I enjoyed most was the white pepper notes on the palate. It was not as delicate a rose as Pinot Noir makes, but it did show expected red fruit notes. The food pairing was a hard one for me to try as I have an aversion to consuming octopus, but Chef Kassam did a great job of mingling the grilled beast with a salad of chickpeas, cucumbers, radishes, parsley, and a preserved lemon vinaigrette.

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Second course: Grilled octopus

Out of the seven courses being served that night at Terroir Kitchen, one of my favourites was the house made farfalle with brussels sprouts, Calabrian chili, garlic, anchovy paste, lemon, parsley, and bottarga. Paired with Suvla’s “Kirte” 2011, this red wine carried loads of dark plum, black fruits, hints of bacon fat, and proved to be a meaty wine. I was initially thinking that it would be too heavy for the farfalle, considering no meat was really present, but I was proven to have an incorrect assumption.

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Photo courtesy of R. Haluk Erenguc

My favourite wine of the night was the Suvla Reserve Syrah 2011 matched to perfection with the bison rib made hunter style with cannellini beans, rosemary, garlic, and black truffle. Made exclusively with Syrah grapes, this wine was a wonderful expression of Syrah with its raspberry, red fruit driven backbone and peppery spices on the palate. Aged for 12 months in oak barrels, this wine is one I’d like to open up again.

Cheers to the team at Terroir Kitchen for hosting such a lovely food and wine centred event. Chef Faizal Kassam took great care with aligning the elements of these Turkish wines with local ingredients. With a focus on “artistry, technique, and creating lasting flavour profiles“, if you are interested in tasting these wines and experiencing Chef Kassam’s creations, be sure to head over to the resto.

Wine really is life!

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