Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wine by the Glass #LanguedocVan

From October 10th until November 14th experiences the wines of the Languedoc at four Vancouver wine bars.  The Wine Bar, Brix, Siena, and Seasons in the Park are all pouring between two and four feature wines from this region of foothills and sea in the South of France.  By eating and sipping at each location you can enter to win gift certificates and a fantastic prize of a limousine for two visiting all four wine bars for wine and appetizers.  Take a selfie with a glass of Languedoc wine at each location for even more chances of winning and post it to Twitter and Facebook using the hash tag #LangeudocVan @Languedocwines.
Take a Selfie & Tweet @LanguedocWines
to win prizes including a limo wine bar crawl
Stephen Bonner & Joy Metcalfe

What to know about the Languedoc? It’s a wine region made up of four departments, the Eastern Pyrennes, the Aude, the Herault, and the Gard covering  40,000 ha over a large range of climate and soil types.  The Langeudoc produces a full roster of wine types from still whites, sparkling, rose, reds, and dessert wines.  Winemaking focuses on Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Carignan for red and rose production; along with Grenache blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Viognier, Picpoul, Marsanne, Roussanne, Vermentino and Ugni Blanc for whites. 

Languedoc is rich in food and wine;  bridging the French, Spanish, and North African cultures. Spice markets, cafés, canals, rolling foothills, as well as castles and abbeys dot the landscape. This is home to the Mediterranean lifestyle and diet and an array of wine styles ideally suited to the cuisine.

Vancouver is the perfect North American city to promote and taste this region’s wine. With our Pacific rim, farm to fork, and market-oriented restaurants the wines of Langeudoc are natural partners. Try a Limoux with oysters or sushi, a Minervois red with a herby goat cheese or a burger, a GSM with bbq’d meats or a curry, and a Muscat with chocolate or nut based dessert.

Look for bottles and end caps with the Occitan Cross “The Langeudoc Cross” representing the twelve signs of the zodiac and the months of the year is found on all bottles of wine from this region. An ancient symbol re-interpreted for a classic wine region and wine.

Wines tasted on my recent wine bar crawl

Sieur d’Arques Premiere Bulle Limoux
Pale yellow colour with decent mousse. Aromas of brioche and  flower petals, Light to medium-bodied with crisp apple and white peach notes. Refreshing and round mouth feel.  ***

Chateau Pech-Celeyran Cinquieme Generation La Clape 2011
Yellow straw colour with aromas of flowers and mild tropical fruits. Medium-bodied, nice unctuous texture on the mid palate and flavours of peach, honeysuckle, and guava. Good length and acidity. ***

Domaine Delso Picpoul de Pinet 2012
Pale straw green with aromas of  lime and subtle rose notes. Light-bodied, refreshing acidity, and flavours of  pear, citrus, and flower petals. ***

Gerard Betrand Terrior Minervois 2010
Dark garnet colour with a bouquet of smoke, blackcurrant, and briar. Medium-bodied with garrigue notes, cherry, and plum. Good length with soft tannins.  ***

Domaines Paul Mas GSM Coteaux du Languedoc 2011
Ruby purple colour. Aromas of blackberry, voilets, and mineral. Medium to full-bodied with plum, blackberry, licorice, tobacco, with a finish of spice and savoury herbs. Good value. ****

Saint-Saturnin Le Clocher Languedoc 2010
Garnet red with black plum aromas. Medium-bodied with soft tannins, and flavours of earth, strawberry, and plum. ***

Domaine de Babio Minervois 2009
Ruby red with complex aromas of spice, liquorice, and red fruits. Medium to full-bodied, with youthful tannins, mineral, fruit compote, and meaty undertones. Good complexity and length. ****

Antech Cuvee Expression Cremant de Limoux 2009
Pale straw yellow with good mousse. Aromas of biscuit, nut, brioche, and granny smith apple. Medium-bodied, creamy textured palate, and flavours of honeyed apple, lime,  nuts, brioche, and a hint of sweet pear. ****

Restaurants participating in the Languedoc Wine Bar Crawl

Provence/The Wine Bar              1167  Marineside Crescent           @TWB_TheWineBar
Brix                                             138 Homer Street                         @brixvan
Seasons in the Park                     QE Park                                       @SeasonsinQEPark
Siena                                           1485 West 12th                             @SienaVancouver

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Trilogy and Symphony of Sherry | Gonzalez Byass

Last month I had the opportunity attend a sit down  trade  tasting of Sherry Gonzalez Byass at the Salt Tasting Room Cellar in Vancouver.

What makes Sherry unique?  Think of it in the form of trilogies from region, production, and style.  
The Holy Trinity is  Palomino, PX, and American oak. Palomino and Pedro Ximenez –  two of the key grape varieties for Sherry production, along with the use of American oak, and  biological or oxidative ageing create the pillars of this amazing wine.

Three towns create a triangle of production in the D.O. Jerez-Xeres of Southeast Spain. Sherry production occurs between the towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Puerto de Santa Maria & Sanlucar de Barrameda and covers just under 11,000 ha of vineyards. Soils within this triangle are Albarizas, Barros, and Arenas. The Albariza (white) soil comprising of Oligocene period calcium carbonate producing the best Sherry. Palomino, PX, and Moscatel are the three grapes solely used in Sherry production within this demarcated region.

The winemaking threesome involves production influenced by biological, oxidative aging,  and the solera system.  Their influence produces three styles of wine; dry, naturally sweet, and blended. Sherry is part of the fortified wine family involving the addition of wine distillate making Sherry  between 15 and 20% abv.  The freshest Sherry, Fino and Manzanilla, owe their style to the interaction of “Flor” a natural occurring yeast and its biological prevention of oxidation from within a 5/6th full barrel. Olorosso is an oxidative style with constant exposure to air in the barrel.  The Solera “Floor” system is a blending process of old with young wines that allows a young wine to take on the qualities of its older siblings. Oak butts “botas” are scaled in rows three to four high with Sherry of various ages. The blending process “running of the scales” ensures the quality and characteristics of the Sherry are maintained. Sherry has to be aged a minimum of three years before release.

Tio Pepe Fino $21.99
Pale straw green with aromas of almond, hazelnut, green olive, and  yeast. Light to medium-bodied, with crisp acidity, apple, nut, and salty bread notes. Good length, concentration, and unctuous. 100% Palomino| Biological ageing | Flor ageing 5 years | 15% abv ****

Leonor Palo Cortado $NA
Light amber colour with complex aromas of buttered Brazil nut and antique wood. Medium-bodied with lots of concentration, nut, quince, baked apricot, and yeast notes. 100% Palomino | Oxidative Ageing | 12 years in Solera | 20% abv ****(*)

Apostoles Rare Old Soleras VORS $34.99
Amber with green tinge. Complex bouquet of spice, burnt sugar, and iodine. Medium to full-bodied, concentrated, some residual sugar, nice balance of sweet and savoury. Caramel, old oak, and a long salty toffee note dominate. 87% Palomino, 13% PX | Oxidative ageing | 30 years in Solera | 20% abv ****(*)

Nutty Solera Olorosso $17.99
Amber colour, a nose of nut and light molasses, on the palate flavours of nut, spice, biscuit, and a hint of earth. Light Christmas pudding flavours. 100% Palomino | Oxidative ageing | 8 years in Solera | 20% abv ***

Croft Cream Sherry $17.99
Straw green with cheese croissant aromas. Off-dry with a baked apple skin and a savoury salty finish. Good entry level introduction to Sherry. Popular in Kenya according to their export director. 100% Palomino | Solera aged | Blended dry & sweet must | 4 years old ***

Noe Pedro Ximenez $34.99
Ebony black colour with a tantalising bouquet of baked raisins. Full-bodied, unctuously sweet, and loaded with complex flavours of with dried fruits (raison, date, and fig), liquorice, cinnamon, walnut, and coffee.  100% PX | Oxidative ageing | 30 years Solera ageing | 15.5% abv ****(*)


5 Stars *****                    Outstanding 
4 1/2 stars ****(*)             Very Good to Outstanding
4 Stars ****                     Very Good
3 Stars ***                       Good
2 Stars **                        Moderately Good
1 Star *                           Not very good, but not bad

Sherry Cheating Tip - Think Nuts

Almonds = Fino & Manzanilla

Brazils = Amontillado/Oloroso
Walnut = PX & Aged Solera (VOS/VORS)