Friday, April 17, 2015

Happy Malbec World Day! Celebrate April 17 with a Malbec from Argentina, France, BC or anywhere!

Today is Malbec World Day - a day to celebrate the Malbec grape that makes delicious wines in countries around the globe.

But it is Argentina that invented Malbec World Day to help promote its flagship varietal, a grape that thrives in South America.

There are many good and great Malbecs available in British Columbia - pick one out for tonight's meal or just a glass.

Personally, I'm going to open one of my favourites - the 2011 Vina Cobos Bramare Malbec from the Lujan de Cuyo appellation.  It is rated 91 points by the Wine Spectator and 90 by Robert Parker.

And it is a premium wine - BC Liquor Stores sell it for $39.19 before taxes - so about $45.  There are 370 bottles available in 30 stores across BC and you may also find it in private wine stores.

Cinnamon and smoke, cassis and cherry, blueberry - loads of flavour!

It is a fantastic wine and if you try it I believe you will completely agree with me that it is special.

But you can celebrate Malbec World Day with much more modestly priced Malbecs and still be very happy indeed.  

Norton's Malbec Reserva 2011 from Mendoza in Argentina is still in some BC Liquor Stores and on sale for $15.69 plus taxes - about $20 and is on the Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2013 - ranked 92 points!  And if the 2012 is on the shelf, it's rated 90 points - so you're still doing really well.

Malbec is to me the quintessential steak wine - but it is very flexible and goes with many foods - meat or vegetarian.

So crack open a Malbec and celebrate - tonight or anytime!


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Must-visit tables at the Vancouver International Wine Festival this afternoon and tonight - Saturday

This represents less than a half-hour's worth of wine to taste at the VIWF!
Okay - it's the last day of one of North America's biggest and best consumer's wine event - the Vancouver International Wine Festival - and you're going!  

So what are you going to consume?

The theme is Australia - so lots of wineries are here that don't ordinarily make it to our shores.

But there are some countries who have really brought their best game - and best wines - so you don't want to go Aussie-only.

And there's only 2 hours in the afternoon tasting or 3 hours in the evening to taste wines: that means you have to be super strategic - and that's where the Wine Barbarian comes in!

I have been attending events all week - not that I've visited anywhere near all the 170 wineries or tasted the 750+ wines at the International tastings - but I've made a good try!

So here are some of my must-visit tables and wines - with no offence to any winery that I did or did not visit previously - and I'll be there tonight to find new gems, so follow me on Twitter at @BillTieleman and check the hashtag #VIWF to see what my colleagues and other consumers are drinking and raving about.

Meanwhile, don't miss these - and make sure you realize that the Australia section is organized by region, NOT alphabetical:

Inland Trading Co:  Greg Corra, Managing Director, is a regular at VIWF and always brings the best from Barrossa Valley - but he has outdone himself this year!  The most expensive wine in the room is also perhaps the most delicious - Greenock Creek Roennfeldt Road Shiraz 2005 - at at stunning $429 a bottle.  You read that right and it's being poured for the people - most impressive.  
Greenock Creek 2005 Shiraz

Ranked at 98 points by Robert Parker, saying: "It presents and incredible array of pronounced spice, earth, floral and savory aromas: blackberry preserves, dried mulberries, coffee, grilled duck, vanilla, cloves, fenugreek, violets and dried rose petals plus some shavings of dark chocolate."  

I didn't get all that but I did get bloody marvellous!  And that's after you taste the remarkably good Charles Cimicky Trumps Shiraz 2012 for just $24 - a bargain - and the 3 Rings Shiraz 2012 which is even more affordable at $20.

But Greg also brought another showstopper to the table - his Jasper Hill Shiraz 2012 at $100 a bottle - stunningly good.  That makes this the place to visit.  And Inland Trading also has another awesome Greenock Creek Shiraz - the Apricot Block - at the Epicurious Table along with a Charles Cimicky Autograph Shiraz that's delicious and a Phillip Shaw No. 11 Chardonnay and The Conductor Merlot nearby that you will enjoy.

Damilano - from Piedmont, Italy has brought not one but four great Barolos to taste - and three of them are $95 each!  All beautiful and different - plus a Moscato d'Asti 2013.  Whether you prefer the Brunate - my fave - or the Cannubi or the Cerequio or the Lecinquevigne, you will have to admit they are each fantastic!

Three of Damilano's great Barolos.
Silver Oak Cellars/Twomey Cellars - from Napa Valley has also a real treat - not one but two of California's most highly regarded Cabernet Sauvignons - the Silver Oak Alexander Valley 2010 and the Napa Valley 2009 - both delicious.  In addition, try the Twomey Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and Merlot 2010 - you won't be disappointed at this table!

Savour Australia - BC Liquor Stores special table - what a one-stop shop this is - all rare Aussie wines that are only here for the show - and not to be missed!  When my friend David Hopgood - the former buyer for the Liquor Stores and now a consultant - says go there, I do - and thank goodness!  There are 11 fabulous whites and reds that you must taste - from a great Bellwether Chardonnay 2011 at $43 from Tasmania to a Bindi Kostas Rind Chardonnay 2013 from the Macedon Ranges area that reminds of Chablis to a beautiful Moorooduc Robinson Pinot Noir 2012 from Mornington that simply stuns at $50 to a huge, jammy, giant Jamsheed Garden Gully Shiraz 2013 from the Great Western region of Central Victoria - you will be mightily impressed!  And head to the onsite store quickly to get any. 

Penfolds - the big boy of Aussie wines does not disappoint - particularly try their Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2010 at $70 and their Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2010 - one of my favourites at $40. 

Stina - it means stone and they come from the island of Brac in Croatia!  Four fascinating wines all well worth tasting - from the Posip 2013 white at $50 to the Plavac Mail Majstor 2010 red at $60 and the Plavac Mail Barrique 2010 at $45 to a unique Prosek 2011 dessert wine blend at $100 they are all delicious.  And what a great opportunity to taste a wine you've likely never encountered before.

Canada is well represented and brought some fine wines too.  Make sure to visit the Okanagan's Painted Rock Estate Winery - the Red Icon 2012 especially at $55; Cassini Cellars with The Godfather at $70 commanding your attention; Laughing Stock with its always great Portfolio 2012 at $45 and Poplar Grove with its Legacy at $50, plus many others from BC.

Duckhorn - some more great wines from Napa Valley - especially their Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2011 - but a great table all round.

Signorello - almost a BC wine because Ray Signorello Jr. is partly from West Vancouver.  Their Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 is smooth and great at $98; the Vieille Vignes Chardonnay 2013 is balanced and beautiful and the Seta 2013 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc is always great.

Well - time is up for me but as I said, check my Tweets out on Twitter @BillTieleman and the #VIWF Twitter hashtag for even more tips today and tonight!  

Hope to see you there tonight - say hi if you spot me!

Cheers - Bill Tieleman, the Wine Barbarian

Bill Tieleman - the Wine Barbarian - at Romanee-Conti in Burgundy

Still a few Saturday Vancouver International Wine Festival events with tickets left for Saturday afternoon - don't miss out!

The Table of Temptation - for me - Damilano brought three $95  delicious Barolos for you to taste!    
It's Saturday - and if you don't act fast, the Vancouver International Wine Festival will be history for 2015!

But amazingly, there are still 3 excellent opportunities this afternoon to have a few glasses of the best wines in the world - especially from Australia.

Saturday afternoon's International Wine Tasting from 3 to 5 p.m. is still available - two hours of tasting the best wines from around the world for just $68 - so get online or on the phone to 604-873-3311 to buy your tickets.

Friday's Montes: 25 Years and Beyond wines seminar with winemaker Aurelio Montes, right, and host David Scholefield, left.
And there's a McLaren Vale Scarce Earth seminar for $55 at 5:15 to 6:45 p.m. or at the same time a Mod Oz seminar for $45.  Both sound great - the first on the famed McLaren Vale area of Australia and its wines; the second on modern Australian winemaking techniques - and the tasty results.

The Festival has been great - loads of fantastic wines from Australia and many other countries, informative seminars where you drink and learn - and you would be remiss to not take this last chance to find out for yourself!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Better hurry if you want to attend the fabulous Vancouver International Wine Festival 2015 - events selling out fast!

Tasting in style at last year's Vancouver International Wine Festival
One of the biggest and best wine events in North America opens next month - and tickets are disappearing quickly already!

The Vancouver International Wine Festival runs from February 20 to March 1 with dozens of great events from the International Festival Tastings with hundreds of wines and wineries to small, intimate seminars to delicious wine dinners - but you literally have to move fast to get tickets before it's too late.

You can check out all VIWF events here to see what's happening and what is still available.

Unfortunately, the flagship Saturday night International Festival Tasting is already sold out but Thursday and Friday night's 3-hours of wine grazing greatness are still available at $89 per ticket, from 7 to 10 p.m.  Or go Saturday afternoon for 2 hours from 3 to 5 p.m. for just $68.  

The good news is that you cannot fail to get far more than your money's worth with the amazing wines there to taste - some of which run well upwards of $100 a bottle!

This year's regional theme is Australia - and who doesn't like a hardy - or Hardy - Shiraz or Syrah or a delicious Grenache Syrah Mouvedre or a big Chardonnay from a country whose wines are always a top seller in BC.  And the global wine theme is Syrah this year.

But better still, you can taste Aussie wines that we don't ordinarily find in BC - one of the charms of the VIWF is bringing new faces and bottles to BC.

And it's not all Australian - wines from France, Italy, Spain, the United States, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and many more countries are also prominently featured.

Another advantage:  the VIWF insists each winery send a principal player in their operation to attend - and many winemakers are your pourer at their tasting booths, giving you the chance to ask about brix, malolactic fermentation, choice of oak for barrel aging, terroir's impact on their wines and how they survive the wine circuit with livers and wits still intact!

If you like food with wine - you also need to hurry - because 10 of 16 sumptuous wine dinner are now sold out.  But those remaining - and going fast - are all excellent choices.

Whatever you do, whatever your taste, if you like wine you simply do not want to miss this great event - and I haven't for the last 24 consecutive years!

Check out this blog for tips on what to try at the VIWF closer to the big International Festival Tastings - because with you need advice when there are up to 750 wine available to taste - even if you attend all three nights, it's not advisable to try 250 wines per evening!  [If you see me there, ask about my personal best! ;-) ]

In addition to the Festival website pages linked above, you can find out more by checking the Twitter hashtag #VIWF or following @VanWineFest on Twitter.

See you there!

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