Saturday, March 28, 2009

Top winery picks for Playhouse Wine Festival Saturday Night

The Wine Barbarian outside Saturday night's wine festival

With over 183 different wineries from 15 unique countries providing over 1600 wines it is literally impossible to advise anyone attending tonight's Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival tasting which wines to try.

But I can give you a few recommendations based on my three visits to the tasting room so far!

I've had great wines from all over but here's a few wineries or tables with one or more wineries represented that you should not miss:

Long Shadows - From Walla, Walla Washington - big beautiful reds and a killer riesling - I bought some and don't even like rielsling that much!

Inland Trading - always some of the best Australian shiraz available - including from the fabulous Rolf Binder.

Majella Wines - Some of Coonawarra's nicest wines - cab, shiraz and sparkling.

Deutz - Champagne, including a vintage 1998 that will make you consider the second mortgage needed to buy a case - at $175 a bottle, one of the Festival's most expensive.

Catena - Viva Malbec! But also a great reserve cabernet sauvignon.

Magnanimus Wine Group - All organic wines from Mendocino, California - try especially the Old River Road cabernet.

Byron - If you saw Sideways - the movie - you know that Santa Barbara makes delicious pinot noir and chardonnay - great stuff here.

Working Horse Winery - Wines from this new BC organic winery from veteran Tilman Hainle can only be tried at Puddifoot's display and tasting from the fantastic Riedel glasses - the only glasses I use at home. Tilman was BC's first organic winemaker and his new pinot noir ice wine is unbelievable - and unbelievably rare!

Osoyoos Larose - This BC-French joint venture in the Okanagan is producing amazing Bordeaux-blend wines - not surprising when the French half is Gruaud Larose!

Olivier Leflaive Wines - Best chardonnay in the house -the $115 Puligny-Montrachet premier cru Champ Gain - formidable! Magnifique!

But there's so much more - I hope you have a chance to taste some of it, as the Festival is of course, sold out!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bill Tieleman speaks at Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival trade show on organic wines

Facilitator Glenn Sigurdson & host Tony Gismondi
at Eco-Friendly Wine event

I was very pleased to be asked to speak at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival's trade show panel titled: "Eco-friendly Wine: Over-hyped, Over-priced? A Symposium on Green Wine Marketing" on Wednesday.

An international panel of experts discussed organic certification, biodynamic wine growing, new trends in ecologically better packaging and much more.

Tony Gismondi, the Vancouver Sun wine columnist and editor of Wine Access, hosted the event.

Among those on the panel were: Jean-Charles Boisset, President, Boisset Family Estate, France; Jose Asensio, Export Director, Familia Zuccardi Winery of Argentina; Tilman Hainle, Owner and Winemaker, Working Horse Winery, BC; Robert Hill Smith, Owner, Yalumba Winery - Australia; Barbara Philip, Master of Wine - Vancouver; Owsley Brown III, President, Magnanimus Wine Group - California and Anthony Nicalo of Farmstead Wines - a BC-based importer.

Watch for a full write up here soon.

But in the meantime, Vancouver writer Peter Mitham has a good account of the panel discussion for the California-based Wines and Vines magazine's website, including quoting yours truly. Wines and Vines is a trade publication for the wine and grape industry.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fabulous Barnett Vineyards wine tasting

Bill Tieleman and David Tate, winemaker - Barnett Vineyards

I was fortunate to attend a private wine tasting of fabulous white and red wines from Barnett Vineyards in Napa Valley's Spring Mount District and to meet winemaker David Tate, who is originally from BC.

The March 1 tasting showcased some of Barnett's premium red wines, including the exclusive 2006 Rattlesnake Hill cabernet sauvignon, which retails for US $120 and the 2006 Cyrus Ryan cabernet sauvignon, which sells for $90 US.

The Rattlesnake Hill is a beautiful, intense and tightly-wound wine from a small rocky knoll on Spring Mountain. It shows deep cassis, violet and chocolate backed by blackberry fruit.

The Cyrus Ryan is a sharp contrast, as it comes from the Napa Valley floor - not Spring Mountain - near the Silverado Trail. Much more open now than the Rattlesnake Hill, it shows black cherry, currant and raspberry on the nose.

Both beautiful wines and both will easily age for 10 years without a doubt.

David - who calls Nanaimo "home" - has a remarkable winemaking pedigree, especially for a young guy. He's was assistant winemaker at the legendary Ridge Vineyards for five years until joining Barnett in 2007.

Before that he worked in Australia with J&J Hahn, a premium winemaker in the Barossa Valley, and St. Hallett's. David also spent time in Provence, France at Domaine Richeaume.

While the premium wines show what can be done with great grapes in the hands of a talented winemaker, the other wines in the lineup are also very impressive.

The flagship Barnett wine, the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District, has garnered a 91 point rating from the Wine Spectator and is a great wine.

It retails for Cdn $88 and is available in BC Liquor Stores and some private outlets.Barnett wines can also be special ordered through agents New World Wines, who helped bring David and his wines to Vancouver. Thanks to New World Wines' Peter and Elizabeth Crews, who attended the event.

Other wines tasted included a powerful 2007 Merlot from Spring Mountain District that showed intense black cherry and pomegranate fruit. It retails for $70.

An unusual approach to the 2007 Tina Marie Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley pays off. The wine was partly aged "sur lees" and the results are good - a black raspberry, cherry and violet nose. It retails for $60. Last year's vintage earned a 91 point rating from the Wine Spectator.

Barnett also produces a very big white, the 2007 Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay from Sonoma-Carneros. It is a classic California chard with lots of fruit and honeysuckle, jasmine, spice and peach notes. It retails for Cdn $50 and was rated 90 points by the Wine Spectator.