VIWF Part 4: We finish up the host region, California!!

Table 23: Kendall-Jackson

Kendall-Jackson 2017 Vintner’s Reserve Rosé – 86
Kendall-Jackson 2016 Jackson Estate Hawkeye Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon – 89
Kendall-Jackson 2017 Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay – 88

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Table 24: Kenwood Vineyards

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Table 26: La Crema

La Crema 2017 Monterey Rosé – 86
La Crema 2017 Monterey Chardonnay – 88
La Crema 2017 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay – 89

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Table 29: Louis M Martini Winery

Louis M Martini 2016 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon – 88
Louis M Martini 2016 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 89
Louis M Martini 2015 Lot 1 Cabernet Sauvignon – 92

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Table 31: Michael David Winery

Michael David Winery 2016 Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon – 88
Michael David Winery 2015 Freakshow Red Blend – 87

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Table 32: Oak Ridge Winery

Oak Ridge Winery 2016 Old Soul Cabernet Sauvignon – 88
Oak Ridge Winery 2016 Old Soul Petite Sirah – 89

Table 42: Signorello Estate

Signorello Estate 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – 92

Table 43: Silver Oak Cellars

Silver Oak 2014 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Twomey Cellars 2016 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Twomey Cellars 2017 Sauvignon Blanc

Silver Oak 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 94+
Twomey Cellars 2014 Soda Canyon Merlot – 92+

Table 44: Silverado Vineyards

Silverado Vineyards 2017 Estate Grown Vineburg Chardonnay – 87
Silverado Vineyards 2017 Estate Grown Miller Ranch Sauvignon Blanc – 90

Table 45: St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery

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Table 47 Stag’s Leap Winery

Stag’s Leap Winery 2016 Napa Valley Petite Sirah – 89
Stag’s Leap Winery 2017 Napa Valley Viognier – 87
Stag’s Leap Winery 2016 Napa Valley Merlot – 88

Table 48: Talbott Vineyards

Talbott Vineyards 2016 Kali Hart Pinot Noir – 91
Talbott Vineyards 2015 Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir – 90
Talbott Vineyards 2016 Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay – 89

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Table 51: Trefethen Family Vineyards

Trefethen Family Vineyards 2016 Estate Chardonnay – 88
Trefethen Family Vineyards 2016 Estate Dragon’s Tooth – 89

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Table 52: Wagner Family of Wine

Wagner 2016 Conundrum White – 87
Wagner 2015 Red Schooner Malbec Voyage 6 – 86
Wagner 2016 Emmolo Merlot – 88
Wagner 2016 Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc – 87 

Table 53: Wente Vineyards

Wente Vineyards 2016 Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon – 85
Wente Vineyards 2014 Riva Ranch Single Vineyard Pinot Noir – 88
Wente Vineyards 2016 Riva Ranch Single Vineyard Chardonnay – 92

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Well, that finally wraps up California! We sure discovered some terrific wine, and we are really well stocked up on Cabernet, Chardonnay and Zinfandel!

Next up! Lots more great stuff to go over from Wine Fest…..I might split up the rest of the world into two posts, I have not decided yet, but I’ll get going on those this weekend. Stay tuned!


VIWF, Part 3: The host region: CALIFORNIA!!!! – Part 1

It was a good festival. Oh, so much wine.

Festival wine
That’s what 70 bottles of wine looks like. Time to get drinking!

This just in: California makes good wine.


Interesting host region for us this year: We already know a ton about California wine. We have belonged to four California wine clubs (three in Napa, one in Sonoma) and we frequently buy wine from California and have it shipped to our package place in Sumas and drive it across the border. So, we figure this week would be about finding some new wineries we weren’t familiar with, and maybe finding some gems that we have previously overlooked. It seems unlikely that we are going to suddenly discover something completely new and different, but you never know.

As in previous years, I will give just my scores for a bunch of the wines (let’s face it, if I did an in-depth review of every wine I tasted I wouldn’t be finished in time for NEXT YEAR’S festival), and full reviews of everything we bought, or wanted to buy but was sold out, and a few other interesting wines as well. Here we go!

I will post the table name and number, which are in alphabetical order. Some booths have labels that may seem out of place but I assure you they are not. A lot of times they have subsidiary labels (ie Silver Oak and Twomey). There were 53 California tables. If a table number is missing, we just didn’t get there.

Table 1:  B. R. Cohn Winery

B.R. Cohn 2016 Silver Label Pinot Noir – 86
B.R. Cohn 2016 Silver Label Chardonnay – 86
B.R. Cohn 2016 Silver Label Cabernet Sauvignon – 89

BR Cohn 2016 Olive Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Table 2: Beaulieu Vineyard

Beaulieu Vineyard 2016 Napa Valley Carneros Chardonnay – 89
Beaulieu Vineyard 2015 Napa Valley Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon – 89
Beaulieu Vineyard 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 90
Beaulieu Vineyard 2015 Napa Valley Merlot – 89
Beaulieu Vineyard 2014 Reserve Tapestry – 89

Table 3: Benzinger Family Winery

Benzinger Family 2015 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 89
Benzinger Family 2016 Chardonnay – 89
Benzinger Family 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – 88
Benzinger Family 2014 Tribute – 91

Benzinger Family Winery 2015 Merlot

Table 4: Beringer Vineyards 

Beringer Vineyards 2016 Napa Valley Chardonnay – 90
Beringer Vineyards 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 90
Beringer Vineyards 2015 Quantum Red Blend – 90

Beringer Brothers 2016 Bourbon Barrel Aged Red Wine Blend

Table 5: Black Stallion Estate Winery/Delicato Family Vineyards

Black Stallion Estate Winery 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

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Delicato Family Vineyards 2016 Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon.png

Delicate Family Vineyards 2017 Noble Vines 242 Sauvignon Blanc – 87

Table 7: Don Sebastiani & Sons

Don Sebastiani & Sons 2016 Gunsight Rock – 88
Don Sebastiani & Sons 2016 B Side Chardonnay – 88
Don Sebastiani & Sons 2016 B Side Pinot Noir – 88
Don Sebastiani & Sons 2016 Crusher Petit Sirah – 87

Table 8: Duckhorn Wine Company

Duckhorn Vineyards 2016 Napa Valley Chardonnay – 88
Duckhorn Vineyards 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 89
Paraduxx 2015 Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine – 89

Calera 2016 Pinot Noir

Table 9: Gallo Signature Series

We had the most lovely chat with winemaker Gina Gallo. Yes, Gallo. THAT Gallo.

Don’t let the name “Gallo” scare you off; they make a lot of great wine in addition to the entry-level Ernest and Julio Gallo stuff that comes in boxes and tastes closer to turpentine than fine wine. There is a market for that stuff (OBVIOUSLY), but they also make a million other wines, many of which are of excellent quality. And Gina was a delight….knowledgeable and giving and so pleasant. I think she would have chatted with us for an hour if we didn’t have other wines to taste!

Gallo Signature Series 2016 Dry Creek Zinfandel

Gallo Signature Series 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Gallo Signature Series 2016 Russian River Valley Chardonnay – 88
Gallo Signature Series 2016 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir – 90

Table 10: Geyser Peak Winery

Geyser Peak Winery 2017 Pinot Grigio – 87
Geyser Peak Winery 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – 89

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Table 11: Girard Winery

Wow, this is the epitome of what we were hoping to find: a winery we were not familiar with, pouring across-the-board quality wines.

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Table 12: Grgich Hills Estate

Grgich Hills 2015 Napa Valley Chardonnay – 86
Grgich Hills 2016 Napa Valley Fumé Blanc – 86
Grgich Hills 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 90

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Table 13: Hahn Family Winery

Hahn Family Wines 2017 GSM – 87
Hahn Family Wines 2017 Monterey County Chardonnay – 86
Hahn Family Wines 2017 Monterey County Pinot Noir – 88

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Table 14: Hall/Walt

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Hall 2015 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon – 94+
Walt 2016 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay – 87
Walt 2016 La Brisa Sonoma County Pinot Noir – 88

Table 15: The Hess Collection

Hess Select 2014 Trio Red Blend – 89
Hess Select 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – 89

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Table 16: Hope Family Winery

Liberty School 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – 86
Liberty School 2016 Chardonnay – 85
Treana 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – 89

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Table 17: Imagery Estate

Imagery Estate 2016 Chardonnay – 86
Imagery Estate 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – 86
Imagery Estate 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – 91
Imagery Estate 2016 Pinot Noir – 85

Table 18: J. Lohr Vineyards

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J Lohr 2015 Hilltop Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – 92
J Lorh 2016 Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon – 88

Table 19: Jackson Family Wines

Freemark Abbey 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 89
Cambria 2015 Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – 88
Copain 2017 Tous Ensemble Rosé – 86
Stonestreet Estate 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – 88

Table 21: Josh Cellars/Joseph Carr

Josh Cellars 2017 Chardonnay – 87
Josh Cellars 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles Reserve – 90
Josh Cellars 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – 88
Joseph Carr 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – 87

Table 22: Justin Vineyards and Winery

Justin Vineyards and Winery 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – 85
Justin Vineyards and Winery 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – 88
Justin Vineyards and Winery 2015 Isosleles – 89
Justin Vineyards and Winery 2015 Justification – 88


Enough for today! We will finish up California in the next post, and then move onto the rest of the world!



VIWF: The finale! DINE ITALIA!

Calling a bit of an audible here, since my festival wine has not yet arrived in my local BC Liquor Store and I need that to properly finish off my festival reports….so I’m going to do the finale first.

In cases where the wine would be tough to find in local markets, I have provided the importer and their contact info in the “Notes” sections of the wine reviews.

It’s tough to imagine a better way to end this festival every year than this event. This year we had company, as our dear friends Travis and Melissa joined in on the fun. The four of us were seated at the smallest table, which sat only six, and we were joined by Valentina Abbona, the lovely Director of Marketing for Marchesi di Barolo, and Jason, a local agent for her winery (and others). They were both delightful company for the afternoon.

Valentina, in particular, was passionate about her brand. It took us a while to find out that she was not just the Director of Marketing, but the SIXTH generation of this family winery! She travels almost 200 days a year to promote her brand. Her father is the winemaker. This is a huge family business in a little town in Barolo.

She is the kind of person who could convince a drowning man to buy water, if you know what I mean. What a pleasure it was to sit and chat with her during this amazing lunch.

Although, I was a little nervous rating her wine while she sat right next to me; hopefully it didn’t suck!! 🙂

Dine Italia group picture
Tracey, Valentina, Melissa, the author, Travis, and Jason.

As always, they started us off with a little bubbly as we waited for the main courses to begin.


Seared yellowfin tuna, cucumber – pepper vinaigrette, aged balsamic drizzle

Not a fan of tuna OR cucumber, but this was pretty tasty.

Masi Agricola NV Canevel Campfalco DOCG


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Pan seared diver scallop, Jerusalem artichoke puree, local Two Rivers heritage bacon, apple-fennel salad.

They substituted a beautiful caprese salad for my wife who can’t eat scallops. Both dishes were fantastic.

Two wines with this course. I felt the first one was a better pairing, but I was in the minority at my table I believe.

di lenardo Vineyards 2017 FriulanoUmani Ronchi 2017 Casal di Serra Verdicchio Classico Superiore


Pasta envelopes filled with smoked caciocavallo, sage brown butter, mushroom tea, crisp Parmiggiano Reggiano flakes.

Every year we come here they serve us a fantastic pasta dish, and this one might have topped them all. Incredible. Oh, caciocavallo is a smoked cheese….I had to look that up!

At this point we switched over to the reds, and two more pairing with this course. The Chianti paired beautifully with the food, the other one, not at all.

Vini Tonon 2012 Rosso del Camul

Rocca delle Macie 2015 Chianti Classico


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Roasted veal tenderloin, sherry – rosemary demi glaze, sun dried tomato – polenta cake, rapini.

Oh my. I have become quite the fan of veal. Another dish that was off-the-charts delicious.

Altesino 2013 Brunello di Montalcino

Carpineto 2013 Brunello di Montalcino



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Sous Vide double crusted lamb rack, fontina scallop potato, honey glazed heirloom carrots, 25yr balsamic reduction

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, lamb is not my thing, but this was freaking spectacular.  I guess I am becoming a lamb fan, too.

Let’s face it, I’m a fan of almost anything when cooked by world-class chefs. Makes all the difference in the world.

Three wines to pair with this one, one of which was Sordo Ravera Barolo, which we tasted and I reviewed here at our Barolo dinner earlier this week.

Tenuta Argentiera 2016 Villa Donoratico

Oh, and Valentina need not worry about my thoughts on her wine!

Marchesi di Barolo 2014 Barolo DOCG Cannubi


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Taleggio, Parmigiano Reggiano, Aged Asiago, Cranberry raisin crisps, fresh fruit, candied nuts, essence honey & Crisp almond puff pastry, caramelized apple – vanilla bean creme, gold leaf, dark chocolate spear, apple tuile.

Outside of the cranberry raisin monstrosities, this was another perfect dish. Superb.

Talk about a perfect pairing with this decadent beauty!

Donnafugata 2016 Ben Rye Passito di Pantelleria

Well that’s it! Another year, another fantastic experience. Big thanks to Julio and his entire team at La Terrazza for putting on a great lunch as always.

Next up: Hopefully my wine arrives in the near future so I can finish my reviews of everything we tasted, and bought, from the festival tasting room.



VIWF Part 1: Sardo’s Barolo dinner at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar!

OK, here we go, first blog post of this year’s VIWF; I was not expecting to be able to get one done while the festival was still ongoing, not because of time constraints, but because using only my laptop presents quite a challenge. You see, the boxes that have all the information on the wine, including the score and price, etc, are just images that I create by using a snapshot program. Basically I highlight what I want, and take a “picture” of it and insert that image into the blog. Easy, normally, but because I have only my laptop, and not my large monitor, I can’t actually select the entire image; my laptop screen is too small. I’ve found a workaround that entails copying and pasting from Excel to Word and then creating an image…problem is that the images are smaller than I like. I’ve made them bigger below, but that causes them to look a little blurry. Apologies if anyone has issues with reading anything in those images. Now, enough of the housekeeping, let’s get to it!

Full disclosure: This is one of the last restaurants in Vancouver we would frequent on a normal night. Nothing against the restaurant, but it specializes in oysters which the wife is allergic to and I don’t like, and seafood which the wife doesn’t eat. But, given that this was a Barolo tasting, and it was unlikely that they were going to pair Barolo with shellfish, or fish in general, we decided to give this event a shot.

One more note of housekeeping below: The prices that are listed as at the “BC Liquor Store”, as far as I know that is only at the on-site BC Liquor Store at the festival itself, not in regular BC Liquor Stores. You may have to search to find these after the festival is over.

The event was a tasting of Sardo, a well-known winery from Barolo, who brought us their entry-level offering plus three single-vineyard wines, and a white and a surprise at the end. We were joined by their Director of Marketing, Elisa, straight from Italy, and their local agent, Italo. Both were terrific, friendly, warm and knowledgeable. There were a few VIP’s at our table as well, including Sid Cross, the co-founder of The Chefs’ Table Society of BC. I honestly did not know who he was, but apparently he is kind of a big deal in the world of local food and wine.



Going in, we thought this was kind of a nightmare menu for us. The wife can’t eat oysters, has never had Beef Carpaccio in her life, and doesn’t much enjoy duck. I was pretty much in the same boat, minus the oyster allergy.

Thankfully they were more than willing to prepare her a chicken dish to replace the oyster. They were very accommodating.

Course 1:

Poached Sunseeker Oyster, blood orange, Calabrian chili crumb, crème fraîche, northern divine caviar

To say this was the best oyster I have had in my life would suggest I have had a bunch of oysters which is untrue…..but this was really delicious. It might make me reconsider my distaste for oysters. And it paired beautifully with the only white wine served tonight.

Sardo 2017 Rapuje Bianco

Course 2:

Beef Carpaccio, porcini aioli, pickled shiitakes, marcona almonds, porcini tuile, parmesan

To say this was the best Beef Carpaccio I have had in my life would suggest I have had a bunch of Beef Carpaccio which is untrue…..but this was really delicious. It might make me reconsider my distaste for Beef Carpaccio. And it paired beautifully with our first Barolo of the night.

And yes, I was able to simply copy and paste that paragraph above and change “oyster” to “Beef Carpaccio”.

Sardo 2014 Barolo


Course 3:

Dry aged duck, foie gras farce, red cabbage purée, daikon sauerkraut, quince compote

To say this was the best…..OK, enough. I would never in a million years order duck in a restaurant, but in previous instances I have had no trouble eating in when served to me in fixed menu dinners like these. In this case, though, I could not eat this, even after asking the chef to cook it a bit more for me (which he happily obliged). Duck goes against my “no cute animals” stance and this one just wouldn’t go down.

Two wines to pair with this course.

Sardo 2012 Barolo RiveraSardo 2012 Barolo Perno

Course 4:

Roasted prime beef, bone marrow crusted Trevino, celeriac purée, sauce perigueux

Prime rib that looks like Filet Mignon. Delicious, and a beautiful pairing with the gorgeous wine they served with it. I was so full by this point I couldn’t even eat it all, so I brought the rest of it back to the hotel. The dog is going to get a treat tonight.

And, the wine that went with it was just as special as the beef.

Sardo 2004 Barolo Gabutti Riserva

If any of you are interested in purchasing this, the agent’s name is Italo Fionda, and he can be reached via Email. Tell him I sent you and get a 75% discount.


Course 5:

 Black Forest, dark chocolate mousse, poached sour cherry, cherry sorbet

Not exactly my idea of “Black Forest Cake”, but since I am not a huge fan of Black Forest Cake, I didn’t care. This was tasty. The wine they brought with it was something I have never heard of before, a dessert-style Barolo!

Sardo NV Barolo Chinato

All in all, a fun night. Not our menu, for sure, so next year we may stick to wine dinners where the menu is pre-published (some are, some are not) when buying the tickets.

Next up: In just hours, our first event in the tasting room at VIWF, the Thursday trade tasting. The blog will return…..soon.


Random selections from all over the world, including several from BC!

Going to start with a perfect pairing from last night’s dinner. Got this recipe online, and it is a world beater, for two reasons. First, it’s freaking delicious. Secondly, FOUR ingredients total if you count salt and pepper. Couldn’t be easier.

Filet Mignon with a Rich Balsamic Glaze

Oh, if you make this, do the glaze separately. No need to put them both in the same pan, that opens up the possibility of the glaze actually soaking into the meat which could affect how it cooks.

Now, to the wine. From time to time, at Xmas, the wife treats me to a “Dean bottle”; a wine that I am more likely to enjoy than she is. Generally, that means an aged Tempranillo (although she is coming around). I am not sure if it was Xmas 2016 or 2017, but this was one of those bottles.

Marques de Riscal 2005 Gran Reserva

Delicious, and complemented the steak perfectly.

A few other random bottles from around the world:

Another bottle that was a Xmas gift from the wife, 2 years ago. This is the entry-level effort from Pahlmeyer, a top Napa producer. Very tasty.

Pahlmeyer 2013 Jayson Chardonnay

Robert Mondavi knows Fumé Blanc (in fact he invented the term), and they currently make three: This one, from Oakville, is the middle of the three. The entry-level Napa version is easy to find in any BC Liquor store ($23ish), and the high-end one, available only from the winery I believe, is spectacular. The one in the middle is nice but a far cry from the best one.

Robert Mondavi 2014 Oakville Fumé Blanc

Here’s something you don’t see all the time, a Napa Chardonnay closing in on 7 years old, on BC Liquor Store shelves.

Signorello 2012 Vielles Vignes Chardonnay

This was our “backup bottle” from our recent Argentina theme night; just in case one of the reds we served was no good. That wasn’t the case, so we took it to a friend’s place for lunch last weekend. So different from BC Syrah (or Aussie Shiraz for that matter), but quite pleasant.

Elsa Bianchi 2016 Syrah

Ah yes, Provence rosé. There is nothing like it. Can’t wait until spring and the new crop.

Chateau d'Esclans 2017 Whispering Angel

Here is an interesting bottle; a gift from a friend that knew we were into wine but didn’t know much more than that. This is the one where you can scan the label and get a story about the crime committed by the crook on the label. Interesting gimmick. The wine isn’t something we would drink, BUT, I must confess, we put most of this into a pasta sauce that ended up in lasagne, and it was spectacular there. The sweetness of the wine complemented the sauce.

19 Crimes 2016 Dark Red

Now, let’s go to BC for some local treats! We will start with a very special one, part of Tinhorn Creek’s Innovation series. I had to ask them exactly what was so different about this wine, and this was their response:

The grapes were hand harvested in early October and were fermented whole cluster (no crushing or destemming) in open top fermenters and allowed to ferment naturally (no added yeast) for 25 days.  The whole berries and clusters go through a partial carbonic fermentation (void of oxygen) creating a unique flavour profile and texture to this wine that is more typical of Pinot Noir or Syrah.  As the yeast must work harder to get the sugar inside the berries these fermentations typically are cooler and are much less vigorous, leading to long, slow, gentle extraction of colour, tannin and flavour.  The wines were then pressed and racked to French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and aging.  The Innovation Series Whole Cluster Cabernet Franc was barrel aged for 16 months before racking, fining and minimal filtration.

The fruit was harvested from Red Brick Vineyard (Osoyoos – Anarchist Mountain).  Vines are 15 years old and the soil is sandy loam.

Tinhorn Creek 2016 Innovation Series Cabernet Franc

Some random beauties:

Quails Gate 2012 Old Vines Foch Reserve 7.59.36 AM

The Hatch 2017 Screaming Frenzy ChardonnayThe Hatch 2014 Screaming Frenzy Cabernet Franc

Here’s a couple from another high-end winery under the Von Mandl banner, Martin’s Lane:

Martins Lane 2014 Naramata Ranch Vineyard Pinot NoirMartins Lane 2014 Fritzi's Vineyard Riesling

That’s it for today, and probably that’s it for at least a week. Who knows, maybe I’ll find the time and inspiration to do a blog post about the VIWF during the festival itself, but no promises. Worst case, I will have a ton to report on when we return!


One great BC wine, a supermodel, a cookbook, and thou…..

So let’s talk a minute about wine pairings. Anyone who has ever had a glass of wine in their life has probably at least heard about them, or contemplated them. Those of us who take wine a little more seriously, which probably includes anyone reading this blog, know quite a bit about them. In today’s effort, I want to tell you about one of the most perfect pairings I have ever produced. And it was just a little recipe at lunch yesterday.

But we’ll get to that….first, the supermodel.

Chrissy Tiegen

Yeah, she’s kind of fetching, isn’t she? And she fancies herself a bit of a cook. And she is married to Uber-hunk (if you are into that sort of thing) John Legend. And she has written two cookbooks (so far). Oh, and if you aren’t following her on Twitter, you are missing out. She is hilarious.

I know what you are thinking….first, who the Hell buys cookbooks anymore when there are approximately 1.9 billion free recipes on this thing called ‘the Internet’?

Well, from time to time, you find a special one, and these would both qualify. I know, I know, she’s a supermodel, she can’t eat real food, right? She’s probably produced a “diet cookbook” full of kale and quinoa and other stuff that somehow qualifies as food these days.

Uh-uh. Real recipes, and some pretty great ones too. One of the best potato salads I have ever had. Definitely the best grilled cheese sandwich on the planet. And so many more.

Oh, and if you like Thai food, her mother is a crazy wicked Thai cook, and each cookbook has a section specifically for those recipes.

For lunch yesterday, I made this:

Spicy Jammy Drummies (this is someone else’s picture)


Insanely good. And the sauce would go with almost anything. Any kind of chicken, and probably any pork too. Ham? Oh yeah! In fact, the sauce was so good that next time I will DOUBLE it, so that my chicken is even more gooey and decadent.

And the wine that paired PERFECTLY with it? Here it is.

Screenshot 2019-02-23 08.32.59

The food was great. The wine was great. Together, they were sublime.

Pairing food and wine is a passion of mine, and sometimes I get it right, sometimes I miss horribly, and then, occasionally like yesterday, I freaking nail it. And it’s awesome when that happens!

Next up in the blog, a ton of more random stuff to tell you about. I’ll get at least one blog post done this weekend, and then I’ll be silent for a little while as we spend most of next week at the Vancouver International Wine Festival! Can’t wait!

My turn for our latest theme night, the first country to be repeated: ARGENTINA!

Well, we did it, we got through the entire list of countries that we were presenting for our “theme nights”.

OK that’s not totally true, we skipped two of them, but we will get back to those. Reasons.

For now, this was the first country to be repeated. And yes, I was playing music from “Evita” when the night began. I am not an animal.

A quick refresher on our first Argentina night, here. That was quite a night. It was actually the second one of these we ever had and it seems like a lifetime ago!

From our humble beginnings with just the four of us, our theme nights have branched out to include others. There were eight of us here enjoying some special food, special wine, and special company.

Links to the recipes are included.

Course 1:

Argentinian Proveleta with Grilled Chorizo, Olives and assorted cheeses

This was a bit of a disaster….I mean, the recipe calls for putting slices of Provolone cheese directly on the BBQ. What did I THINK was going to happen?!

It was tasty, once we scraped what was left of the cheese off the BBQ.

Elsa Bianchi 2017 Torrontés

Course 2:

Matambre w/Chimichurri Sauce

A stock photo, of course, but I gotta tell you, mine looked pretty close to that.

A dish I had never heard of, but I will make again. It was DEEEEEEEE-LISH-OUS.

Bodegas Escorihuela Gascon 2017 1884 Reservado Malbec

Vina Cabos 2015 Marchiori Vineyard Bramare Malbec

True story: I am in the BC Liquor Store at 39th and Cambie last week, not really intending to buy any wine, but there are 3 bottles that I am having trouble finding that I thought I would look for. I struck out on the first two, and was perusing the “Fine Wine” section when I came across this one…the LAST BOTTLE! I scooped that bad boy up tout d’suite. About 3 minutes later, I’m wandering around when another customer comes up to a sales clerk and asks him to find a wine…and shows him a picture of THIS! LOL. Sorry pal, MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE. The sales clerk wanders around, can’t find it, then eventually goes to the computer and finds out that they have one bottle in inventory.  I hear him say “Sorry, the computer must be wrong, I can’t find it”. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA SUCKER!!! 🙂

When we open up that bottle, it’s going to taste like “Victory!”.

Course 3:

Chicken Milanesa

Argentina is overrun with cows. They eat a TREMENDOUS amount of beef. Seriously if I had wanted this to be a totally traditional Argentinian meal, I could have served 6 courses of beef.

But, for goodness sake, I had a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to pair with, so I turned this Veal Milanesa into chicken. They eat chicken in Argentina once a decade or so.

This was….fine. I mean, there really isn’t much to the recipe, and I was expecting it to be pretty bland. It wasn’t as bad as I expected….but nothing special.

Bodega Catena Zapata 2014 Catena Alta Historic Rows Chardonnay.PNG

Bodega Chacra 2016 Barda Pinot Noir

Course 4:

Rosemary Steak with Burnt Carrot, Goat’s Cheese & Beet Salad

I chose this recipe because, given that a couple of the other recipes were labour intensive, I needed something really simple. This was really simple, but also really tasty.

Graffigna 2011 Santiago Graffigna Limited Release

Bodega Catena Zapata 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon.PNG

Course 5:

Pork Tenderloin Churrasco with Pineapple Salsa

Since some of my guests are not huge on spicy dishes, I left out the hot peppers from the Pineapple Salsa. This was really delicious.

Bodega Catena Zapata 2015 San Carlos Cabernet Franc

Course 6:

Argentinian Style Ribs

The recipe was right….it sounds way, way too salty, but it wasn’t at all. Everyone enjoyed this, even if it was the last course of the night and we were all getting pretty damn full by this point. And, it paired perfectly with this beautiful wine.

Bodega Catena Zapata 2014 Nicolas

Terrific night of food, lots of good wine (and some GREAT wine), and good friends. Wine is fantastic, and sharing it with great people makes it even better.

Next up: Tons of random bottles to share, and we are only TWO WEEKS AWAY from the Vancouver International Wine Festival. It is going to be epic!!




Australian Wine Appreciation Society – what a great night!

You’ve never heard of the AWAS – Australian Wine Appreciation Society? Well, now you have, and you are going to thank me for it….especially if you live in the Lower Mainland.


Facebook Group

This group was started in 1989 by a bunch of fun loving, Australian-wine loving folks. They hold around 10 events each year, and membership in this group costs only $40 per person or $70 per couple. The events run around $130 per person. Guests are allowed but will pay a premium.  In the past, they have been able to get some Principals from Australia to come to their events and present their wines (Wolf Blass attended one!). There is a lot more information and sign-up info at the website, above.

This past Friday we attended one such event at Glowbal, in Vancouver. The food was terrific and was paired with some absolutely world-class wine. We started with a range of appies they passed around and paired with a bubbly that I didn’t get info on (but it was quite tasty). To the main courses!

BTW I have not given accurate prices on the wines as I simply have no idea; unless I found the exact bottle on a website that gave a specific price.

Course 1:

Ceviche – sea scallops, lobster, salted purple potato, pickled mango, citrus sabayon

I am not a ‘ceviche’ fan….I do not eat raw fish at all, and consuming the scallops was a bit of a challenge. Having said that, they were delicious.  It was paired with these two wines:


Jacob's Creek 2006 Steingarten Riesling

Course 2:

Braised Veal Cheek – fontina cheese tortellini, violet mustard, spring beans, chestnut foam, marrow vinaigrette

Another thing I never eat – veal. This was sublime…the veal cheeks were fall-apart tender. I didn’t need a knife. And some of the best tortellini I have ever tasted.

The wines were the same grape, but from very different areas of Australia and they were totally different:

Screenshot 2019-02-11 15.47.21Tyrrell's 2009 Stevens Vineyard Shiraz

I think I was in the minority, but I felt (and my wife agreed) that the less-traditional Shiraz, from the Hunter Valley, outperformed it’s Barossa counterpart in every way, particularly in the pairing with the food.

Course 3:


Sous Vide Lamb Loin – lamb sweetbread, confit sun choke, pickled eggplant, cumin spiced lamb jus

You may sense a pattern here, but I never eat lamb either. This was the best I have ever had.

The wines:

Peter Lehmann 2009 VSV Ruediger Cabernet Sauvignon

Scarpantoni 2006 Brothers Block Cabernet Sauvignon

Course 4:

Strawberry Caramel Cube – dulce & strawberry mousse, raspberry gelee, mint strawberry

You are thinking to yourself: this must be the wrong picture. There is nothing about this that screams strawberry. But it’s there, you just had to look for it.



The final wine pairing of the night wasn’t really meant to be a pairing at all, and we enjoyed the wine AFTER, not with, the dessert (which was delicious).

Henschke 2000 Mount Edelstone Shiraz

What a terrific evening, and a real treat to taste a 19 year old Shiraz that has been well cared for.

Whenever I go to an evening of wine tasting which spotlights a specific country, whether it be a wonderful event like this or our own theme nights, I always find myself thinking about the comparison between said country and wines from our own backyard. BC wine can be pretty special if you find the right bottles. Would wines from BC stack up against what we had tonight?

Well, there are a handful of BC dry Rieslings that would clobber the one we tasted tonight. Certainly I’ve never had a BC Semillon that would even compare to tonight’s beauty.

Cabernet? Probably not, although there are some very underrated BC Cabs.

Shiraz? Well, I’m not even going to try to make a comparison, because BC Syrah and Australian Shiraz are so different, they are hardly even the same grape.

We sat next to Tony, the AWAS President, and talked about these comparisons throughout the night. If our schedules allow, we are going to try to get together and have a full-on “Australia vs. BC” wine duel.

Who will win? Well, I have a pretty good idea, actually….but one prediction I can make without hesitation: It will be close!

Big thanks to Tony, Rick, Trent and Patti and the rest of the folks behind the AWAS for allowing us to join in on their little fun. It was a special evening, and we look forward to doing it again in the summer.

Next up for the blog: Our Argentina theme night, which we held at our place a couple of weeks ago, and so, so, so much random great stuff to update you on. Stay tuned!


Random BC stuff and some great Vegas wine in my first blog post of 2019!

Jesus. It’s January 31st and this is my first post of the year? I suck.

Anyway, let’s get right to it. A few random BC selections we’ve enjoyed recently to start, and some beautiful bottles we enjoyed on our recent Vegas vacation at the bottom….including a Pinot Noir to watch out for and a top notch Brunello!




That’s it for today, but so much more to come, including our first “theme night” of 2019, hosted by the author, as we took our second bite out of Argentina!

Xmas wine and food is the best, because we treat ourselves to the best.

I sincerely hope all of my readers had a wonderful Holiday season; whichever Holiday you may celebrate: Hannukah, Christmas, Festivus…whatever it is, I hope you had some special time with friends and family. I certainly did.

Every year, we plan a “West Van shopping day”, which for the past few years has involved us staying at the Lonsdale Quay Hotel in North Van (where I was born and raised, and which will always be ‘home’ to me) and having a nice dinner on Friday night, then hitting Park Royal and surrounding stores on Saturday before heading home. This year, we decided to kick the luxury factor up about a dozen notches, and stay in downtown Vancouver, at the Shangri-La Hotel. To say that was a good decision would be an understatement, and this is definitely now going to be our yearly tradition.

The Hotel was fantastic in all regards, but they really outdid themselves at dinner. We dined at Market by Jean-Georges, their signature restaurant, and had one of the great meals of our lives. I am generally not a “take pictures of my food” guy, even when we are dining in a fancy restaurant, but these meals were plated so beautifully I had to.


My steak was one of the best I have ever tasted. Delicately seasoned, the meat really spoke for itself. My wife had short ribs, which is a favorite of hers, and she raved about the quality. We also both had a fantastic mushroom soup to start our meal, and shared a Chocolate Peanut Butter bar for dessert. All in all, this meal was perfect from start to finish.

The restaurant is classy without being overly pretentious, the service is terrific, and the food is of the highest quality (without being ridiculously overpriced). We will definitely be back.

But…this is a wine blog mostly, right? So where’s the wine? Well, we opened up the wallet a little (OK…a LOT…..$450) to try out this little beauty.

Tenuta San Guido 2015 Sassicaia

What an absolute treat. The restaurant had a decanter, of course, but keep in mind that if you are drinking this wine now, it needs to decant for 4-5 hours, not the time it takes to eat dinner. Although it was phenomenal, especially as the meal wore on, but it has SO much more to give. We were lucky to find a couple of these at Everything Wine in Langley, and they are heading to our cellar to enjoy them in a few years. This was #1 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2018, so finding it was not easy. In fact, we were unable to find it in any of the terrific wine stores we visited on our aforementioned West Van shopping day.

That was not the only terrific bottle of wine we enjoyed around the Holidays though. Here are a few more little gems we cracked open.

Sandrone 2001 Barolo Le Vigne

Screenshot 2018-12-29 10.32.58

Hmm, that seems to be as big as I am able to make the image on my new Mac. The images above were done on my old PC. Pardon me while I figure out this new computer. There may be a bit of a learning curve. For the most part, though, I love the Mac.

Screenshot 2018-12-29 10.41.54

Hmm OK that one is probably TOO big. I will see what they look like when I publish it. This new site is supposed to look much better on different devices (phones, tablets etc) so I hope that my readers are enjoying the new look.

OK that’s enough for today! Now it’s time to go and play with some of my new Xmas toys, like trying to make rice in my new Instant Pot. Enjoy the day, and hopefully you all have a wonderful New Year’s.

OH, speaking of New Years, we are planning an exciting vertical… keep your eyes peeled for that one shortly after NYE!