Sabor a Mí, Major Ursa Estate Winery, Black Sage Bench, Oliver, BC, 2017, 14% abv. C$35

Who remembers Eydie Gormé and her love and husband of decades, Steve Lawrence?  I actually do. If you don’t know who she is, you must take a moment to listen to this 1964 recording of her singing Sabor a Mí  (The Taste of Me) with the Trio Los Panchos.  It will make you start dancing – and hey, maybe start you thinking about Valentine’s Day.

Sabor a Mí is also the name of this beautifully balanced red wine made of 53% whole cluster Syrah, 27% Malbec, 18% whole cluster Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot that have “…spent 18 months together in neutral oak so as not to overpower the fruit, and were bottled unfined and unfiltered,” according to winemaker, Rajen Toor.

Deep garnet with aromas of blackberry with salinity, oak, green grass and spice, the palate is dry with more blackberry, cassis, and dark purple plum, salal, nutmeg, all spice, and a sparkly minerality.

Because the grapes were mostly whole cluster fermented, the juicy, vibrant fruit has been retained.  Toor notes, “All the fruit was purchased from Desert Hills’ Eagles Nest and Sage Brush Vineyards, located on Black Sage Road in Oliver, BC.”  While Ursa Major is not an entirely organic winery yet, in 2-3 years, they’ll be certified.  “At the moment we are doing everything we can to help that transition along, including organic compost, no chemical or synthetic sprays, utilizing cover crops, and weeding only by hand.”

To make it even more compelling, the bottles have beautiful artwork by Kristen Gardner, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to South Okanagan Women in Need, a non-profit organization in nearby Penticton.

Now, I don’t celebrate the Hallmark holiday known as Valentine’s.  I dislike being told what to do, and I think everyone should love their special ones all the time – not just with flowers on one particular day.

But, if your sweetheart expects a gift, buy a bottle of this, put on Eydie Gormé’s Sabor a Mí, and dance a little bossa nova around the room.  As the lyrics and the wine go,

“Many more than a thousand years will pass, many more
And I don’t know if love exists in the eternity
But there, just like here
In your mouth you will carry
My flavour.”

You can’t get much more romantic than that.

Posted in British Columbia, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, RED, Shiraz / Syrah | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ring in the New Decade with Canadian Bubbles from Unsworth Vineyards

Hindsight being 2020, you’re going to want to try these bubbles for ringing in the new decade.  To save you the trouble, and the hindsight, here’s the low down.

Unsworth Vineyards is located on Canada’s West Coast just north of Victoria, on Vancouver Island in Mill Bay, BC.  Family owned, they have a fabulous tasting room, a restaurant with a Kiwi chef who has been sous chef at a Michelin-starred Swedish restaurant, a Scottish manager, a Wine Director son who is DipWSET, CMS, and FWS certified, and an East Coast winemaker transplant who has literally made wine around the world.   This region is a cool climate draw for those serious about micro-climates and wine.

Charme de L’Isle
Named for a play on words, taste a charming, Vancouver Island bubble made in the charmat (tank) style.  This is similar to what happens in Champagne (2 fermentations), but they took place in a tank.  This ensures great flavour and attention to detail, but a product that gets to our glasses sooner.

A non-vintage and slightly off dry wine, it’s made of Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and a bit of Auxerrois with small amounts of Sauvignette Blanc and Amiel.  The last two are hybrids that do well in the rainy coastal weather, and stand up to vineyard infections without needing pesticides. Get ready for a mouth-watering acidity, with yellow apple, ripe pear, almond, custard, toast and a long-lasting mousse.  Only C$25, serve this to your guests as they arrive.

Charme de L’Isle Rosé 
Non-vintage and 100% Pinot Noir, this bubble is full of sassy character and just a little bit off-dry.  The rosé version of the Charme, it has good acidity and shows rhubarb, cranberry, rose hip, and biscuit. Distinctive, this wine is perfect with turkey and cranberry sauce leftovers, or cheeses served with cranberry, rhubarb, or rose hip-based jams.  Who am I kidding – only C$25, it goes with anything on a charcuterie or post-Christmas plate.

Cuvée de L’Isle, 2015
This is Unsworth’s pièce de résistance.  A traditional, hand-riddled, disgorged and aged bubble, it’s made of Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and 10% Auxerrois.  The nose and palate offer ripe yellow apple, with quince, yellow pear, and a softly, sweet hint of brioche. Delicate and elegant, this completely dry wine offers a seriously long-lasting mousse with an only C$35 price tag.

They’re doing outstanding work at Unsworth – and these bubbles should have your attention for the new decade’s toasts.  Affordable, super food-friendly, and uniquely Canadian – they’re delicious and highly recommended.


These samples were provided gratis.  Stock bottle shots taken from the winery’s website.

Posted in amiel, auxerrois, BC, British Columbia, OTHER, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, sauvignette | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Krupnik, Spiced Honey Liqueur, Wayward Distillation House, Courtenay, BC, 40% abv, C$35, 375 ml

It’s that time of year again when everyone pleads, “Help! What kind of wine do I buy to go with my turkey/ham/duck/hot dog?”  There are a million or so of these articles circulating on line, but if you’re truly stuck, private message me and we’ll have a go at it.

In the meantime, get yourself to Wayward Distillery or a private liquor store in BC, and pick up a bottle of this 2018 Gold Medal winner of the Canadian Artisan Spirits Competition to complete your holiday or hostess gift list.

Wayward is doing some rather cool stuff with their spirits – beginning with their base alcohol which is made 100% from honey, not grain.  Yes, honey.  Take the honey harvested from 1,700 hives in an apiary located in BC’s Peace Region, ferment it into mead, and then distill the mead, and boom, you get a vodka base to work with.  Wayward doesn’t filter out the flavour of the honey either, which adds great character to their whole line of spirits, and includes gin, vodka and a rum-style called, “Drunken Hive”.

But first, what the heck’s a Krupnik?  I pride myself on knowing a lot of abstract, alcohol-related things, but this one even stumped me. Based on a Polish or Belarussian recipe, it’s part of a special category of alcoholic beverages called Nalewki.  These are like tinctures where the herbs, spices and honey that make them special are infused into the vodka base.

In this case, the resultant Krupnik is absolutely stunning, showing heady aromas and a palate of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, apple pie filling, and of course, creamy, clover honey. Sophisticated and delicious, akin to a spiced, honeyed whiskey, it’s well balanced, and not hot or cloying in the slightest.

The Wayward folks have also shown you their funny bone on the back packaging too where they apologize profusely (well, they are Canadian) for spoiling you for anything else, ‘Once you’ve opened this, you won’t be able to stop and we’re sorry.”

There you go, your presents are done and dusted! Go find some and make someone happy.  Mix it as an aperitif with sparkling apple juice, soda, or ginger beer, or sip some with your post-holiday meal pie and shortbread.

You’re welcome, and I’m not sorry.


Note: This sample was provided gratis.

Posted in British Columbia, Nalewki - Krupnik, OTHER, SPIRITS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chardonnay, Losthorn Vineyard, Lock and Worth Winery, Naramata, BC, 2018, 11.7% abv., C$30

Zowie!  Pow!  Wow!

From grapes planted in 1995 at Losthorn Vineyard in Okanagan Falls, this Chardonnay is electric.  Whole cluster pressed, it’s an unfined and unfiltered, charged up, bona fide beauty.

A shade of pale lemon gold on the eyes, the nose and palate offer fresh Anjou pear, yellow apple, Meyer lemon, brioche and slate.

Absolutely mouth-watering acidity, a medium body, and great finish round out this clean and precise wine.

Perfect with many dishes, we paired it with pan fried oysters and lemon wedges with risotto.

Apparently this was Matt Sherlock & Ross Hackworth’s first attempt at Chardonnay.  Please, don’t let it be the last!

Posted in British Columbia, Chardonnay, WHITE | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amelia (Syrah – Viognier), Daydreamer Wines, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, BC, 13.5% abv., 2017, C$35

This plush 90% Syrah, 10% Viognier is a treat!  Master of Wine Marcus Ansems has produced a delicious Naramata Bench version of this northern Rhône classic.

In the traditional homeland of Syrah, many winemakers co-ferment the grape with 5-10% Viognier to give the wine a richer colour and velvety palate.  Ansems chose to do the same, and has it ever worked.

On the eyes, the Amelia is a deep ruby, with heavenly aromas of ripe boysenberry, blackberry, purple flowers, cinnamon bark, green twig and a hint of bacon fat.

The body is voluptuous and balanced with a dry, silky palate showing more boysenberry and blackberry, violets, white pepper, black olive, cedar frond, and green tobacco leaf.  Fine tannins are evident through the long finish.

The fruit is accentuated, but this wine is balanced and crisp. Exquisitely food friendly, we paired it with barbecued chicken, homemade corn bread and tossed greens.

Posted in BC, British Columbia, RED, Shiraz / Syrah, Viognier | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chardonnay, Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard, Sta Rita Hills, California, 14.5% abv, 2013, C$100

Ever since the first time I watched the movie Sideways, I have wanted to try a bottle of Sea Smoke.  Their Botella Pinot Noir (vintage unknown) was featured at the seriously over served double date dinner for Myles, Jack, Stephanie and Maya.

Sea Smoke isn’t open to the public though, and their bottles are challenging to find.  So, when I saw this one covered with dust and on the hard-to-reach top shelf at a store in Vancouver, I grabbed it.

Now the challenge became deciding upon an event at which to pop this cork.  A university graduation fit the bill admirably, so we paired it with lemon chicken saltimbocca, handmade pasta and pesto sauce, and balsamic tossed greens for an incredibly tasty convocation experience.

Pale straw on the eyes, the 2013 Chardonnay has aromas of lemon, apricot, white flowers, sea air, and lightly toasted oak.

The palate has perfectly balanced acidity with citrusy lemon zest, mandarin, white peach, wet stone, salt, and smokey hazelnut.  A lingering finish rounds off its beautiful body.

This outstanding wine and food combination was the perfect one for celebrating Jenna’s BSc, Biology.  The creamy lemon and salty prosciutto in the chicken dish combined seamlessly with the citrus, salinity, and acidity of the wine, and the body and judicious wood supported the pasta, basil and sage.


Posted in OTHER | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gewurztraminer-Pinot Gris, Granite, Bartier Brothers, Oliver, BC, 2017, 11.3% abv., C$26

I’d been planning a trip to Bartier Brothers in Oliver, BC for a while.  I drink so much of their Sémillon, I should own shares in the winery.  A visit was definitely in order.

No sooner did we step on property than we were greeted by the truly lovely Jodi Bartier (winemaker Michael Bartier’s other half) and Jeff from behind the tasting bar.  Tasting and spitting the wines got their attention, and soon I was knee deep into a palette of nine delicious samples.

Almost everything was open and available for a sip – from my favourite Sémillon, a delicate starfruit Sauvignon Blanc, a floral, green apple and butterscotchy Chard, and their crisp and refreshing Obrigado (Muscat Ottonel), to a petrol-laced Riesling, a seriously complex Rosé, and some reds (Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Merlot).

The only one not on offer was the Granite – a Gewurztraminer – Pinot Gris blended (67-37%) orange wine that spent 19 days macerating on its skins before ageing four months on lees in stainless steel. Of course I took one home.

A deep shade of onion skin tangerine with yellow grapefruit, daffodil and lemon peel, this dry and edgy beauty also has crunchy herb and green tobacco leaf, black tea, cedar box, and pebbles.  A strong finish gives it great life and length.

What a treat it was to enjoy with aged cheddar and a plate of charcuterie.  Highly recommended if you can find some.

Posted in BC, British Columbia, Gewurztraminer, Orange, Pinot Gris, WHITE, Winery Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment