Diary Entry #31 - Astrolabe 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Dear Diary,

Today is Wednesday April 17, 2013 and I have what I think is a really special white wine to share with you all today! This particular wine was actually featured in Wine Spectator’s top 100. It was #59 on the list and it’s the ONLY Sauvignon Blanc to be featured this year. Wine Spectator also gave this wine 91 points. This wine also won best Sauvignon Blanc in 2006 and 2008 in the IWSC (International Wine and Spirit Competition) This is the only wine in the history of IWSC to wine 2 out of 3 years. So there is a lot of really great recognition given to this wine so this is why I'm excited to share this with you today.

The color of this wine is very clear…almost white, very crisp looking. On the nose I get lychee, very tropical fruit smelling. On the palate there are very nice soft acids, very smooth, nice soft mineral complexity, hints of mango and mellon – like honeydew (the green one right?). There are also some nice peach notes that come through nicely. 

There are a couple things that are interesting about this wine. Firstly, Simon Waghorn – owner/winemaker previously comes from Kim Crawford where he was the winemaker for several years there. He and his wife own and run this since about 1996 with 2 other owners.

I met Simon here in Vancouver when he was here for the Vancouver Wine Festival about a month and a half ago. I tasted all of their wines at their table and I enjoyed each one of them, I cannot say that for very many wineries – often I like one or two and maybe not so fond of another, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed all of the ones I tried at the Astrolabe booth.

Another interesting thing about this wine is that Astrolabe didn’t name their label after a bay, rock, animal like many New Zealand wines. Astrolabe is actually named after a ship called, The Astrolabe. This was a ship that belonged to an early French explorer who i believed was one of the first to discover the south island of New Zealand. Another cool piece of information, if you didn't already know, is that an Astrolabe is an early navigational tool that dates back to as early as 150BC.  So this is where the owners came up with their brand - they wanted to start this winery in the spirit of exploration & adventure. I like the intention of what is behind this bottle and other Astrolabe wines. Between the passion of Simon as well as the branding I believe they are doing something right!

I think there are about 10 to 15 different vineyards throughout Marlborough, that Astrolabe has source the sauvignon blanc grape from their own vineyards as well as other growers and vineyards to blend this bottle of wine. They do single vineyard bottles, but this is a blend of sauvignon blanc grapes from a variety of different vineyards. So this wine can vary from year to year even though they try to be consistent – it's not a cookie cutter wine from year after year which I think is pretty cool.

AstroLab only been around in BC for the last few years so maybe that is why you have not seen it at your local BC Liquor store, but it is there and you should try it. I think you should definitely try it if you are a fan of Kim Crawford, Oyster Bay & Cloudy Bay wines. Astrolabe is newer to the scene, but I think they definitely hold their ground and could potentially be a new favourite New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

With summer just around the corner I think this is a nice wine that will help kick start those great afternoon and evening hang outs on a patio. 

Thanks for watching and reading this blog. I hope you enjoyed it and gained some fun new knowledge.

May the beauty you love be what you do. Come back in two weeks on Wine Wednesday for the next video!

xx.h

Diary Entry #30 - Atteca 2010 Old Vines Garnacha & Halloween

Dear Diary,

Today is April 3, 2013. Happy Wine Wednesday! I hope everyone had a great long weekend that just passed. I know I sure did. It’s practically summer here in Vancouver so it was nice to go out biking along the seawall and hang out at the beach. I also went to Vancouver Island and hung out in Victoria for the day and saw 2 orca whales when I was at the beach. I’ve never see wild whales before so it was pretty cool!  

Today I’m going to share with you Atteca 2010 Old Vines Garnacha. So there are a couple cool things about this wine that I wanted to share. First of all, the grape varietal is 100% ‘Garnacha’, some of you may have heard of the grape Grenache before, well it’s the same grape as this, but in Spain (where this wine is from) it’s called Garnacha. Other areas you may see this grape from but called Grenache is from France. Some will say the origins of this grape is from France but there are also a lot of people who would say this grape originates from NE Spain. 

The really cool thing about this wine is that the vines that this juice comes from are 80-100 years old. Which is pretty unheard of. Many of the vines across Europe and especially in France were killed by Phylloxera - which is an aphid like bug that attacks the grape vines roots and leaves. So because of this outbreak of phylloxera in Europe, it’s rare to see old vines like these. However, Spain was one of the more lucky countries and so it’s not uncommon to see old vines coming from Spain as they were not hit with this bug (Phylloxera) as bad as other parts of Europe.  

The vines that this wine comes from are located 3000 ft above sea level and are located in poor gravelly slate soils. When it comes to vines, you actually want to them to be planted in poor soil conditions because this makes the roots work harder to produce good fruit. They have to dig deeper into the soil to find the nutrients and in the end, the fruit produced is actually better quality and more complex fruit. 

The color of this wine is a nice deep reddish brown color. On the nose I get ripe dark fruit like black cherry (darker and riper smelling than bright red cherries) & prunes. On the palate I taste dried prunes & raisins, very ripe tasting, very smooth and not very tannic at all.

This is strangely reminding me of Halloween and going trick or treating as a kid and getting those boxes of sunripe raisins….you know, those little red boxes of raisins that the boring houses would give out for Halloween instead of delicious candy?! I was always disappointed in the raisins…however, the raisin taste in this wine is quite lovely and I would have much preferred to receive this wine in my trick or treating bag when I was a kid ;-) There is some nice cherry notes to this wine as well. Lots of big flavour, not tannic at all – little to none. Has a nice complexity to it…perhaps that’s the old vines influence here. It’s very rich tasting. 

Oh and as an FYI – This bottle of wines alcohol content is 15%….so be careful as it may just kick you in the ass if you’re not…or perhaps that’s what you would like. But I just thought I should share that little tidbit for you too.

Thanks so much for watching and, as always, may the beauty you love be what you do! 

x.h

Diary Entry #29 - How to open a bottle of wine with my FAVOURITE wine opener

Happy Wine Wednesday! Today we are going back to basics with a little bit of a different video than my normal videos. Today it's just all about how to open a bottle of wine using my favourite wine opener. I don't know why I have not posted a video on this subject sooner but alas, the video is here now! 

I would like to do more videos on the basics or other 'good to know' wine tips. So, if there is anything you would like me to do a video on, please let me know and I'll do my best to post a video for you! I want to make sure this blog is infomative with all things wine, so please let me know what you would like to see! 

Hope you enjoy this weeks video and I hope you are having a fabulous Wine Wednesday!

May the beauty you love be what you do!

x.h

Diary Entry #28 - Giant pink balloons & Urban Uco 2011 Malbec Tempranillo

The special guest of the evening is Urban Uco. It’s a 50/50 blend of malbec and tempranillo grapes. This wine is from the Uco Valley in Argentina. The Uco Valley is one of the sub-regions in the Mendoza region. In fact, I just learnt that the Uco Valley is home to some very outstanding wines and is becoming a well known region by it's own rights. It has a very distinct growing climate and is home to some of the top producers. 

The Uco sits at a higher altitude located at the base of the Andes. Because of this higher altitude, the grapes are exposed to high daytime temperatures and much cooler evening/night time temperatures. This causes the grapes to produce balanced sugars and acidity that you wouldn’t get in other regions.

The colour of this wine is a nice bright ruby cherry colour. On the nose I get blueberries, violet. I really enjoyed the palate of this wine and found it surprisingly chewy. And my chewy I mean that it's got a lot of depth and complexity to it. There are medium tannins that I can feel gripping on my gums and tongue (kind of like what happens when you drink straight black tea). The flavour of this wine lingers extremely long (you will hear wino's refer to this as the 'length' of the wine - this wine has great length!). The flavour of this wine is full of blueberries and blackberries.

When I was doing a bit of research on this wine, I found that the labels I found online were different than on the bottle I had, even though it was the same vintage. So it turns out this vintage has 2 different labels. The one that you see that I have in the video is what you will see here in BC. In the USA and perhaps other countries, you might see the other label - which I did put a picture of in my video. This other label is a picture of a girl in an art gallery looking at some paintings on the wall. Immediately this other label reminded me of one of the most cool experiences I've ever had.

About a year and a half ago, I went to this art show. I had no idea what to really expect, but it sounded like a fun event so my friend and I went. It was held at a private art gallery here in Vancouver. The first part of the exhibit was the cool part. You had to walk through a room of floor to ceiling giant pink balloons. There was no way around this, it was the only way to access the rest of the gallery. So my friend and I entered into this room with all these giant balloons and couldn't see where we were going. At one point we even lost each other because there were so many balloons. We had to make our way to a staircase that was on the other end of the room and emerge out of the balloon room that way. It was by far the coolest experience I've had in a long time and I wish there was always a room with giant pink balloons that I could walk through whenever I wanted to. I felt like a little kid again and I think that was what made it so wonderful. 

I've included a clip of this balloon experience at the very end of the wine video so you can get a bit of an idea of what it was like.

What have been some of the coolest and most memorable experiences that you have had? I would love to hear about them.  

Thanks for watching and stay tuned for another video in 2 weeks!

x.h

~May the beauty you love be what you do~

Diary Entry #27 - Stemless Wine Glasses SUCK & Catena Malbec 2010 ROCKS!

This wine is 100% Malbec grape and it comes from a region in Argentina called Mendoza. Mendoza is a very well known region and is know for producing good quality Malbec’s. Often times when I’m craving a Malbec, I will choose one from the Mendoza region because it is so well known. So that could be a good dinner party tip for you – Malbec’s from Mendoza are a good bet!

This wine has a nice bright cherry red color, it's very vibrant and lively color to it. On the nose I get a lot of black cherries, prunes and I know this will sounds odd but I get this soda pop type smell, like a strawberry soda pop image in my head. It kind of reminds me of being a kid and eating candies. I don't care if that sounds totally unprofessional or random of me, that's what I get and I'm a firm believer in staying true to whatever senses wine inspires you to have. 

Before I carry on, I must say...if you haven't already noticed but I am using a stemless wine glass, and I HATE stemless wine glasses. Why you ask? Well, a couple reasons. Firstly, wine glasses have a stem for a very good reason. That reason is because you are suppose to hold on to the wine from the stem and not the glass, this is to ensure that your body heat does not affect the wine temperature. The temperature of wine is very important to the taste of the wine. So holding the wine glass by the glass portion instead of the stem, will not be helpful in maintaining the proper temperature for tasting the wine. Does this sound a bit 'wine snob' of me? Perhaps a bit, but if I'm going to spend some decent money on a good bottle of wine, I want to enjoy it at the ideal temperature. Secondly, if you hold it by the glass you're going to get nasty finger prints all over the glass, which are gross and look awful after awhile. For some reason, wine glasses show more finger prints on them then say a highball glass...and when they do, I find it rather unsightly and find it takes away from the delicate wine experinece and I think just looks dirty (and not the good kind of 'dirty' - yes there can be a good kind!). Ok, yes, I know...wine snob. But that's pretty much as 'wine snob' as I get. Aside from calling all sparking wine 'champagne' when it's not (another pet peeve of mine). That's (at this point anyways) as 'snobby' as I'll get. 

Ok, now that I've had my 'I hate stemless wine glasses' rant, we can carry on with the tasting of the wine and move on to the swirl and sip. You don't have to swirl the wine before sipping but it's something that I like to do anyways. Since half of tasting is the smell, I still like to open up (release all the aromoas and subtleties) the wine by swirling it prior to sipping. 

This is a nice medium bodied wine, vibrant cherries that explode in my mouth. Very flavorful, elegant and smooth. There are not a lot fo tannins (that grippy feeling you can get in your mouth and gums). It's very soft and silky.

For over 4 generations, the Catena family has passed on their wine making skills from father to son and now from father to daughter. This is actually an Italian family that came to Argentina in 1898. The forefather, Nicola Catena believed Mendoza to be the promise land and planted the first Malbec vines in 1902.

It really is hard to tell a family’s story that spans over 100 years in a few minutes but in a very small nutshell The Catena Family story is truly one of taking risks, having faith and inspiration. As well, I believe it’s a story of not being afraid to do something that’s never been done before because of believing in the possibility of achieving something great. In the 1980’s others called Nicolas crazy because he was seeking new areas to plant the Malbec grape up high in the mountains (I believe up to 5000 feet elevation). He did this because he felt that the only way to make a leap in quality would be by pushing the limits of vine cultivation, by taking risks. Even his vineyard manager told him that the vines wouldn’t ripen, but they did. And they produced fabulous wines. Like this bottle right here!

I think there is great wine artistry that has gone into the wines produced by this family, great faith when no one else believed and great results from staying true to their vision, and the vision of their ancestors.

If you’re interested in the full story, please click here http://bit.ly/VOHnA1

So if you’re stuck with what bottle of wine to grab for your valentines day tomorrow, this could be a good one.

I believe that great things can happen when you believe in something and you take a risk and you do something different. It could even be something that hasn't been done before but if you have a passion, belief, imagination and inspiration to make it happen, something amazing can unfold from that. So I encourage you to go for it!

So with that I wanted to leave you with a question – where are you taking risks in your life because you believe in something? I personally want to tell you that I believe in you and your dreams & visions. And I encourage you to share them with me because I am genuinely interested. So please share with me: Where do you make those bold choices in your life because you have a vision?

Thanks for watching, please subscribe and….

May the Beauty you LOVE be what you DO.

x.h

Diary Entry #26: Speaking of Gothic People - Wine Men of Gotham 2011 Shiraz

Dear Diary,

Being that yesterday was Wednesday…I figured it was more appropriate to do my vlog then, after all it’s not just Wednesday but ‘Wine Wednesday’. So I’m going to be moving my vlogs so they come out on Wednesday’s rather than Thursday’s. I ran out of time last night to post this actually on Wednesday, but moving forward, it is my goal to get it out on Wednesday evenings here for you.  

The guest this week is Wine Men of Gotham’s 2011 Shiraz. This wine comes from South Australia and the shiraz grapes used in this come from a variety of vineyards and regions.

I think the branding of this wine is pretty cool, unique and eye-catching! I’m sure many of you have seen this bottle already and perhaps have tried it yourself as it does appear on many wine lists and in most liquor stores around Vancouver.

I found this wine to be far lighter in color than I expected. You can see right thru the wine when held against a white surface – this is more of a trait you would find in a Pinot Noir, so I was a bit surprised that this wine didn’t have the deep red garnet color that I would have expected. But there are first for everything! On the nose this wine is spicy! I get a lot of black pepper followed by some fig. On the palette, this very summery and fresh, I get light cherries and unripe plum. Nice tannins and I think this wine is quite drinkable on its own or with food – grilled meats would go nicely.

This wine has a cool story/fable that dates back to early England back in the time of knights, castles and Kings to a town called Gotham. Well the town folk of Gotham had heard that the King was going to be coming through their town. Back then, when a King travels on a road, it then becomes knows as the King’s Highway. Therefore, the road becomes levied and taxes are increased. Obviously, no one likes to pay more taxes, the people of Gotham did not want the King to travel on the road through their town. So they decided to act crazy and as if they all belonged in an insane asylum. The King caught wind that the town of Gotham was full of crazy people, so he decided to take a different route. And because the people of Gotham ‘played the fool’ and saved money on their taxes, they became known as the Wise Men of Gotham. So instead of Wise Men of Gotham, this is WINE Men of Gotham.

I’m not sure what the connection is between Australia and England and if someone out there knows, please fill me in! Nonetheless, it’s a pretty cool story!

If you want to know how I relate to this wine and my personal thoughts…you’ll have to watch the video (if you haven’t already!!) J

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you’re all well! Please let me know your comments, feedback, what you like/dislike and how I can make this experience better for you. I’m always wanting to improve and I love to hear from you!

And of course – May the beauty you love be what you do! See you next Wine Wednesday!

Cheers,

h

Diary Entry #25 - Disco Wine Label & Pergolas 2009 Tempranillo

This week my 'special guest' is: Pregolas 2009 Old Vines Tempranillo. It's 100% tempranillo grape and it comes from vines that are at least 30 years old. I would really like to know the oldest vines that this wine comes from, but I could not find that information. But I'm guessing it can't be that much older than 30 years old....??? Well maybe... does anyone else know? 

I found this wine to have a nice leathery bouquet mixed with fresh cherries and a slight hit of wet leaves. Sounds totally random I know. But often when I do tastings, I get images rather than words that come to mind. This wine I immediately thought of a barn/farm with horses and saddles - hence the leathery notes that I got right away. I also thought of cherries and that reminded me of when I was a kid and use to sit on the front steps of my house with my mom and brother and we use to eat cherries and see who could spit the seeds the furthest.

This wine comes from Navarro Lopez in Valdepenas. This winery was started in 1904 and the original winery still stands in the town. It has since moved to just outside of Valdepenas to a location that is more environmentally friendly as this is a high priority for this winery. They have systems in place to ensure that nature is minimally affected and do what they can to be a 'green' winery.

I think this is great and it's made me think about how I can be more 'green' and environmentally conscious. 

I hope you enjoy this video and perhaps it makes you think of how you to can be more aware of your 'footprint' on this earth.

Thanks for watching!

x.h

Diary Entry #24 - Wine With Me 2.0 - Unicorns & Masion Nicolas Perrin 2011 Syrah Viognier

Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you all had a wonder time ringing in 2013!

I want to take this time to thank you for all of your support over this past year. It was my first year as a blogger and it was because of you guys that 2012 was so special.

Part of me wanted to title this vlog "My confession, My contradiction, My Intention" but I decided on the above title instead. 

I have done a lot of reflecting on where this journey of wine with me has taken me over the last year, as well, I have done a lot of work on what my vision is for wine with me and how I want to evolve this vlogging project of mine. 

This reflecting has enabled me to really create a new vision and understanding why I'm doing this. I have realized that I want to share stories with you. I want to share the stories behind the label. So the stories of the wine makers, families that own and operate the wineries/vineyards, basically, the stories of the people behind the wine that we all love.

What I am really talking about is the launch of WineWithMe 2.0. 

Now I'm sure you're wondering why I'm calling this a 'confession' video.  Well, the confession is that I realize now that I have been a bit of a contradiction in my vlogs and my website. I have been calling this a 'video DIARY of a wine lover' but I have not been sharing really anything about myself. So for that I'm sorry I have not been living up to my websites slogan.

Moving forward I want to reassure you that you will still be getting all of the good stuff that you originally came here to watch, but I'm adding more of me and my story as well as the stories of others. You will still get my tasting notes/opinions but now I'm going to be sharing my own personal experiences, I want to have more guest on my vlogs with me and even go to different locations (wineries and restaurants, etc)

I wrote a mission/intention statement (because I am that serious about this and I want to be clear in my intention)  and I would like to share that with you:

My mission is to inspire, evoke and ignite others to believe in themselves, believe in what they are passionate about and to seek a life that has greater purpose, love, joy, and hope through following their own passion and by being the best person they can be. 

I have a genuine desire to make this world a better place and I hope to do this one vlog at a time!!

So this my friends is WineWithMe 2.0 :)

Dear Diary....

The wine I'm featuring this week is Masion Nicolas Perrin's 2011 Syrah Viognier. It's from the Rhone Valley in France. This wine is actually the merging of the Perrin Family (well know producers from Southern Rhone) and Nicolas Jaboulet (prodcuer from Norhern Rhone). They started this small operation Masion Nicolas Perrin in 2008. 

The main grape in this blend is Syrah with a little bit of Viognier to add finess and round out the strong bold syrah. I'm not sure what the exact blend between Syrah and Viognier is though.

I found the color when I held up up against a white background, was bright red/fucshia. It is really a pretty color. On the nose I found some floral hints of violet, blueberries and cloves. To the taste, there was red berries with some of that blueberry coming through. It had nice spice to it as well. The tannins were soft and rounded off nicely. I think this might have been due to the lovely viognier that was add - it did its job and it did it well!

I found this wine at Kitsilano Wine Cellar for about $23.00. I'm not sure if it's available at BC Liquor stores or not. 

Thanks again for checking out my vlog & blog. I hope you enjoyed the first video of Wine With Me 2.0!

x.h

~May the beauty you love, be what you do ~