Working in the World of Wine

31 May

After many years of working for other peoples’ companies I’ve decided to try something new. I’ve started my own company called Proof+. Basically I’m taking all of my favourite aspects of the wine industry and am focusing on those. I am also interested in spirits and beer but wine is definitely where my focus has been.

What are my favourite aspects? Assisting wine agencies with their Logistics and Marketing, Social Media, Wine Tastings and Wine Education.

Please check out my website for more information. http://www.proofplus.ca/

Rubbing elbows with Royalty

3 Jun

Did you know that every year Germany crowns a new Wine Queen?! I didn’t either, until recently. I had the chance to spend some time with Nadine Poss, who is Germany’s 65th Wine Queen and find out more about what it means to wear her glittery tiara.

Each year there are 13 candidates, one from each wine region in Germany. That prompted me to look up what the 13 regions are: Ahr, Baden, Franken, Hess. Bergstraße, Mittelrhein, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Nahe, Pfalz, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Saale-Unstrut and Sachsen Württemberg. I’ve had wine from several of these regions but certainly not all of them. The candidates don’t have to come from a winery but they do require a strong knowledge of German wine, the wine industry, oenology and wine-making. As it turns out, Nadine’s family have a winery in Nahe which specialises in Pinot Gris, Blanc and Noir (Grauer Burgunder, Weißer Burgunder und Blauer Spätburgunder). http://www.weingut-poss.de/cms/index.php?id=poss0

From the 13 regional queens, six were selected for the final competition. This year, for the first time ever the competition was divided into two parts: first it was narrowed down to three finalists and theDWI-WK-08n each of them had to speak about a special experience in their lives. Nadine won the jury over with her speech about a hike with her family through Norwegian ice fields. She ended with the statement “this is what initiated my pleasure for travelling abroad and getting to know other people and cultures.” Considering the year ahead for the Wine Queen involves a lot of travel as she represents German Wine industry at all major wine festivals, exhibitions, tastings and international events. The other two finalists were crowned as Wine Princesses and they play a supporting role as ambassadors for the German Wine industry. This year they were Ramona Diegel and Sabine Wagner.

Nadine was in town for a Generation Riesling event which focuses on German winemakers that a10341901_10152401264456421_9058028671788315717_nre 35 years old and under. It’s all about being young and innovative. I had the chance to go out for dinner with her on Saturday night for dinner and she was such a pleasure to spend time with. On the Monday of the event she donned her tiara and I found out what the downside is to the weight of royalty on your head – sometimes when you spit the darn thing may fall off into the spittoon! As always, Nadine was cheerful and quick to laugh at the mishap along with me. Charming, smart and classy!

BC Wine 2013 Preview

26 Apr

Yesterday I attended a BC Wine 2013 Preview tasting put on by the BC Wine Institute. The tasting was led by DJ Kearney who guided us through a panel of winemakers from around BC. I was intrigued off the bat as DJ mentioned that we were going to ‘decode’ the vintage. This is not a term I’d ever heard used before and I suddenly felt like a secret agent looking for clues. She talked about ‘authentic and honest expression’ of the vintage. I’m all for that!

BC now has ‘emerging’ regions joining the five existing wine regions.

Existing regions: Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, Fraser Valley, Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley
Emerging regions: Shuswap, North Okanagan, Lillooet, Cache Creek, Thompson-Nicola, West Kootenays

As DJ was commenting on the good yields of 2013 another term came up that I hadn’t heard of – short tonne. A short tonne is 2000 pounds. A full vintage report will come out in July.

On the panel were:

Bob Johnson - Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery
Darryl Brooker - CedarCreek Estate Winery
Robert Thielicke - Joie Farm
Michael Bartier - Okanagan Crush Pad
Dwight Sick - Stag's Hollow Winery & Vineyard
John Weber - Orofino Vineyards

Some of the things that I learned:

  • The soil at Baillie-Grohman is glacial with a mix of granite and clay. The high mineral content is their biggest challenge. Their 23 acres of estate land are influenced by the Kootenay Lake which is 20 miles away. They don’t really have any problems with insects and there are about 700 crows which chase away any birds that would normally eat the grapes. Land there goes for about $40,000/acre and there’s vineyard land available. The winemakers in this region share their knowledge and experiences with each other.
  • CedarCreek has 150 acres in Kelowna and Osoyoos. 2013 came with challenges and the acidity was harder to rein in on the whites. They had a great Bordeaux red harvest though. I was interested to hear how they co-pick and co-ferment these reds. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, some Malbec and Petit Verdot: sounds like a great stew in the making!
  • Joie had a tough year but still managed to make good wine! They suffered from something called ‘sour rot’ which is essentially wet/bad botrytis. They lost a lot of their Rosé program grapes. What they could save started to ferment immediately. They saved themselves by reacting quickly!
  • At OCP their grapes ‘galloped into ripeness’. This can be a challenge if hang time is reduced as that’s what brings flavour to the grapes. Their pruning techniques and a cool fall helped save them.
  • At Stag’s Hollow they have vineyards that have come to maturity. Dwight likes to refer to their region in Okanagan Falls as the ‘Goldilocks of the valley’ – not too hot and not too cold. I love this term!! They can have a 9° variance from one part of the vineyard to the other. Their soil is gravel, rock and sand. We were very lucky to try some of their small production Renaissance Sauvignon Blanc. Such an interesting wine that emulates a Bordeaux Graves.
  • The Similkameen Valley, where Orofino is located, is a very hot place to grow wine. Their soil is sandy loam on gravel and river rock.

I will never tire of opportunities to hear people speak passionately about grape growing and wine making. As one winemaker joked, Canada is considered an ‘emerging region’ when it comes to wine. Leaders such as the ones on this panel will help to pave the way for Canadian wines to take the lead roles in the wine world.

In conclusion DJ announced that 2013 is going to be a ‘solid’ vintage. Solid and more!

Excuse me waiter, there’s a fly in my wine.

24 Apr

If there’s a fly in your wine you’re going to know right? It will either be swimming around wondering how it got so lucky or it’ll be floating lifelessly. Either way, it’s going to be pretty obvious.

Did you know there could very easily be things in your wine, potentially as unappetizing as a fly, that neither you or your waiter are going to know about? Things that you may even be allergic to such as nuts. NUTS IN WINE??!! Yes, nuts. They’re sometimes used in commercial tannins to improve the wine’s structure, among other things.

As much as I love the art of a beautiful wine label I’d like to see more transparency on the back label. I check ingredients when I shop for groceries so why wouldn’t I do that when I buy wine? I’d want to know if there was added sugar or something called Mega Purple which is used to darken the colour of wine.

Actually a simple QR code could easily link to a site listing all the ingredients so it wouldn’t even have to be a hideous back label. Only those truly motivated would check it. People who consume a lot of processed food probably wouldn’t care. Some people just want things to taste the same every time, like their favourite soda pop. I want to taste the authenticity of the region and the vintage.

If producers really don’t think that what they’re adding is bad for consumers or there’s anything wrong with how they’re manipulating their product then they shouldn’t feel the need to hide what they’ve added to achieve the outcome. What do you think?

DIY yogurt in a crockpot

23 Apr
As I want to keep my blog authentic I realised that I can’t just always write about wine. That could get a bit boring and really my love of wine is just a fraction of who I am. Love for my family and a healthy appetite pretty much rule my world.

The other weekend I was wandering on South Granville with my hubby and we stopped in West Elm. A woman was offering samples of yogurt she’d made in the crock pot. I was floored. I’ve had my crock pot for years and use it mostly to make soups and stews. I’ve never ventured away from savoury items although I’d seen recipes for desserts made in the crock pot.

Inspired by this charming woman I decided to give it a go. Here’s exactly what I did. Some recipes call for a candy thermometer but I used a simple digital one that I use for meat.

  • Put 2 liters of milk in the crock pot and set it to high (you can use almond or coconut milk if you don’t want dairy but you’ll need to add pectin or gelatin to set it)
  • When the milk hits 180 degrees turn off the crock pot (mine took about 2 hours to get there)
  • Let it now cool down to 110 degrees (took about an hour)
  • Take out about 1/2 cup of the warm milk and mix it with 2 tbsp of yogurt (once you’ve made your own save some for your next starter and you’ll never have to buy yogurt again)
  • Pour this mixture back into the warm milk and stir it around
  • Put the lid back on the crock pot, wrap it in a big towel and put it in the oven with just the oven light on (you can turn the light on earlier to warm it up if you want)
  • Leave the crock pot in the oven with just the light on for 12 hours
  • Remove the crock pot from the oven and put in the fridge for a few hours
  • I prefer thicker yogurt so then I strained off most of the whey through cheesecloth
  • Spoon it into jars and it will keep for about 2 weeks

Next time I think I’ll try adding some flavour such as a vanilla bean. You’re supposed to simmer the flavour in the milk in a pot for 10 minutes first then strain it out.

Heating up the milk Heating up the milk

 

 

 

Straining the wheyStraining the whey

 

 

 

The finished productJars of yogurt

 

Discovering the value of wines of France

19 Apr

Recently I was very involved in coordinating the French theme region events for the Vancouver International Wine Festival. One thing that kept striking me was the amazing value in many of the wines from France. I think a lot of people are under the impression that French wines are very expensive. Of course, there are a lot of very expensive, highly sought after wines from regions such as Bordeaux, Champagne and Bourgogne. That said, you can still find great value wines even from these regions.

This inspired me to make this the theme of my recent wine club. Here are some of the wines that we found to be the most impressive from the selection I chose.

Cave de Lugny Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé NV Bourgogne – I bought this wine up at Kitsilano Wine Cellar on 4th Ave for $26. This blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir offers some lovely creamy strawberry notes. As much as I love to support our BC bubbles I have to admit that this wine offers strong competition in that under $30 price range. The beautifully ornate gold packaging enhances the feeling that you’re drinking something special as well.

Charles de Cazanove Brut NV Champagne – Now this was a wine that got a lot of people talking at the France Bubbly party that kicked off the 2014 Vancouver International Wine Festival French events. It retails for $49.99 which is a fantastic price for Champagne and was a favourite among many to boot! Find it here http://bcliquorstores.com/product/420315

Domaine Lathuiliere Pisse Vielle 2012 Brouilly – Although this wine may not have been an overall favourite at the wine club I want to mention it because I really enjoyed it. The more I try Gamay Noir, the more I like it. Don’t be expecting an in-your-face wine here but for $25 this Cru Beaujolais will deliver interesting complexities that inspire conversation. Find it here http://bcliquorstores.com/product/924365

Chapoutier Bila Haut, 2012 Côtes du Roussillon Villages – This blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan is actually the wine that inspired me to plan a theme around the great value wines of France. For $18.99 this wine delivers a load of juicy berry fruit combined with some lovely smoky, peppery notes. Find it here http://bcliquorstores.com/product/40790

Rigal les Terrasses Malbec, 2011, Cahors – The hottest discovery of the evening was also the least expensive wine that I chose. I knew that everyone at the wine club had tried Malbec from Argentina but I was confident most of them realised it originated in France or had ever tried a French Malbec. I was right. For $14.99 this wine packs a lot of bold flavours into a smooth wine offers stiff competition to anything at this price out of Argentina. The 10 months it’s seen of oak aging adds some complexity but the fruit shines through. Find it here http://bcliquorstores.com/product/786590

The bubbles and whites

The white and bubbly

The reds

The reds

Back at it! Fall is in the air and the Wine Club is on again

18 Sep

I was asked to host a wine club this month and I wanted to think of something different to use as a theme. As I’d just come back from Burning Man I had the desert on my mind. Drinking wine in the desert requires some thought – not everything is going to sate your desires if you’ve been spending the day sweltering and all you want to eat is salad! That said, desert nights can get kind of cool so maybe a red wine wouldn’t be so bad.

I decided to go with the ‘Desert Island’ theme, as in – if you could only take one wine to a desert island what would it be. I wasn’t super surprised that most people think of sparkling wine in this scenario. Cava and Prosecco took the lead in votes. Personally I wouldn’t want something with too much acidity ’cause let’s face it – if I’m stuck on a desert island with cases of one wine I’ll probably end up drinking a bottle or two per day. Too much acidity could end up making your tongue feel like it’s been ripped to shreds after a couple of days. I did get a couple of people saying they’d go for a big red which is fine.

I’ll let you know how the final line up goes over with the group and any interesting finds I discover in my research.

Talk soon! xo