Archive for June, 2016

Okanagan Wine Touring Recommended

June 6th, 2016

Oakanagan wine country vineyard tours

The expanding wine region of the Okanagan in British Columbia is hot & trendy now with almost a plethora of quality wineries and interesting dining choices. With the low value of the Canadian dollar it makes for a wonderful vacation opportunity for foreigners. Keep it in mind for your upcoming travel plans. The Vancouver branch of your IWFS makes an annual Spring Tour there well organized by knowledgeable members Larry Burr & his wife Maggie assisted by hard working President Jim Robertson & Milena. Last year they spotlighted the northern regions with wineries in Kelowna & Lake Country. They are just back from their latest excursion this year covering the region of Okanagan Falls at the south end of Skaha Lake near Penticton which is so full of delightful wine and food experiences. Your scribe unfortunately missed it but is still immersed actively in the BC wine scene judging several upcoming BC wine competitions including this month Lt. Gov. Awards For Excellence in Victoria at Government House, 2nd Judgment of BC Wines (first one featured chardonnay & syrah with Steven Spurrier last year) in the Okanagan and this Fall the 2016 British Columbia Wine Awards.  A more detailed report of this wine and food tour with a lot of fun photos can be found here. What a branch activity!  Here is how to put it together for Okanagan Falls:


THURSDAY MAY 26 – to Penticton Lakeside Resort on your own.


The Penticton Farmer’s Market is set up in the 100 block Main Street (in front of the Hotel); it opens at 8:30 am.
We leave promptly at 9:30 am for the tour, by Top Cat Tours 24 passenger coach. Lots of room for wine boxes, etc.
Friday Schedule:
Pentage Winery 10:00 – 11:30
Liquidity Winery 12 noon – 1:00 pm
Lunch – Liquidity Bistro 1:00 pm – 2: 00 pm
Blasted Church 2:15/2:30 – 3:45 pm
Krazy Legz/ Skaha Winery 4:00 – 5:15 pm
Return to Lakeside Resort at about 5:30 – 5:45 pm.
Dinner: Theo’s Restaurant – 687 Main Street.


Top Cat leaves promptly at 9:30 am
Noble Ridge 10:00 – 11:15 am
Stag’s Hollow 11:30 – 12:30 pm
Wild Goose 12:30 – 1:30
Lunch on the patio at Smokin’ Oak Bistro (Wild Goose) to 2:30
Meyer Family 2:45 – 4:00 pm
Synchromesh 4:00pm – 5;15 pm
Return to Lakeside Resort at about 5:45 pm
Dinner: Local Lounge and Bistro (Summerland).


Sunday Schedule: Blue Mountain 10:00/10:15 – 11:45 am
Painted Rock 12 noon – 1:00 pm
Lunch by Joy Road Catering at Painted Rock, al fresco 1 pm – 2:30pm

List of wineries & wines tasted:

2014 Rousanne “Fizz”
2014 Sauvignon Blanc
2014 Gewurztraminer
2011 RMV
2012 Syrah reserve
2012 GSM
2013 Icewine Riesling

N/V “Bubbly”
2015 Viognier
2013 Chardonnay
2015 Pinot Gris
2014 Pinot Noir Estate
2013 Merlot

2011 OMG
2012 OMG
2013 Merlot
2014 Merlot
2013 Holy-Moly
2009 Black Bottom Stomp
2011 ‘Port’

2015 Rose
2015 Chardonnay
2015 Pinot Blanc
2015 Mystique – Chard/PBlanc
2013 Cabernet Franc

N/V “The One”
2014 Pinot Grigio
2014 Mingle
2013 Pinot Noir Reserve
2012 Pinot Noir King’s Ransom
2013 Chardonnay KR
2013 Meritage KR
2013 Meritage Reserve

2015 Albarino
2013 Tempranillo
2011 Pinot Noir Renaissance
2013 Merlot Renaissance
2005 & 2000 Merlot
2015 Dolcetto
2015 Tragically Vidal

2015 Pinot Gris
2015 Pinot Blanc Mystic
2014 Gewurztraminer
2015 Riesling Classic
2015 Riesling Stony Slope
2015 Riesling God’s Mountain

2015 Fleet Road Riesling
2011 Chardonnay McLean Ck
2015 Pinot Noir Rose
2014 Pinot Noir Okanagan
2014 Pinot Noir Reimer & McLean Ck
2014 Pinot Noir Old Block

2015 Riesling
2015 Drier
2015 Riesling Bob Hancock Vineyard
2015 Riesling Thorny Vine Vineyard
2015 Riesling Four Shadows Vineyard
2015 Riesling Storm Haven Vineyard
2015 Cachola Family Cab France Rose
2014 Cachola Family Cabernet Franc
2012 Turtle Rock Tertre Rouge

N/V Brut Gold Label
2008 Blanc de blanc Reserve RD
2014 Chardonnay Estate
2014 Chardonnay Reserve
2010 Pinot Noir Reserve
2011 Pinot Noir Reserve
2012 Pinot Noir Reserve

2014 Rose
2015 Chardonnay – tank sample
2013 Syrah
2014 Petit Verdot – barrel sample
2014 Malbec – barrel sample
2013 Red Icon – bottle
2015 Cabernet Franc – barrel sample
2015 Petit Verdot – barrel sample

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Bottle Shock, eh! Looking back at Canadian wine’s breakout moment

June 3rd, 2016

Canadian Icewine 1991 Inniskillin winery

By Joseph Temple

With the Gulf War over and Canadians struggling through a sharp and painful recession, representatives from the Inniskillin Winery crossed the pond in June of 1991 to enter one of their best vintages at VinExpo in Bordeaux, France. Competing against more than 4,000 wines that year, a diverse group of 400 judges went through every single entry over a grueling period of five days. And when it was all said and done, this small upstart from Niagara-on-the-Lake and its 1989 Icewine shocked the world by winning the prestigious Citadelle d’Oro Grand Prix d’Honneur. “This has really put Canada on the international wine map,” said Tony Aspler, wine columnist for The Toronto Star. “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say Inniskillin’s entry was the underground hit of the show.”

Fifteen years after the Judgment of Paris, it was now time for America’s neighbor to soak in the spotlight after years of ridicule!

Sharing many parallels with California’s vino-evolution, the province of Ontario also suffered from a reputation of producing wines that were high in alcohol and consumed mainly by individuals looking for a cheap buzz. While the Golden State became infamous for Thunderbird, Canadians of the baby boom era had their own notorious libation known as Baby Duck. But more importantly, just as Napa and Sonoma had turned the corner by making some outstanding wines, Ontario vintners saw a huge opportunity to produce a high quality niche product that would be consumed by oenophiles across the world—Icewine.

Given the first license to create an estate winery since prohibition, Inniskillin blazed the trail in the mid-1970s by planting popular vinifera varieties along the Niagara Peninsula. With some grapes developing a higher concentration of sugar, Icewine, which is picked when temperatures drop to -8°C or below for a sustained period of time, quickly became the region’s unique and hidden gem. Unfortunately, just as many thought at the time that California didn’t stand a chance against Bordeaux and Burgundy, conventional wisdom at the time dictated that German Eiswein was the undisputed champion.

Described as a wine with “a taste reminiscent of tropical fruits and honey,” Inniskillin’s 1989 vintage clearly proved the skeptics wrong. With the undivided attention of 50,000 wine buyers and journalists in Bordeaux, Sylvia Kaiser, the winery’s co-founder’s wife said after winning the Grand Prix d’Honneur, “It’s like winning the film festival at Cannes and walking away with an Oscar in Hollywood.” Echoing this excitement, one French buyer at VinExpo told The Globe and Mail: “Ontario icewine is unbelievable; I’ve never tasted anything like it … It’s so fruity it makes my nose sweat—wonderful.”

Back in Canada, as people read this front-page story, they were disappointed to learn that it would be very difficult to get their hands on this award-winning bottle. With Inniskillin producing only 400 cases of Icewine annually, liquor stores at the time rarely had any bottles for sale; the vast majority was available at only four shops owned by the winery. However, with this whirlwind of free publicity, a gigantic shift in consumer behavior was about to happen.

Following this game-changing victory, production and distribution of Icewine in Ontario skyrocketed from 2,000 cases in 1990 to more than 10,000 cases by 1994 as other Niagara-based wineries got in on this rising market. By the early 2000s, approximately 21,000 cases were being produced, making the region an epicenter for this unique product. Icewine had become a proud symbol of the country’s burgeoning wine industry, being purchased across the globe from New York to Tokyo. And when looking back at the key turning point, Inniskillin’s victory served as an important catalyst, making it worthy of a Canadian Heritage Minute!


Cattell, Hudson. Wines of Eastern North America: From Prohibition to the Present—A History and Desk Reference. New York: Cornell University Press, 2013.
Lawrason, David. (1991, June 24). Ontario icewine wins prestigious award. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from
van Rijn, Nicolaas. (1991, June 23). Cheers! Ontario wine is the toast of France. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from

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Ask Sid: Different French oaks used for wine

June 1st, 2016
Ask your question here

Ask Sid: Different French oaks used for wine

Question: I hear at wine tastings a lot of different French forest names being used for the oak barrels. Find it a bit confusing including a new one to me called Jupiles. Sid would help clarify all this for me?

Answer: Excellent question because oak is confusing. Oak for wine barrels is now not only coming from France but many other regions around the world. However, the French forests have produced a variety of top quality oak for a long time. Most of them are in Central France but the key to know is the tightness of the grain. Tight grains equal less porous wood and a slower release of the wood tannins. Many other factors influence the impression you get in the wine though including air drying, toasting, new vs used etc. Complicated.

My short list of the main areas would be the following – by generally tightest to looser grain order:

TRONCAIS – central France, Very tight grain
ALLIER – central France
NEVERS – central France, Medium tightness
JUPILLES – most north western forest (Loire Valley) giving a floral character to chardonnay & a favourite of Lucien Le Moine in Burgundy.
VOSGES – most north eastern forest (Germany/Alsace border) releases more tannin.
LIMOUSIN – near Limoges, More loose grain

Hope this helps.

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