Wine News Articles For Today

An article on Bio wines

A blog post from the Grey Report on BC Wines

A write up on Canadian Wines from SouthChina Post

Decanter on how Elaborate wine descriptions improve taste

For Gin Day All about Gin What is in My Gin (Gin Botanicals)

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Le Vieux Pin The Equinoxe Series

34070 73rd and Black Sage Rd
Oliver, B.C. V0H 1T0

” Equinoxe: equal day, equal night. Equal old world, equal new world.”

The Equinoxe label  from Le Vieux Pin is a very limited production series, with total production ranging from one to three barrels in each vintage.  The winery uses two sorting tables, open top  oak fermentors and a small one ton basket press to produce these wines. The price point is indicative of the labor taken to craft them. They are, as the winery states, pricey.

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Posted in barrels, BC Wines and Wineries, Cabernet Franc, canadian wines, Chardonnay, food and wine pairing, Le Vieux Pin, Le Viuex Pin, Merlot, oak, rhone wines, Syrah, VQA, wine tasting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards and Wines

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
32830 Tinhorn Creek RD
Oliver BC V0H 1TQ

Tinhorn Creek

We are going to talk about of a couple of Tinhorn Creek wines and then Tinhorn’s environmental and sustainable efforts in both the vineyard and the winery. No matter how much effort you put into being green and sustainable, you still have to make good or great wines. So, first we are going to review a sampling of Tinhorn wines.

Chardonnay $17.99

We have probably drunk cases, maybe gallons of this wine sitting on decks in the Okanagan. We like this chard. A great summer sipper, it is what we look for in a Chardonnay. A lightly oaked, fruit forward wine.

Tech Stuff PH3.7, RS<2.0g/l, TA6.0, Acl 12.9% 15% new Oak 100% malolactic fermentation.

Cabernet Franc 2010 $19.99

 This is, for me, a great example of what British Columbia can do with Cabernet Franc. A varietally correct wine with dark fruit, tobacco, cedar and herb notes. A big Cab Franc with lots of tannins and a long finish. This wine has vintage variations making it interesting to try, year after year.

You know those days when you kick your shoes off, put your feet up and go ahhh. This is the bottle of wine to pair with that feeling.

Tech Stuff PH3.71, RS<2.0g/l, TA 6.0, Acl 13.9% , 2-3 year old American and French Oak barrels for 12 months.

Oldfield Series 2Bench Rose 2011 $22.99

If you are looking for a sweet Rose this is not it. This is a dry style rose with strawberry and some pepper and spice notes. We have tried to kill this wine with food pairings, to date with no success . Deep fried anchovies did not even faze it. Hot sauce and dim sum? A match. Peppered steak? Good with it. We can see why some restaurants are now serving this wine by the glass. Sorry, it is only sold at the winery, but if you join the wine club there is a discount. We bought a case late this spring and it is all gone.

Tech Stuff PH 3.42, RS <2.0g/l, TA 6.75G/l, Acl 12.9% 100% Cab Franc

The View From Tinhorn Creek

“The team at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards believe that as stewards of the land they must strive for a balance between agriculture and nature”

Tinhorn Creek was the very first Canadian winery to complete the Climate Smart Program and the first winery in Canada to be carbon neutral. The winery was also the first in the Okanagan to use bio diesel in all its tractors. Used barrels  are recycled.  The winery tanks are cleaned with a super efficient high-pressure system to reduce  water usage by 80%.

The bottles used are made from 50% reclaimed glass. All glass, cardboard and paper is recycled.

New Plantings with Drip Irrigation

To quote Andrew Moon, the goal is to manage the vineyards as naturally as possible. All grape residue from the wine making process is composted and used on the vineyards.

The winery plants vegetation in between rows to reduce erosion. No toxic baits  are used to control animal pests. All the vineyards have a buffer zone between the vines and sensitive areas .The winery is converting their overhead irrigation to drip in order to save water.

Prepping for new plantings and irrigation install

The winery also has taken a stewardship role. Tinhorn has been recognized by The Land Conservancy as a Conservation partner thanks, in part, to their Endangered Snake Protection Program. The winery has erected snake barrier fencing, which is about a foot high.  This keeps the snakes in their natural habitat which keeps them of roadways, thus drastically reducing their mortality rate.

The Snake Fence at Tinhorn Creek

Tinhorn staff, with much TLC, have replanted around 6000 native plants at the top of the vineyard to help with the Antelope Brush Habitat Restoration Program.

Tinhorn also supports the Boys and Girls Club of Canada with  2.5% of their annual income after taxes, exhibiting great corporate responsibility.

So, not only are these good wines to drink, but every time you do you are helping the environment as well. A quote from Tinhorn Creek: “We are stewards of the land and our relationships with them; people rely on us for their livelihoods and trust us to keep them safe; we must reduce our production of carbon and conserve the use of water, preserving the integrity of our watersheds”. Pretty much says it all.

Owners Sandra and Ken Oldfield with Bob and Barbera Shaunessy and Shaun Everest

Acreage 150 acres 100 Black Sage Bench, 50 Golden Mile

Year established 1993

Wine Maker Sandra Oldfield

Viticulturist Andrew Moon

Cases Produced 35,000

Tasting room  is open daily from 10am to 6pm from March 1st to December 31st and from 10am to 5pm January 2nd to February 28th.

Maps and Directions

Wine Club


by Frank Haddad

Posted in barrels, BC Wines and Wineries, Cabernet Franc, canadian wines, corks, food and wine pairing, oak, Rose, screw caps, Stelvin, Syrah, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Painted Rock Estate Winery

Painted Rock Estate Winery
400 Smythe Drive
Penticton BC, Canada, V2A 8W6

Painted Rock

The Painted Rocks

The Wines

2011 Chardonnay $26.70

This Chardonnay is a great food wine. The oak does not overwhelm on this wine because of its nice restrained use. I wish more Chard producers would be this careful with their use of oak. This is not a buttery Chardonnay by any stretch of the imagination. Nice minerality to it. I always have a bottle or two in the wine rack as it is an excellent go-to wine for dinner.

There were three micro harvests on the Chardonnay. The first harvest of golden clusters was approximately 20% of the fruit, five days later they harvested 60% and another six days later they harvested the remaining 20%. These wines were then made separately and blended after five months in new French oak. We tasted a difference in these in the spring, but the blend has worked for this vintage. The first harvest underwent malolactic fermentation and the others did not, so some nice acidity and structure.

Tech Stuff Residual Sugar .1, PH 3.33, Acid 7.5g/l, Alc 14.3% Aged 5 months Sur Lie 100% New French Oak

Syrah 2009 $36.54

Painted Rock has two different blocks of Syah and we tasted both blocks separately this spring from the barrel and thought that they had a winner here. They won a 2012 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in BC wines for this wine. I think of this wine as old world styled Syrah . Great purple color in the glass , blueberries, dark cherries and purple plums on the palate. It the spiced notes, and the white pepper notes that we like from the upper part of the Okanagan valley. You will love the nose on this wine. The perfect wine for a nice peppered steak. This wine does not need food to smooth it out at all and we have been known to drink it without food, as an evening sipper.  A great wine at good price point.

Tech Stuff RS 2.0g/l, Acid6.1g/l, PH 3.75, Acl 14.3% ,70% new French oak and 25% new American oak 18 Months

Red Icon 2009 $49.02

The nose has some bell pepper, black currants, cedar and a herbal note of mint. The palate has some dark chocolate, coffee with some big fruit, blackberries, and currants from the Cabernet. A big, structured wine with lots of tannins. I have tasted some older vintages of this wine and believe there is a huge aging potential here. Think steak with this one. Winner of A 2012 Lieutenant Governors’ Award for Excellence in BC Wines. Blend 30% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Sirah, 1% Syrah. The Cab Franc we tasted in the barrel was just a blockbuster. Now if we can just convince John to bottle it on it own?

Tech Stuff  Acid 5.0, PH3.69, RS 2.0 g/L Alc 14.3% 95% New French Oak 18 Months


John Skinner and his team have spared no expense in equipping the winery with all of the best possible equipment and gear. This press is one of the best you can buy for a low production producer. As you can see, it can only handle small batches and the press rate and pressure can be controlled to very small increments.

Gabriel Reis the cellar master is taking a vat sample of the Chardonnay for us in this picture.

Most these barrels iare quality French Oak along with  some American Oak. Very expensive French oak. The oak treatment in all of the Painted Rock wines shows a lot of restraint, we find, with just the right amount of oak  and aging that we have come to expect from all the Painted Rock wines.

It may be hard to tell from the picture, but each one of these vines is pruned differently.  Painted Rock is pruning each individual vine to its optimum bud count so that each vine is producing according to what it can ripen most effectively. The individual vine pruning will also  help the vineyard be more consistent in  future years. Here is a quote from John Skinner when I asked for more info on the pruning “It was to tax the less successful plants less, to balance the vigor and carry the right proportion of fruit . Over time it will be one of the important initiatives that we have undertaken to create as a perfect balance as we can in the vineyard”

One thing that is very easily forgotten when drinking a great bottle of wine from a quality producer such as Painted Rock, is that this is a farm. Not only do you have vintage variation, but nature sometimes conspires against you. This picture is a of  electrified bear fence. One year a tribe of black bears decided that they liked Merlot, a lot. Then ate twenty tons of it. The bear fence was installed shortly there after.

Owners John and Trish Skinner

Vineyard Manager Barry Green

Cellar Master Gabriel Reis

Acreage 25 Acres

Planted 2005

Average case production 5000

Painted Rock Estate Winery

400 Smythe Drive
Penticton, BC, Canada, V2A 8W6

Wine shop open from May 1 to Oct 15 11-5 pm daily
Driving Directions

Tel: 1 604 306 1107 or 1 250 493 6809



by Frank Haddad

Posted in barrels, BC Wine Institute, BC Wines and Wineries, Cabernet Sauvignon, canadian wines, Chardonnay, food and wine pairing, oak, Painted Rock Estate Winery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nebbiolo King of Piedmonte



Nebbiolo is considered to be one of the classic grape varieties of Italy. Nebbiolo is also the only grape grown in the great Barolo and Barbaresco DOCG’s. In my next post, I will discuss the Barolo region and the different wine styles being produced there. But for now, we’ll concentrate on the grape itself. Nebbiolo, unfortunately does not seem to travel well from its northern Italian home. There ARE small amounts planted throughout the world, but these plantings fail to live up to the standard Nebbiolo achieves in Piedmont. Another interesting fact; despite the high regard accorded Nebbiolo, it only accounts for 6% of the total vineyard area, even in its primary residency of Piedmont.

The main regions that use Nebbiolo are Barolo and Barbaresco and, even more to the north, Gattinara and Ghemme. For a softer, more approachable and less expensive interpretation, try a Langhe and Nebbiolo d’Alba Doc as an alternative to the big burly Barolos.

Nebbiolo has a very long history. It is probably the oldest vine planted in the Piedmonte. It was first mentioned in 1303 as growing in Canale d’ Alba’. It was actually known as “Nebiolo” even at that early date. In the fifteenth century, you could lose a hand if you cut down a Nebbiolo vine. If you got caught twice, you may have been hanged. They obviously thought quite highly of Nebbiolo even then. As I see it, anyone with the bad grace to cut down a Nebbiolo vine should be hung anyway.

Inferno Vineyard Valtellina

Nebbiolo, as with most old grape varieties, is prone to mutations. There are approximately forty different clones of Nebbiolo, some much more successful than others. Of these original forty, three clones are now widely grown. These three are Lampia, Michet and Rose. Rose, however, has fallen out of fashion due to the light colour of the wines it produces. Some of the minor clones are planted elsewhere in Italy. Picoutener is preferred in the far north, while in Valtellina it its Chiavennasca.

Nebbiolo is fussy about climate and where it puts its feet. It buds early and is late ripening. This grape needs south-facing slopes to ripen properly in the continental climate of northern Italy. Nebbiolo does get the best growing areas of the Laghne, because of the

Fog in Piedmonte

prestige it has in this region and elsewhere in the world. It is thought that Nebbiolo gets its name from ‘Nebbia’, the fog that happens in the Piedmonte in October, when the grapes are finally ripe. Unfortunately, Nebbiolo is also quite prone to Colotura, or poor fruit set. For that reason, it must be sheltered from the winds.

Nebbiolo produces huge wines with full extract and tannins and even more tannins. Did I mention that they have tannins? Surprisingly, these tannins are extracted from very thin skins. The tannins are complimented and balanced by the high acidity of this grape variety. The tannins and acids are essential and enable these wines to age for years. The classic tasting note is black cherries, tar, roses and leather. I prefer the French term goudron, a rather more elegant term than tar. These are not jammy, fruity wines. Think spicy, floral and savory. They become very complex with a little age and defy description at times. Also with age, they take on a brick red on the rim, along with notes of truffle and wild herbs, losing the rose and floral notes. Think big foods with these wines; roasts and game. Wines crafted from Nebbiolo can age for decades, and hold up well with plenty of body and taste. I have had some fantastic wines that were over forty years old. Oh, and that is going to be expanded upon in an upcoming post.

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