I really looked forward to the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fair this year as they had two theme countries: New Zealand and Argentina. Both are southern hemisphere countries, with different climates and styles of wines that they produce. New Zealand having renowned cooler climate pinot noirs and white aromatic wines, while Argentina is known for their big Malbecs, but also for an aromatic white called Torrontes. As you may know, I am the chair of the South World Wine Society here in Vancouver, so having these two countries bringing their fine wines for me to try, and to buy for the Society was fantastic.
There was a ton of Argentinean Malbecs there. If you like full bodied wines, please try a Malbec. All the Malbecs mentioned are from the Mendoza region. A few Malbecs I really enjoyed (there are more):
- Casa Montes Bodegas & Vinedos “Alzamora Gran Reserva Malbec 2006”
- Cavas del 23, “Beviam Reserve Malbec 2007”
- Vina Cobos “Bramare Malbec Lujan de Cuyo 2007”
- Bodega Catena Zapata “Alta Malbec 2006”
- Bodegas Escorihuela 1884 “1884 Limited Production Malbec 2006”
- Bodegas Salentein Primum Malbec
- Bodega Vistalba “Tomero Gran Reserve Malbec 2006”
The Casa Montes Bodegas & Vinedos, Alzamora Gran Reserva Malbec 2006 has nothing to do with the Montes winery in Chile. Same name, different family. This wine is opaque purple in the glass. Dusty with black petter aromas. Full body with ripe black fruit and lots of spice. Something to enjoy with a grilled steak.
The Cavas del 23 winery had a few nice red wines. Their Beviam Reserve Malbec 2007 had vanilla and purple fruit aromas. Medium to full bodied, with ripe plum flavours. Low tannins and a dry finish make this an easy drinking Malbec.
The Vina Cobos Bramare Malbec Lujan de Cuyo 2007 has a vanilla, cedary, cherry nose. Ripe black fruit, cassis and black cherry flavours, with medium tannins. I marked a star beside this wine in my notes.
One of my favorite, overall consistent wineres in Argentina, is Bodega Catena Zapata. Their Bodega Catena Zapata Alta Malbec 2006 has light black cherry aromas. Full bodied, with ripe black fruit, medium tannins and very smooth.
The Bodegas Escorihuela 1884, 1884 Limited Production Malbec 2006 has nice cassis, plum and cherry flavours. The flavours build in your mouth as you swirl it. Quite firm tannins, so drink this one with food. It is believed that the first 100% Malbec wine in Argentina was bottled by this winery.
The Bodegas Salentein winery is located in the Uco Valley located southwest of Mendoza City. It is widely considered one of the top wine regions in Mendoza. The Bodegas Salentein Primum Malbec was outstanding. Opaque purple in the glass. Reserved vanilla and plum nose. Ripe plum and cassis flavour with some spice and firm tannins. A very high quality Malbec.
My last Malbec is the Bodega Vistalba Tomero Gran Reserve Malbec 2006. Opaque purple in the glass with full purple fruit aromas. Dark plum and cherry with liuqor fruit flavours. Smooth.
New Zealand is well known for their Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, and there were plenty of fine examples to be tasted. But what was suprising was the number of Pinot Gris that were available. I knew that Pinot Gris is available in New Zealand, but was suprised how many made it across the Pacific Ocean to reach our shores. I purchased 3 in particular:
- St. Helena Pinot Gris 2008 ($21.99)
- Mount Riley Pinot Gris 2009 (19.99)
- Gibbston Dream Maker Pinot Gris 2008 ($29.99)
The St. Helena Pinot Gris 2008 was roses and peach on the nose. Round mouth feel, with medium acidity. Peachy flavour with slight spice and oak.
Mount Riley Pinot Gris 2009 had a light peach and apricot nose. Off dry, and quite flavourful. Lots of peach flavour and a bit of spice on the finish. This is a family-own New Zealand company and it’s first vintage was in 1996. Today they are among the top 10 vineyard owners in Marlborough.
The Gibbston Highgate Estate winery is located in the high altitude of Central Otago, which is in the southern end of the South Island in New Zealand. The area is well-known for their “wild” aromatic pinot noirs. I was happy to see pinot gris coming out of Central Otago as well. The Gibbston Highgate Estate Dream Maker Pinot Gris 2008 has a light sweet citrus / honey / peach nose. Medium acid with some roundness on the palate. Vanilla and peach flavours.
All wonderful choices for summer.
As you know, I love Pinot Noir, and I was waiting to try some new ones from New Zealand. Two in particular I really liked was the:
- Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir 2007
- Woollaston Estates Tussock Nelson Pinot Noir 2007
The Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir was medium garnet in the glass. A very pretty raspberry and plum nose. Raspberry, leafy, cherry flavours. Slightly spicy. Silky on the palate. Very nice!
The Woollaston Estates Tussock Nelson Pinot Noir was very aromatic with strawberry and raspberry aromas. Cherry and raspberry flavours. Medium body, medium acidity. Vanilla on the finish.
There was of course many sauvignon blancs to choose from:
- Elephant Hill Estate and Winery Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2008
- Mount Riley Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2009
- Sacred Hill Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009
The Elephant Hill Estate and Winery is located in the warmer climate of Hawke’s Bay. Many red wines come from Hawke’s Bay, but also some nice white wines. The Elephant Hill Estate and Winery Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2008 was pale lemon colour with a herbal nose. Medium acidity, with herbal and gooseberry flavours, and jalapeno pepper finish.
The Mount Riley Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2009 is pale lemon colour in the glass. Light gooseberry nose. High acid with some minerality and lemon rind. Herbal finish. Elegant.
The Sacred Hill Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 also has light gooseberry aromas. High acid, quite herbal, with salty minerality. Enjoy with shrimps or oysters on the half shell.
In Part 2 of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival review I will cover wines outside of New Zealand and Argentina. There are also many other New Zealand wines I’d like to cover. Stay tuned for Part 2. Cheers.
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