The Grape Count

In Vino Veritas- "In Wine there is Truth"
Grapes to try to date: 200

Grapes tried: 104
Grapes to go:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

#21- Petit Verdot

This wine was a special wine. We're still trying to determine if it was the setting, the timing of the drinking of the wine or that the wine itself was very good. My suggestion to you is to try it yourself and let me know.

Now why do I ask such questions? Well, have a close look at our pictures. This wasn't just a regular wine tasting nor a walk in the park. No, it was much more than that.

Craig and I decided to a weekend of camping and hiking in Jasper National Park here in our home province of Alberta. If you're not from Alberta, you definitely want to come for a visit and see the spectacular Rocky Mountains. If you're from this province, you know what I'm talking about. Jasper National Park is about 3 hours west of Edmonton Alberta and close to the British Columbia border. It is a stunning park with lots of activities to do, both in summer and winter. While I could tell you about our mishaps snowboarding (I probably did come to think of it...) our summer activities are a little less dangerous (though I could post the picture of my cut up finger after I slipped on a rock trying to take some funky pictures).

So, Craig and I planned our weekend of hiking in Jasper. To make a long story short, and one I'll revisit a few times over the next 10 months, I am trekking to Base Camp Mount Everest next May so I have to train for my 25 day excursion. Craig and I chose to tackle two hikes- Geraldine Lakes and Valley of the Five Lakes.

A 12km round trip, Geraldine Lakes is a challenging hike and it takes a couple of hours to make it to the second lake (and where we stopped to drink wine and pose for pics). After hiking 6km, we're not sure if everything tastes amazing or not, but the Petit Verdot was absolutely delicious.

Finally, I'm talking about the wine! The wine is an Australian wine and is from the Deen de Bortoli Vat Series (4) winery. The Petit Verdot was a common grape used in a blended wine such as the Bordeaux in the "Old World" countries. In the "New World" countries, such as Australia, it is often used as a single varietal.

The wine is very acidic and is considered a heavyweight. I'm starting to think it was indeed just the combination we needed to make this such a fantastic wine to drink on a hot day and and at the end of a 2 hour climb (that and we didn't have to worry about keeping the wine chilled). It did have a spicy kick to it and according to the website, blackcurrents (how appropos for a hike in the mountains!)

Being responsible climbers, Craig and I only had a small glass each (plastic wine glasses too) and it was our incentive to get back to camp and drink it with dinner. After heading down the trail, Craig and I decided to do one more hike that evening (Valley of the Five Lakes) before we got back to our campsite at Wabasso campground. And just as Craig and I pulled up to the site, the sky decided to pour buckets of rain on us. We quickly set up our "kitchen" to stay dry and Craig quickly set to work barbequing us dinner. And what a fantastic dinner it was! There's nothing like a great steak on the barbeque. The potatoes were put in tin foil right into the fire. We had some vegetables to round out our dinner. And guess what? The wine was just as fantastic as it had been 4 hours earlier. This complimented the red meat beautifully and we were quickly able to finish the bottle off before dinner was done!

The next wine is a white wine- A Verdehlo. It too was brought on the trip for day two of our hikes but Craig felt a little under the weather on Monday so we came home instead. But not to worry, we always find a way to come through for our loyal readers!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Recapping wines 1 through 20

I thought I'd take this opportunity to do recap of the first 20 wines my brother and I have tasted. It also gives you a quick cheat sheet of the wines so far if you'd like to try this at home (yes, I said try this at home). I give you the grape varietal, whether it's red or white, the name of the winery, the country and of course my rating (a very simple one- like, dislike or neutral).

Like: 14
Dislike: 4
Neutral: 2

Red: 9
White: 11

Countries: Argentina, Spain, Germany, Canada, United States, Hungary, Portugal, France, Chile, Australia, Italy, Austria and South Africa

1. Chardonnay (White) DISLIKE
Catena Winery, Argentina

2. Grenache (Red) LIKE
Las Rocas Winery, Spain

3. Riesling (White) LIKE
Deinhard Piesporter Goldtropfchen Winery, Germany

4. Gamay (Red) LIKE
Hillside Estate, Canada

5. Merlot (Red) LIKE
Barefoot Winery, United States

6. Furmint (White) DISLIKE
Tokaji Region Winery, Hungary

7. Arinto (White) LIKE
Prova Regia Winery, Portugal

8. Mourvedre (Red) LIKE
Altos De La Hoya, Bodegas Olivares Winery, Spain

9. Gewurztraminer (White) LIKE
Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Canada

10. Viognier (White) LIKE
Domaine de Mont Auriol Winery, France

11. Malbec (Red) DISLIKE
LoTengo, Botego Norton, Argentina

12. Carmenere (Red) NEUTRAL
Vina Chocolan Winery, Chile

13. Muscat Blanc (White) LIKE
Bonterra Vineyards, United States

14. Cabernet Sauvignon (Red) LIKE
Jim Barry Cover Drive Winery, Australia

15. Trebbiano D’Abruzzo (White)LIKE
Citra Winery, Italy

16. Vermentino (White) NEUTRAL
Poggio Tufo Winery, Italy

17. Gruner Veltliner (White) LIKE
Kurt Angerer Winery, Austria

18. Zweigelt (Red) LIKE
Pleil Winery, Austria

19. Fiano (White) DISLIKE
Mandra Rossa Winery, Italy

20. Tinta Bacocca (Red) LIKE
Allesverloren Winery, South Africa

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

#20- Tinta Barocca

Drinking wine in Edmonton lately hasn't exactly been fun, unless you're a Vancouverite and you're used to rainy weather. We have had the most bizarre weather this year and what we're experiencing has some people on edge. If you've been a longtime Edmonton resident, green clouds make you think of one thing- tornadoes! So to get a sunny break is few and far between this summer (though I hear a rumour from CTV weatherman Josh Classen that we're in for a hot spell)

Anyway, my point is, wine drinking hasn't been as enjoyable as it should be outside so I went to the store with the intention of buying some reds that can be drank in less than stellar weather. Interesting enough, I went to Crestwood Wines in West Edmonton and managed to pick up not one but four new wines!! Add that to the three wines my sister found for me in Washington and we are good for 19 through 26! The best part though was when I went to the register to pay for my wine, the cashier noticed the unusual wines and said to me "interesting, all very rare grape varietals!" Ha!! Finally someone noticed that I've been picking odd wines! So I told him what I was doing and he found it very interesting. Not interesting enough for him to become a follower of this blog, but enough for a two minute conversation.

So with four wines in hand, I headed home and took out one of the reds (three reds and one white) and put it in the fridge for a quick chill. The wine is a Tinta Barocca wine and my first wine from South Africa! A product of Swartland, the winery is Allesverloren, a winery about 100 miles from Cape Town. The Tinta Barocca grape is very rare and was originally a portugese port varietal. It is very smooth and oaky and has just a touch of fruit flavours. If you like a malbec wine (of which I'm a huge fan) you will really like a Tinta Barocca as they are very similar in taste.

I very much enjoyed this wine and took advantage that I knew this wine would likely go well with steak. The sun decided to peak from the clouds so I decided to whip up a quick cucumber, steak and onion salad with just a simple vinegar dressing. Outside I went to enjoy the five minutes of brief sun, listen to the birds chirp, the jack rabbit hop by and the wine hit my taste buds just right as I sat back and enjoyed my evening before I had to pack for my weekend trip to the mountains (and yes, I brought wine with me!)

After packing up the car and heading to the parents to stay the night (I was borrowing their trailer and it made sense just to stay over for my 6am wake up call. Alright, too much information and moving on...) Craig got to try the wine later that evening and he did enjoy it though he is a fan of fruitier reds. While he enjoyed it (and almost broke the cork trying to get at the wine) it wouldn't be on his top 10 list. But he didn't like the Malbec either so it made sense that he wasn't a huge fan of the Tinta Barocca.

So it was a quick hot tub and then off to bed. Twenty wines down, 165 to go! The next few weeks are going to so much fun as we've decided we have to double up on our wine tasting to two a week to make up for my trips...alright...if we have to....

Our next wine is another red- the Petit Verdot!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

#19- Fiano

Viva Italia- usually. I think this wine was a bit of a miss. We didn't have a problem drinking it, but it certainly was nothing of note. In other words, pass! The poor Italians- first they lose in the World Cup and now this- a disappointing wine. Tsk tsk.

The Italian wine I tried was a Fiano, from the Mandra Rossa Winery in Sicily. The Fiano grape is a fairly rare grape, mainly because it grows a very small yield. The Fiano is only grown in Italy and Australia. You'd think with it being such a rare wine that it would be expensive, but you'd be wrong. This bottle of wine was on sale for $14.99 from the Liquor Depot in West Edmonton. I literally walked into the store, saw the wine on display, checked to see if the Fiano grape was on my list, and when confirmed, bought it! The whole transaction took me less than two minutes.

I had high hopes for this wine, with it being Italian. Maybe they should stick to red. Anyway, I drank this wine with a nice vegetarian salad. I was still eating salmon from my barbeque a few night before but I really felt I needed just a good plate of vegetables. So a beautiful salad was on tap for dinner. The wine was chilled, the sun was shining, the salad calling my name- so I ate outside on my patio to enjoy the wine...

And was disappointed. The wine itself tasted like fortified apple juice. To me, it was very fruity and flat. This wine may have been not half bad had it been carbonated. Reading about this Fiano in particular, it mentions that their is a strong taste of tropical fruit. Is apple tropical? It also mentions it goes well with white meat and fish so I guess it was okay to be eating left over salmon again...

I took the wine over to my brother's house a couple of days later and he drank it prior to a couple of the others (and a big steak dinner). He didn't mind the wine but had similar thoughts on it about it tasting fruity. He was able to drink it just as is, with no food accompanying his drinking so it couldn't have been that bad. But it certainly wouldn't be a wine I'd recommend any time soon. I'd like to try a different Fiano (maybe when I'm in Italy in the fall perhaps?) to compare.

The next wine is #20!! I think we're doing a Zinfandel or Primitivo (same grape) as we have a couple of bottles that we're eager to try. So maybe #20 will be a comparison of two wines, two names, one grape!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

#18- Zweigelt

If you like a Valpolicella, you will like this wine! One of the very first wines I was ever introduced to was a Masi Valpolicella by my friend Mark in St. Catharines, Ontario. That's when I was living in Ottawa and made frequent trips to the Niagara region. It was here that I attended their wine festivals and began to appreciate wine for what it is.While a Valpolicella is a mix of 4 different grape varietals (and therefore I can't drink it as a part of this 185 grape experiment), the Zweigelt grape comes very very close to its taste.

The Zweigelt grape comes from Austria and this wine does also. The Pleil Winery in Weinvertel, Austria (two Austrian wines in a row!).I didn't realize until I started exploring more wines that Austria was such a big producer of wines! We've drank two of their most popular grapes varieties- the Gruner Veltliner and the Zweigelt but they do produce many good wines. I should mention too that Austria is the home of Schnaps and I had the pleasure of visiting the original Schnaps store in Vienna and brought a boatload back including their infamous Absinthe! That has nothing to do from wine but Austrians understand, know and market their alcohol very very well.

The wine is velvety, not unlike the Valpolicella. It is dry and leaves a subtle but apparent aftertaste in your mouth. It is not a wine to be sipped slowly and by itself on a warm evening but works well with food. I had a lot of salmon leftover from the previous evening and it was beautiful outside and I wasn't about to cook. So barbequed salmon in a  light garden salad it is. Not exactly a perfect meat and wine match but it worked for me on this occasion. It is usually flavoured with fruit such as cherries and while I could taste the fruit, I couldn't be sure that it was cherries. This is also a wine that definitely needs to breathe and I noticed a difference in taste as I let the wine sit there.

While I loved this wine, my brother could have cared less, even with the bottle having been opened for a few days already. He didn't particularly take to it and found the taste quite strong. I did notice however, that it stop him from drinking the glass! He is becoming more and more attuned to red wines but he still favours white wines and a white wine was up next so I'm pretty sure he was looking forward to that one! In any case, he won't be grabbing for a Zweigelt any time soon. That's okay. We still have a 165+ wines to go! The next one on our list is an Italian wine and it took some searching to find- the Fiano.

Friday, July 2, 2010

#17- Gruner Veltliner

It finally happened. I have actually been to the country where the wine is from in Europe! While I have had the pleasure of visiting the Sonoma and Napa Valleys in California, the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia and the Niagara Region in Ontario, I have yet to visit another country where I've drank their wine. Until now. All hail the Austrian Gruner Veltliner. Some of the other countres that produce this grape variety are the Czech Republic, Hungary and the United States (and amazingly enough, I've been to all four of those countries but not once did I drink a Gruner Veltliner when I was there. At least not that I know of!)

Specifically a 2006 Kurt Angerer from Legenfeld, Austria, I purchased this wine at the Sherbrooke Liquor Store in Edmonton for about $21. This store is amazing. Confusing as first because they don't put up signs indicating what country the wine is from, it's either stupidity or genius to do that because I spent a lot of time in there looking for a specific wine (it was sold out) but discovered many other wines I'd like to try. And I stumbled across this Gruner Veltliner.

A barbeque was necessary this evening as it was beautiful outside. I had 6 salmon fillets to barbeque (note: I ate salmon for the next six meals, good thing I liked it). So for this meal, I barbequed the salmon with just some olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled some vegetables as the side.

This wine went very well with the salmon and a Gruner Veltliner is known as a food friendly wine. Very easy to drink. Crisp and dry, it left no aftertaste in the mouth. Pleasant on the tongue for sure. And you could taste just the slightest of pepper or spice in the wine, a very nice compliment with fish.

I had no problem drinking a couple of glasses of this wine. And neither did my brother. I dropped the wine off  a couple of days later at my brother's so he could stay caught up with me. I saw him last night and he said he really enjoyed the Gruner Veltliner. He must have as the bottle was empty and ready for me to take back home. I think he's liking this wine drinking thing...the next wine on tap is an Italian wine- a red (of course) with an un-Italian name, the Zweigelt.