The Grape Count

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

Grapes tried: 104
Grapes to go:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

#31- Tempranillo

I would have thought the Tempranillo grape would have tasted similar to the Bonarda grape. Both are very similar in terms of acidity and are both considered middleweight wines. Both are usually flavoured with hints of strawberries or raspeberries. Both are spanish wines. But they didn't taste at all the same.

Kristin tasted both wines as well and like the Bonarda better but quickly wondered if it was because the wine had been open longer and had time to breathe. Perhaps. I keep making a mental note to myself to decant my reds from now on. The tempranillo did have a slight oaky taste to it so that could be it (as Kris is not a fan)

TheTempranillo wine was a celebration of sorts. This night was a special one. My brother was coming home with his baby boy Liam and his girlfriend Sharon. Born four months ago in Ontario we had only seen Liam through pictures. To say the family was excited to meet Liam was an understatement. So of course being the family that we are, we celebrated with wine!! On another note, I am happy to report that Sharon likes wine so she'll fit into this family just fine.

With hearts full of love, we turned to our other love and opened the wine. The great thing was that I had six (yes, six) bottles of wine for us to drink. Craig and I had been nice enough to leave enough wine in the bottles for people to try out the wines. So we dug in.

But Kris, Craig and I tried the tempranillo along with our turkey dinner. I know I know, a red with white meat is a huge no no but do I look like someone who cares? It was the only wine I had left in my cellar (ha, cellar...) and I wasn't about to go and buy a white wine for dinner when I had to rush there before they arrived home. So red wine and turkey it is! Mom made the dinner as she had to serve 10 of us at least. It's a quick and easy dinner to make and it was delicious!

The tempranillo wine was purchased at the Cellar in Calgary for $18.95, a great deal for this wine. The winery is Bordegas Ercavio Mas Que Vinos in Spain. I'll definitely want to try this wine again (maybe tomorrow night if there's some left) and see if the taste has changed at all. I still liked it.

So who knows what wines are next for me? I am still behind on my once a week deal so I have some catching up to do! I'm about to leave on a three week European vacation with stops in some of the most amazing wine countries in the world (France, Italy, Germany, Austria) so I'm hoping I remember and am sober enough to pick up some bottles of wine I can't pick up here! So this is it for me for a few weeks.

#30- Pinotage

There is nothing more rewarding than having an accomplished day and coming home to a great bottle of wine. Whether it's a great day at work, a wonderful afternoon with your kids or a surprise evening with friends, a great bottle of wine can just be the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae (I have my metaphor mixed up here but you get it...)

Craig and I had an amazing day of climbing, no make that a weekend of climbing and we were ready to just relax for the rest of the night. Craig wasn't feeling the greatest (why would he when he has bronchitis and I'm making him climb steep climbs with me?) so we were eager to get some food into us. Always the chef, Craig kicked the fire back up and immediately started to prep the steak (Montreal steak spice anyone?) and I started prepping the potatoes. I sliced the potatoes and stuffed in some onion slices and some butter, wrapped them in tin foil and set them on the fire to cook.

The food was delicious and was nicely paired with our last wine for the weekend- the Pinotage. It is also known as South Africa's red grape. And this was one an excellent bottle of wine. Not too acidic but with a nice kick to it, it was a nice balance to the red meat on the plate. It had a smoky taste to it, a similar taste to a Malbec. This almost had a smoky taste to it (or was it the campfire?). This South African wine was definitely a great wine to have with dinner and I and indulge in a couple of glasses before hanging out at the fire for the rest of the evening before turning in.

The bottle of wine was bought a while ago but if I remember correctly it was around the $24.00 mark. The winery is Graham Beck and this year alone they have won quite a few awards for their wines. They have a ton of information about the history of their wineries and the wine making process on their website so definitely check it out.

By the end of the evening Craig and I were exhausted and when I say end of the night, I mean 9 pm (which in reality was really 8 pm as we forgot to set our clocks back the hour for the time difference). But it was probably a good thing we check out early as it started to rain just as we had tucked ourselves into bed.

The next morning we packed up and headed back to Alberta and home. Craig complained we hadn't seen any wildlife all weekend other than rodents. That was until we were just about to leave Jasper National Park when this guy decided to step out in front of us! The next wine: tempranillo.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

#29- Albarino

Oh Albarino you are one lucky grape. You could have been the worst tasting grape ever and we still would have enjoyed you. The circumstance called for the enjoyment of a glass of wine. Let me explain a little but first, about the bottle of wine.

The Albarino grape is a popular grape in western europe/mediterranean area (Portual and Spain). Our bottle of wine is from Spain, in particular from Rias Baixus.

The Albarino grape is not at all acidic and is very crisp and light tasting, especially after a ridiculous hike (more later, I promise it's coming). It's very floral and aromatic and I really enjoyed this wine. Craig did not (or he didn't like it as much as the Cattarratto). I blame his cold for his lack of taste. Or the lack of air perhaps. Time will tell.

But I really did like this wine and couldn't wait to get back to the campsite to drink more. You see, we did limit ourselves on our first wine tasting because of our location. Craig and I didn't do just any old hike last Sunday. No we did a hike that took us up a staggering 425 metres in less than 2km. In other words, we did a super steep climb.

Our hike started off normal enough. Craig and I did a nice 6km loop called the Overlander Falls circuit. Beautiful Falls and a nice walk along the Fraser River is what greeted us as we started out on our trek. We ended up back at the visitor centre and Craig and I decided to do what we thought would be a quick and easy hike up to the Viewpoint for Mt. Robson. Wrong. Oh so very wrong.

Back to the wine for a quick moment. Keep in mind that I am hiking with over 25lbs of weight on me to prepare myself for my trek up to Nepal. I also had a full bottle of wine and two wine glasses in my pack. Ok, now back to the story.

Craig and I stared out climb up to the viewpoint, mistakenly thinking it was only 0.5 km up (after another 1.2km hike into the woods) and a slight climb. We should really learn to read before trying these things. At 0.5 km or so, we realized we were wrong as the trail climbed very steeply and started into switchbacks (always a clear indication that your hike is gonna be tough). We kept going. We got tired. We swore a lot. It started to rain on us. No one else was on the trail other than a nice older Japanese couple who shut us up quickly (if they could do it, we have no excuse) and we climbed some more. We took breaks. We lost our breath. We wondered if the top of the mountain would ever appear.

It did. But it was a seriously tough climb, the last 0.6 km were ridiculously tough. But then we came to the viewpoint and ran into another young couple from the Edmonton area. What a sight! (the pictures don't do it justice nor do they show how high we actually were). So Craig and I celebrated by cracking open the bottle of wine and whipping out some snacks to carb up (note to selves: do this prior to hiking up, hiking down isn't as hard) with beef jerky, dehydrated mango, some chocolate and trail mix.  We also drank a ton of Gatorade while we were at it.

Craig and I spent about 40 minutes at the top, enjoying the view that we had just hiked nearly three hours for to enjoy. Heading back down, we made it in what felt mere minutes, grateful that our lungs could breathe the air and our legs weren't shaking from being pushed to the max.

I realize I am not near the shape I need to be in for Nepal (do they drink wine there? I'll have to check) but it was still worth every painful step to the top. Wine included.

 The next wine is our last wine we brought with us- Pinotage.

#28- Bonarda

What is it with great wineries not having a website? In 2010, that's just not acceptable. How else am I supposed to learn more about your product, your winery, your grape? Okay, enough ranting. On to the grape! And to continue the story on our weekend in British Columbia.

After a great afternoon of hiking, Craig and I returned to the campsite to relax a bit and enjoy a nice relaxing evening. It wasn't raining so we were able to hang out by the fire and chat. It's nice for siblings to hang out and catch up on what's what.

After a long day of driving and then hiking 14km, we weren't exactly in the mood for cooking and luckily our loving mother had prepared Hunter Stew for us so all we had to do was reheat the dinner. While it may not be the most appetizing dinner to look at, it sure is delicious over an open fire! Craig and I had heaping servings and cracked open our first bottle of red to go with it.

The wine chosen was El Escondido  Don Domenico, an Argentinian Red Wine. The grape is the Bonarda grape. do I describe this wine. Three words: damn good wine! Wow! I was pleasantly surprised about this wine. I was so not expecting to enjoy the wine as much as I did. It is known as "Sweet Black" and the wine is very very dark, almost black in colour. It is not acidic at all and is sweet tasting. You could definitely taste the fruit, whether it was strawberry or raspberry I'm not sure. It did have an okay taste to it but it was ever so slight as I don't like anything too oaky. This was a wine that craved to be drunk in massive quantities. Too bad we couldn't. Both Craig and I knew we had to keep some for the family to try.

As a side note, Kristin and Sharon (my other brother's girlfriend who just recently moved back to Alberta...okay too many details but just in case you're wondering who she is, now you know) and the both enjoyed it. Kristin raved about it and will definitely be buying a bottle or two. Luckily for her the wine purchase was made at Crown Liquor in Spruce Grove. It wasn't a cheap bottle, at $25.99 this was one of the more expensive purchases I'd made for my wine, but so worth it.

I'm not sure if it's the wine or the fresh air or the exercise, but I couldn't imagine a more perfect way to spend my evening! I think I'll do it again tomorrow. The next wine up is the Albarino grape.

Monday, September 13, 2010

#27- Catarratto

It was the yellowest wine we'd seen in a while. Now one could perhaps blame the silver goblets we were drinking the wine from but no, it was freaking urine yellow. Craig really liked the wine. I thought it was so so. Split decision. I could end this blog right here, right now. But I won't.

There is just so much more to tell!! The grape we were trying on our first day, first hike was the Catarratto wine from Sicily, a product of Italy. Bought for $15.99 at Crown Liquor in Spruce Grove, the wine was chilled prior to Craig and I heading up on our first hike at Mt. Robson Provincial Park in British Columbia. More on the hike later.

The winery is from Terre di Ginestra in Italy (and as far as I can find, no website for the winery- please let me know if this is not the case). It's also cheap wine and I can tell by the label. On the label itself it says "Indicazione Geografica Tipica" or IGT which in layman's terms means less than, or cheap wine. Well $15.99 is cheap here but would be one hell of a bottle in Italy me thinks! Well, I'll let you know whether the latter part is true when I'm in Italy in just a couple of weeks!  But again, more of that later- say Wednesday.

My first thought about this wine was that it tasted exactly like apple juice. It looked like it, it smelled like it, it had the consistency of it. It reminded me of no other wine I had tasted in recent memory, perhaps the closest being the Vermentino wine. I was pretty neutral on it but Craig really seemed to enjoy it. I blame the fact that he was sick as anything and couldn't taste much.

We drank this wine after a pleasant 7km hike from the Mt. Robson Visitor Centre (at the base of Mt. Robson, the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. Part of a larger hike to Berg Lake, Craig and I had left mid afternoon for the hike so we only (and planned) to make it to Kinney Lake. Berg Lake is a two day hike up the mountain and some climbers choose to stay at Kinney Lake as a pit stop. We pitstopped.

I ate chocolate and beef jerky with my wine. What can I say? I was hiking people!! I was not about to bring anything much more than that. I was busy trying out my new pack (love it) and my new trekking poles (love them!). Eating wasn't something we'd really thought about for the afternoon as we were in between meals.
Craig and I rested for a bit, drank our wine and observed that our hike was telling us to drink. On the mountain across the lake, the trees were growing in the shape of an upside down wine glass! So we took our pics, got our sugars up and headed back down the mountain. We hit a bit of rain on the way down but overall this was a very pleasant hike.

#26- Chenin Blanc

And so began the weekend of five! I was very much looking forward to this weekend, not only because we get to drink a crap load of wine (all for research purposes of course) but that I was again going on some amazing hikes in the Rocky Mountains. We are so lucky that we have such a wonder like the Rockies in our backyard, just an few hours drive away from the chaos and into some peaceful awe and wonder. And with glasses of wine to boot!

Now, Craig wasn't feeling well at all for this trip but total trooper that he is, he joined me on the camping weekend anyway (turns out he has bronchitis and should not have been doing what he was doing all weekend)- but turns out all of us Stevenson's have a stubborn streak (pneumonia ring a bell for anyone? oh what? right-- that was me...)

So Friday night we kicked off our weekend with a more common wine available here in Canada- the grape being a Chenin Blanc. The winery is from South Africa called the Winery of Good Hope and the wine itself has some interesting information on it. The wine was purchases at the Cellar (amazing store by the way) in Calgary Alberta for $21.95.

Craig was really sick that evening and wasn't able to try it that evening but took a nice swig of it after our crazy weekend. Instead, my mother joined me in drinking this wine and let's just put it this way-- before I knew it, my mother was refilling our wine glasses! A fan of white wine, it would be safe to say that it's mom approved! I too really enjoyed this wine and it actually didn't go too badly with our steak and pan fries. This would be a great wine to pair with a tastier dish such as Thai food or anything Asian or Mexican or Spanish.
With a slice of tomato from the back garden (before the blight arrives!), I was ready to enjoy a nice glass of white to put me to sleep. I had two glasses and could have had more but we did have to keep some for Craig to try a little later.

This wine was so light and crisp, easily a wine to drink on its own. You could definitely taste the citrus flavours and when told, the cinnamon could be tasted on the back of your taste buds. It left no aftertaste whatsoever. This wine would also be a good starter wine for someone looking to try wine further. It's quite acidic and on the sweet side (but not too sweet, again a great wine to drink all on its own).

The label itself is awesome- too bad I can't keep it. It's right on the bottle itself so the bottle may now become a funky new vase of sorts.

Craig and I packed two reds and two whites for the two full days of camping we had ahead of us. What a weekend to look forward to. (I also don't have pictures of Craig and I drinking the Chenin Blanc so I'll have to come back and replace the filler pics).

Friday, September 3, 2010

#25- Muscat of Alexandria

This wine, as inappropriate as it is to dedicate to a four year old, is for Owen! It was his birthday party after all and we ate Spiderman cake! And while he ran around with his buddies, wearing a the helmet yours truly gave him to go with the yellow quad his parents gave him, the adults drank wine! And the special adults (yup, I'm special) had the most amazing dessert wine to go with the red and blue cake.

The wine we tried this week was part of the group of wines my sister Kristin brought home from the States as I can't find it anywhere in Alberta. The grape is the Muscat of Alexandria grape and the wine we tried is the Coppo Moncalvina Moscato D'Asti from Italy. With only a 5% alcohol content, you're not going to get drunk anytime soon on this wine. We had small portions to go with the cake as a dessert wine is more of a sipping wine than anything because it's so sweet. And this wine did not disappoint at all! It was delicious and the most disappointing part of it all was the bottle was only 375ml (half of the usual 750ml) so our wine did not go very far between five of us.

You could definitely taste the pear in this wine, a fruit I really like. I would definitely recommend this wine (if you can find it) to anyone looking for a nice dessert wine. The next time you're in the States, pick up a bottle or two for sure!

Craig and I have a busy long weekend ahead of us as we're heading out to the Rocky Mountains to do some more hiking in preparation for my trip to Nepal. I have brought five wines with me for us to try over three days so we'll see how we do!

The next wine on our list is the Chenin Blanc.