Tasting Note: See Ya Later Ranch Ping 2006, Okanagan Valley VQA

Fruit, fruit, fruit, and also a bit more fruit. That was certainly my first impression of this Bordeaux blend made by See Ya Later Ranch, a Vincor-owned estate located about mid-way between Lake Okanagan and Lake Osoyoos in the Okanagan Valley. Named after the estate’s historical owner’s way of signing off letters, the ranch was originally planted with grapes some 60 years ago, although its current vineyards and estate were established in 1995 by Harry McWatters, a virtual legend of BC’s wine industry.

There was all kinds of fruit in there, from strawberry jam to raspberries, cherries and blackberries, all very attractive. With 57% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Cabernet Franc, this particular blend certainly had the means to be fruit-forward, although as it opened up, it did show more spice and vanilla (from 18 months in oak, no doubt), and eventually coffee notes, with a fair amount of tannins on the finish.

The alcohol level, however, (more…)

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Tasting Note: Viña Chocalán Gran Reserva Blend 2004, Maipo Valley

Although I am most often weary of the “big” wines, I do enjoy ripe fruit and bold flavors just as much as the next guy. As long as the ripe fruit doesn’t jam the glass, if you see what I mean, and as long as other elements give it structure and balance.

Case in point: Viña Chocalán‘s 2004 Gran Reserva Blend, which was an accessibly-priced addition to a 2007 edition of the Courrier Vinicole, a mail-order catalogue by the Société des alcools du Québec, our very own wine and spirits state monopoly. At 22$, it seemed like a safe buy, and proved to be more than that.

When they say this Gran Reserva is a blend, the folks at this young and ambitious estate (more…)

Canadian wines for all occasions

I was invited for a second time by CJAD host Sharman Yarnell to do a wine-related bit on her Saturday-morging show called Showtime. And since our little chat was to air soon after Canada Day (and Quebec City’s 400th anniversary, by the way), she thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the state of Canadian wines today – and also, at the state of Canadian wine availability in Quebec.

One great question she asked me was if Canadian wines can provide all the styles of wines you would want. I said yes, and after thinking about it, after taping the interview a few days ago, I’m even more convinced.

One of the wines I mentioned from the outset was Osoyoos Larose’s Le Grand Vin, a solid Bordeaux-style blend (merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot) produced in the Okanagan Valley, whose 2004 vintage sells for just above 40 dollars at SAQ. It’s a great example (more…)