Its almost the end of February and soon wine lovers will be buzzing about Vancouvers International Wine Festival. This years event features wines from France with a special focus on Champagne. Hundreds of wines will be available to sample. Its not possible to get through them all so I try to look for ones we have in the store that I havent tried or something new to bring back to the store. In any case its tough work, but Im willing to do it for you. In the meantime, you might want to consider one or all of the three of the wines below. Let me know what you think of them.
Sicilia Nerello Mascalese
Rilento 2011 (579896)
Sicily, that triangular island off the toe of the Italian boot, is the third largest wine-producing region in the country. Here they use mostly indigenous grape varietals. Grapes such as Nero dAvola, Grillo and the grape of this wine, Nerello Mascalese and grapes are native to this island. Marsala, a white sweet fortified wine from Sicily is likely the most famous of this islands exports. Today there are also plantings of noble grapes of France like Syrah, Merlot and Chardonnay.
They have found Nerello Mascalese has DNA links to Sangiovese so you may find some of the same qualities. In the glass, I found the wine to have more of a ruby colour rather than purple. The aromas were interesting and included both fresh and dried fruits. If found a combination of fresh, ripe black cherries and dried red currants. There are definitely some spice notes too. On the palate, this wine is medium-bodied with a good juicy quality balanced by the dried fruit. With those hints of dried fruit it still has good acidity and this gives the wine a fresh finish. The tannins are minor so this wine might be better served with light meat dishes and of course being Italian its bound to pair well with pasta in a tomato sauce.
Malbec Limited Edition 2011 (920637)
There is an old saying about not being able to swing a cat by the tail without hitting something or other. In my case, it would be a Malbec in Argentina. They are so popular that our Argentine wine section has many single varietal Malbec wines and many more that are blends and they are all affordable.
In this case, it is the Pascual Toso Limited Edition Malbec. This is a winery that has history going back to 1890 when Italian immigrant Pascual Toso bought land in Mendoza, planted vines and became one of Argentinas major wine producers. Their commitment to making high quality wines is so strong they hired Paul Hobbs, a famous California winemaker, as a consultant.
This wine is purple with streaks of ruby in colour. Nice black fruit aromas on the nose with plum and blueberry being the most pronounced. Rounding out this bouquet of aromas are hints of toasted oak and sweet spice. In the mouth, black fruit is most prominent and in a pleasing not sticky way. It is fresh and lingers on the palate with a slightly oaky finish. This is a great wine to sip all on its own but if I were serving it with food it would be a simple steak with sauted mushrooms or nothing too spicy.
Pinot Blanc 2012 (467316)
The Okanagans Hester Creek winery has a strong connection to Prince George. A decade ago, Prince George entrepreneur Curt Garland purchased the 75 acre winery in Oliver. I remember stopping at his mothers caf in Giscome back in the early - lets just say some time ago - so hes a local boy with a great product. Hester Creeks grape vines were planted decades ago and have really come into their own under Garlands leadership. Their Pinot Blanc vines are some of the oldest in the Okanagan.
I remember tasting the Hester Creeks Pinot Blanc before, but that was a few years ago and the only thing I remembered was that I liked it. Because I knew the 2012 vintage was a good one for the Okanagan I thought I would try it again. I was not disappointed.
The colour of the wine in the glass is a soft lemon but it still sparkles. The thing I noticed first in the aromas was the scent of apple. This is so strong it is almost easy to overlook the peach and melon aromas that are also present in this wine. In the mouth, I also noticed a pleasing apple flavour. Again the peach and melons were secondary to the apples and followed by some zesty lemon flavour to freshen the finish. This wine has a lush, well rounded fullness that Im sure reflects that age of its grape vines.
Pork roast or chops is always better when served with applesauce. When I tasted this wine, my first thought was who needs applesauce when you have this wine? This would be a great pairing with lightly seasoned pork or if you prefer and shellfish or seafood dish.
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