New from Argentina: Tierra Del Sol

February 27th, 2006

While attending a wine tasting event a couple of weeks ago at Bellingham’s Zephyr Bistro I came across a winery that’s new to our area – and one that I think you might enjoy.

Tierra Del Sol produces a line of wines from Argentina that make for great everyday serving. The old adage, “you get what you pay for” doesn’t always hold true and that’s certainly the case here. All of the Tierra Del Sol wines are value priced at only about $7 a bottle and I think you’ll find them to be comparable to several other wines at twice the price.

Here are my tasting notes on some of the wines I sampled:

2004 Torrontes – This is a super little white wine that pairs well with lighter foods and salads and is amazingly complex. I’d call it a cross between a Semillon and a Viognier with hints of peach and melon and a crisp, dry, slightly grassy finish.

2003 Malbec – A classic Argentinean Malbec, with subtle jammy, plumy flavors and soft, but noticeable tannins. Great with pork and medium-aged cheeses.

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon – This wine features dark currant and cherry flavors and carries a bit more structure and depth than the Malbec. The finish has a nice gentle, spicy quality that suggests cloves or allspice.

Vancouver International Wine Festival

February 27th, 2006

February 27 thru March 5, 2006

This is a week-long series of seminars, social functions, lunches, dinners and wine tastings at various venues in Vancouver, British Columbia. I always attend the International Wine Tasting – which takes place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening (March 2, 3 and 4) – because it features so many great wines from around the world.

For more information on getaway packages and ticket purchases go to www.playhousewinefest.com. Early bird prices on several events are available until January 31, 2006. Many events sell out early so don’t delay…this is truly an amazing opportunity for wine enthusiasts!

Check Out These Great Bargains for $10 or Less

February 20th, 2006

It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned some great wine bargains for $10 a bottle or less. And with the monthly reminders of past credit card charges during the holidays and the upcoming income tax deadline lurking, this seems as good a time as any to toss out a few wine suggestions for those on a budget.

Nobilo 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (about $9): This new release from New Zealand is a near-perfect Sauvignon Blanc. It’s full of citrus and pineapple flavors, a hint of herbaceousness and a crisp, clean finish. A great match with seafood and shellfish dishes.

Pepperwood Grove 2004 Chardonnay (about $9): This tasty California Chardonnay is surprisingly complex for a wine in this price range. It starts with baked apple flavors that melt into more tropical fruits and is highlighted by a lengthy, toasty oak finish.

Aquinas 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $9): From California’s Napa Valley, here’s a very nice Cabernet that is loaded with dark fruit and plum flavors and a slightly spicy finish accentuated by a touch of French oak. Great with pork, beef or barbequed meats.

14 Hands 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $10): Yes, it’s a Chateau Ste. Michelle product – and the State’s largest winery certainly doesn’t need my endorsement – but it’s hard to resist this delicious Cabernet from Washington. Packed with berry and cherry flavors, the tannins are mild and the finish is long and silky.

Give Your Reds Time to Breathe

February 13th, 2006

“Give the wine time to breathe.” You hear the phrase frequently, but what exactly does it mean?

Breathing is simply allowing the wine to become exposed to the air, which opens up the wine’s flavors and aromas and makes it more enjoyable. This is especially useful for red wines – particularly newer vintages – because it softens their tannins, which sometimes interfere with the other characteristics of the wine. White wines, on the other hand, generally derive little or no benefit from having time to breathe and can be consumed immediately.

The best way to allow a wine to breathe is to simply pour it into a glass or decanter. This gives the wine more surface area and, therefore, more exposure to the air.

But make no mistake about initiating the breathing process; over time, air is the enemy of wine. And while giving a wine time to breathe is almost always initially a good thing, after a period of time the exposure of any amount of air to wine will lead to its deterioration. That’s why you can’t open a bottle, have a glass or two, recork it and then come back a week later expecting it to taste as good as it was before.

So how long it too long? Although some reds taste terrific right out of the gate I usually try to allow for at least an hour of breathing time. However, I’ve opened a few red wines, corked them and then revisited them after a couple of days and found them to taste even better. But keep in mind that this is usually the exception, not the rule.

Overall, I think that red and white wines should be consumed within a day or two of opening. Any length of time beyond that will almost certainly result in an inferior tasting wine. If you can’t bear to pour the wine out, then try putting it in the refrigerator and use it to cook with at a later date.

Wine Class at BTC

February 11th, 2006

2:00 to 4:30 pm – Beginning Wine Tasting. The perfect class for those just getting started with wines. The format will be relaxed, yet informative, with plenty of wines to sample. No wine snob attitudes permitted! Click on the Wine Classes Page for more information.

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