Andrea Pollock's Articles

Summer 2011

In This Section:

A New Type of Winery Is Emerging

Summer Salad Wines Are Ready For Tasting

Golfing With A Glass In Hand

Creating Your Own Perfect Pairing From a Magazine

Crisp Wines That Deliver For Summer

Choosing The Right Wine For A Night Out

A New Type Of Winery Is Emerging
   originally published May 25th, 2011, The Northern View

So these days we are seeing a new type of winery emerging; these wineries don’t have their own vineyards, they don’t grow any grapes at all – the purchase grapes from growers or even purchase wines and do the bottling themselves.  These wineries can find themselves in the middle of a big city, even in a warehouse space, because they are really only concerned with hiring the right winemaker.  A winemaker with a great palate can make extraordinary wines using a blending process.

There are several ways to accomplish the task of making a winery without producing any grapes.  The first is to contract grapes from a vineyard.  Many vineyards do this, and they are also a large number of grape growers that don’t have wineries of their own and strictly sell grapes.  Another way to get the wine you need for your new age winery is to buy wine that is already made.  Wines can be purchased from international wineries and producers in large quantities quite easily – it is just a matter of choosing the proper grape varietal and wine style.

Once the grapes, juice or wine is secured it all comes down to creating a great flavour profile for the wine and some attractive packaging.  A great tasting wine with a solid marketing pitch can generate a serious buzz in a short period of time, because everyone wants to find a gem.

So this week I chose to highlight two wines both from Full Press Vineyards.  With a portfolio of showings at BC Liquor Stores, Full Press Vineyards is both a blend of international and Canadian wines.  Talented blending and solid marketing has helped this wine leap off the shelves and see amazing growth in a short period of time.  The wines are both pocket friendly and palate pleasing.  We are going to see a lot more wines like this in the future as this proves to be a low investment and low risk entry point into the wine market.

Full Press Vineyards Chardonnay – 12.5% alc/vol

The nose has several layers, with warm fresh smells of lemon meringue, orange zest and field hay.  A nice palate of flavours that show a good balance between sweetness and acidity.  Showcasing nice pineapple and citrus.  Easy to drink alone or to match with coastal seafood dishes.  90/100 $12.99 [BC Liquor Stores] (May 5, 2011)

Full Press Vineyards Merlot – 12.5% alc/vol

A nice nose with a pleasant aroma of earthy green pepper, savoury herb and raspberry jam notes.  The flavours are gentle and enjoyable – a subtle sweetness upfront with blueberry and pomegranate fruit, with an oaky black pepper finish that shows off the mild tannins.  87/100  [BC Liquor Stores] (May 12, 2011)

Summer Salad Wines Are Ready For Tasting
   originally published June 8th, 2011, The Northern View

As the warm weather approaches I am eating more salads and fewer soups.  Since I associate my wine choices most of the time with the food that I am eating, I will be doing some cellar stocking in the next little while with some wonderful wines to pair with summer salads.

Salads are a fast, versatile accompaniment to any meal, and I find they are also a great way to incorporate leftovers and extras in the kitchen.  I try to make my own salad dressings most of the time.  One of my favourite dressings recently is a mixture of honey, white vinegar, a smidge of grainy Dijon mustard, light olive oil and a touch of salt.  It can match really nicely with a busy salad that has lots of veggies, nuts and other flavours – it is also a dressing that stands out quite well in a very simple salad of mixed greens.  In simple basic salads without much flair, a Pinot Grigio has great potential as a good pairing – differences in sweetness, and the mild flavours of the varietal have a chance to show against many other types of flavour: the bitter/earthy flavours of the greens, the sweetness of the honey, and the savouriness of the salt and olive oil and mustard.  In a complex salad with an abundance of ingredients and flavour, a simple dressing such as this can be paired with a light fruity white wine that shows a bit of sweetness.

Salads aren’t only meant for white wines, there are many light red wines with minimal tannins.  Summer salads filled with beets, cranberries, carrots, endive, mushrooms and so much more, can help to highlight warm, earthy and red fruit aspects that are typical of light salad friendly red varietals such as Gamay Noir, White Zinfandel or lovely a East Coast Marechal Foch.  An easy way to choose red wines that are light in tannins is to pick a red that has a very light colour – a bottle you could see your fingers wiggle behind.  Sweet style pink wines like a white zinfandel can highlight fruit filled salads quite well, try adding strawberries, blueberries and watermelon if you are looking to match wine and food flavours.


Fish Eye Chardonnay 2008 – 13% alc/vol [California]

A refreshing nose that pops with mandarin orange, pineapple flesh and potted flowers.  The wine has a brightness when it hits the tongue matched with a smooth, full flavour of oaky citrus and toasted corn.  Enjoyable by itself or would be an elegant touch to many meals – try this with a nice roasted chicken or for lunch with a turkey BLT.  91/100 $ [BC Liquor Stores] (April 22, 2011)

Graffigna Reserve Pinot Grigio 2009 – 13.5% alc/vol [Argentina]

A strong aroma of lemon peel and white teachers chalk.  Tang fruit and flavours of soda fill out this wine.  A dry style that is easy to enjoy by itself and could pair nicely with grilled Panini sandwiches or hummus and pita.  80/100 $ [BC Liquor Stores] (May 1, 2011)

Golfing With A Glass In Hand
   originally published June 22nd, 2011, The Northern View

This summer while you are out working on the golf game, consider trying some wines from the many PGA players past and present who now dabble in vino when you hit the 19th hole.  Many of these wines are available at provincial and independent liquor stores right across Canada.

Canadian Mike Weir produced his first vintage in 2007; his wines are produced in the Niagara region and are widely available across Ontario.  Mike’s wines also help to raise money for his Mike Weir Foundation, aimed at helping children with physical, emotional or financial need.  With a similar charitable spirit in mind, women’s tour player Cristie Kerr collaborated with Pride Mountain Vineyards out of the Napa Valley to produce the label ‘Curvature’ in support of breast cancer research.

Both Ernie Els and Gary Player have wine labels from South Africa.  Gary Player’s label, Black Knight Wines, was an obvious choice as Gary’s earned the nickname the black knight on the tour for his constant adornment of black clothes.  Annika Sorenstam, Arnold Palmer and Luke Donald all have labels coming from California.  While Arnold and Luke both feature a full series of varietals, Annika’s label has launched with just a single wine in 2009.  Annika is also a budding chef so in the future don’t be surprised to see her label expand with different varietals.

Funny enough, Jack Nicklaus followed his other ‘Big 3’ members into the tasting room.  Both Gary Player and Arnold Palmer were already well established in the wine world and Nicklaus must have felt left out, because he recently became the latest pro golfer to add his name to a wine label.... he certainly won’t be the last.

This weeks’ review is of an older vintage from a champion series of wines by Greg Norman.  These wines have excellent cellaring potential for patient consumers and really are wines that you can take to the bank.

Greg Norman Coonawarra Cabernet-Merlot 2004 – 14% alc/vol [Limestone Coast, Australia]

A pioneer in the celebrity wine-making arena, Greg Norman Estates has been expanding their vineyards throughout Australia and California wine making regions since the 1990’s.  This is a gorgeous, velvety wine with a bouquet of leather, sweet smoke and humidor.  On the palate black cherry, blackberry and pink peppercorn round out the silky tannins; even with a high percentage of alcohol there is very little heat.  This shows well with a rack of lamb or a prime rib entree alongside roasted garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed beets.  A great candidate for cellaring, for collectors who can show restraint and can save for nearly a decade – I had the privilege of opening up 2000 Coonawarra Cab-Merlot at Christmas with family in 2008, it was one of the most wonderful wines I have ever had.   - $28.00 (BC liquor store)   91/100

Creating Your Own Perfect Pairing From A Magazine
   originally published July 13th, 2011, The Northern View

The real art of wine tasting comes from enjoying it with the perfect food.  Trying a wine alongside a complimentary meal or ingredient helps to make subtle elements in both the wine and the food become more noticeable.  Your taste buds get tired after a while of tasting the same thing over and over – the wine and food work as palate cleansers for one another, keeping your tongue interested over the course of the meal.  Coming up with a complimentary pairing is a bit of a challenge from time to time, so luckily I have a stock pile of wine and food magazines that I can flip through to give me some ideas and guidance making choices. 

The BC Liquor Stores has a great publication called ‘TASTE’ that you can pick up for free in their retail outlets.  TASTE magazine was started after seeing the success that Ontario’s LCBO had had with their magazine Food & Drink.  While the magazine is rather commercial and paid for entirely through product placement and advertisements, there are always interesting articles and a series of recipes with wine pairings using a central seasonal ingredient.  It’s a great place to get inspired, and you can make a nice at home date trying out a new recipe from the offerings.  Another nice part about the format of recipes and pairings, is that you are given several choices, at different price points, so you can make a good choice no matter what the budget.  The recipes also vary in degree of difficulty – so that even novice cooks can prepare a picture perfect meal at home.  I have quite the collection of magazines at my place these days – but it is nice to have a selection to fall back on as the seasons change.

This week I have selected a couple of wines that I was inspired to purchase after reading the most recent issue of TASTE, in order to create my own perfectly paired recipe at home.

Sebeka Cabernet Pinotage 2009 – 13.5% alc/vol [Western Cape, South Africa]

A round, pleasant nose that fills with black pepper, sweet raspberry and cranberry.  The flavours are not too complex, a nice dryness that shows alongside the tastes of fresh field berries and peppery oak.  92/100 $12.99 [BC Liquor Stores] (June 16th, 2011)

Piesporter Treppchen Riesling 2008 – 9.5% alc/vol [Mosel, Germany]

Not much to the nose of this wine, only a smell of tart citrus.  The flavour is an interesting balance of sweetness, tartness and acidity.  Flavours of juicy peach, dried apricots and orange tang.  A great pairing for asian influenced dishes or for a spicey Indian curry.  88/100 (June 5th, 2011)

Crisp Wines That Deliver For Summer
   originally published August 3rd, 2011, The Northern View

I love to drink crisp white wines during the summer.  Crispness is a word that I use to describe wines with a combination of noticeable acidity and an effervescent feel.  I find that wines in this style go down extremely easy on a hot summer day.  There is just something so refreshing about it – a true adult summer soda pop – for those days where root beer doesn’t pack enough punch.

The crispness effect of white wines will only last so long in the bottle.  White wines that show these characteristics need to be consumed shortly after their release (or the vintage date) in order to reap the rewards of these crisp qualities.  As white wines bottle age the crisp acidic and effervescent aspects of the wine begin to deteriorate and can be lost completely.  These are truly the first elements in a wine that begin to suffer as the ageing process takes place.  It is actually usually a positive characteristic of the red wine ageing process – which seems to fit, since there are not many of us who would enjoy an overtly acidic or bubbly red wine.  Other more mellow qualities of a wine begin to show themselves over time in red as these aspects fade.  In white wines, once the crisp qualities fade they can be replaced with subtler flavours of ripe fruits or grassy notes, they may also leave a wine tasting flat if there is little depth of character in the flavour profile of the wine.  This is why it is nice to consume these wines early, while the crisp qualities still have a chance to augment the overall tasting experience of the wine.

Two white wines stick out in my mind as showing the great, desirable qualities of crispness and acidity.  The first is a South African white – Douglas Greene the Beach House and a French wine; Arrogant Frog Ribet White.  Both of these wines have great palate cleansing properties – nice crisp acidity and refreshing effervescence that is super energizing on a sunny day.  Because I have recommended both of these wines in previous columns, I have chosen two new favourites that show similar characteristics.

Piesporter Treppchen Riesling 2008 – 9.5% alc/vol [Mosel, Germany]

Not much to the nose of this wine, only a smell of tart citrus.  The flavour is an interesting balance of sweetness, tartness and acidity.  Flavours of juicy peach, dried apricots and orange tang.  A great pairing for asian influenced dishes or for a spicey Indian curry.  88/100 (June 5th, 2011)

NK’MIP Chardonnay 2006 – 13.5% alc/vol [VQA Okanagan Valley]

Nice crisp oak notes, cedar wood, pine needles and some sour lemons.  The flavours are dry with some grapefruit and lime zest, a touch of bitterness and oak shows up on the finish.  A light style wine that would pair well with poached fish or crab cakes.  86/100 $16.99 [BC Liquor Stores] (January 6th, 2011)

Choosing The Right Wine For A Night Out
   originally published August 17th, 2011, The Northern View

A night on the town that involves more than one glass of wine can require some prudent planning.  There are a few different things to consider; let’s start with appearances, having a few glasses at home is different than having a few in public if you are consuming red wine.  Red wine will stain your lips and teeth after a few glass ….. trust me, this isn’t a good look for most people and hardly provides a great first impression.  For the most part, I will choose white wines when having a drink out – it keeps you looking good and is also spill friendly.

Another point to consider is the amount of sugar in a wine.  Sugar spells hangover city the next morning, and wines with a sweet, jammy flavour either red or white usually contain residual sugars.  This leaves you super dehydrated and leads to headaches and migraines.  Dry style wines help mitigate these effects and aren’t quite as harsh on your brain chemistry.  Shiraz, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Malbecs all tend to be high sugar wines.  Choose a Pinot Grigio or a Merlot for something fairly dry with less sugar.

Finally, consider whenever possible the alcohol percentage of the wine you are drinking.  This is not as easy to do when ordering wines by the glass, but you can always ask your server to check for you.  Low alcohol wines are more suitable for a big night out because they will leave you more in charge of your faculties and are easier on your body.  Nothing will be good on a night out if you are packed full of alcohol and aren’t able to enjoy it.

This week is a selection with a couple of wines I tried recently and enjoyed.

Sebeka Cabernet Pinotage 2009 – 13.5% alc/vol [Western Cape, South Africa]

A round, pleasant nose that fills with black pepper, sweet raspberry and cranberry.  The flavours are not too complex, a nice dryness that shows alongside the tastes of fresh field berries and peppery oak.  92/100 $12.99 [BC Liquor Stores] (June 16th, 2011)

Inniskillin Reserve Merlot 2006 – 14.0% alc/vol [VQA Okanagan Valley]

Very nice scents packed with cherry and blueberry.  A bit of heat on the nose that is pronounced in the spice and is reminiscent of menthol.  Tart flavours of charred cranberries and currants, there is lots of oak with a medium dry amount of tannins.  I would pair this with a gamey meat so that the tart flavours can balance more smoothly.  82/100

BC Style Fishing Charters

Prince Rupert, B.C.