Thursday, June 23, 2005

Rambling Wine Thoughts

* Wine Press Northwest has been inundated with comments and opinions on the subject of tasting room fees since editor Andy Perdue wrote something about a negative fee experience in Temecula, CA.

He's been selecting and publishing a few comments in his weekly email.

He's published stuff from the regular public and this week, from winery bizfolk. Next week he wraps it up.

* New York state lawmakers are expected to pass a bill that would allow state wineries to begin shipping wine out of state. Small wineries expect to increase business by at least 20% in some cases. Read more....

* Yet more Aussie wine on the way . . . Australia has just harvested another massive record crop so we can expect an endless wave of Yellowtail and Jacob's Creek to wash up on North American shores.

* Hey! A new wine magazine! This one is targeted at the largest segment of the wine-buying public.
Check it out.

* More on direct shipping . . . George Pataki, governor of New York, says he'll veto any direct shipping bill that comes to him that doesn't have a limit to the amount an individual can receive over the course of a year. He says he doesn't want some guy importing a garage full of wine selling to minors.
Gosh, George. Why isn't this "guy" doing that now? Who handles the governor? Why is he allowed to speak without a script? More on this story....

Cabernet Franc 2003 Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl's Franc was just released this month and it may be a bit premature to start quaffing it now. There are some light but assertive tannins that add to a somewhat disjointed early presentation. Great aromas and a firm structure with plenty of berry flavours tempered with an attractive bitter closing. Buy now and cellar to at least Christmas. If you wait until Christmas to buy it you will be out of luck; I'm sure this will sell quickly. This wine should really come into its own at about 2007.
17/ 20 Buy $27. (CDN) [at the wineshop].

Field Trip! Everybody Hold Hands!

Hit the road today for a full agenda of visiting growers and wineries with an eye to getting an idea of a) how the vines are behaving and b) what foxy new things are going into wineries to make wine makers' lives easier.

First, the vines are looking good. The early season warmth and then the sudden cooling over the last few weeks has produced a long flowering with generally good fruit sets. Despite some squally storms and rainfall reminiscent of regular Junes (heavier/frequent) the vines are responding with vigorous growth and rampant canopies. Growers who have managed their spray schedule should have no problems with mildew to date. Now's the time for speed! The tucking, plucking and thinning need to happen pretty well now.

Second, got a chance to walk around Burrowing Owl with owner Jim Wyse. A great facility! Even if you don't get a chance to be shepherded by the boss, their self-guided tour and tower view for the general public is a must see. Their on-going expansion is on schedule and this year construction has begun on the "inn" - winery-attached accommodation. Tasted some of their wines and will post some notes soon.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Wine Fanatics of (Western) Canada, Unite!

Here's a site I've recently come across that's worth a look, especially if you live in western Canada or the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
There's some lively dialogue by a core group of members (isn't that always the way?) in the forums. They discuss everything wine with the usual digressions.
They actually meet 'offline' to taste wine in person. Mostly in the Vancouver area as far as I can tell.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Duck Pond, 2004 Pinot Noir

Always a good idea to see what the other guys are doing. So on a recent jaunt across the line I shared a few sips of this recent effort from Duck Pond.
This Oregon pinot is all about the fruit with excellent expressions of strawberry, raspberry and light cherry. The bouquet showed hints of spice and jam. Alcohol is balanced and restrained; nothing about this wine is too extracted or over the top. The use of oak is complimenary to the wine. I think it has limited potential for aging and may not appeal to pinot lovers that prefer earthiness or more tannic examples.
I paid about $13.00 (CDN) for this wine. I bought this one as opposed to the myriad or others at the same price point in the this supermarket because there was a nice rendering of a duck on the label and I have a fondness for buffles.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Okanagan Spring Fest Numbers Up

The 11th annual Okanagan Spring Wine Fesitival was about two weeks ago and now the society that runs the show is happy to announce some pretty good numbers.
The four day run is comprised of about 100 events from simple in-shop tastings to large arena sized spectaculars. Revenues at member venues were up 30% while the number of visitors climbed to 31,000 visits - a 22% rise over the past year's figures.
Speaking with visitors that weekend gave me the impression that their experiences were more than favourable. Several parties indicated to me (a couple from Alberta and two groups from the Vancouver area) that this was their annual "breakout" event; meaning the first road-trip of the year where they didn't have to consider the possibility of a blizzard in the mountain passes.
If you missed the Spring event, mark your calendars now for August 4 - 6 when Silver Star resort near Vernon will host the Summer Wine Festival. The beautiful cool alpine setting is a welcome break from the mid-summer heat of the valley floor.