Le Vieux Pin and La Stella tasting notes

photo (4)

September 10th, 2014 tasting

I had a chance to try some of the new releases this year and of course I was impressed with the line up. La Stella and Le Vieux Pin have always been very well structured and serious wines for me, this year was no different, in fact more so!

First up was the Le Vieux Pin 2012 AVA; it is a blend of 61% Viognier, 21% Roussanne, and 18% Marsanne sourced just north of Oliver. I didn’t even have to hold the wine close to my nose and I was greeted with a burst of honeysuckle, which had underlying tangerine zest notes with hints of spice. This wine was 45% barrel aged in 500L French Barriques (33% new) for 9 months to give it the extra bit of complexity on the palate. Delicious 8.9

Second was the Le Vieux Pin Syrah “Cuvee Violette” 2012. All of the Le Vieux Pin Syrah have 3% Viognier in them. I was impressed with this wine and its distinctive “feminity”, I love that some vineyards are now making a few distinct styles or expressions of one grape in their vineyard. This wine is the most floral delicate version of Syrah. There was no bottle ageing and about 19% new French oak. On the nose, there was white pepper, violets, deep crimson red fruits and hints of eucalyptus & mint. On the palate, there was a continuation on the theme with beautiful soft fruits of moderate intensity and a long lengthy finish. Definitely a wine to pick up. 9.0

The Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Syrah 2011 needs no introduction, the flagship wine is the perfect balance. 2011 marks the year of the winemaker’s favourite harvest to date. The grapes for this wine hail from Northern Oliver and the Black Sage Bench. 18 months in barrel and 1 year in bottle before release. I was extremely impressed with this wine, it has super intense earthy fruits and pepper with subtle floral tones. While muscular on the nose with hints of olive, it was very balanced on the fruit side with brambly fruits, a slight herbal nose and is what I consider to be a perfect textbook version of Okanagan Syrah. This wine can age 5-10yrs easily. 9.4

Lastly, the La Stella Maestoso 2011 Solo Merlot was the final wine in the line up. This vineyard property wine composed of 100% Merlot was planted in 1999. The vines for this wine are cropped very low, and the end product is truly stunning. This wine is well structured and elegant, I would call this a masculine Merlot, it had earthy fruits, hints of eucalyptus and cherries and chewy tannins. It was a bit reminiscent of a structured Zinfandel, just in hints. An excellent wine, this is a wine to be shared, cellared, enjoyed, and all of the above. It was truly an experience. 9.3

All in all, and excellent tasting


Preparing for travel, with technology in mind


As I gather my list together for what I need to pack and items still to get for the journey, I notice that there is one big difference between when I last travelled to Scotland in 2006 and now in 2014.

Technology has blown up, or rather I have come to rely heavily on smartphones, gadgets, devices, and tablets. That, and I must begrudgingly admit, 2006 was a heck of a long time ago.

One example is that I purchased a purse today, not just based on what it looked like, but that it was big enough to hold my tablet and my phone along with miscellaneous other crap that I cannot seem to survive without. In my defence, I can also use my purse as a weapon, I pity anyone on the other end of that receiving brunt haha 😉

When I think back to what I had packed backed then; I had a magazine, a Sudoku puzzle book, and a Canon Sure Shot camera with a few rolls of film. That same camera is still in my possession, but it has resumed its post as a reprised dust collector. It is far more convenient to whip out the phone and snap a shot then it is to pull out the camera, focus it, and snap. ~That, I find a bit sad, but C’est la vie.

I spent about an hour today after my work day researching and pricing out a portable battery charger that could charge an iPhone, an Android, a Tablet, and any USB device that I had. I picked one out, will review it once I put it through its paces, but it seemed like the best value for $40.

Now that I have the “charging-when-I’m-not-near-a-power-source” scenario covered I need to worry about data. My local provider is so not the way to go when you are overseas. So scratch getting a plan for my phone, no upgrade either at the moment.

An unlocked phone that you can put various country SIM cards into and add different plans seems like the smartest way to go when you are international in many countries. If the person you are travelling with has one, even better! There is always wifi when you look for it, and the personal hotspot. FYI, you can get an unlocked Google Nexus 5 from Google Play for about $350 and it is great to travel with.

So I am not fully packed yet, but I am scratching a few more items off my list, only 10 more sleeps until the big day!


#BCWineChat, why you should follow it

Have you ever really wanted to know what goes on in the BC wine industry? Do you want the opportunity to engage with fellow wine lovers and possibly even have the chance to talk to a winemaker, an owner, or various winery team members?

Then you should log on to @twitter every Wednesday at 8pm PST/11pm EST and look for the hashtag #BCWineChat which was created by Sandra Oldfield, CEO of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards located in Oliver, BC back in December 2011.

What an amazing way to keep in touch with the industry, to talk with your peers and share ideas. It is a great way to engage with fellow colleagues and other wineries, there is no travel time on twitter, just saying. Plus, you don’t even need to wear pants, there is no dress code! 😉

All of the chat discussions are archived at bcwinechat.com and you will noticed that there is even a schedule and a place where you can also suggest a topic. If you are afraid to tweet and jump in, you can always read and watch, but we all would love to hear from you, many perspectives is always key.

I have met many amazing people in the wine industry via twitter that I am happy to call my friends. We are all working towards the same goal and that is of course the success of our industry.

In vino veritas

Our Beautiful British Columbia

I am not a born British Columbian, but I am one in spirit.

The summer years of my childhood were spent driving back and forth from a northern Alberta town to the Okanagan Valley for as far back as I can remember. For about 2-3 weeks a year we were in paradise; a clean lake to swim in, a beach to sleep on, tons of trails to explore and not to mention the heat!

I am lucky enough to live here, spending a good chunk of time in the Lower Mainland as well as my beloved Okanagan which I have come home to. I was planning on writing the NaBloPoMo prompt tonight until I saw this “Wild within” video on twitter posted by @hellobc (Destination BC).

Wow. I think my part of my jaw is still on the floor. They captured the pure essence and pure “epic-ness” of this great land we call home. It is the land of the untamed, the land of wine, and the land of our people. It is not unusual to see film productions here, living in Vancouver, I drove by a film shoot almost every single day.

I love our First Nations, I am also one of them. I feel such a pull to the land, to protect it for future generations and to preserve our history. I am proud to live here, happy to promote the province I live in and the beautiful bounty we have to offer.

British Columbia, Canada.

If it isn’t on your bucket list to visit, it should be.



My ideal job? Duh, Wonder Woman of course!

Today’s NaBloPoMo prompt post was about what brand or organization, real or otherwise would you like to work for? My first initial thought was Wonder Woman.

Ever since I was little, I have had Wonder Woman as my role model. I had figurines who were almost bigger than I was, a utility belt and I would often spin around ala Lynda Carter hoping to turn into the iconic Amazonian Princess. She was who I aspired to be, a protector.

Throughout my career, I have worked my way up in different facets to be the manager of any business I was in, from a restaurant GM at age 21, to a domestic wine store area manager at age 30. I have had the opportunity to nurture and mentor my team, both women and men and throughout it all, Wonder Woman or the thought of superheroes in general is always in my mind. The Pursuit of Excellence.

I have just seen a documentary on Netflix about Wonder Women! The Untold story of American Superheroines and it makes me glad that I grew up in an age where women were not suppressed and that even in my own adoptive family, I have a superhero Mom to look up to.

So ask me about my ideal job, it would be in a place of balance, using my skills, learning and honing. Being a role model, helping and aiding as I can, being part of a solution and attaining my own goals no matter what obstacle is thrown at me.

Because aren’t we all superheroes? Just because I don’t wear a cape every day (it gets caught in things all the time 😉  ……. doesn’t mean I’m not one. We all ARE.



A visit to the Okanagan Crush Pad

It has been almost a year since I was last at the Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland BC and I was pleased to see so many more changes and a few more residents of the four legged variety! Owners Christine Coletta and Steve Lorne have made a commitment to the land and to producing the best fruit possible with little intervention. Back to basics, and to the true expression of Okanagan Terroir.

No pesticides or sprays are used, in fact there is a real synergy happening in the vineyard with every detail thought and carried out by the wonderful vineyard team. There are chickens and ducks to help with pests, sheep to help with fertilizing and even a worm farm to help make the best compost possible. It is a very natural looking vineyard with beneficial cover crops planted to attract the right king of bug predators and deter the wrong ones.


Next year their Switchback vineyard will be certified organic and the Haywire Wild Ferment Pinot Gris that is coming from the home vineyard is nothing short of spectacular.

5 different lots within the 7 acre vineyard were used to create this amazing BC wine. The juice was wild fermented in the large Concrete Eggs on site and no additional yeasts were needed due to the ambient atmosphere.

They have several “concrete egg”wines and these wines have an incredible mouth feel, intense fruit flavours and a long finish all from separate vineyards. I highly recommend getting your hands on the Canyonview Pinot Noir 2011 that won the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence and the Wild Ferment Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris 2012.

Other favourite wines are the White label 2012 Pinot Gris which had an delicious vibrancy, their 2012 Gamay Noir rich and ripe, and their 2012 Syrah hailing from the Black Sage bench, full of red fruits, earthy spice and just a touch of clove.

Lastly, another new addition to see was the wine amphora pictured below, full of Pinot Gris fermenting happily away in its new home. I cannot wait to have a sip of the end product!



NaBloPoMo aka a well needed kick in my pants

A friend and colleague of mine told me about NaBloPoMo, and I thought to myself what a great idea! Post once a day, repeat for 30 days. What a great way to participate in the National Novel Writing Month by joining the National Blog Posting Month challenge. Sounds like a perfect prescription for me to get the old creative juices flowing. I would love to do  NaNoWriMo but somehow that is like Mt. Everest this year. Oh well, leaves me a goal for next year So my posts will be random but like clockwork and enjoy my ramblings about travel, food, wine, entertainment and the occasional offbeat musings. Cheers NaBloPoMo November 2014

You know you are a Wine Ninja when……

One of your first thoughts when talking to a fellow attendee friend on what to pack for the wine bloggers conference, was glassware.


Having relocated back to the Okanagan from Vancouver with only a few things, I had brought some kitchen equipment, glassware, musical instruments, art, plants, my favourite book series, and some clothes and shoes.


So I got to thinking…… Riedel Champagne flutes for that special occasion. Vinum Extreme for that special Pinot Noir. Perhaps an all purpose glass was needed, or maybe just my tasting glass. Maybe I should just focus more on what I am wearing. nah

(Then I realized that I am going to a wine bloggers conference. I think proper glassware is a pre-requisite.)

So packing aside, my suitcase (car) may just be carrying a few boxes of glassware as well.

Because, you never know.

WBC, I am ready for you!

Hazards of being a Wine Ninja (but not really)

Belle Glos

When you work in the wine industry, you get to taste a lot of different wines which is a definite perk. You also learn very quickly to wear dark colours to tastings and how to properly spit. You certainly don’t want to have a “Sideways” moment with the spittoon!

(Hazard one. You get black teeth. It’s almost worth it to carry a travel toothbrush to a tasting, but careful not to use toothpaste for at least an hour as your enamel gets weakened by the acids in the wine.)

Moderate yourself. There are many amazing wines, but in order to properly evaluate; you must taste in order of flavour profiles and weight. Or if that isn’t possible, cleanse your palate between wines if you are tasting out of order. (Generally it is whites then roses before red, fortified and dessert wines last, lighter bodied wines before heavier, and more youthful wines before cellared or vintage. )

(Hazard two; palate fatigue. Choose the wines you want to try and taste in order to properly evaluate. Spit)

mc notes

If you can, try to properly document your thoughts, I usually carry a notebook at all times. I have found it quite helpful when revisiting vintages or comparing barrel samples. I generally jot down the specifics on the wines, then a brief tasting note, sometimes with a rating.

(Hazard three; your palate evolves. The wine world becomes your oyster and everywhere you look, you find hidden gems. Suddenly you notice that there are so many amazing wines in the world! But alas, they are not imported to your province or country.)

Reach out, talk with fellow industry people, go to tastings and be active in the community. Make a new friend or two!

(Hazard four; you get to explore your own backyard and horizons and make exploration a reality. Also, you meet many amazing people that you might never have met in wine)

Wine is accessible and not to be feared providing that you are of legal age, and if you are striving to learn then you are always moving forward, so sip on!

In Vino Veritas