New Release

Winemaker's Notes

Petit Blanc is a wine that is lithe but not light. It is fun and free of heavy-handed winemaking. No new oak, no malolactic fermentation, no battonage, no nonsense.  A wine that hits way above its weight and delivers a strong quality/price ratio. A wine that you can readily be opened on a weeknight and pair with a variety of cuisine without putting a dent in your wallet.

The 2019 vintage of this unique blend is Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat and Pinot Gris along with few other aromatic varieties like Marsanne and Roussanne are in the blend making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Green Citrus fruit, gooseberries, currants and touch of tropical fruits greet you on the nose. While orchard fruits are tasted on the mid palate, the finish and the core of this wine is citrus and gooseberry dominant.

Pairings

Petit Blanc is extremely versatile with virtually endless pairings. We enjoy an endive salad and a fruit and cheese plate on for a sunny Sunday brunch, or orange roughy, quinoa and bacon wrapped scallops on a Friday evening.

Vineyards:

Region:Okanagan Valley
Soil Type:

various

Age of Vines:various
Yield:5 tons per acre
Production:800 cases in 750ml, 150 cases in 375ml
Alcohol:12.2%
Aging:100% Stainless steel

On this International Women’s Day we wanted to take pause and think about the incredible woman behind the scenes at Le Vieux Pin. From office managers, to accounting, to social media we have inspiring women across many departments in this company.

We should mention Michelle, Cherrie, Dee, and Marie-Pier, but this year we aim to honour our fearless leader, Severine Pinte.

Arriving with her family in August 2010 she has seen a lot of change in the industry. When asking her what comes to mind on International Women’s Day, she is always first to mention how privileged she feels to be living and working in Canada. In the larger picture of what International Women’s Day means, she is grateful to live in a safe and open society like Canada. There is a long way to go in terms of equality between the sexes in the workplace and the industry, yet she has seen a lot of positive changes. Winemaking over the centuries has been a male dominated field and it is nice to see so many female winemakers supported in British Columbia.

Passing the torch along to the next generation is equally as important. Sev has been working diligently with the Tuc-el-Nuit Elementary School to give the children a sense of the importance of the wine industry to the local economy and the diversity of the industry from elements of biology, chemistry, mathematics, business, history, and geography. The goal being to inspire the next generation to take on these challenges. She will be the first one to joke that females have a competitive advantage being natural organizers and preaching that winemaking takes a LOT of organization! Lucky for us, she is very organized.

She will also comment that the female sense of taste is calibrated differently and because of that, she is able to detect the smallest increments of potential faults or very pleasing characteristics in a sample of wine. Some would say that is one of the perks of the job to taste all of the hard work, but tasting wine all day is exhausting.

On a day like today we opt to take rest and reflect on how lucky we are to be here in Canada supporting women in industry and the art of winemaking.

You’re going to London Alex. Okay, I will pack my suit, a bunch of wine and I will be on my way. A lot goes into a trip like this. The purpose is to represent the wineries at the Canadian Embassy in London England. The Canadian government hosts a tasting for the journalists and the sommeliers of the UK to come and try wine from across Canada, not only will there be wine from all over BC, but Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. Our job is to showcase not only the wine but to give them a snapshot of what makes the Okanagan so special. Going to London to show the wines is significant. The hub of commerce in the western world is in London. London is not only a multicultural hub, a melting pot of cultures, but a great gastronomy destination and access to the best of the best and especially wine from around the world.

Being passionate about food and culture, London is a magical city. Just smelling the air, feeling the energy of the people in the tube gets me excited about going back. The fast-paced atmosphere forces you to keep up. You walk long distances between accounts, but that just makes the food taste even better. Jersey Down potatoes, fresh English peas, hand-dived Orkney scallops, were just some of the local flavour we got to experience. French restaurants, Korean, Mexican, bistros, and nouveau British cuisine all lived up to the hype (I could go on forever, ask me the next time you visit the tasting room). Between morsels of food, what fed this trip were the kind words from Sommeliers and wine shop owners around London. After tasting with them it gives us the confidence that we are doing the right things at home. “Hi, I’m Alex, I’m from LaStella and Le Vieux Pin Winery, in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia Canada”. Watching their eyes light up when you say Canada. “Where?” “We are in a pocket desert 4 hours east of Vancouver, between 2 mountain ranges. We have temperatures spanning from -10-15C in the winter to 40C+ in our summers.” Once the shock wears off, they get excited. Not only do they have something unique in their hands they have a story about a unique place in Canada that makes great wine. When they taste the wines and seeing how excited they get, the recognition of “we get it” and “Yes this can easily fool a Tuscan lover” or “Ya, that’s Rhone ya!”

At the Canada House tasting more reviews kept coming. After tasting the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Jancis Robinson told Severine and me, “brilliant”. If these people have access to the great wines of the world and are not only telling us that these wines show great quality and are unique, we know the Okanagan is coming of age, we are becoming a serious player in the quality wine sector.

I am definitely food driven, so to keep me going between accounts, we were fed well. The best meal I had was at The Quality Chop House. When I say Nouveau British Cuisine, most people have said, “Ya right, boiled beef?”. I think this place is one of the flagbearers of this movement. Local ingredients and playing into the comfort food of Britannica. The most beautiful deep yellow butter I’ve ever eaten was served with sourdough. I had fresh mozzarella with seeds, honey, and olive oil, and for an over the top main. A watercress salad alongside a classic mince on toast. This was the caloric intake I needed to walk and talk for the rest of the day.

Until Next Time! I hope London Calls again.

Alex Russo

You can go to any liquor store, pick up some generic bottle of Syrah it will say “pair with grilled meats”. You read that enough times and something clicks. When you feel a craving coming, you take the necessary steps to calm the demons within. After living in Montreal for 3 years and being able to walk down the street to get world class smoked brisket, you need to take control of the situation for yourself. Some of you live in cities where you can just buy good smoked meat, whether from a cart, or a restaurant. When you live in Penticton, the is more of a DIY endeavour.

I went to Tony’s Butcher shop in Penticton and ordered a brisket. This was surprisingly easy. I found some faux Montreal smoked meat recipe online (below) and went through the 4-day process. Create brine, submerge brisket, wait 3 days. Pat down brisket, seal the brisket with spice crust, put in the oven at 225F … waiting. Now the fun part, emerge from a 12-hour nap, remove from oven, steam the meat. Voila! Slow Roasted Brisket.

The traditionalist in me always says rye bread. Grab a bag of generic Munich rye, or rye with caraway seeds, but the light German style is most traditional. You need yellow French’s mustard. Yes, it is probably our patriotic duty to buy Dijon mustard due to the famous Canadian mustard seeds that hail from Saskatchewan, but in this case, go with the processed yellow French’s mustard. You need pickles. For those that like a hearty crunch go with the half sours (more cucumber than pickle). I’m not the biggest fan, but dill pickles are important, you need two per plate to cut through the fattiness of the brisket. Lastly, the traditionalist also needs black cherry pop, Cott’s black cherry. That will give you the full Montreal Smoked Meat experience. Mind you, if you’re doing this at home, you deserve a great glass of wine. A trio of Syrah: Violette, Classique, and Equinoxe is the perfect excuse to discuss the unique virtues of our different cuvees, but also see the progression of Syrah against your perfect brisket. Having 3 Syrahs open will also make sure that you have enough wine to not only entertain your guests but cleanse your palate between each bite.

Tiguidou!

Le Concierge
Alex Russo

The snow has started to descend the mountains; it has piled upon the valley floor. It’s time to retire to the fireplace, to contemplate, to relax, to enjoy hearty meals with rich wines, and to visit with loved ones. I am a Francophile. I love all things French! I grew up listening to a strong Alsatian man trying to convince me to conjugate verbs in different tenses, but I was a lazy student and my French shows it, ask Sev, I dare you!

One of the meals I look forward to the most every year is the Choucroute Garnie. One of the best things he taught me was the blueprint of a great Chourcroute Garnie. At this time of the year we need fatty, rich, stick to your bones kind of meals that will warm our hearts, fuel our souls, and Chourcroute does this for me every year. This is typically a dish that you pair with high acid Germanic white wines like Riesling, but I think this is a great meal to have with Ava, but also with our Sauvignon Blanc. The full-bodied appeal of Ava is a great exercise of how matching texture in a wine and texture in food can complement each other. Fatty pork hocks, jowl, and various smoked and non-smoked sausages expertly pair with our Viognier Roussanne Marsanne blend. The Sauvignon Blanc is another great option, as the brine-y acidic nature of sauerkraut balances the richness of the pork, the sauerkraut will have backed up the wines racy acidity, both creating harmony. Balance acid with acid and texture with texture. A match made in heaven!

Though I won’t give up his recipe, if your mouth is watering, you should take the tutelage of Jacques Pepin – I highly recommend this link, he will make your life easy.

Enjoy

Alex Russo

Le Concierge

The confident friend that always had my back. Sauvignon Blanc has always liked the same foods as me. Asparagus, oysters, goats cheese. My first Sauvignon Blanc experience was a wine from New Zealand. We can all remember that friend that quoted the name of a cheeky wine they saw on the wine shop’s shelf “Cat’s Pee on a Gooseberry Bush”. Did I agree? Full heartedly. It was fresh, lime, gooseberry, green beans, frozen peas, and this zingy acidity. At the small historical inn, I worked at in rural Ontario, I had friends of my family who were regular customers and they loved Fume Blanc. A richer rounder more tropical fruit dominant Sauvignon Blanc. This producer used some toasted new oak barrels and you can smell a little bit of that classic smoke from the barrel, giving the wine its name “fumé”. It was creamy, almost rich, but that acidity created balance. I can rest on my hours and hours of French lessons my mother made me take, to smoke, fumer, je fume, tu fumes, il fume … a smokey white wine made of Sauvignon Blanc due to toasted oak barrels. Ripe, very ripe, tropical fruit characteristics of guava, passionfruit, and white grapefruit. It was delicious.

While I was in Montreal, I discovered Sancerre. It became a matter of necessity, but luckily, there is a lot of inexpensive Sancerre available at the SAQ. The Francophile wine culture in Quebec changed me. I craved Sancerre. It goes with Toulouse sausage, oysters, fennel salad, everything I crave. It’s lean, mean, mineral driven, so much citrus, it has that flinty, slate, almost saline like quality. It was restrained, always holding something back. It begs for goat cheese, it begs for Camembert … or if you’re a fan of great cheese, the famed cheeses of Quebec will always impress. I particularly enjoy Le Roulé from Chevrerie Dion. I used to drink Sancerre with my friends as an aperitif at our local wine bar. It loved me, I loved Sancerre back. When I finally decided to move away from Montreal and start my own wine journey, I discovered Le Vieux Pin. They had a vision and a demand for quality that I wanted to stand behind. I wrote the right email and I got the job. I remember it because I was on a bus heading to Ottawa for the weekend when I got the good news. When I arrived in BC, the first wine I fell in love with was not one of the grand small production red wines, it was Sauvignon Blanc. There was something comforting, it was green, herbaceous, it was lean. It has tropical aspects, it was round, creamy, but it was also restrained, it was holding something back, a chance for development. This wine, every year since the first vintage I had from 2010 shares my favourite qualities of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Californian Sauvignon Blanc and from the Loire. A wine that tells a story, something uniquely Okanagan but can express similarities of some of the most famed Sauvignon Blancs in the world.

Enough stories, if you want to try this wine with something delicious, try this Asparagus and Lemon Risotto from Martha Stewart. Risotto can be rich, the Le Vieux Pin Sauvignon Blanc’s acid will prepare your mouth for the next bite of food. The fresh local asparagus will intricately pair with the subtle green notes, the citrus will match the citrus tones in the wine, it will be a match made in heaven.

Please enjoy and I look forward to hearing your thoughts about this pairing.

Enjoy!
Alex

With thousands of vineyards in British Columbia, across Canada and around the world, how is it possible for wines to taste so different? Well, there are many factors, some of which are climate (macro, meso and micro climate), the dirt (top soil and sub soil), elevation, exposure, and more that can all contribute to the final product. Let’s talk about the sunshine today and upcoming blog posts will tackle the other variables.
I sat down with our winemaker, Severine Pinte, to ask her some questions, here’s our discussion…

Q. In the northern hemisphere how important is it to have sun all day long?

A. The sunlight is essential to the plant to transform the energy from the sun into energy that can be assimilated by all the cells either to grow or to accumulate sugar (in the vine). The more sun we have and the longer we have it has a direct effect on the maturation cycle and the plant ability to ripen more or less.

DSC_3171

Q. whats the shortest amount of sun the vines can handle in order to grow (photosynthesis)?

A. Difficult to say, vines are growing and producing grapes as far as northern and southern England. But whether the grapes are always good is another question? A perfect example: in the Okanagan there are grapes grown on black sage bench that see sun all the way till late in the afternoon vs. grapes grown on the golden mile side where the sun disappears from the vineyard around 4 pm because of the mountain shadow….the grapes taste totally different.

Q. What does too much sun look like?

A. If too much sun is received, grapes get burnt, the skins gets fractures and at harvest, there are dead tissues (like scars) and the skin at that point is of no use. No anthocyanin or polyphenols will have developed at that place where the sun-burn was.

cab sauv selona fort la sophia

Q. Which vineyard or grapes experience the best sun exposure?

A. At Le Vieux Pin, Crowley, Lastella and Selona vineyards because they are far enough from the mountains. Le Feuille d’Or is the one with the least amount of sun and this is why the grapes taste so much different from this vineyard.

Keep up with the conversation weekly on our blog and join our newsletter.

With thousands of vineyards in British Columbia, across Canada and around the world, how is it possible for wines to taste so different? Well, there are many factors, some of which are climate (macro, meso and micro climate), the dirt (top soil and sub soil), elevation, exposure, and more that can all contribute to the final product. Climate is just one, so we had a chat with our winemaker Severine Pinte about this subject.

LAS osoyoos lake bench

Q. We are one of the most northerly wine regions in the world, what challenges does that present compared to a more southern country?

A. We are one of the most northerly regions BUT we are in a desert (the most northern tip of the Sonoran Desert which starts in Mexico). If we didn’t have the desert climate characteristics AND the lakes to temper that climate, we would probably not be able to grow grapes in the South Okanagan. Without the desert climate the winter temperatures would be too low (cold) and the lack of higher (warm) temperatures in the summer, the grapes and vines would not flourish.

LVP low yielding cabernet franc old vines destined for equinoxe cab franc at la feuille d'or 1

Q. What benefits do we enjoy from being north and in this climate?

A. The advantages that we have being a northern producing wine region and having a desert climate is that we have a very big thermal amplitude between the highest temperature of the day and the lowest temperature of the night. Also called a diurnal temperature range (DTR). Back in the south of France in the middle of the summer, we only have one-degree difference.

The lower temperatures at night are really beneficial for the grapes. They recover from their day, they manage to keep some acidity, the malic acid concentration doesn’t decrease as much as if the night temperatures were higher. The wines in the South Okanagan in the end have higher natural acidity than other regions with the same amount of degree days.

stag syrah veraison

Q. What wine region in the world would we compare?

A. Osoyoos has the same degree days as Montpelier in the south of France but Penticton which is an hour north of Osoyoos is already much lower in temperature and this would compare to the Bordeaux region of France. I don’t think there is one world region that we can compare ourselves with. Mostly, because this is a desert with lakes. The amount of water we get from the sky is very minimal, which improves the phytosanitary aspect but we then need to irrigate in order for the plants to grow.

It’s not every day we get a chance to have our wines paired with gourmet vegetarian cuisine prepared by one of Denmarks top chefs! Chef Robert Clarke from Acorn Vancouver will be preparing his gourmet vegetarian creations for New York City with the help of Exhibit C.

Chef robert clarke

Chef Robert Clarke

acorn pic

Local Vancouver Sommelier and journalist – Kurtis Kolt will be assisting Chef Clarke by pairing the food with wines from BC.

kurtis kolt

Kurtis Kolt

Chef Clarke comes from a well known restaurant in Denmark called NOMA – called one of the world’s top 50 restaurants in 2015! And Exhibit C is also a NY celebrity in its own right because of Daphne Cheng the owner.

exhibit c restaurant

Exhibit C in New York City

 

“Cheng is a force to be reckoned with, a culinary artist of the highest order.”

— The Daily Meal

5 nights to choose from:

Wednesday Feb.3rd to Sunday Feb.7th

nightly at 730pm

Book your seat at for this fantastic gourmet event – click here.

We are finally being recognized around the world – our wine region and for the wines we are producing. Are you ready to flaunt your own backyard to family and friends abroad? Re-explore our wine region in 2016 and share this great news with friends, as we should all be proud!

oliver other town of south okanagan home to late ripening heat loving red varieties

The British Columbia Wine Institute shared this information in early December:

Wine tourism in BC is on the rise, reporting a record high in visitors and sales this year, and gaining accolades as a world-class wine destination from publications and wine critics around the world.
This year, the Okanagan Valley was named one of the 10 best wine destinations of 2015 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, ranked #1 wine region in the world by The Huffington Post and dubbed the second best wine region to visit by USA Today. In August, the BC Wine Institute hosted acclaimed UK wine writer Steven Spurrier here for the first time, and in the fall edition of The Somm Journal he proclaimed, “For me, wine is the three Ps: the place, the people and the product. British Columbia ticks all three boxes with exuberance, elegance and conviction.

BC VQA Wine sales are at an all-time high, up 8.96 per cent from 2014 across all channels with 30 per cent of VQA wines sold directly from cellar doors – a direct result of BCWI and Destination BC collaborate marketing efforts to date. Visitors to BC in the first eight months of 2015 were also higher than ever before with an increase of 7.1 per cent from last year according to Statistics Canada.

Thnxgivign 2013 severine kids syrah harvest 2

Wine touring, which had long been the sole ventures of connoisseurs and official “wine lovers” now attracts a much broader range of tourists who are looking for a variety of experiences. “Wine tourism is still relatively new in British Columbia, though more and more people are expressing an interest in it, evidenced by many of BC’s wineries expanding their guest experiences to include more than simply wine tasting.” notes Maggie Anderson Marketing Director for the British Columbia Wine Institute.

Of the 320 wineries in BC, 275 of them have now opened their doors to wine tourism offering services including tastings, on-site restaurants and shops, wine and food pairing experiences, cooking classes, vineyard tours, concerts, accommodation and much more.

As the wine industry continues to grow in BC, emerging wine regions are also becoming more popular travel destinations. “It’s been an incredible first season for the Kamloops Wine Trail,” notes Trish Morelli Marketing Director for Kamloops Wineries Association. “All of our wineries had record numbers in visitors and sales. Our longest standing winery saw an increase of 73 per cent in July’s year over year tasting room sales, and triple digit growths (266 per cent) were reported from one of our newer wineries.”

Keep up with British Columbia wine news here. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly newsletter for all things wine!

As we celebrate a new year, we are also celebrating some recent accomplishments that we don’t often share. Our wines can be found on the wine lists of several international Michelin starred restaurants. If you are travelling abroad, here is a list of some wonderful restaurants to visit:

The Table Kevin Fehling (Germany) – Kevin Fehling is the youngest European 3 Michelin starred chef ever

o          2009 and 2010 Le Vieux Pin Syrah (Cuvee Classique)

 

le vieux pin kevin fehling youngest 3 michelin star chef in europe and syrah classique 2010 colour

Kevin Fehling, The Table

 Hakkasan (London)

o          2013 Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvee Violette

o          2010 Le Vieux Pin Syrah (Cuvee Classique)

Yauatcha (London)

o          2013 Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvee Violette

o          2010 Le Vieux Pin Syrah (Cuvee Classique)

 Beach Blanket Babylon (London)

o          2013 Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvee Violette

o          2010 Le Vieux Pin Syrah (Cuvee Classique)

 

Being included on these lists is no small achievement.  These restaurants can stock their cellars with wines from anywhere in the world, regardless of price.  We are lucky that many European culinary meccas have been carrying Le Vieux Pin wines for at least four consecutive vintages now.

Having our wine appear on these exclusive lists is also meaningful because it recognizes us for crafting truly exceptional wines by those holding the highest standards.  Although it’s only been ten years, we are basically a newcomer in the industry, and our winery hails from a lesser-known region compared to many of our peers from winemaking regions that have been famed for centuries. More importantly, it puts British Columbia on the map and introduces European wine lovers to what our region offers.

 

Christine Parkinson

Christine Parkinson

A special note: London’s Hakkasan’s wine buyer and well known wine personality, Christine Parkinson, was so impressed by Le Vieux Pin wines that she purchased a case of Syrah Cuvee Violette for her personal cellar.

 

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With thousands of vineyards in British Columbia, across Canada and around the world, how is it possible for wines to taste so different? Well, there are many factors, some of which are climate (macro, meso and micro climate), the dirt (top soil and sub soil), elevation, exposure, and more that can all contribute to the final product. Let’s talk about the dirt and upcoming blog posts will tackle the other variables.
Here in the South Okanagan, we know what’s underneath our grape vines and this has helped us produce the wines we do. Understanding the dirt and what certain grapes require from the dirt to become amazing is key. The soil PH (acidic to alkaline), texture (clay, silt, sand, gravel), soil origin, mineral and organic content of the soil all play a role and define the character of the wine growing from it.
 LVP deadman vineyard grows syrah and sauv blanc. soil profile full of metal and mineral rich weathering grey and black shale of sedimentary origin 2
At our deadman vineyard, situated on the entrance to the Golden Mile sits on a volcanic fault with schist and shale dominant soil. This vineyard produces deep wines with minerality and an austere side. Lots of tannin and structure in the wines from this site. Our Syrah agrees. While rarely the wines from this single site show balance and deserve to be bottled on their own, when it comes to blending various lieux dits to create a balanced masterpiece of a wine, we are thrilled to work with this site.
 LVP low yielding cabernet franc old vines destined for equinoxe cab franc at la feuille d'or 1
At our La feuille d’or Vineyard in the heart of the Golden Mile there is an alluvial fan (a mix of rocks, pebbles, it’s less sandy with more clay) and it has good water retention, albeit due to the gentle slope the excess water drains fast. Merlot and Cabernet Franc express themselves with rich tannins and big structure in this vineyard, so we are lucky that the folks before us planted these vines here. As the Golden Mile is a wide and complex area, there are various micro variations within it. check out the bc wine authority website to learn more.
 _MG_0224-Edit
At our home block: le Grand Pin on the Black Sage Bench there is high proportion of sandy soil with a bit of clay and small pockets of silty loam. Syrah, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne show elegance, flowers and gentle tannins that are softer and silkier from this area. The wines from this area are not as bold in structure.
DSC_6481
Crowley Vineyard in North Oliver (extension of Black Sage Bench with round rocks from the old riverbed, the size of a fist) has gravel and pebbles with sand in between. Much of the grapes for our Cuvee Violette and the Viognier for Ava come from here. There is elegance to any wine coming from this site. There are silky and flowery with finesse.
Thnxgivign 2013 severine kids syrah harvest 2
 
In South Osoyoos at the Stagg Vineyard we work with white silica sandy soil that has barely no clay and is quite warm. This helps to express the core of vine, with dark, bold fruit, less elegance, but more power with lots of richness and a more masculine expression for our Syrah.
LAS and LVP may 2014 staggs vienayrd rainbow 2
Stagg Vineyard in May
Also nearby sister winery LaStella is our Lumeno Vineyard with a steep hill, richer soil (with more organic matter), with big pockets  of clay we get yet another expression. This is where our Sauvignon Blanc comes from. Our winemaker likes the expression from this vineyard, whether its fruit from the top of the slope or fruit from the bottom – each has it’s own personality. The common thread is an unparalleled richness and mid palate weight.
 DSC02125

Thanksgiving is upon us and everyone celebrates this holiday differently. So we are sharing some of our teams favourite dishes along with a couple of our wines that match up deliciously!

Wherever you are this year, and whoever you are with, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving from our team and families to you and yours. Let’s be thankful for all that we have.

Here are some favourite dishes from our team:

Alex (Wine Club Supervisor) shares his favourites:

“We enjoy Saurkraut perogies and polish sausage (a smoked cured pork sausage kind of kielbasa kind of thing) at Thanksgiving and if you pair it with Ava – it is unreal!

sausage and perogy

Also cabbage rolls in a mushroom sauce with Syrah Cuvee Violette is a perfect pairing. I would do anything to have that right now.”

cabbage rolls w mush sauce

Rasoul (Director of Sales & Marketing)

“Instead of sweet potato and since we love Ava for thanksgiving in my family as our to go white wine we do: Thin layers of butternut squash, layered with salt, light dusting of cinnamon, course crushed walnuts, sage cooked like potato gratin. Its a beautiful pairing with Ava. The cinammon matches nicely with the spice of marsanne/roussanne when aged/fermented in french oak. The weight and richness matches that of the viognier component.”

squash gratin
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Leafhoppers in the vineyard

Spring is the time when nature wakes up and insects start to appear in the vineyard.

Yellow sticky traps  allow us to follow the kind and number of insect populations living in the vineyard.

Leafhoppers lo res

Leafhoppers  are insects that feed by piercing and sucking sap on the grapevine leaves. They induce damages that are visible as little yellow dots on the green leaf and reduce the plant capacity to perform photosynthesis. A few leafhoppers is not harmful for the vine, however too many can be detrimental for the quality of the wine.

Leafhoppers 1

Then by monitoring the population of leafhopper nymphs under the leaves we know if it is worth it to treat and how. When it is needed and if possible, a simple soap treatment allows us to control locally the population of leafhoppers and offers a real sustainable alternative to other chemical spray.

Keep up with what we are doing all year long, sign up for our newsletter and stay informed! levieuxpin.ca

 

 

According to Maclean’s Magazine, here are the Top 50 restaurants in Canada.

And the winner of best restaurant of the year goes to Hawksworth Restaurant located in downtown Vancouver!

macleans magazine

photo courtesy of Maclean’s Magazine

 

Here is their list of the top restaurants in British Columbia and the wines from our winery they have featured on their list…

VANCOUVER

Bao Bei – Vaila rosé, Syrah Cuvee Violette

Maenam – Ava (viognier/roussanne/marsanne)

Hawksworth – Syrah Cuvée Violette amongst other wines from our library selection

La Quercia – they have an exclusive Italian wine list

Cioppino’s – many of our wines are listed

Blue Water Café –  Ava (viognier/roussanne/marsanne) amongst other wines from our library selection

L’Abattoir – Syrah amongst amongst other wines from our library selection

WHISTLER:

Araxi (Whistler) – many of our wines are listed with this venerable cornerstone of Whistler’s fine dining scene

IMG_3702 lo res

Keep up with what we are doing and find out all the restaurants and retailers who carry our wine! It’s easy… sign up for our monthly newsletter!

When people think of British Columbia, they usually think of places around Vancouver, Whistler, and the islands or the coast. But drive four hours east and you’ll encounter the Okanagan Valley.

LAS osoyoos lake bench

Stretching from Vernon in the North to Osoyoos (stone throw from the US border) in the South, the Okanagan Valley offers some fun summer activities. The South Okanagan Valley starts from Penticton (sandwiched between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake), and moves south through Oliver to Osoyoos along Osoyoos Lake. This is Canada’s only desert, and the northern tip of the Sonoran desert which starts in Mexico.

3-phase-adventures

3 Phase Adventures in Osoyoos offers paddle boarding tours to our sister winery LaStella.

las osprey by apricot block

Osprey at our Lumeno Vineyard

With more than 120 wineries in the Okanagan Valley, wine is not the only reason to tour our region (but it is a good one)!

Here are 8 reasons you should visit us this summer:

1. Winery Tours – DIY or hire a driver!

2. Birdwatching – so many species, so little time.

3. Water Sports (swimming, water skiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, jet skiing, parasailing, windsurfing and kayaking)

4. Golf – get your game on at one of the many world class!

5. Hiking & Biking – lots of local trails for exploring on foot and with wheels.

6. Cellar Chaperone Tour – learn more about the art, sceince and culture of grape growing and winemaking at Le Vieux Pin Winery.

7. Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre – A state-of-the-art interpretive centre.

8. Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad – World class miniature wonderland.

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Le Vieux Pin Winery

To Learn more about the South Okanagan, click these links for Oliver (Wine Capital of Canada) and Destination Osoyoos to learn more.

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Have you ever wondered what the difference was between these two varieties? Though grown from the same grape, these two wines bring very different characteristics to the table simply based on where they are grown and how they are made. Syrah originated in the Rhone area of France, while most wines labeled Shiraz come from South Africa or Australia. Having said that, in certain grape growing areas like Washington state or California’s Paso Robles, both styles of wine can be made. It’s common for one winery down the road to be making Syrah while the neighbour makes a Shiraz. In other words, geography is not the determining factor, the main difference is the style that each displays.

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Syrah reflects an Old World style, driven by spicy, peppery, and leathery flavors with a sense of earthiness and a sense of place underlying the fruit flavors. Rhone Syrah often brings bigger tannic structure and acidity with lower alcohol than its Shiraz brother. It is often a style of wine that shows best at the table with food. Almost always Syrah is a wine that displays a gentler ferment and aging in french oak.

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Shiraz on the other hand reflects a New World approach, with jammy dark fruit flavors and often higher alcohol content with less tannin and acidity. Shiraz wines are more extracted, bigger, fuller bodied and often prefer aging in American oak. In one quick glance Syrah yields more spice. savoury notes and finesse while Shiraz shows off a more fruit-forward, extracted and vanillin kissed wine.

Keep up with what we are doing and learn great tidbits like this – sign up for our newsletter to stay informed!

 

It’s pretty crazy to think that it’s ‘illegal’ to order wine from a Canadian winery and have it shipped to your home. But it’s an actual fact – most provinces in Canada simply don’t allow this. These laws date back to the prohibition period, and are in place to date even though this is a 6.8 billion dollar industry in Canada.

But things are changing in Nova Scotia…

A recent change in the law has opened Nova Scotia to direct shipping. Effective immediately, Nova Scotia residents of legal drinking age may now purchase 100% Canadian wine directly from a licensed out-of-province winery and have it shipped to their homes for personal consumption.

In celebration of this great news we’d like to offer you an opportunity to enjoy free shipping on any order. Register below to claim your coupon!

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British Columbia and Manitoba were the first to open their borders to Canadian Wineries, and now Nova Scotia has followed. It’s great news, but there is still a long way to go until all Canadian provinces open their borders.

Here is a recent article celebrating Nova Scotia’s new law: Wine Trade Barriers Between Nova Scotia and B.C. Removed

 

If you didn’t know already, BC’s South Okanagan, specifically Oliver and Osoyoos area makes stunning Syrah. You may have associated this variety with Washington state for years, like Cayuse Vineyards or Gramercy Cellars in Walla Walla.

However, our version is more finessed, elegant and balanced in style, which has set us apart from our neighbours to the south. We strongly show off Syrah from a cool-climate. And it’s this style that got the attention of some Michelin star restaurants in Europe. Jamie Goode, a wine writer in the UK recently attended an event called ‘Canada Calling’, see his suggestions of what to try in Canada, we are among some fantastic wines, read more – click here.

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It’s been an amazing 10 years seeing our small winery grow. Our dream became a reality in 2005, and we have enjoyed every single day since, despite the tremendous un-foreseen challenges along the way. We are not complaining though. It’s time to celebrate 10 wonderful years, with a very special dinner to kick-off the many celebrations that are coming up.

Are you expecting a blacktie Gala dinner with champagne and hors d’oeuvres? Or a dinner party at the winery with a live band to rock the night away? We are actually doing something radically different. We’ve planned a simple dinner – but one that is like no other ‘simple’ dining experience.

We’ll have fresh, foraged ingredients from our local forests (picked by Chef Robin Kort of Swallow Tail Tours, with the help of Chef Jefferson Alvarez and our very own employee of the month every month Rasoul Salehi). Chef Alvarez will then turn these bounties into a culinary creation that is designed to pair with our wines for a dinner to remember. From stinging nettle, reindeer moss, morel mushrooms to fiddleheads, wild berries, hemlock tips, bracken fern, wall lettuce, miner lettuce to various edible flowers, there is much in our local forest to be uncovered and enjoyed and best of all, it’s all natural. Your palates will dance and your tummies will be delighted!

We’ve got a surprise location set-up, which will lend the atmosphere to an inspirational and delicious evening. We are looking forward to celebrating our 10 years with an amazing feast of 8 courses from the forest and a talented Chef. For tickets and information: http://www.swallowtail.ca/upcoming-events/foraged-pop-up-restaurant/

 

Below are photos from our friend Luis Valdizon, the lens behind When They Find Us , while foraging in the forest to see what should be on our dinner menu!

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False lilly. Very poisenous. Not to be foraged.

 

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 Cypress Falls Park

 

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 Chicken of the woods (orange mushrooms)

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 Elderflower

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See all the photos here: http://www.whentheyfindus.com/2015/05/into-wild-forest-to-table-pop-up.html

We wait patiently every year for this season to arrive – Spot Prawns! Only available for 6-8 weeks every year starting in May, they are sustainably caught off the west coast of Vancouver, and mostly consumed within the local market. The cost and short term availability of these prawns is worth it once you’ve had a taste of them. They are sweet and succulent, often described as being in between the flavour of crab and lobster. They are also very soft in texture so they don’t require heavy sauces or marinades to accompany them, they need the simplest preparation to enjoy them.

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photo courtesy of http://spotprawnfestival.com 

 And with every good meal you need an extra special wine to match! Try our 2013 Le Vieux Pin ‘Ava’ (Viognier/Roussanne/Marsanne).

Aromas of peaches mingle with the pleasent subtle bitterness of pink grapefruit rind with a hint of apricot,  along with white honey notes on a brioche bun. The delicate flavour and medium body will suit the prawns nicely, sip after sip.

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Here are some preparation tips for enjoying Spot Prawns…

1. Keep the heads on if you plan on cooking them right away on the grill, otherwise remove the heads from the spot prawns, as they will release an enzyme that will deteriorate the meat the longer the heads remain attached.

2. Rinse thoroughly and keep refrigerated until you are ready to cook them (up to 3 days), if kept very cold.

3. When you are ready, remove the shell and tail or if you are grilling them keep the shell and tail on.

4. If you are pan frying the meat, be careful not to over cook them –  1-2 minutes per side should suffice! Don’t forget that with any meat it will continue to cook once removed from the heat source.

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photo courtesy of http://spotprawnfestival.com 

Here’s a great recipe to try…

Sauteed Garlic Spot Prawns

Lee Humphries, chef de cuisine of former C restaurant

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24 prawns, live and whole

8 ounces (244 grams) of butter, unsalted

4 jalapenos, sliced, seeds removed

8 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly

12 tbsp (180 mL) of chopped parsley

12 tbsp (180 mL) of sliced preserved lemon

Salt and pepper, to season

8 ounces white wine

4 tsp (20 mL) of olive oil

In a hot sauté pan, add a little olive oil. Add prawns and butter. Sauté quickly.

Add remaining ingredients and deglaze with white wine. Season to taste. Plate and garnish with microgreens.

Twist, peel and enjoy.

Serves 4

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For more Spot Prawn Recipes: 

attend an event or check out the recipes at Prawnfest.ca in Cowichan Bay on Thursday May 14 – Sunday May 17

attend or check out the recipes at 2015 Spot Prawn Festival in Vancouver on Sunday May 17th.

There’s a prevailing notion that the exotic spices and bold flavors in Asian meals don’t play nicely with wine. While we can’t argue that a hoppy IPA tastes great with a spicy meal, you can certainly find wines that go well with your favorite Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Korean dishes. Today we explore what works and what doesn’t when it comes to pairing with Asian dishes, and we’ll also share a few of our favorite recipes along with recommendations on what wines to try with each one.

Although it’s possible to pair a red wine with a spicy meal, in general you’ll find white wines do better, but it really depends on the meal itself. Start by considering the ingredients – is it a spicy Thai dish loaded with chile peppers, or a tangy Vietnamese recipe with lots of ginger and lime? Either one might deserve a completely different wine.

Consider these wines as possible options:

  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pinot Noir
  • Rose
  • Moscato
  • Champagne

In general we recommend avoiding bigger reds. Their higher alcohol content, heavy tannins, and thick oak flavors tend to overwhelm delicate flavors. That being said, if you have a braised steak or lamb dish with a salty backbone, a Pinot, Syrah, or Zinfandel might be a good option to explore.

White wines often bring lower alcohol levels and an array of stone and citrus fruit flavors that work to cleanse the palate and compliment sweet and sour flavors. The bright stone fruit flavors in Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, or the touch of sweetness in a Moscato, and even a bit of effervescent bubbles in a sparkling wine all tend to work nicely. You might also consider white blends like our beloved AVA which mixes Riesling, Rousanne, and Marsanne, and brings a nice burst of peach, lemon, and lychee flavors.

Try these recipes for easy pairings:

1. Chicken Larb Salad

This simple and delicious salad is a staple of Thai and Laotian cuisine, and it includes a nice balance of sweet and sour flavors with a tangy zip of lime.

Pairing suggestions: 2013 Ava or the 2014 Vaila Rose.

Get the recipe here: http://www.kitchenkonfidence.com/chicken-larb

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2. Sticky honey lemon ginger chicken

With its mouthwatering flavors of honey, lemon, and ginger, this crowd pleasing recipe calls for an equally tantalizing wine with plenty of fruit and acidity.

Pairing suggestions: Our 2014 Petit Blanc which is dominated by stone and citrus fruit flavors.

Get the recipe here: http://www.carlsbadcravings.com/sticky-honey-lemon-ginger-chicken/

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3. Sweet & Spicy Chicken Wings

Two classic flavors come together in this recipe, which includes everyone’s favorite ingredient – Sriracha.

Pairing suggestions: We’d opt for the 2014 Petit Blanc or the 2013 Moscato D’Osoyoos from LaStella, our sister winery. Their 2014 Pinot Grigio would also do well.

Get the recipe here: http://www.thelittlekitchen.net/sweet-spicy-four-ingredient-chicken-wings

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Remember that dominant flavors in Asian food include spicy, sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Vietnamese and Thai dishes often include balanced layers of flavor, and those regions might be a good place to start exploring pairing options. Don’t be afraid to try new things and explore these sorts of pairings on your own or with friends.

A true wine aficionado cannot be just a wine lover. In fact, we’re fairly certain most wine lovers have a love of gastronomy -the art and science of food and beverages – and this is what peaks our interest and excites us.
So when one of the worldwide leaders of nouveau cuisine (Chef Carlos) came to Vancouver, we did not miss the chance to experience his food! All the way from Venezuela, Chef Carlos along with Chef Jefferson Alvarez, were in the city for a special dining event at the Secret Location RestaurantChef Carlos (of the well renowned restaurant, ALTO—located in Caracas, Venezuela) took guests on a culinary journey with 10-courses each inspiring and mind bending in their own unique way. Both chefs were very gracious, but especially Chef Carlos (pictured below) when we asked for a photo with our gift to him to take back as a souvenir, the 2012 Syrah Cuvée Classique. We wanted to make sure fellow food and wine lovers back in Venezuela knew about us, our unique and small wine region of South Okanagan and the amazing quality of our wines coming from the worlds northern most desert.
We of course took the opportunity to share what we do with Chef Carlos. He tried our wine, and was as most people are: taken by surprise of what Canada can do with wine. So much so, that Chef Carlos expressed sincere interest in working with our wine back home in Venezuela! So stay tuned for updates… (we are already engaging with some importers there).
That’s winery life for you. Over a glass of wine, this giant planet of ours is turned into a small village, doors are opened and we humans connect in deep, sincere and meaningful ways.

 

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See the pictures and narrative posted by our friend Luis Valdezon on when they find us:  When They Find Us.

 

Things are happening in BC wineries, there is energy, can you feel it? With so much positive press lately, the world is coming to know what we already knew. BC is an emerging Int’l wine region. Sure, you may pay more than in an old world region, but consider – our land, our labour and our costs are higher, and honestly, we are a newer wine region fighting to prove our worth – so we will not sacrifice quality for a cheaper result.

Read what Anthony Gismondi has to say: Great Expectations for BC Wines This Year

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keep up with what we are doing, join our newsletter.

A recent article from Le Figaro in France, credits Canada including BC with producing great wine. So it’s no surprise that a recent article named the Okanagan Valley the World’s 2nd best wine region to visit! We are being discovered by travel and wine writers, winemakers and sommeliers from around the world. They are surprised with the beauty of our region and more importantly the quality of wine being produced.

With all the recent press, we hope to introduce our wines to the International market, so don’t miss a chance to secure wine from your own backyard, we are a small production winery – so when it’s gone… it’s gone until the next vintage!

join our newsletter for up to date information, join our wine club to get in on exclusive wines, order wine on-line and drop by our tasting room soon, we are open daily from 11am – 5pm.

We’ve translated a portion of the article below…

 

“Canada, a land of great wines to discover urgently…

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“Everyone here is celebrating Quebec wine with a contagious enthusiasm. And the virus had us!”

This is a country that I was waiting to see with some impatience!

Canada has always fascinated me; its culture, its surface area, its landscapes, the hospitality of its people. And I must say that I was not the only one stamping impatiently. Ludovic, my faithful traveling sidekick was born in Pointe-Claire (in the province of Quebec) and spent the first eight years of his life in a Montreal suburb. An impression was formed and Ludo was eager to share with me. Especially since two of his three sisters live there today! A family story in short.

As any wine lover knows, Canada is essentially synonymous with ice wine … but that’s not all! From east to west the whole country has shown that it is also a land of great dry wines, as evidenced by the white and red of Quebec to Ontario and British Columbia. On this 3-week trip to the land of loggers and maple syrup it has brought us to new discoveries and surprises of wine encounters and strong friendships.

 

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Osoyoos Larose – British Columbia
Photo: Ludovic Pollet

British Columbia, a wine region not to underestimate
A view of Canada and to our delight, British Columbia is extremely dynamic when it comes to promoting its wines. Our first step in the province brings us to Vancouver, for the show “Colour BC VQA Fall Release“, where the Association of British Columbia wines warmly invited us. The opportunity to meet many producers and their wines. We learn that the province has 215 domains on five sub-regions: Vancouver Island, Fraser Valley, Similkameen Valley, Gulf Islands and the Okanagan Valley.

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Painted Rock – Canada
Photo: Ludovic Pollet

We end our stay in the Okanagan Valley with a visit to the domain Le Vieux Pin. Their style is expressed by the art of winemaking with Syrah (and Rhone varietals north in general – Condrieu: Marsanne and Roussanne). The Equinoxe Syrah vintage 2011 ($ 85) is divine and recalls the delicacy of the grape with hints of violets and black pepper.

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Painted Rock – Canada
Photo: Ludovic Pollet

Canada has made us realize the wine-growing potential that is here. And although the country is still a (very) small producer of wine on a global scale, we must not forget that with 4.5 million hectoliters in 2012, Canada is one of the top 10 wine-consuming countries in the world. Canada is not only a country of great wines – dry and sweet – but also a land of amateurs and connoisseurs.

See the full French article online here.

The article below comes out at the perfect time.

This past February we took a trip to New York City alongside some of our most respected neighbour’s and peers. A special thanks must be directed towards Vancouver’s own; Kurtis Kolt. Kurtis has become a tireless advocate for our region and his efforts organizing the event will not be forgotten. NYC boasts some of the best wine lists and writers in the world and provides an ideal platform to assess regional progress.

The venue for our educational event needs little introduction ‘Corkbuzz’, has become a staple of the Union Square restaurant scene and boasts a carefully selected and creative wine list.  Our Valley is blessed with diversity of soil, climate and topography. Our message was clear; we have embraced these attributes and wish to showcase them in the bottle.

The event was a resounding success and wines from both LaStella and Le Vieux Pin (as well as our industry friends) were extremely well received. I struggle to think of somebody in attendance who was not sincerely surprised by the quality on offer. We are still receiving positive feedback from the event.

As the old adage goes; “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!”

And on the heals of NYC, we are getting ready to travel to London, England in May to visit the Canada House with more of our Okanagan colleagues such as: Laughing Stock, Tantalus, Painted Rock and Blue Mountain. The event in London is geared towards educating the trade and media there about what is happening in the South Okanagan wine region.

They do see a small amount of our wines abroad, and in London you can find our Syrah exclusively sold at Negozio Classica Wine Bar and Shop.

To find out more about where are wines are sold and available abroad, send us an email: [email protected]

Boutique B.C. Wineries Wow International Sommeliers and Tap Niche Markets

By Susanne Martin & Randall Mang of TheRac.ca 

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“The notion of selling Canadian wines in Europe may sound far-fetched. But Okanagan-B.C. sister wineries La Stella and Le Vieux Pins have proved that with the right approach, even in markets overflowing with fine wines it is possible to become a toast of the town.

Noting that the South Okanagan’s compact growing area is equal to the size of just “nine or 10 Bourdeaux Chateaus,” Rasoul Salehi, the wineries’ managing partner and director of sales and marketing, says, “It’s quite rare for regions of our size to export. And if they do, the exports are usually dominated by one or two large players.”

According to Salehi not long ago there was little need for Okanagan wineries to export, since “everything to the last drop was purchased in British Columbia.”

Yet as early as 2008, he sensed that the “love affair of British Columbians with local wines” was fading. “I felt it wasn’t sustainable. It’s also risky to be tied to only one market. So we set out to create a more balanced portfolio.”

Salehi looked at nearby markets, such as Alberta, but a dominance among higher-volume lower-priced producers indicated these markets weren’t the best fit for his small-batch vintages. “We realized that we couldn’t win this game through quantity,” he says.

Rasoul and sommHead sommelier Sven and Rasoul of Le Vieux Pin at La vie 3 michelin star osnabruck Germany

Instead, Salehi felt he could appeal to international aficionados who would appreciate his wines’ unique characteristics, which stem from the Okanagan’s northern desert terroir, climate and diurnal temperature variation. “It gives the wine a lushness and exuberant quality that can’t usually be found in other wine regions,” he says.

“Wines capture an essence of place and time. For us, it’s all about purity and the work in the vineyard.”

Confident in the wineries’ unique sales propositions, Salehi set out to explore opportunity in the heartland of wine – Europe. In a surprise twist, he made a fortunate connection surprisingly close to home. In Vancouver, Salehi met a Swiss wine importer who was in town on a quest to explore the city’s best restaurants and B.C.’s finest wines.

“He loved what he tasted, and the rest is history,” says Salehi, adding that shortly afterwards La Stella and Le Vieux Pins wines’ reputations began gaining traction at trade tasting events. Before long, distributers in Japan and New York were knocking on his door.

A strong digital presence helped too. “A Swedish partner learned about us through my posts on social media,” says Salehi.

Travelling abroad and working with his distributor partners in local markets, Salehi made connections with top-end restaurants and international sommeliers, further fueling interest and sales.

Today, beyond selling their wines across Canada, La Stella and Le Vieux Pins have built customer bases in Switzerland, Germany, England, Japan and elsewhere, including listings on the menus of several Michelin-starred European restaurants.

Beyond having grown its sales and offshore presence as niche player, Salehi is proud that the wineries’ efforts are helping bring more attention to the Okanagan region. “If we succeed, the region succeeds, and vice versa.”

Salehi says he is also fortunate to work closely with a group of about 10 Okanagan wineries that collaborate and share ideas on international expansion. During the first week in February, he and other local winery representatives travelled to New York City to talk to media and importers.

Together, they set out to “sell a lot of wine, create a lot of buzz and be the next thing New York wine heroes are looking for,” says Salehi.

To read the online article, click here: TheRac.ca

As Easter approaches, it’s a time to re-connect with family and friends by cooking our favourite recipes, or it’s a time to re-connect with our family heritage through traditional food. Here, some of our staff share their family dinner recipes along with a wine to go with the meal.

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Alex – tasting room supervisor

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Wild Mushroom and Onion Kasha (from Epicurious) + 2013 Syrah Cuvée Violette

“I am Ukrainian and we would have this along with the other traditional Ukrainian things like cabbage rolls, and perogies but if you wanted to have something different, I recommend this kasha. Prepared with suateed onions and mushrooms, an ideal pairing for our freshly bottled 2013 Syrah Cuvee Violette. A floral, elevated, and aromatic Syrah with its classic earthy spicy flavours will be a great pairing for this Kasha recipe.”

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Severine – our winemaker

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Lamb Stew with Flageolets and Herbs (from Martha Stewart) + 2012 Syrah Cuvée Classique

In france, we traditionnaly do a rostaed leg of lamb with Flageolet (small green beans –like white kidney beans) with potatoes….so this receipe is not too far off…I would pair that with the Syrah Classsique. The savoury, spicy and smoky notes will pair well with this flavourful and hearty lamb stew and the medium tannins will balance nicely.

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Wade – tasting room supervisor

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Spinach and Gruyere Quiche (from Martha Stewart) + 2014 Vaila Rosé

“For the next day when everybody is tired of eating to much, here is a light dinner idea that would go well with our Rosé!”

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HAPPY EASTER TO ALL OUR WINERY FRIENDS AND FAMILY!

Have you ever wondered what happens in the vineyard in the winter? After the vineyard team takes a well-deserved break, they return to get the vineyard ready for the new growing season! And that starts with pruning in the vineyard – one of many labour intensive jobs throughout the year. Each block and vine is pruned at different times from January to March based on which is ready first.

 

Picture 1: Spur Pruning

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Our team started pruning mid January and they started with the Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon blocks at La Stella (our sister winery in Osoyoos) as these grape varieties are more winter resistant than Syrah for example. The Syrah (at Le Vieux Pin) is left to the end…that’s what we are pruning this month (March).

What is pruning anyways? Well, pruning is the annual removal of wood during the dormant season in a vineyard.  This is the first step in our yield management strategy and it is an essential step benefiting both the plant and the quality of our fruits.

 

Pruning also helps us manage:

1. the vine growth

2. the size and efficiency of the vine

3. the shoot position

4. with vine balance (we aim to get a balance between the canopy surface and the amount of clusters per vine)

5. it removes dead or diseased wood

 

Picture 2: A picture of spur pruning and cane pruning.

We need to replace one of the cordon and we are going to use that cane to make a new one.

The next step in the vineyard will be to tie the fruit wire to the cane to become a cordon.

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Picture 3: This shows the buds we have left.

Those buds will grow into shoots that will hopefully carry clusters (of grapes).

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Picture 4: This is called “crying vines”. Because of the very warm temperature we are having,

the sap is starting to flow again in the wood vessels and sap is coming out of the vines when we cut it to prune it.

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The next step is suckering (removing unwanted new growths and non-grape bunches bearing buds), this will be in late April/early May. Followed by shoot thining (in May/June); In August we start green harvesting (dropping bunches of grapes to help concentrate the energy to the fewer remaining bunches on the vine) this happens when veraison starts.

If you want to learn more about what we do in the Vineyard and everything else that we have going on, sign up for our newsletter!

At the end of January, a very good friend of the winery (Chef Victor Bongo) travelled to New York City to participate in the New York Times Travel Show – “Taste of the World, Kids Kitchen”. Chef Bongo along with just recently former Pastry Chef of the White House Chef Bill Yosses (on the right), also got the chance to cook with Michelle Obama.

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As a gift to say Thank You, Chef Bongo and Chef Yosses sent a bottle of our wine home with the Obama’s to enjoy. And although they didn’t get the chance to sip wine with the President and First Lady, they did receive a message from them that they were really impressed with the quality of what Canadian wine can achieve!

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It’s a humbling feeling to receive high-end compliments regarding our little gem of a winery. It also is a reflection on our wine region in the South Okanagan, there are many winemakers making outstanding wines.

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Thank you Chef Yosses and Chef Bongo, we are happy to have you both as fans! We hope to have Chef Yosses visit us in Vancouver and the South Okanagan in the near future to hold a Red wine and chocolate dessert pairing event.

Join our newsletter to stay informed about all upcoming events.

In famous wine growing regions around the world you’ll find certain varietals more highly esteemed than others. In Napa and Bordeaux Cabernet reigns king, in the Barossa Valley its Shiraz, and in Argentina Malbec takes the crown. But what about Okanagan? As a relative newcomer to the world stage of viticulture, the region doesn’t seem to have an immediate association with any single varietal, but maybe it should. In this unique micro-climate certain grapes fare well and Syrah seems particularly at home.

One of our designated blocks for Syrah shown below.

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Syrah displays incredible versatility and a wide range of characteristics. From the Old World Rhone style, with their funky barnyard, smoked meat, and floral notes to the more contemporary, berry-driven Shiraz in Australia, the grape is full of expression.

“Most of those notes can continue on the palate, where in warmer years and hotter climates (like contemporary Shiraz out of Australia), one could also note jammy dark fruit like blackberry and blueberry being a little more generous with an additional dash or two of pepper. They can be earthy and on the lighter side of medium-weight in cool climates, and downright boozy, heavy and sweet-ish where it’s hot. Add a little oak treatment (which is often done) and you can see a layer of vanilla, dark chocolate and a good helping of baking spices.”

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“Two recently-tasted Syrahs that rocked my world that you can get here at My Wine Canada include B.C.’s Le Vieux Pin 2011 Syrah [$49.90], which seems to bridge Old World and New World in style…”

In the South Okanagan, we find ideal conditions to growing amazing Syrah that strikes a perfect balance of flavors, reflecting the vineyards where it grows. Each example we produce shows off a slightly different aspect, from the elegant and finessed Syrah Cuvée Violette 2013 [$29.90]; to the balanced Syrah Cuvée Equinoxe 2011 [$89.90] with floral notes and white and black pepper; to the bold Syrah Cuvée Classique 2012 [$49.90 mentioned by Kurtis] with spice and pepper notes and darker fruit profile showing off the savoury side of this varietal.

Syrah plays nicely with a wide range of foods.

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While Syrah remains one of our premier varietals at Le Vieux Pin, you’ll find an array of other late-ripening varietals like Merlot, Cabernet, and Cab Franc growing in our vineyard blocks. Each one fares well in the region, and given the area’s rather short viticulture history, we imagine the potential exists for any one of these to define South Okanagan’s wine profile. Only time will tell…

Visit My Wine Canada to learn more about Syrah and its history.

It was such a pleasure for us to be one of the sponsors at the 1st Annual New Cover’s New Silk Road North America Fashion Glamour event at the River Rock Casino Resort. The competition aims to discover new model talents in North America and to promote the integration of the Chinese and western fashions. There were 15 finalists with the winner participating in the fall New Silk Road model contest in China.

Here are some photos from the event courtesy of Luis at When they Find Us. And for more information about the event visit CNTVA.com

The models wait for their turn on stage, at this well executed event.

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VIP guests enjoyed a special reception before the show.

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Sean and Saeedeh Salem, the owners of Le Vieux Pin and sister La Stella Winery pose with a model and good friend Grace Li.

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10 lucky winners won a beautiful wooden box including a bottle of our Ava and Fortissimo.

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Food can and is just as sexy as wine or a sexy outfit. So when you find a recipe that you can make slowly and seductively in front of your valentine, why would you choose to make anything else!

These delicious toasts with creamy goat cheese and sweet raspberries, drizzled with sticky, soft honey will match our juicy Ava 2013 beautifully.  The blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne share many of the same notes but with just enough acidity to balance with the creamy goat cheese and sweet honey. Enjoy this as a start to your evening, or as an afternoon treat.

Recipe and picture courtesy of Becky Harden – The CookieRookie.com.

 

Raspberry and Honey Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Serves: 16Raspberry-and-Honey-Goat-Cheese-Bruschetta-6
Ingredients
  • Loaf of French bread, sliced into 16 ½ inch slices
  • 1 8 oz package of Driscoll’s Raspberries
  • 4 ounce package of goat cheese
  • Raspberry Jam
  • Honey
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Placed sliced bread on a foil lined cooking sheet and spray or brush the top of each slice lightly with olive oil.
  3. Bake the break for about 8 minutes, until bread is slightly browned and crispy.
  4. Spread Raspberry Jam on each slice of bread.
  5. Top the jam with goat cheese
  6. Place 2-3 raspberries on each slice of bread and drizzle with honey
  7. Enjoy!

 

Today’s Wine & Food Pairing is from Rasoul (our Sales & Marketing Manager):

Wine – Syrah Cuvée Classique

Food – Rasoul’s recipe suggestion is a Pink Peppercorn and Fennel Seed Stuffed Quail Roast.

Recipe courtesy of Fabio Viviani.

 

Quail, Stuffed with Fennel & Roasted Pepper Forcemeat, Grated Cauliflower, Carmelized Brussel Sprouts with a Bourbon Reduction

Ingredients:IMG_5389
•4 Ea. Whole Boneless Quail
•1 T. Rosemary
•1 T. Sage
•1 T. Dijon Mustard
For the Forcemeat:
•1/2 Lbs. Ground Chicken
•1 Ea. Red Bell Pepper (roasted, seeded, skinned & diced)
•1 Ea. Fennel Bulb (julienned & caramelized)
•1 Tsp. Fennel Seed (toasted & grinded)
•1 Tsp. Coriander Seed (toasted & grinded)
•1 Tsp. Black Peppercorn (toasted & grinded)
•1 T. Garlic (minced)
•1 T. Parsley (chopped)
For the Caramelized Brussels Sprouts & Cauliflower:
•1 Lbs. Brussels Sprouts (cut in half & blanched)
•1/2 Ea. Head of Cauliflower (purple, golden, white) grated
For the Bourbon Reduction:
•2 C. Bourbon
•4 T. Unsalted Butter
•1/2 C. Veal demi glacé

PROCEDURE:
For the Forcemeat & the Quail: In a large bowl mix together all ingredients. Place into a piping bag & stuff quail not too much as it will come out of the bottom. Fold legs & wings across each other & tie with butcher’s twine (this will help keep filling inside). Season quail with olive oil, dijon mustard, & herbs. Roast quail at 350 degrees until golden brown & chicken in middle is cooked through about 30-45 minutes.
For the Caramelized Brussels Sprouts & Cauliflower: Heat up a large sauté pan until smoking. Add a little bit of olive oil & caramelize Brussels sprouts. Toward the end add cauliflower & season with salt & pepper.
For the Bourbon Reduction: Add bourbon to a sauce pot & cook at medium to high heat, careful as the liquid might ignite (if this does happen no problem just make sure nothing catches on fire). Once liquid has reduced by 3/4 turn heat to medium low & slowly add butter whisking until nice & thick. Add veal demi glacé & season with salt & pepper.
To Plate: Place Brussels sprouts & cauliflower in middle of plate. Top with crispy quail & drizzle sauce top & around the plate. Serve & enjoy.

Today’s Wine & Food Pairing is from Alex (our Wine Club Manager & Tasting Room Supervisor):

Wine – Ava (Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne blend)

Food – Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds. Ava has body and weight. It is often overlooked at it’s ability to handle spice and chillies. I think this dish encapsulates Ava’s potential. Viognier’s classic stone fruit flavours will pair nicely with the apricots found in the dish. The wine’s weight shows elegance in it’s ability accompany the subtle nutty and spicy elements of the chicken.

 

Recipe courtesy of The Daring Gourmet.

Moroccan Chicken, Apricot and Almond Tagine
Serves: 4
IngredientsIMG_2623
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
  • 1 lb chicken breast, diced (vegetarian/vegan: use 3 extra cups squash and an extra can of garbanzo beans)
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 chicken or vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 tablespoon harissa (or less if you prefer less spicy) (or other red chile paste)
  • 1½ tablespoons honey (vegan: substitiute agave syrup)
  • ⅓ cup dried apricots, chopped
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ⅓ cup slivered almonds
  • ½ of a preserved lemon (click for instructions) or 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (not remotely the same thing, but you can use it in a pinch)
  • 4 cups butternut squash (or sweet potatoes or pumpkin), peeled, seeded and cut into bite sized pieces
  • Salt to taste
  • Extra slivered almonds for garnishing
  • For the couscous:
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
  • 2 cups couscous
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken, turmeric, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon, stir to combine, and saute until the chicken is no longer pink.
  2. Add the water, bouillon cubes, chickpeas, harissa, honey, raisins, almonds, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the butternut squash, stir to combine, return to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for another 25 minutes, or until the squash is fork-tender.
  4. Garnish with some slivered almonds and serve with the couscous.
  5. To make the couscous:
  6. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the butter and bouillon cubes and stir until dissolved. While the water is still boiling, add the couscous. Turn off the heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

A delicious Wine & Food Pairing from Wade (our Wine Club Manager & Tasting Room Supervisor):

Wine – Syrah

Food – Roast Duck with Spice rub and Madeira gravy. Just the right amount of structure without firm tannins to enhance the heat and spice of the rub. Earthy, pepper and savory tones in the Syrah complimenting the earthiness of the Duck.

 

Recipe courtesy of BBC Good Food.

Ingredients

For the duck

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  • 25g sea salt flakes
  • 2 tsp crushed black peppercorns
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves plus 2-4 sprigs
  • 2 large or 4 small ducks legs (550g/1lb 4oz total weight)
  • 340g can goose fat
  • 300ml/½pint groundnut oil

For the madeira

  • generous knob of butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp plain flour
  • 300g tub fresh chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp Madeira

For the cabbage

  • 4 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 5 juniper berries, finely chopped
  • 400g red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • juice of 1 small orange
  • 25g large raisins
  • 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly

Method

  1. At least 24 hours before serving, mix the salt, pepper and herbs, except the thyme sprigs, in a large bowl. Add the duck legs and rub in the herby salt until well coated. Cover and leave overnight or up to 24 hours in the fridge.
  2. Next day, wipe the salty mixture from the duck legs and place them in a single, tight-fitting layer in the base of a pan. Add the bay leaves from the bowl and pour over the goose fat. If it doesn’t cover the duck, top up with the groundnut oil. Cook over the lowest possible heat for 21⁄2 hours, so the fat barely bubbles. The duck skin should be creamy rather than golden once cooked. Transfer the legs to a bowl and strain in the fat, pushing the duck under until fully submerged. (The duck can now be chilled and refrigerated for up to 1 month.)
  3. While the duck is cooking (or up to 2 days ahead of the meal), make the Madeira gravy and cabbage. For the gravy, melt the butter in a small pan, add the shallots and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring until golden. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring all the time, until the flour browns – take care not to let it burn. Whisk in the stock and continue whisking over the heat until slightly thickened. Add the Madeira and cook for 2 minutes more. Strain through a sieve into a bowl. (The gravy can now be cooled and chilled for up to 2 days.)
  4. For the cabbage, scoop 2 tbsp of the goose fat from the duck as it cooks (if making at another time use olive oil) and put into a medium pan. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened. Tip in the juniper berries and cabbage and cook over a fairly high heat until the cabbage starts to soften. Stir in the vinegar, orange juice, raisins and redcurrant jelly. Cover and leave to cook for 15 minutes, stirring now and then until tender. (Cool and chill for up to 2 days if making ahead.)
  5. On the day, preheat the oven to fan 180C/ conventional 200C/gas 6. Remove the duck legs from the fat and wipe away any excess with kitchen paper. Put the duck on a wire rack in a roasting tin and top each leg with a sprig of thyme. Roast for 10 minutes, then add the Creamy wild mushroom potatoes to the oven (see recipe, below) and cook with the duck for 30 minutes, or until the duck skin is golden. Meanwhile, reheat the cabbage and gravy in separate pans until piping hot.
  6. To serve, put a generous spoonful of cabbage on serving plates and sit the duck legs on top. Spoon round the gravy and serve with the potatoes. For a green vegetable, quickly stir fry some sugar snaps.

Winter weather calls for this Wine & Food Pairing from Alex (our Wine Club Manager & Tasting Room Supervisor):

Wine – Syrah Cuvée Violette

Food – Indian Lamb Korma

 

Lamb Korma Recipe courtesy of Canadian Living.

Portion size

IngredientsIMG_5403

  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) raw unsalted cashews
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) vegetable oil
  • 6 onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 lb (1.8 kg) boneless lamb shoulders
  • 3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt, (approx)
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
  • 4 green chillies or  jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) finely minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) finely minced gingerroot
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) garam masala
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) Balkan-style plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground mace, (or 1/4 tsp/1 mL nutmeg)
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups (750 mL) lamb stock or water
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) rose water or water
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) saffron threads
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) lime juice, (approx)

Preparation

In dry skillet, toast cashews over medium heat until well browned. Transfer to food processor; pulse until fine. Set aside in food processor.

In same skillet, heat 1/4 cup (50 mL) of the oil over medium heat; cook onions, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until caramelized. Let cool. Add to cashews; puree until smooth.

Meanwhile, cut lamb into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes; toss with half each of the salt and pepper. In same skillet, brown lamb, in batches, over medium-high heat; transfer to bowl. Add 1/3 cup (75 mL) water to pan, scraping up any brown bits. Add to lamb; set aside.

In Dutch oven, heat remaining oil over medium heat; fry chilies, bay leaves, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes, stirring often and adding up to 2 tbsp (25 mL) water if mixture sticks to pan. Add coriander; fry, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add garam masala; fry, stirring, for 30 seconds.

Stir in yogurt, mace and cayenne; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Whisk in stock, onion mixture and remaining salt and pepper until combined.

Add lamb and any juices to pan; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring often, for about 1-1/2 hours or until lamb is tender and sauce is darkened and thickened. Discard bay leaves.

Meanwhile, warm rose water in microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir in saffron and let stand for 15 minutes. Stir into lamb mixture along with lime juice. If desired, add more lime juice and salt to taste. (Make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes; refrigerate in airtight container for up to 3 days.)

Additional information : Tip: Garam masala is available in Indian stores and the spice aisle of many grocery stores and supermarkets. But the flavour is best when you toast and grind your own spices.

Here’s how: Toast 1 each cinnamon stick and black cardamom pod, broken; 1 tsp (5 mL) each whole cloves and peppercorns; and 1/2 tsp (2 mL) fennel seeds until aromatic. Grind in spice grinder until powdered.

Makes about 1 tbsp (15 mL).

The next time you attend an event at GM Place, make sure you ask for a glass of our Petit Blanc or Syrah Cuvée Classique on TAP!
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Today’s Wine & Food Pairing is from Mike (our Operations Manager):

Wine – Sauvignon Blanc

Food – One of Mike’s favourites pairing this wine with fresh oysters – specifically “Oysterman Oysters” from Cortes Island.IMG_2620

Today’s Wine & Food Pairing is from Severine (our Winemaker):

Wine – Vaila Rosé

Food – A classic Greek Salad or a Prosciutto Pizza (recipes below)

 

 

The Ultimate Greek Salad Recipe courtesy of Nigella Lawson.

Substitute sliced fennel for the more traditional cucumber (which also has the benefit of not making the salad go wet and soggy on standing around); and let the onion steep, sprinkled with dried oregano, in the oil and vinegar for long enough for it to lose any potential for that acrid, rib-sticking aftertaste. This version is mild, abundant, gloriously summery. If you don’t like fennel, then just leave it out, but exclude, still, the cucumber.

IngredientsIMG_5399

  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 medium tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • 1 pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 1 very  large romaine lettuce
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • ¾ cup pitted black olives
  • 1 lb feta cheese
  • juice of  ½ lemon

 

Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza Recipe courtesy of The Kitchn.

Makes one 10-12″ pizza

1 ball pizza dough, store-bought or homemade (see Additional Notes)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato sauce, store-bought or homemade
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
4 slices prosciutto
A couple handfuls arugula

If you have a pizza stone, place it on a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 550°F (or maximum oven temperature) for at least 30 minutes.

If transferring the pizza to a stone in the oven, assemble on a well-floured peel or cutting board. Otherwise assemble on the surface you will be cooking on (parchment paper, baking sheet, etc.). Roll or stretch the dough into a circle. Brush the edges of the dough with olive oil. Spread the tomato sauce over the rest of the dough. Sprinkle with about half the cheese. Lay the prosciutto slices so they are evenly covering the dough and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake the pizza until edges are lightly browned and cheese is bubbly and browned in spots, about 6 minutes at 550°F. Remove from oven and scatter arugula over the top.

 

 

 

 

Today’s Wine & Food Pairing is from Mike (our Operations Manager):

Wine – Equinoxe Syrah

Food – One of Mike’s favourite winter dishes is a Venison Daube (like a bourguignon cooked with black olives).

 

 

Recipe courtesy of Cuisine.

Venison & Prune Daube with Roast Cauliflower, Olive & Pine Nut Salad

IngredientsIMG_5381

SERVES: 4

Rich flavours of venison, sherry and prunes are offset by a roast cauliflower and olive salad

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, diced
1 teaspoon toasted coriander seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
2 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste with a pinch of salt
1 carrot, peeled, finely diced
1 celery stick, peeled, finely diced
500g cubed Denver leg venison (I used Silver Fern Farms)
2 tablespoons flour
50g pitted prunes, finely sliced
zest of 1 orange
1⁄4 cup dry sherry
2 cups beef stock

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan then fry the onions for 7 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the crushed coriander seeds and garlic and fry for a minute before adding the carrot and celery. Reduce the heat and gently fry the vegetables until soft. Remove the vegetables to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Dust the venison with the flour then increase the frying pan heat and brown the venison on all sides. Return the vegetables to the pan, along with the prunes, orange zest and sherry. Allow the sherry to bubble for 1 minute then pour the stock over the top and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cover tightly with foil or a lid then cook in the oven for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender (check the liquid level after 1 hour and add a little water if necessary). Serve with the cauliflower salad.

Roast cauliflower, olive & pine nut salad
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
4 tablespoons olive oil
20 pitted Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons pine nuts
juice of 1 orange
1 small red onion, finely diced

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Put the cauliflower in a single layer on a baking-paper-lined baking tray then roast for 10 minutes or until crisp and golden around the edges.

Scatter the olives and pine nuts over the cauliflower then cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until the pine nuts are golden (watch this stage carefully, as the pine nuts will brown quickly).

Whisk the orange juice, onion and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil together then toss this dressing together with the cauliflower mixture. Serve with the venison.

 

If we had our way, Le Vieux Pin wines would be the only thing under everyones tree this year! But we are so happy to be featured on Carmen TV and wine with cookbooks is a perfect gift! In this Christmas Shopping episode we are featured at Barbra Jo’s Cooks to Books. Happy Shopping everyone.

We are happy to be part of the ‘Best Medium White wines of 2015’ list put out by judges DJ Kearney for Vancouver Magazine. To see the online post, click here.

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Thanks to Wineshout for this great article on our Équinoxe Syrah 2011.

“Supple and elegant, the 2011 Équinoxe Syrah is the benchmark for BC Syrah. 

LVP-Marimekko

Made primarily from fruit grown from a single vineyard in North Oliver in the South Okanagan, this Syrah (with a splash of Viognier) captures the characteristics of this unique desert region – the heat of its days and the cold desert nights – though in the long and cool 2011 growing season kept alcohol levels down, allowing for a graceful wine.

Peppery spice and subtle, there are floral notes and silky berries supported by great structure and acidity. What’s notable is how delicate the notes are, balanced, integrated, exceptionally so far a wine still in its youth.

You might have to shell out a few extra bones for it, but the Equinoxe Syrah is a wine that is a prize to keep and cherish for a few years, and one day to surprise yourself and those you love. Having said that it’s drinkable now with some decanting.”

To see  the full article, click here.

 

Ron Wilson has created an easy to read blog called Cheap and Cheerful. Check out his review of our Petit Blanc and add his blog to your bookmarks!

Le Vieux Pin Petit Blanc

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“I had heard great things about this wine so I was glad to find it on the tasting bar at Joey’s Wine Room downtown. From the aroma wafting out of the glass to the last sip this white is a perfect example of why I love my job. Its a blend of tropical fruit with real depth and the signature of an excellent winemaker. While its refreshing it’s also very full bodied so a good match with strong cheeses.

Price: $17.00
Available: Swirl Wine Store in Yaletown and White Rock
Price: $20.00
Available: Village VQA Wines in Kitsalano and Dunbar”

 

Click here for the full article.

 

Thanks to Darryl Lamb of Legacy Liquor Store for featuring our Syrah Cuveè Violette on Global BC’s Saturday Sips – Fall Reds. Watch the video to see all the red wines featured and to get inspiration with what dishes would pair well. Watch the video.

 

For more information on the 2012 Syrah Cuveè Violette, click here.

Written by Wade Martin, our Tasting Room and Wine Club Concierge.

Selecting a white wine to accompany Thanksgiving can be a daunting task.  This meal presents a diverse array of flavours and textures, adept at highlighting how incompatible many a “go-to white” can be with certain elements.

Roast-Turkey-with-Turkey-Gravy

A traditionally prepared roast Turkey mates smoke and crispy seasoned-skin to a relatively subtle (flavour-wise) dense white meat, that can quickly baffle many of the usual suspects. You’ll find no shortcut selecting Ham as the center-piece. It comes with considerable challenges in both weight and sweetness depending on accompaniments and preparation. This is prior to addressing the myriad of elements that adorn side plates and bowls. Would anyone care for some pickle’s, olives or cured trout? How about sweet potatoes or butter- poached asparagus?

Le Vieux Pin_ Ava 2011As if the above challenges are not enough, consider the personalities and palates in attendance and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Le Vieux Pin’s white tribute to the Rhone Valley ‘Ava’ is multi-faceted to rise to the challenge.  A lifted nose of Apricots and subtle tropical warmth, combined with citrus and a welcome hint of spice. A nose which lends itself kindly to offsetting smoke laced turkey skin or complimenting your grandmother’s traditional pineapple glazed ham.

hamAva combines a full and elegant palate, partnering soft texture and bright acidity. These traits nurtured and accentuated by the subtle application of oak and battonage. Wine pairing tools more than necessary when attempting the often disastrous task of Thanksgiving dinner and specific dishes unique to your own annual celebration.

These are just some of the reasons this elegant, crowd pleasing, South Okanagan white has become an annual must pour.

By Rasoul Salehi, Director of Sales and Marketing and Managing partner at Le Vieux Pin :

 

I am being asked this question a lot lately: New Zealand is defined by Sauvignon Blanc; Napa Valley is known for Cabernet Sauvignon; Oregon for Pinot Noir; Australia for Shiraz; so what should the Okanagan be known for?

My colleagues are also being asked the same question, in fact, the BC Wine Institute recently held a seminar led by industry experts and BC wine lovers to learn more about this subject (http://www.alumni.ubc.ca/podcasts/the-grape-debate/).

Please note, when the question is asked: “what grape variety should the South Okanagan focus on?” We mean what grape variety yields the most complex, unique wines that capture “a sense of time and place”. We are talking about premium wines rather than casual quaffers. We are not looking at this question from a purely economic standpoint, or what is easiest and the least expensive grape to grow. But rather, which grape variety manages to capture the nuances of each sub appellation as well as the unique growing conditions of each vintage.  So this question could be changed to: “what grape variety makes wines that capture the spirit and unique conditions (terroir) of the South Okanagan?”

So let’s discuss this more. First, we CANNOT and SHOULD NOT look at the Okanagan Valley as one entity. The South Okanagan (Oliver and Osoyoos) perhaps along with neighbouring Similkameen Valley should be looked at as a separate growing area. While, All of Okanagan valley is north of the 49th parallel (classic cool climate), the South Okanagan enjoys a very unique and precious micro climate: extreme continental desert climate. It is located on the northern most tip of the Sonoran desert, and has more sunshine hours than Napa Valley, during the growing season. And of course, a noticeable temperature drop at night-time thanks to the desert climate . This big shift in diurnal temperature brings with it unique characteristics in the wines which we will get to shortly.

Furthermore, like Burgundy, the Northern Rhone valley and a handful of other regions, the South Okanagan enjoys a drastic variation between growing seasons, where the word “vintage” really comes into play. Unlike Barossa Valley, California’s Central Valley, etc. where each year the growing conditions and weather are fairly consistent; in the south Okanagan we get very different growing seasons year to year. In 2009, harvest started late August and ended October 9th with a cold snap of -10 degrees Celsius. In 2008 and 2010, harvest didn’t start until mid September and we were harvesting in shorts and t-shirts until the last week of October. Average day time and night time temperatures too tend to be quite different from one year to the next.

Because of the long days and all the heat units in the South Okanagan, red varieties do best (aside from late ripening white varieties like Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne or those that can be picked at various ripening stages like Riesling or Chenin Blanc). Perhaps we should leave the question of which white variety would do best for a different time, since most of the South Okanagan is planted to red varieties and the whites for the most part have been used to make entry level or mid tier wines, as opposed to flagships. So, what red variety is the king? If you ask any grower to single out a variety, the answer will be Merlot, Cabernet Franc or Syrah. The number of acres planted to these varieties certainly supports this claim, as well as many articles, awards, Sommelier and critic’s support and rave reviews that urge growers and consumers alike to focus on these three red varieties.

And while this is true, we still find that Syrah is the only grape of the three, that fully captures the nuances of the growing season; the specific features of the vineyard site: top soil, sub soil, elevation, exposure, etc. and translates it into the finished wine.

Let’s look at Merlot which grows well on the valley floor and on either bench (with various exposures and elevations) in the South Okanagan. It is hard to taste this variety blind and zoom in on the sub region or vintage it stems. Cabernet Franc, not fully, but to some extent follows the same pattern. Why is that? While I don’t have an exact answer, it is common belief that best wines that capture the interest and intellect of wine connoisseurs stem from regions that are on the vey edge of being able to ripen that given variety. In other words, Merlot and cab franc ripen rather easily in South Okanagan but that cannot be said about Syrah. 2011 is a perfect example of the lowest growing degree days and where Syrah regardless of how low the yielsd were and manicured the vines were, resulted in alcohol range of 12.6-13.2% alc./vol. Merlot on the other hand had no problem as it always does to reach 14.5+% alc./vo. The resulting Syrah from 2011 yell cool climate, cool year where as that cannot be said about the merlot. At best we can say the Merlot were a touch more finessed.

Syrah turns into a different beast depending on the vineyard site and growing season. We are fortunate to have worked with a total of 9 different vineyards of Syrah since 2008 and have tasted the variations. No other variety shows as much variation in aromatics, texture, acid, tannins and flavours as Syrah in South Okanagan. Syrah can show itself as a low alcohol; red fruit scented; floral; mildly herbal wine to a wine that has sauvage; rich; round; dark fruit; black pepper and black olive characters. It is much like Syrah in the Northern Rhone, where in Hermitage vs. Cote Rotie vs. Cornas or Saint Joseph, the results are so varied and unique that it confirms a great wine is not just about the grape variety, but the connection to the vineyard site and all the variable and fixed conditions that site enjoys (terroir and climate).

So why aren’t more people working with Syrah? Short answer: Economics, practicality and the know how.

Merlot makes a stand up wine and something nice and pleasurable, more or less regardless of yields, vineyard site and practices. And as I mentioned, some sites are naturally better than others but even the bottom of the valley floor with high yielding vineyards make more than just quaffable Merlot.

This cannot be said about Syrah, it is very picky and will make boring wines without much character, body or interest, when yields are high and sites are inferior. It is prone to winter damage (in cold winters like we saw in 2008 and 2009). It is a variety that is vegetatively active, and not economically feasible for wineries that are focused on making simple, entry level wines from vineyards that grow large crops. It requires a good budget to employ ample labour to manicure and tend to the vines (suckering, shoot thinning, hedging, green harvest, leaf thinning, etc). Overall, Syrah is much more sensitive to how it is handled in our region.

So, we have learned from mother nature over the years that Syrah makes the most intellectual, complex and “true” wines in South Okanagan, even though many growers will still not touch it with a ten-foot pole. But don’t be surprised down the road, if you see other varieties pulled out of the ground and replanted with Syrah.

Disclaimer: The thoughts expressed in this article are those of Rasoul’s and not necessarily that of the winery.

A great article recently written by wine lover Kurtis Kolt for My Wine Canada. It gives a clear picture of what the region expresses through the soil and more information about the DVA’s (sub-regions) that have been suggested. Have a read…

Kurtis Kolt for My Wine Canada:

It’s a mere 150 kilometre stretch of land, but British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley has a breadth that covers many micro-climates along with an assortment of topographical features that has become the province’s biggest and most popular Designated Viticultural Area, or DVA. Those not from around here could be excused for thinking that a wine’s provenance within the Valley is negligible, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Created thousands of years ago by glaciers moving south, leaving behind our current lakes, rivers and a slew of glacial deposit that now makes our soils mineral-rich, when it comes to temperature, the Valley follows suit as the majority of the northern hemisphere in getting increasingly hotter the further south you go. We have begun the work in officially establishing sub-regions (or sub-DVA’s, as they’ll be known), but there’s a lot of dialogue and further research to be done before that becomes reality. This is not to say that we don’t unofficially recognise the Okanagan’s sub regions, because you may notice on a wine bottle’s back label or other related materials that we already do. Here are the five main sub-regions going from north to south, cooler to hotter, to help you navigate your wine shopping.

Kelowna/Lake Country

Nestled right on the shores of Okanagan Lake, providing a good diurnal temperature range which brings great acidity. Some of the Valley’s oldest vines are planted here, particularly aromatic whites and a little Pinot Noir as well, all of which work well in the mineral-laden soils. Think Tantalus Vineyards or Summerhill Pyramid Winery.

Naramata/Penticton

This area is highlighted by two major grape-growing areas, Summerland (on the west side of Okanagan Lake) starts cooling down mid-afternoons which does its aromatic whites well (HaywireTH Wines), while Naramata (on the east side of the lake) bakes well into early evening, allowing a ripe purity of fruit from the likes of Elephant Island and many of JoieFarm’s wines.

Okanagan Falls

This is prime Pinot Noir and Chardonnay country, which makes sense figuring climactically it’s somewhere in between France’s Burgundy region and Australia’s Yarra Valley. Meyer Family Vineyards excels at both varieties.

Golden Mile

We’re getting good and hot here, with plenty of natural sagebrush growing sporadically which’ll pop up now and again as the terroir’s influence. Much of the Okanagan’s big, bold reds come from here from the likes of Road 13 Vineyards and Le Vieux Pin.

Black Sage/Osoyoos

The hottest of ‘em all. In fact, this is Canada’s only desert; we’re talking rattlesnakes and everything. Even the most rugged red grapes get good and ripe here, so much so that wineries like Moon Curser Vineyards are giving red grapes that thrive in hotter countries such as Tannat and Carmenere  a whirl, and enjoying a fair amount of success.”

Click here for the full article and map.

Thank you to Jamie Goode for recently enjoying our Tramonto Syrah and sharing it through his wine blog . Sign up to follow his reviews and posts!

Le Vieux Pin Tramonto Syrah 2010 Okanagan Valley, Canada
A private label from the Okanagan, just 49 cases made. Vivid black cherry and plum fruit with pepper, spice, cloves and olives. Fresh and pure with real intensity, very much in a northern Rhône style. 92/100

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A great little article by Ben Macphee-Sigurdson of My Wine Canada on how Rosé is so misunderstood yet enjoyed by many. Here’s an excerpt from his blog:

 

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“Is there any one type of wine that continues to be as misunderstood as rosé? Over the summer months, it’s the wine so many in the trade — writers, sommeliers, sales folk and the like — drink in large (but responsible) quantities, yet it makes up just a sliver of total overall wine sales.

People unfairly paint rosé with one (pink) brush: it’s simple, it’s sweet, it’s plonk. That mentality, the result of White Zinfandel’s wince-worthy popularity, discounts the many subtle differences from one rosé to another — especially those from Canada.

First of all, most Canadian rosés are dry, and typically use grapes that are best-suited to their climate — not Zinfandel, in other words. Canadian producers often work with grapes such as Pinot Noir, Gamay or Cabernet Franc — cooler-climate red grapes that can produce pink wine with great character.

 

Using Pinot Noir tends to result in lighter, more delicate pink wines such as the Le Vieux Pin 2013 Vaila Rosé. Reminiscent of a Côtes de Provence rosé, it’s very light in colour and subtle, with gorgeous raspberry and rhubarb notes and nary a hint of sweetness.”

 

To read this article in full, click here and be sure to check out other articles on his blog.

 

Wine on tap. It’s an interesting discussion, a great idea to many (if done properly, it has the potential to be the closest thing to an actual barrel sample done at the winery), but a double edged sword to some. And it was a recent coffee discussion that I became more aware of why. Here’s more of what I learned:
The pro’s
The promise of saving the environment; having less waste and carbon footprint; providing wine consumers with fresh unfined, unfiltered and minimal preservatives (SO2), or nothing added to the wine.
The con’s
It has become a “chase to the bottom” (low prices and lower quality). For many producers, this is an avenue in which to use and share their bulk wine of lesser quality.
When wine on tap first appeared in the market, it did have a stigma surrounding it: simple, quaffable fermented grape juice. And it’s been the job of the industry (from restauranteurs to suppliers), to teach the consumer to forget about this stigma and expect “real wine” of top quality.
This is why it’s important for winemakers to put their best wines into the market via kegs. It leaves a lasting impression on the whole industry.
Today it’s somewhat of a novelty and it’s got “cool factor” written all over it. More people are trying wine because of this, and taking a holiday from their usual spirits or beers.  And hopefully, more people are becoming curious to explore and learn about the range of wines out there!
So when you see for example, Petit Le Vieux Pin Sigma Rouge costing more on a menu, it’s for a good reason. They had a different vision when this novelty began, they wanted to put a strong quality price ratio wine out there and one that is as close to an actual barrel sample at the winery. And that was possible by using nitrogen/co2 to top off the kegs, which keeps the wine fresh and in original shape for a much longer time than other methods.
I encourage everyone to enjoy a glass of the trending wine on tap (I know that I do), but do know that not all wines in kegs are created in the same quality. Should price be your guide? Possibly. But it’s your palate, experience and knowledge of wine and the industry that can guide you through the menu. And hopefully, by way of this article, you will be more informed about what Le Vieux Pin creates and releases in keg for wine on tap.
written by Donita Dyer

We were envious to read about the delicious dishes created for Visa Infinite Dinner card holders at the Blackbird Public House in downtown Vancouver recently. Here is the dish created by Chef Alvin Pillay that was paired with Executive Bartender Jay Jones creation:

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1st Course (above): Asparagus and Black Truffle, with slow cooked egg, brioche, fleur de sel (Alvin Pillay)
Accompaniment (Jay Jones): “Farmer’s Market”: Long Table Distillery cucumber gin (below left), Le Vieux Pin Sauvignon Blanc, local honey, Bittered Sling Cascade Celery bitters, Phillips ‘Sparkmouth’ Ginger Soda, grapefruit and cucumber.

It’s great to see modern cocktail creations including wine, especially one of ours.

 

Thanks Jay Jones and Dennis & May!

Read the full blog article here, written by Dennis & May Pang on their site Pangcouver.

Recently, we (Le Vieux Pin and LaStella) helped kick off a rally at Spirit Ridge in Osoyoos about ‘Area27’ , a proposed racetrack initiative between the South Okanagan Motorsports Corporation and the Osoyoos Indian Band. The track is slated to be built close to Le Vieux Pin Winery just outside of Oliver on O.I.B land.
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Many of the people involved were part of the Spenard-Davis formula car school based out of Shannonville, Ontario. Which coincidentally produced some of the most famous drivers to come out of Canada in the 80s/90s. Jacques Villeneuve (ex F1 champion 1997, Indy500 champion in 1995) has designed the proposed track and Richard Spenard who coached many notable Canadian drivers will be the lead instructor at ‘Area27’.

 

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The rally brought together a selection of exotic vehicles and more importantly, a group of like-minded motorsports enthusiasts seeking a modern road course in Western Canada. And the construction of ‘Area27’ is certain to bring a tourism boost to the South Okanagan. There is no better climate in the country to enjoy these exotic vehicles on an International-caliber track, plus Mr. Spenard’s instruction, means these magnificent machines will finally fulfill their true purpose.

As you can tell some of us are pretty passionate about motor-sports and seeing this racetrack finally come to fruition! To learn more, here is their recent press release: http://www.area27.ca/news/post/area-27-rally-gratitude-thanks

Read the back story, but the olive oil we carry from Le Cooperative de Clermont L’Herault is a field blend, and is an AOC.  It will have the AOC varieties in the blend… from memory that will be a mixture of aglandau, picholine, lucques, verdale and possibly negrette.

In the massive freeze of ’56, many or most olive trees and vines in Italy,France and northern Spain were frozen and killed.  The French replanted their southern holdings with vines, the Spanish with olives and the Iltalians split it down the middle.

Spain has the highest production of olives, and Italy has the quality reputation… and generally, people do not know that France produces oil… because like this valley, the production is very small, highly artisanal (even more so than Italy) and consumed locally.  We have this product because Sev and I were cooperateurs and the Mill has a French/Canada trade program… if you could call it that.  We are perhaps the only country, where this oil is sold.

Compared to Spanish and Italian operations, French production is like pruning banzai.  The Spanish prune with chain saws, and an average tree takes 6 minutes.  The average prune time in France is 60 minutes.  And pruning is done with hand shears and hand saws for the bigger branches.

The Spanish will prune once every two years, which will give you a big and little crop every other year… and varying quality.

The French prune a little every year, and try to maintain a consistent yield from one year to the next.

Le Moulin de L’Herault has a “Fruity, Green” objective, and though the production of oil is reduced when olives are picked slightly younger (still black, but not desiccated) in December, the quality of the oil is greatly increased.  This oil has notes of grass and nuts and is slightly subtler than the Intensivo (which is also an excellent oil).

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This oil is extra virgin, which means that not only is it a product of the first cold press, but that it is (like grapes) pressed as soon as possible after harvesting, in order to keep oxidation at a minimum.  It is the level of acidity and not the press that determines whether an oil is Extra Virgin or not.  That’s why you can never have a hot press Extra Virgin, but you can have a First Cold press that isn’t extra virgin. Olive oil should be kept in the dark, and should never have head space, both of these conditions will detriment its acidity (thus its Extra Virginity).

Severine and I farmed a plot that went into this very “cuvee” for seven years.  Owned for generations by the same family… the trees, had frozen in 56, but they trained the existing grove out of the shoots that sprang from the roots.

In front of the grove was also an Old Pine tree (no word of a lie) on the Roman Road that followed the southern border of the acreage (you could see deep cart tracks carved into the limestone from centuries of travel).  The old man who sold me the parcel made me promise not to cut the old pine, which was famous in the village, and also made me promise not to rip the olive trees out to sell as decorative landscape pieces.

The value of each of the trees as a decorative piece was 100 euro to a Landscape Nursery- we had 200 on the land.

I sold the place to the next owner and made him promise me he wouldn’t rip them out- but I don’t know if his word was as good as mine… and I could not  bear the thought of visiting it and seeing the trees gone.

The production of this oil is the result of many villagers who meticoulously tend their trees, from as many as one tree owner to 1000 owners, contribute.  Most people harvest their grand old trees and take their 7 or 15 litres for themselves.  Oxidised or damaged olives are not taken, and picking windows are set and kept.  You can not slip your old olives in under the wire.

~Severine & Mike

Exciting first steps taken by the wineries along the Golden Mile, read more in the May 22 article from Okanagan Life Magazine:

“Unique Terroir of the Okanagan’s Golden Mile Produces Distinctive Wines

Golden Mile Bench one step closer to become Okanagan Valley’s First Sub-Appellation

Wineries located on the Golden Mile Bench wine growing area near Oliver in British Columbia have submitted a proposal to become the first official sub-DVA “Designated Viticultural Area” of the Okanagan Valley DVA.

An in-depth scientific analysis by scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre – Summerland (AAFC-PARC Summerland) has shown the area has a combination of landform, landscape position, mesoclimate, air drainage and soil materials that make it distinct within the Okanagan Valley, contributing to the production of unique wines.

A group of producers in the area have been exploring the concept of proposing a Golden Mile Bench DVA since 2009. After much discussion, debate and an in-depth study of the region’s terroir by Scott Smith, M.Sc. Soil Scientist with AAFC-PARC Summerland in conjunction with Dr. Pat Bowen, Ph.D. Research Scientist, Viticulture and Plant Physiology also at AAFC-PARC Summerland, the final boundaries were decided. Wine consultant, Rhys Pender MW of Wine Plus+ helped to compile the proposal.

With the Okanagan Valley DVA comprising around four-fifths of all British Columbia’s vineyard area, yet producing wines from many different mesoclimates and terroirs, it is a widely held belief that there is a need to break this large, single appellation into meaningful, scientifically unique sub-DVAs that produce distinctive wines. Golden Mile Bench is the first such application to the BC Wine Authority.

The proposal was submitted to the BC Wine Authority on May 20.  The  Authority will conduct consultations within the region and a vote by ballot amongst the relevant stakeholders within the proposed region’s boundaries. Once the due diligence has been completed the BC Wine Authority will submit the proposal to the Minister for approval.

Any enquiries about the status of the proposal should be directed to the BC Wine Authority at www.bcvqa.ca

Wineries of the Golden Mile include: CC Jentsch Cellars, CheckMate Artisanal Winery, Culmina Family Estate Winery, Fairview Cellars, Gehringer Brothers,  Hester Creek,  Inniskillin Okanagan, Golden Mile Cellars Inc. (Road 13), Rustico Farm and Cellars Ltd.,  Tinhorn Creek Vineyards”

Le Vieux Pin gets lots of love in England. Below, are pictures and text sent to us by our awesome and passionate importer/retailer in London, England: Negozio Classica.

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Derek Morrison(Manager): “With every wine that we put on the shelves we look to find examples which uniquely reflect the variety and place from which they’re grown. We look for hand crafted wines with personality, that challenge our senses and preconceptions of what a wine is. I know first hand that wines from the Okanagan Valley are capable of captivating us in this way. I remember someone musing to me that “A great wine is one which awakens emotion”.
I spend a lot of time in tastings dissecting wines logically and technically, but occasionally wines leave me at a loss for words. The wines at Le Vieux Pin and LaStella continuously affect me in this way. My greatest motivation in bringing LVP wines here to London was simply to share that experience with my guests. I love blind tasting people on the Syrah and having them guess its origin. It’s my favourite way to shatter their preconception of Canadian wine. It’s become a popular wine in the shop, and we regularly feature it by the glass. It’s not just here to illustrate the quality of Canadian wine, it sits on our shelves as one of many great wines. It just happens to be from Canada.”

It is feedback like this that fuels our passion, and makes all the back-breaking hard work worth while. We Thank Derek, Alessio and the rest of the team at Negozio Classica for their humbling words.

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As Easter approaches, it’s time to make note of all the ingredients needed, find a wine to match, and begin planning your brunch or dinner right down to the minute for Sunday or Monday.

Here’s a little inspiration from our winemaker Severine, and what she’ll be enjoying this weekend with her family!

Lamb Stew with Flageolets and Herbs (pair this dish with our 2011 Syrah)

Courtesty of FineCooking.com 

lamb stew

“The Latest Syrahs and Aromatic Whites from Le Vieux Pin

I love Syrahs.  They stand on their own two feet.  No need for blending with other grapes.  I enjoy their ruby colour in the glass; their aromas, especially blueberries; their full body, red/black berry flavours and sometimes white pepper that plays on your palate.  BC can make some very good Syrahs.  Located in the South Okanagan, one of the wineries which I think fit in that category is Le Vieux Pin.  They take their inspiration from the French wine tradition, the Rhone Valley in particular, producing Syrahs and some aromatic whites using Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier grapes.  I was privileged to receive the latest Syrah and aromatic white releases from Le Vieux Pin to taste and tell you about.

I received two Syrahs from the 2011 vintage.  2011 was overall cool growing season that did warm up towards harvest.  The grapes did achieve full phenolic ripeness but had low sugar levels.  I have tried some other 2011 wines from other BC wineries and even though it was a cool season, the wines were very balanced and had good fruit flavour. I also received two bottles of white wines from the 2012 vintage.  Both wines are blends of various aromatic white varieties.

My Wine Notes

  • Le Vieux Pin Petit Sigma Blanc 2012 – ($17) – Why Petit?  Petit wines from France are the second labels of famous wineries.  In some vintages a winery may determine that some grapes did not reach the quality needed for their top tier wine, so the grapes go into their second tier wine.  An example of this second tier is Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux.  This Petit wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Viognier, Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Erhenfelser.  The wine had waxy, lemony, and grapefruit aromas with a hint of flowers.  It was dry with medium plus acidity and some viscosity in the mouth.  I picked up some light tropical fruit that was underlain with full citrus flavours, particularly lemon, but also a hint of lime.  There was also some pear and apple in the background.  Steely on the palate.  Peppery and mouth watering on the finish with some grapefruit rind flavour.  A good wine for your summer, in a screw cap, so meant to be enjoyed now.Le Vieux Pin Petit Sigma Blanc 2012

    Le Vieux Pin Petit Sigma Blanc 2012

  • Le Vieux PIn Ava 2012 ($35) – Is a blend composed of 61% Viognier, 21% Roussanne and 18% Marsanne.  This is a very interesting wine that changed a lot while I sipped and savoured it over about a half hour.  It started out with light baby powder, sweet spice, peach and apricot aromas.  Medium plus body with round mouth feel and weight.  Fairly intense fruit flavours, which showed up in layers on my palate, starting with apricot, and progressing through tropical fruit, citrus, red delicious apple, and peaches on the finish.  All the flavours were light and balanced.  There was also some vanilla but supported rather than overpowered the wine. I also picked up a bit of pepper on the tongue.  Medium plus length.  With half an hour of the wine breathing in my glass, I started to pick up on herbaceousness, honey, flowers, and oranges on the palate.  So savour this wine and enjoy all that it offers.  This is an excellent white wine that you can drink now or hold for a year.Le Vieux Pin Ava 2012

    Le Vieux Pin Ava 2012

  • Le Vieux Pin Syrah 2011 ($45) – This wine was deep ruby, almost opaque from the core to the rim.  Pretty nose with baby powder, ripe purple fruit, black berries, black currants, and black cherries, and some sweet spice in the background.  With some time in the glass, I also picked up red cherries and perfume.  Dry on the palate, medium body with softer tannins.  The first thing I picked up before the fruit flavours was the minerality in this wine, which I quite liked.  All the fruit flavours of raspberries, red/black cherries, plums, strawberries and blackberries were balanced and none overpowered the others.  As on the nose, with some times in the glass, some violet and rose perfume showed up on the palate.  The wine finished with minerality and mouth watering acidity. A very good wine, which again can be enjoyed now, or put away for 1-2 years.  A very balanced wine.Le Vieux Pin Syrah 2011

    Le Vieux Pin Syrah 2011

  • Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Syrah 2011 (~$80) – Equinoxe Syrah is the top wine for Le Vieux Pin with a limited production of 268 cases.  As is sometimes done in the Rhone Valley, this Syrah was co-fermented with 1% Viognier, which helps produce a deeper colour to the wine as well as offer a floral component in some cases. This was was aged in French oak barriques for 18 months, with 36% being new barrels. This was also also deep ruby in colour, almost opaque from core to the rim.  The baby powder aroma in this wine was more intense than in the regular Syrah.  It was followed by raspberry, plum and blueberry aromas.  Later on there was black cherries and black currants, followed by smokiness and dark chocolate.  On my second day of tasting, the smokiness was more prominent and the baby powder aroma was subdued.  Dry with medium tannins and acidity, but medium plus body and flavour intensity.  Dry with some roundness on the tongue.  The fruit flavour intensity builds to the finish.  The fruit flavours again came in one after the other starting with raspberries, then black cherries and blueberries. In addition I picked up some oak, red currant and sweet spice. Up front with the fruit was nice saline minerality.  On Day 2 of my tasting, smokiness showed up together with the raspberries on the palate.  Medium plus finish with plums, berries, sweet spice and oak flavours, and tannins running down the centre of your tongue.  An outstanding wine that I would leave to age for 1-4 years.  Day 3 update – Violets on the palate are quite prominent. It is so interesting to taste a wine as it changes over time!”Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Syrah 2011

    Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Syrah 2011

My Previous Year’s Reviews

In case you wanted to read about the previous vintage and my tasting notes, I have provided this link:

Where to Buy?

These wines can be purchased through the Le Vieux Pin website, and through some private wine shops in BC.  A few of these shops include:

~Karl from My Wine Pal, April 12th, 2014

Wineshout is talking about us again, if you have not tried our delicious Ava yet, then here is a review to peek your interest and give it a try!

Le Vieux Pin_ Ava 2011

“Le Vieux Pin’s 2012 Ava is a blend of 61% Viognier, 21% Roussanne and 18% Marsanne, which means there’s more Roussanne and Marsanne than before.

The winery characterized the growing season as follows:

After three atypical vintages in a row, 2012 is a return to a more typical growing season in the South Okanagan Valley. After an initial scare of unusually high record rainfall in late spring the remainder of the growing season was an absolute dream come true. Mid July till late fall gave us very hot days combined with typical cold desert nights. Growing degree days for the South Okanagan were above average and certainly much higher than 2010 and 2011.

The 2012 vintage is a graceful wine that is still on the younger side and benefits from decanting and the right temperature to really enjoy the perfume-like aromas and richness on the palate.

On the nose, there is honeysuckle, which is becoming the trademark of Ava even from cooler vintages, white pepper, beeswax, and a perfume of white flowers.

The mouthfeel is rich and elegant, and the fruit and acids find a balance. On the palate, crisp and vibrant lemon and Golden Delicious apples lead, with a tremendously long finish with softer notes of apricots, apple and spice.

With a delightfully old-world touch, Le Vieux Pin’s French vigneron Severine Pinte has shepherded from vine to bottle what is most certainly a food lover’s wine. We paired Ava with a tuna tataki and avocado salad that worked really well. Plays very well with roast fowl as well. Ready to drink now (best decanted) but also a welcome addition to your cellar.

Now, here’s a look back at my notes from the two previous vintages:

Le Vieux Pin 2010 Ava (Viognier/Roussanne/Marsanne) – Honeysuckle, tropical fruit, a touch of lemongrass. Balanced, the acidity is spot on to balance out the fruit. A more subtle, shier cousin to the ’11 Ava, it’s got the same genes but not as much coaxed out of it than it’s younger cousin. Only 250+ cases were produced and it’s now sold out, so turn to the ’11 to get your fix.

Le Vieux Pin 2011 Ava – A gorgeous nose of sweet honeysuckle. On the palate, there’s honey-dipped stone fruit. Gentle acidity. The finish is long and brings back hints of the sweetness from the nose. The ’11 Ava takes over where the ’10 left off, and raises Ava’s game to a whole new level while maintaining a backbone of continuity of style. There’s an air of classical refinement to the ’11 Ava that conjures up an Marie Antoinette’s fairy tale France unburdened by reality.”

Wineshout | April 7, 2014

This review by Timo from Wineshout is just in time, as we just released our 2011 Syrah to the public just over a week ago! It’s well written and a perfect review (of course, we are not bias at all ;). So, pour yourself a glass of Syrah and brush up on your wine reading…here’s a copy of what they said – enjoy!

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“The 2011 Syrah from Le Vieux Pin in the Okanagan Valley is a northern Rhone style wine from 100% Syrah grapes. The fruit comes from four vineyards in the south Okanagan from vines that are 6 to 11 years old. The total productions is limited to a mere 374 cases and a smaller allotment of 60 cases of half-bottle.

The last Le Vieux Pin Syrah I tasted was the inaugural release, the mighty and meaty 2008 vintage, which was blended with a smidgeon of Viognier and impressed me greatly.

As for the 2011 vintage, according to the winery:

2011 was a long and cool growing season without the extreme daytime heat the South Okanagan is known for. This resulted in grapes that achieved full phenolic ripeness at record low sugar levels (and thus low alcohol levels). South Okanagan had an amazing fall with mild weather which gave us the luxury of a seven week long picking window. 2011 goes into the history book as an atypical, yet very welcome vintage.

On the bottle, Le Vieux Pin have maintained their trademark old-school, info-packed labeling, of which I’m a major fan. It harkens back to an earlier time when wine labels were hand-written to display only the essential info. Some say the label shouldn’t have an effect, but for me it’s part of the whole experience, and I’m sure in a way, affects my reaction to, or preconception of, what I’ll experience in the bottle.

The 2011 Syrah is so very young and even a couple hours in the decanter did little to put a dent in it’s youthful reluctance borne from the cooler than usual growing season. Because of this, it’s not as forward and bold as the ’08 vintage, though it’s easy to see the potential of what it’ll be about 2-4 years down the line.

The nose is subtle, with black pepper, black berries, and a touch of black – yes, black again – liquorice, with a very subtle floral component. The forest berries continue through to the palate with an intriguing complexity, creating a refined balance with the French oak. There’s spice and pepper on the finish. The tannins provide for a firm backbone.

The wine has great structure, making the 2011 vintage a keeper, and one for the cellar. It’ll be worth the wait.”  Wineshout www.wineshout.com

Le Vieux Pin Winery is proud to sponsor Classe Speciale riders of the 2014 Prospera Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan on Sunday July 13, 2014 in Penticton, BC. One of the biggest bike races in North America!                                                                                                                           

Classe Speciale riders receive a special edition bottle of our Le Cycliste Blanc wine (a limited release), as well as a 2014 Prospera Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan wine glass. We wish all the riders a fantastic race!

 

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 http://www.granfondoaxelmerckx.com/newsletter/mar2014/

Below is Rasoul’s notes on the subject of Minerality in wine that was shared as a speech he gave at the vancouver chapter of Confrerie.

Pour yourself a glass of Vaila Rose, sit on your favorite club chair, kick back and read away.

 

Minerality, eh? The “M” word… no, not the “N” word as in Michael Richard’s infamous stand up comedy rant that ended his career.

Anyway, You guys sure you want to open this can of worms?

Subject of minerality is not around one big question but at least 2:
1) What is minerality? How can it be defined?

2) Where does it come from? What is its cause or source?

I am pleased and honored to give you a definitive answer to both questions today and a Short answer too. Jury is out both in and outside of the wine world.

Outside the world of wine (yes, there is a world existing without everyday life entirely revolving around it and I have news for you, most people live there, not where we are, here. They think we are weird.)

Even outside of the world of wine, agreeing on the definition of mineral is difficult. Often time metals or other elements are listed as minerals. Look at the cereal box in your home.

The best definition of mineral is; non-organic compounds with regular molecular structure. According to a fellow wine geek mineralogist-geochemist Mr Scott Ercit: of 4000+ known minerals, most of these compounds are non-volatile and unperceivable in the concentrations we are talking about. So what we perceive as mineral, is not actually the aroma or flavor of a mineral (http://www.wineberserkers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=90056&p=1285843). Hence, my own and a few other people’s choice to abandon using this term when describing a note or flavor, but instead use it only when describing a tactile quality.

In the wine world,
Some use it to describe an aroma on the nose (well that’s mostly suplhur and sulphides in my experience and even at times overt lees steering in the case of muscadet and many chard’s and at times autolysis or the aroma released by the yeast cells when they die under pressure, as in method champenois). While some others use it by calling it a flavor (like licking a rock, where research shows is the residue of dirt and the volatile compounds that one is tasting not the actual rock) and of course those like me who use the word only when they experience a certain tactile sensation, like rock powder. What many refer to as tension, that sense of dry extract. That buzz on the finish, that quality that I think most white burgundy fans seek out.

Where does it come from?
Easier to answer by saying where it does NOT come from:

It doesn’t come from the roots in way of slate compounds, ions finding their way thru the root, show in grape and then in finished wine. We even have the silly but famous Randall Graham experience of aging wine on rocks in the tank to gain minerality. For those of you living under a rock (pun intended) this resulted in no transferred mineral characteristics.  Furthermore, science and research and have proven that presence of minerals in soil doesn’t mean uptake. Vines are very selective in what they take. More often than not, this involves potassium and nitrogen.

Where else is minerality not stemming from? It’s often wrongly attributed to high acid, under-ripe fruit.  It’s not just classic Chablis that has this, ripe northern rhone syrah vintages, port, late harvest Rieslings, rich and round white burgundy vintages like 08 have all been known to display ample minerality.

It’s not what some might suggest as grape variety specific. Despite the many attempts of the German and Chablisienne wine industry. Roussanne shows it, Mosel Riesling shows it as well, typically California doesn’t, port has tons of it.

Its not salinity or salts either, b/c the higher the acid the lower the perception of tasting salts. And at least in my experience minerality is seen in wines that are high or higher in acid.

Possible sources:

Sulphur compounds:
“Vines on stony soils have to fight for survival and the grapes, just like the vines, accumulate few minerals, such as nitrogen. This can cause problems during fermentation, as yeasts require nitrogen to convert sugar into alcohol. If there is insufficient nitrogen in the grapes, yeasts will split sulphur-containing amino acids to access nitrogen. This can cause the formation of volatile sulphur compounds which can come across as “mineralic” in wine.” (http://masterofwinejourney.blogspot.ca/2011/12/so-theres-this-quarterly-magazine-for.html)

Some research by claude bourgonion and others seem to be in the direction that the result is a type of fungi living in live soil (non tilled) called Mycorrhizal.

In Sum:

(1) minerality does not mean that you are tasting minerals

(2) there’s no reason/evidence to think that “chalky” chablis tastes chalky because little calcium carbonate molecules or ions or whatever are floating around in it

(3) accordingly, your chablis doesn’t taste like chalk because it sits on jurassic limestone; at least, not in the direct way of popular conception

 

 

Some links and further readings:

http://www.enologyinternational.com/articles/Minerality_reprint.pdf

http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=columns_article&content=80430

http://www.wineanorak.com/blog/2007/05/more-on-terroir-and-minerality.html

http://www.winewisdom.com/articles/techie/olivier-humbrecht-on-minerality-–-part-one/

http://www.mirabeauwine.com/tim-hanni-mw-on-terroir-and-minerality-in-wine/

http://www.winebusiness.com/wbm/?go=getDigitalIssue&issueId=6032&dataId=113813&recentArticleRedirect=true

 

 

The 2013 Vintage was not without its successes and challenges, a departure from the amazing consistency of 2011 and 2012 wines across the valley and across all price points.

Achille and Ava (Severine's children) helping mom with harvest at Syrah block of Stagg's vineyard @ Le Vieux Pin

Achille and Ava (Severine’s children) helping mom with harvest at Syrah block of Stagg’s vineyard.

Volatile weather systems and hail storm challenged producers throughout the valley (latter mostly affecting our friends and colleagues in center and north of Okanagan). At Le Vieux Pin, a specific emphasis was placed on canopy management and lowering the yields to offset the above concerns.

An unusually warm late March carried into early April and by the 11th we had bud break. This important vintage marker was met three weeks in advance of our usual South Okanagan timeline. This significant checkpoint met at a time that would be typical in the Languedoc-Roussillon, without the moderating effect of the Mediterranean. This warmth continued steadily throughout the summer recording one of the hottest vintages experienced in over a decade (last was 1998 and then 2003). By summer’s end we were well ahead of schedule and certain vineyards were reaching phenolic maturity weeks in advance of prior growing seasons.

With seat-belts fastened and a sense of cautious optimism we prepared to harvest red and white grapes from several vineyards. After harvesting over one third of the crop, mid-September threw us an Okanagan curve ball and brought rain halting physiological maturity and raising fungal concerns. Fortunately soon the rain and angst dissipated giving way to a memorably dry and sunny October. This and being on very well drained soils, allowed us to finally take advantage of another unique season in Canada’s only pocket desert.

As a wine fan and consumer, it’s wise to exercise caution and purchase from producers willing to adapt to the specific challenges that 2013 brought. Wines made from fruit grown on valley floor and less than perfectly well drained soils ended up with considerable amounts of bunch rot and in best cases dilute and watered down flavours. Producer, producer, producer, site, site, site is the message in 2013.

Listen to our interview with Eric Anderson and Jay Selman from Grape Radio as we discuss details on the wines of Canada’s Okanagan Valley.


 

 

After our success across Europe this summer Le Vieux Pin is delighted to have extended our international reach with an equally successful campaign across Hong Kong. Throughout the fall the wines of Le Vieux Pin have been featured at some of the best addresses and events in town.

  • Le Vieux Pin has landed wines on the wine lists at the Prince Hotel and the Nikko Hotel in Kowloon. Both also featured the wines during the Canadian Wine and Food Festival.
  • Le Vieux Pin Petit Blanc was featured at a VIP lunch hosted by the Consul General for BC Cabinet Ministers. The menu was heavy with local BC ingredients including BC scallops, line-caught cod and Canadian honey.
  • Lastly the wines were featured at a BC Tourism Board event at the Four Season’s Hotel in Hong Kong.

We are delighted with our success in this emerging wine market and look forward to even greater success over the coming holiday season.

The Le Vieux Pin team enjoyed a special visit to Osnabruck, Germany to meet the team and see the 2009 Syrah on the wine list for themselves!

 

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