Vacqueyras at Wine Club

My gosh, happy new year! Motherhood has been challenging, in ways I didn’t expect. The #1 thing is time management. I learned that I can get a lot done in little blocks. There’s absolutely no more, I don’t feel like doing it now, so I’ll do it later when it comes to chores. The same goes for this blog, and my new website (which I’m hoping will be ready soon. I just got the first draft last week and I sent a lot of change requests back). So target launch date of mid-Jan has been pushed. It’s currently 8:15 am, Tuesday, Jan 16 and if I don’t write something now, I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to next.

Rhone valley

Sneaking in a review session on the Rhone while sweet baby sleeps.

This weekend will be a busy one. I have my wine club meeting on Saturday and then on Sunday, we have a family dinner with the in-laws. Hubby and I will be making the food and pairing them with wines! I’m excited for both. At wine club we’re focusing on the Rhone. The 3 course family dinner wine is a Christmas gift. I’m trying to give the gift of experiences rather than things and I’m so looking forward to helping them discover the joy of the right wine pairings with food.

I thought I’d focus on the Rhone on this update. As at every wine club meeting, everyone needs to share 3-4 facts about the bottle they’re bringing. Hubby will be joining us at this meeting, so I picked up two bottles. I haven’t decided which I will be presenting yet.

southern rhone

Just two if the wines we are tasting this weekend.

8:27 am – Baby just woke up!

Ok, it is now 10:50 am Sat, Jan 27 and baby is sleeping, and although there is laundry to do, I really need to get this blog post published. The food and wine pairing dinner hubby and I put together for the in-laws was a hit! More on that in a later post.

This past weekend was also wine club. I decided to present Vacqueyras. It was the first wine we tried and I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious it was. There was a dustiness to it that pulled me in. Some red fruit, earthiness, herbs and a hint of white pepper. It wasn’t in your face and that’s what I loved about it.

Before I share what I shared for my 3-4 points at wine club, I should briefly talk about the Rhone in general. The Rhone really is in two parts: Northern Rhone and Southern Rhone. In the north, reds are made of Syrah and some appellations allow for some Viognier or Masanne and Roussanne in there. The whites are Vigonier, Marsanne and Roussanne. In the south, it’s all about blending. In fact, where the north only has those 4 varieties, and only one or two of each is allowed in the wine, depending on the cru. According to Wine Folly, the south has 21 different varieties and the wine is all about complex blends (I couldn’t find reference to how many different varieties in the WSET 3 book). Anyway, the most popular blend is GSM: Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah.

The north in general commands higher prices as the area is much smaller and the quality is more consistent. The south on the other hand, prices will vary. However, with Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC, you’ll always pay a premium price because the quality is always there — it’s mmm mmm good! By the way, AOC stands for Appellation d’Origine Controlée .

Northern and Southern Rhone wines

Rhone wines we tasted at wine club

Here are the notes I shared on Vacqueyras.

Vacqueyras is a cru

It is the highest appellation in the Rhone. The appellations in order of entry level to the most strict:

1. Côtes du Rhône – technically, it could include wines from the North as well, but winemakers wouldn’t labels their wines as such since those don’t command as high a price.
2. Côtes du Rhône -Villages
3. Côtes du Rhône-Villages with village name indicated
4. Cru

Vacqueyras is the second Rhone village to be promoted to AOC status.

The first one was Gigondas. I haven’t tasted this, but it’s supposed to be more powerful and intense than a Vacqueyras and can age longer. Note though, I did read that Vacqueyras can age for up to 10 years. One article even said it is good for up to 20 years!

Vacqueyras must contain at least 50% Grenache, then Syrah, Mouvedre and some may also contain Cinsault.

Vacqueyras is called “the poor man’s Chateauneuf”

As noted above, Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a higher priced wine compared to its southern counterparts. Here in Canada, it starts at about $40. But if you’re looking for

112:28 am – baby crying.

Now it’s 12:27 pm and baby fell asleep again. Who knows how long she’ll sleep. Fortunately, I am almost done.

As I was saying, if you’re looking for something similar but not as pricey, try Vacqueyras. It lies just east of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Vacqueyras was a favourite, along with CDP at our meeting. For the price point, I think it’s a great value. I bought this bottle for $24.99 before tax at the government liquor store.

I have lots to share. I just need to find the time to write them all down. Some very exciting news I’d like to share with you in the next post. Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss it!

The Villages of Barolo and Barbaresco

Prior to buying Kerin O’Keefe’s book, Barolo and Barbaresco, The King and Queen of Italian Wine, I had no idea there are multiple villages that make up the Barolo and Barbaresco wine regions.

Barolo soil types

Soils found in different communes of Barolo wine region.

There are 11 villages in Barolo, and the first five listed below produce the majority of Barolo.

  1. Barolo
  2. Castiglione Falletto
  3. Monforte d’Alba
  4. Serralunga d’Alba
  5. La Morra
  6. Cherasco
  7. Verduno
  8. Roddi
  9. Grinzane Cavour
  10. Diano d’Alba
  11. Novello

There are 3 villages in Barbaresco:

  1. Barbaresco
  2. Neive
  3. Treiso

Although there are microclimates within the different zones in Barolo and Barbaresco, generally, when describing them, you’ll notice that words tend to be more masculine for the former and feminine for the latter. Hence, you’ll see them referred to as the King and Queen of Italian wines, respectively.

Barolo villages

Barolo has a longer growing season, while the climate is milder in Barbaresco. The soil in Barbaresco also has more nutrients. DOCG stipulates that Barolo must be aged for at least 38 months, of which at least 18 months must be in chestnut or oak barrels. Barbaresco must be aged for at least two years, and at least 9 months of that must be in wood.

Barbaresco communes

You’ll also see Riserva, which indicates a very good year. For a Riserva wine, Barolo producers must age the wine for five years prior to release, while it’s four years for Barbaresco Riservas.

My birthday is next week and I have a 2003 Barolo from Anselma Giacomo located in Serralunga d’Alba I’ve been waiting to enjoy! 2003 was a hot year, so I’m curious to taste it. So excited!

Piedmont, home of the King and Queen of Italian Wine

Every year, the Vancouver International Wine Festival has a focus country where in the tasting room, that country gets more booths, and therefore more wines poured from that region. The focus in 2016 was Italy. That was when hubby and I discovered Barolo and it was love at first sip.

Light in colour, like a Pinot Noir, but with the full body and punch of a bold Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz. Packed with tannins and flavour, it is a food wine and deliciously decadent.

We enjoy Barolo so much that later that year during the holidays, we planned a week long trip to Piedmont, Italy home of Barolo and Barbaresco, respectively the king and queen of Italian wine.

Where is Piedmont?

Located in Northwest Italy, Piedmont means “foot of the mountain.” You’ll also see it written the Italian way, Piemonte.

Barolo and Barbaresco are DOCGs in Piedmont, Italy and both wines are made with 100% Nebbiolo. More specifically, they are located in the Langhe region (Langa in Italian).

Where is the Langhe in Piedmont?

The Langhe is located in southern Piedmont. This gorgeous hilly area, along with Monferrato and Roero, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 2014.

View from Pelissero

View from Pelissero, in the village of Treiso in Barbaresco. 

Major cities in Piedmont include Turin, Asti, Bra, and Alba, just to name a few. Our home base this week was Alba, conveniently situated between Barolo and Barbaresco.

Langa, Piemonte

Map from the book Barolo and Barbaresco: The King and Queen of Italian Wine by Kerin O’Keefe.

Do they make anything else in Piedmont?

They sure do. There are no IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) wines in Piedmont, which allows grapes to be sourced from anywhere in Italy. There are 45 DOCs and 15 DOCGs, stricter and strictest, respectively, in terms of what is allowed in the wine and where the grapes are sourced.

What is grown in the Langhe? 

Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetta, Moscato Bianco are the most widely planted. Pelaverga, Nascetta, Freisa, and Favorita follow (I haven’t tried the first two). International varieties Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc are also grown here, albeit a small proportion; they fall under the Langhe DOC appellation.


The village of Barolo, as seen from Cascina Boschetti.

We were in Langa for a week and we barely scraped what is available there. Do I plan on returning? Absolutely. It was such a pleasant trip, having for the most part met the owners and winemakers, who each have fascinating and interesting stories of their own.

Visit next week as I cover the villages that make up the DOCGs of Barolo and Barbaresco. In the meantime, let me know what your thoughts are on the wines from this part of Italy. Are you a fan? What do you think of the price point Barolo and Nebbiolo demand? — This, also, to be covered in a future post!

A New Adventure

Hubby and I are having a baby!

new adventure starts

I’m now on maternity leave and into my second week. My baby is due November 10, so she will be here any day now. Hubby and I can’t wait to meet her. She’s our first child. She will be my parents’ second grandchild and hubby’s parents’ first. We are all super excited, to say the least.

While I await her arrival, I’ve been busy getting her essentials in order these past few weeks, and I’ve also re-lit the flame for this blog. I have many plans, and my creative juices are getting out of control. I want to get as much done as possible before motherhood catches up to me.

Here’s what I’m up to:

I’m in the process of converting this blog into a website, a more resource driven one. I’m looking at logos and in search of a designer for that, as well as a website. Once I get my logo, I think I’ll have a better idea of how I want my site to look. My target launch date is January 14, 2018.

I’m interviewing people in the wine industry, which serves my goal of providing a more resourceful site. I’ll be publishing the interviews in the resources section of the new site, so the first one will be up when it’s launched!

Publishing consistent content on a weekly basis. I have so many blog posts in my drafts folder that I started and haven’t finished.

Gigi Rosso's bottis

Large Slovenian oak barrels (aka bottis) at Gigi Rosso in Castiglione Falletto, in Piedmont’s Barolo region.

A preview of what’s coming up include posts on Barolo and Barbaresco, Argentina, Cowichan Valley, European sparklings, how to saber, Niagara wines, Champagne facts, and wine and pregnancy, just to name a few.

At the very least, on every wine day out there, I plan to do a live video on my Facebook page. I just did one on Champagne last week. Here’s a live one I did with Valerie of Demystified Vine at one of our wine club meetings this summer.

I want to improve my off-the-cuff speaking skills and I feel going live will help me improve. p.s. Give my page a Like please, if you haven’t yet — that way, you won’t miss out on my live videos 😉

Upload monthly YouTube videos. I started a channel this summer with the goal of improving my presentation and public speaking abilities. Unfortunately, video editing isn’t my strong suit, so even though monthly videos doesn’t seem like much, it’s realistic for me given this weakness and the fact that my baby girl is entitled to all of my time that she wants.

Pursuit of continued education (and happiness). One of the reasons I love wine is because there’s always more to learn, regardless of how much you know. You’re constantly being challenged, if you want to be. I’ve been revisiting my WSET 3 book and The World Atlas of Wine frequently. My love of Italian wine and my desire to learn as much as I can about their vino have prompted me to register for the Italian Wine Scholar course being offered in Vancouver in late February, early March via the Wine Scholar Guild. My baby will be about 4 months by that time. Hubby looks forward to spending the extra daddy and daughter time while I’m in class! Plus, I think he’s excited to learn what I learn, too since he’s a big Italian wine fan. Of course, I’ll be sharing my newly acquired knowledge of Italian wine here too, in my approachable wine talk manner, obviously.

Soon enough, I’ll be able to enjoy a glass of wine. I haven’t had a drink of wine the last 8.5 months! Spitting just ain’t the same, as I’m sure you would agree. Thanks for following along on my journey, whether it’s here on the blog or one of my social media channels (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). So excited about this new adventure!


My First Visit to the Fraser Valley Wine Region

I’ve lived in Vancouver, BC since 2008 and it wasn’t until this past week, mid July of 2017 that I visited the wine region in BC’s Fraser Valley. Where is the Fraser Valley?
It’s less than an hour drive from Vancouver!

Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley

Image source:

Why haven’t I gone wine tasting here? Well, you know. I just haven’t gotten around to it and plus, they haven’t really made a name for themselves yet. But when a friend from out of town was visiting and asked if I wanted to join her wine tasting I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to discover new wines AND hang out with her. I couldn’t say no.

Township 7, Langley, BC

Ready to taste wines at Township 7 in Langley!

We didn’t visit as many wineries as I’d like, just two in fact. But this recent visit has got me wanting to discover more.

I got picked up around 11 am and then we drove across town to pick up another friend. Around 1230/1ish, we were tasting wines at Township 7 in Langley – eight wines to be exact. I’m not sure what their regular tasting lineup is, or how many you usually get to taste. We made a trip here because two of us in the group is friends with the manager there… so I’m assuming we got VIP service.

Township 7 Langley tasting room

Now, what did we get to sample?

We tasted three whites, one rosé, and three reds. a Sauv Blanc, Viognier, Seven Blanc which is their white blend of Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris, an unoaked Chardonnay, Rosé made from primarily merlot, some pinot gris, and a little Malbec, a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and their 2014 Reserve 7 which is their red blend.

My favourites were the rose and the 2015 Cab Sauv. I ended up buying the rose. At $17.97 before tax, I thought it was fairly priced. There was lots on the nose, tons of red fruit like cranberry. There was some grapefruit and I detected saltiness, like sea water. On the palate, I tasted green apple, grapefruit and raspberry.

The Cab Sauv was $26.97 before tax. I think it was really good because 2015 was a fantastic year for wine in the Okanagan, and that’s where their grapes are from.

Township 7 has another location in the Naramata Bench, in the Okanagan where they grow most of their grapes.

Okanagan Valley Wine Region

Image from:

The one in Langley only grows Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for their sparkling wine. They’ve sold out of their sparkling, unfortunately so we didn’t get to taste any.

Our second and last visit of the day was to Chaberton, just 3 minutes from Township 7.
Chaberton is the largest winery in this neck of the woods, producing 55 to 60 thousand cases. They have a 55 acre vineyard, so a lot of their grapes are from the Fraser Valley, however, they also source from the Similkameen and south Okanagan.

Chaberton Estate Winery

You can enjoy that bottle you just purchased out in the large picnic area at Chaberton. There was also a picnic area at Township 7.

They have a list and you choose 4 you would like to taste. The tasting costs $5 and is waived if you buy a bottle of wine. The four wines I tried were:

1. Siegerrebe
2. 2016 Valley Pink
3. 2014 Merlot
4. 2008 AC 100

My favourite was the Siegerrebe, so I got a bottle. It’s med body with notes of tropical fruit on the nose, like lychee and banana. On the palate, white pepper, lemon, ripe peach and nectarine. Some good acidity and good finish.

Chaberton wine tasting


So, what do I think of the wines overall?

In general, I think they’re doing a good job with whites. Again, this is based on two visits, so you know what that means… I need to go back! More research needs to be done! Based on my few hours there, I’d say that if you’re a wine lover and are visiting the Vancouver area, or you live here like I do and haven’t sampled this region yet, visiting the Fraser Valley is something to consider, if only for an afternoon.

Are you considering a visit to taste the wines of the Fraser Valley or have you already been? If the latter, I would love to know your thoughts and recommendations for my next visit.

Wine Tip Wednesday Roundup

I try to post a tip on Wednesdays on my Facebook page and I thought I ‘d share them here, too. I will be sharing more next week, so make sure you come back for that post. In the meantime, enjoy these tips 🙂

TIP 1: Having people over? Open a high tannin red wine 2-3 hours before serving to let it breathe and soften the tannins. Cut the time in half by using a decanter. Note, necessary breathing times will vary by wine. Try it out and smell/taste how the wine changes with length of air contact.

red wine

TIP 2: When dining out, don’t let the server rush you into ordering your wine. After all, you went out to EAT. Decide first what you’d like to eat, then order your drink to complement your meal.

eating out

TIP 3: Food and wine pairing that works for the most part: If it grows together, it goes together.

food and wine pairing

TIP 4: Different parts of your mouth are more sensitive to certain tastes. Swish the wine in your mouth to coat every tastebud and you’ll discover flavours you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed.

TIP 5: Swirl the wine to bring out the aromas and bouquet. This will also help you identify any faults (ie, the wine is off/spoiled). Then sniff, sniff.

TIP 6:

chilling wine

Chill wine fast!

LIKE It Tastes Like Wine on Facebook to get weekly tips.

Fantastic gifts I received as a wino

It’s still early in November, but before you know it, Christmas will be just around the corner. Shopping for a wine lover is easy. Get them a bottle of wine you think they have never tried before. Ask the wine shop staff to help you pick one out. Even if they’ve had it, it’s always nice to revisit.

What if you want to be a bit more creative though? What if you have already given that wino in your life countless bottles as gifts? Well, I’m lucky to have such thoughtful people in my life. They have gone beyond the bottle of wine; here are some gifts I thought were thoughtful.

A wine related book

My in-laws gave me and the hubby this book (along with a couple of bottles of wine) for our one year anniversary. They know we love to travel and over the last few years, we have planned a lot of our exploration around wine. Thus, this Lonely Planet book.

wine travel book

Wine experience

One Christmas, the hubby and I received tickets to the Vancouver International Wine Festival from my brother-in-law. (If you haven’t figured it out, my husband loves wine, too.) I was just getting serious about wine at this point, so to receive this to experience was totally awesome.

VIWF 2014

For more ideas on wine related experiences, read this post!

A bottle from your travels

If you’re going to give a bottle of wine, a personal connection to the bottle makes it even better. For example, when you’re travelling and you happen to be in an area where wine is made, bonus points if it’s a wine from a region that’s not easily accessible where the wino is from, then grab a bottle as a gift. I love tasting wines from unfamiliar regions!

A former manager of mine knew that I love wine and I got excited that he was visiting Arizona because, did you know Arizona makes wine?! He brought back a bottle for me and I was absolutely delighted! You don’t see Arizona wine outside the state much as locals consume most of it.

wine from Arizona

Don’t be fooled by the label. This wine was tasty with notes of ripe peach and vanilla aroma. Lots of citrus, especially on the palate. High acidity.

Bottles from all over the world

Two of our friends gave us  12 wines from all over the world for our wedding gift. Not only did we get some bottles we may not have considered buying, but this saved us time in going to the liquor store.

I also love the fact that each bottle was from a different wine region, which speaks to our passion for travel as well.


Wine Club Membership

Does the wino have a favourite winery? Get them a club membership there. Or maybe you think they’d prefer to be a part of a club where one can try wines from different parts of the world. Hubby and I got the latter as a wedding gift and we love it. Needless to say, we have taken full advantage and placed a few orders.


A wedding gift we love!

Do you have ideas or received any cool wine related gifts? Please share by commenting below.