update: California wine pioneer Robert Mondavi died yesterday at the age of 94. Raise a glass to the man who broke the mold and changed the way the world looks at California wines...***Hope everybody has a great long weekend. To my knowledge, Liquor Marts are closed on Mondays, while some private wine stores and beer vendors will be open, mostly with Sunday/holiday hours.Since the task of writing out tasting notes for a whole pile of wines seems like a bit of an overwhelming task right now, I thought I'd at least post the names of some of my favourites wines tried at the Winnipeg Wine Festival. Plus that way I can always review the wines in the column. Of note: these are wines that are new to me... in other words, wines I hadn't tried before the Winnipeg Wine Festival. There were a lot of great wines at the show that I had either tried or didn't get to try (but heard good things about).Not all wines from the main tasting area will stick around - as I mentioned, the Grant Park Liquor Mart already has a rack devoted to get-em-while-you-can wines from the fest. Once they're gone, they're gone.As for wines from the Private Wine Store Village, I'll list the store's booth at which I tried the wine, as many of them are exclusives to that particular store. If a store isn't listed it means I tried the wine in the main tasting area (or at an ancillary event).So, in no particular order except that in which I can decipher them from my ratty notes...Best WhitesI thought I'd specifically mention whites that weren't 100% Chardonnay and/or Sauvignon Blanc just to mix it up a bit...Einig-Zenzen 1975 Valwiger Herrenberg Riesling Auslese This one was particularly special, as it's the first time I've been able to try a wine from my birth year. 32ish years later, it's still holding up nicely (unlike yours truly was by the end of the wine fest).Torres Vina Esmerelda (Spain)Trius Riesling Dry (Niagara Peninsula, Canada)Pelee Island Reserve Gewürztraminer (Pelee Island, Ontario)Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery 2006 "Ogopogo's Lair" Pinot Grigio (Okanagan Valley, BC) - watch for a review on this one in this tomorrow's columnBalthasar Ress Rheingau Riesling Trocken (Rheingau, Germany)Mt. Boucherie 2006 Pinot Gris (Okanagan Valley, BC)Basa Do Rueda 2006 (Spain - sampled at De Luca's Fine Wines booth)Casa Tamaya 2006 VCS [Viognier-Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc] (Chile)Red Truck "White Truck" white (California)Bridlewood Reserve Viognier (California)***Best RedsIronstone Reserve Cabernet Franc (California)Rutini 2005 Malbec (Argentina)Tolaini 2004 Picconero (Tuscany, Italy - sampled at the Banville and Jones booth)Peter Dennis 2004 Shiraz (Australia - sampled at the Pembina Fine Wines booth)Coyote's Run 2004 Meritage (Niagara Peninsula, Ontario)Sandhill 2005 Cabernet Merlot (Okanagan Valley, BC)[yellow tail] 2006 Reserve Shiraz (Australia)Hedonist Shiraz (Australia - sampled at the Fenton's Wine Merchants booth)Rochioli Pinot Noir (California - sampled at the Kenaston Wine Market booth)Anakena "Ona" Pinot Noir Merlot Syrah Viognier (Chile)Francis Ford Coppola Ivory Label Cabernet Sauvignon (California)Nepenthe Zinfandel (Australia... yes, an Australian Zinfandel)Rosemount Estate 2005 GSM [Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvèdre] (Australia)Santa Carolina El Bosque Syrah (Chile)Tintara Reserve Grenache (Australia)***Bubbly/Rose/Dessert/FortifiedChamarré 2006 Grenache-Syrah Rose (France - watch for a review in this tomorrow's column)Umberto Cesari Refolo Brut (Italy - sampled at La Boutique Del Vino's booth)Casa Tamaya 2007 Pink Goat Rosé (Chile)De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon (Australia)Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery "The Last Bars" Vidal Icewine (Okanagan Valley, BC)Segura Viudas Brut Heredad Reserva (Spain)Warre's 1999 LBV [Late Bottled Vintage] Port (Portugal)Wolf Blass Yellow Label Brut (Australia)Chamarré 2003 Jurançon [dessert wine] (France)Whew... lots more to come here in blogsville...
When he wasn't bashing on a drum kit in local punk rock bands, Ben spent the mid '90s hucking cases of wine around to pay for two English degrees. Now he's the Winnipeg Free Press wine columnist and blogger.
The extent of Ben's wine experience in the mid-90s was memories of accidentally leaving a bottle of White Zinfandel in the freezer overnight, and the ensuing mess he was left with. Between 1996 and 2005 Ben absorbed all he could about wine while working at wine shops to pay for school. Meanwhile, he was churning out papers for his BA and MA in English (from the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, respectively).
Ben became the Winnipeg Free Press' weekly wine columnist in 2005, and two years later joined Wine Access magazine as a contributor, a member of their national tasting panel and a judge at the Canadian Wine Awards and International Value Wine Awards until the magazine closed up shop in 2013.
In 2013 Ben joined the Winnipeg Free Press as a copy/web editor.