Everything Wine blog

Que Syrah Shiraz

I am often asked the about the difference between Syrah and Shiraz.  The truth is that they are the same grape!  So why the different name?

To answer that question you have to dive a little deeper into the grape’s history.  While there are many rumours that this grape has origins in Shiraz, Ancient Persia, it found a perfect home in the Cote Du Rhone in France.  Here, the French called it Syrah, and it thrived, becoming a main component in some of the countries best wines including the famed Hermitage.  In 1831, James Busby is known for bringing the Syrah grape from France to its other favourite location, Australia.  Originally these wines were labeled Hermitage in honour of the great French Syrah’s, however due to changes in wine laws in France that protected the names of regions, Hermitage in Australia had to change.  The name Shiraz was chosen to distinguish itself from French wines.

Stylistic comparisons of this grape plainly show two different styles according to the region and winemaking.  The French Syrah is traditionally made in an elegant, earthier style full of black pepper whereas Australian Shiraz is juicy and rich focusing on intense ripe fruit flavours.

Nowadays, no matter the name, this grape has become one of the 10 most grown grapes in the world.  In emerging wine regions like Canada, the choice to use either Syrah or Shiraz comes down to whether their wine emulates the classic Rhone or the modern Australian style.

My suggestion is to try an example of each and find the style you prefer the most.  I recommend tryingCave de Tain Saint Joseph from the Northern Rhone or Penfold’s Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz from the Barossa Valley as a comparison starting point.

Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2010 Unveiled at Morgan Crossing!

Each December, Wine Spectator releases a list of the top 100 wines from the past year. In 2010, more than 15800 wines were reviewed.

The top 100 consists of wine from 14 different Countries with an average score of 93 points, and an average price of $48(USD) dollars a bottle. These wines are all “outstanding” or “classic” ratings, 90+ points. They are ranked using 4 factors, quality, value, availability, and an X-factor they call “excitement.”

To some, this list is a Bible. To others, such as some of my classmates for the Top 100 class at Everything Wine Morgan Crossing it is something they would like to know more about. Our teacher, Almira, put on a wonderful evening class where we tasted 6 wines on the Top 100 of 2010.

Once the top 100 wines are named, they are extremely hard to find. Collectors all around North America are trying to get their hands on these wines. This class not only gave students a chance to learn about the top 100 wines, but also buy a few of the wines that are in very high demand for the last month and a half.

The wines:

#48 – Mumm Cuvee Brut Napa Valley Prestige NV - $25.99

This is a very crisp sparkling wine, the nose is full of green apple with light hints of yeast. On the palate it has great acidity with apple and citrus flavours, it has a great finish full of fruit and vanilla. 90 Points Wine Spectator

#52 – Bodegas Beronia Rioja Reserva 2005 - $23.49

Very big black currant flavours with lots of smoky and earthy notes. Firm tannins and a long finish, this wine could easily age for 3 or 4 more years. 91 points Wine Spectator

#62 – Trimbach Riesling 2004 - $32.99

This beautiful dry Riesling has great mineral notes which work great with the light peach and lemon and green apple flavors. It has great acid and a very long finish. 92 points Wine Spectator

#63 - D’Arenberg The Stump Jump Red Blend 2008 - $14.99

A blend of grenache shiraz and mouvedre, this red is full of sweet berry fruit flavors. Black cherry, strawberry and a bit of heat from the alcohol combine in this very impressive wine. Great value!

90 points Wine Spectator

#68 - Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2009 – $26.99

My personal favourite of the evening, this wine shows ripe plum fruit with raspberry/blackberry jam aromas. This Malbec really shows its terroir with hints of graphite on the nose and palate. 91 points Wine Specator

#88 – St Cosme Cotes Du Rhone 2009 - $19.99

Very floral on the nose, this old world red shows great dark fruit flavors followed by earthy charcoal. This wine still has very grippy tannins so I would recommend decanting for at least an hour. 90 points Wine Spectator.

Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven ... Countdown to New Year’s Eve and Sparkling Wine decisions !

It seems like we just finished our Christmas turkey leftovers and ‘Deck the Halls’ is still ringing in our ears, but I’m already eagerly anticipating New Year’s Eve when we welcome in 2011 and say goodbye to another year and another decade(!). While I brush up on the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne, I’m also trying to decide which sparkling wine to have when we ring in the New Year. Along with the party hats, noisemakers and balloons, nothing says ‘Celebrate!’ better than the unmistakable pop of a cork and a glass or two of bubbly. It’s perfect for festive get-togethers, as an aperitif, or paired with just about anything. I happen to be a big fan of the stuff.

Hmmm, so many favourites to choose from: from white to pink to red, sweet or dry, light or rich, there is a wide range of styles from many regions around the globe. Maybe this is the year to try something new and consider the many choices at Everything Wine – after all, we have one of the largest selections of French champagne and sparkling wine in BC! Just select ‘sparkling wine’ on www.everythingwine.ca and you’ll find almost 200 wines in your search results.

Here are some ideas and a few of my favourites to get you started:

Champagne: Well, I might as well start at the top. We have over 60 French champagnes in our Vintages Room. Champagne is the most famous bottle-fermented sparkling wine in the world and is named after the Champagne region (appellation) in northern France. Because of high demand and limited supply (not to mention its labour-intensive production methods, quality and pedigree), champagne is not inexpensive. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes produce champagnes that are typically dry, with high acidity and complex flavours of green and citrus fruit and other notes described as bready, biscuity or toasty. This year’s favourite is Roederer Brut Champagne ($59.99) from the same producer of legendary Cristal (they’ve been synonymous with the world’s great champagnes since 1776). This is their flagship, award-winning non-vintage champagne. It has a golden colour with fine bubbles and smooth palate of apples and pears with red berries (blackberries, raspberries and cherries) and classic rich notes of toast and almonds – yum!

Cava is the Spanish term for sparkling wine that is also bottle-fermented. The main grape varieties are local Spanish ones that offer neutral fruit flavours and medium acidity. Cava is easy-drinking, less pricey and very popular. One of the best recognized labels is Segura Viudas Brut Reserva and at only $13.99, it’s also an incredible value. Another favourite is Codorniu Pinot Noir Brut Rose Cava ($16.49) which is very pretty in the glass (soft salmon/pink colour), with a light strawberry nose and a dry, refreshing finish.

Prosecco is a sparkling wine from northeast Italy (Veneto) that is usually fermented in the tank method. The prosecco grape produces a light to medium-bodied, dry or off-dry sparkling wine with delicate stone fruit flavours (think peaches and pears). Some are fully sparkling (spumante); others are slightly sparkling (frizzante). Our most popular prosecco at Everything Wine is also organic: Villa Teresa. It is light straw-coloured with small bubbles, has a clean, crisp taste and a very cool re-sealable rubber closure/top. Wine Access awarded it 87 points in 2010 and at only $15.99, it’s one of the best value Prosecco’s on the shelf. When I want to splurge a little more, my current favourite is Adami Bosco di Gica Spumante Brut ($29.99).This delicious 91-point wine (Wine Advocate-Robert Parker) is soft and elegant. It was also selected as the prosecco to be served last year to world leaders at the G-8 summit in Italy to world leaders, so you know it’s got to be great to meet those standards.

Sparkling wine from Canada: British Columbia’s sparkling wines are award-winning, impressive and delicious. Blue Mountain Vineyard’s Gold Label Brut Sparkling ($29.99) is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris grapes. It has a fine mousse (tiny bubbles) with lemon and toasty characters on the nose and palate with a dry finish. It’s a staff favourite and sells quickly whenever it arrives in the store. Summerhill Estate, See Ya Later Ranch, Tantalus Vineyards and Sumac Ridge are some other wonderful quality sparkling wine producers in our province.

Other favourite wines from other sparkling wine-producing countries include:

Australia: Bird in Hand Sparkling Wine ($30.99). Pinot Noir grapes are the sole star in this sparkling rose with a soft pink hue, delicious strawberry aromas and flavours balanced by refreshing acidity and a long, dry finish. A different Australian specialty is Sparkling Shiraz like the Banrock Station Sparkling Shiraz ($13.99). These are full-bodied wines with intense black and red berry fruit notes and yes, they are fizzy too – it’s a delicious combination!

New Zealand: Mount Riley Savee Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc ($29.99). If you love Sauvignon Blanc and also love bubbly, you’ve GOT to try this unique sparkling wine with traditional Marlborough sauv blanc notes, crisp acidity and lingering finish.

South Africa: Graham Beck Brut Sparkling Wine ($24.99). This is delicious blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes fermented in-bottle with light yeasty aromas, rich and creamy mouthfeel and fine mousse. It was awarded one of the ‘Top 10 Fizzies’ by Decanter magazine in 2009.

California: Although Domaine Chandon and Mumm’s are ubiquitous, I like Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blanc Sparkling ($42.99) from cool climate Carneros. It’s produced exclusively with Chardonnay grapes, has enticing aromas of apples, full creamy feel with flavours of pear and lemon meringue with a long finish.

Germany, Hungary and Argentina and many other countries also produce sparkling wines.

There are so many sparkling wines to choose from. Regardless of the type or style or country of origin, I never tire of popping the cork and watching millions of tiny bubbles swirling to the surface in my glass. It’s a beautiful thing ... We hope you discover a new favourite this New Year’s Eve.

Happy New Year from all of us at Everything Wine!

- Sharon McGavin

Champagne Dreams!

I personally have been anticipating this classroom for more than a month. When the day finally arrived I was as giddy as a little school girl.

To say I love Champagne is an understatement. If someone asked me if I were stranded on an island what three things would I bring?

My answer would be Champagne, Champagne, and more Champagne!

I know one could not live on Champagne alone but it would make my days on that island so much more enjoyable.

As a child, I have many fond memories watching my parents and their friends sipping on champagne on New Year’s Eve, Sunday Brunches, Weddings and Birthdays. Us kids were never left without. They always made sure we had a bottle of the de-alcoholized fizzy variety for us to participate in their celebrations.  I never knew the difference until I had a taste of the real stuff on my 19th birthday. I hated it. At first it was too dry and the bubbles made me sneeze. What a difference a few years makes. Now I love Champagne. I can’t imagine a celebration without it.


When I had the opportunity to plan a tasting around Champagne, I could hardly wait to share my love and passion for the product. Tonight’s class was sold out and there had been many inquiries on it so I will have to do this again!


The class started out with a history lesson. Many of our guests had no idea that Champagne had been around since the late 1660’s, or that there is a debate on where Champagne was created. Some say it was the French and some say it was from the Brits’. Who’s to say really, all I know is that I’m thankful that it exists.


We discussed the different grapes and styles used to produce the Champagne. There was also a lesson on how to decipher a Champagne label. Finally after we went through the technical jargon, we dove into trying the Champagnes. I chose wines that I hadn’t heard much about unlike Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot and Cristal. Instead I wanted to give the lesser known Champagnes a little bit of our Vintage Room Spotlight:


Pol Roger 1999 Brut Blanc de Blancs $85.99 Awarded 93 pts from Wine Spectator

Henriot NV Brut Souvrain Champagne $67.99 Awarded 94 pts from Wine Enthusiast

Gosset Celebris 1998 Extra Brut $139.99 Awarded 90 pts from Wine Spectator

Billecart – Salmon NV Brut Champagne Reserve $84.99 Awarded 91 pts from Wine Spectator

Cedric Bouchard Inflorescence NV Blanc de Noirs $89.99 Awarded 92 pts from Robert Parker

  1. Billiot Et Fils NV Brut Rose $79.99 Awarded 91 pts from Wine Spectator


When the bubbles had finished and the class had emptied, all I could think of was how different one Champagne was from another. It was a wonderful line-up that showcased how every Champagne House has achieved to be different from their neighbor. I have to say it was an amazing class of good Champagne, great people and affirmed my love for the bubbles!


-Almira Spiller

PS: Did you know that Everything Wine has over 130 varieties of sparkling wine in stock?

A Time to Remember and a Time to Appreciate

First they came two by two, and within minutes a small crowd gathered outside the front doors of the Everything Wine in the Millstream Village in Langford. Never did they grow impatient, one guest eagerly opened the door and asked, “We are so excited… is it too early to come in?” They were all here to celebrate the Third Annual Canadian Forces Appreciation Night event. An evening to not only remember but celebrate the lives of our dedicated Canadian Forces in all that they have done for safe Peacekeeping on behalf of all Canadians everywhere. What an astounding turnout….

At that very moment, Maria Manna began to belt out a soulful tune and all knew that it was time! Shortly, Melinda Whitaker and Miranda Sage were on stage and The Great Ladies of Jazz were complete. All the Canadian Forces members and their guests were handed their programs, a goodie bag and a wine glass as they entered and listened carefully as they were instructed to follow the red and white balloons.

Sultry Maria Manna of the "Great Ladies of Jazz"

There were smiles all around as everyone discovered a new table; some would call across the floor for their buddies to come try the Cupcake Petite Syrah or what about that Napa Cab; “oh wait!......” how about theQuails’ Gate Pinot Noir! Other favourites included the Domaine de Chaberton and the Forgotten Field Red Blend.

Vino Lovers!

Never a dull moment as a tall dapper man approaches with several coins in his hand; it is conjuror John Graham; how on earth did he get that big silver coin through the bottom of the empty wine bottle?

Happy people mingled meeting new friends and discovering old acquaintances, all while nibbling on tasty treats from Nando’s Flame Grilled Chicken and fresh baked bread from Cobs Breads. “What’s for Dinner” was here too, with the most delicious turkey meatballs and a remedy for how to take the stress out of your kitchen life when you ponder, “what am I going to cook tonight?” And as if that wasn’t enough, no one missed the Rogers’ chocolate table or said no to a scoop of decadent Marble Slab Creamery ice cream! All of this under one roof!

Faces were then focused on center stage, aka the tasting bar, as names were drawn for the prizes, including a 3 night stay at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in their guest cottage (valued at $700), a one night’s stay at The Westin at Bear Mountain with breakfast for two, and glasses from Riedel to name just a few!

(L) Display of prizes and Rahul of Nando's Flame Grilled Chicken

(R) Dr. Chana and Kris Steed of Diagio

It was fantastic to see so many people enjoying the company of our Canadian Forces members, sharing stories while enjoying and discovering wines at such a fun evening; I have to say my favourite comment came from a guest who said, “I never would have guessed I’d be enjoying wine, I’m a beer guy…and you know what, the music is great, I don’t think Ozzy Osbourne would have made good background music!”

We may have to wait another year for the next Canadian Forces Appreciation Event, but Pinot-Rama is just around the corner…November 18th!

Gina Savard
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