"At La Stella, we celebrate the sun that ripens our grapes and brings warmth to our life, and we share that with everyone who visits us."
In this case we didn't have to visit the Osoyoos Lake vineyard, Rasoul, General Manager of LaStella Winery, came to visit us, toast a glass and share his knowledge.
Rasoul, who has been in the wine industry since he was 19, has visited hundreds of vineyards and wineries around the world. He has an advanced degree from WSET and uses his wealth of information to teach others through seminars at corporate food and wine events, and in situations like this.
He took some time to explain the wines we were about to drink, while touching on the winery itself.
Along with their sister winery; Le Vieux Pin, they have roughly 50 acres of small parcel vineyards in Oliver's Golden Mile and Black Sage Bench, as well as vineyards in the Osoyoos Lake district. Since they practice low input viticulture and employ deficit irrigation, they have low yields with concentrated flavours and complexities in the fruit.
In his speech he mentioned that all of their wines are named after Italian musical notes. Enthralled by this and needing to know more, I left the event eager to do some research.
Vivace (their Pinot Grigio) is Italian for "lively" and "vivid" and so is used as an Italian musical term indicating a movement that is in a lively mood (usually fast tempo). La Stella's 2011 Pinot Grigio offers a palate that is packed with fruit cocktail flavours, entering the mouth in a soft and round fashion before blossoming into bright citrus and apple. The long finish carries on with intense Asian pear and citrus notes.
Leggiero is used as a direction in music for lightly and gracefully. La Stella paired that with their Chardonnay, a wine that expresses pure minerality with beautiful acidity and soft fruit flavours.
Fortissimo is the musical term indicating that the piece is played very loud. La Stella's Fortissimos are their way of paying respect to the pioneers of Tuscany who challenged the traditions of wine making to gain recognition for their wines. Their 2007 Super-Tuscan-inspired blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc is known as a forceful, powerhouse of a wine, which is very suitable for the musical term with the latin root "fortis", meaning strong.
The wines were carefully paired with Salt's small-batch charcuterie, artisanal cheeses, house-made condiments, fresh bread and crackers.
Food from Left to Right - Wine from Right to Left:
Stellina Rosata paired with Toma and Cipollini Onions
Leggiero Un-Oaked Chardonnay paired with Avonlea Cheddar and Mostarda
Vivace Pinot Grigio paired with Proscuitto di Parma and Piparras Peppers
From Left to Right:
Moscata paired with La Roche Noir and Similkameen Honey
Fortissimo 2009 paired with Smoked Beef and Fig and Nut Bread
Fortissimo 2012 paired with Holstein and Dried Cherries
Kyle Gartlan-Close, General Manager of Salt, was responsible for putting together all of the pairings; Rasoul (and the other guests) seemed to approve of his work, obvious by positive chatter and empty plates and glasses.
My favorite pairings from the evening were the Leggiero Un-Oaked Chardonnay paired with Avonlea Cheddar and Mostarda, and the Moscata paired with La Roche Noir and Similkameen Honey. This was just my palate and preference for pairings, as individually I may have liked the wine but not the food, or vice versa.
Lucky to be sitting beside Rasoul, he explained to me -- reiterating what so many winemakers have told me: "the best wine is the wine that you like."
(L to R): Sarah Savill, Kyle Gartlan-Close, Rasoul Salehi, Gemma Bishop
Sokol Blosser Winery on March 19 (Oregon)
Sokol strives to create wines of world class quality that are produced sustainably, mindful of the environment and your health, and that express the distinctive flavors of their hillside vineyards.
Stag’s Hollow Winery on March 26 (BC)
From the beginning, hands on owners, Larry Gerelus & Linda Pruegger, believe their passion and involvement in every aspect of the vineyard and winemaking process has created a unique style. This style is a fusion of both Old and New world.
Chateau Ste. Michelle on April 16 (Washington)
Built on the 1912 estate owned by Seattle lumber baron Frederick Stimson, the winery’s roots date back to the Repeal of Prohibition, when the Pommerelle Wine Company and the National Wine Company were formed.
Okanagan Crush Pad on April 23 (BC)
From its ponderosa-surrounded location in Summerland, OK Crush Pad overlooks the Switchback Vineyard to Okanagan Lake. This is the first facility of this kind in Canada, where a team of industry leading consultants offers diverse services to the wine industry (including Italy’s Alberto Antonini).
Nichol Vineyard on May 21 (BC)
Since 1993 Nichol has been creating wines exclusively from grapes grown in Naramata. Their vineyards, on a pocket of land tucked against steep heat-radiating rock cliffs, are the ideal place to craft wines demonstrating intense fruit and refreshing acidity.
To purchase tickets visit: www.salttastingroom.com/#events