Posts Tagged ‘Chardonnay’

Chill out with cool Chardonnays

Posted by Julie

Friday, July 19th, 2013
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Who does not love the dog days of summer?  Flowers are in full bloom, berries and vegetables crowd the market stalls, people are barbequing and in spite of the wet weather, those little grapes of ours are slowly making their way to fruition.

So it is not surprising that the LCBO Vintages release for July 20 focuses on BBQ and Cool Climate Chardonnay wines. I remember a time when Chardonnay wines used to be heavy and oaky which probably gave some weight to the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) era. Now, there is so much variety in winemaking techniques that Chardonnay has been given a makeover.

In 2011, approximately twenty nine Ontario wineries started the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Association that has done much to return the Chardonnay grape to dignity. While the grape origins may be in Burgundy, France, it has flourished in the cooler climate Ontario soil that offers minerality and difference to the grape. It is still the most popular varietal for people to drink and the only difficulty this release presents, is finding the Chardonnay style that is right for you.

This weekend in time with the Vintages release Chardonnay feature, Niagara is hosting the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (follow #i4C2013 on Twitter or @coolchardonnay for all of the buzz!) again this year and it is bigger than ever with a Grand Tasting event outdoors, lunches at wineries, intimate winemakers dinners in the vineyards, educational seminars – everything to showcase the best Chardonnays in the world as they come together in Niagara.  Worthy of a roadtrip!

I hope you will join me in picking up a few of my top Chardonnay picks at Vintages and don’t be afraid to pair it with a hamburger or grilled steak.  You will find out how very “cool” Chardonnay can be.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Julie

 

Angel’s Gate Mountainview Chardonnay 2010

VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula
$18.95 (Vintages #116384) 13.5% alcohol

Some wines are just so good, I want to enjoy them on their own and not have to worry about pairing them with food. I’m sure most Europreans would disagree with me, however.  A pale golden coloured medium bodied Chard. with aromas and tastes of stone, pineapple, lemon zest and green apple. It’s fresh, medium bodied and makes for a lovely afternoon sipper. It’s lip-smacking delicious on its own or with salad for a light lunch or white fish at supper.

 

Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay Musqué

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$16.95 (Vintages #640516) 13.5% alcohol

This fresh chardonnay has lots of citrusy expression with aromas of white blossoms and stone; a tad mininerally which is typical of the Chardonnay Musqué clone. This undermining of minerality gives it a fresh and light taste with apricot, grapefruit and green apple on the palate and aftertaste. Another great sipper for mid-afternoon and would match grilled chicken and lighter fare.

 

Papale Linea Oro Primitivo di Manduria 2010

DOP, Varvaglione Vigne & Vini, Italy
$19.95 (Vintages# 261784)  14% alcohol

This wine was a Gold Medal 2012 Mundus Vini winner. Made from the Prinitivo grape in the Puglia region of Italy, also known as Zinfandel in North America. It is no wonder that 115 bottles of the 2008 vintage of this wine was purchased by the Vatican following the election of Pope Francis in 2013. Rich ruby red in colour, almost opaque with aromas and tastes of dark berry pie and a little leather. Full bodied, chewy and smooth with a little sweet spice dancing around the palate; medium tannins leaving a velvety and persisting finish. A handsome and elegant wine to serve with any roasts or tenderloin.

 

The Show Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

California, U.S.A.
$17.95 (Vintages #140715) 13.9% alcohol

Deep dark ripe berries aromas combined with classic pencil shavings waft from the nose of the glass with this Cab. Sauv. An assortment of ripe fruit swirl on the tongue plus, chocolate and mocha flavours, combined with a pinch of sweet spice. It is heady and full bodied layered with flavour and lovely soft tannins. It’s a real “show-stopper” with a long cherry finish.  Would be just fabulous with any grilled meats or ribs in a heavy duty barbeque sauce. Full bodied and well concentrated; stands on its own.

 

Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Blue Label Merlot 2011

California, U.S.A.
$11.95  375 ml (Vintages #250001) 13.5% alcohol

A perfect size for an afternoon picnic!  A medium-bodied Merlot, brimming with aromas of blueberries, violets, dark currants and plums that follow through on the palate. Lovely and smooth, an easy sipper with paté or cheese for a delectable mid afternoon snack under the willow tree.

 

Rosewood Harvest Gold Mead 2011

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages# 346767)  12% alcohol

This honey wine also known as InforMead is made from the fermention of honey and water. Honey is flower nectar collected by domesticated honeybees and contains a complex mixture of sugars, enzymes, proteins, organic compounds and trace minerals. These compounds give honey its distinctive flavor and aromas. The wine is light bodied, almost colourless and not at all sweet as one might expect from a honey wine. I detected aromas of beeswax, almost like candles and white blossoms, with tastes of mild yellow baked apple or pear with a delicate aftertaste of those fruits. It could easily be paired with something very spicey, or sushi or even with strawberries for an interesting desert. It is a real conversation piece at a great price point and well worth the pick up.

Grand Total: $100.70 – ooops…I was over by 70 pennies!

 

 

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Reminder: you need to pick up a Mother’s Day gift!

Posted by Julie

Thursday, May 9th, 2013
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In most parts of the world, the second Sunday in May is celebrated as an opportunity to express joy and gratitude to our Mothers. So it is timely that the May 7 release at the LCBO Vintages will WOW some mothers out there. While flowers, chocolates and cards are popular gifts to symbolize one’s love and appreciation; I can’t imagine anything nicer than sharing a lovely bottle of wine with my Mom.

Which ones to pick? Here’s my shopping list!

There are many new Rosés in this release and considering that I am the ‘Rosé Queen’, I‘d like to take more than 3 home. Like sparkling wine, Rosé makes a fabulous appertif and a great sipper on its own. Many are at a popular price point (under $17) so you might want to try a couple of different bottles to see which one could become a spring-summer favourite. Tawse Winery Rosé, a perennial favourite, is also back on the shelf, but I want to expand my Rosé palate.

In this release there is also a fantastic array of Australian reds. One wine I wrote about last year when it made its debut, “Ladies Who Shoot their Lunch Shiraz 2010”, now returns with a Gold Medal from the 2013 Sydney International Wine Competition on its label.  At $35.95 it is truly worth the splurge for this big bold beauty. The label itself of a woman with a hunting rifle and her dog is a great conversation piece. The wine is polished and memorable.

Finally, for those of you who like Chardonnay, this is your time to shine. It was difficult to not fill my shopping list with ONLY Chards. For my $100 budget, it is still the number one best selling grape and whether you like a big buttery taste or a unoaked one, this release offers something for everyone.

Enjoy, cheers…and Happy Mother’s Day!

Julie

 

Domaine d’Orfeuilles Brut Vouvray

AC, Méthode Traditionnelle du Val de Loire, France
$18.95  (Vintaages #319954) 12.5% alcohol

Hands down, my #1 pick! An elegant slightly pale pink tinge to this bubbly wine, it is sure to impress. Beautiful mousse (winespeak: fine bubbles) delicious creamy texture with tastes of apricots, peaches, orchard fruit, bone dry with a long fruity finish. It is an absolute beauty to have for a luncheon or before dinner or just on its own. Although I frequently write and rave about sparkling wine, this one was over the top and is on my agenda to pick up a couple of bottles. I would pair this with just about anything – sheer yum.

Greenlane Estate Unoaked Chardonnay 2011

VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula
$17.95 (Vintages #329409) 12.5 % alcohol

This is the first Chardonnay I have sampled from the Lincoln Lakeshore area and for the price point, it is fantastic – so much going on from the intial sip. First, it’s fresh; dry and because it is unoaked there is no butter taste or cloying mouthfeel. Lots of tree fruit, green apples, peaches with an underlining seam of minerality that one often associates with a Niagara Riesling. Very mouthcoating and medium bodied with a delectable fruit finish. This Chard would be great with summer salads and grilled chicken or fish. It’s a very versatile food wine.

 

 

13th Street Pink Palette Rosé 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$14.95 (Vintages #275834) 12.5% alcohol

A beautiful pale pink colour with aromas of fresh spring air and raspberries. It is light-bodied, slightly off-dry with vibrant strawberry flavours; clean crisp acidity that coat the palate with just a hint of rhubarb. For some reason, this rosé reminded me of the red fruit pies that come from the bakery located next to the winery, but I know that is my vivid imagination and there could not possibly be any connection, or could there?

 

Chateau Tananda Grand Barossa Shiraz  2010

Barossa, South Australia
$22.95 (Vintages #311365) 14.5% alcohol

A deep purple, aromas of gorgeous dark fruit, mouth-coating and full bodied with layers of plums and black currant, blueberry flavours and a touch of sweet spice on the long finish.

Bone dry, soft tannins but how sweet it is! With a rack of lamb, this would be fabulous.

 

 

San Polo Auka Torrontes 2012

La Consulta, Mendoza, Argentina
$13.95 (Vintages#322842)  13.5%

Don’t let the price fool you; this is a great new wine at Vintages. Soft white in colour, very aromatic floral notes with an energetic and fresh lemony taste. It has lots of zingy acidity but it’s not over the top and offers a fairly hefty weight for a fruity crisp wine with a mouth-watering finish. It would be great with any seafood or salad, or just sitting on your patio.

 

Grand Total: $ 88.75

 

What to buy with the $11.25 in change?

I have enough for a bottle of one of my favourite general list products, Cono Sur Viognier from Chile $9.95  – one of the best kept secrets in the LCBO.   And I still have a toonie left over!

 

 

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Bordeaux invasion at the LCBO

Posted by Julie

Thursday, October 25th, 2012
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There’s nothing like a new Vintages release to chase away the post-Thanksgiving blues. The left-overs are gone as are the rellies and friends that made it all so special. But the thoughts of new Bordeaux coming to town just perks me right up and makes me long for a huge wine cellar.

With approximately 7,000 châteaux and 21 appellations it is not surprising that the Bordeaux region of France is the world’s major wine industry capital. Appellations in France are similar to our wine regions in Canada. For those of you who have not been to France, the Bordeaux region is located in the southwest part of France on the Atlantic coast.

Bordeaux produces quality and quantity red and white wines. The red wines are mostly blends from grapes such as: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and even Carménère. White Bordeaux is made from Sauvignon blanc, Semillon and/or Muscadelle grapes. It’s hard to go astray in your choices with these crème de la crème grapes and your choices will be more price dependent than anything else-as the quality is always there.

This release made me think of some of my favorites that I had not picked up for a while so it was a wonderful reminder of how well some red Bordeaux pair with beef and lamb and the white’s with shellfish.

Well this is not the first time that reading about these new releases made me want to jump on a plane, but since it will not be for this year, I’ll have to be content with picking up some new bottles to stash away for when it gets really cold.  I hope you will join me.

Santé, Julie

 

Chateau Toumilon Blanc 2009 France
$16.95 (Vintages #314864) 12.5% alcohol
This is such a light easy sipper, pale straw yellow, mild citrusy aromas with light – medium soft textures in the mouth. I got some delicate flavors of pears in this bone dry white wine and it is just slightly acidic with some minerality on the finish.  If anyone is looking for a new “house” wine, I’d suggest you pick up a bottle of this. It slips down pretty easy and does not have a lengthy finish but it sure sends you back for more.  It also won a Silver Medal (Best in Class) at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, 2011. I was not the only one that liked this wine!

Three Saints Chardonnay 2009
Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara,U.S.A.
$20.95 (Vintages #297531) 14%
The “Three Saints” signify the three valleys were the Dierberg family grow their grapes. These Chardonnay grapes are grown in the coastal Santa Maria vineyard; the other vineyards are the Santa Rita Hills and the Santa Ynez Valley where Pinot Noir and Syrah are grown. The wine has inviting aromas of ripe melon, yellow apples and a little citrus that carry through leaving a little honey and roasted nuts on the aftertaste. A medium bodied white wine that is crisp and refreshing with rich tropical fruit flavors. Lovely on it’s own or with some turkey pot pie with flakey pastry, it would be scrumptious.

Angel’s Gate Mountainview Merlot 2010
VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula
$18.95 (Vintages #299172) 12.5% alcohol
Angel’s Gate Winery is on property that was once owned by the Congregation of Missionary Sisters and in 1995 the land was converted into a vineyard. I have found all of the Angel’s Gate selections to be pretty heavenly. The winery itself has historic, distinct gables and a tower reminiscent of a church. Think dark cherries in colour with tastes of violets, strawberries a little chocolate cake and a pinch of earth. Smooth and supple, rich in texture and tannins and all you need is some Prime Rib for a first class dinner.

 

Rolf Binder Heinrich Shiraz/Mataro/Grenache 2008
Barossa Valley, South Australia
$24.95 (Vintages# 90258) 14% alcohol

For those of you not familiar with the Mataro grape, it is also known as Mourvèdre and originated in Spain. A lovely dark rich violet color with aromas of sweet dark ripe berries, blueberries and plums that follow through with a fairly hefty mouth feel. It has lots of juicy sweet spice and peppery flavors that come through on the aftertaste. This red wine is smooth and complex and would pair it with any red meat but it’s a yummy sipper on its own.

Château Lalande Mausse 2009
AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France
$16.95 (Vintages #303859) 14% alcohol
The Bordeaux in this release are in a class of their own and for the price this shows beautifully. Lovely dark cherry color, aromas of red berry fruits and a little tobacco. The flavors of this red wine follow through on the palette, medium bodied with decent acidity and a tad earthy.  Sheer class.

Grand Total: $98.75

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This wine is a steal!

Posted by Susan

Friday, September 7th, 2012
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Like Chardonnay? Look no further! Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins discovered this Chardonnay from Chile.  After one sip, she raves that this Chardonnay wine made by Cono Sur a great value for the price.  Here’s her tasting notes:


Cono Sur ‘Reserva’ Chardonnay 2011

Casablanca Valley
$12.95
LCBO#270066
13.5% alcohol

Recently released in the LCBO, this wine is a steal. The grapes were harvested from select parcels, 15% of the wine aged 5 months in oak. The enticing nose offers aromas of pear, apple crisp, kitchen spice and a whiff of butterscotch. Medium bodied, fresh and fruity, the crisp apple and lemon/lime flavours carry through on a lengthy lively finish.

 

Enjoy!
Susan

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Fielding Estate Winery

Posted by Julie

Thursday, August 30th, 2012
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Fielding Estate Winery
– August 2012 –

 

Outstanding Riesling, Pinot Gris and Meritage and down home hospitality are what come to mind when we think of Fielding Estate Winery located on the Beamsville Bench (Niagara Escarpment). Twelve years and countless awards later, the Fielding family is continuing to work their magic in the vineyards. It is no wonder that Fielding has been named among Canada’s Top 10 wineries.  In the following pages, Savvy Sommelier Julie will tell you some of the reasons why.

Julie caught up with Heidi Fielding when she was visiting Ottawa for an interview by CTV for the annual Graze the Bench that runs on June 9 & 10th to celebrate the growing season. Good wine paired with delicious hors d’oeuvres flowed all weekend. At Fielding, Pulled Duck Sliders with Warm Potato Salad created by August Restaurant was served at the winery paired with Fielding’s Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2011 and Cabernet Franc VQA 2010.

It’s only August but are you starting to think about a dinner party this fall with all of the fresh produce? We can make it easy for you with this month’s Savvy Selections. At the panel tasting, our Savvy Sommeliers easily agreed that Fielding Estates wines are top-notch & we are excited to introduce you to them this month.

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Fielding Estate Sparkling Riesling VQA – joy in a glass!

Fielding Estate Vineyard Rock Pile Pinot Gris VQA 2011 – refreshing & simply outstanding

Fielding Estate Meritage VQA 2007 – stunning is an understatement

OPTIONAL WINE: Fielding Estate Cabernet Sauvignon VQA $34.95 regularly $44.95

In the following pages of this Savvy eZine, Julie shares history about the family run business along with the Savvy Selections tasting panel’s notes with a dinner party in mind.

Outstanding wine & prices

Fielding Estates has offered us $35 off the regular prices of their featured wines in this month’s Savvy Selections.  Once you have opened them & would like to have additional bottles, contact me directly to re-order.  Heads up that there are only a few bottles of the Pinot Gris left and by the time I finish this sentence, they may all be gone!  In any case, contact me & I will gladly make the arrangements for additional Fielding or other Ontario wineries that we have featured to be delivered to your home, office…or even cottage!

Save the date: Thursday November 8th

You are the first to know! Our 5th annual Savvy Sip, Swirl, Savour & Selebrate wine evening will feature winemakers who we have showcase in the Savvy Selections. This fun reception style event will take place again this year at the National Arts Centre on Thursday November 8th.  This is our annual wine tasting party to celebrate our 9th year in business with you & our winery clients.  For now, pencil the date into your calendar…more details to come!

From all of us at Savvy Company, we thank you for continuing to be a subscriber to Savvy Selections.

Cheers & Enjoy!


Debbie & Savvy Team




Introducing…

Fielding Estate Winery

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Julie Stock

 

In year 2000, Ken & Marg Fielding, purchased 53 acres of peach & pear orchards.  While recently retired, their sole intention was to plant grapes & building a winery. Looking back 12 years later with their son Curtis (right), a former race car driver & his wife Heidi (left), the family have seen the vineyards have come to fruition. The winery is a family affair & most importantly, Ritchie Richards, whom the family had known for years prior to joining Fielding, is now the talented & highly awarded winemaker.

The property was first planted with Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah vines. In 2002, the harvest was small, but the results proved rewarding. In 2003, Mother Nature blasted Ontario with a harsh winter.  No doubt as an apology, 2004 was a fabulous year & the Fielding family produced their largest harvest of approximately 8000 cases of wine. At this point, they were well on their way to producing premium wines, not to mention winning impressive Canadian wine awards.

My husband, Doug, (also a Sommelier on the Savvy Team) & I met up with the whole family in June while doing our annual Niagara pilgrimage. We were toured around the nooks & corners of the winery like royalty.

Ritchie works his magic!

Educated at nearby Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute, Ritchie honed his experience at other local Niagara wineries – one being Stratus Vineyards – before being hailed to Fielding. Mark my words that we will be reading about Ritchie’s talent for a long time to come. He believes in extrapolating the best of the unique characteristics of the soil & climate. With each sip, you will recognize his talent too. It is no wonder that Ritchie’s took home a motherload of medals at this year’s Cuvee (Ontario wine industry’s equivalent of Academy Awards) including Gold for his Estate Bottled Pinot Gris VQA 2010, Viognier VQA 2010 & Cabernet Franc VQA 2010. Congrats Ritchie!

The Vineyards


Fielding has two main vineyards – The Jack Rabbits Flats Vineyard on the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation comprises 40 acres of stoney deposits in sandy loam soil which holds the warmth of sun exposure. Curtis & Heidi explained that the red grape varieties do really well on this parcel of land giving the wines a complexity of rich dark fruit flavours. From this vineyard, they won the Cuvee 2012 Gold medals for their 2009 Red Conception & 2012 Cabernet Franc. As well, they explained the white Pinot Gris grapes also develop very impressive flavours from this mature soil. As an aside, I asked where the name “Jack Rabbits” comes from & they laughingly said “well aside from there used to be the tons of jack rabbits in the vicinity, it used to be a “parking spot”, at which they smiled & left the rest to my imagination. Similar story for the reason the wine is called Conception.

The other 13 acres – called the Fielding Vineyard – are located on the eastern slope of the Beamsville Bench. The bench provides clay loam soil with a deep limestone base to promote good natural drainage. The growing season is a little longer & more suited to Riesling; the wine ultimately features the unmistakable crisp minerality of their birthplace. This seems like the right time to mention that in 2010 their Riesling was in named one of the top ten wines in Canada. Congrats!

Hot enough for ya?

The most asked question at wineries this summer is the impact of the unforgiving heat. As Heidi put it, “we are not committed to doing one particular method with any one varietal, rather we will do the best to showcase the grapes in any given year & see how it all turns it out.” That is the beauty of winemaking.

We had not been long at the winery before we start to feel like part of the extended family. Heidi’s infectious warm personality is so representative of the Fielding hospitality. From ‘The Lodge’, on a clear day, you can see Toronto beyond Lake Ontario, yet it is easy to feel like you are in the Haliburtons comfortably sitting in their infamous Muskoka chairs on the grounds as well as on their wine label – all in effort to depict a relaxed style of the Fieldings. Hiedi sums it up best, “when people come to visit our winery, we want their experience to be fulfilling & leave with a wonderful and memorable experience.”  I can assure Heidi, Curtis, Marg & Ken that a visit to their winery, left Doug & I with great memories & a closer connection to the Fielding family & their wines. Cheers!

Discoveries in the cellar

When touring the cellars at Fielding Winery, amongst the typial stacks of French & American oak barrels, Doug & I also saw something amazing, not before seen in our wine travels. Three stainless steel tanks on top of one another each containing about 26,000 litres of different wine. The picture does not do it justice but it was quite a sight!

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

Sparkling Riesling Brut VQA Ontario, $27.95

We often see the term “charmat method” on bottles of sparkling white wine. Similar to the way that Champagne is made in France, the charmat method is basically taking the grape juice through two fermentations. The first one turns the grape juice into wine (without bubbles), the second fermentation takes place in large stainless steel pressurized containers or tanks which, when the winemaker adds yeast and sugar to the wine this create carbon dioxide (CO2) which in turn creates the bubbles. The tiny bubbles create a “mousse” and can give the wine a yeasty and toasty mouthfeel. The charmat method receives its’ name after a Frenchman named Eugene Charmat who invented the process.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: No doubt about it, all the Savvy Sommeliers were impressed with this “sparkler”. Pale gold, bright and clear with aromas of honey and pear, peaches and almonds. The aromas follow through on the palate with a pinch of minerality, petrol and lemon drop candies. The wine is dry and well-balanced. It has beautiful acidity with fruit flavours that linger in the aftertaste.

Suggested Food Pairing: The Savvy team had no difficulty matching this with all kinds of appetizers or just enjoying it on its own. Proscuitto wrapped melon, salty crisps, sushi, puff pastry bites, buttery lobster all came to mind.

Cellaring: No need to wait for a special occasion – uncork now!

Fielding Estate Rock Pile 2011 Pinot Gris VQA, $24.95

There is a distinct pile of stones in the Jack Rabbit Flats Vineyard that marks a mature block of Pinot Gris vines, planted nearly 20 years ago. Although the vines are low-yielding they are carefully hand-picked which results in a wine full of character.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This golden hued baby was reminiscent of tropical fruit; peaches, pears, bananas, pineapple and was unlike any other Pinot Gris’s we have tasted in the past.  There is alot happening in the medium body wine that sip after sip brought more to the surface and the crisp acidity brought out lemon-lime flavours. The wine is slightly off-dry with an aftertaste of butterscotch that reminded one Savvy sommelier of luscious icing covered Turkish delight candy on the finish. We urge you not to serve this beauty too cold since the flavours open up like a flower after it has sat for awhile. Take it from the fridge about 15 minutes prior to serving – simply yummy!

Suggested Food Pairing: There were umpteen food ideas that came to mind to the point we were all getting hungry!  There is enough body in the wine to handle grilled pork tenderloin with a fruit salsa, plank salmon, or a summer salad with seafood. The flavours make it so versatile that we even thought it would even be delicious with lemon meringue pie. Definitely a wine for all seasons.

Cellaring: Again…no reason to wait. Drink now or within the next two years.

Fielding Estate Meritage 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 
$34.95

(regularly $59.95 – a special discount for Savvy Selections subscribers)

A red Meritage is made from a blend of at least two or more varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, or Petit Verdot with no varietal comprising more than 90% of the blend. In this Meritage, the components of the final blend were vinified separately following eighteen months aging in barrels on lees (winespeak for the grape skins) then selected through a series of tastings and trial blends. It is no surprise this wine received GOLD MEDAL 2009 – Canadian Wine Awards (ranked best red blend in Canada).

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: After one sip, we all looked at each other and went “ummmmmm”, oh my where to start. This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc sifts aromas of chocolate, warm spices, black plums almost reminiscent of Christmas cake. The velvety silky texture coats the inside of the mouth with fine tannins and luscious dark berry flavours. This full bodied wine is concentrated and complex that finishes with the above flavours plus a hint of coffee and caramel.

Suggested Food Pairings: Prime rib roast beef, beef tenderloin, baby back ribs, steak topped with blue cheese and horseradish all come to mind. It is definitely a red meat wine.

Cellaring: Enjoy now and will drink best 2012 to 2018. Decant in its youth.

 

~RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS~

 

For this month’s selection of recipes we decided to offer you something different …

When the Savvy Sommeliers finally decided on which wines to feature (it was a difficult decision), one said the selected wines would be ideal to serve at a dinner party.

Depending on the size of your dinner party you may want to have more than one bottle of each, but we all thought that the following recipes would make a fabulously elegant dinner party, many of the dishes can be prepared ahead.

We hope you agree and would be thrilled with your feedback.

With Fielding Sparkling Riesling …

Parmesan Crisps

From the kitchen of Savvy Sommelier Julie



There are so many versions of this recipe but nothing could be simpler, or more delicious to match with this sparkling wine. The fruity bubbles in the wine compliment the saltiness in the cheese and just send you back nibbling for more. I sometimes serve them a little red pepper jelly on the side.
A perfect hors d’oeuvres – beware, folks inhale these!

Ingredients
1-1/12 cups of grated Parmesan depending how many crisps you would like to make.
Should yield about 20 small crisps.

Method
Preheat often to 400 degrees and put a heaping tablespoon of the Parmesan onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I would space the spoonfuls about an inch apart.

Bake about 8 minutes or check them after 5 and they should be just slightly golden.

With Fielding Rock Pile Pinot Gris …

Arugula & Hazelnut Salad

www.chatelaine.com

Ingredients
2 Tbsp (30 mL) white-wine vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each dried thyme leaves and salt
Pinch of granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) olive oil
1/4 cup (50 mL) snipped chives
3 pink grapefruits or tangerines
1 fennel bulb
12 cups baby arugula
6 slices of prosciutto (optional)
3/4 cup (175 mL) toasted hazelnuts

Method

In a bowl, whisk vinegar with Dijon, garlic, thyme, salt and sugar. Slowly whisk in oil and stir in chives.

Cut off the top and bottom of grapefruits then slice off and discard remaining peel, including all white pith. Carefully slice segments out, leaving membrane that separates them behind. Set segments aside and discard membrane.

Trim the feathery fronds from fennel and discard the core & slice fennel into thin strips.

Place arugula, grapefruit segments and fennel in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing. Toss to mix. Divide between plates.

Tear prosciutto and scatter overtop. Sprinkle with hazelnuts.

If making ahead, prepare dressing, fennel and nuts. Dressing will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week. Cover and refrigerate grapefruit and fennel up to 1 day. Store nuts in an airtight container up to 1 week.

With Fielding Meritage …

Recipe #1 – To serve with the Main Course

Rib Roast with Garlic Mustard Rub

Bonnie Stern’s Friday Night Dinners 

Serves 10

TIP: Use a meat thermometer to make sure the roast is cooked to medium-rare. (Don’t take a chance after paying so much for such a gorgeous roast).

Ingredients
1/4 cup (50 mL) Dijon mustard
2 tbsp (25 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped fresh rosemary; or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh thyme, or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried
1 tbsp (15 mL) kosher salt
1 tbsp (15 mL) pepper
1 6-lb (3 kg) standing rib roast, boneless rib boast or strip sirloin roast
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3/4 cup (175 mL) dry red wine
1 cup (250 mL) beef stock

Method

In a small bowl, combine mustard, oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and smear roast all over with mustard rub.  Then place in a shallow roasting pan, fast side up. 

Roast meat in a preheated 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) over for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and continue to roast for 1 1/4 to 2 hours, or until a meat thermometer reaches 130 degrees F (55 degrees C) for medium-rare.

Transfer roast to a cutting board and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

While roast is resting, place roasting pan on stove over medium-high heat and skim off fat.  Then add shallots and wine and cook until reduce to 2 tbsp (25 mL) and add stock and cook until reduced to a 1/2 cup (125 mL).

To carve, remove string from roast and cut off bones in one piece by cutting between meat and bones. Cut bones apart and serve with meat (to guests who want them the most!). Turn roast over on carving board so it is sitting boned side down and carve into slices. Spoon juices over roast when serving.

I would also serve some simple green beans or snap peas and mashed potatoes with the roast. To make it extra dressy, try the yorkshire puddings (below).

Individual Yorkshire Puddings

Yorkshire pudding is a traditional accompaniment for roast beef, and many people can’t do without it.

Method

Place muffin pan in oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Meanwhile, combine 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) all-pupose flour and 1 tsp (5 ml) kosher salt in a large bowl.In a second bowl, whisk 11/2 cups warm milk (or soy milk) with 3 eggs and whisk into flour mixture. Do not overmix or worry about little lumps.

Brush hot muffin pan with roast dripping and spoon about 1/4 cup (50 mL) batter into each cup.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until puffed and browned. Serve hot. (You can also bake the batter in mini muffin pans. Use 2 tbsp / 25 mL batter per cup and bake for 25 minutes). Makes 12 puddings.

 

Recipe #2 – To serve with Dessert course along with a glass of Meritage …

Bittersweet Chocolate Terrine

From the kitchen of Savvy Sommelier Patti

Ingredients
14oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup    plus 2 tbsp. Unsweetened cocoa
5 tbsp.strong espresso coffee (cooled)
2 tbsp. brandy
6 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream chilled

One loaf pan, 8½” x 4½” x 3”, greased and lined with baking parchment
Heat oven to 325 degrees

Method

Put the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl with the cocoa and coffee. Set over a pan of barely simmering water and melt gently, stirring frequently.  Once it has melted, remove the bowl from the heat, stir in the brandy and let cool.

Meanwhile put the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until frothy. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is pale and very thick.

In another bowl, whip the cream until it holds a soft peak. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the chocolate mixture into the eggs. When combined, fold the whipped cream in.Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, then stand the pan in a bain-marie.Bake in a preheated oven at 325 for about 1 hour to 1 ¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the center of the mixture comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the bain-marie for about 45 minutes, then lift the pan out of the bain-marie and leave until completely cold. Chill overnight then turn out.

Serve dusted with confectioner’ sugar or alternately prepare a bittersweet chocolate ganache and smooth over entire surface.Store, well wrapped in refrigerator.


Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

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Palatine Hills Estate Winery

Posted by Susan

Thursday, August 30th, 2012
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Palatine Hills Estate Winery
– July 2012 –

 

John Neufeld and his wife Barbara are the proud owners of Palatine Hills Estate Winery, named after a local gristmill dating back to the late 1700s. John, a history buff, has created a display case of small artifacts from the War of 1812, found on the farm that holds a prominent place in the tasting area. This year is the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and John is leading the charge to commemorate the war in Niagara. He has created two wines called ‘1812’ – a Merlot/Cabernet and a Chardonnay, that have become the official wines of the bicentennial celebration. Approachable, appealing and affordable, these wines are available in the LCBO. In fact, they were the official wines of the recent royal visit of Charles and Camilla. A percentage of the sales proceeds goes to support local historical societies staging 1812 commemorative events. And if that weren’t enough, these commerative wines are being served on all Via Rail trains.

John and Barbara purchased their property in 1972, and set about converting it from a fruit orchard to a vineyard. With 140 acres under vine, their focus is on vitis vinifera grape varietals, such as the Cabernets, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, along with some hybrid varietals such as Vidal. John explains, “producing grape juice for local winemakers, as well as bulk wine has always been and will remain part of our business”. His grape juice and wine finds its way to Québec and Nova Scotia, as well as to the northern United States. His venture into winemaking was serendipitous – with an excess of icewine juice in 1998, John and Barbara decided to try their hand at winemaking. Their first attempt at icewine won Wine of the Year at the 2003 Ontario Wine Awards! Just like that Palatine Hills was on the map. When our Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins asked during the interview which he was going to be – grape grower or a winemaker – John shared that he would go his own way. “I like to make my own decisions, so decided I would be a winemaker, and continue my business of producing grape juice and bulk wine”. As demand for this award-winning icewine sky-rocketed, a tasting room was hastily created and Palatine Hills Estate Winery opened its doors in 2003. In 2006, the winery was named Canadian Icewine Producer of the year.

The winery has come a long way since then – Susan recalls that her first sampling of Cabernet Sauvignon icewine was at the modest tasting room and the icewine is still as luscious as ever! Now the winery produces 35,000+ cases of wine, including fabulous reds such as the 2007 ‘Proprietors Reserve’ Merlot, recently awarded gold and best red wine at 2012 Cuvée (the Academy Awards of the Ontario wine industry).

It was a difficult task indeed to choose three wines—so, we haven’t! Yes, they are all that good, and great value. In your Savvy Selections, you will find:
Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2011 – suave & satiny
Cabernet Franc VQA 2010 – a well-rounded red wine
Meritage VQA 2010 – a full-on wine layered with delicious complexities.

Some of the subscribers added the luscious Gewürztraminer VQA 2010, elegant mouth filling Chardonnay VQA 2010, and the ‘bring me to the BBQ’ mid-weight Cab/Merlot VQA 2010. And you can’t forget Romeo – the Pinot Noir Sparkling. If you would like more of your favorite Palatine Hills wine, simply call on me to arrange a delivery as you won’t find these wines at the LCBO!

Cheers & Enjoy!
Debbie & Savvy Team
613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)



Palatine Hills Estate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

After 40 years on this property, and many years as the Chair of the Ontario Grape Growers, John Neufeld is at ease discussing all aspects of the business at Palatine Hills. “The property is what’s known as Vineland clay loam, from sandy loam to light stony clay. It offers excellent drainage and allows the roots to penetrate deeply, creating very vigorous vines. We use the Scott Henry training system (cordons are trained horizontally along wires) to control vigor and reduce shading. Shoot positioning and leaf removal are used to maximize sunlight, with a focus in on creating flavour intensity.” If this is too technical for your liking, you can be assured that one thing is for certain, John is a highly respected grape grower.

Learning more about the War of 1812

When asked about the ‘1812’ wines, a twinkle appears in John’s eye. ‘When I found artifacts on the property, my interest in War of 1812 piqued.” For me to learn more, I delved into a recent article in The Globe & Mail that provided me a history lesson, explaining how the war started, in June 1812, when the Americans declared war against Great Britain. The British had established a blockade, preventing U.S. ships from reaching French ports during the Napoleonic wars, while the Americans were threatening to take territory from the British and to drive them out of North America. Canada became the theatre for this war, which included skirmishes and engagement over 2 ½ years and stretched along Lakes Erie and Ontario and up the St. Lawrence to Montreal. The G&M article highlights significant events of the war: “Sir Isaac Brock led English Canada and its native allies to victory [over the Americans] at Queenston Heights in 1812. Charles de Salaberry did the same for French Canada at Châteauguay, near Montreal, in 1813.” And some claim this war helped create a national identity and led to the Canada we know today.

Back to the wine …

While John focuses on growing the best possible fruit in the vineyard, Jeff Innes (left), who joined Palatine Hills as winemaker in 2010, focuses on a subtle winemaking process that is creating award-winning wines. After tasting a dozen wines, mostly from the 2010 vintage, Jeff’s wines have a distinctive style characterized by incredibly satiny textures, outstanding balance and the very subtle use of oak.

Jeff’s father wandered into the tasting room as we began sampling the red wines. He commented, “I’ve always loved being an amateur winemaker and entering my wines into various competitions.” This interest and dedication to his craft rubbed off on his son, who helped his dad from a young age. “My career started at Reif Estates, and from there I went to Vineland Estates. I was also involved in the first vintages for Harbour Estates and Peninsula Ridge. I eventually joined Harbour Estates as winemaker in 2000, then went down to Georgia to Three Sisters Vineyard for a year—yes, there is at least one vineyard in Georgia! I came back to Canada in 2003 and took on the role of winemaker at The Grange of Prince Edward, where I worked until joining Palatine Hills.”  Jeff’s dad says under his breath, “He’s far outstripped me now!”

When asked about influences on his career – other than his dad! – Jeff immediately mentions Brian Schmidt, the winemaker at Vineland Estates. “He has been my mentor for years, and helped me map out my career path. In fact, he’s still my sounding board!”  Brian’s mentoring coupled with the various work experiences have strongly influenced Jeff’s approach to winemaking. “A good varietal wine shows off the true character of the grape, and maintains that character through the aging process. Blends, for me, are all about balance and texture—when you taste the wine, you want the flavours to coat the palate and to maintain their consistency through the finish.”

Smooth as silk

Jeff’s great passion for his craft and his very hands-on approach to the winemaking process comes through as we taste the wines. Not only does he respect the traditions of old-world winemaking, he looks to meld those traditions with new technology and techniques, and to optimize the quality of the wine from the vineyard to your glass. A good example is the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, where he has used subtle oaking with a combination of one new and several neutral barrels on optimally ripened fruit from an outstanding vintage to create an incredibly flavourful, silky wine. He laughs and says “I think you’ve defined my style!”

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!


~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~


Neufeld Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011 VQA, $18.00

Jeff held his breath as we tasted this wine . . . then let us in on the secret. Sixty percent of the wine was barrel fermented – only one new barrel was used, the balance 5+ years seasoned – while 40% was fermented in stainless steel. Subtly handled oak provides the lovely satiny texture.|

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Offering attractive aromas of new-mown hay, tropical fruit and citrus, this fabulous wine caresses the palate with its suave, satiny texture. Crisp yet round, with flavours of passion fruit, tangerine and lemon-lime, it has a vibrant fresh finish with just a touch of butterscotch.

Suggested Food Pairing: There’s weight here for chicken or pork, or a spinach salad with goat cheese and grilled shrimp.

Cellaring: No need to wait! You’ll want to open this wine right now!

Neufeld Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2010 VQA, $19.95

Displaying the rich well-ripened fruit and intense extraction of the vintage, this savoury Cabernet Franc was initially barrel-aged for 10 months. Jeff explains, “For this varietal wine, my assistant and I tasted each barrel, then chose select barrels for further aging in French and American oak (50/50).”

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Inky and perfumed, the notes of lavender and violet mingle with mixed berry fruit, vanilla and smoke. Dry, medium-full bodied, this well-rounded wine offers complexity of flavours–black cherries and berries, pepper, sweet spice, black olive and coffee bean. Subtly structured, lively, there’s great presence on the palate and a fruity, peppery finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Grilled lamb chops or a rare steak would be a good match. Given the War of 1812 theme, we couldn’t resist sharing the ‘Going into Battle Lamb Stew’ recipe!

Cellaring:  Enjoy now or cellar 3-5 years.

Neufeld Vineyard Meritage 2010 VQA, $29.95

The grape varieties for this intense classic blend (the Cabernets and Merlot) were aged separately in seasoned and neutral French and American oak (80/20) for 10 months, blended, then finished a further 6 months in oak.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Garnet hued, this outstanding blend offers layered aromas and flavours. Think dark fruit, smoke, cedar, vanilla and dried herbs. Dry, full bodied, smooth and round in texture, yet firmly structured, this wine is rich with mouthfilling dark berries and cherries, garnished with hints of sweet spice, pepper, dark chocolate and balsamic. There’s great balance and integration, and a lasting finish tantalizing the palate with notes of dark toast and coffee bean.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve this wine with rare red meats.

Cellaring:  Drinking well now, this wine will cellar 5 to 7 years.

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~

With Palatine Hills Sauvignon Blanc …

Orzo Salad with Grilled Veggies & Shrimp

Food & Drink Magazine

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1 red onion
2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 red pepper, quartered
1 yellow pepper, quartered
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb jumbo raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 cup orzo pasta
3 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 clove garlic, mined
Pinch hot pepper flakes (or Tabasco sauce)
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp each chopped fresh mint & basil
Salt & pepper to taste

Method

  1. Cut onion into 6 wedges; place in a large bowl. Add zucchini, peppers & 2 Tbsp oil. Place on a greased grill over medium-high heat and grill, turning once, for about 10 minutes or until golden and tender-crisp. Remove to cutting board and when cool enough, chop into bite-size pieces & place in large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling salted water, cook orzo for about 8 minutes or until tender but firm. Drain & rinse & drain. Then add to grilled veggies.
  3. Toss shrimp with 1 Tbsp oil, 1 Tbsp of parsley, garlic & hot pepper flakes. Place on greased grill over medium-high heat & grill, turning once, for about 5 minutes or until firm & pink. Add to bowl.
  4. Whisk together remaining oil & parsley, white wine vinegar, mint, basil, salt & pepper to taste. Pour over salad & toss to combine.

 

With Palatine Hills Cabernet Franc …

Going into Battle Lamb Stew

Lorin Cook, from San Jose Mercury News

Serves 6

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil, or more as needed
6 slices bacon, diced
Salt & pepper to taste
½ cup flour
2 lb. boneless leg of lamb, trimmed & cut into 1” pieces
1 medium onion, sliced
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 C red wine
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp horseradish mustard
6 small red potatoes, peeled
3 small carrots, cleaned & sliced
½ C cranberries
1 C dried plums

Method

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat, then cook diced bacon until almost crisp. Remove to plate, leaving bacon fat in pot.
  2. Combined flour, pepper, salt in large bowl. Add lamb & toss to coat.
  3. Add an additional tsp of oil, if needed, to the bacon fat, and brown the lamb on all sides. Add onion, mushrooms, garlic & wine.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, oregano & mustard; stir well. Pour over stew. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat, cover & simmer for 1 ½ hours.
  5. Add cooked bacon, potatoes, carrots, cranberries & plums to the pot. Cover & simmer 2-3 hours more, or until tender. Serve on a bed of wild rice.



With Palatine Hills Meritage …

Grilled Sirloin of Beef

A Matter of Taste, Lucy Waverman & James Chatto

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 boneless sirloin steak (~3 lbs.), 2” thick, trimmed
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp dry seasoning rub

Dry Rub (combine ingredients):
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp kosher salt

Garnish:
1 bunch arugula, trimmed
1 C finely chopped red onions
1 ¼ C finely chopped parsley
1 Tbsp fleur de sel or kosher salt
1 Tbsp cracked peppercorns

Method

  1. Brush steak with oil on both sides & sprinkle rub over. Grill beef over high heat for 10 minutes. Turn and continue to grill for 5-10 minutes longer for medium-rare, or until steak reaches desired degree of doneness.
  2. Place steak on a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes. Carve steak against grain into thin slices.
  3. Fan beef slices on a serving platter over bed of arugula & sprinkle with onions, parsley, fleur de sel & peppercorns. Serve with grilled mushrooms & potatoes.

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

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Run, don’t walk to the LCBO & stock up on this wine

Posted by Eva

Monday, July 30th, 2012
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Using only grapes grown on their property, the Mavety family has been growing grapes in the Okanagan for over 40 years – true pioneers! For the first 21 years, they supplied premium grapes to commercial wineries when finally the allure of producing quality wines inspired them to craft their own label – Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars –  in 1991. The family has not looked back since!

Today, on their 31-hectare estate, they make limited quantities of complex wines from noble varietals including Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay — the same varietals found in the Champagne, Burgundy and Alsace regions of France.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Blue Mountain Chardonnay VQA 2010, British Columbia

LCBO # 350108
$23.95

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This is a beautifully crafted wine made with Chardonnay grapes that half have been aged in oak while the other half was aged in stainless steel tanks. The result is a medium bodied white wine with a combo of buttered popcorn, warm spices & a zippy long finish. Reminds me of a dense pound cake or a flaky croissant.  Easy drinking & round in the mouth. Each sips begs you to come back for more.  This wine will go down too easily, so get two bottles & save yourself the disappointment when you reach the bottom of the bottle.

Suggested Food Pairing: A great match for BBQed pork tenderloin or a heavy fish – tuna or swordfish steaks.

 

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Go on – Uncork a bottle of Malbec today!

Posted by Debbie

Monday, April 16th, 2012
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Today marks Malbec World Day – how to celebrate you ask. . .

Shall we start the day with a glass or Malbec with a bowl of breakfast cereal or a hearty plate of eggs & bacon?  And another glass (or maybe upgrade to a bottle) served with lunch, then finish off by uncorking a bottle of Malbec to accompany a BBQ steak dinner?  This idea of around the clock Malbec drinking, made many giggle & come up with wild & crazy ideas to celebrate.  To kick the festivities off & to learn first hand more about Malbec in Argentine, I attended in a tutored tasting last week with Ottawa Citizen’s wine writer& author Rod Phillips.

My place setting awaited 18 glasses of various wines from Argentina – Torrontes & Chardonnay (white wines) along with 5 Malbecs with prices ranging from $12 to $27 a bottle.  Then we had a taste of Shiraz/Syrah, Bonarda, Pinot Noir & red wine blends to give the tasting a POW at the end.  The 2 hours flew by & my mind was buzzing with Malbec facts that I looked forward to share.

For the past two years, Malbec World Day has marked the calendars on April 17th.  To celebrate in Argentine style, there are festivities all around the world hosted by Wines of Argentina.

I know no other grape that has a dedicated day that shines the spotlight on it.  Malbec  began its history as a grape variety grown in Cahors, France, then was uprooted because of the phloxerra insect that decimated many vineyards in Europe in the late 1800s.  Luckily, the Malbec  rootstock that the European immigrants brought with them on their journey to Argentina, were not infected by the bug that attacked the roots of grape vines.

Today, Malbec is Argentina’s iconic grape variety, although, it is now grown in many vineyards throughout the world – even as close to home as Niagara-on-the-Lake!  There are over 564, 000 acres of vineyards dedicated to Malbec stretching along the Andes Mountain Range from 22 to 42 degrees latitude. This region has great ripening conditions with its continuous stream of sunshine during the day (ideal for ripening) , then cooler nights (perfect to produce acidity in the grape clusters).  This combination of ripe red & black fruit in the aromas & taste coupled with soft tannins with underlying acidity, makes for a crowd pleasing wine.

The wines we sampled during this tutored tasting certainly pleased me!  Here are my tasting notes about the various Malbec we discovered:

Manos Negras Malbec 2008, $14.95
(LCBO part number #271295)
A basic Malbec with juicy aromas on the nose (cherry, raspberry jam). There is good structure in this Malbec with a taste of cinnamon hearts candy.

Catena Malbec 2009, $19.95
(LCBO part number 478727)
Big juicy with loads of aromas of damsom plum boysenberry + pomegranate that continue into the taste.

Dominio del Plata Ben Marco Malbec 2009
(only available on request from winery representative, $27.00)
My hands down favorite.  A BIG wine.  Dry with loads of tannins, aromas that remind me of a big bouquet of red roses.  Layered onto the wine is licorice + plums that continue into their taste.  Too bad this wine is not readily available at the LCBO.

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2009
(LCBO part number #723478, $19.95)
From the infamous Fuzion fame, Zuccardi family has made a slightly lighter styled Malbec  compared to the others I savoured. On your first sip, there is evidence that the wine has light tannins, black pepper aromas with a refreshing acidity that ends with black pepper finish.

Rutini Malbec 2009
See for yourself if you like this style of Malbec wines. Lighter again in weight compared to the other Malbecs that we sampled in this tasting.  The glass wafts of cherry & red berry aromas with light tannins & shorter finish.

After all of these Malbec wines, plus the other wines that were included in the 18 wines we sampled, no doubt our lips & teeth were ‘naturally coloured’ a shade of deep purple.  Want more info Malbec tips?  Contact me + I will offer you more Argentine recommendations from this delicious wine tasting.

However you celebrate it, Happy Malbec World Day.

Salud! – Debbie

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Wines for fabulous Easter feasts

Posted by Susan

Thursday, March 29th, 2012
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Easter weekend follows this LCBO Vintages release & offers some excellent choices for a springtime brunch or dinner along with a small selection of Ontario wines to serve with your meal. For brunch, or just to celebrate, there’s a range of sparkling wines available, from a Grand Millésime Champagne, to an appealing South African Blanc de Blanc Brut and a classic extra dry Prosecco. Main courses at this festive time often include turkey, ham or lamb & there’s a choice of Chardonnay, such as First Press or Amayna, or Yalumba’s Viognier to go with your roast turkey or glazed ham, or split the difference with Zuccardis Chardonnay/Viognier blend.

If you’re a red wine lover, try the Oregon or Chilean Pinot Noir with these lighter meats. Should lamb be your choice, consider the range of red wines available, including Cabernet Sauvignon from California, a well-priced Merlot-dominated Bordeaux, a Bonarda from Argentina or a fine Tempranillo from Spain. Looking for something really special – choose Domaine Galevan’s outstanding Châteauneuf-du-Pape, or the Terre Nere Brunello di Montalcino.

And for dessert, don’t miss that unique Italian dessert wine crafted from air-dried grapes, aged years in barrel and released just in time for Easter, Sorelli Vinsanto del Chianti Classico. Want to ‘go local’ for your Easter celebration? On the lighter side consider a crisp, fresh unoaked Chardonnay from Fielding Estates or the versatile Tawse ‘Sketches’ Rosé. If you’re looking for a weightier offering, then choose the juicy structured Pinot Noir 2007 from Château des Charmes or the warm well balanced Vintage Ink Merlot-Cabernet.

Rejoice in the early spring weather, as the crocuses poke their heads up to take in those warm early rays of sunshine—and hope that the vines don’t start to leaf out just yet!


Cheers & Enjoy! – Susan




If I only had $100, I would buy …
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, March 31, 2012


 

Tenuta S. Anna ‘Extra Dry’ Prosecco n/v

DOC Prosecco, Italy
$15.95 (Vintages #169128) 11.5% alcohol

Offering a fine frothy persistent mousse, this is a lovely crisp Prosecco that delivers an outstanding balance of crisp fresh fruit flavours—apple, pear and lemon-lime to the fore—and a bright invigorating texture. The finish is clean, long lasting and refreshing. Match this classic to another—prosciutto and melon. An excellent value, pick up a few bottles to enjoy with friends.



Tawse ‘Sketches’ Rosé 2011
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

$15.95 (Vintages #172643) 12.5% alcohol
Charming salmon pink, this perennial favourite is produced from a blend of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Gamay. An appealing fresh floral note and cherry/berry aromas rush from the glass. Dry, medium bodied, deftly balanced, it’s clean, fruity and lively on the palate, the red fruit and juicy texture offering a delightfully tasty, crisp and flavourful finish. Sip away! 



Zuccardi ‘Serie A’ Chardonnay/Viognier 2010

Mendoza, Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages #262097) 13.5% alcohol

This finely crafted award winner offers tempting aromas—floral, stone fruit, mineral and citrus. Dry, ample and round, it’s well balanced and flavourful, fresh acidity and minerality balancing orchard fruit and citrus zest, notes of spice-infused toast lingering on the extended finish. An excellent value and a good choice for Easter dinner.


Hecht & Bannier Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2008

AOC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, France
$22.95 (Vintages #142802) 15.0% alcohol


This blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Syrah offers depth of colour and of flavours. There’s complexity on the nose—smoke, herbal and floral aromas, a mineral component and rich dark fruit. An intriguing wine that brings you back for another taste, it’s subtly structured and satiny in texture, showcasing dark fruit and enticingly complex flavours of herbs, toast and tangy pepper. It finishes dry and tantalizing. Pick up a few bottles to enjoy now and to sample over the next few years.



Finca Sobreño Crianza 2008

DO Toro, Spain
$17.95 (Vintages #40360) 14.5% alcohol


This Tempranillo is an excellent value, whether to enjoy now or in the future. Deep ruby garnet, it’s produced from hand-harvested grapes from the producer’s oldest vineyards and aged in American oak. It entices with aromas of cedar, balsamic, sweet ripe dark fruit and subtle floral notes. Dry, medium-full bodied, structured and robust, the perceptible tannins and lively acidity are a match for the ripe fruit, exotic spice and notes of espresso roast. The lasting finish is warm and spicy. Enjoy with roasted stuffed peppers, or a classic paella.


Grand Total: $87.75



Worth the splurge:
An outstanding cellar-worthy Châteauneuf-du-Pape . . .


Galévan Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009

AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France
$41.95 (251603) 14.5% alcohol

This is quite a striking Châteauneuf from winemaker Coralie Goumarre, whose Rhône blend ‘Paroles de Femme’ was featured in an earlier Vintages release. Grenache forms the base, with Mouvèdre and Syrah in support for this dry, full bodied and earthy wine. The nose is autumnal in character—forest floor, mushroom, herbs. The palate is structured with perceptible tannins, fresh acidity and compelling flavours of cherry/berry fruit, plum, herbs, spice and cocoa. Weighty yet fresh on the finish, it’s a match for rich roast meat dishes and will cellar medium term.

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Spanish Flavour Fiesta & Sparkling Wines

Posted by Susan

Thursday, March 15th, 2012
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Hola España! If you enjoy Spanish wines, you’ll want to pay particular attention to the March 17 LCBO Vintages release. Included are a range of styles and varietals, including vibrant Albariño from Rías Baixas on the Atlantic, lively Verdejo from Rueda, Mencia from Bierzo and Monastrell from the plateaux of Almansa and Jumilla. There are also Tempranillo-based wines from the classic denominations of Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Almost all of these wines are under $20, many of them aged several years, offering great value.

As an example, the Cerro Añon Reserva blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano is from the 2005 vintage, the Vega Sauco Adoremus Tempranillo from the 2004 vintage. A younger wine such as the Olivares Altos de la Hoya Monastrell is a steal at $13.95.

Pick up the Vintages catalogue for suggested food matches to some of Spain’s signature grapes! If you enjoy the classic style of dry sparkling wine, produced using Pinot Noir and/or Chardonnay in what is known as the ‘Traditional Method’ (a precise measure of still wine, sugar and yeast is added during bottling, kick-starting the second fermentation in bottle, after which the wine rests on the lees and acquires yeasty, toasty notes), the secondary feature will be of interest. The selection ranges from Heidsieck Champagne through the Okanagan’s See Ya Later Ranch Brut, to the very tasty South African Graham Beck Brut sparkling. If you’re into pink, choose the Lefèvre Rémondet Crémant Rosé from Burgundy, Mumm Napa’s Sparkling Rosé, or Niagara’s G. Marquis Ice Rosé kissed with a touch of Cab Franc ice wine.

There are some unique, iconic wines in this release, including the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, the Bordeaux-style red blend Opus One by Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Concha & Toro’s Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvginon, Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and my absolute favorite, the Quintarelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2002. Released following the death of its legendary winemaker Giuseppe Quintarelli earlier this year, it’s not to be missed. Among the Canadian wines, Flat Rock’s Twisted white wine is always fresh and flavourful, Henry of Pelham’s Barrel Fermented Chardonnay is a well-crafted value, and the Aces Okanagan Seven Deuce Red is substantial and tasty—and entertaining!

Cheers and Enjoy,
Susan

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, March 17, 2012


See Ya Later Ranch
Brut n/v

VQA Okanagan Valley, B.C.
$20.95 (Vintages #271049) 12.5% alcohol
Here’s a very nice value from the south-central Okanagan, a well-crafted sparkler also produced using the traditional method. Dry, medium bodied, it’s fresh with aromas of grilled grapefruit, floral notes and a hint of nut. The nutty note replays on the dry, medium-bodied palate, fine mousse offering a clean fresh texture and carrying attractive flavours of citrus and orchard fruit through an extended, lively finish. Pick up a few bottles to celebrate spring!

Lefèvre Rémondet Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé n/v
AOC Bourgogne, France
$15.95 (Vintages #265306) 12.0% alcohol
You can’t go wrong with this great value from Burgundy. The color of fresh cranberry juice, it offers appealing clean aromas of red berry fruit and lightly-grilled toast. The mousse is fine and delicate, fresh red fruit flavours crisp and bright—think cranberry, pie cherry and red currant. It finishes tangy, crisp and fruity. What’s not to like—stockpile a few bottles for casual gatherings.

Cerro Añon Reserva 2005
DOCa Rioja, Spain
$18.95 (Vintages #114306) 14.0% alcohol

Principally Tempranillo, this blend displays its lengthy oak aging with notes of vanilla, sandalwood and toast adorning red and black berries. Dry, medium-full bodied, plush and lively fruit wraps around still-perceptible tannins and fresh acidity, nuances of vanilla and sweet spice adding complexity. Charry toasty notes persist on the lasting dry yet fruit-filled finish. A substantial wine crafted for long-term cellaring, offering excellent value.

Wakefield Shiraz 2009
Clare Valley, Australia$17.95 (Vintages #943787)) 14.0% alcohol
From one of Australia’s first families of wine, this is a dry, substantial wine showcasing a subtle yet defined structure. Fragrant with ripe berries, spice, pepper and vanilla, the texture is tangy with fresh acidity, ripe tannins creating a clean frame for the spice-infused dark fruits washing across the palate and through the toasty finish. You’ll want a few bottles of this award-winning wine to enjoy now and to cellar medium term.

Quinta Nova Pomares 2009
DOC Douro, Portugal
$16.95 (Vintages #214007) 13.5% alcohol

Semi-transparent ruby, this attractive blend of classic Port grapes features high-toned aromas and flavours of red fruit, spice, dried herbs and vanilla. Dry, medium bodied, the impact on the palate is lively and fresh, the texture is appealingly silky, the tannins sleek and subtle, the finish tangy and refreshing. A well crafted wine that offers good value, drinking well now and cellarable short term.

Grand Total: $90.75


Worth the splurge: An iconic wine from a legendary producer …


Quintarelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2002

DOC Valpolicella, Italy
$79.95 (986117) 15.0% alcohol

Can a wine engender bliss? If so, this is the one! A decade old, released just after the death of its illustrious winemaker, Giuseppe Quintarelli, this fine garnet wine offers subtlty, elegance, depth and pure tasting joy. On the nose, whispers of leather, earth, evolved fruit, dried cherries, subtle spice and vanilla layer, mingle and merge on the palate. Pure silk, the texture is lush yet remarkably fresh, the tannins supple. There’s a sense of warmth and earthiness, of exquisite integration and balance, and a finish that lasts and lasts. Dinner out or this wine – no contest!

 

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