Posts Tagged ‘fortified wine’

Discover Canada’s REAL Cranberry in The Muskokas

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Looking for a getaway over the weekend?  Try visiting the Muskokas where there’s lots to see & do. Here’s something you might not have thought of….be sure to visit Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh & Muskoka Lakes Winery.  On our fall getaway, my husband & I hit a spot of bad weather & were drowned in over 100 mm of rain, which meant that our planned golf games were cancelled – greens were flooded, beaver dams were giving way there was water everywhere!

Johnston's CranberriesWhat to do when your planned game goes, literally, down the drain? Head for the small hamlet of Bala and find your way to Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Muskoka Lakes Winery.

The marsh is open year round and offers a fascinating walking tour that provides a great education into the production of cranberries, one of Canada’s few native fruits. No, they don’t grow in water.

The ideal cranberry marsh is dug from a peat-based soil with a stream or river nearby. The woody vines, growing low to the ground, are systematically flooded in spring to discourage insects and disease, then the berries grow dry through the summer, with the marsh flooded once again in the fall to float the berries for harvest.

Orville Johnston, who studied agriculture at my alma mater, McGill University, dreamed of a thriving cranberry industry, so he bought ideal land in the Muskokas and dug the first marsh in the late 1950s. His son, Murray, also studied agriculture (at Guelph University) and to this day carries on the cranberry marsh tradition with his family.

Muskoka LakesMurray and his wife (her family owned Gooderham and Worts Distillery and her fascination with wine led her to train as a sommelier) established Muskoka Lakes Winery in 2000, with a goal ‘to take locally grown fruit and use traditional methods to craft artisanal wine.’ Their Cranberry and Cranberry Blueberry wines, as well as the Red Maple dessert wine have won awards at the Canadian Wine Championships, and are available at the LCBO.


Cool Cranberry Wines


Muskoka Lakes Cranberry Wine 2013

Canada $15.95 (609701) 9.5% alcohol

Off-dry and fruit forward, this wine is true to its source, with aromas and flavours of lively fresh cranberry. Fermented in stainless to showcase the fruit, it’s light-medium bodied, tangy in texture and zesty through the refreshing finish. With turkey, of course!!


Muskoka Lakes Cranberry Blueberry Wine 2013

Canada $16.95 (609719) 10.5% alcohol

Equal proportions of cranberries and local wild blueberries are fermented together to produce a tangy, off-dry wine that offers a silky texture and fine berry aromas and flavours. It’s crisp and lively, the sweet fruit persisting on the palate, elusive notes of dried herbs and nut lingering on the finish. Slightly chilled this wine is a pleasant sipper but also a great match for roast turkey or chicken.


Muskoka Lakes Red Maple 2012

Canada $23.95 (50039) 15.0% alcohol (375ml)

A fortified wine, this dessert treat adds maple syrup to the cranberry wine after fermentation. The fruit shines through, with interesting notes of smoke, earth and spice. Lush and sweet, it’s fresh in texture, the purity of the cranberry and its zesty acidity shining through. A great marriage of the mouth-filling sweetness of maple and the crisp tartness of cranberry. Enjoy with a chocolate dessert.

Cheers & Enjoy these Muskoka Lakes cranberry wines!




Glossy gift sets arrive at the LCBO

Posted by Julie

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Although Christmas shopping may not be on your agenda, it’s bound to sneak up pretty soon. The LCBO Vintages release for Saturday November 10 features “Holiday Gifting” for the upcoming season. I have to admit when the glossy gift sets appear in the LCBO, it tempts me to at least get started. The duo sets of wine, the huge magnum bottles, champagne in velvet boxes and a car shaped bottle full of grappa; who would not want to receive one of these?

The Vintages “Festive Finds” also showcases lots of spirits, fortifieds, sparklers, desert wines and liqueurs. One fortified that caught my eye and I have featured, is a pink Port, something new and very festive!

The release also features some Italian wines from Piedmont. Just when I thought I’d been introduced to most grape varietals I found a new kid on the block, the Albarossa grape from Piedmont. This grape is a cross between Nebbiolo and Barbera. Nebbiolo often gives flavours of cherries, tar and roses with lots of tannins while Barbera offers intense flavours of blackberries and raspberries so the Regali La Lus Albarossa 2008 (#291575) at $24.95 will be a great wine to pick up and dazzle your wine friends with your new discovery. Wasn’t it Benjamin Franklin that said something about the discovery of new wine is better than the discovery of the constellation since the universe is too full of stars ?  It’s hard not to love these new Italian wines, especially to wash down some spaghetti and meatballs, it’s just that time of year.

With all the gifted giving and new releases, I could practically do all my Christmas shopping at Vintages. Any of these spirits would certainly add some sparkle to my day and at least help me start, or even finish my shopping. I hope you try at least one.
Cheers, Julie

Croft Pink Port

DOC Douro, Portugal
$19.95 (Vintages #1400871) 19.5% alcohol

This is the only pink port in the world. A beautifully luscious deep pink, almost pale cranberry in colour that is so pretty in the glass. The label on the bottle suggests serving it on ice as an aperitif which would make for a yummy start (or finish) to a dinner. It is not overly sweet or syrupy like some Port and was a refreshing surprise with a burst of fresh berries. It’s fruity and generous in the mouthfeel, a little tangy and is a fun fortified that will steal the show. I  confess to exploring their website  and discovered a fabulous desert of Croft Pink Port drizzled over strawberry or raspberry sorbet, finished with grated white chocolate and a few mint leaves – talk about pretty in pink for an easy and elegant desert. I can’t wait for this release and plan to pick up at least one bottle in for the season. I’m already starting to have “pink” moments. It would also be a lovely hostess gift.

Cave de Lugny Brut Rosé, Crémant de Bourgogne

AC,Burgundy,  France
$16.95 (Vintages # 297846)  11.5% alcohol

It is totally coincidental that I was still thinking pink when I chose this sparkling wine but this sparkler is more of a glistening tangerine in colour. It has fine mousssey bubbles with tastes of ripe yellow apples, raspberries and strawberries and just a pinch of toast which is typical of the sparkling Crémants from Burgundy. It is a gentle soft sipper, very food friendly not to mention an elegant start to a dinner party, especially with some salty hors d’oeuvres. Oh my it slips down easily.


Henry of Pelham Family Tree White  2010 VQA
Beamsville Bench,Niagara Peninsula,Ontario,Canada
$18.95 (Vintages #299172) 13% alcohol
The Speck brothers did a great job in producing a family tree signature white wine. With a blend of 44% Chardonnay, 29% Gewurtztraminer, 14% Viognier and 13% Chardonnay Musque, it is very aromatic of white blossoms and a little lychee. All the flavours of the grapes come through in this delicious medium bodied wine. A little pineapple, ripe peaches and pears, bone dry with a little acidity and finishes lemony. The family is no doubt proud – it’s a lovely wine with white meat or fish or just on it’s own.



Camelback Tempranillo/Grenache/Mourvedre 2010

$23.95 (Vintages# 285577) 14.5% alcohol
A bright ruby red blend of 41% Tempranillo, 39% Grenache, and 15% Mourvedre. All the flavours and characteristics of these grapes shine through; sour cherries, a little earthy and musty, medium bodied with flavours of raspberries and plums, slightly acidic, bone dry with soft but noticeable tannins and a little peppery on the finish. There is enough in this wine to cellar for a few years. This would be a great match with a roast of pork and some browned potatoes.


Giacomo Borgogno Barbera D’Alba Superiore 2010

DOC, Piedmont, Italy
$19.95 (Vintages #285486) 13.5% alcohol
Dark plum in colour and black cherries in the aromas were what came through loud and clear. It offers medium-soft tannins, and tastes of brambleberries, blackberries some chocolate and roasted plums. A tad leathery with definite earthy flavours and I got some vegetal strength as well, almost like some green pepper or tomato vine and this is a good thing ! Slightly peppery on the finish and with a spicy sausage lasagna it would make for an great dinner party.

Grand Total: $99.75
For a person that doesn’t like living on the edge, I’m cutting it close.