Posts Tagged ‘Julie Stock Accredited Sommelier’

Wines to warm your winter

Posted by Julie

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Ottawa in February offers many wintery activities but Winterlude is truly our city’s greatest celebration: skating on the canal, viewing the ice sculptures, walking around the market restaurants to taste what the chef’s have specially prepared to celebrate, so that you do not have to waste much time doing routine things like shopping, here is a quick ‘must by list’ of wines available in LCBO Vintages release as of February 16.

This release features heart warming Cabernet red wines, a few  Kosher wines for Passover as well as some Ontario award winning wines.

What is Kosher wine?

I have never written anything on a Kosher wine, but after tasting many delicious Kosher wines in this release, I found myself doing research on Jewish traditions. Familiar with the term “Kosher”, I did not realize that kosher wines must be processed by only Sabbath-observant Jewish males touching the grapes from the crushing phase through to the bottling.

Kosher wines also differ from those made specifically for Passover. These wines must be made from mould (all wines require some mould or yeast) that has not been grown on bread and cannot have any common preservatives such as potassium sorbate. There is also a “P” on the label which means it is meant for Passover.  While I wrote on one Kosher wine below, there is another in this release I really liked called Segal’s Fusion Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon (KPM) 2001 (Israel)  that is made by a former poet, journalist and barman. With all that on his CV, he probably sleeps well at night.

If you too are curious about Kosher wines, this is the time of year when there are many at the LCBO – so pick one up & give it a try!

I won’t be blogging again until April since I am off to work in Shanghai, but I can’t wait to catch up with you again in April.

Cheers to Winterlude…and Happy Passover!



Clay Station Unoaked Viognier 2011

Lodi, California, U.S.A.
$16.95 (Vintages #25411) 13.5% alcohol

I have read that the Viognier grape is somewhat temperamental to grow but am grateful that some winemakers got it right. It has been described similarly to Chardonnay in that it shares tropical fruit flavours and has a creamy mouthfeel. This Viognier is pale golden in colour with tantilizing aromas of blossoms and honey. It is smooth and velvety in texture and oh so deliciously mouthcoating with apricots, mango and a little vanilla and caramel on the after taste. It’s bone dry but with distinct richness in flavour. For the price point, I think it’s spectacular.


Fielding Estate Riesling 2011

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
$18.95 (Vintages #251439) 10.5% alcohol

This Riesling is so deliciously fresh and clean tasting. Lots of citrusy expression with an undermining of minerality and stone, softly textured with subtle fruit flavours and plain lip-smacking good. It is a fabulous afternoon sipper or would be great with spicey chicken, pork chops and of course any fish dish. It’s a very versatile food wine.

Château Cailleteau Bergeron 2010

AC Blaye-Cotes-de-Bordeaux, France
$17.95 (Vintages# 309138) 14% alcohol

This wine won a Gold Medal at the 2012 Concours Général Agricole in Paris! I try not to pick the “already winners”, but write on ones that I think are really good wines. With a blend of 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, !0% Malbec, how could this Bordeaux not be delicious.  Aromas of violets and red ripe berries that follow through on the palet, medium bodied with a little tobacco, soft tannins, and a tad spice are all the yummies that develop in your senses. They persist and make for a really smooth finish.

Five Stones Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (KPM) 2010    *KOSHER

Margaret River, Western Australia Beckett’s Flat
$19.95 (Vintages #157305)  13.5% alcohol

The Five Stones Winery used to be called Beckett’s Flat and has been producing kosher wine since 1998. They are located in the southwest corner of Australia surrounded by three sides of ocean. Their wines are processed without the use of any animal products and under strict kosher supervision, all suitable for Passover and Mevushal.

I just couldn’t spit this wine and had to swallow. If that sounds funny, try tasting over 50 wines in a morning. Sound familiar to any other sommeliers out there?  Blends of dark fruits, blackberries, plum, tobacco, leather  and spice on the nose following through with a harmony of bone dry fruit flavours, soft tannins and oh so drinkable.  Since I am not Jewish I kept wondering if I would be in frowned upon. But it’s a lovely, well-made Cab and I’d be proud to have it on my dining table – regardless of what denomination is comng for dinner.


Fairview Caldera Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedre 2008

WO Coastal Region, Charles Back, South Africa
$22.95 (Vintages #3013330) 14% alcohol

This is another fabulous blend of 50% Grenache (68-70 year old bush vines), 25% Shiraz and 25% Mourvedre aged in old wooden 225-liter barrels. Lots of dark berries and quite peppery that makes it interesting and edgy. Very dry but elegant on the palate with strong blackberry flavours making it quite a rich wine. Would be fabulous with a steak or rack of lamb with some buttery spuds.


Grand Total: $ 96.75




People are talking…about Ontario Wines

Posted by Julie

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

It is no wonder that the world has started to notice Ontario wines. As seen in this week’s release at LCBO Vintages (September 15), we have much to be proud of. The recent count at the end of 2011, there were just over 130 wineries in Ontario.  And I noticed many new wineries in my recent trips to Niagara and Prince Edward County this summer.

And there is a great buzz amongst wine lovers across the province who are being constantly amazed with the wine made in their own backyard.  Read some of these discoveries on or on follow the tweets on #LCBOgoLocal

Most winemakers agree that great wine starts in the vineyard and it’s the soil content that places Ontario wines on the international map. We often see tasting notes on Riesling that mention the zippy minerality in the wine. This is largely due to the soil. Last fall, I spoke at a seminar at the “Taste” festival in Picton and I learned there were over 10 different soil types in Prince Edward County alone. Talk about a challenge for the winemaker.

Ontario wineries produce largely wines made from the Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. With these varietals, sometimes blended with other less known ones,  come some great sparkling wines. The Peller Estate Ice Cuvee Sparkling Rosé, (featured this month at Vintages $35.95) was a winner of a gold Medal at Wine Access 2011 Canadian Wine Awards. Hinterland Winery in Prince Edward County specializes in sparkling wines and most wineries feature a sparkling wine. I recently tasted the Fielding Estates and13th Street “sparklers” which I can only describe as “seriously yummy”.

Niagara’s Stratus Vineyards is the world’s first winery to be given the coveted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green certification. Southbrook Winery’s  “Framboise” can be found at the prestigous Harrods in London, England. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth requested 6 bottles of icewine during her Jubilee Visit to Canada in 2002 from Canada’s Icewine Specialists at the Royal DeMaria Winery in Beamsville.  Ontario produces 75 % of all Canada’s ice wine which can be risky business since production requires the availability of a large enough work force to pick a whole crop within a few hours, often on a moment’s notice.

Niagara’s Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery is Canada’s first fruit winery specializing in wines made from 100% Niagara Peninsula grown tree fruit and berries. We even have a winery that, thanks to its location on Pelee Island, offers a Bird Observatory and another winery that offers tastings in an old caboose, not to mention the one in a converted convent. Many Ontario wineries also have taste-rooms in original homestead barns some of which are architecturally signficant dating back to 1815.

Every year, the serendipity excitment of finding new wine takes me on the Ontario journey. We need not look further than our own backyard. The following wines illustrate that Ontario has it all. I hope you agree.

Cheers and Enjoy,

Cave Spring Estate Bottled Vineyard Chardonnay Musqué VQA 2009

VQA Beamsville Bench,Niagara Peninsula
$15.95 (Vintages #246579) 13% alcohol

This clean refreshing beauty just glistens in the glass. The Chardonnay Musqué is a clone of the Chardonnay grape which means a completely different taste from the latter. While it has aromas of white blossoms, the grapes were vinified in stainless steel that give the wine some grapefruit and green apple flavours. It is slightly off dry, smooth and supple all the way through to the minerally finish. It has solid medium body that could carry you from the appertif to desert, not to mention a thirst quenching sipper on its own.


2027 Falls Vineyard Riesling 2011

VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula
$18.95 (Vintages #294041) 11% alcohol


Pale in colour and almost watery in appearance, my first introduction to Falls Vineyard is a delicious one. I adore a light coloured wine. The Riesling is slightly herbaceous, lots of wet stone flavours that are typical in a Niagara Riesling with that pinch of lemon lime citrus that take your taste buds on a salivating roller coaster. It is light bodied, a lovely end of summer drink to enjoy with a field tomato salad, some coarse salt and a French stick. Get those taste buds moving !



 Lailey Vineyard Chardonnay 2010

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$19.95 (Vintages #193482) 13.5% alcohol

Winemaker Derek Barnett has created an elegant labour of love with this Chard. Think of ripe but crisp yellow apples, a pinch of lemon, a tad buttery but fresh, medium bodied with a slightly caramel finish.  Perfect for some baked or grilled tilapia and asparagus and a little soft artisan cheese to finish. It is a beautifully balanced wine, a good price point for this quality and I would be proud to serve this Chardonnay to anyone. A great all season Chardonnay.

Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2010

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$16.95 (Vintages #64618) 13% alcohol


Nothing like a bright ruby red wine that shows off aromas of sweet and sour cherries. Only 694 cases produced so do grab one while its on the shelf. It is slightly vegetal, red berry flavours, with a hint of green pepper and tobacco with grippy tannins (this is a good thing).  A fabulous bbq wine to have with meaty burgers or kebobs.


Henry of Pelham 2010 Reserve Baco Noir

VQA Ontario
$24.95 (Vintages #461699) 13.5% alcohol

I remember having a prof in Sommelier school that said Baco Noir was only good for making jelly. I wish I could find him now to prove him wrong. The wine is dark and inky with aromas of raspberries, cherries and wood smoke.  Slightly vegetal with ripe chewy tannins that lend interest to the wine and give it a  long lingering finish. Would be fabulous with some sausages or pasta to soak up the bone dry tannins.


Grand Total: $96.75

The Ontario wines from this release were a really hard pick. I could have listed all Chardonnay’s but knew that would be uninteresting for you as the shopper. Who besides me would like a basket of Chardonnay wine?  I also like to showcase as many Ontario wineries as possible and plan to do so again next month. Some may also be from this release to help talk “turkey”.

If you do however happen to win the lottery, I tried an Inniskillin Riesling Icewine ($69.95) that won the 2012 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines and a Gold Medal for Best Vinifera Icewine at the The Lieutenant Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines. The honeyed pear and baked apple flavours with just the perfect balance of acidity was really over the top. I’m trying to think of a special occasion that could warrant such a splurge but there are so many Ontario wines that I want to put in my basket, that one will have to wait.

Happy sipping on the remainder of our summer days and nights. Julie