Posts Tagged ‘VQA’

Chill out with a pink drink!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018
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While the temperatures continue to rise, I think the best way to cool down is with a glass of Rosé wine.  Crisp, dry & refreshing, with loads of floral aromatics & ripe juicy tastes that makes one glass turn into two…then a few more!

Rosé wines are perfect for this time of the year for many reasons – quenches your thirst, easy to drink, low-ish in alcohol (usually 11-12%) and pairs with many summertime foods – especially picnic fare.   Unlike other styles of wine, Rosés can be made with any grapes – a single variety or a blend of many. Winemakers have the liberty to use anything from the vineyard to craft a Rosé wine like an artist creating a masterpiece.

Before the heat wave hits, I round up our team of Sommeliers to sample just released Rosé wines made throughout Ontario.  Usually there are 50 bottles on the table of varying hues of pink made from Shiraz, Gamay, Pinot Noir and Merlot grapes.  There are blends with a splash of Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio too.  It is really safe to say that EVERY Rosé is an expression of the winemaker’s talent.

 

How is Rosé wine made?

It’s all in the skins!  The majority of grapes used in winemaking have a white flesh, so when crushed, the grape juice is white.  The grape skins of red grape varieties – such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc etc – contain a red pigment. After the grapes have been crushed and the juice is collected, the winemaker keeps the skins in with the juice for a few hours or couple of days in order to achieve the colour that they want for the wine.

The next step is to separate the skins from the juice and allow it to ferment into alcohol in a stainless steel tank.  I have yet to come across a Rosé wine that has been barrel aged. All total, Rosé wine takes a few months to make from harvest to bottling.  Whereas red wine takes a few years. Aside: red wine goes through the exactly same winemaking process, yet, the skins are left in the juice for several weeks to extract the full amount of red pigment into the wine.

 

Pro Tips:

*Rosé wines will not get better with age. Rule of thumb: drink before Christmas the year that you bought the wine

*Typically Rosé wines come in a clear bottle so you can enjoy the colour before opening the bottle –don’t leave on the counter, rather in a cool dark place…or better yet in your fridge!

*Chill in the fridge for 20-30 mins before serving….as the Rosé wine warms up, notice how the taste changes too.

*Rosés are not all sweet wines – trust us! (pink Zinfandel from California or those called ‘blush’ are often sweeter)

*Price points are usually $15 – 30

*Real men drink Rosé wines!

According to Bloomberg News, Rosé has surpassed red wine in popularity in France (apparently it’s been outselling white wine since 2008). In the US, sales soared 41% in 2015, meanwhile, Rosé is the fastest growing wine style in Australia….and at our Savvy Taste & Buy event this past April, of the top 5 wines ordered – 3 were Rosé!

Explore the world of Rosés

Go into the LCBO and the shelves will be stocked high of Rosé wines from all over the world.  If you are wondering where to start – try one from Tavel region in France.  The wineries in this small wine region near Provence exclusively make Rosé wines.  Considered the benchmark for many winemakers, a Tavel Rosé is bone dry, crisp with zippy acidity.  From there, explore Rosés from every corner of the wine world.  And be sure to sample some from our own backyard too.

Best ones are made in our backyard…

At Savvy Company, we showcase Canadian wines, here are some that you should be on the lookout for this summer:

13th Street Winery Burger Blend Rosé VQA 2017  – $14.95, Twenty Valley (Niagara Escarpment)

Casa-Dea Estates Winery Cabernet Franc Rosé VQA 2017 – $21.95, Prince Edward County 

Colchester Ridge Estate Winery ‘Red Sky at Night’ Rosé VQA 2017  – $16.95, Lake Erie North Shore

Creekside Estate Pinot Noir Rosé VQA 2017 – $23,  Twenty Valley 

Fielding Estates Winery Rosé VQA 2017 – $15.95, Twenty Valley

Kacaba Vineyard Rebecca Rosé VQA 2017 – $17.95, Beamsville Bench (Niagara)

Lighthall ‘Fence’ Sparkling Rosé VQA 2017 $25, Prince Edward County

Pondview Estate Winery Cabernet Franc Rosé VQA 2017 $16.95, Four Mile Creek (Niagara-on-the-Lake)

Sprucewood Shores Rosé VQA 2016 – $16.95,  Lake Erie North Shore

Two Sisters Vineyards Rosé VQA 2017 – from Twenty Valley (a wine only available for restaurants)

Westcott Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé VQA 2017 – $22.95, Twenty Valley

Westcott Vineyards Delphine Rosé VQA 2017 – $16.95, Twenty Valley

 

Get Rosé wines delivered to your deck, desk or dock!

Again this summer, we will deliver an assortment of Ontario Rosé wines that you can’t get at the LCBO.  That’s right…we’ll pick out the best of the bunch & hand deliver to you.  All you need to do click here to order…then make room in your fridge! Check it out at www.savvycompany.ca/rose

Keep cool & drink pink!

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Ooooooo Canada!

Posted by Julie

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018
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Everyone is gearing up to celebrate Canada Day.  Across the country on July 1 there will be loads of free musical concerts, fireworks, carnivals, on BBQs and outdoor events of all sizes. Those of us spending the long weekend at a cottage, on a sailboat, on a golf course or on the backyard deck, here’s my suggestions on what to drink July 1 – all-Canadian of course!

Did you know…

….that Canada’s first commercial estate winery, Vin Villa, was established on Pelee Island (the southern most wine region in Ontario) in 1866?

….that 6 provinces in Canada have their own wine regions?

…that VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) on a bottle of Ontario or British Columbia wine means that it is the province’s “appellation of origin” system which define the grape-growing regions and set standards for the wines.

 

Let’s pop open some bottles!

The recent Vintages release at the LCBO has several suggestions for Canada Day. I was lucky to sample some & have also included my top picks of the LCBO’s General List products that you can enjoy on Canada Day…and for that matter all year round. My selection will take you from brunch to dinner with choices in between for a burst of invigoration.  Our Canadian wines and beer make us very proud!

Happy Canada Day,

Julie

 

From Nova Scotia…

Benjamin Bridge Nova 7  Sparkling 2016
(LCBO #256289)  $26.95

Aromatic and fresh with soft orchard fruit flavours, this sparkling wine with golden mousse offers lively acidity. Instead of a traditional champagne cork, the screwcap opens like a regular bottle of wine with a treat of effervescence flows into the glass. It is a perfect wine for brunch or mid-afternoon thirst quencher or to serve as an aperitif.  From quiche to seafood, it goes with everything.

 

From British Columbia….

Quail’s Gate Rose 2017
(LCBO #275842)  $19.95

If you like fresh rhubarb & strawberries, this rose wine tastes just like that!  It reminds me of the aromas & taste of the juicy ripe strawberries that have just been picked.  The problem  with this tangy & delicious wine is that it goes down too smoothly. I could sip this summertime wine all afternoon.

 

From Ontari-ari-ariooo…

These outstanding wines are always available & always reliable.

Kacaba Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay VQA
(LCBO #326975)  $15.95

Mea culpa, I always encourage people to try something new but I confess…this is my go-to white wine. Pale in colour, loads of tropical fruit flavours, always crisp, always delivers. As I write this I am already thinking how nicely it will taste with my grilled chicken, some crusty bread and my everything salad for dinner tonight – how Canadian is that ?

 

Trius Sauvignon Blanc VQA
(LCBO #221804)  $15.95 (on sale for Canada Day weekend for $1 off)

If you are a fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, here is a home-grown Sauvignon Blanc that you definitely should to try. Zingy grapefruit, some lemon-lime flavours, it is crisp and light-bodied, a perfect afternoon sipper.  A great price point for this Canadian gem.

 

Featherstone Cabernet Franc VQA
(LCBO #64618)  $19.95

A few months ago I was looking for something different and an LCBO product consultant introduced this red wine to me. (Don’t ever underestimate the knowledge of LCBO consultants) I admit that I hesitated since Cabernet Franc is not a varietal I would normally seek out, however with every sip of this wine, I was NOT disappointed. Slightly floral on the nose, this is an impressive, smooth red wine with generous lively berry flavours.  Medium-bodied, this wine has enough weight to partner with grilled meat but light enough you could easily place it beside grilled salmon.

I’ve long been a fan of Featherstone wines, ever since I visited the winery along the Beamsville Bench (in Niagara) & saw sheep nibbling at the grape leaves in the vineyard.

 

The Foreign Affair Winery – The Conspiracy VQA
(LCBO #149237)  $19.95

This medium-bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc is berry-rich. Made in the Ripasso style (grapes are air dried) increases volume and depth of flavour. It provides absolutely lip smacking goodness with steak or hamburgers, lamb burgers or a rack of ribs – sheer yum.

 

Heading to The County?

For those of you who are lucky to be visiting Prince Edward County on the Canada Day weekend, here’s my tips on where to go, because there are now over 40 picturesque wineries that it is next to impossible to visit them all – even during a long weekend.

Casa-Dea offers a lovely patio for lunch overlooking the vineyards with many of their wines not readily available at the LCBO.

Neighbouring winery, Rosehall Run Vineyards also has some award winners – especially their Pinot Noirs – there are always a collection of medallions hanging around the bottle’s neck.  And down the road there is the stunning country setting of The Grange Winery. This former cannery is one of the first wineries in The County. The huge barn is now a tasting room with views of a nearby stream and fields, you feel like you’ve have been transported back into pioneer days.

Finally, while idyllically meandering about The County, pop into Lighthall Vineyards in Milford & say “Hi” to a long time Savvy fan & friend – Glenn Symmons. He is the one-man-show running this winery with his top selling Progression sparkling wine made of 100% Vidal grapes.  That wine alone is worth the trip to The County just to pick up a few of those bottles. When you are down that way you, visit County Cider for a splash of something different and fill up at Fifth Town Artisan Cheese. Your taste buds will love you for it and with the wine you pick up while on tour, it will be one delicious Canada Day.

Check out our 101 Things to do in The County tips too!

 

Featured wines available at the LCBO…

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If I only had $100, I would buy….

Posted by Julie

Friday, November 24th, 2017
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With the devastating news about the forest fires in Napa & surrounding area, there has been alot of focus on California wines.  Coincidentally, premium California wines are the main feature in this release at LCBO Vintages this weekend. While most bottles were too rich for my $100 budget for this blog, I was so pleased to sample & create this shopping list with an interesting assortment of fine wines that are easy on the credit card statement. Remember that I am working on a $100 budget, yet I highly recommend that you do splurge by adding a California wine into your shopping cart.

I also found several sparkling wines and beautiful icewines, that you can pick up to stash away for the gifting season.

As always, my shopping basket for this blog is always on the look out for bottles of wine that are priced lower than they actually taste.

I hope you like my picks!

Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday November 25, 2017

 

Tawse Spark Limestone Ridge Sparkling Riesling 2015

Traditional method, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontari
$20.95 (Vintages #370361) 12% alcohol

Green apples, lemon zest, crispy brioche all meld into a delicate creamy mousse that is crisp and clean on the palate and swirls on the tongue.

Lots going on in this sparkling Riesling with a hit of flint that seems only to come from Niagara Escarpment Rieslings.  Talk about a gift from Mother Earth and speaking of gifts – this one I highly recommend.

A great match for seafood or pick up a chilled bottle and some sushi one night for supper – now that would be a treat!

 

 

Robert Oatley Signature Series Chardonnay 2016

Margaret River, Western Australia
$18.95 (Vintages #350900) 12.5% alcohol

While certainly not a new wine in LCBO Vintages, this is always an easy Chardonnay to add to my shopping list. It’s a no-brainer for those Chardonnay lovers and those firmly in the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) crowd could easily be persuaded.

Full-boded yet crisp and refreshing for a Chardonnay with a multitude of tropical white stone fruit flavours (think white peach) on the palate and loads of tangerine citrus on the finish. Talk about a beautifully balanced white wine with just enough acidity to send you back for another sip.  And another.  And another.

A perfect wine to have with lunch for crab or lobster bisque with a puff pastry topping or chicken pot pie (for the less daring to cook).

 

Zuccardi Q Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Mendoza, Argentina
$19.95 (Vintages #140855) 13.9% alcohol

In such warm climate, grapes can ripen to their fullest so it is not a bit of wonder the product ends up being full-bodied and rich.

Big black fruit, ripe blueberries, blackberries mingle smoothly with silky lush tannin. The mouthfeel is plush and loaded with dark berry flavours.

A lovely lengthy aftertaste sprinkled with pepper. One great Cabernet Sauvignon to serve alongside ribs or a Sunday roast.

 

 

San Felice Chianti Classico 2015

DOCG, Italy
$19.95 (Vintages #282996) 13% alcohol

Predominantly Sangiovese with personality of ripe cherries and raspberries, a pinch of violet that also profiles this delicate Chianti. Medium-bodied and fruity it is a classic Chianti.

There’s some dustiness and leather whiffs on the finish, typical of wine aged in Slovonian oak casks for 10-12 months. Tannins are delicate and fresh, a wonderful wine to serve with your favourite pasta dish or a spicy lasagna.

 

 

Honoro Vera Monastrell 2015

DOP, Jumilla, Spain
$13.95 (Vintages #167684) 14.5% alcohol

DOP certification ensures that the grapes are locally grown and bottled. Dark and inky, some sweet spice aromas, bursts of ripe plums on the palate mixing cherry and mocha flavours on the lengthy finish.

Medium to full-bodied, fairly assertive tannins with a pinch of leather on the aftertaste.

You get a lot of pow for your dollar here and cannot beat the price point. This would be wonderful with a hearty stew and crusty bread.

This wine certainly grabs your attention with the cool label!

 

Grand Total = $93.75

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Time for Ports & Sherry!

Posted by Julie

Sunday, November 12th, 2017
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Now that the temperature continuously dips below zero degrees, it’s time to start thinking about stocking up for the winter months and of course the upcoming holiday entertaining season. I don’t recall Vintages ever focusing on “After Dinner Drinks”, but I found some in this release worth tipping you off.

Although the ice wines are too pricey for my $100 budget, there are some beauties to pick up or gift as fine gifts.

In this release, there is also a huge selection of sparkling wines including Champagne, always a great start to any get together with friends.

The advantage of stocking up on after dinner drinks is that they are bound to last longer than other bottles of wine and have a much longer shelf life.

Here’s to the “finishing” drinks,

Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday November 11, 2017

Burmester 10-Year Old Tawny Port

DOP, Portugal
$28.95 (Vintages #223958) 19.5% alcohol

DOP is short for (Denominação de Origem Protegida) meaning Protected Designation of Origin. This certification only found in Portugal ensures that products are locally grown and packaged.

This past fall, my husband and I visited the Burmester Port house in Oporto, Portugal on the side of the Douro river in an area called “Gaia”.  While it is not as large as Taylors Fladgate or Grahams, the ports made a Burmester are of premium quality.

This Tawny Port has a deep copper in colour with flavours that remind me of fruit cake, sweet spice with a caramel finish. Light-bodied and goes down smooth, capital S. Positively delicious and a perfect after dinner drink.

City of Oporto. The Burmester Caves where this port was made is on the left of the photo. Credit: Julie Stock

Hildalgo Faraon Oloros Sherry

DO, Spain
$21.95 (Vintages # 471078) 18% alcohol

I don’t often think of sherry as an after dinner drink but his one is an exception. Similar to port it is a fortified wine, yet made only in Spain.

This deep golden nectar is like sipping a bowl of roasted nuts with a great savoury finish. Bone dry with a little orange pith on the palate.

It would be absolutely divine with some assorted cheeses, dried fruit and of course, warm toasted nuts at the end of a meal. It’s a special kind of sherry.

 

Flat Rock Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling

VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario$24.95 (Vintages #578625) 11% alcohol

I’m not often wowed by off-dry Riesling but this is one is an elegant beauty. Apparently I’m not the only one that was lured to this wine since it won Platinum at the Wine Align Intervin awards this year.

Fresh and clean, flinty with soft lemon custard flavours on the palate and a round citrusy finish.

This white wine is positively delicious and would make a decadent afternoon sipper or pair with some spicy shrimps.

 

 

Reif Estate Reserve Gewurztraminer 2015

VQA Niagara River, Ontario
$18.95 (Vintages #360255) 13% alcohol

In my view, Reif Estates always offers good price points for the quality of their wine. It’s always a good thing to have a Gewurztraminer in the fridge for those chilly nights where a hot Indian curry like Chicken Vindaloo or take-out Thai meal would warm you up – all perfect pairings for Gewurztraminer.

Fresh floral aromas, some lychee but loads of tropical fruits on the palate show in this white wine. Look for ripe apricots and peach nectar with some toasty hazelnuts on the finish.

It’s a dy-na-mite!

 

For 2 white wines & 2 after dinner drinks, my Grand Total = $94.80

 

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Wines from around the world for Thanksgiving

Posted by Julie

Friday, September 29th, 2017
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With Thanksgiving right around the corner, what better time for LCBO’s Vintages to focus on drinks to serve with the family gathering with a headline of ‘Family Matters”.

With the family theme in this release, the LCBO is featuring family run vineyards & estates that have been handed down through the generations.  There are some great wine finds to accompany whatever dishes you are putting on your Thanksgiving table but I’m not taking any chances, I’m picking up one of each. to have on hand in case anyone drops in over the long weekend.

And there are some of the LCBO’s In Store Discoveries too that are worth putting in your shopping cart. Hope my tried & tested shopping list helps make your long weekend a breeze.

Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family!

– Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday September 30, 2017

 

Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc 2016

WO Stellenbosch, The Winery of Good Hope, South Africa
$14.95 (Vintages #739995) 12.5% alcohol

Chenin Blanc goes by different names;  in France this white wine it is known as Pineau de la Loire, and in South Africa it goes by the name of Steen. Either way the grape varietal displays succulent flavours of tropical fruit with every sip.

On the palate is a melange of ripe pears and apricots, pineapple and hazelnuts. Full bodied and rich, smooth as silk with a crisp refreshing finish. It’s a beauty and the price point is unbelievable. It’s bound to be a partner to serve with a feast of turkey or roasted ham for sure.

 

 

 

Famille Perrin Reserve Cotes Du Rhone Blanc 2015

AC, France
$14.95 (Vintages  #499509) 13% alcohol

Your first introduction is a delicate floral nose with great aromatic freshness.

This svelte white wine offers light, crisp apple and peach flavours bound by slight mineral notes on the finish.  Lots of finesse and depth for this price point and a perfect marriage with seafood or Mediterranean fare, bruschetta prepared with with heirloom tomatoes would be remarkable.

 

 

 

 

Tessellae Rosé 2016

IGP Côtes Catalanes, France
$15.95 (Vintages # 450817)  13.5% alcohol

This is an all year round Rosé wine. Pale salmon in colour, fresh, crisp and delicate. Ripe strawberries, tangerines and apricot flavours mingle with zesty lemon-lime notes on the finish. Talk about a fruit bowl!

It is a perfect afternoon sipper or to serve as an aperitif with some mild cheese or grilled shrimps, or with a ham for Thanksgiving, one lovely beverage.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Kaiken Las Rocas Ultra Malbec 2015

Mendoza, Argentina
$24.95 (Vintages #50849) 14.5% alcohol

Lavender and blueberry aromas, full bodied and firm, it’s an outstanding Malbec. On the palate of this red wine, there are layers of ripe plums and dark berries, the tannins are ripe and refined. It’s smooth, rich and focussed with excellent length, a Malbec at its finest.

I’d pair this with braised short ribs and a mushroom risotto.

 

 

 

 

Tarima Monastrell 2015

DO Alicante, Spain
$14.95 (Vintages #310151) 14.5% alcohol

The heady nose on this red wine is almost electric with savoury and dark fruit.  Blackberries and blueberry flavours dance on the palate just bursting with flavour.

Look for dark, slightly spicy berries with a pinch of licorice on the finish. Great smooth aftertaste that integrates soft tannins, and juicy fruitiness.

It is absolutely delicious. Begs for something from the grill!

 

 

 

MAN Family Skaapveld Shiraz 2015

WO Coastal Region, South Africa
$13.95 (Vintages #71332)

I did not have the opportunity to taste this particular Shiraz, but I wanted to offer another bottle in my price point since the above was such incredible value. I mean…a Shiraz from South Africa at $13.95?

The Man Family website states that “Skaapbeld” refers to the grazing land for sheep that adjoins their Shiraz vineyards. And it has won more than one award, so I will be popping a bottle of this into my shopping cart and giving it a try.

 

 

Grand Total = $99.70

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6 wines for under $100!

Posted by Julie

Friday, September 15th, 2017
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In Niagara Falls, every August, the judging for the Intervin Wine Competition takes place. These wine awards are designed to recognize the very best of international wines available to Canadian consumers.

Although the 2017 results will not be released until November it is fitting that LCBO Vintages is showcasing Ontario wines and Flagship In-Store-Discoveries (FISD) in this release.  Most of these “Flagships” are too pricey for my budget, but I had no difficulty finding some other gems at incredible price points.

My go to wine is always Ontario. This province has the VERY best of everything: from farm to table food, to sports and entertainment; our wine selection is unbeatable and incomparable. Harvest time will soon be here and I hope you’ll be inspired to pick up a few bottles you’ve not tried before. I can almost guarantee you may find a new favourite.

Here’s to Ontario wine shopping, a place to stand, a place to grow, Ontario-ario- ario !

That jingle never grows old!
– Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday September 16, 2017

 

Creekside Marianne Hill Riesling 2015

VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario
$20.95 (Vintages #443572) 10.5% alcohol

Stunning and expressive, well deserved for the Gold Medal winner at the 2017 National Wine Awards of Canada.

I can’t wait to see what other accolades may be in store for Creekside and this gem. Beautifully balanced with flavours of green and yellow apples, peaches and flinty wet stone which shows in many Niagara escarpment Rieslings.

Light-weight with gentle fruit flavours, a perfect afternoon wine to sip or to try with crab cakes, sushi or lighter lunch fare. Mellow and delicious.

 

Featherstone Four Feathers 2016

VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #341586) 12.5% alcohol

I have written previously on different Featherstone Estate Winery wines and this one is so lovely I could not neglect it in this release.

The blend of  Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc brings out the very best in each of these varietals. Slightly off-dry, delicate and aromatic, well structured and layered with flavours of apples and stone tree fruits that decorate the palate in one lovely wash. It has a lingering fruity finish.

Perfect for salads, grilled shrimp or fish tacos; an easy sipper and a wine that has something for everyone.

I cannot imagine anyone who could not like this wine.

 

 

Firebird Legend Pinot Grigio 2016

PGI Vulcansti, Moldova
$12.95 (Vintages #74351) 12% alcohol

The very odd time I feature a wine that I was not able to taste and this is one of those. Moldova is a country sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania in the Black Sea basin where the vines grow.

Historically, there are over 112 thousand hectres of vineyards and over 30 types of varietals so I assume these folks must have achieved some finesse somewhere along the lineage.  One website boasted tropical fruit flavours with zippy acidity, so for that price point, for me, it is worth a try.

 

Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rosé 2016

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$17.35 (Vintages #172643) 12%  alcohol

Not just any Rosé, this blend of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Gamay makes a lively entry with it’s handsome cranberry colour and aromas of ripe cherries and a pinch of white pepper. On the palate are impressive strawberry and watermelon flavours.  It’s driven by lively acidity and some rhubarb on the elegant finish.

Bone dry which makes it a perfect accompaniment to grilled chicken, salmon or just on its own with some soft cheeses.

Always a class act.

 

13th Street Red Palette 2016

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$15.95 (Vintages #244558) 13 % alcohol

13th Street Winery has to one of the prettiest wineries along the Niagara Escarpment I think. Not only is there a spacious tasting room with floor to ceilings windows, but upon entry, the long spectacular table gives it an art gallery feel. The bakery farmhouse next door also makes it a worthwhile stop for lunch or to grab an outstanding butter-tart.

This Red Palette blend is so juicy; bursting with red cherry and ripe raspberry flavours with just a hint of green savoury spice on the finish. Medium bodied, the varietals of 62% Merlot and 38% Cabernet Franc make it a perfect accompaniment to turkey, ham or salmon (I am already thinking about Thanksgiving!). Well rounded and perfectly balanced with soft tannins and a hint of smokey acidity on a decent cherry finish. You could partner this alongside just about anything from fish to pork/veggie kebabos or mild Thai take-out. Simply delicious.

 

Traipiche Fina Las Palmas Gran Reeserva Malbec 2014

Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
$16.95 (Vintages # 186668) 14.5 % alcohol

Malbec is Argentina’s signature grape and no one grows it better than Traipiche. At altitudes higher than the CN tower, Trapiche was one of the first Argentinian wineries to enter the international scene. In 1889, the winery received its first international award in Paris.

Dark and inky in colour, rich and expansive on the nose your senses are fillled with luscious black and ripe red fruits that flow through on the palate. Everything Traipiche produces is worth picking up and their wines are a great price point. This Malbec is full-bodied and not for the faint-hearted, structured with layers of blueberry and ripe plum favours, some spice and tobacco on the finish. It’ll be forever in memory with braised short ribs and spicey sausages.

I can’t wait to pick this up and head to the butcher.

 

Grand Total = $ 99.10 
6 wines – now that is VALUE !!

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Yeah! Make it a Chardonnay!

Posted by Julie

Monday, July 10th, 2017
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It’s that time of year again when the annual International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (also known by those in the wine biz as ‘i4C’ or #i4C17) descends upon the Niagara region. Everyone gathers for this special i4C weekend to celebrate the most popular grape varietal in the world.

It is an incredible weekend – July 21 to 23 – where 30+ wineries from around the world PLUS 30 Ontario wineries gather to showcase their finest wines made with Chardonnay grapes – everything from sparkling, fresh Chardonnay, aged ones, Chablis style, fermented with wild yeast and those aged in barrels from around the world.  You get to sample everything. Even fine sweet wines made from Chardonnay grapes.  It is a heavenly weekend event!

At i4C, winemakers attend along with wine enthusiasts, Sommeliers, wine writers, restaurant owners and those who are simply visiting Niagara wanting to take in a top-notch event.  A number of us from the Savvy Team have attended and it is hands down an incredible learning and entertaining experience not to mention absolutely delicious & tasty. I highly recommend making i4C the reason for a weekend getaway to Niagara (if you need a reason!).

And for those of you who are ABCers (aka like Anything But Chardonnay), there is an incredible white wine from Spain that I discovered in the recent LCBO Vintages release from the feature or Spanish wines.  Spain often offers great value wines that taste like they should cost more, but my recommendations on those will have to wait for another time as I am filling my basket with 100% Chardonnay for this blog…and can’t wait to get sipping.

Long live i4C!
-Julie

i4C Social Media Information: Website  *   Twitter   *  Instagram 

 

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LBCO Vintages Release for Saturday July 8, 2017

 

Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2015 

VQA Niagara-on-the Lake
$24.95 (Vintages #172338) 12.5 % alcohol

In 2008, Southbrook was the first wine estate in Canada to earn both organic and biodynamic certification for its vineyard and winery. This is one smooth Chardonnay from start to finish. There is some minerality in this white wine which is unusual for a Chardonnay, but this only enhances the soft tropical fruits.

Mid-weight and beautifully balanced with some baked pear on the finish, it’s one lovely drink. Would partner nicely with BBQed chicken or salmon.

 

 

Emiliana Natura Unoaked Chardonnay 2016

Casablanca Valley, Chile
$15.95 (Vintages #439398) 14 % alcohol

In the last release I featured Emiliana Winery for their sparkling wine. And here they are again on my top picks list!

This unoaked Chardonnay wine is anything but “typicity”.  In winespeak, this is the degree in which the grape varietal reflects or demonstrates its characteristics from the origin or region. I found just a hint of effervescence, light-bodied with lime tanginess which is unusual for a Chardonnay.  It’s fresh and clean with a green apple finish. I really liked it and this white wine is definitely going into my shopping basket & right into my fridge for a hot summer afternoon where I will uncork it for lunch or a light dinner with something like a Watermelon, Feta Cheese & Black Olive Salad.

 

 

Buena Vista Chardonnay 2015

Sonoma County, U.S.A.
$24.95 (Vintages #396440) 13 % alcohol

In a little corner bordering Sonoma and Napa’s southern boundaries is the celebrated vinicultural area called Carneros. While only about 90 square miles, the region is recognized for producing world class Chardonnays.

This white wine is a style that is heavier and creamier than what comes from other Chardonnay growing regions but for those who love a ‘Big Bold Chard’, this wine is for you!  I put extra stars beside my tasting notes, indicating that I love this wine. Aromas of buttered popcorn, rich and smooth on the palate as the tropical fruit simply takes over the senses and abounds.  It’s dry, crisp with a lingering finish. Elegant and refined, a class-act Chardonnay. Would easily stand up to a dinner of Steak & frites…yes white wine with steak!

 

 

Invivo Gisborne Chardonnay 2016

Gisborne, North Island, New Zealand
$15.95 (Vintages #499855) 13 % alcohol

Although this was not available at my tasting, Invivo Wines is going to be present at i4C represented by Winemaker and Co-founder, Rob Cameron. I never have any difficulty recommending a wine from New Zealand, especially the Gisborne region, since wines that are produced are always top notch. Tasting notes indicate an easy drinking style with citrus and ripe stone fruit on the palate.

At this incredible price point, (remember it travelled half way around the world to get onto the LCBO shelves), this white wine is definitely going in my basket. It is worth a try!

 

A dynamite wine from Spain you have to try …

Barón De ley Blanco 2016

DOCa Rioja
$13.95 (Vintages #145995) 12 % alcohol

A blend of Viura (90%) and Malvasia (10%) grapes, this fresh aromatic white wine is easy to drink. While not common grape varietals, these are quite at home in Navarra in the DOC Rioja region.

The winemaking process is carried out in stainless steel tanks which lends to its super fresh lemon lime flavours with a citrusy finish. Fresh and a light-bodied whine, makes for a terrific wine on a hot summer’s day.

 

 

Grand Total = $95.75

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Deeply rooted Sue-Ann Staff & her wines

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery

– January 2012 –

Cruise up the vine lined slopes above Jordan village, as I did last summer, and you’ll find Staff Avenue and Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery. My curiosity was piqued – what was the story behind Sue-Ann Staff’s newly opened winery, housed on her family’s historic farm? The dramatic white barn and family home come into view, a large cold-weather bell crafted in mid-1800s England gracing the entrance, ready to ring you onto the property. Exit the car and you will be greeted by a friendly, well-mannered Bernese Mountain dog named BRIX, who will lead you to the side entrance of the house. There you head into the relaxed, welcoming tasting bar that Sue-Ann and her family have set up in their farmhouse kitchen. Sue-Ann offers a warm welcome, sharing her passion for the wine, the vineyards and her family’s history.

Sue-Ann’s family emigrated from England in the late 1700s, her ancestor Robert Staff acquiring the current property over 2 centuries ago. The first vineyard was planted in 1898 by her great-grandfather comprising of 3.3 acres of Concord grapes located at the corner of Staff Avenue and 17th Street. This vineyard may be the oldest productive one in Niagara and continues to be retained by the family as a living legacy. You may in fact taste these grapes in Welch’s grape juice, as the fruit is shipped annually to the company’s processing plant in Pennsylvania. Through the generations, the Staff farming and agricultural operations have evolved. Historically, it was the largest private fruit-growing operation in Canada, with over 800 acres of grapes. And at one time, 5% of the estate was reserved for research by Jordan Wines.

Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery & Winemaker

 The prospect of a family-owned winery was often discussed at family gatherings, yet the idea became fruition one day while Sue-Ann was thinning crop with her father. ‘What are you doing?” her father asked. “I’m thinking,” replied Sue-Ann, “…I’m thinking there’s no reason I couldn’t start my own winery.” Soon after, in 2009, Sue-Ann Staff Winery opened. Sue-Ann describes the excitement as well as the terror of releasing wines under her name, aware of the significant investment she made while wondering how her wines would be received by the public. This was a fleeting moment now a couple of years later, as success has shown with several wines already sold out!

Our feature of Sue-Ann Staff Estate wines ensures Savvy subscribers have the opportunity to sample a unique selection of Sue-Ann’s wines:

      • – Staff Cabernet Franc VQA 2010the velvety, earthy laced with balsamic characteristics
      • – Megalomaniac Cabernet Frank VQA 2009 –  a BIG treat for our subscribers!
      • Megalomaniac Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2008 – full bodied red that she made as a consulting winemaker for winery owner John Howard

OPTIONAL WINES:

Riesling Icewine VQA 2007a luscious, beautifully balanced honeyed fruit extravaganza,

– Pinot Gris VQA 2010previous vintages quickly sold out.  Given the quality of the 2010 vintage, it is anticipated that this wine will fly off the shelves

We are delighted to introduce you to Sue-Ann & her wines.  Be sure to visit the Staff farm to experience the warm welcome offered by Sue-Ann, her family & BRIX too!

Cheers!
Debbie & Savvy Team

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