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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Food and Wine Review

On Friday night my girlfriend and I, along with my parents attended the Food and Wine Expo. Aside from Elizabeth it was our first time at a food and wine expo and it was a great experience that I wish I could afford to go to everyday. Be prepared to spend a good bit of money as it is $8 -$12 per ticket (depending on if you use a coupon or not) for general admission.

One of the first vendors that we stopped at had samples of Italian wine. As you can see below, most were indeed Voga wines but there were a few other wineries as well. Unfortunately, I was not able to taste each of these but luckily all the tasting notes were provided.

Montresor: Amarone della Valpolicella - Dark ruby-red colour; floral, dried fruit (fig and date), cherry, chocolate and cedar aromas and flavours; dry, full bodied, with balanced acidity, ripe tannins and good length.

Ca' De Riva: Valpolicella Ripasso - Deep ruby red colour;plum, black cherry, dired herbs, vanilla and spice, aromas;medium body, ripe berry sweetness, balanced acidity and spice notes in flavour and soft tannins in medium length finish.

Angel by Giorgio & Gianni: Nero d'Avola Organic  - Very dark purple with a reddish-violet edge, typical of this grape. Explosive rush of aromas of black fruit and spices.

Voga: Quattro - Deep ruby-purple colour; black fruit with a touch of mineral; dry, full body; ripe black fruit flavours with long spicy finish.

Voga: Moscato - Refreshingly sweet with a bubbly feeling. The grape's natural sugar and flavour intensity are the key feature. Imagine fresh grapes, that's exactly what Moscato tastes like.

Voga: Pinto Grigio - Pale golden yellow colour; light aromas of pear, apple, fresh peach and spice; dry, light to medium bodied, fresh stone fruit and citrus flavours, crisp acidity on finish.

Voga: Sparkling Pinot Grigio - A light golden colour and fine perlage give way to aromas of white blossom and ripe fruit. It is very smooth in the mouth with pronounce fruit flavours and crisp citrusy finish.

Si Soave: Soave Classico - Clear, bright straw colour; pear apple and touch of citrus aromas; dry, light body; soft fruit and clean citrus finish.

Si Pinot Grigio - Si Pinot Grigio - This unique and exciting pinot grigio must be served chilled to express its true character. Its typical, bright straw colour, with sweet delicate tropical fruit aromas and luscious persistent finish, make this pinot grigio an irresistible white wine.

I did, however, taste the Sparkling Pinot Grigio. It was very bubbly and delicious. Not too acidity or sweet but just right.

My favourite winery of the night was definitely Palatine Hills Estate Winery. I had never drunk there wine before but I'm glad I gave it a try. Unlike the other stations that had multiple, young and exuberant servers, at Palatine's there was just one quiet, older man. I was first attracted to the winery because of there lack of customers. After getting acquainted with Scott I decided to go with the 1812 Collection's Cabernet. Not only was the wine delicious and colourful with a long finish, Scott provided my father and I with samples that were atleast double the standard 2 ounces. Needless to say I tried a couple of their wines because of the quantity of the samples. The other wine I tried was the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was also very delicious, with a medium body, great red fruit flavours and a smooth, slightly dry finish. I think it was even more delicious than the other Cabernet.
Each sample cost only 2 tickets aka $2. Palatine winery has some very well made wines and the staff from what I saw are super friendly. I even worked up the courage to ask if they hired students who are interested in or studying Viticulture in school. As I qualify in both categories, I was extremely happy by his response. He handed me the winemakers card and told me they had some students on staff at the present but are always looking for more. Score!

to be continued...



Saturday, 26 May 2012

Niagara Food and Wine Expo 2012

Hey everyone! I have returned from my longer than planned staycation. I have been more than unfaithful to my readers (if I have any) with the lack of entries I've been making. Fortunately for me the Food and Wine Expo came to town and gave me something to write about.
If you haven't heard, the Niagara Food and Wood Expo is on right now! It started Friday May 25th and will run until Sunday May 27th. I definitely recommend giving it a try even though it costs $12 for general admission and in my opinion there was not enough "free" samples to make up for those $12. But on the plus side, I am hear to warn you off an online coupon for when you buy your tickets. Go to the Food and Wine Expo website and scroll down until you see "download coupon" on the left hand side. This coupon will give you $2 off any ticket you buy at the door or $4 off any ticket you purchase online. There is a sort of catch about buying online, there is a service charge of $1.50 per ticket however if you do the math buying online is still more savings.
I have many more comments to make about the event but overall it was a very pleasant experience. I will provide a review of my likes and dislikes later today. Cheers!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Caroline Cellars

As the summer approaches, I am beginning to plan a journey to some of the many wineries in my local area of Niagara-on-the-lake. My count of wineries visited is still in the single digits, but by summer's end I would like to be in the double digits. 
At the moment, taking time out of my day to visit a winery can be somewhat difficult. My attention is focused 100% on finding a job so other things get put on the back burner. The long and the short of it is that I need the job so that I might partake in more wine and allow this blog to flourish. As fate would have it, my two paths converged. I found a job opening at Caroline Cellars Winery and just had to apply. Unlike 90% of the jobs I apply for, Caroline Cellars required me to appear in person to apply. I graciously complied and begun my trek to this unfamiliar winery. 
Although my GPS had no record of the address, it was easy enough to find the old fashion way. The Winery is comprised of one large wooden building that is very cabin-esque. The cabin theme is carried forth to the interior of the shop and gives the place an auspicious feel. 
I was greeted by the solo sales clerk with a smile and proceeded to hand in my resume with no intention of tasting the wine. Unfortunately the manager couldn't meet with me at that time so I made for the door. I was literally backing out of the parking lot when I had a second thought. I pulled back into my spot and went back in. I needed to try this wine.
After 20+ minutes of chatting I had sampled 4 wines that I'd like to share with you. Below are the winery's tasting notes and below them I will provide my revisions. 

2007 Oaked Chardonnay (VQA) $13.00 750 ml (0) 
Tropical notes of banana, coconut and lime dominate the nose of this wine, but there are also distinct roasted nutty notes – chestnut and cashew, balanced by baking spices – nutmeg and clove, especially.  On the palate this wine is smooth, full and rich, with tropical banana and coconut, but also butterscotch – which at times is reminiscent of bananas foster!

2008 Pinot Noir (VQA) $15.00 750 ml (0) 
This is our very first single variety Pinot Noir! A complex and evolving nose has dominant wild berry, but also earthy mushroom and herbaceous notes – aka “forest floor”.  On the palate, this wine is soft yet structured with wild berry and clove, but also mushroom and some floral notes. Pair with mushroom-based dishes, or earthy game meats like ostrich or rabbit.

2008 Bradfield Red (VQA) $12.50 750ml (0) 
This medium bodied red is made from 100% Zweigelt grown on our family estate. Strong notes of sandal wood, smoky white pepper and roasted chestnuts appear on the nose, balanced by red plum and black currant.  On the palate, this wine is smooth and easy to drink with blackberry, blueberry and sour cherry notes with slight white pepper. Pair with a peppery beef dish or salmon.

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (VQA) $14.00 750ml (0) 
A medium bodied dry red wine with loads of fruit on the nose and palate, including blackberry, plum and black currant notes. On the nose, hints of cedar, leather and dark chocolate also shine through. This
 wine has firm tannins and is very food-friendly, which makes it a fantastic every day wine


Now, I know my palate is not what it could be but I tend to be able to pick out the most prominent scents and flavours of a wine. With these 4 I had a hard time pairing the notes with what I was tasting. The Chardonnay wasn't as tropical as I was expecting but it did have a lovely vanilla smell that I picked up the instant it was poured. I would say the body was medium at best and the flavour was good but not rich. I was also told that it had undergone partial MLF (Malolactic Fermentation: the process that gives Chardonnay's that wonderful buttery smoothness), but apparently not enough. Regardless, out of the 4 I tried, this was the one I purchased. In retrospect, I should have tried a riesling or bought something different. The reason being, my girlfriend is allergic to banana and she finds the smell repulsive. I did not pick up on the banana when I tasted the wine but her more adept nose and palate might. Sorry Elizabeth!
As for the reds, when I saw Pinot I had to give it a try. I commend Caroline Cellars for trying but I can't praise this Pinot the way I'd like too. The nose was quite earthy and got me excited for taste but unfortunately I was misled. What I tasted was much more sour than expected and at best can be describe as cherry tobacco. 
The Zweigelt was another interesting sample; being that it was the first time that I had experienced the Austrian hybrid. I tried it on a whim and was disappointed. I have nothing to compare it to, so I won't say that it was bad. It just wasn't my cup of tea so to speak. Finally we get to the Cab. Sauv. 
After the Pinot failed me, this was the wine I thought I would be leaving with, but once again, I was wrong. When I see the word chocolate in a note I want to find it in the glass and I just couldn't here. As in the Pinot, I found the Cab. Sauv. a little sour and not as tannic as I would like. 
After rereading the notes and recalling the flavours I believe I was having an off day. I would still suggest visiting Caroline Cellars to anyone who enjoys wine and maybe even to those who don't, as they have a wide variety of fruit wines. I am curious to see if given some time that I'll get a different result and what my girlfriend thinks of Caroline Cellars wine. In the mean time I would like to put the blame for the skewed tastes on the glassware. I am a huge fan and believer in proper glassware when drinking wine and I think with a bigger glass I would have enjoyed these wines much more. I look forward to popping open the Chardonnay and digging for those tropical smells and flavours.
  

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Bold And The Beautiful

Hey everyone, I just thought I'd post some notes on the wine I've drunk lately. As the title suggests, I find these wines to be very bold and full of flavour, leaving your mouth with a beautiful finish that endures long after you've emptied your glass.
Now, there is no specific reason why I've chosen to drink only Zinfandels and Shiraz as of late, it just happened that way. I do find that these varietals bring to mind summer evenings in the backyard and barbecued fare. Enjoy!


Peachy Canyon Winery – 2007 Zinfandel ($21.95):
This Zin has a beautiful deep ruby colour. Raspberry jam is ever present on the nose and the palate. The flavours are so bold it is hard to get anything else but that’s no problem. The body is medium to heavy but is still great on a hot evening. This wine goes down so smooth without a taste of tannins. A great match for barbecued wares.


Ravenswood - 2009 Zinfandel ($19.95):
This Old Vine Zinfandel is expressive with notes of warm spice and vanilla. Powerful, full-bodied raspberry and blackberry flavours with structured tannins will allow this wine to age, but vibrant fruit makes it perfect for drinking right now.


I have recently checked the LCBO and Peachy Canyon websites for more of the 2007 vintage but to no avail. I'm sure the 2008 and newer vintages will be just as good now, if not in a few years.


Mitolo Junior - 2008 Shiraz ($16.95):
Deep purple in colour with notes of blackberry, plum, anise, and eucalyptus on the nose. This wine has tons of body and could be too much for some. The palate develops into a velvety combination of black fruit and cocoa bean leading to a smooth medium spiced finish with soft tannins.

Rosemount Diamond - Shiraz ($15.95):
This Shiraz is deep red and almost purple. Very fragrant with dark berry fruit scents. The body is medium to heavy but the flavour is bold with a spicy finish.


Oatley Tic Tok - Shiraz($15.95):
Deep ruby to purple in colour.; Notes of raspberry, blueberry, vanilla and spicy oak aromas. Dry, medium to full body and ripe fruit flavours with toasty oak finish.

 





Friday, 6 April 2012

Niagara College Reception/ Tasting

Sorry about the delay everyone. I have been quite busy as of late. The job search is never ending and if you didn't already know, I've been putting a lot of thought into going to college in September. I've already applied and been accepted for Culinary, Winery Tech. and GIS, but applying is the easy part. Now I must decide what I wish to pursue. Somehow having more options makes it so much more difficult.
I've weighed the pros and cons a 100 times in my head and it still plagues me. I do love and have always loved food but I'm questioning whether culinary school is worth it. GIS is a relatively new system that a lot of jobs are looking for and would be very compatible with my degree, however, Winery tech. seems very appealing. I love wine and have always wanted to make it and I'd like to think there are a lot of opportunities for work once out of school.
Either way, before I could make my ultimate decision I had to check out the campus and find out more about the programs. Luckily this past weekend there was a open house day in which all prospective students could come and attend information sessions on their desired programs. Needless to say, I was excited to go and with the promise of free food, wine and beer, I could not miss this chance.
The afternoon of information went fairly quick and thank god because I was eager to get to the wine. Instead of taking a tour of the campus we bypassed straight to the wine store. Tastings that would usually cost $2 a pop, were completely free so I had to take full advantage. There were at least 12 different wines to try and I tasted about 5; a Riesling, a Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir, a Cabernet Franc, and a Cabernet Franc Ice wine.
Overall, I'd have to say that the wines were unique. I understand that for some, wine is an acquired taste, and in this case there is a lot of different tastes to be acquired. For a couple of these batches I just didn't get what was going on. The Riesling was toted as having citrus flavours, particularly lime. I am a fan of lime and citrus flavours in most all forms, but for some reason it just didn't work here. The structure and flavour presented by this Riesling made me think of juice or pop rather than wine which disappointed me, but was not nearly as disappointing as the Chardonnay. It was atrocious! I was admonished by the tasting notes that this wine would have strong butterscotch and smokey flavour and I should have heeded the warning. In a lot of ways it tasted like a scotch and to some that might seem like a bad thing. However, I am a huge fan of scotch but not when it is watered down. The issue for me was that it was in between two separate drinks that I enjoy and this grey area was very unpleasant and almost undrinkable. Never wasting a drop of wine, I drunk the sample down and begged for something else. The Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc were far superior to both of the whites, but once again were nothing special. Both were medium to light bodied, full of cherry and red fruit flavours, with a smooth finish.
The star of the show was with out a doubt the ice wine. On account of its price, I've drunk very little ice wine but I've found that red ones, specifically Cabernet Franc ice wines are my favourite. It was fruity, jammy, cold, and sweet. Like taking a bit out of a raspberry or strawberry pie.
Keeping in mind that they were produced by student winemakers, I was impressed by the quality of the wine in general. The taste wasn't always there but the structure and passion for the product was. Having tasted the competition my urge to create my own wine has been renewed and my perhaps my mind has been made up? Winery Technician program, here I come?

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A Game Of Thrones

For today's post I thought I'd do things a little different than normal. Recently, I have been addicted to the Song Of Ice And Fire book series and in anticipation for the second season of Game of Thrones I have rewatched the first season twice. I have always been a huge fantasy buff but more than ever have I been drawn into this series and become so attached that sometimes it's hard to break free. With the help of the internet I have been able to delve into the deepest depths of the internet fan base and through my obsessive research I discovered a very interesting website that has combined my new favourite book series with my love of cooking. http://www.innatthecrossroads.com/ is an online cookbook that is based entirely on the cuisine prepared within the pages of A Song Of Ice And Fire. Don't get me wrong I love food that has a modern and sophisticated look to it but I am also a big fan of rustic food; which is exactly what the series is all about.
Now, the reason why I am mentioning all of this on a wine blog is because the site also includes many beverage recipes. In the series, wine is synonymous with water and just like the food, there are many different styles and preparations of the wine. I am most intrigued and excited to try one of the hot wine preparations because I have never had hot wine before but also because it is one of the quicker recipes. If you so choose, the site provides many recipes to brew your own wine out of plums, persimmons or what have you. 
So if you're a fan of the series or looking for some cool recipes check out the site. Cheers!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Blends For My Friends

For this post I just wanted to throw out some tasting notes for a couple of blends that I recently tried. Below are some Cab. Sauv./ Merlot blends that I picked up at the Winerack a few weeks ago. The reason why I've waited so long to post anything is because I didn't think they were worth mentioning. I have now decided to write in regard to them as a warning for anyone looking from a Winerack location. In my experience I have not found a lot of wineries that mix their grapes from two very different parts of the world. On their own, Canadian, Chilean, and South African grapes are quite good but in these cases were a disaster. Here are the descriptions of what the wineries so deceitfully tell us to expect. Firstly, we have the Canadian/ Chilean mix and secondly, the Canadian/ South African mix.

Caleta Vineyards – Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot ($9.95):
Aromas of ripe cherry and blackcurrant with a hint of cocoa, enhanced by roasted vanilla notes. On the palate, our intense full body provides the perfect balance between fruit and tannins.

Cape One – Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot ($10.95):
Medium bodied wine with soft tannins and ripe fruit flavours followed by a long velvety finish.

In regards to the structure of the wines, whoever wrote the label was spot on, but when it comes to the palate, I was lost. For both, there was a prominent cherry flavour, as is common with the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varietals but nothing else seemed to come through. I was so hoping for the hint of cocoa and vanilla of the Caleta and the finish on the Cape One was short-lived. 

Now, the nose is a whole other story. The Caleta was by no means magnificent but after some swirling and allowed time to breath it was alright. The Cape one on the other hand seemed to worsen the longer it breathed. At first I didn't notice it, but once it's pointed out to you there is no going back. Cape One has a distinct smell of tunafish!!! It is the most repugnant smelling wine I have ever had. Although I like to act the connoisseur, I'm not so snobbish that I won't finish a bottle. In fact I finished it faster so that I wouldn't have to smell it or see it ever again.

From this experience I learned that mixing grapes from different continents, although it sounds like an interesting idea, is a disaster waiting to happen. They are grown apart because they belong apart!

Happy Drinking! 

Strewn Tasting!

As much as I love buying a bottle and having a romantic wine and cheese night with my girlfriend, going to a winery and tasting a variety of different wine can be an immense amount of fun. I love to try new varietals and compare vintages so it boggles my mind that I wasn't more eager to go to tastings in the past. 

Although I have lived in Niagara Falls for many years I have never fully appreciated and enjoyed having all these wineries so close by. Sure I've tried a couple bottles here and there, from Chateau De Charmes to Hillebrand to Peller Estates, but recently I went to taste the wares that Strewn winery had to offer. 

Fortunately I have a friend who works at Strewn who provide my girlfriend and I with a fantastic tasting experience. There was only one other couple in the room at the time, so it really gave the tasting the sense of being private and personal. 

I'd say we tried about 8 different wines and all were extremely flavourful and thoroughly impressive. While we sipped on our sample we were regaled with a informative and detailed background of how the certain wine was produced and the prominent flavours that we should pick up on. I was astonished by how much my friend had learned since he started working at the winery. It's funny to see him as the connoisseur he has become, since less than a year ago, when we lived together, he was strictly a white wine drinker and not as willing to try new things. Regardless of his reasons for getting into the wine business now, I am overjoyed to see someone my age delighting in this brilliant beverage.

Now, I can't recall each and every wine we tried since I was almost stumbling out the door when we were done. I can, however, tell you about the wine that I purchased. Each wine was splendid in its own regard, but not all were in my price range, such as the 2008 Cabernet Franc Icewine, which is $63! There were 3 that tickled my fancy that were also very affordable. I have provided the tasting notes below.

Chardonnay Barrel Aged 2010 ($12.95):
This wine shows aromas of vanilla and apple, a smooth texture, and a refreshing finish. Enjoy on its own or with foods such as a holiday turkey, a mushroom dish or grilled shrimp. Chill lightly.

Gewurztraminer 2010 ($18.95):
This wine produces intense aromas of lychee, tropical fruit and a touch of clove leads to a full, smooth palate. Goes well with pork, veal and spicy Asian dishes.

Cabernet Franc 2007 ($18.95):
This wine shows complex aromas of dried fruit and herbs with notes of vanilla and leather. Round and flavourful with smooth tannins and an earthy hint on a long finish. Enjoy now with rich meat dishes such as duck confit or braised lamb.

As the bottles we sampled from had been open for a day or more and I didn't have a pen and paper to jot down my own notes, the best I can do is vouch for the winemaker's description. Even if the bottle had been opened for a day or more these aromas and flavours since permeated my senses. I will probably be popping the Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer in the following week or so but I am most excited about the Cabernet Franc. It was quite delicious at the tasting and would be fine now, but it is expected to be even better by 2013. A year is a long wait when you're always thirsty but I'm sure I have the will power. I'll spend my time thinking of a special occasion to open it. 

                     

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Sauvignon Blanc

After two months of living in Ottawa with no luck of finding a job, my girlfriend and I have found our way back to Niagara Falls. That means living with our parents again, which isn't all bad. My parents have accumulated quite an impressive cellar of fine wine over the last few years, many of which will we be tasting over the month of March. Another advantage of living with my mother is that she likes to cook and try new recipes, which I am a huge fan of.
So tonight for dinner we are having scallops and snow peas with a creamy white sauce over basmati rice. The dish became a favourite in our family after the first time my mother made it. As this is a seafood dish we like to pair it with an elegant white wine, preferably a Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling. Tonight we will be drinking a Kim Crawford 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. 
The Kim Crawford winery is located in Marlborough, New Zealand. I was excited to give it a try since I had never tasted any of their wine before, let alone any wine produced in New Zealand. I must say that it made a good first impression.
Naturally, we opened the bottle before we started cooking to give it a taste test. Right away you can smell how minerally the wine is. The bouquet is packed with citrus fruit and peach aromas. On the palate, I tasted a light pineapple flavour that was followed by citrus and tropical fruits. The wine is fairly acidic but is pleasant all the same. I already know that the acidity will work well with the creamy sauce in the scallop dish.



Saturday, 3 March 2012

Cono Sur or Connoisseur?

Keeping with a similar focus as my last post, I thought I'd mention another Chilean winery that I’ve enjoyed over the last few years. Cono Sur is an international renown winery and some of you may be happy to know that they are a completely organic winery.

It was my father who introduced me to Cono Sur a few years back and since it has remained my go-to winery because it offers such a great deal. Cono Sur’s Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon/ Shiraz are offered in 1.5L bottles for as cheap as $13.95! It is an astonishing price for a decent tasting wine.

When I began drinking wine, I primarily indulged in Merlot and Shiraz so when I tried the blends with Cabernet Sauvignon the change was subtle yet pleasant. Apart from its distinct flavour, Cono Sur wine offers the most quality as well as quantity for the price which has been a big factor in my purchasing of their product.

Besides the clever name and a pretty label, Cono Sur offers a broad selection of varietals from Viognier to Pinot Noir to Merlot. That's right, you can find more than one kind of their wine at any given LCBO or liquor store locations, unlike some companies I know.
Aside from the Cabernet Sauvignon blends I have only tasted their Pinot Noir but I am most eager to find a bottle of their Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon/ Carmenere, as it has recently been named the top selling Chilean wine in Vancouver. If anyone has tried their Carmenere, tell me your thoughts on it. If you're having a small dinner party or on a budget these bottles below are your best friends. I hope you enjoyed this post! See you around!

                                                      

P.S. Here’s a short video from Vancouver’s international wine festival. 




Thursday, 1 March 2012

Carmenere

When I first started drinking wine, a lot of what I was drinking had been introduced to me by my parents. A few years ago they weren't as into wine as they are now so it limited my taste and knowledge of different varietals. Back then I had labelled myself a red wine drinker, just like my father, and would have chosen a Merlot or Shiraz to drink any day of the week. Now don't get me wrong, Merlot and Shiraz are great varietals, but since I have branched out into the wine world I have found many new favourites. 
In a previous post I wrote about a few different Pinot Noirs that I had tried. For this post the focus will be on Carmenere.
Now for those of you who don't know, Carmenere is a French grape, considered part of the original six Bordeaux grapes along side Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Merlot. However, after history took its toll, Carmenere is rarely found in France. It is now grown in South American, primarily in Chile. It has a striking resemblance to Merlot and thus had been disguised and bottled and sold as Merlot for close to 150 years. In my opinion they should have been able to taste the difference. 
After only tasting about four or five Carmeneres I am still confident enough to say that it is my favourite varietal of red wine. A good Carmenere has such a deep and ever changing flavour it's like the Willy Wonka "3-course meal" gum of wine. Each and every sip is better than the last. The aroma is spectacular and the colour is exquisite. I cannot say enough good things about it. 
In a previous post I raved about PKNT's Carmenere, which I still revere as the best Carmenere I've tasted but not the only one. Below are my notes on two Chilean Carmeneres that are within the same price range. They are both perfectly adequate but just don't compare to PKNT. 

MontGras – Reserva Carmenere ($10.95):
This wine has a gorgeous deep purple colour and presents powerful spicy aromas with mint and wild herbs. On the palate, tannins are soft and round leading into a subtle toasty, vanilla finish. Pairs well with red meats, cheeses and spicy foods.

Carmen – Reserva Carmenere ($11.45):
This wine is dark red and has a strong bouquet of red fruits and berries. On the palate, the tannins are soft and round but there is some acidity to it. The finish is elegant and fruity with a hint of spice. Depth of flavour will increase if aerated. Enjoy with spicy sausage. Also pairs well with red meats or spicy dishes.

If you have tried PKNT and/or either of these Carmeneres please let me know what you think!





Monday, 27 February 2012

Bordeaux No No

Cash has been pretty tight lately but that hasn’t put a damper on my intrepid enthusiasm for wine. However, I have had to limit my allowance to a paltry $10 to $15. So the other day I could not pass up the chance to buy a Bordeaux for only $10.95! Chateau De Courteillac was the winery and I will keep that in mind the next time I select a bottle of wine. 
I was a little skeptical of its quality as I have seen more than my fair share of Bordeaux for upwards of $30. On account of the price I was not expecting anything spectacular but still a decent tasting wine. No doubt I finished the bottle off but it was not all that enjoyable. The back label suggested that it be served chilled but I've always been an advocate of drinking red wine at room temperature. My scientific background kicked in and I decided to preform an experiment.
After tasting the wine at both room and fridge temperatures I was still undecided as to which state I preferred. The room temperature glass definitely held much more flavour, had a longer finish and was dry. The chilled glass was more fruity but no flavours lingered on the tongue which is my favourite part of drinking a great wine. Looking back on it after a couple days I could not even describe the flavour to you. It was not memorable. If not for my tasting notes I could not give a proper review of this wine.
All in all it wasn't a horrible wine, however, I don't see myself buying it again any time soon. I think it was the fact that I had such high expectations for the wine on account that it was a Bordeaux which made it so disappointing when the flavours just didn't hold up.
This small mishap has by no means turned me off Bordeaux or French wine but has just opened my eyes to the lesser quality vintages that are out there. I will no doubt be looking for a better Bordeaux but still at a decent price. 
If you've tried this wine before and had a different experience, by all means let me know. Also, I would be more than happy to learn about other Bordeaux that you have tried that are worth trying. Cheers!



Sunday, 26 February 2012

Rieslings

Up until a few weeks ago I would have considered myself primarily a red wine drinker. It's not that I'm opposed to trying new things and new wines but if I had to pick a favourite it would more than likely be a red. That being said, I have recently discovered two wineries that may put red wine drinkers loyalty to the test. Both wines hail from the Niagara region and can be found at most LCBO and Wine Rack locations for $12.95 and sometimes as low as $10.20. 
The first one I'd like to present is Inniskillin's Late Autumn Riesling. It has a beautiful Straw colour and yields intense floral, fruit, honey, and apricot aromas. On the tongue it is off-dry with flavours of honey, lemon, apricot, and other fruits, balanced well with some acidity. It finishes with a long lasting flavour and thirst for more. As its alcohol percentage is only 10% it is dangerously easy to drink. On account of its fruity, almost juicy quality it can pair well with almost any dish and works very well on its own.
The second Riesling is produced by the Megalomaniac winery. It is very similar to the Late Autumn Riesling in that it is gorgeous clear, pale straw colour. However, it is superior in that way that it exudes floral and peach aromas with a touch of lemon to excite the nostrils. It is slightly dry; medium bodied and flavours of peach, apple and hints of honey relish on the tongue. The acidic, clean finish balances this wine expertly. It is simple magical how it seems to get better and more flavourful with each sip. Enjoy on its own or with a seafood dish such as grilled scallops. 
If you're a white drinker or a Riesling lover I highly suggest you give these two a try. I guarantee you will thoroughly enjoy them as I do. Even you red drinkers should give them a go. Enjoy!   



                                        

Thursday, 23 February 2012

J'aime mon Pinot Noir

As I have become quite the wine fanatic this year I thought it would be fun to watch a movie that involved or revolved around wine and pair it with a good bottle. First on the list was Sideways. Elizabeth had never seen it and I had only seen it a couple times but it is truly a classic. My favourite quote from the movie is right before the double date dinner when Paul Giamatti exclaims, "if anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!". It's hard to contain myself just reading it. If you didn't already know, Paul's character Myles is in love with Pinot Noir so I thought it would be nice to do a little Pinot sampler in light of the occasion. Below I have listed the four Pinot's that we tasted that night and the nights following. They are listed in order of price which also happens to be the order in which I rank them. I hate going against my mantra that expensive wine isn't always better but in this case it was true. As you can see there is a slight range in price but from my experience the diversity of flavour is profound. Either of these bottles are ready to please it just depends on your palate and what you enjoy.  

Inniskillin – Pinot Noir ($14.75):
When the wine is first poured you will be overcome by an aroma of bubble gum and fresh berries. The scent will dilute in a matter of minutes leaving gentle floral notes with a hint of raspberry. On the palate there is enough tannins balanced with strong fruity flavours with a pleasant sourness on the finish.

Hob Nob – Pinot Noir ($11.95):
This wine erupts with a bouquet of cherries, red fruits. On the palate, this wine is very light and well structured. Mild tannins balanced with just enough fruit. It is somewhat acidic and leaves a pleasant dryness on the back of the tongue. The finish is shorter I’d prefer but overall a pleasing experience.

Philip de Rothschild – Pinot Noir ($11.95):
This dry cherry-red coloured wine features medium floral, fruity and vegetal scents and offers a slender texture as well as smooth tannins.

Cono Sur – Pinot Noir ($10.95):
This wine looks like a Pinot, and tastes like juice. If you love cherries this is the wine for you. Unlike the soft, fruity bouquet and taste you expect when buying a Pinot, Cono Sur’s exhibits a vibrant nose and bold taste of cherries, finishing with hints of exotic spices. Plenty of tannins that smooth out given some time. Easy to drink but there are better Pinot’s for the price, so don’t let the bottle fool you.   

I hope these little snippets of information might help you pick a Pinot. If anyone has a Pinot they would like to recommend please do!


               


                                  

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Shampagne

When it comes to champagne… I can’t afford it. So I must resort to sparkling wine, and for me there is one name that always comes to mind that is also in my price range. Henkel Trocken. Having tried a handful of different sparkling wines I discovered that I enjoyed dry ones with mild sweetness and Henkel fit the bill. So on Valentine’s Day when Elizabeth and I were visiting the LCBO, we were more than excited when we discovered that Henkel produced a Rosé and what better day to stumble upon it than on this special occasion?
I have only had the pleasure of enjoying a couple Rosés in my drinking career and never a sparkling Rosé but I didn’t let that deter me from trying something new. Better yet, it was a dollar cheaper than Henkell Trocken, our usual buy.
I was thoroughly please with this purchase. It was a total delight. It had a gorgeous pink hue that glimmered in our cute flutes. The texture and taste was quite similar to Trokken but with a sweeter fruity finish. About a half hour later I was wishing I had bought two bottles. For only $12.65, with an alcohol percentage just as high, Henkell Rosé is a great choice for Valentine’s Day or any other special occasion or date night. 


PKNT is right for me!

I have recently discovered a winery that is new to my knowledge and without a doubt it has been the best surprise of the new year so I simply must tell you about it. The other week my girlfriend and I were at the LCBO perusing the aisles for something new and that is when we stumbled upon it. We had already picked up a bottle of Philip de Rothschild Pinot Noir and Coyote’s Run Unoaked Chardonnay and exuberantly thought we should get a third bottle. We usually stick to what we know but this day we were adventurous.
Whilst in the Chilean section, I saw my old friends, Cono Sur and Frontera, however there was another bottle that caught the eye. This certain bottle had a vibrant pink label and a large Chili pepper on it. My girlfriend had called me over and introduced me to it. I thought she had just been drawn in by the colourful label because I certainly was. “It’s called PKNT!” she exclaimed “my friend who works for Wine Access reviewed this”. This made me rethink the wine and give it a second chance.
The varietal was Carmenere, one of my more preferred grapes, especially when it comes to Chilean wine. It had won an award in 2011 and it is worth mentioning that it was also only $10.95! At first I was skeptical because the other bottles in my hands were $13 to $15. After reading the back label I learned that it is apparently pronounced pecan tea. I still don’t understand the meaning behind it but having read the description I was eager to taste it.
Upon returning home, Elizabeth and I readied our glasses and opened the bottle. The wine was a beautiful deep red, almost purple colour and smelled amazing. I was astounded that such a flavourful and elegant wine could be under $11 and it just so happened to be a perfect pair to our spicy chili dinner.
After that I was on a Carmenere kick. I purchased a couple other brands also from Chile but still PKNT was superior. Unfortunately, the closest LCBO for us doesn’t carry the Carmenere but they did have their Cabernet Sauvignon. Recently it has been on sale for $9.95, which is a great price for what you get. PKNT does produce many other varietals from Shiraz to Pinot Noir to Merlot, which I have yet to try but if they are as good as the Carmenere or Cabernet Sauvignon then I’m sure they will be superb. I definitely suggest giving PKNT a try.






Wine Rack Tasting

So I went to a Jackson-Triggs tasting at my local Wine Rack last Sunday. It was the first time I had been to a tasting event not at a winery and needless to say it was an experience. I arrived on time as I usually do, thinking that it would be the best way to get first pick of the wine. Other than being able to meet the winemaker himself, Marco Piccoli, I wasn’t quite sure what else to expect. I was nervous and thrilled by the fact that I would be drinking in public with people I didn’t know. 
As I approached the store I was greeted by one of the staff and the manager himself even welcomed me and eagerly asked if I’d like a drink. I happily obliged. To my surprise I was handed a glass! Not just a plastic Dixie cup and not only that but there was a good 2 to 3 ounces in it. This was by far the most impressive part of the visit. With my glass in hand, I sauntered around the store sipping at my white Meritage, vintage 2010. The store is not that large but with 10 or so people filling its single aisle it seemed very cramped.
To my knowledge this was the first time I had drunk a Meritage blend and to be frank it wasn’t all that memorable. It was crisp, cold, and fruity on the tongue and around the mouth. The finish was smooth, short and not overly sweet. I’m not sure if a second glass was permitted but either way I was more eager to try the red. Trying not to seem too much like I needed a drink, I asked the winemaker himself for a glass of the red. It was a 2009 red Meritage, a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. I have had both frustrating and pleasant experiences with each of the 3 varietals but never had the opportunity of trying a blend like this. I enjoyed the wine at the time but once I left the store I couldn’t tell you much about it. If it was either one of the 3 grapes I would have been happy but having the mix confused my taste buds.
Once I finished my glass I was ready to get out of there. I considered what it would look like to the manager or staff if they had seen me come in only to drink and then hit the road. So having pictured that in my mind I thought up a few questions to ask Marco. By the end of the conversation I found out that he preferred his Merlot in comparison to the other varietals and that I should contact him by email for a tour of the winery if I were back home in Niagara.
Having left the store I noticed that the Meritage taste was gone from my mouth but left me craving something greater, something familiar...with body. 

                          

Welcome!

As this is my inaugural post, I would like dedicate this blog to all the young oenophiles out there. I have always considered myself an oenophile in the literal sense of the word as I have always enjoyed a good bottle of wine. I've even drunk my fair share of bad wine for that matter. I first took a liking to wine as a means to a drunken end, but over the many years and bottles, the passion has grown and developed into a great appreciation and love for this remarkable elixir. As there are hundreds of options when it comes to buying a bottle of wine, it is so intriguing to me, and I’m sure it is too you, that the same grape and same vineyard can produce such different and distinct flavours year after year. It has also occurred to me that most of my experiences with wine include the same varietals and vineyards so I have been yearning for something new. As I veer away from the less than savoury homemade wines and plunge towards the myriad vintages the world has to offer, I am eager to discover the most delicious wines for the most reasonable prices. My goal is to travel the world from bottle to bottle, to discover, taste, and blog about all the world has to offer...to Canadians. As my girlfriend and I embark on this journey I invite you to join us and enjoy the stories, reviews, and hopefully some humour. Cheers!