Aren’t these pictures beautiful? They are pictures of Portugal and although I haven’t been to Portugal yet, in the past couple of months, I have had a couple of fantastic wines from Portugal. We recently studied Portugal when I took Old World Wine and we tasted a number of wines, and I’ve also had a couple of bottles of Portuguese wines given to me lately. So today we are going to venture to Portugal – a country that has fantastic wines, yet it amazes me when I talk to people, how few have tried the wines from Portugal. So here’s hoping today’s wine blog has you going out and trying a wine from this country.
I took this picture last night. I was having my Buffalo Chicken Southwestern Salad for dinner (after having a big lunch) and I have found the perfect wine to go with anything spicy and/or anything salad. This wine went together with the Buffalo Chicken like a long married couple. I love hot and spicy food, including Thai food, Indian cuisine, you name it. This is perfect, and perfectly affordable.
The wine is Alianca Vinho Verde from Portugal. Fresh, crisp with the perfect amount of acidity. The citrus and tropical fruit flavors together with some effervescence make this wine refreshing and fun to drink. Don’t get effervescence confused with sparkling. It is not a sparkling wine, but there’s just enough spritz to really bring out the flavors. Another Vinho Verde I have tried recently while studying about wines in Portugal is this one.
The Quinta Da Avaleda is a little dryer, but still tasty nonetheless. Those light fresh citrus notes are there along with some minerality and I understand this is a great wine that goes with mussels and oysters. As most of you know, I am allergic to most seafood, so I’m taking the word of people smarter than me on this subject. Another find from Portugal for all my red wine drinking friends, is this one.
This beauty from Portugal is under $20 as well, and it’s full-bodied, rich and has gorgeous fruit flavors mixed with notes of chocolate. What’s not to like about this wine? It’s big and bold and will complement any beef dish you would want to serve.
When people think of Portugal, they may be thinking just Port. There is much more to Portugal than just Port. Wines from Portugal are yet to be discovered by many people, and this is a country where wine and food are so important to the people. Known for hearty portions and big meaty dishes, Portugal offers a wide variety of wines from different regions, all focusing on the strength of that region.
Here’s one more I’ve tried recently. Made from Tempranillo and Touriga Nacional, this heavy duty baby can stand up to anything you put on a grill. With its fruit driven flavors and hints of wood and herbs, this was meant for meat. Touriga Nacional is a local grape variety from Portugal and many people believe one of the best, as it adds body and structure to wines.
When I started my journey to becoming a Sommelier, I promised I would bring you along with me, by sharing what I’ve learned about different wines from around the world. Portugal was fairly new to me until recently but if you want great wine at reasonable prices, head to the ‘Wines from Portugal’ section of your favorite wine store. You won’t be disappointed.
Till next week, Cheers
The Winter Olympics are still on and Canada is doing so well. It makes me feel like cooking! And cooking is something I have been doing…. and in my house, when you cook – you pair it with wine.
I have posted a recipe for Caprese Chicken before, but this is my own twist to the recipe. So, I am calling this one my own… and it tastes as good as it looks.
Darlene’s Caprese Chicken:
- Butterfly Chicken Breast (baked)
- Olive Oil (buy a quality one)
- Balsamic Vinegar (you can even use a flavored one)
- Baby plum tomatoes – the small and sweet ones
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Fresh Ground pepper
- Freeze dried onion flakes
- Salt is optional, I don’t tend to cook with it
- Fresh basil and parsley
Cook your chicken breast. In a small frying pan combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, onion flakes, garlic, mozzarella cheese, the baby plum tomatoes and salt and pepper. Sautee for a couple of minutes and pour on top of the chicken and garnish with the basil and parsley.
Guaranteed to wow family and friends. Now for the wine!
Here’s a match made in Valentine’s Day heaven. Kim Crawford Pinot Noir out of New Zealand. From the cooler regions of New Zealand, this Pinot Noir is flavorful and food friendly. Earthy tones with fruity black cherries and raspberries this wine would compliment, and not compete with all the flavors in the Caprese chicken. I decided to have a little fun with my original Caprese chicken recipe, and this is the wine I matched with it.
Drinking white with this dish? You can’t go wrong with most of the Chardonnay’s out of California. This one is from Dreaming Tree, getting a lot of good reviews about its Chardonnay, and the winery as a whole, co-owned by musician Dave Matthews. Beautiful citrus notes, apples and some spice, this is another great wine that won’t compete with the flavors of the dish, but will go hand in hand. I have a friend at work, Cassandra who loves the Dreaming Tree Red Crush. This would go with the Caprese Chicken as well. The Red Crush contains some of my favorite grapes in the whole world, 55% Merlot, which gives it those gorgeous smoky berry plum flavors, and rounded out with Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Syrah. Fruity, smooth but with great structure from the Syrah, this wine can stand up to just about any dish. For those that have never hear of Petite Sirah, it’s a different grape variety from Syrah, which is also known as Shiraz. Petite Sirah orginiated in France, as a clone with Syrah as the Daddy plant and Peloursin as the Momma plant. Petite Sirah is late to ripen, so it didn’t do well in France. It thrives well in California, where you will see many wine makers include it in a blend to add a deeper color, more distinct tannins and a velvety texture.
Well, the 2014 Winter Olympics have just started in Sochi Russia, and it got me to thinking of Gold Medal Winning wines. There are many different wine competitions throughout the world, including the International Wine Challenge based in Britain, the International Wine Competition based in Brussels, and what is believed to be the oldest and longest running wine competition ‘The International Wine and Spirit Competition’. It started in 1969 and is considered to be one of the most prestigious wine competitions in the world.
But in 2013 the Syrah VQA from the Okanogan Valley vineyard won the Gold Medal. The panel of judges had this to say “The nose is like opening a tin of maturing ginger cake. Sploshed with baked plum, blueberry coulis and a grind of pepper. The mouth entry is a confident start, plenty of fruit and firm supportive tannin structure. The acid and the spice notes chase each other through the palate. This is a big mouthful, lots of personality and verve. It balances itself beautifully. Very good cellaring potential.”
Last week I had a family emergency and had to fly home in a hurry. Thankfully everything ended up Ok, but it got me thinking a lot about Family. And as I visited my wine store last night I was looking at the shelves at some of my favorite family vineyards
Here is a favorite of mine, as many of you know. The vineyard owned by Francis Ford Coppola and his family was a winery I visited a few years ago. They put out many great wines, including this Black Diamond Claret, based on a Bordeaux style blend is Cabernet Sauvignon based.
Australia has a group of wine makers called ‘Australia’s 1st Families of Wine”, an initiative created by 12 family owned Australian wineries spanning 16 different regions in Australia. Together they have over 1200 years of winemaking experience, and although I haven’t tried all of them, some of the ones we can get in Canada are delicious.
Yalumba for example, makes a spectacular Viognier. I love Viognier, and has become my favorite wine to accompany turkey. Yalumba was started in 1849 by Samual Britch and the word ‘Yalumba’ is aboriginal for ‘All the Land Around”. Not only do they make a great Viognier, they also grow a Tempranillo in Australia. I love Tempranillo, however, I haven’t tried this one yet.
Another one on the list which is familiar here in Canada is the De Bortoli Family name. Reasonably priced, easy to drink wines from Australia. The Shiraz pictured below is juicy and jammy with gorgeous flavors of raspberry and is under $13. Wow.
New Zealand has a spectacular Family vineyard, called Saint Clair Family Estate. The Wines are available here in Canada and the Pinot Noir is so good it will bring you to your knees. I have tried two of the wines from the Saint Clair Family Estate.
The Sauvignon Blanc was the first Saint Clair wine I tried, and I loved it. Light bodied and crisp with gorgeous flavors and aromas. This is a beautiful expression of a Sauvignon Blanc wine from New Zealand.
The Pinot Noir is so good, you will sit in your home with a glass, and just smell the wine for a while. OK, I did that. First of all, Pinot Noir is probably my favorite wine of all time. Like Paul Giamatti’s character in the movie Sideways, I am captivated by the flavors and aromas of this finicky heart-break grape. (Unlike Paul’s character in the movie, I happen to love Merlot.) I guess Pinot Noir is hard to grow, and that I can really appreciate what the vintner goes through. Hints of cherry and raspberry greet your nose, and you will detect it was aged in French oak. A beautiful mouth-feel with a toasted spicy tobacco note. Serve it with any white meat, your house guests will love you.
I would be remiss without mentioning a family owned Vineyard from Canada. And Peller Estates, which started in 1927 by Andrew Peller, is run today by his grandson John Peller. It’s been over 50 years since Andrew Peller’s first vintage, and I’m proud as hell that this vineyard is located here in Canada.
A big thank you to the huge amount of you that shared and read last week’s blog on comfort food. I had tremendous feedback, especially from some non-wine drinkers who really enjoyed the recipes. (Lisa, again thanks for the great idea)…Are we on to something here? Or is winter bringing out the comfort food in people? It doesn’t matter, here are a few more of my favorite recipes with some of my favorite wines and some new wines I have discovered since the holidays.
Nothing irritates me more than making a recipe, and it doesn’t come out looking like the recipe. I guarantee, if you try this recipe, it will come out looking like the picture above. Also, it is so easy, both my cooking-challenged sisters could make this recipe, and it would still come out looking like the picture. I had this recipe last night, so I thought I would share it today. EASY!
Caprese Chicken (5 easy ingredients)
* Chicken Breast * Mozzarella Cheese *Balsamic Vinegar * Tomato * Sun-dried Tomato Salad Dressing *Basil
- Cook the chicken in the Sun-dried Tomato Salad Dressing till almost done
- Slice real Mozzarella cheese and place it on top
- Lay a slice of tomato (or 2) on top
Finish cooking, till the Mozzarella cheese has started to melt down the sides
Remote from heat, and drizzle Balsamic vinegar over the chicken. Sprinkle with Basil, and I love fresh Basil.
Every time I make this for guests, they are super impressed, and honestly, it’s my week-day go-to chicken dish, because it is so easy.
Now the fun part….. matching the wine!
This is the wine I had with it, it’s a Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Oh, to say they were good together would be an understatement. It was divine. It was a 2006 Savigny Les Beaune from the Burguny region in France. So flavorful and smooth, there is not a drop left in that bottle this morning.
The wine next to it is a new wine I have discovered this past week, and it would be a great wine to go with those delicious chicken flavors. A blend of Syrah (55%), Grenache, Mourvedre and Petit Sirah make it complex enough to stand up to all those unique flavors in the Caprese Chicken, but won’t over power it. Winemaker Austin Hope has created a delicious fruity wine with flavors of smoke and violets. I have to stop recommending wine to people, I went back to buy more at my favorite store and it was sold out. As was this one….
The DaDa 2 from Argentina, which is 100% Merlot, was sold out as well. This wine would also go excellent with the chicken, and at just $15.99 a bottle, this is a staple in my wine rack. I have everyone at the Radio Station I work at (the job that pays for the wine) drinking this wine and loving it…. I have to stop that.. (only kidding). Plump, juicy and flavorful, this wine goes great with most chicken and pork dishes.
On that note, I thought this was good advice to leave you with. Live Simply, Laugh Often and Wine A Lot! Thanks for sharing with your friends, it’s greatly appreciated.
Till next week, In Vino Veritas (In Wine there is Truth)
Every once in a while, I get writer’s block. For the past 3 years, I have consistently wrote a wine blog on Saturday mornings, and I never want to skip a Saturday, because I really appreciate the people who tell me that they enjoy sitting with a cup of coffee and reading the blog. So a big thank you to my friend Lisa Peach Butt, who gave me the idea behind this week’s blog. I put it out on the Wine – In My Opinion Facebook page (shameless plug here – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wine-In-My-Opinion/223994754407204) and she told me one of the things she’d like to know is which wine to serve with which food.
And since most of Canada and much of the United States is in the middle of a polar vortex, and we are having one of the worst winters in a few years…. I thought back on the food I’ve been cooking and eating these past couple of weeks. I’m not only going to write on Comfort food, and which wine goes best with your favorite comfort foods, but I’m going to share some of my favorite comfort food recipes.
This is what I had last night, with some honey roasted potatoes. It’s a Spicy Honey Chicken. Simple and easy to make. Combine honey, paprika, garlic, cayenne pepper, vinegar, (I used balsamic), chili powder and some salt and pepper. I added some Frank’s Hot Sauce, because I like spicy food, but it wasn’t in the recipe. Mix it all together, and pour it over your favorite chicken. Last night I used thighs. Bake it in the oven till the chicken is done, or you can do what I did, and take advantage of +1 degree weather, and BBQ’d it. I used an aluminum foil pan from the dollar store, and did it on the grill.
And this is the wine I had with it. A brand new Pinot Noir I tried from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. And it didn’t disappoint. Winemaker Brent Marris created a beauty with the perfect amount of acidity and a light touch of oak that came in under $20. Any Pinot Noir will do because the soft vibrant flavors of the wine don’t compete with the taste of the dish, and even a nice Zinfandel. Pictured is one of my favorites, 7 Deadly Zins, which I always have in my wine rack. For my white wine loving friends, because of the spiciness of the chicken, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio. You can go with Chardonnay for a chicken dish, but the spiciness of this particular dish, I think, pairs well with something a little more crisp. Here are a couple of my favorites, which come in around the $20 mark here in Canada. The Sauvignon Blanc is from New Zealand, and the Pinot Grigio is from Italy. Both wines are light and crisp won’t overpower the chicken, but compliment it.
Also this past week, I made Bowtie Chicken Alfredo Pasta. You know, the weight scale wouldn’t groan as much as it does, if there wasn’t decadent delicious foods like this pasta dish.
I know…. right? Mercy, it was good. I got this from a website called ‘The Pioneer Woman’. Ree Drummond is my hero. She can cook like no man’s tomorrow. She has a show on the Food Network and a wonderful website. What I like most about the website, The Pioneer Woman, is that she breaks down the recipes step by step, and shows pictures along the way. Here is the link to the recipe for Bowtie Chicken Alfredo. The only thing I added, because with the heavy cream and real butter I was worried it may not have had enough calories, (groan!) I added real bacon bits. I cooked a couple of strips of maple infused bacon, and made bacon bits.
Here it is again, the beginning of a brand new year. I always look at this time of the year as a clean slate. It’s exciting, we get to write what we want 2014 to look like. There’s a quote that says, and I’m not sure who said it, but it goes something like this… “Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch again”. And although I am not one to make resolutions, I do have some ideas of what I would like to do in 2014, especially as it relates to wine!
As most of you know, I take a big trip every year, and this year I have the opportunity to travel to Tuscanny. A group of new friends I met through my Old World Wine Class this past year are going on a guided trip, headed by our teacher. Mark DeWolf is the President of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, and he also owns a company called By The Glass, which does guided tours through Italy. It’s a fantastic opportunity and the only thing I have to check on, is because most meals are included, I have to see how much seafood fare is on the menu, as I am allergic. But there are 9 winery tours lined up – how exciting will that be!
It’s hard to believe another year has come to an end. In a few days we will ring in 2014, and I swear, the older I get, the faster the time goes. It was a great year in many ways. I have settled into the city of Halifax very well, and I love this city. I have also furthered my education into my journey to becoming a Sommelier. And I got to be interviewed along with Sebastian Jacquey, winemaker at Le Clos Jordanne, along with Natalie Maclean.
Here is one of the highlights of my wine year.
Another highlight in my wine year, was I got to taste a wide variety of wines, thanks to the CAPS program, Old World Wine, Module 3. I fell in love with Tokaji wine. Before this year, I didn’t know what Tokaji was, let alone that Hungary made this luscious beauty, out of grapes I have never heard of. Have you ever heard of Furmint? or Haarslevelu? Those are the grapes that contribute to this beautiful wine.
Tokaji Aszu is a full-bodied dessert wine that has gorgeous flavors of honey and apricots, balanced with sweet richness and uplifting acidity. This is the wine I had after my Christmas turkey dinner. I wasn’t in the mood for the cake dessert, but wanted something a little sweet. I served it ice cold, and savored every moment. It’s a bit of treat, as are all Tokaji wines. They are labor intensive and worth every penny.
I also discovered the world of Bordeaux France this year. I didn’t know a lot about French wines, and I was thrilled to be able to try so many this year, thanks to my course. Left Bank is Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, and Right Bank Merlot dominant. I discovered beautiful Pomerol and St. Emilion wines. This was one of my favorites that I got to try this year.
At $76 a bottle, it was a great treat. A blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc, was a beautiful silky expression of a Pomerol from Bordeaux France. Robert Parker gave this wine a 92 Rating. It is beautiful. I also discovered the joy of Burgundian wines. A French Burgundy red is Pinot Noir (unless it’s Beaujolais), and regular readers of this blog know I just love a Pinot Noir.
Who knew that some of the vineyards in Burgundy are so small, as small as 10 acres, that they can’t afford to go to market with their wines, so they use a Negociant. Pinot Noir offers smooth flavors of red cherries, great structure and fine tannins. I love the food friendliness a Pinot Noir offers, it goes with everything.
Here’s the wine from Italy that took top honors from the Port of Wines Show in Nova Scotia. Taurasi was a new discovery for me as well and the Vesevo Taurasi was one of the best. Deeply colored wine and bold flavors of plums, licorice and spices, this wine is known as the Barolo of the South. Using the Aglianico grape, I recently had the opportunity to try another one. The Piano Cerro Aglianico Reserva is another gorgeous expression of Aglianico. I have the opportunity to go to Italy in 2014 and I’m pretty sure that’s where the vacation will be this year.
A note to say Happy New Year and thank you so much for taking the time out each week to read the blog, and to share it with family and friends.
Here’s to a great 2014.
Gave the lustre of Merlot a beautiful shine.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
I ran to get a glass, so glad that he came!
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on Donner and Blitzen!
Out to the porch, I gave him a call!
Offering red or white, you can have it all !”
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
And politely inquired if I had any Alsace.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”
Last week we told you about some of the Mrs. Claus’ favorites wines, however we only got a few countries covered. We did Canada, the United States, Chile, and Argentina. Now it’s time to go across the pond and tell you about Mrs. Claus’ favorite wines from a few other places. Let’s travel to New Zealand, where they are famous for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
Above is the Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc, and like all Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand, this is a beautiful crisp white wine, with refreshing acidity and loaded with flavors of citrus and a hint of tropical flavors. This is Mrs. Claus’ all time favorite wine with a salad, and it goes great with Sushi as well. The next one is Kim Crawford Pinot Noir. Kim Crawford Winery has been winning awards for their Pinot Noir wines and Sauvignon Blanc wines, and is one of Mrs. Claus’ favorites vineyards in New Zealand. Many wine critics are saying New Zealand Pinot Noir can compete with the best from Burgundy, France. Mrs. Claus likes the vibrant fruit flavors with spicy and herbal notes. She thinks it’s one of the best wines that go with most dishes she serves the jolly red fellow.
When Santa leaves New Zealand, he usually heads to Australia, and while’s he’s there he knows he better pick the Mrs. up a bottle of wine from Wolf Blass. Wolf Blass has been make great wines since 1966, and if the truth be known, Mrs. Claus has a little crush on Wolf, rascal that he is.
Most places around the world, people leave out milk and cookies for Santa. Wolf knows to leave out a bottle of his Platinum Label Shiraz for Mrs. Claus. A great representation of the terroir, Mrs. Claus loves the big bold flavors of blueberries, spice, dark chocolate with a hint of coffee. I have a feeling this will be on many people’s Christmas list this year, it’s spectacular.
Santa heads up to France, never forgetting to pick up a special dessert wine from Sauternes. After a big meal, sometimes Mrs. Claus doesn’t want a big heavy dessert, but loves this 2007 dessert wine from Chateau de Myrat. Luscious full-bodied flavors of apricot, toffee and a slight raisin flavor makes this wine of her favorites. And he also treats her to a Bordeaux, from Pomerol on the Right Bank of Bordeaux. This Christian Mouix Pomerol has gorgeous plum flavors and good structure. It’s a good value for a Bordeaux wine from the region of Pomerol, some of thse can get quite expensive.
And last but not least, on his stop in Italy, he picks up a Masi Amarone. Mrs. Claus just loves the rich, opulent, mouth-watering feel of a good Amarone. Dried fruit, cinnamon, and cherries on a full-bodied palate with a great finish. This is one of Santa’s favorites with pasta.
Well, Santa gets pretty tired after all his travels on Christmas Eve. And while he rests, Mrs. Claus tries to decide which wine to open first.
Merry Christmas everyone, and please drink responsibly this holiday season. A cab is the easy way to go.
Everyone knows behind a strong man, is even a stronger woman. And Santa is no exception. So this week I am paying tribute to Mrs. Claus with telling you about her favorite wines. Mrs. Claus gets to enjoy wines from around the world, as her husband travels the globe once a year. So here are a few of her favorites from around the world.
Let’s start right here at home in Canada. Mrs. Claus loves wines from Canada, and 2 of her favorite vineyards in Canada are Burrowing Owl in BC and Le Clos Jordanne in Ontario.
Well folks, unless you’ve hiding under a rock, the Christmas stuff is out. And if you are a customer of certain stores, you’ve been looking at Christmas ornaments since July. So I have decided to share my Christmas Wish List.
This is the Remembrance Day weekend here in Canada, and Monday, November 11th is Remembrance Day. I am humbled by those men and women that have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country and I am in awe of all those that are serving in the military today. We live in a country where we can all voice an opinion, and not be afraid of persecution. Today there are still people in the world that can end up in jail for expressing an opinion that the government deems wrong. I don’t think we should ever take these freedoms for granted.
So as my way of saying thank you to the men and women that defend our country and serve in our military, here are a few of my favorite wines in your honor.
Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay:
I love a California Chardonnay and this was one of my favorites. Silky rich with flavors and aromas of fresh fruit, some floral notes and vanilla toasted oak. It has very crisp acidity so it doesn’t weigh heavy in the mouth. This balanced wine will compliment any chicken dish you might be having this weekend, and just about anything you are serving food wise.
Chateau La Commanderie Cru Bourgeois Saint Estephe
This full-bodied wine from the Left Bank of Bordeaux is ripe and has distinct tannins. It bursts of flavor of black currants, savory spice, caramel and oak. It will make a commanding presence at any BBQ this long weekend and any beef dish.
Eric Chevalier MusCadet 2010
This is a gorgeous breezy white wine that has a bit of sweetness. It is a light bodied wine with crisp acidity and gorgeous flavors of lemon and lime. Aged in glass, so for all my wine drinking friends that are not big fans of oak, this is a beauty. This wine will perform perfectly with seafood, including this seafood chowders.
Captain‘s Walk Winery:
In Green Bay, Wisconsin, there is a beautiful little winery called Captain’s Walk Winery. This gorgeous property offers wine tasting in a laid back atmosphere. A great place to experience award-winning wines in casual environment.
This is the Captain’s Walk Merlot. This, or pretty much any Merlot will go deliciously with any pork dish you are serving. I love a nice smoky Merlot with pork tenderloin or grilled pork. Medium bodied wine with soft tannins and big juicy plummy flavors.
On this very special day, I ask that this be more about, just another long weekend. This is a day of remembrance for those who fought and the many who died for our country. I also personally acknowledge our current serving members of the military. And if you see a veteran this weekend, please say thank you and shake the person’s hand. It’s the very least we can do
When was the last time you tried a new wine? One of the things I hear most, is that people buy the same wine over and over because it’s easy. It’s not stressful. And they know they will like it. And hey, who wants to take the chance of not liking it? It probably doesn’t surprise you that people buy the same wine over and over again – you may be one of them.
Take a look at this guy’s face. That is the look of utter contentment. My goal for this blog is that you go out this week and buy one wine that you’ve never had before. Here are some things you may want to consider.
1. What is your favorite wine? What is the grape varietal? Is it Merlot? Cabernet Sauvignon? Chardonnay? There’s your starting point. If you like a certain grape varietal – try one from a different country. I love many different wines. My two favorites reds are probably Merlot and Pinot Noir.
Here are a few of my favorite Merlot Wines, each from a different country.
Some of my favorite go-to Merlot wines, and they are all under $20. The first one is from the USA, the second from Bordeaux France, the third from Italy and the 4th from Argentina. The Barone Montalto was a brand new find this week for me. A dandy Merlot with flavors of blackberry and plum with vanilla and chocolate. And it’s $16.99. That’s not scary. All the above Merlot wines are flavorful, food friendly and easy to drink. And they are all under $20, so they are easy to buy.
2. What country is it from? Are you a lover of an Australian Shiraz? or a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand? Or a California Cabernet Sauvignon? Then try different wines from your favorite country. Here’s a few of my favorite Shiraz wines from Australia.
Do you have any idea how many great Shiraz wines come out of Australia? If you’re putting a steak on the barbecue, or having a great pot roast, try one of these wines. Shiraz wines from Australia, especially these from McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley are full-bodied, structured, fruit forward and probably have seen oak. Now for my white wine loving friends, here are some of my favorite Sauvignon Blanc wines from New Zealand.
Sauvignon Blanc, especially from New Zealand are refreshing crisp white wines. They have gorgeous flavors of citrus and is the only wine I would serve with a salad with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar base.
Now being in a wine rut is probably not the worst place to be, because many of you may argue you like your favorites. However, you are missing out on many great new wine discoveries. Did you know if you drink the same wine time and time again, your palate may become dulled, and even your favorite won’t have that great taste you once loved about it.
3. Another way to get out of your wine rut – you could read a wine blog. And thank you for choosing that way. Or you could look up wine reviews or the favorite wines of wine writers. Afraid to try a California Cabernet? I had a new one this week, so I’ve put it here along with a couple of previous favorites.
So there you have it for this week. Put down the old wine favorite. Venture a little further down the aisle, or in a brand new section. Discover something new today. I would love to hear about your experience. Carpe Diem – seize the day.
It’s an exciting time for wine from all around the world.
Till next week, Cheers
Did you know the 100 Point Rating system in wine was created by wine critic Robert Parker in the 1970′s? And it’s very commonly used today.
By now you may have guessed I’m a big lover of wine. I’m also a big lover of food. Oh yes, as anyone at work can attest to… I love to cook and I love to eat. Sometimes I love to do both at once, eat while I’m cooking – while enjoying a glass of wine, of course. And except for a waistline a little bigger than I would like, life is good – Life is very good. So let’s have dinner together.
We’ll start with the salad. This is one I’ve made recently, and actually make it quite a bit. The secret is in the homemade dressing, and trust me, it’s simple. (And don’t worry, this is still a wine blog – I will be pairing with my favorite wine for the dish)
Real bacon bits
Red & green peppers cut up
Toasted pecans (you can use almonds),
Blue cheese, but I use fresh parmesan a fair bit… it’s your choice of cheese.
I’ve mixed up this variation by adding sliced beets, sunflower seeds, apples or pears, carrots and a variety of other things I find in the fridge. It’s a free for all really
Darlene’s Secret Dressing: (Ok, time for the big unveil)
Olive Oil (please please please – use good stuff) It makes such a difference in the taste
Balsamic Vinegar (I get mine from the same place I get my Olive Oil and use flavored balsamic like Maple or Cinnamon and Pear.
Real Garlic (I used minced)
A grainy Mustard .. I use Maille (here’s a picture of the one I use).. Available in every grocery store
Now shake these in a jar… shake well, till you get the consistency you like. Drizzle over the salad…
Normally, salad is wine killer. There aren’t many wines that go with salad, especially if you use an Olive Oil and Balsamic vinegar base. But crisp white wines with good acidity will make all the difference in the world. A crisp acidic wine like Sauvignon Blanc. A Riesling also works, but if you don’t like the sweetness of a Riesling try one of the many fantastic Sauvignon Blanc wines out there. Here’s a few of mine.
These three are all from the Marlborough region in New Zealand, famous for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. But our local Liquor store carries 120 different Sauvignon Blanc wines and there are great ones from France, Australia, California and Canada.
Main Course – Caprese Chicken
Want to impress people with a dish that is so easy you’ll be a bit embarrassed? Caprese chicken. Buy those super thin chicken breast, chicken breast cutlets, and cook. As the picture is above, I do mine a lot on the grill. However, to keep your grill clean, go to the dollar store and buy those aluminum foil baking pans. Mozzarella cheese is melted on this, and could cause quite a mess on the grill.
- Thin Chicken Breasts
- Mozzarella Cheese
- A slice of tomato per breast
- Balsamic Vinegar
Cook the chicken , and in the final stages, put mozzarella cheese on top, and a slice of tomato. Let cook. (you can grill the tomato as well, and then lay it on top) When you remove it from the grill, drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top.
I know… you’re looking for the rest of the recipe. That’s it… simple… serve with rice or potato side and your favorite vegetable, and your guests will love it and you’ll look super handy in the kitchen.
Matching wines! Name your favorite wine, and chances are it will go with this dish. I’ve served this with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Merlot just to name a few. And here are some of my favorites.
Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay is my all time favorite. And yes, it’s a treat wine. For more information about this wine, click here.
Here are some more of my favorites that are all under $20.
The first one is Dreaming Tree Chardonnay, and Dave Matthews the musician is one of the owners. Great wine. Then there is Chateau St. Jean Pinot Noir from California, which will go with any chicken dish you can serve. And finally The Velvet Devil Merlot from Washington State. The name says it all.
Desserts – ensure what’s in the glass is sweeter than what’s on the plate. Here are a few excellent dessert wines.
The first two are from right here in Nova Scotia, the first one is Blomidon Ice Wine, rich textured and refreshing. The second one is Benjamin Bridge, and if you haven’t tried it yet, their Nova 7 is fantastic. This ice wine is another fantastic wine from winemakers Jean-Benoit Deslauriers and Peter J. Gamble, it’s Borealis. And the third is another Canadian great – Inniskillen Ice Wine.
Until next week – Cheers
It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and it’s a time to enjoy family and friends and give thanks. I have been very blessed in this lifetime with a great family and fantastic friends, and I love to enjoy the times with good food and wine.
Many of us will be serving turkey this weekend, and the age-old question for turkey dinners is ‘Which wines go best with turkey’? I have a couple of favorites that I would like to share.
How about trying a wine you’ve probably never heard of before? One of my favorites is the crisp refreshing Viognier. Vee-what? Pronounced Vee-Oh-Nay, this crisp white wine is a perfect complement to turkey. The one pictured is probably my favorite, Stags Leap Viognier, one of the more pricier ones, but you can get Viognier starting at about $15.99. Elegant, crisp with perfect acidity. Other great options for a white wine to go with turkey are Riesling, Pinot Grigio and my other favorite Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are both crisp, well-balanced and again, has that perfect combination of acidity that will go well with the turkey, stuffing and potatoes. Riesling is a little sweeter, but pairs with some of the saltier foods that may be served this weekend. Some perfect examples are pictured below.
But Darlene, I only drink red wine. No worries… we have a red for that. Like Pinot Grigio, its red cousin, Pinot Noir, can also go with turkey. Generally, Pinot Noir is light to medium bodied, so it doesn’t over-power the turkey. And it’s peppery flavors can really compliment the gravy. Pinot Noir also has bright acidity to compliment the turkey and soft tannins which pairs well with green vegetables. A couple of my favorites.
Chateau St. Jean is a beautiful Pinot for under $20 and the Pierre Andrew Volnay is a French Burgundy wine, which is Pinot Noir. It’s a little more pricey, at about $45, but a beautiful soft wine with lots of flavor. These wines go well whether you are serving turkey or ham. If you can’t find either of these, head to the New Zealand section of your Liquor Store or Wine store. New Zealand makes beautiful Pinot Noir, as well as some of the best Sauvignon Blanc I have ever tasted.
Other reds to consider for Thanksgiving dinner is a Beaujolais, young and fruity, you need to drink it quite cool to preserve the flavors. The one below is one I have recently tried from Louis Jadot. Believe it or not, sparkling reds or whites will also pair well with turkey.
But Darlene, I’m not serving turkey, I’m serving ham. Another delicious Thanksgiving meal. Maybe you’re like me and serving both. Pinot Noir’s go great with pork, as does a beautiful California Zinfandel. Check out this one from St. Francis, but be careful, it has 15.7% alcohol. And although the alcohol doesn’t over-power the taste the wine, you will feel it once you get near the end of the bottle. And if you think that may be a little much, the next one is Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel, a beauty of a wine for under $20.
On this Thanksgiving Weekend, I would be re-miss if I didn’t thank each and every one of you for joining me on my journey to becoming a Sommelier. I appreciate and are humbled every time you take time out of your busy day and week to read my blog. All comments and feedback are greatly appreciated, and are always welcome. Wine – In My Opinion also has a Facebook page with daily anecdotes, wine reviews and fun comments about wine in general. You can find it here https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wine-In-My-Opinion/223994754407204
Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends and family. Cheers
Autumn is my favorite time of the year. I love the cool crisp feel and the gorgeous colors. I believe I fell in love with Autumn growing up on the West Coast of Newfoundland. The pictures above are of my hometown, Corner Brook, Newfoundland. A small town surrounded by trees and water and it is gorgeous in the Fall. It’s also time for comfort food, and sitting in front of a fireplace with a great glass of wine on a cool evening.
I thought I would share some of my Fall favorites for wine (and maybe even some food)
Ahhh,,, comfort food. Pizza, pasta, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, pot roast, and turkey… just to name a few. We all have our own version of what comfort food is. And one thing I know for certain, there is a wine out there for you!
Here is one of the best deals in the Liquor store today – In My Opinion. At $15.99 a bottle, this is a gorgeous wine. It is predominantly Merlot, which gives it all its plump juicy fruit flavors, with some Syrah (Shiraz) and Cabernet Franc for structure and body. This is the Marilyn Munroe of full-bodied wines. Dada means a favorite subject or obsessive idea….And, wine is one my favorite subjects, and some might say a little obsessed. Maybe that’s why I like this wine so much. Or could be all those smoky plum flavors that come alive in your mouth with a hint of oak that does not over-power the wine. Yeah, that’s it. Also, this wine is made and bottled with no Sulphur Dioxide, no sulphites. Hmmm, no headache? And it will go with most of your favorite comfort foods, mac and cheese, pizza, pork chops and is big enough to handle beef as well.
Comfort food is just that… comfortable. It nourishes our soul, and we start to feel good and let go of anything that resembles a bad day. Wine that goes with comfort food should do the same thing. If you’re idea of comfort food is ooey gooey mac and cheese, here’s a great wine. One of my favorites hails from California and is the J. Lohr Chardonnay. At around $20, here’s another great wine you can enjoy any night of the week. Aromas of nectarine, pear and apples greet you and will bring back memories of Mom’s apple pie. Gorgeous buttery smooth with a hint of vanilla toastiness from the oak barrels, and you’ll find yourself cooking comfort food more often.
There’s no way I can write a food and wine blog without mentioning my favorite comfort food – pasta. And probably my favorite wine varietal – Old Vine Zinfandels. The St. Francis Old Vine Zinfandel is a flavorful beauty but be careful, it packs a punch with 15.7% alcohol. Believe it or not, the alcohol doesn’t over-power the wine – but if you’re a cheap drunk, you may want to be extra careful with this one. For every 3 bottles of wine opened in the United States, 2 of them come from California. And for good reason – they make great wine. This one is zest and balanced and full of spicy cherry flavors. Zinfandel is very food friendly so it will go with pretty well anything. And if you don’t like the thought of that much alcohol in your wine, try one of these Old Vine Zinfandels. They will be a welcome addition to any dinner table and they are all delicious.
I have a confession to make. The response to my last 2 blogs have been so overwhelming, that I actually got writer’s block thinking about it. I want to thank everyone for reading and sharing my blog, I am very appreciative and very humbled that you would take the time out of your busy lives to spend a few minutes with me and my thoughts on wine. A very big thank you to my good friend and colleague in Radio, Anthony, who helped me with this bout of writer’s block. Anthony is a genius in the Production room, and he too, learns something about wine every day. So I went to him and he came up with the topic of today’s blog.
I would like to welcome all my new Twitter followers from the United States and abroad over the past few weeks, and all my friends here in Canada as well. I love having you as part of my journey to become a Sommelier.
Next week is Thanksgiving here in Canada, and next week’s blog is dedicated to all of you. I will be giving thanks to great friends, great wine and great times together.
Thank you to everyone who read last week’s blog and shared with family and friends. I had an over-whelming response to the blog, so I’ve decided to do part 2 – there are many more questions out there when it comes to wine, and that’s OK!
How Will I Know If I Got A Bad Bottle of Wine?
Remember, even if you don’t like a particular wine, it doesn’t mean it’s gone bad. However, all of us, in our wine drinking glee, will experience a bottle of wine or two that is faulty. Did you know there is a greater chance you can get a bad wine with a corked wine, over a screw cap? That’s why many of the high-end vineyards around the world are turning to screw caps. Less chance oxygen can get in and ruin your wine. One of the signs is a cloudy wine. Now don’t confuse cloudy with unfiltered, which can have some sediment. A bad wine will be pretty evident in the aromas. If it smells like wet dog or wet cardboard, there’s a good chance your wine is faulty. Other aromas that you should on alert for is vinegar, nail polish remover, burnt rubber, cabbage or barnyard.
I Had A wine Once and Liked It, and now this time I don’t. Why?
If you have determined that the wine hasn’t gone bad, look at what you are eating. Although many wines go with all kinds of foods, there are times when a wine clashes with food, and it won’t taste right. A key element in wine and food pairing is the acid, or acidity in both the food and the wine. Acidity can bring a freshness to food, a lift. Acidity in wine can do the same thing. When looking for a wine to go with an acidic dish, you should make sure that the perceived acidity of the wine is at least equal to that of the food, or the wine will taste bland and washed out. Salads are really challenging, which is why I always try to pair a salad with a crisp acidic Sauvignon Blanc. Salt is another big factor that will tamper with the taste of your wine. Salt can make an oaky Chardonnay taste different and strip the fruit right out of a nice red wine. Sweet wines go hand in hand with salty foods.
What Does The Year On the Label Mean?
This is the year the grapes were grown and harvested, not the year the wine was released. Many vineyards like to age their wines, especially reds. This gives a person an opportunity to study up on that year in that region, if they so desire. Many factors play a role in the taste of a wine, especially year to year. And one of the major factors is weather. If your bottle of wine doesn’t show a year, it usually means it’s a blended vintage, which means the wine was made from grapes from more than one year.
How Long Should I Age Wine?
Here’s a fact that may surprise most people! 90% of all wines in your local Liquor Store were meant to be drank in the first 3 years. Especially any wine in a clear bottle. If the bottle is clear, you should drink it within the first 3 years. You’ll see many white wines especially in your local Liquor store that are in clear bottles. And even some reds. It is a misconception that you must age wine. Some wines will mature and improve with age. Master of Wine Jancis Robinson estimates about 5% of white wine and 10% of red wine can improve with age. Wines with high level of tannins tend to improve with age. For example Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah (Shiraz) and the Italian wine Nebbiolo are wines that tend to be very tannic.
Please feel free to pass along any comments and don’t hesitate to forward me your question about wine. I will do my best to answer.
Thanks again for reading and sharing.
Since wine is a hobby of wine, I get asked a lot of questions about wine on a weekly basis. So I thought, it would be a great opportunity to share those most commonly asked questions and my opinion of the answer. Please keep in mind the blog is called ‘In My Opinion’ and if you were to ask someone else, they may have a different answer.
What makes a good wine?
This is by far the most popular question I get asked. And my answer is always the same “Any wine you like is a good wine”. I remember being in the Napa Valley in 2001 and asking that question to the guy doing my wine tasting at the vineyard belonging to Francis Ford Coppola. And he said those same words to me, and I remember feeling a little jilted on the answer. But think about it. My friend Anthony doesn’t like Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. I love both Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. So if someone were to offer him a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, he wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I do. So to him, it wouldn’t be a good wine, but I may love it. Wine is like food – some foods you love, some foods you like, and some foods you don’t like. People’s opinions of what makes a good wine will vary – and no one is wrong.
What Temperature should I serve my wine?
Sadly, many people won’t try Red wines because they don’t like the warm taste to their lips. Many people, including most restaurants, serve the red wine too warm. I was having a glass of wine with friends last night at a wine bar downtown. The red wine was served too warm, and I was a little disappointed because this place specializes in wine. Coffee should be warm, not red wine. This myth about ‘room temperature’ started back in the day when it was meant for the room temperature of the underground wine cellars. Even in the 1800′s homes around the world were not heated to a cozy 72-degrees. Most red wine should be served between 15 – 17 degrees Celsius, 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Some bigger wines, like a Shiraz, can be served at 18 degrees and some lighter wines at 13-degrees. White wines should be served between 9 degrees for a light wine and 11 – 13 for a big bodied white.
Does a screw cap bottle mean it’s a cheaper wine?
NO! It’s funny, we were sitting around last night and a friend of mine said she doesn’t buy bottles of wine with screw caps because it doesn’t feel right to her. More and more this perception is going away as more quality vineyards start replacing cork with screw caps. Here’s the deal. 10% of wines with cork get brought back they are bad – corks provide an irregular seal because of things like temperature swings. Only 4% of screw cap wines get bought back.
How long does a Wine last once it’s opened?
This question should have probably been Number 2! Like most of us, we would love a glass of wine at times, but wonder if the remainder of the bottle will go bad. The answer is no. The first thing you should do is seal and refrigerate the wine. Wine breaks reacts with oxygen when its warm and in smaller amounts, like a couple of hours, can really have the wine open up and enhance it’s flavor. Not for a couple of days though. So go to a Kitchen store and invest in a re-usable cork or wine seal. And put it in the fridge. When you go to drink it again, take out a glass, or the bottle for 20 to 30 minutes before you intend to drink it.
Why does some wine give me a headache?
Anyone who has ever gotten drunk on red wine knows it is the meanest of hangovers. Although most people blame it on the Sulphites, there are actually more Sulphites in white wine than there is in red. Chances are it’s the histamines. Histamines are found in the skins of the wines, and since so many red wines involve the skins, red wine gets a bit of a bad rap. Ease into red wine drinking. And take it from someone who has been down this painful road, don’t mix red wine with other drinks.
Next week we will continue with the frequently asked questions. And please, by all means, send me your questions. I will do my very best to answer them. Next week we will answer all your questions, plus touch on the subject of “How do I know if a wine is gone bad’? And ‘the first time I tried this wine I liked it, the second time – not so much… why is that?
Till next week, thanks for reading. I appreciate all feed back
I’ve never been to Bordeaux France, but it sure looks like a beautiful place to visit one day. I do know one thing for sure, they make beautiful wine in Bordeaux. In the 1930′s, after the introduction of the railroad, grapes were coming in from other places, and were being sold as ‘Bordeaux’. France had some fraudulent practices happening. So, in 1935 they formed Appellations, a system in which to define a wine region, by it’s grapes. In Bordeaux, only certain grapes are allowed to be grown, so you know what you’re getting. And this is true throughout France.
Bordeaux wines are Blends. Because of ecology, the reduced risk of a total crop loss and the potential to create more complex wines, a bottle of Bordeaux is a blend. Let’s start with the Reds. Grapes grown in Bordeaux that will make up a red wine are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot and less common now Carmenere. Bordeaux wines are usually Cabernet Sauvignon dominant or Merlot dominant. Bordeaux in Britian is referred to as Claret. (not pronounced Clar-ay, as one might think, but the ’t’ is pronounced – clar-ette). Britian is a very important country in the wine world, not because it grows a lot of grapes, but because it buys a lot of wine.
Here’s one of my favorites that I have written about before, and still have one bottle in my wine rack. It’s the Black Label Claret from Francis Ford Coppola. If this wine originated in France, it would be labeled a Bordeaux. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It is Cabernet Sauvignon dominant with big bold flavors of dark fruits, spice and vanilla. Perfect to pair with a nice juicy steak.
Bordeaux wines can be some of the most expensive in the world. Situated in the village of Pauillac in the Medoc area of Bordeaux, Chateau Lafitte wines was given top classification back in the 1800′s and can command $1000 and more for it’s wines on a consistent basis. But you don’t have to spend $1000 to enjoy a nice Bordeaux.
Here’s one I had the other evening, for just under $20, and it was gorgeous. I let it breathe for over an hour and it was fantastic. Ruby red color, this Merlot dominant wine has ripe cherry flavors and a touch of oak spice.
Here’s another example of a Bordeaux that’s a staple in my wine rack. At $16.99 , Chateau Bois Pertuis is one of those fantastic deals you’ll find. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, this medium bodied beauty was aged in oak for 8 months. Very smooth with flavors of dark fruits, cherries, plums and a slight hint of smoky mocha that in no way over-powers the wine. Great value!
White grapes grown in Bordeaux are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion (pronounced Sem-ee-on) along with Muscadelle, Colombard and Mont Blanc. At one time Semillion was the most popular white grape grown in Bordeaux, with its richness and texture. However, this thin skin grape is very suspectible to Botrytis (rot) and by itself has almost a waxiness. It is fantastic when blended with Sauvignon Blanc, which in recent years has become the most popular white grape in Bordeaux and adds a crispness and freshness to wine.
Here’s an example of a nice little white Bordeaux from France and it comes in under $16. Light to medium bodied and gorgeous flavors of pear and peaches, with a hint of jasmine, the Mouton Cadet Bordeaux from Baron Phillipe De Rothschild is a winner.
Here’s another white Bordeaux I have tried in the past week, in our class as a matter of fact.
Chateau Pont de Brion Graves, 2009 vintage is a new style of White Bordeaux, and has less oak influence. 65% Semillion and 35% Sauvignon Blanc, this wine was well balanced with a touch of herbs. We weren’t eating in class but this wine would be very food friendly.
Before I sign off, I did want to mention that in California it’s Meritage that is a Bordeaux style of wine. The Meritage Foundation was formed in 1988 by a small group of Napa Valley vintners, who wanted to create Bordeaux style wines but were frustrated by government regulations on the matter. This is a beauty from Robert Mondavi.
My goal is to make French wine less intimidating for us everyday people. Don’t be afraid of the French wine section, you can find some fantastic wines in there.
Till next week, Cheers
On Monday coming I start the next step in my journey to become a Wine Sommelier. I am undertaking 20 weeks of training in Old World Wines and Beers and Spirits, which is Modules 3 & 5 in the process to becoming a Wine Sommelier. This segment of my training is being done through the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS).
The Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) is a pan-Canadian association, which brings together individuals within the sommelier profession, restaurant services, and other sectors of the wine industry. Since its inception in 1989, CAPS has promoted the profession, notably by its participation in the Best Sommelier of the World Competition.
I am very excited to start the Old World Wine course. Old World Wine countries are France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. If you have ever noticed, these four countries tend to label their wine by region, and not by the grape variety. Which can be very intimidating for many people. For example, most people know if they love a Merlot, or a Cabernet Sauvignon. And they know pretty well what to expect when they buy one of these wines. However, do you know what a Primitivo is? Or a Burgundy? These are not grape varieties, they are regions. And in order to know which grape you are getting, you have to know the grapes grown in the region.
Burgundy is a region in Eastern France. Burgundy grows Pinot Noir as its Red wine, and Chardonnay grapes for its white. So if you are buying a Burgundy wine from France, and it’s red, you’re drinking Pinot Noir. You get to enjoy all the wonderful Pinot Noir flavors, strawberry and raspberry, and the food friendly wine you have come to associate with Pinot Noir.
Bordeaux is another region in France, centered by the city of Bordeaux. Permitted grapes for this region are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere. Malbec and Carmenere are hardly ever used, Malbec has since become known in Argentinian wine regions, and when most people think Carmenere they think Chile. The wine above, Chateau Timberlay, is a wine I have written about before. It’s a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, but the Merlot is dominant here, so you get those smoky plum flavors that go so well with grilled pork.
The Bordeaux pictured above is white. White Bordeaux is predominantly, and exclusively in the case of the sweet Sauternes, made from Semillion, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. Bordeaux wines tend to be blends, so it can be a little trickier.
It’s no different than wines from Italy, Spain and Portugal. Unless you know which grapes are allowed in each region, buying a wine from an Old World country can be a coin toss for many people.
Over the coming weeks, I will be using my weekly wine blog to help all my wine drinking friends decipher the Old World wines and hopefully make it easier for you to head to one of these sections in your favorite wine store. Keep reading my friends, these sections in your Wine store will intimidate you no more.
I welcome you to join me on the next step of my journey, and thank you so much for reading and taking this journey with me.
Till next week, Cheers
Italian wine is the theme of our local Port of Wines this year, so I have had the opportunity to try several beauties. I find Italian wines to be warm generous and friendly, much like the people I’m guessing. I can’t wait to travel to Italy one day and here are a few ways we can travel to Italy this evening and never leave our homes.
A Primitivo is genetically the same grape as a California Zinfandel, and my wines friends all know how much I love Zinfandel. So it’s probably no surprise that I found this to be a fantastic wine. I was shocked this elegant fruity wine from Puglia was under $20. Juicy flavors of ripe raspberries and a hint of smoke make this wine my big winner of the week.
Here’s another big winner for under $20. Pronounced ‘Oh Toes’ if you want to ask for it at your local wine store, which is a latin name for an owl. The winemaker wanted to make a wine that was dark and mysterious as the night time, when an owl would come out. Full bodied and spicy, this wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Shiraz. So it’s flavor all around. The Merlot made it a perfect match for grilled pork, but believe me, this wine will go with just about anything you serve.
You cannot write a wine blog about Italian wine and leave out Valpolicella, ranking just after Chianti in Italian wine production. Because Italy is one of the ‘Old World’ wine regions, it is named by region. So Valpolicella is not a grape variety, it is a region. And the region is known for 3 grape varietals – Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara. And you thought Valpolicella was hard to pronounce. This is elegant silky wine that is under $20. This wine is aged in stainless steel so it’s a great wine if you don’t like your reds oaky. Juicy cherries on the palate, firm tannins and a nice finish. Great wine.
Another wine I had to mention was a Barolo. And although it is my goal to try every Barolo I can, this is the one I had most recently. A treat wine, as all Barolo’s are, this is one that is reasonably priced at about $35. A beautiful garnet color in the glass, this Barolo has flavors of dried cherries, spices, and a nice finish. Surprise that special person in your life with this wine the next time you have pasta with a creamy sauce. Marriage made in heaven.
And last, but certainly not least, I would never dream of writing this wine blog about Italian wines without talking about Chianti. It would be sacreligious. Chianti is the most popular wine to come out of Italy and this is a nice dry Chianti for under $20. Made mostly from Sangiovese grapes, I have heard this wine described as deep and expressive. This well balanced wine is strong and velvety with flavors of aged fruit and spice.
If there’s a pasta I am known for, it is probably my Pasta with Green Olive Paste and 4 cheeses.’ There’s not even a name for it, I took a recipe and tweaked it so that I made it my own. Here’s the recipe.
Linguine With Green Olive Paste and 5 Cheeses:
In a blender combine
1 cup of green olives
A good helping of Olive Oil
A splash each of Red Wine Vinegar and Lime Juice
Blend. It’s supposed to be a paste, but a liquidy paste. Not solid paste. Again I apologize for no amounts, I never measure. Which is why I cook better than I bake.
In the mean time, cut up chicken breasts into bite size pieces and cook. I cook them in Maple Syrup sometimes just to add a different flavor to the pasta. Set aside.
Boil your pasta, I like using fresh Linguine. You can use your favorite pasta. Here’s something you must do. When you drain your pasta, RINSE it in water. It gets rid of that yucky taste and add about a teaspoon of olive oil and stir throughout the pasta. Trust me.
I use the pot I cooked the pasta in and combine the chicken, paste, real bacon bits and the 4 cheeses. You can vary on the cheeses, but I always use Parmesan and Mozzarella and Asiago as my base 3. The other 2 can vary. I use Jarlsberg and Cheddar, but you can mix it up, Add cream. Lots of it.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes And it comes out looking like this. This is a picture of the pasta I took the last time I made it.
So until next week “Applausi” – which means Cheers in Italian.
Summer is not over yet! We still have a couple of weekends, and my local NSLC store is clearing out stock and making way for new wines. So I have picked up a few great wines for just a few dollars. Sweet!
From the Mendocino County California comes a beauty. Was $25.99, now $17.99, you’ll be hard pressed to get a better red wine under $20. 83% Zinfandel with some Sangiovese and Petite Sirah thrown in for extra smoothness, this wine will go with so many foods. The grapes are the star of this show, fruit forward with hints of pepper and spice. Run, don’t walk to your favorite Liquor store and stock up. This was a great value at $25.99 – at $17.99 it’s a steal of a deal.
I’m putting these two babies side by side. Sister wines from KWV are selling for $13.49 right now in Nova Scotia was $17.49). And they are both big and bold and made for BBQ heaven. The Shiraz is rich with a peppery spicy almost sweetness. Perfect for a steak. The Cabernet Sauvignon has dark rich fruit aromas with a hint of mint. Great tannins and excellent length finish the wine, and this wine can hold up with any steak, or even pork, lamb, whatever you choose to throw on the grill.
Everyone knows how much I love a good Zinfandel, and an Italian Primitivo is a Zinfandel. The wines from this region can date back to the 1700′s, and I’m told in this vineyard they could be 40 to 100 years old. Lush, fruity and fragrant are 3 words to describe this gorgeous wine. My friend Anthony told me about this wine, and it started at $19.99 and is now I believe $17.99, another food friendly wine that will go with pasta, grilled foods, anything. Well balanced with flavors of raspberry, smooth finish from both French and American oak and an all around great wine.
Everyone who drinks red wine knows the Trapiche line of wines from Argentina. We know Argentina has great wines at great prices. Now imagine them on sale!! The mountains in Argentina are 3500 feet above sea level and for some reason the wines that come out of Argentina tasted well aged, even though they tend to be quite young. This blend of Malbec, Syrah and Bonarda offers flavors of cherries, blackberries, a hint of mocha and a touch of sweetness that isn’t sickly. It’s light on the palate and a good deal at around $16 right now.
Get them while you can. Great wines – great prices.
Next week I am going to be talking all about Italian wines. My NSLC is doing a feature called Italia Vivo Vino so I’ll be featuring some great new Italian red and white wines.
Till next week, Cheers
It’s been called the World’s most favorite white wine! And I have been enjoying it to the max this Summer. This green skinned grape which originated in Burgundy, France is probably considered the most food friendly of the white wines. People often ask which white and which red they should put on a dinner table, and I always answer Chardonnay for the white and Pinot Noir for the red. That’s my personal opinion.
A new Chardonnay I have tried this Summer is the Carta Vieja Prestige 2010 vintage Chardonnay from Chile. First Chardonnay from Chile I have ever tried and I was very impressed. At $24.99 a bottle here in Nova Scotia, this is a beauty. This bright yellow elegant wine has tropical fruit aromas on the nose and easy to drink passion-fruit, banana and apple flavors on the palate. Very food friendly – try it with pasta!
One of my go to favorites this Summer is this gorgeous Chardonnay from California. J. Lohr has been producing quality wines for many years, and if you are a red wine drinker, I encourage you to try the gorgeous red wines produced by this winery. The J. Lohr Chardonnay is pale yellow in color with aromas of nectarine, pear and apple. It finishes with a toasty vanilla that will keep you coming back for more. The other evening my mother and I were enjoying a glass, and my sister kept saying “I smell apples”. We enjoyed this wine that evening with grilled chicken and it was a match made in heaven.
I cannot write a blog about Chardonnay without mentioning my favorite. Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay. This is the wine that started my foray into white wine drinking and has set the bar for Chardonnay in my opinion. Beautiful limestone and stone fruit aromas on the nose. Youc an also taste the stone fruit on the palate, along with a buttery richness that I just love. This wine recently won the Best Wine for Chicken in the Great Canadian Wine Match. Say no more.
And if $83 is not in the budget, Le Clos Jordanne makes a beautiful wine in every budget. The sister wine, Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay is a beauty as well. The clay and limestone soils produces a very elegant wine that is quite unique. Gorgeous flavors of melon, pear and stone fruit and the limestone is quite evident. I love it.
Thanks for reading, till next week Cheers
Well it seems I have been on an Italian kick lately, and have discovered some wonderful new wines from the region.
I am on a mission to try every Barolo and Nebbiolo wine and I recently tried this one. It’s hard to find one under $50, but I found this one which sells here for $34.99
The Beni di Batasiolo Barolo from the vintage year 2009. A lovely red brick color in the glass and aromas of spices, herbs and truffles on the nose A very balanced wine with nice tannins. It’s dry, but many fine Italian wines are, and I find they go very well with food. You could pair this with pasta, creamy sauces, chicken, hearty meat dishes and anything with a tomato sauce – and it would be heaven in your mouth.
You can’t talk Italian without talking Pinot Grigio, the light crisp go-to Italian wine. This is a beauty of a wine, under $20, it’s just $17.99 here. Harvested in northeastern Italy, this wine will go with so many foods. (Try it with the Caprese Chicken recipe at the end of the blog). Gorgeous flavors of citrus, pear and a hint of apricot, make for a delicate wine that you will want to enjoy again and again.
Allow me to introduce you to one of the best deals at your local Liquor store. It is the Tre Saggi Talamonti, and it’s priced at $16.99 here. It’s a fantastic wine at a fantastic price. Coming from Central Italy, this full-bodied wine delivers bold flavors of cherries, floral notes and juicy tannins. Very food friendly. Try it with everything from sausage to beef to my recipe for Caprese Chicken.
Are you ready for the easiest fanciest looking dish ever!
Mozzarella ball cut in slices
Italian Salad Dressing
Cook your flattened chicken cutlets in the Italian salad dressing. (or make your own by pounding a chicken breast. I am terrible at this, so I buy them flat already)
When they are just about cooked, add a slice of mozzarella, topped with a tomato and some fresh basil.
Drizzle balsamic vinegar and serve. People will go WOW! It will look fancy, and it is probably the easiest chicken dish ever!
Serve it with any of the wines above. Enjoy
Everyone loves a long weekend, and we wine drinkers are no exception. As many provinces across the Country celebrate a long weekend, I have put together a list of some new wines I have tried recently, that would be perfect for the long weekend. Please feel free to share your favorite ‘Long Weekend Wines’ with me.
I love finding a good deal and this wine is on the “Over 90 – Under 30″ selection at the NSLC. They are wines rated above 90, by Wine Spectator and are priced below $30. This Malbec from the Mendoza region in Argentina is a beauty of a wine at under $22. Gorgeous garnet color in the glass and as your bring it to your nose you’ll find yummy aromas of cherries and a bit of spice. On the palate I loved the combination of cherries, peppercorn, and smoky oak. Very elegant and the perfect balanced with a nice lingering finish. Bring this wine to any BBQ or enjoy with pasta.
I do love a good crisp Sauvignon Blanc, and this one did not disappoint. First time I have tried a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile and I was quite impressed. Falernia is Chile’s most northern vineyard so some cooler temperatures come into play here. Also, what sets this wine apart is that normally Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t see any oak. 95% of this wine is stored in stainless steel and 5% in oak. Combined with mouth-watering grapefruit, lime and herbal notes, a perfect wine to accompany your favorite summer salad.
If you can find this next wine, buy lots of it. A great price… under $20, and a gorgeous Zinfandel. Many of my blog readers know I have an infatuation with Zinfandel, so when I saw Zinfatuation from the Napa Valley in California, I had to give it a try. Medium bodied, flavors of strawberry, spices, and oak. It is fruity with good acidity and very food friendly. Try it with any meal.
Lots of people have been asking me for my Southwestern Chicken Salad. I have made it a few times recently, and have bought it into work. Easy!! Here it is… a great summer salad.
Darlene’s Southwestern Chicken Salad:
- Breaded chicken strips (done as per instructions in the oven or on the BBQ – brush with BBQ Sauce)
- Romaine lettuce
- Can of Corn
- Shredded Mozzarella and Cheddar Cheese (You can buy the combo already shredded)
- Real Bacon Bits
- Green Pepper
- Red Pepper
- Ranch Salad dressing
- Tortilla chips
Combine your lettuce in a bowl. Add diced tomato, chopped green and red pepper, small can of corn, Bacon bits, and the Shredded Cheese. When the chicken strips are cooked, cut them up in bite size pieces and add to the salad. ( I love the salad when the chicken is warm)
Combine Ranch dressing with Salsa. Half and half works for me. Blend into salad. Adorn with Tortilla chips, which are delicious to use as a utensil when eating this salad.
Enjoy… isn’t that easy!! And so delicious. Some people also add black beans.
Till next week – Cheers
First of all I would like to take a moment to thank everyone for reading the blog in record numbers last week. If it was your first visit, I hope you enjoy my weekly blog about wine and food. To my dear friends who read it each week, thank you for your support on my journey with wine.
I had a little dinner party Wednesday night, and a few friends and I got together to try some new wines and enjoy some good food. We started the evening with a refreshing Pinot Gris from New Zealand.
The Marlborough region of New Zealand is famous for Sauvignon Blanc, and this was my first time trying a Pinot Gris from the region. Wow, it didn’t disappoint. The 2012 Single Estate Pinot Gris, which is the one we shared, is only the second crop of Pinot Gris from the Ara Vineyard. 2011 was the very first release. Very light and clear in the glass with aromas of pear and nectarine. This vibrant crisp white wine has citrus flavors in the mouth and is very expressive. Recommended pairings include your favorite summer salad, asparagus, or all by itself on the deck. It is $21.99 here in Nova Scotia and very much worth it.
The next wine we cracked open was the Audrey Wilkinson Winemaker’s Selection 2010 Shiraz from Hunter Valley. Big bold wine. Can easily go with steak, BBQ ribs and other heavy grilled foods. A dark red color in the glass with purple hues. Big rich dark fruits on the nose with a hint of chocolate and a floral note. Those dark red fruits are on the palate, aged in French oak, it finishes very smooth. The winemaker is Jeff Byrne, originally from right here in Nova Scotia. If you are a regular reader of the blog I had written about him before. He went to Australia to surf, fell in love, and moved to Australia. Started working in a vineyard, and then took the necessary education to start winemaking and the rest is history. Jeff makes great wines.
One of my guests that evening was just getting into wine. And although the Pinot Gris was her favorite, we did crack open to try a Beaujolais.
This was the one we tried, the 2011 Beaujolais Superieur. Now a Beaujolais wine is very light and fruity. It’s a thin-skinned grape and has very low tannins. Any Beaujolais is the wine I generally recommend when someone wants to make the transition between white and red. Light purple in color, fruity with hints of cherries. This is a wine you would chilled, which again helps people making that transition from white to red. Beaujolais wines tend not to be expensive, and this one came it at about $15.
The last one we opened was a Lytton Springs Zinfandel. Made up of mostly Zinfandel , it also has Petite Sirah and Carignan. Because I served my Maple Dijon Chicken (check out last week’s blog for the recipe) and honey roasted potatoes with a couple of different cold salads, I needed a very versatile wine. One very food friendly wine, and this is the one I chose. The vines are 115 years old and it produces a spectacularly smooth wine. If you were to check out some of the ratings on this wine you will see 93′s and 95′s. Aged 14 months in the barrel, the aromas of black cherry, mint, and vanilla make for a beautiful wine.
I have been asked to share my favorite salad, so here is the recipe. The secret is in the homemade salad dressing, it’s my favorite. Enjoy the Pinot Gris, or a nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc with this salad.
- Leafy greens
- Diced peppers (I use green, red, yellow and orange)
- Cucumber sliced
- Real Bacon made into bacon bits.
- Blue cheese or grated Parmesan cheese (pick your favorite)
- Toasted Pecans
- You can also add your favorite ingredients. I have used beets instead of cranberries at times and fresh fruit like pears
- Olive Oil (please use a high quality olive oil)
- Balsamic Vinegar (I have been experimenting with flavored balsamic vinegars as well)
- Grainy Dijon Mustard
- Fresh garlic
- Brown Sugar
Combine all the ingredients, mix well, and drizzle the dressing over the salad. Enjoy with your favorite wine.
Till next week, thanks for reading and In Vino Veritas (In wine there is truth) .
When award winning Wine Writer and Sommelier, Natalie Maclean, asked me to nominate wines for the Great Canadian Wine Match, I was honored and thrilled. I never dreamed my wine would win in any of the categories, but my pick for chicken – Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay won as the best wine for chicken.
Le Clos Jordanne makes two kinds of wine, and only two kinds. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and is probably the reason they do it so well. Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay is the perfect treat wine, and in my opinion, the perfect wine for so many chicken recipes. Smooth, supple, full-bodied and rich. And a Chardonnay not over-powered by oak. Gorgeous.
It’s a treat wine for most people. It’s $83 a bottle here in Nova Scotia and similarly priced across the country. So most of us don’t enjoy $83 bottles of wine every day of the week. But you know what. Treat yourself. It’s worth it. Don’t wait for a birthday or anniversary. Make your own special occasion. Celebrate life and a good meal with a spectacular bottle of wine. We all need to do that every once in a while. That’s where the happiness comes in.
When Natalie asked me to participate in a 3-way interview with Le Clos Jordanne winemaker Sebasian Jacquey (pictured above), I was so nervous I almost cancelled. But I was so glad I didn’t cancel. Two great people who know so much about wine, I had a fantastic evening sharing a glass of wine with these two fine people.
I also loved the name Natalie put on the feature, so that’s what I’m titling the blog this week. Here’s the video.
During Segment 2, Natalie asked me my favorite recipe to go with this wine. I had a couple. I am always getting asked for my recipes, so here is one of my favorite chicken recipes.
Darlene’s Maple Dijon Chicken
- Chicken breasts (or thighs can be used – skinless and boneless are my preference)
- Maple Syrup (the real stuff – not pancake syrup)
- A grainy Dijon mustard.
- A couple of tablespoons of Low Sodium Soya Sauce
- Splash of red wine vinegar
- Minced garlic
- A shake or a squeeze of lime juice
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients and pour over the chicken. Now, if you have time, put the chicken in the fridge and marinate it for as long as you can. Try marinating in the morning and leave it in the fridge all day.
Ensure you have enough sauce to cover the chicken at least half way. You can cook in a casserole dish in the oven or even on the BBQ.
I have done this one my BBQ 2 ways. I love cooking the chicken in the sauce. Put it in an aluminum foil baking dish and enjoy a glass of wine while this cooks on the BBQ. (this is my favorite way.) Or you can take it out of the marinade and cook it right on the grill. Either way tastes delicious.
Your family will love this chicken recipe.
Enjoy your favorite wine with it. Till next week, thanks for reading and Cheers.
As the temperature inches up towards 30-degrees Celsius here in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I come to realize that Summer is here! And one of my goals this summer is to fully enjoy my patio. And to enjoy a new wine each week.
So, over the past couple of weeks, I have tried some new ones that I wanted to share with you.
I have been enjoying the wines from the McManis Family vineyards for several years. They make a fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, but this past week I have had the opportunity to enjoy the Merlot. Well, I had it with a grilled stuffed butterfly pork chop (Recipe below). Spectacular. Gorgeous deep purple color in the class and cherries and strawberry greet your nose. On the palate there is a vanilla flavored oak and I’m sure I detected some caramel. It’s under $20, which means you can enjoy it any night of the week.
Every time I see the words Mendocino County, I think of the song Mendocino County Line by Willie Nelson and Lee Anne Womack. This is a beautiful Grand Reserve Zinfandel and comes in at about $25 here in Nova Scotia. A nice spicy fruity Zinfandel with flavors of cherry and plum and a bit of black pepper. Fantastic with a BBQ!
I can honestly say this is my first time writing about a Rose wine, and definitely my first writing about a Malbec Rose. Until one week ago, I didn’t know a Malbec Rose existed.
This Malbec, when harvested, is vinified in stainless steel at temperatures below 18-degrees. Recommended by my friend Rayell, this wine is perfect for summer. It’s fun and refreshing and a real conversation piece. Aromas of grapefruit, its crisp with a real nice acidity and has a beautiful finish. People who love red or white wine should definitely try this, and at just $15.99 a bottle, why wouldn’t you try it.
Another fun wine this summer is this gorgeous California Pinot Grigio from the makers of Menage a Trois. I have written about their Red wine before, and I love it. Well last weekend, I enjoyed the Pinot Grigio. Tropical fruits, big and beautiful fruit flavors and a refreshing crisp acidity. It’s under $20 here in Nova Scotia, and so food friendly. Or you can enjoy it all by itself on a patio, as I did last weekend.
Enjoy the summer, and I would love to hear what new wine you have tried this summer! Many people ask me my recipes, so here is my simple recipe for Stuffed Pork Chops. You can also use it for pork tenderloin as well. You can also mix and match any of your favorite ingredients
Stuffed Pork Chop.
1 butterfly pork chop (not to thick, because it will be harder to grill)
1 piece of bread cut up into small pieces
Bacon bit – the real ones. Or fry a couple of pieces of bacon and cut those up into small pieces
Feta cheese (I use crumbled or feta with sundried tomatoes
I have added olives, jalapenos, sundried tomatoes and peppers for a different taste
A dash of basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the ingredients with a bit of olive oil or butter, and lay on 1/2 of the pork chop. Fold over and secure with tooth picks.
Grill all 4 sides of the pork chop, marinating with mustard and a bit of BBQ sauce.
For the most part when you and I open a bottle of wine, we like to keep it reasonable. Most of us are on a budget and that applies to our wine consumption as well. But every once in a while, I like to treat myself. Sometimes it’s a new pair of shoes, most times it’s a treat bottle of wine.
At $40, this is a spectacular wine. A big bold red wine made from a blend of 5 grapes from two different regions in Italy. Here’s how the winemaker described the sensory appeal of this wine. (Keep in mind the winemaker is Italian, and his words have been translated into English)
“The cup is colored with a dark but bright ruby, the aromas are of great impact, with an intense fruity loads of blackberry and cherry, enriched by notes of herbs, cinnamon, cloves, cocoa, licorice and a intriguing mineral touch. On the palate shows significant structure, well balanced between the warm embrace dictated by the alcohol content and adequate freshness and the tannins are soft and very tenacious persistence”
I could not describe this wine any better than that. I loved this wine!.
The next wine is Calera 2011 Pinot Noir from the Central Coast in California. Winemaker Josh Jensen set out to make an incredible Pinot Noir using soil rich with limestone. He found his spot and Calera (which means Coast) was born. Aged in French oak barrels for 11 months, the way I described this wine to a friend recently, was it doesn’t taste like a 2011 vintage. It tastes like it’s been aged much longer. It’s that smooth. With flavors of cherry, strawberry and wild herbs this beautiful earthy Pinot Noir will compliment any meal.
This wine is the 2009 Lytton Springs blend of Old Vine Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignane. If you are wanting to treat yourself, this is the perfect time to enjoy this wine. This was one of the best wines I have tasted. There, I said it. Originally priced at about $50, the NSLC is clearing it out at $35 and I bought 3 yesterday. (I may go back for the rest yet – it’s that good). Regular readers of my blog know how much I love an Old Vine Zinfandel, and this one has great cellar potential. A powerful and earthy red wine with aromas and flavors of vanilla, raspberry, chocolate and spices.
So there we have it. Maybe it’s for a special occasion, a gift, or you’ve just had one of those weeks where you deserve a treat, I hope you enjoy my choices as much as I did. Let’s face it, everyone deserves a treat.
I do… I’ll admit it… I love a good deal! And one of my favorite things – I love finding great wine at great prices! I asked followers of this blog’s Facebook page recently, your favorite wine under $20. Here is what some of you had to say. Thanks for the feedback!
Lisa said her favorite wine under $20 was Wolf Blass Red Label Moscato. Perfect for summer, this wine has ripe summer berry flavors, peach and lime, and is very refreshing. Now if the weather would only warm up a bit.
Erin says she likes the Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio. I love a Pinot Grigio in the Summer, and have a bottle of the Yellow Tail in my wine rack, just waiting to crack it open. Called the “Ferrari” of white wine grapes, this Pinot Grigio is very food friendly and delicious all by itself as well.
This is a favorite of mine. At just $16.99 a bottle, the Chateau Bois Pertuis, is a Bordeaux, at 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, this is a beauty with grilled pork in the summer. Merlot got a bit of bad rap in the movie ‘Sideways’, in a hilarious sort of way, but I love a good Merlot. Here’s another great one for under $20.
The Beringer Founder Cabernet Sauvignon is just $18.99 and is a gorgeous ruby red color in the glass and big bold flavors of cherries and spice. A favorite of grilled foods, this is even a good wine for a steak. Another favorite Cabernet Sauvignon of mine is the Hoya de Cadenas Cabernet at just $14.99
This is the one I had last weekend. The Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon. Both this wine and the Red Blend are very good wines for under $20. Lovely flavors of plums and peppery spice will have you going for the second glass.
And I promised to talk about Sauvignon Blanc. This is another beautiful crisp white wine that is perfect all year round, but I especially like it in summer months. This is the wine to have when you are serving salad. Give it a try and tell me what you think. There are some fantastic ones under $20.
The most famous place for Sauvignon Blanc is the Marlborough region of New Zealand. This Kim Crawford is a great deal under $20, the red wines are about $33. With tropical and citrus notes, this is a winner.
Yellow tail also makes a nice refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, and at just $13.99, definitely worth trying. It’s crisp and clean with flavors of grapefruit and citrus.
Here’s a toast to all the good wines under $20. There are lots of them, just ask the staff at your neighborhood wine or liquor store. Have fun trying them all this summer. Enjoy the long weekend to all my Canadian friends.
I was travelling home from a sales conference with a colleague and we were talking about the wine we had at dinner the night before. Mark told me he really liked the wine, Pepperwood Grove Old Vine Zinfandel, and was quite surprised to discover it was $16.99 in our local Liquor store. (They charged $53 on the menu) He made a comment, that became the basis for this week’s wine blog, ”Those are the things I would like to know – good wines under $20.”
So here are a few of my favorites under $20 here in Nova Scotia. Prices may vary from province to province. Let’s start with my favorites, the Old Vine Zinfandels. I love them. And are my go-to wine for the reds, and most of them are under $20. Smooth, full of flavor and very food friendly – they will go with just about anything you are serving, especially BBQ food.
From left to right, Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel, gorgeous flavors of berries, chocolate and vanilla oak, $19.99. Ironestone - a lovely medium bodied wine with pepper spice and rich plum flavors, $16.99 here at the NSLC. Gnarly Head – a bolder Old Vine Zinfandel, the vines are up to 80 years old, so the berries are smaller and the flavor is a little more intense and rich. Like all Old Vine Zinfandels you will detect a bit of pepper and a vanilla oak, and its just $19.99. And last but not least the Pepperwood Grove, the Old Vine Zinfandel that started it all for me and Mark, and another colleague Anthony. At just $16.99 this is a great wine at a great price. Smooth, medium bodied with those spicy pepper and vanilla hints. A favorite of mine with anything BBQ’d.
If you like something a little bolder, there are some great Shiraz wines at our local NSLC for under $20. Left to right, from Washington State, these guys make one of my favorite Merlot’s, but they also make a great Shiraz. Terra Barossa is big and bold with intense fruit flavors and a hint of tobacco and spice. The 19 Crimes Shiraz, with one of 4 different labels is $19.99 here at the NSLC and a gorgeous dark wine in the glass with dark fruits, licorice and vanilla flavors. Yum! And the last one is one of my favorites. Layers Shiraz from Peter Lehman. Again at $19.99 this is a beautiful blend of ripe fruits, clove and cinnamon spice and just a great wine to drink with supper or later on the deck. Next week we will do great Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons for under $20.
I can’t write a wine blog without telling you about some great white wines for under $20. I love Chardonnay in the summer, well actually all year round. But a nice cold Chardonnay tastes like summer to me. And I love a good California Chardonnay, and I love paying less than $20. The first one on the left is my most recent find. Tried it last weekend for the first time. Had it with grilled chicken, and enjoyed it for the rest of the evening. The Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay from Sonoma County is a spectacular wine that’s just $19.99. Vanilla and brown sugar embrace creamy lemon and pear. Dreaming Tree Chardonnay, a vineyard owned by musician Dave Matthews and his friend Steve Reeder, makes a beautiful Chardonnay. Steve Reeder says “ I make wines for people to drink, not to put in a cellar’. My kind of man. Smooth citrus notes with lots of spice and that vanilla oak which just feels smooth. Schucks Chardonnay was actually made to be a perfect compliment to fish, but since I’m allergic to seafood, I can tell you that it goes great with chicken and just about anything else you serve. The unique packaging will not fall apart in an ice bucket, and its a lovely Chardonnay with a crisp taste to it. Nice citrus flavors and it too is under $20. And the Mark West Chardonnay is just $18.99 and perfect for summer with melon, kiwi and honeydew flavors.
Next week we will discover more wines under $20 with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and hopefully have a chance to talk about some great Pinot Grigio as well.
Till next week, thanks for reading and Cheers.
Every wine has a story. I think one of the things that fascinate me the most as I learn more about wine, is the story behind the wine. Take for example, pictured above is famed winemaker Wolf Blass. Probably every wine drinker has tried a Wolf Blass wine out of Australia. But did you know Mr. Blass is not from Australia, he’s from Germany. Wolf Blass arrived in Australia in 1961 with a diploma in wine-making. He started working at a vineyard and in 1966 established one of the most recognizable names in wine – Wolf Blass Wines. One of my favorites is the Grey Label Shiraz. A beauty of a wine and one of my favorites with a grilled steak.
This past week I have had the privilege of discovering the story behind two other, not so well-known yet, wine-makers.
Jeff Byrne was born and raised right here in Halifax Nova Scotia. At the age of 25, he went to Australia for a surfing expedition, where he met and fell in love with a local girl. He returned to Canada but followed his heart and moved to Queensland in 1999. That girl, now his wife, Bridgette and Jeff moved to the renowned Hunter Valley wine region in 2000.
Jeff started working in vineyards, first as a cellar hand, then to assistant winemaker. In 2007, Jeff graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Wine Science degree. He then went to work at the Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard in 2008. where he started making wine and receiving some very prestigious awards.
Yesterday I got to try both his Chardonnay and the Shiraz.
The Chardonnay was crisp and fresh with gorgeous peach and melon. I found the fruit to be in the forefront of the wine and just the right amount of acidity.
The Shiraz, which sadly is sold out at the NSLC, is another great steak wine. When I tried this one yesterday, I had planned on grilling a steak, and I said to my friend Rayell at the NSLC, I found my steak wine. Blackberries and a distinct hint of mulberry and spices make for a gorgeous medium to full-bodied wine that will be a welcome friend at any BBQ this season.
This week I met another knowledgeable person at the NSLC, Ron at the Port of Wines store downtown Halifax. Now here’s a man who knows the stories behind all the wines and between him and Rayell were the inspiration for this week’s blog.
Calera Wines is the vision of Josh Jensen. (pictured above). He made his own path when he decided to start making wine. Even though people told him he was crazy, he forged through. Taking his cue from Burgundy, he set out to find the perfect place to grow grapes and now Calera makes one of the most fantastic Pinot Noir’s I have ever tasted. Mr. Jensen wanted to grow Pinot Noir in limestone rich soil, and he did it spectacularly. Even Robert Parker said “Calera is one of the most compelling Pinot Noir specialists of not only the New World, but of Planet Earth.”
This is the bottle I have in my wine rack, the 2011 Pinot Noir. First of all, it doesn’t taste young. It tastes like a fine aged wine. Imagine how good it is going to taste in a couple of years. It smells divine, sweet red berries and a hint of mint. In the mouth its full bodied with raspberry and strawberry flavors, and you get to taste that spice.
Thanks to Rayell at the Larry Uteck NSLC (go see her about Chardonnay) and to Ron at the Port of Wines (go see him for stories) for sharing their knowledge with me.
Till next week, Cheers.
There’s a new way to spell success, GCWM, which stands for the Great Canadian Wine Match. The first every Great Canadian Wine Match recently wrapped up and Canadian wine drinkers from coast to coast had fun nominating and voting for their favorite Canadian wines. I was honored to be asked to participate in the nominating process, and thrilled when I found out my choice wine for chicken won!
My choice for chicken was Clos Jordanne Chardonnay. This is a true treat wine. At $83 a bottle here in Nova Scotia, I’m not cracking open one of these every time I put a piece of chicken on the grill, but to me, it is the ultimate chicken wine. I have a bottle in my wine rack, and I’m trying to save it for a special occasion (for obvious reasons) but I swear there are days it calls my name. Rich with flavors of butter and melon, this wine will go with chicken no matter how you prepare and serve it. Check out the two fine wines that won 2nd and 3rd place, Gray Monk Ehrenfelser in 2nd and Casa Dea Pinot Gris from Prince Edward Island was 3rd. You can read about the winners for best chicken wine here.
I was ecstatic to learn a Nova Scotia wine won 1st place in beef.
I moved to Nova Scotia in October of 2012, and I was here exactly one week when my sister and I jumped in my Jeep and visited Luckett Vineyards in the Annapolis Valley. (Here in Nova Scotia, it’s referred to as ‘the valley’) Pete Luckett is a local businessman and media personality known for Pete’s Frootique and Luckett Vineyards. This wine was nominated by Deborah Hemming out of Montreal, and she says “ I first tried this wine while enjoying the amazing view of the Annapolis Valley from the Luckett Vineyard’s patio on a gorgeous summer day. Every time I drink it, I’m transported back to that place and time.” 2nd Place in the beef category also came out of the Maritimes, Black Prince Winery Cabernet Franc and 3rd place went to Smoke & Gamble Cabernet Merlot out of Port Dover Ontario.
Best wine in Pizza was nominated by Joe Hache from Picton Ontario, now living in Prince Edward Island. This is why Joe nominated this particular wine “The nose showcases sour red cherry with hints of raspberry, cherry, rhubarb and cranberry. The palate is full of ripe red berry fruit with a hint of spice and a perfect balance of acidity and tannins. Norm makes incredible pizza in a wood-fired oven on site, using vegetables grown alongside his grape vines!”
Joe has a wonderful website called ‘For The Love of Wines – The Wines of Prince Edward County’. He’s lucky enough to have about 35 wineries within a 30 minute drive from his home. You can check out his website here.
Second place for pizza went to Smoke and Gamble Cabernet Merlot and Laughing Stock Vineyards out BC won 3rd. You can check out all the winners in the pizza category here.
The winner in the cheese category was Quails’ Gate Estate Winery Optima Totally Botrytis Affected from the Okanagan region of British Columbia. Nominated by Matt Steeves in Ottawa, he says “A Sauternes wine with blue cheese is a match made in heaven!” Another Joe Hache nominated PEI wine won 2nd place, Harwood Estates Winery Marquesa and 3rd place went to Thirty Bench Wine Makers Riesling from the Niagra region in Ontario, nominated by Dan Tricka from Toronto. You can check out what the nominees had to say about their wines here.
It probably won’t come as a surprise that a Maritimer nominated a Maritime wine in the Seafood category and won. Adam Bower from Halifax nominated and won with Domaine de Grand Pre Vintner’s Reserve L’acadie Blanc 2010 out of the Annapolis Valley. Here’s what Adam had to say as to why he nominated this wine. “Nova Scotia’s premiere grape goes perfectly with what we are best known for here: seafood!” 2nd Place went to a wine out of Prince Edward Island, Keint-He Chardonnay and 3rd Place to a BC Wine Recline Ridge-Shuswap Serenade. Check out this link with the winners of the seafood category.
We are in for a scorching hot weekend, so like many of you, I’ll be cooking outside this weekend. Last weekend we covered some of my favorite wines with steak and chicken.
Now, let’s talk pork……….
I love grilled pork, and pork chops are a family favorite. I love a good smoky Merlot with my pork chops, and here are 2 of my favorites.
The Washington State makes a magnificent Merlot and this one will not disappoint. Smoky cherries and plums with hints of cedar and tobacco. (thus the smoky) And the Thorn Clarke Merlot is a deep purple color in the glass, medium bodied and jammy with a beautiful lingering finish.
BBQ ribs. One of my favorite grilled foods. My dad says I make the absolutely best ribs. I know he’s biased, but they are pretty good. Mix brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, fresh ground pepper, lime juice, couple of cloves of garlic, basil, paprika and chili powder. And then at least a half bottle of BBQ sauce, marinate for 8 hours or over night. Slow cook in the oven for 2 hours on a low temperature, or for 4 hours in the slow cooker. And then take them out to the BBQ and grill them to perfection. That’s my secret recipe for ribs. Lots of great wines to go with them.
You can’t go wrong with this gorgeous full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon from the Wolf Blass family with big flavors of dark cherries and licorice.
The Marquis de Riscal is a Rioja from Spain that is earthy and aromatic and would go hand in hand with ribs. Lots of great flavor in this wine.
And a Malbec out of Argentina will be the perfect date with BBQ ribs. This is the Bodega Septima Gran Reserve Malbec, a rich and fruity wine out that has lots of Italian influence.
I’m allergic to most seafood and all shell-fish so I am relying on some friends advice. But grilled seafood would do great with a Chardonnay. Here’s a new one I discovered lately (I had it with chicken)
Everything a Chardonnay should be, this California beauty will have you going back for more. Medium bodied, smooth, easy to drink and food friendly. I am told by white wine drinkers also like a Pinot Grigio with their seafood. This is a Pinot I tried recently and was very impressed.
It’s the Pinot Grigio by Yellow Tail. Fantastic, light, crisp wine. Flavors of pear and green apple, it has enough acidity to keep the wine fresh and lively.
That’s it for this week. Hey, BBQ season is just starting so we will do more wine matching with grilled foods as I experiment with my BBQ.
Have a great week, and Cheers.
It’s BBQ Season! I love BBQ Season. I am the Grilling Queen of the East Coast. And I love enjoying a glass of wine while I’m barbecuing and while I’m eating the grilled delights. Let’s have a bit of fun and talk about pairing up our favorite grilled food with some of our favorite wines.
Doesn’t that make your mouth water? A big juicy steak, in my opinion, requires a big juicy wine. Most times a steak is served up with a big bold red, and I like a Shiraz or a Cabernet Sauvignon. Here are two of my favorites.
I don’t have steak all that often, so when I do I tend to treat myself to a special wine. You will never go wrong serving Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz or Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignon (a Canadian favorite) with a grilled steak. Both wines are big and bold in the glass with juicy fruits, oak aging and vanilla and spice. A potent combination for any steak. If you just drink white wines, give this one a try.
It’s the J.Lohr Chardonnay out of California, and it is everything a big Chardonnay should be. Flavors of ripe apple, nectarine and some citrus with that buttery smooth oak aging – this one is a winner with chicken, pork and yes, even beef.
I would say chicken is my #1 grilled food. I absolutely love chicken done on the BBQ. Whether it’s wings, thighs or breasts, chicken makes for great grilled food. And the wine. I am loving Chardonnay at the moment with grilled chicken, like this one….
The J. Lohr Chardonnay mentioned above will also go divine with chicken. Schuck’s Chardonnay is another great one out of California. The unique packaging will hold up in an ice bucket, but it’s whats in the bottle that is most important. Fun and crisp with buttery smoothness, love this with chicken. With chicken, there’s a 50% I’ll be drinking red. And my two favorite chicken pairings are Old Vine Zinfandels and Pinot Noir.
A few of my favorite Old Vine Zinfandels. 7 deadly Zins, is just what the name suggests, 7 different Zinfandel grapes from 7 different vineyards to make for one sinfully delicious food friendly wine. Pepperwood Grove is being de-listed in Nova Scotia, so stock up. They infuse pepper into the wine, light oak, big on fruity flavor. And Twisted is another great priced wine in the old vine Zinfandel family. Big ripe fruits, oak and pepper, also make it great with BBQ ribs.
Three of my favorite Pinot Noir wines. The first one is Canadian, and our cool climate here in Canada make for a great Pinot Noir. It’s raspberries and cherry fruits with a hint of oak make it so food friendly. It’s under $20 in Newfoundland, can’t get this one in Nova Scotia. But if you can find it in your local liquor store, pick it up. The Smoking Loon is another Pinot under $20. There was a time when you didn’t trust a Pinot Noir under $20, but those days are gone. Soft subtle fruit with a hint of spice. When in doubt about which red to serve with a meal, if you go with Pinot Noir you will hit it out of the ballpark 85% of the time. That’s how food friendly it is. And the last one is probably my favorite. If you think Canada is making some good Pinot Noir, then New Zealand carries the crown. They are known for 2 wines in particular, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. The Whitehaven is smooth and tasty with dark cherries and charred oak.
Next week, we are going to do pork, vegetables and I’ll mention seafood, even though I’m allergic to seafood and can’t eat it, I will pass along some recommendations.
Till next week, Cheers and fire up that grill!
A tribute to my friend Susan Slaunwhite
The NSLC store at Larry Uteck lost a great friend and family member this week and what is truly Larry Uteck’s NSLC loss is Bayer’s Lake gain.
When I transferred to Nova Scotia, I quickly discovered that some of my favorite wines were not available in this province. I didn’t recognize very many wines in the Port of Wines section, and although I had some training, I seem to have lost my passion for trying new wine. Going to the Liquor store had lost its fun….. and then I met Sue.
Sue knows so much about wine and going to the Liquor Store became fun again. We laughed and shared stories, and I learned to trust her completely when she handed me a bottle and said ‘try this’! Almost every Friday I would walk in that store and say ‘Sue, I need a wine to blog about tomorrow’ and we would have a blast. I was crushed to learn this week she was getting transferred from my favorite store and even more saddened cause I thought I had one more Friday.
So this wine blog is about some of Sue’s favorites, which quickly became some of mine. I hope you enjoy the wines as much as Sue and I have.
I didn’t buy this wine the first time Sue recommended it. At $40, it’s a treat wine. But I ended up going back and getting it and it is spectacular. As I stood on my deck last night with glass in one hand, and barbecue tongs in the other, I remembered her lovingly caressing the bottle and telling me I had to try this one. You take your time drinking this wine, enjoying every ounce. Deep dark purple in the glass, when you bring it to your nose, it’s raspberries and plums, spices like cinnamon and clove and nutmeg. I remember thinking, wow, that’s a lot of complex aromas. With this wine, the last mouthful was as flavorful as the first. All those flavors you detected on the nose are there, plus toasty oak. But the lingering finish was what stood out for me. This wine stayed in your mouth a very long time.
Both Sue and I love the old vine Zinfandels, and big bold wines. She wasn’t long passing this one to me when it came in. I’ll be short on this one, because I wrote about it last week. Deep dark fruits, toasted oak, spices and a hint of cigar. Another big wine in the glass.
Sue was the person who introduced me to the Bluenose selection of wines and told me about the winemaker with roots in Nova Scotia. This award winning winemaker, Paul Brasset, makes a mighty fine Zinfandel.
One of the new white wines Sue introduced me to is awesome with spicy food. I had this with Asian food and also Indian food, and love – love – love it.
This beauty, Stag’s leap Viognier, is great with turkey. I had not tried the Viognier wine before I met Sue, and I love its crisp vitality and flavors of white peach and a balanced acidity. And now its my favorite for turkey and roast chicken.
I do love a good smoky Merlot with grilled pork or pork Tenderloin and this is one of my new favorites. When I asked her about a smoky Merlot, this is the one. Flavors of plum, licorice and chocolate combine to make a great Merlot that will go with many grilled foods.
I had tried one South African Pinotage and found it a little over-powering on the Mocha and coffee taste. Sue quickly put this one in my hand. I was hesitant, but I tried it, and have had it several times since. To me, it is the epitome. Not over-powering, but subtle hints of all the flavors of a South African Pinotage, mocha, chocolate and oak.
And last but not least, one of my and Sue’s favorites – Rhiannon.
Sue had this opened when I went in one Friday and when I tried it, instantly loved it. Flavors of fresh fruit and fun just burst in my mouth and the lingering finish will remind you why you like the wine so much. I liked it so much I went back and bought a full case. A blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Barberra, Sue hit it out of the ballpark when she recommended this wine.
Well that’s it for this week. I know this blog has been very personal in many ways but I also hope you got some great ideas for wines. Winston Churchill said ‘Too improve is to change – to be perfect is to change often”. Change is a good thing, it’s just not always an easy thing. This week my favorite store lost Sue, Mark & Pietra, but introduced Sheila, Kim and the new Retail Product Specialist Rayell Swan. I am looking forward to the new fun wine journey we will take together. I’m sure Rick, Brenda and Heather will have the new ones trained in making customers family before long.
Sorry I missed last week – I was on vacation. Oh, and did I mention – I am having a love affair with Californian Wines! The California Wine Show was here in Nova Scotia while I was away, and although I didn’t get a chance to go, I have been trying all the new wines and what can I say – Fantastic.
Let’s start with this smoky beauty. Deep deep deep dark fruits, spice, crushed black pepper, oak and yes, a mild hint of cigar. Gorgeous Zinfandel wine that has been aged in both French and American oak for 11 months – this is a big in your face oaky wine. I loved it.
Want to bring a bottle of wine to dinner that kick starts a fun conversation. Bring the Flirt Red Wine blend. It’s under $17 and is an alluring blend of Syrah, Tempranillo and Zinfandel. How can you not like this wine. Juicy red plums, baked cherry spice, butterscotch, and vanilla. I know – YUM! Oak aging just adds that bit of smoothness. This company is marketing this wine with a whole bunch of fun flirty sayings like ‘Your other wine will never know’ and ‘Your new favorite redhead’.
Here’s one of my favorite stories. Paul Brasset was born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and went to the Napa Valley in California in 1980 to make wine. He worked at several vineyards making award winning wines. In 2003 Paul was hired as winemaker and personal wine advisor by Sydney Frank (Grey Goose Vodka fame). He launched the Bluenose label and makes a spectacular Chardonnay and a Zinfandel.
The Chardonnay is rich and full of big flavors – pineapple, pear, tropical fruit and crème brulee. It’s fantastic. The Zinfandel is exceptional – rich and bold with dark cherry fruits, mocha, and oak. This man knows how to make Zinfandel. To use his words “Seriously good wine shouldn’t have to come with a seriously obscene price or attitude – but it should come with great grapes, great provenance and great care”.
And last but not least, the Truett Hurst Wine Company in California has come out with a series of ‘Evocative Wrapped Bottles’. This unique packaging holds some unique wine. Two weeks ago I told you about the Curious Beast wine. Dark as night, rich as sin and scary good. A fantastic blend of merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. For under $20, you can’t go wrong and again, a great conversation starter when you bring this wine for dinner. Yesterday I had the opportunity to sample the Schuck Chardonnay. The beautiful wraps, which the wine is packaged in, is not only recyclable, but the wrap will stand up in an ice bucket.
The Schuck’s Chardonnay is a delight – rich and smooth. Tropical flavors, pineapple and crème brulee. I loved it.
So many wines – so little time!
Enjoy a glass – Cheers.
Well, today is the first day of my vacation. And I love to treat myself while on vacation, and I treat myself with fine wine. Here are some of the fine wines I will be treating myself to, both home and in the U.S.
And it doesn’t come any finer than the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from Burrowing Owl Vineyards in the Okanogan Valley in British Columbia. This is a gorgeous full-bodied wine with a beautiful dark plum color in the glass. Layers of delicious aromas on the nose and on the palate. Blackberries, black plums, chocolate, pastry cinnamon, sagebrush – all combine for a spectacular wine! This wine and grilled meats go together like Adam and Eve.
I can’t wait to enjoy once again the Francis Ford Coppola Black Diamond Claret. Big and Bold in the glass with layers of blackberry and smoked espresso. It’s Cabernet Sauvignon based made in the French Bordeaux style. Very food friendly and delicious all by itself. This has been one of my favorite wines for a long time, and I can’t get it here in Nova Scotia. So I am looking forward to a glass when I get to the U.S.
Now I would never dream of going to the U.S. without having a bottle of Robert Mondavi wine. It would almost be sacrilegious. This has become one of my favorite new white wines. The Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc. 94% Sauvignon Blanc and 6% Semillion, the fresh tropical citrus blend goes perfect with salads and all by itself during those warm evenings in Florida.
Here’s a new California blend I’ve recently discovered for under $20. Fresh and fruity, this has summer written all over. The packaging is so unique you are going to want to take this to someone’s place or bring it out at a gathering of friends, just for the conversation piece. A California red blend that just oozes chocolate, yep chocolate. Big dark spicy plums, not oaky, cherries and did I mention the chocolate. Voted one of the best new 20 wine brands, as the winemaker said ‘it’s dark as night, rich as sin and scary good’.
I will fill you in on more wines when I return.
What will you be enjoying?
When a person thinks of the fine wine countries, Canada may not be in the forefront for many people. For a while now I have been broadcasting the fantastic Pinot Noir’s made here – the grape loves our cool Canadian climate. Inniskillen makes a beauty for under $20. However, the past couple of weeks I have tried several Canadian wines and they have wowed me! And I don’t wow easily!
On Thursday the Benjamin Bridge Vineyard in Gaspereau, Nova Scotia released the 2012 vintage of the Nova 7 with much anticipation. I had never tried this wine before and I don’t drink a lot of sparkling wines, but this one was fantastic. Beautiful salmon color in the glass, the 2012 vintage is made of 8 different grapes, mostly Muscat and all the grapes were grown here in Nova Scotia. In the mouth its lively and crisp with flavors of ruby-red grapefruit, lychee and a bit of a floral note. Spicy food, oily fish, turkey or all by itself – this wine will wow your friends. I regret only buying one bottle and may have to change that today.
Apparently, some Canadian Merlot’s have won me over. Last week I wrote about the 2009 Burrowing Owl Merlot from the Okanagan Valley. A fantastic Merlot and beautiful vintage. The 2010 vintage got released earlier this week and I will be ordering a case of it. I have a case coming of the Cabernet Sauvignon from Burrowing Owl, and will be writing about that one next week.
I had the pleasure this week of trying the 2009 Merlot from the Mission Hill vineyard, also in the Okanagan Valley. It only makes sense. Up until now, my favorite place that makes a Merlot has been the Washington State in the United States. And if you go a few miles north you are in British Columbia. This gorgeous Merlot with its aromas of plums, blackberries and a bit of Mocha. Aged in French oak for 15 months, can you say YUM! This smooth Merlot has hints of coffee on the palate, and is on my menu for tonight. This will make any barbecued food purr in your mouth – I’m having it with a creamy pasta. It’s that good.
I also had the opportunity to try the Mission Hill Chardonnay. This was totally different from many Chardonnay’s and I loved it. It was smooth without the buttery creaminess of some Chardonnay’s. I had a hard time detecting the oak, so every white wine drinker will love this wine. Flavors of pineapple and apricot dance with crisp tropical notes. Not words I normally use to describe a Chardonnay and it did spend 7 months in both French and American oak. A gorgeous wine that is super food friendly.
So, that’s it for this week. Go Canada Go. You are making some fantastic wines – keep up the good work.
Until next week – Cheers
Yesterday I received my shipment of wine from Burrowing Owl Winery. This vineyard in the Okanogan Valley in British Columbia makes spectacular wine. I received a shipment of the 2009 Merlot and I have a case of their Cabernet Sauvignon on the way. Well, when I received my wine, I couldn’t wait to share it with my friends Rick and Sue. One of the comments I made was that the wine would be great with any grilled food on the BBQ, to which Rick said ‘especially one with a good rub!” The comments started flying about good rubs and the next thing we knew we were comparing good wine with good men. Most of the comments I can’t publish, but it did get me to thinking.
This wine is spectacular, from start to finish. In the glass it is a dark plum color and on the nose layers of aromas. Plums, leather and tobacco on the nose and in the mouth this is a full-bodied Merlot. Flavors of red berry, tobacco and chocolate explode in the mouth. There was another flavor myself and Rick were picking up and we think it was Eucalyptus. I recently reviewed the wine and gave it a 95. This dark mysterious classy wine – makes me think of James Bond.
Moving along. I have been having so much fun with white wines lately, and Rick and Sue at the NSLC on Larry Uteck Boulevard here in Halifax, introduced me to a fantastic one….. a Fume Blanc
This wine is 94% Sauvignon Blanc and 6% Semillion. Dry and crisp, I loved this wine. mouth-watering flavors lemon and lime, honeydew and lemongrass. This is a great wine and with Summer just around the corner, hopefully, this wine with its tropical flavors and citrus has Summer written all over it. Hmmm, trying to think of a man who makes my mouth water like this wine. Easy!
If you think of any wines that make you think of a fine man, let me know. I would love to write about it. We can have fun with this one.
Till next week, Cheers. Darlene
Now that the weather is getting nicer, do you find yourself coming out of your cocoon a bit more often and socializing with friends. With warmer weather comes deck parties, getaways and pot lucks. And a great opportunity to shine by bringing the wine.
I recently had a group of friends over and this was the first wine we opened. A gorgeous 2007 Zinfandel from the Calistoga region in the Napa Valley. When I went to the Napa Valley a few years back Calistoga is where I stayed. It’s in the Northern part of the Valley and known for its Hot Springs, cool wine and warm welcomes. With its bright red fruits, pepper and chocolate tones, this Zinfandel was heavenly. The Chateau Montelena vineyard was established in 1882 and produces some first class wines that are all about balance. I can’t wait to have this one again.
The next wine was a Wyndham Estate George Wyndham Founder’s Reserve Shiraz. At under $20 this is a wine I will be buying again and again. Gorgeous ruby color in the glass with some purple tones. Plums and blackberry with cedar, chocolate and spice all mixed in a beautiful Shiraz. If you love a full-bodied wine as I do, you will love this Shiraz with its oak nuances. The oak, however, is not over-powering.
And finally I have to tell you about this awesome wine I found to compliment spicy food. This is the Tommasi Appassimento Adorato. The Appassimento is a process that dries the grapes before fermenting to concentrate sugars, acids and flavors. (not to be confused with a sweet wine). It is a combination of a Chardonnay grape and a Garganega grape. Clean and spicy highlighted by flavors of tropical fruit and honey. The first time I tried this wine, I had it with roast turkey. It was OK. Then I had it with spicy Mexican and Indian food. And Wow, they go hand in hand. It was a delicious combination. It’s light enough to drink on your patio this summer and a beautiful wine that you don’t have to pair with food, its delicious by itself. No oak, for all my friends that don’t like an oaky Chardonnay, this is your wine. Under $20 – you can afford to drink it all Summer.
Till next week – enjoy good friends and good wine
I think it officially becomes Spring once Easter rolls around. Tomorrow you are probably planning a big meal with family to celebrate Easter, and hopefully I can lend a hand with the wine. No matter what you plan on serving tomorrow, hopefully I can help.
If you are going the traditional turkey route, here’s one of my favorites. From the Napa Valley it’s Stags Leap Viognier. This is a new grape I have discovered since moving to Nova Scotia, and I love the crisp vitality of the wine. Flavors of white peach and a lovely acidity make for a well balanced white wine. This wine is also fantastic with spicy Asian cuisine.
The 2010 Yalumba Pachwork Shiraz from the Barossa Valley in Australia. This is the type of wine that gave Australia the crown when it comes to a Shiraz. Said to be one of Australia’s oldest vineyards, the Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz is a dark red color with earthy tones on the nose. Deep rich fruit combine with flavors of cedar to make a great match with beef.
Another one of my favorites is from McGuigan Wines in Australia and winemaker Neil McGuigan.
The McGuigan Shortlist Shiraz is a beauty, with powerful flavors of red berry fruit and black currants. The only problem with this wine is that they make very little of it each year, thus the shortlist. It is fantastic wine, selling out fast all over Nova Scotia. Each bottle has an individual number on it, and if you get the opportunity try this wine.
If you are doing pork, maybe a nice pork tenderloin, you can’t go wrong with a nice smoky Merlot. You can’t go wrong with this one
You are going to love the Thorn Clarke Terra Barossa Merlot - with its big bold color in the glass and flavors of plum, licorice and chocolate. It’s a great wine with pork. And it seems I’ve been having out in the ‘Wines from Australia’ section a lot lately, so here’s another great wine with pork.
The Velvet Devil Merlot is out of Washington State in the United States, and is a favorite Merlot of mine. Dark cherries, tobacco, cedar and oak combine t make a powerful Merlot.
I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend. Enjoy family and friends with good food and good wine. I would like to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for reading each week. And for Rick, Sue and the gang for allowing me to try new wines each week.
What a week for wine it’s been. I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of this wine from a friend.
It’s a 2011 Torbreck Old Vines Grenache Syrah & Mourvedre. You may know the blend as GSM. It’s from the Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s most famous wine regions, and also home to some of Australia’s oldest vines. These old vines contribute to the pure and intense flavors of the red wines that make the Barossa Valley legendary. This blend wine is as beautiful on the palate as it is in the glass. Juicy flavors of cherry, nutmeg spice, cedar and aged oak combine to make a spectacular wine. A treat with steak or any grilled meat, or all by itself.
And while we are on the subject of old vines, let’s re-visit one of my old favorites.
Pepperwood Grove Old Vine Zinfandel is a steal of a deal. At only $16.99 a bottle I always keep a couple in my wine rack. I told one of my colleagues at work and now it’s his go-to wine. Big juicy flavors burst in your mouth with every sip. You know how with some wines, that first taste is amazing and then the more you have that feeling fades. This wine is not like that. Right to the very end your mouth comes alive with all these great flavors. It’s a mouth filling blend of blackberry, clove spice and a peppery oak flavor.
This is the same people who bring you the spectacular Smoking Loon Pinot Noir. Another steal of a deal. A fantastic Pinot Noir for under $16, and you don’t hear me say that too often. Light garnet in color with mouth-watering tastes of raspberries and strawberries. This California Pinot delivers a great wine for the money.
And last but not least…. Ja Mocha.
I enjoyed this wine again this past week. And every time I open a bottle and enjoy a glass, a I remember why I like it so much. Many of the South African Pinotages that I have tried, have been a little over-powering. The flavors of Mocha and coffee over-power the wine. It’s not the case with the Ja Mocha. Although you can tell by its name, it does have a flavor of Mocha, it also tastes of chocolate (never a bad thing) and oak in a very subtle way. Soft tannins and very well-balanced, this is another wine I have a hard time keeping in my wine rack.
Thank you so much for reading. I love all the comments and feedback.
Till next week, Cheers.
Everyone who knows me, knows I drink and enjoy wine. Mostly Reds. Full bodied lots of personality Reds. Recently I was describing the personality of a new favorite wine, when I realized I could have been talking about a dear friend. I do cherish the friend a lot more, but the two of them together makes for a great evening.
Wine is a lot like people. We, as human beings, are not going to like every single person we meet. Likewise, we are not going to like every single wine we drink. As a matter of fact, I like the differences all my friends bring to the table. And I enjoy the differences a different bottle of wine tends to provide.
Over the coming months I am going to do a blog on the personality of different wines. Today’s blog is going to be about one of my new favorite wines and what I think is one of the best deals on the shelf.
If the bottle looks familiar, you have probably tried the La Fiole Chateauneuf du Pape. It’s spectacular, but believe me, it’s the wealthy cousin. From the same family, the La Fiole Cotes du Rhones sells for $14.57 a bottle in Newfoundland Liquor Stores and I keep scratching my head as to how this vineyard managed to produce such a great wine for $14.57.
Mostly Syrah and Grenache, very fruity for such a young wine, and also very intense. But then again Syrah (or Shiraz) is a powerful grape. Known for being very full-bodied, this one doesn’t disappoint. Yet the added Grenache softens it out for an awesome combination.
You know someone like that? Powerful with a soft side? Not as rich as the wealthy cousin but easier to be around at that price. You could spend every weekend with this one!! I have friends like that.
Till next time! Enjoy a glass!