My Favorite Easter Wines!

Posted in Wine & Food on April 19, 2014 by darmyers

Roasted turkeyRoasted Ham

Spring usually means the arrival of Spring – fingers are still crossed on that one.  And it’s a chance to get together with people you love, enjoy the long weekend, and have some great food.  And for me, with great food, comes great wine.  Let’s take a look at a few great wines that would go with your Easter dinner.  Whether you’re having turkey, ham or some other delightful dish, there will be a wine for you here.  We’re having both turkey and ham – some big eaters in my family.

turkey with wine  tureky with red wine

Now, my rule of thumb is, you can drink any wine you like with any food you like.  If you’re drinking red, for me personally it’s pretty easy – Pinot Noir.  Pinot Noir tends to be light to medium bodied, so it won’t over-power the turkey.  It’s a juicy vibrant wine which will enhance the succulence of the turkey.  And Pinot Noir is so elegant and food friendly, it goes with everything you serve with the turkey.  There are great Pinot wines that start in price from $15.  I love a Pinot from Burgundy France and Oregon in the United States are putting out first class Pinot Wines.

Viognier Vouvray

Robert Mondavi Fume BlancSaint Clair label

I love white wine with turkey.  I love a bunch of different white wines with turkey.  Turkey is like a blank canvas in the white wine world, so many options, so little turkey.   Here are a few of my favorites.  Vouvray is a Chenin Blanc based wine that’s vibrant and crisp and a perfect partner for turkey.  As is Viognier.  It’s not sparkling, but can have some effervescence which pairs divine.  And then, there’s Fume Blanc, which is Sauvignon Blanc based with some Semillion for smoothness, or a straight up Sauvignon Blanc.  This crisp white wine is known for its citrus-based flavors that can be surrounded by herb or mineral undertones, making it a prime pairing candidate for turkey and mashed potatoes.

Roasted Ham Gnarly Head label Predator

There are so many options to go with ham.  Another blank slate when it comes to wine selection.  A couple of my personal favorites are Zinfandel and Merlot.  The Gnarly Head and Predator are two of my favorites.  And neither is overly expensive.  One sells for just under $20 and the other sells for just over $20.  Juicy, jammy, spicy and full of flavor.  Regular readers will know that this wine is one my favorites for BBQ foods, but it will go just delightful with Easter ham as well.

Angels Gate Merlot bottle Dada label

Concha y toro  Beringer Merlot bois pertuis

For the Merlot selection, I picked from Canada, Argentina, Chile, California and France.  Fine Merlot wines are being made around the world at very reasonable prices.  Merlot wine goes beautifully with pork.  Merlot wine is plummy, smoky with hints of cocoa flavors.   And it’s my favorite wine to go with pork.  For the same reason, it will complement your ham.

Gaspereau riesling         Ara Pinot Gris

For my white wine drinking friends, you can have a lot of fun here.  If you’re ham has a glaze with any amount of sweetness, you can have a wine with some sweetness in it, because it will compliment the food.  The sweetness in the ham will take away from the sweetness in the wine.  I know it sounds contradictory, but trust me on this one.  Try a nice dry Riesling, the one pictured is from Gaspereau Vineyards right here in Nova Scotia, and it would be a fantastic choice for your Easter dinner.   In my opinion, and that’s what the blog is called, Gaspereau is doing a spectacular job with this Riesling.   Another great choice for white wine would be a nice Pinot Gris.  This Ara Pinot Gris from New Zealand is one of my favorites.  It will remind you of orchard fruit and with a little sweetness and crisp gorgeous acidity.

Happy Easter

I hope each and every one of you have a wonderful Easter weekend. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting from Scratch – What’s In Your Wine Rack?

Posted in Wine on April 12, 2014 by darmyers

wine rack

A friend of mine asked me to start from scratch with a new wine rack.  I was allowed to fill it with one of each varietal, and he wanted to know if I could pick just one of each, what would be in my wine rack.  So here’s a little bit of a fun exercise, and I would love to hear your feedback on which varietal you would choose.

Let’s start with the Reds:

Mondavi ReserveDeadbolt

For Cabernet Sauvignon, I would head straight to California.  Since I visited the Napa Valley in 2001, I have been a California Cab girl.  And I wouldn’t have one of the lesser priced, nope, I would go for the high end Reserve Cabernet.  Given 95 points by Wine Advocate, this rich wine is full of dark fruit flavors and vanilla toasty oak.  A brand new California Cabernet is the one on the right.  Dead Bolt Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Syrah.  Love it!  Full of dark gorgeous flavors and this one comes in at about $20.  With Summer around the corner, this is the wine for this year’s BBQ season.   Can you say hamburgers!

thorn MerlotHeating things up in January with Great Wine!

For a Merlot, I would travel to Washington State or Australia.  The one pictured is a Thorn Clark Terra Barossa Merlot.  Merlot is my BBQ pork wine, whether it’s stuffed pork tenderloin or a grilled pork chop.  The smoky plummy flavors of this fantastic Merlot with a hint of pepper,  would be welcome at any of my BBQ parties.  This wine is as succulent as the meal you’d serve it with.  Tempranillo – you Spanish lovely.  The wine on the right is still my all time favorite Tempranillo from Rioja.  I can’t get it here in Nova Scotia, but a trip home to Newfoundland means a visit to the NLC and a bottle of Marques de Riscal Rioja.  Most of the tempranillo grapes are grown in vines that were planted in the 70′s, so they have that smooth old vine taste.  It’s a Reserva, which means something in Spain.  It means it was aged for 3 years, and at least 1 year in oak.  Full-bodied and tasty, if you can get this wine in your area, try one today.

Calera label   Savigny label

Because Old World countries label their wine by region, I could have two Pinot Noir’s in my new wine rack, and most people wouldn’t know the difference.  The Pinot on the left is from winemaker Josh Jensen and Calera Vineyards, one of my favorite to come out of California.  Oregon also makes world quality Pinot Noir, but I had to choose one from the New World.  The wine on the left is a Burgundian red wine, and for those that know and love the wines from Burgundy France, you’ll know it’s also a Pinot Noir.  Pinot Noir is probably my favorite wine.  It is, in my opinion, the food-friendliest wine on the planet.  It goes with seafood, chicken, pork, turkey – just about anything.

Le Clos Jordanne Chardonnay   Saint Clair label

For Chardonnay, my go to region is California, but if I was only allowed one Chardonnay it would be this one.  Le Clos Jordanne le Grand Clos.  Smooth, creamy, flavorful and crisp – all rolled into one delectable wine.   My favorite chicken wine in the whole world.  Check out my blog with my Maple Dijon chicken recipe and this wine, and give it a try if you want to send your taste buds to heaven.  You can find it here.  The blog was called ‘Wine, Happiness, Chicken and Sommeliers in Training!”  One of my personal favorites.    I love Sauvignon Blanc, but I would have to head to New Zealand if I picked one.  One of the things I love most about  Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is that they are so aromatic.  Citrus and vibrant with great acidity, so many good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – so little time.

 

Robert Mondavi Fume BlancNova 7

Another favorite white wine of mine (that sounds like it could be a song!) is the Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc.  Now, a little cheat note here, because this Fume Blanc is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion.  I love Semillion when it is blended with Sauvignon Blanc.  On its own, it could be a little waxy, but it’s very easy to cultivate, so it is grown a lot in France and Australia, but mostly used as blends.  Robert Mondavi did a fantastic job with the blend as well and called his Fume Blanc.  Crisp white wine – try it, you love it.  If I had to pick one Nova Scotia wine, I would pick Nova 7 by Benjamin Bridge.  (Although I would probably find a spot for the Borealis Ice Wine from Benjamin Bridge too! – Every girl needs a little sweetness in her life)   And since Nova 7 is a premium sparkling wine and Borealis a dessert wine, I should be allowed both in my new wine rack.    The Nova 7 2013 vintage just got released on Thursday, however, I haven’t tried it yet.  Last year’s was a beauty.  Beautiful salmon color in the glass, effervescent, and delicious.  Made from 8 different grapes, and all grown here in Nova Scotia – this wine is one of our provincial treasures.

BorealisRoyal tokaji

From Benjamin Bridge, the Borealis wine is named after the Aurora Borealis, also called the Northern Lights, a spectacular display of dancing lights in the sky.  Beautiful.  As is the wine.  Dried apricots, peach and sweet cream.  It’s your very own taste of heaven in a glass.  Another favorite dessert wine of mine is Royal Tokaji out of Hungary.  Luscious honey and apricots help make this one of my favorite desserts – I would take it over chocolate any day.

Whew, we’ve covered a few wines.  If you got a brand new wine rack, what favorites would you put in it?

Please feel free to comment, would love to hear from you

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Try a Blended Wine!

Posted in Wine on April 5, 2014 by darmyers

Blends

A good friend of mine at work asked me the other day if I buy blends.  I said ‘Of course, and chances are, so do you’!   He didn’t realize all wines from Bordeaux were blends.  Many wines are blended, even if it only says a single varietal on a label.  For example, if a wine from California says Cabernet Sauvignon, only 85% of that wine has to be Cabernet.  Winemakers add little amounts of other grapes for complexity, diversity and flavor.  Oregon has some of the strictest regulations in North America, the wine must contain 90% of the varietal on the label.

Here’s some of my favorites:

Corbiere bottle

Here’s a new blend I have recently discovered and thoroughly enjoy.  It’s the Corbieres Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre from Abbotts & Delaney.  Corbieres is an appellation in the Langeudoc region of France.  Normally, you’ll see GSM on the label (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre) but in this particular wine the Syrah is dominant.  Wines from France can be tricky to buy for the average consumer, as it is normally labeled by region, and not varietal.  But I think these guys were super smart and put the Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre on the label.  This particular blend is spicy and smoky and full of flavor with peppery notes.  I just love it.

cupcake

Here’s another yummy blend, this time from California and under $20.  Cupcake Red Velvet is a great name for this velvety delicious wine.  A blend of some of my favorite grapes including Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Sirah.  This rich opulent wine has flavors of ripe red fruits, chocolate and a hint of coconut.  Each grapes adds richness, a distinct flavor and structure.   Bring this baby to any BBQ and you will be the toast of the town.

Sandhill

Here’s a beauty from Canada.  Sandhill has made this delicious blend of Cabernet and Merlot.  Winemaker Howard Soon is coming to Halifax to speak and  I can’t wait, I have a ticket.  Here’s what he had to say about this wine!

Winemaker Notes:

“Our Sandhill Cabernet Merlot from our estate vineyard in Oliver is a smooth, well-balanced wine, with excellent fruit quality and good structure.  This blend shows the classic synergies of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, which have proven successful all over the world.”

 

Bordeaux 1 Bordeaux 2  bordeaux 3 Bordeaux 4

 

And the above wines are all wines from Bordeaux France.  And although they don’t say the grape varietals on the labels, they are all blends.  Either Cabernet Sauvignon dominant or Merlot dominant, one thing is certain, they are all blended.

Oh… and they are delicious too.

What’s your favorite blend.  I would love to hear from you, and Wine – In My Opinion is also on Facebook, and this is where I share wine articles I have read that I want to pass along, and some humor as well.  You can find the link here

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wine-In-My-Opinion/223994754407204

Thanks for coming along on the journey

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

 

New World Wine in Old World Styles

Posted in Red Wine on March 29, 2014 by darmyers

Halifax storm 2 BBQ in storm

So last week’s wine blog was about Spring…. and how many people tend to have their first barbecue of the season right about now.  Well, this is what Wednesday,  March 26th looked like in Halifax, the left being a view outside of the Radio Station I work at, and the second my poor BBQ tied down so it didn’t blow away in 120 kmh winds.   We’ll try the BBQ and wine matching blog again a little later on in the Summer.   Spring in Atlantic Canada… come on California.

New world vs old world

Speaking of California, I’ve been doing a fair bit of research lately on New World Wine done in Old World Style.  I’m doing a presentation for my wine school as part of my journey to becoming a Sommelier.  So I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned and share some really unique tasty wines from New world Countries done in Old World Style.

Bordeaux 1 Napa 2

Quick run-down on what I mean by Old World and New World.  Old World wine regions have been making wine for a thousand years or more and include countries like France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany – just to name a few.  When many people think of Old World they think of European countries.  New World vineyards have been making wine for under 200 years, and many of them, including California and Canada, just finding their stride in the last 50 years or so.   Old World wine regions tend to be revered by many, and make their wine with terroir in mind and tend to be bound by tradition.   New World wine, not so much.  However, don’t get me wrong, I love New World wine.  Wines from New Zealand, Australia, California, Oregon and Canada rank among some of my favorites.  And I especially like their attempts at making New World Style Bordeaux.  I know many are going to disagree with me on this, but the blog is called ‘In My Opinion’ for a reason – what can I say I like them.

Burrowing Owl Meritage label

So, a Bordeaux wine is always a blended wine using allowable grapes.  The allowable grapes include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere.  In the New World, a wine done in the style of Bordeaux is called Meritage.  This one from Burrowing Owl in the Okanagan is one of my favorites.   This wine, meant for aging, has delicious aromas of plums, cassis, cherry and cocoa.  And on the palate – smooth and elegant with big juicy flavors of plums, cherry, raspberry and spice.  This is a beautiful wine to go with roast beef, or once it warms up, anything done on the grill.

Mondavi meritage

Here’s another Meritage, this one from Robert Mondavi in California.  At $20 a bottle, this is a great wine at a great price.   Robert Mondavi was inspired to create this wine after travelling abroad and tasting the wines.  Lots of beautiful ripe fruits on this wine that can be enjoyed now or it can be aged if you so choose.

Claret

When Eleanor of Aquitane married the King of England, Bordeaux was under English rule.  It didn’t take long for the English to fall in love with wines from Bordeaux, and put the name Claret on them.  (not Clar-ay – .. Clar-it is how it’s pronounced)  I have written about one of my favorites – the Francis Ford Coppola Black Diamond Claret out of the Napa Valley.  This Cabernet Sauvignon dominant wine is full-bodied, well structured and full of flavor.  It’s a big wine that will hold its own against any meat.

And it’s not just Bordeaux that get’s copied.  Oregon is on the map as some of the finest producers of Burgundian style Pinot Noir.  And they are doing Riesling, a wine that many people think of Germany when they think Riesling,  in fine style as well.

Firesteed RieslingFiresteed Pinot

Here are two examples.  The Firesteed Riesling and the Firesteed Pinot Noir.   The Riesling is a gorgeous example of a Riesling from Oregon.  Full of aromas mandarin orange, lemon zest, and melon.  This is one of my favorite wines to have with spicy food, Asian cuisine or Chinese food.  It can also be paired very well with chicken and a whole array of other dishes.  If you’re reading this, please feel free to share your favorite Riesling dishes.  The Firesteed Pinot Noir with its vibrant flavors of cherry and spice will feel like your first taste of summer.  And heaven knows we all need a little summer.

If you have been dumped on this week by snow or cold temperatures – hopefully some of the wines mentioned will help warm you up.  If you’re enjoying Spring like temperatures, please share with the rest of us where you live!

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

 

 

 

 

 

Spring is Here

Posted in Wine & Food on March 22, 2014 by darmyers
Spring Wine
After the longest winter in history, or that’s what it seemed like, Spring is finally here.  It’s longer days, sunny skies and birds.  It’s also the time when many people dust off the barbecue and fire up the grill for the first time in months.  (Not me, I’m a year round griller myself!)
 it
BBQ #1
When people tend to see my BBQ, mouths tend to gape.  Yeah, it’s a big one, holding 43 hamburger patties, and I love it.  Last night for example, it was +6 degrees, so I barbecued a stuffed butterfly pork chop  with a hot and sweet mustard sauce and I did wings.  I love wings… And one of my goals in life is to make the best wings.  And I never BBQ, without a glass of vino in my hand.  It’s not the same.  So I have found some fantastic wines to go hand in hand with your favorite BBQ foods.   Just in case you’re thinking of kick-starting the grill this first weekend of Spring.
pork chop  Predator
So this is the wine I had with my pork chop last night.  It’s the Predator Old Vine Zinfandel out of California.  Central California is known for its Old Vine Zinfandels’ and this is one of my favorites.  This wine is sourced from vines that are 50+ years old, and the older the vine the sweeter the fruit.  You can quote me on that.   Smooth, velvety texture, with a hint of spice.  This spice and the rich round smoothness of the wine make for a very food friendly wine.  One of my friends, Jayme, told me this past week she often wonders why she likes a particular wine as much as she does.   That’s the beauty of  having so many choices, there is a wine for everyone.  Jayme and I have very similar tastes in wine, so Jayme, I hope you try some of the wines in this weeks blog.
Mondavi Zinfandel
Here’s a new Zinfandel I tried this week, and at $12.99 a bottle, it offers a tasty Zinfandel at an amazing price.   The Woodbridge Mondavi Zinfandel is full of personality with flavors of black pepper, plums and baking spice.   Quite a nice surprise from the price point, but I recommend for everyone to try it.
Cook with wine
Tomorrow night I am having my sister and her husband over for dinner, and I promised George that I would grill him a steak.   George is a meat-loving guy.  And I have a few different wines in my wine rack at the moment that will go well with the wine.
Steak
The first wine that comes to mind for me is Cabernet Sauvignon, and it’s hard for me to talk about Cabernet Sauvignon with steak and not mention Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon.
Carnivor  Errazuriz Cab
From California, known for making Cabernet Sauvignon the “King of Cabernet”, this big meaty Cabernet would probably be one of the reasons why.  It full-bodied and bold, a big wine with big flavors of jam, chocolate and spicy tannins.  This wine is a mouthful, and it should be.   The other Cabernet I chose is from Chile.   If you want to try some new delicious full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, head to the Chilean section of your local wine store.  Chile is the new up and coming producer of Cab, and they are doing it incredibly well – at incredibly good prices.  The Maipo Valley in Chile is leading the way in Cabernet and this one from Errazuriz is juicy with black pepper flavors and a subtle toasted oak flavor that will compliment the wine, not over-power it.
mashed potatoes cilantro sour cream
My friend Jayme, is also the friend responsible for my latest addition, cilantro flavored sour cream.  We buy it at our local farmers market and this stuff is amazing.  I have tried to make it, not quite making it so good, but I’m going to keep trying.  So, I am thinking of making this cilantro flavored mashed potatoes for my dinner tomorrow night with the steak.     I know, it’s going to be fantastic.  Because of my choice of sides, there are many more wines that will pair well with this steak.
hot to trot white Sterling Chardonnay
For all the white wine loving friends, there are several that are big enough to stand up to steak on the grill.  The 14 Hands Hot to Trot white blend is predominately Chardonnay with Pinot Gris and Semmilion from the wonderful state of Washington.   White stone fruit and citrus make for a vibrant twist on a Classic Chardonnay.  Flavors of lemon zest and crisp acidity will match well with those mashed potatoes.   The wine next to it is a wine I tried in a tasting this past week.  Classic California Chardonnay at its best.  Medium to full-bodied, flavors of apples and pear, and a smooth as silk finish makes this a great pairing for your BBQ.
Las Black label
Other wines that I could serve at this BBQ is the Las Moras Black Label Malbec from Argentina.  Argentina makes an amazing Malbec, and I encourage you to try one soon.   This award-winning Malbec is full of rich flavors of coffee, smoke and ripe red fruit.   It can also be served with lamb and pasta and a myriad of other dishes.
Whiz label  Audrey bottle
It would be a crime for me to talk about the grill without bringing out a Shiraz…. and when I think of great Shiraz, I think of Australia.   The Whiz Bang is a beautiful expression of a Shiraz from the Barossa Valley in Australia.  Raspberries, plums, white pepper and spicy vanilla toasted oak will have you asking for a second glass… (maybe even a third).  And the next wine is the Audrey Wilkinson Shiraz, and I mentioned this one for two reasons.  One, it’s a fantastic wine, and two, the winemaker, Jeff Byrne, is from right here in Nova Scotia.  He makes a beautiful Shiraz that packs a punch of gorgeous flavors and subtle oak.  I have one in my rack I’ve been saving, and I think I found tomorrow night’s wine.
Wine Happy woman
And that’s it for this week… Yes, a happy woman is a woman with wine.  I love hearing from you, so if you have a suggestion for your favorite wine with BBQ foods, please drop me a note.
Till next week, Cheers
Darlene

I Wish They All Could be California…..

Posted in Uncategorized on March 15, 2014 by darmyers

Musical Note

Wines!!   On my quest to becoming a Sommelier, our current studies have been on California and its gorgeous wines.  I love my classes, and just to prove it, I have been doing extensive homework with a wide variety of California wines.  And if the Beach Boys thought the California girls were great, just wait till you taste the California wines.

Dancing bull bottle

Let’s start with this baby.  At under $15, it’s a fabulous deal and full of fantastic flavors.  (My, that’s a lot of F words – and not the ones I usually use)   Black cherries, raspberry, vanilla and spice make for all things nice in a wine.   I had it with a BBQ, which won’t come as a surprise to my regular readers, but it does go very well with grilled food.

Predator bottle

Here’s another one of my favorite Zinfandel’s from California.  It’s the Predator Old Vine Zinfandel.  A little higher up in the price scale, but just a gorgeous expression of Zinfandel, with rich flavors that can only come from an old vine, and in this case the vines are 50+ years old.   Juicy and spicy with hints of bacon (hello!) and chocolate – what’s not to like.   And it goes down like velvet.

Mondavi himselfMondavi vineyard

You cannot talk about wine in California, without talking about Robert Mondavi.  He was a leading California winemaker, many say he was ‘the’ leading California winemaker, responsible for bringing Napa Valley wines to worldwide attention.  His was the first vineyard built in the Napa Valley and with his smart technical improvements and savvy marketing skills history was made.

Central Coast label  Mondavi Reserve

The wine on the left is from the Robert Mondavi Private Selection and is great value.  It sells for about $20 a bottle and is a favorite of good friends of mine.   The Robert Mondavi on the right was a birthday gift to me from those friends that are fans of Robert Mondavi.  It’s on the other end of the price scale.  The wine on the left is delicious with flavors cherry and spices.  The wine on the left is heaven in a bottle.  Deep, dark and full of complex flavors.  I know I talked about it last week, but in case you missed that, it was elegant and full flavored and one of the best Cabs I have ever had.

Central Coast labelWoodbridge

I found it very interesting that Robert Mondavi himself is not a big fan of the lower priced wines that carry his name.  In 2003, Mondavi criticized his sons for the business strategy that emphasized the inexpensive lines.  He said it allowed the company name to lose its association with the fine wine it was known for in the past.   Robert Mondavi started his vineyard in 1966 and his goal was to produce wines that would rival the finest in Europe.    And in the Grand European Jury Wine Tasting of 1997, the Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Reserve was ranked number one.   What many don’t know is that the family no longer owns the Robert Mondavi winery.  3 days before Christmas in 2004, there was a controversial takeover by Constellation Brands.

Opus oneerrazuriz

In 1979 he partnered with Baron Phillipe de Rothschild of Chateau Mouton Rothschild, of Bordeaux fame, to create Opus One Winery, which you may recognize, and also has joint ventures with local partners in Europe, Australia and in South America with the Errazuriz name.  Although Robert Mondavi died in 2008 at the age of 94, following the sale of the company, Mondavi partnered with his youngest son Tim Mondavi and daughter Marcia to make a single wine from a single estate at the highest level. The family partnership Continuum Estate is still run by Robert’s son Tim, daughter Marcia and grandchildren Carissa Mondavi, Chiara Mondavi, Carlo Mondavi and Dante Mondavi.

Chateau st JeanBeringer Single vineyardDreaming Tree Crush Calera label

California has a wine for everyone.  Many great wines come out of California, and not just the Napa Valley.  Think Cheateau St. Jean, Beringer, Dreaming Tree and Calera just to name a couple that are available here in Nova Scotia.  Josh Jenson became a pioneer by wanting to find the perfect spot to grow the heartbreak grape Pinot Noir, and rival the finest Burgundian Pinot Noir.   This is a quote from the Calera website:   Even Robert Parker is convinced: “Calera is one of the most compelling Pinot Noir specialists of not only the New World, but of Planet Earth.”   Believe me, I have tried and enjoyed Calera Pinot Noir from the Central Coast line.  And they are right!  Compelling is a great word to use.  I also like balanced, rich and goes with everything food friendly.

I could  probably spend the next month writing about California wines.  I really enjoy them, and visited the Napa Valley in 2001.  I spent 8 glorious days enjoying the many wines of the Napa Valley that we can’t get in Canada.  It’s a beautiful spot with rolling hills of vineyards and the people are fantastic and nice.   I still want to move there one day.

Till next week, Cheers.

Darlene

 

 

Wow Wines for When You Want To Treat Yourself!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 8, 2014 by darmyers
This past week, I have had the opportunity to sample and enjoy some spectacular wines.  And although many of my wine blogs are about great wines at reasonable prices, this week I thought I would delve into the wonderful world of higher priced treat wines.  After all, we all love a treat every once in a while and heaven knows we deserve it.
Beringer Single vineyard Beringer Private reserve
The wine on the left is the Beringer Steinhauer Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon out of California.  Named after long-time vineyard Manager Robert Steinhauer, this Cabernet comes in at about $90, and greets the palate with gorgeous flavors of jammy plums, chocolate, a hint of coffee and lots of mouth-watering spice.  Anniversary?  Special Birthday?  Grill a steak and pour a glass of this wine for that special someone.  The wine on the right is also from Beringer.  It’s the Private Reserve Cabernet coming in at a smooth $120 a bottle.  A gorgeous big bold wine with rich flavors of berries, and a beautiful persistent finish that just stays with you.  I found the tannins on this wine softer and this wine was the epitome of a smooth Cabernet for me.  Probably one of the best ones I have ever had.
Mondavi Reserve
When I turned 50, special friends of mine gave me a very special bottle of wine.  Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.  A beauty that carries a price tag over $150 and I opened it the other night with a very special friend.  Elegant, full flavored and one of the best Cabernet’s I have ever tasted, this has received the highest of reviews.  Generous flavors of blackberry, cassis, toasty vanilla,  and sage made for a wonderful evening.  We enjoyed every sip of this wine and I recommend it to everyone.
Le Clos Jordanne Chardonnay
I can’t do a wine blog about treat wines without writing about my all time favorite white wine.  From Canada, we produce this gorgeous Chardonnay from le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos that is soft, subtle and complex all at the same time.   Honeyed fruit and hints of pepper with great minerality, this is my favorite Chardonnay in the world.  It comes in at about $85 a bottle.   It has a sister,  Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir, which I thought I was going to have the chance to try it 2 weeks ago when we studied Canada in my quest to become a Sommelier.  Our instructor had ever intention of bringing it, but he couldn’t find it in the cellar.
For those of you that are new to my weekly wine blog, last summer wine writer Natalie Maclean interviewed myself and Le Clos Jordanne winemaker Sebastian Jacquey.  Here is a short video of that 3-way conversation.  Natalie had named the segment “Wine, Happiness, Chicken & Sommelier’s in Training and that’s what I named the blog to follow.  You see I thought Le Grand Clos Chardonnay was the perfect wine with chicken and apparently so did many other people across Canada, in the Great Canadian Wine Match.
Wine, Happiness, Chicken & Sommelier’s in Training
 
When I was first asked, I was so nervous I almost cancelled.  I am so glad I didn’t cancel, these two talented individuals know so much about wine and I enjoyed every second of the conversation.  And we got to enjoy a glass of the beautiful Chardonnay together.
Well, that’s it for this week.  Thank you so much for reading and sharing with your friends.
Till next week, Cheers
Darlene

Wines of Portugal- Give One A Try

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1, 2014 by darmyers

 

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.

Alianca with salad

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.

Alianca label

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.

Quinta vinho verde

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.

Borba bottle

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.

Callabriga

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

Darlene

 

 

 

Welcome to the World of South American Wine!

Posted in Wine on February 22, 2014 by darmyers
In my quest to become a Sommelier, I have just recently studied wines from Chile & Argentina, and let me tell you… you can discover some beautiful wines at very reasonable prices.
Let’s start with Chile.  Although wine has been made in Chile for 500 years, the wine industry is young and fresh.  They did get a burst of international attention in the mid-19th Century when Phylloxera devastated the vineyards in France.  French wine makers came over looking for work and Chile welcomed them with open arms.  It wasn’t long before Chilean wine was wanted locally and abroad.  However, with 2 World Wars and decades of state protectionism, it wasn’t until the 1980′s that Chile started to enjoy  a resurgence.  Chile now exports wine to 100 countries and there are some beautiful wines available from this country.
Here’s a Pinot Noir I had the other evening.  First time ever trying a Pinot Noir from Chile and I really enjoyed it.  There was a time wine-drinkers would tell you to stay away from a Pinot Noir under $20, however, this one is only $18.99 and it’s a beautiful expression of a Pinot Noir.  From the Casablanca region of Chile (isn’t that a romantic name for a wine region), it is medium-bodied with notes of cherry and delicate spices.  It is aromatic and food friendly and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

 

      
Three of the biggest names in Chile are  Concha Y Toro, Errazuriz and Santa Rita.  The Casillero del Diablo wine is the mainstay of the winery Concha y Toro, and has a fabulous story.  The rumor that the wine cellar was haunted by the devil gave this wine its unique name and now comes in 10 different varieties.   The Merlot, which is pictured here, along with the Carmenere from Errazuriz, has a unique history in Chile as well.  Carmenere was once mistaken for Merlot, even though it looked different and ripened 2 – 4 weeks later than Merlot.  These two varietals were harvested and bottled together, which sometimes gave Chilean Merlot a green unripe taste.  In 1994, through DNA testing, Carmenere was identified as a varietal on its own.  Now Chilean Merlot, like this one from Concha Y Toro, is smooth and rich with lush flavors of plums, black cherry and chocolate.  Carmenere is now known as Chile’s grape, never finding its proper home in Bordeaux France.  The Errazuriz Carmenere elicits gorgeous flavors of dark fruits, coffee and spice.  And both of these wines are under $20!
According to legend, 120 patriots, exhausted after a long, hard battle during the fight for Chile’s independence, reached the land belonging to Santa Rita. On that fateful night in 1814, these forces of liberty found refuge in the estate cellars.  The Santa Rita Chardonnay sells for under $17 where I live, and is a full-bodied beauty with flavors of vanilla and tropical fruits.
Separated by Chile by the majestic Andes Mountain Range, Argentina is the biggest wine producer in South America and the 5th largest in the world.   You cannot talk about wine in Argentina, without talking about Malbec.   It is the flagship of wines in Argentina and the biggest producer of Malbec in the world.  Originating in Bordeaux, it was used to pigment wines, but it has a starring role in Argentina.
Privada
This Norton Privada Malbec is a big winner in my eyes.  This is a big bold full-bodied wine.  Full of ripe fruit and bold spice, this baby can take on any grilled meat, steak or roast.   This wine was made for beef.
Catena Malbec
Of the 210,000 hectares of vines planted in Argentina, 156,000 of them are planted in the region of Mendoza.  The biggest wine region in Argentina, offers a wide variety of wines, and again Malbec shines.  This Catena Malbec is gorgeous, dark and rich.  Spice, chocolate and vanilla flavors complement this wine, and again it’s under $20.
Chile and Argentina offer a wide variety of delicious wines in both red and white.  I didn’t even get to discuss Brazil.  Check it out at your favorite wine store and discover a whole New World of wine!
Cheers
Darlene

Gold Medal Winning Food & Wine Combos

Posted in Uncategorized on February 15, 2014 by darmyers

Sochi logo

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.

Caprese

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
  • Garlic
  • 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.

 Dreaming Tree Crush

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.

I had my sister over for supper this past week.  She takes care of my Tigger when I travel.  And she loves my stuffed Butterfly pork chops.  So here’s the recipe.  Thanks to my friend Jay Lawrence for passing along what has become one of my favorite recipes.
Stuffed Butterfly Pork Chops:
Butterfly Pork Chops (ensure they are thin)
In a bowl, combine:
Bread crumbs
Feta Cheese
Real bacon bits
Onion
Apple slice, cut up
Cranberries add a nice touch, but are optional
Savory
A dab of butter
Make stuff and put the stuffing on one side of the pork chop.  Fold over and secure with tooth picks.  I like to grill them, but you can do them in the oven.   I like to serve them two ways, one with a spicy mustard, or a curried pickled relish.
Now the wine:
Riesling…. Even if you are not a white wine drinker, try this delicious Riesling from Germany.  Even if you have tried a Riesling and didn’t like, spend the couple of extra dollars and try this one.
Rheingau Riesling label
The Balthasar Ress Hattenheim Riesling from Rheingau.  Now there’s a mouthful.  You may want to take a picture or write that one down before you head out to your favorite wine store.   This premium German Riesling has a touch of sweetness, great acidity and mouth-watering flavors of apples, pear and honey.  Hello!  What’s not to like.   It will be like a sweet kiss with this sweet pork dish.
If you just drink red, a nice smoky Merlot.  And because I like Merlot so much, I’m going to recommend a couple of my favorites.
Dada label
One of the best deals in the liquor store right now is DaDa out of Argentina.  At under $16, this fabulous juicy plump Merlot is full-bodied and made with no sulphur additions.  Gorgeous Merlot.  I always have a bottle or two in the wine rack.
Benziger
Another gorgeous Merlot is this Benziger from Sonoma County in the Napa Valley.  Not to be confused with the Beringer Family, although they make really good wine too.  This is  a nice rich plummy wine with a hint of vanilla from the oak aging.
Bois Pertuis
Another good deal is this Merlot-dominant Bordeaux out of France.  Under $17, and this Bordeaux will surprise you.  Of course being Bordeaux, it’s a blend, there’s some Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in there as well.   Oh, and since the Olympics are on, this wine won a Gold and Silver Medal in competition.   Medium bodied with plum and cherry flavors, a hint of vanilla and its been aged in French oak for 8 months.  To use expensive French oak (each barrel ranges from $800 to $1200) and sell the wine for under $20, that’s a good bargain.  And its very food friendly.
Have a great week, enjoy the Olympics, but more importantly, enjoy some great wine this week
Cheers
Darlene

 

Gold Medal Winning Wines

Posted in Uncategorized on February 8, 2014 by darmyers

Sochi logo

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.  

Let’s start in Canada.  The See Ya Later Ranch, what a great name for a winery, has won many awards dating back to 2007 on their website.   See Ya Later Ranch

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.”

   
With our frigid Canadian winters, especially this one, if there’s one thing Canada knows how to do well is make great Ice Wines.  And 4 of our Canadian Ice Wines have won Gold Medals.  Peller Estates 2011 Ice Wine, Inniskillin 2011 Riesling Ice Wine, Jackson Triggs Grand Reserve Riesling Ice Wine 2008 and the Mission Hill Family Estate Riesling Ice Wine of 2011 have claimed the prize.  I recently had someone tell me they opened a bottle of Ice Wine, but found it too sweet to drink.  I came to discover he poured it in a regular glass, and went about drinking it as if it was a Pinot Grigio.  My friend is recently getting into wine, and as I told him, my favorite time to enjoy a dessert wine is after a big meal, when I want something sweet, but don’t have room for cake or any of the other desserts.  An ice wine, or a dessert wine as it can be called, is just that…. dessert!
Angove family vineyards has a reputation for putting out spectacular wines at very good prices.  This Angove Family Crest Shiraz  is available in my home province of Newfoundland, at around $36 a bottle.  The NLC carries a wide range of Angove products, but this one is a Gold Medal Winner.  With its rich aromas of spice, pepper and red cherries, this full-bodied Shiraz with its gorgeous flavors of dark chocolate and rich fruit would be welcome at any dinner table, especially one serving BBQ foods.
Gnarly Head label
Now this is a wine you have seen me write about before.  I am a huge fan of Old Vine Zinfandels, and this Gnarly Head is easy to drink and beautifully priced.  This gold medal winner, which I enjoy on a regular basis, is available for under $20.   Here’s what the judges had to say
“Medium dark ruby.  Ripe, dark roasted coffee, black pepper, hints of coconut, jammy strawberry and apricot aromas.  Medium bodied, deliciously ripe red plums and strawberry compote,  wonderfully balanced with soft, bright,  fresh fruit flavors.
I hope you enjoy the Olympics and a big Good Luck to all our Canadian athletes.  We will be cheering you all on, with our own Gold Medal winners in our wine glass.
Till next week, Cheers
Darlene

Favorite Family Vineyards

Posted in Uncategorized on February 1, 2014 by darmyers

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

7034f-2009_francis_ford_coppola_diamond_collection_claret

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.

 Here’s another favorite of mine from California.  The McManis family has been farming in California since 1938 and in 1990, 4th generation Ron McManis and his wife Jamie started the vineyard.   They put out some of my favorite California wines including a great Cabernet Sauvignon (pictured), a delicious Merlot and a juicy Zinfandel.

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.

Peller Estates

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.

Peller Estates makes an award-winning ice wine, as a matter of fact, they make several award-winning ice wines.  Located on the Niagara Peninsula in Canada, the summers are warm enough to grow grapes and the Canadian winters are cold enough to make ice wine.
Family Series Cabernet Merlot 2012
I have also had the opportunity to try the Peller Estates Cabernet Merlot, which has 48% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Full-bodied with flavors of plums and blackberries, with spicy oak.  Makes for a great wine for anything you want to throw on the BBQ.
There are many more family owned vineyards throughout the world, and I have just touched on a few of my favorites.
What are your favorites?
Thanks for reading, have a great week
Darlene

More Great Wine – More Great Recipes

Posted in Wine & Food on January 18, 2014 by darmyers

 

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.

   Caprese Chicken

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.

        
A Chardonnay would also go perfect with this chicken dish, and this is a new one I got this week.  490 Meters Chardonnay is fresh and fruity with flavors of peach, fruit salad and citrus.    And it comes in under $20.  Another choice for Chardonnay, would be the Dreaming Tree Chardonnay from Dave Matthews’ Vineyard in California.
And because Caprese Chicken is Italian, an Italian Pinot Grigio would be awesome together.   A good rule of thumb is that a wine from a region on many occasions will go with food from the region.  In all my wine courses I am told, ‘Match the wine of a region to the food of the region’.    So many wines, one chicken dish.
BBQ Ribs  ( I knew that would get your attention!)
My Dad says that I make the best BBQ Ribs he has ever had.  And every time he comes to visit, or I go home to visit, he asks me to make my ribs.  Like the picture below I separate my Baby Back Ribs bone by bone as well.   This recipe isn’t hard either, but it does take some time.
So you start with my marinade.  As you can tell with many of my recipes, I don’t use measuring spoons, so just toss it in a bowl.
* Brown Sugar * Vinegar * Worcestershire Sauce * Lime Juice * Fresh Ground Pepper * Chili Powder * Garlic * Paprika * Bottle of BBQ Sauce.
I like to marinade them for 6 hours, or even overnight.  Then I put them in my crock pot, and slow cook them for about 3 hours.  Your house will smell delicious.  Then I fire up the grill and finish them off to get those nice grill marks, and a little more BBQ sauce.   Low heat, as they are cooked and you don’t want them to burn.
Here’s the beauty about making BBQ ribs.  You enjoy wine while cooking the ribs on the grill,  and you enjoy wine while eating the ribs.  It’s win-win really.
Having an Old Vine Zinfandel with BBQ ribs is like having the love of your life serenade you with a love song.  It’s just makes your heart skip a beat.  Gnarly head is one of my favorites and under $20, another win-win situation.  An old vine Zinfandel makes a statement, and a delicious one.  Flavors of spice, plum, vanilla and toasted oak, this wine goes with any food you want to put on the grill.
A California Cabernet Sauvignon would also go hand in hand with BBQ ribs and McManis makes a gorgeous award-winning Cab.  Dark berry fruits, a hint of smoke, and toasty oak screams for BBQ ribs.  Also a great wine with BBQ steak.  I am a huge fan of the full line of wines from the McManis family.  Check them out, and let me know what you think.

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)

Darlene

Comfort Food – Comfort Wine!

Posted in Wine & Food on January 11, 2014 by darmyers

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.

http://http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2012/12/bowtie-chicken-alfredo/

This dish has ‘have a glass of wine with me‘ written all over it.   A Chardonnay would go hand in hand beautifully.  The rich creaminess of a nice Chardonnay would compliment the rich creaminess of the pasta dish.  Here are a couple of my favorites.  One comes in under $20, the other… ah, not so much.
    
Red wine also goes beautifully with the Bowtie Chicken Alfredo.  So many red wines.  because of the richness of the dish, a nice smoky Merlot or a nice Cote du Rhone from France, or a GSM, which is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.   Here are a couple of my favorites.  The Velvet Devil Merlot is from Washington State and is under $20, and the Cote du Rhone is from France.  (bet you guessed that one) and it comes in under $15 – and a great value.  The GSM is from the U.S.A and is about $21 here.
  
Another big dish this week I think many people enjoyed, was Shepherd’s Pie.  Nothing says comfort food like Shepherd’s Pie.  Ok, maybe for some homemade Mac and Cheese.  But for me, its pasta and/or Shepherd’s Pie.   Or how about a nice beef stew… yeah!
 
Any dish with all this meat, gravy, potatoes and veggies, a big bold Cabernet Sauvignon.  There are so many good Cabernet Sauvignon wines that come out of California for under $20. we don’t have the time or the room to talk about them all.  So let’s pick a couple.  You can’t go wrong with Robert Mondavi, he has spent years perfecting Cabernet Sauvignon.  The other one is a Beringer, but really, anything Cabernet Sauvignon would go with Shepherd’s Pie or beef stew.
 
For all my white wine loving readers, a well-oaked Chardonnay would be perfect.  As well, I have heard of a Viognier.  A Viognier is one of my favorites with turkey.  And I’ve heard for the reason, it can cut through fatty red meat.    And this is my favorite, from Stags Leap.  They make a beautiful Viognier, complex, well-balanced and vibrant.  Me, I still like a red with my beef.
Well that’s it for this week.  I have to go walk off some of this comfort food I’ve been eating.  Enjoy the recipes and enjoy the wine.
Till next week, Cheers
Darlene

 

 

Hello New Year

Posted in Wine on January 4, 2014 by darmyers

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!

That trip is for one week in the beginning of May.  And at the same time, a couple of friends of mine are going to be visiting the Amalfi Coast in Italy for 3 weeks.  Since I would like to stay longer than one week in Italy, and see more of Italy, I am going to take the train down to the Amalfi Coast for a few days and tour around with my friends.   Hello dream vacation of a lifetime.
I would also like to continue my wine education in 2014.  Still awaiting on my mark from Old World Wine, but I am seriously considering taking New World Wine through the CAPS program this year.   That would be very exciting for me, as I am a huge fan of New World wines.   United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada (just to name a few)… I would love to discover new wines from these regions.   That’s one of the things I enjoyed the most from the Old World Wine course, was the new wines I discovered, that I probably wouldn’t venture out and buy unless I had the chance to try them… For example a $76 Pomerol from France.  It was a beauty though.
And how about a Tokaji – I would never have discovered the luscious taste of Tokaji without taking a wine course.
Royal Tokaji Wine Company 5 Puttonyos Aszu
And of course every time a person takes a new course, there’s always the interesting people you meet.  And it doesn’t have to be about wine.  Take a course in anything that interests you, and I guarantee you will meet a new friend… or two!  It’s also a fantastic way to break up those long winter months.
And then of course there are the new wines waiting to be discovered in 2014.  I follow several wine blogs, and wine loving people on Facebook and Twitter, and I love when they throw out a recommendation on a great new wine.   Just recently on twitter, I had someone send a great soundtrack to enjoy while enjoying a glass of wine.  Would you believe there are many people who read this blog that I have never met in person?  Yet we have become friends through social media and our love of wine.  And I am always learning from these wine loving, haven’t met yet, friends.
I love to eat almost as much as I love to drink wine, and look forward to discovering new recipes and experiences in 2014 as well.    So there you have it, some of the many reasons I am excited about 2014.  I would love to hear from you, what are you excited about in 2014?
Till next week, Cheers
Darlene

 

Best of 2013

Posted in Wine on December 29, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Darlene  Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2007  Sommelier’s in Training

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.

Royal Tokaji Wine Company 5 Puttonyos Aszu

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.

Bouchard 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.

Cheers

Darlene

Twas The Week Before Christmas

Posted in Uncategorized, Wine on December 21, 2013 by darmyers
Twas the week before Christmas and all through the wine cellar, not a wine was stirring, not even the house.  (house wine that is!)  The wine glasses were hung in the wine rack with care, in hopes a Corkscrew would soon be there!
The bottles were nestled, all snug in the rack
With visions of Merlot, Cabernet, and Sack.  (Sherry!)
Papa with his white, and me with my Red
Decided to share a glass before we went to bed.
When out on the lawn, arose such a clatter
I spilled my wine to see what was the matter
Away to the window I flew like a flash
To see Santa Claus in a mad dash
The moon on the face of the newly poured wine
Gave the lustre of Merlot a beautiful shine.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
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 !”

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
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!
It looked as if this wasn’t his first of the night
And his purple stained teeth, proved I was right
He spoke not a word, but went straight to the glass,
And politely inquired if I had any Alsace.
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
He took a big sip and went back to work
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!”
A little fun with a Christmas classic.  I hope each and every one of you have a great Christmas, and please drink responsibly.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank you each and every one of you for accompanying me on my journey with wine.
Darlene 

Mrs. Claus’ Favorite Wines Part II

Posted in Red Wine on December 14, 2013 by darmyers

Mrs. Claus 2

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.

Cheers, Darlene

Mrs. Claus’ Favorite Wines!

Posted in Wine on December 7, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Burrowing Owl Merlot with its exotic flavors of plums, raspberry, spice and sage with its delicate oak treatment makes those cold northern nights much better.  Burrowing Owl also makes a spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon and a Platinum award-winning Meritage.   The Chardonnay from Le Clos Jordanne is a real treat for Mrs. Claus.  Buttery smooth creaminess this fantastic wine is smooth, round and complex.   With gorgeous aromas and flavors of apples, pears, some herbal notes and a soft touch of oak, this wine is a favorite chicken wine for both her and Santa.
As Santa leaves Canada to head south to our neighbors in the U.S.A., Mrs. Claus is dreaming of The Velvet Devil, and I don’t mean Santa.  This is a fabulous expression of a Merlot, and gets much the same weather conditions as the Burrowing Owl Merlot, as Washington State is right next to BC.  Dark Cherries, pipe tobacco, and cedar make for a wine that pairs well with pork or duck.
As Santa heads a little further south into California, Mrs. Claus is not dreaming of sugar plums.  Instead she is dreaming of Robert Mondavi and his estate Cabernet Sauvignon.  California is known for making amazing Cabernet Sauvignon and Robert Mondavi probably still leads the pack.  Full bodied, fruit forward and toasty oak make for a great wine.  Santa really works up an appetite Christmas Eve so he likes a good steak, and this is one of his favorites.
CARMEN GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2011
Santa finds Chile a little warm with that furry red suit, but while he’s there, he knows to pick up a bottle of the Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere for Mrs. Claus.  Carmenere was originally planted in Bordeaux France, but has become Chile’s home grape.  Chile makes great wines at great prices and this Gran Reserva Carmenere is no exception.  It starts with dark chocolate, and then delves into dark and sour cherries with a smoky under-current.  This is a brilliant example of a Carmenere and built for BBQ meats.
As Argentina comes into view Santa is thinking which wine to buy for the Mrs.  There are so many to choose from and all at such good value.  Take for example the Don David premium Malbec.   It’s a bold Malbec with juicy plum flavors, licorice and herbs –  complimented by fine tannins and perfect acidity.   Then there’s Trapiche – one of the biggest names in wine in Argentina.  They make delicious full bodied wines in a variety of price ranges, literally something for everyone.  The Trapiche Malbec Single Estate Escobar is luscious with concentrated flavors of fruit and  pepper that has a great length that will stay with you.
Well, that’s a lot of information for one week.  Join us next week as we take a look at Mrs. Claus’ favorite wines from France, Italy, Australia and New Zealand, as Santa makes his way to the other side of the world.
Till next week, enjoy every moment of this season, and please drink responsibly.
Darlene

Wines That Make Decorating Easier!

Posted in Wine on November 30, 2013 by darmyers
Well this weekend, like many of you, I will be decorating for the holidays.  I thought I was smart and put up my outside Christmas lights a few weeks ago while the weather the warm, with the intention of turning them on December 1st.  However, Mother Nature had a good chuckle over that one.  We had a near hurricane here Wednesday night pass and well, I will be outside repairing, cleaning, re-attaching and replacing the bulbs broken during the 110 km/hr winds.
I will also be putting up my Christmas Tree this weekend.  I light to have it all done by the 1st, and next weekend is our Christmas party, and I like to have people over before to enjoy a nice glass of wine.   There’s nothing like a glass of great wine to help with the holiday decorating.  Wine and Christmas music just seem to go hand in hand with the Christmas decorating.
Here’s a new one I have tried recently that I really enjoyed.   I heard someone say recently they didn’t like Merlot.  You are not trying the right ones.  This one by Beringer, made in California, is a juicy vibrant expression of a Merlot.  Tasty with a Capital T!  Dark plums, black cherries and a hint of cocoa, make it the perfect wine for Christmas decorating.  Someone needs to write a song about that… And when it comes in at under $20, you can decorate a lot of rooms with a wine like that.
Well, if you would like your mouth to come alive with flavor try this Canadian gem.  Mission Hill 2012 Pinot Grigio is on the shelves now, and it’s gorgeous.  This unoaked wine boasts flavors of honey, stone fruits and a hint of ginger.  Crisp acidity and delicious on the palate, you will want to have a few in the wine rack this season, as this delicious wine is perfect for sharing with friends and will go with any meal, even the turkey.
I have to take a few minutes to tell you about a local gem I have just discovered.  I have written about Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 before, well this is a hearty red from the same vineyard here in Nova Scotia.  Winemakers Peter J. Gamble and Jean-Benoit Deslauriers have hit it out of the ball-park with this delicious red wine.  For the notes I am going to quote the winemaker, as he says it beautifully.
“An opaque purple colour so deep it borders on pure black. On the nose, a very earthy bouquet gains complexity from hints of black cherries, oregano and rose petals. On the palate, the wine shows great concentration and density, while remaining elegant and sophisticated.” Winemaker Jean-Benoit Deslauriers
What a great wine to serve this Christmas at a gathering.   And what a great story to go with it.  Taurus, the bull, is a symbol of strength, and that’s where the name of the wine came from.  And grown here in Nova Scotia using the Maréchal Foch grape, it really is a beautiful expression of our terroir.   You hear wine people use the term ‘terroir, and what it means is that the wine is a true expression of the place it came from.  Things like soil and climate are unique to an area and contribute to the personality of the wine.
A quick reminder to ensure you have everything you need before you uncork that wine.  Please don’t drink and drive this holiday season, and more importantly drink responsibly.
And have fun decorating.  We tend to put too much stress on ourselves this season, instead of enjoying each moment.
Cheers, and thanks for reading
Darlene

Which Wine Should I Serve?

Posted in Wine & Food on November 23, 2013 by darmyers
First, leave it to Grumpy Cat to bring in a lot of readers.  Thanks to everyone for reading and sharing last week’s blog.  I hope you enjoy this one as well.  With the Christmas Season, comes Christmas parties.   I’m sure the majority of people reading this blog, will host at least one get together this season.  And this time of the year, the biggest question I get asked, is ‘What wine should I serve?”
Also, keep in mind the blog is called ‘In My Opinion’, and I welcome all feed back and suggestions on the topics.  You may choose different selections than me, and that’s OK.  I would love to hear from you.
 
First, keep a selection of both red and white wine on hand.  If you are a read wine drinker, for the whites choose a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc.   A Chardonnay is smooth and silky, the Sauvignon Blanc crisp and fresh.  When offering your white wine drinking guests, ensure you tell them your selection.  They will have a favorite.  If you want to add a 3rd, I would choose a Pinot Grigio.  All 3 wines are very food friendly and also great sipping wines.  Your guests will not be disappointed.
I think it may get a bit trickier if you are a white wine drinker, and you’re wondering which red to serve.  I’m told by my white wine loving friends that picking out a red wine can be intimidating.  Even my own sister uses the phrase “I don’t know what you like”!   It may surprise you, but most of us red wine loving people – you would be hard pressed to find a wine I didn’t like.  There are some, but red wine drinkers are much easier to please than you think.  If you were going to pick two, I would pick Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s the most widely planted red grape variety.  You can’t miss.  And for the second one have a Merlot or a Pinot Noir on hand.
 
All the wines I have mentioned are food friendly, and will go with a wide variety of foods.  Whether your get together is finger food only, or a full sit down meal, you won’t go wrong with the choices.  You can even add a light sparkling wine to the mix.  Sparkling wines tend to be crisp, refreshing and fun.  And can go with a full range of food choices as well.
What are your favorites choices for serving at a party?  As always, would love to hear from you.
Till next week, Cheers
Darlene

Wine Season!

Posted in Red Wine on November 16, 2013 by darmyers

Grumpy Xmas

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.

  
Le Clos Jordanne
For those that know me, know I love Le Clos Jordanne, Le Grand Clos wine.  I haven’t tried the Pinot Noir yet, but I would love to, so it’s going on my wish list.  And the Chardonnay is liquid gold.   I enjoyed a bottle this year on my birthday, and this elegant complex wine would go with anything you are serving for Christmas this year.  When I spoke to winemaker Sebastian Jacquey this summer, I asked him what I could expect from Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir, and he told me I could expect an ample wine with a hint of limestone, and soft tannins.  A very elegant expression of Pinot Noir.  I’ve been a good girl Santa, and I would love one of these wines.  Ok, maybe I’ll buy it myself.
I get asked all the time about my favorite wines, and this is one that is in the top 5 for sure.  And I think I’m missing it more and more, because I don’t have access to it in Nova Scotia.  It was a regular treat when I lived in Newfoundland, but alas, I haven’t had it in a while.  However, since I am going home to Newfoundland for Christmas, this will definitely be on the wine list.  This winery was awarded European winery of the Year for 2013 by Wine Enthusiast magazine, and if you’ve ever tasted this wine, you would understand why.  A beautiful Tempranillo wine from Rioja that feature aromas and flavors of rich dark fruits, spices and toasted oak.  It looks elegant with the gold netting, and a beautiful gift to give or receive.
Another favorite of mine that I can’t get in Nova Scotia, and will definitely be enjoying when I go home for Christmas.  When Eleanor of Aquitane married the King of England, Bordeaux France came under British rule for 200 years.  The British fell in love with Bordeaux wine, and called it Claret.  (the ‘t’ is not silent, as in most French words.  It’s a British word so it’s pronounced “clar-ette).  This is Francis Ford Coppola’s version of the Cabernet Sauvignon based Bordeaux.  This gorgeous blend has not only Cab Sauv, but also Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec.  Can you say flavorful!  And full-bodied!  Smooth tannins meet succulent wild berries and plums.  Finished by a little toasty oak.
This is the Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz.  Did you know Grey Label was the first wine Wolf Blass made?  This gorgeous wine still reflects the Wolf Blass winemaking philosophy of quality, character and consistency.  And fun.  I had the pleasure of meeting the man in Newfoundland a year ago, and this is a man who loves what he does.  And his fun-loving spirit is reflected in his wines.  This is my favorite steak wine but will go with so many dishes and comfort foods for this upcoming holiday season.
And to get you in the holiday season, my friend Natalie Maclean is hosting the Great Holiday Match.  I have 6 wines nominated, I encourage you to vote and have fun.  Check it out here
Till next week, don’t be a Grumpy!  Enjoy every minute of the season and the time leading up to it.
Darlene

Honoring Our Military

Posted in Wine on November 9, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Bottle of Captains Walk 2006 award-winning merlot

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

Take care

Darlene

 

Get Out of Your Wine Rut!

Posted in Wine on November 2, 2013 by darmyers

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

Darlene

The 100 Point Rating System

Posted in Wine on October 26, 2013 by darmyers

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.

It is essentially a 50-100 point rating system which correlates to an ‘A-F’ grade on the wine.   Anything with an 85 or higher rating was considered an above average or good wine with a 90+ Rating considered outstanding.   Not only was this rating system popular with consumers, as it made buying good wine easier, it was also popular with Wine retailers and merchants, who had a great Marketing tool in their hands
In my opinion, it is the name of the blog – this man is genius.  If you enjoy wine, but don’t know much about wine, going into a Liquor Store or Wine store to purchase wine, it can be an intimidating thing.  I hear this all the time from people.   And, because French wine tends not to be labelled by their grape, but by region, it can make French wine a little more difficult.  This man, Robert Parker, made buying a good bottle of wine a little easier.   Good for him.   The average person can walk into a store, see a bottle of wine with a 90+ Rating, and feel that they are getting a decent bottle of wine.
Not everyone is a fan of the 100 Point Rating System.    Many critics say it is flawed because it downplays the influence of terroir and tradition – what some consider to be two very important guiding influences in the making of Old World Wine.  Terroir is the influence of soil, slope, elevation, exposure and climate.  Tradition relates to the traditional ways of making wine still being used in France and other parts of the world.
Bordeaux is divided between the Left Bank and the Right Bank.  The Left Bank still uses a Classification system that originally was devised for the 1855 Paris Exposition.  Because of this rating by vineyard, Bordeaux experienced great prosperity and the price of the wine increased because of it.   However, Bordeaux has had its ups and downs since then.  Crops wiped out, frost ruining crops, add World War 2 to the equation and you have a bleak economic condition in Bordeaux.  People weren’t buying the wines.   Then came the vastly over-priced 1972 vintage which caused the entire Bordeaux market to crash.  People were not buying Bordeaux wines even though prices were slashed
It took an American wine critic to change things.  Imagine how the French felt about that.  Along comes Robert Parker, an American Wine writer, that gave Bordeaux a much-needed boost in the World market.  Parker predicted the success of the 1982 vintage and a whole new game was in play.  Higher prices and new customers in new markets soon followed.   It is said he likes a particular kind of wine, full-bodied with lots of oak.  And many critics like to refer to it as the ‘Parkerization’ of wine.   Mr. Parker has said he scores wine on how much pleasure they give him.  You see,  with the 1855 Classification system, it was the position and reputation of the ‘Chateau’ that determined how much they charged for a bottle of wine, dating back unchanged from 1855.   Parker noted with the obscurity, corruption and other problems of this system, his ‘consumer-oriented’ approach was made necessary.
And although Robert Parker is not responsible for all the changes, as consumer demand and fame started to grow in Bordeaux, Robert Parker’s fame grew with it.  And I would like to thank him.  I am training to become a Sommelier and learning about the regions of France, and let me tell you first hand, it can be confusing.  Robert Parker made buying good wine easier for all of us.  Cheers Mr. Parker.
Till next week, I hope you enjoy a bottle of wine that Robert Parker has given a good rating!
Darlene

A Celebration of Food & Wine!

Posted in Wine & Food on October 19, 2013 by darmyers

 

 

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)

Summer Salad

Ingredients:

Salad Greens

Dried cranberries

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)

Brown sugar

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.

http://darlenemyers.com/2013/07/20/wine-happiness-chicken-sommeliers-in-training/

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

Darlene

 

 

 

 

 

Grateful for Good Friends, Good Food & Good Wine

Posted in Wine & Food on October 12, 2013 by darmyers

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

Darlene

 

 

Wine – My Fall Favorites!

Posted in Wine & Food on October 5, 2013 by darmyers

 

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.

Cheers

Darlene

FAQ’s About Wine – Part 2

Posted in Wine on September 29, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Darlene

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Wine!

Posted in Wine on September 21, 2013 by darmyers

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

Cheers

Darlene

The Wonderful World of Bordeaux

Posted in Wine on September 14, 2013 by darmyers

 

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.

File:Lafite Label 1999.jpg

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

Darlene

 

 

My Journey To Becoming A Sommelier Continues

Posted in Wine on September 7, 2013 by darmyers

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

Darlene

 

“Benvenuto in Italia” – Welcome to Italy

Posted in Wine & Food on August 31, 2013 by darmyers

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.

13WITA015

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.

Photo: Benevenuto in Italia - Welcome to Italy... this week's wine blog at www.darlenemyers.com  And featuring a great recipe for my favorite Linguine dish.

Linguine With Green Olive Paste and 5 Cheeses: 

Paste:

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

Basil

Garlic

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.

Photo: Benevenuto in Italia - Welcome to Italy... this week's wine blog at www.darlenemyers.com  And featuring a great recipe for my favorite Linguine dish.

So until next week “Applausi” – which means Cheers in Italian.

Darlene

Great Summer Value Picks

Posted in Wine on August 24, 2013 by darmyers

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

Darlene

The Wonderful World of Chardonnay

Posted in Wine & Food on August 17, 2013 by darmyers

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

Darlene

 

 

 

Great New Italian Wines

Posted in Wine & Food on August 10, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Caprese Chicken:

Are you ready for the easiest fanciest looking dish ever!

Chicken cutlets

Mozzarella ball cut in slices

Tomatoes

Italian Salad Dressing

balsamic Vinegar

Basil

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

Darlene

Long Weekend Wine

Posted in Wine & Food on August 3, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Pascual Toso Limited Edition Malbec 2011

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
  • Tomatoes
  • 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
  • Salsa
  • 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

Darlene

Wine Tasting with Friends

Posted in Wine, Wine & Food on July 27, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Single Estate - Pinot Gris

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.

Summer Salad

 

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)
  • Cranberries
  • Toasted Pecans
  • You can also add your favorite ingredients.  I have used beets instead of cranberries at times and fresh fruit like pears

Salad Dressing:

  • 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) .

Darlene

Wine, Happiness, Chicken & Sommeliers in Training

Posted in Wine & Food on July 20, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Wine, Happiness, Chicken & Sommelier’s in Training

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.

Darlene

Discovering New Wines This Summer

Posted in Wine & Food on July 13, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Enjoy.

Darlene

Everyone Deserves a Treat!

Posted in Wine on July 6, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Cheers

Darlene

 

Great Wines Under $20 – Part 2

Posted in Wine on June 29, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Cheers

Darlene

Great Wines Under $20!

Posted in Wine with tags , on June 22, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Darlene

The Story behind the Wine!

Posted in Wine on June 15, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Jeff Byrne, chief winemaker for Australia’s Audrey Wilkinson, touts his brand Tuesday at the liquor store on Joseph Howe Drive in Halifax. (TED PRITCHARD/ Staff)

Yesterday I got to try both his Chardonnay and the Shiraz.

Audrey Wilkinson Chardonnay

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.

Image

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.

Darlene

 

 

Great Canadian Wine Match

Posted in Wine & Food on June 8, 2013 by darmyers

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!

Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay

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.

http://www.nataliemaclean.com/canadian-wines/best-wine-chicken-pairing/2013/award/#winner

I was ecstatic to learn a Nova Scotia wine won 1st place in beef.

Luckett Vineyards Phone Box Red

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.

Norman Hardie County Unfiltered Pinot Noir

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.

http://www.princeedwardcountywineries.com/

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.

http://www.nataliemaclean.com/canadian-wines/best-wine-pizza-pairing/2013/award/#winner

Quails' Gate Estate Winery Optima Totally Botrytis Affected

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.

http://www.nataliemaclean.com/canadian-wines/best-wine-cheese-pairing/2013/award/#winner

Domaine de Grand Pré Vintner's Reserve L'acadie Blanc 2010

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.

 http://www.nataliemaclean.com/canadian-wines/best-wine-seafood-pairing/2013/award/#winner
 And last but certainly not least, the winners of the best wine with dessert.
Black Sage Pipe 2007
First place went to Black Sage Pipe 2007 from the Okanagan in BC.  Nominated by Deborah Podurgiel out of North Vancouver, here’s what she had to say about her winning nomination.  “The Pipe (like Port) is a dessert in itself with ripe cherry and dark berries on the nose, chocolate, plum, figs, vanilla and a nutty finish on the palate. As a chocoholic, I’ve tried it with a Madagascar chocolate bark chunked with Madagascar chocolate nibs. It’s death by chocolate with a deliciously happy ending! ”  2nd Place was won by Huff Estates Winery Zero De Gris from Prince Edward Island and 3rd place was Jost Vineyards Vidal Icewine 2006 from right here in Nova Scotia.  You can check out the winners here.
www.nataliemaclean.com/canadian-wines/best-wine-dessert-pairing/2013/award/#winner
What fun we had!  The first ever Great Canadian Wine Match, a brain-child of wine writer and Sommelier Natalie MacLean out of Ottawa, was a fantastic idea, and a great way to put the spotlight on Canadian wines.  We have some real beauties here.   I can’t wait to try all the wines!
I hear that maybe she is going to do it again in the Fall, this time highlighting ‘Wines Under $25″!
Till then, Cheers
Darlene

Fire Up The Grill Part 2

Posted in Wine & Food on June 1, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Marqués de Riscal Reserva 2006 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.

 Bodega Septima Gran Reserva, 2009And 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.

Darlene

Fire Up The Grill

Posted in Wine & Food on May 25, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Steak:

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!

 

Darlene

 

The End of an Era

Posted in Wine on May 18, 2013 by darmyers

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-001

 

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.

sue-001

Cheers

Darlene

I Love California Wines!

Posted in Wine on May 11, 2013 by darmyers

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.

Schucks Chardonnay

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.

Darlene

Personalities of Wine & People

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2012 by darmyers

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.

Brotte Pere Anselm Cotes du Rhone La Fiole, Rhone, France label

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!

Darlene

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