The End of an Era
A tribute to my friend Susan Slaunwhite
The NSLC store at Larry Uteck lost a great friend and family member this week and what is truly Larry Uteck’s NSLC loss is Bayer’s Lake gain.
When I transferred to Nova Scotia, I quickly discovered that some of my favorite wines were not available in this province. I didn’t recognize very many wines in the Port of Wines section, and although I had some training, I seem to have lost my passion for trying new wine. Going to the Liquor store had lost its fun….. and then I met Sue.
Sue knows so much about wine and going to the Liquor Store became fun again. We laughed and shared stories, and I learned to trust her completely when she handed me a bottle and said ‘try this’! Almost every Friday I would walk in that store and say ‘Sue, I need a wine to blog about tomorrow’ and we would have a blast. I was crushed to learn this week she was getting transferred from my favorite store and even more saddened cause I thought I had one more Friday.
So this wine blog is about some of Sue’s favorites, which quickly became some of mine. I hope you enjoy the wines as much as Sue and I have.
I didn’t buy this wine the first time Sue recommended it. At $40, it’s a treat wine. But I ended up going back and getting it and it is spectacular. As I stood on my deck last night with glass in one hand, and barbecue tongs in the other, I remembered her lovingly caressing the bottle and telling me I had to try this one. You take your time drinking this wine, enjoying every ounce. Deep dark purple in the glass, when you bring it to your nose, it’s raspberries and plums, spices like cinnamon and clove and nutmeg. I remember thinking, wow, that’s a lot of complex aromas. With this wine, the last mouthful was as flavorful as the first. All those flavors you detected on the nose are there, plus toasty oak. But the lingering finish was what stood out for me. This wine stayed in your mouth a very long time.
Both Sue and I love the old vine Zinfandels, and big bold wines. She wasn’t long passing this one to me when it came in. I’ll be short on this one, because I wrote about it last week. Deep dark fruits, toasted oak, spices and a hint of cigar. Another big wine in the glass.
Sue was the person who introduced me to the Bluenose selection of wines and told me about the winemaker with roots in Nova Scotia. This award winning winemaker, Paul Brasset, makes a mighty fine Zinfandel.
One of the new white wines Sue introduced me to is awesome with spicy food. I had this with Asian food and also Indian food, and love – love – love it.
This beauty, Stag’s leap Viognier, is great with turkey. I had not tried the Viognier wine before I met Sue, and I love its crisp vitality and flavors of white peach and a balanced acidity. And now its my favorite for turkey and roast chicken.
I do love a good smoky Merlot with grilled pork or pork Tenderloin and this is one of my new favorites. When I asked her about a smoky Merlot, this is the one. Flavors of plum, licorice and chocolate combine to make a great Merlot that will go with many grilled foods.
I had tried one South African Pinotage and found it a little over-powering on the Mocha and coffee taste. Sue quickly put this one in my hand. I was hesitant, but I tried it, and have had it several times since. To me, it is the epitome. Not over-powering, but subtle hints of all the flavors of a South African Pinotage, mocha, chocolate and oak.
And last but not least, one of my and Sue’s favorites – Rhiannon.
Sue had this opened when I went in one Friday and when I tried it, instantly loved it. Flavors of fresh fruit and fun just burst in my mouth and the lingering finish will remind you why you like the wine so much. I liked it so much I went back and bought a full case. A blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Barberra, Sue hit it out of the ballpark when she recommended this wine.
Well that’s it for this week. I know this blog has been very personal in many ways but I also hope you got some great ideas for wines. Winston Churchill said ‘Too improve is to change – to be perfect is to change often”. Change is a good thing, it’s just not always an easy thing. This week my favorite store lost Sue, Mark & Pietra, but introduced Sheila, Kim and the new Retail Product Specialist Rayell Swan. I am looking forward to the new fun wine journey we will take together. I’m sure Rick, Brenda and Heather will have the new ones trained in making customers family before long.