Best of 2013

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.



Twas The Week Before Christmas

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.

Mrs. Claus’ Favorite Wines Part II

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!

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.
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.