Birthday Wine – Part 2

Wine Birthday

I had no intention of writing a birthday wine follow up blog, but I was blown away by the amount of people who had read the birthday wine bucket list (I get results through Google Analytics) and by the amount of people who said they were looking forward to seeing what I had on my birthday.   Thank you so much.  Actually the wines I had on my birthday and the days following the birthday, in which I was still celebrating (it’s been a great week), were all brand new to me, and they were all fabulous.   So, here we go.


While Prince George received some clothes and a bottle of Pinot Noir from the people in New Zealand, I received Bogle Phantom Old Vine Zinfandel from my friends Rick, Rayell, Heather, Brenda and all the gang at my favorite store on Larry Uteck.   It’s a blend of % Old Vine Zinfandel, 47% Petite Sirah and 2% Old Vine Mourvedre.  What a treat.  Gorgeous flavors of black cherry, tobacco, pepper and spicy oak.  Now although I didn’t actually enjoy this on my birthday, it was a gift that I enjoyed last night.  I had a Friday night BBQ with a stuffed pork chop, some spicy wings, and some vegetables and this was perfect.  So perfect in fact, there is none left in the bottle this morning.   Thank you!

Wine Birthday Me

So this picture was taken on my actual birthday.  My friend Sue took me to lunch in the beautiful neighbourhood called the Hydrostone here in Halifax, which is an English style garden suburb, which was completed in 1920 and one of my favorite places in Halifax.  On the menu that day was Sushi and Chicken Pad Thai on the patio and that gorgeous wine in my hand is a California Riesling.    The J. Lohr Riesling from California to be exact.

J. Lohr Riesling

Regular readers of my blog know that I have written about J. Lohr wines many times before.  They make a spectacular Merlot, a fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon, and my Mom’s favorite Chardonnay.  I had never had the Riesling before, but it was perfect with lunch.  The perfect compliment of sweetness with the spiciness of the Chicken Pad Thai.   Flavors of apricot and peach and even my friend Sue, who said she did not like any sweetness in her wine, loved this one.  And loved it with her spicy food.

Me and Dan  Peller Estates merlot

This is a picture of me and my friend Dan.  The night following my birthday he took me to his restaurant, East Side Mario’s for a delicious supper of pasta, which included wine of course.  Duh!  We had the Feta Brushetta to start, which was amazing.  And for my meal had the Basil Chicken & Fettucine Pomodoro which was so good, and there was enough left over to have for lunch the next day.  With this meal, I had the Peller Estates Merlot.  This Canadian wine from the Niagara region is easy to drink, medium bodied, fruity with flavors of plums and cocoa.

Elaine with the folks

This is a picture of my sister Elaine with our parents.  The parents are coming to visit in a couple of weeks, but on Sunday my sister is throwing me a BBQ to celebrate my birthday.  I’ll be responsible for bringing the wine, cause that’s not her beverage of choice, and since we are grilling burgers, I am having a hard time deciding which wine.  There are so many great red wines that go with BBQ burgers.   Here are some of the choices in my wine rack at the moment.

Manage a trois botle   Etude Cab

The Menage a Trois is a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Now if that doesn’t say BBQ burgers, I don’t know what will.   The wine next to it is the Etude Cabernet Sauvignon, a gift from friends of mind.  However, with the $76 price tag that comes along with that wine, I’m going to save that for a steak.   And no, I wasn’t drunk when I took that picture.. LOL  (laugh out loud!)

Curious Beasts Trapiche Single Vineyard

Here’s a couple of more options.  The Curious Beasts Red wine from California is a Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel blend … again perfect for the BBQ.   But the last wine here may be the winner.  I bought this back in January and it’s a single vineyard Malbec from Cristina y Bibiana and the Trapiche vineyard in Argentina.   Trapiche makes 3 different single vineyard Malbec wines, each sourced from 3 unique grape growers in the region.  Really looking forward to drinking this wine.

Blomidon Avondale  Blomidon    Blomidone domaine

Before I go, a shout-out and big Congratulations on 3 local Nova Scotia wineries who have received the inaugural Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Nova Scotia Wines.  Avondale for its Martock, Blomidon for its Cuvee L’Acadie and Domaine de Grand Pre for its Riesling.   This award is pretty special since it recognizes the exceptional quality of locally sourced and produced wines and honors the dedication and passion of those involved with Nova Scotia’s wine industry.   Yay for Nova Scotia wines.

Till next week Cheers





Birthday Wine Bucket List!

Birthday wine

So I have a birthday coming up this week.  On July 22 – and we’ll just leave out the year.  Some other people celebrating a birthday on the same day as me are

Birthday Danny   Danny Glover

Birthday David   David Spade

Birthday Oscar    Oscar De La Renta

And probably the most famous birthday of all, the son of Prince William and Kate Middleton, this little cutie….

Birthday George   Prince George.

So while the cute little Prince celebrates his first birthday on Tuesday, he’s probably going to be receiving some elaborate gifts fit for a royal.  Me…… I’ll be wishing for … wait for it…

Birthday wine 2


On the one hand, I’m very easy to shop for.  And you don’t have to go far, as there is a Liquor store on every corner.  Easy right?  I’m going to make it easier for you, by giving you my wine bucket list.


Still one of my favorites after all these years.  Francis Ford Coppola Black Diamond Claret is a Cabernet Sauvignon wine based on a Bordeaux style blend, with some Merlot, Malbec, and Petite Verdot.  Gorgeous flavors of blackberry, cassis, and roasted expresso make this the perfect treat wine.   Sadly it’s not available at the NSLC, but we can get it locally at Bishop’s Cellar, and I may just have to treat myself to a bottle as I turn another wiser.


There’s no bucket list of mine that doesn’t include an Old Vine Zinfandel, and this is one of my all time favorites.   As a matter of fact, I was at my favorite NSLC store last night and was telling the manager, my good friend Rick, and Rayell that I have tried every Zinfandel in the store, and this is still my favorite.  The Lodi Appellation in California’s Central Valley is known for Zinfandel wines and this one does not disappoint.   Smoked bacon, chocolate, mocha and cherry flavors combine to make one yummy wine.  Probably my all time favorite BBQ wine still.  But easy to drink all by itself.

Bogle Merlot wine   Pomerol

The wine on the right is a very expensive, very tasty Bordeaux wine.  It’s a smooth, richly delicious Merlot dominant Bordeaux wine from Pomerol St. Emilion in France.  It sells for around $78 a bottle, and I’m thrilled to say I have had the opportunity to enjoy it.  Fabulous wine.    The wine on the left is a $22 bottle of Merlot from Bogle Vineyards, and it is rich delicious as well without the rich price tag.  I was telling my friends Rick and Rayell yesterday how it was one of the best Merlot wines I have ever tasted.   Rich, smooth, juicy with soft round tannins and lots of flavor.

Calera label  Quelat

I do love a Pinot Noir, and the Calera Pinot Noir from California is one of my favorites.  Josh Jenson is the winemaker and owner of the vineyard who set out to make a spectacular Pinot Noir in California.  He search for the perfect place and found it.  And created Calera while creating beautiful Pinot Noir wines.   Smooth and spicy this is probably my favorite Pinot Noir.  I also love the one on the right, and this one comes in under $20.  A beautiful Pinot Noir from Chile, who are putting out fantastic wines at very reasonable prices.  What I love about Pinot Noir?  It is, in my opinion, the food friendliest on the plant.  Goes with everything!


Le Clos Jordanne Chardonnay    Casillero chard label

As most of you know, I drink mostly red wines.  But since I started my quest to become a Sommelier, I have experienced some fantastic white whites, and now find myself drinking about 30% whites.   Bucket list white… this gorgeous Chardonnay from Clos Jordanne right here in Canada.  It’s the Grand Clos, which comes in at about $84 a bottle, but hands down the best white wine I have ever had.  This was my birthday gift to myself last year.  This is heaven in a glass with rich smooth creamy flavors of apple and pear and deliciousness.  (Is that a word… let’s make it a word!)  The wine on the right is another example of Chile stepping up to the plate and hitting it out of the ballpark.  A delicious Chardonnay from Chile with yummy flavors apples and pears and a great wine to go with chicken.

Dreaming Tree Crush  Dada label  Deadbolt Manage a trois botle

The above wines are all under $20 and all delicious.   I know.. I’m making it very easy to shop for me for my birthday.  However, if you’re still a little confused, head to the NLSC store on Larry Uteck Boulevard, and look for these two people, Rick or Rayell.  Just give them my name, and they’ll point you in the right direction.  I know, I’m even chuckling as I’m typing.   Yep, I’m that good of a customer.    FYI, Rayell is blond now.  (This was taken a couple of months ago.)   You can also ask for Heather or Brenda or Kim, fabulous staff at that store.

Rick Martell Rayell

Rick                                             Rayell

So that’s it for me for this week.  I hope you have a fantastic week, enjoy some fine wine, and fine friends.

Till next week, Cheers





Summer Wine

Summer wine

Summer Wine is a song written by Lee Hazlewood, and although it was first recorded by Suzi Jane Hokom and Lee Hazlewood in 1966, it was actually Nancy Sinatra that made it famous when she teamed up with Lee Hazlewood in 1967.   Although that song is about a guy who meets a woman, drinks too much wine, and wakes up hung over and missing his wallet, this writing is just about the wine part.  And I’ve discovered some new ones lately that have to be added to the list of favorites.

Bogle Old Vine Zin

One of my all time favorite wines is an Old Vine Zinfandel.  I just love it, served slightly chilled, and it goes with all things BBQ!  Let me re-phrase that, it goes with everything and nothing.  You can enjoy it with weeknight take out, your favorite eat in meal, or all by itself.  So when my favorite wine store got in another new Old Vine Zinfandel, I was the first person to put my hand up and say ‘I’ll try it’!  It was delicious.  Small concentrated clusters of grapes and old vines between 60 and 80 years old like the ones at Bogle produce a fabulous rich and intense wine.   Lively red cranberry flavors with hints of pepper and juicy ripe fruit – what’s not to love.

Bogle merlot

While we are visiting the Bogle vineyard in California, I had the privilege to have their Merlot.  Now… I love a good Merlot.  I know Merlot took a beating after the movie Sideways came out in 2004, when Paul Giamatti’s character Miles kept repeating “I’m not drinking any f***in’ Merlot.  But don’t let that stop you from enjoying a Merlot.  If you’ve never tried Merlot, let this beauty be the first.  Summer plums and sweet cherries make for a decadent silky smooth wine.  The toasted vanilla at the finish just makes you want another sip.  Pork or pasta – this is your wine.


Love white wine?  Love a crisp refreshing delicious white wine?  Try this beautiful Sauvignon Blanc from Eradus in New Zealand.  This top rated wine has been given 91 points and is under $20.  Gorgeous citrus, bell pepper and herbal notes make this the perfect wine for summer salads.  And here’s another one.

wine and salad

I took this picture last Saturday evening during post tropical storm Arthur.  I had this gorgeous Chardonnay chilling in fridge, and decided to enjoy it with my summer salad and chicken I had barbecued the evening before.  The 490 meters Chardonnay is fresh and fruity which made it a perfect match with this meal.  By the way, I had tried a new dressing.  I make 99% of my own salad dressings and this one was especially tasty.  Take olive oil, white vinegar, some grainy mustard, maple syrup, a dash of honey and pepper.   It’s my new favorite salad dressing for Summer.

Grey carmenere

My friend Anthony told me to try this Carmenere, that it was absolutely fantastic.  And try it I did!  Given 92 points recently, this delicious wine comes in at a delicious price, at just under $25.  Anthony was telling me about the layers and I was pleasantly surprised by how complex and layered this wine was.  Oak on the front, and then layers of dark rich fruit, smoke, and herbal notes.  A nice finish with good tannic structure, this Carmenere also has some Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, so it’s no surprise to me how good it was.   I continue to be awed by the wines coming out of Chile.  They are producing first class wines at affordable prices.

Wine step aside

So that’s it for this week… some new favorites added to the list.  Hope you can find the time this week to give some of them a try.

Till next week, Cheers




Enjoyable wines during a Hurricane!

This morning I had to go out and detach my BBQ from the side of my patio, look at the damage it had done to the siding, and think ‘Is it too early to start drinking wine’?   I am writing this blog on a Saturday morning as Halifax gets walloped by Hurricane Arthur.    So it got me thinking on a play on words, and as we sit through the first Hurricane of the season, here are some wines that may do us well throughout the fall.
From De Bortoli in Australia, comes this lovely Pinot Noir called Windy Peak!  Very fitting for today.  And very fitting if you’re serving chicken or pork this evening.  A great Pinot Noir from Australia with vibrant cherry flavors, soft tannins, and a very well-balanced wine.  It’s light to medium bodied, so it’s perfectly fine to drink as you sit and watch your barbecue go flying across your patio.
Whiz label
From Australia once more comes a more full-bodied wine to enjoy during Hurricane Arthur.  Many of us woke up this morning with things going bang!   Ooops, did I forget to tie down those patio chairs.   Whiz Bang Shiraz from the Barossa Valley in Australia is one of the best around that $20 mark.   Full rich fruit, with hints of vanilla, cherry, spice and some oak.   If you’ve got Pulled Pork in the crock pot today, here’s your wine.  This is one of my favorite BBQ wines, because it will go well with any piece of meat you throw on the grill, but that’s probably not happening today.
  Dreaming Tree Chardonnay Dreaming Tree bottle
Here’s a couple of great wines from the same family.  Dreaming Tree, fitting, as many of us sit here dreaming those trees don’t come crashing down.  These wines are from a vineyard owned by the great musician Dave Matthews.   The Dreaming Tree Chardonnay is a rich full-bodied white wine, buttery and creamy, with notes of citrus and spice.   This Chardonnay is one of the food friendliest wines in my wine rack.  And the red is one of my favorites.  A blend of Merlot and Syrah, it’s full-bodied with gorgeous round flavors of plums, spice and a hint of mocha.  My God this is a great BBQ wine as well, and since tomorrow is calling for sunny skies and temperatures around the mid-20’s, you may want to pick up a bottle.
And last but certainly not least, I couldn’t do a wine blog about Hurricane Arthur without the Arthur Metz Brut Prestige Cremant D’Alsace from France.  A dry sparkling wine to enjoy on this windy day.  It a delightful blend of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris and was named as one of the Top 10 sparkling wines at a competition recently.  Apple and pear flavors with a gorgeous effervescence, sparkling wines go great with a list of foods.  Smoked salmon, all fish and shellfish, and one of the very few wines that go well with popcorn and potato chips.
Wine funny 3
Till next week, stay safe and enjoy some great wine.