Comfort Food – Comforting Wines

Corner brook fall

This is a picture of my home town…. Corner Brook Newfoundland.  A gorgeous place to be in the Autumn of the year.  Last week we welcomed the Fall with some comfort food and great wines.  And I said I would expand on that again this week.  So, as I sit in my sunny den looking at sunshine and temperatures of 24-degrees, it feels more like Summer than Fall.  As a matter of fact, I have used my air conditioners more in September than I did in July.  But regardless of what the thermometer says, it’s still Fall, and I’m going to enjoy the summer-like temperatures while I can, because I know before too long, it will look like this.

Halifax storm

The annual Port of Wines Festival is taking place this weekend in Halifax.  I’m going tonight and I’m really excited, because I was visiting my hometown this time last year and missed this great wine festival.

Port of wines

As you can see, this year they are celebrating France, and the theme is ‘A Place for Every Taste’.   I am so excited to be tasting some new wines from France.  My friend Anthony told me yesterday he stays away from France, because he never knows what it is he is buying.  And I have to admit…. France can be very confusing if you don’t know the signature grapes from each region.  But my goodness, they have been making wine for a very long time and they are so very good at it.  In my next wine blog I’m going to be sharing the new wines I discovered at the show, but for this week I thought I would share some of my favorites in every price range.


In case you missed last week’s blog, this great wine for the great price of $16.99 is a beautiful blend of Grenache, Syrah and Merlot.  It’s a flavorful medium bodied wine that goes great with BBQ ribs, chicken done on the BBQ and although I don’t eat duck, for those of you that do, I understand this wine to be a great match.

Saint Emilion bottle

Here’s a new wine from France that I tried this past week.  Yum.  First of all, I love wines from the Right Bank of Bordeaux.  They are Merlot dominant.  Bordeaux is always a blend, and if from the Left Bank tends to be Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, with Merlot added most times.  Right bank – Merlot dominant and usually some Cab added as well.  Bordeaux produces some of the most expensive wines in the world, but this reasonably priced beauty comes in at $23.99 and packs a flavorful punch.  Plum and vanilla flavors, it has some complexity which will go well with any pasta dish you want to serve.  And when I think comfort food, I think pasta.  Yum

Chateau Famaey

If you love Malbec as much as I do, you’ll love this one.  Know that if you are in the French section, and the red wine is from Cahors, it’s a Malbec.  This beauty from Chateau Famaey is grown on older vines, is shown special care by being handpicked, and is aged for 2 full years in French oak.  This wine has layers and definitely a wine I would decant.  This is a great wine to go with that tasty beef stew you have in the slow cooker or any steak you throw on the grill.


If you’re buying a red wine from the Burgundy region, unless its Beaujolais – which would be labeled as Beaujolais, it’s Pinot Noir!  And Burgundy produces some of my favorite Pinot Noir wines.  However, if you’re picking a white wine, you are buying a Chardonnay.  This Burgundian Chardonnay from Thomas Bachelder is rich and dreamy and the perfect accompaniment for seafood or poultry.  I can’t eat seafood, allergic, so that’s why I’m not great at pairing wines with seafood, except what my training has taught me.  But chicken… let me tell you, I know chicken!  And everything from turkey to roast chicken, to your favorite chicken dish in sauce, this wine will match very well.

Well, that’s it for this week.  Next week will feature all brand new wines, that I’m trying for the first time tonight.

Till then, Cheers




Fall Into Some Great Wines This Month

NS Fall

Well it’s Fall, my most favorite time of the year.  I love the Autumn here in Nova Scotia, with its gorgeous colors and cool crisp temperatures.  I love the great night sleep I get… and I love the comfort food that goes along with this season.  And with great comfort food, comes great wine!  Here are some new ones I ‘ve discovered recently.

Crock beef  Bone Shaker bottle

One of my favorite foods this time of the year is beef done in the crock pot, or slow cooker.  I am not a big beef eater, but I have to say this is my favorite way to have it.  And normally, out comes the Cabernet Sauvignon.  But recently I tried a new Zinfandel called Bone Shaker, and I’m telling you, this wine is big enough to handle the beef.  So many people think Zinfandel as light and fruity or medium bodied at best.  Not all Zinfandel wines are created equal.  This one is big, bold and intense.  There is a little bit of Cabernet Sauvignon added, it gives it some structure.  But this is no wimpy wine.  Fermented in French oak, this baby delivers flavors of blackberry, plums, chocolate, licorice and an oak finish.  Not for the weak of heart.

Pulled pork patiesserie

I make a mean pulled pork sandwich.  I love pulled pork done in the crock pot, especially this time of year.  Found a new wine in the past couple of weeks that will go great with it.  Patiesserie Grenache, Syrah & Merlot blend.  Now if you love GSM, which is normally Grenache Syrah and Mouvedre, like I do, then you will love the combination of Grenache, Syrah and Merlot.  It’s got all the great structure of the Grenache, the spiciness of the Syrah, and the Merlot not only softens the Grenache like Mourvedre, it also adds a plump juiciness and flavor that I immediately fell in love with.  With pull pork, you have the BBQ sauce and the hickory smoke flavoring, so you know what that means, this wine is also a great wine for BBQ ribs or any other BBQ dish.

Lasagna  69335-image_048 Sandhill Pinot Gris

Last weekend I made a full lasagna from scratch.  I know it’s Fall when I make lasagna.  I don’t make it that often, because I live alone, and you can’t help but make a lot of lasagna.  So it’s always a little nerve-wracking when I do make it, but I got to say, it turned out excellent.  I love pairing pasta with wine, because there aren’t too many wines that don’t go well with pasta.  Now, quick rule of thumb.  Pick a wine from the country the food comes from, so Italian pasta, Italian wine…. in either red or white.    I love a Valpolicella with lasagna.   From the Verona area of Italy, this is also the place where Amarone originates from and of course Valpolicella Ripasso.   The Valpolicella Superiore, as pictured here, is more full bodied than your average Valpolicella, which can be a lighter wine.  The reason being Superiore is aged at least one year before being released and the alcohol content is at least 12% .  A Pinot Grigio or a Pinot Gris, as pictured here, would also be a great fit for my white wine loving friends.  This particular Pinot Gris is not made in Italy, it’s made right here in Canada and the Sandhill Winery in British Columbia.  Pinot Gris is a clone of Pinot Grigio, which originates in Italy.  I love the spiciness of a Pinot Gris wine, and Winemaker Howard Soon makes a beautiful one at Sandhill.

Well that’s it for this week.  If you would like any of my recipes from the dishes mentioned in this blog, yes, I cook them all by scratch, by all means contact me.  Next week let’s have more fun with comfort food.  What’s your favorite comfort food?  Let’s have fun matching some wines.

Till next week, Cheers


Road Trip Part 2


Road trip

You remember the 4 fabulous ladies from last week.  We hit the Anapolis Valley in Nova Scotia and visited Blomidon.  And we continued our journey over to Benjamin Bridge Winery


Summer 154  Summer 138

I am a huge fan of wines from Benjamin Bridge Winery, so you can imagine what a treat it was for me to visit the winery on Labor Day and meet winemaker Jean Benoit Deslauriers.  Jean Benoit came to Benjamin Bridge in 2008, releasing the increasing popular Nova 7.    He’s worked with some of the greats, including Raphael Brisbois and Peter Gamble, and it is evident in the quality of wines produced from Benjamin Bridge.

Nova 7

Interesting story I learned while visiting Benjamin Bridge.  When they first released Nova 7, they released 200 cases, and this past vintage they released 11,000 cases.  That’s how much it has grown.   I have had this wine twice in the past week, and on both occasions have introduced new friends to what I call ‘Nova Scotia’s signature wine’.   The first time I enjoyed the wine this past week, it was a hot summer evening and Nova 7 proved to be the perfect patio wine.  The second time, again it was enjoyed immensely,  was at dinner, and it complimented the food perfectly.  The effervescence, hint of sweetness and gorgeous flavors of green apples and mango make it the perfect ‘any occasion wine’.

BB Tidal Bay

While there, we had the opportunity to try their Tidal Bay.   It was so aromatic and weighty in the mouth, with a tinge of residual sweetness.  It was soft on the palate, and very refreshing.  For new readers, Tidal Bay is Nova Scotia’s own appellation and is a reflection of our terroir.  Many of the Nova Scotia wineries put out a Tidal Bay and this is one of my favorites.  A great wine to go with seafood.

BB Brut  2004 BB blanc

One of the biggest treats that day was that we got to taste the 2008 Benjamin Bridge Brut.  It was given an A+ rating, which is the highest rating and only 2000 bottles were released.  Also, we had the 2004 Blanc de Blanc, retailing at $280 a bottle, and it’s completely sold out, so what a treat.  Pure and elegant, this vineyard is producing benchmark bubby wines.


And regular readers of the blog will recognize my favorite.  The Borealis Ice Wine from Benjamin Bridge.  Heaven in a glass.  I feel the cool climates of our region make for perfect conditions for fabulous ice wine, and here’s the proof.   Here’s what head winemaker Jean Benoit had to say on their website about this wine.

“In the glass, a deep golden colour with a subtle orange hue. On the nose, the wine displays a myriad of dried apricot, peach confit and sweet cream. On the palate, the wine is opulent, with notes of honeydew, lemon tart and a hint of caramelized apples. Like its celebrated predecessors from the ’04 and ’07 vintages, this icewine remains surprisingly bright and elegant despite a most decadent personality. Drink now through 2018.” Head Winemaker Jean-Benoit Deslauriers”

Summer 140 Summer 142

A very big thank you to Jean Benoit Deslauriers,and the staff at Benjamin Bridge for a fantastic visit.  I am so very appreciative of your hospitality.

Till next week, Cheers



A Boutique Estate Winery called Blomidon

Summer 100

On Labor Day, I was honored to be invited along with these fabulous ladies from the NSLC (Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation) for an NSLC Appreciation Day at the Blomidon Estate Winery.  Rayell, Meg, Kim and myself had a fabulous day touring and tasting at two wineries.  I will tell you about the other one next week, because this week I want to share the knowledge and great wines we tasted from Blomidon Estate Winery.   Blomidon is located in the beautiful Annapolis Valley near Canning and is about an hour’s drive from Halifax.   The views are breathtaking and the wine is quite good too!

Blomidon view

Blomidon uses 100% Nova Scotia grown grapes in their wines and have recently been honored with the prestigious Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence for it’s Cuvée L’Acadie, 2010.   Now owned by the Ramey family, Blomidon’s chief winemaker is Simon Rafuse, and I was thrilled for the opportunity to listen to him speak about his wines.

Summer 134

Simon joined Blomidon in 2009.  He’s a native Nova Scotian, but has extensive experience in New Zealand and France, just to name drop a few of the impressive places he’s worked and studied.  And now he’s doing impressive things at Blomidon…. not just winning awards, but making award worthy wine.   He also helps out teaching us CAPS students.

Summer 110 Summer 120

Kyle Gallant is the viticulturist at Blomidon and researched ‘Sustainable Nutrient Management Practices in Vineyards’ for his Masters thesis.  His discussion on the nutrients, weather hazards and rots were very interesting as well.   Some of his challenges include phylloxera and downy mildew.

Blomidon Tidal Bay  Summer 129

But let’s get to the wines.  The first one I want to tell you about is the Blomidon Tidal Bay.  Tidal Bay is Nova Scotia’s signature wine reflecting the terroir of our province, and many of the Nova Scotia wineries produce a Tidal Bay… each one a little different than the other.   The Tidal Bay from Blomidon is a blend of L’Acadie Blanc, Seyval Blanc and New York Muscat.  It’s a dryer style, which I really liked.  It was crisp and refreshing with gorgeous citrus notes and a real nice light mouth feel.

Blomidon Brut

This year the 2010 Blomidon Cuvee Brut was not only the winner of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence in Nova Scotia wine, it was also voted “Best Sparkling Wine” at this year’s Atlantic Canada Wine Awards… which I poured for.  And for good reason.  It’s dry and crisp with some lovely pineapple flavors.  A gorgeous wine which deserves every award it receives.

Dar's Pictures 116  Dar's Pictures 117

But my absolute favorite of the day…..the Blomidon Vidal Ice Wine.

Blomidon ice iwne  Summer 126


Rayell and I took many of the CAPS program together.  She is finished though and is now a very accomplished Sommelier.  Both Rayell and I tried this one and both agreed it was heavenly.    That’s the one word that comes to mind when describing this luscious ice wine with it’s rich sweet flavors of honey and apricots.  It had some great acidity as well as a beautiful lingering finish, and I can’t wait to have it again.

Summer 123

It was a great vineyard experience and I have to thank Simon, Kyle and the entire staff at Blomidon for their hospitality.  They even cooked a wonderful BBQ for us!  And a big thank you to Meg, Kim and Rayell for inviting me along.

Next week, I will tell you about our journey to Benjamin Bridge where we will meet winemaker Jean Benoit Deslauriers.

Till next week, Cheers.  And wherever this wine blog may find you, I hope you pick this week to try a local wine.