Spooktacular Wines Just In Time For Halloween


Halloween is coming up and I thought I would have a little fun this week matching appropriate wines for the special occasion.

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Here’s a must have…. the Curious Beasts California Red Blend… the picture on the left is the unique goth like packaging it comes in, and the picture on the right is the bottle inside.  But what’s inside the bottle is where the real enjoyment comes.  Fresh and fruity, rich and dark, with spicy dark plum flavors and hints of chocolate.  What’s not to love.  The packaging itself will be a conversation starter at the Halloween party.

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What’s Halloween without a good ghost?  And this is one of the best tasting ghosts you’re going to find.  The Ghost Pines Merlot on the left was a Christmas gift from my friend Maureen, and I loved it.  What I loved about this Merlot was its great structure and luscious fruitiness.    I mean, sometimes you have to love a good lush.  Both French and American oak is used so it has that humidor aroma mixed with dark black cherries.  A delicious combination.  The Chardonnay on the left is a beauty.  I do love a rich California Chardonnay and this one has undergone the ‘sur lies aging’  and malolactic fermentation, which is the process of removing the harsh malo acids and bringing out the creamy lactic acids.   Both of these processes make for a rich full-bodied flavorful Chardonnay.

Hat Trick Red

If ‘Trick or Treat’ is the question, then Trick should be the answer.  This Hat Trick Red Blend is made right here in Canada in the Niagara region of Ontario.  Reasonably priced under $15 and boasts cherry and blackberry flavors with a touch of pepper to finish.

Apothic Dark

Fans of Apothic wine will be thrilled to discover that they have released an ‘Apothic Dark’ just in time for Halloween.  It’s in stores now.  I have to say I like this one a lot more than the Apothic Red.  It’s not as sweet, and it’s dark.  You cannot see through the glass.  This is a deep dark wine with smoky berry flavors, and I know will be a big hit with the many Apothic Red fans out there, and based on the tasting station at my favorite NSLC store, a big hit with people who weren’t fans of the first one.

Devil label

Another devilishly good wine for the upcoming holiday is the Casillero del Diablo Devil’s Collection.  This little devil is very reasonably priced at under $17 and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Syrah.  The Devil’s Collection packs a punch of flavor with great structure and a spicy finish.  Love this wine, and a great BBQ wine under $20.

19 Crimes

And last but not least there is the 19 Crimes family of wines.  This line of wines has an interesting story.  From the 19 Crimes website, I quote:

“Felons, running roughshod over London town, were menacing good people, wreaking havoc and, caught by the scores, clogging every jail in the kingdom. A civic dilemma of colossal proportions.  Meanwhile, two oceans away, a newly claimed and virgin continent was in dire need of subjects to bring civilization to bear. Yet the voyage was endless and brutal, the rewards meager to nil.

The savagely elegant solution: Punishment by Transportation. 

A list of 19 Crimes was drawn. Conviction meant a torturous journey to an unknown and unforgiving land.

Australia, thus, was born.”

This is how this dark brooding delicious wine was started.  And a criminal’s picture is on every label.  How very macabre for Halloween.

Well, that’s it for me….

Had to share this picture on Halloween, and hopefully a smile this week

Grumpy Halloween

Have a safe Halloween, and till next week Cheers





Enjoying New Wines Internationally

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On Saturday October 4th, my sister and I jetted off to Aruba.  We try to get together every year for a week or 10 days, and some of our excursions have included Hawaii, Florida and Turks and Caicos.  A great chance for two sisters who don’t live in the same city or the same province,  to catch up.   We had the best vacation ever.   Aruba is clean, and gorgeous with friendly people, great food and good wine.

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To start our vacation we paid the extra money and upgraded to first class.  Ahh, first class on a plane is so civilized.  First of all there’s a menu.  And yes, the wine comes in glass.  My international wine tasting began on the plane.  The wine I am enjoying with my pasta, is the Paso a Paso Tempranillo from Spain.

Paso a Paso

I really enjoyed this wine, and its gorgeous flavors of blackberries and plums.  There is some oak, but the French oak barrels are 2 to 3 years old and the oak is not overpowering.  It was dry with a really good tannic structure.  I had more than one glass.

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Aruba was breathtakingly beautiful and clean and we felt very safe.  It was one of my all time favorite destinations and my sister found it to be one of her best vacations as well.  We stayed at the Occidental Grand and it was pretty.

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The picture on the left was the view from our room, and the picture on the right is the pool area at the resort we stayed at.  The resort was an all inclusive and I have to say I really enjoyed the house wines.  One of the house Reds was Vina Maipo Merlot from Chile.

Vina Maipo

I enjoyed this red with many of my evening meals.  I really enjoyed the wine.  I do like a Merlot and who knew Chile was producing such tasty ones.  I love many Chilean wines and this one just got added to the list.  I honestly have no idea what a bottle of this wine would cost.  Here’s what Natalie Maclean had to say about this wine when she did the review.

“Aromatic Merlot with tons of red fruit, spice box and blackberry aromas. Dry with lots of fruit and oak but in perfect balance as both elements are strong enough to completely complement each other. Medium-bodied with a substantial fruit/oak finish. My note: Loaded with blackberry goodness, blackcurrant and peppered plums. Absolutely terrific!”

Vina Chardonnay  Vina Sauvignon Blanc

Vina Maipo also provided the house white wines.  While I was there I enjoyed the Vina Maipo Chardonnay as well as the Vina Maipo Sauvignon Blanc.  I enjoyed the Chardonnay with a Honey Mustard Chicken Salad and it was delicious.

Honey Mustard chicken salad

The tropical fruits of the wine with its pineapple and toasted oak flavors complimented the slightly spicy honey mustard dressing that they poured over the salad and chicken breast slices.  A smooth buttery texture with crisp acidity has me recommending this Chardonnay.  The Sauvignon Blanc has the gooseberry and citrus notes that complimented my appetizer salad one evening, in which I had an olive oil and balsamic dressing.  I love Sauvignon Blanc with salad.

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We ate off the resort as well, and the wine I am holding in my hand is the Blackstone Merlot from California.  One of my favorite things to do while travelling is try different wines that I can’t buy here in Nova Scotia.  The Blackstone winery calls this ‘America’s Favorite Merlot’ and it was very good.  Merlot, as I have said in the past, took a bit of a s*!t-kicking after the movie ‘Sideways’ came out.. (even though I still love Paul Giamatti).  Merlot is making a comeback.  This luscious fruity goes-with-so much wine deserves a place on the dinner table.  This one was rich, with gorgeous plum flavors and notes of toasted vanilla.  Yum.

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Well that’s it for this week.  Not sure where my sister and I are escaping to next year, but guaranteed it will be fun.  If you see her and she starts to tell you a story where I fell in the pool, or my chair went flying ass backwards with me in it….. don’t believe it!

Till next week Cheers



Port of Wines Festival

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I had the pleasure of attending the annual Port of Wines Festival this past weekend with my good friend Rayell Swan.   What a fantastic festival, and boy, did I taste some fantastic wines.  Too many to write about in one blog, this may take a couple of weeks.  So many great wines, so little time.

Iphone pictures 388 Mettler Label

This is the 2011 Mettler Old Vines Zinfandel, which won best Zinfandel at the show.  Regular readers of this blog know how much I love Zinfandel, and I’m always willing to try a new one.  So much so that I bought this one at the show before trying it.  I did end up sampling the wine, which comes from a 50-year old vineyard located in the ‘epicenter’ of Lodi’s Old Vine Zinfandel district.  Lots of flavor in this one.  Jammy fruits, vanilla and a hint of mocha.  It does have 15.4% alcohol, tread lightly.

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This is my friend Jeff Pinhey, a great lover of wine here in the Halifax region.  And the bottle of wine he is holding is the 2011 Gerard Bertrand Corbieres.  This wine, in my opinion, was the best wine at the show under $20.  The Wine Advocate gave it 90 Points for a good reason, it’s a great wine at a great price point.  It’s a beautiful blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre from the Languedoc-Roussillon area of France, with lots of complex layers  Full bodied, great structure,  spicy and a great wine to go with everything from wild game to pizza to your favorite burger.

Lucente label

Although France was the featured country in this year’s Port of Wines, the festival features wines from all countries.  From Italy, this was one of my favorites.  The 2011 Lucente from Luce vineyards in Tuscanny is a blend of Merlot (75%) and Sangiovese (25%) and they got it right with the blend.  .  Lots of juicy plum flavors, some black cherry, and spice come together for a velvety wine with lots of good structure.  Oh, how this would go so well with pork, as well as charcuterie plates, or even hamburgers.   I’ve always wanted to visit Tuscanny, this makes me want to go there even more!  Great wine.

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And probably the most famous wine at the show comes from the most famous couple in the world.  The 2013 Jolie-Pitt & Perrin Miraval Cotes de Provence Rose AC.   The Miraval bottling, made in a partnership with the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel, is a blend of red grapes Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah and white grape Rolle (aka Vermentino).   And it was very very good.  Not just another celebrity wine, this one has won the critics over.  It was dry in a good way, clean and had lovely flavors of strawberry with floral notes.

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The reason I am putting this week’s wine blog out early is that tomorrow morning I am running away!  Only for a week though.  Every year my sister and I run away some where together and this year we picked Aruba.  We are gone for 8 days and its a great chance to catch up with the sister who still lives in Newfoundland.   The above picture was taken when we were in Pearl Harbour in Hawaii.

I’m sure there will be a story…..  there always is!

Till I return, Cheers.