It’s BBQ Season!


I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard this week saying they are starting the BBQ for the first time.  I don’t know about you, but I am an all-year round seasoned BBQ’er!  Here is my latest BBQ, put together by my 2 nephews and my nephew’s fiancée.   My chrome baby is not only used to grill meat, but veggies, wings, sweet potato… you name it, and I can cook it on a BBQ.  And my favorite way to BBQ is with a glass of wine and some great tunes.

BBQ & Wine

I could write a year’s worth of blogs on great wines that go with BBQ food, and have touched on the subject before.  The reason I am bringing it up again is that I have had some new wines lately, and they are perfect for BBQ season.

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Here’s a fantastic wine that I have tried recently.  The Alfredo Second Pass Shiraz.  I can honestly say this is the first time I have tried a ‘second pass’ Shiraz, to the best of my knowledge anyway.  Second pass is very similar to Ripasso, and Ripasso means ‘repassed’.  It is Valipocella grapes that have been passed through Amarone must (skins, seeds and some juice) for flavor.  It helps add to the body of the wine.  The second pass is pretty much the same thing, this time with a Shiraz grape.  The wine has been ‘passed’ through pomace to beef up the body of the wine and add to the complex flavors.  I’ve never had one before, but I have to say I liked it. Dark and rich, with cherry flavors, a hint of smoke and vanilla and chocolate notes.  At $16.99, this one was a winner – so much so I bought two more bottles yesterday.  Second Pass Shiraz and any BBQ meat – a great match.

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This is another great wine for a great price.  Luccarelli Negroamaro from the Puglia region of Italy.  Negroamaro is a grape variety native to southern Italy, and although Amaro means bitter in Italian, there is nothing bitter about this beautiful wine.  This wine comes in under $15, and you will love it.  Gorgeous plum and cherry fruits, with spice and vanilla.  It’s easy to drink and you won’t feel guilty for opening up a bottle any day of the week.  Begs to be paired with BBQ ribs.

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Let’s leave Italy and head to France, and more specifically the Cotes du Rhone region.  The Cotes du Rhone is known for spectacular Syrah wines, and this little gem comes in under $20.  Medium bodied, raspberry and plum flavors, with notes of tobacco and spice.  Great for ribs done on the BBQ, or a spectacular pizza wine.

Those all are new wines I have tried lately.  I love experimenting with new wines.  However, I can’t do a wine blog on BBQ season without mentioning some all-time favorites.  And for that we have to head to sunny California and Washington State.

Predator  hot to trot

Nothing goes hand in hand with the barbecue like an Old Vine Zinfandel.  I am confident I have tried every single one at the NSLC and this is my favorite.  From the home of Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi California, Predator comes from vines that are at least 50+ years old.  The fruit from these vines are very concentrated and very complex.  Vanilla and smoke flavors, and even a hint of bacon, makes this my favorite wine for both the grilling and the eating.  The wine on the right, the 14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend is named after the wild Mustang horses that at one time roamed Washington State.  They were smaller, only measuring 14 Hands, and I think it makes for a great name for a vineyard.  The Hot to Trot red blend is predominantly Merlot with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon blended in for complexity and flavor.

BBQ Love

Well that’s it for this week.  I hope you get a chance this weekend to fire up the grill and enjoy one of the wines, or even let me know what your favorite BBQ wine is.  I’m all for trying new wines.

Till next week, Cheers





New Zealand In A Glass

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I recently had the pleasure of attending a Master Wine Class and Trade Show on New Zealand wines.  Wow!  Did you know that New Zealand is now exporting 1 million bottles of wine to the Canadian market?  They started with 27,000 bottles and this year hit 1 Million!  Another Wow. There were some excellent wines that day and I would like to share a few with you.

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At the Master wine class there were 4 very informative winemakers from New Zealand, including the Cheers from our friend Kyle Thompson, from the Saint Clair Family Estate Vineyard.  Let’s start with a Sparkling.

Oyster Bay Cuvee

I swear my friend Rayell is going to have me loving Sparkling wine.  I wasn’t always a fan, and lately I have been trying sparkling wines that I really like, including this one.  This is the Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvee Brut NV.. it comes in at around the $25 mark and is a great aperitif wine.  Beautiful citrus blossom flavors and a nice finish.  Bring out the appetizers and this wine, and you’ll be a star.

Wither Hills Pinot Gris

Another great white wine from that day was the Wither Hills Pinot Gris.  This wine is from the Marlborough region, and the region is known for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.  But they make also make one of the nicest Pinot Gris wines I have had in a while.  Pinot Gris is a white wine, and the word ‘gris’ means grey.  It’s a clone of Pinot Noir and the grapes have a blue-grey hue, and that is where it gets its name.  The clone of Pinot Gris grown in Italy is Pinot Grigio.  So they are related, but not the same.  This beauty was an off-dry style and had gorgeous pear and honeysuckle flavors.  It had great acidity and the time spent in French oak barriques gave it a great texture.

Ara single estate

You can’t visit New Zealand without talking Sauvignon Blanc.  The Ara Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc we had was crisp and fresh and had gorgeous grapefruit flavors and a great finish.  I found this particular wine to be extremely vibrant on the palate.

Pegasus Bay Pinot

Another Pinot Noir I had that day that I really enjoyed was the Pegasus Bay 2012 Pinot Noir.  From the Waipara Valley region, this had a beautiful strawberry nose and intense fruit flavors on the palate.  Beautiful character in this wine and Pinot Noir is such a food friendly wine, it goes with practically everything.

Elephant Hill Syrah

And last but not least, a very pleasant surprise.  When a person thinks of Syrah, New Zealand may not be the first place that comes to mind.  This Elephant Hill 2013 Syrah was a real bright spot for me.  It was elegant, bright and supple.  Lots of spice along with the fruit and black pepper was very evident for me.  I had never tried a wine from Elephant Hill before and I loved it.  Treat yourself to this wine the next time you have a BBQ, I think you will love it as much as I do.

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Discover something new this weekend in your glass and visit the New Zealand section of your favorite wine store.

Till next week, Cheers





Saint Clair Family Estate Winery – New Zealand Pioneers

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Kyle Thompson, Red Winemaker from the Saint Clair Family Estate Winery in the Marlborough region of New Zealand.  The mission of this winery is to create world-class wines that exceed their customers’ every expectation.  If you haven’t had a Saint Clair wine yet, I encourage you to give one a try.  The COO of the Radio Station I work for introduced me to Saint Clair wines a couple of years ago, and now they are a staple in my wine rack.

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One of the most interesting things I heard Kyle say is that he uses neutral yeast because he likes to see wine inherit the flavor from the soil, not the yeast.  Let’s start with one of my favorites…. Pinot Noir..Kyle says the Pinot Noir vines in New Zealand are getting older and they are getting better at making Pinot Noir.   Another really interesting note he told us was that picking day was key when making Pinot Noir.

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This is the 2011 Premium Pinot Noir.  It’s an intense flavorful Pinot Noir, with lots of complexity and I loved the finish.  I love it when a wine stays on the palate.  Gorgeous flavors of strawberry with  hints of blueberry and spice.  People often ask me, in my opinion, what is the most versatile red wine for food?  And I always tell them Pinot Noir.

Pioneer Block 5

The Pioneer Block line of Pinot Noir wines are special.  Each number is a different parcel of land, and the Pioneer wines are numbered by block, and known for the individual terroir characteristics from each specialized site.  The Pioneer Block I tasted this week was #5.  The grapes grown in this block are in the Omaka Valley, which has warm days and cool nights, which helps contribute to the intensity of the berries.  This wine was extremely aromatic, had great structure, with intense fruit driven flavors and some spice and oak flavors.

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This was my first time tasting the Saint Clair Riesling and we had the 2011 vintage.  Light bodied and fresh, I loved the grapefruit flavors and beautiful acidity.  It had good texture and loving Riesling the way I do, I couldn’t wait to have this wine with Szechuan food.

Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc

And last, but certainly not least, you cannot do a New Zealand wine tasting without having a Sauvignon Blanc.  You read other wine blogs and wine reviews on this wine and one thing is clear.  Saint Clair is making a Sauvignon Blanc that stands out above the rest.  What I loved most about the  Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc was that it was not so much gooseberry and asparagus, but more tropical fruit and passion fruit.  Summer is almost here, and here’s the wine for your favorite Summer Salad.

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As you can see from the above picture, Rayell, Heather and myself had a grand time visiting with Kyle Thompson.  Next week I’m going to tell you about the ‘New Zealand In A Glass’ show, we had the pleasure of tasting some great wines there as well.  But in the meantime, I promised to tell you about the 2014 vintage of Nova 7 by Benjamin Bridge

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The 2014 vintage is my favorite to date.  Even my sister, who has never liked wine in the past, had 2 glasses and loved this wine.

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Effervescent,  crisp with a lively palate, gorgeous flavors of grapefruit and orange blossom, and a hint of sweetness.  This wine is the perfect expression of Nova Scotia terroir and is so food friendly, we enjoyed it on Mother’s Day with our Chinese food. There are a ton of food pairings for this beauty, and if you haven’t tried the 2014 vintage yet, pick up a bottle.  It’s somewhat different from the vintages in previous years, and absolutely delicious.

Till next week, Cheers



Thank God It’s Fermented


I saw this yesterday and chuckled.  TGIF can be every day when the ‘f’ stands for fermented.  Don’t get me wrong, I was also grateful it was Friday.  So in honor of TGIF – Thank God It’s Fermented, here are a couple of new wines I have tried in the past few weeks.

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A couple of fine Italian wines top the list and we will start with the Illuminati Riparosso Mont D’Abruzzo DOC from the region of Montelpulciano.  It’s a gorgeous deep cherry color with cherry and plum flavors, some spice and oak flavors.  A medium to full-bodied wine and not heavy.  This wine was easy to drink and priced at about $16, this is a wine to enjoy any night of the week.

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Another Italian beauty I have discovered in the last couple of weeks is the Moi Primitivo Puglia. (pronounced Pool-ya!)    Primitivo is the close 1st cousin of Zinfandel and regular readers know how much I love Zinfandel (and Primitivo).  This wine is 100% Primitivo from the Puglia region of Italy and has all those delicious plum jammy flavors, spices, and notes of licorice.  Now that we are into BBQ season, this is a great BBQ wine, and priced at under $15, you’ll be looking for a reason to kick start the BBQ.

Red Rock

Speaking of great BBQ wines, this Red Rock Winemaker’s Blend from California contains 3 grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah.  All 3 grapes on their own make for great BBQ wines, but put them together the way Red Rock did and it’s damn near close to perfection.  The grapes came from 2 regions in California – San Luis Obispo & Sonoma County, so you can rest assured you’re getting quality grapes.  Dark rich fruits, a hint of vanilla from the oak aging and some spice.  I really enjoyed this wine and love the fact it is under $20.


Here’s another great BBQ wine… as if you needed more.  This wine, called Confuzion, is anything but.  From Argentina, it’s a blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Great structure in a full-bodied wine that will compliment any piece of beef you are throwing on the grill.  Delicious and another great steal at just $16.99 a bottle.  I love finding good wines at great prices, and this is one of them.

Well, that’s it for this week.  Till next week, please drink responsibly and if you are imbibing, take a cab or stay home.  Please don’t get behind the wheel.

** Next week I’m going to tell you about the 2014 vintage of Benjamin Bridge’s Nova 7, by far my favorite vintage yet.  Stay tuned



Mother’s Day Wine Suggestions

Next Sunday, May 10 is Mother’s Day.  Who doesn’t have a soft spot for their mom.  I definitely do!  She just turned 80 recently and looks great.

Mom #1

This was us walking at Christmas time, days before her 80th birthday.  She’s very active.  And she loves wine.   Like Mother, like Daughter.  Chardonnay is her wine of choice.

J Lohr Riesling

This is one of her favorites.  And I have to admit I love it too.  J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay out of California.  We were sitting around playing cards one evening, and my other sister was there.  She doesn’t drink wine, and Mom and I were enjoying a glass of this Chardonnay.  And my sister says ‘I smell apples, green apples’.  The grapes for this wine is grown on loam soils with underlays of “riverstones”, which is where the name comes from.  Green apples, a citrus note and gorgeous vanilla flavors from the 6 to 10 months it spends aging in oak.

Nova 7

Another white wine my Mom loves is Nova 7 from Benjamin Bridge right here in Nova Scotia.  This is a real treat for my Mom because it’s not available for sale where she lives, so she only gets to enjoy it when she comes to visit me.  This is our Sunday afternoon sitting on the patio, loving every ounce of Summer wine.  Nova 7 is a wonderful expression of the province I currently call home, Nova Scotia.  It is crisp and refreshing, elegant and food friendly all mixed into one.  I love Nova 7, and I always have a bottle of it in my wine rack.   And no matter what is on the menu for the Mother’s Day meal, chances are Nova 7 will pair beautifully.

Mom #2

Mom and Dad are always smiling.  Another great picture from when they came visiting last Summer.  If your Mom is a red wine drinker, well I have a few suggestions  for you.

Pio Cesare Barolo

Here’s another beauty from the wine show I attended a little over a week ago.  The Pio Cesare Barolo has grapes grown from 5 different locations in Piedmont.  This is another favorite from that wonderful Italian show.  Made 100% from the flavorful Nebbiolo grape, this very dry wine with its great structure and dried fruit flavors is a must if you are serving lamb on Mother’s Day.

My new wine of the week this week…. (hint – something a little different)

Zin Cab

A Zinfandel Cabernet blend.  What?  ( I know… I said the same thing)  We have a few independent wine stores in Halifax, and I love visiting them.  (Sorry Rayell)  And this was one of my finds.  And it was good.  You don’t hear a lot about wines from southern Italy but this one from Puglia was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and some Pinot Gris.  (yes, that’s a white grape).   It will probably come as no surprise when I tell you it has a deep rich color.  Zinfandel and Cabernet will do that to a wine.  This was full-bodied and velvety.  Coming in at $16.99 this is a great BBQ wine, no matter what night of the week.

Me and Tigger

So to all the Mother’s out there, whether you have 2 legged babies or like myself, 4-legged babies, have a great day.  As a daughter, I can’t express my gratitude enough to my wonderful Mom.

Till next week, Cheers