Birthday Wine

Birthday wine

I had a birthday last week, and when you get to my age, you don’t talk about them a lot.  You do, however, talk about some of the great wine you received as gifts.  A very big thank you to my family and friends, who know me so well.  I am not hard to shop for

Wine shop for

Unfortunately for my waistline, the birthday celebrations lasted 4 nights.  It was great though!  On the night of the actual birthday, I had this Red Blend from my friend Judy.


Deep and dark, this red blend is also silky smooth.  It is 46% Zinfandel, 44% Syrah and 10% Petite Sirah, which makes it rich and juicy with a little spice added in.  A fantastic BBQ wine, it was aged 16 months in French oak, so it would go with any meat dish.


Owned by the same people who make this beauty, the Cleaver and Renwood Winerys are owned by international vintner, Alejandro P. Bulgheroni,  a family-owned collection of wine estates from around the world.  In addition to Renwood Winery in Amador County, The Cleaver from California, Bodega Vistalba, Tomero and Bodega Argento in Argentina, and Bodega Garzón in Uruguay, they also have properties in France, Italy, and other distinguished wine regions.  They are putting out some fantastic wines.

The next night my friend took me to one of my favorite restaurants in Halifax, the Bicycle Thief.  I enjoyed the spectacular beef tenderloin there, and with the juicy steak, we had a juicy wine.

7 Deadly Zinbs

The 7 Deadly Zins was a spectacular match with my beef tenderloin and my friend’s lamb.  The big bold juicy wine with hickory smoke flavors complimented both dishes very well.

Creme Brule

I’m not much of a cake person myself, so for dessert I chose a creme brulee.  I love creme brulee, and in my opinion, the perfect wine match is one of my favorite Canadian dessert wines.


The Borealis from Benjamin Bridge is a wonderful dessert wine, reminding me of a Royal Tokaji.  This wine is made from the Vidal grape here in Nova Scotia, and is the perfect compliment to your favorite sweet dessert.  Picked at the perfect time, when the temperatures hits -10-degrees outside, which is very common here in Eastern Canada.  (Yes, that was not a typo, I said minus 10 degrees)  Gorgeous flavors of apricots and peaches make for one of my favorite dessert wines.  I actually didn’t really appreciate dessert wines until I started taking my Sommelier courses.

If you can’t find this local favorite in your area, try this dessert wine…

Royal tokaji

The Royal Tokaji is heaven in a glass, and is just a fantastic dessert wine.  I actually had this wine on one of my final tasting exams, while doing one of my courses.   It is made in Hungary and the process is very labor intensive, so I tend to be very grateful with every sip.  An amber/gold color and rich apricots and honey on the palate.  I love this wine.

And my wine of the week


A great wine at a great value.  The Carmen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon from 2012. Chile is putting out some great Cabernet Sauvignon wines and this one is no exception.  I loved the $20 price tag, but loved the wine in the bottle even more.  Given a 91 Point rating by Wine Spectator, this publication also calls it a ‘smart buy’ and featured it as the wine of the week.  Rich and well-spiced with notes of black pepper, here is another great steak wine.

Wine Birthday

Well that’s it for me for this week, I survived another birthday.

Till next week, Cheers


I’m A Fool For the Cool

Summer Lovin'

Holy humidity…it’s been hot here!   I know much of Canada has been having a heat wave with temperatures reaching  40° .  I know our friends from places like Arizona and Spain are having a bit of chuckle, but those of us in Canada are not used to that.   Two weeks ago it was 12° and now we’re hitting 32° with humidity.  Only in Canada


Not sure how you’re chilling out this Summer, but I’m trying to spend as much time as possible either in the water or on the water.  With the help of some cool refreshments, as the title suggests, I’m a fool for the cool, and I love taking the opportunity to try new wines this time of year.

Schug Chardonnay

I have tried a new Chardonnay recently and I loved it.  The Schug Chardonnay from the U.S.A. is an awesome wine to help cool down with.  Glorious flavors of pears and tropical fruits make this a Summer favorite.  You’ve probably heard me talk about its sister wine – the Schug Pinot Noir.

– Schug Pinot

I have written about this fantastic wine before.  This smoky Pinot Noir is at the top of my favorites list.

This is a picture of the family that owns and runs the Schug Carneros Estate Winery led by Walter and Gertrud Schug, who’s parents both ran vineyards in Germany.  They are putting out spectacular wines, and if you haven’t already tried them, put them on your wine bucket list.


Another favorite of mine to chill off during this Summer is this wine….

Avondale Tidal bay

I have written before about Tidal Bay wines from Nova Scotia and I do the love the crisp tropical flavors.  I would like to take a moment to say Congratulations to Avondale Sky winery for recently winning the Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor’s Award for its 2015 Tidal Bay Blend.  This light crisp wine goes with everything Summer, and has gorgeous grapefruit and gooseberry flavors.  Seafood, appetizers, vegetable dishes – this is an extremely versatile wine and a big heartfelt Congratulations going out to the fine people at Avondale Sky winery.

And my wine of the week….


This gorgeous Grenache Syrah blend from France was sooooooo good!  The Gabriel Meffre Laurus Rouge wine from the Gigondas region.  Gigondas is in the Southern Rhone region of France and did you know no white wines can carry the designation of AOC Gigondas.  Only reds allowed in this region, although it does offer a  Rose wine.  This wine is considered the baby brother of Chateauneuf du Pape and it is so very rich and glorious.  Earthy with notes of black pepper, this beauty is about $21 a bottle, and worth every penny.

Summer wine

I hope you are enjoying the Summer, till next week Cheers



The Ultimate BBQ Wine-off

Last weekend the temperature was around the  12°  mark, and this weekend the humidex is at  37° .   Welcome to Summer in Canada.  No matter what the temperature says outside, we love BBQ.  And this coming Tuesday the Atlantic Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers is holding a wine tasting called The Ultimate BBQ Wine Off!

In one corner it’s the full-bodied spicy Shiraz….in the other corner medium to full-bodied Zinfandel with its juicy jammy flavors of smoky bacon!   Which one is going to come out the victor!  So before I go on Tuesday, I thought I would hold  a little Wine-off of my own…. with your help of course.   I am asking all my readers to try either Zinfandel or Shiraz or Syrah with their barbeque this weekend,  and leave a comment as to which one was your favourite!

Shiraz Syrah

The first question everyone is going to ask me is it Shiraz or Syrah?  Yes, it’s the same grape.  Cross my heart!  There are so many theories as to why some countries call it Syrah and some call it Shiraz, I will fill you in on a couple.  I’ve read that Syrah is used by ‘old world’ countries and Shiraz by ‘new-world countries’.  However, the U.S.A. is considered a new-world country and some wine-makers in the States call it Syrah.  I’ve also heard that Syrah, which originates from the Rhone region in southeastern France, was being checked out by a group of Australian wine-makers.  The Australian wine-makers had too much to drink and that Shiraz started as a drunken mispronunciation of the name Syrah.  I love that story, but I don’t know for sure if its true.  Others say Shiraz is from the Persion city of the same name where the grape truly originates from.  Not as much as fun to tell as the drunken mispronunciation story.  To be honest, I can’t tell you why there are 2 names for this one grape.  But either way you buy it, they are great wines for the BBQ.

7 Deadly Zinbs002

012   010

I’m going to put this statement out there…. California makes the best Zinfandel in the world.  I have tried it from other countries, including Australia and South Africa.  Not many countries, other than Italy making Primitivo, make a Zinfandel.  So the 4 beauties I have featured are all from California.  Regular readers of this blog know that I love Zinfandel, and I personally feel it is the ultimate BBQ wine. The juiciness and hints of smoky spices make it the ultimate for me.  Especially for things like ribs.   However….


If I’m grilling a steak, a Zinfandel is not my first wine of choice.  I would probably pick the Shiraz.  I also like Cabernet Sauvignon with steak, but in the Wine-off, I’m going to go with the Shiraz.  I love lots of fresh black pepper on my steak, and I love how the spiciness of the Shiraz pairs well with the meat and the pepper.

Wolf Blass ShirazJimmy Shiraz bottle

Elephant Hill Syrah Tellus

Here are a couple of my favorites.  The top 2 wines are Shiraz – Wolf Blass Grey Label from Australia, one of my favorite steak wines  and a favourite of mine overall .  And the other, also from Australia, is the Jimmy Shiraz, a great wine that comes in under $20.  The bottom 2 are Syrah wines.  The Elephant Hill Syrah is fabulous, from New Zealand, and perfect for beef or lamb done on the grill.  Next to it is the Falesco Tellus Syrah from Italy.  Nice and dry with some licorice flavors and again that spice, that Syrah is so well known for… You’ll love the price tag too.

And my wine of the week…


Is a new Syrah that I have tried recently, and this one of from the Languedoc region of France.  The Chateau Jau Jaja de Jau Syrah is a beautiful wine priced at under $19.  The funny thing about this wine is that you sound drunk when you ask for it in the liquor store.  LOL.. but its worth any embarrassment.  And I like the way the name rhymes.  It has beautiful black cherry and herb flavors and it’s a real conversational piece.   It’s medium-bodied with black pepper notes so it not only goes with BBQ food, it also goes with your favorite comfort food.

It’s hot out there, but it’s never too hot to drink wine.

Till next week, Cheers


Chillin’ With Wine This Summer!

Wine bad weather

And I do mean Chillin’ literally! Although the weather outside is a little frightful for July, registering at a chilly 12 degrees today, July 9th.   However, there’s no reason your wineglass should have to be empty.


Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favourite summer wines.  It goes with some of my favourite summer foods.  Salads, aappetizers, veggies –  this is my go to wine.   And one of my favourites is the Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.  This also brings back some great memories for me.   When I started my quest to become a Sommelier The very first course I took was through the International Sommelier  Guild with Andrew Facey n St. John’s Newfounfland.  And as part of the final exam there was a blind taste test,  and this was the wine.  And I remember being one of the few that identified it during the exam, and I identified it because I loved it so much.   Crisp refreshing citrus notes with hints of grass and vegetal green pepper notes. Great summer wine.


Here’s a staple in my wine rack lately.   This is not only a great wine it’s a great value.  $17.99 here  but it tastes like a much more expensive wine.  This spicy Tempranillo has been aged 10 years in the cellars  before being released.   One word on the label of a Spanish Rioja, will tell you how long it has been aged.  Crianza  has to be aged for three years before release, Reserva has to be aged 5 years before release and Gran Reserva has to be aged a minimum of 7 years.   This is a great example of Gran Reserva, with gorgeous notes of leather, tobacco and vanilla.  Grilled meats and aged cheeses would pair so well.

And my wine of the week…..


Is another Spanish beauty.  The Ergo Tempranillo from Rioja is from a vineyard recently purchased by E & J Gallo from California.   Over the past few years,  E & J Gallo  has been expanding their portfolio by buying smaller wineries.   Bodegas Martin Codax  has a great reputation for quality wines in this region.     Dark cherry flavours with notes of spice and vanilla make for a great wine.  This particular wine is on sale right now at our local liquor store and at $16.99 a bottle it’s a steal of a deal.

Summer fun 003

Last weekend it was 30° and I was out Sea-Dooing, this weekend it’s  12°    So I guess that means inside chores.

Whatever your plans are for this weekend I hope you enjoy.

Till next week, cheers.



Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada day

This is the Canada Day weekend here where I live, as well as the Independence Day weekend with our friends South of the Border in the United States.  What that means is Hello Long Weekend, and who doesn’t love a long weekend.  It gives you more time to drink more great wine.  And for this Canada Day weekend, I want to salute our Canadian wine makers and take a moment to say thank you for some great wine.

Tidal Bay

Let’s start our Canadian wine journey right here in Nova Scotia.  A friend of mine at work tried Tidal Bay Wednesday night for the first time.  Anthony is mainly a red wine drinker and tried his first Tidal Bay and loved it.  Tidal Bay is specifically made for the terroir of Nova Scotia and was meant to go fabulously with seafood.  However, there is a wide variety of foods this wine pairs well with, for example appetizers and salads.  Although all the Tidal Bay wines I have tried have certain characteristics in common, they all also have very distinct personalities.  Launched in 2012, these wines can be a combination of approved grape varieties, and have a characteristic mine reality.  Tidal Bay wines must also be relatively low in alcohol and no more than 11%.  They are bright and crisp and very reasonably priced.


While here in Nova Scotia I would like to take a moment to talk about one of my favourite dessert wines    Benjamin Bridge vineyards puts out the spectacular wine called Borealis,  named after the northern lights, Aurora Borealis.  This wine is rich and decadent and perfect if you want a little something sweet after a big meal but don’t want the full dessert!

Ice wine

Speaking of dessert wines, let’s head to Ontario.  Another favorite is the  Inniskillin Vidal Ice Wine from  Ontario.  Canada is getting noticed around the world for its incredible ice wines.  It’s Canada…. we have the perfect weather for growing the perfect ice wine grape.  Ice wines are picked at a later date, when the temperature hits around -10 degrees, and the sugars and solids don’t freeze, but the water does.  This leaves behind a very concentrated sweet wine, which in my opinion, I would rather have for dessert than chocolate any day.  It’s like a piece of heaven on the palate with rich apricot, honey and candied citrus notes.  Ontario puts out a fabulous array of wines, and I wanted to mention the ice wines, because I hear a lot of  people say ‘I don’t like sweet wine’.  Well you don’t drink it in a wine glass as such.  You have to think of it as a little piece of dessert, and it tends to get served in a small sherry glass.

Mission Hill Merlot reserveSandhill

British Columbia is putting out spectacular quality wine and I have highlighted two of my favorites here.  The Mission Hill Merlot is a fantastic expression of Merlot wine, juicy with hints of spice on the palate.  It’s interesting and a great BBQ wine… it is after all a long weekend.  And the one on the right is from Sandhill, and wine-maker Howard Soon.  It’s a Cabernet Merlot blend and you won’t be disappointed in this Bordeaux style of blend.  It’s got those wonderful black currant flavors with hints of black pepper and toasty vanilla.  Another great steak wine.

And my wine of the week…

Hidden Bench Pinot

Was a gift from my sister, who went to Ontario last year to see her daughter get married.  Her daughter lives in Beamsville Ontario, which is where this vineyard is located.  And she brought me back a bottle of the Pinot Noir.  The grapes for this particular wine come from 3 estate vineyards in the region and made to very strict standards.  This wine was so elegant and interesting, with beautiful cherry and herb flavors.  I loved the lingering finish, which you don’t always find in a Pinot Noir, but this was so well done.  I loved it, and I’m a bit sad, because you can’t buy it here in Nova Scotia.

Long weekend 2

I’m putting out my wine blog a day early because it is after all Canada day!  I hope all my friends in both Canada and the United States enjoy the long weekend.

Take care, and till next week, Cheers