It’s Festival of Wines Time!

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It’s one of my favorite times of the year – the annual Port of Wines Festival, is now being called the Festival of Wines.  To wine lovers, it’s like Wine Christmas.  And I was very blessed to get a sneak peak this past Wednesday night of some of the wines they are featuring.  Halifax has a brand new Port store downtown and it is spectacular.  A gorgeous layout with an out of this world selection of wine.  This year’s theme for the Festival of Wines is ‘Old World vs New World’ and quite a few spectacular wines are being showcased.


Here’s the first wine I tried that evening.  The Inniskillin Ice Wine from right here in Canada.  Our country is putting out spectacular ice wines, and this is a shining example of the brilliance that is Canadian wine making.   A past vintage of this wine won the Grand Prix d’Honneur at Vinexpo and put Canada on the global wine map, especially the global ice-wine map.  Rich and luscious with fabulous flavors of honey, apricots and citrus notes.  This is a wonderful mouthfeel on the palate, and is an excellent wine to pair with pate, blue cheese, cheesecake or any other dessert.    In my opinion, this is dessert on its own.  One of my favourite things to do after a big meal is to enjoy a little ice-wine,  it satisfies the sweet tooth and is not heavy on the stomach.

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This is the second wine I tried, and I’m also going to use a stock picture, you can get a better view of the label.


The 2000 Chateau Coutet AOC Sauternes was another spectacular treat of the evening.  Sauternes is a sweet wine from the Graves region of Bordeaux France.  Grapes have been affected by ‘noble rot’.  It’s hard to believe something with the name ‘rot’ in the title, can produce something so sweet and delicate.  This was a fabulous wine with gorgeous flavors of vanilla and marmalade.  It’s $65.99 a bottle and worth every penny.  A great treat wine.


I have to tell you about another Canadian beauty I tried at the show.  The 2012 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin is from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia and is a fantastic expression of a Bordeaux style of wine.  Here in North America,in both Canada and the U.S., we tend to call Bordeaux style of wines as Meritage.   So whenever you see the word Meritage on a label, you can rest assured it’s a Bordeaux style of wine.  2012 was a warm dry Summer in the Okanagan Valley but provided excellent growing conditions for the grapes.  Other than to watch vine water stress and irrigation levels, it was a great year for this wine.  It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.  The grapes were picked at different times during October and November for perfect ripeness.  This resulted in a wine with delicious plum and vanilla flavors with notes of cigar and black pepper.  A great wine for meat.


It’s not that often I get to try so many wines of this caliber and to say I enjoyed my evening would be an understatement.  Here’s a flash at one of the tables… look at the prices, it was an absolute treat of an evening and I’m very grateful to the NSLC for the opportunity to attend.

And my wine of the week has to be this one…..


The 2013 Gerard Bertrand Clos d’Ora Minervois La Livinière was quite a treat.  I know, it was $242.29 a bottle, so it’s not a bottle I’m going to get to try every week.  From the Languedoc region of France, it is a fabulous blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre and Carignan.  It is a perfect blend of fruit, minerality and spiciness.  I did enjoy this wine, but if you’re not up for a $242 bottle, you can still enjoy wine from this vineyard at a price which is a little more friendlier on the wallet.


This Gerard Bertrand Tautavel is one of my favorites and it’s around the $20 mark.  This is a Syrah with yummy fruit and spicy notes.  And here’s another one….

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Here’s one from Gerard Bertrand that won rave reviews at the Port of Wines Festival 2 years back.   It’s called Corbierres and it’s a fantastic wine.  It’s $20 as well, and is a Grenache wine.  Grenache is the same grape they use to make Chateauneuf du Pape.  This is a great wine at a great price.  Some licorice notes on the palate but rich dark fruit.  With the cooler weather coming, we tend to serve more stews and heartier food.  This is the wine for all those comfort food meals.


Great times, great wine and great friends.  It was a great evening.  Thank you very much to Rick, Rayell and Dave from the NSLC for the tickets, I can’t tell you how much I appreciated them.

More wines to tell you about next week, so till then Cheers





My Trip To Huff Estates Winery


Part 2 of my 3 part series on my trip to the Prince Edward County Wine region was a visit to Huff Estates Winery, one of the most spectacularly beautiful wineries I have ever visited.  Stunning views with an art gallery on site, as well as a sculpture garden and did I mention fantastic wines.   Lanny Huff, the owner, pictured with me above, planted vines in 2001 and he says because of 2 great Summers, was able to produce his first vintage in 2003.

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This is Brian, a Sommelier at Huff who did our wine tasting for us.  Brian knows his wine!  He is holding up  a very special wine, called Cuvee Janine, a sparkling Pinot Noir.  It was my first time trying a sparkling Pinot, and I liked that it was nice and dry.  It had a gorgeous salmon color that featured lovely aromas of cranberry and strawberries.  I loved the effervescence on this wine, and thought it would pair great with some spicy foods, Indian and Asian cuisine.  In my opinion it would also be a great patio wine.


Prince Edward County, because of its limestone soil, is known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Well, I think they are putting out some top notch Riesling wines as well.  I love Riesling, and this one did not disappoint.  This 2015 off-dry Riesling has 22 grams of sugar for a nice tinge of sweetness.  Beautiful citrus notes and flavors of tropical fruit, I had to buy a bottle of this wine to take home, so I could enjoy it again.


I love Merlot.  You’ve heard me mention before I thought Merlot got a bad rap in the movie Sideways, although I do love the movie.  I still love Merlot though and I tried two at Huff Estates.  The first one was interesting because it was a 2013, done in stainless steel and it saw no oak.  You don’t often hear of a Merlot that doesn’t see oak.  It was smooth and silky and still had those luscious plum flavors, and it was a little lighter on the palate.  It wasn’t as heavy as some Merlot wines can be.  I enjoyed it very much.  But my heart went to the next Merlot we tried.


I fell in love while I was in Prince Edward County and it was with this South Bay Merlot.  I bought him home as well, but I’m waiting for a special occasion to bring him out.  We enjoyed the 2013 South Bay Merlot and this baby spent 19 months in French Oak.  I loved this wine, I loved the mouthfeel and I loved the generous palate.  I loved the spicy notes on this wine. The winemaker at Huff Estates is from the Burgundy region of France, his name is Frederic Picard and he is making fabulous wine.    To quote their website, they call it a ‘Merlot Concerto’.   I would have to agree!


Well it has been a busy few weeks for me.   Between having family visit and doing some travelling I get to spend this weekend relaxing.  And yes, someone would probably find me tonight in my pyjamas sipping a fabulous wine!

I hope your weekend is going to be as wonderful as mine

Till next week, Cheers




My Visit To Norman Hardie Winery


Remember I finished off last weeks blog telling you I was heading to the Niagara region for some wine tasting.   Well it would appear my friend Judy is not very good at geography LOL   We actually spent the weekend in Prince Edward County and I had the pleasure of meeting new friends and visiting a few spectacular vineyards.  I was going to talk about all of them in one blog but I honestly felt that wouldn’t do either winery justice.  So I am going to pick my favorite 3 and feature them over the next 3 weeks.  In this, the first week, we will start with the first winery we visited, Norman Hardie.


I had been looking forward to meeting this man since he won one of the categories of the Great Canadian Wine Challenge a couple of years back.  And he was absolutely wonderful.  He took the time for lots of pictures with our group and it was an absolute thrill to meet him and to sample not only the wine but fantastic food as well.   Probably some of the best pizza I have ever tried.  It gets cooked in a wood-fired oven, and we got to try several different kinds; as well as salad and wine.  Best lunch ever!



I bought two bottles to take home from this vineyard and one of them was the 2015 Riesling.  The fruit comes from both the Niagara region and the Prince Edward County, and it was done so well.  I absolutely love Riesling with spicy food, Thai and Indian cuisine and I’m saving my bottle for a special meal.  The fruit was lovely and it has an alcohol level of 9.8% so it’s great to pair food with, but also to enjoy all by itself.  The acidity was perfect and the citrus flavours made for a very well-rounded wine.


The second wine we tried was the lovely 2014 Chardonnay, and it was done in Burgundy style. I absolutely loved loved loved this wine!   Did I mention how much I loved this wine.  Aged in French oak, 30% of the barrels were new and 70% previously used.  What this accomplished was a very subtle smoothness in the wine.  This is my favorite way to enjoy Chardonnay.  The wine, like the Pinot Noir, is unfiltered, and I loved how our wine tasting expert from Norman Hardie referred to the wine as being ‘alive’.


I also tried the Cabernet Franc, and it too is unfiltered.  Many people have mentioned to me they have never tried Cab Franc on its own, just in a blend.  For example, the Bordeaux region of France, especially the Left Bank, uses Cabernet Franc a lot as part of the blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  For those of you who have never tried Caberent Franc all by itself, this is a great place to start.  The fruit was vibrant and the wine spent 10 months in French oak so it wasn’t all oaky.  It was one of the best Cabernet Franc wines I have ever had.

Pinot Noir

The second bottle of wine I took home from this vineyard is a bottle of Pinot Noir.  Pinot Noir is also done in a  Burgundian style, which is my favorite way.   Limestone soil, very similar in terroir to the Burgundy region of France, makes for a spectacular Pinot.  100% of the grapes used in this wine comes from the Prince Edward County, and this wine spent up to 25 days on the skins with 2 punch downs per day.  What does that mean?  It means this is no wimpy Pinot Noir.  I was actually there as part of a group doing a Bachelorette party, and the bride to be wasn’t a fan of Pinot Noir before this trip.  This spectacular wine changed her mind on Pinot.  It is that good.  The fruit is beautifully rI have, lots of flavour on the pallet and a nice lingering finish.



Spectacular people, great wine and delicious food.  It doesn’t get any better than that.   We had a wonderful man by the name of Dave driving us around in a beautiful stretch limousine .   And I will share more of the adventure next week !

Till then, Cheers





Wining With Family!

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Regular readers will remember I took last Saturday off from writing a wine blog, because I had the whole family here in Halifax visiting.   As my older sister renewed her vows after 30 years with her wonderful husband George, we had parents, sisters, nieces, grandparents, grand nieces and family from across the country.

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Check out my twin 3-year old niece and nephew, visiting from Ontario.  Cute!  It was a fantastic time, and we shared some fantastic wine.  Not with the 3 year old twins, but all my other nephews and nieces are much older.

This is a picture of my new adopted rescue cat Leo..


And this is a new wine that I tried that I absolutely loved…


This is the Felicette “Cats in Space” Grenache Rouge, Grenache with a little bit of Syrah added in.  At just $16.99 a bottle, I bought it because I heard great things about it.  And what a surprise.  I like Grenache done well, and this was done very well.  Grenache can taste ‘burnt’ and sometimes ‘boozy’, but this was super smooth.  Now that Autumn is just around the corner, this is a great wine for all those comfort foods we’ll be craving like stews and pastas.


I haven’t written about Riesling in a while… I have been going back to my Riesling favorites.  I love Riesling and my 27 year old nephew has just discovered he loves wine and Riesling is one of his favorites.  So I was thrilled to try this new Riesling recently.  (Say that 3 times really quickly)  The Charles & Charles Riesling from Washington State is a wonderful wine, and the label was designed by artist Rikke Korff to highlight the landscape of Washington State from sea shore to mountains.  I happened to enjoy Riesling this past week while fluffing flowers and decorating a wedding hall, but it’s my favorite wine to pair with Thai food, Indian cuisine and anything spicy.

So many great wines… so little time.  This is my wine of the week.


The Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon was my new favorite find of the past couple of weeks.   This was my first experience with this vineyard, which was started in 2005  The founder of the vineyard is Joseph Carr, who happens to share the same name as his father.  And all their friends called both father and son Josh.  And that’s where the name came from.  Heavily influenced by Bordeaux wines, this is a spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon, featuring 93% Cabernet, 5% Merlot and 2% Petite Verdot.  Juicy fruit, hints of cinnamon and clove and toasty oak, this is a great steak wine.


This little cutie is my 3 year old grand-niece… (I feel old!)  Her mom is my niece (standing in the background) and she is just a cutie.  She’s a twin, but I couldn’t slow her brother down enough to get him in the picture.

Niagara wine region

Well this weekend, I am off vineyard hopping in the Niagara region in Ontario.  Guess what next week’s wine blog will be all about!!

Enjoy the long weekend, till next week Cheers