Vacation Time


So in three days time, here’s where you will find me.  There won’t be a wine blog for the next two Saturday’s, because I’ll be here.  On the beach in Barbados.  I’m very much looking forward to my vacation and I’m really looking forward to trying some new wine while I’m there.  I know there are several wine stores I’ll be checking out.  Here are some new wines I’ve tried here at home recently.

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Wine Critic James Suckling gave this wine 91 Points and called it a best buy!  Why?  Because its very good wine at a great price.  When you can buy wine that wine critics give 90+ points to, at under $20 a bottle, that’s a best buy.  This is a very interesting blend of 33% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Sangiovese.  This is a great wine for all your favorite Italian dishes, pizza, pasta or any meal you’re having meat with.  I loved the flavors in this wine and would be great with food or all by itself.


BBQ steak alert!  Chile is putting out some spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon and this is no exception.  Steak is not cheap, even if you’re doing it yourself on the barbecue.  Steak is a treat for me, so when I have it, I buy a really good cut of meat and I buy a really good wine to go with it.  This wonderful Chilean Cabernet is $25.99 but worth every penny.  I enjoyed the 2014 vintage and the winemaker says the Maipo Alto region of Chile is known for growing complex and unique Cabernet grapes.  James Suckling, who gave the Vitiano 91 points, gave this wine and this vintage 93 points.  Yes, it’s that good.

And now for my wine of the week….

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My wine blogs tend to be about good value wines, with the occasional treat wine.  I love sharing when I find a very good wine at a fantastic price.  The other two wines I wrote about today, all could have made the wine of the week.  I chose this one because its another 90+ point find at a fantastic price.  It’s $18.99 and I had the 2013 vintage, which means this fine Italian wine has been aging for 5 years.  Which would explain why it was so smooth.  It’s a beautiful Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, which means it goes with everything.  I loved it and will definitely buy it again.

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Vacationing with this fun gal, my sister Jackie, and her family.  The next blog will be coming at you Saturday May 19th.

Cheers, Darlene

World Malbec Day

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This past Tuesday, on April 17th we celebrated World Malbec Day.  The day the entire world comes together to celebrate Argentina’s premier grape varietal.   There are celebrations in all corners of the earth, from Australia to Africa, from Germany to right here in Nova Scotia and throughout Canada.

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Although Malbec is now known as the grape of Argentina, it’s origins hail from France.  At one time it was one of the grape varieties allowed in a Bordeaux blend, and was also planted in the Cahors region of Southern France.  It fell out of favor in Bordeaux after the great frost of 1956.  Even though the frost hit Cahors as well, Cahors replanted Malbec.   Bordeaux started planting Cabernet Franc and more Merlot.  AOC regulations say a red wine from Cahors has to contain 70% Malbec with the remainder being Merlot and Tannat.

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World Malbec Day is celebrated on April 17th because it is on that day Argentinian President Dominigo Faustino Sarmiento decided to make it his mission to transform the Argentina wine industry.  And while Malbec plantings were declining in France, they were sky-rocketing in Argentina.


Let’s start with my favourite Malbec.  This wine is the epitome of why Argentina has risen to fame in the Malbec world.  Well structured on the palate with gorgeous fruit and because it was aged for  9 months in 2-year old French oak, it’s smooth without being oaky!  It’s one of the best Malbec wines I have ever had.


The Achaval Ferrer is $33 a bottle, and while worth every penny, we aren’t drinking that every night of the week.  Also hailing from Argentina is this Catena Alamos Malbec, a family that has been making wine for 100 years.  This is considered a high altitude wine, which means the grapes are grown at high altitudes, which many Argentinian wines are.  The Vineyard says it helps make the wine bottled poetry, and at just $16.99, you can enjoy this poem any night of the week.

And now for my wine of the week, we are going to continue with our bottled poetry theme…


This is Message In A Bottle, the wine from Sting and his wife Trudie Styler.   They have recently bought a home in Tuscany and ventured into making wine.  They named their wine after his 1979 hit Message In A Bottle, by Sting’s band The Police.  It is 70% Sangiovese with Syrah and Merlot added in, and it is spectacular.   This is available here in Nova Scotia on a very limited basis so if you see one, be sure to pick it up .  Its the ultimate treat.

Thats it for this week

Till next week, Cheers


Fun Wine Facts

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I read a fair bit about wine.  Every year or so I write a wine blog about some of the more interesting things I have read about wine, or some of the ‘cutesy’ things even I didn’t know.  Some things I find very amusing… like fun fact #2172!

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And I thought I drank a butt-load of wine.  And other things I have read, I found a little creepy.

In Vietnam, if you are in the know and ask your waiter for a glass of cobra wine. They will serve you rice-wine covered with snake blood that is killed on the spot.

Well, take a guess who won’t be ordering cobra wine in Vietnam!

Here’s something I found interesting.

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This makes me think of a wonderful California wine I tried recently

You know I love a good Zinfandel and this Four Vines did not disappoint.  I have had it a couple of times, just to be sure.  It will probably come as no surprise it hails from Lodi California, Lodi is after all Zinfandel Country in California.  What I find unique about Four Vines is that the vines are between 30 and 70 years old, and because they are older, they yield fewer grapes, but the grapes have more intense flavor.  They also pick them during the night, which is being done more and more.  Why?  The sunlight affects the sugar content in wine and picking at night will help avoid any surprises during fermentation.  It also helps with the energy bills.  This fruit forward Zinfandel has notes of black pepper, and you have to try it at your next barbecue.

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Now I’m no spring chicken myself, and I’m not much for chocolate, but if wine helps me live longer – Cheers.  Or as they say in Ireland ‘Slainte’!  Something interesting I read lately was that in the 1940’s grapes were not the main crop in the Napa Valley region of California, it was prunes!  Boy, am I ever glad that changed.  Because we would not be able to have this Napa Valley beauty.

The Sterling Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon shines at $34.99 a bottle.  It’s rich and seductive and the grapes come from 14 different vineyards in the Napa Valley region, which gives this wine a very interesting complex nature.  Harry Hansen is the winemaker at Sterling, and he does a wonderful job crafting the perfect steak wine.

And last but not least…. Wine does not make you fat!!  Best.  News.  Ever!  While beer can give people the ‘beer belly’, there are studies that show people who consume one glass of wine a day tend to carry 10 lbs less than people who don’t drink at all.

So on that note, let’s enjoy my wine of the week..


When people ask me where the best deals are coming from, Chile and Argentina tend to be at the top of the list.  I bought this for the cool label, I will buy it again because it’s very good.  It’s a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with Carmenere, Merlot and Cabernet Franc added, to make it a Chilean Bordeaux blend if you will.  Great flavors in this wine and it’s a winner this week because of the spectacular $15.79 price tag.  At that price, you can enjoy it any day of the week.

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Well, that’s it for me this week.  Thanks for reading, and hopefully you’ll share some of the fun wine facts with your friends.

Till next week, Cheers



The Grape Adventure

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I love to travel.  Every year I try for a trip to a different location.  I love meeting people from new cultures and trying the food from around the world.  I especially love trying the new wines.  Last year in Italy it was all about the wine, but I try to make my weekly wine experiences an adventure as well.  I never go a full week without trying a new wine.  Let’s go on a little wine adventure together, from the comfort of wherever you are reading this.


One of my favourite travelling paerners is my sister Jackie.  We have travelled to many places like Aruba, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas and Florida, just to name a few.  A few years back we went to Hawaii, and while there I enjoyed many wines from California.


Wines from Robert  Mondavi Winery were very abundant in Hawaii.  One of the wines I tried while there was this fabulous Maestro Red Blend.  Sadly, it’s not available in Canada where I live.  This wonderful blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with some Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petite Verdot is rich and luscious and one of the best Robert Mondavi wines I have ever  tried.


On my bucket list of places to travel,  France!   And yesterday evening at a wine night here in my building,  I bought this beauty and shared it with a few friends.  This wine is 80 % Grenache and 20% Syrah and the Syrah is aged in French oak fir 12 months.  The Grenache was bright and fruity while the oak-aged Syrah added smoothness.  The best part?  This wine is $20 a bottle here in Nova Scotia, but when I searched it online, there were places this  wine was selling for as much ad $32 a bottle.

And my wine of the week is a steal of a deal….


I counted this morning and I have 4 bottles of this wine in my wine rack, its that great of a deal.  When you try this wine, you will be shocked to know its $15 a bottle!   The country is Portugal and the grape is Touriga Franscesca.  If you’ve ever had wine from Portugal, chances are you’ve had Touriga Nacional,and the two grapes are related.  Touriga Fransceca or Franca, as it can be called, is lighter and fruitier.  It’s claim to fame is that it’s widely used to make port.  This wine is medium to full-bodied with hints of black pepper and its a great food wine or terrific all on its own!


In a few weeks the adventure continues as I head to Barbados.  I wonder what the wine is going to be like!

Till next week, Cheers