Warmth, Wind & Wine – My Trip to Newfoundland

Approaching Newfoundland

I’m back from 8 days in Newfoundland. I left on Saturday the 23rd, and took the night crossing. This was my view as the ferry was ready to dock Sunday morning in Port aux Basques, on the province’s West Coast. It was a Come Home Year in Newfoundland and I was one of many thousand who went home for a time this Summer.

I left the day after I turned the big 60! Here’s to another great decade. My friend Cassandra took me out to lunch on my birthday. The restaurant was kind enough to serve me a special dessert, which I thoroughly enjoyed. She also introduced me to a new drink.

Cold Stream Rum Cream

OMG, you have to try the Cold Stream Rum Cream. She gave me Starbucks Iced Coffee and a bottle of the rum cream and it is sooooo good!! I know it’s not wine, but I do enjoy other cocktails, and this one tops the list. Coldstream is a local company founded by a young man and his family and friends. It opened in 2015 and makes top quality products. Check out their story here.

Coldstream Rum Cream

Another highlight of the trip was my friend Angie flew down and joined us for 4 days.

Angie flew into Deer Lake

She flew down on the Wednesday and then we drove back together on Sunday. We took in many sites including Gros Morne National Park with my Mom, who turns 88 on her next birthday.

My Mom & Angie
Gorgeous panoramic views

We stayed at my sister and brother in law’s cabin in George’s Lake, which also had some pretty impressive views. Do you know what I found out? I’m really good at building fires. Built one every night I was there. However, a big thanks to my brother-in-law for cutting all the wood and kindling for us beforehand.

My fire building
Mom & Angie enjoying a sip

Angie and I both drink red wines for the most part, and being in Newfoundland, we tried a couple of wines that we hadn’t had before. For example….

Confessions Cabernet

This should be a wine of the week, because it was a great Cabernet Sauvignon blend at a fantastic price. It comes from California, and is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot & Petite Sirah to make a deliciously interesting wine. And while we were there, it was on sale for $13.99 a bottle. You can get this wine across Canada, but not here in Nova Scotia, and it’s too bad, because it was an amazing value.

Did I mention that although we stayed in a cabin, we didn’t really rough it!

Sipping in the hot tub
We had a good time

Craig & Jackie have a hot tub on their deck, yeah it was really rough. So one evening we poured a sip and enjoyed the hot tub which overlooks George’s Lake. One of Angie’s son’s had a great line, ‘George has a really nice lake’. It was a great trip home and I really loved having Angie join us. My mom really enjoyed it as well. The drive home was a little long, 16 hours. Whew.

My wine of the week has to be the wine my brother-in-law bought for us to enjoy. As you all know, I was in Bordeaux France this past April, and my brother-in-law Craig had a special bottle of French wine for us to enjoy.

We enjoyed the 2015 and so it had time to age nicely. It’s a Merlot dominant wine with Cabernet Sauvignon blended in, and it was the best Bordeaux wine I’ve tasted in the $23 price range. This is one of the best values under $25 I’ve tasted from Bordeaux.

It was a great trip home and I want to thank my family for being awesome hosts.

Also, got to spend some time with my girl Maggie.

Love the Yellow bow

Well, that’s it for me for this week. Enjoy the Summer, and stay safe.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Pour Decisions of Summer

The Lazy Days of Summer

There’s no such thing as a ‘poor’ decision in the Summer, is there? Whatever you are pouring, it always tastes a little better in the Summer. Well, things are starting to heat up here on the East Coast of Canada. It’s supposed to hit 28-degrees today. This is my last wine blog for 2 weeks. I am heading to Newfoundland on vacation next Saturday the 23rd. I don’t mind sharing this with my wine friends, next Friday on the 22nd, I turn 60 years old. So I’m visiting family and friends, and doing a little celebrating on the side.

Gross Morne National Park

My friend Angie is flying down for a few days, and it’s going to be her first time in Newfoundland. I love showing people around my home province. It’s very unique, filled with wonderful people, places and food. One of my goals is to do the spectacular Gros Morne Boat Tour, which is a boat tour that takes you through the fjords of Gros Morne National Park. I live on the West Coast of Newfoundland,(Corner Brook) so we are definitely going to be heading to Gros Morne, so hopefully weather permits we are able to do the boat tour. My Dad is originally from Bonne Bay, so I’m very familiar with the area. It’s a gorgeous drive and you are pretty well guaranteed to see some interesting wildlife.

Can’t wait to see my family and of course this family member…. Miss Maggie

I have something to share with you. I made homemade pasta for the first time this week. Yup, from scratch.

Flour, eggs, olive oil and salt. I formed a ball and let it rest for 30 minutes.

My friends Fred & Arla lent me their pasta machine, which smoothed the dough out. However, I had a little trouble with the attachment that made fettucine, so I cut it myself.

I made a green olive paste from scratch, which consisted of olives, olive oil, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, garlic and lime juice. And then I added 4 cheeses, mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan with just a sprinkle of cheddar on top and baked it.

It turned out tasty but here’s where I went wrong on my first attempt. The instructions with the pasta machine said to boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Now I know homemade pasta takes less time to cook than boxed pasta, but because I cut it myself, it was a little thicker. I definitely should have let it boil for another 2 minutes. I would say 5 minutes. It was a little more toothsome than al dente. I ate it though. That’s the beauty of trying to make pasta from scratch, you learn as you go, and you get to eat your results.

The wine you are seeing in the picture is this one

655 Cabernet Sauvignon

Here’s the 655 Cabernet Sauvignon from Lodi California and it’s on sale right now, priced under $15 at our local liquor store. To my reader friends in Newfoundland, it’s available there too. Great wine, with mostly Cabernet and a little Petite Sirah and Syrah (2 different grapes) added in to make a complex interesting wine at a great price.

If in the hot weather, you like something iced cold, me and some friends tried this last weekend. OMG! This is good. As a kid, I used to love creamsicle ice cream. If you did too, you’ll love this. Black Fly Vodka Orange Crush.

Black Fly Orange Crush

And now for my wine of the week……

Chronic Cellars

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a great wine label. And every once in a while, you have to treat yourself. So this was my treat last night, Chronic Cellars Red Blend. This gorgeous blend, dominated by 70% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, 10% Syrah and 4% Grenache, won’t disappoint. Wow. Given 91 Points and an Editor’s Choice by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. And it’s still priced at just $25 here. A big welcome to our new readers from the U.S. Obviously the price is quite different where you live. Your neighbours to the North pay a lot more for wine.

Stay safe in the heat my friends. I’m on the road next Saturday and in Newfoundland the following Saturday. I’ll be back in 3 weeks with some new adventures, lots of pictures and a new wine or two.

Cheers

Meet the Mighty Grape

I love reading about wine and recently I read an article about the amazing grape, and there were a few fun facts in there I didn’t know that I thought I would share on this Saturday.

We all know grapes as the berries used to make our favorite beverage. But did you know that the grapes you put on your charcuterie board are different than the grapes used in the production of wine. The grapes you eat as a snack have a thin skin and have been bred by farmers over the years to be seedless. Wine grapes have a thick skin, are smaller and have lots of seeds.

It also takes a lot of grapes to make wine, about 1200 of the smaller grapes, or 2.5 lbs, to make one bottle of wine. Grapes also have more uses than just wine or as a snack, it’s used in the making of jams, jellies, and dried out they become raisins. Grapes dried out become raisins, and dried wine grapes become Amarone.

There are 8,000 different grape varieties, and by far my favorites are used to make my favorite beverage.

Speaking of grapes and our favorite beverage, let’s talk some wine….

First, a new white I tried recently with my friend Arla. Arla is a huge fan of Pinot Grigio and she recently tried and loved this Pinot by Riff. Arla always shares her new finds with me, for which I am very grateful.

Riff Pinot Grigio

With the weather warming up, here is a crisp cool white wine that pairs wonderfully with Summer. Originating from the Northern Italian Alps, the area is known for straightforward clean citrus Pinot Grigio. This is a gorgeous wine with notes of pear, citrus and melon, and a great value at $21 here in Nova Scotia.

I also tried a new red wine recently.

McManis Petite Sirah

If you haven’t tried McManis Wines before, what are you waiting for? I’ve written about the Zinfandel, which I love and the Cabernet Sauvignon, which I also love. I have also tried the North Forty Red blend, which unfortunately we can’t get here in Nova Scotia anymore. You can read about it here though. Recently I’ve tried the Petite Sirah from the McManis family of wines. Petite Sirah is an extremely rare grape, also known as Durif, named after French Botanist Francois Durif. Known widely for blending because it adds structure and tannins, many California winemakers are taking this unique grape and making it the star. McManis is one of those. And Petite Sirah is the best when grown on old vines. As the saying goes, ‘the older the wine, the better the wine’. This was a wonderful wine, priced at about $22.

My colleague BJ Wilson

Yesterday the Radio station I work at had it’s 13th Annual Linnks for Lymphoma Golf Tournament, raising funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It was a great sunny day and we had a ton of fun. A big thank you to everyone who came out and joined us. My co-worker BJ Wilson, who hosts BJ & The Q Morning Crew, worked with me on hole #10. We cooked pepperoni and did the ‘Closest to the Pin’.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

You Gotta Love a Long Weekend

Who doesn’t love a long weekend? A day late, but I hope everyone had a wonderful Canada Day yesterday.

This is the 155th year that we celebrate Canada Day, which honors the anniversary of Confederation, when Canada became a country separate from the British Empire.   It was known as Dominion Day until 1982, which is why my home province of Newfoundland had a beer called Dominion Ale. And it wouldn’t be from Newfoundland without a picture of a moose on the bottle.

Dominion Ale

But today we are here to talk about wine!   Are you grilling this Canada Day?  It was a beautiful day here yesterday in Halifax so I fired up the grill last night. Did some ribs which I’m going to finish this evening. My favorite wine to go with ribs? Regular readers know what a huge fan I am of Zinfandel with ribs. Whether it’s a 100% Zinfandel, or Zinfandel is part of the blend, I’m a fan.

Cline Ancient Vine

Cline makes a beautiful smooth Zinfandel. Natalie Maclean, Canada’s most prolific wine writer, gave this wine 92 Points. From Contra Costa County close to the San Francisco Bay area, this rich wine has notes of plum and black pepper, which makes it perfect for anything on the grill.

Robert Mondavi said it best “Wine, Food & Art – incorporating these three things will enhance your life”.  No wonder he was a legend.

Robert Mondavi

Here’s my recipe for BBQ ribs.

  • Take the membrane off the back of the ribs. It adds nothing to the ribs.
  • I like to marinate my ribs. Brown Sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, liquid smoke, hot sauce, and some BBQ sauce.
  • I also slow cook them first in a 275-degree oven for 2 – 3 hours.
  • Then I finish them on the grill, adding more BBQ sauce. I like Bulls Eye Sweet & Sticky.
  • They are fall off the bone delicious.

For my white wine drinking friends, a good hearty white wine goes great grilled food, like this one from Trinity Oaks.

With flavors of apple and pears, and delicately used oak, this is a great Chardonnay.

That’s it for me for today. Have a wonderful and safe long weekend.

Sorry, not sorry, Kale

Darlene

A France Reunion

Last Saturday night, the group of us who went to France, plus some other friends, got together for a wine tasting.

The Gang

We sure did miss Ed & Juanita, who live in PEI and wasn’t able to make it over. But we had a fabulous evening of amazing food and some good wine. First of all, I have to say Wow at the food we had that night. Cathy put out an unbelievable spread. Appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, and a charcuterie board that would put a professional chef to shame.

A work of art

It was a wonderful night of stories and some good laughs. We featured some great white wines.

Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc

From the Marlborough region of New Zealand, Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc is a family owned winery and Peter Jackson is the head winemaker. Gorgeous structure and bright acidity, Richard guessed the grape immediately because of it’s tropical fruit notes on the nose. If you are a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, like I am, this one is definitely worth trying.

Centerstone Chardonnay

I’ve bought Chardonnay to wine tastings from all over the world. One of the things many people don’t like about Chardonnay is how oaky it is. Well, this one from the Willamette Valley in Oregon is unoaked and very tasty. Apple and pineapple flavors shine, and is not over-powered by any oak.

We also had a Rose, one of my favorites, Gerard Bertrand Rose. I’ve written about this one before. I love this rose wine.

We also had a local Nova Scotia wine, Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay.

Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay

Representing the terroir of Nova Scotia, this crisp wine was perfect with the charcuterie board, but ultimately was designed for seafood.

You know it is impossible for me to write a wine blog without featuring a red. And what a red wine I have to feature.

Bear with me while I tell you a short story. On Tuesday, it was my friend Angie’s birthday. We were getting together Wednesday to have a sip, I bought this special bottle of wine to celebrate my friend’s birthday. But when I got there, she had another one opened. So I never got to try it that night. Last night, I went downstairs to our Common Room for Happy Hour, and one of the ladies had bought this bottle of wine and offered me a glass. Wow! I have had the J. Lohr Merlot, the Red Blend, the Zinfandel and now I’ve had the Cabernet Sauvignon. I love J Lohr wines and this Cabernet has been named one of the best Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the United States in 2021. Full-bodied and rich, this wine, perfect beef wine, is a treat bottle at $32 a bottle. But so worth it.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. One of our red wines was skunky last weekend, so we didn’t drink it. I’ll have some new wines for next weekend as well. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene