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

International Merlot Day

International Merlot Day

Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog, knows I’m a huge Merlot fan. It’s luscious and sexy, easy to drink and very food friendly. Merlot is known as a chameleon because it adapts to many climates, taking on the character of both its location and winemaking techniques. Which makes Merlot so interesting. Depending on where its grown, and who the winemaker is, it can have subtle nuances. I find it a super interesting wine. Here are some of my favorites.

Carta Vieja Merlot from Chile

Chile is producing some fantastic Merlot wines. Chile is producing some great wines period. Although Merlot was bought to South America in the 19th Century, it wasn’t until the Chile & Argentina wine boom of the 1990’s that people started appreciating the Merlot made there. This is a great Merlot for $18.

This one is fantastic as well, also from Chile at just $20 a bottle.

Santa Ema Gran Reserve Merlot

Merlot is also a big grape in a Bordeaux blend. Bordeaux labels its wine by region, so it’s a little more hard to determine which has more Merlot, and which has more Cabernet Sauvignon. A Bordeaux is always a blend, and If you buy a wine from the Left Bank, regions like Haut-Medoc, Margaux or Paulliac, they will contain Merlot, but be Cabernet Sauvignon dominant. The Right Bank of Bordeaux is Merlot dominant. Regions like Saint Emilion and Pomerol. These tend to pricier Merlot wines.

Chateau Le Puy

This Chateau le Puy is a spectacular wine, and is a blend. 85% of this wine is Merlot with some Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. Bordeaux wines age extremely well so at $36, this is a great value.
A wine from next-door to this region, is the Château Puyfromage

This wine is also from Bordeaux, it’s also a blend, and comes frm right next-door to the region of Saint Emilion. Merlot is still the dominant grape but it’s a little more affordable at $22.79 a bottle.

Another French Merlot

This Merlot is also from France, but much more affordable, I tried it last night for the first time. Baron Philip De Rothschild Merlot is on sale in my area right now for less than $15 a bottle. I found this to be a softer Merlot, some notes of raspberry, coffee and spice. Tasty, but definitely a softer medium bodied Merlot, whereas most Merlot wines are more on the full-bodied side.

Candor Merlot

And last but not least, one of my favourite Merlot wines. California can make some beautiful Merlot wine, and this one from Paso Robles is so very good. This wine is luscious and plummy on the palate. (Plummy is a word, right?) I just love it, and it comes in that around the $25 price range.

That’s it for me for this week. Have a fun weekend. Don’t forget to put your clocks back and enjoy the extra hour sleep. and our trip to Bordeaux France is going ahead in April 2022, check out all the details here. I would love to see you on the trip.

Darlene

The Reds of Last Week’s Wine Tasting

Last week I told you I did my first wine-tasting in 19 months, and we had such a great time. We did 8 wines at this particular tasting, so last week I covered the first 5 wines, which were the sparkling, the rose and the whites. This week I’m going to share the red wines.

We had 3 red wines, and started the evening with a Pinot Noir

MacMurray Pinot Noir

From the Russian River Valley in California, I love this Pinot Noir. One of the ladies who didn’t think they liked Pinot Noir, because their experience in the past was a ‘wimpy’ one, like this. This is not a full-bodied wine, it’s medium bodied, but lots of flavor. I found how they used the oak was very interesting. It spent 8months in both French and American oak, but the really interesting part was 20% new barrels and 80% used barrels. The used barrels imparts less oak flavor onto the wine, but ages it smoothly.

Septima Gran Reserva from Argentina

This wine is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat. When I opened this wine during the wine tasting, the cork crumbled in my hand. I was very concerned. I tried the wine, and although it hadn’t gone skunky yet, you knew it wouldn’t be much longer before the wine was tainted. This is a big bold full-bodied red, great for red meat. All the ladies agreed it wasn’t their favorite wine to sip on, but would compliment food, and I had to agree. Even though it was breathing for about 90 minutes, it didn’t soften the wine. This wine comes in at $42.50 a bottle.

And last but not least, my personal favorite of the evening

Casella 2010 Cabernet

I don’t usually take Australian wines to a wine-tasting, but on a leap of faith from Alex at the NSLC, I took this wine and it was my favorite. Many lesser priced Australian wines can have manipulated oaky flavors, and be a little too oaky for me. Not all, but many. This was not the case with the 2010 Casella Cabernet Sauvignon. It was spectacular. Full-bodied but the oak didn’t overpower, and the 2010 vintage has won awards all over the world. This wine was $50 a bottle, and I have to say it was totally worth it. This is a wine you can sip on its own, or enjoy with food.

Relaxing weekends

If you are interested in having a wine tasting in your home, reach out to me at darlenemyers@hotmail.com. I can do a wine tasting that fits your budget. Next week, I have a Champagne to share with you, a pork tenderloin that changed my mind on pork tenderloin and a new red.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Don’t Wine For Me Argentina

Couch Wine Tour

Although our first full week of full lockdown did provide some challenges, it also held a very bright spot for me. My friend Nancy Johnston and the fine people at Univins and Spirits, shared some Argentinian wines with me and asked could I share them with you.

I get asked all the time where the greatest values in wine are located and Argentina is definitely at the top of the list. These are excellent quality wines at easy to swallow prices. And although Malbec is widely considered the ‘National Wine of Argentina’, they are doing fantastic things with other grape varietals.

I know everyone is missing travelling at this time, and we can’t go in person. Let’s take a little trip to Argentina through our wine glass.

My in-house wine tour

Outside the city of San Juan, lies the Pedernal Valley & Tulum Valley, which are becoming more and more acclaimed for great quality red wines. It is hotter and drier in these Valleys, as opposed to Mendoza, which is the biggest wine making region in Argentina. What does that mean for the wine? Grapes ripen faster, which means a more full-bodied wine with a little higher alcohol content. Don’t mistake that for ‘boozy’, as the wine is not boozy at all, and the alcohol content comes in at around 13.6%, which is very average in a red wine. This Cabernet Syrah blend from Finas Las Moras, is a delicous blend of the two grapes. It’s medium to full-bodied, with a very generous mouthfeel. It’s a perfect pairing for when you are enjoying a grilled piece of meat, and the $16 price tag means you can enjoy more than one bottle.

Smooth and delicious

Do you know what blew me away about the Fincas Las Moras winery? It was founded in 1993. It’s so hard to believe it’s that new. They started small and now export to 45 countries around the world. When you think of wineries in France and Italy making wine for hundreds of years, this vineyard has been doing it since 1993, and doing it really well. This Syrah is an absolute delight. Do not confuse this Syrah with some of the heavy-bodied, oak-laden Shiraz wines out of Australia. Although Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape, it is referred to as Syrah in France, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa. Some people have written that Shiraz is ‘New World’, and Syrah is Old World, however, Argentina, Chile and New Zealand are New World wine-making regions. Australia called it Shiraz and kind of made that name its own, and in the U.S. it’s generally known as Shiraz. This Syrah is light to medium bodied, fruit forward and very food friendly. A steal at $15.

And last but not least, one of my favorite wines from Argentina.

After a stressful week, La Mascota Cabernet Franc is a great way to eend the week, it’s perfectly balanced and elegant. Cabernet Franc is the mother grape of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It was once known as a ‘blending’ grape’ in Bordeaux, but it is so interesting and complex on its own. Hand harvested and aged in both French and American oak for 15 months, this gorgeous full-bodied wine has rich fruit and spicy notes. A fantastic wine for under $18.

A very big welcome to all of our new wine loving friends, from near and far. I see that our new friends and followers are from Canada and the U.S., so welcome to my wine journey.

Stay safe everyone. Till next week, Cheers

How Merlot Can You Go

Cheers

I’ve been on a real Merlot kick lately. I love Merlot.

Merlot is the #1 grape varietal in France and the #2 varietal in the world, behind Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot is a full-bodied grape but less aggressive than Cabernet Sauvignon, as it’s not as tannic. (A tannic wine will get your two jawlines singing) It’s smooth and lush, and great for pairing with food. Before I get into some of the new Merlot wines I have tried recently, I wanted to share this with you.

4 years ago yesterday

Yesterday marked 4 years since I became a Certified Sommelier.

I worked really hard for 5 years to get this Certification, so I was really proud. Hundreds of hours in a classroom and even more time spent studying. I always joke and say I loved the homework, but believe me, this was a lot of work and I’m incredibly proud of this accomplishment. Considering I do not work full time in the wine industry, one of the reasons I keep writing this blog is so that I don’t get rusty on wine. (Other than the drinking part) Doing this blog not only encourages me to continue trying new wines, it also has me reading up on what’s happening in the wine world & the latest trends.

I have it framed and proudly displayed

So let me share with you some of the new Merlot wines I have tried lately.

Ghost Pines Merlot

I’m not sure if this is being discontinued in Nova Scotia, but I believe it was originally around $27.99 and it was on sale for $21.99, and I think I may have bought the last one at my neighbourhood NSLC. I enjoyed this, it had a real smoky flavor to it, which paired wonderfully with the meat I had on the grill. You would be hard pressed to find a rating from a wine critic less than 90 Points on this wine, it’s that good. If you see it, and it’s on sale, I recommend you scoop it up.

Sterling California Merlot

This wine was so good! And for a week, it was on sale here. Still a great value at $17.99, I picked up a couple of bottles when it was $15.99. A note to my Newfoundland friends, this wine is available at the NLC as well. The Vintner Collection from Sterling represents a distinct quality, and Wine Spectator says it was plush and well spiced. And that’s what Merlot is all about!

Think Outside the Box

I like to think outside the box when it comes to my wines, so its always fun to try a Merlot (or your favorite wine) from a different country. Chile is producing some fantastic Merlot wines. Chile is producing some great wines period. Although Merlot was bought to South America in the 19th Century, it wasn’t until the Chile & Argentina wine boom of the 1990’s that people started appreciating the Merlot made there. This is a great Merlot for $18

And last, but certainly not least, the biggest treat in my two weeks of Merlot madness! It was amazing. Here’s what the winemaker had to say.

“Our 2017 Sandstone Merlot has inviting notes of ripe fig and pomegranate, with a hint of sandalwood. This delicious Merlot bursts with berry flavors from cranberry, grilled cherry and acai, finishing with a nice lingering acidity.”

Wente was named American Winery of the Year in 2011 and it started in 1883 with Carl Wente. 4th generation siblings, Eric, Phillip & Carolyn took it over in the late 70’s. This family has been making wine for a long time, and they know how to make it right. It’s a great price at under $24. Sandstone refers to the soil the Merlot grapes were grown in. Some of the great wine regions, like Bordeaux, have Sandstone. You’ll really notice it makes a difference in the wine.

Have a great weekend everyone. Till next week, Cheers