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Exceptional Australian Wines

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2018 by darmyers

Image result for Australian winesImage result for critter wines

Australia’s wine industry has taken a hit in the past few years, and with good reason.  Once the darling of the wine community, Australia’s mass-produced ‘critter’ wines is a big reason why many consumers are staying out of the  Australia wine aisle.  Critter wines are those mass-produced Australian wines that features an animal, and they are artifically oaked and have zero complexity.  They are cheap, and they taste cheap.  It’s too bad, really!  Because there are people in Australia making great wine.

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Penfolds was established in 1844 and they have perfected the art of fine wine from Australia.  And if you’ve ever had their Grange Shiraz, at $700 a bottle, you would understand why I’m calling it an art form.  But you don’t have to spend $700 to get a good bottle of Penfolds.

Bin 128

This Bin 128 is a wonderful Shiraz for $34.99.  Considered a cool climate wine from a warm region, which  means in this case is that the temperature really drops off fast as harvest time is approaching.  Lower temperatures preserve acidity, but can struggle to ripen.  This can cause a ‘green’ taste, which is almost bitter.  This is not the case  with this Penfold’s wine.  There is no bitterness, and the tannins are very smooth, caused by the wine being aged for 12 months in smooth French oak, which doesn’t put that funky oaky taste on wine.

Jeff Byrne, chief winemaker for Australia’s Audrey Wilkinson, touts his brand Tuesday at the liquor store on Joseph Howe Drive in Halifax. (TED PRITCHARD/ Staff)

The story of  Audrey Wilkinson Wines is one of my favorite to come out of Australia, because there is a wonderful Canadian connection.  Audrey Wilkinson was a man named by his parents and endured a little teasing.  But at age 15, his father died, and Audrey took over the running of the winery.  His motto… “It’s all about the wine”!

The story gets even better because the current winemaker for Audrey Wilkinson is from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.  His name is Jeff Byrne and he went to Australia for a vacation, and ended up meeting the love of his life and moved there to be married.  I had the pleasure of meeting this interesting young man when he visited Nova Scotia back in 2013.

Audrey Wilkinson

Jeff is making some incredibly good  wine.  This Shiraz is so good, it’s hard to believe it’s priced at only $24.99.  Jeff’s whole focus when it comes to making wine is all about the balance.  He doesn’t want sweetness, he doesn’t want too much oak, and he really wants to make good wine that goes well with food.

And my wine of the week also happens to be from Australia…


I had a steak the other night and this is the wine I picked up to pair with that steak.  They were awesome together.  You know how nice it is to watch two people who have been dancing together for years?  This was very similar to that.  The Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Cabernet Sauvignon hails from the Clare Valley in Australia, and is named after a gentleman who lived in an old tin shed behind the Kilikanoon’s Cellar door.  He was totally self sufficient and grew his own fruits and vegetables and his favorite meal was rabbit.  I always enjoy the story behind the wine.

This wine has spent 16 months in both new and seasoned French oak barrels, so there is oak, but it’s not overpowering.  I also detected notes of black pepper, so I thought it was a great wine to have with a steak done on the grill.

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Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and I know many people opt for the green beer, but you know what?  A wee bit of wine is just fine!

Till next week, Cheers






Limited Finds- One of a Kind

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2018 by darmyers


Yesterday afternoon I had to say good-bye to this cutie, as he crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  I knew our time was limited, because when I started fostering him 2 years ago, he had feline leukemia then.  The first 5 years of his life before he was rescued were pretty hard, but the last 2, he was in kitty heaven.  I’d also like to take this moment to thank the Halifax Cat Rescue Society for all their wonderful support, and for paying the vet bills.  Leo was one of a kind, a limited find if you will.  So today I am dedicating my wine blog to limited finds, just like Leo.


Last week I wrote about the Discover USA wines, as our local wine store is doing a feature on Limited Finds.

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For our first wine, let’s head to Italy.  Monte Antico is a village in Italy which in 2001 had a population of 33.  It might be a small village but they make a pretty great Super Tuscan wine.


This blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is a winner.  It is priced less than $20, so it’s super affordable and the wine is perfect to pair with pizza, spaghetti and meatballs or any Italian food you might be craving.  I enjoyed the 2013 vintage, and will definitely buy it again.


The next Limited Find is from California, and I got to try both the Cabernet Sauvignon and this Pinot Noir, which I bought.  The Cabernet was delicious because the tannins weren’t sharo and the flavours shone through.  Finding great Pinot Noir under $20 can be challenging, but this one hit it out of the ball park.  This Pinot Noir  is very elegant and light in color but full on flavour.

And now my wine of the week….


A few months back, I wrote about the Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon, as it won an award at our Port of Wines Show in September.  Recently, I bought this Zinfandel from Kenwood and it’s fabulous.  Kenwood produced its first vintage of this Zinfandel back in 1970 so they have been perfecting it for many years.  Sonoma County is very well known for producing high quality Zinfandel grapes and this is a fantastic wine at just $22 a bottle.  I enjoyed this last weekend with baby back ribs and it was heavenly.


Leo loved watching movies with cats in them.   Here’s to a one of a kind !

Till next week, Cheers


Hooray for Wines from the U.S.A.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 3, 2018 by darmyers

American wines

Our local liquor store is having a promotion called ‘Get to Know American Wines’ and they have bought in some new wines for us to try.  I think the U.S.A. is putting out some mighty fine wines, California and Oregon are two of my favorite regions.  Did you know the first grapes in Washington State were planted in 1825 by the Hudson Bay Company?  And although all 50 States produce wine, but California accounts for 90% of all Wine production in the United States.


In addition to Pinot Noir, Oregon is putting out some great Riesling wine.  I love Riesling, it is my favorite wine to pair with spicy food of any kind.  This Firesteed originates from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, which is more known for its Pinot Noir.  The Pacific Ocean really adds an interesting micro climate to the wines from this region, giving them complexity.  They are not flat boring wines, and this Riesling is a prime example.  You’ll love the flavors of pears and apples and the crisp acidity makes this wine perfect in so many ways.


One of the new wines bought in for this promotion is this wonderful Rosso Di Ca Momi.  A great wine for under $20.  If you look on any site, they will recommend ribs for this wine, and the minute you taste it, you’ll understand why.  As soon as I had my first sniff, I detected Zinfandel and Merlot, which are two great choices for ribs.  As it turns out, this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot and Petite Sirah and it’s priced under $20.  It was a fantastic wine and since ribs are on the menu for me tonight, I am going to pick up another bottle.  However, this wines pairs deliciously with any BBQ fare, steak ir pulled pork.

My wine of the week sent me to heaven


From the Robert Mondavi Private Selection comes this Cabernet Sauvignon that has been aged in bourbon barrels.  This is one wine to sip and savour, it’s that good.  And I want to give you a heads up that I wanted to buy a second bottle yesterday evening and my local store was all sold out.  So if you see a bottle, grab it!

Aging bourbon in oak barrels is a very time-honored tradition, and Mondavi is buying the barrels from a well-known bourbon producer in Kentucky.  This wine was fantastic.  You can detect notes of the bourbon, and although I’m not a bourbon drinker out of the glass, I loved what it added to the wine. I am showing a picture of the wine in the glass, because it’s such a bold beautiful color.  It will probably come as no surprise how rich this wine is, with distinct flavors of smoke, chocolate and a tinge of brown sugar.  This was a treat.  And it sells for about $22 so it’s an affordable treat.

Wine Cat

That’s it for me for this week!  Have a wonderful weekend everyone.  Till next week, Cheers



5 Fave Wines for $15

Posted in Uncategorized on February 24, 2018 by darmyers

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This blog may seem a little strange for my readers not only in the United States but in Europe as well.  $15 buys some pretty good wines outside of Canada.  I read a wonderful blogger out of the States called ‘Reverse Wine Snob‘,  who writes all about how wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be good.  And he is absolutely right.  However, he has more selection of great wines under $20, than we do here in Canada.  For example, a couple of years ago I was in Florida with my sister, and I was buying this beauty for $7.

This wine, Ravenswood Zinfandel is $20 where I live.  And in Italy last year, we were paying about $7.50 Canadian for the fantastic Banfi Centine Rosso.

It too is priced at $20 here at our liquor store.  So you see, for us Canadians, finding good wine at the $15 price point can be quite challenging.  So today’s blog, all the wines are priced at $15 or less here in Eastern Canada.  And $15 is a nice price point.  People are a little more apt to risk trying a new wine at $15.  I know I am.  I would love feedback from people elsewhere as to what they pay for the wines I talk about today.

5.  Don David Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon or Reserve Malbec from Argentina $15

Don David

Our local liquor store carries 2 wines from the Don David Reserve line, one is a Cabernet Sauvignon and one is a Malbec, and they are both priced at $15, and they are both very good.  This is actually a very good deal for us, because they are priced a $1 or $2 more expensive elsewhere in Canada, which is unusual.  Plus, the Cabernet is $2 off right now, so it’s $13 so you can afford to grab a couple.  The Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied with blackberry and smoky notes and the Malbec is medium to full-bodied with toasty spicy notes.  Both are very good.

4.  Beringer  Pinot Grigio California $12.99

Beringer Pinot

Established in 1876 by two brothers, Jacob and Frederick Beringer, this vineyard has a great reputation for great wines.  This Pinot Grigio is crisp and fresh with notes of pear and citrus.  It makes a great wine to pair with appetizers, shellfish, and pasta done with oil.   Many of my friends here in the apartment building, drink Pinot Grigio, and they will tell you it’s delicious all on its own.

3. Carmen Reserve 1850 Premier Merlot  Chile  $14

Carmen vineyards were started in 1850, which is where the name of this regal wine comes from.  It is Chile’s first winery and this wine was designed to pay tribute to that.  It’s aged in barrels, seductively smooth and a medium to full-bodied Merlot with soft tannins.  It’s also a very balanced wine and it’s super food friendly.

2.  Anciano Tempranillo Spain $15

Anciano aged 7 years

One wine critic called this wine ‘poetry in a bottle’ and many people have told me this is a staple in their home and in their wine rack since being introduced to it.  This is a fantastic wine at a fantastic price point.  The grapes are harvested from 30-year old vines and aged in a cellar for 7 years before release.  Do you know what that kind of care does for a wine?  It makes it incredibly elegant and smooth. This particular wine is also extremely food friendly.  This wine pairs with anything you would like to put on the plate.   Believe me, this was almost #1.

  1.  Palo Alto Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere Shiraz $15 Chile


This snuck into 1st Place on my list for a couple of reasons.  It’s new, it’s only $13 right now, because locally it’s $2 off.  And the blend of the 3 grapes makes for a deliciously complex wine.    As you can see, I’m not the only person that thinks this is a great wine.  Well known wine critic James Suckling gave this wine 90 Points.  It’s 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Carmenere and 20% Shiraz, and the combination brings structure and layers of great taste.  A great wine for your favorite comfort foods.

Wine Betty white

Here’s wishing you a great weekend.   Till next, Cheers


Heritage Wines for Heritage Day

Posted in Uncategorized on February 17, 2018 by darmyers

Long weekend 3

Here in Nova Scotia, it’s a long weekend as we celebrate Heritage Day.  What’s not to love about having Monday off.  And what’s even better is there is an extra evening you can enjoy a glass of wine or two guilt free.  I thought I would share some of my favorite ‘Heritage’ wines for this long weekend wine blog.



A couple of years ago I had the most wonderful trip to Hawaii!

6E948C90-D686-4A73-A07B-80D1F74B72F5 That trip to Hawaii was one of my all time favourites, I went with my sister and her family and her brother-in-law Guy and his wife Tracey.  And the same group is heading to Barbados this year.  I can’t wait, but I digress.

Let’s get back to the wine.


One of the reasons I loved Hawaii so much, is that we drank a lot of wine from this Vineyard! It was so well priced in Oahu, and we bought it from a convenience store. One of my favourites is this particular one.  Robert Mondavi Heritage Red Blend is a winner.  This is a spectacular value at $20 a bottle  and a wonderful blend of Syrah, Merlot with a touch of Zinfandel.  Great BBQ wine, and a great wine for long weekends!

A couple of years ago I got to meet William Hardy, a 5th generation winemaker from Hardy Wines in Australia.


This winemaker makes an incredible Riesling.


Just to clarify, this winery also produces a Riesling Gewurztraminer blend, but I’m not a big fan of Gewurztraminer.  I like the stand alone HRB Riesling.  Riesling is my favourite wine to have with Thai food, but it’s also a great compliment to seafood, appetizers and salads.  This crisp fresh Riesling has notes of kiwi fruit  and lime and is best served chilled.

Last but not least,  let’s head to the Cote du Rhone region of France where Heritage reigns supreme.


Cote du Rhone is home to Chateauneuf du Pape, known to many as the wine of all wines.  This Ogier Heritage Chateauneuf is a pretty good value at $50 because these wines can sky rocket in price.   If you love the flavours of Chateauneuf, but don’t like the hefty price  tags, have I got a treat for you!


From the same vineyard and winery, comes the very affordable Heritage Cote du Rhone.  Also made with Grenache,  this wine has great fruit flavours and spicy notes, but it comes in at just $19 a bottle.   Fantastic wine for a fantastic price!


Wherever you are, I hope it’s a long weekend!

Till next week, Cheers



The Wines of Umberto Cesari

Posted in Uncategorized on February 10, 2018 by darmyers


This is Umberto Cesari, who started producing wine in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy in 1964.  This past week I had the honor of meeting and learning from his eldest son, Gianmaria.  One can’t help but notice the resemblance to his Dad.


Emilia Romagna is about 60 kilometres away from Florence in Tuscany, and known for parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar.  It also has a reputation for high yielding pleasant wines that aren’t of the highest quality, but drinkable at lunch and dinner.  Umberto Cesari set out to change that with a focus on quality.  For example, this winery is only one of 6 wineries in Italy to own an Optical Grader, which uses an electronic eye to separate the best grapes.  The Moma Rosso red has been a favorite of mine for a while now, but I had the opportunity to try more of these wonderful wines.

Umberto Cesari Wines

I’m going to start with a fantastic white.

009 Liano white

The Liano Bianco is a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, 2 of my favorite white grapes.  On the nose I noticed smoky flint aromas and then learned this wine is fermented in oak. This is highly unusual for a white wine as most are fermented in stainless steel and I loved what it did to the wine.  It was super smooth and you get some vanilla notes from the oak but it still wasn’t ‘oaky’.  This wine would be a great compliment to fish.

Moma red

I’ve written about the Moma Rosso red in a previous blog,  it was my wine of the week because of the spectacular value.  This wine is priced under $20.  So I’m going to move along to the pinnacle of great red wine- the Liano Red.

LIano red

Named after the hill where the grapes grow, I had this blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon a couple of weeks ago, but hadn’t had the opportunity to write about it until now.  This is the best wine I’ve tasted in a while, and I’m not just saying that because I got invited to the tasting.  There are gorgeous spicy notes complimenting the luscious fruit and a nice long finish but not aggressively so.  I can’t say enough about this wine, except love love love!  I am having this wine again tonight as I am doing barbeque ribs on the grill.

And last but not least….


Umberto Cesari Tauleto.  A blend of 90% Sangiovese Grosso (a clone of Sangiovese) and 10% Uva Longanesi.  Say that grape 3 times really fast.  Uva Longanesi is a grape that is native to the Emila Romagna region of Italy and we don’t get to experience it much in Canada.  It didn’t even receive grape status with the National Register of Grape Varieties until the year 2000.  This grape is known to add structure to a wine and I believe helped make the Tauleto the King of Wines.  On the nose I picked up notes of balsamic vinegar and some spice and couldn’t help but notice the great structure on the palate.  They don’t make a lot of this wine, as it uses the best grapes and best juice from the area.  So if you see a bottle, pick it up!  Coming in at around $45, this wine is worth every penny.


A big shout out to Nancy Johnston, the rep for Univins and Spirits, for the invitation.  It was greatly appreciated to learn from this great winemaker.

Till next week, Cheers



The Top 5 Wines for Winter

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27, 2018 by darmyers

Wine in winter

It’s another chilly one today, woke up this morning to -13°.  My favorite part of winter?  Comfort food and wine!  I’m all about the comfort food this time of year.  I like the hearty beef stews, casseroles and mashed potatoes as my favorite side dish.  It’s a good thing I run.  So I’m going to share my Top 5 favorite wines for winter, which happen to pair very well with comfort food.

  1.  Syrah


This was my wine of the week last week, based on tasting it in my favorite liquor store.  I went back the next day and bought a bottle for Saturday night.  I was barbecuing that night and this was the perfect fit.  I’m not the only one, as many critics have given this wine 95 points.  Great deal.  The next day I made a pot of beef stew in my crock pot… it fit even better.

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Syrah tends to be more on the full-bodied side with intoxicating aromas and flavors on the palate.  The structure and hint of spice is a perfect food wine, however, I have to share that this wine tasted pretty good on its own.  After all, you have to sip on something while your cooking…. who’s with me?

2.  Zinfandel

Zinfandel comes in many forms.  It can be a stand alone, like this 7 Deadly Zins….

7 Deadly Zinbs

Or as part of a blend… like this Bogle Blend

Bogle blend

Zinfandel is a great wine for comfort food.  Regular readers of my blog know I love Zinfandel with barbecue fare, especially ribs, but it also pairs well with hearty meats like lamb.  These great wines come in both medium and full-bodied versions, with big juicy flavors and notes of black pepper.  You can understand why it pairs so well with meat dishes.  Who doesn’t love black pepper on their comfort food!

3.  White Burgundy (Chardonnay)

I know most people think a heavily oaked Chardonnay is the best white wine for your sturdy comfort foods.  And if that’s what you like it will work fine, but for my friends who don’t like heavily oaked wine, there are more options out there, one of them being white Burgundy.  When you buy a white Burgundy, it is Chardonnay in the bottle, but the french winemakers in this part of France know how to make Chardonny where the fruit shines.

Take for example this Premier Cru Montagny.  Montagny is the southernmost area in the legendary Cote Chalonnaise, known for exemplary wines.  This wine is a great value at just $36, because it is Premier Cru.  The Cru’s, Grande and Premier, tell us it is exceptional wine.  As a matter of fact, it tends to be the finest wines produced in the region.  So to get a Premier Cru for this price is extraordinary.  This wine boasts flavors of apple and caramel with notes of citrus, and would be a great wine for your favorite comfort food.

4.  Malbec

I’m having so much fun re-discovering Malbec.  Like you, sometimes I get stuck on a varietal and I like buying that same varietal from different countries and different winemakers.  Recently I tried Malbec again and remembered how well it pairs with everything.


This is the Malbec that had me falling in love all over again.  Another 95 pointer from many critics and worth it.  Gorgeous structure, rich fruit and spicy notes.  Goes with every winter comfort food you can think of.

5.  Bordeaux Blend

A Bordeaux blend consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and then there’s Malbec, Cabernet Franc and/or Petite Verdot is made part of the blend.  They are full-bodied and rich on the palate and really the perfect steak wine.


The good news is that they can range in price from $20, like the one pictured above, to several hundred dollars.  I love them all.  I love pairing them with comfort food.  If there was a quintessential winter wine, this would be it.

wine forecast

Those are some of my favourite wines for winter.  What are yours?

Have a great weekend everyone.  Till next week, Cheers