Some Australian Greats!

Today we venture to the land down under.  And discover a few great wines.   First a big thank you to all the readers last week, I am humbled and grateful by how many people read the blog on ‘Tips To Buying Wine’.   So in the past couple of weeks, I have had a couple of great wines from Australia, and they are both reasonably priced.

Peter Lehmann Layers – 2010 from the Barossa Valley.  What an exceptional treat.  It’s on sale right now at my NSLC, but regularly sells for $19.995 here.  Still a great price for this great wine.   Layers is an appropriate name for this multi-dimensional wine.  The label describes it as “Intriguingly complex, Simply beautiful.:”  I couldn’t agree more.  The intense fruit of the Shiraz, the spiciness of Grenache, the earthiness of Mouvedre and the structure of Tempranillo  blend together to surround your mouth with all of the flavours that each grape brings to the wine.  As my friend Rick says, you can actually feel all the layers on your palate.    I love wines from the Barossa Valley known for its Shiraz.  This is a great one that I am looking forward to having again.

Are you planning on having steak in the near future.  Then please try this next wine with it.  Another great wine from the Barossa Valley that I have had the pleasure of enjoying the past couple of weeks is the McGuigan 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon The Shortlist.  You may have heard me talk about McGuigan’s before, the Black Label Shiraz is a great value.

At under $13, it’s easy to drink and one of the best values in any Liquor Store.  This McGuigan is the wealthier cousin , but so worth the money.

I had No 11087 but each bottle  has its own individual number.   It’s pleasure to the senses in a bottle.  At just under $25, I still think this is a great value.  It’s a spectacular complex wine with flavours of blackberry, plum and mint.   Neil McGuigan is a third generation wine-maker and knows what he is doing.   He says 2009 was a mild growing season so that the grapes had a chance to ripen slowly.

Here’s a great steak recipe from Natalie Maclean’s site that I had when I had this wine.  Check out Natalie’s site at  I am one of the wine reviewers for her site.

Grilled Steak with Arugula, Tomato and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serves 6

3 strip loin steaks – 1 inch thick ½ lb baby arugula 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes sliced in half


¾ cup extra virgin olive oil 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar 2 tsp Dijon mustard ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper

To prepare the vinaigrette, simply shake the ingredients in a sealed container.  Layer arugula and tomatoes on a platter or individual plates.

Bring steaks to room temperature and preheat grill to high.  Brush steaks with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill each side for 4 minutes (for medium rare with internal temperature 130-135oF) and let rest for 5 minutes.

Slice the steak along the short side and place on top of arugula.  Drizzle approximately 1 oz vinaigrette per serving on steak and serve.

Delicious!!!  Here’s a food tip.  I have recently discovered spectacular Balsamic Vinegar – from a specialty shop, it’s pricey, but so worth it.  The one I bought was a maple infused Balsamic Vinegar.   I will talk more about good quality Balsamic Vinegars and Olive Oils next week.

Till next week, thank you again for reading.  And Cheers


Wines To Keep You Warm This Winter!

Mother Nature sure has been having fun this year.   A long cold snap, and when it does warm up, we get snow…. and lots of it.  I think it has been the same for most of Canada.

So, here are some new wines I have tried lately to keep those cold nights at bay.  And keep reading for a great recipe of Honey Roasted Potatoes.  How’s that for comfort food.

My friend Sue at the NSLC hit it out of the ball park this week, when she asked me to try the new Rhiannon Red Wine from Rutherford Ranch in the Napa Valley of California.

The 2010 vintage is a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Barbera.  At just under $21, this is my new favorite wine.  The Goddess Rhiannon is a Welsh Lunar Goddess who’s name means ‘Great Queen’ or ‘Divine’.   It is the perfect name for this divine wine.    My first taste, I was thinking ‘medium bodied, fruity, flavours of cherries with a hint of vanilla….And then the explosion of taste happened, where the wine lingered to a magnificent finish.   Low acidity and moderate tannins made for a divinely smooth wine.  Robert Parker called the Rutherford Ranch wines the best value in Napa Valley.   Run, don’t walk, to your closest Liquor Store and get a bottle of this wine.

Rolf Binder Wines - Halcyon Cabernet Merlot 2008

Another spectacular wine I tried this week was the Rolf Binder Halcyon 2008 Cabarnet Sauvignon from the Barossa Valley in Australia.   This wine was a gift from friends and what a great gift it was.  A super smooth wine that combined flavours of blueberries, chocolate, herbs, spices and a nice long opulent finish.   I had this wine with grilled pork and it was a perfect combination.  I also teamed that with Honey Roasted potatoes – talk about comfort food.  I have had many requests for this simple recipe, so here it is.

Honey Roasted Potatoes

You will need:

Potatoes, peeled and quartered.

Diced onion

Melted butter  (don’t use margarine)


Dry mustard

Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Place potatoes in a single layer in the dish and top with the diced onion.

In a small bowl, combine melted better, honey, mustard, salt and pepper.  Drizzle over potatoes and onion.

Bake for 35 or 40 minutes until tender, stirring halfway through cooking time.

Delicious!  Enjoy

Have a great week, stay warm and enjoy the food and wine.


19 Crimes & Baby Back Ribs!

It’s almost criminal how good this wine is and really good value for the money.  I am a fan of a good Shiraz, love it with grilled foods.  And 19 Crimes 2011 Shiraz Durif from Australia did not disappoint.   I love a big red wine in the glass, and 19 Crimes delivered.  With flavors of licorice and a small hint of vanilla, the ripe red fruits were pleasant on the nose and great in the mouth.  I had this wine with BBQ Baby Back Ribs (see recipe below) and they were magnificent together.

I often get asked for my recipes and all my friends know I am not just a lover of wine, but a foodie as well.  I love to cook and it’s a hobby that I practice almost every day.  So, I have decided to include some of my recipes on my blog, especially those that I had with the wine I am featuring.  If the food and wine really compliment each other, I will share the recipe.  The reason I have hesitated to do this, is that I don’t use measuring spoons or measuring cups.  I just add ingredients and test recipes that way.    I am appreciative of any and all  feedback.

Natalie Maclean

The biggest thrill of my week was being asked by Natalie Maclean, Sommelier, wine writer and author of the books ‘Unquenchable’, and ‘Red Wine & Drunk All Over’ to write wine reviews for her website.  I have been a big fan of Natalie’s website and reviews for a long time.  Check out her website at and I know you will become a big fan as well.   This is one of my favorite videos – here she is  with Wolf Blass here on CTV

Thank you again for reading.   I am truly blessed and humbled by the new followers each week, and a big thank you to all of you who share and retweet.



Darlene’s Baby Back Ribs

– Baby Back Ribs with the fat trimmed

About 1/4 cup of Brown Sugar

– A few shakes of Hot Sauce  (I like about 10, but I like the kick)

– teaspoon of minced garlic

– A couple of splashes of Worcestershire Sauce

– Freshly squeezed Lime Juice from half a Lime

– Fresh Ground Pepper

-A splash of orange juice

– Half a bottle of your favorite BBQ Sauce

Combine all the ingredients and slow cook in an 300-degree oven for 90 minutes.  Remove then from the oven and slow grill on the top rack of a BBQ until you get those nice grill marks.  Baste with BBQ sauce.  And Enjoy!