Bordeaux Part 1

Our fun & friendly group

Where do I start? I just got back from the trip of a lifetime. A River Cruise aboard the Ama Waterways ship Amadolce. The river cruise definitely made the experience, with the amazing staff and spectacular food and wine. But I can’t go any further without thanking Richard, Gary, Duane and the staff of Atlantic Tours & Travel. We ran into some difficulties getting over there, with a delay from the start in Halifax, but Richard made it all stress free for all the guests. I cannot say enough about Atlantic Tours. I am living proof that when it comes to their slogan of ‘Worry Free World Travel’, that they not only talk the talk, but they walk the walk. If you are thinking of travelling anywhere, I recommend you check out the website or give them a call.

Richard Arnold & my friend Cathy

If this lady looks familiar, it’s because I went to Italy with Cathy 5 years ago, and she was on this trip. I love travelling with Cathy, and she has the most courageous palate of anyone I’ve ever met. She inspires me to try new things. Thanks to Cathy, I tried Carpaccio for the first time, which is an Italian appetizer that has thinly sliced raw beef and herbs tomatoes.

Carpaccio

And Duck

And I finished both dishes. I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about all the wines I tried, as we can’t get them here. I did enjoy many reds

As well as white wine. I liked most, there were a couple that weren’t my favorite. But that’s to be expected.

France is gorgeous, and the city of Bordeaux is beautiful, day and night. I could do a full vacation in the city of Bordeaux.

France is beautiful
At the airport in Bordeaux

Now I’ll tell you about a wine we can get here.

Il Padrino Rosso

This was an easy to drink wine. It’s Il Padrino Rosso from Italy. Less than $20 per bottle, and if you can’t get this particular brand, try a different brand. Rosso is a red fruity wine from the village of Montalcino in Tuscany, the same village I stayed at when I visited Italy 5 years ago. They are Sangiovese based and sometimes can be blended with other grapes. Give one a try, it’s so food friendly.

That’s it for me for this week. It’s a bit short, still have some jet lag.

Till next week, Cheers

Easter Wine Pairings

It’s not only Easter Weekend, this will be my last wine blog for a couple of weeks. In case you weren’t aware, on Wednesday, I am heading to Bordeaux France to taste some of the world’s finest wines. I’m doing a full tour of Bordeaux, which includes the regions Saint-Emilion, Bourg, Paulliac and Libourne, to name a few.

Now, I know this is a weekend of sweets. I am not a fan of sugary candy and wine, however, I did fine this wine pairing chart for you courageous few who would like to try.

A wine for every candy

So for my last blog in a couple of weeks, I have a great wine for you. I also did a stuffed pork tenderloin and had wings and asparagus. I know, not a meal medley that you’ll see on any menu, but I thought it was tasty. Different textures and flavors, some spicy, some savory, it worked.

Didn’t use the BBQ this time, I used a cast iron frying pan. And I have to admit, I think it’s my new favorite way to do pork tenderloin. Finishing it in the oven. Stuffed it, sealed it with toothpicks, seared on both sides in a hot pan, and put the entire pan in the oven. It took about 15 minutes.

What wine did I enjoy with this meal? I’m so happy you asked. I had a new wine, and it was out of this world delicious.

Three Thieves Cabernet Sauvignon

From the Monterey and Lodi regions of California, this medium to full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon didn’t disappoint. And it’s priced under $21. I loved every sip. The Three Thieves are 3 long time friends, winemakers Joel Gott, yes, this Joel Gott.

The group of 3 also includes Charles Bieler from the Bieler Family Wines, which has a really diverse portfolio, and I’ve enjoyed The Show Cabernet in the past.

The Show Cabernet Sauvignon

The 3rd member of the Three Thieves is Roger Scommegna, who has many titles in addition to winemaker.

These guys also make a Pinot Grigio, a Chardonnay, a Rose, a Pinot Noir and a Red Blend. I will be keeping my eye out for more of the Three Thieves line. Fantastic wines at great prices.

That’s it for me for this week. Happy Easter. Stay well, I will share details of my trip when I return.

Cheers

Darlene

Spring Has Finally Arrived

I don’t want to jinx anything, but I’m sitting here on this Saturday with my patio door open, and birds have been chirping since 6:30 this morning. It would appear Spring has finally arrived. It’s soon time for drinking outside.

I hope to do some of that when I head to France later this month. But in the meantime, let’s look at some affordable wines for Spring.

If you walk into your favorite wine store, you’ll probably see a display for Rose wine. It’s that time.

Rose is a favorite of mine, especially for food pairings. It’s perfect for a lunch / brunch wine or to have with your salad or appetizer of choice.

Gerard Bertrand Rose

I like a dry Rose wine, and this is my favorite Rose wine that I discovered last Summer. Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses is made with mostly red grapes, with limited skin contact. Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah sounds like a favorite Cote du Rhone, and this rose version does not disappoint. It’s round $22 and just a gorgeous rose wine, in a gorgeous bottle, that also makes it a wonderful gift.

Balsamic tomatoes with basil

Food wise I don’t have much for you this week. I made burgers for my work colleagues, and one of the condiments I bought were these tomatoes. One of my work peeps called it the best condiment he’s ever tasted, and started naming other foods these could be used with. They are grape tomatoes, sliced thin, with salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, balsamic glaze and fresh basil. I have a basil plant that is doing very well this Spring. Then I cooked it down a bit, just put it in the corner of my BBQ. I have to say, it was pretty tasty.

And now I’m going to tell you about the wine I had last night, that is one of my new favorites.

Wee Angus Merlot

I have to be honest, I don’t spend a lot of time in the Australian section of the wine store. I find many of the wines over-oaked. However, I took a stroll down that lane because I wanted to try a new wine and I didn’t know what I wanted.

My love affair with Angus the Bull wines started with this one.

Angus the Bull Cabernet

My first experience with this vineyard was Angus the Bull Cabernet Sauvignon. Marketed as ‘red meat’s perfect partner’, it really is. A great steak wine, priced around the $26 mark here.

Then I got introduced to Wee Angus.

Back when I was living in Newfoundland, I was introduced to Wee Angus Cabernet Merlot. Loved it. Priced around the $20 mark.

And now there is Wee Angus Merlot

Wee Angus Merlot

Love love love this wine. I’m going back to buy more today. Priced around $20, this yummy delicious Merlot tastes like a much more expensive wine. Not overly oaky, it’s smooth and juicy and I just loved it. I had it with my supper (pork) and I can’t wait to have it with ribs, or a steak.

True!

That’s it for me for this week. Stay safe. Till next week, Cheers

The Patio Will Have to Wait

As I sit here on the first Saturday in April, I just finished reading a Special Weather Statement from Environment Canada calling for a snow storm on Monday. Halifax could receive up to 25cms. (insert eye roll here). It’s April, it’s time for flowers and rain showers. Well, April for me, brings a trip to Bordeaux France. I leave on Wednesday April 20th, and after 2 cancellations last year of our trip to the Niagara region of Ontario, this trip to Bordeaux France, which was planned 2 years ago, is going ahead.

Bordeaux Wine Region

Bordeaux is known as the Wine Capital of the World. Some of the most expensive wines in the world come from the Bordeaux region of France, including Chateau Lafitte. We are doing the tour of Bordeaux on a riverboat cruise, my first one. I’m very much looking forward to cruising the two rivers of Bordeaux on the Ama Dolce.

Our first stop is in my favorite wine region of France, Saint Emilion. Bordeaux grapes are limited, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and a couple of others. The region is divided into ‘Left Bank’ & ‘Right Bank’, with the Left Bank being Cabernet Sauvignon dominant and the Right Bank being Merlot dominant. Saint Emilion is on the Right Bank, and feature full-bodied juicy Merlot dominant wines. Saint Emilion wines can be expensive but this past week I found a great one at a great price.

Chateau De Courtillac

This is the Chateau De Courteillac is available everywhere in Canada, and is a Merlot Cabernet Franc blend. Delicious. My friend Angie left for a month in Florida yesterday and on Wine Wednesday we got together for a sip. This is the wine we enjoyed. Although we had the 2020, which is young, 2020 is still listed as one of the vineyards greatest vintages. There is still room for aging here. Well structured and full-bodied with lots of fruit, and priced under $18. Not a typo. It’s under $18 a bottle. Try it, I think you’ll really enjoy it.

The other wine I want to tell you about was recommended by my friend Joan Decker Hilton. I was writing about the Bread & Butter Merlot, and she said her husband loved the Cab.

Bread & Butter Cabernet Sauvignon

So last night I had this wine, for the first time, and I loved it. Again, it was a 2020, with lots of time for aging, it was still delicious last night. California has gained a world-class reputation for great Cabernet Sauvignon, and this is a prime example of that. Full-bodied with toasty notes of black pepper and ripe fruit, a great wine to pair with red meat.

That’s it for me for this week. Here’s to a mild April for all my readers. Thank you for reading!

Truth

My New Crush

I have a new crush. It’s crushed grapes, but still. I’m also crushing on these two wonderful people, who I am very blessed to call friends. Friends that are like family.

Angie & Shane

Regular readers have met my friends Shane and Angie in previous blogs. Last night we all got together at my place for dinner. What a great night, friends that are like family, some good food and some great wines.

I was given this gorgeous bottle of Sartori Ripasso by the great group at Univin Wines and my friend Nancy. It was amazing.

My favorite meal

I’ve had this wine previously with my one of my favoite meals. I love baby back ribs, and I really love them when they’re accompanied by crispy hot wings and some chicken fried rice that I made myself. An epic meal like this deserves an epic wine. The Sartori Ripasso is that wine. The 2015 vintage, which we had, is perfectly aged and full of complex notes and flavours. It’s a treat at around $35, but who doesn’t love a good treat.

We consumed a few bottles last night, including this one my friend Shane bought.

2014 La Brutta Cabernet Sangiovese

When I first see a Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese blend, I think of a Super Tuscan wine from Italy. However this wine hails from Australia. When I was doing some research on this wine today, I discovered that the 2014 vintage is the highest rated vintage in this wine, and it was fantastic. my friend Shane, when he retired from the banking industry, found he was a little bored so worked part time at the NSLC for 3 years. He says we don’t carry this wine anymore here, and it’s too bad because it was really really good. This red wine goes through a very unique process of being made, I won’t get into all of it here, but you can read about it by clicking here.

I didn’t take any pictures of the food last night. I was busy consuming some great wine. LOL. I served glazed carrots, rice, a salad and my caprese chicken. Easy and elegant. Here’s the recipe.

Chicken cutlets

I started with chicken cutlets. I buy them, and I love how they are pounded out and the same thickness. It makes cooking them so much easier. I browned them in butter and olive oil in a cast iron frying pan till they were brown on both sides. Then I added mozzarella cheese and grape tomatoes that were soaking in balsamic vinegar and some salt. Put the cast iron frying pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Sprinkled with fresh basil leaves and a balsamic glaze once it came out of the oven. Easy and delicious.

And last but not least, I would like to feature a gift that Shane bought me.

Villa Conchi Cava

Anyone who has been at one of my wine tastings has probably tried this wine. This is my favorite example of a delicious sparkling wine at a fantastic price point. It’s from Spain and it’s bright and vibrant with nutty and citrus notes. It’s nice and dry and not at all sweet.

That’s it for me for this week. Till next week, Cheers