A Wine Lover of Substance

A Man of Substance
A Man of Substance

The world lost a very special man this week. Someone with a passion for life, a passion for music and a passion for wine.

Patrick Vetter was a brilliant musician. He played the sexiest instrument of all, the saxophone, for the likes of Tony Bennett, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin and too many more to mention.

Celine and Patrick
Her Heart Will Go On

In me, he ignited my love of wine that continues to this day.

I remember his first recommendation: Villa Caffagio – a Chianti. I can’t remember the year, but it was delicious and $21.95 a bottle – a fortune compared to the basket-hugging Ruffinos, Black Tower or the $8 a gallon Gamay that my father kept under the kitchen bench for easy access. “Buy a case,” Patrick said.

I did and it was the start of my love affair with Italian wines.

Patrick taught me how to savour wine. Much the way he savoured life. He brought out those little scent bottles to teach me how to recognize the aromas in wine. And like authentic wine people, he always loved to share. Patrick’s wife Helen is my best friend, and whenever I was invited over for dinner (Patrick was also an incredible cook. Helen a master at take-out) he would make an incredible meal and be sure to pull out a special bottle for us to sample. He introduced me to Zenato Valpolicella Ripassa Superiore– one of my favourite wines to this day.

His generosity to his friends and family knew no bounds. Patrick even let me sing with his live band at his 50th birthday party. Those of you who know how badly I sing, will know just how generous that actually was.

Soul Mates
Soul Mates

Helen was the great love of his life. His muse. His best friend. They were soul mates.  He used to tease her that if she didn’t make him laugh once a day, he might have to replace her.  They kept each other laughing  for 26 years….. and kept us laughing too.  Patrick could hold court at a dinner party leaving us all in stitches, his comedic timing spot on.

But last Thursday, for the first time in his life,  his timing was off. Way off.  He passed away suddenly. Far too soon. Far too young. Leaving us with a big hole in our hearts.

I will remember him with love and feel blessed that he was part of my life, for at least a little while.

Grazie, my friend. I hope somewhere you are sipping the Super Tuscan that you so well deserve.  You are  loved by many and will be missed by all.

Patrick Vetter 1957-2015


Fine February Wine Picks

august 19-2014 152
Thrilled about New Italians

I know it’s going to be a good weekend when the message from VINTAGES in my inbox says Hot New Italians (okay I may be using a little poetic license – but that’s how I internalized this week’s theme…Only in Italy: 11 Native Grapes).

My brother in wine, Rob, who curses and blesses me for turning him from a beer guy to a wine lover, went shopping for “a” bottle…or 5.

Some of our worthy picks this weekend:

BIg Beauty
BIg Beauty

Beni di Batasiolo Riserva Barolo 2006  – One of my favourite words in the Italian language – this Barolo it was more than worthy.  It could last for 10 years or more. We decanted for about an hour. Sight, Sniff and Savour all got top scores.  It was a slow sipper because we wanted the goodness to last as long as possible $39.95



A Price-friendly Wine from Piedmont
A Price-friendly Wine from Piedmont

Marenco Suri Dogliani 2011 – just a few kilometres from Barolo in Italy’s Piedmont region, it is a whole lot friendlier to your wallet.  I really enjoyed this wine. It is a well-balanced medium- bodied wine that I would gladly have with a plate of charcuterie or some Italian meatballs.  $17.95



Salcheto Vino Nobile de Montepulciano  2011 $29.95 – Love this wine. A sommelier once told me that a wine often tastes 20% if you have been to the winery. I agree if you like the wine. A great experience will keep that winery in your heart and on your shopping list forever. But it can work in reserve too.  I have been to a few that, in my opinion, were way overrated  and in those cases, I rarely give them a second chance. Salcheto was the former. I have been there a number of times and each time was better than the last…and each visit our wine order was bigger than the last. One of the most environmentally- conscious wineries in Europe. If you are going to be in the Montepulciano area – don’t miss it.

Enjoy and let us know if there is an Italian at your table worth sharing.



The Longest Month of the Year

Climbing Mount Abstinence
Climbing Mount Abstinence

February is here..finally.  It’s been a long dry January – and I really mean dry.

A good friend of mine, who has often been my partner in wine, makes  a point of abstaining for the month, giving her liver a chance to recover after the holiday.

How hard could climbing Mt. Abstinence  be?

Especially after my husband, my brother and two great friends said goodbye to 2014 with some outstanding dinner companions named Barolo, Brunello, Amarone, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and more…14 to be exact,  including a special bottle I was saving from Mission Hill that mistakenly became Bottle #12.

Yes, my liver could use a vacation, too.

The Day After or As One Hungover Friend Put It, “Happy *** New Year”

Suddenly I seemed to become a magnet for every announcement for the latest wines to hit the store. Smart buys! Spectacular Spanish wines. Sigh!

But it was clear sailing… until Friday.

While every day is worthy a good glass of wine, when it comes to Fridays, it should almost be compulsory.  On that first Friday of Abstinence – 5 PM came with no stop at the liquor store on the way home, no perusing the shelves looking for that special bottle or arriving home with a bottle decanting ready to pour while my husband  and I  dissect the week and celebrate the start of the weekend.

OK, I decided  just one bottle wouldn’t be the end of the world  – that’s still half as much as we would normally drink on a Friday. And one more on Saturday. But I survived Sunday.  I believe in celebrating small victories.

A Worthy Brunello
A Worthy Brunello

It pretty much went the same for the whole month. What I did learn, when you are only drinking two bottles a week – you make sure they are really great ones like this Brunello.

You also sip slowly and savour because in two and a half glasses, the bottle’s empty.



An Irish friend of mine said he and his friends  would also take “the pledge” (to avoid alcohol) once a year. But they had the right idea. They picked February, the shortest month.