Cheers to Chardonnay; Celebrating A Day In Your Honour

With 400,000 acres of this vinifera varietal planted around the globe there’s a world of Chardonnay to choose from.  For a time consumers shied away from this once popular wine because many felt it was being over-oaked and people’s palates were craving something a little more crisp and cool.

Ontario Chardonnay_2But over the last few years Chardonnay has made a big comeback especially those from cooler climates. As Ontario’s (and the world’s) most popular grape from unoaked to Chablis style there’s a wide range of styles to suit everyone’s taste.

It’s so popular again, that today, winemakers, cellar masters, sommeliers, and wine lovers around the world will celebrate International Chardonnay Day.  There are lots of ways to join in the celebration online Twitter is @coolchardonnay with hashtags #chardday and #14c2013. Facebook is /CoolChardonnayCelebration, and Pinterest is pinterest.com/i4c.  Many wineries will have special offerings today but if you can’t make it out to one, just chill a bottle, crack it open and toast this new trend that everyone seems to be enjoying and join in the online party.

Ontario ChardonnayHere in Ontario, today marks the kickoff to the Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration taking place July 19-21 in Niagara.  Sixty-two winemakers from 11 countries will offer up a taste of the world’s best chardonnay to wine enthusiasts at events ranging from intimate vineyard lunches to the main event “The Cool Chardonnay Wine Tour”.

If you’re looking for information on Chardonnay Day activities and the i4c (International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration) you’ll find it here www.coolchardonnay.org

How will you celebrate today?

 

 

Wine Excuses: As if you need one….

excusesdBefore getting to a few wine picks for the week, I have to share a few tidbits from a book I picked up on the weekend. It’s called  “50 Excuses to Have a Glass of Wine” by Susanna Geoghegan.  I thought it could be a cute little stocking stuffer. But I opened it and LOL, so here are a few backup excuses should you find yourself in need.

It’s time to have a glass of wine because…I need an afternoon Napa.

It’s time to have a glass of wine because…I need more room in the fridge.

It’s time to have a glass of wine because…I’m SURE the doctor said it was good for me.

It’s time to have a glass of wine because…it still won’t fit tomorrow.

It’s time to have a glass of wine because…the recipe needed a teaspoon (it’s a shame to waste the rest).

It’s time to have a glass of wine because…I need to be 100% sure it tastes good before sharing.

It’s time to have a glass of wine because...my bridesmaid dress is lovely…It really is.

It’s time to have a glass of wine because…the fate of the wine industry depends on me.

It’s time to have a glass of wine because…there’s room for one more bottle in the recycling bin.

And my personal favourite….

It’s time to have a glass of wine because…I am doing this purely for research purposes.

And if you are looking for a few weekend picks that are excuse worthy:

mudhouse
Mad about Mud House

Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2010 The Woolshed Vineyard Marlborough, New Zealand  $19.95   I tasted a terrific New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc called Mud House. It is so aromatic, you could be tempted to dab a little behind the ears. Passionfruit, citrusy, freshly cut grass. It is definitely worth picking up at Vintages. 

Le Ragose 2008 Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC  Veneto, Italy $19.95

la rogose
Recommending this Ripasso

This is my  value red for the weekend. It is full-bodied and smooth. I didn’t decant, but my aerator did the trick and it was delicious. Now I had it with absolutely the wrong food according to conventional  pairing wisdom. This should be perfect with a burger – I had it with salmon, but it tasted pretty darned good just the same.

And what would my picks be without at least one splurge? My husband can stop reading now….

seralunga
Bold and Beautiful Barolo

Fontanafredda Serralunga D’Alba Barolo 2007 DOCG Piedmont, Italy $39.95

This vineyard is located on the former hunting grounds of the first king of Italy. This star of the Nebbiolo grape is full-bodied and firm, worthy of a hearty piece of beef. This one received a triple crown of 90+ ratings with notes of vanilla, spice and roses.  It is truly  a lovely wine.

 

Enjoy your wine picks!

 

 

Celebrity Winemakers: Star Studded Labels

The trend of celebrities owning wineries or lending their name to a wine isn’t new but it seems more and more are investing time and money into the vine.  After reading that Hollywood’s power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will be releasing a new wine called Miraval from their French Chateau next month I was curious about who else with a famous moniker was putting their face or name on a label.

When it comes to Canadian celebrities there’s a couple that have been around for a while along with some newer additions. There’s golfer Mike Weir who in the spring of 2005 launched Mike Weir Estate Winery, actor Dan Aykroyd who in partnership with Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits launched his wine in 2007, and of course the great one; hockey legend Wayne Gretzky whose wines you’ll find both at the LCBO and online. The latest addition of famous Canadians getting into the wine business is of course Mr. Wonderful, billionaire investment guru Kevin O’Leary.  But whether or not they’re actually involved in the wine making process or just broadening their brand they’re definitely helping to bring recognition to Ontario wines around the world.

Some celebrities actually come from families with a long history of winemaking like director Francis Ford Coppola whose grandfather Agostino Coppola, used to make wine in the basement of his New York apartment building.  Now, the man behind the famous Godfather trilogy is also directing things behind the scenes at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

Steve & Francis Ford CoppolaLis and her husband Steve had a chance to visit the winery and she says driving through the gates is like entering the Disneyland of Sonoma.  Wine lovers, film geeks and and day trippers languish on lounge chairs surrounding the pool. Welcome to Casa Coppola where you can rent a Cabana and pool privileges for the day. You can pop inside for a taste of vintage Francis, either at the bar or the museum upstairs. “We took home a couple of  bottles from the Director’s Cut line. Oh, did I mention there was a shop with Mama Coppola’s spices, Francis signature panama hats and other memorabilia?  My husband also got the t-shirt which thankfully he wasn’t wearing when he met his idol at Coppola’s Cafe Zoetrope in San Francisco. That was last May. He is still talking about it.”

Then there’s Andrea Bocelli whose family has been making wines for over 130 years, long before the singer became famous for his music.  Now he and his winemaker brother Alberto together run Bocelli Family Wines located in Lajatico, Tuscany, in the province of Pisa.

sam-with-tp-newOthers are wine enthusiasts who start small and somehow their passion becomes more than a hobby.  Such is the case with actor Sam Neill probably best known for his role in Jurassic Park but who may now be even better known for his famously splendid wines.  But combining his two loves he often stars in what he calls microdoodles, short vignettes about winemaking and his beloved winery Two Paddocks in New Zealand.  I had the pleasure of meeting him some years back and have to say his Pinot Noir was some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

There’s certainly quite a list of celebrity winemakers but here’s a list that might surprise you:

acdc-wineAC/DC– Turn up the tunes because now you can blast “Highway To Hell” while sipping the Australian rockers Cabernet Sauvignon by the same name. Their other musically inspired wines, include ‘Back in Black’ Shiraz, ‘Thunderstruck’ Chardonnay and ‘Hells Bells’ Sauvignon Blanc.  Produced by Australia’s Warburn Estates it’s recently become available in the US but is not available yet in Canada.

318025_426591957411188_1286107301_nDrew Barrymore – inspired to create a wine in honour of her family.  The multiply award-winning actress is more than just a pretty face and her Pinot Grigio from Italy’s Veneto region is also a winner getting a Gold Medal at the 2012 Sunset International Wine Competition. Her website says she’s a fan of crisp fruity white wines and created this Pinot to reflect her style and personality.  If you were trying to match people to their wine personality I think that’s totally how I would see her.

Emilio Estevez – who together with is wife tend the vines at Casa Dumetz in Los Alamos, California 

Fergie – Not the Duchess but of The Black Eyed Peas who owns a wine label called Ferguson Crest which she started in 2006.  Fergie’s dad is the viticulturist on the 6 acre estate winery and with the help of winemaker Joey Tensley they’ve even created a 2011 vintage called “Fergalicious”.

Sting – the rocker and his wife, Trudie Styler founded Il Palagio more than a decade ago. A beautiful Tuscan villa where they spend every summer they have 3 wines available, “Sister Moon”, “When We Dance” and the one pictured here, “Casino Delle Vie”.  Named after a property on the estate and when translated it means “little house by the roads”.

There’s certainly many more out there and I’m sure the trend will continue. And let’s face it, if I had the resources that Brad and Angelina had I’d own my own French Chateau as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Bubbly For Your Buck

Since we don’t profess to be experts just wine enthusiasts, sometimes when it comes to recommendations we look for a little help from our friends.  And because our main love is big bold reds we figured if we wanted to add some cheer to your New Year we’d better get some advice.

 

Ange-about-usThis summer we met Ange Aiello the founder of iYellow Wine Club, a social wine club based in Toronto with monthly wine events, wine tours and newsletters.  With over 4000 members, they count on Ange to know her stuff and she definitely does, especially when it comes to local. And we say what better way to boost the economy than by buying local.

Ange is fun, charming and bubbly so who better to suggest the perfect bottle to pop on New Year’s Eve.  From the budget basics to the luxurious here’s her list:

Affordable and fun bubbly
1- Mionetto Prosecco – Italian and delicious $11.95
2- Moscato Spumante – sweeter and sparkly $12.95
3 – Wolf Blass – traditional method, dryer and a great with lots of appetizers $17.95
4- Trapiche Sparkling Brut – $11.95

Local Bubbly
1- Peller Estates Ice Cuvee Rose $32.95 – Sparkling wine made like champagne with cabernet Franc Icewine
2 – Chateau Des Charmes Brut $23.95 – dry and delicious
3 – Jackson Triggs Entourage Brut – perfect for the holidays
3 – Casa Dea Brut – $18.95 – A great local bubble from Prince Edward County
4 – Henry of Pelham Rose Catherine – declious and perfect and pink!
5 – Sparkling Icewine – $79.95 – a delight to share and spoil with, start or end a meal with!

Luxurious Bubbly – Champagne (From France and over $40.00)
1- Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne $67.85
2- Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne $59.95
3- Nicholas Feuillatte Brut Champagne $44.55

Ange also shared her suggestions on Canada AM recently and if you want to watch the video here’s the link http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=832987&playlistId=1.1090712&binId=1.815911

She’s also got a couple of upcoming ice wine tours to Niagara in January that should be a blast so check out the wine club if you’re interested in tagging along.

imagesEven though sparkling wines and champagne are what we know best the one thing we do know is they go with everything. So whether you’re just popping the cork to cheer in the New Year or pairing it up with dinner nothing makes you smile like tiny bubbles tickling your taste buds.

So raise a glass and celebrate the New Year with us as we will be thinking of all of you.  May  2013 be an outstanding year not just for the vintages you choose to drink but also for you, your family and all your friends.

Cheers!

 

 

 

Weekend Wine Picks

This weekend’s picks are all about the marriage of good taste and good value. We had a little get together for 50 last week to mark a special birthday at work and I offered to pick up the wine. We didn’t have much of a budget, so creativity was required. Considering we are barrelling towards party season, I thought I would share a few of the picks for this weekend or for your next party.

A Sparkling that Sparkles

Jackson-Triggs Entourage Grand Reserve 2008 is a  bubbly that is worth a celebration. The crisp clean sparkling fine bubbles are  produced in the  Methode Classique which you only care about because it makes a sparkling so delicious you could easily compare it with a much more costly champagne. The taste is luxurious but at $22.95 a bottle, the price is not.

 

 

Some Red Crowd Pleasers

Montes Pinot Noir Limited Selection 2010 Casablanca Valley of Aconcagua, Chile at 14% alcohol was my personal favourite. Deep ruby colour, tastes of red berries – strawberry, raspberry, along with plums and herbs – I found it simply delicious and kept heading back for more. Well worth the $14.95 price.

 Rocca delle Macie Vernaiolo Chianti DOCG 2009

Medium-bodied with dark berries  and spice well balanced and perfect for the pasta that was on the menu. 12% alcohol. Rocca delle Macie is one of my favoruite producers because on their website they pair wine and song – this one apparently goes perfectly with Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone.  A tasty temptation at $13.95

Winning Whites

Inniskillin Unoaked Chardonnay 2009

Inniskillin Unoaked Chardonnay  VQA Niagara Peninsula 2009  This wine came highly recommended – zippy, refreshing with citrus, green apple and melon hints. At only $10.95, it was a top choice of white among the party goers. Good thing I cleaned out the shelf. But clearly others had the same idea, when I returned there was none left. The good news – you can order the 2010 Core Series Unoaked Chardonnay online at www.Greatestatesnioagara.com .

 

 

Babich Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Marlborough – From the land of the crisp whites that I have spent many a Saturday afternoon with – this New Zealand wine is herbal and grassy with flavours of gooseberries. Alcohol level is 13% and a sweet price at $14.95.

 

Those are my picks for the weekend. If you have tried a good valued party wine, please share.