A Brand New Beau

For over a hundred years it’s happened on the third Thursday in November.  People anxiously await the arrival of the year’s releases of Beaujolais Nouveau.  I’m not sure if the rush to be first in line is as big a deal as it used to be but it’s definitely still a highly anticipated event circled on many a wine lovers calendar.

So why the third Thursday in November you ask?  Well, this date is defined by French law where the phenomenon began when local winemakers produced a quick maturing wine to celebrate the completion of the harvest with their workers.  Called  Beaujolais Nouveau or Beaujolais Primeur, it was fresh and fruity and easy to drink. As word of the tradition spread more and more people joined the celebration in something that today has become an international event.

This is not a wine that will ever be considered a classic like a well aged Bordeaux, in fact it’s not meant to be kept but drank immediately.  So what’s all the hoopla about?  Made from the Gamay grape, served chilled it’s easy drinking (not something you usually associate with a red wine) so think cheap and cheerful neighbourhood get together or just a reason to throw a party at this time of year.  But even if you’re just planning to have a glass all by yourself this weekend, a big part of the fun is knowing you’ll be linked to millions of other people around the world all doing the same thing.

This year in Ontario the LCBO has 10 for sale with 2 actually coming from Ontario and I hear tell the one from Chateau des Charmes is quite good.  Here’s what they have to offer:

Ontario 
The Fool Reif Estate Gamay Nouveau VQA, 750 mL, $9.95
Chateau des Charmes Generation Seven Nouveau VQA, 750 mL, $11.95

France
Mommessin Beaujolais Nouveau, 750 mL, $13.95
Catalans Primeur Syrah Merlot, 750 mL, $9.95
Jeanjean Syrah Primeur, 750 mL, $9.95
Duboeuf Gamay Nouveau, 750 mL, $8.95

Italy
Negrar Novello Del Veneto, 750 mL, $9.95
Tollo Novello Rosso Terre di Chieti, 750 mL, $8.95

In VINTAGES fine wine and premium spirits sections at select LCBO stores:

France
Beaujolais Villages Nouveau (Joseph Drouhin), 750 mL, $14.95
Beaujolais Villages Nouveau (G. Duboeuf), 750 mL, $14.95

I picked up my brand new Beau today and took him home for dinner (went for the Chateau des Charmes).  But remember don’t wait too long, if you don’t take one home someone else will because these guys are not waiting around.

 

Let us know if you’ve try any, which ones you like or share why you’re not a fan at all.

 

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.

Weather and Wine

As we head into the colder weather most of us are switching from those cool refreshing summer whites to full-bodied reds.  When it’s cold outside we naturally want to hibernate by the fireside with a lovely glass of Cab or Chianti.

But just as the weather changes something in us, so does it affect each year’s vintage. As drought, frost and hail have ravaged Europe’s wine grape harvest, some vintners say this year will be the smallest in half a century.

Some wine makers like Cherie Spriggs of southern England’s Nyetimber Winery have gone so far as to forego the 2012 harvest.

A smaller harvest will definitely be costly to vintners and the approximately 2.5 million European families that make a living off the wine industry.  But just because the harvest is small doesn’t mean the vintage will be bad.  The up side to the bad weather creating a smaller harvest may mean the quality of the wine is better because the flavours are much more concentrated.

But while Europe is dealing with downsizing this year’s production other growers around the world are reporting very good seasons.  Ontario in particular harvested early and according to Grape Growers CEO Debbie Zimmerman, red grapes will be especially good this year, thanks to sweltering conditions promising 2012 will be a very good vintage indeed.

So if you aren’t already do so it’s time to support local. If you haven’t tried an Ontario wine lately check out the VQA section at your local LCBO and give something new a try or head down to Niagara to enjoy a winery tour and pick up something you might only find there.

 

One of my favourites lately was the 2010 Insieme appassimento style red from the Colaneri Winery. In this wine Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot have come “together” to create the perfect sipping fireside wine.  It has a beautiful combination of dried figs, cherry and leather on the nose and goes beautifully with everything chocolate (really – wine and chocolate, could there be a better pairing?). Sadly I just checked and saw this one was sold out but I’ve tried serveral wines from Colaneri and have to say you can’t go wrong if you’re looking for a full bodied red.

What’s your favourite cold weather wine?

 

 

Loving Local

Tundra Lobby Bar

Recently I had a chance to visit the newly renovated Tundra Restaurant and lobby bar in Toronto’s Hilton Hotel.  Quintessentially Canadian from decor to cuisine the restaurant has won several awards in the past.  The textures used to create this new space are visually pleasing, warm and inviting, making both hotel guests and restaurant patrons feel like they’re enjoying a true Canadiana experience with a modern twist.

Chef Kevin Prendergast

Keeping it local on many levels Executive Chef Kevin Prendergast changes the menu seasonally and even has his own herb garden at the hotel.  From salmon to lamb chops, Cornish hen to grilled octopus the menu has something for everyone. I got a chance to sample several things off the fall menu including the seared duck breast which was my favourite.  One thing I noticed on the menu that I really liked was the fact that each dish came with a wine recommendation.

Since so many people get intimidated by trying to select a wine to pair with their meal and this takes away the stress and makes everyone feel like a sommelier.

Seared Duck Breast

Along with international wines they also carry a good selection of Ontario VQA wines and even have a house red and white provided by a Niagara vineyard which they serve at special functions.  So many people are realising its important to support our local growers and its nice to see that along with individuals restaurants are stepping up to the plate.

So whether you’re planning on staying the night or just looking for a place to enjoy dinner with friends, check in and check out the menu.

Wednesday Wine Picks from the WOW

Light and refreshing, with some lovely warm weather still in store for us a nice a chilled Rosé matches with almost any dish. Here’s one I think you might all enjoy.

Triomphe a Triumph

Triomphe Cabernet Franc Rose 2011 gets a vigorous nod this week. I bought a couple of bottles when I took the @iyellow wine tour last month and stopped at Southbrook, a  gorgeous winery in the Niagara region. Neither my husband or I are big Rosé drinkers, but I must admit, this one was really good. Not too sweet, red berry flavours made it  a great choice for a glass with lunch Ono this lovely weekend.

$19.95 Vintages LCBO #279117
But of course just at we head into fall, the weather is often unsettled.  Lots of rain and cooler temps, perfect for curling up with a good book and a glass of Shiraz.
A Shiraz with Legs

Fifth Leg Old Dog New Tricks Shiraz

This medium-bodied red from Devil’s Lair Winery in Western Australia is cherry and spine and everything nice. I have had their their Shiraz, Merlot, Cab before and it one a blind tasting among friends even up against some much pricier options. Definitely worth a try especially at is price.
 $15.95 LCBO #281345

Wine, Women & Song

In August we were invited to bring our husbands on a wine tour organized by Ange Aiello of iYellow Wine Club.  Even though we’ve been down to Niagara many times who were we to turn down such a lovely invitation.  Having never met Ange and not knowing anything about iYellow Wine Club we weren’t really sure what to expect.  We figured there would be a bunch of couples around our own age and were quite surprised to find most of those on the tour were women around the age of 30.

We had no idea that demographic had such a great interest in wine but soon realised even if they didn’t know anything they wanted to learn and they had a definite interest in FUN.

Ange did an amazing job of making everyone feel welcome and a part of the group.  She was extremely informative about everything to do with wine and the vineyards we were planning to visit, without sounding like a wine snob.  She kept us entertained, had the bus singing along to the music she played and kept everyone well fed with a variety of snacks that included everything from candy, to fruit and baked goods.

Sampling some bubbly at Chateau des Charmes

We visited 3 wineries that day, Southbrook Vineyards, Chateau des Charmes and Vineland Estates even enjoying a delicious lunch at Southbrook.  It seemed everyone enjoyed themselves and the wine tastings with most people returning home with a good selection of Niagara wines.Membership is free and not only does iyellow wine club offer tours, but classes and wine events. They have over 10,000 members and it’s a great way to meet other wine lovers.  Ange has kindly offered a great discount (15%) to any of our readers so we wanted to let you all know about it.

You can now sign up for their Fall Wine Tour lineup taking place in September and October.  On each of the 4 tour dates they’ll be visiting 3 different wineries and along with sipping amazing wines, you’ll be able to witness the harvest in action and take photos of the beautiful fall colours – so these are tours not to be missed.

Here’s a list of the wineries for each date:

Sept 22: Henry of Pelham, Jackson Triggs, Chateau des Charmes
Sept 29: Flat Rock Cellars, Inniskillin, Vineland Estates
Oct 13: Tawse Winery, Pillitteri, Trius Wines @ Hillebrand
Oct 20: Reif Estates, Southbrook Vineyards, Peninsula Ridge

In order to get your 15% discount, log onto the iYellow website (www.iyellowwineclub.com) and access the tickets through the Wine Tours tab. When you have selected your tour date and are ready to purchase your tickets you will be prompted to enter the promo code (women15).

Wednesday Wine Picks

My Favourite Catalogue

I love when the new Vintages magazine comes out – it’s full of promise and possibilities.

Castello di Bossi  C. Berardenga Chianti Classico 2009 was my find for the weekend. I’ll be picking up another bottle this Saturday, and I highly suggest it, if you’re looking for a something big and flavourful.  James Suckling calls this a big juicy red – full bodied with round tannins and gave it a whopping 92 points. It really grabbed me and so did the price, at  $22.95, I  sipped and savoured my way to happiness.

And if you’re looking for a couple of nice whites here’s what I recommend:

Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc 2011from New Zealand, was a great surprise. Super crisp

and lively for a warm afternoon. Very aromatic with lots of citrus and grassy notes. And the price is equally mouth watering at $15.45.

The second has an equally attractive price point. The  O’Leary Unoaked Chardonnay 2011 produced with Brian Schmidt of Vineland Estates. Though not typically impressed by celebrity wine, this one is really good! Crisp, fresh with citrus notes, it is a terrific buy at $14.95. I picked up a bottle when I visited the winery last month, but it goes on sale at the LCBO Sept.16th.

Winemaker Brian Schmidt in the cellar at Vineland Estates
Photo courtesy of Shawn McCormick @uncorkOntario

Final weekend pick will have to involve a gorgeous trip to Niagara on the Lake because it is not available at the LCBO only at the winery? It is the Vineland EstatesPinot Meunier 2011.  I am not all too familiar with this varietal described as the  less  sibling to Pinot Noir. It is light bodied,strawberry aromas and simply delicious at $17.95.