Wines To Love in January

SO many wines, so little time.

Over the holidays I tried so many terrific wines, I missed a few blogs because I was too busy drinking. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it. Some were spectacular splurges and others were fabulous finds that are budget-friendly. Since getting financially fit is the second most common resolution, this week is dedicated to bottles that won’t break the bank.

vouvrayBougrier Vouvray Chenin Blanc 2012  AOC, Loire, France $13.95 I sampled this wine walking into an LCBO looking for a red or three and I couldn’t pass  up this white charmer.  This wine is a tad sweet but not overwhelmingly so.  Pale gold and fruity with aromas of peach, pear and mango. I really enjoyed this wine, especially at that price. 12% alcohol ,Food Match: Pesto, Rich Seafood  with a little Taylor Swift or Sophie Milman playing in the background.

 

A Stressed Spanish Sensation
A Stressed Spanish Sensation

Buried Hope, Tempranillo 2010, Ribera del Duero, Spain  $19.95 This  wine was a perfect match from the first sip. It’s  rich and full-bodied – fruity with cherry, plums and a touch of spice. It is nicely balanced and will only improve with time. I loved this wine and will be clearing some space for a few extra bottles. 14% alcohol . Food match: Roast Pork, Steak aux Poivre served with some Dave Matthews or Mumford and Sons.

Deep and Delicious
Deep and Delicious

Buried Hope, Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 North Coast, California, $19.95 Grown in the massive area which encompasses the North Coast, this California Cabernet is earthy and smooth. Makes you wish you were sipping a glass in a cottage overlooking the Pacific. Cherry and vanilla notes, nicely balanced. 14.2% alcohol. Food match: meat, meat and more meat – and Foreigner blasting “I’ve Been Waiting”.

A Bargain from South Africa
A Bargain from South Africa

The Pavillion, Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, South Africa, $12.00 I knew nothing about this wine. It came by way of a party. It looked great in the glass – purpley-red with the kind of full-bodied swirl that I am a fan of. Produced by Boschendal Estates, this blend has lovely blackberry and spicy and a pleasure to drink with friends. What surprised me most was the price.  Alcohol 14%  Food match: Roast Beef or a Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and the Rolling Stones with plenty of Satisfaction.

I hope you enjoy these tasty bargains. If you have a favourite value wine, let us know. Coming soon, the wines of B.C’s Osoyoos , wines worth splurging on, and the wines of Sicily.

Wishing you a 2014 filled with memorable occasions and memorable wine!   .

Cheers!

The Maine Event; When life’s a beautiful beach

There are times in many of our lives where the pure joy and bliss you feel is hard to describe. Generally they come from time spent with the ones we love, witnessing a wedding or cradling a new-born baby.  And while those are extremely special moments mine came during a recent trip to a beach house in Maine.

stairsGrowing up I was never one of those girls who spent endless hours giggling on the phone with friends and I seemed to understand the ways of boys better than teenage girls.  But as I get older I greatly cherish the relationships I’ve built with a particular group of women introduced to me by my blog writing partner, Lis. Her extremely giving nature draws people in and over the years she’s generously shared her closest friends with me.  And oh what lovely friends they are…smart, funny, accomplished, beautiful and generous of spirit.

beachFor thirty years Lis and her family have rented a beach house in Maine each summer for a couple of weeks enjoying the sun, sand and warm ocean breeze…ok, occasionally the breeze isn’t so warm since we are talking about the Atlantic.  This year she arranged the house for an extra week themed around wine, women and song and invited 5 friends including myself.

cartThe six of us drove down in a caravan of two cars and the laughter of the road set the tone for the week along with our first shopping trip to the liquor store.  I know it looks like a lot but we thought it would last, ha who were we kidding. There were equal amounts of white and red from around the world and if you’re looking closely even a bottle gin in the corner of the cart to start off cocktail hour.

all on the beachMornings were meant for long walks on the beach (exercise was necessary after all the food and wine) but no pressure if you just wanted to laze around the house and have a second cup of coffee. Days were for sitting in the sun, reading beach books, swimming in the ocean and sipping wine.

lynnOur nights were filled with delicious dinners, more wine and singing along to Lis’ amazing playlist. Some days we even sat on the beach long after everyone else had left just chatting as the sun went down. And as the tide went out again in the late evening we sometimes snuck back down to the beach whispering and laughing as we walked in the dark along the water’s edge.

puzzleIt was all so uncomplicated and easy as if we’d been friends for life.  Everyone chipped in with the cooking and cleaning and there was even a big jigsaw puzzle on the table that everyone just seemed to pick away at in hopes of finding that one elusive piece nobody could find. I’m extremely competitive so it almost killed me to leave before the puzzle was finished.

At the end of the week I was the first to leave and I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and believe when I say I’m not the mushy type. But at a certain age when you start to feel like the world doesn’t see you anymore these women made me feel amazing not only about myself but the possibilities of what life still has to offer.

book&wineSitting there with my toes in the sand, the sound of the waves washing against the shore I realized life couldn’t be more perfect.  So for all the times life lets you down remember there will be other times when life’s a beautiful beach.  We’ve only been apart for a short time but I’m missing my marvelous friends and hope this is the beginning of an amazing new tradition.

 

 

 

 

 

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 Picks: A Quartet under $20

  My, my, my…there were some lovely finds in the tasting room  of LCBO’s Summerhill branch this week. This gorgeous outlet among in my top 10 favourite places in Toronto. (Could even be top 5 !) Not only is it an archtecturally beautiful building, there is plenty of parking and the best Vintages selection,  too. My only complaint – clearly it is the favourite of many wine lovers because the shelves are often cleaned out. Still – here are four under $20 and a splurge. This week I also added some very general food pairing suggestions which I promise, will grow more refined. Cheers!

 2 creative block sauv blanc semillon2 Creative Block South Africa 2011 $19.95

 Great title for a crisp white blend . 2 Creative Block is one of a series of wines by South African producer Spier. The name comes from the Spier Arts Academy Project which involves different artists working together to create something new. Just like a blend. The 2 refers to the two grapes, 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillion blended to create a this Bordeaux-style blend.  It’s fresh and herbaceous.

Food Pairing: Pan-fried salmion, chicken with grilled vegetables

Solaria Rosso di Montalcino 2009, Tuscany $19.95solario rosso di montalcino

Brunello is a thing of beauty but not always in the budget department. Enter Solaria’s Rosso di Montacino – a Brunello light – from the same part of Tuscany, but younger and lighter.  The pretty pale ruby coloured wine is fruity – think black cherries, and delicious – thank you chocolate . It’s nicely balanced that will keep you pouring. Alcohol 13.5%

Food pairing: Pasta with tomato based sauce that has some zing.

Dandelion Vineyard Lion’s Tooth of McLaren Vale 2010 Shiraz/Riesling $19.95lion's tooth mclaren vale

Did you know that the word Dandelion comes from the French  “dent de lion” or Lion’s tooth?  You never know what you are going to learn when researching wine. What attracted me to this one was the blend: 97% Shiraz and 3% Riesling. The colour is a deep dark purple and the taste, big bold and fruity with strong vanilla and mocha notes. Alcohol 15.1%

Food pairing: Barbecue pork chops or ribs.

 

riojaHermanos Pecina Senorio de P.Pecina Crianza 2007 Rioja Alta  $19.95

I do love Spanish wines, but I have not learned enough yet about the producers, so it is always hit and miss. This one is in the hit category and will find its way to the dinner table again. Decanter.com gave it  4 out of 5 and I understand why. This full-bodied blend is 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano and 2% Granacha (Grenache in France) . It’s well-balanced and highly drinkable now or you can hold on to a few for the future.

 Food pairing: Lasagna, spicy dishes, roasted fish

The Splurgemarceau-rhone

 Domaine des 3 Cellier Marceau  Chateauneuf du Pape 2009, Rhone $34.95

When I was sampling some of this week’s finds, a woman beside me tried a French  wine from the Rhone Valley that retails for $290.00.  She said it was good (I certainly hope so!). And the server said you never know and talked about this wine called Marceau that blew him away – at a price that doesn’t replace your grocery budget for the week. Summerhill was sold out, but I found it the next day and it is definitely splurge-worthy. It is a complex wine that packs a traditional Chateauneau du Pape punch at 15% alcohol, but it is very well balanced with lots of big fruit, sweet spice and velvety tannins. Let it breathe for two  hours to get the full flavour.  A great recommendation!

Food pairing: Meat, meat and more meat

Drop us a line if you like one of the picks, or if you have your own suggestion.

Happy weekend wining! Next week will feature some SAQ specialities sampled in Montreal!

 

 

Italian Wines that WOW and other Weekend Wine Picks

Every two weeks, LCBO’s Vintages  delivers a flutter of joy to my inbox. If you are over 40, it’s the same kind of greedy excitement you felt when the Sears’ Christmas Wish Book came to the door. If you are under 40, it could be the Victoria’s Secret, Restoration Hardware or Canadian Tire catalogue that gives you the same kind of thrill. The Vintages online catalogue features the new releases and each edition spotlights one particular region. Last week, joy of joys – the feature: Tuscan Triumphs – featuring  many affordable wines and others that are wishlist worthy.

While I start to make my way through the new releases, a few of them made The Women of WIne’s weekend picks.

Teruzzi & Puthod Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2011 DOCG (Tuscany)

Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2011
Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2011

The Italian white is fresh and lively- think citrus and green apples – pale straw coloured and nicely aromatic with a creamy  texture. The Vernaccia di San Gimignano appellation was the first wine designated DOC – an Italian mark of quality. It was later upgraded to DOCG or quality guaranteed.  The Vernaccia grape is grown in the stunning area surrounding San Gimignano, the Tuscan town declared a UNESCO heritage site. If you have ever seen the movie Tea With Mussolini, starring a trio of British treasures: Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Joan Plowright, part of the film was shot there. Like this wine, the movie too, has a big finish. I won’t spoil it, but definitely worth watching with a glass of this wine in hand.

 Valiano Poggio Teo Chianti Classico 2008 DOCG (Tuscany) 

Valiano Poggio Teo Chianti Classico 2008
Valiano Poggio Teo Chianti Classico 2008

The scent of a good Chianti is one of life’s true pleasures. This deep ruby wine is full of plum, cherry preserves, spice and chocolate notes. Its tannins will make you pucker so decanting is a good idea. This is 100% Sangiovese and comes from Chianti Classico, an area within the gorgeous Chianti region. This wine also has the favourite WOW (women of wine) characteristic. It tastes a like it should cost more than it actually does.  13.5% alcohol. $18.95

 

 

 

Out of the New World WIne

Barista Pinotage WO 2011 (Western Cape, South Africa)

Barista Pinotage
Barista Pinotage

Pinotage is South Africa’s specialty. It is a cross between Cinsault and Pinot Noir and when it is good, it is very very good. The name is highly appropriate. Barista is like sipping from a strong cup of coffee with mocha flavours all wrapped up with red fruit and oak. I have not always been a big fan of Pinotage, but some of the latest releases have been terrific. And at $14.95, so is the price. 13.5% alcohol. Have it with a burger or even biscotti.

 

 

 

Deal of the Week

Vina Alicia Paso de Piedra Malbec 2008 (Mendoza, Argentina)

Vina Alicia Malbec 2008
Vina Alicia Malbec 2008

This is an exceptional value wine. Deep and delicious with black cherries and spice. It is 100% Malbec, the signature grape of Mendoza which produces 70% of the wines of Argentina. This wine is full-bodied and fruity. And if you need an official rating for proof, uber-critic Robert Parker gave it a 92 points. Not bad for $19.95. Buy one for yourself, one to hold and one to gift to someone you love.

 

 

Splurge of the Week: A Few More Dollars But a Lot of Delicious

Poliziano Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano 2009
Poliziano Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano 2009

Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2009, (Tuscany)

Cherries and spice and everything nice – this is a superb example of this noble wine of Tuscany made by Poliziano, one of the region’s top producers. Some refer to Vino Nobile di Montepulciano as a baby Brunello at a more affordable price.  I am a big fan and not just because Montipulciano is one of my favourite places on the planet. Sure, like any type of wine,  some are better than others, but when a Vino Nobile is well-produced – like this one, it is elegant, giving, well-structured  and keeps you wanting more.  It is 85% Prugnolo Gentile (a Sangiovese clone) and 15% blend of Canaiolo, Merlot and Colorino grapes. Pick up a bottle, they are going fast – or even better – get yourself to Montipulciano – it will taste even better. I promise.  14.5% alcohol. $25.96

Have a great weekend. Let us know if you try out one of the picks or if you have another to suggest.

 

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!

 

 

 

Wednesday Wine Picks

I had the chance to taste some delicious wines over the past week and here are a few of my recommendations for the week including a splurge that is extremely worth the price, a couple of super whites and a red that will make you feel like drinking while you are wrapped in a blanket in front of a fireplace. Enjoy.

The Bold and the Beautiful

2007 First Press Cabernet Sauvignon  from the Napa Valley  –  $19.95

Deep Purple – not the music pairing but the colour. This full-bodied California Cab had me humming when my husband tempted me with a taste after work – breaking my weekends only wine at home rule. Blackberry, dark chocolate, mocha – are you getting thirsty yet? Great quality for a decent price. 14.5% alcohol and produced by the Delicato Family – known for other good value Californians. Pairs well with grilled lamb chops and rich pastas.

Music Pairing: Bruce Springsteen all the way. And not just any Springsteen –  Darkness on the Edge of Town or Born to Run.

A Chianti Classico worth the Splurge

Mazzei Ser Lapo Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 $24.95

The Mazzei family has been producing wine under the Castello di Fonterutoli name since 1435. Ser Lapo Mazzei started even earlier and is considered the father of the Chianti name – having authored the first contract for barrels of Chianti. Not surprising there were many more. This deep ruby-red with lovely red fruit aromas and velvety tannins.  James Suckling gave it a 95 and said it was the best Chianti Classico this winery had ever produced.  I popped it open while cooking up a meal of risotto with beef tenderloin. A little more than my average, but so smooth and welcoming, definitely worth the splurge.

Music Pairing – John Mayer

A Classy and Casual White

Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc 2011 17.95

OK I admit it. I totally bought this wine for the label. I have been drinking more Sauvignon Blanc’s from New Zealand recently. But this label with the angel graceful and strong floating above the vines – ok, so I have an imagination – drew the bottle into the cart. These grapes hail from the Western Cape of South Africa.  Ataraxia means a state of mind free from worry and preoccupation. Good thing to, because it was more than a pretty label. Quality wine with mouth-watering acidity, refreshing notes of grapefruit. Medium bodied and well-balanced with a surprising 14% alcohol. Choosing this wine will put you in a worry-free state of mind.

Music Pairing – anything by Sara Bareilles.

Loire Valley: Delicious and Great Price

Donatien Bahuaud 2011  Les Grands Mortier Vouvray $15.95

Pears, peaches, dried fruit – and a  touch of sweetness that fills the mouth. This wine gives me another reason to visit the Loire Valley. Absolutely delicious down to every single one of its 100% Chenine Blanc grapes. Even my husband loved it and he is a committed Red drinker. It is a lovely wine at a lovely price  from Vintages.

Music Pairing – Outstanding Trumpeter Chris Botti Impressions or the lastest Diana Krall Glad Rag Doll.

Do you have a wine pick worth sharing? Let us know.

Happy Weekend!