Tag Archives: Chateauneuf du Pape

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!

 

 

Pope Francis: The Secret of Sacramental Wine

 

I’m not Catholic and to be honest, the only time I go to Church is for weddings and funerals, the last time being my nephew’s wedding in Italy. I know very little about the Church’s ceremonies or canons but I’ve observed the Eucharist (also referred to as the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion) and know there’s real wine in that Challis.

So as the world watched Pope Francis step onto the balcony in the Vatican, I wondered where the wine they serve comes from.  Does the Church have its own vineyards, is the Eucharist wine any good and could there be a secret cellar in the Vatican that houses wine just for the Pope?

According to the Catholic Church Canons, Sacramental wine, also referred to as Communion or Alter wine must be natural, made from grapes of the vine, and not corrupt meaning it must be naturally fermented with no additives. I was actually told by a Church historian that it would be sacrilegious to use anything but real wine.

Chateauneuf_du_Pape_2The Church actually has a long history with Old World vineyards and one of the best known is Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  In 1308, Pope Clement V moved the papacy to the city of  Avignon and it was said he was a great lover of wine.  He avidly promoted the wines of the area which came to be known as “Vin du Pape” (now known as Châteauneuf-du-Pape) during the 70 years the Papacy was located there.   But it was actually his successor John XXII who was responsible for the building of the famous castle that stands as a symbol for the appellation to this day.  0012286

Of course their wine now is not limited to supplying the Church and you can find a nice bottle of La Fiole du Pape a Chateauneuf-du-Pape red for $34.95.  It’s a smooth full-bodied red from the Rhone in France.

I’m certain there are others vineyards in the Old World that supply wines to the Church but there’s also some well-known ones in the New World.   In Australia Jesuits founded  Sevenhill Cellars in 1851 in the Clare Valley. They now produce over 90,000 litres of wine annually, providing sacramental wine for both Australia and Asia along with a variety of award-winning white, red and fortified wines.

Located in the Finger Lakes wine region of New York State you’ll find O-Neh-Da the oldest still-producing vineyard founded by Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid in 1872.  This is one of the last remaining wineries in the world dedicated to producing authentic sacramental wine from their original vineyard.  They created a second vineyard called Eagle Crest that offers wine to the public.

There are even several wineries in Sonoma County that managed to survive Prohibition by producing sacramental wines.  Among them was SIMI Winery founded in 1876 by two Italian brothers who immigrated to the US during the California gold rush. By continuing to produce wine they were one of the few wineries ready to sell wine again once Prohibition ended.

There are certainly others vineyards producing Sacramental wines around the world and generally the wines are known to be not too dry or sweet so as not to offend the palate. But how do they really taste? According to the Rev. E. Frank Henriques of Grass Valley, Calif., an Episcopal priest who is the author of The Signet Encyclopedia of Wine (New American Library, 1984) ”There’s very little sacramental wine that’s good”.  Which totally leads me to believe there’s a secret wine cellar at the Vatican even though no one will confirm it.

Pope Francis has already charmed the masses and today as millions of faithful watched the Papal inauguration ceremony at St. Peter’s Square I’m sure his fan base will only grow.  Considering that right out of the gate he mentioned words of wisdom I truly believe in “Like good wine we get better with age” I don’t think you even have to be Catholic to like this guy.