Tag Archives: Gavi

Wine to Celebrate a Milestone

Let's Get this Party Started
Let’s Get this Party Started

This is what a weekend of wine, friendship and celebration looks like. The event, a milestone birthday  – with my best friends Lynne (the birthday girl) and Helen and a promise it would be EPIC.

The weekend proved to be all that and more. Highly appropriate  because Lynne and I have shared many a bottle of good, bad and even the odd ugly wine over the years. This celebration’s wine list – proved to have  a little of each.

Our first toast was over a glass of Cuveé de FlyPorter. Not exactly vintage, but good enough to get this party started. By the way, a shout out to Porter Air for having the best service – they switched our flights to get us to Newark on the same flight – with a smile and no charge.

Live from New York...
Live in New York…



The Birthday Odyssey Surprise  began at NBC studios for a live taping of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Did I mention TV-friendly Hugh Jackman was the guest with a surprise appearance by the mildly photogenic Chris Hemsworth? No pix or wine allowed – but the experience whetted our appetite for later.



Little Italy’s Finest Apple

La Mela is fixture in Little Italy. 20 years ago, one of the waiters stopped my sister Eileen and lured her in. Since then, there has been a steady Canadian contingent enjoying the family style meals (menus are for tourists they told me) with wine to match. In the early days we ordered a bottle (or three) of house red to share at the table.


This time, we went for a full-bodied Primativo, after all what’s a milestone birthday all about? And just as they do in Italy, a digestivo of Limoncello, on the house of course.

A Perfect Primativo
A Perfect Primativo
Cheers to All
Three Friends at La Mela
Tre Amici at La Mela

Day One. Good wine – check. Great surprise – double check. SO far so good.

Morning with Kelly, Helen & Lynne

The TV experience didn’t end there. Lynne got up close and personal with Kelly Ripa.  Helen made 6 ft 5 Michael Strahan laugh when she looked up, way up, and told  him “I’m  5 ft 2 in a good mood”. Helen also ended up winning the daily trivia prize too. Day Two starting well. But where’s the wine?


AH, EATALY – the food emporium for people not afraid of carbs and wine.

Abridged for Wine Lovers
Abridged for Wine Lovers

We settled on fish and ordered an incredibly delicious Santa Vittoria Gavi 2013, a superb selection, refreshing, crisp and a perfect match with our Skate and Mixed Grill Seafood platter.

Santa Vittoria GAVI
Santa Vittoria GAVI


Categorize this one as GREAT.


The BAD came at the theatre when we were handed two sippy cups of wine. “That will be $51” said the man at the concession stand. “Pardon?” Lynne and I, the polite Canadians replied at the same time. I kept the cup.

Dame Helen on Broadway
Dame Helen on Broadway


Hey when on Broadway…and when you throw in a post-show sighting of the amazing Dame Helen Mirren  – well, what’s to complain about?

Day Two: two more thumbs up.


Our next theatre experience, “Cabaret” starring Alan Cumming, proved it’s all about the context.

The Golden Ticket
The Golden Ticket
Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
The Kit Kat Club


The wine probably wasn’t any better. But this time we were sitting in the former Studio 54 disco now converted into the Kit Kat Club.

Cabaret Cabernet
Cabaret Cabernet



And this time the wine  came out of a bottle. It  made  the Santa Marina Cabernet “delle Venezie” bottled last month,  taste just fine.


Kick Start to an NYC Morning
Kick Start to an NYC Morning


Oops, forgot the Prosecco at Eatery NYC– a fantastic find on 9th Ave and 53rd street.  The best Mimosas in Hell’s Kitchen- crisp and ice cold bubbly with just enough orange juice for colour (the food was fantastic too – especially Helen’s Mac and Jac).



But the big wine winners on this celebration weekend came at the official birthday dinner at Ilili in midtown where friends came from near and far to toast the birthday girl.


The waiter Isaac couldn’t have been more accommodating, When the  white drinkers asked for Pinot Grigio – he suggested a Greek wine at the same price point.


A Glorious Greek
A Glorious Greek


I’ve sampled  a few Greek wines in the past months, especially the whites and I have only good things to say. Like the  Mantania Tselepos Classic 2012- they were light and refreshing, much more appealing than the average Pinot Grigio.



A Superb Spanish Red
A Superb Spanish Red

Isaac did the same for the red. I looked at the Chianti Classico – and he suggested a Bodegas Ateca Atteca Old Vines Garnacha 2012 . Deep red with a lovely long finish – and most important – it met the approval of the Birthday Girl. This was without a doubt my favourite wine of the evening  – upstaged only by the toast with Veuve Cliquot – which according to Lynne -” if it’s not Veuve, it’s crap” (a motto repeated to much hilarity by her 10-year old niece at a dinner party).





And this is how the birthday girl felt at the end of the  weekend.




The moral of the story: when you are lucky enough to have great friends as I do, whatever you toast with is a celebration.  Friends pick you up when you need it, dance with you when times are good, and they always turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.


Friends Worth Celebrating
Friends Worth Celebrating

And yes, it was EPIC.


Italians Wines for Every Reason



1grandi marchiIt was a night to shine your bobbles, sharpen your pencils, and shake off your cares of the day. Some sexy Italians of all grapes and sizes came to town  leaving  tastebuds tantalized and palates pleasured.

 The event is called the Grandi Marchi and it brings together some of Italy’s greatest wine producers  representing some of the best known and lesser known regions in the country. 



2wine on iceThe evening, put together by the LCBO’s Vintages, is a chance to sample fantastic wines that might be out of your regular price range, and an opportunity to try different varieties that you can afford, but know nothing about.

I have been to a few of these events. They are not cheap. Typically tickets go for anywhere from $60-$125, but when you think of what you would spend on a great dinner, and the wines you get to taste, I have never left an evening disappointed.  There is no obligation or pressure to buy. Tina and I did buy once because they have some great finds that are not available at the LCBO, but be warned, don’t plan on serving your purchases at next month’s dinner party…our order came in 6 months later.

 You can tell the pros from the newbies, like me. The vets are systematic. They visit the tables in order, jot down their tasting notes and move to the next one.

Orneto pio cesare I make a beeline to the favourites that I do know, the Antinori wines, the Pio Cesares – the ones I  know, in advance,  that  they alone will make the evening worthwhile, and do they ever.

Pio Cesare’s Ornato Barolo 2008 DOCG, Piedmont shone like a diamond. Rich, elegant, powerful – I am talking Barolo royalty. The family has been producing top quality wines in the northern Piemonte region (home to Barolo and Barbaresco) for five generations. This is a single vineyard variety coming from grapes in the Serralunga d’Alba area, which is top tier terroir in the Barolo region. You will often recognize Pio Cesare as the label with all the gold award stamps on the front. I have tasted lower end and higher end wines from this producer and they have yet to disappoint. At $95 a bottle, a case is not in my future considering it is roughly the cost of airfare to Italy. 

 Affortable Finds:

While  Ornato was amazing, there were also some terrific wines that did not come anywhere near triple-digit price points.

 rovereto-gavi-di-gavi-docg-michele-chiarlo-6-bottle-caseMichele Chiarlo Rovereto Gavi Di Gavi 2011, DOCG, Piedmonte  Also from northwestern Italy, this white from the Cortese grape is fresh and  balanced with notes of grapefruit and At $17.95, This is an excellent choice if you are going to experiment with a GavI. The Rovereto is also available online at the SAQ for $20.40.




Lungarotti Rubesco Rosso Di Torgiano 2009 DOC,  Umbria   This is a wine that would cheerfully  make my Friday night take-home list. The blend is 70% Sangiovese and 30% Canaiolo, both grapes favoured by Umbria’s Tuscan neighbours. It is the most popular wine made by Lungarotti, a family business  run by Chiara  Lungarotti and her sister Teresa Severini.  Nicely priced at $20.00.

Masi Brolo Campofiorin Oro Appaxximento 2008 IGT, Veneto:

Heading north to the Veneto region, home to Amarone, this wine is a  Rosso del Veronese, made with  the same basic method used to create the gorgeous and most glorious Amarone. The technique is called appassimento and involves drying the grapes  on straw mats to concentrate the sugar and flavours. It  produced rich, full-bodied wines and often pricier wines. This is no exception but at a wallet-friendlier price. $24.95

nero di troiaRivera Violante Nero Di Troia 2009, DOC Puglia   Italy has thousands of grape varieties, and most of us recognize only the superstars like  Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Pinot Grigio.  But  there are so many others that you could devote years to learning and tasting. The Nero di Troia is an ancient grape that legend has it was brought to the Puglia region by the Greek hero Diomedes – who fought in the Trojan War. Today it is used in single variety wines like this one, or blends. The result is a full bodied wine that is fruit forward with a heady aroma of violets. Available online at the SAQ for $17.95


 The Grandi Marchi, was a Grande Success for this visitor. I would definitely go again, maybe this time I won’t race to the favourite tables for a chance to taste the holy grail of wines, getting flushed as a teenager waiting for a Bieber sighting.  Then there will be no morning after regret when I review my notes and realized the gems I missed. Some of these wines are available at the LCBO, some by consignment, your local LCBO can help you.

If you are looking for  a list of upcoming events, you can check out Events at Vintages.com or sign up for their online catalogue