Get Inspired; it’s easy

BTfZpvnCMAEIRFi.jpg-thumbI met a very interesting man the other day, Joel Osteen the pastor of America’s biggest church, a best-selling author whose books spend umpteen weeks on the New York Times best-sellers list and one of the most influential people on social media. I’m neither here nor there when it comes to religion and I’m basically a W/F (Weddings & Funerals) kind of person, so I was highly intrigued as to what draws people to him and why there are so many people looking for inspiration in their lives?

1150772_10151548998151331_772431878_nWe all have hardships growing up, some more than others and I definitely had my fair share, but as things go my life has turned out pretty well. I have a great husband, healthy, smart children who now have amazing lives of their own, friends I love to spend time with and a job I actually enjoy (most of the time). Was it fate, luck, hard work or divine intervention…or maybe a little of everything combined? I can’t really answer that, but it got me to thinking about what inspires me to be happy.

0One can always use more money, vacation time and a thousand other things but as I sit here on this beautiful September afternoon in my garden sipping a cool glass of Sylvaner from Alsace I’m not sure I would be any happier on a yacht harboured by the French Riviera (ok, maybe if I was sitting next to George Clooney).  As I get older I find it’s the little things in life that make me happy, cooking something I’ve always wanted to try, and laughing when it doesn’t turn out.

0-1Uncorking a bottle of wine that turns out to be amazing, like this Remo Farina Montecorna Valpolicella Ripasso from San Pietro, $19.95 at the LCBO. Singing along to the music even though I can’t carry a tune in a bucket or finishing a great book I can’t wait to share with my friends.  I know it’s not always easy to find happiness in a world filled with bad news but take a minute to enjoy the small things in life and I bet it will make you smile.

0-2So kick back, skip the mall and enjoy the last beautiful days of warm weather with your friends, family or even by yourself.  Just for today, don’t count the calories, enjoy a good glass of wine just because you want to and worry about tomorrow when it comes.  Life is hard, but it’s the little things that make living worthwhile so enjoy it while you can.

And while Pastor Osteen might be making millions from his advice I’m happy to share mine for free because we all know money can’t buy you happiness (but darn, it I could probably buy me much better wine).

And while I feel it wouldn’t be right to solicit your donations feel free to send wine as we are always happy to sample something new and give you our opinion.

 

 

Weekend Wine Picks that WOW

Rolf Binder Ma I? Have This Evening Shiraz/Mataro 2009 (Barossa Valley, Australia)

Have This Evening?
Have This Evening?

Great value alert: I love to start with a wine that tastes like it should cost much more. This Barossa Valley red is a blend of 80% Shiraz and 20% Mataro grapes. It is structured and elegant with blackberry and hints of dark chocolate. And I admit it, I am a sucker for an Australian wine with a lovely label and this one is a beaut.The Australians and Californians often have great labels and still manage to get the wine right. All too often the memorable label is a strong sign that the wine will be anything but.  And I must give honourable mention to Ontario’s Megalomaniac wines that produce award-winning labels and terrific wines. More on the art of the wine label next week.

Cecchi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2009 DOCG $19.95 LCBO, $18.80 SAQ

Value Vino
Value Vino

OK I was seduced by a wine I love at a price that seemed too good to be true. This is another great value wine. Strong cherry and tobacco notes, the wine is extra dry.  It could benefit from decanting. While this is not as smooth as some of  the wines of its Tuscan neighbours, you don’t often see Vino Nobile di Montepulciano at this price. 12.7% alcohol.

 

 

Quinta Da Lixa Pouco Comum Alvarinho 2011 $14.95

Fresh and Crisp White
Fresh and Crisp White

This white from Portugal’s Minho region is aromatic and crisp. Think citrus, think lime – a wine that is ripe with opportunity. It is fresh and balanced, but with substance. At $14.95 – if you haven’t ventured past Charodnnay and Pinot Grigio, give yourself a new grape to try. It comes from northern part of the country, a region best known for Vino Verde – refreshing whites with a green tinge.

 

 

 

The Splurge of the Week

Bold and Beautiful
Bold and Beautiful

Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz 2010 (South Australia) $29.95

I love this wine. I love this winery’s philisophy and I would love to have its two founders, Sarah and Sparky Marquis ,over for  dinner. Mollydooker is Aussie slang  for left hander – because Sarah and Sparky  are both lefties.  Just last month, I wrote about Mollydooker’s Maitre D’. This week I was delighted to see a new and equally distinctive label on the shelf at Vintages.  The Boxer is a guaranteed crowd pleaser if you like full-bodied, fruity, rich, bold, delicious – and I could go on and on wine. While this style of fruity, highly alcoholized wine is not to everyone’s taste, it has a lot of fans. Sarah and Sparky’s story is as rich as its wines.  They went from the brink of bankruptcy to almost overnight success. Check out their fabulous web site. It is as creative as their labels. Their wines get rave reviews and they can’t produce enough of it.  It is a splurge, but I am sipping it as I write, and it is ripe with blackberries, blueberries, spice  and plenty of promise that keep delivering. Alcohol: (hold on to your hat) 16%

What attracts your eye to the bottle? The label, the grape, the region or the rating?

Behind The Barrel

Most of us have a general knowledge of the country from where the wines we enjoy come from.  We’re even fairly aware of the regions within those countries like Tuscany, Bordeaux, or South Australia but very rarely do most people know who the winemaker is unless it’s a big name like Wolf Blass, Robert Mondavi or a celebrity like Francis Ford Coppola.

This is not something you have to know but you’d be amazed a how much the actual winemaker influences the final product you pour in your glass.

A while back I had the pleasure of having lunch with chief winemaker, Ben Bryant of Wyndam Estate located in Hunter Valley NSW, Australia.  I took an instant liking to him because he’s a ginger and both my sons are also red heads, but besides that he was charming, engaging extremely passionate about the wines he makes.  He started working in vineyards pruning vines as a student to make some extra cash.  He quickly moved on to become a cellar hand and became ever more interested in the winemaking process.  As his appreciatoin for how wine affected the senses developed his passion to learn more also grew.

He enrolled in oenology at Charles Sturt University and completed his winemaking degree over the next 5 years  and soon became Winery Manager and Winemaker at Poets Corner.

He’s worked in many of Australia’s wine-producing regions but has a special focus on Shiraz which I have to say is one of my favourite Australian wines.

During our lunch we shared a glass of the Founder’s Reserve 2009 Langhorne Creek Shiraz which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Served with a melt in your mouth Venison chop the intense ripe plum and black cherry notes made for a perfect pairing.

Ben’s motto is ‘wine is an adventure, the more you can be engaged on that adventure, the better it becomes.’ which is funny becuase it’s very similar to the motto of The Women of Wine….”Life is an adventure but what would life be without wine”

Regularly the George Wyndahm Founder’s Reserve Shiras is listed at $19.95 but this week’s flyer from the LCBO has this lovely wine on for $17.95 so you’ll save $2.00.

So if you’re stocking up for the holidays, go grab a couple of these because I think you’ll really enjoy them.

 

 

Foreign Men With Sexy Accents Serving Up Delicious Wines

Recently we were invited to an event put on by Mark Bruni, the general manager of RKW Wine Imports.  He had flown in Marc Kent a winemaker from South Africa for the launch of his Wolftrap White and Wolftrap Red labels at the LCBO.

Mark is the winemaker at B O E K E N H O U T S K L O O F (bow-ken-howts-cloof) already known and loved for its Porcupine Ridge and The Chocolate Block.  Bet you can’t say that name fast a few times…actually it works better after a few glasses of his delicious wine.  Mark’s talent for winemaking has garnered the only FIVE star rating for a South African winery from the esteemed Robert Parker.

In addition, Boekenhoutskloof was recently awarded “2012 Winery of the Year” by Platter’s South African Wine Guide.

Lis and I with Sommelier Zolton Szabo

The event took place at Barque Smokehouse and the place was packed.  Our table was set for seven and as we quickly introduced ourselves to our charming dinner partners we realised one of our esteemed companions was none other that the super sexy sommelier Zoltan Szabo.

If you don’t already know this, the one thing all wine lovers seem to have in common is their love of sharing…whether it’s a fantastic new find, their passion for pairings, helpful tasting hints or a glass from a great bottle of wine (or maybe two).

Salad of warm fior de latte, heirloom tomatoes, basil & reduced balsamic

Mark’s passion for winemaking and in particular these new wines had us all ready to sample what was being served for the evening.  It started light with the Wolftrap Rose.  We moved through a couple of whites including the lovely and fresh Wolftrap White served with Salad of warm Fior de Latte and then came the Boekenhoustskloof Semillon served with some white fish…

 

 

Well I’ve tasted Semillon before and was not a fan but this one is something to rave about.  Since wine tastings are often more about sampling than drinking everything served, I laughed when Zoltan wouldn’t let the server take his glass of the Semillon because he was so impressed by its taste.

Then came the reds…the new release Wolftrap Red was served with a Pulled Duck Taco that everyone enjoyed. The pairings continued (yes I know you’re wondering how do these wine people eat and drink so darn much – well everything comes in small servings – think tapas).  The Chocolate Block with the braised short rib may have been my favourite but I have to say everything was delicious – both food and the wines.

Now when you get to spend the night sitting beside an amazing sommelier you make sure you absorb as much of his knowledge as possible.  I confessed as an average wine consumer I often pass right by South African wines and go straight to the better known producers  – France, Italy, Australia and even California.  He made sure to let me know  you should never pass by the unfamiliar in favour of the standards because you never know when you’ll find something delicious, and I believe we did. It’s really one of the great things about the wines at the LCBO…you’ll always find the regulars but there’s always something new to try.

If you’d like to try these, here’s what to look for:

The Wolftrap White 2011 LCBO #169409 $12.95

The Wolftrap Red 2011 LCBO #292557 $13.93

Boekenhoutskloop Semillon 2009 $34.95 Only available through RKW Imports Consignment Channel

Try either the red or white this Thanksgiving weekend with your turkey dinner and make sure to enjoy some time outside admiring the beautiful fall colours.

 


 


 

 

 

In Love With An Italian

The beautiful region of Tuscany
Both Lis and I love all things Italian…the people, the food, the wine…actually we’re not really sure what’s not to love.  We’ve been there many times and both of us has family there who we wish we could visit more.  But aside from family we love going to explore the various wine regions and generally can’t wait for our next visit.  So in honour of our connections to Bella Italia we bring you our weekend wine picks:
The Estates in the Chianti Classico. Le Marcie
From Lis:
How about a big juicy Chianti Classico?
This wine discovery was one of the new releases at the LCBO a few weeks ago.
Rocca Delle Macie Tenuta Sant’Alfonso Chianti Classico 2007. Lots of ripe red fruit, a lovely spicy aroma and incredibly balanced so it is oh so smooth. I just can’t get enough of Sangiovese grapes. A true Italian treasure. Excellent choice for quaffing with friends or perfectly paired with roasted meats. $21.95.
I have had several of Rocca delle Macie wines before in the $15 – $30 price range and they have not disappointed. The winery is about 40 years old and started by a gentleman named Italo Zingarelli – what a GREAT name and like so many other Italian wineries has turned into a family affair.  But  the really sweet surprise….check out Rocca Delle Macie website – not only does it include all their wines, but food and MUSIC PAIRINGS! If I wasn’t a convert before….

From Tina:
Personally I’m a big fan of a good Barbaresco and this one I found in general list. Not having to go into the vintages section means you should be able to get your hands on this pretty much any time.  It’s the Umberto Fiore Barbaresco DOCG and it’s only $16.30. It’s from the Piedmont region of Italy and the grape varietal is Nebbiolo the same grape used to make Barolo.  As Barbarescos tend to be a bit lighter I served it with a lovely pasta and my husband who often challenges my wine picks loved it.  I’ve since returned and bought 4 more bottles…definatlely easy drinking.  There’s a link to the LCBO in the blog roll on the right.  If you key in either wine in the product section you’ll find which store near you carries these wines.

Salute!