Pizza and Pinot; The Perfect Pairing

January is of course the month of resolutions and right at the top of the list is losing weight.  While I’m not opposed to dropping a few pounds I’ve come the realization I’ll never be super model thin because I love food and wine and pretty much hate exercising.  My one concession has been to stop drinking during the week in hopes of saving a few calories for the weekend.

unnamedI’m a great cook and actually enjoy making a nice meal so my husband and I rarely eat take out, but every once in a while the urge strikes so Friday night we ordered pizza.  And since Friday constitutes the beginning of the weekend I also got to open a bottle of wine. Wanting to enjoy a nice red but something not too heavy, the perfect choice was of course a Pinot Noir.

0304105I opted for a California wine from the Buena Vista Winery founded by Agoston Haraszthy a Hungarian immigrant, who was a man of many talents.  A  farmer, vintner, respected author and businessman he also operated the first commercial steamboat on the upper Mississippi River and became the the first town marshal and county sheriff in San Diego.

Agoston Haraszthy
Agoston Haraszthy

Often referred to as the “Father of California Viticulture” he introduced more than three hundred varieties of European grapes in that state and helped Buena Vista become California’s first premium winery in 1857. Unfortunately the self-proclaimed “Count of Buena Vista” died in 1869 in an alligator-infested river in Nicaragua but even with the challenges of the depression, prohibition, and phylloxera Buena Vista Winery not only survived but prospered. Now a part of the Boisset Family Estates the vision and legacy created by The Count 150 years ago lives on through the family’s passion.

unnamed-1Coming from their Carneros vineyard the 2009 Pinot Noir has intense fruity flavours yet a graceful elegance.  It had a pale ruby colour and tasted of ripe berries.   I usually go for the under $20 wines unless it’s a special occasion so at $24.95 I went a bit over but considering the pizza cost about $7 it all evened out.  This wine would also be amazing with roast chicken or turkey, a nice pork loin or salmon but let’s be honest it went down pretty darn good with a good old fashion slice of pizza.

 

 

 

 

California Wine Dreaming

california cruisin

There was a lot of California Dreaming going on at a recent event put on by  IYellow Wine Club..

California Cruisin’ was another brainchild of IYellow Wine Club founder Angie Aiello (pronounced I-Yellow… get it?). Angie brought 30 wine producers from California, threw in some gourmet food truck nibbles and then tweeted her friends and followers. They brought their friends, and suddenly  450 thirsty young wine lovers were crammed into a room getting a taste of California. These 20-35 somethings are the most powerful demo in advertising, and these days this demo is toasting that power with a  glass of wine.

wine wine 014Young Canadians are getting sweet on wine. Overall, the per capita wine consumption here is growing three times faster than around the world. And it is expected to be the fifth fastest growing market between now and 2017.

Looking around this event, those new stats are easy to believe.   All decked out for a Saturday night on Toronto’s King Street, this isn’t the note-taking crowd. This is the demo that still has enough brain cells to remember the stories they are told over the course of the evening. They taste the wines and the next morning over brunch – start planning their trip to California wine country.

This is not a stuffy crowd of cork dorks (not that there’s anything wrong with that). This is an engaged group eager to learn more and Angie Aiello’s wine social club provides the perfect opportunity to learn the difference between a flavourful Cabernet Sauvignon and a powerful Zinfandel.

There are so many great California wines  and thanks to  huge marketing initiative to get Canada sampling.- they took centre stage recently at the LCBO. Poke around the section and you will find some super wines at super prices.

dreaming treeWines like The Dreaming Tree Crush 2010. This red blend from the North Coast is a co-production of musician Dave Matthews and winemaker Steve Reeder. And what a blend! 78% Merlot, 13% Syrah, 6% Zinfandel, 2% Petite Syrah, 1% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. I sent a bottle home with a good friend from Montreal and she called extolling the virtues of its mocha and coffee notes. It’s $16.95 a bottle  and it’s going fast.

 

mondavi

Tina and I moved on to Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 which was a little pricier at $34.95 but bold and concentrated, a perfect Napa Cab. Now I will admit right off I am a sucker for anything Robert Mondavi. Anyone who starts a brand new career in his fifties out of a love for wines – is worthy of  attention (ok maybe adoration). He died in his 90s and  when I visited the vineyard last year, Mondavi is regarded as a saint by everyone who knew him. The one that smaller wineries could count on when they had a bad season.

 

 I sampled a Chateau St Jean Pinot Noir  2011 from Sonoma County- an ideal wine for meat pastas or roast chicken. It is a celebration of raspberries and strawberries. It is a staff pick at the LCBO and currently on sale for $17.95.

justinWhile Napa is known for its Cabs, Sonoma its Pinots – head a little further south to Paso Robles, and you will find some superb Syrah`s. The area was made famous by the so-called Rhone Rangers – who were determined to create their own Syrah-based blends in California to rival their French ancestors. The Justin Syrah 2011 is a prime pick for those who like ripe fruit forward wines. It is not available at the LCBO yet – but well worth trying out when it come in..

obsessionIronstone Obsession Symphony 2011 has been a regular on my table. Symphony is a grape that is on the sweet side, highly aromatic and most pleasing on the palate.  Also on sale right now at the LCBO for $13.95 (I picked up two).

The California Cruisin’ evening was about sampling and learning about wines that are affordable but don`t compromise on taste.  And wine clubs like IYellow are making it cool to be a cork dork. For more information, check out IYellowwineclub.com for monthly events and classes that are not for cork dorks only.  Toronto Life voted it the best place to learn about wine. And you can follow them on twitter @IYellowwineclub.

Off to book a trip to California!

 

It’s Time for Weekend Wine Picks

From the Land of Super Tuscans

While I am thankful for so many things after the Thanksgiving weekend,  in addition family,friends, health and some leftover turkey, I discovered some awesome wines that I have to share.

I admit I couldn’t abandon the Italy section of Vintages after it had just brought me so much joy recently. But I also needed top expand my horizons. So here are my picks of the week.

Michele Satta Bolgheri Rosso 2009  I am a big fan of this region along the coast of Tuscany. This is the home to Super Tuscans. This deliciouis offering is 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot, 10% Syrah, 10% Teroldego (first time I heard of that varietal). Deep ruby colour, with intense flavours of red fruit. Great buy at $19.95 – but give it a chance to breathe.

 

Perfectly Delicious Pinot

2009 Picnic Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir has been touted as a perfect pairing for turkey. It is medium bodied and can be  the best of tastes and the worst of tastes. This one appealed because I had tried a bottle from the same produicer a couple of years ago and came away impressed. This one from Two Paddocks of Otago, New Zealand was even better than remembered. It’s got plenty of flavour of luscious cherry fruit and definitely became a table favourite. Note – I am not usually a fan of celeb wines (which everyone says even though there are some very respectable wines – ie Sting’s Sister Moon) – but this one by actor Sam Neill is winner and worth the $25.95 at the LCBO.

 

 

Great White at Great Value

Silver Point East Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2009

My girls are committed drinkers of white wine, and while they lovingly tell me their favourite wine is Fuzion, I feel committed to helping them expand their horizons. Both gave this one the thumbs up. From New Zealand’s Marlborough area, it has a cool crisp citrus flavour that makes you wish for a warm day just so it can refresh you. At $13.95 a bargain for sure!

Did you have any great picks worth sharing? Let me know.

Have a great weekend!