Tag Archives: Robert Mondavi

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!

 

Quote Me!

From Galileo to William Shakespeare there are many famous wine quotes but none that embody how we feel about our favourite drink like the quote from famed California winemaker, Robert Mondavi.

In his autobiography, “Harvests of Joy” he wrote “Wine to me is passion.  Its family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It’s culture. It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living.”

That quote pretty much says how we, The Women of Wine feel about life, love and the pursuit of a good bottle of wine.

There has been famous wine quotes since our favourite nectar of the God’s was first served up, many somewhat serious yet poignant.

“Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile.”  Homer, “Odyssey (9th c. B.C.)

“Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.”  Benjamin Franklin

“In victory, you deserve champagne, in defeat, you need it.” Napoleon

“Wine is the most civilized thing in the world.” – Ernest Hemingway

Lately we’ve run across a lot of great quotes that made us laugh so we thought we’d share them with you.  Many I’m sure you’ve even seen on various websites or pin boards. We’re not always sure who to accredit them to and they may not stand the test of time like those attributed to Napoleon and Benjamin Franklin but they sure as heck make us laugh out loud.

“I wish I could trade my heart for another liver.  That way I could drink more and care less” – Funny lady Tina Fey

“A good friend brings over a bottle to share.  A best friend brings two so you can each have one” – unknown

“If I ever go missing I want my picture on a wine bottle instead of a milk carton.  This way, my friends will actually know I’m missing”.

And since we all know Sip Happens!!! Grab a glass, pour yourself some wine, and relax and enjoy.

A Super Tuscan Virgin

The words Super Tuscan evoke a certain reverence among wine lovers.  I first heard the term as a young news writer in Montreal. Apparently the Hells Angels were big fans. They fought the spiraling unemployment rate by hiring people to wait in line outside the SAQ when Super Tuscans went on sale for astronomical prices. I knew nothing about these warriors of wine with names like Tignanello, Sassicaia and Ornellaia. I was a 24-year old  beer drinker.

A lovely view of the Chianti region

Turn the clock forward 15, ok, more like 25 years, and at this point I have been to Tuscany. I visited a small winery located on the property and run by a God-like handyman named Arc-Angelo ( not kidding) and a raven-haired beauty named Allesandra who gave us a barrel tasting and explained what a Super Tuscan is all about.These wines produced by some of the greatest winemakers in Italy actually carried the same designation as simple  Table wine because they did not meet the specifications of Italy’s DOC and DOCG system. Enter Giovanni Goria, who in 1992 created a a new category – IGT or Indicazione Geografica Tipica, which denoted a designer wine of sorts – a winemaker’s creation that did not follow a set formula. It was more  about a passion and drive for excellence and individuality.

And the thing about a passion – it opens up a world of experiences with other people who share it.  Tina and I were taking a wine course a while back and one day I was studying out loud, reciting the multitude of wine producing regions of Spain.  My dear Chilean friend Adriana, who happens to be an awesome massage therapist, helped me through my pronunciation. The next day she called me and said one of her friends/clients was opening a bottle of Vega-Sicilia and because we were taking this course, would we like to come sample?  I said where and what time.

1996 SASSICAIA

I will spare the details of an incredible house tour, including the “Hunter S. Thompson for Mayor ” poster in an upstairs bathroom and more books that I could ever read in a lifetime. But it was the first time I visited a wine cellar that made my heart flutter. What I saw first in that room of beauty were case upon case with the names of the Holy  Trinity: Ornellaia, Sassicaia, Tignanello. And  then there were the cases of California’s Opus One – the marriage of the Old and New World brilliance  of Robert Mondavi and Baron de Rothschild. I thought this must be what heaven will look like if I am really really good.Witnessing  our excitement (it may have been our wide eyes or the way we lovingly stroked the bottles ) our most gracious host asked if we would rather opt for an Italian than the Vega-Sicilia. I couldn’t help it. I was too close.  And I was a Super Tuscan virgin.

Tina and the Super Tuscans

The  four of us started with a bottle of Tignanello and I have to say, it was everything I dreamed it would be. When we toured the house, I took my glass with me. It was like the  Christmas when you got that present you wanted more than anything and refused to put it down for a second.  But this time, the presents kept getting better. We tasted  Sassicaia and Guado Al Tasso. We changed continents, moving to Chile’s finest Almaviva.

Then came Opus One.

The evening  was a life-changing experience. No offence to anyone,  but it was much more impressive than my other first time when I secretly wondered what all the fuss was about. As early as I was in my wine education, I  understood clearly  what all the fuss was about. I understood the meaning  of perfect balance, perfect complexity and what  separated great  from spectacular. And I understood that all the days going forward on this wine journey would be defined by the days before The Super Tuscans and the days after.