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.
Young 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.
Wines 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.
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.
While 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..
Ironstone 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!