Tag Archives: Shiraz

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?

G’Day Australia

UnknownAs I sit here writing this the celebrations have already ended. Being fourteen hours ahead of us, it’s already tomorrow there.  But it’s not just in the land down under they celebrate Australia Day, here in Canada there are many places where Aussies practically out number the locals.

In Whistler often dubbed “Whistralia” there are so many young Australians working there they actually have the biggest Australia Day celebration anywhere in the world outside of their homeland.

imagesWith the recent release of Les Miserable starring Australian hunk, Hugh Jackman the historical story of hard-working convicts is once again of interest to people.  While the fictional story of Jean Valjean is set in early 19th century France, it could be compared quite easily to the real life stories of many convicts sent to Australia by the British government for petty crimes during that same period. Some Australians would like nothing better than for the world to forget this bit of history while others have used this unique story as an opportunity to market their product.  I don’t generally purchase wine based on the label but when I received this bottle I was totally intrigued.  19 Crimes is inspired by the actual list of crimes you could be transported to an Australian penal colony for (rather than being hung of course). Check out the list of punishable crimes here.

0Each label of the 19 Crimes brand has the photo of a different convict.  When you go to the 19 Crimes  website you can find out more about your particular convict.  Mine is named John Boyle O’Reilly, an Irish-born poet who was arrested for Mutiny in 1866.

The wine itself is from Victoria, Australia and produced by Baileys of Glenrowan which has a remarkable history of its own.  Started in the 1860s, when Richard Bailey and his family arrived in Australia.  They originally set up a store in Glenrowan to supply miners on nearby goldfields.  When the goldfields dried up and the miners moved on the Bailey’s turned to farming and became one of the first families to plant a vineyard. They produced their first vintage in 1870 and the business was passed on through the generations but is now owned by Treasury Wine Estates. With another connection to a true crime story Glenrowan was also the place where bushranger Ned Kelly was captured in 1880.

Made up of a blend of Shiraz Durif (otherwise known as Petite Sirah) the tasting notes state it is dark red in the glass with legs that cascade slowly due to its concentration and power. Sadly I’ve checked and it’s not available at the LCBO only out in BC liquor stores.

0Maybe some day soon we’ll get it here otherwise a visit to the land down under will give you a chance to try this wine and of course the many other fabulous Australian wines.

So Happy Australia Day to all those celebrating around the world.

What’s your favourite Aussie wine?



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.



Mystery Solved

So if you’ve ever heard the expression “go with your first instincts” pay attention and do exactly that, because when you over think it, you’ll get it wrong.  I was recently invited to take part in a really fun endeavour called The Label Project. Basically over a period of time I received 3 boxes that arrived by “No Name Sender”.

Each box contained a bottle of wine that was unidentified and through some provided clues and tastings I had to determine what the wines were and where they were from.  Then last Friday I had to hand in my tasting notes and today the results were revealed.

The first wine I received was a white and I really thought it was a cool climate chardonnay but wanting to be absolutely sure I totally over analyzed it to the point I got it wrong, and believe me I really hate getting things wrong.   I even had a friend (a talented Sommelier try it who also didn’t think it was a Chardonnay after several sips – goes to show the experts are sometimes as challenged as a novice when it comes to blind tastings) The other 2 bottles were reds and I figured I would just enjoy the wine and not try so hard and guess what?  I got them both right.

Jacob’s Creek Wines

Today I received a letter from the wine maker, Bernard Hickin of Jacob’s Creek thanking me for my participation (no thanks needed – I had a ton of fun). He revealed the 3 wines I had tasted from 3 renowned Australian regions, Barossa, Coonawarra and Adelaide Hills.  Along with the letter I also received the same three bottles of wine, this time with the actual label you’ll find on the bottle when you buy it at the LCBO. Now I guess I’m just going to have to open up that Chardonnay again, close my eyes and just enjoy. If you’d like to try them as well, here’s a list of the three bottles:

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay 2011 (from Adelaide Hills, Australia) $14.95

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz 2009 (From the Barossa Valley, Australia)  $16.95

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Fromm Coonawarra, Australia) $16.95


Wednesday Wine Picks from the WOW

Light and refreshing, with some lovely warm weather still in store for us a nice a chilled Rosé matches with almost any dish. Here’s one I think you might all enjoy.

Triomphe a Triumph

Triomphe Cabernet Franc Rose 2011 gets a vigorous nod this week. I bought a couple of bottles when I took the @iyellow wine tour last month and stopped at Southbrook, a  gorgeous winery in the Niagara region. Neither my husband or I are big Rosé drinkers, but I must admit, this one was really good. Not too sweet, red berry flavours made it  a great choice for a glass with lunch Ono this lovely weekend.

$19.95 Vintages LCBO #279117
But of course just at we head into fall, the weather is often unsettled.  Lots of rain and cooler temps, perfect for curling up with a good book and a glass of Shiraz.
A Shiraz with Legs

Fifth Leg Old Dog New Tricks Shiraz

This medium-bodied red from Devil’s Lair Winery in Western Australia is cherry and spine and everything nice. I have had their their Shiraz, Merlot, Cab before and it one a blind tasting among friends even up against some much pricier options. Definitely worth a try especially at is price.
 $15.95 LCBO #281345