Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Ontario Wine Country

Hey Wine Lovers!

In the spirit of Canada's 150th Birthday this year, I thought I would shed some light on our amazing and diverse home grown wine talents. I find Canadian's in general under appreciate our wine almost to the point that we are afraid to be too proud of our accomplishments. It may be a Canadian trait not to be too proud or brag too much....but darn it, be proud and wave those bottles!

This post is going to focus on our very own province of Ontario. There are three main wine appellations and they are;

1. Prince Edward County
2. Niagara Peninsula
3. Lake Erie North Shore

Watch this: VQA Wines of Ontario

Ontario wine is considered "cool climate", and not because of our cool jazz festivals. Our climate, although hot and muggy at times in the summer, is relatively cool compared to say the Rhone Valley in France, Napa valley in California or Barossa Valley in Australia. Our winemakers therefor grow grapes that are accustomed to cooler climates like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Riesling and Cabernet Franc to name just a few. I would say a good amount of producers in Ontario tend to focus on Chardonnay for white and Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc for red. While you will find a plethora of other grapes from sweet Ice Wine made from Vidal to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon we tend to focus on what works best. On the international side of things, Ice Wine is what we are most famous for. In Japan, China, South Korea etc people know us for our Whisky and Ice Wine. My thoughts on that though is.... "Have you had our Chardonnay?"

We know Ontario is "cool", we know the main grapes, what about it's different wine makers? Take Prince Edward County and "Norman Hardie".....the somewhat unofficial yet official face of PEC.  Norman Hardie specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay which are pretty well respected. If you make it there check out the pizza made in a stone oven on sight! Fun fact, did you know PEC is the coldest wine growing region in the world? It gets so cold in winter that the grape growers have to bury the vines under earth in order to survive the harsh cold winter. Wine from PEC has a very unique character to them and some would describe it as almost a "Match-stick like" or "PEC Funk". This comes from the terroir of PEC which is often described similar to Burgundy, France. One of my favourite wineries in PEC is Closson Chase which specialize in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I also like Hinterland, which only do sparkling wine. Hinterland's logo is a deer head with antlers...if this isn't our very own Canadian "Champagne" i'm not sure what is. PEC is a Canadian success story which is only just beginning that will help put Canada on the world wine map.

In Niagara you may know some of the big wineries such as Jackson Triggs, Chateau Des Charms, Trius, Inniskillen etc. Have you had a bottle of Stratus Red or Thirty Bench Reisling or Flatrock Pinot Noir? There are a bunch of smaller to medium sized producers that make some pretty killer wine. It's just over an hours drive from Toronto and you can sip all day (ensure you have a designated driver) and be back in the city home for a late dinner...minus the traffic. Fun fact, Niagara is the largest wine making region in the country. There are bicycle tours, cute hotels, even cuter B&B's, amazing restaurants with a real focus on local produce and more than enough activities to keep you busy for a few days. I love Niagara because if you want a $95 Cabernet Franc from a winery like Stratus in a designer bottle to an awesome chardonnay for $14.95 you can find wine to match your budget. Every summer Niagara hosts a "International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration" which draws plenty of cool climate chardonnay wine makers and even more cool climate chardonnay lovers into one weekend of all things cool chardonnay! Check it out http://www.coolchardonnay.org

One of my favourite and practically unheard of wine regions is Lake Erie North Shore. This area has some of the hottest weather in Ontario so the chance to grow cabernet sauvignon and bigger wines is very possible. Check out Viewpoint Cabernet/Merlot 2010, this wine will make you think you are sipping a big California red with a Canadian touch, of course. We all have a friend who has said "I don't like Ontario Red", in this case point them to Lake Erie North Shore for the biggest full body red's we have. I understand why it's so undiscovered, when I hear the words "Lake Erie" I don't usually think of wine either. The benefit of trying some wine from here is that because not many people are familiar with this area, you get a very good quality/price ratio per bottle! One interesting part of Lake Erie North Shore is Peele Island which is Canada's most southern land mass. Yes, literally a "wine island" you can take a ferry to, which will satisfy all of your wine thirst and make you wish you were "cast away".

Take a weekend trip to Prince Edward County, Niagara or Peele Island and enjoy all of the splendour our province has to offer. If you can't get away, why not try a Ontario wine this summer with friends on the patio. You may be pleasantly surprised that "Good things grow in Ontario".

Happy Sipping,


Sunday, 21 May 2017

May 2017 Picks

Hi Wine World 

People usually ask me what wine they should drink and I always suggest to them to drink whatever makes them happy. This usually leads to a blank stare because the world of wine can be a bit daunting. If you have a wine you love and it's only $9.95 that's great, but why not try something new? Perhaps a new grape, a new region, a new country, heck even a new colour of wine. After some friends, neighbours and family asked me to suggest some recommendations this blog was born. I plan to discuss a variety of wine topics but for now enjoy my first post.

Below are a few wines I suggest you try from the LCBO which I think offer good quality at an affordable price. These wines became available for purchase May 13th, 2017. Why not give one a try and tell me what you think?

Don't forget to subscribe as I have a feeling there are a few more posts to share ;P 

Region, LCBO Product #, 
Product Name, Grape, Year, Price
Description from LCBO 

Ontario, Canada #486324 
North 43, Merlot, 2014, $14,95 
"Coming from the hard-hit 2014 season - the year of the harsh Polar Vortex which impacted the yields of many grapes in Niagara, Merlot included - this is a ripe, round Merlot full of blueberry, plum, herbs, spices and vanilla notes. Beautifully structured and balanced with lingering tannins, this will be a great option for burgers or ribs."

Mendoza, Argentina #492736
Fabre Montimayou Reserva Cabernet Franc, 2014, $17.95
"You'd expect a Bordeaux winemaker to be good at producing Cabernet Franc, and that's the case with Hervé Joyaux-Fabre. This comes from Perdriel, and sees no new oak at all, allowing the cool, grassy, spicy perfume of the grape to express itself. Leafy yet voluptuous,with plenty of structure. 2016-2021. Score - 94."    

Maipo Valley, Chile #059337
Espino Single Vinyard Gran Cuvee, Carmenere, 2012,  $19.95
"William Fèvre of Chablis fame is no newcomer to Chile. Viña William Fèvre Chile was established in 1992, and it has played a significant role in demonstrating Chile's potential as a world player. Carmenère, originally a blending grape from Bordeaux, has risen to become Chile's signature red grape. Carmenère has flourished in the warm, sunny valleys of Chile, where it produces generous, earthy and spicy wines with marked complexity. Enjoy this example with burgers or grilled ribs."

Maipo Valley, Chile #485474 
Ventisquero Grey Glacier Single Block, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013, $19.95
"A fresh and minerally style, with focused red plum and dried cherry flavors that offer crisp acidity. Notes of green herbs and Asian spice show on the tannic finish. Score - 89."

Maipo Valley, Chile #18721
Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013, $17.95
"Aromas of blackberry, iron and spice. Mushroom too. Full-bodied, juicy and rich with a long finish. Soft and flavorful. Drink or hold. Score - 92." 

Loire Valley, France #488908
Domaine De Poix Touraine, Sauvignon Blanc, 2015, $13.95
"Sourced from a single site, this exceptional value is an exciting new addition to the Vintages family with impressive freshness and characteristic grassy tones on the nose and palate, it delivers marvelous vibrancy and lift. Enjoy its lemon citrus tones with passion fruit, delicate spices and a mineral underpinning."

Bordeaux, France #487546 
Chateau Haut-Mazieres, Merlot blend, 2014, $15.95
"60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Beautiful damson and vanilla on the nose, with hints of clove and violets the palate is equally complex and satisfying, with loads of jammy cassis and plum fruit, superb wine has everything and all in harmony. Score - 95."

Midi, France(Southern France) #481317 
Domaine Due Ministre Saint-Chinian, Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre (GSM), $18.95
"Saint-Chinian's soils present two stylistically distinct accents from the same area: Schist-based soils in the north produce wines that are rich in mineral and acidity and quite tannic when young, while the clay and limestone soils to the south -- around Muriel les Béziers, where this wine is from -- tend to create softer, rounder wines. You can expect this example to be floral with dark fruit, herbs and meat notes. Enjoy with herb-rubbed steaks".

Rhone Valley, France #494831 
Domainse Jaume Altitue 420 Vinsobres, Grenache/Syrah, 2014 $16.95
"Oaky nose with streamlined fruit. Stylish, free-flowing palate, making a polished and well-sustained wine with lively tannins. Good value. Drink 2018-2025. Score - 90."

Piedmont, Italy #478941
Canti Estate Barbera D'Asti Superiore, Barbera, 2011, $12.95
"Barbera d'Asti is one of the most important wines of Piedmont, and its great popularity is in some part due to the fact that Barbera is more approachable young than Piedmont's Nebbiolo-based Barolo and Barbaresco wines. This one offers impressive aromatics with spicy, mature fruits, plus the bright acidity that plays such a role in Barbera d'Asti's ageability. Try this with grilled burgers and mushrooms." 

Douro, Portugal #477943
Quinta Da Rede Grande Reserva Branco, Arinto blend, 2014, 21.95
"Due to its location near the western end of the Douro vineyards, this vineyard makes very fine white wines. This one is at the top, with wood fermentation and aging giving richness, intense flavors and a fine structure. It's a wine that demands serious aging - ripe and full of zesty acidity as well as toast and spice flavors. Start drinking this impressive wine from late 2017. Cellar Selection. Score - 93." 

Rioja, Spain #947309
Conde Valdemar Reserva, Tempranillo blend, 2009, $19.95
"Cigar box, clove and leather notes frame a core of dried cherry, tobacco and tea flavors in this traditional red. Firm tannins underlie a silky texture, while orange peel acidity keeps this fresh. Focused and lively. Drink now through 2023. Score - 91." 

Rioja, Spain #490961
Izadi Larrosa Premium Rose, Garnacha, 2016, $14.95
"Crafted from Garnacha and Tempranillo, this is floral and herbal with a nice earthy undertone to the subtle fruit on the nose and palate. Excellent balance and texture with a long, zesty finish. Enjoy with grilled lamb."

Happy Sipping 


Vintages, Saturday May 25th, 2019

Hey Fellow Wino's I've got some new picks for you to try out from today's vintages release. 1.  Blue Mountain Gold Label Bru...