Friday, 24 November 2017

Sip Bordeaux like a Rothschild

Hey Fellow Wino's 

The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux are coming to Toronto, and they’re bringing the wines of 2015.

Antonio Galloni described the 2015s as “… spectacularly rich, racy wines loaded with personality.” While Jancis Robinson believes that “… for the first time in five years, in 2015 the Bordelais have a vintage worth making a fuss about.”
Do not miss this exclusive opportunity to taste legendary wines. Some wines will sell out as Futures. Over 60 available to taste. Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux Tasting at the ROM

Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux 
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Royal Ontario Museum
100 Queen's Park
Currelly Gallery, Main Level
Main Entrance on Bloor St. West, Toronto
Walk-around Tasting: 7:00 p.m.—9:30 p.m.
Ticket price: $150 per person

Tickets go on sale November 30, 2017, at 8:30 a.m and will sell out in minutes so set an alarm! 

So why should you attend? Well let's make one thing clear, these are young wines from the 2015 vintage. Most wines from Bordeaux are meant to age and age well in excess of 20 years or more from some producers. This event will allow you insight into the 2015 Vintage which is described as a very good vintage due to the favourable weather Bordeaux had. You'll be able to taste and compare left bank, Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends from Margaux to the right bank, Merlot-based blends from Pomerol.  Compare a right bank Saint-Émilion Grand Cru to a left bank Pauillac. Or simply go and taste hundreds of dollars worth of Bordeaux if not thousands and see what this region is all about! 

It may seem like a lot of money to attend but considering each bottle is quite expensive and you can taste upwards of 60 different wines it's like $2.5 per tasting for fine Bordeaux wine. I'll be attending to help with my understanding of what these different appellations taste like for my Sommelier studies but let's be honest, I want to have a good time as well. Come join me in Bordeaux on January 18th. 

Happy Sipping, 

Ryan Sullivan

Monday, 20 November 2017

November 25th Vintages Release

Hey Fellow Wino's

My Top Picks for the Saturday, November 25th Vintages Release.

1. Louis Bouillot Perle d'Aurore, Brut Rosé, Crémant de Bourgogne, France $21.95
This traditional method sparkling rose from Burgundy is certainly a great alternative to the more expensive, Champagne. Only sparkling wine from Champagne can be called Champagne and sparkling wine from everywhere else in France is called Crémant. Don’t let the word Crémant fool you though, this tri-blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Chardonnay contain 2 out of the 3 grapes used in Champagne. This Rose Crémant is a medium bodied, salmon coloured beauty with notes of berries, spice and brioche that float in an elegant mousse. I simply can’t afford to drink Champagne as much as I would like so my fridge usually has a Crémant or two hanging around. Pair with smoked salmon over a fabulous brunch or Tandoori chicken. 

Malbec is to Argentina what Carmenere is to Chile, an essential staple of the land from which it grows. Malbec like Carmenere originates in Bordeaux but only performed moderately under it's wetter climate. Once this grape was moved south, it thrived. This Malbec from the Uco Valley in Mendoza is surely one to please guests who are craving a large warming red wine on a late fall evening. Expect a deep red with a violet hue, red fruits and plums with hints of mint, vanilla and chocolate. Pair with wild rice and mushroom stuffed peppers or a lamb-chop and mint sauce, Gaucho style. 

Bordeaux makes age-worthy, legendary wines and in this case by blending Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Each varietal offering up their different strengths carefully blended together by the winemaker to bring out their individual best quality from each of the grapes. Expect a deep ruby colour with a touch of garnet, lots of red fruit, black fruit as well as secondary notes such as cigar box and cedar which are derived from the use of oak barrels. Pair with Steak-Frites and decant 1 hour before serving. 


I love Côtes du Roussillon A.K.A the South of France because when people think of French wine they think of Burgundy or Bordeaux, rarely the south of France. Why does this matter? Supply and Demand rule of thumb means you can find tremendous value here, even if the price of vacation homes are expensive. This blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre are the exact same grapes used in Châteauneuf-du-Pape further north where it would be at least double the price. This is literally Rhone Valley wine on a budget, Châteauneuf-du-CheapA delicious, dense ruby wine with notes of red and black cherries, earth, spice, pepper and a touch of Provençal garrigue. I've bought a few bottles from Tessellae before and trust me, you'll be sad you didn't buy more! Pair with a Cassoulet with duck confit, or a winters stew. 

5. 2011, Icario Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy $19.95
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is one of Italy's classic red wines and has unquestionably helped Tuscany retain its privileged place on the world wine map. It comes from the vineyards which surround Montepulciano, a picturesque hill town 40km southeast of Siena, southeastern Tuscany. This 80% Sangiovese, 20% Canaiolo and Colorino blended wine is an essential quality Tuscan wine for every table. Intense ruby red with excellent fruit, spicy with tinges of vanilla and ripe red berries. Full, elegant, well-structured and well-balanced. Pair with a typical traditional Tuscan first course (pasta) or second courses with meat (roast and grilled) and decant 1 hour for a romantic dinner for two. 


Navarra is located in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains in the north of Spain near the French border. The continental climate here is full of hot summers and cold snowy winters. This is really rugged wild Spain at its finest. This blend of 35% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Tempranillo and Syrah will certainly deliver that Spanish passion you may have been missing in your life. Expect a ruby/purple colour, lush plum, black cherry and blackcurrant fruit, a touch of liquorice and forest floor perfect to sip by the fire. If you were hungry, grilled Lamb smothered in herbs. 

With great Canadian Pride, I present my Lucky Number 7 
This red blend from our very own backyard of 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc, 13% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, and 3% Tannat is potentially the best vintage Stratus has made. Expect black currants, blackberries, plums, cassis and then oak spices, clove-cinnamon notes and vanilla. Elegant, velvety smooth and described as sexy. If you have ever said or overhead someone say "I don't like Ontario Red Wine" then this is for you. This will alter your perception of what Ontario can produce and shake your core with intensity. I would cellar this one for a bit, if not decant 1-2 hours and serve with a full Sunday roast beef supper. Bravo Stratus! 


#WineTip - These wines all are available for sale on Saturday, November 25th but some LCBO stores put them out on Friday. 

Happy Sipping and stay tuned for my next post on wines for the holiday season

Ryan Sullivan 

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Beaujolais Nouveau Season

Hey Fellow Wino's 

Just a few days ago, the third Thursday in November, was the annual new release of Beaujolais Nouveau. 

Every third Thursday in November people around the globe rush to their local wines establishments to consume a glass or bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau. In Lyon France, this wine is served almost like tap water, always refilled due to how plentiful and simple this wine can be. This light coloured purple-pink wine reflecting its youth, harvested only 6–8 weeks previous shows fruity flavours such as banana, grape, strawberry, fig and pear. Beaujolais Nouveau sees no oak if not extremely limited amounts and is not meant to be aged or decanted. Serve this wine slightly chilled, out of the bottle, into the glass and down the hatch. 

Beaujolais is located in the south of Burgundy and although it is officially part of Burgundy many people refer to wine either from Burgundy or Beaujolais. In Burgundy, it's either Chardonnay or Pinot Noir but in Beaujolais, it's all Gamay, or to be technically correct "Gamay Noir". This vigorous vine produces quantity over quality and makes wine that is fresh, simple and pleasurable. This is a wine that you don't have to think about, simply pour and enjoy. I like Beaujolais Nouveau because it is the first wine of the harvest and allows an insight into the season. Hot season, cool season, Beaujolais Nouveau like Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog, offers an insight into how the season tastes. 

2017 was a tough year for grape growers in Burgundy because there was severe frost and hail in the spring and into the summer which destroyed some vineyards by upwards of 50%. The tragic weather that parts of Burgundy experienced in 2017 is certainly worth raising your glass to. I would pick up a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau, toss the bottle in the freezer for 5 minutes and serve with roast chicken, veggies and scalloped potatoes. Swiss Chalet anyone? 

I'd like to point out that not all Beaujolais is meant to be consumed young though. While Beaujolais Nouveau comes out on the third Thursday of each year and is meant to be consumed as quickly as possible Cru level Beaujolais is quite worthy of some ageing and seriousness. There are three levels of quality in Beaujolais

1. Beujolais AOC
2. Beujolais Villages AOC 
3. Cru Beaujolais AOC

There are 10 Cru Beaujolais regions and they are pictured in the map above (click to enlarge) 
1. Saint-Amour 
2. Juliénas 
3. Chénas 
4. Moulin-à-Vent 
5. Fleurie 
6. Chiroubles  
7. Morgon 
8. Régnié, 
9. Côte de Brouilly 
10. Brouilly

Perhaps try a Cru level Beaujolais like a Moulin-à-Vent (one in my last vintages release top picks blog post) in comparison to the more simple and pleasurable Beaujolais or Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau.

Tonight I'm sipping the 2017 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau at $15.95. This Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau offers a step up from the basic Beaujolais by adding a tad more complexity but nothing I'll be focusing on too much other than the meal and conversation I'll be sipping it with takeout rotisserie chicken. Kick back and relax, this is pretty chill wine so mugs or paper cups wouldn't be too out of place. Get it while you can!

Happy Sipping,

Ryan Sullivan

Sunday, 12 November 2017

New Instagram Account

Hey Fellow Winos

Like my blog?

Then check out my new Instagram dedicated to great wine at an affordable price

I'll still be blogging about my great picks with some fun education peppered throughout just now on Instagram as well.

Happy Sipping 

Ryan Sullivan 

Sunday, 5 November 2017

November 11th Vintages Release

Hey Fellow Winos

My top picks for this upcoming Saturday, November 11th Vintages release. 

1. 2013 Cave De Turckheim, Brand Grand Cru, Riesling, Alsace, France at $37.95 
Alsace is in the north-east of France on the border with Germany and has a tumultuous history of bouncing back and forth between French and German control. This meshing of cultures has allowed German grapes to thrive, made in a French style. Some of the best Riesling grows in Alsace, and the best of the best grow only on 51 Grand Cru plots of land known locally as lieux-dits. These 51 lieux-dits have the perfect Terroir for Riesling to thrive. This Riesling comes from the Brand lieux-dits in the Haut-Rhin (southern half of Alsace) showing a perfumed floral nose with citrus, crisp pear held together by a steely backbone. Pair with Choucroute Garnie (Alsatian Sauerkraut) or a spicy Pad-Thai. Grand Cru Riesling for under $40, yes please. 

2. 2014 Closson Chase, Chardonnay, Prince Edward County, Canada at $28.95
I love the county and I really love Chardonnay from Closson Chase. The limestone-based soils and cool climate in Prince Edward County are similar to Burgundy with a lot of winemakers styling their chardonnay in a Burgundian style. Mineral notes of crushed rock combined with lemon, apple, and a smooth yet crisp long finish are what differentiates these wines from the 15% alcohol vanilla bombs from old-school California (although a lot of winemakers in California are leaving this style behind). 2014 was a cool year so expect a little more stylistic of Chablis rather than central Burgundy. Pair with lobster and arugula spaghettini in a lemon and parmesan sauce. Best to pick this one up while visiting the winery on a weekend getaway if you can.

3. 2014 Stephane Aviron Vieilles Vignes, Moulin-A-Vent, Beaujolais, France at $21.95
“Vieilles Vignes” means Old Vines and at roughly 100 years old these vines have been around the block. As vines age, they produce less and less fruit but more concentrated flavors which makes much better wine, quality over quantity.  Moulin-A-Vent is one of the 10 Crus of Beaujolais and just like the lieux-dits of Alsace, they represent the highest quality specific plots of land to grow grapes on. Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape, light and quaffable, best enjoyed young and slightly chilled. Crus Beaujolais, however, is a fuller body style wine worthy of some aging and some respect. Expect red cherries and blackberries with a mineral spine, smoky spirit, and a smooth finish. I simply can’t wait to sip this wine with a warming meal such as a Tomato, Chard and Gruyere Casserole. Crus level Beaujolais is far too often underappreciated and undervalued, at least not by me. 

4. 2006 Chateau Bouscasse Vieilles Vignes Madiran, Southwest France at $38.95. 
Here we have another example of “Vielles Vignes” old vines, this time they are roughly 150 years old. The Tannat vines used here provide a massively rich, intense and structured wine with great depth and concentration. This full-bodied red wine from the French-Spanish border has a bit of that Spanish flair so expect some higher alcohol, lower acidity, bold black fruit like blackberry and plum flavors and bolder tannins. I would pair this with a French rack of lamb on a winters night. Be sure to decant this 11-year-old beauty otherwise it will be as harsh as hiking the Pyrenees mountains separating the two countries wearing only crocks. What a sin. 

5. 2014 Corte Medicea Athos, IGT Toscana, Italy at $28.95
This IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipca) wine from Tuscany is made in the traditional style, although contains a few unusual grapes. This wine made of 100% Merlot that will be complex full of red fruit, spice and held together in an almost creamy smoothness. This wine is quite balanced so it’s fruit, acidity, tannin, and spice are all harmoniously complementing each other as opposed to competing for the top spot. Scored 99 by Luca Maroni a wine writer in Italy which seems a bit high but heck I’m intrigued. Pair with a Pasta Bolognese and loud Italian family conversation, preferably with multiple hand gestures.

6. 2006 Ardal Reserva, DO Ribera del Duero, Spain at $22.95 
Here you can sip an 11-year-old wine, aged for 24 months in French and American oak that has been resting in the bottle for some time now. This 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon blend offers a full-bodied wine that should have some graphite and wild herbs on the nose with red fruit, black fruit and almost a chocolate note on the palate. Let this Spanish bull relax in a decanter or your glass for an hour otherwise you may get impaled by its horns. Pair with a big, bold Spanish lamb, baked potato, and some passionate flamenco music, you’ll feel you're in rustic Spain.

Lucky Number 7

2001 Maison Roche De Bellene, Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy, France at $106.95. 
This 16-year-old Premier Cru, Pinot Noir from Gevrey-Chambertin is something quite special. Pinot Noir from Burgundy is one of the greatest treasures in the wine world and finding one that already has 16 years on it that doesn’t cost a mortgage payment makes this find even greater. Pinot Noir is a grape that can really soak up the terroir of a specific place and when you are sipping Gevrey-Chambertin, you aren’t sipping Pinot Noir, you're sipping the terroir of Gevrey-Chambertin. Limestone soils on a sloping south-east facing hill capture the sun and nurture the grapes into adulthood. No Pinot Noir anywhere else on earth will taste like this, that’s what makes it so special. 

This aged Premier Cru although slightly lower in quality/status than a Grand Cru, will still offer incredible suppleness with coddling aromas of earth, mineral, and flowers. On the palate, a complex symphony of flavors like dried cherry, fall foliage and an earthiness performing so harmoniously it may be worthy of a tear. I would be afraid to pair this with any food as to distract me from such a heavenly experience, but a well-made Boeuf Bourguignon simmered for several hours would certainly hit the spot. Yes, it’s $100 but considering some Pinot Noir from Burgundy can be in the thousands for a single bottle I’d say this is totally worth it, splurge. I would sip this on a quiet Christmas eve before the extended family arrives. Merry Christmas. 

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Happy Sipping,

Ryan Sullivan

P.S. Enjoy some "Pinottttttt Noirrrrrrrr" 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

What grows together, goes together!

Hey Fellow Winos

Just wanted to do a quick update and share a few meals I've had with some wine including some from my picks. When pairing food with wine the saying goes "What grows together, goes together".

Italian heavy ragu pasta with beef in the fall or winter, go northern Italian Piedmont for some heavy hitting red wines like Barolo, Barbaresco. Perhaps a simple pizza, go a little more simple like a younger Chianti. Italian food, Italian wine. French food, French wine.

Tonight, for instance, I'm having a Jamie Oliver inspired oven baked ragu and pairing it with a 2011 Morellino di Scansano, Tuscany, Italy for $19.95 The acidity in the Sangiovese grape (heck most Italian grape varietals) cuts through the acidity of the tomatoes and cozies up to the sausage.

Another meal I made recently was Julia Childs, Boeuf Bourguignon paired with a 2014 André Delorme Bourgogne, Pinot Noir, France at $22.95 French recipe from Burgundy, paired with a wine from....wait for it...Burgundy. The mushroom earthy tones of this meal pair exceptionally well with the earthy and mushroom tones from a Burgundy Pinot Noir. It's not science, just experience over hundreds if not thousands of years of trial and error. 

Let's say you are going to do a steak on the BBQ. Is this a large cut of meat that will have bold flavors by being covered in peppercorns or steak spice? If so, you may want to go with a bolder red wine from a hot climate. Perhaps a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley in California or a Spanish Tempranillo from Rioja. Perhaps you are doing more of a quiet Fillet Mignon in a Bordeaulais sauce with scalloped potatoes, then maybe a bottle of Bordeaux from the right bank like Saint-Emilion or Pomerol, a moderate climate. Big steak, big wine. Quiet steak, quiet wine! 

Cabernet Franc, for instance, is a great varietal and is known for its green notes like bell pepper. A Cabernet Franc would then pair well with a steak and perhaps some roasted asparagus or roasted green peppers. Try to match the green notes in the wine to the green in the meal. See where I'm going with this? Below is when we were out at Terroni's on Adelaide, an Italian charcuterie plate paired well with a bottle of Etna Rosso from Sicily. Italian meats, Italian wine. 

Read the back of the wine label for some descriptors or simply scan the bottle barcode using your trusty LCBO app for insight into what to expect from the bottle and plan your meal accordingly. A mushroom and earthy Pinot Noir will go well with a mushroom and earthy meal like a winters stew. A bold black fruit 16% alcohol Napa Cabernet goes well with a charred steak spice filled cut of meat. Shiraz it's known for its peppery notes, perhaps a peppercorn steak with a bottle of Australian Shiraz? 

Remember one thing, and that is to have fun. Wine is about having a good time with friends and family preferably over a great meal. Sometimes though you just need to have a good time and wine can be the perfect starter, main and dessert. 

Happy Sipping,

Ryan Sullivan 

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...