How I make my selections...

Rarely will I publish a review of a wine that I did not enjoy; my taste is purely individual, as is your own. If I write about a particular wine, I do so because I also want you to try it.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wine for the Weekend

Sitting in Halifax's il Mercato earlier this week, I began to photograph and share the dining experience with those who follow me on Twitter.  It wasn't long before the restaurant's manager figured out that someone was seated in the dining room and chatting online about the menu and wine list.  With thousands of potential visitors at my fingertips, a wave of wine samples began to fill my cup accompanied by an endless array of Italian tastes.  One of wines to capture my attention that afternoon was a bottle of Garganega from Italy's Soave region and I'd like to share this interesting variety with you in this edition of Wine for the Weekend.  

Our red selection in this edition has both next week's American Thanksgiving in mind and the imminent cold weather here in the frosty north.  You might consider a bottle of full bodied Chilean Syrah to pair with the rich flavours of the holiday meal or as a warming comfort after last minute winter preparations this weekend.  

Our WineSpot this week is from Andrea Sherman who is originally from Ontario but is now working in Quebec on a long-term contract.  Andrea has a bottle of Ontario sparkling wine to share with us just in time for the string of holiday gatherings over the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the wine!


2010 Anselmi, San Vincenzo – Veneto, Italy

Aromas of peach, pear and white pepper, this is an Italian white with some body to it.  Garganega is the primary white grape in Soave, blended in this example with Chardonnay.  Fantastic tastes of tropical fruit and melon linger on the finish.  I could sip this all day! $14.95 (#948158) Vintages – dry

2008 Maycas Del Limari Reserva Especial Syrah – Limarí Valley, Chile

There is an uplifting character to this Chilean Syrah (Shiraz).  It is loaded with all the classic characteristics but retains a degree of freshness at the same time. Dark fruit (blackberry and cherry) combine with chocolate and spice on the palate; this will pair with the more pronounced flavours of the holiday meal.  $19.95 (#269423) Vintages – dry

Andrea has kindly suggested a bottle of Ontario’s own Angles Gate sparkling wine to get your holiday open house festivities off to a perfect start.  She also recommends pairing the bubbly with individual bite-sized seafood appetizers nicely organized on trays and strategically placed around the house so that your guests keep discovering new tastes as they circulate.

2010 Angles Gate, Archangel Chardonnay Brut – Niagara, Canada $19.95 

Tyler’s notes:  In the land of Champagne, the style that Angels Gate Chardonnay Brut emanates is called blanc-de-blancs meaning white-of-whites and a purely chardonnay sparkling wine.  Expect hints of toasty goodness bundled up in a lemon-lime citrus zest.  Perfect for toasting friends and family over the holidays!

Thanks for the thought provokingly delicious WineSpot Andrea!

~> I’d love to hear your thoughts on a food & wine pairing:  What is your favourite dish?  And which wine highlights the flavours of the food?  Send me a quick note with your thoughts and I’ll publish it in a future edition of Wine for the Weekend.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wine for the Weekend

My apologies for not publishing a Wine for the Weekend post last Thursday.  I've been busily writing a new piece on Super Tuscans for Oakville's online newspaper.  That article is now available at  Additionly, my 5-part series on Discovering Burgundy is now finished. You can read about 'the big adventure' by selecting the links following this week’s selections.  

In this edition of Wine for the Weekend I feature a white blend from Ontario that has always struck me as more of a patio sipper / book club style of wine.  With the 2010 vintage however, that same label now demonstrates the character that many of us look for in a fruit-forward white wine to pair with dinner.  My red selection this week is a showstopper Grenache based blend from the Rhône valley of France.  This wine could easily sell for $35-40, yet amazingly it retails for only $17 - I'm sold!

Thanks for reading and enjoy the wines...

2010 Flat Rock Cellars, Twisted - Ontario, Canada

In previous vintages, I have found the Flat Rock Twisted to be a rip-roaring, citrus zest infused fun-to-drink patio wine. This latest edition, while no less interesting, is somewhat more restrained and perhaps fuller on the palate, which I enjoy even more.  Loaded with flavour, the 2010 Twisted shows pronounced melon and stone fruit with the lemon/lime infusion still very much alive, if only slightly subdued.  Serve it well chilled.  Vintages #01578 750mL $16.95 (off-dry white)

2010 Château de Galifay, Cairanne, Côtes de Rhône Villages - France

Located just over an hour from the Mediterranean Sea, Cairanne is the western-most village in the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation. This outstanding Grenache based blend shows aromas of strawberry and sweet spices.  Medium bodied and uplifting with hints minerality followed by a core of plum sweetness that lasts through to the finish.  Sip it solo or with tapas on the side.  Vintages #290080 750mL $17.00 (dry red)

The week of October 9th to the 15th was spent hiking through the vineyards of Burgundy’s historic Côte d’Or region. I covered 35km in total tasting (and eating) my way through each village.  If you would like to read more about the trip or just enjoy the photographs, simply select a chapter link below; there are five parts in total.


Exploring Burgundy

Dessert in Nuits-Saint-Georges

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wine for the Weekend

Leaf detail and yard cleanup were the priority last weekend.  And while I did manage to address that task to completion, I believe that far more time was spent writing about my trek through the Côte d'Or earlier this month.   If you've been following my blog, thank you for reading.  If you would like to join the adventure, I've posted three separate articles detailing the trip.  I'll link you up after this week's wine selections.

Having come close to Pinot Noir saturation over the last two weeks, I found myself in search of a contrasting taste. A trip to the Italian section of our cellar produced a bottle of Barbera that quickly solved that dilemma.   Barbera's style hints at Pinot in terms if body and the obvious red fruit, but the real difference lies in the streak of acidity that I find pairs perfectly with pizza, pasta, burgers, or most other flavourful profiles - but the best part is that the lable I've found will only set you back 17 dollars.

This week's white selection sneaks above the $20 limit, sorry about that, but  trust me when I say this late harvest German Riesling is well worth the little bit extra.

In this week's WineSpot, Annette from Windsor shares her thoughts with us on a few go-to wines that she keeps handy for impromptu gatherings.  I think you will enjoy the convenience of her setup.

Enjoy the wines...

2009 Bollig Lehnert, Riesling Spätlese – Mosel, Germany

The pronounced late harvest aromas of apricot and honey jump out of the glass while a fine balance of sweetness and refreshing acidity hold the package together nicely.  Lime citrus lingers on the finish.  A very good bottle of Riesling to enjoy alongside Chicken Kiev.  Vintages #284422 750mL $21.95 off-dry

2009 Climent Cossetti, Barbera d'Asti – Piedmont, Italy

This wine knocked my socks off.   Like Chianti or Crianza Rioja, Barbera is light bodied with a bright, juicy core of dark fruits that will pair well with a wide range of food styles. This particular example also has a slight roundness on the palate, likely due to very ripe fruit at the time of harvest which takes it one-step beyond the typicity of the style.  Serve slightly chilled alongside dried meats, olives, and herbs breads. Vintages #106278  750mL $16.95 dry

Annette tells me that she does a fair amount of entertaining. Many of the guests who stop by her condo do so with little notice, which she really enjoys.  The key, she recalls, is that when impromptu guests arrive, you need to be ready with a stash of go-to wines and ready-to-serve appetizers.  "It's fun when people pop by for a visit and I like to make it look like I was expecting them." she jokes.

Annette's essential bottles for short notice gatherings

  • Sparkling wine - always chilled and ready-to-serve while you whip together a few nibblies and listen to the latest news over the countertop.  You can keep the cost down by serving Cremant, Prosecco, or Cava instead of expensive Champagne.
  • A crisp white and a fruity red - both pair well with so many different food styles.  Keep them both chilled.  The white is ready-to-serve and the red will warm slightly in the glass as you chat.  Think Pinot Grigio and Chianti classico or even Beaujolais.
  • A big red - sometimes people need a shoulder to lean on, and a soothing full-bodied red served at room temperature can taste so good at the wrong time.  Try California Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, or an Australian Shiraz

I love this thought process Annette - thank you for sharing your ideas with us!

~> I’d like to hear your thoughts on a food & wine pairing:  What is your favourite dish?  And which wine highlights the flavours of the food?  Send me a quick note with your thoughts and I’ll publish it in a future edition of Wine for the Weekend.

Link to: Exploring Burgundy's Côte d'Or

As always, thank you for reading and have a wonderful weekend.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wine for the Weekend

I cannot even begin to tell you what a thrill it was to walk amongst the vines, stopping to taste both the fruit and wine of each village as I made my way through beautiful Burgundy last week while in France.  I’ll spend the next couple of weeks writing about the various highlights of the trip and I’d like to thank everyone who sent messages and comments throughout the week. The WiFi as expected was a touch uncooperative when sending images home, but I did receive all your emails - Cheers for that!

In keeping with the Burgundy theme, this edition of Wine for the Weekend features a bottle of Pinot Noir from the northern half of the region.  This wine demonstrates the overall style of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or and we are very fortunate to have both the label and producer available here at the LCBO.   

While I prefer my white wine with a touch of delicacy, Jacquie, my lovely wife likes hers with a rip-roaring streak of flavour.  Actually, there are many people that enjoy their wine with a little spine.  Jac found this Chilean Sauvignon in the latest Vintages release catalogue and asked [with great persuasion] that I include it for you to try as well.  So here you go… pucker-up baby, this is a lively one.       

As promised George Ozegovic shares part II of his WineSpot with us.  This time George teases our taste buds with a hearty autumn dish and red wine to compliment…

Thanks for reading and enjoy the wine!

2011 Leyda Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc – Leyda Valley Chile

A citrus infusion of flavour intensity.  Serious verve and good kick for the price.  Expect grapefruit, lemon grass, lime, and a pepper spice to finish it off.  I’ve had comparable Sauvignon from New Zealand for twice the price. This style will stand up to many stronger flavoured dishes.  Try it with Asian or curried foods.   $16.95 (#99309) Vintages – dry

2010 Roux Père et Fils, Côte de Nuits Villages – Burgundy, France

This will more than suffice as a temping introduction to the fascination behind Burgundy's Pinot Noir.  Transparent red hints at a light to medium body while subtle aromas of butterscotch indicate the use of toasted oak. Red fruit and hints of cinnimon constitute the primary bouquet of this village level wine with juicy sensations of raspberry and cherry leading to a dry and slightly chalky finish. Enjoy with pork and baked ham.  $18.95 (#279075) Vintages – dry

George Ozegovic shares his thoughts on pairing Baco Noir with Braised Lamb Shanks:

Though I did protest (ok, more of a token act on my part), the chefs at the Marquee Steakhouse in Milton would not allow me to leave without tasting an autumn-approved, hearty dish.  They offered a braised Ontario lamb shank with mascarpone polenta and vegetables. Deep, rich and mouth coating goodness – the lamb deserved a local partner found in Henry of Pelham’s Baco Noir Reserve.  The spice/smokey notes and crisp acidity of the wine are necessary to balance the fattiness of the meat and creaminess of the polenta.

One of Ontario’s most consistent grapes, this Baco Noir offering is full bodied, deep purple in colour, black cherry and spice smoke. The ripe jam is backed by crisp acidity and a lengthy finish. Definitely a meat-lovers wine.

Braised lamb shanks at home (Chef Serdjo Lakich)
· Four lamb shanks
· 2 cups of mirepoix (diced carrots, celery, onions)
· A few sprigs of thyme, rosemary, parsley
· Salt and pepper
· Bottle of red wine (full bodied)
· Tomato sauce
· 4 garlic cloves
· Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Dice the carrots, celery and onions
Remove the silver skin from the lamb shanks with a sharp pairing knife; season with salt and pepper
In a braising pan, add olive oil and sear the lamb shanks until browned then set aside. In the same pan, add the mirepoix and sauté until softened; add the garlic, thyme, rosemary and parsley
Return the lamb shanks to the pan and completely cover with 1/3 red wine, 1/3 water, 1/3 tomato sauce; bring the cooking liquid to a boil (important); cover the pan with tin foil and put in preheated oven
Cook for 2.5 hours

Serve with polenta or mashed potatoes, sautéed or grilled vegetables

Thanks again George!

You can follow George on Twitter @CurdsandCliche for more of his thoughts on food, wine, and other topics at random. 

~> I’d love to hear your thoughts on a food & wine pairing:  What is your favourite dish?  And which wine highlights the flavours of the food?  Send me a quick note with your thoughts and I’ll publish it in a future edition of Wine for the Weekend.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wine for the Weekend

Last weekend was spent preparing for my hike through the French wine region of Burgundy.  I depart on October 9th with no specific date of return. ‘Reflection’ is the underlying theme – just me, a backpack, notebook, and a camera – that’s it… okay, a few technical whizbang items as well, but they’re for use only where I manage to find WiFi, if such a thing does in fact exist along the 45km stretch that constitutes the Côte d’Or; I’m thinking infrequent at best.  In addition to the characteristic wines of each commune, I’m in search of something different as I pass through each village of this historical region – perhaps a glass of white where they only grow red, maybe an uncharacteristic bottle of dessert wine or rosé that is never shared outside these beautiful stonewalled communities.   Burgundy is the birthplace of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it is also home to many of the world's undisputed great wines – I may never return… I will send for my family… Wish me luck!    

Switching gears, are you all set for Thanksgiving?  Will you be drinking Pinot or a lightly oaked Chard with your turkey and ham?  Perhaps neither… I’ve found two alternatives that that will fit the bill nicely.  For those who are planning a house full of family this holiday weekend, you will also need plenty of liquid encouragement to guide both yourself and the group throughout the day.   Of course red wine is essential and the one region that jumps to mind for its unlimited pairing potential is Beaujolais.  Additionally, I’ve found a laser focussed Riesling to substitute for the Chardonnay, if you feel so inclined.  I opened this Washington State white earlier this week and everyone in the room loved it.  

George Ozegovic 'Djordje' (say that three times fast) is a gentleman of discerning taste who also happens to have a family history in winemaking.  His stories fascinate me and his methods captivate my attention.  I am thrilled to share this page with him for what is sure to be a creative WineSpot.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the wine!

2010 Kungfu Girl Riesling, Charles Smith Winery – Washington State, USA

For those who prefer their Riesling with a touch of verve, this is your girl - KungFu Girl that is.  Obvious effervescence in the glass hints at the potential for residual sugar while that same degree of sparkle carries through to an uplifting texture on the palate - though the sweetness doesn’t stand a chance against the wave of mouth-watering acidity [insert random martial arts exclamation here]! Copious amounts of green apple and lime zest quickly follow-up, and while my personal taste is for a Riesling of somewhat softer and arguably more restraint, the roomful of people present while I tasted this wine unanimously down-voted my opinion.    
If you don’t care for the wine (and I’m told that view is preposterous) the label is certain to play up to the cartoon-loving kid in you.  So don your Yi Fu and crack open this action-packed bottle with finger foods or as a compliment almost any dish.  $18.95 (#273953) Vintages – off dry

2010 Louis Jadot, Combe aux Jacques – Beaujolais, France

For as long as my beverage consuming memory serves me, I have been drawn to this wine.  It represents significant quality for a reasonable price and the style pairs extremely well with a multitude of different menu options. This is mid-level Beaujolais (above that of November’s Nouveau release though still shadowed by the Cru class).  Combe aux Jacques is Louis Jadot’s Beaujolais-Villages effort which consistently shows a light to medium body with a refreshingly unassuming character.  The mix of both candied and spiced red fruit plus a clean line of acidity makes this an idea wine to accompany the smorgasbord of flavours that are poised to clutter your dining-room table this weekend.  Serve slightly chilled.  $15.95 (#365924) Vintages – dry

George Ozegovic shares his thoughts on pairing Bronzini with the 2010 Terredora, Loggia della Serra, a product of the white grape Greco di Tufo.

I would hazard to guess that few people welcome the autumn as much as I do – but mostly as a justification for the oncoming winter weight gain. This year, I’ve decided to change my routine and not eat my way through the season. I sat down with chef Serdjo Lakich and sous chef Mike Lyons of Marquee Steakhouse to enjoy a meal and discuss the perception of challenging wine pairings. And instead of entering the season with a traditional harvest heavy dish, I opted for European seabass (bronzini).

My approach to food and wine pairing is simple: keep both indigenous to a region and the wine should “kiss not hug” the food. Meaning, the wine should provide balance to the food and not smother it. In North America, we are extremely lucky to have (and share) many different food cultures but it often poses a challenge in what we pour. Winemakers are a reflection of their earth and their products are often best suited for what is caught, grown and reaped within the region. So, my choice of grilled, Italian caught seabass naturally called for an Italian wine – 2010 Terredora Loggia della Serra, Greco di Tufo

750 mL bottle | $17.95

Tasting note: Cool fermented and aged on its lees in stainless steel, this wine pops with citrus, peach and layered aromatics yet somehow remains soft. Very well balanced, medium bodied with excellent acidity. 

Normally, I would not choose a wine with such great aromatics and vibrant fruit to pair with a mild and finely textured fish – but I always consider the cooking method and accompanying side dishes. The wine’s residual sweetness and balanced acidity provide a perfect “kiss” to grilling and the sugars that come out in cooked vegetables.

~> That sounds just about perfect, but there is more to follow: George has kindly sent us a second food/wine pairings and I will feature his WineSpot with braised lamb shank in our next edition of Wine for the Weekend - stay tuned!

You can follow George on Twitter @CurdsAndCliche for more of his thoughts on food, wine, and other topics at random. 

~> I’d love to hear your thoughts on a food & wine pairing:  What is your favourite dish?  And which wine highlights the flavours of the food?  Send me a quick note with your thoughts and I’ll publish it in a future edition of Wine for the Weekend.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wine for the Weekend

In terms of wine related activities and late evenings, I believe that I may have overdone it recently.  Hence the absence of last week’s Wine for the Weekend post; Thursday to Sunday was actually spent battling a sinus cold – with no regrets mind you! 

Thanksgiving in Canada is just around the corner (October 8th to be precise) which means that it is also time to consider a few possible food/wine pairings to enhance the occasion.  There are several traditional combinations for the holiday feast, but in general I tend to think of the event along the lines of ‘special occasion = better wine’.  Holiday wine selections really do depend on the combination of flavours that present themselves throughout the day.  I’ll have more on the subject of holiday food and wine pairings after the post.   

On the topic of Wine for the weekend, I’ve found you a shockingly good red from the south of France that will compliment many of the richer-styled dishes and flavours.  I also have a very refreshing aperitif wine, though I could easily be persuaded to serve it alongside dessert as well - I think you'll enjoy that one too. 

Jennifer Hart has kindly provided us with this week’s WineSpot.  Jen and I have connected through the various WineAlign functions that we attend.  You are sure to be impressed by the two bottles of bubbly that she has selected for you.  

Thanks for reading and enjoy the wine!

Aperitif / Dessert
Lillet Blanc – Bordeaux, France

A blend of Sauvignon and Semillon from the vines of Bordeaux mixed with a shot of brandy and delicately packed with personality.  Tastes of peach, apricot, and a touch of orange rind bitterness; creamy on the mid-palate; refreshing, and everlasting.  Advertized, as an aperitif but this will also work with light desserts. You’ll crave another sip.  Serve well chilled.  $14.80 (#322297) Vintages – off dry

2009 Gérard Bertrand, St. Chinian Syrah/Mourvèdre – Languedoc, France

With a few minutes in the decanter, this Syrah-Mourvèdre blend opens up beautifully to show a mixture of sweet and spiced fruit aromas followed by a medium weight on the palate. Ample sweetness of fruit balanced by bright acidity to a dry and slightly chalk-textured finish.  This really hits the mark and will pair perfectly with beef or lamb over the Thanksgiving holiday.  $16.95 (#281832) Vintages – dry

A few thoughts on sparkling wine from Jennifer Hart:

The unparalleled growth in sparkling wine sales over the last ten years is due in part to the fact that the current wine-drinking generation does not reserve a glass of sparkle for special occasions only. The appeal, aside from the obvious yumminess-factor, is accessibility and the value/price equation. One no longer has to turn just to Champagne, there is a whole world of other options – literally! That is why this weekend, wine that sparkles is my suggestion. Bubbly stands up to the whole meal from salty nibbles to light, preferably berry-based, desserts.

Spain | LCBO 216960 | 750 mL bottle | $14.25

This wine has predominantly apple notes but the 15 months it spends in oak gives it some biscuit and nutty complexity. Its crisp acidity allows it to stand up to some lovely creamy cheeses like Delice de Bourgogne or St. Andre. It also pairs wonderfully with salty olives, Parmigiano Reggiano and charcuterie. The beauty of sparkling wine is its versatility. When serving hors d'oeuvres, and not certain what to match, the different flavour profiles of the food are effortlessly covered with one beverage.

Luxembourg | VINTAGES 970970 | 750 mL bottle | $16.95

Often Cava's more elegant cousin, Cremant is still very approachable at under $20.00. The recently released Bernard-Massard Brut Cuvee de L'Ecusson (Luxembourg) is especially impressive for $16.95.  The blend of Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir creates a lovely wine of reasonable complexity. Slightly off-dry, this wonderful wine has a lemon-lime, pear bouquet that follows through on the creamy palate. A moderate finish that ends with an enticing hint of nuttiness. This too would go beautifully with cheeses that have some strength, earthiness or nuttiness like Gouda, Brie de Meaux, Munster or Tomme de Savoie. Of course Cremant, Cava, Prosecco and most other sparklers pair nicely with the standard Champagne matches such as oysters, shellfish and seafood. Sparkling wine is also one of the few choices that will go with eggs.  Try it with tasty cheese soufflés especially when the main ingredient is Emmantal or Gruyere – think brunch!

Thanks for the great WineSpot Jen! 

~> Please take a moment to visit Jennifer Hart online at Wine_Gems

~> I’d love to hear your thoughts on a food & wine pairing:  What is your favourite dish?  And which wine highlights the flavours of the food?  Send me a quick note with your thoughts and I’ll publish it in a future edition of Wine for the Weekend.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wine for the Weekend

Last weekend was spent poking around used bookshops and flea markets north of Toronto where I stumbled upon an old copy of Wines of France by Alexis Lichine. I now have three copies of this book in various editions, one of which travels everywhere with me. Lichine's words captivate, and I am truly fascinated by his recollection of the historic villages in Burgundy. I also intend to follow his notes next month as I make my way through the same villages and stand in the same stonewalled vineyards 60 years later.  Excitement might be an understatement! 

This week, a Spanish favourite of North of 9 makes its third appearance in Wine for the Weekend.  This red changes slightly from one vintage to the next (as do all quality wines) and this year, I find that it packs a slightly bigger punch in terms of flavour intensity.  We’ll also travel to Germany’s Pfalz region for a taste of Gewurztraminer that I think you will enjoy as well.

I am thrilled to have Christine Cooper aka. MamaCoop sharing her thoughts with us in this week’s WineSpot.  I’ll be sure to link you to her website after the post where you can explore a never-ending cookbook of recipes, photos, and delicious pairings…

Thanks for reading and enjoy the wine!

2011 Darting, Gewürztraminer Kabinett – Pfalz, Germany

An über tasty last minute quaffer as we wave good-bye to summer.  Ripe stone fruit with a creamy richness; stewed peaches, lychee(ish), and a hint of spice that grabs you mid-palate.  The 10.5% alc/vol allows for the residual sweetness and there is the slightest amount of effervescence, though only barely detectable in terms of texture.  A touch more acidity would benefit, but this suffices nicely as a light, simple, and unassuming sipper.  Serve well chilled.  $16.95 (#944181) Vintages – off dry

2008 LAN Rioja Crianza – Spain

Aromas of vanilla extract, subdued dark fruit and hints of leather. I really enjoyed this. The taste explodes with plum skin and cranberry tartness; medium bodied and laced with mouth-watering acidity.  The cranberry lingers well into the finish.  This one just begs for a food pairing - let’s try it with tapas on the patio as the leaves begin to fall.  $15.95 (#166538) Vintages – dry

VINTAGES 947440 | Italy
750 mL bottle | $15.95 

Christine shares her thoughts with us:  Castello Banfi has a well-earned reputation for producing some incredible wines from Italy’s Montalcino region, in particular, their expensive Brunello di Montalcino labels.  At $15.95, the 2010 Centine may not be a bottle of Brunello; it is, however, a blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and a straight up bargain!   For its age and cost, this one is a winner all the way.

The 2010 Centine is very light on both the palate and nose.  It’s not a complicated wine but there is no denying the very distinct taste of sweet, juicy, ripe black cherries synonymous with wines produced in this region.  The blend of the three grapes lends itself to drinking this wine while it is still quite young.  I jokingly refer to this bargain as a 'Super baby Tuscan'.

As for food pairings, this wine begs for simplicity.  You can keep it really easy by serving it alongside a basic rustic cheese & charcuterie board or even better, a Margherita styled pizza with fresh basil, San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala.  This wine is also perfect for a cheap and cheerful spaghetti dinner - Nothing says loving quite like a big plate of pasta!  Here’s my recipe for my all time favourite pasta sauce, a traditional Emilia Romanga styled Bolognese: recipe link

Link to Vintages product availability >> here

* Please take a moment to visit Christine online at CoopSpeak Eats   

Thanks for the great WineSpot MamaCoop! 

~> I’d love to hear your thoughts on a food & wine pairing:  What is your favourite dish?  And which wine highlights the flavours of the food?  Send me a quick note with your thoughts and I’ll publish it in a future edition of Wine for the Weekend.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wine for the Weekend

We have the good fortune of celebrating four birthdays in our extended family at the end of August / beginning of September.  In other words, one party knocks-off a good portion of the family all at once i.e. less travel throughout the year.  But it’s a good size group and the party involves considerable preparation around our house. Jacquie is the head chef [extraordinaire] while I co-ordinate the table and beverage selections (sommelier type stuff, you know).  I’ll also add that we are diehard fans of the television series Hell’s Kitchen - Jac more so than myself, but we both watch the show faithfully each week.  In keeping with the theme and attempting to lead by Chef Ramsey’s example, as Jac was busily plating the food for our guests, I walked into the kitchen and boldly stated ‘Service Please’… Well, if looks could kill!  I won’t make that mistake again anytime soon.  I should also mention that I spend a fair amount of time on dish washing detail...

Let’s up the level of interest this week and try a dry white wine from Greece that is receiving some rave reviews online.  For our red selection, I’ve found you a very tasty version of the Sangiovese grape, though in this case, it is not from Chianti, but rather the Montapulciano region of Italy  

Our WineSpot this week is via fellow WineAlign taster and author of the website ‘The Yummy Grape’ - Monika Janek.   This week, Monika will have you fine tuning your palate with a bottle of slightly atypical California Chardonnay.  Of course she also pairs it with a delicious dish to complete the package perfectly.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the wine!

2011 Estate Hatzimichalis Chardonnay – Greece

Not that I have an issue with Greek wine, but this one really caught me by surprise.  Captivating from the first whiff to the very last sip.  Floral delicacy with subtle tropical aromas but in no way aggressive.  Just a hint of effervescence and oak lead to an uplifting and highly refreshing taste – you’ll enjoy this!  $14.95 (#269654) General list – very dry

2009 Castellani Filicheto, Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano – Italy

Standing at the checkout in the wine shop, the two people ahead of me in line were also buying this wine – we must be on to something here… From the Sangiovese grape, the nose is full of dark plum skin and more earth-driven aromas such as leather and cedar. Vibrantly refreshing to taste, even mouth watering; cranberry tartness and certainly delicious not to mention highly food friendly, though I could easily sip this one on its own all day! Tasted Sept 2012.  $17.95 (#184937) Vintages – very dry

VINTAGES #290536 | 750 mL bottle

As the Toronto International Film Festival descends upon the city for ten days of glitz and glamour, why not celebrate the star-studded week with a wine from California's most famous region - Napa Valley.
Monika recalls that the 2010 Anitca Chardonnay goes against the often stereotypical role of big, buttery and brutish. It resembles a classy Hollywood star from the 40s: smooth and elegant with considerable length.  Displaying flavours of lemon and pear with hints of spice, the mineral notes shine through. The oak takes a step back from the limelight. The 2010 Anitca Chardonnay is definitely fresh and "cool" in character. Although I personally would be happy to enjoy this Chardonnay on its own, it will pair well with braised pork or grilled chicken with herb jus.  Not an inexpensive wine, but certainly one that you'll enjoy having in your collection. So go ahead and splurge! 

Link to Vintages product availability >> here

Thanks for the amazing WineSpot Monika! 

* Please take a moment to visit for more educational adventures in wine. 

~> I’d love to hear your thoughts on a food & wine pairing:  What is your favourite dish?  And which wine highlights the flavours of the food?  Send me a quick note with your thoughts and I’ll publish it in a future edition of Wine for the Weekend.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wine for the Weekend

Did you manage to find a bottle of that Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise I recommended last week?  Wasn’t that awesome!  A case has just arrived at the Newmarket LCBO for those in the area.  Grab it before it's gone!  

I spent last weekend on the road which unfortunately takes me away from my family, though it does present the opportunity to purchase a few bottles out-of-province.  Elderton Command 2005 was my score in Edmonton on Saturday afternoon. 

I’m in a bind this week:  I’ve got too many wines that need your attention.  They’re all from South America with the first being a Chilean in the form of Sauvignon Blanc and a really top-notch example at that.  But I’ve also stumbled upon a very classy Chardonnay from Argentina for only $11; you’ll need to try that one as well :)  Better yet, how about a bottle of Merlot – also from Chile – I enjoyed this one so much, that it prompted me to write about the grape in a new article via  The piece generated a nice compliment from Rex Pickett, author of the book Sideways and the story behind the hit movie.  I’ll link you up a little later in the post.        

Thanks for reading and enjoy the wine!

2011 Veramonte, La Gloria Sauvignon Blanc Reserva – Casablanca Valley, Chile

I have no idea who Gloria is, but let me assure you that she crafts a very fine Sauvignon in the cool climate of Chile’s Casablanca Valley.  Fragrant, crisp, and simply delicious; expect a lovely balance between the grassy herbal character and a flint-like minerality combined with lime and grapefruit citrus plus generous acidity to pair with a multitude of food styles.  Try with seafood, lemon chicken, and spicy Asian dishes.  Highly drinkable and not to be missed!  $12.95 (602649) General list – dry

2009 Concha Y Toro, Marques de Casa Concha Merlot – Rapel Valley, Chile

Typically softer than the big reds that we so easily recognize.  Dark fruit aromas in this example and hints of spice that entice your senses. Medium bodied and quite dry with a good balance between the fruit and acidity.   Plush yet lively to taste; fresh from beginning to end; a welcome taste.  Enjoy with roast chicken or sip it solo as the cool weather approaches.  $19.95 (939827) Vintages – very dry

2010 Finca El Origen Chardonnay – Mendoza, Argentina
750mL | LCBO #269993 | $10.95

I had the opportunity to taste this wine with Finca El Origen’s winemaker Gonzalo Bertelsen and a select group from the WineAlign team at a luncheon downtown this week.  To put it bluntly, there are a number of Chardonnay examples available in the $10 range that leave you with a feeling of inadequacy in terms of quality.  Far too many over-cropped and heavily oaked ho-hum wines leave drinkers with little option other that to move on to alternate grape varieties with hopes of discovering something significantly more captivating – until now… The 2010 Finca El Origen Chardonnay from Mendoza Argentina is a stunning example of the grape and at $10.95 is arguably the best in its class at the LCBO.   

My notes: 

The wine glistens in the light reflecting both its purity and clarity.  The colour is bright yellow with green hues at the shoulders.  Aromas only hint at oak influence with more focus on sweet ripe melon and lemon as a prelude to the clean, cool climate mineral texture and beautifully balanced acidity. Lovely combinations of citrus and herbal notes on the palate with a touch of creaminess and a slightly spiced finish.  There is a degree of complexity here that elevates this wine well above others in the price range.  Very enjoyable and a fantastic value.  

Link to the LCBO product availability for 2010 Finca El Origen Chardonnay

- “Terrific article, Tyler.  I learned a few new things.”  
Rex Pickett – author of Sideways

~> I’d love to hear your thoughts on a food & wine pairing:  What is your favourite dish?  And which wine highlights the flavours of the food?  Send me a quick note with your thoughts and I’ll publish it in a future edition of Wine for the Weekend.