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QUENCH MAGAZINE APRIL 2016 WHO KNOWS BEST × 18 ARE PROFESSIONAL TASTERS TRULY IMPARTIAL? BY TOD STEWART MORE REFINED × 21 IT’S TIME TO REMEMBER THE SOMETIMES LOST SYRAH. BY MICHAEL PINKUS CONCRETE × 24 LOST IN THE COLDNESS OF STAINLESS STEEL, CONCRETE IS MAKING A MAJOR FERMENTING COMEBACK. BY TIM PAWSEY
STOP FREAKING OUT × 27 PEOPLE NEED TO JUST STOP FREAKING OUT OVER THAT CRAZY NOTION THAT MILLENNIALS ARE KILLING WINE. BY RICK VANSICKLE THE SECOND RISE × 30 THE STORY OF IRISH WHISKEY IS AS LENGTHY AND RICH AS IT IS RIDDLED WITH DISAPPOINTMENTS. TILL NOW. BY SARAH PARNIAK SUGAR FLUSH × 34 SMARTLY REDUCING SUGAR IN YOUR MIXED DRINKS. BY SILVANA LAU EASY UP CLOSE × 40 8 RECIPES FOR WHEN YOU HAVE THE STUFF, BUT NO TIME TO FUSS WITH IT. BY DUNCAN HOLMES LOVE ME, FOR I AM BITTER! × 46 DEAR UMAMI, ARE YOU LISTENING? AS DICTATED TO SILVANA LAU
DEPARTMENTS COOKING WITH APICIUS × 48 I’VE BEEN FASCINATED WITH ANCIENT ROME SINCE I WAS A LITTLE GIRL. BY NANCY JOHNSON A NEW FASHIONED ORANGE SLICE × 50 THERE IS ONLY SO MUCH YOU CAN DO TO FANCY UP AN OLD FASHIONED. THAT IS, UNTIL NOW.
NOTED × 51 EXPERTLY-TASTED BUYING GUIDE FOR WINES, BEERS AND SPIRITS FROM AROUND THE WORLD. MAJOR COLLISIONS × 64 A SMALL TOWN IN ITALY WHERE THE COLLISION OF MUSIC, LITERATURE AND WINE HAPPENS. BY GURVINDER BHATIA IT’S GONNA BE BIG × 66 MY PREDICTION FOR THE NEXT BIG THING IS SHERRY. BY TONY ASPLER APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 3
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WE HAVE A LOT OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR SELF ANALYSIS IN OUR LIVES. OFTEN WE LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND ASK OURSELVES PIERCING QUESTIONS LIKE, “ARE MILLENNIALS RUINING THE WORLD?” And “Is there too much sugar in my
drink?” Or is the question, “Can professional tasters be impartial?”
4 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
Very much enjoyed Silvana’s article Snack to the Future. I don’t believe Ramen is dead. It’s a staple in my weekly menu, but trying out the other Asian dishes Silvana mentioned has made me rethink that. I went back to Okonomiyaki recipe in the Mav Chef’s issue [October 2015; recipe by Kazuo Akutsu] and found a new regular recipe for my week. So… thanks! Aaron Meeker, Alberta Made the tomato spice muffins [February/March 2016; Don’t Have Your Cake] when my 10-year-old niece was visiting and she loved them, which was kind of a shock for me, since they have raisins, tomatoes and all the lovely things children tend to not eat. Keep the delicious recipes coming! Courtney Nadeau, email My wife and I have been very excited to have wines (and beers) available at grocery stores in Ontario this coming fall. Being able to pick up our dinner wine at the same time we’re shopping for the week’s groceries will definitely be more convenient than having to traipse across town to a different store for our evening tipple. Thanks for keeping us posted on these developments through quench.me [Ontario Grocery Stores Finally Get to Sell Wine (Kind Of)]. Lucas O’Connor, Ontario
In the Next Big Thing issue, we decided to ask these questions and more. In a lot of instances, I find that the best people to answer are those in the middle of it. It’s good to go meta every once in a while. If we never looked within, we wouldn’t understand without. I think that last question of impartiality is one of the most important in our industry. We work really hard to not only hire the best — Quench has more awards for writing than any other Canadian food and drink magazine — but to also press for their trustworthiness. It’s something we’re proud of. So, as you run through the pages of Quench, remember that over the last 45 years we’ve pushed the boundaries of food and drink writing, and brought our readers only the best. That’s something you can trust.
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CONTRIBUTORS Wine is a never-ending story and an infinite source of discoveries, keeping Gilles Bois busy all year long, at home or abroad, as a wine judge or among friends. He likes to share his passion with the people who make wine and with readers across Canada.
Tim Pawsey (a.k.a. The Hired Belly) is a much-travelled food and wine critic. He writes, tweets and shoots for the North Shore News and Vancouver Courier. He also writes monthly in WHERE Vancouver, and contributes to Taste, Quench, Montecristo and others. In 2012, Tim was honoured to be inducted as a “Friend of the Industry” into the BCRFA Hall of Fame. Taste with him vicariously at www.hiredbelly.com and follow him at rebelmouse.com/hiredbelly.
When he’s not writing about wine, drinking wine or publishing his new Canadian Wineries, Tony Aspler is walking Pinot the Wonderdog and editing her Facebook Page. Read more at www.tonyaspler.com.
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APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 7
FLOR DE SAL IN FOLDER
À LA CARTE Q SCHOOL × 10 NEED HELP FINDING A NEW RESTAURANT? HERE ARE 4 APPS TO HELP YOU WITH THE MOST IMPORTANT CHOICE OF THE NIGHT. GOOD FOOD BY NANCY JOHNSON × 12 SPRING BRINGS MANY WONDERFUL THINGS TO THE TABLE, CHIEF AMONG THEM, ASPARAGUS. UMAMI BY KATIA JEAN PAUL × 13 MIKI IZUMISAWA IS SKEWING WHAT WE THINK ABOUT SUSHI. FEED BY TOM DE LARZAC × 15 LEARNING MY MOTHER’S TRADITIONAL POTATO SOUP. LAZY MIXOLOGIST BY CHRISTINE SISMONDO × 16 USING BEER IN COCKTAILS SEEMS LIKE A NATURAL FIT. BON VIVANT BY PETER ROCKWELL × 17 WHAT’S FAIR TRADE, AND WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH WINE?
APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 9
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT Need help finding a new restaurant? Download one of these restaurant-finder apps. Each one takes a different approach to dining out, so try them out to find the app that works best for you. Almost all of the apps listed below cover major Canadian cities, some of the smaller, rural areas in Canada and all the US. They are also all FREE, which is always a plus. FIND. EAT. DRINK.
iOS only Top chefs, bartenders, butchers and food connoisseurs provide the recommendations for all the restaurants, so you know you’re getting the inside scoop when you’re searching for a new place to eat through this app. Unfortunately, this app hasn’t quite expanded much farther into Canada than Vancouver, Whistler, Toronto, Montreal and St-Benoit … hopefully if the demand is there, they’ll branch out to other Canadian locations.
iOS, Android and Windows Zomato provides a more social experience — you can add restaurants and friends to your feed to see where and what people are eating, read reviews and get suggestions for your next date night. The downside is that there is a bit much going on in the app, so it can be a touch overwhelming. 10 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
iOS, Android, Windows & Blackberry Think of this as Instagram specifically for food — and only food. The feed features photos of the “best dishes” from restaurants in the area. Double-tapping on an image gives you details about the dish, location of the restaurant and the option to see other dishes from that restaurant. The slightly annoying aspect of this app is that you have to click “find on Yelp” to see user reviews and other details about the restaurant itself. But then again, you do get to see food porn.
iOS and Android If you want to know which restaurants in your area have space for your dinner party, OpenTable is the app for you. Enter the number of people, date, time and location, then hit search to get a list of all the restaurants in the area that can accommodate your party at that specific time. The downside is that it only features restaurants that participate in the OpenTable reservation program.
Yelp and Foursquare are also big names in restaurant reviews, but they’re more general-purpose business-finder apps. They’re mentioned honourably because they are helpful for reviews, ratings and suggestions. ×
G N I T S A T N A 6 I 1 R 0 T 2 AUS TREÁL MON
AUSTRIAN WINE COMING April 12th, 2016 Venue:
Trade walk-around tasting from 2:30 to 5:30
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GOOD FOOD BY NANCY JOHNSON
A bunch for the season Spring brings many wonderful things to the table, chief among them, asparagus. Following are two ways to enjoy the season’s delicious bounty. ROASTED ASPARAGUS WITH PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO SERVES 6 AS A SIDE DISH Thicker asparagus roasts quite well, although you can use slender by cutting back on the cooking time. To trim off the woody part of the asparagus stalk, bend each spear until it breaks. It will snap off right at the point where the stalk begins to toughen.
2 bunches asparagus 2 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 1 tsp minced fresh thyme Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice Coarse-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish 1. Preheat oven to 425˚F. 2. On a baking sheet, combine the asparagus, oil, cheese,
thyme, salt and pepper. Spread the asparagus in a single layer. 3. Roast about 15 minutes or until asparagus is tender and somewhat browned. Transfer to serving platter. Toss with lemon juice. Garnish with cheese.
RISOTTO WITH ASPARAGUS
A chef taught me to stir in a few tablespoons of warmed heavy cream to make risotto dreamier and creamier.
4 cups chicken broth 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 small red onion, minced 1/4 tsp dried thyme 1 cup Arborio rice 10 slender asparagus spears, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
12 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 2 tbsp heavy cream, warmed Grated Asiago cheese, for garnish 1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer. 2. In a large saucepan, heat oil. Add onion and thyme. Sauté over medium-low heat until onion is softened. Add rice; cook, stirring to coat, 2 minutes. 3. Add 1 cup broth; cook, stirring, until liquid is absorbed. Add the asparagus and 1/2 cup of broth, stirring, until liquid is absorbed. 4. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until broth is absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. It should take about 25 to 30 minutes for the rice to become tender. 5. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir in heavy cream. Garnish with Asiago cheese. ×
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UMAMI BY KATIA JEAN PAUL
NOT YOUR AVERAGE SUSHI
CALIFORNIA, DYNAMITE, SPIDER: FOR ALL THE IMAGINATIVE SUSHI ROLLS CHEFS ACROSS NORTH AMERICA ROUTINELY SERVE, THE MAKING OF SUSHI REMAINS STEEPED IN TRADITION. Preparation, like presentation, is
the product of a steadfast ritual, right down to the knife work. Having worked with the best of them, ostensibly, Miki Izumisawa can cut the mustard. But why stop there? At 242 Cafe Fusion Sushi in Laguna Beach, Orange County, she breaks from tradition, offering up arty, nature-inspired sushi with bucolic monikers like Cherry Blossoms, Prairie and the astral-inspired M45 (Pleiades). Most dishes come with equally innovative, tailor-made sauces that put soy sauce, the staple sushi condiment, to shame, though the latter is often incorporated into the recipe. As a female sushi chef in a male-dominated sphere, her very presence behind the counter eschews convention. “I definitely want traditional Japanese sushi chefs to change,” says Izumisawa. “They continue to state how female hands have a higher temperature compared to males and are not appropriate for making sushi. I want to ask them: what is the most important thing to consider when making sushi?” For Izumisawa, that’s delighting the senses. Laguna Canyon, a rainbow roll drizzled with smelt eggs, seared with a blowtorch no less, and topped with sesame and a spinach mix, is her culinary homage to the expansive gorge. The popular dish is edible art, as visually pleasing as it is appetizing. Drawing on molecular gastronomy, her culinary sceneries, where ingredients like white truffles, beef carpaccio and mango are nary rarities, model her nature photography (she’s also an avid sculptor). In Izumisawa’s all-women kitchen, sushi isn’t bound by rules or constraints. “Placing various fish on top of vinegar rice with a dab of soy sauce — this is already delicious,” says Izumisawa. “[But] what if I change the preparation? What if I
use different ingredients? I find so many possibilities for new discoveries by removing the box of tradition.” Initially an aspiring P.E. teacher, at 23 she moved from Tokyo to Okinawa where she met renowned printmaker Bokunen Naka. Izumisawa apprenticed with him for three years, exploring her artistic side and cultivating a burgeoning spiritual connection to nature, a relationship that informs much of her culinary and artwork skills. In 1986, at 27, she headed to the United States, working in the kitchen at various restaurants for the first time. “The first thing I learned was how to make eggs at a breakfast diner,” she recalls. Before long, she acquired bona fide culinary chops; she became head sushi chef at the now-defunct restaurant Sambi of Tokyo in Downey, California, and even worked with master sushi chef Nobu Matsuhisa at his namesake restaurant Nobu in Las Vegas, though a tense working relationship with a fellow chef saw Izumisawa leave after a year. “At this point in time, I started wanting my own restaurant,” she says. “My good friend pushed me. I went all in, encouraging serendipity.” A yin yang symbol etched into the concrete on the street leading to 242, identical to the one she’d had tattooed on her back, sealed the deal. “I truly believe I was led here by fate,” says Izumisawa. Since opening shop in 2000, she has been experimenting without reserve, her culinary creations routinely drawing praise and a full house at her cozy 21-seat eatery. “I love initiating evolution with my own hands,” says Izumisawa. “Even to this day, it makes me excited to use colourful ingredients and ingredients which enhance the existence of sushi.” What does Izumisawa hope to tackle next? A sushi cake business perhaps, so long as the universe agrees. “If I receive a message or find a sign somewhere, I may start something all of a sudden.” × APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 13
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PASSING IT ON
I have written before that my son loves soup, but did I mention that he REALLY loves his grandma’s soup (he calls it “Babcia’s zupa”)? Since his grandma’s soup is one of the things that he will undoubtedly eat at any time, I thought that I should learn the recipe. What started off as a simple request for a cooking lesson — our “soup session” — turned into a complete tutorial. We decided to make several soups, and extended an invite to several other friends and family. We made stock for hours, building soup bases of different kinds, chopping this, a bit of that. The whole time, I was taking feverish notes to ensure that these soups were able to be duplicated — so the tradition could live on. After all was said and done, we ended up with five soups, due to the fact that we had a limited number of burners. The soups were tomato, barley, potato (my personal favourite), pea and pickle (yes, pickle soup — it’s a Polish thing, I am told). Since we had so many soups on hand, it seemed like a no-brainer to have a big dinner party to help us critique how we did, and of course help us consume all these soups. We fed 15 people in all, and some even made the sacrifice of eating five bowls of soup. Despite all the sampling and mouths to feed, I still went home with 10 jars of soup. It was perfect. It was a great learning experience. It seemed like a lot of work at the time, but everyone walked away with a full stomach, happy to have had a bit of homemade food that reminded everyone of their roots. Now that I think about it, I suppose this is how family recipes get handed down from one generation to another. Now go, create and enjoy Babcia’s zupa.
GRANDMA’S POTATO SOUP 8 1/2 2 1/2 1/4 1 4 2 2 4
cups cold water lb pork, neck or loin large carrots, whole leek, whole celery root, peeled and whole large parsnip, whole Salt and pepper potatoes, diced tbsp parsley, finely chopped tbsp butter slices of rye bread, cubed
1. In a large pot, add water, pork, carrots, leek, celery root and parsnip along with 2 tbsp salt and 1 tbsp pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. 2. After 30 minutes, add diced potatoes and continue simmering. 3. After an additional 30 minutes, remove meat and blend remaining soup till smooth. 4. Add parsley and return to low heat. If soup is too thick, add water to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. 5. In a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, add butter. When melted, add cubed rye bread. Toast in the pan for 5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Stir frequently. Croutons should be added to soup individually in the last moment before consuming. MATCH: A soup this flavourful needs something subtle. So open a bottle of Northern Italian white. × APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 15
LAZY MIXOLOGIST BY CHRISTINE SISMONDO
Hop to it! ONE OF MY FAVOURITE DRINKS OF ALL TIME IS THE MICHELADA. I like to make it with a sweet amber beer, plen-
ty of fresh lime, a splash of spicy clam cocktail and a sprinkle of salt. Poured into a tall ice-packed glass, it’s tart, savoury and sweet all at once, making for a perfect afternoon refresher. Given my love for the Michelada, you’d think I’d have branched out into other beer cocktails. You’d think. But almost all other efforts have failed. Nor had I ever sat down at a beer bar to be pleasantly surprised by a truly great beer cocktail. It got so that I wrote off the entire category. Then I met Kevin Delaney, head bartender at Hamilton’s Brux House, who made me several delicious cocktails with beer that convinced me this hybrid genre had legs after all. He isn’t quite ready to write the book on it yet, but he’s making pretty great strides towards establishing it as a serious category, even if he is modest about his accomplishments. “I’m only really just starting to get beer cocktails,” says Delaney. “I was trying to find a happy place for cocktails at Brux, which is, first and foremost, a craft beer bar. Beer cocktails seemed like a natural fit.” 16 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
Delaney, well aware of the spate of bad beer cocktails that have dampened people’s enthusiasm for these drinks, took his time trying to figure out how to approach the category, working his way up to ambitious concoctions with “baby steps.” “One of our owners is Mark Horsley, lead brewer at Nickel Brook, and through him we get access to all these fantastic beers,” recalls Delaney about his first attempt to combine beer and liquor. “We had their Kentucky Bastard on tap last winter, which is a dark and rich, vanilla-heavy, bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout.” Delaney used it in an Old Fashioned, subbing in the stout for both the bitters and water he would usually use as the kindling for the classic cocktail. From there, he muddled the sugar and beer together, added bourbon and orange zest, and christened it the “Old Bastard.” “The nice thing about beer is that there’s a few different ways you can use it,” explains Delaney. “With a stout, you’re adding a malty sweetness to the drink, but you can use a lighter beer, like a fruity sour, lager or pilsner, in a tall drink, like a Tom Collins instead of soda.” Sounds like a fun and relatively easy experiment but, for those of us not ready to invent anything new yet, Delaney kindly gets us started off with a tried and true recipe for one of his own signature drinks at Brux: the Tall, Dark and Handsome.
TALL, DARK AND HANDSOME
2 1 1 1 4 1
oz Averna amaro oz lemon oz orange oz simple syrup oz dark lager or pilsner dash bitters
Shake all ingredients except bitters and beer together over ice for 60 seconds. Strain into tall glass, filled with ice. Top it with a dark lager or a pilsner and add a dash of bitters. ×
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BON VIVANT BY PETER ROCKWELL
Is there a proper way to clean my expensive wine glasses?
ILLUSTRATION: MATT DALEY/SHINYPLIERS.COM
What’s fair trade, and what does it have to do with wine? Sorry to rain on your parade, but all is not fair in love and wine. While I’m no expert in activism or the social sciences, at its roots the fair trade movement is all about helping developing countries get equal treatment and appropriate pricing for their goods from people like us here in the developed world. You’re probably more familiar with the term being associated with coffee, since more than half of all the beans brewed come from small producers in Africa and Latin America. Easily taken advantage of, fair trade advocates, which include many of your favourite purveyors of the dark stuff, support these little guys by providing them with a “fair” return for their output. Wine is another commodity produced in developing nations — like South Africa and South America — often from grapes grown by independent farmers. Like their compatriots in the coffee business, many wineries buying those grapes in their respective countries support their sources through fair trade initiatives. If you’re concerned a fair trade wine may drink differently than a non-fair trade wine, don’t worry, that taste in your mouth is all good and fair.
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It doesn’t matter if you’re drinking from pricy stemware or not, tending to your receptacles doesn’t stop once you’ve downed your last drop of vino (or beer or spirits for that matter) and safely transported your glass back to the kitchen. As you might imagine, I’ve got more glass than a Venetian factory. My collection includes everything from fancy-pants Riedel glasses, designed in Austria to enhance specific grape varieties all the way, way down to a collection of Michael Keaton–themed Batman tumblers I collected from Ultramar gas stations back in 1989. I’m a firm believer that, while a wine will reveal much more of itself when provided the appropriate glass, sometimes you’ve just got to break out Batman to take the pretension out of what you’re pouring. But back to your cleaning question. You may be surprised to find out that most glassware can hit the dishwasher and come out the other end just fine. Even knowing that’s true, I always reserve one tray for my babies to inhabit alone so they’re the only ones together during the wash cycle. My thought is that like-minded glasses will respect each other’s space and that will help the team survive the journey. It’s worked for me so far. If you’re one of those anal-retentive types (or you’ve got really pricey glasses), doing it by hand is your only option. The washing part is easy. All you need is some warm water, a little delicate detergent and a place to place them to catch the excess H2O runoff. I have a relatively cheap cloth-wrapped foam drying mat I picked up at a kitchen-themed bric-a-brac store that does the trick just fine. Once the water has run its course off the glass, grab a couple of microfibre tea towels and prepare for the rubdown. This is not the time to channel your inner Arnold Schwarzenegger. With a towel in both hands, gently start at the base of the glass and work your way up the stem. Stay in the comfort zone when you reach the bowl and lightly massage the out- and in-sides until everything is bright and shiny. Want your stemware to look just-bought-ready when you serve? I love the tip provided by Maximilian Riedel, the face of the famous glassware maker, on YouTube. Just boil some water in a kettle and let some of its flowing steam roll into the bowl. When you’ve polished out the condensation, they’ll look like new. × APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 17
KNOWS by Tod Stewart
Objectivity. Those of us who write about beverage alcohol products are supposed to have it in spades. We are to assess each wine/spirit/beer from a standpoint of complete impartiality, never letting our personal preferences get in the way. Whether it’s a rare and coveted elixir, something far more ordinary, or an item so exotic and off the beaten path we may never have encountered it before, we, as “professional tasters” are supposed to be able to assess each sample based on its technical merits, never letting such trivialities as whether we really actually like the stuff influence our overall judgment. In fact, we’re supposed to be able to rule on the objective merits even of the things we taste and really don’t like.
It’s a noble idea, but is it practical (or even doable)? Sure, most of us “experts” can easily tell when a product is defective, when it’s unbalanced, when it’s too young, too old, too thin, too flabby, or just generally boring. Yeah, we can weed out the good from the not-quite-as-good. But can we really, definitively determine that one wine is deserving of a 100-point score, while another merits a mere 99+? Can we truly separate the “exceptional” from the “best in the world,” especially when we are comparing things as diverse as say, oh, I dunno ... whiskies? 18 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
Possibly the biggest “booze news” of 2015 was the proclamation, by English whisky sage Jim Murray, that Canada’s own Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye (henceforth simply referred to as Crown Royal) was the “World Whisky of the Year” — as noted in his Jim Murray’s 2016 Whisky Bible. This was almost akin to a splash of vodka in the faces of whisky worshippers everywhere (and a real kick in the stones for the Scots). It wasn’t Scottish — in fact, not a single Scottish dram made it into Murray’s top five list — or some exotic import; it wasn’t old or rare;
it wasn’t expensive; it wasn’t a “limited edition.” No, it was a commercially produced, globally marketed blended rye with no age statement and a price tag of about $34 (closer to $31 if you bought it in Ontario while it was selling at a two buck off promo price ... which just added insult to injury for those who got stiffed). But you probably didn’t buy it, simply because you never had the chance. In Ontario, in a very short period of time, sales of Crown Royal shot up by something like 400 percent. People were hauling the stuff out in case lots (regular folks, not restau-
× Read our interview with Jim Murray at www.quench.me/drinks/jim-murray-whisky/
BEST rateurs and bar owners). Canadian Rye. In. Case. Lots. Stories of physical altercations in LCBO stores were heard. If a shipment did happen to arrive at a store (stock destined for south of the border was even diverted back north), the manager wouldn’t even put it on the shelf. Why bother unpacking it when it was selling as a 12-bottle single unit? Block pile it on the floor and do your best to control what amounted to more-or-less a Zombie Apocalypse (with booze rather than brains bringing on the hunger). Eventually, a six-bottle per person purchase limit was imposed before the entire well ran dry in January. The whole episode was fascinating on a number of different levels, but mostly because it presented a perfect storm of sorts: the whisky was from our own backyard; it was affordable; it made for a perfect Christmas gift. Suddenly both “Jim Murray” and “Crown Royal” became global media sensations. Oh, yeah, it was also the best whisky in the world. Of course, some of the more cynical types (no names here) immediately wondered a) how much Diageo, Crown Royal’s multinational representative, paid Mr. Murray for the tribute (he’s adamant he can’t be bought), and b) if this wasn’t more
or less a calculated stunt to help Murray market his Whisky Bible to the Christmas-shopping-crazed masses. If this was the case, it kind of backfired. Crown Royal will get way more traction out of this than either Jim Murray or the Whisky Bible. In fact, I’d wager a bottle of Crown Royal that most of those freaking out to get the whisky still don’t know — or probably care — who Murray is, they just know that it was deemed the best in the world and, therefore, they had to have it, which, in itself, raises a few questions concerning herd mentality and the novelty factor. So let’s circle back to the notion of objectivity. Murray said that after tasting over 1,000 whiskies in 2015 alone, Crown Royal was the best of the bunch, garnering an incredible 97.5 point score. I tried it; a very nice whisky indeed, especially for the price. A few nights later, I had what can only be called the honour of tasting through The Macallan 1824 Masters Series — including The Macallan Rare Cask, The Macallan Reflexion, No. 6 and The Macallan M. Prices ranged from $400 to $5,000 per bottle. These were very nice whiskies, too. I mean, really nice. Was the $5,000 The Macallan M “better” than the $30 Crown Royal? Is an apple “better” than an orange?
Now, I’m not saying I’ve got Murray’s palate. But other than the fact that they are both called whisky, The Macallans and Crown Royal really have nothing in common. To be fair, Murray would no doubt explain that he’s not directly comparing one dram to another, but scoring each one on its own individual merits. Okay, but still, how can one taster get an aromatic rating of 24 out of 25, while another gets 23 out of 25? Surely there must be something, on some level, that transcends pure objectivity when it comes to favouring the aroma and flavour of one liquid over another. However, the professional/objective reviewer probably wouldn’t admit to simply “liking” sample A over sample B, since what someone “likes” is completely subjective. But so what? If the reviewer has an expert palate and a thorough knowledge of the subject matter, shouldn’t this be good enough to earn reader/listener/ viewer trust? If a critic was to say, “this is a great bottle ... I think you should try it,” (or write a review that implies the same thing) wouldn’t that be lauding enough for the average consumer to consider taking the recommendation of the expert? Does the stuff really have to have an impressive APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 19
SURELY THERE MUST BE SOMETHING, ON SOME LEVEL, THAT TRANSCENDS PURE OBJECTIVITY WHEN IT COMES TO FAVOURING THE AROMA AND FLAVOUR OF ONE LIQUID OVER ANOTHER. CROWN ROYAL NORTHERN HARVEST RYE ($33) The nose is distinctly fruity with hints of candy apple, fruitcake, baking spice (cinnamon, to be exact), vanilla, tangerine and fennel. Crisp, spicy, snappy and pure. A really nice dram. And, at the price, it’s a knockout. World’s best? Well, you decide!
THE MACALLAN 1824 MASTERS SERIES I’m always conscious about writing tasting notes for libations most readers will never have the opportunity to try. However, since I mentioned these in the story …
THE MACALLAN RARE CASK ($400) Dark chocolate and sultana notes waft up from the glass, complemented by freshly zested lemon and orange, with some allspice, wood polish, toffee and dried fruit fragrances mingled in. Smooth, rich and balanced, with notes of vanilla, clove and a touch of tobacco as it exits.
THE MACALLAN REFLEXION ($1500) Candied orange, exotic flowers, caramel, vanilla, nutmeg, toffee … they’re all here, with a suggestion of sweet, stewed fruit. Assertive and fairly spicy on the palate, it is nonetheless seriously complex, with toasted nuts, bitter chocolate, dried fruit and a dash of candied, cinnamon hearts on the lingering finish.
THE MACALLAN NO. 6 ($4500) “No. 6” refers to the number of facets cut into the stunning Lalique crystal decanter in which the nectar is housed. Aged exclusively in first-fill Spanish oak sherry casks. Like the decanter, the whisky itself is multi-faceted, with ripe red apple, fig, date, candied ginger, clove and marmalade. Rich and viscous in the mouth, this is an intensely concentrated dram sporting layer upon layer of seamlessly integrated spice, vanilla/oak, malt and crème brûlée.
THE MACALLAN M ($5000) I joked with one of The Macallan spokespersons that I was worth considerably more leaving the tasting than I was walking in. Malts for this extraordinary assemblage date back to 1940, with additional barrels of the 1947, ’48, ’49, ’70, ’80 and ’91 blended in for good measure. Intensely spicy and complex, with aromatics suggesting anise, smoke, nougat, traces of aged wood and just a bare — and pleasant — whiff of acetate. Clove, sweet tobacco, cocoa powder, raisin pie and lush red berries almost overwhelm the palate. Incredibly intense and long on the finish, with just a trace of smoke. In fact, this is the only The Macallan that has ever incorporated peated whisky in the blend. 20 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
score or “best in the world” tag attached to it to merit attention? The other thing about wines/beers/ spirits and other sensual items is that they are all, to an extent, situation dependent. The same wine, for example, can leave different impressions depending on when, where and with whom it’s tasted. I’m sure you’ve heard someone bemoaning that a particular libation they enjoyed in, say, Italy, “just wasn’t the same” when tried back in Canada. Of course it wasn’t. They were in Italy! I can tell you firsthand that a wine tastes different (i.e. better) when enjoyed with the winemaker, over a fabulous local meal while watching the sun set over the rolling Tuscan hills, than it does when sampled on its own in a tasting lab. Context dictates the difference between what is truly exceptional and what is just unquestionably good. In fact, speaking of wine, a good chunk of what is produced in the world is designed to show its real merits when paired with food. The winemaker intended it to be enjoyed, not judged. In any case, I’ve ranted many times in the past about scores, stars and other accolades, so I won’t go down that well-worn path yet again. But I will say that I think it’s about time we all lightened up a bit about the drinks that have been crafted for us to simply appreciate. Oh, yeah ... the World Whisky of the Year? I poured it for a number of people — from whisky aficionados to those who simply appreciate good spirits. The consensus? Most liked it. Some more than others. On the other hand, at least one thanked me for saving him 30 bucks. But nobody claimed it was the best whisky they’d ever tried (or even the best rye they’d ever tried). Nobody really agreed with the “best in the world” honour. Probably because they just weren’t being objective. ×
MORE REFINED by Michael Pinkus
DO YOU REMEMBER THE HEADY DAYS OF SHIRAZ? When
Australia stood tall in the saddle atop of the wine world. Cool climate regions wanted to be like them, hot climate regions wanted to emulate them and glasses had to be filled with Shiraz. It seemed there was no other wine in the world — no matter where you were located in the world Shiraz was in and you’d better be making it. Those days are gone. Today the term is relegated to Australian bottles alone. The grape that inspired those big, robust wines hasn’t gone away; truth is it has come back to its origins. Just like Prince changed his name to a symbol and then back again to Prince, Syrah has returned to, well, Syrah. Today it’s back to the grape in its purest form. If you’ll remember, Shiraz was big and powerful, an alcoholic fruit bomb loaded with blackberry, chocolate-cherry and subtle notes of pepper. But Syrah is more refined than that. Sure, pepper remains a staple but so are herbal notes and gentle red fruits. They aren’t wines that accost the tongue with big bold flavours. They sidle up to your palate, give you a wink and a nod, seemingly to say “Hello Sailor” as they seduce you with finesse, not overwhelm you with fruit while carrying a whack of alcohol. Syrah is making a comeback and nobody should be happier than the folks of the Rhône Valley, who never gave up on its true nature, as well as those cool climate regions (Ontario, New Zealand, Washington — just to name a few) who realized early on that even though they put “Shiraz” on the label to catch a trend, what they were actually making was the subtler version of the grape. “Wine drinkers are finding the new Syrahs a welcome change from the highly extracted high alcohol content of their Australian cousin,” says Paul Sawler of Dirty Laundry Vineyard in British Columbia.
Lailey Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake
Ontario winemaker and noted Syrah advocate Derek Barnett has this to say about the grape’s allure in a cool climate region: “Syrah in Ontario produces the most perfect food wine — floral, savoury and sometimes earthy notes with crunchy purple fruit aromas and flavours, balanced with great acidity. Winters have not been too kind recently but in the best vineyard sites [we can produce] classic cool climate Syrah.” Jeff Aubry of Coyote’s Run Estate winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake is of two minds: “No other variety can be such an inconsistent yielder and remain in the ground. It’s tough to grow in our cool climate; but every time I want to rip out that Syrah block, it produces an amazing, spellbinding wine, which people really respond to.” On the other side of North America, in Washington State, they also take Syrah very seriously: “Syrah is Washington State’s third most planted red variety, behind Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Styles vary from AVA to AVA, vineyard to vineyard, winery to winery,” says Steve Warner, president of the Washington State Wine Commission. “But generally speaking, Washington Syrah tends to nod at the Old World; benefiting from Washington State’s long summer days and major temperature swings at night, as well as our terroir. The resulting wines are balanced, with complex flavours and an acidity that helps make them age worthy.” The Australian way is no longer de rigueur. The Old World way is back and better than ever, because it has found new places to grow and thrive. Syrah is ready for its close-up, Mr. DeMille, and wine drinkers are receptive to what it’s bringing to the table. APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 21
01 Deerstalkers senior winemaker Tony Bish; 02 Julián Chivite, president of J. Chivite Family Estates; 03 Head winemaker Howard Soon from Sandhill in Kelowna, BC
DOMAINE LE GRAND RETOUR PLAN DE DIEU CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2013, RHÔNE VALLEY ($14.95)
CONCHA Y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA SYRAH 2012, CHILE ($19.95)
In a blend, Syrah adds so much and the Rhône offers great value in these wines: plum, leather, vanilla, black cherry and white pepper with a good chalky finish.
Simple and silky, with meaty, dark berries, a thick and chewy palate loaded with raspberry, and hints of mocha on the finish.
DOMAINE LES APHILLANTHES VIEILLES VIGNES CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2012, RHÔNE VALLEY ($29.95) Raspberry from start to finish with strawberry, cherry and plum thrown into the mix. The finish doles out a healthy dose of spice.
MICHAEL DAVID 6TH SENSE SYRAH 2012, CALIFORNIA ($24.95) There’s something here that really entices. It’s not typical but it is tasty: blueberry, smoky, rich raspberry, spicy, yet all nicely balanced — very alluring.
RUSTENBERG BUZZARD KLOOF SYRAH 2010, SOUTH AFRICA ($24.95) Plum, black cherry, pepper and smoke; chewy and chunky with a gritty finish.
GORDON ESTATE SYRAH 2012, WASHINGTON ($32.95) Pretty floral and blueberry notes with hints of chocolate and white pepper.
DOMAINE DE VIEUX TELEGRAPHE TELEGRAMME CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2013, RHÔNE VALLEY ($49) Juicy cherry with gentle spice, raspberry and anise aromas. A silky smoothness on the palate that follows through to the finish.
DIRTY LAUNDRY KAY-SYRAH 2012, BRITISH COLUMBIA ($26.95)
E. GUIGAL GIGONDAS 2011, RHÔNE VALLEY ($36.95)
Proving that Dirty Laundry is more than just Gewürztraminer, this is meaty and raspberry, with a dose of white pepper and violet/ floral notes. A delicate and delicious Syrah from the Okanagan.
Lots of lovely rich cherry, smoky-chocolate, spiced-plum and raspberry here; good tannin backbone with a smoky red berry finish.
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LA FERME DU MONT LE PONNANT CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2012, RHÔNE VALLEY ($18.95) Syrah is a supporting player here, but still adds much to the proceedings: liquorice, spice, blackberry, spiced cranberry, loads of acidity with a great mid-palate layered with red and black fruit.
VINA SAN PEDRO 1865 SINGLE VINEYARD SYRAH 2012, CHILE ($19.95) Simple Chilean Syrah, but well ripened to bring out all the raspberry, cherry, cinnamon and smoke you want.
NINQUEN ANTU CHILEAN MOUNTAIN VINEYARD SYRAH 2013, CHILE ($17.95) Smoke and pepper take the lead here with a little blackberry and black raspberry backing it up.
FINCA LAS MORAS GRAN SYRAH 2012, ARGENTINA ($26.95)
03 SANDHILL PHANTOM CREEK VINEYARD SYRAH 2012, BRITISH COLUMBIA ($44.95) Showing some textbook smoked meat, black cherry, plum and vanilla all coming together with a hint of liquorice and spice. Another delightful Syrah from BC’s Okanagan Valley.
FAMILLE PERRIN LES CORNUDS VINSOBRES 2013, RHÔNE VALLEY ($17.95) Raspberry, white pepper, smoke, cherry, violets; consistently good vintage to vintage.
ALCENO PREMIUM 50 BARRICAS SYRAH 2012, SPAIN ($13.95)
Simply put, this is a delicious Syrah with lovely black fruit, mocha, white pepper and raspberry notes — plenty more to come with age.
CHIVITE FINCA DE VILLATUERTA SYRAH 2011, SPAIN ($25) Another single-varietal Syrah from Spain, this time from a single vineyard: smooth and silky with black fruit, nice acidity and gentle spice.
COYOTE’S RUN RED PAW SYRAH 2013, ONTARIO ($25) Here’s a twist aged in 100% American oak for 12 months (20% new): meaty with sweet fruit (à la cherry) and vanilla. There’s even a slight cigar box note to the finish with no aggressive tannins.
LAILEY BARREL SELECT SYRAH BARREL SELECT, ONTARIO ($35)
Vibrant fruit-driven Syrah that hits all the raspberry, dark fruit and pepper notes you’d expect, from a place you don’t expect: Spain.
All Lailey estate fruit goes into this 6-barrel bottling: aromas are mellow and meaty with white-pepper; palate is raspberry with white pepper, strawberry and redcurrant.
FESS PARKER THE BIG EASY SYRAH 2012, CALIFORNIA ($35.95)
13TH STREET ESSENCE SYRAH 2012, VQA NIAGARA PENINSULA ($44.95)
Sometimes California doesn’t make it easy to pick out certain grape varieties. This Syrah has creamy, smoky, mocha and peppery notes; it is a lovely sip.
Smoky, meaty character with peppery notes on the back end. Palate shows those meaty and pepper elements with hints of red raspberry — a cool climate Syrah to die for.
GERARD BERTRAND GRAND TERROIR LA CLAPE SYRAH/CARIGNAN/MOURVÈDRE 2011, MIDI ($18.95)
SACRED HILL DEERSTALKER SYRAH 2013, NEW ZEALAND ($69)
The French still have the knack to blend Syrah to get the best from it: gentle white pepper, meaty and juicy with nice cherry nuances.
Smoky with gentle pepper, blackberry, spiced-raspberry and a long finish. The balance and finesse here are amazing. × APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 23
CONCRETE by Tim Pawsey
A FEW YEARS AGO DURING A VISIT TO MURCIA, IN THE SEARING HEAT OF A SPANISH SUMMER, WE WERE USHERED INTO A SIMPLE, TWO-CENTURIES-OLD BUILDING.
An old farmhouse turned winery, its thick stone walls offered instantaneous relief in contrast to the baked outside. Below us was a cellar with a large concrete vat. From clay urns to amphorae and vats, stone and soil worked in various forms have played a role in the history of winemaking and storage over the ages. Travel the world enough and you’ll find evidence everywhere, from small batch fermenters to giant 20,000-litre concrete vats that were once the mainstays of local co-ops from Yecla to Maipo. With the onset of “modern” (as in “sterile”) winemaking, most of those massive, hard to clean, old vats fell into disuse, as stainless steel became the more logical medium for most wines not kept in oak. Even the few tanks that do remain in use have been reconditioned with a prophylactic liner of some kind. In the last few years, however, concrete’s star has risen again, spurred in part by an interest in natural winemaking, greater attention in the New World to terroir and what might loosely be described as “authenticity.”
ENTER THE EGG
Evidently more than a passing fad, egg-shaped concrete fermenters have grown rapidly in popularity over the last few years, particularly since being brought into service by luminaries such as Michel Chapoutier and Loire biodynamic guru Nicolas Joly. As many have pointed out, there’s nothing new in the idea of the concrete tank itself, which has been around for at least a couple of centuries, if not longer. However, what’s revolutionary in the modern incarnation is the use of the egg shape itself — and its link to the Golden Ratio. Sometimes referred to by the 21st letter in the Greek 24 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
alphabet, Phi, the ratio pops up in several examples of ancient architecture, ranging from the Great Pyramids to the Parthenon. In the modern era, the concrete vat was developed by French pioneer Nomblot, who’s been making concrete tanks since 1922. Curiously, the company used to specialize in mausoleums until one day (as luck would have it, at a funeral) a winemaker asked if they could put a valve on a mausoleum. Nomblot obliged — and a new industry was born. It was pioneering Chapoutier who kick-started the current trend, commissioning his first egg-shaped fermenter in 2001. He worked with the manufacturer to come up with a design that was an evolution from the kinds of amphorae used in Roman times, though with some necessary adjustments. The Nomblot recipe — now widely emulated — is entirely natural, using no chemical additives.
BC’s most proactive early adopter, Okanagan Crush Pad, incorporated concrete eggs into its plans as soon as the winery hit the drawing board. When owners Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie unveiled their plans in 2010, they had a fermenter specially shipped in to Vancouver from California’s Sonoma Cast Stone, as the idea was still quite novel at the time. Since then, in a relatively brief five years, in wine terms, OCP has all but eliminated oak from its winemaking, focusing entirely on concrete. Their current concrete capacity totals some 60,000 litres, shared between 17 different vessels, most of which are 4,500-litre volume eggs, along with half a dozen 2000-litre fermenters. Coletta says the winery is so maxed out that for their last shipment they could only find room for five, not six, fermenters. The only barrels left on the property (aside from those used for clients’ products) are employed for Haywire’s port-style wine. PHOTO: SAMUEL ZELLER/UNSPLASH.COM
Their philosophy has been shaped with consulting winemaker Alberto Antonini, who continues to work with concrete fermenters around the globe. It’s very much an extension of his approach to natural winemaking.
CONCRETE: A LIFE OF ITS OWN
When OCP was launched, Antonini summarized his observations of concrete as follows: “In my experience, concrete is very good, especially if you want to ferment with wild yeast.” He insists that the use of concrete provides for a much better environment than stainless steel. “When you smell an empty concrete tank you smell life ... which is important when making a premium wine.” Not known for mincing his words, he added: “When you do the same with stainless steel you smell death. To me, the making of premium wine is about life, not death ...” Concrete eggs don’t come cheaply, and in some earlier instances there were issues with the expensive fermenters being cracked or damaged in shipment. Sonoma Cast Stone’s fermenters are lighter than the traditional design, and incorporate concealed glycol tubing for temperature control, as well as racking, tasting valves and a cleaning trap. By using two different types of concrete — traditional for the liner and reinforced Earthcrete for the outside — the company gains a significant weight reduction, which allows more volume to weight. Concrete eggs are definitely on a roll in the Okanagan, with a number of wineries, from Laughing Stock to Culmina, incorporating them into their programs. Laughing Stock (which began began using concrete egg fermenters in 2009) has three, nicknamed Free Range, Scrambled and Benedict. They’re also working with Italian amphorae, all to create fuller texture without the influence of oak. In Ontario, early adopters include Peller Estates, Pearl Morissette, Tawse and Hidden Bench.
BUT CAN YOU REALLY TELL THE DIFFERENCE?
Like an increasing number of winemakers, Antonini and OCP winemaker Matt Dumayne have now had plenty of opportunities to compare wines fermented in cement to those fermented in stainless steel and oak. In a few tastings over the last couple of years I’ve been struck by the difference and impressed particularly by the texture afforded by the concrete wines. The change in the Haywire bottlings over the last few years has been especially apparent. A recent Vancouver tasting conducted by Emiliana winemaker Noelia Orts included a comprehensive look at the history of of oak and wine vessels, as well as some interesting
comparisons of the same wine in barriques and foudres (large oak vats). Orts also points to the numerous benefits associated with concrete eggs, ranging from their breathability, keeping the wine cool but always in movement, as well as giving more substance and life to the lees, which cling to the wall of the egg. The curved egg design also interacts with the gasses given off during fermentation to promote a constant, rolling current, and reduces the need to punch down the cap as often as with conventional fermenter designs.
In direct comparisons, the clarity, depth and relative complexity of the egg wines, across the board with a number of varieties, was dramatically noticeable.
EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW ...
Even if concrete eggs are getting all the glory, there’s also been a resurgence in that most ancient of vessels, the amphora. These earthenware jars closely resemble the earliest vessels used in winemaking. They too are very much connected to the natural movement, which aims to make wine in the purest and most traditional way possible, with minimum intervention. Over the last few years, Chile’s De Martino Winery has made a point of hunting down as many of the old Tinajas jars it can find, to support its program of reintroducing indigenous varieties and making wines with traditional techniques. APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 25
EMILIANA SIGNOS 2015 SAMPLE: BARREL/LARGE OAK (FOUDRE)/CONCRETE EGG A comparative tasting of the Chardonnay component revealed the concrete egg’s ability to add richness and mouthfeel, but the wine was devoid of associated oak flavours, such as vanilla or buttery notes. While the wine, which had spent time in foudre (large oak), was less overtly oaky than the barrel-aged wine, the absolute clarity, varietal expression, complexity and texture of the wine, which had spent the same amount of time in concrete egg, was quite profound.
EMILIANA SIGNOS DE ORIGEN WHITE BLEND 2014, CASABLANCA ($25) Chardonnay 67%/Viogner 18%/Roussanne 8%/Marsanne7%. Creamy and floral notes on top, followed by a luscious, quite juicy palate with generous mouthfeel, some nutty hints and tropical tones wrapped in well-balanced acidity. Pair with richer white fish and seafood plates. Concrete egg fermented with partial barrel-aged portion.
HAYWIRE SWITCHBACK PINOT GRIS 2014, OKANAGAN ($25) Arguably one of the best examples of a ‘concrete’ wine to date. Organically-grown grapes from Haywire’s original, definitely cool climate and southeast facing vineyard in Summerland, high above the west shore of Lake Okanagan. Orchard fruits on top, followed by remarkably textured mouthfeel, excellent balance of fruit and acidity with mineral hints and a lengthy finish.
CEDARCREEK AMPHORA WINE PROJECT: CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 VQA, OKANAGAN ($53) Supple and approachable. Freshness of character and complexity, announced by intense aromas of lively, fresh red and dark berry fruits, followed by layers of redcurrant and herbal hints with earthy undertones and cedar, all unmasked by oak — a pure expression of the varietal. Brooker says the 2014 is “equally exciting.”
OROFINO WILD FERMENT SYRAH 2014, SIMILKAMEEN ($30) A lovely expression of Syrah. Very clean and lineal with lifted blue and black fruit, some meaty hints, stony notes, lingering pepper and well-integrated, approachable tannins. And it’s untouched by oak. A remarkable wine on many levels, well worth tracking down from the winery. Only 90 cases made.
CHAPOUTIER BILA HAUT ROUSSILLON VILLAGES 2013, MIDI, FRANCE ($18) Affordable red shows off schist and limestone terroir perhaps just a little more thanks to fermentation and some time spent in concrete. Medium-bodied blend of 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 20% Carignan yields mulberry, blackberry and peppery notes before a well-integrated, earthy-mineral toned, vibrant, juicy palate with good acidity and approachable tannins before a lingering, fresh fruit finish. 26 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
The winery has won worldwide praise for the likes of its Viejas Tinajas Cinsault (which Britain’s Jancis Robinson described as “extraordinary” and “so fresh and pure that it washes over the palate like the gentlest of waves ... ”). Among BC winemakers experimenting with amphorae is Mission Hill’s Darryl Brooker, who’s been tasting and collecting amphora wines from around the world. After Brooker ordered his own clay amphora from Chianti in 2013, he decided to make a natural CedarCreek Cabernet Sauvignon from Desert Ridge vineyard in Osoyoos. The winemaker says that his biggest surprise was how hard it was to do nothing. “All I wanted was to open up the amphora and sample the wine. However, this would have spoiled the trial.” However, even though no preservatives, yeast or malolactic bacteria were added, the otherwise highly traditional wine did receive one modern concession: It was finished in stainless steel for eight weeks.
GOING LOCAL: A UNIQUE APPROACH
Not everyone is inclined to invest considerable dollars in egg fermenters or amphora replicas, although some wineries have pursued some ingenious avenues to implement their own style of program. In the Similkameen Valley, Orofino Winery has a well earned reputation for being innovative: When owners John and Virginia Weber started out (in 2001) they built the first straw bale winery in the country. Noticing the trend to concrete, John was suitably intrigued but also reluctant to invest the funds needed for eggs, whether shipped from California, France or Italy. Weber’s more practical and entirely local solution involved a quick jaunt down the road to nearby Osoyoos and a visit to South Okanagan Concrete Products. From them, he purchased a couple of sections of standard, precast concrete, large diameter water pipe sections. The bottom of the tank was cambered for easier cleaning; and custom fittings and valves were made by Ripley Stainless of Summerland, BC. Weber sourced Syrah grapes from nine-year-old vines on a neighbouring hot and rocky site above the Similkameen river, very typical of the region. Then he went to work. Or rather, didn’t. The grapes were lightly crushed in one-ton open fermenters, hand punched down three times daily. Once fermented, the wine was placed in the converted concrete pipe tanks for five months. The hardest part, says the winemaker, was leaving the wine entirely to its own devices — echoing the sentiments of Mission Hill’s Darryl Brooker. The project turned out to be a great success, with the Wild Ferment Syrah brought to market within eight months of being harvested. That tank, laughs Weber, must be a better expression of local terroir than anything imported. As the winemakers push for purity, less intervention and more local expression in the bottle continues to shape our wine culture — not to mention the added appeal of being able to bring wines to market more quickly — there’s little doubt that this 21st resurgence of concrete and clay will continue. ×
STOP FREAKING OUT by Rick VanSickle
People need to just stop FREAKING OUT over that crazy notion that Millennials are killing wine. Take a deep breath (the downward facing dog pose might help) and think about this for a moment: Millennials are just like every generation before them. The only difference is they are one rung up on the evolutionary ladder. And, oh my god, that is scaring the crap out of people.
PHOTO: NAMPHUONG VAN/UNSPLASH.COM
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“I also don’t mind paying more for local stuff, much to the chagrin of anyone who thinks that cheap imports from France or Italy are ‘so much better than anything we’re producing in Canada.’ Don’t get me wrong, I love French and Italian wines — I love all wines — but that argument is a) bullshit, b) outdated and c) boring.” Robyn Thiessen
THE HEADLINES ARE DAUNTING, I KNOW:
“Millennials Are Changing the Way We Drink Wine” “Millennials Love Sparkling” “Millennials, Social Media and the Death of Wine Wisdom” “Millennials Drive US Wine Consumption” “Millennials Rewrite Rules for Wine Industry” It’s all just a little bit too much. I’m starting to feel bad for the Gen-Xers, those crazy kids who never got the attention they deserved as they Chardonnay’d their way through an ocean of whatever as long as it had a critter on the label: Yellow Tail, Little Roo, The Little Penguin, Monkey Bay, Goats Do Roam, etc. I am generalizing here, of course, but Gen-Xers were a marketer’s dream, an impressionist generation that pretty much killed Merlot when a fictional character named Miles eviscerated that grape in the movie Sideways. Merlot is still trying to recover. But, hey, who I am to criticize? My generation, so bland they called us Baby Boomers II (like, we couldn’t even have our own cool name), learned from our parents. They consumed an ocean of dry vodka martinis (the most daring added a couple of pimento-stuffed olives), rye and ginger ale, and three kinds of beer in stubby bottles. Wine, which was sold in limited choices at government stores where you had to fill out a chit to get it, was for special occasions and your chance of seeing a bottle of Baby Duck at any memorable moment was about 99.5 percent. It’s no wonder that the BB2s thought they had died and gone to heaven when the greatest invasion in the history of wine hit our shores with boatloads of heavily oaked Chardonnays and Shirazes from Australia. That was it. Let the good times roll. Our generation, weaned on an uninspired diet of Hungarian Szekszardi (affectionately called “sex on Saturday”), Chianti from bottles wrapped in 28 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
straw, sickly-sweet Blue Nun and Mateus, was suddenly lapping up these big Aussie wines at a scary rate while the land Down Under scrambled to pop more vines in the ground, and order copious amounts of oak chips and barrels to feed the astonishingly thirsty and lucrative market. I can remember serving Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay (still going strong today at about $10 a bottle) at my wedding when it was an unknown. It was so smothered in oak that you needed a bucket of water on standby to avoid dehydration. Our generation couldn’t get enough of it; anything with a Bin number on it was pure gold to us. That trend would migrate to the rest of the wine world once Australia started stealing (and dominating) shelf space. California, Chile, Argentina and even Canada continued the BIG WINE revolution with over-oaked, over-saturated and over-cooked red and white wines. And, damn it, we loved it! Until we didn’t; and then the whole thing came crashing down. Such are trends. Boomers continue to be the largest demographic of wine consumers in North America, according to the US Wine Market Council, with 43 percent of the market. But Millennials are licking at their heels with 24 percent of the market and a huge difference between younger Millennials (aged 21 to 26) and their older counterparts. Over 28 percent of younger Millennials are drinking wine on a daily basis as compared to 19 percent of the older Millennials. These are numbers too good to ignore for wine marketers. Best of all? Millennials are drinking wine younger and sticking with it as they age. But it’s what they’re drinking that has everyone’s knickers in a knot. A touchstone article, written by Lettie Teague for the Wall Street Journal, under the headline “How Millennials Are Changing Wine,” began with this inflammatory quote from a New York City sommelier at the Batard Restaurant: “So many Millennials are interested more in the narrative of the wine rather than the wine,” said Jason Jacobeit. “A lot of mediocre wine is being sold on the basis of a story.”
That’s precisely why so many wine companies target Millennials with social media campaigns, where most of this generation gathers its wine intel. It’s to create back stories and eye-catching packaging for newfangled wines that are mass produced and sold at a price point that makes sense: the sub$20 range — think Gallo’s Barefoot (under $10), Ménage à Trois (Trinchero), or Apothic. Or, in a marketing scheme gone wild, TXT Cellars’ OMG!!! Chardonnay, WTF!!! Pinot Noir and LMAO!!! Pinot Gris. It is true, Millennials are a lot smarter — don’t blame them for OMG!!! Chardonnay — than previous generations. They have everything they need to know about wine, are just a Siri command away if they don’t, and use myriad social media platforms to validate their choices. They are far more adventurous than previous generations and aren’t afraid to purchase unfamiliar brands, according to the Wine Market Council. Oh, and this hurts: they don’t rely on sommeliers or traditional wine critics for their choices. Take this tweet from @gkruth (Geoff Kruth), sent out last December, that sent everything all atwitter: “I think I just discovered the future of wine criticism. All tasting notes should be comprised of only Emojis. #nomorepoints CA Chardonnay (insert pear, apple, toast, custard and evergreen tree emojis here)” IT WAS BRILLIANT, AND SPEAKS TO THE GENERATION OF NEW WINE DRINKERS. Points given to a wine by Old
School wine writers are meaningless to these up-and-comers. They are making their own set of rules and changing wine consumption. But, again, they are NOT killing wine. They are reshaping it, and if you’re are a winery thinking about your future, you better take notice. Angela Aiello, who founded Toronto’s iYellow Wine Club 10 years ago (and also writes wine columns for Style At Home and Chloe magazines), has been a guiding light with her socially interactive, unpretentious and unique approach to the vinous world. As an “older Millennial,” born in 1982, Aiello filled a void in Canada’s largest city and opened the most active wine club in the city (now with over 20,000 members) targeted at the first Millennials to reach drinking age. There is an element of learning about wine, but also a social aspect that brings Millennials (and anyone else) together through wine events, after parties and day trips to Ontario wine country. She brings up to 50 of her club members to Niagara 10 times a year and she’s been doing that for a decade. Aiello is smart, a savvy businesswoman who just happens to be drop-dead gorgeous, which lands her on magazine covers and TV, talking about what she knows best — wine. People want to learn from her. Her observations and wine recommendations, both through the club and as a wine “ambassador” for various products, are influential. She knows her stuff. “Narrative is important,” she says. “If your wine doesn’t have a story, you’re in trouble. There has to be an emotional connection.” She calls Millennials “ahead of the curve” compared to past generations. They enjoy wine at a much younger age and have an insatiable thirst for learning and exploring.
Most important to this generation, says Aiello, is they want to want to know where their wine comes from; they want the story behind the bottle before they buy in. Aiello’s wine recommendations run the gamut — from the traditional Taittinger Champagne to the newfangled Joiy Sparkling, which she described this way in a review over the Christmas holidays: “This four mini-bottle pack of bubbly […] is fun and delicious. Sip with a straw or a wedge of citrus. This is the great holiday party accessory to bring and/or serve. Their tagline for the wine is ‘bottled happiness’ and it sure is! This modern version of sparkling is from New Zealand and has really great packaging too. This is a very cool gift option for your bestie who will ultimately share it with you! #joiyWine” For Suresh Doss, a food/drink writer based out of Toronto and publisher of the popular wine/food/lifestyle website spotlighttoronto.com, social media is crucial for Millennials, much more so than his Gen-X generation. “I look at social media and see what people are drinking. I would say the drinks that come across my feed are usually from the following type of people: makers of the product, media, foodies. I see what they’re drinking, and if it’s something I haven’t seen before, I’ll try to seek it out. At this point, I’m not necessarily looking for a story or a gimmick, as I trust the person that drank it and shared it.” What he doesn’t buy are the “overly marketed products that try to tap into the foodie/wine-o demographic by using catchphrases and keywords like artisanal and small batch.” If there is a future for Millennials to aspire to once they tire of the backstory and the Next Great Wine to chase, it might lie in the palate and wisdom of 30-year-old Robyn Thiessen. This daughter of a Niagara grape grower was driving a tractor on the family farm when she was just eight years old. Thiessen knows all about trends and the ebb and flow of wine from Gen-Xers to Millenials. “Backstories are cool, sure, and labels matter,” says Thiessen, a law student in Australia, a year away from her degree. “But for me I think it’s much more about finding wineries or winemakers, small operations, that know what they’re doing and put passion and care into their craft rather than follow the trends. “If that fits into the hipster/Millennial desire for a cool backstory, then fine. But I think about the wineries I love in Niagara, and almost invariably they’re smaller, they do a few things really well rather than lots of things mediocre, they do some single-vineyard wines and they have really incredible people at the helm.” Authenticity matters to Thiessen, whether it’s with an Ontario wine or any other region in the world. “I would never buy a wine from Niagara that wasn’t made with 100 percent Niagara fruit. Full stop,” she says. “And that pretty much goes for any other region as well. I also don’t mind paying more for local stuff, much to the chagrin of anyone who thinks that cheap imports from France or Italy are ‘so much better than anything we’re producing in Canada.’ Don’t get me wrong, I love French and Italian wines — I love all wines — but that argument is a) bullshit, b) outdated, and c) boring.” For Thiessen, the Gen-Xers and the Millennials, there’s more to wine than a kitschy label and a funky backstory. And, #OMG, isn’t that the way it’s always been? × APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 29
The story of Irish whiskey is as lengthy and rich as it is riddled with disappointments and brushes with obscurity. Currently, it’s the fastest growing spirits category in the world, though if we’d assessed Ireland’s flailing whiskey industry 50 years ago, nothing would have hinted that a recovery this triumphant would be possible.
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THE (SECOND) RISE by Sarah Parniak Chalk it up to the luck of the Irish, but via increasing visibility, a swelling craft distilling movement and a global market with a bottomless thirst for premium whiskey, Irish distillers are prepped for a second gilded age.
UP AND DOWN AND UP AGAIN
Ireland’s distilling heritage dates back at least six centuries, likely much further. In fact, whiskey is an Anglicization of the Gaelic uisce beatha, meaning the water of life. If you want to start a row, tell a Scot that the Irish invented whiskey and vice versa. Then kick back with three fingers of whiskey and watch the drama unfold deep into the night. Some mysteries will never be solved, but this we know: At the turn of the 20th century, pot still whiskeys from the Emerald Isle were some of world’s most prized drams. But as a maelstrom of misfortunes — bureaucracy, turmoil, internal temperance movements and eventual US Prohibition, war and more war — assailed Ireland over the course of years, its once-booming industry dropped helplessly to its knees. By the mid-1960s, Irish whiskey was on life support. Not counting the thousands of illicit poitin (that’s moonshine) operations scattered throughout its famous hills, Ireland was home to over 100 licensed distilleries in its heyday. Not so long ago, that number had withered to a floundering four (including Bushmills in the North). The three remaining distillers in the Republic of Ireland — Cork Distilleries Co., John Jameson & Son and John Power & Son — decided that there was strength in numbers even if those were scant and amalgamated as Irish Distillers Group in 1966. The last, limping unicorn of a legacy in tatters regrouped in austerity, limiting production to a single complex in Cork: Midleton. In 1988, Pernod Ricard acquired Irish Distillers, consciously investing in Jameson as its juggernaut. By 2004, it had become the world’s fastest growing international whiskey brand. Currently it accounts for 70 percent of Irish whiskey sales worldwide; Jameson is the category’s phoenix. APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 31
Bernard Walsh from the craft Walsh Whiskey Distillery is one of 26 new distilleries opening up in Ireland.
Even if you’re not a whiskey drinker, you’ve had a nip or shot of Jamo, as it’s affectionately called. Maybe you don’t remember it, but it happened. That’s assuming you live in Western civilization and occasionally partake. Found on the speed rail of every dive, pub, cocktail bar and local in North America and beyond, it’s easy to like and easier to drink. It’s the whiskey in our ginger and in our shot glass; it’s what we order to keep our pint company, Irish-style. Jameson’s a party-starter, a nightcap, to be sipped daily or pounded on celebratory occasions. It’s the whiskey bartenders take turns pouring down each other’s throats on their nights off, for what it’s worth. Its popular-kid-at-the-never-ending-party image aside, the brand has — considering its intent on domination, perhaps unwittingly — been hard at work blazing a trail for the second coming of Irish whiskey. “Jameson absolutely has helped pave the way for the survival and success of Irish whiskey,” says David McCabe, International Whiskey Ambassador for Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard and tutor at the Midleton Irish Whiskey Academy. “It has helped move the stereotypical traditionalist view that whiskey should only be drunk with a dash of water or with ice, which I believe would today alienate a huge amount of consumers from the category.” The mass appeal of whiskey, like all beverage alcohol, is that it’s fun. Jameson, with its approachable and laidback image, embodies everything we enjoy most about drinking. 32 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
“When Pernod Ricard bought Irish Distillers, they did the right thing and backed the Jameson horse,” says Bernard Walsh, Chairman of the Irish Whiskey Association and proprietor of Walsh Whiskey Distillery, which owns brands like Writer’s Tears and The Irishman. “It’s a brand that you could say is bigger than the category, and Irish whiskey needed that. Now it’s up to everyone else to put their money where their mouths are and really push the category forward.” It’s independent distilleries like Walsh Whiskey, which will open its own facility in Royal Oak, Carlow, in June 2016, that will help to do just that. Especially now that the Jameson megabrand has primed consumer palates and perceptions, exposing them to the unpretentious charms of Ireland’s drams. This time around, there’s strength in more serious numbers. The Walsh Whiskey Distillery is just one of 26 new distilleries slated to open in the next two years. Looking at a map of Ireland pinned with distilleries both existing and planned, a grateful patient undergoing a restorative acupuncture session springs to mind; a little whiskey therapy is just what Ireland needed.
PART TWO: POT STILL WHISKEY
If bourbon is the all-American spirit and Scotland’s hallmark is single malt, Ireland’s claim to whiskey fame is pure pot still, the unctuous, fruity and generously aromatic dram that first fostered a reputation as one of the original premium spirits. Distilled from both malted and unmalted barley, Walsh refers to the creation of Irish pot still whiskey as “a kind of happy accident,” a style born from pushback against government taxation on malted barley. “The Irish were never terribly happy having to pay tax, especially tax imposed by a concrete power,” Walsh laughs. So distillers found ways around it, skirting the ballooning excise on malted barley by including a portion of the unmalted grain in their mash bill. “The inclusion of unmalted barley is a unique feature of pot still Irish whiskeys. You won’t find it in any Scotch whisky, bourbon or Japanese whisky for example,” McCabe explains. “The use of unmalted barely is considered to impart a creaminess and mouth-coating texture to the overall taste of the whiskey.”
Inefficient because it clogged up equipment, this mix of unmalted and malted barley nonetheless became Ireland’s stubborn signature. Distilled three times in old fashioned pot stills, it was full, smooth and consistently well made — exactly what the drinking public of the 1800s wanted to drink. But in the midst of its success, the Irish whiskey industry made a catastrophic miscalculation that wouldn’t manifest until generations later. When Aeneas Coffey, ironically an Irishman, presented the nation’s whiskey titans with his brand-new patent for the continuous still in 1830, they scoffed at a design they felt would strip pot still whiskey of its guts. So, Coffey took his invention to the Scots, who jumped on the cheaper, quicker and generally more efficient distillation method. “At that stage, Irish whiskey was seen as a premium spirit; quite aromatic because of the copper pot distillation. The column still was the opposite, pure and not as aromatic,” explains Walsh. “So the whiskey barons of the day conspired to keep the column still out of Ireland.” When Prohibition dried up its biggest export market, it was too late for Ireland to catch up to the light-bodied, inexpensive blended whiskies flooding the market from Scotland. An alarming number of Irish distilleries shuttered, and some say that by the 1970s, production of pure pot still whiskey had halted completely.
Luckily, pure pot still and pot still blends are what the Irish whiskey renaissance promises to return to whiskey lovers of the world — a demographic that seems to double up daily. Premium brands like Red Breast, Green Spot and Writer’s Tears are championing the old Irish style, and the international market is ripe for quality, top-tier whiskeys. Even Jameson, a light, crowd-pleasing blend, carries the quintessentially Irish style in its DNA. “You can pick the pot still out of Jameson easily,” says Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible who has penned two books
on Irish whiskey. “It’s the hard streak that goes right down the middle. You’ll find that Jameson is a mix of hard and really soft — and that hardness is the pot atill.” But Ireland’s distillers aren’t set on simply reviving their past. Whether small and independent like the Walsh Distillery, the four-year-old Dingle Distillery or Teeling, which in 2015 became the first distillery to open in Dublin city in 125 years, or larger than life like Midleton, Kilbeggan or Bushmills, they’re united in a plan to push the category forward through innovation. Walsh hints at an interesting loophole: similar to many world whiskeys, Ireland’s must be aged for a minimum of three years; but unlike most whiskeys, Ireland is not legally limited to oak casks. This opens up an exciting realm of experimentation with various kinds of wood and finishes. He’s is also interested in exploring Irish terroir. “I love what Scotland’s done with the regions,” says Walsh, who plans to introduce new brands with the opening of his distillery. “If we can do something similar with Ireland — it will take a long time — but we’d love to be able to start to show some regional variances.” The big guy, Midleton, has built a micro-distillery in order to experiment with various cereal grains and resurrect old whiskey styles. Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard has also offered technical assistance to fledgling distilleries in order to help guide and maintain Ireland’s renewed reputation as a country that makes exceptional whiskey, according to McCabe. Since 2003, annual exports of Irish whiskey have rocketed 220 percent and show no signs of slacking. The Irish Whiskey Association, formed in 2014, has a set a goal: to hit 12 percent market share by 2030; currently, that number is at four percent. Ambitious to be sure, but all things considered a target of 300 percent growth over three decades seems … pretty likely, actually. “With the addition of new distilleries opening up in Ireland, I think we are on the way to becoming a great whiskey producing nation once again,” says McCabe. “We were once and we will be again!” Considering the statistics, it’s impossible not to be optimistic. ×
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Too soon? Is it too soon to be invited to a cocktail party just five days into my New Year’s resolution? It’s the first week of January, and most of us probably spent the week banishing bacon from our diet and digging out our running shoes from the pile of empty wine bottles in the recycling bin (what happened to the left shoe?). Ah yes, the New Year. The time to put diet and fitness goals into focus. Salads and going to bed early may get me that flat stomach, but why bother if can’t even show it off? What’s a girl to do if she wants to balance a healthy lifestyle with an exciting social life?
by Silvana Lau
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I suppose I have a few options: a) stick to my guns and decline the invite (tell my friends that I have to bathe the cat … I don’t even own a cat, or that I have to find that missing left shoe); b) accept the invite (with a side order of guilt) and commit to sipping on only vodka sodas all night; c) accept the invite, chuck the “annual contract with myself” out the window and enjoy the free-flowing libations! There’s always next year. Or perhaps I’ll choose the most sensible option: d) accept the invite with no guilt. Drink less, but drink better. I will be smart and rethink my liquor choices and promise myself to steer clear of sugary alcoholic drinks to avoid Hangover-ville.
We’ve all been there before; a Margarita here, a few Negronis there, and a pounding headache the next morning because your sugar and calorie levels are through the roof — and you haven’t even had your Fruit Loops yet! From the white sugar in a Mojito, to the brown sugar in a hot buttered rum, to sugar cubes soaked in bitters in a Champagne cocktail, the sweet stuff is the most-used ingredient in many mixed drinks (and we haven’t even included the mixers yet). While there are many uses and varieties of sugar, chemically speaking, each is a manifestation of the same beast: sucrose. Sucrose encompasses both fructose and glucose. Cocktails containing mixers and sweeteners (fruit juice, soda, agave syrup and honey) that are high in fructose are concerning. Unlike glucose, which can be used up by virtually every cell in the body, fructose can only be metabolized by the liver. Fructose is broken down in the same way as ethanol alcohol and, therefore, places double stress on the liver when consuming high-fructose drinks. This can lead to a host of nasty things including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, liver failure, tooth decay and a host of other problems. Fructose is like alcohol without the buzz. Simply put, that Old Fashioned you are sipping on (albeit delicious) is making your liver work overtime. There are reasons why we like sugar so much. We have been in love with this stuff from the time we lived in caves (no, not those caves). Evolutionarily speaking, foods that are sweet tend to be comforting and safe. This would explain why when I was (barely) of legal age, the Fuzzy Navel and Sex on the Beach were all the rage. Who wouldn’t want to quaff back a few of these sexual innuendo cocktails that sounded so fun and whimsical? Newbie drinkers (myself included) didn’t want to taste the alcohol in their cocktails. Instead, they wanted to drown in a thickness of sugary liqueurs and sickly sweet juices. These ‘90s cocktails had one common flavour profile: cloying sweetness (thankfully, my taste buds have matured!). APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 35
Despite having a similar glycemic index as sugar, a true Grade A organic maple syrup is all natural and a source of several nutrients including calcium and zinc.
Fast forward to today’s world of cocktails, where everything old is new and trendy again - from vintage glassware, to fun confectionary flavours (bubble gum cocktail anyone?), to the comeback of bitters, and even the role of the bartender. Once upon a time, there was a mustache-less bartender, and nobody noticed him, he just got everyone beers and he didn’t know a damn thing about Chartreuse (tsk tsk!). The renaissance of the classic cocktail has led to a whole new generation of bartenders — often called bar chefs and mixologists — making their own sodas, bitters and infusions. The guise of the bar patron has evolved as well. People are becoming more aware of what they put in their mouths. Consumers are following the footsteps of the artisanal food revolution, demanding cocktails made from quality spirits, fresh-squeezed juices, and local and seasonal ingredients. They are interested not only in how long their grass fed rib eye steak has been aged, but also how long their bourbon was aged before making a Paper Plane cocktail. These days, an emphasis on provenance and authenticity of the cocktail is at the forefront for discerning drinkers. 36 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
Moreover, we live in a very health conscious time. “In 1806, the first printed definition of a cocktail consisted of a distilled spirit, sugar and a bitter. Sugar was considered a luxury item, so people did not consume it in high quantities. This pales in comparison to today’s time. People have no clue about sugar content; we are eating way too many hidden sugars found in processed foods. We have only ever been raised on calorie count and fat but not sugar. The awareness curve hasn’t even begun yet,” explains 20-year veteran cocktail trainer and consultant, Michelle Hunt from Toronto’s The Martini Club. It may taste sweet, but given the amount of bad press sugar has been getting in the news, it is leaving a sour taste in our collective mouth. “Syrups, liqueurs, fruit juice and soft drinks all spell high sugar and out of whack blood sugars,” my Type 1 diabetic friend, Tod, explains to me (as we knock back a few sips of Mount Gay Rum Black Barrel). While it’s been great to see the innovation and talents of the bartenders’ eclectic new takes on classic tipples, health conscious individuals and diabetics can’t exactly indulge.
#2 don’t juice. blend!
The quest for healthier boozing can be a tough field to navigate. Sure, you could always order a vodka soda (yawn). The cocktail equivalent of rice cakes, this “cocktail” has no added sweetener in the drink, but it can be hazardous to your health anyway. You could fall asleep while drinking it because it is soooooo boring (plus, by definition, it’s not even classified as a “real” cocktail). This can lead to choking and even death, pretty much guaranteeing you won’t get an invite to any future parties. While some drinks may cause you to choke and others may cause you to bounce off the walls, sugar is a necessary evil in the cocktail world. For a well-made cocktail, it is unrealistic to remove sugar from the equation. Sugar isn’t solely used as flavouring, but it is used as a weapon to temper bitterness and acidity. “The biggest challenge to mixing a drink is finding an equilibrium between each ingredient to maintain a balance of flavour. To achieve a harmonized drink, there does need to be a sweet element,” says Claire Smith-Warner, head of spirit creation at Belvedere Vodka. As co-creator of The Drink, Eat, Live program, Smith-Warner advocates mindful drinking. She has created a range of low-fructose, low-alcohol cocktails (combining Belvedere Vodka with an impressive list of superfood ingredients such as kale, coconut water and matcha) with the intention of striking a balance between being good to your body and imbibing on a cocktail or two. Rather than a feast or famine approach, Smith-Warner doesn’t demonize the powdered white stuff (sugar, that is), but believes that “sugar is an essential ingredient in cocktails, and when consumed responsibly, it is nice to have as a treat.” For those in a search of the libation lift without the sugar high, there is life beyond the lifeless vodka soda. Here are seven tips that can make cocktails both delicious and rejuvenating, without loading the drink with a mouthful of sugar. Cheers!
#1 bye bye to sugary mixers
This is obvious. Ditch the high-fructose corn syrups found in soft drinks and fruit juices. Ditto for anything “skinny” or “diet” in the name. Ugh! Please. Don’t. Ever. Buy. These. The ingredient list in these products is inevitably long, indecipherable and full of garbage. Bottom line: garbage in, garbage out. Using better ingredients (whole fruits, coconut water, fresh herbs, etc.) means you need less sugar/sugary stuff to balance out the cocktail.
Freshly squeezed juice may be healthier than concentrated juice mix, but blending fruits, rather than juicing them, is a superior method when it comes to reducing glycemic index spikes. The process of juicing extracts the liquid out of the fruits, leaving behind the pulp, fibre and all the vitamins and antioxidants along with it. Blending, on the other hand, pulverizes the whole fruit into a smoothie complete with fibre and all the nutrients. A glass of pulp-free orange juice is nothing but a fructose overload for your liver. It has the same amount of sugar as a can of soda (yikes!). “At Belvedere, we minimize the use of fruit juices and prefer blending fruit, which maintains the fructose and fiber bond, helping the body remove the fructose,” Smith-Warner explains. Those with diabetes should opt for fruits that are lower in sugars. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and citrus fruits like lemon, lime and grapefruit all fall into this category.
#3 not all sweeteners are created equal When playing bartender at home, make your own syrups so that you can control the amount of sugar being added. The following common “alternative” sweeteners have their pros and cons. AGAVE: Although derived from the same plant that produces te-
quila, after intense processing and refining of the agave plant, it is just another deadly processed-sugar replacement. Gimmicky marketing has resulted in a surging popularity of agave among diabetics and the health conscious crowd who believe they are doing their health a favour by avoiding refined sugars and dangerous artificial sweeteners. Sure, agave syrup does have a fairly low glycemic index. So does Windex, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. You are better off having a shot of tequila straight. “We never use or recommend agave, which has up to 95 percent fructose,” advises Smith-Warner.
RICE MALT SYRUP: A natural sweetener that is made from fermented cooked rice. It is a slow releasing sugar that is fructose free, so it doesn’t put pressure on the liver as much as pure glucose. A little goes a long way, as you need only a tiny amount to achieve sweetness. Make sure the ingredients contain only rice and water. Some brands add extra fructose-containing sugars. APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 37
THE BELVEDERE SPRITZ
1 1/2 1/2 2 1
oz Belvedere Vodka oz Lillet Blanc grapefruit slices sprig of thyme Fever Tree Tonic water Sparkling water
Combine Belvedere, Lillet Blanc and grapefruit slices in a spritz glass filled with ice. Top with half Fever Tree Tonic and sparkling water. Garnish with thyme.
Although this cocktail doesn’t “fit” the low sugar bill because of the bitter/sweet herbal liqueur Chartreuse, there are no added sugars in this cocktail. Tod, this one is for you, ‘cause even diabetics have to live!
3/4 1 4 1
oz Green Chartreuse heavy dash Angostura Bitters oz Brut Champagne orange peel twist
In a flute, combine Chartreuse and bitters. Stir gently. Top the flute with Champagne. Garnish with an orange peel twist.
FIG AND CARDAMOM MARTINI
2 1/2 oz fig and cardamom infused vodka (see recipe below) 1/4 oz dry vermouth 1 fresh fig sliced Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with fig slices.
FIG AND CARDAMOM INFUSED VODKA
1 l vodka 350 g dried mission figs 2 tbsp cardamom pods, crushed 2 pods vanilla beans
Mix all the ingredients in a non-reactive glass or ceramic vessel. Let sit and infuse for at least 48 hours. Strain the vodka. Don’t throw out the infused figs, they make delicious snacks!
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HONEY: Although it does contain fructose, many people swarm
to honey for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Honey also has fewer calories than refined sugar. Swap out your simple syrup at cocktail hour for honey syrup. Spice up your honey syrup by adding cinnamon, clove, ginger or hot chili when dissolving equal parts raw honey into water.
GRADE A MAPLE SYRUP: Despite having a similar glycemic index
as sugar, a true Grade A organic maple syrup is all natural and a source of several nutrients including calcium and zinc. Add a bit of Canadiana to your Old Fashioned, or just about anything made with bourbon or dark rum by using maple syrup instead of sugar. To make a maple simple syrup, combine equal parts of water and maple syrup until it has completely dissolved.
ASPARTAME, SUCRALOSE, SACCHARIN: These artificial sweeten-
ers should remain in the science laboratory and kept out of your cocktail glass, methinks.
#4 swap out bitters for tinctures The salt and pepper of the cocktail world, bitters and tinctures have been changing cocktails and recipes one drop at a time. As we all know by now, bitters are the latest craze due to classical cocktails making a major comeback (if you didn’t know that, stop reading, go to any respectable bar and order a Sazerac). Bitters are low-alcoholic concoctions flavoured with many things that you might not eat outright. Herbs, spices, barks, rinds, peels, garlic, eye of newt, tongue of bat and dried fruit. All (OK, most) can all be placed in a jar with high-proof alcohol and then infused for weeks. It is the go-to bottle when you want to “spice up” your cocktail, as it adds nuance to your drink, ties the diverse flavours together, and finishes it with some lovely aromatics. But what are tinctures? Often confused with bitters, tinctures are less complex. They focus on one ingredient as opposed to an herbal blend. In essence, tinctures are bitters without the bitter element. A tincture is used when you want a subtle trace or hint of a single flavour. When you want to add intensity or complexity to the drink, bitters are used as they contain many different ingredients. In a well-balanced cocktail, there is unity among every element, and no single flavour dominates the other. Sugars are necessary for a cocktail to balance out the bitters. If you want to make the cocktail less sweet, try replacing the bitters in the drink with tinctures flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg, cacao and liquorice. For example, take a concoction that uses chocolate bitters and swap the bitters with a cacao nib tincture. In this case, you wouldn’t have to add as much sugar to the drink for it to still be aromatic and delicious.
#5 tweak the sweet/sour ratio Drink that damn cocktail, will you! But, be mindful of it. Savour it; really appreciate and acknowledge it for what it is. Like most things in life, moderation is key, not deprivation. Smith-Warner recognizes that enjoying a well-made cocktail is part of the social fabric of life. “Today we are aware of the harmful effects of overindulgence, not just from alcohol, but from sugar and artificial flavours, and Belvedere wants to show that there are ways to drink ‘better’ when armed with just a little bit knowledge,” she explains. Rather than using sugar substitutes and alternatives, Smith-Warner recommends actively reducing the amount of simple syrup and liqueurs in the cocktail by reformulating the cocktail recipe. Here is an example for a simple sour recipe: STANDARD RECIPE
ALTERNATIVE RECIPE (REDUCES SUGAR BY 33%)
Smith-Warner further notes, “there is physically 10 ml less liquid syrup in the glass, which in reality is minimal and will be practically unnoticeable. The resulting cocktail will still be well balanced and delicious (most important!).” Finally, a realistic and achievable option that will allow you to have your cocktail and drink it, too!
#6 find creative ways to flavour cocktails with minimal calories
Herbs, spices and flavoured salts can enhance flavours to the base spirits. At your next cocktail party try: •• Mashing fresh thyme into a gin and tonic. •• Stirring a sprig of fresh rosemary into your vodka martini. •• Crushing a couple of fresh cardamom pods into a drink and shaking it up for an instant South Asian cocktail.
#7 give tea time a whole new meaning
These humble little pouches can work their magic infusing spirits and syrups with floral, fruity and herbal flavours. Bonus, depending on the tea, you won’t need as much sugar when making tea-based simple syrups. The spicy flavours of chai and the smoky and sweet flavours of rooibos teas can also increase the perception of sweetness. × APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 39
This won’t be about fancy food. No time for that. The word of the day is expediency; meals in a hurry for when you have the stuff, but no time to fuss with it. Because you need to eat.
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UP CLOSE by Duncan Holmes
Unfussed meals are often the norm these days. The old order of mom-at-home all day making dinner for the rest of us long ago yielded in every way to the new rule of grab what you can, and pitch in to get it to the table. Or onto a lap, as, between bites, TVs and iPads pump out news and/or nonsense. All of this means there’s a lot of sameness to our menus. It has to be. No time for much else. The old favourite chicken breasts and all the rest keep popping up because we can do these meals with our eyes shut, and in doing them, mostly on autopilot, more time is saved for whatever. Don’t need to spend a lot of time on prep. What to eat? Think eggs. When it comes to quick, easy-to-prepare meals, surely the egg is an international hero. For breakfast, lunch, dinner and anytime between, this perfect little piece of natural packaging is the start of any kind of meal-in-a-hurry magic. Remember Fargo? What a movie! In the wee small hours, the phone rings and very pregnant police officer Margie, in bed with husband Norm, answers the call to learn that out there in the snow, three people are dead. “Oh my. Where?” she says. “Yah. Oh geez. Okay. Real good then. You can sleep hon, it’s early yet. Gotta go.” She begins to dress as Norm swings his legs out. “Ya gotta eat a breakfast, Marg. I’ll fix ya some eggs.” I can’t remember if Margie actually got to eat, but ever-ready eggs were there. Less than 30 minutes later, loveable Margie was off to look for the blood-soaked bodies in the North Dakota snow — to see what “malfeasance” had shattered the winter quiet of her beloved Brainerd. Not many of us get Margie-like calls, but in this crazy world, where we’re juggling jobs, commutes, kids and budgets, quick and easy meals are not necessarily what we always want, but more often than not, they are what happen. Eggs? Why not for dinner? Sunny side up, over easy, scrambled, poached and boiled. When did they find their breakfast-only niche? Consider the perfection of an omelette, folded with cheese, seasoned with salsa, loaded in a perfect little envelope with shrimp. Served up with a salad, an omelette is, er, unbeatable. Quiche? Eggs again. Such quick and easy luxury. Pasta? What a versatile invention this flour and egg mix was. Strings of spaghetti and vermicelli, ribbons of fettuccine and la-
sagna, tubes of macaroni. Butterflies of farfalle. A creative cornucopia of magical mouldings, that go on and on. Sure they are all just ordinary, boring flour, but drop any one of them into a pot of heavily salted boiling water, cook ‘til al dente, pair with meat, mushrooms, tomatoes or a garlic-laced sauce — just suggestions — and pasta is the making of meals in minutes that is waaay more exciting than mere mac and cheese. How about salads? For crunch, taste and goodness, they’re addictive. Hail the Caesar! How can torn, tossed romaine, egg yolks, oil, bread, parmesan, lemon juice, anchovy fillets and not much else taste so good? Salads are a fast meal, again, and delicious. Power to the lettuce leaf, the sliced tomato and all other things that make salads a speed-meal option. Seafood? A fresh-caught fillet flashed in the pan, a shiny trout from your favourite ‘monger. Again, those bountiful baby shrimp — forgive me if I go a bit off recipe — tossed in with your Caesar. All of these basics for creative types like you can make meals happen in less than half an hour. If you want soups, stews, savoury pies and other dishes that need to linger longer? In my kitchen, meals in a hurry that need time to roast, bake, boil and simmer are often those that are made ahead, prepared as exotically as you wish on a weekend or whenever. Then cooked, portion packed, labelled and frozen. When you’re ready, and in a hurry, preheat the oven to 400˚F and in less than 30 minutes, your masterpiece will be ready to serve, tasting as great as when you made it. Meals in a hurry? It is a very rare occasion that I’m trapped into buying boxed stuff in the supermarket freezer. The colours and styling of the packaging will tempt you, but what’s inside will universally disappoint. Make a sandwich or sizzle a stir fry. Start from scratch with an egg or two, a head of lettuce, a breast of chicken, a handful of spaghetti, something shiny from the sea. Sauce it up, season it up and plate it for the hungry hordes. “Dinnertime, Margie!” APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 41
OMELETTE 2 2
eggs tbsp water Salt and pepper, to taste Grated cheese or other filling, if you wish
1. Whisk the eggs, water, salt and pepper together. Spray a nonstick skillet with a cooking spray. Heat over medium heat and pour in the egg mixture. 2. As the mix sets around the edges, gently push the cooked portions toward the centre of the pan. Tilt and rotate to allow uncooked mix to flow into the empty spaces. 3. When the mixture is almost set, cover half of the omelette with grated cheddar. Fold the other side onto the cheese, wait for a minute, then slide your omelette triumph onto a warmed plate.
10 1 1 1 1 2 1 1
large shrimps cup flour tsp salt tsp peanut oil egg tbsp cornstarch tsp baking powder Dash of pepper cup water Oil for frying
1. Shell prawns, slice lengthwise into halves, remove vein,
wash in warm, salted water, drain and dry, place into bowl, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt, mix well. Mix egg, flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper, baking powder, oil and water. Beat to a smooth batter and set aside. 2. Heat deep-fry oil to 365˚F. Dip shrimps one at a time into batter, deep-fry until golden brown (about 5 to 6 minutes); serve hot. Dip into lemon juice or plum sauce and hot mustard.
MR. BROWN’S TROUT TRITON
Show my friend Louie a babbling brook, and he will magically produce a fishing rod, flick the line a few times and catch a fish. Guys like Louie have it in their DNA to do this again and again, while the rest of us head for the supermarket. Mind you, the seafood sections these days are a sight to see. Lots of bright and shining variety, and a catch for a quick meal. Louie sent these notes, not saying who Mr. Brown was or is. Nor was triton defined, although my dictionary says it’s a mollusk that has a large aperture that lives in tropical and subtropical seas. Hmm? “First you poach a large trout in water to which vinegar and lemon juice have been added. Then take off the meat from the bone and lay it out in fillets to cool in the fridge. Next you melt some butter in a pan, adding nutmeg, a pinch of cinnamon and parsley. Pour this mixture over the cold fillets so the butter sets round the fillets. Eat it cold with salad. Delicious!” Prepare this a day ahead.
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I was in a restaurant in Hollywood a few years back, and my host said it was where the Caesar salad was born. Really? I said. I got the same claim to fame at a likely-looking spot in San Diego. At the time, I had no reason to doubt either story, and Google had yet to be born, so I kept on believing both, and making hundreds of quick and delicious Caesar salads. My beliefs have stood, even though any number of sources make it pretty clear that in 1924, it was Italian-American restaurateur Caesar Cardini who tossed things together in Tijuana, Mexico, to make a salad meal that, in all of its acceptable variables, has kept us satisfied and smiling ever since.
3/4 1 6 1-2 1 2 3 6 4 1
cup croutons coddled egg anchovy fillets tsp garlic, finely chopped anchovy fillet, mashed Pinch of coarse salt tbsp lemon juice drops Worcestershire sauce tbsp olive oil tbsp grated Parmesan head Romaine lettuce
1. Warm the egg to room temperature. Pour boiling water around the egg and let stand for one minute. Run cold water until the egg can be handled. 2. Whisk together the garlic, anchovy and salt until blended. Whisk in lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk in the egg until the mixture is thick. 3. Drizzle in the olive oil as you whisk the mixture. When well combined, whisk in 2 tbsp of the Parmesan cheese. 4. In a large wooden bowl, add 1/3 of the dressing and toss until the croutons are well coated. Add the romaine and remaining dressing, and toss. 5. Sprinkle each serving with more Parmesan and coarsely ground pepper. Do all of this at the table. It’s impressive and easy. MATCH: I’d say crack open a crisp, cold lager with this one.
SERVES 6 Delightfully-ebullient friend Caren McSherry is the founder-owner of Vancouver’s Gourmet Warehouse, as fine a kitchen supply store as you’ll find anywhere. You’ll love it. Dodging down one of her over-the-top aisles, I told Caren about my “quick and easy” assignment, and asked if she might have a couple of recipes. This was the first. You will note how well the Asian marinade marries with he salmon. And the wasabi potatoes? An extra kick, and you’ll prepare it again and again. You’re not looking for St. Patrick’s Day green, simply a snappy seasoning. Wasabi is available as a powder, or as a squeeze-able paste.
600 g wild salmon fillet, skinned MARINADE
2 tbsp grapeseed oil 2 tbsp roasted sesame oil 2 tbsp fish sauce 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger 2 large cloves garlic minced 1 heaping tbsp chili paste 1 tbsp yuzu vinegar or freshly squeezed lime juice
1. Place all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. 2. Skin the salmon and slice into 6 portions. Place the salmon in a shallow pan, lay the salmon in the marinade, let it rest for 20 minutes then turn. (This can be marinated overnight for maximum flavour.) 3. Heat a non-stick pan to medium high heat. Place the salmon in the hot pan, sear for about 2 minutes on each side or until it is done the way you like it. 4. Remove and place on a bed of veggie stir-fry or on a mound of wasabi mashed potatoes. MATCH: A light Beaujolais will tease the marinade out from the salmon.
APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 43
SOUTHWEST CHICKEN WITH WARM TORTILLA WEDGES
SERVES 4 Another one from generous Caren. Perfectly southwest, a bit spicy, rather rustic. Keep this handy for outdoor entertaining. Roasted fresh corn on the cob makes all the difference and as always, tout est en place to keep things moving and yourself organized.
2 tbsp olive oil 1 large onion, diced (a heaping cup) 4 garlic cloves, minced 2 large red peppers, seeded and diced 2-3 cobs of corn, roasted and kernels removed 1 can black turtle beans, drained and rinsed 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes 3 tbsp hot chili powder 2 tsp ground cumin 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro 1 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped 2 fresh limes, cut into wedges 1 package 8-inch flour tortillas Sour cream and salsa, as sides 1. Heat the oven to 250˚F, wrap the tortillas in foil and place in the oven to warm through. 2. Heat the oil in a non-stick sauté pan. When the oil is hot, add the onion and 2 of the garlic cloves. Cook for about 5 minutes or until soft. 3. Add the red peppers and cook over medium heat until soft. Stir in the roasted corn. Transfer this mixture to a bowl and set aside. 4. In the same pan, heat 3 tbsp olive oil, add the 2 remaining garlic cloves and the cubed chicken. Stir and maintain the heat on medium high until the chicken is cooked through and browned. 5. Add the chili, cumin and drained black beans. Stir in the reserved corn mixture taste for seasoning. 6. Add the chopped fresh cilantro and parsley. Stir and turn out onto a serving platter. Cut the warm tortillas into wedges and serve alongside.
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GABRIELLE’S THAI COCONUT SOUP
Gabrielle is the daughter of a dear friend, now in Montreal. While this soup tastes even better on the second day, you can add it easily to your evening meal. Ditch the lemongrass at some stage. It’s like wood, but the flavour is one of a kind.
1 1 1 1/2 1 4 2 1 2 4
cup chicken breast, cut-up can coconut cream (400 ml) cup chicken broth cup mushrooms, sliced fresh tomato, sliced kaffir lime leaves stalks lemongrass, sliced chunk galangal or ginger, sliced tbsp fish sauce Juice from 1 lime fresh chili peppers
1. Heat chicken broth in large saucepan to boil. Add chicken, galangal (or ginger), lime leaves and lemongrass, bring broth to boil and cook until chicken is cooked. 2. Add coconut cream, bring to boil. Add mushrooms and tomato, bring to boil. Add fish sauce, lime juice and chili. Serve hot as is, or over rice. MATCH: Your go-to may be beer again but for this quick and easy meal, open a bottle of New Zealand Sauv Blanc.
PORCINI DUSTED SKIRT STEAK
SERVES 6 TO 8 Another one to make ahead, either for a day or to keep in the freezer after it’s been cooked. Thaw and heat for a quick dinner. Thank you again, Caren.
1/2 1/2 3 1 3
cup porcini powder tsp chili paste (optional) garlic cloves, minced tsp kosher salt Good grinding of pepper lb skirt steak
1. Mix the 5 ingredients together to form a paste. 2. Rub the paste over the meat and let it sit for at least an hour.
At this stage, plastic wrap and freeze. 3. On the day of your dinner, thaw the meat, heat the grill to high, sear the meat and then cook to desired temp. 130˚F is medium rare for beef. 4. Remove, let it sit for 5 to 8 minutes to rest. Serve with your choice of vegetable(s).
HONEYED CARROTS WITH SWEET POTATOES
The faces of Canada are changing, and so is the food. There’s a very distinctive taste to the food of the Middle East. Cumin, coriander and more. This isn’t a main, but a combo of two vegetables to brighten your meal. My source was one of the great Australian Women’s Weekly series that cover the world so well.
4 medium carrots 2 small sweet potatoes 50 g melted butter 1 tbsp olive oil 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp cumin seed 1/4 cup honey 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley 1. Cut carrots into thick chunks, and sweet pota-
toes into thick slices. Pop the carrots and potatoes into boiling water and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Drain. 2. Combine butter, oil, cumin seeds and honey in a bowl and mix well. Place vegetables on a wire rack over a baking dish. Brush with some butter mixture. 3. Bake uncovered in a hot oven about 20 minutes or until tender, brushing with the remaining butter mixture throughout cooking. Serve sprinkled with a favourite main, sprinkled with parsley. ×
APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 45
LOVE ME, FOR I AM BITTER! as dictated to Silvana Lau
Dear Umami, Long time no see, baby brother! It’s me, Bitter. Do you still remember little ol’ sis and the rest of the family? I suspect life has been busy for you, the hotshot of the culinary world. You have taken Western foodies by storm; from your contemporary umami vodka martini infused with garlic and finished with a few dashes of truffle oil, to your mouth-watering “umami burger” garnished with oven-roasted tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, parmesan crisp and umami ketchup (made with mushrooms, fish sauce,and star anise to boot ... clever!) undeniably makes the ordinary double bacon cheeseburger seem bland and blah! I gotta say, Umami, you are so sexy that people love every mouthful of you. How did the new kid on the block become the biggest comestible buzz of the 21st century? Is it your exotic name: Umami? I hate to admit it, but even I have fun saying it ... oo-mah-mee! I still remember when Salt, Sweet, Sour and I were the original four basic tastes. Then Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda discovered you. He named you after the most beautiful thing on the palette, “the essence of deliciousness.” You have been a common name in Japan for centuries, but on this side of the Pacific, your name is now synonymous with all that’s soothing, mysterious and evocative. When you officially became part of the family, the fifth basic taste, I had mixed emotions. You were so hard to read. Unlike the rest us, you were vague and hard to describe. It was difficult to pinpoint your specific essence. Admittedly, I found you much more complex than Sweet or Salt. In fact, you came across as 46 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
perhaps bipolar, or even schizophrenic, with your three-dimensional taste mosaic. Perhaps it’s your complex nature that makes taste buds so desire you. I didn’t get to know you as much as our toothsome brother, Salt. There was always this strong bond that you shared with him. But I never gave you a fair chance. I get that now. I assumed you to be like Madam Spicy, coming and going as she pleased when she saw Mr. Dairy. Little did I know that your meaty, savoury and rich flavours were so long-lasting. You work your magic to coat the tongue and the palate, leaving a mark in the mouth and on the senses. Which is probably why you have a long list of delectable food friends: savoury parmesan cheese, earthy truffles, juicy and ripe tomatoes. It’s no wonder the human tongue falls in love with you at first bite. If only Sour and I had your charisma. I’m not jealous, or anything (maybe just a little bitter ... hey, that’s my nature), but people don’t fall head over heels for radicchio or rapini. In fact, many respond negatively to both Sour and me. Evolutionarily speaking, humans were programmed to avoid us as they were warned that something tasting bitter or sour might be poisonous or toxic; unripe or spoiled. Through time, we were both perceived as something bad on the tongue and to be avoided. Looking back, I’m not sure if I was so hideous, but I certainly felt like an ugly duckling. One thing I do know for sure is that I was never associated with the word “delicious.” Instead, people would describe me in unappetizing terms like sharp, acrid, astringent, medicinal and even pungent. Agreed, I don’t sit well with everyone, and kids really seem to have a hate-on for me. My name alone makes them wince. But I
can forgive them. They are programmed from birth to prefer Sister Sweet and dislike Bad-ass Bitter. Yes, I wanted to be just as popular as Sweet among the children, but however I tried, no kids developed a “bitter tooth.” I wreaked a lot of havoc among children in the guise of the dreaded “overcooked to death” brussels sprouts. It’s easy to understand how being the ugly stepsister of the cabbage put this variation on the top list of detested vegetables for kids (and quite a few adults). My pungent, barnyard-y bitter flavour, the odd texture and faint aroma of smelly feet were enough to cause a nightmare at the dinner table. But one bad apple (or cabbage) should never spoil the bunch, considering not all my bitter incantations are created equally. Once people learn that some of my variations (dark chocolate, IPA beer, coffee, etc.) not only won’t kill them but will actually stimulate their nervous systems, they develop a palate for what they once disliked. This is a good thing, as many of the compounds that cause bitter flavours also have positive health benefits. With time and maturity, bitter gets better. An appreciation for bitterness develops with age, culture and experience. People have to learn to appreciate me. With repeated exposure, they soon can’t resist me! Most people aren’t born in love with me. So be it. Everyone experiences my charms differently. The combination of bitter receptor genes varies for every individual, explaining why some people can’t get enough of me in the form of black coffee, dark chocolate and arugula. Moreover, as humans age, their olfactory sensitivity (sense of smell) diminishes, they lose some taste buds, and become more tolerant of my unique nature. There is an inherent appreciation for my character in Italy, France and China. Italians sip on Amaro, an after-dinner digestif that they believe is the cure for overeating. While at cute bistros across Paris, locals eat frisée salads with lardons (bacon) and a poached egg. The Chinese adore me. They have included gai-lan, ginseng and bitter gourd in their regular diet, and have relied on bitter herbs for their healing properties in traditional Chinese medicine. Unfortunately, here in North America, people are more likely to yearn for Sweet or Salt. Up until now, I haven’t garnered much praise. However, things are changing. The latest book by Jennifer McLagan (a multi-award winning author and chef ), Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, explores my underappreciated and misunderstood flavour profile through science, history and culture. McLagan shows that bitter and delicious can be in the same sentence with her long list of tantalizing recipes: prunes soaked in Earl Grey tea and lemon peel; Campari glazed veal chops; lamb with dark chocolate pepper sauce. McLagan suggests that my typical flavours offer a welcoming level of sophistication to the mature palate (the age thing again). Thanks to people like her — and, I’m sure, adventurous souls like you — I’m finally emerging from the culinary shadow and getting my rightful place in the spotlight. Canadians are now starting to see all the beautiful qualities I bring to the dining experience. I perk up taste buds and bring a new dimension to a dish, ultimately aiding in the overall har-
mony of what’s being served. Furthermore, chefs see me as an indispensable “cleansing taste,” one that makes you want to take the next bite, and the next. Keep on chomping because I’m making inroads in the liquid and solid gastronomic world. From hoppy craft beers, to bitters in cocktails, to greens with a sharp tasting edge such as arugula, dandelion and radicchio. Even brussels sprouts are showing up on menus across the country. Umami, it might be a bitter pill for you to swallow (teehee), but I’m after your throne … even if it means playing the Evil Queen to your Snow White. In fact, McLagan did characterize me as the “world’s most dangerous flavour.” Sure I can be abrasive and even hard to swallow. Indeed, I am a flavour to be reckoned with. But given the chance, I am just as alluring and captivating as you. I come in a myriad of textures; from the tannins in wine to the faint bitter taste in burnt toast, to the astringent and tart sensation on the tongue and mouth delivered via an unripe granny smith apple. My rising popularity is bittersweet. Not everyone is happy with my success. Salt has been acting very strange around me lately. It’s like he is jealous of my rising stardom. He often comes over uninvited to suppress my assertiveness. I have seen him shaking it around on the dance floor with Miss Grapefruit. Just last week, he was all over Ms. Eggplant making her all sweaty and uncomfortable. I have even seen him hanging around the coffee machine before the beans get brewed. I know I shouldn’t be upset with Salt. He means well and is just trying to mellow out the forceful taste I leave in people’s mouth in the absence of his company. Unlike you, Umami, I am not good at solo performances. I truly am a team player. I can rein in Salt, Spice, and even Ms. Sweetie-pants. I can take the most savage flavours. Take mustard greens, for example. On their own, they have an overpowering acrid and pungent bite. But when prepared Southern-style (salted and stewed with pork to impart sweetness, and then served with a squeeze of lemon or lime), the mustard greens transform from bitter to balanced. The result? A delicious savoury dish that harmoniously unites the four basic tastes. Life hasn’t been easy for a character like me. But I’ve learned to fit in with the more popular flavours very well. Umami, people will always like you. You are the life of the party; the one that makes everyone laugh. In contrast, I’m the wallflower. Or at least I used to be. You know, the one that had nobody to dance with and who felt shy and awkward at the dinner table. Yeah, I’ve come to terms with that. I tried to fight it at first, denying the harsh truth and attempting to fit in so that all would love me. Now I realize it’s okay to be bitter all the time. It’s okay to be different. Diversity makes life interesting. I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. The ugly duckling has transformed into a beautiful swan. I have extended my wings, ready for my next culinary journey (escarole, anyone?). ere’s to us, Umami, with the clink of a glass. H I love you, bro! Peace, love, and deliciousness always, Bitter ××× APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 47
BOUQUET GARNI BY NANCY JOHNSON
COOKING WITH APICIUS
I’ve been fascinated with Ancient Romesince I was a little girl intent on learning Latin from my mother’s tattered first-year primer and crying my little heart out when she informed me Latin was a dead language. Despite the setback, I studied Latin in high school, reading all the important Greek-to-Latin works: epic tales of bold battles and arduous journeys, noble heroes and vengeful gods, fearsome creatures and faithful spouses.
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Later, when I joined a community theatre, I played a courtesan in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, a farcical musical based on the comedies of the Roman playwright Plautus, who was born in 254 BC. As a result, I read most of his 20 surviving comedies and was surprised to find that his jokes, written more than 2,000 years ago, were still funny. Maybe not laughout-loud funny, but certainly humorous and warmly human. On my first trip to Rome, I cried when I caught a glimpse of the arched aqueduct. Here was proof of an ancient civilization that had running water, indoor plumbing, spacious kitchens, daily newspapers, fast food, massive sports arenas and, best of all, the curling iron. This was a civilization I could embrace. Except for the food. I’ve tried to get into Ancient Roman cooking through Apicius, a collection of more than 450 recipes from the exalted Roman Empire. Several ambitious folks, far more talented than I, have adapted the recipes for the modern cook, yet to me they still feel a bit archaic and very strange. I understand garum, the fish sauce favoured by the Romans; it provided that elusive fifth taste, umami, much like the anchovies in our Caesar salad or the fish sauce in our Pad Thai. I’m fine with the Roman penchant for honey, figs, grapes, bread and wine. It’s when Apicius gets to the lovage and the defrutum and the passum that I kind of back away. Where’s the rigatoni and meatballs? The pecorino, the prosciutto and the pizza? As much as I love the romance of ancient Rome, I’m all about the 21st century when it comes to cooking. As Superman’s Perry White would say: “Great Caesar’s ghost!”
× Search through a wide range of wine-friendly recipes on quench.me/recipes/
FARRO WITH FETA CHEESE AND GARBANZO BEANS
SERVES 4 AS A SALAD COURSE The Ancient Romans did like their salads and this one, made with the Roman grain farro, could have been (but probably wasn’t) a dish a noble Roman citizen might have enjoyed. For the record, Empirical Romans neither saw nor ate tomatoes; the beloved pomodoro was introduced to Italy in the 16th century, although in many regions today it still isn’t a major ingredient in Italian cucina. For a more authentic salad, use chopped dates or figs instead of the tomatoes.
1 1 2 1 2 1 1/4 1/2
cup uncooked farro can garbanzo beans, drained cups baby spinach or baby kale cup grape tomatoes, halved tbsp lemon juice clove garlic, minced Pepper, to taste cup extra-virgin olive oil cup feta cheese, crumbled
1. Cook farro according to package directions. 2. In a large bowl, combine farro, garbanzo beans, greens and
tomatoes. 3. In a small bowl, mix lemon juice with garlic, pepper and oil. Pour over farro mixture. Top with feta cheese. MATCH: Start dinner with a bubbly Prosecco.
CHICKEN WITH PROSCIUTTO AND FONTINA
SERVES 4 You can vary this recipe, which is similar to saltimbocca, by making it with ham, Swiss and parsley, pepperoni, mozzarella, tomato sauce and oregano, or any combination of meat, cheese and herb. While many recipes call for stuffing the chicken and then sautéing, I believe sautéing the chicken before stuffing is a good way to get a head start on cooking the chicken while not losing the filling in the process.
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chicken fillets tbsp butter tbsp olive oil slices prosciutto slices Fontina cheese basil leaves Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste cup dry white wine
1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. 2. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray. Cut a slit lengthwise
in each chicken fillet to form a pocket. 3. In a large skillet, melt butter with olive oil. Sauté chicken until golden brown on both sides. 4. Open each fillet and layer with prosciutto, cheese and basil leaf. Close. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to baking dish, add wine and bake, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and cheese is melted. MATCH: Excellent with a Pinot Grigio.
FENNEL-ROASTED PORK LOIN 4 2 2 2 4 1 1 1 1
cloves garlic tbsp fresh rosemary tbsp fresh sage leaves tsp fennel seeds tbsp olive oil bone-in pork loin roast, about 5 lbs Sea salt and freshly ground pepper onion, sliced cup dry white wine tbsp butter
1. Preheat oven to 325˚F. 2. In a food processor, mince the garlic, rosemary, sage and fen-
nel seeds. Rub the pork with 2 tbsp olive oil, then rub the herb mixture over the roast. Season with salt and pepper. 3. Transfer the pork to a roasting pan. Roast, uncovered, 1 hour. Toss the onion with the remaining olive oil and add to the pan. Continue roasting until pork reaches an internal temperature of 160˚F, about 1 1/2 hours longer. Transfer to a platter, cover loosely with foil and let rest 15 minutes. 4. Meanwhile, place the roasting pan over medium heat. Add the wine to deglaze the pan drippings, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. (If pan drippings are dry, add a bit of water or broth.) Simmer until sauce is slightly reduced. Whisk in butter. Carve the roast and serve with the pan sauce. MATCH: Serve with roasted Brussels sprouts or broccolini and mashed potatoes. This is another dish where Pinot Grigio works quite well.
LINGUINE WITH WHITE CLAM SAUCE
For our modern busy lives, this is one of those recipes that can be whipped up at any time, with items mostly from the pantry — something the Ancients could only dream of.
1 1/3 1 6 4 1 1/2 1/4 1 1/2 1 1/4 1/2 2
lb linguine, cooked according to directions cup extra-virgin olive oil tbsp butter anchovy fillets cloves garlic, minced Pinch crushed red pepper flakes Juice of 1 lemon tsp zest of lemon tsp dried oregano cup dry white wine cups clam juice cups canned clams, drained cup heavy whipping cream tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil with butter. Add anchovies, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until anchovies melt, about 1 minute. 2. Add lemon juice and zest, oregano, wine and clam juice. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, 7 minutes. 3. Add clams and heavy whipping cream. Heat through. Toss with linguine. Garnish with parsley. × APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 49
HONEYED BLOOD ORANGE SLICE PRESERVES
A NEW FASHIONED ORANGE SLICE Classic cocktails are having a major comeback and there is no bigger poster child than the Old Fashioned. But there is only so much you can do to fancy up sugar, oranges, bitters and bourbon. That is until now.
2 large blood oranges, cut into 1/4-inch slices 1/4 cup lemon juice 1 cup honey 1/4 cup bourbon
1. Place orange slices in a saucepan and fill with water till covered. 2. Bring to a boil, reduce and let simmer till tender. 3. Remove from the heat. Add lemon juice and honey, and stir till well blended. Let it cool slightly. 4. Add the bourbon to a large mason jar. Carefully spoon on the slightly warm orange slices. Make sure to add any liquid from the saucepan to the jar. It’s golden. 5. Stir thoroughly. Once completely cooled down, seal and place in the fridge. Will keep for two to three weeks.
2 1 1 1 1 2
dashes Angostura bitters tsp sugar Honeyed Blood Orange wheel Maraschino cherry splash club soda oz bourbon
Muddle the bitters, sugar, blood orange wheel and cherry in an Old Fashioned glass. Add bourbon and a splash of soda, then fill with ice. For an extra kick add a teaspoon of the blood orange syrup. × 50 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
NOTED 90 ROBERT OATLEY MCLAREN VALE SHIRAZ 2013, MCLAREN VALE, AUSTRALIA ($19.95)
To use the vernacular, this wine is a real “beaut” and won’t cost you “big bikkies.” For $19.95, you get a dense purple wine with a floral, blackberry nose and notes of leather; on the palate, it’s dry and savoury with blackberry and black-olive flavours, ending with ripe, soft tannins. (TA)
92 INTERSECTION CABERNET FRANC 2013, SOUTH OKANAGAN ($24.90)
90 LÍRICO CHARDONNAY 2014, MENDOZA, ARGENTINA ($13.50)
Clear pale yellow. Fairly intense, fruity aromas of melon, citrus and pears. Full-bodied, rich and soft on the palate with buttery orange flavours. Ready to drink with baked spaghetti squash and a roasted chicken with herbed stuffing. (RL)*
90 MISSION HILL 5 VINEYARDS CABERNET/MERLOT 2012, SOUTH OKANAGAN ($15.99)
Lifted red berries on the nose before a cherry-chocolate palate with pronounced and lingering spicy notes. Medium-bodied with an elegant mouthfeel that evolves to more complex layers with a lengthy close. (TP)
Blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot yields forward blue fruit and vanilla followed by plum and red berry notes. Solid mouthfeel and moderate tannins, with just enough complexity to keep things interesting for braised meats and pasta. (TP)
93 TAWSE SOUTH BAY CHARDONNAY 2013, PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY, ONTARIO ($45)
92 TAITTINGER BRUT MILLÉSIMÉ 2008, CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE ($97.95)
A beauty, with typical Prince Edward County minerality and river-rock salinity that melds into swirling baked apple, pear and tangerine with soft spice notes on the nose. It’s a lovely and textured Chard on the palate, rich and broad with a mélange of citrus, pear, apple and perfectly integrated spice and minerals that are delivered on a long-lasting finish. (RV)
Made from equal proportions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Delicate yet lengthy, it explodes with chalk, green apple, pear, lemon, toast and honey. A fine mousse, excellent length and elevated acidity on the palate bode well for aging if one enjoys a more mature style of bubbly. (ES)
× Find a collection of tasting notes for wine, beer and spirits at quench.me/notes/
NORTH BREWING COMPANY GUS BELGIAN BLONDE STYLE, HALIFAX ($5.75/750 ML, $13.50/1.89 L) Hazy unfiltered appearance with a light blond colour, interesting nutmeg spicy scents and subtle Belgian yeast character. Rounded creaminess on the palate with a touch of fruity sweetness, rich malted milk and blanched almond flavours, leading into a moderately dry, floral, hoppy finish. (SW)
93 TENUTA POGGIOVERRANO DROMOS MAREMMA TOSCANA 2005, TUSCANY, ITALY ($39.95)
Deep ruby colour with a nose of Bing cherries and a meaty note lifted with a subtle tinge of oak; rich and full on the palate, and beautifully balanced with black cherry, blackcurrant, tobacco flavours and underlying minerality. Still youthful and fresh. (TA)
92 CHECKMATE ATTACK CHARDONNAY 2013, OKANAGAN ($115)
This wine comes from the Barn Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench. Straw colour with a spicy, floral nose; full-bodied, creamy mouthfeel, soft on the palate but well balanced with a peachy flavour. (TA)
APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 51
Each wine is judged on its own merits, in its respective category. Our scores are based on the wine's quality as well as price point. Readers should assess these, and all wines, using the same criteria. Carefully study the commentaries to get an idea of whether the wine might appeal to your taste. The prices listed are suggested retail prices and may vary from province to province. Since a large number of these wines can be purchased across Canada, check with your local liquor board or private wine store for availability. Our tasters are Tony Aspler, Gurvinder Bhatia, Tod Stewart, Evan Saviolidis, Rick VanSickle, Ron Liteplo, Harry Hertscheg, Sean Wood, Gilles Bois, Sarah Parniak, Crystal Luxmore, Tim Pawsey, Silvana Lau and Jonathan Smithe. QUENCH USES THE 100-POINT SCALE 95-100 = Exceptional 90-94 = Excellent 85-89 = Very good
SPARKLING 92 SUMMERHILL PYRAMID WINERY CIPES BLANC DE BLANC 2010, OKANAGAN ($35)
Produced in the traditional Champagne method, with 100% Chardonnay grapes from Osoyoos, it has a lovely nose of apple, pear, lemon chiffon and toasty/ brioche notes with subtle lime undertones. It is crisp and bright on the palate with a soft mousse that delivers lemon, apple and minerals to go with toasty accents delivered on a beam of racy acidity through the vigorous finish. The perfect food sparkling. (RV)
91 CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ROSÉ SPARKLING 2012, NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE ($28.95)
Done in the sec style (22g/l of sugar), this blend of 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir obtained its colour via the Pinot grapes being left in contact with their skins for a short period of time. It spent 3 years on the lees so you can expect a creamy texture and flavours that lean to the red-fruit spectrum as well as apple, citrus and earth qualities. Ready to drink with spicy sushi. (ES)
91 L’ACADIE VINEYARDS PRESTIGE BRUT ZERO DOSAGE METHODE TRADITIONELLE 2010, 52 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
80-84 = Good 75-79 = Acceptable 70 & under = Below average *Available through wine clubs
GASPEREAU VALLEY, NOVA SCOTIA ($48.99)
Sourced from the rocky soil of L’Acadie Vineyards’ certified organic estate property, this wine was given extended tirage over 5 years, which has added both richness and complexity. It shows bright gold/straw colour in the glass with fine persistent mousse, and elegant floral, lemon citrus and creamy brioche on the nose. Somewhat austere character conveyed by zero dosage is contrasted with creamy richness on the palate. Citrus and green apple flavours come through together with signature Nova Scotia bright acidity and minerality. (SW)
90 GÉRARD BERTRAND CUVÉE THOMAS JEFFERSON CRÉMANT DE LIMOUX 2013 ($19.95)
Limoux is the birthplace of sparkling wine, some 150-plus years before Dom Pérignon even touched a grape in the Champagne region. Made in the traditional method, this blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Mauzac possesses pinpoint bubbles and a personality of apple, citrus, pear, white peach, wax, anise and yeast. Long finish. Superb value, and one that easily shames many Champagnes at double or triple the price. (ES)
89 VEUVE AMBAL CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE GRAND CUVÉE BRUT, BURGUNDY ($17.95)
This well-priced sparkling Chardonnay from Burgundy is straw coloured with
a toasty, apple and citrus bouquet. It’s medium-bodied and dry, with lively lemon-lime acidity and flavours of apple and warm brioche. (TA)
89 FOSS MARAI PROSECCO EXTRA DRY, VENETO ($19.95)
Creamy, minerally, apple and pear nose; medium-bodied, dryish with good persistence on the palate. A stylish sparkler for all occasions. (TA)
89 SUMMERHILL PYRAMID WINERY CIPES BLANC DE FRANC 2011, OKANAGAN ($35)
According to Summerhill, a Canadian first, produced in very limited quantities from 100% organic Cabernet Franc. It has a gorgeous, unique nose of raspberries, cranberries, herbs and rosemary that’s lively and fresh. It’s quite delicious on the palate with a melange of savoury, earthy red fruits and herbs with good length through a vibrant and lively finish. (RV)
88 CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES BRUT NV, NIAGARA-ON-THELAKE ($22.95)
CDC’s Brut is one of Ontario’s original traditional-method sparklers. This blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir delivers pinpoint bubbles and a profile of green apple, citrus, pear, lemon and subtle toasty notes. Fine length and ready to drink with oysters or smoked salmon. (ES)
WHITE ARGENTINA 88 BODEGA PIEDRA NEGRA PINOT GRIS 2015, VALLE DE UCO, MENDOZA ($13)
Almost colourless. Citrusy nose, light and fresh with an inviting mineral hint. Equally fresh on the palate with a light attack, gaining in weight in the round mid-palate. Clean finish and ready to drink on its own or with white meat. (GBQc)
88 SECRETO PATAGÓNICO CHARDONNAY LIMITED EDITION 2012, PATAGONIA ($18.95)
Straw colour with a green tint. Spicy, oaky, tropical-fruit nose; rich and mouth-filling, offering green pineapple with nutty, toasty notes. Full-bodied and flavourful with an acidic finish. (TA)
AUSTRALIA 88 WOLF BLASS YELLOW LABEL CHARDONNAY 2013, SOUTH AUSTRALIA ($17.99)
Mellow ripe tropical fruit, citrus, peach and melon with a very light touch of buttery vanilla, nicely balanced acidity and medium weight on the palate. (SW)
86 FOUNDSTONE CHARDONNAY VIOGNIER 2014, SOUTH EASTERN AUSTRALIA ($14)
Clear pale gold. Faint nose of apple and butter with vanilla overtones. A crowd-pleasing, slightly sweet fruit bomb with citrus, lemon and tropical fruit flavours. Drink up. (RL)*
85 DCW INTERNATIONAL SERIES AUSTRALIAN CHARDONNAY 2014 ($14.99/1 L)
Imported and bottled locally in Nova Scotia. This one is a bit shy on the nose, but shows typical Chardonnay fruit profile with distinctive lemon barley-sugar character in the mouth. Clean, well balanced and economical value. (SW)
CANADA 94 CHECKMATE LITTLE PAWN CHARDONNAY 2013, OKANAGAN ($110)
A new winery venture from Mission Hill’s Anthony von Mandl, specializing in Chardonnay. Straw colour with a minerally, citrus, apple bouquet; rich, spicy peach flavour with a floral note. Lovely mouthfeel, well-integrated oak with precise acidity, ending on a butterscotch note. The most Burgundian in style of the 5 CheckMate Chardonnays. (TA)
93 CHECKMATE QUEEN TAKEN CHARDONNAY 2013, OKANAGAN ($125)
Straw colour with a minerally, smoky, white-peach nose. Ripe apple and peach flavours, elegant, mouth-filling white fruit and lychee flavours ending with a spicy note. A lovely mouthful. (TA)
92 TINHORN CREEK GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2014, SOUTH OKANAGAN ($15.99)
The remake of a classic, this vintage is a reminder of the wine that first put Tinhorn on the map. Definite rose-petal and tropical notes up front, followed by a lush palate of lychee and ginger spice with a touch of citrus and a spicy hint to close. (TP)
92 FIELDING ESTATE LOT NO 17 RIESLING 2014, NIAGARA ($28)
Always one of Niagara’s top Rieslings. The highly aromatic nose shows bright lime, apple, ginger, tangerine and lovely integrated wild-honey notes. It has good, tangy fruit on the palate and shows an array of interesting citrus, guava, ginger spice, green apple and nectarine fruit through a lifted, bright finish. (RV)
92 CHECKMATE FOOL’S MATE CHARDONNAY 2013, OKANAGAN ($80)
Straw colour with a buttery, croissant nose; spicy pear and peach flavours, soft mouthfeel but carried on a lively acidity. (TA)
91 CHABERTON ESTATE WINERY RESERVE SIEGERREBE 2014, FRASER VALLEY ($15.95)
Distinctive white flower and orange notes on the nose before a luscious, mouth-filling, off-dry palate of tropical and citrus notes, and a lingering, lively finish. (TP)
91 TINHORN CREEK OLDFIELD COLLECTION 2BENCH WHITE 2014, SOUTH OKANAGAN ($19.99)
This hallmark blend yields peach and tropical notes followed by a generous but complex palate. Extra heft from barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc with citrus, stonefruit and a persistent finish. Think grilled chicken with cilantro and lime dressing. (TP)
91 TOLD YOU SO VIOGNIER 2014, NARAMATA ($20)
From fruit wine specialist Elephant Island. Lifted orange, peach and floral notes before a fleshy and quite viscous, generous palate. Tropical and spicy notes wrapped in juicy acidity, with an assist from a splash of Sauvignon Blanc. (TP)
91 STRATUS SÉMILLON 2012, NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE ($32)
This full-bodied — some would say massive — Sémillon exudes honey, wax, apricot, pineapple, binned apple, toast, smoke, vanilla, cream and spice. Ripe and concentrated; there is a thick/ creamy texture, low acid and a long finale. Pushes 15% alcohol, so chill slightly and serve on its own. (ES)
91 TAWSE SOUTH BAY VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2013, PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY ($45)
Tawse sourced the Chardonnay grapes for this wine via a fruit exchange with Huff Estates. The latter received Pinot Noir from Niagara in return. Deeply mineral; there is sweet vanilla, anise, nectarine, tangerine, spiced apple and pear rounding out the package. Great length and a crisp personality make for a perfect pairing with pickerel topped with a beurre blanc sauce. (ES) APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 53
NOTED 91 TAWSE ROBYN’S BLOCK CHARDONNAY 2012, TWENTY MILE BENCH ($45.95)
Made from 30-year-old vines, this Chardonnay was barrel-fermented and aged in partially new French oak for 12 months. Peach, toast, anise, green apple, honey, white flower and vanilla are built on a medium- to full-bodied frame. Excellent length with a long mineral and citrus aftertaste. Pair with a pork roast or chicken in a cream sauce. (ES)
91 CHECKMATE CAPTURE CHARDONNAY 2013, OKANAGAN ($90)
Straw coloured with a lifted, floral nose of apple and almond; elegant, beautifully balanced and seamless with lemony acidity and a tangerine flavour. Great length. (TA)
90 BARTIER BROS SÉMILLON 2013, OKANAGAN ($16.49)
An excellent expression of Okanagan Sémillon, with upfront citrus and mineral followed by balanced fruit and acidity with tropical notes and a crisp, clean close. (TP)
90 ADEGA ON 45TH FELICIDADE 2013, OSOYOOS ($17)
Lifted zesty and tropical notes before a generous, orchard fruit-toned palate with good mouthfeel, apple and tropical tones before a lingering fruity finish. (TP)
90 SERENDIPITY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, NARAMATA BENCH ($19.90)
Upfront intense grass, gooseberry and floral aromas followed by a lush palate of pear and zesty citrus before a lingering finish. Think richer seafood dishes and sushi. (TP)
90 HENRY OF PELHAM CHARDONNAY 2013, ONTARIO ($19.95)
Straw coloured with a concentrated bouquet of toasted nuts, melon and lemon, the wine is medium- to full-bodied and dry, with spicy, pineapple and citrus flavours ending on a toasty oak note. (TA) 54 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
90 BLUE GROUSE ESTATE BACCHUS 2014, COWICHAN VALLEY ($20)
Lifted floral and orchard notes before a well-balanced palate; peach and pear notes with a touch of acidity that adds up to a surprisingly structured drop and a lengthy finish. An excellent example of how well this varietal can work on Vancouver Island. (TP)
90 TAWSE ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2012, TWENTY MILE BENCH ($38)
Citrus, mineral, white peach, toast, anise and lime are all in play in this medium-bodied white. Refreshingly crisp with a long mineral aftertaste. Drink over the next 3 to 4 years. (ES)
89 CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED CHARDONNAY 2013, ONTARIO ($18.95)
An impressive Chardonnay at the price. Pale straw in colour with an apple and citrus nose; medium-bodied, fresh and lean on the palate with a mineral note and a crisp lemony finish touched with oak. (TA)
89 BURROWING OWL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, SIMILKAMEEN VALLEY ($29)
Fresh and sprightly, sporting fresh-cut grass, pink grapefruit and passionfruit. Citrusy acidity makes for an appetizing palate and tangy mouthfeel. The mix of new oak, old oak and stainless steel contributes complexity and richness. Lingers with vanilla and lemon zest. Delicious with halibut. (HH)
88 REDSTONE BRICKSTONE RIESLING 2014, NIAGARA ($14)
A solid-value Riesling with a profile of bergamot, lime, peach, grapefruit, white flower and mineral. Light-bodied yet lengthy, with crisp acidity and a touch of sweetness rounding out the edges. (ES)
87 CALLIOPE GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2014, BRITISH COLUMBIA ($14)
Aromatic with pungent lychee and curry spice on both nose and palate. Richly textured on the palate. Persistent spiciness
on the finish, with lingering citrus pith. The soft acidity and modest 13% alcohol means it won’t inflame the heat of a curried rice pilaf. (HH)
87 CALLIOPE FIGURE 8 WHITE 2014, BC VQA ($14)
Mainly Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, with splashes of Gewürztraminer, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. Aromatic spiciness on the nose with some rich fruitiness on the palate, mainly apple, pear and melon. Honey notes on the finish. Quite versatile, so a good value choice for a potluck. (HH)
87 EVOLVE PINOT BLANC 2014, OKANAGAN ($15)
Upfront apple and peach notes; not very complex but varietally sound with tropical and zesty hints. Solid sipper. (TP)
CROATIA 92 STINA POŠIP 2013, DALMATIA ($50)
The Pošip grape is indigenous to Croatia’s Dalmatian coastal region. Although more commonly light-bodied, this rendition displays richness and complexity. Wide-ranging aromas include citrus, herbs and vanilla. Peach and citrus flavours fill out a well-balanced palate. Spiciness lingers. A natural for seafood. (HH)
FRANCE 94 CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE BLANC 2012, RHÔNE ($90)
This rich 6-grape blend features 80% Roussanne plus Picardin, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul. Attention-grabbing aromas of white flowers, honey and marmalade. Ripe yellow fruits intertwine with butter caramel en route to a spicy finish. Impressive on its own right now. (HH)
93 DOMAINE HAMELIN BEAUROY CHABLIS 2012, BURGUNDY ($34) This Premier Cru Chardonnay has a
beautiful nose of wild meadow flowers, acacia blossom, intense chalky minerality, a range of citrus and apple fruit with a touch of smoke. It is finessed and focused on the palate with lemon zing, green apple, a powerful vein of minerality, earthiness and that lovely tension that is so desirable in crus Chablis. (RV)
90 COLLOVRAY ET TERRIER CHÂTEAU D’ANTUGNAC LIMOUX BLANC LES GRAVAS 2013 ($34)
This has a lovely and complex nose of Asian pear, mature apple, brioche, white flowers and elegant oaky spice notes. The robust mélange of fruit on the palate is bolstered by lovely wood spice and kept fresh by vibrant acidity. It’s a rich and ripe Chardonnay yet poised and balanced. (RV)
90 DOMAINE JEAN DAUVISSAT MONTMAINS 2012, CHABLIS PREMIER CRU AC ($44)
Refined bouquet offers pure green apple with a trace of hazelnut. Concentrated, sappy green-apple flavour with background citrus, fine mineral, lively acidity and good weight in the mouth lead the way for green fruit, mineral grip and a touch of hazelnut on the finish. Another year or 2 in the cellar wouldn’t hurt. (SW)
89 ROPITEAU FRÈRES MEURSAULT 2012, BURGUNDY ($53.50)
Pale golden colour. Floral nose, honey and a fair amount of oak. Surprisingly fresh, open and tasty. The vivid acidity cuts through the fattiness in the intense mid-palate supported by the oak. Finish is on the same theme. A well-done basic Meursault. (GBQc)
88 GÉRARD BERTRAND RÉSERVE SPÉCIALE VIOGNIER 2014, IGP PAYS D’OC ($15.95)
A great-value Viognier from Southern France. Peach, apricot, orange, banana, spice and white flowers waft over the senses. The fresh acidity gives lift and focus, carrying the finish. Pair with halibut fillet topped with a jalapeño-and-fruit salsa. (ES)
88 PFAFF CUVÉE JUPITER 2013, ALSACE ($19)
Pfaff is the new name of the “Cave des Vignerons de Pfaffenheim.” Bright pale yellow. Delicate nose, typical of Alsace Riesling with citrus and mineral notes. Light body, vivid acidity and no perceptible residual sugar. Fresh fruity taste and a savoury finish. Drink now. (GBQc)
87 BARONNIE DE CANET SAUVIGNON 2014, IGP PAYS D’OC ($11.83)
Clear pale yellow. Strong and interesting nose of gooseberry, lime and pineapple, warming in the glass to guava and peaches. Light-bodied, a bit thin on the palate, tasting of gooseberry and melon with prominent acidity. Drink up. (RL)*
87 DOMAINE DE MÉNARD CUVÉE MARINE 2014, CÔTES DE GASCOGNE IGP ($13.99)
A blend of Colombard, Gros Manseng and Sauvignon offering lively ripe green and yellow fruit flavours with a clean, distinctly mineral character derived from the local soils. An enjoyable, inexpensive quaffer. (SW)
GERMANY 89 PLOB CLIFFHANGER RIESLING 2013, MOSEL ($18)
Pale yellow. Delicate nose, elegant citrus and mineral notes. Off-dry but nonetheless refreshing thanks to its energetic acidity. Light body; subtle apple taste in the light finish. Ready to drink and delicious with sole meunière. (GBQc)
ITALY 89 VIETTI ROERO ARNEIS 2013, PIEMONTE ($26.80)
Pale yellow. Ripe fruity nose, slighly perfumed by floral notes. Good presence in the mouth, almost dense, yet it has finesse especially in the long, perfectly balanced finish. Arneis is a lesser-known grape that deserves more attention. (GBQc)
88 ANTINORI SANTA CRISTINA CAMPOGRANDE 2014, ORVIETO, UMBRIA ($14.80)
Pale yellow. Pleasant nose of yellow fruits (peach, apricot). Intense fruity taste, smooth texture; balanced. Finish is lifted by acidity. Drink now. (GBQc)
NEW ZEALAND 91 WITHER HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014, MARLBOROUGH ($19)
Very pale in colour but with a really intense bouquet and flavour. On the nose, it’s green pepper with honeyed lemon notes. On the full-bodied palate, you experience generous grapefruit and melon flavours with a crisp, lingering finish. (TA)
87 MOUNT VERNON SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015, MARLBOROUGH ($24)
Not your typical overly tart, overdone style becoming too common from this region. Elegant and bright with quince and pear notes; vibrant, great acidity with citrus zest and a spicy finish. (GB)
SOUTH AFRICA 90 WARWICK THE FIRST LADY UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2014 ($13)
Clear medium-deep gold. Somewhat low-key nose of pear custard, banana and citrus. Medium-bodied with a good balance of fruit and acidity, fresh-tasting and “moreish” with peach and lemon flavours. Good value. Drink up. (RL)*
SPAIN 91 BODEGAS GARCI GRANDE VERDEJO 2014, RUEDA, ($16)
Wow! What a lovely old-school Verdejo from the Rueda DO. The nose shows white peach, guava and apricot with dried herbs and spice. It has enough acidity to lift the lemon and apricot fruit with a balanced approach to the spice. It’s juicy yet fresh and lively through the finish. Great match with white fish. (RV) APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 55
NOTED 90 TORRES PAZO DAS BRUXAS ALBARIÑO 2013, RÍAS BAIXAS ($20)
A fragrant, complex bouquet replete with white flowers, citrus and white peach. Starts with a lick of sweetness, followed by a rich mid-palate and a long, palate-cleansing minerally finish. Supported by its medium body and well-balanced styling, it’s delicious with a savoury branzino escabèche. (HH)
UNITED STATES 88 BERINGER FOUNDER’S ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2013, NAPA VALLEY ($16.95)
Pale straw in colour with a buttery, sweet apple nose enhanced by a light oak spice; medium- to full-bodied, with an apple flavour and a touch of oak on the finish. A well-made wine for the price. (TA)
88 BOGLE VINEYARDS CHENIN BLANC 2012, CLARKSBURG ($24)
Gentle, fresh lemon citrus and stone fruit with subtle floral scents open the way for clean fresh citrus and ripe apple, rounded out with zesty acidity and a touch of mineral in the mouth. Will work equally well as an apéritif or with canapés and lighter foods. (SW)
87 BERINGER FOUNDERS’ ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2013, CALIFORNIA ($16.95)
An upfront Chardonnay, which will thrill those who like oak and tropical fruit in their wine. Peach, pineapple, mango, sweet apple, honey, vanilla, butterscotch and spice pack a solid punch. Very good length and ready to drink. (ES)
87 BERINGER FOUNDERS’ ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013, CALIFORNIA ($16.95)
Dry with citrus, lime, grapefruit, white flower and hints of honey and herbs. Crisp, refreshing with a long citrus aftertaste. (ES)
87 BOGLE CHENIN BLANC 2012, CLARKSBURG ($25)
Floral, crisp and refreshing with aromas 56 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
and flavours of green apple, citrus, spice and hints of tropical fruit and a mild richness. Nice match with Indian cuisine. (GB)
by velvety tannins and well-balanced, harmonious acidity. Generous strawberry fruit and spice linger on the finish. (SW)
87 GÉRARD BERTRAND CÔTE DES ROSES ROSÉ 2014, LANGUEDOC– ROUSSILLON ($18.95)
An eye-catching salmon colour! Produced from a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, this serious and dry rosé reveals cherry, strawberry, blackcurrant, rose, grapefruit and spice qualities. Pour alongside a pork tenderloin with a mushroom sauce. (ES)
85 DOMAINE GIBAULT ROSÉ FRISSON D’ÉTÉ 2013, AOC TOURAINE ($15.67)
Clear medium-deep vermilion with a slight fizz. Medium-intensity nose of apricot jam, peaches and lemon. Light-bodied with noticeably high acidity supporting grapefruit, cherry and cranberry flavours. Short finish. Drink up. (RL)*
RED ARGENTINA 90 TEMÁTICO RESERVA MALBEC 2011, MENDOZA ($20.50)
Clear deep plum-red. Reserved nose of violets and raspberry with vanilla from oak aging. An old world–style wine, well structured, balanced and made to age. At this time, the oak rather overbalances the cherry and blueberry fruit, but a little more time will correct that and lengthen the finish. (RL)*
89 SALENTEIN RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2013, VALLE DE UCO, MENDOZA ($21.99)
Seductively ripe scents of strawberry and raspberry with cinnamon, vanilla and milk chocolate lead the way for fine red berry and red cherry flavours supported
90 DANDELION VINEYARDS LIONESS OF MCLAREN VALE SHIRAZ 2013, MCLAREN VALE ($19.95)
Dense purple in colour, it shows a spicy, minty, ripe plum bouquet with cedary notes. Full-bodied and mouth-filling, it’s a juicy, fruity wine that sells at a reasonable price. A carnivore’s wine if ever I tasted one. (TA)
89 MT MONSTER ESTATE GROWN CABERNET 2013, LIMESTONE COAST ($18.99)
Reveals good varietal scents of blackcurrant, green herb and a discreet spicy note in the background. Lightly sweet blackcurrant and blackberry flavours are encased in velvety tannins with appetizing acidity and a touch of dry baker’s chocolate on the finish. Piquant Cabernet intensity makes it an ideal pairing with roast leg of lamb. (SW)
88 THE ENTERTAINER RED BLEND, SOUTH AUSTRALIA ($15.95)
From the Wolf Blass stable, this is a non-vintage blend of Grenache and Shiraz. It’s a wine that fairly shouts flavour at you from the glass. Deeply coloured with a bouquet of black raspberries and plums, it’s medium-bodied and dry, while being fruity and jammy on the palate with herbal notes. In other words, an easy-drinking red. (TA)
88 TAR & ROSES SHIRAZ 2014, HEATHCOTE ($28)
Elegant, sophisticated and restrained, with spicy oak and a core of generous red berry and cherry fruit, liquorice notes and a persistent finish. (GB)
86 DCW INTERNATIONAL SERIES AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZ 2014 ($14.99/1 L)
Bright raspberry and peppery spice on the nose with blackberry flavour and minty
eucalyptus taking over in the mouth, supported by agreeable tannic grip with a splash of dark chocolate. Straightforward, but with good fruit and structure. (SW)
CANADA 93 FIELDING ESTATE CHOSEN FEW 2012, NIAGARA ($60)
This Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah blend is chosen from the best French oak barrels after aging separately for 18 months. It is extremely tight at the moment but the nose shows layers of blackcurrants, black-cherry kirsch, baking spices, toasted oak nuances and cracked black pepper notes. It’s youthful on the palate but jam-packed with blackcurrants, blackberries, lavish barrel-oak spices and peppery spices with length, complexity and a textured mouthfeel to go with ripe but firm tannins. (RV)
93 TAWSE CHERRY ROAD PINOT NOIR 2013, NIAGARA ($60)
This Pinot is aged in oak for 18 months in 40% new French barrels. The nose is quite expressive, yet delicate, with cherry, raspberry, violets, subtle earthiness, mushrooms, underbrush and spice. I love the feminineness of this Pinot; even with the red-fruit-laden palate there is still a show of restraint. It is complex and finessed with underlying earth, supple tannins and length through the finish. (RV)
92 QUAILS’ GATE MERLOT 2013, OKANAGAN ($25.16)
Lively upfront aromas brimming with black fruit and floral notes followed by vibrant mulberry and raspberry; vanilla undertones, silky tannins and a lingering finish. (TP)
92 MAVERICK SYRAH 2013, SOUTH OKANAGAN ($32)
Taut, expressive and well balanced with definite black peppercorn and olive notes wrapped in red berries and raspberry tones. An herbal touch and good fruit-acid balance; well-integrated, supple tannins with generous mouthfeel and a long, peppery end. (TP)
92 REDSTONE SYRAH 2012, NIAGARA ($40)
A rich and heady nose of grilled meat, sweet oak spices, currants, black pepper and dark fruits that are revealed in layers. This is big on the palate: a full-bodied, full-tannin attack of rich, flavourful dark fruits, barrel spices and funky earthy/ loamy notes, lush and complex through the finish. Fantastic Syrah. (RV)
92 BURROWING OWL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012, OKANAGAN ($44.95)
Rich red and black fruit on top; hints of cassis and olive followed by a vibrant, mouth-filling palate with layers of vanilla, spice and chocolate, balanced tannins and taught viscosity. Underpinned by structured acidity. You can easily drink it now but also be well rewarded in 5 to 10 years. (TP)
91 THE GOOD WINE CABERNET FRANC 2012, NIAGARA ($22)
Such a lovely and balanced approach with a nose of fresh-crushed raspberry and cherry fruit, currants, integrated herbs, tobacco and spice. It’s spicy on the palate with full-throttle red and dark fruits to go with tar, herbs and cocoa accents all delivered on a bed of ripe tannins. (RV)
91 SPIERHEAD PINOT NOIR 2014, KELOWNA EAST BENCH, BC ($23)
Vibrant red berry and bright cherry notes precede a well-balanced palate with definite earthy notes and approachable tannins, wrapped in mouth-watering acidity and plushness before a lengthy finish. Another excellent expression of Central Okanagan Pinot Noir. (TP)
91 CREEKSIDE ESTATE WINERY UNBROKEN PRESS SYRAH 2012, ST DAVID’S BENCH ($42.95) This powerful 100% Syrah serves up a sophisticated bouquet of cassis, violets, tobacco smoke, black pepper, bay leaf, raspberry and cocoa. Still grippy; I would suggest holding it until 2017 and then drinking until 2022, preferably with a peppercorn-crusted NY strip. (ES)
91 PONDVIEW CABERNET APPASSIMENTO 2013, FOUR MILE CREEK ($70)
Pondview’s first Appassimento wine is a blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The drying period of 120 days has produced a dark ruby colour and a huge bouquet of plum, cherry jam, anise, vanilla, After Eight chocolate and herbs. This carries over to the palate, where additional raspberry, blackberry and raisins join the mix. Excellent length with a glycerin-laden sweet texture and enough underlying structure to age for 5 to 6 years. (ES)
90 TIME ESTATE CABERNET FRANC 2014, SOUTH OKANAGAN ($19.99)
Forward red and black fruits with hints of anise precede a plush and plummy raspberry-toned palate with black pepper and spicy hints, underpinned by firm tannins. Broad mouthfeel and solid finish. Good value. (TP)
90 BARTIER BROS SYRAH 2012, SOUTH OKANAGAN ($23.39)
Aromas of red and black fruit, bramble and mulberry with some meaty notes before a well-balanced palate with vibrant red fruit and peppery hints. Medium- to full-bodied with wellintegrated tannins and a lingering spicy finish. (TP)
90 TAWSE GROWER’S BLEND CABERNET FRANC 2012, NIAGARA ($26.95) Still tannic, this punchy red needs a few years to resolve itself. Cassis, blueberry, raspberry, roasted herbs, smoke, anise, vanilla and graphite are built on a medium-plus body. Excellent length. Hold until the end of 2016 and drink until 2021. (ES)
90 REDSTONE SYRAH 2012, LINCOLN LAKESHORE ($39.95)
A cool-climate Syrah with a perfume of black pepper, cassis, grilled meat, oregano, violets, vanilla and smoke. Full-bodied and elegant, the finish carries long. Drink over the next 5 years. (ES) APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 57
NOTED 90 CREEKSIDE ESTATE WINERY BROKEN PRESS SYRAH, ST DAVID’S BENCH ($42.95) Modeled after a Côte-Rôtie, this wine contains 4% Viognier. A dark ruby colour with purple highlights; one can expect to find cassis, raspberry, vanilla, oregano, black olive, black tea and pepper. This wine was made for roast leg of lamb. Drink until 2022. (ES)
90 STRATUS RED 2012, ONTARIO ($44.20)
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Tannat. Dense purple-black colour; savoury, leather and black fruits on the nose; full-bodied and dry; mouth-filling with a dark chocolate finish. (TA)
89 TAWSE GAMAY 2014, NIAGARA ($18.95)
A powerful nose of red cherry, strawberry, dark plum, rose, herbs and black pepper. There is a light oaking that comes through on the palate in the form of cocoa and vanilla. Supple tannins, fresh acid and a juicy finale make for a beautiful partner with seared duck breast or a chorizo and seafood paella. (ES)
89 CREEKSIDE ESTATE WINERY LAURA’S BLEND 2012, NIAGARA ($19.95)
The 2012 Laura is the best rendition of this bottling to date. Ripe, it exudes plum, raspberry, vanilla, blue corn, green olive, cocoa and spice. Splendid length, medium body and dusty tannins. A fine wine that won’t break the bank for weeknight meals. A blend of all 5 Bordeaux grapes with a dash of Syrah. (ES)
89 HENRY OF PELHAM BACO NOIR RESERVE 2013, ONTARIO ($24.95)
HOP’s 2013 Reserve Baco continues to be the benchmark by which all other Bacos are judged. Full- bodied; there is an explosive bouquet of dark and red fruit, coffee, chocolate, smoke and spice. Vivid hybrid acidity leads the palate before some residual sugar kicks in to act as a counterpoint. Drink or hold. Pair with some Memphis-style dry-rubbed ribs. (ES) 58 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
89 QUAILS’ GATE MERLOT 2011, OKANAGAN ($26.95)
Deep ruby-purple colour with a cedary, tobacco and blueberry bouquet; medium-bodied, dry and savoury with a fine spine of acidity. Should cellar well for 4 to 5 years. (TA)
89 BURROWING OWL MERLOT 2012, OKANAGAN ($30)
Pleasure abounds with its aromatic nose, plush palate and long, elegant finish. A cascade of violets, blackberry, complex cassis, dried sage, smoked paprika and creamy mocha. Aged 20 months in barrel to incorporate complexity while softening the tannins. Delicious with steak pot pie. (HH)
89 CREEKSIDE ESTATE WINERY RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON QUEENSTON ROAD VINEYARD 2011, ST DAVID’S BENCH ($34.95)
An impressive Cab Sauv from a cool vintage. An enormous nose of After Eight chocolate, smoke, violets, graphite, cassis, dark cherry, beef bouillon, smoke and spice. Medium-plus body with great length. Drink over the next 5 to 6 years. (ES)
88 LAKEVIEW CELLARS SYRAH 2012, ONTARIO ($14.95)
A bargain at the price. Deep ruby colour with a savoury, red-berry, herbal nose; medium-bodied, dry, herby, raspberry flavour. A touch of sweetness in mid-palate but nicely balanced. (TA)
88 LAKEVIEW CELLARS SYRAH 2012, NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE ($25) Fresh cracked pepper, smoke, cocoa, raspberry, blackcurrant, thyme, earth and leather are supported by acid, supple tannins and a lengthy aftertaste. All in all, a textbook example of Ontario Syrah, which should be served with braised meats. (ES)
88 PONDVIEW BELLA TERRA PINOT NOIR 2013, FOUR MILE CREEK ($50)
Pondview’s first Pinot Noir succeeds in capturing plum, sweet cherry, earth, vanilla and cocoa aromas and flavours.
With a natural alcohol of 14.5%, there is very good length, lifted acid and supple tannins. Accessible right now. Pair with mushroom risotto topped with duck breast. (ES)
87 MISSION HILL RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, OKANAGAN ($26)
Sourced from their warm Osoyoos and Black Sage vineyards. Bold, youthful nose featuring blackcurrant and vanilla. Rich, complex cassis, mocha, mint and tobacco are well balanced by fresh acidity and ripe tannins. Long finish with smoke and sage. A red for steak. (HH)
87 CREEKSIDE ESTATE WINERY SERLUCA VINEYARD CABERNET FRANC 2013, FOUR MILE CREEK ($26.95)
A mid-weight Franc with raspberry, dark cherry, tobacco, violets, graphite and coffee. Medium length, fresh acid and solid tannins. Now to 2020. (ES)
CHILE 92 VIÑA LA RESERVA DE CALIBORO ERASMO 2009, MAULE VALLEY ($45)
Structured, layered and multi-dimensional with excellent focus and length, dark plum, mineral, blackcurrant and blackberry flavours; intense and persistent on the long, well-framed finish. Cries for grilled meat. (GB)
90 BLASÓN DE SAN JAVIER CABERNET FRANC/MERLOT/SYRAH 2013, VALLE DEL MAULE ($14.67)
Clear medium-deep ruby. Attractive, medium-intensity nose of plums, liquorice and violets with some stemmy notes from the Cab Franc. A simple, tasty wine, full-bodied and packed with fruit, especially cherries. Tannins still rough; can take a few more years. (RL)*
88 CONCHA Y TORO TRIO RESERVA CABERNET 2014, MAIPO VALLEY ($14.95)
70% Cabernet Sauvignon with Shiraz
and Cabernet Franc in the blend. Deep ruby-purple colour with a nose of blackcurrants and a spicy vanilla note from the oak. Medium- to full-bodied with cedar-tinged cassis and plum flavours carried on lively acidity. (TA)
87 BODEGA VOLCANES DE CHILE CABERNET SAUVIGNON/ SYRAH RESERVE 2014, RAPEL VALLEY ($9.95)
A house wine in the making! Deep ruby colour with a cedary-herbal nose of black fruits; medium-bodied, dry and savoury, with toasted herbs and blackberry flavours carried on a spine of lively acidity. Good value. (TA)
86 CORNELLANA BARREL RESERVE CARMÉNÈRE 2013, CACHAPOAL VALLEY ($14.50)
Clear, medium-deep plum-red. Faint nose, herbal and spicy from oak aging. Medium-bodied with fresh acidity over cherry fruit. Will improve with another year or two. (RL)*
FRANCE 95 CHÂTEAU LE MOULIN POMEROL 2010, BORDEAUX ($60)
This 80/20% Merlot/Cab Franc blend from a legendary vintage is nowhere near a dumb phase. The hedonistic bouquet exudes complexity, captivation and wonder. The palate explodes with power, richness and remarkable balance. Features buckets of blackberries, bowls of boysenberries and a box of cedar. Judicious sips offer multi-minutes of pleasure. The ripe tannins soften with aeration. Spectacular with pepper steak in cream sauce and oven fries. (HH)
93 CHÂTEAU LA SAUVAGEONNE GRAND VIN TERRASSES DU LARZAC AOP 2011, COTEAUX DU LANGUEDOC, FRANCE ($65)
This estate lies in the Hérault subregion known for its substantial temperature variations, lending both richness and freshness. The well-balanced blend of spicy Syrah, jammy Grenache
and earthy Carignan is a joy to drink, from lively spiced nose to fruit-laden palate, to savoury finish. Enjoy with artisanal cheese. (HH)
91 VIEUX CHÂTEAU LANDON 2010, BORDEAUX ($21.95)
This is an old-style claret. The wine has that characteristic cedar and blackcurrant bouquet with a lovely floral top note. Medium-bodied, dry and elegant with rich mid-palate fruit, this wine is beautifully balanced with some grip on the finish. The perfect wine for lamb dishes. (TA)
89 JEAN-PAUL BRUN MOULINA-VENT TERRES DORÉES 2013, BEAUJOLAIS ($35)
Rich and complex with great structure, loads of ripe fruit, cherry, plum and anise flavours. Very good depth, freshness and persistence from start to lingering finish. Ideal with grilled salmon, chicken and pork. (GB)
88 LAGARDE ROUGE 2013, IGP PAYS D’HÉRAULT ($8.92)
Clear medium-deep plum red. Fresh, medium-intensity nose of candy apple, raspberry and sour cherry. Light-bodied, simple, crisp and tasty with pomegranate and cranberry flavours. Best while still fresh; drink up. (RL)*
88 CLAUDE VIALADE LE CARLA SPECIAL RESERVE MALBEC 2013, CÔTES DU LOT IGP ($13.99)
Mellow ripe red fruit and peppery spice on the nose, shifting to surprisingly fresh and light raspberry flavours on the palate with a touch of green herb, lightly firm tannins and food-friendly acidity. Fine value. (SW)
88 MONTMIJA LA CHAPELLE CABERNET 2013, PAYS D’OC IGP ($16.99)
Made from 100% Cabernet Franc, this wine reveals good varietal scents of redcurrants with green herbal and spicy notes that play through in the mouth. Dark berry-fruit, dark chocolate and firm, dry tannic grip. An interesting drop
with plenty of character. Drink with smoked and grilled meats as well as hard ripened cheeses. (SW)
88 JEAN-PAUL BRUN BEAUJOLAIS L’ANCIEN 2013, BEAUJOLAIS ($26)
Juicy and fresh with cherry, plum and raspberry flavours; fine length and intensity with pepper and a hint of earth on the balanced, lifted finish. Chill slightly and serve with charcuterie. (GB)
88 MARÉCHAL GRAVEL 2013, BURGUNDY ($29.30)
Light ruby. Earthy, spicy with red berries (mostly raspberry) and fruit stones. Light spicy taste, medium body with a dense fruity core. Tannins turn a bit dry in the finish. Drink over the next 1–2 years with red meat casserole or stew. (GBQc)
87 DOMAINE QUÉNARD MONDEUSE LA SAUVAGE 2013, SAVOIE ($25)
Bright ruby. Dark berries, a touch of pepper and earthy notes. No perceptible oak. Medium body with good acidity; tannins are soft but a little bitter in the firm finish. Overall on the light side in a firm style. Ready to drink. (GBQc)
86 COTÉ MAS ROUGE INTENSE MEDITERRANÉE 2014, PAYS D’OC IGP ($13.99)
This vintage shows more dark fruit character than its predecessor with light herbal notes, ripe black cherry and blackberry flavours, rounded tannins and balanced acidity. (SW)
ITALY 94 RICASOLI COLLEDILÀ CHIANTI CLASSICO GRAN SELEZIONE DOCG 2011, TUSCANY ($57)
This wine, with 100% Sangiovese estate grapes from the Colledilà cru, qualifies for the new Gran Selezione category, 1 tier up from Chianti Classico Riserva. Powerful throughout, from the floral, oak-spiced nose to the rich, cocoa- and liquorice-laden flavours on the full-bodied palate. Long, spicy finish. Drink until 2026. (HH) APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 59
NOTED 93 FONTANAFREDDA SERRALUNGA D’ALBA BAROLO DOCG 2010, PIEDMONT ($42)
A benchmark Barolo with 100% Nebbiolo grapes delivers the trademark garnet red colour, complex floral aromas and tannic grip on the palate. A cascade of rose petals, black cherry, tar, forest-floor and smoked spice notes. Although well structured for cellaring, it seductively paired with ash-crusted venison. (HH)
93 MASCARELLO BAROLO 2011, PIEDMONT ($64)
A meaty, savoury and bold Nebbiolo with a nose of dark fruits, wood smoke, underbrush and nutmeg spice. There is firm tannic structure on the palate, suggesting a long life, with earthy blackberry, anise fruit and a full range of oak-derived baking spices and tobacco notes. It’s nicely integrated but will improve for decades to come. (RV)
92 AZIENDA AGRICOLA LE RAGOSE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007, DOC GARDA ($20.50)
Clear deep garnet. Mature nose of cassis and leather. Medium-bodied with high alcohol and still noticeable tannins providing good structure. Flavours of raspberry and blackcurrant linger on a long finish. High acidity enables it to comfortably accompany meat in a tomato sauce. Will improve for another year or 2. (RL)*
92 MASCARELLO DAL 1927 NEBBIOLO D’ALBA 2011 ($51)
A nose of attractive blackcurrants, raspberry, savoury spices, cigar leaf, cedar and vanilla. It is a robust wine on the palate with roasted vanilla bean, anise, currants and cherry with a mélange of spice notes. Quite structured with plush tannins and the stuffing to age for 5 to 10 years. (RV)
92 ALLEGRINI AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO DOCG 2011, VENETO ($75)
Although a blend of 90% Corvina, 5% Rondinella and 5% Oseleta, it’s the Appassimento method of air drying the 60 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
grapes that gives it its richness, complexity and concentration. A powerhouse red with herbal notes, dark ripe fruits and warmed spices. Clocks in at 15.5% alcohol, so consider aged cheese or dark chocolate. (HH)
91 ROCCA DELLE MACÌE ROCCATO TOSCANA IGT 2010, TUSCANY ($44)
This complex, firmly structured blend of equal parts Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon offers generous dark cherry, cassis and liquorice spice characteristics. It offers pleasurable drinking now, but will also develop over the next 10 years. Pairs well with pappardelle pasta and boar ragu. (HH)
91 CASTELLO DI AMA SAN LORENZO CHIANTI CLASSICO GRAN SELEZIONE 2010, TUSCANY ($46)
Nose is on the shy side, but not without depth, with notes of blackberries and subtle oak. More expressive on the generously fruity mid-palate. Tight and firm yet elegant with refined tannins. Will keep until 2020 and beyond. (GBQc)
91 BOTTEGA 2013, BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO DOCG ($53.99)
Warmly perfumed, concentrated dark fruit with elegant cinnamon and nutmeg spice on the nose open the way for powerful, well-integrated dark fruit, spice and dark chocolate in the mouth. The package is wrapped in supple tannins, finishing with well-integrated fruit, spice and deft supporting oak. Made in an approachable style, drinking well now. (SW)
91 MARCHESI DE’ FRESCOBALDI CASTEL GIOCONDO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO RISERVA DOCG 2009, TUSCANY ($55)
Rich and full-bodied with dry, firm tannins that require cellaring or red meat dishes to express themselves fully. Dense black cherry, blackberry, tobacco and spice throughout now, but will develop complexity and a softer texture over the next 10 years. (HH)
90 CA’ LA BIONDA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO DOC 2013 ($18.33)
Clear medium-deep garnet. Bouquet of red berries, a bit of cotton candy, rhubarb and sweet black liquorice. Medium-bodied and light-flavoured, tasting of cranberry and strawberry. Won’t get better; drink now. (RL)*
90 PROVOLO CAMPOTORBIAN RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2011 ($19)
This nifty Italian red uses the Ripasso method to add complexity and concentration to the finished wine. The nose shows rich cherry, plum, liquorice, smoke, earth, pepper and spice. It’s concentrated on the palate with a range of red fruits and plums that’s thick and spicy through the long finish. This can age 10 or more years. (RV)
90 CARPINETO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA DOCG 2010, TUSCANY ($30)
An elegant blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Canaiolo, with persistent nuances of floral, fruit and wood spice throughout. The judicious balance of fresh acidity and fleshy tannins make for a food-friendly, medium-bodied red. A solid choice for Italian dishes. (HH)
90 TENUTA BELLAFONTE SAGRANTINO 2011, UMBRIA ($50) Deep ruby colour with a nose of tobacco, cedar, pencil lead. Full-bodied, well-extracted sweet black fruit flavours with a lovely mouthfeel. Needs time for the tannins to mellow but is eminently drinkable now. If you have any moose burgers (and why wouldn’t you), time to fire up the grill. (TA)
89 CANTINA ZACCAGNINI TRALCETTO MONTEPULCIANO D’ABRUZZO DOC 2013, ABRUZZO ($19)
This 100% Montepulciano can best be described as “strong but gentle.” Rustic and oaky, yet well balanced by the violet and black cherry aromas, fruity flavours, dry tannins and velvety finish. Induces a craving for Montreal smoked meat. Good value. (HH)
89 TOMMASI VITICOLTORI ARELE 2013, VENEZIE ROSSO IGT ($22.99) Traditional Appassimento method, using partially dried grapes, adds depth and complexity to this deeply scented, fleshy ripe wine. It offers generous red fruit with spicy, green herbal, bitter cherry and plum flavours accented with a touch of clove and a trace of cinnamon. Well structured and harmoniously integrated. (SW)
89 SOLANE SANTI 2012, VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO CLASSICO SUPERIORE DOC ($25.79)
Red cherry and dark plum scents gain added depth on the nose from concentrated Ripasso-method partially dried grapes. Classic bitter cherry flavours show good depth with lightly firm tannins and brisk, food-friendly acidity. (SW)
89 CANTINA LE CLIMATE MONTEFALCO SAGRANTINO 2010, UMBRIA ($26)
Deep ruby-purple colour with an earthy, cedary, black-cherry nose. Dry, spicy flavours of tobacco and black cherry; full-bodied with firm tannins that are a touch green. Needs time. (TA)
89 ALLEGRINI PALAZZO DELLA TORRE VERONESE IGT 2012, VENETO ($27)
This “Super Venetian” Corvina/Rondinella blend, with a splash of Sangiovese, ferments 70% of the grapes directly while 30% are dried before refermentation with the wine later, resulting in a soft, ripe, well-balanced style. Raisined aromas but with rich fruit flavour. A remarkably versatile sipper. (HH)
88 MASI CAMPOFIORIN ROSSO DEL VERONESE IGT 2012, VENETO ($20)
Ripasso (meaning “repassed”) method has reached the 50-year mark with this pioneering red. Leftover Amarone grape skins are tossed into a classic grape blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, thereby initiating refermentation that adds body and richness to the wine. Soft, fruity and versatile. (HH)
88 CEUSO SCURATI NERO D’AVOLA 2012, SICILY ($25)
Lively and seamless with good concentration and definition. Flavours of wild cherry, red liquorice, fresh herb and spicy mineral; mouth-watering, silky tannins and a bright finish. A good value and great representation of this grape. Try with grilled seafood; the perfect pizza wine. (GB)
88 TRIACCA CHIANTI CLASSICO BELLO STENTO 2013, TUSCANY ($25)
Elegant and layered with plum, berry, earth and mineral. Medium-bodied with silky tannins and a long, long persistent finish. A great value from one of Tuscany’s most underrated producers. Food-versatile and will pair with everything from ribollita to stew chicken to grilled pork chops. (GB)
88 TRINCHERO TERRA DEL NOCE 2010, BARBERA D’ASTI, PIEMONTE ($25)
So-called “natural wines” are sometimes a gamble: they are often fragile and don’t travel well. This one is in perfect health with its clear, full ruby and garnet rim, and perfumed, slightly floral nose with a touch of kirsch. Supple and balanced on the palate, it is wisely oaked and very pleasant to drink. (GBQc)
no oak is to be found or needed. This is a young wine, a bit firm in the mid-palate, not without finesse but with a lot of fruit. You can enjoy it now or forget it for a few years. (GBQc)
88 POÇAS VALE DE CAVALOS 2012, DOURO VALLEY ($19.85) Purplish. Enticing nose of strawberry/ raspberry; a little candied and a touch of oak. Supple fruity taste, round mid-palate with tender yet firm tannins. Compact finish. Roast some lamb along with mushrooms and bell peppers. You’ll thank me later. (GBQc)
SPAIN 90 MARQUES DE CACERES GRAN RESERVA 2008, RIOJA ($29.95)
A Tempranillo and Garnacha blend. Deep ruby colour with an earthy, black-plum nose. Medium- to full-bodied, exhibiting black-fruit flavours with vanilla oak spice notes. Lively acidity gives the wine a long, harmonious finish. (TA)
88 GARCIA CARRIÓN ANTAÑO CRIANZA 2012, RIOJA DOC ($14.99)
Offers lifted fragrant red and blackberry scents with a pinch of peppery spice and luscious fresh berry fruit, backed by lightly firm tannins and palate-cleansing acidity. Exceptional value for a well-made Rioja. (SW)
88 PINACLE DE FAKRA 2010, BEKKA VALLEY ($14.95)
88 TORRES ALTOS IBERICOS CRIANZA 2012, RIOJA ($16.95)
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Cinsault. Dense ruby-purple colour with a cedary blackcurrant nose boosted by vanilla oak. Full bodied, earth and dry with ripe black-fruit flavours; well structured with nuances of toasted herbs. (TA)
PORTUGAL 89 POÇAS COROA D’OURO 2009, DOURO VALLEY ($25.60/1.5 L)
Ruby colour. The frisky red-fruits nose is really inviting, but that’s all you get;
Rich ruby-purple colour with a cedary-sandalwood nose of cherries and a spicy note; medium-bodied, dry, red berry-fruit flavours with balancing acidity. Good length; good mouthfeel. (TA)
88 OSBORNE MONTECILLO RESERVA 2009, RIOJA ($18.95)
Deep ruby colour with a bouquet of sandalwood and plum; medium-bodied, dry, elegant red plum flavour. Nicely balanced, firmly structured with a minty note on the finish. A versatile food wine. (TA) APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 61
NOTED 86 OSBORNE SOLAZ TEMPRANILLO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014, TIERRA DE CASTILLA ($11.45)
Deep ruby in colour with a cedary, earthy, leather nose coupled with smoky notes. Medium-bodied, dry, redcurrant and cherry flavours with a herbal tinge. (TA)
86 JEAN LEON 3055 MERLOT/PETIT VERDOT 2014, PENEDÈS ($18.95)
A singular blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot, which is easy-drinking and chock full of blackberry, plum, cherry and anise flavours. Medium length. Sausage and peppers or hamburgers are solid pairings. (ES)
UNITED STATES 92 ETUDE GRACE BENOIST RANCH PINOT NOIR 2013, CARNEROS, CALIFORNIA ($65)
Deliciously complex with layers of black cherry, plum, earth, forest floor, spice, tea and mineral; well structured. Firm yet velvety tannins, multi-dimensional and a long finish that adds another layer to the wine. Beautifully constructed. Perfect with duck, goose and other game birds. (GB)
91 CLINE CELLARS BIG BREAK ZINFANDEL 2012, CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA ($38)
Purplish. Blackberries, soft spices and a menthol-like touch. Fresh attack, intense fruity taste, silky texture, except on the finish where the tannins show a fine grainy edge. Overall, seductive and ready to drink. (GBQc)
90 SLEDGEHAMMER WINES ZINFANDEL 2011, NORTH COAST, CALIFORNIA ($17)
Medium ruby. A cocktail of slightly jammy spicy red fruits notes fill the glass; this is inviting. Suppleness is the main theme in the mouth. It is fleshy and remains fresh in spite of its near 15% alc. It literally glides on the tongue, and this impression lasts a good while after swallowing. Ready to drink. (GBQc) 62 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
88 BERINGER FOUNDERS’ ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, CALIFORNIA ($17.95)
A solid value from Beringer’s bang-forthe-buck tier. Mid-weight, there is sweet plum and black berry fruit encapsulating the spice, vanilla, cocoa, mint and tobacco. Suave tannins make this wine ready to drink. Enjoy your favourite cut of steak with this bottle. (ES)
88 BUENA VISTA PINOT NOIR 2012, CARNEROS ($42)
A pleasant earthiness leads to elegant and defined flavours of plum and black cherry; wonderful finesse, elegance, great restraint and balance with a long finish. Great with cassoulet, roasted meats and earthy dishes. (GB)
87 BERINGER FOUNDER’S ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, NAPA VALLEY ($17.95) Deep ruby colour with a cedar and blackcurrant nose; sweet fruit that finishes dry. Not very complex but an easy-drinking wine. (TA)
DESSERT 95 POÇAS COLHEITA 1964, PORTUGAL ($238)
A colheita (“harvest” in Portuguese) is an unblended port wine from a single vintage (much like a vintage port) but aged in barrels like a tawny. Ready to be drunk when it is released, it can also be kept many more years. This one is over 50 years old and shows a beautiful fawn colour with golden/amber reflections. Very complex nose of mild tobacco, hazelnuts, toffee and dried fruits. Unctuous, caressing the palate, it is equally fresh, rich and fat. Extremely long, its taste lasts for minutes. A real treat. (GBQc)
92 ELEPHANT ISLAND FRAMBOISE 2014, NARAMATA BENCH, BC ($18.99)
Remarkable, pure and unadulterated raspberry with that perfect edge of tartness for added authenticity, bursting with
intensity and juicy acidity for a powerful, long-lasting aftertaste. Try over ice cream with dark chocolate tart or just as a post-prandial sipper. Fortified. (TP)
92 TAYLOR FLADGATE 20 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT NV, DOURO, PORTUGAL ($62)
The amber tawny colour is a delight to admire, along with its complex bouquet of spice, jam, nuts and hints of orange. The rich palate with concentrated flavours of Fig Newton, raisin, toffee and roasted nuts lead to a long, mellow, spice-laden finish. A pleasure to sip, particularly at a cool cellar temperature. (HH)
90 LAKEVIEW CELLARS CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2013, NIAGARA ($30/200 ML)
Sweet cherry, raspberry and strawberry jam meld with hints of blue fruits, cocoa and herbs. Vibrant acidity buttresses a rich texture. Long finale. A flourless chocolate cake would be gorgeous with this sticky. (ES)
BEER BOXING ROCK BLOND RYE ALE, NOVA SCOTIA ($5.20/650 ML)
Hazy blond in colour, showing persistent head, aromatic floral, minty herb and subtle malty background aroma. Lightly sweet dried citrus fruit with rounded malty flavours and dry, quite astringent hoppy character kicking in on the finish. (SW)
BOXING ROCK CRAFTY JACK ENGLISH ALE, NOVA SCOTIA ($4.79/650 ML)
Dark amber colour with typical English-style nutty malt, dried fruit aromas and a hint of roasted malt. Roasted malt comes through more forcefully in the mouth together with fruity notes and dry, persistent bitterness on the finish. (SW)
PROPELLER BREWING COMPANY RYE IPA, HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA ($5/650 ML)
Shows straw colour with intense green
herbal hoppy scents and malty background aromas. Characteristically strong IPA bitterness dominates over fruity and malty flavours right through the long finish. (SW)
NORTH BREWING COMPANY FRENCH-INSPIRED FARMHOUSE ALE, HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA ($6.50/750ML)
Attractive red in the glass with enticingly aromatic spicy, floral and fruity aromas suggestive of spiced baked red apple. Spiced apple flavour plays through in the mouth together with red cherry, nutty rich maltiness and gentle hoppy flavours, all harmoniously integrated. Outstanding! A classic example of the style. (SW)
NORTH BREWING COMPANY WINTER SAISON, HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA ($5.75/750 ML)
Shows blondish straw colour with a creamy persistent head and spicy, green herbal and floral scents. Big, richly malted and fruity flavours in the mouth finish off with nicely balancing, lightly astringent dry hoppiness. Another superb brew from this outstanding craft brewery. (SW)
NORTH BREWING COMPANY STRONG DARK BELGIAN ALE, HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA ($8/750 ML)
Dark reddish-brown colour, slightly cloudy and showing characteristic subtle spicy and nutty malt, shifting to rich dried fruit cake flavours on the palate. Cherry, dried citrus and raisin flavours play against a backdrop of malty richness and moderately dry hop character on the finish. A great pairing for chocolate-based desserts and fruitcake. (SW)
TATAMAGOUCHE BREWING COMPANY ORGANICALLY BREWED GIANT BEER SERIES: TWO RIVERS BALTIC PORTER, NOVA SCOTIA ($12/650 ML)
Aromas are nutty with dark baker’s chocolate. Flavours of sweet candied cherries with rich chocolate on the mid-palate finish with notes of dry dark chocolate, coffee and toasted smokiness. (SW)
TATAMAGOUCHE BREWING COMPANY ORGANICALLY BREWED GIANT BEER SERIES: GIANTESS BARLEY WINE, NOVA SCOTIA ($14/650 ML)
Intriguing combination of floral perfume and burnt caramel on the nose with rich fruity flavours, toasty malt and bitter hoppiness. Dried fruit, coffee and dark chocolate combine harmoniously with subtle warming alcohol on the finish. (SW)
TATAMAGOUCHE BREWING COMPANY ORGANICALLY BREWED GIANT BEER SERIES: BARREL AGED DREAD NOT, AGED IN IRONWORKS RUM BARRELS, NOVA SCOTIA ($15/650 ML)
Shows very dark, stout-like colour with aromas of nutty dry malt and a hint of dark chocolate. Smoothly rounded on the palate with milk and dark chocolate, and fruity, malty flavours. Finishes with preserved fruit, chocolate, dry hops and spicy, rum-infused warming alcohol. A complex, smooth, powerful brew, and dangerously easy to drink! (SW)
HUISBRUWERIJ DE HALVE MAAN BRUGSE ZOT BLONDE, BELGIUM ($4.99/330 ML)
A traditional Belgian unfiltered blond style with a frothy, persistent head and nutty, yeasty, fruity citrus aromas. Lightly sour yeasty flavours contrast with citrusy sweetness and a touch of nutty malt on the drying finish. A great food beer. (SW)
SPIRITS DE MONTAL ARMAGNAC VSOP, FRANCE ($54)
If $100 is too rich for your blood, the VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) is a nice alternative. It has an intense nose of vanilla, apricot, orange rind, toffee and tobacco with a smooth delivery on the palate that has no burning going down the hatch. (RV)
DE MONTAL GRAND BAS ARMAGNAC 1996, FRANCE ($100/700 ML)
De Montal is a superior producer of authentic French Armagnac from the Bas region. This vintage-dated spirit is a rarity and only made in exceptional vintages. The nose shows dried fruits, toffee, caramel and subtle violets. It is like velvet on the palate with extraordinary depth and persistence with a range of dried apricot, marmalade and stone fruits followed by earthy spice notes, toffee, caramel and creamy vanilla. (RV)
NOVA SCOTIA SPIRIT CO WILLING TO LEARN GIN, PICTOU COUNTY, NOVA SCOTIA ($29.99) The name makes it sound like an amateur product on training wheels. Fortunately, it is way better than that, beginning with delicately perfumed juniper, floral and subtle background botanicals. Equally lively on the palate, showing juniper in the foreground in a smooth, slightly viscous texture and a soft touch of spirit on the finish. This is a skilfully made refined spirit. (SW)
CANADIAN CLUB CHAIRMAN’S SELECTION 100% CANADIAN RYE WHISKY GROWN FROM SINGLE GRAIN RYE ($28.49)
Gone is the cloying sweetness of Canadian whiskies in the past. This is another outstanding Canadian rye whisky showing deep burnt amber colour with aromatic fruity and spicy richness, and lightly sweet fruitcake spiciness against a smooth, almost creamy texture. It finishes with fine dry oak and smooth warming spirit. (SW)
STEINHART DISTILLERY ARISAIG HASKAP GIN UNFILTERED AND HAND-CRAFTED, NOVA SCOTIA ($19.99/200 ML)
Infused with flavours of the increasingly fashionable Haskap berry, this original spirit reveals scents of juniper and red berry fruit with flavour more reminiscent of blackcurrant in the mouth. There is a touch of berry sweetness and texture akin to gritty pomace, with warming, agreeably fiery spirit on the finish. (SW) APRIL 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 63
DAVINE BY GURVINDER BHATIA
COLLISIONI TRANSLATES TO “COLLISIONS” AS THIS MUSIC, LITERATURE AND WINE FESTIVAL SEEKS TO TEAR DOWN THE WALLS BETWEEN DIFFERENT ART FORMS.
The festival takes place in July and is set in the historic town of Barolo (population 750) in northwest Italy’s Piedmont region, surrounded by some of the most significant vineyard sites in the world (they possess UNESCO World Heritage status), and upwards of 35,000 people each day descend to listen to music, hear authors and share ideas at the multiple stages and venues set up throughout the town. Big-name musical artists like Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Neil Young, Deep Purple, Jamiroquai and Suzanne Vega have played the festival in the past (Mark Knopfler and Sting headlined in 2015) and, at the time of writing, Elton John and Mika were confirmed for this upcoming edition. Salman Rushdie, Nobel Prize winners Vidia Naipaul and José Saramago, Scott Turow and David Sedaris are amongst the writers and authors who have shared readings with festival-goers. Nobel Prize 64 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
winner Svetlana Alexievich, film director Abel Ferrara and writer Richard Ford are confirmed for this year. With respect to wine, Ian d’Agata, Collisioni’s wine and food creative director, says that the festival “aims to create a unique, highly prestigious experts’ panel made up of the world’s leading writers, collectors, authentic sommeliers (those who work in restaurants for a living) and wine professionals.” D’Agata goes on to explain that “the goal is for people to get to taste over 2,000 different wines from all over Italy, but also from around the world in the presence of many of the world’s top wine experts.” I was among 55 wine professionals from around the world invited to Collisioni 2015 to sit on panels, participate in seminars on indigenous Italian grape varieties and advise Italian wine producers on export market strategies. A point of note is that the average age of festival-goers is between 25 to 35. Seeing a room packed with 20-somethings excited to taste and talk about grapes like Grignolino, Verdicchio, Arneis and the wines of Alta Langa was invigorating.
It reinforces the cultural importance of wine and food (the two are inseparable) and their significance in defining the identity of a place. In addition to music, wine and literature, d’Agata says that festival organizers are planning on expanding to make food the fourth focus. The festival and its mission is supported by grants from the Piedmont region’s governments to promote culture and art (municipal, provincial and federal governments in Canada, please take note). This open-air festival not only consumes and embraces the town of Barolo, it becomes a hub for all ages to engage, collaborate and participate. Collisioni does devote special attention to young people through its Youth Project, which invites and hosts more than 300 Italian youth each year, with a focus on those from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. In exchange, the festival asks them to contribute via their creative skills as actors, musicians, photographers, videographers, storytellers and volunteers. Collisioni organizers are also creating a year-round school at the Castello
di Barolo for youth interested in food and wine, featuring lectures on wine marketing and communication, tastings and a cooking school. Establishing a creative hub for young people who are interested in wine, food and the arts will undoubtedly attract more young people, thereby assisting not just with the sustainability of the industry, but instilling the culture and economic significance of wine and food in future generations. I had the opportunity to meet with wine colleagues from 12 countries. The tastings/seminars are more like round-table discussions, allowing panelists to not only provide their opinions and insights on the wines, but express how the wines are received or to speculate on how they would be received (if not currently available) in their home markets. Panelists also answer questions from public and other wine professionals. Some of the seminars/tastings that stood out to me:
Very good-quality sparkling wines from Piedmont made in the traditional method using Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. The bottles age for a minimum of 30 months or 36 months for the reserve. Very much a niche item as with many of the sparkling wines from Italy, other than Prosecco, and must be directed to specialty wine boutiques and restaurants that have the desire and ability to sell non-mainstream wines.
Fantastic! Such a wonderful and versatile grape, producing delicious red wines in a range of styles, the best being light coloured, finessed and elegant with bright acidity. Also very much a niche wine, but has the ability to appeal to the younger as well as the experienced wine drinker. Killer food wines.
So interesting and informative. Barolo is an endless learning experience. Truly the king of wines.
Verdicchio has the ability to be the next white wine from Italy that is broadly accepted by the mainstream. Verdicchio is also one of the few Italian white wines that not only has the ability to do some aging, but benefits from it. Producers should work together on a plan to market quality Verdicchio to the influencers in key export markets.
A quality gateway wine that has the ability to appeal to the younger generation and help transition them into wine and away from coolers, beer and the sugar-laden, generic mass-produced wines that have no sense of place or authenticity. The best are bright, fresh and approachable with great balance between acid and sweetness. I’ve always said that wine gets its context from the people, place, culture and history of its home and that it is simply another form of artistic expression that elicits emotion. Great winemakers, musicians, authors and chefs (along with so many different types of artists) are passionate and talented artists who convey their inspirations via their wine, music, lyrics, words and food. We must celebrate those who make a difference. But above all, we must unabashedly encourage and revel in diversity and individuality because conformity breeds mediocrity. Following the masses is easy, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Collisioni epitomes this. If you love wine, music, literature, food, travel, art and simply experiencing, you must add the festival to your bucket list. ×
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AFTER TASTE BY TONY ASPLER
IT’S GONNA BE BIG MY PREDICTION FOR THE NEXT BIG THING IS SHERRY.
As a sherry lover, I’ve been saying this for years, but I think 2016 is the year when Canadians will rediscover the delights of this versatile beverage. Sherry, like Riesling, is the most misunderstood of all wines — and it is a wine, even though it’s lightly fortified with grape spirit. Sherry, like Riesling, got a bad rap because consumers believed it was sweet. No wonder, when the world’s largest-selling sherry is Harveys Bristol Cream. But it comes in a vast range of styles, from the crisply dry, salttinged Manzanilla of Sanlúcar de Barrameda to the honey-sweet confections made from Moscatel (Muscat of Alexandria) or the Pedro Ximénez grape (known familiarly by its initials, PX). The name sherry is an anglicized version of Jerez, a city in southern Spain’s Andalusia region. Jerez de la Frontera, to give its full name, is the centre of production and, with the coastal towns of Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Puerto de Santa Maria, makes up the third point of the so-called Sherry Triangle. Called the Aging and Maturing Zone, the Sherry Triangle is the location of the traditional bodegas, some of whose internal structures resemble cathedrals. There is a larger Production Zone beyond the triangle where the vineyards are permitted to grow grapes to produce the base wine, but to earn the name sherry, the wines must be raised within the triangle. Sherry is a complex drink. Basically there are four dry styles, each with its own method of production: ranging from lightest to most full-bodied, they are Fino, Amontillado, Palo Cortado and Oloroso — all made from the Palomino grape. (Manzanilla is considered a Fino, but being matured close to the sea in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, its flavour is influenced by the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean. The name Manzanilla in Spanish means “little apple” and also “chamomile,” which is the best flavour descriptor of the lightest of all Spanish sherries.) In her engaging book, Sherry: The Wine World’s Best-Kept Secret, Talia Baiocchi offers recipes and cocktails. She also gives this amusing rule of thumb on how to match sherries to different styles to food. Her advice is: “If it swims, Fino. If it flies, Amontillado. If it walks, Oloroso.” 66 × @QUENCH_MAG × NEXT BIG THING ISSUE
I would add, if you have no fear of the dentist, Pedro Ximénez. The sweet version is called Cream Sherry and is usually produced by blending a dry Oloroso with PX or Moscatel — and for the bargain-priced products, the addition of the wine and Arrope (boiled unfermented grape juice that’s reduced by 50 percent.) Talking of Cream Sherry, the lactose-intolerant have nothing to fear: there are no dairy products in it. Legend has it — according to Harveys’ website — in the early 1860s, an aristocratic lady visiting Harveys cellars was invited to taste Bristol Milk (a rich dark sherry popular at the time) and then the new blend. She declared: “If that is Milk, then this is Cream,” and as such Harveys Bristol Cream created a whole new sherry category. (Bristol, incidentally, is the British port to which Harveys shipped its sherries.) Apart from being excellent food wines, sherries have the added bonus of being long-lasting once they are opened because the wines are oxidized. However, I have found it’s best to drink them fresh. An opened bottle of Fino or Manzanilla will last a week or so in the fridge (my advice is to buy these styles in half bottles). The medium and sweet sherries will last two to three weeks once opened. So, to make my prediction come true, treat yourself to a half bottle of Manzanilla or Fino and chill it as an apéritif. With soup, try a dry Amontillado. And so on. As long as you can determine how your food conveyed itself by land, sea or air, you have Ms Baiocchi’s simple food-matching guideline. ×
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