PILLERS IN FOLDER
Charcuterie Entertaining The holidays are a time to celebrate with the ones you love. This season, delight your family and friends with the distinctive taste of Pillerâ€™s artisan deli meats. Theyâ€™re high in protein, free of gluten and are sure to be the centerpiece of your holiday spread.
Visit pillers.com for this delicious recipe and more.
QUENCH MAGAZINE DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 KNOWING THEM × 22 KNOW THE PERSON GETTING THE WINE, NOT THE WINE. BY RICK VANSICKLE GIFTING IS THE HARDEST THING × 24 GADGETS AND GIZMOS FOR STUFFING STOCKINGS. BY SILVANA LAU ANTIQUES × 27 WHAT EXACTLY IS ANTIQUE EUROPE AND WHAT IS ITS FUTURE? BY MICHAEL PINKUS ISLAY × 30 THERE’S A REASON THIS COMPACT LAND MASS IS KNOWN AS WHISKY ISLAND. BY SARAH PARNIAK
ISLANDS IN THE STREAM × 34 WHAT IS THE FIRST THING THAT POPS INTO YOUR HEAD WHEN WE MENTION SCOTCH? VIKINGS??? BY TOD STEWART OPENING × 38 THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS IS A TOUGH ONE. SO WHY WOULD ANYONE OPEN A RESTAURANT? BY LISA HOEKSTRA SMALL, LITTLE THINGS × 40 WHEN IT COMES TO PLANNING YOUR LARGE (OR SMALL) DINNER PARTIES, IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT PEOPLE REMEMBER MOST. THAT WEASEL DID WHAT? × 46 THE MAGIC OF THAI COFFEE. BY SILVANA LAU
38 DEPARTMENTS IN SEARCH OF SANTA × 49 AS A CHILD, I WAS ALWAYS A BIT SKEPTICAL ABOUT THE WHOLE SANTA THING. DID MY PARENTS FIX HIM A HIGHBALL? DID HE EVEN HAVE TIME FOR A HIGHBALL? BY NANCY JOHNSON NOTED × 51 EXPERTLY-TASTED BUYING GUIDE FOR WINES, BEERS, CIDERS AND SPIRITS FROM AROUND THE WORLD.
THE JUDGMENT OF BC × 64 SEE WHAT STEVEN SPURRIER THINKS OF BC WINE. BY GURVINDER BHATIA YOU SAY TOMATO AND I SAY WINE × 66 IS THE CHARELVOIX REGION IN QUEBEC BECOMING A CULINARY MECCA? BY TONY ASPLER
DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 3
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EVERY TIME WE TALK ABOUT WRAPPING UP THE YEAR HERE AT QUENCH, I GET SOMEWHAT NOSTALGIC. I’M NOT SURE WHETHER IT’S THE YEAR THAT’S BEHIND US OR THE YEAR THAT’S AHEAD THAT OCCUPIES MY THOUGHTS. All I know is
that it’s those small things we do throughout the year that excite me the most.
4 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
Changing the rules [November 2015] is a definite necessity in Canada. While I’m not so hung up on wine labels, relaxing the fences around beer and wine areas at events would be a definite improvement. The one change Bhatia mentions that I’m 100% behind is the removal of barriers for shipment of wine across provincial borders. It’s frustrating to know that there’s a wine being produced in our beautiful country that I can’t actually buy for myself - if the provincial liquor store doesn’t have it, then I’m out of luck. Maybe one day we can support Canada’s wine producers without risking large government-inflicted fines. Mike Wade, email Was really interesting to read about Janice Wang’s experiments in pairing wine with music [“Food for Though”, November]. I personally enjoy listening to Yesterday (Beatles) while I sip my Cab Sauv... but it could just be the nostalgia making every sip better. Earl Griffiths, Newfoundland I was so thrilled to see Black Hills Alibi on your Mav Wine Awards list. I have been in love with this wine since they first made it in 2003 (ok, maybe not that long, but a really long time) - the apple and pineapple really pounce. Thanks for including it! Angela Nunez, email
When I talk about small things, there isn’t one that particularly jumps out. In putting together each issue, a number of elements come together — always exciting me. One writer’s thoughts linking with another’s. A group of images coming together. A design that makes the page jump. An email exchange with my editors. These small things are totally transparent to you, the reader, and that’s what I love the most. The Quench family is busy in the background, like little elves, working on each release. When you read it, things just fall into place and you are transported to the vineyards of Antique Europe (see page 27), the peated fields of Islay and beyond (we have two pieces on Scotch to enjoy, starting on page 30) or our test kitchen (page 40). There you settle in, finding a small nugget of information you may not have known. That is no small thing, but one that I deeply enjoy.
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CONTRIBUTORS Sarah Parniak is a freelance writer, bartender and consultant with a (healthy) spirits obsession that she channels into a weekly drinks column for Toronto’s NOW Magazine. She’s represented Canada in international bartending competitions and can currently be found behind the stick at the recently opened Bar at Alo. When she’s not working in bars, she’s usually drinking in them. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @s_parns.
Writer-at-large, Silvana Lau is a part-time globe wanderer but a full-time bon vivant. You can find her restaurant hopping in neighbourhoods across Toronto, obsessing over her gai lan addiction (her all-time favourite vegetable) or asking her friends a variety of quirky “would you rather” questions. Her ideal way to de-stress after a long day involves the 3Cs: Crank up the music, Crack open a bottle of wine and Cook up a storm! Follow her @silzies.
Rick VanSickle is a freelance wine journalist and publisher of WinesInNiagara.com. He spends a great deal of time honing his craft (drinking wine) and has no problem telling you about it via Twitter or Instagram (@rickwine). It’s all about enjoying life and living it to the fullest, which is the one thing he is very good at.
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DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 7
GRINDER IN FOLDER
À LA CARTE Q SCHOOL × 10 TOP 7 FOOD TRENDS IN 2015. GOOD FOOD BY NANCY JOHNSON × 13 A FEW CHOICE INGREDIENTS AT THE READY FOR QUICK APPETIZERS WHEN AN UNEXPECTED PARTY BREAKS OUT. UMAMI BY KATIA JEAN PAUL × 14 CAMILLA WYNNE IS PRESERVING AN ANCIENT TRADITION. THE PROFILE BY TOD STEWART × 17 DECIPHERING THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF SAKE. FEED BY TOM DE LARZAC × 18 AT THIS TIME OF YEAR, EVERYONE HAS THE COMMON RESPONSIBILITY OF HOSTING. LAZY MIXOLOGIST BY CHRISTINE SISMONDO × 19 THERE’S NO BETTER WAY TO WARM UP THAN WITH A NICE GLASS OF PORT. MUST TRY × 20 EVER THOUGHT ABOUT THROWING KALE CHIPS AND ROASTED TOMATOES IN PASTA? BON VIVANT BY PETER ROCKWELL × 21 WHAT’S RUM MADE FROM, AND WHY IS IT SO POPULAR WITH PIRATES?
DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 9
Top 7 food trends in 2015
THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY SEES DIFFERENT TRENDS EMERGING EACH YEAR TO TANTALIZE OUR CULINARY PALATES. This past year, the trends that emerged
pointed in a new direction and paved the way for exciting new ingredients, restaurant themes and more. These seven trends look like they’re here to stay.
#1 NEW CUTS
Chefs took another look at cuts of meat deemed less desirable and found a new font of inspiration. From beef cheek to pork shoulder, we’ve seen cuts of meat on the menu that received a turned-up nose. This trend opened the door for new charcuterie — lamb bacon, turkey jerky, octopus salami and dried scallop shavings to name a few.
#2 GOING GREEN
While the move towards environmentally conscious practices isn’t really new per se, it is new to restaurants. Sustainable food, supplies and even water (in-house water filtration systems) are more and more prominent.
#3 HYPER-LOCAL SOURCING
Sourcing locally is another trend that isn’t all that new, but it’s changing. Chefs and restaurant managers are taking it one step further to ensure that all their ingredients and even their drinks, cutlery and décor is provided by farms, producers and businesses in their community. 10 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
#4 ALL HAIL VEGGIES
Turns out mom was right all along (don’t tell her though) — we should all eat our veggies. 2015 saw an increase in vegetable-based mains that include kale (see page 40), swiss chard, mustard greens, collard greens, dandelions and beet greens. But the king of vegetables has to be cauliflower — roasted, spiced, fried or boiled, this white veggie has had a makeover and is wowing diners across the country.
#5 FERMENTED FOOD
Fermented foods, like the familiar pickles, yogurt and sauerkraut, or the exotic miso, kefir (a milk drink), tempeh, kombucha (fizzy black or green tea) and kimchi (spicy Korean cabbage), increased in popularity both in restaurants and grocery stores.
#6 NON-ALCOHOLIC SELECTIONS
Consumers have been expanding the non-alcoholic selection in 2015. Restaurants, coffee shops, brunch stops and more are offering items like cold-brewed coffee, draft lattes, craft soda, natural soft drinks, smoothies and plant/fruit/vegetable flavoured water (flat or carbonated).
#7 CRAFTY & CREATIVE COCKTAILS
Craft beers, microbrews and restaurant-original cocktails have made their way onto restaurant drink menus across the country. At Quench, we’re always excited to try new experiments made by experts in the industry, so this trend is right up our alley.
Other trends that made some noise this year include the use of ethnic sauces like sriracha, raita/raitha, chimichurri and soy sauce; the replacement of quinoa with freekeh, a Middle Eastern grain; and the use of food foraged by the chefs themselves. ×
ARLA DORFINO IN FOLDER
KIR YIANNI IN FOLDER
GOOD FOOD BY NANCY JOHNSON
EASY APPS I’m a big believer in enjoying the holiday season and that means having a few choice ingredients at the ready for quick appetizers when an unexpected party breaks out at my place. The following are a few items that never let me down.
We call it prah-zhute in our family, accent on the zhute. Every Saturday, my dad would bring a pound of prosciutto home from the Italian deli, along with a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh mozzarella, Italian bread, olives, pepperoncini and bottled Fiuggi water. Prosciutto, a salt-cured, dry-aged Italian ham, makes a yummy sandwich (or sangwich as my dad would say), but it’s also lovely wrapped around slices of cantaloupe, roasted asparagus, mozzarella or bread sticks. Serve it as part of an antipasto tray or on a homemade pizza.
A bag of shrimp in the freezer is akin to gold in your pocket. Defrost, peel, devein and boil for the most beloved appetizer known to mankind — shrimp cocktail. To make cocktail sauce, simply mix prepared horseradish into old-fashioned chili sauce or ketchup to taste. Serve with wedges of lemon. Wrap bacon around shrimp, sprinkle with brown sugar and broil until shrimp and bacon are cooked through. Or thread shrimp onto wooden skewers, brush with Italian dressing and broil. Serve with peanut sauce. Sauté shrimp and any veggies you have on hand. Add teriyaki sauce and heat through. Serve small plates of shrimp and veggies over cooked rice, garnished with crushed peanuts or cashews.
I always keep a few cans of low-sodium garbanzo beans in the pantry. Drain and mash in a food processor with sesame tahini, chopped garlic, lemon juice, kosher salt and ground cumin. Garnish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of cayenne or paprika. Serve with pita bread. Garbanzo beans are also delicious in green or pasta salads, vegetarian chili and bean salad with steamed green and yellow wax beans and dark red kidney beans. Serve with a dressing of lemon juice, salt, pepper, a dash of sugar and extra virgin olive oil.
× Search through our huge library of recipes on quench.me/recipes/
Smoked salmon is great to have on hand during the holidays, but what is it exactly? Smoked salmon is salmon cured with either hot or cold smoke. Lox refers to salmon cured in a salt-sugar rub or brine. Look for thinly sliced smoked salmon in the refrigerated seafood section, usually sold in a vacuum-sealed package. Roll smoked salmon into rosettes and serve with bagels, diced tomatoes, cream cheese and capers. For an easy dip, mix chopped smoked salmon with whipped cream cheese, a dollop or two of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, fresh dill and minced scallions. Serve with bagel or pita chips. Tuck smoked salmon under eggs benedict instead of peameal bacon. Toss chopped smoked salmon with peas, fettucine, butter, heavy cream and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Or, if you’re feeling particularly rambunctious, try this fancy-schmancy crostini recipe.
SMOKED SALMON CROSTINI WITH MASCARPONE 1 2 18 1/4
baguette, cut into 1/4-inch rounds tbsp butter, melted slices smoked salmon cup mascarpone, or as needed Baby arugula for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. 2. Arrange bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Brush tops with melted butter. Bake until light golden brown, about 7 minutes. 3. Spread thin layer of mascarpone over bread slices. Lay 1 slice salmon on each. Garnish with a few small leaves of arugula. × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 13
UMAMI BY KATIA JEAN PAUL
MASON JARS MAKE FOR BEAUTIFUL CENTREPIECES, RUSTIC CHANDELIERS AND NIFTY CANDY JARS. Camilla
Wynne, however, uses them for something that only a few years ago seemed ostensibly arcane: food preservation. Raspberries, apples, beets, pickles … she cans them all, like her grandmothers and the homemakers before her, before refrigerators and microwave dinners redefined the zeitgeist. The Master Preserver and owner of Preservation Society, the Montreal-based small-batch preservation company she founded in 2011, is among a growing number of chefs, food writers and canning instructors ushering a return to the once requisite culinary practice. But unlike her forebears, Wynne’s not in it to perfect strawberry jam but rather to delight and amuse, one glass jar at a time. Case in point: her Bloody Caesar pickled celery. “You always garnish a [Bloody] Caesar with a celery stick, so I thought, ‘What if we infuse the drink into the celery itself ?’” says Wynne. “It’s basically my Caesar mix with a little bit more acid. It even has vodka in it.” The pastry-chef-turned-canning-connoisseur’s other cocktail-inspired offerings include margarita-flavoured marmalade made with lime, tequila, triple sec and salt, and Blood and Sand — a whisky, orange and Cherry Heering-laced jam named after the robust drink. The latter is included in Wynne’s latest book, Preservation Society Home Preserves (2015, Robert Rose Inc), a collection of recipes for jams, marmalades, chutneys and other water bath-based concoctions. Originally from Edmonton, Wynne came to Montreal 16 years ago to study religion at McGill University when daydreams about desserts she wanted to bake would often usurp her attention. She dropped out and instead completed a pastry course at the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ), before training under chefs Patrice Demers and Rachel 14 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
Bassoul respectively, while simultaneously touring the world as a member of the erstwhile indie band Sunset Rubdown. In 2009, following what would ultimately be their last show, Wynne returned from Tokyo and worked for friends and fellow pastry chefs, Stéphanie Labelle at Pâtisserie Rhubarbe and Foodlab’s Michelle Marek then stationed at French restaurant Laloux. A year and a half later, realizing the band was not getting back together, Wynne, who had taken to canning in her early 20s, branched out on her own. “At the time, there was nothing else like it,” she recalls. Wynne, who also studied artisanal preserving at the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire du Québec in Sainte-Hyacinthe and is one of only two Master Preservers nationwide, the program of which is offered at Cornell University in New York, taught home canning workshops before launching her own product line. Her playful artisanal canned goods, often made with local ingredients, are now sold online and at various retailers throughout Canada, and recently the US. Inspired by everything from Atlanta’s staple sweet tea to renowned French pastry chef Pierre Hermé’s couture confections, Wynne’s preserves buck tradition. “I worked in molecular gastronomy restaurants and what I always thought was cool about that was, for instance, when a deconstructed black forest cake first showed up in a restaurant, you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s so cool.’ We can take these familiar flavours and break them apart and put them back together in another way,” says Wynne. “When I started making preserves, I wanted to do that.” Whether to eat healthier or to enjoy summer produce all year round, Wynne, herself seduced by the similarities between pastry cooking and preserving, attributes the resurgence of the old-timey practice to a sense of longing. “I think a lot of people are nostalgic for the taste of those things,” says Wynne. “It feels good to reconnect to making your own food.” ×
TRE STELLE IN FOLDER
MAGAZINES CANADA IN FOLDER Canadian magazines are inviting.
Not to mention enjoyable. That’s why we publish hundreds of titles, so you know there’s one just for you. All you have to do is head to the newsstands, look for the Genuine Canadian Magazine icon marking truly Canadian publications and start reading. It’s that easy.
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THE PROFILE BY TOD STEWART
SAKE — JAPAN’S ICONIC NATIONAL DRINK BREWED FROM POLISHED-DOWN SPECIALTY RICE — IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY POPULAR. Its complexity and versatili-
ty is winning over a legion of new followers who are discovering that different styles of sake can open up a whole new world of potable pleasures, and who are discovering what a versatile drink it is. However, even seasoned oenophiles will struggle with the different styles, classifications and ambiguities. Those labels can be a real challenge for the uninitiated to decipher — even the ones with English translations. Over a superb lunch at Toronto’s Ki, an upscale Japanese restaurant, I was given a crash course in the world of sake by Mariko Tajiri, national brand manager for That’s Life Gourmet Ltd (a company specializing in premium sake), who holds an Advanced Sake Professional (ASP) designation. I tried my best — I really did — to grasp the nuances and complexities of the drink, its evolution and growing popularity. But after a few sips and a few bites, I decided to just relax and enjoy being immersed in what was, to me, an alien — but delicious — world. “Historically, all sake was brewed to taste pretty much the same,” Tajiri explained. “But a younger generation of toji — or sake brewer — are taking things in a much more distinctive direction.” She also clarified some of the finer points when it comes to sake terminology. “Any sake, regardless of its classification (e.g. honjozo, jumbo, ginjo or daiginjo) can be Tokubetsu, and this would be indicated on the bottle. It wouldn’t necessarily say what’s so ‘special’ about it, but the term would be on the bottle. We have Tokubetsu Junmai sakes, Tokubetsu Honjozo sakes, etc. You never, however, see Tokubetsu Ginjo. Okay, I wouldn’t say never, but I haven’t seen it! “Tokubetsu usually refers to extra rice polish, atypical yeast, rice … something out of the ordinary. Most often, it’s the polish, but there are no laws governing the use of it.
“Also, the Miyamanishiki rice referenced in your note for the Kozaemon Tokubetsu (see below), is known for being a ‘hard’ rice that doesn’t melt as much as, let’s say, Yamadanishiki or Omachi. So Miyamanishiki rice tends to lend itself to leaner sakes. However, Kozaemon, not being one to follow others, uses Miyamanishiki from its neighbouring prefecture (Nagano) and makes a pretty voluminous sake. He achieves this by using a lot more koji [one of sake’s most mysterious ingredients and worthy of a story unto itself ] than other brewers (around twice as much!), no charcoal filtering, and pasteurizing only once in bottle to keep a lot of the flavours in. Using a lot of koji means that the starches in the rice have a lot more help in being converted to sugars.” Interestingly, pretty much all sake is diluted slightly before bottling. To the novice, quality sake seems expensive. Mostly because it is. But as the following examples prove, you do indeed get what you pay for.
FUKUMITSUYA BREWERY KAGATOBI GOKKAN JUNMAI SAKE, 15.7% ABV ($10/180 ML) What’s not to love about sake in a can? Brewed from Yamadanishiki rice with a 65% polish and brewed in the coldest months of the year for a long fermentation that results in excellent balance and weight. Mild earthy notes with green apple, melon and nougat notes. Full-bodied and mildly spicy on the palate, with refreshing acidity, some ripe melon and almond. The finish is crisp, fresh and clean. (Incidentally, the canned version is just slightly lower in alcohol than the bottled one due to differing pasteurization methods.)
NAKASHIMA BREWERY KOZAEMON TOKUBETSU JUNMAI SAKE, 16.1% ABV ($15/300 ML) Tokubetsu means “special” and, as Tajiri notes, is usually in reference to a rice, yeast or brewing technique that is in some way unique. But whatever, this is lovely stuff with a complex aroma of tropical fruit, anise, toasted nuts, apple and banana. Quite full in the mouth (thanks to the Miyamanishiki rice strain) with flavours of coconut, plum, vanilla and fennel. Long on the finish with a welcome dash of bitterness as it tails off. × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 17
FEED BY TOM DE LARZAC
THE HOST WITH THE MOST AT THIS TIME OF YEAR, EVERYONE HAS THE COMMON RESPONSIBILITY OF HOSTING.
Whether that is a small get-together or a large to-do for family and friends, each event has those pieces that cause some stress: what to serve, where to seat everyone, and when to find time to clean the house. While I can’t offer advice on all of these, I do have experience with the “what to serve” portion. Over the years, I have hosted many events, started a dinner club and catered large dinner parties, and along the way I have learned a thing or two to make the dining experience run more smoothly. Here are a few of the key lessons that I take particularly seriously. First: plan ahead. When I plan a meal for a large group, I try to plan at least a few weeks out. This allows me to make a shopping list, efficiently plan where to get everything and most importantly, attempt to delegate some of the shopping. When planning, less is more. It is easy to allow the number of items being prepared to creep up, but there is no need. You don’t want people getting full on appetizers (unless that is all you plan on making), and there is only so much space on a plate when people actually sit. Which leads to the second key takeaway: shop and prep at least a day (preferably 2 to 3 days) before the event. Shopping early allows for prep. Many things can be prepped the day before (marinating, dips and dressings, washing veggies, chopping, etc.). This saves a surprising amount of time. Some items even taste better after a day or two. I find that this is particularly true for sauces (BBQ, tomato sauce and soups). The final takeaway: plan on diversifying your cooking methods! This may sound a bit silly, but this has been the most valuable lesson I have learned when cooking for large groups, especially when using a normal home kitchen. Diversifying the method of cooking items allows you to cook more things at once, which results in less time in the kitchen. Utilize the burners, the oven, a slow cooker, rice cooker or BBQ if you have them. Trust me, it saves time in the kitchen and means fewer items will be sitting around (trying to) stay warm, and you can spend more time relaxing, assuming you have figured out the non-food-related items associated with hosting. 18 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
GOAT CHEESE TARTS 24 mini tart shells (pre-made) 2 tbsp olive oil 2 cup shallots, diced 1 tsp each salt and pepper 300 g goat cheese, refrigerated 1 cup balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup basil, chopped 1. Pre-bake tart shells as per instructions. 2. In a non-stick pan over medium heat, combine
olive oil, shallots, salt and pepper. Cover and sauté for 20 to 30 minutes, or until browned and caramelized. Take off heat to cool. 3. At the same time, place vinegar into a small saucepan and reduce to 1/4 previous volume. Vinegar should become thick and begin coating the back of a spoon. 4. Distribute shallots evenly among all tart shells. Divide goat cheese evenly over top. Drizzle vinegar glaze over cheese. Top with a pinch of basil. MATCH: Small bites sometimes need big wines. Serve with Champagne. ×
LAZY MIXOLOGIST BY CHRISTINE SISMONDO
Ports of call
Any port in a storm, someone once said. The wisdom of this philosophy becomes abundantly clear when the temperatures start to dip and we spot that first little flurry, since there’s no better way to warm up than with a nice glass of port wine. No wonder it’s a staple at the holiday table in the United Kingdom, a country so closely associated with the rich, sweet, fruit-forward fortified wine that it’s almost possible to forget that port was born in Portugal, not England. Especially since half the brands have distinctly Anglo names — Taylor’s, Graham’s and Croft, to list a few. Some even claim British sailors were responsible for the invention of port, a story that, like so much alcohol lore, isn’t really true. That said, the fortified wine’s rise to greatness does have a UK connection. Mainly because France and England were on the outs for much of the 1600s and 1700s and British oenophiles had to look further afield for a source of good imported wine. Portugal was happy to step up to the plate. To increase the shelf life of the wine for its long journey north, shippers began fortifying it with distilled spirits. Some of those expediters were British entrepreneurs, which is why some of the better-known port houses still have English names.
Here in North America, bartenders failed to recognize port’s potential as a cocktail ingredient until only recently, when it was revived by the new generation of adventurous drinksters always on the hunt for hidden gems. It’s catching on fast, thanks to port’s luxurious mouthfeel, which imparts a layer of smoothness to a mixed drink, as well as a subtle cherry-wine flavour. A little research led cocktailers to discover a long, rich, pre-Prohibition tradition of port cocktails and punches. One such punch, the Smoking Bishop, even makes an appearance in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Still, it can be intimidating to try imagining how best to use this ingredient. For that, then, we turned to Calgary’s port authority, David Bain of Model Milk, a cocktail bar that offers port in both cocktails and flights. “There is definitely a resurgence of fortified wine,” says Bain. “It started with the vermouth explosion, then sherry cocktails were everywhere. Port’s part of all of that.”
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But you have to be careful. In terms of its use as a cocktail ingredient, Bain recommends moderation. For his “Doll is Mine” cocktail, he cuts the port with pisco and Cynar to make sure it isn’t too cloying. The perfect port cocktail to weather any winter storm.
DOLL IS MINE
1 1 1/2 1/2 1 1
oz pisco oz tawny port oz Cynar oz ginger liqueur whole egg dash Angostura bitters
Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice and shake for 60 seconds. Remove ice and shake a second time, also for 60 seconds. This is called a “reverse dry shake,” a technique that helps to create a lot of foam. Strain into chilled rocks glass and garnish with a dash or two of bitters. × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 19
KALE AND ROASTED TOMATO PASTA Tired from all that prep and cleaning? Dinner parties can be draining, which means you don’t always have the patience to create a meal from scratch. Thankfully, you have some leftover kale chips and roasted cherry tomatoes (from page 45). Here’s a very tasty (and immune system boosting) recipe that is quick and easy.
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1 1/4 2 200 1 125
package rotinis (cooked) cup olive oil cloves garlic, minced g Italian sausages Thyme leaves Parmensan cheese, grated cup roasted cherry tomatoes (see page 45) ml kale chips (see page 45)
1. Cook pasta as directed. Drain and save some pasta water (about a cup). 2. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Bleed garlic and add sliced sausage. Stir often until sausage is cooked through. 3. Add pasta and stir until the oil evenly coats it. Add a bit of pasta water (about 1/4 cup). Keep stirring. Add the thyme leaves. 4. Next, add the roasted tomatoes and a handful of Parmesan. If the pasta seems a bit dry, pour in some pasta water (a little at a time). Keep stirring until a light creamy sheen covers the pasta. 5. Just before serving, add the kale chips. Choose the crispiest ones so you can add a bit of texture. Don’t overstir. Plate and add a bit of Parmesan to finish it off. MATCH: A light Gamay will add another level to the tomatoes and kale. ×
BON VIVANT BY PETER ROCKWELL
ILLUSTRATION: MATT DALEY/SHINYPLIERS.COM
What’s rum made from, and why is it so popular with pirates? Let’s start with the second part of your question. Pirates like to tie one on. Haven’t you seen all those Johnny Depp movies? I’d be doing some heavy elbow-bending too if I spent my days pillaging the high seas with only a parrot and a band of cutthroats for company. Why rum, you ask? Well, it’s always good advice to learn to love what’s within easy reach, and your average “yo-ho-ho” type of pirates set up shop in rum’s hometown — which is, you guessed it, the Caribbean. Rum was the perfect tipple for pirates. It was tasty, mixed well with just about everything, was easy to mass produce and made for some sweet ballast when loaded into the bowels of an old wooden ship. What more could you ask from a signature drink? What it’s made from isn’t that silly a question. Since rum is “produced” all over the world, including Canada, I’m betting many of you think it’s made with something harvested in our own backyard. Nope. The base of rum is sugarcane; with the vast majority, the offspring of the distillation of its most popular byproduct, molasses. Since sugarcane isn’t something Canada is good at growing, our rums are made from imported components. While historians of drink feel that the fermentation of sugarcane juice was conceived in Asia, what we now know of as rum gave birth to its first hangovers in the early 1600s. Barbados has staked claim to being the first to have distilled cane sugar, but so has just about every other piece of geography in the Caribbean. Pirates aside, what really brought rum into the mainstream was the British Navy sticking its nose into Jamaica’s business in 1655, gaining control over an unlimited supply of rum that encouraged it to replace French brandy as its tonic for the troops.
× Ask your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Is South Africa considered a New World or an Old World wine-producing country?
It all depends on what side of 1994 you decide to wet your whistle. With a winemaking history that dates back over 350 years, the suggestion that South Africa is a wine-world newbie would seem a bit far-fetched. Back in the day, its signature dessert wine, Constantia, was the party nectar of the kings and queens of Europe. Many years later, South Africa’s fortified wines became the toast of the North American bridge party set (that included my parents). Then came the ‘80s anti-apartheid boycott, when Canadian monopolies said they weren’t going to play Sun City and stopped buying South African wines for over a decade. By the time the boycotting ended in ‘94, and Afrikaans winemakers were able to export to Canada again, the wine market had changed more than the political sensibility in Cape Town. The New World wine revolution was well underway, with Australia and South America fighting California for who was going to be the true toast of the town. Being gone for so long meant that no one in Canada had an inkling what South African wines were about, so for many consumers they were as “new” as all of the other upstarts putting their fruit forward in a fight with Old World Europe’s stodgy output. The fun part is that South African wines have a vine in both worlds. While they’ve looked to the newer part for marketing inspiration (and in many cases, for flavour profile modifications), their wines still have a firm grip on their history that has always emulated the older side. So it doesn’t matter if you prefer old-school South Africa’s classic Chenin Blanc and Pinotage or its new-school take on Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc; its wines drink from both sides of the glass. × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 21
by Rick VanSickle
SERIOUSLY?? It’s a smokin’ hot mid-Au-
gust day poolside in St Catharines. The ciders are sliding down mighty fine right now. The glow of a fairly decent tan (OK, patchy sunburn) is only interrupted by a cool dip in the water as the Bose wireless speaker, set to Songza’s “It’s Saturday, play music for a lazy summer’s day by the pool, scruffy dive bar rock”, plays gently in the background. Life could not be any sweeter. Then … the speaker chirps — damn — incoming email: From: Aldo Parise, email@example.com To: Me Hi Rick. We’re booking for December now (deadline Sept 7th). I’m open to any ideas. I would like to do something on gifting wine and booze but not the ordinary boring piece where we tell them tips and tricks. Let me know if you have any ideas? This is a big problem. The last thing on my mind is Christmas. Geez, even Costco doesn’t have its holiday stuff out yet, Aldo. I’m here, by the pool, lost in tranquillity, with a bit of buzz. All I can think of are ice-cold bottles of Riesling, Oast House Konichiwa Peaches craft beer in growlers, that case of Basque country natural cider chilling in the fridge and when to fire up the barbecue. I’m not at White Christmas yet. But, hell, it’s Aldo, my boss here at Quench, and he’s nothing if not tenacious. To: Aldo From: Me Sure, I’ll get right on that.
If I have learned anything these many years of servitude to the wine typist world, it is this: You will likely fail with whatever wine you choose to bestow upon whomever is receiving it. And when you fail at wine giving, that tired old adage of “it’s the thought that counts,” just doesn’t count. That’s a fact. It is never the thought that counts when giving wine as a gift. It is the wine that counts, pure and simple. You can lessen your chances at failure, you can up your game with fancy Yuletide packaging, but you will never fully succeed 100 percent of the time. Understand that and we can move on. Why is it so difficult to find the perfect bottle of wine for someone at Christmas (or any other time of the year, for that matter)? Well, let’s start with this juicy little factoid: Over 36 billion bottles of wine — from 10,000 varieties of grapes — are made and sold around the world each and every year. You are trying to find just one in that vast sea of fermented grape juice that will somehow be the ONE. I can tell you, it’s easier to find the perfect partner to share the rest of your life with than the perfect bottle of wine that will be gone in an hour (much like my first wife). That’s fact #2. But DO NOT panic. At the risk of sounding like that “ShamWow Guy,” I know the secret to wine gift giving and I am going to share it with you. It is this: Know the person getting the wine, not the wine. Throw out everything you know or think you know about the wines you love and get inside the recipient’s head. Once you open that vault, you will likely never fail again.
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A quick story … For a school reunion this past August in the Yukon, I conducted a wine tasting in which 18 people brought a bottle of their favourite vino from wherever they were coming from. We tasted each wine with the group, and whoever brought the wine, discussed why they liked it. Many of the wines did not surprise me: J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon, Seven Deadly Zins, The Stump Jump Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre, Meiomi Pinot Noir and even Black Cellar Blend 19 Shiraz/Cabernet (an international/Canadian blend made by Andrew Peller). These are popular wines, loved by millions, and consumed by the boatload. They cater to a wide swath of consumers’ palates and each person who stood up to talk about their wine did so with passion and conviction. I cannot argue against that, but I offered my opinion anyway. If I was giving a gift to the person who brought the J. Lohr Cab, for example, I would stick with California Cabernets, not look to Bordeaux or Australia because Cali red is what they like over everything else. Same with the Meiomi, a friendly, easy-going Pinot loved by millions. Why buy them a fine Burgundy? It makes no sense and it would likely not impress them one bit, all that funk, earth and minerality (and the price!). The second batch of wine was a bit more discerning, more personal: Quinta Ferreira Chardonnay (Okanagan), Northern Lights Cassis Noir Blue (blackcurrant/blueberry wine from Prince George), See Ya Later Ranch Meritage (Okanagan) and Nk’Mip Cellars Talon (Okanagan). Those who took the time to source these wines have a strong connection to local
wines, they searched hard for the style they wanted to share and expressed that with interesting stories of going from winery to winery to discover the wine that floats their boat. They were thoughtful choices, a reflection of what they love and partially driven by their experience of finding it. That they were now drinking them with friends in the wilds of the Yukon surrounded by majestic mountains and shining emerald lakes will only solidify those wines in their memory banks for years to come. One wine that struck me was the Gold Hill Rosé 2013 from the Okanagan Valley, brought to the Yukon by Rob Purgavie, a schoolteacher from Duncan, BC. Not because I loved it but because it was so roundly applauded by the tasters. This was the darkest, boldest and most un-rosé-like rosé I’ve ever tasted. It was chewy (!), robust, high in alcohol, and exploding with so many flavours that if I had tasted it blind I would have guessed maybe it was a full-on Syrah from Australia, but certainly not rosé.
you will understand the essence of Lafite and why people who can afford it would do anything to get their hands on a bottle. Despite all the mystique and romance of Lafite, it is truly a thrilling wine and I brought a bottle of it to the Yukon, likely the first bottle of Lafite ever consumed in the territory’s vast wilderness.
but … don’t you see the beauty and gracefulness in the evolution of the wine? A living, breathing thing that can transform into this grand old dame who can still impress with one sniff, one sip … don’t you see it? Nope. It was head-scratching time for me; a reality check, a very important life lesson.
It was old, a bit tired in fact, but had those mushroom-y, graphite, earthyfruity notes on the nose that led to a complex palate, now totally integrated, with pretty red fruits, bramble and depth through a silky finish. It was down, but it was not out. At least my mind was blown. But I didn’t hear applause like there were for the rosé. There was just stunned silence, like “what the hell is this?,” until someone finally asked what a bottle of that would cost. Well, if you can find one at auction, it goes under the hammer anywhere from $600 to nearly $1,000 a bottle, according to wine-searcher.com, I said. More silence. And puzzled, icy stares. Lee Mennell, a former teacher of mine, an artist and full-time Yukoner living the life in Carcross with his wife and family, finally spoke. “I don’t really like it. It tastes old.” It was like a dagger through the heart. Old? Of course, it’s old. It’s from 1987. It’s Bordeaux, it’s supposed to be old. But,
Know the recipient, not the wine, and all will be right with the world. I had one more trick up my sleeve, a bottle of Rennie Winery “G” 2011, a super-appassimento style red wine from Niagara that is a bruiser of wine, chock full of fruit, alcohol and tannins with a finish that never quits. With this crowd, a microcosm for winelovers everywhere, it was an unmitigated success, a glorious and jovial wine that appealed to the masses. It was redemption time. I cranked up the music. Let the party begin! When it was all said and done, I took my under-appreciated bottle of Lafite and headed off into the night and drank its chunky remains in the confines of my wilderness accommodations alone but happy. I didn’t even let the plastic cup bother me one bit. It was somewhat of an ignoble end to a glorious bottle of wine. Fact #3: There will be no Bordeaux for any of you this Christmas. Of that you can be certain. Now, back to tanning. ×
ROB SPOKE FOR A LONG TIME about
how this wine grabbed his full attention and he could barely contain his excitement when introducing it. The oohs and ahs from the tasters, and wild applause, taught me a lesson that can be applied to any gift-giving advice: Get in the recipient’s head. If he/she likes this style of rosé, which without a doubt was a crowd-pleaser, whatever you do, don’t look to the south of France for one of those subtle, pale, lightly flavoured, low-alcohol rosés … that’s just foolish and it won’t impress anyone at this tasting. Then it was my turn. I was ready to rock the house with a little treasure I wanted to share with the group. I had kept it under wraps until nearly the very end and I was about to BLOW SOME MINDS (well, that was the plan). First pouring the wine into 18 glasses, I then introduced this secret weapon: a “First Growth” Bordeaux, Château Lafite Rothschild 1987. It is the most famous château in the world, Benjamin Franklin’s go-to wine, the most collected wine on the planet and the one most copied for fraudulent gain. People have gone to jail because of this wine! Just read the The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine by Benjamin Wallace, and
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GIFTING IS THE HARDEST THING by Silvana Lau
It wasn’t that long ago that we were told, by those who were supposed to know, that the Brave New World of technology would bring substantial benefits to the human race. The paperless office! Unprecedented leisure time, as otherwise time consuming and unpleasant tasks would be carried out by machines! All of us would be living happy, healthy, stress-free lives! Flying cars! Jet packs! Boy, did that vision ever go south. Offices are drowning in email printouts. We are being stressed out as never before as we try to maintain/fix/placate the very machines that were supposed to help us take a load off. It could drive you to drink. But don’t even expect that simple pleasure to be gadget-free, not that this is necessarily a bad thing. Some of these gizmos can be useful. Others are rather novel and fun. A few are just bizarre. Let’s start from the start and “gadget” our way through a bottle (or two) of wine. Then maybe finish off with a wee nip of something stronger. First things first: you need to get the wine to the party intact (assuming you’re not hosting it). If your prized bottle has to travel any distance, the unique VinniBag is a pretty cool option. Essentially, you put the bottle in the bag and inflate it with a few puffs of air. The internal chambers mould to the bottle, protecting it with a liquid-tight air cushion. Perhaps not really necessary if the party is next door, but if you’re travelling any distance — maybe from the overseas winery where you found the wine — this contraption could be a lifesaver for your bottle. Deflated, it folds or rolls up for easy storage and inflated, it can also act as a lumbar support or headrest, which is kinda neat. Having got the bottle to its destination, a degree of chilling will be in order whether the wine is white or red. With the kind of weather we’ve been having, simply putting the bottles outside for a few minutes should do it (keep an eye on ’em, though, if your neighbours are like ours). In warmer temps, you’ll need something a bit more sophisticated. 24 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
The standard ice bucket is probably as effective as anything. Be sure to use an ice/water mixture rather than just trying to stuff bottles into a pile of loose ice. These can be as basic as an aluminum wash tub or as fancy as one of those silver-plated Champagne buckets. Of course, most of us have a refrigerator. Problem it is that it might not be as close to “party central” as you’d like it to be. Also, it tends to take a while for a bottle to become properly chilled. Of course, you can use the freezer to speed things up, though I’m sure you’re all familiar with the consequences of putting wine or beer in the freezer and forgetting about it. Gives the term “Icewine” new meaning. There are also high-tech options that might work better for you, including a range of electric wine chillers similar to those made by companies like Waring, Maytag and Koolatron. Having got your wine to the ideal temperature, you need to actually get it out of the bottle if you intend to enjoy it. The continuing proliferation of screw caps has made this a pretty simple procedure. But corks aren’t going away anytime soon, so a decent corkscrew is a must-have. I’ve found that corkscrews come in basically two flavours: useful and junk. Most flimsy plastic ones fall into the latter category (the exception being some of the ones made by Screwpull). The Ah-so wine opener, with two prongs that slide down the side of the cork to remove it with out actually puncturing the cork can be hit or miss (and if you miss, you could end up with a prong though your hand). The ones consisting of a needle that pierces the cork, through which air (or for those who really like to live
E G AERVANA
on the edge, compressed gas) is pumped to force out the cork via pressure are probably best left alone. Something about a sharp metal needle, the strength needed to push it through a cork and the introduction of pressure into the bottle, strikes us as being a tad risky — especially if this isn’t your first sip of the evening. We’ve also found that cork pullers with a lot of moving parts (especially the ones requiring electricity) inevitably break down. Nah, the simplest is still the best ... the trusty “waiter” corkscrew. There are plenty of them out there, but try to find one that’s a) metal b) has a Teflon-coated “worm” and c) is of the “dual lever” variety. They’re not that expensive, and so are easy to replace when you lose them (and you inevitably will). Okay, wine is the right temperature, cork has been removed. The next question: to breathe or not to breathe? (We’re talking the wine. You and your guests hopefully will.) This is a topic of some fairly intense (mostly red wine) consternation. The pro-breathe contingent maintains that aeration is needed to properly “unlock” the wine’s aromas and potentially soften the palate (in a sense, you are giving your wine an accelerated aging treatment). The anti-breathers figure the wine’s going to open up in the glass, so why bother with the extra fuss? We’ll side with both depending on the wine. Old wines that are at their peak or starting to decline won’t benefit much from extended aeration. In fact, you could be sending it rather quickly to the Great Cellar In The Sky. So don’t decant old wines. Pour them carefully after you’ve had the bottle standing upright overnight to get any sediment to the bottom of the bottle.
If you’ve got a wine that’s young and rather tannic or rough, aerating/decanting might make it a bit more palatable. Decanters are generally designed to aerate, but some have a bit of an edge when it comes to this. The Final Touch Conundrum Aerator Decanter is uniquely shaped with internal “wings” that help aerate the wine as it is poured in and poured out. The decanter is visually striking, and if you get the Conundrum Aerator Decanter Set, you’ll also get four glasses that sport a complementary shape scheme. However, there may be times when you want to give your wine the benefit of aeration, but you don’t want to decant a full bottle. In this case, something like the Aervana Wine Aerator might be what you’re after. This is a battery-powered gizmo that seals over the top of an open bottle, then dispenses and aerates with a simple push of a button. It’s clean, quiet and easy to use and maintain. It’s also very well constructed, and its brushed stainless steel housing gives it a look that’s both retro and modern. Plus, it’s sort of fun to be able to just press a button and fill a glass with aerated wine. Another option allows for aeration without decanting, attaching anything to the bottle or requiring any type of power. To operate the sleek-looking Vinturi wine aerator, simply hold it over your glass and pour the wine through. Holes in the side of the device allow it to draw in air and mix it with the wine as it flows into your glass. The bonus here is that you can aerate to the extent that the wine needs it. For a young, tannic wine, aerate the entire pour. For older and/or more delicate wines, aerate a part of the pour. The Vinturi comes in four styles: red wine, white wine, spirits and a reserve edition moulded from clear acrylic. DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 25
Our tests found that aeration devices vary in effectiveness depending on the wine. Young, rustic, Old World wines that have naturally higher tannin and acidity can soften up a bit with decanting/aeration, while plusher, New World wines benefit less. Of course, with many modern wines these days, preserving the fresh, fruity qualities means not exposing them to air at all if it can be helped. The bag-in-box format is perfect for dispensing wines, while at the same time ensuring each glass is as fresh as the first. It’s also a very planet-friendly alternative to glass bottles. The down side of the BIB container is that you have to haul the box to the end of the table to get the wine into your glass, since the spigot is usually close to the bottom of the box. The other problem is, well, it’s a cardboard box (and it probably doesn’t exactly complement your sleek, stainless steel appliances). The Boxxle Premium Bag-in-Box Wine Dispenser offers a practical and elegant solution. Just remove the bag from the box and put it in the sleek, black and stainless steel Boxxle. The spigot clips into the top of the unit. Close the lid and depress the spigot to dispense the wine. A mechanism in the unit lifts the bag from the bottom, creating the pressure required to fill the glass and ensure that practically no wine is left behind in the bag. Like the Aervana Wine Aerator described above, this accessory would not only be a neat addition to the home, it would also work out well for restaurants that regularly serve wines by the glass. It works best with red wines, as there’s no built-in chilling mechanism — something the Boxxle people might want to consider for future editions. In any case, once you’ve decanted/aerated/chosen to do neither, you still have to pour the wine into something (unless you typically pour it directly into you mouth). Glassware would be (and has been many times) a story unto itself. Suffice to say that when it comes to wine glasses, go for larger rather than smaller (so you have adequate “swirl space”), and look for a thin, unadorned bowl. Having treated your wines — and those helping you enjoy them — with the utmost care, it might be time to sit back and get contemplative over an after-dinner spirit. If you’re mixing drinks for guests, you might want to have some tools on hand to ensure your ingredient proportions are correct. 26 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
Measuring jiggers are pretty much a dime a dozen. Why not splash things up, particularly during the festive season, with something a little more sophisticated than the typical glass shot glasses you pick up in airport souvenir shops. Final Touch has a new set of Mixed Metal Double Jiggers finished in copper, brass and stainless steel that’ll bring some added class to your barware collection. We found the copper one to be particularly eye-catching. Also from Final Touch is a unique way of enjoying your drink on the rocks ... or, more precisely, on one rock. The On The Rock Glass is a rounded tumbler with a sharp-ish punt in the bottom. The accompanying silicone Ice Ball mould is filled with water and frozen. You then pop out the sphere of ice and add it to the
ON THE ROCKS GLASS glass, along with your favourite spirit. The shape of the glass and the punt allow the ball of ice to easily roll around the edge of the glass, evenly chilling the spirit with a relaxing twist of the wrist. Because the ice isn’t fully immersed in the liquid, we found it tends to last longer than conventional ice cubes, and the diluting effect isn’t as rapid. While you may, at times, feel enslaved rather than saved by technology, some of the gizmos and gadgets associated with the enjoyment of wine and spirits can make the holiday season — and life in general — a bit more relaxing. Whether you treat yourself or buy them for fellow oenophiles, the accessories mentioned here will make festive tippling that much more enjoyable.×
ANTIQUES by Michael Pinkus
So there I am, standing outside of Cava Restaurant on Yonge Street in Toronto, about to partake in my very first, as it has been dubbed, “Antique Europe” tasting. I hear you asking, “What in the world is Antique Europe?” The better question is, “Where in the world is Antique Europe?” We all know that Europe is supposed to be the Old World when it comes to wine speak and everything else is New World; but there are two sub-categories: Israel, Lebanon and their ilk are “the biblical world” (am I joking or serious? You decide). The other is Eastern Europe: Hungary, Bulgaria, Moldova, Macedonia … anywhere east of the border created by Germany/Austria and Italy. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what they now refer to as Antique Europe, which should get you asking, “where does Greece fit in?”
Now, I’ll hazard a guess that you have probably had a wine from Antique Europe before, at least once in your life; most likely it was from Hungary, was called Tokaji Aszu and had a variant of three to six puttonyos (which gauges the sweetness level in the wine). If you’re very daring, you’ve probably had a wine like Askaneli Brothers Kindzmarauli Semi Sweet Red, which is a sweet table wine from Georgia (plenty of other Eastern European countries make a similar style); it lies somewhere between Port and Sacrimental wine without the finesse, great as Sangria-base. The good news is there’s a whole new Europe opening up, which means a whole new world of Antique European wines and grape variety names to learn. They may not all be gems at the moment; you’ll have to weed your way through to find the ones you are going to like (think of them as you
would Pinot Noir — you have to taste a lot before you find a really great one), but they are making headway and soon you’ll be seeing these wines hitting your table and being offered in restaurants. The public is always thirsty for something new and different, and Antique Europe surely can deliver that. Let’s take a look at what you might be seeing and the grapes that make them.
István and Edit Bai at the Carpinus winery in Hungary
DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 27
HORSE VALLEY SINGLE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2013, BULGARIA ($17) Biblia Chora’s Vangelis Gerovassiliou and Vassilis Tsaktsarlis
You’ll find the staples like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and other grapes you’re sure to recognize, but where else but in Eastern Europe are you going to find Sarba (a Romanian variety that makes white wines and is a crossed-variety whose parents are Riesling and another local grape); Grasa (aka: Grasa de Cotnari, another Romanian variety that has been in production in the Cotnari region since about 1457); Tamaioasa Romaneasca (crossed with Riesling, it helped to create Sarba. It is a grape used in the making of sweet and semi-sweet wines and in Moldova, it is known as Busuioaca alba); Feteasca Neagra (a red grape grown in Romania, Moldova and Moldavia, it is considered to be a pre-phylloxera variety that has survived) and Rara Neagra (aka: Babeasca Neagra and Sereksia, another red variety — the second most planted in Romania and is also found in southern Moldova and New York State)? Those are just a handful of the grapes waiting to be discovered, and there are plenty more that have names that are just as hard to remember and pronounce.
The question everyone will be asking is, “Are these regions and wines ready for the world stage?” The easy answer is “not quite yet,” not the way New Zealand did with Sauvignon Blanc or Argentina pulled off with Malbec. I can’t see the world clamouring for a glass of Grasa at this time, but Antique Europe can give you the uniqueness and the difference you are craving as well as a pure sense of discovery. Hungarian born all-star sommelier Zoltan Szabo puts it quite succinctly: “Eastern and Central Europe have a long history and deep-rooted winemaking traditions. Hundreds of indigenous grape varieties are grown and cultivated, and the last couple of decades have seen a renaissance throughout the wine industry: western investors and partners realizing the suitability for premium, quality winemaking in many of these regions. European Union funding has been also injected to further support and stimulate oenology and viticulture, [along with] the building of modern vinification facilities and the introduction of state-ofthe-art technology. I urge you to have an open mind, and taste and share these wines … you can thank me later.”
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Most people run screaming from the table when they see their regular grape variety done in foreign soils, but don’t be a xenophobe; this Chardonnay delivers on so many really good levels.
CHATEAU PURCARI CHARDONNAY DE PURCARI 2013, MOLDOVA ($17) This 100% Chardonnay is quite a fruity number with apple, touches of lemon and lime plus its got well-balanced acidity on the finish.
CHATEAU PURCARI RARA NEAGRA DE PURCARI 2013, MOLDOVA ($20) Quite a complex wine made from this late-ripening grape: black cherry, vanilla dried herbs and spices on the nose lead to cassis, hints of smoke and a blueberry finish.
COTNARI TAMAIOASA ROMANEASCA 2012, ROMANIA ($14) Here you’ll find a wine heavy on floral with slightly sweet notes of peach and honey flavours, all making for a pleasant patio sipper.
GITANA WINERY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009, MOLDOVA ($12) This is my first Cab from this side of the world, so not sure what I expected; this one is very herbal, with smoked-raspberry, sweet cherry along with anise on the finish.
Marton Ruppert and Robert Gilvesy
GILVESY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013, HUNGARY ($19)
PUKLUS PINCEZET TOKAJI ASZU 3 PUTTONYOS 2010, HUNGARY ($21)
Outstanding Savvy B with great minerality and citrus, namely lemon/lime pith … but the stony-minerality here is the real showstopper; it’ll have you craving a second and maybe even a third glass.
This Hungarian sweetie is a perceived staple from this country and a true delight for the palate: violets, honeyed and poached pears; a great end to any meal.
BULGARIANA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011, BULGARIA ($14) Here we have a Bulgarian Cab that, in truth, possesses many of the same characteristics as its Moldovan counterpart: smooth, easy drinking with a little anise/ liquorice and black cherry.
BUDUREASCA FETEASCA REGALA 2014, ROMANIA ($13) Don’t be fooled by the “demi-sec” moniker on the label, this one comes off drier than one would expect, but with lovely white fruit: peach, pear, apple, with floral overtones and a juicy, vibrant finish.
J+J KEKFRANKOS 2011, HUNGARY ($30) Cedar, redcurrants and gentle red fruit with a wee bit of cranberry and smoke; good acidity and the right amount of tannins, this one could easily be chilled and enjoyed any time within the next 3 to 4 years.
ORBELUS HRUMKI 2012, BULGARIA ($12) Made from a blend of Early Melnik, Mourvèdre and Marselan: black cherry, blueberry, supple and easy drinking with a touch of white smoke and plum on the finish.
CARPINUS DRY FURMINT 2013, HUNGARY ($16) Emphasis here is on fresh fruit and balanced acidity: pear and apricot dominate, which makes it much more exotic and exciting than most of the bone-dry Furmints I’ve tried in the past.
BIBLIA CHORA KTIMA OVILOS 2013, GREECE ($40) Pink grapefruit, wild flower, honey and citrus zest can all be found in this light easy-drinking white.
BIBLIA CHORA KTIMA BIBLINOS OENOS 2010, GREECE ($46) The name translates to “Biblical wine”; Greece has 300 indigenous varietals and this grape has itself just recently been rediscovered, as is the case with so many these days. DNA testing has shown that the grape in this wine has no correlation to any other grape, so it is indeed its own varietal; it is ‘the grape with no name’ (aka the Clint Eastwood of Greek grapes). But that does not mean it is without personality: cherry, smoky, blackberry, pepper, pencil shavings, herbs like oregano; it is a true pleasure to drink and a real gem no matter what you call it. ×
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ISLAY by Sarah Parniak
A craggy, wind-lashed rock in the inner Hebrides off Scotland’s west coast, this remote spot is home to about 3,200 people, thousands more sheep and eight distilleries. There’s a reason this compact land mass is known as Whisky Island.
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Some claim that distillation knowledge came to the island via Irish holy men in the 14th century, but the drunken monks may be more legend than reality; just add whisky and even the brashest facts blur. Either way, this austere and alluring 600-square-kilometre isle lays claim to one of the oldest distilling heritages in the world’s most famous whisky nation.
Dr Bill Lumsden, Head of Distilling & Whisky Creation at Ardbeg and Glenmorangie
If you’ve ever tasted an Islay malt before, bonfire, bacon and sea spray probably come to mind. Most wouldn’t stump even a casual whisky drinker in a blind tasting. Though not all Islay whiskies are peated, the typical style remains smoky, curiously medicinal and unapologetically distinctive. The use of peat (an ancient, heterogeneous mishmash of decayed vegetation, which on Islay is composed mostly of lichen, moss and heather) to dry malted barley has become an emblem of the isle. The exposed terrain isn’t exactly forest friendly, so abundant peat was once the primary fuel source. These whiskies are true products of their environment, shaped by that windy bully, the Atlantic; by slow flames smouldering across a millennia’s worth of compound vegetation; by fresh but deeply earthy water drawn from hillside streams. Whiskies this primal can only inspire visceral reactions, and wild island whisky comes by its reputation honestly. The Excise Act of 1644 dictated the taxation of all Scottish whisky, but no excisemen dared sojourn to Islay until the last legs of the 18th century. They were terrified of the Islanders’ fierce, unwieldy reputation, and no amount of money was worth stoking the wrath of the Hebrideans. Visit today and you’ll find the people charming and hospitable (though the weather not so much), and the whisky industry in flux. The mounting global popularity of all styles has ramped up serious competition. Though Scotch remains one of the best-selling spirits categories, survival is paramount — which is not news to island people. Islay is steeped in tradition, but not mired. Its whisky makers are discovering innovative ways to embrace the times while staying true to origin. No single malt on Islay is as unabashedly individual — eccentric, even — as Bruichladdich. Self-proclaimed Progressive Hebridean Distillers (and marketed as such), Bruichladdich’s rebellious energy and pride in provenance taps the spirit of the remote isle, translating in audacious and unconventional whiskies. Jim McEwan, Bruichladdich’s recently retired master distiller, started in the industry as a cooper at Bowmore over 50 years ago. He established a name for Bruichladdich with his original and hyper-experimental approach to whisky-making. DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 31
McEwan can’t say exactly how many expressions he created during his 14-year tenure at Bruichladdich, but he estimates over 100. This trademark diversity has been a selling point and also a point of criticism. Yet McEwan’s open-mindedness helped keep the distillery afloat; in 2010, Bruichladdich released The Botanist, the first Islay gin, flavoured with locally foraged botanicals, which opened a shallow purse to help weather the wait intrinsic to whisky (three years minimum by Scottish law). Bruichladdich’s commitment is to crafting unusual liquids — which, when you really think about it, makes it quintessentially Islay. JUST A FEW MILES from Bruichlad-
John Campbell, Laphroaig’s Distillery Manager
“We love innovation and without it you never move forward,” he says. Yet he describes his as “the most traditional distillery in Scotland,” which seems like a massive conundrum until you pay Bruichladdich a visit. When it first opened back in 1881, the distillery was cutting edge. When it reopened independently in 2001, it operated with a Frankenstein’s monster of near-ancient and scavenged machinery, cobbled together to meet McEwan’s needs. The distillery and warehouses are slowly being updated and expanded since Rémy-Cointreau acquired the company three years ago, but things are still done more or less the old-fashioned way here; the machinery isn’t digitized and so production depends on the skills of the distillery team. From this manual, old-school approach flow some of the most idiosyncratic spirits in Scotland. The Octomore series boasts the world’s most heavily peated whiskies; Classic Bruichladdich isn’t peated at all. Recently released Octomore by Bruichladdich is made from barley harvested on a single Islay farm (the site of a small, long-defunct distillery) for which the whisky is named. Ultra luxurious Black Art, aged with an undisclosed multi-cask process, is swathed in deliberate mystery. There are expressions made with Islay barley (which is rare, almost all barley destined to become whisky is grown on the mainland), organic Scottish barley and Bere, an ancient grain first planted by Vikings in the ninth century. Whiskies are aged in customary ex-bourbon and sherry-seasoned oak but also in port and calvados casks and in barrels from serious first growth Châteaux. 32 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
dich is Kilchoman, Islay’s sole independent distiller and also one of Scotland’s smallest. Built on a wee farm called Rockside, Kilchoman fired up its stills in 2005 to become the first distillery to open on Islay in 124 years. Kilchoman’s infancy compared to centuries-old giants like Bowmore, Ardbeg and Laphroaig belies its traditionalism. An aspiring grassroots barley-to-bottle operation, Kilchoman grows, harvests and malts a portion of its own Rockside barley before distilling and aging it into whisky. The original plan was to be entirely self-sustaining, but business got in the way; still, they bottle a 100 percent Islay whisky made completely on their farm. Kilchoman runs at capacity, producing about 150,000 litres of spirit a year from one wash still and a single spirit still. Kilchoman may be new, but its philosophy and small scale locally-focused production is not. In contrast, even Islay’s most established distilleries have freshened their image to keep up with the industry’s rapid evolution. Laphroaig, one of Islay’s oldest and most fabled distilleries, has contemporized its facilities and lineup over the past two decades. But with a 200-year-old legacy to guard, the distillery faces far more limitations than renegade Bruichladdich or newly-hatched Kilchoman. “Laphroaig is generally known for being a traditional brand,” says John Campbell, Distillery Manager at Laphroaig. “It has such a long history of being a single malt and so expectations are very formed about it.” There’s a certain uniqueness in Laphroaig’s traditionalism. It’s the last remaining Scottish distillery to hand harvest a portion of their peat from privately owned bogs and one of three distilleries on Islay (and six in Scotland) to conduct traditional floor maltings, though the majority of their malt, like all of the island’s distilleries, is sourced from Port Ellen Maltings. Given its proximity to the Atlantic, its heady peat fields and bog-washed water source, Laphroaig is as close as it gets to being a terroir-driven spirit. “In Laphroaig, the earthy, medicinal, sea-
weedy and salty aromas are at the forefront,” Campbell says. “For us, the barrel plays a smaller role, we are all about the distillery and local flavours in the liquid.” Though Campbell acknowledges that the Scotch whisky industry is one in flux, he notes that Laphroaig’s best approach is to innovate through their past. Newer expressions like Quarter Cask and the Select series, which explore aging in barrels of various sizes and styles, “link to our history to innovate for today,” he explains. Most importantly, these contemporary bottlings don’t deviate from Laphroaig’s pronounced house style. Since Laphroaig produces the world’s best selling Islay single malt (their flagship 10 year old), catering to their many fans is crucial. For the price of a dram, anyone can become a Friend of Laphroaig and secure a lifetime lease on one square foot of distillery-owned land. When Laphroaig opened to the public 20 years ago, they set an example for strong marketing and tourism amongst Islay distillers. Last year, they beat out the country’s famous broody castles to win best visitor attraction in Scotland and expect to welcome 25,000 whisky lovers in 2016. Down the puddle-pocked road from Laphroaig is Ardbeg, another old distillery that knows how to please the people by balancing a weighty legacy with progressive production and smart, inclusive marketing. The original Ardbeg was mothballed in the early 1980s, when the Scotch whisky industry took a flaming nosedive. Plucked from the ashes by Glenmorangie 15 years later, the old brand’s historically infamous inconsistencies became a powerful selling point.
Aging whisky takes time that consumer thirsts are allowing for less and less; even the most traditional Scotch houses, not limited to Islay, are eschewing age statements to free up precious stocks for blending purposes. The assumed correlation between age and quality is slackening as a result, giving distillers more creative license. Ardbeg is a textbook example of just how successful non-age-statement whiskies can be. In 2000, the Ardbeg Committee was formed when the distillery asked their devoted fan base to consult on a lineup of special whiskies. Rare and limited releases like Uigedail (Jim Murray’s 2009 World Whisky of the Year), heavily peated Supernova and Alligator (aged in heavily charred American oak) that all claim no age, have achieved cult status. Ardbeg also holds the trump card of experimental whisky. In 2011, they sent a sample into space in order to investigate the effects of micro-gravity on flavour. Fans are so devoted that Ardbeg Day is celebrated at Ardbeg Embassies dotted across the globe. Despite all of the intense fanaticism surrounding their rare bottlings, the distillery’s widely available 10-year-old core expression accounts for the vast majority of the brand’s sales. Tradition and innovation have become collaborative energies within the distilleries of the Whisky Isle. New and old are not competing impulses, rather equal influences carving out the region’s future legacy. While adapting to shifting markets is necessary for the future, individuality, the bluntest hallmark of Islay’s whiskies, remains a constant. ×
Armagnac ~ From the Land of The Three Musketeers. Bold & Rich. Armagnac de Montal VSOP LCBO 618496
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ISLANDS IN THE STREAM by Tod Stewart Mention Scotland and the image of a Viking probably isn’t the first thing that pops into your head. A kilt, bagpipes, the Loch Ness Monster, a castle, a golf course, a bottle of whisky, a haggis. Sure, no problem. But a Viking? As it turns out, the Norse were active throughout the islands and western coast of Scotland — from the Shetlands to the Lowlands — from around 700 to 1200 CE. Contrary to popular myth, it seems the Vikings weren’t all barbarian savages intent solely on raping, pillaging and looting. They basically behaved like much of the “civil” world did when expanding their realm (i.e., “We invite you to accept us with open arms ... but we have no problem killing you if you don’t. Your choice.”). I would have been blissfully ignorant of Scotland’s Viking heritage had I not been introduced to Thor, Loki and Freya. Not the gods and goddess, but the single malt scotches crafted by Highland Park distillery. Highland Park is located on the Orkney Islands, an area with a strong Viking heritage. I’ll get back to the Valhalla Collection — and Highland Park in general — in a bit. The main reason I linked Vikings to Scottish islands to begin with was to segue into a chat about island whiskies. Not that there’s any record of Vikings actually making whisky, but, given the lack of any more interesting or creative introductions coming to me (and the fact that Highland Park was donning the horned headgear), it seemed the easiest way to get into the story. (BTW, the whole horned helmet thing was likely more colourful myth-making than actual fact.) Anyway, when the words “island” and “scotch” are uttered together, it’s typically in reference to the single malts from the Isle of Islay. While there can be no denying that the island cranks out some fine drams — from huge, peaty monsters to gentle, unpeated numbers — it’s not the only island producing distinctive whisky. Orkney, Skye, Mull, Jura, Arran and (this came as a mild surprise to me) Lewis, are all making spirits worthy of the aficionado’s attention. I chose, partially for brevity’s sake, to focus on two of my favourite distilleries — one the farthest north, the other the farthest south — and a third I didn’t even know existed. So don ye kilt (or arisaid, as the case may be), grab your Quaich, and let’s do some island hopping. 34 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
THE VIKING SPIRIT
Separated from the northern mainland tip of Scotland by the 10km-wide Pentland Firth lie the Orkney Islands. Geographically divided between the Northern Isles, Mainland and Southern Isles, the region is home to Scotland’s northernmost distillery: Highland Park. Since its founding in 1798, Highland Park has remained true to its “Five Keystones” (which you can read all about on the distillery website), one of which is a traditional malting floor where germinating barley is hand-turned while drying. Orkney itself has some unique characteristics that the Highland Park team leverage to imbue a unique personality into its whiskies. “Orkney is known for its year-round fair weather, which gives a very consistent atmosphere for aging our barrels year after year,” notes Nicolas Villalon, Brand Ambassador for Edrington (Highland Park’s parent company). “It contributes immensely to our balanced flavour profile. The use of only the best sherry casks in the industry also imparts our whiskies with rich flavours and complexity. Finally, our peat, which we source from Hobbister Hill (a land owned by Edrington), is unique in the sense that it has a higher-than-average organic content. This is how we achieve our unique smoky dimension.” Besides having eight “core expressions,” the distillery also boasts a wide range of special bottlings, including the aforementioned Valhalla Collection. Limited-ish releases, the Collection is/was populated by whisky versions of the four Norse deities Thor, Loki, Freya and Odin. “With the Valhalla Collection, our master blender, Max MacFarlane, was presented with a challenge: Translate the characteristics of various gods into whiskies,” Villalon explains. “To do so, Max dug into a selection of liquids that resulted from experiments he conducted over the years: different type of barrel, different peat, higher ABV, etc. and so was able to successfully complete the challenge! Thor is strong, yet gentle, kind and hits
like thunder. Loki is deceptive, sneaky and has the power of fire. Freya is loving, boasts the floral and fruity notes of spring, but also has the strength of the warrior goddess she is. As for Odin? He’s the oldest and holder of the ultimate wisdom.” An interesting concept, for sure, the Valhalla Collection proved to be a fairly controversial move on Highland Park’s part. However, most reviewers (including this one) agreed that they were generally superb malts (Freya, I’m in love!) in spite of what one thought about the packaging (or prices).
While I’d never claim to know everything about island malts, I at least thought I had a decent handle on which ones housed distilleries. So I was somewhat taken aback to hear of a distillery on the Isle of Lewis, the largest island in Scotland’s beautiful Outer Hebrides. Established in 2008, the Abhainn Dearg Distillery (pronounced Aveen Jarræk, or probably more easily, Red River) is the first distillery to be built in the Outer Hebrides since 1829. Built literally brick by brick by founder Mark (Marko) Tayburn, the distillery sources all the ingredients for its single malt whisky from the island itself. Even the design of the unique stills is based on the illicit ones that once dotted the island.
“Our barley is all now grown on the island, and the river isn’t peaty, it comes from the mountain streams into the sea,” notes Judy Macdonald who, though not based at the distillery, manages its website and assists with marketing. “We cut our own peat and malt our own barley using the peat smoke off the stoves to infuse the grain. Everything is done by hand, from cutting peat to bottling. We have installed a generator that runs off the river to reduce our carbon footprint, and hopefully it will soon have enough energy to run most of the site.” In the meantime, those hoping to sample Abhainn Dearg’s single malt will have to be patient. Though it did release a miniscule quantity of three-year-old (to commemorate the legal requirement that scotch whisky must spend a minimum three years in oak), its ten-year-old expression won’t be bottled until 2018. The distillery does, however, market a white spirit — The Spirit of Lewis — to keep the faithful warm while they wait it out.
ARRAN FOR A WEE DRAM
Sailing south, (as the Vikings would have while pillaging and plundering — or not — coastal and island villages) past the Isles of Skye (home of the Talisker Distillery), Mull (home of Tobermory Distillery), Jura (Isle of Jura Distillery) and Islay (plenty of distilleries), you’ll round the tip of Kintyre. As you head to shore, DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 35
James MacTaggart, master distiller at Arran
you’ll pass by the Isle of Arran, home to (wait for it ...) Isle of Arran Distillers, the southernmost island distillery and one of the few remaining independent distilleries in Scotland. Founded in 1994 (so still a relative pup by Scottish distilling standards), the first legal cask produced in over 160 years was opened by actor Ewan McGregor on the July 25, 1998. Since then, the distillery has released a plethora of expressions featuring different ages, cask finishes and commemorative associations. The whisky of Arran derives its unique character from a number of complementary factors, as Louisa Young, Senior Brand Manager for Isle of Arran Distilleries explains: “Where Arran is concerned, we believe that our location in the warm air of the Gulf Stream aids our steady and comparatively quick maturation. Also, the quality of our water, sourced from Loch na Davie, is unrivalled in Scotland and provides us with extremely clear and soft water for our process. Converse to the majority of malts from the islands, our production for our core expressions is from un-peated barley. We also believe in the virtues of very traditional methods of production; fermentation is in hand-crafted washbacks of Oregon pine, our traditional onion-shaped copper stills are run slowly to give us a pure spirit ready to get the most from maturing in the best quality casks in our warehouses on the island, local to the distillery. An important point to note is that all our casks mature at the distillery until it comes time to bottle them. This is extremely uncommon in the whisky industry nowadays. There is an argument that says that some influence can be imparted to the spirit through atmospheric conditions and location (for example a salty/maritime flavour in coastal whisky). Our master distiller James MacTaggart monitors the casks regularly to ensure they are maturing to his liking!” As alluded to earlier, Isle of Arran Distillers stands out due to its almost dizzying range of expressions, and its use of a wide variety of finishing casks (including the likes of Amarone, Sauternes and Port). I asked Young whether sourcing these had become a full-time job for distillery hands. 36 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
“Rather than a full-time job, the procuring of casks is more like a continuing process,” she confirmed. “Over our two decades in operation, we have formed strong relationships with producers of all kinds of drinks, from all over the world. Producers in the drinks industry have a strangely symbiotic relationship and will always help one another where they can. These relationships have granted us access to casks from some of the most prestigious producers in the world.” While purists might look suspiciously at cask finishes (“what are they trying to hide?”), Isle of Arran Distillers seem to have them down to an art. Which is no doubt a reflection of the distillery’s approach to whisky making in general. “We are not a distillery that can rely on a 200-year history for purposes of marketing,” Young concludes. “We simply move forward whilst concentrating on producing the best whisky possible. We honour tradition but don’t rely on it. We remember and respect the past without living in it.” So whether you’re feeling possessed by the Viking spirit, or are simply eager to try a dram or three from some distilleries that are less mainstream (and decidedly less mainland), the whiskies from Scotland’s “other” islands are definitely worth pillaging, conquering and enjoying. ×
HIGHLAND PARK VALHALLA COLLECTION “THOR” 16 YEAR OLD ($250/700 ML) The first of four unique whiskies released annually by Highland Park under the Valhalla Collection umbrella. Bottled at 52.1% and eye-catchingly packaged, Thor offers up a complex aromatic profile with cognac-like nuances buttressed by smoke, cocoa, ginger, toasted nuts, cigar box and a bare whiff of tar. With a dash of water to temper the heat, the whisky displays an intriguing mélange of brine, smoke, tobacco leaf, dried fruit and exotic spices. Like a hammer wrapped in velvet.
HIGHLAND PARK VALHALLA COLLECTION “FREYA” 15 YEAR OLD ($330/700 ML) With Freya, Highland Park celebrates the release of the third expression in its limited edition Valhalla Collection. Aged entirely in ex-bourbon casks (a first for Highland Park), this is an exceptional dram with an intense, exquisitely fresh nose of honeyed grain, apple, tropical fruit, brine, vanilla, citrus and bright floral nuances. Creamy and rich in the mouth with suggestions of candied citrus peel, ginger and a subtle, underlying smokiness. Though bottled at 51.2% ABV, the finish is both remarkably gentle, hauntingly long and complex; as beguiling and mysterious (and beautiful) as the Norse goddess herself.
HIGHLAND PARK DARK ORIGINS NAS ($100) An homage to Highland Park founder Magnus Eunson who, by day, held “legit” jobs, but by night worked as a illicit distiller and smuggler. Sherry-cask aged, it offers up notes of dark chocolate, cocoa powder and cherry compote, with some cinnamon, heather, banana, nutty sherry notes and polished wood taking up the slack. In the mouth, spicy raisin pie, traces of smoke, vanilla and toasted nuts dominate until they trail off into a spicy, caramel-tinged memory. Another typically first-rate expression from Highland Park.
HIGHLAND PARK 12 YEAR OLD ($75) Very fresh, slightly briny and barely smoky with buckwheat honey and toasted barley notes. A touch of orange zest, clove and caramel round out the complex and enticing aroma. Silky, creamy and
palate-coating, it brings together subtle honey with a touch of smoke; orange chocolate with a hint of vanilla. Finishes long with enticing marmalade and fruitcake notes.
ISLE OF ARRAN ROBERT BURNS SINGLE MALT NAS ($53/700 ML) Cocoa powder with lemon, spearmint, lavender, polished wood and cut grass nuances combining on the nose. Quite gentle in the mouth with a nice viscous mouthfeel. Flavours lean toward malty/toasty, but with distinctive citrus/herbal overtones showing through. A light grind of white pepper as it finishes.
ISLE OF ARRAN 10 YEAR OLD SINGLE MALT ($70/700 ML) Delicate and charming aromatically with distinct butterscotch, floral, citrus notes. This is a great example of why “island” does not necessarily mean smoky/peaty/medicinal. Certainly no detectable peat overtones here; rather, it’s delicate, poised and captivating without being aggressive/loud/showy. There are also hints of vanilla and icing sugar. At 46% ABV it seems neither hot nor overly spicy. Just silky, clean and nicely understated. A dram that keeps you coming back.
ISLE OF ARRAN 14 YEAR OLD SINGLE MALT ($99/700 ML) You do get a bit of the seaside coming through in this one. A subtle hint of ocean spray that reminds me, in a way, of Springbank - which lies just to the north on the Kintyre peninsula. There’s butterscotch, too, and a dash of anise, along with hard toffee and candied orange. Peppery, clean and distinctive - a great dram for those who prefer subtlety and elegance over brute power.
ISLE OF ARRAN AMARONE CASK SINGLE MALT ($90/700 ML) Rich, heady, autumn leaves and caramelized brown sugar on the nose with raisin pie and barley malt topping things off. There’s also that cocoa powder thing that seems to weave a thread through The Isle of Arran’s malts. The Amazon cask adds a layer of warm, extracted fruit, but the overall character of the distillery’s style remains intact. Bold yet balanced with an engaging vinous quality to the finish.
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OPENING by Lisa Hoekstra
THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS IS A TOUGH ONE. There are a million dif-
ferent facets that affect the success of the restaurant: cuisine, location, décor, service, management and the list goes on. When a restaurant succeeds to gain local, national and even international fame, the restaurateur is doing at least one thing right and has had quite a bit of luck. When that restaurateur then goes on to open several restaurants of equal or greater fame, you know that he or she is doing everything right. Canada has a few restaurant moguls that they can call their own. Vikram Vij, owner of the Vij’s line of restaurants, is one such restaurateur. He opened Vij’s Restaurant in 1994 with the hope of proving to Vancouver, and the world, that Indian cuisine is more than just spicy. “I wanted to open a restaurant because I’m passionate about Indian cuisine and I wanted to showcase my Indian food not just as an ethnic food but as a cuisine that’s very complex, as complex as Italian and French,” says Vij. “It’s very important for people to understand that our cuisines are not just cuisines, but people’s loves and passions.”
Vij’s Restaurant was his springboard for an empire called Vij’s Inspired Indian Cuisine that includes: Rangoli, a Vancouver eat-in restaurant and packaged, take-home curry market; Vij’s at Home, their Surrey-based production headquarters that sells their packaged curries; My Shanti, also in Surrey, a restaurant where “each dish has been chosen to represent the uniqueness of a particular [Indian] region’s cuisine”; Sutra, a store that sells “frozen and refrigerated ready-to-eat Indian dishes, freshly roasted spices as well as [their] cookbooks”; and Vij’s Railway Express, their food truck restaurant that was named enRoute Magazine’s People Choice’s Award winner in 2013. Phew, that was a mouthful! As you can see, Vij’s food empire consists of more than just your usual eateries. He has stores, restaurants, a food truck and cookbooks, all operating with the goal of showcasing Indian cuisine. “I believe Indian food is so vast, so broad and has so many different ways of doing things,” Vij mentions. “So the central theme of my restaurants is to bring awareness of Indian cuisine and the different spices and
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culture of India.” But each of his establishments are unique in and of themselves. “Every time I’ve opened up a new restaurant … The idea was not to do copies, but to do something new.” This focus on the cuisine has been the centre point for Vij, which means that the menu is at the forefront of his restaurants. “I create a menu I think will work really well for the demographics and the style of restaurant,” says Vij. “But some of the dishes we thought would do well were terrible and didn’t do well at all. And some of the dishes we thought were terrible, did well.” Flexibility, especially in the early stages of a restaurant, is very important. “If it doesn’t work properly then I change the menu items” says Vij. “First when we opened the restaurant … menu variations were huge. Menu changes were huge.” These changes catered to the palates of his audience, rather than financial success (or lack thereof ) of each dish. Discovering how dishes are being received by the guests requires collaboration between the front and back of the restaurant. “I have a cool team of man-
agers and I brainstorm with them — it’s not just one person, it’s four people brainstorming and that’s what I love,” states Vij. “I think that’s the key to success, giving everyone a space to express themselves.” But managers are just one part of this equation. The people working the floor have a huge impact on guests’ experience — which in turn determines the success of a restaurant. “If you treat your staff really well and treat them with respect and love, then they in turn put that extra smile, extra love, extra things that are required for your customer to get great service,” explains Vij. “I make sure my staff gets respected and loved.” While Vij makes opening restaurants sound easy, it’s far from that. “It’s important to know that just because you have money and passion, you still have to work hard to do what you want to do,” says Vij. “I worked as a sommelier, I worked in kitchens and other restaurants. It’s not luck — luck plays a very small role in the success of a restaurant. If you’re passionate and you work hard, then luck will come your way. But very few people become ‘rock stars’ overnight.” VIJ’S HARD WORK HAS PAID OFF, THOUGH NOT ALWAYS WITHIN HIS DESIRED TIMELINE. “Whatever we’ve
worked on has succeeded. Some have taken a lot longer than I expected,” he states. “It goes to show that just because you think you have the food, it doesn’t mean that people will be able to see it. It takes a long time to show that passion and love, and for people to understand. It proves that just because you have opened two restaurants doesn’t mean you can open a third and do well at it.” Even with his lengthy resume, Vij isn’t done recreating Indian cuisine for Canadians. “In September, we’re opening a bigger Vij’s [Restaurant],” states Vij (though this conversation was held in August, so he’s probably already opened it!). He’s also working on Toronto-based projects, “some pop up restaurants down the road. Just working on it, no concept or date yet.” Another Canadian restaurateurmaking waves in the restaurant industry is Jen Agg. She’s lauded in the media for her frank and unabashed Twitter account and her commitment to creating trends.
“I love opening restaurants. It’s intense, it’s horrifically stressful — but you forget how much it hurts,” Agg told Post City Toronto. “I think that the Hoof forged a certain kind of path in Toronto — not necessarily in the world, but in Toronto. … It’s an industry I really want to do another way: it’s about the diner relinquishing a bit of control.” Agg’s restaurant empire consists of The Black Hoof, Rhum Corner and The Cocktail Bar. All of these restaurants are found within one city block in Toronto (corner of Dundas and Grace).
“You know, that was such a good lesson for me. I don’t think it was something that people didn’t get. Ultimately, I think that good restaurants, generally speaking, don’t close. So we probably missed the mark somewhere.” Agg is continuing to expand her restaurant empire, moving her business to Montreal. With her husband, artist Roland Jean, as well as Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, she’s launching Agrikol, a Haitian restaurant that she hopes will be similar to The Rhum Corner, but
“If you’re passionate and you work hard, then luck will come your way. But very few people become ‘rock stars’ overnight.” Vikram Vij
The Black Hoof is the product of Agg’s exploration of worldwide trends with an emphasis on Spanish cuisine. “Charcuterie was always something I was eating and serving,” she told Post City Toronto. As a result, she decided to open a charcuterie with chef Grant van Gameren. “I’d been holding on to this vision for at least six months and had a solid idea of what I wanted,” she said. The idea was to serve “really delicious food but have it be a super-casual atmosphere.” This is the core theme behind The Black Hoof and one of the reasons why it became a trend-leader in Toronto’s restaurant scene. Not all of Agg’s projects have succeeded. She opened Hoof Raw Bar, a complement to The Black Hoof that served seafood charcuterie, in 2012. But it has since closed. “I felt like I had built a beautiful, perfect room, exactly to my taste, and I loved that space,” she told Toronto Life. “We started out really strong. A lot was invested in that restaurant, and it was really hard to close. But the next day I shook it off and started building Rhum. So yeah, maybe you’ll fail, but you don’t have to be a failure.”
unique in its own way. “I’m thinking of it as a spin-off restaurant — like twins, but fraternal twins,” Agg told Toronto Life. “It’s going to have a menu that kind of follows the same principles, but I’m so excited because there’s so much [stuff ] in Montreal, like djon-djon mushrooms, which are basically the greatest thing ever. They are so umami-packed. ... There are two buildings and a courtyard, and I’m not sure what we’ll be doing with the second building, but definitely there will be art. It will be a hub.” So what advice can we give aspiring restaurateurs? “My biggest tip to everyone is to have a long-term vision and keep going at it,” advises Vij. “Do not panic every time there’s a drop in the sales ... The average restaurant takes three to five years to break even. You need to have that tenacity. You need to know you’re going to be happy and successful.” He also believes in maintaining focus. “Focus on a theme, focus on an idea, focus on a vision to do different kinds of foods and concepts … if it doesn’t work right now, don’t run out and change it; play with it and tweak it,” says Vij. “Remain focused.” × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 39
WHEN WE ARE PLANNING A MEAL FOR A LARGE GROUP, WE ALWAYS GO BIG. BUT SOMETIMES, IT’S THE SMALL THINGS THAT WILL MAKE PEOPLE TALK.
FAST GRILLED SHRIMP
40 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
THINGS DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 41
Remove the leaves from the stems. As they dry, the stems become stalky and chewy.
KALE CHIPS 42 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 43
Aside from tenderloin, you can also use other cuts of lean beef like round or sirloin. But don’t stick to beef if you have access to fresh game meats. Elk, venison and bison are rich meats that can make a tartare pop. Remember to always treat raw meat with respect (and keep it chilled at all times).
STEAK TARTARE 44 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
FAST GRILLED SHRIMP
450 g shrimp, shell off 3 tbsp baking soda 2 tbsp salt Basil 100 ml olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced Juice from half a lemon
600 g kale, stems removed and leaves separated 2 tbsp olive oil 4 tbsp grated pecorino cheese 2 tbsp flax seeds Salt and pepper to taste
You can scale this recipe up to accommodate the number of guests. Count one skewer per person. It’s just an appetizer.
1. Pat the shrimp dry. 2. Place baking soda and salt into a bowl.
Put shrimp into the bowl and toss, making sure the shrimp are properly coated. Set aside and let stand for 15 minutes. 3. In another bowl, mix a handful of basil with the olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. Set aside. 4. Put 2 to 3 shrimp on a skewer. Preheat a frying pan on medium-high heat so it is nice and hot. Make sure the skewers fit flat in the pan so that the shrimp are in complete contact with the surface. The baking soda will help brown the shrimp and keep it moist. 5. Once fully cooked, plate the shrimp. Brush with basil, olive oil mix (or one of the two other bastes found below). Serve.
Very tasty and easy to make, this sauce can be used with steak or chicken too. Place 1 1/2 cups Italian parsley, 2 cloves of garlic, 4 tsp dried oregano, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1 tsp red pepper flakes in a food processor. Pulse until everything is finely chopped. Scrape the sides and add 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Blend until well combined. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before using. This sauce will keep for up to a week.
PUNCHED UP SRIRACHA BASTE
Place 1 cup finely chopped cilantro and one cup of olive oil into a bowl. Whisk until well blended. Add a couple shots of sriracha to taste. Make sure to taste constantly since the spiciness can overpower quickly.
These chips are very tasty and incredibly high in, fibre, iron, vitamins D and K, as well as antioxidants and ... the list goes on.
1. Preheat oven to 275˚F. 2. Line several baking sheets with
parchment paper. Wash and thoroughly dry the kale leaves. 3. Place the olive oil, cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the kale and toss, making sure each leaf is completely coated. 4. Put the kale on the baking sheets, adding a pinch of flax seeds on top. Leave a good amount of space between the coated kale on the pan to speed up drying. 5. Place in oven and cook for 25 minutes (or until crisp). Turn the pan half way through to ensure it dries even. 6. Transfer to a bowl once done. Serve in decorated Dixie cups.
You can make these ahead of time and serve them as guest enter. Make a lot more than you might need. The leftover tomatoes can make a great base for a quick pasta sauce (see page 20).
500 ml cherry tomatoes Sprigs of thyme 1 tbsp oregano 2 tbsp olive oil Salt and pepper Baguette Parmesan cheese Arugula 1. Preheat oven to 450˚F. 2. Toss cherry tomatoes, olive oil, thyme
and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. 3. Place on baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. 4. Turn the tomatoes over and roast for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. 5. Cut the baguette into thin slices. Top with roasted tomatoes. Add a pinch of parmesan and sliced arugula.
No one ever thinks of secrving tartare as an appetizer. It can be a quick way to fill the gap between early comers and a later dinner. Make sure to place a small amounts on the toast and don’t put too many out at one time. It’s better to refriderate and serve them as they disappear. And they will.
400 2 2 2 4 3 2
g beef tenderloin tbsp shallots tsp capers, drained and rinsed tbsp cornichons, chopped tsp olive oil tsp Dijon mustard large egg yolks Salt and pepper Melba toast
1. Place tenderloin in freezer for about an hour. Remove from freezer and cut into sheets. Cut sheets into strips. Hand chop till you get a small cubes. Keep chilled till needed. 2. Combine the rest of the ingredients (except eggs) in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks one at a time and blend. You can add a tiny bit of horseradish, or chilli flakes if you like it spicy. 3. Add the chilled beef to the bowl and mix thoroughly using a rubber spatula. Season to taste. 4. Serve on Melba toast or oven-baked baguette crisps.
Something made by hand makes any evening special. This really easy recipe will have them asking for more.
1 1/2 cups Irish whiskey 1 can sweetened condensed milk (300 ml) 1 tbsp chocolate syrup 1/4 tsp instant coffee 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (or 15%) Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk until well blended. That’s it. Pour into a bottle which seals well. It can be stored in fridge for up to 2 weeks. Serve over ice. ×
DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 45
THAT WEASEL DID WHAT? by Silvana Lau
MACCHIATO, CAPPUCCINO, SHORT BLACK, LONG BLACK, ICED COFFEE AND DECAF. Think you’ve covered your coffee
options? Think again. When you peek around the corner and see how the rest of the world sips its jet fuel, you’ll be dazzled by the variations, and wonder why you ever ordered a double-double. The Portuguese iced coffee, mazagran, consists of espresso served over ice with lemon. In Senegal, the café Touba delivers a kick; coffee beans are ground up with African black pepper and sometimes cloves. Served black with a heaping spoonful of sugar, it yields an intensely sweet and spicy cup of Joe. In Turkey, it is customary to find coffee grinds floating freely in a regional coffee. Often, the thick, gritty cup of brew is served with a cardamom pod for added spicy flavour. The cardamom is optional, but flossing is recommended. In Hong Kong, the popular ying yeung is a marriage of coffee and tea. This east-meets-west concoction is made from a mixture of strongly brewed coffee and steeped tea made from loose leaves. Evaporated milk and sugar is added to the infusion that can be served either hot or cold. One sip of this sweet, creamy drink demonstrates the principle of yin and yang. Coffee, the stronger element of the two is the yin, whereas tea’s softer yang balances out the bitterness and bite of the coffee. Ideal for those afternoons when you can’t decide between coffee or tea, this is a caffeine jolt that is the best of both worlds. If mixing coffee and tea together is not your cup of tea (or coffee), how about a cup of tea to wash down your coffee? The double-shot-of-caffeine ritual is common in Vietnam. Like a coffee chaser, tra da or green tea consisting of a mixture of jasmine leaves is served alongside your Java. Don’t let Vietnam’s tea chaser ritual confuse you. Unlike the rest of tea-drinking Asia, coffee is taken very seriously in Vietnam. During the 1800s, the drink was introduced by French colonists. Coffee plantations were established in the Dak Lak Province in the Central Highlands regions of the country. Surrounded by mountains at an elevation of over 3,000 feet, the favourable conditions of soil and altitude provided the perfect landscape for cultivating coffee beans. Today, Vietnam is the world’s biggest producer of cheaper Robusta coffee and the second largest exporter of coffee after Brazil, the global leader in exporting pricier Arabica beans. 46 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
Arabica beans have a softer, sweeter taste, with notes of fruit and berries. They have a higher acidity providing a winey aftertaste and a balanced overall profile. Robusta beans, on the other hand, yield a stronger, harsher and bitter-ish brew with significantly more caffeine. Generally speaking, Robusta is considered the less desirable bean of the two. Nevertheless, there are high-quality Robusta beans that are prized for their deep flavour in espressos and good crema. This inferior bean is popular among coffee producers because it is hardier and easier to grow, harvesting a higher crop yield as the extra caffeine protects the Robusta plants from disease and insects. Economic factors drive the choice to use Robusta beans, which is why Robusta is used primarily in instant coffee and as a filler in ground coffee blends. On that subject, Vietnamese Robusta coffee tastes far from the stale and flavourless bean juice you find in instant coffee. The French may have introduced coffee to the country, but the Vietnamese have taken the bean and made it their own. To refine the inferior Robusta bean, local roasters have given it more of an “Asian kick.” The beans are roasted with a wide range of ingredients, including butter, sugar, vanilla, cocoa and even fish sauce. The latter was thought to add a certain boldness to the final brew. Perhaps the roasters hoped that the fish sauce would mask the bitter and acrid notes of the Robusta beans. And they were able to accomplish that. The “unique” ingredients used in the roasting process reward the drinker with a cup of Java that has a chocolaty, caramel, bitter, delicious finish. Who knew a bit of butter and fish sauce could improve a cup of C8H10N4O2 (the molecular formula of caffeine)? On a recent trip to the former French colony, I was hooked not only by the delicious and innovative concoctions, but by the coffee culture itself. In North America, we are constantly pushing the fast forward button in our lives. We act and talk like we’ve had too many cups, always on the go. We have a “drive-through-ready-made-fast-food” kind of lifestyle. The world is spinning at a faster and faster pace. But we need to take the time to stop, breathe and smell the roses (or coffee grinds, in this case, one cup at a time). In Vietnam, for example, drinking coffee is a lifestyle option.
In every corner of the country, it is served as a ritual. From stands on the side of the roads, where you sit on tiny plastic chairs made for six-year-olds, to trendy Western-style coffee houses with free Wi-Fi and Taylor Swift songs blaring in the background. Young professionals and old men can be found watching people walk the dusty roads or speed by on scooters. In Ho Chi Minh City, I learned how to relax, savour and enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures by sipping the same thing everyone else was sipping. The “sipping” of the coffee doesn’t actually take place until 10 minutes after your coffee arrives. When you order a coffee in Vietnam, you may be confused when they bring a stainless steel metal cup filter perched on top of a short coffee cup. The bottom of the cup is filled with sweetly thickened condensed milk. “Where’s the coffee?” you might ask. Patience my little grasshopper. Your cup of Joe will be freshly brewed in individual portions at your table, drip by drip, right in front of your eyes. Coarsely ground beans fill the Vietnamese drip filter, known as a phin, which sits on top of the cup. Like a French press, the beans are weighed down with a thin lid, and then hot water is poured into the filter. The tiny holes in the bottom of the phin act as a filter and your coffee slowly drip-drip-drips into the cup. When it’s finished, or when your patience wears out, the thick dark brew is swirled together with the sweetened condensed milk (the practice began when the French weren’t able to acquire fresh milk during the colonial period). On request, the coffee can be poured over a tall glass of ice, known as ice milk coffee or cà phê sua đá. The entire brewing process can take anywhere between five to 10 minutes ( just enough time for the locals to smoke a ciga-
rette and buy a lottery ticket), and the coffee is sipped at an equally leisurely pace. Watching the coffee being made drip by drip, I was forced to slow down amidst the hustle and bustle of this kinetic city. In North America, where 4G is not fast enough, five to 10 minutes is a lifetime. During the first few days of my trip, I had yet to assimilate into the relaxed and leisurely pace, I found it difficult. But in Vietnam, there are no “to-go” cups. You sit and sip. I had to keep telling myself to “sit still, enjoy your cup of coffee.” That is only way to drink coffee in Vietnam. Cà phê sua đá may be a staple in tropical Vietnam. However, the coffee-crazed nation has far more to offer than just coffee with condensed milk and ice. Creamy, refreshing and shocking, the following “unique” and creative brews will awaken your soul, kick-start your day and give Starbucks (yawn ...) a run for its money.
CÀ PHÊ TRÚNG (EGG COFFEE)
Coffee with egg? Sounds strange, but it tastes better than it sounds. Originating from Hanoi, this unique cuppa was created by Nguyen Giang during the French colonial era. The chief barista at Hanoi’s Sofitel Hotel created egg coffee because he missed drinking hot western lattes after he left his job. He opened the famous Cafe Giang and tried to recreate the lattes. During that time, luxury items like milk and cream were scarce. Nguyen made do with what he had, eggs and sugar, and cà phê trúng was born. Giang’s egg coffee drink wasn’t very popular with the locals who enjoyed traditional style Vietnamese coffee. With time, the drink caught on and egg coffee can be found all over the city. DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 47
If you are a fan of tiramisu, or Cadbury Creme Eggs, then you will like cà phê trúng. A combination of egg yolks, condensed milk, sugar and cheese (optional) are whisked until fluffy and thick. The light, silky, sweet and luscious froth then sits atop the bold and rich Vietnamese coffee. What else could be so perfect? Coffee and dessert all in one cup! Drunk cold with ice, it tastes like a creamy liquid tiramisu. When served hot (the glass sits in a cup of warm water), the treat is like a warm coffee custard. Either way, it is a perfect way to end a meal.
CÀ PHÊ SUA CHUA (YOGURT COFFEE)
Two quintessential breakfast items. Mix them together and you have cà phê sua chua. Essentially a coffee smoothie, a generous dollop of lightly sweetened yogurt is poured over Vietnamese coffee. A fantastically refreshing combo that is enjoyed by locals at any time of the day. The light bitterness of the coffee blends perfectly with the creamy sweetness of the yogurt. Try recreating this recipe at home. If you don’t have a phin (they can be found at Asian supermarkets), pour espresso or strong coffee on top of creamy vanilla yogurt. Perfect for those mornings when you don’t have time for breakfast, only a cup of coffee!
CÀ PHÊ CHON (“WEASEL” COFFEE)
Kopi luwak, weasel coffee, cà phê chon ... call it whatever you want, let’s not get too fancy here. We are talking about cat-poop coffee. Yes, you read that right. P-o-o-p. Coffee beans travel through a civet cat’s digestive system (a relative of the mongoose that looks like a cross between a raccoon and a weasel) and then into your cup. Why would anyone want to drink a cup of “crappucino?” More importantly, how did extracting the coffee beans from the feces of a civet come about? 48 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
First, a little bit of background. When French colonists built coffee plantations in Vietnam, they did not share harvested coffee beans with farmers. As a result, farmers scavenged the area for civet droppings and resourcefully picked the coffee beans out of the civet dung. They believed that the civet cats were “coffee connoisseurs,” with their long noses sniffing out and eating the best quality beans. Moreover, coffee growers found that these eaten beans produced a richer, less bitter brew than those directly harvested from the field. Once nature took its course, the bowel movements were collected and washed, lightly roasted and ready to be sold as “the finest gift from Vietnam” for up to $600 US per pound. (And you thought your $4.75 Grande Carmel Frappucino was expensive.) In the past, farmers looked for the manure in the wild. These days, sourcing the beans is trickier. Since the end of the Vietnam war, many farmers migrated to the central highlands (the country’s coffee-producing region) and illegally cut down trees, severely affecting the civet’s natural habitat. Compounding the problem, civets are being hunted and served on the dinner table of the country’s elite. As a result, civet “farms” have sprung up throughout Vietnam (and Southeast Asia) where these unlucky animals are exploited, confined in tiny cages and force-fed coffee beans, sparking a controversial and unethical brew from animal rights activists. Due to the lucrative market for high-priced civet coffee, it seems unavoidable that some dishonest vendors would try to pass off beans rubbed in civet dung or infused with artificial fragrances bearing little resemblance to the coffee’s actual robust taste. Some coffee crooks use sophisticated biotechnology, isolating an enzyme similar to that in the civet’s digestive tract that ferments the beans, and then blending chocolate powder to the beans to add authenticity to its aroma, all without the poop and cages. As far as crappy coffee goes, I have consumed loads of it in my day. I have gulped down my fair share of instant coffee with powdered cream in a styrofoam cup. I have sipped tepid coffee from a gas station. But I have never had crap in my coffee … until I was in Vietnam. Sitting on a plastic stool in Vietnam’s coffee-mad capital, Hanoi, there were sooooo many thoughts and questions popping into my head as I waited for the poop to brew in the phin. How well did the farmers wash the excreted beans? Whatever the washing process missed, I hoped the roasting process made up for it. If coffee is already a laxative, what will happen when I drink the cà phê chon? Did these beans actually come out of a civet or are they artificially flavoured? Once the brew was ready, I attempted to disengage my brain and adopt a “best not to think too much about it” approach. I braced myself for pungent and earthy flavours. Instead, the coffee was smooth and rich, with notes of salty caramel and bittersweet chocolate, ending with a hazelnut finish. Real poop or not, cà phê chon is good to the last dropping! ×
BOUQUET GARNI BY NANCY JOHNSON
IN SEARCH OF SANTA
As a child, I was always a bit skeptical about the whole Santa thing. Like, how could that chubby guy shimmy down a chimney? And what happened if, like our family, you didn’t have a chimney? Did your parents let him in the front door? Did they fix him a highball? Did he even have time for a highball? I was never very good at judging distance and time, but I was pretty sure Santa couldn’t possibly travel the globe in just one night, distributing gifts to all the children of the world. After sitting for hours with a crayon, circling every toy in the Sears catalogue, I was always a little miffed on Christmas morning when it was apparent Santa had ignored most of my requests. Who was this guy anyway? I uncovered the first clue of the Santa myth at age 3 on Christmas morning 1954. I ran over to my mother to show her what Santa had brought me — a Vogue Ginny doll complete with a wardrobe of beautiful clothes — and realized the look on my mom’s face was fake. I knew she was acting — acting surprised, acting like she herself hadn’t bought that doll, acting like she’d never seen that darn pile of Ginny clothes. I had to turn away so she didn’t see my smile — if I’d known the word “busted”, I might have shouted it at her. However, I was savvy enough to know I shouldn’t blow the lid off the whole operation. What fool would spoil her parents’ fun or the stream of Santa gifts, even if they weren’t equivalent to the entire Sears catalogue. It was my older brother Allen who finally cracked the case wide open. I was seven. At nine, smarty-pants Allen was deemed too old to believe in Santa and had been invited by my parents to help bring down the presents from the attic, a fact that was hidden from me and my little brother Dennis.
That Christmas Eve, hoping to solve the Santa question one way or another, especially since several of the cooler kids in grade two had blatantly laughed at those of us who still — sort of — believed in Santa, I waited up to hear the sound of reindeer hooves — or not. What I heard from the attic was the sound of Allen playing my new toy piano, a scaled-down ebony upright with tinkly keys and a tiny bench, from Sears, of course. I woke up the next morning, spied the piano by the tree, and launched the same Oscar-winning performance my mother had attempted when I was three. Then I hugged my parents and thanked them for my beautiful little piano. That morning I knew for sure there was a Santa Claus — a tender, loving, kind, brilliant, one-of-a-kind, my-very-own, amazing, never-let-me-down Santa Claus, even if he didn’t bring me the entire Sears toy catalogue and never would. He was my mom and dad.
The highball was the drink of choice for my parents’ generation. I clearly recall my parents settling down with highballs in hand to watch Ed Sullivan on Sunday nights. A tall glass of ice, a shot of Canadian whisky and a few splashes of ginger ale are all you need.
× Search through a wide range of wine-friendly recipes on quench.me/recipes/
DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 49
TURKEY ORZO SOUP
SERVES 4 After the holidays, there’s bound to be some leftover turkey. Here’s a quick soup that starts with the classically fragrant mirepoix of onion, carrots and celery.
1 3/4 3/4 2 2 1/2 8 4 2 1
onion, diced cup carrot, diced cup celery, diced tbsp olive oil cloves garlic, minced tsp dried thyme cups chicken broth cups cooked turkey, diced cups fresh baby spinach cup cooked orzo Salt and pepper to taste
CHOPPED STEAK AND PEAR SALAD WITH LEMON DRESSING
Salad is a quick and easy way to get dinner on the table in record time with healthful benefits.
1 flank steak Salt and pepper to taste 1 head romaine, chopped 2 cups arugula, chopped 1 cup red cabbage, sliced 1/2 red onion, sliced 2 juicy ripe pears, cored, thinly sliced and sprinkled with fresh lemon juice 1 cup store-bought garlic croutons 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 2 tbsp snipped chives Lemon Dressing (recipe follows)
1. In a Dutch oven, sauté onions, carrots and celery in hot oil over medium-high heat until softened, about 9 minutes. 2. Add garlic and thyme. Cook about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add broth and turkey. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. 3. Add baby spinach and cooked orzo. Simmer 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Season with salt and pepper. MATCH: Try with a G rüner Veltliner.
1. Season flank steak with salt and pepper. Broil about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Slice steak thinly. 2. In a large bowl, toss romaine, arugula, red cabbage, onion and pear slices. Top with flank steak, croutons, cheese and chives. Toss with Lemon Dressing. MATCH: Serve with a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
CHICKEN CURRY IN A HURRY
3 4 4 3 2 1/2 1/2 3 2
tbsp butter boneless chicken fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces Salt and pepper to taste tsp curry powder tbsp brandy tsp flour cup chicken broth cup heavy cream tbsp Major Grey mango chutney cups cooked basmati rice
1. In a large skillet, melt butter over low heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Sauté chicken in butter over low heat until cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes depending on size of chicken pieces. 2. Transfer chicken to a plate. Pour off all but 1 tbsp drippings. Add curry powder to skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant. 3. Add brandy and cook until almost evaporated. Mix in flour. Stir in broth, heavy cream and chutney. 4. Increase heat to medium-high and boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens enough to coat a spoon. 5. Return chicken to skillet. Cook until chicken is heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve over rice. MATCH: For me, curry calls for a Viognier.
50 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
LEMON DRESSING 1/4 1/4 2 3/4
cup fresh lemon juice cup red wine vinegar tbsp Dijon mustard cup extra virgin olive oil
In a medium bowl, whisk the lemon juice, vinegar and mustard. Whisk in the olive oil.
QUICHE LORRAINE SERVES 6
1 1 12 1/4 4 2 3/4
9-inch unbaked piecrust tbsp butter, softened at room temperature slices bacon lb shredded Swiss cheese eggs cups heavy cream tsp salt Dash nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 425˚F. 2. Spread butter on piecrust. 3. In medium skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Drain on paper
towels and crumble. Sprinkle crumbled bacon and cheese in pie crust. 4. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with heavy cream, salt and nutmeg. Pour over bacon and cheese. 5. Bake quiche 15 minutes. Lower oven heat to 325˚F and bake 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in centre comes out clean. 6. Remove from oven and let stand for about 20 minutes before serving. ×
NOTED 91 VIÑA MAIPO GRAN DEVOCIÓN CARMÉNÈRE/SYRAH 2012, MAIPO VALLEY, CHILE ($17.95)
91 CHARLES BAKER RIESLING IVAN VINEYARD 2014, TWENTY MILE BENCH, ONTARIO ($27)
If you want to impress your dinner party guests with a full-bodied New World red, pick up a bottle of this. It’s dense purple in colour with a rich bouquet of blackcurrants and vanilla oak. Dry and juicy on the palate, its blackcurrant flavour is buttressed with oak and ripe tannins delivered on fresh acidity. A great match for barbecued steak or spicy ribs. (TA)
Clear, deep plum red. Powerful and unusual nose of blackberries and violets, reminiscent of an extreme Pinot Noir. On the palate, it is full-bodied, very fruity with dark cherry and blackberry flavours and soft tannins. (RL)*
Charles Baker continues to produce some of Niagara’s most profound Rieslings. This vintage is leaner but still possesses great persistency. Pale straw with a green tinge; the bergamot, white peach, lime zest, honey and lilac on the nose meet up with apple, pear and huge minerality on the palate. Long finish with zesty acid and slightly off-dry. I dream about choucroute garnie with this beauty! (ES)
94 LIGHTFOOT & WOLFVILLE VINEYARDS ANCIENNE WILD FERMENTED CHARDONNAY 2013, NOVA SCOTIA ($40)
This is the long-awaited first release from a winery that will not officially open its doors until 2016. Several barrel samples I have tasted provide compelling evidence that Lightfoot and Wolfville is destined to do great things in Nova Scotia. Subtle richness on the nose is reminiscent of Premier Cru Burgundy, revealing lemon citrus, buttery spice, a deft touch of vanillin and an elegant hazelnut backdrop. Rounded richness plays through on the palate with incisive green apple and citrus flavours, focused minerality and brisk acidity. Bright fruit and mellow, leesy notes linger on the finish. This extraordinary wine has only been in the bottle for a short time. It will continue to develop for years to come. (SW)
93 WILHELM WALCH LAGREIN 2012, DOC ALTO ADIGE, ITALY ($18)
91 BURROWING OWL ATHENE 2012, OKANAGAN ($38)
An early-November harvest of rich Syrah (53%) and structured Cabernet Sauvignon (47%). Co-fermented and aged for 21 months in a wide range of oak barrels. The extended warm fall vintage ensures a complex palate with ripe cassis, dark berries and lingering spicy cedar. A match for winter stews. (HH)
92 LA FERME DU MONT CÔTES CAPELAN CHÂTEAUNEUF-DUPAPE 2011, RHÔNE, FRANCE ($80)
Loads of concentration here. Dense purple colour with a spicy, floral, blackberry nose tinged with toasted herbs. Gorgeous mouthfeel with minerally black fruit flavours that finish on a savoury note. (TA)
× Find a collection of tasting notes for wine, beer and spirits at quench.me/notes/
TOFINO BREWING COMPANY TUFF SESSIONS ALE 5%, TOFINO, BC ($6.49/650 ML)
Natural Pale Ale made with Pacific Northwest hops showing copper colour, persistent creamy head, lightly toasted and yeasty aromas with a whiff of hops in the background. Rich fruity malt flavour has a bitter chocolate note with clean, bitter hop finish. Robust, satisfying ale. (SW)
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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 94 DOM PÉRIGNON BRUT VINTAGE 2005, CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE ($219) It doesn’t get much better than this. Pale straw in colour with a lime tint. Active mousse with tiny bubbles; toasty apple nose with notes of nuts and smoke. Light and elegant on the palate with a thread of minerality. Perfectly balanced with great length. Just a joy. (TA)
92 BILLECART–SALMON BRUT ROSÉ, CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE ($56.95/375 ML)
Very pale in colour, almost flesh pink; elegant yellow cherry and citrus nose; dry, beautifully balanced. The ultimate rosé Champagne. (TA)
92 HENRIOT BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE ($79)
Salmon pink. Ethereal, complex and seductive nose; vinous, hard to describe. Wide and expansive on the palate, complex taste, almost firm on the clean, long finish. (GBQc)
92 BOLLINGER BRUT ROSÉ, CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE ($89.75)
The expressive nose of mushroom and dry earth has intensity. Equally potent in the mouth; affirmed taste in the mid-palate as well as in the long finish. Impressive by its power. (GBQc)
80-84 = Good 75-79 = Acceptable 70 & under = Below average *Available through wine clubs
90 CANARD-DUCHÊNE CUVÉE LÉONIE BRUT, CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE ($46)
89 CHANOINE FRÈRES BRUT GRANDE RÉSERVE, CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE ($42.25)
90 DEVAUX BLANC DE NOIRS BRUT, CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE ($50.25)
89 AYALA MAJEUR ROSÉ, CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE ($57.75)
Elegant nose with notes of brioche and a tad of rancio. Equally satisfying on the palate, balanced in every aspect, not without complexity. A fine glass of Champagne. (GBQc)
The expressive nose has finesse to it, but not without vinosity. Balanced on the palate, it has a nice fruity taste and a tad bit of sweetness but it still qualifies as dry. Clean finish. (GBQc)
89 PREVEDELLO ASOLO SUPERIORE EXTRA DRY PROSECCO 2014, VENETO, ITALY ($16.95) Very pale in colour with a lime tint; a nose of white flowers and sweet apple; mouth-filling flavours of apple and peach with a hint of residual sweetness. Good length with a Meyer lemon finish. (TA)
89 BAILLY LAPIERRE RÈSERVE CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE, FRANCE ($22.79)
An interesting blend of four Burgundian grape varieties exhibiting lively mousse with creamy brioche together with delicate floral and lightly fruity scents. Bright lemon citrus with a trace of lime, firm mineral grip, creamy, lightly toasty notes and brisk acidity kick in on the finish. (SW)
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Discreet but pleasant nose of white and yellow fruits. A nice freshness fills the mouth; the acidity is well dosed for a good balance thoughout. A good glass of Champagne at a decent price. (GBQc)
Pale pink. Expressive nose, overripe strawberry, floral notes and hints of mushroom. Delicate on the palate, great finesse in the flavour, good balance and a long finish. (GBQc)
88 PARXET BRUT RESERVA 2010, DO CAVA, SPAIN ($13.67)
Medium-deep yellow with abundant bubbles. Medium-intensity, grapey aromas with ripe apples and yeast. Light-bodied, palate-cleansing lemony acidity and a slight taste of sherry in the background. Good as an apéritif. Drink now. (RL)*
88 SOMMARIVA BRUT CONIGLIANO VALDOBBIADINE PROSECCO SUPERIORE, ITALY ($19.99)
Crisply fresh apple and soft floral scent with green apple flavour playing through on the creamy, gently effervescent palate. Finishes lightly dry. (SW)
88 MUMM NAPA BRUT ROSÉ NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES ($35.75)
Pale pink. Delicate, vinous nose of dead
leaves and some fruity notes. Good presence in the mouth, balanced acidity, delicate taste that lingers on. Reasonably priced for a rosé, it is perfect for the holiday season. (GBQc)
87 COLIO LILY SPARKLING NV, LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE, ONTARIO ($17)
This sparkling wine is made from 100% Riesling using the Charmat method. It’s a very user-friendly sparkler with a nose of citrus-driven fruit with touches of grapefruit, melon and apple. It’s zesty and refreshing on the palate with delightful lemon-lime, peach and apricot flavours and lively bubbles. The sweetness is balanced out by fairly good acidity. (RV)
87 VALDO MARCO ORO VALDOBBIADINE PROSECCO SUPERIORE, ITALY ($18.29)
Grapefruit and lightly honeyed scents with green apple fruit, refined fizz, refreshing acidity and a slightly off dry finish. (SW)
SAKE NAGAI BREWERY MIZUAOKI BLUE WATER HONJOZO SAKE, 15.9% ABV, JAPAN ($12.95/300 ML)
Honjozo is the classification of sake that has had a small amount of brewer’s alcohol added. This one is aged for 18 months in tank before being released, made with local Gohyakumangoku rice polished to 63% and brewed using the region’s naturally soft water. Bright aromatics leaning towards Asian pear juice, green apple, ground spice and toasted almond. A hint of smoke on the palate, with fruity/nutty/mineral flavours and a green pear/green apple finish. (TS)
NAGAI BREWERY OZE BEISUIKA JUNMAI SAKE, 13.1% ABV ($28.95/500 ML)
From Gohyakumangoku (bless you!) rice polished down to 50%. Intensely
aromatic with suggestions of sweet pear, flower blossom, pumpkin and honeydew melon. Crisp, elegant and beautifully balanced with mildly spiced apple, pear, fennel and almond. The Nagai Brewery was founded in 1886 and is run today by two brothers who oversee all aspects of production. (TS)
WHITE CANADA 92 BLOMIDON ESTATE WINERY UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2014, NOVA SCOTIA ($22)
Tasted blind, one could all too easily be in Burgundy. Bright green apple opens on the nose and expands further in the mouth, together with a background citrus note. Exhibits impressive dynamic balance, with zesty acidity and lively minerality tempered by elegant creamy texture. Another showcase expression of Nova Scotia’s unique terroir. (SW)
92 TRIUS SHOWCASE RIESLING GHOST CREEK VINEYARD 2014, NIAGARA ($25)
A gorgeous nose of bright citrus, ginger, a floral note and a mineral component that you don’t find in a lot of Niagara-on-the-Lake Rieslings. It’s rich, yet tangy on the palate with citrus rind and grapefruit, complexity and layers of minerals and spice. Should age beautifully. (RV)
92 JOIEFARM EN FAMILLE RESERVE GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2012, OKANAGAN ($28)
A punch in the nose by lychees and roses. Coats the mouth with orange blossom water and Turkish delight flavours. Long, complex, clove-laden finish. The moderate level of acidity and alcohol balances well with the richness of 15 g/L residual sugar, hence its Alsatian Grand Cru-like styling. Pairs brilliantly with rich pâtés and cheeses. (HH)
92 THIRTY BENCH SMALL LOT GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2013, NIAGARA ($30)
An excellent Gew with a nose of lychee, tropical fruits, cloves, nutmeg and ginger spice. It has good weight on the palate with notes of tangerine, grapefruit and a range of spices with length through the finish. It’s quite ripe, but finishes dry. (RV)
92 LE CLOS JORDANNE LE GRAND CLOS CHARDONNAY 2011, TWENTY MILE BENCH ($65)
The “Grand Cru” of the Clos Jordanne portfolio is a full-bodied and layered offering with waves of peach, pear, apple, citrus, honey, hazelnut, toast and spice. The palate is dense, yet refined, with an underlying current of minerality as well as fresh acidity. Ready to drink. A triple-cream brie or roast chicken stuffed with mushrooms would be sublime with this wine. (ES)
91 JOIEFARM RIESLING 2013, OKANAGAN ($23)
An attractive nose of grapefruit, lime, some tropical notes and beautiful minerality. It’s electric on the palate with pulpy lime, ginger, mango and river-rock minerality with a touch of wild honey on the finish. (RV)
91 BACHELDER NIAGARA CHARDONNAY 2013, NIAGARA ($29)
This is Bachelder’s “regular” cuvée and it falls in line with Bachelder’s style, nothing out of order, a deft touch with oak and always a thought-provoking, complex wine. Look for plenty of minerality, apple and pear fruit with a touch of lemon and spice. It’s well rounded on the palate with juicy fruits and toasted spice notes but retains its poise and gracefulness through the long finish. (RV)
91 PELLER ESTATES ANDREW PELLER SIGNATURE SERIES SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013, NIAGARA ($30)
An interesting and complex nose of gooseberry, grapefruit, pear and toasted vanilla spices from a majority of the DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 53
NOTED fruit being barrel-fermented and aged in French oak. It’s generous, textured and flavourful on the palate with stone fruit and oaky-spicy notes. Try cellaring a couple of years. (RV)
91 LE CLOS JORDANNE CLAYSTONE TERRACE CHARDONNAY 2012, TWENTY MILE BENCH ($40) Pale straw colour with peach, sweet apple, pear, mineral, vanilla, spice and a hint of nuttiness. There is 14% alcohol, smooth texture and excellent length. Nice balance. No need to cellar as it is ready to drink. (ES)
90 JOIEFARM UN-OAKED CHARDONNAY 2014, OKANAGAN ($22.90)
Complex array of scents reveal apple, pear, honeysuckle and tropical notes of pineapple and banana. Ripe green apple flavour fills the mouth, backed by lively acidity and dry mineral culminating in a long, satisfying finish. A flexible pairing for lobster, crab, seafood casseroles and roast chicken. (SW)
90 JOIEFARM A WINE INSPIRED BY ALSACE A NOBLE BLEND 2014, OKANAGAN ($24)
Spicy Gewürztraminer (38%) and zesty Riesling (30%) take charge on this “Gentil” blend that’s judiciously balanced by Pinot Auxerrois (16%), Pinot Blanc (8%), Muscat (9%) and Schoenberger (1%). Intensely fragrant and flavourful, with a complex potpourri of elderflower, lychee, lime and clove. A perennial joy to drink. (HH)
90 MISSION HILL FAMILY ESTATES TERROIR COLLECTION BLUEBIRD PASSAGE SINGLE VINEYARD VIOGNIER 2013, OKANAGAN VALLEY ($30)
Fresh stone fruit with exotic floral scent and succulent ripe apricot backed by stony mineral and rich honeyed notes in the mouth. Finishes with bracing acidity and lingering honeyed apricot notes. Demonstrates how well Viognier can do in southern Okanagan terroir. (SW)
90 SOUTHBROOK ESTATE GROWN SMALL LOT WILD FERMENT CHARDONNAY, FOUR MILE CREEK ($34.95)
Only 7 barrels of this impressive Chardonnay were produced. A medium golden colour leads into a layered bouquet of coconut, butter cookies, honey, anise, golden apple, Bosc pear and white flower. On the palate, it is all about minerality, citrus, spice, toast and green apple melding with high acidity and a long aftertaste. Pair with grilled salmon topped with a herb cream sauce. (ES)
90 MISSION HILL FAMILY ESTATES TERRIOR COLLECTION LONE PINE CHARDONNAY 2012, OKANAGAN ($35)
Refined ripe citrus and tropical fruit with a trace of banana and vanilla spiciness on the nose, with delicate citrus and stony mineral in the mouth, finishing with clean refreshing acidity. (SW)
89 FEATHERSTONE FOUR FEATHERS 2014, ONTARIO ($14.95)
Ontario is producing a lot of blended white wines now and this is one of the best bargains — a mix of Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is very pale in colour with an aromatic bouquet of spicy Asian pear. It’s off-dry, perfumed, with an exotic pineapple flavour. Ideal with sushi or on its own. Too bad the patio is snowed over. (TA)
89 TOWNSHIP 7 PINOT GRIS 2014, OKANAGAN ($17)
Highly aromatic Gris with apricot, grapefruit, apple and pear notes. It’s quite juicy on the palate with lovely poached pear, apple, lime and citrus zest through the lively, vibrant finish. (RV)
89 CEDARCREEK PINOT GRIS 2014, OKANAGAN ($17.79)
Lots of flavour here. Straw-coloured with a nose of white peaches. Light on the palate, dry with a thread of minerality behind the flavours of peach and peach pit with a citrus finish.(TA)
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89 LIGHTFOOT & WOLFVILLE TIDAL BAY 2014, NOVA SCOTIA ($22)
A fine example of Nova Scotia’s signature Tidal Bay Appellation, with classic aromatic fresh floral and lively green fruit scents. Grassy herbal notes are reminiscent of Sauvignon. Crisp green apple is the dominant flavour, backed by vibrant acidity and fine mineral grip. (SW)
89 JOIEFARM MUSCAT 2014, OKANAGAN ($22.90)
Highly aromatic floral scent with pungent Muscat grapey character and a distinct whiff of lychee. Pure Muscat flavour is supported by refreshing acidity, drying mineral with a touch of residual sweetness on the lingering green-fruit finish. Muscat is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are a fan, you will love this one! (SW)
89 JOIEFARM PINOT BLANC 2014, OKANAGAN ($23)
From 27-year-old St Hubertus Vineyard vines in the relatively cool Kelowna area. Fragrant, fruity, juicy and redolent with pink grapefruit, sweet peach and lingering spice. There’s richness on the palate, enhanced by 8 g/l residual sugar. More off-dry than past vintages, so consider pairing it to balance spicy heat. (HH)
89 CAVE SPRING RIESLING THE ADAM STEPS ESTATE BOTTLED, BEAMSVILLE BENCH ($24.95)
This is Cave’s take on a Mosel Riesling Kabinett, with its lower alcohol and slightly higher residual sugar. Fermented via natural yeasts, the peach, pink grapefruit, honey, lime and apple juice are built on brisk acidity and great length. Hold for another year as this wine is still evolving. (ES)
89 SPERLING VINEYARDS CHARDONNAY 2012, OKANAGAN VALLEY ($26)
Lightly buttery citrus with a splash of vanilla on the nose and bright lemon citrus playing through on the palate, supported by focused minerality and lively crisp acidity. Finishes with long, clean citrus and a lightly accented trace of butterscotch. (SW)
89 MALIVOIRE WINE MOTTIAR CHARDONNAY 2012, BEAMSVILLE BENCH ($29.95)
Reminiscent of a top Puligny! The green apple, mineral and citrus on the nose meets up with smoky minerals, spice, vanilla and toast on the palate. Elegant and poised; there is sound acidity and great length. (ES)
89 MALIVOIRE WINE MOIRA CHARDONNAY 2011, BEAMSVILLE BENCH ($39.95)
Banana, peach, tutti frutti, cream, spice, honey and vanilla are present on a medium-bodied frame. The alcohol plays well on the palate with a creamy texture and excellent length, echoing spice, sweet corn and minerality. (ES)
88 MASTRONARDI CASA NOSTRA CHARDONNAY 2013, LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE ($12.95)
Pale straw in colour with a fresh apple and apple-blossom nose. It’s medium-bodied and dry with an apple flavour carried on fresh grapefruit acidity. (TA)
88 QUAILS’ GATE DRY RIESLING 2014, OKANAGAN ($17)
The deep-rooted 30-year-old vines along the slopes of Boucherie Mountain bring out a wet stone lick and mineral vein to carry the lime, tangerine, honeysuckle and peach flavours. Fragrant, juicy, refreshing and food-versatile now, but will also reward patience with added complexity in the years ahead. (HH)
88 TOWNSHIP 7 BLANC 2014, OKANAGAN ($17)
A blend of Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer with a touch of Muscat; the nose reveals peach, lime, lychee, pear, ginger and citrus. It’s soft and juicy on the palate, and dripping in ripe fruit with just a touch of sweetness. (RV)
88 CAVE SPRING RIESLING ESTATE BOTTLED, BEAMSVILLE BENCH ($17)
Sweet peach, white flowers, tutti frutti, spruce beer, orange rind and mineral jump off the nose and onto the palate. Off-dry, with crisp acidity and very good length, this
wine will partner brilliantly with a platter of sushi/sashimi or shrimp tacos. (ES)
88 THIRTY BENCH RIESLING 2014, NIAGARA ($19)
A nose that rocks with citrus, punctuated by lime followed by river-rock minerality and freshness. The palate shows apple, citrus with just a touch of sweetness that is polished and balanced. (RV)
88 MISSION HILL FAMILY ESTATES RESERVE PINOT GRIS 2013, OKANAGAN VALLEY ($20)
Very pure rendition of the grape showing aromatic floral blossom and stone fruit. Peach and apricot flavours come through cleanly, with good intensity, acidity and light minerality. (SW)
88 RIVER STONE PINOT GRIS 2014, OKANAGAN ($20)
A fresh, fruity, juicy style with hints of sweetness. Pear, honeydew melon and buttery macadamia nut permeates on both nose and palate. The 10% Gewürztraminer adds ginger spice notes from start to finish. A solid partner with cheese. (HH)
88 BURROWING OWL CHARDONNAY 2013, OKANAGAN ($25)
Assorted baking-related aromas and flavours such as apple pie, lemon custard, caramel tart and laced with vanilla and nutmeg hints. Citrusy acidity enlivens the rich texture, while toasty oak lingers through the finish. Pairs well with chicken pot pie. (HH)
88 LE CLOS JORDANNE VILLAGE RESERVE CHARDONNAY, NIAGARA ($30)
Starting to show mature notes of nuttiness and bruised apple that accompany the cream, lemon, green apple and mineral profile. Mid-weight and ready to drink. (ES)
87 QUAILS’ GATE CHASSELAS/ PINOT BLANC/PINOT GRIS 2014, OKANAGAN ($19)
The estate-grown Chasselas was their first vinifera varietal wine, and this light, refreshing, off-dry patio sipper has grown
to 17,500 cases. Brightly aromatic and mouthwatering, it’s punctuated by white flowers, pink grapefruit, honeysuckle and the crunch of a freshly-picked McIntosh apple. Drink up! (HH)
87 BURROWING OWL PINOT GRIS 2014, OKANAGAN ($20)
Aromas of earthy Bosc pear and fragrant lychee on the nose. Lively acidity supports savoury flavours of ripe pear, apple and toasted almond. Citrus peel and ginger spice linger on the finish. Pair with a vegetable frittata. (HH)
86 CAVE SPRING DRY RIESLING 2013, NIAGARA ($14.95)
Huge lime, mineral, orange peel and honey on the nose. It is mineral-driven and dry on the palate with a floral element lingering on the finish. (ES)
FRANCE 90 DOMAINE LOUIS MICHEL & FILS FORÊTS CHABLIS 2012, BURGUNDY ($39.95)
If you like your Chablis tasting like biting into a green apple, this is the wine for you. Pale straw in colour with a green tint. The nose is minerally, lemon and green apple. Medium-bodied and crisply dry, it has a long, zesty finish. (TA)
90 BACHELDER MARSANNAY CLOS DU ROY 2012, BURGUNDY ($43) Pale golden yellow. Beautiful nose, artfully oaked with pleasant citrus notes. Round and smooth on the palate, ripe fruity taste. Nice balance between the fine acidity and the oak, which brings richness and complexity. (GBQc)
89 CHÂTEAU RIVES-BLANQUES ODYSSÉE 2012, LIMOUX, LANGUEDOC ($24.25)
This pure Chardonnay wine has a pale golden yellow colour. The nose of ripe white fruits is an invitation to taste. Round, fruity, tender and ripe on the palate, it is charming and delicious right now, so don’t wait. (GBQc) DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 55
NOTED 89 CHÂTEAU DE CHAMIREY BLANC MERCUREY 2012, BURGUNDY ($29) Pale yellow. Delicate nose, citrus notes with floral hints hovering over a touch of oak and a slight mineral undertone. Round palate with a fatty texture, delicate acidity and just enough oak to add richness. Balanced finish. Age-worthy, it should be more expressive in 3 to 4 years. (GBQc)
87 MAISON THOMAS BASSOT 2013, MÂCON-VILLAGES ($28.84) Shows fresh green apple, lemon citrus character and medium weight on the well-balanced palate, finishing with clean acidity and a trace of hazelnut. Straightforward typical Maconnais style. (SW)
ITALY 90 E VON KELLER PINOT GRIGIO 2013, DOC ALTO ADIGE ($16.17)
Clear pale yellow. Fairly intense nose of peaches, apricots and McIntosh apple. Medium-bodied and surprisingly dry given the very fruity nose. Versatile food wine with fresh acidity and an interesting slightly bitter finish. Will last another year or 2. (RL)*
89 CASA VINICOLA S PIERSANTI VERDICCHIO DEI CASTELLI DI JESI CLASSICO 2013 ($12.50) Clear pale yellow. Faint nose of peach and melon. Light-bodied with lemon-lime flavours, a hint of cucumber and a crisp, minerally finish. Good as an apéritif or with a fatty fish like salmon. (RL)*
89 DECUGNANO VILLA BARBI ORVIETO 2013, UMBRIA ($13.15)
It’s a blend of Grechetto, Vermentino, Procanico and Chardonnay. Straw-coloured with a spicy, peach and green plum bouquet, the wine is medium-bodied, dry, with the flavour of passionfruit. A nicely balanced wine selling at an attractive price. (TA)
89 VILLA JOLANDA MOSCATO D’ASTI 2014, PIEMONTE ($14.95)
Lightly effervescent and low in alcohol, this wine is summer in a glass. Very
pale in colour, it has a bouquet of orange blossom and cardamom. The flavour is honeyed and grapey but balanced by fresh citrus acidity. (TA)
88 VELENOSI 2014, VERDICCHIO DI JESI ($16.79)
Opens with scents of green fruit with a light floral overtone and a hint of green herb. Luscious green and citrus flavours are backed by judiciously balanced acidity and gritty mineral with a subtle trace of almond. (SW)
88 TOLLOY PINOT GRIGIO 2014, SUDTIROL, ALTO ADIGE ($21.94)
Gentle floral and lemon citrus on the nose opening up with generous citrus and ripe, honeyed apple flavours with a touch of honey and lively acidity on the finish. (SW)
NEW ZEALAND 89 TE WHARE RA TORU 2014, MARLBOROUGH
A blend of Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris. Very pale in colour; almost water-white. (TA)
SOUTH AFRICA 88 TWO OCEANS MOSCATO 2014, WINE OF ORIGIN WESTERN CAPE ($12.49)
This Verdejo is straw-coloured with an intense, aromatic bouquet of apricots and elderberries. Medium-bodied, crisply dry wine with flavours of mandarin and lemon. The good news is the price. (TA)
UNITED STATES 88 ACRE TWENTY-ONE CHARDONNAY, 2013, COLUMBIA VALLEY, WASHINGTON STATE ($23.09) Aromatic yellow pear with subtle buttery notes evolving to ripe pear, green apple, a trace of banana and a lick of butterscotch, tempered by balancing acidity on the finish. (SW)
ROSÉ 90 TANTALUS ROSÉ 2014, OKANAGAN ($22)
A watermelon pink-hued 50/50 blend of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. More lean and minerally than the more robust style of previous years. Focused red apple and red berry character is amplified by the refreshing acidity, vibrant mouthfeel and mouth-cleansing finish. Pair with sockeye salmon. (HH)
88 RIVER STONE MALBEC ROSÉ 2014, OKANAGAN ($20)
A charming apéritif style. Scents of tropical flowers, tropical fruit and a whiff of grapefruit with delicate honeyed citrus flavour, refreshing acidity and a pleasant touch of sweetness on the finish. (SW)
This richly styled rose-coloured rosé serves up generous floral, red berry and black plum, and the tug of some light tannins too. Sourced from their Oliver estate and nearby vineyards, it includes mouthwatering 10% Pinot Gris. Well suited to a hamburger, roast beef sandwich or steak salad. (HH)
87 QUAILS’ GATE ROSÉ 2014, OKANAGAN ($18)
89 VICENTE GANDIA NEBLA VERDEJO 2014, RUEDA ($14.95)
Spanish red wines are all the rage now, but don’t forget about their whites. There are some really good-value white wines coming out from the Rueda region.
56 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
A dry, salmon-pink blend of Gamay (80%), Pinot Noir (10%) and Pinot Gris (10%). Feint floral aromas and peppery red-berry flavours accompany the watermelon juiciness and lingering pink grapefruit notes. A refreshing, colourful quaff for the holiday party season. (HH)
RED CANADA 93 STRATUS RED 2012, NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE ($44)
Quite possibly the best Stratus Red to date! A saturated ruby colour leads into a complex mix of blackberry, cassis, raspberry, cocoa, coconut, vanilla, violets, mint and pepper/anise. It is concentrated and long-lasting with sweet fruit on the mid-palate before the firm, dry tannins make an appearance. Hold for 4 years and then drink until 2025, preferably with a NY strip. A blend of all 3 Bordeaux varietals plus a smidge of Tannat. (ES)
91 BLACK HILLS CARMÉNÈRE 2013, OKANAGAN ($50)
One of the few Carménères grown in Canada, and a magnificent one at that. Dense purple in colour with a nose of creamy oak, blackberries and white pepper. Full-bodied blueberry and blackcurrant fruit; well balanced with lively acidity. Will work well with smoked bacon. Yes, I said it. (TA)
90 CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES GAMAY NOIR DROIT 2012, NIAGARA ($17)
A Gamay that hits all the right notes with juicy plum, smoke, anise, cherry and lovely savoury/earthy bits on the nose. It’s pure fruit pleasure on the palate with cherry, plum and spice, and a finish that’s smooth and vibrant. Try with panko-crusted turkey scallops. (RV)
90 BURROWING OWL CABERNET FRANC 2012, OKANAGAN ($33) Cab Franc continues to excel in the southern Okanagan. Fragrant violet aromas lure, while ripe, black-fruit flavours impress. Polished tannins elegantly frame the rich, full-bodied palate. Spicy dried herbs resonate on the long, warm finish. Pairs well with tomato-based meat stews. (HH)
90 JOIEFARM EN FAMILLE RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2012, OKANAGAN ($40)
Complex aromas feature game meat, woodsy forest, earthy spice and roast coffee. Their most robust edition to date, with rich blackcurrant, wild berries and meaty notes. Finishes with lingering liquorice and minerality. Needs another year or 2 to soften the muscular tannins. (HH)
89 MALIVOIRE WINE GAMAY 2014, NIAGARA ($17.95)
89 RIVER STONE CABERNET FRANC 2013, OKANAGAN ($26)
Sourced from 12-year-old River Rock Vineyard vines and matured 14 months in French oak, 1/3 new. More restrained and balanced than recent vintages, so look for generous blueberry and red fruits, medium body, supple tannins and lingering cedar. Drinking deliciously now. (HH)
89 CAVE SPRING CABERNET FRANC ESTATE BOTTLED 2012, NIAGARA ($29.95)
Wowser — delicious Gamay alert! Juicy yet concentrated; the raspberry cream, strawberry, dried herbs and white pepper are just magic in the glass. With all of its upfront flash, it is ready to drink, with or without food. (ES)
A rather hefty and complex Franc with smoke, cassis, raspberry, cedar, graphite, black olive, violets and vanilla. Still grippy on the palate; I suggest holding it for another 12 months and then drinking it until 2020. Pair with espresso-rubbed steaks. (ES)
89 HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE CABERNET/MERLOT 2010, SHORT HILLS BENCH ($24.95)
89 MALIVOIRE STOUCK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011, LINCOLN LAKESHORE ($29.95)
From a great red wine vintage comes this maturing Bordeaux blend. Cedar, cassis, raspberry, herbs/tobacco, dark cocoa and dried violet are all on a medium-body frame. Still somewhat tannic, so drink or hold until 2020. (ES)
89 WAYNE GRETZKY ESTATE SERIES SHIRAZ/CABERNET 2013, NIAGARA ($25)
The 78% Syrah dominates on the nose with smoky/white-pepper notes followed by cherry, anise and oak spices. The palate shows ripe cherry, plums and blackcurrants with peppery spices and a smooth delivery through the finish. (RV)
89 SPERLING VINEYARDS PINOT NOIR 2013, OKANAGAN VALLEY ($26)
Opens with aromatic fresh cherry, cinnamon and a whiff of vanilla. Reveals lively Burgundian style cherry character backed by fine velvety tannins and still youthful acidity on the palate. Lively fresh cherry replays on the finish. Not overstated, food-friendly, simple elegant wine. (SW)
Made from 27-year-old vines, this wine features a black colour with a ruby rim. Aged for 18 months in new French oak, it displays a perfume of lilac, barbecue spice, cassis, raspberry, dark cocoa and vanilla. Elegant in the mouth with great length and fine-grained tannins; steak was made for this wine. (ES)
89 BURROWING OWL PINOT NOIR 2013, OKANAGAN ($30)
The very fragrant bouquet of cherry, raspberry and cinnamon becomes stylistically richer on the palate. Firm acidity, lively texture and fine tannins make for a well-balanced palate. Those red fruits plus sassafras notes just keep on giving on the juicy finish. A prime partner for all manner of poultry. (HH)
89 MALIVOIRE WINE MOTTIAR PINOT NOIR, BEAMSVILLE BENCH ($35)
Medium ruby in colour with a bouquet of sweet cherry, black raspberry, spice, dried earth, violets and anise. Good depth, with a fruit-driven palate that reciprocates what is found on the nose. Nice freshness, suave tannins and ready to drink. Serve with confit de canard. (ES) DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 57
NOTED 88 PELLER ESTATES PRIVATE RESERVE GAMAY NOIR 2013, NIAGARA ($19)
A smoky nose that opens up to raspberry bush, plum and maraschino cherry notes. It’s bright and fresh on the palate with mid-weight and a basket of red fruit flavours. (RV)
88 CAVE SPRING CABERNET FRANC 2013, NIAGARA ESCARPMENT ($19.95)
From a cool vintage, this wine achieved an impressive natural alcohol of 14.5%. A combination of cassis, raspberry, fresh herbs/mint, smoke, vanilla and anise are featured. On the attack, the initial perception is that of sweet/ripe fruit, before turning elegant, and finishing with fine-grained tannins. Drink over the next 3 to 4 years. (ES)
88 SOUTHBROOK TRIOMPHE CABERNET FRANC 2013, NIAGARA ($21) Here you will find a refined Franc with cassis, redcurrant, raspberry, herbs, lavender and smoke qualities. Mid-weight, there is bright acid, supple tannins and a great finale. Ready to go. (ES)
88 CAVE SPRING PINOT NOIR DOLOMITE 2013, NIAGARA ESCARPMENT ($23.95)
Very Côte de Beaune with all of its strawberry, cherry, iron, red flowers, spice and cocoa flavours. There is considerable refinement with fresh acidity and soft tannins rounding out this medium-bodied wine. Ready to drink. (ES)
88 MALIVOIRE WINE CABERNET FRANC 2013, CREEK SHORES ($25) Sings Cabernet Franc on the nose: smoky tobacco, herbs, cassis, redcurrant and graphite. Dark cocoa chimes in on the palate, with moderate tannins and fine length. Ratatouille or spaghetti would be heavenly pairings. (ES)
88 DIPROFIO WINES HUGHES VINEYARD HARD FOUGHT PINOT NOIR 2012, NIAGARA ($25)
This shows a nose of cherry, violets, miner-
als, cranberry and nicely integrated spice notes. I like the savoury and tart cherry, bramble and peppery notes on the palate all lifted by bright acidity and carried by fine tannins through the finish. (RV)
88 MALIVOIRE WINE COURTNEY GAMAY 2013, NIAGARA ($25.95)
Somewhat tight; earth, roasted herbs, vanilla, black pepper, dark raspberry, sweet strawberry and red flowers reveal themselves. Splendid length. Drink over the next 2 to 3 years. (ES)
88 QUAILS’ GATE PINOT NOIR 2013, OKANAGAN ($28)
The well-drained 20-year-plus vines grow on volcanic soil, conferring complexity. Opens with bright cherry, earthy forest floor and allspice that carry through the medium-bodied palate. Supple tannins linger along with notes of raspberry and rosemary. Grilled sausages would be a pleasing pairing. (HH)
88 BURROWING OWL SYRAH 2012, OKANAGAN ($33)
Engaging scents of violets, black olive, cracked pepper and bacon. Rich flavours of ripe blueberry, black cherry and liquorice, supported by firm acidity and well-structured tannins. Lingering mint and chocolate notes. Poised for lamb. (HH)
87 PELEE ISLAND PRIVATE SELECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010, VQA ONTARIO ($20)
Clear deep garnet. Fresh-smelling nose of cassis and blackberry, some green stems and coffee in the background, opens up in the glass to stewed fruit. Very fruity on the palate: cherry and cranberry flavours with good acidity. Alcohol only 12.5% but noticeable, medium-strength tannins leave a long and drying finish. Drink now with venison and cranberry sausage and a beet-leaf risotto. (RL)*
86 HAT TRICK CABERNET/MERLOT 2014, ONTARIO ($14.95) The NHL Alumni Association has partnered with Colio Estates to produce the newest edition of this wine. Easy-drink-
58 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
ing, it doles out cassis, plum, herbs and vanilla. Grab some pizza or pasta, crack open the bottle and watch your favorite team play on Saturday nights. (ES)
86 CAVE SPRING GAMAY 2013, NIAGARA ($15.95)
A rather pleasing Gamay that will multitask with different menu items: pasta, pizza, charcuterie and grilled sausage. Put a slight chill to it and enjoy all the juicy strawberry and cherry flavours that work alongside black pepper, biscuit and herbal elements. (ES)
86 BLOMIDON ESTATE WINERY MARECHAL FOCH 2010, NOVA SCOTIA ($35)
Good depth of red and dark berry fruit on the nose with tarry, lightly smoky notes, a splash of vanillin and dark chocolate. Blackcurrant and bitter dark cherry kick in on the palate with forward acidity and firm dry tannic grip. (SW)
CHILE 88 VENTISQUERO ROOT 1 CARMÉNÈRE, COLCHAGUA VALLEY ($12.95)
I’m a fan of Chile’s Carménère, the grape previously mistaken for Merlot until DNA tasting showed it was the rare Bordeaux variety. Deep ruby colour, the wine has a smoky, cedary, blackberry nose with hints of vanilla oak and pencil lead. It’s mouth-filling with sweet blackcurrant and plum flavours, soft tannins and bright acidity; it also has an intriguing coffee note on the finish. (TA)
87 CONCHA Y TORO CASILLERO DEL DIABLO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, VALLE CENTRAL ($13.99)
Typical Chilean Cabernet aromatic profile offers piquant blackcurrant and fresh green herb with ripe background blackberry. Sweet ripe blackberry leads on the palate, with rounded tannins, clean, well-balanced acidity and a splash of dark chocolate. (SW)
FRANCE 91 LES VINS DE VIENNE L’ARZELLE SAINT–JOSEPH 2011, RHÔNE ($37.95)
Dense purple colour with a herbal, blackberry and smoked-meat nose; medium- to full-bodied, fruity, dry and savoury; well balanced with great length. (TA)
91 CAMILLE GIROUD BEAUNE 1ER CRU LES AVAUX 2012, BURGUNDY ($65)
Pale ruby. Seductive nose of small red fruits with a touch of spice from the oak. Fresh attack, clean taste, supple yet firm tannins. Long, balanced finish. (GBQc)
90 CHÂTEAU RELAIS DE LA POSTE 2012, CÔTES DE BOURG AC ($23.99)
Proffers rather complex, refined ripe blackcurrant, redcurrant, a touch of green herb, cinnamon, clove, vanilla and mocha on the nose. Rounded blackberry and blackcurrant flavours with velvety smooth tannins, good balancing acidity and a splash of dark chocolate complete the picture, making this a delicious, approachable wine. (SW)
90 CHÂTEAU DE LA RIVIÈRE 2009, FRONSAC ($34.95)
Dense purple colour with a nose of cedar, creamy oak and vanilla — oak that’s masking the fruit at the moment, but it’s there just waiting to express itself. Medium-bodied, dry, firmly structured with black fruit flavours that are almost Syrah-like. (TA)
90 CHÂTEAU BARET 2009, PESSAC-LÉOGNAN ($36.95)
Dense purple colour with a bouquet of cedar, spicy plum and currants. Medium- to full-bodied, dry, well balanced with a firm tannic finish. Needs 3 to 4 years. (TA)
90 JEAN-CLAUDE BOISSET ALOXE-CORTON LES VALOZIÈRES 1ER CRU 2012, BURGUNDY ($75)
Pale ruby. Fine nose of red fruits, typical of Pinot Noir with well-dosed oak notes.
Nice freshness; the fruity taste is ripe and sweet. Medium bodied with good extraction. A fine wine, delicious now and over the next 3 to 5 years. (GBQc)
concentration and a long aftertaste will allow this wine to age until 2022. (ES)
87 CHÂTEAU CASTENET 2011, BORDEAUX SUPÉRIEUR AC ($19.99)
Another great performance from Sigalas! This single-vineyard Assyrtiko, made from vines over 50 years old, spent 18 months on its lees so as to give more complexity. It pumps out massive quantities of peach, pear, honey, white flowers, oregano, citrus and volcanic minerals. Full bodied; there is brisk acidity and great length, ensuring 7 to 8 years of cellaring. (ES)
Characteristic Bordeaux-style scents of earthy plum, green herb, a touch of clove, and blackcurrant. Blackcurrant, black plum and bitter cherry provide the dominant flavours, supported by balanced acidity and moderately dry tannic grip. (SW)
86 JEAN-MAURICE RAFFAULT 2013, AC CHINON, VALLE DE LOIRE ($19.29)
Red cherry and leafy green herb on the nose with choke cherry and black cherry flavours, brisk acidity and firm tannic bite on the palate. Authentic cool-climate Loire red. (SW)
GERMANY 93 CLEMENS BUSCH MARIENBURG KABINETT RIESLING 2013, MOSEL ($28.95)
This is old-style German wine at its most exuberant. Very pale straw in colour with a green tint, it offers a lovely bouquet of apricot and honey with a mineral note. Flavours of sweet grapefruit and honey dance on the palate. Beautifully balanced with great length. A seamless wine. (TA)
GREECE 90 ESTATE ARGYROS ASSYRTIKO 2014, SANTORINI ($25)
Every sip of this wine evokes memories of whitewashed homes, azure waters, bucket-list sunsets and the freshest seafood possible. The average age of the vines used in the production of this wine were 150 years and because of this, it churns out a complex mix of white peach, banana, toast, mineral, lemon and apple. High acidity, great
90 DOMAINE SIGALAS KAVALIEROS 2013, SANTORINI ($31)
ITALY 92 CORDERO DI MONTEZEMOLO BAROLO RISERVA GORETTE 2009, PIEDMONT ($80) Hugely aromatic with cherry, plum, vanilla, earth, rose, spice and cocoa. Concentrated on the palate with magnificent length and at least 2+ decades of life ahead. (ES)
92 RIVETTO DAL 1902 BAROLO RISERVA LEON 2009, PIEDMONT ($80)
A Barolo that leans towards the oldschool style. Tar, dried earth, dried cherry, dried rose, spice, cocoa are all present. On the palate, the fruit still shows sweetness along with enough tannins that will ensure 20 years of longevity. (ES)
92 ODDERO PODERI E CANTINE BAROLO RISERVA BUSSIA VIGNA MONDOCA 2009, PIEDMONT ($100)
A powerful Barolo from the village of Monforte d’Alba. It features a complex personality of cherry, plum, earth, spice, cocoa, chicken broth and dried rose. Full bodied with a long tannic finish, it has at least 20 years of life ahead. (ES)
92 AZELIA BAROLO SAN ROCCO 2005, PIEDMONT ($145)
Still quite structured with dark fruit, earth and spice; bright acidity. Full-bodDECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 59
NOTED ied with powerful, chewy tannins and a dense depth of character, long, solid and powerful with the ability to age for several more years. Quite wonderful. (GB)
92 PAOLO SCAVINO BAROLO RISERVA ROCCHE DELL’ANNUNZIATA 2009, PIEDMONT ($150)
An impressive Barolo that combines ripeness and judicious new oak. Dark in colour, there is ripe cherry, plum, spice, cocoa and rose. Nice weight, suave tannins and excellent persistency. It will only get better with time. (ES)
91 CINCIANO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2012, DOCG ($20.33)
Clear medium-deep garnet. The nose is faint, but one can smell tart cherries and raspberries, raw tobacco and a bit of green tomato. On the palate, it is medium-bodied, sophisticated and well-balanced with cherry and plum aromas accompanied by soft tannins. Ready to drink now. (RL)*
91 AZELIA BAROLO BRICCO FIASCO 2011, PIEDMONT ($115)
Aromatic and expressive aromas of dark fruit, plum, liquorice and earth, quite mouth-filling and structured, yet elegant and restrained with firm tannins, bright acidity and a long, slightly ripe and soft finish. Begs for roasted game. (GB)
91 AZELIA BAROLO SAN ROCCO 2011, PIEDMONT ($115)
Deep and dark nose with aromas and flavours of black cherry, liquorice, wild herbs and spice with a tight core, voluminous mouthfeel, focused acidity and an intense finish. Structured, yet still elegant and approachable. Needs a little time to integrate. (GB)
90 AZIENDA LOGONOVO DI ELSBETH MEINEN LOGONOVO 2011, IGT TOSCANA ($31.50)
Full ruby. Clean, precise nose of red fruits and dried herbs with a vegetal touch that is more apparent on the palate without being excessive. Medium bodied, well balanced, fine tannins. Well done! (GBQc)
90 AZELIA BAROLO BRICCO FIASCO 1997, PIEDMONT ($135)
Quite remarkable how well this wine has aged. Lovely, pretty and elegant with perfumed aromas of dried roses and violets, earth, tobacco and spice, soft tannins, silky mouthfeel and flavourful finish. The length is just starting to shorten a touch, but the wine is still quite focused and delicious. Drink now with a simple mushroom risotto. (GB)
89 PRUNOTTO MOMPERTONE 2012, MONFERRATO, PIEMONTE ($19)
Full ruby with a purplish rim. Dark fruits (black cherry, blackberry) and soft spicy notes in the Syrah-dominated nose. Soft and round texture; the fleshy fruit softens the finely grained tannins in the warm finish. Ready to drink. (GBQc)
89 DI MAJO NORANTE RAMITOLLO 2011, BIFERNO ROSSO ($21.99) Rather complex interplay of developed fruit, spice and fine oak on the nose with good depth of dark cherry and plum supported by velvety tannins, well-balanced acidity and a splash of dark chocolate in the mouth. (SW)
89 AZELIA BAROLO 2004, PIEDMONT ($75)
Aged well and is still showing good fruit and firm tannins; pretty and focused with dried flowers, tar and earth. Elegant and slightly chewy with a long finish. Would pair well with lamb ossobucco. (GB)
89 AZELIA BAROLO BRICCO FIASCO 1999, PIEDMONT ($135)
Aged elegantly and is still showing some mature, dark, slightly juicy fruit; grippy tannins, earth, tobacco, mineral and lifted acidity. Definitely drinking well now, but still has a few good years. Nice match with aged cheese or bollito misto. (GB)
88 CARPINETO DOGAJOLO 2013, IGT TOSCANA ($16)
Purplish ruby. Inviting nose of small red fruits (raspberry, cherry) and oak that is more guessed than actually smelled.
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Fruity taste, supple texture, medium body with balanced acidity and a round finish. Nothing complex, but very enjoyable right now. (GBQc)
88 VELENOSI IL BRECCIAROLO 2013, ROSSO PICENO SUPERIORE DOC ($16.79)
Spicy cherry and plum scents shift to appetizing, lightly bitter cherry flavours with moderate tannins, food-friendly acidity and a touch of chocolate. Finishes very dry. (SW)
88 AZELIA BAROLO 2011, PIEDMONT ($63)
Pretty, fresh, expressive and approachable with cherry and raspberry fruit, fresh herbs, elegant tannins and pleasant acidity. Drinking well and should continue to drink well for several years, but may not have longevity beyond a decade. Great restaurant wine as it is quite enjoyable now. (GB)
87 BOUTINOT 2012, BARBERA DA VINE DOC PIEMONTE ($16.29)
Shows good Barbera varietal style with scents of plum, cherry, cinnamon and a whiff of herb. Typical high acidity with bitter cherry and dark plum on the medium-weight palate. (SW)
86 BEL COLLE BARBARESCO DOCG 2008 ($28.17)
Clear medium-deep garnet, beginning to brown. Medium-intensity nose of raspberry, leather and a hint of wintergreen. Medium-bodied, in good balance with red berries, plums and prunes followed by a slightly bitter, long finish. Fruit is fading; drink up. Look for a lamb with marinaded grilled vegetables recipe online. It will be worth it. (RL)*
86 AZELIA BAROLO MARGHERIA 2003, PIEDMONT ($115)
Kirsch-ish on the nose and quite evolved showing dried mushrooms, tar and earth; soft tannins and slightly astringent. A good effort from a very hot and challenging vintage, but definitely drink now as it is on the decline. (GB)
SOUTH AFRICA 89 BOEKENHOUTSKLOOF PORCUPINE RIDGE SYRAH 2014, FRANSCHHOEK ($14.95)
Every new vintage, I try to pick up a bottle of the great-value Boekenhoutskloof Porcupine Ridge Syrah. The 2014 vintage is a deep ruby colour with a violet rim. It offers a nose of smoked meat with herbal and blackberry notes. The well-balanced and lingering flavour is rich and savoury with blackberry, dark chocolate and iodine notes. Perfect for barbecued meats. (TA)
88 FAIRVIEW GOATS IN VILLAGES SHIRAZ/PINOTAGE 2012, PAARL ($12.95)
The winery has a goat tower on its property, and they have a lot of fun naming their Rhône-style wines, punning on French appellations: Goats do Roam, Goat-Roti and this wine, Goats in Villages Shiraz/Pinotage. Dense purple-ruby colour, it has a cedary, oaky, herbal nose with black liquorice notes. It’s medium-bodied and dry, with plum and liquorice flavours, and lively acidity. (TA)
UNITED STATES 95 CASTORO CELLARS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011, PASO ROBLES ($18)
Clear, very deep plum red. On the nose, there are blackberry and blackcurrant aromas accompanied by stewed fruits and grilled meat. Full-bodied with more juicy blackberry and cassis flavours in the mouth; well-balanced by the acidity and tannins. (RL)*
91 THE HILT THE VANGUARD PINOT NOIR 2012, SANTA RITA HILLS ($64.95)
Costly, but what a tasty wine! Deep purple-ruby in colour with a nose of forest floor and black raspberry backed by spicy oak. Full bodied and mouth-filling with sweet fruit and a firm structure. Not for the faint of heart (or wallet). (TA)
91 INGLENOOK RUBICON 2011, RUTHERFORD, NAPA ($250)
Deep, rich and concentrated, loaded with pure blackberry, black cherry, dark, toasty oak, tobacco and spice; tight mid-palate, but gains more depth and length on the long, layered finish as it opens in the glass. Perhaps a touch heavy-handed on the new oak, but overall quite an elegant and impressive wine. (GB)
90 GUNDLACH BUNDSCHU MERLOT 2011, SONOMA ($39.95)
A Merlot of consequence here. Deep ruby colour with a blueberry and blackcurrant nose enhanced with smoky vanilla oak. Full bodied, dry and elegant, the wine is firmly structured with a tannic lift on the finish. Needs a couple of years in the cellar. (TA)
90 GRGICH HILLS ESTATE GROWN ZINFANDEL 2011, NAPA ($49.95)
This is a big Zin. Deep ruby in colour with a peppery, black-plum nose and notes of leather and oak. Dry, firmly structured with earthy red berry and plum flavours; firmly structured, well balanced and elegant in a fleshy way. (TA)
89 CHATEAU STE MICHELLE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012, WASHINGTON ($19.95)
This Washington State Cab is dense ruby in colour with that characteristic Cabernet nose of blackcurrant, cedar and vanilla oak. It’s medium-bodied, dry and well structured with good fruit intensity on the mid-palate. (TA)
DESSERT 92 MESSIAS COLHEITA PORT 2005, PORTUGAL ($24.95)
A Colheita is a Single Vintage Tawny Port, which by law must age a minimum of 7 years in wood before being released to the marketplace. This wine really overdelivers for the price, especially considering it is a full-size bottle. The brick-red
colour leads to a combination of prunes, dried raspberry, dried flowers, spice and hazelnut. Smooth with a long aftertaste and well balanced. (ES)
92 CAVE SPRING RIESLING ICEWINE 2013, NIAGARA ($49.95)
Always one of Niagara’s star Riesling Icewines. Peach, apricot, lime, apple juice, pink grapefruit and smoky minerals are all in play. The tension between the sweetness and acidity is brilliant, and there is sublime length. No need for dessert with this beauty! (ES)
92 PEDRO XIMÉNEZ LA CAÑADA, MONTILLA-MORILES, SPAIN ($64.95)
Produced in a solera and bottled after 25 years, this is a remarkable dessert wine. Dark brown in colour with an olive-green rim, it smells of molasses. Sweet, unctuous and soft on the palate, there’s an intense honeyed sweetness mixed with flavours of coffee beans and toast. (TA)
91 IROQUOIS SHORES ESTATES HUGHES VINEYARD AMBRIA VIN DE CURE RIESLING 2010, NIAGARA ($25/375 ML)
This sweet dessert wine is a hybrid of Icewine and a vin de cure (drying method). It’s perfectly mature with a nose of wild honey, marmalade, candied citrus, peach, dried apricot and roasted almonds. It is thick, unctuous and luxurious on the palate with spiced wild honeycomb, compoted peach, apricot, caramel and toffee/nutty notes. (RV)
91 GRAHAM’S QUINTA DOS MALVEDOS VINTAGE PORT 2004, PORTUGAL ($29.95/375 ML)
With the cold nights now upon us, there is nothing quite as satisfying and cathartic as a glass of Port in front of a roaring fireplace. Black as night, this single Quinta (farm/vineyard) Vintage Port is concentrated with masses of cassis, plum, kirsch, violets, mint and dark cocoa. It will evolve nicely over the next 15 years. Superb value! (ES) DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 61
90 PELLER ESTATES ICE CUVÉE, NIAGARA PENINSULA ($34.95)
The dosage for this wine is Cabernet Franc and Vidal Icewine. Pale pink colour with a nose of redcurrants and watermelon. Off-dry, strawberry flavour, well-structured with good length. (TA)
BEER TYSKIE BEER, POLAND ($2.45/500 ML)
BOWMORE 15 YEAR OLD DARKEST, SCOTLAND ($95.95) A rich, delicious dram from Islay’s oldest licensed distillery. Dark chocolate, dried fruit and pervasive funk with a slightly disorienting freshness, like cucumber or melon. Preserved cherries and bitter cocoa on the palate along with charred marshmallows. The overall experience is like chewing on fruit-studded spice cake that was left to season overnight in the bog. Truly weird in a good way. (SP)
Brewed in Poland by Kompania Piwowarska, Tyskie is a lager with a slightly fruity nose that also shows some malty/grainy/lightly hoppy nose. Very fresh and crisp with a smooth, clean, mildly grassy palate and some grainy, gently hoppy notes on the finish with a hint of earthiness. Fairly full-bodied, but still refreshing and clean. (TS)
BUNNAHABHAIN 18 YEAR OLD ISLAY SINGLE MALT, SCOTLAND ($149.95/700 ML)
KNOWLEDGE SPRING BREWERY, TIMOTHY TAYLOR’S LANDLORD CLASSIC PALE ALE, KEIGHLEY, WEST YORKSHIRE, UK ($3.49/500 ML)
RON BARCELO IMPERIAL PREMIUM BLEND 30TH ANNIVERSARY RUM, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ($120)
This Yorkshire classic ale offers nutty malt aromas with slightly yeasty and green hop scents. Broad, mouth-filling rich malty flavour with creamy smoothness culminates in a nutty dry finish perfectly balanced by a refreshingly clean kick of minty hops. (SW)
SPIRITS LAPHROAIG CAIRDEAS, SCOTLAND ($100)
The limited-release Cairdeas, meaning “friendship” in Gaelic, is mellowed in the distillery’s oldest warehouse, which dates back to the mid-1800s. The whisky rests just short of 12 years, partially in Amontillado casks, in a consistently cool, damp climate and emerges fresh and outdoorsy, smelling of smoke and seawater, tangerines, green melon, charred oak, cinnamon and soap. On the palate, it’s full and deeply peated with vanilla, salted mango and hints of melon. (SP)
A smooth and impressive unseated Islay malt with aromas of candied ginger and orange peel, honey and nuts. Fresh and complex, tasting of cactus pears, salted toffee, exotic spices and again, a distinctive nuttiness. (SP)
From a limited release of just 9,000 bottles, this Dominican rum is packed with character. Aromas of vanilla custard, apricots and leather with an underlying freshness suggestive of green leaves. Flavours of figs, sultanas, vanilla and spice. Long and creamy without any heaviness. (SP)
GREEN SPOT, IRELAND ($85.25/700 ML)
Aromas of malting room, tangy orchard fruit, honey and lemon with vegetal overtones. A generous, creamy palate of vanilla sugar and spice-stuffed apples with an elegant woodiness. (SP)
BRUICHLADDICH BLACK ART 4.1, SCOTLAND ($350.15)
This lavish, brooding whisky is the outcome of recently retired Master Distiller Jim McEwan’s playful experiments with wine-barrel aging. A rich and expressive nose of currants, dates and sultanas wrapped in vanilla and spice, like whisky-soaked Christmas cake. Tastes like total indulgence: wine and chocolate with a fruity core reminiscent
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of cognac and honeyed toast sprinkled with nuts. The finish is marathon-long. At 50% ABV, it’s a powerful dram best appreciated with a spot of water. (SP)
REMY MARTIN VSOP FINE CHAMPAGNE COGNAC, FRANCE ($89.95)
A blend of eau de vie from Grand and Petite Champagne aged between 4 and 12 years, this popular VSOP is medium-bodied and energetic with aromas of ripe pear, citrus zest, vanilla and oak. A honeyed palate of orchard fruit and orange peel leads to a spicy, drawnout finish. (SP)
AUCHENTOSHAN 12 YEAR OLD, SCOTLAND ($59.95)
Triple-distilled, which is uncommon for a single malt Scotch whisky, this is a trim, delicate Lowland whisky. Roasted almonds and toffee on the nose thanks to partial aging in oloroso butts, along with citrus peel (lemon and lime) and raspberry leaf. Smooth, citric and gingery; there’s a burst of sweetness before it dries right out on the finish. (SP)
CONNEMARA PEATED SINGLE MALT, IRELAND ($55.15/700 ML)
Assertive and peated (which is relatively uncommon for an Irish whiskey) with aromas of baked goods like banana bread and hot cross buns wrapped in sweet peat. Nutty, smooth, smoky and long in the mouth. Makes a surprising Old Fashioned. (SP)
KNOB CREEK RYE, UNITED STATES ($54.85)
Surprisingly delicate on the nose considering the proof (100) with whiffs of ripe peach, rye grain, herbs and oak. Warm and spicy on the palate, full of toasty oak and vanilla. (SP)
SILO RESERVE GIN, VERMONT, UNITED STATES ($50)
You’d think that a barrel aged gin would be all kinds of wrong but I was slightly — only slightly — surprised by the soft touch of smoky oak. Notes of baked apple, indian spices and honey on the palate. It’s a bit of a gimmick, but you might want to try it in a martini. (JS)
WELL NOTED 93 PEARL MORISSETTE CABERNET FRANC CUVÉE MADELEINE 2012, NIAGARA ($35)
Winemaker Francois Morissette may be exaggerating a touch when he says this vintage of his head-turning Cab Franc has the potential to age for 40 years, but he may not be far off. What a beauty! Pretty notes of black cherry, crunchy raspberry, cassis and subtle, ingrained barrel spice. It is seductive — enthralling, in fact, on the palate — with a richness that is hard to describe. Such depth of the cherry, anise and smoky spices with a firm bed of tannins and luxurious feel through the long, silky finish. (RV)
91 JOIEFARM THE PURE GRAPE MUSCAT 2014, OKANAGAN ($23)
Sourced from their Naramata estate vineyard and picked from 2 acres planted with Yellow Muscat grapes. Smells like a grape. Tastes like a grape. So, it must be … a Muscat grape, which is why owner Heidi Noble calls it “The Pure Grape.” It’s very fresh, fruity, juicy and spicy too. I call it “Muscat love.” (HH)
94 CHÂTEAU BASTOR-LAMONTAGNE 2004, AC SAUTERNES, FRANCE ($32.50)
Clear, deep old brass. The nose of honey, caramel-apple and noble rot goes on forever. Full-bodied, palate-coating; tastes of apricot-pineapple marmalade with a long finish and enough acidity to keep it interesting. Ready to drink now, won’t get better. (RL)*
90 GEHRINGER BROTHERS DRY ROCK VINEYARDS CABERNET/ MERLOT 2013, OKANAGAN ($19.95) Gehringer Brothers is one of the oldest family-run estates in the Okanagan Valley. Its deep ruby colour speaks to well-extracted fruit. The nose is all red and blackcurrants with oak spice and a floral grace note; it’s medium-bodied, dry with spicy currant flavours and a hint of clove on the finish. (TA)
CASA LOLEA ORIGINAL LOLEA NO.3, SPAIN ($15)
Spain’s ubiquitous party punch gets an upscale treatment with Lolea No.3, a relatively dry sangria bianca in an eye-catching package that follows on the heels of the red No.1 and sweeter white No.2. Made with white wine, wild apple and elderflower, it shows aromas of flower blossom, peach, green apple and vanilla. Lightly carbonated, it’s crisp and refreshingly balanced with flavours of white peach, granny smith apple and a touch of cinnamon. Try adding mint leaves and lime to up the refreshment quotient even further. (TS)
92 VREDE ANDREA 2010, STELLENBOSCH, SOUTH AFRICA ($21.17)
A “Cape Blend” featuring 33% Pinotage. Clear, medium-deep plum red tipping to garnet. Fairly intense nose of blackberry, musky grapes, oak and dates. Juicy mouthful with the animal tang of the Pinotage grapes and tart blueberries, lively acidity and soft tannins with chocolate on a long finish. Spicy, wild flavours go well with Chinese 5-spice duck and veggies stir-fried in sesame oil. (RL)*
92 AZELIA BAROLO MARGHERIA 2011, PIEDMONT, ITALY ($115)
Structured and dense with a huge core of penetrating cherry and plum flavours and hints of tobacco, mineral and spice. Tightly packed mid-palate with firm tannins, but still possesses loads of fresh fruit to give it a vibrant approachability and bright finish. Should cellar well for 10 to 12 years. (GB)
89 CHÂTEAU DU BOIS CHANTANT CUVÉE LAURENCE H 2012, BORDEAUX, FRANCE ($18.95)
Bordeaux reds can be costly, but here’s one that is really well priced and will round out with 2 to 3 years of cellaring. This wine is dense purple in colour with a nose of blackcurrant, cedar and spicy oak. It’s medium-bodied and still tight, but some bottle age will soften its tannins. It’s the perfect wine for lamb. (TA)
DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 63
DAVINE BY GURVINDER BHATIA
THE JUDGMENT OF BC 15 YEARS AGO,it was unlikely that many would even dream that Syrah grown in British Columbia could help draw international attention to the province’s burgeoning wine industry. In fact, beyond Pinot Noir, many questioned the ability of BC producers to grow reds worthy of any attention beyond a novelty interest. Having judged at Canadian wine competitions for more than a decade, I’ve had the opportunity to taste the evolution of our country’s wines and, for the past several years, BC Syrah has shone. The wines are fresh, elegant, nuanced, fruit-driven, peppery, meaty, expressive and reflective of the sunny, savoury southern Okanagan and Similkameen Valley. Much of this is due to the region’s abundance of sunlight hours during the growing season and significant diurnal temperature fluctuation. The grape’s ability to express the diversity of terroir that exists in the province is also becoming more evident. I also recently tasted a remarkably well-made Syrah from Kelowna produced by Quails’ Gate. Most would presume it to be too cold to ripen the grape in the northern part of the Okanagan, but the winery has a specific site adjacent to the lake that acts as a tempering factor, creating a microclimate seemingly well suited for the variety. The quality of the province’s Syrah was reinforced earlier this year at the “Judgment of BC” tasting in Vancouver, organized by the British Columbia Wine Institute (BCWI) in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of BC VQA (Vintner’s Quality Alliance, which ensures, among other things, that wines bearing the insignia are made with 100 percent BCgrown grapes). Six BC Syrahs and six Chardonnays were tasted blind with an equivalent number of acknowledged international benchmarks. While BC Syrah excelled, the province’s Chardonnays did not fare as well. British wine critic Steven Spurrier, consulting editor to Decanter Magazine, chair of the Decanter World Wine Awards and organizer of the 1976 Judgment of Paris (depicted in the movie Bottle Shock), tasted the wines along with 16 Canadian judges, myself included. Remarkably (or not), BC Syrah finished first, fourth and fifth, reinforcing what some of us already suspected … its quality is comparable to the best in the world. 64 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
SYRAH RESULTS: •• CC Jentsch Syrah 2013, Okanagan Valley, BC •• Langmeil Shiraz Orphan Bank 2012, Barossa Valley, Australia •• Domaine Vincent Paris Cornas Granit 60 2013, Rhône Valley, France •• Nichol Syrah 2012, Okanagan Valley, BC •• Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Classique 2013, Okanagan Valley, BC •• Ojai Syrah 2011, Santa Barbara, California •• Jackson-Triggs Shiraz Sunrock 2010, Okanagan Valley, BC •• Orofino Syrah Scout Vineyard 2012, Similkameen Valley, BC •• JL Chave Selections Crozes-Hermitage Silene 2012, Rhône Valley, France •• Tyrrell’s Shiraz Vat 9 2011, Hunter Valley, Australia •• Laughing Stock Syrah 2013, Okanagan Valley, BC •• K Vintners Syrah The Beautiful 2012, Walla Walla, Washington CHARDONNAY RESULTS:
•• Soumah Chardonnay Single Vineyard 2013, Yarra Valley, Australia
•• Kumeu River Chardonnay Hunting Hill 2012, Auckland, New Zealand
•• Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2014, Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa
•• Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis Premier Cru Montmains 2012, Burgundy, France
•• Bouchard Père & Fils Meursault Premier Cru Genevrieres 2011, Burgundy, France
•• Blue Mountain Chardonnay Reserve 2012, Okanagan Valley, BC •• Tantalus Chardonnay 2012, Okanagan Valley, BC •• Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Reserve 2012, Carneros, California
•• Mission Hill Chardonnay Perpetua 2012, Okanagan Valley, BC •• Quails’ Gate Chardonnay Rosemary’s Block 2013, Okanagan Valley, BC
•• Meyer Family Chardonnay Micro Cuvée 2012, Okanagan Valley, BC •• Haywire Chardonnay Canyonview 2013, Okanagan Valley, BC Acknowledging the fact that there were no bad wines in the lineup (in fact, all were quite well made and deserving of the accolades each has received in the past), it is not surprising that BC Chardonnay did not shine against the international benchmarks. They are, after all, benchmarks, and regions such as Burgundy have been producing the grape for significantly longer than BC. Perhaps, though, producers should look at the results and the success of the Chardonnays from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as a wake-up call. Many BC producers often extol the virtues of their Chardonnay and while many are very good, it seems they are still a work in progress and require some fine tuning (focus more on vineyard and expressing the site in the bottle) to truly stand with the international benchmarks, not by copying them, but by being more distinctly representative of their terroir. This should not be looked on as a knock, but instead, as a reality check, which was the intent of the tasting according to the BCWI: “to honestly assess the current state of grape growing and winemaking in BC to provide a clear perspective … and to achieve a focused vision for the continued evolution of the BC wine industry.” The Judgment of Paris is often looked at as the catalyst that propelled the California wine industry onto the international
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stage (California Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon won in both categories against their French counterparts). Will the Judgment of BC have the same effect? Perhaps, but it should, at minimum, cause Canadian wine consumers to take a closer look at BC Syrah and take pride in the fact that we are growing quality wines comparable to some of the best in the world. The highest praise came from Spurrier, who noted, “For me, wine is the three ‘Ps’: the place, the people and the product. British Columbia ticks all three boxes with exuberance, elegance and conviction.” Quite encouraging were his comments related to viewing BC as a New World wine producing region: “There’s nothing ‘New World’ about what’s going on in BC because ‘New World’ is varietal first, vineyard second. If I’ve seen anything anywhere in the world, apart from France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, which is more vineyard first, varietal second, it’s BC.” I’ve been saying for years that if the Canadian wine industry is going to evolve and be taken seriously internationally as a quality wine-growing region, we need to benchmark the quality being produced in the country with the rest of the world and not just by Canadian tasters. We’ve seen Canadian wines receive greater exposure to international influencers over the past few years and we must continue to show our wares to those beyond our borders. Canada is growing world-class wines, and tastings such as the Judgment of BC will only help make our wines better. Next judgment in 2016, Riesling and Pinot Noir? I’m looking forward to it. ×
INDO CHINA DISCOVERY JANuARY 9 – 24, 2016
Hanoi, Hoa Lu, Tam Coc, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Saigon, Mekong Delta, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh
W H Henry Inc. invites you to come and experience a 15 night journey into the heart of Indo China. Together we will discover its natural beauty, intriguing history and its rich ethnic and cultural diversity. We will visit awe-inspiring temples, villages and world heritage sites that remain unchanged for centuries. Our tour will sail in the peaceful Halong Bay and conclude in the world heritage site of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
15 NIGHTS INCLUDING AIRFARE FROM TORONTO AND VANCOUVER $4,479.00* / MONTREAL DEPARTURES $4,779.00* *price based on double occupancy, including GST/HST, QST and FICAV contribution of $1.00/$1000. Quebec licensee.
Please call Daphne Chin at 514 369 3300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. W H Henry Inc. 5165 Sherbrooke Street West, Suite 500, Montreal QC H4A 1T6
DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 × QUENCH.ME × 65
AFTER TASTE BY TONY ASPLER
YOU SAY TOMATO AND I SAY WINE
I CAN NOW STRIKE OFF ONE DESTINATION FROM MY BUCKET LIST. In August, my wife Deborah and I toured
Charlevoix’s Flavour Trail in Quebec. We stayed at Hôtel Le Germain Charlevoix in Baie-Saint-Paul, a brand spanking new complex that was awarded the world’s best hotel design in 2013. The only way I can describe its ultra-modern architecture is as “industrial-pastoral.” It stands on the site of what used to be Quebec’s biggest wooden barn that was once owned by nuns — Les Petites Franciscaines de Marie de Baie-SaintPaul — and was destroyed by fire in 2007. A model of the original stands in the courtyard. We had mapped out our visits to the artisanal producers along the food route that takes you north up Route 381 from BaieSaint-Paul and to L’Isle-aux-Coudres, a 20-minute drive east of the town. There’s a free 2-km ferry ride to the island where we lunched at Boulangerie Bouchard (established 1945 and famous for its Tarte Grand-mère and sugar pies) before visiting Cidrerie Vergers Pedneault to sample their cider and fruit wines; and then on to Les Moulins de l’Isle-aux-Coudres, a functioning 1825 watermill and 1836 windmill where they grind flour. Our first stop the next day was to La Ferme Basque where Isabelle Mihura and her partner, Jacques Etcheberrigaray, keep 4,500 ducks — mulards for foie gras and muscovy ducks for meat. Apparently, only males are force-fed for foie gras. The females are kept for their eggs. 66 × @QUENCH_MAG × DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016
Next stop, Quebec’s only emu farm where Raymonde Tremblay rears 400 emus for their meat; the oil from their fat she uses to manufacture skin creams and lip balms. She sells jars of her own emu cassoulet and her special emu spaghetti sauce. (Here I learned that emus grow six feet in a year and they can’t walk backwards. Who knew?) But the most surprising find of all was “The World’s First Tomato Wine.” Yes, that’s right, tomatoes. At Domaine de la Vallée de Bras, Pascal Miche and his wife Lucie have been producing wine from fermented tomatoes for five years. They use a recipe developed by Pascal’s Belgian great-grandfather in 1938. His name was Omer and the brand for their tomato wine is called Omerto in homage to him. They make four different products from three varieties of organically-grown heirloom tomatoes — Dry, Sweet and Semi-Dry aged in acacia wood, and a Sweet version aged in cherry and chestnut casks. They have some 4,000 tomato plants in their “vineyard” on the slopes of range Saint-Antoine Nord, and they produce on average 15,000 litres. The tomatoes are harvested in mid-August to mid-September at 25 to 26 Brix and have to be chaptalized to get the “wine” up to 16% alcohol. The fermentation (“our yeast is a secret”) takes five months. It’s very much a hands-on operation with five people involved in the harvesting, crushing, fermenting in stainless steel tanks, filtering, bottling and labelling of the bottles. They now export their products to Hong Kong, Japan and the US. Deborah and I tasted through the range, and we were very surprised by the quality. The dry “wine” is golden in colour and tasted like sake with no suggestion of tomato flavour. The sweet version has a nose of orange blossom, honey, melon and lychee. The acacia-aged has a malt whisky character and the chestnut/ cherry-aged wine smells of rose petals and cherries, and resembles an off-dry sherry. Pascal says that his wines — which are vintage-dated — can last for 20 years! We brought back four bottles, which I intend to slip into blind tastings to see if anyone can guess what the wine is. I’ll lay odds nobody does. Unless they read this. × ILLUSTRATION: FRANCESCO GALLÉ, WWW.FRANCESCOGALLE.COM
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