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//napa’s next generation//quick and easy meals

THE ART OF THE

AUCTION

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//features 20// POSITIONS BY MICHAEL PINKUS

What do Washington State and Oregon have to offer?

22// SHEEPISH

BY BRENDA MCMILLAN A white wine grape named Pecorino.

22

24// TOPS

BY EVAN SAVIOLIDIS What red varitals are winning in Chile?

27// THE VALLEY BY GURVINDER BHATIA

The life of a grape in the Napa Valley.

30// THE NEXT GENERATION

BY TOD STEWART We interview 5 of Napa’s “next generation” wine personalities.

36// HAMMER BY RICK VANSICKLE

Ever wanted to know about wine auctions? We walk you through the process.

39// TOOLS

BY MERLE ROSENSTEIN Everything you’ll need to know about outfitting your bar.

42// THORNY

27

BY JENNIFER CROLL A mezcal taste test.

44// QUICK AND EASY BY DUNCAN HOLMES

You can make cooking easy.

48// IN NO TIME

BY ROSEMARY MANTINI We’re constantly rushed. Here are 4 dishes you’ll create in no time.

42 quench.me

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//à la carte 7// CONTRIBUTORS 8// FROM THE EDITOR 11// CONVERSATIONS Letters to the editor.

13// FEED

TOM DELARZAC

14// UMAMI JOANNE WILL

17// LAZY MIXOLOGIST CHRISTINE SISMONDO

18// BON VIVANT PETER ROCKWELL

51// MATTER OF TASTE SHEILA SWERLING-PURITT

52// DAVINE

GURVINDER BHATIA

55// BOUQUET GARNI NANCY JOHNSON

66// FINAL WORD TONY ASPLER

55

17

//notes 50// THE MAV NOTES

54// THE FOOD NOTES

An appetizing selection of food-friendly faves.

58// THE BUYING GUIDE

Top wines from around the world scored.

ARGENTINA // P. 58 AUSTRALIA // P. 58-59 AUSTRIA // P. 59 CANADA // P. 59-61 CHILE // P. 61 CROATIA // P. 61 FRANCE // P. 61-62 GREECE // P. 62

51 4 // February/March 2014

ITALY // P. 62-63 NEW ZEALAND // P. 63 PORTUGAL // P. 63-64 SPAIN // P. 64-65 UNITED STATES // P. 65 BEER // P. 65


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contributors\\

Jennifer Croll is a Vancouver-based writer and editor. She likes to keep her glass half full. You can find her at jencroll.com.

Crystal Luxmore is a Certified Cicerone (or beer sommelier) based in Toronto. She leads workshops and beer tastings around the province, and her writing on beer has appeared in The Globe & Mail, enRoute, ELLE Canada and Reader’s Digest magazines. She loves writing about beer, but she likes drinking it even more.

QUENCH NEEDS YOU This magazine thrives on giving you the best, and most appetizing, food and drink content in Canada. Here is your chance to tell us more about you. Visit survey.quench.me and help us better define who is reading Quench.

When he’s not writing about wine, drinking wine or publishing his new book Canadian Wineries, Tony Aspler is walking Pinot the Wonderdog and editing her Facebook Page.

Fill out the short survey for the chance to win*: (2) $100 LOBLAWS GIFT CARDS (1) FINAL TOUCH DOUBLE-WALL STAINLESS STEEL BEVERAGE BIN (VALUE $170) (1) BALDERSON CHEESE BASKET (VALUE $200) *Valid for all participants who finish the survey before March 14, 2014

A former engineer, Gilles Bois is now devoting time to his passion: tasting wines from everywhere and meeting the people who make them. Whether as a wine judge or in the vineyard, he is always on the lookout for an original bottle worth writing about.

survey.quench.me quench.me

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//from the editor

it’s 2014 THERE IS A LOT OF HISTORY IN THESE PAGES. We’ve talked about some amazing vintages while reporting on the heartaches of being a winemaker in the modern age. We’ve seen the New World create their own distinct style, growing to supplant some of the most famous Old World regions. In 41 years, we’ve seen it all (or almost all). What will 2014 bring? A number of exciting revelations about the world of food and drink, I hope. Some discoveries you’ll want to share with friends — and others you’ll keep to yourself. What would you like this year to be about? This editorial will be visible online; post your thoughts about the coming year. Is there a wine region we’ve misplaced or a cooking style you’ve longed to learn more about? Do you need tips on how to choose the perfect bottle for dinner or do you simply need to know how to use a corkscrew? There are so many different places we can go to in the pages of Quench. Together we can define what this year will be about and possibly choose the next big thing to come. Now that would be exciting. It would definitely quench our appetites.

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FEBRUARY MARCH 2014 ISSUE # 317

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Aldo Parise editor@quench.me ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Rosemary Mantini rmantini@quench.me CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Gurvinder Bhatia, Tod Stewart CONTRIBUTING FOOD EDITOR

Nancy Johnson COLUMNISTS

Tony Aspler, Peter Rockwell, Tom de Larzac, Joanne Will, Sheila Swerling-Puritt, Christine Sismondo CONTRIBUTORS

Sean Wood, Harry Hertscheg, Evan Saviolidis, Gilles Bois, Rick VanSickle, Merle Rosenstein, Michael Pinkus, Ron Liteplo, Duncan Holmes, Jennifer Croll, Tim Pawsey, Brenda McMillan TASTERS

Tony Aspler, Rick VanSickle, Evan Saviolidis, Gilles Bois, Harry Hertscheg, Sean Wood, Jonathan Smithe, Ron Liteplo and Gurvinder Bhatia COPY DESK

Lisa Hoekstra, Lee Springer, Kathy Sinclair CREATIVE BY PARIS ASSOCIATES ART DIRECTION

Aldo Parise PRODUCTION

ww+Labs, cmyk design, studio karibü ILLUSTRATIONS & PHOTOGRAPHY

Matt Daley, Francesco Gallé, Push/Stop Studio, august photography, Westen Photo Studio COVER DESIGN

Aldo Parise

AUDITED BY

8 // February/March 2014


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conversations\\

NOW INST OUR 41 YEAR Lucy Rodrigues

Happy to report we lived in Saskatoon 2009-2011 and were able to purchase prosciutto! Not freshly cut at a deli mind you, but a PC product at Superstore However, since 2011 we lived in Winnipeg ... no mâché, no specialty potatoes, no marcona almonds, no Spanish turron and a lack of the many wines you feature ... sigh.

CIRCULATION

Sandra Ruiz, email

KYLIX MEDIA CFO

... 10 sparklings from 6 different regions. Thanks goodnesss we were over 20 people ...

circ@tidingsmag.com ACCOUNTS

Marilyn Barter accounts@tidingsmag.com ADVERTISING REPRESENTATION Jacquie Rankin Senior National Account Manager jrankin@quench.me

www.quench.me living.quench.me twitter.com/quenchbytidings

KYLIX MEDIA, 5165 Sherbrooke St. West, Suite 414, Montreal, Quebec, H4A 1T6, Tel: 514.481.6606, Fax: 514.481.9699. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: Canada: $36 per year, $58 per 2 years, USA: $55 per year, Other: $75 per year. Single Copies: $5.95. Quench, Food and Drink Magazine, a registered trademark of Kylix Media, is published 8 times a year: (February/March, April, May/June, July/August, September, October, November, December/January).

I’ve been following you on twitter for over a year now and I’ve enjoyed the tweets, but you’ve got to do more tips. It would be nice to learn more about creating a meal in 140 characters or less. Cheryl Abrams, email

We don’t get to taste enough sparkling in our home. This New Years we decided to rectify that. We made our regular celebrations into a tasting party. 10 sparklings from 6 different regions. Thanks goodnesss we were over 20 people. Gordon Sedursky, email

Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher.

The winter months can be cold without a little something to warm you up. We enjoyed the recipes from Rosemary Mantini’s “Warming Up.”

© 2013 Kylix Media Inc. Printed in Canada.

Christine Chan, Vancouver

ISSN-0228-6157. Publications Mail Registration No. 40063855. Member of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

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If I had to pick one writer that I continuously read, it would have to be Duncan Holmes. He’s funny and a joy to read. And then there is Tony Aspler and Tod Stewart. They always get to the heart of the matter. Marina Spendi, Montreal

Material chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and fit. Please e-mail your comments and questions to editor@quench.me.

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FEED

wrap it up\\

GOOD, HOMEMADE MEALSdon’t have to take long. You don’t have to spend the whole evening slaving in front of the stove to produce something that is fresh, delicious, and tastes like it took much longer than it actually did. With a young family, I don’t have nearly the same amount of time I used to. I have had to learn to start cooking meals that require less prep and that cook faster, but taste just as good as what I was cooking before. Making a fast, satisfying meal isn’t any harder than making one that takes hours to prepare. It isn’t easy to replace the deep, rich flavours that are developed with hours of stewing or slow roasting, but it is possible to develop similar notes in a short period of time with a few key tips. One of the things I have realized is the bigger the food item, the longer it takes to cook. Therefore, the simple solution is to start cutting items down to a smaller size. Veggies cubed a little smaller, onions diced, meat cut just a little bit thinner. And remember some things can’t be cut smaller since they will dry out in the cooking process. Chicken is a great example (see the recipe). Chicken breasts have gotten so big that I usually cut them into two or three pieces. The key is to cut them on an angle to try to keep the thickness of each piece as equal as possible. This also ensures that each piece cooks evenly. The next crucial thing to remember in developing flavours is to ensure that spices you are using are fresh. Nothing dried. Not only do fresh herbs have a more pronounced flavour, they also provide the added aromatics that boost flavours. If you are using spices, ensure that they are relatively fresh. Most people don’t realize that spices can go stale after time. Anything stale will dull the flavours. I recommend either buying smaller quantities of spices and changing them frequently, or buying whole spices when available and grinding when needed. Whole spices have a much longer shelf life, and can be toasted much easier to coax a little extra flavour.

BY TOM DE LARZAC

Finally, I have realized that everything doesn’t need to be prepped prior to starting. This may sound shocking to some people, but I have found that prepping all my foods prevents me from getting those foods that need a longer cook time in the pan. Get your ingredients in the pan, and then prep as you go. This will cut down the process. Try it.

PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED CHICKEN SERVES 2 TO 4

2

1/4 6

large chicken breasts bunch of fresh thyme (or any herb that you like) slices of prosciutto

1. Cut the chicken breasts on an angle against the grain into 3

pieces of approximate thickness (small breasts can be cut into 2 pieces). Lightly pound out each chicken slice to ensure even thickness (about 1/2 inch in thickness). 2. De-stem the thyme. Sprinkle the thyme and some pepper on each side of the chicken, pressing it in with your hand to ensure it sticks. Salt isn’t necessary since the prosciutto can be quite salty. 3. Lay flat each piece of prosciutto. Take one piece of chicken and wrap prosciutto fully around the chicken. Repeat process for each piece of chicken. 4. Preheat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Place chicken in the pan. Do not overcrowd the pan; use two pans if necessary. When prosciutto is crispy, flip over (approximately 6 minutes a side, or until the chicken is cooked through). Ensure heat is not too high, or the prosciutto will burn. …… Serve with a light Gamay or Pinot Noir.

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by george\\

WITH HIS SECOND COOKBOOK,Modern Native Feasts, west coast chef Andrew George continues the journey he began more than 27 years ago, to promote and develop Aboriginal cuisine and culture. “We have one of the oldest cuisines in the world, and one of the healthiest,” he says, “but it’s probably one of the newest kids on the block in the modern world. All our products are very natural. There are no growth hormones or steroids in our game meats, and they’re very lean. I’m having a look at the food itself, how we produce it, and trying to get Aboriginal cuisine recognized with all other cuisines from around the world,” says George, who was part of the first-ever Aboriginal team to participate in the World Culinary Olympics in 1992. Chef George also works to educate the next generation of chefs, with organizations such as Vancouver Community College. When he arrived in Vancouver in 1984, George was one of just two Aboriginal students in the cooking school. “Nowadays, there are a lot of Aboriginal students in that program. They’re walking through the school and have a lot of pride on their faces. That makes me very happy.” The importance of connecting to culinary heritage was highlighted during George’s recent culinary diplomacy tour through the US, along with 24 other chefs from around the globe. “It comes from looking at the pride on people’s faces, about what they’re producing and what they represent. “Canada is not a melting pot. I think everybody has, and should have, an opportunity to maintain their identity and who they are, whether they’re Irish, French, Italian, Scottish or wherever they come from — and their connection to food. What they offer, as cultural food, builds the world we live in. To me the more we build together through fusion cuisine — using the fresh products from different cultures, there’s a better under-

14 // February/March 2014

UMAMI

BY JOANNE WILL

standing of each other, of where you come from, and why you eat the things you do. That’s why I produced these books the way I did — to understand the Aboriginal people, why we harvest these foods, why we traditionally preserve them the way we did, and why we cook them the way we did. “When you talk about Aboriginal cuisine in BC, people think about bannock and salmon. You go to the prairies and ask someone what Aboriginal cuisine is and they say buffalo. But there’s a lot more to our cuisine than that. When you dig into it we have a massive amount of resources, and a massive amount of foods. What the big world sees as Aboriginal cuisine is not necessarily our real food. Just like any other culture in the world, what you see at a Chinese restaurant isn’t necessarily what they eat in the back.” George uses the example of smoked salmon to illustrate his point. “Our smoked salmon is produced in smokehouses, and it’s dried naturally. When you look at the process of smoking items, in the Aboriginal world smoke was used to keep the flies away — and that was it. The drying process came from the open air in the smokehouses, so the air was allowed to flow through there. So it was more wind-dried than smoked. “In today’s world, smoked products are actually smoked very heavily, and sometimes in heat. So you have more of a cooked item than a smoked item. In the modern world, they brine a lot of fish. We’ve never brined the fish we smoke, because when you add salt it pulls out the oils and the natural flavours of fish. In the Aboriginal world, we hang it overnight, and then we cut it open and it’s left to dry for five or six days. When it’s naturally dried like that the oils become condensed, and you have a very nutritious and delicious salmon full of the omega 3’s that sustained us through the winters.”


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pretty in pink\\

LAZY MIXOLOGIST

BY CHRISTINE SISMONDO

GRAPEFRUIT MAY NOTbe the very first ingredient that comes to mind when we start shaking up cold-weather cocktails. But it should be — and for several reasons. First off, with all those flu germs being passed around, it can’t hurt to get another dose of vitamin C. Second, on a purely psychological level, if we can’t be somewhere warm and sunny, we should at least be drinking something that reminds us of warmer and sunnier places. Finally, if we were in the Sun Belt right now, we’d probably be drinking ruby-red cocktails — what with it being grapefruit season. That’s something John MacDonald, grapefruit lover and bartender at Toronto’s Oddseoul, knows all about, from personal experience. “My girlfriend’s family has a house in Miami, so we spend a lot of time in the winter down there drinking gin and tonics with grapefruit juice,” says MacDonald. “You know it’s in season this time of year. You can practically smell it in the air.” Since citrus tends to be available all year round, it’s easy to lose track of its seasonality. But pay close attention, and you’ll realize that the quality skyrockets in winter, just in time to tempt us away from any hastily made resolutions. Grapefruit, explains MacDonald, adds the perfect level of sweet, tart and acid to balance out many cocktails. Although we tend to mix it with white spirits like tequila (Paloma cocktail) or vodka (Greyhound), we’re missing out on the fruit’s full potential to mingle with brown spirits. “Scotch, especially, can be a really big bully in cocktails, so I like to beat it down with a bit of grapefruit,” says MacDonald, who does just that with the Switchback (recipe below). Tarquin Melnyk, an Edmonton craft bartender who trains colleagues on hospitality and the craft of the cocktail, would agree, since he’s known for adding grapefruit to cognac and even Italian amari. “I love to crush some fresh grapefruit in a rocks glass, add ice, and top with a good pour of the chicory savoury deliciousness that is Averna Amaro,” says Melnyk. “After a brief stir, sipping on this simple drink is one of the true luxuries of life.” Melnyk also points out that subbing grapefruit where lime is called for is a great way to update a recipe. A great example of that is Ernest Hemingway’s signature daiquiri, the Papa Doble, that had the juice of half a grapefruit in addition to the standard lime. And don’t forget to double the rum, as Hemingway did. After all, Papa knew best.

SWITCHBACK 1 1/2 oz Bowmore 12 1/2 oz Galliano 1 oz fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice 5 dashes Peychaud’s bitters Shake over ice, strain and serve in a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with flamed orange zest.

+ Visit quench.me/search-mixed/ for more drink recipes

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Is vermouth a wine or a spirit? Technically it’s a little of both. Its personality is founded in fortification: where wine meets spirit to create something completely different. Typically light and grapey, it’s easy to mistake it for a slightly (and I mean that in the nicest way) odd style of dessert wine. That said, the final combination of liquids is usually flavoured with a secret recipe of botanicals which, to a casual spirit drinker, might leave a gin-esque impression in the mouth. Why would anyone want to mix a wine and spirit together? Well, folks, it helped the medicine go down. At the turn of many centuries ago the nearest pharmacy was a few hundred years in the future. Back in the day, drinking a lightly aged wine that had been spiked with grape spirit, and then enhanced with herbs, spices and other natural elements believed to have healing powers, was a good way to wellness. Vermouth (which comes from a French attempt to pronounce the German word for wormwood) would languish in the medicine cabinet until the late 19th century, when bartenders discovered how well its savoury profile worked with mainstream booze. White, red, amber or rosé, and coming in two distinctive styles — one dry and one sweet (thanks to the addition of sugar) — vermouth was the flavour-driver behind cocktail giants like the Manhattan and negroni and became the toast of the 1930s when the martini began filling glasses across North America. While aficionados will tell you that small regional European brands are the best (you know, the ones that never come to Canada), it’s Italy’s Martini & Rossi that Canadian consumers hold dearest to their vodka and gin. France’s Noilly Prat was

18 // February/March 2014

BON VIVANT

BY PETER ROCKWELL

once a contender, but owner Bacardi (who also owners Martini & Rossi) decided to unscrew its cap early last year —withdrawing it from our part of the cocktail-loving world. What’s the quickest way to chill a bottle of wine? Since my life isn’t fast and furious enough, I don’t begrudge the couple of hours it takes a bottle of white or bubbly to chill down in the main body of my refrigerator. You could cut the time in half if you jam it in the freezer, but if you forget about it ... forget about it. I had a change of mindset a few months ago while staying at a charming boutique hotel in New York. Part of its charm was that it didn’t have a mini-bar, which meant I couldn’t dump all of its overpriced booze into a drawer and use it to house my store-bought goodies. So what’s a guy to do when his Chardonnay is room temperature? Why, I called room service and had them bring up a bucket of ice and a shaker of salt. You see, ice is a funny thing. The easiest way for us humans to create a manageable portion is to cube it. Problem is, cubes are, well, square, so if you slide a bottle into a confined group of them, there will be plenty of warm air in between each that will slow down the chilling process. Adding cold water until the bottle is submerged up to its neck will eliminate the air and surround the glass with ice-cold liquid, which will draw heat from the wine pretty quick. Using this method I would have been sipping my Chard in about 20 minutes. Stretched for time, I added some salt to the water/ice combination. Though I’m no scientist, the salted water has a lower freezing temperature, so the outcome is H2O that’s much colder than without it, which chilled my vino in about 10 minutes.

+ Ask your questions at bonvivant@quench.me

ILLUSTRATION: MATT DALEY/SHINYPLIERS.COM

spirity and chillin\\


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POSITIONS

BY MICHAEL PINKUS

WE’VE ALL SEEN THEM, or at the very least heard about them, they’re the wines from America’s third and fourth largest wine producing states behind California and New York; but before you run out and buy a bottle or two, let’s take a brief look at what brought them to where they are today:

WASHINGTON

The state’s grape growing history dates back to 1815 and has some Canadian roots: workers from the Hudson’s Bay Company planted the first vines. But Washington’s industry also has a dark side, since the state was one of the first to adopt Prohibition in 1917, which virtually shut down most of its wineries. When winemaking started back up the wineries that kick-started the industry were making fortified and sweet wines from Concord grapes — the big wineries at the time were Nawico and Pommerelle (which later merged to become Château Ste Michelle). Washington’s modern wine industry, as we know it, is actually credited to a very different group: a number of professors from the University of Washington, who turned their home winemaking endeavours into a commercial venture in the mid-20th century, creating the Associated Vintners, later named Columbia Winery. Today, Washington has 13 AVAs and wineries that have won many prestigious awards, including Best Winery in America. Won by Château Ste. Michelle in 1988, the award helped put Washington on the world’s wine radar. To give you an idea of the growth of wineries in Washington: in 2007 there were 500 registered wineries in the state; by 2009 there were 600, and today there are over 750.

20 // February/March 2014

OREGON

The winemaking roots of Oregon are not as deep as those in Washington. They date back to the 1840s with commercial winemaking not making an impact in the state till the 1960s. The boom really kicked off with the help of both California winemakers (in the ‘60s) and then Burgundy winemakers (in the ‘80s). Both saw the potential in the state for making quality Pinot Noir (which today makes up more than half of their total production). In the early ’70s, there were just five commercial wineries in the state with only 35 acres under vine … growth of the wine industry has been rapid and significant since. Oregon followed a very similar path to Washington in that Prohibition wiped out its nascent wine industry. The first official winery in Oregon dates back to the late 1850s and in 1904 an Oregon winemaker took home a prize at the St Louis World’s Fair … but after Prohibition’s repeal it took Oregon another 30 years to re-start its industry, whereas Washington started up right away. Today, Oregon sits in the top five of wine producing states and third in the premium wine category (Washington is second). They have 17 AVAs and more than 463 wineries throughout the state.


Washington and Oregon are producing some of the most exciting, interesting and talked about wines in the United States today — showing the biggest potential for export and growth. Here are some of the wines and producers you should be looking out for.

WASHINGTON

COLUMBIA CREST H3 HORSE HEAVEN HILLS MERLOT 2010 ($21.95)

The grape that Washington built its reputation on: juicy and full fruited with blackberry, raspberry, cherry and a touch of chocolate.

LONG SHADOWS FEATHER CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007 ($57.95)

Cherry and raspberry take charge with a mineral chalkiness and good tannin backbone.

OREGON

PLANET OREGON PINOT NOIR 2011 ($25)

Gentle and subtle with raspberry and cherry, fruit comes off as sweet and might overwhelm if not for the nice balance of acidity.

CHÂTEAU STE. MICHELLE ETHOS RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008 ($44.95) Earthy, mocha and plum with vanilla and cherry.

CHÂTEAU STE. MICHELLE’S BOB BERTHEAU

CARABELLA DIJON 76 CLONE CHARDONNAY 2009 ($26.95)

Big and creamy with nice tropical notes, plenty of vanilla and creamy peach.

ELK COVE PINOT NOIR 2011 ($37.95) Plenty of sweet, juicy cherry with herbs and spice.

BACHELDER PINOT NOIR 2011 ($34.95) JUAN MUÑOZ OCA FROM COLUMBIA CREST

CHÂTEAU STE. MICHELLE CANOE RIDGE ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 ($35) Smooth with chocolate, pepper and cherry.

BOOMTOWN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 ($26)

Nice, easy drinking Cab with good fruit and a touch of spice.

BOMBING RANGE RED 2007 ($19.95)

An interesting blend of grapes and a delicious wine full of red fruit, herbal notes and spice with just the slightest hint of oak and a finish that bombards the tongue with flavour again and again.

LONG SHADOWS PEDESTAL MERLOT 2008 ($57.95)

Blueberry and chocolate with elements of cherry; this one is ripe and ready, quite a sexy wine on the palate.

Has nice fruit on the nose while the palate shows mineral and earthy notes along with cranberry and strawberry.

RAINSTORM PINOT NOIR 2010 ($19.95) Earthy and floral with some nice complexity in the glass.

DOMAINE DROUHIN DUNDEE HILLS PINOT NOIR 2011 ($46.95)

A sweet cherry fruit explosion with anise and spice. The finish comes off as quite juicy; more California than Burgundy.

A TO Z WINEWORKS CHEMIN DE TERRE 2006 ($14.95) Don’t pass up a chance to try this excellent 7 grape blend — it’s got everything but the kitchen sink in there.

ADELSHEIM RIBBON SPRINGS PINOT NOIR 2011 ($80.45)

This single vineyard Pinot has a lovely white pepper nose with red and black fruit on the palate that comes off as juicy, but with nice acidity on the finish. •

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SHEEPISH BY BRENDA MCMILLAN

PECORINO IS A CHEESE, RIGHT? A sheep’s milk cheese? So why was I rolling my eyes in pleasure as I was drinking it ... from a wine glass? Pecorino is also the name of an Italian white grape that makes aromatic, minerally white wines. I tried a few excellent examples at a recent tasting and was very impressed. In fact, I was seduced by most of them. If all you know of Italian white wine is Pinot Grigio, you are missing the country’s best. Not that there is anything wrong with Pinot Grigio — it is a safe bet on wine lists — but other grapes, like Pecorino, have flavours and aromas that leave our safe-bet friend far behind. Italian grape varietals are still being counted, as some — like Cococcioloa — have almost disappeared; but there are probably close to a thousand. Most people would recognize only a couple of dozen. That leaves a bevy of grapes we know nothing about, and have likely not tasted in their luscious liquid form. Lots are stellar in the hands of winemakers who know how to coax the best from them. I went to a tasting to find some unusual blends, some new (to me) grape varietals, and fascinating wines that made me want to kidnap them and take them home. I found all three, but they would not let me out the door with my bulging purse. I think we are ready to experiment with some new Italian white varietals. Look at how readily we took to Pinot Grigio. Could we not love Pecorino and Passerina? Arneis and Ansonica? Or lonely Lucido? Why, the names roll off the tongue as easily as the wines roll on. I encourage you to invite a stranger — an unfamiliar Italian — home with you. Who knows? She could be the Grillo of your dreams.

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CASTELLO DI NEIVE LANGHE ARNEIS DOC 2012 ($20)

Arneis grapes have been grown in Piedmont since the Borgias were popes, but by the mid-seventies, were almost forgotten. Thanks to winery owner Italo Stupino, the grape is back and better than ever. This wine, dressed in an elegant, silky white summer dress, has soft floral/mineral scents and flavours that beguile with a hint of lemon peel. It is low in sulphites. Enjoy it with lake fish so fresh it jumped into the pan one balmy summer’s eve.

CASTORANI AMORINO ABRUZZO PECORINO DOC SUPERIORE 2012 ($26) Gently nutty, rich and very flavourful, this premium Pecorino has elegance, body, style, a long finish, and a welcome touch of bitterness. The winery’s small production of Pecorino grapes native to Abruzzo ensures quality. You must taste it.

CIÙ CIÙ IGP EVOÈ PASSERINA 2012 ($17)

Drink this light, lovely, clean, balanced wine from the Marche region and you will crave it forever with white fish, appetizers or simply prepared pasta dishes. At least I do. Very easy to drink, it makes me think of summer, even in the winter. And it’s organic.

CIÙ CIÙ MERLETTAIE OFFIDA PECORINO DOCG 2012 ($19)

Merlettaie means lace, from Marche’s ancient skill of lace making. Perfect is what I’d call this aromatic, tasty, fresh, feisty organic wine made from Pecorino grapes. Serve it with roasted fowl or fish from the barbecue as this wine has the personality to match. Pecorino also ages beautifully.


FARNESE FANTINI CUVÉE ($20)

Made in Abruzzo from 100% Cococciola, a very rare varietal (100ha total in Italy) with intensely green, highly acidic grapes, this cuvée is delightfully fizzy and dry. A party in a glass; drink it to celebrate life. Daily.

FATTORIA CABANON OLTREPO PAVESE 2012 ($20)

This winery, at 102 years old, has a fourth-generation winemaker who, at 14, was the youngest in Italy. Her organic Pinot Grigio is crisp and clean with a long finish and low sulphites. It elevates Pinot Grigio to an art.

PODERI DAL NESPOLI ROMAGNA PAGADEBIT DOC 2012 ($13)

This wine, used in the past to pay debts or pagadebit, is long famous in Emilia Romagna. A blend of Bombino Bianco with 10% Sauvignon Blanc, it has lemon and tropical fruit flavours overlaying a mineral core. Its scent is mouth-wateringly zesty. Bring out a seafood risotto or fresh pea soup with shrimps and you’ll be in culinary heaven.

FEUDO DISISA TERRE SICILIANE CHARA 2012 ($16)

This sixth-generation Sicilian family estate has 150 acres of vineyards on the hills at 400-500m, which means grapes enjoy hot sunny days and cool nights, perfect for making crisp whites. This wine, an equal blend of Catarratto Bianco Lucido and Ansonica, is fresh, round and soft with tropical fruit flavours and an appealing minerality. I’d pair it with Thai food and think I was in heaven.

FEUDO DISISA TERRE SICILIANE 2012 ($16) A ‘wow’ wine, this beauty is made from 100% Grillo. Fresh, lively, balanced, crisp, clean and very tasty, it has all that I adore in a white wine — including a good price. Delicious match for roasted lemon chicken as it has a touch of citrus along with a lovely minerality.

MORGANTE BIANCO DI MORGANTE 2012 ($17) The only grapes ever grown at this Sicilian estate are red Nero d’Avola. To make a white wine (for the owner’s wife), grapes are harvested early from their youngest vines. The juice never touches the skins so the wine is almost colourless. Soft, light and refreshing, it has distinct fruit flavours and minerality that lead to a long, satisfying finish. Perfect! It would find a match in chicken salad with peaches. Or any summer day.

CELITA RAVAIOLI PODERI DAL NESPOLI

PODERI DAL NESPOLI NESPOLINO 2012 ($10) Trebbiano has a reputation for making unexciting wines, but in an equal blend with Chardonnay, this one is surprisingly quaffable and delicious. And, for $10, is a fantastic value. Don’t hesitate.

TENUTA I FAURI PECORINO IGT COLLINE TEATINE 2012 ($17)

Abruzzo coastal sand and clay afford these Pecorino grapes a nutty expression. This lifting, lightly floral wine is very fresh with excellent acidity and a clobber of flavour that rocks! Very yummy. I’d drink this (often) with grilled calamari or seafood lasagna or ... anything.

TENUTA I FAURI BALDOVINO TREBBIANO D’ABRUZZO DOC 2012 ($15)

In this wine, workhorse Trebbiano grapes are elevated to prized ponies. It would work very well as an entry-level house wine as it will shine above others of its ilk. Order it with appetizers and you will not be disappointed.

DUCA DI SALAPARUTA BAGLIO FLORIO RESERVE MARSALA 1998 ($44)

CASTORANI’S WINEMAKER ANGELO MOLISANI

Founded in 1833, this Sicilian producer of Marsala gets 30,000 visitors each year. And with good reason if this wine is typical. Made from Grillo grapes grown close to the sea, I can taste the salt over layers of smoky, nutty flavours derived from a decade in a barrique. Try this dry, elegant example of history-in-a-bottle as an apéritif with smoked fish or cheese. It would also shine as an accompaniment to good company and an after-dinner cigar. •

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FIVE YEARS AGO, ON MY FIRST TRIP TO CHILE, MY PERSONAL GOAL WAS TO CLASSIFY THE BEST RED GRAPES. The four suspects were Cabernet Sauvignon, the most planted; Merlot, the fashionable calling card; Carmenère, which was in the midst of a transformation from herbal/vegetal juice to fruitdriven nectar; and Syrah, the new kid on the block. After seven days of sampling different versions from all points on the Chilean compass, the clear winner was Syrah/Shiraz, in its various forms. From cool-climate peppery/savoury to super-hot-extracted Australian-styled doppelgangers, the quality was a notch above the rest. There was also one grape that caught my attention, even though there were limited offerings: old vine Carignan. This past fall, on my most recent trip to the sliver country, I decided to delve into the realm of this oft-maligned Mediterranean grape. First, a few words about the grape itself. Spanish by birth, Carignan is known for extremely high yields and the ability to retain acidity, even in hot climates. It was commonly used as blending fodder in France’s wine lake, California’s Central Valley jug wine production and Chile’s bulk habits. Obviously, the perception of this sun-loving grape became tainted, due to a lack of quality. That being said, when yields are reduced, or when produced from older vines, which naturally produce lower yields, there are some excellent wines to be had. Carignan first arrived in Chile in 1939 from Argentina, after a massive earthquake decimated the vineyards of the Maule valley, home to the infamous Pais grape, best known for making bulk wine and the local firewater, pisco. The government paid the landowners to replant with Carignan, as it was vigorous and added high alcohol, colour and acidity to the blends. Never was there a thought to make a mono-varietal wine, since the grape was deemed too rustic on its own. As time passed, on the scale of half a century, vine maturity and civility set in. These dry farmed, gnarly old vines started to naturally produce lower yields, which in turn produced concentrated offerings that did not require any new oak embellishment or partnering with other grapes. Furthermore, it was discovered that the established vieja vine Pais (300 years in some cases) could be grafted relatively easily over to Carignan, no longer necessitating 50-plus years for a new batch of premium fruit. In the 1990s, producers saw the potential and started to produce single varietal and/or Carignan blends, instead of blending it away as plonk. Today, there are almost 1,000 hectares of these old bush vines, with the overwhelming majority planted within the Maule Valley. This pretty much flies against the current Chilean philosophy of experimenting with assorted grapes in all regions.

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To protect and promote this valuable resource, a group of 12 wineries have created Vigno (short for Vignadores de Carignan). Vignadores is a hybridization of viñadores, the Spanish word for winegrower, and the ‘g’ from Carignan. Their self-imposed rules are to produce wines from non-irrigated bush vines that are at least 30 years old. The blend must be a minimum of 65 percent Carignan with all grapes sourced from the Maule Valley. It must also spend 24 months in barrel or bottle before being released. The other positive aspect of the increased demand for these vines is on the growers level. Once paid a pittance for their Carignan, many growers who thought about grubbing up these vines now find their wallets swelling, with the premium price now being paid. This is quite heartening, seeing as the average vineyard worker only earns $400 a month. With the success of old vine Carignan, “once abandoned, now cherished,” is the philosophy for many. Wineries are now seeking out other old vine varieties in some of the lesser-known areas such as Elqui and Itata. Furthermore, producers were keen to pour what they thought was going to be the next “hot” grape. Once again, looking to the future, I saw the potential in a trio of grapes, with the most interesting, for me, being Petite Sirah. This progeny of Syrah experienced the same mistaken identity that Carmenère did. In the past, Petite Sirah and Syrah were co-planted in the soils of Chile, and as time moved on, people forgot, and eventually, everyone assumed it was all Syrah. Its true identity was confirmed in 1994 via DNA testing by Jean-Michel Boursiquot of Montpellier University. At the same time, he revealed that the “weird clone” of Merlot, was, in fact, Carmenère. My next choice was Malbec, after trying many renditions. My only caveat is that Chile is playing in the backyard of their neighbour to the east, which produces mass quantities of Malbec at every price level. If Chilean wineries can differentiate themselves and promote their renditions properly, they should do well with this varietal as an alternative to the mainstream reds. My final vote for “Chile’s Next Top Grape” fell to Petit Verdot. This Bordeaux varietal was historically used as a blender to increase strength. It loves heat and needs a long growing season. In Chile’s climate, it produces dark coloured, sturdy wines with tannins that are less astringent than other international renditions while at the same time retaining its natural acidity. Diversity continues to grow, which bodes well for us, the consumers, so it is just a matter of wait and see for this land of passionate innovators. On the next page are some of my favourite “other grapes” that I tried on my recent visit.


TOPS BY EVAN SAVIOLIDIS

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SANTA RITA BOUGAINVILLE PETITE SIRAH 2010, MAIPO VALLEY ($80) The scary opaque black-purple colour is the first thing you notice about this wine. The second is the powerful perfume of damson plum, dark cherry, coffee and vanilla. The third is the monster extract and length. This will surely appeal to those who love an over-the-top style wine! It should age for 15 years.

ODFJELL ORZADA CARIGNAN 2011, MAULE VALLEY ($20)

This biodynamic winery was established by Norwegian shipowner Dan Odfjell after he fell in love with Chile while looking for a warm winter retreat. The colour of this wine is black with purple highlights. The bouquet of game, earth, plum, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry and tobacco spills over onto the palate. There is very good length, crisp acidity and a sophisticated feel to this delicious wine, with the 15% alcohol held completely in check. Drink over the next 5 years.

MONTES ALPHA MALBEC 2011, COLCHAGUA VALLEY ($20)

This is a very pretty, modern style of Malbec with plum, coffee, toffee, raspberry, cassis, spice and cocoa flattering the senses. It is medium-bodied with a lengthy finale and medium tannins. Drink this polished red over the next 5 years.

AURELIO MONTES

MONTES OUTER LIMITS CGM 2012, COLCHAGUA VALLEY ($25)

This combination of 50% Carignan, 30% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre displays a huge nose of jam: cherry, raspberry and cassis meets up with violets, vanilla and cocoa. It is full-bodied, with a rich mouth-coating personality and excellent length. Only 2,000, 6 bottle cases were produced of this sexy wine, so if you can find any, do not hesitate at all to purchase.

EMILIANA NOVAS PETIT VERDOT 2011, COLCHAGUA VALLEY ($16)

This organic wine is a terrific value. Violets, blackberry, cassis, liquorice, vanilla and chocolate are all in play in this mediumto-full-bodied red. Firm tannins and high acidity make this a perfect foil for a nice thick cut of prime rib or braised lamb shanks. For the price, stash a few bottles in the cellar.

ODFJELL ALIARA 2011 ($30)

This blend of Carignan (32%) from Maule also has 26% Malbec, 22% Shiraz and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from other regions. It serves up soy sauce, plum, cassis, mint, pepper, raspberry and earth on the nose. The palate adds sweet cherry and cocoa. The finale lingers and supple tannins round everything out.

ODFJELL ORZADA MALBEC 2011, LONTUÉ VALLEY ($20)

Made from 50-year-old vines, this Malbec serves up blueberry compote, blackberry jam, raisins, cinnamon, cloves, earth and violets. It is polished on the palate with a long aftertaste and tannins, which will ensure another 5 years of aging.

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FERNANDO ALMEDA FROM MIGUEL TORRES

MIGUEL TORRES CORDILLERA CARIGNAN 2009, MAULE VALLEY ($25) Plum, earth, cassis, mint and a floral detail emerge out of the glass. The palate is rich with soft tannins caressing the finish.

SANTA CAROLINA BARRICA SELECTION GRAN RESERVA PETIT VERDOT 2011, RAPEL VALLEY ($15)

The first thing to jump out of the glass is a distinct earthiness, followed by sour cherry, banana, plum, earth, violets and pepper. There is a concentrated mid-palate and very good length and PV’s famous tannins. Drink from 2015 to 2020.

SANTA CAROLINA SPECIALTIES CARIGNAN 2010, MAULE VALLEY ($16)

The deep ruby colour heralds a huge bouquet of red flowers, plum and cherry jam, spice, tamarind and molasses. The palate is very ripe, almost sweet, with added nuances of cocoa as well as fresh acids and medium tannins. Now until 2017.

ANAKENA TAMA VINEYARD SELECTION CARIGNAN 2012, MAULE VALLEY ($20)

This is an easy drinking Carignan with a profile of plum, cherry, flowers, earth and spice. There is medium length and easy finish. Drink now. •


THE VALLEY BY GURVINDER BHATIA

IT’S THE BEST-KNOWNwine growing region in North America and one of the most prominent in the world. Yet few people realize that Napa Valley accounts for less than four percent of the total wine production in California and less than half of one percent of the total wine produced in the world. The combination of recognition and small production may put Napa wine producers under a greater microscope than most wine-growing regions (akin to Bordeaux, Burgundy and perhaps even Tuscany and Piedmont). But the attention is due in large part to the remarkable marketing job the region’s producers have accomplished over the years, touting the history, beauty, diversity and quality of Napa and the wines being grown in the area. Cabernet is definitely king, as evidenced by the prices commanded by many of the regions most sought-after wines, but Napa possesses a tremendous diversity with respect to soil conditions and micro-climates within its long and narrow corridor, allowing for a number of grape varieties to be grown well. So it’s not a slamdunk for growers to simply plant Cab and have the dollars roll in. The high expectations and intense scrutiny from consumers, media and industry place a considerable amount of pressure on wineries to produce quality wines. These expectations naturally flow down (or up) to those directly responsible for the wine that ultimately ends up in the bottle ... the winemakers and viticulturists. And they must perform given a certain degree of uncertainty ... vintage variation courtesy of Mother Nature. So what are the benefits, challenges and pressures of being responsible for growing wine in North America’s most recognized wine region, where often you are only as good as your last harvest?

Growing great wine is more involved than just planting vines, picking grapes, fermenting and bottling the juice. There is a certain romance surrounding “the harvest,” but what’s really involved? What better way to understand the harvest and growing wine in Napa than via the people responsible for the wines that end up on wine store shelves, on our dinner tables and in our wine cellars? I had the opportunity to spend time with winemakers Laurie Hook (Beringer Vineyards), Christophe Paubert (Stags’ Leap Winery) and Jon Priest (Etude) as well as viticulturist Will Drayton during the harvest this past fall and see harvest in Napa through their eyes. GURVINDER BHATIA: What makes Napa unique as a winegrowing region? WILL DRAYTON: Napa Valley has a unique combination of soils, climate and wine culture. You can find over half the soil orders that exist worldwide in a valley one-eighth the size of Bordeaux. GB: What determines when a grape is ready to pick? How much do you rely on technology, how much is based on taste and how much is based on instinct? LAURIE HOOK: It is 100 percent determined by taste and prior experience. When picking is top of mind, we are looking for nice concentration of flavours, ripening and softening of tannins that will provide a rich, plush mouthfeel, and a level of acidity that will provide balance and vibrancy. While technology certainly acts as an aid in the picking process and allows us to get our job done more easily and efficiently, it does not make decisions for us.

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EVERY VINTAGE TELLS A STORY AND NO ONE KNOWS THE STORY MORE INTIMATELY THAT THOSE WHO GROW THE GRAPES AND MAKE THE WINE. CHRISTOPHE PAUBERT: Our reliance on technology to determine picking is minimal at this point. For years, I did a lot of poly-phenolic maturity analysis before realizing that I was picking based on aromatics, so I gave up on it. Now it is just a few simple analyses — pH, TA, Brix, and a lot of tastings. GB: In this age of technology, what are the programs, apps and devices that are being used and what purpose do they serve? WD: iCropTrak — tracking labour inputs, time sheets, overlaying maps, geo referenced, scouting and data collection equals minutes per vine for all work required to grow grapes; SoilWeb — soil type underneath your feet based on your GPS position; Sun Seeker — predicts the impact of sun angle and time of year on the light environment in the fruit zone. GB: How have these technological tools made the winemaker’s job easier? LH: These tools and technology advancements have gifted us with time and ease of access — more technical information is now available quicker than ever before. Think vineyard maps, soil types and vigour information all at your fingertips. What has become especially handy is the ability to easily communicate pick specifics in real time.

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JON PRIEST: Remote access to monitor and adjust fermentation parameters (adjust temperature control, fermentation rate, alarms sent for wines out of spec), weather monitoring (vineyard weather stations, NOAA satellite reports, forecasts), online soil surveys, viticulture tracking — how the vine tracked and grew throughout the season, grape ripening trajectory. Nothing is better than being in the vineyard or in the winery to have the visceral connection with the vine or fermentation, however this remote access allows a winemaker to be more nimble and stay connected. Now we do not need to run to our office computers to stay connected. GB: How does flavour ripeness differ from sugar ripeness and what is the balance between the two in your determination of when to pick? JP: Sugar levels are only one of the many factors in determining grape maturity. Flavour is certainly an important factor — good wine can never be made from grapes with poor flavour. Grape maturity is a complex thing; yummy flavour, bright acidity, depth of fruit, the spectrum of fruit flavours, seed and skin maturity (is the tannin green and astringent or full and melting?). Sweetness itself is not a true marker of maturity or quality. CP: In a perfect world, all is ripe at the same time: skin, pulp and seeds. Sugar content, which is part of pulp maturity, is not a concern for red wines. We base picking decisions only on aromatic expression and tannins, both being in the skin. Acidity is also quite important for assessing picking dates for white wines. It is often a marker of aromatic freshness. GB: Do you always agree with the viticulturists as to when the grapes are ready to be picked? Who makes the final call? JP: We work closely with the viticulturists throughout the year; planning for the next season just after harvest, throughout the growing season and up to the day of harvest. This collaboration and intimacy with the growing cycle of the vine lend for agreement. The winemaker and viticulturist need to have a shared understanding of growing the vines all season long, so the decision to harvest is almost always shared. The winemaker has the ultimate say, but it is a collaborative effort to get to that decision. GB: In general, in what order from earliest to latest would the various vineyard sites and grape varieties be harvested? JP: In general, the areas with the mildest winter are the vines that begin their growing season the earliest, and are subsequently harvested first. So, the areas with the most direct maritime influence are the earliest to ripen. In order: Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir/ Chardonnay, and then Cabernet Sauvignon. LH: Generally we’ll pick vineyards south to north. Varietally — Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, and lastly Cabernet Sauvignon.


IN A PERFECT WORLD, ALL IS RIPE AT THE SAME TIME: SKIN, PULP AND SEEDS. GB: There is a perception that handpicked grapes are treated more gently. Is this true? CP: Not necessarily — the timing is different, but the treatment is actually very similar. Mechanical harvesters can sort and de-stem right in the vineyard, where handpicked fruit receives the same gentle treatment once it arrives at the winery. JP: The paradigm has shifted with newer technology and grape sorting capability onboard the harvester. The new harvester can maintain the condition of the grape better than our existing winery de-stemmer, and eliminate two steps in the process. Now it can be said that the harvesting can be gentler than picking by hand and processing through winery equipment. GB: How did the harvest in 2013 differ from the norm? JP: The mild and dry growing season prompted an early and quick harvest. This is the most compressed harvest that I have ever experienced. Thankfully, we entered harvest with a good plan; we remained flexible (Mother Nature is really in charge), and had a fantastic team both in the vineyard and the winery to work hard and tirelessly to make it happen. The quality is high across the board and we all feel very proud of the effort needed to capture the great potential of the vintage. LH: This year marked the earliest start for Beringer in roughly 25 years, but we were aided with moderate temperatures and overall perfect growing conditions, which stretched the picking season to ensure ideal ripening.

GB: When you taste the finished wine years after the harvest, are you able to instinctively relate it back to what was done in the vineyard during that harvest? JP: Every vintage tells a story and no one knows the story more intimately that those who grow the grapes and make the wine. Not only is the reference instinctive, it’s visceral and experiential. Particularly with Pinot Noir. The transparency that this wine has can very vividly show all of the beauty and the challenges of any given vintage. More than this, when I taste a past vintage, the first memories are of the people who were involved, the stories that were made and now told, and the good times that went into making that wine. If a vintage tells a story, the wine is the storyteller. LH: When I taste a wine years later, I find myself reflecting back on what that specific harvest was like, and what choices we made. I also think about the different people that were involved and what was going on in the world. Opening an older bottle of wine allows me to slow down and reminisce, and for a short moment, travel back in time. GB: Any final thoughts on harvest in Napa Valley? CP: When I first arrived in 2009, I was told that Napa Valley was very consistent in terms of climate and vintage profile. It is my fifth harvest here, and they have been all significantly different, which makes each year interesting. JP: Is there a better place on Earth to make wine? •

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THE

GENERATION

BY TOD STEWART

CLOSE YOUR EYES FOR A SEC AND FOCUS ON THIS WORD: NAPA. What associations are conjured? The capital of California’s fine wine industry? Established, well-to-do winemaking families? A region where Cab is king? The birthplace of “cult wines” that require you to sign on to a waiting list that will finally grant you access to a single, precious bottle (which you can then sell at an auction for five times the outrageous amount you paid)? An upscale playground for wealthy tourists? Maybe. But are these associations accurate? Is Napa really all Screaming Eagle and The French Laundry? Or is there more to this parcel of paradise than us non-indigenous types realize? To find out, Quench interviewed five “next generation” Napa wine personalities — kids who grew up among (in many cases) pioneering Napa vintners on what are now internationally acclaimed estates, and who are now taking the reins themselves. They bring a unique perspective on Napa — where it’s been, where it is and, perhaps, where it might be going. Though they may not share a complete consensus of opinion, what they certainly do share is knowledge, passion, and a strong commitment to Napa’s future success.

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Quench When people think of Napa they may envision it as the “elder statesman” of the Cali wine community — established, reliable, upscale and more or less set in its ways. How accurate a picture would this be? Are there things going on “behind the scenes,” as it were, in Napa that the average wine consumer might not be aware of? If so, what? Doug Shafer In my experience, Napa Valley has always been in a state of evolution. The wine business our family became a part of in 1973 was different than it was 10 years later and 10 years after that, and so on. The kind of work we perform today in the vineyard, the level of detail we go into with micro-irrigation, leafing, fruit thinning, et cetera, bears almost no resemblance to what vineyard work looked like 20 or 30 years ago. What happens on the crush pad and in the cellar has continued to evolve, allowing us to produce wines with greater purity. How we relate to our customers has changed dramatically with the emergence of the Internet and social media. In regard to the parts of Napa Valley I am familiar with, I don’t see a region at a standstill.


mike hendry  HENDRY RANCH WINES   

Mike Hendry The “upscale” side of

Napa is fairly new. My grandparents paid $11,000 for 120 acres of land near the town of Napa in 1939. Most people would say that was a good buy, but they forget that land in Napa still wasn’t worth much in 1970. In 1978, a good vineyard acre in Napa was worth around $2,800. In 1994, the value was around $15,000, and by 2006, vineyard values had ballooned to around $250,000 an acre. It is only in the last 15 years that Napa has become upscale and expensive.

Q Napa has garnered a reputation

based (largely) on the Bordeaux model for red wines, with Chardonnay flying the flag for whites. Again, is this an accurate way to see things or is the region taking a more experimental approach to grape varieties?

Ray Signorello Although there are small amounts of experimental wines being produced in Napa, the future of the region will still be built on the success of the Bordeaux varietals.

When it comes to getting a first-hand account of the Napa wine industry, the Hendry family provides a valuable resource. It has harvested the same plot of vineyard since 1939. With over 70 harvests under its belt, the family has both a firm attachment to the land and keen insight into the ways and whims of those in the business. Mike Hendry has been an important part of the overall operations of Hendry Ranch for over 25 years, managing the vineyard and directing sales and marketing efforts. Passionate and extremely knowledgeable, Mike embraces the past and present success of his winery while keeping an eye open to the future. “There is always room for improvement,” he admits. “I also believe it is necessary to adapt to the ever-changing wine market. Vineyards generally change much more slowly than consumer preferences. Staying relevant requires foresight, imagination, and some luck. I am dying to try a few things, but it is a little early to talk about them.”

Janet Viader We are lucky

that the Napa Valley climate allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of wine grapes. Moreover, the American Viticultural Area appellation system is tied to the land and does not restrict the varieties produced in any given AVA. The focus on Cabernet in the Napa Valley is a result of this variety’s proven success and quality in the region, which gave way to a highly marketable product and brand. Same story with Chardonnay, but I actually see a lot more Sauvignon Blanc these days. While “Cab is King,” nonetheless, there is some saturation in the wine market for high-end Napa Valley Cabernets, and more often I see newer wineries producing alternative varietals like Verdelho, Petite Syrah, Tempranillo and Malbec, perhaps with the intention of exploring or creating a new niche market.

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lisa peju  PEJU PROVINCE WINERY   

doug shafer  SHAFER VINEYARDS    Doug Shafer was still a teenager when his family moved from the Chicago suburbs to a new home in the foothills of the Stags’ Leap Palisades in Napa Valley. His interest in wine grew steadily as he helped his father replant existing vineyards and clear land for additional expansion. His interest led to his enrolling in the oenology and viticulture program at the University of California at Davis. After graduating and working as assistant winemaker at Lakespring Winery, Doug took the helm as Shafer’s winemaker in 1983 and becoming the winery’s president in 1994. He oversees the facility’s operations, sales and marketing efforts. However, his enduring legacy may be the awardwinning wine style for which Shafer has become world-renowned.

Lisa Peju Chardonnay is the most planted white grape in Napa Valley, but it seems down in popularity in recent years, with Sauvignon Blanc seeming like it is all anyone talks about. I like a good Viognier and would love if we could grow that one day. Q Sustainable, organic, biodynamic

— buzzwords we hear more and more of. To what extent are Napa winemakers embracing these practices? Is it practical to farm this way or does it depend on the unique topography of

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The oldest daughter of Peju co-founders Tony and Herta (H.B.) Peju, Lisa is a girl on the go. She sometimes travels to three different states in a week’s time to represent Peju Winery at winemaker dinners, trade and consumer events and to maintain and establish relationships with retail partners. The Pejus’ Rutherford vineyard — where the family has been making wine for over 30 years — has been Lisa’s home since she was six years old. It was then that she moved with her parents from Southern California to wine country to begin a life devoted to growing grapes, producing highquality wines, and finding new and innovative ways to market the family brand.

your vineyards – microclimate, soil composition, etc?

JV At VIADER, we have wrestled with this issue throughout the nearly three decades our family has been in business. Our farming practices have been organic since the beginning in 1986. In 1997, under the direction of my mother and winery founder Delia Viader, we decided to take it to the next level and explore biodynamic farming. My brother, Alan Viader, came on board to manage the vineyard in 2002, and he continued to expand the biodynamic program. Over the years, however, we saw diminishing crop yields with no noticeable increase in quality, but a major increase in farming costs. Biodynamic farming requires much more labour due to repeated applications of things like yarrow tea, special oils, etc. And our 32-degree slope, western-ex-


posed, rocky hillside vineyard is already very costly to farm. In 2004, we decided to keep what worked from the biodynamic philosophy and continue with organic methods that proved most effective, economic, and were still aligned with our core values.

LP We own three vineyards: our Rutherford vineyard is certified organic; the Wappo and Persophone vineyards are farmed sustainably. For us and I think many of the other Napa wineries, these are not buzzwords. We know that by farming sustainable/organic produces healthier vines, therefore better fruit. DS At Shafer, we have been practising sustainable farming since the late 1980s, including using our own compost for fertilizer and planting cover crops as a way of creating a rich insect habitat in which the “good bugs” prey on the “bad bugs” that would otherwise blight our vines. Cover crops also prevent erosion, keeping soil from entering the watershed and they provide macronutrients to the vines when they’re ploughed under each season.

We have erected songbird houses to attract birds that tend to eat flying insects and we have put up hawk perches and owl nesting boxes to give these flying predators a good vantage point from which to hunt the gophers that otherwise eat at young vine roots. We conserve our water very carefully and we have been 100 percent solar powered since 2004. I don’t have numbers on how widespread practices like this are throughout the Valley, but I do know that they are now commonplace whereas they were considered odd and exotic back in the 1980s.

Q Are Napa winemakers such as your-

self consciously attempting to change the style of their wines (i.e., lower alcohol, more elegance, etc.) or is the character you’ve established over the years something you’re satisfied with — perhaps with a tweak or two here and there?

LP I’ve always thought that our wines were more

on the elegant side, not over extracted, lots of layers of flavour. We have attempted to temper the alco-

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janet viader  VIADER    Janet Viader grew up in the Napa Valley on the vineyards of VIADER, which was founded in 1986 by her mother, Delia Viader. She has spent time in the wine regions of Western Europe, Argentina, and back home in the Pacific Northwest, improving her wine education, language skills, and palate. In January 2007, Janet joined the family business as the director of sales and marketing. She currently serves on the Board of “NG: The Next Generation in Wine,” a collaborative marketing group of second-generation family winemakers. Janet is also one of the youngest Board Directors elected to represent the Napa Vintners Association, the non-profit trade association responsible for promoting and protecting the Napa Valley appellation with a membership of nearly 500 Napa Valley wineries.

hol; if a wine has a lot of sugar the alcohol tends to be higher. We don’t want to manipulate the wine, we want to let it evolve on its own.

companies. Many of the family owned and family built wineries have been sold in recent years. I view all of these things as negatives.

MH I think wine styles have constantly changed, and will continue to do so. The same goes with cars, clothes, or food. With wine, ripeness and the use of oak and sugar are things that seem to move in cycles. Many of Napa’s wines today are made in a very different style than they were 20 years ago. Ultimately, these wine styles are driven by what the consumer wants. Happily, consumers don’t all want the same thing.

RS Wines are becoming more about terroir, but

RS We have always practised the more restrained,

elegant approach to our wines, with moderate ripeness and new oak, and firm tannins and acidity. So it is just a tweak here and there [from year to year].

Q What have been some of the most positive and negative trends impacting the region and its wines? MH I think that the reputation and recognition of Napa around the world has never been better. As a “brand” Napa has never been healthier. Land values have ballooned in recent years, and this makes it increasingly difficult for families to hang on to their land. It also makes the wines much more expensive. Much of Napa is now owned by investment groups and publicly traded companies. The vast majority of Napa is farmed by vineyard management

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we are still plagued by having too many overripe “fruit bombs.” Another issue continues to be too many “zip code” or “virtual” wineries … new producers making small amounts of very expensive first releases without owning a vineyard or winery.

Q A successful French vintner told me that any wine — made anywhere under any conditions — costing more than $25 (USD) is being “vanity priced.” Comments? JV I completely disagree. To start, Napa Valley land is incredibly expensive. Add planting costs, farming costs, labour costs, a three-year production cycle, bottling, packaging.… Then add the cost of marketing wine to consumers and, in the three-tier system, the costs of wholesaler and direct-to-consumer licenses required to sell “alcohol” in any state. And last but not least, local, state and federal taxes, excise taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes of other states, employee health benefits, liability insurance, workman compensation insurance, international brand protection … the list goes on. To sustain a business, given the low production levels of Napa Valley vineyards, the vast majority would not break even at $25 per bottle.


MH This is an interesting and important question, particularly in Ontario. In Ontario, our wines generally cost almost 10 times the price we sold them for. In Napa, it generally costs around $25 to make a good bottle of Cabernet, excluding winery overhead. Producers and consumers can both be frustrated by what it costs to purchase a decent bottle of wine. Q Where do you see your winery — and the Napa wine community in general — going over the next decade? How confident are you that the future holds promise rather than peril? MH I am very optimistic about the future of our winery. I think we have an excellent vineyard. We have owned most of [it] since 1939, and we control every aspect of the production of our wines. The wines we produce are 100 percent from our estate. This allows us to provide high quality wine at a good value, and this is something that people recognize. The peril lies in the increasing costs and the pitfalls of being trendy. The downfall of every winery or wine region begins with the perception of producing decent overpriced wine. DS I can’t speak for the region, but at Shafer I see us continuing to push ourselves to improve quality in the vineyard and in the cellar as well as with connecting with our customers.

JV My family is putting a lot of effort into working smarter and more efficiently, so we can continue to keep the winery under family direction for generations to come. Delia has built the VIADER brand, and with the inclusion of my brother Alan and myself, we are continuing to build upon that reputation of high quality wines and consistency. While we may experiment with different varietals or marketing tactics, we keep the vision of brand sustainability in the forefront. •

ray signorello  SIGNORELLO ESTATE    Ray Signorello Jr. began his journey as winemaker and vineyard owner in the Napa Valley during the mid 1980s, working alongside his father, Ray Sr. until the elder Signorello’s passing in 1998. Born in San Francisco, Ray moved to Vancouver, where the Signorello family continues to maintain a home. Ray divides his time between Napa, San Francisco, Vancouver, and business-related travel. He continues to be involved in the family winery and is also President of British Columbia’s Evolution Fine Wines.

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HAMMER PHOTOS AND TEXT BY RICK VANSICKLE

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Sh!-Sh!-Sh!

The sudden scolding comes in rapid fire. And again. Sh!-Sh!-Shhhhh!!! The unruly throng that has gathered here on a Friday night in October to part with over $1.7 million in exchange for some old wine quickly hushes up. Waddington auctioneer Stephen Ranger knows how to quiet down a room of wellheeled and misbehaving bidders. After all, he tells us, he was a schoolteacher in another life. But the giddiness of the evening, the extravagant wines with dinner and the excitement of scoring some really old, really rare and really expensive wines has the makeshift auction hall at the Trump Tower in downtown Toronto all abuzz. Ranger will be shushing a lot before this night is over, and, if that doesn’t work, “I’ll break into a little rap,” he deadpans. There is an air of frivolity as Ranger declares the auction open to bidding. It’s partially fuelled by a steady diet of First Growth Bordeaux and fine champagne that some bidders paid $325 a head to enjoy with dinner before the auction. But make no mistake about it, for the bidders in the room along with those on the Internet, phone and absentee bidders, this is serious business. One wrong move, one scratch of the head or momentary lapse in judgment, and they could be out thousands of dollars. Buying wine at an auction is not for the squeamish, the light of wallet or those who have not done their homework. The annual Vintages Auction of Rare and Fine Wines started in 2001. Before Vintages (part of Ontario’s government monopoly on booze retailing) got into the game, there were no commercial wine auctions in Ontario at all. The only outlet wine collectors had for unloading their older, prized wines was through the various charity auctions that took place mainly in larger cities such as Toronto and Ottawa. Even then, the only way to make any money off your collection was through a tax deduction that was based on the appraised value of the wine you “donated” to the charity conducting the auction. Often, the appraised value far exceeded the actual sale price and the Canada Revenue Agency eventually tightened the rules on wine donations, making it far less desirable to go that route for sellers.


I am seated in the centre of the action for the Friday night portion of the Vintages auction with paddle number 22. It is the first of two sessions for the auction, with the second part moving to Waddington’s downtown Toronto location the next day. Servers keep glasses of champagne topped up while those who paid the price for a fancy pre-auction dinner occupy the front of the room, sitting around tables stocked generously with Leoville las Cases 2000, Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 and Graham’s Vintage Port 2004. They look quite primed to dive into the delicate art of bidding on rare wines. The first part of the auction is devoted to “non-reserve” items, meaning that they will be sold at whatever price is bid. The majority of the auction has a reserve price set for each lot; if the minimum is not achieved, the item is removed from the sale and will be re-introduced in the Vintages online auction the following month. The non-reserve wines set the tone for the rest of the auction and provide a good barometer of what people are willing to pay. Lot Number One is three bottles of Carruades de Lafite Rothschild 1999 and one bottle of the 2000 with an estimate between $1,100 and $1,600. Ranger gets the action going quickly: “$800, do I hear $800? $700, anyone interested?” Bidding starts at $500 and quickly rises to $600 before the auctioneer suddenly lowers his gavel and we are underway. It’s a shot across the bow from Ranger, who sets the tone for the pace of the auction. If you snooze, you lose.

RANGER WORKS UPa good cadence and bidders are picking up some good deals: $300 for six bottles of Napa’s Dalla Valle Cabernet 2003 (high estimate $800), a six-litre bottle of Perrot-Minot Chambolle Musigny La Combe d’Orveau 2006 for $800 (high estimate $2,000) and six bottles of Robert Foley Claret 2005 for $500 (high estimate $1,000). I get caught up in the heat of the moment, bidding on five bottles of Morey Puligny Montrachet La Truffieres 1995. “Anyone at $300?” My paddle quickly goes up, only to be trumped by the guy right beside me. It rises quickly to $450.

I’m in, but when $480 rolls around, I bow out and the gavel comes down. Missed it by that much! It seems everything I want, older Châteauneuf-du-Papes, Mondavi To-Kalon Cabernet Reserve, and off-vintage Bordeaux lots, is also popular with this crowd hell-bent on scoring a deal. It quickly becomes evident that are two types of buyers here: those who are looking strictly for high-end vanity wines (First Growth Bordeaux, Super Tuscans, Napa cult wines, top Burgundy and Port

or had no interest whatsoever, but the auction house goes through the motions to maintain integrity for the consignors. The auction is not without its headscratching moments. Six bottles of Domaine de Chevelier 1982 sold for $500 in robust bidding, at the high end of the estimate. Robert Parker rated this wine 55 points in 2009 and had this to say about it: “Rusty-coloured and vegetal, this 1982 resembles green tea more than a serious claret. It is completely dead, and can only get worse.” It pays to do your homework.

AUCTIONEER STEPHEN RANGER

in the best vintages) and those, like me, looking for interesting older wines to drink that don’t have the pedigree of the more expensive wines. You know, wines mere morals can afford. The difference between the two? The former has no governor; he/she will bid until they win the item, sometimes out of pride, sometimes just because they can. The latter, like me, have a set budget and will quickly bow out of the bidding or face the wrath of his wife when the Visa bill arrives. There are tedious stretches at a wine auction such as this. Long periods where nothing of interest comes up. I sat through Lot 132, 10 full cases of Château Leoville Las Cases 2000, where each case sold at or near the low estimate of $1,900; and the exceedingly boring Lot 173, 16 cases of Vega Sicila Unico 1999, that were either sold at $3,400 per case

SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AUCTION INCLUDED: A vertical of Château Mouton Rothschild from 1945-2001 (but missing the 1997) sold for $56,160. Previous verticals of this have sold for as low at $37,000 and as high as $65,000. A single bottle of 2009 Domanine Romanee Conti Romanee Conti sold for $17,550. Six bottles of Château Haut Brion 1945 sold for $18,720. According to Vintages, overall sales were up from $1.5 million last year to $1.7 million this year for 1,404 lots. The sell-through (lots that sold) was up from 77.7 percent last year to 84.23 percent this year.

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An Opus One vertical from 1979 to 2003 sold just under the low estimate of $4,200.

Barry O’Brien, director of special projects for the LCBO, called the results of the 2013 auction “very good.” He said the Vintages auction attracts buyers looking for “classic” Old World wines — “if it’s Bordeaux in original wood (boxes) it moves,” he says. Cult Napa Valley and top Burgundian (though not a lot of it at this auction) wines also sold well, with Chilean and Spanish wines sluggish

(only 50 percent of wines from Spain sold, the vast amount of the unsold lots was the Vega Sicila Unico).

WITH THE ADDITIONof online bidding, absentee bidding and phone bidding, the bidder in the room has many more factors to consider. O’Brien said there were 335 bidders online during Saturday’s event while I counted fewer than 100, mostly male bidders, actually on-site. The online component opens the auction up to outof-province and out-of-country bidding as far away as Hong Kong. Many of the bidders have deep, deep pockets, says O’Brien, walking away with $100,000 and up in wine over two days of bidding.

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Warren F. Porter, president of Iron Gate Private Wine Management, has been monitoring the Vintages auction for six years. He maintains that sellers are better off taking their wines south of the border where they can fetch better prices. He explains that auction houses such as Hart Davis Hart, with sales of $20 million in four auctions for the first half of 2013, can return a higher price for sellers and the cost for getting the wine to Chicago, through an agent such as Iron Gate, is less than $10 a bottle.

“We have found it’s a much better return in the United States; we just don’t have a buyer’s market (in Canada),” Porter says. He says the Vintages auction hasn’t increased significantly in years and he sees some of the same lots, such as the vertical of Mouton, coming back for resale year after year. Porter has some tips for buyers at commercial wine auctions: “There are deals if you do your homework. You can find some good bargains.” It’s better to bid online or through an absentee bid. “It takes out the emotion of bidding. Don’t be there.” Set limits. “If your limit is $1,000, stick to it. Know when to walk away.”

And, most importantly, factor in the buyer’s premium of 17 percent (what the auctioneers charge) and the HST of 13 percent. When the gavel falls at $1,000, you are actually paying $1,300. That 30 percent add-on can be a killer.

WHILE THE TWO BIGGESTprovinces, Ontario and Quebec, are the only ones to conduct commercial auctions through their liquor board monopolies in Canada, there are thriving charity auctions in most of the other provinces. Over the years, I have stocked my modest cellar with wines purchased at many of them: The Willow Park Wines and Spirits Charity Wine Auction, now in its 20th year and one of the largest charity auctions in the country, holds its glitzy affair every November (I have both donated to it and purchased wine); the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Fine Wine Auction, once the marquee wine auction in Ontario before Vintages entered the fray, also holds its auction in November; and many others on a smaller scale that come and go over the years. One of the most expensive bottles of wine I ever purchased was at the Maggie Trudeau hosted charity wine auction in support of WaterCan in Ottawa many years ago. I bought a bottle of 1963 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port (my wife’s birth year) for $250 and a few other gems. Most recently, after walking away with nothing at the Vintages auction, I came across a small online charity auction in support of Serve, a Toronto-based organization that works with youth aged 13 to 24 in inner-city communities. I bid furiously on a few items that caught my attention and eventually was successful on two lots — six bottles of topdrawer older Châteauneuf-du-Pape and three bottles of top vintage white Rhône blends. My total was a very modest $483 (estimate was $1,215 for the two lots), which included the 15 percent buyer’s premium. The purchase was tax-free, as the auction was for charity. For me, that was a no-brainer. I bid from the comfort of my own couch, the proceeds went to charity and I paid no tax on the items. Popping the cork on one of those beauties will be just a little more satisfying. •

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TOOLS BY MERLE ROSENSTEIN

Each trade relies on time-honoured techniques, tools and materials. Carpenters pound claw hammers, construct formwork and fix wood floors. Electricians grip lineman’s pliers to fix heavy wires. Cooks chop carrots and covet Japanese knives. Like cooks, bartenders combine liquids and solids, balancing bitter, sweet and sour, following proven recipes. For the home bartender, the right gadget can mean the difference between a pleasant buzz and pounding headache. Quench talked to owners of two cocktail supply stores about the top tools for the home bar. Bartenders in Calgary and Montreal told us the must-have spirits, bitters and syrups to impress the fussiest friends and please a meddling mother-in-law.

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STYLISH STORAGE

Built-in bars are ideal for the home mixologist, offering plenty of room to play. Another option, the bar cart, does double duty as storage for plates, plants or books, and can travel from room to room. Carts come in different styles from vintage brass to bamboo tiki, and from industrial stainless steel to modern acrylic. A cart can blend in with the décor or serve as an accent piece. Pull out your favourite glassware and antique etched decanter to create a delicious display. Kristen Voisey, owner of BYOB Cocktail Emporium in Toronto, designs mini-bars for condos. Voisey’s Queen Street West store carries carts including a red folding model she inherited from her aunt. “This is my aunt Jean’s. In her will it just said — BAR — KRISTEN. So this is not for sale.” Voisey shared a picture of her home bar. “I have two carts and then I have a shelf with just bitters and a shelf with just Champagne coups and a lot of liqueurs I like to play around with,” she says.

TOP TOOLS

Home bartenders can mix like a professional with a shaker, jigger, muddler, oversized ice cubes and the right glassware. MEASURE: Jiggers, two small cups joined together, measure al-

cohol and keep quantities consistent from drink to drink.

40 // February/March 2014

MASH: A muddler is a long pestle used to mash ingredients (e.g.

fruit or mint) at the bottom of a glass to bring out the flavour before liquids are added.

SHAKE: Preferred by most bartenders, the Boston Shaker has a mixing glass and a tight-fitting stainless steel cup. The stainless steel cup fits snugly over the glass, preventing spilling. STRAIN: A Hawthorne or Julep strainer separates liquid from ice and fruit, herbs or other ingredients for neat drinks or drinks with clean ice. SAMPLE: Would a Martini taste the same if served in a rocks

glass? Probably not. Presentation is part of the taste experience. Must-have glasses for the home bar are the conical shaped cocktail or Martini glass for classic cocktails and neat drinks; the highball glass, a tall tumbler for mixed drinks; the Old Fashioned or rocks glass, a short tumbler for mixed drinks and drinks on the rocks; the Champagne flute and the shot glass. Rod Moore, owner of the Modern Bartender in Vancouver, collects Japanese barware. As he explains, “Japanese mixing glasses and bar tools are in demand and are also very expensive. When it comes to the glassware, the most popular piece is called a Yarai mixing glass. The Yarai has an etched design and is very


heavy. They are sturdy and they are also beautiful, so it’s a high quality glass as compared to a North American one that is much thinner, much lighter and not as pretty.” Gabrielle Panaccio, winner of the 2013 Grey Goose Pour Masters Bartender Competition, suggests serving drinks in a Moscow Mule mug. According to Panaccio, “The Moscow Mule mug keeps your drink really cold and will impress family or friends.” The Moscow Mule is a vodka cocktail born around 1941, made with lime juice and ginger beer. The drink was traditionally served in a five ounce copper mug engraved with a kicking mule.

stove or heat source is good for cooking, likewise the ice is definitely important for bartending. The ice you use affects the cocktails you make. Smaller ice melts quicker, which adds more water to your cocktail.” Panaccio says, “Having big cubes is a small detail that people will really like. They’ll say — oh my God, how come you have this at home? You can put flowers, citrus or tea in your ice. A small ice tray costs ten bucks and can bring a lot of fun to your night.”

PERFECT POUR

A supply of base liquors allows the home bartender to mix the most common cocktails anytime. Popular base spirits are gin, tequila, vodka, dark or spiced rum, light rum, bourbon, brandy, Canadian whisky, Irish whiskey, rye whisky and scotch. Panaccio also suggests keeping some Calvados on hand: “Calvados is a nice spirit to drink on ice. It’s a really old spirit that usually everybody is comfortable drinking and it’s easy to make cocktails with it,” she says.

MIX IT

Juices and syrups add a flavour boost to cocktails. Using fresh juice is best. As Panaccio says, “Get a nice juicer. Forget the fork. When you have a juicer, it is pressing all of the lime. In the peel you have some oil, when you press it you get that oil.” Home bartenders can also make simple syrups. “Always have a syrup — equal parts of sugar to equal parts of water. If you add ginger to your syrup, you have ginger syrup. If you add apple, you have apple syrup. Simple syrup is always a good base and you can add whatever you have in your fridge,” offers Panaccio. Bitters are made from alcohol infused with herbs, fruit barks, seeds, spices and other ingredients. A dash of bitters adds flair and depth to drinks. The best bitters for a home bar are Angostura, Angostura Orange, Fee Brothers, Peychaud’s, Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6 and Bittermen’s and the Bitter Truth Bitters. According to Moore, “bitters are sort of like micro-brew beer.” As he explains, “For a long time there were only about a half a dozen big brand beers to choose from and now there’s all these micro-brews opening up all over the place and you’ve got choice and selection coming out the backside and some of it is really, really good. That’s what bitters are. For a long time there was one or two to choose from and nobody carried them anyway and now that the cocktail world has really come back into full swing, we’ve got over a hundred flavours and there’s still a hundred more we could bring in.” Panaccio recommends Luxardo Maraschino cherry liquor. “It’s a really complex flavour. You can add a little bit to your cocktail no matter if it’s gin, vodka, whisky, absinthe or tequila. Add a little bit to give a touch of freshness to your drink.”

COLD AS ICE

Our two expert bartenders highlighted the importance of ice. Calgary bartender Jimmy Nguyen, a winner in the 2013 Calgary Made With Love Regional Competition explains: “Just as a good

TOP TIPS

FROM MOORE: Invest in quality tools. “Many people buy cheap tools to start, as they aren’t sure if they’re going to stick with it. Then they come back and buy expensive ones. Whichever way, just get the ones you want if you can afford it right off the top. You never regret buying quality.” FROM NGUYEN: Get good ingredients. If you want to have a good

drink use good quality ingredients, just like cooking. Get ideas from going out to bars on what to do at home.”

FROM PANACCIO: Be selective and like what you drink. “Do not be-

lieve everything you read on the web for cocktail recipes. Get a book. Make sure you go with someone who knows what they are doing. If you follow a recipe and you like it sweeter, add some sugar.”

FROM VOISEY: Have fun. “Try to use bitters and syrups as much as you can. Play around.” EMBELLISH: “For decoration, you can put smoked meat or different kinds of savoury stuff. You can do a brochette with a stick — see what you have in the house and find new forms or new stuff to put on the drink,” says Panaccio.

Getting the right gear for a trade is key and enhances the end product, no matter what it is. For serious home bartenders the way is clear: Create space at home to display classic barware, get good quality tools and ingredients, experiment, think out side the box, practice, and have fun. •

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THORN Rain clatters on the metal roof above me, my boots are muddy, and I’m clutching a jícara, a small cup made from a gourd. My companions and I have spent the last four hours careening down the highway from Mexico City in a little sedan to get to this farm in the remote hills of Guerrero, close to Acapulco. We’re here for one reason, and one reason only: to drink mezcal. “Drink it,” Israel, our somewhat-English-speaking guide says, gesturing to my cup. When I ask for some particulars on what I might be drinking, he just repeats his command, so I take a sip. The liquid in my mouth is fruity, smoky, delicious — and strong. “Mezcal con Jamaica!” he announces, triumphant, expecting that I’ll enjoy the hibiscus-infused version of the agave liquor. And I do. Lower-profile than tequila, mezcal has managed to maintain its distinct, regional charm in the face of growing

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popularity. Made all over Mexico by small producers using different varieties of agave cactus (known in Mexico as maguey), mezcal boasts differing flavour profiles depending upon growing conditions — similar to the concept of terroir in wine. The best-known producing region is Oaxaca, with the most popular variety of maguey being espadin. Guerrero’s is made with maguey papalote, and it’s got a smoky petrol flavour with a hint of cheese — strong, unusual, and delicious. The tiny, spare distillery we’re visiting produces mezcal for La Botica, the charming bar in Mexico City’s upscale Condesa neighbourhood that arguably launched the mezcal trend 10 years ago. The well-heeled, hipster-y clientele at La Botica and other mezcal bars are

a world away from the farmers here in Guerrero: simply clad, and speaking no English, they cheerfully produce the spirit in large vats, the setting more reminiscent of a coffee plantation than what you’d picture when hearing the words “artisanal producer.” It’s this disparity of worlds that prompted Juan Lozoya, La Botica’s owner and the secretary of CRM (Consejo Regulador del Mezcal), the body that regulates mezcal, to rally for an idea: a fair-trade organization that would deliver more profits back into the small communities where mezcal is made — a first for the industry. “It is obviously an ambitious objective, but we want to differentiate the category, and especially to do what is right: that is, keep a good portion of the economic benefits of a growing market with the small producers of mezcal in many rural areas in Mexico,” he tells me, contrasting the small-batch, multiple producer manufacturing with other spirits like rum or whisky, where a few large brands dominate production. “We are now talking to existing NGOs who will certify the fair trade process, so that we are not judge of the whole process.” Though it doesn’t have a name yet, Lozoya expects the mezcal fair trade organization’s first meeting to take place in March 2014. Based on the interest he has seen, he anticipates that about 30


NY

BY JENNIFER CROLL

percent of the 100-some-odd brands will sign up, making fair trade mezcal a good chunk of the market. The following evening in Mexico City, my friend and I descend into a dark basement bar to sip on small glasses of this dreamy liquid, absorbing as much of the stuff as is borderline reasonable before our early morning flight back to Canada. As tribute to our visit to the producers, we pick a bottle from Guerrero, and it delivers a familiar kick reminiscent of the stuff we drank from the jícaras under the tin canopy. It’s a taste that lingers, and when we board the plane, I think of those green, remote hills and hope that, as I nurture my growing affection for mezcal, those producers I met will reap the benefits.

MEZCALES DE LEYENDA TLACUACHE, OAXACA ($55)

Opening with a fresh nose of green apples, this mezcal is sweet and peppery with a pleasant, smoky finish. Great for casual sipping.

PIERDE ALMAS DOBADAAN, OAXACA ($119)

Fruity, grassy, herbal, and unctuous, the Dobadaan is a potent, distinct mezcal that’s exciting from start to finish.

FIDENCIO TOBALÁ, OAXACA ($169)

The “king of mescals,” this Tobalá is rich and smoky with a heavy minerality, an easy sell for a Scotch lover.

EL JOLGORIO TEPEZTATE, OAXACA ($169) Strong and musty on the nose, this bold and complex mezcal presents strong barbecue flavours with a hint of tropical fruit.

SOMBRA MEZCAL, OAXACA ($94)

Sombra starts off with a nose of peaty, smoky roasted pineapple and boasts an even balance of fruit and spice in the mouth, with an oaky, tobacco finish.

FIDENCIO PECHUGA, OAXACA ($148)

A mezcal for special events, pechuga is produced with macerated fruit and a chicken breast hung in the still. Smooth and smoky, it’s delicious and full-bodied.

MEZCALES DE LEYENDA MURCIELAGO, DURANGO ($105)

Made from wild agave, a fruity mezcal with a fresh apple flavour, light smoke, and a mineral finish. •

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Quick eas &

BY DUNCAN HOLMES

ON THE LATE AFTERNOON THAT THIS ASSIGNMENT CAME IN BY EMAIL, I WAS COINCIDENTALLY WHIPPING UP A QUICK AND EASY EVENING MEAL. I say whipping up, because if I’d done it any other way, it wouldn’t have been quick and easy. For all of you foodies out there, what I was doing was decidedly down-market as meals go. I butterflied and seasoned a breast of chicken, seared it on both sides in a very hot, buttered pan. 5 or so minutes later, I removed the chicken from the pan, sliced it diagonally into thin strips, returned it to the pan, and swamped in a can of cream-of-mushroom soup. Then I covered it, turned the heat to medium-low and simmered it for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I cooked up some bow-tie pasta, and steamed beans with julienned carrots; colourful pairings for what was in the pan. I served the chicken atop the pasta, with a dusting of freshly ground nutmeg and dinner — had to consistently be tickety-boo. Really? Why? It was chopped parsley. The whole thing, including pour- kind of like Santa Claus. While we suspected that he might not ing a glass of white wine, took about 20 minutes. have existed, we never took chances — and I still don’t! As for Nothing fancy, but certainly quick and easy, and, for the Queen, who still had half a century to go in her reign when we were consistently sprucing up our meals and manners, she an ordinary Tuesday, tasty enough. Always-versatile poulet often gets the nod for never showed up. But knowing that she might certainly kept quick and easy meals, as does pasta. Dress pasta up us on our toes, and preparing for this perhaps-grand occasion with just about any kind of sauce, add a vegetable or a took time. And thankfully, we had plenty of that. In the manner salad, and presto, it’s dinner. And for quick and easy, that things worked in those less-frantic days, mother had time don’t forget the humble egg. Count the many ways to to prepare the evening meal and gather her brood to be seated an elegant omelette. Whip up a couple of eggs, fold around a traditional table, where the courses unfolded in a them together with ham, cheese, shrimp, something stately, Downton Abbey manner. Ah, yesterday. hot and spicy, whatever, and again, dinner in minutes. These days, by necessity in a go-go world, the rule has to be With or without the evening news. quick and easy. Too often, dinner is unfortunately the disappointAs kids, we used to have this thing in our house. ing contents of a four-colour box from a supermarket freezer; Just in case the Queen showed up for dinner, ev- takeout from a restaurant or a deli; a thawed-out tub of longerything, including what we ate, and how we ate forgotten, badly labelled soup from the home freezer. (I know. it — and other stuff that wasn’t necessarily part of These things never happen at your place, right?)

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beet salad

WITH SHERRY VINAIGRETTE, HAZELNUTS AND GORGONZOLA

This salad is a great additional option for the duck, if you have more time. Cook the beets until tender (either in a pot with water, salt and a splash of vinegar, or in a roasting pan — covered in the oven at 400˚F — with 1/2 cup of water, a splash of sherry vinegar, a pinch of salt and sage. Chop the beets into wedges, and toast the hazelnuts.

1. For the vinaigrette, mix together 2 tbsp of sherry vinegar, 1/2 tbsp of Dijon mustard, then whisk in 8 tbsp of

olive oil and salt to taste. 2. Toss beets with sherry vinaigrette, hazelnuts and arugula, adding enough vinaigrette to coat but not drown the salad. Serve into bowls, then top with gorgonzola pieces. Optional to sprinkle with fried shallots, and drips of good balsamic.

Since we all now work 24 hours a day, planning is essential to make the evening meal quicker, easier and nutritious at the same time. With planning and a tidy mise en place, it’s really not too difficult. Think a day, a couple of days, or a week ahead about what might work for dinner when, and make mental or actual notes. If Wednesday’s dinner, for instance, needs more time, consider starting it on Tuesday — see the duck confit on the next page — and finish it with 20 minutes in the oven or stovetop on Wednesday while you’re tossing the salad. Time saved. And so on. Sometimes on a Saturday when I’ve baked the week’s bread, I cook up the filling for half a dozen chicken pot pies, make the pastry, and freeze them in aluminum containers, with baking instructions on the cardboard lid: “Remove lid, bake in a 400˚F oven for 30 minutes.” If you have kids, get them to help with the Saturday mass production. All you need to finish these complete-in-one-pie dinners is a vegetable or two to complement those that are already in the pie. I have yet to purchase Jamie Oliver’s 15-minute recipe book, but I have seen it beckoning right next to the deli in my supermarket — a clear indication that fast is what we’re wanting. A web check of Jamie’s recipes shows that fast, and not necessarily fancy, can also come with great taste. Some strategic planning and clever shopping, with an eye to nutritious content could, or should, become your regime. Don’t forget that, while she might be slowing down a bit these days, you never know when the Queen could show up for a place at your frenzied table! Genuflect, and make her welcome. I’ve heard she likes chicken.

n chos with eggs My daughter Bev came back from a road trip to San Francisco with a great little recipe book called Put an Egg on It, written by a clever lady named Lara Ferroni. We laughed as I received it, because throughout my family cooking life, I have used that expression when salvaging leftovers and turning them into what we refer to as “new food,” — different than its predecessor of yesterday. Eggs are catalysts for many quick and easy scratch or rejuvenated meals. I liked Lara’s nachos with eggs.

6 cups corn tortilla chips ¼ cup chopped pickled 2 eggs jalapeños 1 cup whole pinto beans ¼ cup chopped fresh 1 cup shredded Monterey cilantro leaves Jack cheese 2 tbsp sour cream (optional) ¼ cup chopped red onion 2 tbsp guacamole ¼ cup seeded, chopped (optional) tomato 1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the chips on the prepared sheet in a single layer and bake for 5 minutes. 2. While the chips bake, fry the eggs sunny-side up. 3. Sprinkle the chips with the beans, cheese, onion and tomato. 4. Return the sheet to the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese has melted. Sprinkle with the jalapenos. 5. Working from the edge, fold one third of the chips toward the centre, and then fold over again. Transfer the chips to a platter and scatter the cilantro over the top. Top with the eggs, sour cream and guacamole. Dive in!

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spaghetti with duck confit

halibut cheeks with leek and tomato SERVES 4

My friend Karen McSherry, who owns and operates Vancouver’s one-of-a-kind Gourmet Warehouse and is a food media giant around town, gave me this. She says it can really happen in 15 minutes. Just run with it, she says, and enjoy!

2 1 1 1

tbsp olive oil medium leek, white part only, finely sliced small garlic clove, peeled & minced tsp undiluted chicken stock paste ⅓ cup white wine 16 cherry tomatoes, halved ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped 2 tbsp capers, drained 12 halibut cheeks (6 ounces, 150 grams) per person. (If halibut cheeks are not available where you live, use cod, or snapper fillets.) 2 tsp olive oil

1. Heat the oil in an 8-inch sauté pan. Add the leek

and cook until just golden, then add the garlic and chicken paste. Toss and cook for about 1 more minute. Add the wine, tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, thyme and capers. Lid the sauce and turn the heat to low. Let it simmer until the tomatoes soften; the sauce should be thick. Remove from the heat and set aside until the fish is cooked. 2. Heat a non-stick pan to medium high heat. Add the oil. Once the pan is sizzling, add the halibut, season with a pinch of sea salt and a grind of fresh pepper and brown both sides for about 4 minutes each. 3. To serve, ladle a portion of the sauce onto your serving plate, top with the cooked halibut cheeks and garnish with a wedge of fresh lime and a sprinkle of Fleur de Sel and if you wish, an extra grind of pepper.

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SERVES 4

This recipe, from the Veneto region of Italy, was kindly provided by Chef Lucais Syme of La Pentola della Quercia in Vancouver’s Yaletown. It calls for 3 hours of preparation for the duck legs. Hardly fast, and something to do a day ahead of your dinner, when the cooked legs and everything else you need will be in place. Chef Syme says that dinner for 4 should be ready in 30 minutes. (A salad suggestion follows).

400 g spaghetti ½ small fennel, diced 1 small carrot, diced 2 sticks small celery, diced 1 small onion, diced 2 cloves of garlic, diced 2 confit duck legs (can be purchased at specialty stores/or make your own by gently cooking duck legs slowly submerged in duck fat — 300˚F for 3 hours. Then remove the meat from the leg bones) 4 sage leaves ½ oz brandy 2 cups chicken broth Italian parsley

1. In a pan on medium-high

heat, place the fork picked duck meat. Begin to colour, add the vegetables, and reduce the heat to gently cook the vegetables. 2. Add the sage leaves and turn up the heat to high. When pan is hot, add brandy (be careful of flame), cook off liquid and add broth. Simmer gently until reduced by two thirds. 3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a roiling boil. 4. Put pasta into boiling water, and cook per directions for al dente doneness. When pasta is cooked, add to pan with duck and vegetables, toss with chopped parsley, and finish with good olive oil. Serve immediately.


spicy thai and luscious BaSIL chicken

spicy garlic prawns

Many of you will remember when Jurgen Gothe was the worldly host of CBC’s DiscDrive, and his great food knowledge often seasoned the classical music that helped get us home for dinner. This recipe came from friend Jurgen’s 20th Anniversary DiscDrive cook book, and he attributed it to Wild Women in the Kitchen: 101 Rambunctious Recipes and 99 Tasty Tales. Get everything together; it will cook up in a hurry.

For the cooking sauce:

¾ cup canned coconut milk 2 tbsp soy sauce 2 tbsp rice vinegar 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce ½-1 tsp crushed dried hot red chilies

6 dried shiitake mushrooms 2 tbsp vegetable oil 1 medium onion, thinly sliced 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger 2 lb boneless chicken breasts (cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips) 1 ½ cups lightly packed slivered fresh basil leaves

These critters from the sea are good, anytime, fast-meal favourites. Local sustainable, if you can get them, are best. This recipe was on an Australian site and my sister in Canberra guided me there. Vary it as you wish. The flavours are intense.

For the rest:

2 tbsp olive oil 80 g butter 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthways 2 long fresh red chillies, finely chopped 1 kg peeled green prawns, with tails intact 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice 3 tsp grated lemon rind 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander Arugula leaves, to serve Crusty bread, sliced, brushed with oil, char-grilled, to serve

bowl and set aside. Prepare the rice according to the package directions. Choose black Thai rice if this is a dark, passionate night, and jasmine or any white rice (such as basmati) for those lighter, more innocent evenings. 2. In a bowl, soak the mushrooms in hot water to cover until soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Lift the mushrooms from the water, squeeze dry, and trim off and discard the rough stems. 3. Cut the caps into 1/4-inch slivers and set aside. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a 10-or 12-inch frying pan or wok over high heat. 4. Add the onion, garlic and ginger; stir-fry until the onion is a light gold colour. Scoop the vegetables into a bowl and set aside. 5. Add the chicken strips to the pan, one third at a time; stir occasionally until the meat is tinged with brown, about 3 minutes. 6. Lift the strips from the pan and reserve with the cooked vegetables. Repeat to cook the remaining chicken; add oil, if needed, to prevent sticking. Pour the cooking sauce into the pan and boil until reduced by one third. 7. Return the onion and chicken to the pan. Add the basil and mushrooms; stir to heat through — not too long! 8. Serve over rice of your choice. Ditto the music and wine. •

1. Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over

medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chili and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until aromatic. Add the prawns and season with salt and pepper. 2. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the prawns are just cooked through. Add the lemon juice, lemon rind and coriander to the prawn mixture and toss to combine. 3. Divide the prawns among serving plates and serve with arugula and bread.

1 ½ cups jasmine or black Thai rice

1. Combine the ingredients for the cooking sauce in a small

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IN NO

TIME BY ROSEMARY MANTINI

REMEMBER HAMBURGER HELPER? When I was a kid, we had a box of it that sat for years, unopened, in the kitchen cupboard. If it happened to catch my eye, I’d pull it down, turn the box over in my hands, and examine the meal pictured on the front of the box. It looked so yummy, and the smiling people in the commercial just made me want to try it even more. I don’t know what happened to that box. I’m pretty sure it was never opened. Despite the fact that Hamburger Helper was ignored, I did learn one thing from my family’s cooking habits — convenience food is where it’s at. Oh, those TV chefs may espouse the benefits of making everything from scratch. But come on, who are they kidding? No one has that kind of time. So, don’t feel bad if you have to pick up cooked chicken and veg for dinner, or open a can of cream of mushroom soup to make a sauce great. In this health and allergy conscious time of ours, anything prepared that comes out of a can or box is eyed with a certain measure of suspicion. You just know that you’re getting copious amounts of fat and salt. Hey, there’s no need to beat yourself up over buying them. In fact, you can give yourself a pat on the back. It’s because of pressure from consumers that manufacturers have come up with healthier versions of their products. Convenience food comes in all types. Everything from canned tomatoes to the complete meal-in-bag qualifies. If it speeds up and simplifies cooking — especially weeknight cooking — then it’s all good.

TEX-MEX POTATOES Potatoes are awesome things — versatile, tasty and fantastic when it comes to getting along with other ingredients. This recipe, courtesy of PEI Potatoes and the potato grower organizations across Canada, makes a quick and easy weeknight meal or a fun party snack. A quick run to the grocery store is all you need to make this meal happen. Use the brands you like best.

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2 1/2 1 1 1/2 2 1/2 1 1/2

lb baking potatoes cup fat-free sour cream cup low fat refried beans (optional) cup mild or medium chunky salsa cup grated light old cheddar cheese cup grated light Monterey Jack cheese

1. Wash and pierce potatoes. Leave skins on. Place each

potato on a piece of paper towel. Microwave on high for 10 to 15 minutes or until done. 2. Remove paper towel. With serrated knife, cut potatoes into 1/4-inch slices. 3. Place sliced potatoes in a lightly greased 8x12 inch microwave-safe baking dish. Pour the sour cream over the potatoes. Top with salsa, re-fried beans and grated cheese. 4. Microwave for 4 1/2 minutes at medium-high power. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve. TIP: leftovers keep well in the fridge for up to 2 days. …… This treat just screams for a refreshing Mexican beer.

CAMPBELL’S SLOW-COOKER SPICED BEEF BRISKET Shout out to the slow-cooker aficionados out there. I’m not sure I can think of any invention that outdoes this great timesaving device. A little dramatic? Maybe. Take a few minutes to prep your ingredients the night before, or even in the morning, and leave it to cook on its own. There’s nothing like coming home at the end of a long day to find a delicious, ready-made meal. Again, quick prep here, thanks to the fact that most of these ingredients live in our fridges already.

2 2 1

lb beef brisket tbsp chili pepper tbsp garlic, minced


1/2 1/4 1 1 1 1 2 2 1 2

cup chili sauce cup ketchup tbsp Worcestershire sauce tbsp grainy mustard, Dijon can be substituted tsp black pepper onion, diced carrots, diced potatoes, diced bay leaf cups Campbell’s no salt added beef broth

3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook

spaghetti for 7 to 9 minutes or until tender but firm. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of cooking water. Add spaghetti to clam mixture, tossing to combine. Transfer to large serving platter; toss with remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, remaining 1/4 tsp salt, parsley and some of the reserved cooking water, if desired. Serve with additional piccanti on the side, if desired. …… Chardonnay would be especially nice with this one.

1. In a mixing bowl combine brisket with chili pepper,

garlic, chili sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and black pepper. Mix well until the meat is well coated with seasoning mixture. 2. Place onions, carrots, potatoes, bay leaf and beef broth in bottom of a slow cooker. Add the brisket and top with seasoning mixture. 3. Cook on high heat in slow cooker for 6 hours until brisket is tender. …… Pair with a nice, peppery Syrah.

PC SPAGHETTI AL NERO DI SEPPIA WITH CLAMS Uh huh. Convenience just went upscale. Who says that ready-to-eat packages of this or that are only OK for those meals when you don’t have anyone over to impress? This little dish has all the hallmarks of great taste without the usual time and skill of preparation. Get ready for the compliments to pour in.

1/2

cup extra virgin olive oil 1 onion, diced 1 1/2 PC Sweet Long Peppers, cored, halved and diced 1/2 tsp salt 3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved 3 cloves garlic, minced 2 tbsp PC black label Peperoncini Piccanti 3 lb littleneck clams, scrubbed and well rinsed 2 cups dry white wine 1 pkg black tiger shrimp (jumbo, thawed and peeled with tails left on) 1 pkg spaghetti 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add sweet peppers and 1/4 tsp of the salt; cook,

stirring, for about 4 minutes or until very soft. Add olives and garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in Piccanti until combined. 2. Increase heat to high. Add clams; cook, shaking pan gently, for 2 minutes. Pour in wine; bring to a boil. Cover and steam for 1 minute. Add shrimp; cover and continue to cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until clams open wide and shrimp are cooked through. Remove from heat and discard any clams that do not open.

EASY MOCHA MOLTEN CAKES SERVES 6

Molten cakes are always a hit. Who can resist the delicious cake exterior and that flowing, lava-like chocolate filling? This elegant dessert is so easy to pull together with a few handy shortcut ingredients.

4

oz semi-sweet baking chocolate

2 1 6 1 1

eggs egg yolk tbsp flour tsp cinnamon, ground cup heavy cream

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter 4 1/2 tsp McCormick Pure Coffee Extract 1 1/4 cups icing sugar, divided

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter 6 (6-ounce) custard cups or soufflé dishes. Place on baking sheet.

2. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwavable

bowl on high 1 minute or until butter is melted. Stir with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in 4 tsp of the coffee extract. Stir in 1 cup of the sugar until well blended. Whisk in eggs and yolk. Stir in flour and cinnamon. Pour batter into prepared custard cups. 3. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until sides are firm but centres are soft. Meanwhile, beat cream, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and remaining 1/2 tsp coffee extract in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until firm peaks form. Refrigerate whipped cream until ready to serve. 4. Remove molten cakes from oven. Let stand 1 minute. Carefully loosen edges with small knife. Invert cakes onto serving plates. Serve immediately with whipped cream. •

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the mav notes\\ 92 Anvers The Warrior Shiraz 2008, Adelaide Hills/Langhorne Creek, Australia ($85)

Vibrant, elegant and complex with aromas of black berry, blueberry, black pepper and spice. Rich but layered red, black and blue fruit flavours and spice, firm underlying structure, silky mouthfeel, great focus, beautiful construction and a long, lingering finish. Approachable without sacrificing complexity. Would pair beautifully with peppercorn and herbcrusted venison. (GB)

94 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Ornellaia 2010, Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy ($189.95)

Simply a magnificent wine that needs at least 5 years cellaring. Dense purple-ruby colour; cedar, spicy, blackcurrant nose with a floral note. Lively and firm on the palate; very elegant with ripe tannins. A beauty more in the 1998 vintage style that reminded me of Château Lafite. (TA)

93 Stratus Red 2010, Niagara ($44)

The top red from Stratus, the point at which all other reds at the Niagara-on-the-Lake estate begin, is a classic blend of all 5 Bordeaux grape varieties, with the oak dialled back to 15% new barrels. This is a collector’s dream vintage, one in which improvement will come with time in the cellar. Look for a nose of cassis, blackcurrants, leafy tobacco, smoke, leather and integrated spices that open up as you swirl the wine in the glass. It is lush and deep on the palate with an array of black fruits propped up by subtle notes of tar, cedar, liquorice and a

complex array of oak spices and tannins. I love the feel in the mouth and the complexity of all the moving parts. (RV)

93 Gardet Rosé NV, Champagne, France ($37)

Just on the orange side of vermilion, with more bubbles than you need. Aromas of honey, ripe oranges and stone fruit. Clean and fresh-tasting; dry but fruity with orange, grapefruit and rhubarb flavours, accented with yeast and excellent acidity. Have it for a decadent breakfast with warm strawberry-rhubarb pie topped with clotted cream. (RL)*

91 Estate Argyros Assyrtiko 2011, Santorini, Greece ($22.95)

The average age of the vines used to make this wine is 150 years, with a small portion being close to 5 centuries old. Yes, I did say 500 years old! Partial barrel fermentation and aging have imbued the wine with anise, peach, honey, toast and smoky mineral qualities. The palate is full-bodied with a slight creaminess, as well as a spiciness that carries on the long finish. (ES)

91 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand ($19)

The folks at this New Zealand winery’s PR department are calling this version of Kim Crawford SB “the vintage of a lifetime.” I’m not a huge fan of the hype machine, but I do agree that the 2013 Kim Crawford is a very nice wine. It has a pure and classic nose of passion fruit, lime, citrus with hints of grass and herbs. It’s fresh and vibrant on the

50 // February/March 2014

palate with juicy citrus, pineapple and gushing lime against a vibrant backbone of racy acidity that’s all nicely balanced. (RV)

97 Fonseca Vintage Port 2011, Douro Valley, Portugal ($135)

Just a massive amount of fruit on the nose; and the palate delivers amazing concentration of layers and layers of ripe black fruits, huge structure, but wonderful vibrancy and minerality with a long, long intense finish. An amazing Port that you can either enjoy right now before it goes to sleep, or one that will age for decades in your cellar. Stellar! (GB)

91 Perrin Les Sinards Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2010, France ($35)

This is a Rhône wine best cellared for a decade or more but still quite attractive right now, with a nose of savoury and meaty red fruits, cedar, cassis, sweet oak stylings and Asian spices. It’s thick and juicy on the palate with robust red fruits, bramble, liquorice and oak spices, all delivered on a healthy bed of smooth tannins. Drink now with roast duck or lamb. Cellar for 10 years or more. (RV)

87 Thalia Red Syrah Kotsifali 2012, Crete ($10) This new addition to the LCBO general list certainly delivers for its price point! Raspberry, plum, cherry, pepper, dark cocoa, herbs and violets all come together in this easy-drinking red. Suffice to say, with its lingering flavours and soft tannins, pairing with herb-infused pork dishes or pasta in a red sauce is an easy decision. (ES)

92 Marchesi Piero Antinori Tignanello 2009, IGT Tuscany, Italy ($100)

Dark ruby. Nose is a bit shy at this stage, but it has depth. Notes of black fruits and liquorice are perceptible, the oak brings a hint of creamy pastry. Full-bodied, silky texture but with a firm and slightly rough backbone that will melt away over time. The abundant fruity extract will ensure a positive evolution. (GBQc)

89 Masi Campofiorin 2008, Rosso del Veronese IGT, Italy ($20)

Shows Valpolicella varietal nose with depth, intensity and complex spiciness. Thickly textured on the palate, with rich, dark bitter-cherry flavours, solid structure and lively acidity, it offers the qualities of good Valpolicella but with the structure to permit long aging. (SW)

89 Giesen Riesling 2012, Marlborough, New Zealand ($15.95)

This is a dead ringer for a top-end Rheingau Riesling Kabinett. Peach, honey, petrol, lime, mineral and hints of tropical fruit are all in play. There is crisp acidity, some residual sugar and a long finale. Drink until 2020. (ES)

90 Jean Geiler Muscat Réserve Particulière 2011, Alsace, France ($14)

Muscat is one of those wines that you either love or hate. It’s highly perfumed with notes of cardamom and orange blossom, and it can be either sweet or dry. In Alsace, they make it dry, and I happen to love it. This wine has that wonderful grapey, orange-blossom nose and flavour that finishes dry. (TA)


rosés are pink\\

WHAT BETTER WAYto celebrate Valentine’s Day, not to mention those other special occasions in your life, than with a flute of pink bubbles. Romance in a glass is what it should be called. I much prefer sharing a bottle of rosé Champagne with someone I care for than receiving one of those satin heartshaped chocolate boxes. Rosé bubbles can range in colour from pale pink to Atlantic salmon. The more percentage of red wine used, the deeper the colour. It can be very expensive or affordable depending on how deep your pocket. The grapes used can vary. In France, one usually finds a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in their best rosé Champagnes. In Ontario, it may be blends of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Italian Spumante listed here uses Pinot Noir with their local Raboso Piave grapes. The first region in the world using the method (traditionnelle) champenoise to make those tiny perfect bubbles in quantity was Champagne, located in north-central France. If money is no object, you can always impress your special partner with Dom Pérignon Brut Rosé Champagne. However, it’s not uncommon to find the Charmat process used to produce less expensive sparkling rosés, which is done by adding carbonation to the wine. Many well-priced Cavas and Proseccos use this method. While you may think pink equals a lightweight wine, these sparkling rosés tend to be well-structured thanks to the influence of the red grapes. As an added bonus, they stand up to food, even spicy dishes, better than many of the similar quality Brut Champagnes.

MATTER OF TASTE

BY SHEILA SWERLING-PURITT

BILLECART-SALMON BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE ($92)

Definitely a benchmark rosé. Pale salmon in colour; delights with plums, pears and flowers on the nose. With great acidity and minerality, Billecart is always elegant and reliable. Works well with seafood or on its own. (I always keep my eyes open for their half bottles.)

VEUVE CLICQUOT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE ($80) Luminous pink in colour and well balanced. On the nose, you will find that it is generous with red fruits. Its dry finish goes on and on, ensuring the intensity of the Clicquot style.

CUVÉE CATHARINE ROSÉ BRUT ($30)

This Rosé Brut from the VQA Niagara Peninsula is made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir using the méthode champenoise, which will delight you with its fine bubbles, delicious raspberry fruit flavour, crisp acidity and great length. Goes well with oysters, chicken or roast turkey.

BOTTEGA VINO DEI POETI ROSÉ ($13)

An award-winning Rosé Spumante Brut using the Charmat process; delivers aromas of peach blossom, raspberries and currants on the nose with a dry, fresh, fragrant persistent aftertaste. Great as an apéritif or when drunk with the first course of your meal. •

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DAVINE

eating london\\

I KNOW THIS WILL SPURconsiderable debate, but I believe London, England may be the most important restaurant city in the world. Many might argue that New York is the pinnacle, but there is little question you could spend a lifetime, and several times each day, in gastronomic heaven (followed by a gastronomic-induced coma) experiencing the quality, diversity and multiplicity of styles and price points served up in every type of imaginable eatery in this multinational city. The number of ethnic restaurants in London, as in most cities, mirrors the cultural diversity of the city’s immigrants. And there is a certain authenticity to being in an Indian, Thai, Japanese or Spanish restaurant where the primary language spoken shares its country of origin with the inspiration for the food. It is ludicrous to think that one can experience even a small percentage of London’s food culture in a week. But one can definitely get the feel of its quality, diversity and value. Yes, value. It’s time for the perception of London being more expensive

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BY GURVINDER BHATIA

than other cities to be debunked (I’m speaking of eating, not property values). I found eating out in London, from street food to fine dining, to be on par with — if not better value than — most other cities, regardless of size. As with most great food cities in the world (Vancouver, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Montreal, Verona, Madrid, etc.) London made me want to move ... or at least visit more often.

FINO

In 2003, Fino was one of the first of a new wave of contemporary Spanish restaurants to open in London. Basque-born executive head chef Nieves Barrágan Mohacho’s daily changing menu draws its inspiration from the finest Spanish and local ingredients available. There is a great balance on the menu of traditional and contemporary dishes reflecting Mohacho’s culinary experiences throughout Spain. It was quite simply the best Spanish food I’ve experienced since visiting San Sebastian several years ago.


THE RIVER CAFÉ

One of London’s iconic restaurants since opening in 1987, The River Café is largely responsible for introducing the freshness and simplicity of Italian cuisine to British diners. Sleek and modern, the restaurant’s feel is quite the opposite of the simply prepared, fresh ingredient-focused menu. Pansotti di zucca, tagliatelle con noci — each pasta dish sang, allowing for the seasons to shine through the fresh ingredients and perfectly prepared pasta. Scallops, lamb and beef were all amazing both in terms of flavour and doneness. The only negative to the meal was the service. Apparently our server was in training, for which some latitude may be allowed, but the feeling of being rushed out before you are even seated is not expected nor appropriate for a restaurant of this reputation and calibre. One strike ... shit happens. It won’t prevent me from going back.

JAMIE’S ITALIAN IN COVENT GARDEN

Yes, it’s touristy. Yes, the place is packed with merchandise. Yes, you almost feel a little shame going in. But quite simply, the food is good. The crab and avocado bruschetta, spinach and taleggio croquettes, and polenta fries, and the perfectly cooked and sauced pastas, are a wonderful representation of simple, home-style Italian cuisine at very affordable prices. The spaghetti alla norma would do any nonna proud. The zucchini flowers stuffed with Spanish goat cheese, lightly fried and finished with an orange-honey glaze, were one of the best things I ate in 2013. The slight crunch of the blossom’s thin, crisp coating followed by the rich, creamy texture of the cheese with just a touch of citrus sweetness from the glaze caused my eyeballs to roll back in my head. The Iberian pork chop symbolizes how great ingredients require minimal intervention. The chop is not marinated or seasoned before it goes on the grill (the acorn-fed pigs provide the flavour). It is cooked to a perfect melt-in-your-mouth medium-rare (long gone are the days when you had to cook the hell out of your pork) and finished with salt, black pepper and chopped parsley. The grilled langoustines, smoked haddock croquetas and pretty much everything else we tasted were outstanding, and I love the all-Spanish wine list with its great sherry selection.

WHITECROSS STREET MARKET

The Whitecross Market has been around in some form or another for centuries. Its current incarnation has a general market for most of the week, but it turns into a street-food market on Thursdays and Fridays. From Eat My Pies selling their take on British classics, to the Wild Game stand, to Lek’s Thai Food, Lebanese, Italian, German, Mexican, Caribbean, Spanish, and of course, Indian, there was a multitude of flavours to keep even the most ardent foodie busy for the afternoon. I particularly loved the lamb kebab and paneer tikka mixed wrap from one of the Indian street food stands.

MARCUS WAREING AT THE BERKELEY HOTEL

The experience at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley was quite simply brilliant and deserving of its Michelin Star status: elegant and sophisticated without being stuffy or pretentious. The dishes looked and sounded like those at most haute cuisine establishments, but what separates the good from the outstanding is the execution. In dish after dish, the flavours were subtle when appropriate and popped at just the right times. The wine director did a masterful job of not just pairing wines, but treating us to a selection of wines that were as interesting as the dishes.

PRET A MANGER

There seems to be a Pret on every corner in London, but good on them for offering up freshly prepared sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups and the like as a healthy fast-food alternative. Most locations prepare their food fresh not only daily, but throughout the day. Pole and line caught tuna, chicken and avocado, wild crayfish and rocket, halloumi and red pepper toastie, and salmon and quinoa protein pot are just a small sampling of the huge variety of dishes offered. And at the end of the day, any food that hasn’t been sold is donated to charity instead of being carried over and served the next day. Whether on the go or grabbing a quick lunch to take back to the office, Pret is a great model of what fast food can and should be. •

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//the food notes

89 HAYWIRE SWITCHBACK VINEYARD PINOT GRIS 2012, OKANAGAN ($23) Sourced from Okanagan Crush Pad’s sage-surrounded home vineyard, farmed and vinified in 5 separate lots, devoid of any oak contact, and sealed under screw cap. The result is a fragrant, fresh, layered and minerally glass of Gris, bursting with sagey orchard fruit. An ideal sipper while sharing tapas. (HH)

88 QUAILS’ GATE OLD VINES FOCH RESERVE 2011, OKANAGAN ($40) Marechal Foch was first planted on their estate in 1963. It’s intense, complex, rich, savoury and spicy from nose to palate to finish. Aromas and flavours of wild berries, cedar, cigar box and chocolate. A very tangy finish. Twist off cap, then enjoy with aged cheese, toasted nuts and dark chocolate. (HH)

90 Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Mendoza, Argentina ($13.95) A vibrant Cab, dense purpleruby in colour and redolent with blackcurrant, cedar and vanilla-oak aromas. The flavour is concentrated and well-balanced — a lovely mouthful of wine for the price. Match it with lamb chops or roast beef. (TA)

93 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Sparkling Icewine 2012, Niagara ($120/375 ml)

This is an extremely rare style of Icewine that is expensive because it’s so difficult to make. The nose is explosive with raspberry, cherry, strawberry and rhubarb that jump from the glass. It is highly concentrated on the palate with an electrifying jolt of sparkling bubbles and finesse on the palate to go with super-concentrated, supersweet red fruits and balancing acidity. This is a decadent and splashy style of Icewine to be

enjoyed by a roaring fire with a little bit of dark chocolate or even paired with cocoa-dusted duck breast. (RV)

93 Idrias Sevil 2007, DO Somontano, Spain ($13)

Deep maroon. Merlot/Cab Sauv blend but with a Spanish nose: stewed fruits, cinnamon, raisins, mint, tea, tobacco — one can just keep this in a glass and sniff it all evening long. On the palate, it is medium-bodied, with still-firm tannins, somewhat high acidity and cherry fruit forward. Great value. Needs 1 more year to peak. Begs for an umami match: smoked pork chops with baked beans. (RL)*

Half Pints Brewery Coffee Stick Stout, Winnipeg ($4.33/650 ml) This jet-black brew throws a frothy, espresso-hued head and packs aromas of darkroast coffee grounds from a freshly-brewed cup. Wellintegrated layers of coffee, dark chocolate and black

54 // February/March 2014

liquorice make up the flavour, which rests on a pillowy, softly carbonated body. If you’re a coffee-lover, try this with for dessert, or be really indulgent and sip alongside a slice of dark chocolate cake. (CL)

91 Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2012, Adelaide Hills, Australia ($29.95)

This elegant Chardonnay comes from the cooler Adelaide Hills region. It displays a combination of toast, smoke, minerals, green apple, pineapple, banana, peach and spice. Fullish on the palate, there is great balance and concentration, as well as fresh acidity. It should drink wonderfully over the next 4 to 5 years, especially with grilled salmon or veal Oscar. (ES)

96 Croft Vintage Port 2011, Portugal ($120)

The nose shows a profound and complex riot of violets, sweet tobacco leaf, crushed blackcurrants, stewed plums,

fruitcake, spicy wild berries and blueberry pie. It is big and assertive on the palate with weight, density and complex fruits of sweet blackcurrants, dates, kirsch and blueberries in combination with myriad spices stitched neatly into the highly structured package. It is a super-rich, super-concentrated dark and flamboyant Port with a long, long finish. It will take years of patience to fully appreciate, but it will be worth every second of the wait. Time to whip up a stirring dessert. (RV)

89 Château CazalViel Saint-Chinian Vieilles Vignes 2011, Languedoc ($12.50)

Dark ruby with a purplish rim. Pleasant and inviting nose of black fruits, liquorice, oak and garrigue. Explosive fruity flavour, medium to full body, smooth texture, rich middle palate and soft finish. Drink within a year with everyday dishes of red meat, pasta in tomato sauce, etc. (GBQc)


molly and me\\

I THINK OF OPPORTUNITIES AS OPEN DOORS. In a perfect world, I can choose to walk through the door, or I can quietly close it and walk away. But more often than not, I lurch crazily through a doorway without even realizing what I’ve done. And sometimes I take innocent parties with me. That’s how it was with Molly and me. But let me start at the beginning: In a moment of insanity, I adopted a wee five-monthold Yorkipoo. She’s a scruffy little thing, all wild black fur with unruly patches of grey. Despite her street-urchin appeal, I dubbed her Marie Antoinette, Last Queen of France. For brevity’s sake, I call her Molly. Molly came with baggage. Perhaps it was those early months in the shelter. Or maybe it was the painful memory of that tiny tail being unnecessarily docked by some faceless executioner. Whatever it was, the little ragamuffin was fearful and anxious. As a first-time pet-owner, I was awkward and uncertain. Our first few weeks together were rocky at best. I fed her too much or not enough. I stepped on her paws, forgetting she was incessantly underfoot. I layered the couch with blankets and washed them every morning, afraid of putting my head on something that Molly might have sat on. During our morning walks in the cold, raw air Molly pranced in loopy circles, her leash wrapping so tightly around my legs that we pirouetted down the sidewalk like drunken ballerinas, constantly trying to untangle ourselves. I dreaded taking her to the vet, where she growled and barked, and where I was sure they would discover fleas or have me arrested for pet endangerment.

+ Search through a wide range of wine-friendly recipes on quench.me

BOUQUET GARNI

BY NANCY JOHNSON

There were, however, some decent moments. I learned that Molly, though timid, was sweet-natured and smart. I hung wind chimes from the back door and taught her to ring them for potty time. She learned to lay down for a snack, waiting patiently while I placed a tiny bone-shaped biscuit at her paws. And although loud noises made her bark like a banshee, her dark almond-shaped eyes always searched mine with trust and some kind of forgiveness. The two of us tried hard, but it wasn’t long before I became overwhelmed by the strain of training a nervous, rambunctious puppy. I wasn’t fond of waking up in the middle of the night to let her out — or worse — to clean up after her. It broke my heart when she yipped and clawed in her crate. But most of all, I resented giving up my freedom. I had known owning a dog would be a huge responsibility, but I didn’t realize how needy my little Molly would be. Thinking I had made a huge mistake, I was ready to give her up when my sister Marian offered to take her for a few days. “You’re going to miss her,” Marian said, “You’re her mama.” “No chance,” I huffed, “and please, I am NOT her mother!” That long weekend without Molly was actually pretty good. I was relieved not to have her around. But I found myself thinking about her: that long nose and near-smile, those straight little legs and that cheerful stumpy tail. The way her back slumped when she sat, looking happily dejected with a faux bone in her mouth, her brown eyes searching for a place to bury it. How she crazily scratched a soft spot on her blanket before settling down to sleep. And those wild spikes of fur that stuck up on her head, spikes I would idly brush into one silly style after another.

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When I picked her up a few days later from my sister’s home, I assumed she would have forgotten all about me. But Molly was so happy to see me, her entire body wagged and she smothered my face with frantic kisses, her little paws turning my face side to side. Yes, I realized I had missed Molly, but more surprising — Molly had missed me! On the drive home, Molly suffered a bad case of motion sickness. No worries, I told her. We would work on things like that, and on her barking and potty training. Everything would be, if not fine, then at least tolerable. When we reached my condo development, she made a beeline straight to my front door, passing 11 other doors to get there. I realized that while I had always considered it my home, Molly already knew it was our home. Standing on the threshold, both of us shivering from the cold, I knew that although I hadn’t been sure about Molly, she had been absolutely certain about me all along. I scooped her up in my arms, gave her a hug and breathed in her stinky little dog scent, rubbing my cheek on those unruly tufts of fur on her head. “Mama gonna take you home,” I whispered. And I unlocked the door on our life together.

HUNGARIAN GOULASH Molly is not a meat and potatoes gal; she is a meat, meat and meat gal, much like myself. This hearty beef stew is so good, Molly would make it herself if she had opposable thumbs. Purchase beef stew meat or do what I do — buy a beef chuck roast and cut it into cubes. You can use the tomato-paste-in-a tube for this dish, but I prefer to buy a small can of paste and freeze the remainder in 2 tbsp increments. This is a good make-ahead dish as it’s even better the next day.

5. Slowly add beef stock, stirring to loosen browned bits. Stir

in tomato paste, bay leaves, marjoram, parsley and caraway seeds. Add salt to taste. Add the reserved beef and juices. Bring to a boil. 6. Remove from heat, cover and place in preheated oven. Bake 2 hours or until meat is tender. Serve in shallow bowls with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. …… Nothing too oaky or sweet here. Go with Zinfandel or a Côtesdu-Rhône. For a different spin, try a Grüner Veltliner.

GARLIC MASCARPONE WHIPPED POTATOES Serve the goulash with noodles or these scrumptious potatoes. Always add salt after a pot comes to boil to avoid pitting your cookware.

3 lb chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes Canola oil 2 large onions, coarsely chopped 1/2 tsp salt 4 large garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press 5 tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika 1/4 cup flour 3 cups beef stock 2 tbsp tomato paste 2 bay leaves 1 tsp dried marjoram 1/2 tsp dried parsley 1/2 tsp caraway seeds (optional) Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

3 1

1. Heat oven to 325˚F. 2. Pat meat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. 3. In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat.

CHORIZO AND SEAFOOD PAELLA

Sauté the meat in batches until browned on all sides, adding additional oil if needed. Transfer meat to bowl and set aside. 4. Add 1 tbsp oil to Dutch oven. Sauté onions with salt over medium heat until onions have softened. Add pressed garlic and cook 20 seconds. Add paprika and flour, stirring to coat onion/ garlic mixture, about 1 minute.

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5 4 1

1/2

lb russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks cloves garlic, peeled tsp salt cup milk, or more as needed tbsp butter, at room temperature cup mascarpone, at room temperature

1. In large pot, combine potatoes and garlic with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt.

2. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes and garlic are

tender, about 30 minutes. Drain. Place potatoes, garlic, milk and butter in bowl. Using hand mixer, beat until smooth. 3. Beat in mascarpone. Season with salt and pepper.

SERVES 4

Molly did not get any of this paella, but she enjoyed smelling it as it cooked. I have a paella pan which is wide and shallow and allows the rice to develop a sweet toasty crust on the bottom of the pan, known as the socarrat in Spain. However, a large skillet can be used as well. The most appealing aspect of paella is that it’s really, at least in my kitchen, an “anything goes” kind of dish. This recipe


CHORIZO AND SEAFOOD PAELLA started when I found a package of six fresh Mexican chorizo sausages at the supermarket. I removed the casings, but if you can find bulk chorizo sausage, use it. Add mussels if available; otherwise just add extra shrimp or scallops.

Discard any mussels that haven’t opened. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh parsley. …… A lightly chilled Rioja Rosado would pair nicely with the paella.

1 1 1 1 6 1 1 3/4 5 1/2 1 16 16 12 2

This is a quick buttery throw-together dish using farfalle, which is a cheery little pasta also known as bowties. If you can’t find vegetable-flavoured bowties, use any pasta you’d like. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand, but be sure to cook over mediumhigh heat until they are soft and browned in spots. I buy creamy Greek feta in a blocky chunk and cut it up as needed. I often freeze the pasta/veggie mixture in one-cup servings to take to work. I add feta cheese just before eating.

tbsp olive oil lb fresh chorizo sausage, casings removed onion, chopped sweet red pepper, seeded and chopped cloves garlic, minced heaping tsp sweet Spanish paprika cups Arborio rice cups chicken broth tsp saffron threads, soaked in 2 tbsp hot water cup frozen peas, defrosted mussels, scrubbed shrimp, shelled and deveined sea scallops, rinsed and cut in half tbsp fresh parsley, minced

1. In hot paella pan or skillet, add oil. Heat for about 20

seconds, then add sausage, breaking up clumps with tongs or spoon. Sauté until browned. With slotted spoon, remove sausage to a bowl and set aside. 2. In 1 tbsp oil from sausage, sauté onion and pepper until softened. Add garlic; cook 1 minute or until garlic is softened. Add paprika. Sauté 1 minute, stirring. Add rice, stirring until coated with paprika oil. 3. Add 4 cups chicken broth and the saffron with soaking liquid. Return sausage to pan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until rice is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid. Add the additional cup of chicken broth if rice is not tender after 15 minutes. 4. Stir in the peas. Arrange the mussels, shrimp and scallops on top; cover and simmer over low heat about 7 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and scallops are cooked through.

WINTER VEGGIE FARFALLE WITH FETA

2 tbsp butter 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 red onion, sliced 1 sweet yellow pepper, sliced 2 zucchini, sliced 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup cherry tomatoes 1 can corn, drained Handful of fresh baby spinach 1 box spinach or carrot-flavoured farfalle, cooked al dente 1 chunk feta cheese, cut into cubes

1. In a large skillet, melt butter with oil. Saute onion, pepper

and zucchini over medium-high heat until softened and browned in spots. Add garlic. Cook 1 minute. 2. Add cherry tomatoes and corn. Cook until tomatoes soften. Add spinach. Cook until spinach wilts. 3. Toss vegetable mixture with hot cooked farfalle. Serve in shallow bowls, topped with feta cheese. For a dash of protein, add grilled sliced chicken. …… Excellent with a crisp Riesling, unless you’re having it in the lunchroom at work. •

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the notes\\ OUR SCORING

SYSTEM

EACH WINE IS JUDGED ON ITS OWN MERITS, in its respective category. Readers should open their palates to compare the relationship between quality and price. We’d also ask you to carefully study the commentaries in order 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 its website, for availability. Our tasters are Tony Aspler, Sean Wood, Gilles Bois, Evan Saviolidis, Harry Hertscheg, Gurvinder Bhatia, Rick VanSickle, Ron Liteplo, Tod Stewart, Crystal Luxmore and Jonathan Smithe.

/ARGENTINA / 90 Fincas Patagonicas Zolo Reserve Chardonnay 2012, Patagonia ($16) This is a big, strapping Chardonnay, straw-coloured with a funky pencil-lead, apple and spicy-oak nose; full-bodied and rich, it delivers well-balanced creamy apple and pear flavours with fresh acidity to give it length. (TA)

90 La Posta Pizzella Family Malbec 2011, Mendoza ($15.95)

This superb-value Malbec serves up a concentrated mix of plum, raisins, violets, smoke, cherry, cocoa and spice. It is rather fullish and

ripe, with a hint of sweetness and a long finish. Drink this wine over the next 3 to 4 years, and at this price, a few bottles in the cellar will reward greatly. (ES)

89 Trapiche Finca Las Palmas Malbec 2010, Mendoza ($19.20)

Clean nose of cherry and other red fruits with a spicy touch and little oak. Balanced yet generous, with grainy tannins that give it a firm structure, it is ready to drink. An honest glass of Malbec at a good price. (GBQc)

89 Norton Privada 2010, Mendoza ($25) This “privada” (i.e. private reserve) blend of Malbec

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QUENCH USES THE 100-POINT SCALE 95-100 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90-94. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85-89 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80-84. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75-79. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 & under. . . . . . . . . . .

exceptional excellent very good good acceptable below average

* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . available through wine clubs green. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . white & rosé wines red. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . red wines

(40%), Merlot (30%) and Cab Sauv (30%) opens with fragrant floral and plum. Rich, savoury and complex, while bursting with dark fruit and powerful tannins. Finishes with persistent coffee, cedar and spice. Enjoy with a steak as you like it. (HH)

88 Norton Malbec Reserva 2010, Mendoza ($20)

Savoury aromas with hints of violets and ripe fruit. Wellbalanced palate with layers of red berries, black fruits and complex tobacco notes. Sourced from 30-year-oldplus vineyards and aged 12 months in French oak barrels. Satisfying texture and finish. Bring on the beef. (HH)

87 Norton Malbec Barrel Select 2010, Mendoza ($15)

The alluring fragrance bespeaks floral, plum and cassis. A solid balance of ripe fruit and spicy oak, with grapes picked from 15-year-old-plus vines and aged 12 months in French oak. Jammy plum flavour and toasted spice finish make for easy sipping. The next stop for a burger wine. (HH)

/AUSTRALIA / 90 Anvers Chardonnay 2010, Adelaide Hills ($42) Great balance with aromas of baked apple, peach and fig with a pleasant toastiness. Excellent leesy mouthfeel with an adept use of French

+ Find a collection of wine, beer and spirit tasting notes at quench.me/notes/


\

oak that adds complexity and structure without overwhelming the delicious fresh fruit. Elegant and refined with a beautiful lifted finish. Ideal with rabbit, pork and poultry, and may even stand up to a nicely grilled steak. (GB)

89 Anvers Brabo Sauvignon Blanc 2012, South Australia ($26)

Fresh and lively with aromas and flavours of melon, mango, guava and gooseberry; crisp mouthfeel and absent of any grassiness. Well-made and a great value. A nice match with poached Arctic char or shellfish. (GB)

95 Anvers The Giant Old Vine Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, McLaren Vale ($350)

Tons going on in this very young, but hard-not-todrink-now, rich, elegant, muscular, complex, delicious wine. Loads of ripe black berry, black cherry, wild berry fruit with mocha, fresh herbs and a touch of forest floor. Great structure, but ultra-fine tannins; the wine shows something new with every taste and continues to evolve the longer it’s in the glass. If you can, forget about this in your cellar and let time do its thing. Definitely something special. Only 1,200 bottles produced. (GB)

91 Anvers Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Langhorne Creek ($38)

Deep, dark and rich with aromas and flavours of black berry, blueberry, mocha, liquorice and mint with great complexity, multi-layers, velvety tannins, a silky texture and a long, rich, fresh finish.

Each taste begs another. Great quality and complexity at this price point and comparable to Aussie Cabs significantly higher in price. (GB)

91 Ring Bolt 21 Barriques 2010, Margaret River, Western Australia ($49.98)

This is an exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon from a vintage in Margaret River that Ring Bolt’s viticulturist described as “Near to perfect as could be hoped for.” The nose presents refined developed dark fruit with discernible blackcurrant notes, spice and a whiff of earthy mushroom. Gorgeously integrated fruit, spice and French oak come through on the palate with a lick of milk chocolate on the very long finish. (SW)

89 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz 2010, Barossa ($16.95)

Dense purple colour; savoury, blackberry nose. Medium- to full-bodied, dry; blackberry and black-olive flavours expanding to blackcurrant and plum with lively acidity. Well priced. (TA)

89 Wyndham Estate George Wyndham Founder’s Reserve Shiraz 2010, South Australia ($20)

Deep ruby colour. Ripe nose of black fruits, chocolate, soft spices and eucalyptus. Thick and silky but warm and intense, with lots of very ripe fruit flavours in the middle palate. Finish is a bit short, leaving warm alcohol and an acid lift that lasts longer than the flavour. Drink now. (GBQc)

89 Ring Bolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Margaret River, Western Australia ($24.99)

Exhibits classic Cabernet aromatic blackcurrant profile backed up by scents of blackberry, minty green herb, a pinch of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla. Big, rounded flavours in the mouth are led by rich blackberry embraced by thick, velvety texture, firm but approachable tannins, harmoniously integrated fruit and discreet oak on the finish. (SW)

88 Anvers Brabo Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, South Australia ($28) Bright and fresh aromas and flavours of ripe fruit, blackcurrant, dark cherry, mocha and a touch of vanilla and spice with a juicy freshness on the finish. Fresh enough to enjoy on its own, but with enough structure to enjoy with both white and red meats. (GB)

88 Anvers Brabo Shiraz 2012, South Australia ($28)

Dark and dense, but still possessing a brightness with ripe wild berries, plum and red currant and a touch of wet earth and black pepper. Nice with ribs with a spicy/tangy Carolina BBQ sauce. (GB)

87 On the Billabong Shiraz/Cabernet 2012, Riverina ($10)

Pale orangey-red. Strong nose of spice, red berries, a hint of black pepper. Medium-bodied with sweetish plummy, raisiny and raspberry flavours. Long finish. Tannins almost gone; drink now. (RL)

/AUSTRIA / 91 Nikolaihof Grüner Veltliner Hefeabzug 2010, ($25)

From one of the older estates in Austria, and made using biodynamic principles in the region of Wachau on the banks of the Danube, this is an impressive Grüner. The nose shows spiced pear, guava, ripe apple and citrus to go with a pinch of spice. It is quite concentrated and rich and textured on the palate with pear, smoke, grapefruit, spice and a touch of honey. Vivid acidity gives the wine lift through the finish. (RV)

88 Zantho Muskat Ottonel 2012, ($17)

The Muskat Ottonel grapes for this wine are grown in one of the hottest and driest regions of Austria. This is an interesting, refreshing wine with a nose of white flowers, pear fruit, melon and a vein of mineral and spice. It’s delicate on the palate with spicy fruit and fresh acidity and a touch of dried herbs on the finish. (RV)

/CANADA / 92 Stratus White 2010, Niagara ($44)

The aromatics rock with grapefruit, pear, lanolin, cloves, vanilla, apple and exotic tropical fruits. It has lovely and thought-provoking complexity on the palate with a fusion of grapefruit-citrus, pear and oak-inspired spices that promise to fully integrate with time. This is an intellectual white that will continue to evolve in the bottle for 5 or more years. (RV)

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//the notes 90 Tawse Sketches Chardonnay 2011, Ontario ($19.95)

Straw-coloured with a minerally, apple nose and a touch of oak. Medium-bodied, dry and crisp, fresh on the palate with an expressive apple flavour carried on citrus acidity. (TA)

90 Rosehall Run Rosehall Vineyard Chardonnay JCR 2011, Prince Edward County ($30) The nose displays integrated pear, apple and lemon fruit with toasted spices along a vein of minerality. It shows great freshness and verve on the palate with quince and citrus fruit joined harmoniously with the inherent minerality this vineyard consistently delivers. This wine is more about balance than rich, layered fruits, and should bring pleasure for many years to come. (RV)

88 Henry of Pelham Estate Chardonnay 2012, Short Hills Bench ($19)

Still shy, this Chardonnay needs another year in the bottle to show its best. Currently, there is peach, pineapple, vanilla, spice and green apple. The palate is a mixture of cream, spice, and green apple, all supported by medium acidity and a lengthy finish. (ES)

87 Perseus Select Lots Chardonnay 2011, Okanagan ($28)

The Naramata- and Osoyoosharvested fruit faced some judicious oak treatment, evidenced by toasty aromas, rich-yet-elegant mouthfeel and a vanilla-flecked finish. Laden with apple, citrus and stone fruit flavours, and persistent pear skin and

orange zest. Likes grillmarked chicken, pork and vegetables. (HH)

86 Perseus Gewürztraminer 2012, Okanagan ($18)

Pungent aromas are a hallmark of this cool-climate grape; note the lychee, apple/pear skin and wilted flower. This dry, rich style exudes baked pear, tangerine and allspice flavours underpinned by soft acidity. Ginger and orange peel linger. Suited for sausageenhanced dishes. (HH)

93 Hidden Bench La Brunante 2010, Niagara ($75)

La Brunante is the flagship Bordeaux-style blend from Hidden Bench and is made only in the best years, where optimum maturity and flavour development are achieved in the vineyard. The wine starts with an explosion of red berries on the nose followed by currants, dark plums, blackberries, anise and a mélange of spices and smoky wood notes. It is no doubt powerful on the palate with evident tannins and oak influence, but it is equally met with a wave of fruit flavours and bits of liquorice, tar, bramble and peppery spices that linger on a long-lasting finish. Such depth of flavour and pleasure that will reward over and over (if cellared properly) for many years to come. (RV)

91 Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Syrah 2010, Okanagan ($35)

This is some serious juice here. The nose shows currants, boysenberry, sweet oak spice, white pepper, bramble, plums and roasted meats. It is highly structured

60 // February/March 2014

with firm, assertive tannins and delivers a wave of dark and meaty fruits with savourypeppery accents. Try this with BBQ ribs or smoked grilled pork chops. (RV)

90 Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series 2Bench Red 2010, Okanagan ($30)

The 2Bench is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The nose shows blackberry, cassis, tobacco leaf, oak spice, kirsch and earth. It’s a big wine on the palate and loaded with tannins to go with bold dark fruits, spice and the stuffing to lay down for a few years while everything comes together. (RV)

89 Union Forte 2007, Niagara ($17)

While Port is a widely recognized style of fortified wine, it can only be called Port if it comes from Porto. That doesn’t stop winemakers the world over from making that style of wine. The folks behind Niagara’s Union Wines have come up with a Portstyle wine called Forte that is a Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend from Niagara with Ontario brandy spirit added and is finished with 18% alcohol. It has a heady nose of sweet black cherry, cassis, raspberry, bramble, red liquorice and an array of spices. It’s sweet and spicy in the mouth and loaded with red fruits, anise and kirsch, all delivered on a bed of smooth tannins. A very enjoyable after-dinner wine. (RV)

89 Rosewood Estate Lock, Stock and Barrel 2011, Ontario ($34) A Bordeaux blend of 44%

Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot. Ruby colour; cedar, red-berry nose; firmly structured, claret-style with flavours of black cherry and currants laced with tannins. (TA)

89 Haywire Canyonview Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011, Okanagan ($35)

This second release was fermented in open-top stainless steel and then aged 6 months in old French oak and a further 12 months in egg-shaped concrete. Alluring red berried scents, juicy black cherry flavour and a plush mouthfeel. Lingers with red liquorice and a lick of root beer. Pairs well with braised dishes. (HH)

89 Rosehall Run ‘The Swinger’ Syrah Cuvée County 2011, Prince Edward County ($35)

Winemaker Dan Sullivan sources his fruit from the Fieldstone Vineyards planted by Dick Singer in 2002, the only commercial planting of this Rhône variety in Prince Edward County. The nose is earthy with savoury cherry fruit, white pepper, raspberry and rousing roasted meat and spice notes. It is lighter in colour than you’d expect, but surprisingly ripe in the mouth with lovely texture and a balanced attack of spice. (RV)

89 Kacaba Vineyards Single Vineyard Syrah 2010, Niagara Escarpment ($39.95)

Very aromatic, this Syrah sings a song of hickory, leather, cassis, cocoa and pepper. There is a medium body with density and lots of


peppery/smoky notes, supported by tangy acidity and soft tannins. (ES)

88 Burning Kiln Harvest Party Red 2012, Ontario ($15.95) Burning Kiln is a new winery in Lake Erie’s North Shore region specializing in appassimento wines (think Amarone), which are dried in old tobacco kilns. This rendition is a touch lighter and leans towards the bell-pepper nature of the varietal. Fruitwise, there is plum, cassis and cherry. There is solid concentration, and it finishes soft and easy. (ES)

88 Quails’ Gate Fortified Vintage Foch 2011, Okanagan ($23/375 ml)

Smoky, coffee scents and baking spice aromas. Juicy red fruits and concentrated blackberry flavours on a sweet, rich palate. Wild berries and milk chocolate linger long. Makes me crave chocolate pudding or chocolate ice cream. It’s fortified Port-style with neutral spirit to 18% alcohol. Serve at cellar temperature. (HH)

88 Burning Kiln Winery Cab Frank 2012, Ontario ($24.95) This 100% Cabernet Franc starts off with a bouquet of herbs, cassis, violets and cherry. It then adds spicy elements on the ripe, almost sweet palate. There is a lengthy aftertaste and supple tannins. Drink over the next 3 years. (ES)

88 Perseus Select Lots Invictus 2010, British Columbia VQA ($33)

Soft Merlot (56%) leads the

charge, supported by Cab Sauv (29%), Petit Verdot (9%), Cab Franc (4%) and Malbec (2%) for structure and complexity. Pretty floral, herb and berry aromas set the stage. Rich, red fruits up front, while dark fruits linger, accompanied by cigar box and leathery tannins. Decant for marinated meats. (HH)

87 Perseus Merlot 2011, British Columbia ($22)

Sourced from their Blind Creek Vineyard in the Similkameen Valley. Fragrant aromas led by floral, plum and a bowl of berries. Red and black fruits abound on the soft, juicy palate. Finishes rich with cassis and cedar. A match for braised beef short ribs. (HH).

87 Quails’ Gate Merlot 2011, Okanagan ($25)

Savoury aromas punctuated by dried herbs and prune. The rich mouthfeel unveils loads of dark berry action and mocha, culminating with earthy spice and a dusting of chocolate. Well-structured yet balanced, so will pair well with sauce-dressed meats. (HH)

87 Quails’ Gate Old Vines Foch 2011, Okanagan ($25)

Sourced from 33-year-old vines at their desert-dry Osoyoos vineyard. The fragrant nose exudes violets, red berries and brambly notes. The rich, tangy palate embraces juicy acidity, dry tannins and sweet American oak spiciness. So, marinate the meat, fire up the BBQ and start grillin’. (HH)

/CHILE / 88 G7 The 7th Generation Estate Bottled Reserva Carménère 2011, DO Loncomilla Valley ($15.99)

A lushly rich Carménère with plenty of ripe berry fruit and spice on the nose. Thickly textured, with rounded velvety tannins, it finishes with an opulent combination of fruit, chocolate, spice and subtle oak. (SW)

/CROATIA / 88 Peljesac 2011, Dalmatian Coast ($11.95)

Pronounced ‘Pelushots,’ this wine is made from an indigenous red variety called Plavina. Garnet-coloured with an earthy, cherry nose, it’s light on the palate with sweet cherry and plum flavours — rather like a cross between Beaujolais and Chianti. (TA)

/FRANCE / 92 Domaine Bernard Defaix Chablis Côte de Lechet Reserve 1er cru 2010, ($34)

Fans of the bigger-styled Chardonnays of Chablis will adore this wine that sees some oak aging. The nose is complex with citrus, salty sea breeze, flinty minerality and just a whiff of smoke and oak. It is tight and nuanced on the palate and built in a perfectly austere and dry style. The hallmark of this impressive Chablis is the mineral structure and the subtle fruit that builds in momentum with each sip. I can’t help but think this will evolve and open up over time. (RV)

91 Lenoble Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut, Champagne ($47.95)

This is one very elegant Champagne (25% barrel-aged Chardonnay in the blend). Straw colour; creamy nose of white flowers, apple, ginger and a leesy note. Round on the palate, very dry, white peach and green apple flavours, finishing with a nutty, chalky note. (TA)

89 A&P de Villaine Bouzeron 2011, Burgundy ($27)

Few producers can reach this level of expression with the often-neutral Aligoté grape. Bright yellow colour with notes of citrus, apple/pear, sweet corn and a touch of wet wool underlined by soft minerality. Lively acidity, dry and slightly fatty middle palate, good balance and a clean finish of medium length. Ready to drink. (GBQc)

88 Brumont Gros Manseng Sauvignon 2012, Côtes de Gascogne ($12)

This dry white blend comes from France’s Southwest region of Gascony, famous for the brandy Armagnac. The passion fruit, tomato vine, honey and lime on the nose meets up with minerals, white flowers and fruit salad on the taste buds. Crisp acidity and lengthy aftertaste round everything out. (ES)

88 Chapoutier Belleruche Blanc 2012, Côtes-DuRhône AC ($19)

Floral and exotic ripe fruit scents yield to surprisingly crisp green apple and citrus flavours delivered with supple rounded mouthfeel, refreshing mineral grip and lightly

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//the notes tart acidity. Good as an apéritif or will pair with a variety of seafood and white meat dishes. (SW)

88 Combe St-Jean Chardonnay 2011, Burgundy AC ($21.99)

Floral notes are quite noticeable on the nose with suggestions of peach, ripe apple and a light whiff of oak. More typical crisp green apple shows up on the palate with attractively creamy rounded texture imparted by oak aging. (SW)

87 Labouré-Roi Chardonnay Maximum 2011, Burgundy AC ($19.99)

Shows straightforward but stylish Burgundy green apple fruit and good acid with enough weight, mineral and creamy texture to provide excellent balance and food-friendly character. (SW)

84 Lamblin et Fils Chardonnay Fleurs de Printemps 2011, Bourgogne ($14.83)

Pale gold. Bouquet of pears, apples and spice. Mediumbodied; tastes of melons, apples and ripe pears. Straightforward, good entry-level white Burgundy. (RL)*

92 Lamblin et Fils Pinot Noir Saveurs d’Hiver 2011, Burgundy ($14.83)

Medium-deep pinkish scarlet. Typical Pinot nose of violets and raspberries. Mediumbodied, tannic; needs time, but has lots of fruit in good balance. (RL)*

90 Jean-Michel Dupré Vignes de 1918 Régnié 2011, Beaujolais ($17.95)

Now that Beaujolais Nouveau is out of the way, why not try a

named village wine from the region that has real class? The wine is a deep purple colour with a nose of black cherries and moist earth; mediumbodied, it has a richly extracted cherry flavour with lively acidity. A fruity Beaujolais that really makes a statement. (TA)

90 Domaine d’Aupilhac 2010 Montpeyroux, Côteaux du Languedoc ($21) Purplish colour. Blackberry, blueberry and other black fruits; pastry notes from the oak. Supple attack, smooth and rich, fruity taste. The chewy tannins are quite soft, almost tender. Its full body lasts well into the warm finish. Best enjoyed now on braised red meat or casserole. (GBQc)

90 Domaine Villabea 2007, AOC CôteRôtie ($40.83)

Medium-deep brownish garnet. Nose of tobacco, leather, dried cherries; a hint of barnyard. Mediumbodied with dark berry flavours that are starting to dry out. Drink up. (RL)*

89 Domaine La Roche 2011, AOC Costières-deNîmes ($11.58)

Syrah/Grenache blend from the extreme south end of the Rhône. Medium-deep pinkish red. Typical candy-apple nose from the Grenache, coupled with spice and pepper from the Syrah. Light-bodied and simple, strawberry flavours, immediately appealing and easy-drinking. (RL)*

89 Moulin de Gassac Merlot 2011, Hérault ($13) Mas de Domas Gassac

62 // February/March 2014

produces some of the best wines in the Languedoc. Their second label, which is much more affordable than their top wines, is Moulin de Gassac. The wine is dense purple in colour with an earthy blueberry nose. Medium-bodied and richly extracted, it’s dry and spicy with a warm finish. (TA)

89 Château des Estanilles L’impertinent 2010, Faugères, Languedoc ($20)

Ruby red. Black cherry and other dark berry fruits, earth, spices and herbs complete the inviting nose. Ripe fruity taste and toasted oak notes on the palate, rich and velvety but a little warm on the tongue. The balanced finish is firm with a fine grain. (GBQc)

88 Georges Vigouroux Pigmentum Malbec 2012, Cahors AC ($15.99) Fleshy ripe blackberry and blackcurrant scents lead the way for stylish blackcurrant and black-cherry flavours; good weight, well-balanced acidity and solid but not overbearing tannic structure. A polished, modern Cahors that keeps faith with regional terroir. (SW)

87 Combe St-Jean Pinot Noir 2010, Burgundy AC ($21.99)

Spicy red cherry scents with a subtle touch of background oak give way to strawberry and raspberry as well as red cherry flavours in the mouth. Smoothly rounded texture contrasts with lightly firm tannic grip and lively acidity with a light splash of dark chocolate. (SW)

/GREECE / 92 Argyros Assyrtiko 2012, Santorini ($19.95)

Made from 60-year-old vines, this impressive wine starts off with a pale straw colour and then heads into a perfume of crushed volcanic rock, apple, honey, pear and white flowers. On the palate, it is full-bodied and bone-dry with an enormous saline minerality weaving in between the apple, citrus and peach fruit. There is excellent length and crunchy crystalline acidity, which gives it 8 to 10 years of longevity. (ES)

87 Thalia White Sauvignon Blanc/Vilana 2012, Crete ($9.95)

This blend of equal parts Sauv Blanc and indigenous Vilana is the best rendition to date. A profile of banana, fruit salad, passion fruit, honey, lime and herbs is supported by refreshing acidity. Light-bodied, there is very good length, and it is perfectly suited for shellfish, somewhere along the lines of seared scallops or grilled shrimps. (ES)

/ITALY / 92 Bolla Tufaie 2012, Soave Superiore ($24.99)

Elegant floral and green fruit aromatics are matched with equally intense and refined flavours on the palate. Additional complexity and richness come from a touch of oak influence and slightly higher alcohol. Finishes with pure greenapple crispness and contrasting rounded, creamery butter-like texture. (SW)


89 Bolla Retro 2012, Soave Classico DOC ($18.99)

Shows lovely floral and pure green fruit intensity on the nose. Generously full-flavoured fresh apple flavour in a creamy texture balanced by grippy mineral and lively acidity. An excellent example of what Soave should be all about. (SW)

88 Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio/Verduzzo delle Venezie IGT 2012 ($17.99)

Nose shows subtle, though intense, green and stone fruit, together with floral and honeyed scents. In the mouth, green-fruit freshness combines with crisp acidity, mineral and delicate creamy, honeyed notes on the finish. (SW)

88 Bottega Pink Sparking Rosé, Veneto ($22.95)

Probably the sexiest product currently at the LCBO. The bottle has a reflective pink-gold skin. The bubbly inside is very pale pink with a lilac note, a cherry and citrus nose and a dry, sour cherry flavour. Very elegant and easy-drinking. (TA)

95 Marchesi Antinori Solaia 2008, IGT Tuscany ($247)

Dark ruby. Classy, deep nose with notes of kirsch and sophisticated oak. Freshness in the attack, followed by a core full of ripe fruity extract, very rich and concentrated. Structure is silky and firm, in perfect balance. Long, powerful finish. This wine has everything you can wish for in a glass. (GBQc)

93 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Ornellaia 2009, Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany ($180)

Very dark. Complex nose of cooked red and black fruits, kirsch, tapenade and notes of vanillin. More than full-bodied, it is dense and generous in the mouth; its chewy texture coats the palate with satisfaction. Great future. (GBQc)

91 Rivera Cappellaccio Riserva 2006, Castel del Monte, Puglia ($18)

fruity extract. The long finish has a slight bitter edge. Better wait 2 to 3 years before trying it again. (GBQc)

salad, passion fruit and tomato wine. There is a medium body, excellent length and crisp acidity. (ES)

89 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Le Volte 2011, IGT Tuscany ($30)

88 Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough ($13.95)

Medium ruby. Fine nose of red fruits, a touch of oak. Firm acidity but the velvety texture caresses the palate. The finish is quite long and firm. Ready to drink. (GBQc)

87 Masi Bonacosta 2011, Valpolicella Classico DOC ($16.99)

Dark ruby. Unpleasant notes of reduction (cooked vegetables and rot) will hit you first if you don’t carafe it an hour or so. Give it time to let the dark fruit, herbs and spices (aniseed) come out of the glass. Medium- to full-bodied, balanced middle palate and finish. Soft, chewy tannins. Drink or wait 2 to 3 years. (GBQc)

/NEW / ZEALAND

90 Masi Brolo Campofiorin Oro Rosso del Veronese IGT 2009 ($29)

91 Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2010, Marlborough ($29.95)

This single-vineyard wine could be described as Campofiorin on steroids. Aromatics reveal complex raisiny, spicy richness with clove and an elusive hint of cinnamon. While retaining the essential Campofiorin character, it provides greater refinement and developed vinosity with a very long, well-integrated finish. (SW)

90 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Le Serre Nuove 2011, Bolgheri Rosso, Tuscany ($60)

Dark ruby. Black fruits dominate its nose, followed by oaked vanilla and a light red flower touch. Full-bodied and tight on the palate with great

Exhibits typical cherry fruit with a touch of spice, fairly gentle rounded tannins and attractive bitter-cherry bite on the finish. Unpretentious but stylish wine designed to go with pasta and pizza. (SW)

Renowned for their Sauvignon Blanc, Cloudy Bay also makes a nifty Chardonnay. Medium straw in colour with a hint of lime, it has a Burgundian nose — apple, a touch of barnyard and a spicy oak note. The wine is mediumbodied with elegant apple and green peach flavours and wellintegrated toasty oak with lively acidity. (TA)

90 Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Awatere Valley ($17)

The Awatere Valley is situated within the famed Marlborough region. This aromatic Sauvignon Blanc features telltale aromas of honeysuckle, pink grapefruit, guava, fruit

Here, you will find a punchy Sauvignon with passion fruit, tropical fruit, peach, ammonia, white flower and lime qualities. It is cleanly made with a light body and tangy finale. Pair with chèvre or sautéed shrimps in a lemon sauce. (ES)

88 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough ($19)

Very pale yellow colour with green reflections. Sharp nose; grassy, gooseberry and citrus notes. Lively attack, cutting acidity, very refreshing on the palate with an intense citrusy flavour of grapefruit. Drink now with sushis or similar Asian food. (GBQc)

/PORTUGAL / 86 Casa Santos Lima Alvarinho 2011, Vinho Regional Lisboa ($13.99)

Shows tropical, floral and stone fruit on the nose with ripe lemon, yellow pear and apricot, together with gravelly mineral and balancing acidity on the palate. Alvarinho, the star grape of the Vinho Verde region, does not show the same verve in the warmer Lisbon region, but nonetheless is an attractive buy. (SW)

97 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 2011, Portugal ($130)

The nose on this gorgeous

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//the notes Port is teeming with rich and concentrated cassis, espresso, blackberries, tar, black liquorice, oak spices and, among all that, there is a lovely floral note that brings a touch of poise to this massive, heady wine. It’s stunning on the palate with a core of sweet and fleshy dark fruits, lavish spices and layer after layer of pleasure. Though tightly wound, the sweet tannins are not aggressive at all, just silky smooth through an extended finish that seems to go on for a full minute. (RV)

96 Fonseca Vintage Port 2011, Oporto ($130)

2011 was universal declaration in the Douro Valley. As always, Fonseca is at the upper echelon of quality. Full-bodied, this absolute stunner oozes loads of blackberry, kirsch, fig, raisins, rhubarb, freshly cracked pepper, vanilla and hints of cocoa. It is medium-sweet with a fine acidity and flavours that carry for an exceedingly long time. The fine-grained tannins will ensure a long life ahead. Hold until 2025 and then drink until 2060. (ES)

91 Quinta da Barreira, Doudão 2011, DOC

Douro ($16.17)

Blend of 3 traditional Portuguese grapes. Mediumdeep plum red. Nose is rustic with raspberry, smoke, plums and raisins. Lovely balance, a soft and fruity wine featuring red and black berry flavours. Easy-drinking now but will improve and develop more complexity over the next 2 years. (RL)*

89 Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port 2007, Douro Valley ($17.95)

One of my favourite LBVs. Great depth of colour; a nose of mulberries, dried figs and milk chocolate with vanillaoak notes — flavours that enrich the palate. Perfect for blue cheeses or chocolate desserts. (TA)

88 Quinta Do Encontro Bairrada 2010, Bairrada ($13.95)

Quinta Do Encontro has bended the indigenous variety Baga grape with Merlot here. You get a sturdy wine that’s dense purple in colour with a toasty, spicy nose of blackberries and a floral grace note. Those flavours are replicated satisfyingly on the palate. Serve it with hearty winter casseroles. (TA)

/SPAIN / 92 Valduero Crianza 2006, DO Ribera del Duero ($20.67)

Medium-deep garnet. Nose of candy, black liquorice, and coffee, with green-tea accents. Medium-bodied, blackberry fruit with somewhat astringent tannins. A classy wine at its peak now. (RL)*

92 Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2011, ($23)

Alvaro Palacios has revolutionized Spain’s Priorat region. This beauty is a blend of Samsó, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah and shows lush and alluring notes of red berries, plums, blueberry pie, earth and spice. All those delicious fruits are joined by tar, liquorice, bramble and plush tannins through a long, long finish. A lot to like here, especially the price. (RV)

90 Torres Celeste 2009, Ribera del Duero ($21)

Purplish. Good intensity on the red-fruits nose with discrete notes of oak. Supple and juicy on the palate, its ripe fruity taste fills the mouth. Finish is full and tight, a sign of quality. A good wine

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64 // February/March 2014

and a good buy to be enjoyed over the next few years with grilled red meat. (GBQc)

89 Anciano ‘Aged 10 Years’ Tempranillo Gran Reserva 2002, Valepeñas ($16)

Aged 24 months in oak en route to its “Gran Reserva” designation (i.e. minimum of 5 years aging before release), but actually aged for a whole decade. Deep strawberry-jam aroma. Rich yet elegant, with surprising fruitiness and aged spiciness. Dry tannins frame a muscular structure. Begs for a hearty stew. (HH)

88 Anciano ‘Aged 7 Years’ Tempranillo Gran Reserva 2005, Valepeñas ($13)

Effusive balsamic and oaky aromas. Rich and berry-laden, with a mid-palate of vanilla-spiked red cherry flavour. Mouth-puckering tannins, yet elegantly textured. Complex finish with liquorice and cigar box. Great value for a wine with such aged characteristics. A pleasure with hearty tapas. (HH)

88 Beronia Reserva 2008, Rioja ($18.95)

Reserva means that the wine


aged a minimum of 3 years before being released, of which 1 year minimum has to be in oak. Made from the Tempranillo grape, this wine is a classic example of old-school Rioja. Here, you will find strawberry, prunes, cedar, tobacco, tomato purée and savoury notes both on the nose and palate. The tannins will ensure another 4 to 5 years of life. Grilled lamb chops are a perfect foil for this tasty bottle. (ES)

82 Clos Montblanc Merlot 2009, DO Conca de Barbera ($11.58)

Medium-deep garnet. Typical Merlot nose, earthy and leafy, but on the green side. Muted raspberry flavours. Drink now while the fruit remains, despite the high tannins. (RL)*

/UNITED / STATES 92 Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay 2011, Napa Valley ($45)

An opulent nose of poached pear, tropical fruits, coconut, vanilla oak spice and just a touch of citrus in this top-drawer Chard from Napa Valley. The palate reveals a poised and elegant style of Chardonnay with rich stone fruits balanced out by racy acidity and wood spices. Very fine Chardonnay that impresses all the way through the finish. (RV)

90 Stama Dry Rosé of Zinfandel 2012, California ($20)

For those of you looking for a little something extra in your pink wines, this rosé made of

Zinfandel from Lodi, California just might be the wine for you. The nose shows fresh raspberry, cherry and white flower notes. It’s clean and vibrant on the palate with red fruits joined by cassis and currant notes and a touch of tangerine in a perfectly dry style. An all-season rosé. (RV)

88 Grady Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2012, California ($20)

Another find from the Lodi region, this is atypical of those big, spicy Chardonnays from California. This one is fresh and clean with a nose of green apple, peach, pineapple and light spice notes. It’s delightful on the palate with bright fruit notes, soft vanilla spice and plenty of acid to provide freshness through the finish. (RV)

90 Renwood Old Vine Zinfandel 2010, Dry Creek Valley ($38)

A great combination of fruit and structure with bold aromas and flavours of wild black berry, black cherry and spice; complex and dense with fresh earth, ripe but grippy tannins, great structure and a big finish. Will definitely benefit from a little more time in the bottle. (GB)

89 Renwood Zinfandel 2011, California ($26)

Youthful and effusive with bright, ripe flavours of black cherry, wild berry and raspberry. Silky and wellfocused, finishing with a rush of fruit, spice and juicy tannins. A super value. Especially when you have a nice juicy steak to accompany it. (GB)

/BEER / Domaine Dupont Cidre Bouché Brut de Normandie Organic 2011, France ($11/375 ml)

This hazy copper cider has a nose of apple pie, delicate florals and earthy funk. The sparkling cider tastes like biting into the moist, crisp centre of an apple with supporting notes of rock candy and hints of mushroom. This 5% ABV organic offering is beautiful with foie gras and a slice of pungent, tangy sheep’s milk cheese like Portuguese Azeitão. (CL)

Dieu du Ciel! Pénombre, Quebec ($11.90/4-pack)

A porter-meets-a-hoppy-ale hybrid, this Black India Pale Ale from Quebec’s rockstar brewer has a heady nose of prune, dates and coffee with subtle, woodsy hops. The flavour starts out with caramel, date and fig notes with a hint of smokiness, and then builds to a crescendo of bitter earthy and grapefruit-peel hop flavour at the finish. Some roasted coffee notes kick back in here and a boozy warmth throughout nods to the 6.5 % ABV. Deliciousness. (CL)

Les Trois Mousquetaires Maibock, Quebec ($6.90) Meaning “May bock,” it is brewed for the short season between winter’s last thaw and spring’s first bloom. This creamy 8% lager will keep you toasty, while its dominant flavours of biscuit and fresh rolls are balanced by herbal hops. Salty pork is the perfect contrast to this beer’s sweet body, and a sandwich will pick up the beer’s bready notes. Try it with ham and Swiss or a BLT. (CL)

De Leyerth Brouwerijen Urthel Hop-It, Netherlands ($3.25/330 ml)

This clear golden ale has aromas of pear, cookie dough and herbs. It’s a unique offering, blending the bitter bite of an American IPA with the sweet, boozy fruit of a Belgian tripel; flavours of toast drizzled with honey, peaches and pears are balanced by ample spicy, snappy bitterness for a medium-dry finish. Serve with peach cobbler or goat Camembert. (CL)

Garrison Brewing 3 Fields Harvest Wet Hopped Strong Ale, Nova Scotia ($5.50/500 ml )

With a frothy, creamy head when poured, this strawcoloured ale has plenty of aromatic hoppy freshness, nutty malt aromas, robust, full-flavoured citrus fruitiness and rich malt character, finishing with lingering, very dry hoppy bitterness. (SW)

Garrison Brewing East Kent Golding Single Hop IPA Limited Release, Nova Scotia ($12.95/6 pack)

The third in a series of limited-release brews showcasing the specific characteristics of a single well-known hop variety, this golden-coloured ale has a lightly floral, mellow hoppy aroma with more pronounced dry bitterness kicking in on the creamily textured palate. Bitter intensity is balanced by lightly fruity and rounded malt character with nutty dry bitterness lingering on the finish. (SW)

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being outnumbered\\

IF THE NUMBERof certified sommeliers is any indication of the vitality of a country’s wine culture, then Japan is years ahead of France and Italy. France has some 1,200 accredited sommeliers, Italy 800; Japan has over 17,000. They take their wine seriously in Japan so perhaps it’s not surprising to find a store in Tokyo called Heavenly Vines — “the only all-Canadian wine store in the world,” as its owner, Jamie Paquin, is fond of calling it. He opened his doors on Canada Day 2011. Entering this tiny store is like stepping into a cameo Canada with CBC Radio on all the time. Tucked away in Tokyo’s trendy Ebisu district, this wine boutique, run by Jamie and his Japanese wife Nozomi, is about the size of the galley kitchen in a Toronto condo. Yet it manages to stock nearly 250 “distinctive Canadian wines” from Quebec, Ontario and BC. Who shops here? “There’s a segment who are Canadians and some foreign wine lovers,” says Jamie. “Surprisingly, the largest customer base is Japanese, and they’re not shopping for sweet wines. In fact, under 10 per cent of our stock is Icewine or Late Harvest.” Jamie Paquin is a one-man crusader bent on convincing the Japanese to drink Canadian wine. I asked him what turned a PhD student studying sociology at an English-language university in Tokyo into a wine merchant. “I got the wine bug here,” he told me. “Once I did get interested, when I’d go home (to Toronto) I began to search for wines beyond what the LCBO carried. Then we came back here and hunted all over Tokyo for Canadian wines. The odd one would pop up here and there — I found Clos Jordanne at a discount wine and food shop in the French section. I think Con-

66 // February/March 2014

FINAL WORD

BY TONY ASPLER

stellation dumped some wines at an early stage because they were cheaper than in Canada. Some JacksonTriggs Merlot was selling for 980 yen ($10.46) a bottle.” Together with the Canadian embassy, Jamie organized tastings and winemaker dinners in November, which were attended by the winemakers of Bachelder, Big Head, Coyote’s Run, Pondview and 13th Street from Ontario and Church & State, Joie Farm and Le Vieux Pin from BC. One Japanese sommelier who attended the Embassy tasting compared the wines with those he tried at an event for Japanese products two days later. He stated on his Facebook page that, while both industries have come of age in a similar time span, the Canadian wines were vastly superior. Twenty of the Canadian wines, he said, he would want to buy, versus only one from the Japanese tasting; and he felt Heavenly Vines’ pricing was fair in comparison, considering that the Canadian wines were shipped from the other side of the world. Winemaker Thomas Bachelder, who presented his wines at the tastings, found Tokyo to be “a very sophisticated, segmented market. I was very impressed by the level of knowledge of the buyers, retailers, sommeliers and educators. On the whole, what I saw was a mature market that was incredibly savvy and jammed full of the traditional wines, especially an incredible Burgundy selection in Tokyo, even in the suburbs. It’s a market hungry for new wines and new wine regions, not unlike the UK.” Norman Hardie, who had flown to Japan to present his portfolio earlier last year, was particularly impressed by the acceptance of Canadian wines — and the local wine professionals’ understanding of the potential for Canada to produce highquality, cool-climate varietals. “What stood out to them was the purity of flavour, the opportunity to produce mineral-driven wines given our soils and the possibility of having dry wines at under 13 percent alcohol. These wine styles work particularly well with their culture and their food, which is all about delicacy and precision.” In Japan, is there an awareness of Canada as a wine-producing country? “Luckily I’m obsessed enough to be able to repeat the story six or seven hundred times a year,” says Jamie. “A customer who had spent time in Vancouver came into the store asking for Clamato Juice.” That’s Canadian, right? •

ILLUSTRATION: FRANCESCO GALLÉ, WWW.FRANCESCOGALLE.COM


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Quench February/March 2014  

The first issue of Quench Magazine (formerly Tidings). We look at the art of the wine auction, Napa's next generation and how to make meals...

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