//n.a.s. scotch revealed//prosecco and hot toddies
DECEMBER 2013/ JANUARY 2014
KOREAN ON CD
//features 20// CELEBRATE BY MICHAEL PINKUS
Highlights from this year’s i4C.
BY EVAN SAVIOLIDIS Changing people’s perceptions of Prosecco.
24// AT THE QUINTA
BY BRENDA MCMILLAN
Imagine spending a day on a quinta in the Douro.
26// VINTAGE BY SEAN WOOD
Long aging Vintage Ports can still be found, though they’re harder to come by.
29// CIDER DISTILLED BY MERLE ROSENSTEIN
See how Canada creates its own style of Calvados.
32// AGE BEFORE BEAUTY?
BY TOD STEWART Detailing the new trend for whiskies with No Age Statement.
36// THE YEAR THAT
WAS IN WINE THROUGH THE FILTER OF INSTAGRAM
BY RICK VANSICKLE
A wine writer’s story told through images.
BY TIM PAWSEY
What do South Africa, Argentina and Chile have in common?
BY ROSEMARY MANTINI Remixing the hot toddy.
46// JA ÖSTERREICH! BY DUNCAN HOLMES
Remembering pen pals.
//à la carte 7// CONTRIBUTORS 8// FROM THE EDITOR 11// CONVERSATIONS Letters to the editor.
14// UMAMI JOANNE WILL
17// LAZY MIXOLOGIST CHRISTINE SISMONDO
18// BON VIVANT PETER ROCKWELL
51// MATTER OF TASTE SHEILA SWERLING-PURITT
55// BOUQUET GARNI NANCY JOHNSON
66// FINAL WORD TONY ASPLER
//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 CANADA // P. 59-61 CHILE // P. 62 FRANCE // P. 62-63 GERMANY // P. 63 ITALY // P. 63
17 4 // December 2013/January 2014
LUXEMBOURG // P. 64 MOROCCO // P. 64 NEW ZEALAND // P. 64 SPAIN // P. 64 UNITED STATES // P. 64-65 SPIRITS // P. 65
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Brenda McMillan uncorks her passions for photography, wine and food and pours them onto magazine pages. As she is also writing a novel involving wine, she tipples and travels frequently for “research” purposes.
Evan Saviolidis is the Wine Tasting Challenge Grand Champion, Instructor for the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, and teaches wine appreciation courses in Niagara at WineSavvy. For complete information, please visit www.evanwinesavvy.com.
To reduce the impact of numerous wine and food sorties abroad, contributing editor Tod Stewart permanently lives in a different time zone. And while it helps with the jet lag, many complain that he seems somewhat distant.
www.quench.me, living.quench.me, twitter.com/quenchbytidings
Tim Pawsey (a.k.a. The Hired Belly) is a much travelled food and wine critic. He writes, tweets and shoots for the North Shore News and Vancouver Courier. He also writes monthly in WHERE Vancouver magazine, and contributes to Taste magazine, Tidings, Montecristo and others. He is a founding judge of The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Wine. In 2012, Tim was honoured to be inducted as a “Friend of the Industry” into the BCRFA Hall of Fame. Taste with him vicariously at www. hiredbelly.com and follow him at rebelmouse.com/hiredbelly.
//visit us online at ...
//from the editor
you’re getting quench-ed IN A COUPLE OF MONTHSyou’ll get a copy of this magazine, but something will be different. As a whole, its pages will mostly look and feel the same. It will still have some of the greatest food and wine writers in Canada. Its design will pop. You’ll enjoy every page, as I’m sure you are doing now. One thing will have changed though. Some of you may be aware that starting with February/March 2014, Tidings Magazine will become Quench. What’s in a name, you might ask? A lot. For years we quenched your thirst for unbiased wine reviews. We quenched your hunger for easy-to-follow recipes the everyday gourmet would enjoy. We quench. We’ve chosen a name that better reflects what we do for you, our reader. It’s an evolution of a revolution. I don’t use the word “revolution” lightly. Nothing like Tidings existed some 40 years ago, and it took decades before others could imitate it. Tidings’ legacy is the wine culture it helped inform. SO MUCHhas changed. 40 years ago, when Tidings first put ink to paper, there was only one way to get your wine fix: fill out a slip, and slide it to a teller (behind a guarded counter). Recipes were passed around on little cards. And when you wanted a stiff drink … well, the selection was dismal. But now crisp new stores, with overflowing shelves, have become the cathedrals to our wine obsession. Street food is being redefined as maverick chefs battle to outdo themselves at every turn. And the passion we now show in our own kitchens is unsurpassed. We have become the model image of the everyday gourmet. This is the promise of Quench — to help you enjoy your life, one drop at a time.
DECEMBER 2013 JANUARY 2014 ISSUE # 316
Aldo Parise firstname.lastname@example.org ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Rosemary Mantini email@example.com 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, 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
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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
8 // December 2013/January 2014
On the stage and in your glass... an evening surrounded by stars.
We’ve got a wine for that.
JACKSON TRIGGS ON CD Please enjoy responsibly.
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Tom DeLarzac’s recipe, Lamb Chops with Brussels Sprouts made my day. Quick, easy and delicious. Gary Page, email
Re: “Vegan Secret Suppers” — I’m really intrigued by Mérida Anderson’s cookbook. I’m not vegan, but I welcome any chance to add new, healthful recipes to my collection. I love that she doesn’t use packaged or processed “faux-meat substitutes”. I just want real food.
... There are certainly wines out there that are grossly over priced based on their taste (or lack thereof) ...
Lily Canfy, NY
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Although Michael Pinkus does mention the un-mentionable movie title at the end of the introduction, his point is well taken. Merlot does have a place at the table — always has, always will. Unfortunately, that’s what a trend does. It takes an object to the heights and then lets it come crashing down. Anthony Laileed, Vancouver
Re: “Worth Its Weight In …” Ms Swerling-Puritt hits the mark. There are certainly wines out there that are grossly over priced based on their taste (or lack thereof ). But, some wines are truly wonderful, and although I’d rather not have to spend the money, I’m more than willing to do so for quality. L. Hamvas, email
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Gurvinder Bhatia’s article “Go, Gamay Go” reminded me of something. I don’t remember when I last had Gamay. Now, you’ve handed me a challenge. Jason Frederiks, Toronto
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secret for perfect skin\\
WITH THE HOLIDAYS UPON US ONCE AGAIN,I remember all the great family gatherings in my past. I begin to taste some of the amazing foods that made their way across my table. I can almost smell them. One that always stands out to me is the smell of a roast chicken nearing a perfect golden brown in the oven. There is something about preparing chicken for a family gathering that is hard to forget. This is also one of the reasons that in my house, the birds make a regular appearance on the menu. Many people are intimidated by roasting a whole chicken, but in reality, achieving a crispy skin is not all that difficult. Crispy skin and a juicy interior is the goal. If more people could achieve this consistently, I believe roasted chicken would grace more weekly menus. The key to a perfect chicken is to sear the skin. There are two steps to achieving a sear. Step 1: start with a high oven temperature as the chicken goes in, lowering the temp right away to continue cooking the chicken. Step 2: keep the temp constant by keeping the door closed. This is really key to baking and roasting anything in the oven. Opening and closing the oven can drop your temp by 25°F; this results in longer cooking times. It is also very easy to change the flavour of your chicken by using different spices and herbs. Stuffing can be changed, modified or omitted completely. What doesn’t change, though, is the delicious crispy skin. Just be wary of someone trying to lay claim to that skin when you are not looking.
BY TOM DE LARZAC
ORANGE ROAST CHICKEN 1
roasting chicken, whole, patted dry cup butter, room temp 1 large orange, zested and cut in half 4 tbsp salt Pepper to taste 1 large onion, cut into large chunks 1 large carrot, cut into large chunks 3 cloves of garlic, whole
1. Preheat over to 425°F. 2. Spread butter evenly between the skin and the meat of the chicken in as many places as possible.
3. Combine 1 tbsp of zest with salt; mix well. Spread salt
mixture on the inside and outside of the chicken, seasoning to normal taste levels. Pepper inside and outside of the chicken. 4. Stuff chicken with orange halves. 5. Place onion, carrot and garlic on the bottom of a roasting pan. Place chicken on top of the vegetables. 6. Place chicken in oven and immediately decrease temperature to 350°F. Roast for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy! …… Serve with veggies and potatoes and a spicy Gamay.
very happy holidays\\
BY JOANNE WILL
THEY SAY THAT,along with nostalgia for foods like meatloaf and fondue, we’re in the midst of a fruitcake revival: the holiday delicacy about which no one is ambivalent. Fruitcake seems to either delight or repel. If you’re in the latter camp, it may be that you haven’t tried the homemade variety, and odds are there’s a recipe out there to suit your taste. Many countries and cultures have a unique version — Italian panforte, German stollen and Swiss birnbrot come to mind. The Indian version is full of spice, the Caribbean is soaked in rum, and Romanian and Bulgarian cakes typically contain orange zest and ground poppy seeds. Fruitcaking may have begun with the Egyptians, and was certainly a part of Roman culture. Pomegranate and pine nuts were mixed into barley mash. Honey, preserved fruits and spices were added in the Middle Ages, and the cakes spread across Europe. In the 16th century, sugar increased the shelf life of the dried fruits. Alcohol was added in the Victorian era, and the cake became a holiday staple in Britain. Revivals aside, some of us haven’t known life without fruitcake. The Christmas cake tradition in my family began at least 100 years ago. In rural Saskatchewan, with 12 children and the Depression to contend with, my great-grandmother found the energy and resources each year to churn out a four-tiered version, decorated with candy and adorned with a festive topper. My grandmother, who has been making fruitcake since 1946 — the year she married — shares the story. “After the crop came in, Dad always went to town to get the fruit and nuts for the cake, and that was always something special,” she says. “It was better than a gift. It took hours to cook; you had to be careful with the old coal stove and keep the right temperature to cook the cake evenly.” One of my sisters has been learning the ropes, and each fall she and our grandmother gather over a weekend around a giant bowl and a wooden spoon. The recipe is from The American Woman’s Cookbook, a staple in many households during WWII (and originally published pre-WWI). As with anything made by a grandparent’s hand, however, it’s what’s not listed in the recipe that makes the end result so good. My sister has made careful note of the extra fruit and walnuts, the jar of tart homemade crabapple or chokecherry jelly, and the cup of strong coffee added by Grandma. The batter is divided into six deep cake tins, a mix of round and square, that will eventually be distributed among the family. My sister bakes three in her oven, and Grandma the others. Later, almond icing is rolled out to fit the cake, which is finished with decorative wrapping and ribbon. When my cake arrives in the mail in early December, it’s whittled away each day with cups of tea, and it takes every ounce of willpower to ensure that a morsel remains to be enjoyed on Christmas Day.
14 // December 2013/January 2014
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AT LEAST SINCE ROCKY,people have had strong feelings about raw eggs in drinks, and most probably fall on the anti-egg side of the divide. Still, even though some public health boards disapprove of the use of raw eggs in bars, there’s a small but growing contingent that is throwing off the “yolk” of oppression by embracing egg cocktails. And that’s with both egg whites, which add viscosity and foam to fizzes, and those who use the entire egg, yolk and all. If this sounds gross, consider the eggnog that we look forward to every year. Cardiologists are grateful we tend to confine our indulgence in rich, boozy egg-and-cream drinks to one or two holiday parties, a ritual that probably owes as much to the fact that doing up eggnog properly involves a fair bit of effort and is generally made in large batches, suitable for parties of 20 or so. A swath of bartenders reviving a 19th-century family of drinks called “flips” (generally made from liquor, sugar and a whole egg) may be changing all this, however, and making it possible to enjoy single servings of nog-type drinks. In Halifax, for example, one of the city’s top bartenders, Jenner Cormier, put the Sleeper Flip — rum, ginger, bitters and egg — on the menu at Noble cocktail bar, where it’s a big hit, especially in chilly fall weather. “Everyone around here loves their rum, so it was an obvious choice to put on the menu,” says Cormier. “But it’s also been really fun playing around with sherry, apricot liqueur and almond liqueur flips, which we might do for special requests.” Flips actually date back to the days of the early North American colonists, although in its earliest incarnation, the drink didn’t include eggs. As Wayne Curtis, author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails explains, a flip was originally beer, rum and molasses mixed in
+ Visit quench.me/search-mixed/ for more drink recipes
BY CHRISTINE SISMONDO
a pewter tankard then heated up with a red-hot iron, which gave the drink a nice burnt-caramel flavour and a frothy head. Perhaps for safety reasons, people gradually put away the hot irons and, instead, subbed in eggs. Cormier says he gravitated towards the egg as a cocktail ingredient because of the depth and dimension it adds to drinks. “You can get a nice velvety mouthfeel by adding an egg to a cocktail,” says Cormier. “It’s a fairly neutral springboard that draws out and subtly alters amazing tastes. And you don’t have to add as much sugar as you would to balance out a cocktail made with, say, heavy cream.” Cormier’s probably one of the first in Halifax to showcase a flip. But he’s not alone since bartenders across the country are using recipes like his to wow customers with a thoroughly novel, yet strangely familiar taste, which the flip somehow manages to deliver nearly every time.
JENNER CORMIER’S SLEEPER FLIP 2
oz Flor de Caña 5-Year-Old rum oz ginger syrup 1 fresh egg Dry shake (no ice) ingredients for one minute in cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake again for 30 more seconds. Strain into chilled coupe glass and garnish with 3 drops of Angostura bitters.
BON VIVANT or what and warming winter\\ BY PETER ROCKWELL
18 // December 2013/January 2014
grape), or something else that isn’t spelt Prosecco, to clearly show that they have no connection to the classified wine. Inside the DOC/DOCG, Prosecco can be tossed around like a football at a tailgate party, even as an alternative to the less-than-romantically named Glera. Did I mention the Italians prefer their regulations served with a side of confusion? Any ideas for a good winter cocktail? While I hate the thought of assigning seasonality to a cocktail, I’ll be the first to admit that some don’t take to a change in the weather as well as others. I mean, who’s going to relax by the pool sipping on a heated bevy? Not this liquor aficionado. So there you go; something that will warm you up is the way to go in winter. Let’s start with special coffee. Yes, while on resto menus year-round, they’re simple to make, so think about mixing up a Spanish, Irish, Canadian or Mexican version to contemplate in front of a roaring fire. I like a good wine-based cocktail come winter. Dig out your favourite sangria recipe, grab a bottle of cheap red, toss in a few spices and, voila, you’ve got mulled wine. The Germans call it glühwein (glow wine); those living in Nordic countries (who know a thing or two about the cold) call it glögg. The variations are almost endless. If a red wine mixture doesn’t turn your corkscrew, wassail (like in that Christmas song) is a similar hot drink made with apple cider. (For more ideas, see page 44.) If hot doesn’t appeal to you, look to cooler cocktail combos where weightier booze like brandy, rum and whisky show themselves off. Though brown spirits, especially the spiced versions, may not scream “Ho! Ho! Ho!,” their forward, warming flavours are a perfect foil for frosty nights. Tap in the names of any of these drinks into Google for details on how to make them. Just keep your mind as open as your glass is empty.
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Is Prosecco a grape, a wine, or what? Oh, those laidback Italians; they let you call a wine whatever you want as long as they’re the only ones drinking it, and then they get all protectionary when the corks start popping internationally. Prosecco is a classic example. Originally a pedestrian, off-dry semi-sparkler languishing in the shadow of Piedmont’s “sexy since the 1970s” Asti Spumante, its only real contribution to liquid culture was as the base of the peach purée–infused Bellini cocktail, which was invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice close to the middle of World War II. While I don’t know anyone who churns out Bellinis at home (and I know a lot of people), Prosecco’s lean, creamy bubbles, food-friendly nature and low alcohol has earned it an ardent fan base that began rallying around at the start of the 21st century and turned it into the One Direction of the wine world. But, you had a question. Prosecco is actually a village in Italy’s northeastern region of Friuli–Venezia Giulia which, according to local lore, the Glera grape (which is the berry the wine is made from) first called home. Through much of its umpteen-hundred years of history, all juice fitting the Prosecco profile adopted the nickname; so, for the longest time it was technically a “wine style” unprotected from any regulatory production rules and regulations. And, the Italians love regulations. Prosecco eventually received a DOC designation, which set out guidelines for how and where it could be made (parts of Friuli–Venezia Giulia and neighbour Veneto), and in 2009 it was elevated to the top rung of Italian vino as a DOCG. The bump-up expanded the DOC boundaries, assigned certain real estate within it as the best of the best and officially made Prosecco the name of a geographical production area. Well, sort of. Anyone making a Prosecco-inspired wine outside the DOC/DOCG has to call their output Glera (after the
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BY MICHAEL PINKUS
WHEN IT COMESto the topic of Chardonnay I always go back to a line I heard from Le Clos Jordanne’s former winemaker Thomas Bachelder (who is now making his own line of wines called Bachelder), “When I taste a good Chardonnay I ask myself one thing: where’s the salmon?” To this day, whenever salmon is on the menu I look for a nice Chardonnay to match. In mid-July I would think the local salmon population would have been put on the endangered species watch list as the i4C came to Niagara. This festival, now in its third year, is the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (i4C for short), and does exactly what it says: it’s a weekend long celebration of everything Chardonnay. As someone who attended I can tell you there was Chardonnay as far as the eye could see; so if this steely grape is your thing, it lived up to its billing. 60 producers in total showed up to showcase one of the world’s most popular white grapes. And while I have tasted many from around Canada, coast to coast, it was nice to taste the international contingent to see how our wines stood up against the foreign competition. Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, euro for euro, or however you want to count it, I would say we Canadians should stand pretty proud of our Chardonnay, especially compared to some of the best and priciest of the world.
20 // December 2013/January 2014
Since we’re on the topic of international Chardonnay let’s take a look at a number of bottles worthy of your hardearned Canadian dollar, and while we’re at it, better pick yourself up some salmon to make the most of these wines.
CHÂTEAU GENOT-BOULANGER PULIGNY MONTRACHET “LES NOSROYES” 2010, BURGUNDY, FRANCE ($69) Vanilla, butter and baked apple with a sweet peach and lime finish.
KISTLER VINEYARDS LES NOISETIERS 2011, CALIFORNIA, USA ($79.95) Creamy vanilla with nice lemon and lime nuances; then there’s the bonus of a long finish.
HAMILTON RUSSELL VINEYARDS CHARDONNAY 2012, SOUTH AFRICA ($32.95)
Spice, cinnamon and vanilla apple; there’s also a bit of a tannin bite on the finish.
FLOWERS VINEYARD AND WINERY SONOMA COAST 2011, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES ($59)
Butter, vanilla and peach along with nice spice/acid combo leading to the finish.
JEAN LEON S.L. 2011, VINYA GIGI, SPAIN ($16)
Not the first place you think of for Chardonnay but this one is fresh and fruity with lively peach and apple notes.
MAISON LOUIS JADOT SANTENAY CLOS DE MALTE 2010, BURGUNDY, FRANCE ($39)
Pleasant and easy drinking, but also with lots of complexity where spice and fresh fruit fight it out for supremacy.
MAISON ROCHE DE BELLENE RULLY LES CLOUX 1ER CRU 2011, BURGUNDY, FRANCE ($39.95) Creamy texture mixes well with acidic bite.
MAISON ROCHE DE BELLENE CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET, CHENEVOTTEC 1ER CRU 2011, BURGUNDY, FRANCE ($40) Creamy vanilla, lime meringue all leading to a lovely finish.
NAUTILUS ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2011, NEW ZEALAND ($24.95)
Vanilla and spice along with some baked peach notes; simple yet elegant.
STAETE LANDT WINE COMPANY JOSEPHINE 2010, NEW ZEALAND ($36) Fruit dominates on this one as the oak takes a backseat; lime and cream are at the forefront.
VILLA MARIA ESTATE SINGLE VINEYARD KELTERN 2011, NEW ZEALAND ($25) A surprisingly genteel Chardonnay. Creamy smooth with lime cordial and nice acidity.
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VINA DONA PAULA SA SELECCIÓN DE BODEGA CHARDONNAY 2009, ARGENTINA ($29.95)
The wine was made using extended lees contact for added depth. Nicely complex with lime pith and vanilla along with grapefruit and spice on the finish.
VINA MAYCAS DEL LIMARI LTDA 2010, QUEBRADA SECA, CHILE ($33)
This is a best-grapes blend aged 100% in French oak; creamy and juicy at the same time making this wine an interesting dilemma in the mouth, but what a dilemma to have.
VINA VENTISQUERO GREY SINGLE BLOCK CHARDONNAY 2011, CHILE ($20) Very pretty with a big presence in the mouth, fresh fruit along tropical lines along with lime cream, vanilla and nice citrus finish. •
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BY EVAN SAVIOLIDIS
MOST PEOPLE’S PERCEPTION OF PROSECCOis that of a cheap and cheerful bubbly, which finds its pinnacle in cocktail form: Bellini, Mimosa and Aperol Spritz. This is a real shame since the state of Prosseco affairs is changing. Quality has never been better, but it takes a bit of insight to know what to buy.
As a journalist and educator, there is always a combination of frustration and excitement when there are significant changes to a wine region. Why, you may ask? Well, my first thought is, “what, they couldn’t get it right the first time?!” Then the realization sets in that all things change, even more so in the wine world. Quality, boundaries and laws are always in perpetual evolution. Historically, there were two types of Prosecco. The first was Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene (PCV), which translates to the Prosecco grape from the villages of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. It was the classic Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) area, representing 5,000 hectares of premium south-facing hillside vineyards, 50 kms to the north of Venice. The other, Prosecco IGT, lived off the name of its more famous neighbour. It represented the large swath of Prosecco grapes grown on the flatlands in the provinces of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and Veneto. Due to its lesser attributes, this bubbly tends to find its way into the aforementioned cocktails, and even worse, soda pop cans — no joke! In 2009, the state of affairs changed. PCV, after years of lobbying to protect its quality and terroir, was promoted to the highest level of Italian wine classification, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), and its name was changed to Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore. Of
22 // December 2013/January 2014
course, politics came into play and trade-offs were required. The Prosecco IGT producers agreed to the promotion, as long as they received their own DOC. This was agreed to and essentially overnight, legitimacy was given to the illegitimate. A bad move in my opinion, as the producers of PCV, already facing fierce global sparkling wine competition, enhanced their little brothers’ perception on the world stage.
PROSECCO TO GLERA
As part of the aforementioned changes, the grape Prosecco became known as Glera, making any reference to the wine known as Prosecco appellation-based rather than varietal. Why Glera? It is actually the original name of the grape. First introduced to the region back in the 18th century, it became the go-to varietal, post phylloxera. Prior to this, the dominant grape was Verdiso, which translates as “green.” This fickle grape, which ripens ultra-late, never turns yellow during verasion, has a stern personality and is susceptible to rot. It is easy to see why the vignerons of that epoch were won over by the charming qualities of the easy-to-grow grape. Glera is a quasi-aromatic varietal known for its elegance and refreshing personality. Banana, pineapple, green apple, pear, white flowers and mineral are but some of the flavours associated with the grape. In terms of its origin, there is a certain belief that the grape originated in the village of Prosecco, located in the province of Trieste, hence the synonyms. Today, the laws of Prosecco mandate that Glera comprise a minimum of 85 per cent of the blend. Other optional blending suspects include Perera, Bianchetta, and of course, the singular Verdiso.
THE METHOD AND STYLES
By law, all Prosecco must be made via the Metodo Italiano, also known as Charmat or Tank Method. Contrary to popular opinion, it was Signor Martinotti, an Italian, and not Monsieur Eugene Charmat, of France, who first created the process. Metodo Italiano helps to emphasize the freshness, purity and delicacy of the Glera grape, rather than the yeasty/toasty aromas associated with the Champagne method. The majority of Prosecco is bottled as either Extra Dry or Dry, meaning that when the dosage is added, the bubbly contains somewhere between 12 to 17g/l or 17 to 32g/l, respectively. There are also Brut versions, which have very little dosage (drier), but they are few and far between.
VILLA SANDI VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE DRY CUVÉE NV ($15)
This wine won the coveted Tre Bicchieri award from Italy’s top wine magazine, Gambero Rosso. The experience starts with a bouquet of pear, white flowers and yeast. There are added nuances of lemon skin and minerality on the clean and long-lasting aftertaste. As a side note, I had the chance to visit the winery. It is a truly impressive facility, and they run a top-notch hospitality program.
FOSS MARAI VALDOBBIADENE SUPERIORE DI CARTIZZE DRY NV ($13)
Citrus, apple, Anjou pear, and buckwheat honey are framed on this medium-bodied bubbly. There is excellent length, lovely creamy bubbles and terrific acidity. It is perfect for oysters on the half shell.
DRUISAN VALDOBBIADENE SUPERIORE DI CARTIZZE DRY NV ($15)
Here you will find a melange of pear, honey, apricot and citrus. There is beautiful texture and a long citrus and mineral-tinged finale.
VALDO VALDOBBIADENE SUPERIORE DI CARTIZZE DRY “CUVÉE VIVIANA” NV ($14)
THE BISOL FAMILY
Regardless of classification, the pinnacle of Prosecco is Cartizze, aka Valdobbiadene Superiore de Cartizze. Considered the Cru or Prosecco, this 107 hectares of the steepest slopes are located solely within the boundaries of the village of Valdobbiadene. As legend has it, this swath of land was always the last to be harvested due to the difficulty involved in manually picking the grapes off such steep tangents. This extended hang time, combined with maximum sun exposure, helps to produce the ripest Glera grapes, and in turn, the wines with the most depth and complexity.
OTHER GOOD THINGS
Ideally, Prosecco should be drunk in its youth, to take advantage of its exuberance. Classic pairings are antipasti, salumi, risotto, fish/shellfish, fried foods and asparagus. Outside the classical pairing realm, sushi is an ethereal pairing with a Cartizze. If bubbles are not your thing, not to worry, there are non-carbonated versions as well as some fine grappa to be had. But if affordable bubbly is what you’re looking for this holiday season, to the right is a list of my favorite Cartizzes, which I tasted at Vino in Villa, the annual Prosecco festival. •
A huge essence of white flowers, ginger, peach and clove meets up with apple, citrus and banana on the taste buds. There is a long aftertaste, creamy texture and refreshing acidity.
BISOL VALDOBBIADENE SUPERIORE DI CARTIZZE DRY NV ($20)
Bisol is one of my favourite Prosecco producers. The pale straw colour flows into a perfume of peach, white flowers and cream soda on the nose. These qualities mesh with honey, apple and citrus on the palate. There is very good length, delicate mousse and refreshing acidity, which is the hallmark of the Glera grape.
BORGO MOLINO VALDOBBIADENE SUPERIORE DI CARTIZZE DRY 2012 ($18)
A perfume of peach, flowers, apple, honey and banana. The same is found on the taste buds, as well as citrus, pear, creamy bubbles and a superb finish.
ASTORIA VALDOBBIADENE SUPERIORE DI CARTIZZE NV ($13)
At first, the nose is subdued, but with some time and coaxing, a bouquet of rose, honey, pineapple, banana, peach and pineapple. The palate features much of the same, with crisp acidity and sound length.
THE BY BRENDA MCMILLAN
IMAGINE SPENDINGa day on a quinta (estate) in the Douro. It’s mid September; Port grapes are perfectly ripe, thanks to relentless sunshine and temperatures that hover around 30˚C. Winemakers are crazy-busy doing the same tasks — albeit with modern facilities and tools — that have been done by winemakers for centuries. Meet three winemakers who share the cycle of harvest with us. Alzira Viseu Carvalho at Quinta de Santa Eufemia (founded in 1864) is one of seven sibling owners (the one with the oenology degree). She lives on the property and shoulders dual responsibilities of winemaking and managing the quinta where Port and table wines are made. She and her siblings started working on the quinta when they were young. Oscar Quevedo, marketing whizz for Quevedo Port Wine, and helpful brother to his winemaking sister, Cláudia Quevedo, spends much time in the Douro during harvest and at the tender age of 30, has decades of experience. “Since I was very young I’ve been helping to harvest and tread grapes. I still remember one day, I was five or six years old, when grapes were coming to my Grandpa’s winery and excited with all that activity, I decided to jump into the lagar, not even considering that the amount and height of the grapes could be enough to drown me.” Jean-Hugues Gros is the winemaker at Senhora do Convento where they have a gorgeous 12th-century monastery. Unlike Ms Viseu Carvalho and Mr Quevedo, Mr Gros is not a native of the Douro. “I am French, 46 years old, born in Paris. I studied oenology and trained in Burgundy. My first harvest in the Douro was in 1993 — a horrible harvest with a lot of rain and rotten grapes. But I did not give up. After working in different places I came back to Portugal in 1999 to be the winemaker at Senhora do Convento. I am now a consultant for several quintas of the Douro Valley and also a table wine producer.”
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Our day in the Douro begins early. Pre-dawn roosters crow a greeting passed along by dogs from one to the next. Mist infused with the tang of wood smoke huddles in the valleys, safe for a while from the fingers of sunlight that will steal down the steep slopes from terrace to terrace. Grapes silently await their fate in the fading darkness. Some people, like Mr Quevedo, are in vineyards by sunrise. “A typical day at our winery starts with a visit to one of our quintas, such as Quinta Vale d’Agodinho to tell the harvesters where to start cutting. Then I visit the parcels of the quinta that are not yet harvested and collect berries to take to the winery and check the maturity level. I also taste and check the grapes in loco, analysing thickness of the skin, colour, hardness and taste of the seed. At around 9 a.m. I go back to the winery to see the first grapes arriving. After starting the crush, we taste the musts that are fermenting and decide where to put the grapes arriving throughout the day. By this time it would be 1 p.m. and my stomach would be waiting for some food.” Also in the vineyard early is Ms Viseu Carvalho: “We have a saying in this land that the vineyards like to see the owners. I believe so, but the owners also like to see the vines! Even when I have very good helpers, it is always important to see with my own eyes! Tasting the grapes is fundamental to know the evolution of sugar, the acidity, the pulp, etc. Even though I do analysis in the laboratory I get the first impression in the vineyard with the taste of the grapes and condition of the vines. I need to do this to plan the harvest!” This kind of work builds an appetite so Ms Viseu Carvalho is always at the quinta for lunch. “We have several menus so something different everyday with alternating meat and fish (like sardines, her favourite). Always soup, of course. But normally one thing is certain. On
QUINTA Wednesday it’s always feijoada, (bean stew)! Some weeks it’s feijoada from Tras-os Montes (red beans, meat and cabbage), other weeks it is tripas à moda do Porto, (tripe Porto-style with pork or beef, chorizo sausage and white beans). Mr Quevedo has lunch on the quinta with his parents and sister. “Food during harvest is always rich enough to give us energy to last for the next 10 hours. Always included is meat, pork, beef or goat kid, sometimes with potatoes and almost always with rice and vegetables. The harvest dish I like the most is rancho (pasta and/or beans and/or potatoes, veal, chouriço [sausage], presunto [ham] and onions).” At Quinta do Convento, some vineyards are planted with mixed varietals. Mr Gros deals with that: “Each variety is fermented separately in small tanks. I must decide if we will make Port or table wine, the treatments during the fermentation, addition of yeasts or not. The Douro is one of the most beautiful wine regions. Also one of the most difficult to understand because of the quantity of grape varieties, microclimates and altitude, but as a winemaker, it’s very interesting to have the opportunity to work with Port wines: Ruby, Tawny, young Port, Vintage and old Port.” Ms Viseu Carvalho is poetic about her home: “The Douro is silver in the morning, black in the afternoon, and gold when it rains. The view is always changing. Sometimes on summer afternoons in the heat it seems that the birds and human beings and all animals have a “siesta” so you hear nothing. We have a lot of different birds and some years ago we had a white owl make a nest here. She was really beautiful.” Mr Quevedo and his winemaking sister also have full afternoons: “After lunch another visit to the vineyards to see how harvest has been and at 5 pm, as the pickers stop, I go back to the winery to finish the crushing of the grapes. Then, we have one or two tanks that need to be fortified, which keep us busy for three or four more hours. At 9 pm we go for dinner and at 10 pm come back to the winery to finish fortification and clean up the mess. A final tasting of the musts takes place before bed. And next day it all starts over again at 6 am.
Ms Viseu Carvalho spends most of her days — and also some nights — in the cellar where she has two to three assistants. About 20 people work in their vineyards, along with tourists and friends who also want to participate. Suppers, often late in the evening, are lively affairs with family, friends and visitors.
My memories of quinta suppers as a visitor during harvest involve hours of eating outside around a bountiful table laden with linens, silver and crystal. Many courses of quinta wines and locally-sourced food like roasted almonds (with white port), homemade soup, cabrito no forno (roast kid) with creamy roast potatoes and green beans followed by a cheese course with Port, then a sweet dessert enriched with a thousand egg yolks, and ... more Port. And cigars! And conversation and laughter under stars dotting a black sky. Then a stroll to the winery to see — and join — the young men, their arms linked, dancing in the grapes in the lagar to make the Vintage Port that will be enjoyed by diners at the table under the same stars — in 25 years. The cycle of harvest in the Douro continues, ad infinitum. •
VINTAGE BY SEAN WOOD
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ACROSS THE RIVER DOUROfrom the city of Oporto lies the town of Vila Nova de Gaia. For centuries, this is where Port, shipped in barrels down the Douro in the traditional flat-bottomed, sail-driven boats known as “Barcelos Rabelos,” unloaded their cargos. The major shippers all established their wine lodges, where Port was aged and eventually bottled, here in Vial Nova de Gaia. Nowadays, hydroelectric dams on upper stretches of the Douro have put an end to picturesque river shipments. Port is now, rather unromantically, transported by tanker trucks. The major lodges continue to operate, though, and large quantities of Port are still aged here. International buyers still come, as well as many tourists who are offered tours and tastings. There has been a great deal of consolidation in the Port trade and many of the great names, often harking back several hundred years, have become part of large conglomerates. Although modern methods of growing and winemaking have shaped softer, more approachable wines, individual estates, known as quintas in Portugal, by and large have retained their individual styles. Forcefully structured, long aging Vintage Ports can still be found, though harder to come by.
SYMINGTON FAMILY ESTATES
During my visit to Oporto and the Douro region last year, I tasted a wide range of Ports, beginning with a visit to the Graham’s lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia. Graham’s, along with other venerable names like Dow’s, Warre’s and Smith Woodhouse, is part of Symington Family Estates, now the Douro’s largest vineyard owners.
DOW’S LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORT 2007 ($15)
Scents of violets, soft cherry and subtle spice give way to red berry fruit flavours with light touches of chocolate and caramel on the palate. Very easy to like.
DOW’S 10 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT ($35)
Refined dried fruit, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg notes on the nose with dried citrus fruit with a hint of sultanas and plenty of raisiny richness on the long finish.
WARRE’S OTIMA 20 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT ($40)
Shows a bit of alcoholic warmth on the palate with excellent depth of flavour with some rancio notes creeping in. Long sensations of coffee, caramel and raisin round out the smooth, rich finish.
DOW’S 1999, QUINTA DO BOMFIN SINGLE QUINTA VINTAGE PORT ($40)
Delicate floral scents with prominent violet notes in the foreground backed by subtle touches of cinnamon and clove with surprisingly fresh red cherry fruit, almost metallic mineral character and both red currant and blackcurrant flavours on mid-palate. Long finish combines lovely approachable fruit with complex spice and a very subtle kiss of oak.
GRAHAM’S 1999, QUINTA DOS MALVEDOS SINGLE QUINTA VINTAGE PORT ($55)
Dark cherry fruit with a subtle trace of liquorice as well as some oaky notes on the nose lead into soft cherry flavour with some currant notes and more concentrated raisin on mid-palate. Shows some tannic backbone with complex blackcurrant, black cherry, clove cinnamon and a splash of dark chocolate. Finish has an agreeable touch of fiery alcohol and solid drying grip. Already shows great finesse but has plenty of room for more development.
QUINTA DO VESUVIO 1994, VINTAGE PORT ($140)
Intense, dark morello cherry with a hint of alcohol on the nose shifting to blackcurrant in the mouth with velvety texture, firm tannic structure and a very long finish. Hugely concentrated fruit and dry, tannic grip on the finish shows classic vintage Port style. A terrific Port from a celebrated vintage.
QUINTA DE LA ROSA
When visiting the Douro, I had the opportunity to stay at Quinta de La Rosa, an authentic family-owned working quinta owned by the Berqvist family near Pinhao, in the heart of the region. Built into the steep terraces high above the river Douro, it is one of the most picturesque settings along this majestic river. The vineyards rise from about 300 feet above the river up to 1300 feet, providing a wide variety of microclimates. The best is Vale do Inferno, just a short stroll from the quinta. The Berqvist family and their staff are also excellent hosts. I can think of no better base from which to explore the region. In addition, La Rosa has established a growing reputation for excellent Douro table wines, which can be sampled at dinner on the terrace, overlooking the breathtaking view. Here are three examples of La Rosa’s polished style:
QUINTA DE LA ROSA 10 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT ($30/500 ML) Shows light tawny colour with a fine bouquet presenting dried citrus fruit peel, raisiny notes and suggestions of coffee and mocha. A panoply of dried fruit flavours kick in on the palate with rich creamy caramel toffee, mocha and spice on the finish.
QUINTA DE LA ROSA 2007, LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORT (UNFILTERED) ($25/500 ML)
Elegant rounded fruit on the nose and ripe, approachable fruitiness on the palate. Not heavily structured, but made in an easy drinking, popular style.
QUINTA DE LA ROSA 2009, VINTAGE PORT ($50)
Youthful, and still quite closed on the nose but with discernible spicy black cherry, clove and cinnamon. Rich black cherry comes in a creamy, opulently rich package supported by tannic grip, dark chocolate and a pleasant touch of heat on the finish. This one needs a lot more time.
old. Further developed complexity also plays through in the mouth. Concentrated sweetness is counterbalanced by acidity and dry oak on the superbly integrated finish.
TAYLOR FLADGATE 40 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT ($240) Ups the ante once again with astonishingly complex yet well harmonized dried orange peel, caramel, chocolate, cinnamon and a trace of mint on the nose. The amazing range of tastes continues to play through on the palate with great vigour right through the enormously long finish.
FONSECA 40 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT ($200)
Rather understated in comparison to the Taylor 40 Year Old, with subtle but harmonious floral fragrance together with some leafy notes, spice and dried fruit. Presents very rich spicy dried fruit and raisiny flavours in the mouth, with coffee and caramel notes. Background acidity and minerality provide equilibrium on the prolonged finish. Very well rounded and harmoniously balanced, this wine is clearly different but as pleasing as its stable-mate.
DID YOU EVER WONDER WHAT 150 YEAR OLD PORT TASTES LIKE? THE SYMINGTON FAMILY
TAYLOR, FLADGATE & YEATMAN
Returning to Vila Nova de Gaia, I visited another giant of the Port trade, Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman. This firm now embraces such classic producers as Taylor’s, Croft’s and Fonseca. Their holdings include some of the finest vineyards of the Douro. Among the 20 Ports tasted that day, these were among the most impressive:
CROFT’S 2005, LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORT ($20)
Ripe dark cherry and floral scents with violets, light spice and a whiff of pencil box. Boasts generous fruit on the palate with clove, allspice, pencil box oakiness and a touch of warming spirit on the finish.
TAYLOR FLADGATE 20 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT ($70)
Reveals very complex, subtle floral, dried fruit, light caramel and elegant spicy character. Good acidity and mineral grip counter unctuous richness on the long, very complex finish.
TAYLOR FLADGATE 30 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT ($160)
Aromatic floral, mineral, coffee bean and chocolate notes show a subtle increase in intensity and complexity over the 20 year
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Taylor Fladgate’s winemaker, David Guimaraens, became aware of this hidden treasure in 2008. Two casks containing the wine had been stored in a remote wine lodge as the treasured heirloom of a single family. Over the generations the family had steadfastly refused to part with it. Finally, the last surviving family member died and the heirs decided to sell. Taylor Fladgate obtained samples and found that the wine was in perfect condition. Subsequently, it was decided to create an extremely limited edition and release it for sale.
TAYLOR FLADGATE SCION PREPHYLLOXERA TAWNY PORT (OVER 150 YEARS OLD, RELEASED 2010)
I first tasted this immensely rare Tawny Port a couple of years ago at the Port of Wines in Halifax where it was selling for $3,495.99 a bottle. Should anyone be interested, I understand there are still two bottles available for sale. This extraordinary wine was every bit as impressive when re-tasted in its homeland. The colour of old mahogany, the bouquet is immensely complex revealing dried flowers coffee, treacle, mocha, yellow raisins, orange citrus, and ethereal spices together with rich nutty overtones. Unctuously rich and smoothly textured on the palate, exotic dried fruits and flavours of fruitcake, milk chocolate and honey fill the mouth. Enormous sweetness is offset by brisk acidity, leaving a lively impression on the extremely long finish. Notwithstanding its great age, this astonishing wine is, apparently, completely stable. •
CIDER DISTILLED BY MERLE ROSENSTEIN
NOTHING CHASES THE CHILL f rom winter-weary bones like a snifter of brandy. Calvados,a French apple and pear brandy, comes from Normandy and reflects the soil, fruit and distillation methods of three different appellations. Each autumn, apples and pears gathered from the ground are pressed into juice and fermented into cider. The cider is distilled and aged in oak barrels. Aging brings out complexity, adding aromas of vanilla, caramel, toffee and spice. French AOC regulations govern Calvados production, ensuring quality control. Harvest, distillation and aging of brandies must occur within set geographic boundaries. The percentage of local, bitter or bittersweet and sour apple varieties is also specified. AOC Calvados is single-distilled in a column still and aged for at least two years in oak casks. AOC Calvados Domfrontais contains at least 30 per cent Perry pears in its distillate and is aged for at least three years in oak casks. The AOC Calvados Pays d’Auge adds no more than 30 per cent Perry pears before double distilling in an alembic pot-still and aging in oak casks for at least two years. Can’t nip over to Normandy to sample some? No problem. Craft distilleries across Canada create small-batch fruit brandy and eau de vie from homegrown apple varieties. Taste Canada’s take on Calvados made with apples and pears from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and British Columbia.
CIDRERIE MICHEL JODOIN
In 1901, Michel Jodoin’s great-grandfather, Jean-Baptiste, bought an apple orchard at an auction in Rougemont, Quebec. Jodoin was introduced to cider-making by his father and grandfather and enjoys tasting young brandies, selecting the ones that will undergo a longer aging, carefully monitoring their evolution through months and years, and seeing them achieve their full potential.
IRONWORKS’ PIERRE GUEVREMONT AND LYNNE MACKAY
1 1/2 oz Calijo 1 1/2 oz red vermouth 10 ml lemon juice 1 apple slice Lemon zest Combine all the ingredients in a shaker filled with ice cubes. Shake vigorously for 8 to 10 seconds. Strain into a martini glass using an ice strainer and garnish with lemon zest.
marilyn monroe cocktail
3/4 oz Okanagan Spirits Canados 1/2 oz grenadine 4 oz sparkling wine Lemon zest for garnish This was created for Marilyn Monroe in LA upon the completion of her movie Some Like it Hot. Apparently she requested a more ladylike champagne cocktail. Serve in Champagne flute.
2 oz Okanagan Spirits Canados 1/2 oz grenadine 3/4 oz lime juice Apple slice and/or brandied cherry for garnish This is a twist on the classic Jack Rose that is made with Apple Jack, a calvados-like spirit made in upstate New York. Apple Jack was one of the original spirits distilled in North America because of the surplus of apples and the ease of fermentation. This rendition uses the locally produced version of calvados, Canados, by Okanagan Spirits in Vernon. Mix everything together and serve in a short glass with cubed ice.
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Eager to produce a Calvados-like brandy in Canada, Jodoin created an apple brandy called Calijo in 1999. He considers Calijo to be the Quebec version of Calvados because the production process is the same. “Hard cider is distilled into a spirit and the spirit is aged in an oak barrel, but with a Quebec touch,” he explains. “We do not use the same apple varieties here. We use culinary apples not cider apples, have a German still and use American oak barrels,” he confirms. Jodoin uses mainly McIntosh apples to make a hard cider with approximately six per cent alcohol. The cider is distilled in a German still preserving and concentrating the delicate apple aroma. The spirit, approximately 70 per cent alcohol, is aged for a minimum of three years in American oak barrels. As Jodoin explains, “Here we have no regulations. In France in each region you have to use a certain type of still and a certain type of barrel. Here we have no laws so we can choose what would make it best.” Jodoin says he gets satisfaction from tasting, assembling barrels and crafting each batch of Calijo, just like one would create a perfume. During the aging process, the brandies are tasted regularly. To produce one batch of Calijo, a minimum of three barrels, new and old, with different toasting levels, are assembled. Mixing different types of barrels is essential for a more complex product. Water is added to reduce the alcohol to approximately 43 per cent. The Calijo is cold filtered to remove haze and impurities, and the percentage of alcohol is adjusted to exactly 40 per cent just before bottling. The long aging process imparts a copper tinge and aromas of wood, vanilla and burnt caramel. The palate is mellow with a soft, lingering apple aftertaste finish. Jodoin attributes the unique taste of Calijo to the terroir of Rougemont, the earth, the land, the weather, the methods used for fermentation and the use of a German still to make the very delicate spirits.
Okanagan Spirits, a craft distillery with locations in Vernon and Kelowna, BC, was awarded World Class Distillery of the Year for 2013 by the World Spirits organization based in Klagenfurt Austria, and a silver medal for an eau de vie called Canados. Manager of Sales and Marketing Rodney Goodchild confirmed the distillery started making eau de vie 10 years ago when the former owner identified a glut of culled fruit within the Okanagan Valley. Being from Germany he was very aware of eau de vie and schnapps and noticed nobody was making these in BC. As Goodchild says, “Okanagan’s eau de vies use 100 per cent BC fruit with no added sugar, colouring or flavouring. We ferment and distill our fruit on site. The only ingredient we use would be the fruit that goes into the bottle.” One of Okanagan’s most popular eaux de vie, Canados, is a play on the word Calvados. “We distill Hyslop crab apples then barrel-age these in French oak for approximately 18 months,” explains Goodchild. “Traditionally eau de vie is a digestif enjoyed after a meal. However there are many chefs and creative-minded cooks that include eau de vie within the meal — whether it is a maceration of meats or included in a dessert.” Canados delivers lively flavours of exotic fruit and cinnamon with hints of vanilla.
Guevremont carefully select McIntosh, Liberty, Honeycrisp and Cortland apples grown in the Annapolis Valley for their apple brandy. Fermented fruit is distilled twice in a German still and aged in American or Hungarian white oak barrels. When asked how her methods compare to those used for Calvados, MacKay replied, “The Calvados people insist that you allow the fruit to ferment using whatever wild yeasts are in the air. I subscribe more to the German method. Pierre and I use a wonderful German champagne yeast to get our fermentations going.”
Established in 1991 by Werner and Roswitha Rosswog, Rosswog Farm Distillery, now named Winegarden Estate, was the first to make fruit wine in Atlantic Canada. In the 1860s, great-grandfather Johann Ziegler Sr was granted the right to distill fruit by the Grand Duke of the Province of Baden, Germany and created Black Forest specialties. The Rosswogs immigrated to Baie Verte, New Brunswick in 1983 and brought their well-guarded recipes with them. The couple noticed the absence of New Brunswick wine or spirits and an overproduction of fruit. Their first product, Johnny Ziegler Apple Schnapps, a dry, Black-Forest style, was released in 1992. Company president Elke Muessle says that of all of Winegarden Estate’s products, Johnny Ziegler Apple Schnapps most resembles Calvados. Muessle explains that, “When you make spirits, each country has a specialty. In Germany in the Baden Region, if a spirit is distilled from fruit, we call it schnapps. When you cross over the Rhine and go to the Alsace region they make a Calvados. It’s still the same product but it’s named differently.” Muessle also highlighted the differences between Calvados and apple schnapps: “It’s the same process of distilling apples except in France they call it Calvados. The raw materials and the technique the distiller is using, the stills being used, these are different.”
Lynne MacKay, co-owner of Ironworks Distillery in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, enjoys the “adventure of each batch.” As she says, “Nothing is ever exactly the same. We are the antithesis of mass production and that suits us well.” She and co-owner Pierre
PETER VON HAHN, OKANAGAN SPIRITS SENIOR DISTILLER
MacKay and Guevremont also barrel aged a pear eau de vie made from Bartlett and Clapp’s Favourite pears. As MacKay explains, “We have a pear eau de vie, a lovely un-aged pear spirit that we do every year. And this year for the first time we actually aged it because we had a barrel that was vacant.” MacKay was pleased with the enhancement to one of her favourite products. “It’s funny because I love the pear eau de vie. And yet the barrel aging has given it a whole other dimension that I never imagined. It’s almost given it kind of a buttery edge that’s really lovely,” she says proudly. Ironwork’s apple brandy has elements of toffee and baked pie. MacKay acknowledges that she and Guevremont are purists and prefer to savour it neat at room temperature, served in a small glass. She recommends that the pear eau de vie be consumed with fresh fruit like strawberries or pears, or fine sharp cheese. Calvados can be served as an aperitif, blended in cocktails, downed after dinner as a digestif, or consumed with coffee. This winter, consider Calvados’ Canadian cousins for a distinctly different taste. •
“THE EMERGENCE OF NAS IS NO PHENOMENON.” ARTHUR WINNING, MANAGING DIRECTOR, JAMES MACARTHUR & CO LTD.
“NAS [IS] A FAIRLY MODERN DEVELOPMENT…” RUARAIDH MACINTYRE, BRAND AMBASSADOR, GLENMORANGIE AND ARDBEG SINGLE MALTS THERE’S NOTHINGlike a bit of controversy to capture attention. Particularly when it comes from within the same industry. The biggest, most recent dust-up amongst the denizens of Scotch-whisky-geekland (a strange, mysterious place populated by strange, mysterious and possibly slightly drunk alco-nerds) centres on NAS bottlings. “NAS” stands for No Age Statement, and it refers to whiskies that, as the moniker suggests, bear no indication of the minimum age of the spirit blended in the bottle. In short, no 10, 12, 15, 18, 25, 30, pre-dawn-of-time, designations. It’s a trend (if, in fact, it is a trend — we’ll get to that) that’s got the Scotchisphere abuzz, with some going as far as to claim it’s nothing more than a cash-grab by greedy distillers attempting to cash in on a worldwide surge in interest in Scotch whisky. So what gives? Most “blended” Scotches (that combine single malt with grain whisky) typically don’t carry an age statement, so they’ve managed to avoid being caught in the NAS maelstrom. Single malts, the pot-distilled malted barley products of a single distillery, however, are practically always associated with whiskies of a certain age. The slow disappearance of age-statement single malts and the increasing presence of NAS versions beg a few questions. The first being, why is this happening? The second, should Scotch lovers be concerned, and third, as a subset of the second, are age-statement single malts necessarily better than NAS versions? To the first question: even if you’re not an economics major, you’ve probably heard of this thing called “the law of supply and demand.” In a nutshell, if supply is high and demand is low, the supplier has a problem. If the demand is high and the supply is low, the consumer has a problem. But to some extent, so does the supplier. “Scotch whisky has long been lauded around the world,” affirms Ruaraidh MacIntyre, Brand Ambassador, Glenmorangie and Ardbeg
32 // December 2013/January 2014
Single Malt, “but this appreciation ebbs and flows. Some things in vogue at the moment are unpopular a decade later, and some things that are unappreciated today will be fought over for incredible amounts of money in 30 years’ time.” MacIntyre’s comment sets the stage for the supply/demand drama. Whisky expert and author Davin de Kergommeaux fleshes things out: “We take it for granted that older is better,” he argues. “However, to a large extent this is because marketing people have been telling us this for years. There is a reason for that. Back in the 1980s you could barely give Scotch away. This was the era of the whisky lake (whisky loch in Scotland). People were switching to vodka and whisky sales plummeted. Many Scottish distilleries went out of business. Full warehouses stayed full and the whisky in the barrels did what it is wont to do — continued to develop (age). Marketing people found themselves with older and older whisky on their hands and so began the era of “older is better.” Some whisky reaches its peak at a certain age and then begins to decline. Scotch that is over-aged is often blended away in younger bottlings, so a 10-year-old may well have some 30-year-old whisky in it.” Exacerbating the situation was the fact that many distillers were reluctant to contribute to their own overstock by laying down more whisky for aging. Flash forward a few decades and we have quite a different market. There has been a resurgence in the popularity of brown spirits, and the demand for single malt in particular has risen dramatically. Suddenly (more or less), oversupply has turned into a shortage, with older bottlings becoming rarer, becoming collector’s items, or disappearing altogether. Whiskies bearing younger age statements are coming on stream, as are whiskies bearing No Age Statement at all (NAS). However, according to some, this has happened before and will no doubt happen again.
BY TOD STEWART
LAPHROAIG QUARTER CASK (48% ABV, $70) This is a “double matured” as opposed to a “cask finished” dram. The difference, in the eyes of Distillery Manager John Campbell, is that a double maturation “completely changes the flavour of the original whisky,” the “original,” in this case, being Laphroaig 10 Year Old. Peat smoke, lemon oil, kelp, brine, mild iodine and cocoa all feature in the aroma of this assertive dram, along with hints of toasted barley and nuts. Warm and smoky in the mouth with traces of buckwheat honey and a very long, peat-tinged finish. Assertive yet balanced and harmonious.
THE GLENROTHES SELECT RESERVE (43% ABV, $62) The Glenrothes was a pioneer in the NAS single malt market, releasing its Select Reserve some 10 years ago. A classic Highland nose of citrus, barley, clove, honey, wood polish and mocha gives way to a round, silky palate that offers up flavours of citrus jam, baking spices, wheat cracker and vanilla. An excellent introduction to the classy whiskies of this distillery.
“The emergence of NAS is no phenomenon,” asserts Arthur Winning, Managing Director, James MacArthur & Co Ltd, an independent malt whisky bottler (for more on independent bottlers, visit www.quench.me/thirst/independent-whisky/). Though he’s addressing the challenges faced by others in businesses similar to his own, he could be speaking for many distillers as well. “When bottlers run short on aged stock, they revert to NAS or lower ages to keep the products flowing. Stocks of single malts are increasingly difficult to find, as existing stocks dry up, either due to use or holders not prepared to sell. If you can’t replace a product, then you hold on to it to bottle or get a better price. This is just a norm in any short market. Majors are using up a lot of malt whisky and independents are going to find it increasingly difficult to source product, until larger filling years come on stream and that could be some time away.” (As an interesting aside, Ronnie Cox, Brand Heritage Director for The Glenrothes, notes that, in fact, age-dated Scotch is a more recent development than NAS versions and emerged thanks to the single malt industry. “In the 1960s, when blended Scotch whisky represented 99 per cent of all Scotch exports, there were no age statements on the bottles,” he recounts. The age statement is relatively new to Scotch whisky and was introduced by one product to steal a march on another.”)
34 // December 2013/January 2014
HIGHLAND PARK 10 YEAR OLD (40% ABV, $60) The newest addition to the venerable Highland Park stable. Lighter in style overall than its immediate family members, it nonetheless comes through with all the aroma and taste components that distinguish the HP range. A whiff of smoke, ginger, lemon zest, heather, cereal, beeswax and vanilla all make their aromatic mark. Mild peat, citrus, bread dough, caramel, toffee and wild herbs blend together in the flavour and finish.
THE MACALLAN 1824 SERIES “AMBER” (40% ABV, $100) The new range of The Macallan 1824 Series malts take their name from their colour and their character (largely) from the type of oak used for their maturation and the length of maturation. The Amber expression boasts notes of pear, apricot, sultana, and dried fruit with a dollop of nutmeg. Fruity ( crisp apple, lemon, marmalade) and spicy (ginger/cinnamon) with lingering traces of oak and a rich, round core.
So rather than an insidious, contrived attempt by distillers to line the pockets of the brass (and possibly shareholders), the emergence of younger age statement single malts and NAS expressions are the direct — and logical — response to marketplace pressure. And it’s a tricky thing for a Scotch distillery to manage. Even a NAS bottling has certain legal aging restrictions. In fact, it can’t even be called “Scotch whisky” unless it has been aged at least three years in barrel, so a distiller has to have some aged stock on hand at all times if it wants to stay in the Scotch business. Cox notes that even though distillers “have learned more about maturation in the last 40 years than [they] have in the last 500,” and that it is likely possible to speed maturation while maintaining quality, “the rules applied to the making of Scotch whisky restrict any thought of rapid aging.” So if this is the reality of the business, should consumers worry that the newer, younger expressions hitting the shelves are in some way inferior to the more traditional age-bearing items? Probably not. Most industry insiders agree that maturity is indeed a significant factor when it comes to quality, but age in and of itself is not a true measure of it. “On the question of age, there is no doubt that a longer period in good wood, bourbon or sherry, will improve your whisky,” Winning maintains. “No age younger whiskies may have character, but [they] need time to develop. Just like us, it should improve with age!” The question, of course, is exactly how much age? “In my personal opinion, a whisky should be matured until it’s ready, but “ready” varies from person to person, with a hopefully large degree of agreement at the point that it is actually bottled,” opines MacIntyre, adding that aging a whisky beyond the “ready” point will often result in a lack of balance and, in the end, a worse product. While it make take some time to undo the lasso that age statements have on the consumer psyche, distillers appear to welcome being free of the constraint. Not having to slavishly adhere to an aging regime means more experimentation is possible. And taking the emphasis off specific ages allows the focus to be placed on things that are likely more crucial to the crafting of a fine dram. “The focus placed on age statements over the past few decades has overshadowed many other crucial elements in whisky making, from the quality of the distillate, to the wood type and quality, to the specific interaction between the two that happens in each cask,” concedes Marc Laverdiere, Canadian Brand Ambassador, The Macallan, Highland Park. In fact, it was probably the introduction of the new The Macallan 1824 Series (NAS) and the corresponding disappearance (in most markets) of the distillery’s iconic indicated age versions that turned the spotlight on the recent NAS situation. “Age is a marketing constraint that in essence restricts using whisky that would otherwise fit the character or style that the whisky maker is aiming towards,” Laverdiere continues. “If absolute age was ‘the’ criteria, we would have accountants make whisky, not craftsmen (and women) with passion and years of experience.”
The reality is this: if a distillery has spent (in some cases) 100 years or more honing its reputation for quality, introducing a new, substandard spirit could end up costing dearly in the long run. Which is why most wouldn’t think of doing it.
“We see the development of Non Age Statement whiskies as an opportunity to innovate and provide consumers with a broader variety of high quality products from our distillery,” says Simon Brooking, Master Ambassador for Islay’s Laphroaig distillery. “Our philosophy is to avoid innovation simply for the sake of innovation and instead learn from the rich tradition of whisky making developed by both the Scotch whisky industry as a whole and our own distillery since 1815.” The Laphroaig Quarter Cask, for instance, was inspired by research done of maturation techniques of the 18th century, a time when whisky was often stored in smaller casks that could be easily moved (to both transport the product to market and possibly avoid detection by duty officers). The Laphroaig Triple Wood took the concept further, with additional aging in oloroso sherry casks. Neither expression sports an age statement. Both are excellent. The same can be said of the Uigeadail, Corryvreckan, and Supernova whiskies from Ardbeg. All are NAS and all have received incredible critical acclaim. It’s worth bearing in mind, as MacIntyre, Cox and others point out, that the art and science of distilling and maturation have increased exponentially over the past few decades. And where age may have been a useful guide to quality in the past, it’s not necessarily the case in the present. So here’s to the new breed. Slainte! •
THE YEAR THAT WAS
THROUGH THE FILTER
INSTAGRAM BY RICK VANSICKLE
I’M SCANNINGthrough my Instagram feed for the year that was in wine, or at least how it was for this one guy. It is a vinous wasteland of too many half-drunk bottles and witty (at least to me) little comments tailored to a Twitter audience of like-minded people. When I am dead and gone, this will be my virtual epitaph, a litany of stained wine bottles interspersed with (not very good) shots of my food, vineyards, other people drinking wine and a handful of family photos that no one in my family really wants on my Instagram feed. Oh, and far too many shots of my hairy legs beside (what else?) a glass of wine while sitting poolside (what the hell was I thinking … I apologize and am right now deleting those photos). When I look back on the feed I can see exactly how I spent my year. It was not always a pretty picture.
36 // December 2013/January 2014
Yes, it’s an Instagram world, for better or worse, a world where you are judged more on the filter you use than the content you are providing. It’s a world where the measure of your relevance is expressed in likes and pithy comments left under your latest snapshot. On the positive side, Instagram, Facebook, your blog, Twitter, Vine, Tumblr, LinkedIn and whatever else you dabble in on social media have replaced hand-written diaries and offer a handy snapshot back on exactly how you wasted your year. For a wine writer, this is a good thing. When you get the call to write the yearend wrap-up, such is the wont of magazine editors (I’m talking to you, Aldo!), all one has to do is cruise through the annals of social media and, poof, it’s all there — the good, the bad and the ugly. So, for the last Tidings edition of the year, I offer you The Year That Was In Wine Through the Filter of Instagram.
Icewine, Niagara Falls and No Love For Jura
KEY CAPTION: “Wow! 93 Riesling Traminer Icewine from Konzelmann. A deal at $89.” (I still have a half bottle of this kicking around.)
KODAK MOMENT (BASED ON MOST LIKES): A shot of Niagara Falls from my hotel window
at the Niagara Icewine Festival (I was later dinged roaming charges after posting that photo, so I hope you enjoyed it).
NO LOVE (BASED ON LEAST LIKES): Do-
maine Rolet Nature du Jura 2009 captioned “There’s something about Jura.” One lousy like just sucks. That’s it, no more Jura photos for you!
TOP WINES CONSUMED: Dominus Napa Valley 1996, Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Dry Riesling 2011, Fielding Estate Lot No. 17 Riesling 2009. GRATUITOUS FOOD SHOT: Black cod soaked
in maple served at Spencer’s At the Waterfront in Burlington.
AWKWARD MOMENT: A disintegrated cork on a magnum of Château Reynella 1996. The wine was pretty tasty though, just a little chunky.
Eccentric, Haywire, Racketeering
KEY CAPTION: “My pre #leafs kicking the #sens butts wine
tonight is from Alsace. Zind does it right.” I’m pretty sure the Sens kicked the Leafs’ butts, but the Zind Humbrecht Riesling was awesome!
KODAK MOMENT: A bottle of Megalomaniac Eccentric 2011 sitting on a rock at the winery. Go figure.
NO LOVE: A bottle shot of Galevan Cotes du Rhone 2010. Zero likes, zero comments. Guess I should have gone No Filter on that one.
TOP WINES CONSUMED: Marchesi di Barolo Cannubi Barolo 1997, Joesph Voillot Volnay Les Fremiets 2009, Haywire The Bub 2011.
GRATUITOUS FOOD SHOT: Raclette made by Hidden Bench owner Harald Thiel.
AWKWARD MOMENT: The original caption for the raclette
photo autocorrected “raclette” to “racketeering” for some odd reason. And when you put the owner’s name alongside racketeering, well, you can imagine the virtual hilarity that ensued. I don’t think the owner was laughing, though. I carefully edit my Instagram captions now and have my lawyer on speed dial.
Getting Corked, Chablis and Equuleus
KEY CAPTION: “7 million @nomacorc corks are made a day here in North Carolina.” That’s right, it’s not all glamour in the wine writing biz. In March I found myself at North America’s largest synthetic cork manufacturing plant in Zebulon, N.C. to learn all about wine bottle closures. Great fried chicken in North Carolina.
KODAK MOMENT: A shot of Château des Charmes’ top wine,
the Equuleus 2010.
NO LOVE: A bottle and glass shot of Camus XO Reserve Cognac. TOP WINES CONSUMED: Heitz Napa Valley Cabernet
Sauvignon 1994, Domaine Costal Chablis “Les Truffieres” 2010, Vineland Estate Chardonnay Reserve 2009.
GRATUITOUS FOOD SHOT: Not one single morsel of food
was snapped on Instgram in the month of March by me. Wow. Just wow.
AWKWARD MOMENT: In the caption about a magnum of Bolla Amarone della Valpolicella Millenium 1995 I called it a “little afternoon delight” … I lied. It wasn’t delightful at all and the more I drank the worse it got. And I still have another magnum to prove it.
Cheese Please, A Big Oops, More Chablis
KEY CAPTION: “There are many reasons NOT to seal wines in a wax topper. This is one of them. What a mess!” The photo shows bits of wax strewn about everywhere on the table after a gigantic struggle with the wax encased cork.
KODAK MOMENT: A photo of a sea of Cabernet Sauvignon while judging the Ontario Wine Awards.
NO LOVE: A shot of Alvento Elige 2004. Sigh. TOP WINES CONSUMED: Patrick Piuze Chablis
Terroir de Courgis 2009, JoieFarm A Noble Blend 2012, King’s Court Wild Blueberry Wine 2010 (and I liked it!)
GRATUITOUS FOOD SHOT: A magnificent
cheese plate from Treadwell Farm to Table at its former location in Port Dalhousie (I MISS YOU!). Its new location is in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
AWKWARD MOMENT: Proudly showing a bottle of 2007 Pillitteri Cabernet Franc with the caption: “Remember this beauty @pellerVQA cab franc @lazza99?” Trouble is, it wasn’t a Peller wine nor was it made by former Peller winemaker Lawrence Buhler. Oops.
38 // December 2013/January 2014
Napa, Hairy Legs, Meat
KEY CAPTION: “Weird. First drink in
Napa Valley is this.” Photo shows a cold glass of Farm To Bottle IPA shortly after arriving in the heart of Napa.
KODAK MOMENT: A shot of Niagara red wines from The Good Earth, Coyote’s Run and Château des Charmes.
NO LOVE: Photo of an empty wine glass. What was I thinking? No wonder wine writers are such easy targets.
TOP WINES CONSUMED: Château
de La Dauphine Fronsac 1989, Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1998, County Cider A Tortured Path Cider.
GRATUITOUS FOOD SHOT: A shot of a juicy steak with the caption: “Ribeye Napa style with 1999 and 2009 @robertmondavi Cabernet Reserve. Yes!”
AWKWARD MOMENT: First hairy leg Nebuchadnezzar, Quincy, Salad
KEY CAPTION: “12 hours later this Niagara
Wismer Vineyard Fox Croft Chard is still a whole lot of awesomeness.”
shot of the year beside a glass of cider with the caption: “A gorgeous evening for a pint of whatever makes you happy.” The pool cover wasn’t even off the pool. Sigh.
KODAK MOMENT: “This 15 litre bottle of
2002 Family Reserve Trivalente @pillitteriwines is happening right now. Happy anniversary.”
NO LOVE: Bottle shot of Inniskillin Pinot Gris
Reserve 2012. Note to self: Don’t post photos at 3 a.m.
TOP WINES CONSUMED: Orofino Beleza 2008 (Okanagan red blend), Bachelder Lowrey Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011, Domaine Crotereau Quincy 2011.
GRATUITOUS FOOD SHOT: A shot of
Graham Rennie’s homemade salad from the patio of his Beamsville Bench home with a bottle of Rennie Vineyards Pinot Noir 2010. Heavenly.
AWKWARD MOMENT: My first Insta-
gram video catches winemaker Thomas Bachelder swearing (I only found out after watching the posted video days later).
Moscato, Cheese, Baby Duck
KEY CAPTION: “Please don’t judge me. I’m sipping a $10 glass of Jacob’s Creek Moscato. #thatsalltheyhavehere #canadianopen” KODAK MOMENT: A shot of Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 (Nova Scotia).
NO LOVE: A shot of Ruffino Modus 2010. TOP WINES CONSUMED: The Old Third Cabernet Franc 2011, West Avenue Heritage Dry Cider, Hinterland Les Etoiles 2010.
GRATUITOUS FOOD SHOT: A plate of Fifth
Town cheese and charcuterie from Prince Edward County served on a paper plate in a non-descript hotel room in the middle of nowhere. Best ever!
AWKWARD MOMENT: Taking a shot at the LCBO
(where, apparently, you are not allowed to take photos) of a discounted magnum of Baby Duck (a yellow sticky note for a label) for sale at $9.95. Caption: “Hard to resist this deal at the #LCBO … but I did.”
Pichon, Venison, Over the Moon
KEY CAPTION: “Enjoying this with my gorgeous sister (and Frank) @ fishsaucekim overlooking Osoyoos Lake #atpeace.” The wine? A bottle of Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac 1989. Killer.
KODAK MOMENT: A shot of my old friend and wine lover Gerry Buchner
at the Willow Park Wines and Spirits store in Calgary. Caption: “Wow! All Bordeaux and Burgundy. #privatewinestores #endthemonopoly”
NO LOVE: A quick video of a deer that came to our hotel patio window in Banff. I honestly thought it would go viral. How wrong I was.
TOP WINES CONSUMED: Salzburger Stiegl Radler (a beer-grapefruit blend that is simply awesome!), Le Clos Jordanne Le Clos Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007 (in magnum), Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1997.
GRATUITOUS FOOD SHOT: I refer you to the deer vid above (relax! Just a joke).
AWKWARD MOMENT: A shot from the gorgeous Miradoro restaurant at Oliver’s Tinhorn Creek winery. I mentioned @andrewmoon in the post. THAT Andrew Moon is an information security professional. @Andrew_Tinhorn is the vineyard manager of Tinhorn Creek. I’m such an idiot. And now some guy in the world with the name Andrew Moon thinks so too.
40 // December 2013/January 2014
Groovy Grüner, Grgich, Pork
KEY CAPTION: “I never tire of the view.”
Taken from the back deck at Flat Rock Cellars in Niagara looking down on the vineyards, one of the most recognizable views in Ontario wine country.
KODAK MOMENT: A shot of Vineland
Estate winemaker Brian Schmidt crouched beside his young Grüner Veltliner vines. He is obviously a “like” magnet.
NO LOVE: Black and white photo of a bottle
of California wine, Grgich Hills wine glass and Napa corkscrew. Caption: “Bit of a California jag going on here. Accidental synchronicity.”
TOP WINES CONSUMED: 2027
Cellars Wismer Vineyard Foxcroft Block Riesling 2012, Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Syrah 2010, Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (great value).
GRATUITOUS FOOD SHOT: A
picture of a whole pig skewered and slow roasting on an open pit fire with the caption: “Good old fashioned pig roast going on @vinelandestate.”
AWKWARD MOMENT: “First Gruner in production in Niagara. @benchwineguy making a small production this year.” It’s NOT the first Grüner Veltline in Niagara. Inniskillin’s Karl Kaiser made some, decades ago. Oops. My bad.
More Jura, Twerking, Gaudy Lights OK, here’s the thing. As I write this for a December deadline, it’s only September, so instead of offering you a bogus look back on the missing three months, I am going to give you some predictions (you can check my Instagram feed at http://instagram.com/rickwine# to see if I was right).
KEY CAPTION: Sometime between October and the end of December I am going to work the word twerking into a wine photo and post it to Instagram. I know; I’m a rebel.
KODAK MOMENT: I’m going to sneak in some shots of a gaudy Christmas light display from an unsuspecting neighbour. It will be liked a lot.
NO LOVE: I’m going to up my Jura intake and live with being ignored. Sorry. TOP WINES CONSUMED: Oh, there is Riesling in the forecast. GRATUITOUS FOOD SHOT: Unfortunately, for you, there will be more … you’ll have to deal with it. AWKWARD MOMENT: Only one sure thing: No more shots of me by the pool with a glass of wine and my hairy legs in the shot. I promise … at least until spring! • quench.me
VORTEX BY TIM PAWSEY
FRESH OFF THE PLANE IN LONDON,and we’re already headed to our first event: a dinner with prominent Cape wineries, all of which are participating in Beautiful South. The two-day mega-tasting is a groundbreaking collaboration between South Africa, Argentina and Chile. For South Africa it’s a return visit, as the Cape has staged a regular major London tasting for a few years now. But it’s the first time that once uneasy neighbours Chile and Argentina have cooperated on such a scale. For any number of reasons, I’m thrilled to be here. Not only because London is the vortex of one of the world’s most dynamic wine markets. But because I’m intrigued — not so much by what sets these prominent New World producers apart but by what brings them together. The South Africans have secured a unique location for their pre-show dinner: in the Soho flat (apartment) once occupied by Karl Marx, now home to a private club above Quo Vadis restaurant. (I’m sure Karl would be thrilled … ) Our hosts PIWOSA — Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa — is a new group that’s been formed to elevate the reputation of the Cape’s wines, much in the same way as Australia’s First Families of Wine, and others. The dining room is compact and the mood convivial. I’d forgotten just how adept the South Africans are at throwing a good party. But there’s something different this time around. The wines we’re tasting tonight are truly a cut above and, as it turns out, a strong indicator of the days to come. It’s tempting to jump on latitude as one obvious shared experience (all the countries’ regions are centred at around 32 degrees south). But that would be far too simplistic. In fact, if anything, one of the similarities that all enjoy is the search for new terroirs that contrast the “original” regions. While some wines bear familiar labels like Stellenbosch and Swartland, others come from emerging contenders such as Hemel-en-Aarde and Elgin. As the night progresses I’m wowed by the likes of Mullineux mineral-toned Chardonnay, Radford Dale’s creamy Chenin Blanc and a savoury edged Pinot Noir from Newton Johnson, to mention but a few. By the looks of it, PIWOSA has plenty to offer.
42 // December 2013/January 2014
The next day, at London’s hallowed Olympia, it’s full on, with the ever-energetic (and ever-texting) British buyers roaming over 300 southern hemisphere producers pouring over 3000 wines. With few exceptions, I’m struck by the quality of the wines across the board, be they from Elqui, Elgin, Cafayate or beyond.
MULLINEUX WHITE 2012, SWARTLAND ($35) An elegantly crafted, astonishingly vibrant, mineral streaked blend of Chenin Blanc (75%), Clairette Blanche (15%) and Viognier (15%) that underscores a more sophisticated approach to the variety in recent years. The flavours are fresh and clean, with the perfect balance of fruit and acidity.
RAATS FAMILY CABERNET FRANC 2010, STELLENBOSCH ($40)
A juicy, mouth-filling mix of spicy black fruit with hints of anise, coffee and pepper notes with a touch of garrigue, wrapped in easy tannins with a polished, lingering end. Or, as Bruwer declares: “The elegance of Burgundy, the spiciness of Rhône and structure of Bordeaux all in one variety!”
NEWTON JOHNSON FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2011, UPPER HEMEL-ENAARDE VALLEY ($40)
Cool climate with maritime influence from the Atlantic. A vibrant but elegant burst of cherry and strawberry wrapped in deliberate but supple tannins with a definite savoury streak with more than a passing nod to Burgundy.
VRIESENHOF KALLISTA 2005, STELLENBOSCH ($32)
French barrique-aged Bordeaux styled blend (37% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Cabernet Franc) packs plummy and cassis toned black fruit wrapped in well evolved, finely balanced tannins with still very vibrant flavours, before a lengthy and elegant finish.
SPRINGFIELD ESTATE LIFE FROM STONE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013, ROBERTSON ($21)
O FOURNIER B CRUX RED BLEND 2008, UCO ($25)
MULDERBOSCH LATE HARVEST SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, STELLENBOSCH ($35)
PULENTA ESTATE XI CABERNET FRANC 2009, LUJAN DE CUYO ($31)
A landmark Sauvignon Blanc grown on an impossibly rocky and ideal site close by the shores of the Breede River. Powerful but focused, with flinty, citrus and mineral notes yielding crisp, clean flavours and keen acidity.
Ripe, tropical and honeyed notes on top precede a pear and peach palate with toasty, buttery oak undertones, from 6 months in barrel, balanced by firm acidity with clean flavours and a lingering close.
Well balanced Tempranillo (60%), Malbec (30%) and Merlot (10%) blend sports earthy hints and red fruit on top, followed by bright crushed red fruits on a structured mid palate with touches of spice and slate underneath.
Classic varietal nose with good fruit expression, followed by a plush and rounded palate wrapped in approachable tannins with savoury and tobacco hints before a generous close.
RADFORD DALE CHENIN BLANC 2010, STELLENBOSCH ($28)
Keen acidity, structure and length make this single vineyard Chenin a standout, with apple and honeyed notes wound up with a superbly precise, mineral finish.
ATARAXIA CHARDONNAY 2012, UPPER HEMEL-EN-AARDE ($35)
Tropical, citrus and mineral toned, gently creamy with focused acidity, a deliberately understated and elegant Burgundian nod from winemaker Kevin Grant, one time groundbreaking winemaker at Hamilton Russell.
JORDAN COBBLERS HILL 2009, STELLENBOSCH ($40) An artful blend of barrel selected Cabernet Sauvignon (58%) and Merlot (42%) that offers mocha and vanilla notes on top followed by a generous blackberry and cassis toned palate underpinned by juicy acidity and well integrated tannins.
BODEGA DEL FIN DEL MUNDO SPECIAL BLEND 2008, PATAGONIA ($25)
Damson and camphor hints with juicy plummy and black fruits on the palate, hints of five-spice and mocha with good structure and approachable tannins through the close.
EL PORVENIR LABORUM CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011, SALTA ($60)
Blackberry and vanilla on the nose with an elegant, medium bodied palate of polished blue and black fruit wrapped in spicy savoury notes, gently chalky tannins and balanced acidity.
GOUGUENHEIM MALBEC RESERVE 2010, TUPUNGATO, UCO ($15)
From a value driven small producer in one of Mendoza’s highest regions; good fruit expression with mocha and red berry fruits on the nose, followed by cherry and chocolate on the mid palate with spice and oak notes on the finish.
EL PORVENIR WINEMAKER MARIANO QUIROGA ADAMO
VINA CHOCALAN RESERVA SYRAH 2011, MAIPO ($19)
Classic meaty, gamey varietal nose (co-fermented with 7% Cab Sauv, 5% Merlot and 3% Viognier), dark cherry and raspberry notes with mid palate spice that builds to a lingering, peppery close.
VIÑA MAQUIS FRANCO 2010, COLCHAGUA ($60) Dynamic Cabernet Franc specialist grows vines at the stony confluence of the Tinguiririca River and Chimbarongo Creek; superb varietal expression with dark berries, brooding palate and a streak of minerality.
DE MARTINO ALTO LOS TOROS SYRAH 2010, ELQUI ($30)
From one of Chile’s most progressive houses, this single vineyard Syrah (with 10% Petite Sirah) is grown on a steep slope in the Elqui Valley, almost 2000 m above sea level. Superb black fruit with spicy pepper and violet notes wrapped in structured tannins and juicy opulence before a long finish.
VIÑA FALERNIA CARMENÈRE RESERVA 2011, ELQUI ($18)
From a high altitude on one of Chile’s northernmost estates; generous cassis aromas followed by spicy mocha and black fruit on a well rounded palate with supple tannins and lengthy end. •
BY ROSEMARY MANTINI
WHAT KIND OF DRINKsets you right after a few hours of skiing on the slopes, sledding or shovelling the driveway? How about a good old hot cocktail, like a Hot Toddy or an Irish coffee? Remember those? You’ve no doubt had one at least once in your life — probably a long time ago. Perhaps you might have even thought that the recipes had been packed away along with the polyester suits and disco balls of the 1970s. Well, get ready. You’ll be seeing a lot more of them soon enough. Warming winter cocktails are making a comeback. I was thinking about them recently. It’s cold in here. My 60-something-year-old house with its thin 1950s-era wall insulation is the antithesis of the modern draft-free home. Huddling under a blanket works, but makes getting stuff done somewhat tricky. Pets make great hand warmers until I find I’m as covered in shed fur as they are. It’s at that desperate point that I realize there’s nothing like a good, hot drink to chase away the chill. I set out to ask two mixologists to tell me a little about what’s hip in the world of warm drinks. Jessica Maria is no stranger to hot cocktails. She concocts tasty libations at the Hotsy Totsy Club in Albany, California. Jason Rager, who knows more about warm cocktails than you’d think possible, lets his creativity loose at AQ Restaurant and Bar in San Francisco, California. I was sure that words like Hot Toddy would be punctuated by quizzical looks, and the question: Oh, you mean that drink my grandmother made for my dad when he was a kid and had a cold? Well … yes, actually. The hot cocktails from that long ago era are still around and have earned themselves a makeover. As Jessica explains, “the standards on all cocktails have been raised so much over the past few years that bars almost have to offer at least one tasty hot beverage on their cocktail list.” She’s gone three better,
44 // December 2013/January 2014
making sure that there are four hot cocktails on the menu during the holiday season: Hot Cider, Hot Buttered Rum, Blue Blazer and Hot Totsy. Interest in warm cocktails isn’t just coming from mixologists. Jason tells me that, year round, patrons have been “asking for something that helps keep a cold from progressing. A little whisky, puréed ginger root, lemon juice and local honey go a long way in helping the throat.” Drinking for health is nothing new. Jessica suggests that “most cocktails were invented to be medicinal, to cure and to fix what was ailing.” The Grog, she says, was the original hot cocktail and is still requested today because, as she’s found, it does indeed “cure what’s ailing ya.” That’s all well and good. But we don’t need hot cocktails as substitutes for medicine anymore. So, why do we like them so much? “People request extra cold Martinis on hot days,” Jason says, “and Irish coffee on cold weekend mornings. We’re creatures that have a fantastic internal gauge for an enjoyable state of being. Sometimes we need a little help adjusting our room temperature!” Cocktails are hot — literally and figuratively, and here we are smack dab in winter party season. You probably have a few favourite cocktails that you can pull together pretty quickly when company drops by. How about adding one or two hot options to your regular roster? Jessica and Jason agree that everyone should know how to make some of the better-known cocktails, like Hot Toddy, Caffè Corretto, Maria Callas, Irish coffee and Hot Cider. If, like me, you haven’t dedicated years to honing your cocktail-making skills, these drinks are for you. There are few rules (Jessica’s tip: dark spirits work best in warm cocktails), so you can let your imagination loose. Have fun with the ingredients and make them your own.
THE HOT TODDY
There are probably as many versions of this cocktail as there are people on Earth. You already own the basic building blocks, so you’re more than ready to create your own signature version. Just mix your favourite spirit (whisky, rum, brandy, etc), lemon, honey and hot water. Done. Now that we’ve got that sorted, there’s the matter of the mysterious name. Where did it come from? While Wikipedia reports that it might be derived from an Indian drink called a Toddy and made from the sap of palm trees, the fact is that no one really knows for sure, and you know what? It really doesn’t matter. Stir one up and contemplate this: “Allan Ramsay, poet,” Jason recounts, “published a work in 1721 called The morning interview, an heroi-comical poem in which he speaks of this amazing drink which is made from water of the Todian Spring. Henceforth, the Toddy is born.”
HOT TOTSY This cocktail is one of Jessica’s favourites. She makes this fun and dramatic version at the Hotsy Totsy Club.
1/4 1/2 1/2 3/4
oz Lemon Hart rum oz Spanish brandy oz lemon juice oz honey syrup 4 oz hot water Spice mix, to taste (cinnamon, cloves and any other spice you like) In a stem glass (a wine glass works) pour in rum and light it on fire. Sprinkle the spice mix over the flame. Add the remaining ingredients and enjoy. Lemon wedge garnish is optional.
BOTTLEGREEN HOT TODDY A cordial is just another word for liqueur. It can be made using fruit or herbs and must contain at least 25% sugar by weight. Cordials lend a nice hint of sweetness to cocktails.
15 ml Bottlegreen ginger & lemongrass cordial 3 wedges of lemon, squeezed 150 ml boiling water 1 cinnamon stick 2 thin slices root ginger 35 ml scotch whisky Lemon zest (optional) Orange zest (optional) Add all ingredients into a mug and let steep for 30 seconds. Squeeze juice from lemon wedges into the mug and drop in one lemon wedge. Stir and garnish with zest of orange peel and lemon rind.
Thanks to Jason for this easy treat. Simply mix equal parts hot espresso and Fernet Branca and serve in an espresso cup.
Another lovely winter warm-up courtesy of Jason and AQ Restaurant and Bar. It’s also a fun variation of Caffè Corretto. Mix equal parts espresso and Fernet Branca. Add a little mint oil to taste. Serve in an espresso cup.
IRISH COFFEE This one definitely deserves to share the stage with all the other ultimate classic cocktails. It’s been enjoyed probably as long as people have been drinking coffee. Best of all, it’s a great canvas for your own creative cocktail-making fun.
1 1/2 oz Irish whiskey 1-2 tsp sugar Hot coffee Half and Half Cream Pour whiskey and sugar into a glass mug. Add coffee to within 1/2 inch of the top. Stir in cream and sugar.
Courtesy of Jessica and the Hotsy Totsy Club, and perfect for a group, start by heating up non-alcoholic apple cider and add whatever you like — spiced rum, whisky, ginger, cloves, allspice, etc. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low. Jessica recommends that you “let the aromas fill your home while guests are arriving, then serve the hot cider in teacups. Garnish as elaborately as you see fit.”
HOT BUTTERED RUM This one is Jason’s favourite. Rum, he says, was hugely popular during the Civil War. “It was consumed in hundreds of ways, but this gem stuck around.”
2 heavy bar spoons of sugar 2 oz rum (Jason likes Clement, a rhum agricole from Martinique. But any decent, not terribly sweet, aged rum will do) 1 bar spoon Nocino 1 tsp butter Mix ingredients together, add hot water to taste. Drink deeply.
SPICED BERRY MOJITO Warming winter cocktails don’t always need to be hot. Sometimes the right amount of spice will do the trick.
50 ml spiced rum 15 ml Bottlegreen spiced berry cordial 8 leaves of ripped mint 5 ml sugar syrup 25 ml fresh lime juice Squeeze lime juice into tall glass; add sugar syrup. Bruise mint leaves, and drop them in. Cover with crushed ice; add remaining ingredients and stir/churn until cold. Add lots more ice and decorate with a sprig of mint.
SPICED BERRY MULLED WINE
1 bottle of dry white or red wine 70 ml Bottlegreen spiced berry cordial 400 ml cloudy apple juice 1 cinnamon stick Peel of half an orange Gently simmer all ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Serve in a glass mug. •
Long before we walked our streets sending text messages to each other, or sat at computers whisking notes and graphic attachments to friends, rellies, and others across town or around the world, some of us had pen pals. Yep, pen pals. It’s a descriptive title, because we actually used pens and ink to write letters, and envelopes to enclose photos and other stuff, which we then snail-mailed — the expression had yet to be invented — to “pals” wherever they might be.
46 // December 2013/January 2014
reich! by DUNCAN HOLMES
There was nothing instantaneous about it. Sometimes exchanges between pals took weeks, or even months. But no matter how long they took, it was genuinely exciting to receive a letter from a pen pal. These letters were not to be cut, pasted or sent to the trash. You held them in your hand and treasured them for a long time because of the amazing things they showed and told. As an inquisitive teenager in South Australia’s wine-growing Barossa Valley, I began a pen pal relationship with a girl of my age who lived on Speckbacherstrasse in far-away Innsbruck, Austria. Amazing that all these years later I can remember a street like that, or that her name was Ilse Heinsle — and that, if we were still pen palling, it would be my turn to write. In those days, when the world was much larger, Innsbruck, nestled beautifully into the Austrian Tyrol in its own world of snow-capped mountain magic, was Mars for me — picture-post-card imagery that I viewed with wonder from the rolling, rural, grape-growing, Down Under Barossa. But through our letters, we learned about much more than each other’s surroundings. We really got to know one another — likes, dislikes, up to and including the food we ate. Does this sound like the texting that was yet to come? While the Barossa had a heavy German base of residents, I was a WASP kid, and knew little, make that knew nothing, of konditoreis, strudels and stollen; of kaffeeklatsches, the beginnings, mains and
sweetest of endings of the meals of the mountain folk of Austria. What, for instance was Tafelspitz? Beef boiled in broth, served with horseradish and/or mustard? Not my cup of tea! We were a lamb and potatoes family, and exotic, old-world, visceral Austria was far removed from our simple Sunday forequarter of toolong-roasted, long-toothed hogget. Ilse and I exchanged black and white pics of our surroundings, but from time to time we also included family recipes, in my case, pilfered from my mum’s collection. Where Ilse got hers, I don’t know. I would like to be able to say that I have kept them for all of those years, but I haven’t, even if I remember the gist of what they were about. Apart from stollen, which I have in my own collection, I had to dig elsewhere for the recipes for this piece, and found all of what I wanted in The New Sacher Cookbook — favourite Austrian recipes from the great Vienna hotel — which I think came either from a second-hand store or a garage sale. (As an aside, I’ve always been charmed by the mysterious handwritten words inside the cover that read in part: “I love you Russ … I’m kissing the smile on your lips.”) In the book, recipes in the German language roll right off the tongue. Like Kaiserschmarren, which are shredded pancakes. Or the Sacher Faschingskrappen, which translates as “Carnival Doughnuts.” And so on. Again, I wish I had kept our recipe exchanges. Ilse and I were pen pals for just a year. I remember that because when our pen palling ended, the dry heat of the Barossa summer was just beginning to tint our apricots a soft orange as we prepared for a Down Under Christmas. One December day the postman, delivering on his bike, stopped at our place, and as was his custom, blew a whistle to let us know there was mail. There was a letter from Speckbacherstrasse, and I ripped it open. On a single sheet of paper, folded twice, the message said simply: “Trauriger Duncan, aber ich ziehe an um. Frohe Weihnachten, Ilse.” Which I understood as “sorry Duncan, I’m moving on. Merry Christmas. Ilse.” Two weeks earlier, because it was also time for me, I had sent a similar message in fractured German to Austria. I won’t go into the details, but our pen pal relationship was over. In the mountain fortresses above Innsbruck, snow was already piling deep on the peaks of Hafelekar, Patscherkofel and Serles. And across the ancient, rolling hills that shouldered the Barossa Valley, a dust-filled wind was blowing prickly heat from the arid north. For both of us, pals now only a memory, Christmas was soon to come.
You could make ‘scratch’ pastry for your strudel, but my choice is to use storebought puff pastry.
1.5 kg apples (Granny Smith work well) Juice from one lemon 60 g raisins soaked in rum 200 g melted butter 100 g sugar
2 tbsp vanilla sugar 100 g breadcrumbs Pinch of cinnamon Butter for daubing Icing sugar for dusting 1 egg for daubing
1. Peel and seed the apples. Slice very thin and dribble with lemon juice. In a bowl, combine 2 tbsp raisins and 1 tbsp vanilla sugar.
2. Brush the pastry dough with half of the melted butter, using the rest of
the butter to fry the breadcrumbs. Combine the crumbs with the rest of the vanilla sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the pastry. 3. Distribute the apples evenly over the pastry. Roll with the help of a dishtowel. Make sure the ends are well closed. Place the strudel on a greased baking tray. 4. Brush with the beaten egg and bake in a preheated oven at 350˚F for 30 to 40 minutes, occasionally brushing with melted butter. 5. When done, let the strudel cool, and dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or cold.
Simple, elegant, and not a lot to do with hot dogs, even if the names for both came from Vienna. This is a big recipe. Adjust to the dinner youâ€™re doing. And a further note: I sometimes substitute with chicken breast sliced laterally and flattened further with a rolling pin. Panko crumbs also work well.
8 4 200 100
veal cutlets, about 90 g each eggs g fine breadcrumbs g flour
300 ml butter 100 ml vegetable oil Salt, lemon and fried parsley for garnish
1. Tenderize the veal to about 2 to 4 mm, and salt on both sides. On a flat plate, stir the eggs briefly with a fork.
2. Salt the cutlets, then coat in flour dip into the egg, and coat in breadcrumbs. Heat
the butter and oil in a large pan (allow the fat to get very hot) and fry the schnitzels until golden brown on both sides. Make sure to toss the pan regularly so that the schnitzels are surrounded by oil and the crumbing becomes fluffy. 3. Remove and drain on parchment paper. Fry the parsley in the remaining oil and drain. 4. Place the schnitzels on warmed plate and served garnished with parsley and slices of lemon.
48 // December 2013/January 2014
LEN Don’t be scared. It’s wonderful to present this for dessert and say it’s a recipe you got from Mozart’s mother, or stole from a cook in a place in the high Alps or ... pick your own story.
1 ⅔ cups flour 1 ½ tsp baking powder ½ tsp crushed cardamom ¼ tsp nutmeg ⅛ tsp salt 1 egg ¼ tsp vanilla
½ cup plus 2 tbsp cottage cheese 6 tbsp soft butter 6 tbsp ground almonds ¼ cup currants 2 tbsp lemon peel ¼ tsp almond flavouring
1. Place all ingredients into bowl. Drop egg into centre and mix by hand.
Vegetables like turnips, parsnips and squash come into their own as winter closes in on us. Time to put them all together with some spuds and stock to make warming soup. Waltz around the dinner table to some Strauss!
1 ½ litres beef stock 300 g potatoes 100 g fresh mushrooms 50 g bacon 50 g onion, chopped 120 g vegetables like carrots, parsnips, turnips
2. Roll to 8” x 10” then fold over to make a 4” x 6” rectangle.
3. Bake at 325˚F for 45 minutes. Glaze while
hot with 3 tbsp icing sugar blended with 1 tbsp soft butter. •
4 tbsp butter 1 tbsp flour 125 ml cream 1 tbay leaf, marjoram, caraway seeds, ground 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed Ground pepper, salt, white wine, chives
1. Cut the potatoes and vegetables into 1 cm cubes and divide in a ratio of 1:2. Cut the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces.
2. In a casserole dish, heat the butter and sauté the chopped
onions. Add about a third of the vegetables, the potatoes, the mushroom stems and sauté. Dust with flour and add a splash of white wine. 3. Pour in about 1 1/4 litres of the stock and stir. Bring to a boil and season with marjoram, bay leaf, caraway seeds, garlic, ground pepper and salt. 4. Simmer for about 10 minutes then remove the bay leaf. Purée the soup and strain. Add the rest of the vegetables and potatoes to the remaining beef stock and steam for 10 to 15 minutes until soft. 5. In a pan, fry the chopped bacon and mushroom caps. To the soup, now add the mushrooms, steamed vegetables and potatoes. 6. Stir in the cream and bring to a brief boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish bowls with chopped chives.
the mav notes\\ 92 ROSEWOOD ESTATES MERLOT RESERVE NATURAL FERMENTATION 2010, TWENTY MILE BENCH, ONTARIO ($36) 92 CLOSSON CHASE S KOCSIS VINEIn a blind tasting, I would YARD CHARDONNAY 2010, BEAMSVILLE BENCH, NIAGARA ($35) call this wine a top St-Émilion, what with all its chocolate-covered coffee bean, plum, cinnamon, violets, anise, black cherry and smoke. Encapsulating the tannins is the fabulous richness. This beauty will reach its peak around 2016 and drink well until 2022. It is a steal for the price. (ES)
Closson Chase is primarily a Prince Edward County wine producer but does make a couple of wines, including this one, from purchased Niagara fruit. It is a spectacular wine with ripe poached pear fruit, pineapple and summer peach to go with opulent spice and butter notes. You get the full weight of the warm vintage here on the palate with lush fruit, caramel, toffee, oak-vanilla and a buttery-toasted note through the finish. There’s enough acid to provide lift and longevity for a few years. A big, showy Chard that will knock your socks off. (RV)
91 Hugh Hamilton Shiraz/Viognier ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ 2010, McLaren Vale, Australia ($40)
Dense and dark with lots of intense flavour, but still elegant, with blackberry, black cherry, spice and a distinctive note of floral peach from the Viognier. Finishes with liquorice and pepper that lasts and lasts against vibrant acidity and fine tannins. (GB)
89 IRONSTONE OBSESSION SYMPHONY 2012, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES ($15) The Symphony grape is a cross of Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris. Pale straw in colour with an aromatic, spicy Muscat-like nose; off-dry, grapey flavour of orange and cardamom; easy drinking, light on the palate with a faint spritz. Best with Asian dishes. (TA)
90 Cornellana Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Cachapoal Valley, Chile ($8.83)
Light lemon-yellow. Aggressive, even pungent nose of gooseberry and kiwi fruit. Surprisingly full-bodied, it has rich lemony flavours with an accent of grapefruit and dry minerality on the finish. Extreme value. Drink right away. (RL)*
91 La Braccesca Bramasole 2007, Cortona, Tuscany, Italy ($37.50)
Cortona is small region east of Montepulciano that deserves some attention. This blend of Syrah (90%) plus Merlot and Sangiovese has a lot to offer. Black fruits, vanilla and toasted notes fill the glass. Intense and generous in the mouth, it is ripe and almost thick. Quite powerful, but not excessively so and very satisfying. (GBQc)
92 Faustino Selección de Familia 2008, DOC Rioja, Spain ($13.50)
From a venerable Rioja house, this is their entry-level wine, but a remarkable value at the price. Medium-deep garnet, it has a complex and mature nose of milk chocolate, strawberry jam and deeper wood aromas with a hint of acetone. On the palate it is medium-bodied with high acidity and prominent alcohol. The red currant, cranberry and cherry fruits are starting to fade — this is made for early drinking. (RL)*
50 // December 2013/January 2014
MATTER OF TASTE
BY SHEILA SWERLING-PURITT
THERE IS SOMETHINGso civilized about sipping sherry — yes, sipping, not quaffing. Once the darling of elderly ladies who enjoyed the sweeter types, sherry is now having a renaissance thanks to the championing of sommeliers and mixologists. Of course, it helps that there is a huge focus on the gastronomy of Mexico and Spanish tapas. So if you wish to appear au courant — with a side of sophistication — offer some sherry cocktails along with those holiday canapés. Sherry is a fortified wine made primarily from the Palomino grapes grown in the southwestern part of Spain. The Sherry Triangle is located between Sanlúcar de Barrameda, El Puerto de Santa Maria and the town of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia. This area receives more rainfall than most other parts of southern Spain. The albariza soils consist of chalk, limestone, clay and sand and bake into a hard crust, trapping the moisture the vines need. The complex arrangement of barrels (American oak butts), where the wine is moved from one layer to another during its maturation, is called the solera system. This helps the aging and also maintains a consistent house style. Sherry runs the gamut from very dry to sultana-sweet. Best served chilled. (Please forget about using the low-quality cooking versions!) FINOis light and very dry. Hot almonds with cold Fino is the perfect marriage. I also love it with gazpacho. MANZANILLAcomes from Sanlúcar de Barrameda and has characteristics which differentiate it from all other styles. This was the perfect match for some of the best seafood I have ever tasted. I serve Manzanilla all the time with shrimp in a garlic sauce. (If you are interested in obtaining my recipe, just ask me for it.) AMONTILLADOis first aged under the flor, which develops and then is exposed to oxygen. Goes really well with chicken and mushroom risotto. OLOROSAis dark and rich. Pair with aged Manchego cheese and fresh pears. PALO CORTADOdevelops a character close to Oloroso and is a natural with lamb seasoned with smoked paprika. CREAMis slighty sweet and a Canadian favourite. Goes well with foie gras and creamy cheeses. PEDRO XIMÉNEZ (PX)uses grapes that are dried in the sun to concentrate their sugars. A perfect match for fruitcake, chocolate or dried fruits, or drizzle over ice cream.
Sherry should be served at 57˚F and sipped from a simple tulip-shaped white wine glass. Forget about storing the bottle on its side. I was told the high alcohol will eventually break down the cork. I tend to look for the half-bottle sizes, especially in dry varieties, since they don’t keep long after opening, even if refrigerated.
TIO PEPE FINO ($15.90) Very dry and light on the palate.
LA GITANA MANZANILLA ($13.95) Dry, crisp, tangy finish.
OSBORNE SANTA MARIA CREAM SHERRY ($11.95)
Full-bodied; sweet notes of figs and caramel mingled with a touch of oak.
OSBORNE PEDRO XIMÉNEZ ($17.95) Luxcious, sweet and velvety. •
EVERYONE KNOWS THAT I LOVE BUBBLES. And I love them any time of year. New Year’s Eve just wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without the requisite pop of the cork at midnight. And as much as I love bubbles, I really love rosé sparkling wines. It just seems that they possess even more depth, layers of flavours and an exotic quality and, to some extent, they are even more festive. Most rosé sparkling wines tend to hold true to using the predominate red grapes used to make true Champagne, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with the former being the most common. Rosé wines are generally made by minimizing the skin contact of red grapes with the juice (whether by bleeding, limited maceration or runoff ), but in some instances, red wine is blended with white to achieve the result. There are many things to celebrate this holiday season, but it also marks the end of an era. After four decades, Tidings will be reborn as Quench. The magazine set a standard for longevity and providing Canadian consumers with fresh and accessible insights into the world of wine and food, particularly over the past decade. As many magazines have ceased operations, Tidings seemed to get stronger,
52 // December 2013/January 2014
BY GURVINDER BHATIA
growing in content, size and readership. Yes, we have great writers, but much of the magazine’s success is due to our readers, who have championed a refreshing, nonchalant passion for wine and food, absent of any pretense. But while an era may be ending, an even more exciting one is about to begin. The evolution of Tidings to Quench seems natural. It represents the significant roles wine and food play in our everyday lives. It represents the cultural shift in North America to quality versus quantity with respect to what and how we consume. It represents both the globalization of the culinary world and how food makes the world smaller by helping us understand other cultures through what and how they/we eat and drink. I’m excited about Quench because the name better represents what we are about. Not only will we aim to quench your thirst and your appetite for great food and drink, but more importantly, we’ll inspire you to experience and share in our professional yet casual, irreverent yet respectful, serious (rarely) yet light-hearted way. So let’s raise a glass to 40-plus great years, but also to new beginnings. It’s going to be an exciting year.
VEUVE A DEVAUX ‘D’ ROSÉ BRUT NV, BAR-SUR-SEINE, FRANCE ($92) Refined and elegant with aromas and flavours of raspberry, cherry and liquorice; floral notes; somewhat exotic, bright acidity and a delicate finish. Very enjoyable to sip on, but would pair well with scallop tartare.
MOËT & CHANDON ROSÉ BRUT IMPERIAL NV, ÉPERNAY, FRANCE ($78)
Really well-balanced with complex aromas and flavours of cherry and blackberry and a yeasty breadiness. Full with a firm underlying structure while still maintaining bright acidity, and a long mineral finish. Would hold up to a grilled rib-eye.
RUGGERI ROSÉ DI PINOT BRUT NV, VENETO, ITALY ($26.99)
A medium-weight, flavourful rosé bubbly with fresh raspberry and strawberry flavours, lively texture and crisp acidity on the finish. Ideal as an aperitif, but very versatile in pairing with anything from smoked salmon to arancini to shrimp pakoras.
VEUVE CLICQUOT ROSÉ BRUT NV, REIMS, FRANCE ($85)
A very pretty shade of rose with lovely floral and fresh baked-bread aromas, very rich and textured showing complex flavours of black cherry, stone fruit, brioche and toasted nuts. Vibrant and bold, but still elegant and refined. Perfect for toasting a special occasion, but you could create a meal around this.
BERNARD-MASSARD CUVÉE DE L’ECUSSON PINOT NOIR BRUT ROSÉ NV, LUXEMBOURG ($24)
Pretty pink strawberry-cherry colour with aromas of strawberry, cherry and raspberry. Delicate but full flavours with a hint of biscuit and a savoury quality that adds complexity. Great with rare meat or salmon dishes. An excellent value from a region we don’t hear much of, but is producing some very interesting wines.
HENRY OF PELHAM ROSÉ BRUT CUVÉE CATHARINE NV, NIAGARA ($45) A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
showing wonderful complexity on the nose with aromas and flavours of baked bread, apple pie, raspberry, strawberry, and rhubarb with a pleasant edginess, lively full bubbles and a long length. A great example of why Canadian wineries should be producing even more sparkling wine.
PIPER-HEIDSIECK ROSÉ SAUVAGE BRUT NV, REIMS, FRANCE ($72)
Full bodied, concentrated and vibrant with aromas and flavours of black cherry, plum, blackberry, toasted brioche, spice and a touch of nuttiness. A lovely creamy texture and great balance with a bright, mouth-watering, lingering finish.
BILLECART-SALMON BRUT ROSÉ NV, MAREUIL-SUR-AY, FRANCE ($125)
Full-flavoured and intense, yet still elegant with bright aromas and flavours of blackcurrant, black cherry, raspberry and citrus peel. Hints of dried fruits, toast and liquorice; a creamy, full texture, vibrant acidity and rich, long, mouth-watering finish that begs another taste. •
//the food notes 88 CAVE VINICOLE DE HUNAWIHR EDELZWICKER 2011, AC ALSACE, FRANCE ($12.50)
Often a “what’s left over” blend, this more sophisticated version of Edelzwicker contains Pinot Blanc, Muscat, Riesling and Pinot Gris. Pale silvery-yellow, it has an appealing grapey nose of peaches and pineapple. Medium-bodied, it tastes of pears and citrus, especially lemon. Have it with smoked trout for the Riesling, goose fat–fried potatoes for the Pinot Gris, and sweet corn-onthe-cob for the Pinot Blanc. (RL)*
93 Inniskillin Riesling Icewine 2011, Okanagan ($60/375 ml)
90 BARTIER BROS SYRAH ‘CERQUEIRA VINEYARD’ 2011, OKANAGAN ($36)
Juicy, bright and full, yet still very elegant and fresh with blackberry and mineral aromas and flavours, pepper, meat and black olive, and firm but supple tannins. Lovely full texture balanced with great finesse, focus, depth and charm and a refreshing finish. Perfect with steak au poivre. (GB)
Hand-harvested from the South Okanagan’s Whitetail Vineyard in the freezing-cold early hours of January 12, 2012. It delivers the Icewine promise: intense tropical fruit aromatics, exploding honeyed orchard-fruit flavours, long spicy finish and an unctuous sweetness brightened by lemony acidity. An exciting dessert choice for a holiday-time brunch. (HH)
91 JoieFarm En Famille Pinot Noir Reserve 2011, Okanagan ($30)
A robust and energetic Pinot with juicy cherry fruits, currants, earthy-underbrush and savoury spice notes on the nose. It is assertive on the palate with bold flavours of cherry-raspberry mingling with dark fruits, oak spices, meaty-earthy notes and evident tannic structure. Built to age or to enjoy now with duck, smoked pork or cedar-plank wild-caught salmon. (RV)
88 Seven Stones Speaking Rock Row 128 Merlot 2010, Similkameen Valley, BC ($30)
Incorporates 17 months of serious American and French oak aging. Smoky cigar box and black fruits strike the nose. Blackcurrant and black cherry fill the mouth. The plush texture and fine-grained tannins will appeal to Merlot fans. Lingering olive and mint finish. Pair with marinated meat dishes. (HH)
91 Umani Ronchi Pelago 2008, Marche Rosso IGT, Italy ($45.99)
Darkly coloured intensity in the glass accurately forecasts the depth and richness of this powerful, complex wine. Developed vinosity on the nose reveals integrated fine dark fruit with an elegant dusting of cinnamon and clove together with a subtle hint of wood. Thickly concentrated dark plum, blackberry and bitter cherry flavours come packaged in a firm, dry tannic structure. Has plenty of room for development over the next 3 to 5 years. (SW)
54 // December 2013/January 2014
87 LIBERTY SCHOOL CHARDONNAY 2011, CENTRAL COAST, UNITED STATES ($18.95) This is a relatively oaky Chard, but not overdone. The cream, vanilla and spice of the wood meet up with pineapple, banana, Golden Delicious apple and citrus of the grape. The palate is creamy, with lowish acidity and just a dash of residual sugar. This is tailor-made for parties, get-togethers or simply for sipping. (ES)
EVERY YEARI tell myself I’m going to simplify Christmas, yet every year I find myself running around like an idiot on Christmas Eve, trying to find those briny green Castelvetrano olives or that California Petite Sirah with the elephants that will absolutely make or break my Christmas feast. The week leading up to Christmas is always an exhausting fight to the finish line. Last year, four days before the big day, my granddaughter Paige, age 10 at the time, announced that her life would be in ruins if she didn’t get a carnival claw machine. (Google “carnival claw machine” if you’re not sure what it is.) Mind you, her parents could have easily purchased the item when Paige first spied it in the seasonal toy section of the corner drugstore. But, noooooo, that would have been way too easy. The general consensus was to wait until all the stock was gone and then give the task to Grandma, because after all, Grandma would be out shopping like an idiot anyway, looking for those elusive olives. After a frantic race to every drugstore and toy store within a 100-mile radius, I hunched over the computer to find the claw machine online. It was twice the drugstore price and three times its worth in overnight shipping charges, but my sweet little Paige was thrilled when she unwrapped her grandma-gift. I’d love to say this was a happily-ever-after story, but Paige confessed a few months later that the claw machine’s ridiculous circus music had so irritated her family that she had been compelled to tag it for the fam’s next garage sale. Thank goodness I had given her 50 or 60 other Christmas gifts to compensate. This is why I’m thinking about the week leading up to Christmas. It’s always a mad dash through a dizzying maze of
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BY NANCY JOHNSON
malls and chores. No matter how healthfully we eat all year long, in the week before Christmas we live on takeout pizzas, Swiss Chalet and fast food. I have a better plan, and I’d like to share it: quick, easy dishes that satisfy the soul and nurture the body. Try a few and relax. Unless of course you have to find a claw machine for your grandchild, in which case I say, with all due respect, check out my son’s next garage sale ... and please, one and all, have a very Merry Christmas.
POLENTA SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE As a kid, I hated polenta. It was something my Italian dad liked, causing me to suffer (and not in silence) through polenta dinners and fried polenta breakfasts. However, after learning to make polenta at George Brown, I came to appreciate it. You could make this dish with homemade polenta, but prepared is the way to go when you’re busy with Christmas lights and the tree.
1 1 1 1 1
roll prepared polenta bag mixed greens salad red pepper, seeded and diced tomato, seeded and diced cup crumbled goat cheese
1. Coat a grill pan with cooking spray. Slice polenta into 8
pieces. Saute over medium-high heat on cast-iron grill pan until heated through and laced with grill marks. 2. Divide salad among 4 plates. Add 2 slices polenta. Scatter red pepper, tomato and goat cheese over polenta. Drizzle with Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette (see next page).
GRAINY MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE I love this vinaigrette and make it often. I used to make it with Pommery Moutarde de Meaux until it got so ridiculously expensive that it cost more than my car. Now I use the best-quality grainy mustard I can afford.
tbsp balsamic vinegar tbsp grainy mustard 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil Kosher salt, to taste
In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar and mustard. Whisk in the oil. Season with salt. …… A crisp Pinot Grigio would go quite well with the salad.
SMOKED SALMON AND EGG SALAD PLATTER WITH CHIVE BUTTER SERVES 4
Make the egg salad and chive butter before leaving for the mall to shop. Toast the bread when you return. Everything comes together quickly from there.
4 2 1
eggs tbsp mayonnaise tsp sweet pickle relish
1. Place eggs in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a
boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let eggs sit for 15 minutes. Run cold water over eggs. Peel. 2. In a medium bowl, mash eggs with a handheld potato masher or fork. Stir in mayonnaise and pickle relish. Season with paprika, salt and pepper.
cup butter, at room temperature tbsp fresh chives, finely snipped tsp lemon juice tsp pepper
In a food processor, combine butter, chives, lemon juice and pepper. Place chive butter in a ramekin. Refrigerate. Let butter come to room temperature before serving. Red leaf lettuce 1 package sliced smoked salmon 1 red onion, minced Grapes and other fruit Pumpernickel bread, toasted and sliced into triangles
Cover large platter with red leaf lettuce. Roll salmon slices into rosettes. Using an ice cream scoop, place scoops of egg salad on platter. Scatter onion over salmon and egg salad. Place chive butter, grapes and other assorted fruit on platter. Arrange toast points around edge of platter. Also good served with toasted bagels. …… Good with un-oaked Chardonnay or a light, elegant Riesling.
56 // December 2013/January 2014
WINTER BARBECUED PORK CHOPS SERVES 4
Another satisfying December meal, using an indoor technique to bring a little bit of summer to the table. To save time, use bottled barbecue sauce, although the sauce below comes together quickly and is so good, you might want to try it.
tsp garlic powder tsp kosher salt tsp cayenne pepper centre-cut pork chops, about ½ inch thick, trimmed
winter barbecue sauce
cup brown sugar cup ketchup tbsp Worcestershire sauce tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1. Preheat broiler. 2. Make Winter Barbecue Sauce: In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. Set aside
1/4 cup sauce in a separate bowl. 3. In a small bowl, combine garlic powder, salt and cayenne
pepper. Rub over pork. Coat a broiler pan with cooking spray. Broil pork 5 minutes per side. 4. Baste each side with barbecue sauce and broil until cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Watch carefully as the sauce will burn quickly. 5. Serve with reserved 1/4 cup sauce, or if, like me, you like a lot of sauce, make another batch of the barbecue sauce to enjoy with dinner. Delicious with roasted apple slices, buttered corn and piping hot cornbread. …… Open an Australian Shiraz with this dish or a Côtes-du-Rhône.
BEEF WITH BROCCOLI Stir-frying is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get dinner on the table, unless there is a mountain of vegetables to slice. Here beef pairs simply with broccoli for an effortless dish that’s better than takeout. The stir-fry sauce is truly a keeper.
1 tbsp sherry 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch 1/2 tsp baking soda 1 lb beef tenderloin, sliced into thin strips Stir-Fry Sauce (see below) 1 bunch broccoli florets 3 tbsp oil 1 small onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced Chinese noodles, prepared according to package directions Unsalted cashews, coarsely chopped
1 1 1 1
tbsp oyster sauce tbsp hoisin sauce tbsp sherry tbsp low-sodium soy sauce tsp sugar cup beef broth tbsp water tbsp cornstarch
1/2 1/2 2 1
1. In a large bowl or casserole, mix sherry,
cornstarch and baking soda. Add beef. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour. 2. Meanwhile make Stir-Fry Sauce: In a medium bowl, mix oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, sherry, soy sauce, sugar, beef broth, water and cornstarch. Set aside. 3. Blanch broccoli in boiling water 3 minutes. Drain. 4. Heat oil in large wok. Stir-fry beef until cooked through. Remove and drain on paper towel-lined dish. 5. Add onion to wok. Stir-fry until onion is soft. Add broccoli and garlic. Stir-fry until garlic is soft and broccoli is bright green. Push vegetables up sides of wok. 6. Pour stir-fry sauce into the wok. Bring to a boil, whisking. When sauce is thickened, return meat to wok and push vegetables into sauce. Gently stir to combine. Serve over Chinese noodles, garnished with cashews. …… Try a lush Malbec which has enough machismo to stand up to the beef and broccoli.
ROASTED VEGETABLES WITH JASMINE RICE I try to eat vegetarian at least once a week. What I like about this dish is that the veggies roast in the oven and the rice can be made in a rice cooker so you can wrap presents while dinner cooks. This dish can be made with any vegetable you have on hand — substitute sweet potatoes for the carrots, leeks for the fennel, and add Brussels sprouts, cauliflower or broccoli.
10 tiny new potatoes, halved 2 cups baby carrots 1 fennel bulb, halved lengthwise and sliced 1 onion, coarsely chopped 5 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole 1/3 cup cider vinegar 1 tbsp water 2 tbsp olive oil 1/2 tsp dried thyme 1/2 tsp celery salt 1 1/2 tsp sugar 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained Buttered hot cooked jasmine rice
1. Preheat oven to 450˚F. 2. Coat a baking pan with cooking spray. 3. In a large bowl combine potatoes, carrots, fennel, onion
and garlic with vinegar, water, oil, thyme, celery salt and sugar. Pour onto baking pan. 4. Roast, uncovered, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Gently stir in kidney beans. Roast about 5 minutes more or until beans are heated through. Serve over rice. …… A voluptuous Viognier would work very well here. •
TIDINGS 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
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 (ON), Sean Wood (NS, NB), Gilles Bois (QC), Evan Saviolidis (ON), Harry Hertscheg (BC), Gurvinder Bhatia (AB), Rick VanSickle (ON), Ron Liteplo (AB), Tod Stewart (ON) and Jonathan Smithe (MB). ARGENTINA // p. 58; AUSTRALIA // p. 58-59; CANADA // p. 59-61; CHILE // p. 62; FRANCE // p. 62-63; GERMANY // p. 63;
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
ITALY // p. 63; LUXEMBOURG // p. 64; MOROCCO // p. 64; NEW ZEALAND // p. 64; SPAIN // p. 64; UNITED STATES // p. 64-65;
the notes\\ /ARGENTINA /
88 Callia Alta Shiraz Rosé 2012, San Juan ($10) A buxom, well-priced rosé from the Valle de Tulum. Deep blood-orange/pink colour; cherry-pit nose; full-bodied, dry cherry flavour with a smoky note. Match it with charcuterie. (TA)
89 Bodegas Salentein Numina Spirit Vineyard Gran Corte 2011, Mendoza ($17.99)
Blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, originates from Salentein’s oldest cool-climate high-altitude vineyard in the Valle de
Uco. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, it exhibits characteristic Argentinian Malbec red currant character together with Cabernet Sauvignon’s varietal green herbal, blackcurrant and blackberry notes overlaid with scents of cinnamon, clove and vanilla oak. It is full-bodied, with concentrated sweet, ripe dark fruit, firm but supple tannins and a complex, well-integrated finish. (SW)
/AUSTRALIA / 88 Thomas Goss Chardonnay 2011, Adelaide Hills, South Australia ($17) Refined citrus, hazelnut and
58 // December 2013/January 2014
SPIRITS // p. 65
subtle buttery notes on the nose with fine citrus fruit flavour show cool-climate freshness and focus. Well-modulated acidity, mineral and a smooth lick of creamery butter on the finish. A polished wine and excellent value. (SW)
87 Oxford Landing Viognier 2006, South Australia ($14.99)
Characteristic Viognier aromatic peach and tropical fruit with honeyed floral scents telegraph the full-bodied ripe peach and apricot flavours that emerge on the palate. Finishes with honeyed richness tempered by well-balanced acidity. (SW)
87 Hugh Hamilton ‘Jim Jim’ Unoaked Chardonnay 2011, McLaren Vale ($21.99)
Fresh and clean aromas and flavours of apple and peach with nice weight in the mid-palate, grippy texture and nice length. Would pair well with grilled prawns. (GB)
85 The Fix Chardonnay 2011, Southeastern Australia ($12.99)
Lively citrus, yellow tree fruit and melon on the nose, with citrus flavours leading off in the mouth. Crisp green apple kicks in on mid-palate with brisk acidity, a touch of mineral and a trace of peach on the finish. (SW)
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88 Fowles Wines Are You Game? Shiraz 2009, Victoria ($16.95) Are You Game? Shiraz 2009 is the little sister to Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz. This Shiraz is deep ruby-purple in colour with a savoury nose of black fruits, herbs and pepper. It offers dry, full-bodied, spicy liquorice, blackberry and toasty oak flavours. Good value. (TA)
88 Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, South Australia ($18.99)
This familiar wine, for so many years a benchmark for Aussie quality and consistency, is still on its game. This vintage offers generous blackcurrant, blackberry, minty herbal and subtle oak character and is harmoniously integrated and well-balanced throughout. (SW)
88 Hugh Hamilton ‘Jim Jim’ Shiraz 2010, McLaren Vale ($21.99)
Bright and juicy, with soft tannins, lots of ripe blackberry fruit, a touch of pepper, a silky texture and a juicy, fresh finish. A very good value. (GB)
86 Oxford Landing GSM (Grenache/Shiraz/ Mourvèdre) 2006, South Australia ($14.99) Shows mellow developed vinosity on the nose with red berry, a pinch of cinnamon and clove and a trace of minty herb. Raspberry and blackberry flavours are backed up by firm tannic grip, appetizing acidity and a lick of dark chocolate on the finish. (SW)
86 Oxford Landing Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, South Australia ($14.99)
Ripe berry and piquant blackcurrant with hints of spice on the nose yield to blackberry and blackcurrant flavours in the mouth, supported by supple tannins and good acid balance. Just enough tannic grip to make a well-balanced wine. (SW)
/CANADA / 92 JoieFarm En Famille Chardonnay Reserve 2011, Okanagan ($30)
This top-tier Chard from Joie shows gorgeous pineapple, apple-pear fruit, toasted vanilla and citrus zest on the nose. It’s complex and textured on the palate with quince fruit, delicate oak spices and a lick of butterscotch cream, with a balancing acid lift through the finish. I’d be tempted to lay this down for a couple of years. Try with oysters, shellfish or miso-rubbed black cod. (RV)
91 Jackson-Triggs Entourage Grand Reserve Methode Classique Brut 2009, Niagara ($23) A very fine and affordable sparkler from Niagara, with a creamy-yet-fresh fruit nose of lemon-lime, brioche, green apple, toasted vanilla and a touch of tangerine. The mousse is vigorous on the palate with zesty lemon, poached pear and minerals all delivered on a racy vein of acidity. A tiny kiss of honey shines through on the finish. Try with caviar, sushi or smoked trout. (RV)
91 Hidden Bench Estate Riesling 2011, Ontario ($23.95)
A stunning Riesling from winemaker Marlize Beyers. Pale straw colour with a floral, minerally nose developing petrol notes; medium-bodied, crisp lime and grapefruit flavours with racy acidity. (TA)
90 Fielding Estate Bottled Riesling 2012, Beamsville Bench ($19)
This Riesling is always one of the stars from Niagara’s benchlands. Even though there is 30 g/l of sugar, the extremely high acid brings the wine down to the point of off-dryness on the palate. It is rich and mouth-coating with all of its lime juice, blood orange, smoky minerals, white flowers and apricot. It will also age well over the next 3 to 4 years. (ES)
90 Culmina Dilemma 2011, Okanagan ($26)
Made from a small block of 20-year-old Chardonnay vines on the Triggs’ family estate, this has a lovely flinty-mineral nose to go with pear, citrus and fine oak undertones. It’s clean and finessed on the palate with everything in balance from the ripe pearapple fruit to the buttery toast and spice. (RV)
90 Hidden Bench Roman’s Block Riesling 2011, Beamsville Bench ($32)
One word: minerals! This wine is the essence of crushed rock, with added nuances of lime zest, apple juice and stone fruit. No sweetish Riesling here. It is dry, slightly austere, and it is a perfect foil
for some pork schnitzel or choucroute garnie. From 2014 to 2019. (ES)
90 Hidden Bench Nuit Blanche White Meritage 2011, Beamsville Bench ($40)
Close to 90% Sauvignon Blanc and the rest Sémillon, mixed with some new oak, is the recipe for this wine. Apricot, honey, spice, lanolin, nectarine, toast, honey and vague tropical fruit nuances are all in play. The acidity makes for food friendliness — especially halibut, chicken in cream sauce and even some mild curries. Drink from 2014 to 2019. (ES)
89 Rosewood Estates Select Series Sémillon 2012, Beamsville Bench ($18)
Sémillon excels with heat, and there was an abundance to be had in 2012. Clocking in at 14.6% alcohol, this full-bodied version is inundated with anise, lanolin, mango, quince, lychee, cream, white flowers and peach. There is a rich texture and elongated finish. From 2014 to 2018. (ES)
89 Calliope Sauvignon Blanc 2011, BC ($19.95)
Calliope is the second label of Burrowing Owl in the southern Okanagan. The wine is very pale in colour with a floral, herbaceous, grapefruit nose. It’s full-bodied with green plum and citrus flavours and lively acidity. (TA)
88 Earth & Sky Riesling 2011, Niagara ($15) A dynamic little Riesling for the price. Bold, lime-infused citrus with a splash of peach
//the notes fruit and mineral undertones on the nose. It’s refreshing and citrus-laden on the palate with a nice clean finish. (RV)
88 Rosewood Estates Select Series Süssreserve Riesling 2012, Beamsville Bench ($15)
This straightforward bench Riesling dishes out lime, crushed rock, bergamot, mineral, grapefruit and a slight hint of C02, at this early stage. The palate is tangy with just the right amount of residual sugar, taking the edge off. Crack it open tonight with sushi or a spiced ceviche. (ES)
88 Flat Rock Cellars Unplugged Chardonnay 2012, Niagara ($17)
This unoaked Chard from the winery’s Twenty Mile Bench appellation displays fresh aromas of apple and pear fruit with a vein of minerality running through the core. The fruit is ripe on the palate with the quince and minerals lifted by moderate acidity. (RV)
88 Haywire Gewürztraminer 2012, Okanagan ($20)
The varietally classic lychee fragrance unfurls to a burst of tropical fruit salad flavour on the lively, fresh palate. Bursts of banana, grapefruit and pear skin join in. The trio of soft acidity, modest 12.1% alcohol and spiciness throughout ensures a welcome partner for Asian cuisine. (HH)
88 Cattail Creek Barrel Fermented Chardonnay Small Lot Series 2010, Four Mile Creek ($24.95) The aromas of pineapple, vanilla, spice, honey, fig and coconut explode out of the
glass and onto the palate, where additional nuances of golden apple, cream and nutmeg join the party. The finish is lengthy with a nice underpinning of acidity providing lift. Drink now. (ES)
88 Jackson-Triggs Entourage Grand Reserve Sparkling Chardonnay 2009, Okanagan ($30) Yeasty-biscuity style with baked apple, lemon custard and toasty vanilla notes; not surprising given its oak barrel aging, partial malolactic fermentation and 2 years “en tirage.” Its richness masks the fizzy mousse, but it’s packed with flavour and finishes clean. Palate-cleansing with soft cheeses. (HH)
87 Seven Stones Speaking Rock Pinot Rosé 2012, Similkameen Valley ($19)
This Tavel-like rosé features a terra cotta hue, off-dry fruitiness, weighty mouthfeel and feint tannins. It gushes with strawberry and red plum, and finishes with some peppery heat. It’s hearty enough to serve with wintertime bean stews. (HH)
87 Seven Stones Speaking Rock Chardonnay 2010, Similkameen Valley ($25)
Earthy savouriness runs from nose to finish, enhanced by toasty oak and 3 years’ aging. The medium-body frame supports a mélange of sage, grapefruit, orange and applesauce flavours. The sur-lie aging brings out butteriness on the lemony finish. Serious consideration for nut-crusted fish fillets. (HH)
60 // December 2013/January 2014
86 Serendipity Rosé 2012, Okanagan ($18)
Its pale salmon colour, lean structure and crisp, fresh acidity harkens to a dry Provence rosé style. Fragrant hibiscus and confected red berry aromas, tart white cranberry flavour and red apple skin finish complete this easy-sipping package. Apropos with moules à la provençale. (HH)
86 Serendipity Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Okanagan ($20)
The telltale grassy varietal aromas include nuances of grapefruit, melon and passionfruit. Perky acidity freshens the round mouthfeel, accompanied by gobs of canned fruit cocktail flavour. Lingers with lime, pear skin and honeyed notes. Pair with a white-fleshed fish fillet. (HH)
92 Hidden Bench La Brunate 2010, Beamsville Bench ($75)
This is only the third time that La Brunate, Hidden Bench’s flagship red wine, has been made, as it is only produced in top vintages. That being said, this vintage is the best rendition to date as it was harvested at an insanely low yield of 1.5 tonnes/acre. This blend of 33% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Franc, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Malbec saw a high percentile of new oak, creating a bouquet of plum, mint, graphite, smoke, blueberry, black cherry, dark cocoa, earth and anise. It is still remarkably youthful, and will require at least another 2 years of bottle aging and then should be consumed by 2022. If you are looking to give a
top-end red this holiday season, this wine should be at the top of your list. (ES)
91 JoieFarm PTG 2011, Okanagan ($36)
PTG is a nice take on the classic “Passetoutgrain” blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay from Burgundy. Bright aromas and flavours of cherry, strawberry and black berries with cracked pepper, a touch of meaty savouriness, soft and supple tannins with elegance and depth and a lovely lifted finish. Great with duck or game birds. (GB)
91 Culmina Hypothesis 2011, Okanagan ($48)
The focus of the new Culmina portfolio from Donald Triggs will always be the creation of this Bordeaux-style blend. The blend consists of 3 Bordeaux varietals: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The nose shows fine cassis, bramble bush, violets, cherry-kirsch fruit and toasted oak spices that evolve in the glass. It has an elegant feel in the mouth with nothing overdone. The just-ripe red and dark fruits and vivid spices are delivered on a bed of firm tannins while the firm acidity offers balance and finesse. A wonderful first effort from young vines. (RV)
90 JoieFarm Gamay 2011, Okanagan ($34)
Fresh and lively; delicious ripe cherry flavours with a touch of tartness, earth, pepper, and a bit of meaty savoury quality that all add to the complexity of the wine. Possesses juicy tannins, a silky texture and bright acidity on the mineral finish. Enough flavour and
backbone to pair with pulled pork and BBQ ribs, but elegant enough for salmon and chicken. (GB)
90 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 with firm, assertive tannins and delivers a wave of dark and meaty fruits with savoury-peppery accents. Try this with BBQ ribs or smoked grilled pork chops. (RV)
90 Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage 2010, Beamsville Bench ($38)
This little brother to La Brunate is no slouch in the quality department. Dark cherries, raspberries, figs, plums, smoke, vanilla, toast, violets, dark cocoa and a savoury blend of oregano and mint are all present in this medium-bodied offering. The finale is long, and the tannins will allow 8 to 10 years of cellaring. (ES)
89 Earth & Sky Pinot Noir 2010, Niagara ($16)
A generous nose of cherry and strawberry fruit with touches of vanilla oak, earth and spice. It’s tasty on the palate with red fruits, smooth tannins and a balanced approach to the cloves, earth and spices. (RV)
89 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 Seven Stones Speaking Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Similkameen Valley, BC ($35) A complex blast on the nose, featuring all kinds of dried scents: tobacco, tea, rose, dark chocolate, chipotle. Cassis, chocolate and roast coffee beans permeate the rich palate and smooth finish. Well-balanced ripe tannins soften the edges that cellaring will accomplish later. Or tame now with a meat stew (or vice-versa!). (HH)
88 Rosewood Estates Pinot Noir 2011, Twenty Mile Bench ($20)
Even though 2011 was not an easy year for red wine production, Rosewood has done an excellent job capturing the elegance of the vintage. A combination of black cherry, plum, earth, cola, cinnamon and smoke flatters the senses. Tannins are suave, and there is terrific length. Drink over the next 3 years. (ES)
88 Rosewood Estates Merlot 2011, Twenty Mile Bench ($22) This is a worthy successor to the superb 2010 and a minor success considering the vintage. Plum, anise, red flowers, root beer, spice and cocoa are built on a medium-bodied frame. The finish
carries, and there is just a minute green/bitter edge which necessitates some form of roast/braised meat to take the edge off. It will age well over the next 4 to 5 years. (ES)
87 Cattail Creek Pinot Noir Estate Series 2010, Four Mile Creek ($18.95) An explosion of black cherries, black raspberries, spice and vanilla inundates the senses. Texturally, it is polished with crisp acidity and a lingering, earthy/ spicy finish. (ES)
87 Serendipity Devil’s Advocate 2010, Okanagan ($23)
Easy-drinking blend noted by juicy texture, soft tannins and oodles of fruitiness. Bursting with blueberry scents on the nose, with red liquorice and sweet-sour berries on the palate. There’s a tasty minty pepperiness on the finish. Chocolate hints add interest. Just drink it. (HH)
87 Seven Stones Speaking Rock Pinot Noir 2009, Similkameen Valley ($28)
Forest-floor scents pique the nose while earthy mushroom fills the palate. Red cherry, cinnamon and black tea pervade from start to finish. Firm acidity and integrated tannins ensure a foodfriendly quaff. A good match with grilled Portobello mushrooms. (HH)
87 Inniskillin Discovery Series Tempranillo 2011, Okanagan ($30)
Spain’s Tempranillo grape’s early ripening and affinity for arid climes with large
diurnal temperature swings bodes well for taking root in the Okanagan. Characteristic garnet colour with tobacco and red berry scents, lean acidity, dry tannins and earthy, oak-spiced finish. Try with chorizo-enhanced dishes. (HH)
86 Cattail Creek Cabernet Merlot Creek Series, Four Mile Creek ($14.95) This solid-value combination of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot reveals a bouquet of cassis, raspberry, tobacco smoke and vanilla on a light- to medium-bodied frame. Tannins are soft, and there is admirable richness and persistency. Drink over the next 2 years. (ES)
86 Fort Berens Meritage 2011, British Columbia ($28)
It’s a blend on several fronts: Merlot/Cab Sauv/Cab Franc grapes, estate Lillooet and Black Sage Bench fruit and French/American oak aging. It results in smoky scents enhanced by mocha and dark berry. Bright acidity, spicy red fruit flavours and soft tannins lead to a taut finish. Try with stir-fry. (HH)
85 Fort Berens Cabernet Franc 2011, British Columbia ($26)
This single varietal red is a blend of 70% young estate Lillooet fruit and 30% older Black Sage Bench fruit. Wild berry aromas waft from the glass, while intense blackcurrant and boysenberry flavours attack a somewhat astringent palate. Smoky notes linger to the tart finish. Consider grilled vegetables. (HH)
//the notes /CHILE /
88 Errazuriz Ovalle Vineyards Panul Chardonnay 2012, Colchagua Valley ($10.70) An easy-drinking, budget-friendly Chardonnay from the Colchagua Valley. Straw colour with a lime tint; minerally, spicy, apple nose; custard apple flavour, soft on the palate with a touch of sweetness. (TA)
88 Emiliana Adobe Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2012, Casablanca Valley ($12.95)
Pale straw in colour with a lime tint; a bouquet of crushed elderberries with a grassy note; medium-bodied with a crisply dry, gooseberry flavour and a lemony finish. (TA)
86 Casa Nueva Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Curicó Valley ($10.42)
Pale yellow. Nose of McIntosh apple, gooseberries, celery, a hint of sulphur. On the palate it is medium-bodied and brightly acidic, tasting of citrus and green apple. The “greenness” of the flavours make it a good match for herbed foods such as roast chicken. (RL)*
/FRANCE / 91 Devaux Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne ($49.75)
Fresh and open nose of yeast, bread dough; very pleasant. Nice fruity taste. Great balance and volume with a hint of rancio for extra complexity in the finish. Less expensive than most Champagnes, and better than many. (GBQc)
90 Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr Riesling Grand Cru Osterberg 2010, AC Alsace ($19.17)
Pale yellow. Fascinating nose of guava, green apple, kaffir lime leaves, and “petrol.” From a good vintage; tastes of lemon-lime and passion fruit. This has serious aging potential, will be good to at least 2020. (RL)*
89 Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr Pinot Blanc Cuvée Prestige 2011, AC Alsace ($13.17)
Pale straw with green tinges. Bodacious nose of Granny Smith apple, peaches and a bit of green bark. Medium-bodied, tastes of apples and melon. A crisp “deck wine” and sufficiently complex and minerally to cleanse the palate when eating oily food, such as chicken confit. (RL)*
89 La Ferme du Mont La Truffière 2011 Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2011, Rhône ($15.95)
Looking for something different in the way of a white wine? Try this blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Clairette. The wine is deep straw in colour with a spicy, tropical fruit nose and a floral note. Richly extracted peach and melon flavours fill the mouth with a star anise finish. Good mouthfeel. Good value. (TA)
89 La Cadierenne Bandol Rosé Grande Tradition 2012, Provence ($19) Winter may be setting in but this serious rosé, made with Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre, is an all-season pink wine. Light raspberry,
62 // December 2013/January 2014
summer herbs, grapefruit and watermelon aromas jump from the glass. It’s complex, completely dry and opens up in the glass to reveal a bounty of red fruits, citrus and herbs. Bold enough to serve with salmon steaks. (RV)
86 Vignes de Paul Valmont Blanc Fruité 2012, Pays d’Oc IGP ($11.99)
A blend of Grenache Blanc, Chasan, Vermentino and Sauvignon grown in the Aude Valley of Languedoc, this one opens with an array of warmly scented yellow fruits and floral and light herbal overtones. Ripe grapefruit kicks in on the palate together with lemon, honeydew melon and gravelly mineral. Finish has touch of bitter grapefruit contrasted with a honeyed lemon note. Generously fruity, undemanding, but enjoyable wine. (SW)
86 Côté Mas Blanc Mediterranée 2012, Pays d’Oc IGP ($12.99)
The cheerful period travel– poster label is very appropriate for this easy-to-like, generously flavoured fruity wine. A blend of Grenache Blanc and Vermentino with a splash of Chardonnay and Sauvignon, it presents aromatic ripe yellow fruit with floral scents and flavours of mango, melon and peach. Pair with Mediterranean-style appetizers. (SW)
84 Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr Sylvaner Cuvée Prestige 2011, AC Alsace ($12.83) Pale straw color. Restrained nose of McIntosh apples,
spice and stone fruits. Medium-bodied, tastes of citrus and pineapple. Could use a little more acidity. (RL)
91 Xavier Châteauneufdu-Pape 2010, Rhône ($42.95)
Ruby-purple colour with a nose of raspberries, oak spice and a note of lavender. Full and silky on the palate with opulent mid-palate flavours of black fruits and liquorice, pure and pretty — a wine that will last for a decade and longer. (TA)
91 Chanson Père & Fils Beaune Clos du Roi 2010, Burgundy ($48.95) Ruby colour with a bouquet of cherries, spicy oak and a floral top note. A fuller style of red Burgundy, ripe with gentle tannins; age-worthy, already showing an excellent aging potential. (TA)
90 Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr Pinot Noir 2011, AC Alsace ($15.67)
Pale garnet, with a typical PN nose of raspberries and violets. Light-bodied and very fruity with refreshing acidity, tasting of raspberries and strawberries. A good entry-level introduction to Pinot Noir at an attractive price for this grape. (RL)*
90 Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Château Rouge 2009, Burgundy ($36.95)
Ruby colour with a tawny rim; raspberry, vanilla and wood spice nose; medium-bodied, dry, sour-cherry flavour with a silky mouthfeel and a firm tannic finish. Needs a couple of years cellaring. (TA)
89 Château Grand Village 2009, Bordeaux Supérieur ($21)
Expressive nose; generous oak with vanilla and spices along with black berry fruits. The barely rough tannins are well wrapped and covered by toasted notes. Good length in the slightly warm finish. (GBQc)
88 Christian Moueix Merlot 2009, Bordeaux ($15)
Fine nose of red fruits; fully ripe. Mellow tannins, supple texture, easy to drink and very enjoyable, even on its own. Ready to drink. (GBQc)
85 Côté Mas Rouge Intense Mediterranée 2012, Pays d’Oc IGP ($13) An eclectic blend of Carignan, Grenache Noir and Cinsault with smaller quantities of Merlot and Syrah showing lively fresh red fruit scents, together with green and dried herbal notes and a whiff of mineral. Black cherry and blackberry flavours are supported by solid tannins with good acid balance and a dusting of dark chocolate on the finish. (SW)
84 Vignes de Paul Valmont Rouge Fruité 2012, Pays d’Oc IGP ($11.99)
The blend here is Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan with smaller amounts of Merlot and Syrah. Lively red fruit and dried herbal notes with a whiff of mineral shift to black cherry and blackberry in the mouth. Solid tannins with a dusting of dark chocolate lead into a grippy, dry, well-integrated finish. (SW)
/GERMANY / 92 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 2011, Mosel ($24.95) Pale colour with a nose of apples, spices and white flowers. Clean and opulent raisiny and honeyed flavours with a thread of minerality and balancing acidity. A long-lived wine but drinking beautifully right now (TA)
/ITALY / 90 Ca’del Bosco Cuvée Prestige Brut 2012, Franciacorta, Lombardy ($35.25)
The fine nose is a little bit shy. With lower acidity than most sparkling wines, the fruit is put forward with subtle but precise flavours. The finish is equally precise and clean with what seems like a hint of oak, but just barely. (GBQc)
89 Ferrari Filli Lunelli Ferrari Brut Trento Trentino-Alto Adige ($26)
The inviting nose is ripe and gives an impression of roundness. Smooth on the palate, nice ripe flavours, completely dry with a clean finish. Impeccable. Drink now. (GBQc)
88 San Raffaele Monte Tabor Pinot Grigio 2012, Veneto ($15)
Lovely nose of grapefruit, peach cobbler, apricot and mango. It’s clean and fresh on the palate with flavours of white peach and tropical fruit, and fairly balanced by the acidity. Good fruity sipper or serve with chicken kabobs. (RV)
91 Prunotto Barolo 2008, Piemonte ($40)
Garnet with slightly orange rim. There is great finesse in the nose of mostly red fruits. On the palate, there is a great combination of fine structure and power, characteristic of good Barolos. Great length too. (GBQc)
91 Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva 2008, Tuscany ($42.50)
Full ruby colour. Red and black fruits, liquorice and a good deal of oak. It fills the mouth with its supple yet firm body, fine tannins and a long tight finish. Very good and a reference in Chianti. (GBQc)
91 Pian delle Vigne 2006, Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany ($60)
Part of the Antinori family, it shows the usual orange tint on the rim. Elegant nose of discreet red fruits and flower notes. Supple and equally elegant on the palate, its medium body has a firm backbone and fills the mouth with finesse. Great. (GBQc)
91 Isole e Olena Cepparello 2008, Tuscany ($66)
Full ruby. Nose is discreet but of high quality, full of appealing ripe fruity notes. Very well balanced and supple on the palate, its finish is tight, long and intense, all signs of a great wine. (GBQc)
90 Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato 2011, Bolgheri, Tuscany ($25)
Full ruby. Red berry fruits and a floral hint. Very fruity on the palate, elegant, tight and full with fine tender tannins that show more grip
in the finish. Drink or wait a few years. (GBQc)
90 Prunotto Occhetti 2008, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Piemonte ($25.50)
Ruby garnet colour. The fine nose shows classy red fruit notes and barely perceptible oak. Silky texture with a tight and firm backbone of fine tannins that turn slightly astringent in the finish, a sign of aging potential (3 to 5 years). (GBQc)
89 Prunotto Mompertone 2008, Monferrato Rosso, Piemonte ($20)
Bright ruby. There is finesse in the nose of red fruits and discreet oak. Lively attack, tight on the palate with fine tannins and medium-length finish. (GBQc)
88 Tenuta S Anna Cabernet Franc 2011, Veneto ($13.95)
Ruby colour with a violet tint; smoky, red-berry nose; dry floral cherry flavour, well-structured and medium-bodied with a firm finish. A well-made wine. Good value. (TA)
87 Leonardo 2011, Chianti DOCG ($17.99)
Packaged in an updated version of the traditional wicker-basket fiasco, this blend of 85% Sangiovese, with 10% Merlot and 5% other grapes offers refined red fruit with a dusting of cinnamon, a hint of vanilla and a light minty overtone on the nose. Shows typical red cherry flavours, lightly firm tannins, good acidity and a lick of milk chocolate on the finish. Polished and well-balanced. (SW)
//the notes /LUXEMBOURG /
87 Bernard Massard Cuvée de l’Écusson Brut ($17) It is rare to find a wine from tiny Luxembourg. Pleasant fruity nose as you would expect from a well-made bubbly. Nicely balanced, it drinks easily, as it seems not totally dry even though it is classified as a dry wine. A touch of bitterness adds life to the finish. Drink now. (GBQc)
/MOROCCO / 85 Domaine des Ouled Tandem 2010, Syrah du Maroc ($22.99)
This powerful, emphatic wine from Morocco is densely coloured, with deep, spicy berry scents, richly ripe, concentrated raspberry and blackberry flavours, firm dry tannins, fresh acidity and a very dry finish. Drink with robust meat dishes. (SW)
/NEW / ZEALAND 90 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough ($20)
A vibrant and exciting nose
of lime, kiwi, tangerine, grapefruit, light, fresh grass and herbs. It’s zingy and energetic on the palate with pure citrus and tropical fruits and fresh herbs lifted by bracing acidity. Zesty and pure SB that offers good value. A wonder with canapés. (RV)
91 Luis Cañas Reserva 2005, Rioja ($22.95)
89 Whitehaven Pinot Noir 2011, Marlborough ($23)
88 Las Rochas Garnacha 2010, Catalunya ($15.35)
A meaty Pinot with cherry, violets, field raspberry, bramble bush, light spice and leather notes. On the palate look for black cherry, cedar, liquorice, anise and tobacco delivered on a smooth bed of tannins. (RV)
/SPAIN / 91 Ondarre Reserva 2004, DOC Rioja ($15.33)
Medium-deep maroon velvet. Smells very typically like an old Rioja: sweet prune jam, coffee, vanilla, tea. Quite fruity still, tasting of stewed fruits and raisins with smooth tannins and a very long finish. Ready now; drink up. (RL)*
A dry full-bodied blend of Tempranillo with 5% Graciano. Deep ruby-purple in colour with a nose of blueberry, pepper, sweet spice, smoke and tar. Full and fleshy on the palate, yet tightened by fine tannins. A keeper. (TA)
Ruby colour with a tawny note; spicy, raspberry and vanilla oak on the nose; medium-bodied, sweet raspberry flavour with a lively acidic spine. Well-made with good length. (TA)
88 Castillo de Maluenda Punto Y Coma Garnacha Viñas Viejas 2009, Calatayud DO ($16.99)
This Old Vines Grenache comes from a subregion of Aragon in the central eastern region of Spain. It is dominated by deep, dark fruit with black cherry and plum backed up by spicy and herbal notes, solid tannic structure, good acidity and firm dry grip on the finish. It pairs very well with spicy BBQ spare ribs. (SW)
Wine Care Specialists
Strictly Cellars & Accessories
• Wine cellars from 30 to 500 bottles or more • Wine racking and cooling systems • Select wine accessories and stemware
Kelowna, BC 250-448-7225
1-866-396-7225 w w w.strictlycellars.com
64 // December 2013/January 2014
/UNITED / STATES 90 Treana Marsanne/ Viognier 2010, Central Coast ($29.95)
This Rhône-inspired blend of equal parts Marsanne and Viognier has been treated to some new oak. Like peaches macerated in honey, pineapple, marmalade, fig, cream, spice, vanilla. It is full-bodied with excellent length and more acidity than previous vintages due to the cooler growing conditions in 2010. Drink over the next 5 to 6 years. (ES)
89 Gloria Ferrer Brut Sonoma ($22.65)
Light fruity nose, inviting. Equally light on the palate with subtle nuances of white fruit and a fine balance. Very well made and ideal as a aperitif that every guest will enjoy on New Year’s Eve. (GBQc)
87 Primal Roots White Blend 2011, California ($13)
An oddball blend of Viognier, Colombard, Riesling and Gewürztraminer that makes for a pleasant little wine that’s a little off the beaten track. Loaded with lychee,
clove, apricot, pear and honeysuckle. It’s the Gewürz that shines on the palate with grapefruit, spice, peach and a squirt of citrus. Something new to pair with Asian and spicy food. (RV)
95 Burgess Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Napa Valley ($27.67)
Black plum-red. Nose of blackberries, vanilla and smoke. Blended with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec, resulting in a full-bodied yet interesting fruit bomb, mouth-watering and so concentrated it is almost sweet. Makes you “wish they all could be California…” wines. Will last till 2020. (RL)*
88 Trinity Oaks Merlot 2010, California ($19.99)
Focused with nice balance of plum and berry fruit, soft tannins, soft palate, but nice weight in the mid-palate and a round, elegant, lasting finish. A very good value. (GB)
/SPIRITS / St George Terroir Gin, California ($48)
Aromatic and flavourful with savoury pine, sage, citrus, bay leaf and forest floor. Perfect for a very dry martini. Smells like they distilled a Christmas tree. (GB)
St George Botanivore Gin, California ($48)
Complex and aromatic, containing 19 different botanicals including bergamot peel, black peppercorn, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, ginger and star anise. Fresh,
bright, multilayered, expressive and well-balanced; combines citrus, spice and a savoury earthiness. Ideal in a G&T using Fentiman’s tonic. (GB)
St George Dry Rye Gin, California ($48)
Unique, using a base of pot-stilled rye; shows spice, pepper and malt with a rich fullness and complex finish. Great in a Negroni or Old Fashioned and as a substitute in traditional rye whiskey-based cocktails. (GB)
The Macallan Cask Strength Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky, distilled exclusively in sherry oak casks 59% ($110)
Amazingly deep and enormously complex nose shows sherried fruit cake, candied citrus, cinnamon, clove, vanilla and fine oak. Opens on the palate with creamy smoothness; unfolds richly sherried nutty malt and dried citrus fruit shifting to smoky peat and agreeably fiery spirit on the long, powerful, ashy dry finish. A profound malt to contemplate after dinner. (SW)
Highland Park 15 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky 43% ($92.45)
Rich scents of sherried oak fill the nostrils together with dried citrus-fruit peel, a whiff of peat smoke, and spirity, lightly spicy overtones. On the palate, sherried malty sweetness contrasts with spirit, peat and tobacco ash dryness. Softer creamy notes on the back palate shift to very dry, lightly fiery spirit on the finish. A superbly balanced complex classic malt. (SW)
6 WEBSITES FOR YOUR DIY PROJECTS BY LISA HOEKSTRA
It’s surprisingly hard to find good DIY websites that have perfected the art of instructing a would be do-it-yourselfer. The following are a few of the sites to try; each scratches a different DIY itch.
DESIGN SPONGE www.designsponge.com Considered Martha Stewart Living for the millennials, the instructions are easy and fun. They focus on decorative projects — wall art, homemade key chains, personalized jars. The DIY section is easy to find — click DIY in the top menu.
MAKE: CRAFT www.makezine.com/craft/ Make:zine’s DIY covers crafts and hobbies. They have recipes, table centre pieces, gardening, crocheting and clothing. Almost all are DIY projects, so browse away until something catches your fancy.
DIY NETWORK www.diynetwork.com For the more intrepid DIYer, like remodelers or renovators. There are many big projects with a wide range of tips and advice. Easy to navigate, the whole site is dedicated to DIY projects.
BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS www.bhg.com They have tips for painting, selecting colours and shopping. The instructions are straightforward with ample photography. Be prepared for a bit of clicking though. BHG’s DIY ideas are under “Decorating & Home Ideas”, “Projects”.
INHABITAT www.inhabitat.com These wall art, garden and other home decor projects are for those recyclables you’ve accumulated. The instructions are easy to follow and come with photos. The only downside is finding the DIY section — click the “category” field under “Search Inhabitat” and select DIY.
DORNOB www.dornob.com This site is for those who want inspiration rather than instruction. The projects are innovative and unique — a bathmat made of stones, homemade patio planters and window treatments made of old kodachrome film. Unfortunately, the instructions aren’t very thorough, and the DIY section is buried under the “More” menu.
sharpen your pencils canada\\
SO PERVASIVE IS THE PROBLEMof fake wines in China that a new store in the city of Lanzhou, specializing in the sale of imported wines, is advertising the fact that “if counterfeit bottles are discovered, the company has the right to issue a fine of 100,000 RMB ($17,300).” They don’t actually say who the fine will be levied against, but it could well be imposed on those producers of phony Canadian Icewine emanating from basements in Mississauga, Ontario, and Surrey, BC. Lanzhou is the capital and largest city of Gansu Province in Northwest China. Twenty per cent of all the grapes grown for Chinese wines come from Gansu Province and particularly along the Hexi Corridor, which is part of the Silk Road, the ancient trading route that linked China to the Mediterranean and India. Such is the growth of China’s domestic wine industry that consumers in Beijing and Shanghai may soon not have to resort to dubious wines from the West. The Chinese wine market experienced an annual growth of 20 per cent between 2006 and 2011 and is forecast to grow another 54 per cent by 2015. Currently China has a per-capita wine consumption of 0.35 litres a year. That amounts to three four-ounce glasses a year. With a population of 1.35 billion people, all it would take for the drinking-age Chinese to consume an additional one billion bottles is to drink one more glass of wine a year.
66 // December 2013/January 2014
BY TONY ASPLER
Gansu’s wine industry is centred around Wuwei City, whose northern part borders on Inner Mongolia at the eastern end of the Hexi Corridor. In October 2012, Wuwei City was named “The Wine City of China” by the China Food Industry Association, the only city to be so honoured. Because of its arid desert and semi-desert conditions, its climate is dry, with an annual rainfall of less than 200 mm. The soil is sandy (which prevents phylloxera) and the dry conditions permit organic cultivation. Many of the wine labels carry the term “organic” alongside the winery name. Everything about the wine industry in China is vast. In Wuwei, by 2016, vineyard plantings are expected to reach 33,333 hectares of Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Riesling, as well as a grape I had never come across, Cabernet Gernischt, which is thought be with an ancestor of Cabernet Franc or maybe Carménère. Currently there are six mega-wineries operating in the Wuwei region — Grand Dragon, Mogao, Huang Tai, Shiyanghe, Zi Xuan and Tengling Ziyu. Remember these names, because I predict that within a generation they’ll be as familiar to you as Burgundy shippers and Bordeaux châteaux. On my first trip to China in 1988 I visited the Dynasty winery in Tianjin, Shandong Province, 160 km southeast of Beijing. It was a joint venture between the Chinese government and Rémy Martin. The wines had a nice colour, but that was the kindest thing I could say about them. What a difference 25 years makes. This past August I spent a week touring the vineyards of Wuwei and tasted a range of wines produced by the six wineries mentioned above. The Pinot Noirs and Cabernet blends needed no apologies. While you wouldn’t mistake them for Burgundy or Bordeaux, they were very enjoyable and augured well for the future, when growers will learn to sacrifice the size of their grape yields for better-quality fruit. I tasted one locally made Icewine, made from Riesling Italico, which bore no resemblance to the Riesling Icewines of Ontario or BC. It was sweet and grapey without balancing acidity, but it’s just a matter of time before the winemakers get it right. And when they do, watch out. Our wineries will have to sharpen their pencils for the export market. •
ILLUSTRATION: FRANCESCO GALLÉ, WWW.FRANCESCOGALLE.COM
Please enjoy responsibly.
INNISKILLIN ON CD Completing each otherâ€™s sentences since 1990.
Completing your special moments since 1975. P erfect for pairing. inniskillin.com
Ad Yarai Mixing Pitcher & Strainer This age-old bartending tool is perfect for mixing up classic cocktails like martinis, manhattans & other cocktails! The method of stirring vs. shaking is a more gentle technique for mixing perfectly clear cocktails while adding just the right amount of dilution. The Japanese Yarai weave-pattern gives this pitcher a classic look. Final Touch includes a Hawthorne stainless steel strainer for one-handed use.
PRODUCT SPECIALTIES ON CD On The Rock Glass
Final Touch’s Kool Twister features a dripless pour-through spout; this allows the opportunity to pour straight from the bottle without removing. When frozen it will cool your reds and keep your pre-chilled whites at that perfect temperature. Simply remove from the freezer, insert your Kool Twister into the bottle and you are ready-to-serve.
Traditionally scent, temperature, and taste were the keys to drinking scotch or whiskey. This glass brings two new elements, chilling & motion, to the tasting experience. The Final Touch set includes one On The Rock Glass and one silicone ice mould. The elegant design of the glass allows you to roll the ice ball around the ROCK peak with a simple & easy motion. The rolling motion of the ice ball will chill your drink while stimulating the senses. The large 2” ice ball will outlast regular ice cubes. See how motion & ice take your drinking experience to the next level.
Conundrum Aerator Decanter This Final Touch aerating decanter elegantly holds a half bottle of wine, making it the perfect size for personal use, or in pairs for splitting up reds from whites in style. While pouring in or out, the wine is gently dispersed over the curves, providing superior aeration & oxygenation.
13pc Beer Tasting Set Final Touch’s complete beer tasting set is everything you need. Each of the 6 tasting glasses hold half a beer which is the ideal for tasting. Each shape is unique with characteristics to help to sustain carbonation, maintain lively heads, capture aroma & highlight the rich colour of certain beers. The included beer tasting guide helps you choose the perfect glass, meal, cheese and dessert. This set even includes 6 aluminum coasters with a non-slip corked bottom.
Where To Buy See our website or scan this QR® Code with your mobile device for more information, videos & where to purchase: http://goo.gl/xSTiZl