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//features 20// sweetness by michael pinkus

The world is awash in sweet wine.

30

22// Backers by sean wood

Chenin Blanc’s passionate advocates aim to make it South Africa’s flagship white.

26// Traction

by Carolyn Evans-Hammond Is Pinotage picking up traction with wine lovers?

30// Pressure by Evan Saviolidis

South Africa’s not necessarily the New World.

34// I will not leave my children at home

by tod stewart

Waking up in Le Marche.

40// Aosta

by Robert Hausner Deep in the heart of a somewhat forgotten valley.

45// Sing song by Rosemary mantini

A nut is a nut is not really a nut.

48// can you feel the heat?

by Rick Vansickle

48 40

An exclusive rum tasting.

tidingsmag.com

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//Ă  la carte 7// Contributors 8// from the editor 11// Conversations Letters to the editor.

13// Simple Living Michael Volpatt

55

14// Umami Joanne Will

17// Anything but

martinis

sheila swerling-puritt

18// Bon Vivant Peter Rockwell

44// pours

jennifer croll

52// Davine

Gurvinder Bhatia

55// Bouquet Garni Nancy Johnson

66// final word

17

//notes 51// the mav notes 54// the food notes

An appetizing selection of food-friendly faves.

Tony Aspler

58// The Buying Guide

Top wines from around the world scored.

Argentina // p. 58 Australia // p. 58-59 Canada // p. 59-60 chile // p. 60

44

France // p. 60-62 Germany // p. 62 Greece // p. 62 Italy // p. 62-64 New Zealand // p. 64 South Africa // p. 64 spain // p. 65 United States // p. 65 beer // p. 65

4 // February/March 2012


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//online

//contributors

+ more on tidingsmag.com

Follow us on twitter and tumblr Quenchbytidings.tumblr.com twitter.com/quenchbytidings cooking challenge When she’s not copyediting the features for Tidings, Vancouver-based editor-slash-bon vivant Jennifer Croll likes drinking cocktails and writing, and sometimes dares to do both at the same time (like now, for instance). Her home on the web is jencroll.com, and she’ll have what you’re having.

Make melt-in-your-mouth Cornmeal Cookies.

travel Ward off February’s chill with a trip to sunny Sicily.

Features No more kitchen nightmares! Design a kitchen that works.

Wine Tasting club Taste the wines of Brazil.

blogs Get your food and wine fix, updated weekly. This month, Kitchen Mama lets you in on some great food buys.

Plus! Rick VanSickle is a freelance wine writer who lives with his family in Niagara where a good bottle of wine is always nearby. He publishes a website called WinesInNiagara.com.

Michael Pinkus is the head-writer and Grape Guy behind OntarioWineReview.com, publishing a bi-weekly newsletter full of informative reviews and articles about the Ontario wine scene. He is currently the President of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. You can catch up with his exploits on the web and thru Twitter and Facebook.

Original recipes; a daily serving of

food and drink news and views; culinary tips, tricks and techniques.

Next Month In Tidings I Jura: a region awash in wine Can we drink better? Seeking out Icewine’s best match Sommelier and chef trade secrets Portland’s craft beer scene revealed

Chained to an idyll life on the French Côte D’Azur, Robert Hausner focuses his days (and nights) on culinary pursuits writing about interesting food and where to find it “off the beaten track.”

No better spirit: is whisky really the tops? ... And So Much More

tidingsmag.com

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//from the editor February/ March 2012 Issue # 301

signatures

\\

Editor-in-chief

Aldo Parise editor@tidingsmag.com

I first learned how to sign my name — as opposed to the illegible scribbling I still use — when I was 12 years old. I had just opened my first bank account and they had asked me to sign my name. I wondered why it was important. Signatures are very personal things. You should really avoid copying another’s style. It should be yours and only yours. Now you may take a stroke from here, a wave of the pen from there but it should stand as your own. You may wonder why I am rambling about signatures. You may not be used to my round about ways of getting to the point. Essentially what I am talking about is grapes. A wine region almost always seeks out an element that will make it unique. It may start out with the idea of terroir (the soil and climate) or wrap itself around a like-minded group of winemakers, like the Rhône Rangers in California. But the holy grail of any area is a signature grape. If you have one you have it made. In Chile, it is Carménère. Uraguay, Tannat. Argentina has Malbec, while Spain bathes in Tempranillo. And let’s not forget Shiraz from our friends downunder. It’s easy to get the consumer’s attention when you have one name to bounce into every conversation. In this issue we’ve focused on South Africa. It’s a country with lots of intrigue. Does it make Shiraz better than the Aussies? Can it really blend the best of the New and Old Worlds? Does it truly have a signature grape? We’ve answered some of these questions, while others we’ll leave in your curious hands. But back to our conversation on signatures. South Africa has gotten very lucky and found two. Chenin Blanc in the whites and the truly unique Pinotage in the reds. Can they be said to be South Africa’s alone? Pinotage is special in the definition of signatures. Created and grown in the heart of South Africa it has become the calling card of a vastly diverse wine culture. That is the mark of a true signature. It’s the smiley-face dot on top of the i.

8 // February/March 2012

Contributing Editors

Gurvinder Bhatia, Tod Stewart Contributing food Editor

Nancy Johnson Contributing Lifestyle Editor

Rosemary Mantini Columnists

Tony Aspler, Peter Rockwell, Michael Volpatt, Jennifer Croll, Joanne Will, Sheila Swerling-Puritt Contributors

Michael Pinkus, Rick VanSickle, Sean Wood, Harry Hertscheg, Evan Saviolidis, Gilles Bois, Robert Hausner, Carolyn Evans-Hammond Tasters

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

Lee Springer, Jennifer Croll web editor

Rosemary Mantini Creative by Paris Associates Art Direction

Aldo Parise Production

ww+Labs, cmyk design, studio karibü Illustrations & Photography

Matt Daley, Francesco Gallé, Push/Stop Studio, august photography Cover Design

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conversations\\

Kylix Media CFO

Lucy Rodrigues Circulation

circ@tidingsmag.com

Thank you Tod Stewart for a fantastic interview with Geddy Lee. I read it twice: in Tidings Magazine and the full version on tidingsmag.com. Love it! Ann Smith, Toronto

... I read it twice: in Tidings Magazine and the full version on tidingsmag.com ...

Accounts

Marilyn Barter accounts@tidingsmag.com Advertising Representation Dovetail Communications

Senior Account Executive Jacquie Rankin: jrankin@dvtail.com 9 05-886-6640 ext 304 Sales Associate Amanda Jones: ajones@dvtail.com 905-886-6640 ext. 308 www.tidingsmag.com www.tidingseats.com Now in our 39 th year Kylix Media, 5165 Sherbrooke St. West, Suite 414, Montreal, Quebec, H4A 1T6, Tel: 514.481.6606, Fax: 514.481.9699. Subscription Rates: Canada: $36 per year, $58 per 2 years, USA: $55 per year, Other: $75 per year. Single Copies: $5.95. Tidings, Canada’s Food & Wine Magazine, a registered trademark of Kylix Media, is published 8 times a year: (February/March, April, May/June, July/August, September, October, November, December/January). Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher. © 2012 Kylix Media Inc. Printed in Canada. ISSN-0228-6157. Publications Mail Registration No. 40063855. Member of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Re: Michael Volpatt’s Braised Lamb recipe. I made this for my New Year’s Eve party. I decided to switch the white wine for a rich Montepulciano D’Abruzzo and use a tad less garlic just to see how it would turn out. Wow! It was a huge hit! C. Costa, email

I, like Mr. Bhattia, love sparkling wine. There are times when nothing less than Champagne will do, of course. For the rest of the time, pouring a glass of Prosecco or Cava hits the spot. The Tenuta S.Anna Rosato ‘il Rosa Petillant’ is now one of my new favourites. Ted Hosford, Vancouver

“Blanc” (Evan Saviolidis) helped clarify French AOC a bit. I must confess, though, that I find the whole thing very confusing. If there’s an easy way to understand how the designation system works in Europe, please tell me. I’d love to understand it better. Rose Lenga, Toronto

Tidings uses 10% post-consumer recycled fibres

Nancy Johnson’s Pulled Pork is my new favourite go-to recipe. It’s so easy with a crockpot! For some reason, I always thought it would be hard to make. Since trying it, I’ve made it for a few potluck get-togethers with spectacular results. L. Lewis, email

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

tidingsmag.com

\\ 11


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longing for the beach\\

I know it’s winter but bear with me. My weekends at the beach are always filled with great food, wine and a lot of relaxation. Being so close to the ocean definitely has its benefits and certainly provides us with access to the freshest seafood. My good friend just took over the meat and seafood market on Fire Island and he has done a great job of stepping things up a notch and carrying some of the best and freshest fish around. While I love a quick and easy dish, the things I prepare on the weekends often take a little more time and are far from a 30-minute meal. Diving into a recipe and really focusing on each of the elements in the dish gives me a chance to get a little more intimate with the food and it always results in a tastier dish at the table. This dish calls for some roasting, brining and stewing. I recently started using this process on seafood (e.g., fish and shrimp) before roasting, grilling or pan-frying. In my opinion it imparts better flavour and overall texture. Brining seafood is a quick and easy process because it does not require hours in the brine. It takes about 30 minutes and is very easy to execute. Roasting is another great way to cook fish — especially shrimp. In my opinion it helps to enhance the flavour of the seafood, especially when brushed with olive oil or butter prior to putting it in the oven.

So although this may take some time I am sure you will love the outcome. Keep in mind that if you want your stew to be less spicy it helps to remove the seeds from the peppers after roasting.

Here is what you will need:

4 poblano peppers 2 large sweet onions 10 cloves of roasted garlic 20 baby clams 2 lb of halibut 1 lb large shrimp, uncooked with tails on 1/4 cup Kosher salt 1/4 cup sugar 2 large cans (6 cups total) of diced tomatoes 1 cup of chopped green onion stems (do not use the white part) 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 tbsp lemon zest

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. 2. Wash the poblano peppers and place

onto a cookie sheet. Slice the onions into thick rounds (about a 1/2 inch thick). 3. Place the onions onto the cookie sheet with the peppers and roast both for about 35 to 40 minutes. 4. Remove, let cool, cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds using the back

Simple living

by michael volpatt

of a knife. You can keep the seeds in, but the sauce will be spicier. 5. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the roasted garlic and diced green onions. Sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes, chop the peppers and onions and add to the saucepan; then add the tomatoes. Let cook down for about a 1/2 hour over medium heat. 6. As the sauce cooks down, brine your shrimp and fish. Chop the halibut into bitesized pieces, place the shrimp and fish into a large bowl and cover with water. 7. Add the 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar and mix well. 8. Let rest in the refrigerator for no more than 30 minutes. Remove from the brine and drain well. 9. Place onto a cookie sheet and pat with paper towels to remove the excess liquid from the fish. 10. Add the clams to the pan and cover to cook for about 5 to 7 minutes. 11. Heat the broiler on high and broil the fish and shrimp for 4 to 5 minutes. 12. Add the broiled fish to the stew and let the stew cook for a few more minutes. Discard any clams that do not open. Taste and season with salt and pepper. 13. Make your cilantro gremolata. Combine the garlic, lemon zest and cilantro in a small bowl. 14. Serve the stew over rice and top with a sprinkling of the gremolata. …… Enjoy with a fruity Sauvignon Blanc.

tidingsmag.com

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i say focaccia\\

When we first spoke, Claudio Costi was penning a letter of resignation for his full-time “day job” as a social worker. In 2010, he realized his dream of commercially producing grissini (a.k.a. breadsticks, a 13th-century Italian invention) and he’s enjoyed success selling these and other Italian specialty products at markets around Victoria. Costi emigrated from Milan in 1997, and initially settled in Calgary. Inspired by the Italian import products he found on Canadian store shelves, he returned to Italy in 2003 to learn to bake. This included training with a grissini specialist in Milan (imagine production in the neighbourhood of 20,000 to 30,000 per day). Costi returned to Canada with intimate knowledge of these and other Italian specialties, and began to bake for family and friends. “I saw more and more products in the supermarket coming from Italy, but most were pre-packaged industrialized products. They’re all shipped from Italy, and made in Italy — but the drawback of that is the use of fuel to bring them here, and the use of additives to maintain the product. Apart from a few exceptions, they’re never really specially made. My goal has always been to produce these products here, so that people can taste the same or better than what they’d get if they actually go to Italy,” says Costi. Why (apart from reasons above) should you choose artisan grissini over the machine-produced variety? The slight variations that come with stretching and rolling each one by hand make all the difference. “With stretching by hand, each one is different so you get thinner and thicker parts, and when you’re eating you get different textures in your mouth,” says Costi. He adds that grissini are consumed in Italy they way crackers are in North America — as a snack on their own, or with soft cheeses and cured meats. Prosciutto-wrapped grissini served with cantaloupe, for example, is practically a national dish during summer in Italy.

14 // February/March 2012

umami

by joanne will

In addition to grissini, Costi continually adds new products from different regions of Italy to his roster, including Brut e Bon (“ugly and good”) cookies from Piedmont, Ciottoli D’Abruzzo cookies from the Abruzzo region, Tegole (“roof shingles”) — a flat, crunchy sweet resembling shingles on the houses in Valle D’Aosta, and a Christmas cake from Verona (lesser known but no less tasty than the panettone that floods the market each holiday season). “Some products I introduce are an experiment to understand if people here actually like them. I have Castagnaccio (a Tuscan cake made from chestnut flour, olive oil and milk), for example, which is very unusual; some people love it, some people don’t! I always try to diversify.” In addition to these specialty-baked sweets, Costi regularly produces focaccia and ciabatta breads for local restaurants. He rents a commercial kitchen five nights a week, where he bakes from two until seven a.m. “Everything has to be fresh, so I can only do a limited amount of product at a time.” Il Forno di Claudio is the name of his business — which simply means “Claudio’s oven.” His dream of opening a shop dedicated to producing specialty Italian baking is near; he’s working on securing a location and plans to open for business sometime this year. “Things have gone well, and customers keep coming back. There’s been good feedback. I wanted to start small, and see how things went.” What’s his advice to others with a dream? “You should start, at the beginning, with passion. When you’re driven by passion, you always create success. If the quality is there, and you are passionate, go for it because you will find success. Everyone finds success in a different way; at the moment I am having success because people are coming back.”


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hot choco\\

anything but martinis by sheila swerling-puritt

My favourite liqueurs are those that are great on their own or in harmony with one or two other pourable ingredients to make easy, delicious cocktails. I’ve recently been introduced to two fine examples that meet my rigid requirements and are well suited to cold weather creations. The first is Licor Cuarenta Y Tres. Spanish for 43, it is the number of different ingredients that go into this complex bottling. The recipe reputedly dates back to 200 BCE. The modern version has been produced by Diego Zamora in Cartagena, Murcua, Spain since 1924. In the 1960s Licor 43 was a definite Spanish hit. You could see it on every back bar in Spain, with over half a million cases sold every year. It’s now sold in 55 countries and, finally, in Canada (better late than never). Okay, from Ontario westward right now, but wait until it heads east. For me the predominant flavour is vanilla. Fruit juices, herbs and spices round out the character. Forget buying eggnog. Just use 2% milk and a drop of Licor 43. It gives you the same mouthfeel with that hint of nutmeg. Dust it with dark chocolate powder or more grated nutmeg. The second is Peppermint Mocha from Kahlúa, whose coffee liqueur has been delighting tipplers around the world since 1936. 100% Arabica coffee beans shade-grown in the Veracruz region of Mexico combined with peppermint dark chocolate derived from the finest cocoa beans. True to its name, it has a minty mouthful with a chocolate undertone. It’s very well balanced, and you don’t think you have just had a shot of mouthwash. This is the stuff with which to spike your hot chocolate or whip up a decadent coffee cocktail. It might just replace grappa in my espresso.

valencia hot punch 1 1/2 oz Licor 43 1/2 oz Grand Marnier Liqueur 6 oz Cranberry juice Warm cranberry juice and combine with other ingredients in heatproof glass. Stir. Garnish with a small piece of anise.

kahlúa peppermint mocha hot chocolate Sorry, this recipe isn’t for the children in your family. Only for the young at heart.

2 parts milk 1 part drinking chocolate 1 part Kahlúa Peppermint Mocha Bring milk to a simmer. Whisk in drinking chocolate. Simmer for 30 seconds while stirring. Add Kahlúa. Garnish with peppermint stick and marshmallow. …… If you need something absolutely delicious for St Patrick’s Day, just add an ounce of the Peppermint Mocha along with an ounce of Jameson Irish Whiskey when preparing your Irish coffee.

+ Visit tidingsmag.com/drinks/ for more drink recipes

tidingsmag.com

\\ 17


I’ve grown bored giving my girlfriend flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day. Any thoughts on a liquid alternative? While I’m no Dr Phil, I can pretty much guarantee that if your significant other reads this question — and recognizes you as the one who wrote me — you won’t have to worry about what to get her this time next year. She’s going to be with anyone other than you my friend, smelling roses and popping bonbons. Since you’ve asked for my two cents I’m more than happy to oblige with one word: Champagne. And I’m not talking a faux version from Spain or wherever, or a non-vintage, around $60 dollar version put under cork and crown in the Champagne region either. I’m talking a big gun, a bottle of memories somewhere around the $200-range with a name that both James Bond and Jay-Z would recognize. If we’re on the same page here, in my mind you only have three choices: Moët & Chandon’s muscular Dom Pérignon (the passion juice Sean Connery’s Bond sipped in Goldfinger), Bollinger’s rich and nutty Grande Année (Daniel Craig’s 007 bubbly of choice) or Louis Roederer’s fresh and sophisticated Cristal (the rapper’s delight). I know, it will put a dent in your bank account, but if she’s never thrown back a bottle of serious champers she’ll tell tales of her first time for years to come with you as her liquid hero. If your budget is a tad more pedestrian pick her up a bottle of rosé for a little V-Day colour coordination. Though pink wines get pigeonholed as warm weather back deck quaffers, they can be serious sippers that transcend the seasonal slight. Richer versions from France’s Tavel and Provence regions are worlds away from the tutti frutti flavour profiles of many mainstream blush wines and make a nice combination with chocolate. That is, when you finally figure out that a little candy on Valentine’s Day is really dandy.

18 // February/March 2012

bon vivant

by peter rockwell

My husband is a barbecue fanatic, even in the winter. Since he likes to keep things simple, is there a good all-purpose wine that will match with just about anything he might grill? You have to love the dedication. If I raise the lid on my gas-fired grill more than a half dozen times during the summer I consider myself lucky. That said; I have to admit that more and more folks seem to dig making barbecue a way of culinary life no matter how frightful the weather outside grows. I assume by “simple” that you mean hubby digs himself a hotdog or hamburger more often than he does a fat juicy steak. No worries. A good all-purpose wine will work its magic on the whole menu no matter how laidback or elaborate. My favourite grill mate is something made with Shiraz. The red grape is a brooding, deep-fruited wonder at best and appealingly candied at worst. With black spices and dark berry flavours it’s hard to go wrong with a French version from the northern Rhône region (the grape’s original home) or a structured, jam-infused Aussie creation. A good red fallback position is Merlot. Sure, it might be a bit cliché to suggest the most balanced, juicy grape style to match barbecue fare but the bright and mouth-filling berry fruit of a Californian, Chilean or Italian version is classically outdoorsy. A New World Pinot Noir is choice number three. Mellow, well rounded and, when made well, thick and chewy; it’s more than grape enough to wrestle any condiment-laden backyard fast food menu. On the white side I still like me a Riesling but have found a place in my cold heart for Sauvignon Blanc when I hover over the coals. New Zealand styles tend to be too zingy and clash with the cornucopia of flavours found under a bun. I like a nice Bordeaux white (which softens the SB’s bite with a touch of the Sémillon grape) or straight-ahead version from South America.

+ Ask your questions at bonvivant@tidingsmag.com

Illustration: Matt Daley/Shinypliers.com

flowers and bbq fiend\\


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Sweetness by michael pinkus

Because we are Canadian, the moment somebody speaks of sweet wine we automatically think of Icewine. But sweeties, or stickies as the Aussies call them, aren’t all based on freezing grapes on a vine in minus-10-degree weather (though some fake it by shoving grapes in the freezer). A good sweet wine has to go beyond Manischewitz Concord sweet sacramental — it has to hold the imagination. Sure, it has to offer up sweet flavours, but it also must provide some balancing acidity or you might as well drink maple syrup or chocolate sauce. Surprisingly, both of these products make an appearance in the tasting notes below, but it’s the acidity within the sweetie that helps keep it from being a cloying mess of goo. Many will tell you to pour sweet wine over ice cream or fruit at dessert time, but I say that a good sweet wine is good all on its own — or if you must pair it, a simple thing like biscotti will do the trick nicely. For those with a penchant for the expensive sweeties, the Sauternes of Bordeaux come to mind — those Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon blends with botrytis-infected grapes … but have you ever seen such a grape? Why men decided to pick and ferment them remains a mystery, but so many are glad they did. Dessert/ sweet wines sometimes journey into more interesting and exotic realms, and I’m not just talking about Ports and Sherries either. These sweeties are made in every corner of the world, because where there is fermentation, there is sugar. Some opt to ferment dry (as in the table wine you have with dinner), and then there are those who see beyond dinner, into the place where you find dessert and after dinner drinks. It is those who believe that leaving a little sugar behind isn’t a bad thing. And I think … I think they’re right.

The notes …

Gonzalez Byass Noe, Spain ($29.95/375 ml)

This is the ultimate sweet sherry, made with the Pedro Ximenez grape. This beauty shows off caramel and sweet coffee notes amongst pecan pie filling.

20 // February/March 2012

Bottega Gianduia Crema Fior di Latte e Grappa, Italy ($24.95)

Call me a sucker for white chocolate (and don’t give me no guff about it not being “real chocolate”) — this baby’s the real thing, like it or not. Creamy-smooth and full of rich chocolate taste, this is like a glass of feeling better. It’s grappa like you’ve never imagined it.

Bottega Gianduia Crema Cioccolato Gianduia e Grappa, Italy ($27)

I don’t usually confuse grappa with wine; it’s a spirit, after all. And I don’t usually think of it as sweet, either, but this chocolaty treat needs to fall into some category. With hazelnut, caramel and chocolate all making an appearance, where would you put it?

Muskoka Lakes Red Maple, Ontario ($23.85/375 ml)

A wine made from tart red cranberries and sweet, smooth maple syrup, blended together in a unique combination to make the aptly named Red Maple. It should come as no surprise that your first whiff is cranberries, but then you’ll pick up an undercurrent of cinnamon, nutmeg and finally, apple cider. The taste doesn’t stray far from the nose: cranberry apple juice with a drop of cinnamon maple syrup, without being syrupy-sweet. In fact, it tastes amazingly less sweet than what you’d expect. It starts off cranberry-tart, turns apple cider-sweet in the midpalate and finishes with some cinnamon spiciness.

Moon Shadow Strawberry Shortcake, Ontario ($9.95/200 ml) Tastes like strawberries with a hint of sweetness. Or better yet, remember the wonderful strawberry-flavoured milk that was the by-product of that children’s cereal, Frankenberry? Now it’s yours to have in the glass, with alcohol. Smooth and creamy in the mouth, but not as thick as a glass of strawberry milk. A delicious after-dinner drink … and frightfully good.


Osbourne Pedro Ximenez 1827 Sweet Sherry, Spain ($17.95)

For those who think of sherry in the super-dry grandma’s-nighttipple kinda way, think again. This is thick and sweet, like the innards of pecan or raisin pie.

Lenz Moser Prestige Trockenbeerenauslese 2008, Austria ($19.95/375 ml) Winemaker at lenz moser, Ernest Grossauer

Moon Shadow Maple Sugar, Ontario ($10.95/200 ml)

The taste of maple sugar in liquid form. The wine passes through the mouth quickly with a short, yet luscious, finish. The smell might be a little off-putting to those who do not like Port or sherry, as it resembles their distinct qualities, but in the mouth, the wine is thick and rich, with a pure maple sugar finish.

The perfect dessert wine to get your gums a flappin’. Apricot marmalade, honeyed pears and candied apple, all with an acidity that cleans the palate for the next sip. Stunningly delicious.

Sivipa Moscatel de Setubal 2008, Portugal ($15.95)

Exotic fruit, toffee and a hint of citrus wrapped in honey, with a kick of spice on the finish. Not to be passed up, especially for the price.

Southbrook Framboise, Ontario ($15.95/375 ml)

Fruit wine gets absolutely no respect, but once you get a sip of this raspberry sweetie you’ll find yourself falling in love and wondering not only about drinking it, but how to incorporate it into your cooking and desserts.

Nalewka Babuni Cherry, Poland ($14.05)

This is something your parents might remember, but the way they’ll tell it, grandpa used to “make something similar” — it’s cherry through and through, and delicious at that. Look for the unique square bottle with the red knob on top.

Torres Floralis Moscato d’Oro, Spain ($16.95/500 ml)

An absolutely stunning dessert wine with flavours of spiced orange peel, cinnamon, and poached bosc pear, all balanced with great acidity. Just a lovely after-dinner sipper.

Kourtaki Mavrodaphne de Patras, Greece ($14.95)

This tawny wine has sweet prune, cherry, and raspberry notes on the nose, with dried red fruit character in the mouth — so Port-like if I poured it for you blind you’d swear it was the real thing.

Quady Essensia Orange Muscat 2010, California ($13.95/375 ml) Orange blossom, vanilla notes, and honeyed apricots all finishing with a lovely spice.

Wendy Hogarth from Muskoka Lakes Winery

Grant Burge 10 Year Old Tawny, Australia ($30.95)

Proving that not all “Port” comes from Portugal … but then again, this can’t be called Port either. The Aussies have been making sweeties for a while, and it shows with this lovely hit of dried cherries and almonds.

Lilly Pilly Estates Noble Blend, Australia ($30)

The most memorable sweetie I’ve ever tried. It has been a while since this wine has been in the Canadian market, but this fake Sauternes is worth its weight in gold. Lilly Pilly does not make this wine every year, but when the weather cooperates it’s a real blessing (especially for the consumer). Exotic flavours and tropical aromas all baked and honey-like with the right balancing acidity, this is one to watch out for. •

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Will the old be new again? Chenin Blanc’s passionate advocates aim to make it South Africa’s flagship white. Chenin Blanc is one of those grapes that does not always get the respect it deserves. In its original heartland, the Loire region of France, it produces some of the greatest and longestlived sweet wines on earth. Even there, though, the grape has frequently played second fiddle to Sauvignon Blanc (think Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé). Similarly, the fine, Chenin-based sparkling wines of Vouvray and Saumur have always had to contend with that other bubbly from Champagne. Sadly, in recent years, many Chenin vines have been pulled up in favour of other, more fashionable varieties. Jancis Robinson, widely acknowledged as a leading authority on wine grapes, calls Chenin Blanc “probably the world’s most versatile grape variety.” It seems strange then that its qualities and potential are not more widely appreciated. Perhaps part of the problem is that the grape’s strengths can also be its weaknesses. This has been especially true in the New World, no more so than in South Africa, where it was traditionally known as “Steen.” The grape’s long history in South Africa likely began with the arrival in the 1600s of Huguenot settlers from France. Despite having fallen out of favour more recently, Chenin Blanc continues to be the country’s most widely planted variety, white or red. What then is the problem? In South Africa, when the focus was on quantity rather than quality, Chenin produced very high yields of “cheap and cheerful” wine with relative ease, making it a natural workhorse grape. It also has high natural acidity, which it retains even in the warmer climate of the region. This is a huge asset where ripening conditions typically lead to lower acidity. It was all too easy to blend Chenin with other varieties to produce well-balanced inexpensive blends. Subsequently, with a major push to improve wine quality, the perception of Chenin as a high yielding, blue-collar grape rapidly pushed it to the sidelines. The trend gained added impetus with the lifting of Apartheid-era embargos, which opened new opportunities for quality South African wines in international markets. Growers were able to double their income by growing more respected varieties like Sauvignon Blanc. There was a lot of pressure to pull out what were sometimes very old vines in order to plant more profitable varieties.

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85 Man Vintners Chenin Blanc 2009, Coastal Region ($12) Tropical, citrus and ripe melon scents with clean citrus flavour on the palate, secondary tropical and melon notes and a crisp, mineral finish.

sive flavours embrace crisp peach, citrus and a hint of tropical fruit. Lively acidity and austere minerality are counterbalanced by a layer of creaminess. A fine combination of Old World understatement with subtle New World ripeness.

90 Raats Chenin Blanc 2009, Stellenbosch ($14)

87 Leopard’s Leap Chenin Blanc 2008, Western Cape ($15)

Green apple, citrus and steely mineral on the nose, delivering a similar fruit profile in the mouth, but with a touch of sweet ripeness. Dynamic acid balance, a firm mineral note and a lick of creamery butter on the finish. A lovely wine that hearkens back to the Loire heritage of the variety.

Lemon drop candy scent with honeyed and vanilla notes. Lemon butter, a splash of vanilla and spicy lemon butter finish. Richness is countered by brisk acidity and gravelly mineral.

89 Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2008, Stellenbosch ($18) Piquant aromatic bouquet highlights lemon/lime, tropical fruit and stony mineral. Fresh ripe yellow fruit backed by a squeeze of lime, vibrant acidity and mineral grip fills the mouth. Succulent fruit and refreshing acidity linger on the palate.

91 Ken Forrester The FMC (Forrester Meinert Chenin) Chenin Blanc 2008, Stellenbosch ($45) Hand selected grapes, mainly from low yielding old bush vines planted in 1974, are fermented in new French oak barrels using natural wild yeast, and matured on the lees for 12 months. Rich toasty butter, citrus, tropical fruit and subtle fine spice on the nose. Citrus and tropical fruit themes flow through on the palate, harmoniously balanced with well-modulated acidity. Despite weight, shows surprisingly delicate fruit, lingering floral notes and discreet oak on the finish.

90 Rudera De Tradisie Chenin Blanc 2009, Stellenbosch ($18) Opulent aromatics proffer citrus and tropical fruit, a hint of mineral, vanilla and a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. More restrained on the palate, with pleasingly austere mineral grip and crisp acidity toning down ripe fruit and buttery richness. A big, complex wine to pair with grand dishes like Lobster Thermidor.

91 Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2010, Coastal Region ($20) Harvested from high altitude old bush vines that ripened well in 2010, this one presents an elegantly restrained bouquet with stone fruit and tropical, floral and mineral notes. Boldly expres-

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88 Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2010, Western Cape ($14) Tropical fruit, ripe grapefruit and a whiff of mineral on the nose, with yellow and citrus fruit flavours, mineral, a touch of honey and zesty acidity. Just a trace of residual sweetness on the long finish.

88 False Bay Chenin Blanc 2009, Western Cape ($14) This modestly priced version is aged on the lees and offers complex green fruit and creamy brioche on the nose with lively fruit, brisk acidity and mineral zest wrapped up in creamy richness on the palate. All elements are well integrated on the finish.

92 Kanu Kia Ora Noble Late Harvest 2006, Stellenbosch ($25/375 ml) Chenin is the main grape here, though the blend is unspecified (in the 2003 vintage Chenin was supplemented with 15% HĂĄrslevelĂź, the aromatic Hungarian variety). Complex, botrytis-influenced aromatic profile presents both lemon and orangey citrus with intense floral and honeyed notes. In the mouth, sweet, richly complex citrus, honey, caramel and spice are dynamically balanced with lively acidity and firm mineral. Lingering, very complex finish.

95 De Morgenzon Chenin Blanc 2007, Stellenbosch ($20) Produced from old, low-yielding bush vines in mountain vineyards influenced by cool oceanic breezes. Best bunches are hand picked. Free run juices are fermented with wild yeasts in French oak barrels, lightly filtered and bottled without stabilization. Shows burnished gold colour and oily viscosity in the glass. Intensely ripe citrus and tropical fruit and unctuously rich, buttery, spicy character with appetizingly bright acidity and lean, stony mineral. Although the grape is different, the richness combined with focused acidity and minerality remind you of Grand Cru Burgundy or top California Chardonnay. A great wine.


enter the association

Chenin Blanc has a core of passionate supporters among South Africans, most important among them an active group of the country’s most respected producers. About a decade ago they formed an association, which now has close to 70 members. One of the association’s key goals is exploring ways to market this grape as the country’s flagship white. As recently as November 2011, the group held a conference in Stellenbosch that focused on just how to make this idea a reality.

aged, the variety will produce consistent quality, as it is well adapted to South African conditions, windy summers, and an abundance of sunlight.

styling

Chenin is so adaptable, it can grow in almost any conditions present in South Africa. “It starts with what style you want to make,” says Groenewald. “If you want minerality, weathered granite from Stellenbosch will do the trick. For rich ripe tropical flavours, you will source more grapes in the Dryland, Malmesbury Agter-Paarl region. Also, I

Bellingham’s winemaker Niel Groenewald and viticulturalist Stephan Joubert

Savvy wine people, especially those with experience in international markets, recognise that South Africa needs its own, clearly identifiable emblematic varieties. New Zealand has cornered the market on Sauvignon, Argentina has its Malbec, Chile has Carmenère, and even the small Canadian wine industry is clearly identified by its Icewine. Among reds, South Africa does have Pinotage, but no white grape has yet established a uniquely South African personality. The case for this uprooted grape is very strong. It is more widely planted in South Africa and in more disparate terroirs than in its native France, or for that matter, anywhere else. I had the opportunity to speak about this with Niel Groenewald, the well-respected winemaker for Bellingham, and a prominent member of the Chenin Blanc Association. In his view, the varietal’s reputation as a workhorse grape must be addressed. If yields are controlled, or the age of the vines increases, he says, quality is vastly superior. He also points out that if properly man-

have made some interesting Chenin from the Darling Hills, deep red soils approximately 10 kilometers from the cold Atlantic Ocean, offering cool sea breezes to lengthen the ripening process. The highest quality comes from vineyards that are naturally in balance. This mainly comes from vineyard age and correct farming practices.” Groenewald also points to the fact that Jancis Robinson describes Chenin Blanc as a noble variety because of its ability to generate secondary and tertiary flavours. “The wine,” he says, “really just gets better with age. Not only the sweet wines but the drier styles too. I did a vertical of the Bernard series, my own super premium Chenin Blanc made from 40-year-old bush vines, with a winemaker friend from Vouvray. We tasted from 2004 to 2011. 2004 is still drinking very well, unheard of for South African dry whites.” I tasted a cross section of South African Chenin Blancs in a variety of styles. The results speak for themselves. Several earned some of the highest scores I have ever awarded. •

Q uality and

Tradition, from one generation to the next

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s -H ly n E va n by C a r o

ammond

At dinner parties around the world, Pinotage is picking up traction with wine lovers; swirling and sniffing; and pairing it with everything from wellhung beef to game birds. In short, it’s no longer the pour pshawed in polite company.

As Pinotage fans out into a range of seriously compelling styles, swinging from rugged and rustic reds fit for fire-roasted feasts to easier-drinking styles that are about as accessible as a harlot’s boudoir, gastronomes are taking interest. The big question is, what foods go best with Pinotage? So I polled my peers — other wine and food folk — for their thoughts on the matter. Here’s what they said:

David Lawrason

A leading Canadian authority on wine who has written on wine for more than 20 years. Currently wine columnist for Toronto Life Pinotage huh! To me pure Pinotage (without heavy oak) is like tart red fruit —pomegranate, cran-strawberry. Like Pinot Noir but wilder. I would match it to rich game fowl — quail, squab, emu, ostrich, pheasant or duck. Notice I have resisted the temptation to say ‘springbok’ which is apparently widely available on South African menus. By the way, a springbok is a brown and white gazelle that can run up to 90 km/hr, leap 3.5 m, and long jump up to 15 m. Good luck catching one.

Beppi Crosariol

Wine columnist for The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years and former food columnist there Though it’s a cross of Pinot [Noir] and Cinsault, I find it’s more rugged than either, not entirely French in character but something uniquely South African.

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I think it tends to stand up well to hearty meats, especially beef or game stews, including ones with aromatic spicing. I think chili, which can be fatal to most other reds, is a suitable match if you want to steer clear of belly-busting beer. Interestingly, some people, including me, melt a bit of dark chocolate into their chili as a ‘secret ingredient.’ Some of the new-style, oak-heavy Pinotages, like ‘Café Culture’ and “Mooiplaas The Coffee Bean Pinotage,’ can taste strongly of chocolate or cocoa. So, I guess there’s a culinary precedent. I think there’s one called ‘Coffee Chocolate Pinotage.’ And spicy Buffalo-style chicken wings, supposedly a red-wine no-fly zone, can work. One reason I think it does justice to wings is that the varietal sometimes displays a jab of acidity that suggests acetone. Naysayers have criticized the grape for it, but in moderation it can be attractive, like a nice, subtle raspberry vinegar but still a wine with guts and body. Buffalo wings match Pinotage in that tangy, nose-tickling department. So, I suppose you could say the wings do justice to the wine as much as vice versa. In this case, I’d chill the wine slightly, as you might a Beaujolais.

Tony Aspler

>A  braham Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch, first bred the variety in 1925 when he crossed Pinot Noir with Cinsault.

James Suckling

> Cinsault produces large quantities of mediocre wine: supple, juicy, and cherry-like with hints of muskiness. Pinot Noir is, of course, a notoriously challenging grape that can produce sublime, satiny, ageworthy wines inbued with strawberry, raspberry and beetroot notes that gain complexity with age.

Wine critic, was wine columnist for The Toronto Star for 21 years and has authored 16 books on wine and food With Pinotage, I always get that smoky tarry taste. It’s hard to match. I would go with red meat with spicy marinated barbecue flavours. Chipotle works well.

Wine critic, held position of Senior Editor and European Bureau Chief of Wine Spectator for about 30 years Pinotage is a tricky one. Sometimes I can’t get around the rubbery, tire component in the nose. I like the Rhône-like nuances to it though. So I think anything grilled, or even Cajun, would be amazing with an excellent Pinotage. In fact, I am going to try some tongue tacos with one over the holidays! [He was referring to the Christmas holidays when this story was being written.]

> Pinotage is no longer unique to South Africa. Canada, New Zealand, Israel, Zimbabwe, Australia, Brazil, Cyprus and the United States all produce small volumes of this variety now. > Although most Pinotage we see is red, dry table wine, the variety also makes sparkling wine, rosé and sweet styles. tidingsmag.com

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Peter Richards MW

Jamie Drummond

One of Canada’s leading sommeliers whose CV includes wine director for chef Jamie Kennedy’s restaurants and sommelier for Toronto’s private Granite Club There are two styles really. Old style Pinotage with that smoky funky element and new style Pinotage without the smoke and funk, which tends to be more delicate and lighter. I would pair old style Pinotage with pheasant and trotter pie and new style Pinotage with smoked herring, bacon and mash — both from Fergus Henderson’s St John Restaurant in London [England]. At home I would pair a lighter style Pinotage with grilled sturgeon with some salt, pepper, lemon and maybe some herbs.”

Zoltan Szabo

One of Canada’s leading sommeliers, he is also a wine consultant and educator Pinotage is highly versatile in my view. I favour Pinotage with everything from game birds to duck to smoked meats. Even a pasta dish with a tangy tomato sauce or meat sauce could handle a lighter-style of Pinotage very well while more structured ones work well with cozy winter food like roasts and braises.

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Respected London-based wine critic and founder of Winchester Wine School I’m afraid I’m no expert on (or great fan of ) Pinotage, even in its myriad different styles. When it tends more to the lighter, edgier Pinot character, I’d put it with pan-fried tuna and romesco [a Catalan sauce made from almond, pine nuts and/or hazelnuts, roasted garlic, olive oil, and nyora peppers, which are a small, sweet, dried variety of red bell pepper.] When fuller, smokier/ ashen I’d either avoid it (!) or go a bit more stereotypical and use it to wash down barbecued meats or baba ganoush.

Anne Martin

Sommelier and wine critic who writes for Canadian Living and House & Home magazines The natural pairing is red meat cooked over a wood-burning fire or charcoal grilled, which dovetails with the Braai tradition in South Africa [braai is Afrikaans for barbecue or grill]. I would put Pinotage with ribs, steak, or things that have a bit of spice or marinade. If it’s a very good quality Pinotage, it’s always best to keep the foods somewhat plain though and let the wine do its thing.

Karen Dawson

Sommelier at Nota Bene Restaurant in Toronto Pinotage would pair well with chef [David] Lee’s suckling pig and boudin noir tart. The gaminess of the wine compliments the unctuous boudin noir. And, with bacon, truffle, arugula and taleggio cheese atop a crisp puff pastry, the Pinotage will cut through the rich decadence of the plate. •


r e co mm e n d

at i o n s

KWV Café Culture Pinotage 2010 _ $14

With warm, compelling aromas of sugared espresso, this wine is immediately quirky and engaging. A quick lick of freshly roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and black peppercorn flavours wrap around a core of juicy black-cherry-and-plum fruit. Dry, well balanced, and clean. Full bodied with 14.5% alcohol. Coffee lovers rejoice. If you like this style of wine, other coffee-scented Pinotages to try include Barista Pinotage and Mooiplaas The Bean Coffee Pinotage. Food pairing: Dark chocolate

Kanonkop Kadette 2009 _ $14

This tightly-knit blend of 46% Pinotage, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc starts with a nose of grilled meat, red and black liquorice, and fresh berries. Then, on the palate, smoked blueberry and crushed blackberry notes with tones of musk, caramelized meat juices, bonfire pit, and black peppercorn. Delicious. Balanced. Long and lush with a seamless structure supported by ripe tannins and balanced acidity and alcohol. Food pairing:

Pan-roasted duck breast

Sebeka Shiraz Pinotage “Cape Blend” 2009 _ $12

Pull the leopard print stopper on this wine and pour yourself a glass of great sensual appeal. Starting with smoked blackberries on the nose, this wine moves swiftly across the palate with velvety smoothness — meat, berries and spice. Very good value blend of 58% Shiraz and 42% Pinotage, offering a great way to spend a firelit evening.   Food pairing: Flame-grilled steak, or even a hamburger

Les Ruines Eilandia Pinotage 2010 _ $16

Burnt rubber and tar on the nose leads to a palate laden with black liquorice, dark chocolate and black forest fruits, tapering toward a long, chocolaty-espresso finish. Thoroughly enjoyed this wine. Savoury, sensuous and supple. Elegant. Mediumto full-bodied with 13.5% alcohol. Food pairing: Roasted beef tenderloin

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Pressure by evan saviolidis

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Let me explain. Technically, Old World refers to the traditional European wine growing countries, which are ardent believers in terroir. South Africa is unique in the sense that it hosts a myriad of microclimates, topography and soils — or if you will, terroirs. Second, stylistically, the best wines show the ripe fruit of the New World but also an Old World structure and elegance. Third, the country has over 350 years of winemaking history. So, I guess what I am saying is that SA is unique, and has inherited the best of both worlds. The genesis of South African wine is with the Dutch East Indian Company, who, in 1652, established a re-supply station in Cape Town for boats heading eastward to India. In 1655, the colony’s first commander, Jan Van Riebeeck (a surgeon), planted

ed by Constantia, helped propel sales in Great Britain, especially after Britannia took control of the Cape. By 1859, 1 million gallons of wine were being exported to Britain. One year later, the good times had come to an end. A new Anglo-Franco trade agreement gave preferential treatment to French wine. Compounded with the arrival of phylloxera in 1866, exports dried up. Many gave up grape pursuits, replanting with other cash crops. After 20 years, growers finally rebuilt the industry, concentrating primarily on high yielding varietals such as Cinsault. By the turn of the century, 80 million vines had been planted, and a wine lake had been created. The unfathomable excess of wine was literally poured into the rivers.

Whenever one of my students asks me whether South Africa is Old World or New World, my answer is an empathetic “Yes!” the first vineyard, with the intent to produce grapes and wine to ward off scurvy, which was rampant on all ships. Interestingly, it is all believed that the very first cuttings came from Eastern France, including Chenin Blanc (known locally as Steen), which to this very day is SA’s signature grape (see page 22). The first harvest was in 1659, but was not considered successful, due to the lack of Dutch experience in the realm of wine production. Better times came with the colony’s first Governor, Simon van der Stel, who, disheartened with the “revolting sourness” of the wines, decided to plant the now-fabled Constantia wine estate, in 1685, south of Cape Town. Concurrently, French Huguenots, fleeing religious persecution, started to arrive, with their winemaking traditions and expertise. They founded the Franschhoek wine region in Paarl. Stellenbosch was also planted by the end of the decade. Sadly, after the passing of Van der Stel, Constantia fell into disarray until 1778, when the estate was purchased by talented winemaker Hendrik Cloote. His Muscat dessert wine became the stuff of legend, spoken of in reverence, alongside d’Yquem and the finest Tokajis. The positive perception of SA wine, creat-

Ken Forrester

The solution was the creation of the Co-operative Wine Grower’s Assocaition (KWV), with the backing of the government. Essentially, it saved the industry from disaster, by implementing production quotas and prices, distilling half the countries’ annual production and blending the remaining surplus wines for export.

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For the remainder of the 20th century, South Africa remained in isolation because of boycotts that arose from apartheid. After abolishment in the ‘90s, producers found themselves in the position of playing catch-up with the rest of the winemaking world. New viticulture and vinification techniques began to arrive, like better grape clones, low yields, stainless steel, and new oak … and so did the flying winemakers, who brought international polish to the wines. Expansion also started into the cooler, more undiscovered areas such as Walker Bay and Elgin, giving rise to cool climate whites and Pinots. Also, with the transformation of the KWV into a private corporation, producers who relied on the antiquated price fixing/quota system to make an easy living had to change their philosophy to a qualitative one, or fade away under competition. Today, quality continues to increase. At the Cape Wine Fair in England late last year, I had the chance to taste upwards of 200 wines, and was blown away. For whites, Chenin Blanc (Steen) in both its crisp/fruit driven and oak treated versions was the star. Runner up was Chardonnay, followed by Sauvignon Blanc; the best dry versions are akin to the New Zealand style and the stickies draw a parallel to Sauternes.

winemaker at Bouchard Finlayson, Peter Finlayson

The genesis of South African wine is with the Dutch East Indian Company, who, in 1652, established a resupply station in Cape Town for boats heading eastward to India.

Frans Smit, winemaker for Spier

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Syrah is the most homogenous of all the reds, showing great colour and aromatics in both cooler and warmer climates. All things being equal, the overall best reds were the premium Cabernet Sauvignon/Bordeaux blends. My vote for surprise varietal is Pinotage. Historically, I have never been kind to the grape, describing it as the south end of a north facing bull on a hot Texas day. This was no doubt due to the inferior offerings we generally see in Ontario. But what was once my enemy is now my friend, and I have come to truly appreciate the quality now being produced. New Pinotages are more fruit driven and less bitter than their predecessors. Another pleasant surprise was the Cape Vintage Reserve Ports. Made from Portuguese varietals, they easily pass for (and best) many Iberian versions. As for the Pinot Noirs, many were good, few were great. Indeed, South Africa is awash in diversity and quality, regardless if you prefer old or new styles. Here are my top picks currently available in Canada. •


red

92 De Toren Fusion V 2009, Coastal Region ($45)

white

94 Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2010, Walker Bay ($20) This is the finest Chenin to have ever crossed my lips. Made from 30-plus-year-old vines, it is a full bodied offering that was given partial new barrel treatment and bâtonnage, but no malolactic, so as to preserve the backbone of acidity. It is a lush and complex wine with honey, minerals, flowers, wet wool/botrytis, passion fruit, grapefruit, cinnamon and vanilla. With an extremely long finish, it will age well for the next 4 to 5 years, but no need to wait.

The latest vintage of Fusion V is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Franc, 11% Malbec, 10% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot. Full-bodied, the layers of plum, vanilla, black cherry, violets, spice, coffee and mocha just inundate the senses. Incredibly youthful, it requires another four years of aging before being re-visited. Drink until 2020.

92 Kanonkop Pinotage 2009, Stellenbosch ($39) This benchmark South African Pinotage really sings in the 2009 vintage. The bouquet of toast, vanilla, violets, cassis, game and menthol carries onto the palate, with added nuances of root beer and plums. Excellent length, superb concentration and firm tannins will ensure 20 years of longevity.

88 Spier Private Collection Shiraz 2008, Stellenbosch ($25) A soft and approachable Shiraz, revealing violets, spice, plums and mocha fudge. A lengthy aftertaste and easy tannins round it out.

91 Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2009, Franschhoek ($45) The opaque black colour is the harbinger of a full-bodied wine. Plum, fresh cracked black pepper, herbs, kirsch, violets are layered on a thick texture, which envelopes the formidable tannins. It will age for 15 years, sans problème.

92 De Westhof The Site Chardonnay 2009, Robertson ($12)

90 Boekenhoutskloof Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Franschhoek ($45)

De Westhof is a Chardonnay specialist located in the warm Robertson region. This single vineyard offering is extremely ripe, showcasing a nose of banana, golden apples, pineapple, white flowers, honey, vanilla and a touch of wet wool. Mid-weight, it is concentrated with impressive length and soft acidity, allowing for immediate consumption.

Boekenhoutskloof does it again in 2009. This Cab is beautiful, with a beguiling bouquet of black fruits, mint, violets, vanilla, garam masala and cocoa. The firm texture will ensure a decade, if not more, of life.

89 The Winery of Good Hope Vinum Chenin Blanc 2009, Stellenbosch ($14) Superb value here, as this mid weight Chenin serves up a bouquet of golden apple, pear and citrus with a subtle back drop of oak, in the form of spice, vanilla and hazelnut.

88 Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc 2010, Stellenbosch ($18) This perennial favourite hits the mark with apple juice, minerals, melon, white flowers, white peach and a subtle spice. It is dry with a medium body and very good length.

88 Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2009, Walker Bay ($52) Stylistically, this is an overripe Pinot Noir, with loads of raisins, dried cherries and prunes. Mushrooms and spice undertones add complexity. There is very good length and it is ready to drink.

87 Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap 2009, Western Cape ($13.95) Very good value! This blend of 65% Syrah, 32% Mourvèdre and 3% Viognier is an easy-drinking offering with savoury qualities of herbs and pepper, as well as dark berry fruit and flowers. Soft tannins and fresh acid makes for a perfect partner with coq au vin or grilled bison filet.

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“I will leave my by Tod Stewart

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She said this quite matter-of-factly, as if the notion of leaving any of her wines back at the Velenosi winery was tantamount to abuse.

I complimented her on her child-rearing skills as I left to scout the room. Sure, I was there to taste some fine vino, but I also wanted to meet up with Velenosi and a few other new friends I’d made during a tour of Italy’s Le Marche a month or so previous. Before the trip I admittedly knew very little about the region and (outside of the ubiquitous Verdicchio in the amphora-shaped bottle) its wines. And if a self-proclaimed “wine guy” like me didn’t know much about the place, what about far less geeky wine-loving Canadians? Seeing people like Velenosi, Alighiero Fausti from Tenuta De Angelis, Massimiliano Bartolomei from Società Agricola Ciù Ciù and, a few days earlier, the effervescent Marilena Cocci Grifoni from Tenuta Cocci Grifoni, brought back memories of a week of sun, sand, surf, fantastic food, impressive wines and terrific hospitality so vivid I

felt momentarily transported back. And if all those things appeal to you, too, then mark a trip to Le Marche down on your bucket list. Abutting the teal Adriatic and kissed by Emilia-Romagna to the north, Tuscany and Umbria to the west, and Abruzzo and Lazio due south and southwest, respectively, Le Marche’s mountains, hills and valleys spread over an area of approximately 9,700 kilometres divided into five provinces. I was fortunate to spend my time in the southernmost province of Ascoli Picenos. From my seaside hotel room I would watch palm trees swaying in the constant, cooling breeze (though it was nearing the end of September, the temperature was still summerlike), lulled by the rhythm of the sea, a glass of Passerina Spumante (sparkling) in one hand and a plate of Olive

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I lounged by the pool with the wines of Domodimonti winemaker Carlo Ferrini,

contemplating what the English phrase for questa è la vita might be,

finally settling on “This is the life.” all’Ascolana (stuffed, fried olives) by my side as the sun set. By day, I had the pleasure of visiting historic towns, sampling local cuisine and wine and introducing myself to some amazing people. I was surprised by plenty of what I saw and tasted. But perhaps what surprised me the most was why so few people (apparently) knew of this region’s often-exceptional wines. Wines that we will hopefully be seeing more of in Canada. And with the help of the Consorzio Vini Picenos, we just might. I chatted with Bartolomei in the office of the Consorzio (he is the president of the organization) in the historic town of Offida. He is extremely passionate about the region, its history and the quality of its wines, but admitted that up till now, not much had been done to promote them. While part of the mandate of the 38-member strong Consorzio, which was established in 2002, is to ensure

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wine quality levels remain high, it also is determined to sing their praises to the rest of Italy and beyond. Now, I said that I “chatted” with Bartolomei. Truth be told, I chatted with him via a third party. The Marche is less touristy than, say, Tuscany, and subsequently you have a harder time finding English-speaking types. This is something to consider if you plan on paying a visit. My Italian is mostly non-existent. Luckily, my translating (and transportation) needs were attended to by the young and rather charming Angelica D’Andrea, without whose linguistic abilities, navigational prowess and overall professionalism I would have been culturally as well as physically lost. After you stroll through scenic Offida, you might, as we did, plunk yourself down in the cozy confines of Bartolomei’s Cantina del Picchio restaurant for dinner, and


perhaps taste one or two of the wines of Ciù Ciù. Meals in Ascoli Pinceno (as I’m sure they are in other parts of Italy) are multi-course affairs and unless you show some discipline and pace yourself accordingly, you’ll be stuffed halfway through (as I was). It was here that I was first introduced (and became addicted) to the previously mentioned Olive all’Ascolana. Be sure to try them. Kudos if you are able to leave any on the plate. Ten wines later (Me having just a taste or two? Right…) I was in a rather pleasant state of surprise once again. While most Canadian wine lovers are probably familiar with the aforementioned white Verdicchio, I was wowed by the diverse range before me, including some serious, complex reds typically blended from Montepulciano and Sangiovese and/or Cabernet. I had, until now, ascribed to the formula that Marche wine = white wine. This formula was obviously seriously flawed. In any case, in this part of the Marche, the Verdicchio grape is usurped in importance by the dynamic white duo of Pecorino and Passerina. Not a pairs skating team, Pecorino and Passerina are in fact the grape varieties that typically end up in the white wines of Ascoli Picenos. While the higheracid Passerina is often used for Spumante wines (like Ciù Ciù’s crisp, floral, anise-tinged AltaMarea Passerina Spumante) its crisp, citrusy, peachy, mildly nutty profile can be found in a range of still white wines that you will have the pleasure of discovering. As pleasant as Passerina can be, I took to Pecorino with more enthusiasm. Native to the Marche (though planted in other regions and under different names), Pecorino yields wines that range from crisp and subtle with notes of liquorice and vanilla — like the Rugaro Percorino 2010 I tasted at La Cantina dei Coli Rapini — to something that comes off as a cross between a rich Alsace Pinot Gris and an aromatic Viognier (as did the intensely aromatic, rich,

viscous and spicy Iosonogaia Pecorino 2007 from Le Caniette that clocked in at 15 per cent alcohol). I wanted to learn more about this intriguing grape. And, as luck would have it, I would be introduced to someone with an intimate knowledge of it the next day.

“Women are the strength here,” D’Andrea emphasized as we pulled into the driveway of Tenuta Cocci Grifoni. The weather, while warm, had been delivering a mixed bag of mostly rain. Since the region hadn’t seen any for close to two months, it immediately became apparent to everyone that I was, in fact, responsible for it. However, Dottoressa Cocci Griffoni assured me, as she led us into the winery, that skies would be clear for the rest of the week. And true to her word, they were. “Pecorino is a variety native to the Marche, but one that was almost lost,” Cocci Griffoni explained to me over glasses of the winery’s luscious, honeyed, mineral-laced Colle Vecchio 2010 Pecorino and the slightly richer and earthier 2008. She noted that the roots of this indigenous vine could be traced back to 1871. Yet, it was not until 2001 — and almost exclusively due to the efforts of Guido Cocci Griffoni (the winery’s founder) — that wines made from this grape were granted official DOC status. If (or should I say, when) you visit Tenuta Cocci Griffoni, and many of the region’s other wineries, you’ll notice that effort is concentrated primarily on research, development and what ultimately goes into the bottle. Some, including the co-operative La Cantina dei Colli Ripani are of considerable size. Others, like Tenuta De Angelis, Ciù Ciù and the sleek, compact Le Caniette, are family owned and operated and craft a single line of wines. In contrast, wineries like Vinicola Carassanese and Collevite - Cantine della Marca have two or more tiers designed to cater to different segments of the market.

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The latter even offers a range of artisan beers, some incorporating red or white wine to up the flavour ante. However, with most of these, the emphasis is on function rather than form. Things take on a bit of a new dimension at Domodimonti. One of the first things you’ll notice — other than the fact that the winery, perched hundreds of feet up the side of a hill, looks like something out of Napa Valley — is that it flies both Canadian and Italian flags. As it turns out, owner Francesco Bellini was born in Ascoli Piceno but moved to Montreal at the age of 21. Having made a considerable fortune in the pharmaceutical industry and garnering as many accolades as could be dealt, Bellini now divides his time between Montreal, Shanghai, Miami and, of course, Ascoli, and is both a Canadian and Italian citizen. Unlike the United States, in Canada, he says, “you don’t have to become a part of the melting pot, because in Canada the roots and culture of all nationalities are respected.” The winery is an architectural showcase. Complete with luxurious guest suites, swimming pool and a staffed, gourmet kitchen, it would be an ideal spot for a corporate retreat. Or a retreat, period. After a terrific lunch prepared by said kitchen and a tasting of a range of winemaker Carlo Ferrini’s impeccably-crafted wines, we lounged by the pool, glasses of the fragrant Déjà Passerina 2010 in hand, and contemplated what the English phrase for questa è la vita might be, finally settling on “This is the life.” “Come back again and stay with us,” Domodimonti’s Maria Pia Bianchini invited me. “Bring your family.” When I informed her that I was single she responded,

women are the strength

at Tenuta Cocci Grifoni.

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“There are many beautiful women in Le Marche … maybe you just come back and stay here.” I actually don’t think I’d have much of a problem complying. Whatever your marital status is, you probably won’t want to leave either. Speaking of beautiful sights, you’ll find no shortage of them in the town of Ascoli Piceno. Founded several centuries before Rome, it features a bevy of historic attractions including the stunning central Renaissance square, Piazza del Popolo (“Square of the People”), the church of San Francesco and the Cathedral of Sant’Emidio, among many others. I personally noticed many beautiful sights of the sort mentioned by Bianchini. “Why do you think I moved here?” Velenosi’s Export Manager, Andrea Bianco, asked rather rhetorically.


Le Caniette’s Giovanni Vagnoni fronts the winery’s multilingual“wall of cheers” signed by

Bianco’s actual residence is in Ascoli, but I had to wonder how much time he really spent there. More often than not he’d be in a different country, living out of a suitcase and spending his infrequent down time in various hotel rooms (sleeping, I can only expect). “My idea of a ‘night out’ is sitting at home on my couch, in track pants with a beer watching something dumb on TV,” he confessed. His rigorous schedule leaves him little time to pursue anything as permanent as the married life, though he does claim to seek out “a fiancée in every city [he] visits.” Still, considering what was afoot in town, I’d say Ascoli is as “target-rich” as any single guy could ask for. Heading back to the car after our espressos, we bumped into a petite blonde and a statuesque brunette, the two of whom Bianco began chatting up. I was about to comment on his technique when he admitted they were both part of Velenosi’s sales team. I could only assume each had, inexplicably, abandoned promising modelling careers to sell wine. Bianchini’s suggestion popped, once again, into my head. If I was going to defect, I needed to plot the details quickly. Tomorrow was to be my last day, albeit a leisurely one spent, well, lounging. The stretch of beach that runs from Grottammare south to San Benedetto del Tronto (and probably both north and south of each town, though I can’t say I journeyed that far on foot either way) is peppered with restaurants, bars and other places to hang out and enjoy some local wine and fresh frutti di mare. I found the beach itself a great place to relax, and the sea a welcome respite from the sun’s intensity.

some of the international visitors.

As I drew myself away from the warm caresses of the Adriatic onto the white sand just a cork pop from my hotel in Grottammare, it dawned on me that I actually had to be up at a rather ungodly hour in not too many hours. I thought about the fantastic seafood dinner I had with some of the members of the Consorzio in a chic seaside restaurant, and about finally enjoying a home-cooked meal in the kitchen of Giovanni Vagnoni of Le Caniette (anyone who knows Italy will tell you, when you ask where to eat, to find a family to take you in). I thought about the spectacular landscape, the breathtaking views from the city of Ripatransone, the intricately painted barrels at La Cantina dei Colli Ripani and the generous winemakers always plying me with more bottles than I could hold (when I told Vagnoni I couldn’t possibly jam any more wine into my luggage, his response was “So I give you olive oil” — funny how you can always find a bit more space). I remembered the colourful Simone Lanciott of Vinicola Carassanese asking me, sotto voce, “It’s just you, right?” before slipping me a bottle of his treasured Luigi Polini Primus Marche Rosso 2000 and finding, while driving back from Ascoli with Bianco, that we had a mutual love of progressive rock music. Like me, you’ll no doubt be wishing for a longer stay and a way to get back. Or you might just do as Bianchini suggests and never leave. •

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Each of us works to shake off those midwinter blues in our own way. It’s not so much awakening in the dark and returning home at the end of the working day in the same oppressive darkness. It’s that double dose, that repetitive shroud of gloom and cold that is most painful. My antidote is both simple and common: let my mind wander, back to the warm, glorious scenery of midsummer in dreamy surroundings. It is romantic to find and almost difficult to adequately express the brilliant light, the warmth and expanse of the Valle d’Aosta, the smallest and least populated region in Italy. Bordering France and Switzerland, this northwestern province is still unspoiled; indeed, it’s sometimes so still and quiet in the bright sunshine that it gives one the feeling of being the only human within a hundred miles. We all have our memories that combine charming bits of fantasy mixed with lovely memories, and this is mine. Barely more than an hour from Turin, the Valle d’Aosta is an alpine valley — a broad, long flat plain that nudges the Alps. Offering unspoiled, seemingly endless fields exploding with wild flowers, at its northern edge it invites even more spectacular views to those who ride the téléferique, an enclosed cable car, up the southern side of Mont Blanc. The breathtaking views are one of those reminders of how insignificant we are in nature’s expanse and how lucky we are to share in it. If there is a way to be transported away from the emptiness of the most difficult months of Canadian winter, this is

40 // February/March 2012

my choice. Walking in the quiet warm valley imparts a clear sense of a link to Roman times, when the Via delle Gallie cut straight through the valley basin. Or else memory takes me to the famous Via Francigena, which, during medieval times, linked the various sections of Roman roads running from Rome to Canterbury. Dotted along the Via Francigena are the Valdostane Castles, which hint at the wealthy feudal history where medieval buildings were built atop highland fortresses from Roman times. One needs so little imagination to feel the history and ancient culture all around as we move up this unique valley. For this modern-day explorer, the Valle d’Aosta culture is intricately tied to its unique cuisine. It is not surprising that the food is simple and revolves around robust ingredients, with both cheese and meat making a distinct mark: not merely Italian, but specific to this almost-remote part of Italy, with its gastronomical richesse. The Valle d’Aosta must-have is Fontina cheese, an unpasteurized and whole milk taste of the gods. It is notable by its compact brown crust, while its inside,

which is semi-cooked, is an inelastic soft paste with a few small holes. It is pale yellow if produced in winter and darker in summer, due to the nutritional differences in grazing between the seasons for the cows, but the colour also takes on a richer hue as the cheese ages. For the health-conscious, it is a highenergy cheese, rich in phosphorus, calcium and vitamin A. In 1996, it gained the important Protected Designation of Origin (or DOP) stamp from the European Union, which decrees that if authentic, it must be produced exclusively in the Valle d’Aosta, made from whole milk and only from the local breed of cows. It boasts a milk fat content of about 45 per cent, and in the region has been always identified by the Consorzio stamp of the Matterhorn. It is not, however, to be confused with the inevitable copies, particularly those produced in Denmark and sold in Canadian grocery stores. The original and authentic Fontina is easily distinguished by its tan and sometimes orange-brown colour, quite different from the red wax rind that one sees with the Danish product. In fact, Danish Fontina is aged much less, and


aosta by robert hausner

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therefore has a semi soft texture and mild taste. Authenticity demands rigid adherence to the classic production method; the cheese must be made from unpasteurized milk from a single milking. It is noted for its earthy, distinctly mushroomy smell, a woody taste that pairs particularly well with roast meats and even truffles. The young Fontina has a softer texture and can be suitable for fondue. It melts well. Fonduta, another derivative, is a traditional dish mixing Fontina with whipped eggs and cream. At the other end of the taste and texture spectrum, mature Fontina is a hard cheese, which, while quite mild, sports a nutty flavour, rich and fruity.

Another simple gastronomical delight is the Valle d’Aosta Jambon de Bosses, eaten as a primo corso (first course). This raw ham is spiced with mountain herbs and produced in a location bearing its name in the Gran San Bernardo Valley, at an altitude of about 1600 meters; today, the area is perhaps most famous as the entrance to the famous St. Bernard Tunnel at the edge of the Swiss border. And yet the very first documents testifying to Jambon de Bosses’ production date back to the late 14th century, confirming that the tradition of producing simply delectable food does not change with time. It is not only the skill of the curers, but the dry climate

Chamois run wild in the Valle d’aosta

More common, but interesting because of the way it is served, is Robiola, a soft ripened cheese comprised of varying quantities of cow, goat and sheep’s milk. Traditional service is to eat it on a plate without bread, with fine first pressing of olive oil, salt and pepper. Its tangy taste comes from the wild herbs on which the animals graze.

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and exposure to the air that criss-crosses over the hills that creates a unique environment for its production and seasoning. The addition of herbs from the valley, such as juniper and thyme, lends a delicate and particularly aromatic smell. Also unique to the region is Motzetta, a dried meat reminiscent of prosciutto but made of chamois, boar or deer. It is another

example of the ancient tradition of preserving meat to meet the needs of isolated families during wintertime. Although at first look it appears tough and hard, in the mouth it is tender and tasty despite the fact that it is compact and made with little fat. It is left to marinate together with the aromatic mountain herbs rubbed with salt and spices. Motzetta is also served as an entrée cut into thin slices and accompanied by the typical local rye bread. Sitting at table during a Canadian midwinter you can feel a gentle smile coming over your face as you think of this other time, other place, other culture. Restaurant tables in the Valle d’Aosta are usually decorated with a biscuit. One such, called Tegole, is made with hazelnuts, sugar and egg whites, flour, a touch of almond and vanilla, presenting a complex taste. Dainty but crunchy, they are eaten before the meal to stimulate appetite, and also as an accompaniment to ice cream or dark chocolate. But the bread staple of the region is Pan Ner, which survives from a tradition in the middle ages — an indispensable part of cooperative village life. The women kneaded the dough while the men tended the village wood-fired oven. The key is rye flour mixed with traditional wheat flour and a culture yeast. It’s left to rise for at least three hours, but it is worth the effort. The result is dark, almost black bread, healthy because of the fibre. Its delectable smell is often enhanced with the addition of walnuts and raisins, or at times, fennel seeds. There are innumerable osterie dotted about the valley and a notable, while very reasonable one is in the small city of Aosta. Walk into La Vache Folle and you are embraced by a small village feel. Liberally decorated with immense collars and cowbells, the food, well, it just brings a smile to your face. It is a working class watering hole with a menu sporting a few memorable dishes. The tastes associated with risotto take on a whole new flavour when the plate of the rice staple arrives at table with the distinct smell of cinnamon and a texture thickened with mascarpone. And for originality and a surprisingly good match, there’s a house risotto specialty that combines snails with parmesan. Delectable!


cinnamon and mascarpone risotto Serves 4 to 6

Made from Carnaroli or Arborio rice only, risotto is cooked uncovered on your stovetop. As a lot of liquid evaporates, plan on two to three times as much liquid as rice. The stock is your base flavour, and you can use the homemade variety or canned stock. Chicken stock is preferred, but vegetable or beef will do just fine. Remember that it can’t be abandoned. Frequent stirring is best, as is adding a little stock at a time, about 1/2 cup. Keep your stock warm so when you add it to the rice-stock mixture it absorbs faster and reduces your time at the stove.

2 2 350 2 150 2 75

tbsp olive oil (plus a bit extra) finely chopped garlic cloves g Arborio or Carnaroli rice cinnamon sticks ml white wine l chicken (vegetable or beef) stock g mascarpone cheese

1. In a large wide saucepan, heat olive oil, and on fairly low heat, sweat the chopped garlic cloves allowing them to colour but not burn.

2. Turn up the heat and add the rice and cinnamon sticks. 3. Stir the rice to coat the grains, and keep it moving until you hear it crackle (about 1 minute).

4. Add the white wine, permitting it to boil and evaporate (most is absorbed in the rice). 5. Turn the heat down to medium-low and begin to add stock with a pinch of salt. 6. When the stock has been mostly absorbed, repeat the process, keeping the

mixture moving to avoid burning on the bottom. (It releases the starch.) The result will be a creamy smooth risotto. 7. When the rice is cooked (al dente), and is viscous but not runny, add the mascarpone and, with the heat turned off, thoroughly stir it into the mixture. 8. Finally, top with a small dollop of mascarpone and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the mixture, remove the cinnamon sticks, and serve. …… Expect compliments. You can also add some peas or julienned carrots to add a bit of colour. Maintain modesty! •

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a shot of gold\\

After a five-hour drive from Rio de Janeiro through the lush mountains of Brazil’s Costa Verde, I arrive in Paraty, a pretty seaside town shrouded by clouds. But I don’t mind the grey sky, because I’m not really here for that nature stuff anyway. So I duck into a restaurant to order a caipirinha — the deliciously limey, boozy concoction so popular at swish North American cocktail bars, which is also Brazil’s de facto national drink. Paraty (pronounced para-chee) was founded in the 17th century, and it looks like it never left it. With its unmarred colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, pristine nearby beaches and hillside waterfalls, it’s a popular tourist destination. Of course, some people (like me) come for the cachaça, too. A fresh sugarcane liquor with a fruity flavour, cachaça was first popular with Brazilian landowners who gave it to slaves to “increase vigour.” Due to Paraty’s sugarcane-friendly climate and abundant water supply, the town became so famous for its production that one of the liquor’s scores of (sometimes offcolour) nicknames was “parati.” Today, the area is home to many distilleries, and due to the efforts of the APACAP (Associação dos Produtores e Amigos da Cachaça Artesanal de Paraty) it’s the only place where cachaça can claim a Geographic Indication of Origin. Often compared to rum, cachaça’s main difference lies in the fact that it’s exclusively made with fresh sugarcane. But there are some similarities: it comes in unaged (white) and aged (gold) varieties — and if you’re really a liquor snob, you can opt for artisanal cachaça over the industrial sort; the latter is churned out by the gallon by large producers, while the former is lovingly made by small distilleries. Producers here have worked hard to distinguish cachaça as a premium drink. For centuries, rich Brazilians preferred imported bevvies like wine and cognac, leaving domestically

44 // February/March 2012

pours

by Jennifer croll

produced liquor for the lower classes. And so cachaça got a reputation as cheap hooch, which, despite the proliferation of high-end brands, some residents still clearly remember — while doing tastings at several distilleries around Paraty, I watched Brazilian tourists back off and watch with amusement (or horror) as foreigners happily knocked back samples. To wit: the word “caipirinha” comes from the word “caipira,” meaning “backwoodsman” or, less politely, “hillybilly;” the suffix “inha” means little. So, that sophisticated cocktail you’re ordering at cocktail bars is actually a “little hillbilly.” Despite its checkered past, cachaça is still by far the most popular alcohol in Brazil. Ordering a caipirinha here is about as difficult as finding a rum and coke in Canada: it’s not. You can get one anywhere, from tiny beachside bars to fancy restaurants. Refreshing and easy, there’s no reason why it can’t be a go-to drink for your cocktail bar at home. The formula is simple: muddled limes, sugar, cachaça, and ice. There are also other variations, like the caipivodka (which substitutes vodka for cachaça), and the caipifruita (which substitutes any other fruit for lime). The best caipifruita I tried in Paraty was the maracuja (or passion fruit) caipi, but you can try any fruit; I’ve had successful experiments with pineapples, raspberries, and even cranberries. So experiment away, but be warned, parati packs a punch.

northern hillbilly

1 generous handful fresh cranberries (crushed) 1 tbsp maple syrup 1 oz cachaça Mix cranberries with maple syrup in a short glass, stir in cachaça, add ice, and enjoy. •


sing

song

by rosemary mantini

“Nut trees [have always been] an integral part of my ‘edible landscape’,” says Ernie Grimo, a pioneer of Ontario’s nut tree industry and owner of Grimo Nut Nursery. In fact, nut growing is what inspired him to move to a 14-acre Niagara-on-theLake farm back in 1973. With 10 acres dedicated to it, you might say Grimo is, well, nuts about nuts. 

“I had an interest in nuts from an early age,” he says. “It was customary in my youth for them to be the last part of a holiday meal.” Me too. To this day, I gaze wide-eyed at the grocery store displays overflowing with nuts of every kind. They have got to be one of the most versatile foods around. Keep them on hand year-round and pull them out when unexpected company drops by. Or, grab a handful when you need an energy-boosting high protein snack. A plethora of Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties certainly saw me eating my fill of them. Yours too, I’ll bet. So, you might think me a bit nutty when I suggest you stock up now. Having just been harvested in the fall, February is still a great time to buy them. Now, I knew that nut trees technically grow in Ontario. I’ve seen local walnuts sold at farmers’ markets. I even have a black walnut tree growing in my own backyard that’s been known to drop its rock-hard, peach-sized fruit onto the heads of unsuspecting shade-seekers. But, I had no idea that it would even be possible to grow a variety of nuts on a larger scale here. I thought nuts were denizens of much warmer climes. It turns out that Ontario has what it takes. Granted, you’re probably never going to find locally grown macadamias. But three types of peanuts, and

over 20 types of tree nuts, like to call this province home. Not too hot, not too cold, with some lake effect conditions — the climate here is good enough to keep them all happy. Ultimately, that’s the message Grimo wants to send out. Want to get in on the ground floor of an enterprise that’s about to make it big? Take Grimo’s good advice and start planting nut trees. In 1972, his passion and drive inspired a handful of local enthusiasts to help him create the Society of Ontario Nut Growers (SONG). As a group, the farmers promote the industry by encouraging research into the kinds of nuts that can best be grown on our diverse soil and by supporting farmers willing to give nuts a try. Already, there are about 100 acres across Ontario sprouting nut trees, with plans that will see another 100 acres of hazelnuts planted over the next few years. Two experimental plots — one in Vineland, the other in Simcoe — are testing grounds for new, disease-resistant varieties of hazelnuts. There’s a huge market banking on their success, too. Ferrero, maker of Nutella and other hazelnut-filled chocolates, built a plant in the city of Brantford, Ontario in 2006. The chocolate products coming out of that factory are sold throughout North America. As I write, Ferrero imports over 5000 tonnes of

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storing nuts

You can store nuts (in-shell or not) at room temperature for up to three months. But the sooner you eat them, the better they will taste. For longer storage, pack them into a zipper storage bag and leave them in the refrigerator for up to six months, or in the freezer for up to one year.

ernie grimo with his heartnuts

Right now, most heartnuts available to you and me are imported. Grimo reminds me that as tempting as those might be, fresh nuts picked close to home are so much better tasting than those that have had to travel halfway across the world. After tasting them for myself, I have to agree. If there’s a downside to the heartnut, it’s this: it is literally a tough nut to crack. Grimo assures me that the problem will soon be solved (and it won’t require enlisting the help of a squirrel!). SONG and researchers at the University of Windsor are in the process of developing a special heartnut cracker. Perhaps they can devise one for those pesky black walnuts, too!

go nuts

Here’s a partial list of Ontario’s locally grown nuts. Look for them at farmers’ markets or get out to the farms yourself. Check out SONG (songonline.ca) for a list of nut-growing farmers (remember to call ahead first). Can’t get out to the countryside? Check out Grimo Nut Nursery (grimonut.com) and Picard’s (picardspeanuts.com) for online sales of nuts and nut trees. hazelnuts from Turkey alone. They would much prefer to source the nuts locally. Unfortunately, Ontario doesn’t produce the required number. Also, the hazelnuts grown here aren’t consistent in quality. Getting it right is a challenge that Ferrero, together with the researchers at the University of Guelph, will no doubt overcome, given a little time. Hazelnuts aren’t the only avenue to success for this industry. “The heartnut has been largely neglected,” says Grimo. Because this nut, a Japanese walnut variety, thrives in the type of sandy soil covering Southwestern Ontario, it makes a great replacement crop for tobacco. Heartnuts attract a large share of the nut market, too. Aficionados insist that to know them is to love them because they’re mildly sweet and lack the bitterness that’s inherent to walnuts. They’re pretty, too. Apparently, the best of them crack evenly to reveal a perfectly shaped heart.

46 // February/March 2012

heartnut sweet chestnut Persian walnut shellbark hickory northern pecan shagbark hickory nut pines

hazelnut black walnut butternut ginkgo hican (pecan/hickory cross) buarnut (butternut/heartnut cross) almond

It’s tempting, for the sake of convenience, to buy nuts that have already been shelled. Resist, if you can. They’re fresher inshell, and much more fun. First, call up a few friends and invite them over. Then, while you’re waiting for them to arrive, fire up the oven, roast the nuts and pop open a bottle of sparkling wine. Pass around some nutcrackers and enjoy a warm, low-key gettogether that will make you forget February’s chill. •


roasted chestnuts Serves 2 to 3

This treat is, by far, my favourite wintertime warm-up. The sweet aroma emanating from these little bundles is heavenly, and the flavour is equally enticing. Just be careful not to burn your fingers!

1 lb chestnuts, soak in water for 1 hour Salt (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut an X into the bottom of each chestnut.

2. Place them in an even layer on a baking sheet.

Roast nuts for 30 to 45 minutes, or until shell has peeled away from where it was scored. 3. Take one out and peel it. Both the shell and the skin should come off easily. If they don’t, continue roasting, checking the nuts periodically. …… Peel the roasted chestnuts, add a sprinkling of salt and enjoy with sparkling wine or even Pinot Noir.

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Join our exclusive

rum tasting

by Rick VanSickle

“Stir it up; little darlin’, stir it up. Come on, baby. Come on and stir it up: little darlin’, stir it up. O-oh!” Oh, I feel it. Let’s crank it up. “It’s been a long, long time, yeah! (Stir it, stir it, stir it together.) Since I got you on my mind. (Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh.) Oh-oh! Now you are here (stir it, stir it, stir it together), I said.”

It’s that Bob Marley and The Wailers song that gets me every time. The pure sound of Jamaica, mon — the sultry nights, the sun beating down on a white, sandy beach, the relentless and endless Caribbean heat. And rum. Lots of rum. If you’re having trouble picturing the Caribbean while in the middle of another bitterly cold Canadian winter, trust me: grab a bottle of your finest rum, some mango juice, crushed ice, and a big tumbler, toss some Marley on your iPod and some spicy hot jerk chicken wings on the BBQ, and sit back and dream, baby. Dream. Let it take you away. “Stir it up; little darlin’, stir it up.”

48 // February/March 2012


kingston Good rum has the power to add fire, heat and sizzle to a frigid winter’s night. If you can’t actually be in the Caribbean or anywhere else that’s hot and sunny, there’s nothing stopping you from dreaming about hot sand and warm ocean breezes. And with today’s variety of quality rums you can certainly lift your spirits, whether mixed with pure and pulpy fruit juices or enjoyed neat when the rum is barrel aged for 15 years or more. It is a spirit with a romantic past. Swashbuckling pirates such as Blackbeard and Captain Kidd ruled the high seas with bellies full of rum, and many a ship was dispatched to the bottom of the ocean just for its precious cargo of Caribbean rum. Still today, it’s the Caribbean that makes what are arguably the finest rums in the world — with historic and new distilleries alike cranking out the spirit on nearly every island nation. Appleton Estate is made in Jamaica, Cruzan in St. Croix, Bacardi in Puerto Rico, Mount Gay and Pyrat in Anguilla, Barbancourt in Haiti, El Dorado in Guyana, St. Nicholas Abbey and Mount Gilboa in Barbados, and Atlantico in the Dominican Republic. The Caribbean doesn’t own rum exclusively, as the popular and unique Stroh 54 is made in Austria (and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that very Canadian rum, Newfoundland Screech), but it’s fair to say the finest rums are distilled, aged and produced in the Caribbean from native sugar cane and sometimes molasses.

× 1 ½ oz Appleton Reserve (medium bodied gold rum) ×¾  oz Galliano Liqueur × Splash each of grapefruit, lemon and orange juice. Shake with ice, serve in a short drink glass, add a dash of Angostura Bitters and serve! Garnish with a lime wedge.

at di beach

× 1 ¼ oz Mount Gay Eclipse Rum (medium bodied gold rum) × ¾ oz Disaronno Amaretto × Splash of pineapple juice Shake with ice, strain and serve in a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a triangle wedge of pineapple and cherry. Sunscreen optional!

werther’s original

From William Roman, Operations Manager, Rosewood Estate Winery and Meadery, and a bona fide rum lover. × 1 oz of Stroh 54 Dark Austrian Rum × 2 oz of Rosewood Estate Mead Royale (honey wine) Pour into an old fashioned and serve over 4 ice cubes. Add a pinch of orange zest.

It’s a simple procedure; cane juice (or molasses) is fermented with yeast, then distilled and aged, primarily in used oak barrels. The rich flavours are derived from the amount of time in oak and the kind of oak barrels that are used. Very seldom

snap dragon

× 1 oz of white rum (your favourite) × 1 oz Pyrat XO Reserve Rum × 1 oz of cranberry juice (increase to 2 oz if sweeter drinks are preferred) Mix with just a dash of pineapple juice to create a contrast in colour. Serve over 5 ice cubes.

mango tango rumba From me, a rum lover, and my drink of choice when wine just won’t cut it. × 2 oz of Pyrat XO Reserve Rum (or Appleton Reserve Rum or Eldorado Five Year Old Rum) × An equal amount of pure mango juice, preferably organic and pulpy. Serve in tumbler with a generous heap of ice cubes. Garnish with slice of orange. Recipes From Geoffrey Markle, regional director for The MONARQ Group, who has been living, travelling, eating and drinking the Caribbean for the past 26 years.

is anything added to the rums unless it is a spiced or flavoured rum, such as those made by Cruzan, Bacardi and others. But true connoisseurs are looking for complexity and natural flavours in today’s rums, which are mixed mod-

erately with inventive (or naturally simple) ingredients, or in the case of higher-end rums, enjoyed neat. There is no question that the rums made today are not the rums of our parents who, nearly exclusively, drank them smothered in Coke or orange juice. The most expensive rum I have ever tasted was crafted by Joy Spence, the master blender at Appleton Estate in Jamaica, who brought a 46-year-old “Legacy” rum to Toronto for a tasting. The bottle for this historic spirit was presented in a one-of-a-kind decanter crafted to emulate an Appleton Estate rum bottle, and was made from mouth-blown, hand-cut crystal from Nova Scotia. The rum, decanter and six crystal snifters carried a hefty price tag of $60,000, making it just slightly out of reach from most us. But, wow, what an elixir! It had such intense aromas of vanilla, nuts, toffee and dried fruits. All that is amplified a million times as you swirl the amber nectar and bring the crystal snifter to your nose. Such extraordinary tastes — roasted coffee bean, liquorice, caramel and dried apricots all drenched in woodsy vanilla and spice. I would never have imagined rum could taste that good, even eclipsing a very fine, very old Cognac. At another tasting this past summer, in an open-air gazebo on a pond at Niagara’s Rosewood Estates, we gathered some rummy friends to share our collections of rums and recipes. It was a friendly competition to see who could create the best rum recipe.

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The winner was crowned King of the Rumba (or something like that). We loosely structured our rum “throwdown” to include a judge who assessed each concoction we created and ultimately declared the winners.

The rums included:

Ron Atlantico Private Cask Rum (this is a new

Solera system rum from the Dominican Republic produced from fresh cane juice and molasses harvested on a single estate, $30)

Barbancourt Rum Re-

Pyrat XO Reserve (a blend

of Caribbean rums aged up to 15 years, $40)

serve 15 Year Old (each year a limited quantity of this Haiti rum is released and made available to connoisseurs, $40)

El Dorado Five Year

Stroh 54 (Austria, $54)

five years, $25)

St. Nicholas Abbey

Old Rum (Guyana, aged

12 Year Old Limited Re-

El Dorado 12 Year Old

Rum (Guyana, aged 12 years

in previously used Bourbon barrels, made from finest molasses, $35)

Cruzan Spiced Rum #9

(a unique blend of nine all natural spices that hails from the island of St. Croix, $25) Mount Gilboa Rum (made

at Barbados’ oldest distillery, triple distilled, $45)

serve Rum (Barbados, sugarcane based, aged in Bourbon oak barrels, $70)

They were mixed with ginger beer, pineapple juice, lemons, limes, mango juice, bitters, cloudy apple juice, mead (wine made from honey), orange zest and orange rind. The judge was served five drinks each for the throwdown, and then served the rums neat in a separate competition.

Here’s what our judge, Mike Di Caro, liked from the mixed drinks:

Werther’s Original, by William Roman. It was made with Stroh 54 rum, and Roman used a creative splash of Rosewood Estates Mead Royale (honey wine) and orange zest. It was smooth and fruity with caramel-honey notes. This should be in a cocktail book. Delicious. Mango Tango Rumba, made by me, and which is the rum drink I reach for more than any other. It’s a simple 50-50 blend of Pyrat XO Reserve Rum (any good amber rum can substitute) and pulpy, organic mango juice over ice. Something about mango and rum makes this a wonderful year-round drink.

And his favourite rums (all served neat):

Both the Mount Gilboa Rum and the El Dorado 12 Year Old Rum came out on top. Judge Di Caro said they were “two great rums for two different reasons. Mount Gilboa reminded me of a mild, smoky and peaty scotch. The 12 Year Old was fruity with caramel, which I enjoyed and I felt brought out the different flavour characteristics you can get in good molasses-based sugars.” Ron Atlantico Private Cask Rum. This was a very different rum, according to my own notes. Molasses, butterscotch, smoke and sweet and juicy fruit notes. A spicy spirit that’s smooth and clean on the palate. St. Nicholas Abbey 12 Year Old Limited Reserve Rum. A rare treat that shows dried fruit notes, citrus and is extremely smooth with caramel on the finish. A rum that deserves to be enjoyed neat. So, then. Can you feel it now? “Stir it up; little darlin’, stir it up.” •

50 // February/March 2012


the mav notes\\ 91 Steltzner Sangiovese Riserva 2006, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, United States ($28)

Deep plum red, sports a heady aroma of Cherry Blossom (the chocolate bar) and violets. This is your father’s Chrysler — a full-bodied fruit bomb (14.7% alcohol) but with sturdy structure from prominent tannins. The medium-length finish will lengthen with maturity. Drink now to 5 years. (RL)*

91 Black Hills Carmenère 2009, Okanagan ($50) This wine has earned a cult following. Tobacco scents shoot out of the glass, followed by wild raspberry and white pepper. Intense chocolatecovered cherry flavour smacks your palate, cushioned by ripe tannins. Leather, cedar, blackcurrant and edgy jalapeño lingers. Match with marinated beef. (HH)

91 François Lurton Mas Janiel 2005, Maury, Roussillon, France ($18.95/500 ml)

Maury is a “vin doux naturel” made from old Grenache vines. Bright purple. Irresistible, seductive nose of red and black fruits with anise and liquorice. Voluptuous and warm on the palate, it is semi-sweet and thick but not syrupy. Tannins feel a little dry beneath the sweetness. Excellent on its own or with blue cheese or freshly cracked nuts. Long aging potential but already delicious. (GBQc)

95 Ruffino Modus IGT 2007, Tuscany, Italy ($29)

This was just being released in Ontario at the time of this writing, so if you can find any anywhere, this is the Italian buy of the year. An exquisite blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Franc with intense and complex aromas blackberries, plums, cherries, cigar box, toasted vanilla and oak, cocoa, eucalyptus and spice. It’s full bodied and concentrated on the palate yet is perfectly balanced between its core of extracted black and red berry fruits, spice and silky tannins. It has grip and power in the mouth and the flavours linger on the finish. (RV)

93 Maculan Fratta IGT 2008, Veneto, Italy ($95)

90 Wynn’s Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon ‘John Riddoch’ 2005, Coonawarra, Australia ($85) Dark, round and full with rich flavours of cherry, blackberries and currants, hints of earth and cocoa, velvety tannins and a pleasing mineral quality on the full finish. (GB)

This is a Cabernet/Merlot blend that offers up rich and ripe red fruits, currants, aromatic wood spice, vanilla and earth on the nose. It is dense and layered with highly extracted dark berries, liquorice, clove/cinnamon spice and meaty fruits all built on a firm foundation. This is one fabulous red with decades of aging potential. Serve with barbecued ribs or roasted meats. (RV)

90 Lamblin & Fils Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2004, Chablis, Burgundy, France ($41)

Clear brass-yellow colour proclaims maturity, but the aroma is of a perfectly ripe McIntosh wearing banana cologne. Medium bodied with a pleasant lemony acidity, it’s a tropical fruit salad in your mouth. Perfectly mature now, it will drink well to 2016, maybe longer. Outstanding with a delicate fish. (RL)*

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breaking the cork wall\\

Attending tastings of Canadian wines has become somewhat routine, but the Ontario Pinot Noir tasting I attended recently felt monumental. It was held in the beautiful Palazzo Borghese in the heart of Florence’s historic centre, and the wines were poured to a group consisting primarily of Italian media, restaurateurs, and retailers, with a smattering of UK wine trade and media including several Masters of Wine. Most had never tasted Canadian wine before (other than Icewine) and many had no knowledge that we produced “serious” wines beyond the sweet stuff. The tasting was held in conjunction with the Anteprima Chianti Rufina (preview of the 2010 Chianti Rufina and 2009 Riservas) and organized by Ian D’Agata, chairman of Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Italy, Bordeaux and Canada), Decanter contributor and, incidentally, Canadian-born (although he’s spent most of his life in Europe and the US). Moderated by D’Agata and Stephen Brooks, contributing editor of Decanter, the tasting presented the Ontario Pinot Noir producers attending with some tough comparisons to previous wines/regions (Barbaresco and Burgundy) featured at the annual event. Not only did the wines show well, I dare say they surprised and impressed the Eurocentric tasters in the room. The tasting was quite complimentary as the two styles of wines shared several characteristics including fresh fruit expression, bright acidity, minimal oak influence and a refined elegance. The Ontario Pinots all showed great varietal character and clear sense of place. What they may have lacked in complexity and length can be attributed to youth, both in the age of the vineyards and the Canadian industry in general. But most

52 // February/March 2012

davine

by gurvinder Bhatia

importantly, the overall high quality of the wines had the tasters talking, with many expressing their interest in exploring Canadian wines in greater depth. The Ontario producers invited to the tasting are part of the Somewhereness group, which was founded by six wineries dedicated to site-specific wines that share “philosophies that reflect on small farms, sustainable practice, and responsible stewardship of the land, and ultimately a purpose to highlight through wine that elusive character of … Somewhereness.” Most impressive was the attitude of the Ontario producers when asked to explain the benefits of presenting their wines at an international tasting, when their production is so small and the vast majority of their wines are consumed domestically. Ed Madronich, owner of Flat Rock Cellars, was emphatic in expressing that he has no interest in producing wines that are compared only with other Canadian wines. He wants to produce great quality wines with typicity that can be compared favourably with quality wines from around the world, even if he never was to sell any of his wines internationally. Norman Hardie echoed Madronich’s sentiments and added that if Canada is to be looked upon as a serious wine producing country, producers must strive for quality and regional diversity and participate in more international events to create awareness and interest. Even though the quantity of wines produced is not great, creating an export market/demand for Canadian wines is crucial for the growth and maturity of the industry. And there is no reason why top Canadian wines shouldn’t be sought after and sold internationally. The terroir exists and the quality for a young wine producing country has evolved dramatically over the past 20 years. It’s time to start showing the world.


Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir 2009, Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario ($30) Initially a little closed on the nose, but opens up nicely in the glass, showing aromas of cherries, plums, spice and a touch of earthiness with flavours of raspberry, red currants and dark cherries, spice, silky tannins, a touch of minerality and great balance.

a bit of complexity on the nose with aromas and flavours of black cherry and mineral, elegant, great fruit expression, a creamy texture, well balanced, firm tannins, bright acidity and nice length. A wonder served with mustardencrusted rabbit.

Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir Reserve 2009, Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario ($48)

A bit of an awkward “ugly ducking” at first (as one member of the Italian wine trade put it), but blossoms beautifully, showing bright currant, black cherry, cranberry, earth and spice with a creamy texture and nice complexity. A little closed on the finish, but a little more time in the bottle should allow for fuller expression.

a packed house tasted ontario’s best in the heart of chianti

Malivoire Mottiar Pinot Noir 2009, Beamsville Bench, Ontario ($40)

Bright aromas of cherries, raspberries, plum and tobacco with a juicy, creamy texture, ripe cherry flavours, a silky finish with bright acidity and nice minerality.

Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir 2009, Prince Edward County, Ontario ($35)

Delicate aromas of bright cherry, raspberry and a touch of earthiness, a little nervous on the palate and needs a little time to settle, but showing great elegance, firm underlying tannins, and lively acidity.

Cave Spring Cellars Pinot Noir Estate 2009, Beamsville Bench, Ontario ($40)

Fresh raspberry, cherry and hints of fresh herbaceousness on the nose with a mid-palate-filling texture, hints of spice and a juicy acidity on the finish.

Norman Hardie Pinot Noir ‘L’ 2009, Ontario ($69)

One of the tasters’ clear favourites. Great character and quite

Azienda Agricola Frascole Chianti Rufina Riserva 2008, Tuscany ($28)

Ripe juicy aromas and flavours of cherry, raspberry and currant, fresh acidity, silky texture, a zesty finish and great balance and elegance.

Fattoria il Lago Chianti Rufina Riserva 2008, Tuscany ($34)

Very charming aromas of juicy cherry, currant and spice, fresh and bright red fruit flavours, a firm underlying structure and lively acidity on the lengthy finish. Well made.

Frescobaldi Castello di Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva 2008, Tuscany ($25) Showing more dark fruit on the nose and a little austere, dark cherry and plum flavours with a full, almost muscular mid-palate, firm lush tannins and finishing with bright acidity. Podere il Pozzo Chianti Rufina Riserva 2008, Tuscany ($30) Bright, fresh aromas of cherry, raspberry, hints of smokiness, a nice suppleness on the mid-palate with some grippy tannins towards the ripe finish. •

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//the food notes

Phillips Ginger Beer, Victoria, British Columbia ($5.50/650 ml)

The ginger is subtle at first, but builds on the palate with each additional sip. Great spice and real ginger flavours without being overwhelming. Great with sushi – have a shot of this instead of the pickled ginger — or would be great as a palate-cleansing sorbetto. (GB)

88 Bartier-Scholefield BS White Table Wine 2010, Okanagan ($22)

This blend of Pinot Gris, Sauv Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay hits the mark for being light, clean, juicy and refreshing. Un-oak treatment ensures a floral, apple, citrus and grassy character. Lees contact confers some mid-palate richness. Mineral notes shiver on the finish. A match for mild curry dishes. (HH)

87 Franschhoek Vineyards La Cotte Mill Chenin Blanc 2011, South Africa ($15)

92 JoieFarm Reserve Chardonnay 2009, Okanagan ($30) Impeccably crafted from start to finish. Be seduced by scents of crème brûlée, peach compote, apple pie and tropical spice. Then become smitten by the creamy texture and spicy flavour of crushed vanilla bean ice cream. Honey and hazelnut enhance the gorgeous finish. Such exceptional balance and elegance suggest a seafood dish treated simply. (HH)

A nifty Chenin that’s typical of this South African staple white with an expressive nose of tropical fruits, grapefruit, peach and a touch of wild honey. It’s big (14% alcohol) and refreshingly dry on the palate with a creamy texture and loaded with pineapple and peach fruit goodness. It’s fresh and vibrant through the finish. Pair with cold chicken dishes, seafood or perfect with sushi. (RV)

89 Trivento Amado Sur 2009, Mendoza, Argentina ($15)

This delicious blend of 73% Malbec, 15% Bonarda and 12% Syrah offers great value. A combination of plums, blueberries, raspberries, black pepper, flowers, chocolate and espresso are layered on a plush yet smooth frame. Lengthy aftertaste. Drink now, or over the next three years, with grilled rib eye. (ES)

88 Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenère 2009, Apalta, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($21.99)

Characteristic Apalta qualities for Chile’s signature grape: ripe, rich and concentrated, accompanied by chocolate notes. Fragrant smoky tobacco and spicy paprika lead to flavourful sweet blueberry and black fruits. A dry, warm cassis finish follows. Match with chicken rubbed with herbs and spices. (HH)

89 Saint Clair Pinot Noir 2008, Marlborough, New Zealand ($20.70)

Light ruby. Spicy/fruity nose, light and crisp. The palate has a nice, light, sweet fruit taste followed by a slightly bitter fruit stone aftertaste lifted by the acidity. Drink now with vegetable dishes, salmon or chicken. (GBQc)

54 // February/March 2012


bouquet garni

hot, hot, hot\\

Don’t you love this time of year? We buy our très chic resort wear at an upscale department store, pack our Louis Vuitton suitcase and book a flight to a land where the sun always shines. Leaving behind our pesky neighbour whose galoshes are kneedeep in snow as he grumpily shovels the driveway, we wave merrily from the cab, trilling “Too-da-loo! I shall bring you a shell!” Our neighbour lobs a shovelful of snow at our faces, but nothing can daunt us. Nice dream, eh? In reality, I am the pesky neighbour in galoshes grumpily shovelling the driveway. I don’t know about your neighbourhood, but where I live nobody seems to have gone anywhere, not even to work because the snow is up to our waists. Like Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loompas, we are lined up at the bottom of our driveways, throwing snow in unison. When Old Man Winter rages at the door, the only sane thing to do is turn on the stove. These recipes are designed to bring a little bit of sunny paradise to your dining table. May you forever shine on!

mardi gras ham, shrimp and andouille sausage jambalaya Serves 4

Known for its slow, easy-going way of life, New Orleans kicks it up a notch during Carnival, a festival that begins on Twelfth Night (the Feast of the Epiphany) and comes to a raucous conclusion on Fat Tuesday, better known as Mardi Gras. As Lent begins, the largely Catholic community settles back into the simple life or “The Big Easy.” Even Hurricane Katrina couldn’t dampen the heart and soul of the Crescent City, where folks live by the creed “Laissez les bons temps rouler”… Let the good times roll! Andouille Sausage is a smoky, peppery sausage. If you can’t find it, use smoked kielbasa. Stirring the rice in the skillet for about a minute before adding the liquid will help it retain its texture. There

by nancy Johnson

are as many versions of Jambalaya as there are cooks in Louisiana, so feel free to change this recipe each time you make it by adding chicken, oysters, catfish, pork ribs, ground beef or shrimp. I’ve gone easy on the cayenne here. Add more to your taste or pass the Tabasco at the table.

jambalaya seasoning mix

2

tsp salt tsp pepper tsp cayenne tsp chili powder tsp dried parsley tsp dried basil tsp ground cloves

1/4 1/8 1/2 1/2 1/4 1/8

jambalaya 2 tbsp olive oil 1 large onion, diced 1 green bell pepper, diced 2 shallots, minced 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 small ham steak, trimmed and diced 400 g smoked andouille or any smoked sausage 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz) 1 can tomato paste (8 oz) 3 bay leaves 3 cups water 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined Fresh parsley for garnish, minced

1. Make seasoning mix: In a small bowl, mix salt, pepper, cayenne, chili powder, parsley, basil and cloves. Set aside.

+ Search through a wide range of wine-friendly recipes on tidingsmag.com

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2. To make the Jambalaya: In a large skillet, in hot oil, sauté onion,

green pepper, and shallots until softened. Add garlic and seasoning mix. Sauté for 1 minute. 3. Add andouille sausage and ham. Sauté 2 minutes. 4. Add rice. Sauté 1 minute. 5. Add tomatoes and tomato paste, bay leaves and water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 40 minutes. 6. Add shrimp, cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes longer or until shrimp are pink. Remove bay leaves. Divide Jambalaya among 4 plates. Garnish with minced parsley. …… For this one, I asked the supermarket wine steward what he would serve: California Zinfandel. And he was right!

grilled filet mignon with asparagus, portobello mushrooms and tarragon cream sauce Serves 4

Whenever I need pampering — a weekly occurrence in the winter — I make filet mignon, using an inexpensive cast iron grill pan to sauté the steaks. To infuse grill marks, give the steak a good sear on both sides over high heat, giving it a half turn to create a crosshatch. The sauce is a ‘cheater’s Bernaise’ and much easier to make than the real thing. I’m all for pampering and easy-does-it dishes this time of year, especially ones that feel like backyard barbecue.

black bean dip with tortilla chips All along the Mexican coast, snowbirds are sitting poolside, sipping Margaritas and noshing on this dip. It also makes a great spread for a pork or steak burrito. For a different taste, substitute pinto beans for black beans. Sour cream can take the place of yogurt.

2 1 2 2

tbsp olive oil small onion, minced cloves garlic, minced cans black beans, rinsed and drained 1/2 tsp cumin Water as needed 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt 1 tomato, diced 1 tbsp minced cilantro Tortilla chips

1. In a large skillet, over medium heat, sauté the

onion in hot olive oil until softened. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more. 2. In food processor, purée onion, beans, cumin, and salt. Add a spoonful or 2 of water if mixture is too thick. 3. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in yogurt. Garnish with tomato and cilantro. …… Serve with tortilla chips and Margaritas.

56 // February/March 2012

1 1 4 1

tbsp butter tbsp olive oil shallots, chopped clove garlic, minced 1/3 cup white wine 1/4 cup heavy cream 1 tbsp grainy mustard 2 tbsp tarragon, minced 4 filets mignons 12 asparagus spears, steamed until tender 4 Portobello mushrooms, thickly sliced and sautéed until tender

1. In a large skillet, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat. Sauté shallots and garlic until softened.

2. Add the wine and simmer, scraping up browned bits. Reduce heat. Add cream, mustard, and tarragon. Warm but do not boil. Set aside.

3. Coat a cast iron grill pan with cooking spray. Season the steaks with

salt and pepper to taste. Over high heat, sauté filet mignon about 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Actual cooking time depends on the meat’s thickness and your preference. 4. Layer cooked asparagus and sliced mushrooms on four plates. Set a steak on top of each. Spoon sauce over all. …… Excellent with a Grenache from Australia or a Côtes du Rhône.

couscous and chicken salad with lime vinaigrette Serves 3 to 4

Couscous is semolina pasta from Northern Africa. This sunny salad pairs couscous with some of my favourite things — chicken, oranges or pineapple, dried cranberries and a sweet-tart lime dressing. Top the couscous with avocado and almonds and you get my California version of a Moroccan dish. In fact, the first time I ate


couscous was at a Moroccan restaurant in Palm Springs. This tasty salad takes me right back to that hot summer evening.

3 2 1 2

cups cooked couscous cups diced cooked chicken can mandarin oranges or pineapple tidbits, drained tbsp dried cranberries

lime vinaigrette

3-4 1 1/2 1/4 1 1/4

tbsp lime juice tbsp honey tsp sweet paprika cup extra virgin olive oil avocado, peeled and sliced cup sliced almonds or chopped walnuts

1. In a large bowl, mix couscous, chicken, mandarin oranges or pineapple and cranberries. 2. Make Vinaigrette: In small bowl, whisk lime juice, honey, paprika and olive oil. 3. Gently mix vinaigrette with couscous mixture. Garnish salad with avocado and almonds. …… Serve with a California or Australia Moscato.

scallops caprese Serves 4 to 6

In truth, squid and anchovies are a more common menu item in Capri, but scallops are much easier to find in our supermarkets. When mussels are in season, steam a dozen in white wine and add to the platter. If you like it hot, add more red pepper flakes. For dessert, Limoncello di Capri with gelato is a must. There is nothing wrong with pretending you are floating blissfully in the Grotta Azzurra as you enjoy this dish. Throw a blue tablecloth on the table, serve sparkling water with lemon in blue water glasses and fill a large vase with a mix of blue and yellow flowers to mimic the sea and sun of Capri.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press Pinch hot red pepper flakes 2 lb large scallops, patted dry and tossed with 2 tbsp flour 1 cup white wine 2 tbsp butter 1 lb spaghetti, cooked and drained 2 tbsp minced fresh basil 2 tbsp pine nuts 1 sliced lemon

1. In a large skillet over medium-low heat in hot oil, sauté

garlic and hot red pepper flakes 1 minute. Turn heat to medium. 2. Add scallops. Sauté in batches until cooked through. Remove and keep warm. 3. Add wine, stirring up browned bits. Stir in butter. Serve on a platter over spaghetti, garnished with basil, pine nuts and lemon slices. …… Load the iPod with Italian music and pour a Pinot Grigio.

garden minestrone Serves 4 to 6

A bowlful of vegetable soup is winter comfort food and a taste of summer’s bounty all at the same time. Minestrone is a personal art form. Use this recipe as a base and add whatever beans or vegetables you enjoy. Try cannellini or Great Northern beans, fennel, cabbage, green beans, rutabaga, celeriac, or butternut squash. For a heartier soup, add cooked Italian sausage and sautéed pancetta. Instead of orzo, try elbow macaroni or rotini.

3 1 2 2 2 8 1

tbsp olive oil, divided onion, diced stalks celery, sliced large carrots, diced cloves garlic, minced cups chicken or vegetable broth can diced tomatoes 1/2 tsp dried basil 1/2 tsp dried oregano 2 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed 2 cups fresh baby spinach 3 cups cooked orzo Pecorino Romano cheese Ciabatta bread

1. In Dutch oven or soup pot, over medium-high heat, sauté

onion, celery and carrot in 2 tbsp hot oil until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. 2. Stir in broth, tomatoes, basil and oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. 3. Meanwhile, sauté zucchini in medium skillet in 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat, until tender. Then add zucchini, beans, spinach, salt and pepper to soup pot. Simmer 5 minutes or until spinach is wilted and soup in warmed through. 4. Spoon orzo into 4 to 6 bowls. Ladle soup over orzo. Garnish with curls of Pecorino Romano cheese. Serve with crusty Ciabatta. …… Chenin Blanc pairs nicely with the vegetables in this soup. •

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Tidings uses the 100-point scale 95-100 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90-94. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85-89 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80-84. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75-79. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 & under. . . . . . . . . . .

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System

* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 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) and Jonathan Smithe (MB). Argentina // p. 58; Australia // p. 58-59; Canada // p. 59-60; Chile // p. 60; France // p. 60-62; Germany // p. 62;

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

Greece // p. 62; Italy // p. 62-64; New Zealand // p. 64; South Africa // p. 64; Spain // p. 65; United States // p. 65;

the notes\\ /Argentina /

87 Blasón de San Carlos Torrontes 2010, Cafayate ($9)

Bright, pale gold, big appealing nose of Granny Smith with pineapple and citrus. Medium bodied, satiny texture and nicely balanced acidity carry lots of lychee and melon, but a slightly short finish. Drink well chilled and soon, with anything in a cream sauce. (RL)*

87 Masi Passo Blanco Pinot Grigio/Torrontes 2010, Tupungato, Mendoza ($15.99)

Mellow floral and slightly musky scents of Torrontes dominate on the nose, with ripe green and tropical fruit in the

mouth, deftly balanced acidity, a lick of mineral and lingering floral and fruity finish. (SW)

91 Val de Flores Malbec 2005, Mendoza ($49.95)

Another classic Michel Rolland wine. Dense purpleblack in colour with an earthy nose of sweet blackberries and pencil graphite; full-bodied with a chunky mouthfeel and a warm alcoholic finish. A robust, muscular wine not for the faint of heart. (TA)

89 Familia Zuccardi Q Tempranillo 2007, Mendoza ($19.99)

Their Santa Rosa vineyard yields a captivating juxtaposition of savoury complexity and ripe fruitiness. Smoky

58 // February/March 2012

beer // p. 65

tobacco and red cherry scents lead to well-integrated tannins and flavours of rich prune and spicy vanilla notes. Long, complex finish. Pairs exceptionally well with vegetarian dishes. (HH)

88 Masi Passo Doble Malbec/Corvina 2008, Mendoza ($15.99)

Combines Old World Corvina and Argentina’s signature Malbec with the Ripasso method to create a New World wine with plenty of Old World character. Nose shows complex developed fruit attractively dusted with cinnamon. Dark plum and cherry flavours come in a velvety texture backed by plush tannins, dark chocolate

and discreet oak, finishing with a dry tannic kick. (SW)

88 Kaiken Corte 2008, Mendoza ($16.95)

A blend of Malbec, Bonarda and Petit Verdot, it’s dense purpleruby in colour with a blackberry and vanilla oak nose. It offers well-extracted fruit and it’s fresh and lively on the palate with a lingering chocolate and black fruit flavour. (TA)

/Australia / 88 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Riesling 2010, Barossa Valley ($16.95)

Australia is not the first place I look for quality Riesling at a reasonable price, but this


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changed my mind. For a 1-year-old Riesling it’s already developing petrol notes on the nose to complement the lime, grapefruit and honeyed notes. It has a slight spritz on the palate with a sweet and sour flavour, initially off dry and then dries out on the finish with lively citrus acidity. (TA)

88 Devil’s Lair ‘Fifth Leg’ Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Western Australia ($22.99) Bright and bracing with zingy lime citrus, grapefruit, lychee, crunchy apple and hints of tropical fruit, a touch of fresh herbs and a fresh, crisp finish. Great with shellfish. (GB)

88 James Oatley Tic Tok Shiraz 2008, Frankland River, Mudgee and McLaren Vale ($19.99)

This spicy red shows elements of raspberry, damson jam, cinnamon, fig and a hint of eucalyptus. Raspberry and blackberry flavours with assertive youthful acidity and puckery tannins in the mouth finish with a touch of chocolate and very dry tannins. (SW)

87 James Oatley Tic Tok Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Mudgee and Frankland River ($19.99)

Generous dark fruit led by blackberry and background blackcurrant is well supported by solid structure, brisk acidity and a lick of spice. (SW)

87 Devil’s Lair ‘Fifth Leg’ Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2009, Western Australia ($25) Fresh, bright, and refreshing with ripe silky flavours of blueberry, cherry, plum and

currants, hints of mint, soft tannins and a pleasant juiciness on the lifted finish. A nice match with beef carpaccio. (GB)

/Canada / 92 Mission Hill Riesling Icewine Reserve 2010, Okanagan ($59.90)

Incredible sweetness as well as incredible acidity. Honey, golden raisins, pineapples in syrup and lime cordial flatter the senses. The long finish is so gratifying. (ES)

92 Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2009, Twenty Mile Bench ($65)

Le Grand Clos is Jordanne’s top Chardonnay, with a price tag to match. Medium to full bodied, there is super balance: the extract/concentration, oak, acid and alcohol mesh together beautifully. Its flavour is succulent, with ripe apple fruit, lemon, toast, vanilla, slight tropical notes and a beguiling backbone of minerals. The persistency is gratifying. It puts many a great Burgundy to shame. (ES)

90 Hidden Bench Chardonnay 2009, Beamsville Bench ($32)

This tasty Chardonnay doffs its cap at Burgundy. Straw coloured with a minerally bouquet of sweet lemons and toasty oak, it opens on the palate with mouth-filling apple and white peach flavours. Very good length. (TA)

90 Stoney Ridge Excellence Chardonnay 2009, Niagara ($32) Stoney Ridge continues to

+ A searchable listing of our tasting notes is at tidingsmag.com/notes/

churn out excellent white wines from their 2009 ‘Excellence’ line. First up was the Pinot Gris (91 pts), then the Sauvignon Blanc (90 pts), and now, this oaked Chardonnay. Full bodied, it serves up tropical fruit, cream, vanilla, hazelnut, spice and green apple. Rounding everything out is the refreshing acidity and great length. Drink over the next four years. Pair with a butternut squash risotto topped with butter-poached lobster. (ES)

90 Closson Chase Beamsville Bench Chardonnay 2008, Prince Edward County ($39.95)

This is a strapping Chard in unrepentant New World style. Golden straw in colour, the nose is high toned, minerally and buttery with tropical fruit notes. It’s full bodied with pineapple, vanilla oak and lively citrus flavours. A real powerhouse. (TA)

89 Bartier-Scholefield BS Rosé Table Wine 2010, Okanagan ($20)

It is salmon pink, dry, delicate and suggests a Provence style. Aromas of fresh strawberries, dried herbs and a hint of smokiness beckon. Tingling acidity bolsters the intense, zesty flavours of tart red berries and savoury herbs. This 100% Gamay rosé is a perfect partner for weekend brunch. (HH)

88 Château des Charmes Estate Bottled Chardonnay Musqué 2008, Niagara-on-theLake ($19.99) Powerful, slightly musky perfume shows interesting

floral, honeycomb, beeswax and subtle spicy notes. Luscious sappy green apple fruit overlaid with lemon honey fills the mouth and vibrant acidity gives a refreshing lift. (SW)

88 Black Hills Alibi 2010, Okanagan ($25)

Alluring complexity from an aromatic mélange of citrus salad, floral flecks, herbal tinges and wet stone. Crunchy apple bursts on the tangy palate, punctuated by grapefruit, mandarin orange and passion fruit. Long, rich finish with toasty notes. Try fish tacos with this Sauv Blanc/ Sem (75%, 25%) blend. (HH)

88 Black Hills Viognier 2010, Okanagan ($30)

Exuberance is a hallmark of this varietal, exemplified by its spicy tangerine, lemon custard and tropical fruit aromas and flavours. The tangy palate wakes you up with zesty grapefruit and tangy Seville orange, while the finish lingers with spicy warmth. Pairs well with roast poultry. (HH)

87 Stoney Ridge Simply White 2009, Niagara ($13.95)

An unusual blend for Ontario — 2% Chardonnay and 8% Sauvignon Blanc. Pale straw in colour with a green tint, it has a leafy, green plum and apple nose. On the palate it’s crisply dry with green apple, green plum and grapefruit rind flavours; it’s well balanced and lingering on the palate. (TA)

86 40 Knots Rosé 2010, Vancouver Island ($21) The pale salmon pink colour suits the delicate aromas of

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//the notes floral, candy apple, strawberry and honeydew melon. The juicy medium-dry palate bursts with refreshing watermelon flavour, speckled by herbs. Quaff this Merlot-dominant rosé with lunchtime panini. (HH)

92 Black Hills Nota Bene 2009, Okanagan ($53)

This iconic Okanagan blend of Cab Sauv (46%), Merlot (38%,) and Cab Franc (16%) impresses because it is attention-grabbing yet nuanced. Complex, fragrant whiffs of cedar, dried herbs and crushed berries. Classic flavours of sage, red plum and black cherries on an elegantly structured palate. Lingers long with coffee, tobacco, cocoa and cigar box. Cellar-worthy for the next 5 to 8 years. (HH)

90 JoieFarm PTG 2009, Okanagan ($26)

This “passetoutgrain” showcases the Burgundian duo of Pinot Noir (63%) and Gamay (37%). Wild raspberry aromas lead, enlivened by an herbal verve. Bright red cherries burst on the tangy palate. The rustic finish lingers with sassafras, anise and tamarind on a mineral backbone. Pair with duck. (HH)

90 Le Clos Jordanne Pinot Noir Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard, Twenty Mile Bench ($45) This medium cherry coloured Pinot is aromatically pleasing, with smoke, tobacco, truffle, porcini mushroom, spice, rose, cherry and plum. The velvety texture, supple tannins, fresh acid and excellent length make it an appealing experience. (ES)

89 Megalomaniac Home Grown Red 2009, Ontario ($16.95)

This Bordeaux blend comes on like claret. Put this in a decanter and you’ll fool your wine-loving friends. The wine has a bouquet of cedar, redcurrants and blackcurrants. It’s medium bodied and dry with a floral note and lively acidity. (TA)

89 Château des Charmes Estate Bottled Gamay Noir “Droit” 2008, St. David’s Bench Vineyard, Niagara Peninsula ($19.99) Niagara Gamay such as this one, with both depth and structure, can legitimately give Beaujolais a run for its money. Boasts plenty of black cherry and spicy clove on the nose, luscious dark fruit flavours, solid structure and bittersweet spiciness on the finish. Age worthy. (SW)

89 Black Hills Syrah 2009, Okanagan ($35)

Classic aromas of violets, blackberries, smoked meat and cracked black pepper intrigue the nose. Juicy ripe blueberries, cherry cola, mocha and hints of bacon fat dominate the richly textured palate. The vibrant finish features warm spiciness, sprinkled with cocoa and white pepper. Match with smoked meats. (HH)

88 Stoney Ridge Excellence Pinot Noir 2009, Niagara ($35)

Here is a smooth-drinking Pinot Noir with a flattering bouquet of black cherries, dark fruits, flowers, mushrooms and smoke. The finish is built on graceful tannins

60 // February/March 2012

and fresh acidity. Pair it with prosciutto-wrapped pork tenderloin in a mushroom/ thyme sauce. (ES)

/Chile / 87 Arboleda Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Valle de Aconcagua ($16.99)

Another highly aromatic Sauvignon in the classic Chilean mode showing gooseberry, passion fruit, grassy herbal and mineral notes with lush green and tropical fruit flavours, smooth viscous body and lingering floral, fruity and mineral grip. (SW)

83 Cornellana Chardonnay 2010, Cachapoal Valley ($8)

Pale gold, interesting nose of peach, banana and fresh coconut. Full bodied and ripe, a yeoman Chilean Chard tasting of citrus and spice with a decently long finish. A very high value proposition for everyday use. (RL)*

92 Santa Rita Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Maipo Valley ($80)

Sourced from old vines at the foot of the Andes Mountains, this classic Maipo Cab Sauv delivers exquisite finesse and a seductive texture. Delivers stop-in-your-tracks scents of every berry imaginable. Sweet, ripe, silky tannins coat your mouth. Cassis, vanilla, coffee and mint chocolate notes play on and on. Cellar to 2017. (HH)

86 Arboleda Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Valle de Aconcagua ($17.99) A lively fruit-led aromatic style, with fresh dark plum

and slightly tamed piquant minty herbal and blackcurrant notes. Plenty of concentrated dark fruit with a layer of dark chocolate, firm tannin and good length. (SW)

/France / 93 Domaine Zind Hubrecht Heinbourg Turckheim Riesling 2007, Alsace ($46)

No other region in the world delivers this kind of Riesling that’s in a class all its own. Such an expressive nose of bright apple, lime, pear, mango and ginger spice with just a slight note of mineral/diesel starting to emerge. It is lively on the palate and viscous with lime peel, lemon, and poached pear flavours to go with integrated minerality, complexity and structure that suggests further development for 15 or more years. A beauty. (RV)

90 Domaine de Bellivière Les Rosiers 2005, Jasnières, Loire Valley ($27) Dark yellow. Striking nose of honey and exotic fruits, minerally. In a slightly oxidized style, it feels mellow and half dry on the palate, but the finish is sharp, fresh and very long. Quite original from a little known appellation that uses the same grape as Vouvray. (GBQc)

89 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2009, Loire Valley ($25.10)

Bright pale yellow. Delicate, slightly herbaceous nose of fresh citrus. Sharp on the palate, quite intense taste of grapefruit, it turns a little fatty in the finish. Medium length. Drink now. (GBQc)


87 Laroche Chardonnay de la Chevalière 2009, Vin de Pays d’Oc, LanguedocRoussillon ($13.95)

Pale yellow. The nose is shy, and it has citrus notes with a little mineral component. A few very small CO2 bubbles appear in the glass. Soft and round on the palate, its taste is pleasant. There is a nice acid tang in the finish. Drink now. (GBQc)

86 Château Martinon Blanc 2010, Entre-DeuxMers, Bordeaux ($11)

Medium lemon yellow, delicate bouquet featuring peach pie and cantaloupe. Light bodied, has the delightful virtue of being both dry and fruity, with tangerine and pineapple standing out. Try as an aperitif. (RL)*

86 Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2009, Rhône Valley ($17.40)

Pale yellow. Clean nose of white peach, pear and apricot with a subtle mineral touch. Nicely balanced, its fruity taste has medium weight on the tongue. Drink now. (GBQc)

85 Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr Muscat 2008, Alsace ($16)

Alsatian take on the grape, this lemon yellow wine reeks of lychee, tropical flowers and pineapple. Good acidity, rich mouthfeel, lemon and melon on the palate — a surprisingly long finish for a simple wine. Excellent with old-fashioned Cantonese food. (RL)*

90 Château de Fontenelles Cuvée Renaissance 2007, Corbières ($18.95) A blend of Syrah, Grenache,

Carignan and Mourvèdre grapes. Dense ruby-purple in colour with a nose of black raspberries, vanilla oak and a mineral/herbal note. Its candied raspberry flavour is full bodied and well structured with ripe tannins. A versatile food wine, it can match a range of red meat dishes, particularly casseroles. (TA)

90 Domaine Elian Da Ros Le Vin Est Une Fête 2009, Côtes du Marandais, France ($20)

Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Abouriou. An enthralling nose of barnyard, aged meats, strawberry, loam, bramble, blueberry, herbs and wonderful underbrush. It’s a funky wine that sticks to the palate with flavours of blueberry bramble, anise, black liquorice and earth. The tannins are soft and well integrated. This is a wild and delicious wine that certainly lives up to its name: Wine is a party. Would pair with bison or farm-raised elk. (RV)

90 Château Grand Moulin Terres Rouges 2006, Corbières, LanguedocRoussillon ($22) Dark ruby, purplish rim. Spicy nose of cinnamon, ripe red fruits, a hint of anise. Soft attack, supple and generous fruit. Velvety middle palate, long finish. Great to drink now and good for 5 to 7 years in the cellar. (GBQc)

89 Jean-Marc Burgaud Régnié Vallières 2009, Beaujolais, Burgundy ($17.20)

Ruby-purple. Fresh nose of ripe red fruits (raspberry), pepper and oak notes. Nice volume in the mouth, refreshing fruity

taste, almost tender tannins. Turns a bit firm in the moderately long finish. Drink within a year with charcuterie. (GBQc)

89 Château Val d’Orbieu Cuvée Mythique Réserve 2007, Languedoc-Roussillon ($18.70)

Ruby colour. Small red and black fruits, kirsch. Quite concentrated and tight but ripe, fruity taste. Good grip from the tannins, not too much oak, overall well balanced. Made each year from selected lots from the co-op members, this is a reliable name at a good price. (GBQc)

89 Pierre-Marie Chermette Brouilly Pierreux 2009, Beaujolais, Burgundy ($21.75)

Bright ruby/purple. Fresh yet ripe nose of red berries, raspberry and cherry with a hint of oak. Delicious fruity taste. The soft tannins are polished by the oak, and the finish is velvety. Delicious to drink now with sausage, hamburger or alldressed pizza. (GBQc)

89 Camille Cayran Antique Cairanne AC 2006, Côtes du RhôneVillages ($26.79)

Old-fashioned hearty southern Rhône style loaded with perfumed ripe cherry, raspberry and clove supported by supple tannins and a splash of milk chocolate on the well-integrated finish. Deeply satisfying. (SW)

88 Ogier Heritages Côtes du Rhône 2009, Rhône Valley ($15)

Heritages, a Rhône blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, is only made in the very

best vintages. It has a rich and floral nose of cherry, pepper, spice and earth. It’s lovely on the palate with red fruits, black pepper, supple tannins and length on the finish. A nice, robust winter red. Pair with lamb, casseroles, spicy dishes and cheese. (RV)

88 Comtes von Neipperg Seigneurs D’Aiguilhe 2009, Bordeaux ($20)

From the Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux and has rich aromas of plum, cassis, cherry, violets, vanilla and toast. It punches way above its class on the palate with blackberry/plum flavours, cedar and toasty oak spice. Buy it by the case and age some for 4 or 5 years down the road. Seriously. Serve with roast duck. (RV)

88 Château Côtes de Blaignan AC 2008, Médoc ($23.29)

Fine spice and developed fruit on the nose show Bordeaux breed. Still youthful dark fruit, austere tannins and forward acidity need time to soften, but authentic, earthy Bordeaux terroir comes through. Give it 3-plus years in the cellar. (SW)

87 Bouchard Père & Fils La Vignée Pinot Noir 2009, Burgundy ($16.95) Red Burgundy can be an expensive hobby, but occasionally I come across a wine that has all the hallmarks of costly Burgundy at an affordable price. Ruby-garnet in colour, the bouquet is earthy, with raspberry and a hint of violets and coffee beans. It’s dry, light bodied, firmly structured and remarkably elegant for the price. (TA)

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//the notes 87 Château Fourcas Hosten 2008, Bordeaux ($26)

Not a typical vintage for Bordeaux, but this red blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Médoc shows some nice plum, blackberry and toasted oak notes on the nose. It’s a leaner style, with cranberry/cherry, blackberry fruits, roasted coffee bean, vanilla, good acidity and supple tannins. A very nice pairing with grilled red meats. (RV)

86 Rigal Les Terrasses Malbec 2009, Cahors ($13)

The southwest of France delivers a lot of great value wines and this little beauty from Rigal certainly overdelivers in that category. Shows ripe plum, cassis, toast and oak on the nose. It’s soft and savoury on the palate with roasted coffee bean, dark fruits and liquorice notes. Serve with roasted meats or mature cheeses. (RV)

86 Château Timberlay Bordeaux Supérieur 2008, Bordeaux ($16)

A pretty consistent Bordeaux Supérieur with a nose of plums, blackberry, leather, smoke, cedar and spice. It’s soft on the palate with a balanced approach from the fruit and light oak spice. Serve with rib-eye steak. (RV)

/Germany / 89 Dr Hermann Riesling Kabinett 2008, Mosel ($17)

The wine has a bouquet of citrus fruits and minerals with a floral note. It’s light bodied

with a spicy, minerally, lime and honey flavour. Beautifully balanced and lingering on the palate. At 7.5% alcohol, you’re ready for a second bottle. (TA)

89 Studert-Prüm Riesling Auslese 2007, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Mosel ($34)

Pale yellow with green reflections. Conifer and resin dominate the mineral nose. Delicate acidity in the semi-dry attack. Nice freshness on the tongue with a delicate fruity flavour. Finish is light and tasty and very long. Good aging potential. (GBQc)

/Greece / 88 Boutari Moschofilero 2010, Mantinia ($11.95)

Moschofilero has become Greece’s aromatic gem, much the way Albarino has for Spain. At every vintage, this wine offers exceptional value. The current release charms with aromas of peach, apricot, orange blossom, spice and honey. Although dry, there is very good length and crisp apple acidity. It is a must! (ES)

/Italy / 92 Castello della Sala Cervaro della Sala IGT 2009, Umbria ($54.95)

From a warm year comes this blend of 85% Chardonnay and 15% Grechetto. A medium yellow colour leads the way into a combination of toast, pineapple, red apples, canned corn and liquorice. There is excellent length, a creamy texture and it is ready to drink. (ES)

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90 Tenuta Guado al Tasso Vermentino 2010, Bolgheri ($20)

This is the best Vermentino that has ever crossed my lips. The aromatic mélange of white peach, banana, lime, grapefruit, minerals and green apple is built on a medium-tofull-bodied frame. The palate is concentrated with excellent length and bright acidity. Grilled sea bass drizzled with olive oil and herbs would be a divine match. (ES)

90 Maculan Torcolato DOC 2008, Breganze ($38/375 ml)

Made from 100% Vespaiola, this sweet dessert wine displays honey, poached pears, apricots, roasted nuts, cinnamon and notes of fresh tropical fruits. It’s not overpoweringly sweet on the palate, more like wild honey integrated into the ripe fruits that are weighty and thick on the palate. Such wonderful sweet nutmeg/caramel spices. Pair with fruit tarts and creamy cheeses. (RV)

89 Saladini Pilastro Pecorino Offida 2010, Marche ($17.99)

The rediscovered Pecorino grape is rapidly gaining followers. This excellent example displays elegantly perfumed ripe citrus, tropical fruit and a whiff of banana. Generous yellow fruit flavours come wrapped in a creamy package with incisive acidity and stony mineral. (SW)

89 Ottoventi Grillo IGT 2009, Sicily ($31.79) Mellow ripe Mediterranean fruit scents with a distinctive whiff of mineral. A luscious

mouthful of ripe honeyed citrus and tropical fruit, smoky mineral and vibrant acidity make this a substantial, complex and age-worthy wine. (SW)

88 Concilio Contessa Manci Pinot Grigio DOC 2010, Trentino ($19.99) If you think Pinot Grigio can be a bit flabby and uninteresting, try this one from Trentino. It is loaded with concentrated citrus and green fruit with subtle nutty overtones buttressed by solid minerality and vibrant acidity. Pinot Grigio as it should be. (SW)

97 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Ornellaia Bolgheri DOC 2008, Tuscany ($185)

A sweetly perfumed nose of tar, currants, anise, concentrated blackberries, elegant oak stylings, minerals and layers of spice. This is the epitome of the Italian Bordeaux-style reds made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It is simply magnificent in the mouth with earthy dark fruits, toasty oak-inspired spices, crushed currants, lush texture, touches of liquorice, mocha, vanilla and a finish that lasts minutes. One to dream about. (RV)

95 Tenuta Luce Della Vite Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2006, Tuscany ($100)

This is only the second release of this Brunello, and it is a beauty (and the best label of all Brunellos!). A wild berry and blackcurrant nose that brings in earth, tobacco, elegant oak and grilled meat notes. The palate reveals concentrated black fruits,


mouth-coating, grippy tannins, lavish spice and layers of pleasure through the long finish. Can cellar for 15 years or more. (RV)

94 San Felice Vigorello IGT 2006, Tuscany ($53)

Depth of blackberry and currant fruit on the nose with smoke, sweet spices and wood/vanilla notes. The rich fruits are revealed in layers on the palate with spice, earth and ripe tannins chiming in. It has length through the finish and lingering notes of fruit and oak-inspired spices. Simply gorgeous. Serve with grilled steaks and roasts or with savoury meals. (RV)

94 Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2006, Tuscany ($60) This is an old-style red with a nose of roasted meats, leather, dried flowers and tobacco all built around a core of blackberry and currant fruit. It’s soft and earthy on the palate with concentration of fruit, mingling spice, firm tannins and length through the palate. A superstar. Pair with pheasant and anything that includes truffles. (RV)

94 Antinori Guado al Tasso 2007, Bolgheri Superiore ($89.95)

This wine possesses a left bank nose of pencil shavings, smoke, tobacco/herbs, cassis, vanilla, roasted morello cherry and plums. It is full bodied, ripe, concentrated and elegant with superb length and tannins to allow for 15 years of graceful aging. It is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. (ES)

94 Castello di Ama L’Apparita IGT 2007, Tuscany ($164.95)

L’Apparita is one of Tuscany’s top two Merlots (the other is Masseto). Full bodied; the plums, dark cherries, raspberries, flowers and milk chocolate are built on an elegant, yet structured frame. The long aftertaste just keeps on pumping out the fruit. Hold it until 2015, as it is still not showing its full potential, and then drink it until 2030. (ES)

94 Antinori Solaia IGT 2008, Tuscany ($249.95)

Chock full of aromas of plums, vanilla, violets, herbs, graphite and balsamic reduction. In the mouth, nuances of cocoa and spice add more complexity. It is full bodied with a ripe palate, substantial tannins and great length. Drink until 2030. (ES)

93 San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva Poggio Rosso DOCG 2006, Chianti Classico, Tuscany ($53)

blueberry, floral, mint and spice aromas that follow through to the palate with racy, firm yet silky tannins, incredible depth and balance and a long, long finish. Amazing now after being decanted for several hours, but will just get better with 5 more years to evolve. A bargain for Barbaresco. (GB)

92 Antinori Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato 2009, Bolgheri ($29.95)

Il Bruciato is Guado al Tasso’s second wine but, trust me, there is nothing second-class about it. This black wine, a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Syrah is complex, with layers of plums, black cherries, blackcurrants, vanilla, cinnamon and mocha. Full bodied and hearty, the finish just carries on. It will drink well over the next decade. Charred T-bone steaks or beef carpaccio are the best matches. (ES)

This single-vineyard Classico is a rustic, old-style wine that is simply enthralling with roasted meats, game, supercharged dark fruits, spice and funk on the nose. It is beautifully balanced in the mouth with all those interesting and intense fruits linked harmoniously to an array of spice, oak and firm tannins. A throwback style of Chianti that is refreshing to taste. Serve with braised meats or dishes made with savoury sauces. (RV)

92 Castello di Ama Chianti Classico Vigneto Bellavista 2007, Tuscany ($164.95)

93 Ceretto Barbaresco ‘Asij’ DOCG 2006, Piedmont ($64)

Le Volte is what you might call an entry level Super Tuscan and a smart buy in the category. It’s a blend of Merlot, Sangiovese and

Multi-layered and complex with brilliant blackberry,

This CC from Ama offers a significant nose of humus, cherries, cassis, raspberries, mocha, liquorice and coffee. Medium to full bodied, the firm tannins and fresh acid ensure at least 15 years of longevity. (ES)

91 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Le Volte IGT 2009, Tuscany ($30)

Cabernet Sauvignon with cherry, raspberry and wild berry fruits on the nose with soft, integrated spice and herbs. It’s rich on the palate but not overly saturated with lovely fruit-spice balance and an even-handed approach in the use of oak. (RV)

91 Rocca Delle Macìe Roccato IGT 2006, Tuscany ($40)

A 50/50 blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon with a gamey, black fruit nose and touches of liquorice, tar, vanilla toast and oak. It’s concentrated and nicely balanced in the mouth with ripe tannins, meaty/ earthy notes and blackberry, plum and currant fruits. Needs to further integrate in the bottle to reach its peak performance. (RV)

91 Antinori Tignanello IGT 2008, Tuscany ($99.95)

The ‘08 Tignanello is more linear than the richer ‘07. Toast, graphite, morello cherry, humus, cassis, mocha and a slight herbal edge are supported by Sangiovese’s acidity and Cabernet Sauvignon’s tannins. It will age well for a decade. (ES)

91 Castello di Ama L’Apparita IGT 2008, Tuscany ($164.95)

Not as profound as the ‘07, this edition is still a well built and flavourful Merlot. Mint, graphite, plums, cherries, raspberries, earth, spice and herbs reveal themselves on both the nose and palate. There is a long finish with enough structure to last 20 years. (ES)

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//the notes 90 Marchesi Torrigiani Torre di Ciardo 2006, Tuscany ($19.95)

A blend of Sangiovese, Colorino, Canaiolo and Merlot. It’s ruby in colour with a smoky, minerally, black cherry nose. On the palate it’s savoury with flavours of dried cherry, orange peel and earthy tones, firmly structured with good length. Serve it with tomato-based pasta dishes or game pâté. (TA)

90 Ottoventi Nerello Mascalese IGT 2007, Sicily ($43.79)

Ruby purple. Red fruits dominate on the nose with a trace of reduction (an unpleasant odour that goes away after a while and not a defect). Full bodied, the tannins have a little astringent bite but the fruit is abundant. The finish is quite firm. Carafe it for 1 to 2 hours to drink it now, or wait up to 5 years. (GBQc)

88 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale DOCG 2007, Chianti Classico, Tuscany ($25)

Brooding concentrated dark fruit nose with a spectrum of spices led by cinnamon and clove. Intense dark plum, bitter cherry, dark chocolate and liquorice coat the palate, finishing with dry tannins, bags of spice and huge fruit. 5-plus years’ cellaring. (SW)

90 Antinori Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva 2007, Tuscany ($43.95)

89 Antinori Villa Antinori IGT 2006, Tuscany ($23.95)

A lovely nose of currants, blackberry, cassis and raspberry on this classic Chianti Classico, with touches of spice and oak. It’s nicely concentrated on the palate with rich fruit flavours and soft tannins. Always a consistent wine. (RV)

The ‘07 Chianti is a 100% Sangiovese with a perfume of cherries, violets, humus, liquorice and spice. The palate emulates the nose, and the fresh acid and medium body round out the experience. Drink it from 2013 to 2020. (ES)

86 Caldora Sangiovese, Abruzzo ($9.95)

In my never-ending quest for drinkable wines under $10, I came across a red wine from Abruzzo that I have no hesitation in recommending. Deep ruby in colour, it has a nose and flavour of cherries

and mocha. Most appealing, apart from the price, are its soft, ripe tannins. (TA)

86 Rocca Delle Macìe Campomaccione Morellino di Scansano 2008, Tuscany ($13)

What a nice little Tuscan red made with Sangiovese (called Morellino in the region of Scansano). The nose shows cherry, bramble, spice and light oak nuances. Flavours in the mouth include cherry, blackberry and cassis with a lovely mint note. Fantastic bargain wine. Pair with tomato-based pastas, pizza or veal osso bucco. (RV)

/New / Zealand 89 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Marlborough ($18.95)

Oyster Bay makes consistently good wines in the under $20 range. Their 2011 Sauvignon Blanc is one of the best vintages of this variety I’ve tasted from this winery. The wine has that characteristic passion fruit and gooseberry nose with a fresh, clean palate that sustains on mouth-watering acidity for a long time. (TA)

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64 // February/March 2012

89 Astrolabe Voyage Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Marlborough ($23.99)

Its bold style leaves no doubt about its Marlborough origins, with aromas and flavours of gooseberry, lemon grass and lime zest. The sassy palate delivers snappy, green apple acidity, a rich mid-palate texture and a long, dry mineral-y finish. Drink now with a seafood salad. (HH)

89 Schubert Pinot Noir Marion’s Vineyard 2008, Wairarapa ($32.75) Pale ruby. Red fruits and spices (cinnamon) on the nose. Very supple and quite fresh, nice spicy taste and intensely fruity finish, a touch warm. Drink now. (GBQc)

/South / Africa 85 Two Oceans Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Western Cape ($12)

A pretty good bargain sparkler from South Africa with a nose of sweet grapefruit, cut grass, lime and toast. On the palate look for tropical fruits, crisp citrus and a soft bead of bubbles. Pair with oysters, sushi or grilled fish. (RV)


/Spain / 88 Dominio de Aranleón Blés Crianza 2007, Valencia ($14.70) Full ruby. Ripe red fruits, smoke and a hint of barnyard on the nose. Nice medium body, good fruity taste, balanced and overall quite tight on the palate. A good buy. (GBQc)

87 Beronia Tempranillo 2007, Rioja ($10.95)

Great depth of strawberry or cherry flavours with soft tannins. The tradition in Rioja is to age Tempranillo in American oak barrels, which gives the wine a note of sandalwood on the nose. (TA)

86 Montecillo Reserva 2006, Rioja ($18)

The nose displays soft black cherry, plum, mocha and vanilla notes. In the mouth, forward fruits of cherry and anise are balanced with spicy notes of clove and vanilla. A mid-weight wine not overdone in oak. Enjoy with a selection of charcuterie. (RV)

/United / states 92 Rubicon Estate Cask Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley ($75)

This wine explodes with flavour. Dense purple in colour, it offers a nose of concentrated blackcurrant and cedar. Elegant and plush, its sweet black fruit and cola flavours are firmly structured. (TA)

91 Sean Minor Pinot Noir ‘Four Bears’ 2009, Carneros, California ($40) Beautiful aromas of roses,

raspberries, strawberry and wild berry fruit with ripe flavours cascading on the palate and silky texture, excellent structure, length and dimension with more bright wild berry and cherry fruit on the long, elegant and delicate finish. Perfect with traditional Pinot Noir pairings such as salmon, but also an excellent match with Indian cuisine. (GB)

90 Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Mason’s’ 2009, Napa, California ($85)

Rich and ripe with dark flavours of blackberry, blackcurrants, black cherry and hints of mocha with firm, sleek tannins, great concentration and a rich finish. (GB)

89 Kenwood Jack London Merlot 2006, Sonoma ($24.95)

Ruby/garnet. Red fruits and green pepper on the rather shy nose. Firm and full in the mouth, its compact body shows 5 to 7 years’ aging potential. Will improve and become more complex if you’re patient. (GBQc)

89 Sterling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley ($27.99)

Complex cassis, blackcurrant and generous red fruit aromas with alluring herbaceous hints signal it’s a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot (15%) lends suppleness; Cabernet Franc (5%) contributes tobacco notes; while Gros Verdot and Petit Verdot (1% each) add complexity. Poised for grilled fare. (HH)

/Beer / Moinette Biologique, Brasserie Dupont 7.5%, Belgium ($4.99/25 cl)

Spicy, lightly yeasty and fruity aromas with dried fruit flavours, creamy soft texture, a delicate squeeze of lemon and a trace of bitterness on the finish. Dangerously easy to drink. (SW)

Moinette Blonde, Brasserie Dupont 8.5%, Belgium ($5.49/33 cl)

Very similar appearance to Dupont’s Saison, though nose is more astringent with a lightly sour note. Really delicious in the mouth with beautifully balanced citrus, banana and rich, creamy sensations. Soft, rounded spicy finish has a touch of bitterness. (SW)

Moinette Brune, Brasserie Dupont 8.5%, Belgium ($5.49/33 cl)

Shows bottle-conditioned haze, frothy lively head, though dark amber in colour. Warm fruity and malty aromas with a whiff of spice introduce the soft mouthful of rich dried fruit and malt flavours, rounded out with a splash of dark chocolate. A perfect warmer for cold winter evenings. (SW)

Saison Dupont, Brasserie Dupont 6.5%, Belgium ($4.99/330 ml) Undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle (bottle-conditioned) so expect a hazy appearance. Head is foamy and persistent with soft, slightly yeasty and citrusy aromas. Generously full flavours reveal fruity and nutty character with an initial touch of sweetness,

finishing with appetizingly dry bitterness. (SW)

Phillips Amnesiac Double IPA, Victoria, British Columbia ($5.99/650 ml)

Big and bold citrus aromas and lots of hops on the nose, but really well balanced with lots of citrus and a subtle hoppy bitterness on the palate. Just the right amount hoppy aggressiveness. (GB)

Phillips HOP Circle IPA, Victoria, British Columbia ($13.99/6 pk)

Lots of bitter but balanced hoppy aromas. Citrus and hint of maltiness, full and generous flavours, refreshing and a long-lasting finish. (GB)

Phillips Hoperation Tripel Cross Belgian IPA, Victoria, British Columbia ($5.99/650 ml) A full hoppy nose with bright citrus aromas that follow through on the palate with great hoppiness in the forefront, but fresh undertones of citrus fruits, great balance and a long, slightly bitter finish. (GB)

Phillips Longboat Chocolate Porter, Victoria, British Columbia ($5.99/650 ml) Lots of rich chocolate on the nose with plenty of coffee, dark chocolate and cocoa on the palate without being over the top, finishing with lingering dark cocoa. Nice complexity while still being very drinkable. Would be great for braising pork or game or a natural with or in chocolate or coffee desserts, or as a substitute for coffee with dessert. (GB)

tidingsmag.com

\\ 65


riesling on a roll\\

final word

by tony aspler

Trezise told me, “Dan and I had both independently realized that some type of organization was needed for Riesling. He wrote a newsletter about it, and within a month or so I gave a speech at Intervitis Interfructa in Stuttgart in 2007 advocating an international organization, which was very enthusiastically received by the European audience.” The foundation has a global reach, with directors from France, Germany, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and four US states, as well as Len Pennachetti of Cave Spring representing Ontario and Harry McWatters, the founder of Sumac Ridge, representing British Columbia. The Wine Council of Ontario is also a member.

Wine writers love Riesling but even our best efforts to promote this most versatile of grapes are met with consumer resistance. The problem is that most people believe that Riesling is a sweet wine, thanks mainly to the Liebfraumilch syndrome compounded by the Blue Nun bubble — wines that celebrated sweetness for its own sake. Yes, Riesling can be sweet but it can also be so dry that it sucks your cheeks in. And it can offer every shade of flavour in between, from lime juice sour to honeyed sugariness. This is what makes it such a confusing wine for consumers because, unless you’re well schooled in regional knowledge and nomenclature, you don’t know what you’re getting until you pull the cork (or more likely these days, unscrew the cap). An organization called the International Riesling Foundation is here to help. Founded in November 2007 by Jim Trezise, President of New York’s Grape And Wine Foundation, Washington wine attorney Coke Roth, California-based wine writer Dan Berger and others, IRF’s stated mission is to “increase awareness, understanding, trial and sales of Riesling wines through a comprehensive, integrated system of industry cooperation, research, trade education, and consumer communication.”

66 // February/March 2012

The most practical thing that has come out of these noble sentiments is the creation of a guide for consumers that shows just how dry or sweet is the Riesling they have purchased. A horizontal scale on the back label of participating wineries allows the vintner to indicate the style of his or her Riesling with an arrow mark. Germany — the spiritual home of Riesling — was quick to see the value of this simple diagram. The legendary Rheingau producer Schloss Johannisberg now uses the taste profile on its wines exported to the US and China, and Schmitt Söhne has it on all its brands. Next year Schloss Vollrads will follow suit. “The scale is important to the effort to reach out to consumers,” says its creator Dan Berger. Currently, there are over 30 winery members of the IRF, including Cave Spring and Henry of Pelham. While the two Ontario wineries have yet to introduce the sweetness scale to their back labels, Jim Trezise estimates that there are some 100 wineries worldwide who do display it. “But the most important thing,” he says, “is that it’s on more than 26 million bottles of Riesling in the U.S. market, and that has become a game changer.” The IRF is in the business of promoting the consumption of Riesling around the world and they found a willing ally in Paul Grieco, a Toronto-born restaurateur who owns Terroir Wine Bar in New York City. Grieco initiated the national Summer of Riesling in the US — a venture that was supported by restaurants and bars in 28 states. From June 21 to September 22 they all poured Riesling by the glass. Maybe wine writers’ passion for this Cinderella grape will be vindicated at last. • illustration: FRancesco Gallé, www.francescogalle.com


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Tidings February/March 2012