//the darkness of ripasso and amarone//twinkies
A SANE PERSON'S GUIDE
Korean Airlines on cd
//features 20// ahhh
by carolyn evans-hammond The velvety smoothness of Ripasso.
22// to love by michael pinkus
Amarone: from the root amore. Or so we say.
by Rick Vansickle
Niagara’s splash of passion.
by tod stewart Awakening from a dream in Greece.
32// range by tim pawsey
Argentina is getting over its one grape reputation.
34// own it:
A sane person’s guide to insanity
by merle rosenstein Always wanted to own a vineyard? Tidings probes the experts for some tips to help make it happen.
by evan saviolidis Bright days in the Loire valley.
41// Bold is beautiful
by Duncan Holmes
Big recipes get bold flavours.
46// death of the twinkie
by carolyn evans-hammond Is it gone? Sort of.
48// from the sea by Brenda Mcmillan A wave of wine from Portugal’s Algarve.
//Ă la carte 7// Contributors 8// from the editor 11// Conversations Letters to the editor.
14// Umami Joanne Will
17// lazy mixologist Crystal Luxmore
18// Bon Vivant Peter Rockwell
51// Matter of taste sheila swerling-puritt
55// Bouquet Garni Nancy Johnson
66// final word Tony Aspler
//notes 50// the mav notes
54// the food notes
An appetizing selection of food-friendly faves.
58// The Buying Guide
Top wines from around the world scored.
argentina // p. 58-59 Australia // p. 59 Canada // p. 59-61 chile // p. 61 France // p. 61-62 greece // p. 62 italy // p. 62-63 New Zealand // p. 63
55 4 // February/March 2013
Portugal // p. 63-64 South Africa // p. 64 spain // p. 64 United States // p. 64-65 sprits // p. 65 beer // p. 65
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Celebrating 40 years
Opim on cd as Canada’s premier wine club
On January 3rd, 2013, Opimians from coast to coast raised their glasses in honour of our 40 years providing every wine loving Canadian access to exclusive, quality wine.
Our revelries extend beyond this nation’s border; estates and wineries with whom we have built strong, lasting relationships have joined in the fun. An exclusive offer is available to you – commemorative wines crafted in honour of our 40th Anniversary. Viña la Rosa, one of Opimian’s longest standing Chilean suppliers, represents innovation and passion. Their wines are a testament to the relationships built between the vine and people. In honour of our anniversary, they have created a unique blend that is a tribute to our relationship with them. Lot 6954 Cornellana XL 40 Years Red Blend Reserve 2012 can be ordered from Cellar Offering 215.
Share the experience with your friends and family today and you could earn a coupon* for a FREE case of wine! Call 1.800.361.9421 or visit opim.ca *Some restrictions apply; please mention Tidings when you join.
+ more on tidingsmag.com
Follow us on twitter and tumblr Quenchbytidings.tumblr.com twitter.com/quenchbytidings To reduce the impact of numerous wine and food sorties abroad, contributing editor Tod Stewart permanently lives in a different time zone. And while it helps with the jet lag, many complain that he seems somewhat distant.
Quick and Easy Keep healthy with Green Chili and Wild Rice Salad.
Valentine’s Day Discover the secret to moist and flavourful Chocolate Cake.
wine Learn how to choose that extraordinary wine for the special people in your life.
features Nancy Johnson shows you how to throw a delicious Mardi Gras fête.
Michael is an award-winning journalist. He is currently the President of the Wine Writers Circle of Canada and the wine columnist for Ottawa Life and Grand magazine as well as a regular contributor to Tidings, Grapevine and WineFox. In whatever he does, it is Michael’s desire to educate, inspire and encourage others to grow their love for wine and to realize that it’s their palate that ultimately makes the decision.
KitchenMama Welcome spring with a tour and tasting of Niagara Region.
More original recipes; a daily serving
of food and drink news and views; culinary tips, tricks and techniques.
Brenda McMillan follows her passions around the world so she can write about her adventures and pass along her enthusiasm to the UofT SCS learners enrolled in her online travel-writing course. She sees life through rosé-coloured glasses.
Next Month In Tidings 9th annual next big thing issue The lonely story of a grape the misunderstanding of Beaujolais A Tidings Exclusive: We interview Canadian whisky expert Davin de Kergommeaux Wine on tap
Wine critic and London-trained sommelier Carolyn Evans Hammond is a two-time best-selling wine book author. Her latest book, Good Better Best Wines, soared to bestseller in Canada and the US within weeks of release. She is a member of the UK Circle of Wine Writers and the Vice President of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada.
Finger food and other things Coffee blenders talk it up ... And So Much More
//from the editor February/ march 2013 Issue # 309
why would you do it? I might have entertained the idea once or twice. Usually I’ll be in the middle of a vineyard or talking to a truly passionate winemaker and it will hit me — I can do this. But before I think of moving my family to wine country, I have some soul searching to do. You see it’s easy to get caught up in the fervour and delight of the vineyards. The smells entice while your eyes dance around from vine to vine as you imagine a glass full of dreams. Or at least this is what we’d like to believe. Working in any vineyard or winery is just that, work. It isn’t something to be taken lightly. But often we look at our retirement and say, “Wouldn’t it be great.” It would actually. On page 25, Rick VanSickle talks to a number of artisanal brewers and distillers that have gotten to work. They’ve decided to make their mark in a culinary scene famous across Canada and the world. Niagara has seen its fair share of innovators. It’s nice to know we’re not resting on our laurels.
Aldo Parise firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Editors
Gurvinder Bhatia, Tod Stewart Contributing food/web Editor
Nancy Johnson Contributing Lifestyle Editor
Rosemary Mantini Columnists
Tony Aspler, Peter Rockwell, Michael Volpatt, Joanne Will, Sheila Swerling-Puritt, Ron Liteplo Contributors
Sean Wood, Harry Hertscheg, Evan Saviolidis, Gilles Bois, Rick VanSickle, Brenda McMillan, Carolyn Evans-Hammond, Merle Rosenstein, Tim Pawsey, Michael Pinkus, Duncan Holmes Tasters
Tony Aspler, Rick VanSickle, Evan Saviolidis, Gilles Bois, Harry Hertscheg, Sean Wood, Jonathan Smithe, Ron Liteplo and Gurvinder Bhatia COPY DESK
If you’re tiredabout hearing others who make things happen, Merle Rosenstein has something for you on page 34. She’s scoured Canada’s vineyards and winery’s to compile an inviting list of dos and don’ts for those interested in owning a vineyard. It’s not impossible. So if you feel the need to prune, visit tidingsmag.com and let us know about it. I’m sure you won’t be the only one.
Lee Springer, Kathy Sinclair Creative by Paris Associates Art Direction
Aldo Parise Production
ww+Labs, cmyk design, studio karibü Illustrations & Photography
Matt Daley, Francesco Gallé, Push/Stop Studio, august photography, Westen Photo Studio Cover Design
8 // February/March 2013
Louisiana on cd
Frescobaldi Ponte on cd
Now inth our 40 year Kylix Media
I had a very tasty lemon square recently and wanted to give it a try myself. So, I was thrilled to see a recipe for lemon squares (“3 Good Things On A Plate” by Joanne Will). They turned out to be a hit at our Christmas parties. This recipe is definitely a keeper.
R. Lacey, Toronto
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... Duncan Holmes’ “And Then There’s” challenged me in ways I didn’t think I needed challenging ...
I really enjoyed Rick Van Sickle’s article. Apart from the great gift-giving tips, the article made me laugh out loud. Edmond Martins, email
Duncan Holmes’ “And Then There’s” challenged me in ways I didn’t think I needed challenging. I actually like eating offal. It’s the most flavourful of meats, in my opinion of course. But, even I haven’t yet tried pigs’ feet. Preparing Mr. Holmes’ offal recipes will be my New Year’s resolution this year. S. Dann, email
Thanks so much for the great winterinspired cocktail recipes (“Heat-Seeking”, Merle Rosenstein). I’m making good use of them throughout this holiday season. My favourite is by far The Ronald Clayton for its warm smokiness. Twyla Henderson, Calgary
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Kudos to Nancy Johnson for a very tasty sirloin roast recipe. As she notes, many people have turkey and ham with their families. It’s nice to be able to cook up something so delicious and unexpected. Josie Smith, Vancouver
Material chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and fit. Please e-mail your comments and questions to email@example.com.
Charity water same as p 16 dec 2012
spice it up\\
I have to admit …I enjoy grocery shopping way too much, whether it’s just hopping out to the local fruit stand, a full grocery run, or those few occasions when a trip to the farmers market is in the cards. I usually get lost in the smells, the colours and the general hustle and bustle of a busy food terminal. But possibly my favourite aspect of these trips is overhearing other people talk about how they use each of the particular ingredients that might have caught my eye as well. I often wonder if they are going to make something similar to what I will, whether theirs will be better or more exotic. Nowhere is this more highlighted than at a spice shop or in front of a vibrant, rich and fragrant spice rack. It was in this manner that I learned about ras el hanout, a common Moroccan spice mix, for the first time. Upon doing some further investigating I found out that there are hundreds of variations, and traditionally each spice shop had its own secret blend. My rack at home has maybe 25 to 30 jars that are used on somewhat of a regular basis. I am always looking to add to that collection, even if I’m not sure what I would use something for or even know what it is. Perhaps this is most interesting because it’s here that you can take a dish and transport it to another location — you can take a meal to the other side of the world in just a few pinches. My version of ras el hanout contains the following: 1 tsp of ground cumin, ground ginger, turmeric and salt; 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, ground coriander, ground allspice, ground clove, smoked paprika, ground cardamom and cayenne; and a pinch of pepper.* Add more of what you like, leave out what you don’t, but don’t be afraid to try something new and exotic to spice up these winter months. * Ras el hanout can be made in larger batches and kept for future use in a spice jar.
by tom De larzac
moroccan chicken stew 4 4 4 2 1 2 1 1
chicken legs and thigh separated tbsp ras el hanout spice mix tbsp olive oil onions, medium-sized and sliced carrot, diced garlic cloves, finely chopped l basic tomato purée (or 1 large can of diced tomatoes) can of chickpeas cup raisins
1. Preheat over to 325˚F. On the stove preheat a large ovenproof pan (enamelled cast iron works well) on medium-high heat.
2. Season dry chicken liberally with ras el hanout spice mix.
Pour 2 tbsp olive oil in pan and sear half the chicken thighs on each side for 1 1/2 minutes (or until golden brown crust). Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining oil and chicken. Remove all chicken to plate. 3. Add onion and carrot to pan for 1 minute, then add garlic for another minute. Add tomato purée, chickpeas, raisins and 1 tbsp ras el hanout mix to pan. 4. Add back all chicken and ensure it is mostly covered (add chicken stock or water if more liquid is needed based on pan size). 5. Place mixture in oven for 75 minutes. Serve and enjoy! …… Serve with couscous and steamed vegetables. Break out the Moroccan wine (see page 44 of the December 2012/January 2013 issue).
by joanne will
Most chefs consider the stove an essential part of the job — but there are exceptions. Aaron Ash, chef, founder and owner of the popular Vancouver raw-and-vegan restaurant Gorilla Food, recently released a recipe book. Raw-foodists warm their fare no higher than 117˚F, which is roughly the temperature of a hot bath. Instead of the stove, blenders, food processors, dehydrators and juicers are used to turn out delicious (really!) raw pizzas, soups, fruit pies, chocolate desserts — and even a “cheese” made from walnuts. His love affair with food began as a teenager, when he was living in Regina, Saskatchewan. “I worked in an Italian restaurant where I learned a lot about food through a family who also owned a bunch of restaurants in Montreal and were really particular about their ingredients. That was my first fascination with restaurant culture,” says Ash. “Then I ended up getting a job at a health food store and started meeting a lot of older people who were eating organic, vegetarian food; they all seemed to be super-healthy, vital people, and I began to see a pattern. That was another aspect that made me really consider vegetarianism, put it into practice, and experiment with it.” After suggesting to his mother that he drop out of high school and become a chef (a proposition she quickly rejected), Ash learned about preparing vegetarian food through reading and a series of mentors. At the time, there were no vegetarian cooking schools within easy reach of Ash. “It was through experimentation and learning how to feed myself that it all sort of progressed.” And progress it did. He left for Los Angeles, and wound up as personal chef to Beastie Boy Mike D and his wife and new baby. Ash returned to Canada a decade ago. After stints in Vancouver juice bars and vegan joints, Ash began operating a “guerilla” kitchen out of an apartment space he rented specifically for that purpose. In 2006 a customer offered to lease him a small take-away commercial space, and Gorilla Food was born. The take-away window progressed to a sit-down restaurant space, visited by famous veggies such as Katie Holmes, Woody Harrelson and André 3000. A second Gorilla Food location is about to open, and it seems the philosophy Ash adopted years ago, as a teenager, has served him well. “When I was living in Regina and working at the restaurant and health food store, the idea came that I wanted to start a juice bar, but I knew I didn’t have the money to do it at the time. I had read a book, which said ‘do what you love and the money will follow’. It also suggested that if you have a dream you should do all you can aside from where you feel limited and then everything else will kind of come about. So I realized back then that at least I could create a menu, and that’s when I started to formulate the recipes.”
14 // February/March 2013
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Magazines Canada on cd Canadian magazines are inviting.
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soak up valentine\\
I’ve only received 24 long-stemmed red roses once, on my 21st birthday. They weren’t from a lover, or even a man — they were from my aunt. But no matter. I worshipped their crimson velvet petals and breathed in their sweet perfume for a month. Then I hung and dried them. Today (embarrassingly) I keep those dried petals in a wicker box. The rose has a powerful place in our culture. Praised above all other flowers for its romanticism, it’s long been a symbol of love and female beauty. So there are few better ingredients to feature in a cocktail during the month of February. My first thought was that the heady geranial perfume of roses might play well with gin’s delicate botanicals of citrus and juniper. And Romaric LeRoy, the bar supervisor at Montreal’s W Hotel, agreed. “The delicate flavours pair well together.” LeRoy’s “Guns n’ Roses” is a short, dry cocktail made with rose syrup, fresh ginger, fresh lime juice and gin. “It has a very pleasant acidity, and a very fresh and spicy ‘attack’ in your mouth,” he says. LeRoy recommends rose syrup over a rosewater. “The syrup is easier to dose into the cocktail and can act as a sugar replacement, while rosewater is unsweetened and highly concentrated,” he says. As for the gin, he likes Bombay Sapphire’s for its dry, citrusy profile.
And then there’s the fruit. Parisian pastry chef Pierre Hermé is famous for the Isaphan macaron: a rose-flavoured macaron stuffed with rose-petal cream, raspberries and lychee. The sweet rose notes blend subtly with lychee’s floral flavours, while the raspberry adds a contrasting acidity. I decided to riff on this trifecta in a cocktail. Bombay Sapphire’s botanicals replaced that of the lychee, while a squeeze of lemon amped up the acidity and the rose syrup’s sugar added sweetness. For the berry flavour, I tried Chambord, but found the black raspberry and sweet rose together overwhelmed, stripping the gin of its delicate florals. So I tried pomegranate liqueur. It brought a punchier berry flavour to the mix. The result was a juicy, fruity cocktail with a delicate backbone of roses and juniper and a tart punch from the lemon. Plus the pomegranate, bursting with seeds, has its own romantic association — fertility — making it the perfect choice in a seductive tipple.
+ Visit tidingsmag.com/drinks/ for more drink recipes
by crystal luxmore
Gin and Roses 1/2 oz pomegranate liqueur 1 1
oz Bombay Sapphire gin drop rose syrup 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon Mix all the elements together, and top with a touch of soda water.
nasty bug and sweet kick\\
18 // February/March 2013
That’s why Australia can claim it has 165-year-old vines of original Shiraz (a.k.a. Syrah). Like all New World countries, they brought them home from pre-phylloxera Europe. Why are sweeter wines making such a comeback? No kidding. It seems like a wave of sugary juice has hit shore, and we’re all just along for the ride. A few short years ago, if you brought a sweeter wine to a party you’d be laughed back to the old-age home. Today they’re on the tip of everyone’s tongue — not to mention in their mouths. A wine can take a number of routes to sweetness. The most basic is that sugar is added once the fermentation process is finished. While most wines made by that method are pretty low-grade, the Germans allow it for various styles of their quality wines. Winemakers can beef up the sweetness by stopping fermentation early. Fortified wines like port get their sweet expression of fruit that way when a spirit is added to the fermenting juice. The best dessert wines (those with a rich, thickly sweet personality) are made by picking the grapes well past the normal period of harvest. The longer the grapes are on the vine, the more concentrated (and sweet) the juice will become. While waiting to be picked, the grapes of the world’s great “stickies” (like French Sauternes, Hungarian Tokaji and German Beerenauslese) undergo a process called Botrytis Cinerea (a.k.a. noble rot). The fungus pulls water from the grapes, concentrating the sugar components. Then there’s Icewine. With their water frozen solid, the drops of juice squeezed from these grapes is super sweet and nectar-like in flavour.
+ Ask your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Illustration: Matt Daley/Shinypliers.com
What the heck is Phylloxera? It’s a teeny, tiny insect. A particularly nasty teeny, tiny insect. One that enjoys nothing more than sucking the life out of grapevines. A yellowish cousin of the aphid, it was responsible for decimating the European wine industry during the latter part of the 19th century. How’d it do that? Well, the little buggers feed on the leaves and roots of the vines. Their dirty deeds not only poison the vine, they cut off the flow of nutrients as well, which literally starves it to death. Native to North America, phylloxera made its way across the pond to Britain, more than likely attached to some indigenous vines brought over from the United States. It didn’t take long for them to hit the local vineyards across the UK looking for a meal. Hungry for a taste of Italian, German and, especially, French cuisine, they caught a ride to mainland Europe, killing vines from country to country and nearly putting an end to the continent’s ability to produce its prized liquid assets. While North American vine stock had built up a resistance to phylloxera, the Euro stock was fair game in a War of the Worlds-type of scenario. With no experience with the bug they didn’t stand a chance. Kind of like the Martians up against the common cold in that classic sci-fi flick. What saved Europe was the concept of grafting. They attached their vines to North American rootstock, thus creating a viable Franken-vine that could live through a phylloxera attack. Sadly, very few original vines still exist in Europe. If you want to find them you have to go to countries like Chile, Argentina and Australia, where phylloxera has either never reached or, if it has, hasn’t been able to flourish thanks to an inhospitable climate.
by peter rockwell
Rock N’ Roll Your Whiskey Tonight. Traditionally scent, temperature, and taste were the keys to drinking scotch or whiskey. This glass brings two new elements, chilling & motion, to the tasting experience.
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Become the ultimate host by offering your guests a unique wine tasting experience. Separate the wine any way your imagination inspires you; by region, by type of grape or pair a different wine with each course of your dinner. Each mini decanter holds 1/3 of a standard size bottle (750ml).
The unique design molds perfectly into your hand while providing warmth to the cognac. The peak center mixes the cognac while sipping to provide increased aroma and flavour.
Ahhhh Amarone della Valpolicella — affectionately shortened to Amarone, pronounced, Ahhhh-mar-OOOOOOOOHHHH-nayyyyy with a romantic lilt and Italian accent — can be truly lovely. But it can also be a bit rich at times. What other style of table wine buries almost any food you pair it with under an almost impenetrable richness, leaves your tongue furry after a few glasses, and tastes spoonable? by carolyn Evans-Hammond Amarone is made by pressing and fermenting dried grapes. Raisins, really. So the juice and resulting wine is almost thick with extract — a powerful, full-bodied, dry or off-dry vino that rarely dips below 15 per cent alcohol. It’s expensive to produce, pricey to purchase, and a decidedly special occasion pour. The kind of thing you sip by the fire on your birthday, serve with the cheese board to add a splashy finale to a dinner party, or give as a gift to a friend who likes big reds and finds the thought of Old World wines charming — but may be a bit baffled by Barolo or Barbaresco. If you, or someone you know is a die-hard fan, let me share a trade secret. When craving Amarone but hesitant to shell out a hundred bucks for a bottle, reach for the more affordable, more affable, and entirely more drinkable Valpolicella Ripasso, known as a “baby Amarone.” Valpolicella Ripasso is made by adding the leftover grape skins, seeds and lees (dead yeast) from making an Amarone to a batch of basic Valpolicella — a light, dry, cherryscented wine made from freshly harvested grapes — and letting the wine ferment again. This process boosts the booze, body and fruit of this wine, without a lot of added cost. And yes, in case you were wondering, Ripasso literally means re-passed, as in to re-pass the wine over the once-used grape pressings. But this style isn’t without risk. Re-passing a wine over the leftover dregs of an Amarone can undermine the freshness and finesse of a lovely Valpolicella. It can infuse too much of a raisined note, an offputting hint of sherry (due to oxidation), or a whiff of vinegar (known as volatile acidity in dull wine circles). But in the best cases, the result can be swoon-worthy, suggesting a velvety, tightly-knit Amarone — but lighter, cheaper, and, frankly, more drinkable. The Ripasso method has been used for centuries in Italy by more serious producers looking to enrich their Valpolicellas. Guiseppe Quintarelli comes to mind immediately. He has been using the Ripasso technique to take his Valpolicella Classico up a notch for as long as he has been making his mind-bogglingly delicious wines, even though the word “Ripasso” doesn’t appear on his labels. In fact, the word rarely appeared on any wine labels until fairly recently. It was just done. Because it was the right thing to do.
20 // February/March 2013
Albino Armani Egle Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2008 ($14)
Made from the fruit of old vines, this intense red wine shows deep blackberry and bright cherry fruit edged with attractive notes of ginger and chocolate.
Cesari Mara Vino di Ripasso Valpolicella 2010 ($17)
A warm savouriness underpins fresh cherries, stewed plums and macerated mixed berries. Tapers to a long resonant finish.
Masi popularised the Ripasso method in 1964 with its Campofiorin wine, refining the technique in the 1980s by adding crushed, semi-dried grapes to Valpolicella — instead of just residual pressings and lees. In 2009, Italian lawmakers formally recognized Ripasso della Valpolicella with its own DOC designation. And the word “Ripasso” now appears on labels quite often.
Valpantena Torre del Falasco Ripasso Valpolicella 2010 ($17)
A warm, generous wine with a rich, velvety texture, clean berry fruit, and a seamlessness that’s quite fetching.
Monte Zovo Sa’Solin Ripasso Valpolicella 2010 ($18) This trade favourite is consistently delicious, vintage-tovintage. Complex, concentrated, and long. Undervalued.
Le Ragose Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2008 ($19)
Fresh red and black cherry flavours and aromas mix with a dry, earthiness reminiscent of tobacco and herbs. Balanced and long.
Tedeschi Capitel San Rocco Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2009 ($19)
This rather stylish pour shows a slow restraint with fresh fruit neatly hidden behind flavours of bay leaf, rosemary, perhaps a note of cigar tobacco.
Arduini Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2009 ($19)
This attractive bottle shows the bright, youthful, cherry flavours of a classic Valpolicella laced with the dried plum complexity from the Ripasso method, sewn together with dignity and refinement.
Stefano Accordini Acinatico Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2009 ($20)
This “baby Amarone” is an elegant version of Ripasso with juicy, forward notes and stewed berry flavours intertwined with vanilla and nut, earth and warm wood.
Zenato Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2010 ($25)
This intensely flavoured Ripasso teems with deep notes of black cherry, black forest fruit, black plum and cocoa. Zippy acidity pulls it all together to balance the richness.
Egle and Albino Armani
Valpolicella wines, as well as Amarone, are made from the same local grape varieties of the Veneto region in the northeast of Italy. To achieve DOC status, the wines must be made from a maximum of 70 per cent Corvina, which tastes of bright red cherries and warm almond. Other grapes usually blended in include the less interesting Molinara and Rondinella grapes. The naturally high acidity of the grapes in the blend make the wine an excellent food wine — the zing standing up to Italian staples such as tomatoes and tomato sauce. Pizza, pasta with tomato sauce, and veal or eggplant Parmesan are great partners for the wine. And the more flavourful nature of a Ripasso goes well with heartier meat dishes, too, such as braised beef and onions, a roasted leg of lamb, or classic beef stew with sourdough bread. And of course, it carries on beautifully when a meal finishes with a selection of strong cheeses. A cheese board with nutty Grana Padano, buttery Asiago and sharp Parmigiano-Reggiano would be sublime. But even just a wedge of Pecorino would do, maybe with a handful of roasted hazelnuts or almonds. And seasonally speaking, this time of year, when the chill is still in the air, is perfect for pouring. One final word: Ripasso wines don’t age nearly as well as Amarone. Drink them young and fresh, as close to the vintage date as possible — within about five years is best. And at about a fifth of the price of Amarone, they’re priced to quaff, so drink up. •
lov by michael pinkus
Amarone, from the root amore:to love … and for many a fan it was love at first sip. Whether that is the true etymology of Amarone, I can only surmise, but once you’ve tried one of these highly prized wines you never forget it. What do you need to know about Amarone that hasn’t already been said to you by a friend, a loved one, or anyone else you know who drinks Italian wine? It’s the granddaddy of Italian wine, the one that everyone loves and even if you’ve never tasted one you’ve most definitely heard of it. The first misnomer we should dispel is that Amarone is a grape (it’s not, and neither is Valpolicella) — it’s a style and a region within Veneto — the wine is made from a blend of grapes starting with Corvina and Rondinella. The second thing you need to know is the style uses what’s known as the appassimento method — that of drying grapes for anywhere from 60 to 120 days in special drying rooms — where the grapes can lose up to 30 per cent of their water weight, before being pressed. This makes for a wine more robust in alcohol that seems almost unctuously sweet, when in fact it’s dry. Third, Amarone is a wine with great aging
22 // February/March 2013
potential, and it’s almost a crime to drink it young, or without decanting, as it needs time in bottle to amalgamate all those flavours — that’s one of the reasons why producers hold the wine for a minimum of three years before releasing. An offshoot of Amarone is Ripasso, a method used where Valpolicella wine is re-passed or re-fermented using the leftover skins from the making of Amarone. This creates a wine of better concentration and depth with more robust flavours then simple Valpolicella. This new classic method (invented by Masi in 1964) has also made its way over the pond to our shores, where a few wineries are attempting to use Old World know-how in a New World way. While a winery like Foreign Affair is drying its grapes the old fashioned way, Colaneri, Burning Kiln, Reif and a few others are drying the grapes in a fraction of the time it takes their Old World cousins using out of commission tobacco kilns. What takes the Italians up to 120 days can take as little as a week to 10 days in a kiln. And, in case your friends ask, Amarone literally means “the great bitter” … I liked my definition better.
ve Foreign Affair Conspiracy 2010, Ontario ($20)
Colaneri “Visione” Syrah 2009, Ontario ($28) Winemaker Andrzej Lipinski dries a portion of the grapes in tobacco kilns to extract more flavours and ditch some of the excess water (think of it as the appassimento or Amarone-way that the Italians use, just sped up). What he’s come up with is a way to show true flavours even in less than favourable vintages. 50% of these Syrah grapes saw the inside of the drying kiln and managed to maintain real Syrah character. A nose of smoked meat, pepper and raspberry leading to flavours that follow along the same lines yet seem light on the palate. Great finish with well maintained acidity along with white pepper and ramped up spiciness.
Reif Estates The Magician 2011, Ontario ($30) The third time the folks at Reif have made this seemingly strange bedfellow blend of Pinot Noir and Shiraz, but surprisingly it works. A 60/40 blend in favour of the Pinot, where a portion of each variety is dried in kiln — 30 % of the Shiraz and 20% of the Pinot. The result is a wine loaded with dried cherry notes along with hints of earthiness and a supple finish.
Burning Kiln Harvest Party Red 2011, Ontario ($18) This is 100% Cabernet Franc but only 60% is dried; the other 40% is what the winemaker calls “fresh fruit.” Plum and cherry with hints of spice and pepper with quite a nice bite on the finish, though across the tongue it’s smooth and supple.
Back in 2007 The Foreign Affair released its first and only Conspiracy — an appassimento-style wine: they re-poured or re-passed the wine over Amarone-style wine skins, creating what the wineries in Veneto call Ripasso (Ripassa). The results are a fleshy fruity wine with the holding power of close to a decade. Lots of red and black fruit lead the charge on this nose here with hints of chocolate. This follows onto the palate with plenty of ripe fruit. This one’s very approachable and easy drinking now, but will be even better in 2 to 3 years and a real winner in 5 to 7.
This is a fully appassimento-style wine, but instead of 120 days of drying, the grapes get 5 weeks in their special room. 83% Cabernet Sauvingon (dried) with 17% Cabernet Franc (not dried) — nice cherry and spice notes with hints of blackberry and vanilla. This needs a few years to mellow, or you can decant it, because it’s a little rough around the edges if opened right now.
Colaneri ‘Corposo’ 2009, Ontario ($19)
Masi Tupungato Passo Doble 2010, Argentina ($14)
This wine is a total delight by one of NOTL’s newest wineries. It’s done in the Ripasso style. It really brings out the fruit in this wine with lovely cherry and raspberry complimented by sweet vanilla notes; it’s ripe, ready and sippable now, but should benefit from another 5 years of aging with no problem.
A double dose of wow in this bottle from the granddaddy of Ripasso, and this is one with an Argentine twist. Corvina (Italian) and Malbec (Argentina) are the dried grapes used, both grown in Argentina. The result is a spicy, dark fruited number that is cellar-worthy for 7-plus years.
Cave Spring La Penna 2008, Ontario ($40)
Masi Costasera 2008, Veneto, Italy ($40)
Dindo Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2008 ($45)
This is Masi’s “flagship” wine and in 2008 they’ve outdone themselves, but at a cost to those who love their single vineyard offering. According to Masi, 2008 was not a great vintage, so their exceptional single vineyard Amarones were not made, instead they were declassified and the grapes make an appearance here. Lovely plum, cherry, chocolate with spice and anise notes — elegant and delicious.
Aromas that lure one into the glass: red fruited with cherry and raspberry wafts up into the nose, reminiscent of the Douro Valley reds, with some plum and chocolate to back it up. The palate delivers on the promise of the nose with full-on red fruit, cherry compote and spice cake, super sweet and super lush, smooth and supple.
Ca Vegri Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2008 ($50) The fruit here doesn’t exactly pounce out of the glass, it’s more like it drifts: herbal blackberries, with a whiff of chocolate, hint of plum and cherry cola — very pretty. Subtlety continues with lots of ripe red fruit, chocolate cherries and vanilla, along with a nice acid/tannin balance. This wine shows some finesse and elegance and should be one to hold for the long haul.
Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2008 ($40) Starts off very closed with herbal and balsamic notes that seem to carry little to no fruit. What you get on the nose you’ll find on the palate though it’s very smooth and easy with a little bite on the finish — this one should evolve nicely over the next decade.
Michele Castellani Cinque Stelle Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2007 ($55) A very rustic Amarone that needs time to find its fruit. Leather and tea notes envelope coffee and herbs, decant if drinking now or wait another 5-plus years before even considering drinking.
Recchia Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2008, Masua di Jago ($40)
Tedeschi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2007 ($21/375 ml) When you can’t wait the prerequisite 8 to 10 years a half-bottle is the way to cut that time a little (as big bottles age slower). Mocha, blackberry, tobacco and blackcurrants all make an appearance here.
This is a surprising Amarone that at first sniff might not be everyone’s cup of tea: earthy, barnyard-ish aromas that you would swear was Pinot if not for the high alcohol … but the palate wins you over with earthy, minerally notes, with nice balance of blackberry and spiced black cherry, and a great lingering mouthfeel; there’s even some chocolate in here giving the wine a certain balance and pleasantness to the finish.
Masi Serego Alighieri Vaio Armaron Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2005 ($70)
Giuseppe Campagnola Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2008, Vigneti Vallata do Marano ($40)
Roccolo Grassi Amarone della Valpoicella 2008 ($35)
The nose has interesting herbal, red currant, and balsamic soaked raspberries, while the palate is soft and approachable with hints of white pepper and spiced red cherries. A real hedonistic pleasure of a wine.
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This Alighieri gets aged 4 to 6 months in cherry wood, which seems to give it a little more lift in the fruit department: plum, red berries, chocolate, tea leaf, coffee, spice — it’s all here and all so well integrated.
Best of both worlds: balsamic and black cherry, along with cocoa and vanilla — palate does not disappoint as all those aromas come racing into the mouth pleasantly and with such a nice balance, nothing overwhelms or overpowers; elegant with some black pepper on the finish. •
artisans by rick vansickle
He is a tall, strapping man, all of 27 years old,and looks more like the star quarterback than a man who tinkers with high-octane booze all day long. But that’s the path master distiller Geoff Dillon, with degrees in biochemistry and economics, has taken in the heart of Niagara wine country. Dillon is on the frontline of a taste revolution that is being fuelled by discarded grapes, locally grown wormwood, lavender, all kinds of mint and juniper as well as future crops of rye, grains, hops and the seasonal fruit of Niagara. It is borne of passion, fine craftsmanship and artisanal flare. And it is manifested in fine craft whiskies, gins, vodkas and myriad craft beers that have quickly become part of the Niagara mosaic. It is being driven by young, passionate entrepreneurs who see the potential among the vineyards, the booming wine industry, and the influx of gourmet food trucks and chefs who have moved into the region to add a little sizzle; a giant jolt of yumminess that you can enjoy once you’re done with that glass of fine Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. Or maybe, just maybe, instead of wine. For Dillon, who opened the doors to Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers in November, it’s all about the extraordinary potential of the region. “Niagara was such a natural fit for the distillery,” he says. “Between the amazing fruit grown here, the abundance of wineries and the open spaces I cannot imagine being anywhere else. There isn’t anything you can’t have in Niagara. It’s an amazing microcosm of food, landscapes and people and we hope Dillon’s can help play a role in its culture.”
Dillon’s isn’t the first distillery in Niagara. Kittling Ridge in Grimsby, now renamed 40 Creek Distillery, has been turning heads and winning awards for its range of high-end of whiskies for years. But Dillon’s is not attempting to reach that level of production. It is focused squarely on small-batch spirits hand-crafted from its production facility shared by Angels Gate Winery, using the bounty of natural botanicals, herbs and fruit sourced from Niagara. The location in Beamsville, Ontario was chosen for its proximity to the local ingredients used in Dillon’s spirits. “This has given us the advantage of seeing farmers every day who grow great stuff in our backyard, and they have made it readily available to us,” says Dillon. The first distilled products are made from a base of 100 per cent Niagara grapes from Angels Gate that would otherwise be thrown to the ground during the annual thinning process. They are dropped into baskets, fermented and distilled. Dillon says many of the herbs and botanicals that make up the recipes for the distilled gins, vodkas, absinthe and other products that will be made at Dillon’s are either “grown by us or by local farmers for us. Our grain is sourced locally and we have an abundance of fruit everywhere you turn in the Twenty Valley,” he says. “The story of our ingredients is the story of Dillon’s. We have access to fresh local product grown by so many amazing people using healthy, responsible practices on some of the best growing soils in the world. These elements are fundamental and without them we wouldn’t be doing it.”
In the meantime, Dillon’s will have a range of products available for sale when it opens its doors. (At the time of writing, it was still waiting for its retail licence and was expected to open at the end of November.)
Dillon and his father, Dr. Peter Dillon, a professor at Trent University who specializes in biogeochemistry, are working on the distillery project with the Young family, who own Angels Gate winery in Beamsville. “From a winery owner perspective, I think that Dillon’s adds significantly to the entire Niagara landscape,” says John Young, president of Angels Gate Winery. He hopes that the distillery “increases the awareness and attention to what is going on in Niagara” and will “add to and complement the exciting wine industry that is being developed in the Niagara region.” It also provides another outlet or “second use” for Ontario grape and tender fruit farmers. The grape-based spirit that they use provides the quality base for the various distilled products. But the backbone of the company’s products will be its Canadian rye whisky. “Most people don’t know that Canadian rye whisky can be (and is) made with as little as zero per cent rye then coloured and flavoured,” says Dillon. “We are here to change that. Our whisky is made with 100 per cent Ontario-grown rye (eventually 100 per cent Niagara-grown) and I know people will be blown away when they taste it.” Dillon says that with each product they make the aim is to be “honest and open. We not only list all the ingredients used but where they come from on every label.” The first batch of whisky has been distilled and is now aging in barrels from oak farmed in Ontario. It will take three years before the whisky is ready to buy.
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During a tour of the distillery in late October,the final touches were being made on the elaborate tasting room and kitchen while Dillon was experimenting with different distilled products including the Small Batch White Rye, with a delightful nose of rye, minerals and a touch of citrus; the Small Batch Gin, a mellow and smooth elixir with notes of juniper, herbs, tonic and spice; a chocolate mint spirit and a local version of absinthe, made from wormwood grown by Dillon’s father in his garden, with 65 per cent alcohol and delicious flavours of anise and liquorice with a big kick on the finish. There will be no spirit that they can’t and won’t make. A big part of the program will see seasonal spirits made from the fresh fruit that Niagara grows including peaches, pears and cherries that will be purchased and processed at Dillon’s, with the pure juice added straight into the still for blending. Dillon’s will also make its own bitters, tonics and sodas that can be used to mix with the various spirits. At the centre of the experience are the stills that are radically different than what you would find at a large distillery. “Most Canadian whisky is made in continuous distillation columns while we are returning to copper pot stills,” says Dillon. “We have built the first of its kind, a mashing-stripping still, as well as having two copper columns with variable plates that allow us to precisely create a whole host of spirits. “A big part is to show people exactly what we are doing and how we are doing it,” he says. “We will show you the grain coming in and the whisky going out. We are using traditional levels of quality while utilizing modern techniques and equipment to create authentic products, and I think people will love them,” he goes on. The Dillon’s brand is being developed by Insite Design, a Burlington company with deep roots in Niagara. On a visit to the distillery in October, Insite’s Barry Imber was busy getting the tasting room ready for the November opening. “The concept of the tasting room is to basically walk into the brand — the essence of which is a room that’s part industrial distillery chic, part country general store, and part 1920s road bar. The space is not retro, just reflective, while also being modern and stripped down and simple. “We hope to shift away from a typical tasting room to more of a bar metaphor. We have created a more theatrical space where Dillon’s can take their time to tell their story and mixologists can engage people in the craft side of the spirits.”
Eventually they hope to expand the experience by allowing guests to utilize the distillery “lab” where people will be able to interact with the distiller and his range of botanicals and fresh ingredients. Not only will they learn about what goes into a natural alcohol product, they can even select ingredients for their own custom distillations or infusions. Mixologist Nick Nemeth, who has radically changed the drinks business at Bravo Grill in Niagara Falls with his modern and fresh approach to the cocktail, welcomes artisanal producers to Niagara. “It challenges people like myself,” Nemeth says. “The whole booze tourism thing can happen now. It raises the standard for what people expect when they come to Niagara.”
“We want to be agri-centric,” says MacNeill. “We’re going to tackle the brewing game the Niagara way.” And, “if it’s not grown down the street, we want it from this country.” That includes malt from Saskatchewan and Canadian oak barrels from Ontario for the vintage, age-worthy beers being planned. The foundation of the beer program will be the Oast House Barnraiser, a brew similar to a pale ale with a fresh, vibrant feel on the palate and flavours of hops, citrus and tangerine. It’s our “everyday beer,” says MacNeill. They hope to have it on tap at pubs throughout Ontario. Two other beers that will be made year-round include the Farm House Ale Saison, a Belgian-style beer with a refreshing yet complex palate with spiced pepper notes that pairs well with food; and the Farm House Ale Bière de Garde, which is more malt driven with citrus peel and a touch more residual sugar. MacNeill says that after that, it’s wide open and the brewery hopes to make a range of seasonal brews with whatever works.
And it’s not just the emergenceof the new distillery that excites Nemeth, it’s also the craft beer industry that has seen two new, small artisanal mirco-brewers begin operation this fall. Both Silver Smith Brewery and Oast House Brewers were set to open in November down the road from each other on Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-theWhitney Rorison, Kevin Somerville Lake. Cian MacNeill and his partners Mike and Cain MacNeill from oast Berlis and brewmaster Kevin Somerville gutted the Forum Gallery antique shop and created a dynamic space for the Oast House Brewery production facility, retail store and tasting room. There are synergies with the Niagara wine industry, with both Berlis and MacNeill being accredited sommeliers and MacNeill formerly an assistant winemaker at Tawse. Somerville, 27, who is also the co-ordinator of the brewery program at Niagara College, says there has “never been a better time to start a craft brewery.” Oast House, like Dillon’s, plans on using as many local ingredients in their beer as they can, and that includes growing their own hops to discover what grows best locally and making seasonal brews with whatever Niagara has to offer.
“We’re playing to the availability of the season with a range of styles,” he says. Visitors to Oast House can tour the brewery, enjoy samples in the tasting room and purchase the wines from the retail outlet. There will also be a growler program where enthusiasts can come in and fill their two-litre containers with their favourite beer to take home. So, when you add it all up, Niagara just got a whole lot better. It’s no longer just a mecca for Ontario wine lovers. The range of flavours run the gamut from fine whisky and gin to tasty, hand-crafted beers and, of course, every style of wine imaginable. Now, that’s something we can all drink to. •
} red } Lu
by tod stewart
“Between skin and skin, there is only light.” John Fowles, The Magus
I have no idea what that line means. Then again, it’s been well over 30 years since I read The Magus and I’ve forgotten most of it, including the context of that bit. What I didn’t forget was the novel’s vivid descriptions of the Greek islands and how they left me pining to pay a visit. Finally, I’m here. What I do know, at this moment, is that the only thing between my skin and the warm September air is a fine dusting of Grecian sea salt; a gift of the azure Aegean from which I’ve just emerged. It’s about 10 in the morning and the sun is well over the eastern horizon. The sky is cloudless and as blue as the sea and I’m lying on a lounge chair of the Doryssa Seaside Resort located in Pythagorian on the southeastern coast of the island of Samos. Life, frankly, seldom gets much better. I’ve been lured (with absolutely no hesitation) to Hellas to experience, in too few days, the food, wine, culture and spirit
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that has become the country’s national libation and global liquid ambassador (hint: we’re not talking ouzo). I touched down on Samos and was immediately whisked to the island’s north shore to familiarize myself with the ubiquitous Muscat vines and historic wines extracted from them. Muscat (sometimes referred to as “moschoudi” in Greece), as those familiar with it know, is one of the most aromatic of the so-called “aromatic” white grape varieties. The 1,600 or so hectares of bush-like vines that thrive up to 900 metres on the steeply terraced Samian hillsides are of the Muscat blanc à petits grains or Muscat de Frontignan strain. Clocking in somewhere between Riesling and Gewürztraminer on the olfactory scale, it can, depending on the region, winemaking technique and specific clone, yield wines that are bone-dry (Alsace), light, moderately sweet and fizzy
(Italy) or deep, lusciously honeyed and concentrated — the style for which those of Samos are famous. The grape itself has a bit of an interesting history on the island, explains Yannis Skoutas, a local agronomist who is guiding me through one of the four vineyard plots he manages. “When the vineyards of France were destroyed by phylloxera, the French came to Samos to find Muscat vines to replant. Then, when phylloxera killed the vines on Samos, we went to France to get our Muscat back.” Skoutas’s four vineyards cover only about one-and-a-half hectares. In fact, the vineyards of Samos typically consist of relatively small family holdings, none of which are large enough to supply fruit to make sufficient wine to satisfy an international market. To rectify this, and to ensure each vineyard owner was paid a fair price for his fruit, a unique system was developed. In 1934 the Union of Vinicultural Cooperatives of Samos (EOSS) was established to act both as the sole purchaser of the island’s Muscat grapes and to produce the wine. Today, local village cooperatives — 24 or so that combine over 3,000 individual growers — manage the sale of fruit from individual family vineyards and, aside for a small amount used for personal winemaking, sell the fruit to EOSS. In fact, they can’t
“The Greek wine revolution has been happening for some time now, I would say since the early 1990s,” Stellios Boutaris, Managing Director for Kir-Yainni winery reveals to me over dinner at Toronto’s terrific Estiatorio Volos. “Many new wineries emerged at this time and the restaurant scene was changing as well with modern, upscale establishments opening that had sommeliers and extensive wine lists.” Good news for the home market; not so good news for the rest of us. “The demand for quality table wines at home made it such that exporting was impractical. I mean, if you are a winery that’s sold out of stock for six months of the year, why bother worrying about exports?” A few things, however, did get local winemakers worried about exports. The downturn in the local economy and the realization that if you wanted to be a serious player in the international wine game you had to have a global presence. “The last four to five years have seen a real push for exports,” says Boutaris, adding that perhaps the most significant shift towards world-class quality has come with increased attention to vineyard ownership and vine cultivation. “We say, ‘you make a good wine in the winery; a great one in the vineyard.’ We were one of the few wineries that owned its own land and cultivated its own grapes,” Boutaris notes. “Now, with more and more wineries realizing the importance of growing their own grapes, the real revolution is about to begin.”
sell to anyone other than EOSS. EOSS, in turn, is obligated to buy all the fruit these local co-ops offer and make all the commercial wine of Samos. It’s a system that’s not mimicked anywhere else in Greece and is often referred to as the grape equalizer in that it ensures that all grape growers are paid fairly. Of course, EOSS has also instigated a number of stipulations and controls to ensure the fruit it “has” to buy is of a quality level worth buying. What’s also interesting about the vinous topography of Samos — outside of the topography itself — is the connection of families to vineyards. As Skoutas explains, many families have vineyards on the island, passed down from generation to generation, along with the knowledge
of how to tend to them. But as mentioned earlier, these parcels tend to be small, so their owners typically have day jobs. However, whether you are a banker, lawyer, doctor or cab driver, you are expected to ensure the welfare of your vines. “Everyone from five to 95 does something in the vineyard,” says Skoutas with both a laugh and a sigh. This sort of volunteer work apparently isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, you are expected to carry on tradition. And everyone does. Anyway, it’s after 11 a.m. and as much as hanging on the beach has been fun, there’s serious work (if you can call it that) to be done. So I’m off to one of the two wineries run by EOSS to sample the real fruit of the family labour.
Over twisting roads that snake along the lush, rugged countryside, we arrive at our destination overlooking the picturesque capital city of Vathi. Most of the wine made at the EOSS wineries is exported, with 70 per cent of production destined for France alone. Though some dry Muscat wines are produced (which I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying on a few occasions), the jewels of Samos are its sweet versions. I taste through the range of these wines including the Grand Cru, Vin Doux, Anthemis and Nectar. The wines differ primarily based on whether or not the grapes have been sun-dried prior to fermentation as well as the aging regime. The wines are fortified with grape spirit, leaving them naturally sweet and raising the alcohol level to 15 per cent.
The Next Greek Wine
Kir-Yianni Akakies Sparkling Rosé 2010 ($14.50) The newest addition to the Kir-Yianni portfolio and made entirely from the Xinomavro grape. Bright salmon-pink with bright fresh strawberry/ wild berry notes on the nose, it sports a creamy mouthfeel with just a bare hint of sweetness. The finish is crisp and refreshing.
petra 2011 ($15.50)
A 100% Roditis-based white wine showing a fragrant aroma of melon, citrus, white flowers, almond and a hint of anise. Mid-weight and slightly viscous on the palate, its flavours of mineral, citrus, melon and a hint of vanilla fade slowly on the long, memorable finish.
Ramnista 2009 ($18.95)
Stellios Boutari notes that the Xinomavro is KirYainni’s “signature grape” and that it is similar in some ways to the Italian Nebbiolo variety due to its tannin/acid structure. Indeed, this sample showed ripe, sweet black cherry compote, kirsch, black olive, red liquorice and a touch of violet on the nose. Dry with dusty plum, some smoky overtones and a hint of leather, it is still quite young with high tannin and acidity. A bit rough on its own but an absolutely perfect match with Estiatorio Volos’ Lamb Sausage with Wild Mushroom and Thyme Jus.
Two Olives 2008 ($35.95)
A Xinomavro/Syrah/Merlot blend and the first wine Stellios himself crafted. “I’m not a winemaker; I’m a mathematician!” he admitted. Well, maybe we need more mathematicians as winemakers. Intense, forward aromas of smoke, black raspberry, tar and wet slate follow through in the mouth with a big, meaty, solid core of black fruit buttressed by characteristically muscular tannins and acidity.
Diaporos 2008 ($50)
Largely Xinomavro with a splash of Syrah, the 2008 Diaporos unleashes smoky/flinty nuances accompanied by lush blackcurrant, dried herbs, lead pencil and menthol. Deep and complex with mineral, chocolate, leather and blackberry with medium tannins evident on the finish.
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Though the sweet wines of Samos are justly famous, the country’s top-quality dry table wines are by no means taking a back seat. In fact, the world’s wine cognoscenti are becoming much more aware of the unique and complex wines being crafted by wineries like Kir-Yianni. I am lucky enough to be introduced to these wines in a rather spectacular way, at an incredible dinner at the Orizontes restaurant. From its perch atop the Lycabettus Hill — the highest point in Athens — and accessed via a designated trolley, the Orizontes terrace view spans this entire ancient city from the Acropolis to Piraeus and beyond to the Saronic Gulf. And while it is here that I am introduced to the wines of Kir-Yianni, it will be another month before I meet Stellios Boutaris, the winery’s Managing Director, at a dinner tasting of his wines (see sidebars). With the clock well past midnight and dinner winding down at Orizontes, I am, in a roundabout way, taken back to the wines of Samos. While anise-flavoured ouzo may be the spirit tourists think of when Greece is mentioned, the country’s true connoisseur potion is one that marries aged brandy, aged Samos Muscat wine and a special “secret ingredient” containing (among other flavour and aromatic components) May rose petals macerated in distilled water for over a year. The first spirit consumed in outer space, Metaxa, originally created by Spyros Metaxa in 1888, remains to this day one of the top internationally exported spirits. Ask for “brandy” in Greece and you get Metaxa. The only variant is whether you’d prefer five-star or seven-star (designating years of age).
METAXA Master Costas Raptis
“In the 19th century most spirits were harsh and burned the palate,” explains Metaxa CEO Panagiotits (Panos) Sarantopoulos as we walk through the cavernous aging cellars of the Metaxa complex located just outside of Athens. “Spyros Metaxa had a vision of creating a spirit that would be generous on the senses, intensely aromatic and, above all, smooth on the palate.” In using grape rather than grain distillate and adding the Muscat wine, a smoothness and richness was achieved. The addition of the aromatic maceration added additional complexity and virtually guaranteed the resulting elixir could not be duplicated. In fact, it is in the blending of the three elements, I am to learn firsthand, where the real art lies. Without the talents of the Metaxa Master — who at once must possess the skills of a spirit blender, a winemaker and a perfumer — the formula could not be successfully recreated year in, year out. Today, that man is Costas Rapitis, the fifth Master in the company’s history. Trying to duplicate what he does is a humbling experience. Before me are beakers containing distillate, wine, and the secret ingredient, along with measuring vessels and pipettes.
There’s also a sample of the Master’s Blend, which I am to replicate. Um, fat chance. My attempt comes across as a bit too sweet, plush and wine-heavy. “A bit like a big leather armchair you sink into,” Sarantopoulos observes with some diplomacy. Turns out that tasting through the range of Metaxa expressions is a lot easier (and less humbling and more enjoyable) than trying to copy them. And with the guidance of Rapitis and Sarantopoulos I sample the entire portfolio, from the entry-level fivestar to the incomparable, limited edition Metaxa AEN in the firm’s ultra-modern (read: James Bond movie set) tasting room. Having learned the history of the House of Metaxa, tasted both the raw materials and the final product, tried my hand at blending and, in general, lived the Metaxa life, I am granted the title of Metaxa Academician (and I have the papers to prove it). My trip to Greece is at what feels to be a premature end. As I watch the sun set over the Acropolis, a snifter of seven-star in hand, I think about the unfortunate negative publicity this beautiful country has been receiving in the international media. Yes, this is a time of hardship but Athens is not burning. I drift off to sleep, dreaming of the beaches of Samos, blissfully unaware that my flight home the next day has, in fact, been cancelled.
EoSS (Samos) Samos anthemis 2006
The Samos Anthemis offers up a moderately complex aromatic profile not unlike a vin santo with some rancio notes followed by caramel, dried fig and sultana raisin. Rich and honeyed, it shows flavours of cocoa, toffee and caramel that ride along on a persistent finish.
Samos Grand Cru 2011
Peach, apricot and mineral on the nose; rich, viscous and smooth with flavours of peach, apricot and marmalade.
Samos Vin Doux 2010 Aromas of candied citrus and some spice give way to a moderately sweet palate featuring nuances of ripe orange, caramel and exotic spices.
samos nectar 2007
Crafted from sun-dried grapes and aged over a period of 3 years, Samos Nectar is likely the oldest style of wine crafted by the Union. A mild whiff of acetate gives way to a nose reminiscent of a fine, aged Oloroso sherry with an intense, walnut-like character that segues into an intense nutty, mildly woody, carameltinged flavour profile capped off by a long, mildly spicy end note.
Metaxa The proportions of distillate,
wine and “secret ingredient” as well as the length of time spent aging vary from expression to expression.
Metaxa Five Stars ($24.95)
Fruity (orange zest and raisin) with violet and honey overtones, the entry-level, 5-year-old Metaxa is smooth and viscous in texture with flavours suggesting dried fruit and honey with a slightly spicy note to it and just a hint of wood.
Metaxa Seven Stars ($29.95)
Spicy fruit aromas with nuances of peach pie and sultana raisin on the nose lead to by a rich, oily mouthfeel and traces of cocoa, exotic spice, buckwheat honey and a mild nuttiness.
Metaxa 12 Stars ($75)
The complexity ramps up several notches with the 12-year-old expression. Deep mahogany in colour, it boasts a complex aromatic collage featuring nutty/sherry notes, dried fig, apricot, marmalade and cocoa powder. Flavours of caramel and cocoa are nicely integrated and mixed in with some tobacco leaf and citrus. The finish is long with lingering traces of orange chocolate.
metaxa private reserve ($125)
Included in the blend are distillates aged up to 30 years. Buckwheat honey, spices, tobacco leaf, dried fig and a subtle note of polished wood all make themselves noticed on the nose. Drier in profile than the previous samples, it is crisp, spicy and complex with hard toffee/orange zest flavours. The finish is gloriously long and memorable.
aeN MeTaXa ($1600)
Pronounced “eye-ann” and meaning “forever” (or “one” when spelled backwards), a mere 1888 bottles of this fascinating spirit were bottled in 2008 in celebration of Metaxa’s 120 years of international success. Sourced solely from Cask No. 1 (also known as “Spyros’ cask”) containing spirits that have been blended and matured for over 80 years. Incredible aromatics leaning towards cigar box, antique wood, leather, basil, nutmeg, chocolate and lemon oil. Closest approximation I could come up with was a really good vintage Armagnac (though I think I may have ruffled a feather or two with the suggestion). Complex, honeyed and dry with layers of exotic spices, vanilla, mineral, chocolate and leather than go on forever. A truly unique and incomparable spirit. •
range by tim Pawsey
Argentina has become synonymous with Malbec, which isn’t a bad thing. However, experience elsewhere has shown that over-dependence on one variety can prove challenging in the long run. If consumers have adopted Malbec — with its fruitforward, very approachable style — as the new Shiraz, it may be only a matter of time before they start to look elsewhere. Happily, however, in Argentina’s case they won’t have to look very far. Malbec’s notoriety has hinged on its approachability (and on Canadian monopolies’ tendencies to focus heavily on entrylevel value.) But dig a few dollars deeper and you’ll find there’s a whole lot more to Malbec than meets the eye. And you’ll be well rewarded for the few extra dollars. Within Mendoza, Luyan de Cuyo and Uco Valley have been gaining plenty of attention over the last few years — particularly for their high altitude plantings (ranging between 900 to 1600 metres, in the Andes foothills), which can yield more complex and intense wines. In fact, high altitude plantings are now part of Argentina’s wine lexicon, with the abbreviation MASL — metres above sea level — in common use. Nor is Malbec the only game in town. No shortage of noteworthy Cabernet Sauvignon, other Bordeaux varietals, Tannat and Syrah are increasingly skilfully blended into middle and upper tier wines. The ever growing range of varieties and blends from Salta and Patagonia as well as Mendoza also add up to excellent partners for Argentina’s varied regional cuisines, which roam well beyond the usual perception of (excellent) beef, and more beef.
32 // February/March 2013
During our recent visit, we encountered dishes as varied as mildly flavoured mountain hare (substantial, roasted and served whole), sinfully rich blood sausage (morcilla), and exquisite and perfect clay oven baked lamb empanadas.
Ben Marco Malbec 2009, ($24)
Blended with 8% Bonarda. Crushed red berry aromas with layers of raspberry, mulberry and darker notes, an earthy mineral edge and intense, lingering close. From pioneering Susana Balbo. Think morcilla ... Excellent value.
Laborum El Porvenir de Los Andes Syrah 2011, Cafayate ($22)
From vineyards at 1750m. Good varietal nose with meaty, gamey notes on the palate showing good structure, with bright red fruits before dark, spicy, and leather notes with good tension, acidity and firm but integrated tannins.
Zorzal Malbec 2011, Tupungato, Uco ($25)
Vibrant red berry aromas, approachable, fruit-forward cherry and dark fruit layered palate before a gently spicy end.
Bodega Fin Del Mundo Special Blend Riserva 2009, Patagonia ($34) Red and black fruits with chocolate and damson on the palate wrapped in silky, supple tannins, spicy notes and a lengthy close.
Coquena Tannat 2011, Cafayate ($20) From 1700m vineyards. Blue and black fruits on the nose, supple and smooth, remarkable for Tannat, with blackberry and bramble, almost a touch of blackstrap molasses, plush dark chocolate hints, with well managed but firm tannins and a lengthy end.
Colomé Estate Malbec 2010, Calchaqui Valley ($30)
Achaval Ferrer Quimera 2010, Mendoza ($50)
Classic blend of Malbec (40%), Merlot (25%), Cab Sauv (20%), Cab Franc (15%) and Petit Verdot (5%) yields intense, lively blackberries on the nose followed by vibrant but not cloying pure fruit on the layered and well structured palate wrapped in silky tannins with violet hints, black cherry, mulberry and some spicy notes, followed by a lengthy finish.
85% Malbec, with Tannat, Cab Sauv, Petit Verdot and Syrah. Red and black fruits on the nose with palate of forward deep red berries and spicy notes wrapped in vibrant, juicy acidity balanced with well managed tannins (no new oak used) before a generous finish.
Mendel Unus 2010 ($45)
Polished blend of old vines Malbec (70%) and Cabernet (30%) yields a combination of elegant, tightly wound structure and seductive plushness. 16 months in French oak. Deep garnet in the glass, with black fruit, oak spice and fennel notes, finely balanced with good aging potential.
Ruca Malen Kinien Malbec 2009, Uco ($50)
Bright crimson, cassis and blackberry mocha notes with a vibrant but elegant mid-palate, darker, mineral hints, with good length and structure wrapped in elegant tannins and juicy acidity. A very good expression of the variety.
Finca Decero Malbec 2010, Luyan de Cuyo Remolinos, Agrelo Vineyard ($26)
The name means “from nothing,” referring literally to the fact that this 1050m foothills vineyard was started from scratch on alluvial deposits of clay and loams over gravely sub-soils. Vibrant red berries on the nose followed by complex layers of cherry chocolate and dark spice notes with a definite mineral streak. Good acidity and well balanced French oak.
Alta Vista Premium Malbec 2011 ($25) Blend of Luyan de Cuyo and Uco fruit. Approachable, fruitforward style with good balance of floral and spicy notes and cherry chocolate layers wrapped in food friendly acidity.
Clos de Los Siete 2009, Uco ($23)
Higher elevation plantings yield ideal conditions, including wide diurnals (the difference between day and nighttime temperature) that account for well-balanced ripeness and acidity. With its lifted aromas of red and black fruit, juicy but not extracted fruit-forward style, elegant mouthfeel, harmonised tannins and stony hints, this definitive Malbec-dominant blend (57%) with Merlot (15%), Cab ($15%), Syrah (10%) and Petit Verdot delivers superb value.
Mendel winemaker and vineyard manager, Santiago Mayorga
Familia Zuccardi Aluvional 2008, La Consulta ($80)
Aptly named, from alluvial sites south of Mendoza; soft tannin entry, distinctly mineral toned, full fruited on the palate with dark cherry, damson and mocha notes, black pepper and spices wrapped in silky, elegant tannins through a lengthy finish.
Humberto Canale Estate Merlot 2009, Patagonia ($20)
From 45-year-old vines, heady red and black berry aromas, luscious cassis and redcurrant with vibrant fruit entry, broad mouthfeel, and an appealing, savoury mid-palate.
Familia Schroeder Saurus Select Pinot Noir 2009, Patagonia ($25)
Raspberry and cherry toned with good varietal expression, well balanced with a savoury edge. Think duck breast and wild mushrooms. •
A Sane Personâ€™s Guide To Insanity
co h it w e e, s v o i t h t a l y e ee l r n n h O o : c n i i n r v io ely d t e u Ca nsan e-add i an valu o int
34 // February/March 2013
Rows of vines rule your yard, easing out family and friends. Your mini-fermenter sprang a leak and oozed booze on the new Nissan. Pickled beets and canned corn occupy your wine cellar. You want a piece of the wine business, but don’t know how to branch out. Seasoned vineyard owners in BC, Ontario and Quebec offer six tips to get you started.
, h s ca a r ar t x f e sug o s t t r e tein n s v n u n le rose o o m c a er o s m t y u b o h i . c p r t co the i rthe or ad fu Stay grounded e r ed
It’s day one of vineyard ownership. You wake from a sound sleep to a glorious field of green. Outside your window, 50 willing workers hum happily spoon-feeding organic fertilizer onto softened soil. A high-tech in-ground irrigation system sprays rivulets of rain every hour as you relax on your veranda guzzling Gewürztraminer. Then reality strikes and you realize you’ve been standing in the sun too long without a hat, hunched over six-inch vines, burnt from the blistering heat. Overhead, a thick flock of starlings prepares to swoop and nibble. As sweat pools, you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. “Romantic notions of vineyards are pretty hard to shake,” offers Dan Taylor, former development officer for Prince Edward County in Eastern Ontario. “When your knees are scraped and your fingernails are dirty and you’re overwhelmed with the volume of what Mother Nature forces upon you in a short period of time, you’ll need a drink of wine to get you through.” After planting her first property in 2006, Christine Coletta, co-owner of the Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland BC, was certain she’d never do it again. “I’ve never worked so hard in my life,” she admits. Undaunted by their first foray into farming, Coletta and husband Steve Lorie are now preparing to plant 60 to 80 acres of a new site, Garnet Valley Ranch. Cynthia Enns of Laughing Stock Vineyards on the Narmata Bench in the Okanagan Valley has adjusted to the seasonal cycle of the vineyard and finds it “grounding.” “It was a real surprise for us to be connected to the land,” she says. Enns rises at 5 a.m. in the summer to beat the heat.
“You can make pretty hard t a lot of wrong steps, but o kill grapes.” it Coletta , co -ow says Christine ner of the Ok a nagan Crush Patience is critical in reaching financial goals. When Taylor started a vineyard in Prince Edward County 12 years ago, it took about eight years to recoup the first dollar from an investment. Now he estimates that it could take 12 years or more.
Develop soil sense
There are many reasons to venture into vines such as a passion for purple, a fetish for farm implements, a fascination with dirt, and the desire to drink before noon. Being clear about your interest in investing in a vineyard is critical. Coletta spent her teens on a horse farm and was passionate about purchasing land. “The larger the better,” she admits. Enns and husband David wanted a lifestyle change from the financial industry and started a vineyard and winery at the same time. “We decided to take on the vineyard farming piece as a step toward our winery goal,” says vineyard manager Cynthia. Pat Del-Gatto, fourth generation winemaker and owner of Del-Gatto Estates Winery in Prince Edward County learned skills and secrets from his Italian grandfather. Del-Gatto’s five-year plan included building a trellising system, acquiring equipment and opening for retail sales. Starting a vineyard takes careful planning and research.
36 // February/March 2013
The pig farmer down the street assures you that the County has good growing potential. His horseradish crop survived the winter and he’s now growing garlic. You want to trust him and go with your gut, but wonder if you shouldn’t dig deeper. Planting in unsuitable sites is a mistake made by some vineyard owners. Coletta advises hiring a “terroir hunter” to help find the right site. For her vineyard, she chose an expert from Chile. She says, “the real beauty of a site lies below the surface. It may have a great lake view, but if the soil and other factors do not align, the vineyard will never be considered world class, no matter how hard you work at farming it.” Coletta suggests looking beyond the surface of the soil, to “dig a massive trench to discover soil composition, not just the top 12 inches.” Enns cautions against “bulldozer disease,” disturbing dirt on a site to contour the land without replacing the topsoil. “It will take years to establish plants,” she says. Coletta’s aha moment came when she realized that she is merely a steward or caretaker of the land and should make the best of it while she is here.
Focus on fruit
You don’t want to risk your relationship with your mother for not raising Riesling, her favourite varietal, especially if your dad prefers Pinot Noir. So how do you pick the perfect grape? The number of varietals is mind-boggling. Should you pick vinifera or go with hardier hybrids with a better chance of survival? It’s important to suit the soil and climate conditions. Del-Gatto relies on a “balanced mix of hybrid and vinifera vines to minimize risk in bad years.” He says, “hybrids will always be consistent and deliver a good crop because they are disease resistant and hardy against winter cold.” Coletta recommends, “Choosing grapes that are best suited to the site you have selected.” According to Coletta, it’s more important for the grapes to fit the site than for the owner to like it.”
Hopefully you’ve sired a carload of kids whose main aim in life is to work the land and commune with nature. You can also make amends with long lost friends and enlist their help. Del-Gatto and his family do much of the labour themselves from vineyard to winery and retail, and hire local tradesmen when necessary. Enns suggests getting “hands on” with leaf removal and pruning. “Don’t just watch the crew do it,” she says. Now in her tenth harvest, she knows what she is doing and could instruct others. “I tended the vines
t’s e h Pad
right from the beginning like a first-time parent,” says Coletta proudly. “I did all of those things new parents do.” According to Coletta, “You can make a lot of wrong steps, but it’s pretty hard to kill grapes.” Del-Gatto advises starting small, “with a half acre for the first year so you can determine how much time is required to perform each stage of maintaining a vineyard from planting to trellising, training, pruning, weed control and pest management.” Taylor recommends minimizing plantings and buying grapes from growers.
Seal the Deal
You’ve spent several summers nurturing new vines and feeding the soil to produce your first crop. You think your investment will finally pay off and that wineries will be lining up to pick and purchase your grapes. Then you find out there is no market for your variety and the wineries wonder about your farming practices. “I’ve seen too many vineyard owners plant what survives, using less known hybrid grapes to produce wines that consumers aren’t interested in drinking or are not willing to take a purchasing decision on,” states Anthony Carone, owner and winemaker of Vignoble Carone in Quebec.
Another mistake new vineyard owners make is to plant varietals that may be too trendy. Harry McWatters, considered the pioneer of Okanagan Valley wine, gives the example of Pinot Gris as the largest variety currently being planted in the Okanagan Valley. McWatters wonders whether the consumer will still have an appetite for Pinot Gris once all vineyards grow to size. It’s important to make sure that there is a market for your grapes and a winery willing to buy them. So why start your own vineyard? With the high cost of land, labour and equipment, the uncertainty of climate conditions and little profit for a number of years, you’d have to be crazy to get into vines full-time. So why do people do it? Maybe there’s something about battling the elements to protect a tender commodity and bring it to market, or finding the right formula to cultivate world-class fruit. There’s also the pride of seeing hard work pay off in a high quality product. Just think about it — you could spend your day behind a desk staring at a flat screen, waiting for 5 p.m. or outside in the fresh air chasing starlings, your straw hat askew atop a burnt head. Which would you pick? •
High-octane, fruit-driven, oaky, lusty wines can be enticing. by evan saviolidis
But when consumed constantly, inevitably, they become tiresome. The other downside is they are generally not well suited for food, since they overwhelm most dishes. For me, the best wines are the ones that are naturally higher in acid and/or tannins, and generally, low on the wood attributes. The one region in France that epitomizes this style is the Loire Valley. Named after France’s longest river (over 1000 km long), the vineyard starts at the Atlantic coast in the northwest and heads east, finishing in central, pastoral France. Needless to say, over such an elongated distance, a host of microclimates come into play due to the twists, turns and tributaries of the river. This equates to a multitude of different colours, flavours and styles. Essentially, enough variation to satiate every wine lover’s desire and make the variation in Honey Boo Boo’s candy pantry pale in comparison.
For simplicity’s sake, there are four large sub regions. The bookends, Pays-Nantais and Upper Loire, produce primarily white wines, while the two internal regions, Anjou-Saumur and Touraine, produce everything.
The starting point of the Loire appellation is the Pays Nantais, on the Atlantic Coast. Technically, this where the Loire River ends, extruding into the ocean, but for wine geeks, it’s where it all begins. The specialty here is Muscadet. Made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape (a cousin of Chardonnay), it typically produces lightbodied, drink-now wines, with high acid and moderate aromas of grapefruit, citrus, salty minerals and the occasional fresh peach. As a means to give these wines more punch, most are left for a minimum of six months on their yeast cells and are labelled sur lie. The entry-level wines are just labelled with the generic Muscdet AOC. There are also three sub-appellations which are recognized for their higher quality: Sèvre et Maine (which produces 80 per cent of all Muscadet), Coteaux de la Loire and Côtes de GrandLieu. Recent additions to the hierarchy are the crus, of which there are seven. Rules for these wines mandate the lowest yields (45 hl/ ha) and a minimum of 18 months minimum of yeast aging. The best easily surpass these requirements, are truly impressive and have stamina — all for generally under $20. Oysters on the half shell and chilled shellfish dishes are pure nirvana with these wines. The other white wine is Gros Plant de Pays Nantais, which is made from Folle Blanche, and at its best it is easy drinking.
38 // February/March 2013
East of Nantes is Anjou-Saumur, which churns out a melting pot of colours and styles, and for some, it is the hardest to grasp. Here, the much-underappreciated Chenin Blanc shines. Any white labelled either Anjou AOC or Saumur AOC are Chenin Blanc based wines, which offer value and surprising longevity. The epitome of great, dry Chenin is found in the AOCs of Savenièrres, and its crus of Roche-aux-Moins and Couléede-Serrant, which are grown on schist slopes. Austere, mineral, apple juice, wet wool, high acidity, underappreciated and worldclass are descriptors of these singular wines. If sweet is more your style, then Coteaux du Layon will send your blood sugar rising. Benefitting from the botrytis causing mists from the Layon tributary, these sweeties are balanced by wonderful underlying acidity. Within CDL, you will find the famed crus of Bonnezeaux and Quarts-de-Chaume, which produce the most honeyed and intense versions of Chenin. Essentially, must-haves for dessert wine fanatics! Other value white stickies include Anjou-Coteaux de la Loire and Coteaux de L’Aubence. Rosé d’Anjou and Caberent d’Anjou are wines of a pink shade. The former, made primarily from Grolleau, is a semisweet style, which saw its popularity peak in the 1980s. Today, the leader is the latter, which is Cabernet-based (Franc and Sauvignon). It is a dry version, with more flavour, alcohol and power than Rosé d’Anjou. Red-wise, qualitatively, Cabernet Franc (with the possibility of some Cabernet Sauvignon) is the grape of choice. The appellations of Anjou and Saumur produce the milder styles. Anjou-Villages, Anjou-Villages Brissac, and notably, Saumur-Champigny, are the powerful renditions. The key to success here is tuffeau, the famed soft rock (limestone), which endows the wines with strength. Interestingly, it was this rock that was used to build the grands châteaux, which line the shoreline of the Loire river. Bubbles are another specialty of this region, with the epicentre surrounding the town of Saumur. Anjou Mousseux and Saumur Mousseux whites are well-priced traditional method sparkling wines based on the acidic Chenin grape, while the rosés are based primarily on the Cabernet family. Today, many producers who strive for higher quality are now bottling under the Crémant de Loire appellation, which encompasses all vineyards, and mandates lower yields. Correspondingly, it is the second largest traditional method sparkling wine production in all of France, after Champagne.
Legend has it that it was Saint Martin who planted the first vines in Touraine and it’s even said those original plantings can still be found at the abbey of Marmoutier, on the outskirts of the town of Tours. It is also where the majority of tuffeau is located. The Touraine AOC encompasses all vineyards within the subregion, and generally, but not exclusively, is Sauvignon Blanc for white and Gamay for Red. Two recent additions to this level of classification are Touraine Oisly (pronounced “Wall-e” for those Disney lovers) and Touraine Chenonceaux. Oisly covers 10 villages and is only for white wines that are 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Chenonceaux is for both white and red and applies to 27 villages. The white, like Oisly, is all Sauv Blanc. The red is a blend of minimum 65% Côt (Malbec) and the remainder Cabernet Franc.
Vouvray is internationally famous. Made from 100% Pineau de la Loire (the local name for Chenin Blanc) the wines here range from dry to sweet. Thankfully, the laws mandate that the label tells you what is in the bottle. Sec is a dry wine, SecTendre (not officially sanctioned yet) is for a smidge of residual sugar, Demi-Sec is off-dry, sweet is labelled as Moelleux, and Doux the sweetest. In top vintages these wines will age anywhere between 10 to 40 years. The other Chenin wine of Touraine, albeit less known, is Montlouis. Located across the river from Vouvray, the wines from this village were historically labelled as Vouvray, even though the soil structure was different. Only when the AOC system was created did Montlouis emerge from the shadows of its more famous southern neighbour and become its own AOC.
40 // February/March 2013
The western part of Touraine is where tuffeau and Breton (Cabernet Franc) unify under the AOCs of Bourgeuil, St-Nicholasde-Bourgeuil and Chinon, the most sought-after reds of the Loire. The grape was first introduced to this area by the monks of Breton circa 900 AD, hence the name. Stylistically, all are structured and age-worthy, but the Bourgeuils tend to be more fruit driven, while Chinon leans more on the earthy qualities. Interestingly, during the 19th century, the latter was considered the equivalent of Château Margaux. In the past year I have had the chance to sample a few 1990s and 1996s, and all were still alive, kicking and singing.
Upper Loire (Central Vineyards)
The furthest reaches of the Loire are the picturesque farmlands dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc, and its natural food pairing, chèvre. There are two prevailing beliefs in regards to the mirror towns of Sancerre and Pouilly-Sur-Loire, which lay across the river from each other: First, they are the singular Sauvignon Blancs of the Upper Loire; second, the main difference between both is the silex soils of Pouilly-Fumé, which impart a gunflint quality to said wines. I can say that this is not entirely factual. Both Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé share a triad of main soils: silex, limestone and Kimmeridgian (chalk). Silex does indeed impart the pierre-a-fusil quality, but to both. Limestone produces wines that are more fruit driven/aromatic, and those grown on the chalk soils are the wines with the most weight. Today, the lesser-known appellations are on the rise. My coups de cœur are the wines of Menetou-Salon, which is essentially a southwest extension of Sancerre, sharing the same Kimmeridgian and limestone soils. Other appellations offering white value are Quincy (no relation to Jack Klugman), Reuilly and Coteaux du Giennois. There are also small amounts of red and rosé produced from Pinot Noir (and sometimes Gamay) in the Upper Loire. As a general rule, they are uninspiring, which makes me wonder why they persist with growing red grapes, this while whites excel. As I mentioned earlier, these are infinitely food friendly wines and I have already made reference to some classic pairings. Others include charcuterie — the Loire Valley is renowned for its love of all things pork, whether made into dry cured sausage, paté, confited or deep-fried to produce grattons (the best crackling ever) — the acidity of both red and white work. Steak and duck marry well with the Cabernet Franc based wines. Freshwater river fish is the natural partner for Sauvignon Blanc and the sweet dessert wines find their apogee with tarte tatin or any custard/tree fruit based dessert. As you can probably guess, I did put on a few extra pounds enjoying the food, wine and hospitality of the locals … and that is not a bad thing. •
is beautiful / by Duncan Holmes /
Chowing down the other night on a plateful of quinoa that was generously swamped in tummy-warming Thai chili sauce, I wondered between bites how new foods find their way to our tables. Like quinoa. It seems to just happen. A year ago, I couldn’t even pronounce it — keen-wah — and now it’s everywhere, the wonder food that will save the world.
As we all now know, quinoa derives from a “grass found in the Andes, where it was widely cultivated for its edible, starchy seeds before the introduction of Old World grains.” Goodness knows why it took so long to go mainstream, but, like rice, it’s here. And in boxes, brand names and “bulk foods,” we’re including it on our lists. It’s made the leap from trendy to must-have tasty. The only thing about quinoa, like many other kinds of foods new or old that come our way, is that when it’s served “naked,” it’s often no great shakes. It needs a spark. Which is why I added the chili sauce; why rice all but demands a good curry and/or almost
any Asian food; why we turn ordinary pork into sloshy and boldly-seasoned pulled pork sandwiches; why we enrich our sauces and stews with seasonings from the back of the cupboard; why the foods we discover on journeys to distant lands often need enhancement before they end up as hale and hearty staples on restaurant and home tables where we live. We go for different, but we like it with gusto. At one stage of my food career, people were coming back from the American Southwest talking about an “onion loaf” that was a hit on the menu of Tony Roma’s Place for Ribs. It was, and as far as I know, still
is an item on Tony’s menu. To embolden the taste of the humble, albeit tear-producing onion, some clever person a long time ago shredded a big, sweet onion, seasoned it, packed it into a loaf shape, deep-fried it, and served it up with barbecue sauce. Now that’s onion! Being that restaurant chains make a regular habit of coveting and stealing the good ideas of other restaurant chains, I was assigned to find out how Tony actually did his onion loaf, so that our chain could do it too. So one night in Palm Springs, after my request for the recipe was turned down, I ordered a loaf, and as I deconstructed/ate it, I made notes. It was a good start to my assignment, but not willing to miss the finer points, I called the restaurant the next morning and told a long, deceitful story about how I had suffered all night after eating the loaf — demanding to know the exact ingredients, how they were combined, and how the loaf was cooked. Sympathetic to my feigned grief, and perhaps sniffing a lawsuit, the guy at the other end of the phone told me all. And armed with copious onion-loaf notes, I flew home to help introduce a near-enough version of Tony Roma’s onion loaf to the Canadian market. It’s one way that new foods emigrate from one place to another, and demonstrates what we can do to make good food bolder and better. As I was saying, we gravitate always to flavour, in our foods, and in our wines. And with onions and all kinds of other things, we share the best stuff around the world. Food magic is dictated by imagination, by
braised pears with a soy ginger glaze 42 // February/March 2013
availability, by the seasons. Sometimes things make it, and other times we taste and say, “Nah.” But for appies, soups, sauces, mains, and even desserts, it’s rare that we settle for tastes that are thin and wispy. Big is better. Bold, intense and ideally, easy, is where we like to go. At the end of her gardening year, my daughter presented me with a couple of mid-size pumpkins that were superfluous to the Hallowe’en season. For the longest time, I simply savoured their decorative orange-ness — a complementary colour in the living room. Then one rainy weekend before Christmas, despite their colourful cuteness, I figured it was time to sacrifice one of them to a soup. I cut the pumpkin in half, scooped out the seeds, then cut it into quarters, and then in chunks. I preheated the oven to 350˚F, placed the salted and oiled chunks on a tray, and roasted them for an hour or so. Then, like skinning a fish, I slid the flesh away, and mixed it into a slosh in the blender with half a cup of cream. Then I transferred the slosh to a pot, added a litre of store-bought cream of tomato soup, a diced and fried-wilted onion, and half a teaspoon each of chili powder, cumin, paprika, coriander and nutmeg — and let it all simmer together. I served it with a generous dollop of sour cream, and just for fun, a glass of Jacob’s Creek Sparking Shiraz. As I was saying, we gravitate always to big flavour. In our quinoa, our onions, our pumpkins and our wines. You’ll enjoy the peppery notes of the Shiraz.
I have a pear tree in my garden that produces three different varieties, thanks to carefully grafted additions. At harvest time, it’s great to see Anjou, Red Anjou and Bartlett all ready for picking at the same time. Sometimes I can them, but not always. Try this kicky recipe to accompany pork, chicken, or a grilled breast of duck.
4 3 1
tbsp melted, unsalted butter tbsp soy sauce tbsp grated ginger root ½ cup packed golden brown sugar
¼ tsp cayenne pepper 4 firm pears, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cored 2 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
1. In a 10-inch sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the soy
sauce, ginger, sugar and cayenne pepper. Stir until the sugar is melted and the ingredients are well combined, then reduce the heat to medium low. 2. Add the pears, cut side down, and simmer, basting frequently, until the pears are tender when pierced with a knife — about 8 to 10 minutes. 3. Transfer the pears to a serving dish. Bring the liquid in the pan back to a slow boil and add the vinegar. Simmer the sauce until it is thick and syrupy — about 3 minutes. 4. Pour the sauce over the pears and serve as a savoury side.
red wine mignonette 12 oysters on the half shell 2 shallots, minced 90 ml red wine vinegar of good quality A few turns of black pepper
1. Combine ingredients.
Spoon over oysters and serve.
baklava The Greeks knew a good thing when baklava came along. Visions of the Mediterranean, blue and white round-topped homes hanging onto the hillsides, and guys dancing in the streets. Persevere, then pull up a seat and enjoy the intensity of everything. Skip the Retsina, and go for Commandaria.
¾ ½ 40 4 ½ 1
lb butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces cup vegetable oil sheets phyllo pastry cups walnuts, crushed cup honey tbsp lemon juice
1. Melt butter over low heat, removing any foam as it rises to
the surface. Remove from heat, let rest 2 to 3 minutes and spoon off clear butter. Discard any sediment. 2. Stir oil into butter and coat 9 x l3 inch baking dish with 1 tbsp of mixture, using a pastry brush. 3. Lay a sheet of pastry in baking dish, brush with butter, lay down another sheet and brush again. Sprinkle with 3 tbsp walnuts. 4. Repeat this pattern to make 19 layers. Top with 2 remaining sheets of phyllo and brush with remaining butter. 5. Score top of pastry with diagonal lines ½-inch deep, 2 inches apart, to form diamond shapes. 6. Bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes, reduce heat to 300˚F and bake 15 minutes longer until top is golden brown. Remove from oven. 7. Combine honey and lemon juice and pour slowly over baklava. Slice when cool.
pulled pork Serves 4 with hearty appetites
The timing may have been different where you live, but the pulled pork sandwich went mainstream about 4 years ago, and will keep its place in the bold-flavour comfort line-up. This recipe, which appeared mid-year in Good Housekeeping, was digitally delivered to me as a “healthy makeover” of the original.
1 tbsp water, with more for steaming 1 ½ tsp salt-free chili powder 1 tsp smoked paprika 1 tsp dry mustard powder 1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 2-inch-thick medallions 3 cups shredded cabbage mix for coleslaw
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp apple cider vinegar 2 tbsp snipped fresh chives 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp spicy brown mustard ⅓ cup barbecue sauce 4 soft whole-wheat hamburger buns, lightly toasted
1. Fill 6-quart saucepot with 1 inch water and add steamer insert. Cover; heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium.
2. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, smoked paprika, dry mustard, 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Rub spices all over the pork.
3. Place pork in steamer, cover and steam 18 to 20 minutes or until pork is 145˚F in centre, turning over once.
4. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, toss cabbage mix with 2 tbsp vinegar, chives, 1 tbsp mustard, and 1/8 tsp salt; set aside. Transfer pork to plate. 5. Discard water in pot; remove steamer. When cool enough to handle, shred pork into bitesized pieces. Return pork to saucepot. 6. Stir in barbecue sauce, 1 tbsp water, and remaining 2 tsp mustard and 1 tsp vinegar. Cook on medium until hot, stirring frequently. 7. Divide pork and slaw among buns, and enjoy with a beer.
44 // February/March 2013
Despite the name, it’s said to have originated with the ancient Romans. It’s a grand custard sauce that is rich and delicious. Investigate further to learn more about how to add it to your dessert repertoire.
1 cup milk 3 egg yolks
4 tbsp sugar 1 tsp vanilla
1. Place the milk in a saucepan to heat to
the boiling point. Meanwhile beat the eggs and sugar until very smooth. 2. Whisk ⅓ of the hot milk into the sugar and egg mixture. 3. Pour the egg/sugar/milk mixture back into the pot of milk. Heat slowly, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens slightly. The mixture should coat the back of a spoon. It should hold a line when you draw your finger through it. It will overcook very quickly at this point, so watch it carefully. 4. As soon as it is done, strain the sauce into a bowl. This will stop the cooking and remove any lumps. Add the vanilla. 5. Cover with plastic wrap and chill immediately.
sticky date pudding Just before Christmas I was a guest at a table with Executive Chef Dana Hauser of the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver as we were served a six-course dinner prepared before our eyes by 40 or so apprentice graduates of Fairmont’s Pacific Northwest region. I asked Dana if she could send along a favourite rich and delicious dessert recipe to match the theme of my story, and this was it. “Risky,” said Dana, “but absolutely delicious.” A carol come to life!
for the pudding
400 ml water 222 g dates 27 g baking soda
67 g butter 222 g sugar 222 g flour
g baking powder eggs
1. Place the dates and water in a large pot and boil for 5 minutes until
soft. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. Mixture will foam up.
2. Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes to cool to room temp. Cream
the butter and sugar together for 8 minutes then slowly add the eggs. 3. Fold in the dry ingredients followed by the stewed dates. 4. Pour into parchment-lined and oiled pans. 5. Plastic wrap tightly and bake in a 300˚F oven in a bain-marie until baked through, about an hour. A toothpick inserted in the centre will come out clean.
for the sauce
229 g butter 397 g brown sugar
300 ml cream 5 ml vanilla extract
1. Melt the butter and brown sugar together. Once the sugar has
dissolved, stir in the cream (see below) and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 5 minutes stir in vanilla.
blue cheese cream
227 g mascarpone 30 g blue cheese
250 ml cream 1 ½ tbsp icing sugar
1. Incorporate the blue cheese into the mascarpone. Slowly add 125 ml cream to the cheese mixture and whip to soft peaks.
2. Add remaining 125 ml of cream and icing sugar and whip to stiff peaks. •
Death of the by carolyn Evans-Hammond
Did you get your box yet? What? You haven’t heard?
Twinkie There’s a run on Twinkies. Hostess went under in the US and although a bunch of its ginormous brands masquerading as favourite edible cuddle toys won’t disappear because they’re licensed to Canadian companies — think Wonder Bread, Jos Louis, and your other childhood friends and lovers — Twinkies aren’t completely gone. That’s right. They were made in America by a now toppled 82-yearold giant. And in the true spirit of the twinkie, it was toppled from within. Basically, the bakers wanted more dough, or wanted the dough to rise, or something to that effect. But negotiations fell flat, Hostess executives were accused of being full of hot air, and bankruptcy was declared. But that was only the beginning. Within hours of the news, boxes of Twinkies began appearing on eBay at ridiculously inflated prices. That day, the American news website, The Huffington Post, reported “One eBay seller is auctioning off a full box of Twinkies starting at $200,000 (shipping included)” and “an individual Twinkie is up for sale for $5,000.”
46 // February/March 2013
Twinkies aren’t delicious (to anyone older than your shoe size). They aren’t pretty. And they’re definitely not healthy. But they’re the mark of an era. They even garnered urban legends about having an infinite shelf life, which, dear friends, isn’t true. They last about two months. Way longer than any cake should, of course, but they’re made without dairy products so they don’t spoil quickly. Oh, and probably because the second main ingredient is sugar. And the preservatives. Twinkies were invented in 1930 by a baker in Illinois, and they took off. At last count, 36 million packages of Twinkies were sold in 2011, down two per cent from 2009. It’s a curious phenomenon. And is there a vinous equivalent? I don’t think so. Though many Canadians of a certain age have warm, fuzzy memories of Baby Duck, the memories are probably more fuzzy than warm. So for those of you who still have a twinkle in your eye when you think Twinkie, here’s a lookalike recipe (that tastes way better than the original) to serve at your next retro dinner party. Knew you’d love that. These treats are obviously best served out of a bona fide Twinkie box. If you can’t find a package anymore at your local shop, there’s always eBay.
fake twinkies Makes 12 homemade Twinkies
(The recipe below was adapted from leitesculinaria.com and printed from the New York Times, March 6, 2012)
for the cakes:
1/2 5 12 1/4
cup cake flour cup all-purpose flour tsp baking powder tsp salt tbsp milk tbsp unsalted butter tsp vanilla extract large eggs at room temperature, separated tbsp sugar tsp cream of tartar
for the filling:
6 1 1/2 3/4 2
tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature cups confectioners’ sugar cup Marshmallow Fluff tbsp heavy cream
1. For the cakes: Heat the oven to 350˚F and adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position. 2. To make single-use Twinkie molds, cut 12 pieces of aluminum foil 12 inches wide by 14 inches long.
Fold each piece of foil in half lengthwise, then fold it in half again to create a rectangle that’s about 6 inches long and 7 inches wide. Repeat to make a dozen rectangles. 3. Place one sheet of folded foil on a work surface with a standard-size spice jar on its side in the centre of the foil. Bring the long sides of the foil up around the jar, folding the sides and ends as necessary to make a tight trough-shape from which the jar can be removed. Repeat to make 12 foil molds. Spray generously with non-stick spray or coat with vegetable oil. Place the molds on a baking sheet. 4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the milk and butter until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Cover to keep warm. 5. Using a standing mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Gradually add 6 tbsp of the sugar and the cream of tartar and continue to beat until the whites reach soft peaks. 6. Transfer the beaten egg whites to a large bowl and add the egg yolks to the standing mixer bowl (there’s no need to clean the bowl). Beat the egg yolks with the remaining 6 tbsp sugar on mediumhigh speed until the mixture is very thick and a pale lemon colour, about 5 minutes. Add the beaten egg whites to the yolks, but do not mix. 7. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg whites and then mix everything on low speed for just 10 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer, make a well in one side of the batter, and pour the melted butter mixture into the bowl. Fold gently with a large rubber spatula until the batter shows no trace of flour and the whites and yolks are evenly mixed, about 8 strokes. 8. Immediately scrape the batter into the prepared molds, filling each with about 3/4 inch of batter. Bake until the cake tops are light brown and feel firm and spring back when touched, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pan containing the molds to a wire rack and allow the cakes to cool in the molds. 9. For the filling: Using a mixer, beat together the butter, confectioners’ sugar and Marshmallow Fluff. Add the cream and beat just until smooth. 10. Just before filling the cakes, remove them from the foil. Using the end of a chopstick, poke three holes in the bottom of each cake. Wiggle the tip of the chopstick to make room for the filling. Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 inch round tip. Pipe frosting into the holes in each cake, taking care not to overfill, until it gently expands. Unlike real Twinkies, these won’t last indefinitely. They’re best served still slightly warm. •
from the sea by brenda mcmillan
The Algarve is Portugal’s soft, southern underbelly, a land of beaches, grilled sardines and endlessly blue skies. Until recently, it wasn’t known for its wine, but that’s changing quickly as boutique wineries move into its three DOC regions. Serious about crafting wines that reflect Algarve terroir (wet winters, loads of sunshine, hot, dry summers, cool ocean breezes and sandy/clay/limestone soils), producers have been replanting vineyards and experimenting with varietals. I’m thrilled about this. As a regular visitor to the area since 1996, I’ve seen tremendous change — except to wine lists. While every other region in the country was represented with quality red, white, rosé and sparkling wines, the only Algarve listings were for Aguardente de Medronho — a kind of firewater made by very small producers, and Amarguinha, an almond liqueur. And while I enjoy them, what I want with my fresh-from-the-seathat-morning grilled robalo (sea bass) is a crisp clean white with a vein of minerality. I’m happy to say that Algarve wines have evolved to the point where this is now possible.
Quinta dos Vales Marquîs dos Vales Primeira Selecção Rosé 2011 ($8) Clay-limestone soil and Castelão grapes combine to give this pretty rosé plenty of fruit with an understated minerality. Soft and fresh, it makes a fun summer sipper but also plays well with frango from the grill. Serve chilled.
Quinta dos Vales Marquîs dos Vales Primeira Selecção Blanc de Noir 2011 ($8) A middle range white, it is easy drinking with subtle aromas and flavours of fresh peaches and wild flowers. A hit with appetizers on the patio.
48 // February/March 2013
Quinta dos Vales Marquîs dos Vales Grace Touriga Nacional 2009 ($18) “Grace” is their premier label. Their 2008 was chosen as one of the top 10 wines in Portugal. The 2009 is a generous, full-bodied TN with blackcurrant and red fruit flavours tempered by 12 months in French oak. Elegant with a long finish. 5000 bottles produced. I brought one home to enjoy with a selection of cheeses from Portugal.
Adega do Cantor Vida Nova Rosé 2011 ($10) The 60/40 split of stars Syrah and Aragones means that this soprano sings with Carmen’s red-berry spiciness. Well balanced and tasty, it earns a standing ovation with strawberry and chèvre salad.
Adega do Cantor Vida Nova Branco 2011 ($10) Two tenors. A blend of Verdelho and Viognier (some oak-aged), this wine resonates with 14% alcohol. An overture of orange blossoms and oak is followed by lemon and honeydew flavours that persist. I’m thinking Thai food with this crooner.
Cimalhas Aguardente de Medronho ($40) Firewater maybe, but this smooth sipper-or-shooter slides down easily. Made from local wild medronho fruit fermented in an outdoor tank in the mountains over the winter, it is distilled then aged in a vintage oak cask for two years. This premium medronho has been made and bottled in a garage in a wisp of a village for so many generations of his family that the present (elderly) distiller doesn’t know how long ago it started. If the showcase of his vintage bottles is any measure, think in terms of hundreds of years.
Adega do Cantor Onda Nova Syrah 2009 ($11)
Quinta do Francês Encostas de Odelouca White 2011 ($8)
Not quite a Pavarotti, this big-hearted red still performs well in a supper club chorus along with peppercorn steak and Caesar salad. He opens with a scent of blueberries accented by the minty flower in his lapel and serenades with spicy black fruit flavours and an elegant note of minerality. A deep bow at the finish.
This is the kind of wine that I love cold with grilled fish and salads. Apricot and wet stone aromas are followed with an elegant minerality and freshness.
Monte da Casteleja Rosé 2011 ($8) Bring on a grilled chicken and organic peach salad for this strawberry-raspberry lunch wine. Made from Bastardo grapes, it is very fresh, so serve food to get the best from the rosé and the dish.
Monte da Casteleja Classico Branco 2011 ($10) Arinto and Perrum grapes in a field blend produce a white with lots of acidity and a streak of lemony minerality. Grill up that fresh fish and taste the magic.
Monte da Casteleja’s Maria Leroux
Monte da Casteleja Maria Selection 2009 ($10)
Quinta do Francês Red 2010 ($10)
Maria, the owner, has a signature wine. Bright and very dry, with wood and eucalyptus aromas that lead to light cherry flavours, it needs food to be fully appreciated. Garlic shrimps, grilled sardines or semi-ripe cheeses are perfect companions.
Acidic schist soil, a mix of indigenous and international grapes, and a Mediterranean climate blend to make this a delicious, well balanced, fruity red that demands a place on the table. Cabrita no forno (roast kid) would be a perfect companion for this fresh vinho. •
AGENCE DE VOYAGES W. H. HENRY
ROYAL INDIA TOUR WITH AN OPTIONAL 4 NIGHT YOGA EXTENSION Royal India Tour – September 3 to 16, 2013
Yoga Extemsion – September 16 to 20, 2013
You are invited to join us on this tour of India to savour the splendour and spirituality of India’s golden triangle. Our tour has been carefully designed to give you an intimate glimpse of India’s Northern Beauty. Your tour includes: • the legendary forts & palaces of rajasthan • the cherished love story surrounding the taj mahal • the blue city of Jodhpur
• the cultural contrasts of old & new Delhi • the colourful bazaars of Jaipur • the romance of Lake pichola in Udaipur
For a memorable finish to the Royal India tour add on a 4 night yoga extension in Rishikesh.
13 nights in Northern India: $1,675.00* per person, single supplement $649.00 4 nights Yoga extension: $737.00* per person, single supplement $345.00 International airfare will cost approximately $1,589.00 taxes included (subject to change). *price based on double occupancy, including GST, QST and FICAV contribution of $2.00/$1000, Quebec licensee
FOR ITINERARY PLEASE CALL DAPHNE AT 514.369.3300 • 1.800.361.9421 OR EMAIL email@example.com WH Henry Inc 5165 Sherbrooke Street West, Suite 400, Montreal, QC H4A 1T6 Wh_Henry AD_Royal_India.indd 1
12/9/12 3:32:12 PM
the mav notes\\ 95 Wolf Blass Black Label 2008, South Australia ($99.95) 92 Finca Decero Amano ‘Remolinos Vineyard’ 2008, Mendoza, Argentina ($75) Multi-layered, complex, floral and elegant. Full flavours of bright plum, berry and spice with liquorice and a gorgeous mouthfeel that leads to a long, luxurious finish. Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Tannat. Firm enough for grilled bison, but elegant enough for grilled chicken. (GB)
91 Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Four Mile Creek, Ontario ($32) When Jeff Aubry opened his winery a decade ago, he said that he would never produce a single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon due to the fact that Ontario’s climate consistently produces overtly herbaceous/vegetal renditions. This was before Mother Nature handed a perfect (and rare) red wine vintage in 2010. This elegant Cab possesses a dark cherry colour and a perfume of cassis, smoke, violets, cocoa and anise. There is great length and a polished feel to the wine. Drink over the next 5 years. (ES)
The 2008 is a supremely impressive wine! This past autumn, in a blind tasting, it was pitted against other top Cabernet-based blends from all over the globe. When the results were tabulated, it was the clear winner, besting all the Bordeaux first-growths, as well as top Cali Cabs! Fullbodied and distinctly Australian, the explosive nose of jam — blueberry, blackberry, raspberry and cherry — meshes with herbs, spice and cola. There is outstanding length and more than enough ripe and well-integrated tannins to allow it to age for 2 decades. It is a blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Shiraz and 5% Malbec. (ES)
91 Gaspereau Vineyards Brut Natural Pinot Noir 2009, Nova Scotia ($44.99)
Very fine bead, with elegant Pinot fruit shining through on the nose backed by floral scents and vanilla biscuit. Almost bone dry in the Brut Natural style, with Pinot fruit equally evident in the mouth, supported by brisk acidity and firm mineral grip. Another Nova Scotia sparkler that shows understated Champagne-like refinement. (SW)
91 Lenoble Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut, Champagne, France ($47.95)
This is one very elegant Champagne (25% barrel-aged Chardonnay in the blend). Straw colour; creamy nose of white flowers, apple, ginger and a leesy note; round on the palate, very dry; white peach and green apple flavours, finishing with a nutty, chalky note. (TA)
88 Villa di Maser Prosecco NV, Asolo, Italy ($15.50)
Pale silvery yellow with lots of bubbles. The bouquet is of toast, yeast and fresh lemon. Tastes like a pear-and-apricot pastry tart topped with lemon mousse. Mouthwatering acidity; a party-pleaser. (RL)*
90 The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Gris 2009, Willamette Valley, New Zealand ($22)
The grapes for this Oregon Gris from the Willamette Valley were first planted in the Dundee Hills in 1970. Gris fans will love it. Creamy pear, cantaloupe, pineapple and minerals are showy on the nose. The malolactic fermentation rounds out the lush peach, pear and melon fruits on the palate yet there is vibrancy through the finish. (RV)
50 // February/March 2013
no residual sugar\\
Matter of taste
by Sheila Swerling-Puritt
For years I have listened to wine snobs say, “I really enjoy dry wine.” Sales figures negate that statement. Most consumers enjoy and buy wines that have a little residual sugar in them. The stats demonstrate growth in our appetite for sugary fruits — sweetened broccoli is available in the UK for that matter. Coffee, beer and spirit coolers are all juiced up to meet consumer tastes. If you can embrace your sweet tooth, look to Syrah (also known as Shiraz in New World wines). The seventh most grown varietal in the world, this black grape has been cultivated in the Rhône Valley since Roman times or earlier. Top bottlings come from Hermitage and Côte Rôtie. Excellent wine is also made in Crozes-Hermitage, Cornas, and St-Joseph. All of them yield warm, grippy bottles with deep blackberry fruit with black pepper spice and roast meat notes and elements of violets, bacon, iron, woodsmoke, black olives, dried herbs, stones and tar. Character will vary with terroir and winemaker’s tastes. Syrah pairs beautifully with grilled meats, steaks, stews and game. It also works with pizza. With age, Rhône Valley Syrah becomes even spicier and more complex. The sweetly ripe fruit persists for a decade — longer in top growths. FYI, Syrah is not related to Petite Sirah. Outside its home, Syrah has enjoyed huge success in the New World, with the best bottlings coming from South Eastern Australia (think of Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Wyndham Estate) and California (where Rhône Ranger Randall Grahm has vinified it solo and blends it into his flagship wine Le Cigare Volant). Chile and South Africa have been vinifying Syrah for a while now, and they’re getting pretty good at it!
d’Arenberg The Laughing Magpie 2008, McLaren Vale, Australia ($30) Concentrated rich, ripe flavours. On the palate you can taste raspberry, plum, blackcurrant and blueberry. The silky tannins build nicely due to its minerality, providing good structure. Ten months in new and older French and American barriques.
Hecht & Bannier Minervois 2010, Midi, France ($19.95) Delicious dark cherry and raspberry fruit, which were not overextracted, with inflections of minerality, liquorice and hints of mint, giving the wine a tart juiciness with a vibrant finish.
Krupp Brothers Black Bart’s Bounty Syrah 2006, Napa Valley, California ($45) Blackberry, blueberry, liquorice and white pepper/dark chocolate on the palate with hints of smoked bacon. Nuances of graphite give the wine added complexity. •
punched by malbec\\
by gurvinder Bhatia
Manos Negras winemaker, Alejandro Sejanovich
Prior to travelling to Argentinathis past fall, my exposure to the wines from the country were fairly limited to Malbec, some Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, a couple of Tannat, Malbec and Torrontés. But as I quickly discovered, Argentina is about so much more than Malbec. Wine has been produced in Argentina for over 450 years, but the country’s emergence on the global scene is only a decade old. According to Andres Rosberg, president of the Association of Sommeliers of Argentina, the country is currently the sixth-largest wine producer in the world (behind Italy, France, Spain, USA and China) and the seventh-largest wine market, with an average annual consumption of 26 litres per person (approximately double that of Canada). Vineyards are predominantly located along the western border proximate to the Andes Mountains, but stretch almost 2,000 miles from the Bolivian border in the north to Patagonia in the south. Vineyard elevation can range from 1,000 feet to 10,000 above sea level. This contributes to a great diversity in vineyard sites and microclimates, resulting in the ability to grow a wide range of grape varietals and styles. The western location of the vineyards is distant enough to avoid the humid Atlantic winds, while allowing the Andes to block rain from the Pacific Ocean. The dry weather enables vineyard managers precise control over the amount of water distributed to the vines. Low humidity and constant mountain winds also contribute to a low incidence of vineyard disease. Add the heat of the southern hemisphere sun and producers rarely have issues with ripening their grapes. The popularity of Argentinian wines is undeniable. The value of the country’s wine exports approached $1 billion in 2012, significant growth from the $5 million just 20 years ago.
52 // February/March 2013
Malbec may be what put Argentina on the world wine map, but even with Malbec there is a great diversity in styles depending on vineyard site and region. For me, the best Malbecs come from cool-climate or high-altitude vineyard sites with a wide diurnal temperature range, resulting in wines with ripe fruit and a beautiful freshness. But Argentina’s diversity is what surprised and impressed me. Grape varietals, wine styles, microclimates, vineyard sites and cultural influences all impact the variety of wines being produced. We must recognize more than one grape. Argentina is producing wines in a variety of styles and price points. Wine lovers just need to step outside the Malbec box and experience the diversity the country has to offer.
Coquena Tannat 2011, Cafayate ($22)
I fell in love with Tannat from the northern vineyards of Cafayate. Ripe, bright, juicy, slightly perfumy nose with dark, juicy fruit flavours, loads of liquorice, and a fantastic edginess; bold with full, brooding tannins, finishing fresh with lots of juicy fruit on the sides of the tongue. Intriguing and delicious!
Del Fin del Mundo Cabernet Franc 2009, Patagonia ($35)
Great nose with ripe dark fruit and just the right amount of fresh herbaceousness; silky texture, with nice freshness, acid, mineral and spice. Delicious!
Humberto Canale Riesling ‘Old Vineyard’ 2011, Patagonia ($19.99)
Bracing and fresh with loads of green apple and lime aromas and flavours, and bright acid and slate on the finish.
Miguel and Sebastian Agostino
Manos Negras Pinot Noir 2009, Patagonia ($21.99)
Quite complex but very approachable, with penetrating dark-cherry and plum-fruit flavours, lots of earthiness, silky palate and a delicious finish. Dirt with fruit, in a good way.
La Puerta Bonarda Reserva 2010, La Rioja ($23)
Bright, juicy fruit with lots of plum, a touch of fresh herbs, dark chocolate and vanilla, big, round tannins and nice freshness on the finish.
Finca Agostino Torrontés ‘Inicio’ 2011, Mendoza ($18.99)
Very aromatic, with fresh pineapple and peach aromas and flavours and an intriguing savoury quality; bright and round, finishing dry with fresh acidity and great balance.
Catena Alta Chardonnay 2010, Mendoza ($32)
Elegant and fresh, with ripe flavours of apple, citrus and pineapple; rich texture with bright acidity and great balance. A great example of Chardonnay from high-altitude vineyard sites.
Zorzal Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Tupungato ($19.99)
Fresh and clean, grassy, citrus and mineral, with hints of asparagus juice; nice acidity and a zippy finish.
Finca Decero Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Mendoza ($26)
Aromas and flavours of cherry, blackcurrant and spice with elegant, well-integrated tannins, firm structure, bright acidity and a beautiful freshness on the long, silky finish. A great food wine because of its fresh acidity.
Casa Montes Syrah ‘Don Baltazar’ 2010, San Juan ($32)
Bright, ripe dark fruit, with a touch of perfume on the nose followed by dark-cherry, berry and plum flavours; a touch of chocolate; full but elegant grippy tannins; good balance; and a long, fresh, fruit-driven finish.
Ruca Malen Petit Verdot 2008, Mendoza ($22.99)
Vibrant and vivid mouthful of dark and ripe berry, plum, cherry and pomegranate flavours with hints of earthiness, finishing with fresh liquorice and mineral and rich, full tannins.
Ampakama Syrah/Tannat 2012, San Juan ($15.99)
Ripe, dark juicy fruit aromas and flavours, but not overdone at all, with a hint of liquorice, great texture, elegant tannins and a lip-smacking finish. A delicious wine and a ridiculously amazing value. Consumers should buy it by the case, and restaurants and hotels should be pouring this by the glass as opposed to the mass-produced swill they subject their guests to. •
//the food notes 90 Quails’ Gate Late Harvest Totally Botrytis Affected Optima 2011, Okanagan ($30/375 ml) Embrace the dehydrating, concentrating “noble rot” influence of the Botrytis cinerea mould. It results in riveting aromas that blast the nose with pineapple, sultana raisin and honeycomb. The rich, sweet palate commands apricot compote, orange oil and lingering ginger. Delightful post-dinner palate-cleanser. (HH)
91 Ruffino Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Riserva 2007, Tuscany, Italy ($44)
90 Château Vignelaure 2005, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, France ($22.75)
Medium-deep garnet, with cherry aromas and violet and pronounced spicy bouquet. Mediumbodied, lots of sweet fruit with balancing acidity. A complete southern France package, and a good fruity match for a nice greasy tourtière with lots of nutmeg and cloves. (RL)*
The nose on this gorgeous Riserva is highlighted by fragrant violets, meaty wild berries, plums, tobacco leaf and swirling spices. It has youthful vigour and elegance on the palate with concentrated dark fruits, tar notes, cinnamon, pepper, herbs and a firm bead of minerality through the core. It all leads to a super long finish that is held up by firm acidity and ripe tannins. Great aging potential of 10 years or more. Enjoy with spicy bean soup with bacon and grilled sausages or spring lamb casserole. (RV)
87 Hardys Bankside Shiraz 2010, South Australia ($15)
A friendly nose of plum, currants, mocha, blackberry, black pepper and sweet oak spice. It’s delicious in the mouth with forward dark fruits, a touch of cherry-raspberry and mint with soft tannins and bright acidity. Pair it with chili or lamb. (RV)
88 Lake Breeze Seven Poplars Pinot Noir 2008, Okanagan ($30) Gets your attention with its smoky black fruit and earthy nose. Savoury, rich flavours of black raspberry and black cherry on a well-balanced palate. Warm, oaky finish with lingering anise notes. Still youthful and well-structured, so hold for a year or two for better integration. Serve with duck then or now. (HH)
86 Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir 2010, Okanagan ($30)
Intense, dark-toned scents of smoke, caramel and coffee, intertwined with hints of red berries and rhubarb. Mouth-filling flavours of black cherry, red plum and cedar, framed by light, tight tannins. Spicy vanilla and smoky tobacco warm the finish. Pair with pork tenderloin in a teriyaki-based marinade. (HH)
91 Mar da Palha 2009, Lisboa, Portugal ($21.99)
Atlantic-influenced Syrah (75%) and Touriga Nacional (25%) blends harmoniously. Seductive scents of violets, black fruits and spicy meat. Satin texture supports rich blackberry and raspberry fruit, buttressed by sweet tannins. Satisfying liquorice and cocoa finish. Superb with sautéed sausages and kale. (HH)
54 // February/March 2013
shop, stock, cook\\
by nancy Johnson
I maintain a well-stocked kitchenduring the winter months, making my trips to the supermarket few and far between. I don’t mind stopping at the store for a small bag of fresh items like fruit, salad and vegetables. I just don’t enjoy schlepping tons of groceries from the store to my car to my home when wet snow is blowing down my boots. Here are a few mains and some desserts to get you through the next week or so. They include ingredients that home cooks usually have on hand — such as eggs, cheese, butter, sour cream, heavy cream, mustard, beef and chicken broth, pasta, marmalade, oatmeal, raisins, herbs, spices, garlic, potatoes, onions — and canned goods, such as tomatoes, chipotle chilies and beans. Freezer items include spinach, shrimp, salmon and raspberries. Buy and freeze meat as it goes on sale. The recipes here call for Italian sausage meat, beef sirloin tip roast and a whole chicken. Pick up the following items at the market as needed: French bread, deli ham, flour tortillas, lemons, oranges, Guinness draught, lager beer and, of course, wine. Be sure to up the nutritional value by serving a vegetable or green salad with each meal.
1 tsp dried parsley 8 cups chicken or beef broth 1 can cannellini, kidney or other beans, drained and rinsed 1 package chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry Leftover French bread, cut into cubes and toasted in oven until browned
sausage, bean and spinach soup with french bread croutons
This soup uses the leftover French bread from the Ham and Egg Sandwiches. Use whatever beans you have on hand, and vary the herbs depending on what’s in your cupboard. You can substitute frozen meatballs for the sausage meat. You can also add a few cups of cooked small pasta such as ditalini or shells.
1/2 2 1
tbsp olive oil lb sweet or hot Italian sausage meat (no casings) cloves garlic, minced tsp dried oregano
1. In Dutch oven, in hot oil, cook sausage meat until browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.
2. Add garlic, oregano and parsley to pan. Sauté 2 minutes or until garlic is softened. Add broth and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. 3. Add sausage, spinach, salt and pepper. Turn up heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Serve with French bread croutons. …… The soup pairs well with a Barbera D’Alba.
lazy day tomato sauce Sometimes the simplest ingredients can result in the most delicious meal. This is a super-easy tomato sauce for quiet Sunday afternoons.
large onion, chopped cups crushed tomatoes 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/2 tsp sea salt 1 lb angel hair pasta, gnocchi or tortellini, cooked Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1. In a large saucepan, combine the onion, tomatoes, olive oil
and salt. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. 2. Add more salt if needed. Toss sauce with pasta and top with cheese. …… Nothing but a Chianti Classico will do.
+ Search through a wide range of wine-friendly recipes on tidingsmag.com
shrimp fajitas with honey chipotle sauce
Frozen berries are one of the best items to keep in the freezer for quick desserts, smoothies and more. When berries are in season, buy extra and freeze right in the container. Once they are frozen, transfer to plastic bags. But if you missed this step last summer, be assured berries from the supermarket’s freezer are a reliable and juicy alternative. Use any frozen berry to make this luscious and quick parfait. If berries are very tart, add sugar until they reach the desired sweetness.
Keep frozen shrimp and scallops on hand for quick and elegant dinners. After opening the can of chipotles, freeze the remaining chilies in 1 tbsp portions in small freezer bags. If you don’t have sour cream, make the chipotle sauce with all mayo. If you prefer lime, you can substitute lime juice for the lemon.
cup fresh lemon juice 2 tbsp olive oil 2 tsp chili powder 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined 1 large onion, sliced Large flour tortillas, warmed
1. In a large bowl, whisk lemon juice, 1 tbsp
olive oil and chili powder. Add shrimp, mixing to coat. Set aside. 2. Meanwhile, in large skillet, in remaining olive oil, sauté onion over medium heat until softened and golden. Remove shrimp from marinade and add to skillet. Sauté until shrimp curl and turn pink, about 3 to 4 minutes. …… Serve shrimp mixture with warmed tortillas and Honey Chipotle Sauce (recipe below).
honey chipotle sauce 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1 1 1
minced chipotle chili in adobo sauce tbsp honey tsp fresh lemon juice
1. In small bowl, whisk sour cream, mayonnaise, chipotle chili with adobo sauce, honey and lemon juice. Season with salt to taste. …… Try with a Spanish white such as Albarino.
56 // February/March 2013
1 bag frozen raspberries, thawed 1/4 cup sugar, or more to taste Pinch of salt 2 1/2 cups heavy cream 1/3 cup icing sugar 1 tsp vanilla
1. In a blender, combine raspberries, sugar and salt. Purée until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Pour mixture through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids. Discard seeds. 2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat cream, icing sugar and vanilla on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. 3. Alternately layer berry and cream mixtures in 4 dessert glasses. Serve immediately. …… Very nice with a Vidal ice wine or, for pure drama, snifters of honeyflavoured Drambuie.
ham and fried egg open-faced sandwich serves 4
If you have eggs in the fridge, you have a lot of options for dinner. Hard-boil and mix with mayo and pickle relish for egg salad sandwiches; whip up a vegetable frittata, cheese omelette, quiche or soufflé; poach and serve over buttered English muffins; or scramble with little bits of bacon. Call me boring, but I prefer my fried eggs hard, yolks broken. However, make your eggs as you like for this yummy open-faced sandwich.
4 2 4 8
slices French bread, cut 1 inch thick tbsp olive oil tsp honey mustard, or to taste thin slices ham or other deli meat
4 2 4
slices Swiss, Cheddar or Provolone cheese tbsp butter eggs
1. Preheat broiler to high. 2. Place bread slices on baking sheet. Brush top of
bread with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Broil until toasted, about 2 minutes. Watch closely as bread will burn quickly. 3. Spread each bread slice with mustard. Place 2 ham slices and 1 cheese slice on each. Broil until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. 4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Fry eggs, flipping once, until whites are set and yolk is still slightly runny, if desired. Top each sandwich with an egg. Season with pepper. …… Excellent with Champagne or sparkling wine mixed with orange juice.
orange-glazed salmon serves 4
When flash-frozen, fish is often fresher and better-tasting than its fresh counterpart. Watch for coupons or sales, and stock up on all different types of fish to round out your menu on wintry nights. This recipe calls for orange marmalade, but apple or currant jelly would also work. Fish always pairs well with a rice pilaf; use different types of rice such as basmati, arborio or brown. Cook chopped onions and garlic in butter until softened. Add salt and thyme or saffron. Cook 1 minute longer. Stir in rice to coat. Cook 1 minute. Add broth, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Add celery, mushrooms, nuts, pine nuts, raisins or other dried fruit. Voila! Rice pilaf!
tsp paprika tsp brown sugar 1/4 tsp kosher salt 2 tbsp olive oil 4 salmon fillets 1/2 cup orange marmalade Orange or lemon slices
1. In a small bowl, combine paprika, brown sugar and salt. Rub over salmon.
2. In large skillet, in hot oil, sauté salmon fillets
over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. 3. Turn and sauté about 3 minutes longer. Stir marmalade into skillet until melted. 4. Spoon over fish to glaze. Fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork. Serve with orange or lemon slices. …… Try a fruity German Riesling with the salmon.
oatmeal raisin cookies makes about 4 dozen
When you’re craving something sweet, the ingredients for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies should be right in your cupboard. I have been making this recipe for years, and it’s quite good. For the record, I don’t have an actual sifter, which seems like a somewhat old-fashioned gadget for the cook of 2013. But rather than skip the sifting step, I simply stir the dry ingredients through a fine-mesh strainer.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 2 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking) 1 cup packed brown sugar 1 cup granulated sugar 1 cup butter, softened 2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla 2 tbsp water 1 cup raisins
1. 2. 3. 4.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease 2 cookie sheets. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in oats. In a separate bowl, with electric mixer, beat sugars and butter until creamy. 5. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour mixture and water. Gently stir in raisins. 6. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets, allowing enough space so cookies can spread out. Bake at 350˚F for 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown. …… The cookies are very nice with a sweet sherry or a cup of tea. •
Tidings uses the 100-point scale 95-100 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90-94. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85-89 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80-84. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75-79. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 & under. . . . . . . . . . .
exceptional excellent very good good acceptable below average
* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . available through wine clubs green. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . white & rosé wines red. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . red wines
the commentaries in order to get an idea of whether the wine might appeal to your taste. The prices listed are suggested retail prices and may vary from province to province. Since a large number of these wines can be purchased across Canada, check with your local liquor board, or its website, for availability. Our tasters are Tony Aspler (ON), Sean Wood (NS, NB), Gilles Bois (QC), Evan Saviolidis (ON), Harry Hertscheg (BC), Gurvinder Bhatia (AB), Rick VanSickle (ON), Ron Liteplo (AB), Tod Stewart (ON) and Jonathan Smithe (MB). Argentina // p. 58-59; Australia // p. 59; Canada // p. 59-61; Chile // p. 61; France // p. 61-62; greece // 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
italy // p. 62-63; new zealand // p. 63; portugal // p. 63-64; South Africa // p. 64; Spain // p. 64; United States // p. 64-65;
the notes\\ /ARGENTINA /
88 Kaiken Rosé 2011, Mendoza ($15)
It’s not exactly rosé weather, but this one from Argentina is bold enough to enjoy year-round. It’s made from Malbec with a nose of raspberry and strawberry and some savoury notes. It’s big on taste on the palate with expressive and juicy red fruits. Perfect match for seafood salad. (RV)
88 Trapiche Finca Las Palmas Chardonnay 2009, Uco Valley, Mendoza ($19.99)
Shows classic lemon-citrus character with floral and
tropical fruit in the background. Powerful citrus and butterscotch expression on the palate with heady but balanced alcohol and a long, well-integrated finish. (SW)
91 Finca Decero Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Remolinos Vineyard’ 2009, Mendoza ($26)
Aromas and flavours of cherry, blackcurrant and spice with elegant, well-integrated tannins, firm structure, bright acidity and a beautiful freshness on the long, silky finish. A great food wine because of its fresh acidity. The perfect match for a nicely marbled Alberta rib-eye. (GB)
58 // February/March 2013
spirits // p. 65; beer // p. 65
90 Manos Negras Pinot Noir 2009, Patagonia ($21.99)
The winery’s name is Spanish for “black hands,” in honour of those that work in the vineyards and winery. Quite complex but very approachable, with penetrating dark cherry and plum fruit flavours, lots of earthiness, silky palate and a delicious finish. Dirt with fruit, in a good way. (GB)
90 Finca Decero Syrah ‘Remolinos Vineyard’ 2010, Mendoza ($26)
Alluring aromas of berries, plum, earth and spice give way to a structured wine filled with boysenberry, plum and blackberry fruit flavours,
with firm, elegant tannins. Multi-layered, ripe but not overdone, and long on the finish. Nicely focused and balanced. Grilled lamb chops would be a great match. (GB)
89 Trapiche Finca Las Palmas Malbec 2008, San Carlos, Uco Valley, Mendoza ($19.99)
Offers developed red berry– fruit bouquet elegantly sprinkled with cinnamon and a subtle whiff of oak. Generous flavours of blackberry and background redcurrant fill the mouth together with a splash of milk chocolate, vanilla and oaky dry grip on the finish. Robust and richly satisfying. (SW)
89 Ruca Malen Petit Verdot Reserva 2010, Mendoza ($22.99)
Vibrant and vivid mouthful of dark and ripe berry, plum, cherry and pomegranate flavours with hints of earthiness, finishing with fresh liquorice and mineral and rich, full tannins. Perfect match for Argentinian asado. (GB)
88 Colome Amalaya 2010, Valle Calchaquí, Salta ($21.99)
Bold yet elegant blend of Malbec (75%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%), Syrah (5%) and Tannat (5%), with bright, juicy fruit, liquorice, nice balance and intensity. Firm underlying tannin and a wonderful approachability. (GB)
87 Kaiken Malbec 2010, Mendoza ($15)
A meaty, plummy nose with currants and spice. It’s juicy and round on the palate with cherry, blackberry and currant fruit followed by warm spices and decent acidity. (RV)
87 Callia Magna Shiraz 2009, San Juan ($25)
Big, ripe style with lush blackberry and blackcurrant fruit backed by copious layers of mocha, cocoa and spice. Lush and creamy, with a fresh finish filled with fruit. (GB)
87 Callia Magna Malbec 2009, San Juan ($25)
Loads of ripe dark fruit with hints of chocolate, liquorice and fresh herbs, firm elegant tannins and a nice freshness. Hits all the right notes for commercial appeal, but lacks a little in the interesting category. (GB)
/AUSTRALIA / 90 Westend Estate Pokerface Rosé 2011, Riverina ($15.67)
Medium-deep coral color, with an ample nose of peach and pineapple plus a little spice for interest from the Shiraz grapes. Full-bodied for a rosé, with ripe strawberries featured on the palate. A trifle sweet to accompany most foods; best as an aperitif. (RL)
89 McGuigan The Semillon Blanc 2011, South Eastern Australia ($14.99)
Scents of lemon and lime, tropical fruit and a suggestion of mint lead the way for generously ripe lime, grapefruit and tropical fruit on the palate. Bracing acidity, gritty mineral and lingering fruity zest complete the picture. (SW)
88 Fat ’n Skinny Rosé 2011, McLaren Vale ($16.17)
The Shiraz/Tempranillo blend turns out a mediumdeep salmon colour, with a nose of raspberries and spice and a hint of pineapple. Medium-bodied showing red berries and crisp acidity. Try this pink food wine with pink meat — it’s great with baked ham. (RL)
87 Jacob’s Creek Cool Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($14.49)
Prominent Sauvignon gooseberry, grassy herbal and asparagus character on the nose with citrus, green herb and mineral flavours, zingy acidity and a fresh, lightly sweet note on the finish. (SW)
86 Jacob’s Creek Cool Harvest Pinot Grigio 2011 ($14.49)
Aromatic varietal scents of fresh green apple and pear, with lively crisp pear and citrus flavours in the mouth backed up by appetizing acidity and lightly sweet fruity finish. (SW)
92 Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz 2010, McLaren Vale ($30) Full-bodied; the blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, peanut butter, chocolate, smoke and mint inundate the senses. The palate is jammy with loads of plummy tannins and delicious length. Pair this with some hardy winter fair, such as a braised lamb shank or a herb-and-pepper-encrusted prime rib roast. (ES)
88 Hardys Butcher’s Gold Shiraz/ Sangiovese 2010, South Australia ($15)
I love the thick, rich nose on this interesting blend with notes of cherry, savoury blackberry-bramble, oak spice, raspberry and pepper. The robust red fruits on the palate have a savoury edge to go with pepper, tar, liquorice and firm tannins. (RV)
88 Josef Chromy Pinot Noir 2010, Tasmania ($35)
Smooth, supple and generous, with black cherry, plum, berry, earth and spice flavours; harmonious and subtle with impressive depth and nice richness, yet maintains an elegant feel. (GB)
92 Wolf Blass Grey Label Cabernet/Shiraz 2010, Langhorne Creek ($35)
87 Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, South Australia ($15)
90 Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, South Australia ($27)
This 15% alcohol offering serves up blackberries, plums, cherries, mint, cocoa and spice on a jammy texture. There is excellent length and a tannic backbone, ensuring another 10 years ahead. (ES)
What an exciting nose of blackberry, cassis, raspberry jam, earth and nutmeg-cinnamon spice. It’s broad and flavourful in the mouth with plum, vanilla, jammy red fruits and currants, and all built on a sturdy frame of ripe tannins and good acidity. Lots of stuffing in this beauty red to age and improve for 5 to 7 years. (RV)
From South Australia, this venerable blend shows bright red cherry-berry, mint and light spices on the nose. It gets more complex on the palate with cherry, plum and currant spices with added black pepper, wood spice and soft tannins through the finish. (RV)
94 Benjamin Bridge Brut Reserve Méthode Classique 2005, Nova Scotia ($74.79)
Elegant bouquet proffers citrus and red fruit with floral notes and toasty, spicy and light caramel overtones. Brightly focused citrus flavour hits the palate initially, with Pinot red fruit providing a secondary
//the notes kick. Typically Nova Scotian incisive acidity and mineral character contrast with fine creamy texture. Finishes with lingering fruitiness and yeasty biscuit notes. Affirms Benjamin Bridge’s growing credentials as a world leader in this style. (SW)
90 Henry of Pelham Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2010, Ontario ($19.95)
Ontario is making world-class Chardonnay at very good prices compared to white Burgundy. Light straw in colour, it offers a minerally nose of spicy oak and apples. The wine is more concentrated on the palate than the bouquet suggests. Sweet melon and pineapple flavours fill the mouth, nicely balanced with well-integrated oak. It’s toasty and nutty on the finish. (TA)
90 Joie Farm Reserve Chardonnay 2010, Okanagan ($29.90)
Burgundy-inspired style that reveals mellow ripe citrus, creamery butter, hazelnut and a trace of butterscotch on the nose. Green apple, citrus; creamy, lightly buttery texture, lively acidity and solid mineral core with youthful oak on the finish. Best with another year or two in the cellar. (SW)
90 Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catherine Rose NV, Niagara ($29.95)
Henry has taken this wine to a new level, both in packaging and quality. The new label colour scheme really pops, and for my taste, this is the best rendition of this bubbly to date. This blend of Pinot
Noir and Chardonnay spent 30 months on the lees, creating a bouquet of biscuits, yeast, raspberry, cherry and green apple. The finish is long and crisp. Sashimi was made for this wine. (ES)
90 Gaspereau Vineyards Riesling Brut 2009, Nova Scotia ($41.99) Delicate floral and lemoncitrus scents showcase true Riesling character. Really opens up on the palate with classic lemon and lime intensity, solid mineral grip, delightfully creamy texture and brisk acidity adroitly balanced with a touch of residual sweetness. (SW)
89 Rocky Creek Winery Pinot Gris 2011, Cowichan Valley, BC ($17)
Lively green and citrus fruit with fruit-blossom scents, mineral grip and a clean fruity finish, with a trace of residual sweetness. (SW)
89 Tawse Sketches Chardonnay 2010, Niagara ($19.95)
The new vintage of Sketches Chardonnay is a mid-weight offering with a bouquet of apple, pear, lemon, smoke and vanilla. The palate delivers much of the same, as well as fresh acidity and a spicy/ creamy dimension. There is very good length and some heat from the warm vintage that was 2010. (ES)
89 Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catherine Estate Carte Blanche 2007, Short Hills Bench ($45) This, HOP’s first vintage bubbly, is made from 100% Chardonnay. The 54 months
60 // February/March 2013
of lees aging combined with the warm growing conditions of 2007 has produced a forward offering full of fresh bread, peach, apple, lemon and cinnamon. Pair with seared scallops or grilled shrimp topped with a dash of fresh lemon juice. (ES)
88 Quails’ Gate Chardonnay 2011, Okanagan ($20)
The fruity freshness of stainless-steel fermentation integrates well with the spicier tones of barrel treatment. Baked lemon tart and toasty caramel aromas. Rich tropical and stone-fruit flavours; lingering butter toffee with orange zest. A palate-pleaser with Dungeness crab cakes. (HH)
88 Rocky Creek Winery Katherine’s Sparkle Brut 2011, Cowichan Valley, BC ($23.90)
Bottle-fermented blend of Ortega, Gewürztraminer and Bacchus with plenty of floral fragrance, light fizz, pleasantly crisp green fruit and lingering floral sensations on the finish. (SW)
87 Tawse Sketches Rosé 2011, Niagara ($15.95)
Here you will find a pleasant and easy-drinking rosé with a perfume of smoke, roasted nuts, strawberry and raspberry. Medium length and sound acid earmark this wine for charcuterie and cheese plates. (ES)
87 Rocky Creek Winery Jubilee Sparkling Rosé 2012, Cowichan Valley, BC ($23.90) A blend of Pinot Gris with
Pinot Noir showing citrus, red-berry and cherry flavours with rather vigorous mousse, pleasing creaminess and a fresh, crisp finish. (SW)
87 Burrowing Owl Chardonnay 2010, Okanagan ($25)
Fermented and aged 9 months in new and 1-year-old barrels, with lees stirring. Hence the toasty oak influence, from spicy aromas to baked fruit flavours to a nutty finish, enriched by a lemon-custard feel. Fresh yet weighty, with butterscotch, golden apple, grapefruit and hazelnut. Roast-chicken friendly. (HH)
91 Stratus Red Icewine 2011, Niagara ($39.85/200 ml)
This singular blend of 35% Cabernet Franc, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Mourvèdre and 14% Syrah is a layered stickie, chock full of strawberry jam, guava paste, plum compote, fig jam, kirsch, mocha, spice, coconut and red flowers. There is excellent length as well as a slight bitterness. Break out the fondue pot, melt some chocolate and head to town with your friends. (ES)
90 Tawse Grower’s Blend Cabernet Franc 2010, Niagara ($26.95)
This is but one of many impressive 2010 reds from Tawse. Medium body, this Franc explodes with cassis, black cherry jam, spice, dark cocoa, violets, smoke and vanilla. There is very good length, ripe and well-integrated tannins and a long aftertaste. Drink over the next 7 years. (ES)
89 Henry of Pelham Reserve Baco Noir 2010, Ontario ($24.95) This 2010 Baco Reserve is a worthy successor to the great 2009. Medium to full body; the smoke, coffee and mocha qualities from new American barrels combines with the plum, raspberry and darkcherry qualities of the grape. There is great length, crisp acidity (typical for Baco) and medium tannins. Drink over the next 4 years.
87 Quails’ Gate Old Vines Foch 2010, Okanagan ($25)
Sourced from 28-year-old vines in warm Osoyoos, this Marechal Foch delivers a charmingly bright, brambly and robust style. Fragrant floral, hickory and blackberry leads to cinnamon-dusted field berries. Jammy-yet-tangy finish, with chocolate and tobacco notes. Superb with smoked meat. (HH)
87 Starling Lane Pinot Noir 2009, Vancouver Island ($28)
Fine expression of their south Vancouver Island vineyards, exhibiting both richness and delicacy. Engaging aromas of red berries, herbs, cola and subtle spice. Bright acidity with mouth-puckering cherry flavour fills the medium-bodied frame. Finishes with hints of chocolate. Match with local lamb. (HH)
86 Rocky Creek Winery Pinot Noir 2010, Cowichan Valley, BC ($21.90)
Delicately perfumed red cherry, hints of strawberry and a whiff of spice. Lightly
tart cherry dominates on the palate, backed up by tight, dry tannins and a splash of milk chocolate. (SW)
86 Quails’ Gate Merlot 2010, Okanagan ($25)
Savoury-toned blackberry, plum and dried herb, with hints of coconut, cocoa and clove. Firm tannins and inky texture will soften up with aeration. Dark chocolate lingers, then finishes dry and peppery with a hint of mint. A robust wine for hearty winter fare, like sautéed beef and mushrooms. (HH)
85 Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Okanagan ($38)
A sudden Thanksgiving frost shortened the ripening, leading to a leaner-style vintage. Coffee bean, tobacco leaf and cedar aromas strike the nose. Olive, leather, roasted peppers and prune imbue a slightly astringent palate. Dried sage and cocoa pervade the peppery finish. Match with barbecued meats. (HH)
/CHILE / 89 Montes Limited Selection Cabernet/ Carménère 2011, Colchagua Valley ($15)
This full-bodied red has a wonderful nose of blackberry, plums, cedar, mint, pepper and roasted herbs. It is firm and exciting in the mouth with herbal dark fruits, touches of ripe cherry-kirsch, roasted espresso bean and sweet spices all delivered on a vibrant core of acidity. A value wine that will cellar nicely for a few years. (RV)
87 Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir 2010, Casablanca Valley ($15) Ruby colour; earthy, cherrypit nose; dry, medium-bodied, firmly structured, with plum and cherry flavours and a tannic finish. (TA)
/FRANCE / 91 Roger & Didier Raimbault Sancerre 2011, Loire ($22.95)
Light straw in colour with a greenish tint; spicy, grassy, gooseberry and vanilla oak nose; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, beautifully balanced gooseberry and elderberry flavours with lively acidity. Lovely mouthfeel. (TA)
90 Preiss-Zimmer Vieilles Vignes Riesling 2008, Alsace ($18.95)
Straw colour; on the nose, a petrol note, minerally, peach and citrus aromas; mediumbodied, fresh peach and floral flavours with bracing acidity. (TA)
90 Vignobles Jeanjean Devois des Agneaux d’Aumelas 2010, Coteaux-du-Languedoc, Languedoc-Roussillon ($21.25)
Pale yellow with a light grey tint. Complex nose of citrus, hints of tropical fruits and honey; discreet oak. Soft attack, ripe flavour; oak brings extra fattiness without tasting as oak. Nice round finish. Ready to drink. (GBQc)
89 Jean-Marc Brocard Kimmeridgian Chardonnay 2008, Burgundy ($17) A well-priced white Burgun-
dy. Straw colour with a green tint; sour cream, apple nose; medium-bodied, deftly handled oak with minerally, apple and sour cream flavours. (TA)
89 Domaine Laroche Chablis St-Martin 2011, Burgundy ($21.95)
Of all white wines, Chablis is perhaps the most versatile when it comes to matching with food because of its vibrant acidity. Straw-coloured, with a nose of white flowers and green apples; it’s fresh and lively on palate, medium-bodied, with a lemony, minerally, greenapple flavour and good mid-palate fruit. (TA)
89 J Drouhin DrouhinVaudon Chablis 2009, Burgundy ($25)
Pale yellow. Sharp, citrusy nose with a hint of flint. Vivid acidity throughout, fatty middle palate, ripe fruity taste. Energetic finish. Ready to drink now or over the next couple of years with seafood. (GBQc)
88 Baron Philippe Rothschild Chardonnay 2010, Pays D’Oc ($11)
A French Chardonnay that tastes like it could have been made in Chablis. Nice. The nose shows citrus-apple fruit, toasted almonds and flinty minerality. It’s fresh and fruity on the palate with razor-sharp acidity, gunflint and wonderful nutty notes. Fantastic bargain wine. (RV)
88 Mouton Cadet Blanc 2011, Bordeaux ($13.45)
A blend of 60% Semillon, 30% Sauvignon Blanc. 10%
//the notes Muscadelle. Pale straw colour with a lime tint. This is the best Mouton Cadet Blanc I have tasted — grassy, greenfig nose; dry, light- to medium-bodied with tropical fruit notes. Very elegant and good value. (TA)
93 Château PontetCanet 2008, Pauillac ($129)
The 2008 Pontet-Canet is one of the stars of the vintage. Full-bodied, there is an opaque black colour and a bouquet of toast, smoke, blackcurrants, blackberries, cherries, raspberries and vanilla. Backing it all up are some serious tannins, which necessitates 5 more years of cellaring. Drink over the subsequent 20 years. (ES)
92 Château DucruBeaucaillou 2008, St-Julien ($169)
The opaque colour leads into a spice rack of cinnamon, anise, allspice and clove, which meshes with plums, cherries, cocoa and cassis. There is solid extract and weight, but the tannins are dusty, so my suggestion is to hold until 2017 or so and then drink easy until at least 2030. (ES)
90 Château Carsin 2005, Bordeaux ($16.33) Clear, medium-deep garnet. On the nose there are black cherries, oak spice, leather and tobacco. Medium-bodied, with more cherries on the classic Bordeaux palate and a long finish. Complexity compares well with bigger names. Now plateaued, ready to drink. (RL)
90 Domaine Cazes Cuvée Marie-Gabrielle 2008, Côtes du Roussillon, LanguedocRoussillon ($18.75)
Ruby-purplish. Ripe black fruits (blackberry, blackcurrant); minerally, touches of spice and dried herbs, all with a nice purity. You taste the sun-drenched fruits in the concentrated, velvety middle palate. Balanced acidity, with a firm finish of exceptional intensity for the appellation. Generous and satisfying; a great buy. (GBQc)
89 Jean-Paul Brun Beaujolais ‘L’Ancien’ 2010, Beaujolais ($25)
Loads of ripe fruit with cherry, plum and anise flavours, nice depth, persistent flavours with a great mineral quality; bright acidity, silky texture and a lingering finish. (GB)
87 Laroche Pinot Noir de la Chevalière 2011, IGP Pays d’Oc, LanguedocRoussillon ($14.75) Cherry red. Small red fruits, a touch of spice and fruit stones. Light but flavourful; good acidity, clean taste and a balanced finish. Nothing complex, but nice and enjoyable right now on a salmon steak or grilled poultry. (GBQc)
/GREECE / 88 Cavino Grande Reserve Nemea 2006, Nemea ($14.95)
There is more to Greek wine than Retsina. Though they have international varieties planted for their red wines, the
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more interesting are the local grapes. Cavino Grande Reserve Nemea 2006 is made from Agiorgitiko grape (also known as St George). Deep ruby colour and a nose of tobacco leaf, cedar and cherries. It is an easy-drinking wine with a sweet cherry flavour that finishes dry and savoury with ripe tannins. (TA)
/ITALY / 89 Bolla Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut DOCG ($19.99)
Truly authentic Prosecco, like this one, comes from the hilly DOCG region between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. Gentle spritz, sappy green fruit with a discreet drop of honey, refreshingly light alcohol and moderate acidity exemplify Prosecco’s easy charm. (SW)
88 Ruffino Orvieto Classico 2010, Umbria ($10.95)
Pale yellow. Simple but pleasant nose of peach and watermelon. Light and fresh; delicate acidity and semi-dry palate, slightly citrusy taste. Drink up. (GBQc)
88 E Keller Pinot Grigio 2011, Alto Adige ($16)
Pale gold. The nose is an appealing mélange of pineapple, pears and tangerine. Full-bodied and rich, featuring ripe pear flavours and lemony acidity. Complex, with a nutty bitterness on the finish. Handy to keep in the fridge; will competently pair with a wide variety of foods. (RL)
87 Ruffino Orvieto Classico 2011, Orvieto ($11)
Ruffino is a big producer in Italy but delivers quality at all price points. The Orvieto is a delightful white that shows pear, citrus, melon and floral notes on the nose. On the palate look for ripe pear and juicy citrus with a hint of sweetness, balanced out by good acidity. (RV)
87 Bottega Il Vino dei Poeti Rosé NV, Venice ($13)
What a delightful little Italian sparkler made from Pinot Nero and Raboso. Some of the proceeds from this wine went to help fight breast cancer. The nose shows fresh apple, raspberry and cherry notes with a touch of citrus zest. It has a persistent froth on the palate with fruits of raspberry and currants and a nice sweet and spicy note on the finish. Serve as an apéritif or with light fish dishes. (RV)
95 Cerraia Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2007 ($27.17) Medium-deep cherry red. Nose is a mash of dark berries overlaid by the smell of old wood varnish and leather. Full-bodied, powerful plum flavours balanced with a zingy acidity. Long finish allows full enjoyment. (RL)
95 Delibori Amarone Classico 2004, Valpolicella ($37)
Deep garnet with lots of fine particles. Aroma like a slightly smoked maraschino cherry, with leather and a hint of vanilla. The high alcohol is
definitely perceptible in the mouth, along with ripe Bing cherries. Full-bodied, long finish; just the right amount of tannins, well-made. (RL)
95 Ca’ La Bionda Amarone 2005, Valpolicella ($44.50)
Clear, deep garnet. Nose of raisins and sweet black liquorice, caramel and roasted meat. Mouthful of sweet plums, this has it all: fruit, berry acidity and tannic structure with a long finish. Near to peak drinking time. (RL)
91 Rivera Il Falcone Riserva 2006, Castel del Monte, Puglia ($22.95)
Intense and complex nose of ripe red and black fruits, fresh and inviting. Supple attack, fruity taste; thick texture of smooth, fatty tannins turning firm in the finish. A keeper for 5 to 7 years at an attractive price. (GBQc)
90 Ruffino Modus 2008, Tuscany ($29)
No question this modestly priced Super Tuscan IGT isn’t quite what the blockbuster 2007 vintage was, but it’s still a super wine at a fantastic price. It’s a modern blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with an earthy nose of currants, cherries and small blackberries, mocha spice, leather and dried herbs. It is less concentrated than the 2007 but better balanced for short-term drinking. In all, an earthy, spicy red that shows red fruits, dark plums and minerals delivered on a racy spine of acidity. (RV)
90 Guerrieri Rizzardi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2007, Veneto ($46.95)
Dense ruby in colour, this wine has an intense nose of plums, cooked cherries and raisins. It’s full-bodied and rich, in fact, a fruitcake of a wine but nicely balanced with a firm finish. (TA)
89 Ruffino Lodola Nuova Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008, Tuscany ($23.95)
Ruby-garnet. Nose is light with delicate fruity notes and a hint of oak. Palate is soft with a nice fruity core and a tight finish. Wines of this style have a charm of their own, on the opposite side of show-off. (GBQc)
89 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico 2008, Tuscany ($24.95) Ruby with a garnet rim. Fine and elegant nose of red fruits with notes of dried fruits. Medium body, nice acidity and delicate tannins for a good balance on the palate. Drinks well now. (GBQc)
89 Ruffino Modus Toscana 2009, IGT Tuscany ($28.95)
Done in the super-Toscan style, with 25% each of Merlot and Cabernet-Sauvignon added to Sangiovese, it shows a nice ruby-purple colour. Quite oaky, there is a good expression of ripe red fruits on the still-young nose. Equally young on the palate, it is firm, even tannic with supple, compact fruity extract. Dry finish. Will improve over the next 3 to 5 years. (GBQc)
88 Vinicola Dino Illuminati Controguerra Riparosso 2010, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC ($14)
Warm, spicy red fruit showing hints of clove and nutmeg on the nose evolves into rounded ripe cherry fruit encased in solid but comfortably approachable tannic structure. Well-integrated fruit, spice and discreet oak on the finish. Substantial, food-friendly wine. (SW)
88 Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2011, Tuscany ($19.99)
Warmly ripe red fruits on the nose with supple, appetizing bitter cherry flavour, rounded tannins, judiciously balanced acidity and foodfriendly bitter cherry bite on the finish. Calls for a rich rabbit ragu. (SW)
88 Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2009, Tuscany ($22)
This is Gabbiano’s finest expression of Sangiovese, with an interesting and complex nose of black cherry, plum, smoky spices and blackcurrant jam. It’s old-school Chianti with savoury fruit on the palate and touches of liquorice, tar and wood spices. Enjoy with roasted red meats rich in spices. (RV)
87 Gabbiano Chianti Classico 2009, Tuscany ($17)
Gabbiano is rich in Tuscan history. The ancient castle walls that surround the winery were built in 1124. The Chianti Classico has a nose of cherry, plum, earth, blackberry, currants and
mocha-vanilla spice. On the palate the black fruits are joined by liquorice, roasted meats, spice and tar and balanced out by searing acidity. Try with mushroom risotto. (RV)
82 Delibori Valpolicella 2009, Venice ($13.83)
Medium-deep cherry red. Nose of raspberries drizzled with candy apple. Mediumbodied, sweet red berry fruit; lots of acidity that cuts beautifully into a deluxe pizza. Ready to drink anytime. (RL)
/NEW / ZEALAND 90 Spy Valley Pinot Noir 2010, Marlborough ($30)
Complex duo of red fruit and fragrant spice strikes the nose. Fruit-forward bursts of plums and cherries, giving way to mid-palate richness, supple mouthfeel and an overarching herbal freshness. The long, satisfying finish brings out liquorice and cocoa nuances. Delicious with Morrocan lamb tagine. (HH)
/PORTUGAL / 93 Vale Dona Maria 2008, Douro ($39.99)
Captivates with complex floral, herbal and plum aromas. Impresses with bright acidity, elegant structure, medium-plus body and lithe, mouth-coating tannins, while bursting with red and black fruits. Lingering red liquorice leads to a very dry finish. Spectacular with roast suckling pig — especially the crackling! (HH)
//the notes 89 Álvaro Castro Quinta da Pellada Reserva 2010, Dão ($17.95) This blend of 3 Portuguese varieties (Encruzado, Bical and Cerceal) shows an aromatic and slightly perfumed nose of citrus notes, with a mineral touch and a light rustic character. The vivid acidity is offset by the round, fatty texture of the middle palate. It ends on a sharp finish of very good length. Ready to drink, and nice with a ginger-seasoned pork fillet. (GBQc)
88 Alvears Fino Montilla, MontillaMoriles ($11.45)
The best wine to stimulate your appetite is a glass of dry sherry. Not far from the region where they produce sherry is the region of Montilla-Moriles, where they make wines in the same style as sherry but they’re cheaper. This fortified wine is crisply dry with flavours of camomile and green nuts. Serve chilled, it’s the perfect aperitif to make you feel hungry. (TA)
88 Faustino V 2011, Rioja DOC ($14.99)
/SOUTH / AFRICA 88 Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2010, Swartland ($14.95)
This bargain-priced Syrah from the warm, dry Swartland region is dense purpleblack in colour. It has a smoky nose of blackberries and roasted herbs, reminding me of a Syrah from the northern Rhône with its savoury, smoky black-cherry flavour, well-integrated oak and soft tannins. A rare steak may be the standard but try a slice of pizza. (TA)
Shows green, tropical and citrus fruit with lightly aromatic floral notes. Generous fresh apple and citrus flavours; deftly balanced acidity with a lick of mineral lead into refreshing ripe grapefruit lift on the finish. (SW)
87 La Casona de Castaño Old Vines Monastrell 2011, Yecla ($9) A great little Spanish quaffer that shows cassis, currants, maraschino cherry and light spices on the nose. It’s bold
and ripe on the palate with red and dark fruits and surprising structure for such an affordable wine. (RV)
/UNITED / STATES 91 Three Saints Chardonnay 2009, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara ($20)
This Cali Chard is everything you want from a well-made, well-balanced white. The nose shows ripe pear and zesty lemon and only hints at vanilla and spice. The balance in the mouth between ripe fruit and integrated oak spice is perfectly suited to offer up pear, honeysuckle and vibrant citrus through a long finish. Chard done right. (RV)
91 Scott Family Estate Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2011, Monterey County ($25)
This wine grown in Monterey shows its Burgundian heritage. Bright straw colour with a nose of apple, toast, a barnyard note and an engaging floral touch. Full-bodied, concentrated, creamy apple flavour and well-balanced with good length. (TA)
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64 // February/March 2013
89 Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2010, Columbia Valley ($18)
From the value line of Charles Smith’s Columbia Valley wines in Washington comes this kick-ass Riesling. The nose is a refreshing mix of citrus, crisp apple slices and minerals. On the palate it has a nice tug of sweet and tart lime and grapefruit, with cleansing acidity and wet-stone minerality. (RV)
89 Chateau St Jean Fumé Blanc 2010, Sonoma ($20)
A touch of Sémillon and Viognier is blended into this wine that sees a touch of oak aging. The nose displays pear, apple and citrus fruit with just a kiss of honey and spice. It shows weight and complexity on the palate with pear, fig and toasted vanilla flavours. There’s just a shot of citrus zest on the finish of this lovely, bold Sauvignon Blanc. (RV)
88 Sebastiani Chardonnay 2010, Sonoma ($18)
Tropical fruits and moderate oak in a typical California
style. Nice acidity, a round body and good volume on the palate. Oaky finish. Very good. (GBQc)
87 Beringer Founders’ Estate Chardonnay 2010, California ($18)
A good little Chardonnay for everyday drinking from California. The nose shows green apple, pear, citrus, vanilla and spice. It’s spicy in the mouth with a range of pear and citrus fruits and good vibrancy through the finish. (RV)
94 Opus One 2008, Napa ($189.95)
Intense and layered, the plums, blackberries, cherries, vanilla, violets, graphite, spice, cocoa and mint keep on delivering on the long finale. The ample and plummy tannins are buried underneath the extract and richness, allowing the wine to age effortlessly over the next 20 years. (ES)
91 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Napa ($50)
The nose shows lovely blackcurrants, cassis, chocolate-mocha, eucalyptus, herbs and oak spices. It is youthful on the palate but still displays intense layers of ripe black fruits, dusty tannins, mint and spice through a long, smooth finish. There is also a fair amount of acid in this refined Napa Cab. Hold for a few years. (RV)
90 Sebastiani Secolo 2006, Sonoma ($40)
Complex nose of black fruits, blueberry, anise and some notes of torrefaction (roasting, toasting). The palate
follows with an intense flavour, a thick texture and wrapped, finely grained tannins. Finish is firm with a good length. No rush to open this Bordeaux blend, even if it’s very good already. (GBQc)
89 Project Paso Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Paso Robles, California ($17.90)
This fruit-driven red from Paso Robles is dense purple in colour with a smoky blackcurrant and vanilla oak nose. The fruit is sweet and succulent, full on the palate with a rich blackcurrant flavour and soft tannins. Its muscular nature calls for a hearty meat dish. (TA)
89 Sebastiani Pinot Noir 2010, Sonoma ($19.95) Cherry red. Very expressive nose of ripe cherry, kirsch and smoky/spicy oak notes. Tender acidity, nice fruity taste with good freshness; balance is good if only slightly on the alcohol side. Clean finish. (GBQc)
89 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, California ($35)
Knights Valley is about 30 km northwest of Napa Valley and is defined by the rocky, well-drained soils that are perfect for growing Cabernet. The nose shows plums, black cherry, mocha, red liquorice, blueberry, herbs and black tea. The black fruits, anise, roasted coffee bean and spices are soft on the palate and balanced nicely with the rounded tannins. Ready to drink now or cellar for 3 or 4 years. Serve with beef tenderloin. (RV)
89 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir 2008, Russian River ($40)
Attractive aromas of ripe raspberry, cherry and herbal notes. Complex savoury flavours, with lively fruit on a well-balanced palate supported by polished tannins. The long finish is flecked by forest-floor and mineral notes. Versatile and very food-friendly, so definitely a worthy companion for the patio grill. (HH)
88 Patricia Green Pinot Noir 2009, Willamette Valley ($45)
Intriguing scents of floral, spice and compost. Invitingly complex, this red belies its pale garnet colour and light-to-medium body. The well-balanced palate delivers bright herbal notes along side oaky spice and rootsy earthiness. Exceptionally food-friendly, from grilled seafood to roasted vegetables to Asian fare. (HH)
87 Project Paso Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Paso Robles, California ($17)
The Project Paso is a fruitdriven and immediately accessible wine from the warm Paso Robles AVA. Mediumbodied and smooth, it churns out black cherry, dark plum, toast and cinnamon on the lengthy finale. (ES)
/SPIRITS / Torres 10 Gran Reserva Imperial Brandy, Penedès ($30.50) Light brown to amber. Expressive, nutty nose of
dried fruits (raisins, fig), light tobacco and a buttery note. Very smooth, intense and dry, the dark caramel taste lingers on the lengthy finish. A fine brandy made from indigenous grapes Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel.lo, usually found in sparkling cavas. (GBQc)
Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port 2007, Douro Valley ($17.95)
One of my favourite LBVs. Great depth of colour; a nose of mulberries, dried figs and milk chocolate with vanilla oak notes — flavours that enrich the palate. (TA).
/BEER / Creemore Springs Brewery Traditional Pilsener, Ontario ($3.29/473ml)
This Ontario brew offers a malty, slightly sour aroma with a whiff of hops and a flavourful combination of lightly sweet fruity malt, contrasting zesty dry hoppy bitterness and smooth texture in the mouth. Shows authentic hoppy bitter Pilsener character missing from many popular Euro-Lagers. (SW)
Hop City Barking Squirrel Lager ($14/6 pack)
Red amber colour with nutty, yeasty malt and light, fruity background aromas. Rounded fruity malt flavour with good weight; pleasantly creamy texture and very dry hoppy bitterness on the finish. (SW)
altitude with attitude\\
by tony aspler
Thanks to the Fuzion phenomenon, we tend to think of Argentina as a place where we can buy inexpensive wines. This blend of Malbec and Shiraz virtually created the insatiable demand for the Malbec grape in Canada. The wine entered the Ontario market at $7.45 a bottle in 2006, having first established its popularity in Quebec. Within the first five weeks at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the total allocation of 5,000 cases was sold out. The wine went viral on social media. Customers were taking it home by the case. The interest was driven not by wine writers, but by consumers themselves who used Facebook and Twitter to spread the news of the great buy they had found. At one point when the Fuzion phenomenon was at its height, the LCBO sold four containers in two days — that’s 5,488 cases. This was unprecedented in a market where a new wine brand might be considered a success if it sold between 1,000 and 2,000 cases in its first year. What drove this brand? First, the price point and the price/quality ratio. Second, the state of the economy — Canadians, like the rest of the world, were suffering and still are. We did not have the disposable income to spend on wine, but we wanted to keep on drinking it. And third, novelty. North Americans tend to be fickle and are always on the lookout for something new. And there is no brand loyalty when it comes to the possibility of saving 20 cents on the price of a bottle. When you think of Argentina, what springs to mind is the Mendoza Valley, that vast, high plateau west of Buenos Aires that receives an average of eight inches of rain a year. Of the 1,341 wineries in the country, 1,200 of them are in Mendoza — producing over 70 per cent of the country’s wine. For the most part these are wines with altitude because they are grown at elevations up to 2,000 metres to compensate for the heat of the summer. You can tell when a region is in vogue when Europeans begin to invest big bucks in land and breathtaking facilities. In the Uco Valley, I visited Clos de los Siete, an association of six Bordeaux château owners (originally seven, hence the name Siete) who are partners in a collective enterprise led by the world’s leading flying winemaker, Michel Rolland. The property is literally a clos (a walled-off vineyard) of 850 hectares
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spectacularly set in the foothills of the Andes, rather like an upscale gated community for very wealthy vignerons from Bordeaux. The five ultra-modern wineries on this property that grow grapes for the brand — and their own labels — supply at least 40 per cent of their tonnage for the production of Clos de Los Siete. They are all doing exciting things here from Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. The wineries include Flecha de los Andes (Arrows of the Andes), which is owned by Château Dassault in St-Émilion and Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. The owner of Monteviejo is Catherine Péré Vergé who also runs Château Montviel in Pomerol and Château la Gravière in Lalande de Pomerol. Cuvelier Los Andes is owned by the Cuvelier family, which also owns Château Le Crock in St-Estèphe and the second-growth Château Léoville-Poyferré in St-Julien. DiamAndes, the most spectacular facility (architecturally speaking), is owned by the Belgian Bonnie family, which also owns Château Malartic-Lagravière. Michel Rolland is the proprietor of the Clos de los Siete winery. And you can forget the Fuzion price tag. These are serious wines at serious prices. •
illustration: FRancesco Gallé, www.francescogalle.com
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