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//features 20// heyday by michael pinkus
Gamay may be the most misunderstood grape.
22// douro daze by evan saviolidis
A tasting of Portugal's top reds.
26// grow, pick,
by Rick vansickle From the Old World to the New, has Riesling taken the reins from Chardonnay.
31// indigenous by sean wood
Will Sicily's indigenous grapes replace our noble French fascination?
36// Mav wine and spirits awards 2011
Tidings editors select the best assemblages and spirits from around the world.
40// Inspired by tod stewart
What is inspiring South Africa's winemakers?
44// the $10 challenge
by carolyn Evans-Hammond Can you really get a decent bottle of wine for that price?
48// no more kitchen nightmares by jonathan smithe
The Tidings how-to kitchen renovation guide.
40 22 tidingsmag.com
pinnacle wine on cd 2009
Domaine Pinnacle, winner of over 50 gold medals
Cidre de glace - Ice Cider
//Ă la carte 7// Contributors 8// from the editors 11// Conversations Letters to the editor.
13// Simple Living Michael Volpatt
14// Umami Joanne Will
15// Anything but
17// must try lesley wild
18// Bon Vivant Peter Rockwell
47// Pours gilles bois
//notes 50// the mav notes
55// Bouquet Garni
54// the food notes
66// final word
58// The Buying Guide
An appetizing selection of food-friendly faves.
Nancy Johnson Tony Aspler
Top wines from around the world scored.
Argentina // p. 59 Australia // p. 59-60
Canada // p. 60-61 chile // p. 61 France // p. 61-63 Germany // p. 63 Italy // p. 63 New Zealand // p. 63 portugal // p. 63-65 United States // p. 65 beer // p. 65
opimian same as page 6 october 2011
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Celebrate Tony Aspler, a member of the Order of Canada, has been writing about wine since 1975. He has authored 16 books on wine and food. Tony co-founded the charitable foundation Grapes for Humanity. Tony’s book Tony Aspler’s Cellar Book is now available in stores.
An occasional wine and food writer, Peter Gill has lectured & taught wine courses and is also a former Ontario Wine Taster of the Year. He currently lives in Niagara but loves to visit wine regions other than his own.
From the farmer’s field to the dining table, Joanne Will writes about the people and issues connected to the journey of food. She recently co-wrote The Tyee’s 100-Mile Diet inspired Eat Your History series, and contributed to their new book Harvested Here: Delicious Thinking about Local Food. In addition to Tidings, she writes a weekly column for the Globe and Mail. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
our 300th issue
the december 2011/january 2012 issue is our 300th — a milestone in Canadian magazine publishing. we are celebrating by creating a multi-page supplement chronicling some of the best winery visits in the world.
tidings would like to thank these sponsors for helping us mark our 300th issue.
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Next Month In Tidings celebrating our 300th issue Death of the wine critic Eat, Drink, live: barolo Exclusive interview with winelover Geddy Lee from the band rush
Michael Pinkus is the head-writer and Grape Guy behind OntarioWineReview.com, publishing a bi-weekly newsletter full of informative reviews and articles about the Ontario wine scene. He is known for giving fun interactive seminars at a variety of events. Most recently Michael placed 4th in the 2008 Wine Tasting Challenge (Professional Category) held annually in Toronto; received the prestigious Promoting the Promoters — Media Award at Cuvée 2010, and is currently the President of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada.
Extensive port wine tasting Cooking with leftovers dreams of burgundy Last minute gift ideas for gourmets ... And So Much More
//from the editors November Issue # 299
5 annual Mav wine and spirits awards th
we’re not getting old by tony aspler
Aldo Parise email@example.com
When I was invited to write this editorial leading to the 300th edition of Tidings, my mind went back to my first written efforts for the magazine nearly 30 years ago. Anniversaries will do that. A lot of wine has crossed my palate in those years and most of it — as a wine writer — has been spat out. Inevitably, it is the older wines one remembers most. My wine-importer friend Steven Trenholme’s philosophy is that his body is a solera and he will put nothing into it older than he is. Although I have learned not to venerate wines just because they’re old, there is a certain thrill in opening a bottle that predates you, and even more so a wine from the year of your birth. Even if you were born in a lousy vintage as I was (1939). My most memorable wine pre-dates my association with Tidings and goes back to my days in London in the early 1970s. I used to visit the Christie’s auctions with an American friend who was on sabbatical there. On one occasion he bid successfully for six bottles of Château Lafite-Rothschild 1865 and paid the ridiculously low price of £110 for the lot. I bought one bottle off him and determined to open it on my birthday. Knowing what would happen to such an ancient wine when the cork was pulled I invited five friends to join me. The cork came out perfectly and immediately a bouquet of raspberries and tobacco emanated from the bottle. The colour was a pale pink, rather like a Provence rosé. The flavour was amazingly fresh and vital, still retaining its sweetness. At least it did for the first twenty minutes, and then as the air got to it, it turned brown and tasted like balsamic vinegar. Trying to capture that experience in print I described it this way: a beautiful old dowager, dressed in her best gown and wearing a tiara, entered the room on crutches, gave the company a dazzling smile and then dropped dead. Which I suppose gives new meaning to the phrase “drop dead gorgeous.”
Gurvinder Bhatia, Tod Stewart Contributing food Editor
Nancy Johnson Contributing Lifestyle Editor
Rosemary Mantini Columnists
Tony Aspler, Peter Rockwell, Michael Volpatt, Joanne Will, Sheila Swerling-Puritt, Gilles Bois, Peter Gill Contributors
Jonathan Smithe, Rick VanSickle, Sean Wood, Harry Hertscheg, Evan Saviolidis, Gilles Bois, Michael Pinkus, Matthew Sullivan, Carolyn Evans-Hammond Tasters
Tony Aspler, Rick VanSickle, Evan Saviolidis, Gilles Bois, Harry Hertscheg, Sean Wood, Jonathan Smithe and Gurvinder Bhatia COPY DESK
Lee Springer, Jennifer Croll web editor
Rosemary Mantini Creative by Paris Associates Art Direction
Aldo Parise Production
ww+Labs, cmyk design, studio karibü, Kat Morgenroth Illustrations & Photography
Matt Daley, Francesco Gallé, Push/Stop Studio, august photography, Kat Morgenroth Cover Design
8 // November 2011
editorial photo: Nathan Saliwonchyk
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self made. Sir Richard Branson Founder of Virgin Group.
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THERE IS A MOMENT WHEN IMAGINATION BECOMES INNOVATION. Perhaps no one captures this moment more often than Sir Richard Branson. Of course, this
doesn’t happen by chance. It happens because he pursues vision. Relentlessly. That is why he wears Bulova Accutron. The timepiece that reinvents accuracy time and again.
Bulova Accutron: Innovation never rests. Sir Richard Branson’s proceeds from the photo shoot were donated to Virgin Unite, Virgin’s non-profit foundation. www.virginunite.com
Union wine to come
Kylix Media CFO
Lucy Rodrigues Circulation
Marilyn Barter firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Representation Dovetail Communications
National Account Executive Jacquie Rankin: email@example.com 9 05-886-6640 ext 304 Account Manager Dave Chauvin: firstname.lastname@example.org 905-886-6640 ext. 323 www.tidingsmag.com www.tidingseats.com Now in our 38 th year Kylix Media, 5165 Sherbrooke St. West, Suite 414, Montreal, Quebec, H4A 1T6, Tel: 514.481.6606, Fax: 514.481.9699. Subscription Rates: Canada: $36 per year, $58 per 2 years, USA: $55 per year, Other: $75 per year. Single Copies: $5.95. Tidings, Canada’s Food & Wine Magazine, a registered trademark of Kylix Media, is published 8 times a year: (February/March, April, May/June, July/August, September, October, November, December/January). Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher. © 2011 Kylix Media Inc. Printed in Canada. ISSN-0228-6157. Publications Mail Registration No. 40063855. Member of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
Tidings uses 10% post-consumer recycled fibres
We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund (CPF) for our publishing activities.
Joanne Will hit the nail on the head in “Grandma’s Kitchen”. There’s something truly special about how my mom and grandmother cook. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they just didn’t eat out as much as I do today. They had to cook every meal, and every special occasion centred around the food they made. Not only is love a key ingredient, but practice really does make perfect.
... Food is such a basic necessity, but these Maverick chefs show how to make it amazing no matter what ...
Will Zench, email
The whole concept of second wines (“2ème” Roger Torriero) was new to me. I’ve since had a few opportunities to try some, and I was quite impressed. I love the idea that I can pick up great wine at a fraction of the cost of grand vin. I feel like I’ve been let in on a secret! Thanks for the great tip. T. Kristin, email
Rick VanSickle’s “Careful Planning” comes at the right time. We’re in the midst of planning a trip out to BC for the summer. I didn’t realize so many of the wineries were so far apart. As a result, we’ve had to modify our itinerary. Louise D’Anatto, Winnipeg
I find reading about all the different chefs (“Maverick Chefs”, Rosemary Mantini) to be very inspiring. So many of them have come from hardship with only their passion for cooking to pull them through. Food is such a basic necessity, but these chefs show how to make it amazing no matter what. Love it! Roger Seria, email
Material chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and fit. Please e-mail your comments and questions to email@example.com.
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by michael volpatt
//the new cupcake
It has recently come to my attention that the biscuit is the new cupcake. At first I was a little taken aback by this notion and shunned any thought of the biscuit replacing the sweet popularity that the cupcake has earned over the last few years. But ... move over cupcakes, because there are so many sweet and savoury variations that can be done with the biscuit. A few weeks ago my good friend, and excellent baker, Sue called me into her kitchen. When I got there she had a huge smile on her face and was holding a spoon that was filled with her latest creation — Veggie Biscuit Potpie With Fontina and Reggiano Cheese. I tasted the biscuit and was floored by its lightness and burst of autumn flavours that danced in my mouth. Then I took a sip of Porter Bass 2008 Russian River Estate Chardonnay and another bite of the potpie and the flavour burst became an explosion. It was incredible. Sue would not part with her secret biscuit recipe, so I bought some biscuits from a local bakery. You can make your own for this recipe or you can buy some frozen dough at the market. There are a number of great brands that you can pull right from the freezer and pop in the oven. This is easy to make, but takes some time. So pour yourself a glass of that Chardonnay and enjoy the process.
You will need about 8 to 10 biscuits for this recipe. Chop them up and toss with 1 tbsp of paprika: 4 leeks (white parts only, cut in half and cleaned) 2 large sweet onions 15-20 garlic cloves 5 carrots, peeled
2 red or yellow peppers (chopped in half with seeds removed) 4 Roma tomatoes 2-3 long sprigs of fresh rosemary 5-6 fresh sage leaves 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/2 stick of butter 2 cups chicken broth 4 tbsp flour 2 cups of grated Fontina cheese 1 cup of Reggiano cheese
1. Heat the oven to 350˚F and place the veggies and herbs (except for the garlic) onto a roasting pan.
2. Using tin foil, create a pouch and place the garlic in the
pouch with a little bit of the olive oil. Place the pouch onto the pan as well. Drizzle the olive oil onto the veggies. 3. Roast the veggies and garlic for about 30 to 40 minutes and check periodically to avoid burning. Turn every once in a while. 4. Remove from oven, place the roasted veggies in a bowl and mix well. Make sure to mash the tomatoes to release the juice. Add kosher salt and black pepper to taste. 5. Melt the butter and add to the chicken broth. Slowly add the flour and combine well so that there are no lumps. 6. Let that mixture simmer until it is slightly thickened and begin adding the cheese. Add into the veggie mixture. 7. Cover the bottom of a 12-inch pie pan with the veggies, top and fully cover with biscuit chunks. 8. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350˚F until the top is golden brown.
by Joanne Will
When in England, whether or not you wish to do as the English do, taking afternoon tea is a must. It’s believed that the custom of drinking tea in the afternoon arrived in England in 1662 when the Portuguese Duchess Catherine of Braganza married Charles II. The Duchess of Bedford, however — a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria — is credited with the invention of afternoon tea with the inclusion of snacks and refreshments to fill the gap between lunch and an increasingly late dinner hour. To explore the afternoon tea tradition, you need look no further than Bettys Café Tea Rooms, in the northern English county of Yorkshire. Bettys was born when Frederick Belmont, a young Swiss confectioner, arrived in England early in the 20th century. With big dreams and a modest pocketbook, Belmont opened the first Bettys location in 1919 in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Today, the café in Harrogate is bustling, and the interior and exterior of the building have retained their early elegance. Visitors from every continent come to experience afternoon tea, and waiting in the queue is looked upon as simply part of the process. Bettys may have Swiss and Yorkshire roots, but the English influence has arguably won out, as evidenced in menu offerings from scones, clotted cream and jam to buttered Pikelets (a flattened, crunchy toasted variation on the crumpet), Welsh Rarebit, and Coronation Chicken sandwiches (for the uninitiated, Coronation Chicken is served cold, mixed with mayonnaise or cream, and flavoured with curry paste which provides a distinctly yellow hue).
14 // November 2011
The business is still in family hands, with a total of six café tearooms operating in Yorkshire today. If you’re lucky enough to visit Bettys in the city of York, a trip to see the 500 signatures of predominantly Canadian aircrew scratched into the mirror outside the loo is a must. When WWII raged, thousands of Canadian and American “Bomber Boys” were stationed near York, where the basement “Bettys Bar” became an enormously popular hangout. As a flying officer in the Canadian 425 Alouette Squadron, my grandfather was one of the young troops who danced the floor at Bettys Bar, along with his future bride, my grandmother, a Yorkshire lass who was proud to serve as a member of the Royal Army Pay Corps. Bettys is known for tea, but the proprietors also source the world for fine coffee, and offer up many varieties, from Jamaica Blue Mountain Peaberry and Brazil Recanto to Nepal Snow River. Bettys recently celebrated its 90th birthday, and shows no sign of slowing down. Its Cookery School was opened in 2001, to help impart Swiss and Yorkshire recipes and methods to home cooks, and aid in spreading the word on good food to school children. The family business is also on a mission to save an area of rainforest the size of Yorkshire. So far they’ve planted 3 million trees around the world. Oh, one more thing: rumours, stories and conjecture abound as to the origin of the name, but no one has ever revealed the true identity of Betty.
anything but Martinis
by sheila swerling-puritt
//least favourite month
Guacamole Cocktail For designated drivers. But on the other hand, as I’m serving, I will add 2 oz 100% blue agave Silver Tequila just before serving.
Apart from the birthdays of loved ones, November is my least favourite month and I suspect I’m not alone in that view. It gets chilly, with cool winds and grey days. Pretty well all the colourful autumn leaves have fallen, except for a few stragglers. I’ve survived a good number of Novembers, and here’s the secret of how I’ve done it: when a month is negative, I accentuate the positive. And there actually are some positives specific to this time of the year. The sun peeks out occasionally bringing light and warmth with it. The upcoming holidays brighten up the dullness of the month and for that the camaraderie itself is reason to give thanks. I like to build up to the mega-dinner and other weekend festivities with dinner parties and weekend brunches. November offers some culinary consolations. At this time of year delicious produce, sweet potatoes and squash come into the market, as do wonderful game birds. Comforting warm fare like risottos, curries and stick-to-your-ribs stews help you feel a little May in November. Most November sit-down meals should be accompanied by rich red wines like those made in Portugal or Mediterranean France. (Save the big Italian reds for the colder months to come.) Easing into the meal with a delicious cocktail is the logical way to start it off right.
Brandied Port 1 1
oz brandy oz tawny Port 1/2 oz maraschino liqueur 1 oz fresh lemon juice Combine all the ingredients with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange slice.
+ Visit tidingsmag.com/drinks/ for more drink recipes
1 Haas Avocado, diced 5 oz chilled tomato juice 2 oz fresh lime juice 1 small green chili, finely chopped (forget the seeds) 1 garlic clove, minced Salt and ground black pepper to taste Combine all the ingredients, except the garnish, in a blender. Blend until smooth. Chill mixture for 1 hour. Serve in a chilled Collins glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
Negus Punch Serves 10
1 bottle Ruby Port (750 ml) Zest of 1 whole lemon 8 sugar cubes 2 cinnamon sticks 1 whole nutmeg, crushed 5 whole cloves 1/2 tsp ground allspice 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice 2 cups boiling water Put lemon zest and sugar cubes in a large warmed pitcher. Add just enough water to dissolve the sugar. Add spices, lemon juice and wine. Stir well. Just before serving add 2 cups boiling water, stir well.
Cognac Sangaree 2 1/2 oz VSOP Cognac 1/2 tsp bar sugar Drop of water Freshly ground nutmeg Dissolve sugar with the water in a chilled old-fashioned glass. Add brandy, stir well, sprinkle with ground nutmeg, add ice cubes.
le maitre d full page to come
by Lesley Wild
LE MAITRE D’ & SOMMELIER
Purveyors of fine foods
This recipe is for Swiss Chocolate Hazelnut Cake is taken from A Year of Family Recipes by Lesley Wild, a member of the Bettys family (see page 14). It is a tribute to the Swiss in the family’s background. This cookbook is available through Bettys mail order service, at www.bettys.co.uk.
Swiss Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake Serves 10 to 12
The joy of this delicious, moist gluten-free cake is that it is really simple to make. Use the best-quality chocolate you can find — the higher the cocoa solids the better. Although very rich, it is not too sweet and will improve with keeping, so is best made a couple of days in advance. It also keeps for several weeks in the freezer. For a nut-free cake, replace the ground hazelnuts with plain white flour.
150 g best-quality plain dark chocolate, broken into pieces 2 tbsp water 125 g butter, cut into small pieces 6 large eggs, separated 180 g ground hazelnuts 1 tbsp Kirsch Pinch of salt 75 g caster sugar Icing sugar or cocoa powder for dusting
1. Line the base and sides of a 23cm round cake tin (preferably springform or
loose-bottomed) with baking parchment, using a little melted butter under the parchment to help it stay in place. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (gas mark 4). 2. Place the chocolate and water together in a fairly large, heavy-based saucepan and melt very gently over a low heat, stirring until smooth and amalgamated. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and egg yolks. Stir in the hazelnuts and Kirsch. Set aside to cool. 3. Beat the egg whites together with the salt in a large clean mixing bowl until they are fairly stiff. Gradually add the sugar whilst still beating until the mixture is thick and glossy. Gently fold into the chocolate mixture, one spoonful at a time taking care not to knock the air out of the egg whites. 4. Pour into the prepared cake tin and place in the preheated oven for approximately 40 to 45 minutes, until risen and firm to the touch. To check that it is ready, pierce the centre with a thin skewer – it should come out clean. Allow to stand for a few minutes in the cake tin, then remove and leave to cool on a cooling rack. …… To decorate, dust with either icing sugar or cocoa powder.
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by peter rockwell
//french intro & bored grapes
I want to get into French wines. Any suggestions on where I should start? So you’re the one interested in French wines. I thought you were an urban myth: like Bigfoot and finding someone named Kardashian with talent. The good news is there won’t be anyone in your way as you wade into the choppy waters that float the French wine industry. Most mainstream consumers bailed long ago: preferring the more quaffable (and cheaper) juice squeezed from grapes grown in South America, California and Australia. A guy who promotes the wines of France recently told me that he didn’t have to work too hard because the quality of French vin speaks for itself. Hello! I’ve walked down the French aisle of many a liquor store and have put my ear to the shelf. Know what I heard? Bubkes. That kind of arrogance seems to ooze out of far too many people and organizations connected to the French wine industry. And while the New World has risen to become the darling of a growing, younger wine audience; those that pick their fruit in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and (well, fill in any other French wine region you want here) seem to think the world still revolves around their output. So enough of the rant. Truth is, while much of what you read about French wines (that they’re super expensive and far too full bodied to drink) is written to intimidate a novice like you, most of France’s liquid personality is pretty reasonably priced when compared to the rest of what’s out there and surprisingly drinkable right out of the bottle But where to start? If you’re thinking reds then all roads lead to Beaujolais. Technically part of Burgundy, its Gamaybased versions are soft, fruity and chillable; making them the ideal entry-level reds whether you give a baguette about French wines or not.
18 // November 2011
Once you catch the mouthfeel of Beaujolais, work your way down to the Rhône Valley. The southern section makes oodles of smooth, Grenache-led easy drinkers while the northern part focuses on richer, Syrah-based wines. Somewhere in the middle is the perennially popular Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Both Burgundy and Bordeaux can be difficult geography to navigate so let vintage be your guide. Even a cheapo red will taste pretty decent if its grapes were harvested in a good year. What both regions do have to offer is a great selection of white wines, with Bordeaux being the home of Sauvignon Blanc and Burgundy ground zero for Chardonnay. I’m bored with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz. What’s a hip new red grape I can try? Poor baby, I hope the next few hundred words can keep your attention. While I’m sure many would argue that it’s way too old to be considered new, my first pick would be Tempranillo. Though the darling of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions, it’s grown all over the place including North and South America, South Africa, Australia and even New Zealand. I like its complexity of cedar, spice, cherry and tannin that has a flavour profile beginning at simple and fruity and working its way up to mature and complex. Monastrell is another Spaniard with an international profile (it also goes by the name Mourvèdre). Rich and riper than Tempranillo it makes for a mouthful of red wine goodness. If you’ve had enough of Malbec pour a glass of Bonarda: Argentina’s other grape variety. Not as spicy and big on the up-front fruit, Bonarda is a class ‘A’ barbecue wine and all around easy-drinker. Across the Andes in Chile, Carmenère is where it’s at. As a late harvester it can sometimes come across green, but done right it’s a berry burst of unique flavours that just isn’t done properly anywhere else.
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by michael pinkus
Heyday Gamay Noir is the Lindsay Lohan of grapes, beautiful yet misunderstood. The moment it tries to resurrect its career, something else stands in its way. Now, I’m not about to defend the antics of Ms. Lohan, but I will stand up for the seemingly lowly Gamay Noir. This grape has a proud yet checkered past. It was a red grape of Burgundy until the Pinot Noir enthusiasts banished Gamay to the Beaujolais region on the outskirts of Burgundy (it was Philip the Bold who, in 1395, outlawed the grape). Gamay hung out, biding its time until the 1970s, when the marketers of the region decided to create the buzz around Beaujolais Nouveau as the bellwether of French wine. This was the heyday for Gamay. On the third Thursday of November each year, people would flock to get their hands on their bottles of Nouveau — a sweet-fruit, unadulterated, quick-to-market, bubbly-gummy style. But this meteoric rise was followed by a crash. Beaujolais Nouveau became a calling card for the region and that’s all anyone could see. But if you get that out of your head, then Gamay can be something delicious and enthralling. “Gamay Noir is [now] taken seriously as it once was, centuries ago in Burgundy. And … today, on the
20 // November 2011
granite slopes in the elite “cru” of northern Beaujolais, it can most certainly be a very serious wine,” says Peter Bodnar Rod, from 13th Street Winery in Ontario. In cool climate Ontario, Gamay is a godsend, for those who do it right. “With controlled yields and careful treatment in the cellar, the grape is an amazing red for Niagara. It is disease resistant, winter hardy, and immediately gratifying in the glass ... people have really responded to it,” says Shiraz Mottiar, the winemaker at Malivoire. There are two wineries in Niagara that have staked their reputation on Gamay (both mentioned above). The reason, according to Bodnar Rod: “The small handful of producers who make it a star in their portfolio take it as seriously as any producer in France.” In some years other wineries have really made it a signature of their portfolio, and quite possibly, even if not acknowledged, the best grape of that year. “When well made, it exudes bright and boisterous berry fruit interlaced with damp earth, pepper and gamey notes. I love it lightly chilled, and it matches well with a surprisingly long list of foods
thanks to its ever present seam of acidity and ripe, sweet fruit character,” says Rod. Let’s take a look ...
Malivoire Alive Gamay 2010 ($17.95)
Earthy-raspberry aromas fill the nose, and follow onto the palate where a hint of cherry is added for extra depth.
Malivoire M2 Small Lot Gamay 2010 ($19.95)
This barrel selection Gamay is more intense than its Alive brother: earthyraspberry and cherry are the smells, while the palate tones back the earth in favour of the fruit component. Brighter, denser and fuller.
Malivoire Courtney Gamay 2010 (barrel sample, July 2011)
This single vineyard offering from Malivoire is their pinnacle Gamay, currently showing intense dark fruit, black cherry and vanilla; silky smooth on the palate. Release May 2012.
WineAcces-Final.pdf 1 11/05/2011 08:27:38 a.m.
13th Street Gamay Noir 2010 ($19.95)
Cherry perfumed nose leads the charge, while on the palate, there’s full-on red berries: cherry, raspberry and strawberry with a touch of earth to keep it grounded. Look also for some subtle spice. Fresh in the mouth.
13th Street Old Vines Gamay (barrel sample)
From approximately 30-year-old vines, the wine is developing into a richer, spicier and all out fruitier version than its counterpart. Exciting wine for Gamay fans. Due later in 2011.
Featherstone Gamay 2009 ($19.95)
Beautiful example of a well-made Gamay, bulging with fruit from the nose to the palate, yet showing enough acidity to keep it balanced and clean. Buy it in bulk, enjoy with a hint of a chill.
Vineland Oh Really Rosé 2010 ($12.75)
Very fruity, loaded with light cherry notes on the nose and palate. Quick finish for maximum quaffablility.
Cave Spring Gamay 2008 ($14.95)
The earth and sour cherry aromas suggest why Gamay used to be part of Burgundy vineyards; sour fruit follows onto the palate with cherry and raspberry tartness and hints of rhubarb in the mix.
Cave Spring Gamay Estate Bottled 2007 ($24.95)
Fruit roars out of the glass in the form of black cherry, raspberry and strawberry, filling both the nose and mouth, then adds cinnamon and spice to the mix with a nice length to the finish.
Angels Gate Gamay 2008 ($12.95)
The nose is cherry loaded, while the palate delivers a red berry bowl of flavour: cherry with a hint of raspberry, strawberry showing up just before the final swallow, turning to cherry with a long, lingering finish. Nice acidity keeps
everything clean and ready for the next sip. Chillable, sippable and so ready to enjoy. Criminally under-priced.
Cattail Creek Gamay 2008 ($15)
The nose is beautiful with ripe cherries, while the palate is also lightly coated with cherry flavour. This is an easy to drink, immensely quaffable wine of which only 50 per cent spent 3 months in older oak barrels, to better season the wine.
13th Street Sandstone Old Vines Gamay 2009 ($27.95)
Aged 10 months in French oak, mainly new with some 30-40% second use. The result is a weightier-meatier Gamay with good fruit character, yet with plenty of backbone; smokey and spicy raspberrystrawberry notes caress the tongue in this extremely well-made wine. C
Dominique Piron Cuvée Les Pierres Morgon 2009 ($22.95)
Holy black cherry, Batman! This is not your mama’s Beaujolais, with a mineral-earthy backbone that’s also got some smoky-vanilla and meatiness on the finish.
Custom Wine Cellars Since 1995
Domaine Piron-Lameloise Quartz Chenas 2009 ($22.95)
We’re starting to see more serious Beaujolais on this side of the pond, and here’s another fine example, with lots of mineral and black cherry; tannins are more robust than you expect from these wines.
Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorees Côte de Brouilly 2009 ($18.95)
Red cherry and raspberry, but not in a frou-frou kind of way. This is some serious stuff.
Sublime Vieilles Vignes Julienas 2009 ($17.95)
Black cherry galore, hints of violet and nice spice. Not the light, easy-drinking patio sipper many Beaujolais can be, this one has some real stuffing. Not sublime, but really darn good. •
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Douro 22 // November 2011
am a devoted fan of Port, especially the vintage type. There is something undeniably passion-provoking about the combination of power, sweetness and elegance of a 20plus year-old bottling. Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to participate in a tasting of VPs from throughout the 20th century, including the fabulous trio of 1928, ‘34 and ‘35. So, when my travels brought me, this past summer, to the breathtaking Douro valley, with its picturesque quintas (vineyards/farms) climbing the incredibly steep slopes, I was expecting to be blown away by my favourite fortified. Yes, there were truly some impressive Ports to be had, but to my surprise, the wines that intrigued me the most were the Douro DOC dry reds.
by evan saviolidis
Both Port and Douro wines are made from the same grapes. Over 100 are authorized. But after harvest, vinification diverges. Fermentation for Port wine generally transpires in a lagare — a low, granite (occasionally stainless steel) open-top trough. Grapes are either crushed underfoot or via mechanical paddles, which emulate the gentle treading of the tootsies. Port wines have only two to three days to acquire both colour and flavour via a fast and furious fermentation, before being hit with the aguardente (neutral brandy). The brandy eradicates the yeast, leaving natural sweetness and raising the alcohol level to 20 per cent. Aging then transpires in older barrels. Douro red wines follow standard red winemaking protocols — 8- to 12-day fermentations to dryness in stainless steel tanks or lagare, regular macerations, and then aging in new barrels. Even though the Douro has a long history of dry wine production, until recently the industry has concentrated primarily on Port. Thus, there was little ambition to produce world-class table wines. The breakthrough moment came in 1952, when after a visit to Bordeaux, Fernando Nicolau de Almeida, oenologist at Ferreira, decided to produce a premium dry red from indigenous grapes. His genius was Barca Velha. Initially, acceptance for this new style grew slowly. But by the early 1970s, a few more bottlings started to join the marketplace, and by the 1990s, the evolution was in full force. Another contributing factor to the rise of dry wines is the Quinta/Beneficio classification system. Every vineyard in the valley is rated from A to F. For Port, “A” is the best, benefitting from prime exposure, lower altitudes, better grapes (Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cao, and Tinta Barroca), age of vines, vigour, schist soils, and so on. “F” is the lowest grade with the fewest benefits. Each year, the Instituto do Vinho Douro e Porto (IVDP), the governing body over all things vinous, authorizes production levels of Port wine for each quinta. The amount authorized fluctuates, depending on the quality of the vintage and state of the market. This ensures there is never an excess of Port flooding the shelves, and that what is available is of quality.
“A” and “B” vineyards receive the largest piece of the pie, while the rest receive virtually none. What is not authorized as Port automatically becomes Douro wine. Financially, it makes sense to concentrate on premium table wines, and what is good for the proverbial goose is not necessarily ideal for the gander. Higher altitudes, cooler zones, less exposed areas, granite soils and a myriad of grapes make for excellent table wines. Depending on the year, over 50 per cent of the crop can be relegated to table wines. So does the industry’s future lie in Douro or Port wines? According to Manuel Lobo of Quinta do Crasto, “We believe that both industries have a future. Port, because the region is the only one in the world that can produce and declare the authentic version (the region was first demarcated in 1756); table wines, because the Douro wine region has a unique identity, what with the different amount of grape varieties and terroirs, which are a result of mountain viticulture.”
profile of cinnamon, cocoa, raspberries, cassis and damson plum. First-rate length and firm tannins ensure that this wine will age well over the next two decades.
91 Quinta do Crasto Reserva Old Vines 2008 ($36.50)
Sourced from 70-year-old vines, this blend comprises some 25 different grapes. The nose yields abundant crème de cassis, violets, barbecue spice and mocha fudge. The palate is ripe and emulates the nose, with an additional orange peel note. There is excellent length and firm tannins, which bodes well for aging. Hold it for a few years and drink it until 2020.
91 Casa Ferreirinha Quinta da Leda 2007 ($44)
Still extremely youthful-looking, the black/purple colour is the precursor to a bouquet of violets, spice, dark cherries, mint and dark fruits. Full body, superb length and solid tannins make for a wine that is drinkable now until 2025.
91 Brites Aguiar 2007 ($40)
A huge perfume of blueberries, blackberries, balsamic, mocha and violets flatters. The palate is extremely rich and powerful, with 15.5% alcohol and good tannin structure underneath the baby fat. The finish is long. Drink until 2020.
Charles Symington and Bruno Prats
Rupert Symington of Symington Family Estates, producer of Dow, Graham, and Warre adds, “It is very important to recognize that with its steep slopes and very low yields, the Douro can never be competitive with other regions of Portugal in terms of the cost of grapes. The only future for DOC from the region is in terms of delivering quality at a higher price, as it does with Port. What is required is a greater perception of the region as source of quality DOC wines that can be sold at a price equivalent to the least expensive Port (i.e., $15 or above). As with high unit production costs there is absolutely no future for the Douro as a cheap volume producer of wines.”
93 Brites Aguiar Bafarela 17 Gran Reserva 2009 ($15) If you love high octane, hearty, thick Zin or CNP, this is your drop of juice. At 17% alcohol, think of this as a dry Port. Super concentrated and rich, it just oozes copious amounts of blueberries, blackberries, mocha fudge and spice. The length just goes on and on. A self-gratifying wine if there was ever one!
92 Quinta do Vale Meão 2008 ($20)
This dark cherry/violet-tinged red is a blend of 55% Touriga Nacional, 30% Touriga Franca, 10% Tinta Roriz and 5% Barroca. Full bodied, it offers impressive concentration as well as a
24 // November 2011
Dominic Morris, Manuel Lobo, Tomás Roquette from crasto
90 Prats & Symington Chryseia 2008 ($70.50)
This wine is a partnership between Bruno Prats, formerly of Cos d’Estournel, and Rupert Symington of the Symington Family. It is a hearty offering that serves up barbecue spice, smoke, plums, raspberries and liquorice. Full bodied, there is excellent length, with some hard tannins appearing at the end. Pair it with braised lamb shanks in a rosemary tomato sauce.
89 Niepoort Batuta 2008 ($105)
Batuta is made from an ensemble of Douro grapes, the primary one being Tinta Amarela. It is wall-to-wall damson plums, spice, dark cherries, raspberries and vanilla. It finishes fresh, with very good length and an herbaceous note.
bodied, the inky black/purple colour leads into a dark fruittinged offering that is accented by herbs and cedar, orange peel, spice and violets. The aftertaste is persistent.
87 Real Companhia Velha Evel Tinto 2007 ($14.95)
This modern-style Douro shows a good deal of upfront black and red fruits, all built on a medium bodied frame. Tannins and acid are all in check. Medium in length, it is well suited for grilled chorizo or Italian fennel sausage.
86 Flor de Crasto 2009 ($9.95)
This blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca is an opaque red that is chock full of spice, black raspberries, dark cherries and floral aromas and flavours. It is light-to-medium bodied with a smooth texture, or, in other words, a perfect barbecue wine.
88 Quinta de Ventozelo Reserva ($22.95)
Huge vanilla, plum, smoke, cocoa and dark cherries soar out of the glass. Supple tannins and very good length make for a wine that is accessible right now, but can still age another 5 years.
Dirk van der Niepoort
88 Quinta do Vallado Reserva 2008 ($38.75)
This opaque wine showcases a huge menthol and dark cherry nose, with hints of raspberries and liquorice. The palate unfurls the cassis, menthol, herbs and liquorice. It is a gutsy offering that requires some rich meat to tame the tannins, so my suggestion would be to enjoy it with suckling pig.
88 Prats & Symington Post Scriptum de Chryseia 2009 ($27.95)
Post Scriptum is the second wine from Chryseia. That being said, quality-wise, there is nothing second rate about it. Medium
86 Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas 2008 ($17.95)
The intense nose of cassis bush and tobacco opens the door to a midweight wine with a peppery palate. Fresh acid and supple tannins round out the experience.
85 Symington Altano 2009 ($12.99)
Here is a smooth and easy-drinking red, gifted with violets, crème de cassis and herbs. A medium length wine, it is ready to drink. •
by rick vansickle
anced whites were sold as Rieslings, even when they often weren’t Rieslings (today, that is not the case with gorgeous, balanced wines emerging from Germany). Consumers grew to despise anything that was white and sold in a tall, skinny bottle. Riesling went into a dark period where it was shunned and relegated to the cheap seats of the wine world. It would take a generation, and the foresight of a few good pioneers, to restore Riesling to its rightful perch at the top of the wine world pecking order. One such visionary was Hermann Weis, of the famous German estate Weingut St. Urbans-Hof from the Mosel. He saw the potential for Riesling in Canada, and decided to start a nursery in Niagara in the mid-1970s. He sold vines, now called the Weis 21 clone, to wineries from coast to coast, but was unhappy with the results because winemakers were blending his Riesling with the native grapes and hybrids of the time to make inferior wines. He resolved to plant his own vineyards on the Twenty Mile Bench, started his own winery called Vineland Estates (run
it is so simple. Grow, pick, crush, ferment, bottle it — and the very best part of all, drink it. No other grape variety can match the pure perfection of Riesling. It is a natural beauty that needs no extra glam, no trinkets or baubles, and certainly no masking agents to fully express itself. It’s easy to grow, and doesn’t need a whole lot of coddling in the vineyard or the winemaking process. And, well, it’s awesomely delicious right out of the bottle, or left to age gracefully as it sheds the tautness of youth. All Riesling needs to be the perfect dinner companion, or that foil for a hot summer’s day, is a nice place to grow. The soil is everything for this noblest of grapes. It likes to let its roots search down deep for nourishment in hard clay and limestone, and mineral rich soils, and will reward with nuances reminiscent of a babbling brook: that wet stone mineral taste that can also display notes of slate, flint and even petrol, as the wine ages. And, oh my, the flavours — from juicy citrus to peaches and tropical fruit, all delivered in a highly refreshing style due to the electrifying natural acidity that defines this variety. It is what makes it such a versatile and food-loving wine. Riesling is everything all the other grapes want to be. But it hasn’t always enjoyed the popularity it does today, despite a history that dates back to 1435 in Germany. It has been on a roller coaster ride since then, but Riesling’s most traumatic setback came during the “Liebfraumilch” period in the 1970s, during which Germany created a lucrative market in North America for cheap, sweet white wines. Those overly, unnaturally sweet and unbal-
26 // November 2011
94 Thirty Bench Small Lot Steel Post Riesling 2010, Niagara ($30)
An abundance of lime, peach and minerals on the nose. The palate reveals a sensational package of citrus, stone and tropical fruits that come at you in waves, with wonderful added wet stone minerality in a balanced approach. Will age 10 years or more.
91 Schloss Schonborn Riesling Kabinett, Germany ($19)
What a nose on this lovely Kabinett from the Rheingau. Smells just like a peach orchard in summer, with added white flowers, citrus and minerals. In the mouth, the flavours explode with juicy white peach, apple and racy acidity to balance it all out.
now by brothers Allan and Brian Schmidt as president and winemaker respectively), and the foundation for Riesling’s revival in Canada was born.
Today, most wine regions in the world make Riesling. But it truly performs best in the cooler climates of Germany, pockets of Australia such as the Clare Valley, Austria, Alsace, the Finger Lakes in New York State, and, of course, Canada, particularly in Niagara and with some success in the Okanagan Valley and Prince Edward County. Niagara hosted the 2011 Riesling Experience this summer, billed as an international celebration of style, structure and purity. Riesling producers from New York, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Ontario and Alsace came to Niagara to share and compare their styles of Riesling. It was winemaker Pierre Trimbach, of the historic Alsatian family that has been making wine in northeastern France since 1626, who engaged the audience with his knowledge of Riesling.
Domaine F.E. Trimbach is a family-run winery based in Ribeauville, Alsace, that has been making wine for 12 generations. About half of the production at the winery, 568,000 bottles annually, is Riesling. The family knows a thing or two about this grape, how to grow it and how to coax the coveted minerality out of each bottle. The secret to great Riesling, Trimbach said, can best be summed up this way: “First is balance. Second is balance. Third is balance. And the rest is blah, blah, blah. The key is not too much of this, and not too much of that.” On the topic of petrol, which is a descriptor many use for the aroma of Riesling as it ages, Trimbach said he doesn’t like the term now because it’s taken on negative connotations. “We don’t talk about petrol (in young wines), we talk about reduction,” he said. The lovely petrol-like aromas that emerge in older Rieslings, he added, after a minimum of five years in bottle, are actually minerality that evolves in the bottle.
While Riesling plantings in Canada are widespread, from the Okanagan Valley in BC to Prince Edward County and Lake Erie North Shore, it is in Niagara where they perform best. The Okanagan Valley has some notable Riesling producers, such as the Gehringer Brothers, who craft region-defining wines on the Golden Mile near the town of Oliver, and Sperling Vineyards, a relatively new producer from a pioneering grape-growing family, and rising star Tantalus Vineyards in Kelowna. But it would be hard to portray the Okanagan as a great Riesling producer. There just isn’t enough of it planted in the right Walter Bibo places at this point in time. In Niagara, it’s a different story. Nearly 19 per cent of all vineyard acreage in Niagara is planted to Riesling, second only to Chardonnay for Another Rheingau Kabinett that shows more mineral on the nose with most-planted grape. The interesting wet stone, green apples, white peach and some tropical fruit notes. Displays thing about Riesling in Niagara, and a full range of juicy fruits on the palate, from melon to quince and apple, why it’s so popular, is its ease of growing with balancing acidity and minerals that will be more pronounced with time. it in nearly every appellation. You can find interesting Rieslings for as little as $10 a bottle, and it’s widely produced. It doesn’t suffer from a “poor” vintage like other varieties. duction of distinctive single-vineyard Rieslings. Vineland, But, there is no question that the finest examples of along with Cave Springs and Henry of Pelham, realized in Riesling in Niagara come from the wave of “single-vine- the mid-1990s that they had something special with Bench yard” wines being produced from the Niagara Escarp- Riesling, and set out to market the wines with that in mind. ment Bench vineyards, and, to a lesser extent, in pockets “We all believed that Riesling could be a signature for us,” of Niagara-on-the-Lake. said Schmidt. “We wanted to showcase what was happening Brian Schmidt, winemaker at Vineland Estates, has on our property.” For Vineland Estates, it started with the St. played a large role in defining “Bench” Riesling and estab- Urban Vineyard, a 45-acre parcel of Riesling goodness that lishing what is now common practice in Niagara — the pro- sits on hardpan clay on top of mineral-rich limestone.
90 Schloss Reinhartshausen Hattenheimer Wisselbrunnen Riesling Kabinett 2009, Germany ($18)
92 Flat Rock Cellars Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling 2010, Niagara ($20)
This is one of Niagara’s defining Rieslings. It’s already showing classic aromas on the nose — grapefruit, lime, citrus and melon fruits with a gorgeous mineral note through the core. It’s more opulent than previous vintages, but maintains firm acidity in the mouth and juicy citrus flavours.
28 // November 2011
“It has so much to do with soil,” said Schmidt. “Once we’re in the cellar it’s just unbelievably simple. All I am is a conduit to the vineyard.” At a recent tasting of 31 single-vineyard Rieslings at Henry of Pelham Winery, mostly from Niagara but also Alsace, Prince Edward County and Australia, it was thrilling to taste the differences in the wines from appellation to appellation, and even vineyard to vineyard. The best of the bottles showed that wonderful minerality and natural acid balance that makes Niagara Riesling so interesting and delicious.
The wines held up well to Trimbach’s best examples from Alsace and the famous Grosset from the Clare Valley in Australia. The style of Riesling in Niagara runs the gamut from dry to sweet, but the best display a playful tug between sweet and tart citrus fruits with racy acidity for balance and underlying wet-stone minerality. Oh yes, Riesling is here to stay in Niagara and in Canada. It just may be the greatest grape variety Canada has to offer to the world. But, of course, that’s up for debate.
91 Vineland estates St. urban Vineyard Riesling 2010, Niagara ($20)
This Riesling from the iconic St Urban vineyard is highly aromatic with tropical fruits, peach and minerality. It’s so lovely on the palate, with fresh sweet-tart fruit notes and rich, layered flavours on a bed of minerality. Buy, drink and tuck some away in the cellar.
93 Hidden Bench Roman’s Block Riesling 2009, Niagara ($35)
From a classic and historic vineyard, the Roman’s Block Riesling shows a unique, riverbed minerality on the nose to go with lime, grapefruit and some tropical fruits. It’s layered in the mouth with gorgeous citrus, minerals and tangy-ripe tension through the finish. Cellar for 5 years or more.
92 Cave Spring CSV Riesling 2008, Niagara ($30)
This wine is still tightly wound, but shows exotic tropical fruit aromas to go with profound talc and mineral notes. In the mouth it displays white peach, grapefruit, tropical and apple fruits that are playfully sweet and tart in the mouth.
91 Trimbach Riesling Reserve 2009, Alsace ($28) 91 Sperling Vineyards Old Vines Riesling 2009, Okanagan ($29)
The nose is replete in lime, peach, flinty minerality and a hint of petrol. It’s made with 10.5% alcohol and explodes with flavour on the palate. Mineral, tart citrus, quince, grapefruit and bracing acidity that suggests a youthful wine that will evolve for years to come.
93 Tantalus old Vines Riesling 2008, okanagan ($30)
91 Hillebrand Showcase Ghost Creek Riesling 2010, Niagara ($25) Lovely aromatics of grapefruit, wild honey, citrus, orchard fruits and a distinctive core of wet stone minerality. It’s finished at a light 8% alcohol in an offdry style, but shows its fruit brilliantly on the palate with just enough zest to make the mouth water for more.
A fine example of Okanagan Riesling with a nose of lemon-lime, peach, lanolin and stony minerality. It’s tart and fresh on the palate, made in a dry austere style, with defining minerals to go with a core of citrus fruit. Will age beautifully, or drink now.
88 Karlo estate Riesling 2010, Prince edward County ($22)
92 Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Riesling 2009, Niagara ($35)
A truly remarkable and unique expression of the Vinemount Ridge sub-appellation. A juicy core of highly extracted fruit on the nose, with an underlying bead of minerality. It’s fleshy yet vibrant on the palate, with layers of sweet citrus fruits, quince and wet stone minerality. Buy and hold for 5 years. richard karlo
30 // November 2011
A very young Alsatian wine (these Rieslings can age for 15 years or more) with a nose of green apple, quince, citrus and a hint of minerality. It shows steely firmness on the palate with wet stone, smoky apple-lime flavours and a crisp, clean finish.
A nose of flint, pear, citrus and marmalade with just a hint of honey. Juicy and fleshy on the palate, with ripe citrus-lime fruits and lovely minerality. •
at the heart of sicilyâ€™s homegrown varietals by sean wood
Sicily’s nine major wine regions cover just about every part of the island, and good wine is made in all of them. Conditions vary quite dramatically, though; they range from the mountainous and somewhat cooler Palermo region in the northwest to the warmer, lower-lying environs of Ragusa and Siracusa in the southeast. Diverse soils, topography and rainfall often help to produce quite different expressions from the same grape varieties. Many international grapes thrive in Sicily’s benign conditions, and it was Sicily’s success with well-known classic varieties that put modern Sicilian winemaking on the map. Latterly, a growing number of fine indigenous varieties are restoring themselves to their rightful place. Sicily’s new wave winemakers are enjoying remarkable success with a dazzling array of blends, using both local and international varieties — and there is no shortage of fine single-grape wines.
let’s talk indigenous
The best-known Sicilian red, Nero d’Avola, is named after the town of Avola in the warmer Syracusa region. In nearby Vittorio, Ragusa Province, Nero d’Avola provides the backbone for Sicily’s only DOCG thus far, Cerasuolo di Vittorio. The grape has good body and aging potential. It can also be made in an undemanding, easy-drinking style, and has adapted well when planted in many parts of Sicily. Nero d’Avola’s success with international consumers is paving the way for other stellar local grapes, such as Nerello Mascalese — which, together with Nerello Cappucio in support, provides the complexity and structure behind Mount Etna’s stunning reds. Frapatto, which is blended with Nero d’Avola in Cerasuolo di Vittorio DOCG, is showing that it can also shine as a single grape. So can Perricone, which has enough fine red fruit and structure to stand alone effectively.
32 // November 2011
shadow of the volcano
Amongst Sicily’s exciting regions, Etna is particularly compelling. Awe-inspiring Mount Etna, the largest mountain in Italy south of the Alps, is Europe’s most active volcano. Its fearsomely unpredictable eruptions have been recorded since 1500 BC. The worst was in 1669, destroying villages, burying part of the city of Catania and killing 15,000 people. As recently as January of this year, eruptions forced the closing of Catania airport, Sicily’s busiest. Why, one asks, would anyone live anywhere near the place? Astonishingly, locals carry on almost as though the ever-present danger is negligible. Etna is currently Sicily’s most vibrant wine region, producing red wines of startling finesse as well as some quite impressive whites. Today, all eyes are on the region, and many wine producers are scrambling for a piece of the action. I visited Etna on a cool day in March, which became significantly cooler as the altitude increased. Swirling mists largely obscured the snow-capped peak, punctuated by periodic bursts of sunlight. Traversing the mountain slopes, one frequently comes across wide patches of solidified lava, sometimes frighteningly close to occupied farmhouses. The hazards of living in close proximity to the volcano are all too clear. Etna’s danger, however, also provides a rich compensation. The volcanic soils are incredibly fertile. Tenuta Terre Nere is one of the acknowledged stars of the region. Terre Nere is the brainchild of American-born Marco de Grazia, who has spent much of his time in Italy. De Grazia became extraordinarily successful as a wine broker, introducing numerous selections of fine Italian wines to the American mar-
ket. He has been greatly influenced by Burgundy, and has brought Burgundian concepts to this Etna venture, which was initiated in 2002. As Calogero Statella, Terre Nere’s able young winemaker explained, the winery has several estate vineyards at different elevations, with correspondingly different soils and microclimates. The best grapes from each are produced as single vineyard selections, which de Grazia compares to Burgundian Crus. While the soils are all volcanic, they result from separate eruptions that have broken down differently over time. While there, we tasted barrel samples from two vintages from the Guardiola and Santo Spirito vineyards. Even though vinification and handling were the same, stylistic differences imparted by the terroir were clearly apparent. The outstanding Guardiolo 2009 was aristocratically austere, and did indeed show Burgundian-style finesse, quite unlike anything else I tasted in Sicily. Terre Nere’s two other top red wine vineyards are Fuedo di Mezzo and Calderara Soltana. Terre Nere’s Etna Rosso DOC is equivalent to a Burgundian “Village” appellation. Statella stated emphatically, “Etna is not Sicily.” Without detracting in any way from the amazing qualities of other Sicilian wine regions, once you have experienced the uniqueness of Etna, it is impossible to misunderstand what he means.
89 Tenuta delle Terre Nere 2009, Etna Rosso DOC ($29.99) Etna’s star red grape is Nerello Mascalese, with Nerello Cappuccio playing a small supporting role. This example is quite refined and harmoniously developed on the nose, revealing fine red fruit and spicy cinnamon notes. Not as forward on the palate, with firm tannins
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and fairly brisk acidity, cherry-like fruit, restrained oak and a subtle splash of white chocolate on the dry finish.
92 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Calderare Sottana 2009, Etna Rosso DOC ($59.99) Very elegant bouquet shows nuanced cherry, red currant and plum notes, with subtle hints of clove, cinnamon and a whiff of oak. Lusciously refined cherry fruit on the palate is partially masked by rather dense tannins, gradually evolving towards more velvety smoothness. Fruit and discreet supporting oak integrate well, but need more time to achieve optimum harmony. This complex, understated wine gives plenty of evidence for Etnaâ€™s potential as a great wine region.
89 Cottanera 2008, Etna Rosso DOC Nerello Mascalese & Nerello Cappucio ($15) Considerable complexity on the nose reveals tobacco, coffee, vanilla and clove over fragrant red fruit. Characteristic dark cherry comes to the fore on the palate with dark chocolate and striking gravelly mineral on the well-integrated finish. Better with 3 to 6 years in the cellar.
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88 Cottanera Lâ€™Ardenza Mondeuse 2009, IGT Sicily ($25)
Ripely perfumed dark fruit with notes of cinnamon, dried herb and tobacco backed up by very firm, but not quite brutal tannins with a splash of mocha that lingers on the otherwise puckery-dry finish.
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2/23/11 8:35 AM
91 Cos 2006, Cerasuolo di Vittorio Classico DOCG ($20)
Made from the requisite blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato, this is an excellent example of Sicily’s only DOCG wine showing quite developed berry fruit, a whiff of animal, light dusting of spice on the nose and a mixture of berry and red cherry fruit in the mouth. Tannins show some softening, with a splash of milk chocolate and light bitter cherry on the finish.
the fine sweet wines of pantelleria
No discussion of Sicilian wines would be complete without touching on the celebrated sweet wines. Once just about Sicily’s only claim to fame, Marsala’s fortified wines are now somewhat out of fashion, though certainly due for a comeback. Of the 23 DOC zones in Sicily, several are exclusively designated for sweet wines, mostly Moscato. Very good examples are Moscato di Noto, and Moscato di Siracusa in the southeast, but the most distinctive come from the small satellite island of Pantelleria, just off the coast of Tunisia. In Pantelleria’s constantly windswept volcanic terroir, Muscat of Alexandria, known locally as Zibibbo, produces the very fine Moscato di Pantelleria and Passito di Pantelleria. Nowhere else does this grape achieve the same degree of richness and complexity.
Donnafugata Kabir 2009, Moscato di Pantelleria IGP ($40)
Delicate scents of rose petal, honeyed citrus and a suggestion of lychee open the way for equally delicate honeyed citrus fruit freshness on the palate with just a touch of muskiness.
Donnafugata Ben Ryé 2008, Passito di Pantelleria DOC ($40/375 ml)
Made using both dried and fresh grapes harvested from south-facing vineyards close to sea level, and one month later, from cooler easterly-facing vineyards at higher elevations. Very complex floral, orange, lemon honey and subtle spice on the nose, and lightly syrupy, raisiny richness balanced by zesty acidity in the mouth. Great length on the intriguingly nutty finish.
34 // November 2011
90 Cos Lyre Nero d’Avola 2005, IGT Sicilia ($20)
Bouquet shows subtle vinosity, with a light dusting of fine spice and a refined dried fruit overtone. Harmoniously integrated fruit, spice and oak, and lightly dry tannins make for pleasant drinking now, but this wine will develop gracefully for 5-plus years.
89 Firriato Ribeca 2007, IGT Sicilia ($45)
100% indigenous Perricone with developed fine fruit, cinnamon and nutmeg aromatics and luscious red cherry flavour, firm dry tannins, milk chocolate. Astringently dry grip on the finish. Proves that this variety can do quite well on its own.
89 Alessandro di Camporeale Kaid Syrah 2008, IGT Sicilia ($18)
A good example of the distinctiveness that Sicily brings to this grape. Retains Syrah’s peppery spiciness and red fruit varietal character, but with unusual terroir-driven dark fruit and mineral notes that set it apart. Worth seeking out.
87 Planeta La Segreta Rosso, IGT Sicilia ($19.19)
A blend of Nero d’Avola with smaller amounts of international varieties, this agreeable red shows plum and blackberry flavours delivered in a ripe, forward style with a touch of spice, soft tannins and harmonious acid balance.
91 Planeta Burdese 2007, IGT Sicilia ($30)
An outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon/ Cabernet Franc blend that spends 14 months in barriques and another year in bottle before release. Elegant fleshy fruit, cinnamon, clove and a dusting of nutmeg on the nose moves to clearly varietal Cabernet black currant, green herbal and firm tannin in the mouth. Developing harmoniously towards velvet texture with a splash of dark chocolate on the finish.
88 Planeta Plumbago Nero d’Avola 2009, IGT Sicilia ($15)
This 100% Nero d’Avola grown in Planeta’s old Ulmo vineyard in Sambuca di Sicilia, Agrigento region, was a pioneering effort to produce Sicily’s best-known variety on the western side of the island. This, just the second vintage, is aged in stainless steel and neutral oak, making for pleasant early drinking. It shows notes of dark berry, plum and clove with cherry-like fruit and lightly firm tannins on the palate.
84 Serenata Nero d’Avola 2009, Sicilia IGT ($9.99)
Attractively spicy and dark berry scents with generously ripe blackberry flavour in the mouth. Supple tannins and well-balanced acidity lead into the well integrated spicy and fruity finish.
Giusto Occhipinti and Titta Cilia from Cos
89 Donnafugata Sedara 2008, IGT Sicilia Rosso ($19)
90 Baglio di Pianetto Carduni Petit Verdot 2007, IGT Sicilia ($50)
90 Planeta Syrah 2007, IGT Sicilia ($30)
85 Montalto Nero d’Avola Cabernet Sauvignon Sicily, IGT 2009 ($12)
Mostly Nero d’Avola, this moderately complex wines displays Mediterranean ripeness on the nose, with developed berry fruit, fig and a lick of spice. Smoothly rich dark fruit, supple tannins and some earthy minerality on mid-palate lead into well-integrated fruit, spice, and dark chocolate shavings on the finish.
Sourced entirely from two estate vineyards in the Agrigento region, this is a dark, brooding wine showing raspberry, blackberry, peppery spice and a pinch of herb. Full bodied, with great depth of fruit and firm tannic backbone, it finishes dry, with coffee, mocha and spicy notes. Ageworthy.
This is an extraordinarily powerful, concentrated and very tannic wine that was matured in Alliers oak for 14 months. It has all the fruit and structure to reward long aging. Offers convincing evidence that Petit Verdot is yet another variety that can excel in Sicily.
Restrained dark fruit on the nose with dark plum and berry flavours delivered in an attractively velvet texture with supple tannins and good natural acidity. Surprisingly polished style offering fine value for the money. •
Feudo Principi di Butera Insolia 2010, Sicilia IGT, Italy ($10)
This example, from a respected producer in the Caltanissetta region of south central Sicily, displays characteristic varietal aromatic grapefruit and mineral, though evolving on the palate to somewhat sweetish apple and citrus with banana, with gritty mineral on the finish. (SW)
Luigi Francoli Grappa del Piedmonte Moscato, Italy ($37)
A very fragrant/floral grappa owing to the aromatic nature of the Moscato grape. Still sporting some characteristic earthiness, with a distinct grapey note. Very viscous, round and silky in the mouth with a touch of sweet fruit to balance out the more typical rustic notes. (TS)
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The Mav Wine and Spirits Aw a r d s h ave a g r e a t tradition of being awarded to the most interesting assemblage and single varietal bottles to be released in recent years. This year brought us to the Old World and the resurgence of unique spirits from around the g lo b e. Coll ated a n d tasted by Tony Aspler, Evan Saviolidis, Tod Stewart, Sean Wood, and Jonathan Smithe.
MAVS Nikolahof Wachau Riesling Klausberg 2006, Wachau, Austria ($99.95)
Sourced from the slopes over the Danube, this concentrated wine is starting to mature nicely, adding a slight nutty tone to the peach, grapefruit, apple, petrol, citrus and honey. Dry and full bodied, there is great ripeness and superb length. It still has another decade ahead of it, at least. (ES)
Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Limited Edition, Alberta ($49)
Available in Canada only, the 100 per cent rye whiskey delivers nuances of vanilla, tangerine, fruitcake, spice and toffee along with snappy rye notes. Spice and vanilla reappear on the palate along with some charred wood and clove notes. Long and warm on the finish, it has some bite, without sharp edges. The 10 Year Old version offers a good fallback if this Limited Edition is hard to find. (TS)
Rubicon Estate Rubicon 2007, Rutherford, California, United States ($190)
Hart Brothers Littlemill 21 Year Old Sherry Cask, Scotland ($170) Independent bottlers like Hart Brothers are able to source individual lots of rare whiskey, sometimes from mothballed distilleries like Littlemill. One of (if not the) oldest distillery in Scotland, the product of this Lowland distillery is held in high regard by aficionados. This sherry-casked version is intensely aromatic with hints of cocoa, tobacco, dried apricot, sultana and crème brûlée. Evident woody flavours balanced by dried fruit, malt and cocoa powder notes. Warm and spicy all the way down. (TS)
scotch Ledaig 10 Year Old, Scotland ($67)
From the Tobermory distillery on the Isle of Mull comes this complex malt that manages to successfully combine the aggressive smoke/peat/brine notes characteristic of typical Islay scotches with honey, clove and anise undertones more at home in a Highland offering. Very well balanced with smoky/salty/ spicy flavours combined with some vanilla and coffee on the tail end. A unique and engaging whisky that’s reasonably priced to boot. (TS)
Seamless structure, serious concentration and resonating complexity. Blueberry, black cherry, blackcurrant, vanilla, violet, tobacco leaf. Still young. Age up to 15 years. (TA)
Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum, St Croix ($28)
Spiced rums are making a comeback and the Cruzan 9 (named after the nine spices in the blend) offers sweet vanilla top notes along with allspice, cloves, ginger and brown sugar, all without overpowering the essential rum flavours. Citrus, pepper and a hint of juniper round off the smooth, memorable finish. (TS)
The Botanist Islay Dry Gin, Scotland ($45)
Don Carranza Reposado Tequila “Grand Reserve Edition”, Mexico ($40) Vegetal, herbal and mildly peppery on the nose with some mineral/wet slate overtones. The slightly earthy flavours of this well-structured tequila are given a boost by a touch of fruitiness and a dash of cracked pepper. Smooth, round and silky; a classy tequila for sipping neat. (TS)
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A limited edition gin from Scotland’s Bruichladdich distillery on the isle of Islay. The raw spirit is infused with 31 individual botanicals, 22 of which were sourced from the island itself. Lemon zest, juniper, coriander, pine nettles, sea air and wildflowers all make a showing in the multifaceted aromatics. Very dry with moderate heat and spice, it is nonetheless clean, fresh and citrusy. Certainly not your average gin. (TS)
Laurent Jouffe VS Grand Champagne Cognac, France ($80) Behind the modern packaging lies a modern-styled cognac with a moderately intense nose of candied orange peel, plum, vanilla and caramel nuances. The style leans towards delicate and subtle with a good interplay between dried fruit, toffee and floral notes. (TS)
Trimbach Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives 2005, France ($59) No other wine region on earth makes better Gewürztraminer than Alsace. This sweet VT is a perfect example of the exotic aromas and flavours that can be coaxed from this perfumed variety. The nose shows highly extracted grapefruit, wild honey, lychee, nutmeg and musk. It’s unctuous and fleshy on the palate with concentrated sweet fruits and spices. Just add the foie gras. (ES)
Megalomaniac Narcissist Riesling 2009, Niagara ($17.95) I am very impressed with SueAnn Staff’s Rieslings from 2009, both from her namesake winery, as well as those she produced at Megalomaniac. Medium bodied, it is a wine with bright acidity, a touch of residual sugar and a profile of lime cordial, peach, honey and minerals. There is excellent length. (ES)
end of dinner
Fonseca Vintage Port 2009, Portugal ($100)
Dows 1970 Vintage Port, Portugal ($270) Although maturing, this Port is ready to drink. On the nose, the fruit is dry, and has an orange peel and nutty component. In the mouth, the fruit is more youthful, with a peppery edge chiming in on the superb finale. It should drink well for another 20 years. (ES)
Big, rich and full-bodied, the 2009 Fonseca possesses a saturated colour and a bouquet of crème de cassis, plums, raisins, spice, violets, dark cherries and earth. There is a long finish and 40plus years of longevity. (ES)
Croft Vintage Port 2009, Portugal ($75) I believe the Croft style offers accessibility and richness, and this is the best edition to date. Crème de cassis, plums, boysenberry and cocoa are all present. It is approachable now, but will only benefit from age. 30 years of life ahead. (ES)
Viña Tondonia Blanco 1989, Spain ($48) Lopez de Heredia is, sadly, the only Rioja-based winery (at least that we know of ) that continues to make this well-aged style of white wine. Asian spices combine with hints of candied lemon, marmalade, dried herbs and a hint of resin. Mouth-filling and rich, it manages to be at once complex and subtle with traces of oxidation and even a hint of tannin that gives way to a long, caramel-tinged send-off. A gloriously un-modern white wine that absolutely needs to be paired with paella or other traditional Spanish dishes. (TS)
Taylor Fladgate Scion, Portugal ($3500)
This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, at a once-in-a-lifetime price. In 2008, winemaker David Guimarens learned of the existence of two barrels of 1855 tawny port, which were part of a distinguished Douro family’s private reserve. In 2009, the last surviving female member passed away, with no children. Her heirs, many of whom were not related, decided to sell the two barrels to Taylor. In 2010, the wine was bottled, after having spent 155 years in cask. Incredibly, there are no faults, and the long hot aging process has concentrated the wine to an unbelievable depth and complexity. The dark walnut colour unfurls the red carpet in the form of cherry blossom chocolates, dried fruits, spice, liquorice, and dried flowers. The finish is über long with loads of caramel, nuts and spice, as well as great acidity, bordering slightly on VA. To further put the glory of this wine into perspective, it was made from prephylloxera vines in the same year the famous Bordeaux classification was conceived. (ES)
Valle dell’Acate Case Ibidini Insolia 2010, Sicilia IGT, Italy ($14) From the southwestern Ragusa province, this example shows a striking initial resemblance to an oaked Chardonnay, with buttery citrus and vanilla on the nose. Secondary scents of melon and creamy texture, contrasted with gritty bite and gently assertive acidity, are more typical of Insolia. (SW) •
by tod stewart
“Genius,” according to Thomas Edison, “is one per cent inspiration, 99 per cent perspiration.” To which I would suggest: add ice, shake well and serve with a twist of lemon, just to make the whole thing relevant to a story on beverages. I am fully aware of where the “perspiration” part originates. In my case, it often stems from a situation similar to the one I’m in now: being three weeks overdue on a deadline; forgetting I had a deadline, and just basically screwing up. Welcome to my world. Where that one per cent inspiration comes from, however, is trickier. But if it is the sine qua non of genius, I figure it’s a topic worth exploring, particularly if we are talking genius of the oenophilic variety. (Actually, if you ask any winemaker they’ll tell you, straightfaced, that winemaking genius is one per cent inspiration, 99 per cent beer.) As much as I often ponder what particular disorder “inspires” an otherwise sane individual to be a writer, I also wonder what possesses a person to attempt to eke out something vaguely resembling a living by making wine. I mean, it’s pretty much a truism that if you want to make a small fortune in the wine business you’d
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best start off with a large one. Dealing with the vagaries of nature, the temperamental attitude of vines (and wine writers) and the often-surreal demands of the marketing department could easily drive one to drink. But surely just buying the stuff is way easier than making it. Yet many, many people — a goodly percentage of which appear to not be bonkers (at least to start) — choose to pursue the “art” of winemaking. What inspires that choice and what, in turn, gives winemakers the inspiration to follow a certain direction? Perhaps it was a need for nutrition that inspired Jan van Riebeeck, the first governor of South Africa’s Cape Peninsula region, to plant a vineyard in 1655. After all, the Dutch East India Company established a station in the area to supply fresh foodstuffs to its merchant fleet as it sailed to India and beyond. And being Dutch (and probably a beer drinker), van Riebeeck wasn’t exactly raised in a family of vignerons, so it’s not like he was inspired to carry on a family tradition. But whatever the reason, he stuck to his guns, inspiring other (initially rather sceptical) farmers to take up the cause and plant vines. Though it certainly wasn’t part of
the original mandate handed down from his superiors, van Riebeeck’s inspiration led to the establishment of one of the world’s most important wine industries. Sticking with South Africa, it may be easier to see what inspired Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University, to develop a new grape variety in 1925. Perold reasoned (not unreasonably) that crossing a high quality, difficult-to-grow strain (Pinot Noir) with a more robust variety (Cinsaut) might result in a grape that combined the best qualities of both. The new baby — Pinotage — may not quite have turned out to be a more robust yet elegant Pinot Noir (detractors, of which there are many, might claim that this is the kind of nasty mutant you end up with when you fool with Mother Nature), but it did become to South Africa what Zinfandel is to California. Okay, well so much for history; what about South African winemakers today? What’s inspiring them, and what are they ultimately striving to achieve? Luckily for me, a gaggle of them alighted in Toronto this summer, and I was fortunate enough to raise a glass or two with a few.
the mediterranean muse and the beauty of the blend Name: Wilhelm Pienaar
Occupation: Winemaker – Red Winery: Nederberg Region: Paal Inspiration: ... “Winemaking is not just a job,” confesses Wilhelm Pienaar, “it is a passion and a lifestyle. And for me, the essence is to remain true to your intuitions while creating memorable wines that stand out for wine lovers.” Having joined the family in October 2009, Pienaar may be a relatively new addition to the Nederburg lineup, but he’s hardly new to wine. The son of a winemaker, he never really thought of following those footsteps. That changed, however, during a stint with a Danish wine-importing firm where exposure to some of the finest wines in the world sparked an interest that soon grew into a passion. For Pienaar, inspiration came to him via the southern edge of the northern wine-producing belt. “I am very fond of the Mediterranean basin and the wines that originate from there,” he reveals. “During my time in the south of France … I had a lot of exposure to wines from places like the Rhône, Rioja and Tuscany. But I also have a soft spot for Champagne, having made wines in this style for four years at the start of my career.” Much like Niël Groenewald of Bellingham Winery, Pienaar admits to seeing beauty in the blend and feels that as a winemaker, the art of blending widens his palette of possibilities. “We work with various varieties in the cellar and trying new blends is an ongoing process.” “Blending has become a positive trend,” he confirms. But he also notes that “traditional” blends (for example, those typically involving Bordeauxbased varieties) are giving way to those featuring less likely combinations, such as whites crafted from Chenin Blanc and Semillon, and reds crafted from a stew of Pinotage, Shiraz and Grenache. A believer in what he calls “small victories” — a particularly successful experiment in blending or realizing the potential of a yet untested variety — Pienaar sees achievements happening each day he works in the cellar. When asked where he sees himself in five years’ time, he simply replies, “Still crafting wines that create a positive and enduring memory for wine lovers.” The fruits of his labours will no doubt be ours to savour.
Name: Kevin Grant
Occupation: Winemaker/Proprietor Winery: Ataraxia Region: Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Inspiration: ... Considering Kevin Grant’s background, a career in winemaking seems unlikely. But as he explains, there are some definite realworld advantages to knowing what he knows. “I have an honours degree in animal behaviour, which, I have to tell you, does come in pretty handy in the last hour or so of any wine show.” In a classic case of a career becoming a hobby and a hobby becoming a career, Grant’s love of wine — particularly that made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir — led to a successful run as winemaker at several top South African estates, including the acclaimed Chardonnay/Pinot specialist Hamilton-Russell. He sums up his decision to have a go at it on his own (along with his wife and with the support of a few friends) thusly: “For anybody mildly ambitious, being a good jockey on someone else’s horse is okay, but it’s not the ultimate. Jockeying your own thoroughbred successfully is the prize.” And so, in 2004, Grant left his old stable to jockey his own thoroughbred — the Ataraxia winery. Though he studied winemaking in Australia, New Zealand and Oregon, it was Burgundy, France, that captured his heart and inspired his winemaking direction. “I like the ingrained lifestyle I encountered in Burgundy,” Grant explains. “I love how they integrate their lifestyle into their winemaking. It’s a part of everything you do there, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep.” Grant chose the Hemel-en-Aarde area of the Walker Bay appellation to bring his quest for Burgundian greatness to South Africa. An admitted terroiriste, he is a firm believer in the marriage of vine to soil, and feels his role as a winemaker is more akin to that of a guide who helps form the final expression of what nature has already laid the grounds for. “I’m always trying to get better at expressing terroir. I don’t want to enforce my own thumbprint. We are the custodians of very ancient soils, and what I’d like to get better at is expressing the dirt we have into the bottle. It’s easy to impose technological prowess — creating alchemy rather than translating what you have.”
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In fact, Grant believes the future success of the entire South African wine industry ultimately rests on a better understanding of which grapes should be planted where — and sticking with the combination once you’ve discovered it. “Not everything works everywhere,” he affirms. “There’s a growing realization that to up our game we have to understand the varietals that work best within the proper regions. If Cab isn’t going to work, you have to either change varieties or move.” As for the name Ataraxia: “It’s a term used to describe emotional tranquillity,” Grant explains, adding that it amounts to a freedom from disturbance that results in a balanced mind and constitutes the first step towards the achievement of pleasure. “It’s really about conveying the very essence of what drinking good wine does for us, and not to us, as human beings.” Now riding his own thoroughbred, Grant holds Ataraxia by the reins.
the lure of the loire, the grapes of rhône Name: Niël Groenewald
Occupation: Winemaker Winery: Bellingham Region: Franschhoek Valley Inspiration: ... “Keep it simple, let nature do its work, and never overpower fruit with wood,” says Bellingham winemaker Niël Groenewald, when asked to comment on what guides his winemaking philosophy. He cites a skilled agricultural teacher and a combined passion for art and chemistry as keys to unlocking a career in winemaking. And for inspiration? “I am very fond of two regions in France, he admits. “The Loire and the Rhône Valley. The styles of wine made in these regions have had an influence on my production techniques. I fell in love with Rhône varietals and Chenin Blanc.” In South Africa, Chenin Blanc was referred to as “Steen” up until the mid-1960s, when it was correctly identified. It is the most widely planted variety in South Africa, and, in the hands of someone as talented as Groenewald, it can scale impressive heights. “I am trying to show innovation, thinking out of the box and setting the benchmark for South African Chenin Blanc,” he states. “Ultimately I am striving towards complexity with a balance of elegance and texture on the palate. It is also very important for me to shift consumers’ impression of South African wines from cheap and cheerful, to wines with complexity and individuality at sustainable price points for both producer and consumer.” The fact that his efforts have twice garnered the title of “Best Chenin Blanc in the World” in the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) suggests that perhaps Groenewald knows what he’s doing. But his love of the Loire’s flagship grape is balanced by an equal reverence for the fruits of the Rhône. “I want to craft the ultimate South African blends of Rhône varietals, both red and white. I’m also looking forward to making the first Marsanne in the future, and am experimenting with co-fermenting Grenache Blanc and Shiraz as well as Roussane and Shiraz.” When all’s said and done, Groenewald ultimately sees himself as a spokesperson for South African wines: someone who can combine the technical knowledge of producing outstanding wines from this region with the analytical, market-based intelligence that will help build “brand South Africa.” Though they come from different backgrounds and have followed different paths leading into the world of winemaking, Groenewald, Pienaar and Grant all share a vision and a passion for creating memorable wines. All three would no doubt firmly consider themselves to be New World winemakers, so it is somewhat ironic — though very fortunate — that they found their inspiration in the Old. •
by Carolyn Evans-hammond
can you really get a decent bottle of wine for that price? While wine snobs with raised pinkies are buying, swirling and sniffing hard-to-find wines that cost two arms and a leg, the rest of Canada is just drinking wine. Inexpensive bottles. But is all cheap wine vile swill? It’s hard to tell when a disproportionate amount of wine criticism focuses on big-ticket, small-scale bottles in infinite detail. Frankly, one reason relatively little ink has been spilled on big brands is that there’s a stigma attached to acknowledging them. Among many wine critics and connoisseurs, they’re seen as less interesting. Too commercial. Too generic. Too industrial — as if quantity has an inverse relationship with quality, which of course it doesn’t. Single-note wines are made by big and small producers, but still this stigma persists. Among some wine critics, it’s even believed big brands are simply a means for driving shareholder value, leading to marketing that overpromises, and bottles that under-deliver. Though this is the case sometimes, it’s certainly not always true. It makes better business sense to do the opposite: use economies of scale to make wines that over-perform at each price point, and then promote awareness with honest marketing. Sure, big brands use economies of scale to muscle into the market, and it tugs at the heart to watch cold, hard market forces squeeze out smaller winemakers. With little money to toss toward marketing, merchandising and advertising, and without the quantities of wine or dollars needed to secure wide distribution, the little guy loses and the big guy wins — simple as that. It’s especially difficult for wine critics to watch this happen when we spend much time visiting smaller winemakers, seeing the dirt under their fingernails, feeling the passion behind their words, and appreciating their daily struggle with those gnarled vines to produce wines of beauty, place, and often pedigree. On some level, it’s hard not to fall in love with these producers when they charm you with their honest lifestyle, take you into their homes, make you food and court you with their most treasured wines.
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But the people behind the big brands work hard too, and their wines couldn’t be successful without consumer consent — without making bottles people like to drink, can find on the shelves, and count on for pleasure. Lower-priced big brands are there to turn to as reliable, go-to wines for Wednesday’s pasta, Friday’s hamburgers, or that upcoming wedding reception for 100 of your closest friends and family. Trouble is, with relatively little criticism focused on branded wines, it’s hard to know which bottles to buy — which was why I wrote Good Better Best Wines — the first book to rank bestselling wines by grape variety and price up to about $20. And it soared to bestseller within weeks of release. I’m happy to critique big brands. Just the same as any other wines, I taste them technically to assess quality — are they clean, balanced, and correct for their variety and style? Do they offer good value for the price? This doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a first growth Bordeaux or vintage Champagne, but there’s a time, place, and market for all categories of wine and to argue otherwise is snobbery. For this article, I tasted a broad range of wines to reveal the 25 best value bottles for those looking for an unpretentious, tasty, good value quaff. So here we go. All the bottles listed cost just under $10 and worth giving a try.
Fünf 5 Riesling 2009, Germany
Quiet candied lime peel aromas lead to an intense, tangy blast of mouth-filling lemon-lime sorbet. Medium-sweet but impeccably balanced with sharp acidity, so it finishes dry. Tantalizing and refreshing with serious fruit concentration. Fun stuff to drink on its own or with spicy fare. And at a light-bodied 9% alcohol, feel free to gulp. A great reminder of warm summer days.
Flipflop Pinot Grigio 2010, California, United States
Folonari Soave DOC 2009, Veneto, Italy What a find! This charming little Italian blend of 80% Garganega and 20% Trebbiano is gently reminiscent of lime, and cool, wet stones. A classic, elegant dry wine everyone will enjoy.
The floral and key lime aromas areÂ quite fetching. Then, a compelling charge of electric lime, white grapefruit and tart tangerine races across the palate with some sea salt and fresh herb underpinnings. Quite concentrated and complex for the price, with a medium body and 13% alcohol. Expect this newly launched wine to be a runaway success. Snap it up.
Sutter Home Family Vineyards White Zinfandel 2009, California, United States Gleaming silvery pink in the glass, the peach, orange, cantaloupe, and subtle strawberry flavours are delicate and off-dry with a good edge of incisive acidity.
Citra Pinot Grigio 2009, Sicily, Italy
This pale yellow wine with subtle green reflections starts with a captivating whiff of white peach and fresh blossoms before moving to a racy palate of lime zest and tart lemon sorbet. Taut acidity tones the fruit of this well-balanced wine, offering solid value from a traditional Italian producer. Medium-bodied.
Fazi Battaglia Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2009, Marche, Italy
Lemon sorbet aromas lead to a bright zip of marble-smooth, understated fruit followed by a final note of bitter almond. Well balanced, good value quaff. Light bodied.
Citra Trebbiano dâ€™Abruzzo 2009, Abruzzo, Italy
Nose of talcy minerals leads to a crisp, refreshing palate imbued with delicate pear and floral notes. The result is a tight harmony of aromas and flavours in this refreshing and beautifully balanced wine. Lighter side of medium-bodied.
Beringer White Zinfandel 2009, California, United States
Cheap, cheerful, and brimming with fresh ripe strawberry and peach flavours, this little number is off-dry and absurdly easy to drink.
Barefoot Merlot, California, United States
Aromas of homemade blueberry pie lead to a dry but full-on attack of sun-drenched black and red cherry, wild blueberry, raspberry and dark chocolate. Swings from cocktail alternative to versatile, mid-week food wine.
Trapiche Malbec 2009, Mendoza, Argentina
This vinous metaphor for black velvet cascades with a rich crush of concentrated damson plum and blackberries imbued with gentle vanilla and pepper spice. Firm ripe tannins on the
finish hold the palate tight through the berry-rich finish. Seriously underpriced wine with a grownup feel about it. Full bodied with 13.5% alcohol.
Carlo Rossi California Red, United States
As the best-selling wine in the US — labelled Carlo Rossi Burgundy south of the border — and the third best-selling red in Ontario today, this red in the iconic jug offers serious value for money. Think one big gulp of round, juicy red wine imbued with smooth berry notes. Good, honest table wine, even with its touch of sweetness.
Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2009, Abruzzo, Italy
Lush aromas of berries and plum lead to sweet-fruited black cherry and leather flavours with a soft, silky texture and fresh, palate-cleansing acidity. This stellar food wine finishes with peppercorn and a slightly bitter black olive note.
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Barefoot Zinfandel, California, United States
Tasted blind, you’d never guess it costs less than a tenner. For me, the bold attack is disarmingly appealing, but it’s the mouthfeel that’s most compelling. Think smooth black forest fruits nuanced with smoke and vanilla, then a little grip on the finish. Charming.
Aperitif/Fortified Wine Dubonnet Rouge, France
This blend of fortified wine, herbs and spice has been around for ages — since 1846, actually. And it’s still well loved. It starts with mixed berries on the nose and then attacks the palate with cherry, lemon zest, cardamom, red pepper, coffee, almond and the faintest hint of spearmint before tapering to a long orange oil finish. Quite complex and compelling. Love the polished mouthfeel. Full-bodied with 14.8% alcohol. Best served over ice with a big slice of lemon or as a cocktail with a bit of gin. •
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9/12/11 10:29:31 PM
by Gilles Bois
//did you know?
We rarely think of the East Coast when we talk of wines from the United States. Did you know that New York State has no less than nine official “viticultural areas” (VA) in five major regions, harbouring over 275 wineries? If the Finger Lakes is better known than the others for historical reasons, the most fascinating — and now emerging as a source of quality red and white wines — is the Long Island peninsula. Its North Fork VA is by far the most developed part, while the Hamptons VA, in the South Fork, hosts few but worthy producers. The more generic Long Island VA completes the picture. The region saw a rapid expansion of its vineyard in the mid-80s when the word spread that vitis vinifera grapes could grow successfully in the area, a more profitable enterprise than the traditional activity of selling potatoes. Today, the high cost of land is an obstacle to further expansion. Most vines are planted on flat land, but “this is not a problem since the soil has excellent drainage”, explains Richard Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Bedell Cellars. The climate is moderated by the surrounding water bodies and provides a long growing season, 220 days on average. Most growers I met were sensitive to the environment, and do their best to reduce the use of chemicals. Organic
viticulture is a tough path to take due to the rather humid weather, making vines prone to fungi and pest problems. The most committed are possibly the folks at Macari, and it shows in their wines, especially the whites: minerally and acidic, they have a lot of character and stand out from the rest. Since the beginning (about 35 years ago), winemakers here have been exploring their terroir, and a wide range of varieties are still being grown. Many growers agree that Merlot shows the best results, followed by Cabernet Franc, although “it is more capricious,” observes Kareem Massoud, winemaker at Paumanok. Even Pinot Noir can be found, in particular at Castello di Borghese, one of the oldest wineries in Long Island, where Marco Borghese’s wines show the most classical expression of each varietal’s character. Riesling can be surprisingly good, as witnessed during a mini-vertical tasting at Peconic Bay (they own the oldest Riesling in the region, planted in 1979). Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are also quite popular, and the latter is sometimes barrel-fermented. The Paumanok 2009 was a fine example, not as ripe as its Californian counterparts, but with great aging potential, as demonstrated by a 1995 pulled out from their library, still vibrant with freshness.
Why is it so difficult to find their wines here in Canada, while we are so close by? The answer is twofold. Firstly, quantities of any given wine are always small and the limited amount of land available puts a cap on the total production in each year. Secondly, New York City is only a couple of hours away. The Big Apple sucks up more than half of the production, either via merchants or restaurants. Another big chunk is sold directly at the winery, thanks to the hordes of visitors coming all year round, so many that the entire area is best avoided during summer weekends. Most wineries have a large tasting room (sometimes many), and quite a few feature live music bands, theatre plays or other crowd-luring activities. A rather unique concept in which wine is only one component of the experience.
The best way to discover these wines is, therefore, to visit Long Island. Too bad the limit on the number of bottles we can (legally) bring back is so low. •
No More Kitchen Nightmares
knock out cabinets
by Jonathan Smithe
new fridge update backsplash
Do you feel sad every time you walk into your kitchen? You’ve probably been thinking about it for a while. Whether you inherited a gourmet kitchen from the owners before you or had the whole thing reworked five short years ago, it doesn’t mean you are happy. In fact, if you ask most people, they’ll probably say they were thinking about renovating, but — and this is a big but — it seems like too much work. Now, there is some truth to the idea that renovating your kitchen (like any other part of your house) is a daunting task best left to an expert. Not many people will argue with me there. You can easily Google “kitchen design” and find a myriad of companies ready to drop everything to gut your home. Then there are the DIY havens, like Home Depot, Lowes and Reno Depot — not to mention kitchen mecca, Ikea — who have staff on hand to help you map out your dream kitchen. But you need to know what you want (appliances, colour schemes, and so on) before going in. Arriving with a few important design concepts in mind will help drum up some good ideas while drowning the bad (useless and expensive) ones.
48 // November 2011
Step #1 If you walk into a design centre with no ideas, you may be overtly influenced by what the store or consultant needs to get rid of. You wouldn’t do that when you buy a $30 bottle of wine; why would you do it when you are going to spend thousands? So, where do you start? First, figure out who cooks the most. I’d like to assume we all share the household tasks, but there is always one person who has planted their flag in the kitchen. If that’s you, take out a pen and paper. Write down all your wants and desires (don’t worry about cost yet, just jot down all your ideas). What is it you hate the most about your kitchen — appliance placement, cabinet colour, tiles? What have you seen at other people’s homes that you’ve liked? Now take out your camera and snap a picture of each wall of the kitchen. Try to take as wide of a shot as you can, so you can really scope out the current layout. Print the images and tape them to the wall. Now step back, examine the pictures and rework your list of wants. Then, take the room’s measurements and start to draw out a floor plan. Make sure to include design items that will take a lot of time and money — like your tile backsplash or range hood. You need to know your limitations in order to devise any changes to the layout.
Next, map out the space directly underneath your kitchen, as well as the walls the space is using. Are they interior walls that may be empty (allowing for pipes and wiring to be redirected)? Do you have access in the basement in order to install a drain and water inlet for that island sink you’ve always dreamed of?
Time to take out a pencil and paper: we’re about to map out your new kitchen. There are no set-in-stone rules on how to place your appliances and how much space to devote to counters. Well, there are and there aren’t. The key to good kitchen design is rooted in common sense. If you rarely chop up vegetables and serve up large culinary meals, then maximizing counter space is not a high priority. If all you do is prep, then adding some space, say through the addition of an island, may be just what you had in mind. Now that you know what you’ve got, and have a clear map of There is, though, one thing to where everything is, you need to keep in mind: how your kitchen think about what you would like will flow. This isn’t some feng to change. But change is subjecshui notion. There are three main tive. Some may see change as a areas of activity to every kitchen: NO SPACE FOR AN ISLAND? Create an splash of new paint, while othfood storage (refrigerator, panimpediment to foot traffic by placing a ers may look for an update in try), prep and cleaning (this is rolling cart in the middle of your kitchen. their appliances. And then there where the sink will be) and then It will give you more area for prep while are the “gutters” — those who cooking. The key to good flow is creating a tighter work triangle with your would like nothing better than to create a triangle of activity becooking space. to rip down every wall and start tween these three areas — food over again. Luckily you can do storage to prep to sink to prep that on paper, first. to cooking, and then back to the SET YOUR SMALL APPLIANCES ON But before you start mapping prep. This creates three lines of SHELVES — or in a cabinet if they out your new placements, you traffic that will allow you to work aren’t used that often — to help free need to think about your design more efficiently. up counter space. elements. You don’t need a deWith this in mind you can gree in interior design for this start drawing the lines in your part. It’s a simple proposition. existing kitchen. You may find Look around your kitchen, buy PLACE YOUR BUILT-IN OVENS SIDE your counter space too small besome design magazines, watch BY SIDE rather than one on top of side the sink (it should be a miniHGTV and plan visits to your another. This will keep both of them mum of 24 inches on one side and culinary buddy’s house. 18 inches on the other). Are the at the perfect height. Scout for one or two distinct dishwasher, sink and dinnerware elements that will help you destorage all within three feet of vise a clear plan of attack. It can each other? Do you have at least be a glass tile backsplash you’ve three feet of free counter space IDEAL DISTANCES: 4 to 7 feet between coveted for years, or something for your prep? These are some of your fridge and sink; 4 to 6 between the as simple as a selection of stainthe questions you’ll need to figure sink and cooking area; 4 to 9 between the less steel appliances — compaout before going to your choice of cooking area and your fridge. nies like Kitchenaid and Miele kitchen design centre. make appliance series with simiLest I leave you with a planlar design stylings. If you can’t ning headache, keep in mind that THE TOTAL OF ALL THE SIDES OF YOUR change your cabinets, there may very little needs to be done in orWORK TRIANGLE should be no more than be a paint that highlights the der to refresh your kitchen. Going 24 feet and no less than 12. room’s assets while creating an to the big box hardware stores will ambiance of country chic. provide you with a myriad of coThere are a lot of things you lours to brighten up your walls and can do. But deciding on one or cabinets. Changing the counters two elements will help you narrow down the decision noise can sometimes give the room the lift it needs. But if you decide to that comes with a lot of design projects. Those pre-made go for the full monty on your kitchen renovation, don’t be afraid choices will help facilitate the process once you get to the to rethink the room completely. It’s relatively easy to move your stores or design centres, saving you time and getting the proj- stove or sink 12 inches from its current location. And sometimes ect started on the right foot. that small move can amount to an incredible change in flow. •
//the mav notes 90 Tantalus Riesling 2010, Okanagan ($23)
89 Vineland Estates Unoaked Chardonnay 2010, Ontario ($12.95)
At the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration I tasted this Ontario wine that held its own in comparison to more costly Chardonnays from around the world. 15% Pinot Blanc in the blend. Pale straw in colour, it has flavours of peach and pineapple with a creamy mouthfeel. (TA)
This perennial benchmark Okanagan Riesling from Southeast Kelowna has more residual sugar this vintage, but the mouth-watering acidity and dry, minerally finish ensure refreshment. Green apple, ripe pear, guava and lime zest pervade from nose to finish. Delightful with spicy seafood dishes. (HH)
89 McWatters Collection Meritage 2007, Okanagan ($25)
Okanagan wine pioneer Harry McWatters has launched his “legacy” label. This blend of Merlot (60%), Cab Sauv (35%) and Cab Franc (5%) delivers classic Bordeaux characteristics of blackcurrant, cedar and tobacco, but it also expresses Okanagan markers of fragrant sage and juicy red berry fruit. Lively acidity and velvety tannins make this approachable to drink now with steak. (HH)
87 River Stone Cabernet Franc 2009, Okanagan ($26)
Grabs attention with aromas of violets, menthol, blackcurrant and French oak. Loads of red and black fruit flavour includes a dusting of dried herbs. Tobacco, clove and dark chocolate emerge on the finish. Juicy acidity and plush tannins ensure accessibility now. Suited for roast dinners. (HH)
88 Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris 2010, Okanagan ($20) Aromas of earthy Bosc pear and fragrant lychee on the nose. Fresh acidity supports lively, savoury flavours of ripe pear, red apple and blanched almond. Pear skin and coriander spice linger on the finish. Tasty with vegetable torte. (HH)
89 Coyote’s Run Black Paw Vineyard Chardonnay 2010, Four Mile Creek ($21.95)
Medium yellow in colour, this Chardonnay has seen new oak treatment. At first, it is the oak that appears in the form of toast, vanilla and cream, but then the apple, melon, citrus and minerals work their way into the mix. Medium body, refined and linear, there is enough weight to pair with cream-based dishes or richer cheeses. (ES)
87 Domaine de Grand Pré Verrezano Rosé 2010, Nova Scotia ($14)
Scents of cranberry, strawberry with a trace of apple open the way for soft, lightly ripe berry and red cherry fruit in the mouth backed by zesty crisp acidity and firm mineral. A charming Rosé with character. (SW)
50 // November 2011
+ For more Maverick wines see page 36
Discovery by Peter Gill
//a full line up
The New World is growing older — and somewhat wiser. Many wineries in the Finger Lakes area now print on their labels a scale indicating exactly where that Riesling is in terms of dryness, using residual sugar and other factors. The buyer just has to know what sweetness level they like and then look at the scale to know if it would be to his or her taste. With the confusions over some Old World Rieslings, this really helps wine lovers make a choice. I recently visited Keuka and Seneca lakes, and can say that sipping and eating your way around the many wineries of these central lakes might be the way to enjoy a visit. When at Keuka Lake try to visit older wineries like Heron Hill for a tasting, and then Dr. Frank’s greatly expanded Vinifera Wine Cellars, now operated by third generation Fred Frank, showcasing many vines planted by his grandfather. While the space allotted to this article does not allow me to do justice to all wineries, another Keuka go-to stop would include tiny Ravines Wine Cellars, if only for their Riesling and Pinot Noir, which were excellent.
92 Ravines Wine Cellar Riesling 2008 ($16.95)
Dry Riesling, a hint of lime, and the start of Riesling’s signature petrol added to a floral character. A keeper, but great now.
94 Hermann J Wiemer Bunch Select Late Harvest 2008 ($95/375 ml)
88 Glenora Wine Cellars Meritage 2009 ($31)
A honeyed nose and racy, mineral taste that seemed to go on forever. For cellaring.
Traditional Bordeaux blend shows excellent dark fruit on the nose, rich full body and lovely smooth finish.
88 Anthony Road Cabernet Franc Rosé ($12.99)
86 Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars Pinot Noir 2008 ($20)
86 Lamoreaux Landing Blanc de Blanc 2006 ($25)
92 Sheldrake Point Late Harvest Riesling 2008 ($40)
A lovely colour followed by a light herbal hint of Franc, finishing very crisp. A fine dry example of a Rosé, and a bargain.
Citrus and toast mix for a very refreshing, charming sparkler.
92 Lamoreaux Landing 2009 Round Rock Vineyard ($20)
A great Riesling, super minerality, good fruit and a long, rich finish. Great value.
88 Red Newt Cellars Pinot Gris 2008 ($24)
Excellent work from a cooler year. Apple and melon notes, nice complex finish.
Halseys Bistro: Downtown Geneva, excellent food and service, nice wine list, can be noisy, reservations almost essential. halseysgeneva.com Red Newt Bistro: At the winery in Hector. Featuring very good American style food, and interesting flights of wine to match. Open most days for lunch and dinner.
Made from 30-year-old vines, this deeply coloured wine exhibits sour cherry and plum, with a smooth tannin finish.
A wonderful sweet taste of apricot and citrus that lingers forever. For the cellar, served with foie gras, or just to savour by itself.
88 Anthony Road & Friends Dry Riesling 2008 ($30)
Lovely spicy nose with a pronounced mineral aftertaste. Made with a blending from three wineries, Anthony Road, Red Newt and Fox Run. Can last, but drinks very nicely now. •
Village Tavern: In downtown Hammondsport, this casual spot features seafood, pub fare and steaks, as well as an extensive award-winning list of American and European wines with many older vintages available. villagetaverninn.com Check out the New York Wine and Culinary Centre for maps, tastings and other great information. nywcc.com
by gurvinder Bhatia
//there was music everywhere
Venice is one of the most amazing yet surreal cities in the world. Historically it served as a maritime power as well as a key centre for trade, commerce and the arts. But the “City of Canals” has also seen its share of conflict and hardship. In the late 16th century, the plague claimed more than a third of the city’s population — in just two years. Once the outbreak was over, a decision was made to erect a church dedicated to the Redentore (Redeemer) in return for helping deliver the city from the disease. It was also decided that the end of the plague would be celebrated on the third Sunday in July. It’s been over 400 years since the end of the Black Plague, but the Venetians are still celebrating. This past July, I was in Venice and took part in the Redentore festival. The party started on Saturday night, as all public water traffic ceased in the early evening. St Mark’s Basin and the Giudecca Canal began to fill with huge yachts, motorboats and tug boats all decorated with coloured lights, lanterns and balloons. Every boat, regardless of size, had competing loud speakers with thumping music and the entire lagoon turned into a huge floating dance party under the heat of the Venetian sun. The wine flowed and traditional Venetian dishes were served. I, along with 50 others, was a guest of distillery and winery owner Sandro Bottega, on the Moby Dick.
52 // November 2011
The stream of food was endless, with fruit salad and fritto misto (assorted fried vegetables and seafood) followed by a feast of pasta alla vongole (clams) and suckling pig. The flow of wines was also endless. Sandro did his best “king of the world” imitation as he jumped onto the roof of the bridge with a mic encouraging everyone to party, “like it’s your last day on earth.” Not wanting to be bad guests, we obliged our host. The evening culminated in a magnificent fireworks display beginning at 11:30 pm. All the boats turned off their lights and the sky lit up with explosions, showers, bursts and streams of colourful pyrotechnic splendour with the incredibly beautiful city of Venice as the backdrop. The show lasted upwards of 40 minutes and as the boats began to disperse, I couldn’t help but think about what an amazing party this was and how such festivals in Europe are rooted in so much history. Mark Twain, in 1867, probably described it best: “The whole of Venice met outside, on the water ... covering a vast expanse ... thousands of gondolas had gathered together, each with ten, twenty, or even thirty coloured lights hanging all over them ... As far as the eye could see these multi-coloured lights were amassed like a huge garden of multi-coloured flowers ... there was music everywhere. Thus enveloped by music, magnificence and beauty I felt so inspired by the atmosphere and sights, that even I burst into song ...”
Bottega Vino dei Poeti Prosecco DOC, Veneto ($15.99) Delicate floral aromas with hints of apple and pear, fresh and drinkable with a touch of peach and a pleasant, juicy finish.
Bottega Vino dellâ€™Amore Moscato Petalo, Veneto ($17.99)
Aromatic with loads of pear, peach and floral character. Sweet, with delicate bubbles but maintains its freshness without becoming cloying and finishes with full sweet peaches.
Bottega Vino dei Poeti Prosecco DOCG, Veneto ($18.99)
Lovely aromas of peach, and apples with a nice floral character, quite fruit driven with lively bubbles, a pleasant touch of acidity and a refreshing finish.
Bottega Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2009, Tuscany ($25)
Aromas and flavours of cherry and earth with a firm structure and persistent finish. A nice match with suckling pig.
Bottega Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2007, Veneto ($45) Quite intense with aromas and flavours of dried cherry and
raisin, cedar box and a hint of jam, very full in the mouth with a firm structure and velvety texture. A little hot on the finish.
Bottega Grappa Alexander, Veneto ($39.99)
Soft and fragrant with hints of apple and pear, well balanced with good restraint on the alcohol. Nice character and a good introduction to Grappa.
Bottega Grappa di Moscato, Piedmont ($49.99)
Pleasantly aromatic with hints of pear and apple, slightly sweet on the entry with a smooth, well-constructed finish.
Bottega Prosecco Grappa Alexander, Veneto ($49.99)
Elegant aromas of apple and white flowers with a smooth, almost creamy texture, a nice edge and a persistent finish.
Bottega Vino dei Poeti RosĂŠ, Veneto ($15.99)
A dangerously drinkable blend of Pinot Noir and Raboso. Bright aromas and flavours of raspberries, strawberries, apples, citrus and spice with a juicy, fresh and lively mouthfeel and fruity finish. Pairs well with celebrating the end of the plague.
//the food notes 88 Maison Coquard Juliénas 2009, Beaujolais, France ($18.10) Beaujolais is technically a part of Burgundy but there is an ongoing debate whether it should stay that way as it has a different character albeit similar soils. This fine cru exhibits a nose of raspberry and strawberry with a very discreet touch of oak. Soft and balanced, its crunchy, sappy fruit has medium body and firm tannins. Easy to drink and ready now, to be enjoyed with grilled red meat. (GBQc)
88 Rosewood Merlot Reserve Naturally Fermented 2009, Beamsville Bench, Niagara ($40)
Rosewood has churned out a delicious Merlot from the cool 2009 vintage. Cocoa, plums, raspberries, herbs, hickory and spice are layered on an elegant and medium-bodied frame. My only concern is that there was some burn from the natural 14.5% alcohol. Serve it slightly chilled, with a prosciutto and herb wrapped pork tenderloin accompanied with a mustard sauce. (ES)
87 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz/ Cabernet 2008, South Australia ($16.45)
This perennial favourite delivers the goods, once again, in its ‘08 vintage. With a medium body, it is somewhat jammy, with blackberries, dark cherries, liquorice, menthol and cocoa all present. It is a very satisfying selection, ideal for grilled calf’s liver or tandoori chicken. (ES)
92 Maison Alex Gambal Puligny Montrachet 2008, Burgundy, France ($60)
A gorgeous and complex nose of tropical, pear and citrus fruits with added vanilla toast and mineral. It shows lovely texture in the mouth with smoky fruits, hazelnuts and pure concentration that carries through the long finish. Try with trout, haddock, charcuterie or Camembert cheese. (RV)
88 Aveleda Follies Alvarinho 2010, Minho, Portugal ($21.99)
Lovely, refreshing aromas of white flowers, peach and citrus with focused flavours, a lively minerality and hint of saltiness. Elegantly penetrating and fresh with crisp acidity on the finish. Ideal with oysters and shellfish. (GB)
95 Errazuriz La Cumbre Syrah 2007, Don Maximiano Estate, Aconcagua Valley ($50.95) The “top of the hill” proprietary name captures its vineyards’ locale. Unleashes seductive aromas of violets, black cherry and smoky pepper, followed by sweet, concentrated red fruit flavours. The combination of robust flavours, supple texture, plush tannins and full-bodied frame offers a Rubenesque wine, if you will. Super-long, spicy finish. Ready now for barbecued meats. (HH)
54 // November 2011
90 Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre 2007, Veneto, Italy ($25) Made from traditional Veneto grapes with 30% of the fruit airdried, Amarone-style. The nose shows rich, mature dark fruits, ground coffee, saddle leather and sweet spice notes. It’s a very young wine in the mouth that deserves time in the cellar to fully integrate all the interesting parts, from the intense fruit flavours to the toasty vanilla and sweet oak nuances. Try with grilled game meat, especially bison burgers. (RV)
Bouquet Garni by nancy johnson
Fresh Spinach Fettuccine with Chicken and Mushrooms Makes 4 servings
One of my earliest memories from childhood is watching my grandmother make pasta. I am sitting on an old wine barrel in her basement, with a fine cloud of flour wafting around me. My grandmother is cutting the pasta into long ribbons. Her hands move so fast that she cuts her finger. I don’t remember much more than that. I do remember that I loved her spaghetti. And I remember something else: I was so traumatized by the finger-cutting incident that I decided I would never, ever not in a million, billion years make my own pasta. Whether that moment shaped my aversion to making fresh pasta is debatable. I’ve cut my fingers enough times in the kitchen to overcome my childhood fear. The fact is, I’ve tried making pasta and I’m just no good at it. I say this because this article is about pasta. So one would think there would be a pasta-making recipe somewhere in the bunch. There isn’t. I can only offer those things that I am good at. And one of those things is coming up with quick and delicious ways to sauce good old store-bought pasta. November can be a trying month. The weather has taken a turn for the worse and my Christmas shopping list is so long you could land a 747 on it. I really don’t have time to sit my granddaughter on a wine barrel so she can watch me make plaster of Paris. She loves pasta too much for me to traumatize her that way.
I love this dish, which is a mash-up of Fettuccine Alfredo and a sauté of paprika-spiked chicken and mushrooms, all topped with creamy goat cheese.
cup butter cup heavy cream 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano 1 package fresh spinach fettuccine, cooked 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 3 chicken breast fillets, cut into chunks 2 cups mixed mushrooms 1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika 3 cloves garlic, minced Goat cheese for garnish 1
1. In medium saucepan, heat butter and heavy cream until
butter melts. Remove from heat. Gently stir in cooked fettuccine and Parmigiano Reggiano. 2. Meanwhile, in large skillet sauté chicken and mushrooms in hot oil until chicken is cooked through and mushrooms are tender. Season with paprika, salt and pepper. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. 3. Arrange fettuccine on four plates. Add chicken and mushroom mixture. Top with a generous slice or dollop of goat cheese. …… Try a nicely balanced, crisp Ontario Riesling.
+ Search through a wide range of wine-friendly recipes on tidingsmag.com
choose a pasta with a lot of ridges. it will capture the sauce and deliver deeper flavours.
Shells with Clams Makes 4 to 6 servings
There is no arguing that clam sauce is best when made with fresh clams. But I keep this recipe on hand for those dark months when clams aren’t available. I like to pair the sauce with shell pasta. The shells curl around the clams and capture the sauce. Plus the whole “shells with clams” thing is a somewhat funny joke. Or is it ironic?
1 1 1 4
tbsp butter tbsp extra virgin olive oil small onion, chopped cloves garlic, minced 1/2 cup dry white wine 2 cans (142g each) clams, drained 1 bottle clam broth 500 g small or medium sized pasta shells, cooked 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional 2 tbsp minced parsley
1. In large skillet, sauté onion in hot butter and oil until
softened. Add garlic and cook until garlic is softened. 2. Add white wine and cook until reduced by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add clams and clam broth. Season with salt and pepper. 3. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add shells and heavy cream if using. Garnish with some parsley. …… Please pass the Pinot Grigio!
56 // November 2011
Farfalle with Butternut Squash and Arugula Makes 4 to 6 servings
The sweet squash and peppery arugula make a great combo. Many supermarkets now stock plastic bags of cubed butternut squash, which makes this sweet vegetable more user-friendly. If you can’t find prepared squash, there is a way to cut a whole squash without injury. Place the sharp edge of the knife on the squash and tap the blunt side gently with a mallet until the knife slices through. Just as a side note, reserve a sharp but cheap chef’s knife for squash cutting. That mallet can’t be good for a knife in the long run.
2 cups chicken stock 1 tbsp sea salt 4 cups diced butternut squash 1 package arugula or baby spinach 500 g farfalle pasta, cooked 3 tbsp butter 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese Freshly ground black pepper
1. In a small saucepan, boil the chicken stock until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add sea salt and squash.
Cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove squash with a slotted spoon and drain in colander. 3. Add the arugula or spinach to the water and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Drain, leaving a few tablespoons of water in the pot. 4. Add the cooked farfalle to the pot. Gently stir in the arugula, squash, stock, butter and Pecorino. Season with freshly ground black pepper. …… It’s November – why not open a light and fruity Beaujolais Nouveau?
Do not overcook your pasta. Al dente means “to the Tooth.” The pasta should be cooked but with a little bite to it.
Spicy Linguine with Pancetta Makes 4 to 6 servings
You can substitute bacon for the pancetta. Use the best quality canned tomatoes you can find, preferably San Marzano. Reserve a bit of the pasta water to thin the sauce if needed. My secret for knowing when the pasta is ready? When I see the foamy starch on the edges of the water. It’s a minute or two beyond al dente but not overcooked. It usually takes 13 minutes from the time you add the pasta to the boiling salted water.
6 slices pancetta, chopped 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, diced 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste 1 can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed (796 ml) 1 can tomato sauce (398 ml) 500 g linguine or spaghetti, cooked
1. In a large skillet, cook the pancetta and oil until pancetta is
crisp. Transfer pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tbsp of fat. 2. Add onion and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Cook until onion is softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. 3. Toss the linguine with the pancetta and tomato sauce. …… Pair this spicy dish with a Chianti Classico. •
90 J. Maria da Fonseca José de Sousa Mayor 2007, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal ($17) Medium ruby. Dried herbs and floral notes give an impression of lightness to the fruity nose. Moderately oaky, it maintains a good fruit/oak balance. The finish is clean and pure. Delicious. (GBQc)
90 Brazin Old Vines Zin Monte Rosso Vineyard 2007, Sonoma Valley, United States ($35) This hearty Zin was aged 16 months in oak barrels. Full bodied and with over 15% alcohol, it is a concentrated mouthful of blackberries, blueberries, spice, earth and black tea. It finishes long with supple tannins. Grab a couple of bottles for winter’s hearty fair. (ES)
90 Luckett Vineyards Ortega 2010, Nova Scotia ($22)
Presents aromatic floral blossom with ripe stone fruit, a suggestion of honey and a satisfyingly long finish. Effectively combines opulent fruit flavour with a lightly refreshing sensation on the off dry palate. (SW)
90 Vignerons Catalans Rivesaltes Ambré Collection Hors d’Âge 1974, Roussillon, France ($30.50) 94 Montes Purple Angel 2007, Apalta & Marchigue Vineyard, Chile ($49.95) Wide-ranging aromas greet the nose: floral, herbal, spice and red fruits. Intensely rich red and black fruit flavours gush forth, yet soft tannins ensure suppleness and a long, lush finish. Contemplative sipping for the next several years. (HH)
That’s no typo, this is really a 1974 and it’s a steal! Rich amber colour, dried fruits, almonds and a slight nutty overtone. Intense waves of dry and sweet flavours hit the tongue as you swirl it in the mouth. Tight, caressing tannins and a bit tartaric. Great length, too. Almost certainly sold out by the time you read this, but watch for more great deals from the same appellation. (GBQc)
93 Long Shadows Poet’s Leap Riesling 2010, Columbia Valley, Washington, United States ($34.99) Crafted by German winemaker Armin Diel (Schlossgut Diel). The fresh, exuberant nose highlights green apple, fragrant floral and exotic spice. The off-dry palate features tangy acidity and a rich mid-palate, bursting with juicy nectarine and spicy peach flavours. Delightfully long lime peel and wet stone finish. An irresistible anytime sipper. (HH)
58 // November 2011
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) and Jonathan Smithe (MB). Argentina // p. 59; Australia // p. 59-60; Canada // p. 60-61;
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
Chile // p. 61; France // p. 61-63; Germany // p. 63; Italy // p. 63; New Zealand // p. 63; Portugal // p. 63-65;
the notes\\ /Argentina /
89 Catena Zapata Alamos Torrontes 2010, Alamos ($13.95)
The Torrontes grape is similar in style to a dry Muscat from Alsace. The wine has a delightful bouquet of carnations, orange and cardamom; it’s medium bodied with lychee and rosewater flavours. Great length and great value. (TA)
87 Tilia Torrontes 2010, ($13)
An unusual white grape that is a rising star in Argentina. It has intense floral aromas with citrus, peach and apricot notes. It’s fleshy on the palate with a predominant apricot jam flavour and added citrus/peach
notes. Try with apple walnut salad or pasta primavera. (RV)
87 Carla Chiaro Reserve Malbec 2007, Mendoza ($14.95)
Dense ruby-purple colour stains the glass — always a good sign if you like full-bodied, mouthfilling reds. The nose is a mix of raspberries, currants, spice and mint. It’s juicy and fresh on the palate with an underpinning of vanilla oak. A wine for steak if ever there was one. (TA)
/Australia / 87 The Insider White by Knappstein 2010, Clare Valley ($14.95) This dry and zesty Riesling-
+ A searchable listing of our tasting notes is at tidingsmag.com/notes/
United States // p. 65; Beer // p. 65
dominant wine is blended with Gewürztraminer. The colour is pale, almost watery, with a green tinge, and a pronounced nose of mineral, lime and apple that engages with hints of tropical fruit and spice. It is light bodied with very good length and a salty mineral finish. Serve it with oysters or ceviche. (ES)
87 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay 2010, South Australia ($15)
This 2010 Chardonnay is straw coloured with a nose of sweet butter and pineapple. The touch of oak adds a spicy note on the palate. The wine has a good mouthfeel and finishes dry. Very stylish for the price. (TA)
86 Fifth Leg Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc, Western Australia ($16) Love the aromatic nose of freshly mown grass, melon, lemon and kiwi fruit. In the mouth, the fruits are fresh, vibrant with just a touch of sweetness. Try with fresh, grilled white fish. (RV)
88 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, South Australia ($17)
Deep ruby colour; intense, blackcurrant and eucalyptus on the nose; spicy, blackcurrant and a smoky note in the full-bore palate, firmly structured with good acidity and lingering fruit flavours. (TA)
//the notes 85 Jost Valley Roads l’Acadie Gris 2010, Nova Scotia ($9.99)
89 Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2007, Auckland, New Zealand ($39)
Straw yellow with green reflections. The nose is slightly herbaceous, oak is present but not obtrusive. Vivid acidity, medium richness and concentration of flavours. It will need some time to integrate the oak and bring out its full potential, so give it 3 to 4 years. (GBQc)
88 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet 2008, South Australia ($18)
Love this blend of Cab and Shiraz. An inviting nose of plums, pepper, dark fruits, baking spices, pepper, blackberry jam and vanilla toast. It’s fleshy on the palate with a core of blackberry-cherry fruit and nice cocoa-liquorice highlights. Perfect with grilled steak. (RV)
87 Fifth Leg Shiraz/ Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Western Australia ($16)
Big aromas of jammy cherry, blackberry, vanilla and pepper. It’s quite smooth on the palate with fleshy fruit and layers of spice. Easy drinking style at an affordable price. Pairs up well with grilled red meats. (RV)
/Canada / 90 Jackson Triggs Entourage Silver Series Brut Méthode Classique 2006, Niagara ($22.95)
This inaugural, vintage-dated
60 // November 2011
This is an interesting blend of l’Acadie and Frontenac Gris, a mutation of the red Frontenac grape. Discernable Nova Scotia aromatic floral and fresh fruit scents appear on the palate as succulent apricot and green fruit with good mineral grip and lingering apricot fruitiness on the off dry finish. Has some charm. (SW)
premium bubbly from JT certainly hits the mark. The combination of the cooler ‘06 vintage and aging on the lees for 3 years has given the wine a ‘Champagne feel’. Toast, biscuit, apple, hazelnut and citrus mesh well with the small creamy bubbles, crisp acidity and excellent length. A tip of the hat to Marco Piccoli for a job well done! (ES)
primary suspects are Gewürztraminer, Musqué, Riesling and Pinot Gris. The supporting cast is Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Semillon. Mid weight, the waves of peach, mango, nectarine, spice and flowers just flatter the senses, and the refreshing acidity just adds to its allure. (ES)
89 Coyote’s Run Pinot Gris Rare Vintage 2010, Four Mile Creek ($24.95)
I have always been a fan, and the current vintage lives up to its predecessors. Elegant and crisp, it is all about apple, peach, pear, flowers and minerals. It is an ideal aperitif wine, or pair it with mild Brie and canapés. (ES)
‘Rare Vintage’ is a limited edition wine, only made in top years. One hundred cases were made of this aromatic beauty. Its medium body serves up huge peach, flowers, honey and vanilla on the nose and banana, cream, yeast and spice on the palate. There is beautiful length, fresh acidity and a hint of bitterness, a telltale sign of a great Gris. (ES)
88 13th Street Winery White Palette 2010, Niagara ($14.95)
This aromatic beauty is a blend of seven white grapes. The
88 Coyote’s Run Pinot Blanc 2010, Niagara ($18)
88 Coyote’s Run Red Paw Vineyard Chardonnay 2010, Four Mile Creek ($21.95) A bouquet of toast, apple, pineapple, citrus, spice and banana. It is richer in the mouth than Black Paw, with nutmeg and cream adding complexity. Very good length and it is ready to drink now, and over the next 4 years. (ES)
88 Rosewood Chardonnay Reserve Naturally Fermented 2009, Beamsville Bench ($28) The ambient yeast of the winery that was used to ferment this wine. Moreover, it was aged in new barrels and given the full malolactic treatment. This has endowed the wine with toast, caramel and smoke, pineapple, honey and spice. The texture is creamy and rather full in the mouth. (ES)
87 Coyote’s Run Five Mile White 2010, Niagara ($14.25)
Even though Riesling accounts for 57% of the blend, it is the 20% of Gewürztraminer that dominates its personality. An aromatic blend of peach rose water, honey and grapefruit beguiles. The palate offers refreshing acidity as well as a spicy, grapefruit-tinged finale. Pair with Munster or Gouda cheese. As a side note, I also tried their 2010 Five Mile Red, which is still in barrel. When released next year, it will truly impress for the price! (ES)
87 Lakeview Cellars Auxerrois Reserve 2009, Niagara ($17.95)
I like to describe Auxerrois as a baby Chardonnay. Displays anise, apples, peach, citrus and some floral elements. (ES)
87 Jost Eagle Tree Muscat 2008, Nova Scotia ($17.99)
Pungent Muscat scent shows floral intensity and peppery background notes. Exotic green fruit, lychee, lively acidity and mineral make for effective pairing with lightly spicy oriental seafood. (SW)
87 Rosewood Sémillon 2010, Beamsville Bench ($18)
This is one of the rare single varietal Semillons produced in Ontario. Having benefited from the heat of 2010, the nose is amped up with apricot jam, cherry pith, apple juice, honey, lanolin and spice. The texture is somewhat creamy and there is very good length. This is a singular juice and a great intro to the world of the ‘Semi’. (ES)
86 Luckett Vineyards l’Acadie 2010, Nova Scotia ($19)
Varietal nose shows grapefruit, floral and stone fruit notes with a whiff of green herb. Rounded, generously ripe fruit with notable apricot flavour kicks in on the palate backed up by mineral, lingering fruit and flowery notes on the slightly off-dry finish. (SW)
91 Fielding Estate Winery Chosen FEW, Niagara ($74.95)
Full bodied, the wine offers incredible complexity in the form of an ever-evolving bouquet of mocha, coffee, cherry, plum, blueberry,
smoke, minerals, pepper, graphite and mint. The mid palate is rich and ripe and the finale extensive. The tannins ensure drinkability over the next 7 years. It is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot and 14% Syrah. (ES)
87 Luckett Vineyards Phone Box Red 2010, Nova Scotia ($20)
Luckett’s signature wine gains additional complexity from the blending of four established red hybrids. Layered dark fruits, chocolate and spice come in a thickly textured package with reasonably approachable tannins and acidity, finishing with a splash of milk chocolate and attractive spice. (SW)
86 Luckett Vineyards Léon Millot 2010, Nova Scotia ($19)
Leads off with scents of spicy American oak, ripe dark plum and a touch of vanilla. Flavours shift towards cherry with overtones of red currant. Youthful acidity and firm tannins are manageable now, but will be more agreeable with another year or 2 in the cellar. (SW)
85 Luckett Vineyards Triumph 2010, Nova Scotia ($19)
On the nose, this one reveals surprisingly ripe blackberry and plum scents together with spicy notes from American oak. Not as forward on the palate, with characteristic Nova Scotia brisk acidity and dry tannins. (SW)
82 Jost Valley Roads Léon Millot/Baco Noir 2009, Nova Scotia ($10)
Agreeable cherry and light herbal notes on the nose, with
cherry and blackberry flavours, moderate tannins and good overall balance. Better without the touch of residual sweetness. (SW)
/Chile / 94 Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Puente Alto, Maipo Valley ($80)
A very complex nose with alluring floral, menthol, tobacco and blackcurrant aromas. Abundant ripe, rich black fruits are mouth filling on the full-bodied palate. Fine-grained tannins are well polished by 15 months in French oak. Cabernet Franc (2%) adds aromatics and length. Cellar until 2019. (HH)
90 Concha Y Toro Don Melchor 20th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, D.O. Puente Alto ($79.29)
Complex and refined bouquet unfolds signature Chilean blackcurrant, blackberry and herbal intensity with finely nuanced cinnamon and clove. Sweet ripe dark fruit on the palate highlights blackcurrant piquancy together with moderately dry tannins, plenty of acidity, spice, dark chocolate and fine oak. Can be drunk with pleasure now but deserves more time in the cellar. (SW)
89 Falernia Syrah Reserva 2007, Elqui Valley ($15.95)
Australia meets the Rhone Valley. The wine has a fragrant nose of blackberry, exotic spices, earth, smoke and vanilla oak. A really full-bodied effort that delivers harmonious fruit flavours that linger on the palate. (TA)
85 Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Valle Central ($12.99)
Ripe blackberry, piquant blackcurrant and green herbal notes with a pinch of spice on the nose and juicy ripe blackberry flavours, moderate tannins and bags of chocolate and spice on the finish. (SW)
/France / 93 Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchot 2007, Burgundy ($75)
Laroche starts with no oak aging for his lower-tiered Chablis and finishes at 30% new oak for his Grand Cru Blanchot. It is such a refined beauty with a nose of flinty minerals and an undercurrent of lemon and apple fruit. It’s delicate, with well-integrated fruit, subtle spice in an even, balanced approach through the finish. It’s all about the finesse here. Perfect with oysters, snails or prawns. (RV)
89 Balland Chapuis Montagnes Blanches 2009, Côteaux du Giennois AC ($19.99)
This lesser-known Loire Appellation bears a striking resemblance to its more celebrated and expensive cousin, Sancerre. Shows unmistakable Sauvignon gooseberry, mineral and grassy aromatics with more subtle varietal expression on the palate. Lively acidity and minerality are softened by rather elegant creaminess. (SW)
89 William Fèvre Champs Royaux 2009, Chablis, Burgundy ($20)
Pale bright yellow. Citrus, dry minerality and a hint of
//the notes 88 Bacalhoa Tinto da Anfora 2008, Alentejano, Portugal ($12.99) Soft, elegant and very drinkable with aromas and flavours of ripe cherries, plums and raspberries with hints of vanilla and chocolate, and a rich finish. Well constructed and a great value composed of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon. (GB)
87 Lakeview Cellars Kerner Reserve 2009, Niagara ($17.95) The Kerner grape is a cross of Riesling and the red grape known as Schiavia, famous in the Alto Adige region of Italy. That being said, this rendition is an aromatic white wine laced with flowers, peach, citrus, spice and honey. (ES)
asparagus. Good intensity. Vivid acidity, nice balance between the mineral and fruit flavours. Oysters would be perfect. (GBQc)
Chardonnay made from a selection of vineyards. No discernable oak stylings, just pure citrus/apple fruit in crisp, clean style. (RV)
89 Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons 2007, Burgundy ($45)
85 Loron Bourgogne Chardonnay 2009, Burgundy ($13)
Citrus lemon and lime on the nose with stony minerality and soft spice from minimal oak aging. Lovely mouthfeel with fresh citrusy fruit and balance through the finish. (RV)
88 Domaine du Tariquet Gros Manseng 2010, VP Côtes de Gascogne, Southwest ($15.50)
Straw yellow. Generous nose featuring flowers, cat’s pee, citrus, tropical fruits (mango) and a hint of smoke. A trace of residual sugar rounds off the lively acidity. Body is on the light side with an intense taste of ripe fruits. (GBQc)
88 Domaine Laroche Chablis St. Martin 2009, Burgundy ($24) A crisp and minerally style of
62 // November 2011
I have to say, it’s better than many Burgundy at twice the price. A clean, fresh nose of apple, citrus and floral notes. It’s unoaked and crisp on the palate with green apple flavours and touches of citrus and minerals. Nice with fresh fish dishes. (RV)
85 Domaine du Tariquet Rosé de Pressée 2010, VP Côtes de Gascogne, Southwest ($14.40) Light pink colour. Simple and slightly perfumed nose of strawberry. Light fruity taste, frizzante, off dry and a very light body. A gentle wine you can quaff almost absent-mindedly in the short term. (GBQc)
97 Château Latour 2009, Pauillac ($1,395, futures) The much-ballyhooed 2009
Bordeaux wines should be arriving in stores in just a couple of months. Some say it's the best vintage in 30 years in Bordeaux, and if this First Growth is any indication, that just may end up being true. The wine is visually stunning with opaque, inky, purple hues. The aromas come rushing at you — sweet currants, blackberry, cocoa, oak, layers of stony minerality, and spice. It is enthralling on the palate with a powerful frame, highly extracted black fruits, layered, textured and built on pure power. A monumental wine that can cellar for 50 plus years. Made to go with beef, lamb or duck. (RV)
90 Mas de la Devèze La 66 2007, LanguedocRoussillon ($19.95)
This Grenache blend reminds me of the herbs that grow wild on the hills in the Midi mingled with aromas of chocolate and blackberries. Its opulent texture fills the mouth with sweet blackberry fruit that lingers on the palate for an unconscionable time. (TA)
89 Domaine du Cros Lo Sang del Païs 2010, Marcillac, Southwest ($15) Purplish. Red and black fruits, a light vegetal note and something that reminds one of fresh blood (is this why it’s called “Blood of the Land”?) In the mouth, it is fresh and fruity, with a consistent body of thick flavours and a velvety texture. Simply cooked red meat is in order. (GBQc)
88 Château du Grand Caumont 2008, Corbières, LanguedocRoussillon ($12.90)
Full ruby. Ripe and rich nose of red and black fruits with notes of spices and liquorice. Soft on the palate, velvety tannins. Intense fruit and good balance, this is quite enjoyable. Ready to drink and over the next couple of years. (GBQc)
88 Domaine SardaMalet 2009, Côtes du Roussillon ($14.70)
Medium ruby. Red fruits on the nose, spices and a hint of fruit stones. Spicy on the tongue, narrow and straight-
forward middle palate, it shows a certain purity. The finish is also pure; this was obviously made from perfectly healthy grapes. (GBQc)
background mineral. Tingling sappy fresh flavour resembles a Macintosh apple, with gentle mineral notes and a slight touch of sweetness. (SW)
87 Domaine Quénard Mondeuse La Sauvage 2009, Vin de Savoie ($21)
Ruby-purple. Ripe fruity nose of blueberry, raspberry jam, spicy notes and an animal undertone. Generous body, fresh and fruity taste, the middle palate has an open and expansive texture that is very nice. The tight finish is almost tannic, fully dry but intensely flavourful. Drink now (GBQc)
85 J.L. Colombo Les Abeilles 2009, Côtes du Rhône ($16.75)
Red and black berries, hint of fruit stones. Nice fruity taste, firm but not excessively so, although the body has only medium weight on the tongue. The short finish is a tad warm. Drink now. (GBQc)
87 Canaletto Pinot Grigio Rosé 2009, Venezie IGT ($12.99)
Offers an interesting interplay between typical Pinot Grigio green apple characteristics and cherry/cranberry notes with a nice touch of mineral and appetizing acidity. Drink as an aperitif or with lighter seafood, salads and antipasto. (SW)
85 Umani Ronchi Villa Bianchi 2009, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico DOC, Marche ($13.99)
Grapefruit citrus and floral aromatics with generous green fruit, notably honey and almond accented pear, together with refreshing acidity. Drink as an aperitif or with seafood. (SW)
91 Kurt Darting Gewürztraminer Kabinett 2009, Pfalz ($16.95)
90 Baglio di Pianetto Shymer Syrah/Merlot 2008, Sicily ($15.95)
Gewürztraminer is one of those wines you either love or hate. I happen to love it. The nose is all lychees, rose petals and grapefruit rind. It’s medium bodied with sweet lychee and grapefruit flavours that sustain well on the palate. Serve it as an aperitif or match it with Thai dishes or light curries. (TA)
88 Kendermann Carl Reh Riesling Kabinett 2010, Pradikatswein, Mosel ($14.99)
Delicate floral blossom and fresh apple scents with subtle
It’s deep ruby-purple in colour with an expressive bouquet of blackcurrants, toasty oak and herbs with a floral grace note. It’s full and generous on the palate, well structured with nicely integrated oak. (TA)
89 Antinori Tormaresca Neprice 2008, Puglia IGT ($20.14)
A blend of Negroamaro, Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon showing warmly developed ripe plum and dark berry fruit with a pinch of cinnamon and clove. Mediter-
ranean-style fruit compote on the palate is disciplined by firm structure, stony mineral and balancing acidity. (SW)
88 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Le Volte 2009, IGT Tuscany ($29)
Deep cherry red. Red and black fruits, a touch of iodine and some oak notes. Full in the mouth, nice fruit, the tannins are firm but show some tenderness. Good balance leading to a very nice, round finish. Drinks perfectly well now. (GBQc)
87 Castello del Poggio 2007, Barbera d’Asti DOC ($22.49)
Dark fruit shows good depth with spicy cinnamon and a trace of clove. More ripeness than is usual for Barbera with dark plum and bitter cherry fruit, brisk acidity, smooth mouthfeel and a satisfyingly long finish. (SW)
/New / Zealand 89 Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2008, Auckland ($25)
100% barrel fermented, it has a good deal of oak on the fine nose, but it is not excessive. Fresh, grassy notes; flint. The racy acidity is quite perceptible even if malo was fully completed. Aging potential of up to 5 years. A somewhat unique product, especially coming from the (warm) North Island. (GBQc)
88 Millton Opou Vineyard Chardonnay 2009, Gisborne ($23)
A blend of three Chardonnay clones all from biodynamically farmed vineyards in the Gisborne region. Good depth
of fruit on the nose with citrus, tropical fruits and a subtle nuttiness note to go with spice and minerality. Love the tension on the palate with fruit and minerals in a seesaw battle with the freshening acidity. (RV)
88 Oyster Bay Pinot Noir 2010, Marlborough ($20) One of the most reliable and affordable Pinot Noirs vintage after vintage. Medium ruby colour; earthy, beetroot and red berry bouquet; sweet red berry fruit with lively acidity. Well made. Drink now. (TA)
/Portugal / 88 Sandeman Aptiv White Port ($14.95)
Made from a bevy of indigenous white grapes, this white Port reveals orange marmalade, white flowers and lemon peel. It is sweet, but not cloying, so chill well and serve as an aperitif. Or, create a cocktail by mixing it with tonic and a lemon wedge. (ES)
87 Aveleda Vinho Verde 2010, Vinho Verde ($9)
This is a blend of three local grapes — Loueiro, Trajadura, and Alvarinho. It’s very pale in colour with a lime tint; the nose is minerally with a bouquet of wet salt and citrus peel with a hint of white flowers. It’s light on the palate, fresh and lemony with the faintest prickle on the tongue. (TA)
86 Aveleda Casal Garcia NV, Vinho Verde ($13)
A slight green hint to the colour, quite fresh with hints of lemon and mineral, and a touch of fizziness, pleasant and easy to drink. Tasted at the winery,
//the notes which amplified the fact that this is a wine that is best when young and fresh and too often loses some of this liveliness by the time it makes its way to the store shelves in Canada. A blend of Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto and Azal. (GB)
96 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 2009, Douro ($100)
2009 was a debatable year for most shippers of Vintage Port. Some were impressed with the quality and others not. Clearly, the good folks at Taylor have scored huge with their wines — Taylor, Fonseca and Croft. This was my favourite of their portfolio. It is a full bodied and rich wine with an opaque purple-tinged colour. Violets, plums, cherries, spice and cocoa mesh together with outstanding length and 50 plus years of aging ahead of it. (ES)
92 Quinta do Perdigão Touriga Nacional 2008, Dão ($35)
because of its fresh mineral character, which lingers long on the finish. José suggests pairing this wine with partridge. (HH)
Hold on to your hats, folks! It is black in colour with prunes, raisins, violets and cocoa. Soft, round and accessible, it is ready to drink now or over the next 5 years. (ES)
Deep purple in colour with fresh aromas of violets, blackcurrants and cherries, flavours of blackberries and hints of spice with a full mouthfeel, firm tannins and nice length. Good character and a fresh quality, but still quite young with good potential to develop further. A good wine with mediumstrong cheeses. (GB)
89 Quinta do Infantado Ruby Port NV, Pinhão ($15.95)
89 Messias Quinta do Valdoeiro Reserva Red 2005, Bairrada ($25)
90 Sandeman Vau Vintage Port 2000, Douro ($29.95)
Infantado only owns ‘A’ class vineyards, and, subsequently, the quality in undeniable. Violets, cassis, dried cherries and tobacco leaf are present on the nose. Medium sweet, there is density, delineation and a lasting aftertaste. (ES)
89 Duorum Tinto 2008, Douro Valley ($16.95)
Winemaker/owner José Perdigão notes the strong influence of granitic soil in this highly regarded red. The fragrant nose exhibits complex floral, fruit and spice. The dense mid-palate exudes rich black fruit, but remains elegant overall
89 Aveleda Follies Touriga Nacional 2007, Bairrada ($23.99)
Produced from three of the five or six grapes that usually go into Port — Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz — this wine is savoury blackcurrant and minerally on the nose; it’s full bodied and rich on the palate with a kiss of oak. Ideal for barbecued meats. (TA)
Aromas of violets and blackcurrants with subtle fruit on the palate encased in mineral, earth and clay, quite approachable but far from being simple. Great character and a tremendous value. Baga, Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. (GB)
88 J. P. Vinhos Tinto da Anfora 2008, Alentejo ($11.95)
Blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep ruby colour with a nose of cedar, red berry and vanilla oak; soft mouthfeel, dark chocolate, black fruit with a spicy note; firm finish. (TA)
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64 // November 2011
88 Messias Dados Reserva 2008, Douro ($36)
Dark purple and slightly floral with aromas and flavours of crushed blackberries, cherries and hints of liquorice, spice and tobacco, fairly dry tannins and a little austere due to its youth. Very well constructed and extremely interesting with great potential to age. A blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional. (GB)
88 Messias Quinta do Cachao Grande Escolha 2007, Douro ($36)
Beautiful nose, elegant, fresh and pretty with red and black fruit, floral and a touch of spice, concentrated flavours of crushed currants and black cherries, firm tannins yet elegant and slightly rustic with a long, full finish. Delicious blend of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. Screams for meat. (GB)
88 Messias Colheita Port 1991, Douro ($40)
Lots of caramel on the nose with flavours of dried figs, orange peel, and a touch of spice, well balanced without the overt alcohol present in so many fortified wines. Very pleasurable and drinkable. Perfect with strongly fla-
voured cheeses, toasted nuts and dried fruits. (GB)
87 Bacalhoa Meia Pipa Vinho Tinto 2008, Setubal ($16.99)
Juicy and bright with aromas and flavours of raspberry, cherry, red currants and strawberry, soft and elegant with hints of pepper and mint, fresh, well-balanced, firm dry tannins and a lasting finish. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Castelao. (GB)
/United / States 93 Kistler Les Noisetiers Chardonnay 2007, Sonoma ($70)
Certainly one of most talked about Chardonnay producers in California. The Les Noisetiers is the epitome of the buttery style of Chardonnay that’s either loved or hated. It shows a cacophony of fruit on the nose from apple, pear and melon to secondary notes of bread dough, minerals, almonds all slathered in buttery goodness. It’s simply gorgeous in the mouth with ripe fruits that work so well with fine oak, spice, nuts and flavours that are layered and sublime. A wine made for lobster smothered in butter. (RV)
92 Far Niente Estate Chardonnay 2009, Napa Valley ($57.95)
They don’t come much better than this from Napa. A big, straw-coloured, mouth filling wine with a nose of sun-warmed hay, apples and cloves, lovely, rich mouthfeel with flavours of orange, tropical fruits and toast. Long finish. (TA)
89 Bonterra Chardonnay 2009, Mendocino County, California ($18.95)
Pale yellow. Citrus and exotic fruits (apricot), a slight buttery note and a mineral undertone. Good acidity, a small amount of oak augments the volume and the fatty feel of the middle palate. Good freshness overall, helped by a return of acidity in the sharp finish. (GBQc)
94 Long Shadows Feather Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Columbia Valley, Washington ($84.49)
Made by Napa Valley vintner Randy Dunn. Intoxicatingly fragrant blackcurrant nose. Black plum and black cherry flavours upfront give way to concentrated cassis. Polished tannins ensure silky-smooth sips. Impeccable balance. Long, savoury finish. A classic for steak. (HH)
94 Long Shadows Pedestal Merlot 2006, Columbia Valley, Washington ($84.49)
Pomerol vintner Michel Rolland put his mark on this full-bodied, Merlot-dominant blend. Beautiful floral and black plum aromas. Complex, seductive flavours of ripe black fruits, dark chocolate and savoury spice. Great texture and balance. Long, complex finish. Poised for game stew. (HH)
93 Long Shadows Chester-Kidder 2004, Columbia Valley, Washington ($79.99) This blend exemplifies Washington’s potential. Cab Sauv (58%) delivers classic cedar and blackcurrant aromas. Syrah (29%) adds meaty-gamey flavours. Cab
Franc (10%) contributes complexity, length. Petit Verdot (3%) ensures balance. Match with holiday roasts. (HH)
92 Long Shadows Saggi 2007, Columbia Valley, Washington ($69.99)
Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari imbued plenty of Italian character in this Super Tuscan style blend of Sangiovese (43%), Cab Sauv (36%) and Syrah (21%). Opens with dried flowers and tea leaf aromas, followed by game and truffle. Flavours of plum, cherry and earthy spice. Long, warm finish. Pair with a hearty risotto. (HH)
92 Long Shadows Pirouette 2005, Columbia Valley, Washington ($84.49)
Old World traditions inspired Phillippe Melka and Augustin Huneeus Sr in making this 5-varietal, Left Bank Bordeaux-styled blend. Bold aromas of blackcurrant, floral, black cherry and sweet spice. Silky texture and polished tannins are well integrated. Earthy cedar and liquorice on the finish. Drink over the next 10 years. (HH)
91 Long Shadows Sequel Syrah 2006, Columbia Valley, Washington ($84.49)
Former Penfolds Grange winemaker John Duval puts his stamp on this complex, well-balanced Syrah. Aromas of floral, pepper and blackberry lead the charge. The palate exhibits a dense core of dark fruits with smoky wood and cocoa around the edges. Long pepper spice finish, with hints of liquorice. Fire up the grill! (HH)
87 Parducci Sustainable Red 2007, Mendocino County ($15)
Blended from California grapes farmed organically and biodynamically. The nose shows juicy plum, cherry, raspberry and currant fruits in a forward style. It’s smooth and rich in fruits on the palate to go with soft tannins. (RV)
87 SKN Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley, ($17)
SKN stands for “Screw Kappa Napa.” The nose is all about blackberries, plums, roasted coffee bean, spice and cocoa. The palate reveals currants and raspberries, and black cherries with ample peppery spice and soft tannins. Match with T-bone or rib eye steak. (RV)
/Beer / Kronbacher Pils 4.8%, Germany ($2.49/331 ml)
A refreshing lager showing lightly sour hops and malt aromas with a hint of fruit, but more prominent malty and bitter hoppy flavours. Lightly creamy in texture, it finishes with appetizing bitterness. Has character no longer found in typical Euro lagers. (SW)
Schnitzer Bräu Organic and Gluten Free Hirse Premium Beer 5%, Germany ($3.83/331 ml)
Lightly hazy straw colour with emphatic yeasty and vaguely malty aromas, some banana and overripe melon. Creamy soft and lightly sweet on the palate with mild malty flavour and gentle effervescence. Intriguingly different but not to everyone’s taste. (SW)
by tony aspler
Destination wineries, like destination restaurants, merit going the extra mile. Rather like the Michelin Guide’s ‘worth a detour’ notation. They are a magnet that attracts not only winelovers but also tourists who may never have touched a drop of wine in their lives. Probably the most famous destination winery in Canada is Mission Hill in British Columbia, a true temple to Dionysus whose bells, cast in France, ring out a welcome across the Okanagan Valley (and elicit some less than ecclesiastical comments from nearby neighbours). Ontario almost had such a destination winery — if Constellation had gone ahead and built the Frank Gehry confection he had designed to house Le
66 // November 2011
Clos Jordanne (the maquette looked rather like a lemon meringue pie). Alas, when Vincor was sold to the American company that did not come to pass. Just imagine what an attraction that would have been for Ontario, given the number of people who visit the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Experience Music Project in Seattle, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Art Gallery of Ontario — all brilliantly designed by Gehry. Even more remarkable from a wine geek’s perspective is what Gehry did for Marques de Riscal in Elciego, one of the oldest wineries in Spain’s Rioja Alavesa region. For the winery’s hotel and restaurant, he created a huge roof of floating ribbons of titanium coloured in gold, silver and purple that look as if the whole sandstone structure below is about to be gift-wrapped by God.
But a destination winery is more than architecture and a solid reputation for its wines. It offers something special in the way of spectacle and entertainment that is unique to that place whether it be concerts, performances, ballooning, cycling, cooking classes or art. I found two destination wineries on a recent visit to Portugal that are both owned by the same company — Bacalhôa Vinhos de Portugal. In the underground cellars of Caves Aliança in the town of Aveiro, the art-loving president of the company José Berardo has put
together an extraordinary collection of art. As the brochure states: “Exhibiting seven distinct collections, this museum contemplates areas such archaeology, palaeontology and ceramic tiles covering millions of years of art history.” The most remarkable feature is a display of terracotta figures from the ancient Bura-Asinda-Sika culture of Niger that date back 1,500 years. Even more grandiose, at Bacalhôa’s Quinta dos Loridos winery in Obidos, about 45 minutes north of Lisbon, José Berardo has created what he calls the Buddha Eden Garden. He was so outraged when the Taliban blew up the great Bamiyan Buddhas of Afghanistan in March 2001 that he conceived an 86-acre garden of peace in homage. To realize his vision, Berardo commissioned over 6,000 tons of marble and granite Buddhas, lanterns, terracotta soldiers and various oriental sculptures of all descriptions to be carved and placed among the natural vegetation of the grounds behind the winery. Apart from the huge reclining Buddha that dominates the garden, the most impressive sight is the army of painted terracotta Chinese soldiers and horses standing on a hill overlooking an ornamental, koi-filled lake. This is the same José Berardo who is the co-owner of Colio Winery in Harrow. Just imagine the impact on wine tourism to that part of Southwestern Ontario if Berardo were to move some of his extensive art collection to Colio. Bacalhôa’s head office in Azeitão (a former book depository) has amazing works of art in its vast open spaces. That would make Colio a destination winery par excellence and the human traffic would benefit the entire appellation. •
illustration: FRancesco Gallé, www.francescogalle.com
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iberostar to come
Published on Feb 3, 2013