Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Bubbly Side of Prosecco

It's a little belated, but Happy New Year's, everyone! I hope that 2018 has started well for you all!

I continue to maintain (and embrace) the Ketogenic way of eating. In case you missed the back story, you can find it in this post. Many people have asked me how I maintain ketosis as a wine lover/wine blogger? I have done some research on the net grams of carbs of all wines. I will have to restrict my consumption of sweet and red wines, but this infograph shows the most keto-friendly options:

Photo Courtesy of ruled.me

As you can see, sparkling white wines are the most keto-friendly! This means that I'll be focusing a LOT of time on Prosecco, Cremants (the non-Champagne sparkling wines of France), and other New World bubblies to keep on track. There may also be a future post on Pinot Blanc later this year comparing Alsatian wines vs New World!

Let's start with Prosecco. I spent last Autumn tasting and learning more about Prosecco and the region it comes from in Italy. Nestled high on the hills of Valdobbiadene in the NE corner of Italy, the Glera grape, formerly known as Prosecco, is grown here. Prosecco's bubbles are made in a method called "Charmat"; this means that the second fermentation occurs in a sealed tank, instead of in the bottle like Champagne. This creates a sparkling wine that shines with floral and light stone fruit aromas and flavours.

The Villa Sandi "Il Fresco" Prosecco DOC is abundant with white blossom on the nose, and carries a flavour profile full of fresh gala apples, underripe pineapple, and an intriguing candied grapefruit finish. Delicate and fresh, with a slightly creamy mouthfeel. Great value for the price, I paid under $20 for this gem! 


The Val D'Oca Prosecco Superiore DOCG shows a more playful side of Prosecco, with zippy acidity, delicate but lively mousse, and notes of pear, navel oranges, and a hint of white peach on the finish. Beautifully crafted and a real crowd-pleaser!


The Desiderio Jeio Brut Prosecco DOCG is more elegant in style, with flavours of lemon zest, green apple, and a bright, citrus finish. An intriguing hint of fresh white bread mid-palate adds depth, creating a food-friendly bubbly that pairs well with lighter dishes like chicken and salads.


Finally, the Col de Salici Prosecco Superiore DOCG reflects the traditional flavour profile of Prosecco, along with added complexity from notes of fresh almonds and a steely backbone. Crisp and clean acidity combined with creamy mousse on the palate creates elegance and a Prosecco with finesse!

What I loved about the Prosecco tasting is its lively, fresh style, and the QPR compared to other sparkling wines. I did find, however, that Prosecco is pretty straightforward across the board. There didn't seem to be a lot of nuances that made each bottle unique. With that said, Prosecco is easy to enjoy and you're guaranteed consistency in most of the bottles you buy!

So what's next? I am moving my proverbial "Bubbly Train" back north to France to taste my way through the Cremants (French sparkling wines made outside of the Champagne region) of Alsace, Burgundy, and the Loire Valley. Stay tuned for more bubbly fun from the Wine Concubine!

Cheers! 



Friday, January 5, 2018

My Top Wines of 2017


Yep, this pretty much sums up my year. After suffering a grand mal seizure on April 29, I spent the rest of the spring undergoing medical tests, and was diagnosed with Epilepsy in late June. Here in Alberta, the law states that you must be seizure-free for 6 months after the original one before you can drive again. This meant I struggled for months trying to find a way to and from work, which caused me a ton of stress. On top of that, I was offered a layoff package at the same time I was doing all the medical tests. I love my day job and shed lots of tears, along with countless panic attacks. Luckily, the package was voluntary and I am still in my position, although I now fear that the tables may turn at work again.

With that said, I have taken these lemons and made lemonade, so to speak! In order to ensure I never have another seizure, I switched over to the Ketogenic lifestyle, which was used to treat seizure disorders in the 1920s and 1930s before anti-seizure meds were developed. If you're not familiar with it, here is some information on Keto, and the health benefits attached to it. What it does mean is that in order to stay in my net carbs range, (total carbs - fiber) I do have to cut down on the wine drinking. However, with only 1.9g of net carbs per glass, I turned to Prosecco in the fall! I love the floral aromas, and can imbibe a little more as the price point is much lower than Champagne (not that there's anything wrong with Champagne!) Stay tuned for a blog post on my Prosecco tastings in 2018!

When it comes to the wine world, 2017 became the year of the Winemaker for me. I toured and tasted my way through the Lake Chelan, WA wine region, as well as the Osoyoos & Oliver "Golden Mile" VQA of the Okanagan. I received my first ever bottle sample, and had private tours and tastings of Tsillan Cellars, Moon Curser Vineyards and Ex Nihilo Winery. This really helped me through an otherwise stressful time in my life. And of course, tasting lots of wines helped too!

Each year I release a list of the top wines I've tasted in 2017. Just as in previous years, I'm changing up the lists. I'm adding a category named "Social Media Wineries of the Year", dedicated to the wineries that regularly engage and communicate with their followers. I'm also adding a "Wine Blogger of the Year" category with my recommendations on some of my favourite wine blogs that I follow.

Top Red Wines of 2017

This year was all about high-priced red blends, with the exception of this beautiful Cab Sauv from Napa. Price points in CDN range between $45 and $70, but are so worth the splurge!

1. Chateau Cantemerle 2010: AOC Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France

2. Domaine de Nalys 2008: AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France

3. Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2011: Napa Valley, California

4. Laughingstock Winery Portfolio 2007: Naramata Bench, Okanagan, BC


Top White Wines of 2017

Napa Valley takes the top white of the year, ending France's reign from past years. Germany nabs 2nd place, France makes its usual appearance, and Greece rounds out the list. All of these wines are priced at under $50, with Stag's Leap's Viognier priced around $30 CDN!

1. Stag's Leap Viognier 2014: Napa Valley, California

2. Dr Zenzen Auslese Riesling 2006: Mosel, Germany

3. Pfaffenheim Gewurztraminer 2014: AOC Alsace, France

4. Domaine Sigalas Santorini 2012: Santorini, Greece


Top Value Wines of 2017

This year is all about the easy-to-find bottles, at or under the $20 price mark. Chile continues to dominate this category from years past - don't pass the Chilean section the next time you are in your local wine store, I promise you won't be disappointed!

1. Chateau Laulerie Malbec 2015: AOC Bergerac, France

2. Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2012: DO Puente Alto, Chile

3. 14 Hands Pinot Gris 2014: Columbia Valley AVA, Washington

4. Cono Sur Bicycleta Viognier 2016: Colchagua, Chile


Top Wine and Food Pairings 2017

1. Ex Nihilo Merlot with Dark Chocolate (Lake Country, Okanagan, BC)

2. Gerard Bertrand "La Clape" 2013 with Braised Chicken Thighs in Mushroom Sauce (AOC Languedoc, France)

3. Bodegas Beronia Rioja Reserva 2012 with Grilled Lamb Chops (Rioja, Spain)

4. King Estates Pinot Gris 2013 with Shrimp & Bacon Scampi (Eugene, Oregon)


Social Media Wineries of the Year

1. Cono Sur Vineyards and Winery - Chile

2. Bodega Vivanco - Rioja, Spain

3. Moon Curser Vineyards - Osoyoos, BC

4. Mezzacorona Wine - Trentino, Italy


Top Wine Blogs to Follow

1. The Corkscrew Concierge - Kat, a lawyer based out of Houston, does a tremendous job with wine tasting notes, wine and food pairings, and dining recommendations.

2. Tuscan Vines - John Fodera takes you on a wine-fueled journey through Italy, with detailed, yet comprehensible tasting notes. He also provides gourmet recipes to pair with the Italian gems he reviews!

3. Wine and Cheese Friday - Looking for that perfect wine and cheese pairing? Maria has a recommendation for you! She provides tasting notes on both wine and cheese, and offers a wine and cheese day calendar that you can add to your google account or Outlook calendar, so you don't miss a day to celebrate!

4. BC Wine Trends - Julian Park is THE #1 source for information on wines from his home region, in my opinion. BC Wine Trends includes local wine region news, wine & winery statistics, and recommendations on Okanagan wines.


So what's next for this year? I've decided to name 2018 as my "Year of Cremant", pillaging all my local wine stores for as many as I can find. Why not, the price is right! There are also possibilities for more wine tasting travels, and potentially returning to wine school to obtain my level 1 Sommelier certificate!

Finally, I'd like to thank you all for following my wine journey throughout 2017 and from past years as well. I wish you all the greatest success, joy, health and happiness in 2018.

Cheers!









Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Food & Wine Pairing with Ex Nihilo Vineyards

Every once in awhile a bottle of wine will come along and stop you in your tracks, take your breath away, and make you want to hug or compliment the winemaker (if you happen to find yourself in their presence). This mind-blowing moment happened to me in late February, when I tasted Ex Nihilo's Merlot at our local Winefest trade show. I still remember it's lush flavour profile of ripe red fruit and smoky undertones, it's smooth mouthfeel and racy finish. It turned out that Jay Paulson, the mastermind behind the bottle, was there and not only did I compliment him, I also hugged him to show my sincerity!


I reunited with Jay in late August for a one-of-a-kind wine tasting in the Ex Nihilo cellars, complete with food pairings. This is what was waiting for me when I arrived:


Meaning "Out of Nothing", the name Ex Nihilo winery was inspired by a sculpture bearing the same name on the Washington, DC, Cathedral. Jay, along with his lifelong friend Jeff and wife Decoa, ventured into Lake Country, BC in 2003, and purchased 10 acres of land in 2004. The first vines were planted in 2007, and the winery officially opened in 2010. A former cattle rancher, Jay was thrown into the chaos of winemaking. With that said, sometimes the greatest things come out of chaos, and the wines crafted by Jay are all an excellent example of that. Although I tasted the majority of the 2015 wine portfolio, I'm providing the notes for my favourite wines of the tasting...or else I'd be writing forever!

The 2015 Chaos Bianco carries notes of apple jelly, honeysuckle, and lime curd framed by spicy acidity and a long, sultry finish. A well-structured blend of 50% Riesling, 25% Gewurztraminer and 25% Pinot Gris, this gem pairs well with mild curries, pasta primavera and light cheeses.


Thanks to cooling lake breezes and shale-like soils similar to Burgundy, Pinot Noir grows very well in Lake Country. The 2016 Pinot Noir Reserve opens with aromas of cherry preserves that carry through to a spicy palate of forest floor and vanilla, due to aging in 30% American oak. The plush mouthfeel continues through the elegant finish. 


And of course, the 2015 Merlot stole my heart with an ever-evolving flavour profile of ripe red fruit, black cherries and a hint of charred cedar. Cocoa tannins and racy acidity round out the smooth, full body, ending in a long, complex finish. I paired the Merlot with a heart of dark chocolate, and it seriously melted my actual heart! The full body of the Merlot complemented the weight of the dark chocolate perfectly, and the succulent mouthfeel married beautifully with the cocoa notes in the chocolate.


If you find yourself in Lake Country, BC, make sure to stop by Ex Nihilo for a tasting and perhaps even a bite at the Chaos Bistro. I promise, you won't be disappointed!

My sincere and humble thank you to Jay Paulson for setting up an amazing afternoon of wine tasting, food pairings, and excellent conversation. This is a day I will cherish as long as I live.

Cheers!
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