Monday, October 15, 2018

Cremant Tour de France Final Stage: Cremant de Bourgogne

Summer has now left Alberta and replaced it with a record setting 32.8cm snowfall on October 2! YUCK! Now that my palate is naturally craving the warmth of red wine, it's time to wrap up my Cremant Tour de France mini-series. The last stop? Burgundy.

Burgundy 's homeland grapes are the same as the varietals required for crafting Champagne: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In fact, the Cremant de Bourgogne appellation takes their vinification seriously: only hand-harvesting the grapes, utilising the same pressing process as in Champagne, and you must declare your production of Cremant in March, just before the growing season begins! The fruits of these labors are evident in the glass: elegantly structured, refined in style, and punches well above their weight when it comes to QPR!



I kicked off the warm weather season this year with Henri de Villamont Brut Blanc de Blancs. Composed solely of Chardonnay, this wine boasted abundant autolytic flavours of toasted hazelnuts and brioche, with an appealing hint of banana custard towards the long finish. Bright and lively mouthfeel, I enjoyed it immensely on its own!



The Bailly Lapierre Cremant de Bourgogne contains an intriguing blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Aligote and Gamay Noir, creating a palate of green apple, stony minerality, and freshly baked bread. Surprisingly delicate bubbles, but a bright acidity and citrus finish keep a well-structured balance. An excellent choice for weeknight bubbly!



The final bottle of my Cremant Tour de France was the same as my first glass ever of Cremant: Louis Bouillot Rose. Prominent notes of strawberries, raspberries and mandarin oranges, refreshing acidity, a bright mouthfeel and a true joy to sip! I prefer to enjoy this gem on its own-over, and over, and over again!

I truly enjoyed tasting my way through the Cremants of France, no matter what appellation they are from! They are an excellent alternative to Champagne when you don't want to spend a fortune, and pair extremely well with an array of food. The next time you feel like imbibing in bubbly, why not give a Cremant a try? You won't be disappointed.

I would love for you to share your Cremant tastings with me, either by commenting on this post or through the hashtag #cremanttourdefrance on twitter. I hope you enjoy your sips as much as I enjoyed mine.

Until next time, cheers all!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Cremant Tour de France Stage 3: Alsace

Now that Stages 1 & 2 of my Cremant tour de France are complete, I celebrated Stage 3 by tasting my way through the Cremants of Alsace, in person! 

Located on the eastern border with Germany, Alsace contains 15,621 hectares of vineyards. (Source: backinalsace.com). Approximately 23.3% of grapes harvested from the vineyards are used to make Cremant d'Alsace bubbly. In 2017, 32,125 bottles of Cremant wine were made, 80% of which remained in France due to domestic demand! 

Our first stop along our tasting journey was Domaine Klipfel, in the small town of Barr.


The estate was founded in 1824 by Martin Klipfel. In 1830, he procured the prestigious Clos Zisser vineyard, which is used today for their Vendage Tardive (late-harvest) and Selection de Grains Nobles (grapes affected by "Noble Rot", botrytis, made into lusciously sweet dessert-style wines). Klipfel crafts their Cremants in the Methode Traditionelle style, using Chardonnay and Pinot Noir either as single-varietal bottles, or a mix of the two.


Klipfel's Blanc de Noirs Cremant d'Alsace opens up with a nose of green apples and continues into a palate of lemon zest and steely minerality. The bubbles were aggressive up front, but settled down into a creamy mousse mid-palate, leading into a clean finish.

I am all about the high quality and the unique, sometimes extraordinary quality that comes from smaller, lesser-known producers. Located in the small Alsatian town of Heiligenstein, Domaine J.L. Schwartz lives up to this quality!


Our tasting at J.L Schwartz started off with their Cremant d'Alsace Brut Rose. A lively bouquet composed of strawberries and navel oranges, intertwines with refreshing acidity and delicate mousse on the palate to create a delightful mouthfeel. Unfortunately, the finish dropped off rather quickly, but it did make me want to take more sips quicker to compensate!   


The standout Cremant of the day for both my husband and I was the Brut Chardonnay! The varietal's flavour profile is well represented here, with an intriguing blend of underripe banana and navel oranges along with stony minerality. There is a lively mouthfeel that doesn't overpower, full of delicate mousse and refreshing acidity. Very elegant in style, and very approachable!


Our day of Cremant tasting ended at Domaine Julien Dopff au Moulin. Regarded as one of the pioneers of Cremant d'Alsace, Julien Dopff attended the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, where he learned about "Methode Champenoise". He made it his mission to experiment with Alsatian varietals, and Dopff au Moulin now dedicates a considerable amount of their wine portfolio to Cremant d'Alsace bubbly.

The Dopff au Moulin Rose expresses more autolytic notes than other Cremants d'Alsace I have tasted. But it doesn't overpower the abundant flavours of underripe red fruit on the palate, the creamy mousse, or the bright acidity. Very well-structured and refreshing!



Finally, the 2013 Blanc de Noirs Brut marries notes of dried red fruit and toasted almonds with crisp acidity and aggressive, but not off-putting mousse. Very elegant in style, and very food-friendly.

Cremant d'Alsace offers a variety of sparkling wine created in the Methode Traditionelle, yet can also express a wide array of flavour profiles. There are many excellent Cremants available throughout the world, and even though only 20% of all bottles are exported, you will likely find a variety of Cremants available in your local wine stores.

Stay tuned as I wrap up my Cremant Tour de France later this month with Cremant de Bourgogne!    



Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Tour & Tasting at Weingut Geheimer Rat Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan



Deep in the heart of the Pfalz wine country, located just off the famous “Weinstrasse” (wine street), a 300 year-old estate watches over the nearby vineyards in anticipation of the upcoming harvest. The Weingut Geheimer Rat Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan has created a legacy of internationally acclaimed Rieslings within a small town called Deidesheim. I was fortunate to receive a tour and tasting at the estate with Sebastian Wandt, Sales Manager, in late August.


Our tour started with a drive into the vineyards where Bassermann-Jordan grows their grapes. The estate owns plots of vines within 10 "Erste Lage" (the equivalent to Premier Cru) and 10 "Grosse Lage" (Grand Cru equivalent) vineyards. This year was very hot, with little precipitation – very similar to the 2003 growing season. Harvest will be starting extra early this season; the week after my visit, in fact, to ensure the grapes are at optimum ripeness and to maximize concentration in the resulting wines. 

From there, we returned to the estate for a tasting. I was surprised to learn that Sauvignon Blanc is gaining momentum within the Pfalz region.


Bassermann Jordann’s Sauv Blanc is abundant with tropical fruits like underripe pineapple and passion fruit, alongside nuances of the traditional grassy notes towards the finish. Refreshing acidity and a clean finish make this wine perfect for those who prefer a more fruit-forward style of Sauvignon Blanc.

A drier style of Riesling is generally preferred within the community of the Pfalz, and this 2017 Deidesheimer Kieselberg Riesling represents this style well with racy acidity, and stony minerality mid-palate. Combined with a complex flavour profile of white peach, melon and a hint of tropical fruit, this is a must-try for anyone who loves dry Riesling!


My personal favourite of the tasting was the 2017 Deidesheimer Leinhole Riesling Spatlese. Incredibly fresh and clean, with ample stone fruit aromas, bright acidity and honeyed stone fruit leading into a long, lush finish. The wine is on the sweeter side as Spatlese means "Late Harvest", but not cloyingly sweet at all. This Riesling will pair extremely well with desserts like strudels and fruit pies, and is equally as delectable on its own!


From there, we journeyed into the cellar. Built in 1822, the cellar has expanded as the estate grew in both side and wine production. A full library containing wines of each vintage from 1880 onward is contained here, and is also fully functional with stainless steel tanks and aging racks for the winemaking process. 

Bassermann-Jordan's wines are widely available internationally and through North America and offer a wide range of Rieslings that will fit your palate, as well as other varietals including Sauvignon Blanc, Spatburgunder, even Sekt! Special thanks to Sebastian for the tour and tasting. I wish Bassermann-Jordann a successful harvest, and a successful vintage in their wines!

Cheers!


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Cremant Tour de France Stages 1 & 2: Cremant de Limoux & Cremant de Bordeaux

I really need to start blogging more often.

The Tour de France is almost over already, and although I won't be making it past an estimated stage 5 (pending the amount of Cremants I can find from the Loire Valley in my area), I feel like I am way behind. Life has been crazy hectic in the Concubine household for the past few months: my husband was studying for an exam he wrote in late June and I solo parented so he could focus on studying, and then a plethora of visitors visited the unofficial "Concubine B&B" (now that would be one heck of a name for a B&B!) for a few weeks afterwards. Now that life is calming down a bit, I finally have time to kick off my #cremanttourdefrance and share my tastings!

I decided to start Stage 1 in the Limoux AOP. Located 25km south of the village of Carcassonne, the climate here is influenced by cooling breezes from the Atlantic Ocean, and four varied terroir styles due to its proximity to the Pyrenees foothills. Limoux is also the birthplace of a grape varietal called Mauzac, which is credited to have created the first sparkling wine by the monks of St-Hilaire in 1531. Because of this, Limoux is best known for its sparkling wines. Cremant de Limoux bubblies are generally made using a blend of up to 90% Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Secondary grape varietals like Mauzac and Pinot Noir are allowed in the blend to a maximum of 20% (Pinot Noir is allowed up to 10%). Cremant de Limoux is vinified using "Methode Traditionelle", which means that a second fermentation occurs within the bottle, the same way official Champagne is crafted. 

One of the most prominent wineries to craft Cremant de Limoux is Domaine Delmas, located 20 minutes south of Limoux in the village of Antugnac. Their focus is on both Cremant and Blanquette de Limoux wines, but also vinify a still Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.



The Cuvee des Sacres Delmas is composed of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Mauzac. Honeyed notes of banana, melon, and a hint of toasted almonds dance on the palate. The bracing acidity on this cremant, as well as the aggressive mousse, pairs well with rich cheeses and seafood in cream sauce. But don't let the intensity fool you; this gem is very approachable and easy to drink!

Limoux is also known for creating another type of bubbly named "Blanquette de Limoux". Blanquette wines are vinified from the Mauzac grape, with a bit of Chardonnay blended in. The wine is aged for 8 months on its lees in old oak barrels. 


The 2011 Cuvee Memoire Blanquette de Limoux also starts off with aromas of honeyed stone fruits, but the flavour profile changes to green apple, lime zest and a strong, steely backbone on the palate. Delicate bubbles (aka "mousse") and crisp, yet refreshing acidity round out the mouthfeel, leading to a strong finish. I enjoyed the Cuvee Memoire on a hot summer's evening, relaxing on my back deck. It was the perfect pairing!

From there, my tour traveled east to Bordeaux. Cremant de Bordeaux was established as an appellation in 1990. The wine varietals allowed in the blend are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Ugni Blanc, Colombard, and Muscadelle, creating a more unique flavour profile than what can be found in other Cremant appellations.



And a very unique flavour profile was delivered with the Xavier Milhade Cremant de Bordeaux! A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle, prominent floral aromas lead into notes of navel oranges and cantaloupe melon, encased in a mineral mid-palate. The acidity was racy, with delicate mousse. This wine was a treat for me as Cremant de Bordeaux wines are very hard to find in my location!

Now that I have cycled through the better part of Southern France, it's time to head north towards the Loire Valley. Stay tuned for Stage 3, in the coming few weeks!  

Cheers! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Tour of Southern Rhone Reds

In the spring of 2011, My husband and I were fortunate enough to tour and taste our way through Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Rasteau. From the moment I stepped into the vineyards of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, I immediately fell in love with the region.

Photo taken outside of Moulin de la Gardette's Tasting Room, Gigondas, March 2011.

There are so many reasons to fall in love with the Southern Rhone wine region of France: The Mediterranean climate, the history and architecture, the local cuisine, and of course, the wine! The Southern Rhone encompasses a large area of sub-appellations, as per the map below:

My apologies for the not-so-good photo, this was taken off of one of my wine posters hung in my basement.


My father is also a huge fan of Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines, but hasn't had a lot of experience with the other sub-appellations. So when he came for a visit in mid-April, we dipped into my wine cellar, pillaged one of our local wine stores, and performed a "taste-off" to see which sub-appellation(s) we liked best.



1. Famille Perrin Vacqueyras "Les Christins" 2015

Concentrated and complex, with notes of cranberries, red cherries, baking spice and a hint of the tell-tale fleshiness that Southern Rhone wines are known for (my WSET Adv teacher referred to them as "Chateauneuf-du-poop" because she's classy like that). Bright acidity and velvety tannins make this beauty very approachable. You could enjoy Les Christins on its own, but it also pairs spectacularly with heavier red meats like sirloin tip beef roast.



2. Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2015

I was fortunate enough to obtain 2 of the last bottles in my local area after this wine was ranked 5th overall on Wine Spectator's Top 100 List of 2017. Smooth and lush mouthfeel, consisting of red cherry, leather, cigar box and medicinal hints. The acidity is still fairly sharp but the tannins are soft and well-integrated into the body. This baby needs at least 1 hour in the decanter to open up, and she'll need a good 7 years minimum in the cellar, but still reflects the true flavour profile of a Southern Rhone red wine. My second bottle won't see the light of day for another decade, I'm excited to see how the wine develops!




The nose opens up to ripe blackberries and barnyard aromas. Ground cloves and a charcoal finish join the palate, along with focused tannins and mouthwatering acidity. Sadly, the charcoal finish falls off rather quickly. This wine did not speak to my palate, but my dad and husband thought it was decent! Definitely worth tasting.




This wine is showing its age with aromas of dried cherries and dried tobacco. However, the palate still shows bright acidity and a long, lively finish. A flavour profile that includes a hint of smoke and a charcoal backbone adds complexity and depth to the rich body. Absolutely stunning, and if you can find this vintage, worth the splurge (estimated price in CDN is $42).

There were a few other bottles we tasted from the AOC Cotes du Rhone and Rasteau; however, they did not make the short list for this blog post.

It was almost unanimous, but the surprising favourite of our tasting tour is...

Famille Perrin "Les Christins" Vacqueyras! 

Here is how we ranked our top 4 choices:

Sara's Rankings                                                                Dad's & Husband's Rankings

1. Domaine Barville CNDP 2009                                      1. Famille Perrin Vacqueyras 2015
2. Famille Perrin Vacqueyras 2015                                   2. Domaine Barville CNDP 2009
3. Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2015                    3. Chateau Pesquie Terrasses Ventoux 2015
4. Chateau Pesquie Terrasses Ventoux 2015                   4. Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2015

We may not return to the Southern Rhone anytime soon, but our fond memories of the region and our love for their wines will stay with us forever. And we can always buy more Rhone wines anytime we like!

So what's next for the Wine Concubine? It's time to start my major tasting project of the year; I'll be conducting a "Cremant Tour de France" over the next few months, ending in Colmar, France with Cremant d'Alsace! Stay tuned, up first is Cremant de Bourgogne!

Cheers!




Friday, April 27, 2018

The Expressions of Pinot Noir Through the Okanagan Wine Region

When I started my wine education journey, I was in love with Pinot Noir. Almost every wine I purchased was Pinot Noir. But as I began to learn about Burgundian wine, I realized that I couldn't afford most everything outside of AOC Bourgogne. I became frustrated and abandoned my love for Pinot Noir. In fact, I was so frustrated that I almost wrote a blog post about why Burgundy turned me off of Pinot altogether!

Some of the people I discuss wine with on Twitter (aka my "Tweeps") have been drinking a lot of Pinot Noir lately, much of it from New World regions like New Zealand and California. Their tasting notes inspired me to revisit more affordable Pinots, and where better for me to start than my personal favourite, the Okanagan region of Canada!

There are 7 sub-regions within the Okanagan Valley: Osoyoos, The Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Falls, The Naramata Bench, Peachland/Summerland, and Kelowna/Lake Country. Each sub-region reflects different nuances with respect to climate and terroir; therefore, the flavour profiles of Pinots from each sub-regions will likely express themselves differently. I set out to discover how each Pinot Noir expresses itself within most of these sub-regions. 


Located close to one of the only desert micro-climates in Canada, I was intrigued to see how the "diva grape" would fare in a terroir consisting of deep, sandy soils fed by glacial meltwater deposits. I was pleasantly surprised! Approachable yet complex and elegant in style, Burrowing Owl's 2015 Pinot Noir opens with notes of wild strawberry, dusted with hints of fresh herbs and baking spice. A silky smooth body leads into a bright cranberry finish. The wine was an amazing pairing with mushroom and garlic burgers with caramelized onions and wilted spinach!






Tasting notes contributed by Julian Park, BCWineTrends.com:
"This medium-bodied Pinot is as smooth as velvet. The estate Pinot Noir features delicate hints of ripe cherries and raspberries, vanilla bean, and the minerality distinctive to the high-altitude Okanagan Falls vineyard. Finished in Tuscan concrete tanks creating a textured savoury mouthfeel. My favourite pairing is with BBQ salmon. 13.5% alcohol."

3. Naramata Bench - Bench 1775 Pinot Noir 2014


A soil composition of lime-rich silt and cooling lake breezes on the Naramata Bench create an ideal climate and terroir for early ripening red grapes like Pinot Noir. Bench 1775 uses this to their advantage by crafting a refreshing and juicy Pinot, abundant with red fruit flavours and silky, fine-grained tannins. A small amount of Syrah (6.4%) adds in a spicy element, which you'll find from mid-palate through the lively finish. I enjoyed this Pinot on it's own, and plan to enjoy it again and again in the future!


4. Kelowna - Sperling Vineyards Pinot Noir 2015



Tasting notes contributed by Julian Park, BCWineTrends.com: 

"Alcohol 12.5%, pH: 3.68, TA: 5.3g/L. Hand harvested in October from Dijon clones 114, 777, and 828; sorted and co-fermented in small lots. After a gentle pressing, the wine was aged in large format barrels. This is a bold Pinot Noir, the result of the hot 2015 East Kelowna summer. Aromas of violets and jammy plum and flavours of ripe raspberries and spicy black cherries. The texture is silky." 

5. Lake Country - Ex Nihilo Pinot Noir 2016




The soil in the Ex Nihilo vineyards contain limestone with some shale, ideal for the growth of Pinot Noir grapes. Ex Nihilo's 2016 PN offering boasts complex aromas of red fruit, forest floor, and a hint of asparagus. These flavours continue into the palate, along with silky smooth tannins and refreshing acidity with a hint of zip. This acidity stays bright through the fresh raspberry finish. This wine is extremely food friendly and would be an excellent pairing with tapenade-stuffed pork tenderloin, among other earthy style dishes. I sampled this beauty at the winery last August. Click here to learn more about Ex Nihilo Vineyards, winemaker Jay Paulson, and their wine portfolio.

It was very interesting to discover that each sub-region shows a slightly different flavour profile on their Pinot Noirs, but the structural consistency and quality remains very high throughout the Okanagan wine region. Price points range between $30 and $40 CDN, but worth the slight splurge!
It's nice to know that I can still taste some excellent Pinot Noirs close to home with some great QPR.

So what's next for the Wine Concubine? I tasted a wide variety of red wines from the Southern Rhone throughout the past month when my dad came to visit. I'll be sharing our notes, and revealing our surprise favourite of the tasting. Stay tuned!

Cheers!















Monday, March 26, 2018

A Food and Champagne Pairing with Veuve Clicquot

It was a cloudy and cold day in Calgary when six wine writers gathered at the Yellow Door Bistro to pair some of Veuve Clicquot's most food-friendly champagnes with gastronomic lunch delights. The dreary weather outside did not affect the air of excitement at our table as we were joined by Veuve's passionate, vibrant winemaker, Bertrand Varoquier.


Born and raised in Reims, Bertrand was naturally drawn to Champagne. He graduated with a degree in Oenology at the Universite Reims Champagne Ardenne in 2002 and has since worked as a winemaker in the Loire Valley, Chablis (Burgundy), as well as two other Champagne houses. He started at Veuve Clicquot in 2013, with a focus on red wine vinification. Stout beers like Guinness are his drink of choice when he is not drinking wine, and he travels 6-8 weeks out of the year to share both is passion as well as the spirit of the house all over the world! To learn more about Veuve Clicquot's history and vinification methods, click here.


First Course: Pork Hock & Apricot Press, with Veuve Clicquot Extra Old Extra Brut


A creamy, rich mouthfeel is what sets the Extra Old Extra Brut champagne apart from the others in Veuve Clicquot's line. Prominent notes of toasted brioche, toasted almonds and a hint of lemon zest make this champagne extremely food-friendly. The succulent acidity married really well with the richness of the pork hock and the apricot press enhanced the subtle fruit flavours in the champagne nicely. This was easily my favourite pairing of the luncheon, and I can't wait to try out some different food pairings with the Extra Old Extra Brut in the future!

Second Course: Poached B.C. Sablefish, West Coast Oyster Veloute with VC Vintage Brut 2008


The 2008 harvest was considered one of the best growing seasons for the "delicate diva" grape, Pinot Noir, creating Veuve Cliquot's 65th vintage champagne in house history. A blend of 61% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Meunier brings forth a delicate palate of green apple, lemon zest, almonds mid-palate and just a hint of the yeasty flavours the house is known for. This vintage is best paired with delicately-flavoured foods such as scallops, whitefish and crab. Unfortunately, this pairing was my least favourite of the luncheon. The veloute sauce was very heavy, and drowned out the delicate body and flavours of the champagne. I ended up saving my glass for after the main course so I could truly appreciate the beautiful flavour profile on its own.

Third Course: Whipped Almond Panna Cotta, Rhubarb Ravioli with Veuve Clicquot Rich


Veuve Clicqot has a new, cocktail-style champagne that they crafted last year in 2017. The focus of Rich (pronounced "REEsh") is to enjoy a more fresh, lighter style of champagne. The best way to enjoy Rich is to serve over ice, infused with mixology-style garnishes such as pineapple, ginger, and bell pepper. Rich is ideal for hot summer days, patio parties, and would be a great accompaniment for a romantic picnic lunch! This gem paired wonderfully with the dessert, with the stone fruit notes complementing the strawberry and rhubarb flavours. The acidity of the champagne played nicely with the rich flavours of the dish, and cleansed the palate perfectly. I left the luncheon well satisfied, with the lingering tastes and memories burned into my memory! Click here to learn more about Veuve Clicquot Rich.

Luncheons like these also bring together a network of like-minded people, and I was pleased to connect with fellow wine writers Peter Vetsch, and Raymond Lamontagne. Peter's blog is titled Pop & Pour, click here to read his well-written tasting notes, as well as the other local wine events he has attended.

Special thanks to Jordan Cameron at Moet-Hennessy, Christy and all the staff at Hotel Arts/Yellow Door Bistro, and especially to Bertrand Varoquier of Veuve Clicquot for bringing some much needed sunshine into my life during this long, cold winter!

Cheers everyone!

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!









;