Sunday, January 5, 2020

My Top Wines of 2019

Happy New Year - and decade, everyone!

I found myself reminiscing over the entire decade as 2019 drew to a close. If I could sum up my twenty-teens in one word, it would be passion. I found so much of it within the past 10 years:

January 2010 - Started a new day job position in Airport Operations - Airside Services. This spawned my passion for aviation and the behind-the-scenes magic of airfield operations that continues to this day. I would remain in this position for 8 years.

March 2011 - My husband and I travelled throughout France and tasted our way through the Bordeaux, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Champagne regions. While there, I learned about the WSET courses, as well as tasting the legendary Krug Clos du Mesnil vintage 1998 Champagne, kicking off my passion for wine and the deep desire to learn as much about it as I can. This photo was taken minutes before my first sip:



Feb 2012 - My first daughter was born. Although it was tough at times to adjust to life with a newborn at first (no one can truly prepare you for your firstborn IMO!), I experienced a deep love like no other for this beautiful human that we created.

July 2013 - Took WSET Level 3/Advanced. My course instructor made it very clear to me that she felt I didn't deserve to be there as I didn't work in the industry and that I hadn't tasted enough great wine. Her treatment of me in the course motivated me to make a name for myself and further fuelled my desire to prove her wrong. I passed WSET with distinction and re-branded myself in 2014 as the Wine Concubine, a blog that she apparently knows about. What that means, I don't know, but I consider my goal here as completed.

December 2015 - My second daughter was born and I spent 2016 on maternity leave from work to be with her, and I truly enjoyed every second of that year! My passion for my children grew immensely and I can't imagine my life now without my children in it.

August & October 2018 - Quite possibly the biggest year of growth for me in my entire life. Internal corporate restructuring forced me to leave the job I loved deeply and transfer to a new position within the company. Before the position transfer occurred, my husband and I jetted off to Europe to explore the Pfalz, Ahr and Alsace wine regions. Alsace is my go-to region when I'm drinking whites and Cremants, and getting to be in the heart of the region deepened my passion for wine and travelling to as many regions as possible on my own Bucket List.
On October 9, I started in my new position within the airport terminal and develop a new passion; not only for helping make our airport be the best it can be for our passengers, but also to grow my own career and chase a project management designation in 2020! 

Now to 2019's Wines of the Year! Since 2013, I've been putting together a list of my personal favourite wines tasted within the past year. It's a good way for me to remember my favourites, and perhaps you find some new wines or food & wine pairings on my list to try. Here we go:

Top Red Wines

As my tasting journey continues, I've found that the average price I spend on a bottle of red wine has increased quite a bit. On any given day I find myself spending $30-$35 CDN/bottle on reds, and this list includes bottles that exceed that price point. They are, however, worth the splurge! Australian Cab Sauvs have been stealing my heart as of late and the Bleasdale retails around the $20 price point!    

1. Abbazia Santa Anastasia Litra - Sicilia IGT, Italy

2. Domaine de Beaurenard - Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC, France

3. Domaine Jacques Prieur Beaune-Greves Premier Cru - AOC Burgundy, France

Honourable Mentions

1. Wynn's Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon - Coonawarra, Australia

2. Bleasdale Mulberry Tree Cabernet Sauvignon - Langhorne Creek, Australia

Top Whites

This year seemed to be the “Year of the White Wine” as the list of my most memorable whites almost tripled the list of my Top Reds! These wines are also easier on the wallet than the reds above, ranging in price from $20 CDN (Nk'Mip) to $40 for the Eden Valley and Rioja offerings.

1. Penfolds Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling - Eden Valley, Australia

2. Conde de los Andes Blanco - Rioja, Spain

3. Domaine Eugene Meyer Riesling - AOC Alsace, France

4. Nk'Mip Pinot Blanc - VQA Okanagan, Canada

Top Sparkling Wines

You are reading this correctly, I ranked an Alsatian Cremant ahead of an authentic Champagne! I have been very vocal online about my belief in the quality and value of the Cremants from other French regions; taste them yourself side by side to see what your palate thinks! 

1. Domaine Gustavo Lorentz Cremant d'Alsace Brut - Alsace, France

2. Moet & Chandon Champagne - AOC Champagne, France

3. Naveran Cava Brut, Vintage 2016 - Spain

Top Values

White wines swept the category this year. So many great values to be had, ranging from an off-dry blend to complex, full-bodied whites. I encourage those of you who swear to hate white wines to give some of these a try!

1. Domaine Hugel Gentil White Blend - AOC Alsace, France

2. Amalaya Torrontes-Riesling - Salta, Argentina

3. Fairview Cellars “Goats do Roam” White Blend - Western Cape, South Africa

4. Kono Sauvignon Blanc - Marlborough, New Zealand

Top Food and Wine Pairings

The Okanagan wine region in Canada produces outstanding food-friendly wines that pair extremely well with local dishes and this list truly reflects that. Hopefully one day the rest of the world will get to know these wines; for now, I recommend you visit both Alberta and British Columbia to see our natural beauty, Canadian hospitality, unique local food, and exquisite wines.

1. Laughingstock Syrah with Elk Striploin Steak (Okanagan, BC)

2. Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs Brut with Goats Cheese Gougeres (North Coast, California)

3. Bernard-Massard Cuvee de l'Ecusson Brut Rose with Spring Parmesan Frittata (Moselle, Luxembourg)

4. Wild Goose Vineyards Gewurztraminer with Roast Turkey (Okanagan, BC)

Wineries of the Year

I like to recognize the wineries that interact with their followers on social media, as well as produce quality wines. After almost a decade on social media, I find this is still the exception rather than the rule. These wineries do an excellent job of both:

1. J. Lohr Wines - Paso Robles, California. IG and Twitter: @jlohrwines

2. Wild Goose Vineyards - Okanagan Falls, BC, Canada IG: @wildgoosewine 
Twitter: @wildgoosewines

3. Vino Montefioralle - Tuscany, Italy Twitter: @MontefioralleWi  Facebook: Here

So what's next for 2020? I'm excited to announce a new format coming to my blog posts. I found that writing essay-style long articles was becoming less enjoyable for me to write. The new format will consist of 3 mini-segments in each post, which will hopefully allow me to write more frequently. 
Stay tuned!

Wishing you all the best in the year - and decade - ahead! May your glass be full of good wine, and your heart be full of happiness and joy. Cheers! 

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