Showing posts with label Rioja. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rioja. Show all posts

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! 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

A Romance with Rioja

I am in love with Spanish wine, especially Rioja.

This isn't the first time I've shared this sentiment, and I'm sure it won't be the last time, either! Wines from Rioja reflect high quality and craftsmanship, while offering accessibility for all wine lovers at reasonable prices. 

On Thursday, February 21, I was fortunate enough to attend a Wines of Rioja reception in preparation for one of Calgary's largest annual wine festivals, aptly named Winefest. Winemakers and Rioja representatives came together to share their passion and knowledge of this prestigious region with local wine media, writers and bloggers such as myself. Here are my personal standout wines of the tasting:




The Conde de los Andes Blanco 2015 is composed entirely of the Viura varietal. An intriguing vibrant gold colour in the glass, melon and vanilla aromas invite you in to a complex palate that also offers notes of kiwifruit, fresh pear and a hint of white blossom. The tannins are fine-grained and well integrated, with mouthwatering acidity leading into a long, bright finish. This is a stunning sipper that would marry well with a wide variety of savory foods, and has the potential to age in cellar for 5-10 years.


The Valserrano Rioja Reserva 2012 carries a bouquet abundant with red fruit, molasses, and hazelnuts into a body consisting of prominent yet velvety tannins and a smooth, rich body. The uncompromised quality and care the family takes in crafting their wines is clearly evident with each sip. 


The true highlight of the reception was the CVNE Imperial Rioja Reserva 2014. This stunning treasure boasts a lush, full body, silky-smooth tannins and racy acidity, combined with flavours of red currants, plum and black olives. The finish is long and sultry, with a hint of baking spice. Pairs well with a myriad of cheeses and charcuterie, but also fantastic on its own!

The wines I tasted that fabulous, fun February evening reaffirm my love for Spanish wines, and the memories of this wonderful experience will last well into the future. Rioja wines are an excellent choice to bring to a dinner party, curled up in front of the fire on a cold night, or even on a weeknight after a rough day at work! To learn more about the Rioja wine region, its terroir and upcoming events in your area, please visit https://us.riojawine.com/en/

Special thanks to Tiffany Pence, Dhane Chesson and Ana Fabiano for their wonderful hospitality and passion for sharing Rioja wines with the world.

Cheers!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Weekly Wine-Down August 1-7: The Wine in Spain Falls Mainly On My Lips

I used to think that the quality of Spanish wines wasn't comparable to French and Italian wines. I once mentioned this to a fellow winelover at a Vintage Port tasting I attended with him a couple of years ago. He laughed, and said I must try more of them to really appreciate the wine's quality through it's terroir, and "bang for your buck".

I am so glad I listened to him!

Over the past few years, I have found some wonderful Spanish gems, and after focusing on more Spanish wines in the past month, here are some of my personal favourites with a few other producers to try out.

Spain's wine regions spread sporadically throughout the entire country. A wide variety of red, white and rose wines are produced. The most notable regions include:



-Rioja: The most well-known region in Spain, oaked red wines made from grape varietals Tempranillo and Garnacha (aka Grenache) are produced here. The Ribeira del Duero and Toro also feature some wonderful expressions of Tempranillo.
-Jerez: Home of Sherry wine made in a variety of styles
-Catalunya: This is where Spain's signature sparkling wine is produced, called Cava. Some notable wine appellations nearby are Priorat and Montsant, which offer red wines with elegance and structure.
-Rias Baixas: The maritime climate coupled with mineral-rich soil is the perfect homeland for a white wine called Albarino, which carries aromas of stone fruits and melons combined with a mineral structure and zesty finish.

White Wine: Albarino


August 1st was considered "Albarino Day" in the winelovers' world, and my sister-in-law and I celebrated with an interesting take on the varietal. Deep gold in colour, the Pirueta contains aromas of honeydew melon and orange blossom tied into a palate of underripe pear and grapefruit. The body shows more weight than most Albarinos, with a blend of mouthwatering acidity and zesty finish. Pairs extremely well with lighter cheeses like havarti.

Another good Albarino to try is Paco & Lola, which is lighter in style and offers flavours of red apple and crisp citrus. The label is created to catch your eye in store, adorned with black and white polka dots!

Rose Wines



The "dog days of summer" allow for Rose wines to really shine as they pair well with the sunny summer heat. Bodegas Breca delivers a dry rose called Garnacha de Fuego that delivers excellent value perfect for sipping on a hot summer day! Bright and refreshing, with notes of papaya, fresh strawberries and minerality mid-palate. Note: All rose wines should be consumed within 24 hours of opening-otherwise, they lose all their flavour.

Bodegas Muga, based out of the Rioja region, also produces a dry rose that is fuller in body, with concentrated citrus and fresh red berry flavours.

Red Wines: Rioja

And speaking of Rioja, this is the trademark red wine that comes out of Spain. Most are composed of the grape varietals Tempranillo and Garnacha, with Graciano and Mazuelo sometimes blended in. An oaked white blend is also made here; however, I'll focus on the reds this time.

There are 4 types of Rioja red wines: Joven wines are bottled the year after the grapes are harvested, Crianza wines must age for 2 years with 6 months of that in oak barrels, Reserva wines are aged for a minimum of 3 years with 12 months in oak, and Gran Reserva wines must be aged for at least 5 years, including 6 months in oak.


The Beronia Rioja Reserva 2014 is an expressive blend of wild strawberries, red roses, coffee and an earthy note that leads into the long finish. Lively acidity and mocha tannins add structure and complexity. The 2014 is still showing its youth, and would be a wonderful addition to the cellar for another 3-5 years! Pairs well with grilled red meats like lamb chops.

Other Rioja wines to try include Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva and Vina Bujanda Rioja Crianza.

The next time you stop by your local wine store, stop by the Spanish aisle and give some of these value-packed gems a try. I can't say I've ever had a bottle from Spain that I didn't like! You just might find this to be your wine truth as well ;)

Stay tuned for next week's wine-down, when I focus on the Reserve line of Mission Hill's wines.

Cheers!

Monday, December 28, 2015

My Favourite Wines Tasted in 2015

This year is now coming to a close and although 2015 was relatively quiet in my world of wine, it brought much joy and surprise in other facets of life for me. On April 30, I discovered I was pregnant with my second child and in August, I was delighted to learn my baby is a girl! She will make her big arrival on December 30. She had me craving beer most of the pregnancy, future beer lover?

January 1-April 30 still had me busily exploring the world of wine. Some highlights included starting up a tasting group with fellow wine lovers in the late winter/early spring, visiting Jamaica's Appleton Estate Rum Distillery in February and attending a few local tasting events that focused on great value wines. I also made it back to the Okanagan in August and did some wine touring - thank goodness for spit buckets! 

Even with only 4 months of official tasting, I was able to put together a list of wines and pairings that stood out to me during the year. Here are my top wine picks of 2015!

Top Red Wines

Because my drinkable months occurred during the winter, my top picks favour red wines this year.  In fact, there were very few red wines I didn't enjoy in the first 3 months of 2015! The top two wines are priced in the premium category, while the other 3 are priced between $20 and $35 CDN.

1. Burrowing Owl Meritage 2011 - Oliver, British Columbia, Canada 

2. Joseph Phelps Insignia 1996 - Napa, California


4. Silkscarf Malbec Cabernet 2009 - Summerland, British Columbia, Canada


Top White Wines

Spain took the top 1 and 3 spots and French whites, including a Premier Cru, took 2nd and 4th place. All wines are priced under $40 CDN with the exception of the Burgundy, which is premium priced.

1. Bodegas Muga Blanco 2011 - Rioja, Spain



4. Domaine Fouassier Les Romains 2012 - Sancerre, Loire Valley, France 

Because of my shortened "tasting season" this year, I wasn't able to spend as much time with sweet wines, sparkling wines or rose wines and will therefore not be adding these categories to my list this year. However, I did get to experiment with wine and food a fair bit, and here are my top picks for pairings.

Top Wine and Food Pairings

1. Pfaffenheim Gewurztraminer 2013 with Seafood Salad "Louis Style", served in Lettuce Boats

2. Domino Pinot Grigio 2012 with Honey-Lime Marinated Shrimp (v)

3. Tommasi Poggio al Tufo Rompicollo 2011 with Slow-Cooked BBQ Ribs (v)

Honourable Mention; Cameron Hughes Della Robbia semi-sweet Italian Rosso with Wagon Wheels (v)
*Don't knock this pairing until you try it! This pairing is great for camping!

Three of my top wines in the food pairing category happen to be value wines at under $20 per bottle, so my Top Values list is shortened to include the wines mentioned above. Australian Shirazes dominate the list, with a semi-sweet Tokaji clinching 3rd spot and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc rounding out the category. 

Top Values




4. Seven Terraces Sauvignon Blanc 2013 - Marlborough, New Zealand

This year I'm going to introduce 2 new categories: Top Spirits and Top Beers. You might be surprised at the number of Canadian spirits & beers on each list, but in my opinion Canada is really starting to make their mark on the world of spirits, especially in the world of Whisky. The top beers are courtesy of my husband, who tasted approximately 100 beers in 2015!

Top Spirits

1. Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old Rum - St Elizabeth Parrish, Jamaica

2. Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye - Gimli, Manitoba, Canada

3. Eau Claire Distillery Three Point Vodka - Turner Valley, Alberta, Calgary

Top Beers

1. Phillips Longboat Chocolate Porter - Victoria, BC, Canada


3. Delerium Tremens - Belgium 

4. Granville Island Lions Winter Ale - Vancouver, BC, Canada

5. Erdinger Dunkel - Germany


So what's next for 2016? 

I plan to return to wine school through Fine Vintage Ltd and take their Canadian Wine Scholar Certification course in late 2016/early 2017. Therefore, my main focus will be on Canadian wines. Our major trip this year will be back to the Okanagan, where I will sample my way through the region and soak up as much knowledge as I can to study and prepare for the course. I am also hoping to spend some time in the Niagara region, should we make it back to my parents' place in Ontario.

Other regions I plan to focus on include Champagne, California, Italian food and wine pairings and Rioja, Spain. 

Huge thanks to all those who still follow me despite my long absence from the blog and twitter! May you have a 2016 filled with good food, good friends and great wine. Cheers!















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