Showing posts with label champagne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label champagne. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

My Top Wines of 2018

Happy New Year's everyone!

2018 was another year of struggling in my "day job" career at our local airport. Internal company restructuring forced me to move positions in the early Autumn. Although I have now settled into my new position, and have integrated myself well into my new department, there will always be a place in my heart for the position I came from.

With all that said, the true highlight was spending my last few weeks of summer in Europe! We travelled through the Pfalz, Alsace, and the Ahr wine regions, soaking in the view of sun-kissed vineyards, tasting everything we could get our hands on, and indulging in the local dishes that pair so spectacularly with those wines. You can read about my European adventures here and here. Other highlights include attending my first media event, a lunch with winemaker Gerard Bertrand of the Veuve Clicquot champagne house, and my first ever collaboration, a blog post on bcwinetrends.com about one of my favourite wineries in Okanagan region, Moon Curser Vineyards.

Every year since 2013, I've dedicated my first post of the new year to sharing my favourite wines from the previous year. The categories haven't changed as I've decided to keep both the "Social Media Wineries of the Year" and "Wine Bloggers to Follow" lists. There are so many excellent resources out there to learn from!

Top Red Wines of 2018

Sadly, the majority of my top red wines this year came from aging in my cellar, so the actual vintages themselves may not be widely available. However, I do encourage you to try any of these reds should you find any on your local store shelves. Price points range from $30 - $50 CDN, and worth every penny!

1. Domaine Barville "Brotte" 2009: Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France

2. Campo al Mare Bolgheri 2007: Tuscany, Italy

3. Stargroves Petite Sirah 2008: Paso Robles, California

4. Bench 1775 Cabernet Franc 2014: Okanagan, BC, Canada

Top White Wines of 2018

Riesling dominated my white wine consumption for the year, what with travelling to the heart of Riesling country and all! Three of the top 4 wines are of this versatile varietal, with a sleeper hit from Australia mixing it up. Most of these wines are priced between $20 and $35 CDN, with the St. Urbans-Hof priced around $60 CDN, and so worth it!

1. St. Urbans-Hof Bockstein Spatlese Riesling 2011 - Mosel, Germany

2. Tawse Sketches Riesling 2015 - Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

3. Three Sisters Bench White 2016 - Okanagan, BC, Canada

4. Tahbilk Marsanne 2016 - Australia

Top Rose Wines of 2018

I spent a lot more time quaffing on rose this past summer than I have in the past. Rose all day, am I right?! The unofficial king of Rose wines, Cotes du Provence, made an impact on my list; however, the top spots went to the New World for their lush and concentrated offerings. Price points range between $18 and $32 CDN, making these gems affordable any time of year! 

1. Belle Glos Pinot Noir/Blanc Rose 2016 - Sonoma, California

2. Sperling Vineyards Pinot Noir Rose 2016 - Okanagan, BC, Canada

3. M. Chapoutier Belleruche Rose 2016 - AOP Cotes du Rhone, France

4. S de la Sablette Rose 2016 - AOP Cotes du Provence, France

Top Sparkling Wines of 2018

It was a French sweep this year thanks to my #cremanttourdefrance journey in the late spring/early summer. Although the JL Schwartz cremant is not widely available, the rest are priced between $25 and $65 CDN.

1. Champagne Taittinger - Reims, France

2. Domaine JL Schwartz Cremant d'Alsace Chardonnay - Alsace, France

3. Champagne Pommery Extra Brut - Reims, France

4. Chateau Langlois Cremant de Loire Brut - Loire Valley, France

Top Value Wines of 2018

I fell in love with my top value wine as soon as I tasted it; in fact, it's become one of my go-to white wines when I need a weeknight bottle or a patio sipper in summer! All 4 of these picks are worth tasting if you haven't already done so, and will only cost you $25 CDN or less!

1. Willm Pinot Blanc 2016 - AOP Alsace, France

2. Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon - Barossa Valley, Australia

3. Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling 2016 - Columbia Valley, Washington

4. Bodegas Corihuela 1884 Malbec 2016 - Mendoza, Argentina

Top Food and Wine Pairings of 2018

The Pinot Noir varietal shows up in 3 of the 4 top wines in this category as it is such a food-friendly wine! This year's top pairings isn't very vegetarian-friendly, but the JJ Adenauer and Burrowing Owl wines would work just as well with vegetarian alternatives like a "beyond meat" burger or veggie flatbread. The JJ Adenauer isn't widely available in Canada (just yet, anyways...I've heard rumours...), but the others are worth the splurge at prices between $30 and $60. Your taste buds will not be disappointed!

1. JJ Adenauer Spatburgunder 2017, paired with Pancetta & Onion "Flammkuchen" (flatbread)
Ahr Valley, Germany

2. Veuve Clicquot Extra Brut Extra Old, paired with Pork Hock over Apricot Press
AOP Champagne, France

3. Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir 2015, paired with Caramelized Onion & Mushroom Burgers
VQA Okanagan, BC, Canada

4. Famille Perrin "Les Christins" 2015, paired with Sirloin Beef Roast
AOP Vacqueyras, France

Wineries of the Year

This category is dedicated to wineries that not only produce quality wines, but also regularly interact with their social media followers. Make sure to like and follow these wineries, and if you happen to see their wines in your local store, why not pick up a bottle for your next quaff?

1. Dr von Bassermann-Jordan: Pfalz, Germany

2. Champagne Taittinger: Reims, France (link above in Top Sparkling Wines List)

3. Hess Winery: Napa Valley, California

Wine Bloggers to Follow
This is my list of must-read (or watch) bloggers that I've started to follow in the past year. Each blogger on this year's list represents a specific wine region, with a youtube vlogger that focuses on value wines rounding out the list.

1. Grapevine Adventures - Katarina, a native from Sweden, moved to Italy and travels the country, exploring all the food and wine that makes Italy the gastronomic powerhouse that it is today. She also gravitates towards some of the wines and regions "off the beaten path", and I have learned so much more about Italy from her than what I have learned in books and other blogs so far!

2. VinoSocial - Nancy Croisier, a native Washingtonian, shares her passion for Washington wine in all of her blog posts. She also creates recipes that she pairs with the wines she reviews, and they are must-tries in your kitchen! Pair this with a friendly & knowledgeable writer, and you have a recipe for success!

3. Jordan Estate Winery - This is by far the most all-encompassing blog I have ever seen created and run by a winery! Jordan Estate covers it all with categories including "Out and About", "Behind the Scenes", "Photo Essays", and more! Posts are uploaded regularly, with notifications sent out on their social media pages to keep you well-informed.

4. Wine on the Dime - Do you prefer to watch vlogs over reading blogs? Wine on the Dime is by far my favourite vlogger to follow. Stuart shares his passion for finding excellent value wines ($15 USD or less), with a quirky twist here and there. Most of the videos are 5 minutes or less for those who prefer shorter wine tasting videos (like me), and there are many great recommendations with a ton of videos found on his channel!

Let me know what you think if you try out any of these wines, and feel free to share any you loved most in 2018 in the comments. I'm always open to new suggestions!

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!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Bottle Journey Through the Boot...Tasting Italian Reds

January has been a whirlwind month for me. My baby girl arrived on December 29th at 5:45am!


Since then my life has been primarily focused on getting Cassie used to the world, navigating life with 2 kids, keeping the house in order, all on very little sleep. 

But thanks to the miracle of breast pumps, I've been able to start tasting wine again! My parents flew out to lend a helping hand mid-month, and my dad and I spent some time sampling Italian reds. It was a little tough for me at first-after all, I'd been out of practice for 9 months. What are all the secondary and tertiary flavours again? And descriptors for acidity, tannins and body? Thankfully, it all came back to me when I took my first post-partum sip of wine!

We started at "the heel of the boot" in Puglia, with Il Falcone's 2009 Castel del Monte DOC Riserva.



Focused tannins and angular acidity wrap around hints of plum, sour cherries and forest floor. Medium-bodied with a long, slightly jammy finish. Excellent for weeknight sipping or with mushroom pizza and pork loin.

Next, we travelled up to the Northeastern tip of Italy to taste Tedeschi's 2010 Corasco.



This beauty arouses pleasure with aromas of blueberry, cassis and mocha. Racy acidity and chocolate tannins add to the smooth body and sultry mouthfeel. A long, spicy finish will leave you wanting more! Easily one of the best wines I have ever had from the Venezie/Valpolicella region.

We finished with Paolo Conterno's 2011 Barbera d'Alba Bricco.



Notes of raspberries, red cherries and coffee grounds. Fine tannins and lively acidity create a concentrated, well-balanced body. This wine can handle spicy foods like salami and charcuterie, but is also excellent on it's own.

Finally, I started my Year of Champagne on December 31. I plan to drink various bottles of bubbly throughout the year with tasting notes showing up throughout the blog. First up was GH Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut NV Champagne.



Aromas of green apple, lemon and a hint of freshly baked buns. The mousse is creamy and slightly delicate, with invigorating acidity that arouses the tastebuds. Hints of underripe white peach and stony minerality round out the palate.

I plan to focus February on white wines from France and BC along with my Mother in Law's visit, along with another bottle of Champagne and maybe one or two more red wines.

Cheers!



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Boston Bruins Celebrate Cup Victory with Veuve Clicquot

As a hockey fan who bled white and blue blood for years, I'll never cheer for Boston, one of the Toronto Maple Leaf's eastern conference rivals. Here's another reason why: Bruins defenceman Tomas Kaberle. He was traded from the Leafs organization earlier this past season, and after doing nothing productive in Toronto for many years, he walks onto a team that wins the coveted Stanley Cup, doing little else in Bean-town besides adding a couple of assists to the team late-season and in the playoffs. It must be nice to walk onto a team and be taken along for the ride for the ultimate prize!



However, something caught my eye last night when the Bruins returned to their dressing room post-victory with the Stanley Cup: bottles and bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne on ice, ready to be sprayed around the locker room and imbibed from the top of the Stanley Cup. This photo was posted on cbslocal.com in Boston:
Despite the fact that I dislike the Bruins, I do admire their taste in celebratory Champagne. I wonder if they chose it because their famous label matches the team colours, because they wanted something high-class, or any other number of reasons? Either way, they chose well!



Congratulations to the Bruins and their fans, the harder working team did win last night! Well deserved.

Side note: In a pre-game interview with CBC, Bruins forward Mark Recchi mentioned that he's been saving a special bottle of wine to celebrate a cup victory-and he would probably drink it anyways even if they didn't win. After a brief google session, I think the bottle he was talking about is his 1970 Petrus, one of Bordeaux's finest. It also turns out he has quite the extensive cellar, totalling over 1,000 bottles! Even though there are rumours flying around about his retirement, he just became one of my favourite players-how can a wino dislike a wine afficionado, after all?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Veuve Clicquot: A Great Story of Triumph for Women

Imagine this scenario: You've been married for seven years, a young wife at 27 years of age. Suddenly, your husband passes away. You are now a widow, or "veuve" in French.

What would you do? One would obviously be devastated, and of course there would be a necessary period of mourning. Would you struggle to get out of bed on a daily basis? Would you somehow find the inner strength you need to try and move on?

Barbe Nicole Ponsardin found herself in this situation back in 1805 when her husband passed away. Fortunately, she made the choice to take over the family business. This decision ended up being such a great decision as she would bring the world one of the most prominent champagnes well recognized everywhere!

Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin's grapes are grown over 382 hectares in the vineyards surrounding Reims, France-the 2nd largest vineyard in the Champagne area. Of the total grapes they grow, 39% is Pinot Noir grapes, 46% is Chardonnay, and 15% are Pinot Meunier. Veuve Cliquot prides themselves on having a 97% vineyard rating based on the echelle des crus, a classification system for vineyard quality in Champagne. You can taste the quality in their bottles! The grapes are harvested only when the perfect balance between sugar & acidity in the grapes is reached. Harvesting is done by hand and the different grape varieties remain separated until the blending process.

Veuve Cliquot presses 2550 litres of juice from 4,000kg of grapes. The first 2,050 litres are called the cuvee and the last 500 litres are called the taille. Fermentation then takes place in stainless steel vats. Blending then takes place to maintain the house flavors and quality. The wine is bottled and sugar and yeast are added for secondary fermentation. Veuve Cliquot ages their bottles in their cellars in Reims for no less than 15 months as part of the Champagne A.O.C. regulations. The bottles are laid in riddling racks (shown below) that were actually invented by the house to make the process of disgorging (removing the sediment in secondary fermentation) easier.


The bottles are turned and tilted slightly to move the sediment to the neck of the bottle. When the aging process is complete, the sediment will be frozen and the pressure inside the bottle will literally push it out when the cap is removed. After a small amount of sweetened liquor is added to the champagne, the bottles are corked and wired and laid down on their side in the cellars to further develop flavor before being labelled and packed up for shipping.

My husband and I were fortunate enough to get the chance to visit this prestigious champagne house in mid-March. We were given the chance to see the cellars, learn their history and taste a few of the champagnes as well. We tasted the yellow label and the 2002 vintage, which I found light, lovely, and really easy to drink! Needless to say, there is a bottle of the yellow label in our house now too!
If you ever find yourself in Reims, it is well worth the visit and if you decide to spend the 75 euro on the tour, I hope you get Melissa Gaillard as your guide. She is very knowledgeable and passionate about the house and friendly. Tours must be booked in advance by calling the house or email: visitscenter@veuve-clicquot.fr

Veuve Cliquot has become one of the most recognized champagnes throughout the world. It has become so popular, in fact, that Veuve now owns the legendary color of their label. Melissa showed us on the tour false replicates of other bottles that have been found all over the world, including Mexico. When you go to their website,
www.veuve-cliquot.com, they mention a hoax promotion that is being offered for a free case of their champagne. To me, that speaks volumes of the quality and reputation that Veuve Cliquot maintains all over the world. After all, imitation is the best form of flattery, n'est-ce pas?

One of the things I love best about Veuve Cliquot (outside of the taste & quality of course!) is what they do for women. It's a tough life for a woman, working in a predominantly men's world. I experience this first-hand every day as I work with all men in the aviation industry. Veuve Cliquot hands out Businesswoman of the Year awards every year to outstanding businesswomen who embody the values of Madame Cliquot. Sixteen winners will be crowned for each of the countries that participate in the award, and the winners receive a trip to Reims to christen a vine in their own names, one each, at the International Business Woman Forum! On top of that, on their birthday every year of their life they will receive a bottle of a champagne from that vine. Amazing! Although internet rumors insist there is a jinx or curse on winning the award, I think it's great to see recognition of successful women on a worldwide scale.

Veuve Cliquot, je t'aime!
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