Showing posts with label red wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label red wine. Show all posts

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Falling for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Autumn is now giving way to winter in the majority of the northern Hemisphere, with some localities having already seen snowstorms! After surviving a record-breaking Snowmageddon in early October, our area has by and large enjoyed a comfortable fall season.

It is right around this time that a good chunk of winelovers everywhere, myself included, start to focus their palates on red wines again. In the past, I've gravitated towards Italian Reds and Spanish Riojas. This year, I decided to focus on the Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa Valley; specifically, the 2014 and 2015 vintages.

Although Napa Valley can trace their winegrowing history as far back as the late 1600s, it wasn't until the 1960s, when an abundance of vines were planted in the valley, that winemaking really surged. After the successful wins in the Judgement of Paris in 1976, the region became highly regarded and esteemed as one of the top wine regions in the world. Bordeaux varietals rule the valleys and surrounding mountain slopes, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc white wines crafted here as well. Bottle prices tend to soar here due to the high cost of land and grapes, the prestige of the region, and with extensive care taken in the winemaking process to ensure the highest quality wines. 



1. Robert Craig Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2014
Although this beauty is composed primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon, a blend of 10% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec joined in the fun. This created a big, bold, well-structured wine abundant with flavours of dried currants, blueberries and a hint of smoke towards the long, lively finish. Bright acidity and supple tannins make this wine approachable now, with the potential of aging another 5-7 years, at minimum. Pair this with your next ribeye or baseball steak!



2. St. Supery's 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon boasts muscular but focused tannins, and powerful acidity that smooths out during the long, bright finish. I found lots of red fruit flavours here: red currants and cranberries, changing to red licorice and charred oak notes mid-palate. This Cabernet Sauvignon is very approachable on its own but would also pair well with a variety of foods like charcuterie, cheese, and barbecue.



3. Hess Collection's "Allomi" Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 shows a beautiful, deep purple colour in the glass. The mouthfeel is very smooth and lush, with notes of black currant and vanilla hints wrapped around velvet tannins. This was my personal favourite of the tasting, and was very much enjoyed by my "wine tasting squad"as well!

One final Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that is worth trying, is Freemark Abbey. I tasted their 2011 vintage last year, and it also blew me away! Tasting notes here.

Any of these beauties are worth the splurge and would be a wonderful addition to your Christmas table, whether you pair it with prime cuts of beef, a charcuterie and cheese platter, or enjoy them on their own in front of a roaring fire. After all, everyone deserves to treat themselves over the holiday season!

This will be the last post of 2018 for me. Thank you to all who take the time to read and share my posts; it means a lot to me. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours, from "me and mine"!







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!















Monday, January 12, 2015

My Favourite Wines Tasted in 2014

Happy New Years!

My 2014 was a roller coaster ride of joy and sadness. Many life lessons were learned, and with that came much personal growth. My love and passion for the wine world was a great source of comfort and perseverance through the tough times. The major highlight was branding myself as the Wine Concubine. I also attended a Joseph Drouhin tasting as well as a vintage port tasting earlier this year. And I continued to expand my knowledge of the wine world through a lot of self study. Can't let those text books go to waste!

Let's face it: I can't drink every bottle of wine out there in one year. But I did find some beautifully expressive wines of the ones I did taste. Below is the list of the wines I felt were the best in quality, which became my personal preferences of the year.

Top Red Wines
I was spoiled with bottles of red this year, and my top 3 picks are all in the high-priced category, ranging from $45-$90 CDN. These wines are excellent splurges when celebrating a momentous occasion or want to impress! The Rodney Strong Pinot Noir retails at under $25 CDN.
1. Chateau de Clinet: Fleur de Clinet 2011 - Bordeaux, France
2. Tommasi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2010  - Valpolicella, Italy
3. Joseph Drouhin Clos des Mouches Beaune 1er Cru 2011 - Burgundy, France
HM:  Rodney Strong Estate Pinot Noir 2009 - California, USA

Top White Wines
It was a French sweep in the world of whites this year, with the exception of a California Chardonnay receiving my honourable mention of the year. Prices range from $25 to $45 CDN.
1. Jean-Michel Gerin "La Loye" Viognier 2007  - Northern Rhone, France
2. Pfaffenheim Gewurztraminer Steinert Grand Cru 2009 - Alsace, France
3. Joseph Drouhin Vaudon de Chablis 2012 - Burgundy, France
HM: Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay 2012 - California, USA

Top Sparkling Wines
The Jura is a lesser-known wine region in Eastern France, and their wines can be hard to find here in Alberta. Once I discovered that some local stores and restaurants carry Cremant du Jura, I spent all my "bubbly" energy tasting as many bottles as I could! The Jurancon wines are priced here between $20 and $25 CDN.
1. Domaine Rolet Pere et Fils Brut Cremant du Jura Rose N/V - Jura, France
2. Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne N/V - Reims, France
3. Domaine Baud Cremant du Jura Brut Blanc de Blancs N/V - Jura, France

Top Sweet Wines
It was the year of vintage port! Not only is the 2011 vintage considered to be one of the best ever, but I attended a vintage port tasting in May and fell in love! Although the prices of my top 2 picks are very high, the bottle of Cave Springs retails here at under $30 CDN. It is interesting to note that Hetszolo made my 2013 list with their 6 puttonyos Tokaji.
1. Warre's Vintage Port 1983 - Portugal
2. Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 1977 - Portugal
3. Hetszolo Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2001 - Hungary
HM: Cave Springs Indian Summer Select Late Harvest Riesling 2010 - Niagara, Canada

Top Values
Since my top reds are ideal splurges, this is where I focused my value picks this year. Spain offers a lot of complex, robust wines at the $20 price point, and Chile makes the list with both a red and white offering.
1. Tommasi Maremma Toscana Poggio al Tufo Rompicollo 2011 - Tuscany, Italy
2. Bodegas Los800 Priorat 2010 - Priorat, Spain
3. Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2008 - Rioja, Spain
4. Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto 2012 - Puente Alto, Chile
5. Quintay Clava Sauvignon Blanc 2011 - Casablanca, Chile

Top Food and Wine Pairings
Two of my top wines this year also shone with food. I focused the rest of year on pairing richer dishes with the zesty acidity of Sauvignon Blanc. The Montes Classic listed below, from Chile, retails at under $20 CDN!
1. Domaine Rolet Pere et Fils Brut Cremant du Jura Rose with Charcuterie
2. Pfaffenheim Gewurztraminer Steinert Grand Cru 2009 with Spicy Smoked Chicken
3. Chateau Guiraud Le G de Guiraud 2008 with Grilled Salmon on Pesto
HM: Montes Classic Sauvignon Blanc 2013 with Clam and Bacon Linguine

Hopefully you'll find this list useful-maybe there's a wine here that you've been wanting to try, or one that piques your interest. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Random Wine Rambling from Saturday Night

I'm sitting here trying not to finish a bottle of wine. Pretty crazy, right? It's one of those bottles that I know I'll likely never get to buy again. We picked up a bottle of Callaway 2005 Special Selection Dolcetto in Temecula, California while on vacation last year for my husband's cousin's wedding. We decided to age it for a year and then opened it this snowy night in Alberta. It's a fabulous red, very mineral in taste and nose with hints of ripe fruit. After jotting down a few quick tasting notes, I thought to myself how similar a rare wine is to life. You have to enjoy the good moments you have because they won't last forever. But you can also keep the memories with you as long as you can. So enjoy your wine to the bottle's last drop, and live your life until your last breath.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Popping (ok, pitting) Cherries

So the title isn't entirely true, I didn't exactly pit the cherries properly when making tonight's dinner. I was cutting each cherry at the pit on each side and then doing "quality control" on the remaining flesh on the pit when cutting them up for the cherry wine sauce! Hey, you gotta make sure the ingredients still work, right?

I have to admit it, I have a bad habit that I want to quit ASAP. Sometimes I buy produce and forget I have to use it up and it goes bad. I hate that I waste food, but I'm much better at using things up than I used to be. If you have any methods that work, feel free to share them! Anyways, earlier this week I found a bag of unused cherries in the fridge that I knew had a couple of days left on them. So ambitious to use them up I became that I spent one morning at work trying to find recipes that use fresh cherries-don't tell my boss! They're not that easy to find, sadly. The first one I found was a mediocre recipe for cherry muffins. I decided to try the recipe with a few changes: I used 1oz of Disaronno liqueur instead of the almond extract it called for, used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose, and I mashed up the cherries a bit to get some juice in the mix too. Although Matt says he really liked them, I thought it needed a bit more sweetness to it and found I could hardly taste the cherries, even though I left good sized chunks in the mash. Next time I'll add some cherry yogurt to it to add flavor and sweetness, and maybe increase the flour to get it to the right consistency. It's definitely worth making again.

Sometimes when surfing for recipes I find one that I feel so compelled to take on that it's hard to stop me. About $55 is what it cost me this time. I decided to try to make Lamb Chops with Cherry Red Wine Sauce & Mint, a modification from Lamb Chops with Cherry Balsamic Sauce & Mint because I didn't have balsamic vinegar on hand. I served it with broccoli & cheese sauce to put the focus on the lamb, and paired it with a bottle of 2008 Chateau de Courteillac, a red blend from Bordeaux. Bordeaux reds were recommended to be paired with the recipe. I came home this afternoon ready to take on Operation Lamb Chop (as I've cheesily pegged it).

I don't cook a lot of lamb. I don't eat a lot of lamb. I'm not necessarily for the slaughter of baby animals, but I don't mind veal about once per year - usually tasting it off Matt's plate. After spending $21 on 6 lamb chops, however, I wasn't taking this one lightly and I went long and slow with it. My chef in college would have been proud, I made sure I had my mise en place completed before starting the cooking process! Matt came home just as I was about to pan-sear the chops, and we decided to roast them as a reviewer suggested. It was great to have a 2nd set of hands around! When the cooking process was finished, we set the table and plated the food, and here is the end result:
Next was the moment of truth-tasting my effort. Would I like lamb? Did I fudge the recipe? Is Matt going to be mad if I just wasted $21 after spending thousands on a trip to France? I took a bite and thought I reacted well to the harsh, bitter taste of lamb at first. The sauce was phenomenal and paired so well with the lamb! Matt, who has ordered lamb in high-end restaurants before, thought it was flavorful and tender (in his own words). Unfortunately for me, I got to my 2nd chop and my tastebuds rejected the robust, bitter flavor. It was just too much for me I guess. I ended up giving most of my lamb to Matt, who happily gave it a home. I doubt that I will ever eat lamb again, much to Matt's protest (he literally just said it!) but I would make the sauce again, and even play with it over ice cream or for a future cheesecake-using sweet ingredients of course! Here's the link to the recipe:

www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Lamb-Chops-with-Cherry-Balsamic-Sauce-and-Mint-108339


And that brings us to now. I am finishing the bottle of wine, which turns out to be very easy drinking :) Ultimately, I'm glad I did it. I used up the cherries and I attempted something advanced that I viewed as a challenge, and it turned out pretty good I thought. This was day 1 of a food-filled weekend, tomorrow brings a Port tasting and a 3 course meal at the Keg, and Sunday is the day I spice things up! Here's hoping it turns out in the end!
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