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

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!


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!









Wednesday, April 5, 2017

To Cellar, or Not To Cellar in Uncertain Times

Our senses have been bombarded lately with all the news hype surrounding Brexit, President Trump, and the plethora of natural disasters plaguing the globe. And don't forget the media trend of apocalyptic TV series like The Walking Dead to add to the atmosphere of doom and gloom. If you are like me, you've chosen to "turn off" in a digital sense and focus your energy on reading, studying, or hobbies. A lot of my wine studies this year have drawn me to issues related to wine cellaring.

I currently own a 100 bottle cellar with wines ranging in value from $35 through to over $1,000. Granted, my cellar is only composed of 3 wooden racks that hold 75 bottles each enclosed in a concrete room; nothing fancy like what you see in Wine Spectator every month. However, the cellar means more to me than just bottles in a concrete room. Many of the bottles enclosed have memories attached to them. The Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas wines were purchased on our trip to France in 2011. My Krug Clos du Mesnil Champagne tells the story of my oldest daughter's birth and my triumph over those crazy, foggy first weeks of motherhood. The problem lies in when to consume these wines-and in today's tumultuous times, should I even bother with a cellar?

My wine cellar. It's not pretty, but it's functional-and doesn't allow for aliens or zombies to get in easily!
Many factors come into play when maintaining a wine cellar. Questions to ask yourself include:

"How many bottles can I manage?"
"Am I cellaring bottles for financial gain, or for personal pleasure?"
"What methods and resources do I use to track their development?"
"Am I comfortable with the risk associated with my bottles' values?"

What about a contingency plan? Zombie-apocalypses and President Trump's initiatives aside, other risk factors include household fires, floods, and other acts of God. Are you prepared to forego tasting your viticultural treasures if any of the above happen, even if you insure your bottles?

In the event of a slower catastrophe like Zombies or a plague, my contingency plan is to lock myself in the cellar, drink as many of the wines as I can from most treasured to least, and let nature take it's toll. I'm still working on a plan for the quicker-moving events.

Many wine blogs and publications discuss drinking those treasured bottles now, foregoing special events to ensure you get to enjoy them now. It's an interesting concept; on one hand, you will definitely enjoy them and the risk of the wine going past it's prime is reduced. On the other hand, how much will you enjoy that phenomenal bottle on a weeknight, or another time where you might be more rushed? In my opinion it's worth exploring, especially when sampling a wine where more of the same bottles exist in the cellar; however, I still prefer a special occasion to crack open those one-off bottles so I can really indulge in the experience.

Even though none of us know what's going to happen next, I do know that I want to enjoy these bottles while I can and relive the joy and memories these wines have brought me. No matter what your wine cellar goals are, may yours bring you joy now, and in the time to come.

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!















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, September 21, 2014

Wine for the Soul

"If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain" - Dolly Parton originally, but I first heard it in The Fault in Our Stars.

Normally, quotes don't hit that hard with me. But this line triggered a fountain of emotions, making me sob like a baby. that was not the part of the movie I expected to cry at.

I am currently experiencing my second major loss this year. Emotional wounds that I thought were healing are now open again, bringing a rainfall of tears on my cheeks, a flood of emotions in my heart as I grieve, and a downpour of physical side effects. In times like these, it's hard to remember that this too shall pass, and at some point this will all become a distant memory.  

Last night I sat down with a bottle of Viognier for a future blog post. I took my first few sips to begin my tasting notes, and all of a sudden a fleeting moment of calm and relief came over me as I was swishing the wine in my mouth. Because I was so caught up in my own negative emotions, I had somehow forgotten how happy wine makes me, no matter how bad I feel.

"Wine cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires the young, makes weariness forget his toil." - Lord Byron

Wine is there for you. Think of all those lonely bottles on store shelves, wanting to make you happy. How many of you have thought "I can't wait to get home, put my feet up and drink a bottle of wine" after a bad day? Or made an impromptu side trip to your local liquor store or pub because you wanted to be cheered up? One of my favourite ecards refers to wine as a life coach at the end of a hard day:


Wine is a hug for the soul and a blanket for sorrow. Same thing for those who prefer beer or other spirits. The key is to enjoy them all in moderation. Unfortunately, there are some people out there who drink alcohol in excess to deal with the really tough stuff, but addiction is a whole other story. How many times has a glass or 2 of wine made you smile through your tears, even for a moment? How many of you have taken that first sip and thought "Wow, I'm really enjoying this"?

Case in point: My father. He was diagnosed with tonsil cancer back in 2008. Thirty-five radiation treatments destroyed his sense of taste for 4 months. Once he was finished treatment and beginning to heal, he found that wine confirmed his tastebuds were returning, helping with the emotional healing process. Fast forward to today: he is currently 5 years cancer-free, and also has a healthy collection of red wines including Amarone and Chateauneuf-du-Pape that he tucks into regularly.

This also happens in the movie (spoiler alert!): the star-crossed lovers are treated to a romantic dinner, which includes a bottle of Dom Perignon. Check out the video clip here. This becomes the pinnacle happy moment in their relationship, and the couple enjoys another bottle of sparkling wine on one of their last good days together.

Multiple studies have been performed on this subject, and if you google "studies that wine makes you happy" or something similar, you'll get pages of hits. How much fun would it be to participate in those studies?!

We all have a journey to take in life. There will be happy times intertwined with challenges. The sun won't shine every day, and we are all guaranteed to be caught in the downpour of life at some point. But while we are stuck in the rain, why not try and find shelter, whatever it may be, and reach for a good bottle of wine to enjoy while we wait for our rainbows? Or you could also dance in the rain: 




That's what I'm going to do. And I know as I continue along my healing journey, my wine journey will help me get back to being okay.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Favourite Wines Tasted in 2013

Happy New Years!

This past year was a busy one on my wine journey. From Gruner Veltliner to Gaja, I was able to taste wines from many different regions. There were some surprises on the way; the biggest one being my new-found appreciation of Chilean wines. Traditions were also continued, like The Pinot Noir Project and a return visit to the Okanagan in the summer. My experience with WSET Advanced classes gave me a ton to learn and taste. Here are some of my favourites from 2013 , with the country and region of origin for each wine also listed. Anything with a (v) means the wine is a great value at under $20 CDN:

Top Whites
It seems like 2011 was a good year for white wine producers all around. The Pfaffenheim is priced at just over $20 CDN, making all four of these wines an excellent value.
1. Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc 2011-Chile (v)
2. Rabl Gruner Veltliner 2011-Austria (v)
3. Pfaffenheim Pinot Gris 2011-Alsace, France
Honourable Mention: St Urbans-Hof Old Vines Riesling 2011-Mosel, Germany (v)

Top Reds
There wasn't any consistent red wine trend for me this year; however, I did develop a fondness for Italy's southern reds like Nero d'Avola and blends using the grape. With the exception of the Tedeschi Amarone (a beautiful splurge at $50), these wines are priced between $22-$33 CDN.
1. Chateau Beaumont 2008-Bordeaux, France
2. Tedeschi Amarone della Valpolicella 2005-Italy
3. Donnafugata Sedara 2010-Sicily, Italy
Honourable Mention: Concha y Toro Terrunyo Cabernet Sauvignon DO Pirque 2008-Chile

Top Sparkling Wines
Those who know me know that I will always splurge on Champagne when I can. This year I was fortunate enough to taste some premium Champagne thanks to the WSET Advanced classes. There are plenty of excellent value sparkling wine options in the world, and Martini & Rossi's Asti fits the bill at $15 CDN.
1. Dom Ruinart 1998
2. Pol Roger 2000
Honourable Mention: Martini & Rossi Asti (v)

Top Sweet Wines
Once again, I was fortunate enough to try a premium Tokaji thanks to the WSET classes. Chateau Guiraud's Petit Guiraud retails at $30 CDN for a 375ml bottle and the Rutherglen Muscat is an excellent value at just under $30 as well.
1. Hetszolo Tokaji 6 Puttonyos 2001-Hungary
2. Chateau Guiraud Petit Guiraud 2010-Sauternes, France 
3. Rutherglen Muscat-Australia

Top Rose Wines
There are plenty of good quality sparkling rose wines that are good values because they do not come from the Champagne region. The Louis Bouillot is made using the same grapes and method as Rose Champagne, and priced just over $20 CDN! 
Still: Quail's Gate 2012 Rose-Okanagan, Canada (v)
Sparkling: Veuve Clicquot Brut Rose N/V-France
Honourable Mention, Sparkling: Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Rose N/V-Burgundy, France

Top Value Wines (under $20 CDN)
This year's value hot-spots are California and Chile. Both regions are producing some powerful, yet smooth and silky wines that rival their Old World counterparts, and are available at a fraction of the price!
1. Ravenswood Old Vines Zinfandel 2011-California, USA
2. The Dreaming Tree Chardonnay 2010-California, USA
3. Vina Casa Silva Carmenere Reserva 2009-Chile

My Top Food & Wine Pairings
Interesting note: Kendall Jackson shared the photo of their Pinot and burger pairing on both their twitter and Facebook pages!
1. Tarte Tatin with Le Petit Guiraud 2010
2. Pork, Mushroom & Blue Cheese Burgers with Kendall Jackson's 2010 Vintner's Reserve Pinot Noir (v)
3. Grilled Lamb Chops with M. Chapoutier 2010 Crozes-Hermitage

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. I would drink any of these again, and likely will in 2014. Enjoy!







Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Tale of 2 Wine Regions: Part 3 and Conclusion

One of the most well-known white wine grapes in the world is Riesling. Although it is widely grown in many countries world-wide, it is synonymous with Germany, where the first known mention of it was found, and where it remains the most widely-planted varietal today. Other regions that are known for their Rieslings include the Clare Valley in Australia, Austria, Alsace, and Canada, both the Niagara and Okanagan regions.

With hard wood on it's trunk and hardy fruit, Riesling grapes can withstand frosts and cold temperatures, and are resistant to downy mildew. It ripens late, which make it ideal for late-harvest wines, botrytised sweet wines, and even Icewine. Riesling wines tend to be high in acidity and low in alcohol, with a wide flavour profile that includes blossom, stone fruits, citrus, and even petrol and kerosene with age. One of the most unique characteristics of Riesling is it's aging power; it can last for 20+ years in a cellar.

My husband and I compared Gray Monk's 2011 Riesling with Trimbach's 2010 Riesling. The style of the Trimbach Riesling is similar to the "kabinett" style of German Rieslings: light-bodied, with high acidity and more citrus flavours on the palate. Alsace Rieslings tend to have more body, are higher in alcohol, and show a distinct flinty note. The flavours my husband and I detected were blossom, green apple, honeydew melon and lime.

I found the Gray Monk showed similar characteristics on the nose and palate, but it also had the traditional peach flavour that attracts many to Riesling. It had a little more sweetness (off-dry) and the acidity was more mellow in the mouth. It seemed to be more balanced than the Trimbach, where the acidity in the Alsatian wine seemed to overpower the flavour intensity. This surprised me because the Alsatian was older by a year, and I thought it would have settled more than the Gray Monk, which comes from a colder climate. Both my husband and I preferred the Gray Monk over the Trimbach because of these reasons. In comparison to the standard characteristics of Riesling, the wines were on par with eachother, and we ranked both Rieslings as "good" using the WSET Advanced quality assessment. In fact, all 3 varietals were ranked the same quality throughout the project. And all wines retailed under $30 CDN.

The final "scores", based on personal preference:

Gewurztraminer: Tie. My husband preferred the Sumac Ridge, I preferred the Trimbach.
Pinot Gris: Pfaffenheim 2010
Riesling: Gray Monk 2011
Overall: Tie!

So are there differences between Alsace and Okanagan's noble varieties? I would argue yes. The differences we found were in acidity levels (in 2 of the 3 varietals), body, and flavour characteristics. If you like wines that have mouth-watering acidity and minerality with apple and citrus flavours, Okanagan white wines are a great bet. If you prefer a more mellow, fruit-forward white, Alsace wines are a must-try. These would all vary due to the climatic and soil differences between both regions. However, there really isn't a difference between the wines that were compared when assessing the quality. Try it yourself and see what you prefer, you just may be surprised like we were!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Better Late Than Never!

Six months ago I took the WSET Level II Intermediate course to further expand my knowledge of wines & spirits. As of last week, I hadn't received my certificate, but suspected I had passed the course. So I called up the course provider to see if they had the certificate, or knew whom I should contact to find out my course results. It turns out my certificate had been sitting there for months! Now the certificate is with me waiting to be hung on the wall, and I am so happy to see I did better than I thought I did: Pass with Distinction!

Two courses down, one more to go to reach my goal!



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