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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A Game Of Thrones

For today's post I thought I'd do things a little different than normal. Recently, I have been addicted to the Song Of Ice And Fire book series and in anticipation for the second season of Game of Thrones I have rewatched the first season twice. I have always been a huge fantasy buff but more than ever have I been drawn into this series and become so attached that sometimes it's hard to break free. With the help of the internet I have been able to delve into the deepest depths of the internet fan base and through my obsessive research I discovered a very interesting website that has combined my new favourite book series with my love of cooking. is an online cookbook that is based entirely on the cuisine prepared within the pages of A Song Of Ice And Fire. Don't get me wrong I love food that has a modern and sophisticated look to it but I am also a big fan of rustic food; which is exactly what the series is all about.
Now, the reason why I am mentioning all of this on a wine blog is because the site also includes many beverage recipes. In the series, wine is synonymous with water and just like the food, there are many different styles and preparations of the wine. I am most intrigued and excited to try one of the hot wine preparations because I have never had hot wine before but also because it is one of the quicker recipes. If you so choose, the site provides many recipes to brew your own wine out of plums, persimmons or what have you. 
So if you're a fan of the series or looking for some cool recipes check out the site. Cheers!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Blends For My Friends

For this post I just wanted to throw out some tasting notes for a couple of blends that I recently tried. Below are some Cab. Sauv./ Merlot blends that I picked up at the Winerack a few weeks ago. The reason why I've waited so long to post anything is because I didn't think they were worth mentioning. I have now decided to write in regard to them as a warning for anyone looking from a Winerack location. In my experience I have not found a lot of wineries that mix their grapes from two very different parts of the world. On their own, Canadian, Chilean, and South African grapes are quite good but in these cases were a disaster. Here are the descriptions of what the wineries so deceitfully tell us to expect. Firstly, we have the Canadian/ Chilean mix and secondly, the Canadian/ South African mix.

Caleta Vineyards – Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot ($9.95):
Aromas of ripe cherry and blackcurrant with a hint of cocoa, enhanced by roasted vanilla notes. On the palate, our intense full body provides the perfect balance between fruit and tannins.

Cape One – Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot ($10.95):
Medium bodied wine with soft tannins and ripe fruit flavours followed by a long velvety finish.

In regards to the structure of the wines, whoever wrote the label was spot on, but when it comes to the palate, I was lost. For both, there was a prominent cherry flavour, as is common with the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varietals but nothing else seemed to come through. I was so hoping for the hint of cocoa and vanilla of the Caleta and the finish on the Cape One was short-lived. 

Now, the nose is a whole other story. The Caleta was by no means magnificent but after some swirling and allowed time to breath it was alright. The Cape one on the other hand seemed to worsen the longer it breathed. At first I didn't notice it, but once it's pointed out to you there is no going back. Cape One has a distinct smell of tunafish!!! It is the most repugnant smelling wine I have ever had. Although I like to act the connoisseur, I'm not so snobbish that I won't finish a bottle. In fact I finished it faster so that I wouldn't have to smell it or see it ever again.

From this experience I learned that mixing grapes from different continents, although it sounds like an interesting idea, is a disaster waiting to happen. They are grown apart because they belong apart!

Happy Drinking! 

Strewn Tasting!

As much as I love buying a bottle and having a romantic wine and cheese night with my girlfriend, going to a winery and tasting a variety of different wine can be an immense amount of fun. I love to try new varietals and compare vintages so it boggles my mind that I wasn't more eager to go to tastings in the past. 

Although I have lived in Niagara Falls for many years I have never fully appreciated and enjoyed having all these wineries so close by. Sure I've tried a couple bottles here and there, from Chateau De Charmes to Hillebrand to Peller Estates, but recently I went to taste the wares that Strewn winery had to offer. 

Fortunately I have a friend who works at Strewn who provide my girlfriend and I with a fantastic tasting experience. There was only one other couple in the room at the time, so it really gave the tasting the sense of being private and personal. 

I'd say we tried about 8 different wines and all were extremely flavourful and thoroughly impressive. While we sipped on our sample we were regaled with a informative and detailed background of how the certain wine was produced and the prominent flavours that we should pick up on. I was astonished by how much my friend had learned since he started working at the winery. It's funny to see him as the connoisseur he has become, since less than a year ago, when we lived together, he was strictly a white wine drinker and not as willing to try new things. Regardless of his reasons for getting into the wine business now, I am overjoyed to see someone my age delighting in this brilliant beverage.

Now, I can't recall each and every wine we tried since I was almost stumbling out the door when we were done. I can, however, tell you about the wine that I purchased. Each wine was splendid in its own regard, but not all were in my price range, such as the 2008 Cabernet Franc Icewine, which is $63! There were 3 that tickled my fancy that were also very affordable. I have provided the tasting notes below.

Chardonnay Barrel Aged 2010 ($12.95):
This wine shows aromas of vanilla and apple, a smooth texture, and a refreshing finish. Enjoy on its own or with foods such as a holiday turkey, a mushroom dish or grilled shrimp. Chill lightly.

Gewurztraminer 2010 ($18.95):
This wine produces intense aromas of lychee, tropical fruit and a touch of clove leads to a full, smooth palate. Goes well with pork, veal and spicy Asian dishes.

Cabernet Franc 2007 ($18.95):
This wine shows complex aromas of dried fruit and herbs with notes of vanilla and leather. Round and flavourful with smooth tannins and an earthy hint on a long finish. Enjoy now with rich meat dishes such as duck confit or braised lamb.

As the bottles we sampled from had been open for a day or more and I didn't have a pen and paper to jot down my own notes, the best I can do is vouch for the winemaker's description. Even if the bottle had been opened for a day or more these aromas and flavours since permeated my senses. I will probably be popping the Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer in the following week or so but I am most excited about the Cabernet Franc. It was quite delicious at the tasting and would be fine now, but it is expected to be even better by 2013. A year is a long wait when you're always thirsty but I'm sure I have the will power. I'll spend my time thinking of a special occasion to open it. 


Thursday, 15 March 2012

Sauvignon Blanc

After two months of living in Ottawa with no luck of finding a job, my girlfriend and I have found our way back to Niagara Falls. That means living with our parents again, which isn't all bad. My parents have accumulated quite an impressive cellar of fine wine over the last few years, many of which will we be tasting over the month of March. Another advantage of living with my mother is that she likes to cook and try new recipes, which I am a huge fan of.
So tonight for dinner we are having scallops and snow peas with a creamy white sauce over basmati rice. The dish became a favourite in our family after the first time my mother made it. As this is a seafood dish we like to pair it with an elegant white wine, preferably a Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling. Tonight we will be drinking a Kim Crawford 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. 
The Kim Crawford winery is located in Marlborough, New Zealand. I was excited to give it a try since I had never tasted any of their wine before, let alone any wine produced in New Zealand. I must say that it made a good first impression.
Naturally, we opened the bottle before we started cooking to give it a taste test. Right away you can smell how minerally the wine is. The bouquet is packed with citrus fruit and peach aromas. On the palate, I tasted a light pineapple flavour that was followed by citrus and tropical fruits. The wine is fairly acidic but is pleasant all the same. I already know that the acidity will work well with the creamy sauce in the scallop dish.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Cono Sur or Connoisseur?

Keeping with a similar focus as my last post, I thought I'd mention another Chilean winery that I’ve enjoyed over the last few years. Cono Sur is an international renown winery and some of you may be happy to know that they are a completely organic winery.

It was my father who introduced me to Cono Sur a few years back and since it has remained my go-to winery because it offers such a great deal. Cono Sur’s Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon/ Shiraz are offered in 1.5L bottles for as cheap as $13.95! It is an astonishing price for a decent tasting wine.

When I began drinking wine, I primarily indulged in Merlot and Shiraz so when I tried the blends with Cabernet Sauvignon the change was subtle yet pleasant. Apart from its distinct flavour, Cono Sur wine offers the most quality as well as quantity for the price which has been a big factor in my purchasing of their product.

Besides the clever name and a pretty label, Cono Sur offers a broad selection of varietals from Viognier to Pinot Noir to Merlot. That's right, you can find more than one kind of their wine at any given LCBO or liquor store locations, unlike some companies I know.
Aside from the Cabernet Sauvignon blends I have only tasted their Pinot Noir but I am most eager to find a bottle of their Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon/ Carmenere, as it has recently been named the top selling Chilean wine in Vancouver. If anyone has tried their Carmenere, tell me your thoughts on it. If you're having a small dinner party or on a budget these bottles below are your best friends. I hope you enjoyed this post! See you around!


P.S. Here’s a short video from Vancouver’s international wine festival. 

Thursday, 1 March 2012


When I first started drinking wine, a lot of what I was drinking had been introduced to me by my parents. A few years ago they weren't as into wine as they are now so it limited my taste and knowledge of different varietals. Back then I had labelled myself a red wine drinker, just like my father, and would have chosen a Merlot or Shiraz to drink any day of the week. Now don't get me wrong, Merlot and Shiraz are great varietals, but since I have branched out into the wine world I have found many new favourites. 
In a previous post I wrote about a few different Pinot Noirs that I had tried. For this post the focus will be on Carmenere.
Now for those of you who don't know, Carmenere is a French grape, considered part of the original six Bordeaux grapes along side Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Merlot. However, after history took its toll, Carmenere is rarely found in France. It is now grown in South American, primarily in Chile. It has a striking resemblance to Merlot and thus had been disguised and bottled and sold as Merlot for close to 150 years. In my opinion they should have been able to taste the difference. 
After only tasting about four or five Carmeneres I am still confident enough to say that it is my favourite varietal of red wine. A good Carmenere has such a deep and ever changing flavour it's like the Willy Wonka "3-course meal" gum of wine. Each and every sip is better than the last. The aroma is spectacular and the colour is exquisite. I cannot say enough good things about it. 
In a previous post I raved about PKNT's Carmenere, which I still revere as the best Carmenere I've tasted but not the only one. Below are my notes on two Chilean Carmeneres that are within the same price range. They are both perfectly adequate but just don't compare to PKNT. 

MontGras – Reserva Carmenere ($10.95):
This wine has a gorgeous deep purple colour and presents powerful spicy aromas with mint and wild herbs. On the palate, tannins are soft and round leading into a subtle toasty, vanilla finish. Pairs well with red meats, cheeses and spicy foods.

Carmen – Reserva Carmenere ($11.45):
This wine is dark red and has a strong bouquet of red fruits and berries. On the palate, the tannins are soft and round but there is some acidity to it. The finish is elegant and fruity with a hint of spice. Depth of flavour will increase if aerated. Enjoy with spicy sausage. Also pairs well with red meats or spicy dishes.

If you have tried PKNT and/or either of these Carmeneres please let me know what you think!