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Red Wine

Red Wine, Wine

Meritage, Bordeaux’s North American Cousin

Since France is pretty well regarded as the Mecca of winemaking it isn’t really surprising that many newer wine regions throughout the world look to emulate what the French have going on. Bordeaux especially gets the flattery treatment, which you might notice by how many other places in the world grow and make cabernet sauvignon and merlot wines.

It’s time to meet Meritage.

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Red Wine, Wine

Zinfandel, California’s Underdog

Many of the most well known wine regions are known for specific grapes. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (among others) in Bordeaux, Syrah in the Northern Rhone, Gamay in Beaujolais. And that’s just France!

Even in the newer wine world there are some great grape-region combos. Malbec in Argentina, Carmenere in Chile, Shiraz in Australia, Chenin Blanc in South Africa.

And then there’s California.

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Red Wine, Wine

What’s the Deal With Niagara and Syrah?

Lately I’ve been noticing something interesting coming out of wineries in Niagara. It’s something I honestly never thought about, though now that I think about it makes perfect sense. Maybe you’ve noticed it too, in adventures to wineries or wanderings through the LCBO.

They’re making Syrah.

I know. You’re probably thinking, ‘Why is this so surprising? Wine is wine, isn’t it?’ I mean, yes. It is wine. But also, it’s Syrah! One of the most prized French grapes! And a grape that Australia has already taken and completely turned on it’s head! What does Niagara think it’s doing here?

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Noble Grape Challenge, Red Wine, Wine

A Return to the Noble Grape Challenge

After an extended break it’s time for another installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. Last time we explored what Cabernet Sauvignon was all about, and today we’ll get to know Syrah/Shiraz.


About the Noble Grape Challenge

Remember the Noble Grape Challenge? Yeah, I kind of forgot about it too. Let me refresh you on what’s going on here – Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of flavours and characteristics found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites and going through them from lightest to darkest, we’ll learn about the key characteristics and flavours of each.


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Red Wine, Wine

Wine Spotlight – Montes Twins Red Blend

Every so often (very often, if I’m being honest with you) I try a new wine and think – why am I not writing tasting notes? Writing tasting notes is a great way for me to explore what the heck I’m drinking and help myself figure out whether I like what’s in my glass or not. So I’ve decided to start writing more notes and, of course, I thought you might be interested.




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Noble Grape Challenge, Red Wine, Wine

Starting the New Year Right with Cabernet Sauvignon

Well friends, the holidays are over. Gone are the family visits, the hours spent languishing on the couch, and the never-ending feasting on delicious treats.


But before we continue boldly into 2016, let’s recap a few highlights of my holidays.

  • 10 – Days spent at my parent’s place, being fed and wined to my heart’s content
  • 5+ – Bottles enjoyed with family and friends that were at least 10 years old
  • 3 – Litres in the bottle my family enjoyed at Christmas dinner (a double magnum!)
  • 2 – Bottles generously given to me on Christmas morning (a 2008 Rioja and a 12yr DoubleWood Balvenie, if you must know)


All in all a delicious and productive holiday, if you ask me.


And now, it’s time for another installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. Last time we tasted our way through the Tempranillo grape. Now, as we taste the first of the last three reds, we turn our attention to one of the most well known varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon.


About the Noble Grape Challenge

I know, I know, it’s been a while since we did this. Let me refresh you – Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of flavours and characteristics found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites, we’ll go through them from lightest to darkest, learning about the key characteristics and flavours of each.


About Cabernet Sauvignon

Unsurprisingly, France grows the most Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, buuuuuuuut they usually blend it with other things. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the main five varietals of the Bordeaux region, and most (if not all?) wines in that region are blends.


Also, did you know that the Cabernet Sauvignon grape is actually a hybrid? It’s true! Check out the centre column of the adorable drawing below.





See? Cabernet Franc + Sauvignon Blanc = Cabernet Sauvignon!


I’ll wait while you recover from your newly blown mind.


Ready? Ok.


Cab Sauvs are one of the more fuller bodied reds out there, and tend to be more opaque but still reddish in colour. Flavours found often include dark fruits and black pepper. Generally speaking this is a confident wine that you could drink with other stronger flavours (a burger or some full-flavoured cheese, perhaps) or sip on its own.


The Test Case

To delve more intentionally into the world of Cab Sauv I chose to try the Art de Vivre 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon by Gerard Bertrand. I’ve told you about Gerard Bertrand before – this is one of my favourite winemakers. I have yet to be disappointed by any wines I’ve had from them. Or is it him? Either way, the wine is great, and you should try it immediately.



Even the label design is lovely.




Tasting Notes

Right off the bat I could see some age in the colour. It was still decidedly red, but there were some brownish undertones that tell me this isn’t a wine that was bottled yesterday.


It smelled nice and bright and quite fruity. I came back to it the next day and smelled lots of depth and earth, too. I love how much wine changes over time once you open it, always full of surprises!


The flavour was full of fruit – all I could think of was ‘red fruit’ but, as usual, couldn’t pin it down more than that. I was intrigued and excited to taste some black pepper too, it helped balance the fruitiness. As expected, on day two the flavour had softened quite a bit. It got more velvety and I tasted some vanilla that wasn’t present the first night.


Bottom Line

A wonderful and enjoyable Cab Sauv. I know I’m a bit of an omnivore when it comes to wine (there is very little I don’t like) but I do think this is a really solid wine, and in keeping with everything else I’ve had from this maker.


But does it taste like what we now know a Cabernet Sauvignon should taste like? You bet it does! Full bodied and fruity, with some lovely peppery-ness when you take a sip – this is a great example of a Cab Sauv.


It’s also a great example of a wine that can be enjoyed over a couple of nights. No need to finish it on night one – you should get a bottle just for you and taste it over two or three evenings to see how it changes.


Well, that was fun! It’s nice to be back in the swing of things.


Next up – Syrah!

Red Wine

Nothing Says ‘Holidays’ like Mulled Wine

I love the holidays. Clementines, pine trees inside the house, ornaments, the food (my god, the food!), the lights – I want it all! One of the things I love most about the holiday lead-up is mulled wine. It’s something I only have a couple of times a year so, like lots of holiday things, it’s pretty special.


A year or two ago my wonderful friend Katie gave me mulling spices and I’ve been breaking them out over the holidays ever since. Along with the spices she also gave me a simple recipe for mulled wine, which is the one I use when making this delicious drink.


mulled wine recipe

Easy peasy! (click to enlarge)


This past weekend I invited some friends over to decorate my apartment for the holidays and decided to tempt them into manual labour by offering to brew (is it brew?) up some mulled wine.



All ready to go.


Let me tell you – it is incredibly easy to make mulled wine! As long as you follow the recipe, anyway. The first time I made it I decided that, since I don’t like oranges, I would omit the zest and juice the recipe calls for. Big mistake – turns out that citrus flavour is kind of crucial! I learned this the hard way when I tasted the wine – something about the heat and the spices and the lack of citrus to balance it made it taste completely sour and downright gross! It’s still a running joke between my mom and I – hot sour wine! HOT SOUR WINE! Anyway, take it from me and don’t omit the citrus.



Citrus – a crucial ingredient.



Glug glug glug



Into the pot they go!



Yummy sweetness


Finished and ready for consumption! (Note to self: get fancy glass mugs for next batch)

Finished and ready for consumption! (Note to self: get fancy glass mugs for next batch)


My minimal efforts yielded a deliciously wonderful accompaniment to decorating and listening to Christmas music. My friends even brought over chocolate chip cookies! Christmas festivity achieved.



Cue singing in Whoville…



My newest ornament – what a hoot!


Have you met Bruce, the Christmas moose?

Have you met Bruce, the Christmas moose?

Are you getting ready for the holidays yet?

Red Wine, Wine

Adventures in the LCBO – volume 3

I picked up some new things at the LCBO this weekend and, of course, wanted to share them with you. Here’s what I got.


Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva 2012



I’m on a big Portuguese wine kick lately. I love the full bodies, the juicy yet grounded flavours and, best of all, the great value. I plan to enjoy as many delicious wines until the LCBO prices them out of my snack bracket.


The LCBO says this wine is opaque ruby/purple colour with aromas of blackcurrant, black licorice, spice and toast as well as black currant, anise, dark chocolate, spice and plum flavours. Clearly a lot going on! If I can taste half that I’ll be laughing.


Les Jamelles Merlot 2014



This puppy is a lovely little Merlot if you’re looking for a smooth, easy drinking wine. Les Jamelles also makes a decent Cabernet Sauvignon, but I chose the Merlot because I’m planning to mull this wine (post coming shortly!) and wanted something easy to drink and middle of the road in terms of body, tannin and general intensity.


The LCBO describes this wine as deep ruby in colour with dark fruit aromas including black berries, currants and cherries – works for me!


Georges DuBoeuf Gamay Nouveau 2015



Yes, you read that right, this wine is from 2015! Talk about young. Beaujolais Nouveau wines are like mirages, there one minute and gone the next.  The wine is fermented quickly and released just weeks after harvesting. The Beaujolais region in France has a festival around the release of the Nouveau wines every year, and lots of importers (LCBO included) tend to make an occasion of their release too. This past Thursday was Beaujolais Nouveau Day so I picked this guy up to celebrate.


As an aside, it’s interesting to see the differences in the label design of Beaujolais Nouveau wines versus other Old World (and especially French) wines. Beaujolais Nouveau wine labels tend to be much simpler, with lots of white space and bright colours. Maybe they’re trying to emulate the quickness of the process and the youthfulness of the wine on the label?


According to the LCBO this wine has a purple colour with aromas of red berry fruit, strawberry, plum and herb and a light earthy, floral/mineral tone. It’s dry, light bodied, and slightly spritzy on the palate. I’m excited to try it!


As always, you can follow me on Vivino to see what I think of my new purchases.