Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wine tasting 101 - tips on how to taste wine here:

Using Viewpointe 05 Cabernet Merlot Reserve (or any similar red) learn how to taste wine like a pro...

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wine Tasting 101 - how to taste wine

How to taste wine like a pro. Watch my video on YouTube here

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Wines To Watch" is a great section at LCBO to discover new wines...

Check out Viewpointe Cab Franc and Cab Merlot. Two fine new wines. $12.95 each. Gypsy Red by Kacaba also quite nice at I think about $10. NOTE: this section is in 69 selected stores. Check, do product search.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rhone Part 7, Sunday: We are in the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape today. We park near the tower...

... We park near the tower and survey the gravel, limestone, and clay soil in these hallowed vineyards. The Grenache vines are very old, thick, and twisted, just beginning to sprout new shoots for the Season. The Syrah vines are distinctly thinner in appearance. As we descend into the village, the bell tolls; it's Sunday after all and the parishioners file into the 14th Century church. The village, along with Avignon, has a rich and historic Papal tradition. This is a charming, cute town. Our tastings in the venerable wine region begin with Domaine de Marcoux & Domain Tour St. Michel (again, see Part 5 for our visit to the actual Domaine). We taste truly outstanding wines today, including 2010 Domaine Albin Jacumin, '09 Chateau de Ruth, '09 D. de Galuval Cuvée Emile, and '09 D. Gilles. They are blends of various strictly controlled varietals, many of them are 90% Grenache, 10% Syrah, some with smaller amounts of other varietals. Now we drive south to Montpelier and thus ends our Rhone valley wine tour. We experience over 150 wines from about 60 wineries. A fraction of what was available to taste in the 6 days of 'Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône', which takes place every 2 years for the wine trade. Next one is in 2013. So what do I think of the Rhone valley and its wines? It is an enchanting, beautiful place to visit and the wines are elegant and enticing. Fornow, let's agree to meet up again in the Rhone valley of France! Bonne nuit.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rhone Part 5, Friday: We're tasting in Chateau de Grignan first today...

... This chateau is a large imposing facility high on a hill. Now on to Chateau de Suze-la-Rousse, the home of the Wine University in the area. The wines of Grignan, Vinsobres and Cotes du Rhone, Cotes du Rhone Villages, are marvellous here. For example, 2006 Domaine Coste Chabrier Vinsobres (92 pts). We also enjoy single varietals by racing celebrity Vermeersch. The Aligante is soft, the Carignan is earthy, the Grenache shows effects of micro-oxidation, and the Syrah is definitely the most tannic. Next, we're off to Abbaye de Bouchet where we meet another 30 exhibitors, including the proprietor of tiny Domaine de l'Amauve. Small batch wines of excellent quality. To finish the day in style, we attend a small gathering of wine importers at the invitation of Domaine Tour Saint-Michel in Chateauneuf du Pape for an evening tasting and dinner. The family greets us warmly and shows us the operation. The evening starts with a sampling of Deux Soers 09, then 08; both great. 50% Grenache Blanc, 50% Clairette, half from tank, half from oak barrels. Sophisticated whites! Now to reds. Cuveé des Deux Soers 2010. 90% Grenache, 10% Syrah. Very nice. Next, the Cuveé du Lion 2010. Even better. 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre. This is a tank sample now, it will go in oak soon. Next, Cuveé du Lion 2009. Same blend of varietals. This one has seen oak, some newbarrels, some older. It displays medium red with a nose of earthy berries, followed by flavours of currants and red berries, with spice box and muted minerality. Long finish. Sensational.We finish our visit to Tour St. Michel with a look at the family's classic car collection, each of the ten vehicles in its own garage.

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Rhone Part 6, Saturday: we drive from home base in Cairanne to a chateau and then to Pont-du-Gard...

... In Pont-du-Gard to visit with 39 wineries who've set up for the day. We're in the shadow of the Roman aqueduct & bridge. A very picturesque setting. We taste wines from Tavel - home of famous rosé wines, Lirac and many more Cote du Rhone wines. Memorable wines:- '09 Domaine Coudoulis Cotes du Rhone (grenache, syrah, cinsault)- '07 Domaine Brice Beaumont Lirac St. Pierre (grenache, syrah, cinsault, mourvedre, carignan)- '09 Domaine Cabanis Jardin Secret, Costieres de NimesNow we drive south to Avignon. 14th Century walls surround the old city and the magnificent Palais des Papes, home to several Popes beginning in 1309. This is the largest Gothic palace in Europe.Dinner tonight is so perfect, I'm pretty sure I'm in another realm! We dine in a restaurant called Campagne, Vignes & Gourmandises in Sainte-Cecile-les-Vignes. Lentil cream soup with scallops (chicken stock with very finely chopped lentils & cream), Poached Guinea Hen with fingerlings in a delicate white wine cream sauce, and cheese platter to finish. The 2009 Domainr de la Janasse Viognier was a perfect complement.

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Rhone valley part 4 continued...

Rhone Part 4, Thursday: it warms up quite a bit today with lots of sun. Beautiful Gigondas village is a setting of stone edifices, narrow lanes and steep hills. I'm tasting Gigondas, Vacqueyras, & Beaumes de Venise today. I'm finding truly excellent and affordable wines here. The further south I go, the more robust and serious the wines become. The Northern wines are structured, elegant, delicate beauties. These wines are generally big, fruit driven, and food friendly.Tonight at the Black & Wine event at Carré Gourmand restaurant in Gigondas, I'm enjoying the 2008 La Syrah de Pénélope Gigondas. A dark and mysterious lady, she exudes a dusty, leathery, dark berry bouquet with flavours of blackberries, vanilla bean & dark chocolate, with firm tannins. She finishes surprisingly softly and satisfies completely. An intriguing lady of Cotê du Rhone.

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Rhone Part 4, Thursday: it warms up quite a bit today with lots of sun.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rhone Part 3, Wednesday: in Tain L'Hermitage, an attractive village on the Rhone. On the way we visit a centuries-old village...

... called Châteaubourg complete wth castle. It has a veritable fairy-tale look. Now we're into the Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage, Cornas and Saint-Péray. Whereas yesterday's wines were quite delicate, many of today's have more body. The big wineries, like Jaboulet, are in fine form, but the really interesting stuff is among the smaller producers. I'm meeting passionate, dedicated, innovative young winemakers. Several wines are really catching my attention here. Cave Olivier Dumaine Croze Hermitage '09, '10; Domaine du Colombier's Croze Hermitage, Hermitage '08, '09, Cuveé Gaby '08. 90 to 92 points. Wow. Also nice wines by Domaine Combier and young brilliant upstart La Regence. Rather expensive, but worth every Euro, are the exceptional wines of Domaine Michelas St. Jemms. They produce Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage, St. Joseph, & Cornas. We hop back in our black "littlest Fiat in the world" and head down D7 & N7. A bit South of Valence we transition from Northern Rhone to the Mediterranean-influenced Southern Rhone. Now our home base will be a B&B in Cairranne, too quaint and gorgeous for words! Tonight we attend a vertical tasting of Sablet: 2010 back to 1990. Here I meet Jean Autran who just happens to be the proprietor of the best the best wine here: Domaine de Piaugier. More about them tomorrow. I also meet Aussie-Parisian journalist Lincoln Siliakus, in the trademark hat. Cool guy. We compare notes & talk shop. The eve ends with a drive back through misty blackness punctuated by little galaxies of light, each a village nestled in the Alpine foothills.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Le Bistrot des Clercs par Michel CHABRAN in Valence, France. 3 course Michelin meal for 22€.

The famed chef has 4 locations. This one in the old part of the city is run by Mrs. Chabran who greeted us warmly as she ensured the best wine & service. The duck with reduction, quinoa, & roast potatoes please the palate. The lively clientelle and ambience are infectious.

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Rhone Valley Intro: There flows a mighty river out of Switzerland into France then south into the Mediterranean...

The Rhone is home to big wines from such iconic appelations as Crozes-Hermitage, Cotes du Rhone, and Chateauneuf du Pape. I am visiting about 20 of them this week. Follow with me as we experience them together. Part 1.

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