Holiday Cheer

Wine Lovers Gift Guide 2017

November 13, 2017

Every year, I try to gather the best intel on what discerning wine lovers want for the holidays by picking the brains of some of my favourite wine writers and bloggers. For 2017, we’ve put together a great collection of gift ideas that are sure to please every wine fan (and especially those who have all the wine glass charms and corkscrews they will ever need).

Rebecca Gomez Farrell – The Gourmez

Menagerie’s sculpted, stainless steel, wine pourers and aerators are the coolest wine accessory I’ve come across in my years of food and drink blogging. I encountered them while visiting Bella Grace winery in Amador Country, California, where they’re sold in the tasting room. Good news! Menagerie has finally opened an online store, and shipping is available to Canada. Whatever interests the wine lovers in your life have, Menagerie has a fanciful head to match them including angry octopi, scuba divers, and Medusa heads.

*Note from Krista — if you have a fan of fantasy fiction on your list, Becca’s new book Wings Unseen is another great gift option. And, of course, there’s a wine connection in the book!

Megan Munro – Chew Street and I’m Mr. Fabulous

When you’re tucking into your Christmas dinner and want to impress the in-laws – this super chic, super classic Zwilling Predicat Crystal Decanter is what you need in life. The shape is timeless. The quality is noticeable. The durability is…exactly what you need (especially after midnight at your annual New Years Eve whoop-up). This is the type of gift you’ll want to buy two of – one to give and one to keep.

*Note from Krista — if you have a make-up lover on your gift list, Megan has so many great suggestions at I’m Mr. Fabulous AND on her Marilyn Denis Show segments.

Paul Dearborn – Whitby Wino

Champagne [Boxed Book & Map Set]: The Essential Guide to the Wines, Producers, and Terroirs of the Iconic Region is my pick. The whole box looks beautiful, the book appears to be informative and well-researched, and the maps are incredibly detailed. It’s sure to be a great gift for everyone from the casual wine lover all the way up to the WSET Diploma student.

 

Ryan Nevitt – Sommelier

To serve to your guests or a wonderful gift for the sparkling wine lover on your Christmas list. The Malivoire Bisous Brut (meaning kisses en français) is made in the Traditional Method and aged on its lees for 42 months. The blend consists of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay and is elegantly creamy with hints of baked apple, pear, lemon and toast. You can find this wine at Malivoire.com (shipping available nationwide) or at the retail wine shop at Malivoire, $29.95.

Krista Lamb — That’s me!

I’ll have my full personal gift guide up soon, but for now I wanted to answer the one question I get asked the most at this time of year — what wine do I give people on my holiday list? Well, spoiler alert to all those getting wine as a gift, but this year it will be Campo Viejo’s 2012 Rioja Reserva. I spent some time with the Campo team in Spain this fall and I fell hard for this bold, rich and flavourful wine, which is 85% Tempranillo. It’s a perfect, full-bodied option for cold winter nights and at $17.95 in the LCBO it’s an affordable option that will please everyone from the novice to the experienced wine lover. This one is available almost everywhere, which also makes it an easy go-to gift when you’re rushing out to a new LCBO and don’t know what they’ll have in stock. And if you’re coming to my place for the holidays and don’t know what wine to get for “someone who knows so much about wine,” just bring this. Or Champagne. You know, depending on how much you love me.

Thanks, as always, to everyone who participated in this year’s guide! Have an item you want to find under your tree on Christmas morning? Let me know in the comments or on social!

Contests

Taste the Season Giveaway

October 30, 2017
Taste the Season Logo

One thing Shawn and I love to do is head out to the Niagara region for one of the many Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake events. We have done almost all of them at some point and are especially fond of The Icewine Festival and Sip ‘n’ Sizzle, so we’re excited to be able to experience Taste the Season this year. Taste the Season takes place every weekend in November from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and a touring pass allows you to enjoy local VQA wine and food pairings from more than 20 of the member wineries.

Taste The Season LogoWe’ll be touring the area on November 11th and I invite you to follow along with us on Twitter or Instagram as we try a selection of the featured pairings. And I’m thrilled to be able to provide a touring pass to one lucky winner who would also like to attend!

Want to enter? Simply leave a comment below letting me know why you want to attend and/or tweet the following:
“I want to #win a pass to #TasteTheSeason from @kristalamb and @niagarawine: goo.gl/Ffa6XK

The rules and regulations:
1. You must be 19 years or older to attend and you will be required to show valid government ID to participate.
2. You can enter once a day for the duration of the contest either via tweet or comment.
3. Re-tweeting others does not count as a contest entry.
4. The winner will be required to answer a skill-testing question.
5. The contest is open to Canadian residents only, excluding Quebec.

Contest closes November 8, 2017 at 12 p.m. and the winner will be chosen via random draw.

*Thanks to Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake for providing passes for Shawn and I, as well as our winner!

Featured, Food & Wine

Faustino Back Vintages Tasting

October 22, 2017
Faustino Gran Reserva Back Vintages

One of the most magical things about wine is how some well-made bottles of certain wine types can often age so beautifully and with such unique results. An aged Riesling is a thing of beauty (the more petrol on the nose, the better the chances I’ll love it on the palate) and I’ve recently had the chance to enjoy some wonderful back vintages of wines from Rioja.

Faustino I Gran Reserva 1987

The colour on the 1987 is spectacular.

Earlier in October, I visited Wine Academy in Toronto where I had to taste through some of Faustino’s back vintages – small lots of which will be available through LCBO Vintages just in time for holiday shopping. Below are my thoughts on these four wines from one of Rioja’s most well-known wineries.

Faustino I 2005 Gran Reserva – This has a very deep, rich colour and plum, currant and smoke on the nose. The spices on the palate are rich and complex and the fruit is still very prominent. There was a long finish and good acidity – even at almost 14 percent alcohol, this wine felt very balanced and not overly alcoholic. A very good option to pick up now and cellar for the future.

Faustino I 1994 Gran Reserva – A very elegant nose with anise and bramble, which follow through on the palate. The fruit is still holding up well and this likely could be cellared for quite a few more years, making it a great investment at only $68.95. Of the four, this would be the one I’d recommend as a gift for a collector or wine lover who would like to see how a Rioja wine holds up.

Faustino I 1987 Gran ReservaFaustino I 1987 Gran Reserva – Available in very limited quantities at the LCBO this fall, this is quite a treat. Before 1999 many Rioja winemakers used white grapes in the blend (this practice is no longer allowed) and Faustino estimates that there may be about 3 percent white in this blend, which made for an interesting conversation about how that might affect acidity and flavour – if at all. This had a slight whiff of barnyard when initially poured (common on aged wines), but it dissipated as the wine opened up, leaving notes of old leather, tobacco and cumin. On the palate it held more dried fruit, but was still very smooth considering its age. The colour, a deep amber, was stunning. This is very drinkable now, but I don’t know if it has many more years left – a good option if you want to open soon.

Faustino 1 1970 Gran Reserva – Ah, the joys of drinking something made before you were even born. The nose held fig, dried fruit and almond and there was a surprising amount of fruit still on the palate – I would say even more than the 1987. There were some vegetal notes and a little more tannin with notes of fig and anise. Only 20 cases of 6 are available at the LCBO and at $151.95 for a bottle it’s a good holiday gift idea for that special wine lover on your list.

What is the oldest wine you’ve tried? Did you love it or do you prefer a younger bottle? Share your thoughts in the comments and on social.

Thanks to Bodegas Faustino for the opportunity to taste this very special collection of wine.

Food & Wine

Bubbles Make Everything Better

October 9, 2017

I was recently asked if I had to choose one type of wine to drink exclusively for the rest of my life—my desert island wine—what it would be. It was a tough question, but my head and my heart kept going back to one thing—Champagne. Not sparkling wine or Prosecco or Cava (although I enjoy all of them in the right circumstances), but the beautiful bubbles that only one region in France can truly perfect. Champagne has always tugged at my heart and on a desert island it would pair well with a diet of fish and mango, wouldn’t it?

Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut ChampagneOn my recent trip to Spain I drank quite a lot of Champagne. Starting an evening with a glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Champagne or their delicious Rosé Champagne was a decadent treat and a perfect way to kick off an evening of Spanish tapas and the bold Tempranillos of Campo Viejo (our hosts for the trip). Sitting in my hotel lobby chatting with new friends and enjoying the nuanced flavours and aromas and the delightful fizziness of well-made bubbles, it’s hard to imagine anything more perfect.

That may be why I found the sparkling wine tasting I attended a few days after my return from Spain a bit anti-climactic. Not that I expected bubbles on the level of the PJ I enjoyed on my trip, but so much of what was on hand was underwhelming. When done well, sparkling wines can be transformative—and they can transform food into an exciting and unique experience. But so many I tasted that evening were overly sweet or dry but lacklustre or overly acidic. Some were, frankly, just unpleasant.

But I hate being *that* wine writer, the one that complains about the cheap sparkling wine after spending a week drinking wines that retail for $70+ at the LCBO (and for good reason, since Champagne is painstaking to make) and there were some standouts at the tasting, so let’s talk about those:

Four sparkling winesPiper-Heidsieck Champagne Cuvée Brut – OK, so I just talked about reasonably-priced wines and I’m starting with one that retails for $50+, but hear me out – it’s delicious. There’s tart fruit on the nose, the wine is balanced and flavourful and for a celebration (or a night when you just want Champagne), this is a good option.

Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catherine Rosé Brut – This long-time favourite of mine continues to stand up. It’s well-made and so drinkable. I love the hints of raspberry and apple on the palate and how balanced it is. This is a go-to in our house for celebrations and movie nights when you just want something perfect to pair with popcorn or potato chips (yes, we’re those people).

Labouré-Gontard Cremant de Bourgogne Brut – If you’re looking for a less-expensive, but still dependable sparkling wine, Cremant do Bourgogne often works well and this is a great example of that. With citrus and brioche on the nose, this pleasant, dry sipper had a nice balance of fruit and acidity on the palate.

Jackson Triggs Entourage – This was an unexpected find for me, as I’m not always drawn to JT wines. But the Entourage surprised me with its ripe summer fruit notes and hints of sweetness that were refreshing. Reasonably priced, this is a good option for patios or parties.

Ulysse Collin Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Les Pierrieres Another stand-out I tried in Spain was the Ulysse Collin Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Les Pierrieres Champagne, which we discovered at a lovely little boutique wine shop and enjoyed on the last evening of our trip as we wound down from a decadent and somewhat overwhelming meal. It was a wonderful experience to try such a unique Champagne from one of the region’s more avant garde producers and I wish I’d been more awake (in my defense, it was 2 a.m.). Any chance to try a wine from one of the more experimental winemakers in the region is quite intriguing. I know I enjoyed my glass immensely and it gave me much to ponder, as it held so many of the characteristics I love about Champagne, but had an almost earthy quality counterbalanced with pronounced acidity that was delightful and unique. I hope to have the opportunity to taste more of this producer in the future.

What are your favourite bubbles? Are you all about Champagne too or do you prefer something sweeter? Maybe you love dry Ontario sparklers or go crazy for a good Cava? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on social!