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Rosé All Day

July 28, 2017
2016 Seriously Cool Rosé

I was sitting next to two people at a restaurant recently and it was impossible not to overhear their conversation as they discussed their wine selection. “They have rosé – I love rosé!” Not surprisingly, they both got the rosé, while I sat there wondering what exactly they were expecting in that glass and whether it would live up to their expectations. They had asked the waiter about choosing their wine – no wine list was consulted – and rosé is not a varietal, so it was impossible to know if it would actually suit their tastes. It can be crisp and dry, sickly sweet, a balanced off-dry or anything in between.

I also love rosé, but I would have had A LOT more questions. My favourite rosé wines tend to be from the South of France. I love my pink wines very crisp and very dry. I love to pair them with light, summer dishes or to sit back on the patio with a glass of good rosé and a fun summer read. It’s my jam, as long as it’s not too sweet or, well, jammy.

Remy Pannier Rosé d’AnjouThat’s not to say I can’t enjoy a well-made off-dry (slightly sweeter) style – sometimes summer events just call for those. I recently tried the Remy Pannier Rosé d’Anjou at a tasting and was very impressed with this affordable French find ($15.20 at the LCBO). There was strawberry and lime on the nose and lots of sweet, candied strawberry on the palate. We tried this both at room temperature and chilled and while the nose was more muted when the wine was served at a lower temperature, I found the fruit much more vibrant. A pleasant sipper for those looking for a well-made and affordable off-dry option.

Ontario also has some pretty great options for rosé, although it’s always wise to ask questions about what’s going to be in your glass. Because, like with any region, there are going to be differences in quality, taste profile and brix level. Want a super sweet summer sipper? Girls Night Out has you covered. Want something more subtle? Let me help you out!

Two Sisters Vineyard 2016 RoséTwo Sisters Vineyard makes some on Ontario’s best wines – and that shows in their price points. If you’re looking for a bottle under $20, this is not the winery for you. That said, I consider their 2016 rosé well worth the money. With watermelon, cherry Lifesaver and a bit of citrus on the nose, this wine smells like summer. And with hints of watermelon, peach and strawberry on the palate, it tastes a bit like summer too. A well-made wine that will be perfect on your patio.

Another Ontario favourite in our house is Chateau des Charmes (CDC) and their always impressive collection of rosé wines. We received a sample of their 2014 Rosé sparkling wine, which is made in the traditional method with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, and Shawn liked it so much that he picked up a bottle for our anniversary in June. This is everything I love about pink bubbles – crisp, refreshing with notes of summer fruit on both the nose and palate. And given the quality – two years on lees, disgorged by hand – you’re getting a very well-made product at a very reasonable price ($29.95 at the LCBO). We expect to pop a lot more CDC corks this summer.

Chateau des Charmes 2014 Sparkling RoséLast year, we were all about CDC’s Rosé 2015 Cuvée D’Andrée, which is their estate grown and bottled still rosé, which is made from 100% Pinot Noir, so I was excited to check out the 2015 vintage. It didn’t disappoint. CDC has managed to make high-quality wines affordable and this easy-drinking pink sipper is perfect on the patio or on your dinner table paired with summer favourites like salmon or barbecue.

Ravine Vineyard’s 2015 Cabernet RoséRavine Vineyard’s 2015 Cabernet Rosé was a recent purchase after having it as part of the Sip and Sizzle Niagara pairings. This well-made, very balanced dry wine is 100% Cabernet Franc, so the flavour profile is slightly less fruit-forward, but there are still notes of strawberry and tart cherry to keep this summer-friendly. We enjoyed this with slightly-sweet chicken wings recently and were quite pleased with the pairing.

Southbrook Winery sent a sample of their 2016 Seriously Cool Rosé and Shawn and I were eager to check it out. The Seriously Cool range of wines provides a less expensive alternative to some of Southbrook’s higher-end and organic wines. They tend to be well-made and balanced at a price-point that the average consumer can easily afford. They also have one of the most eye-catching labels out there. Luckily, the wines tend to hold up, so you won’t walk out with a wine you chose for the label and end up disappointed in this case. Lots of strawberry and peach on the nose and palate for this easy-drinker, which, while dry, might come off a tad sweet for someone who likes a more austere rosé. Shawn and I both approved, though, as we enjoyed it alongside salmon burgers on our patio.

Whew! A lot of rosé in my glass recently and I’m sure there’s more to come as the summer progresses. Do you have a favourite pink wine? Share your thoughts in the comments or on social!

Upkeep Updates

Upkeep Updates: Summer Drinks Edition

July 9, 2017
Sipsmith Gin Cocktail

Summer is well underway and at my house we’ve been taking full advantage of the recent patio weather to enjoy lighter, easier-drinking wines on our balcony. I’ll follow this post with a rosé round-up, but for this one I thought I’d share some of the other summer sippers that have been filling our glasses as we soak up as much vitamin D as possible.

Fleur du Cap ChardonnayFleur du Cap 2015 Chardonnay – This is a fuller-bodied wine, but with notes of lemon, apple and baking spice. It was a delicious pairing for creamy pasta on the patio one recent evening and it’s a very affordable option if you like a heavier white to compliment your meal. We also enjoyed the opportunity to show off our Drink Guards—these easy-to-clean circles are a great way to keep your vino free of flies and other summer debris. Yep, a coaster would work too but these are fun and colourful and we’ve been using them frequently on the patio and at the cottage.

Sipsmith Gin CocktailSipsmith Gin – I love gin because this flavour-packed spirit is almost always perfect for light, summer cocktails. I had the chance to check out a new-to-Ontario London dry gin at the recent Sipsmith Gin event at The Drake Hotel. Founder Sam Galsworthy was a charming host to a fabulous night of cocktails and creative pairings for this authentic spirit whose team helped sway the British government to allow smaller pot stills and, thus, were at the forefront of a gin renaissance in London.

Sipsmith is made using traditional methods – no exotic botanicals or additives for this spirit – and Sam is extremely proud of that fact. It’s “gin made the way it should be,” he insists and he converted a number of fans to this smooth, mellow gin with notes of pine and citrus on the nose. A great option for cocktails and very enjoyable in a gin and tonic, this may not sway hardcore Hendrick’s drinkers, but it’s a pretty great option for classic gin cocktails – like the traditional gin martini.

Garzon AlbarinoDescorchados Tasting 2017 – The lovely team at WineAlign recently hosted a Descorchados tasting in Toronto to highlight some exciting South American wines. A few summer stand-outs for me included the Garzon Single Vineyard 2016 Albarino. This coastal wine from Uruguay has notes of lime and seawater on the nose and citrus and salt on the palate. It’s crisp and refreshing with a lengthy, almost slightly creamy finish. Tabali’s 2016 Talinay Sauvignon Blanc was also a stand-out for me. This coastal wine from Chilé has pronounced minerality and the nose reminded me of fresh ocean air with a hint of fresh cut Meyer lemon. It’s a more typical Sauvignon Blanc on the palate and is a pleasant, food-friendly sipper.

What have you been sipping this summer? Share your favourites in the comments or on social!

All of these beverages were samples or tasted at events where I was a guest. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Best of

June Wine Adventures

June 17, 2017
Evolve Cellars Pink Effervescence

It’s been a little while since my last post and I’m not sure how good my reasons are for that. Honestly, I’ve been a little burnt out on wine blogging over the last few months. I still love learning about wine, but after a few years of regular blogging it’s hard to keep up the constant enthusiasm sometimes. Over the last few months, I’ve found my time split between competing passions. I’ve been focused on writing fiction, running and yoga—as well as spending more time with the people in my life who have often been overlooked because I was so busy juggling a full-time job and my wine blogging adventures. It’s hard to feel bad about making that decision.

That’s not to say I’m ready to give this up, I just might have to keep things a little less frequent as I strive to maintain some balance in my life. And with a running injury set to sideline me for much of the summer, I’ll likely have a little more time available to devote to blogging again. So, with that said, here we go with my latest round-up of wine stories!

Some Southbrook Stunners:

Southbrook 2013 PoeticaI recently had the opportunity to taste through some of the wines in Southbrook Estate Winery’s latest release. I’ve always enjoyed this Niagara producer and I wasn’t disappointed at this tasting. Some of the highlights included the new 2016 Biodynamic Bubbly Vidal, which is done in the Ancestral style to create a refreshing and light effervescent sparkler. The Wild Ferment Cider was another interesting surprise. It’s done in the style of Northern Spain and is a very dry cider with a hint of sweet apple juice. It’s fermented with wild wine yeast and priced reasonably at $15.95 – it reminded me a little of the sparkling cider I so love from The Old Third in Prince Edward County.

The 2013 Poetica Chardonnay was another standout for me with apple, pear and a touch of cream on the nose. This wine had nice fruit on the palate, with notes of pear and green apple. A lovely, small-batch wine.

The 2016 Estate Cabernet Rosé also impressed with strawberry notes all through and lots summer fruit on the palate. This would be a nice patio sipper this summer and a perfect wine for so many food pairings (I love the versatility of rosé). And the 2013 Estate Witness Block Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc was an elegant red with anise, raspberry and bramble on the nose. Another personal favourite of the tasting.

Another surprise was the 2016 Small Lot Natural Orange Wine. I haven’t always been a fan of Southbrook’s orange wines, but this one was more to my tastes. The tannins are still quite pronounced and the flavour is certainly unique, but it’s a little more fruit-forward and less bracing than some of the previous vintages.

Evolve Cellars EffervescenceB.C. Wine on my Mind

Over the last few months, Shawn and I have been going through some pretty fantastic B.C. wines from Evolve Cellars. Their lightly sparkling wines (Effervescence) are perfect for summer and bursting with lovely flavour. They truly are a perfect sparkling option for summer (though a quick peek at their website doesn’t show any available right now, so perhaps already a sell-out). We really don’t have enough access to B.C. wineries and it’s such a shame. Another favourite from that province? Time Winery’s 2013 Syrah – Shawn and I couldn’t get enough of this big, bold red. You can order wines from these producers online across Canada now and it’s well worth it if you have the ability to store these wines easily.

Roscato WineSweet Italian Wine Time

I was recently invited to an event at iYellow Wine Club to check out Italy’s Roscato wine. Sweet wines typically aren’t my thing unless they’re specifically dessert wines (or used in cocktails), but I like to keep an open mind and I found this wine interesting. It’s a slightly effervescent, very sweet wine from Northern Italy meant to be served cold and which the company’s representative explained was very popular with new wine drinkers. I get that, since I started my wine journey on Arbour Mist. And Roscato at least is a quality product – the effervescence is added via the charmat method and not carbonation, the grapes are hand-picked and they use the minimum number of pesticides. It’s also 7 per cent alcohol, so this is a pretty good option for adding to summer sangria (honestly, that would be my number one suggestion for how to use it) and it’s a sweet treat over vanilla ice cream.

What have you been drinking so far this season? Share your favourites with me in the comments or on social.

Upkeep Updates

Upkeep Updates – Birthdays, Niagara Wine Adventures and More

May 10, 2017
The Reserve 2013 Shiraz Cabernet from Inniskillin

Life has been busy around here! Shawn and I spent a fantastic week in Quebec City and Montreal at the end of April celebrating my birthday, and I’ve been spending lots of time writing, running and practicing yoga. I’ve also joined a book club and have been enjoying my self-imposed wine book hiatus. While I have absolutely loved all the wine-related books I’ve read over the last three years, every part of my brain was ready for a break. My book club just read the excellent American Housewife by Helen Ellis and it was a fabulous opportunity to kick back with a complex, deeply layered and still gloriously funny book and then talk it through with friends over copious snacks and big cups of tea.

I’ve also had plenty of wine adventures that I’m happy to share below in my latest round-up.

Veuve ClicquotBirthday Bonanza

I love to travel and Quebec City and Montreal have the added bonus of feeling like a slice of Europe just a very short flight away. Shawn and I enjoyed some fabulous food in both cities, before indulging in an incredible birthday meal at Garde Manger in Montreal. It’s a bit of a splurge, but I highly recommend this Chuck Hughes-owned restaurant. And what did we drink to celebrate my latest trip around the sun? Veuve Clicquot, of course. Which reminds me that I really want to read the biography of Madam Clicquot currently sitting on my shelf one of these days (see, I can’t completely shake my wine reading ways).

Sip & Sizzle pairing of Two Sisters Sauvignon Blanc and a cod fritter.

Sip & Sizzle pairing of Two Sisters Sauvignon Blanc and a cod fritter.

Sip & Sizzle in Niagara

The lovely Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake invited Shawn and I out to enjoy their latest festival – Sip & Sizzle – which is running on weekends throughout the month of May. I like these fests, as they give you the opportunity to try a new and unique wine and food pairing at all of the participating wineries. Shawn and I went to Days of Wine and Chocolate in February (fun, but a tad too sweet on sweet for someone who doesn’t eat a lot of chocolate) and were excited to try the more savoury pairings on this tour. Our favourites were the very flavourful chicken taco paired with the Reserve 2013 Shiraz Cabernet at Inniskillin and the cod fritter paired with Sauvignon Blanc at Two Sisters, but the prawn and Sauvignon Blanc pairing at Chateau des Charmes was also excellent. Ravine Vineyard’s chicken wing with Moroccan rice and their dry Rosé was another fabulous option. You can check out the full listing of pairings and purchase a pass for the event at the Wineries of Niagara on the Lake site and we have photos of all our wine and food pairings on Twitter and Instagram. As always, they have a less expensive version of the pass for designated drivers, which is important and awesome.

Te Awa Left Field 2016 Sauvignon BlancThis and That

There have been a few interesting bottles that crossed my path recently!

Te Awa Left Field 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – Shawn and I kicked back with Dateline and this Sauv Blanc sample over the weekend and we both enjoyed it. It was a good pairing for a lightly dressed chicken salad and it’s a very nice value New Zealand wine at $18.95 (LCBO).

The Negroni at Big in Japan in Montreal – We had a bit of an adventure finding this hidden gem, but Montreal’s Big in Japan bar lived up to the hype. Modeled after a Japanese speakeasy, this bar has no end of ambiance, elegant staff and they make a fabulous Negroni (and, yes, I judge a place on how they make one of my favourite cocktails). Worth checking out if you’re in the city.

Chateau Croix Du Rival 2010 Grand Vin Du BordeauxChateau Croix Du Rival 2010 Grand Vin Du Bordeaux – What do you do when it’s pouring rain in Quebec City and you just can’t stand a minute more of walking around in the downpour? If you’re Shawn and I, you buy a value bottle of Bordeaux ($25.30 at the SAQ) and camp out in your fabulous hotel room at the Hotel du Vieux-Quebec. Maybe it was the seemingly unending rain, the cozy hotel, or just being on vacation, but we both loved this big, bold red (a blend of Merlot, Cabernet and a dash of Cabernet Franc). I wish this rainy day hug of a wine was available at the LCBO because I’d definitely like to have this one again.

And that’s just a few of our recent adventures! What have you been sipping? Share your thoughts below or on social.

* Shawn and I were guests at the Sip & Sizzle event and the Te Awa was a sample. All the others were purchases we made. Opinions are, as always, our own.