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The Best Wines I Tried in April

May 4, 2016
Taittinger Rosé Champagne

It makes me smile when I look back at my April tasting notes because my cup truly runneth over with great wine finds. It’s especially surprising when you consider that this was the month where I took a few ‘dry’ weeks, but those were followed by large tasting events (and lots of spitting). It was also my birthday month, so Shawn and I opened a few of our better bottles to celebrate over that week (no spitting there). The results below showcase just a few of the best, as I think I’ll save my California Wine Fair finds for a separate post.

Birthday Wines:

Black Hills Estate Winery 2012 Syrah is a lovely B.C. red wine.I confess that I didn’t open any bottles on my actual birthday (I went to dance class instead), but that week Shawn and I did open two fantastic wines on other nights: Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne, which is a lovely example of a great Champagne – strong, fast bubbles, notes of green apple, peach and almond and just an overall well-made sparkler.

Black Hills Estate Winery 2012 Syrah—This B.C. wine came highly recommended and it did not disappoint. With black pepper, chocolate and plum on the nose and spicy, peppery plum on the finish, this wine would be a great accompaniment to earthy pasta dishes or red meat. We also very much enjoyed it all on its own.

Trivento's Amado Sur Malbec is a nice example of the grape.Malbec World Day:

On April 17 we celebrated Malbec World Day with the lovely iYellow Wine Club crew and a nice selection of affordable (and easily available) wines. With some of the best mushroom risotto I’ve ever eaten on hand to help showcase what to pair with Malbec, this event had lots to offer. My favourites? Susana Balbo 2013 Malbec, which had a rich mouthfeel with dark, spicy berries and a good structure. The oak worked well here and the result is a good, food-friendly wine.

We also really enjoyed the 2014 Trivento Amado Sur, which had vanilla, smoke and cherry on the nose and a nice fruity richness on the palate. Another good food wine that was also very drinkable.

California Dreaming:

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are nice California wine optionsLa Crema 2013 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and 2013 Pinot Noir –  Confession: I didn’t expect to like the La Crema Chardonnay all that much. As a general rule, I prefer California Sauvignon Blanc over Chardonnay, but I am always willing to give a wine a chance and this worked out well. This wine had lots of yellow apple, Meyer lemon and pineapple on the nose and had buttery apple notes on the palate. It would have paired perfectly with mac and cheese or fettucine alfredo or anything with a bit of buttery sauce. But this wasn’t a wine where the oak was overpowering and I enjoyed it as much the following day as the first fresh glass (possibly even more).

The La Crema Pinot Noir was quite nice and a little more subtle when compared to California’s bigger, more alcoholic Pinot. I had a glass on a night when Shawn was out and left him a note saying he should try it soon lest I drink it all without him. In the end, we both enjoyed this food-friendly, earthy wine with its lovely red berries and smoky chocolate flavours.

Fielding Estates 2015 Rose Wine is a great patio sipper from Niagara.Thinking Pink:

I had a chance to taste through a wealth of rosé recently and there were many I’d love to mention, but I’ll start with three that have been on my mind quite a bit since the tasting.  Taittinger appears here again because, while it’s mostly out of my budget, it’s worth the splurge. The Prestige Rosé is a well-made rosé champagne with tight, fast bubbles and a hint of spiciness that worked well with the raspberry and current notes. A delightful wine with lively acidity to save for any celebration where pink bubbles are called for.

Fielding Estate 2015 Rosé – In my haste to get to another event, I almost didn’t try this Ontario rosé and that would have been a shame, because it’s one that I keep going  back to and thinking how much I’d like to have it again—on a sunny day while sitting on a patio and without a spittoon on hand. This light-pink sipper has peach, strawberry and citrus on the palate and just screams out for summer sipping.

Campo Viejo Rioja – A Tempranillo-based rosé, this was a surprising treat with lots of big, ripe red fruit on the nose and a very balanced palate featuring notes of red apple, mango and lychee. I’ll be looking for a bottle to add to my patio sippers this summer.

Whew! That doesn’t even include the stand-outs from County in the City and the California Wine Fair, so watch for those soon. What were your favourite wines last month? Share them in the comments below or on social.

*Some of the wines I tried were samples or tasted at events where I was a guest. All of my opinions are my own.

Best of

The Best Wines I Tried in March

April 4, 2016
Seriously Cool Chardonnay from Niagara.

March was a good month for Ontario wine in our house. I was impressed with several local wines I had the opportunity to try! I expect April will be all about California and Prince Edward County, with fabulous wine events representing both regions on my calendar.

You can read all about my favourite wines from March below but before you read further, I hope you’ll take a moment to join the brand new Upkeep: Wine, Body & Soul Facebook page. You can find all the latest Upkeep posts, stories from our archives and must-read blog posts from some of my favourite wine bloggers. Sign up here!

And now, onto the wines!

Emiliana Novas Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon red blend wineEmiliana – Novas Gran Reserva – 2013 Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon Blend – I always enjoy a good Carmenere and this Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Chile has all the hallmarks I like to see, black pepper, cigar box, cassis and vanilla on the nose and a lovely peppery finish with some deep, red fruit. This is such a smooth and drinkable full-bodied wine, but the rustic quality is also appealing—nice with dinner or just on its own. I had the chance to chat with the winemaker at their recent Toronto event. Emilio Contreras was lovely and we discussed Emiliana’s decision to go organic in 1998 (they are now the world’s largest grower of organic grapes) and how they have adopted a number of biodynamic principles. Emilio is interested in creating a wine that reflects the terroir far more than the grape varietal and that shows through in this wine. He also expressed a fondness for growing Pinot Noir and I have a soft spot for anyone who shares my love of the heartbreak grape. I look forward to one day trying his Pinot. The Novas Gran Reserva is available at the LCBO for $15.95 and is well worth the price.

Konzelmann Estate Winery 2014 Pinot NoirKonzelmann Estates 2014 Pinot Noir – Shawn and I made our first trip to Konzelmann Estates during the Icewine Festival in January and I suspect it won’t be our last visit. The grounds are simply stunning and the Icewine was delicate and lovely. I was excited to try their Pinot Noir, which has root beer, raspberry, mushroom and cloves on the nose. The earthiness of the nose follows through nicely on the palate with some great herbaceous notes, but also enough fruit to make it quite tasty. This is a very light and drinkable Pinot Noir, which I think would pair nicely with pastas and lighter meat dishes. Shawn enjoyed this one very much, remarking on how light it was and how well it would go with a range of different foods. I heartily agree. At $13.45 this is a great value at the LCBO, but I highly recommend stopping in at the winery and checking out the breathtaking view from their observation deck as an alternate option. The only surprise? Lots of sediment on this one – be sure to decant accordingly.

Southbrook Vineyards’ Seriously Cool 2015 Chardonnay – The Seriously Cool red blend made my best of February list, then I had the chance to try this lovely Chardonnay and was even more impressed. This wine has green apple and stone fruit on the nose, as well as a hint of vanilla (it’s lightly oaked). The apple and vanilla follow through on the palate, making for a wonderfully refreshing wine experience. A great wine to transition into summer with.

Creekside Estate Winery's Iconoclast Sauvignon BlancCreekside Vineyards’ 2013 Iconoclast Sauvignon Blanc – Creekside is always a favourite stop when Shawn and I visit Niagara wine country. It’s a laidback and fun winery experience and I’m so glad we picked up a bottle of this Sauvignon Blanc on our last visit. This has all the hallmarks of a Sauv Blanc on the nose: green apple, wet stone, cut green grass and, yes, a little bit of cat pee, and the palate is full of refreshing fruit notes.  There was pear, apple sauce and peach on the finish with a nice herbaceous-ness that makes this lovely for patio sipping or as a companion to a relaxed dinner. I look forward to having this one again soon, even though the label is one of the toughest I’ve ever tried to photograph!

What were the best wines you tried in March? Share your picks in the comments or on social.

*  Two of these wines were samples (Seriously Cool and Konzelmann Estate) and the Emiliana was tasted at an event where I was a guest. All opinions are my own.