2014 Norman Hardie Calcaire

Norman Hardie, the man and the wines, for sommeliers, and for those in the know is at the pinnacle of Canadian wine. Producing some incredibly exciting Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc, amongst other international grape varieties. I’ve never actually been to the winery but I’m hoping to get for a visit sometime early next spring/summer. I’ve loved Mr. Hardie’s Pinot Noir and Riesling for some time now, along with this Calcaire and hope to do a rundown specifically on the Pinot sometime in the future. In the meantime I’m just going to sit back and enjoy this one on the deck. Even though it’s a little cool here and leaves are starting to change colours, I’ll sneak every last bit of decent weather we have left.

Norman Hardie wines are produced in two specific regions of Ontario, those being Niagara and Prince Edward County. Often the wines are region specific but are occasionally blended, as in the case of their Cuvee L line of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.img_1738-2.jpg

Calcaire is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Melon de Bourgogne. This wine was very lively and aromatic on opening with a detectable wet stone minerality showing right away, along with vivacious green apple and citrus blossom notes. The palate maintains the delightful green apple and wet stone notes, as well as notes of grape, watermelon and passion fruit. This wine is vibrant, refreshing and multifaceted. It has elevated acidity, low + alcohol and a medium finish. This is one of Norman Hardie’s cheaper wines at around $20-$30 (varies by region) so definitely a good one to try from a cost perspective. You can drink this wine alone and get lost in the nose, however, I personally think this wine is made for a great salad with lots of fresh fruits and veggies.

 

If you’ve ever thought Canadian wine was a bit of a joke I would encourage you to try anything made by Norman Hardie. I firmly believe that your entire perspective on our cool climate viticulture will change. I mean, ice wine is great but Canada has so much more to offer!

Ever had a Norman Hardie wine? Thinking about trying one? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Have a good weekend!
Ben

Advertisements

2014 Simonnet-Febvre Chablis Vaillons Premier Cru

Starting to drink some nice white wine before the the cold of winter really starts to kick in and the big red wines come out. I used my Coravin to just grab a little taste of this Chablis, as I’m hoping to do a nice chicken supreme or marsala dish next week and I think this will go perfectly. I don’t drink a lot of Chablis but I definitely enjoy the flinty/steely notes that often come along with this style of Chardonnay.

IMG_1707-2Vaillons is one of the largest and most well known of the 40 Premier Cru Chablis sites. For those not in the know there’s 7 Grand Cru sites, these are arguably considered the best sites. Followed by Premier Cru of which there’s 40, this is followed by Chablis AOC and then the Petit Chablis AOC. The climate in Chablis is usually pretty elevated in the summer time but those from the region will tell you that it’s the spring and fall which can pose a problem. The potential for frosts, particularly in spring and the fear of a cold rainy fall are legitimate concerns for the quality of the wines each year.

Upon opening this wine I expected a little more intensity on the nose. That being said the nose did display elegant notes of citrus blossom, lemon peel, peach and flint. The palate also has a green apple and freshly cut grass component that is rich with a slight creaminess from 10-12 months aging on fine lees. This richness is balanced out by excellent medium + acidity and the same flinty minerality detected on the nose. All in all this is a nice Chablis that I could see being good with food but there’s just a little something missing from this one. A lack of intensity, perhaps a little more of a green apple kind of nose that I like. Don’t get me wrong this is a well made Chablis that might be worth checking out but I think there’s better examples/values to be found at the premier cru level than this.

Had this wine before? Had a Chablis? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Cheers,
Ben

 

2013 Herdade do Esporao Branco Reserva

I always like to pick something a little bit nicer or a little bit different for my wine Wednesday pick. This time I decided to go with the 2013 Herdade do Esporao ‘Esporao’ Reserva white. I’ve had their red blend before and it was juicy and fairly complex. For this particular white the wine is a blend of Antão Vaz, Arinto, Semillon and Roupeiro. While many might be familiar with Semillon the other grapes are native to Portugal and are some of the predominant grapes used in the white wine blends of the Alentejo region.

I won’t give a whole rundown on the Alentejo region, just to say that it’s one of the largest wine regions in Portugal and it’s located in the south of Portugal. Much closer to Lisbon than the Duoro, if that helps as a point of reference for anybody. If you want more information it’s definitely out there. I’d recommend checking out the Wines of Portugal site.

In 2013, like much of France and Spain, Southern Portugal experienced a damp and cool spring with varying temperature swings. Unlike in Bordeaux, Rioja and many other classical regions Alejento was actually quite warm for much of the summer which allowed many to produce good wine.

IMG_1701 (1)-2I pop the cork on this one and I’m met with some interesting and fairly intense tropical and oak influenced flavours. From what I can find elsewhere on the web the wine was aged for 6 months on its lees in 40% new French and American oak barrels. The nose has lemon peel, lime, green apple, pear and vanilla. Characteristics on the palate include pear, green apple, peach, lime, vanilla and coconut. This is a dry pale yellow wine with a flicker of green on the rim. It displays medium acidity, medium body, medium + alcohol and medium to medium + length. The wine shows well with a persistent, fairly complex, creamy mid-palate and finish.

This wine won’t suit everybody, I mean it’s not quite buttery Chardonnay but it’s closer to that style than it’s to a Chablis. If you’re looking for something different and you think you might like this style than I would encourage you to check this one out. Herdade do Esporao is definitely an important producer in the region and I would definitely try this one along with some of their reds, which are juicy but complex and delicious if I do say so myself.

Have a good wine Wednesday everyone!

Cheers,
Ben

 

 

 

 

 

2005 Château Romer du Hayot Sauternes

Every now and again I get in the mood for a nice sip of Sauternes or other sweet white wine. It’s not an everyday thing and I’m not about to go buy a few cases of it but I do have a few older Sauternes kicking around for when I’m digging  some wine instead of dessert. IMG_1671-2

When I’m in that mood and it’s a casual Tuesday night this is the kind of wine I turn to. The 2005 Château Romer du Hayot was a wine I picked up for $15 for a demi (375ml). Even with a half bottle I still like to use my Coravin to just have one glass. I’ve never devoured a full bottle of Sauternes, or even a half in one sitting but I imagine the headache to be severe.

This blend of 70% Semillon, 25% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Muscadelle is medium gold in colour with medium intensity and notes of carmel, honey and vanilla on the nose. This wine displays medium + acidity, medium body, medium + alcohol and a medium finish flavour characteristics on the palate include peach, apricot, toffee, honey and a little botrytis note towards the end of the mid-palate. Pretty solid Sauternes for the value-oriented consumer who wants to try something with a little bottle age. Certainly not off the charts amazing but it suits my Tuesday night vibe just fine.

Happy drinking everyone!

Cheers,
Ben

 

2014 Domaine Galevan L’esprit Devin Cotes du Rhone Villages

If I could only drink wine from one region around the world it would definitely be a toss up between the Rhone Valley and Burgundy. I’m a huge lover of Northern Rhone Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussane wines but they’re not something I can personally afford to drink every day of the week. That being said I’ve been loving the Southern Rhone wines lately. Whether it’s a kick-ass Cotes du Rhone wine or a great value Chateauneuf-Du-Pape there’s lot to love and compared to the north they’re very affordable. IMG_1285-2.jpg
 The 2014 Domaine Galevan Cotes du Rhone L’Esprit Devin has dark cherry, blackberry, vanilla and clove on the nose with raspberry, subtle baking spice and a little bit of an earthy character also evident on the palate. After opening up in the glass for about an hour this wine showed bright acidity with rounded tannins. The finish was fairly short but with a persistent mineral character and enough complexity to give this vibrant extracted red a thumbs up. Despite a tricky 2014 vintage in the region I think solid manual harvest/grape selection won out at Domaine Galevan. I liked this wine very much for its modest $15-20 price tag and I would say it’s a pretty nice Monday-Thursday sipper.
Do you have a favourite region/winery that you look to for a really nice wine at a good price? For me that region is the Southern Rhone. I Would love to hear about your favourite value wines and where they’re from.
Hope everyone is having a good Monday!
Cheers,
Ben

2016 Benjamin Bridge Nova 7

I’m all about trying to source my food locally when I can but when it comes to wine I don’t really have that option. Besides some local berry wines there has yet to be a successful winery on our dear island of Newfoundland. Given its marginalized climate in the North Atlantic Ocean we just don’t get enough sun every year to make it justifiable. Although I have heard that it could potentially be possible in the gorgeous Humber Valley region of our province.

So if I can’t get new local stuff to try the next best thing is the closest province to us, Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia’s climate is more maritime than ours and is capable of producing some great wines. Sparkling wines from the region have become especially popular and are being made at a very high quality. I’m not going to go and compare them to Champagne just yet but watch out for wines from the Gaspereau Valley/Bay of Fundy region. If you don’t believe me Gordon Ramsey’s famed restaurant in London just started carrying a Benjamin Bridge sparkling wine.

I’ve often had this Nova 7 blend at parties or as a casual drink at a restaurant but I’ve never really given it the time of day to review or do a solid tasting note on. Don’t get me wrong this is definitely a fun wine and I will continue to drink a little to much of it on a Friday night but there’s more to this juice than just being sweet and fruity.

IMG_1662-2The aromatics in this wine are off the charts and includes a blend of L’Acadie, NY Muscat, Ortega, Geisenheim and others. I get lots of ripe peaches, elderflower and mango on the nose and palate with further notes of rainier cherries and a definite minerality and salinity through the mid-palate and finish. This wine might be overly sweet for some but for me and many I’ve talked to, the acidity and minerality really cut through the sweetness. This wine usually has a delicate and light salmon colour that didn’t get captured in this photo. I usually serve this wine with pancakes, crepes or other sweeter brunch options but it also holds up well to delicate fish, soft cheeses and chicken.

If you’re looking for a drier and more complex wine a great Champagne alternative is the NV/2010/2012 Benjamin Bridge Brut sparkler. Well I haven’t had the opportunity to taste the vintage stuff yet, it isn’t offered in Newfoundland, I have had the non-vintage stuff and it was delicious.

Ever had a Nova Scotia wine? Do you have a favourite? Would love to hear your opinions.

Cheers,
Ben

 

Review: 2010 Masi Costasera, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico

My review tonight is of the 2010 Masi Costasera Amarone. Without a doubt Amarone is one of my favourite wines and you’d be hard pressed to find a more well-known and all around good quality Amarone at such a reasonable price.

IMG_1656-2

While I’ll get into a tasting note of this beast in a moment I also had some phenomenal pairings planned for this wine. A special cheese from Northern Italy called Millefoglie Al Marzemino. This cheese for those who are interested is a semi-hard cows milk cheese from Treviso, Italy. This handmade Montasio (mountain cheese from northeastern Italy with a protected designation of origin under EU law) is infused in Marzemino di Refrontolo Passito, a local sweet red wine that is made using the Appassimento method. The cheese remains in the wine for 10 days, just long enough to give it an intense wine flavour and a touch of sweetness to go along with the normal nutty flavours it already carries. It is said that the IMG_1653-2inspiration in making a cheese such as this comes from an age old tradition of placing cheese in fermenting grape must so that it wasn’t stolen or for financial purposes to keep it off of the accounting books.

This delicious cheese was just the appetizer, I also cooked up a big meat lollipop in the form of a Tomahawk/Cowboy Ribeye. I topped it all with a red wine peppercorn sauce and served it with chanterelle mushrooms, roasted heirloom carrots, caramelized onions and asparagus. IMG_1648-2

This wine displayed dark cherry, dried violets, blackberries and raisin on the nose with creme de cassis, mocha, licorice and a great minerality also apparent on the palate. The tannins are rounding and the acidity is elevated but it still needs a few more years to come into perfect balance. That being said the wine was showing pretty great after sitting in the glass for about 2 hours and this wasn’t noticeable at all when enjoying with the food. There’s layers to discover with this wine and the finish is pretty lengthy with some lovely anise character on the back of the palate. This wine is definitely going to get better over the next few years. There’s enough structure in this vintage, unlike many recent vintages, that it’s ready to cellar for 10+ years.

For me this was another great Saturday of great wine and food! What are you planning to drink/eat this weekend?