Posts Tagged ‘pinot noir

Stoneleigh finds a little Latitude with Pinot Noir, Sauv Blanc new to Alberta

- June 4th, 2013

Latitude Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, from New Zealand's Stoneleigh winery

Everyone needs to find a little latitude now and then, right?

Alberta wine drinkers can find themselves some latitude in a bottle of a pair of New Zealand wines, available now in liquor stores.

The makers of Stoneleigh wines say the Latitude series comes from an area known as the ‘Golden Mile’, an area regarded for its growing conditions.

“Produced in the Marlborough region, Stoneleigh vineyards are scattered with stones left by an ancient riverbed. The stones soak up the warmth of the sun’s rays by day and radiate that heat to help ripen the grapes by night. This natural phenomenon, coupled with the free-draining stony soils, inspires a distinctively crisp, fresh and elegant wine.”

With the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, winemaker Jamie Marfell says the Golden Mile has once again lived up to its name.

“These free-draining soils together with an abundance of stones have produced a typically ripe tropical fruit expression of Sauvignon Blanc from the Rapaura sub region, with palate weight and a fresh, crisp finish,” Marfell said.

The tasting notes describe lots of citrus, as well as hints of melon on the nose, with the honeydew, grapefruit and lime carrying over onto the palate.

As for the 2011 Pinot Noir, this wine seems more my speed.

“It’s all about the stones,” Marfell says, calling it a true reflection of the land on which it was grown.

It’s described as having smoky chocolate aromas with lots of red fruit on the palate with a silky finish.

While I am not a white wine drinker, the Sauv Blanc sounds like it would be a good match for chicken fresh off the grill.

But even when the weather warms up, I still tend to reach for a bottle of red. And that usually means a good Pinot Noir.

Although, rather than the duck confit Stoneleigh suggests as a pairing, I may lean toward a good bit of bison.

Look for Latitude wines at your local liquor store, or search it out on

Earls’ Rascal makes good company for the Scoundrels

- May 22nd, 2013

cedar creek rascal 2

What pairs well with Earls’ approachable yet upscale food?

Obviously an approachable wine is a good start.

Already pouring a collection of wine that should please most palates, Earls has launched a new partnership to offer up a house label that stands up to the quality in its extensive drinks program.

Rascal Next Door comes from B.C.’s Cedar Creek Winery, which already has a pair of “Platinum” offerings on Earls’ wine list. At the Rascal Next Door launch dinner, the Platinum Merlot was one of my favourites, standing up very well to my 16-oz. Angus ribeye steak.

The Rascal Next Door White is a blend of Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Ehrenfelser and Viognier. It is a fruity, aromatic blend that isn’t too sweet or too acidic. And any white that can have me drinking it without food to pair it with would be a success in my books. Lots of tart apple flavours, and tropical fruit. This works with spicy foods, suck as Earls Jeera Curry, but I think it also would work well with the fish tacos.

The Rascal Next Door Red blends Merlot, Cab-Sauv, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. It is a light, easy to drink red, with lots of summer fruits and light tannins. For the launch dinner, they paired this with a Beef Carpaccio that, criminally, is not available at all Earls locations. It is a great pairing, and a fantastic serving of beef. Look for this dish at Earls flagship locations. Elsewhere, I would happily pair this wine with a bacon-cheddar burger, or the 7-oz. sirloin, or even a pizza or ribs.

Other than the new house wines, Cedar Creek has four items on Earls’ wine list: The crisp, citrusy Dry Riesling (paired with the prawn & quinoa salad) and the apple-orchard Pinot Gris (roast chicken with tomatillo avocado sauce), as well as the Platinum Reserve Chardonnay, and the aforementioned Platinum Merlot, which was quite tasty.

Cedar Creek owner Gordon Fitzpatrick should be proud of this partnership, and hopefully, it introduces his award-winning winery to a wider Canadian audience.

“Our wine is our word,” he told me, repeating his winery’s motto.

And their word is gold.

From the sea rises something … really different

- June 12th, 2012

cavassubmarinas

To produce a delicious wine one requires a high quality vine, the right soil and climactic conditions, a trained nose and palate and … a diving certification???

There are gimmicks – a cool name, a crazy stunt and even off-the-wall flavouring. Then there are those marketing escapades that require a lot of effort, and that in concept seem completely unnecessary but that make complete sense after execution.

That is the case with an old vineyard that’s making new waves in Chile.

It seems that off the southern coast of Chile, shipwrecks and legends of lost treasures aren’t the only things gathering in the Pacific Ocean floor – there are also casks filled with red wine.

Those wines, sitting in a submerged sea cave near the area ravaged by the massive quake and tsunami of 2010, belong to the folks behind Cavas Submarinas.

In Chile, the Pacific Ocean has always played a big part in the quality and character of the wines. The ocean brings the moisture that allows vines to thrive, often without irrigation, and has a mellowing effect on the weather, allowing a sub- Mediterranean climate to dominate wine-producing areas, making them perfect for the cultivation of delicious wine-yielding grapes. But that wasn’t enough for the folks at Cavas Submarinas.

Nope, they are also using the Pacific to age their wines. That’s right, Cavas Submarinas, which in English means Undersea Caves, gets its name from the place and method they use to age their wine. Although some of the aging of their Pinot Noir takes place in traditional places using traditional methods, such as French oak casks and on shelves in the bottle, three months of the aging process takes place in an undersea cave.

It seems that this top-secret-cave provides the low-light conditions, naturally regulated temperature – and, apparently the peace and quiet – that an adventurous wine requires to mature.

So, is this novel approach – along with the PATI open sea qualification – worth the effort? It’s hard to say.

The wine is good, providing a full body and full spectrum finish. It provides a complex flavour and woody character that lends itself well to accompanying meats. The flavours are also delectable when brought out by strong cheeses. But are all these qualities the result of being cradled in the Pacific’s womb? Can’t really say.

The one sure effect the ocean has on the wine is that it does make the product very rare. The wine is not openly available in North America and it’s nearly impossible to buy in Chile, as Cava Submarinas has chosen instead to target the emerging high end wine market in Asia with these cold and salty bottles.

The quality of the wine is not a game changer but it does provide for pretty cool bragging rights and therein lies the value. If you can get your hands on one of these bottles, grab it. How many people can say they’ve had a good wine made from grapes grown irrigation-free, at the edge of the Andes and aged in undersea caves in the Pacific Ocean?

The week in drinking vol. 2

- April 13th, 2012

Just a day late, but here’s a couple of suggestions if you’re looking to try something new this weekend.

Fernie Maple Porter: maple and chocolate collide in a deliciously forceful way, complimented with the hearty bubbles that make a good porter. Not too sweet, thankfully.

La Crema Pinot Noir 2009: This delicious California Pinot smells like a berry orchard, with a fruit salad of plums, strawberries and cherries on the palate. A good tang on the finish, but not overly acidic.

Big Rock Dunkelweizen: Part of the Calgary brewery’s Brewmaster Series, this recent offering from Big Rock offers big flavour. Aromas of chocolate on the nose, which continues on the palate, followed by fruit and caramel, with a finish that feels like light cream. That characteristic makes it perfect to pair with silky cheeses.

That’s what has caught my attention this week.

If there’s something you think I should try, don’t hesitate to drop me a line at dave.breakenridge@sunmedia.ca

Meditrina – goddess, schmoddess

- March 8th, 2012

Meditrina
Meditrina Red

I am not normally one to be drawn to wine blends named after Roman goddesses, with cute stories about Bacchus getting “all the press” and being in love “but not jus with my boyfriend Apollo.”

And I don’t know too many women who need a story like that to buy a wine either. But hey, whatever works.

I don’t mind wine blends, and expect there to be some creative attempts a naming a product. But Meditrina, with its curvy label and bright colours isn’t what I’m looking for.

Needless to say, I got roped in by a sale. I’m weak.

The sample taste didn’t hurt either.

I nabbed the Meditrina Red, made by Oregon’s Sokol Blosser Winery, at Willow Park Wines & Spirits’ wine sale last weekend.

Skeptical, I was prompted to have a taste by one of the reps pushing their wares.

I ended up buying it, despite the feminine label, and ridiculous story on the back.

A blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir, it’s a decent sipper, very fruit forward, with lots of ripe berries on the nose, and cherries on the palate. It would most likely pair well with lighter grilled fare, such as salmon, pork or perhaps even chicken.

It definitely isn’t one I’d want to cellar, and I’m sure its makers are bottling it for quick enjoyment.

But, while it does offer a light, bright flavour, it won’t become a figure of lore, like its namesake goddess.