Posts Tagged ‘Shiraz

Wine Wednesday: Durbanville Hills Shiraz 2011

- November 20th, 2013
hillsShiraz2012_image

The Durbanville Hills Shiraz makes a good sipper this Christmas season.

I am an unabashed red wine drinker.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate white wine, especially paired well with food, but I can’t remember the last time I went out to buy a bottle of white.

This is even more so around Christmas. I may be more of a beer drinker, but around the holidays, and at parties, I lean toward wine.

One I’m likely to have on hand this Christmas is an affordable South African Shiraz recently released in Alberta — the Durbanville Hills 2011.

This is an easy-drinking red with a nice balance of fruit and spicy pepper that lends itself to pairing with lamb, duck or game, the winery suggests.

And, given I’m sure you may find yourself enjoying some chocolate over the holidays, may I suggest this wine.

I know purists will suggest you don’t want to pair your red wine with chocolate, and I would typically agree, but I had the chance to enjoy this wine with a rich dark chocolate flecked with spicy red chili. But I have also tried it with just straight dark chocolate, and it did the trick. But the key is the darker the better, you don’t want the chocolate to be sweeter than the wine, and specialty chocolates that pick up on the spice of the wine would also work.

That said, this is perfectly easy to drink on its own. Its nose offers toasty wood, pepper, cloves and vanilla, with the fruit and vanilla carrying over to the palate to mingle with the spiciness.

Look for Durbanville Hills at liquor stores across Alberta.

The memorable of the 2012 Calgary Winefest

- March 1st, 2012

What is it about wine that forces me to spend an hour walking the wine isles, reading labels and discovering new blends when all I ever planned to do inside the liquor store was grab a six-pack or a bottle of Scotch?
What is it about wine that when a varietal is mentioned at a party, meeting or family gathering, the conversation – on my end, anyway – is hijacked by discussions on origin, vintage or value?
What is it about wine that allows it to seep into most facets of my life – dinner table, social gatherings, bookshelf, trips, Google searches?
I think I may have figured out the answer, which has eluded me for so long, likely because, as it turns out, it is quite obvious.
The reason why I’ve spent so much time reading about, writing about, talking about and, my favourite part, savouring wine is because everything about wine is, well, memorable.
Anticlimactic, undeniably, but the truth is that chats with people who love wine, who make wine, who study wine are always memorable. The pleasant surprise of trying a wine not expecting anything in particular but being overwhelmed by the find is memorable. In return, tasting a wine for the first time, after longing to try it and having it surpass all expectations is also memorable.
So, what better way to mark this year’s Winefest, held at the Big Four building Feb. 24 and 25, then by singling out some memorable entries.
Whether they caught our eye with some clever hook, surpassed all expectations or simply re-enforced their delicious reputations, these wines, in one way or another, made for some memorable moments.

The first is not really a wine in the traditional sense but it is a remarkable beverage based on wine. Holland’s ChocoVine is in reality the anti-wine. If your partner is dying to share with you in your love of wine but simply doesn’t, ahem, like wine, this is the answer. Marketed as a chocolate wine, ChocoVine, which comes in original, raspberry and espresso varieties, is more of a chocolate liquor. In all honesty, at first I saw this product as an affront to wine, a cheap marketing ploy that sacrifices the complexities, mystery and honesty of wine by making it rich, sweet and perfectly palpable to underage drinkers. But the truth is that Choco Vine has managed to maintain the strength of the 14% base wine, given it a rich chocolate flavour and still managed to award with a light palate, which melts on the tongue and leaves little more than a warm feeling going down. No, this is not a serious wine, but it is certainly a talker worth savouring.

 

Have you ever wondered what the wine worthy of the Top Chef – USA table must taste like? You can head down to your liquor store and find out. Quickfire – Top Chef offers a 2008 Chardonnay, a 2009 Pinot Gris, a 2009 Pinot Noir, a Cabernet Sauvignon from 2007 and a Zinfandel from 2006. Apart from the novel factor that comes from being the wine of choice at one of the world’s biggest foody shows, Quickfire does present a decent line of wines for under $20. However, the true memorable component to this line is the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, which manages to present the full flavour of a cabernet sauvignon but void of most of the heavy tannins that cabs are known for. I personally love the tannins in my cabs but the experience of tasting a full cabernet sauvignon without the pucker up factor is actually a hard-to-define experience that’s worth seeking out.

Leave it to the Portuguese to make tasting a wine memorable. It was the first time I tried the Vila Real Reserva red. I have the utmost respect for Portuguese wines but I was still pleasantly surprised by the delicious, yet easy going nature of this particular wine. This wine has all the flavour and body of a red wine but was as light as a white. The Vila Reserva does what few reds attempt to do – fill the tongue with flavour but nearly evaporate upon contact … memorable indeed.

No list is complete without a personal favourite – Argentine Malbec. Conquista de Argentina are certainly a good embasador of this varietal which has created the oenological equivalent of a cult following. The Reserva 2009 epitomizes the reasons why people love malbecs – rich, full flavours that make up for its lack of punch with a generous helping of smooth. The 2010 Malbec is also delicious, sports a long, smooth finish and it retails for $14.99 – seriously worth experiencing.

There’s a coming-home-kind of warmth that permeates when one reconnects with an old friend simply to understand anew why you became friends in the first place. Thus, my memorable reacquainting with the Errazuriz Carmenere – this time around it was the Single Vineyard 2009. Chilean Carmeneres are a beautiful thing and, normally, an amazing bargain – this is one is particularly so.

Saving the best for last … thus, here is Australia’s 19 Crimes.
This is not to say that this particular brand was the best offering at this year’s Winefest – although it is quite good in its own right – but is its branding that makes this Shiraz Durif the most memorable offering of the show. The front of the bottles sport the mug of three actual criminals who long ago committed one of the 19 crimes that so offended the Crown in jolly old Britain that they were judiciously removed from Her Majesty’s island and sent packing to Australia. The wine bottles remind us how larceny, whether grand or petty, could earn one a one-way ticket to Aussie land. Other offences that transported criminals from the damp, dark, crowded shores of Britain to the sunny, warmer climes of Australia included stealing, whether it be letters, fish or roots – yes roots, being an incorrigible rogue (guilty, your honour) and even, get this, “impersonating an Egyptian.” Can’t speak to the origin or the merit of the original 19 Crimes but will vouch for Shiraz any day, particularly ones with the mug of a real criminal on the label. Can’t beat that for memorable.

19 Crimes