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Stallone and the Velvet Pantsuit
December 19, 2014

We affectionately nicknamed the 2003 – Stallone. As in: Rocky vs. Apollo Creed. A real knock your socks off A-Lister. This bullish wine was created by the very warm weather conditions that year. Mouth-filling with chewy tannins. You don’t taste tannins, you feel them. They give structure to red wine (and tea), translating as a drying sensation. In this case, however, thanks to the experience and expertise of the Drouhin house, the statuesque tannins were beautifully matched by generous red berry fruit and notes of vanilla. (Think scent of a freshly baked strawberry pie). I wondered to myself, how will this wine age? According to Wikipedia, 2003 was the hottest year since 1540. Basically, in the scope of modern winemaking, 2003 is unlike any other vintage. Unprecedented. Hard to read the future, but not necessary. “Live in the moment,” whispered Drouhin, and we did. That easily could be the end of the story, but thanks to Harry it wasn’t. A…

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A Gift from Barolo
January 22, 2011
Red Wine

Here’s another find from Sharon on her vay-cay to Europe this summer. It was a family holiday and therefore not a wine-centric trip but my pal negotiated herself a couple wine indulgent days in Barolo. The Vajra Winery was recommended by the hotel. After a quick cross-reference of “the List” (the typed out, lost, found then painstakingly hand written out slice of The 1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die), Sharon set off to explore. The owner, Aldo Vaira overflowed with pride and commitment to his craft. “The dream is not to correct or change the vintage, but to allow the true character of the grape to shine through.” (Oddly, Aldo chose to express himself in French, somehow believing this would be more easily understood than his native Italian. Sharon normally speaks only English/Scottish, but Aldo‘s passion was easily translated.) Our bottle, the Azienda Agricola G.D. Vajra, Barolo ‘Bricco delle Viole’ 2005 was a gift from Aldo’s beautiful wife…

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Mighty Mighty Rosé
November 21, 2010

In 2009, growth of the overall UK wine market was fuelled by rosé. In France, rosé wine now outsells white! And the Americans have been wearing the pink goggles since Sutter home invented white Zinfandel in the 70s. Now the trend is to drier, higher quality styles, with premium rosé sales in the States soaring 30% last year. I experienced the best rosé I (we) ever had with my dear friend Sharon. If you google “Louise wine study buddy” you will find a photo of my study buddy Sharon accepting an award for achieving the top marks in Canada for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust diploma program we did a couple years ago. I am so lucky to have such a smart and hardworking partner! (Sharon when you proof this blog, pleeease let me keep that part in). Our bottle, Chateau Simone Rosé 2009, was collected by Sharon on her recent trip to Provence. We are truly on a…

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Domiane de L’Ecu Expression d’Orthogneiss Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine 2005
November 20, 2010

Just when you think you have a clue, a wine appears as a reminder of how much there is to learn. In this lesson, our swami appeared as an unassuming bottle of Muscadet. If you’ve ever sat in one of my Loire classes, you would have heard me describe this wine from the Melon grape as light bodied, rather neutral in flavour and generally of modest quality. While Muscadet certainly has a fair following in the UK, new world consumers tend to bypass this vinous wallflower for more obvious offerings. For that reason, and compounding this issue, the examples we get in Canada tend to be on the lower rungs of the quality ladder. Here is a happy exception. Ernest selected the wine from his cellar and poured blind for Sharon, Treve and me. I was struck by how much the wine expressed the earth in which its vines were grown. The grapes themselves seemed to act as a vehicle…

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Flying Saucer Sisters
October 10, 2010

In 1954, amidst global flying saucer mania, the good people of Châteauneuf-du-Pape formalized a law forbidding “cigares volantes” from entering the airspace over their precious vineyards. No kidding. The law still exists. So in 1984, California wine guru Randall Grahm paid homage to this bit of legislative madness by creating his wine Le Cigare Volante. Grahm is considered one of the original ‘Rhone Rangers’, a group of Cali winemakers who employ traditional Rhone grapes (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Carignan, Viognier, Roussanne & Marsanne) to produce their wines. Grahm also leads the industry in a multitude of other ways. With ‘truth in labeling’ and ‘natural wine making’, hotter than hot buttons, he raises the bar by including an ingredients list on his bottles. His packaging is brilliant. From the alien crested screw cap to the label depicting a grower being beamed up from his vineyard, this “Red Wine of the Earth” informs, entertains and most importantly delivers. Check out the website….

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Pommery Cuvée Louise
September 30, 2010
Desert Wine

Wine people entertain themselves by imagining which wine they would choose if they were stranded on a desert island with only one option. For me, it is Champagne. Pushed further, I would pick Pommery Cuvée Louise. Is part of my enamour the name? Possibly. Would I love Pommery Michelle as much? I doubt it. Since this is the best wine in the world, I was pleased to find it listed as one of the 1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die. I have tasted it once before, at Pommery in Reims, Champagne. (Have you ever tried to pronounce Reims before? It doesn’t rhyme with seems. Imagine a high brow Londoner saying France without the F. Plus, it’s more of a growl than a word. Ask me sometime, in person, and I’ll say it for you.) Anyway, the Pommery Cuvée Louise in France was stunning. The wine is the house’s prestige cuvee. Its top drawer. I remember it as overtly…

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Three Little Tigs
August 17, 2010

Boy, I’m lucky. My friend Ernest has a huge cellar and endless generosity. Inspired by my latest obsession, 1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die, he offered to open three vintages of the Super Tuscan, iconic wine, Tignanello. Talk about a wine with a story. In the late 60’s early 70’s the Antinori family of Tuscany broke tradition and started producing barrique aged wine from the Bordeaux grape varieties. In 1968, the frontrunner was Sassicaia from the vineyards of Marquis Mario Incisa della Rocchetta. Cousin Piero Antinori answered with Tignanello in 1971. In 1985, Piero’s brother Lodovico trumped both wines with Ornellaia. This first family of Tuscan wine changed the face of Italian wine law. Up to that point wines of this pedigree could only be labeled Vino da Tavola, the lowest of the classifications. This became a source of embarrassment to the Gov as these wines commanded some of the highest prices in the country. To save face,…

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Wine Number One – Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge 2006
August 6, 2010

Wine Number One! I’m ridiculously excited to share with you the first wine of the 1001 Wine Adventure. Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge 2006 Sonoma Coast. For me, enjoying wine is all about the stories around it and this wine has lots to tell. First: how it came to me. As I mentioned in the first blog, I am studying in an attempt to become a Master of Wine. Here, I need to make a point that I am a mere student of the program. The MW program code of ethics (which I signed) reminds us that in no way do we want to mislead people into thinking we have achieved any sort of accreditation, we are just on a path (of undetermined length) towards the prize. I might not bring it up again due to the need for that drawn out explanation, but it’s important here. One of my fellow students and I exchanged wines after our first year assessment…

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The 1001 Wine Adventure Begins
August 1, 2010

I’ve never blogged before. Never tweeted. Never been on Cyworld, Facebook or MySpace. I’ve never wanted to. Until now. With fifteen minutes to burn while my passport photo was being developed across the street, I ran into Russell Books. I beelined for the wine section. Pretty good. A mix of new and used. The inspiration for my new found affection for social media awaited me on the shelf. 1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die. OK, maybe I will. What’s this? Preface by Hugh Johnson. Good. Like him. General Editor, Neil Beckett. Brilliant. He’s also the editor of possibly the best wine periodical written to date. The World of Fine Wine. It’s worth the small fortune it costs. I tried to go in with my friends to split the cost, but we all got too possessive of these gorgeous magazines, and now have triplicate subscriptions. Back to 1001 Wines. The 44 contributors include some of my wine heroes. Andrew…

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