February Wine Faves

I’m really excited to be starting a new blog series on my favourite wines of the month. The first post is about my wine faves from February. There’s a good mix of varietals, regions and price range. I also have a liqueur listed that isn’t a wine, but I was so impressed I had to include it! Take a read below for my thoughts on each of the wines and links to details at the LCBO.

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  1. The 2016 G.Marquis Chardonnay is a full-bodied and rich Ontario wine, perfect for winter white sipping – $17.95.
  2. The 2014 Frog’s Leap Zinfandel was one of my favourite wines from my trip to Napa last year and is now available at the LCBO! – $49.95.
  3. The 2016 Domaine des Aspes is a French blend of Chardonnay and Viognier that offers the perfect balance of crisp vibrancy and rich creaminess – $16.96.
  4. The 13th Street Cuvée Brut Rosé is everything I love about a sparkling wine; delicate bubbles, bright acidity and a creamy finish – $27.95.
  5. The Henry of Pelham VQA Rosé is dry, fruity and easy drinking. Definitely a crowd pleaser – $14.95.
  6. The Cave Spring Cellars Pinot Gris is a wonderfully perfumed and aromatic wine that you should definitely try if you haven’t explored this style – $16.95.
  7. The Julia Florista is a full bodied and fruity red blend new into the LCBO from Portugal. Great value! – $8.95.
  8. The 2012 Château Mont-Redon is everything wonderful you expect from a Châteauneuf-du-Pape! It’s a good price point to start your exploration of this amazing French region – $45.95.
  9. The Sandbanks French Kiss is a great option if you’re looking for a full-bodied Ontario red – $19.95.
  10. The Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir is a 10/10 for me and could not be any better! The perfect mix of earth, herbs, smokiness and cherry – $31.95.
  11. The VQA Pelee Island Lola Blush is a light and fruity sparkling wine perfect for enjoying with friends – $14.95.
  12. St. Germain is a French liqueur made with elderflower blossoms. Adding this liqueur to sparkling wine makes a beautiful cocktail – $14.95-$49.95.

 

Cheers! – GDW

Sparkling Rose Gin Cocktail

This sparkling rose gin cocktail is super easy to make and perfect for spring. I made this drink as the signature cocktail for the Dawna Styles Pop-Up shop a couple weeks ago and it was a big hit! Read below for the recipe.

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Ingredients

1/2 oz Dillon’s Rose Gin

1 oz St. Germain

2 oz Prosecco

How to Make

Fill cocktail shaker with handful of ice

Add Dillon’s Rose Gin & St. Germain

Shake & pour into cocktail glass

Top with Prosecco

If you can find edible flowers, that would be a perfect addition to finish off the drink!

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Cheers! – GDW

Winter Whites

Like with fashion, winter doesn’t mean you have to put away your favourite whites. Just as you switch those crisp white shorts to cream velvet pants, same goes for wine. When summer cools with winter,  replace your light citrusy whites for more full-bodied aromatic options. Read below for my picks on how to keep white in style all year long.

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The 2016 G. Marquis The Silver Line Chardonnay is like wrapping yourself in a soft beige pashmina scarf by a wood-burning fire. Made with 100% barrel aged VQA Niagara grapes, this Chardonnay is full-bodied with warm richness. Lovely notes of honeydew melon, poached pear and florals are followed by smooth toasty flavours of vanilla. A presence of tart green apple and good acidity really structures this wine nicely. Available at the LCBO for $17.95.

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The 2016 Norman Hardie Riesling will remind you of a crisp outdoor hike in a sleek white parka. Norman Hardie is a well-known wine producer from Prince Edward County, who’s wine consistently receives rave reviews. The 2016 Riesling has strong mineral notes of wet snowy stone and tastes of baked apple pie. This is a dry wine with an invigoratingly fresh acidity. Available at the LCBO for $21.00.

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The Cave Spring Pinot Gris is delicate and elegant, like a beautiful ivory lace blouse worn to a winter dinner party. Located in Beamsville, Ontario, the Cave Springs Winery has a 30-year history of crafting sophisticated cool-climate wines. Their Pinot Gris is wonderfully perfumed and aromatic, with smells of light florals, pear and spices. It’s a medium bodied dry style wine that offers a warm smooth vanilla finish. Available at the LCBO for $16.95.

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While you may be reluctant at first to defer away from red wine in the winter, you’ll soon realize that like a beautiful white chunky knit sweater, a full bodied aromatic white wine is a great addition to your winter repertoire.

Cheers! – GDW

 

Treat Yourself to Something Sparkly!

You deserve something sparkly this Valentine’s Day! My favourite type of sparkles are the pink ones rising in my coupe champagne glass. If you’re also looking to indulge in some bubbles today, I highly recommend the 13th Street Cuvée Brut Rosé.

The 13th Street Cuvée Brut Rosé is everything I love in a sparkly pink drink. It has delicate bubbles, bright acidity and a creamy finish. Made of 71% Pinot Noir and 29% Chardonnay this wine is considered a blancs de noirs. The majority Pinot Noir grapes give the Cuvée Brut a medium body with lots of interesting flavour and complexity. When you smell your glass of sparkles, you’ll get lovely scents of raspberry macaron, macadamia nut and orange blossom. Sipping on your bubbles, you’ll enjoy the flavours of fresh strawberry chutney on toasted brioche.

This Valentine’s, the 13th Street Cuvée Brut Rosé is definitely the sparkle your should treat yourself to! It’s available at most LCBO locations for $27.95. If you have the opportunity to visit the 13th Street Estate, the Rosé can also be purchased at the winery.

Happy Valentine’s to you! Hope it’s a sparkly one!

Cheers! – GDW

Wine by Women for the Women in Your Life

Valentine’s isn’t just about romantic love, but all the loves in your life. Celebrate those special to you like your mom, bestfriend, sister and daughter. And what better way to celebrate your ladies than with wine made by women. Below I’ve selected wines created by female winemakers in Ontario for each of the women in your life.

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For your mom, the Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Brut. Sandrine Bourcier, head winemaker at Henry of Pelham, laid the foundation for her wine career in Northern France. The Cuvée Catharine sparkling wine is reflective of Sandrine’s French influence, as it uses the traditional champagne method. Also reflective of it’s Niagara grapes, this wine has fresh flavours of apples and citrus. Named after the matriarch of the Pelham family, the Cuvée Catharine Brut is the perfect wine to gift and enjoy with your own mom.

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For your bestfriend, the Malivoire 2016 Ladybug Rosé. With the expertise of assistant wine maker, Elisa Mazzi, Malivoire Winery in Beamsville Ontario has created a really fun Rosé! The Lady Bug Rosé is a medium bodied dry wine bursting with flavours of fresh summer strawberries. It will be best enjoyed with your bff après work on a Wine Wednesday.  It’s a friendly wine, pairing well with whatever your cravings may be that night – from thai take-out and a new episode of the Bachelor, to charcuterie and a rerun of Sex and the City.

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For your sister, the Southbrook Connect Organic White. The Souhbrook Winery, in Niagara, was the first wine estate in Canada to be both organic and biodynamic certified. This is in large part thanks to the leadership of Ann Sperling, Director of Winemaking and Viticulture. Ann is passionate about vineyard-centric winegrowing, which is noticeable in the lovely Southbrook Organic White. This wine is slightly off-dry with a balanced acidity and flavours of melon and green apple. In the spirit of Southbrook, connect with your roots this Valentine’s and enjoy a glass of wine with your sister.

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For your daughter, the Grange of Prince Edward Gamay Noir. The Grange of Prince Edward Winery in Prince Edward County is owned by the mother-daughter winemaking team of Caroline Granger and her daughter Maggie. The wines from their 60-acre farm are 100% estate-grown fruit and reflective of this unique area in Ontario. The Gamay Noir is a dry light bodied red with lively tastes of cherry. I recommend enjoying this wine with your daughter on a Sunday afternoon with a chocolatey treat!

Hope you have a happy Valentine’s Day filled with loved ones and wine!

Cheers! – GDW

A Galentine’s Brunch

I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day, but have always loved celebrating with my girlfriends. When Leslie Knope introduced the idea of Galentine’s Day, I was definitely on board! This year I celebrated with a 3-course brunch and wine pairing. If you’re not totally sold on the Galentine’s idea, this event could be replicated for any brunch occasion with friends or family – no cheesey hearts involved!

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I welcomed my Galentine’s with coffee and baked goods. We had the most delicious coffee from Velvet Sunrise, called Velvet Espresso, and I picked up fresh pastries that morning from my favourite bakery at the St. Lawrence Market, Stonemill Bakehouse. To add a little “fancy” to our brunch, I served the coffee in china teacups and the baked goods on an antique silver tray.

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After our caffeine and sugar fix, we moved onto the main event. I made coconut French toast – using coconut milk and a baguette is a really nice alternative. For sides, we had market bacon, berry salad and homemade maple syrup. I served the main course with the Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Entourage Sparkling Brut. With warm flavours of toasty brioche and structured tropical acidity, this bubbly paired nicely with the French toast and bacon. I tried this wine for the first time a few weeks ago and haven’t stopped drinking it since! You can purchase it directly from the Jackson Triggs Winery or at select Wine Racks for $29.95.

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We finished off our Galentine’s brunch with sugar cookies and pink bubbly. My girlfriend made the cookies using a great recipe from Zoella – these cookies turn out better every time she makes them! I chose the Pelee Island LOLA Rose VQA 2016 to pair with the cookies, and it was a hit! The LOLA Rose is a light and fruity sparkling wine with tastes of strawberry and orange. This wine is one of my local favourites – plus, labels don’t get much prettier than this one! At $14.95, it’s also a great price-point and available at most LCBO stores.

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Happy Galentine’s Day!

Cheers! – GDW

2018 Resolutions

I’ve never been one to make many new year resolutions, but for 2018 I definitely have some wine goals I want to focus on throughout the year. Read below for my 5 wine resolutions and how you can incorporate them into your own 2018 list.

1. Drink local.

Ontario grows and produces a lot of great wine! Ontarians should appreciate that we have a wide selection of quality local wine available to drink. Not only is Ontario one of the world’s largest producers of ice wine (check out the Niagara Ice Wine Festival), but our wine regions produce award winning Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A great place to start your local wine exploration is the VQA section at LCBO – a VQA labelled wine means that the Ontario Vintners Quality Alliance has approved the wine using a strict quality program; ensuring the wine is made of 100% Ontario grown grapes. Or, if you don’t want invest in a full bottle, check out a wine bar like Chez Nous that pours all Ontario VQA products. In 2018, support your local wine makers and drink Ontario!

2. Explore a type of wine you’re unfamiliar with.

I admit to being extremely unfamiliar with, and frankly intimidated by, Italian wine. But I hope to change this in 2018! A few weeks ago a friend brought over an Italian Primitivo, which I was hesitant to drink but ended up LOVING. When I looked into this type of wine, I learned that Primitivo and Zifandel are the same grape – and Zinfandel is one of my favourite varietals! This showed me that because of being “scared” of a type of wine, I’ve been missing out on some great stuff! In 2018 I encourage you to explore that wine type or region you’re unfamiliar with – there is so much wine to drink out there.

3. Take a wine class.

In 2017 I completed by WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 1 through Fine Vintage Ltd. I learned a lot in this 4-month course, especially just how much there is to know about wine! I’m really excited to be taking the WSET Level 2 course this winter through Adventure in Wine. If you don’t want to commit to a full course like WSET, there are many 1 night/day classes available in the city. In line with my #2 resolution, I’ll be taking a 1 night class on Italian wines in February. Check out classes at local wine bars like Mad Crush, or wine clubs like iYellow, or  your neighbourhood LCBO. Happy wine learning in 2018!

4. Enjoy sparking wine on the regular, not just special occasions.

There is a whole world of bubbly to be discovered, but it never will if only drank on special occasions. You’d be surprised how well a glass of bubbly pairs with Sunday night on the coach and a bucket of KFC! Champagne (sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France) can be quite expensive due to the regions exclusive geography. However, you don’t have to splurge on a bottle of Champagne to enjoy sparkling wine. Cava is a great alternative to Champagne, as it’s made in the same traditional method but costs half the price! Ontario also has some great sparkling wine producers like Hinterland Wine Company, Henry of Pelham and Colio Winery. Also, I highly recommend checking out the Sparkling Winos for some great bubbly recommendations. Pop more bottles this year!

5. Visit more wineries.

In Ontario we are lucky to have many wine regions to visit. From Niagara and Prince Edward County to more up-and-coming areas like Georgian Bay and Oak Ridges Moraine. Not only is visiting wineries fun, but you get to buy wine directly from the wine maker that is typically small batch and not available at the LCBO. I’m personally really excited to visit Southbrook Vineyards, Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery and Norman Hardie. Supporting local wineries and exploring the different Ontario terriors sounds good to me for 2018!

Cheers! ~ GDW