Summer is Coming: The Best Wines for Summer Evenings

Jun 09, 15 Summer is Coming: The Best Wines for Summer Evenings

Posted by in All, Food and Wine

We’ve had a heatwave (sort of ) and so it’s official. Summer is on the way! This means long evenings out in the garden and barbecues. It also means a whole different load of wine to drink. Yes, even more different than the spring wines. After all, nobody really wants to sit inside nursing a bottle of red when the sun is out to play. To celebrate the imminent summer, here are the best wines for those warm evenings. Chateau Sainte Marguerite Organic Rose There’s something so refreshing about rose wine on a summer evening. Try to avoid the dark and rich looking wines, these are reserved for chilly, winter nights. Instead, opt for a rose that is pale in colour. The Chateau Sainte Marguerite sums up all that is right with the world of summer wine. It’s crisp and refreshing, a bit like taking a bite into a strawberry. This French wine is a must-have for dinners on the patio. Hunter Valley Chardonnay Looking for a dry white to accompany your fishy supper? This is the perfect wine to serve with prawn, salmon, lobster… Or even fish and chips if you fancy. The Hunter Valley is a prime example of Australian Chardonnay, which has become very up and coming in the wine world. It has all of the oakey undertones you would expect from a good Chardonnay too. Aglianico 2012 For those who refuse to put down their red, even when the sun is shining, this is the wine for you. After all, who can say no to a dark and fruity Italian wine? Although this may have an everyday price tag on it, you’ll find it tastes quite out of the ordinary. Serve this with some real Italian favourites – anything with tomato and basil in it, basically. It will go down a treat. Mount Bluff Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc NV Everyone has to have a bit of fizz in their life! Plus, summer is the perfect excuse to pop open a bottle....

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“Extreme” Inniskillin or winter in Canada

Jan 21, 15 “Extreme” Inniskillin or winter in Canada

Posted by in All, Food and Wine

Earlier this month I jetted off to Ontario, Canada to check out their Ice Wine Festival and while I was there, we visited one of the legendary wineries of Canada, Inniskillin. The winery was founded in Niagara-on-theLake over 35 years ago by Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser. Their goal being to produce premium wine from the Niagara Peninsula. This they did but not without a few bumps along the way.  In 1983, they attempted their first harvest of ice wine made from the Vidal grape. It was a great year for ice wine but unfortunately the birds thought so too and ate all the berries from the vines before they could be harvested. Lesson learned, the next year the winery put nets up around the vines so that the birds would not be able to eat 1984’s harvest and thus was Inniskillin’s first ice wine harvest. In 1991, Inniskillin was awarded the Grand Prix d’Honneur at Vinexpo for their 1989 Ice wine. Since then, Inniskillin has been world renowned for their ice wine which they make from Vidal, Riesling and Cabernet Franc. They also produce still table wines from Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir and Merlot. As we were in Canada in the middle of winter, we were just in time to participate in a little bit of ice wine harvesting. Inniskillin offers a myriad of wine tastings, wine and food matching sessions and events at the winery. Check out their website for more info. Anyway, back to harvesting. Most harvesting is done at night so that the berries are still frozen solid. This is done because if the grapes warm up and get mushy, it will affect the concentration and flavour of the wine. One of the main criteria for ice wine harvest is that the temperature must be below -8C for at least 3 or 4 days in a row before picking can commence. Although we arrived mid-day, they still let us pick a few grapes from the vines and believe me, at...

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An interview with Marcelo Papa, “Chile shouldn’t play the game of making blockbuster wines”

Sep 25, 14 An interview with Marcelo Papa, “Chile shouldn’t play the game of making blockbuster wines”

Posted by in All, Chile

Marcelo Papa, chief winemaker for Chilean brand, Concha y Toro, is a man on a mission to take Chilean wine back to it’s origins. Last night over a wine tasting and dinner, Marcelo told me, and a select group of wine writers, where he thinks the direction that Chilean wine should take into the future. What he told us was both surprising and exciting, not to mention, bound to be a bit controversial. According to Marcelo, Chilean wines have been pushing the maturity of the grapes too far and he thinks it was a mistake to go for over ripe grapes.  During the tasting, Marcelo said, “Just because you can produce grapes that are overripe, doesn’t mean you have to…” These over ripe grapes produce wines that are big and rich but don’t have any sense of place or origin. He thinks that Chilean winemakers should opt out of the game to make ‘blockbuster’ wines and instead focus on highlighting the true characteristics of the grapes. He feels that Chile has been following a fashion for rich and over ripe wines with high alcohol and no true identity. These wines were ‘international’ in style, they could be from anywhere. This realization came to him one day when he realized that although he is a Chilean winemaker, the wines he was drinking at home were not. He had to ask himself, “Why am  I not drinking Chilean wine? Why do I prefer European wines to drink at home?” And that got him to thinking about Chilean wine making in general and how wine was made in Chile in the past, when he did drink it and enjoyed it. Marcelo decided to put his money where is mouth is and is now taking Concha y Toro winemaking in a new direction. So what is he doing? Firstly, he’s picking the grapes earlier. Marcelo said that in the 1970’s they used to pick early to get the best acidity and true fruit characteristics of the grapes. He...

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Working a vintage, my first week on the job at London Cru

Sep 15, 13 Working a vintage, my first week on the job at London Cru

Posted by in All, England, Lifestyle, London

Phew! I am knackered. I’ve just finished my first week at my new job and I’m exhausted. When I signed up as Event Coordinator for the first urban winery in London, London Cru (opening to the public early Nov. 2013), they vaguely mentioned something about helping out with the vintage in the winery. I, of course, jumped on that and said I’d be happy to help out. Little did I know that I would get to be a fully pledged and integrated member of the team (read: cellar rat). I am getting such a kick from spending all day in the winery and learning so much. Gavin Monery, the winemaker, is more than happy to answer all my questions and genuinely wants to share his passion for the vine.  Lots of winemakers started out as cellar rats and although I may be late coming to the game, there’s still hope for me yet. The concept behind the winery is to bring the wine making experience to Londoners. It’s not very easy to gain access to a winery during vintage time but at London Cru, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of the wine making experience with their winemaker. As a wine lover living in London, I’d be thrilled if I was able to ruck up to Zone 2 (Earls Court) and make wine in a real, fully equipped winery. Well, soon you will be able to do just that. The winery is going to be open year round for events, dinners, tastings, masterclasses and even Christmas parties as well as other such happenings. At the moment though, we’re concentrating on making our wine which should be available next year. Anyway, the grapes arrived on my second day in the job and I was thrown in the winery as the first load of 4 tonnes of chardonnay from Ch. Corneilla in the Roussillon arrived. Sorting, pressing, and putting the must into tanks used up most of the day and at the end,...

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Veuve Clicquot Harvest 2012

Nov 02, 12 Veuve Clicquot Harvest 2012

Posted by in Champagne, Travel

I was invited by Veuve Clicquot to be a part of their harvest this year and I of course, jumped at the chance. For the past few years, the House has opened it’s doors to select journalists and friends of the house to participate in the joys (and backaches) of a traditional grape harvest. This being Veuve Clicquot however, we were eased into the strains of doing a harvest by being hosted at the Hotel Marc the evening before we hit the vines. The Hotel is the original home of Veuve Clicquot and had recently been renovated. A cool and stylish mix of classic interiors and modern design, I especially liked the little touches of whimsy, such as the life sized stuffed Ostrich wearing Veuve Clicquot orange sunglasses or the hallway lined with larger then life portraits. After the aperitif of 2004 La Grande Dame in the cellars, we sat down to eat in the main dining room. During dinner, we were served a very red wine, the only one that comes from Champagne, a Bouzy red made from pinot noir, I believe it was the 1983, a great wine and still very drinkable. It’s a shame in one way that they don’t produce more Bouzy red but then again if they did, we’d have less champagne. The next morning started with a brief demonstration of how to cut the grapes and also examples of what types of grapes we should and shouldn’t throw into the pannier (basket). It was fascinating, especially since it was all in French (which I don’t speak- yet)  but I’ve been around enough vineyards to get the gist of it: dirt and leaves – bad, moldy grapes – bad, no moldy grapes – good,  got it! We were giving nice clean white (!) gloves, a pair or secateurs and shown our vine. We each had our own row to pick and me and my harvest partner, Christina, got to work. There is a rhythm and system to it. For...

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