“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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Casillero del Diablo pinot grigio and Korean food

Nov 12, 12 Casillero del Diablo pinot grigio and Korean food

Posted by in Chile, Food and Wine, restaurants

I originally wrote this for the (Casillero del ) Diablo supperclub blog a few months ago: Pinot grigio is usually thought of as a quick quaffer. Not much thought goes into buying a pinot grigio. Easygoing, light, usually with a log of lemon on the palate and not much else. Most don’t give it much thought as they glug it down on a Friday after work at the pub. However, there are options to which pinot grigio you choose to drink. Originally from Italy, pinot grigio is grown around the world now and one place it has found a home is in the valleys of Chile. Most would pair pinto grigio with fish or seafood because of it’s light body and crispness but Casillero’s pinot grigio actually has a bit more body and weight to it then the average pinot available in the supermarkets. I stumbled upon CyD’s pinot grigio one Friday night in of all places, a Korean restaurant in Central London. My friend and I were wandering around Centrepoint which has a string of Korean joints and settled on Assa which seemed to be the busiest and biggest of the 3 or 4 restaurants that line St. Giles Street. Korean food is quite spicy and full of ginger and chilli so when I was looking at the minimal wine list, I didn’t  have much hope in my mind but their house wine was the Casillero del Diablo pinot grigio and as we didn’t want beer, we plumped for the wine. I was with my Japanese friend Honami who knew a lot more about Korean cuisine then me so I let her do the ordering. We of course had the obligatory kimchee, spicy! As well as ordering bim bim bap, (vegetables and rice with a spicy sauce), squid with chili, and Korean spare ribs. All the dishes were quite heavily spiced and at first I wasn’t sure if the pinot grigio would stand up to the spices and chili but the wine had...

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Can’t touch this….La Tunella Friulano

Don’tcha just hate when you go away on holiday discover this great wine and then when you get back home, find out that it’s not available in your home county? Well, now you know how I feel after a recent tasting I had with Giovanna Borreri of La Tunella and  their importer Corney&Barrow at Tsuru sushi in Bishopsgate. La Tunella was the name and white wines were primarily the game that afternoon. La Tunella is a family owned winery situated in the north of Italy, Colli Orientali del Friuli to be exact. Friuli is known for the exceptionally mineral laden and elegant white wines they produce. The region is divided into 8 D.O.C.’s with a very distinct terroir of sandstone and marl and a favourable and unique microclimate which shields the grapes from the Alpine winds coming down from the north while still allowing the warm breezes of the Adriatic to waft up and warm the grapes. La Tunella take their terroir seriously and even brought along a small box of the flat rocks that make up the terrain. La Tunella really does rock! We got down to tasting and matching the wines with the sushi and curry. The 2008 pinot grigio while at first, a good specimen of what pinot grigio should be, really woke up in the mouth when combined with the sushi. It was a great food wine,crunchy minerality and balance of fruit with an bright lemon-lime finish. All too often pinot grigio is an insipid, pallid, glass of lemon water but here was a pinot grigio that was worth the £10 asking price. The 2008 Friulano however, was the wine that we all raved about. Friulano used to be called Tokay Friulano but the Hungarians took issue with the use of the word tokay and in 2007, the Italians were forced to drop the tokay part of the name. No matter, it is still a fantastic wine and Friulano refers not only to the grape but also the land and...

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German Pinot Grigio, Heger Oktav 2008

Yes, you read that right, GERMAN pinot grigio or grauburgunder as they say in German. It seems that the Italians do not have a monopoly on European pinot grigio. The Germans have also gotten into the act, although Heger has been making wine since 1935. The winery was founded by Dr. Max Heger near the town of Ihringen in what is one of the warmest parts of Germany, the Kaiserstulh region, which is dominated by a long extinct volcano. It’s warm enough here to grow cabernet sauvignon and Ihringen supposedly has the highest average temperatures in Germany. Heger has a reputation for knowing how to work with barrique barrels to age their wines. The wine we tasted, the Heger Oktav 2008 had spent time in large oak barrels which did much to produce a robust yet subtle wine. I was introduced to this wine by who else? The WineRambler. He just loves to spring all these, what we would consider, non-traditonal German wines on The Winesleuth. The Germans however, have been working with various international varietals for many years. It’s only now that I’m discovering all the other types of wines that Germany  has to offer.   Back to the wine, a lovely yellow in colour, this pinot grigio was certainly like no other I had ever tried. Even the more expensive Italian pinot grigio’s were nothing like this one. Toasted oak notes on the  nose with some ripe apple and honey notes following onto the palate. An elegant yet powerful wine, a startling surprise. Orange peel, lanolin and very mouthwatering. This wine had loads of character and a definitive orange/clementine profile with a certain spiciness on the palate that I coudn’t quite put my finger on. Very well balanced with an supply mouthfeel but at the same time a prickling sensation on the gums which just made it all the more interesting to drink. It finished however, not with a bang but more like a thief in the night. One minute it was there and the next it was gone! Nonetheless, I enjoyed this...

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Castello Banfi Brunello and a long Friday lunch

My infatuation with Italian wine continues. A is for Amarone. B is for Brunello di Montelcino, bodalicious, complex, tasty, lipsmackingly satisfying (ok,so I’m skipping around the alphabet and making up words) you get the point, I do love those Italians. Growing up with only the familiar wicker covered funnily shaped bottles of Chianti, that was my only exposure to Italian wine, that and the cheap dross I encountered when I first came to London as a student. The good old days. Why do they call them the good old days? I’d much rather be in the now and the fabulous wines I had the other day at lunch. A typical wet, dreary London afternoon found me on Savile Row on my way to the smart Italian restaurant, Sartoria, for lunch with Bibendum and Cristina Mariani-May (the next generation and co-CEO of the company) and Dante Cecchini (regional manager) of Castello Banfi . Bibendum is now importing the Castello Banfi range into the UK so this was our opportunity to sample their wares. Castello Banfi orginally started out importing Italian wines to America early in the 20th century and built up a very successful import business but in 1978 they decided to head back to their native land and founded the Castello Banfi Vineyard Estate. Once there they spent a considerable amount of time and money on research and are now one of the leaders of classifying sangiovese from Tuscany.  They’ve spent over 30 years on research and catalogued over 160 clones which they’ve narrowed that down to the 15 best clones for their wines. And Castello Banfi has generously shared their research with the world because they believe ..”all ships will rise when the tide comes in…” and their research can only benefit all of Montalcino. Castello Banfi were also one of the first to plant international varieties in Tuscany, creating the “super-Tuscans” and we got to sample one during lunch. Nothing more civilized then a 5 course meal with matching wines for lunch, now is there? The food was fantastic but the real stars of the...

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