Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Guilty Pleasures

 Guilty pleasures.... You know, that song on the radio that you can't resist singing along to even though you wouldn't dare have it in your cellphone music selection on the off chance that someone might see it. That junk food that starts calling your name from the vending machine and you have to shoulder check to make sure no one sees you buying it. We all have a form of a guilty pleasure lurking in our subconscious but we have to keep it hidden so that it doesn't overwhelm our rational thinking.  
 For me it's a particular grape. As a Sommelier, we supposed to be as objective as possible when selecting wines. Always keeping an open mind, trying different wines and don't let personal preferences distort your judgement. That can be hard to do sometimes when the guilty pleasure demon starts to take control of your thought process. It happens to me when I'm looking for a wine, I inevitably start drifting towards the California section in search of a good Zinfandel. It's my guilty pleasure for sure.

2012 Brazin B(Old) Vine Zinfandel, Lodi California (LCBO 256750 - $19.95)

This Zinfandel comes in 2 versions, Lodi and Dry Creek valley. I tried the Lodi version which was loaded with aromas of spice, cedar and dark fruit. It's a dark red wine rich with flavours like cassis and dark stewed fruit. A long fruit flavour finish with some spice at the end.

A great wine to serve with BBQ steak or take it to a Christmas party.

Cheers !

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cartwright Springs Brewery

Cartwright Springs Brewery (  had their grand opening at the craft brewery just outside Pakenham Ontario and my only suggestion to improve their sales of craft beer is .... get a bigger parking lot because it looks like you're going to be busy.

  The turn out for the grand opening located at 239 Deer Run Road was huge and for good reason. Owner Andre Rieux and business partner Eduardo Guerro were pouring samples of great beers like their Northern IPA, Maple Porter, SMASH ale, Kolsch and a Bitter. The beer sample lineup in the tap room was 3 and 4 deep most of time and if you weren't sampling the ales inside, the BBQ outside was cooking up pork sandwiches to have with your beer. A picture perfect day to sample beer, snack, talk about beer and enjoy the weather. For those that like to explore, Andre offers a tour of the brewery, property and spring. 

  What makes this brewery so unique is the water used for making the beer is sourced from a artesian spring located on site.The spring water is so good that they have a tap for sampling the spring water. It's quite refreshing but I'll stick with the ales thanks. Cartwright Springs also makes a Maple Porter which uses local maple sap instead of water. This gives the porter a unique maple aroma but leaves the porter with it's strong (8.5% ABV) dark chocolate flavour and a bit of nuttiness at the end.

 So here a list of Cartwright Spring brews you might want to try.

Maple Porter a dark rich seasonal porter with significant kick to it. (8.5% ABV)

SMASH Ale which stands for "single malt and single hop" is a refreshingly crisp lighter ale. (5% ABV and 24 IBUs)

Norther IPA (my favourite) is a darker IPA with rich flavours and tropical notes. (5.6% ABV and 26 IBUs).

Kolsch ale is a lighter German style ale with a creamy finish (5% ABV and 20 IBUs).

Cartwright Springs offers a Bitter as well

Cheers !

Sunday, April 26, 2015

2015 Eat Drink Spring Wine and Food Festival

Wine, Craft Beer and food trucks within a few feet of each other. It's the perfect trifecta to enjoy a Friday night at the Eat Drink Spring wine and food festival held on April 17th and 18th 2015 at the EY Centre in Ottawa. Here's my picks for the best food, wine and beer selections at the show.

Food Truck winners
The Grilled Cheeserie food truck served up a "Lobster grilled cheese sandwich" that was so good, I went back for a second serving. Honourable mention goes to the the wood fired pizza oven truck (Flatbread Pizza) that made a three cheese pizza covered with arugula and balsamic syrup. Very good.

Craft Beer Winners
Perth Brewery crafted a "Maple Eh ale" with real maple syrup from local suppliers. If you love maple syrup then you really like this brew. It's a light amber coloured ale with a caramel aroma and lots of maple flavour. Honorable mention goes to the Broadhead Long Shot white wheat ale. A refreshing crisp wheat ale with some good citrus and coriander flavours.

... and some good wine
Since there were no vineyards represented at the show. I will list a couple of wines that I thought were impressive.

Guy Saget Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc - Loire France ($21.95 LCBO - 319657)

Good minerality in this French Sauvignon Blanc. Pale straw and almost clear, the wine has all of the typical vegetal aromas associated with a Sauvignon Blanc but the citrus flavours of grapefruit really stand out. An easy drinking summer wine in your backyard.

Kilikanoon Killerman's Run Shiaz - Claire Valley Australia ($19.95 LCBO -925453)

Another impressive Shiraz from Australia. Dark fruit jam flavours with a good amount of black pepper at the the end of a long fruit finish. This wine would pair very well with BBQ pork ribs or braised beef short ribs. An excellent wine for taking to a BBQ.

Cheers !

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Wine Lineage

 Since taking up my pursuit (aka obsession) with wine, I have been encouraging my daughters to try different wines from regions outside the mainstream selection of wines being offered by the LCBO. My mantra to them has always been, "Explore the world of wine. It's not all Chardonnay and Merlot out there." I think that they have embraced that ideology and selected some really good wines from time to time.
 Over the years my family has been doing blind tastings trying to stump each other with our wine selection. The wine bottle is hidden from view (usually in a paper bag) and a glass is poured. You have to guess the varietal of the grape, the country it came from and if you are really good... the region. Sometimes clues are given to help and we've all become quite good at guessing the type of grape and country.

So without further delay, here are my daughters excellent picks for this week. Well done girls!

Frisky Zebras Sauvignon Blanc - South Africa

An interesting Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa that doesn't have the same acidity or crispness that you would expect. The wine lends itself to a softer version of a Sauvignon Blanc with all the usual pear, stone fruit and citrus flavours associated with this grape. It has a nice citrus and honey flavour with a medium finish.
Price under $10 at the LCBO (237685)
This wine would pair well with seafood tacos or a summer salad while listening to Rock Lobster by the B-52s

2011 Seven Falls Cabernet Sauvignon - Wahluke Slope, Washington State

Wahluke slope is located in the Columbia Valley region of Washington state. Seven Falls is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon (87%) with 10% Syrah and 3% Merlot added and aged half and half in new and old oak for 18 months. It's a bold dark red wine with an almost opaque colour. This Cabernet Sauvignon has firm aromas of cherry, mocha and some menthol. Rich flavours of dark fruit and cherries with some black pepper at the end yield a rich texture and a long dark fruit finish.
Price under $20 at the LCBO Vintages (360222)
This wine would pair nicely with BBQ steak or ribs while listening to the greatest hits of The Band