As any reader of this highly influential blog will know (insert funny sarcastic font) I have a penchant for Prince Edward County and its wineries. Often I take the quick drive out to the county to try some routine wines and discover a couple that I have not had before.
This particular trip we stopped at Huff Estates, Stanners Vineyard, Lacey Estates and Karlo Estates.
Our first stop was Huff – nothing new to me, I had been here countless times for both its ambience and frankly for their Merlot. They seem to be one of the few if not the only local vineyard recently who pull this off. But, that wasn’t the goal this time around. I wanted their county Pinot Noir and had to swallow my disappointment when I found that they had long sold out. A good second choice happened to be the 2016 Pinot Noir Reserve but it is from their grapes in Niagara. Not necessarily a bad thing – just not what I really wanted. It is tasty and had that expected berry tartness and earthy-dirty wet rock smell. Honestly it tasted great now but I’m going to put my purchase away for a couple of years for sure – and I am excited to see how it grows. The Riesling was an after thought as we sampled through wines. it was crisp and drier than others I was used to, and very pleasant.
Next, we were off to Stanners which I had only read about and in our countless trips I never stumbled upon this vineyard. regrettably. Wow did I love this place. Obviously a different league altogether than from resort-based vineyards this was the height of artistry. The Pinot Noir I bought (2014) is stellar. It is everything I wanted in a Pinot Noir and more. There are some amazing heavyweights in the county making small batch Pinot Noir and Stanners is among the elite here without a doubt. (On that note, they competed at the Judgement of Kingston and placed third among French Burgundy heavyweights – this speaks volumes to their quality and craftmanship.) I only wish I had discovered them earlier, but they will be a repeat trip.
Lacey caught my eye through some reading one evening before the trip and I was very curious to try their award-winning Cabernet Franc. It’s an incredibly hospitable place and their owners are social media savvy and attentive to requests. I have to say though that while I went for the Cabernet Franc (and it was brilliant) I was really amazed by their Dorland Reserve which contained some of their Cab Franc (30%) but also Cabernet Sauvignon (70%). It was a massively flavourful wine and an award winner in its own right. I am so glad I got to visit them for the first time. While the Cabernet Franc was rated basically a point higher than the Dorland was it really didn’t matter much to me, I think the Dorland is fantastic and hope to get back for more.
Karlo is nothing new to me either and actually it was primarily because Hubbs Creek across the road was closed. (Hubbs is one of my favourites by far and a small batch genius to be frank). Anyway Karlo is always a great spot and a giant variety of wines. They have a spectacular tasting set up both atmosphere-wise and pairing-wise. Also there is a really cool cat that saunters around! I have had many Karlo Estates wines and loved them all. I actually tasted their Marquette which was very interesting and really lovely. But, my instincts were to buy at least a Pinot Noir and their Triumvirate if available. I did in fact get the 2016 Lake on The Mountain Pinot Noir which was very good and entirely local. It will need a couple of years for sure but the base is ridiculously solid. They had their feature Pinot Noir but it was twice the price and I really wanted to grow my county collection basically at the same price point for future comparison. I also got my hands on the Triumvirate which tasted awesome. As its name may sort of suggest it is a blend of three grapes – Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot a nice classic Bordeaux blend – and it pulls it off solidly. While this may enjoy some time in the cellar I think its going to be uncorked a little sooner. It’s that good.
As I surf the wine webpages/blogs etc all over the internets it seems as though most have at one point or another provided a personal ranking of wine related movies. I like movies as much as I like wine and punk bands so considering there aren’t many wine related punk albums I’m going to give this wine movie idea a shot…..
Below in very particular order (1 being best) are my faves. It’s a Top Ten list (well, technically 11). They include fictional drama and documentaries that I have seen (if something is missing I haven’t seen it but would love to know about it if you would be so kind). I, of course, welcome debate and/or additions to this list. Talk amongst yourselves….
- Sideways Ok, yeah I know, everybody fawns over this movie and who am I to go against the grain. In reality I must have watched it half a dozen times and loved it each time. (Fun fact tho, and I can’t link because I forget where it is but Paul Giamatti apparently had no clue about wines during the filming)
- Blood Into Wine This is a fascinating story of Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan’s vineyard in Arizona. Yes, Arizona. The film is quirky and fun and while documenting the journey it doesn’t get too serious. Honestly I think anyone interested in wine would love this film. (I haven’t had the wine but really REALLY want to try it)
- Sour Grapes So this is a mind-blowing documentary about the biggest wine sham in history. Rich people with way too much money and ego get taken by a very knowledgable wine connoisseur who also is a mastermind criminal (see what I did there? CONnoisseur – yeah, now you do). The whole story is so bizarre that if it wasn’t an actual documentary you would think it could be made into a theatre-worthy big budget drama (which I wouldn’t rule out once Rudy Kurniawan is released.)
- Bottle Shock Not exactly the best reviewed wine movie in the world, but really fun drama about the Judgement of Paris. The California vs France wine spectacle and family drama surrounding it makes it a passable couple of hours of tv time. While it shows the context of the new world vs old world wine battle, apparently the real-life character (Spurrier) that the lead was to portray was not exactly pleased with the job done (played by Alan Rickman). Regardless, its fun enough for a sunday afternoon on the couch.
- Somm and Somm: Into the Bottle Ok you get a two-for-one here. Somm is the inside look at a group of wine snobs who have far greater palates than I will ever have and can smell dirt from the South of France in their wines. The follow-up movie just checks back in on them. Both are cool and both can be watched with a collection of wines and a bucket.
- Barolo Boys Ok, look, it’s a documentary movie about the explosion of Barolo, with an appropriate hint of controversy. Barolo. Guys, just drink the world’s most amazing wine and watch it!
- Red Obsession Documentary on the addition to Bordeaux and the way China has a penchant for buying up as much as can be bought. Narrated by Russell Crowe (See movie below!) Great interviews with wine makers and analysis of the future of Bordeaux wines.
- A Good Year A feel good drama I guess, and the only reason it ranks in the top ten is because who in their right mind wouldn’t want to inherit a French vineyard? It’s got a good story line too with the requisite memory pieces and love interest etc etc. But it’s essentially about a guy who inherits a vineyard. Even as basic as that it would be a lovely story.
- Mondovino A really neat documentary on the big guy vs small guy or rather the effect global business models have on the wine industry. Sure, that sounds dry but it’s not, plus the film has some great visits to amazing wineries, heavily European but still incredible insight.
- French Kiss Ok, I know. Groan. #eyeroll But I had to, honestly, I liked it. Sure, it’s no documentary lol, and barely really even about wine. But there is an element of wine crime with the smuggling of a grape-vine. And then there’s all the other fluff. But it has an awesome soundtrack and Klein is funny even if fake.
….and while it doesn’t make the list because I haven’t seen it, given the recent surge in Merlot (#merlotme) interest again after Sideways may have inadvertently tried to kill it I would bet that Merlove would make this list but I will have to wait to make an update.
Norman Hardie. Honestly that pretty well sums it up.
I opened his 2012 County Unfiltered Cabernet Franc the other night because, well, it was time, AND it was one of several NH wines I had stored and kept thinking about (read: dreaming about). Man oh man did it deliver.
Before we talk about the vineyard itself lets talk about this liquid hedonism!
I opened it, and because I’m an impatient idiot, I immediately had a glass. An admittedly dumb yet necessary educational idea. It started out edgy and a bit too tart but Holy Mother of God after 30 minutes of breathing it unleashed a whole new world. I hold great admiration for those who can time a proper decant – my timing was pure luck and I got busy lol. I should have known better and probably did but, again, refer to idiot statement above. It grew in flavour but softened in tartness and became this thing of beauty. Sure, I’m partial to my home province and region but I really had no great love for Cabernet Franc. That’s not to say I don’t like it, I quite like it but I am more a Pinot Noir devotee (and I have a couple of his in storage waiting for another year or two of depth). It was a velvety-punchy kind of wine just as it should be, bold and adorably arrogant. Every bit of pepper and plum hit all the right spots.
The only negative to this wine was that I had only one to open!
As it was unfiltered there was a dusting of sediment which added to the realness of artistry. Anyway enough fawning about Hardie and his Cabernet Franc, let’s look at the story briefly….
Hardie has been in Prince Edward County since 2003 after essentially travelling the Pinot Noir world as an apprentice and is a certified sommelier. Basically, he is to Burgundian-style wines what Iggy Pop is to punk. As I understand it he has around 12,000 Pinot Noir vines, and not to take anything away from the Cabernet Franc but this is where the real gold is found. His cool climate experience and knowledge has transferred to PEC and has proven itself over and over. Oh, he also has a wood oven and pizzas onsite, but I’m afraid I don’t order my Pinots at pizzerias any more often than I order my pizza at vineyards (tho in fairness I’m told his pizzas are really good!)
Here is his little corner on the internets….. www.normanhardie.com
A bit late posting this but just had to share quickly before I forgot! I’ve long been a fan of Nederburg’s wines having been introduced to them by a friend who moved here from South Africa. It’s a massive company producing mainstream wines. Generally average price and well worth every cent. This particular wine really just popped into my line of sight recently. I had tasted the Shiraz’s, the Cab’s and the Winemaster’s line but this one seemed frankly too cheap to be true.
This 2015 56 Hundred line is a blend of Shiraz and Cab Merlot, which is pretty routine for Nederburg and it would appear it is for the value conscious and really just a quick and easy wine to serve in a group on a patio. Nothing big about it really but a solid taste for a backyard gathering. It was leathery and earthy and dark cherry-ish – nothing unexpected here, but the price.
So if you are looking for an 11 buck wine that packs a decent punch this is the one I’d grab in heartbeat. Click here for Nederburg’s flashy site!
Honestly until I checked my twitter feed over the last couple of days I would have never known there was such a thing as Garnacha Day or Grenache Day. You say tomato….
Apparently in 2010 there was a Garnacha conference and it was so decided that the 3rd Friday in September would become an international garnacha/grenache day! Screw those silly Beaujolais Nouveau drinkers and their 3rd November Thursdays, this shall be in the fall! And warm! Down with Gamay and up with Garnacha/Grenache!!!
I am a victim of marketing and peer (twitter) pressure so I rushed out and bought myself a Garnacha to partake in this “event”. I also did some reading on the “day” and the grape itself. Little did I know I had long been a fan. I had (because wine seems to always be in the past tense) quite a few Chateau-Neuf-du-Pape over the years. It was a birthday ritual that somehow ended about 5 years ago (Note to Self: Start this up again). I also have a nice Languedoc bottle waiting for the right day (which wasn’t yesterday).
So in the rush to grab a bottle I really didn’t spend much time looking around I literally grabbed the first one that I saw and it happened to be a $12 bottle of Borsao. Nothing special for sure, but above the label was a rating that is was a great value wine! Regardless there are so many better wines out there this was more to partake in the day rather than to experiment with better qualities. I can do that some other time. So off I went and grabbed some Spanish themed charcuterie for the event.
All in all even though it was a lower end Garnacha it was fun, very berry-like and sort of smoky. I enjoyed it with the meats and would grab it again for a BBQ or pizza to be honest. Good fun, I’ll have it again before next September!
I have many friends from PEI, I have many friends who have been to PEI, heck even I have been to PEI and not ever was I aware that there was a vineyard let alone several vineyards on the island. So, the fact that a friend recently brought me a Matos Winery Gamay Noir was a bit weird. Maybe I should have known about this. Maybe I also shouldn’t have bought that Duran Duran album way back when, but one learns.
Man oh man, did I ever get a surprise upon opening this one. I love Gamay almost as much as Pinot Noir. Hell, I even spent a ridiculously expensive year of highschool in Lyon which allowed me countless Beaujolais tours (maybe not countless but certainly enough that I can’t remember). This was by far the most surprising Gamay I have had. Honestly I had no expectations given what (obviously) little I knew about the Island of red sand, brilliant oysters and Anne of Green Gables. I thought of it as a novelty, a bottle my friend bought to simply say “Hey you like wine and I was on PEI so here is a gift.” Like a snowglobe from Vegas or something.
Alas, like most things in my life, I was wrong.
This was a really fun Gamay. A bigger Gamay than I am used to, but really quite nice. Earthy big cherry flavours and a bit leathery, in the good sense, not the worn glove sense. I’d truly buy this if I were able to in my province. The local Gamays in my corner of the earth are beautiful but this has a very noticeable difference. It’s not stronger in alcohol but it is indeed bolder.
Well done PEI, sorry for my assumptions! Website: Matos Winery
I have yet to find a Spanish wine that doesn’t just blow me away every time. Honestly I’d be pleased to find a crappy one but I haven’t. That’s not to say that they are the best in the world, simply that value-for-money a Tempranillo rarely lets you down. This one was in the 13 dollar range (CDN). nothing exquisite or elitist about it, just a pure dark berry flavour, woody and lightly spicy. That’s it. 7 years old, aged for a year and a half in oak. It’s actually weaker than I had figured it would be and after having read about the 2007 it makes sense. I’d rate it as a “Buy Again” and will do so. It’s quirky enough to have with unassuming guests and Ramones playing in the background. Yep, that’s how I’d sum it up.
Note: I have absolutely no clue why the “7 Years” is in quotations. If I find out the update will be here.
Here is their pretty slick website with a video explaining their wines and process…. ANCIANO WINE
Look, I’m nowhere near an expert on cider – in fact, before trying some of these, I had zero interest because IT’S NOT WINE!!!! I love apples, and especially Ontario apples but I have a principled opposition to fruit juice with alcohol (exception – WINE). I haven’t really gotten over that opposition. (Note: humans are full of hypocrisy)
This cider company has changed my mind a bit. I’m still not an apple cider fan but they had 3 types that really did impress me. So much so that I bought some for later on a hot day. These were ciders made from pear, peach, and blood orange (separately of course). They were very refreshing, the blood orange cider being the sweetest of the three. That is not to say there is anything wrong with the regular apple based cider. I bought and tried the Tortured Path cider product which is a UK inspired cider, nice and dry but just not my thing. Everyone else I was with (who are cider fans) chose this as their favourite.
This company ahs been around for quite a while and the premises sport an absolutely amazing view. The tasting room is really well laid out with county charm and the samples are served in flights with an informative piece on each cider. (Based on available of each of their ciders which is not always the full complement).
Visit their website to find out more, take the trip if you are near! www.countycider.com
This caught my eye at the LCBO (Ontario) at the end of an aisle. One reason being its intriguing name and label (Poe fan here), but more importantly it was discounted!
Now, I am not a huge fan of blends. I can’t tell you why, they just seem to confuse me, but this one was really, REALLY good. It’s called Deep Dark, and that may be a bit of a stretch as it is lighter than similar blends that have been promoted as “Dark”. I was never really sold on the Apothic Red/Dark thing – maybe on a very cold day in the winter I could be convinced, but I just found it way too heavy. If I wanted heavy and dark I’d spring for an Amarone. In any case, this wine is essentially like a wimpy Apothic Red/Dark – but in a very, very good way.
It took a bit of searching around but I did find that this wine is mirrored by another Deep Dark but made with British Columbia grown grapes as opposed to this one which is from the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario. I’d be very curious to see how it compares. I was scratching my head wondering who actually produced this wine as it was not to be found anywhere on the label. It took a bit of digging online but I did find a reference to Peller (Niagara) having made the wine. I really don’t know why that would not be apparent on the label but maybe that’s to build up the mysterious side, who knows.
Regardless, I will buy more as this was a super fun wine to taste, not sure why it’s discounted, maybe it’s reached its end of production but if you can get it, do so! I expected far less from this bottle than it delivered. This one I totally do not regret.
(Update: after speaking with the LCBO store I found out that this wine was not discounted across all stores, just the one I had visited as they were making shelf space by discounting wines that werent selling in their location).