Quarantine: 14 Days of Isolation Wines – Day Eight

For all you Riesling lovers, this post is for you today! We cannot possibly go through 14 days of isolation and not talk about Riesling at least once!

My friend Andreas Bender was in town recently, just before everything started to get really crazy and things started shutting down. He tossed aside his loathing for Pinot Gris and made a really cool wine with a blend of Grauburgunder and Weissburgunder, and called it ‘Pinot’, (my first time trying it). But of course, his favourite variety is Riesling (when you’re German, you don’t really have a choice!) and when this wine was first introduced to me, I really wanted to NOT like it. Why? The label was too whimsical and not serious enough for a riesling! But in the end, his talent as a winemaker won me over and the “I Love Mosel” riesling is a beautiful Riesling with incredible balance between the sugars and the acidity. So much so that it doesn’t even feel sweet. The tattoo on the bottle features the Mosel River underneath the heart on the bicep muscle and the wooden boxes are indicative of the boxes used to store the bottles. It’s not just a pretty label – it actually means something!

Expect to find pure freshness with tropical flavours, honeysuckle and lime notes, along with that zesty, searing acidity so beautiful in riesling wine.  I cannot tell you how fresh this wine is, it’s so freaking good! You really are drinking the Mosel when you have this wine and I love that this incurs that ‘sense of place’ that we all seem to be looking for in our wines these days!

We might be getting a little spicy with each other after eight days in isolation, so order some sushi or Thai food to pair with your little riesling! Prost!


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Quarantine: 14 Days of Isolation Wines – Day Seven

For those of you that are actually self isolating, or in quarantine, you’ve made it one week! Yay!

I must admit that today was difficult. I’m not even in quarantine, but I didn’t go to work today, so I felt a bit lost. And, here’s another confession: I’ve been in lounge pants all day – aka, jammy bottoms! The weather is not helping either. It’s pushing April and it’s still really cold outside! The sun was behind the clouds all day, and it was just…bleak. This whole thing makes me think of being on a farm in the middle of winter when it’s blizzarding and -40 outside. You’re stuck there. Fun times.

So to beat those the-calendar-says-it’s-spring-but-it’s-really-still-winter blues, let’s talk about rosé! Still increasingly popular, I’m not one to only drink rose in summer, rather all year round, as one should. However, there is still something that evokes a sunny day when one drinks rosé!

The Dal Cero family has certainly made their mark here in Alberta these last few years! The Ramato they currently produce is likely one of the top selling pinot grigios in the province for sure! But today my isolation wine is the Miralý, their rosé made from Sangiovese and Syrah, (plus a hint of Vermentino) and produced at their property in Tuscany (Tenuta Montecchiesi). FYI, the family is from Soave (Veneto), where their original property is, but also property in Cortona, and also in Valpolicella (Veneto). Fun fact: Under the Tuscan Sun was filmed in Cortona, which is the area in Tuscany known for growing Syrah. I must say that is is one of my favourite rosés, perfect for drinking all year round! You can find it for around $24 CAD.

The first thing you notice is of course the beautiful pale pink colour. Then the floral aromas of this rosé are quite mesmerizing. Throw in some red currant, tangerine, grapefruit and wild strawberry aromas and there’s no way you’re not going to have a sip! Great minerality, mouthwatering acidity and more red fruit flavours along with some wild dried herbs. It’s completely balanced with a super long finish. I love this wine (probably even more than the Ramato!) Then, if you want to kick it up a notch, go for the big sister the Versý, made from pretty much mostly Syrah, with a touch of Vermentino for freshness. Even lighter in colour than Miralý, it has layers and layers of complexity with the aromas and flavours changing after every sip. Peaches, pears, melons, floral aromas of rose and honeysuckle, and that vein of minerality. A serious rosé to be sure! It’s also something you might want to share with someone like-minded as it’s about $45 CAD…not your everyday drinking rosé.  But then again…if in isolation, why not bring out the good stuff, as you may not have another chance! Have a great evening and Salute! 

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Quarantine: 14 Days of Isolation Wines – Day Six

Just yesterday, our Province declared that wine retail stores were an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although our store is no longer open to the public, we continue our “essential service” by providing curbside pickup, deliveries (currently by us since we ran out of shipping boxes…) and we’ll take your order online or over the phone. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me. You don’t have to do a thing! Just call ahead, and we’ll even place it in your trunk for you, keeping in mind physical distance!

Although I’m not in quarantine, other than work, I am in isolation. Literally I go to work, then I come home. The next day I do it all over again. My life is on repeat for the foreseeable future. Today however, I did some of those aforementioned deliveries, getting fresh air and putting smiles on people’s faces from afar. I just asked them to wave at me from their door, acknowledging I had their delivery. I then put the boxes on their front step after they closed their doors and drove away. It’s sad really. This non human contact will be the death of me before any virus that’s for sure! Those out there who are extroverts can relate. Introverts seem to be ok with all of this!

After a long week of work (and I’m thankful to even have a job during this time), tonight’s wine is like a warm hug for me. I love this wine. Full stop. Fairly inexpensive, but classic pinot noir, a grape I don’t drink often because there are never any I really like.  This one, especially in a Riedel Pinot Noir glass makes me happy.

The Perroud Freres Pinot Noir is affectionately known as the “horse pinot”, because the label depicts a man holding the halter of a horse and smiling at it. Any store I’ve worked at that’s carried it, it’s always a big seller because of flavour and price point! Brothers (Frerès) Robert and Michel Perroud make this wine from the family’s Certified Organic vineyard. It is a Bourgogne Pinot Noir that is medium ruby in colour with some red cherry, blueberry, hints of spice and a bit of underlying earthiness – totally pinot-ish.

Tonight, I raise my glass to all of you in quarantine because you have to, or in isolation because you’ve just returned from travel, or in isolation because you’ve been mandated to.  Here’s to next week, whatever it may bring! Cheers.

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Quarantine: 14 Days of Isolation Wines- Day Five

Today is Friday, and typically, most of us would be excited that the weekend is upon us and we could perhaps open something a little more exciting that maybe what was sampled during the week. But now, during quarantine, it might be just another day, right? But why not make the day count and open something really special? It IS Friday after all…

When I first started learning about wine and diving into all of the intricacies of it, I really had no use for something called Port…I didn’t understand it, I didn’t like it, and moreover, I didn’t ever drink it. Fast forward 10 years, and not only do I enjoy it, I appreciate it immensely and it’s one of my favourite things to teach about, talk about and sell! I love explaining the different styles of port, because once people understand THAT piece, they might buy differently and then open their ports differently at home.

Let’s talk about tawny ports for a minute: the style of port that is aged in the barrel with a blending of averages going into the bottle. An indication of age on a bottle of tawny port (10/20/30/40) means that they are blending wine from different ages of barrels to come up with the average age of what is actually IN the bottle. For example, a 10 year tawny might have a blend of wine that’s been ageing for five years, one for eight years, another from 12 years, and so on…an average age of 10. White port differs from “regular” port in that it is made from white grapes – those super unpronounceable Portuguese white grapes!

Recently, I had the chance to taste through (most) of the entire Quevedo portfolio, and the quality of these wines is astounding. Before Portugal entered the EU in 1986, small family wineries from the Douro were growing grapes and making wine for the larger wine merchants in Vila Nova de Gaia. The EU legislation changed, allowing them to export their wines directly, and as a result, Quevedo was born!

Tonight’s wine is the super special Quevedo 30 year old white port. Tawny in style, but made from white grapes. First of all, most white port is crisp and fresh with no ageing and typically used for a bevy of different cocktails. This port though,  in my mind, nothing short of extraordinary.

This port is made with an “undetermined” amount of native white grapes, all blended together by Claudia Quevedo, whom I met and tasted this port with recently. White port is typically very hard to sell, but this one is a game changer…beautiful golden/amber in colour, it’s got those oxidative nutty notes, typical of aged tawny, along with orange marmalade, dried apricots and ginger, pressed flowers, honeycomb and candied citrus peel. The mouth is thick and rich with all those dried fruits mixing together with a glorious acidity that just makes you want to have another sip. Smooth with a luxuriously long finish. Wow. Just wow. White port like you’ve never had before. Finish your meal and retire to the parlour for your pipe and port. Not just any port, THIS port.

Hopefully, we’ll never be quarantined like this again (in my lifetime anyway), so go for it and spend the $130 bucks CAD to enjoy this amazingly sweet treat. Not to mention that a bottle like this could last you for months! After all, tomorrow is Saturday and you get to sleep in….right? Felicidades!


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Quarantine: 14 Days of Isolation Wines – Day Four

I’m sure many of you have figured out by now that I’m not a new world wine fan. That’s what I mostly drink, which is not to say that New World wines are bad. They are not. I just prefer European wines. When I find some fabulous New World wines, I’m happy to taste, have a glass and share! With that said, tonight’s wines are new world wines from Chile! This country does mainly export, with estimates for 4.5 billion US dollars by end of 2020. Let’s hope COVID-19 doesn’t change that figure too much! That tells me that even the good stuff gets exported, when we see other countries perhaps “holding back”.

The Santa Ema syrah and cabernet sauvignon were brought to me a couple of weeks back by Ryan (back when it was still ok to have sales reps visit :)), and I was pleasantly surprised by these wines! Old world “flair” and flavour from a new world country. Brilliant.

The Cabernet grapes come from the Maipo Valley, grown in high altitudes at the foot of the Andes; it’s the perfect place to grow this late ripening grape, its’s hand-picked then fermented in stainless steel, with ageing in both French and American oak for multiple flavour profiles. It’s pretty darn good…those black cherry, cassis and plum notes, along with the integrated oak notes of tobacco and coffee, but with that underlying old world earthiness of cedar and forest floor. I’m thinking beef tonight, or beef on the barbecue…

The Syrah grows in the Leyda Valley, which gets all the influence from the Pacific Ocean…breezes wafting through to keep the grapes from ripening too fast. Again, it’s hand-picked and also aged in both French and American oak. It’s got great structure and those amazing syrah aromas and flavours of black cherry, violets, smoked meat, and of course that typical pepper note that just occurs naturally with the Syrah grape. Lovely..and to be honest, my favourite of the two wines. If you don’t want to throw a roast beef in the oven, or a steak on the barbecue, bring out the charcuterie and aged cheeses to pair this wine with!

Many people, when buying, are at that “sweet spot” of $20. You’ve got it with these two! Whether you’re a lover of wines made with Cabernet or with Syrah, ONE of these is sure to please, no doubt. Salud!

(Are you going crazy yet?)

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