Quarantine: 14 Days of Isolation Wines – Day 12

Well, another Friday is upon us and some of us are on the home stretch of being done Isolation. However, even after two weeks, we wonder if everything is ok to resume. That said, this might be our “new normal” for awhile. To be honest, I can’t say that I like it.

So with these last couple of days to complete two weeks, I want to open some old favourites and some really, really, ridiculously good (looking) wine.

Super Tuscan wine took the world by storm in the early 70’s with wines that were produced outside of DOC and DOCG zones, made with other grapes than what was allowed.  These wines are typically made with a variety of Bordeaux grapes, as well as Syrah and Sangiovese and now have the IGT designation (they previously could only use the lowly Vino di Tavola). Today, they are very much considered cult wines, and have the price tag to go with it. One such wine is Sassacaia, which is typically constructed of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Every year, this wine scores top marks from the critics and it’s a wine that many want in their cellars. The 2016 Sassicaia scored 100 points and just the other day, I sold the last three bottles I had on the shelf at the store! I get a bit giddy when wines like that go out the door!

However, this evening’s wine will be from the I Colazzi winery…a family business since 1933, the Marchi family doesn’t just make wine, but olive oil and honey! One of their wines is the absolutely amazing Ferro – made from 100% Petit Verdot. But that’s not what I’m having…I absolutely love the Libertà, essentially, a baby Super Tuscan. Made from  55% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 15% Syrah, all of these grapes are making an appearance for a perfectly blended wine! Soft on the palate with those plummy notes from our steady Merlot, forest floor, earthiness and hints of capsicum courtesy of the Cab Franc, and just a hint of meatiness and pepper, thanks to Syrah. This wine is an absolute steal at only $21 CAD on the shelf. Great balance and structure here without it being too tannic. It’s pure and easy to drink. I know I can’t afford Super Tuscans every day, but I can sure afford this! Bring on the babies! Salute!


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Brachetto: The Sweetie of Piemonte – #ItalianFWT

I love Brachetto. Full stop. I love selling Brachetto. I love people’s reactions when they say they want something different than Moscato, and then their minds are blown with something Moscato-like, but it’s a RED wine!

Brachetto is one of the few aromatic red grapes of Italy. Yes, there’s aromatic white grapes – lots of them, but aromatic red grapes are something of an anomaly. In Piemonte alone, there are seven aromatic reds: Brachetto, Ruche, Malvasia di Casorzo, Malvasia di Schierano, Malvasia Nera Lunga, Moscato Nero d’Acqui and Brachettone del Roero. I have tasted five of these and Brachetto is high on the list in both quality and flavour. Brachetto is an aromatic grape due to its high levels of geraniol and nerol (those flower notes that we always smell in the wine!)

In the beginning, Brachetto was always made as a still, dry wine. The popularity of the grape was boosted by a decision to make this a sparkling frizzante version back in the late nineteenth century by Arturo Bersano. Clearly, it was a good decision as the sweeter profile, and an alcohol level of 5.5%, similar to that of moscato wines, makes it highly competitive in the market. So much so that it the style we see most of in today’s market.  The best are labelled Brachetto d’Acqui but are often made around the town of Asti, (Brachetto d’Asti) and these can be good too.

I recently wrote about Brachetto in January’s #ItalianFWT, to introduce folks to Italian wine. I’ll feature the same brachetto wine in this post, because I feel that it truly exemplifies the Brachetto grape and the typicity of it.

La Gironda is proud of their area of Monferatto/Nizza, where some of the best wines of the world are made! They are a completely sustainable vineyard with no herbicides/pesticides, hand harvesting, and reduced consumption of environmental resources! I would be pleased to drink any of their wines and their Brachetto d’Acqui is definitely a real treat! A small family run winery fueled with passion, commitment and dedication run by Susanna and Alberto and their family. Although I have been to Monferrato, (and welcomed warmly, I might add), I will one day visit their winery to learn more about this fascinating grape, and taste through their portfolio of wines! Susanna, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re staying safe during this time! I salute you!

I decided to keep it simple: Chocolate covered strawberries and Brachetto! I skipped right to dessert because after all..Life is short! The wine is a beautiful light ruby colour with delicate bubbles. The aroma is intoxicating with ripe raspberries, tons of floral rose notes, with hints of cinnamon, strawberry, red currant and rhubarb. Great acidity on the palate that perfectly balances the sweetness in this wine. There’s also a savoury hint on the back end which would make this super fun to pair with some savoury food…I’ll have to talk to friend Bev about this and have her come up with something! Then with the chocolate covered strawberries? Totally brings out all the aforementioned flavours of the wine! 

Who needs a meal when you can skip right to dessert? Enjoy the posts on Brachetto written by my fellow #ItalianFWT collegues! Salute!

Susannah at Avvinare explores “Brachetto d’Acqui – A Treat from Piedmont”

Nicole at Somms Table is pairing “Marenco Pineto Brachetto d’Acqui and Simple Strawberry Treat”

Lynn at Savor the Harvest is ready to “Brighten Up Lockdown with Brachetto d’Acqui Sparkling Wine #ItalianFWT”

Jennifer at Vino Travels Italy is enjoying “Brachetto: The Sweet Red Bubbly of Piemdont”

Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla is pairing “Stracotto di Manzo al Vino Rosso + Brachetto d’Acqui”

Gwendolyn at Wine Predator is pairing “Brachetto d’Acqui and Grandma’s Biscotti with Cherries Poached in Red Wine and Marscapone #ItalianFWT”

Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm is “Whiling Away the Time with Marenco Brachetto d’Acqui Pineto”

Jeff Burrows at Food Wine Click finds “Piemonte Brachetto: Sweet, Fizzy and Red!”

Terri at Terri Steffes is spending “An Afternoon of Wine Learning: Brachetto d’Acqui” 

Linda at My Full Wine Glass is “Bingeing on Brachetto, Biscotti, Berries and a Chocolate Bunny”

Cindy at Grape Experiences, gives us “Bring Joy to the Table with Brachetto d’Acqui and Budino al Cioccolato (Chocolate Pudding Italian Style)”


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Quarantine: 14 Days of Isolation Wines – Day 11

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live during a different time period? Or if you were born in a different time period? This whole business of COVID-19 and what it’s doing to jobs, the economy, people’s social lives, etc, has been sometimes compared to that of war times (Specifically the last great World war) and the hardships therein. OK, let’s be honest. What we’re experiencing now is nowhere NEAR what folks went through in WWII. First of all, there was no computer technology back then. Telephones and telegraphs yes, but no www, Prime Video, Crave, or Netflix. Being cooped up in our houses with all the most advanced technology is completely different than being in a bomb shelter with only a candle for a light and a few books for company. We also didn’t have to deal with food stamps or rations. We still have the freedom and ability to go to the grocery store (at least once per week), and yes…still drink good wine.

Drinking good wine back then would also have been a luxury. Today, we can still go to the wine shop and buy a few nice bottles, or better yet, go online and have it delivered! Another fabulous modern convenience!

We talk to our friends in Europe, or go searching out articles to see what’s happening over there, but I know that Italy and Spain, for sure, are having a tough go of it. France certainly cannot be far behind, and we don’t hear much from Germany. It’s not easy and I have no doubts that they will come climbing back up to be better than ever. I salute them!

Tonight I will say Santé to my French friends and share with you a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé, from the Maçonnais, the region to the south of Burgundy making fabulous Chardonnay. For all you points driven people out there, this one scored a whopping 97 with Decanter. The 2017 Chateau-Fuissé Pouilly-Fuissé Tête De Cuvée checks all the boxes when it comes to making chardonnay (in my humble opinion). Well-integrated oak, highly concentrated and rich with bruised apples, honeyed pears, pralines and hints of spice all wrapped up in a beautiful full mouth feel with crisp acidity. Just stunning. You’ll love the price tag too: about $37 CAD for this beauty that will match your creamy chicken dishes (think chicken Alfredo) to a ‘T’

Bravo a mes amis français de preset de loin! Santé!

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Quarantine: 14 Days of Isolation Wines- Day 10

OK, I’ve been at this for 10 days now…I have tons of toilet paper, because I stocked up during the craze, but maybe some of the food is running a bit low and good heavens, I’ve ran out of wine! I also have lots of Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer but I certainly can’t consume those…although my house is pretty freaking clean! (As of this moment, there is not a Lysol wipe to be found ANYWHERE, and folks are making their own hand sanitizer at this point – the Everclear is flying off the shelves…) Is this YOUR lament?

With the clock ticking down to freedom, you may find yourself opening better and better bottles of wine. And why not? Life is short after all, and if this is a bottle you’ve been sitting on for awhile, you may not find a better time to open it. Who needs OTBN when you have COVID-19?? (Sorry, bad joke…OTBN stands for Open That Bottle Night – it is meant to open a great bottle of wine that you might have been saving for something special, only to have it go bad before you had good reason to open it. The premise is to NOT have a good reason, rather to just OPEN it and experience it.)

I’ve talked about Verdicchio a lot…one of Italy’s few ageable white grapes – a short list of grapes when it comes to ageability. I might just go out on a limb here and say that it’s probably my favourite Italian white grape! Be it from Jesi or Matelica, sparkling, passito or still, I like them all, and when they are aged, I like them even more!

I was introduced to Pievalta on one of my trips to Le Marche, and on  the last trip, we had a session  specifically of aged Verdicchio to compare, and my, oh my…talk about a mind-blowing experience. I’ve tasted back to (I think 1998) and the experience never gets “old”. I was able to taste one of their single vineyard- the San Paolo 2004 Verdicchio di Castelli di Jesi during this session, and convinced the importer (who was already bringing their wines to Canada) to bring in this extra special Verdicchio. I think it’s done extremely well for her and I’ve been able to introduce many people to Verdicchio, its beauty and ageability. I opened a bottle of the San Paolo around Christmas time when we had friends over for dinner (and blew them away, too) and decided it was time to buy another bottle. So I did, and on Day 10, it’s being opened! (For all you Vegans out there…this is certified biodynamic and vegan friendly)

Verdicchio is always fermented on the lees (the dead yeast cells) to give it texture, complexity and mouthfeel. Add age to this and it’s multiplied exponentially. Butterscotch, toasted nuts, sponge toffee, baked apples and pears is everything you will expect to find in this bottle of 2004, which in my mind, is nothing short of perfect…slight tannic structure, but all kinds of acidity to keep it fresh, and not flabby. In short, this wine is simply outstanding. Expect to pay about $55 CAD for this bottle, but well worth the price tag! If you can afford it, buy two, because for sure this bottle has a few more years of life left on it!

Just sit and drink this wine solo. Contemplate going back to work after quarantine and just enjoy it. Ruminate on life. Salute!

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Quarantine: 14 Days of Isolation Wines – Day Nine

Sigh…this picture is the view from my front window. Yup, last day of March and it’s pretty wintery to say the least. This is where I live: Central Alberta. Not only are we (all) dealing with COVID-19, I get to deal with lovely weather to boot. I guess if I want to be thankful for something, it’s that I’d rather have this now, than in mid-April (which happens…often, in my neck of the woods!) So if you are in isolation, it feels all the more…well, isolated with this weather.

Anyway…I’ve decided to feature Portugal again, but not Port! Sometimes Portugal gets put into a ‘box’, many thinking that all they make is Port. In fact, their still wines are pretty darn awesome. Like Spain, in Portugal, there’s a lot of great quality/value ratio wines out there.

Pretend you’re in the middle of summer, the patio lights are on, you’ve got T-bone steaks on the barbecue, with good ol’ baked potatoes with all the fixins’, the only missing is a big, bad-boy red wine to pair with it. Tonight’s wine is the BRUTALIS, named aptly because it’s just that. Big, bold and bad-assed..and there’s no other way to describe it! Made with a blend of 80 % Alicante Bouschet and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ve got two thick-skinned grapes, (especially Alicante) which means first of all, you have a deep, dark purple wine in colour.

This wine is PERFECT for us here in Alberta – we’re the home of Alberta Beef after all, and if we don’t like sweet, we like our wines, red, dark and bold. Period. Not only is the juice inside bold, the bottle itself is sturdy with a mother of a wax seal on the cork. (BTW, when opening a bottle with a wax seal, just put the corkscrew right through the wax. There’s no need to peel the wax off first – that’s a waste of time! When you pull the cork out, the wax will come with it!) It’s already five years old, and with a decant, perfectly drinkable now, but also ageable. You choose.

I love the description of this wine!: BRUTALIS is not exactly an elegant wine, but it’s not over-extracted either! It looks at first like a rough soul with hairs all over his chest which goes directly to the matter but without dismissing subtleties and a gentleman’s good manners, while it bombards your senses with an array of well polished exaggerations. It’s like an iron hand in a velvet glove. (Vidigal website) Well, ok! There’s lots of clove spice, cedar and black fruits of blackberry, black cherry, dark chocolate, smoke and cigar box. Wow. Lots going on here and needs that big piece of protein to pair!

Cheers to Day Nine! Felicidades!

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