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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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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