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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Quarantine: 14 Days of Isolation Wines – Day Three

It’s not so bad right? While in quarantine, there’s the internet, movies, puzzles, games…and I’m sure many have a “honey-do” list that just never seems to get done, despite our best efforts! However, reading about COVID-19 around every turn, might not be so fun either…

I focused on France these last two days, and now it’s time to pay tribute to my beloved Italy. My heart goes out to all my friends dealing with “new normal” over there, and whatever I can find to read, I do so to keep up with what’s going on. The world will miss Vinitaly this year; we’ll see you in April 2021.

Aglianico is one of Italy’s most ancient grapes and it’s found in the Southern part of the country. Although it’s also grown in Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise, Puglia and Calabria, it’s the regions of Campania and Basilicata where the most famous aglianico come from. With the  famous Taurasi and Taburno of Campania and the Aglianico di Vulture Superiore, there are many producers with some stunning aglianico wine out there!

Basilicata is a region not known for industry or wealth, but more for farming and  traditional winemaking; wines being made the same way from generation to generation. Today, there’s a new wave of young winemakers coming out of Basilicata that are eager to combine both traditional and modern winemaking and share their wines with the world. They are getting out into the market and telling all of us about their beautiful region of Basilicata and the amazing wines made from aglianico! It’s a grape with great ageing potentional – up to 30+ years, often being referred to as the “Barolo of the South”. But aglianico has its own personality and flavour profile and can (& should) stand on its own without being compared to its famous counterpart, nebbiolo. Pay attention, because when you buy an aglianico, you’ll get quality and ageability, but at a fraction of the price.

Tonight’s wine is the Messer Oto from Cantine Madonna delle Grazie. Paolo is one of those young vintners who loves to share his love for the land, including showing you  different examples of dirt from the various and different plots! 🙂

For under 20 bucks CAD, this is a truly drinkable aglianico that has those traditional dark plummy, black cherry fruit flavours, with some savoury Italian herbs and that volcanic soil minerality, but with smoother tannins. This wine is a great introduction to aglianico if you’ve never had it before! (BTW, Madonna delle Grazie makes a white aglianico – just fermenting the juice. It’s beautiful and that fresh minerality and high acidity would be a great pairing to any chicken or pork dish…with mushrooms!) Seriously good wine. Seriously…go find some aglianico and put it in your isolation rotation!

Paolo, if you’re reading, know that there are many on the other side who are thinking of you, hoping and praying for your region and your country to find the way back to society as you know it! Salute Basilicata and andrá tutto bene

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Quarantine: 14 days of Isolation Wines- Day Two

After surviving day one with happy bubbles watching a Netflix movie or two, reading the latest news on COVID-19, I awake to get ready for work, put my uniform on, and ensure my hand sanitizer is in my purse. What will I open tonight? Although I crave the warm spring weather, I can’t sit outside on my patio just yet, so perhaps tonight will be a good night to open a red. I’ll start light…(And isn’t it funny that you can see my reflection in this bottle of wine! )

Day 2: Domaine Langlois-Chateau Saumur –  The term Château with the circumflex over the letter A has to do with it being a “house” or an “estate”. The names Langlois-Chateau on this bottle of wine, refer to the husband and wife owners who bought this estate in 1912. Both now deceased (she in 1949), the Bollinger family in 1973, became the major shareholder of the estate. In Saumur, of the Loire Valley the main grapes are Cabernet Franc (red) and Chenin Blanc (white). I’m personally a big fan of Cab Franc, who I affectionately refer to as “Big Daddy”, and this wine pleases me! This 100% Cabernet Franc is super juicy and fresh, but also savoury and classic “cab franc-i-ness” abounds in this bottle with both black and red cherry, blueberry and raspberry, with a hint of the typical green pepper notes and some underlying earthiness which makes me want to take another sip. The tannins are smooth and non-agressive. Dangerously good and easy to drink…

Try it with some grilled chicken or pork tenderloin! May Day two be as fruitful as Day One…Santé!

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