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Thursday, 25 October 2012

Viva Italia!

I had the opportunity to try some distinctive varietals the other night with my wine peeps.  As Italy has over 800 different grape varietals, you're bound to taste something you've never tasted before.  Enter the Lacrima Di Morro D'Alba. Every one of us in that room was astounded by this wine. D'arci couldn't stop smelling it, and James...well let's just say...his comment couldn't have come from anyone else BUT James!  (And I wouldn't want to misquote him, so I choose not to repeat it... :)
From Marotti Campi in the province of  Ancona in Marche, Italy, this grape is rarely found outside the town of Morro D'Alba.  So literally, this is the Lacrima grape FROM Morro D'Alba. Lacrima means "tear" in Italian.  It's name was either derived from it's "teardrop" shape or alternatively, it's thin skin that allows tear-like drops of juice to drip from the grape.

And I... have never had anything like this.  First of all, I also couldn't keep my nose out of the glass!  Distinctive notes of violets, rosewater and green cardamom.  For me, all blending into...wait for it...Chanel No.5!  What??  Thank goodness it didn't TASTE like Chanel No.5, although what was in my nose, was very much on the palate! The rosewater, violets and spice continued!

At 38 bucks, you better know this is what you want!  And pairings?  With such a complex grape/wine, I believe simple is better.  The key is to have either your wine shine, or your food shine.  This wine is worth shining, so keep your food simple like a beef or pork tenderloin with good old salt and pepper!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Oh! Wine from Canada?

I recently returned from the library.  I went to pick up a wine book I had on order.  No, I may not be in school anymore, but I still love to read and learn more about this thing called wine....

And while I was leaving the library, I became entranced with the number of fallen leaves.  Not because they had fallen off the tree, but because they were maple leaves.  It didn't matter the size or the colour, it was the symmetry of the leaf itself, and the fact that every time I see one, I see the country where I was born, raised, and live my life.  That's Canada, and that same maple leaf is on our flag.

Canada is a bit behind as far as making wine.  We are a cold continental climate after all.  Not overly conducive to growing grapes and making wine.  There are a few pockets in this vast country though that make some outstanding wine. 

Even though we've been producing for over 200 years, it wasn't the Vitis vinifera that was being planted.  Other native species like the Vitis labrusa and Vitus riparia were being used, along with various hybrids. This didn't seem to be what worked for Canadians.

Later, there came a demand for sweet, fortified wines, followed by a shift to drier, low alcohol table wines. At the same time, there were significant improvements in wine-making technology; including access to better grape varieties and disease-resistant clones, and systematic research into viticulture. It was found that Vitis vinifera could indeed be successfully grown in Canada.

Now that you've had your history lesson, let me tell you this:  I wish, I wish, I wish...that Canadian wines were more affordable.  I think we are one of the few countries who pays a LOT of money for wine from their own back yard.  Of course, there are factors involved in WHY we pay so much, but I won't get into that in this posting.

If I lived in Spain or Italy, or even Chile and Argentina, I can guarantee you, I'd be drinking some fantastic wines for prices lower than dirt.  That being said, there are more than a few Canadian wines I recommend to people when they come to buy.  And they're not opposed to spending $30 (or more).  Considering that some fabulous wines from Spain run about $15-$17, I wonder why they choose to spend that much.  I think it's because they've been to that back yard...they've taken the time to visit the vineyards in the Okanagan Valley (or perhaps the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario).  They've taken the time to taste them, to savour them, and to bring a little piece (or a bottle :)) back with them.

In the end, it's come down to this:  folks love their Canadian wine, and they choose to spend the money and buy it because it's from Canada.

Here are some of my favourite Canadian wines:

Grey Monk Pinot Gris - fresh and fruity with balanced acidity
Mt. Boucherie Pinot Noir - easy drinking and soft tannins
Burrowing Owl Syrah - beautiful and full bodied with lots of black fruit and pepper
Black Hills Summit Reserve - Bordeaux blend made in the style of French Bordeaux
Therapy Vineyards Pink Freud Roset - clever labelling; fresh strawberries!