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11 November 2007

It's Not Big It's Large

The adjective 'big' as it relates to wine often carries a slightly negative connotation.  Well, if not a overtly negative, then at least, fairly rough.  A big red wine is more often lauded for its power than its beauty.  Perhaps those big wines that also maintain an air of nuance should be referred to as 'large' or 'grand'.

Petalesdosayoosred04 When it comes to large, grand wines, one of the world's up and coming regions is Canada's Okanagan Valley in BC.  In fact, one of Canada's biggest wine-glomerates, VinCor, has partnered with a band in Bordeaux (Groupe Taillan) to develop grand Bordeaux-style winery.  Osoyoos Larose produces complex, character-full grand/large wine.  The 2004 Petales d'Osoyoos (~$27)  may be a 2nd label wine, but it's also lovely and grand.  Petales is largely blackberry, earthy spice and plum preserves.  If you happen to live near the 49th Parallel, matriculate over the border and grab this wine for turkey day.  At a minimum, try it before the Loonie laps the Greenback on the exchange front and the wine costs you as much as a 'first label' vino.

If you're still having difficulty wrapping your brain around the whole Big v. Large concept, let Lyle teach you.  His band is most definitely large rather than big.  Listen here. 


Read a Canuck Wino perspective on big wine here.

20 August 2007


For the wine-imbiber who travels, there often seems to be 'that one bottle', which surprises - not only for how tasty it is, but also for the grape varietal used.  During my recent trip to lovely Vancouver, BC, I discovered something new and very tasty from the Okanagan Valley.  I might add this discovery was pure luck - as it involves the Chenin Blanc grape, which only occupies ~20 hectares in Okanagan vineyardom.

Goldenmilechenin06 Golden Mile Cellars Old Vines Chenin Blanc 2006 ($15-$20) - This CB is textbook CB - a la Vouvray.  It possesses intense floral-fruity scents underscored by an aroma that can only be described as, "slightly earthy" and perhaps a little bit naughty (picture naked grapes frolicking in the mud after a rainstorm).  This wine's body is notably more stout than old world Chenin-based wines.  A big-boned structure, coupled with the high-volume scents translates to an initial impression of Golden Mile Chenin Blanc being sweet.  But wait!  This wine is in fact dry with enough zippy acidity to balance out its high-ish alcohol content and seemingly sugar-full nose. 

I fell in love with this wine for the fact that it's fairly rare (I doubt it's available in any US retail ship) and entirely unique.  That's the bad news - you won't be able to find it.  The good news is that this calls for an air/road-trip to BC!

Sip GM C.Blanc solo, or with, naa, sip it solo - no need for food to muck up this wonderfully tasty wine.

Read another review on this BC CB from App. America's John Schreiner.

Question:  What big wine surprise have you discovered on a recent trip?

17 April 2006

Mmm Canada!

Ohcanada (sung to the tune of O Canada)

Mmm Canada!
My friendly foodies, north!
Tasty food & wine you somehow sally-forth.

With wat'ring mouth, I raise my glass,
Wine of high quali-ty!

Such style and class,
I cheer on your Syrah - tis a beauty.

Lex, keep on posting recipes!
Eating these dishes is my life's duty

Mm Canada, I eat and drink with glee.

Dedicated to the magical pairing of pistachio-crusted beef with wasabi mashed potatoes (from Canadian foodie, Lex Culinaria) and Peninsula Ridge Syrah 2004 (from the shores of Lake Ontario).

The Skinny

Peninsula Ridge Syrah 2004 (~$20) [sadly this wine may be difficult to find]

  • 100% Syrah from the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario, Canada
  • Indigo in color with a light purple rim
  • Fresh raspberry and blueberry scents mated to black pepper and subtle tar notes
  • This is an impressively balanced wine.  It strikes a near-perfect balance of full flavor and delicate complexity.  There are light leathery tannins, crisp acidity and fresh fruit flavors.  At 12.5% alcohol, Peninsula Ridge's Syrah is no new world blockbuster - yet it is sure to satisfy even the most ardent fruitbomb lovers.  My only regret is that I didn't purchase a second bottle to age 3-4 more years.  I'm positive such patience would have been rewarded

As a table mate to Lex C's Pistachio-crusted creation, this wine was fabulous.  It didn't overwhelm any of the complexities in the recipe, yet it also possessed enough chutzpah to stand up to the acidity and spiciness of this Asian-influenced entree.  Dine-o-mite.

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04 April 2006

Salon Standouts II

Penridge More memorable red wine from Montreal's Salon des Vins.

I loved, yes loved, every single wine from Peninsula Ridge.  Burgundian Winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas, uses Bordeaux grapes - plus Syrah in his red wines.  For the whites, Mssr. Colas employs Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.  And where exactly does J-P work his wine magic?  Would you believe in Ontario?  On the shores of Lake Ontario, opposite Toronto, to be exact. The wines of Peninsula Ridge can go toe to toe with the best vino Europe has to offer.  Two wines that floored me:  2002 Reserve Merlot (~$35) and 2004 Syrah (~$20).  Find these wines even if it means driving to Canada.  They are that good.

The Perrin's new Cru, Vinsobres [Perrin & Fills 'Les Cornuds' AOC Vinsobres 2004 ($13)] is a study in harmony.  It offers seductive scents of red & black cherry, mint and lavender.  This wine is at once fruity and structured in the mouth.  In other words, it should please those who dig fruity wine as well as those who appreciate a bit more complexity.  Give it a go.

Mas de Boislauzon Chateauneuf du Pape AOC 2001 ($32) - This wine is full of black blum, prune and dried cherry scents.  At 4.5 years old, Boislauzon's 'du Pape still possesses tannins that grip.  It would be perfect with cream-heavy beef stroganoff.  Alternatively, lay it down for a few more years and enjoy this wine with slow roasted meats.

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25 March 2006

Take 10: La Face Cachée de la Pomme

Ten things you should know about Apple Ice Wine from Quebec
From my conversation with Francois Pouliot - proprietor of La Face Cachée de la Pomme.

1. Why apples?  Because Hemmingford, Quebec isn't exactly the easiest place in the world to grow grapes.

2. The Cidery's first vintage was 1994.  However, until 2001, apple ice wine was mostly a hobby for Francois and his wife Stephanie.  Currently, La Face has 16 employees.

3. The term, Neige means snow in French.  The cidery's special cuvee is called Neige Eternelle.

4. For Neige ciders, apples are harvested late in the autumn, stored until late December and then pressed.  The juice is stored outside where water separates from the sugars as it freezes.  Once the temperature dips to -25 (C; not F) the concentrated nectar is brought inside and gradually allowed to ferment.

5. La Face Cachée de la Pomme uses 8 different apple varieties in its cider, with Macintosh being the dominant variety.


The Caveman attempts to describe ice cider

Continue reading "Take 10: La Face Cachée de la Pomme" »

23 March 2006

Of Montreal

"The Coffee Shop"

Listening to Montrealers (Montrealians?) order coffee and croissant is like listening to poetry.
Seeing the reaction on the cashier's face as I order, using my nasally English, is like seeing her react to fingernails on a chalkboard. 

But then, I doubt my nasally, rudimentary French would ease her pain.


Live from Salon des Vins:
To those folks (I include myself here) who often poopoo non-grape-based wine, I say this:


AppleiceI just sampled Neige Eternelle from La Face Cachée de la Pomme, a Quebec apple & pear cider producer.  My nose & tongue fell hopelessly, madly, deeply in love with this otherworldly ice wine.  How to describe it?  Think: Your granny's fresh-outta-the-oven apple pie condensed into silky, delectable essence.  Oooo la la.

Viva la pomme!

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