Everything Wine And More

Marcia Hamm
 
January 13, 2020 | Marcia Hamm

Wines To Warm From the Inside Out


It seems every year about this time, we have a cold snap, and we are rendered immobile for a week or two at a time, usually between the dates of December 26-to around mid-February. We got lucky this year and enjoyed a mild December and even January started out relatively balmy…until Saturday. Temperatures fell to -26C (for my American friends who speak Fahrenheit, that’s -14.8F) That’s during the day. Tonight, it will plummet to -38C. I know that when we get to -40C, it’s the same in Fahrenheit! In other words... freaking cold. Schools are still in session, city transit still runs, and if our cars our “plugged in”, they start with ease. We learn to adapt here. Big hoods, long underwear, boots that come up to our knees especially made to withstand the harsh cold tundra, scarves, bulky mitts…you name it to wear to keep warm, we own it! It’s business as usual, and unless you CAN’T start your vehicle, you’re at work at the required time!


I don’t know about you, but when it’s this cold, I don’t want to go anywhere. As soon as the time clock dings after my eight hours, I’m heading home to change into my cozy jammy bottoms, and hunker down under a large, thick blanket with the TV on and a glass of my favourite full-bodied red. If I had a fireplace, that’d be stoked too! .


So what’s in your glass if you’re in a place that gets so cold your nose hairs freeze? Here are four recommended selections that are sure to warm you from the inside out!


2015 Tridente Tempranillo- Spain

From the Gil Family Estates, the Bodegas Tridente winery, located in the Castilla y Leon territory in Northwest Spain, makes this massive tempranillo from old vines cultivated on very sandy soils covered with gravel in a hot area of the Duero Valley. The grapes are small (old vines will eventually give smaller and smaller berries and/or yields), with loads of concentrated flavours of black cherry and black berry. It’s also aged in French oak for 15 months, so it also has huge aromas and flavours of cinnamon and nutmeg spice, along with dark chocolate. At a whopping 16%abv, it’s almost like drinking port, and sure to warm you up nicely!

SR $26CAD

 

 

2016 1000 Stories, Bourbon Barrel-Aged Zinfandel – United States

This Zinfandel is bursting with field berry fruit flavours, and then made more complex with the addition of ageing in ex American bourbon barrels. In order for a bourbon to be labelled as “Kentucky Straight”, it requires (among other things), to be aged in a NEW charred American white oak barrel, that is only used once. After the bourbon gets put into the bottle, the barrels are obsolete. But not to worry, used barrels are a great commodity to other areas of the liquor industry, specifically this winery, which in the past, used to neutralize the flavours before using the barrels, but now, they are used to add those complex flavour nuances that come from the bourbon itself previously aged inside the barrel. This 1000 Stories wines uses small lots Mendocino fruit with ageing first in traditional French and American Oak before being transitioned into the bourbon barrels. The charred, smoky vanilla from the bourbon barrel merges with the dried fig, dried cherry, plum and cigar box of the wine to create an overall warming sensation that is sure to have your senses tingling!

SR $26CAD

 

 

2014 Nugan Estate Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz- Australia

Alfredo Nugan, originally from Spain, went to Australian in the late 1930’s with a vision to create a great new life for his family. Of course, the name Nugan Estates is now synonymous with successful enterprise Down Under. Now in its third generation, this Spanish family is maintaining family traditions and sharing passion for good wine. Like the amarone style of Italy, a portion of the Shiraz grapes were dried on specialized racks to increase flavour intensity and concentration. Maturation took place in both American and French oak for 18 months giving this wine further structure and intensity. Dense ruby colour, you’ll find warming aromas of cherry, plum, chocolate and herbaceous notes, while your palate will be enticed by further warm and rich flavours complemented by the velvety smooth tannins at the finish. This wine will no doubt put a fire (the good kind) in your belly!

SR $29CAD !

 

 

2010 Cantine due Palme Selvarossa- Italy

Salice Salentino is a region in Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot that grows mostly Negro Amaro, a red grape that has multiple personalities – some of the best rosati is made with this grape, yet it also yields rich, dark red wine! This wine has “Terra” on the label, and only the best vintages of Selvarossa are marked with this. Ancient negro amaro vines are hand harvested from the red clay soils, and also like the amarone style, a portion are sent to the drying racks to increase flavour concentration. With the addition of malvasia nera to soften the harsh tannins, the combination of appassimento fruit and fresh fruit are blended together, with time first in French oak barriques, then finished in stainless steel to preserve freshness. The end result is a rich, thick, full bodied wine that is most assuredly able to warm you from the inside out with aromas and flavours of ripe cherries and plums, along with hints of vanilla, and the classic negro amaro spice and shoe polish!

SR $35CAD


Buy your wine on your way TO work, so you can go straight home after work to hunker down and enjoy your wine! Stay warm people!

Time Posted: Jan 13, 2020 at 6:45 PM
Marcia Hamm
 
January 3, 2020 | Marcia Hamm

The World of Italian Wine

Where Do I Begin?


Traditionally, other than pinot grigio, moscato and prosecco, the world of Italian wine is largely misunderstood and honestly, intimidating. Yes, those that follow scores will undoubtedly understand Brunello di Montalcino, Amarone and Barolo, but what about the unsung hero grapes like aglianico, verdicchio, negro amaro or nerello mascalese?


When I was studying Italian grapes, there was 690 registered grape varieties in Italy, with about another 470 identified but not yet registered, which totals over 1000 grape varieties in one country alone. To this point that number on both counts has likely risen. There is more than probably over 700 registered grapes now, and perhaps a few more identified, which still leaves us at that staggering number. No wonder Italy is confusing.


I often get asked by many, “I want to start trying Italian wine, where do I start?” This is a perfect topic to start the year off, and many new people to this group reading our posts/tweets will have a whole list of wines they’d like to try, made with Italian native grapes!


When I go the Vinitaly Trade Show in Verona every year, I make it my mission to try as many native grapes as possible, or to revisit some of the more rare ones that I can ONLY taste in Italy! Grapes like ortrugo, moscato rosa, pelaverga, durella and lagrein are not often seen in market, but are incredibly fun and educational to try when in Italy!


To start your foray into Italian wine, let’s start with something fun!


Brachetto – native to Piemonte, the grape grows mostly around the town of Acqui area and will have Brachetto d’Acqui on the label. This wine was never meant to be sparkling (the still, dry versions are spectacular) but the frizzante style has made it incredibly appealing and sellable. The frizzante style has also helped put Brachetto on the map, so to speak. One of the few aromatic red grapes, it’s like drinking red berry fruit cocktail, with rose aroma and fizz! Delightful! Perfect for those that want something besides moscato and as a dessert wine, it pairs beautifully with chocolate covered strawberries!


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 consumtion of environmental resources! That’s the whole package folks, and ALL the wines from their portfolio are simply amazing. If you have a chance to find them in your market, I highly recommend trying ALL of them!


White wine (other than those mentioned above J) from Italy is often a tough sell. I must confess that before I started really studying wine, all Italian white wine tasted like bitter almonds, but this was because I didn’t understand the grape and didn’t know what I was looking for! This is a myth. There are some white wines that offer a great deal of complexity in the glass the different flavour profiles. The other myth is that white wine doesn’t age. Period. I know this is a myth because I’ve had a LOT of Italian white wines with significant age on them and they were beautiful, complex and stunning. One such grape is Verdicchio


Verdicchio – from the Marche region on the Adriatic coast, labels will have Verdicchio di Castelli di Jesi or Verdicchio di Matelica. There is a difference in the flavour, with Jesi being closer to the sea and grown on hillsides, whereas Matelica is mountainous and cool, so the wines tend to be more mineral and austere with higher acidity. Both of these have lees ageing though, which is what sets Verdicchio apart. Lees is the dead yeast cells, and after the yeast has finished changing the sugars to alcohol, it falls to the bottom of the barrel as lees. The lees stays in the wine and stirred in to add texture and mouth feel to the final product. Verdicchio is one of the few wines that has the ability to age. No small feat for white wine. I have tasted Verdicchio back to 1998 and the acid structure is still incredibly high, but the typical flavours of pears, yellow apples (and yes, almond) have changed to a rich butterscotch and sponge toffee aroma and flavour. And like any white wine with age, dark in colour.


Lorenzo Marotti Campi of Marotti Campi wines, showcases several Verdicchio in the portfolio, but when I have chardonnay drinkers approach me for something different, Lorenzo’s Salmariano Verdicchio is always the first wine I think of! With 20 % aged in oak barrels and the other 80% done typically in stainless steel with lees contact, it’s got the best of both worlds in freshness and mouth feel. The stainless ageing keeps it fresh and lively, yet the small amount in oak gives it the warm, glycerol, full body, rich mouth feel that often comes from drinking full bodied white wines – a perfect foray for the chardonnay drinker to try something Italian!


Carricante – This, my friends, is another ageable Italian white grape! Carricante you say? Where the heck is this from? If you’ve heard of Mount Etna and have had either white or red from the region, you have most assuredly had Carricante! Labeled Etna Bianco, there can be an additional 30% of a grape called cataratto, but the best of Etna Bianco, are 100% carricante and a must try Italian wine! Normally I would talk about the red grape of Mt Etna (because it happens to be my favourite), but recent trip to Sicily and the Mt Etna area, gave me a view through the microscope of this fabulous region. Wines from Sicily are hot, hot, hot right now, but none moreso than the grapes of Mt. Etna. Carricante can grow up to 1000m, yet still ripen in these cool, mountainous temperatures.


Pietradolce is a winery on the northern slopes of Mt Etna, which as one might think, is cooler than other parts of the mountain. It’s also one of the more prestigious areas, so wines coming from the northern slopes seem to have a certain caché about them. Their 100% Etna Bianco wine is eye catching because it is the bottle with “scribbles on the label”, which represents the explosive energy of the volcano itself! (the red has red scribbles and the rosé, pink, making these bottles easily recognizable). Using a combination of rich local traditions and modern winemaking techniques, Pietradolce is making a name for itself in an area that is becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Time Posted: Jan 3, 2020 at 10:33 AM
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