Everything Wine And More

Cheata Nao
May 22, 2015 | Cheata Nao

Rhone Perfection!

Today I had a wonderful opportunity to attend a special wine tasting put on by Pacific Wine and Spirits. The tasting was titled Rhone Perfection: M.Chapoutier Selections Parcellaires Tasting. We tasted through 6 wines that are rarely open for tasting on any given Thursday. Two whites and four reds were in the lineup ranging from $80-400. You can understand my excitement since it’s not every day I get to try $400 wine! Every wine in the flight, except for one, was also rated over 94 points. Our last wine of the flight received a perfect rating of 100 points by Wine Advocate.

If you’ve had the chance to meet me, whether it be at the store or at another tasting, you would have learned very quickly that I love French Wines! In my humble and absolutely biased opinion there is no country that produces better wine than France and this tasting only strengthen my opinion of that.

As I combed through my thoughts from the tasting two words continually popped up in my mind: Acidity and Elegance. These two words are the epitome of why French Wines are far more superior to those of the New World. That isn’t to say I don't enjoy certain American, Australian, or Canadian wines. It is however not a coincidence that those New World wines I do enjoy tend to be made in a French “style” or by French winemakers!

What is acidity? Acidity is that mouth-watering, salivating, and refreshing affect that takes places after every sip. It is the reason you physically crave another glass. In both white and red wines high acidity is a sign of long term age ability. Elegance is a little harder to explain. It can mean different things to different people.  When I use the word elegant to describe a wine, I’m talking about a sense of grace and simplicity to the complexity of the wine. Was that even more confusing? Think of it this way. Wines that are elegant don’t try so hard to be delicious, they just are and you can't quite explain why.

Elegant wines don’t need to pull the wool over your taste buds with overly jammy fruit, oaky spice, residual sugar, high alcohol or mouth ripping tannins and then nothing more. Inelegant wines might have fierce bold flavours, but they’re short lived and don’t leave much to the imagination. They’ve showed you all their cards up front and have nothing left to keep you wanting more.

Elegant wines keep you guessing. Every swirl, sniff, and sip reveals something new and you can’t help but wonder what the next sniff and sip will reveal. You begin to imagine how this wine will change in an hour, 3 hours, 24 hours, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years or even 50 years! They are the Chanel of the wine world. Classics that never go out of style!

The first wine in the flight was the Hermitage “Chante-Alouette” 2012. Suggested retail price $85-$95. Chante-Alouette is 100% Marsanne. The grapes were hand harvested with 1/3 being vinified in wood barrels and the other 2/3 vinified in concrete vats. This wine was my favourite of the flight! Very aromatic and intense on the nose I got notes of candied almonds, honey, ripe pears and ginger spice. Full bodied with notes of bruised apples and fresh almonds on the palate, this wine had a rich creamy texture followed by a crisp refreshing acidity. The elegant flavours lingered on the palate long after the first sip. This wine paired beautifully with the crab cake and smoked salmon crostini with a dill cream cheese. The richness in the wine matched the richness in the food served and the flavours of the crab and dill cream cheese enhanced the acidity in the wine even more.

The second wine in the flight was the Ermitage De L’Oree Blanc 2011. Suggested retail price $200-210. This was also 100% Marsanne and handpicked. 50% of the wine is vinified in oak barrels with frequent stirring of the lees. The other 50% vinified in neutral concrete vats. Based on its vinification process one could’ve expected this wine to be much richer, creamier, and oakier than the Chante-Alouette. To my surprise the L’Oree Blanc had more citrus and mineral notes on the nose and much higher acidity on the palate than the Chante-Alouette. On the nose I got notes of apples, lemon oil, and jasmine with a wet stone on the very end of the nose. The palate brought forth flavours similar to the nose up front followed by flavours of burnt toast and roasted chestnuts that lingered on the finish. This wine will age for another 30-50 years! I admit the 2011 was still showing a little closed, which is probably why I preferred the Chante-Alouette. However, this wine will continue to develop and will only get better with age!

After the two whites we moved onto the Reds. In the Northern Rhone the only red grape varietal allowed to be grown is Syrah. Typically Syrah from the Northern Rhone is meatier and earthier than its new world counterparts found in the US or Australia. Northern Rhone Syrah tends to have high tannins and high acidity and could use a few years of aging before being ready to drink.

The next four wines we tasted were not your “typical” Northern Rhone Syrah. They were much more approachable young. They were all fruit forward with soft silky tannins and of course high acidity!

The first red was the Cote Rotie La Mordoree 2011. Suggested Retail Price $160-$170. On the nose there were notes of ripe red fruits and violet perfume with nuances of baking spices. On the first pour I did not notice any earthy or meaty notes. However, on the second pour which came from a different bottle I noticed more notes of raw meat and brine mingled in with the ripe red fruits. On the palate the ripe red fruits turned into stewed fruits. Medium bodied with medium well integrated tannins and high acidity.

The next two reds came from two different vineyard sites that are only 100 meters apart, yet have two completely different soils. The Ermitage Le Meal Rouge 2011 showed ripe red fruits, perfume, and hot stones on the nose. The tannins were chalkier than those found in the Cote Rotie above, but beautifully palatable because of the high acidity on the finish. The palate showed dried fruits and baking spice that lingered nicely on the tip of your tongue. Suggested Retail Price $230

After the Le Meal Rouge we tasted the Ermitage L’Ermite Rouge 2011. Suggested Retail Price $399. The vines in L’Ermite were grown on granitic soils and the vines in Le Meal were grown on clay soils. Granitic soils have better drainage than clay soils. What this means is that water does not stick around in the soil for very long. Vines grown on granitic soils have less water to soak up which results in less water in the grape pulp leaving more room for sugar, acid, and flavour compounds resulting in much more concentrated wines. Essentially there’s less water to “dilute” the flavours of the grape. This concentration certainly showed in the wine.

The L’Ermite was much more aromatic on the nose than the Le Meal. On the nose I found notes of black berry, black currant, ripe strawberries, blueberry jam and red rose petals. It was medium bodied with medium plush tannins and very high acidity. The fruits on the palate were of a berry compote with a dried mushroom finish. This wine has aging potential like nobody’s business! I hope I’m fortunate enough to try this wine again in a few years. I can’t wait to see how these flavours will evolve.

Last, but certainly not least, we come to the 100 point rated Ermitage Le Pavillon 2011. Suggested Retail Price $340. This wine comes from 60-75 year old vines and of all the reds we tasted it was the only one that sees partial maturation in new oak barrels, about 30%. The nose was intensely fruit forward with notes of blackberry, blueberry, vanilla, and sweet baking spices. The palate had flavours of figs and dried dates with rounded blackberry fruit and spice. It had the grippiest tannins of all four reds followed by a very plump and juicy finish.

If you have the chance to get a hold of any of these amazing wines try to hold onto them for a few years. They are delicious now, but they all have so much aging potential! They haven’t even begun to show any secondary or tertiary characteristics. These wines are only going to get more interesting and complex with age and I pray that I will get to taste at least one of these wines again!

At Everything Wine and More we currently carry the 2008 vintage of the Ermitage Le Meal and will be bringing in the Chante-Alouette Blanc 2012. 

Time Posted: May 22, 2015 at 9:20 AM
Samantha Torrance
May 19, 2015 | Samantha Torrance

The Versatility of Liqueurs!

Summer is on its way, but considering this is Alberta you never know if it’s going to start snowing on a moment’s notice! If you’re looking for a drink to satisfy your thirst for both hot and cold days, liqueurs are the way to go to get a delicious sweet summer beverage! Liqueurs are extremely versatile: add it into coffee, tea or hot chocolate, have it straight over ice, or blend into a homemade frappe or adult smoothie. There is simply no wrong way to drink these delightful liqueurs. Here are a few of my favourite liqueurs. Feel free to share your own recipes in our comments section below.

Rum Chata Cream Liqueur- $28.99/750 mL

Rum Chata was inspired by an ancient Egyptian drink called Horchata that was made with tiger nuts, but in the western world it is more commonly made with rice. Rum Chata is made with Caribbean Rum, real cream dairy and flavoured with vanilla, cinnamon and a blend of secret spices. Rum Chata is delectable in hot chocolate, but would also add some extra flavour to a blended or iced coffee for those hot summer days. Did you know Rum Chata is also Gluten Free!?

Cabot Trail Maple Cream Liqueur - $31.99/750 mL

This Cream Liqueur is made in Canada and is named after John Cabot, the first European to discover Canada. Made with real maple syrup and cream, this rum and grain based alcohol is smooth and sweet. Cabot Trail is perfect the way it is and can be drunk over ice. If you’re looking to add a little dazzle to Sunday Brunch add to your coffee and pancake mix!

Trader Vic’s Macadamia Nut - $33.99/750 mL

This rum based nutty liqueur from the United States takes you to the warm islands of Hawaii with its sweet nuts and hint of vanilla. Smooth and buttery this liqueur is perfect in a hot toddy for a little extra kick or try it in baked goods! One of my favourite ways to use this liqueur is in a White Russian with a twist. Simply substitute the vodka or coffee liqueur traditionally used for a White Russian with Trader Vic’s Macadamia Nut, depending on what taste you want more prominent. If you have a sweet tooth this liqueur is for you.

Time Posted: May 19, 2015 at 2:33 PM
Jeramy Torrance
May 19, 2015 | Jeramy Torrance

Summer Considerations from Jeramy Torrance

As we come around the corner of May and face the (hopefully) last snow fall of the year, a lot of folks are going to be gearing up for all kinds of summer fun. Be it patio parties, camping trips or evenings by the fire pit, there is always a great wine to accompany any outing. In today’s edition I will be sharing some of the wines I have enjoyed with family and friends over the long winter months to help spark some ideas for your upcoming events. 

Cavicchioli Vino Spumante Demi-Sec $12.99 – (Campegine, Italy) 

There have been many birthdays I have attended between November and May, and what goes better at parties than a spot of bubbly? I first sampled this wine as a last minute gift. It was very reasonably priced at $13 a bottle and had a very flashy label; Who doesn’t love a pretty label? This style of Italian sparkling wine is known as a spumante, which literally means ‘sparkling wine’, and is no indication of sweetness or grapes used. Not to be confused with commercial brands like Spumante Bambino or Martini Asti ,spumante is a general term to refer to Italian sparkling wine. In Alberta, a large portion of what is available from Italy is called prosecco. In order for a wine to be labelled as Prosecco, it must come froma specific regionand be made with the glera grape.TheCavicchioli Spumante is made from Malvasia and is crafted in a demi-sec style which means that a larger portion of residual sugar was left behind after fermentation. This style of wine can also be called off-dry or extra-dry when referring to sparkling wines. It is a bright and effervescent wine, pale straw yellow incolour. On the nose, I found it light and fresh with green apples and pear that carry onto the palate with a touch of white flowers that finishes with a touch of sweetness. This will be a beautiful wine to have on its own when the sun is high in the sky. Think about indulging the next time you have to entertain on the patio or need a break from digging in the garden. 

Les Quatre Tours Rosè $16.99 – (Provence, France) 

A beautiful thing happens in the wine industry over the course of the next few months. The delicate and pretty-pink Rosè wines from Provence slowly make their way onto shelves. To many people, the only exposure to rosè wines they have had is to the cheap and sweet version such as White Zinfandel or Pink Moscato. Rosès produced in Provence are on a completely different level. These dry rosè wines are delicate, pretty and impeccably well-balanced. Typically, one can expect the wine to have hints of white flowers and a distinct white candy note on the nose (think of the little rocket candies you hand out at Halloween). This is exactly what you can expect from Les Quatre Tours – a pretty and delicate wine with a beautiful flowery nose with lighter notes of candy floss and strawberry. Light pink salmon in colour it is a blend of Grenache, Syrah,Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a perfect wine for warmer days and pairs perfectly with light salads, cured or cold meats.  

Mission Hill Compendium 2010 $60.99 – (Okanagan Valley, Canada) 

I had the opportunity to participate in a very unique tasting. I had been cellaring a bottle of Mission Hill Compendium 2009 for just over a year before I decided to open it. A co-worker of mine here at Everything Wine happened to also have their hands on a bottle of the 2008 vintage and we were able to put them side by side and compare the differences. The major difference between the two vintages is that the 2008 displayed a lot more savory characteristics such as chocolate, tobacco and leather. The 2009 was beginning to show a bit of the tertiary characters as well, but still dripped of succulent red currant and cassis. Both of these vintages exhibited perfectly integrated tannins with a nice cut of acidity to balance out the finish. From the 2010 vintage, the current release, one can expect a full-bodied wine composed of 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 21% Cabernet Franc. A little on the indulgent side, this is not a wine for every day quaffing, but makes for a beautiful accompaniment to a special evening. I strongly recommend laying this bottle down for at least a year further before enjoying it, to give it a chance to start to develop those deeper flavours and aromas. Strong flavoured cheeses and a nice Rib-Eye steak grilled to medium-rare is the perfect food pairing for this gem. 

Time Posted: May 19, 2015 at 9:52 AM
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