It’s South Africa’s National Braai Day today Sept 24. Braai means Barbecue. You might ask why we are celebrating Barbecue Day now when winter is just over the horizon, but for South Africans who are in the southern hemisphere this is the first of spring, when you set the chairs on the deck despite the cool breezes and say “Come on sun, bring on the good times.”
I guess that’s why they market Canada’s Braai Day on Sept 20 before the first day of fall as a final celebration of the great barbecues of the summer before you put the patio furniture away Continue reading →
Melnik Castle, a thousand years of history, the largest vineyard in Bohemia, impressive barrel cellars that may once have been dungeons, and massive oak wine barrels built on site emblazoned with the family crest and other carvings. What’s not to love?
Step on the gas, don’t let Test Drive at Rosehall Theatre pass you by.
Rosehall Theatre has got to be one of the nicest venues to spend a summer evening. Theatre goers are on risers under a large canopy close to the stage with a back drop of acres of Rosehall Run vines. The play put on by Festival Players could be a disaster but you’d still enjoy the view. Which is why, when I was told I could exchange my opening night tickets to Test Drive for later in the season, I bet on the view.
The problem was that the lead actor had left the show and his replacement, Douglas Hughes, had only had six days to prepare to take his place. The director, Sarah Phillips, confessed to the opening night crowd, she had absolutely no idea how the show would go but we were to expect some ad-libbing, surprises and even the odd whispered cue. Continue reading →
I love reading the Awards list for the All Canadian Wine Championships .It felt like old home week, when I could catch up on old friends and see how well they are doing and look for what wines to buy and wineries to visit. As a former Maritimer, the success of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick wineries was intoxicating.
Avondale Sky Winery
Last year, I visited Avondale Sky for the first tine, a picturesque new winery built in an historic church that they had rescued from demolition and floated across the bay on a barge to its new home on their vineyard. The winemaker is a very engaging young man, Ben Swetnam, and I liked everything I tasted. Obviously the people at the ACWC did too. They won double gold in single white hybrids for their 2013 Bliss, gold for their hybrid white blend Cheverie 2012, bronze for their 2013 Tidal Bay. and bronze for their late harvest Martock 2013.
I discovered Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 last spring when I visited Nova Scotia. The friendly folks at Bishop’s Cellar, one of the province’s four private wine stores, described a marketing campaign for the Nova 7 annual release similar to that of Beaujolais Nouveau.
They told me about publicity that leads up to its Victoria Day Weekend release and banners proclaiming “it’s Nova 7 Time!” festooning an entire wall of their wine store stocked high with bottles of Nova 7. It’s routinely sold out as the enthusiastic customers rush to purchase a summer supply.
This year Benjamin Bridge, the not so secret weapon of the Nova Scotia wine industry, is taking on the country. With the largest production ever for the small Gaspereau Valley winery, they have 11,000 cases of Nova 7 on their way to market in eight provinces and the Yukon. Only Saskatchewan and Newfoundland have been left out in the cold. Continue reading →
This was going to be my April Fool’s Blog about how Gewurztraminer wine is hatched from eggs. I even had a photo to prove it but last week was so frantic I didn’t get it written.
Several Prince Edward County Wineries make surprisingly good Gewurztraminer Lacey Estates,Sugarbush and Lighthal Vineyards leap to mind but really the climate in Niagara and Pelée Island gives their wineries a better chance of getting the full Gevurz flavour right.
The wine: Carlton Vineyard Outlier Gewurztraminer. 2012 $25
This Showcase wine is called Outlier because it comes from a patch of Gerwurz vines in a section of Carlton Vineyards where it is surrounded by red wine vines. It picked late in the season at full ripeness. Continue reading →
VQA regulations limit the use of hybrid grapes in Ontario wines sold through the LCBO even though the hybrids’ mix of European and Canadian grape varietals makes them very hardy and disease resistant. The VQA preference is for European vinifera which do well especially in Niagara because of the long hot growing season and short winter. In Prince Edward County, they have to bury the European vines over the winter to protect them. This year’s bitterly cold winter has damaged a lot of the European vines in Niagara but the hybrids have survived, causing some winemakers to take another look at hybrids as part of their plantings.
Nova Scotia’s growing season is so much shorter and cooler that they have embraced the science of hybrid grapes and have developed a wide selection of varietals that delight the palate especially unique citrusy, flowery, aromatic whites that thrive in their climate. Although l’Acadie is the provincial staple, this week’s wine of the week is from a white hybrid that is incredibly versatile. It is wonderful alone, spices up the provincial Tidal Bay appellation wine, is a key element in Benjamin Bridge’s Nova 7 and really rocks when blended with Vidal grapes in an icewine.
The wine: Gaspereau Muscat 2011 $19.99
The wine is salmon pink and described as having intense tropical fruit aromas of lychee, passion fruit and pink grapefruit and a touch of fresh mint. Sweet on the nose, the wine is dry with a long grapefruit finish. Continue reading →
Crunching themes of versatile winter whites, my favourite wines and Saint Patrick’s Day lead me to one special winery for Wine of the Week #11. Rosehall Run Winery in Prince Edward County, is where Dan Sullivan, whose forbears came over from Ireland in the 1850s, keeps his gold in a bottle.
The wine: JCR Chardonnay 2011 $29.95.
It was made from grapes harvested from the oldest chardonnay vines on the estate, barrel fermented. and aged for 14 months in 30% new and 70% spent large French oak puncheons. The barrel fermentation allowed the lees (spent yeast) to coat the barrel softening the impact of the oak, giving a creamy taste to the wine.
The owner/winemaker: Dan Sullivan.
Sullivan began as an amateur learning from some of Niagara’s leading winemakers during his days of home winemaking when he bought and pressed Niagara grapes. These days, Dan is a director of the Ontario Wine Council and has been a certified Canadian Wine Judge. His wines, especially Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs have received international attention.
The winery: Rosehall Run estate winery is owned in partnership by Dan and Lynn Sullivan with Lynn’s brother-in-law Cam (JCR) and sister Cindy Reston as silent partners. It is located between Hillier and Wellington on the Greer Road in Prince Edward County. Continue reading →
l’Acadie grapes are a hardy white hybrid ideal for Nova Scotia’s climate. It is the backbone of most of the table wines, blends, and bubbly produced in the province. So incredibly versatile, some winemakers are pushing the limits of what it can do. My choice for Wine of Week #10 is this oaked l’Acadie another versatile winter white for March.
The wine: l’Acadie Fumé 2010 $.18.99
l’Acadie wine aged in new French and American oak. Described by the winemaker as ‘unlike any l’Acadie Blanc you’ve tried before.”
During this snowy March, I’m reveling in white – beautiful white wines that live in my wine cellar full of memories of a lovely day and a lovely taste. These are my “go to” wines, that have to be replenished and provide an incentive to go wine touring again. This is my choice wine for Week 9 of 2014.
The wine: The Devil’s Wishbone Riesling
The winery: The Devil’s Wishbone
A beautiful old barn winery on County Road 7, near Lake on the Mountain in Prince Edward County, Ontario. It has a spectacular view of Prince Edward Bay. For years it was run as very successful vineyard, its unique terroir produces different flavours in many of the popular vinifera and so were in demand at other wineries for County blends and cuvées.
The winemaker: Paul Gallegher . Paul left a successful business as an accountant in Toronto and started the vineyard in Prince Edward County in 2002 as part of his rehabilitation from a stroke in 1998. Over the years, Paul has been selling grapes to other vineyards but making wines only for his own consumption. In 2011, the barn and the wines were ready to meet the public. Continue reading →