WSET Wine Touring in PEC

What’s WSET you ask?

WSET the  Wine and Spirits Education Trust  offers educational programs for people in the wine and spirits business.  My cousin Paul has  a WSET Diploma Level 4 which provides specialist-level knowledge in wine and spirits, for both the trade professional and serious  wine enthusiast.

Paul is an architect in the UK but his company supports life long learning, so when asked what he’d like to take courses in, he chose WSET.  Although it has nothing to do with his work, it gives focus to a lot of his travel choices.

He took classes once a week for two years. The course involved  written papers on wine regions,  styles, viticulture, vinification and marketing as well as blind tastings similar to  those  on WineAlign‘s annual  So You Think You Know Wine Challenge videos requiring  experts to identify the grape variety, region, quality and age of a selection of anonymous wines.

When  Paul visited us in Ontario, he wanted a wine tour in Prince Edward County which included a  visit to Norman Hardie’s Winery. The Wine Society of UK of which he is a member imports cases of Norm’s unfiltered County Pinot Noir  and Norm’s Niagara Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Continue reading


Quest for Canadian Oak

Please visit my blog Quest for Canadian Oak at the Bay of Quinte Tourism Website

Roll Out the Barrel

Canadian Oak and other wine barrels have been rolling across Prince Edward County, Ontario, this past year as Pete Bradford moved from his previous location next to  66 Gilead Distillery near Bloomfield to Black Prince Winery  in Picton. I first met Pete at Taste the County in 2010 when he was giving demonstrations on barrel making. At the time, he was still going through his apprenticeship with a well known Missouri barrel maker, Dale Kirby. I interviewed him and his partner Marla at his incredibly cold Carriage House Cooperage workshop in Wellington in December for a story for HornTrip magazine. It was so cold my digital recorder lost the entire interview (or maybe my hands were shaking so much that I pressed the wrong buttons.) Continue reading

The Joys and Heartbreak of 2014 Wassail

Friendship more than wine brought me out to Prince Edward County this Wassail. The news of Richard Karlo’s death last week on November 26 had stunned me and I needed to be with other people who were also saddened by his passing. Saturday was  a raw cold day like the one in 2010 for my first Wassail. That year I’d come as a stranger, this year I came as a friend. Continue reading

Wine of the Week – Week 2 – Karlo Estates Van Alstine White

Throughout 2014, I will be featuring one wine each week from wineries I’ve toured and sharing what makes the winery unique and this wine worth trying.  This week is my favourite white port to finish a dinner celebration.Van_Alstine_White 2

The wine:  Karlo Estates Van Alstine White
A fortified port style wine made from a blend of Frontenac Blanc and Traminette 17 % alc.
The  winery:  Karlo Estates Winery 
A beautiful old barn winery dating back to the 1840’s near Wellington, Prince Edward County
The owner / winemaker:  Richard Karlo Continue reading

Ontario Wines to be sold at Farmer’s Markets

Ontario Wines will soon be available at Ontario Farmer’s Markets. This is HUGE.

An Ontario provincial government’s press release on December 17, about New Opportunities for Ontario Wine Growers  was barely mentioned in the  business news but this will be a game changer for all of Ontario’s wine regions.

There are around 100 Ontario wineries who do not sell through the provincialy run LCBO stores because they don’t produce sufficient quantity or because the LCBO cuts so deeply into their profits that they lose money selling through it. Unless a tourist stumbles upon their winery travelling country roads, they have to rely on word of mouth and a growing stack of awards to let people know they even exist. Come winter, opportunities for sales to new customers are miniscule.  Continue reading

Sherry Martin displaying a bottle of Karlo Estates wine

My wine tastes of chocolate

My last column “Where do wine flavours come from?”  paraphrased a lot of information given by Sherry Martin the PR specialist at Karlo Estates winery  of Prince Edward County,when my sisters and I visited  for a tasting.  One of the comments on the  column came from Doreen Pengracs who blogs at Chocolate Travel Diversions  and who is currently finishing up a book called Chocolatour: A quest for the world’s best chocolate.

She wanted to know what caused the chocolate notes in some wines, so I sent the question back to Sherry Martin and the rest of this blog is her response. I thought it was so interesting it needed sharing.

According to Sherry, that chocolate you’re picking up might be because of the varietal: Certain grapes have a chocolate taste profile to begin with, like Merlot. It’s usually the Bordeaux and hotter climate reds that taste of chocolate.

The oak is another place the taste of chocolate can be imparted.Oak can give off may flavours; sweet spices such as cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon, or burnt sugar flavours like caramel and vanilla; chocolate or even coffee. The toast level in the oak barrel used can determine the flavour; toastier barrels (where a cooper will brown the wood with fire, just like an old fashioned bread toaster over a camp fire) gives darker richer flavours.  The source of  the oak can be another factor. French oak has a sweeter, more vanilla taste profile while American is more intense and has been said to have more of a coconut note to it.

Chocolate itself can be broken down further to have subtleties like vanilla and leather.Vanilla (otherwise known as vanillin) also comes from oak in the form of vanillic acid, which is where we get artificial vanilla from.Leather comes from the tannins themselves, also from the barrel. (Think tanned leather.)

Keep in mind flavour is very subjective.One person may pick up chocolate, while another might perceive it as molasses or plums.

What is most important is that you enjoy it, so don’t worry, sit back, take a sip and savour the flavours.

For more information on wine flavours visit Tar and Roses The Italian Wine Resource

Thank you, Sherry!

Where do wine flavours come from?

Sisters' at Karlo Estates

Sisters Day out for a wine tasting at Karlo Estates wirh Richard Karlo

Citrus, red stone fruit, chocolate, leather, grass, almonds…

“So how do these flavours get into the wine?” my sister asked, ” Is it bees?”

It was Sister’s Day, and we were touring Karlo Estates Winery in Prince Edward County. I mumbled something about terroir, but Sherry Martin, the incredibly articulate partner of owner / winemaker Richard Karlo gave us a mini seminar on where all those different flavours come from. She must have fielded this question many times before.

“The best wine is made in the vineyard.” she began. Continue reading