Tasting Note: Two viogniers from the North

If you’ve had wines made from the viognier grape, there is a very good chance that they came from warm, if not hot climates, and exploded with aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, over a rich, luscious mouthfeel. Acidity, crispness, freshness? Not so much.

Yet there is another way to make viognier. A more northerly way, like the direction pointed to by Peay Vineyards, one of my favorite vineyards, who make a tiny bit of it in their cool Sonoma Coast vineyards. Syrah is picked as late as the last week of October, at the Peay vineyards, and without the high sugar and high alcohol that you normally see in California syrah.

What would be the perfect place to test the possibilities of cool-climate viognier? Canada, I would say.

Case in point, (more…)

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Tasting Note: 2006 St Davids Bench Vineyard Gewürztraminer, Château des Charmes

A founder of modern Niagara viticulture, Château des Charmes has long been one of my favorite wineries from Ontario. This solid and constant estate was founded in 1978 by Paul Bosc, a fifth-generation French vigneron whose family had come from Alsace through Algeria before being seduced by the Niagara’s winegrowing potential. It became an early standard-bearer of the movement towards vitis vinifera and the development of quality wines from the area. With Inniskillin and Cave Spring, the Bosc family was one of the very first to obtain a licence to produce and sell wines in Ontario in the post-Prohibition era.

Among the various lines of wines produced at Château des Charmes, my favorite has always been (more…)

Twitter Taste Live: from sake to sherry, with Hahn in the middle

If you think that people who write about wine are all stuck up wine bores, you need to come on board and watch (or take part in) Twitter Taste Live, a live wine tasting event imagined by the folks at Massachussetts wine merchant Bin Ends Wine. A clever use of social media for marketing purposes, the TTL events are also just plain fun. Earlier this fall, I took part in one such event where Etienne Hugel, from the famous Alsace wine producer Hugel et fils, was the guest of honor as we tasted various Hugel wines. The sharing of notes, and opportunity to talk with the producer and fellow online wine lovers… it was just terrific. You can see a summarized recap right here which gives a sense of the event – but not all the grat atmosphere.

For the 5th Twitter Taste Live event, which took place in a lighthearted, football-and-vacuum-pump joke-filled session just a few hours ago, wine bloggers were invited to take the floor and propose wines and themes. And the proposals (more…)

Regional Wine Writing Project: Napa North? How about Burgundy West?

When I decided to take part in the Regional Wine Writing Project, I started with Quebec, my homeland, which deserves a full introduction to just about anyone that is not a wine lover in Quebec itself. That was easy, in other terms, because just about everything remains to be said. Writing about Niagara, which is, to say the least, more often discussed (and whose wines are more readily available to US readers, as a look through Wine-Searcher.com will tell you), was a bit more of a bind. Where to start?

What finally got me started was a recent Globe and Mail article by John Szabo, where the Niagara region (more…)

Canadian wines for all occasions

I was invited for a second time by CJAD host Sharman Yarnell to do a wine-related bit on her Saturday-morging show called Showtime. And since our little chat was to air soon after Canada Day (and Quebec City’s 400th anniversary, by the way), she thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the state of Canadian wines today – and also, at the state of Canadian wine availability in Quebec.

One great question she asked me was if Canadian wines can provide all the styles of wines you would want. I said yes, and after thinking about it, after taping the interview a few days ago, I’m even more convinced.

One of the wines I mentioned from the outset was Osoyoos Larose’s Le Grand Vin, a solid Bordeaux-style blend (merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot) produced in the Okanagan Valley, whose 2004 vintage sells for just above 40 dollars at SAQ. It’s a great example (more…)