Dan Aykroyd is coming to Montreal. Does his wine taste funny?

If I was in Montreal, I’d be tempted to go. Dan Aykroyd, the famous Canadian actor of Saturday Night Live fame will be touring Montreal, today and tomorrow (June 25 and 26), to present the line of wines that bear his name. He’ll be visiting three SAQ stores (see the list here) over the two days, to give the drinking public a taste of what’s bottled for him by Diamond Estates Wines and Spirits, the company behind Lakeview Cellar Wines, East Dell and 20 Bees, among other things.

If I could go, I’d certainly ask him what the deal is with all the celebrity wines appearing on the scene, this past couple of years. Like the Madonna, Kiss and Streisand wines from Celebrity Cellars. Or the Mike Weir and Wayne Gretzky wines made by Creekside Wines. Or the icewines and Napa Cab made for the Rolling Stones by Ex Nihilo Vineyards.

I’d ask him if he sees a difference between having a line of wines made by someone else, with your name on it, from various vineyards from here and there (Dan Aykroyd’s wines are sometimes VQA, sometimes not, sometimes from Canada, sometimes from Sonoma…), and actually owning your vineyards. Like Sting’s Il Palagio Sumner Family wines from Tuscany, Gérard Depardieu in the Loire, David and Victoria Beckham in California, Sam Neill in New Zealand, or even Francis Ford Coppola in California – although that last case definitely has more winemaking tradition in it than just celebrity trendiness.

Wine is certainly fashionable, if celebrities enjoy having their names on labels. It equates with luxury, health, pleasure, the good life. A good association if there ever was one. And you can even make a noble statement about biodiversity, the environment, and farming tradition – as the Sumners do in their biodynamic estate in Italy.

Oh, and by the way, I’ve had one of the Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series wines, before. The chardonnay, on a summer trip in Ontario. And no, it didn’t taste funny, despite my attempt at humor in the title. It wasn’t memorable, but it was simple and easy-drinking. In other words, it was fun.

The California Wine Fair is back already

A year can sure go by fast. It’s spring in Canada, and time for the California Wine Fair again. I even missed the Western Canada dates (sorry guys), and barely caught up with it on time for the East Coast part of the tour.

It’s no April Fool joke. Ottawa gets its turn this Wednesday, April 1, at the Westin Hotel, just a stone’s throw from Parliament Hill. Montreal is next on the list on April 2nd, and the event is as a fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, while Quebec City’s Fair, on Friday, April 3rd, will benefit the Fondation Cardinal-Villeneuve, which seeks to help people with physical handicaps.

After that, it’s Toronto on April 6 and Halifax on April 8.

You can get the full details right here. As well as the list of participating wineries for each city. The list varies, but includes the likes of Heitz Cellars, Calera, Seghesio, Ravenswood, Bonny Doon, Bonterra, Kenwood, Hahn Estates, L’Aventure, Hess Collection, Jordan, to name only a few. 

While I’m at it, I should mention that the New Zealand Wine Fair will also come to Canada this spring. A first event took place on March 24 in Edmonton (sorry again), but the others will be in late May in Montreal, Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver. The list of participating producers is not out yet, so we’ll come back to this closer to the event date.

Wine on the air: time for the barbecue

Last week, I got an invitation from Sharman Yarnell, host of Showtime, a Saturday morning show on Montreal station CJAD, to talk about summer wines and, more specifically good wines for the barbecue. Sharman was charming and fun to work with, and I certainly hope to do it again some time. I have to say it’s always nice, when you’re blogging, to reach towards other media. And I’ve always loved doing radio.

I put together a list of accessible wines that could come in handy for the grilling season (more…)

Matassa meets Montreal and Manhattan

My good friend and winemaker extraordinaire Tom Lubbe is hopping over the Pond, next week, to showcase his wines in Montreal and New York City. I’m an absolute fan of Matassa Wines, a Domaine I had the chance to visit. A great week walking through the (biodynamic) vineyards, tasting the grapes, packing bottles into cases, pallets into trucks, and to stomp those gorgeous grapes with my own bare (clean) feet (see here and here for details of my stay and, more importantly, to learn more about Matassa).

In Montreal, Tom Lubbe will be hosting (more…)

Wine gatherings for the rest of us

Just in case, for whatever reason, you can’t make it to Ronda, Andalusia, for the WineCreator extravaganza (see my previous post), here are a couple of places you could head to, over the coming weeks, to discuss wine with professionals and discover what winemakers are up to around the world.

Reading Alder Yarrow’s Vinography blog, I found out that New York City will be host to its very first Wine Expo on March 7 and 8, at the Javitz Convention Center. It’s interesting to think that there wasn’t one, in a city where so many events about wine take place. There’s a number of interesting producers in the list of 170 exhibitors presented on the Wine Expo’s web site, from well-known operations such as Concha y Toro, Banfi, Catena Zapata, Ravenswood, Ridge or Mouton Cadet to smaller producers I had hardly heard about, like Klinker Brick Winery, producer of 110-year-old vine zinfandels, Anne Amie from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. There’s also a Canadian winery I’ve regularly enjoyed over the years, Pelee Island Winery.

Later that month, Montreal will be host to the biennial Salon des vins de Montréal, where some 230 producers will be present, including (more…)

A biodynamic encouter

If you live somewhere around Toronto or Montreal, you’ll be glad to know that February will offer you a chance to meet dozens of biodynamic producers from all over the world, as they come to town for a big tasting featuring 120 wines or more. The vignerons are from the Renaissance des Appellations association, headed by Nicolas Joly of La Coulée de Serrant, in the Loire Region, one of the foremost advocates of biodynamic winemaking. Zind-Humbrecht and Domaine Cazes, Ostertag, Chapoutier, Alvaro Palacios, Alvaro Espinoza, the Fetzers and the Benzingers are also among the many notable names in the association.

The Toronto meeting is taking place on February 9, in the Distillery District (South of Front Street and East of Parliament Street, if I have my bearings correctly). Details can be found here, and tickets can be bought through here.

The Montreal event is taking place on February 11, at the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec, and is organized by Slow Food Québec. Details can be found here.

Live elsewhere? Later in the year, Renaissance des Appellations will hold similar tastings in Verona, Sao Paulo, Stockholm and Dublin. If I could, I’d probably go to all of them. And if anybody goes, I’d love to get your impressions.