Malbec World Day 2019

On this week’s Audio Podcast With The Wine Ladies…Episode 67: Malbec World Day.

Malbec World Day, Heart of Argentina, April 17, 2018

Malbec World Day 2018, Heart of Argentina, April 17, 2018

Grape Stomping Mad

Grape Stomping Mad About Malbec event

Grape Stomping Mad About Malbec

Looking back at this time of the year, great memories start to flood back to one of our best and most fun events The Wine Ladies created for our guests. We do have an adventurous and fun loving group of friends and followers. Grape Stomping Mad About Malbec event. (2013)
Beautifully pedicured feet were deep purple when we left that night! Fabulous Malbecs, great food and literally so many of the guests, great sports!  They took off their shoes and jumped in and stomped the grapes! What a night, we have to do it again!

HIGHLIGHTS: Grape Stomping Mad About Malbec -The Wine Ladies TV

On this week’s Audio Podcast With The Wine Ladies…


FOLLOW US HERE, You won’t want to miss this Episode.

Episode 67: Malbec World Day 2018

Look out wine world!!!! The 8th Annual Malbec World Day is celebrated with tons of tastings, events and parties going on around the globe. A salute to this luscious, spicily rich, very relish, red grape!

 This year once again we are doing our part to participate in the annual Malbec World Day on April 17th!

So honouring the Malbec grape once again, as well as the country that has become synonymous with Malbec, that could only be Argentina, we have two guests that will join us today, both producing amazing Malbec!

Our first guest on the show Julian Orti, Export Director, Pascual Toso.

We’ll begin with one of the oldest and most prestigious wine producers in Argentina, it is quickly becoming one of the leading quality wine brands in the country, the winery is Pascual Toso.

Julián Orti Pascual Toso Winemaker

March Madness Malbec #PascualToso #WINWINE #MalbecWorldDay

Preparing to celebrate Malbec World Day 2018 in style with Pascual Toso Malbec and Empanadas!

Preparing to celebrate Malbec World Day 2018 in style with Pascual Toso Malbec and Empanadas!

And to our second guest, so many are seduced by and drawn to this beautiful country.We’ll welcome back, he’s a favourite returning guest of ours Dr. Gary Glassman.

Dr. G is an endodontist, a wine lover and proud co-owner of a vineyard located in the heart of the Tiera de Malbec, Lujan du Cuyo in Mendoza, the winery is Flaneur. Gary to give us an update on his wines as well as offer us a few tips on wine and oral health. It is GOOD news folks!!!

Wines now available in Ontario through Da Capo Wines.

Dr.Gary Glassman.

Dr.Gary Glassman.

Los Flâneur Malbec

Two Malbecs, the same vintage the difference is the altitude the grapes were grown in.

Please checkout our full feature article on Dr. Gary Glassman, celebrity endodontist turned winemaker. (As seen in Power Boating Magazine)

Passion turns to Purpose, Celebrity Endodontist turned winemaker!

Dr. Gary Glassman - Los Flanneur, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

Dr. Gary Glassman – Los Flanneur, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina.


In Sorrento….When life gives you lemons, make Limoncello!

In Sorrento….When Life gives you lemons, make Limoncello!

In Sorrento….When Life gives you lemons, make Limoncello!

When they’re from Amalfi, we say Malfy

In Italy’s southern region of Campania one will find a beautiful coastal town perched on the high cliffs of the Sorrentine peninsula. Wedged on a ledge between the mountains and the Mediterranean is the town of Sorrento situated right across the Bay of Naples. This perfect little town is where on our recent visit to the region we spent the bulk of our time. So inviting and interesting are the narrow medieval alleyways of the city dotted with a variety of little shops, gelaterias, bars and restaurants. Down to the sea we discover a real old fashioned fishing village, The Marina Grande. Here one can enjoy the view. The boats and the freshest scrumptious seafood dishes, likely off the boat that same day!

Browsing through the shops we note hundreds of products all inspired by lemons, lemon candy, biscuits, aprons, pottery, artwork and loads of Limoncello.  Of course, this is La La Land for limoncello. We learn very quickly just how significant lemons are to the town of Sorrento! And not just any lemon, it is the Sorrentine Lemon or “Limone di Sorrento” which was awarded IGP status, a Protected Geographical Indication recognized by the European Union in the year 2000. From these specific lemons the iconic sweet delectable Italian liqueur Limoncello is made. 

Eager to learn more, we were fortunate enough to have a conversation with a producer of Limoncello, Nicola Dal Toso whose family has been making Limoncello for multiple generations. Here’s what Nicola had to say about the special lemon, the liqueur and Nicola’s Limoncello, the Rossi D’Asiago. 

About the Sorrentine Lemon

*There’s no argument that the Limone di Sorrento has a long history of cultivation dating back to the first century A.D. This is evidenced in the frescoes and mosaics found in the ruins of the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum after the A.D79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius. 

*The uniqueness of this lemon depends much on the microclimate and the proximity to the sea.

*The Sorrentine lemons are elliptical in shape, and are larger in size, not permitted to be less than 85 grams according to the IGP status regulations

*Typically they have a medium thick peel, are rich in essential oils and very fragrant and juicy

*The juice is characterized by a higher acidity; they are rich in vitamin C and mineral salts

*Sweeter than typical lemons

Nicola tells us that the origins of Limoncello dates back to the Middle Ages when monks would prepare flasks for pilgrims containing infusion of lemon peels soaked in alcohol. In those times, the belief was that the alcoholic lemon solutions would ward off infective disease.  Over time the lemon elixir soon gained favour and has become one of the regions most appreciated exports being widely available and enjoyed in many markets around the world.

Georgia reaches for a juicy Sorrentine lemon.

Georgia reaches for a juicy Sorrentine lemon.

We asked Nicola to tell us a little about his company and his Limoncello, which is the #1 selling Limoncello in Canada. 



The story began in 1868, in the locality of Asiago, as Nicola says “an enchanting locality of the Veneto pre-Alps”. It is a history of stills, herbs and infusion and a young pharmacist Giovan Battista Rossi.  Creating unique elixirs and liqueurs to start. Over time, he transforms the small pharmacy into an award-winning distillery, “The Highest Distillery in Europe”.

 Fast-forward more than 100 years later. The Rossi D’Asiago Distillery is enjoying a “second Golden Age” as Nicola proudly asserts, “with his family using the same recipe for multiple generations. Rossi D’Asiago is an all natural Limoncello with only the finest ingredients being used to make this iconic Italian liqueur.” The result is a refreshing and wonderfully balanced sweet and tart Italian lemon liqueur with an intense lemon flavour. We love it! As an aperitif and in a wonderful cocktail we named the “Rossi D’Asiago Limontini” 

Sorrento we are told is a gateway to another of Campania’s jewels that is the Amalfi Coast.

Often referred to as a glamorous playground for the rich and famous, The Amalfi Coast is also world renown for its stunning beauty and 50 km stretch of the most beautiful coastline in Europe. Its high cliffs and winding narrow coastal road overlooks beaches, vineyards, costal towns and the shimmering Mediterranean taking away ones breath and nerves if behind the wheel or a passenger on a tour bus! 

Malfy Gin

Malfy Gin

Three major towns in particular are usually included in one’s itinerary, all offering the visitor a unique experience. Positano, the most famous, picturesque and pricey. Amalfi where history takes centre stage. And the town of Ravello, a special place for the artists.

 And there’s more. Surprise! Here too the lemon enjoys great status. The Amalfi version is called the sfumato amalfitano. It grows prolifically along the stunning terraced gardens along the entire coast, a site to behold. We got the full scoop on this Amalfi lemon from what you might consider an unlikely source, not a limoncello producer rather a gin.

About the Limone Costa d’Amalfi  

*All lemons certified from Amalfi have to be of the “sfusato” family. Sfusato means, “spindle” in Italian and these lemons are characterized by their elongated and pointed ends.

*They are large with a thick yellow peel and very few seeds.

* The skins are rich in oil and brightly coloured

*Exceptionally fragrant with high levels of vitamin C

* The world-famous Amalfi lemons are known for their low acidity and delicate flavour, some say so sweet you can eat them whole like an apple or a banana.  

* The Limone Costa d’Amalfi has IGP status. Indicazione Geografica Protetta that indicates their role as an important and unique regional food in Campania.

Elwyn Gladstone Founder of Biggar & Leith introduced us to one of his latest products, this unique and absolutely delicious gin called Malfy Gin con Limone, A little surprised, one doesn’t automatically link gin to Italy as a rule. We asked Elwyn to tell us a little about how Malfy came to be and what makes this gin unique. So passionate about Malfy here’s what he had to say.

“We were researching the history of gin – and there it was.

Staring us in the face! Gin was invented in Italy, in the 11th century by monks on the Salerno coast. Long before the British or Dutch”  “They added Ginepri (Juniper) and other botanicals to the alcohol – and gin was born.

Malfy Gin

Elwyn went on to explain how originally Malfy was a small batch product being made at the Torino Distillati. It wasn’t until they tasted the Vergnano family’s Malfy GQDi, who runs the distillery that “we knew we had found a gin that represented the literal distillation of Italian quality, culture and craftsmanship that we were looking for”

Recognizing that the product had a much wider potential Elwyn set out to bring Malfy to the global market. He proudly informs us that after just a few short years, Malfy Gin con Limone is now the #1 selling flavoured gin in Ontario. 

 What separates Malfy gin from most other gins on the market? To start traditional gins have greater emphasis on the key botanical juniper. Malfy on the other hand “with the classical juniper hit further back in comparison. Malay is not a gin for purists. We would like to make sure that people other than just those traditionalists get to enjoy the gin party”. Upon tasting Malfy, we whole heartedly agree. There is a delicate and delightful citrus on the nose. With recognizable juniper and a blend of other botanicals our palates are not so experienced to discern. But a lovely gin, that is also housed in a bright and inviting label reminiscent of the sunny Amalfi Coast! 

Ciao everyone! 

Rossi D’Asiago Limoncello LCBO 469643 $23.40

Malfy Gin con Limone LCBO 484204 $34.95

Susanne enjoys a Lemon Pie Cocktail made with Limoncello, vanilla vodka, a splash of soda water and a mint garnish.Georgia enjoys a Lemon Drop Martini made wth Limoncello, vodka, lemon juice, sugar around the rim and a lemon rind garnish.

Rennie Estate Winery

 Yet another entrepreneur who has turned his passion for wine into his own brand, Rennie Estate Winery

 Rennie Estate Winery smitten with the vine

 Yet another entrepreneur who has turned his passion for wine into his own brand, Rennie Estate Winery. Wine aficionados from all walks of life are giving into their passion for wine putting big bucks on the line. Buying up vineyards, starting wineries and even becoming the winemakers themselves!

Last issue we explored just how much the wonderful world of wine is capturing the hearts of such a diverse and eclectic group from entrepreneurs to sports icons, musicians, doctors, business tycoons and actors, including our very own Dan Aykroyd, Jim Cuddy,Wayne Gretzky just to name a few.

We introduced you to Dr. Gary Glassman, aka Dr. G, an Endodontic Specialist.

A celebrity endodontist actually, from Toronto who realized his dream and became a part owner of a winery in Mendoza, Argentina. Here we take up where we left off. And continue the story with the introduction of Graham Rennie and his widely applauded wines from the Niagara Escarpment.We bade our farewell to Dr. G and headed off to what would be our final stop on this delectable afternoon of wine discovery.

Heading over to the fabulous Trattoria Timone Ristorante located in our hometown of Oakville.

With just a forty-five minute window we are up for a whirlwind wine tasting with yet another entrepreneur who has turned his passion for wine into his own brand, Rennie Estate Winery. Graham Rennie is the Chairman and CEO of Integra Capital, a Canadian asset management firm that he founded in 1987.

We first met Graham and his wife Christine at a dinner party close to twenty years ago. At that time they were actively exploring purchasing their own vineyard. Their passion for wine as they spoke that evening left no doubt in anyone’s mind that there would someday be a Rennie wine label. And so it came to be in 2010 when the Rennies relocated to Beamsville to pursue their dream and purchased a 50-acre property on the prestigious Beamsville Bench sub appellation located in the Niagara Escarpment.

Still in full force money management CEO Graham has managed to also pursue his passion for wine and eek out ample time to play an integral role in this exciting endeavour.

Rennie Estate Winery

We noshed on Timone’s scrumptious Margherita pizza, grilled shrimp and antipasto platter.

From participating in the selection of the vineyard plantings, to monitoring the progress of the grapes as they mature on the vine to the definitive style of Rennie’s wines, this is no absentee landlord.” We always wanted to grow the best fruit we could,”said Graham. In 1999 Rennie, his wife Christine and family planted five varietals with clones all sourced from the highly reputed and recognized Mercier nursery in France. A mix of Pinot Noir 28%, Chardonnay 17%, 20% Merlot 20%, Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon makes up the plantings of which the majority is sold to other wineries for their premium wines. A small portion of the harvest is reserved for the Rennie Estate Winery brand. It is artfully and meticulously crafted by Malivoire winery winemaker Shiraz Mottiar.

“I like big, red wines, and enjoying them with our friends,”enthuses Graham.

“Our cool climate viticultural region makes it tough to make full bodied red wines from Bordeaux varietals here every year.” “We produce appassimento style Bordeaux blends and whole cluster fermentation Burgundy varietal wines which have come to define Rennie Estate Winery,” reveals Graham. The world renown Italian wine Amarone is produced in the appassimento style. Which essentially is an Italian term for drying harvested grapes, traditionally on straw mats forup to 100 days. This concentrates the sugars and the flavours resulting in rich, opulent, concentrated red wines. Graham went on to develop a grape drying chamber to replicate the traditional technique used for Amazon, in conjunction with Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.

Before us are four wines, one of which is the Rennie Estate Winery 2014 Assemblage.

We learn is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. These grapes are dried in the custom made drying room for between 86-105 days. The berries are then fermented in small batches for over two weeks. Off to French oak barrels for 21 months of aging. In our glasses now, a rich, opulent full-bodied red wine with intense dark fruit and black cherry flavours.  Accompanied by seductive suggestive notes of vanilla. 2014 Assemblage gets an A+! We also sample Rennies Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, both very impressive! If you would like more information or to enjoy any of Graham and Christine’s wines visit for prices and availability.

That is about all for us as our day draws to a close. It has been an incredible day of wine discovery, fine wines, food and fairytale! Seeing both Dr.Glassman and Graham Rennie and witnessing their realization of their dreams made this a special day for us too!

We wonder who will be next to be so smitten with the vine and have their own wine? Perhaps it’s our turn, TWL Wines, has a bit of a ring to it, don’t you think?

If you would like more information or to enjoy any of Graham and Christine’s wines visit for prices and availability.

Christine Chardonnay 2015

Christine Chardonnay 2015

Christine Chardonnay 2015

If you are a great fan of great Chardonnay like we are, here’s a wine for you! So inviting! On the nose, seductive with scents of spicy orange rind, tropical fruits and baked apple. On the palate it is rich with flavours echoing the notes of the bouquet. Creamy, with the baked apple, hints of barrel oak spices and good acidity all in wonderful balance. Look forward to a lingering finish! $40.00

Rennie Estate Winery

Rennie Estate Winery

Rennie Estate Paradox 2015 Pinot Noir

The winemaker’s notes on this says it all when it comes to the bouquet. “The nose is treated to raisin bread.” “Violet, and spicy, faintly smoky traces of blueberry, clove, cinnamon stick and pepper.” On the palate plenty of red fruit inclusive of cherry, strawberry and cranberry. Notes of spice and mocha and a lingering very satisfying finish! Production very limited to 76 cases. $40.00

Passion turns to Purpose, Celebrity Endodontist turned winemaker!

Amazing structured tasting and luncheon at George Restaurant, Toronto. The women in Wine. Left to right: Megan Schofield, Robert Mondavi Winery, Vitalie Taittinger, Champagne Taittinger, , Louise Engel, Featherstone Estate Winery and Susana Balboa, Susana Balboa Wines.

Women in Wine…Megan Schofield, Vitalie Taittinger, Louise Engel and Susana Balbo all connected by the vine.

Amazing structured tasting and luncheon at George Restaurant, Toronto. The women in Wine. Left to right: Megan Schofield, Robert Mondavi Winery, Vitalie Taittinger, Champagne Taittinger, Georgia, Jennifer Huether, Master Sommelier, Susanne, Louise Engel, Featherstone Estate Winery and Susana Balboa, Susana Balboa Wines.

Amazing structured tasting and luncheon at George Restaurant, Toronto. The Women in Wine. Left to right: Megan Schofield, Robert Mondavi Winery, Vitalie Taittinger, Champagne Taittinger, Georgia, Jennifer Huether, Master Sommelier, Susanne, Louise Engel, Featherstone Estate Winery and Susana Balbo, Susana Balbo Wines.

Happy Mother’s Day

We spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon in May just before Mother’s Day at George Restaurant in Toronto. What an amazing treat!

A pre Mother’s Day event celebrating mothers and some super wines made and marketed by some very accomplished Women in Wine from around the world. The afternoon consisted of a formal structured tasting moderated by Jennifer Huether, Canada’s first Master Sommelier who did an outstanding job! Followed by a 4 course luncheon created by Executive Chef Lorenzo Loseto, GEORGE Restaurant

Structured Tasting

First up one of The Wine Ladies favourites, Champagne. And this was no ordinary Champagne. The Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Champagne 2006 VINTAGES#: 55277  $229.00 per bottle. A stunning Champagne, with fine integration of the wonderful bight acidity, rich mineral character and creamy palate of glazed apricot, biscuit and passion fruit flavours. Superb.

Birds of a feather to flock together! The Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2017 VINTAGES#: 80234   $16.95 per bottle from Niagara. Lovely bright notes of lime blossom, lemon zest and flint. Considered by many critics among the best Riesling made in Ontario. Loved it!

Just coming off of Malbec World Day, April 17th, we were delighted to see another beautiful Malbec to enjoy. This one did not disappoint. The Susana Balbo Signature La Delfina Altamira 2013 VINTAGES#: 127514 $75.00 per bottle. Exploding aromas of blackberry, black cherry, and violets framed by hints of oak. This is a rich and ripe style of wine, reigning in the fruit and focusing it into a long finish. Salud!

Last but definitely not least the Robert Mondavi Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 VINTAGES#: 670463 $149.00 per bottle From Napa, California this Cabernet showcases beautifully with its concentration of dark cherries and blackberries. Long and lingering luscious finish. Excellent!

Structured Tasting included: Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2006, Featherstone Blck Sheep Riesling 2017, Susana Balbo Signature La Delfina Altamira 2013 and Robert Mondavi Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Structured Tasting included: Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2006, Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2017, Susana Balbo Signature La Delfina Altamira 2013 and Robert Mondavi Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Jennifer Huether Canada's first Master Sommelier moderates the structure tasting with the Women In Wine. Jennifer represents California's Jackson Family Wines in Canada.

Jennifer Huether Canada’s first Master Sommelier moderates the structure tasting with the Women In Wine. Jennifer represents California’s Jackson Family Wines in Canada.

Reception after the structured tasting featured the Featherstone Rose 2017

Reception after the structured tasting featured the Featherstone Rose 2017

Louise Engel

Co-owner, Featherstone Estate Winery

Before entering the wine game in 1999, Louise and her partner, David Johnson, ran a gourmet specialty shop in Guelph. Louise and David have consistently taken an eco-friendly approach to farming. In 2003, Louise became a licensed falconer, working with birds of prey to deter nuisance birds in the vineyard. In 2007, Louise and David pioneered the use of lambs in vineyards in Canada; their top -selling signature wine, Black Sheep Riesling, is named for this natural vineyard practise.

Reception after the structured tasting featured the Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne

Reception after the structured tasting featured the Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne

Vitalie Taittinger

Communication and Marketing Director, Champagne Taittinger

Vitalie graduated from the Emile Cohl School of Art, in Lyon, in 2001. In 2004, with Gilles Bernard, she published a monograph on the surrealist painter Alfred Courmes. Since 2015, she has been working as the head of Taittinger communication and marketing department and is responsible for ensuring that the Taittinger name remains front and centre, the world over, in any discussion of Champagne. As though life were not busy enough, Vitalie is also the mother of four children.

1st Course: AHI TUNA with curry and zucchini. Prepared by Executive Chef Lorenzo Loseto, Executive Chef, GEORGE Restaurant. The dish was paid with the Taittinger Prestige Brut Rose Champagne.

1st Course: AHI TUNA with curry and zucchini. Prepared by Executive Chef Lorenzo Loseto, Executive Chef, GEORGE Restaurant. The dish was paid with the Taittinger Prestige Brut Rose Champagne.

Susane Balbo

Owner and Chief Winemaker, Susana Balbo Wines

The first female winemaker in Argentina, Susana graduated cum laude with a degree in oenology in 198. In 2012, she was the only Argentinian named among the “50  Most Powerful Women in the Wine World” by the British magazine The Drinks Business. In 2015, she was awarded Women the Year 2015 by the same magazine. Susana is also a national congresswoman and in 2017 was elected by the president of Argentina to be part of the W20.

2nd Course: Salmon with avocado cream and cucumber.Prepared by Executive Chef Lorenzo Loseto, Executive Chef, GEORGE Restaurant. The food was paired with 2 choices... Robert Monday Winery Reserve Fume Blanc 2014 and the Susana Balboa Signature Rose 2017.

2nd Course: Salmon with avocado cream and cucumber.Prepared by Executive Chef Lorenzo Loseto, Executive Chef, GEORGE Restaurant. The food was paired with 2 choices… Robert Mondavi Winery Reserve Fume Blanc 2014 and the Susana Balbo Signature Rose 2017.

Megan Schofield

Winemaker, Robert Mondavi Winery

Megan grew up in St. Catherines, Ontario surrounded by grapes, but paid little not. She enrolled in Brock University in Ontario as a biotechnology student but was soon intrigued by the excitement around a new program being offered in oenology and viticulture. Her interest piqued, she applied, and was one of only 10 students accepted into the program. Before becoming a winemaker at Robert Mondavi Winery in 2015, Megan worked for Beringer and Buena Vista.

3rd Course: Cornish Hen with sweet potato and aged cheddar. Prepared by Executive Chef Lorenzo Loseto, Executive Chef, GEORGE Restaurant. We had two wines with this course. The Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2016 and the Susana Balbo Signature Malbec 2015.

3rd Course: Cornish Hen with sweet potato and aged cheddar. Prepared by Executive Chef Lorenzo Loseto, Executive Chef, GEORGE Restaurant. We had two wines with this course. The Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2016 and the Susana Balbo Signature Malbec 2015.

Heartbroken! We missed dessert!  It was a Lemon Tart with Italian meringue and pine nuts paired with the Robert Mondavi Winery

Moscato D’Oro 2015.

Darn it!

Selfie time with Megan Schofield, winemaker Robert Monday Winery! We had a blast! Adieu until we meet again!

Selfie time with Megan Schofield, winemaker Robert Mondavi Winery! We had a blast! Adieu until we meet again!

Robert Mondavi,the man, the winery, Napa Valley.. On this week’s audio podcast.

Passion turns to Purpose, Celebrity Endodontist turned winemaker!

The Mermaid and the Oyster in Kerr Village, Oakville

Next up we explore another exciting wine producing province in which temperatures dip well below zero. Nova Scotia.

Benjamin Bridge

Benjamin Bridge, Nova Scotia.

Happy 150th Birthday Canada! We continue our celebrations from coast to coast with birthday bubbly!

We are so blessed in this beautiful and bountiful country we call our home.We honour you Canada with bubbly from across the nation! Last issue we highlighted the two major wine growing regions here in Canada, Ontario and British Columbia. Together these two provinces produce over 90% of our wines. In the vinous world a great source of pride. Our wines consistently garner major awards in international competitions and the admiration from many a wine critique across the globe. Way to go Can-a-da! We make amazing wine eh? Yes, we do and it doesn’t stop there, hold onto your tuque!

Next up we explore another exciting wine producing province in which temperatures dip well below zero. Nova Scotia.

Strong winds prevail and there is often snow enough to igloo the vines! We are talking about Nova Scotia. The province that hugs the Atlantic side of the continent. It’s very much about location, location, location! Nova Scotia’s positioning makes it one of the most challenging places in the world to grow grape vines. However, it works and works extremely well! So much so that this region, one of the smallest and oldest in North America is being touted as “Canada’s next great wine region”. Situated on one of the cooler climate limits for vines. Those very elements allow for cooling breezes during the warm summer months and a moderating affect on the vineyards not too far from the coast. This makes for near perfect climatic conditions for grapes to hang longer on the vine and develop more intensity and brilliance. However still allowing for that omni important acidity, critical for good structure and balance. All of this helps contribute to the style of wines Nova Scotia is becoming best known for. Wines with great acidity, lively and crisp and with bright aromatics and characteristic minerality.

Nova Scotia has been producing wines since as early as the 17th century.

It is only in the last 25 years that it has taken a foothold commercially and in the last decade or so is showing the world increasingly what it is capable of! While small in scope in terms of Canada’s total wine production, the province is big in heart, dedication and talent when it comes to the wineries and their winemakers! Garnering huge accolades and international attention this burgeoning wine region is producing very impressive whites as well as outstanding bubbly that many connoisseurs are saying rival those of Champagne!

In terms of other wines Nova Scotia has a single appellation called Tidal Bay.

A signature white wine that applies to the entire province. Just as with VQA regulations in Ontario and BC, certain conditions must be met in order to be labeled Tidal Bay. These include the use of 100% Nova Scotia grown grapes, specific grape varietals, and a blind tasting evaluation to ensure the wines show the distinctive Nova Scotian taste profile. The future shines brightly for Nova Scotia wine with one critic and co-author of The Wine Lover’s Guide to Atlantic Canada, Craig Pinhey seeing “the future of Nova Scotia wines rising as high as the Bay of Fundy’s tides”. Incidentally the highest tides in the world. A toast to you Nova Scotia and to Canada’s 150th birthday with one of your finest!

Back to bubbly! Fabulous Fizz from Benjamin Bridge, Canada’s most lauded sparkling wine house!

Our introduction to Benjamin Bridge came to us via a casual blind tasting of sparkling wines on a sunny afternoon. We were a little surprised, and absolutely delighted when we learned that one of our favorites came from Nova Scotia. Upon a little more investigative work including of course enjoying it first with fresh oysters and later with a light desert we felt compelled to share our latest discovery.

Benjamin Bridge, located in the Gaspereau Valley on the Bay of Fundy was founded by Gerry McConnell and his late wife Dara Gordon.

Long time foodies and lovers of fine wine their passion was ignited after a tour of South African vineyards. In 1999 they purchased a property with the dream to create world-class wines, back home in their native country. For the McConnells, building a successful business was not the driving force. As Gerry has said “It was a love and passion for the land, a love and passion for seeing things grow and to show that there could be a viable industry in Nova Scotia producing acclaimed wines” And so the journey began, with management maintaining if world class wines couldn’t be produced, Benjamin Bridge would cease to exist.

Benjamin Bridge starts with a successive hire of some of the best in the business.



From the first with Peter J. Gamble, a Canadian winemaking icon to assess the potential of the vineyard. Soon after joined by the late Raphael Brisbois former Chef du Cave for Piper Heidsieck, a leading authority on Champagne. In 2004 Benjamin Bridge releases its first sparkling wine vintage to rave reviews. In 2008 Jean-Benoit Deslauriers comes on board as head winemaker. The vineyards are officially certified organic, and the winemaker along with Gamble and Brisbois produce Deslauriers’ first Canadian wine, the lightly sparkly Nova 7 knocking it out of the ballpark!

The final analysis, the vineyards lie in an enviable position for one wanting to produce premium sparkling wines.

Nova Scotia’s climate and terroir are being likened to that of Champagne, sitting within just one degree of latitude. The Benjamin Bridge vineyards are located in the heart of the Gaspereau Valley on the The Bay of Fundy enjoying a micro climate especially suited to the production of sparkling wine. Said Peter Gamble of the temperature parallels between Champagne and the Gaspereau Valley “. “It’s so close to Champagne it’s frightening,” “It all starts in the vineyards” it is often said. With the dedication and uber talent of head winemaker Jean-Benoit, his assistant and cellar master, plus the guidance of Peter Gamble. The results are heavenly bubbly and award winning wines. The team of winemakers craft the sparkling wines in the time consuming and very expensive method used in Champagne called the Methode Classique. Very laborious in the vineyards and in the cellars where the wines are bottled and aged on their lees for up to four years, patience is a virtue as the wines are carefully monitored as they develop and ready to be released.

Here are a few quotes extolling the sparkling wines of Benjamin Bridge.

Mind blowing sparkling wines that would challenge any highly –rated French Champagne” Anthony Gismondi They are without question the best sparkling wines I have tasted in Canada “ Tony Aspler “It’s a sparkler that rivals Champagne…one of the best Canadian wines I’ve tasted. Beppi Crosariol We must agree whole heartedly, Nova Scotia you are a star and Benjamin Bridge you too are a star shining so bright for all of us fans of fine fizz and of supurb wine. Congratulations! Happy Birthday Canada, a toast to you and all of us on our sesquicentennial birthday!

Please find below a review of the Benjamin Bridge Brut and the Nova 7.

Benjamin Bridge Sparkling Brut 2011

Benjamin Bridge Sparkling Brut 2011

Benjamin Bridge Sparkling Brut 2011 Vintages: 381533 $49.95 Ontario.

Produced in the Méthode Classique, or traditional Champagne method, using exclusively one of the three permitted grape varietals in Champagne Chardonnay. This luscious bubbly spent four years on the lees before its release and definitely hits all the high notes. Elegant and alluring on the nose with a fresh and bright aroma of citrus, lemon and lime, a hint of smoke and of bisquit. On the palate it is crisp, with mouth watering acidity, flavours of baked apple, more brioche and a long finish.

The Mermaid and the Oyster in Kerr Village, Oakville

We enjoy with lobster and freshly shucked oysters … simply divine just like in the Maritimes! The Mermaid and the Oyster in Kerr Village, Oakville. Picture here of us in shop Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 Sparkling 2016 Vintages: 256289 $24.95 Ontario.

Rare terroir, classic techniques. Uncompromising wines from Nova Scotia and Benjamin Bridge

Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra

La Dolce Vita With Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra.

La Dolce Vita With Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra

Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra

Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra

From the historic Italian city of Cremona where the most famous violin hails, begins the culinary journey of a man who would become one of Canada’s most celebrated chefs, Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra.

Massimo Capra’s passion for embracing life, for enjoying food, good drink, friends, family and the community is unparalleled. He simply draws you in to this world, his world, la dolce vita, or the sweet life!

And what an extensive world it is. Massimo came to Toronto in 1982 starting out at family owned Archers restaurant. By 1989 he became an acclaimed chef at Prego della Piazza where he remained until 1997. That year  he opened with Paolini, formerly of Splendido, Mistura Restaurant.

Skyrocketing from there!

Hit after hit Sopra Upper Lounge, Rainbow Room, Boccone and Soprano to name a few. Pleasing the palates of international travellers at Pearson airport and Hamad International Airport in Doha Qatar. This charismatic mustachioed chef is a force, with his latest venture Capra’s Kitchen recent opening in his hometown of Mississauga. Author and television host of many TV shows; Gourmet Escapes, Chef host on Restaurant Makeover, judge on hit show Chopped Canada and more. We salute Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra here!

Massimo grew up in a small town Cremona located in Lombardy northern Italy. We learn from Massimo, over a delicious glass of chilled Bersano 2015 Gavi di Gavi, that in Cremona most folks raised their own chickens. Like many folk Massimo lived on a dairy farm raised their own meat and lived off the land.

A story that was to be his first and his family’s first introduction to a fine cut of meat.

With only three butchers in his village butchering one animal each per week, it was only plentiful enough to serve the folks with better “means”. “For us the farmers, we went to buy the meat that was second grade, you know the kind of meat you had to boil for close to four hours to become tender”, Massimo explains.

After spending some time cooking and in cooking school, a new world of food opened up to him and ignited his passion.

Upon securing his first job, at the age of fifteen, he saved up enough money to buy four entrecote for himself and his family. “The butcher was skeptical at first”, said Massimo  but accepted Massimo’s pre-order only with prepayment. After a two week wait for delivery of this superior beef Massimo’s entrecôte was finally masterly cooked, served and applauded, from there Massimo never looked back!

Massimo and Daniel Capra photo shoot Power Boating Magazine

Chefs Massimo and Daniel Capra dishing up the pizza at ” Capra’s Kitchen”.

Capra’s Kitchen

Easily accessible, you can find Massimo today at “Capra’s Kitchen”, his latest restaurant venture located in Clarkson Village, in the heart of Mississauga. Opening to rave reviews, Capra’s Kitchen does not disappoint. The menu is creative, the dishes mouth watering and the presentation a feast for the eyes. Therefore, Massimo can be found either busy in the kitchen or on the floor chatting up the customers and posing for selfies.

What do they say? Behind every successful man is a woman. The point is Rosa, partner and wife is a big part of the magic here at Capra’s. Super talented, generous in spirit and warmth, everyone loves and respects Rosa! Clearly all the patrons enjoy a slice of Capra’s dolce vita.

The menu is focused on Massimo’s mouthwatering pastas, pizza and antipasto. We treated ourselves to a classic pizza, prepared by the hands of gifted Chef Daniel, son of Massimo! Yes, it is all in the family. The pizza Margherita was delish!

We are completely content, ready now to bid farewell. We will be back. Alas not so fast! Massimo motions and a glorious desert arrives, quintessentially Italian, a mouth watering Tiramisu. Not like we needed any kind of a lift,if you will, but tiramisu translates literally to “pick me up”, “cheer me up” or “lift me up”. We are already on cloud nine with such a fabulous evening of amazing food, great wine and in such an inviting and relaxed atmosphere. Thank you everyone at Capra’s Kitchen, you all made it a special time. We will be back!

Over the years with Massimo, we look back and remember a few choice times we have spent together!

Check out…The Wine Ladies TV at Sopra Lounge, Toronto with Celebrities Massimo Capra and Emilio Fina.

Bersano Gavi di Gavi 2015 $17.95

Bersano Gavi di Gavi 2015

Gavi di Gavi comes from the district of Gavi located in Piedmont in northwestern Italy. It is made from the indigenous white grape Cortese, which dates back to the 17th century. These wines are known for its wonderful acidity from the lime-scented soils in this area. As a result, the wines are generally fresh, crisp and mouth watering when done well.
We enjoyed this Gavi di Gavi from the producer Bersano founded in 1907, crisp and inviting, lots of citrus with hints of white flowers and touch of mineralality, delightful.

Allegrini, Palazzo Della Torre 2012 $24.95

Allegrini, Palazzo Della Torre 2012

From the most acclaimed winery in the Veneto region, Allegrini, going back nine generations and known the world over for this particular wine, we discover the Palazzo della Torre 2012. From the Valpolicella Classica region, the grapes are sourced from a single vineyard situated in the foothills of Fumane, it is named after the adjacent villa, Palazzo della Torre, an important part of the Italian renaissance. Unique to this wine is how it is crafted, a small percentage of the grapes are left to dry out for a few months and then added to the previously vinified fresh grapes. The wine is deep ruby red in color, is velvety, smooth and full bodied, rich with dried fruit aromas of raspberry and plum, great fruit with chewy tannins and a lingering finish.

Check out…Marilisa Allegrini, the first Italian woman wine producer to grace the cover of Wine Spectator

Penfolds bottles

Penfolds Grange…The crescendo of our “Ultimate Penfolds Experience”

Penfolds Grange…The crescendo of our “Ultimate Penfolds Experience”

Nestled in the foothills of Adelaide with views over looking the city, Magill Estate is one of the world’s few urban single vineyards only fifteen minutes drive from Adelaide, capital of South Australia. Here lie historic vineyards of the iconic wine Penfolds Grange. With sturdy and gnarly Shiraz vines that date back over sixty years. They thrive in rich chocolatey red-brown soils over limestone bearing exceptional fruit for both Grange and Magill Estate Shiraz.

Penfolds Grange 2008

Penfolds Grange, a remarkable wine with a remarkable story. This wine is sought after and relished by wine collectors and aficionados around the world, paralleled to the First Growths of Bordeaux and Grand Cru of Burgundy.  This is Australia’s most celebrated wine, officially listed as a Heritage Icon of South Australia. A vinous star that has been described by Robert Parker’s wine Advocate as “the leading candidate for the richest, most concentrated dry red wine on planet earth”.

It all began with British physician Doctor Christopher Ralston Penfolds and wife Mary.

Penfolds Family Tree

In 1844 the couple settled in Adelaide on a vast parcel of land and the inaugural Penfolds wine was created. Recently we had the opportunity to take a step back in time and tour the Magill Estate Cottage, the Penfolds’ home. And learned a little about the family and the history of these storied precious vineyards. We were honoured with a personalized tasting of several Penfolds wines.  A suburb afternoon, punctuated by the tasting of the great Grange.

Old age is much respected in this world, the world of wine.

“It all starts in the vineyards” they say. Our visit which began with our tour guide, the truly eloquent Danielle Flower guiding us throughout the grounds and introducing us to the estate’s old vine Shiraz. Old age is much respected in this world, the world of wine. These smaller concentrated fruit will deliver little in yield yet intense and concentrated flavours in the glass. Where one may drink history. The estate was once comprised of over 500 acres but over time has been diminished to just 12.  These grapes, we learn will contribute to the iconic Penfolds Grange.  Grange, Penfolds flagship wine, the most collectible wine on the continent is a multi-vineyard, multi district blend, yet it has a unique personality, flavour, structure, experience coveted by wine lovers the world over.

The good Doctor, perhaps ahead of his time…

The Penfolds, Christopher and Mary, immigrated to Australia at the ages of 33 and 24 and were supported by their family members on what was approximately 500 acres of land. Doctor Penfolds a believer in the medicinal properties of wine cultivated a portion of the land with plantings of French grape vine cuttings brought over from England. Initially fortified wines were the choice prescription but in time, responding to increased demand the winery expanded in output and selection of varietals planted until 1844 when the winery was officially established. Over the years, under the direction of Christopher up until his passing at age 59 and then under that of wife Mary Penfolds the winery continued to grow and prosper. By 1903 Penfolds was the largest winery in Adelaide.

It is Max Schubert, Chief Winemaker for Penfolds in the forties and fifties who must be greatly credited  to the development of the iconic wine, Grange, originally   called “Grange Hermitage”. It was he, after travelling to Europe and spending time in Bordeaux who created and ultimately became responsible for the development of this iconic wine.

To the tasting room!
And an extraordinary experience featuring a perfect blend of Penfolds offerings.

Penfolds produces a range of wines that come from a variety of regions, whether they are blends, or singular varietal. They also produce estate wines of single vineyard. All the wines however showcase the Australian heritage including the diversity and the great history.

Our tasting included a blend of all of the above.

One of our personal standouts on this day was the 2008
St Henri Shiraz.

Penfolds Danielle

A multi district blend including fruit from the Barossa Valley and Eden Valley. St Henri Shiraz differentiates itself from high quality Australian reds by not relying on any new oak.
Maturing instead in large old 1460 litre vats the wine’s character develops with little impression of oak. We comment on the seductive nose of intense blueberry and blackberry layered with dark chocolate. With a deep rich flavour of more dark fruit and chocolatey notes, it is rich and opulent with a long lasting finish! Drinking window suggestion is 2016-2035. Available on occasion at the LCBO and/or featured at Winemaker’s dinner as recently as October 26th of this year.

We tasted  the 2011 Cellar Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coonawarra, exceptional! And to start the 2008 Yattarna Chardonnay, also multi regional.

The crescendo of our “Ultimate Penfolds Experience” was of course Grange.

Suffice to say an ethereal taste experience. Where wine is not simply a drink, it is history, it is place, it is magical, on this day it is Grange.
Of this wine says Chief Winemaker Gago, “Aromatically captivating/convincing— similar to the 1987 in its formtive years, stronger than the 1997!”
At the conclusion of our tasting, as we sipped on what little treasure remained in our glasses. Danielle shared with us Penfolds’ latest unique and extraordinary offering to its most devoted fans.

This most recent project allows one to purchase their own personal barrel of Penfolds wine for $198,000. Magill Estate will house your barrel under 24 hour/day security. Your wine will be available for you to check in on at any time from anywhere in the world. The custodian of this barrel is invited at any time to taste, assess the wine and determine when and how it should be bottled under the guidance of course of Chief Winemaker Peter Gago.

Gago who started at Penfolds in 1989, is himself a celebrity winemaker, in high demand internationally, only the fourth custodian of iconic Grange. Peter succumbed to his love of wine and as he puts it “the grip of the grape” … we guess was just too great!

Penfolds Grange , 2008

 For those of whom we have whet your appetite, the 2008 Grange is available here at the Tasting Room in the Olde Oakville location. Here we ponder the purchase of one of three remaining bottles priced at $499.00.

Finally, there are a number of Penfolds wines available at varying price points, something for everyone. Note to Heather, one of our favorite consultants, we’ll be back!

Georgia and Susanne
The Wine Ladies

We also had the opportunity to meet Peter Gago in 2008 at an exclusive media tasting in Toronto. Check it out here.

Canada's 150th Birthday Frisky Beaver winery, winemaker Peter Graham.

Canada’s 150th birthday is plenty reason to pop a cork…with wineries from coast to coast!