Experiencing Pinot Grigio in Historic Trento and Sicily Sizzling with Stemmari reds!

Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio
Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio

Say YES to Pinot Grigio, aka Pinot Gris or Grauburgunder this slightly grayish-blue tinged grape varietal, hence the name is one of the most popular wines being enjoyed across America! Everyone enjoys a glass of Pinot Grigio! And at a very special luncheon we recently had the honour to attend, we were introduced to Pinot Grigio 2.0 if you will from the historic wine region of Trento, Italy.

The Wine Ladies, Georgia and Susanne enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting with wine maker Lucio Matricardi. Looking forward to an afternoon of Pinot Grigio
The Wine Ladies, Georgia and Susanne enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting with wine maker Lucio Matricardi.

From Trento in the north we headed south and enjoyed a trio of red wines from another Italian region. Arguably one of the most exciting wine regions today, that is Sicily!

The luncheon was hosted by Rachel Woodman, of Woodman Wines and Spirits, who recently took on the exciting portfolio of Gruppo Mezzacorona with a history dating back over 110 years. Gathered at the delectable Italian eatery Little Anthony’s in Toronto, we were a diverse group of bloggers, sommeliers and media all eager to get this anticipated afternoon on its way. To lead us through the tasting and fill us in on Mezzacorona, dating back to 1904, the wines and a little history was the very charismatic visiting winemaker Phd Lucio Matricardi. Matricardi trained in winemaking and viticulture at the University of Bologna, earned his Ph.D. in viticulture and enology from the University of California at Davis and has worked at wineries around the globe. We had heard great things about this celebrated winemaker including his approach to his craft and his persona. We were not disappointed! Under the Gruppo Mezzacorona are three wineries, Rotari located in Trento, being their crown jewel for sparkling wines made in the traditional champagne method, Mezzacorona in Trentino and Stemmari in Sicily.

Phd Lucio Matricardi. Matricardi trained in winemaking and viticulture at the University of Bologna, earned his Ph.D. in viticulture and enology from the University of California at Davis. Looking forward to an afternoon of Pinot Grigio.
Phd Lucio Matricardi. Matricardi trained in winemaking and viticulture at the University of Bologna, earned his Ph.D. in viticulture and enology from the University of California at Davis.

The luncheon began with an inviting and beautiful glass of the Rotari Brut, 2014, delectably rich and full on the palate with notes of green apple, white flowers and a delicate hint of yeast. As it became time to be seated, Rachel made the formal introduction and Lucio Matricardi was at the helm. We listened intently as Lucio filled us in on Mezzacorona. We learned that Mezzacororna is a wine producing cooperative, located in the north eastern part of Italy in the cool mountainous region of Trentino-Alto Adige. This region produces close to 70% of all the Pinot Grigio made in Italy. Mezzacorona was formed by the joining of two cooperatives in the region, Cantina Siciale started in 1904 and Lena far Viticoltori founded in 1911.

Today Mezzacorona is one of the most important and respected cooperatives in all of Italy, with a commitment to the highest quality, respect for the environment and sustainability. 

Lucio, passionate about the history went on to explain how generations of families have devoted themselves to the cultivation of the grapes, with few having left the region. This, he tells us despite the great challenges grape growing presented at the time.“The Trentino has always been a very difficult region to live in because it is overshadowed by the mountains (the Dolomites) by about 80% so the cultivable lands were very small and so unprofitable.” After the war,” Lucio explained “the support of the local government, adopting policies to promote the economic development of the region at least allowed for the families to remain and continue to work their farms.” We learn that the challenge though remained for each individual farmer to commercialize their products abroad. The fragmentation of vineyards and grape production made it impossible. “So the joining together to form a cooperative was the only solution to be able to be stronger and have money to invest in a winery and in a brand. Hence in 1904 the Mezzacorona Company was born and today includes 1600 grape producers and guarantees economic stability generation after generation to the farmers.”In present day particularly key to the cooperatives’ success is how a passionate team of 5 agronomists and several oenologists work on a daily basis in close contact with the grape growers for the entire life cycle of the wine, in the vineyards, during harvest and up to the bottling. Lucio emphasizes that in Trentino Pinot Grigio has been the variety best adapted to the soil of the Adige Valley, that is rich in silt, skeleton and medium level of clay. He also credits the cool climate coming from glaciers surrounding the Adige Valley and the warm temperatures of the day, to allowing for the grapes to produce a superior quality wine in aroma, body and structure. We enjoyed three Pinot Grigio, one of which is a staple in our market the Mezzacorona 2018 Trentino DOC, a terrific buy! The grapes are hand picked and estate bottled. It is crisp and dry with notes of green apple, peach and white flowers. 

Up next was the Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio Riserva 2017. We truly enjoyed this Pinot Grigio, with 40% of the wine fermented in stainless steel and 60% in small oak barrels. After 6-8 months of the wine aging in the barrels, that which was fermented in stainless steel is blended with the oak aged and the result is a harmonious and delectable wine with a nose of ripe stone fruit notes and hints of vanilla. A beautiful pairing with two PRIMI course options; our delicious Heirloom Tomato Caprese, made with pickled shallot, Fior di Latte, aged balsamic and fresh basiland the big hit Shrimp Scampi!

A beautiful pairing with two PRIMI course options; our delicious Heirloom Tomato Caprese, made with pickled shallot.
A beautiful pairing with two PRIMI course options; our delicious Heirloom Tomato Caprese, made with pickled shallot.

Our final was the Mezzacorona Castel Firmian Pinot Grigio 2018, Trentino DOC. Also an Award-Winner of a Bronze Medal, 2014 International Wine & Spirit Competition.We must move on as the Stemmari Nero D’Avola and the Hedonis Riserva beckons! We are in Sicily now, where as Lucio tells us Sicilia  gives us the “art of Living with the generosity of the sun, of the soil and of the water”. As the Winemaker Lucio is passionate about the wines of Stemmari, exclaiming how Stemmari brings to you a modern wine that can be paired with modern, Mediterranean and continental dishes. “Nero D’Avola is the most historical and noble grape planted here, it is a rich grape, in the glass we find an aroma of raspberry, of strawberry and currant, the palate is multi fragrant and elegant.” Nods all around, yes, this wine does deliver all that!

 “Nero D’Avola is the most historical and noble grape planted here, it is a rich grape, in the glass we find an aroma of raspberry, of strawberryand currant,thepalate is multi fragrant and elegant.”

To our final vino today Stemmari Hedonis Riserva 2015 Sicilia DOC is poured in our glass.

The bouquet isseductive, complex with a cornucopia of aromas reminiscent of dried fruits, spices, notes of vanilla and tobacco! On the palate, smooth, soft like velvet with good structure and sublime tannins. Award-Winning 91 Points 2018 Ultimate Wine Challenge, please visit the website for details on vinifcation and oak aging, an amazing wine! We are served the SECONDI, Tagliatelle alla Bolognese.We await upon the verdict from Lucio who after all did train at the University of Bologna. “Fantastico, perfectly al dente!”We all concur. With Hedonis in our glasses, we continue to enjoy the beautiful wine, our perfecto pasta and spirited conversation into the late afternoon. We thank Rachel for a delightful afternoon, it was truly a great pleasure to meet Lucio, and become more acquainted with Mezzacorona!

If you could like more information on any of the wines please contact Rachel Woodman woodmanwinesandspirits.com

Rotari Brut 2014 $19.95
Gold Medal, 2018 Champagne &
Sparkling Wineworld championship
Available: CONSIGNMENT

Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio 2018 Trentino DOC $14.95

Available: LCBO

Mezzacorona Riserva Pinot Grigio 2017 Trentino DOC
$17.95

Available: Vintages January 2020

Stemmari Hedonis Riserva 2015 Sicilia DOC
$36.95

Available: CONSIGNMENT

Stemmari Nero D’Avola 2017 Sicilia DOC Sicilia DOC

$14.95

Available: Vintages January 2020

Meet the “Hot Irishman” and maker of Writers’ Tears Irish Whiskey, Bernard Walsh. Just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day!

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Grange of Prince Edward Barn

A day in the county with The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery.

A day in the county – a promised land for elegant, seductive wines tinged with limestone and an undeniable minerality, “It’s due to the dirt” the locals say. Prince Edward County, located just east of Toronto remains Ontario’s newest wine appellation and quite possibly the fastest growing wine region in the world! 

This glorious county has been touted as one of Canada’s top tourist destinations as well, promising the visitor a relaxing and casual vibe in which to enjoy a multitude of amazing local foods, wine, art and activities. Of course there is also the lake, offering up fine sandy beaches, one of Canada’s best, and 800 km of shoreline. Unbeknownst to many Prince Edward County is technically considered an island, man made located in Lake Ontario.  The lake not only most welcoming to the 650,000 annual visitors to the county but also most welcoming to the approximate 600 acres of vineyards planted here. 

Situated at the eastern end on the north shore of Lake Ontario it is this large body of water that plays an integral role in allowing the grapes of PEC to ripen slowly, and fully. But it starts from the ground up and we go back to the dirt. The limestone bedrock and stoney soils of the county allow for excellent drainage in the spring warming, forcing vines to grow deeper during hot summer months. This is all good, building character with albeit small yields but concentrated flavours and complexity in PEC wines!

Caroline Granger, Founder and CEO The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery.

We recently had the opportunity to reconnect with a very special lady, the Founder and CEO of one of the pioneering wineries in the county, Caroline Granger of The Grange of Prince Edward County Vineyards and Estate Winery.

We flash back to 2010 when we first met Caroline, hair tied back, casual in faded blue jeans, with precious county dirt on her hands as she lovingly inspected the grapes in her vineyard. Later we ventured into the Grange barrel cellar, where we laughed, and tasted some wines, as Caroline told us that this, the barrel cellar was the most important room above all.  “Where the wines have a chance to develop and become all that they can be,” she explained.

We were so taken with Caroline those years ago with her drive, her commitment and courage to follow her passion. You see Caroline Granger was the first female in the county, to open her own winery, a bold move considering at the time there were just three winery licences granted in the whole region. The growth of PEC that earned its VQA status in 2007 now boasts close to 45 wineries of varying styles, with something for everyone, from small and quaint to modern and sophisticated.

We asked Caroline to tell us a little about her and how The Grange of Prince Edward came to be!

Grange of Prince Edward Barrel Room

We learned that farming and agriculture came naturally to Caroline as she grew up on a small farm her parents purchased back in 1974. Those roots in family farming gave Caroline an appreciation for the land, of hard work and ignited in her a sense of independence.  After some time away she found herself back on the farm with three small kids in tow looking to rejuvenate her life. Parents Robert and Diana were finding the daily working of the farm challenging so Caroline stepped up.

In the year 2001, Caroline lead her family into a new form of agriculture replacing the mixed feed crops and sweet peas with vineyard plantings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay! In just a few years, in 2004 she opened the doors to the Grange of Prince Edward County Vineyards and Estate Winery. True to her roots or in the genes, Caroline’s daughter Maggie returned to the farm embracing her love of wine and of the land in 2010. Today this mother-daughter duo is at the helm of one of the most respected and highly regarded wineries in PEC.

The winery, the vineyards and the wines….

The winery situated in a rustic farmland setting is housed in an historic barn built in 1826. Converted into a tasting room, with an art gallery loft and room rentals for events, the space is inviting, casual and inspiring. 

It is situated among the 60 acres of vineyards the Grangers have planted, which produce strictly 100 percent estate-grown and made wines.  This we learn separates the Grange from many of the other wineries in the county. It allows them to make wines that truly reflect their own distinct style and that of the region. This is not to say that this model doesn’t have its challenges. 

Mother Caroline and daughter Maggie, The Granger Girls.

As Maggie explains “It’s challenging to rely only on yourself and your vineyard, and so to be able to produce these wines and have them shine is fulfilling and, ultimately, a really unique experience for consumers.”  The wines of the Granger gals have been rewarded with Caroline’s and Maggie’s commitment to the winery being self sufficient and producing wines with little intervention. As Caroline enthuses “it is incredibly important to me that I know without a doubt what has gone into the grapes and in turn the wines, and to be able to stand behind them completely”.

The roster of Grange wines is inspiring, from the vineyard plantings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon.  We most recently enjoyed the County Cremant Quartz 2011 and the Estate Almanac White. 

Here are our thoughts on these wines and their delectable pairings with a local county cheese!

County Cremant Quartz 2011             $35.00

The County Cremant sparkling wines are a series of bubbly that is meant to vary depending on the nuances of each individual vintage. Cremant are sparkling wines that are produced using the same method as Champagne, costly and labour intensive with secondary bottle fermentation.

Delish! A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay 50/50 this bubbly delivers a beautiful toastiness, with flavours of citrus and notes of honey and brioche with great balance, crisp, good acidity and an elegant mineral finish. After 60 months on the lees, it was worth the wait! Suggested cheese pairing, at the winery the winning partner is the local Buffalina. Delectable! 

Availability: Winery Direct

Estate Almanac White VQA PEC                     $16.95

The Almanac Series represents a snapshot of a vintage on a vineyard just as the Farmers Almanac is a snapshot of a growing season.
The Almanac Series represents a snapshot of a vintage on a vineyard just as the Farmers Almanac is a snapshot of a growing season.
Availability LCBO

This is a blend of three varietals, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling, 100 % estate grown. Light to medium bodied at 12%, aromatic, crisp with notes of lemon, hints of apricot and pineapple, beautiful balance. Recommended with local Fiftowns Cape Vessy cheese. 

If you find yourself sometime soon in the county be sure to drop in and say hello to Caroline and Maggie from us! As a reminder a memorable experience awaits you at the Grange. Experience the beautiful grounds with a local charcuterie filled picnic basket, take a tour or enjoy some beautiful wines at the tasting bar. 

For more information www.grangeofprinceedward.com

Yes Way, Rose
Yes Way, Rose

Yes Way, Rosé! Celebrate all things Rosé for International Rosé Day on June 8th. Plus…A Cannabis Sommelier? Really?


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…

MALBEC WORLD DAY 2018.

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.

AudioPodcast04062018MalbecWorldDay2018AD

Honouring International Women’s Day with Wine, and Women of the vine!

Zonta Celebrates International Women's Say 2019
The ladies of Zonta Club of Oakville.

International Women’s Day, or IWD is an annual celebration of women’s achievements,

On March 5th we were honoured to be the emcees for an IWD event, Zonta Celebrates in support of the Oakville Hospital Foundation with funds specifically directed to the issues of women’s health.

A global celebration that is marked around the world with festivals, conferences, fundraisers and fun runs. This March 8thmarked the 108th anniversary of IWD. With the first gathering happening in 1911 in the city of New York supported by over a million people from Switzerland, Denmark, Austria and Germany. 

The mandate of IWD is to rally for gender equality and to honour and celebrate the achievements of women across the globe.  Gender equality in the wine business we thought. Hmm… how are we doing ladies, in this traditionally dominated male industry? We recently had the opportunity to explore that very question. 

Zonta Celebrates International Women's Say 2019
100 years

Zonta International is a global organization of more than 29,000 members in close to 1,200 Zonta clubs in 63 countries. Since 1919 these ladies, advocates for women’s rights, have been working together to improve the lives of girls and women, for 100 years!

Zonta Celebrates International Women's Say 2019

The Zonta Club of Oakville, one of these esteemed clubs hosted this spectacular celebration and fundraiser. It was an extraordinary evening, of passion and compassion with close to 600 guests in attendance. 

Catriona Le May Doan

The highlight of the evening was when keynote speaker two-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner, the fastest women on ice Catriona Le May Doan approached the podium.

She spoke of her victories and her challenges both on the ice and off, in her past and in the present. As a woman in sport, was it a level playing field? Here’s what Catriona had to say “It was for me in my sport but in the last seventeen years, the inclusion of women in other sports and teams has made an improvement but still has a way to go”.  And for us in the world of wine, is there equal opportunity? We personally have seen a greater presence of women in our field. Back in 2002 when we started there were far fewer ladies. Fast forward many more female wine makers, viticulturists, sommeliers, marketing executives and writers are populating the business.  Plus…. do women have better palates? Ah, the $64,000 question!  We learn from Catriona that she too has a great love and appreciation for a fine glass of red wine! Besties forever!

The Wine Wall

Speaking of wine, over to the Wine Wall, what a fabulous collection of wines, wine baskets, and wine related accessories all auctioned off to the highest bid in our silent auction. A big thanks to the many sponsors and private individuals for their generous donations!

Marilisa Allegrini at La Poya vineyard, Allegrini, Valpolicella, Italy
Marilisa Allegrini at La Poya vineyard, Allegrini, Valpolicella, Italy

         For this International Women’s Day, we thought we would introduce you to one remarkable woman in our field.  

She is Marilisa Allegrini, CEO of Allegrini, one of the most respected and highly acclaimed wineries of Italy located in the storied wine growing region of Valpolicella. Allegrini is world-renowned in particular for their exceptional production of the iconic wine Amarone. She is known as the “Voice of Amarone” and has been often described as a “Wine Star”. 

 Marilisa is the first Italian woman wine producer to grace the cover of one of the most respected and famous wine magazines in the world, The Wine Spectator. Since the early 1980’s Marilisa has been traveling the world sharing her passion for both the wines of Allegrini and the region of Valpolicella. 

We had the opportunity to meet with Marilisa and asked if she would tell us a little more about the company and her role.

We learn that the Allegrini family has been involved with grape growing and winemaking since the 1500’s handing down grape growing and winemaking traditions over six generations. 

Its roots lie in a small village Fumane de Valpolicella located just north of Verona in north-eastern Italy. The family played a prominent role in the local community as one of the most important landowners, involved in agricultural work and upholding local traditions.  

The company took a proverbial giant step in growth with the 5thgeneration Allegrini at the helm Marilisa’s father Giovanni.

 ‘It was” Marilisa goes on to explain with great admiration “the intelligence and hard work of her father. An instinctive man with respect to the land and innovative winemaking practices. That was integral in leading the way to modern winemaking and earning the reputation Allegrini enjoys today. Allegrini and Amarone della Valpolicella! 

Just one example of many, he was one of the first producers to change the style and the methodology of making Amarone. Once little known, with a profile reminiscent of a port, to the prestigious and delicious wine it is today produced with dried grapes. 

            Today we discover that Allegrini’s Amarone, with son Franco as the winemaker since 1983 is considered the benchmark and the style new winemakers look to emulate. 

 Allegrini was also one of the first to develop several cru vineyards including La Poja, reviewed here below.  

As we continue to chat Marilisa emphasizes how it is all about the land. How connected she and her family are to both the history and present of Valpolicella. The company’s holdings are impressive. They include several of the villages in the original (classico) region of Valpolicella.  The company’s philosophy  is to produce single vineyard wines made with local grape varieties. 

            The tireless Marilisa, a world-traveling ambassador for Allegrini and Valpolicella. She has been credited with taking an already famous company to new heights. And as a bold and brave CEO, along with brother and winemaker Franco, they’ve taken on new challenges and exciting acquisitions! To Tuscany, first in Bolgheri and then Montalcino.  

We had the opportunity to enjoy two Allegrini wines at a recent get together.

The first one of particular pride and joy to Marilisa, with a special connection to her late father, the wine La Poja. 

La Poja is a single vineyard spectacular wine, which comes from a specific parcel of land, the prestigious La Grola vineyard in the Valpolicella Classico area. Marilisa tells us that not long before her fathers passing Giovanni acquired this parcel. A piece at the top of the famous hill of the La Grola vineyard, 2.65 hectares  “at great financial effort”. He believed so strongly in this location and the characteristics of the soil. 78% chalk and with great mineral content in its ability to produce exceptional wines with great structure and aging potential. Today La Poja is the crown jewel of “Grand Cru expression” of Allegrini. It rounds out their stupendous line up of wines including their Valpolicella, Palazzo della Torre and their iconic Amarone to name a few.

LA POJA  $110.00  VINTAGES 

La Poja, single vineyard, single varietal made with 100% Corvina. 

Elegant, rich and full bodied, seductive on the nose with intense aromas of black currant, juicy cherries, hints of spice, velvety on the palate with blackberry, cherry and hint of liquorice flavours ending with a luscious lingering finish.

PALAZZO DELLA TORRE $24.95

We so enjoyed this full bodied, delectable wine! With a seductive nose of blackberries, spice, hints of vanilla and milk chocolate, a rich intense mouth filling red wine, lots of black fruit, with hints of smoke and a chocolate-mocha flavour on the palate. We loved it!

We hope you all have the opportunity someday to enjoy the wines of Allegrini and the fruits of this amazing historic winemaking family! Hats off to Marilisa, and to all the ladies out there forging their way in this 108thanniversary year of International Women’s Day!

For more information on Allegrini wines and their availability please visit www.woodmanwinesandspirits.com

A glittering, golden evening celebrating International Women’s Day with Zonta Celebrates and Olympic Gold Medalist, Catriona Le May Doan.

International Women's Day
International Women’s Day

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. 

Limonicello

Limonicello

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.

Adamo Estate Winery

National Rosé Day celebrates the delight and versatility of one of the oldest wines in the world dating back over 2600 years!

Join the rosé Revolution 

National Rosé Day celebrates the delight and versatility of one of the oldest wines in the world dating back over 2600 years!

The Wine Ladies suggest you think pink for summer. Think pink indeed, and we’re not talking Giorgio Armani or Dolce & Gabbana. Although we are referring to what’s in fashion, it’s not what you’re wearing, but what’s in your wine glass. Rosés are enjoying a much  deserved revival, with recent years showing the world going wild for these ever popular pink wines.  Hence International Rosé Day now falls  on three separate occasions, in 2018  June 9th, 22nd, and August 14th.  No other wine or varietal can boast such a following!  And in case you haven’t heard ladies we are not exactly cornering this market as real men drink pink too, and a lot of it! Check out the hash tag  brosé sparked by men standing tall and shattering gender stereotypes by declaring that they are not afraid to drink pink.  Also increasingly occupying prime real estate both on wine lists and on store shelves, retailers and restaurateurs are responding to the popular demand of these blushing “bevies”.

Why is everything coming up rosés now you may ask?

The sweeter, cloying days of former rosés are gone, stylistically now being replaced with a plethora of wonderfully, crisp, fresh and dry wines being produced in many parts of the wine-growing world.  Plus improved wine making equipment and winemaking techniques have played a significant role, with the new rosés showing vibrant aromas, flavors and good structure. Pick your variety, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cinsault, Zinfandel or Cabernet just to name a few, or select your rosé according to colour, from a pale salmon hue to deep neon pink. The possibilities are endless.

Rosés are the perfect wine for summer, easily approachable and lighter bodied, served chilled they make a delectable accompaniment to a variety of warm weather fare. They’re like chameleons, able to adapt to partnering well with almost any kind of dish, from light snacks to more serious fare rosés can do it all. Fire up the barbeque and grill away, whether it be a choice cut steak, seafood or grilled veggies, grab a pink drink.

Of course many a celebrity have jumped on the rosé bandwagon too, most recently son of rock star Bon Jovi with his Diving into Hampton Water, Barrymore of Drew Barrymore and of course Brad Pitt and Angelina’s Miraval, although now divested. All this plus the aggressive marketing of these wines abroad, primarily by France, it’s no wonder rosé rules.

We’d like to share with you a sampling of a few rosé we’ve recently enjoyed two of which are made in France, the birthplace of rosé some 2600 years ago and a third coming from a local winery situated in one of Ontario’s newest emerging wine regions.

Rosé Day Remy Pannier Sip and Cycle Group shot
Grape Escape Wine Tours with Remy Pannier Rose and Rosé Day

Our first rose, produced by Remy Pannier hails from the Loire Valley, France.  

We recently had the opportunity to speak with the Export Director Julien Cothenet, of this historical house founded back in 1855. Remy Pannier we learn was founded by Francois Remy and has been identified with premium quality Loire Valley wines for over 150 years.

As the most recognized name in the Loire Valley, Remy Pannier over the years has established close and lasting relationships with over 800 growers, providing direction and knowledge on the latest viticultural practices ensuring the finest quality grapes for their wines. When asked how Julien would specifically characterise the rosés of the Loire Valley and specifically the Remy Pannier Rosé d’anjou this is what he had to say “The Loire Valley is the second largest region for the production of rosé wines, just after the Cotes de Provence, however our Loire Valley Rosé d’anjou Appellation is among the fruitiest rosé you can find in France, with a lovely hint of softness which makes it so easy to drink” To his pairings of delight, grilled shrimps, spicy pork sandwich or vegetable quiche. Delish!

Remy Pannier Rosé d'anjou 2016
Remy Pannier Rosé d’anjou 2016 Loire, France

Enjoy a glass of Rose d’anjou, definitely a crowd pleaser as one of the best-selling rosés in  Ontario. This rosé is light bodied, crisp and fresh, light coral in colour, with an enticing aroma of strawberry, red cherries and citrus. It is off dry, elegant and will match well with a variety of salads, appetizers and grilled seafood! Made with Cabernet Franc.

Rosé Day Ventoux Market
Flower shopping National Rose Day

Ventoux Appellation Ventoux Controllé 2017 Ogier    $13.95

For our second perspective on rosés made in France we turn our attention to the Rhone Valley and more specifically the appellation of Ventoux. Ventoux vineyards actually developed and expanded during the Avignon papacy which was 1309 -1376 and over the centuries were drunk at the table of the kings of France. Our producer Ogier founded in 1859 is situated in the southern Rhone in the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which literally translates to “new castle of the Pope”.  Ventoux is enjoying a positive affect of climate change and now due to the warmer climes are producing wines of deeper colour and body.  Ogier’s Ventoux rosé comes from the best vineyards of the appellation in the South East of the Mont Ventoux mountains.

In a recent interview with Associate Winemaker and Brand Ambassador Raphael Pommier we learned that the beautiful acidity his Ventoux wines enjoy along with the full body is due to the positioning of the vineyards. When asked what might be Raphael’s desired culinary partner to enjoy with his Ventoux, grilled veggies doused with olive oil, zucchini, tomatoes and lamb with a healthy rub of fresh Provencal herbs was among his top picks, and ours!

Ventoux Appellation Ventoux Controllé 2017 Ogier    $13.95
Ventoux Appellation Ventoux Controllé 2017 Ogier $13.95

Fresh and crisp, this rosé is full bodied, with aromas of fresh berries, hints of pink grapefruit and slight nuances of violet, dry on the palate with red berry flavours and smooth finish.Made with a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault

Onto our final leg celebrating Raphael Pommier, or should we say “Rosé days… ahh, the power of pink, our local representative is Adamo Estate Winery.

If one is familiar with the remarkable Hockley Valley Resort, just forty-five minutes north of Toronto located in the stunning rolling hills of Hockley Valley, you may know of the Adamo Estate Winery, founded and owned by the same remarkable person Mario Adamo and family.

Adamo Estate Winery
Mario Adamo

Founded just seven years ago, Adamo Estate Winery was a dream come true for founders Mario Adamo, originally from Calabria Italy and his wife Nancy.

What started on a lot with a few vines planted and a dilapidated barn, we fast-forward to a stunning destination, a state of the art winery, glorious grounds and vineyards, a restaurant and more. A beautiful bonus, as an art lover was the multitude of incredible paintings permeating the space, all created by Mario himself, the founder who happens to be a breath taking painter!

Adamo Estate Winery
Winemaker Shauna White

We had the opportunity to chat with winemaker Shauna White.

Beautiful and so talented who has worked her magic in many wine growing regions around the world. Shauna was drawn to Adamo, being small, affording her the opportunity to work the full gamut, from the vineyards to the winemaking with a passion to commit to sustainability. With many Adamo wines gaining world wide recognition, and winning  a good number of the most prestigious awards, Shauna is in a good place, and so evidently are the vineyards. 

In a moment of serenity we take in the beautiful scenery, the vineyards and the backdrop of the Hawkley Valley Hills, Shauna and ourselves. We chat and sample Adamo’s Gamay Rose 2017 Kirby Vineyard.  Shauna tells us the wine was made in the saignee method, the crushed grapes skin soak for 6 hours, the juice then cool settles in tank and fermentation begins.

Adamo Estate Winery
Adamo Gamay Rose 2017 Kirby Vineyard $18.05

 The wine is  light salmon in color, because of brief skin soak, it is dry, crisp  and clean with “lots of grapefruit this year” Shauna tells us and “is drinking more like a white wine”. Hints of aged oak can be detected,  aromatic and with a refreshing finish. 

Adamo Estate Winery

Happy Rosé Day

Coming up on the next The Wine Ladies Audio Podcast. International Rosé Day #RoséAllDay. June 22nd, 2018

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 www.rennieestatewinery.com 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 www.rennieestatewinery.com 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.

JEAN-BENOIT DESLAURIERS

JEAN-BENOIT DESLAURIERS

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