Review: Charles Smith Wines – 2014 Kung Fu Girl Riesling

FROM RAGS TO RICHES

There is nothing that I love more than a great underdog story.  The rags to riches kind.  It takes enormous dedication and talent to be a self taught professional Winemaker.  Even more to go on and win NUMEROUS Winemaker of the Year Awards.  Old school thinking would say it impossible… but that is exactly what Charles Smith of Charles Smith Wines has done, and his Kung Fu Girl Riesling is largely to thank.

Time and time again, this beauty manages to land in Wine Spectator Magazine’s Top 100 Wines.  This is unheard of for a wine that typically retails for $12USD or $20CAD.  But when you taste it, it will come as no surprise.  This is INSANELY good value. Continue reading “Review: Charles Smith Wines – 2014 Kung Fu Girl Riesling”

Best Wines for Valentines

Romance is in the air and the day of love is nearly upon us!  What better way to celebrate with your special someone than with a romantic dinner, and a specially picked bottle of wine!

Special menus call for special bottles, and here are a few of my top picks for Valentine’s Day Romance depending on what menu is on your radar.

Classicly Romantic Chocolate Covered Strawberries…

Each year I test my artistic pastry chef skills and make a batch of Chocolate Covered Strawberries for us.  There is something classicaly seductive and romantic about this special treat.  Something this special deserves a wine equally special to go with it.  My personal favourite is Rosé Champagne:

bollingerrose

Bollinger Brut NV Rose Champagne – $107

A classic Aphrodesiac, this is one bottle that you don’t have to save for dessert.  The complexity of balanced savoury and fruity flavours in a bottle of Rosé Champage will compliment your entire meal.  And frankly, this wine is too special to save for just dessert.  Take your time, sip and savour your wine and eachother.  Your glass will be brimming with classic red berry fruit, and bright acidity that will perfectly match your shared dessert.  Besides, is there anything that says Valentine’s day more than a festive glass of pink bubbles?  I think not…

Best wine for the box of Chocolates…

Red Wine and Chocolate go classically hand in hand.  But the truth is that not every red wine is a great match!  Milk Chocolate and sweet filling can throw off your wine if it does not have enough residual sugar.  If you plan of diving into a box with an assortment of caramel and fruit filled assorted treasures – a bottle of Vintage Port is your best bet.

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Quinta do Noval – Silval 2005 Vintage Port – $83

Vintage Ruby Ports usually explode with rich red fruit character, and offer just the right ammount of sweetness to balance out milk chocolate and caramel.  These wines are only made from the best years, similar to Vintage Champagnes.  Unlike Tawny Port, they do not see extended oxidation maturation in oak, and are instead largely matured in bottle.  Because of this they will be much fruitier in flavour than their Tawny cousins.  They are also a classic standout with blue cheese.  So if a cheese plate, and box of chocolates are on your radar – this is a sure winner.

Classic Steak or Filet Mignon wrapped with Bacon?

Special dates call for special cuts of beef.  If you are thinking of impressing your sweetheart with a decadent steak dinner, simply prepared on the grill, or based in butter with salt and pepper, then a Syrah from the Northern Rhone or high quality Australian Shiraz is your ideal bet.

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Domaine Yves Cuilleron – 2011 L’Amarybelle Syrah, St. Joseph $53

Your Northern Rhone selelctions from areas such as St. Joseph will offer a beautiful smokey complexity to them that are a perfect compliment to grilled flavours in lean cuts of beef, especially classic Filet Mignon wrapped with peppered bacon.  Full of rich red fruit character, smoke, and pepper this is a perfect choice.  Less smokey, and more fruit forward are your quality Shiraz offerings from the Barossa Valley in Australia.  These will be nice and peppery and full of jammy blackberry and cherry flavours.

Lobsterfest Anyone?

If crab legs or lobster tails are on your radar this Valentine’s Day, one of my favourite pariings with these dishes is Saumur.  Try this:

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Bouvet Ladubay – Brut Saumur NV – $25

Saumur is a Sparkling Wine Appelation in the heart of the Loire in France.  These festive bubbles have crisp acidity that will cut through the rich butter, and a unique smoky nose that will bring out the delicate sweetness of the crab or lobster meat.  They are also exceptional with fruit based desserts.  Saumur offers extreme value, and this wine is a great choice if you already splurged on a Valentine’s day gift.

Fondue for Two?

Whether it be Cheese, Meat, or both topped off with Chocolate Fondue for dessert, there is something extrememly romantic about sharing fondue for two.  With many sauces and flavours, I recommend going with a refreshing, complex, but slightly neutral wine.  Pinot Gris is a natural choice.  My top pick:

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Domaine Zind Humbrecht – 2011 Rotenberg Pinot Gris – $68

This treat from Alsace France is bursting with crisp citrus, and stone fruit, this wine has full body and tonnes of nutty texture thanks to lees treatment.  Refreshing with a strong mineral backbone, this wine compliments all of the rich sauces, cheese, and variety of flavours associated with Fondue.

No matter what your menu, or choice of wine, the most imporant thing is to remember to take time out to celebrate your relationship.  Make it special!

Cheers!

– Kathryn

 

 

Top 3 Wines to Melt Your Cares Away

It has been a loooong week for me.  Filled with excitement, and a tonne of hard work as I get closer to launching my new business.  At the end of it I find myself exhausted, and my mind spinning with a million and one different ideas.  With all of that spinning I recognize the need to take a time out.  A pause to calm my mind, and rest a little.  It’s at times like this that a bubble bath is just what the doctor ordered.

It’s pretty rare that I take the time to have a bubble bath.  I think like most busy women, it gets pushed off.  But really, I should do it more.  There is something about taking a pause, lighting some candles, breathing deeply, closing your eyes and soaking in a sea of scented bubbles that helps create calm and clarity.  Some people meditate, some exercise, if I can… I bathe.  No truly relaxing bubble bath experience is complete without a glass of wine.

Continue reading “Top 3 Wines to Melt Your Cares Away”

How to chill your wine fast…

We have all been there!  A long week at work, and you drive home dreaming about a nice glass of white wine, or better yet sparkling wine to end the day.  Only one small problem… you don’t have a cool bottle in the fridge, or you stopped off and picked up a bottle on your drive home.  Your bottle is warm… and you are thirsty!

Yes, you can put the bottle in the fridge and wait an hour for it to cool.  But you don’t have time for that, or just don’t want to wait.

Not to fret!  Here are my two favorite ways to chill down your bottle in under 25min Continue reading “How to chill your wine fast…”

Wining and Dining in Business – A Cautionary Tale

Let’s face it, wining and dining are an integral part of business these days.  The act of taking a potential client out to dinner, or furthering your career over lunch with the CEO can be one of the most stressful, and rewarding experiences you will face as a professional. And frankly, I think it is easier than golf!

I was doing some reflecting the other day as to what experiences in my life really sparked me and pushed me to dive into wine.  Eventually,  I discovered a new calling and decided to make wine my career.  When it comes right down to it, I never would have taken this path if it were not for my background in Business Development and Sales.

Out of University I spent the first 12 Years of my career in Finance, Fine Art and then Real Estate and Construction.  I was a professional Business Development Strategist and Salesperson in each of the roles I held.  Being in that world involved glorious dinners, with very well to-do individuals, that I desperately wanted to do business with. Each and every business meeting, networking event, or dinner always involved some aspect of food and wine.  Not only that, but after doing homework on my clients, I quickly learned that MANY of them looked at wine as a hobby.  They cared about it, and they knew their stuff.  Whether they collected it, took vacations to wine regions, or simply got a thrill of showing off their wealth by ordering something rare and expensive on the menu, it was often a major point of conversation.  When I started out, I knew very little about wine.  Looking back, I laughably realize I knew nothing.  But I thought I did.

Wine is a great topic of conversation in business.  Bonding over a well chosen bottle can be a catalyst to great success – If you know what you are talking about.   Continue reading “Wining and Dining in Business – A Cautionary Tale”

How to properly store your treasures… Even without a cellar

Picked up a special bottle, or found yourself unable to consume your treasure for an extended period of time?  Don’t have a beautiful custom cellar in your home?  Not to fret! Thinking a wine rack in the kitchen would be perfect?  You may want to save your money.  Check out the below video!

Continue reading “How to properly store your treasures… Even without a cellar”

Ageing with grace… How to I.D. and pick out an age worthy bottle of wine

In my last post I talked about what happens to wine as it ages, and some may read it and think that I do not favour aged wine.  NOT TRUE!  There are amazing age worthy bottles out there, that will offer up a sip of heaven if you are patient.  You just have to find them!

So you are out shopping and want to find a bottle that you can keep away for a special occasion 5+ years down the road.  What do you look for?

First of all, you have to enjoy savory characteristics in your wine.  For more info on why, and what happens to flavors in wine as it ages, see my post Some things are better with age… SOME

In order for a wine to age and develop well, it has to have specific structural components that ensure it A) Does not turn to Vinegar or B) Generally start to taste Gawd Awful.  Think of it like a well built building.  If it is made up of poor quality materials, that were not assembled correctly… it won’t last.

These structural components are as follows: Continue reading “Ageing with grace… How to I.D. and pick out an age worthy bottle of wine”

Like a fine wine, some things are better with age…. SOME

Make special note of the words “SOME” and “fine” above!

How many times have you been told that wine is better with age?  Whether it be directly or indirectly, there is a common misconception around wine that can be summed up as “the older the wine, the better it is.”

However, the reality of this is simply not the case.  I had the pleasure of professionally reviewing 271 Wines this past year – a tough task, I know!  One of the key components to my assessment of a wine, was blindly evaluating it’s age, and it’s ageing potential.  When I took my WSET Level 3 Advanced Exam we had to correctly identify the age of a wine blind.  Needless to say, through plenty of practice, I learned a thing or two!

The reality is, not all wines age well.  Continue reading “Like a fine wine, some things are better with age…. SOME”

Champagne was made for Celebrating…

With party planning and the holiday season right around the corner, we often turn our thoughts to times of celebration with loved ones over festive beverages like rum and eggnog and sparkling wines.  What better way to celebrate than with Champagne!

When planning your purchasing of a great bottle of bubbles, there are a few things to consider, but most importantly remember that most sparkling wines taste great with EVERYTHING!  Christmas Brunch – think a great bottle of Prosecco or Champagne.  Finger Food Christmas Party with tonnes of flavours… Turkey or Ham roast dinner that you just spent all week preparing with 50 different side dishes… give all of that hard work the wine it deserves and spring for a bottle of savoury Champagne.  Then of course there is New Years Eve and you realise maybe you need a few extra bottles.  You get the picture… special events deserve special wine.  The reality is that sparkling wine is very food friendly, and was made for celebrating with friends and family.  There is no better time to indulge than when surrounded by those you love.  Champagne is a culturally accepted luxury. Continue reading “Champagne was made for Celebrating…”

Vinho Verde – Conde Villar 2015

A Wine Review and Tasting Note

4/5 Stars

Conde Villar Vinho Verde Loureiro 2014 on Vivino

Best Vino Verde I have ever had!  We had the pleasure of tasting this in our WSET 3 class last night, and it had me longing for a hot summer day. There are few wines on market at this price point of under $20 that are as enjoyable.

I must admit that Vinho Verde is not a wine that I typically think to pick up very often, but this one made me change my mind!  I had found too many of these to be a little flat on flavour characters, and a little too 2 Dimensional, but not this one!  If you like wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Soave, Gavi, Pinot Grigio… you will enjoy this. Continue reading “Vinho Verde – Conde Villar 2015”