The Grape Count

In Vino Veritas- "In Wine there is Truth"
Grapes to try to date: 200

Grapes tried: 104
Grapes to go:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

#35- Muller-Thurgau (Rivaner)

Happy Halloween! What a great evening filled with family and little ones. But let's not kid ourselves, we got drink to wine! Random fact: any wine will do on an evening where one has to dress up and put up with little kids screaming "trick or treat" at the top of their lungs in the hope you throw a candy or two into their bag? True story. A second random fact: all wine pairs great with chocolate.

But I'm not even on that wine yet. I am reviewing the wine that we drank on Friday evening. After a long week of hating my job, Kris invited me out to her place for the evening to bitch, drink and do whatever grown ups do on Fridays. I brought us out a Rivaner. The Rivaner grape is one I hadn't heard of before but it is a cross breed of a Riesling and a Madelaine Royale grape (it was once thought to have been crossed with Silvaner but that has been proven wrong). It is quite sweet.

The name of the Winery is Black Tower in Germany, more specifically the Rhine Valley (note: I was just there three weeks ago- the Rhine Valley, not the winery). What a beautiful place on earth that I got to visit. I really enjoyed this part of Germany so it's nice to be able to drink a wine from there.

The Rivaner is also known as the Muller-Thurgau grape (and much easier to pronounce). On the varietal table, it appears as the Muller-Thurgau grape and it's also known as Liebfraumilch (direct translation if I remember my German correctly is Love Woman Milk) or something to that effect. it is moderately acidic and is a light lightweight wine, in other words, very easy to drink. And sweet.

Did I mention sweet? When Kristin took her first gulp of it, she was taken aback. It took us a while to get used to how sweet this wine was! Looking at the varietal chart, it is right next to the Pricesso grape, an Italian grape used for sparkling wine so you can imagine that it is indeed on the sweet side for sure. At first, Kristin said she wasn't sure if she'd be able to finish her glass it was that sweet.

She did.

In fact, she did ask if we had to leave any wine for Craig to try. I said she did.

I enjoyed this wine a lot. It is very fruity but hard to decipher exactly what fruit it is. Kris and took stabs at it- she guessed kumquat. Wrong. The fruits are apparently pineapple and mango.  It was sweet but we paired it with some maki from one of our favourite Japanese restaurants in the city- Teriyaki Corner. They had this new menu item- Dragon Rolls (spicy salmon deep fried and rolled with rice and a special dragon sauce). It was spicy all right but was nicely offset by the sweet crispness of the wine. Looking up the wine online, we found out it pairs nicely with a lot of spicy dishes.

I wouldn't suggest this wine if you're looking for a wine to go with a typical, American style food. It's much too sweet to drink with anything but spice or if you were treating as an aperitif or dessert. The Black Tower winery does indeed do this wine justice and comes in a very funky wine bottle (Black of course...)

The next wine is one of the favourite wines on our list- Shiraz. It is the one we drank this evening while the kiddies dug into their candy. They had their candy, we can have ours!

Craig was left at home to hand out candy to the kids so I stopped by to drop off the Rivaner to him; told him to pair it with something spicy. He ate a tuna fish sandwich with it. When I asked him what I thought of the wine, he said "all I can taste is tuna". Yup, we're related...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

#34- Petite Sirah

Maybe it was the high he was on. Or maybe he just didn't like it. Craig gives a thumbs down to the Petite Sirah. You can't win em all.

And it's unfair to say this was a losing wine. Instead we have a split decision. Kristin and Erin give it a thumbs up while mom and Craig give it a thumbs down. Take a chance and make your own decision for sure.

Our parents had the kids over for a nice roast beef dinner, gravy, side vegetables and desserts of turtle cheesecake and lemon meringue pie. The point of this dinner was to draw names for Christmas. Our family is growing bigger every year (case in point: two new little additions in May and a new sister in law Sharon so that's three more than last year). Instead of each of us buying little Christmas gifts for everyone, we draw names and only buy a larger gift for that one person. Of course the little ones still get gifts from each of us.

Guess who I drew?

Back to the task, the review of the wine. The wine is an Australian wine and the winery is De Bortoli. The grape is a 2008 Petite Sirah. The Petite Sirah is also known as the Durif grape. The wine is very spicy and has a very rich undertone to it. It reminded me of a Malbec (and Kristin and I are fans of most Malbecs, so maybe it's why we liked the wine). It is so spicy actually that I can taste the pepper in the wine after it's gone down. The wine pairs well with meats and I thought it was an excellent companion to the roast beef and gravy. It also goes very well with cheddar cheese (that's what I'm doing right now, drinking the last glass of it and eating a block of cheese. A small small block in case you're worried I've developed an odd habit).

And while I would like to put this wine in the win column, I can't absolutely. It's a wine I like, but I don't know if I'd actually go out and buy it again. With so many good Malbecs out there, I think I'd rather take my chances on that. It has just too much spicy kick to it and I like my wine, but I don't want to taste lingering in my mouth for very long at all. Like I said, you can't win em all.

If I attempt to drink two wines a week til the end of the year, I will actually have caught up with getting this blog back on track for its supposed weekly basis. I have 10 wines in my cabinet waiting to go; 8 more to find. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 25, 2010

#33- Kerner

Well well well. We have ourselves a winner! And not just a winner. Craig has officially declared this wine his favourite to date. I'm not even exaggerating when I say Craig and our mother went on and on about how good this wine was! Liquid goodness.

So what wine is this? Amazingly it's a Canadian wine and from a winery that I've actually been to. The grape however, is new to me. I'd never heard of the Kerner grape before but I do like the Gray Monk Estate Winery in Kelowna, British Columbia (that's our western most province in case you're not from around here). The Kerner grape is very aromatic, very acidic and is a lightweight wine. The colour of the wine was straw, but very blonde.

Like I said, I am familiar with this winery. I lived in Kelowna in 1996 for my radio practicum and we were lucky enough to get a winery tour and drink some fabulous wine. I bought my very first ice wine from them! Being in a cold Canadian climate, ice wine is a great wine to buy from here.

I chose the wine based on its pairing with my dinner. Now, looking at the picture of my dinner, I wouldn't want to eat it. But trust me- this dinner is delicious! (if I could serve this at my wedding without being laughed at I would). The dinner is Creamed Turkey on Toast, a meal that uses your left over turkey. It is so good. Made with mushroom soup and vegetables, you pour it over a bed of rice or pieces of toast. To die for. The Kerner wine mentioned it went well with white meat.

So I was pretty excited to try the Gray Monk Kerner wine. Nicely chilled, I poured myself a glass.I immediately liked it and thought it paired well with the turkey. While I was able to pull out the fruity flavour, Craig was immediately able to taste the pear (maybe because the bottle had been open for a while, the flavour became more pronounced). The wine did remind me a bit of a Riesling and looking at the varietal table, it is the most similar grape I've tried to date (though it is very different in overall taste, there is definite hints of riesling). 

The wine is also quite sweet but not overbearing. I definitely wouldn't serve it on its own. Craig would disagree and so would my mom. I'm pretty sure if I plopped a couple of wine bottles of this in front of them, they'd down them! Maybe an experiment is in order...
Anyway, the wine is fabulous and I had two glasses before putting the cork in it to take over for others to taste. I would definitely stay with a lighter food or supper with this wine and the high acidity was nicely neutralized with the mushroom sauce. Overall-  a great dinner and wine!

The next wine on the list is a red wine- the Petite Syrah!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ich bin ein wine drinker- St. Goar

My tour of Europe included 10 countries. Lots of wine was drunk in the making of this vacation. And there was also some beer. Germany, oh Germany. How I love thee. I'm glad I can speak German. Okay, scratch that. I'm glad I took five years of German and have retained enough to be able to order ice cream and beer.

My first night in Germany was in Munich and the only thing I did was drink 1 litre beers in tents at the biggest party in the world- Oktoberfest. If you've never been, and even if you don't drink beer, go at least once in your life. It is a sight to behold.

Our second night in Germany was in a smaller village further south as we headed into Austria, a place called St. Goar. Now I've written about this place already because I reviewed the Pinot Noir that I picked up from this place. So I won't repeat it again (please read post #32- pinot noir).

But I want to post pictures so I have to write something. It was cool tasting wine out of shot glasses. I recommend this method if you're doing a wine tasting (perfect sample size) and it just makes the whole thing a party.

I bought three wines, have already had one, was supposed to have drunk the Riesling already and am saving the icewine for a special occasion. Ice wines are delicious if you've never tried one.

Canada does excellent ones. They're pretty expensive so sample the wine first before you shell out some big dough. I bought this ice wine for 26 Euro when it sells for 80 Euro. A good deal I'd say. Now I just need a reason to drink it. Anyone have ideas for me?

I really enjoy German wines. Apparently Europeans don't like their wines (and while I don't think all Europeans are like this) I do think that many of them cannot get beyond thinking that any other country other than France and Italy is capable of making a decent wine. As Canadians, we're more open to trying wines as the majority of our wines are imported. I am now officially done giving my opinion on European wine drinkers. I like German wine- that's what matters!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Heart Full of Wine- London

So my devoted readers, all twelve of you- as you know I just recently got back from Europe where I was able to indulge in the sport of wine drinking. Needless to say, I think I placed top three for sure. There is just such an abundance of wine everywhere that I forgot to take notes and pictures half the time! I'm such a sorry blogger.

But luckily I did capture a lot of the highlights and I'm going to share them with you. At first I was going to do all of them in one blog but I've started to write about London and realize that each country deserves a blog entry all its own. So I start with the first stop (and the starting city of our tour) London, England.

 A friend of mine recommended I visit Gordon's Wine Bar on Villier's Street. It is the oldest wine bar in London, having been established in 1890. Man this place was cool. Karyn and I had left this to our last day on the trip and it was a great way to celebrate our amazing week in London. The place is beyond description. When you walk into the place, you immediately head down into the basement (and question yourself the whole way down this narrow staircase). But upon arriving at the bottom, the most amazing surprise awaits you! It is a full service restaurant set in the old cellars of a very old city. It's breathtaking.

The tables are mismatched, wine bottles act as candle holders, drops of water fall on your head from the cellar ceiling, light is kept so low you can barely see in front of you, it's crowded and it's perfect. A buffet is offered to those who wish to match food with their wine. We chose to simply drink the wine. Karyn loves rose so I chose (and went on the establishment recommendation) of the Clos Clementine. Delicious.

 Maybe it's the setting (and if you are a true romantic at heart, this is your place) but the cool crisp taste of this wine was just perfect on our lips.

 The highlight of my trip was seeing Les Miserables on the London stage but I can honestly say that this came in very very close. You can't get much better than second! I can't wait to go back and spend an evening at Gordon's Wine Bar once again. A truly remarkable and memorable experience.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

#32- Pinot Noir

Also known as Spatburgunder. A nice German wine, I picked this up on my latest trip to Europe. Yes- I'm back! I got back from my three week trip around Europe just over a week ago and it's been go go since. I plan to do a special post (this week sometime) on the various wines I got to try while I was there. To be surrounded by vineyards and dozens of wines I'd never heard of, I was in wine heaven!

But back to the wine at hand. As I mentioned, it is a wine that I picked in Germany. We stayed in a beautiful little town called St. Goar and had the most interesting wine tasting at the Familienwappen (weingut Carl Fricke) Weingut Schloss Rheinfels Winery. I ended up purchasing three wines and one of the wines I picked up was their Spatburgunder wine. It is made from the Pinot Noir grape. Usually considered a red wine wine, this wine was actually a rose wine! But I have learned that most Spatburgunder wines are in fact rose wines, and are very expensive to purchase (I must say I got myself a deal then...) This bottle of wine was about $22.00 CDN (I can't remember exactly how many Euros it was, so this is purely a guess).

I brought the wine over to my parents house for Thanksgiving dinner. Five of us wanted to taste the wine so after the first pour, there was very little left. As per tradition, mom made a turkey feast and I felt that the Spatburgunder was an excellent match to the meat. More and more people recommend going with sweeter wines for turkey and many are doing sparkling wines. While not a sparkling wine, the Pinot Noir grape is often very sweet. And sweet this wine was!

The wine is very lightweight and therefore easy to drink. Both my mom, Sharon (new sister in law) and I had no problems polishing off the wine. However, both brothers had issues finishing the wine, finding it very sweet and not to their tastes. Luckily for them I have no issue finishing their wine for them. The wine is very fruity and reminded me of a Zinfandel (well the rose anyway).

I really enjoyed the wine and wished I had brought more home with me but alas, I will have to settle for the memory of an amazing wine taste and knowing that I shared it with the most important people in the world to me. Yup, they're worth that much!

Next up is the Kerner grape and guess what? I bought myself a Canadian wine. It's good to be back home.