The Grape Count

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

Grapes tried: 104
Grapes to go:

Friday, December 31, 2010

Celebrate 2011! Happy New Year

Craig and I are heading to my sister's to ring in the new year and with us is wine #52! I have yet to write about the last two grapes but I'll catch up this weekend. I can't believe I've actually done it- drunk 52 wines in 52 weeks. Mind you it didn't go exactly as planned- I was away for at least 7 weeks this year so that required some catching up to do when I got back both times but it's been done. So successful that I  think I'll do it all over again next year! 52 more....hmmmm.....I've already got my list ready to go and the stores I have to visit.

I have another trip planned again this year and this time it's 8.5 weeks long so again, this year will require some doubling up of wines in a week to keep on track. What a hobby-- "researching" wine...he he he.

For New Year's, there will be wine and sparkling wine and lots of laughter. I for one can't wait to ring in the new year. At Christmas we had a fabulous sparkling wine that I would highly recommend for any occasion, including New Year's. The sparkling wine is called Scarlet O'Bubbles (yes, it's red!) from Australia. Warrego Wines is the winery that makes it. It is recommended to be drunk with bacon and eggs so if you don't get around to drinking it tonight, well- there's always tomorrow morning! Maybe it's the secret to ridding yourself of your hangover....

In any case, have fun tonight. I wish you all a happy and safe and prosperous new year! I do hope 2011 is all that you want it to be and more. Don't drink and drive and for goodness sake- tell someone you love this year and ring in the new year with a cheers!

Until tomorrow...

#50- Alicante Bouschet

The reds are getting thumbs up a lot these days (including from Craig) and this wine is no different! The Alicante grape is from Portugal and is also known as Alicante Bouschet. It's also named after the city of Alicant in Portugal. The grape is also fairly unique as it has flesh to it (most grapes used for wine don't)

The wine was bought again at Sherbrooke Liquor store the day I went in and found 8 grapes I hadn't yet tried. The bottle was a reasonable $21.99. The winery is the Grand D'Arte Winery.

The first thing I noticed about this wine is how spicy it is! It left a deep tingling sensation on my lips and the spices came out quite nicely with the wine. Drunk on Christmas Eve, this wine paired nicely with the tortiere my mother made for us (okay, store bought but usually it is homemade and hers is better anyway. As you can see by the colour of the tortiere below, it was definitely lacking something!).

Also noted for taste in this wine is plum and vanilla which you can actually taste. The blend is wonderful and just dances on your lips. It's also very dry and has very high alcohol content (14%) but very very good nonetheless.

The wine is also extremely dark, almost black in appearance. Drop something in your wine and you won't be finding it any time soon (until you drink your way to it I suppose). 

This is one wine Craig hasn't tried yet but I'm sure he'll get around to it- just a few more to go and he's all caught up!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

#49- Pinot Grigio

Best name for a wine ever! And no, we're not really implying anything by purchasing it (wink wink). My mom and I tried this wine at the Rocky Mountain Wine Festival all because of the name and we loved this wine.

The Pinot Grigio is a common white grape and an easy enough to get wine in Canada. So it would be easy for me to head out to the local liquor store and pick up anything. But I'm glad I didn't and held out for this wine. The wine? Middle Sister Drama Queen! How awesome is that name? Too much fun! What's even more fun is reading the back of the label. Along with the Drama Queen wine, I also picked up a Rebel Red (a mixed blend of 4-5 red grapes but absolutely to die for!)

The Middle Sister Winery is located in California, USA and is fairly new to the wine scene. They have 9 wines to choose from and while only 2 have been made available here in Alberta so far, I hope the others make their way here because they are freaking good! And cheap- both bottles were $17.99 at the Rosslyn Liquor store in Edmonton.

Paired with an awesome garlic chicken pizza, the Pinot Grigio was a crisp and easy drink with hints of pear. According to the site, it also has lemongrass but I don't know lemongrass well enough to agree or disagree.

Pinot Grigio is also known as Pinot Gris (or grey) and is actually a purple grape but often a Pinot Grigio wine is white as it is in this instance.  It is not a Pinot Blanc however.

The wine is always a good bet if you're attending a party as it pairs so well with so many things and most people can tolerate a Pinot Grigio. It's usually very easy to drink and comes in very clean and aromatic flavours depending on the region.

Craig also found this wine easy to drink and would give it a thumbs up. The best part of all of this is finding new wines that we can share with our family and friends. First it was Layer Cake wine and now Middle Sister wines! Hard to find right now in Alberta (but Rosslyn has them), I say get out there and pick a few bottles up. You won't be disappointed!

#48- Tannat

Uruguay- you have pleasantly surprised me! My first wine from the country and I have to say- it's a winner!! Oh yes, everyone who tried out this wine love love loved it!

The grape is the Tannat grape and creates a beautiful dark red wine. It is now considered the "national grape" of Uruguay and it definitely does them justice! The wine is a 2005 Tannat from the Pisano Winery. The first thing that hits you about this wine is the earthiness of it as well as the spicy kick this wine has. I definitely felt it on my lips (at first it almost left a burning feeling on my lips but as the wine breathed and as I drank more, that feeling lessened). But the spice added a really nice kick and aroma to the wine. Paired with a nice beef stew that Kristin made from scratch, this wine really brought out the flavours of the beef in a stew.

Similar to the Grand Reserva (Xinomavro), this wine has figured out how to do an oak flavour just right. I'm not usually a fan of oak but this one is done just beautifully and not overwhelming to the senses.

The Tannat grape is originally from France but was brought to Uruguay in the 1800's. The grape from Uruguay is quite different from the French one so if you're going to try the Tannat, definitely make sure it's from Uruguay.

Mom and Craig got to finish the bottle and they both liked it as well.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

#47- Chambourcin

The last month or so has been one of the most stressful months of my life and thankfully, that month is nearing the end. And lucky me, with that month end comes a brand new year. I say bring on 2011. But we're still a few days away so I'm busting out the blog and going blog crazy- I do have seven blogs to write in 4 days so hang on tight!

The next wine was brought out after a great evening of hot yoga (hence why I don't have a stitch of make up on in this picture). I had thawed a beef and lemon parsley stew that I had made earlier in the summer and it was ready to be reheated by the time I got home.

The wine I chose is the 2005 Yarraman Estate Winery- Black Cypress Chambourcin in Australia and more specifically the Hunter Valley. The Chambourcin wine had great vintages in 2004, 2002, 2001 and 1999. But of course I had the 2005 wine. I really wanted to like this wine. I did.

But I can't say that I do. I drank it and could muster the courage to drink it but I won't be going out of my way to get it again (unless the bottle has the right vintage year, maybe I'll give it another shot but that's a long one to be sure).

This wine is very dark in colour, almost black in depth. I couldn't really pull out many flavours from the wine itself because I found it to be a little too acidic. On the website it notes the wine isn't very acidic but again, they're talking about a vintage year. The bottle describes cherry and plum flavours and you definitely taste the fruit but really, this wine leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps I need to try it with chocolate or something. Noted for New Year's when I'm attempting to polish off the bottle...

The Chambourcin grape is not listed on De Long's Wine Grape Varietal Table but it is definitely a grape used in wine making and in several countries and originated in France, making its debut in 1963. The more I read, the more I realize I must pair this with chocolate. I tried the wine twice- once with the stew that I had made and then all on its own again tonight. But both times I didn't really enjoy it. Normally I don't give a wine a third taste but perhaps in this instant I will.

I'm not sure what else I can write other than try it yourself to see what you think, with chocolate of course! Craig is doing a monster catch up on the wine soon so we'll update the page on his opinion.

UPDATE: Craig didn't like the wine either.

ChocoVine is chocolate wine goodness

I am way behind on my blogging (I'm actually on wine #52 this week but I have a good excuse- my camera broke so I'm having to do some scrambling to get pics done but they're coming!)

A couple of months ago my mom and I went to the Rocky Mountain Wine Festival and I saw that they were debuting this new wine- ChocoVine. I didn't try it but the week after I ran into Sherbrooke Liquor Store to get some wine and saw a display of the Dutch wine and picked up a bottle. I've been meaning to write about this wine for a while.

It is good! Who knew chocolate and red wine could mix so well? A product of Holland (not the Netherlands, it says clearly on the bottle Holland- so it's specific to the Netherland region...oh never mind), ChocoVine is considered a liquer and is very similar in creaminess to a Bailey's or other types of cream liquers. I really enjoyed it and will probably bring it out again for  New Year's.

The red wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon and uses find Dutch chocolate (I was just in the Netherlands and never once thought to have their chocolate- I picked up Belgium chocolate and French chocolate but not Dutch chocolate). If you're not a chocolate fan, you won't like it and why would you try it anyway but if you like chocolate, you should like this. It's like it's the grown up cousin of chocolates with little bits of alcohol in them.

And it's gluten free so my dad can actually drink this without worry. I'm sure it'll be a talking piece for sure and if that's what you're going for, make sure you show up at the next party with a bottle and bring out the shooter glasses!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

#46- Savatiano

I'm pretty sure it's apple juice. Besides it looking identical to childhood's favourite juice (think urine yellow to be frank), to me, this wine tastes exactly like apple juice. According to the bottle I have the fruit wrong but when it tastes like juice, does it really matter?

The Savatiano grape is widely known in Greece and is often used in Retsina. It's not acidic at all and is considered a lightweight wine. It's easy enough to drink but it does leave a very distinct fruity taste in your mouth. While some wines are quite clean and once they're swallowed, that's it, this one tends to wallow in the back of your throat for a while. I can't say I'm a fan.

I guess if I wanted to drink apple juice, I'd drink apple juice. To be, the wine isn't distinct enough in its taste to really want me to drink more. I remember bragging just a few short blog posts ago how I hadn't met a Greek wine I didn't like. Well, I don't like this one. Apparently they only made 4,100 bottles in 2005. Probably a good thing. The winery is the Fragou Winery in Greece.

According to the back of the bottle, the fruity taste is from orange blossoms and peach. Odd as I don't taste orange at all (I do have to admit I had two Christmas oranges today so perhaps it's ruined my tongue for the orange) and I certainly don't taste peach! Dammit it's apple!

Being a Greek wine, I opted to eat a nice Greek salad with the wine. I think I liked it when I did eat it with salad, the dressing nicely offsetting the sweet taste of the Savatiano. Paired with vegetable, the wine went down easy enough so having a Greek salad with this wine is an excellent choice.

I doubt I'd get this wine again (okay maybe but just to see if I do or don't really like it, a comparison to this one) especially when I have enjoyed so many other Greek wines so much more!

UPDATE: Craig liked the wine (so it's a neutral pick). He liked the apple like taste and said it went well with turkey sandwiches.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

#45- Nero D'Avola

I tried this wine at the Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival a few weeks back and really enjoyed it. When Kristin invited me out to her place on Friday (okay so it started as a babysitting job for her but what are sisters for?), I dutifully brought out a bottle of wine and headed out to her place. The roads were absolutely terrible so I needed a glass or two by the time I got to her house!

The Nero D'Avola grape is from Italy and is known as the most important red grape in Sicily! Overall I enjoyed the wine so I guess I'll have to agree with those Sicilians! The wine is very dark, almost black in colour and right away you notice how tannic the wine is. As the wine breathed more, the better it became and less tannic on the tongue. Kristin and I were also drinking a primitivo wine as well which was a lot less powerful in taste and it really made us notice just how strong this particular wine was.

Paired with some tortellini and some homemade pasta sauce, we dived in to a Spadina Una Rosa (Signature) Nero D'Avola from 2004 (apparently 2004 has been a good year for me this year). The berry flavour in this wine is very strong but just so delicious. At one point Kris turned to me and asked just how much we had to save for Craig to try this wine. Big thumbs up from us!

The wine is very acidic- almost balsamic like. Luckily I'm a fan of balsamic vinegar so it's tanginess was a delight to my senses, not a hindrance. It's very earthy and sits so very nicely in the mouth. If you are a fan of red wines, you will like this. If you don't often drink red wines, make sure you eat something while you're drinking as it is a very powerful wine on its own. 
Overall, this was a great wine and very affordable (less than $20 at Sherbrooke Liquor Mart). Craig is playing catch up with the wine soon (he'll have about 6 to try soon so it could be a good night for him!). We're also going to do the 12 wines of Christmas (why not?) and I have found- get this- 60 more wines for us to try over the next year! I can't wait to go shopping. I'm hoping I get a good discount.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

#44- Malvasia

The makers of the wine describe her initial impression on you as- bony dry, crystalline and clear. And boy, they couldn't be more right. This is a very dry wine that leaves a "dry" impression upon you that lasts for days and days. An American wine, the Malvasia grape is used in the Birichino Malvasia Bianca wine from the Birichino Amici winery in King City, California. It is a grape originally from Greece. It's also known as Malmsey. I'd link to the website listed on the page, but it doesn't seem to work. Nice.

I didn't like this wine. The dryness of the wine was just too overwhelming for me. It had almost tasted as if the wine was dehydrated and concentrated. The alcohol taste was just a tad much. I did drink a couple of glasses to be sure but I just didn't catch on to the wine at all. I had a lot of trouble pulling any scent or taste from this wine and reading the back of the label, I now see why.

The tastes are your typical tastes or really any that I've managed to describe over the last year. Maybe if I was actually more than an amateur wine connoisseur, I'd have been able to pull out the hints of jasmine, lime blossom and elderflower (honestly, I can tell you I know what Jasmine smells like and perhaps lime blossom- wild guess- is lime but elderflower? For real? Anyone?).

I paired this wine with a lovely homemade meal of Swiss Chalet! I went with the two white meats to go along with the white wine- chicken and pork. The sauce is nice and tangy but it seemed to compete with the intense flavours of the wine.
Overall, I wasn't impressed by this wine and if I had a choice, I'd take a pass on it if it were offered to me again. Actually let me revise that, I'll try another Malvasia but I'd certainly look for a different flavouring- let's say coffee and caramel. Now that's more my style...!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

#43- Xynomavro

I've always wanted to go to Greece. It's definitely on my list of near future travels. And the Greek wine I just drank- well, I am now wanting to go more than ever!

Greece doesn't get a good reputation here for making good wine but I've had some pretty good experiences so far and this wine- the Grande Reserva Naoussa Boutari- is bloody fantastic!

But first let's back up a bit and learn about the grape shall we? The Xynomavro grape (besides being the best new word you've learned to play Scrabble with!) is founs in several areas in Greece and is often considered the "Bordeaux of Greece". I would agree. Man it's easy to digress....the name itself means acidic black / bitter. It's not an easy grape to grow so the quantities are limited.  This is a Grande Reserva so it is implied that is a of higher quality or has been aged. This wine is both (the bottle notes it's been aged 4 years). The winery is the Boutari Winery located in Naoussa.

Let me set the scene for you shall I? So I'm single, mid (ahem) thirties with no kids and living in a pretty nice condo. I haven't decorated for Christmas in a while (why, just for me? really?) but for some reason this year I decided I would put up the tree and a few decorations around the place. Perhaps I'm just in a better place, or perhaps I'm in complete denial that my life is a bit of a shambles right now (have I mentioned at all yet that I got laid off? Nor fired- laid off) yeah, happy Christmas to me!

In any case, the boxes came down from storage and I went to town! But what is decorating without a little rum and eggnog? Well, with no eggnog in the house, I decided to bring out a bottle of red. To go along with the bottle, I made myself a platter of (spicy havarti) cheese and crackers with some Mundare sausage and edamame beans in a red garlic spice. The bottle recommends spicy food.

I took my first sip. As it hit my tongue, I was underwhelmed. Ah well, you can't win them all. I swallowed. I took a step and then suddenly it hit me-- the taste was overwhelming in my mouth. It was like a lovely warmth had blown itself into my mouth. This wine was all about the lingering, the after effect, the pregnant pause after the swallow. Oh my God this is a fabulous wine. I'm not even one to really appreciate an oaky wine but this- this one is just perfect! The delectable taste of oak danced delightfully on my tongue as my lips eagerly made their way back to the wine glass for more. This wine will be gone in no time! I so can't do the description of this wine justice so you can read about it- I need to get another bottle before everyone else finds out about it.

The spicy cheese enhanced the flavour of the wine beautifully and before I knew it, the tree was decorated, the house was Christmassy, and I was full of red wine goodness. A good night wouldn't you say?

If Craig doesn't like this red wine, I will have no doubt left in my mind that he is part alien.

UPDATE: Craig has tried the wine-- and he likes it!! Damn rights. "Dry, but not too dry" he says. So now you know. This is damn good wine.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

#42- Prosecco

I'd be talking about it since my gondola ride in Italy. I'd known I'd pick a bottle up and have it ready to go for Kristin's birthday. It is the Italian's answer to France's Champagne- Prosecco! Oh how I have had such an amazing relationship with thee.

For me, Champagne is hit and miss. I did learn on one of my wine tours to the Napa Valley (and specifically the Domaine Chandon Winery), all sparkling wine is not created equal. We've all had very cheap Champagne at New Year's and it really did turn me off to the bubbly. But once you've had really good sparking wine, Champagne, whatever, then you understand what all the fuss is about.

Bubbles people. It's all about the bubbles. The smaller the better. If anything, size matters and do yourself a favour before you gulp- check out the bubbles. "Tiny Bubbles..."- sing it with me!

So, I've had Prosecco a few times now and I have LOVED every single one. I'm starting to think you can't make a bad Prosecco. I did have Prosecco on the gondola ride and mentioned it in my Italy post last month. A Prosecco is also different from other sparkling wines in that it is a dry wine, and not very sweet. It's sometimes easy to confuse a fruity taste with sweet and in this instance, you definitely could think it's sweet. But it is in fact a dry white. For Kristin's birthday, I brought out the good stuff. Martini Prosecco to be exact. It was also one of the bottles I found where the Prosecco was strictly just the grape and not a blend.

The Prosecco grape is grown exclusively in the Veneto region of Italy. So it's kind of like Champagne (it's very region specific and like Champagne has a protected designation of origin- in other words, if the bottle says Prosecco, you are guaranteed it's from the Veneto region of Italy and not some knock off wine from elsewhere).

This particular wine has hints of vanilla, peaches and apples. The vineyards around this region are surrounded by fresh fruit and it appears in the wine. It is so delicious it's one of those wines you could drink on its own or with any type of food really. The night was a celebration for Kristin so we paired up the Prosecco with her birthday cake- homemade black forest cake! Home made also means "bought at Safeway" around these parts...

The bottle of wine was picked up at the Real Canadian Superstore's west end location and was a reasonable price (I'm guessing it was around $25.00). Their selection isn't the greatest there but you get fabulous deals if you're willing to buy in multiples...sometimes I'm known to do this. I suggest you check it out especially for a party, it's a great way to save money on wine!

A quick little fact for you- processo is the main ingredient in a Bellini cocktrail. True story.

Still no idea what Craig thinks of the wine as he's yet to tell me. That boy is falling behind but I'm pretty sure he'll give this wine a thumbs up!

If any of you are looking for a Christmas wine or even more likely a great New Year's bubbly- go and get yourself a Prosecco. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

#41- Torrontes

Oh my life has been a circus as of late so it seems wholly appropriate to be drinking a wine called Circus! Without feeling sorry for myself, I'll give you the two second scoop on what I've been dealing with- I've been laid off. It's the first time I've ever been laid off (and let's be clear here, it has all to do with budgets woes and nothing to do with my performance) so I'm experiencing something new- facing the prospect of having no job in a few weeks.

But I'm not worried. My life is/stressful with the job I'm in currently and it's likely a very good thing to be switching it up! Change is good. I'm ready for it (though I just wish it could happen without a fight which I fear is in my near future...) So drinking a circus wine seems tres appropose.

It was Kristin's birthday (happy birthday sis!) and we headed out to her house for a party that her husband organized. I helped- I picked up the cake (and drank wine #42 with it...). In any case, the Circus wine drinking began at dinner. Dinner was barbaqued steak with all the fixings. Now, if you see below, you're wondering perhaps what my definition of steak is. Well, Kristin and I actually began this wine drinking the night before- a birthday weekend so to speak. Pizza was ordered (our usual- pepperoni, mushroom and green pepper and mediterranean)- a perfect dish to go with the Torrontes wine!

So I finally get to it- the wine itself. The wine is from Argentina, specifically Bordegas Escoriheula winery.
The Torrontes grape is a white grape and is extremely aromatic. They are a young wine (not bottled very long). It's hard to describe this wine other than to say it was very fresh tasting, almost refreshing to swirl it into the mouth. I tried to figure out what flavours are in this wine but as you can see, the back of the bottle tells a story (rather good) but nothing about the wine itself. Can you spot the spelling mistake? I even tried to find more information on the website but it doesn't list this wine on the site (though the Circus wines are listed and three other grape varietals are there).

The Torrontes grape is often used for high class (read that as expensive) wines that come out of Argentina. I can't remember what I paid for this wine at Sherbrooke Liquor but I'm pretty sure it was less than $20. While it was a decent wine to drink, I wasn't overly impressed. Wine Diva though however gave this wine 89 points so apparently this is a very good wine. It was an okay wine, that's all I can really give it. We'll see what Craig says. He hasn't let me know his verdict yet but as soon as he does, I'll let you know!