The Grape Count

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

Grapes tried: 104
Grapes to go:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

#81- Arneis

Old Fort Point in Jasper National Park. That is where we got to drink this bottle of wine. It was Owen's first big hiking trip with Craig and I and we decided to do a short but steep hike with breathtaking views of Jasper and Mount Edith Cavell amongst other beautiful views of the rocky mountains.

He only stopped about 100 times but we did make it to the top of Old Fort Point. What a nice little trek. We got to the top and we immediately set out our picnic lunch. The wine was chilled from our cold morning and Owen was all prepared to yet again pour our wine for us.

The wine is from Italy (as it is the Italian wine weekend) and is from Cascina Bongiovanni Winery. I really do need to learn more Italian so I can tell you exactly where this wine is, which upon a little reading- the region is Langhe (Piedmont). The website is only in Italian. The grape is the Arneis grape (and the bottle is called Langhe Arneis). The name Arneis means little rascal.

It's not the easiest grape to grow hence the name. It is also floral and fruity and is a very crisp wine (I'd have to agree with this description). It's a dry wine and the fruit notes are often pear and apricot.

According to some sites, this wine should have been drunk in 2008 or 2009 but I'm guessing it's tough to get this wine into Canada period. Maybe we got the cast offs. When I learn more about vintages, I'll be able to determine if this is a bad year for the Arneis grape.

In any case, I still liked this wine. I loved the richness of this wine. It was a bit smoky but quite aromatic and fruity. It was easy enough for us to enjoy as we sat atop the hill (you can see from our pics what we were looking at) and we whipped out our sandwiches (yes, white bread and lots of meat!). We also had a couple of pieces of fruit, some cheese and mixed nuts.

It's a great wine, regardless of what they say and when they say to drink it. I'd definitely buy it again, hiking or not. Craig agreed that it was a good wine as well so two thumbs up from us.

Owen's a funny man and was constantly making goofy faces so we tried to get him to do his best "mean face" impression. This is what we came up with.

But never one to fake it, he went right back to being good old lovely and loving Owen as we made our way down the hill. That's him and Uncle Craig ahead of me on the trail. Enough said.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Recapping Grapes 61 - 80

I am officially 20 grapes away from 100 grapes. It's unbelievable! It's time to review grapes 61 through 80 and it goes back as far as March as I was away for quite a while there so it's good for me to recap for my own review as well.  I give you the grape varietal, whether it's red or white, the name of the winery, the country and of course my rating (a very simple one- like, dislike or neutral).

Like: 15
Dislike: 2
Neutral: 3

White: 10

Countries: France, Portugal, Italy, Canada, United States, Slovenia, Germany, Greece, Spain, Austria

61. Pinot Blanc (White) LIKE
Alsace Willm, France

62. Baga (Red) LIKE
Luis Pato, Portugal

63. Greco (White) LIKE
Feudi di San Gregorio, Italy

64. Baco Noir (Red) LIKE
Henry of Pelham, Canada

65. Montepulciano (Red) LIKE
Cantoni Talamonti, Italy

66. Concord (Red) DISLIKE
Manischewitz, United States

67. Tocai Fruilano (White) NEUTRAL
Movia Winery, Slovenia

68. Cabernet Franc (Red) LIKE
Tinhorn Creek, Canada

69. Fer (Red) LIKE
Domaine de Brau, France

70. Inzolia (White) NEUTRAL
Abbazola Danta Anastasia, Italy

71. SIlvaner (White) NEUTRAL
Dopff & Irion, France

72. Dornfelder (Red) LIKE
Dr. Zen Zen, Germany

73. Melon de Bourgogne (White) LIKE
Chateau du Coiung de St. Fiacre, France

74. Roditis (White) DISLIKE
Phtinthe Winery, Greece

75. Mencia (Red) LIKE
Peique Bierzo Tinto, Spain

76. Vilana (White) LIKE
Kreitikos Winery, Greece

77. Aglianico (Red) LIKE
Villa Matilde, Greece

78. Muscat Ottonel (White) LIKE
House of Hafner, Austria

79. Falanghina (White) LIKE
Villa Matilde, Greece

80. Dolcetto (Red) LIKE
Poderi di Luigi Einaudi, Italy

Thursday, September 15, 2011

#80- Dolcetto

It was the only red wine of the whole camping weekend. And it didn't disappoint! After a full day of hiking and hitting up Old Fort Point (next post), we were ready to enjoy a quiet evening at the campsite. It was a beautiful evening in Jasper with daytime temperatures in the mid twenties so the evening temperature was just perfect.

We'd hoped that we had burned enough of Owen's energy off during the day and doing the climb but no such luck. While Craig got the fire going (so I could make us dinner), I had to entertain the kid.

I threw a ball in the air. I played bocce ball. I wrestled with him. I played I spy. I played jump over the wood logs. I played hide and get the idea. I'm not sure how people do this "parenting"  thing full time. It was time to drink.

The menu that evening included fresh potatoes (from my sister's garden), some side salad and good old AAA Alberta beef steak. They'd thawed during the day so they were spiced up a bit and once the potatoes were done, the steaks were put on and grilled to perfection.

The wine is a Dolcetto, very obviously an Italian wine. The wine is a midweight wine and not very acidic. It is often drunk very young. This was an absolutely delicious wine and both Craig and I gave this wine a two thumbs up. I thought it was a great compliment to the juicy and flavourful steak- didn't take away any of the smoky flavours of the food that had infused itself into our grilled dinner.

The dolcetto grape is grown in the Piedmont region of Italy and is known as "little sweet one" which it was. Coming off a month of drinking ports, sherries and dessert wines, it's all relative so I wouldn't call this necessarily a very sweet wine. It is actually a dry wine- this world is sometimes full of mystery and confusion.

In this wine I could definitely taste licorice and cherries and would classify this as a very balanced wine.

The winery is the Poderi di Luigi Einaudi and based on the beautiful pictures on its website, I would very much like to go there. It's exactly how I picture a vineyard to be- beautiful and romantic and mysterious. Oh, who wants to buy me a ticket? If you can read Italian, you can read more about the wine.

I still have some of the wine left so the debate tomorrow while I do some of my classroom work (yes,I'm taking a wine class- maybe one day I'll actually be able to write something intelligent about wine) and drink the bottle or leave some for Kristin and mom to taste on Sunday. Choices....

Monday, September 12, 2011

#79- Falanghina

The next five wines are all from a long weekend camping trip taken last week (the order might be slightly skewed so don't judge if the pics appear out of order).

My brother and I both had 4 days off so we decided to take our five year old nephew Owen camping. It happened to be his 5th birthday on the day we left so the whole trip was a sort of birthday weekend for him. We decided to take him to Jasper and do some hiking.

We couldn't have picked a better weekend. Other than the slightly cold and damp weather to start, the weekend was beautiful and hot from start to finish. Craig was responsible for the food, I was responsible for the wine. I brought six bottles with me (one was the Mencia wine that Craig had yet to try and I went out of my way to and buy another bottle only for us to never crack it the entire weekend. Le sigh.).

Craig did a decent job of getting food though typical of the male species-- white bread, white buns and lots of meat. No mill, no eggs and no fruits or vegetables! Ha! Thank goodness I emptied the fridge of my fruits and vegetables before I left!

We set up camp in the Whistlers campground just after 2pm. It didn't take long for us to set up camp and Owen helped as much as he could. We decided to crack open the bottle of wine while we set up and had a snack. I don't recommend this pairing often but when you're camping, you have to sometimes have a "laissez faire" attitude.

Because it was Owen's birthday, he got to choose the snacks and the dinner. For dinner, we had salad and hot dogs (I upgraded and went with a sausage on a bun). I'm not a fan of hot dogs or sausage but hey- it's not my birthday and I'm a team player.
For the snack, it was Joe Louis all the way! I hadn't had one of these in years so I was happy to indulge. It was just the perfect pick me up for us to put up kitchen tents, unload food and build fire.

Owen has been taking it upon himself lately to pour the wine at any and all gatherings he is it. He even knows to twist the bottle to not waste a drop. He still insists on pouring the wine right to the rim so you get to do the good old bring your lips to the stationary wine glass trick before much else. But he does a good job and he is quick to refill when he sees your wine glass is getting low.

So to the wine. The verdict is unanimous- both Craig and I really liked this wine. Like, really really liked it. So much so there wasn't a drop left to be shared with anyone back home. He and I polished the bottle off pretty quick.

The wine is from Villa Matilde in Italy (the second time I've reviewed one of their wines and the first time I've had a repeat winery). The first thing Craig noted about this wine was the very strong smell of peaches and he was right- it is very strong but extremely pleasant to drink. I couldn't taste much else but the description of the wine sounds wonderful (hints of almonds, grapefruits, sage)- yummy. Trust me, this is a great wine to drink.

It is a middleweight wine, very yellow in colour and more acidic than not. If you like a Pinot Blanc, you should like the Falanghina. I can't wait to try another one that's for sure. The Falanghina wine also goes very well with seafood (it's grown in the Campania region of Italy, around Naples).

And as far as I can remember, it went just perfectly with hot dogs!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

#78- Muscat Ottonel

Hello dessert wine! I had this wine just after our August wine club meeting which just happened to be ports and sherries so I was pretty familiar with tasting sweet wines.

This is a good wine. In fact, I'll probably have some more tonight with my fruit (yes, the same batch of fruit you see in the picture, I froze them so I didn't have fruit overload a while back- goes great with yogurt!)

The Muscat Ottonel grape is a white grape from Germany (though the bottle we're trying is from Austria) In France, it's known as Muscat D'Alsace. It is primarily used in dessert wines but can also be used in dry wines and some blends coming out of the Eastern European region.

The winery is House of Hafner in Austria (that's with an "a", not an "e"). Visit their site and immediately you know this is one proud Austrian company- Mozart blasts at you from their site (luckily they have an off button, I love Mozart but not when I'm visiting websites thank you very much-but you have to hit the off button every time you visit a different page-- Hafner take note how freaking annoying this is!!)

What's also interesting to note about the wine is that it's Kosher (and can I say way better than the crappy Concord Kosher wine we had a while ago....)

As I mentioned before, the Muscat Ottonel wine is a dessert wine and it pairs very nicely with many things. It's been a beautiful last few weeks here in Edmonton and I take advantage of the seasonal fruit we have available here so I paired it with blueberries, pineapple, raspberries and strawberries. Okay, one of these fruits is not grown here and I'll give you one guess only...

It's a very delicate wine on your mouth, quite acidic but very sweet. It's not as sweet as a port or sherry so you can in fact drink a glass of the wine with your dessert rather than limiting yourself to just an ounce or two.

It comes in a fancy royal blue bottle, likely to make the bright yellow label stand out.

Perusing their site, I have discovered that there are a few grape varieties I have yet to try that are grown in this region so I'll be extra careful checking out the Austrian section of the wine story to see what I can find!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

#77- Aglianico

Another Greek wine. Another great win for a country I can not wait to visit. If you remember my earlier posts, you'll note that the Greek wines were not off to a great start but they have made up for it lately. Except it's not Greek really- it originated in Greece but is actually an Italian wine. Maybe that's why this wine is a win! Ah, who I am kidding, I have no idea...but we'll give them all credit- yay Italy and Greece!

I picked up a bunch of wine at Aristocrat Liquor in Edmonton and again, was pleasantly surprised by their selection (I'll be popping in there from time to time to check out their selection).

Aglianico is a red wine and is pretty heavy and acidic.I haven't really had much like it, the closest being a Zinfandel (same but different). it is very intense and has a lot of impact in the mouth. It's very dark, almost black in colour. The winery is the Villa Matilde in the Campania region of Italy. Their wine is very fruity and you can really taste the blackberries. While it is quite heavy, it has that velvety smooth feel to it. It's an immediate impact on your mouth and if you enjoy red wines, this wine will be a delight to drink.

I paired the wine with a red meat- hamburger meat of all things. I tend to mix up my countries together because I'm just not that organized but it seems to work out. That night I made a plate of soft tacos with a great salsa and lots of vegetables. I found it to be a great combination and I would actually pair this up again. Sometimes playing outside the rules is the best way to find a good pairing. So yes, try it with tacos or spicy food.

I very much recommend this wine and again, still waiting from Craig to hear about this wine (I have a feeling he'll like it though....I'm starting to figure out his tastes).

I'd like to try more Aglianico wines and see if it was just a fluke (hint, I don't think so as I review another of this winey's white wines....and I liked it...stay tuned) or if the Aglianico is one heck of a grape.

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

#76- Vilana

Less than 25 grapes to go now and I can apply to the Wine Century Club!

Craig was actually at home for this wine so I have finally caught him for one of the pictures! The grape this week is the Vilana grape and I seem to be on a roll picking out white grapes that are very similar to each other so the last few, I feel like I'm drinking the same wine over and over again. And with a quick glance at the varietal table, I can see there are a couple more white grapes that I've picked up that aren't all that different from this one either. Not that I can do much- I simply go with the wines that I can find at the time.

The wine is from KreitikosWinery of Greece, more specifically Crete. What's interesting to note is on the website it says that it is 70% Vilana grapes and 30% other. But on the bottle it says nothing of the sort- says it's all Vilana. No matter- it is what it is.

For a Greek wine, it was pretty good. We finished it off no problem. No pine taste here (thank God).The wine had a very fresh taste and went very well with our meal of pork loin (perfectly barbequed) with seasonal vegetables. One day I should really try lamb with a Greek wine but I really am not a fan of the meat. Maybe someone can offer me a good lamb recipe and that may help.

Overall this was a great fruity wine, quite fragrant and easy on the palette. It is very yellow (as has the last few been, which makes sense seeing as they're so close to each other). It bears a citrus flavour with a hint of pineapple.

The Vilana grape is found in Greece, primarily in Crete. It is not an easy wine to cultivate and not an easy wine to find apparently outside of Greece. Take advantage then that this wine is available here and knock another grape variety off your list.

As you know it's getting harder and harder for me to find 100% grape variety wines. To keep going and actually try some of these grapes, I'll have to resort to blends. My plan is to try to find blends where the majority is the grape varietal I'm reviewing but that may be impossible too down the line. I'm really hoping I can exhaust my list and finish 2 full years of 100% grape varieties before going for the blends. I'm not sure if my task will become easier or harder for me but I will not attempt to do so until I really feel like I have no other choice but to go to the blends.