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Return to Saturday Night Wine Girl…

It has been a few months… years since I updated my blog.

Let me explain… So much happens in everyday life that you don’t necessarily have the time to update as often as you’d like. I would love to say I’ve been busy with something completely amazing, but that would be a lie. Life happened.

I didn’t realize exactly how many people read my blog. A lot of people in my entourage mentioned that they continued to read it, even though it had been a while since a new post had been put up. Such possitive feedback and reinforcement made me really it back and try to figure why I hadn’t taken the time to continue something that I had really enjoyed doing.

So, after much coercion from my friends and loved ones, here I am back and ready to write again.

I love writing my blog. I love sharing my non-snobby reviews of wine – a topic I really, really have a passion for. I love my readers and the fact that they are spread out all over the world.

The wine world can be such a pompous and arrogant one. I enjoy that I can cut through that and offer my readers something a little more laid-back and fun.

Wine is fun AND drinking wine is meant to be fun.

So many occasions start off by opening a bottle of wine. Be it around friends or family. From the time and dedication it takes choosing the bottle… bringing home the bottle, opening it, decanting it, pouring it into your glass and slowly being seduced by its colours. Savouring its smell and finally taking that first sip and falling in love. And then sharing stories and memories. A glass of wine is comforting and a little moment in my life where I get to be completely selfish with.

Let’s start again on this journey together. I look forward to introducing new contributors to the blog who share in my eclectic way of wine tasting. I also want to introduce my readers to new ways of wine making. There are so many techniques out there that go well and way beyond the standard aging in an oak barrel.

Cheers!

@juliawine offers convenience to even the most discerning sommelier

About three weeks ago Julia Wine announced that they would be stocking ‘upscale’ wines in convenience stores in the eastern part of the province of Quebec. For readers unfamiliar with the distribution of wine in my home province, here’s a brief overview. Wine is purchased through the alcohol commission throughout the province. Wines purchased there are imported from all around the world and their bottles’ are identified with key information such as the type of wine, the winery its’ from and its year of fabrication.

However, one can also purchase wines from their local supermarket, convenience store or Costco. The only difference is those bottles can’t be identified in terms of what kind of wine is inside the bottle, which winery it originates from or the year it was produced.

Normally these wines are ‘bottom of the barrels’ that are sold off and then combined to make the wines we find outside of the alcohol commission. As I regular wine drinker of these products, it sometimes happens that no matter how many bottles of the same wine you try, it tends to vary, but not dramatically.

Enter Julia Wine. They have a twist to this whole situation and it comes with mixed reviews. I tend to be on the pro-side.

As it so happens, I was driving up to Mont Tremblant with my husband when Julia Wines launched their campaign of fancy-ing up dépanneur wines back at the end of August. My husband was listening to a Quebecois radio show hosted by Denis Arcand. He had one of the distributors’ representatives on his show that morning.

One question that struck me as relevant was the following. Why would someone purchase a bottle of $65 wine at a convenience store without knowing exactly what it was? But they have a found a way to accommodate the client, through their website. With a quick click you have the power to determine what you’re paying for. Even cleverer, most bottles have a box on them that can be scanned with your cellphone with a simple download of an application. Once clicked, it will take you directly to the bottle’s information card.

A sidenote. Most acclaimed wineries around the world only produce a controlled amount of their batches of wine. Classic supply and demand. By limiting what they put out, there’s a constant demand and higher pricing. Julia Wine buys off the excess wine that these wine makers have. Thus the quality of the wine is far superior.

I can only see what Julia Wine has done as a positive action for everyone. They have made quality wine affordable and easily available. This can and will benefit the wine community.

Cheers!

Les Jamelles Pinot Noir (SAQ $14.35)

I was introduced to Les Jamelles’ Pinot Noir a few years back by one of my good friends. During a night out for supper at a local bring-your-own-wine (BYOW) joint we stopped by the local alcohol commission to pick up some wine. I’m pretty much up for anything (except Chardonnay) so I let her pick. She mentioned she had a lot of trouble finding this particular wine. After talking to a store associate we managed to get our hands on two bottles – to my friend’s great delight.

I have to say the wine paired very well with our meal at the Italian restaurant we had chosen.

Les Jamelles, as I discovered writing this review, has been bottling wines from the South of France (Languedoc-Roussillon) since 1991. I’ve sampled their Sauvignon Blanc regularly and enjoy it a lot. I find their collection brings together quality French wines at an affordable price. It’s no different with their Pinot Noir.

Les Jamelles' Charming Pinot Noir

Les Jamelles’ Charming Pinot Noir

There’s nothing more seductive to me than a sexy tinted red wine. It’s the perfect ruby colour, a balance between a deep, dark red – bordering a bright red. I really don’t enjoy reds that reds bordering transparent. Having this delightfully coloured liquid swish around it my glass makes me want to taste it immediately, but I don’t. I let the aromas make their way to my nose, slowly discovering what this wine has in store for me. It has a subtle fruity aroma mixed alongside a slightly floral scent. I can finally take a sip of this ruby gem. There is no mistaking this wine is charming. A mix of berries and oak gives this wine the total package. I don’t like my wines aggressive, but there seems to be a balance with Les Jamelles Pinot Noir, it packs a punch but doesn’t knock you out.

It’s definitely a wine that should be savoured to be properly enjoyed. Take your time to get acquainted with what I’m certain will surely become one of your new favourite reds.

Cheers!

@TwoOceansWine Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (SAQ $12.65)

*** A Saturday Night Girl’s FAVORITE ***

Sorry readers… I’ve slacking off in the review section of this blog lately. Well, after a lengthy absence here we go…

I’ve been having one those lacklustre kinds of weeks. I needed something out-of-the-ordinary… something new. Obviously I went to my local Alcohol Commission and tried my hand at wine roulette.

I wanted a white. I hadn’t had any Sauvignon Blanc in a REALLY long time. That helped narrow things down quite well. Then it was trying to pick something not too costly, but that was going to pack a flavour/scent punch.

That’s when my eyes fell upon the Two Oceans bottle. This is a South African winery that I’ve had good results with in the past, but in terms of their reds. I picked up their 2012 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

I enjoy a white wine that is really chilled – ice cold, like my heart. Since I also have zero patience, I put the bottle in the freezer for an hour checking intermittently the temperature.

A light and pleasant surprise

A light and pleasant surprise

I was pleasantly surprised. The colour was pleasant, transparent with a subtle yellow to it. I swirled it around my glass and almost immediately it released a light, pleasant fruity aroma, nothing that would overpower. It was a preview to my tasting. I believe Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc was to be a light pleasant and fruity surprise. I wasn’t wrong. Its taste was refreshing, the fruits a delicate and welcomed change to what I’ve been used to tasting lately, which has mostly been Australian, Argentinean and Chilean wines.

I can see how it could be paired quite well with poultry, pork and fish. Its taste and aroma are subtle and refreshing.

It’s renewed my love for Sauvignon Blanc. I look forward to trying Two Oceans’ Sauvignon Blanc again the near future and pairing it with a great dinner. I’ll be able to discover its hidden secrets all over again with food.

I’ve also discovered they bottle a Pinot Grigio – looking forward to tasting that one in the near future.

In terms of price vs. value, I would recommend trying the wine. It’s a great choice for someone who doesn’t like a busy or even aggressive wine.

Cheers!

My Love/Hate/Hate Relationship with Chardonnay

I’m pretty much open to tasting all sorts of wines. I like to keep an open wine (ha! ha!). Of course as with everything in life, you’re going to have your favorites and your least liked.

Chardonnay falls into that last category for me. For some reason, over the years I’ve just associated Chardonnay with middle-aged to very much older women – no offence ladies. It’s stale to me. When I see a bottle, I try to avoid it – move onto the next aisle, next topic of conversation. I also find that there is a predominent olive-y taste to most Chardonnay’s and they just don’t keep well after opened – no matter the price point. BUT – that’s just me.

I tend to go back and forth between whites and reds during various periods in my life. I really enjoyed red wine, but then I discovered I suffered from migraines and combining red wine with other factors caused me to get brutal and crippling headaches. I started leaning towards whites.

I was still a relatively young and a new wine taster – back when I was 25. With a very minimal wine repertoire, I started drinking the hell out of Chardonnay. I couldn’t get enough of it. Different vintages, prices points, countries, wineries, etc… I was synched onto the Chardonnay channel all. the. time. I thought I was clever, sophisticated and a social marvel for my diverse Chardonnay drinking. Yikes. You know, I was young. As with most things when you’re young, I grew tired and bored with Chardonnay – so we broke up.

That my friends is the moment I discovered what the white wine community had to offer me. I mean my eyes were really open. I was able to try, taste and really appreciate all the other white wines out there. I discovered that I enjoyed Rieslings, Pinot Grigios, Sauvignon Blanc – OMG I love Sauvignon blanc.

I guess this goes to show, that as with everything is life, you can stick to just one wine because you will be disapointed. You hav to branch out and try different wines and discover what they have to offer.

By doing this you will be your discovering your palate. What jumps out at you in terms of colours, aromas and taste – will be defined due to your broad exoeriene with tasting different wines. You’ll find it easier to taste different aspects of each wine – to pair the wine with your meals.

I in no way desire Chardonnay. I get a twinge in my stomach when someone brings me a bottle as a hostess gift. Seriously Chardonnay, it wasn’t you – it was me.

Cheers!

Saturday Wine Night – Let’s Get Technical

Getting down to the nitty-gritty – time to start tasting these bad boys.

Tasting Flight is probably what you are going to partake in – normally a tasting of three to eight wines, but the hardcore Sommelier types it can go up to 50 different types of wine!

A Vertical Tasting will reference sampling of a variety of vintages of the same wine distributed by the same winery –> this let’s you discover the differences between these vintages.  

Whereas a Horizontal Tasting will be wines from the same vintage but disributed by different wineries –> this will help you distinguish the differences between winery styles.

Serving temperatures will affect the wine. Lower temps will bring out acidity and tannings while keeping the aroma low-key. Whreas a higher temp will deminish acidity and tannings and increase aroma. Helpful table from Wikipedia

Wine type Examples Temperature (Celsius) Temperature (Fahrenheit)
Light bodied sweet dessert wines Trockenbeerenauslese, Sauternes 6–10°C 43–50°F
White sparkling wines Champagne 6–10°C 43–50°F
Aromatic, light bodied white Riesling, Sauvignon blanc 8–12°C 46–54°F
Red sparkling wines Sparkling Shiraz, some frizzante Lambrusco 10–12°C 50–54°F
Medium bodied whites Chablis, Semillon 10–12°C 50–54°F
Full bodied dessert wines Oloroso Sherry, Madeira 8–12°C 46–54°F
Light bodied red wines Beaujolais, Provence rosé 10–12°C 50–54°F
Full bodied white wines Oaked Chardonnay, Rhone whites 12–16°C 54–61°F
Medium bodied red wines Grand Cru Burgundy, Sangiovese 14–17°C 57–63°F
Full bodied red wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo based wines 15–18°C 59–64°F

The right glassware will help you maximize what the wine your tasting has to tell you. Normally it’s recommended to have a glass with a wider bottom and narrow top –> think of the shape of a tulip or a egg.

Wines should be blind tasted (as mentioned in the Saturday Wine Prep page)

The Five Ss

See: First observing the wine in its glass. Angle the glass over a white surface – is the colour dark or light? Are there different hues to it?

Swirl: In a circular motion swirl the wine in your glass. Are there tannins? Is the wine thick? Does it drip down the inside of the glass?

Sniff: Close your eyes… stick your nose in the glass, inhale deeply. What do you smell? Oak? Sweetness? Vanilla? Fruits? Citrus?

Sip: (the good part) Close your eyes, take a sip, swirl in your mouth – what do you taste? The oak, the grapes? Is it smooth? Does it burn?

Savour: Take a another sip – are the same aromas and flavours prelevant? Are there more?

At which point each of your guests will be able to determine their owns views on the complexity or character; the potential (is better to age or to drink); and its possible anomalies. Or for the rest of us…. your preception of the flavours, of the wine’s aromas and its different characteristics.

Here are some helpful tables & graphs from Wikipedia:

Red grape variety Common sensory descriptors
Cabernet Franc tobacco, green bell pepper, raspberry, freshly mown grass
Cabernet Sauvignon blackcurrants, eucalyptus, chocolate, tobacco
Gamay pomegranate, strawberry,
Grenache smoky, pepper, raspberry
Malbec violet, plums, tart red fruit, earthy minerality
Merlot black cherry, plums, tomato
Mourvèdre thyme, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, violet, blackberry
Nebbiolo leather, tar, stewed prunes, chocolate, liquorice, roses
Norton red fruit, elderberries
Petite Sirah (Durif) earthy, black pepper, dark fruits
Petit Verdot violets (later), pencil shavings
Pinot Noir raspberry, cherry, violets, “farmyard” (with age), truffles
Pinotage bramble fruits
Sangiovese herbs, black cherry, leathery, earthy
Syrah (Shiraz) tobacco, black/white pepper, blackberry, smoke
Tempranillo vanilla, strawberry, tobacco
Teroldego spices, chocolate, red fruits
Zinfandel black cherry, pepper, mixed spices, mint
White grape variety Common sensory descriptors
Albariño lemon, minerals
Breidecker apple, pear
Chardonnay butter, melon, apple, pineapple, vanilla (if oaked, e.g. vinified or aged in new oak aging barrels)
Chenin Blanc wet wool, beeswax, honey, apple, almond
Gewürztraminer rose petals, lychee, spice
Grüner Veltliner green apple, citrus
Marsanne almond, honeysuckle, marzipan
Melon de Bourgogne lime, salt, green apple
Muscato honey, grapes, lime
Palomino honeydew, citrus, raw nuts
Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio) white peach, pear, apricot
Prosecco apple, honey, musk, citrus
Riesling citrus fruits, peach, honey, petrol
Sauvignon Blanc gooseberry, lime, asparagus, cut grass, bell pepper (capsicum), grapefruit, passionfruit, cat pee (tasters’ term for guava)
Sémillon honey, orange, lime
Trebbiano (Ugni Blanc) lime, herbs
Verdicchio apple, minerals, citrus
Vermentino pear, cream, green fruits
Viognier peach, pear, nutmeg, apricot

The Aroma Wheel

A section of the Aroma Wheel invented by Ann C. Noble detailing the fruity aromas that are most commonly encountered in table wines. Used with permission from Ann Noble.

The Aroma Wheel provides a visual graphic of the different categories and aroma components that one can encounter in wine. The terminology used is standardized for use by both professionals and amateur wine tasters. The aroma wheel does not contain terms to describe texture or mouthfeel, however these are listed in the Australian “Mouthfeel Wheel”. A separate Aroma Wheel has also been created for sparkling wine. The wheel breaks down wine aromas into 12 basic categories and then further sub-divided into different aromas that can fall into those main categories.[1]