Good-bye to Beaujolais Icon Georges Duboeuf

This week, the wine industry lost one of it’s tireless trailblazers. Georges Duboeuf, aged 86, died. With Georges’ passing, the entire wine world paused in silent reflection.

Perhaps you’ve tried a bottle of Duboeuf Beaujolais wine?

Beaujolais is a red wine that smells and tastes of bright raspberry and cherry fruits. These wines are never drying or bitter and most are made for immediate consumption and pleasure. That is, the vast majority of them do not require cellaring and are just scrumptiously delicious on release. Glug, glug!

In fact one style of Beaujolais, Beaujolais Nouveau, is the earliest legally released wine in France. On the third Thursday in November, at 12:01 am, the first Beaujolais Nouveau is released to the public, during a massive party, torchlight parades and fireworks. And this party lasts an entire week!

Georges Duboeuf, is known as the largest marketer extraordinaire of Beaujolais’ success.

In a region that has been shrinking steadily over the last 2 decades, the Duboeuf family has kept many vignerons in business. The Duboeuf domain only owns one Beaujolais estate: Château des Capitan’s in the Cru of Julienas. But they purchase 20% of all grapes in the region for their Duboeuf family brand to make 2.5 million cases annually.

What is Beaujolais Nouveau?

These wines are released when they are maybe 1-2 months old. They are made with a winemaking technique known as carbonic maceration which brightens both the color of the wine to give it a fuchsia rim as well as a pronounced candied cherry fruit aroma and flavor.

 GEORGES DUBOEUF BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU 2019

Beaujolais Nouveau should be chilled before drinking. Serving temperature for this light bodied red wine is best at a cool 10 º Celsius. Most sources say you should chill the wine to bring out the fruit flavors. What this really means is that chilling the wine tapers the sour tartness of these super young wines.

Drink immediately and do not cellar. Glug, glug!

Here’s a breakdown of Beaujolais appellations terms of quality from lowest to highest.

  1. Beaujolais AOC

Basic Beaujolais wines are made from grapes grown on the flatter sites and may go through carbonic maceration (see above) or at least a semi-carbonic giving it that fuchsia rim and lifted bright red fruit aroma and flavor. The main difference between this and the Nouveau category is that they are generally a little more concentrated and released after some time spent in the winery that results in softer mouthwatering acidity.

Serve at 12 degrees Celsius in a Burgundy wine glass. Hold for 1 year only and do not cellar.

 

      2. Beaujolais Villages – Beaujolais Villages wines are made from grapes that are grown on hillside sites that give better drainage and result in a slightly richer style of wine.

Serve at 12 degrees Celsius in a Burgundy wine glass. Drink within 2 years

     3. Beaujolais Cru – there are 10 ‘Cru’ villages in Beaujolais. A Cru village occupies the best sites for growing Gamey, the grape in Beaujolais wine. The grapes are planted in the best granite soils and on hillside slopes with the best aspects. Crus are the closest thing to a Grand Cru you can get from Beaujolais.

Old vines in Morgon - one of 10 Beaujolais Crus
Old vines in Morgon – one of 10 Beaujolais Crus

 

 

 

For taste, these wines are even riper and more concentrated. They move away from the black raspberry and tart cherry of the villages and nouveau bottling’s and instead offer more black cherry and plum fruit along with slight tannins (that fuzzy drying feeling on your gums). Some of these have a hint of cinnamon spice from oak barrels.

Duboeuf produces many Cru wines from grapes they purchase. But they only grow grapes on their own estate for just one wine, the Château des Capitan’s Julienas. This is considered the top wine from Duboeuf. It’s only $25 at British Columbia Liquor Stores.

Drink most Cru bottling’s within 3 years. However, wines that are vilified traditionally (without carbonic maceration) may be cellared for up to 10 years. Serve at 15º Celsius.

When you enjoy Beaujolais, give a nod to Georges Duboeuf for sharing them with the world.

 

 

Choosing a Great Sparkling wine with the right glasses for your 2020 New Year’s Eve Party!

woman toasts with Champagne

SommWine's

Guide

to Choosing Sparkling Wine with the right Glasses for a New Year's Party

You’re hosting a New Year’s Eve party. What bubbles should you buy and which wine glasses should you use?

Here are three of the most popular sparkling wine styles broken down into what they taste like, what budget you will spend, and a couple of suggestions for awe-inspiring wines within the category to impress your friends!

 

SommWine

Styles

Prosecco

Flavour Profile: lightly fruity showing honeydew melon and white flowers.

Budget: inexpensive basic Prosecco from small family producers such as Vaporetto’s Prosecco Brut No. 8 or spend a few more dollars to buy wine from the hillside appellation of Valdobiaddene such as Valdo’s Valdobiaddene Superiore Marca Oro Prosecco Brut.

For the wine savvy: These more expensive Proseccos come from the esteemed ‘Grand Cru’ of Conegliano Valdobbiadene in particular, the Cartizze hillside.  These wines show less fruitiness and exude a distinctive volcanic minerality. Try the Nina Franco Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Cartizze DOCG.

Cava

Flavour Profile: lemon peel, overripe apple, biscuit and matchsticks

Budget: start at the inexpensive basic and delicious Cava from Jaume Serra to more depthy and still reasonably priced Riserva Sigura Viudas.

For the wine savvy: Spend a little more for the Brut Heredad Riserva bottling of Sigura Viudas which is plated with silver. The wine is not my style but the bottle will indeed impress your friends and is aged 36 months on lees. For a much richer and cleaner bubbles with apple, toast, brioche and earthy yumminess try the Torelló Gran Torelló ‘Vinyes de Can Marti’ vineyard. This is one of only 12 wines that made the new ‘Grand Cru’ list in the recently formed ‘Cava de Paraje Calificado’

Champagne

Flavour Profile: tart lemon juice and lemon curd with brioche, light toast and matchsticks

Budget: Premium bottlings only. Lesser known Champagnes from Ployez Jacquemart will save you a few dollars. But the Grand Marques houses of Möet Chandon and Louis Roederer, for example, will cost a little more. The Grand Marques Champagne houses are the generally the most well-known among consumers and will be labelled as ‘Coopérative Manipulant’ on the back.

For the wine savvy: Impress your friends with a lesser-known grower-producer such as Pierre Paillard or Gimmonet et Fils. You can recognize these bottles as they will say RM or Récoltant Manipulant’ on the back label. Otherwise, pick up a ‘Prestige Cuvee’ or top bottling of a Champagne house (Dom Pérignon, Cristal, Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill etc). Ask at your favourite wine shop for their selection.

If you would like more sparkling wine suggestions, you can check out our post here.

SommWine

Glassware

The flute

 

The flute is a narrow glass designed to keep your bubbles active for the longest. This is the most popular choice for serving sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve.

Pros: A flute’s form is tall, lean and simple. It maintains the bubbles in your wine the longest. This is a recognizable and elegant crystal glass.

Cons: This style is not great for wine aromatics. The glass has too little exposure to oxygen for releasing wine aromas. You also can’t swirl this glass to help release the aromas. Ask yourself this, ‘It’s New Year’s Eve, do I care?’

 

The vintage flute

 

Vintage flutes are a crystal glasses that are quite tapered at the top and are fashioned exclusively for vintage sparkling wine and Champagne. Vintage sparkling wine are wines where all the grapes for the wine are picked in one year. They are made in limited quantities. The vintage (year) will be listed on the front label of the wine. These wines are generally aged for longer before release and meant to be kept even longer in your cellar.

Because they are aged, they show more créme brûlée, lemon custard and toast characteristics and are really meant to be sniffed slowly and reflected on.

Pros: This glass makes you look cool. It’s slim enough to maintain the bubbles in your wine and the slightly wider top should allow you to smell some of the developed aromatics of an aged wine.

Cons: However, it’s not THAT great for wine aromatics in reality. Vintage Champgane flutes still have too little exposure to oxygen for releasing wine aromas and you still can’t swirl the wine.

 

The white wine glass

 

It’s now de riguer to serve sparkling wine in a white wine glass. Make sure the glass slightly tapers at the top.

Pros: A wider glass exposes a larger wine surface to oxygen for optimal aromatics. Wine savvy people will adore you for this.

Cons: The bubbles won’t last as long in this glass so pour only a little at a time. Most people will think you just don’t have any ‘proper’ slim Champagne glasses, so make sure you let them know why you are serving their bubbles this way!

 

The coupe

 
These are the Champagne glasses my mother has in the China cabinet and generally from the baby-boomer era. Interestingly, they are designed from a mold of Marie Antoinette’s breast and the style originally comes from the 18th century!
 
Pros: None. These are now being used for classic cocktails where they belong. Only bring these out on New Year’s Eve if you want to laugh at people spilling their wine (not recommended).
 

Cons: The bubbles won’t last as long. Because you can’t swirl (or walk, or move) without spilling the contents, these glasses are only good for sitting at a bar. Despite the wide surface area exposure, they are not great for enjoying the aromatics of the wine.

 

Happy New Year!

And if you like what you see, go on and share it!

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* There was no payment for the writing of this post. However, Wines of Argentina did graciously host me for a trip to Argentina in 2016.That’s where I gained a new appreciation for Malbec and all its many faces 🙂

Wine: History, Health and Truths [is wine an aphrodisiac?]

Health
Health cc www.gotcredit.com

We hear it all the time; wine is good for our health! But is it, really?

Let’s remember that wine is a product for sale and marketing directives are there to encourage us to increase consumption and profits. Providing good reason to distrust some news sources. Let’s also not forget that alcohol abuse is often seen as the culprit behind the breakdown of families and society as a whole. Neither side of this debate is new.

And my, how perceptions change!

Let’s begin by sharing a brief history of the attitudes of society towards alcohol over time.



Attitudes to alcohol in the Medieval and Renaissance periods


In medieval times, wine is seen as an important contribution to health. What’s the proof? Monks live longer lives than the rest of the populace all because of the benefits of moderate and regular wine consumption! Even distilled spirits are named ‘Aqua Vitae’ or ‘water of life’ and praised for their medicinal value.

Later, in the 1600’s, wine is spread throughout the world as it becomes a vital part of the transatlantic trade. Samuel Pepys writes of using caudle in his famous diaries, a mixture of gruel with wine or ale, as an effective treatment against sea sickness.

Then, attitudes shift.



The time of the revolutions: Industrial, French, and American


In the UK, gin develops an association with higher crime rates and the working classes. Public drunkenness is at an all time high and the Gin Act raises excise taxes on the product but is soon repealed. Despite these efforts, gin sales continue to grow.


Gin bad; wine good…
An 18th century leaflet,
Peter Shaw’s treatise The juice of the grape- or wine preferable to water (1724) cc

Gin’s image suffers immensely in the 1700’s because it is considered the cheap alternative to the more prestigious elixir of wine. Wine must be imported from foreign countries. Gin can be made anywhere at low cost.

Not that there was a shortage of inexpensive plonk in the world. The working classes in England just couldn’t afford it as 18th century lawmakers slapped expensive customs and embargoes on poor quality wine.

Wine therefore, captures an association with the upper classes. Poets strengthen this connection between wine, aristocracy and polite society in their writings.



Wine spreads to most households


By the 18th century, wine is now a kitchen necessity and many recipes in England make food in ‘the French way’ by adding wine. Caudle, (mentioned above) is now a common household remedy; the wine being the remediating ingredient for many sicknesses. Wine reaches the middle classes.

But what were attitudes to wine in the rest of Europe?

In the wine producing nations of France, Spain and Italy, wine  is not separated along class lines in the same way as it is for Brits. Wine is drunk by everyone and seen simply as an extension of food. In fact, even today most Italians do not distinguish between wine and food. To Italians, both food and wine offer the same benefits; providing necessary nutrition in their diets.

Sketching of London Slums during the Industrial Revolution
London Slums; Gustave Dore(1872) cc Wellcome Images

It’s ok to be drunk if…

Society views drunkenness as fine if you live on a farm and don’t have to report to anyone else for work. But this is the Industrial Revolution. More and more people are moving to cities and factory owners want sober, reliable workers. Protestants especially view binge drinking as anti-capitalist and inefficient. Even moderate consumption is a sin. Women’s movements grow and recognize alcohol abuse as a main cause of domestic violence, child abuse and lost wages.


Disaster strikes

Just before the turn of the century, a louse spreads and kills most of the vineyards of France, Italy and Spain . Wine production drops and fraud runs rampant as producers bulk up their stocks with cane and beet sugar. This, in turn causes quality to plummit and therefore stock prices of both wine and Cognac which is also made from grapes. Suicide rates rise among despairing farmers who see no reason why their vines and therefore livelihoods are dying en masse. I think the worldwide social upheaval this causes is difficult for a person today to fully appreciate. At the time this happens, wine is the most traded commodity in the world.


The rise of Whisky

All classes turn to Whisky to take wine’s place!

A Man Pours Whiskey into a flask (1869)
A man pours whisky into a flask; Erskine Nicole (1869) cc BY.



Another twist this century…


Society again takes serious issue with alcohol consumption during WWI. This is where we see the global rise of temperance and prohibition forces. As the world’s greatest powers battle for supremacy, alcohol is seen as a dangerous disturbance; one that could spell the downfall in war efforts.

Even Czar Nicolas II bans vodka in Russia in support of the war. Routinely, the directives aim largely at the working classes. Certainly Nicolas still enjoyed Champagne and vodka during this time.

And somehow, wine is again exempt from most boycotts especially in Catholic areas where it is used in the sacrament of Christ during mass. The United States and almost all of Canada vote for full prohibition (Quebec bans spirits but as a Catholic province continues to allow beer and wine sales).

Prohibition in the US destroys the wine industry of Napa. It’s not until the late 60’s that the area begins to revive itself.



But is wine healthy?


Ironically, the reasons for alcohol’s success equally has to do with it’s benefits for health as it does for for it’s harm. For a long time, alcohol is safer to drink than water!

Remember, this is before sewage systems and water purification pumps of modern municipalities. This played a major role in alcohol’s rise in popularity over the ages whether it be wine, beer, gin or other spirits.

Yet check out this poster from the Temperance movement in Canada circa 1912. As the quality in public drinking water improves, alcohol is demonized; drinking water is now de rigeur!


Modern-day Science and Wine


And what is science telling us today?

Many articles promote wine consumption and particularly red wine consumption as being good for us.  Supporters point to a component in the skins called reservatrol which act as antioxidants. However, according to Medical News Today, eating grapes and berries (especially cranberries and blueberries) provide a better source of reservatrol than wine.


Wine + Health and Heart Disease


Wine and Heart Disease
Wine and Heart Disease

Wine is also said to promote heart health in various ways such as reducing heart disease by the way it affects the gut microbiome. And although there is much evidence to support this, the truth is that the research is still not conclusive.

Other studies show that moderate wine drinking boosts levels of omega-3 fatty acids in plasma and red blood cells. These are the fatty acids that are found in fish and are linked to lower rates of heart disease.

There’s also evidence showing that ethanol in wine helps to metabolize glucose (and it’s non-alcohol ingredients may help too). One study focused on Type 2 diabetes patients and found that red wine significantly increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and brought the total cholesterol down (the bad type). Unfortunately, the study was only a 2 year project using a small sample of 240 patients – not conclusive, but promising.



Wine as an Aphrodisiac and Sexual Health


As it’s Valentine’s Day, I just had to include this part.

Evidence does show that red wine affects sexual function in a positive way, but it’s not clear if it’s more due to diet, exercise, genetics or a combination of all of them. They do know that people with excellent diets, who exercise regularily and drink moderately have lower levels of stress and better sex lives.

A couple in love viewing the sunset
Love cc Giuseppe Milo

Your best bet for a healthy sex life is to eat a Mediterranean diet, one filled with vegetables, fish, legumes and grains. It’s linked to lower levels of sexual dysfunction (in a study of 600 women) as well as lower levels of erectile disfunction.

It’s true that wine may elevate our mood and therefore sexual desire, and even improve blood flow. Wine contains quercetin – an anti-inflammatory property that increases circulation. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are also known to improve blood flow so it’s possible that wine (which can increase the level of omega-3 fatty acids in our blood cells) does as well. So wine can improve your sex life, if your problem is low blood flow.

These possible benefits can only be seen when consuming MODERATE amounts of wine (and not beer, not spirits, just wine).

Of course, alcohol dependence and overuse does just the opposite in men and causes mulitple sexual dysfunctions including erectile dysfunction.



More Science


With the advent of scientific reserach, we can now say that there is a indeed a problem with alcohol – when it is overused.

Over consumption of high-alcohol spirits contributes to cirrhosis of the liver which causes death. In intimate partner relationships, alcohol use is strongly correlated with physical and sexual abuse. Studies also show that the victims of assault are often under the influence of alcohol. There are many more known problems related to alcohol consumption.

A graph displaying increase of alcohol consumption contributing to societal ails
As alcohol consumption increases and is abused, society suffers.


Market Research


And this information is not lost on the Millenial and Z-Generations. Millenials are that group who were born roughly between 1980 and 1994; Z-Generation between 1995 and 2005.

Previously, marketing studies prepared us to get ready for the Millenial takeover in wine consumption. Since they are the largest numerical group born after the Baby-Boomers, they were posited to become the largest consumers of wine, beer, and spirits. What would they choose to drink? Which one would sway their hearts and minds the most?

But then, something happened. These groups choose to look out for their health instead. They want to drink less, way less. Social acceptance of binge drinking is at an all time low.

This mindset is also forecasted with the Z-Generation as they become of drinking age. Not only are they congnizant of their health and welfare, but the phenomenon is coupled with stagnant wages and less certaintly in economic stability. Remember, Gen-Z’ers were raised during the financial crisis of 2008.


Is there a future for spirits?


Even cocktails, traditionally the realm of spirits, are changing. Industry experts at Just-drinks.com say that new cocktails are incorporating wine; port, red and white wine instead of spirits. All this to lower the amount of alcohol in drinks. Further, wines with lower alcohol may actually take center stage over the big, ballsy reds of the recent past. Spritzer, anyone?



How much wine is safe?


For most women, safe consumption is to have one glass of wine per day. For men, you may have 2 glasses. And both of you, leave 2 days of the week open to consume no alcohol at all!



Happy Valentine’s Day!


***Much of the medical information was obtained through Medical News Today and links to recent research papers from there. Media Bias Fact Check rates MNT as providing information from legitimate science based research.

The Best Wine Growing Region You’ve Never Heard of – Hugging Tree Winery and the Similkameen Series

[This article is the second of a three part series on the Similkameen Valley and it’s wineries.]
left to right: Melanie, Wes, Tara, son Fable, Brad, daughter Molly, Jenny Moon, Cristine, Walter and Vincent/ Photo: Brandon Elliot Photography

When Sergeant Makepeace (Cristine) and Staff Sergeant Makepeace (Walter) retired from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the community must have been extremely saddened by the exit of their two aptly named officers (because really, who wouldn’t trust a police officer whose name is ‘Make-peace’?!)  In 2005, they purchased the organic farm in Cawston and moved into their new classic-style farmhouse adorned with a picturesque white verandah that oversees the trees and vines. As a certified organic farm, it seems a natural extension of the Makepeace’s legacy of community service with the RCMP. Now, they can save the world by one fruit at a time!

For years, the public never got to taste the wines from the Makepeace’s vineyards. At least, not knowingly anyways. Walter, knowing nothing about making wine, sold his grapes to other wine producers in the area.

Finally, in 2011, Clos de Soleil winery honoured the couple with their name on the label of the ‘Grower’s Series Makepeace Merlot,’ a small-lot production of their premium grapes. For a couple of years, they contracted Serendipity Winery to make wines under their newly created Hugging Tree label. Meanwhile, Walter and his youngest son Brad took this time to study winemaking at Okanagan College and are now making Hugging Tree wines themselves. Hopefully the the rest of us may now get the chance at sampling their great juice.

Hugging Tree Winery is in Cawston, British Columbia in the Similkameen Valley. It is only a few minutes drive from both the town of Osoyoos and Washington State in one of Western Canada’s wine regions.

Hugging Tree Vineyards and the Similkameen Valley /  Photo: Brandon Elliot Photography

The Similkameen is, indeed, gifted with that special sense of place. The gravelly, sandy loam subsoils are perfect for growing high quality grapes. (If you wish to read more detailed information about Similkameen soils and its relationship to high quality grape growing, click here). ‘Similkameen’ is a First Nation’s word meaning ‘the winding stream’ as the Similkameen River twists through the valley providing much needed access to water. The desert-like area has stately grand rust-red and black Ponderosa Pine trees, and sand-coloured hills and valleys set against blue, blue skies. It rarely rains here averaging only 240 cm per year. If clouds ever dare cross the sky, they are mostly of the white, fluffy variety. It is on the east side of the Similkameen River on gentle, west-facing slopes stretching up from Highway #3 where the Hugging Tree vineyards lay.

The willow tree on the property and the image on Hugging Tree labels / Photo: Brandon Elliot Photography

Hugging Tree name and image of two trees wrapping their arms around each other in a happy embrace is in fact a willow tree that grows on the property. Yet it also seems a fitting nod to the legacy of this wonderful, welcoming family that includes three free-spirited children – now grown adults – Wes, Jen and Brad Makepeace. Brad has brought his own family into the business with wife, Tara and daughter Molly and young toddler, Fable. Wes and Jen, on the other hand, make for much needed hands only at certain times of the growing season and for the most part live their lives away from the farm. “It’s a good tactic that helps us maintain the family peace and equilibrium,” says Jenny Moon over our phone conversation.

Tara, Brad’s wife, works in the tasting room at the farm. I first met Tara in 2015. With thick, long dark hair contrasting against her large blue eyes and round full lips and dark lipstick, she is striking! On this early summer afternoon in July 2017, her hair has light, sandy brown roots that gradually move into a blond hombre, thick and wavy. She wears just a hint of lipgloss. She pulls off both looks so well.

the Tasting Room / Photo: Brandon Elliot Photography

The tasting room at Hugging Tree is a moderate size with ample natural light accented with Victorian industrial lightbulbs, wooden flooring and a cement bar. A record player, the colour of 1950’s sky-blue, plays pop songs of another era. It makes for fun, happy and hopping energy and seems to say, ‘the door’s always open!’

Then there are the wines.

The first time I tasted Hugging Tree, it was back when I first met Tara and Brad in 2015. They made an appointment with me at the restaurant I was working in and I tasted the wines in the cool cellar downstairs. It was a mix of wines made both through their contract with Serendipity and wines made by Brad and Walter. The wines were all solidly good. Tara and I shared the same favourite wine of the flight, the 2012 Moonchild Merlot (named after Brad’s sister, Jenny Moon).

Now, two years later in the tasting room at the winery, the wines are all distinctly excellent.

Winemaker: Brad Makepeace / Photo: Brandon Elliot Photography

Brad joins us to chat a few minutes into our tasting. Tall, dark and handsome with hair that reaches just past his ears and tucked behind them. He has a beard and handlebar mustache and wears a black, sleeveless Motörhead shirt. Yet overall, Brad exudes a softness, especially in his facial features. He is the kind of person who will never trumpet his wines loudly and proudly in the way that legendary leaders like California’s Robert Mondavi has or the how the Okanagan Valley’s Anthony Von Mandl does. Instead, Brad’s persuasion is of the humble, tranquil kind – a low, even drumming that never rises in power and force, nor dims.

That’s right. I promised to talk about the wines.

The 2015 Viognier shows pronounced aromas of ripe peach, orange oil and lots of pretty floral accents. On the palate, it is oily textured and rich yet still finishes with bright mouthwatering length.

I know that Viognier is a difficult grape to get right. It needs a long growing season in order to develop it’s characteristic violet and peach aromas. If you don’t pick it at just the right time, the acidity in the grapes will drop quickly and you will end up with a fat, blowsy wine. In this Hugging Tree Viognier, the richness of the stone fruits and fatness of the texture is balanced by the crispness of the acidity. And oh my, what length!

How did he do it?

The Viognier, Brad tells me, is grown on three different soil types. This year, Brad has picked each lot at different times – hence, the balance of rich fruit and refreshing acidty. Bravo, Brad!

The Hugging Tree 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon shows that quintessential blackcurrant and blackcurrant leaf with a touch of herbaceous mint and sage – the sure sign of high quality Cabernet. An insider’s tip: Watch out for the Cabernets coming out of the Similkameen. The fruit is properly ripened here! I took home 2 bottles of the Cabernet to lock away in my cellar.

Hugging Tree 2012 Moonchild Merlot – as stated above, I first tasted this in 2015 while at work. My tasting notes were disappointingly concise and noted,  “…richly fruited, beautiful tingly powdery tannins. Yum!” Retasting this now, the wine has evolved, the tannins have softened and the juice shows distinctly dark plum with cocoa and a lovely green herb note.

Brad sent me away with a couple of bottles which are soon to be released. Here is the sneak preview of them…

Hugging Tree Merlot 2014 – black cherry and bright red fruits combine beautifully. There’s a beautiful dustiness with violet perfume, cedar and vanilla. The alcohol is quite generous and the tannins are ripe and rounded. Don’t cellar this one! Drink it, it’s beautiful now!

Hugging Tree Telltale 2014 – The Telltale is the Bordeaux blend of the line. This year it has 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc, 16% Petit Verdot, and 8% Malbec. I opened this too early!! In fact, if you were to look up the definition of infanticide you might see me drinking this bottle of 2014 Telltale.  Forested and woody from new oak, it needs time to soften and integrate and to reveal the dark brooding fruits now hidden behind the baking spice. Tannins are youthful and beautifully grainy. The great texture is a hint at the quality here. Cellar for 2-6 years.

Hugging Tree Winery is certainly THE winery to watch out for in Canada’s best kept secret, the Similkameen Valley.

Just go. Go now.

Continue reading

6 Insider Tips on How to Moderate a Wine Seminar
Part I

Moderating your first wine seminar with a panel of experts is intimidating. Yet, it is also your best opportunity to shine among the very people you want to impress the most: famous wine producers, the MW who writes for your favourite magazine, or your peers in the industry. In the following paragraphs are 6 insider tips to prepare you and your panelists in the weeks leading up to the event.Continue reading

Actually, You DO Love Chardonnay, you just don’t know it

white grapesbridget jones's diaryThis is about Chardonnay. Why? It’s grown all over the world and I’ve noticed Chardonnay has taken a ‘hit’ in sales. Coined the ‘Bridget Jones effect’ by wine writer Oz Clarke, this movement has proselytized vast numbers and most people are no longer buying bottles of Chardonnay (Bridget Jones would write in her diary about her sad, manless life over an oversized pour of Chardonnay and then gripe about how she was going to kill herself and put her head in the oven). This negative marketing caused Chardonnay sales to plummet. I too, had lost my Chardonnay-mojo, disenchanted with the bitter finish of over-oaked butter bombs. Now, I’ve learned that Chardonnay can be absolutely delicious with oak as long as the fruit takes center stage and the oak plays second fiddle.  Here’s what you probably know already…Continue reading