Ciao Belle Liberty Village

Our wine nights in Liberty Village keep getting better and keep getting bigger, which only means one thing- MORE WINE!

WL Ext3Last night, we had our third night at a local hot spot in Liberty Village, Williams Landing. A trendy, up-sale casual restaurant with an extensive menu of great food, caters to the residents of Liberty year round. It was the perfect choice to bring together our club members for this wine night.

Our group was set up in the back and we had a lot of space to mingle, sit and eat, and enjoy the ambience.

The theme this month was Italy, so naturally, each guest ventured out to their local LCBO (as we did have newcomers from the Fort
York, City Place and King Street areas join us) and chose a bottle of their favourite vino to bring.

I brbt Chianti Serristori by MA-CD- 750mLought a Chianti. The 2012 Serristori, is a predominately based Sangiovese with a very deep and bright ruby red colour. On the nose, it has an intense and complex bouquet, strong notes of ripe fruit (cherries and raspberries) and elegant floral hints. On the palate, this wine was full-bodied, soft and fruity, very savoury and well balanced. It paired well with many of the meats offered and the pasta and pizza! This Chianti is not available in Ontario, so I was fortunate enough to get it from one of our suppliers! It was great to share something you cant easily get here with the group!

It was really refreshing and exciting to see that 90% of guests were new faces! The change of venue and day of the week (Sunday) might have appealed to a different demographic which created an original guest list. The talented Chefs at William’s Landing prepared a special Italian style menu for our event, consisting of cheeses, meats, pastas and pizzas. The food was delicious and completely enjoyed by all of our attendees. As a backdrop, we had their glass encased wine racks that reached up to the ceiling. It was the perfect prop added to the evening.

I received outstanding feedback and today, I am happy to see many new members who joined The Liberty Village Wine Club!

IMG_3365

Another successful event for the books and hopefully this led our guests to have a happy Monday (or not, depending on how much they drank!)

Ciao for now!

 

A Weekend in Wine… Canadian Style

Happy New Year Wine Lover’s!

It has been a little while since my last post, but I have not forgotten about my readers! I had taken some time off from any winederful events that came my way and drinking wine so I could refresh and refocus! (I know, crazy right!) A month without wine was not an easy task, but I did it and now I am back and ready to pop some bottles!

12523924_10153814995873076_7438975124526850560_nMy first dip into the wine world of 2016 was this past weekend during The Canadian Wine Scholar Program I took with the same company I received my WSET credentials from, Fine Vintage. I am sure most of you are wondering things like, “what is a Canadian Wine Scholar?” or even, “Is there a big enough industry and wine market to have a whole course focused on Canada!?” Well, in fact, there is! The Canadian wine industry is HUGE and after this weekend, I learned there was so much more to it than I had ever known while studying and working in the industry the past three years.

Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and Nova Scotia are the most important provinces in the wine market and contribute greatly to the country’s economy. Brilliant and renown wine critic, writer, competition judge and our teacher for the length of the course, David Lawrason led us through the unique regions of Niagara, the beautiful vineyards of The Okanagan Valley (oh how I miss that place), and many more exciting details of how our country is growing to become one of the classics wine country’s in the world. While we are famously known for Ice wine in export markets like Asia and The U.S., other varieties and winery’s are being recognized for their outstanding vintages and wining respected awards around the world. Some wineries to note are Mission Hill Family Estate Winery in West Kelowna who have been recognized for their Chardonnay’s and Pinot Noirs and Inniskillin for their Ice Wine.

images1276132_10200611427082245_1493837898_o

My class was full of extremely interesting people, from various provinces, all who had very interesting backgrounds in the wine industry and an interesting story to tell. It was a fun and insightful two days!

1185636_10200611404281675_1633856871_nPart of the program included tasting and evaluating wines from each province and their respected regions. (the best part of course!) Most of the wines were exquisite and none I had ever tried before. I will admit that while it was hard to find wines from Ontario while living in BC, I never had any interest to buy locally because I didn’t believe they could compete with the rest of the world. Boy was I wrong! Ontario has a diverse range of climates, soil, and varietals and since the wine making styles are basically left up to the wine maker, you never know what you are going to get! I can attest for my classmates and I that we were pleasantly surprised by what came our way. The most exciting part- most of these wines are available at the LCBO for a reasonable price! I will be hitting the Ontario isles the next time I go to the liqour store.

Of course, the course to become a Canadian Wine Scholar couldn’t be all fun and drinking and we had to end with an exam! However, I do believe I did well and will receive a certificate in a couple of weeks! Studying the past couple weeks and preparing for it the night before with a classmate and couple bottles of wine didn’t helped me get there!

1239480_10200611386641234_10567899_n

 

 

If you are interested in learning more about the Canadian Wine Industry or any country at all, first come to me because I will plan and host an AMAZING event, but if you want certification, check out Fine Vintage. They are a highly reputable company, have amazing, intelligent teachers and we taste delicious wines! 😉

A Spanish Night

FullSizeRender (12)

 

My desire to travel to Spain has just doubled, no TRIPLED since my dining experience Sunday night at Cava Restaurant located mid town Toronto. A good friend who actually serves at this beautiful local establishment invited me to have dinner with her after attending my “Old World vs New World” wine class in Liberty Village last week while we were discussing our great love for food and wine.

 

 

 

FullSizeRender (6)

It was hands down, one of the best meals I have ever eaten, (unbutton your pants worthy) and on top of that, included foods I have never tried before that thought I would actually hate!

A small, yet original and innovative hideaway, Cava‘s emphasis on Iberian and Latin American flavours has set an authentic style to their Spanish tapas cuisine.

 

 

We chose to order from the “Trust Me” menu which entails chefs to prepare specialities from the menu while servers pair each small dish with a wine. Our server, Adrian was knowledgeable, friendly and organized and I was completely impressed with the pairings he chose for each dish we ate (and boy, there were MANY!)

After reading what I ate, I am sure you might be a little sceptical (and trust me I was too) but in my opinion, there is no better experience to dining than trying new foods at new places! (I seem to prove this point every new place I go!)

Course 1

SUPERGILDA- Sardine escabeche, crushed tomato on toasted baguette rubbed with garlic, with a skewer of guindilla pepper, anchovy, and olive

I know what you are thinking, SARDINES! My friend was telling me last night when I had the same reaction that most people associate sardines with what is found in a can, but this fish was fresh, flavoured and cooked just right! It was my second favourite course of the evening!

Pairing: Fino “Tio Pepe” Sherry- Gonzalez Byass Jerez de la Frontera

I am not a huge fan of Sherry, however the dish completely complemented it and it was delicious!

PINCHO OF GAMAY-POACHED FOIE GRAS

The Foie Gras was creamy and excellent! Tasted like butter on toast!

FullSizeRender (5)

Course 2

CHICORIES WITH VALDEON, SMOKED ALMONDS, AND PEAR SALAD

Pairing: Riesling “Dolomite” Cave Spring 2013 Niagara, Canada

The Valdeon, Spanish blue cheese, paired perfectly with the slight sweetness of the Cave Springs Riesling and the pear notes in the wine matched well with the pears in the salad.

FullSizeRender (3) - Copy

Course 3

EGGPLANT WITH QUESO FRESCO, BONITO, & TOMATILLO SAUCE

Pairing:Palo Cortado “Obispo Gascon” Barbadillo Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Both were divine!

FullSizeRender (7)

Course 4

ROASTED SABLEFISH WITH BLACK RICE, AND COLLARD GREENS

Pairing: Chardonnay Southbrook 2013 Niagara, Canada

FullSizeRender (2) - Copy - Copy

SMOKED SEA SCALLOP WITH HOMINY, GREEN TOMATO, SORREL, AND PASILLA CREMA

Pairing:“Bere” Traditional Basque Cider

This cider pairing was unique and delicious! (I do not believe I have ever had a Spanish cider before!) The cider was very fresh and light and was a wonderful accompaniment to the scallop

FullSizeRender (10)

Course 5

Cornish Hen: hazelnut romesco, roasted cauliflower, braised collard greens

This was a special treat as it is not on the menu and was as equally incredible!

Pairing:“Biberius” Comenge 2013 Ribera del Duero, Spain

FullSizeRender (4)

Course 6

CHURROS CON CHOCOLATE

Pairing: MONASTRELL “AFTER 3” VINO DULCE NATURAL LOS FRAILES

Of course, I was pursuaded into dessert and I do not regret it one bit! The churros were fresh and the chocolate rich! The Vino Dulce was an excellent sweet match!

FullSizeRender (11)

FullSizeRender (15)

 

After dinner, we had another little surprise. The manager brought over Pedro Ximénez “Don P.X.” Toro Albalá 1962 Montilla-Moriles. This was a treat for me because I have never tried a PX sherry before! It was so sweet, we only needed the 1 ounce we were given!

 

 

 

 

 

I have to admit, this was the longest dinner I have ever had! We wined and dined for 3 hours! I was so pleasantly full and satisfied with the meal and my entire experience!

The owners of Cava recently opened a new French restaurant, Chabrol, in Yorkville and that has definitely placed high on my food list of restaurants to go next!

Thank you to my fabulous friend for a night out and to the wonderful employees at Cava! Another great restaurant experience in the books!

FullSizeRender

 

Old World vs New World

Another great wine class in the books! This past weekend, I led a group from my wine club through a Old World vs New World wine series and it was fabulous!

I decided to change up the layout of how the class was run and set it up as a blind tasting in 3 rounds; tasting a wine from a old world region beside a wine from a new world region. Some of them were tricky, but by guiding the guests through characteristics of wine that is produced by which regions, they were great at guessing which was which! I was very impressed!

Wine made in “Old Word Regions” are European and follow more traditional styles of wine making, grape growing, and production that represents the total terroir of the region.

Wine made in “New World Regions” generally come from North and South American regions as well as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and they tend to be more consumer friendly, manipulated, fruit froward and higher in alcohol.

The class loved seeing the real differences in the wines side by side!

This was the line up for what we tried

Lamberti Pinot Grigio vs Flat Roof Manor Pinot Grigio

Capture

 

The Lamberti has a straw colour with pearly tints, bouquet of exotic fruits and wild flowers,
pure pleasure. While the Flat Roof Manor showed more intense fruit flavours with an emphasis on peach, apricot and some lychee with a pale yellow colour.

We paired these wines with Boursin goat cheese and sea salt chocolate.

 

 

Norton Barrel Select Malbec vs Gariottin Malbec Cahors AOC

ca1

 

The Barrel Select Malbec is deep red in colour and has sweet tannins with ripe red fruit on the palate. In comparison, the Gariottin from France very earthy in style with notes of plum and blackberry fruit; followed by gripping tannins in the finish.

We paired these wines with Gouda cheese, fig jam, and sea salt chocolate.

 

 

Chateau Timberlay Cabernet/Merlot vs Nugan Uprising Cabernet Sauvignon

Capture1

 

The Cabernet/Merlot blend tricked a lot of people because of the wonderful components the two varietals brought to each other. This French wine is a bright deep ruby colour and has aromas of candied red fruit, vanilla, spice, leather and is slightly oaked. However, when tasted next to the Nugan, it was clear, this overpowering cab with deep crimson and purple hues, complex palate of blackcurrant, chocolate and cassis with smooth velvety tannins was the wine from a New World region.

We paired these wines with old fort Cheddar cheese, salami and mild chorizo.

Again, it was a great evening and my guests left well fed, no longer thirsty and a little more educated!

I am planning on holding off classes until the new year as it is quite busy with the holidays! So once January hits, we will be back in the full swing!

Cheers!

For the Love of Food and Wine

gourmet-food-wine-expo-torontoThis weekend I had the opportunity of attending The Gourmet Food and Wine Show for the very first time and it was quiet the experience! Wow, was there a lot of option! Not only were there endless tables of wines from about every region around the world, with cuisines from every culture, but there was also beer, cider, entertainment and more! As their 21st year, The Metro Toronto Convention Centre knew how to set this show up and there was definitely no messing around! It was busy, but it just made it all the most exciting to join in on the fun!

 

 

gourmet-food-wine-expo-1228223-2166352-regular

I went with a friend who also works in the wine industry so we pretty excited to indulge in the different offerings this years Expo had to offer. I think one of our favourite stops was the Germany station where a good friend working the table led us through an incredible line up of Rieslings (a Kabinett and Auslese included!), a Spatlese Gewürztraminer and a Spatburgunder (German for Pinot Noir) All were quite lovely, but the Gewürztraminer and the Kabinett Riesling were my favourite.

IMG_3016

 

IMG_3014

Another exciting stop was the Granville Island Brewery table! My friend, who is actually from BC was even more excited than I was seeing this company as it brought back memories for both of us! We both enjoyed their Winter Ale!

Some of the entertainment for the consisted of a live band, live classes you can take a break and join and the photo booths available. We definitely took advantage of those!

I cant forget to mention the food! There were cuisines from every country and pairings for just about every beverage offered! Some of the food and restaurants that exhibited I have listed below:

Holy Cannoli

Rock Lobster

Switzerland Cheese

Three Sisters Kitchen

Brassaii Restaurant and Lounge

Dairy Farmers of Canada

Original Kettlecorn

I could keep going, but this blog would never end!

It was a crazy, amazing experience and I am so fortunate I was able to attend this year! I would recommend to anyone to attend the years to come!

IMG_3047

WSET 4: The Diploma

“Remember that you will never know everything about wine, but the more you learn the greater your pleasure will be and the better you’ll be able to share your passion with others.”
FullSizeRenderThese are the words I have chosen to live by. And in saying so, I have decided to keep studying! THAT’S RIGHT! I have decided to go full force and register for WSET Level 4: THE DIPLOMA!!! It will be a long, wild, hard ride, but I am HOOKED and nothing will stop me now!

It is too hilarious to think that 3 short years ago, all I knew was, some wine was red and some was white. Now, my mind is full of the many wine regions around the world, varietals, vines, climates, soils, and all aspects of wine.

After obtaining WSET Level 3, I knew I wanted to continue and here I am once again ready to put my head in the books and my lips on the glass! (I  don’t know what I enjoy more- really!)

I should also mention I am enrolled in a 2 day course in January 2016 featuring Canadian wine, “Canadian Wine Scholar Program” It is offered by the same company I took WSET with, Fine Vintage. Since the Canadian wine market is so small in comparison with the rest of the worlds markets, it is not of main focus in the WSET courses as to why it has become its own special program. At the end of the 2 day period in January (exam included) I hope to become a Canadian Wine Scholar and proudly use the letters C.W.S after my name.

Getting back on track to the Diploma program, this is a long, 2 year commitment.

 

CaptureThe course will be led by IWEG (Independent Wine Education Guild) and is broken down into 6 units. The first and second unit will begin in August 2016. I still have a while to go, but I need to get my head in the game and start tasting and evaluating wine again! (the proper way)

Pray for me everyone! Again, this will be a long, wild, hard ride, but I am ready and I cannot wait to achieve the next chapter of my life as my passion keeps growing!

My first plan of action: watch SOMM with a huge bowl of popcorn!

(If you have not seen this documentary, it is a MUST see!! Available on Netflix!)

somm2

Mulled Wine: How to Keep Warm this Holiday Season!

There is nothing more exciting to me during the holidays than the inviting nutty and sweet smells of mulled wine! It is the perfect combination of a warm drink and wine! I like to make my batch in my crock pot and want to share the recipe with you!

downloadThis will keep you cozy and happy for the cold months to come!

“Red wine is simmered with whole winter spices, apple cider, and brandy for a cozy (and addictive!) winter drink. Inexpensive and easy to make, it’s also an excellent choice for holiday parties”

 

 

 

YIELD: Serves 6

PREP TIME: 5 minutes

COOK TIME: 30 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 35 minutes

20130826-mulled-wine-ice-creamIngredients:
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle red wine (choose something fruity but not too sweet. Merlot, Zinfandel, or Cabernet Sauvignon all work well)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • Orange slices, for garnish
  • Cinnamon sticks, for garnish
imagesDirections:
  1. Add wine, cider, honey, orange zest, and orange juice to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir to combine. Add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and anise. Cook on low until warm, 30 minutes to one hour, depending on your slow cooker. Stir in the brandy.
  2. Ladle into mugs and serve with an orange slice and cinnamon sticks. To keep the wine warm, leave the slow cooker on the “keep warm” setting. If your slow cooker does not have a warm setting, alternate between “low” and off.

Emiliana: Único En Su Clase

This week, I had the fortunate opportunity of meeting one of the most lovely and knowledgeable wine makers from Chile, Noelia Orts. Dedicating her life and passion to Emiliana, a unique and remarkable Organic and Biodynamic winery located in the Casablanca Valley, Noelia spent the week in Canada travelling to different provincial markets promoting the release of Emiliana’s newest vintages by helping to educate employees on the winery, their mission and their unique wine making practices.

FullSizeRender

Noelia grew up in Spain surrounded by wine in her household. Enrolled in Agricultural Engineering in College led to subjects focused on wine which began her journey into the Wine Industry. Her favourite part was the food and wine pairing (I am sure many of us can agree with her on that!)

She worked in many different wine regions in Spain, then onto New Zealand and finally made her way to Chile where she fell in love with the originality of the country’s wine environment. She deeply admired the great knowledge many of the wine makers she met share, the variety of terroir that Chile has to offer and the freedom the country has to plant pretty much any grape variety they wish (unlike many country’s laws that restrict plantings of grape varieties other than their designated ones)

Noelia stayed in Chile and has become one of Emiliana’s world renown Wine Makers who creates some of the most beautiful, characterful and unique wines. Many of their wines and
Publication1vintages have won awards and have high accolades from highly regarded critics and Wine Magazines. Their Chief Wine Maker, Alvaro Espinoza was announced in 2015 as one of the Top 30 Wine Makers in the World by Wine Decanter.

In 1986 Emiliana was created and now for more than two decades, their wines are recognized nationally and internationally.

In 1998, they became a fully organic winery. All of their wines are made without the use of chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, etc. Instead, they use alpaca and roosters that run around the vineyard freely to eat pests, colourful flowers that grow in between vines to attract pests and bugs and natural fertilizers. Emiliana also maintain orchard farming and grow other organic crops such as tomatoes and olive trees.

 


By 2006, Emiliana became biodynamic. A rare practice seen throughout vineyards but one started by farmers who use holistic agriculture to enhance the quality and nutrition of their crops. Emiliana uses “the biodynamic calendar (based on the cycle and rhythm of the sun, the moon, the planets and their influences to obtain the best quality wines.” During different months of the year the winery will focus on growing and planting different crops, grapes, and vines and continue with what wine making practices are necessary at that specific time.

downloadThe sustainability the winery has established has created a better quality of life for not just their wines but for the whole community that encompasses the region. PMA is very fortunate to work with such an amazing place such as Emiliana.

During Noelia’s visit, she led the whole PMA sales team through an extensive tasting of some of Emiliana’s portfolio. Some of the wines are currently in the LCBO and other liquor boards throughout Canada, while others are to be released at the end of this year and early 2016.

The line up is listed below:

Adobe Sauvignon Blanc- Currently available at the LCBO

Signos White Blend (Chardonnay/Marsanne/Viognier) – Currently available at the LCBO – Rated 93 Points by James Suckling

Adobe Merlot- Currently available at the LCBO

Novas Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot- Released December 12th, 2015-
Rated 90 Points by James Suckling

Novas Cabernet Sauvignon/Carménère- February 2016 release
Rated 93 Points by James Suckling

Coyam Red Blend (Syrah/Carménère/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon)- Currently available at the LCBO- Rated 93 Points by James Suckling

Coyam is Emiliana’s flagship wine as it was their first organic wine (and it is absolutely amazing!)

Emiliana-vinos-001

Noelia had a very successful trip in Ontario and yesterday she travelled to Halifax to visit our PMA team there and see their market.

This winery is truly one of a kind and learning everything from Noelia has made me very enthusiastic about Chile and their unique wine making practices. Who knows, the next time I meet with Noelia, it could be in Chile at Emiliana! 😉

images (1)

 

Emiliana Organic Winery has been named, Winery of the YEAR 2015,  from Wines of Chile. This is the highest accolade a winery can receive from the governing body that over sees Chilean wines in all markets worldwide.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required




Oh Canada

Liberty Village Wine Club wine night number 2 finally came and it was a wonderful affair! The theme focused on Canadian vineyards; wines from Ontario, BC and everywhere in between. Again, each guest was to bring a dish and wine to match the theme, but this time really try and pair the two together! There were some amazing pairings and by the end of the night members left STUFFED! (I don’t even think anyone was very drunk because of the amount of food eaten!)

IMG_2917 IMG_2922

As a special treat and a new twist, we had PMA Canada Sales Representative, Katherine Lewis in to talk about Peninsula Ridge, a winery located in Beamsville Ontario, footsteps to Niagara Wine Country. As she led us through a tasting of the Semi-dry Riesling and Cabernet-Merlot blend, Katherine did and amazing job of getting the group excited and interested!

IMG_2921 IMG_2920

The Riesling is a “cornucopia of pineapple and pear on the nose continue to the palate with fresh acidity and a touch of lemon lime on the finish; a perfect example of balanced acidity and sweetness” It paired really well with a lot of the desserts and pastries that were served!

The Cabernet-Merlot red blend, a “rich yet approachable wine full of blackberry and blueberry flavours had soft, silky tannins. Wonderfully scented and full bodied with a beautiful balance” was one of the favourites of the evening.

My favourite part about our wine nights is how well everyone gets along! Most people do not know each other, but we are all neighbours so it is really nice and pleasing to watch everyone socialize and enjoy each others company.

Some of the most popular wines tasted were the following:

  • Peninsula Ridge Riesling $13.95
  • Peninsula Ridge Cab-Merlot $14.95
  • Inniskillin Riesling
  • Rockway Meritage
  • Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay
  • Chateau des Charmes Gamay

All of these are available at the LCBO!

Some of the great dishes we had included:

  • French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup
  • A veggie platter shaped like the Canadian Flag! (Very cool!)
  • Cheese Biscuits (with Canadian Cheese of course)
  • Timbits (what is more Canadian than that!)
  • Butter Tarts
  • Chicken Pot Pie

IMG_2914  IMG_2911

Amazing turn out for the Second Liberty Village Wine Club wine night! Cannot wait for the third wine night already!

 

Exploring Wines of Chile!

IMG_2839Camenere, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc. All wonderful varietals poured at last nights Wines of Chile Event. Inside the beautiful, historic Royal Ontario Museum, wineries from around Chile came together for a wine and food festival.

Showcasing 20 wineries with more than 120 different wines, where some were featured for the first time in Canada, the hall was packed with industry folk, guests and wine makers. Each table carried their own brand name wines and poured for guests while educating them about the regions and wineries the different varietals came from.

Themed tables were set up around the room promoting Sparkling wine options as well as innovative new wines that were available to sample.

FullSizeRenderIMG_2840

Hors d’oeuvres and cheese platters were elegantly set up in the centre of the room served by chefs who prepared food on site and in front of guests. There were also very talented musicians and dancers who provided excellent entertainment throughout the evening.

FullSizeRender (3)   IMG_2833

I tried some amazing different wines and met some pretty incredible people! It was really interesting to compare the same grape between different vineyards within different parts of Chile and see how unique they were!

IMG_2835

I listed some of my favourites below:

Emiliana Sparkling

Emiliana Coyam Red Blend

(Both of these wines are organic by the way!)


IMG_2837Arboleda Carmenere- which will be listed in the LCBO within the next couple of months

Concha y Toro Pinot Noir

Santa Alicia Carmenere

Indomita Sauvignon Blanc

Tabali Viognier

 

 

 

 

IMG_2836Cono Sur Sparkling Rose- new to market!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were lots of good options and I know what I am picking up the next time I go to the LCBO!

IMG_2843

1 2 3 4