Sumac Ridge Sparkling Shiraz 2006

December 24, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

I am so happy the Sumac Ridge has brought bubbly red to Canada! This Sparkling Shiraz is Canada’s first and I am not ashamed to say I like it. I actually didn’t even realize it was “unhip” to enjoy this beverage until I read a post by Jordan Mackay (who admits to liking it too).

Australia has long been producing this bubble and my sister (who lives in Sydney) got our family hooked on it years ago. It is great with turkey, looks pretty on a Christmas table and it’s easy to drink on it’s own.

Sumac Ridge has already impressed lovers of quality bubble with its Stellar’s Jay Brut (a beautiful, peachy-hued sparkling wine that you should keep in mind for New Years Eve). Now it has bottled its take on Sparkling Shiraz. The result is fairly minerally on the nose, definitely some eggshell there, but you get a lot of dark cherry taste and that “Perrier action” of mineral fizz.

Since it’s light it is a great pair for a variety of foods. I could imagine it complimenting delicate beef carppacio, duck, or turkey. We had it with French onion soup and it was a terrific pair to the beef stock, sweet onions and cheese.  It makes a great cocktail bubble and could take you all the way through to chocolate dessert.

But maybe you’re one of those people who turns up their nose at red bubbly. That’s fine with me — hopefully it means Sumac Ridge’s Sparkling Shiraz will be easy to find on the liquor store shelves! It’s about $3 dearer than the Stellar’s Jay Brut — you can pick it up for $30 at BC Liquor Stores.

France by the Glass

November 7, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

One of the main themes of our trip to France was wine. Bubbly, fortified, rosé, red, white, young and old, cheap and expensive, we tipped many a glass in our quest to find the best wine for the occasion. Some days we chose better than others and our chances paid off. Here’s how our vacation’s wine list poured out:

White Wines

2007 Domaine du Tariquet, Famille Grasse, Les Premières Grives. (Gers) France. 11%

A full-flavoured and juicy, sweet white wine that makes a good aparatif.

2007 Vin de Alsace, Sylvaner. (Alsace) France. 12%

A crisp and refreshing white with a hint of fruity sweetness that allows it to be enjoyed with or without food.

2007 Domaine La Fadèze, Sauvignon. (Vin de Pays d’Oc) France. 12%

A simple, citrusy, dry white to enjoy with fish.

2007 Chateau Les Graves, Sauvignon. (Premières Cotes de Blaye) France. 12.5%

A deliciously crisp and elegant Sauvignon from Bordeaux that will shine with seafood or alone.

2006 Chateau Coucheroy, Graves. (Pessac-Léognan) France. 12.5%

This dry sauvignon is fresh, smooth and medium-bodied so it can be enjoyed alone or as an ideal pairing to seafood and fish.

Rosé Wines

2007 Les Pierrons de Sobransac, Domaine la Lause, Rosé. (Vin de Pays de l’Aude) France. 13%

This fruity pink will go well as an aparatif or with your first course. It’s a great lunchtime wine.

2007 Château Bujan, Le Rosé de Bujan. (Cotes-de-Bourg) France.

A refreshing afternoon sipper with plenty of fruit and acidity.

2007 Domaine du Sabarthès, Rosé d’Ariège. (Vin de Pays l’Ariège) France. 13%

A simple, tart wine that, like a simple tart, you might invite to lunch once for the first and last time.

Red Wines

2004 Oc Cellus, VdP de la Haute-Vallée de l’Aude. (Limoux) France. 15%

This full-bodied blend of six grapes makes a spicy, complex wine that we were told to age for at least three to four more years (until 2011 or 2012).

2004 Vicomte Edmond H. De Coussergue, Pinot Noir. (Vin de Pays d’Oc) France. 13%

We did a tasting at a large wine merchant Sieur d’Arques in the town of

Limoux and at the end of the tasting selection, I asked the hostess what her favourite wines were. This Pinot was her top pic, so I bought a bottle and brought it home. More details once I taste it!

2003 Clocher Des Bénédictins, Merlot Grenache. (Vin de Pays d’Oc) France. 13.5%

This peppery, blackcurrent-scented wine is a tasty number to sip alone or with fromage au poivre.

Domaine la Croix Sainte Eulalie. (Saint Chinian) France. 13%

A good choice to pair with a heavy or fatty meal. A bit sharp for a solo-sipper.

2007 Domaine de Montesuieu. (Coteaux du Languedoc) France. 13.5%

A drinkable wine for €2.50 that is great to wash down strong cheeses with your casual picnic.

2001 Château Bujan. (Cotes-de-Bourg) France. 13%

We tasted a few bottles from Château Bujan, as we rented a house on the winery’s property. Read more soon…

2007 Echantillon de Mouton Rothschild. (Pauillac) France.

We were allowed to preview this wine while visiting the glorious chateau. It is not yet for sale, but when it does go up for sale expect prices to be upwards of €300 per bottle. Yikes! It’s what you have to shell out for a Médoc Premiers Cru (wines classified to be the best in France by Bordeaux trade brokers in 1855).

2004 Château Beychevelle and 2004 Amiral de Beychevelle. (Saint-Julien) France.

The premier and second labels from a famous Château classified as a fourth growth in 1855. That means the ’04 premier label goes for €39 while the second label is closer to €20. If you buy at the winery.

2001 Chateau Lynch-Bages. (Pauillac) France. 13%

We were told during our visit to this fifth growth classified Bordeaux winery that a lot of attention was given to the wines of 2000 because it was the millennium. However, our hostess at the winery said that 2001 was a perfect year for grapes, but nothing extraordinary. That has made it a “forgotten” vintage, although it still sells for €84 in their shop.

1982 Chateau Grand Mayne. (Saint-Émilion) France.

This winery is in the top 50 best wines of the Saint-Émilion region, and you’ll notice the 1982 vintage. 1982 is a “vintage year” or a year that’s known in wine snob circles as being above the rest. So we considered ourselves lucky that a friendly wine merchant happen to have a bottle open and offered us a taste.  It was very lightly-coloured and brownish in the glass and the main flavours were leather and Tobasco, in my opinion. Although the merchant claimed caramel and asked for over €150 a bottle. I was not sold.

2004 Roc de Cambes. (Cotes-de-Bourg) France.

This was one of the favourite and recommended wines of the friendly wine merchant in Saint-Émilion. It was an enjoyable, juicy number.


Blanquette de Limoux

We tasted many different Blanquette de Limoux from a large wine merchant Sieur d’Arques in the town of Limoux and enjoyed all of them. Read more soon…

2004 Emile Stagé, Blanquette de Limoux. (Limoux) France. 12%

When a rugby player’s mug is grinning at you from the label, you know you’re found yourself a quality bubble. Read more soon…

Fortified Wines

Pineau is a wonderful discovery that I wish I’d known about earlier! Read more soon…

Apple Cider

So soft (2 to 4 % alcohol) it’s a great drink for the driver. Or for breakfast. And it’s easy to find in French shops.