You know it’s bad when you start dreaming of warmer weather…in November.
That’s right, it’s not even officially winter and we already have a foot of snow in Ottawa…and it’s here to stay.
In wine terms, normally as the cold weather settles in, you reach for fuller-bodied wines to accompany hearty winter meals like stews and roasts.
Me on the other hand? I am dreaming of warmer temperatures and my wine choices are reflecting that. Instead of stocking up on big, bold reds, I seem to be buying—of all things—lighter-bodied fragrant whites. Is it just a major case of denial? Winter is here, get over it, Mel! But no, I’d prefer to bury my head in the sand and pretend that nicer weather is just around the corner, despite all the signs to the contrary. By the way, whose idea was it to have the sun set at 4:30?
I am also noticing that this weather makes me less inclined to go out. Long gone are the days of hitting up a patio at the end of the work week. Now I just want to go home, change into yoga pants and wooly socks, and hunker down with Netflix. So when a girlfriend invited me over the other night for a wine and pizza night, I knew it was just what I needed. We hung out and drank wine, chatting about our lives, eating pizza, drinking more wine etc. It was a really great evening catching up with a good friend.
Did I mention this called for lots of wine? Before the festivities, we met at the LCBO, and to help limit our choices, we played a little game called find-a-good-bottle-of-wine-under-$10. It makes for a great challenge that is immensely gratifying if you win. And if you lose, well at least you learned what wines you don’t like without breaking the bank.
Without further ado, here were the winners of the evening:
Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc Reserva (regularly $11.95, on sale at the LCBO until Nov. 27 for $9.95)
Smells remarkably like a New Zealand sauvignon blanc (tropical fruit like passion fruit, green apple, pear, honeydew melon and grassy notes), even though this wine comes from Chile’s Leyda Valley. Super pale straw colour and medium-bodied with good acidity. In terms of food pairing, it is surprisingly versatile. Who knew a wine like this could go with pizza? The acidity played off the zing of the pepperoni for a mini party in my mouth. Fun!
Trapiche Extravaganza White ($8.95 at the LCBO)
Amazing value alert! This wine was recently de-listed so it won’t be around for long. This blend of chardonnay and torrontés, a native grape in Argentina, is incredibly complex for the price: white flower, lemon, pineapple, green apple, lime, caramel and vanilla. Good body and very drinkable. The aromas are repeated on the palate with the addition of very subtle orange blossom that lingers on the tongue. Serve with a nice pork roast. Bonus points for the cool label.
Whitecliff Sauvignon Blanc ($14.95)
This wine is an honourable mention because it didn’t fit the theme of wines under $10. But it does fall under my dreaming-of-summer-and-seriously-considering-moving-to-the-southern-hemisphere-for-the-winter category. Furthermore, because I have totally fallen in love with this wine, I absolutely could not wait any longer to share it with you.
I actually tasted this wine back in May at the NZ Tiki Tour and briefly reviewed it here. At that point they were showing the 2015, which was a decent year. However, as I learned during the Nobilo tasting last month, 2016 was an amazing grape-growing season in Marlborough, New Zealand. And is that ever obvious in the 2016 vintage of the Whitecliff. What a stunner, as the kiwis would say! Incredibly aromatic and intense acidity. Fantastic tropical fruit flavours like pineapple, guava and passion fruit, balanced out with a saltiness from the area’s maritime climate. And so drinkable! Great with seafood or for easy drinking on its own. At that price, I’ll definitely be stashing a couple of bottles of this in my fridge.
So there you have it: my dreaming-of-warmer-climes recommendations, all highly affordable, all suspiciously from the Southern hemisphere as it gears up for summer, while I sit here staring out the window watching the snow fly. Coincidence? Likely not.
What are you drinking during this changing of the seasons?