A delightful blend: an afternoon with Kim Crawford wines

Hello friends!

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

It was another exciting wine day here in Ottawa with a fantastic Kim Crawford tasting event, which turned participants into winemakers! Kim Crawford wines have been around for 20 years and the brand has practically become a household name. Especially in my household. Just look at some of my previous posts and you will get a sense of how I often I drink it. Kim Crawford comes up in no less than six WWM posts to date, including this post on chardonnay or this one mentioning the KC Pansy! rosé.

I still remember the first time I tried Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « wayne's world flashback gif »

Am I dating myself with this flashback gif?

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California love…ish

Some of you may recall that I went to the California Wine Fair last Friday which, as it turns out, was a somewhat disappointing experience.

For one thing, my wine count went down from the 42 wines tasted at the Taste Ontario event to somewhere between 30-35. And since I always seem to be in some sort of internally-driven competition, this felt like a loss of some sort, even though the competition was against myself and myself alone (which would make me a winner as well, no?).

This was partly due to the fact that at 5 p.m., 2 hours after my arrival, the lights flickered on and off, indicating the end of the trade tasting. At this point the pourers began promptly removing bottles from the table, and the panic among tasters was palpable. What? That’s it? It’s over already? But we were just getting started!

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Quebec City Wining

We were in beautiful Quebec City over the Family Day long weekend. And it was cooooooold. Not just the regular need-to-wear-a-toque-today cold, but the pull-out-the-long-underwear-and-balaclava kind of cold. It was the second year in a row with these same frigid temperatures over the long weekend. I remember, not only because my Facebook feed was filled with Memories from a year ago side-by-side with similar cold-related posts, but also because we had been on our same annual ski weekend, so the cold was particularly memorable. Now, I should mention that I am not in any way a skier. I tried it a couple of times when I was younger, but since I hate the cold, it turns out it wasn’t really my thing. So for the past three years, we have gone on an annual ski trip over the long weekend, which generally involves me hanging out by the fire with the cottage to myself while everyone else freezes their nuts off on the ski hill all day. I love it!

For this year’s ski trip, my husband and I, along with another couple had rented a really cute AirBnb in a quaint hillside town halfway between Quebec City and Mont Ste-Anne. We left Friday night right after work in, of course, a blizzard. Typical start to the long weekend. Needless to say, it took us much longer than expected to get there, and only arrived after midnight. We had a quick drink (a glass or two of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, in case you were wondering) then went to bed.

My husband was sick with a cold, so he passed on skiing on Saturday. Our friends took off first thing in the morning to take advantage of the fresh powder, while my husband and I had a much-needed sleep in. Our big adventure for the day was getting bundled up for the -30 °C temperatures with the wind chill and walking the 500 metres to the grocery store and back. I put together a beef stew in the crockpot and opened up a bottle of The Show. Yes, that’s right, the failed rib pairing (see link for wine description). You will be happy to hear that this rich Californian red was fabulous both in and with the beef stew. The rest of the evening was spent opening more bottles (including a bottle of my go-to cava, Segura Viudas) and playing various games, including Code Name and our family favourite, Cards Against Humanity.

The next morning involved another sleep-in.  Once we eventually got moving, we headed to the Chutes Montmorency, a beautiful half-frozen waterfall a ten-minute drive from where we were staying. It was just as cold that day, so you’ll have to excuse me if I didn’t risk getting frostbitten fingers to take pictures, if only to keep my typing skills (and by extension, this blog) intact. Here’s a stock photo instead:

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Source: quebecvacances.com

Luckily, my husband has heartier fingers than I do (or what is known as “man hands” in our household) and was able to doff his gloves momentarily to snap this lovely selfie.

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As some of you may recall, the Sunday of the long weekend was Valentine’s Day. And since we had just celebrated our “real” 8-year anniversary (real because it commemorates when we became a couple, not our wedding, and is therefore really where it all began), a nice dinner out was in order. Quebec City has an excellent selection of nice restaurants, so after getting a few recommendations from a friend, we finally settled on Chez Boulay.

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Cocktail hour with friends

We started off with some cocktails. They had some very interesting concoctions, and I of course chose something with a local sparkling wine in it, seeing as the restaurant’s mandate is to offer traditional nordic fare using regional ingredients.

We ordered some appetizers to start: some bison tartare as well as the salmon tartare. We all chose our mains and my sommelier skills were going to be put to the test when choosing a bottle of wine to go with all four meals. We were ordering the following:

  • Confit goose and duck parmentier with scalloped parsnips, sautéed green cabbage, herb pesto with Labrador tea, cooking jus
  • North Atlantic scallops with cranberry powder, navy bean and leek ragout, cooking ju
  • Cod fillet, gaspesian broth infused with Kombu and smoked cod, potato purée with seaweed from Gaspésie, green onion emulsion
  • Pan seared milk-fed veal medallion from Quebec, liver meatloaf, fried jerusalem artichokes, brussel sprouts, gnocchi with black walnuts and mustard cream sauce

Are you drooling yet?

So what did I have to work with? Two dishes that traditionally paired with white (fish/shellfish) and two that generally went with red (red meat). Also, my fellow diners were in the mood for a white, so that was tipping the scales as well. Plus I wasn’t super familiar with many of the wines on their list, so I happily enlisted the help of our server, who suggested a versatile Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley from Henry Pellé.

I even discovered a new appellation I’d never heard of before: Menetou-Salon. It’s the one right next to Sancerre, home of perhaps the most famous French sauvignon blancs.

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Menetou-Salon, located right-dab in the middle of France

This bottle was so lovely that I didn’t care that I was drinking a white wine with my red meat (goose and duck – YUM). It was light-medium bodied with a lot of apple flavours. I also got a bit of pear and definitely a lot of citrus. You could also see the terroir coming through in the wine’s subtle minerality. It also had plenty of acidity, so it was great with all of our dishes. Everyone was happy (though I was maybe the only one who really cared about what we were drinking ;-)). I was even happier when I discovered that this wine is available across the river at the SAQ! But it looks like stocks are limited, and at the $24+ price point, I’m not sure that I will be trekking across the bridge solely for that bottle. However, with the 15% bulk discount offered at SAQ Depots, my arm could be twisted.

What bottle did you open for Valentine’s Day? Or simply to beat the cold? Whatever the bottle, and whatever the occasion, I hope it was a lovely one.

 

Happy wining!

 

 

 

 

White wine recommendations – from California to New Zealand

Hello fellow wine-lovers!

It’s been a while! The three of you who read this blog must be wondering what to drink this week. This week’s post will be focusing on white wines, so if white is your wine of choice, read on! If red is your preferred quaff, read on anyway and try something new this week! I have two excellent wines to recommend, for any budget!

  1. Big House WhiteBig House

A medium-bodied blend that is fairly complex considering it is an under-$10 bottle of wine. It’s rich and bright, all at the same time. At first, apricot and pineapple, which evolves into a refreshing and zippy citrus on the finish (due to a stainless steel fermentation). I always thought it was mainly a chardonnay-based blend, however it’s made of malvoisie, muscat and viognier, all lesser-known grape varieties. I had to look up the first one, since I was unsure what it was. According to wine expert Jancis Robinson:

A wide range of often unrelated varieties are called Malvoisie although most are light-berried and make full-bodied, aromatic white wines. Perhaps it is most commonly encountered, in the Loire, Savoie and Switzerland, as a synonym for Pinot Gris. The Languedoc’s Bourboulenc and Maccabéo, Roussillon’s Tourbat and Corsica’s Vermentino have all been called Malvoisie in their time, however.

Well that’s a bit confusing, though the “full-bodied, aromatic” bit explains why I always thought it was chardonnay.

The best part of this wine is the price. Recently discontinued at the LCBO, it is now available, while quantities last, for only $7.95. I know you’re probably already halfway out the door, but if you are in the National Capital Region, I must warn you that you’re probably out of luck. I already went on a wild goose chase trying to scoop up the last bottles, and only managed to snag three. Those of you in the GTA will have better luck. That said, Ottawans, don’t despair. You’ll be happy to hear that the Big House is available at the SAQ, though the price is double the discontinued LCBO price. Plus, if the 750 mL format is not enough for you, there is a 3L box available. Perhaps something to keep in mind for your next Christmas dinner…

2. Auntsfield Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($20.95)


When my husband doesn’t know what to get me for my birthday, he buys me wine. He knows that the way into a wine snob’s heart is through her palate. This bottle was part of my lovely birthday present this year. New Zealand sauvignon blancs are very popular in our household. I’ve already mentioned our love of Kim Crawford (both the unoaked chardonnay and pinot noir), and the sauvignon blanc was probably the wine that started my snobbery in the first place. Both the Kim Crawford and the Auntsfield are from the Marlborough region in New Zealand.

Let’s take a minute to talk about “terroir”. These are the geographical, environmental and climatic elements that allow the same grape grown in two different places to make two completely distinct wines. We’re talking about soil types, hours of sun in a day, amount of precipitation, type of terrain, etc. Marlborough sauvignon blancs tend to be very distinct in relation to their counterparts from other countries. And this Auntsfield serves as an excellent benchmark.

Auntsfield Tasting Note

Nose: Very grassy and fresh, with tropical fruit aromas like passion fruit. Essence of pear, and some minerality. Also, the smell is irresistible. I just wanted to keep smelling it.

Flavour: Similar to the nose, so again, very grassy, with tropical fruit, this time, more pineapple than passion fruit. Lemon. Asparagus flavours or canned peas, pear with a hint of white flower.

Body: Light-bodied. So acidic it almost feels effervescent at first sip.

Finish: Fairly long citrus finish considering the acidity, which would normally eliminate the flavours on the palate fairly quickly.

Food pairing: White fish, seafood, buttery/creamy pasta.

This is all very typical of a Marlbourough sauv blanc. These wines are often identifiable just by their aroma, which is very addictive for me. If the asparagus or grassy flavours sound unappealing, rest assured that the tropical fruit and citrus flavours balance them out nicely. Just trust me on this one and try it. You’ll be hooked at first smell.

[On a side note, the above is an example of my tasting note, in case you are interested. Tasting notes vary from person to person, but these are the main elements to take note of when tasting a wine. The food pairing is a bonus.]
Lastly, as a parting gift for those of you who, like us, have a ton of leftover Halloween candy today, here is a helpful chart from Vivino:

Happy wining!