Serendipitous Saturday Pairings: tilapia and chardonnay

As you know, I am in total denial that winter is here, so lately I have insisted on drinking summer-y wines, generally from the Southern Hemisphere. The sun sets at 4:30 these days, so you have to find ways to trick your body into not falling into a depression. Obviously, wine is the answer. Delicious food helps too. Put the two together and you can occasionally succeed in your anti-depressive measures.

This happened in a completely serendipitous way on Saturday night. Continue reading

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

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Am I dating myself with this flashback gif?

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Je vois la vie en rosé – part 2

Before reading on, be sure to read part 1 on rosé winemaking!!

If you’ve been to a liquor store in the last few months, you may have noticed a surge in rosés on display. Rosé is—for some reason—only a seasonal wine. It shows up on shelves in April and disappears by the end of the summer. This is why it is imperative to stock up if you find one you like. These wines are only made in limited quantities, so once a vintage is out of stock, that’s it. You probably won’t see it again until the spring of next year. That said, depending on how much you drink, you probably shouldn’t get a whole case—these wines are for immediate consumption and are not typically meant to be aged.

As promised, here are my Summer 2016 rosé recommendations!

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The perfect sailboat wine

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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!

 

 

 

 

Ripasso love

Fellow wine lovers,

Today I am very excited to be sharing one of my favourite wines styles with you. I often forget about it, but today’s bottle has served as a delicious reminder.

Ripasso wines are made in the Veneto region, which is the area in northeastern Italy between Verona and Venice.

The first step in making ripasso wines is making a valpolicella.  This table wine is made from three Italian grapes: corvina, rondinella and molinara.

The second step involves another wine called amarone. Amarone is made with the same grapes, however these grapes have been dried in a process called apassimento, whereby they are dried in the heat of the end of the summer, traditionally on straw mats.

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“Drying racks” by Tommasi

This process dries out the water and concentrates the amount of sugar in the grapes, which then yields a higher alcohol content during fermentation. Amarone is the wine created using these dried grapes, and is the crème de la crème of Italian wines. However, these bottles go for $30 and up, so are not always the most affordable choice. Ripassos (meaning re-passed), however, are a happy medium between the everyday valpolicella wines and the exhorbitantly priced amarones.

Ripasso is made by running valpolicella wines through the rich leftover amarone skins. This process adds body, texture and rich flavours to the valpolicella and makes for a consistently beautiful wine.

 

Breakdown of valpolicella wines c/o Wine Folly

Last Saturday night I made my special lasagna. It is special because I’ve adapted the recipe over time to meet my husband’s non-dairy needs. Instead of ricotta, I make my own tofu ricotta and I replace regular mozzarella with President’s Choice goat mozzarella. It’s pretty darned good, if I do say so myself. Because it was Saturday night and we didn’t have any other plans, I decided to choose a nice wine to accompany the meal. A standard rule of thumb for wine and food pairing is to go by geography, so for the lasagna, I decided to open the only bottle of Italian wine I had in the house: you guessed it, a ripasso.

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Farina “La Pezze” Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore DOC 2013

This medium ruby red was full of cherry, blackberry, raisin (from the amarone skins), cedar and menthol.  On the palate, the first thing I noticed was a juicy, mouthwatering acidity that makes you want to drink more!  This wine is medium bodied and surprisingly light in tannins. It’s got really nice fruit flavours like fresh respberry, blueberry, blackberry and cherry,  and is also heavy on the dried fruit (raisin and fig) as well as some nice refreshing mint. It finishes off with a  lovely medium-long cherry finish.

In conclusion, drink ripasso. This particular one, although much lighter than the benchmark ripasso, went extremely well with my lasagna. Sometimes goat cheese does funny things with red wines, particularly tannic ones, but this Farina ripasso’s medium body and fruit-forward character, not to mention high acidity, made it a perfect match. Don’t forget, wines with high acidity are great food wines, so this guy is a great food-friendly candidate that would make a great contribution to dinner parties. Plus now you have lots of fun ripasso facts to share with the other guests! And did I mention the price? In the valpolicella diagram above you will notice that the price range for ripasso starts at $20, so this one is a steal at $15.90!

BONUS: Again, I am ahead of the curve. This ripasso is now on sale at the LCBO until February 3 for $11.90!! That is a $4 savings! I tried to pick up a few bottles at my local store tonight but they said a guy had come in and bought their last 100 bottles earlier (!!). I guess that means I need to scour the city tomorrow for a case! The race is on folks. Get ’em while they’re hot! (I hope all the exclamation marks properly express the urgency of the situation).

 

Happy weekend and happy wining!