by Don Cook
Over the last two decades, I have been fortunate to have been a journeyman in the business of wine. My journey started in Ottawa where I trained as a Sommelier (Wine Expert) at Algonquin College and worked as a Sommelier at the Chateau Laurier (Wilfrid’s Grill). As well, I worked in wine retail at the Ottawa Chateau des Charmes Store. Since then, I have lived in Adelaide, Australia where I completed a Masters Degree in Wine Marketing, Sonoma County in California, Boston MA, the Veneto Region of Northern Italy and most recently in Seattle, Washington. I have worked in all facets of the wine trade including sales, marketing, export and education. My life is wine.
I have been asked to contribute a column on reviewing wine. All the wines I will review should be available in the local Almonte LCBO store. I plan to review 3 wines and will include food and wine pairings for you to try out. I would like to take you out of your comfort zone with regards to price, country of origin and grape varietals. I will review one Canadian wine and two imports – one from the old world (Europe) and one from the new world (USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa or South America). Please feel free to let me know if you have any comments about my reviews/ recommendations.
For my first column, I have selected 3 “Winter Red Wines” perfect for sub zero Canadian temperatures and will complement hardy, slow cooked foods for the home or cozy winter nights at cottage. Each wine is crafted from indigenous grape varietals, native to the region of the producer.
1) 2011 Henry of Pelham Baco Noir (LCBO code 270926 – $14.95). This red wine is made from the Canadian hybrid varietal Baco Noir. Henry of Pelham is a family-owned company run by the three Speck Brothers and the winery is located in Niagara, Ontario. The winery is focused on producing value wines grown around Niagara at every price point. The wine is very dark, almost black, and it is medium bodied wine full of ripe sweet dark fruit and spice, both on the nose and palate. It is full flavored yet easy to drink. I would recommend this wine with hard cheeses such aged cheddar, seasoned red meat, such as peppered grilled steak and fruit salad desserts with ripe berries.
2) 2011 Fifth Leg Old Dog New Tricks Western Australia Shiraz (LCBO code 281345 – $15.95). Shiraz is the Australian term for Syrah, which is a grape variety known for its incorporation in the reputed wines of the Rhone Valley of France. Produced by Devil’s Lair Winery in the Margaret River of Western Australia, this wine is full bodied and round, with aromas and flavors of red fruit and pepper spice. This wine could be paired with slow cooked or braised dished, such as baby back ribs or traditional meat lasagna.
3) Masi Campofiorin IGT (LCBO code 297655 – $18.95). This wine is also available in 375ml half bottles. This wine is produced from the Boscaini family winery dating back six generations. This wine is crafted from native red grapes including Corvina and is made using the Ripasso winemaking method. Ripasso is Italian for “repassed” – where red grapes are fermented over skins and seeds first used for making Amarone wine. The resulting wine has heightened flavors and complexity and higher alcohol levels compared to Valpolicella, the table wine of the region. It is full bodied, rich in aromas and flavours of red fruit (red plums) and spice (cinnamon). It is well structured with balanced tannins and acidity. I would recommend serving this wine with aged Italian cheese such as Pecorino and Parmesan, tomato or mushroom pasta dishes, risotto or slow cooked meat dishes like roasted lamb shanks.
I look forward with continued wine journeys with you.