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A Luscious Portuguese Red for a Winter’s Night

A Luscious Portuguese Red for a Winter’s Night

Portugal’s claim to fame in the wine world has historically been tied to the production of one of the world’s classic dessert wines. And then, of course, there was Mateus and Vinho Verde my entry level introduction to wine like many others during my university years. But in the past few decades the improved quality of Portuguese table wines has served notice that they have arrived with a big bang on the world stage. Modernization of winemaking techniques has left the foot stomping behind producing better quality and more consistent results. The first wave saw Port winemakers in the Douro vineyards simply using the same grapes that they used to make Port and transforming them into high octane table wines. This jump started a movement that spread to other historic wine regions in Portugal. The wine that I am recommending this week has an unorthodox mixture of grape varieties and comes from Alentejo-Portugal’s biggest grape growing region in the south-east of the country bordering Spain.

This region also supplies about half of the world’s supply of cork.

This wine currently featured in your LCBO Vintages section is robust and concentrated with flavours of black fruit, dark chocolate and raspberries. The grapes are Syrah, Cabernet and Alicante Bouschet-a Grenache clone. Checking in at 14.5% alcohol, aged in French oak and coming in at just a little less than $16:00 this is a great opportunity for you to expand your palate. Works well with spicy chicken or a rich stew.

Malivoire Gamay vs Cru Beaujolais

Malivoire Gamay vs Cru Beaujolais

This time of year brings thoughts of Vendage and the grape harvest in Beaujolais in the Burgundian vineyards of France. While the celebration of Beaujolais Nouveau has lost its’ lustre as a marketing juggernaut it still remains the most famous celebration of grape picking and early fermentation in the world.

The grape in question is Gamay and in Burgundy the top Beaujolais are represented by 10 “Crus” “or designated wine growing regions. Each one has a distinctive character based on its’s terroir and the skills and stylistic intentions of the winemakers.

The Niagara wine region in Ontario in its own young grape growing history has always cultivated the grapes of Burgundy: Chardonnay, Aligote, Pinot Noir and Gamay.

I thought it would be interesting to compare a locally grown Gamay from our wine list with the best: A Cru Beaujolais. In this case I chose as our candidates for a blind tasting comparison a Gamay from Malivoire in Niagara and a Cru Beaujolais- a Brouilly from the “King of Beaujolais” winemaker Georges Dubouef.

I drafted my Saturday night serving crew for the tasting.

I chose a Brouilly as my Beaujolais example because it is somewhere in the middle of the 10 Crus in terms of body, power and flavour.

The typical flavour profile of a Cru Beaujolais is this:

Light to medium bodied, fragrant, nose of cranberries, raspberries, and violets with a touch of that unmistakeable Burgundian earthy nose.

Well in terms of preferences the taste contest turned out to be a tie.

My preference was actually the Brouilly-a bit denser, and darker but the mere fact that a Niagara Gamay held its’ own against a Beaujolais Cru is worth noting.

Also the bottle of Malivoire was 3 dollars cheaper ($15.00) than the Brouilly .

Do not be afraid to chill your Gamay or Beaujolais for 20 minutes to bring out the flavours.

Follow this link for more information about Cru Beaujolais.

A Spring Gem from the Loire Valley

A Spring Gem from the Loire Valley

If this Blog were to have a Mission Statement (well it does now) it would be to share little wine discoveries past and present. Sometimes when you veer off the beaten path of your wine comfort zone you find a little gem. Safe to say when we think of the classic wine regions of France Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Cotes du Rhone are foremost in our thoughts. But the unofficial Vin de Pays wines that French consumers are drawn to say in the bistros of Paris are more than likely to come from the Loire Valley. Why? Because the Loire is home to some of France’s best well-made value wines red and white. Yes the Loire is renowned for some iconic whites that are on the expensive side such as (Sancerre, Pouilly Fume-made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes and Savenierres made from Chenin Blanc grapes. For the value conscious consumer look for reds from Bourgueil and Chinon-made from Cabernet Franc grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon’s more visceral cousin).

But the bottle that kick started this piece was at terrific little wine from a sub region of a sub region in the Loire called Saumur. It is made from Chenin Blanc grapes and has lovely nuances of quince, chamomile, honey, cream and citrus.

Nice fruit with a crisp dry finish.

It is called Moulins de Turquant about $18.00 in the Vintages section of the LCBO. It’s a real authentic taste of France from an off the beaten path part of France.