Organic Wine: What is it? Toast Earth Day with Wine, Naturally

By Natalie MacLean Earth Hour has passed, and Earth Day is almost upon us. Naturally, you might think about pouring yourself a glass of organic wine on April 22. But what is organic wine and how is it different from “inorganic wine”? Back in the 1970s, the concept of “organic wine” conjured up images of pony-tailed vintners in tie-dyed T-shirts, producing wines more for ideology than taste. Thankfully, those days are just a watery memory now. Today, organic wines are no longer just for health nuts and tree-huggers. Wine lovers drink them for their quality. They’ve gone mainstream and represent […]

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Organic Wine v Biodynamic Wine v Sustainable Farming: Differences?

By Natalie MacLean Why farm organically? Many winemakers consider the approach as part of their overall commitment to quality. Organic farming requires a much deeper understanding of the vineyard and a greater vigilance over it. Problems must be detected early because organic fixes take longer. Another benefit is the social responsibility for winery workers’ health and not exposing them to toxic chemicals. What are the environmental benefits? Many wineries have locked horns with environmentalists and local residents over the issue of deforesting the land in order to plant vineyards. Hillsides are a flash point. Winemakers know that vineyards on slopes […]

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Sommelier Loves Pairing Wine with PEI Shellfish and Seafood

Lesley Quinn, Sommelier, Sim’s Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar in Charlottetown, PEI Was wine a part of your family’s meals when you were young? I grew up in a small farming community on Prince Edward Island, with two older brothers. Wine wasn’t a part of our meals at home. However, my mother worked in the tourism industry, and she was host to journalists from around the world. She’d take me with her to meals with them, and it was during one of those dinners, that I had my first sip of wine. Apparently, I described it as tasting like sour grape juice. What […]

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What is Wine’s Role in Modern Madness? Finding Our Humanity Drop by Drop

Editor’s Note: I wrote this magazine piece on wine and civility 13 years ago, after 9/11. However, the search for civility in everyday life has more resonance than ever, with the riots in Ferguson, ISIS, Jian Ghomeshi, Gamergate, unfettered consumerism, and the mysogenous micro-aggressions that women face daily on social media. I welcome your thoughts here: never lose is your voice. In Vino Civilitatis The trouble with moderation is that it’s hard to get excited about it. Until now. After September 11, moderation seems to be rarer than a California cult cabernet. Finding the moderate and the civilized in everyday […]

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Bring on the Beaujolais! A Young Red Wine is Centre of Attention each November

Carol Anne and I chat about this year’s beaujolais nouveau in the video above. Catch our second video chat about more easy-drinking red wines for the holidays that aren’t nouveau. Here are my reviews and ratings of the 2014 Beaujolais Nouveau wines, French Primeur, Italian Novellos and Canadian nouveau-style wines: The Fool Reif Estate Gamay Nouveau VQA, Ontario The Hanging Man Reif Estate Kerner Nouveau VQA, Ontario Art’s Beaujolais Primeur Nouveau, France Catalans Primeur Syrah Merlot, France Negrar Novello Del Veneto, Italy Tollo Novello Rosso Terre di Chieti, Italy Mommessin Beaujolais Nouveau, France Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages Nouveau, France George […]

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Villa Maria Stays True to its Roots: New Zealand Winery Focuses on the Field

Villa Maria By Julia Kelada Often, decanting a wine for an hour gives it time to breathe and reveal its true character. That was exactly the time I was fortunate to spend recently talking with Sir George Fistonich, founder and owner of Villa Maria Wines in New Zealand, who has been making wines for more than 50 years. Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Private Bin Pinot Gris 2013 Private Bin Pinot Noir 2011 Cellar selection Pinot Noir 2010 Private Bin Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2010 Although I had researched a long list […]

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Argentina’s Wine Visionary Sees the Future Rooted in the Past

Continued from Part 4 of Argentine Wine The 1982 Falklands War with Britain also didn’t help the economy or exports. Then there was hyper-inflation that exceeded 3,000 percent a month, which discouraged foreign investment. Vintners made up for the lost revenue by producing high volumes of poor-quality wines that smelled like bananas rotting in an attic. Meanwhile, neighboring Chile’s economy was much more stable and the country was already producing more wine than it could consume, so it was focused on export in the 1980s. Chile took advantage of this to position itself at the very low end of the […]

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10 Best Moscato d’Asti Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Moscato d’Asti

Moscato d’Asti is a fragrant and slightly fizzy DOCG dessert wine produced in the Northern Italian region of Piedmont. You’ll find my most recent Moscato d’Asti reviews and ratings here. Surprising Facts about Moscato d’Asti: Moscato d’Asti is produced from the Moscato Bianco (white Muscat) grape in and around the town of Asti. The hub of Asti production being the tiny village of Canelli. Moscato Bianco is the fourth most planted grape in Italy and perhaps the first cultivated vine in Piedmont. Moscato d’Asti is often mentioned in the company of its relative wine Asti. The two have many differences. […]

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10 Best Zinfandel Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Zinfandel

Zinfandel is a vitis vinifera red wine grape that produces deep robust wines, most famously from California. You’ll find my most recent Zinfandel reviews and ratings here. Surprising Facts about Zinfandel: 1. Zinfandel’s high sugar content means it can be fermented into highly alcoholic wines sometimes in excess of 15%.  Zinfandel is generally early ripening as compared to other grapes and grows in very tight bunches. These tight bunches are prone to bunch rot and uneven ripening. Zinfandel grows best in warm climates but there is cool climate Zinfandel. 2. The origin of Zinfandel seems to be Croatia where Zinfandel […]

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10 Best Ripasso Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Ripasso

Ripasso is not a grape variety, but rather a winemaking process, made famous in Italy. This sends the wine into a second fermentation and gives the wine more tannins, body, flavour, and alcohol. You’ll find my top 10 Ripasso reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Ripasso: 1. The wine of Valpolicella, made from a combination of native Italian grapes most commonly Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, is re-passed over the leftover grape skins and seeds of the wine, also known as its pomace. 2. Some refer to the Ripasso style of wine as a “baby amarone,” more powerful than […]

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