Baco Noir: A Grape to Call Our Own

Baco Noir: if you live and drink wine in Ontario, then seeing this on a wine label is probably not a curiousity. But, if you don’t live in a cool wine making region, then this hybrid grape has probably never passed your lips. A cross of Folle Blanche from western France (historically used to produce Cognac) and a Vitis Riparia vine indigenous to North America, Baco Noir grows happily in vineyards of Ontario and produces wine that is deserving of the glass. Typically a smoky, fruity, deeply coloured wine, it was once a mainstay in Niagara, before the arrival of […]

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L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah: Wine Value from Mexico

Frida and Diego, poinsettias and tequila, corn, salsa and home to many a winter vacation, these things may have you thinking of Mexico, but did you know that Mexico is also the birthplace of winemaking in the Americas?  In 1597 the first winery of the New World was established in Parras – which is in Central Mexico – with vines brought from Spain. Granted, the sandy soils and scorching temperatures proved to be less than ideal for a large wine industry and soon the focus moved to more conducive climes elsewhere, but today there is still a boutique wine industry […]

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Graciano: Unique Red Wine from Rioja, Spain

By Holly Bruns Hidden away in the vineyards of Rioja, amidst fields of the popular Tempranillo and Garnacha are ancient, as well as new vines of the hardly known red grape Graciano. Used as a blending grape for its intense colour and aroma, Graciano has historically played a supporting role in the wines of Spain. A difficult grape to grow – it is prone to disease and is low-yielding – it has been pulled up and abandoned by growers over the years particularly as international markets had demanded more Cabernet and Merlot. Thanks to a recent project in Rioja to […]

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Thalia Sauvignon Blanc: Light White Wine from Greece

By Holly Bruns Greece, you have given us so much: the Olympics, Homer and Socrates, tragedy and comedy, the beginnings of governmental process, and while you didn’t really give us wine, per say, you were definitely instrumental in passing it along to the Romans, who then passed it along to the French, who then passed it along to the New World, kai ta hetera. In a busy world where modern progress can blur our connection to the past it’s easy to forget about Greek wine. We see so little of it on our shelves here in Ontario. And indeed the […]

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Italy’s Verdicchio: A Country with a Grape for Everyone

By Holly Bruns It’s hard to believe that with hundreds of indigenous grapes, Italy is not the birthplace of winemaking. Thus far that credit goes to Georgia where along the slopes of the Caucasian Mountains, perhaps, there was one mother of a vine that gave life to the multitudes of grapes that now grow worldwide. When exactly Vitis Vinifera were transplanted to the Italian peninsula is not known exactly, but Greek traders back in 800 BC certainly helped the process along. Today, as the wine industry in Italy continues to go through a renaissance, the shelves of Pinot Grigio and […]

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A Rose of a Wine from Navan, Ontario

By: Holly Bruns Navan, Ontario is a small village in the Ottawa Valley. It’s an area of the world where the wind blows and temperatures drop to well below freezing in winter, but heat and humidity can bolster the thermometer to the mid-30s in summer. This is farming country and it’s an everyday agrarian landscape that greets the eye: rather flat with a few gently rolling hills, a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees, a patchwork of fields. But something is happening in those fields. It’s a slow event, and only discernible to those who are paying attention, but grapevines […]

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Vinho Verde, Portugal: White Wine for Summer Refreshment

By Holly Bruns Every year, sometime between the moderate temperatures of spring and the humid heat of summer, I begin to develop a crush on the white Vinho Verde wines from the Minho region of Portugal. Their easy-going qualities and low alcohol make them perfect for alleviating the heat on those hazy, lazy afternoons. Vinho Verde means green wine, named thusly not because the wine is green, but because it is made to be enjoyed while young. It’s possible however, that the lush, fertile countryside where the vines grow is inspiration for the colourful moniker. Minho is in the north […]

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Cabernet Sauvignon from Romania’s Dealu Mare Winemaking Region

By Holly Bruns It’s not nomenclature for exotic breeds of horses, nor is it an exotic card game, Dealu Mare is a winemaking region in Romania known for producing red wines. When thinking of Romania, rows of grape vines might not be the first thing that comes to mind – Transylvania and Count Dracula maybe, Communist rule, or the Romani people perhaps – but Romania happens to be the world’s ninth largest wine producer. With a winemaking tradition that dates back some four thousand years, Romanians were drinking wine when most of Europe was not. This might have something to […]

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Arneis: White Wine with a Past but Little Known as a Grape Today

Nod To The Odd: Arneis By Holly Bruns A memory can rest, tucked away, until suddenly, in an instant, something unlocks it. It might be a certain song that brings back the high school gym and that first dance, it may be the scene of a particular vista that triggers thoughts of a time and place long gone, or a particular aroma may work to capture a feeling of the past. A few years ago, after a long, leisurely lunch, I tried a sip from a bottle of Arneis. At the time it reminded me of an arboreal landscape, pine […]

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