wine barrels amd winemaking equipment in Montepulciano, ItalyBy Tania Thomas

Fall has definitely arrived to the West Coast of Canada. After an incredibly warm and sunny summer, the rain has returned to Vancouver. The air is cool and heavy with moisture; it is the perfect time to cozy up by the fire and enjoy some hearty comfort food, good friends and smooth, velvety reds.

Arrival of fall also signals the beginning of the celebratory season and every celebration, big or small, calls for some bubbles. Sparkling wine has been an undeniable celebratory drink over the ages. Stylish and chic, fizz has been associated with fun since the middle ages.  With its “uplifting” effect, it delivers smooth, seductive bubbles exploding on the tongue in a frothy array of fruity, brioche like goodness.

To stock up on both for the fall and winter, make a trip to the wine store and visit the aisles of Italy. They come with a great variety of soothing winter reds, as well as some classic Moscato based sparklers hailing from Piedmont region in northern Italy.

Italian wine tasting signA few weeks ago, I had a great pleasure of attending an exclusive tasting of over 40 rare and premium wines from Empson Wines Canada and Artisan Wines portfolios at Tableau Bar Bistro downtown Vancouver.  The most impressive line up of fine Italian wine “lifted” my spirit, warmed up my soul and got me thinking of the upcoming Thanksgiving feast. Here are my favourite five for the upcoming season for both white and red wine lovers:

1. BellaVista Franciacorta Cuvée Brut

This lively sparkler comes from Franciacorta, one of the Italy’s newest areas for production of top-quality wines in northern region of Lombardy.  It is made in a Traditional Method with approx 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Nero/Pinot Bianco grapes. This is a very nicely balanced, elegant wine with a persistent fine mousse. It delivers bouquet of white flowers, ripe pears and vanilla brioche followed by a long, tangy finish.  Definite reason to celebrate ……anything!!

2. Canella Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG

Made with 100% Prosecco grapes in the northern Italian region of Veneto, this fruity sparkler with persistent, lively bubbles is sure to please.  It delivers lively aromas of peach, apple, pear and citrus. Nicely balanced palate with crisp acidity and a hint of sweetness. Best served as a delicious and refreshing aperitif or accompanied by a bite (or two) of caviar for a special occasion.

3. Jermann Vinnae Ribolla Gialla IGT

This delicious white made with Tocai Friuliano and Riesling Renano grapes, comes from the northern Italian region of Friuli. It has a brilliant straw yellow colour, aromas of stone fruit and a touch of minerality.  Full flavoured, dry and fresh with crisp acidity, it makes for a delicious aperitif or a great match to seafood starters. Over the Holidays, pair it with a Shrimp Bisque at a New England style Thanksgiving Dinner.

4. Speri “Sant’Urbano” Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2008

This is an extraordinary wine with great complexity and elegance. Made in the Veneto region of Italy with Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Corvinone grapes. Carefully selected best bunches from the prestigious Monte Sain’Urbano vineyards are dried for four months losing about 40% of initial weight. This created a wine with great structure, deep red color and intense bouquet with spicy aromatic and jammy notes of ripe black cherry, tobacco, smoke and leather.  It has a rich palate and an impressive, soft and velvety finish.  This is a truly special wine; curl by the fire, take a long sip and let all your worries melt away ………

5. Marcarini Barolo “Brunate” DOCG

This stunning Barolo hails from the hills on Piedmont; it is made with 100% Nebbiolo grape. It delivers intense aromas of forest fruit, sage leaves, licorice and sweet spice with a hint of vanilla and tobacco on a long, persistent velvety finish. Originally part of the Savoy Kingdom, piemontese cuisine is rich and earthy. Elevate your sipping experience to another level and pair this lovely red with a rich game dish or a wild mushroom risotto with truffles.

Enjoy the season whether the weather outside is frightful or not!
Cin, cin!!

Tania Thomas

From a very young age, Tania helped with picking grapes in her family’s Slavonia vineyards; home of (slavonian oak) as well as with winemaking. Later, she lived abroad in London, England, Milan and Venice, Italy and explored the food and wine cultures while also traveling extensively throughout Europe.Empson Canada

While living in Toronto, Tania completed studies with the International Sommelier Guild.  She continued her wine education with the prestigious, internationally recognized Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), based in London, England, and in 2007, received the WSET Level 3,  Advanced Certificate in Wine and Spirits.

In March 2013, Tania was awarded with a Certified Specialist of Wine designation by The Society of Wine Educators, based in Washington, DC, and is currently preparing for their Certified Wine Educator exam.

Tania has since started her own business and offers sommelier services, consulting and wine tastings via RunawayGrape Guided Gourmet Food & Wine Tastings.