A Vine Celebration: The 120th Anniversary of Nino Negri Wines

In October, I traveled to Italy with great excitement to participate in Nino Negri’s 120th Anniversary celebration.  As I drove through the historic wine region of Valtellina, I was captivated by its breathtaking beauty and eager to participate in this year’s wine harvest. Valtellina is a serene valley at the foot of the Lombardy Alps, on the Italian-Swiss border. The “vine”, the heart of this difficult mountainous terrain, has found perfect growing conditions here. The vineyards are protected by two high mountain chains, the Retiche Alps and the Orobie Pre-Alps. Exposure to the sun at high altitude, as well as a significant […]

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New Zealand Wine: An Unexpectorated Journey

Awatere River vineyards Photo: David Skinner   By David Skinner When Peter Jackson decided upon his native New Zealand to serve as middle earth for his rendering of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, nationalistic nepotism served him less than the splendor of the rich and varied landscapes found in his home islands. The films depicted rugged terrain and lands carved from the mountains by the relentless influence of wind and water and there is still a sense of that primal constitution to the landscapes that now support modern viticulture in the “Shaky Isles”. Marlborough The South Island […]

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Fontanafredda Makes a Barolo for Every Palate

Fontanafredda Vineyard Priya & Alex, A Vine Romance It was a whirlwind visit for Danilo Drocco, winemaker at Fontanafredda in Barolo, Italy. He swept into Toronto for a lunch and dinner, only to rush back to the vineyard the following morning as they are deep into harvest season and as he said, “My job is to talk about Nebbiolo, but more importantly, to make Nebbiolo.” Alex was especially thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down with Danilo as the 1974 Barolo was the first ‘big’ (read “expensive”) bottle of wine he had ever purchased as a gift for his father. […]

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Niagara Wine Pioneer Reif Estate Winery Video Tasting

Last night, we were joined by special guest Klaus Reif, Head Winemaker and Owner of Reif Winery, who chatted about making wine in Niagara and his vision for Ontario wines. Click on the arrow above to watch the video. What an amazing conversion last night! Klaus’ audio is fixed after 4 minutes, so hang in ;) Klaus shared some wonderful stories about when he first made #wine at age 10 and (hid the bottles behind some bottles in his father’s winery), and then at age 24 making a new style that upset his uncle and then won an award at […]

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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 two months 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 loose 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 life has […]

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Surprising Pairings for Villa Maria Wines from Antipasto to Steak

Canada’s top wine writers and sommeliers gathered in the nation’s capital for a comprehensive tasting of Villa Maria wines from New Zealand.   Terry Jeans Wine Writer, Ottawa Wine Guide   What an elaborate tasting! We had the chance to have an amazing tasting with one of the viticulturists from Villa Maria– Ollie Powrie, who presented us with an insightful session of tasting over a dozen wines from one of the only New Zealand owned and family operated wineries. Founded and owned by the venerated Sir George Fistonich, a real icon of the wine industry, who has been part of […]

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7 Secrets about Prosecco Sparkling Wine that you don’t know but should

By Rebecca Meïr- Liebman of Chef & Somm As New Year’s Eve approaches our thoughts turn to bubbles, after all, for pure joie de vivre, there’s nothing like a flute of sparkling wine. Invariably, Champagne comes to mind, but good luck finding a decent bottle for under $40. Hey, if you can spring for a Jeroboam of Armand de Brignac Gold at $2,239 a pop, go for it, but for the rest of us, the search for something of decent quality and good value continues. Prosecco to the Rescue Often thought of as merely a cheap and cheerful alternative to Champagne […]

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Sex in a Glass: Getting up Close and Personal with Pinot Noir

By Rebecca Meïr- Liebman of Chef & Somm “Pinot Noir is like young love,” opined my private sommelier client in his luxurious house in Muskoka as I pulled the cork on a Romanée-Conti.  “You do not know what to expect, but it will always make the blood run hot; either melt your heart or break it, sometimes even both.” Pinot Noir has been described in many ways. Master Sommelier Madeline Triffon went so far as to call it “sex in a glass”. So what is it about this grape – a variety also known as the heartbreak grape – that inspires […]

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The Makeover Miracle of Israeli Wines: Finding New Life in the Desert

  By Rebecca Meïr- Liebman of Chef & Somm Some of the most brilliant minds come from Israel. Their creative thinking often challenges what many see as unchanging truths. The USB flash drive, GPS, WIX, and Solaris Synergy were all invented in Israel. Lucky for us, some of those creative minds are hard at work in Israel’s burgeoning winemaking industry, leading recently to substantial gains in quality and complexity. More and more Israeli wine professionals are traveling to Europe to learn from leading winemakers and educate and expand their palates. And, on a quest for the ultimate expression of Israeli […]

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Red, White and Blue Rodeo: Jim Cuddy launches his own Wine with Tawse Winery

  Jim Cuddy, lead singer and guitarist of the band Blue Rodeo, didn’t grow up in a wine-drinking family. In fact, his first alcoholic drink of choice was beer. “When you start playing in bars, you get paid in beer,” Cuddy explains. “At first, I was excited: free beer! But after five years, I couldn’t take any more beer. That’s when I got into wine.” And into it he is. Cuddy has partnered with Niagara’s Tawse Winery to create a new wine brand, Cuddy by Tawse. “Moray and Joanne Tawse are friends of mine,” Cuddy says. “I had played at their winery […]

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