Second Chance: Austrian wine is back and better than ever

By Rebecca Meïr- Liebman Chef & Somm Austria is a little gem in the heart of Europe, with a population of only 8.7 million. The country finds itself being surrounded by countries either without an instantly recognizable wine culture – Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic – or by contrast, ones with world-famous, longstanding wine cultures: Italy, Germany, and to a lesser extent, Hungary. This little powerhouse is fighting to get the recognition it deserves. It hasn’t been easy. For starters, their wine production is extremely small – their entire vineyard area is less than a half the size of France’s Bordeaux […]

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A Wine Waltz through Austria’s Weinviertel Region

By Rebecca Meïr-Liebman of Chef & Somm In North America, many of us are entranced by commercialism, shopping, the latest must-have piece of tech, and novelty. Sometimes, it feels as if we’ve lost touch with our history and our past. This is especially true you have an opportunity to compare and contrast our values with those of another culture, as I have recently. Then you gain insight into a culture that very much holds on to, and celebrates, its history, music, art and architecture, fashion and food. This contrast became vivid when I visited Austria, courtesy of the Austrian Wine […]

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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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The Secret to Sauvignon Blanc Wine? (Video)

Leanne and I had great fun chatting about Sauvignon Blanc on CTV as a lead up to Sauvignon Blanc Day May 4. You can watch the video segment above by clicking on the arrow. You can also watch our second wine video.         Santa Rita Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Casablanca Valley, Chile                 Sacred Hill Wine Company Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough, New Zealand                 Santa Rita 120 Reserva Especial Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Central Valley, Chile                 […]

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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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Frothy Tales from the Vino in Villa Festival: A Primer on Prosecco

By Jacky Blisson In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Prosecco sales skyrocketed internationally. The popular explanation was that Champagne drinkers were trading down to accommodate shrinking wallets. This may have been a key factor spurring the initial upswing, but Prosecco sales continue to soar, unmatched by other non-Champagne sparkling wines. Many attribute Prosecco’s long term success to its vibrantly fruity and uncomplicated style. Others suggest that the refreshingly low alcohol, typically a modest 11 to 11.5%, is the main appeal. Yet this seems an to be over simplistic analysis. It fails to take into account the incredible expression […]

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Tasting Trapiche Wines from the Mountaintop to the Skytop

  Recently, Canada’s top wine writers and sommeliers gathered in the nation’s capital for a portfolio tasting with Sergio Case, head winemaker with Trapiche Winery in Argentina. Not only did he take us through a spectacular lineup of upcoming releases, but the event was also hosted at Ottawa’s newest event space, the glass-encased ballroom in the sky on the 22nd floor of the Westin Hotel. It’s a 3,200 square foot ballroom with a 270 degree view of downtown Ottawa, the Parliament buildings, the Ottawa River, and the Gatineau Hills, with the leaves starting to turn colour. You can watch the entire […]

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Oregon’s Path to Pinot Perfection (and beyond)

By David Skinner Nearly 15 million years ago, nature exploded in a maelstrom of chaos that cast a blanket of molten rock upon the marine-rich land where a receding ocean once lay. As the newly born volcanic terrain matured, the hillsides softened and westerly flowing flood waters receded enrobing the land in nutrient-rich soil. It would take until 1965 for winemakers to begin transforming the gentle slopes of the Willamette Valley from woodlands to the now familiar landscape lined with rows of vines eager to yield some of the best quality vinifera grapes anywhere. Since then, more than a dozen […]

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Natural Born Beauty in a Bottle: Wachau Wine

By Rebecca Meïr-Liebman of Chef & Somm One of the most wonderful aspects of wine is that it allows us to travel the world without leaving home. From anywhere in the world, we can taste the terroir of Bordeaux, Sonoma, or the Mosel, especially when we successfully pair the cuisine of a particular region with its wine. But can we truly grasp the complexity of a wine and its terroir without actually going there, without touching the land, breathing the air and getting to know the regions’ style, tradition, and philosophy? At the risk of coming off as elitist, I […]

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