September/October 2013 – Wine Maven

PaulHobbsRusionRiverWines from the Paul Hobbs estate near Sebastopol in northern California can be hard to find, highly sought after by collectors worldwide. Which is what makes the appearance of the Russian River Chardonnay and Pinot Noir such a treat. The wines are patiently made using native yeasts, French oak and are unfined and unfiltered. Both would be wonderful with holiday turkey or could be squirreled away for a year or two.

The Pinot Noir has an appealingly juicy texture, with sweet red raspberry flavours and a subtle citrusy tangerine back beat. The oak is understated as are the ripe tannins and there is some tangy spice in the aftertaste.

The Chard will appeal to those looking for slightly nutty, buttered popcorn and ripe fruit flavours (apple, pear tart and some tropical). Its lemon cream texture is rich without being cloying and has enough ooomph to pull together the mishmash of turkey, Brussels, roasted squash, potatoes and gravy of a typical Thanksgiving dinner into something resembling harmony.

Bellerucherouge2009Rhone wine producer Chapoutier started putting Braille on their labels in 1996 to honour Maurice de La Sizeranne, a native son of Tain. Sizeranne created modern Braille, and in a more personal connection was the former owner of the vineyard that produces the grapes for Chapoutier’s Hermitage Monier de la Sizeranne. Their agent, Pacific Wine and Spirits, wanted to deepen the connection, and came up with the idea to support the training of guide dogs (

Future guide dog, Bella.
Future guide dog, Bella.

Did you know that it costs close to $40,000 to raise a guide dog? This will help: 50 cents from every bottle of Chapoutier’s Belleruche and Bila Haut wines sold during the month of October will go to assist puppies like Bella become guide dogs. Look for these wines at fine wine shops or find through the Liquor Connect product search at

The 2013 Edmonton Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival brings its signature easy-going social atmosphere to the Shaw Conference Centre October 25 and 26. A superb selection of wines, spirits, and craft beer, along with dishes from the city’s top restaurants and chefs and expert cheese tastings with the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Don’t be disappointed, take advantage of early bird prices until
September 20.

Dr. Ernie Loosen, co-founder of Riesling Rendezvous with Tomato web manager Amanda LeNeve.
Dr. Ernie Loosen, co-founder of Riesling Rendezvous with The Tomato web manager/copy editor Amanda LeNeve.

Canada’s Cave Spring, Mission Hill, Tantalus (and Cedar Creek winemaker Darryl Brooker) were at this summer’s Riesling Rendezvous, along with wines from Idaho, Washington, Oregon, the Finger Lakes, Michigan, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Australia and New Zealand. It was an amazing opportunity to taste fine wines with their winemakers over two days at Chateau Ste. Michelle. A highlight was chatting with the very approachable Dr. Ernie Loosen, co-founder of the event.

“For a wine geek, meeting Dr. Loosen was kind of like meeting royalty,” says Amanda LeNeve, attendee and The Tomato copy editor. “You read about him in books and taste his Rieslings in class to best understand what German Riesling tastes like. So, it was an honour to meet him in person, to get the chance to taste many of his beautiful Rieslings and hear what he had to say about them. He’s a trailblazer.“