Wine Maven: Drink Sherry this Season

Wine producers  from Spain, Italy, France and the Okanagan share their latest vintages with us. Plus all the happenings of the season in the Maven Calendar.

by Mary Bailey

Patrizio Torres and Christopher Canale-Parola of Gonzáles Byass at Wishbone
Patrizio Torres and Christopher Canale-Parola of Gonzáles Byass at Wishbone

“Sherry starts where other wines end,” says Christopher Canale-Parola of González Byass. He’s referring to the age old Sherry practices of fortification, then aging in the dynamic Solera system.

So few wines have the versatility and practicality of Sherry. I love a glass of delicate and bracing Tio Pepe Fino instead of a glass of wine before dinner — there is no pressure to finish the bottle, back in the fridge door it goes. You can drink it over a few days. Have people over for Apostoles Palo Cortado (dry, with citrus and mineral notes, elegant and aromatic) and a cheese board or have a sweeter style such as the Nutty Solera or Del Duque Amontillado with dessert — nutty, savoury, delicious.

New to our market is the Tio Pepe en Rama, bottled unfined and unfiltered, incredibly direct, earthy, with a warm savoury finish (drink with the Conservas de Cambados seafood on page 22) and the specially selected, aged Palma Series possessing depth, elegance and concentration. Shaun Hicks of Wishbone is a big Sherry fan and has several on the Wishbone list. Bar Clementine is the other place to find good Sherry.

Beppe Pinna at The Marc
Beppe Pinna at The Marc

The delightful Beppe Pinna of Sardinia’s Argiolas Winery visited in October. The wines are so drinkable and fun, from the Costamolino Vermentino, a little salty and quaffable with or without food to the more weighty and serious Korem, on the list at Uccellino, made with the indigenous Bovale Sardo grape, as well as Cannonau (Grenache) and Carignano.

Always keep Taittinger in mind for the hols — the Brut Reserve with its creamy mouuse and lemony elegance, probably the best quality bubbs in its price range. There’s also the Nocturne in a cheeky, glow-in-the dark bottle. It’s slightly sweeter, something Mikael Falkman describes as late night Champagne. We’ll drink to that.

Matt Jammes (Lorgeril, Langedoc) and Anne-Charlotte Bachas (Font du Loup, CdP) outside The Marc
Matt Jammes (Lorgeril, Languedoc) and Anne-Charlotte Bachas (Font du Loup, CdP) outside The Marc

“It’s like your wedding dress. It may take ages to find it, but when you see it you know it’s the one.” Anne-Charlotte Bachas of Châteauneuf-du-Pape estate Château de la Font du Loup is talking about blending, when she knows the wine is ready.

Font du Loup, a one hundred year-old family estate, is in the northern part of the region, near Vieux Télégraphe. (The font in question is the spring where wolves would drink after coming down Mont Ventoux.) Anne-Charlotte is the fourth winemaker (first woman) in the family. We tasted the refreshing Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, the fresh, accessible and ready to drink Côtes du Rhône and the elegant Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

At the same lunch we tasted more delicious wines from the south of France, the Cuvée Altitude wines from Domain de la Borie Blanche in Minervois La Livinière; Château de Ciffre (Faugères and Saint-Chinian); Le Mas des Montagnes (Côtes du Roussillon) and a fragrant rosé and red from the home estate, Château de Pennautier in Cabardès. Matt Jammes, responsible for the Lorgeril portfolio, explained that the family had purchased the estates over the past decade. All were terrific quality for the price.


Tinhorn Creek has just released their new flagship, The Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot and Cabernet Franc. “In the three vintages I have been able to work with at Tinhorn, the Cabernet Sauvignon has been a great stand-alone variety, allowing us to make this grape the driving force behind The Creek,” says winemaker Andrew Windsor. Tasted at the Tinhorn Crush Club dinner at Canteen recently, the Creek is a lovely wine with bright fruit and silky tannins, a little understated right now. Put in the cellar for five or so years and be rewarded.

Event Calendar

Saturday, November 4
Ultimate Port Dinner, $80+, Packrat Louie,

Saturday, November 4
Spier Wine Farm Dinner, $125, Wildflower Grill,

Sunday, November 5
Château Viranel Winemaker Dinner, $110, The Marc, 780-429-2828

Tuesday, November 7
Beaujolais Cru tasting with Aure’lien Fiardet, Terroirs Originel,
$30, Hicks Fine Wines, 780-569-5000

Thursday & Friday, November 9-10
Foodovation, NAIT,

Monday, November 13
Premium Australian Wine Dinner, $99++, Hardware Grill, 780-423-0969

Wednesday, November 15
Wagyu Beef with Poplar Grove Winery Dinner, $125
La Ronde, Chateau Lacombe, 780-420-8366

November 16, 17, 18
Bella Casa Christmas Open House, 9646 142 Street, 780-437-4190

Sunday, November 26
Quinta de la Quietud Winemaker Dinner, $95, The Marc, 780-429-2828

Tuesday, November 28
Quinta de la Quietud Winemaker Dinner, $95
Solstice Seasonal Cuisine, 780-488-4567

Thursday, November 23
Wines to Warm You from the Inside Out Tasting, $40
Hicks Fine Wines, 780-569-5000

saturday, November 25
All is Bright 124 Street Festival
The Heart of the Home, 780-705-4928

wednesday, November 29
Mad Scientist Christmas Cocktail Class, $40
Aligra Wine & Spirits,

Tuesday, December 5
Christmas Open House, 4-8pm, Aligra Wine & Spirits

Thursday, December 7
Annual Christmas Open House, 5-8pm, Hicks Fine Wines

Saturday, December 9
Holiday Open House, 1-5pm, Color de Vino