Wine Maven – November/December 2011

The cult of grange

Penfolds Estate held a recorking clinic in Calgary late this year for Grange Hermitage collectors. “It’s a delicate process,” says Peter Gago, Penfold’s head winemaker, a bit of a cult figure himself. “What the clinics do is arrest further deterioration or damage due to a faulty cork.” The wines are assessed: Gago checks the fill, looks at the state of the cork and if necessary, opens the bottle, tastes the wine, tops up with a current vintage, then recorks. The wines are also certified and given a market value assessment — a delightful experience for Grange enthusiasts.


There’s a new beer in town: original 16 by great western brewing

The name is a tribute to the 16 workers who bought the Saskatoon plant 20 years ago when the Carling Molson merger threatened closure. They created a new beer company and now, a new brand. Original 16 is a premium Canadian pale ale, crisp, hoppy and available pretty much everywhere.


Bad girl

In our never ending quest for good bubbles at a great price, we found Bad Girl. It’s Cremant de Bordeaux, a sparkling wine made in the traditional fashion, like Champagne; aka bubbles created in the bottle. Primarily Semillon with some Cab Franc and Muscadelle, it’s citrusy, crisp and dry, fabulous by itself or as a base for mimosas, spritz and kir royales. It also sports an impossible-to-miss hot pink label. Tasty, fun label, good price, what’s not to like? Check out Around $20 in better wine shops.


Sweet red wine steps out of the closet: Zorzettig 2010 Franconia IGT della Venezia Giulia

Noticing a trend? Red wines with noticeable sweetness. Some people like sweet, and not just as a dessert wine.

The Franconia by large Friulano producer Zorzettig is right in step with this light-bodied, soft and fruity bottling with residual sugar. (Franconia grape variety is the German Blaufränkish or Limberger, generally used for blending in Friuli.)

Now that some wine companies are owning up to sugar in their reds, such as the Middle Sister brand’s Sweetie Pie, isn’t it time for other wine companies to stop hiding this sweet fact under oak and descriptors such as fruit bomb? I’m just sayin’.


The corksicle

Keep the corksickle in your freezer ready for action. When needed, plunk the corksickle into an open bottle of wine to keep it chilled rather than messing about with ice buckets. Call the Kettle Black $25.


Poplar grove has a new home

It’s hard to miss the new Poplar Grove — winery, tasting room, barrel hall and future on-site restaurant on Munson Mountain at the gateway to the Naramata bench. Ian Sutherland’s 1993 boutique winery, one of the first five on the bench, has grown with additional partners Barrie Sali, and Tony and Barb Holler bringing along 110 acres of prime Okanagan vineyards. What does it mean? Wines like The Legacy — hand picked fruit, French oak, aged for a minimum two years in the winery. The 2006 is mostly Merlot, with Cab Franc and Cab Sauv completing the blend; a concentrated, spicy glass of deliciousness.