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by • May 23, 2013 • Food & Wine, TorontoComments (0)

Food | Churchill Cellars Ltd. Portfolio Tasting

Earlier this month, I was invited to the Ed Mirvish Theatre for the 11th Annual Churchill Cellars Ltd. Portfolio tasting. You all know how much I love wine, and I felt like a kid in a candy store – I couldn’t wait to dive in and try all of the fun & fresh new products!

Entering the event, the wine was organized in a fantastic way,  it was like a tour around the world, leading up the stunning staircase and around, then once again back down. The layout helped create a path and provided a less confusion setup than one might find at a traditional wine and food show.

Although I would have raved about everything I wanted to taste and indulge in, the way I’ve written this post for you is simple – I had the difficult task of picking one product from every table or country that made an impression on me. So no matter what your taste is, I’ve picked something for you, of that I have no doubt.

N.B. To check the availability of the products I have chosen to share, simply click on their links and check your local LCBO.

New Zealand, Argentina and Chile

A popular region in the wine world at the moment. Classically, you’ll find Sauvignon Blanc and acidic white wines do best from these warmer climate regions ; hearty, earthy reds with longer finishes and sweet hints are a common trends here. Don’t expect boring flavours and flat wines when it comes to these countries.

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My pick is a little off the beaten path. I chose the Tiki Estate Waipara Pinot Gris from New Zealand.  Mild bodied, with hints of golden apple, this medium acidity is the perfect glass of wine to show the beauty of New Zealand’s vineyards. Mildly sweet on the finish with a buttery feeling on the tongue, I instantly fell in love with this bottle.

Australia

In recent years, there’s been a kickback against Australian wines. Everyone assumes that each and every bottle is going to taste like Wolf Blass, which isn’t bad, but certainly does not show what Australian wines can be. Dusty and gripping to the tongue, reds are normally full-bodied and dry. On the other hand, the whites vary from simple to complex and layered like their French predecessors. Don’t let the big wineries of this country dissuade you from the gems of the wine world that Australia has to offer.

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I could have stayed ‘safe’ and picked a Cabernet Sauvignon which is one of the more popular choices but, I was drawn to try the 2011 d’Arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre. At first I was hesitant of an Australian GSM, but how wrong I was. Alcoholic on the noise, it is surprisingly light and smoky on the tongue. A smooth finish and perfect acidity, I’d say this was the best wine to pair with food I tried at the event. And I mean any kind of food would go well with this wine!

California

Aggressive and too bold, I like to call most California wines a punch in the mouth because they are just that intense. From buttery Chardonnay to hearty Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine region helped put new world wines on the map. All that to say, it is easy to sometimes stick to what you know and not get the full spectrum of what Californian wines have to offer. Lucky for you, that’s what I’m here to help with!

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When I think of Californian reds, I think of power and strength; Bold Vine Old Vine Zinfandel by Delicato Family Vineyards embodies this and so much more. This is not a wine for the easy sipping wine drinker, so please be warned. Heavy hints of cigar smoke, chocolate and leather, this wine will stick to your tongue and steal your heart. Well balanced between sweet and tart, it gives just enough fruit and almost too much of a body. But this is a go big or go home kind of wine, so expect nothing less.

Ontario

Again, Ontario is one of the wine regions that unfortunately gets a bad name from the big name producers in the game. But, how do you know what a good Canadian wine is if you base your opinion solely on your past experiences? Ontario white wines are known for the minerality in most cases and their refreshing nature. The reds of the spectrum are in many cases traditional French varietals with a Canadian twist. This can give them new life and depth not necessarily expressed in their French counterparts.

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I was intrigued by the Ontario representation this year at the event and the 2011 Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery Riesling Loved by Lu was by far my favourite. Yes, that is quite a mouthful, and in more ways than one! Hints of lemon and orange blossom, this off dry wine is like a chameleon and tastes a little different with each new sip. Both elegant and fun, this wine is the symbiosis I was talking about. A reflection of an old grape that has evolved as it has traveled into new growing climates and a youthful expression of Canadian talent. Summer in a glass for me is the perfect analogy for this choice.

Germany

These wines have a special place in my heart because of my family and upbringing.  Classically robust and full-bodied, be they sweet or dry, they express their age and classic old world styles. Whites are usually known for their very high sugar contents and medium acidity with grapes such as Gewurtztraminer and Rieslings. Red wines are not commonly known and recognized but can be some of the most elegant wines I have yet to try, such as Spätburgunder, or Pinot Noir. Don’t be scared of the name and do some research my friends, you’d be shocked what you can learn!

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By far my favourite wine I tried at the event; my “show stopper” you might say.  The colour will throw you off as it looks like you are pouring apple juice into your glass. But, the 2011 Balthasar Ress Hattenheimer Schutzenhaus Riesling Kabinett is not just a glass of juice.  This is what a German wine should be. Structured and almost effervescent, hints of apple and pear play on the tongue and leave you smiling. I dare you to try it and disagree with me. It is to me, simply perfect.

and last but certainly not least…

Multiculture Bevco 

I didn’t expect to find Vodka at a wine preview, but thought to myself, why not end my day with something completely different? For those of you who don’t know, Ukraine is where Vodka was invented. Zirkova offers a perfect representation for its delicacies, and just left me very informed and impressed. Vodka is another product in the world that might seem over saturated, and to most people, all seem the same. But until you’ve tried this product, you haven’t tried what Vodka can really be!

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Yup, you read that right. Zirkova Honey Pepper Vodka. And don’t be fooled into thinking this is just another flavoured vodka craze. As I learnt, this is actually a very common and popular variety of vodka in Ukrainian culture – smooth sipping, there is no ‘burning’ effect when enjoying this variety. The sweetness is apparent but not over-powering, and the heat builds ever so slightly. I can’t put how amazing this product is into words.  Simply put, you have to try it to believe it.

So now what?!

Churchill Cellars has done an incredible job with their latest products, I would write about twenty more if I could, but Julio might kill me if I made this post any longer! Make sure to keep yourself posted on the Churchill Cellars Ltd. website for other great products, releases and make sure to tell them that Daniel from FASHIONIGHTS.com sent you!

This summer has got a lot of great days ahead for us all, and there is a great product out there to help them even better! Why not let Churchill Cellars help you find something worth sipping for any occasion? And of course, please enjoy responsibly!

Photos: LCBO

Daniel Desforges

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