Harry Drung is the founder of HHD Imports Inc. He has been involved with the alcoholic beverage industry since he was 7 years old, when his immigrant father entered the industry as a multilingual sales representative. His passion and love of exploring the world for unique, high quality beverage alcohol products has continued ever since.
NOW AVAILABLE. Harry’s new book, Clinking Outside The Box: The World in a Glass is an offbeat and often humorous look at the world of wine, beer, and spirits from the perspective of an industry veteran. It’s part wine manual, part travelogue, part comic observation and part memoir. Go to www.harrydrung.com to quench your curiosity and obtain further details for purchasing.
Come On, Have some Fünf
Hailing from select vineyards from along Germany’s famous Rhine River, it’s a little drier than off-dry with refreshing citrus flavours. It’s easy to swallow at $12.00 with $2 off the regular shelf price of $14 from May 20 to June 17. With warmer temperatures showing up a bit earlier than usual, it’s a tasty, affordable summer weather sipping crowd pleaser. On the patio, by the pool. on the home’s deck or on the deck of your moored boat, under the stars, in the sun, in your tent, in your room, by the BBQ – we are running out of options. It will compliment a wide range of cuisines and is enjoyable on its own. Fünf is the German word for five. After all, it’s five o’clock somewhere and fun begins at 5, right? Looking for lower alcohol, Fünf Riesling clocks in at a modest 9 %.
Fünf German Riesling #175026, $12.00 ($2 off till June 17 at LCBO stores).
Like Hanging Out in the Hamptons with Bon Jovi
The Hampton’s, eastern end of Long Island, is where New York City folk escape to, especially on weekends. Southampton, Westhampton, East Hampton or surrounding hamlets, they make up the South Fork, an extremely popular seaside destination. The towns are abuzz with those that have luxurious summer homes, are year round residents or tourists coming to visit and enjoy miles of sandy beaches where the Atlantic Ocean laps onto the picturesque shoreline. What might Hampton water be? Well, the first sip of Hampton Water Rosé is quite like the name suggests - a dive into the luxury of the Hamptons. It was launched by Jesse Bongiovi and famous singer-father, Jon Bon Jovi. After a night out, dad Jon offered son Jesse a sip of what he called “pink juice.” It flowed so freely and, in fun, Jesse said it was Hampton water. Lights went off and this conversation started the ball rolling to create what is now the Number One branded rosé in the world. One of the most renowned winemakers from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France, and rosé specialist, Gérard Betrand, is their partner for this project. A French blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre grapes, Hampton Water is not just another pale rosé in a pretty bottle. It represents an easy-going lifestyle and appreciation of the wonder and beauty that surrounds you no matter where you are from, or going to. Is it any wonder that leading magazine, Wine Spectator, named it “Best Rose in the World”? Fresh and lively, but revealing serious winemaking, melon and soft berry notes pave the way to a long, lingering finish. Make your way to the local LCBO outlet to pick up a few bottles for enjoyment on its own or with endless options of lighter foods.
2022 Hampton Water Rosé #667337, $29.95
Back to Burgundy Basics
It’s quite simple, no matter how expensive the wine, or famous the village, red Burgundy wines are made from the Pinot Noir grape. It is the most tantalizing of the world’s noble grapes and achieves unsurpassed heights when at its best. It is finicky, susceptible to spring frosts and winter cold and dislikes excess heat. The berries are blue-black in colour with relatively thick skins. The Cote d’Or, or golden slope, is Burgundy’s ancestral home. One of the most respected Burgundy merchants is the House of Moillard. Shipped from the famous village of Meursault, it was founded in the year 1850 and owns acreage in some of Burgundy’s most famous and expensive appellations where the retail prices can hover in the range of hundreds of dollars a bottle. Don’t let this scare you because Moillard also produces an affordable entry level Pinot Noir for everyday enjoyment. With the Bourgogne (Burgundy) appellation, it’s a blend from a variety of vineyard sites that expresses the best characteristics of the grape. It is ripe and approachable, with bright red cherry-berry fruit underpinned with oak and spice notes. A great food wine, it will compliment and not overpower dishes. BBQing this long May weekend is mandatory as we get ready to nudge into summer. Fish or fowl? Let’s do both and pair this wine with grilled salmon and grilled chicken breasts. It’s now an LCBO Vintages Essentials listing with year-round availability.
2021 Moillard Bourgogne Pinot Noir # 28360, $29.95
Mystery and History Behind Mimosa
No brunch would be complete without a Mimosa or two alongside your eggs benedict and smoked salmon. It’s a great tipple to enjoy before a wedding, or especially this Mother’s Day weekend. But the history behind this favourite pre-midday cocktail is much disputed. Mimosa gets its name from the Australian yellow-orange shrub technically known as Acacia dealbata. The Mimosa is said to be connected to a bartender called Frank Meier who created it in the Ritz Hotel in Paris. His drink was a slightly more diluted version of Buck’s Fizz, Britain’s orange and sparkling wine cocktail using equal measures of both ingredients. However, Meier never actually took the credit for the cocktail, despite mentioning it in his book, “The Artistry of Mixing Drinks.” Some suggest that the drink was created in San Francisco by none other than film director Alfred Hitchcock, who is thought to have created it in the 1940’s causing its popularity to spread throughout North America. Now in 2023, the Herres Winery has come to the rescue. Having shown up several times as a seasonal summer listing with the LCBO, it is now available on a continuous basis. Ontario consumers may enjoy this yummy imported sparkling cocktail pre-mixed without having to go through the time-consuming exercise mixing up one’s own Mimosa hoping to hit the right combination of flavour and sparkle. The effervescence brings a liveliness as well as balance to the citrus elements of the orange. Enjoy whenever the occasion calls, not just for brunch, but also as a refresher on the patio or deck during sultry summer days and nights.
Romeo Orange Mimosa #14388, $13.45
Taking the High Road to High Valley
While there is some contention as to how and by whom the Zinfandel grape was introduced to California from Europe in the mid 1800’s, it remains one of the “golden state’s” signature varietals. Whether this exotic black variety has been made into full-bodied reds, currently popular, or a foray into providing the key ingredient for producing huge quantities of sweet pink wine called White Zinfandel in the latter part of the 20th Century, “Zin is still in,” big time. After more than 150 years of questioning its origins, through DNA finger printing, it was irrefutably demonstrated that Zinfandel is one and the same as the Primitivo grape, mainstay of southern Italy. Hailing from their estate vineyards in the High Valley viticultural area of Lake County, north of Sonoma, Zinfandel is a respected staple in Shannon Ridge Winery’s product line up. Grown at elevations between 490 and 915 meters above sea level, the slightly cooler micro-climate, combined with significant day to night temperature swings, means the grapes retain a refreshing acidity. This serves as a counter balance to the fuller body and slightly higher alcohol levels one gets with Zinfandel. The dark fruit bouquet, and then the body with nicely integrated spice and smoke elements, provide a long smooth finish. Since Lake County is also cattle country, let’s serve this wine with a “cowboy cut” steak, a thick, bone-in ribeye meant for two.
2019 High Valley Vineyard Zinfandel #22033, $24.95.
Let’s Sustain and Maintain
Earth Day is an annual event that was held on April 22 to demonstrate support for protection of the environment. It was first held on April 22, 1970 and now includes events coordinated globally including one billion people in more than 193 countries. The official theme for 2023 is “Invest in Our Planet.” The movement to protect the environment has never been more critical with sustainable practices on-going at Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery. Not just a mantra for a one day celebration, it’s a consistent battle cry for every human on the planet to do their part. We are certified by Sustainable Winemaking Ontario and are committed to minimizing the environmental footprint in the winery and vineyard. This is critical for the long-term preservation of both Ontario's Greenbelt, and the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Look for the sustainable symbol included on the back label of our wines. Sustainable agriculture initiatives include energy efficiency, judicious water usage, woodland preservation, wetland restoration and bio filters. Henry of Pelham’s wife, widow, and family patriarch, is honoured through this bubbly’s brand name. The traditional grape varieties of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, from family-owned vineyards, are the basis of the Niagara based cuvée. After the secondary fermentation in the bottle, the wine is aged up to 24 months on the lees. With berry tones, round and perfumed, let’s celebrate sustainability with a glass and watch a steady stream of fine pinpoint bubbles mesmerize us. Enjoy solo or with smoked salmon paté. UK’s prestigious Decanter Magazine awarded it a Gold Medal at their World Wine Awards. Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Brut Rosé #217505, $32.95.
Guaranteed Green Theme
Green nowadays, of course, refers to doing everything to minimize the effect of human activity on the environment. Sustainability, carbon neutrality, eco-friendliness, recycle, re-use, and renew are just a few of the buzz words bandied about and implemented, hopefully. The wine industry has been a leader in the green movement for a long time already. Bravo! But let’s take a detour to Portugal and its “green” wine, that’s been around for ages - Vinho Verde, literally translated as green wine. Vinho Verde is considered “green” because it’s usually the first wine of the harvest to be released as young, or green, as the Portuguese call it. Also, northern Portugal’s Minho province is in the rain path of the Atlantic Ocean so the whole landscape is exceptionally verdant. Vinho Verde is usually a blend of different local grape varieties, primarily Alvarinho, Arinto and Loureiro. Here we have an example of the Loureiro varietal going solo. Dry, with a refreshing acidity, and a bit of spritz, its very refreshing as an aperitif, but is a great pairing with seafood, given the region’s proximity to the Atlantic. For us, the ideal match is fresh cod, the Portuguese specialty, baked with regular brushings of olive oil, lemon and herbs to keep the fish moist and flaky. And serve it with a mango based salsa for a contrast in flavours and textures. Available at your local LCBO stores as of April 15th.
2022 Curvos Loureiro Vinho Verde # 471284, $14.95
Read and Taste What’s On Our Lips
I recommend enjoying this wine while reading a good book. There is undisputed medical evidence that reading is beneficial to one’s mental health. Richard Steele said: “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” The Bookwalter Winery’s “Readers” range of wines takes its inspiration from its play on the word “book,” part of the family name. Just look at the label, and the depiction of the capital letter “B” superimposed and mirrored on a pair of reading glasses, is uncanny. Their entry level range of wines is called Bookmark. And guess what the winery’s dining venue is called? Fiction Restaurant. Now to the wine! The 2019 Readers Cabernet Sauvignon is garnet in colour with aromas of black and red fruits and notes of vanilla. Further hints of cedar tease your senses while gently gliding into a long, juicy finish. Tim Fish of Wine Spectator gave it 92 points. And looking for that book packed with stories of wine, travel, food and humour? Go to www.harrydrung.com for details of my new book, “Clinking Outside the Box: The World in a Glass.” If you need food, how about soft tacos filled with thin slices of medium rare flank steak smothered in spicy cabbage slaw? But if you can wait, you, the purchaser, will be rewarded by laying down a few bottles as the wine matures and gains greater complexity. Available at your local LCBO Vintages stores on April 14th.
2019 Bookwalter Readers Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon #13238, $32.95
Ham it up at Home for the Holiday!
Why did ham become the favourite meat of choice for Easter dinner? Historically, pigs were butchered in fall and the hams cured over the winter. They were ready to eat once spring arrived which coincided with the Easter season. This delectable dish takes the spotlight on the dinner table and will be served in copious quantities. But what wine should you pair it with? Red or White? Read on.
An off-dry Riesling coupled with it’s pleasant, bright acidity and citrus notes contrasts with the salty elements derived from the curing process in ham. And if your ham is topped with a sweet glaze or slices of pineapple, it will be enhanced by the subtle sweetness of Riesling. At your local LCBO, look for Henry of Pelham Riesling #268375, now $2 off till April 23 for $15.95.
What about red wine? There are lots of Pinot Noir lovers everywhere. Its lighter body with a good acidy make it a sassy wine to go with ham. Pinot Noir pairs best with Black Forest style hams with their characteristic dry curing and smoking. Readily available in the market is the local PiIler’s brand harkening back to the founders’ German heritage. Pinot Noirs from Ontario’s Niagara region also have a complex, earthy, forest floor component that will compliment the meat but not overpower it.
Go for the Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir #13904, $15.95 with the extra incentive of 50 Aeroplan Bonus Points.
Look for the Book
Now available, here’s what a few reviewers from around the world have to say about my book., Clinking Outside the Box: The World in a Glass:
“I’ve been dipping in and out of the text and I find it fascinating. You’ve managed to assemble bite-sized stories which have factual density and the charm of personal experience to drive the base. I think it’s a great formula.” Michael Fridjhon is South Africa’s most experienced wine judge and leading wine writer. Author, co-author or contributor to more than 40 books on wine.
“Whether it’s Harry’s ode to Pinot Noir or his experience of vertigo looking down the tortuous slope of the Treppchen vineyard in the Mosel, he has the literary knack of engaging us and sharing with us his consuming passion for the fermented grape. Read this book with a glass of wine in hand. Preferably Riesling.” Tony Aspler, the Wine Guy, and recipient of the Order of Canada, is the author of 27 books, most of which are based on wine and food. He is widely respected as Canada’s leading wine expert.
For more details and availability of the book go visit www.harrydrung.comWhile reading this book may I recommend accompanying it with a glass of Relax Riesling #621888, $14.45, Canada’s best-selling imported Riesling. Look for the newly released 1.5 Liter size #30561 at $26.45. Both sizes are available at your favourite LCBO outlet.
No So-So Sauvignon Blanc – Care to Pair With Pasta?
New Zealand has made its mark in the wine world with its signature Sauvignon Blanc white wines. In the four corners of the world, this Kiwi grown grape continues to garner a huge following as it ticks off the boxes that today’s consumer is looking for. Even producers in the grape’s ancestral homeland, the Loire River Valley of France, are taking notice. White Cliff Winery took it’s name from the majestic white cliffs that rise out of the river bordering their original vineyard site in Hawke’s Bay, North Island, New Zealand. Breathtaking and beautiful they captured the feeling of White Cliff’s collection of wines. This Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from their premium vineyards located in the Marlborough region located at the north end at the South Island. Very dry with floral notes of gooseberry, kiwi, grapefruit and honeydew melon, the finish is long and crisp. Looking for an extremely easy-to-prepare, tasty pairing? One of our house favourites is fusilli pasta tossed with Classico brand pesto, readily available in most grocery chains. This crushed fresh basil, olive oil and garlic mixture will bring out the best of any pasta dish. To add some colour, toss in sliced marinated black olives and then spread grated parmesan liberally on top. Truly a kitchen creation with Kiwi collaboration. You betcha mate! Drop by your local LCBO store and pick up a bottle or two.
2022 White Cliff Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc #610972, $18.00
Winemaker’s Blend – A Wise Spend
It’s the case where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Some of the world’s greatest wines are blends and not made from just one grape variety. Think of the great Château wines of Bordeaux, many selling in the hundreds, some in the thousands of dollars. Just two weeks ago we were fortunate to visit our Chilean supplier, Matetic Vineyards. Located in the El Rosario Valley, part of the San Antonio appellation, its vineyards are only 15 km from the Pacific Ocean with cooling ocean breezes funnelling in. Matetic is making its mark locally and internationally with cool climate Syrah. Hailing from its oldest vineyard blocks, Syrah makes up 50% of the blend with equal parts of Malbec and Cabernet Franc making up the balance. Intense red fruit aromas along with cocoa and spices dominate the bouquet. On the palate the wine is full bodied with round smooth tannins and juicy acidity. At Matetic’s on-site restaurant, Equilibrio, we were able to enjoy their signature beef dish - short ribs- with this wine. Beef ribs are braised in their Syrah. And then cooked sous-vide, meaning vacuum sealing the meat in a bag with its own juices and then cooking it to a precise temperature in a water bath. The juiciest and most tender meat we have ever tasted, it just fell off the bone. And then to pair it with Corralillo Winemaker’s Blend - magic! Definitely worth the 11 hour flight from Toronto. Tim Atkin scored the wine with 92 points.
2019 Matetic Corralillo Winemaker’s Blend # 541177, $25.95
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