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Harry's Blog

  • Beautiful Buena Vista

    Founded in 1857 by Count Agoston Haraszthy, who immigrated from Hungary, Buena Vista is one of California’s oldest wine properties. Located in the historic town of Sonoma, France’s renowned Boisset family from Burgundy bought the property and brought it back to life starting 2011 after a long Snow White sleep of inactivity. The original stone winery building, a  designated California Historic Landmark, was refurbished as a beautiful consumer tasting facility. A modern, state-of-the-art winemaking operation was added to take advantage of their abundant and diverse vineyard holdings in Sonoma County and further north along the California coast. Pinot Noir is the signature red grape of Burgundy and a staple of cooler climate regions of the New world. So it was only natural that Buena Vista, meaning “beautiful view” in Spanish, included it in its portfolio. Complex smoky, earthy, forest floor aromas, lead us to a silky mouth feel of red fruits and plum flavours. The finish lingers on long after swallowing. Enjoy with sliced smoked salmon and capers on whole grain artisanal bread spread with herbed Boursin cream cheese. While drinking nicely now, laying it down for a few years will reward drinkers for their patience. The Wine Enthusiast scored it with 91 points.          

    2018 Buena Vista North Coast Pinot Noir #24112, $24.95 

  • Late is Great

    Grapes left on the vine to ripen longer are called Late Harvest, obviously. They will have greater richness, complexity, more intense flavours and more pronounced colour. The German term for these wines is Spaetlese, pronounced Sh-payt-lay-zuh. It’s a specialty of Germany with a long history. The Dr. Max. Ferd. Richter Estate on the Mosel River is one of Germany’s classic, icons producing top drops from Riesling grapes grown on steep, southern-facing slate slopes. Hailing from their Elisenberger vineyard site, it was given to the family as gratitude for preventing their village from being sacked by the troops of Napolean 1 in Oct.,1813. The nose is attractive and all about fresh limes and crisp fruit aromas. A laser sharp acidity balances the sweet notes with a flavour that’s tightly structured and persistent. It may be laid down for several years to gain more complexity and nuances – pure hedonism. For right now enjoy it chilled – swirl, smell, sip, savour, and repeat. It’s a delicious pairing with soft cheeses such as brie or camembert. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate gave it 94 points commenting that it could be laid down for up to twenty years – a real “sleeping beauty.”  

    2019 Elisenberger Riesling Spaetlese  #25712, $29.95

  • Y? Why Not?

    The Viognier grape is responsible for some of France’s Rhône Valley premium and most expensive white wines, i.e. Chateau Grillet in Condrieu. Yalumba Winery, based in the Barossa Valley, had taken the initiative to plant this varietal in Australia starting over forty years ago. Yalumba is considered to be a leader in the growing of this varietal in the New World and specifically in the neighboring Eden Valley with its higher, cooler elevations. The vineyards are farmed and certified sustainable. Fermentation takes place spontaneously with wild yeasts. No commercial strains are used. Vegan friendly, it is bottled under their Y Series, a collection of iconic classic varietals produced in limited quantities. We are fortunate to have the Y Viognier available on LCBO shelves on a continuous basis. With a straw colour and medium bodied texture, we encounter notes of melon, honeysuckle and white flowers in the bouquet. Aging on the lees gives us a complex tasting palate with a lingering, silky finish. While delicious to be enjoyed as an aperitif, we can think of nothing better on these hot, sultry days or evenings, than to pair it with a cold, rich seafood salad. Don’t skimp on the lobster or crabmeat!

    2021 Yalumba Y Series Viognier #470062, $14.95.

  • Get to Know Pinot Rosé

    Did you know that Germany is the world’s third largest producer of Pinot Noir? While dry reds are the majority of the production, the Baden region, close to the French and Swiss borders, turns out some dandy dry rosés from this enchanting enclave. Hailing from the picturesque village of Koenigschaffhausen, the Pinot Noir grape thrives on the slopes of an extinct volcano called the Kaiserstuhl (Emperor’s Throne). The specific vineyard site where this rosé hails from is called Vulkanfelsen, translated volcanic rock. But don’t let a teutonic tongue twiste deter your enjoyment. During the production process the wine is left on the grape skins long enough to aquire the desired shade of pink the winemaker is looking for. With a bouquet of red berries and a pleasant, fruit driven dry taste, it sure is a seductive sipper. Swirl, sniff, sip. Snap your fingers and say, eins, zwei, dry, and pair this beauty with grilled salmon.     

    2021 Pinot Noir Rose Dry ”Koenigschaffhausen Vulkanfelsen” #168237, $15.95.

  • Smokey the Beer

    With BBQ season on us in full force, the grills are being fired up for overtime duty to satisfy the crowds craving for meat prepared out of doors. Whether on the deck, patio, in the back yard or at the campsite, grillmeisters charge forward charring meat, whatever the cut. As the flames or the coals heat up the meat, the marbled fats melt and turn juicy keeping it moist, adding flavour and tenderness when chewing. What to serve with these yummy portions of protein? While full bodied red wines come to mind, we have another treat that combines complex smoke character. Smoke beer, called Rauchbier, a specialty from the city of Bamberg, Germany, is world famous. Aecht Schlenkerla, brewed since 1405, is the icon. While clocking in at a respectable 5.1% alc./vol., the smokiness comes from roasting the barley malt, integral to the brewing process, over beechwood logs. Dark brown in colour, it has a rich, foamy head exhibiting aromas of smoked meat/bacon and notes of charred wood, roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Full bodied and off dry, it is slightly bittersweet with a chewy texture. Flavours of smoke, charred wood, toasted nut and dark fruit, caramel and molasses provide a smokey, lingering finish. Not for the faint of heart, but really worth getting used to. Where’s that medium rare sirloin steak?

    Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier 500 ml # 409110, $4.05

  • Romeo, Romeo, Where Art Thou? At the LCBO, My Love!

    “Hark, what bright, light beverage through yonder window and on the shelves of the LCBO shines! Let us forget the slings and arrows of daily life and celebrate the warmth of summer with sparkle, flavour, refreshment, and merriment. Prancing on the palate, tickling one’s tonsils, tis pure enjoyment at its finest at a most modest price. Tis premixed without the toil and trouble of assembling the ingredients of sparkling wine and oranges from oriental lands. Imbibe on it’s own, citizens! Or, matcheth with Sundaye brunch. Ah, but one canst really savour the flavour even better when paired with eggs prepared Benedict style, named after the famous gastronome and member of the food fraternity. Alas, Romeo Mimosa will grace the shelves of the LCBO only for the few scant months of summer. The inventories will wither like an innocent flower taken from water. Parting will soon be such sweet sorrow, so thou shouldst hasten to acquire sufficient stocks in the meantime. Let us raise our drinking vessels and toast to the good company of good people everywhere.” Harry I, Part 1, Act 1, Scene 1.  

     Romeo Orange Mimosa #14388, $ 10.80.

  • Let's do Dolcetto from Bricco Rosso

    Dolcetto is widely planted in northwestern Italy, but the Dogliani appellation in Piemonte is where this indigenous red grape really struts its stuff. While the grape is not mentioned on the front label, it is 100% Dolcetto. With the Alps towering majestically far in the background, the Bricco Rosso estate house, unmistakable with its red (rosso) stucco exterior, sits atop a hill with the vineyards trickling down from it in all directions to the surrounding valleys. It’s quite approachable now as a result of spending 6 months in large oak foudres plus 2 years minimum bottle aging. The bright, savoury black fruit nose leads us to rich succulent fruit on the palate with an underpinning of pleasant tannins. Nice lingering finish. Great pairing with a grilled, medium rare flank steak, or the Italian classic, Osso Bucco.

    2019 Bricco Rosso Dogliani DOCG #705699, $15.95.

  • Skuttlebutt Scenario .… a high-end example of a white “Bordeaux blend.”

    Skuttlebutt was the nautical term used on sailing ships of the past where sailors would come to get their fresh water. It was the spot to catch up on gossip and goings-on, not unlike the office water cooler nowadays. The perfect brand name, this Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend, is a high-end example of a white “Bordeaux blend.” It is further proof that Australia’s Margaret River growing region in Western Australia, which benefits from the cooling effects of the Indian Ocean, is not unlike Bordeaux on the coast of the Atlantic. An aromatic, and colourful expression of the local terroir, it’s a perfect excuse to gather and “Skuttlebutt“ with friends. Notes of passion fruit, white peach and lime are balanced beautifully with a refreshing, crisp acidity. Poached Digby scallops drizzled with lime juice and paired with Skuttlebutt white would be the perfect nautical duo. James Halliday scored it 94 points with a “Special Value” designation. 

    2020 Skuttlebutt Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon #47621, $18.95