Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013



Don't feel like starting a new work week, open up this bottle and all your woes will be forgotten.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner

Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner

This is the oldest winery on the Danube dating all the way back to the 12th century. A little history with a lot of wine makes for a educational Saturday.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Wohlmuth Pinot Gris Gola Privat 2011 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Wohlmuth Pinot Gris Gola Privat 2011 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

A winery that demonstrates the beautiful terroir through the wine but also by selecting a painting that reflects each vintage. Beauty you can taste and see!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Domaene Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner 2012 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Domaene Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner 2012 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

The winemaker when I asked him about the aging potential of his wines said "A winemaker believes his wines are good for eternity, how long they are good for is up to you to decide" Love that so much I am tempted to agree with him.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tedeschi Maternigo Valpolicella DOC Superiore 2011 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Tedeschi Maternigo Valpolicella DOC Superiore 2011 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

There are two thing that make this wine special 1: It's from an organic site 2- It's the first vintage a chance to try something new, oh and I guess 3- it's also delicious 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tement Sernau Sauvignon Blanc

Tement Sernau Sauvignon Blanc

A Grand Cru level Sauvignon Blanc that will not disappoint, if you can get your hands on it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Col D'Orcia

Col D'Orcia

Getting in the mood for Italy with this great collector's item wine. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler Riesling 2010 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler Riesling 2010 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Sorry been on a bit of a Riesling kick lately but if you haven't tried Riesling yet you don't know what you are missing! This is a great way low investment one to see how great they can be at only $15.99 a bottle.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Rossignol Winery Blackberry Mead | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Rossignol Winery Blackberry Mead | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Love supporting local, so come out to Sim's tonight to try our Fall Flavours menu that pairs this great PEI dessert wine with a an Island Blueberry dessert

Friday, September 6, 2013

Robert Mondavi Winery Constellation Brands Inc. Fume Blanc 2011 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Robert Mondavi Winery Constellation Brands Inc. Fume Blanc 2011 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Fall Flavours starts tonight at Sim's Oyster Bar and Steakhouse $45 for the 3 course menu + $18 for the wine pairing. This Fume Blanc is paired with the first course lobster ravioli in a limoncello cream sauce.
Come visit!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Stella Bella Chardonnay 2010 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Stella Bella Chardonnay 2010 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Mmmm Corn and lobster Chowder anyone? It is the season for fresh sweet corn, and with this Chardonnay it's sure to leave you salivating. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Flat Roof Manor Malbec | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Flat Roof Manor Malbec | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

If you love Malbec, branch out and try it from South Africa instead of Argentina, but check out my review first to see if it is up your alley. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

McManis Family Vineyards Viognier 2011 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

McManis Family Vineyards Viognier 2011 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

A great wine to sip on while enjoying some live piano music, and it just so happens I know a great place Sim's Corner Wine bar in Charlottetown PEI. And who knows you just might recognize the beautiful lady pouring the wine as none other than me!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Benjamin Bridge Vineyards Nova 7 2012 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Benjamin Bridge Vineyards Nova 7 2012 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Make a night of celebrating Atlantic Canada, by going to see the epic love story of Evangeline in Charlottetown at the Confederation Centre of the Arts and then have a glass of this Nova Scotian wine to top off the night  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Domaine Laroche Chablis

Domaine Laroche Chablis
My favourite treat with oysters, a great way to save money is to teach yourself how to shuck the oysters yourself. Just don't stab yourself 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Red Rooster Reserve Merlot 2010 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Red Rooster Reserve Merlot 2010 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean
My Mother has a hard time getting rid of clothes but with a glass of this wine in her hand suddenly she was ready to say goodbye to lots of things. #Whatagreatglasscando

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Road 13 Seventy Four K 2011 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean

Road 13 Seventy Four K 2011 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean 
A blend of Merlot, Syrah, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Mourvedre. Somehow all these grapes have come to get together to make a great sipping wine!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Okanagan Valley

The way I started my career in wine was one of those miraculous right time right place type things. I was exposed to some top notch wines right off the bat. I mean some of the most famous and most expensive wines in the world. I'm talking Cristal and Dom Perignon, 1st Growth Bordeaux from 1985.  I helped decant and taste test 4 vintages of Sassicaia alongside Piero Incisa Della Rochetta, grandson to the creator of Sassicaia himself. I even got to travel to Napa Valley and get VIP tours of some of the best wineries Napa has to offer. But during this entire time I think I got to try maybe 2 Canadian wines; a Inniskillin Ice Wine and a Henry of Pelham Chardonnay so when I moved back to Vancouver this fall I was at a serious disadvantage. In Canada I am quite proud to say we really support our local wineries and most restaurants offer only a few wines from outside Canada. So there I was with all this wine experience but I had neglected my native country and now I needed to play catch up. Then luckily I had some lieu days at work buildup that coincided with my some time off for my husband so we organized a short 3 day trip over to the Okanagan Valley.

The drive up and over the mountains was just stunning. The snow sparkled off the mountains and was so blindingly bright and untouched it was magnificent.

Then just like that we rounded a corner and before us was this beautiful valley with a lake running right down the middle for as far as the eye could see. The mountains that rose up on both sides of the lake had lush patches of green amongst rocky outcrops. And of course grape vines all over the place.

The road has a nice lazy sort of curve to it and we followed Siri's directions to our first stop; Quail's Gate. The tour was led by a very sweet elderly gentlemen who did a great job telling us all about the Stewart Family and how they got into the wine business (I could give you all the details but why ruin the tour for everyone else who wants to partake). Then we had a lovely little tasting that included a tasty Chasselas White Blend, and a rich Foch. Chasselas is grown in France, Switzerland, and few other old world countries but it was the first vinifera variety Quail's Gate planted. Foch said like Faush is a native Canadian grape variety. You can find my reviews for these wines on Natalie Maclean's website Quails' Gate Estate Winery Old Vines Foch 2009 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean  Quail's Gate Chasselas-Pinot Blanc-Pinot Gris 2012 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLeanWe had lunch at the restaurant in the winery and it was beautiful, great outdoor seating, and amazing wine prices. I had a delicious Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay. The only downside was that for the price I was not blown away by the food. I had a smoked salmon and beet salad, that was kinda dull.

Our next stop was at the top of a hill and is home to probably the most widely recognized BC brand Mission Hill. Now this winery is jaw dropping, it just screams money, and is so beautiful you never want to leave. 
You start out the tour with a great video that founder Anthony Von Mandl stars in and then you go through a tour that is as much about the architecture as it is about the wine. The cellar is home to a locked up cave of treasures both of Mission Hill early vintages but gifts from other wineries that had visited over the years as well. 
They also play host to some amazing musicians in their bowl shaped mini amphitheatre including this summer the Gypsy Kings. My husband and I tested out the acoustics for ourselves and wow they are great!
So with all this investment in the property surely you would think the wine will be outstanding as well. Now we only tasted 3 wines but each one was disappointing to me. The Riesling had too much heat, the Sauvignon Blanc not enough, and the Shiraz was flat and lifeless. Now maybe the wines had been open too long, but for the price Mission Hill bottles go for I was expecting more. Still though, visually this winery will take your breath away, and I wouldn't write off all of Mission Hill's wines just because of one bad tasting.  We carried the Special Lot Collection Syrah at the restaurant I managed and I found it to be quite delicious, but expensive.

So it was getting to be late afternoon by the time we finished up so we decided to head to our hotel in Osoyoos. To better understand the Okanagan Valley it may help to break it down into regions, sort of like Napa Valley is except they are still not VQA recognized regions like Carneros is a Napa Valley AVA. The Okanagan Valley is about 250km in length. At the top is Penticton and Kelowna where Mission Hill and Quail's Gate is located. Then you pass through Okanagan Falls where See Ya Later Ranch is, then there is the Naramata Bench where Red Rooster is and then finally at the bottom of the valley is Osoyoos where the first Native owned and operated winery is Nk'Mip (Ink-A-Meep) and also where my husband and I stayed for the trip. Spirit Ridge is the name of the Resort in case you want to make a booking.

We enjoyed a late dinner at the restaurant in the resort called Mica, it was a funky little place and the view was beautiful. I did find it very odd that only 2 wines from the very winery that was less than 500 feet away could be found on the wine list, but the restaurant has a very nice vibe to it.
  The next morning I took my tour of Nk'Mip on my own. I was really impressed by the tasting at Nk'Mip  particularly their reserve series Qwam Qwmt (pronounced Kwaim Kwempt) to see a review of the Merlot I tasted just follow the link 2008 Nk'Mip Qwam Qwmt Merlot 2008 | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean
We decided to have lunch at the Winery's restaurant and were pleased to find lots of Nk'Mip selections on this list, plus my favourite: tables right out on the grass!

We spent the rest of the day taking a nice leisurely stroll along the lake, and decided to stay in for the evening and BBQ with the complimentary grill that comes with every room in the Spirit Ridge Resort. I mean come on people alone at a beautiful resort with my handsome husband you must forgive me if learning about wine took a back seat for a day.

The next morning I started at La Frenz in the Naramata Ridge. A lesser known brand but a great selection of wines, and I would expect with all the awards they have been winning lately we will be seeing more of them. Here is a link to my review of a great fortified wine they have.La Frenz Estate Winery Muscat | Wine Reviews by Natalie MacLean
Our final stop before returning to Vancouver was at Red Rooster. A fun tour and great tasting. I loved hearing about their Malbec program. You can adopt a row of grape vines, then for that year you come and help out in the vineyard in Spring and then come back in the Fall getting a chance to learn and work alongside winemaker Karen Gillis you end with a wine you can actually say you had a hand in making. I hinted pretty strongly to my husband what a great Christmas present it would make, whether he caught the hint, I will have to wait until Christmas to find out.

All in all it was a great introduction to Canadian wine, now I just need to get to Niagra!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why Going Blind is the Best

If you have never given yourself a blind tasting before I strongly urge you to do it. It is truly incredible to allow a wine to reveal itself to you this way. Tasting a wine blind frees you of all your biases. But what qualifies a true blind tasting, well a true in "every sense of the word blind tasting" would be one only provided in Sommelier exams like those done by the Court of Master Sommeliers of which I am a proud certified graduate. The tasting portion of the exam involves you sitting down to a glass of wine of which you have absolutely no clues or hints as to what it is.There are no bottles anywhere it could be any one of the millions of wines that are out there.

But this is surprisingly difficult to replicate. Let's say you have someone get a wine from your collection to blind taste you with, well already you have an advantage because you presumably know what wines are in your possession. Or let's say you are lucky enough to have a mentor blind taste you from the cellar of a 5 star restaurant like I was (sorry I just needed to put that in there to remind myself how lucky I have been), you still have a general idea of what wines are in that cellar again giving you a, albeit slight, advantage.

But for most of us the only option we have available to set up a blind tasting is to go out and buy a couple of bottles and then have someone else pour them for us, giving us a 50/50 shot. Now yes this "home" blind tasting provides greater advantage but don't discount the worth of doing it, or how difficult it is in comparison to just drinking the wine you know. What I mean by a tasting having worth is that when you taste without biases; like brand or vintage or varietal it allows you to taste what's really in a wine.

I think we are most affected by the brand of a wine being a bias on our opinion of the wine. Certain big brands like Gallo and Jackson Triggs seem to always bring about an upturned nose, a look of "you may as well be drinking box wine." But in fact the reserve labels from these big name wineries will surprise you. However, it is so easy to allow the opinions of others to taint what you are really tasting without even realizing it, hence why going blind truly is the best.

Varietal is another bias we unwittingly allow to delegate to our brain what we are tasting. We hear Chardonnay is lemony so it is always lemony. When we have a taste note already in place in our mind it can prevent us from tasting anything else. Please don't misunderstand me though,  I think learning basic tasting notes are monumental to being able to talk about wine, and found them so helpful in my education thus far. However, it is still a bias.

A Vintage bias really can only affect upper level wine gurus, of which I do not count myself among them.  These few know which vintages were classified as great and which were classified as poor and then choose their wine based upon that. Making the assumption that although the wine may be great due to it being a bad year in that area it most likely is not great. A blind taste certainly can eliminate that bias too.

Now there are an even rarer type of wine expert out there that can name a vintage, along with varietal, the brand, and the region all from nothing more than a taste, and that astounds me, and is due to a gift that we do not all possess. You can blind taste all you want but you will never manage that unless it was predestined as a part of you. What will happen from doing an occasional blind taste is that you just may surprise yourself with what you like, and it will give you a better understanding of what wine tastes like in your mouth.  But if you are really up to challenging yourself and throwing away all biases get a blindfold and put a selection of expensive and cheap, red and white together and try it out. You will find that going blind really is the best.


Monday, March 25, 2013

The Paradox of Wine inTurkey

                   Why is wine in Turkey a paradox, well for many reasons actually. Let's start with grape acreage, Turkey has the 5th largest grape acreage in the world, surpassed only by the "Stars" of wine; France, Italy, Spain, and U.S.A. and yet 98% of all Turks are Muslim, a religion that frowns upon the consumption of alcohol. Most restaurants don't even sell alcohol. So where do all those grapes go? Well they eat them for one, dry them and make raisins for two, or they make wine just with no alcohol in it i.e. grape juice.

 Turkey is also debatably the birthplace of wine, some historians argue that Noah had some vines among his arc and planted them when the water receded on Mt. Ararat located in the South of Turkey near the Syrian border. And yet it is #36 on the list of wine production with only a little over 27,000 tonnes made each year. (Italy produces over 4.5 million tonnes a year). So why even bother writing a post about wine in Turkey?

Well Turkey has become a huge part of my life. A little over a year ago I married a Turk and we spent all summer travelling his home country tasting wine wherever we could find it not as easy of a task considering I was in a country with the 4th largest grape acreage, but it certainly didn't help that we were travelling during Ramadan too. A religious holiday that asks you to sacrifice all food and all types of beverage even water during daylight hours. One thing my husaband failed to mention to me about Ramadan, that the whole idea is that nothing will pass your lips during sunlight, even kisses! So you can imagine my enthusiasm to not be able to kiss my husband during our honeymoon for an entire month during the day! It was torture and I couldn't even turn to wine to drown my sorrows in!

But thankfully in some cities it was very easy, typically the ones in the South West as they were cities swarming with European vacationers. But in others including my husband's hometown of Trabzon it was next to impossible. There were only two restaurants that served wine, and it's only by the bottle, a dangerous option when you are the only one drinking wine! But in one of the major grocery store chains"M" that I liken to a Canadian Superstore , the more m's meaning the bigger the selection. I did find some local wines here and even some Australian. Here are a few of my finds from "MM" A fresh and lively Sauvignon Blanc. 

A native Turkish grape, the wine reminded me of a Zinfandel rich and fruit foward

This one was a blend of a native Turkish grape (Kalecik Karasi) and Syrah. (A common blending grape with Turkish native grapes) I Enjoyed it with a traditional turkish dish called Musakka which is eggplant stuffed with ground beef, and it was delicious.

Black cherries and peppery game notes come together in this blend of native Turkish grapes and once again Shiraz

Here is a little legend of Turkish Wine words that will help you out should you find yourself in a similar position to myself.
Sek = Dry
Beyaz = White
Kirmizi = Red
Sarap = Wine

I'd like to say I learned more Turkish than this during my 3 month long stay, but once I figured out how to order wine I was all good. 

So my final paradox for you is this, Turkey has arguable the first grapes that were made into wine in the world, and they are still making wine out of their native grapes today, but why do they feel the need to blend them with more famous varietals like Shiraz? And some are just producing famous varietals like Cabernet, Merlot or Shiraz. Now I can accept all the other paradoxes of Turkey's wine industry, but this is one I do not approve of. I implore Turkey to preserve their native grape varieties and to stop pandering to main stream society, you have a unique industry don't throw it away just to fit in!....maybe just start offering more wine by the glass so i don't wake up with so many headaches the next time I come to visit my in-laws ;)