The last 6 weeks has made things different for all of us. COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on how we interact socially to protect us, our loved ones, and society from the virus. I’m lucky to be a writer since I can still reach you despite physical distancing and for that I am grateful.
We Canadians are a resilient people; we will see this through. However, that may not be the case with local small businesses. The virus has had an insidious effect on them and they do not have an easy life even at the best of times. Scores of stores, restaurants, wineries, and offices have been shuttered. They and their employees are hurting financially and mentally from the uncertainty.
Here is my appeal. Support your local small businesses now to help them make it through this difficult time. My suggestions: buy gift certificates from them (you can spend them later), order take out from your local restaurant, buy online or pick up curbside from businesses like Ontario wineries (most are offering free shipping to your door), and, finally, reach out to like, comment, add a review, and share about your favourite business on social media (I know from experience that it helps). As for me, my blogs after this one and for the next few months will highlight Ontario wineries and wines so you can get to know them better.
Love local my friends! It helps all of us.
Now, let’s look at some wines to keep our spirits up. My ratings are based on a 5 star system developed by Michael Broadbent: 5 stars: Outstanding; 4 stars: Very good; 3 stars: Good; 2 stars: Moderately good; 1 star: Not very good, but not bad; No stars: Poor.
Stadt Krems Gruner Veltliner 2018 ★★★★ $18.95 (Vintages) This white from Austria is not well known, but it should be. If you prefer aromatic wines like Riesling, you’ll like this. It’s more than medium bodied with good acidity, lemon, green apple, pear, apricot, mineral, and characteristic white pepper. It pairs well with peppery East Asian cuisine.
Paul Mas Reserve Viognier 2018 ★★★½+ $13.95 (Vintages) This white is from vineyards near Pezenas, which is outside its normal homeland in the Northern Rhone, and it’s a very good one and great value. Full bodied with intense minerals, pear, apricot, and honeyed lemon. It works nicely with saltiness of Jamon Iberico and a cheese plate.
Bellingham Homestead Series The Old Orchards Chenin Blanc 2018 ★★★½+ $17.95 (Vintages) Labelled with the grape’s real name, in South Africa, this grape is commonly known as “Steen”. It produces a white verging on full bodied that’s aromatic with apricot, lemon, a certain waxiness, and vanilla that just barely shows itself. Same true on the palate with some herb and a longish finish. I’d try this with shrimp or other rich seafood.
La Mascota Extra Brut Rosé Sparkling NV ★★★★ $19.95 (Vintages) A fresh Argentine 100% Pinot Noir Sparkling made in the Traditional method. Nice flavours and aromas of strawberry, red cherry, and grapefruit peel with some yeast breadiness in the background. Perfect for an aperitif, with apps or seafood.
L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah 2016 ★★★½+ $12.95 (Vintages) How many have tried Mexican wine let alone a good Mexican wine? Here’s a red from the Baja, south of California, that’s almost full bodied with spiced black plum, black currant, cedar, and menthol. It may not win wine of the year, but it’s tremendous value and good with anything from the grill, especially if finished with BBQ sauce.
Remo Farina Montecorna Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2017 ★★★★½ $19.95 (Vintages) This is easily one of the best Ripassos that I have had the pleasure to taste. It’s exudes an intense bouquet of dark chocolate covered black cherry. The same flavours follow along with some thyme, black currant, and forest floor. You can age it, but it is delicious now. Great with meaty pizzas and pastas, or with arancini stuffed with lentils drizzled with tomato sauce.
Château Saint-Hilaire 2015 ★★★½ $24.95 (Vintages) A good Cru Bourgeois (this indicates a good quality Bordeaux) not quite full bodied red with black fruits and cedary vanilla. It is lacking a bit in intensity, but it is still quite good value and capable of aging further for 2-4 years. Good match for roast beef.
Casa Silva Gran Terroir de La Costa Syrah 2016 ★★★★½ $19.95 (Vintages) An elegant, full bodied, expression of Syrah from the Chile’s Colchagua Valley (blended with 3% Viognier to give it some aromatic lift). It has nuanced aromas and flavours of black and red plum, blueberry, blackberry, vanilla, smoked meat, eucalyptus, leather, and black pepper. It works nicely with game like venison sausage.
Château Saint-Roch Chimères 2017 ★★★★½ $19.95 (Vintages) A blend of Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah, this red from South Western France has a lot to offer. Think full bodied with spiced stewed dark plum, strawberry, raspberry jam, pencil lead, herbs, and smoky vanilla showing a little alcoholic heat. I’m thinking roast lamb with black olives or meatballs in tomato sauce for a pairing.
Bollina Zenas Primitivo 2018 ★★★★ $17.00 (Vintages) Need some bottled sunshine to lift your spirits tonight? Here’s a full bodied red from sunny Puglia in Southern Italy. The wine has loads of cooked black plum, prune, blackberry, black cherry, raspberry, licorice, and fennel melded with some alcoholic warmth and ripe tannins. Smoked ribs or vegetarian burgers with BBQ sauce should match well.