Quercus Vino

Sommeliers. Ottawa & Vancouver

Autumn of Amarone… Why you may want to be drinking more Valpolicella this time of year…

Autumn 2016
In this article wine writer Matt Steeves discusses wine-related considerations for the changing of the seasons, from summer to autumn.  Matt showcases some wines that are absolute dynamite in the autumn as they complement the hearty dishes we enjoy as the weather gets cooler and cooler.

With the changing of the seasons from the beautiful summer we enjoyed to the rather abrupt transition into the cool autumn season, we’re getting a glimpse of what’s in store for us northern hemisphere folks and yes it means cooler weather, winter jackets and gloves becoming essential attire for the next 4+ months, and before too long, snow and ice to add to the fun and enjoyment…  Now this may sound like a great excuse to escape to the southern hemisphere but for most Canadians we embrace the cool weather and look forward to (some of) the things it brings with it.  In addition to Alpine skiing, for me it’s the hearty meals paired with rich and delicious red wines that I crave more and more as autumn and winter arrive.

A few weeks ago I got a head start on enjoying a lot of autumn-perfect red wines during a trip to the Valpolicella region in Italy. Although when I was there the weather was 30+ centigrade it didn’t stop me from enjoying a few dozen Valpolicella wines each day.  This red-wine focused region produces delicious wines.  I had the pleasure of tasting them in the late summer sun while enjoying charcuterie platters, risotto and beef dishes, and although I thoroughly enjoyed them in the summer, I find they shine even brighter this time of year as the mercury begins to drop.  Upon my return to Canada, just as autumn was arriving, it was the perfect segue for me to begin the ‘Autumn of Amarone’.

When I’m asked for wine pairing recommendations if I recommend a Valpolicella wine I often hear “Val-pol-what?” along with a slightly confused/intrigued look as if I’ve just come up with a new wine region out of the blue!?  For some reason a lot of North Americans aren’t super familiar with Valpolicella, and even if they’ve heard of that region, they don’t seem to understand the wines well enough to choose those wines over single variety wines that are sitting next to the Valpolicella wines on the shelf at the local wine store, which is a shame when you taste what’s in those bottles and understand just how easy going the wines are!  It’s a paradox because Valpolicella wines are some of the best selling (especially Ripasso and Amarone) in North America, but at the same time many wine lovers have yet to explore the delicious wines from that storied wine region, and therefore aren’t taking advantage of those great wines when they show up in our markets at the convenient times such as throughout the fall and winter.

It’s nothing complicated, the region and style is Valpolicella and it’s home to one of Italy’s most famous group of wines, and Romeo and Juliet of course.  The Valpolicella region is situated around the city of Verona and goes up into the Lessinia mountains which are essentially the foothills of the Alps.  In Valpolicella (DOC/DOCG) they produce five different styles of red wines, each a blend of a handful of local grape varietals, from the tasty and not overly complicated Valpolicella Classico to the Valpolicella Superiore to the super value-priced Ripasso,  the iconic Amarone, and of course the sweet ending of Recioto.  These are fun and incredibly food friendly wines which are also easy to drink making them super popular to those fortunate enough to know what Valpolicella has to offer. They typically display powerful aromatic bouquets, velvety smooth textures with rich dark fruit, cherries, and dried fruits persisting on the enjoyable finish. Valpolicella wines also tend to be softer and less tannic than the wines from other popular regions such as Tuscany, Piemonte,  and certainly Bordeaux, making them ready for immediate enjoyment although the high end offerings also have the legs to celler for decades.  Throughout the Valpolicella region, many producers experiment with unique blends of local and international varietals, sometimes drying the grapes, and these are labelled as IGT wines, not inferior to the Valpolicella-proper (DOC & DOCG) wines, just different, kind of like Super Tuscans and Chianti wines from in and around Tuscany.  Both are great, one follows more closely the traditional rules, whereas one (the IGT) not so much giving them unlimited creative opportunity to craft wines in whatever style they think consumers want.  Just like with Super Tuscan wines, IGT wines out of the Valpolicella region can also be some of the most expensive and highly prized and wow are they ever delicious!

Here’s the famous Valpolicella Quality Pyramid that describes the differences in the five styles of wines in a pretty easy to understand way.  They should have #sexywine somewhere on this pyramid but you’ll just have to take my word on that and taste for yourself.



So here are a few (I’ve got a very long list of recommendations that I’ll continue to share throughout the fall) of the autumn-perfect Valpolicella wines that I’d recommend checking out this fall and throughout the winter!


Torre del Falasco, Ripasso, $17.95 at LCBO and as seen on CTV


A blend of Corvina Veronese, Corvinone, and Rondinella. Cantina Valpantena’s Torre del Falasco Ripasso underwent a second fermentation on the skins of the premium Amarone Torre del Falasco which added flavour, texture, and colour to the wine. The nose shows buckets of dried cherry and dark berry preserves, and after it opens up it really shines. This easy going Ripasso is interesting and tasty and perfectly suited for a gathering of friends in the fall and winter. Enjoy with hearty dishes, pasta, or ripe cheese. Great value. Tasted September 2016. 88 points. Matt Steeves –



Sartori’s Corte Bra estate vineyard Amarone


Sartori’s Corte Bra estate vineyard Amarone is a blend of: 50% Corvina Veronese, 30% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella, and 5% Oseleta, producing an elegant, fresh and flavour packed wine that’s guranteed to please. Ruby red with a garnet hue, it’s packed with dark cherry, plum, spice with long finish. 2009 was a terrific vintage and the Corte Bra is a great expression of that fine year. Tasted September 2016. 92 pts – Matt Steeves –









Sartori’s President, Andrea Sartori, speaking about how consumer-friendly and enjoyable Amarone is.  Amarone is for everyone, and there’s no better time to enjoy it than now and into the winter.



Terre di Leone‘s 2005 Amarone











Terre di Leone’s 2005 Amarone represents their first vintage of Amarone and what a beautiful vintage they had to work with! Now after a decade of aging, this Amarone is beginning to show the evolution of the dried fruit, dark cherry, plum, raspberry, and baking spice, by showing hints of Sherry with rustic notes beginning to emerge, making it that much more complex and intriguing especially to those that appreciate aged Amarone.

Grapes were harvested from a gorgeous terraced vineyard sitting high in a valley near the village of Marano (at over 400 metres above sea level). The 2005 is a blend of 40% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella, and 10% Oseleta, that was hand picked then carefully left to dry for 120-140 days before maceration and fermentation began. The result is a rich and concentrated Amarone and at 16.5% this robust wine is remarkably smooth, graceful, and refined – a testament to the hands that crafted this gem. Currants and spice persist on the long finish, and when paired with braised dishes it’s terrific, or enjoy with 75% cacao after a meal and be as equally impressed with the versatility of pairing options you have with delicious Amarone. Tasted September 2016. 95 points. Matt Steeves –




The steep vineyards of Terre di Leone – one of the stand-out Valpolicella wineries I visited



Terre di Leone‘s 2007 Dedicatum

Terre di Leone’s 2007 Dedicatum is a rich and delicious blend of 14 different varieties grown throughout the beautiful region of Verona, Italy. The grapes were hand harvested and allowed to dry for 80 days using the famous appassimento method, thereby concentrating the flavours and aromatic profile of the wine. Dedicatum is a deep ruby red colour with a garnet hue. The nose shows rich layers of dark plum, cherry, baking spice, and leather. The palate is fresh and luscious with bold concentrated flavours all wrapped up with a velvety smooth texture. A stunning IGT blend from this fine family winery. Highly recommended! Tasted September 2016. 94 points. Matt Steeves –




Massimago 2011 Amarone from their high elevation Cru vineyard





Massimago is a very impressive, youthful, ‘outside of the box’ winery that’s making a great international impression of the creativity and  innovation that’s happening within the storied and admired brand of Valpolicella wines. Their 2011 Amarone from their Cru vineyard at 350m elevation, is elegant and vertical. Cherry, mint, balsamic, and warm baking spices on the nose. It’s fully integrated, with soft tannins providing a refined and elegant mouthfeel with just the right amount of power to impress those that appreciate hearty Amarone. Winemaker and proprietor Camilla continues to strive for and achieve greatness in her Amarone from this gorgeous estate vineyard. Highly recommended. Tasted September 2016 at the winery. 94 points. Matt Steeves –








Some of Camilla’s impressive Valpolicella wines at Massimago.



Farina’s 2010 Montefante Amarone available at LCBO – $59.95

This is exactly the style of Amarone that so many love, including myself. A blend of 45% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella, 5% Molinara, and 5% Dindarella from Farina’s Montefante vineyard was aged for two years in Slavonian oak barrels, followed by another two years in barrique, before one year in bottle prior to release. Montefante shows a terrific blend of sweet dried fruits, black cherry, cassis, dark plums, baking spice, along with rustic and savoury notes that provide further complexity and add even more food pairing opportunities to an already super versatile style of wine. Full bodied with no corners anywhere in sight, it’s round and refined with a great medley of sweet dried fruits, baking spices, and those rustic and savoury flavours including leather, pepper, smoked meat, with dusty tannins on the long finish. After five years this beauty will deliver decades of pure enjoyment for those willing to tuck it away. If patience isn’t your strong suit, not to worry, it’s gorgeous now! Enjoy the finer things in life and pour yourself a glass of Amarone tonight. Tasted October 2016. 94 points. Matt Steeves –



Farina’s 2013 Amarone – available at LCBO $39.95 and as seen on CTV


Bold, layered, and full flavoured – Farina’s Amarone is a wine that everyone will love! Rich and delicious, it’s packed full of black cherry, plum, dried figs, nutmeg, BBQ smoke, and cedar. Full bodied with a velvety smooth texture, sweet dried fruits and refreshing savoury flavours persist on the long finish. It’s no wonder why Canadian’s love this Amarone so much! Enjoy with Risotto all’Amarone, beef medallions with figs and blue cheese, and save a splash for dessert and enjoy with dark chocolate – all incredible pairings with this wine! Tasted October 2016. 93 points. Matt Steeves –




Pasqua‘s Mai Dire Mai (never say never) Valpolicella Superiore



Pasqua’s Mai Dire Mai (never say never) Valpolicella Superiore from the Val d’Illasi east of Valpolicella is the debut of this ultra premium low-production Superiore. A blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Oseleta that were hand-picked, carefully sorted, gently pressed, and aged in mostly new French oak for 18 months. The nose shows dried cherry, spice, balsamic notes, and savoury smoked meat. Well structured with great texture and balance, the tart dried cherry finish persists for ages, until the next sip. This wine has decades of life in it but no reason to wait as it’s showing beautifully now. At 15% it’s one of the most powerful, yet strikingly elegant, Superiores you’ll come across, which is telling of the quality of the fruit and the hands that crafted this work of art. Enjoy with braised beef dishes and rich risotto. Tasted September 2016. 93 points. Matt Steeves –


Pasqua’s Mai Dire Mai (never say never) Amarone from the Val d’Illasi east of Valpolicella is the debut of this ultra premium low-production Amarone. A blend of 65% Corvina, 15% Corvinone, 10% Rondinella, and 10% Oseleta that were hand-picked, dried for four months, then gently pressed and underwent a cold maceration for half a week prior to fermentation. After 40 days of fermentation in steel tanks the wine spent 24 months in new French oak which contributed to its richness and complex texture.

The nose shows sweet dried fruit, clove, cedar, dark chocolate, and fine leather. The palate is incredibly soft with fine integrated tannins producing such an intriguing texture. Dried cherry, coffee, dark chocolate, spice, and cedar on the long finish. Beautifully balanced with great structure, this is an icon in the making with all the components to age for decades. Enjoy 2016-2041. Tasted September 2016. 93 points. Matt Steeves –
Pasqua‘s ‘PASSIMENTO’ or ‘Passione Sentimento’ (Passion and Feeling) IGT (Valpolicella) Blend – $13.95 at LCBOpassimento

Pasqua’s ‘PASSIMENTO’ or ‘Passione Sentimento’ (Passion and Feeling), pays tribute to the delicious appassimento wines (and Romeo & Juliet) from the city of love, Verona, where this unique blend of 40% Merlot, 30% Corvina, and 30% Croatina is produced. After the grapes were picked they were carefully placed in wooden trays and left to dry for one month, similar to how the famous Amarone wines are made, which results in rich, flavourful, and concentrated wines, ideally suited for BBQ and hearty cool-weather meals. This super value priced wine is jam packed with juicy dark cherry, roasted beets, dried herbs, and sweet spice. A wine that’s destined to be enjoyed and loved by many, and unlike Romeo and Juliet, there’s no tragic love story anywhere in this wine’s future! Tasted September 2016. 90 points. Matt Steeves –





Zyme‘s Kairos


Kairos is Zyme’s second label (baby brother) to their iconic Harlequin. Similar attention to detail and the highest standards used to produce this gorgeous IGP Venteo. Just like Harlequin, Kairos is produced with a minimum 15 varieties: 4 whites and 11
reds, including: Garganega, Trebbiano toscano, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syraz, Teroldego, Croatina, Oseleta, Sangiovese, and Marzemino.

The 2011 vintage, saw about 10,000 bottles produced. Grapes were hand picked, only the finest and ripest bunches, then dried using the traditional appassimento method for up to 40 days before pressing and fermenting in both concrete vats and stainless steel prior to being transferred to French oak barrels for 36 months without racking, then transferred to bottle for a minimum one year prior to release.

Kairos is a big and bold wine with deep dark colour intensity. The nose is full of dried fruit, dark cherry, sweet baking spices, leather and subtle savour notes. Richly flavoured with great texture and weight. Layers of dark plums, dried fruit, and vanilla make me think this a beautiful blend of traditional old-world Valpolicella and new world Napa, combining two of my favourite wine regions and styles. 40 Euros at the winery. Tasted September 2016. 92 points. Matt Steeves –




Zyme‘s 60 20 20


 Zyme’s 60 20 20 is a powerful blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Merlot. This Valpolicella-Bordeaux blend is further enhanced by drying the Merlot for a number of weeks prior to pressing, thereby enhancing the richness of this wine. After 2+ years in new French oak it spent another year + in bottle prior to release.
Deep ruby red with a dense core. Super rich raisin and dried dark fruit aromas and flavours. The palate is rich with deep and concentrated flavours complemented with dusty tannins and a touch of charcoal on the finish. A truly incredible IGP Veneto that will be loved by anyone that loves Amarone, Napa, and Bordeaux as it blends the best of these three iconic wine regions seemlessly into one great wine. Highly recommended. 94 points. Tasted September 2016. 23 Euros at the winery. Matt Steeves –




A sneak peak at some of the most modern components of Zyme’s incredible cellar, that’s founded 15m below grade, and includes a natural spring.  The balance of the cellar dates back to 1400AD, hello #midieval cellar!


Zyme‘s La Mattonara – the epitome of Amarone


11857085_ismattonaraLa Mattonara is Zyme’s finest Amarone which is produced only in the finest vintages using nothing but the cream of the crop, hand selected and picked. A blend of 40% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella, 10% Oseleta, and 5% Croatina. After drying the grapes for three months to concentrate even further the rich flavours, the clusters are pressed and fermentation occurs for two months on the skins in concrete vats. The free run is then transferred and spends nine years in Slovanian Oak before it’s bottled in its 10th year. Needless to say this is an absolutely perfect wine that has power, structure, depth, harmony, and full equilibrium in every way. It’s rich, young, fresh, which is odd for such an old wine, but shows the incredible life it has in front of it for evolution that will blow your mind each decade for the next 4-5 decades. Highly recommend this iconic Amarone. 180 Euros at the winery. Tasted September 2016. 98 points. Matt Steeves –

Check out Zyme in this video



I hope you can try some tasty Valpolicella wines this autumn and throughout the winter and see for yourself just how great these wines are this time of year!


Matt Steeves

Matt Steeves – Sommelier, Wine Writer, & Director with the National Capital Sommelier Guild – follow Matt on Twitter @Quercusvinoor

Autumn recipes to enjoy with a popular California Pinot Noir, Meiomi.

Autumn 2016

Meiomi Pinot Noir continues to be one of the most popular wines on the market for its consumer friendly and approachable style that incorporates what so many love about California wines, you can practically taste the California sun in each glass.  I came across some delicious recipes that were assembled to complement this popular Pinot Noir in the Autumn season so I thought I’d share them with my wine-loving friends for their consideration over the fall and into the winter.


Buy Meiomi Pinot Noir at LCBO

Meiomi’s 2014 Pinot Noir is a blend of Pinot Noir from three beautiful wine regions along the California coast: Monterey County (48%), Sonoma County (27%), and Sanata Barbara County (25%). Each lot was individually fermented and aged in 100% French oak, 60% new, to add additional texture whilst preserving the elegant and complex fruit characteristics. Blended to achieve the greatest complexity, the result is a very expressive, dry, and flavourful medium-full bodied Pinot Noir. The nose shows dried cranberry, black cherry, cedar, and a slight earthiness. The palate is loaded with sweet dark fruit, black cherry, dried cranberry, mocha, baking spices, and kirsch. Big and bold, this creamy-smooth Pinot is the finest vintage of Meiomi I recall tasting. They’ve struck a beautiful balance in this vintage. Very impressed. Enjoy with braised lamb, roasted pork with fruit chutney, or one of my favourites – Thanksgiving Turkey dinner with sweet cranberry sauce. Tasted September 2015. 91 points. Matt Steeves –

Check out these recipes this autumn:

Pumpkin Fondue Dip – a terrific Halloween Party dish!

Recipe by Caroline Chambers

Start to finish: 1 hour

Serves: 4

1 2-lb sugar pumpkin

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 oz. cream cheese

½ cup gruyere cheese, plus 1 tablespoon, divided

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus more for garnish

¼ teaspoon red chili flakes

½ teaspoon paprika


Preheat oven to 400°.

Cut off the top of the pumpkin, including the stump. Slice in half vertically, then scoop out all seeds and discard. Brush insides of pumpkin with olive oil, then place the two halves face down on a parchment paper lined roasting pan and place pan in the oven. Roast pumpkin for 30-40 minutes, or until pumpkin can be easily pierced with a fork.

Allow to cool for several minutes. While still very hot, but manageable, scoop the roasted pumpkin flesh out of its skin and into the body of a food processor. Discard skins.

To the food processor, add cream cheese, ½ cup of gruyere, salt, black pepper, chili flakes and paprika. Process until smooth. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed.

Place dip in an oven-proof dish, sprinkle remaining gruyere over the top, and return to oven until cheese is melted. Finish with fresh ground black pepper, and serve with baguette.

Dip can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat, place dip in oven-proof dish and heat for 15 minutes at 350°.





Ricotta & Italian Sausage Grilled Pizza with Honey – can you say Sunday football food?

Ricotta & Italian Sausage Grilled Pizza with Honey –  can you say Sunday football food?

Recipe by Caroline Chambers

Start to finish: 1 hour

Serves: 4

1 ball of pizza dough (recipe below)

1 cup ricotta cheese

3 tablespoons mozzarella cheese, shredded

¼ cup Italian sausage, cooked

½ teaspoon red chili flakes

2 tablespoons local honey

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon parmesan, freshly grated


Heat grill to medium-high heat.

On a floured surface, roll pizza dough flat. Place dough on a flour-dusted pizza peel, oil grill grates, and transfer dough to the grill. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, then remove from grill back to pizza peel.

Spread ricotta evenly all over the pizza dough, leaving a ¼” border. Sprinkle the mozzarella, sausage and chili flakes evenly. Return to the grill for 3-4 minutes or until all cheese is melted.

Drizzle honey a in zigzag formation across the pizza. Sprinkle with parsley and parmesan and serve.

Pizza Dough

2 cups bread flour

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

1 teaspoon sugar

1 envelope instant dry yeast

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons good olive oil

1 ½ cups water, 110°

Non-stick spray

Add all dry ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low to combine. While the mixer is running, add the olive oil then water and beat until the dough forms a ball. If it is still sticky, add 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour at a time until the dough forms a ball and is no longer sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead into a firm ball.

Spray a medium bowl with non-stick spray, add the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature for 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide into 4 equal balls. Cover each piece with plastic wrap and leave to rest for 10 minutes.




Brown Butter Sea Salt Apple Galette

Brown Butter Sea Salt Apple Galette

Recipe by Caroline Chambers

Start to finish: 1 hour

Serves: 8



2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

tablespoon granulated sugar

2 sticks (2 cups) salted butter, cubed, very cold

½ cup ice water



1/2 stick (1/4 cup) salted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon allspice

2 large pink lady apples

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon flaky salt, such as maldon or sea salt

1 container good salted caramel ice cream

To make the dough, add flours, sugar and cold butter to food processor. Pulse several times, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add one tablespoon of water at a time and continue pulsing the mix
ture until it holds together when squeezed, but is not sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine butter, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice in a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until butter browns, but does not burn. Set aside.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out into a 12” circle. Transfer dough to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Slice apples 1/8” thick. Arrange apples in rows on top of the dough, leaving a 2” border. Brush apples generously with brown butter mixture and sprinkle with dark brown sugar. Tuck edges of dough up and over the edges of the apples, overlapping as needed to maintain circular shape. Brush crust with remaining brown butter, then sprinkle granulated sugar on the crust.

Bake until the crust is golden-brown and apples are tender, 45 minutes to an hour. After removing from oven, sprinkle with flaky salt.

Serve immediately with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream.

Galette can be made up to two days in advance, wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator. Reheat on a baking sheet at 375° for 10 minutes.



I hope you’re able to try some of these tasty recipes this autumn!


Matt Steeves





Must try wines for Thanksgiving – as seen on CTV Morning Live

CTV Morning Live

October 6, 2016

Today on CTV Morning Live, CTV’s Lianne Laing and Sommelier Matt Steeves showcased a portfolio of wines that would be great with your Thanksgiving meals. Here’s the video: CTV Thanksgiving Wine Segment

In the lead up to Thanksgiving I’m often asked what wine(s) I’d recommend pairing with traditional Thanksgiving meals.  Now the concept of ‘traditional’ means different things for each of us depending on what your traditions were growing up, where you celebrated Thanksgiving, either in North America or abroad, and what kinds of meals you typically enjoyed during that autumn ritual.  For me, as a born and raised Canadian, the standard meals were plentiful and delicious, and typically consisted of: roasted poultry, root vegetables and other autumn harvest veggies, potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc., with roast beef or game birds rotated in every few years to keep things interesting.   Others I know speak of what I consider awesome but not necessarily ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving meals from fancy cranberry pecan stuffed porkchops, Big Green Egg smoked prime rib, maple braised pork belly, sausage stuffed butternut squash, beef short ribs, beer braised rabbit, the list goes on…point being not everyone has a ‘traditional’ turkey dinner nowadays so in order to suggest a great pairing I like to ask exactly what they’re planning on cooking to ensure the wine is well suited for the meal and the sauces they’ll be enjoying with it.

The classic pairings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling are good initial choices for a turkey dinner (depending on the sauces and vegetables planned for the meal of course), with Pinot Noir complementing tart cranberry and not-too-sweet root vegetables quite well.  Dry-ish to off-dry Riesling is super versatile and often one of my top picks for those that like a white wine and plan on having some sweeter sauces with their meals or those sweet butternut squash sides, as you always want a wine to be sweeter than the meal to ensure your wine doesn’t taste sour or bitter.  Chardonnay, is great with creamy potatoes, light gravy on roasted turkey, baked break, etc., so I never shy away from a nice Chardonnay this time of year either.  When we get into the not so ‘traditional’ meals, and even for the traditional turkey dinner, there are practically an unlimited number of options of wines to choose from whether a person likes white, rosé, light reds or hearty big reds.  You name it there’s a wine for every personal preference and unique meal this Thanksgiving.

Two tips to remember are: 1) always ensure the wine you’re serving is sweeter than the food you’re enjoying it with (imagine sweet and tangy cranberry sauce paired with an off-dry Riesling or Pinot Gris); and 2) when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I recommend putting a few different wines (and glasses) out on the table, this way your guests will have at least one wine they especially enjoy and one (or two or three) that complement components of your meal beautifully.

As seen on CTV Morning Live we showed a nice line-up of Thanksgiving suitable wines from sparking wine, white, rose, light red, and big bold reds – and the best part, they’re all terrific this time of year and we’ve got you covered for pretty much whatever you whip up this Thanksgiving long weekend.

So here’s the list of wines we showcased today:

  1. Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc 2014, Napa Valley, California – $22.95
  2. Robert Oatley Chardonnay 2014, Australia – $18.95
  3. 13th Street Winery June’s Vineyard Riesling 2013, Ontario – $19.95
  4. Inniskillin Late Autumn Harvest Riesling 2014, Ontario – $13.25
  5. Kim Crawford Rosé 2015, New Zealand – $17.95
  6. Meiomi Pinot Noir 2014, California – $26.95
  7. Torre del Falasco Ripasso 2013, Veneto, Italy – $17.95
  8. Farina Amarone 2013, Veneto, Italy – $39.95
  9. Ruffino Prosecco, Italy – $16.90


I sprinkled a few other Thanksgiving appropriate wines in below too…




Buy Ruffino Pinot Grigio at LCBO

Ruffino’s Lumina Pinot Grigio is a crowd pleasing fresh and fruity unoaked wine that’s perfectly suited for enjoying on a patio in the sun, or throughout the year with lighter fare such as appetizers, salads, and fish.  From northeastern Italy, where Pinot Grigio thrives, Lumina’s light and crisp style is sure to please.  The nose shows sweet orchard fruit, citrus and minerality.  The palate is refreshing with sweet pear and honeysuckle leaving a crisp and clean fruity finish.  Good value at less than $14 via LCBO.  87+ points. Matt Steeves –





Buy Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc at LCBO

Fumé Blanc is a wine I reach for more and more when transitioning from summer to fall and Robert Mondavi’s is a great choice. In fact it was Robert Mondavi that pioneered this wine style in Napa Valley in the 1960s, when he renamed his barrel-aged Sauvignon Blanc to Fumé Blanc. The 2014 is a blend of 94% Sauvignon Blanc and 6% Sémillon. Hand harvested, whole cluster pressed, with the majority barrel fermented and then aged for nine months sûr lie to impart a subtle richness and mid-palate mouthfeel that complements and adds complexity to the inherently fresh and crisp nature of the Sauvignon Blanc. The nose shows lemon-lime, white peach, green melon, gooseberry, sweet herbs, and flinty minerality. The palate offers refreshing citrus and tropical fruits, with lemon grass and crisp minerality on the long finish. Enjoy with Tex-Mex cuisine, creamy lemon-shrimp pasta, or spicy pasta salad with smoked gouda, tomatoes and basil. Tasted October 2016. 90 points. Matt Steeves –



Buy Robert Oatley Signature Series Chardonnay at LCBO

Robert Oatley’s Signature Series Chardonnay from one of the finest wine regions in the world, and certainly one of Australia’s most famous, Margaret River, is a great example of the expressive and refined wines this region is so well known for. From the ideal 2014 vintage, Robert Oatley sourced some of the best Chardonnay grapes from this iconic region to craft a nuanced and complex lightly oaked Chardonnay that is sure to be loved by many. Medium bodied, with elegance and structure in spades, the tropical and citrus fruit, vanilla, spice, and refreshing herbal undertones fill the nose. Creamy, smooth, and incredibly refreshing, the palate is filled with apple, ripe lime, pear and spice on the long finish. At under $20 ($CDN) this offers incredible value and will be a great complement to seared scallops with lemony risotto and truffle oil.  Tasted April 2016. 91 points. Matt Steeves –

Buy Inniskillin Late Autumn Riesling at LCBO

Inniskillin, Canada’s original estate winery, has been producing terrific Canadian wines for over 35 years, and their Late Autumn Riesling is a fan favourite for it’s off-dry style that complements slightly sweet dishes or meals with a touch of spice. Sweet orchard fruit and floral blossoms on the nose and palate, it’s slightly sweet with good acidity keeping it refreshing. Try this autumn with butternut squash soup with crisp pancetta or butternut squash chili, both terrific pairings with this off-dry Riesling. Tasted October 2016. Matt Steeves –

Buy 13th Street June’s Vineyard Riesling at LCBO

A slight ‘pop’ greets you when you crack the seal on this gem (not to worry, just a touch of CO2 from winemaking). 13th Street Winery’s ever-popular June’s Vineyard Riesling, made from old Clone 49 Riesling from Alsace, shows the freshest stonefruit, lime, ginger, and classic Riesling bees wax and petrol notes all wrapped up with crisp limestone minerality making this beautiful Ontario Riesling a fantastic choice for just about anything you can imagine from buffalo wings to spiced duck leg to Pad Thai, they’re all great with this gem. 91 points. Matt Steeves –



Buy Ruffino Prosecco at LCBO

A very approachable (and value priced) dry Prosecco exhibiting beautiful orchard fruit and honeysuckle notes. The fine bubbles produce a creamy mousse that refreshes the palate and leaves a long MacIntosh apple finish. Enjoy on its own or pair with your favourite appetizers, including prosciutto-wrapped melon or savoury hors d’oeuvres, or pair with seafood or spicy Asian entrees. This would make a great house-bubbly to keep on-hand (and chilled) for those impromptu celebrations or just to enjoy on a Friday evening.  89 points. Matt Steeves –

Buy Kim Crawford Hawkes Bay Rosé at LCBO

Fruit for our Rosé comes from selected vineyards in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. The Malbec and Merlot grapes were harvested and destemmed. The juice then soaked on skins for three hours to extract a pretty pink colour before being pressed. The clarified juice was cool fermented with selected yeast strains to retain the primary varietal characters. The final blend was then stabilised, filtered, and bottled.

The colour of this rosé is so intense and attractive. Made from Merlot and Malbec grapes, the nose displays strawberry, cran-cherry, and pepper. Dry, and well structured. This rose has tannins, which isn’t uncommon, but nice to see. A terrific wine to enjoy as an apertif, with spring salads, pan seared fish, Thanksgiving meals or simply enjoy on its own. 89 points. Matt Steeves –


Buy Inniskillin Pinot Noir at LCBO

Inniskillin’s Niagara Estate Series Pinot Noir offers terrific value for what’s often a very expensive wine style, regardless of where it comes from. At $15.95 you’d be hard pressed to find better value priced Pinot, especially Canadian Pinot Noir.
Stylistically very easy-going with a silky smooth palate, that’s jam packed with delicious cran-cherry, herbs, smoke, and vanilla. An ideal wine to enjoy in the fall, serve slightly chilled alongside grilled salmon, roasted poultry, or pork tenderloin dishes. 89 points. Matt Steeves –





Buy Meiomi Pinot Noir at LCBO

Meiomi’s 2014 Pinot Noir is a blend of Pinot Noir from three beautiful wine regions along the California coast: Monterey County (48%), Sonoma County (27%), and Sanata Barbara County (25%). Each lot was individually fermented and aged in 100% French oak, 60% new, to add additional texture whilst preserving the elegant and complex fruit characteristics. Blended to achieve the greatest complexity, the result is a very expressive, dry, and flavourful medium-full bodied Pinot Noir. The nose shows dried cranberry, black cherry, cedar, and a slight earthiness. The palate is loaded with sweet dark fruit, black cherry, dried cranberry, mocha, baking spices, and kirsch. Big and bold, this creamy-smooth Pinot is the finest vintage of Meiomi I recall tasting. They’ve struck a beautiful balance in this vintage. Very impressed. Enjoy with braised lamb, roasted pork with fruit chutney, or one of my favourites – Thanksgiving Turkey dinner with sweet cranberry sauce. 91 points. Matt Steeves –


Now, here are some wines that many North American’s aren’t too familiar with or perhaps don’t understand well enough to choose over single varietal wines that are sitting next to them on the shelf…which is a shame when you taste what’s in these bottles.  The region and style is Valpolicella, and its home to one of Italy’s most famous group of wines, and Romeo and Julietta.  Valpolicella region, situated beside Verona and going up into the Lessini Mountains (essentially the foothills of the Alps), produces five different red wines, each a blend of a handful of local varietals, from the tasty and not overly complicated Valpolicella Classico, to the Vapolicella Superiore, the super value priced Ripasso, the iconic Amarone, and the sweet ending of Ripasso.   These are fun and incredibly food friendly wines, which are also easy to drink making them super popular to those fortunate enough to know what Valpolicella has to offer.  Typically they display powerful aromatic bouquets, have velvety smooth textures with rich dark fruit, cherry, and dried fruits persisting a the very enjoyable finish. Valpolicella wines also tend to be softer and less tannic than the wines from Tuscany, Piemonte, and certainly Bordeaux making them ready for immediate enjoyment although the high-end offerings also have legs to cellar for decades.

In any event, here are a few Valpolicella wines that I’d recommend checking out this fall, and why not start with pouring some during your Thanksgiving long weekend. As you’ll see, they’re delicious!


Buy Torre del Falasco Ripasso at LCBO

A traditional Vapolicella blend of Corvina Veronese, Corvinone, and Rondinella. Cantina Valpantena’s Torre del Falasco Ripasso underwent a second fermentation on the skins of the premium Amarone Torre del Falasco which added flavour, texture, and colour to the wine. 30 minutes after popping the cork the aromas have opened up and are in full force. The nose shows dried cherries, herbs, spice, cedar and leather. This food friendly Ripasso has great texture with subtle tannins which help further complement hearty autumn dishes. Tasted recently with a Buttenut Squash and Chickpea Chili and they were simply delicious together. Enjoy this versatile Ripasso with hearty dishes, pasta, or ripe cheese. Terrific quality price ratio. Tasted October 2016. 89 points. Matt Steeves –

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Chili – a perfect match with Valpolicella, Ripasso, and Amarone.



Buy Remo Farina Montefante Riserva Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2010 – $59.95 at LCBO

This is exactly the style of Amarone that so many love, including myself. A blend of 45% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella, 5% Molinara, and 5% Dindarella from Farina’s Montefante vineyard was aged for two years in Slavonian oak barrels, followed by another two years in barrique, before one year in bottle prior to release. Montefante shows a terrific blend of sweet dried fruits, black cherry, cassis, dark plums, baking spice, along with rustic and savoury notes that provide further complexity and add even more food pairing opportunities to an already super versatile style of wine. Full bodied with no corners anywhere in sight, it’s round and refined with a great medley of sweet dried fruits, baking spices, and those rustic and savoury flavours including leather, pepper, smoked meat, with dusty tannins on the long finish. After five years this beauty will deliver decades of pure enjoyment for those willing to tuck it away. If patience isn’t your strong suit, not to worry, it’s gorgeous now! Enjoy the finer things in life and pour yourself a glass of Amarone tonight. Tasted October 2016. 94 points. Matt Steeves –



Buy Remo Farina Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2013 – $39.95 at LCBO

Bold, layered, and full flavoured – Farina’s Amarone is a wine that everyone will love! Rich and delicious, it’s packed full of black cherry, plum, dried figs, nutmeg, BBQ smoke, and cedar. Full bodied with a velvety smooth texture, sweet dried fruits and refreshing savoury flavours persist on the long finish. It’s no wonder why Canadian’s love this Amarone so much! Enjoy with Risotto all’Amarone, beef medallions with figs and blue cheese, and save a splash for dessert and enjoy with dark chocolate – all incredible pairings with this wine! Tasted October 2016. 93 points. Matt Steeves –

Have a great Thanksgiving and I hope you enjoy some tasty wines with your meals and entertaining!


Matt Steeves

Matt Steeves – Sommelier, Wine Writer, & Director with the National Capital Sommelier Guild – follow Matt on Twitter @Quercusvinoor



Wine glasses, which ones are best for you? As seen on CTV Morning Live Sept 2, 2016

CTV Morning Live

September 2, 2016, 9:15AM

Ottawa, ON


Today on CTV Morning Live, CTV’s Lianne Laing and Sommelier Matt Steeves discussed the intriguing world of wine glasses…the different shapes, sizes, and functions and what you may want to consider when you’re looking to get some for your home.

There are so many shapes and sizes of wine glasses to choose from, before  you even consider material (crystal, glass, plastic, etc.).  It can be a bit overwhelming trying to select which one(s) to buy but it doesn’t have to be.  Today on CTV Morning Live, Sommelier Matt Steeves helped simplify that decision by highlighting a few considerations that will help you choose the stemware best suited for you.

Before we get into it, there are all sorts of reasons why people use certain wine glasses over others.  For some its a result of very technical considerations, while for others, not so much, perhaps it’s because that’s what was available at the grocery store and guests were on their way over.

For those that make a living in the world of wine, such as Sommeliers, wine makers, or wine writers, for them selecting stemware is often a very thoughtful process that’s focused on enhancing or maximizing the visual, aromatic, and flavour characteristics of a specific wine to get the full enjoyment out of it, and believe it or not, each wine does show (look, smell, and even taste) a bit different in differently shaped glasses.

For some folks, their choice of stemware could be due to considerations such as entertaining preferences (outside, poolside, formal sit-down, etc.) or space restrictions in their home (e.g. the young grad student that only has enough cupboard space for 2 stackable stemless glasses).  It’s important to remember that there are no ‘wrong’ glasses for enjoying wine, well maybe those red flip-cup cups should be banned for wine consumption as they’re the least effective at enhancing the enjoyment of wine, although I’m guilty of using them out of necessity at various times throughout the year (although that’s when I really wish I had some inexpensive wine stemware to substitute in).

So, to help determine which wine glass(es) would be best for you I like to ask a few basic questions to understand preferences, routine, and any limitations.  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What kind of wine do you drink most often?  White, Red, Pinot, Bubbly? (Note: Each wine style will show best in wine glasses designed for that specific wine style and although it would be great to have various varietal-specific glasses it’s not necessary to have more than one or two different wine glasses such as a standard white (or red) wine glass and a Champagne flute, for example).
  2. Do you only drink one style of wine or do you enjoy all wines, and which one(s) do you drink most frequently? (Note: If you only ever drink white wine, then there’s no need to stock up on stemware for other wines, unless you entertain often and have wine-appreciating friends that enjoy a variety of wine styles…in this case perhaps buy some standard white and red wine glasses and keep the red wine glasses washed and ready to serve, but stored out of the way so you can grab them when guests come over).
  3. Do you typically have your wine indoors or are you most often enjoying a glass of wine while relaxing in the hottub? (Note: I ask this because enjoying wine outside, with the wind and other elements, means you may want to consider stemless crystal or, depending on how rowdy you or your guests get, those stemless plastic wine glasses that do a really good job at presenting the wine despite the plastic…check out stores like CA Paradis to pick some of those up as they’re very affordable and totally bulletproof.  CA Paradis even has stemless plastic Champagne flutes…perfect for enjoying outside perhaps while watching summer fireworks, movie in the park shows, or that romantic stroll with an impromptu bubbly picnic).
  4. Do you entertain often?  If so, how many people do you routinely have over that would be enjoying a glass of wine?  (Note: You can buy cases (6-12) of wine glasses very inexpensively at various stores around town, including Winners and Homesense.  They come in boxes that are handy for storage and often sell for only a few dollars a glass, making it very feasible if you have the space.  Of course CA Paradis and other kitchenware boutiques also sell the full range of stemware from the $30 case to the $300 case, so there’s something for every budget).
  5. How much space do you want to assign to storing wine glasses?  2, 6, 12, 18, 24+ glasses?   For those that entertain often, do you have space in a basement to store stemware when not needed?  (Note: if you entertain often and have the space, I say go for it, stock up on a case of glasses for the wines you’re enjoying most often…12 red, 12 white wine glasses, and perhaps some flutes for toasting those special occasions, although as you’ll see below, I like enjoying bubbly out of white wine glasses so keep that in mind if you aren’t too keen on having a truck load of wine glasses in your home.  Also, if you’re hosting a larger gathering, it’s quite easy to rent stemware and the best part about that, you don’t  need to wash the glasses when you’re done with them…just put those 48 glasses back in the trays and off they go.  This is a terrific solution for entertaining larger crowds and the benefits are totally worth the cost).

After you’ve answered those questions it should help guide you to understanding what you’re needs are and what would serve you best.

Now, lets get into talking about the differences in the various stemware options out there.

Here’s a infographic on some of the most common wine glasses…as you can see there’s no shortage of shapes and sizes, this is exactly why some people get overwhelmed with the thought of buying wine glasses, but remember you don’t need to sweat this as they’re no ‘wrong’ glass for the job.

Here is my short list of wine glasses that I prefer, minus the stemless options which aren’t shown here, perhaps as they’re sometimes not taking seriously despite certain very practical uses.

Let’s get into some of the differences between the various wine glasses…

Red and White:

Red wines have larger, rounder bowls with wider mouths when compared to white wine glasses.  Because white wines don’t need to be aerated to the extent of red wines, their bowls are smaller with narrower mouths therefore concentrating the delicate aromas and guiding them to the nose for full enjoyment.  Red wines often benefit from opening-up, getting a bit of air contact to release their rich aromas and soften the tannins that are present in red wines too, so for these reasons there’s a bit more volume in red wine glasses to permit swirling the wine for aeration. (Note: just because a wine glass is really big, doesn’t mean you should fill it up more…in fact, most wine glasses, particularly red and white, are meant to be filled about 1/3 (33%) thus leaving room for swirling and for the aromatics to get released for full aromatic enjoyment).

Smaller bowls on white wine glasses also help promote smaller and perhaps more frequent pours thereby ensuring the temperature of the chilled white wine stays cooler, versus having a large glass of white wine that after 30 minutes is room temperature and no longer crisp and fresh. Picture eating an ice cream sandwhich out of the freezer at the intended temperature versus eating it when it’s melted, all the components are the same but the texture and refreshing characteristics are no longer present.  That’s why I recommend smaller and more frequent pours and making sure you only fill a wine glass 1/3 full.

Sparkling Wine Flutes:

Flutes for sparking wine are typically tall and narrow and the purpose for that is to keep the effervesence (bubbles) in the wine as long as possible as that’s not only ‘sparkling’ to watch but also contributes to the texture and refreshing nature of sparkling wine. Drinking sparking wine out of a red wine glass, or worse, a red flip-cup cup,  would significantly shorten the life of the bubbles and quickly render the sparkling wine flat, possibly flabby, and certainly not the way its intended to be enjoyed.  Imagine drinking Coke from a 2L bottle that was opened 3 weeks ago…it lacks effervesence and tastes nothing like a fresh can of coke does.  Since texture in wine is so important it’s nice to enhance and preserve that texture and certain glasses do that best.

Not all flutes are the same though, a popular style of sparkling wine glass is the tulip shaped glass which is basically a blend of a white wine glass and a tall and skinny flute.  These are terrific for fine sparkling wines that you want to enjoy the aromatic profile of, such as vintage Champagne or traditional method wines.  I use tulip stemware often and if I don’t have one available my next best choice for enjoying fine sparking wine is a small white wine glass as it allows me to enjoy the aromas and keeps the bubbles well enough while I’m enjoying that glass of wine.  For this reason, if you’re limited for space and/or rarely drink sparking wine (which by the way I’d suggest incorporating more sparking wine into your meal planning as they’re so versatile and food friendly), then opt for some slightly smaller white wine glasses and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how well they work for enjoying nice bubbly.




Often I’m asked what are the differences between crystal and glass stemware?  And, why would I pay more for the crystal glasses?  Here’s some info on the differences between those materials (crystal and glass):

The biggest benefits I see in crystal glasses over glass stemware are that crystal glasses are actually very durable so they can be made very thin which is a quality of the finest crystal stemware and preference of mine and most Sommeliers I know.  The other key advantage of crystal over glass is that crystal stemware refracts light, which means just like a diamond refracts light in beautiful arrays, so does crystal (not quite to the same extent mind you), which makes wines look so brilliant, compared to the relatively dull and unimpressive appearance when in glass stemware.  Crystal stemware is available in most shapes and sizes, stem and stemless, and the same goes for glass stemware.  The one disadvantage is that there’s typically a higher price tag on crystal stemware, although if handled properly they’ll last a very long time (Sommelier tip, don’t do your hand washing after a big night of tasting wine….wait until the morning, trust me, even the fancy high durability crystal glasses break occasionally!).

If you enjoy wine outside on your patio often, and you have a happy dog that wags its tail, you may want to opt for stemless as they’re actually very stable when struck by wagging tails.  The same can’t be said for those tall slender wine glasses when the wagging tail hits.

So I hope this has helped inform your wine stemware selection a bit.  Remember, there’s no wrong glass for the job, but certain glasses do work better than others so just being mindful of that when you select your stemware means you’re well on your way to becoming a wine pro.


Matt Steeves

Matt Steeves – Sommelier, Wine Writer, & Director with the National Capital Sommelier Guild – follow Matt on Twitter @Quercusvino or







Back to School (wine) Supply List, as seen on CTV Morning Live Sept 2, 2016

CTV Morning Live

CTV Ottawa Morning Live

September 2, 2016. 8:20AM

Theme: Back to School Wines

Guest: Matt Steeves – Sommelier, Wine Writer, & Director with the National Capital Sommelier Guild – follow Matt on Twitter @Quercusvino or

Today on CTV Morning Live,  CTV’s Lianne Laing and Sommelier Matt Steeves showcased some great wines to enjoy this Back to School season. Wines that are perfectly suited for getting you through those homework assignments, mid terms, your kid’s teenage drama, parent teacher interview debriefs, and of course, that pair wonderfully with the foods we’re enjoying now from local producers.

Check out the video here


Back to school season means transitioning from the summer ‘routine’ and into the daily grind of packing lunches, frantic mornings, throwing meals together after a long day, homework, etc., and repeating that Sunday eve to Friday…for the next 10 months!


Could there be a better occasion for enjoying the occasional glass of wine!? I think not!


To help you with this assignment, I’ve included a Back to School (wine) Supply List that will ensure you’ve got all the right wines to kick start your back to school routine. These wines have all earned top grades!


With local fresh produce in season and widely available around town it’s a great opportunity to pair that freshly picked produce with complementary wines to enhance the appreciation of both. Since freshly picked produce tastes the best, now is a great time to visit your local farmer’s market and pick up some local goodies to enjoy with your glass of wine.


When I was walking through the Byward market the other day I couldn’t resist picking up a bag full of market fresh fruit and veggies, and preparing a few delicious meals throughout the week. I’ve included a few tasty recipes below that I highly recommend trying and enjoying the suggested wine pairings with too.


So, while you’re out shopping for school supplies, or killing time in between hockey practices, make sure you add some of these wines to that school (wine) supply list. Not only will you enjoy these wines with the foods we’re enjoying this time of year, but they’ll make the craziness of back to school that much more bearable!


Here are a few great wines to enjoy this Back to School season – treat this as your Back to School (wine) Supply List:


My A+ wine picks:


  1. Jackson-Triggs Reserve Series Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – $13.95 (great for post-parent teacher interviews…also great with Grilled Asparagus & Goat Cheese Aioli)


Jackson-Triggs Reserve Sauvignon Blanc is a fun and fruity expression of one of my grilled veggie-friendly white wines. Loads of fresh herbal notes, wrapped in sweet tropical and citrus fruits. Zesty citrus and herbal flavours persist on the crisp and clean finish. A great wine to enjoy with Grilled Asparagus with Goat Cheese Aioli, Pesto Shirmp Kebabs, or simply enjoy on its own. Tasted August 2016. 87 points. Matt Steeves –


  1. Vintage Ink Chardonnay 2014 – $16.95 (pair with your kids new tattoo…)


Vintage Ink’s 2014 Chardonnay has a great balance of tropical and citrus fruit, baked bread, baking spices, and subtle oak influence that produces a creamy and refreshing wine that’s well suited for enjoyment with dishes like penne with shrimp and herbed cream sauce, or creamy saffron and seafood fettuccine. It’s also delicious when served chilled out of a S’Well thermos to complement a picnic with some grilled chicken and avocado sandwiches. Tasted June 2016. 88 points. Matt Steeves –

  1. Featherstone Winery Rosé 2015 – Vineland, ON – $15.95 (A must after a long day of work, school, evening activities)


Featherstone 2015 Rosé: Featherstone’s 2013 Rosé won an impressive double gold medal at the 2014 Ontario Wine Awards. Year after year this value priced wine delivers on quality and taste, in a dry and palate cleansing style, making it a great wine for any occasion. Dry with juicy fruit, it’s super versatile, making it great on its own, and complements charcuterie platters, grilled fish, or sweet and tangy BBQ dishes. Tasted August 2016. 88+ points. Matt Steeves –

  1. Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir 2014 – British Columbia – $28.95 (Teacher’s Pet – flawless!)


Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir 2014 – An incredibly charming Pinot Noir from Canada’s pocket desert, the Okanagan Valley. Terrific growing conditions couple with world-class winemaking expertise and of course the volcanic soils on the Quails’ Gate estate vineyards each contribute to making this wine remarkably complex, refined, and balanced. Sweet dark cherries, baking spice, dried herbs, and a touch of leather lead to a long and silky smooth finish. Subtle tannins give this beautiful Pinot a very warm and inviting texture that makes it ideal with grilled salmon or artisanal cheese platters. Fantastic value. For me this is a buy by the case wine to be enjoyed over the next two years, all year round. Tasted August 2016. 92 points. Matt Steeves –


  1. Young Brute 2014 – Australia – $18.95 (the high school jock of wines – bold and powerful and awesome when devouring a few burgers)


A juicy, robust, smooth Australian red wine blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes produced by the Casella family. Loaded with flavours of fleshy ripe purple and black plums, blueberries and toasty oak (but not too muck). Mouth-watering and mouth-filling: this wine packs a punch without being overpowering, which is quite remarkable for a young brute. A terrific regional expression of Wrattonbully which experience a windty but dry spring followed by a hot summer in 2014 for tremendous depth of ripening and flavour. A luscious finish with some eculypt and dark spice. Pair with a juicy steak or hamburgers. 89 points – Natalie MacLean.

  1. Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – California – $26.95 (Touchdown! The QB of the team, he’s smart, handsome, a leader in every way).


Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – Rutherford Ranch excels in the production of high quality, complex, and consumer friendly wines. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, from Napa Valley, shows concentrated deep dark fruit, sweet spice, vanilla, herbs and earthiness on the nose followed by a silky smooth and well integrated palate that perfectly integrates the refreshing fruit with the mouth covering tannins. Very well balanced and what a bargain for a beautiful Napa Cab! All in all, this is one heck of a sexy beast that’s sure to please…Tasted September 2015. 91 points. Matt Steeves –

  1. Ferrari Perlé Metodo Classico 2007 – Italy – $39 (Ph.D in quality and taste, and perfect for celebrating those A+ grades)


 Ferrari Perlé 2007: Ferrari Perlé 2007 was recently awarded finest sparkling wine in the world, outside of Champagne, “World Champion Sparkling Wine Outside Champagne” in the “Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships” organized by Tom Stevenson, the world’s foremost authority on sparkling wine.

This is an exceptional Metodo Classico Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine, produced from 100% estate grown Chardonnay, from the finest high altitude hillside vineyards in Trentino. The 2007 was aged for over 5 years on its lees, then cellar-aged the balance of its life. Now 8 years old, it’s reached incredible complexity and harmony in every imaginable way. The colour is straw yellow with a rich golden hue, indicative of its age and the complexity that you’re soon to experience with that first sip. Rich and nutty, with citrus and tree fruit accents, it’s very fresh in the glass, and above all displays the elegance and harmony one expects from a fine Italian luxury product. When there’s a major milestone to celebrate I can’t think of a more appropriate sparkling wine than this premium vintage Ferrari. Enjoy with pasta carbonara, rich German cuisine, or elegant Japanese cuisine. Tasted October 2015. 94 points. Matt Steeves –

Ferrari was also recently nominated for ‘Best European Winery’ by Wine Enthusiast at the Wine Star Awards, the prestigious prize that the American magazine will hand out at the end of 2015. The winners will be announced in the Wine Enthusiast’s special “Best of Year” issue, and they will be honoured at a gala black-tie dinner in New York City on Jan. 25, 2016.






Here is some good ole Back to School wine humor. If you like wine, and are facing back to school you’ll like this:


Here are some delicious recipes that  make the most out of fresh local produce and wines. Highly recommended!

Grilled Asparagus with Goat Cheese Aioli

Asparagus is among the earliest and tastiest crops of the season. It is actually a perennial and the tender spears are shoots. Look for bright green stalks with tightly closed, compact tips. Jackson-Triggs Reserve Sauvignon Blanc VQA is the perfect match with its citrus, grassy and gooseberry aromas and bold, refreshing taste.


Serves 6

1 large bunch of asparagus

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 cup                   goat cheese aioli (recipe below)

1 cup                   crispy shallots (available at most Asian grocery stores)

Preheat your BBQ to high heat.

Break off the bottom of the asparagus stalk, roughly 1” from the base. This lower portion of the stalk is “woody” and needs to be removed. Clean the asparagus by rinsing in cold water and drain.

In a large bowl, toss the asparagus in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Grill over high heat for roughly 4 minutes, or until just tender.

Remove from grill and cut into bit size pieces.

To finish, top the asparagus with crispy shallots and serve with goat cheese aioli on the side.

Goat cheese aioli

1                   egg yolk

2 tbsp                   white wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh goat cheese

1 tbsp                   roasted garlic

1/2                   lemon, juiced

Salt and pepper to taste

Add yolk, vinegar and 1 tsp of warm water to a food processor.

Turn the food processor on low and begin to add the olive oil SLOWLY, in a very thin stream.

Next add goat cheese, garlic and continue to blend until well combined and smooth.

Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Wild Leek and Potato Soup with Wilted Leek Greens

Leeks are easy to grow from seed and are a hardy vegetable. To clean leeks, cut off the root, and then slice through the green ends of the leek, leaving the white part whole. Fan open the leek and place under cold running water to thoroughly rinse out any dirt or sand in between their layers.The white portion of the leeks have a sweeter milder flavour than onions. Pair this hearty soup with Jackson-Triggs Reserve Chardonnay VQA.


Serves 6

3 tbsp                   butter

1                   medium onion, diced

18                   wild leeks or 3 farmed leeks, green tops reserved and the whites roughly chopped

2                   garlic cloves, minced

3                   potatoes, peeled and roughly diced

8 cups                   vegetable stock

1 tbsp                   olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a medium size pot over medium high heat.

Add the onion, the whites of the leeks and garlic, cook while stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes, or until the vegetables just begin to soften.

Add in potatoes and vegetable stock. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and simmer until the vegetables are completely tender (roughly 30 minutes).

Clean the leek greens, cut into thin strips and reserve.

Transfer the soup to a blender. Blend on high speed for at least 1 minute to ensure a smooth texture.

Season with salt and pepper. Add additional stock or water to adjust consistency if needed.

Return the soup to a clean pot and keep warm over low heat.

Heat a small pan over medium high heat. Add in the olive oil and leek greens. Cook until just wilted, then use the leeks and the olive oil to garnish the soup.

Root to Tip Radish Salad

Radishes are fast-growing, with the seed germinating in three or four days and the crop maturing in three to four weeks. Appreciated for their crisp texture and mild, tangy and sometimes peppery flavour, radishes are great in salads like this one that pairs nicely with Jackson-Triggs Reserve Riesling Gewurztraminer VQA.


Serves 6

10-12                   radishes with their greens attached

6 cups                   baby arugula

6 cups                   baby kale

1 bunch                   basil (green or purple)

1 bunch                   chives

1/2 cup                   warm butter vinaigrette (recipe below)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the radish greens from the root, rinse and place the greens into a large bowl with the arugula and kale.

Slice the radish root very thinly, preferably using a mandolin.

Gently pick the basil leaves and slice the chives very finely.

Toss the greens with sliced radish and herbs.

Add the warm butter vinaigrette to the greens and mix well.

Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste.

Warm Butter Vinaigrette

1/4 cup                   salted butter

2 tbsp                   white wine vinegar

1 tbsp                   Dijon mustard

1 tbsp                   honey

2 tsp                   truffle oil, optional

2 tsp                   truffle paste, optional

Melt the butter in a small pan over low heat.

Once melted, whisk in white wine vinegar, mustard and honey.

If using, add truffle oil and truffle paste.

Use this vinaigrette while warm.

I love this with a nice Merlot!

Warm Beet Salad with Charred Mushroom Vinegar

The beetroot is often enjoyed boiled, roasted, pickled or raw. Raw, they are crunchy and when cooked they turn soft and buttery. Not all beets are red/purple in colour – there are also golden and candy cane beets. Whatever the colour, they are all nutritious and sweet. This recipe also uses the green, leafy tops and pairs well with Jackson-Triggs Reserve Merlot VQA.

Serves 6

9                                     medium size beets, tops on

1 small                   red onion, finely diced

1/2 cup                   hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

6 tbsp                                     mushroom vinegar (recipe below – make 2 days prior)

4 tbsp                                     olive oil

3                                     stalks rosemary, picked and chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400˚F.

Cut the stalks and leaves off of the beetroot. Remove the stalks from the leaves then cut the leaves into bite size pieces.

In a pot, cover beets with cold water and cook until fork tender.

While still warm, wipe the skin off of the beets using a kitchen towel or paper towel.

Allow to cool then cut into wedges.

Toss the cut beets with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in a high sided roasting pan.

Roast the beets for 10 minutes then remove from oven. While warm, mix through the beet greens, mushroom vinegar, red onion and rosemary.

Transfer to a serving dish and top with hazelnuts.

Mushroom Vinegar

500 g                                     mushroom stems (preferably shiitake)

500 mL                   seasoned rice vinegar

100 mL                                    soy sauce

Over high heat grill or pan sear the mushroom stalks until a medium char exists.

Mix together the soy sauce, vinegar and stalks.

Place into a covered container. Allow to sit for at least 2 days before using.


Scotch in the Capital – Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy pours their finest for Ottawa Sommeliers

Quercus Vino Ottawa – August 2016.

Recently on a beautiful Ottawa summer day I had the pleasure of spending a few hours at one of my favourite restaurants, The Shore Club, with representatives of Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, two of Scotland’s prized Whisky distilleries each having a rich heritage and loyal worldwide following.


Hamish Torrie is the company’s Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and he’s been with them now for over 18 years and played an instrumental role incorporating these two famous Scotch distilleries under the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy company when they were acquired by LVMH in 2005.

Hamish lead us through a tasting of two Glenmorangie Whiskies, followed by two Ardbeg Whiskies.

Glenmorangie is famous for having the highest stills in the industry.  This is one of the reasons why they produce such smooth, complex, and approachable Whisky.

Ardbeg is perhaps best know as the peatiest Whisky on the market.  If you like super smoky, peaty Scotch then you probably already have a soft spot in your heart for Ardbegh, as I do!

Here Hamish describes some unique elements of each distillery.

Here are a few of my notes:


Glenmorangie – The Original


The original expression of our elegant, floral spirit and the real backbone of the Glenmorangie range. A ten-year-old single malt, Glenmorangie Original is produced by marrying the delicate spirit that emerges from Scotland’s tallest stills, with first and second fill American white oak casks.

It is here, maturing for ten long years in a range of ex-bourbon casks such as our famous slow-grown and air-dried ‘designer casks’ from Missouri, that our raw spirit develops a perfect balance between sweetness and complexity. Resulting in a mature spirit that is soft, mellow and creamy. Perfect for enjoying at any time.

Aroma: Creamy vanilla, gentle lovely spices, citrus fruit.

Taste: Creamy, citrus, spice, with a hint of banana chips.

Finish: Very soft with a spicy finish and more sweet banana chips.



Buy at Vintages – $69.95

Here Hamish describes a few considerations that make Glenmorangie Original so unique and wonderful.



Glenmorangie – Milsean


Glenmorangie Milsean (Scots Gaelic for ‘sweet things’ and pronounced ‘meel-shawn’) is a single malt whisky full of intense candied fruit flavours and mouth-watering sweetness. It has been created from Glenmorangie matured in ex-bourbon casks and then extra-matured in former wine casks, re-toasted for the purpose. This distinctive cask preparation replicates something of the moreish sweetshop flavours in a single malt whisky.

It is the seventh annual release in our multi-award-winning and always intriguing Private Edition range. And Glenmorangie Milsean, with its remarkable sweetshop allusions, may be the most intriguing of them all.

Rich copper colour, with sweet perfumed notes of sweet corn, creme brulee, touch of molasses, spice, and candied orange.  Non-chill filtered giving it more texture and taste.  A very impressive Whisky. Highly recommended.


Buy at Vintages – $177.95  

Here Hamish describes a few considerations that make Glenmorangie Milsean so special, making them a highly sought after product for Whisky lovers and collectors.


Ardbeg Ten Years Old Whisky


Ardbeg Ten Years Old is revered around the world as the peatiest, smokiest, most complex single malt of them all. Yet it does not flaunt the peat; rather it gives way to the natural sweetness of the malt to produce a whisky of perfect balance. Named World Whisky of the Year in 2008.  It’s non chill-filtered with a strength of 46% ABV.

Light gold in colour, this smoky peat-rich Whisky bursts with complex layers of sweet and savoury flavours.  Smoky citrus fruit, espresso, smoked meat and fish, briney, it would be idea with salty Charcuterie platters, or freshly sucked oysters with a splash of Ardbeg on top. Highly recommended!

Buy at Vintages – $99.95



Matured in dark Sherry casks, imparting waves of treacle toffee, coal tar, squid ink, noodles and toasted coffee grounds.Inspired by our turbulent past, this whisky is a clandestine meeting of Ardbeg matured in ex-bourbon casks and a heart matured in dark sherry casks. The darkest Ardbeg ever.

Super richly coloured.  Indicative of the aromas and flavour that are to follow.

At first meaty, earthy and spicy. Bold notes of dark chocolate emerge against orange, rich treacle toffee, coffee and oak. Wafts of a distant, smoky bonfire in the background, along with a mysterious floral note, like flowering blackcurrant bushes. And lashings of linseed oil.
The mouthfeel is almost tart, or zesty lime. Raisins, dates, ginger and pepper spice surge forward, then retreat. Waves of smouldering charcoal, wood polish and huge, tarry creosote notes follow. Finally a more savoury note escapes; cured smoked ham and squid ink noodles.

Long, spicy and rich with lingering notes of toffee, coffee and tar.

Buy at Vintages – $201.95

Here Hamish lets us in on one of their secrets for producing the coveted Dark Cove.


If you have a chance to try any of these fine Whiskies I’d strongly recommend it.  And since Scotch doesn’t have any shelf life limitations, it’s great to buy them when they’re available and start building your own Scotch library one bottle at a time which can grow to an impressive selection after a number of years.

Also, if you’re in downtown Ottawa make sure you check out the Shore Club as it’s one of the nicest restaurants around and has delicious food, beverages, and top notch service!  If you do go, you’ve got to start your meal with their Whisky Sour…incredible!





The fine line-up of Glenmorangie and Ardbeg Scotch –  available across Canada and at Vintages in Ontario.


Matt Steeves – Sommelier, Wine Writer, & Director with the National Capital Sommelier Guild – follow Matt on Twitter @Quercusvino or

A Twist on Summer Cocktails as seen on CTV Morning Live

CTV Morning Live

CTV Ottawa Morning Live

July 20, 2016. 9:15AM

Theme: New Twists on Summer Cocktails

Today on CTV Morning Live, CTV’s Melissa Lamb and Sommelier Matt Steeves served up some easy to make and super refreshing ice cold summer cocktails.  Check out the video link here .

When the temperature is sky rocketing there’s nothing like an ice cold cocktail to keep you refreshed.

Ice cold cocktails are the perfect solution to cooling off on these hot summer nights. With a few simple ingredients, you can easily craft your own signature iced cocktails that you and your guests will love!

A few tips for serving ice cold drinks in the heat of the summer…

  1. Put down that massive pint glass…bigger isn’t always better when it comes to serving and enjoying ice cold drinks in the heat of the summer.  This time of year I recommend smaller glasses with smaller and more frequent pours.  Smaller glasses, loaded with ice, means you’re going to enjoy that beverage served cold (as planned) and not end up with a watered down jug of melted ice had you opted for the 32 oz super sized mug.
  2. Use big ice cubes.  Small ice cubes or crushed ice will melt faster than large cubes meaning your special drink is more likely to get watered down and lose the flavour profile you intended when you mixed it.  Bigger is better in this case.
  3. Use small cans of tonic water and club soda to get the most fizz.  2L bottles tend to go flat quickly which means you’re not getting the full texture your drink is supposed to deliver.  I prefer the small 222ml cans of club soda and tonic water versus the 355 ml cans as the smaller cans are perfect for one drink and they seem to pack more fizz too.
  4. Whenever possible use freshly squeezed lemon and lime over the bottled alternatives.  You know exactly what you’re getting when you squeeze a lime on your own and there’s nothing fresher than that.
  5. Keep your vodka, gin, and other spirits in the freezer prior to service to help keep your cocktail as cold as possible.

Following those few tips will help make your cocktails some of the finest your guests will enjoy all summer long!

Before we get into the iced cocktails that I showed on CTV today, here are a couple of my favourite (world renowned) iced cocktails. The Mint Julep and the Moscow Mule.

The Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. It’s been enjoyed by many for a long time. Tasty and super easy to make, it’s the perfect iced cocktail for any size gathering you may be hosting and it’s a fantastic cocktail to enjoy in the summer heat. The Mint Julep is a blend of premium Bourbon, mint, sugar, and lots of ice. I’ve used the premium Basil Hayden’s Bourbon in my premium mint Julep.


Classic Mint Julep with premium Bourbon. Basil Hayden’s


Another favourite iced cocktail is the Moscow Mule. This cocktail became popular during the vodka craze in the USA during the 1950s. The Moscow Mule is made with a high quality vodka, a spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, garnished with a slice or wedge of lime. It is usually served in a copper mug. I like to mix my Moscow Mules with Kealy’s Diamond Vodka (recognized as the World’s smoothest Vodka) or an Ontario craft vodka, Georgian Bay Vodka – a recent double gold winner and best Vodka at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. I’ve used local Ottawa produced Harvey & Vern’s Ginger Beer to add that spicy and sweet kick to the drink.


Classic Moscow Mule with premium Vodka and Harvey & Vern’s Ginger Beer


Here are some other super delicious iced cocktails that you may not have heard of before but are absolute dynamite and work perfectly at keeping you refreshed this summer:



Cucumber Basil Gin and Tonic



Serves: 2


  • 3 oz Georgian Bay Gin
  • 2 oz Lillet Blanc
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 sprigs basil, plus more to garnish
  • 1 cucumber
  • Tonic
  • Ice



  1. Using a vegetable peeler, slice thin ribbons of cucumber and place in your cocktail glasses. From the remaining cucumber, cut off 5-6 chunks to muddle into the cocktail, and save the rest.
  2. Squeeze the lime juice into a cocktail shaker and add the gin, Lillet, basil, and cucumber chunks.
  3. Muddle the ingredients well, and then add ice.
  4. Shake well, then pour to divide between 2 glasses. Top with tonic and garnish with basil.



cq5dam_web_1280_12801Georgian Bay Gin is one of Ontario’s newest craft gins, having only established in 2013, they’ve got off to a great starting having won silver medals twice at international competitions and quickly made its way to the top rail of many fine establishments. Made from malted barley, Georgian Bay Spirits Co. credits the source water (an aquifer in Elmvale, Ont. — said to be the cleanest water in Canada) for their award-winning spirits smooth mouth-feel and clean flavour profile.
I tasted Batch 16, bottle 1025, and couldn’t agree more. Fresh, with sweet and aromatic botanicals, the Juniper berries and slight pine notes give way to a fresh sea breeze. Smooth and clean on the palate, with all elements in balance; no sharp edges on this beauty. A fantastic gin to mix with any cocktail. Why not try a Strawberry Basil Lemonade Cocktail or a Cucumber Basil G&T this summer. Cheers! Tasted July 2016. 92 points. Matt Steeves –






Strawberry F’rosé


Choose a full-flavored, full-bodied, dark-colored rosé for freezing. It will lose some of its color and will be a bit diluted after freezing and blending; you want something that can hold its own.


Servings: Makes 4–6

Recipe Tips


  • Pour rosé into a 13″x9″ pan and freeze until almost solid (it won’t completely solidify due to the alcohol), at least 6 hours.
  • Meanwhile, bring sugar and ½ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Add strawberries, remove from heat, and let sit 30 minutes to infuse syrup with strawberry flavor. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl (do not press on solids); cover and chill until cold, about 30 minutes.
  • Scrape rosé into a blender. Add lemon juice, 3½ ounces strawberry syrup, and 1 cup crushed ice and purée until smooth. Transfer blender jar to freezer and freeze until frosé is thickened (aim for milkshake consistency), 25–35 minutes.
  • Blend again until frosé is slushy. Divide among glasses.
  • Do Ahead: Rosé can be frozen 1 week ahead.






Pineapple & Gin Frozen Cocktail

For best flavor, use fresh fruit. Freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet until solid.





  • 3 cups frozen pineapple pieces plus wedges for serving (optional)
  • 6 oz. Georgian Bay Gin
  • 2 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • Mint sprigs (for serving; optional)



  • Purée frozen pineapple, gin, simple syrup, lime juice, pineapple juice, and 2 cups ice in a blender until smooth and very thick (mixture will loosen immediately once poured). Divide among glasses and garnish with pineapple wedges and mint sprigs, if desired.






There are so many options when it comes to Sangria. Most common in Spain and Portugal, it normally consists of red wine, chopped fruit, a sweetener, and a small amount of brandy. Chopped fruit can include orange, lemon, lime, apple, peach, melon, berries, pineapple, grape, kiwifruit, mango, and anything else I’ve left out! A sweetener such as honey, sugar, syrup, or orange juice  is added. Instead of brandy, other liquids such as Seltzer or lemonade may be added. Sangria is steeped while chilled for as little as minutes or up to a few days, making it a great drink to prepare in advance of your pool parties so it’s full flavored and ready to enjoy as soon as your guests arrive.


Now if you’re in a rush and didn’t quite get around to making your Sangria in advance, there’s options for those with super busy lives. Most liquor stores sell variations of off the shelf, ready to be enjoyed, pop ‘n pour Sangria that simply requires a twist of the cap, some ice, and a bit of chopped fruit if you so please.

Yellow Tail Sangria is a great option that’s ready for immediate enjoyment.  Sells for $10.95 at LCBO.
Yellow Tail Sangria: A lively blend that offers pronounced citrus, strawberry and floral notes on the nose; the palate is medium-sweet with medium acid and a soft/full mouthfeel. Perfect for entertaining and serving with spicy tapas.






F’rosé Watermelon Slushies

frose watermelon slushies

  • Directions:
  • Cube 2 cups of watermelon and place in freezer until frozen solid.
  • Combine 1 cup (250ml, a 3rd of a bottle) of chilled rosé
  • Blend the frozen watermelon and chilled rosé until smooth and serve immediately. Given the high water content of watermelon, this drink has a tendency to separate quickly so best to serve immediately and not store in the fridge for any period of time.




Basil Watermelon Cocktail

Cool down with this refreshing mix of Georgian Bay Vodka, watermelon and ginger.



3  large basil leaves

1  slice peeled ginger

1  chunk watermelon

.5 oz Simple syrup

2 oz Georgian Bay Vodka

.5 oz Fresh lime juice

Splash of Ginger ale



1 Watermelon chunk and basil leaf

Glass: Rocks, or Mason jar.


In a shaker, muddle the basil, ginger, watermelon and simple syrup.

Add the Georgian Bay Vodka and lime juice, and fill with ice.

Shake well and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.

Top with ginger ale and garnish with a watermelon chunk and basil leaf.












1.5 oz Georgian Bay Gin

3  Basil leaves

2-3  Large strawberries (preferably deep red locally produced strawberries)

2 oz Lemonade

Splash of Club soda


1 Strawberry and basil

Glass: Double Old Fashioned



In a shaker, muddle the strawberries and basil leaves.

Add the Georgian Bay Gin and lemonade to the shaker and fill with fresh ice.

Shake, and strain into an Old Fashioned glass (or Mason jar).   Top up with ice and a splash of Club Soda and garnish with a strawberry and a basil leaf.



If you love crisp white wine (as I do!), then these refreshing Sauvignon Blanc based wine cocktails will be right up your alley on those warm summer days and evening!






  • 2 parts chilled Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
  • 3-4 pieces lemon wedge
  • .75 parts simple syrup
  • Pinch of mint
  • Lemon for garnish
  • Mint sprig for garnish
  • ice cubes


  1. Muddle Mint, lemon and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass over ice.
  4. Garnish with a mint sprig and lemon pinwheel.








2 parts Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

2 parts Green Tea

Splash Sparkling Water





  1. Allow tea to cool before pouring.
  2. Mix Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, cooled green tea and sparkling water in a Collins glass over ice.
  3. Garnish with thin strips of lemon and lime peel.



Cucumber Cocktail

Stay cool with this perked up party-pleaser. A cucumber and Kim Crawford cocktail will be your favorite sippable splash of summer.



  • 1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime thinly sliced
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 1/4 cup of local honey
  • 1 bottle of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 liter bottle carbonated water, chilled


In a large pitcher, combine cucumber, lime slices and 12 mint leaves in a large pitcher. In a small bowl, stir together lime juice and honey until combined. Pour over cucumber mixer, add wine, stirring gently. Cover and chill for at least two hours. (Recipe makes a batch. For single serving, use parts; 1 oz = 1 part).



CTV Morning Live’s Sommelier, Matt Steeves is a wine writer & Director with the National Capital Sommelier Guild – follow Matt and all his wine and drinks recommendations on Twitter @Quercusvino or




Nobilo Sauvignon and freshly shucked oysters – a perfect summer treat!

Summer 2016, Ottawa, ON.

By: Matt Steeves, Sommelier and Wine Writer.

I LOVE Sauvignon Blanc and I love fresh oysters.  So naturally when I saw this pairing  I had to share!

cq5dam_web_1280_1280QPW0YK95Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc represents some of the best of what New Zealand has to offer, with fresh, vivid flavours that consistently showcase the diverse qualities of New Zealand’s Marlborough region. Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc can be found at the LCBO for $16.95.


Here are some tips for enjoying Oysters at home:

The 5 ‘S’ To Enjoy Oysters at Home:

“Oysters, like wine, have a tendency to bring people together, open up conversation, throw inhibitions to the side and make a party unique.” John Belknap, owner of John & Sons Oyster House


Ten Tips To Select Oysters

  1. Buy oysters from a local fish monger and ask for ‘Select’ or ‘Choice’ grade oysters.
  2. Look for oysters that are tightly closed. Avoid oysters that have a soft or spongy shell.
  3. Choose oysters that are slightly rounded and evenly shaped, with a deep cup.
  4. The oyster should feel full. Tap on the shell, if it sounds hollow, put it back, it’s probably dead.
  5. A fresh oyster should smell like the ocean. If it smells off, you will know it’s not fresh.
  6. Plan to buy for 3 – 6 oysters per person.
  7. Size doesn’t matter when it comes to taste.
  8. Oyster flavour varies depending on the marine environment in which they are grown – “Merrior – similar to how terroir affects the complex taste of a specific wine – the flavour of the oyster varies depending on the marine environment in which it is grown.” John Belknap, owner of John & Sons Oyster House.
  9. You can get fresh oysters all year long. Depending on the season, weather and availability, you can get fresh oysters from either Canadian coast. During Canadian summer months, enjoy oysters from the southern hemisphere where it is currently winter, like New Zealand, and the cold waters produce firm plump oysters.
  10. When you bring the oysters home, store cup side down in a box or well ventilated basket in the refrigerator until ready to shuck and serve.


“Here in the Marlborough Sounds we have a Pacific Rock Oyster which is just delicious. The problem is, sometimes I find myself on a rocky piece of coast, surrounded by Rock Oysters, and the dilemma then becomes ‘how shredded am I prepared to let my fingers become before I’ve had enough oysters?’”

Dave Edmonds, Nobilo Winemaker


Five Easy Steps to Shuck an Oyster

Quick tip: Shuck just before serving. No more than an hour before consumption, preferably when your guests arrive – it is a great conversation starter.

  1. Items you need: Clean dish towel and oyster knife – Ensure you use a proper tool for shucking. An oyster knife costs about $8 -10.
  2. The flat part of the oyster is the lid and the rounded/deeper part is the cup – which holds the oyster and the briny liquid. The pointed end is the hinge. Lay the cup side down onto a dish towel and use the towel to securely hold the oyster down, with the hinge facing out.
  3. Insert the oyster knife through the hinge with the knife angled down. Twist the knife until you feel the hinge release.
  4. Then cut the two muscles by scraping the knife along the top of the shell to release the top muscle, then do the same to the bottom muscle. A quick hand motion down is best to release the bottom muscle without damaging the oyster meat.
  5. Check for any grit or shell fragments that may have fallen in and be careful not to spill any liquid.



Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc and oysters are the ultimate summer pairing! The crisp citrusy flavours of the wine work superbly with the salty minerality of the oysters.

  1. Serve oysters on crushed ice or rock salt.
  2. Serve with fresh lemon wedges and freshly grated horseradish, your favourite spicy cocktail sauce or a simple mignonette sauce.
  3. Serve with Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc, and savour the fresh, crisp, clean and tropical fruit flavours of the wine.
  4. Slide oyster into your mouth, chew and swallow. Take a sip of wine. Enjoy. Repeat.


For a visual on how to shuck and serve oysters, check out the video on

“Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc is a great match with any oyster. Of course the pineapple, melon and citrus notes are enough to get the palate going, but the bottom line for me is the juicy acidity we find in the wine that’s the ultimate foil to the richness and salinity of the oyster. Perhaps a little mignonette with your oyster? Why not mix it up with Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc instead of the wine vinegar.”

Dave Edmonds, Nobilo Winemaker


Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc represents the best of what New Zealand has to offer, with fresh, vivid classic flavours that consistently showcase the diverse qualities of the Marlborough region. Paired perfectly with seafood and summer salads, this wine offers aromas and flavours of tropical fruit. Available at the LCBO for $16.95.

For more information, visit



John is the proud owner of John & Sons Oyster House, which he started in 2008. A neighbourhood oyster house that brings the ease of a maritime pub to the heart of Old Toronto. John considers himself a compulsive entrepreneur that has been involved in the hospitality industry since the age of 15.

His passion for oysters started at a party, where he saw oysters being shucked. As soon as those mysterious oysters started to be opened, he felt something magical happen. The room became more lively, like an energy was release. He had never seen this before – and so began his love of oyster shucking and passion for sharing the magic that comes with it.  Follow @johnandsonsoysterhouse


Award Worthy Canadian Wines for Canada Day Celebrations as seen on CTV Morning Live

CTV Morning Live

CTV Ottawa Morning Live

June 29th, 2016. 8:15AM

Theme: Award Worthy Canadian Wines for Canada Day Celebrations

Today on CTV Morning Live, CTV’s talented Lianne Laing and Sommelier and CTV wine-guy Matt Steeves showcased some delicious award worthy Canadian wines that would be great for your Canada Day celebrations.

<<Watch the CTV segment here>>

The Canadian wine scene is thriving!  Year after year Canada continues to produce some of the finest wines on the planet.

That’s right, some of the finest wines are coming from right here in Canada.  That’s an achievement we should all toast to and there’s no better time than Canada Day to do so!

There is a lot to be proud of here in our own backyard and Canada Day is a great time to reach for a special bottle of Canadian red or white to celebrate with.

Today I’ve got a selection of Canadian wines from coast to coast that would be excellent to enjoy at your Canada Day party.  Starting from the West and heading East, we’ve got some real beauties from four provinces that are sure to put smiles on the faces of everyone at your Canada Day party!

Did you know, there are now 675 wineries in Canada from coast to coast.  Those 675 wineries are doing some seriously great things and it’s making a huge impact too.  In fact, the economic impact for our wine industry is massive, with an estimated annual impact of $6.8B being attributed to our Canadian wine industry.  That’s significant.  And it gets better!  Not only is drinking Canadian wine a smart thing to do, it’s an economic driver as every bottle of Canadian wine you purchase provides over $30 in economic impact.  My recommendation is you stimulate your taste buds (and the economy) by reaching for and enjoying some delicious Canadian wine.

6 billion

More good news.  Canadians are choosing and enjoying record amounts of Canadian wine. In fact, Canadians enjoy more than 1 billion glasses of Canadian produced wine every year, equal to 220 million bottles. That’s a huge testament to the growing popularity of Canadian wines and the maturing wine industry that continues to garner more and more international acclaim every year. This success is in part due to the leadership of the Canadian Vintners Association which helps ensure the continued growth and prosperity of the Canadian wine industry, and to wine lovers like you that buy and enjoy great Canadian wines with the special people in your life which in turn supports the hard working boutique wineries that take such great care to produce some of the finest wines available.

Local wine and food is a trend that’s here to stay and Canadian’s appreciate the benefits of enjoying high quality local products; products that reflect the local environment; products with great pedigree; and what a perfect pairing local wine and food is.  If you’re fortunate enough to get a chance to visit some of the beautiful wine regions across Canada this summer then I strongly recommend you do that and where possible try the restaurants that many of the wineries have on site.  I’ve never had a less than stellar meal at any winery in Canada and that’s also where I’ve had many textbook ‘perfect pairings’ which is always a fully stimulating treat for the senses.

So here’s my selection of Canadian wines from coast to coast that would be excellent to enjoy at your Canada Day party.

Starting in the west…


  1. Painted Rock Cabernet Sauvignon, Okanagan Valley, BC – $40 winery direct 


A beautiful full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon from award winning winery, Painted Rock, located in Canada’s ‘Bordeaux’, the Okanagan Valley. Deep, layered, and complex. The nose shows ripe dark berries, roasted beets, eucalyptus, cedar, and earth. Dry, with fine integrated tannins, this is a stellar estate Cabernet that will continue to shine over the next 10 years. Enjoy with braised beef dishes. Tasted October 2015. 91 points. Matt Steeves –



  1. Foxtrot Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, BC – $46 winery direct


The fruit for the 2013 Chardonnay was sourced from 18 year old Chardonnay
vines from the Four Shadows Vineyard at the foot of Campbell Mountain o the south end of the Naramata Bench. The fruit was picked on October 5, 2013. All of the fruit was immediately whole cluster pressed and cold settled in tank. The juice was then transferred to 50% new and 25% second fill and 25% third fill Francois Freres oak barrels and inoculated with four different yeasts. The wine underwent ML and was aged sur lie eleven months. After eleven months the wine waEdits racked from barrel, cold stabilized, and underwent a light filtration before going into
bottle. The 2013 Chardonnay is a medium to light lemon colour and has aromas of citrus, stone fruits and subtle spice. These flavours continue on the palate with a complex minerality framed by a rich mid palate with subtle spice, green apple and citrus fruits, and lengthy finish. – Foxtrot Vineyards






  1. 13th Street Winery Burger Blend (white) 2015, Niagara, ON – $14.95 at LCBO or winery direct


13th Street Winery has come out with what might be a burger-loving white wine drinker’s perfect summertime wine. Crafted with summer and BBQ season in mind, 13th Street’s winemaker, JP Colas, brought together two very popular grapes (66% Riesling, 34% Pinot Grigio) that are packed full of sweet orchard fruit (pear, apple), and spice. The creamy-smooth mouthfeel is backed with refreshing apple and spice on the long finish. Fantastic with seared tuna or salmon burgers, or go all out with a stacked Aussie burger with the lot (i.e. big, bold and delicious stacked burger topped with beets, pineapple, fried egg, and smothered in a creamy sauce). Look for it in LCBO in July or get some shipped to your door winery direct. Terrific wine for the price and perfect to enjoy this summer! Tasted June 2016. 89 points. Matt Steeves –



  1. 13th Street Winery Burger Blend (red) 2015, Niagara, ON – $14.95 at LCBO or winery direct


A unique blend of 53% Gamay Noir, 38% Pinot Noir, and 9% Merlot from the Niagara Peninsula. Burger Blend’s fruit forward profile is balanced wiht layers of raspberry, tangy dark cherry, plum, cranberry, cedar, herbs, and spice. This youthful wine is absolute dynamite when served slightly chilled with BBQ grub. Pick-up some O’Brien Farm ( beef and grill some gourmet burgers with your favourite toppings and see for yourself. Tasted June 2016. 89 points. Matt Steeves –


 5. Foreign Affair Amarosé 2015, Ontario – $18.95 at LCBO or winery direct


Foreign Affair Winery has done it again…they’ve produced another unique and remarkably delicious new style of wine combining the best features of two of my favourite wines, Italian Amarone and the king of the summer patio, Rosé. The 2015 Amarosé is a beautiful blend of 57% Pinot Noir, 22% Riesling, and 21% Chardonnay with small components of the Riesling and Pinot Noir having undergone the famous appassimento (drying of the grapes) to produce even more rich flavour, body, and complexity. The colour is a gorgeous salmon-rose gold that lights up in the summer sun like a fancy diamond. Bursting with sweet strawberry shortcake, cherry, watermelon and dried herbs, the palate strikes the perfect balance of sweet strawberry and refreshing cherry with a long and luscious finish. Enjoy with smoked salmon, grilled fish and seafood, charcuterie, or one of my favourites, while chillin’ with a few friends on your patio. A beautiful rosé that’s unlike all the others, and at $18.95 it offers exceptional value! Vintages release June 11, 2016. Tasted April 2016. 90+ points. Matt Steeves –



  1. St. Nicolas Ice Cider, Quebec – $26.95 at SAQ throughout Quebec


The best method to produce ice cider is to pick late harvest apples such as McIntosh and Cortland at the end of fall and leave them outdoors in open bins, to be exposed to the dry and icy St. Lawrence winds for three to four months. The longer the apples are exposed to the winter cold, the greater the sugar concentration and the better the cider they produce. If a dozen apples are needed to make a bottle of cider, up to fifty are necessary to produce a half-bottle of ice cider. Serve ice cold (4°C) and enjoy with berry desserts, foie gras, blue cheese (my favourite is Blue Benedictine where the monks from the Saint-Benoît Abbey started making blue cheese in 1943… Blue Benedictine is arguably Canada’s most famous blue and has won many awards including the overall Grand Champion at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix). Its velvety texture also makes it a first choice aperitif. My favourite pairing is homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Absolutely delicious!




  1. Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 2014, Nova Scotia – $25 winery direct or via LCBO


Benjamin Bridge has been making a real fizz in the sparkling wine scene over the past decade. This Nova Scotia (Canada) based winery is producing sparkling wines that rival those from Champagne and other storied wine regions around the world. A combination of ideal terroir for producing crisp & complex cool climate grapes, along with creative winemaking expertise, has resulted in world-class sparkling wines with incredible minerality each and every vintage.

Nova 7 is stylistically similar to Italy’s Moscato d’Asti, with its gentle effervescence, floral and orchard fruit aromas and flavours, that’s also produced in a off-dry low alcohol style. Unlike many Moscato d’Asti’s, Nova 7 is typically crisper, perfectly balanced, and loaded with refreshing minerality making it that much more versatile for food pairings from fresh cut fruit, to spicy Asian dishes, to the richest desserts available.

The 2014 vintage is a beautiful rose gold colour with a nose displaying sweet honey suckle, marigold blossoms, Asian pear, sweet ginger, and apple notes. Slightly effervescent, the initial taste profile is of sweet orchard fruit and fresh ginger, all backed with crisp refreshing acidity and a long mineral finish. Perfectly balanced, this off-dry wine is loaded with refreshing minerality making it a great choice for east coast seafood appetizers, sushi, tart berry desserts, or simply to enjoy on its own whether that be on a patio in the summer or throughout the year to make a special toast in the presence of some of your favourite people. Benjamin Bridge wines continue to be some of the most interesting I’ve tasted vintage after vintage and the 2014 Nova 7 is the finest vintage I’ve tasted yet! Tasted June 2016. 95 points. Matt Steeves – | @QuercusVino

BB Nova 7

Check out this delicious summer cocktail using Nova 7:


(from Benjamin Bridge’s website:

Since its release, Nova 7 has become not only the perfect summer sipper but a wine for all occasions. Requested over and over by fans to explore its potential in a cocktail, we partnered with top, local mixologist, Jeffrey van Horne (Lot 6), to create an original cocktail that would protect the defining elements of Nova 7 that make it a category unto itself.



  • Ice,  1 dash of Lavender tincture or 1 sprig of Lavender (or Rosemary as substitute),  3/4 oz Grey Goose Vodka,  1/2 oz Cointreau,  1 oz Grapefruit juice,  3 oz chilled Nova 7


  • Add ice to wine glass to chill.
  • Add lavendar to shaker tin or mixing glass. If using fresh lavendar or substituting with fresh rosemary, muddle lightly to bruise the herb and release essential oils.
  • Add remaining ingredients, except Nova 7, to tin or mixing glass. Fill with ice and seal.
  • Shake hard for 10 seconds, discard ice, strain mix into wine glass.
  • Top your wine glass with well-chilled Nova 7.
The Nova 7 Cocktail



  1. Benjamin Bridge Rose 2011, Nova Scotia – $45 winery direct


Benjamin Bridge recently released their 2011 Vintage Rosé, a beautiful blend of Pinot Meunier, Pinor Noir, and Chardonnay. A classic traditional method rosé, just like they do in Champagne, France, but this one is proudly Canadian and it’s guaranteed to capture the attention of anyone that’s fortunate enough to try it.
A very faint pink hue, the subtle colour is not indicative of the complex taste, seemingly endless palate cleansing micro bubbles, the medley of berries, brioche, match stick, and of course briny minerality. Enjoy this premium rosé with seafood, summer salads, or any special occasion that commands a quality sparkling wine. Enjoy now or cellar for 5+ years. Tasted March 2015. 92+ points. Matt Steeves –









wines of canada

This time of year Canadians celebrate “Canadian Wine Day” (@CanadianWineDay on Twitter), to mark the passing of Bill C-311 on June 28, 2012. Bill C-311 is the law that when passed has helped pave the way for permitting wine shipping across provincial borders, winery to consumer direct.  A big step to creating a Canadian wine culture and a giant leap to supporting our Canadian wineries.  Perhaps most importantly, now I can get some of my favourite BC and Nova Scotia wines shipped directly to me, and my wine loving friends in other provinces can do the same including enjoying the lovely Ontario wines that I do on a regular basis!


Matt Steeves is CTV’s wine-guy, a Certified Sommelier, Wine Writer, & Director with the National Capital Sommelier Guild – follow Matt on Twitter @Quercusvino or

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