Quercus Vino

Sommeliers. Ottawa & Vancouver

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

Matt’s Long Weekend Wine Picks & Tips

Gorgeous artwork by the talented Andy Potts – check out his site:

CTV Morning Live

CTV Ottawa Morning Live

May 16th, 2016. 8:20AM

Theme: Matt’s Long Weekend Wine Picks & Pro Tips

Today on CTV Morning Live, Sommelier Matt Steeves and the talented Lianne Laing showcased some terrific BBQ friendly wines to enjoy this long weekend, and throughout the summer.  Check out the video here: Matt’s long weekend wine picks as seen on CTV Morning Live

May 2-4 long weekend is a great time to get together with friends, fire up the BBQ and enjoy some refreshing wines.  

Although beer is a great choice when the temperature is sky rocketing, wines offer terrific food pairing options and knowing the right wine to pair with the right food is the key to ensuring perfect pairings, all summer long!

On that note, here are my top 3 pro tips for making terrific wine and food pairings.

Pro Tip #1: PAIR COLOUR WITH COLOUR (white with white, red with red…)

Pro Tip #2: CHILL IT! (chill white, rosé, and red wines in the summer)

Pro Tip #3: MATCH WINE with SAUCE (not just the protein)



If you can remember this one simple rule of thumb you’ll be well on your way to creating perfect pairings all summer long.

Match the colour of the food with the colour of the wine. Examples include: pale gold colour white wine (like Sauvignon Blanc) with white fish, or fresh summer salads with asparagus and goat cheese; golden white wines (like Chardonnay or Semillon) with roasted chicken or corn on the cob; rosé wines and Pinot Noir with seared tuna steak, salmon, charcuterie, or pork tenderloin; red wines with red meat (pair pork with lighter reds (like Pinot Noir or Gamay) and beef with more robust reds such as Malbec, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti (Sangiovese), Rioja (Tempranillo), or Zinfandel).

Pro Tip #2: CHILL IT!

When enjoying wine outside in the heat of the summer, chill it first.

That’s right, chill not only your white and rosé wines, but throw your red wines in the fridge or place them on ice before service to ensure they’re kept cooler than ambient temperature. Pinot Noir should be served around 10C-12C and big red wines should be served around 15C. If those wines get warm, they won’t be as refreshing as they otherwise would have been had they been properly chilled prior to service.

Chilled Pinot Noir and Gamay ,in the summer, are terrific wines to enjoy with grilled fish, burgers, or pork tenderloin. By keeping them slightly chilled the wines are going to be super refreshing and ideally suited with BBQ fare.


Pro Tip #3: MATCH WINE with SAUCE

Instead of pairing your wines just based on whether it’s fish, chicken, or beef, think of what sauce you may be placing on it and try to match the characteristics of the sauce with that of the wine (eg: sweet and spicy BBQ sauce on beef or chicken commands a wine with characteristics that are equally intense and that will stand-up to the sweet and tangy BBQ sauce), whereas lemon on fish or chicken pairs best with crisp white wines such as unoaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Gris.

Be mindful of the sauces you’re adding to your meat. Simply using salt and pepper is a great way to season fish and beef. Typically that will make the most options for wine pairing, whereas adding high sugar sauces such as BBQ sauce will make any dry red or white wines taste sour, so think ahead when planning your wine and food selections.

I’m a big fan of tangy BBQ sauces so I tend to reach for full bodied, slightly sweet white and expressive red wines which work out terrific. Examples include: slightly off-dry Riesling and Chenin-Blanc, or Zinfandel and Primitivo (same grape!) for the reds. These wines complement sweet and tangy foods perfectly! If reaching for a beer, Porter, or Russian Imperial Stouts offer great pairing for rich and tangy BBQ fare.


Pair spicy foods with wines that a bit of residual sugar (eg: Riesling, Alsatian Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Zinfandel, Moscato D’Asti). Residual sugar helps cool down spice and creates balance between the food and the wine. Benjamin Bridge’s Nova 7 is a great local choice for an off-dry, low alcohol refreshing white wine that’s perfectly suited for enjoying with spicy foods.   Other complementary wines include off-dry Riesling/ Gewurztraminer, or California Zinfandel, the red kind, not the ‘white’ Zinfandel…

Pro tip 4.1: avoid pairing spicy food with highly alcoholic or tannic wine (example: Italian Barolo). The heat of the food will actually intensify the alcohol and the tannins in the wine, which in turn will make the dish seem even spicier.

And never pair sweet food with a dry wine. Match the sweetness in your wine with that in your food to ensure one doesn’t taste bitter. I recommend that your wine be slightly sweeter than your food, otherwise your wine will taste bitter, and that’s no fun! An example is tangy BBQ sauce based pork tenderloin paired with a sweet and tangy California Zinfandel. The bold flavours in both the wine and the BBQ sauce covered pork will complement each other very well.


Pair BBQ fare with wines that have been aged in oak (eg: oaked Chardonnay, Fumé Blanc, Semillon, Zinfandel (same as Primitivo), Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon). Because oaked wines are often more intense, they can overwhelm the flavors in a dish, so they need to be paired with foods that match that intensity. BBQ grilled foods tend to balance that vanilla rich oaked intensity and allow the fruit flavors of the wine to shine.


Here are a few terrific wines to enjoy this long weekend, and throughout the summer, that are sure to complement your BBQ fare:

First up, lighter wines that complement BBQ’d seafood, grilled chicken and vegetables:

  1. Creekside Estate Backyard Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – Ontario – $24.95
  2. Mallee Rock Pinot Grigio – Australia – $13.95
  3. Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc – New Zealand – $14.95 (until May 22)
  4. Bolla Soave Classico 2014 – Italy – $12.90
  5. Foreign Affair Winery Enchanted 2014 – Ontario – $17.95

Next up, Rosé and Pinot Noir for enjoying with charcuterie, grilled/cedar plank salmon, burgers, pork tenderloin.

  1. Kim Crawford Pansy! Rosé – New Zealand – $17.95
  2. Niche Wine Co. Pinot Noir Blanc 2015 – British Columbia – $21 winery direct
  3. Niche Wine Co. Pinot Noir 2013 – British Columbia – $23 winery direct

Off dry whites and big reds with tangy BBQ fare, ribs, pulled pork, etc

  1. Jackson Triggs Riesling-Gewurztraminer – Ontario – $13.95
  2. Ravenswood Old Vine Vintners Blend Zinfandel – California – $17.95
  3. Four in Hand Shiraz 2013 – Australia – $19.95
  4. Mallee Rock Shiraz – Australia – $14.95
  5. Mike Weir Cabernet/Merlot – Ontario – $14.95 (until May 22)


First up, lighter wines that complement BBQ’d seafood, grilled chicken and vegetables:

Creekside Estate Backyard Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – Ontario – $24.95

Creekside’s Backyard Bubbly is a fizzy twist on their popular Backyard Sauvignon Blanc. Rich golden colour with crisp apple, guava, kiwi, fresh grassy notes, and a load of flinty minerality! Crisp and lively, the fine bubbles produce a palate cleansing frothy mousse that makes this a stellar complement to grilled fish, oysters, and asparagus with Parmesan cheese. A must this summer! Tasted May 2016. 90 points. Matt Steeves –




Oysters with Creekside Estate Winery’s Backyard Bubbly is a great way to kick off a patio party!



Mallee Rock Pinot Grigio – Australia – $13.95

Mallee Rock Pinot Grigio is a blend of 86% Pinot Grigio and the balance Sauvignon Blanc from a small parcel in the Marry-Darling Valley of South East Australia. Ripe, crisp, and refreshing, with sweet orchard fruit, honeysuckle, minerality, and fresh herbal notes making it terrific with grilled seafood, summer salads, or just enjoying on a patio in the summer sun. Tasted May 2016. 88 points. Matt Steeves –

Buy Mallee Rock Pinot Grigio at LCBO


Seared Tuna on a bed of citrus rich summer salad – a great complement to crisp and refreshing white wines.



Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc – New Zealand – $14.95 (on sale until May 22)

Sweet stone fruit, passion fruit, lemon-lime, and fresh cut grass on the nose. Palate is super refreshing with great acidity, tangy exotic fruit, and fresh herbal layers, that make this ideal with rich and spicy dishes. Enjoy with Green Curry with coconut, shrimp, and Thai basil! Fantastic value! Tasted August 2015. 90 points. Matt Steeves –

Buy Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc at LCBO

Bolla Soave Classico Retro 2014 – Italy – $12.90

Italian winery, Bolla, has been producing fine Italian wines for over 120 years. Their Soave Classico, (Soave meaning “soft” in Italian), is a silky smooth and well balanced wine that’s lovely when enjoyed with seared scallops, grilled fish, and summer salads. The 2014 Soave Classico shows ripe pear, citrus, and almonds, with a creamy and refreshing nutty finish. Soave is made from 100% Garganega grapes that are very popular in northern Italy but may not get noticed elsewhere when wine lovers are reaching for a refreshing white wine to refresh them in the heat. Next time you’re looking for a tasty and refreshing white, try a Soave Classico. A perfect wine for the summer sun! Tasted April 2016. 88 points. Matt Steeves –



Foreign Affair Winery Enchanted 2014 – Ontario – $17.95

A unique blend of Riesling and Chardonnay, two grapes that Ontario’s renowned cool climate excels in. The Foreign Affair Winery, as the pioneer in Canadian appassimento winemaking, have added even more complexity to this wine by re-passing the juice over partially-dried Chardonnay skins, just as is done with ‘baby Amarone’ (Ripasso) wines in Verona Italy after making the iconic Amarone wines. The nose shows wildflower honey, crisp yellow apple, and white pepper. Delicious orchard fruit on the palate; this dry and lively textured wine would be ideal with grilled seafood, tangy BBQ’d chicken, fish tacos, or just chilled on a patio. Terrific value, this will be a very popular white wine for patio season 2016. 89 points. Tasted April 2016. Matt Steeves –

Buy Foreign Affair Enchanted at LCBO


Grilled Fish Tacos pair wonderfully with crisp white wines




Next up, Rosé and Pinot Noir for enjoying with charcuterie, grilled/cedar plank salmon, burgers, pork tenderloin.



Kim Crawford Pansy! Rosé – New Zealand – $17.95

Don’t let the brilliant strawberry hue of this rosé fool you: this wine is bone dry and bursting with refreshment. Aromas of tiny flavour-packed field berries and a lick of orange zest on the finish. Perfect as a chilled aperitif or pair it with seafood, shellfish, salads and more rosé, of course. Highly recommended. Natalie Maclean

Hawkes Bay is one of New Zealand’s oldest wine regions, and one of the few that produces more red wine than white. Bordeaux varietals do exceptionally well here. Crafted from Merlot and Malbec, the Kim Crawford Pansy! Rosé will be a ripe, bright, juicy wine filled with suggestions of strawberry and watermelon. A fun, enjoyable wine with the backbone to accompany everything from summer salads to salmon to burgers.

Buy Kim Crawford Pansy! at LCBO


Using the natural beauty of fluorite stones, these limited-edition set of 6 wine gems keep a glass of the Kim Crawford (or any wine!) chilled for up to an hour, without diluting the wine’s vibrant flavors. Just put our gems in the freezer, then drop into your favorite glass of Kim Crawford wine. Best use: keeping you and your wine cool on a hot summer’s evening!


Wine Gems – chill your wine without diluting the taste and refreshing characteristics of your fine wine.  Makes a great gift for any wine lover!


Niche Wine Co. Pinot Noir Blanc 2015 – British Columbia – $21 winery direct

Summer in a bottle! Niche Wine Co.’s Pinot Noir Blanc is a unique and delicious twist on a patio-favourite wine! The 2015 Pinot Noir Blanc has a light coral-copper colour with a sweet and fragrant bouquet of strawberry, baked peach, blood orange, vanilla, and ginger.  Richly flavoured and very refreshing, it’s perfectly suited for a wide array of patio-foods, including charcuterie, sweet chili BBQ’d wings or shrimp kebabs, fresh and tangy summer salads, and is terrific on its own.  With direct to consumer shipping, it’s a breeze to get these wines shipped right to your door.  Highly recommended.  Tasted May 2016. 90 points. Matt Steeves –



Purchase Niche Wine Co. Pinot Noir Blanc winery direct


Enjoy BBQ’d sweet chili shrimp kebabs with Niche Wine Co. Pinot Noir Blanc

Niche Wine Co. Pinot Noir 2013 – British Columbia – $23 winery direct

This dynamic wine is light enough for salmon and rich enough for duck. Hints of cola and a light seasoning of clove on the nose are a result of the mixture of oaks. Flavours of sweet red cherry and cranberry combined with a deep ruby colour make this the kind of soft, silky wine you may not want to share. Niche Wine Co.

Buy Niche Wine Co Pinot Noir winery direct
BALSAMIC ROAST PORK TENDERLOINSRachael Ray 30 Minute Meals/Cooking for 10 in 30 Minutes Food Network Pork Tenderloins, Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Garlic, Steak Seasoning Blend, Salt, Pepper, Rosemary, Thyme
Rosemary grilled pork tenderloin – a perfect pairing with Niche Wine Co. Pinot Noir


Off dry whites and big reds with tangy BBQ fare, ribs, pulled pork, etc.

Jackson Triggs Black Series Riesling-Gewurztraminer – Ontario – $13.95

Ripe orchard fruit, honeysuckle, lanolin, and vanilla on the nose and palate.  Slightly off-dry with a creamy texture making this a very food friendly wine whether it’s with spicy Asian cuisine or tangy BBQ ribs and chicken, this value-priced aromatic white blend has it all.  Enjoy chilled with good company.  Tasted May 2016. 88 points. Matt Steeves –


Ravenswood Old Vine Vintners Blend Zinfandel – California – $17.95

There’s no wonder why this Zinfandel is the No. 1 around the world! From the inaugural vintage back in the early 1980s to today, iconic Zin producer, known as the Godfather of Zin, Joel Peterson, has been crafting this uber popular Zin for a few decades now and it continues to grow in popularity given its ripe and robust style. Ravenswood doesn’t produce ‘wimpy’ wines and this wine is proof of that! Enjoy with BBQ fare, pasta dishes, or spicy Asian cuisine. Highly recommended all year round. Tasted November 2015. 89+ points. Matt Steeves –

Buy Ravenswood Vintners Blend Old Vine Zinfandel at LCBO

Four in Hand Shiraz 2013 – Australia – $19.95

This fine Barossa Shiraz shows rich dark fruit, plum, black cherry, smoky bacon, mocha, leather and graphite. The palate shows refreshing dark berries, black cherry, pepper, and cacao. This Aussie Shiraz from Australia’s most famous Shiraz region, the Barossa Valley, is well structured and perfectly suited to enjoy with BBQ fare making it a great pick all summer long. Tangy ribs, gourmet burgers, smoked brisket, or charcoal grilled beef tenderloin are just some of my top picks for this Shiraz. Winemaker Chris Hancock, MW (Hon.) who’s crafted Penfolds Grange in the past, is to thank for this impressive value-priced Aussi Shiraz. Enjoy 2016-2020. Tasted May 2016. 90 points. Matt Steeves –

Buy Four In Hands Barossa Shiraz at LCBO
Gourmet burgers and pulled pork on a bun make a great pairing with Four in Hand Barossa Shiraz!


Mallee Rock Shiraz/Cab Sauvignon – Australia – $14.95

“Mallee” is the aboriginal name for eucalyptus tree, and on the South East Limestone Coast of Australia those sun-drenched mallee trees are a popular sight. A Shiraz-rich blend with a dose of Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Padthaway and Wrattonbully regions. This deeply coloured and richly flavoured blend shows layers of smoky dark fruit, kirsch, blueberry, sweet baking spice, and eucalyptus notes. Velvety smooth and well structured, the stewed fruit, black raspberry, and dark cherry are backed with fine tannins making this wine a great choice for enjoying with tangy BBQ ribs, pulled pork, gourmet burgers, or celebrating a great evening with friends. Tasted May 2016. 88 points. Matt Steeves –

Buy Mallee Rock Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon at LCBO
Herbed Rack of Lamb Lollipops paired with Mike Weir Cabernet/Merlot

Mike Weir Cabernet/Merlot – Ontario – $14.95 (until May 22)

Canadian Golf Legend, turned Ontario wine ambassador and winery owner, Mike Weir, produces some very accessible and tasty VQA wines. The 2010 Cabernet Merlot is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc sourced from the Niagara Peninsula. The nose shows sauteed peppers, plum, dark chocolate, clove, and dried herbs. Dry with fine integrated tannins, refreshing acidity, and a dark fruit and pepper finish, this aged red is in its prime and ideally suited for enjoying with lamb chops with Moroccan sauce, garlic-rosemary pork tenderloin, or baked goat cheese dip. Decant 30 minutes prior to service and enjoy over the next year. Tasted April 2016. Matt Steeves –


Buy Mike Weir Cabernet Merlot at LCBO


Moroccan Lamb Chops or Mint and Cumin Spiced Lamp Chops pair wonderfully with Mike Weir Cabernet/Merlot!

So to make the most of your summer BBQ and wine pairings, remember these few tips to get the most out of your pairings!

Pro Tip #1: PAIR COLOUR WITH COLOUR (white with white, red with red…)

Pro Tip #2: CHILL IT! (chill white, rosé, and red wines in the summer)

Pro Tip #3: MATCH WINE with SAUCE (not just the protein)

Pro Tip #4: SWEET WITH HEAT (sweet wines with spicy foods)






Kim Crawford is proud to have partnered with luxury home goods company ANNA New York by RabLabs to create the Kim Crawford Wine Gems by RabLabs – a stylish reimagining of the “whiskey stone” for wine. Using the natural beauty of fluorite stone, when frozen these limited-edition wine gems are designed to keep a glass of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc chilled for up to an hour without diluting the wine’s vibrant flavors. Blending beauty and function, the Kim Crawford Wine Gems by RabLabs are a chic alternative to ice and transform an ordinary glass of wine into an extraordinary moment.

The Kim Crawford Wine Gems by RabLabs are available at

To learn more about Kim Crawford and the collaboration with ANNA new york by RabLabs, visit or follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter (@KimCrawfordWine).


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

Spring Wines and California comes to Ottawa


CTV Morning Live

CTV Ottawa Morning Live

April 6th, 2016.

Today on CTV Morning Live,  Sommelier Matt Steeves and the talented Melissa Lamb showcased some terrific wines to enjoy this spring as part of our regular wine segment.  We also tasted some wonderful Californian wines to get ourselves primed for Ottawa’s California Wine Fair on April 8th at the Westin.  Check out the CTV video here: Spring Wines & California Wine Fair on CTV Morning Live.


Today’s theme: Spring Wines & California comes to Ottawa

If you’re anything like me you probably enjoyed plenty of rich hearty meals with big red wines this past winter.  Those hearty pairings are perfectly suited for the dark, cold, and snowy winter months.  Well, now that spring is officially here and the weather has certainly begun to change for the better, it’s time to switch-up what we’ve been enjoying all winter and spring forward into some more seasonally appropriate wines.  Just as you’re putting away most of your winter clothes and switching them out for lighter and more vibrant spring and summer clothes, well here’s your opportunity to do the same with your wines by incorporating more seasonally appropriate wine choices in your meal planning and entertaining.  Wines that complement what you’re eating, and if you’re like me, you’re firing-up that BBQ more and more and likely eating less hearty stews and roasts and favouring lighter dishes now that the days are getting warmer and the patios are finally opening for business.

Some of my favourite wine styles for the spring are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Rosé.  The reason I like them is that they’re great in-between wines.  Wines that go great with foods that are enjoyed in the fall and spring, in-between summer and winter seasons. Now I must admit, I enjoy those wines all year round but I find myself enjoying them most frequently (as in very often!) in the fall and spring.  Every year around Thanksgiving and Easter, these are the wines I’m pouring the most as they’re perfectly suited for the meals we’re enjoying then.  Poultry, ham, fish, prepared in various ways with different sauces and flavours provide a wide range of wine pairing options with the wines noted above.
So a bit of info on each of my recommendations starting with Pinot Noir (pronounced as ‘pee-no nwar’).  Pinot Noir or short as “Pinot” is a red wine, but a very thin-skinned grape so it produces light-coloured red wines; wines full of flavour but not with a ton of body like a bold Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon.  The original home of Pinot Noir is Burgundy, but it’s being made nowadays in most wine regions, and excelling in cooler wine regions around the world such as New Zealand, Canada, Oregon, Germany, and of course, in the storied wine region of Burgundy where it still reigns, with many bottles selling for $500- $1,000 each.    Pinot Noir as a light red wine complements a wide range of foods, lighter/fruitier styles are a great complement to salmon or other fatty fish, roasted chicken or pasta dishes; whereas bigger, more tannic Pinots are perfectly suited for duck and other game birds, casseroles or, the Burgundy pairing of all time, stews like beef bourguignon, but for most that’s an autumn and winter dish, whereas salmon, chicken, pork are great in the spring, especially when BBQ’d.  When dining out, Pinot Noir is a great wine to enjoy by the bottle if you want a beef dish but your dining partner wants a lighter meal such as grilled fish.

Rosé wines are made from red grapes, but when the winemakers press the grapes during winemaking they only allow the juice to touch the grape skins for a short period of time so they don’t incorporate much of the red-wine characteristics that the parent grapes would if red winemaking processes were otherwise followed. Rosé wines are ideal for enjoying throughout the year but my favourite time for rosé is when sitting back on a patio with good company and that’s what many people start doing this time of year as the sun comes out and the temperature reaches t-shirt and shorts appropriate weather on those sunny afternoons.

Chardonnay (pronounced ‘shar-dun-nay’), the world’s most famous white wine, tends to be a bigger, bolder style of white wine (the oaked versions are anyway), so unlike super crisp and light white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, a full bodied Chardonnay is a great wine to enjoy in-between seasons as it has a lot of body and can complement those grilled fish tacos or chicken kabobs (or beer can chicken) perfectly and is dynamite with any rich and creamy dish, or even grilled veal chops with mushrooms.  Lighter, non-oaked Chardonnay, is beautiful with grilled fish and absolutely perfect with oysters, which of course are great on the half-shell on the patio in the summer.  So for this period, I’m reaching for richer styles of Chardonnay (and California is at the top of my list for those), and I’ll move to un-oaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay as the weather gets warmer and my go-to regions for those are Ontario and British Columbia, followed by Burgundy.   On that note, consider checking out the International Cool Climate Chardonnay conference that’s held annually in July in Niagara which brings in the world’s leading wine experts to discuss and showcase the world-class wines being produced here in Canada as well as in other cool-climate winemaking regions.

Rielsing (pronounced ‘reece-ling’) is a favourite of mine this time of year as it’s so versatile!  This is arguably the choice white wine of wine experts and sommeliers around the world for its natural complexity and ability to reflect the characteristics of the vineyard it was grown in.  Produced in a wide range of styles from bone-dry to extremely sweet (such as the prized Ontario Riesling Icewines that the world loves), it’s an impressive varietal that if you haven’t explored it then I’d highly recommend you do so.   I’m a big fan of Riesling, including the styles with a touch of residual sugar, when paired with spicy Asian dishes as that touch of sweetness permits the wine to stand-up to those big flavours in the dish and also helps keep the palate cool and refreshed.  Rich and fatty German cuisine, such as Schnitzel (breaded cutlet of meat) and Wurst (sausages) go great with refreshing Rieslings too, but for me this time of year I love Riesling with spring BBQ fare, including sweet and tangy BBQ ribs, pulled pork, or smoked chicken wings.  Ontario (and the New York Finger Lakes wine region) is well known for their ability to grow high quality Riesling, in a range of styles, including dry, off-dry, and the most famous being Icewine.  Today I’m pouring a semi-dry Riesling from Ontario that goes great with BBQ fare, spicy Asian, or grilled fish with fruit chutney.

I’m also presenting a Gamay Noir (pronounced ‘gam-may’), which is similar to Pinot Noir, but distinctly different.  Think of Gamay Noir as Pinot’s little brother that seldom gets the spotlight as his big brother (Pinot Noir) is so loveable that most don’t bother to look elsewhere, despite the wonderful things Gamay has to offer.  Well, for Gamay Noir, those that know about it are very fond and since it’s often less expensive than Pinot it’s a great alternative when enjoying foods that would complement a Pinot Noir.  As it happens, Canada is 2nd behind Beaujolais (France) in the production of world-class Gamay and there’s a Gamay buzz happening now in Ontario which is going to get more and more popular over the years as more people realize the quality Gamay we’re making right here!  Just as Beaujolais is renowned for their prized Cru Beaujolais (made from 100% Gamay), Ontario is well positioned to produce high quality and truly world-class Gamay that is sure to capture the attention of wine lovers around the world.  I’ve got a couple Gamay (containing) wines here today from one of my favourite French-Canadian winemakers, Jean-Pierre Colas of 13th Street Winery.  JP has a great track record having made some of the best wines in the world, literally!  He produced Wine Spectator Magazine’s 1998 White Wine of the Year, an award he received for his Domaine Laroche Grand Cru Les Clos 1996, and in 1998, Jean Pierre was awarded with the Best Wine in the Wine Enthusiast, Grand Cru Chablis Blanchots “Reserve de l’obedience” 1996 (99 pts).  I ran into JP recently at on Ontario wine tasting and chatted with him about Canada’s position in the world for Gamay and just as we’re excelling with Pinot, Riesling, and Chardonnay (to name a few), it would seem that Gamay is well positioned to be one of our next signature wines; wines that help put Canada on the international stage of excellence in winemaking.  Exciting times and I’m happy to be pouring some Ontario Gamay today.

So here are a few terrific wines to enjoy this spring, whether it be with BBQ fare, or just sitting back soaking-up the sun on a beautiful patio.


Foxtrot Pinot Noir 2012, Naramata Bench, British Columbia – $58 (winery direct)


One of Canada’s best Pinot Noirs comes from a small family owned winery on the Naramata Bench in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. It’s here where Foxtrot’s winemaker Gustav Allander grows some of the country’s finest Pinot Noir and transforms it into award winning, cult-status wine that’s enjoyed in many of the Canada’s finest restaurants, including top-rated restaurants in California too, such as Top-Chef runner-up Amar Santana’s Laguna Beach restaurant “Broadway”

The 2012 vintage of their Foxtrot Vineyard Pinot Noir is a medium ruby red with a rich and inviting profile of field berries, dark cherry, dried fruit, black sage, cedar, leather, and a touch of flinty minerality. Dry with fine textured tannins that strike a perfect balance between the medley of flavours and refreshing acidity. Pure harmony in a glass! Foxtrot has produced, once again, what is perhaps the finest Canadian Pinot Noir available. I highly recommend finding space in your cellar for this iconic wine and test your patience with 5-7 years of bottle aging. Enjoy with grilled pork, salmon, or even beef tenderloin, or go fancy with a duck & pork terrine with cranberries & pistachios. Tasted March 2016. 94 points. Matt Steeves –

Buy Foxtrot Pinot Noir here


13th Street Winery Gamay Noir 2013, Ontario $19.95 – Vintages April 30 or winery direct


Buy 13th Street Winery Gamay Noir at LCBO or Winery Direct

Gamay is a super food friendly wine and it’s ideally suited for spring and summer dining, outside, even in the heat of the summer!  Served slightly chilled, it’s great with charcuterie, seared tuna, and puts smiles on faces when served with BBQ grilled burgers.  As it happens, Ontario is one of the top producers of world-class Gamay (second only to the French wine region Beaujolais where they produce exclusively Gamay), so we’ve got some great Gamay wines to choose from right here in Ontario.  13th Street Winery’s Gamay Noir, and their premium Sandstone Vineyard Gamay Noir, are terrific options to pour, chilled, this spring and summer.

13th Street Winery Gamay Noir is a medium ruby red colour with an impressively robust nose of dark berries, bell pepper, earth and spice. Very versatile, this food-friendly medium bodied red shows best when served just slightly chilled and paired with rich artisanal sausage and Octoberfest fare. This wine won a prestigious Platinum Wine Award at the 2015 National Wine Awards of Canada. Tasted September 2015. 89 points. Matt Steeves –

Try these recipes with 13th Street Gamay Noir:  Rib Steak in Gamay Noir (Beaujolais)

or this with the 13th Street Sandstone Vineyard Gamay Noir: Tangy Chicken Wings with Juliana’s (rich and spicy Gamay Noir) Sauce

13th Street Winery Red Palette 2013, Ontario – $15.95


A blend of Gamay Noir (75%) Cabernet Franc (11%) Pinot Noir (10%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (4%).  Ruby red in colour, the nose shows black cherry, raspberry, vanilla, baking spices, and dried herbs. Raspberry preserve with dried herbs on the palate. Well balanced with lively fruit, refreshing acidity, and tannins to complement a wide range of meals. My choice, spicy Italian sausage wood-fired pizza. Tasted August 2015 and February 2016. 89 points. Matt Steeves –

Buy 13th Street Winery Red Palette at LCBO  or Winery Direct

Painted Rock Rosé 2014, British Columbia, $25 Winery Direct


Following their successful inaugural rosé in 2013, Painted Rock’s follow-up from the terrific 2014 vintage is another work of art. A blend of 39% Merlot, 29% Cab Franc, 23% Malbec, and 9% Petit Verdot, this Bordeaux blend shows all the hallmarks of a fresh and well structured rosé. Layers of sweet field berries, candied orange, peach, nectarine, with floral and herbal notes, the layers of flavours are balanced with refreshing acidity. The palate is soft, gentle, layered with complex fruit and herbal notes.

One of the finest rosés I’ve tasted in the Okanagan. Incredible alongside charcuterie, autumn harvest meals, or lighter spring fare such as grilled fish and summer salads. Serve slightly chilled. Tasted September 2015. 92 points. Matt Steeves –



Peninsula Ridge Semi-dry Riesling, Ontario – $13.95


Orchard and stone fruit with sweet mandarin orange on the nose and palate. Refreshing acidity makes this off-dry wine a great value-priced wine to enjoy with spicy dishes, BBQ fare, pulled pork, or simply serve it chilled on a patio with good company. Next time you’re in the Niagara region make sure you check out Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery and their award winning restaurant that was recently named one of the 100 Best Restaurants in Canada.  Matt Steeves –

Buy Peninsula Ridge Semi-dry Riesling at LCBO


Painted Rock Chardonnay, British Columbia, $35


Painted Rock’s 2014 Chardonnay is a blend of three micro-harvests that were conducted over a seven day period to capture the best characteristics of the grapes during that final week of grape maturation. 80% oak aged, 20% stainless, to achieve a fine balance of aromatic and textural elegance. The nose shows citrus fruit, honeydew melon, ripe pineapple, sweet corn, herbal notes, butter, and lees. The palate is soft and refreshing with crisp yellow apple, tart pineapple leading the long finish. The winemaker has produced another gorgeous wine from their high-potential estate vineyard. Tasted September 2015. 92+ points. Matt Steeves –

Although they’ve recently sold out of the 2014, the 2015 Chardonnay will be released this spring.  Look for it when it’s released as it won’t last long.



California comes to Ottawa!


Now, seeing as California is making the trip all the way up north to Ottawa to showcase some of their absolutely delicious wines, it’s a tremendous opportunity to sample from a few hundred fantastic wines all under one roof, without having to make the trek down to sunny California.  Wine lovers will tell you this is the best wine tasting in Ottawa and certainly not to be missed.  Many of the wines being poured will be available via Vintages (LCBO) throughout the year, while some are only available on consignment directly with wine agents, so this is the one and only opportunity you’ll get to sample as many as three hundred California wines.  So to get us primed for all these California wines in Ottawa, I’ve picked a few great choices that also complement spring and summer (especially BBQ) fare exceptionally well!

Nearly three-quarters the size of France, California accounts for nearly 90% of all wine production in the United States. If California were a separate country, it would be the world’s fourth-largest wine producer, behind France, Italy, and Spain.  They’ve been making wine for quite some time but it was the Judgement of Paris in 1976 that launched them into the spotlight as world-leaders in fine wine production when a few California wines (a Californian Cab Sauv and Chardonnay) beat the top rated French wines and forever changed the profile and status of California wines.

So here are a few great wines to look for in the future from California, and if you’re able to attend one of the California Wine fairs across Canada make sure you check out the full range of wines they’re pouring from their high value $15 offerings to the coveted $300 bottles too!

Rutherford Ranch Chardonnay 2014 – $22.95


Crisp and creamy, Rutherford Ranch’s Napa Chardonnay offers exceptional value. Tropical and orchard fruit, orange blossom, with expressive Meyer lemon notes, on the nose and palate. Creamy and delicious, this high quality yet value priced Napa Chardonnay would be ideal with seared Ahi Tuna burgers topped with grilled pineapple or Grilled Halibut with Pickled Red Onion and Mango. Tasted March 2016. 91 points. Matt Steeves –

Sterling Chardonnay, California – $16


Sterling Vineyards Vintner’s Collection Chardonnay is a great example of a value priced California Chardonnay. An inviting bouquet of stone fruit, orchard fruit, pineapple, and sweet baking spices repeats on the palate with a long refreshing finish. Enjoy with grilled chicken & seafood, poached salmon, or glazed ham. 88 points. Matt Steeves –

Sterling Vintner’s Chardonnay available at LCBO

Melissa Lamb enjoying a sun-kissed California Chardonnay by Sterling Vineyards.

Meiomi Pinot Noir, California – $26.95


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 –

Meiomi Pinot Noir avaiability at LCBO

Lander-Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon, California – $18.95


Lander-Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the finest California Cabernet Sauvignons you can buy for under $20.  Each year this proudly family owned and family farmed winery, headed by Morgan Zaninovich (a 3rd generation winegrower), produce this super popular style of California Cabernet that shows the best of this storied grape at a bargain of a price.  100% sustainably grown fruit, showing ripe raspberry, blackberry, plum, mocha, baking spices, herbs, and a touch of forest floor give this popular Cabernet a rich and complex profile that shines when enjoyed with BBQ fare, lasagna, or campfires and close friends.  Enjoy 2016-2020.  Tasted March 2016.  90 points. Matt Steeves –

Try Lander Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon with marinated grilled rib-eye steak with roasted pepper salsa and fresh corn fritters!


Lander Jenkins Cab Sauvignon availability at LCBO




Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – $39.95


Bringer Knight’s Valley Cabernet Sauvignon availability at LCBO

Full bodied with great texture and structure, the fine integrated tannins softening further after a two hour decant. Year after year Beringer’s Knights Valley is a top selling California Cabernet as it offers great quality at a very reasonable price. Enjoy 2016-2025. 91 points. Matt Steeves –

Exciting news!  The California Wine Fair is coming to Ottawa, Friday April 8th, at the Westin. This is one of the most highly anticipated wine events each year in the Capital and it’s filled with delicious red, white, and sparkling Californian wines which are some of the finest you can get your hands on!  Hope to see you there.




Matt Steeves is a certified sommelier, wine writer, & Director with the National Capital Sommelier Guild – follow Matt on Twitter @Quercusvino or


Romantic Wine & Food Pairings for Valentine’s Day – as seen on CTV Morning Live

CTV Morning Live

February 8, 2016 – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Today on CTV Morning Live, Lianne Laing and I showcased some super sexy wines and foods that will make your Valentine’s day celebrations sweeter than you had ever imagined.  Check out the video of the segment here: CTV Morning Live Video

The talented Lianne Laing and Melissa Lamb enjoying some ArtIsIn treats with 13th Street Cuvee Rose and Inniskillin Sparkling Vidal Icewine – epic Valentine’s pairings!

A great wine and food pairing, like Osoyoos Larose red wine and a grilled steak, or an Inniskillin Icewine and Art-Is-In pastry, enhances the taste and experience of both the wine and the food making each taste better than they do on their own. Combine that recipe with aphrodisiac foods, high quality wines, and Valentine’s Day romantic celebration and you’re set to have more enjoyment than you could ever imagine!

Valentine’s Day does comman104111d ahrodisiac foods.  For me chocolate immediately comes to mind and lets face it, who doesn’t love it?  Chocolate contains a number of compounds associated with pleasure, well-being, and excitement,
such as phenylethylamine and anandamide.  Chocolate also helps the brain produce feel-good serotonin. Now, be sure to indulge in the dark variety — it contains loads of antioxidants, whereas milk chocolate doesn’t…it’s just milk and sugar with a hint of cocoa.

Other aphrodisiac foods include oysters, caviar, and reoystersd wine – now we’re talking!

as an aphrodisiac sounds so clichéd, but they really can spark randiness. These shellfish are rich in zinc, a mineral that boosts the production of testosterone, which has been linked to a higher sex drive.  No wonder Casanova, the 18th century lover, ate 50 raw oysters every day…Caviar

Caviar offers similar benefits as Oyster do,
boosting libido.

(by the way, sparkling wine, such as Champagne, pairs beautifully with oysters and Caviar)

Red wine: In addition to relaxing you faster than a simultaneous foot and neck rub can, red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that helps boost blood flow and improves circulation before and during you know what…

Vanilla: The erotic effects of vanilla hvanillaave been the subject of numerous studies, with men in particular showing a strong sensual response. The aroma
not only lowers stress levels to get you in the mood, but also evokes warmth, indulgence and euphoria.  Just happens that most oak-aged red wines have vanilla aromas as do many baked goods…hmmm…I like where this is going!

Since the beginning of time, well ancient Roman times anyway, strawberries have been regarded as romantic fruits. In fact, they’re the symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love, which makes sense given they’re naturally heart-shaped and red in colour. Often referred to as the Valentine fruit, they’re a perfect choice for a romantic dessert option.  Moreover, they’re also rich in Vitamin C, which helps to keep your blood flowing. So think of homelogo-5cbb895edf25cd4479945dcc14112d19this as nature’s undercover Viagra. Plus, they’re perfect for dipping into warm, melted chocolate (another known aphrodisiac!) and who doesn’t like the thought of chocolate dipped strawberries, especially if paired with a sweet Icewine…

Today I’ve chosen Art-Is-In bakery as my decadent goodie provider to add more sweetness to your Valentine’s Day plans.  One of the most creative and gastroliciously awesome bakery-restaurants in Ottawa, they bake out-of-this-world delicious pastries, along with exotic breakfast, lunch, and take-home dinner items every
day.  Art-Is-In  has got you covered with every meal you need to make your Valentine’s Day perfect.  It truly is the one stop shop for everything your foodie-heart could ever desire.  Check out this delicious Valentine’s dinner menu…(sign me up!!!):


So, let’s get started with some sexy and super delicious wines for your Valentine’s Day celebrations.

 Starting off, I’ve got an epic red wine from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Osoyoos Larose’s ‘Le Grand Vin’ is well known for being one of the finest Bordeaux-blends in the Okanagan. Osoyoos Larose have been producing this world-class red wine for a decade and a half now using a winning combination of French winemaking expertise and ideal winemaking conditions from their vineyards in the far south of Canada’s pocket desert, the Okanagan Valley.  I met recently with their talented French winemaker, Mathieu Mercier, and gained an ever better appreciation for the high quality and super complex wines he’s producing.  This wine would be great with a main course like charcoal grilled filet mignon or you could even enjoy it with some extra dark chocolate, such as IXCACAO, as the tannins in each work great together and the flavour concentration in the wine is capable of standing up to some pretty bold flavours.

Osoyoos Larose’s 2010 Le Grand Vin is their 10th vintage of their flagship wine. A blend of 67% Merlot, 20% Cab Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 4% Cab Franc, and 3% Malbec, all harvested between mid-October and early-November. Upwards of 20 months of barrel aging, in a balance of new and one-year French oak, and after a couple years of bottle aging, this wine is now showing beautifully with all it’s components assembled in harmony. Although it would be easy for Osoyoos Larose to make a top selling 100% Merlot from their expressive high quality fruit, Osoyoos Larose instead focuses on blending their wines to produce the most complex wines available, just as they do in France, producing wines well suited for cellar aging that intrigue the taster with great depth of flavour and attractive texture. Following a two hour decant, this expressive wine shows layers of plum, black cherry, sage, cedar, underbrush, leather, and clove. Full bodied, rich and very well integrated, the fine tannins help support the rich fruit and savory notes making this wine ideal with premium grilled steaks, artisanal cheese or even organic Belizean dark chocolate such as IXCACAO. Enjoy 2016-2022. Tasted January 2016. 91+ points. Matt Steeves –

Available at LCBO – $44.95



Next up, for those that like a slightly sweeter style of red wine, Menage à Trois Midnight is a relatively new product that’s perfectly suited for a Romantic Valentine’s night.  Whether it’s enjoyed while snuggling by the fireplace, or to complement a nice meal, the name alone would suffice to make it an interesting choice for Valentine’s Day celebrations but what’s in the bottle is what will do the trick!  This sexy, volumptious, sweet and delicious red blend builds off the popular Menage a Trois and provides a slightly drier style of wine making it that much more suitable for enjoying with main courses, especially tangy BBQ fare or even mildly spicy Asian cuisine.  Equally great on its own, this crowd pleasing wine is sure to be enjoyed by those that appreciate the bold sweet reds from California. Pop ‘n pour!  Tasted January 2015. 88 points. Matt Steeves –

Available at LCBO – $18.00



Now, one of my favourites for any celebration, sparkling wine!  This one is perfectly suited for Valentine’s Day with the beautiful bright pink colour, the colour of love.  The 13th Street Winery Cuvée Rosé sparkling wine from storied winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas (who’s made some of the finest wines in the world while working in France, and now is doing that in Canada!) is a great choice for many reasons this Valentine’s besides the colour, but the quality and taste make it a top pick for me.  And, during February it’s $2.00 off so a great time to stock up as this wine is equally excellent in the spring and summer too.

13th Street Winery Cuvée Rosé is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, with a hint of Gamay Noir.  Produced in the same labour intensive manner as Champagne, this traditional method sparkling wine offers incredible value for such a lovely wine at such a low price.
This is a wine I’m really excited about. Dry with lively acidity and a fine palate cleansing mousse, it has lovely field berries, cran-apple, and mineral notes. Perfect as an aperitif, or on it’s own, and made even better with smoked salmon, charcuterie plates, or fresh garden salads with strawberries. Dip a strawberry in super dark chocolate on a special date night and let this wine take you to new places.  Such a versatile wine and terrific value for a traditional method sparkling wine. Enjoy now or cellar for a few extra years.
Tasted March 2015. 91 points. Matt Steeves –

Available at LCBO – $22.95 (regular $24.95)


And now, what we’ve all been waiting for, the sweet ending, iconic, world-renowned Canadian liquid gold…Canadian Icewine!  Inniskillin has been doing this the longest and they’ve built an incredible business and name in the industry as one of the finest Icewine producers.  Their Icewine is sold around the world and loved by many.  Given the challenging conditions required to produce Icewine, there aren’t many places that can do it and no other place that does it as well as Canada.

Today I’m showing a few incredible Icewines from Inniskillin.  Starting off with their Sparkling Vidal Icewine…a bubbly Icewine…you can’t get anything sweeter or more refreshing than this on the planet!

From the masters of Vidal Icewine comes this sparkling take on a classic. It opens with intense apple and peach aromas, along with lovely baking spices. The sweetness on the palate is nicely offset by brilliant acidity, and the bubbles give extra effervescence to the delightful flavours of honey, peach preserves, cantaloupe and lemon custard. Chill and sip, or pair with peach tarts. (VINTAGES panel, June 2015)


Available at LCBO – $79.95 (375ml) 2014 Vintage


The 1989 vintage of this Vidal Icewine won the Grand Prix d’Honneur at Vinexpo and put Canada on the global wine map. Delicious creamy peach, candied citrus peel and honey flavours. Delectable with raspberry mousse, pear tart or an assertive cheese such as Gruyère.  Matt’s picks for Valentine’s Day are Art-Is-In pastries and other baked goodies.



Available at LCBO – $42.95 ($7 off) (375ml) 2014 Vintage



Absolutely delicious. Strawberry-rhubarb flavour that would complement virtually any dessert you could imagine. Try Stilton cheesecake with rhubarb compote or homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie. Icewines are delicious with spicy Asian fare also, making these urber versatile and ultra sweet and refreshing wines great before, during, and after dinner. Tasted January 2016. 92 points. Matt Steeves –



Availability at LCBO – $29.95 (200ml)



Featherstone Select Late Harvest Cabernet Franc – $19.95 (375ml). This is the best value ‘IceWine’ you can find! Not officially called ‘IceWine’ because it was picked at -6C, not -8C or colder as required by law. So sweet, and refreshing, this is a must and would pair terrifically with any rich dessert, with chocolate, or fresh berries. Some of my favourite pairings for this wine include strawberry shortcake and raspberry scones. Tasted February 2015. 92+ points. Matt Steeves –


Availability at LCBO – $19.95 (a terrific near-Icewine that’s ideal with desserts, fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate, or on its own!).






















Chinese New Year Wine Pairings


With Chinese New Year arriving I thought I’d showcase some wine and food pairings that would be terrific for your celebrations during this festive time. I came across several of these pairings from the acclaimed Canadian Icewine producer, Inniskillin.  Inniskillin is world-renowned for their ultra premium (Canadian) Icewine; a style of wine that only a select few regions in the world are capable of producing and it just happens that Ontario (Canada) is one of the best, and has been for quite some time.

When most people think of Icewine pairings, they envision a super sweet dessert wine that would pair well with equally rich desserts, and they’re right, as Icewine complements the richest, sweetest desserts you can imagine.  One of my favourite pairings is Icewine with crème brûlée.  The beauty with any ultra premium wine, like Icewine, is that they’re typically very versatile.  In the case of Icewine, it’s much more versatile than just a sweet wine to be enjoyed with sweet desserts, that’s right, it’s equally terrific when paired with spicy dishes, or savoury and umami-rich dishes.

Here are a few terrific food and wine pairings that are well suited for enjoying this Chinese New Year:


Braised Pork and Miso Ramen

Braised pork and miso ramen with Vidal

Pair with Inniskillin Vidal Icewine – 375 mL $49.95

Tasting Notes: Rich and concentrated aromatics of peach, apricot and honey integrate well with the flavours of citrus and mango, all balanced by a crisp lively acidity.
Other Food Pairings: Think texture not just sweetness! Perfect on its own; a variety of cheeses (blue veined, aged cheddar, rich cream cheeses with dried fruits); seared scallops; lobster; rich patés; fruit based desserts.

Vidal Icewine is the quintessential Icewine – using the Vidal grape. The sweet citrus flavours and aromas of stone tropical fruit pair exquisitely with this braised pork belly soup.

Asian braised pork belly – Yield: 6 servings

2 1⁄2 lbs. pork belly, rind removed 1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp black pepper

2 tbsp 5 spice
8 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup Hoisin sauce
2 tbsp chili paste
1 medium size root of ginger, sliced
1 bulb of garlic, cut in half horizontally
1 stalk of lemon grass, cut in half length wise


12 cups miso soup
6 cups cooked ramen noodles
Garnishes of choice, sliced cabbage, green onions, poached eggs, peanuts, etc.

Preheat your oven to 300 F.

Mix together salt, sugar, pepper and 5 spice. Rub the pork belly and allow to cure overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat your BBQ on high. Grill the belly for 3 to 5 minutes on both sides to caramelize. Remove from the grill and place in a roasting pan.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a large bowl then pour over the belly.
Cover the pan with a lid. Braise in the oven for 3 hours or until the belly is just tender. Remove from roasting pan and let rest.

In a large pot heat the miso soup. Add the noodles to the hot soup.
Ladle into a large soup bowls. Top with the sliced pork belly and your favourite garnishes.



Cilantro and lemon grass marinated shrimp

Cilantro and Lemongrass Marinated Shrimp with Riesling

Pair with Inniskillin Riesling Icewine – 375 mL $79.95

Tasting Notes: An abundance of vibrant aromatics including peach, pear, and lime. On the palate, notes of honey, apricot and mango are balanced by a crisp and lively acidity.
Other Food Pairings: Oka, brie with lavender honey; firm aged cheddar or your favourite paté with pear or peach chutney; seared scallops with apple celery slaw; classic baked apples.

This versatile marinade can be used with chicken, pork, white fish or scallops and pairs well with Inniskillin Riesling Icewine. The Riesling grape produces Icewines with rich, fruit-forward flavours that hint of candied citrus peel, apricots and orange blossoms, and are balanced with acidity.

Cilantro and lemon grass marinated shrimp – Yield: 6 servings

30 uncooked Black Tiger Shrimp, peeled and deveined (16-20/lb in size) 3 cloves of garlic, minced
Zest of 1 lime
1 jalapeno, seeded and very finely diced

1 tablespoon cracked coriander seeds
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon grass 1 small bunch of cilantro chopped

Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade in a sealable bag. Add shrimp and let stand for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat BBQ on high. Grill the shrimp until just cooked through, roughly 1 minute per side. Serve on a bed of rice with a side of vegetables.




Cocoa and Soy Cured Duck

Cocoa and Soy Cured Duck with Cabernet Franc

Pair with Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine – 200 mL $42.75

Tasting Notes: This Icewine shows an abundance of rich red fruit aromas including raspberry and rhubarb, strawberry and fresh cream. This decadent Icewine boasts a lingering finish and a perfectly balanced acidity.
Other Food Pairings: This red Icewine has traditionally been paired with dark chocolate and chocolate based desserts. Combine the chocolate with red, fruit-based desserts and you have a great wine and culinary match.  OR!  Enjoy cured duck breast with this Cabernet Franc Icewine.


Cocoa and Soy Cured Duck – Yield: 6 servings

1 duck breast
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp cracked Szechwan peppercorns 1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cracked coriander seed
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

Combine salt, soy sauce, cocoa, peppercorns, sugar, coriander and garlic in a zip lock bag.

Add in the duck breast and evenly coat with mixture. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 4 days.

Remove the breast from the bag.

Wrap the duck in cheesecloth and using twine. Hang it in your fridge and place a plate under the duck to catch any moisture loss. Let duck breast cure for 1 to 2 weeks (until the breast is firm).

Remove from cheesecloth and slice thinly. Serve on cold salad of your choice – like glass noodle salad or rice salad.


Switching gears a bit, here’s a delicious dessert and Icewine pairing.


Vanilla Poached Pears

Paired with Benjamin Bridge Borealis (Icewine) 2014 – $35 (200ml)

What you need:

2 Bosc pears
1 vanilla pod
a little lemon zest
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1 cup water

125g good quality butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
a pinch of sea salt
300mls cream

Peel the pears and remove the core at the base with a melon baller, taking care to leave the stems intact. Place the pears onto a plate and sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice to prevent them from browning.

Combine the sugar, water, lemon zest and scraped vanilla bean in a deep saucepan and stir over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Lower the heat (or use a heat diffuser), add the pears and poach gently for up to an hour, basting the pears gently every so often. The idea is to very gently poach the fruit in the syrup, and not allow it to boil. The pears will remain intact and the flesh will be perfectly delicious. Allow to cool, refrigerate overnight if you wish. Serves 2, but simply add more pears for more serves.

To make the caramel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the sugar. Stir over a low heat without boiling until the sugar dissolves. Bring the sauce to the boil, then simmer, uncovered and without stirring, for two to three minutes. Remove the pan from the stove and wait for the bubbles to die down before stirring in the cream and sea salt. This amount makes about 11/2 cups of caramel sauce. The sauce keeps well in the refrigerator for two or three days. Serve the sauce over the vanilla poached pears, gently reheated, or serve chilled.

Read more about this recipe

Benjamin Bridge’s premium sparkling wines have garnered international acclaim and are now proudly served around the world by leading Sommeliers at some of the finest restaurants. Benjamin Bridge’s liquid gold ‘Borealis’ Icewine is destined to capture some of that limelight too as those bright Northern Lights continue to shine brighter and brighter on this award winning east coast winery.

The 2014 Borealis is a rich golden yellow that illuminates the glass just as the Northern Lights do the sky. Rich aromas of fresh mango, apple cider, candy apple, caramelized sugar, dried apricot, and sweet honeysuckle fill the nose and entice the palate. This medium bodied and delicious Icewine has a rich and sweet layered long finish with a touch of minerality persisting, reminiscent of the maritime sea breeze that every bottle of Benjamin Bridge seems to contain. Ideally suited for enjoying with rich cheese platters, decadent desserts, or own it’s own to celebrate a special occasion. My favourite dishes to enjoy with this beautiful Icewine include: vanilla poached pears with salted caramel sauce or the queen of retro desserts – crepes Suzette. Tasted January 2016. 93 points. Matt Steeves –

Borealis production: Estate Vidal grapes were picked by hand after the mercury dipped below -10C (14F). Following a gentle press, in that same frigid weather, nothing but concentrated and balanced sweet and refreshing juice emerged from those frozen tiny raisin-like grapes. Benjamin Bridge’s talented winemaker, Jean-Benoit Deslauriers, was then able to produce, once again, another gorgeous wine that shows what’s possible when you combine winemaking talent with unparalleled terroir.”



Champagne & Cocktails for New Year’s Eve Celebrations – as seen on CTV

CTV Morning Live

December 31, 2015 – Ottawa, ON

Today on CTV Morning Live, CTV’s Sarah Freemark and Sommelier Matt Steeves showcased some super tasty sparkling wines and easy to make Champagne Cocktails to enjoy at your New Year’s Eve celebration.  Matt’s top ‘Champagne’ picks and ‘Champagne’ Cocktails were shown on two segments, which are included in the two video links below.

Video 1 of 2: ‘Champagne’ Cocktails as seen on CTV Morning Live


There’s something magical about those 250 million bubbles in every bottle of sparkling wine that make it the best, without a doubt, style of wine for celebrating significant events, such as New Year’s Eve.

Champagne, the best known style of sparkling wine, has been a favourite for a very long time for toasting celebrations, whether it was the French nobility during the early 1700s or more recently with nobility all around the world, along with everyday hard working wine lovers in every corner of the earth, sparkling wine has held its place as the drink to have in your hand and share with those closest to you when you celebrate life’s great moments.

Those millions of tiny bubbles create a lot of pressure in the bottle so it’s important to know how to open a bottle of sparkling wine, safely, and without losing half the contents due to over flow.  Here’s a handy guide on how to open a bottle, safely! Note the 6 twists of the wire cage, then hold your thumb on the top of the cork, hold the bottle on an angle and twist the bottle while holding the cork, it’s a lot easier than trying to twist the tiny cork.  Make sure you point the bottle away from yourself and anyone/anything you don’t want to get hit by a flying cork should it take off unexpectedly (despite you holding the top of the cork).



Whatever you do, don’t use a cork screw to remove the cork…that’s a sure way to get a Champagne shower when you aren’t expecting it.

When opening that bottle of sparkling wine, if you’d like to spice things up a bit, a sabre (such as a machete or be extra daring and try a tea spoon) can be used to open a Champagne bottle with great ceremony. Checkout some #saberchallenge videos for ideas on how to saber your bubbly and here’s an easy step by step guide:

Step by Step Guide to Saber Champagne

  • Chill Champagne to reduce pressure –put the bottles in the freezer for one hour or in a bucket of ice water for as long as you can
  • Completely remove foil on theneck of the bottle
  • Loosen and reposition wire cage carefully to first lip
  • Choose Your saber – either a large kitchen knife or be adventerous and go for a small implement like a spoon or butter knife
  • Hold Champagne at 45° angle
  • Slide saber (confidently) in a smooth motion along the seam of bottle, and just like a nice basketball shot, make sure you follow-through to ensure full momentum.

Now that we’ve learned how to safely open (and saber!) sparkling wines let’s get back to our Champagne Cocktails…

Although sparkling wine on its own is terrific, and perfectly suited to celebrating the occasion, it’s fun and easy to make tasty sparkling wine cocktails so why not give it a try! With so many options, there’s no limit on what you can create with sparkling wine.

I’m not the first to suggest this either. Champagne Cocktails have been around since the mid-1800s and have been captured on screen in movies such as The Godfather and Casablanca!

Sparkling Wine Cocktails can be designed to enjoy before, during, or after a meal, and typically they are terrific on their own.

With most Sparkling Wine Cocktails the ingredients are simple and can be easily set-up on your counter or bar. For some, a bit of preparation is required, but the majority can be easily whipped-up in no time, and impress your guests with your clever creations.

Here are a few of my favourites for this time of the year: Classic Champagne Cocktail; Sparkling Winterlude Delight; Kir Royale; Black Velvet; and the French 75.




1. Classic Champagne Cocktail



  • 1-3 drops bitters (careful not to add too much bitters).
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 5 ounces chilled Champagne
  • (to up the octane, add 1 ounce of Cognac)


  1. Drop bitters onto sugar cube; let soak in. Place sugar cube in a Champagne flute. Add Cognac (if desired), and top with Champagne.


2. Sparkling Winterlude Delight – A must for any Canadian NYE party.

Sparkling Winterlude Delight


  • 1 ounce of chilled Canadian Ice Wine (or Select Late Harvest wine (less expensive, almost as sweet))
  • 4 ounces of chilled Canadian Sparkling Wine
  • optional: (add a splash of Vokda or Grand Marnier)
  • Garnish (candied lemon or orange slice)


  1. Pour one ounce of chilled Ontario Ice Wine (or Select Late Harvest Wine) into Champagne flute.
  2. Top-up with 4 ounces of chilled Ontario Sparkling Wine.
  3. Garnish with candied lemon or orange slice.



3. Kir Royale – A legendary French aperitif. 

Kir originated in Burgundy, France. It is named after the priest Canon Félix Kir, who was a hero in the French Resistance during the Second World War.



  • 1 ounce creme de cassis
  • 4 ounces Champagne or other Sparkling White Wine
  • 1 strip tangerine or orange zest, for garnish


  1. Just before serving, pour one ounce of creme de cassis into each glass. Fill with Champagne, and garnish with zest.



4. Black Velvet



  • 1 part stout (Guinness)
  • 1 part champagne or dry sparking wine


  1. Fill a chilled champagne flute or tall Collins glass halfway with the stout. Wait for some of the foam to subside.
  2. Very slowly add the champagne (use a cocktail spoon on the inside of the glass, if you like) until the glass is full. Serve. Alternatively, add the Champagne first, then the stout on top.

5. French 75 



  • 1 part gin
  • 5 parts champagne
  • ½ parts sugar syrup
  • 1 part lemon juice


  • fill up the shaker with ice cubes
  • pour lemon juice, sugar syrup, and gin into the shaker
  • shake well
  • strain into the champagne glass
  • fill up the glass with champagne
  • garnish with candied lemon twist


6. Menning Minosa



  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
  • Prosecco, chilled
  • Fresh mint leaf


  1. In a Champagne flute, mix together orange juice, lemon juice, and liqueur. Fill with Prosecco. Garnish with mint leaf and serve immediately.

7. Champagne Julep

A bubbly twist on the official drink of the Kentucky Derby (since 1938).



  • 2 sprigs fresh mint
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1 dash bourbon
  • 5 oz (142 g) chilled champagne


Place mint and sugar cube in chilled mixing glass; add bourbon. Using muddler or handle of wooden spoon, crush sugar and rub mint until fragrant and torn. Add Champagne; gently strain into champagne glass.

Here’s a great visual aid for just some of the tasty Sparkling Wine Cocktails you can make with bubbles…


CTV Morning Live

Here are the sparkling wines we showcased on CTV Morning Live, any of which would be great for your NYE party!

Video 2 of 2: ‘Champagne’ Top Picks as seen on CTV Morning Live

Sparkling wines are great for all occasions, and when it comes to celebrations they’re the perfect choice!  And when it comes to celebrations, New Year’s Eve parties are often the best!

As I’ve mentioned before, sparkling wines are incredibly food friendly making it a real no-brainer when it comes to choosing complementary pairings.  They’re great with all sorts of foods from canapés, soups, seafood, fish, poultry, and snacks like popcorn or potato chips. Most New Year’s Eve parties have plenty of rich and savoury finger foods making sparkling wines an ideal (complementary) pairing to enjoy throughout the evening.

Produced in many styles, from sweet to bone dry, affordable to unaffordable, each style has its place and complements a wide array of dishes making it an easy wine to pair with food if you choose to do more than simply make that special toast with it.

And the best thing is buying a high quality sparkling wine doesn’t have to break the bank.  That’s right, although fine Champagne is wonderful, you don’t have to buy a $40-$400 Champagne to get a quality sparkling wine. Spanish Cava, made the same way as Champagne (yet with different grapes), are often $10-$20 and often taste twice that good.  Canada is excelling in each of its major wine producing regions with the production of high quality traditional method (i.e. same as Champagne) sparkling wine.  British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia are all producing fantastic traditional method sparkling wines that have garnered international acclaim (Blue Mountain Winery in BC, Benjamin Bridge in Nova Scotia, and too many to mention in Ontario (but here are a few of my favourites from what I’ve tasted recently: Jackson-Triggs, 13th Street, Creekside Estate, Featherstone Winery, Huff Estate, Hinterland, and the list grows every year!)). Canada isn’t the only region outside of Champagne making terrific sparkling wines though as virtually all wine producing regions in the world are making traditional method sparkling wines meaning you don’t have to look to hard to find a great sparkling wine at a reasonable price no matter where you call home.

The wines I’ve chosen offer great value and would be terrific for your New Year’s Eve party celebrations.


1. Villa Maria 2015 Private Bin Lightly Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc – now available at LCBO – $17.95

Villa Maria’s 3rd vintage of Lightly Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc is sure to be a crowd favourite at any gathering. Slightly sparkling, which adds complexity and texture to the lively palate, the creamy and refreshing mousse complements rich hors d’oeuvres beautifully and would be a welcome treat to a Thanksgiving meal. Loaded with tropical fruits, lime, passion fruit, and snow peas, this is a fun and fruity wine that you’ve got to give a try.  Released Fall 2015 (for the first time in Ontario!). Tasted September 2015. 88+ points. Matt Steeves –

Villa Maria Lightly Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc – $17.95 at LCBO




2. Jackson-Triggs Méthode Cuve Close Sparkling VQA – Ontario – $14.95

Jackson-Triggs’ 2014 Cuvee Close sparkling wine offers good value for the price.  A crowd-friendly style of sparkling wine, it’s balanced, crisp and refreshing with a healthy dosage (19g/L) that makes it great on its own, and complements rich hors d’oeuvres making it a fine choice to buy by the case for large gatherings. Tasted December 2015. 87 points. Matt Steeves –



3. Benjamin Bridge NV  – Nova Scotia – $27 (winery direct and in many stores across Canada)

Benjamin Bridge is increasingly becoming a top recommendation for Canadian Sommeliers when customers are looking to enjoy a premium sparkling wine with a delicious meal. Produced essentially the same way as Champagne, with all the labour intensive rituals, craftsmanship, and care, it’s no wonder why wine lovers around the world are getting excited about the high quality products that Benjamin Bridge is producing each and every year.

In 2015 Benjamin Bridge produced their first non vintage “NV” classic method sparkling wine. It’s a blend of L’Acadie, Vidal, Seyval, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay, all from their estate vineyard. BB’s acclaimed winemaker, Jean-Benoit Deslauriers, reached deep into their library of vintage wines to craft their inaugural NV wine, which includes wine dating back to their first harvest, 2002. The nose shows crisp orchard fruit, brioche, with a touch of sea-breeze, for which this maritime winery is well known. The palate is crisp and tart with great texture from the never ending supply of fine bubbles. Lip smacking tart citrus and gum drop flavours make way to the long and palate cleansing finish. Ideally suited for enjoying with rich dishes, this NV is sure to be loved for it offers great quality at a terrific price. Benjamin Bridge continues to demonstrate that they’re a world-leader in premium sparkling wine production.

Tasted December 2015. 92 points. Matt Steeves – | @QuercusVino




4. Ferrari Perlé Rosé 2007 – Italy

Award winning Ferrari produced their first vintage of Perlé Rosé in 1993 and it’s been a huge success every vintage thereafter. The 2007 was aged on its lees for over 5 years contributing to its complexity, body, and intriguing flavour profile.  A beautiful rose gold colour with brilliant copper hue, the nose shows wild field berries, rose petal, candied orange, vanilla, and crisp orchard fruit.  The creamy mousse leaves the palate refreshed with persisting sweet pear and flinty minerality leading the way on the long finish.  A remarkable metodo classico wine that would complement complex charcuterie platters, brunch meals, roasted game birds, and charcoal grilled fish.  Alternatively, enjoy while celebrating the special moments in your life that command a luxurious sparkling wine.  Tasted October 2015. 92+ points. Matt Steeves –

In September 2015 Ferrari won the title of “Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year” at the international competition –“The Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships”, finishing first in the final round over two well respected and storied Champagne producers: Charles Heidsieck and Luis Roederer. Clearly indicative of the world-class traditional method sparkling wine they’re producing, and speaking volumes to the efforts they’re taking to carryout all aspects of their business with excellence – in pursuit of making the finest sparkling wine in the world.   Ferrari was also recently recognized as “European Winery of the Year” by the Wine Enthusiast.  Ferrari’s award will be showcased 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.

Perlé Rosé 2007

5. Wolf Blass’ Gold Label Vintage Bubbly – Australia – $24.05 at LCBO

Wolf Blass’ Gold Label vintage sparkling wine is reminiscent of premium Champagne, yet sourced from the other side of the world – Adelaide Hills, Australia to be exact. This tasty bubbly is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot from iconic Australian producer Wolf Blass. Ideal when paired with rich and fatty dishes, this premium vintage Australian bubbly would also be great when toasting special moments in your life. 90 points. Matt Steeves –






6. Oyster Bay Rose – New Zealand – $21.95

Brilliant light copper colour with citrus, biscuit, and field berry notes. Micro bubbles make this refreshing blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir a great complement to any holiday hors d’oeuvres, main courses, or celebratory toasts. 89 points. Matt Steeves –


7. Oyster Bay Extra Brut (100% Chardonnay) – $21.95

The philosophy of Oyster Bay is to produce fine, distinctly regional wines that are elegant and assertive with glorious fruit flavours. Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvée is made to capture and showcase New Zealand’s unique coolclimate varietal intensity by embracing the best of modern New World winemaking technology. It all starts in the vineyard where premium Chardonnay clones with small, intensely flavoured grapes are grown on ancient alluvial river terraces that produce concentrated, pure varietal flavour along with a natural zesty acidity, which is ideal for creating premium sparkling wine. Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvée Brut is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes which give the wine elegance, finesse and minerality. The lively bubbles in the wine are a result of natural secondary fermentation, which brings to life the delightful and refreshing character.



8. Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava  – Spain – $12.95 (the #1 imported sparkling wine in the world…)

Cordon Negro Brut is a crisp, clean and well-balanced ‘Cava’ sparkling wine. The fresh palate of apple, ripe pear and bright citrus flavors combine with a long finish with a touch of ginger. This versatile cava goes well with just about everything. Freixenet’s most popular cava, Cordon Negro Brut, is often referred to as the “Black Bottle Bubbly.” As the #1 imported sparkling wine in the world, crisp and creamy Cordon Negro Brut’s delicate bubbles make this the ideal wine for any occasion.

The grape varieties used in the creation of the base wine for this cava are Macabeu (35%), Xarel-lo (25%) and Parellada (40%). Macabeu grapes produce the deliciously light, fruity aromas and medium-high acidity that high quality sparkling wines strive to achieve. The must of the Macabeo grape, not one to readily oxidize, assists in the aging process. The Xarel-lo grape yields robust acidity, contributing power and depth. The star of all cava blends, the Parellada grape demonstrates an elegant combination of fruit and finesse. The dosage of 9 grams per liter keeps the balance blissful.


also available in Magnum format for $25.45…bigger is better!




9. Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne – France – $39.90 (half bottle)

A popular Champagne from one of the most storied Champagne houses ever, Veuve Clicquot. This would be an exceptional bottle to share with someone very special to you, perhaps as you ring in the New Year with a special toast.  Also available in larger formats, including the standard 750ml and occasionally in 1.5l magnum format.


Holiday Wine Picks – Perfectly Suited for this Holiday Season – as seen on CTV Morning Live Dec. 9, 2015

CTV Morning Live

December 9, 2015 – Ottawa, ON

Today on CTV Morning Live, CTV’s host, Lianne Laing, and Sommelier Matt Steeves discussed top wine picks for entertaining this holiday season.

Matt’s Holiday Wine Picks and Tips for Entertaining as seen on CTV Morning Live

People often ask me for suggestions on tasty ($10-$20) wines they could consider for their holiday parties and for gifting to hosts.  With so many wines out there it can be overwhelming to start looking for suitable options but it’s actually not that hard to find great wines in that price range.  With just a few tidbits of information about your party or your host’s preferences, any Sommelier or LCBO product consultant can easily recommend a few great wine picks that will fit within your budget and work wonderfully for you this holiday season.

When it comes to picking wines for entertaining, it’s important to consider things like: (1) how many guests (5 versus 25 can make a big difference on how much you may be willing to spend per bottle or how many different wines you want to serve with your meal); (2) what kinds of foods you’ll be serving your guests (assorted hors d’oeuvres or a 5 course meal with salad, soup, mains and dessert); and (3) what wine preferences your guests may have (some people refuse to drink anything but white wine (like Pinot Grigio), while others won’t drink anything but red wine so it’s generally a good idea to have white and red wines on hand.


Keep in mind that you don’t need to spend a lot to get great wines.  In fact, when it comes to entertaining often the best wines are some of the least expensive, and these wines tend to appeal to a wide variety of tastes. California red blends, California Chardonnay, or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc are great examples of generally speaking very widely appealing wines.  I call these wines ‘crowd pleasers‘ or ‘consumer friendly‘ as they’re affordable and most wine lovers find them super tasty.  Wine critics may not always write in length about $10 or $15 wines but these are the wines that people buy by the case, year round, and they love them!  Many wine critics drink these wines as their go-to wines and they love them!  What more could you ask for than affordable wines that people love!?  Seems like a winning combination for any gathering.

I’ve selected some great value-priced entertaining and host gifting wines below that are guaranteed to be well received and enjoyed by many this holiday season.  Before we get to that though, here are some of my wine tips for successful hosting this holiday season:

Tip #1. When guests arrive, offer them a glass of sparkling wine – nothing welcomes a guest like a glass of bubbly to celebrate their arrival.

  • Sparkling wine is super festive and there are terrific value priced sparkling wines out there, especially Prosecco and Cava.  Canada
    produces world-class traditional method (aka Champagne) sparkling wines too.  Check out Benjamin Bridge, Blue Mountain, Jackson Triggs, 13th Street to name a few.
  • Prosecco, which is a sparkling wine made in Italy, or Cava from Spain, can be purchased for as cheap as $12 a bottle in Canada, and since Prosecco tends to be slightly sweet it’s well suited for welcoming guests to your home, whereas a $50 Champagne may be best for that special toast or to enjoy with one of the 5 courses in that fancy meal.  Offering a glass of $50 Champagne to everyone gets pretty expensive though, but a $12 bottle of Cava runs you about $2.50 a glass which is similar to the cost of a bottle of beer yet at the right time and place can mean so much more.


Tip #2. Have both red and white wines on hand regardless of the food your serving.  Despite how well a Cabernet Sauvignon can pair with a roast beef dish, some really enjoy Pinot Grigio with whatever is on their plate so make sure you have options on hand.  Certain whites and reds are super versatile and will work quite well with just about any food.

  • Recommended (super popular) white wines:
    • Sauvignon Blanc (such as Kim Crawford, Oyster Bay, Villa Maria,  Riverlore, Creekside Estate, Frog’s Leap)
    • Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio (such as 13th Street Pinot Gris, Grange of Prince Edward County, Poplar Grove, Luna Nuda, or any Alsatian Pinot Gris).
    • Chardonnay (Oyster Bay, Beringer, Wolf Blass, Rutherford, Morgan Bay, Dreaming Tree, The Lane Vineyard)
  • Recommended (super popular) red wines:
    • Pinot Noir (Oyster Bay, Niche Wine Co, Meiomi, Inniskillin, Quails’ Gate)
    • Cabernet Sauvignon (Montgras ($11.95!!!), Robert Mondavi, Beringer, Sterling, Rutherford, Domaine Boyar, Angels Gate)

Tip #3. Do some math when planning your party to ensure you don’t run out of wine…that’s pretty much the worst thing ever when hosting a party!  

At a party where people drink mostly wine, plan on 2-3 glasses per person.  A standard 750ml (26oz) bottle has 5-6 glasses in it.  Plan on one bottle per two people.  10 people = 5+ bottles.  Buy 8 to be safe.  I recommend always buying extra to have some on hand.

  • Do your wine shopping as early as possible.  The closer you get to December 24 the busier the wine stores will be.  Go once and stock up for the holidays.  You can always return unused wine at LCBO stores with no questions asked.  But seriously, you won’t have unused wine…
  • Safety tip and responsible hosting essential:  Download the Uber app to ensure you can get your guests home safe and sound.  It’s super cheap and I highly recommend it.

Tip #4. Stemware…are plastic cups ok?

  • If you’re hosting a kegger then plastic cups are fine, but for any hoilday gathering (formal or informal) where you’re serving wines I highly recommend getting some wine glasses! No need for different stemware for red and white winetypes-of-wine-glasses-charts, but if you have them already then plan ahead and put them out on the table for your guests to use.  After all, white wine is best enjoyed in glasses designed for white wine and the same goes for red wines.  Don’t get too hung up on that though at a casual holiday party.  Any glass or crystal wine glass will do.  Half Full Glassware & Accessories in Ottawa, CA Paradis, Home Sense, and Loblaws all have affordable options available year round.  So does IKEA!  Half Full and CA Paradis also have some of the finest stemware available anywhere if you’re looking for a high-end wine gift.
  • Those red plastic cups are a lot of fun for playing flip-cup, but wine just doesn’t taste the same in them.  Keep them for your summer camping trips

Tip 5#. Keep white wines chilled by storing in a bucket of ice.

  • If you’re like most of us, it’s tough enough to fit a few bottles of beer in your fridge let along 12 bottles of white wine.  My solution is to fill up a bucket or two (or a cooler) with ice (or snow!) and place your white wines in these ice filled buckets to keep them chilled.  Space permitting, keep those buckets on a serving table with a towel underneath them.  Remember, warm white wine makes it taste flabby and unattractive so keep them chilled.  Red wines are fine at room temperature, and best between 16-19C so keep them away from any heat source, and out of the ice bucket, so they’re showing best when

Tip #6. Serve a dessert wine after the meal for a sweet ending.

  • Canadian Icewine pairs well with any dessert given its ultra rich and refreshing characteristics. Not cheap though at roughly $30-$50+ for a half bottle, but what a treat to enjoy especially in the winter months.
  • Tawny Port, Late Bottle Vintage Port or Vintage Port are all fantastic with nuts, caramels, dark chocolate and sweet baked goods.
  • Remember that the wine should always be sweeter than the dessert…otherwise it may taste bitter.

Tip #7. You don’t need to spend a lot to get a great hostess gift wine.  

  • You can always find a great bottle of wine for under $20, whether it’s a red, white, or bubbly.  The wines I’m showing below are great value priced gifting options that will complement the holiday season.  Also, check out some of my other posts where I’ve highlighted terrific value priced wines.
  • Just because you spend more doesn’t mean the wine will be appreciated more by your guests.  Sometimes ‘fancy’ wines aren’t crowd-pleasing, but if you know your host loves Burgundy or aged Rioja and you’re willing to pay $25-$50 then go for it.  That will be well appreciated.
  • To customize your gift try attaching a hand written note or recipe for your favourite complementary dish.  If you don’t know what would pair with Napa Cabernet Sauvignon or Brunello, then simply Google it.  Chances are you’ll find some great meals to complement that wine you’ve selected. This gives the recipient an idea of what to enjoy that wine with which will help ensure they get the most enjoyment out of that special gift.  Writing that note shows the recipient that you thought about that gift and didn’t just grab the first bottle of wine closest to the checkout at the store while driving to their house (not that there’s anything wrong with that if it’s a decent wine, don’t get me wrong!).
  • Don’t worry too much about picking the ‘perfect’ wine for a hostess gift.  A gift of pretty much any store purchased wine is a nice gesture that will be appreciated.
So, here is my short list of wines I’ve assembled that you can be sure will complement your holiday meals and gatherings and most importantly, they’re all affordable, quality wines that won’t break the bank, yet deliver on taste. These are all available at either the LCBO or SAQ here in the National Capital Region.


Start with a warm welcome!

Greet your guests with a nice sparkling wine as they arrive at your home.  Once you’ve taken their coats hand them a small flute of chilled sparkling wine which is a great gesture and serves as a very warm welcome.  Keep a few bottles chilled on ice and use a Champagne stopper to keep the bubbles in while waiting for your guests to arrive.


Wolf Blass’ Gold Label vintage sparkling wine is reminiscent of premium Champagne, yet sourced from the other side of the world – Adelaide Hills, Australia to be exact. This tasty bubbly is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot from iconic Australian producer Wolf Blass. Ideal when paired with rich and fatty dishes, this premium vintage Australian bubbly would also be great when toasting special moments in your life. 90 points. Matt Steeves –

Wolf Blass’ Gold Label Vintage Bubbly – $24.05 at LCBO

Oyster Bay Chardonnay – One of the top imported Chardonnay’s in Canada – On sale til January 3 for $16.95…makes for a great holiday season Chardonnay

There’s no surprise that this is one of the top imported premium Chardonnay’s in Canada, it’s certainly one of mine, especially at under $20! Beautifully balanced, the winemaker has managed to produce a wine where everyone will find something to love in that bottle. Layers of orchard fruit, bread, and a hint of caramel and flinty minerality, this lightly oaked Chardonnay is creamy and refreshing and so harmoniously balanced. Pair with shellfish, creamy pasta, fish tacos, buttered popcorn (and a movie), or simply enjoy on its own. Another terrific value priced wine from Oyster Bay. Tasted December 2015. 91 points. Matt Steeves – **Limited time offer of $2 off at the LCBO until January 3, 2016…for a steal of a deal at $16.95**

Oyster Bay Chardonnay – $16.95 ($2 off until Jan 3, 2016)

Ever popular Oyster Bay Pinot Noir – $19.95 via LCBO

A beautifully aromatic and flavourful expression of New Zealand Pinot Noir. Cherry, wood smoke, flint, and vanilla on the nose and repeat on the palate. A very expressive wine that delivers way above its price point. For under $20 you can not find better value Pinot Noir anywhere. Highly recommend trying this wine and enjoying over the holiday season and the next two to three years. Vintages release November 14, 2015.  91 points. Matt Steeves –

Oyster Bay Pinot Noir – $19.95 – availability at LCBO

Biringer Founders’ Estate Duo Gift Pack – a terrific gift for a host –     $34.90 via LCBO

Beringer Founders’ Estate Duo Gift Pack $34.90 – availability via LCBO

Beringer’s Founders’ Estate Duo Gift Pack has the best of both worlds, well the white and the red worlds anyway.  California produces such crowd pleasing wine and these two gems deliver both on quality and value meaning you’re sure to please with this fantastic duo.  Slap a bow on it and voila, you’ve got a very thoughtful holiday gift that’s sure to be put to use over the holidays…

Beringer’s value priced Founders’ Estate Chardonnay pays tribute to Jacob Beringer, Beringer’s first winemaker in Napa, dating back to 1876. The nose shows sweet tropical and orchard fruits, butter, and vanilla. Full bodied with a creamy texture, the palate shows more apple, vanilla, with a hint of butterscotch on the long and refreshing finish. A very versatile and consumer-friendly wine that’s great all year round whether celebrating over the holidays or chilling on a patio in the summer sun. Great value and a top pick for your own house white! Tasted November 2015. 89 points. Matt Steeves –

Beringer’s Founders’ Estate Cabernet Sauvignon:  Ruby red colour; forward cassis, cherry and spice in the nose that follows through to the palate; dry and medium-bodied with ripe fruit mid-palate and fruity, spicy, vanilla oak in the finish, soft tannins.   Terrific entertaining wine!

Beringer Founders’ Estate Duo Gift Pack $34.90 – availability at LCBO

Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon – $19.95

Horse Heaven Hills (H3) Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington is a blend of 99% Cabernet Sauvignon with a drop of Cabernet Franc for added complexity. 2013 was an exceptionally warm vintage with favourable conditions persisting well into the fall. The result is a big and rich consumer friendly wine. Deep ruby red colour, the nose shows rich blueberry pie, dark cherry, plum, clove, vanilla, and herb roasted beets. Yum! Full bodied and very flavourful, the palate is loaded with rich black currant, blackberry, blueberry, and plum that leads to a long fruity finish. Very impressive sub $20 wine. Enjoy with braised dishes, BBQ fare, flavourful cheese platters, or tangy hors d’oeuvres. Tasted November 2015. 90 points. Matt Steeves –

H3 Cabernet Sauvignon – $19.95 – availability at LCBO

Wolf Blass’ The Entertainer – $15.95 via LCBO

Legendary Australian winemaker Wolf Blass could not have picked a more suitable name to depict this fun and exciting crowd pleasing red, well, unless he called it the “Lyndsay Lohan” I suppose! Equal parts fun and quality, this crowd pleaser is sure to be a hit when served at any gathering. Packed with stewed dark fruit, spice, and so silky smooth, it’s the perfect blend to enjoy on its own or with hors d’oeuvres such as gourmet sliders. At ~$16 across Canada, this value priced big red is highly recommended for entertaining – a crowd pleaser that delivers on all fronts. Tasted November 2015. 90 points. Matt Steeves –

The Entertainer availability at LCBO

Montgras Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon – $11.95 at LCBO

Awarded the Best Eco-Friendly Chilean Red at the 2014 Eco-Friendly Wine Challenge, this value priced Cabernet Sauvignon is a great example of the value you can get with Chilean reds. It can be challenging to find Cabernet Sauvignon anywhere in the world at this price, and that’s just one of the great features of Chilean reds…great quality at unparalleled prices.

The 2013 MontGras Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep ruby red, with smoky dark berries, black currant, clove, and mocha notes. The palate is soft and inviting, round tannins make this a terrific party wine that also pairs well with braised dishes, tangy meatballs, and BBQ fare. Enjoy 2015-2017. 88 points. Matt Steeves –

Montgras Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Availability at LCBO


Creekside Estate Winery’s flagship red (Bordeaux-style) blend – Laura’s Red – $19.95 (a fine value priced Ontario red blend)

Creekside Estate Winery’s flagship red, Laura’s Red, is a complex Bordeaux-ish blend made of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, 3% Syrah, 2% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot. Deep ruby red, the nose shows savoury dark berries, plum, blueberry, charcoal grilled beef, pepper, and violets. Extra dry, the palate is refreshing with tart dark berries, underbrush, and fine grained tannins that provide the perfect texture to complement grilled beef dishes such as flank steak with balsamic bbq sauce. Enjoy 2015-2018. Tasted November 2015. 90+ points. Matt Steeves –

Creekside Laura’s Red availability at LCBO


Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon (with free UGLY sweater until January 3, 2016 or until supplies last) – $17.95



Robert Mondavi’s Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon has been a crowd favourite for many years making it a popular choice for entertaining any time of the year. The colour is deep ruby red, the nose shows blueberry, cherry pie, clove, vanilla, and smoke. Full bodied, the palate is round and rich, with more blueberry and dark cherry that persist on the finish. A great wine to enjoy with rich tomato based pasta, seared steak with port reduction, or braised beef dishes. Tasted November 2015. 88+ points. Matt Steeves –

Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon – $17.95 – Availability at LCBO



A great party wine!  A magnum (1.5l) of California Cabernet Sauvignon from Robert Mondavi – $23.95

Deep garnet red; wild red berry & cassis aroma; fresh fruit flavour, balanced wine, soft tannin good quality, easy drinking.  Try pairing this rich and round Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Dark Chocolate Brownies…hello yes!!


Woodbridget Cabernet Dark Chocolate Brownies Recipe


Robert Mondavi’s Magnum (1.5L) of California Cabernet Sauvignon – $23.95 – availability at LCBO



Olim Bauda Le Rocchette Barbera d’Asti Superiore (Barbera) – $28.95 via LCBO – This would make a fine host’s gift for anyone that enjoys quality Italian wines.

Rich ruby red, this beautiful Barbera D’Asti shows subtle prune, blackberry, plum, licorice, tar, mocha, and cured meat on the nose. Medium-full bodied, the palate displays refreshing dark berries, sour cherry, licorice with a touch of grilled herbs. At 15% abv, this is a big wine that would pair wonderfully with braised dishes, rich mushroom risotto, or wood fired pizza with spicy sausage, peppers, and mushrooms. Tasted November 2015. 91 points. Matt Steeves –

Olim Bauda Le Rocchette 2012 Availability at LCBO




Kim Crawford’s ultra popular Sauvignon Blanc – on sale for $16.95 ($3 off til January 3, 2016).

Kim Crawford’s ultra popular Sauvignon Blanc is a textbook example of expressive Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.  The nose is full of sweet passion fruit, guava, and citrus, all interlaced with fresh herbal notes. Mouthwatering citrus and sweet lemongrass leads to a long tart fruit finish. Year after year, Kim Crawford manages to produce some of the world’s most popular wines at the most competitive prices.  Enjoy wine crisp summer salads with creamy goat cheese, asparagus risotto with seared scallops, cheese rich hors d’oeuvres, or fresh oysters on the half shell.  90 points. Matt Steeves –

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc – on sale for $16.95 ($3 off til January 3, 2016) – availability at LCBO

Wine Gems by Anna New York for Kim Crawford Wine

Using the natural beauty of fluorite stones, these limited-edition set of 6 wine gems keep a glass of the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc chilled for up to an hour, without diluting the wine’s vibrant flavors. Just put our gems in the freezer, then drop into your favorite glass of Kim Crawford wine. Best use: keeping you and your wine cool on a hot summer’s evening!

Wine Gems – chill your wine without diluting the taste and refreshing characteristics of your fine wine.  Makes a great gift for any wine lover!



Kim Crawford is proud to have partnered with luxury home goods company ANNA New York by RabLabs to create the Kim Crawford Wine Gems by RabLabs – a stylish reimagining of the “whiskey stone” for wine. Using the natural beauty of fluorite stone, when frozen these limited-edition wine gems are designed to keep a glass of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc chilled for up to an hour without diluting the wine’s vibrant flavors. Blending beauty and function, the Kim Crawford Wine Gems by RabLabs are a chic alternative to ice and transform an ordinary glass of wine into an extraordinary moment.

The Kim Crawford Wine Gems by RabLabs are available at

To learn more about Kim Crawford and the collaboration with ANNA new york by RabLabs, visit or follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter (@KimCrawfordWine).

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