CTV Morning Live

December 14, 2016 – Ottawa, ON

Today on CTV Morning Live, CTV’s Melissa Lamb and Sommelier Matt Steeves discussed top wine picks for entertaining and gifting this holiday season.  Check out the CTV video here


Gifting a special bottle of wine to someone that appreciates it makes for a great gift this time of year. Unlike an unwanted sweater, picture frame, or a book, a special bottle of wine is guaranteed to be enjoyed, consumed, and appreciated. There really isn’t a better gift for those that have it all than a special bottle of wine.

With such a vast assortment of wines available at most wine stores, including the LCBO and SAQ, it can be overwhelming to start looking for that perfect bottle (at an affordable price) but it’s actually not that hard to find great wines at affordable price ranges.  With just a few tidbits of information about your party or your host’s preferences, any Sommelier or knowledgable product consultant can easily recommend a few great wine picks that will fit within your budget and work wonderfully for you this holiday season.

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Keep in mind that you don’t need to spend a lot to get wines that will be enjoyed.  In fact, when it comes to entertaining, often the most suitable 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.

I’ve selected some great  entertaining and gifting wines (and spirits) below that are guaranteed to be well received and enjoyed by many this holiday season.

Before we get into my top picks,  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.

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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, G. Marquis, or any Alsatian Pinot Gris).
    • Chardonnay (Oyster Bay, Beringer, Wolf Blass, Rutherford, Morgan Bay, Dreaming Tree, The Lane Vineyard, G. Marquis)
  • 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)
    • Barbaresco (may not be the most common red wine in Canada but once you open up a bottle you realize how great they are.  Try Enrico Serafino’s 2013 Barbaresco (Nebbiolo grapes) for just over $20 at LCBO – it’s exotic, consumer friendly, and totally delicious!).
    • Ripasso and Valpolicella Classico Superiore (from Valpolicella region in Italy), these wines are robust, round, and layered with dried fruit, plum, and spice, and best yet, you can pick them up for around $20 making them great for entertaining.  One of my favourites is Sartori’s Valpolicella Classico Superiore at $17.95

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, which all wine lovers appreciate.
  • 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, but try not to pour your Barolo or Super Tuscan in them as they just won’t do the wines justice.

Tip 5# Keep white wines chilled by storing in a bucket of ice (or on the deck in some snow!)

  • 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 poured.wine-serving-temperature-guide

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. Inniskillin’s Vidal is a great choice and sure to be loved by all.
  • Tawny Port, Late Bottle Vintage Port or Vintage Port are all fantastic with nuts, caramels, dark chocolate and sweet baked goods. Gift a Port Encyclopedia this year, one of my top gifts this holiday season!
  • 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.  Many of the wines I’m showing below are 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 Brunello and you’re willing to pay $35-$75 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.
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So, here is my short list of wines and spirits that I’ve assembled that you can be sure will complement your holiday festivities and be appreciated by anyone that’s fortunate enough to receive one of these as a gift. These are all available at either the LCBO or SAQ here in the National Capital Region.

Blu Giovello Prosecco – a great wine for your holiday festivities

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Blu Giovello is a great sparking wine for serving at cocktail parties and holiday gatherings.  On sale now for $13.45 making it a great buy by the case wine this time of year.

Buy Blu Giovello Prosecco at LCBO on sale now for $13.45

 

 

Featherstone Joy Premium Cuvée Sparkling 2012 – a must for any sparkling wine lover

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Featherstone’s Cuvée Joy bubbly has been winning impressive awards each year, with the 2012 earning a Bronze Medal at the 2016 Intervin International Wine Awards following the 2011 vintage capturing the title of Best Sparkling Wine of the Year and Double Gold at the All-Canadian Wine Championships.

Featherstone continues to use their signature bottle cap (crown) closure beautified with a bright red ribbon just like a fancy holiday present gift wrapped for that special person in your life. This premium Blanc de Blancs is produced using only Ontario Chardonnay to create this fine sparkling wine. The crown closure preserves the lively bubbles, rich fruit flavour, and baked bread notes that are locked inside. The palate shows crisp and clean orchard fruit and minerality with a beautiful palate cleansing mousse that leaves you thirsting for that next sip. It’s pure Joy! Joy makes a wonderful gift for those that are fortunate enough to get their hands on this small production Canadian bubbly. Look for it in December at Vintages. 92 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy Featherstone Joy Premium Cuvée Sparkling 2012 at LCBO – $34.95

 

 

 

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Holiday Edition – beauty, quality, and that signature refreshing style all in one bottle

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Kim Crawford continues to be one of the most appreciated Sauvignon Blanc expressions around the world. The 2016 vintage shows the characteristics of Marlborough that the world has grown so fond of. Expressive passion fruit, guava, and grapefruit interlaced with sweet herbal tones. Mouthwatering citrus and lemongrass on the long crisp fruit finish. Year after year, Kim Crawford manages to produce quality wines at a great price making them a top selling brand around the world. Enjoy with seafood, lightly spiced Asian cuisine, salads, and fish tacos. 90 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc at LCBO – now on sale ($3 off) for $16.95

 

G. Marquis The Silver Line Chardonnay 2014 – a great value-priced Chardonnay for entertaining

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A delicious value-priced full-bodied Niagara-on-the-Lake Chardonnay that shows just how rich and textured a ‘cool-climate’ Chardonnay can be. G. Marquis didn’t hold back when they produced this bold and flavourful barrel-aged Chardonnay that shows crisp yellow apple, baked pears & biscuits, with sweet toasty oak influence. Creamy and balanced, this single vineyard Niagara Chardonnay would complement rich mushroom risotto dishes, roasted poultry with butternut squash, and is absolute dynamite with double smoked Balderson cheddar, a personal favourite of mine. Drink 2016-2018. Tasted November 2016. 90 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy G. Marquis The Silver Line Chardonnay 2014 – $15.95 (regular $17.95)

 

 

G. Marquis The Red Line Pinot Grigio VQA

 

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G. Marquis The Red Line Pinot Grigio offers great value for an easy going patio sipper. The nose and palate show ripe melon, sweet yellow apple, pear, with a hint of herbs. The palate is round and creamy, with sweet orchard fruit on the finish. Very easy going and pleasant, which makes it a terrific white wine to serve at large gatherings. Enjoy with a wide range of dishes, from roasted poultry, summer salads, or spicy Asian cuisine. I enjoyed it with a large take out meal from Yangtze Chinese restaurant in Ottawa, and all the dinner guests were very pleased. Tasted December 2016. 87 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy G. Marquis The Red Line Pinot Grigio VQA at LCBO for $2 off now – $10.95

Rutherford Ranch Chardonnay 2014 – a terrific gifting wine for those that love Napa Chardonnay (like me!)

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. Score – 91. (Matt Steeves, quercusvino.ca, March 2016)

Buy Rutherford Ranch Chardonnay 2014 at LCBO – $23.95

 

 

 

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon – guaranteed to be a hit at your holiday parties.

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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 rich cedar smoke. Full bodied, the palate is round and rich, with more blueberry, dark cherry, and sweet spice 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 & 2016. 89 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon at LCBO – $17.95

 

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Bourbon Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon – perhaps the best wine gift for the Bourbon lover in your life.

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This limited release Private Selection label Cabernet Sauvignon from iconic Californian winery, Robert Mondavi, is one you don’t want to miss, especially if you’re a big fan of California Cab and Kentucky Bourbon! Robert Mondavi winery crafted this 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes grown in Southern Monterey County and do they ever burst with notes of sweet dark berries, dark cherry, chocolate, espresso, and vanilla each in great concentration. The wine spent the better part of a year in Bourbon barrels which is to thank for its rich and juicy texture with noticeable youthful tannins making this a great wine to enjoy with BBQ grilled meat. The Bourbon barrel influence gives this popular style of wine an extra dimension that’s sure to be enjoyed by many especially when paired with baby back ribs, or to finish a fine meal with a decadent cinnamon chocolate torte with whipped cream on top – now we’re talking! Enjoy 2016-2020. Tasted November 2016. 90 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy Robert Mondavi Private Selection Bourbon Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon at LCBO – $20.95

 

Maynard’s Port Wine Encyclopedia Volume II (Matt’s top gift this season!)

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Port, the storied fortified wine from Portugal, is loved by many around the world for its rich and refreshing characteristics that are simply perfect when enjoyed after a fine meal in the company of great friends. Like wine, Port comes in many different styles, each with unique characteristics that make them best suited for specific purposes whether that be with main dishes, desserts, or simply enjoying by the fire.

Maynard’s Port Wine Encyclopedia Volume II includes a flight of six different Ports, including a White Port, Ruby Port, 2012 Late Bottled Vintage Port, and 10, 20, and 30 year old Tawny Ports, all beautifully presented in a (hollowed-out) hard cover encyclopedia case that would totally go undiscovered in anyone’s library, or shelf at work…

Rare is it to have six different styles of any beverage to sample in one package, but Maynard’s delivers style and function with this educational and entertaining set of Ports that is by the way totally delicious as you sample your way through six tasty Ports. Complete with encyclopedia-like information on each of the styles, this is a tutored-tasting in a box. Impress your friends, family, or colleagues with your knowledge and lead them on a tasting and sensory journey with this Port Encyclopedia.

Especially unique are the Ports that bookend this flight, from a somewhat rarely seen (in the Canadian market) White Port to the very expensive 30 year old Tawny Port (that’s right, the juice in that bottle is on average 30 years old making is so incredibly nutty, smooth, and complex). The flight of six Ports are packaged in individual glass 60ml bottles that enable a few tasters to sample each, or one lucky taster to taste them a few times over a period of time.

If you’re looking for a great holiday gift for that special wine/Port lover in your life, this may be the best gift you could get, especially for the price and the experience that comes with it. Highly recommended. Tasted December 2016. 95 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy Maynard’s Port Wine Encyclopedia Volume II at LCBO – $54.95 (on sale for $38.70)

 

 

Marchesi di Barolo La Tradizione Barolo (the King of Wines, and this one at a fair price)

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Marchesi di Barolo 2011 is a light ruby red with a garnet hue.  Rustic and complex, this hearty wine made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes from northern Italy shows layers of tart cherry, forest fruit, underbrush, cedar, rose, graphite, and scorched earth.  Youthful and ample tannins complemented with tart acidity make this a great cellar candidate that would benefit from a few years on its side to allow it to soften and further evolve then to be savoured 2020-2026 with grilled beef & creamy mushroom risotto.  Tasted December 2016. 91 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy Marchesi di Barolo La Tradizione Barolo at LCBO – $39.95

 

 

Enrico Serafino Barbaresco DOCG – Barolo’s little brother, and this one is a home run with quality and price.

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Medium ruby red with a garnet core, the nose shows  dark cherry, forest fruits, plums, cedar, rose, clove, and black tea.  Cozy, rustic, with layers of fruit and sweet spice, this Barbaresco has great structure with ultra fine tannins making it a terrific choice to enjoy this winter with hearty dishes, braised beef, firm cheese, or apres ski by a warm fire with good company.  Enrico Serafino has produced a fantastic Barbaresco that’s sure to be loved.  Highly recommended! Tasted December 2016. 92 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy Enrico Serafino Barbaresco DOCG at LCBO – $21.25

 

 

 

Carione Brunello di Montalcino DOCG – A bargain for a Brunello, this is an absolute must for any wine aficionado on your shopping list.

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Immediately upon pouring this fine wine you’re greeted with rich and inviting aromas that draw you in with intrigue and piqued interest. Ruby red with a garnet hue, the nose shows rich plum, cherry, balsamic, leather, spice, and dried herbs. Flavours of cherry, plum, balsamic, and leather persist on the long finish.  Smooth with great balance between the sweet fruit and rustic notes, acid, and integrated tannins.  Although many Brunellos require a decade to arrive at their sweet spot, Carione’s 2011 is absolutely beautiful right now so why wait!  Enjoy 2016-2022. Fantastic value and a terrific Brunello if you’re looking for an affordable option. Tasted December 2016. 93 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy Carione Brunello di Montalcino DOCG at LCBO – $30.25

 

 

The Lane Vineyard Block 14 Basket Press Shiraz – a top notch small production Aussie Shiraz that’s guaranteed to be loved!

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The Lane Vineyard continues to impress me with the premium wines they’re producing from their boutique winery in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia. Block 14 Basket Press Shiraz comes from a small parcel on their estate vineyard that’s perched high up on a hill. With only 860 cases produced, this limited availability wine will not last long once it hits the LCBO shelves in mid-December 2016. The colour is a deep ruby with a purple hue, the nose is loaded with concentrated black cherry, bramble, black currant, black raspberry jam, graphite, Allspice, bacon and sweet pipe tobacco. Rich, layered, and textured, the fine tannins complement the plush yet refreshing mouthfeel that makes this a terrific fire side wine. Enjoy 2016-2022 with Stilton sirloin burgers with onion jam, braised short ribs, or filet mignon with rich balsamic glaze. Tasted December 2016. 93 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy The Lane Vineyard Block 14 Basket Press Shiraz 2013 at LCBO – $29.95

 

 

Ruffino Modus 2012 Super Tuscan – if you can get your hands on this Super Tuscan, buy as many as you can.  Fantastic quality and value.

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Each vintage Modus continues to solidify its place in the fine wine world continuing to earn the reputation of an iconic Super Tuscan which is impressive given it’s only a fraction of the cost of its storied peers. The 2012 is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, with 25% of both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that shows juicy layers of dark fruits, plum, spice, leather, and cigar box. Great depth of flavour, texture, and structure make it ideally suited for enjoying now with rich Osso Buco or hanger steak with bagna cauda pan sauce; it’s also an ideal candidate to cellar for up to a decade to enjoy its evolution. Ruffino’s Modus is an exceptionally value priced Super Tuscan that I’d highly recommend buying by the case. Tasted June 2015. 93 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy Ruffino Modus 2012 at LCBO – $29.95

 

 

Ruffino Ducale Oro Riserva Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2011 – The premium Chianti Classico that’s loved around the world.

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Ruffino’s Riserva Ducale Oro is only produced in outstanding vintages, a tradition started in 1947 to showcase the finest fruit from Ruffino’s acclaimed vineyards. The 2011 sourced fruit from Ruffino’s Gretole and Santedame Estates in the renowned Castellina subregion of Chianti Classico. Less fruity than the 2010 vintage, the nose is full of fresh sage, violet, plum, dark chocolate, cherry, espresso, leather, and cedar. Terrific structure, very well balanced, fine tannins coat the palate making this fine wine ideal for rich dishes such as pasta Bolognese or Beef Stroganoff. Decant one hour and enjoy over the next decade. Tasted February 2015. 91 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy Ruffino Ducale Oro Riserva Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2011 at LCBO – $47.95

 

 

Barón de Ley Reserva 2010 –  this highly acclaimed wine has been flying off the shelves at LCBO.  Get some while you can.  Terrific wine to enjoy this winter.

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What an incredible wine for the price! The colour is a deep ruby red with a hint of garnet, the nose shows ripe dark fruit, black cherry, plum, fig, baking spices, mocha, bacon, and cedar – needless to say this is an incredibly complex wine. Dark cherry, plum, sweet spice, and pepper on the long finish. Smooth with modest tannins that create terrific texture ideally suited for enjoyment with rich Spanish meals. The 2010 Reserva Rioja spent 20 months in new American oak before resting for 24 months in bottle where all its components fell beutifully into place prior to its release. This would be a great hosting gift to bring to a dinner party or enjoy at home with shellfish paella, roasted leg of lamb, wild mushroom risotto, lamb tagine, grilled chorizo, barbecued beef brisket or ratatouille. Tasted October 2015 and November 2016. 92+ points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy Barón de Ley Reserva 2010 at LCBO – $21.95

 

 

 

INNISKILLIN CHARDONNAY ICEWINE 375ML

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Bustling with aromas of fresh vanilla and caramel, this rare Icewine provides concentrated flavours of bright citrus, ripe peach and honey all balanced with a crisp firm acidity. Pair this with rich patés, blue veined and other creamy cheeses. Add a touch to a batch of caramelized onions, or use to glaze sausages or bacon. As for dessert, this Icewine pairs well with crème brulé and crème caramel or a simple selection of fresh fruit.

 

Buy Inniskillin Oak Aged Chardonnay Icewine for $79.95 here

Inniskillin Vidal Icewine – Canadian Icewine is the finest, and this Vidal offers exceptional flavour concentration, balance, and value.  A fabulous stocking stuffer…

 

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Buy Inniskillin Vidal Icewine at LCBO – $5.00 off now – $44.95

Grappa Sarpa Di Poli – a great post-dinner treat and increasingly popular in cocktails too.  Makes a great gift for a spirits lover.

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There’s over a hundred years of family tradition in every bottle of Poli’s Sarpa grappa. Sarpa is the Venetian word for pomace; Sarpa di Poli is distilled from the pomace of 40% Cabernet and 60% Merlot. Traditionally, it is enjoyed slightly chilled or in a caffè corretto (espresso ‘corrected’ with a dose of grappa). It is also the main attraction in the modern grappa cocktails that are on the rise.

Grapp is a terrific digestivo (after-dinner drink), and great with espresso for a caffè corretto, meaning “corrected” coffee, as coffee without it would just be wrong I suppose…

Buy Grappa Sarpa Di Poli at LCBO – $44.45

 

 

Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Bourbon – Matt’s top Bourbon choice this holiday season.

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As soon as you get your first whiff of this beautiful Bourbon there will be no doubt in your mind why Woodford Reserve Bourbon continues to be the Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby. Fantastic in those ice-cold Mint Juleps, it’s equally terrific served neat to appreciate the sweet and spicy character of this storied Bourbon. Master Distiller Chris Morris and his team advise of there being 212 aromas in this super smooth and complex Bourbon. Open your senses and experience the the incredible complexity and approachable nature of this fine Bourbon. With notes of butterscotch, caramel, brown sugar, hazelnut, cinnamon, coffee, and chocolate, there’s no shortage of sensory pleasures that this Bourbon delivers. Round and decadent, this fine Bourbon is the perfect complement to a wide range of dishes from lamb-lollipops to rich chocolate desserts, to enjoying in your favourite cocktail. Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Bourbon is a must try and would make a great gift to any Whiskey aficionado. Tasted December 2016. 93 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Bourbon at LCBO – $48.95

Make a delicious Manhattan cocktail with Woodford Reserve Bourbon and Carpano (Vermouth)

Directions:

2 ounces of Woodford Reserve bourbon + 1/2 to 3/4 ounces sweet red vermouth (Carpano), a 1/2 ounce of Grand Marnier + a couple of dashes of angostura bitters. Stir all ingredients with ice for 15 seconds and strain into a coupe. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.

 

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Carpano (Vermouth) – a key  ingredient to make your Manhattan shine!

 

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Photo credit: ©Veronica LePinske/A Cook’s Canvas
Photo credit: ©Veronica LePinske/A Cook’s Canvas

 

Beattie’s Farm Crafted Vodka – Beattie’s Vodka is super smooth making it great on its own, and ideally suited for premium cocktails.

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The use of potatoes produces a unique product; it is clear and colourless; a subtle bouquet of floral and buttery notes; the palate is warming with notes of white pepper, almond and caramel; the finish is pleasant and smooth.

 

Buy Beattie’s Farm Crafted Vodka at LCBO – $34.25

 

Whip-up an Under the Mistletoe cocktail for your holiday celebrations.

Ingredients:

1 oz Beattie’s vodka
½ oz creme de cassis
2 to 3 oz cranberry juice
Mint sprig and frozen cranberries, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice. Add Beattie’s vodka, Creme de Cassis, top with cranberry juice and garnish with mint sprig and frozen cranberries. Voila!

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I hope you get a chance to enjoy some of these tasty drinks this holiday season and that you find a few special bottles wrapped-up with your name on them too…

Cheers,

Matt Steeves

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