CTV Morning Live

February, 2017

Ottawa, ON

Today on CTV Morning Live, CTV’s Lianne Laing and Sommelier Matt Steeves showcased some sexy wine picks for a romantic Valentine’s date night. Check out the video on CTV Morning Live here

This year I decided to showcase some of my favourite wines from romantic wine regions, including Niagara, Okanagan Valley, California, and Verona Italy (the home of Romeo and Juliet).  The grape I’m highlighting today is Pinot Noir, so commonly known as the heart break grape, given the challenges that winemakers go through trying to grow Pinot successfully throughout the year.  Pinot is also a grape that many have a love interest in…and you can count me in that camp.  I love a fine Pinot, and although some can costs thousands a bottle, you can find great Pinot at affordable prices, which I’ve got some of those lined-up for us today.


Pinot can be such a complex and intriguing wine when done well, and it turns out that Canada does it very well.  Although Canadian Pinot isn’t an renowned as Burgundy (yet), there are terrific expressions of Pinot from the east to west coasts, and Canada’s cool-climate wine growing regions have a bright future ahead of them.

Pinot is super food friendly, and terrific on its own, making it a great wine to enjoy on your special Valentine’s date night.  Even if you aren’t quite as in to Pinot as Miles (from Sideways) or I am, it’s a fantastic wine to enjoy on those special occasions.  Remember that red wine is an aphrodisiac, meaning a couple glasses of red wine for you and your partner, or sharing a bottle between the two of you, pretty much guarantees you may be in for some dessert.

So, let’s get into the wine regions that I chose to showcase delicious wines for your Valentine’s date night, starting with Niagara, where they’re renowned for more than their waterfalls.  Yes, Niagara Falls is unofficially know as the eighth natural wonder of the world, but for me, especially this time of year, it’s their ultra premium Icewine and terrific cool-climate Pinot Noir that get me excited, which is why I’ve got a few here to show as great picks for your Valentine’s festivities.

In additional to Icewine, Ontario produces some awesome Mead, which is wine made from honey, with three simple ingredients: honey, water, and yeast. One of the first forms of alcohol, this aphrodisiac beverage has been around for thousands of years. Ever wonder why they call it a honeymoon? Because you were to consume honey wine (Mead) during the lunar cycle of the first month of your marriage. A guaranteed ‘baby-maker’, those honeymoons would have been pretty sweet with 30 days of drinking honey wine and everything that goes along with a 30 day honeymoon!  If you haven’t tried a Mead dessert wine, it’s a great wine to enjoy with salty or aged cheese, apple pie, crème brulee, spicy Asian cuisine, or splash some of fresh cut fruit and enjoy.

We’ve also got some spill proof wine glasses to try (and give away) today on CTV Morning Live.  Good new is, there will be no more spilled wine, dry cleaning, or carpet scrubbing when you use these out-of-this-world wine glasses.  The Saturn Wine Glass makes your wine practically spill proof which is about time that somebody designed these!   A terrific idea for Valentine’s also as there’s a high probability that your wine glass may get kicked over if you’re not paying attention… For more info, check out Super Duper Studio: http://superduperstudio.net/#saturnred


So here are my top wine picks for this Valentine’s Day:

Starting with Ontario:

Inniskillin Pinot Noir – $15.95 at LCBO & WineRack.com stores

Inniskillin’s Niagara Estate Series Pinot Noir offers terrific value for what’s often a very expensive wine style, regardless of where it comes from. At $15.95 you’d be hard pressed to find better value priced Pinot, especially Canadian Pinot Noir.
Stylistically very easy-going with a silky smooth palate, that’s jam packed with delicious cran-cherry, herbs, smoke, and vanilla. An ideal wine to enjoy in the fall, serve slightly chilled alongside grilled salmon, roasted poultry, or pork tenderloin dishes. Tasted September 2015. 89 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca



G. Marquis The Silver Line Pinot Noir – $19.95 at LCBO & Magnotta stores

G. Marquis Silver Line Pinot Noir is a great example of a value-priced Ontario Pinot. Expressive aromas and flavour with tart cherry, plum, hibiscus, mushroom, and dried herbs on the nose and palate. Medium bodied with delicate tannins, this would be great with pan seared lamb lollipops with rosemary and dijon. Tasted December 2016. 89 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca




Konzelmann Pinot Noir – $13.60 at LCBO

Konzelmann Estate Winery is the only Niagara winery that’s situated on the shores of Lake Ontario. It’s there where Konzelmann produces their Lakefront Series Pinot Noir which offers great value in a style that many will love. Garnet in colour, the nose shows black cherry, dark chocolate, walnut, dried herbs and earth. Medium bodied with rich and refreshing black cherry and dark chocolate on the finish. Enjoy a few bottles of this tasty Pinot at your next dinner party paired with roasted pork tenderloin with cherry-balsamic sauce. Tasted January 2017. 88+ points. Great value wine! Matt Steeves – http://www.mattswinepicks.com



Konzelmann Pinot Blanc – $12.95 (not Pinot Noir per se.,but a very close relative, and so easy going it’s quite lovely)

Konzelmann’s Lakefront Series Pinot Blanc shows ripe orchard fruits, tropical and citrus fruits, wild flower honey, flinty minerality, and sweet floral blossoms on the nose. Easy going, round, and simply delightful, the palate shows ripe stone fruit and orchard fruit along with sweet baking spices leading the way for the dose of refreshing minerality and Asian Pear that persist on the off-dry palate cleansing finish. A great wine to enjoy served ice-cold on a patio (or at a picnic) with friends and also lovely when enjoyed with moderately spicy Asian cuisine, tangy BBQ chicken or shrimp, or grilled fish with a citrus vinaigrette. At under $13 this wine offers great value. Tasted January 2017. 88 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.mattswinepicks.com




Rosewood Royale Mead – $17.95

This light bodied and sweet barrel aged Mead is a great treat post meal and wonderful with pastries. Rosewood Estates Winery excels in the production of high quality wine, and their wild flower honey & mead are treats that you’ve got to try. Tasted November 2016. 90 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca




Now, moving to British Columbia where that little pocket desert produces some of the finest Pinot available in Canada.  In the Okanagan Valley you can find some of Canada’s most prized Pinot Noir, and
I’ve got a few of them here today.

Niche Wine Co. Pinot Noir – $21 (winery direct)




Blue Mountain Pinot Noir – $39.90 (winery direct)



Foxtrot Vineyards Pinot Noir – $55 (winery direct)

A personal favourite of Matt’s. 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” http://www.broadwaybyamarsantana.com



Now, moving on to California, the wine region that I have a huge crush on.


Meiomi Pinot Noir – $26.95 at LCBO

Meiomi’s 2015 Pinot Noir is a blend of Pinot Noir from three beautiful wine regions along the California coast: Monterey County (52%), Sonoma County (24%), and Sanata Barbara County (24%). 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 rich and smoky black cherry, creme de cassis, cola, baking spices, cedar, and dried herbs. The palate is incredible smooth, round, and luscious. Loaded with sweet dark fruit, black cherry, dried cranberry, mocha, baking spices, and kirsch. Another terrific vintage that’s sure to be loved. Enjoy with braised lamb, roasted pork with cherry-balsamic sauce, or simply on its own after a long day at the office.  Tasted January 2017. 91 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca


Folie a Deux Chardonnay – $24.95 at LCBO

I included a couple bottles of California Chardonnay into the line-up as I love Chardonnay and when thinking of an ideal date night it makes me think about packing an ice cold Chardonnay in a picnic basket and enjoying it on a warm summer’s eve under the starts.  Although we may be a few months away from that in Canada, if you’re travelling to warmer climates for this Valentine’s Day, perhaps you can enjoy some Chardonnay in the park.





J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay, California – $19.95

The 2015 Riverstone Chardonnay exhibits youthful hues of light to medium straw. The enticing aromas are reminiscent of peaches, meyer lemon, yellow floral, baking spices, honey and cocoa. Those aromas echo on the palate and are complemented by fresh orange and apricot balanced with creamy texture from aging sur lie. Flavors of crème brûlée and a touch of oak can be found on the long finish.



Last but certainly not least, I’ve got a  wine from the City of Love, Verona!  Verona is famous for the the love story of Romeo and Juliet, and the famous balcony and ‘Juliet wall’ that hosts a million love notes, but it’s also famous for gorgeous Valpolicella wines, and this one is a real value priced gem.

Pictured below are photos of Verona’s ‘Juliet’s wall’ in the city centre of beautiful Verona, Italy.




Pasqua Passimento – $11.95 ($2 off) until Feb 25 at LCBO

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





If you’re looking for a fun wine and food event to attend on Valentine’s Day, why not check out: Atomic Love  http://diefenbunker.ca/2017/01/23/atomic-love/


Come explore the depths of the Diefenbunker on a guided tour with wine and cheese! While touring, you’ll stop at different locations to sample delectable cheeses and fine wine pairings. Nothing says I love you, like exploring a Bunker with wine and cheese and your main squeeze!

Date: Tuesday February 14th, 2017
Time: 6:30pm – 10:30pm (Doors open at 6:15pm)

Cost: $195 per couple, $100 per person, $80 for designated driver – GET TICKETS NOW from Eventbrite.
10% discount for museum members and InnerSquare Cardholders (contact events@diefenbunker.ca for your discount code)

A charitable tax receipt is available upon request. Please email events@diefenbunker.ca with your full name and mailing address.

Your date night includes:
– 6 – 2oz fine wine pairings with 6 artisan cheese samples, led by Geoffrey Skeggs and a team of sommeliers
– Guided tour with an underlying theme about Love in the Bunker
– Photo booth with props in the Tunnel of Love (AKA Blast Tunnel)!
– Selfie stops along the tour
– Coffee, tea and dessert bar at the end
– A little surprise for your main squeeze!
– $10 gift card to the museum boutique
– Best love of all: Supporting your favourite underground not-for-profit, charitable museum!

What you need to know:
– The Bunker is 100,000 square feet… feel free to dress up. Please consider wearing comfortable footwear.
– This special tour is delivered in English.
– There is 1 guide per group of 10 couples. 1 sommelier at each of the designated wine and cheese pairing stops.
– Wine and cheese list will be available shortly.
– Please make arrangements to for a safe drive, taxi or ride sharing service to and from the Museum. The address is 3929 Carp Road, K0A 1L0 (same area as the Carp Library)