March 13, 2017 – Ottawa, ON
Today on CTV Morning Live, CTV’s Lianne Laing, Henry Burris, and Sommelier Matt Steeves showcased value priced wine picks that are ideally suited for enjoying this time of year as we transition from winter to spring. Check out our video here
While there’s still a fair amount of snow on the ground, believe it or not, soon the patio season will be here, and we’ll be enjoying refreshing Rosé wine with charcuterie on patios in the warm spring sun, but until that weather arrives, and do I ever hope it arrives soon, we can get primed for those patio sessions with some of these terrific wines that are perfectly suited for transitioning from the dark and chilly winter months into the sunny and mild spring days.
As we begin the transition from winter to early spring, and as we enjoy a (fingers crossed) mild March break in Ontario, here are some of my top spring wine picks under $20:
Kicking it off with some bubbly! We should all enjoy bubbly more often given the celebratory nature of it and how well it pairs with a wide range of foods. When I attended the Vancouver Wine Festival recently, a theme I heard over and over again was that folks should be enjoying more sparkling wine, especially Canadian sparkling wine as it’s not only delicious and of the highest quality, but it’s very reasonably priced too when compared to a famous French sparkling wine. To help us with these objectives, I’ve got two great bubbly options here, and of course, they’re both under $20 a bottle.
First of all, this traditional method sparkling wine (i.e. Champagne method), from the Niagara region, is not only delicious, and affordable ($13.95 a half bottle, which is a fraction of what a similar size bottle of Champagne costs) but this demi-bottle format is the perfect size when you’re just looking for a nice glass or two of bubbly at the end of the day, or perhaps to kick-off a romantic meal or date night before you take that Uber downtown.
Chateau des Charmes’ non-vintage Brut traditional method sparkling wine, from the Niagara region in Ontario, is not only super tasty and affordable ($13.95 a half bottle, which is a fraction of what a similar size bottle of Champagne costs) but this demi-bouteille format is the perfect size when you’re just looking for a nice glass or two of bubbly at the end of the day, or perhaps to kick-off a romantic meal or date night before you take that taxi downtown. Produced with similar expert craftmanship as Champagne is in France, this Brut is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that shows expressive Russet apples and freshly baked almond croissant on the nose and palate. A refreshing and creamy mousse provides great texture making this wine ideally suited for pairing with a wide range of foods from appetizers to five course meals. Enjoy this Spring with oysters on the half shell and just about anything you can imagine during your Sunday morning brunch. Tasted March 2017. 90 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Available at LCBO or one of their Boutique shoppes. If in Ottawa, check out their Boutique wine shoppe and tasting bar at Minto Place, corner of Laurier and Lyon.
Second bubbly today is a Prosecco, Italy’s increasingly popular and very accessible sparkling wine. Prosecco’s are enjoyed for their refreshing characteristics and often their subtle sweetness making them great as aperitifs and for enjoying with appetizers and practically any dish you can imagine. Santa Margherita’s Prosecco Superiore is a great choice for entertaining and greeting guests when they arrive. Food friendly, whether you’re pairing it with appetizers or a five course meal, it’s also great on its own, making it a winner in every possible way.
Santa Margherita’s Brut Prosecco Superiore is a terrific option when looking for a refreshing sparkling wine. Made from 100% Glera grapes, this Prosecco has lively bubbles with crisp pear and white peach aromas and a delicious apple finish persisting on the refreshed palate. Great for pairing with rich appetizers, and makes a terrific ‘spritz’ which is ideal in the summer sun. Tasted February 2017. 89 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
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. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Villa Canlungo’s Black Label (or as I like to refer to it in order to help shoppers find it on the shelf, ‘the wiener dog label’) Pinot Grigio comes from the northern tip of Italy where Pinot Grigio is king, in fact that is the epicentre of Pinot Grigio around the world. Pale gold colour, the nose greets you with sweet pear, juicy yellow apple, with hints of hay and almonds. Refreshing without being tart, there’s a good balance of crisp orchard fruit, salinity, and herbs making it great on its own or when paired with grilled fish, poultry, creamy salads or autumn harvest soups. Enjoy over the next year and serve chilled. Tasted September 2016 and March 2017. 87 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
I love Sauvignon Blanc all year round, and find I pour it much more often as the weather warms up as it’s perfectly suited for enjoying with the lighter meals that spring and summer bring with it. This crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Riverlore is a great choice this spring.
2015 Vintage: Riverlore Sauvignon Blanc shows characteristically exotic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc citrus fruit, gooseberry, passion fruit, herbaceousness, with crisp sea breeze salinity. On the palate, crisp citrus, orchard fruit, and lemon grass with well balanced acidity and refreshing minerality make this a great wine to enjoy with summer salads, grilled fruit and veggies, soft cheese, or simply on its own served ice-cold in the company of good friends. An impressive and very consumer friendly Sauvignon Blanc that I’d highly recommend enjoying in the summer sun and into the fall. Tasted May 2016. 90 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Now, moving into the reds.
During autumn and winter many people enjoy big hearty red wines with their hearty meals. Bold Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere are great with stews and roasts when the weather is cold outside. As the weather warms up, and as our meals get lighter, it’s a great time to try some slightly lighter styles of wine too. Here are a few of my value-priced red picks to try this spring:
Chateau des Charmes Gamay Noir ‘Droit’ – $17.95
Gamay Noir is typically a light style red wine but this Gamay Noir ‘Droit’ is actually very bold and robust, making it great all year round and a fine choice to transition from winter to spring and enjoy all summer long with BBQ fare.
Award winning winery, and Canadian winemaking pioneers, Chateau des Charmes, have created a truly unique, one-of-a-kind expression of Gamay Noir, in fact it’s formally known as Gamay Noir ‘Droit’. Sourced from the Niagara region’s warmest and one of the most prestigious sub-appellations, St. David’s Bench, this otherwise typically lighter style of red wine is big, bold, and robust. Deep ruby color with a a slight purple hue, the nose shows dark cherry, raspberry, spice, pepper, and gamey notes. Terrific acidity makes this a wine destined for the table to be enjoyed with bold flavoured foods, from BBQ brisket, burgers, or ribs, to smoky Blue Cheese, such as Emmi Roth Moody Blue or Blue Haze – two of my favourites and both pair exceptionally well with this expressive wine. At $17.95 this wine offers great value, especially for a wine that sets the benchmark. Enjoy 2017-2020. Tasted March 2017. 90 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Available at LCBO or winery direct – $17.95
13th Street Winery Cabernet-Merlot – $19.95
13th Street Winery’s 2013 Cabernet Merlot is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc, sourced from vineyards in the Creek Shores and Niagara-on-the-Lake appellations of the Niagara Peninsula. A very expressive wine with dark cherry, spicy plum, vanilla, sweet pipe tobacco, dried herbs and cedar on the nose and palate. Very approachable now, with a soft texture and refreshing mouthfeel. Dark cherry, plum, and spicy brambleberry persist on the finish. Pair this value priced wine with confidence by serving alongside BBQ’d burgers or charcoal grilled tenderloin knowing it will be enjoyed by all. Tasted March 2017. 90 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.querucsvino.ca
Four in Hand Barossa Valley Shiraz
2014 Vintage: Get the BBQ ready as this fine Barossa Shiraz is primed and ready to be enjoyed with richly flavoured BBQ grub. Big and bold, with juicy dark fruit, black cherry, smoky bacon, mocha, pepper corn, and leather on the nose. The palate shows refreshing dark berries, black cherry, pepper, and spice. Enjoy this complex and value-priced Barossa Valley Shiraz with BBQ fare or hearty winter dishes. My favourites: tangy ribs, gourmet burgers, smoked brisket, or charcoal grilled beef tenderloin. Winemaker Chris Hancock, MW (Hon.) who’s crafted one of the most iconic wines in the world, Penfolds Grange, continues to make this wine which is one of the most impressive value-priced Aussi Shiraz’s you’ll find. Enjoy 2017-2021. Tasted March 2017. 90 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Thelema Mountain Red offers great value with its South African (Bordeaux-ish style) blend of Petit Verdot (28%), Merlot (27%), Shiraz (25%), Cabernet Sauvignon (12%), Grenache (7%), and Cabernet Franc (1%), The nose offers fragrant plum, cherry, dark chocolate, cedar, leather, and pencil shavings. Soft and elegant, with modest acidity and rounded tannins that will complement braised beef dishes and firm cheese. Plum, mocha, and cedar persist on the finish. At $13 this a great weekday wine that’s well suited for a Saturday evening meal too. Tasted February 2017. 89 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quecusvino.ca
Now, to switch things up a bit from our value priced spring wines into some rare, aged, fine wines that are only available at auction.
If you’ve never been to a live wine auction, Ottawa’s Music and Beyond auctions are a great experience and offer plenty of aged vintage wines at very affordable prices, along with a full range of iconic (aka higher cost) wines so there’s something for every budget and every wine preference whether that’s old world, new world, still, sparkling, or dessert wines.
I took a peek at some of the wines that are up for grabs and selected two beautiful Burgundy wines to show today on CTV. Burgundy (the iconic land of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), also happens to be fantastic in the spring as the foods we enjoy transition away from hearty winter cuisine to lighter dishes as summer approaches.
So, here are two stellar Burdungy wines that are up for grabs on March 24th at the Mustic and Beyond auction. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to pick these up at a great price and either cellar them, gift them to a wine fanatic, or pop the cork and enjoy this spring!
Starting off with a beautiful Chardonny from the heartland of Chardonnay in Burgundy…
2005 Bouchard Père & Fils Meursault Genévrières, Meursault 1er Cru – starting bid $80, appraised value $233 – http://www.ottawawineauction.ca
Now, a Beaune Pinot Noir…unbelievably delicious!
6:30 p.m. – Wine and Cheese Reception and Registration
7:00 p.m. – Wine Auction with Stephen Ranger
Music and Beyond’s spring Wine Auction promises to be the most exciting yet! Stephen Ranger, widely known as Canada’s leading auctioneer, is joining us from Toronto!