Wines of Chile 2013


Chilean wines – the thoughts that enter one’s mind are: value, full-bodied reds and vegetal Carmeneres. At this year’s tasting, I’ve affirmed the first two, but have learned that vegetal Carmeneres are no longer in style. I rather enjoy the green, vegetal notes that Carmenere is known and (by me) so revered for, but sadly, as sale statistics don’t lie, it seems that fellow Ontarians don’t feel the same way. None-the-less, I’ve tried quite a few wines and documented my overall experience together with the wine reviews herein.
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54 Wines 1 Summer Solstice


Summer Solstice: a celestial event where either the Northern or Southern Pole is closest to the sun and is thus marked by the longest day on that respective hemisphere.  This year, that moment happened at 5:04 am on June 21st and sprung the Northern Hemisphere into the first day of summer.




County in the City


On April 25th 2013, second annual ‘County in the City’ wine-tasting took place inside of the Berkeley Church, downtown Toronto. The event’s aim was to introduce wines of Prince Edward County to ‘us’, the city dwellers, without ‘us’ having to venture out. This year, 14 out of the 26 Prince Edward County wineries (several more wineries are to open this year) featured their products and who better to represent them than the winery IMG_5507owners and wine makers themselves. The cost of $40 (at the door) included all the tastings, some cracker/cheese/fruit nibbles and a performance by a live band. Variety of on-site prepared food was also available for purchase and its juicy, meaty smells were competing with the wine’s aromas. As many of the wines are not available at the LCBO, purchasing ANY 6 or more wines warranted free delivery directly to customer’s door – promotion only available at the event itself.


California Wine Fair


California Wine Fair is Wine Institute’s of California and LCBO’s grand finale to what was a month-and-a-half long promotion of Californian wines (also see my earlier post). The event, held at the Fairmont Royal York in downtown Toronto, featured over 480 wines from 180 California’s wineries (for a complete list click here: wineries + wines) and consisted of 4 parts – a luncheon for invited guests only; private tasting for registered media (11-5:30 pm); trade event for wine retail trade, media and hospitality industry only (2:30-5:30 pm); and a consumer event for the general public for a fee of $75 (7-9:30 pm).


Snowshoeing in the vineyard


IMG_4879Starting second weekend in January and going right through February, Thirty Bench offers “Snowshoeing in the vineyard” tours. In a nutshell, it entails a hike through the property’s three vineyards, while sipping wine and listening to the guide’s interesting anecdotes and trivia about the vineyard, winery and the wine; and finalizing with an exquisite pairing of oaked Chardonnay and seafood chowder (described here in full detail) before heading the boutique to purchase some of the tasted wines or to continue-on visiting other wineries.


‘Hot to Trot’ – the stakes

There are more wines entering the market today than ever before and with wines making it onto the Canadian turf from unexpected places like China or Brazil, it is not surprising that wineries and agents representing them are coming up with more and more ingenious ways of marketing them.  There are many strategies by which wines are featured to the wider public including:
– visual advertisements;
– direct targeting of customers at the LCBO – entrance tastings, Air Miles promotions, attached 1 oz liquor bottles, neat packaging (holidays), etc;
– paid venues ranging from expo style events (Food and Wine Show; Wine and Cheese Show; etc) to more intimate tutored tastings generally hosted by the owner or wine-master of the winery;
– structured lunches/dinners where media is invited with the intention to share the word around (my case here :-)).
Whichever strategy is employed, they all work and it is because we need to eat, we need to drink and we surely need to have fun.  The more senses are satisfied at the same time, the more successful the product – visually gratifying labels/bottles; touch pleasing textured labels, large glassware; appealing aromas – the more the better (complexity); satisfying mouthfeel – acidity, tannins, fruit sugars (not glucose), minerality (structure); auditory satisfaction coming from popping of a cork enclosure; lastly, though not a sense, sentient fulfilment that comes from discussion of the ever elusive aromas or the complimentary merging of the senses.
In this article, I want to share my experience at a recent event where quite a bit of thought and effort went into making of what ended up being a successful and memorable presentation of two products.


17th Annual Italian Wine Tasting

On November 5th 2012, Délégation Commercial d’Italie organized and executed the 17th Annual Italian Wine tasting event held at the Roy Thompson Hall. With clientele including agents, restaurant/hotel sommeliers, wine writers/critics, media (category under which GrapeSelections was granted entry) or private buyers, all of us totalling 4 to 5 hundred strong, one would think that the staff representing the 83 listed wineries featuring on average 5 different wines, would be completely overwhelmed. On the contrary, the open, circular layout of the foyer allowed for unobstructed movement and the atmosphere, though lively, was quite relaxed and the agents were attentive and ready to discuss their products even during the peak hour.


The young and the eager

On October 23rd, GrapeSelections was invited to a structured tasting of Rosewood wines matched with food pairings prepared by chef-trainees at the Chef’s House.

Rosewood Estates, a young winery and meadery established at the beginning of this century, has already made its name locally and globally by producing award-winning wines and meads. The Chef’s house, a restaurant operated by George Brown College, trains young George Brown chef-trainees and School of Hospitality and Tourism Management students to excel in their culinary talents. GrapeSelections, which just celebrated three months since conception, has already managed to secure a position in the wine-reviewer/wine-writer world; it was only fitting that all three parties, excited and eager to excel in our respective realms, got together in what in-my-opinion ended up being

Business and pleasure – who says they don’t mix.

Five talented and dedicated wine enthusiasts and I were treated with dinner, compliments of Bryan McCaw, and tutored wine tasting given by David Lawrason and Sara d’Amato – I felt like being back at the university, sitting in a small classroom clinging onto every word from a looked-up-to professor – a cherished moment in my life.


“No cameras, no glimmer, just good old-school quality time”


Luxury-line Penfolds tasting


This is one of the greatest wine tastings there was and probably will be in this city” – David Lawrason


Last night, September 17th 2012, I was fortunate to participate at a Penfolds ‘bring your own bottle’ event, giving GrapeSelections lots of material to write about. The premise of the event was to appreciate Penfolds customers, by inviting them (us) to a free dinner where the patrons were to bring a luxury–line bottle from their cellar and share it along with stories behind each bottle. The event was held at the House of Moments establishment and was hosted by Peter Gago, chief winemaker, together with David Lawrason, VP of wine at WineAlign.


Tasting with Wolf Blass

On Monday, September 10th 2012, as ‘GrapeSelections’, I was invited to a dinner/wine tasting of Wolf Blass wines – presented by THE MAN himself, together with Chris Hatcher (the chief winemaker) and hosted by Natalie MacLean (the author of the book ‘Unquenchable’). The premise of this event was to promote the book ‘Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest For The World’s Best Bargain Wines’ together with Wolf Blass wines, as in her book, Mrs. MacLean wittingly shares her experience meeting Mr. Blass as well as other stories of her visiting ‘the wine country’.