Kerri Henman -


January 20, 2008

Surprise, surprise …

OK, yes, part of the surprise is that I’m posting!

But the ‘surprise’ topic of this posting is really that it is about some lovely wines I discovered over the holidays. I was surprised by a few products – by their price points, by a supplier that I usually avoid like the plague, and by the reaction garnered by one lovely little sparkler.

I’ll start with the bubbly – always good to kick things off with bubbles!

You’ve probably seen the ads all over for Fresita – a strawberry-flavoured prosecco. It’s fun; it’s more like pop than wine, but it doesn’t cross the line into candy. Fresita is light and fruity – tastes like *real* strawberry, not fake strawberry – and it’s so refreshing. I really hope this sticks around for summer, because it will become a staple for the backyard. It’s $13.95 a bottle …. great value, highly drinkable.

I attended an ‘after hours’ sale at Club Monaco (yay, cashmere!), and they were offering sparkling wine as refreshment. And yes, shopping with bubbles does make it SO much more fun! Usually, the wine offered at these events is not great, so I was quite surprised by my first sip. It was really lovely! It was Bottega Vino Dei Poeti Prosecco – only $12.95 a bottle!! Good complexity, just a tiny bit of yeast on the finish (which I love), and gorgeous fruit flavours. Crisp apple mostly, with a bit of pear, and some subtle ‘white fruit’ notes in the mid-palate (could be lychee?). This is the kind of bubbly you should always have in the house; either to make visitors feel special, to celebrate Tuesday, or just to open on a Sunday morning because you feel like making Mimosas. Yummy.

And last – but not least!!!!! – one that caught my attention at the New Zealand Wine Fair in May…. Soljans Fusion Sparkling Muscat. I was given a glass at the wine fair, and the rep who did probably regrets it. It was all I wanted to drink that night. When it hit the shelves at Vintages, I was all over it! Muscat is a very rich, floral grape, and as a wine can be quite heavy. But when it sparkles – it’s so different; if you’ve ever had a sparkling ice wine, it’s closer to that than to your usual bubbly. The nose is rich, lush – it’s orange zest and a bit of clove, brushed with honey. That’s what you taste as well, with the bubbles keeping it from being too heavy or overpowering. The honey comes forward, and there’s a taste of golden delicious apple, but the orange zest gives the flavour a roundness that makes it an outstanding dessert wine. Sticky toffee pudding would LOVE this. Best part? I served it to someone who is notoriously difficult to please, and they loved it! Unequivocally; no ‘better if…’, no ‘it’s not as good as..’. None of that. Just “where do I get this?”. Yay! Sadly – that’s the bad news. It’s a Vintages product. There’s still some on the shelves, but it’s running out. Summerhill and Queen’s Quay are your best bets if you’re in Toronto; Mississauga and Waterloo are your only options outside of Toronto, with the exception of one lonely bottle at Bank & Walkley in Ottawa. It is available through consignment – Glen Ward Wines represents it here. At $18.95 a bottle, a case isn’t outrageous, especially if you share it with a friend.

Now – on to the whites!

Well, okay, one white ….. I stayed true to the faves over the season, for the most part – including indulging in a bottle of Mondavi Fume Blanc for a seafood feast on Christmas Eve. $24.95, but worth it! It was on Christmas Eve, actually, that I tried a new white from KWV. I’ve had KWV in the past, and generally avoid it. I am just not a fan. But waiting in line at the LCBO (yes, I was dumb enough to go to the LCBO on XMess Eve!), I spotted a KWN Chenin Blanc. Now, I love Chenin, I really do, but I wasn’t sure I loved it enough to give the KWV a try. At $7.90 a bottle, though, I figured Id give it a try.

I was SO pleasantly surprised!

It was all the things I love about Chenin – bright, fresh, citrusy, with some great lime notes. It was just so good … AND it’s a KWV! Shocker. Did I mention it’s only $7.90????

Reds had a few surprises in store, but one came with a dose of disappointment.

We opened a 1999 Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon on New Year’s Eve – served it with grilled loin of vension. OH WOW, it was good!! Lush, juicy, mouth-filling; nice tannic characgter that paired beautifully with the game. Loved it. The disappointment? Can’t get it any more. Sob!

We also opened two bottles of Casillero del Diablo Carmenere…. yummy yummy yummy! We had duck, horse and ostrich with it; the wine handled all of them really nicely. I though it went best with the ostrich; the sweetness of ostrich and the spiciness of the Carmenere were a great match. We’re definitely doing that again! At $12.95… we can afford to do it a LOT! The Carmenere is gorgeous. It’s got some great fruit character – blueberry and dark cherry, with just a hint of plum, and there’s some smoke and spice on the finish that adds interest and takes it out of the ordinary. I don’t think I’d open a bottle of this ‘just because’ – it’s really more of a food wine. But it’s a *good* food wine.

Speaking of food … I should go worry about dinner tonight ….!

  1. You should post more often. 🙂
    I began a love affair with cashmere that night at Club Monaco and have been rejigging my sweater wardrobe as a result. Out with the chunky, shapeless, oversized, turtleneck sweaters, in with the thinner, more fitted, lower neck (v-neck, scoop neck) sweaters. I’m realizing that thin doesn’t necessarily mean not warm. And yes, the Prosecco made it so much easier. It was an impressive wine. Now that I’ve said this I realize that I have the basis of a blog post of my very own.

    I must try the Muscat. A quick search on the LCBO website says that Summerhill has 14 bottles, Dupont and Spadina has 13, Bayview Village has 30 (not that I ever get there) and Queen’s Quay has 25.

    We must do some more wine drinking together.

    Comment by Andrea — January 21, 2008 @ 12:05 pm
  2. Cashmere is *lovely* … and can be found inexpensively, if you look. Mark’s Work Wearhouse has a cashmere blend (cotton/cashmere) line that’s around $40, but a bunch of them are on sale. LL Bean has *great* cashmere, all under $100, and i got an e-mail today from Bluefly – lots and lots of great sweaters!

    Yeah, the sparkling Muscat is heaven … love it!

    As for more drinking – I’m hosting a tasting tomorrow night at Bumpkins? I’ll be right across the street?!? Interested?

    Comment by kerri — January 21, 2008 @ 12:34 pm
  3. I read that Fresita is 85% Muscat, not a prosseco.

    Comment by Peter — January 21, 2008 @ 4:42 pm
  4. Actually – the sparkling component of Fresita is a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It’s a Chilean product; prosecco is a misnomer in that it’s neither Italian NOR made from the prosecco grape. But it’s close to a prosecco in character – not too sweet, not too dry, nice acidity and crispness. It’s a nice base for the addition of the strawberries; it keeps the flavour clean and refreshing!

    Okay, I really want a glass now…..

    Comment by kerri — January 21, 2008 @ 5:02 pm

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