Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

All I Want For Christmas: What To Get That Oenophile In Your Life!!!

Things Have Changed
It used to be that there were limitations as to what to get that Gourmet or Oenophile in your life! The whole wine/food trade has become so sophisticated that there is an over abundance of things to select for any lover of the good life---especially wine. For those who read this blog, here are but a minute few!
Roaring Fire Places and Cuddling Up Books
Lately I have worn this suggestion right out and My pal, Alex Eberspaecher, is probably going to think that I have gone overboard with this suggestion but (sorry Alex) a good thing should be talked about! I promise that this will be the last time this year I mention Vino Veritus---Alex's book about his travels around the wine world. It is a charming little book that one can really enjoy while sipping some wine in front of that fireplace and be prepared to laugh out loud and to re-read this book again and again (
Tony Aspler's mystery books are also of the same genre. Nicely written and easy to read, they offer pure escapism without having to delve too far from the subject of wine. Only Tony could do this. (
Yer Not So Cuddly But Great Info Books
These books are not for cuddling in front of a fireplace but one could technically have a glass of wine as he/she peruses the amazing information in them. Again Tony Aspler comes out with his newest book: Tony Aspler's Wine Atlas Of Canada is the most compete book of its kind to date. Filled with pictures and facts about the wineries throughout Canada it also offers detailed maps in a comprehensive package. Another one of Aspler's books is "The Definitive Canadian Wine and Cheese Cookbook" co-authored with Guerth Pretty.
For those who like to view what's best at the LCBO, Rod Phillips "The 500 Best-Value Wines In The LCBO" looks at the best bang for your buck. Rod Phillips is well known as a writer, educator and promoter of wine throughout the World and especially in Canada.
Finally, Shari Darling has her newest publication out in the form of a book called---are your ready?---"Orgasmic Appetizers and Matching Wines" it is a great read with wines and matching foods. Both Phillips' and Darling's books are available through Whitecap Books at
Bruce Nicholson, winemaker at Inniskillin has produced not only some excellent wine for the Holiday Season but also some very nice looking packaging for those who wish to give eye appeal to great taste.
This year several series of wines have been introduced:
The Varietal series harvested from major vinifera grapes in the Niagara Region. They represent great value (ranging in price from $10.95 to $14.95 at the LCBO) and true grape characteristics.
The Reserve series made from the best and ripest bunches of grapes in the Niagara Region are rich and laden with complexity. They range in price from $15.50 (Chardonnay) to $18.95 (Pinot Noir) and are also available at the LCBO. The Reserve Cabernet Franc and Reserve Meritage (Winery Boutique) will be at Vintages very soon and will be around the $18.95 price.
The Winemakers series is Bruce Nicholson's pride and joy! Bruce selects the grapes from several premium vineyards, ferments each vineyard's wines separately and evaluates each over a period of time. The wines are then bottled as single vineyards (i.e. Montegue) or blends the wines in the form of and so labels as Two Vineyards or Three Vineyards. The Three Vineyard Chardonnay is presently on sale at the LCBO (Vintages) while the Two Vineyard Riesling can be found at either the Winery Boutique or Wine Rack ($17.95).
Before we get off the Inniskillin kick, there are two wines that are worthy of mentioning. The commemorative bottle of Vidal Icewine featuring the artistic talents of Canadian Gordon Halloran. This wine represents Bruce Nicholson's first Icewine since joining the Niagara Inniskillin group (he has won "gads" of awards in B.C. now it's our turn to have him!) and part of the proceeds of this exceptional icewine both artistically and taste wise, goes to the 2010 Olympic and Para Olympic Winter Games.
The other wine is the special gift box containing a Vidal Sparkling Icewine ($69.95 Vintages).
Ah! Those Sparklers!
I have already mentioned the Jaquart Mosaique Brut Champagne which was a great price at $45. Now, however, we can rejoice since on December 15th this wine will be selling at Vintages for $39.95 (Vintages 664672) making it a true bargain. A nice champagne for a reasonably good price at $79.30 (Vintages, 96685) is the Pol Roger Chardonnay Brut Champagne 1998---a fully mature champagne that if full of creamy fiz to welcome in the New Year. Then of course there is always my favourite fizzer: Jackson Triggs Proprietors' Grand Reserve Methode Classique a traditional method sparkler whose length is as long as its name!
Mix and Match
I asked Tony Aspler what he would like to find under his tree---his response being: 2005 Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Carmenere Block 17 made by Ignacio Recabarren, one of Chile's best winemakers! I don't think that it is at Vintages yet but you can take the name and check it out on an on going basis. Tony says it should be at around
the $35 level! Now if you really want to splurge and get me a nice gift!!!! Why not go "whole hog" and select a 2002 Chambertin Cuvee Heritiers G.C. (Vintages 78204 $167.60) or---hold your hat---a 1999 Chateau Mouton Rothschild ( Vintages 607671 $357).
Spirits Go Wild
For those who like a nice Cognac, Louis Banyard of Signature wines introduced me to a fine V.S. on a par to Hennessy V.S. but not as expensive. The Henri Mounier V.S. Cognac at $38.85 (LCBO 293662) is a great buy and if your tastes run a bit more expensive you can try its bigger brother, Prince Hubert de Polignac XO Royal Congnac (Vintages 660381, $148.75). When it comes to yours truly and what I want under my tree: No less than Laphroiag Quarter Cask Single Malt Scotch. (LCBO 19158 $63.95)! Are you reading this hon????!!!!!