Ask Chuck

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.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

This is a true Case For Wine

International Wine and Spirits Festival
The R.S. McLaughlin Art Gallery is a true iconic site for the show that will put the City of Oshawa on the wine map. Famous for its art display as well as the man who is so well known and loved in this city---Sam McLaughlin or Colonel Sam as many called him, the art gallery is a fitting place to show what is truly a work of art----Wine!
The artistic motivation that winemakers use can be so diverse as to make it somewhat of an anomaly in the beverage field.
Agencies, the life blood of the vineyard managers and wine makers distribute this product to waiting clientele. Like anything else in life there are various levels of agency performance and at the International one can find the best of the best! This year we have the new along with the old!
The Case For Wine
One supportive group has always been an agency called "The Case for Wine!"
This year it  introduces several wines
Era Sauvignon Blanc
This Italian (LCBO #632307, $10.90) is an organic wine with citrus apple pear flavours and ideal as an aperitif or with seafood and salads.
Era Montepulciano
Another organic wine this time red is a very approachable Italian that is again quite reasonable in price. This wine (LCBO #255844, $10.75) comes with red berry, herbal and oak flavours and is an ideal pizza wine.
Era Merlot
Merlot exhibits a bramble berry mix along with some dark fruit such as plum and black cherry flavours. The price here is again ideal for those wishing to enjoy a nice bottle with some barby fare without breaking the bank. (LCBO #255869 $10.75)
Botter Primitivo Doppio Passo
Primitivo is the same genitical type as California's Zinfandel! Here we have a super wine at a super price! The Passo offers the best of both worlds with part of the harvest vinified and macerated for about 7 to 8 days while the second part of the vineyard is left on the vines for an extra ten days to obtain a late harvest effect. \the wine (LCBO #255190 $10;45) is exceptional for the price and has black fruit flavours, vanilla and herbal characters. Definitely a pork and game wine but will suffice with cold cuts and burgers also!
Oggi Primitivo
(LCBO #86421, $9.45) Dark fruit flavours, some pepper and forest floor aromas. Nice sipping wine but excellent with quick fried steak and fries.
Oggi Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio at a great price  (LCBO #86199, $9.45) is always a good buy. This wine comes with citrus, apple and pear notes with a pleasant blossom nose. The finish is crisp and refreshing.
Castello Di Neive Barbaresco
A fine and reasonable wine (LCBO #160143, $28.00) with red cherry flavours, leather, smoke and burning leaves and a firm backbone but delightful with food such as game, roast beef and steak!
Scheid District 7 Cabernet Sauvignon This is a wine from a superb Monterey County vineyard in California. I have not yet tasted it but the wines are said to be fantastic! It will be available via Case For Wine in early November.
These wines will be available to try at the International on November second but can be obtained from either the LCBO or The Case For Wine at 1305 Pickering Parkway, suite 105 Pickering or call 416-482-0241 website is

Sunday, October 27, 2019

This Wine House is Truly a Noble Estate!

International Wine Festival
One of the wine agencies attending this year's International Wine Festival in Oshawa is Noble Estates Wine and Spirits. They are a highly successful and quite large agency with contacts throughout the World of Wine.
Its products includes wines from many wine making nations such as Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, Argentina, Chile and Canada (Ontario, Nova Scotia) to name a few.
Noble Estates Wine & Spirits located in Markham represents a wide variety of wines from the above countries.
Canadian purists will certainly approve of Noble's representation of Malivoire Winery's "Ladybug Rose"(Vintages #559088, $16.95) made from Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  It is light, fresh, full of red fruit flavours and goes with a wide variety of food. While it is looked on as a summer sipper, it truly is a wine for all seasons!
New Zealand produces some exceptional Sauvignon Blanc and "Peter Yealands'  Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc" (LCBO #2777310, $16.95)  is superb with flavours of citrus grapefruit, passion fruit, herbal grass and white berries. Advertised as a "Vegan food wine" but will complement any dish from fowl to cold cuts to veggie stir fries etc.
If its sparkling you want then "Pares Balta" (Consignment in Ontario/saq code:10896365, $15.95), is the one for you. Made by a winery that has been in existence since the mid 18 century and also via organic/biodynamic methods, this Traditionally made blend of Parellada, Macabeu and Xarel-lo grapes provides apple, pear and floral blossom aromas with a zesty freshness and a lasting finish. This is a unique food friendly wine that offers the best from Spain's Panedes region!
From The foothills of Argentina's Andes  comes "Catena Cabernet Sauvignon" (Vintages Essentials #985002, $19.95). From a winery that began in 1902 the wine is still being made by 4th generation vintner Laura Catena and 3rd generation vintner Nicholas Catena Zapata!  The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (90%), with Cabernet Franc (7%) and Petit Verdot (3%). The wine is very concentrated with black fruit flavours black pepper, smoke and plum. Very age worthy but capable of pleasant drinking with food such as beef, game and fowl now!
The Puglia region of Italy produces some excellent red wine and if you hear that some may resemble Californian Zinfandel, then that information is correct since the Primitivo grape and the Zinfandel grape are one and the same. Of course there are geographic and clonal differences but in essence the wine is genetically related.
A wine of great value (LCBO #253856, $11.95) is "Luccarelli" which is made from 100% Primitivo grapes. The wine is medium to full bodied with ruby red colour and flavours of cherry, raspberry and red currants. A super pizza or meat wine which comes at a super price. Easy drinking on its own also!
My favourite of the batch was the unique "Bonarda" (Vintages #261586, $15.95) from Mendoza, Argentina. The wine is made at La Posta del Vinatero  by Laura Catena (if that name is familiar check out the Catena Cabernet above!
The Bonardo grape (known as Charbono in California) produces wine that is very complex. The wine with its black cherry, raspberry, leather and chocolate notes comes from vines that are over 80 years old! This is a wine to be enjoyed with fine meat dishes and game but is inexpensive enough to just enjoy with light meats and barbecue fare! Definitely one of my favourites.
Noble Estates has introduced me to some very fine wine and can be contacted at the following:
 3000 Steeles Ave East Suite 203
  Markham , ON L3R 4T9 

  (905) 943-7272

Friday, October 4, 2019

The Wines Of Zenato

Every time I visit Verona which is located in Veneto I make it a point to visit my dear friends in Lugana nearbyLugana is a wine region east of Veneto and west of Lombardy in northern Italy. The name has many rumored derivations from local dialect and Latin, all essentially meaning “lake in the woods,” referring to its once heavily wooded landscape and location along Lake Garda.The region is very ancient---going back many centuries--- and its wine was known to many Roman writers such as Virgil and Pliny. 
It is here that in 1960 the late Sergio Zenato developed his winery. Located in the heart of Lugana, the winery is run by his wife Clara and two children Alberto and Nadia. They expanded Zenato winery into Veneto Valpolicella country in Sant' Ambrogio.di Valpolicella about 15 kilometres northwest of Verona. and 14 kilometres from Lugana (Peschiera del Garda)! 
The Zenato family is definitely what I call a "trendy designer" family. They are traditional in wine making method but are not afraid to delve into the "new"! I found that out recently with several of their wines.
Zenato Veneto Rosso (LCBO #208579, $13.80) shows their progressive movement towards using "parziale appassimento" (partially dried grapes) blends in their wine. In this case cabernet sauvignon, merlot and corvina varieties are superbly blended to produce a flavourful, concentrated and aromatic wine that is soft enough to drink on its own yet matches a wide variety of dishes from cheese to roast beef.  
Zenato Alanera is another blend of partially dried grapes--in this case, merlot and corvina. However the wine gets its name from the Italian word for "Crow" symbolizing the dark, shiny colour that the Corvina grape gives to the wine. Black fruit dominates along with smoke and herbal nose. The palate is medium to full bodied and finish long lasting. I would have it with game and beef BUT you might also enjoy it with pizza and pasta!  Good news is that 360 cases are due to be released in Vintages on February 22nd 2020!   
Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso   
What is Ripassa?  Ripassa is the brand name derivative of  the wine making method called Ripasso. The Valpolicella wine is allowed to "pass over" (hence "Ripasso") the left over the still warm "marc" (left over grape deposits) for a period of 7 to 8 days and a second fermentation begins. The left over wine is richer, more alcoholic and more perfumed than regular Valpolicella.. The wine is then aged in 500 litre casks and  barrels for 18 months.
Grape varieties used to make this wine are Corvina, Rondinella and Oseleta. Molinara which used to be used is now declassified and other grapes can be used. The wine's dark colour is mostly due to the 85% Corvina usage.
Zenato Ripassa (Vintages #479766, $26.95 is a reasonable facsimile of Amarone but at a reduced price. This wine which exhibits dark fruit, coffee and herbal notes! Full bodied! 
Definitely a meat wine for game, steak or beef but also good with hard cheese and sausage salami.
Zenato Amarone
While Barolo is said to be the "King" of Italian wine, Amarone is looked upon as the close contender if not equal! It is Veneto's greatest expression of wine. Zenato actually has three levels of Amarone available in this area: The Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2017 (Vintages #413179, $50.95) ----considered a huge wine even by Amarone standards and a magnificent wine with ripe blackberry, fig, chocolate and dried berries in a full, velvet body; the Sergio Zenato Riserva Amarone della Valpolicella (Vintages #132316, $109) ---a huge wine with an evolving mix of berries, dried fruit, vanilla, plum, cream, limestone and the wine keeps evolving, According to James Suckling "probably the best Amarone ever made" and given a 99/100 score! Another wine that is unavailable and I have not tried is listed as Zenato Archivio Storico Amarone della Valpolicella 2008 (Vintages #10383, $479.),  At that price I am sure it not only is superb but a flavour that will last for several weeks!! 
Zenato Valpolicella Superiore 2017 92/100 points
Zenato Valpolicella Superiore is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Sangiovese though those marked "Classico" usually has Corvinone replacing the Sangiovese. The wine has black cherry flavours supplemented by currant and vanilla spice with a touch of chocolate.
It is an excellent pairing to food such as pasta, pork dishes, cold cuts and fowl. It is strong  enough to withstand strong sauces. Excellent value (Vintages #995704, $18.95) 
Zenato Lugana San Benedetto
The Trebbiano grape reaches its highest form in the Lugana area of Italy. Located on the southern banks of Lake Garda the Lugana area allows Trebbiano to express the mineral rich clay soils that give its wines a floral and fruity nose of white flowers and apricot along with nuances of nuts, citrus orange and white fruit.This wine (Vintages #707158, $19.95) is no different making it excellent drinking on its own or with seafood or light meat platters.