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, May 26, 2022

Spring Brings In Wine Anticipation

Spring Adventures 
March is not my favourite month. With unstable temperatures and either wet or icy weather plus the constant availability of muddy areas that I inadvertently step on, messing my shoes and then my car etc. March is a month that I want to get through asap. However the bright side of this month is that it is one month closer to warmer weather and green grass and bright sunshine and freedom from snow. 
With that in mind, I began enjoying the better parts of March.
Fun Lunch at Amici 
Durham Region has many fine restaurants but by far, my favourite is Amici Trattoria in Pickering. Under the ownership of Anthony (Tony) Albis and managed by his son Roberto, this establishment has risen to superb heights in the making of fine cuisine of all styles. Roberto, along with his partner Ruben Elmer,  also owns the wine agency called "The Case for Wine" which supplies the restaurant from its superb portfolio.. 

Jay Wright
On March 10th, I had the pleasure of dining with Mr. Jay Wright, CEO and President of the Arterra Wines Canada, at Amici. Jay took time from his ultra busy life to spend a couple of hours discussing wine, food and pairings at a restaurant that had all. 
Jay told me that he was soon to retire from the above position though he still would have some involvement l with the company. Rightly so! Jay did a first rate job in his association with VinCor, then Constellation and finally with Arterra. His influence on Canadian wine (as well as international) has been second to none and along with Donald Triggs, his contribution to the trade knows no bounds. I was and still am so proud to be associated with him and call him my friend!    
The order of the day was a delicious Fillet of Salmon with vegetables baked to perfection. The first course was my favourite, Fried Calamari. Wines that accompanied the meal were Inniskillin Chardonnay and Inniskillin Pinot Noir, both from the single Montague vineyard. 
The wines were the creation of famed iconic winemaker Bruce Nicholson. Highly renowned for his creations in British Columbia, he made just as big a name for himself in Ontario. One of his other super wines was the Inniskillin Discovery Series Gamay Noir which I had at home the week before.      
Just so you all know, Jay and I did not drink the whole lot of these wines. We had the equivalent of one glass each. It was a super afternoon and hopefully it will happen again!

Inniskillin Chardonnay Montague 2019   Niagara Four Mile Creek  $25.95     89/100 points        Nose: apple pear, citrus spice, vanilla  
Palate: medium body, creamy, pleasant finish
Pairing: seafood, salads, light meats
Comments: A nice wine for sipping or for that warm summer's evening meal with a seafood salad and grilled veggies.
Inniskillin Pinot Noir Montague 2018 Niagara Four Mile Creek $30.95           90/100 points 
Nose: cherry blossom, black fruit, burning leaves and tanned shoe leather
Palate: cranberry, strawberry, medium to full in body, a small touch of chocolate and a spicy finish.
Pairing: Baked Salmon,  Pork loin, roast duck. I would try an older version with choice fillet mignon.    Comments: A reasonable price for this wine.  
Inniskillin Gamay Noir  Discovery Series 2020  Niagara  $19.95                       88/100 points
Nose: Cherry, raspberry, cranberry, floral violet, light vanilla
Palate: Medium body, nice pleasant tannin, pepper spice, pleasant finish
Pairing: Pizza, pork chops, gilled veggies, chicken fingers with poutine! 
Comments: A super wine to open up and do some unpretentious drinking with some pleasant and easy going food. Lovely wine!
Inniskillin Riesling Reserve  2020       Niagara  $21.95*
Could not assess this wine as wife had drank it before I could get to it----must have been great!

For more information on Inniskillin Wine contact

Michael Pinkus
Wine writer, consultant, podcaster and television personality Michael Pinkus has proven time and again that he has an amazing palate. On May 3rd we met at Amici for a gab session. Michael and I met via the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada and share some great friends. Michael had just come back from a visit to Italy namely Tuscany. 
We spoke about our involvement with the magazine "Grapevine" as well as our respective travels (where his outnumbers mine with a wide margin).  Michael has also joined the Circle of Wine Writers in the United Kingdom. If anyone belongs to it, he does! 
Mike and I had a great time enjoying the diverse food at Amici's and enjoyed its house wine called Carpazo Sangiovese Toscana (LCBO # 361022 $15). A nice red wine at a reasonable price. I look forward to hearing more about Michael's  travels and watching him on his Facebook presentations. 

Springtime Wines 
This was the year that so many great wines came to my attention. For example, Carpazo Sangiovese Toscana mentioned above:
Carpazo Sangiovese Toscana  Tuscany  LCBO   #341022         $15           92/100 points
Nose: Ripe dark stone fruit such as prunes, raspberry and blackberry with hints of chocolate
Palate: Medium body, soft tannin and super nice flavourful finish.
Pairing: Pork Souvlaki, Lamb chops, Pizza 
Comments: Worth far more than the $15 price tag. Reasonable enough for every day but also useable for fine dining.  Rating based on price/quality
Mariposa Alegre  Gran Reserva Carmenere    LCBO # 21957      $16.95        92/100 points
Nose: Ripe fruit, vanilla wood, green pepper 
Palate: Medium plus, pleasant tannin, long finish 
Pairing: Grilled meat, burgers, hot dogs
Comments: Excellent price/quality ratio.     
Tasca Regaleali Bianco  Sicily (Palermo) 2021   LCBO: TBD 2023      $16.95     94/100 points
Nose: Peach, sweet apple, boysenberry, citrus
Palate: Ripe fruit, light to medium body, soft silky mouth feel, finish is long with ripe fruit and pleasant unobtrusive sweetness.
Pairing: Pasta with cream sauce, seafood (oysters, smoked salmon, salad).
Comments: Made from a blend of Grecanico, Catarratto, Insolia and Chardonnay. A high quality, low price wine capable of some development (5 years) in a cellar but why wait. At that price enjoy now! Score is based on quality/price ratio.
La Gironda Moscato d'Asti 2021       Vintages  Considerations           $19.95    95/100 points              Nose: Intense floral, peach, apricot, honey 
Palate: Pleasant fizz, light bodied, silky with pleasant mouth feel, sweet, ripe fruit and refreshing finish
Pairing: Great on own but certainly will ad to Hazel nut cake, sweet ripe fruit such as figs or strawberry/raspberry pie, salty cheese, smoked salmon, prosciutto, cream cake!
Comments: This is the perfect summer wine for alone or with guests. The 5 % alcohol makes it that much more enticing keeping alcohol intake to a limit.  
Points based on  quality/price ratio 
Monteci Organic Pinot Grigio 2020    TBR: February, 2023            $18.95     93/100 points
Nose: Floral Blossoms, daisies, pear, peach 
Palate: Soft, elegant and light bodied, fresh fruit finish
Pairing: Grilled Halloumi cheese, White meat, cold cuts, seafood salad and pasta
Comments: When it's hot outside the rule of the day is not to have "heavy" for wine or meals ----especially outside or on the patio. This wine will do the trick and at a very reasonable price,
Point score based on quality/price ratio.

For more information on the "Springtime Wines" discussed here contact: "The Case For Wine" at