Wine and Travel Concierge

Welcome!

This website, is a place for me to share my wine, culinary and travel experiences locally and around the world.

It’s for anyone who shares a common interest in flavours and cultures.

ENJOY!

Donita

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Northern Lights Wine Group – a collaboration

Once upon a time in Kelowna, I had the opportunity to taste some wine from a group of 4 entrepreneurs. They’ve come together to form an alliance called Northern Lights Wine Group. How smart are they?! They each have their own wine portfolio and business, but together they have more marketing power on getting out there in front of more people!

Now, we just need more good stores in the Okanagan to pick up some of their wines!!

Here’s the quick and dirty on what I tasted from each of them.

 

Meet Vicky Ainley of Vino Allegro Wine Imports Inc.

Here are the wines that were stand outs!

1. 2018 Bodegas Menade Rueda Verdejo (ORGANIC), Spain – it went through mlf and it is super cool! Notes of floral notes, candied lemon, herbal, grassy, passionfruit.

2. Domaine De La Tour Boisee Old Vines Carignan, France – dense with great tannins, super yummy.

3. Rocca Bernarda Refosco, Italy – spicy, a really cool wine.

 

4. 2018 Gourmandise IGT Mediterrenee Rosé, France – delightfully fresh and available at Marquis Wine Cellars

5. 2018 Petite Note Bleue IGT Mediterrenee Rosé, France – crisp and refreshing, a blend of Grenache and Rolle and available at Marquis Wine Cellars

6. 2018 Bandol Rose Bastide De La Ciselette Lou Pigna, France – notes of raspberry, orange peel, melon and white flowers, blend of Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Grenache.

7. 2016 Purato Nero D’Avola Organic, Italy – soo good and great value!

8. 2015 Era, Bianco Toscana IGT, Italy – 70% Trebbiano with skin contact, very unique with cool complexity.

 

Meet Brock Guthrie of Boutique Wines

Out of his portfolio – I narrowed it down to 4 stand outs for me!

1. 2018 Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco, Portugal – so smooth and refreshing, yes!

2. 2016 Voyager Estates Estate Chardonnay, Margaret River, Australia  vibrant, citrus driven with hints of nuts and spice.

3. 2015 Giuseppe Cortese Barbera D’Alba Morassina, Italy – bright and delicious, elegant.

4. 2016 Massena The Moonlight Run, Barossa Valley, Australia – “One-third each Grenache, Mataro and Shiraz, the 2016 The Moonlight Run Mataro-Grenache-Shiraz finds a delicious balance between ripe fruit, savory nuance and mouthwatering freshness. Cherry and raspberry fruit leads the way in this medium to full-bodied red, framed by silky tannins and dressed up with delicate notes of rosemary, thyme and rose petals. It should drink well for 4-5 years.” 91 Points – Joe Czerwinski – The Wine Advocate

 

Meet Paul Watkin of The Seacove Group

I chose 2 of his wines that were stand outs for me!

1. Bric Cenciurio, 2017 Roero Arneis DOCG, Italy – smooth and fresh, a great alternative white wine to try!

2. Domaine le Colombier 2014 AOC Vacqueyras Vieilles Vignes Rouge, France – a blend of Grenache 80% and Mourvèdre from 65 year old vines. Aged in concrete. Delicious! The 2015 was just awarded 94 points from Wine Advocate.

 

Meet Elizabeth & Peter Crews of New World Wines

Here are some stand outs for me…

1. 2008 Vollereaux Champagne Cuvee Marguerite Brut, France – Mostly Pinot Noir…. my kind of Champagne – very finessed! “A blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, this is the top wine from Vollereaux. It is dry and crisp, although with ripe fruits in the background. Just becoming mature, this is a wine to hold for another couple of years and drink from 2018.” 91 points Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast

2. 2018 Domaine de L’Amauve Le Rose D’Yvonne, France – A delicious rosé! “Carefully selected Grenache Syrah grapes were processed in the traditional Provencale method to craft a refreshing rosé wine with a pale pinkish hue, a fresh acidity and supple berry flavours. Christian named this cuvée after his maternal grandmother Yvonne who loved to enjoy a good rosé.”

3. 2017 Basel Cellars Chenin Blanc, Washington – such a great crisp alternative to a Sauv Blanc and it’s from Washington!

4. 2014 Reininger Merlot, Washington – incredibly smooth, a beautiful find from Washington.

5. 2015 Basel Cellars Claret, Washington – beautiful balance to this wine, and a not so common grape!

6. 2017 Domaine Juliette Avril Cote Du Rhone, France – a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre (GSM) – LOVE!

7. 2013 Vistaflores Vinedos Altamira Valley Malbec, Argentina – delicious,  a must get for bbq’s!

 

Until next time, here are 4 BC companies bringing in some fantastic wines for all of us to enjoy!

Keep exploring wines from around the world. Cheers!

Abruzzo Comes Alive!

When you think of Italy, what places come to mind first? Rome, Venice, Pisa, Pompeii perhaps? But probably not Abruzzo. And that’s okay, because I’m here to tell you to start remembering this region just east of Rome. In the wine world, it is most commonly known for the Montepulciano red grape, which you will see as: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo on the label. And the easiest way to pronounce it is…. Mon-tay-pool-chee-ano ! Got it? Good! This red wine is an easy drinking red wine, and not usually expensive. But this is not the only wine that comes from this region.

 

Let me share with you some beautiful wines I was able to enjoy at a winery dinner during the Vancouver International Wine Festival at the end of February. And note – the largest consumer wine festival in North America!

I was invited to attend the Jasci & Marchesani Winery Dinner at Homer St. Cafe and Bar. 5 courses that paired wonderfully with 7 wines from this organic winery in Abruzzo!

Jasci & Marchesani was the 1st organic winery to be certified in Italy back in 1978!! So it makes sense why it’s the most recognized winery in Abruzzo. It’s location between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennine Mountains, offers a perfect home for their vineyards.

“Wine. One of the oldest things created by man, that we are still enjoying today.”

Curious? I hope so! Here are the courses and the wine pairings to go with each one. Enjoy!

FIRST COURSE

First Course: Chicken liver mousse, morello cherry gelée, pickled mustard seeds, black pepper crostini & Marinated beetroot, labneh, pistachio, radicchio

Wine Pairing: Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC Rose 2017

Notes: First of all, this Rose was my favourite find at the Wine Festival last year! It’s made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo red grapes, and kept on the skins for 6-7 hours to get that pink color, then it sits in stainless steel for 6 months before being bottled. It paired so nicely with the earthy notes and nuts of the beetroot dish – that one just did it for me. Where as the chicken liver mousse was a nice dish on its own, and with the Rose it just balanced the experience. This wine is soft, yet juicy with complexity – not often found in a rose!

SCALLOPS

Second Course: Scallop crudo, extra virgin olive oil, crispy wild rice & Cropthrone Farms radish salad, buttermilk and black pepper dressing

Wine Pairing: Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC 2018 & Pecorino Abruzzo Superiore DOC 2017

Notes: Whoa, Whoa, Whoa! Probably my favourite course! The Pecorino was finesse in a bottle, the acid matched the delicate scallop dish so well… eating as slowly as possible to experience this pairing over and over again was my mission. The buttermilk in the radish salad was perfect for the fresh, crisp and light Trebbiano. If only we had more Trebbianos in our market like this one. We would all be drinking it way more often. It’s so approachable and easy to pair with food yet offered just enough complexity.

HAPPY RABBIT

GNOCCHI

Third Course: White wine braised rabbit legs, dijon mustard, cipollini onions & Wild mushroom gnocchi, Grana Padano

Wine Pairing: Rudhir Chardonnay Histonium IGT 2017

Notes: This was a treat for sure. One wine we do not have in our market was brought in by the Italian Embassy specially for this dinner. The cork is made from recycled cane sugar and corn. And this Chardonnay was aged 18 mos. in Acacia wood which offers vanilla, sweet honeysuckle, and a dusty sweet dried flower note. Very unique from the kind of wood we are used to. The “happy rabbit” was mild, simple, lean and meaty which paired well with the floral notes of the Chardonnay. And the earth and nutty notes of the gnocchi paired well with the sweet floral notes of the wine. This was a wonderful experience for my palate!

 

DUCK

SALAD

Fourth Course: Roasted Yarrow Meadows duck breast Blue Hubbard squash puree, madeira jus & Braised radicchio, orange segments, toasted walnuts

Wine Pairing: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2018 & Nerubè Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2016

Notes: The gamey notes of the duck breast paired really well with both wines, the duck breast was served med. rare and was very tender (according to the table) – but unfortunately this girl had a hard time enjoying duck medium rare! But don’t worry I made up for it by tuning in to the wines! It was a challenge to see who preferred which wine at the table. I would say the 2016 wine with a deeper, smoother mouthfeel was the table favourite. However, I really enjoyed the younger 2018 with notes of dirty berries, meaty, earthy, chocolate, raspberries with a bright acidity and only sees 6 months in oak. Regardless, the Nerubè is from older vines and smaller production and it was a real treat to be able to pair both with our meal.

 

ALAIN CANUEL, GM, HOMER ST CAFE & BAR

Fifth Course: Blue d’Auvergne, apricot and fennel mustard, lavash & Chocolate and almond financier

Wine Pairing: Janù Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2016

Notes: Well, you know you are in for something special when this wine label has been given 99 points out of 100! My favourite pairing of the two was the Chocolate and almond with this tannic, hot beauty. But both pairings were a great match.

After this meal, I had to walk back to my hotel. I was stuffed. I had shared the evening with a wine writer colleague – Julie Pegg and the Italian Deputy Consul General and his partner. I left in a state of, bliss. I consider a state of “bliss” to be when good people come together, have good conversation, share good food, and good wine with a lovely ambiance. This was that.

I hope you will seek out Abruzzo wines, from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo to Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and everything in between. Better yet, ask your favourite liquor store to order Jasci & Marchesani in for you, you will not regret it!!!

Until next time, keep exploring wine from around the world. Cheers!