Monday, November 24, 2014

Favourite and notable wines from Gourmet Food & Wine Expo

I drank more wine than ever before at this year's Gourmet Food & Wine Expo, held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from Nov. 20 to 23. My focus was on white, rose, sparkling and fruit wines, and here are the glasses that stood out from the dozens I sampled.

Red Tractor Riesling, a Niagara wine which presents crisp apple aromas and flavours with a bit of citrus and provides a bit of sweetness in the finish, is available through Sideroad Twenty Cellars.

Mike Weir Wine Sauvignon Blanc VQA is a very pale-coloured, subtle wine from Beamsville, Ont. that has some tropical fruit elements. It's better than his golf game has been (outside of one tournament) over the past few years.

Brumont Gros Manseng Sauvignon is an aromatic and flavourful French wine that includes the Gros Manseng grape that I wasn't familiar with before. It's quite pale and the blend combines dryness with a rich fruitiness. At $12.95, it's a very good value and was one of best discoveries of the show.

Santa Rita Reserva Chardonnay is an unoaked Chardonnay made about 15 kilometres from the Chilean coast. It has a rich, complex bouquet, a full-bodied flavour and sells for $13.95.

Cornerstone Estate Winery 2013 Strawberry Festival is a beautifully sweet dessert wine bursting with strawberry flavours. It's a four on the sweetness scale and has an alcohol content of 12 per cent.

The Dreaming Tree is a Californian Chardonnay created as a collaboration between winemaker Steve Reeder and musician Dave Matthews. Just like Matthews' music, there's little distinctiveness to it and I don't need to sample it again.

Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014 is an excellent, rich, full-bodied New Zealand wine with a tropical aspect and very pleasing finish. It's available from the LCBO for $14.95.

Oyster Bay Rose Cuvee is a New Zealand sparkling rose made with 80 per cent Pinot Noir and 20 per cent Chardonnay grapes that wouldn't be a bad choice for December holiday celebrations.

Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi White Zinfandel 2013 is a subtly sweet Californian wine that nicely blends crispness with fruitiness. It's quite nice and its 9.5 per cent alcohol content is light for those occasions when you want a wine but don't desire much of a buzz from it.

I was told that Mayor de Castilla Verdejo 2013 is the top-selling Spanish white wine and, at $10.95, it comes in at a nice price point. It's made with 100 per cent Verdejo grapes and is a bright, easy-drinking wine with a rich bouquet and bold flavour.

Codorniu Selección Raventos Brut Rose is a pink Spanish sparkling wine with persistent bubbles and a rich, fruity bouquet of berries and flowers. It finishes dry.

Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc was another favourite New Zealand wine. It's quite fruit-forward with a rich bouquet of grapefruit, flavours including pineapple and stonefruit, and a nice, lingering finish.

Muskoka Lakes Cranberry Blueberry Wine 2013 is a rich, dark red, 10-per cent alcohol blend that's relatively sweet, but with some tartness. I preferred it to the Muskoka Lakes Cranberry Wine 2013, which was more tart and essentially tastes like a 9.5-per cent alcohol cranberry juice.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2012 is a California central coast wine with complex floral aromas, rich, concentrated flavour and an easy finish.

I've always wanted to visit Pelee Island and after enjoying six wines at the Pelee Island Winery booth, that notion of spending a day or two at Canada's southernmost community has been reinforced. I started with its sweetest wine, Island Time Semi Sweet Riesling Vidal, made with a 90 per cent Riesling/10 per cent Vidal blend, which had notes of apple and apricot and an easy finish. The 12.5-per cent alcohol Sauvignon Blanc is mellow and medium-bodied. I'd certainly have the pale, straw-coloured Gewurztraminer Riesling 2013 again, especially with spicy food. The Pinot Grigio has a slight bronze hue and a hint of peach in the aroma that delivers a nice fruitiness. The Eco Trail Chardonnay Auxerrois 2012 has a floral bouquet with a crisp and clean finish. The bubbly Secco has green apple and pear flavour elements that I wouldn't mind celebrating with come Dec. 31.

J.P. Chenet Chardonnay du Monde 2013 provides a hint of vanilla in the aroma and a slight nuttiness in the flavour. The French winery also produces an interesting Ice Edition which isn't an ice wine but is meant to be served over ice. It's bubbly and pale yellow with a tropical citrus fruit nose and a taste that's creamy and smooth on the palate.

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