Sara’s Sommelier Selections – Nov 23, 2013

Living Local over the Holidays

Sara d'Amato

Sara d’Amato

As a Sommelier and wine critic, travel is part and parcel of our life. And as the holidays approach, travel is on the agenda for many of you as well. When I travel, I always bring with a bottle of something local for my host. And with all due respect to the maple syrup industry, that particular iconic Canadian product is now available almost across the globe. Something truly unique and often unavailable across the globe, however, is a piece of local terroir – a snapshot of a particular and specific time and place which evolves uniquely over time. If you’re travelling near or far over the holidays, why not bring a piece of your home to another’s? Certainly a one-of-a-kind gift!

If the price point seems a bit higher on these recommended wines, there is good reason. This week’s release is a massive collection of high-end wines from many exceptional producers making up the “Our Finest” feature. As we approach the holiday season, consumers tend to spend a little more on wines as the occasions to entertain friends and family increase significantly. Secondly, wines at this price point are often game changers for those skeptics of local products. If entertaining at home, try pouring these wines into a decanter and serving them ‘blind’ – you are certain to surprise and impress (and what better way to make for a memorable evening). As you may have heard many times, what we do best in Canada is small, scale, high quality wine production – these should be a point of reference.

Tinhorn Creek Gewürztraminer 2012 ($24.95)
BC VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, sustainably-minded producer Tinhorn Creek has grown from humble beginnings to a 150 acre estate. Produced from relatively old gewürztraminer vines, this wine reminds me of a French woman (and pardon the generalization) who appears so effortlessly put-together. Similarly, this wine flows so seamlessly and achieves such elegant balance that it can be easy to overlook the complex layers and care that went into achieving such a result.  Highly recommended!

Food pairing: Holiday cheese platter

Tinhorn Creek Gewürztraminer 2012

Stratus White 2010 ($44.20)
Niagara On The Lake, Ontario

An iconic Niagara blend, made up mostly of semillon and sauvignon blanc with a touch of chardonnay and the aromatic viognier. Serious but also intriguing, there is no denying its deserved wide appeal. As Canada’s reputation is unfortunately taking a hit in the media, it’s time to put the focus back on what we do extraordinarily.

Food Pairing: Fried risotto balls (arancini di riso)

Stratus White 2010

Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir 2011 ($32.95)
Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

A bombshell of a pinot noir – a descriptor that doesn’t often go hand in hand with such a terrific example of this varietal but this muscular pinot noir is show-stoppingly complex and quite riveting. Decant before serving as it is quite tightly wound.

Food Pairing: Pork chops stuffed with cherry and walnuts

Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir 2011

Stratus Red 2010 ($44.20)
Niagara On The Lake, Ontario, Canada

Such a terrific vintage for Niagara and for Stratus – the 2010 is possible the most impressive blend yet for this iconic winery. Although this is a second recommendation from the same winery, the dynamic duo in this release is too difficult to choose between. My colleagues, apparently, feel the same way.

Food Pairing: Beef Wellington

Stratus Red 2010

Palatine Hills Neufeld Vineyard Meritage 2010 ($29.95)
Niagara Lakeshore, Ontario, Canada

Neufeld vineyard continues to produce some spellbinding reds. This historic sloping, vineyard site, owned and maintained by the Neufeld’s themselves who have long been grape growers in the region is brought to life by winemaker Jeff Innes who has crafted a truly impressive blend from an exceptional year. All the pieces are in place to make this wine quite special.

Food pairing: Osso Bucco or Szechuan Beef

Palatine Hills Neufeld Vineyard Meritage 2010


Sara d’Amato

From the Nov 23, 2013 Vintages release:

Sara’s Sommelier Selections
All Reviews

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