Bill’s Best Bets – February 2018

Valentine’s Love Juice
by Bill Zacharkiw

Bill ZacharkiwWhile it’s easy to discount Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark Holiday, I look at it as an opportunity to have some fun. I don’t go to restaurants. Instead I cook up something good for my girlfriend. Follow that up with a good horror flick cuddled up on the couch – nothing brings people together like terror – and you have a recipe for a solid night of love.

Since I am not going to a restaurant, I can spend a little more on wine. So what kind of wines am I looking for to create that mood? Here’s a list of wines that will put a little extra sensuality in your evening.

Bubbles. Most people associate Champagne with celebration. So why not celebrate love? While any good bubbles will do the trick, rosé is even more sexy. The 2008 Veuve Cliquot tops my list of exceptional pink Champagne with its nuanced aromatics and sensual texture. But at just over $100, it will cost you. For a less expensive Champagne, try the Lanson Rosé, my favourite “inexpensive” pink. And if you want a very good pink sparkling wine option, look to Cava and the Vida al Campa Brut or Northern Italy’s Ferrari Rosé. Both are delicate and nuanced as any good pink should be.

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage Brut Rosé Champagne 2008Lanson Brut RoséLa Vida Al Camp Cava Brut Rosé 2014Ferrari Rosé

I like cooking up seafood so white wines are always in order. While lean and mineral whites are great, they don’t quite fit the mood. I want flavour, aromatics and that mouth coating texture. One great  place to look for wines like this is Southern France. My bargain wine is the 2016 Pacherenc du Vic Bihl  from the Caves de Crouseilles. Great fruit and so interesting for under $17.

Cave De Crouseilles Pacherenc Du Vic Bilh Au Capceu 2016Domaine Aupilhac Les Cocalières 2016Château Mont Redon Lirac Blanc 2016

Another favourite is from the Languedoc and Domaine Auphiulac’s Cocalieres. A blend of roussanne, vermentino, grenache blanc and marsanne, this is pure joy to have in your mouth. Cooking scallops? This is your wine. On a similar vein, the Lirac from Mont Redon will offer up the same richness and spice. If you are daring enough to offer up a steak tartare as your meal – raw meat definitely will set the tone – then this is an exceptional pairing.

But many of you are looking for reds. Forget the “over the top” powerful cabs. You need fruit and a red that is like silk in your mouth. Great Cru Beaujolais will do this to perfection. I loved the 2014 Vieilles Vignes from Georges Descombes, and paired with a mushroom risotto with cheddar it is even better. And while the Saint Amour appellation might seem kitschy, the 2015 from Mommessin is a gorgeous and sensual red that has enough torque to handle meat while not losing that gorgeous fruit.

Georges Descombes Morgon Vieilles Vignes 2014Mommessin Grandes Mises Saint Amour 2015Domaine De Beaurenard Châteauneuf Du Pape 2013

If you want a wine that is a little more powerful, look for a grenache based wine. The “pinot of the south,” grenache when done well is fleshy and satiny. I love a great Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Beaurenard is one of my favourite producers. The 2013 is so floral, so fruity and with the classic stony finish that makes the region’s grenache so intriguing. Put this in a carafe a few hours before serving.

But you can find less expensive grenache that is great, albeit less complex. From South Africa’s Swartland, the 2016 Leeuwenkuil offers up a palate of red, slightly cooked red fruits that coat the mouth and offer up a long, lengthy finish. Equally interesting is the 2016 Old Vines from Yalumba and at under $19, a bargain as well.

Leeuwenkuil Grenache Noir 2016Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache 2016

So there you go. It’s Valentine’s Day folks, make that extra effort for your partner, and that can start with your choice of wine!



“There’s enjoyment to be had of a glass of wine without making it a fetish.” – Frank Prial

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