Special Features

The Wine of South Africa at SOIF Wine Bar

by Vic Harradine

South Africa FlagWinecurrent recently attended a tasting of South African wines at SOIF wine bar and eatery in Gatineau, Québec. The tasting of 12 wines was led by Will Predhomme, the 2010 Best Sommelier in Ontario Award winner and current candidate for Master Sommelier, with able assistance from a group of South African winemakers and winery principals. There were prominent Sommeliers from the National Capital Region in attendance at the event arranged by Wines of South Africa.

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Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh & Muskoka Lakes Winery


Fruit Wine Quality Standard

by Susan Desjardins

The weekend of September 20, 2014 found the Muskokas drowned in over 100mm of rain—beaver dams gave way, golf courses flooded and water, water everywhere. What to do when your tee times go, literally, down the drain? Head for the small hamlet of Bala and find your way to Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh, home of Muskoka Lakes Winery.

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Special Edition Newsletter for Beaujolais Nouveau: November 20, 2014

by Vic Harradine

Beaujolais Nouveau

Millions of bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau will be put on sale November 20 at 12:01 am local time all over the world. The LCBO will release nine brands at store opening Thursday, November 20. Six are Beaujolais Nouveau from France along with three similar-styled wines, two from Italy and one from Ontario. Eight made their way to Ottawa and they’re reviewed far below—the Mommessin Beaujolais Nouveau went missing for the tasting, but should be in stores for the release. Here’s a brief refresher on Beaujolais Nouveau to get you back up to speed.

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Okanagan Wine Industry Matures – Sub-Appellation Proposed

by Susan Desjardins

Sandra Oldfield, CEO of Tinhorn Creek, and Sara Triggs, Director, Marketing for Culmina, recently hosted a webinar to discuss the status of their application for a new sub-appellation in the South Okanagan, that of the Golden Mile Bench, which would encompass some 1600 acres. This would be the first sub-appellation created in B.C. and, to quote Sandra, points to the maturing, like a good wine, of the wine industry in the province. 

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Beautiful South Africa—The Wines and Wine Country!

by Susan Desjardins

Wines of South AfricaI recently had the opportunity to visit Cape Town, South Africa, and the nearby wine regions of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl. This area of the country is dramatically beautiful with a unique natural landscape of fynbos—a category of flora that is one of the smallest in the world yet one of the richest and most diverse in species. One also experiences rugged soaring mountains and the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, all under a brilliant blue sky. The wine regions are inland, where one views rugged mountains reminiscent of the Okanagan Valley. They guard the verdant valleys showcasing fruit and olive trees along with well-tended vineyards managed by artisan winemakers, large local producers and well-known multi-national corporations. The wineries are often accompanied by fabulous restaurants where artistically prepared dishes, crafted to optimally present local produce, are paired with wines of the region.

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Benjamin Bridge Winery

by Vic Harradine

Gerry McConnell and the late Dara Gordon, were owners of Benjamin Bridge Winery in 2000 and contracted two premier wine consultants—*Peter Gamble and Ann Sperling, to assess and make winemaking recommendations for their nascent 60-acre property adjacent to the Gaspereau River in Nova Scotia.

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Robert Mondavi Tasting – June 6, 2013

by Susan Desjardins

As a part of its centenary celebration, and recognizing the life and work of its founder, the Robert Mondavi Winery hosted a luncheon and tasting at the Fairmont Château Laurier in Ottawa. The tasting was led by Mark de Vere, Director and Master of Wine, who moved to Napa Valley from the U.K. shortly after completing his WSET and Master of Wine certification. Chef Louis Simard of the Château offered an innovative, intricate series of dishes featuring local produce expertly paired with each wine.

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Free my Grapes – The Ontario Sequel . . .

by Susan Desjardins

Free My Grapes!In June 2012, Bill C-311, presented by Dan Albas, MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla, received royal assent just before the House of Commons rose for the summer. Why do we care?  Laws governing the transport and sale of alcohol across provincial boundaries dated back to 1928 and the Prohibition Era. Until the passage of Bill C-311 by unanimous vote of the House, it was a criminal offence to take or ship wine across provincial boundaries. Talk to European winemakers about this and they just shake their heads – “How can this be? You are one country, are you not! In Europe there is no issue shipping wine across national boundaries. We don’t understand why there is an issue in Canada!”

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Wrapping up a Ten-Week South Africa wine experience

by Vic Harradine

South Africa FlagWhile one might easily slide in and out of a three-day wine competition or a week-long wine junket without soaking up the big picture of a region’s or a country’s wine scene, a ten-week, wine-focused visit to one particular country or region offers a broad, in-depth, introspective experience. For a variety of reasons, not many wine writers or critics attempt it—ten weeks away from home is inconvenient, often not possible, and extremely expensive. Aside from innate curiosity and a desire to expand my wine experiences and knowledge, the overwhelming allure was to escape the freezing depths of a Canadian winter traveling to South Africa during the toasty-warm heights of their reversal-of-seasons summer—full disclosure.

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South Africa Feature VI —Is it time to rethink Pinotage?

by Vic Harradine

South Africa FlagThe case for a resurgent Pinotage, South Africa’s native grape, is becoming quite compelling. There’s serious movement afoot to produce structured, complex Pinotage by some of the best producers and most-respected wine personalities in South Africa. They wish to showcase the quality and value this uniquely South African grape can deliver. Pinotage a cross between two Vitis vinifera varieties—Pinot Noir and Cinsault—so not a hybrid. Cinsault was also known in South Africa as Hermitage, hence the name Pinotage. And yes, ‘Herminoir’ was considered. It was crossed by U of Stellenbosch’s first Professor of Viticulture, Dr. Abraham Izak Perold, in 1925.

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