It appears to be very difficult to write blog posts while on the family vacation, despite all the desire to do so. Therefore, here is a quick report from Canada – all in pictures. I can tell you that so far I had being very happy with food, including restaurants in Niagara Falls (which was not expected considering that this is very popular tourist destination). I was also blown away by the quality of Canadian wine. Before the trip, I honestly thought that outside of the Icewine, Canadian wine would be on the level of Finger Lakes wines in NY, where whites can be drinkable, but reds are simply mediocre. Boy, was I wrong! We visited three wineries, and didn’t have a single bad wine! Well, this will be a subject of a separate blog post, so for now, here is quick report in pictures (warning – don’t look while hungry).
Nachos at Spicy Olive restaurant, Niagara Falls:
Beef Baron restaurant, Niagara Falls:
French Onion Soup:
Inniskillin (from whites to reds to Icewines – outstanding, will discuss later):
Inniskillin Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah and Cabernet Franc – WOW:
Inniskillin for those who can’t even drink wine:
Cattail Creek Winery, very interesting whites and reds:
Catastrophe series (note that labels depict real cats):
Chateau des Charmes – you should see that building:
Back to the restaurants:
Cora’s (Niagara Falls) – Breakfast done right!
Crepes Egg and Cheese Panini:
Crepe with Raspberries and cream cheese:
Will definitely talk more about wines in the future posts. If you are interested in reading more about restaurants, you can take a look at my page on Yelp (click here). Until the next time – cheers!
This heat is literally paralyzing…
Is there anything to drink besides water?
Here is one possible answer:
So, what do you drink?
As you probably know, scotch is my second favorite drink, right after the wine. When it comes to scotch, I pretty much like all of them, with slight bias towards the smoky style. One of the most unique smoky whiskies is Talisker (one of my favorites), which has a very unique, almost medicinal nose full of smoke, in addition to lots of smoke on the palate (it is different from traditional Islay whiskies which have very expressed smokiness on the palate, but not as much on the nose).
When my friend Zak said “you have to try this” and pointed to the bottle of Whiskey, I couldn’t believe it – single malt whisky … from Oregon? What is happening? Well, tasting is believing (seeing is not enough) – and when I tried this McCarthy’s Single Malt Whiskey I was literally blown away. While this whiskey is compared to Lagavulin (probably the most classic Islay scotch) on the producer’s web site, my first impression was Talisker. I’m quite convinced that in a blind tasting I would confuse this whiskey for Talisker, both from the smell and the taste ( this probably shows my weak side, but I will live with it). On the nose, this whiskey exhibited the same medicinal smoky flavor, with lots of smoke following on the palate, with expressed minerality and perfect balancing acidity – this scotch was literally refreshing, if scotch can be considered a refreshing drink. At $49.99 at Cost less Wines and Liquors, I think it is a great deal – if you like smoky peaty scotch, don’t miss it.
And then as I was leaving the store, I spotted this bottle of 1979 Glenrothes…
‘Nuf said… Until the next time – cheers!
Among many good wines of recent (yeah, I’m really behind in my writing) there were few of new grape encounters which I want to share with you. First is 2004 Ambasciatore Friularo Bagnoli DOC, made out of the grape called Friularo. I have to tell you that I actually have one problem with this wine – it is not available in US (if you know otherwise – please let me know), and I brought only one bottle from Switzerland (it is an Italian wine which I got in a supermarket in Geneva). This wine was beautiful, layered and powerful, very balanced, with great amount of dark red fruit, all complemented by great acidity and good tannins. This wine would age perfectly, so quick expedition to Geneva or any other place where this wine can be found, sounds like a good idea.
Next three wines were also very good – and they are all available in US, plus all three would be perfect for the summer day, so you can also expand your wine horizon and have good wines at the same time. Starting with the white, 2009 Petite Burja Vipavska Dolina from Slovenia was very nice and unusual – good acidity and sweet herbs on the palate. This wine didn’t have any pronounced sweet fruit notes, but instead it had well defined sweet herbs, may be cucumber-sweet. Very easy to drink. I have to note that this wine also sports one of the most unusual labels I ever saw – it seems that the winemaker had a problem with the getting the modern printer, and had to use a very old one, incapable of producing any graphics (or may be wine maker also used to be a computer engineer, who knows…).
Moving from White to Rose, the next wine is 2010 Contini Nieddera della Valle del Turso IGT – nice and light, with medium body, good refreshing acidity, showing notes of cranberry – very good wine for a hot summer day. Nieddera actually is a local grape which was used for production of this wine.
Last but not least is 2006 Jean Bourdy Cotes du Jura Rouge, which is made out of three gapes – Poulsard, Trousseau and Pinot Noir (Trousseau is a new grape). This is a bio-dynamic wine, and it is very unusual in its flavor profile – but it is light enough to be enjoyed during summer (as soon as you will train your palate a bit on bio-dynamic wines – I will explain myself in one of the future posts very soon).
Four new grapes, four very interesting wines – very happy with this journey so far. Try to find them and experience for yourself – I’m sure you will not regret. Cheers!
Of course the topic of wine glasses and their effect on wine’s perceived quality (which includes smell, taste and overall pleasure) is a very popular subject among wine lovers (professionals are also not immune to such discussions). I have no intention to claim any original or unique thoughts on the subject – instead, I want to merely report on my own personal experiment.
We started with 6 different glasses and a bottle of wine. For this experiment, I wanted to use a wine with classic flavor profile, nothing too obscure – seems that Cabernet Sauvignon would ideally fit the bill. I can tell you now that I was moderately happy with the choice of wine. While I like Cosentino wines, this 2005 Cosentino Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was more fruit forward than I appreciate, but still it was not a very bad choice.
The glasses included: Riedel Cabernet Sauvignon Glass, Riedel Universal tasting (also can be called “restaurant special”, 489 0 in Riedel nomenclature) glass (holds 20 oz), a wide open, almost “square” glass (don’t know if it has a special name), small (8 oz) universal tasting glass, plastic cup and small paper cup.
Riedel Cabernet Glass:
Nose: big concentration, noticeable alcohol, smell of a wet dog (must be something wrong with me)
Palate: lots of fruit, black currant, still quite sharp
Riedel Universal (489 0):
Nose: good concentration of the fruit, alcohol is less noticeable
Palate: very good fruit, round taste
Nose: some fruit are a bit more open (black currant), overall less alcohol, less fruit concentration.
Palate: taste is ok, a bit less of everything
Small universal tasting glass (8 oz):
Nose: almost like previous one, noticeable fruit
Palate: the softest of all! Nice round fruit
Nose: literally nothing
Palate: ok, similar to the one above
Let’s try to come up with some conclusions now. I think two universal tasting glasses fared the best – size difference didn’t matter. Of course bigger glass was more convenient to use, but outside of aesthetics of wine appearance in a bigger glass, they delivered literally the same flavor and taste. We can also safely say that paper cups shouldn’t be used if you are drinking wine to enjoy it (that was a definite looser). Plastic cup can be used, but you will lose the pleasure of the smell, so if you can avoid it, then avoid it. “Square” glass was okay, but again you will be losing on the aroma details. Lastly, Riedel Cabernet glass still requires more experiments. It was definitely not the best glass in this tasting, but I believe that it might enhance the taste of some particular Cabernet wine, most likely less alcohol, old-world style wine, where it will actually be able to enhance subtle aromas and flavors.
For now, don’t drink your wine from the paper cups, and save the money by avoiding those super-expensive “specialty” glasses, and you will do quite well. And if you have an opinion (different one? even better!) – leave a comment, and let’s have a debate. Cheers!