Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pillitteri Estates Pic'd White

At a recent Wine Align blogger event, we were discussing the influence that wine labels have on purchases. I confessed that I’d chosen a wine based on its label on more than one occasion. Sometimes, this is a fun way to try something different and I’ve been pleasantly surprised a time or two that the creativity spread from label to bottle. Other times, well, that cute kitten cartoon didn’t really translate into a great wine experience.
Maybe that's one of the reasons I was intrigued when I heard about Pillitteri Estate's new Pic'd White. The wine, a blend of Riesling (70%) and Gewurztraminer (30%), is a refreshing summer sipper. The nose shows nice minerality along with green apple, tropical fruit, grass, and citrus. The tropical fruit notes translate onto the palate, for a fruity finish.

But Pic'd has an even more interesting story, as each label features a photo or image 'pic'd' by the winery. Like Jones Soda, Pillitteri is inviting fans of their wines to send in photos to be featured right on the wine label. The photos are collected from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and email submissions and the first release of the wine features over 300 images that were submitted through these channels.

While the winery can't promise that you'll be able to find the bottle of wine featuring your pic, it's certainly fun to think that a photo your submitted is sitting on someone's dinner table right now as they enjoy a glass of Pic'd. Of the samples I received, I was impressed by how beautiful the images were and how inviting. These labels may be crowd-sourced, but they are certainly as eye-catching as the ones designed by a marketing company.

Interested in submitting? Visit Pillitteri's site to read the submission instructions and rules:

Pic'd is available at the LCBO

* I received samples of Pic'd to try, but all opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Adventures in Cooking - Guacamole and Riesling Edition

Avocados are a major staple of my diet – to say that I love them would be an understatement – so when I was asked to try and make an avocado recipe with Mexican avocados, I was happy to give it a shot.

One of the very cool things about doing this blog is that I’ve had the opportunity to try my hand at a whole lot of things I haven’t done before. Cooking has never been my strong suit, but since I started blogging I’ve made my own marshmallows (that one was harder than it looked), fancy walnuts (super easy and super delicious) and now classic guacamole.  

I know, I know, for most people guacamole isn’t something you brag about making, but as a confirmed kitchen-phobe, this was a great option for me. It’s easy enough not to scare me off, but it does take some skill to get the details right. I ended up chopping the onion a little too thick, so that’s a good lesson for the next time. Shawn also determined that for our tastes we should have used a whole lot more jalapenos – we ended up adding some Frank’s Red Hot to spice things up nicely.

This is a nice option for a (somewhat) healthier snack (we halved the recipe since there was only the two of us). An avocado has more potassium than a banana and lots of good cholesterol, not to mention lots of vitamins and minerals, so we enjoyed this as dinner one evening with some whole grain tortilla chips and on another occasion added it to chicken tacos. Definitely still a sometimes food (you might want to cut down the portion even more if you’re watching your calories), but this is a super delicious alternative to processed guacamole.

Oh, and of course, I can’t forget the wine. Spicy food tends to pair well with Riesling or Gewurztraminer, so I thought an Alsace Riesling was a good option. The acid and a hint of sweetness nicely compliment the kick of jalapeno here.

Want to try this recipe yourself? You can check it out here:

And you can find even more avocado information and recipes here:

Some photos from my guacamole adventure:

Yummy Mexican avocados

All the ingredients you need to make this recipe

Mixing it up

Almost ready...

Ready to eat!

The fine print: Mexican Avocados provided me with the recipes and a gift card with which to purchase the needed ingredients to make this recipe. All opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Guest Post - A Bordeaux Travel Guide

I recently did a piece on Prince Edward County for - a U.K. site full of wine travel information. In return, they offered to do a post on one of the areas they had recently visited - Bordeaux! I hope you'll enjoy Diana's piece below about things to see to do in this beautiful wine region. She has also included some info on the wine tour options offered by Winerist, should you be interested. I haven't had the opportunity to try one of these tours, but I'd love to hear from any of you who have in the comments.

A Bordeaux Travel Guide 

By Diana Isac,

Having just returned from Bordeaux, the land of Castles, Crus, and Claret, we can still taste the ripe tannins of the regions’ rich reds and remember vividly the stunning wine estates, the relaxing hotels and perfectly organized tours for you and your loved ones.

Why Bordeaux?
Bordeaux is all about exceptional wines, magnificent Chateaux, perfect day tours, great shopping and some of the friendliest people you will come across. When such great wine is produced on the doorstep, it is virtually impossible to be unhappy.

The magnificent chateaux of Bordeaux
Where to stay?

In the City
Le Boutique Hotel right in the heart of Bordeaux is one of the quaintest hotels you will find in a big city. Located on small side street, it is only 50m away from some of the best Brasseries, shopping streets (Bordeaux is truly one of the best shopping destinations so beware!) and great wine bars. The white bedrooms, luxurious bathrooms and the stunning courtyard sheltered by big trees with its own wine bar and sommelier make this hotel perfect for both a short city break or for a longer stay.

In the Vines
Stay at Pavillion Villemaurine for a peaceful escape amongst Saint Emilion’s vines. This old part of Bordeaux is mesmerising with some of the most beautiful Chateaux – you can walk to Angelus, Ausonne, Petrus and Cheval Blanc. More importantly, you will be able to enjoy the hospitality of the family which owns this small boutique hotel and winery.

By the Dunes
Many of you will not know about the beautiful dunes of Arcachon, a place where the white sand emerges out of the vines onto a most surprising and beautiful white sandy beach. Chateau Leognan, one of our selected places to stay offers comfort and French style, only minutes away from the Dune du Pyla. This B&B has its own chateau and the winemaker will be keen to introduce you to the wines in the beautiful Chateau cellar!

Breakfast room in Chateau Leognan: a chic B&B and winery in Bordeaux

What to do?

Tasting Wines and Chateaux Visits
For magnificent Chateaux visits and lunches at Chateaux, try our Medoc Morning or Perfect Afternoon Wine Tour!

Oysters, Beaches and Boats
Visit the Arcachon Bay on a tour of wine, oysters and boat rides. Bike and beach tours are available which will let you take in the fresh sea air, enjoy boat rides and oysters accompanied by local wines. Sounds perfect to us!

Saint Emilion Indulgence
The famous town of Saint Emilion provides the most incredibly romantic setting for a wine discovery. You can discover this UNESCO classified town, its history, and the chateaux that surround it in an afternoon wine tour or a whole day tour. The full day tours provide an extra boost of tastings, regional delights and history walks. They are both very special experiences!

Views of the historic town of Saint Emilion

We cannot wait to go back to Bordeaux this July, the month when the City becomes a most favourite destination for wine breaks as well as short escapes into the vines and to the beach. If in doubt as to what will make the perfect Bordeaux break, get in touch with our team. We are happy to build the perfect wine escape for you!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Wines of Prince Edward County

Prince Edward County is one of my favourite places – not only is it beautiful, full of incredible artists and brimming with amazing food, there are almost 40 wineries. It’s pretty perfect.

In March, I participated in the #IndulgePEC blogger meet-up and got to experience some of the County’s best wines and then just last week I attended County in the City where I had the chance to sample even more – as always, the winemakers of Prince Edward County did not disappoint.

A few of my top picks from my recent tastings are below. Forgive the newbie tasting notes (I know they're far from perfect at this point), it's safe to say that the ones that made my list were the ones I liked and that I think you might just enjoy too.

From #IndulgePEC

Keint-He 2009 Chardonnay – With vanilla, white peach, honey, green and yellow apple and citrus on the nose, this is a medium-bodied sipper that paired perfectly with my gourmet grilled cheese featuring chevre, Maple walnut praline and sliced green apples from The Agrarian.

Norman Hardie County Chardonnay Unfiltered– A nice oaked Chardonnay, this had great buttery, toasty notes on the nose. Good acid, a lingering finish and a great hit of fresh citrus on the palate.

Karlo Estates 2009 Pinot Noir – I love chatting with Richard Karlo and his partner Sherry Martin, especially since Sherry always has the best wine descriptors. She calls their Pinot, “a cowboy in a glass,” which seemed perfectly appropriate. This has great notes of tar, leather and tomato vines along with lovely spices like cassis. The tannins are soft and the wine is fruit forward with a great mouth-feel. Delicious.

Rosehall Run 2010 Cuvee County Pinot Noir – Stewed fruit, cherry, violets and spice all come alive on the nose of this great barrel-aged Pinot. Nice, chewy tannins, great dark fruit flavours and wonderful heat on the palate make for a fantastic wine.

From County in the City:

Lighthall Vineyards 2012 Progression Sparkling – My pick for white wine of the night (though the competition was steep), this is one of my favourite wines. It’s a great, light sparkler with green apple and a hint of peach and pear on the nose. This is a dry wine that’s perfect for brunch or to kickstart your palate before a meal.

Sandbanks 2012 Rosé – I’m a fan of many of Sandbanks’ wines, but I especially enjoy their rosé and this vintage didn’t disappoint. Sandbanks makes great, crowd-pleasing wines that are perfect for entertaining or relaxing on the patio – I look forward to enjoying more of this one, with it’s hint of ripe strawberry on the palate, over the summer months.

Casa Dea 2010 Cabernet Franc – This wine hadn’t been released when I did the tasting and it was only available in a very limited way (thanks to @whitbywine for the hook-up), but it was hands-down the best wine I tasted all night. While I could wax on about this one for pages, all it really comes down to is one word – yummy. This wine was like an explosion of amazing flavours on my palate and I can’t wait to try it again after its Mother's Day weekend release. This is made in the apassimento style and then barrel aged for two years - it’s very fruit-forward and vibrant, but I expect that with a few more years aging this will open up and be a totally different, equally delightful experience.

For more about my adventures in PEC, be sure to check out my review of the area at Winerist. 

Winerist is a UK-based website that makes wine travel simple – well worth checking out!