Sonoma County is a magical place that you simply must visit.
With its eternal sunshine, booming culinary and drinks scene, and majestic natural landscapes, it is no wonder why California draws many of us in. The West coast has a vibe of its own, with a bit less structure, more vitamin D, abundant creativity and an undeniable ease of life. I have been told that once you go to California it is in your heart forever – and it certainly resonates with me.
Carmenère is vying to be a superstar varietal for Chile! However, when people think of Chilean wines, a big association is still made with Cabernet Sauvignon. And righteously so, as Cabernet now accounts for nearly a half of all the black varieties planted in Chile. Cab is used foremost in entry level red blends, and increasingly in top-notch single varietal wines. But Carmenère is special – a Bordeaux variety that was abandoned after phylloxera, it is hard to believe that this burgeoning grape varietal was originally said to be planted by accident when in the nineteenth century, some Carmenère vine cuttings were mistaken as Merlot and planted anyways. It was left that way until 1994 when these vines were finally identified as indeed, Carmenère. And they had been flourishing next to their Merlot counterparts. It was then that Carmenère vines became intentionally planted and grown commercially, however, officially, Merlot is still more widely planted than Carmenère.
Carmenère is still begging for Chile to adopt it wholeheartedly. Many people don’t have a love affair with this wine like they do with its neighbour, the ever sexy Malbec from Mendoza. Here at iYellow, we say that Malbec is ‘Malbec-a-licious’… But from time to time, we also like to ‘Throw Our Hands In The Air For Carmenère’ (wut wut )
Last month the Angels welcomed Caliterra Winery into the #WineCave and we were so happy to see a rich and robust Carménère from the Caliterra Tributo Series that was EXACTLY how Carménère from Chile should be – chalk full of ripe dark fruits and with some rich spicy notes that kept us begging for that second glass!
Many people don’t know that Caliterra Winery was founded 20 years ago as a joint venture with Robert Mondavi. They make wine mainly in the gorgeous Colchagua Valley which is 3 hours south of Santiago. As with the beautiful climate that surrounds them, they enjoy a fabulous growing season for Carménère!
Carménère is a late ripening varietal that benefits greatly from these warm sunny growing sites. If all of Chile embraces and harnesses the power of Carménère, it can continue to lend itself to a unique selling point in the market. In a wine market where ‘value for money’ wines dominate, single varietal wines of character can rise above.
Brand Ambassador Anna Norris, introduced us to the Caliterra two-tier portfolio, and it didn’t disappoint. With a Sauvignon Blanc ($10.95) and a Cabernet Sauvignon ($10.95) in the reserve series, these entry-level wines are performing well at the value price point.
Look for Caliterra wines in the Chile section and the Tributo Series in the VINTAGES section of your favourite LCBO store!
Jessica Wallace is the bright, young and witty winemaker behind FRESH Wines from Diamond Estates in Niagara. We had the chance to interview her recently and she gave us the scoop on everything FRESH. From her start with Zin to her favourite Gin, we wanted her perspective and she answered some of our questions below.
- What is your favourite thing about making wine in Ontario? The challenges of the growing season – with every season, comes a new challenge whether it be hot, dry, cold, wet, we need to be reactive to the weather.
- What was the very first wine you ever drank? Strawberry zinfandel at age 19. Yesterday I drank Lakeview Syrah
- Is there another female winemaker that inspires you? Not another female winemaker per se but there are a number of females I find inspiring for different reasons.
- What is your favourite food & wine pairing? Something hot & spicy (thai food) with FRESH Opportunites Riesling-Gewürztraminer is just amazing!
- Do you own a piece of clothing that is wine coloured? I own many pieces of clothing that are covered in Wine – you pick the varietal and I’ve got the shade.
- If you could be a winemaker anywhere else in the world, where would you want to be? New Zealand because I’m intrigued by their styles and similarities between Niagara being a cool climate region. Like Ontario and I’d fit in well in the kiwi culture but my heart is in Niagara.
- If you were talking to someone who didn’t know anything about Ontario wine, what would be the key thing you would want to tell them? And why? We may be new and relatively small on a world
scale but we can certainly hold our own. It’s time for the world to start to recognize Ontario as a key cool climate region (not just for Icewine)
- What is your favourite FRESH Wine that you’ve made? FRESH Beginnings Moscato – the new 2016 vintage just finished fermenting and has a vibrant bouquet of lively tropical and floral notes.
- Which FRESH story speaks to you personally, and why? I have a couple of faves but Perspectives is the story I can relate to the most, primarily because I like to keep an open mind and enjoy new perspectives.
- When you’re not making, or drinking wine, where are you and what’s in your glass? It’s Gin! Dillon’s Strawberry Gin – see how I’ve progressed from strawberry zinfandel to gin! haha