Wednesday’s Wow! – Generation Seven Gamay Nouveau 2012

Generation Seven Gamay Nouveau 2012 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake is the Bosc family’s (Chateau des Charmes) take on ‘nouveau’ wine, and I think it’s definitely worth snapping up a few bottles.  After all, the holidays are almost here and this is a fun, celebratory wine to share with friends and family – it would also be a great accompaniment to Xmas turkey!

Nouveau Wine

‘Nouveau’ wine is sold the same year in which it is harvested, which means it finished fermentation only a couple of weeks before it’s bottled and ready for purchase.  It’s amazing to think that only 2 short months ago the Gamay grapes that were used to make this fresh, young wine were still hanging in the vineyard!

The ‘nouveau’ or ‘primeur’  style of wine was made popular in the Beaujolais region of France when Georges Duboeuf challenged other nouveau producers to a race to see who could be the first to get their newly fermented wine to the Paris market.  The race was a huge marketing success and in 1985, the third Thursday of November became the official release date of Beaujolais Nouveau.

Tomorrow, being the third Thursday of November, the Generation Seven Gamay Nouveau 2012 will be released at the LCBO, the winery, and the website, for only $11.95.  The label conveniently sports the wine’s own hashtag, #JeSuisARRIVÉ, so you can share your thoughts with others in the Twitterverse about this yummy wine.

Tasting Notes

This wine is bursting with red fruit aromas and flavours – including strawberry, raspberry, plum, and cherry – along with a hint of fresh herbs.  It’s soft and fruity and very quaffable.  Serve it slightly chilled.  This wine is meant to be enjoyed while it is still young and fresh, so it’s best if it’s consumed within a couple of months.

I suspect this Gamay Nouveau won’t last long at the LCBO, so pick up a few bottles to go with your Xmas turkey.  It would also pair well with salmon and trout, baked ham, hotdogs, pizza, and roasted chicken.

This wine was received as a sample.

Beaujolais Nouveau 2011 has Arrived!

Beaujolais Nouveau 2011 has arrived on the shelves at the LCBO!

What began as a local celebratory drink to mark the end of the harvest, poured out of large jugs, and consumed in copious quantities by vineyard and winery workers, became a huge economic success in the late 1980s and into the 1990s.  Millions of cases are now shipped around the globe each November. Almost half the grapes grown in the Beaujolais region now go into making Beaujolais Nouveau. It’s amazing to think that the grapes were still hanging on the vines a few short weeks before the wine is consumed by millions of people around the world.

But, the nouveau craze has lost some of its luster in recent years, thanks to rising prices, criticism, and the labelling of the wine as ‘lollipop wine’ by some wine experts.  Granted, the quality of some of these wines is questionable and can be reminiscent of nail polish scented bubble gum, but their soft fruitiness does meet a demand.  Many other regions in France, Italy, Spain, even Canada are cashing in on the commercial success of nouveau or primeur wines.  Released on the third Thursday of  November, these very young red wines are meant to be fun, fruity, and frivolous, and not much more…and that’s okay.

Georges Duboeuf – Marketing GeniusGeorges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

Beaujolais Nouveau is the most famous “vin de primeur” in the world. Giant Beaujolais producer, Georges Duboeuf, is largely responsible for the young wine’s rise to fame. He came up with an idea to capitalize on the growing popularity of the wine by challenging other producers of Beaujolais Nouveau to a race to see who could be the first to get their newly fermented wine to the Paris market. By the 1980‘s the race had become somewhat of a huge deal and, in 1985, the third Thursday of November became the official release date of Beaujolais Nouveau.

Carbonic Maceration

The region of Beaujolais is distinguished by the method of fermentation it uses to produce light, fruity, almost candied wines – carbonic maceration. It is essential that the Gamay Noir grapes used for Beaujolais be picked by hand as the grapes must arrive at the winery in whole bunches (machines tend to damage grapes). Beaujolais Nouveau undergoes what is known as semi-carbonic maceration which is faster and enables the wine to be ready for the market much more quickly.

In semi-carbonic maceration the whole bunches are put into a fermentation tank. The weight of the grapes at the top crushes the grapes at the bottom of the tank, allowing them to release their juices. Yeast is then able to do its work by converting the sugar in the juice to alcohol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide saturates the atmosphere in the tank, eliminating any oxygen. The whole grapes in the upper part of the tank then undergo intracellular fermentation. That is, fermentation takes place within the grape berry itself, with no yeast present, and in anaerobic conditions. The grapes own respiration converts the sugar to alcohol, and the resulting wine may take on flavours of pear drop, bubble gum, and candied fruit.

Fermentation for Beaujolais Nouveau can take as little as 4 days, while it usually takes ten days or more for regular Beaujolais wines. Beaujolais Nouveau is then bottled by the beginning of November in order for it to be ready for the market. The more concentrated longer-lived Beaujolais may not be bottled until the following Christmas.

Bottles of Primeur wine at the LCBOThe Taste of Beaujolais Nouveau

Beaujolais Nouveau is made from Gamay and is a light-bodied red wine with a purplish-pink colour. It is fruity in flavour with very soft tannins making it quite quaffable. The aromas and flavours associated with the wine are pear drop, banana, bubblegum, and sweet red berries, such as raspberries and strawberries.

Food Pairings for Beaujolais Nouveau

Beaujolais Nouveau can be served with a wide variety of dishes including, salmon and trout, smoked ham, hotdogs, pizza, and roasted chicken. With the holiday season now upon us, Beaujolais Nouveau is also a great match with turkey and all the trimmings!

Due to the wine’s fruity character and low tannins, it is quite acceptable to serve Beaujolais Nouveau slightly chilled (13-15 degrees Celsius). Many call this wine “summer in a glass.”

Enjoy Beaujolais Nouveau While It’s Still Young

This is not a wine meant for aging. It should be enjoyed at the time of purchase when it still has it’s young fruitiness. Ideally, Beaujolais Nouveau should be consumed within 6 months.

It’s important to remember that Beaujolais Nouveau is an unpretentious wine not to be taken too seriously. It is known by many in the wine industry as “lollipop wine” for its almost candy-like character.

Beaujolais Nouveau Tasting Notes

Only 4 Nouveau wines from the Beaujolais region are offered at the LCBO this year.  I was only able to taste 3 of them.

Georges DuBoeuf Gamay NouveauGeorges DuBoeuf Gamay Nouveau 2011 ($8.95):  A bright purple colour with a fuschia rim.  Sweet, ripe aromas of bubble gum, candied red berries, banana, and herbs, even a slight black pepper.  The palate disappoints a bit with a very short length.

Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2011Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2011 ($14.95):  Pleasant aromas of red cherries, pink cotton candy, sweet raspberries, bananas, and cream soda. Very soft and round on the palate with a medium length. Pleasant.

Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2011 ($14.95):  My favourite of the 3.  A more elegant wine showing aromas of ripe cherries, raspberries, and blueberries, pretty blossoms, and fresh herbs.  Easy-drinking with a soft silkiness and good length.

Wine with Food – Wine for Roasted Turkey

It’s hard to believe that it’s Thanksgiving already!  Yes, Canadian turkey day is just around the corner.  Many of you may already have the menu planned out for a big feast for family and friends – turkey, stuffing, gravy, and all the fixings – but, have you thought about which wine to pair with the food?  Well, fear not…turkey is actually quite wine friendly and there are many wine styles that will pair wonderfully with a roasted turkey dinner.

The rule of serving white wine with turkey is always a safe bet, but don’t turn your back on all red wines – there are some great red wine options for turkey that play the same role as a spoonful or two of cranberry sauce.  But, no matter what colour of wine you choose, it should be relatively high in acid, low in tannin, and lighter in weight, with moderate alcohol, and little to no oak.

Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wine is a great way to start off the evening, instantly putting everyone in a celebratory mood.  However, it should not be forgotten that not only is sparkling wine an excellent way to toast the holiday, but it is also very versatile with food and pairs beautifully with a number of dishes, including turkey, so don’t be afraid to pair it with the main course! Read, “Sensational Sparkling Wine from Ontario,” for more information about Ontario sparkling wine.

Chardonnay

A good Chardonnay (especially cool-climate Chardonnay) is always a crowd pleaser at my house, and who can blame us…full of ripe fruit, creamy vanilla, and cleansing citrus and minerality.  When choosing a Chardonnay for your turkey dinner, look for ones that do not have too much oak.  Ontario produces many fine Chardonnays.  Read my post, “Seriously Cool Canadian Chardonnay”, for more details.

Riesling

Riesling is another great white wine choice for Thanksgiving dinner.  I like the dry and off-dry Rieslings with roasted turkey.  The wine’s zippy acidity cuts through the richness of the meat and gravy and leaves the palate feeling refreshed.  For information on Ontario Rieslings, please read “A Riesling Experience – Part 2 – Riesling in Ontario”.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is one of my all-time favourite grapes because it is so versatile with so many foods.  Its lighter tannins and aromas and flavours of red berries act in the same way a spoonfull of cranberry sauce works, adding a different layer of flavour to the dish.  My favourite Pinot Noirs come from the grape’s ancestral homeland of Burgundy, France, but Ontario, with a similar climate, also produces some great examples.

Gamay

Soft and fruity, Gamay is another great red to serve with Thanksgiving dinner.  The Gamay grape and is naturally light in tannins and body, and is bursting with fresh berry flavours. Beaujolais is made with Gamay and hails from the southern part of Burgundy in France.  Beaujolais labelled with the name of one of ten recognized villages known as Crus Beaujolais, are typically bigger and fuller than regular Beaujolais or Beaujolais-Villages, but are still good partners with roasted turkey.  The Gamay grape is also very successful in Ontario where it makes fuller, spicier versions, with the typical Gamay fruitiness.

Blends

Don’t forget about blends!  The wine you serve with Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be a single varietal wine.  There are many delicious Ontario wines on the market that are blends of two, three, or more grapes varieties.  Stratus Winery is known for its premium blends – Stratus White ($44) would be a good wine for Thanksgiving.  Look for their Wildass ($19.95) label for good value blends.  Other great value blends to try are Flat Rock Cellars Twisted ($17.15) and Seriously Twisted ($23.15) whites and 13th Street White Palette ($14.95).  These wines are not only easy to drink, they are easy on the wallet too.

Leave a comment and let me know if you have any other wine ideas that you think would be a good match for Thanksgiving dinner.

Related Articles:

Ontario VQA Wines and Christmas Dinner

Great Ontario VQA Wines to Serve with Easter Lamb

Great Ontario VQA Wines to Serve with Easter Ham

Chill Out with Cool Red Wines – Beaujolais, Barbera, Pinot Noir, etc.

Next Tuesday officially marks the beginning of summer and you may be wondering what wines to stock up on for your drinking pleasure. Many of you are probably thinking about cool whites, but red wine doesn’t need to be forgotten. Here is a list of light, refreshing red wines that can even be served slightly chilled.  This article was first published on Suite101.com last summer.

When the mercury rises, many of us reach for a chilled beverage such as white wine or a cold beer to quench our thirst, reserving red wines for the cooler months. While a full-bodied, tannic Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, or a high-alcohol Zinfandel or Amarone, may seem soupy and unpleasant in the hot summer sun, there are some reds that can be quite thirst quenching.

When choosing a red wine to enjoy in the summer, look for lighter bodied versions that are low in tannin, higher in acidity, and full of fresh fruit flavours. And don’t be afraid to stick these wines in the ice bucket, as wines with this profile have structures similar to that of white wine, making them suitable candidates for chilling.

Beaujolais

Hailing from the southern part of Burgundy, Beaujolais is the quintessential summer red. Beaujolais is made with the Gamay grape and is naturally light in tannins and body, and a method of production, called carbonic maceration, helps make wines bursting with fresh berry flavours. Look for wines labelled as Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages, or Beaujolais Nouveau, although the latter will probably be very difficult to find by the time summer roles around. Beaujolais labelled with the name of one of the ten villages known as Crus Beaujolais, are typically bigger and fuller and won’t be as refreshing in the heat.

Barbera

Wines made from the Barbera grape in the Piedmont region of Italy can also be light enough to enjoy in the heat. There are two styles of Barbera; the young, light, and fruity version, and the dark and serious version. When choosing a summer wine, choose the former. If you’re unsure of what to choose at the wine store, look for the less expensive versions as these are usually the younger versions that have not seen much time in oak, if any at all.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir comes in a myriad of styles from light and refreshing to deep, dark, and brooding. When choosing a Pinot Noir to enjoy in the summer, look for the lighter styles with lots of cherry and red berry flavours. Pinot Noir can also be found at a huge range of prices. Don’t put an expensive one in the fridge as these are typically more complex and chilling it will only dull some of its character.

Many wine regions around the world produce good quality Pinot Noirs. Keep an eye out for some good value ones from countries such as Chile and Argentina. The lesser-known French wine region of Languedoc also makes some good examples of lighter Pinot Noirs. Don’t forget about Ontario where some excellent Pinot Noir is produced.

Cabernet Franc

Care needs to be taken when choosing a Cabernet Franc, as this grape also makes a range of styles of wine. The Loire Valley in France produces very tasty, lighter-styles of Cabernet Franc. Look for the reds from the appellations of Chinon and Bourgueil for some cool options.

Cabernet Franc is also very successful in Ontario where it can make some big, full-bodied wines, and some lighter versions as well. Ask the product consultant at your local wine store for recommendations or lighter-bodied versions if you intend to chill them.

Valpolicella and Bardolino

Valpolicella and Bardolina both come from the Veneto region in Italy and are made with a blend of the same grapes: Corvina, Molinara, and Rondinella. Valpolicella is the better known of the two and can be readily found in wine stores throughout Canada. When purchasing a refreshing summer Valpolicella, avoid the ones that say Amarone, Recioto, or Ripasso on the labels as these are the more robust versions, and Recioto happens to be a sweet wine.

Bardolino is made with less of the Corvina grape and a higher proportion of the more neutral Rondinella grape, producing an even lighter-bodied wine than Valpolicella.

Pairing Light Red Wines with Food

Light-bodied red wines, such as Gamays and Pinot Noirs, that are full of fresh fruit flavours are the perfect pairing with picnic foods such as ham or turkey sandwiches, cold cuts, fresh cheese, fish, and even hot dogs.

Cabernet Franc tends to have more body and tannins and are great when paired with barbecued hamburgers and even grilled steaks.

Serving Reds Chilled

If you are chilling a red wine, serve it slightly warmer than you would a white wine – ideally at about 12 to 14 degrees Celsius. About an hour in the refrigerator or half an hour in the freezer should chill it enough. When putting wine in the freezer, be sure to set a timer to avoid cleaning up a big mess if you happen to get distracted and the bottle explodes.

Putting the bottle in an ice bucket filled with water and ice for about 20 minutes will also bring the wine’s temperature down to a nice chill. Adding a good dose of salt to the ice and water mixture will cool the wine even faster.

It isn’t recommended that you put ice cubes directly into the wine as this will only dilute it. Dropping a couple of frozen grapes into the wine will help keep it sufficiently cool on a hot summer day.

Great Ontario VQA Wines to Pair with Easter Ham

With Easter just around the corner, you may be starting to plan a feast fit for a queen…or at least your family and friends. As with any special occasion, wine can play an important role. Wine not only tastes great on its own, but a carefully chosen one can also enhance the flavour of the food it’s paired with. This year, why not go local and choose a VQA wine from Ontario.  With so many styles of VQA wine available there’s definitely a great match for whatever dish you decide to serve.  This post was inspired by an article I wrote last year for Suite101.com, “Great Wines for an Easter Feast”.

Wine Pairings with Ham

The most popular Easter meal in North America usually focuses on ham as the main event.  Ham is a very versatile meat that can pair with white, rosé, and even some red wines. Ham has delicious, delicate flavours and is almost always salty. In order to balance this saltiness, it is common to add some sweetness to the dish in the form of brown sugar, honey, pineapples, or cloves. The best wines to pair with ham are light, very fruity, and, if it’s a red, low in tannins. Some excellent matches for ham are:

White:

Riesling: Riesling is generally a fruity wine with good acidity that can help cut through some of the richness of the ham.  Ontario’s cool climate and unique terroir provides growers and winemakers almost perfect conditions to make excellent Rieslings.  A few of my favourites are:

Twenty Twenty-Seven Cellars Featherstone Vineyard Riesling 2009 VQA Twenty Mile Bench ($24.95 at Vintages or online). This virtual winery is winning high accolades from wine lovers and experts alike.  Absolutely delicious!

Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula($17.95 at Vintages or at the winery). This is my favourite go-to Riesling for a few years now.  It’s consistently good and well-priced.

Chardonnay: A lightly oaked Chardonnay is perfect with ham served with pineapple. The light oak can match the slight smokiness of the ham and the wine’s fruit flavours will complement the pineapple. Great examples of Chardonnay can be found throughout the world, but it is becoming quite obvious to wine-lovers that Ontario also makes fabulous world-class Chardonnay.  Read my post called “Seriously Cool Canadian Chardonnay” for a longer list of amazing Ontario Chardonnays, but here are a few more:

Rosewood Estates Winery Reserve Chardonnay 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench ($25 at the winery).  Aromatic, elegant and bursting with lively acidity.

Huff Estates South Bay Vineyards Chardonnay 2007 VQA Prince Edward County ($29.95 at Vintages, at the winery, and online). This wine won ‘White Wine of the Year’ at the Ontario Wine Awards in 2010.  Not much is left at the LCBO so get it quick.

Rosé:

Rosé: Rosé wine sales are on the rise, and it’s no wonder – they can be quite tasty and refreshing and can be a great match to many dishes, including ham. Look for dry or off-dry versions.

Malivoire Ladybug Rosé 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula ($15.95 at Vintages, at the winery, and online) A blend of mostly Cabernet Franc with some Gamay and Pinot Noir.  Delicious and refreshing with bright fruit flavours.

Southbrook Vineyards Cabernet Rosé 2009 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake ($18.95 at the winery) A blend of mostly Cabernet Franc with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a certified organic and biodynamic wine that even the Martha Stewart Radio Blog recommends!

Sparkling Rosé:  For something even more special, try a sparkling rosé.

13th Street Cuvee 13 Rosé NV ($24.95 at the winery and online).  A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay made using the traditional method.  13th Street is one of the leaders of quality sparkling wine in Ontario. Buy any of their sparkling wines and you won’t be disappointed.

Hillebrand Trius Brut Rose ($29.95 at the winery). A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and a little Pinot Meunier, made using the traditional method.  If you’re at Hillebrand, be sure to take a tour of their incredible sparkling wine cellar.

Red:

Gamay: Gamay is best known in the wines of Beaujolais, but Ontario also produces great examples of fruit-filled Gamays.  Wines made from Gamay, also called Gamay Noir, are low in tannin and have an abundance of fruit flavours, making them tasty partners with ham.  Ontario versions tend to be fuller-bodied and have darker fruit flavours and a bit more spice than their Beaujolais counterparts.

Chateau des Charmes Gamay Droit 2008 VQA St David’s Bench ($14.95 at the LCBO, at the winery, and online)  This special clone of Gamay, called Gamay Droit, was discovered in 1982 in a Chateau des Charmes vineyard and is now considered “Canada’s first vinifera”.  The vine shoots grow in a upward (droit) position and the grapes ripen later than other Gamays.  The resulting wines are fuller-bodied with more alcohol and flavour concentration.  A delicious warm weather red wine and it goes great with ham.

13th Street Gamay Noir 2008 ($17.95 at the winery, online, and there’s a bit left at the LCBO)  Not only does this winery make stellar sparkling wine, but they also make wonderful Gamay Noirs.  This wine is full of juicy red fruit and white pepper flavours with a touch of vanilla from the 12 months of ageing in oak.

Pinot Noir: This grape can produce many different styles of wine, from very light and almost Beaujolais-like, to deep, dark and brooding. When pairing with ham look for the lighter versions with vibrant fruit flavours and a touch of spice. Pinot Noir from Ontario fits the bill perfectly and is a great pairing with ham and mustard.

Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir 2009 VQA Twenty Mile Bench ($19.95 at the winery, online, and the LCBO)  Medium-bodied and full of spicy red berry flavours, and at under $20 it’s a great value too.

Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir 2009 VQA Prince Edward County ($35 at the winery and online) Ripe red berry fruit, violets, and a touch of spice.  A delicious Pinot from Prince Edward County.

Chocolate Desserts:

Since chocolate easter eggs and bunnies seem to be popular at this time of year, read “Wine and Chocolate – What More Could You Ask For?” for ideas on wines to pair with your chocolate treats.

If you prefer serving lamb for Easter dinner, then look for my upcoming post recommending Ontario VQA wine with lamb.

%d bloggers like this: