Archive for the ‘Knowledge’ Category


So here I find myself in one of the most celebrated viticultural regions of North America for a vacation spanning the NewYears season.
To update on my Interior Design education, I am pleased to share my 4.0GPA – course work (and other factors) has been excruciatingly challenging! I’ll be building an online portfolio of my work as an extension of a professional business class next term so look forward to that…!
The resort, Vino Bello, is ok so far but as a designer, i’m spotting a lotof flaws…
Tomorrow is a visit to Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga where I’ve booked a private Wine Aficionado tour. What will i be looking for during the tasting portion? You guessed it – a spittoon. If me no see me be asking for one.
I’ll post reviews of the vinos I’ve sampled, my impressions of them and if i’d recommended them or not.
Lots do see and do in a week so bear with me as i relax and recharge.


*posted using a mobile client- if anything is unclear or askew from what you’re accustomed to seeing, i will edit tags and categories and correct minutiae when i have access to my pc at home.  ~tvb

Its Spring Break! Yay!!  So far, this term’s course load has been significantly more intense over last term.  Projects have been large and involved and each one included a verbal presentation in from of the class and in one case, before an actual client. Mid-term exams have been completed and a couple have been exceptionally challenging.  Hopefully the poor performance on one exam is balanced with the rest of the work so i can maintain my 4.0 GPA.

Along side this challenging schoolwork comes the unfortunate crashing of my computer.  Although i DO have backups of all my significant files, some of the instances are a little out of date with the ones that were lost. Sadly, this includes my wine diary.  The last entry that made it to this blog’s backup was the previous one I posted.  Everything since then – some 17 exceptional bottles of vinos’ notes lost. =[  What I did salvage from hand-written notes a scrap of napkin in my desk drawer was this note on:

Konzelmann Unoaked Chardonnay 2008:  Pineapple, tropical fruit and apple feel decently crisp. The mouth-feel is well-textured and smooth. The finish is light with white peach flavours and a solid citrus acidity. I didn’t make note of what we paired with it, but i can certainly see this beside a cajun-style blackened fish.

So this finishes my current collection of tasting notes.  No more Ontario vino for a while, sadly.  I’m not sure when i’ll have a chance to compose another entry, so do follow me on Twitter @thevinoboy.  I hope to get some ‘on-the-road’ tasting notes posted there as i’m sipping.  Should a bottle of note happen my way and i have a moment to write something more official up here, do come back and have a read.

Now, its a week off and a trip to Hawaii for nothing but R&R.



One of the most consistently delicious and pedigreed wines I’ve been keeping very detailed notes on is an affordable junior-level vino from one of the most recognizable vintners in the world: Louis Jadot. Its trademark frieze of Bacchus and uniquely colored label stands out on any shelf in any vino purveyor’s shoppe.

Though my tastings have only dated from the 2004 vintage, this historic vino travels back in time to the early 1800’s.  The winery has been passed down through the last 200 years to various parties whose best interests ensure the sustainability or the vineyards and most importantly the consistency of the final product.

(V) 2004 – the beginning of my tasting was almost the end.  A prominent barnyard aroma, slight cherry flavor yet thin on the palate and no finish at all.

(V) 2005 – dark and ominous in the glass, the faint layer of earthiness is rather pleasing with a strawberry essence on top.  Berry-forward palate with the earth on moderate finish.

(V) 2006 – We went through two bottles of this amazing vino at an out-of-the-way bistro during a trip to Paris. Took another back to the hotel for the evening.  Smooth palate, flavors of raspberry and cherry with a silky finish. Great for breakfast sopped up with day-old baguette. Best bottle yet!

(V) 2007 – Predominantly peppery on the nose, tangy strawberry flavor, bright acidity –  deliciously gulpable!  Almost Nouveau in style.

(V) 2008 – Spicy cherry on the nose with hint of peppercorn.  Rather light-bodied and finishes with a hint of anise.  Strange flavor profile for this type of vino but still drinkable.

(V) 2009 – Crushed strawberry and barnyard on the nose, lively acidity on the mid-weight palate, distinctive peppercorn finish.

Prices range from ~$8/btl to as high as ~$17/btl as your local vino merchant

Six years, six bottles of the same vino produced from vines as old as 200 years. Consistent and enjoyable and ready for the release of 2010’s offering.   I have several other vinos with years of detailed notes like this; look for another retrospective sometime soon.

A Santé!!



**image credit: via WineAlign. makes no claim to ownership and republishes under fair use provisions for review and critique.

Fear not, dear readers, I am very much still sipping and taking plenty of notes.

I am in the middle of an huge re-location from Toronto to Minneapolis!

For now, everything is packed away for the trip.

Once settled, I have a good dozen bottles to write review for; stay tuned!




On a recent visit to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, we had the pleasure of an invitation to lunch at Le Cordon Bleu College or Culinary Arts teaching restaurant called Technique. Le Cordon Bleu is a prestigious world-wide network of  teaching institutions that provide a creative and supportive community where passionate individuals can immerse themselves in the culinary world. Here, students work alongside caring, experienced chef instructors and are taught the skills necessary to pursue a professional career in the culinary/hospitality industry.

Technique Restaurant is a special opportunity to taste the work of our future culinary professionals.  The menu is small, allowing the chefs-in-training to focus their learning to make the dishes perfect.

This particular Technique has a liquor license and two choices of wine on their three-course lunch menu.  Being the often-naughty vinoboy, I chose the wine and asked the waiter-in-training to inform our new chefs to pair their choices for me with the wine.  Lan Gran Reserva 2003, Rioja was my wine of choice. (smooth tannin, plum and spice on the palate yet medium-light body)

Chef’s choice appetizer is a Curried Chicken Tartine (Seasoned chicken slices on a caraway-scented baguette toast topped with a cranberry compote.)  The curry on the chicken was alittle discordant with the wine but the sharp cranberries and the nuttiness of the caraway in the toast made a nice pairing.

Chef’s choice of entrée is a pan-seared salmon filet with a julienne of vegetables in a rice sheet wrapper.  Fish was nicely done; still creamy in the center, the crunchy freshroll and its aromatics was nice with the wine though the arugula salad was a little too peppery.

The dessert selections were not at all conducive to the wine.  I suggested they think beyond the menu for the Chef’s choice of dessert. I had a hunch they’d not really have the facility to pull something off, so i finished the wine and ordered coffee to enjoy with the Profiteroles au Chocolat.

Pictures of all the above dishes are available at the Technique website.  The Cordon Bleu’s website will tell you if there’s a school near you.  All gratuities are donated to the Career Education Scholarship Fund for Le Cordon Bleu.

Not exactly a vino post, but definitely worth sharing my experience there.



Here I go again! A splurge on which I’d not normally indulge – a moderately-priced wine purely based on viticultural region.  I simply adore New Zealand wines but have only tasted those produced from the northern region.  This vino is from the southern latitudes just outside the city of Christchurch.

On a non-vino note that I feel is very important to mention, there is a philanthropic program behind the sale of Flying Kiwi’s wines.  The adorable and seriously endangered Kiwi is a flightless bird native to, and found nowhere else on the planet outside of, New Zealand. One percent of the sale of all the winery’s wines is donated to the Kiwi Recovery and Breeding program & New Zealand Conservation Trust. Please visit their site and donate if you can – your vinoboy has made a pledge.

A rich ruby colored vino with a vibrant fruity nose of cherry & plum.  The palate is youthfully complex bearing a light oaked elegance that will only become more structured and calm as it is cellared.  The finish is lingering and young displaying a surprising maturity.

A remarkable Pinot Noir. You can bet I’ll be hiding a bottle in the cellar to see what happens in 10 years.

Excellent wine for pan-seared tenderloin with grilled asparagus as that’s what I had for dinner with this wonderful vino.  (LCBO ~$16/btl)




**image credit #1 – the bottle portrait was taken by yours truly after I had polished off the bottle. Design and all that property of the winery, duh!  Published here under fair use provisions for review and critique.

**image credit #2 – the wee Kiwi bird

The day started with a passable breakfast at the new restaurant adjacent to the hotel and we were soon on the road this bright and sunny and WINDY day. Once on the picturesque Niagara Parkway, we ambled along the edge of the gorge stopping at a few outlooks for pictures.  The drive was splendid and relaxing and though our tour reservations were for 1pm, we left with plenty of time for sight-seeing. One particular stop was at the Whirlpool and its one-of-a-kind-on-the-planet Spanish AeroCar!  A marvel of modern early 20th century engineering!  You won’t catch me on it!

We arrived at the winery at lunch time and relaxed in the Welcome Center with a Mozzarella & Parmesan cheese board, dry Riesling and Chardonnay as our wines.  Watching as people explored the courtyard or enjoyed their own snacks was interesting. The couple that shared our little snack space and also in our tour group were visiting from Milwaukee on their honeymoon. We proudly announced this as our 7th anniversary.  A nice couple.

The tour started with a basic introduction to the founders and theirhistory leading up to today.  Rather than rewrite all that, please visit the Inniskillin website and explore.  As our guide was yammering on about this and that, a truck rumbled into the lot, and the workers proceeded to start emptying into the crusher/de-stemmer. Aha! These Chardonnay grapes were plump and firm and felt ready to burst!

The tour meandered through quite a bit of the place, stopping here and there at various points along the production line. The main fermentation tanks are massive vats two stories tall and gleaming stainless steel! Below ground in their conference room and ageing cellars, various barrels and rooms held some of their test-batches and premier reserves.  I think the guide mentioned that with the barrels lining the pictured chamber, the Cabernet Sauvignon they held would be for private stock or special presentation wine. Not sure that that means, but I’ll bet the bottles would be expensive!!

At the end of the tour, was the much anticipated tasting! A Chardonnay Reserve, a Meritage and a Vidal Icewine…

Chardonnay VQA Reserve 2009: Pineapple and mango, hints of spice and vanilla fill the nose of this fully-oaked Chard. Tropical and creamy on the palate with a mineral finish. (LCBO ~$15/btl)

Meritage 2009: Cranberry and spice dominate thru an alcohol-evident aroma. The texture is smooth with a juicy tannin that leads to a lingering spicy finish. Not the most sophisticated Meritage I’ve tried but fun in this setting. I’m unsure of its availability or pricing.

Icewine Vidal VQA 2007: Oh my! At first sip, I thought it was pure honey. The second sip was a fascinating experience filled with lychee, dried apricot and fig. A balanced sweetness, though with the alcohol caressing the back of the throat. Not entirely sure of this style of wine as this is only the second time I’ve chanced to taste an icewine. (LCBO ~$50/btl @372ml.)

In the boutique, I found a Montague Estate Pinot Noir VQA 2004! Made with select grapes from their Montague Estate (sub-appellation: Four Mile Creek) this already 7yo Pinot is said to be a passable vintage carrying ripe red fruit and spice… I’ve now stored the bottle safely away with the plan of uncorking it on our 14th anniversary on 10-Oct-2018. I hope the fellow at the counter was correct in his assertion that this Pinot can be safely aged for up to 20 years… (winery only ~$25/btl)

A wonderful outing! Now we’re heading back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner and a trip to Fallsview Casino Resort!




**image credit: ME!!  I took all these picture myself. Logos and facilities are obviously copyrighted to the winery and shared under personal use. Want to see more of the images from Inniskillin, drop me a note and i’ll see what i can dig up for you.

This is our 7th anniversary!!  My partner and I are traveling from Toronto to the Niagara Region – enjoying a long long weekend together with scenery, wineries of the Niagara Region, perfect weather, the fall colors drenching the escarpment in gorgeous reds and yellows, Lake Ontario sparkling to the north, and each other as we meander our way along Hwy 8  –  stopping whenever we chance upon something interesting.

I could not have asked for anything more perfect!

A few minutes east but MILES away with respect to meso-climate from our first stop is our second stop: Angels Gate Winery, situated on the upper boundaries of the Beamsville Bench and the high-ground of the Escarpment proper. With grapes supplied from roughly 200 acres of vineyards and a broad range of varieties being grown, the three wines we sampled at their tasting bar may well have been the best so far…

This is probably one of the youngest wineries in the area, first planted in the mid 1990’s, releasing their first vintage in 2002.  The main building resembles something kinda-sorta Mission-styled with clean, simple lines; calm exterior; thick wooden doors and an impressive view of Lake Ontario.  The left side of the tasting bar is filled with wines – each bottle proudly adorned with the medal it has won from the various competitions around the world.

Süssreserve Riesling 2008: This semi-dry VQA Niagara Peninsula Riesling is one of the more unique I have tried.  Once the vino is fully fermented and almost finished, sweet Riesling juice is added just before bottling. A nose of fresh lime zest and white lily is accented on the palate by a refreshingly clean minerality. The linger is short, but still a tad sweet.  Chinese or Thai food would be cool!  (LCBO ~$14/btl)

VQA Cabernet Franc 2008: Teasing hints of red licorice tickle the nose as ripe red fruits fill the palate.  Cab Franc is one of my favorite reds and this smooth vino only reaffirms with medium-weight, low tannins and a warm lingering finish.  This perfectly oaked vino is both integrated and tantalizing. (winery only @ $17/btl)

VQA Gewürztraminer 2008: I’m very accustomed to this type of wine presenting itself as sweet and full – I was surprised at how dry this wine its.  Unmistakably rich, this vino has more orange and pear aromas and less acidity on the palate than others. For a grape whose characteristics are mildly spicy, the melon flavors on the palate are quite refreshing. (LCBO @ ~$16/btl)

Next episode, we visit Inniskillin!  I’m very excited to be sharing this adventure.




**image credits – ME!!!  I took these picture myself! Visiting this winery was fun and the weather couldn’t’ve been move amazing.  Yay!

This is our 7th anniversary!!  My partner and I have traveled to all corners of North America, escaped to Hawaii and even wandered around Paris, France – but we’ve never really explored what lies close to my front door.  I wanted to do something we’ve never done before here in Ontario, so I planned a long long weekend together enjoying the scenery and wineries of the Niagara Region.  The weather was perfect, the fall colors drenched the escarpment in gorgeous reds and yellows, Lake Ontario sparkled to the north as we meandered our way along Hwy 8…  Couldn’t ask for anything more perfect.

The first winery we chanced upon would be Peninsula Ridge, situated on the the bench-lands in Beamsville. The mineral-rich terroir fills the grapes with a lively acidity and sparking sweetness that is totally unique to this appellation.

Established in 2000, this winery boasts a complex yet simple marriage of new-world harvesting and fermentation technology to old-world barrel-aging to give their wines class and quality.  The Kitchen House, a restored Queen Anne-styled manor built in the late 1800’s is their on-site restaurant – though we were there a little early to try it.

Their boutique was dressed in varnished wood and limestone accents; tasting bar was welcoming with black granite counter-tops. We were greeted with a smile and excitedly presented the tasting menu. Though most of this winery’s vinos are only sold AT the boutique, I made sure to try wines available at our LCBO stores so you can find them and try for yourself:

INOX Chardonnay 2008: The twangy notes of flint, limestone and oranges are immediately evident in the nose of this unoaked Chardonnay.  Flavors of oranges and ripe peaches open up on the palate and balance decently with a long finish.  This vino would be great with a breaded white-fleshed fish. (LCBO price is ~$13/btl)

Merlot 2008: Like most of this winery’s Merlots, this is an unfiltered* wine. My nose was greeted with ripe black cherries, plums and a hint of smoke.  A round palate of succulent hints of chocolate, cherry and firm tannins lingered loooooooooooooooong with lip-smacking notes of oak and cedar.  (LCBO price ~$13/btl)

Reserve Riesling 2008:  This turned out to be a semi-sweet Riesling (2) with a remarkable aroma of fresh pineapple!  The palate was brightly acidic with the pineapple flavor carrying straight through to the finish.   (winery only at ~$20/bottle)

This first stop on my three winery tour was most enlightening.  I can’t wait to see what more this area is hiding!! =D




*please refer to the Clarification paragraph in “Grape to Glass“. “Unfiltered” simply means that during ‘racking’, no devices were used to trap any free-flowing sediment. Decant this wine and pour slowly to mitigate any bits going into your glass. This is the most traditional Merlot vinting and produces a nicer more authentic essence to a Merlot so sip slower and savour the vino. Bits-and-pieces in the bottom of the glass are just fine!!!

** images credits: ME!!! I took these pictures MYSELF! The names and labels are owned by the winery. Thank you Peninsula Ridge for an awesome visit!

My my my!  How times have changed in the realm of stoppering a liquid-carrying vessel; chiefly, the wine bottle.

I’ve scoured the ‘net trying to find some unanimous agreement on the history of using cork to stopper amphorae, casks, jugs and the like, but none seem to agree.  It wasn’t until the mid 1800s that the vino bottle was standardized to 750ml.  This then made the production of cork stoppers easier; leading to both mass production of acceptable wine bottle corks and sustainability of the resource as a whole. Almost 50% of all cork production is in Portugal and Spain.

Nowadays, we have a number of ways to seal a bottle: cork, rubber stopper, and screwcap; to name just a few. But which is better?!

Cork is considered traditional with its relationship to the wine bottle. It comes in varying styles, qualities and compositions, but for the most part, it does the trick. Keeping a cork healthy is essential for the longevity of wine being held back. If improperly cellared or the bottle kept upright, the natural wooden cork will dry out, contract and let the wine spoil.  On the other hand, should the cork be kept too moist, it will mold and taint the bottle’s contents.

If a winery decides that its best-enjoyed-young wines are too fast-moving to really NEED a cork stopper, a synthetic media can be used.  Sometimes its a solid rubber-like plug that’s used or its a slug of dense foam with a layer of material around it. Either way, it does the trick and is not susceptible to the frailties is cork.

The oft-maligned screw-cap is actually one of the better methods of sealing a wine bottle. In my opinion, it’s a tamper-evident and sterile way of protecting the contents of the bottle in an air-tight environment and doesn’t require a corkscrew to open. The plastic seal inside the cap won’t shrink, mold or rot and will never impart any undesirable flavors to a wine.  Its stigma of cheapness is slowly being overridden by wineries who are using screw-caps to preserve their most special of reserve wines.  In Canada, the prized estates of the more well-known wineries are exclusively using screw-cap on their small-batch single-vineyard reserves.

So don’t judge a vino by its stopper.  Which is better? It be not for this vinoboy to dictate.  Select your vino based on what you’re looking for in the wine: varietal, style, price-point, etc – not on how the bottle is sealed.