Archive for the ‘Tara’s Wine Guide.’ Category

Tara’s Summer Sippers.

June 14, 2010

[Once again, Tara is oh-so-graciously providing us with her wine expertise for this Summer’s wine season. If you missed her six-part French Wine Guide from last year, be sure to check it out! ]

Oh Summer! I love cellaring the full body, heavy hitting wines while bringing the young, summer sippers out to play.  My bff has honoured me with a little space on Bonjour Cherie to once more express my favourite vinos in celebration of patio season! So here goes…

Ontario Wines are my passion and I truly believe they deserve to be recognized on an international market. This Riesling in particular is a great example of what there is to offer in our backyard. It’s a wine that’s poppin’  with citrus fruit, lime, grapefruit and minerals.

FOOD PAIRING – I would highly recommend this Riesling with a lemon spritzed seafood kabob… or on its own because it’s just that good.

Gazela reminds me of the simple times. Those times when you just don’t want to think. Picture Saturday afternoon, après spin class on a patio… Uncomplicated and delightful. Or, as the saying goes “Cheap and Cheerful.”  Hints of tart, mineral and citrus dance around your palate in an unobtrusive way.

FOOD PAIRING – This wine is my Summer salad companion. I’m also not opposed to throwing it in a pitcher and making some delicious Sangria!

I fell in love with this bottle in class a few months ago. It was the perfect balance of every flavour I love in my mouth -And all at once! A bit like grabbing a handful of jelly bellies. This buttery, smoky, tropical fruit flavoured wine will win over any Chardonnay skeptic.

FOOD PAIRING –There is oh so much to enjoy with this wine. From an evening of movies and popcorn to a pig roast in the country; this wine is quite versatile.

I remember the day I realized Zinfandel isn’t the Rosé style wine it once was. Today, it happens to be one of the bigger grape varieties being produced in Cali. This wine in particular is like a teeter totter. On the light side of the totter you get the balance of ruby colours, with young beautiful floral aromas, tea leaves and jammy red fruit.  On the grounded side, you get amazing cedar, tobacco, smoky and leathery goodness. It is reminiscent of the times I used to go to my grandparents and steal handfuls of licorice all-sorts from the hidden jar.

FOOD PAIRING – PIZZA! For those hot, humid days in the summer when turning on the stove is not an option, grab this bottle of vino and order a pizza. I would also suggest going onto their site and checking out their recipes.

I’ve never met a Pinot I didn’t like. This grape is thriving in New Zealand. Sipping its wine is like going strawberry picking -You get red fruit aromas with hints of earthy, vegetal notes.

FOOD PAIRING – I’ve never met a mushroom dish that couldn’t use a little pinot noir to enhance the earthy fungus goodness.

Stay Tuned for Blissful BBQ Wines… Tara.


Tara’s French Wine Guide: The Burgundy Region.

March 5, 2009



The Burgundy Region, or Bourgogne, has one simple and easy quality to remember- The Red wines from the region are almost always Pinot Noir and the white wines are almost always Chardonnay. In small doses there are a few other grape varieties produced in that region.

The Pinot Noirs of this region come from a very old variety. The aromas are usually hints of Cherry, Raspberry, Strawberry, Earthy and savoury game.

The Chardonnays are produced in a wide variety of styles. There are hints of orchard fruit, nuts, mineral, vanilla and oak.

The wines in this region have many levels of classification. Using the following classification structure, you can get a sense of the quality of wine within each bottle produced from Burgundy.

From the Best of the Best to the Average Joe

Grand Cru
• The highest level of classification
• This top classification is more for the potential the wine has rather than the initial quality
• There are 30 grand cru single vineyard AC’s (making up 1%)
• Only a small number of wines produced in this classification
• Generally wines need to be cellared for approx 5-7 years
• Labeling on the bottle for this classification only includes the vineyard and the Grand cru term, leaving out the village name (Appellation Montrachot Controlee, Grand Cru)
• Bottles start at $75 and can go well over $800 for a bottle.

Premier Cru

• Still very high quality
• Should be cellared for 3-5 years or even longer
• There are 560 Premier Cru single vineyard AC’s (making up 11%)
• The label on the bottles in this region include: the village, the status, and the vineyard name
• The wine cost average from $35 to $90 per bottle with a few over $100/bottle

Village Appellations
• Make up 23% of Burgundy wines
• Wines produced in this classification are usually blends
• Wines in this classification can be drunk within 2-4 years of the release date
• Bottles are priced between $25-$55 per bottle

Regional Appellation Wines

• Accounts for 65% of all Burgundy wines
• Each bottle retails from $11-$25 per bottle
• This is the classification where you will find the rose and sparking wines
• Wines are allowed to be from grapes other than Chardonnay and Pinot noir in this classification

And now.. for a few fabulous wines from the region:
Macon-Lugny Saint Pierre

Appellation Macon-Lugny controlee
2006, 13%
Colour: Pale
Aroma: Oak, vanilla, butterscotch
Taste: Apples, toasty aftertaste, alcohol
Pairing: Caramelizing foods, roast chicken, seared tuna, salmon
Pricing: $20 ish

Duvergey Tabour Eau Gevrey-chambertin AC

13%, 2005
Colour: Dark Red
Aroma: buttherscotch, buttery
Taste: Fruit
Pairing: Rabbit pie or game
Price: $43.95

Nuits-St. Georges
12.5%, 2006
Colour: Dark Red
Aroma: Spice, Floral
Taste: Tannins, Sweet berries
Pairing: Steak and frites, game
Price: $47.95

Here is a great French restaurant for a delicious bottle of Burgundy-


-Tara Anderson

{This is Tara’s last French Wine Guide post. Many thanks to Tara for enlightening us all to the many beautiful areas of French wine. xo}

Tara’s French Wine Guide: Bordeaux.

February 26, 2009



People are attracted to the Bordeaux region for two reasons: It’s the second largest wine producing region in the world, producing over 700 million bottles of wine on average each year; and secondly, its versatility attracts everyone from the average wine consumer to the most intense of collectors. But what draws my attention to this beautiful region, is not what’s on the vine, but rather the environment and the various appellations within it.

Bordeaux’s survival and success with grape growing can be attributed to the Gironde River, which flows through the region. This natural irrigation works wonders for the vines, because the gravel and flint provide excellent drainage, and keep the roots hydrated. The Gironde River divides this region into three areas:

The Left Bank

• Some of the famous appellations in the area are: Medoc AC, Saint-Estephe AC, Paulliac AC, Saint-Julien AC, Sautemes AC
• The Haut-Medoc AC is known as the sweet spot on the Gironde River. 52 % of the grapes planted in this region are Cabernet Sauvignon. This AC straddles the Bordeaux and the Medoc region.
• Sautemes AC’s -are popular for their sweet white wines. A crazy disease commonly known as Noble Rot is to thank for this (Botrytis Cinerea aka Noble Rot is a disease the sucks the water out of the grape, leaving a concentrated, sweet grape… see not all diseases are bad! –see photo below)


The Right Bank

• Cotes de Bourg AC and Cotes de Blaye AC- these are the oldest wine producing areas in Bordeaux, with their main grape being Merlot
• Pomerol AC- has a great reputation for their Merlot blends. They are considered the most gentle and least tannic/acidic of the wines in the entire region
• Fronsac AC have the most full-bodied, affordable wines in the right bank

• Saint-Emilion AC- (probably the most well known in this area) The Romans planted these vineyards in 2nd century AD and produced are very flavourful Merlots and Cabernet Francs

The Middle of it all

• Large white wine production in this area
• Entre Deux Mers AC- the largest appellation in the Bordeaux region. It sells ¾ of all of the wine sold in Bordeaux. It is located between the Garonne and the Dordogne River.


My picks of wines for this region:
CH. Belgrave Haut-Medoc AC 12.5%
2004 Grand Cru Classes

Grape: Cabernet-Merlot Blend
Colour: Blood Red, Rusty
Aroma: Black Current, Earth, Spicy, Smokey, Cedar
Taste: Earthy, Acidic with good tannins
Pairing: Mushroom dishes, Sausages
Price: $25ish

Saint Emilion AC 2005 13.5%
Christian Moueix
Grape: Merlot
Colour: Inky Purple
Aroma: Stemy, Tobacco
Taste: Earth, Light
Pairing: Steak
Price: $18.95 at the LCBO

For more information, click here.

-Tara Anderson

Tara’s French Wine Guide: Rhône Valley.

February 19, 2009


If you’re interested in a delicious, trustworthy red wine for a cheap price, look no further than the Rhone Valley of France. The wine makers of this region produce some of the best everyday red wines. However, for an area with such a positive reputation, it segregates itself within the region. Let’s start with the uncomplicated South.



This Sub-Region produces most of the wines for the entire Rhone valley region. Although it has many grape varietals, one main grape is Grenache. There are many appellations in this sub-region, but one of the more popular appellations in this area is Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

The Chateauneuf-du-Pape name comes from way back (14th century to be exact) when the popes used to reside nearby, before Rome was even a thought! This area is neat because of the Terroir. The stones in this area are called galets and they soak up the heat during the day and release it at night. They also absorb moisture, which helps keep the vines happy during those dry summer days. The wine has a full body, rich taste and ranges between $25-$50.

A notable wine from the area:
Chateauneuf-du-pape AC 2007
Grape: Grenache
Colour: Deep Red
Aroma: Floral, Cherries
Taste: Loads of fruit, smooth
Pairing: Most Cheese



In this sub region, two of the better red wines are Cote-Rotie and Hermitage. Both of these wines are produced using the Syrah grape (although some Cotie-Rotie can be blended with Viogner). In fact, Syrah is the only grape variety permitted in red for this region.

Cote-Rotie vineyards are unique because the vines are planted on vertical slopes. The reason for this is to create optimal sunlight in an area where fog can be overwhelming. This area is also interesting because some of the winemakers blend white wine grapes (Voigner) with their Syrah. Combining the two grape varietals creates floral aromas. Cote-Rotie wine has great aging potential but can be quite pricy ($45-$80)

Hermitage is the benchmark for Rhone styles. It has a very earthy tasted and is best when it’s aged several years due to its high level of tannins. This varietal could easily be cellared for 30 years. Hermitage sells for $50-$90 with some of the better vintage years can easily be over $100.

A Savory Wine from Northern Rhone:
Cave de Tain, Fine Fleur D’Crozes, 2005
Colour: Deep Red
Aroma: Cedar, hint of mint, Earth tones
Taste: Well balanced, Black Pepper, Raspberry, Blueberry
Pairing: Grilled Meat, Game, Mushrooms, Some Tomato based Foods.
Price: $22.95

For more information on the wines in the Rhone Valley Region, click here.

-Tara Anderson

Tara’s French Wine Guide: The Loire Valley.

February 12, 2009



This region is on my top 3 to visit in France. The Loire Valley is among some of the most breathtaking landscapes of France. It extends from Central France to the Atlantic Ocean. The region being so big, it’s easiest to break it down into three sub regions.

The Closest to Romance Sub Region
The Upper Loire Valley

The Upper Loire Valley is the closest sub-region to the romantic city of Paris. The area produces memorable Sauvignon Blancs. There are two communes worth mentioning that produce some fabulous wines: Sancerre & Pouilly-sur-Loire. Suitably, the two main wines of this region are called: Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume.

Sancerre produces a lighter, vibrant wine; think patio season.
Pouilly-Fume wines take on more of the soil’s characteristics, and tastes a bit more of flint and minerals.

If this were the later part of the 19th century, we could also enjoy Pinot Noirs from these two regions. But in 1860, a nasty little bug infested France’s vineyards. Phylloxera, a yellow, thirst-sucking bug hitched a ride with some of the vines from America. I would insert a picture but its gross and it makes me itch. The little bugs wiped out most of the grapes in France, leaving farmers desperate for a solution to end the epidemic. To this day, farmers graft a hardy rootstock to the plants to protect their vineyards.

A decent wine for this Area:

“Les Baronnes” Henri Bourgeois 2007
Grape Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Appearance: Green
Aroma: Mineral
Taste: Tart and Citrus
Food Match: any pasta with a cream sauce
Price: $24.95

Stuck in the Middle Sub Region
Central Loire Valley


There are two notable areas in this sub region. The first is Vouvray. (if you will recall for a moment, the movie Sideways. Miles talks his BF’s ear off about this area while the ladies are in the bathroom) The area is known for a grape called Chenin Blanc. This grape is so versatile, you can make anything from Still wine- to Sparkling Wine, to Dessert wine. It really takes on the idea of Terroir (as discussed in Blog #1.)

The second area is Chinon. This village excites me because I can finally mention bold, beautiful reds! Chinon makes some pretty fabulous Cabernet Francs. They’re spicy, and medium-bodied. This village produces Cab Franc on the stony terraces and on the rockier areas. Each area really integrates the climate and environment into the wine.

A good wine to put down for 3-5 years:
Dom de Saint Jusy “Les Terres Rouges”
Saumure-Chamdigny 2007, 13.5%
Colour: Deep Rich Red
Aroma: Green Peppers, Smokey
Taste: Cherry, Raspberry, Hint of Mint
Pairing: Burgers and Sausages.. A good old summer BBQ!
Price: 16.95 at the LCBO

The Ocean View Sub Region


This area is closest to the ocean, and I personally found the wines I tasted from around here in would go great with seafood. (Coincidence? I think not!)

This region (among others) frequently uses a unique way to age the wine; sur lie. This technique is where the winemaker ages the wine on its lees (yeast fermentation). The wine is bottled straight from the tank which gives it a freshness.

A grape variety worth mentioning is the Muscadet:

Domaine Gildas Comerais
Muscadet Sevre et Maine AC 2007 Sur Lie 12%
Colour: Gold
Aroma: Sour apple, Flowers, Yeast
Taste: Bitter Apple, Olive Oil after taste, very clean
Pairing: Seafood, Oysters
Price: $13.95

For more on this region, click here.

-Tara Anderson

Tara’s French Wine Guide: Champagne Region

February 5, 2009

Champagne Region


“ Happiness without champagne is purely artificial” – Oscar Wilde

I can’t think of a special occasion where Champagne hasn’t been present. It is the wine of new beginnings; a New Year, marriage, a new job… The list goes on. But for a wine that is so vital in celebration, it seems to be taken for granted.

Let’s start with the basic facts: Although this bubbly vino is produced world wide, there is only one place it can legally carry the name Champagne- The Champagne region in France (clever with names eh!). There are three grapes used in creating wine; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Simple enough? Well we are about to get complicated… Here’s how it’s made:

  1. It all starts with taking the grape juice (called Must) and making it into wine, sans bubbles.
  2. Second Fermentation begins- The wine maker puts the still wine into a bottle along with a concoction of yeast, sugar and yeast food. It is capped off and put into a deep cellar on its side until the CO2 gas dissolves into the wine.
  3. Maturation – The wine maker puts the bottles into racks (technical term is Pupitres) for riddling.
  4. Riddling- This process is when the bottle is moved from a horizontal position to a vertical position by twisting it. This is done by a Remeaur (pasty man deep in the cellar) who manually turns the bottles. They are so good, they can riddle up to 30,000 bottles a day. ( The bigger manufacturers now have machines to do this!)
  5. Disgorgement – The wine maker takes the neck of the bottle and freezes it in a liquid solution. Then they pop the cap and the remaining yeast plops out.
  6. Dosage and finishing- This last stage is if there is a bit of wine loss, it is topped up with a wine and sugar solution and sealed with a cork (that must say Champagne) and covered with a cap and wire muzzle.

And voilà… I bet you’ll think twice before shaking and spraying this lovely liquid at your next victory!

FUN FACT: As a rule of thumb you twist the wire muzzle 6 times to remove it.


Bottle: J.Lassalle champagne NV- Chigny Les Roses
Colour: Golden, Tiny bubbles
Aroma: Yeast, cheesy, butter, fish
Taste: Truffles, scone- biscuit
Pairing: Gritty cheese, Lemony seafood
Price: roughly $35

I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty. ~ Madame Lilly Bollinger

For more information on this region and the wine it produces, you can read more here.

-Tara Anderson

Tara’s French Wine Guide: Alsace Region.

January 29, 2009

Alsace, France


Let’s begin with the region that was the girl everyone wanted to dance with in World War I… and WWII… Alsace. Once a part of Germany, and then France, and then Germany, it is now happily residing in France. I was 100% unfamiliar with Alsace until 2 weeks ago, and now I’m obsessed! This tiny region happens to be one of the best White Wine producers in the world… Who knew?!

Although the Alsace region produces some Pinot Noir, they are predominantly a white wine producer. It should come as no surprise, given the close quarters it shares with Germany that most of the grapes grown in this region are more of the German varietals, such as Gewurztraminer (Gewurz –being the German word for spice) and the Riesling.

Rieslings have a unique characteristic because they are very expressive of the Terroir- meaning the grape really takes on the personality of the conditions it’s in. i.e. very mineral soil = very mineral Riesling.

In my class we tried a bottle of each. Here are my thoughts on two of them.


Bottle: Pierre Sparr, Alsace AC, 2007 14%
Colour: Greenish, Lighter in Colour (pale)
Aroma: Botanicals, Lychee
Taste: Lychee, Tropical Fruit, Low Acidity, Spicy after taste at the back of the palette
Food Pairing: Spicy Foods (Asian Influenced), Wasabi, Horseradish
Price: $16.10; LCBO


Bottle: Willm Reserve, Alsace AC, 2007 12%
Colour: Pale, Bright but fades towards edge, Straw
Aroma: Fruity, Flower, Apple Blossom, Exotic,
Taste: Citrus, Sour Apple, Stainless Steel (from the fermentation process)
Pairing: Pork & Apple Sauce, Chicken
Price: $16.95; LCBO in the vintages section.

La Palette is a favourite French restaurant of mine in Toronto that carries a delicious Gewurztraminer from Alsace:

For more information on this region and the wine it produces, you can read more here.

-Tara Anderson

Introducing: Tara’s French Wine Guide.

January 28, 2009

Niagara Grapes1

My beloved friend Tara is contemplating a career change. She’s currently enrolled in a wine program at a respected college in Toronto. I suggested she post a six-part French wine guide here on Bonjour Chérie.

Look out for her first post, covering the Alsace region this Thursday.

A note from Tara:
I have been an avid Wine drinker since the ripe old age of six. I used to sit at the table and annoy my mother and godmother until they poured a splash of vino into my glass of milk. (I will pause for the obvious reaction…) Post my milk and vino cocktail, I have come to really take pleasure in a glass of wine. But up until recently I ignored where the wine was conceived and just enjoyed it for what it was; a classy way to get a buzz.

Over the past two years, I have become curious about this complex beverage, so curious in fact, I have decided to potentially make a career change and revolve my life around wine and the intricacies that go into making it.

Since starting the wine program at a college here in Toronto, I have had my eyes opened to the different regions of France and how diverse the wine is from region to region. Up until now, I just assumed if I opened a bottle of wine from France, well, it was from France… During my time here on my BFF’s blog, I hope to shed some light on some of the hidden gems within the borders of France.