Category Archives: Red Brick Cafe wines

Now is the time for white wine

As it gets colder many of  us keep our sanity by turning to the warmth of tannic red wines.  While I am in favour of that, I also urge my fellow oenophiles (yes it’s a word) to not neglect a good harvest white wine.

Gewürztraminer & Riesling are perfect wines for this time of year and you don’t need to “Try a Little German” (please click on that link for a hilarious previous post) to find great examples.  Ontario makes both dry and sweet Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

Gewürztraminer is one of the best words in the German dictionary. I consider myself lucky to have a reason to say it – I say it because it’s fun and I drink it because it’s tasty.  If you don’t know how to pronounce it then this may be useful  [ɡəˈvʏɐtstʁaˈmiːnɐ] but I highly doubt it (thanks Wikipedia for nothing).

The Red Brick Café is serving a dry Gewürztraminer from Strewn in Niagara.  Get on down there and try a glass – or get to the LCBO and buy a bottle.

STREWN GEWURZTRAMINER VQA
LCBO 65359 | Price: $ 12.95

 


Wine Selection Night at the Red Brick

One of my sweet gigs is picking wines for the Red Brick Café here in Guelph.  Friday night was selection night - kinda like America’s Got Talent, except the wine is auditioning and I’m not on TV. So in another very real way it’s not like America’s Got Talent at all.  My wife and I met with 5 Red Brick employees, 5 red wines, and selection night began.   

Red wines up for consideration

Selecting wines is like being the Westminster Kennel Show judge.  All the dogs you inspect are fine animals but do they properly represent their breed?   Beagles are  to be compared with the ideal Beagle, Huskies with the ideal Huskie,  and  so on.   One of the  good things about selecting wines is that you don’t have to inspect a dog’s bum. 

Back to my point – If you pick a Cabernet Sauvignon it needs to taste like a Cabernet. The one we tried was tasty but it would have been misleading to put on a wine menu.  It was too grassy and green for a Cab Sav.  We also tried a Shiraz that was good but not  big enough for what I want an Aussie Shiraz to taste like. 

In the end we chose 2 great red wines to go with the harvest white wine we selected back in the Spring.  They unveil later this week at the Red Brick Café.   

 


Nero D’Avola – Everyday Red

Everyday Red is one of my favorite topics on this blog.  It certainly the most practical for anyone reading the blog – unless you claim my stories as your own and start telling them at parties.  Everyday Red wines are my house wines.  They are in the $10 wine category, perfect with or without food, and meet the taste bud standards of both adults in my house.  This one is being served at the Red Brick Café right now. It is a true trattoria sipper.

NERO D’AVOLA Cusumano 2007
LCBO 143164 | Price: $ 9.95 Siciliy,  14.5% Alcohol

This is why trattoria’s were invented – or why Nero D’Avola was created – its hard to say.  Let’s just say that we considered renaming the Café to Red Brick Trattoria and Ristorante after this went on the menu.  “Never match wits with a Sicilian when death is on the line” (Princess Bride) but bet  your life that people will enjoy this at your next party. At this price you should buy a case. And don’t EVER call this an Italian wine – apparently both the Italians and Sicilians object to being confused for each other.

 Let me know if you tried it and if you liked it.


Red Brick Café – Spring Menu

J’aime le printemps – and I love the Spring menu at the Red Brick Café.  The new food is fantastic – Jessica’s bruschetta is a creation of tomato and herbal magic (but not like the registered trademark herbal magic). Likewise her paprika hummus with veggies is mouth wateringly mouth watering (thanks to Peter Mayle for that one).

Try all three wines any night for $10 – then go buy them at the LCBO.

LARCH TREE HILL RIESLING Prospect Winery 2007
LCBO 145136 | Price: $ 13.95 Okanagan Valley, BC 12.5% Alcohol

This wine has aromas of lime and peaches and has a nice long finish – much longer than a typical Riesling.  It is best served cold, for maximum coldness.  The producer’s tasting notes mention hints of fennel and honeysuckle. You will taste the honeysuckle more as the wine warms up.

Larch Tree Hill stands well on its own and would make a great apéritif – it reminds me of the Olympics – probably because I drank it during the Olympics.  I’m just guessing.

NERO D’AVOLA Cusumano 2007
LCBO 143164 | Price: $ 9.95 Siciliy,  14.5% Alcohol

This is why trattoria’s were invented – or why Nero D’Avola was created – its hard to say.  Let’s just say that we considered renaming the Café to Red Brick Trattoria and Ristorante after this went on the menu.  “Never match wits with a Sicilian when death is on the line” (Princess Bride) but bet  your life that people will enjoy this at your next party. At this price you should buy a case. And don’t EVER call this an Italian wine – appearantly both the Italians and Sicilians object to being confused for each other.

 

Y Series SHIRAZ VIOGNIER Yalumba 2007
LCBO 624494 | Price: $ 14.95 South Australia,  13.5% Alcohol

Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier. They have won several environmental awards including the Climate Protection award from the US Environmental Protection Agency. How cool is that – the freekin’ EPA!  A blend of Shiraz and a small percentage of white Viognier wine that turns a tough “John Wayne” manly Shiraz into a sensitive 21st century “I’m not afraid to cry at a romantic comedy” wine with softer tannins and interesting floral hints.


Party at the Red Brick

Spring is here (well close enough, I’ve packed my winter jacket) and so is the new wine and beer menu at the Red Brick Café.

Tuesday night is the launch party of the new wine menu (my creation) served with some tasty food (Jessica’s creation).  Party starts at 7 pm – yours truly will be there talking up the new wines.  If you have never seen owner Shelley Kreiger at a party then you need to come for just that.

I can’t let you in on the wines just yet but I can give three hints.

A Riesling that is steely and becomes floral when it warms up.

A great trattoria sipper from the old country.

A delicious Shiraz with a twist.

Think about it! And be there if you can.


Larch Tree Hill Riesling – Olympic Pairing

The sounds of the Winter Olympics remind me that I love being Canadian. I love the sound of sharp metal crunching into the ice – pond hockey.  Similarly, the sounds of the sleds speeding down the ice tracks take me back to fearlessly going far too fast on my toboggan – no helmet, airborne crashes, good times.

These sounds remind me of a Riesling.  Larch Tree Hill Riesling is produced in the Okanagan Valley of BC. Riesling grows very well in cool climate wine regions such as Germany, Alsace, and Canada.  Come to think of it, cool climate regions produce the best winter Olympic athletes (outside of the Jamaican bobsledders).

This is a great Winter Olympics wine because Riesling is versatile, a little daring, and is best served cold (for maximum coldness).  It’s being served this month at the Red Brick Café in Guelph – and it is going fast.  That’s right, fast –  just like the skaters, bobsledders, luge, and skeleton events that I am pairing it with.  Skin tight suits are optional. Don’t tell us about it if you do wear one - nobody wants to know.

LARCH TREE HILL RIESLING Prospect Winery 2007
LCBO 145136 | Price: $ 13.95 Okanagan Valley, BC 12.5% Alcohol

This wine has aromas of lime and peaches and has a nice long finish – much longer than a typical Riesling.  The producer’s tasting notes mention hints of fennel and honeysuckle. You will taste the honeysuckle more as the wine warms up.

Larch Tree Hill stands well on its own and would make a great apéritif – serve it very cold while watching the madness that is short-track speed skating and the absolutely terrifyingly insane (or daring) skeleton and luge events – and for the record there is no evidence that “luge” refers to the greek sport of sliding “nude” down ice slides.  That was a complete fabrication on my part.


Jackson Triggs Okanagan Merlot – Olympic pairing

Are you trying to effectively pair wines and Olympic events?  Looking for a wine consultant with a degree in Physical Education? Tired of my questions? Look no further and lend me your ears and palate - it’s time for an Olympic Merlot.  Canada has already won a gold medal so we can all relax and enjoy the next couple of days with a smooth red wine from BC.  This is  the 2nd J-T wine I’ve selected ( Jackson-Triggs Methode Cuvée ) but the first from the Okanagan Valley. I’m not usually a fan of Merlot – they often come across as soft and plummy – however, this one has won me over.  It certainly has a time and a place and the time is now and the place is in front of my TV watching figure skating (the highest rated Olympic TV event in America). I also selected this wine for February’s tastings at the Red Brick Café .

JACKSON-TRIGGS Proprietors’ Reserve Merlot 2006
LCBO 543867 | Price: $ 14.95 Okanagan Valley, BC 14.5% Alcohol

 The first things that strike me about this wine is that it is dark, dark red in colour with a very distinct nose of dried plums.  The flavours of strong concentrated fruit with a touch of smoky oak on the finish are delicious.  It is nicely balanced with some acidity,  long velvety tannins, and an even longer finish.

This wine has figure skating written all over it – especially pairs. Smooth, lovely, mellow – can you think of another Olympic event that compliments Merlot better than that? Maybe curling, if they weren’t yelling “hurry hard – hurry” at me the entire time.


Conflict of Interest

Live in Guelph?  Close to Guelph?  Heard of Guelph?  Have you been to the Red Brick Cafe downtown on Douglas street?  If you haven’t then shame on you.  Guelph has a great downtown and the Red Brick Cafe is one of the finest anywhere.  A European inspired cafe that displays local artists, serves espresso, baked goods, pizza and Panini, but most importantly to pullthecork readers,  it has a delicious wine list.

Here’s where the conflict of interest starts – Shelley Krieger, the owner, lets me select the wines each month so really I am shamelessly promoting myself – but isn’t that what the word “blog” means?  The wine tasting set up is one of the cleverest anywhere (Shelley’s clever idea).  For $8 you get to try three wines, there is no wine snobby person talking you through them. In place of a snooty sommelier you are provided with the tasting notes that I wrote.  The notes are informative, entertaining, easy to read … there I go “blogging” again.

Also, the wines change monthly – for less than $20 a couple you can plan a date night each month and enjoy a changing selection of wines.  Chances are you will run to the LCBO and buy a bottle of your favorite (or buy a half case like I recommended  in Y210K It’s Time to Panic).

For January the wines move to South America where it’s warmer this month than it is in Guelph.  Somehow knowing that makes me feel warmer when tasting these wines.  There is a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a reserve Malbec, and a Carmenere that will warm you inside when it’s snowing outside.

The wine tasting is daily from 11am to 11pm.  The list of wines can be found on the Red Brick Cafe website.


Say it out loud!

The Red Brick Café Wines are Great this December and it’s not just how they taste. They are also fun to say out loud – not usually a selection criteria for me – it just happened.

White Wine

Strewn Riesling / Gewurztraminer from Niagara.

Riesling is my favorite white wine but really what is great about this wine is that I can’t help but smile when I say Gewürztraminer (you have to click here to hear it). Thank goodness for the internet.  Could anyone really pronounce it based on the dictionary help (ɡəˈvʏɐtstʁaˈmi:nɐ)?  Seriously, does anyone consider that helpful?  Personally I like to say it in a lower guttural German sound or yell it like Dana Carvey and Steven Carell in Germans Who Say Nice Things.  That just make the  funnier when you know that the translation of Gewürztraminer is “perfumed Traminer”. Cute huh? Also, I woüld like to üse the ümlaüt whenever I remember (ü).

Red Wines

Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais-Villages from France 2008

Georges DuBoeuf is the King of Beaujolais wines and his Beaujolais-Villages is a step up from Beaujolais vin ordinaire. This is a chance to practice your pretentious French accent.  DuBoeuf, as we all know, really just means “of Boeuf” (Kenn’s regular language joke)– the French have such a way with names.  This Beaujolais is smooth and very quaffable.  You could easily gulp this wine if you were in a hurry.

Bodegas Castaño Hécula Monastrell from Spain 2007

This is also fun to say at a wine tasting– “Now try the Hécula is from Yecla”.  Yecla is a great value wine region in Southeastern Spain near the larger region of Jumilla.  It is a great wine with manly tannins but she’ll like it too! The Monastrell grape is the Spanish version of the French Mourvedre so it probably will remind you of a rustic wine from the Southern Rhône region.  Hécula from Yecla? – heck ya.


November @ the Red Brick Cafe – Australia

 In the hands of the winemaker

When money is no object a great growing season or a great vineyard is what you look for when purchasing a wine.  However, since most of us are on a budget, the best values can be found in the hands of the winemakers.  They can create great wines from humble beginnings – a little science, a little art, a little voodoo? The winemaker can turn an inexpensive grape into a premium wine using subtle winemaking techniques.

The wines this month are based on familiar varietals – Chardonnay and Shiraz – but when blended with other complimentary grapes they become something quite special.  The reds are not the typical bold Shiraz wines that Australia is famous for – rather they are smooth, silky, and sophisticated.

HARDYS Stamp Series Chardonnay Semillon
LCBO 335638 | Price: $ 9.95

Winemakers trick – blend a lime citrus Semillon with a buttery, melon Chardonnay
This is a dry white wine but the nose is sweet, with undertones of sour fruit Skittles (Yes, I said Skittles).  The taste has light sweet nectar taste. Semillon balances out the wine with a clean finish and hints of oaked Chardonnay – not at all overpowering. There is no doubt that Chardonnay is the star but the Semillon makes a case for best supporting actor.

YALUMBA – Y Series Shiraz Viognier
LCBO 624494  | Price: $ 14.95

Winemakers trick – add a small percentage of floral white wine to a deep red Shiraz 
The winemaker at Yalumba Wines has added a small percentage of the white Viognier grape to the otherwise earthy and tobacco Shiraz.  The white wine Viognier adds a scented floral nose and softens the tannins nicely.  The result is a delicate smooth wine that reminds me of a soft-spoken Cotes du Rhone. Pay attention to this wine in order to fully appreciate it.

Yalumba takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and is proud to be the first wine company in the world to receive the Climate Protection Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

That’s pretty cool.

WOLF BLASS – Shiraz Grenache Red Label
LCBO 494336  | Price: $ 14.95
Winemakers trick – gently press the grapes to avoid extracting too much tannin, oak some of the blend

Shiraz Grenache is another Rhone-style blend.  However, some people find the Australian style overly tannic.  In this wine the grapes have been gently pressed to avoid the heavy tannins usually associated with Australian Shiraz.  Some of the harvest is lightly oaked and then blended with the rest of the wine before bottling.  This is a clever way to soften the wine and bring out the ripe fruits of the Shiraz. The wine exhibits rich plum and cherry flavours with a hint of spice.  Smooth and delicious. Thanks Wolf (if that is your real name).

About the Sommelier –Travis Oke travels the world vicariously through the Vintages catalogue and the LCBO shelves.  He is still waiting for an invitation to guest host on the Food Network’s Thirsty Traveler.


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