Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment. Cheers! - Bethany

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Vindication: Cold-hardy Marquette

Past hybrid selections from Smokie Ridge
You all know how passionate and mother-hen protective I am about hybrid grapes. We live in a cold climate with some pretty harsh winters, so it only makes sense to plant and grow vines that can stand up to -30 windchill by hibernating underground like so many vinous groundhogs.

Thus, I was thrilled to read the VQA has accepted Marquette as a legit grape variety. This means growers can sell wine made from this grape in the LCBO and at farmers' markets. WOOT!

Monday, January 21, 2019

The plus side of Blue Monday

It's about ten thousand degrees below zero here in Ottawa. I keep waiting for the Night King and his army of White Walkers to come in "just to warm up."

But here in my kitchen, it's warm and cozy. I'm sipping on what's left of a Stanners Vineyard 2016 Riesling (PEC), its sharp, green-apple tang and zesty feel making me think of spring. Eventually. We'll get there. (By the way, I only have one bottle left of Stanners' 2016 Pinot Gris cuivré, all salmon-y and copper-coloured with a bit of effervescence on the tongue. Pity, they're all sold out.)

Winter is, by far, much preferred to the oppressive swelter of mid-summer. As the Doodle put it so eloquently, "when it's cold out, just put on more layers until you're warm. When it's hot, well ... you can only get so naked." Wise words.

Some refer to this day as Blue Monday. But let's be honest, that kind of a day belongs firmly in November, where the days start getting shorter and colder, the leaves have all fallen off the trees, it's not quite cold enough for snow so this wretched, soul-sucking rain keeps falling. The clocks go back an hour, and we all cry when 4:30 p.m. hits and it's dark as midnight outside. Then come the endless stretches of that melancholic, grey misery of "overcast", usually supplemented by freezing drizzle or wet, sloppy snow. Or raging blizzards that make me want to burrow ever-deeper into a state of human hibernation.

January? We've made it to the new year. Sure, it's cold as hell, but the days have started getting longer. The sky is bright, clear, baby-blue, and the sun dazzles. Every extra second of that glorious light is cherished as it lingers later and later into each day. There is hope.

Keep on keeping on, Ottawa. It won't be winter forever.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

What's New: Local Grapes, Cold Climate Success

Going "off-vine" for a few months leaves me woefully clueless on what's new in the world of wine. So it's no surprise that I've only recently heard of (relative) newcomers Stone Crop Acres and Clos du Vully.

Stone Crop Acres Winery and Vineyard is based in Morrisburg, Ontario. Owner and certified sommelier Norene Hyatt-Gervais planted her vines in 2007, laying in cold climate varieties like Marquette, Louise Swenson and Frontenac Gris. Initially, Hyatt-Gervais sold off her fruit to other buyers, but in 2016, she decided it was time to start making her own wine. (Back in the day, her dad was buying grapes for his home brew, which percolated in demi-johns in the basement ... not like what some folks do, with the whole Rubbermaid bins covered in cheesecloth ...)

The first vintages were released this year, just in time for the grand opening in July of the tasting room and retail shop. Four whites and a Nouveau-style red that sold out in a month. Stone Crop's first barrel-aged red, a Frontenac Noir/Cabernet Franc blend, will be the highlight at the winery's Christmas Cheer event, starting this Saturday, December 9.

Vignoble Clos du Vully is run by winemaker and grape grower Jan Daniel-Etter with his partner Anne Grenon. Together they tend five thousand vines of cold-hardy grapes and craft artisanal whites, reds and rosés, both sweet and dry, from their own fruit and from extra procured from growers in Niagara-on-the-Lake. In May 2016, they opened the doors of their barn-turned-tasting room and welcome guests every Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., year-round. Gift baskets, gift certificates and wine (of course!) are all available for purchase.

Need some other ideas for the holidays? Skip the malls and day-trip to some of these local gems for great wine and merrymaking:

Domaine Perrault, Navan - Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 11-5, until December 24. Marilys has got to be one of my favourite rosés; the reds are big, robust and perfect for long winter nights.

Jabulani Vineyard and Winery, Richmond - The winery's annual Christmas event will be held on December 9-10 and 16-17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy mulled wine, hot chocolate and nibbles with a side of live music. All it costs is a donation (either cash or non-perishable food items) to the Richmond Food Bank.

KIN Vineyards, of Carp, Ontario, will be at the Christmas edition of the Ottawa Farmers' Market this year. Find them in the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne this weekend and next.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Wineau Abroad: Wines from Afar

A few notes on some of the selections my globe-trotting Hubby has brought back for me (us) to enjoy ...

Weingut Familie Pitnauer 2015 Bienenfresser Zweigelt Reserve (Göttlesbrunn, Austria) - "Bienenfresser" is the German name for the European bee-eater, a small, colourful, swallow-like bird, as depicted on the label. Wild nose of cloves, raspberries and a hint of green pepper. Medium-bodied with fairly high acid and tannin levels. The wild fruit carries along the palate, accompanied by smoked meat and peppercorn. The finish, while dry texture-wise, explodes with jammy fruit flavours.

Weingut Okonomierat Rebholz 2015 Riesling Troken (Pfalz, Germany) - Brilliant gold with pale green highlights. Nose and palate tangy with green apple, petrol and lime zest. High acid, bordering on effervescent. Sharp and slightly metallic on the finish, with the fruit coming up a bit short. Biz trip to Berlin, Germany, 2016.

(PS, quick lesson on how to read a German wine label : Ökonomierat = an honour awarded to a deserving agriculturalist; weingut = vineyard property; Pfalz = wine region in Germany; Rebholz = family name of proprietor.)

Cave St-Pierre 2012 Johannisberg de Chamoson (Valais, Switzerland) - Also known as sylvaner, this wine glows with a deep gold colour tinged with a lime-green edge. Redolent with talcum powder, mango, papaya and fresh honey, and a viscous, creamy texture that coats the palate. Best with food, begs for fondue/raclette.

Celliers de Meknes Chateau Roslane 2013 Premier Cru Les Coteaux de l'Atlas (El Hajeb, Morocco) - This was a fantastic find, something that would definitely be worth ordering a case of, if I can find the Canadian distributor. In the glass, a regal garnet/plum colour that is slightly brickish. Overwhelming nose of jam, cherries, cedar, rosemary and pepper, followed by a light-to-medium body and mid-range acid/tannin balance. The exotic spice mix gets some cinnamon added to it, and the tangy fruit rounds out the finish.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

It's Been Too Long

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. Sometimes it hits you with a one-two sucker punch to the gut. Or a bullet to the head.
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