Summer 2008


Aug 11: Vintages Torbreck Tasting, Barberian's Steakhouse, Toronto, 416-365-5767,


Aug 13: Bobcaygeon Wine & Food Festival, Kawartha Settlers' Village, 705-738-2202,

Aug 22: Languedoc-Roussillon Mini Expo, Currie Hall, National Ballet School, Toronto, Sopexa Canada, 416-921-8400, Ext. 2008

Aug 24: Vintages Henry of Pelham Dinner, Chez Victor, Hôtel Le Germain, Toronto, 416/365-5767, 1-800/266-4764.

Aug 26: Summer Dining with California Wines! Bayne-Morrison House, Ottawa, Jay Hunt, National Capital Sommelier Guild, 613-521-6839,  

Sept 6: Shores of Erie International Wine Festival, Amherstburg/Fort Malden, 519/7301001, OIWSBA Golf & Dinner, Carlisle Golf & Country Club, 416-699-9535,

Sept 8: Grapes for Humanity's Great Re-Stock Your Cellar Event, Miller Tavern, Toronto, a cash-and-carry-a-case event: proceeds assist landmine victims in Nagorno Karabakh in the Southern Caucasus cursed with a mine casualty rate surpassing even Afghanistan and Cambodia, 416-975-8575.

It's Only Natural...

Never drink water that hasn't already passed through a vine.

Words to live by and, in a sense, how Ontario's precious urban waterways can be made healthier in the future.

Wines of France is partnering with Evergreen to restore our rivers and streams, improve water quality, restore ruined ecosystems, and repair the diverse habitats found in urban aquatic environments.

This earth-friendly initiative, launched at the historic Evergreen Brick Works natural refuge in Toronto's Don Valley and future home of Canada's national centre for sustainable cities, will donate a slice of organic French wine sales to Evergreen to improve our battered aquatic habitats and make urban areas greener.

Environmentally friendly reds and whites from Alsace, Rh ô ne and Burgundy will do their part during an in-store LCBO promotion this fall. Increasingly organic, these tasty French wines can be explored via

Check out not-for-profit Evergreen's hands-on commitment to improving our urban environment at


Brand-New French Wines

In a belated move to take back market share from New World wines, France is modernizing its wine sector, focussing on creating brand-name wines rather than staying only with wines from geographic places of origin.

A sweeping new designation, called Wines of France, has looser rules allowing growers higher grape yields and the right to mention variety and vintage on the bottle in the consumer-friendly manner that California, Australia, South Africa, Chile et al have so successfully done for years.

Classic regions such as Burgundy and Bordeaux will continue to cleave to their time-tested rules and labelling - where smaller is better: the smaller place of origin, the tighter the rules and the more concentrated the wine.

So, consumers will have the best of all worlds, with affordable, understandable brand-names from France as well as the labour-intensive, tiny production superstars.

Meanwhile, going greener, the Burgundy wine industry has launched a system to measure its carbon footprint and define ways to reduce it and there are 338 hospitable wine cellars now open, mostly free and English-speaking, to thirsty visitors.

Edging Up

Britain's Firebox Co. sells a bra called WineRack for women on the go.

It holds 750mL of your favorite vintage and adds two full cup sizes to your bustline. You quaff the wine via a tube although whites apparently tend to get warm after a while.

It's out of stock but in the interim you can order a Beerbelly – looks just like a spare tire. Talk about off the radar!

Heavy Going

Beer accounts for 47% of alcohol sales in Canada, down from 52%, while wine comprises 28%, up from 21%.

The surge may be linked with food and wine pairings, says Sherri Haig of the Wine Council of Ontario. "I think its popularity will continue to grow. Wine is a part of everyone's culture and day-to-day experience, particularly with dining and cooking." Red wine sales have surged 130% since 2000, while white increased 33%. Beer sales are $8.42 billion and wine are $5,045 billion.

Mondavi R.I.P.

Dead at 94, Robert Mondavi says in his memoir, Harvests of Joy: How the Good Life Became Great Business, "Wine to me is passion... a blessing, a gift of nature, a joy as pure and elemental as the soil and vines and sunshine from which it springs.

"From the outset, I wanted my winery to draw inspiration and methods from the traditional Old World chateaus of France and Italy, but I also wanted it to become a model of state-of- the-art technology, a pioneer in research and a gathering place for the finest minds in our industry." He'll be missed.


Wine Roots

Crushing the theory that Syrah (alias Shiraz) originated in Shiraz in ancient Persia (now Iran), researchers have traced this lovely grape as the offspring of Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche vines.

Grapevine geneticist Carole Meredith of UC Davis and Jean-Michel Boursiquot at Montpellier set the record straight using DNA testing. Mondeuse Blanche is from France's Savoie region. Dureza is grown in the Ardèche, west of the Rhône River. The union is most likely a random event, but they don't often result in such spectacular offspring. DNA profiling has already found that the noble Chardonnay is the chance scion of Pinot and a Central European grape called Gouais Blanc.

Oh, Nuts!

Stats show we're snacking 10 times a week, and California's walnut growers suggest, guess what? A healthy, flavourful walnut snack.

Why? Walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce heart disease, cancer, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity and clinical depression. Walnuts are second only to blackberries as a source of antioxidants. They give a feeling of fullness and are great for weight management.

De-liver Us

Researchers at UC San Diego have found that drinking one glass of wine a day is safe for the liver and may cut liver disease.

Boot Camp

Immerse yourself in wine at a boot camp for bon vivants and walk in the footsteps of a winemaker for an extreme wine weekend at Peller Estates July 19-20 and August 2-3. You can prune, train and pluck as well as sip, sniff and savor 50 wines and 14 culinary courses, meet a wine thief and learn more about toasting with the experts. Up for a challenge? Call 1-888 673 5537, Ext 2, or see

LCBO Tops $4 Billion

The LCBO sold $4.1 billion in fiscal 2007-08, up 5.5%, delivering $1.345b profit taxes to the government. Wine sales rose 6% to $1.41b. Ontario VQA sales were up 11.8% with winery sales up 6.2%. Imports were up 5.9%. Red wines were up 6.6%, whites up 6.4%. Wines $15-$20 topped all price bands, up 19.3%. Vodka led spirits, up 9%. On a smaller base, Tequila rose 12.3%.

Château Varoom!

Prince Charles has shrunk his carbon footprint by running his Aston Martin, a present from the Queen, on fuel made from (spoiled) English wine.

His secretary says: "The bioethanol is from English wine. Charles drives his Volante only in summer and clocks up 300 miles a year. His Jaguars, Audi and Range Rovers run on biodiesel from cooking oil. Bon appetit!


Table Smarts

A Maple City, Michigan man and his son are creating garden furniture from wine bottles donated by local vintners.

Tom and Ben Kleinfelter make table tops and basins from bottles they fuse with heat. "We're as committed to recycling as the wineries we've approached," says Tom Kleinfelter of Leelanau Garden Furniture and Fountains.

Sure Lie

From the grower: All our slopes face south. Our harvest is in the hands of the gods. We're rediscovering local grape varieties. We buy all our barrels from first-growths.

From the winery: Our wines are like children – some take longer than others to develop. It is the best vintage this decade. Our winemaker thinks this wine is really interesting. I am an artist. I paint with colours when I make my wine. Chaptalize? Never! We picked before the rain, unlike our neighbors. All the wine is stored in oak barrels. We never use oak chips"

From the merchant: Buy this wine. It's expensive but it won't give you a hangover. This wine was made to go with food. There is no such thing as a bad vintage nowadays.

From the sommelier: A gentleman of your standing would require a wine of quality. Fine food requires fine wine, regardless of the price. The mustiness, as you prefer to call it, is a hallmark of great Bordeaux.

From the consumer: I don't know much about wine but I do know what I like. I'm not a wine snob, I've just got expensive tastes.

From the wine critic: I always spit when tasting....


Barely recovered from a smoking ban the French are bracing for the next novelty in their bistros: a breathalyzer. The government has submitted a decree to require 44,000 cafes, bars, restaurants and nightclubs to install the devices by Jan. 1. Use of the breathalyzers would be voluntary.

High Spirits

The world's top ten spirits brands, according to Intangible Business, are Smirnoff; Johnnie Walker; Bacardi; Martini; Hennessy; Absolut; Jack Daniels; Chivas Regal; Baileys; and Ballantines.


Pennsylvania plans to operate 100 wine kiosks in grocery stores.

The refrigerated machines hold 500 bottles and have ID measures like fingerprints and biometrics, and users have to register. Machines selling alcohol already operate in Japan, Singapore and some European countries.

TGIF Delivers

The busiest day for ordering-in food is Friday (marrieds order the most).

Some 47% want a treat, while 46% are too busy to cook. More than a third order in when entertaining and 36% enjoy wine with the food, with 45-49 year-olds enjoying wine with delivery food the most (41%).


High Flier

Times may be tougher but a Beijing billionaire just dropped $500,000 on 27 bottles of wine, Romanée Conti, a red Burgundy with only 450 cases produced each year.

The client bought twelve '78s, two of the '61, '66, '96 and '03 and singles of the '81, '90, '92, '95, '99, '01 and '02.

"It is the highest price ever for a single lot," says Stephen Williams of the London- based Antique Wine Company. "I don't think he's bought this as an investment - he has bought it to drink," he adds. "The fine wine industry is completely immune from the global credit crunch."

Williams believes this sale marks a significant change in Chinese wine buying habits."In the past, the Chinese have been drawn to the magnificent but simplistic qualities of the wines from the great chateaux of Bordeaux. Now, our leap in sales of Domaine de la Romanée Conti to mainland China this year in particular is indicating a broadening of their fine wine education and appreciation to the more complex wines of Burgundy."

The highest prices for fine wines are for extremely special bottles, for example, those that reputedly came out of Thomas Jefferson's cellar. In his day, wine bottles were not labelled, so Jefferson poured the premium wines he imported in casks from Europe into bottles etched with his initials. Malcolm Forbes, the late publisher of Forbes' magazine, set a record in 1985 when he paid $162,750, for a 1787 bottle of Château Lafitte. In 2006 the Antique Wine Company sold the world's most expensive bottle of white wine, a Château d'Yquem 1787 for just under $100,000.

Case Study

Wine's been shown to be good for your heart, and it might protect against dementia.

The University of Gothenburg revisited 1,458 women who were part of a population study in 1968. They had been asked to report how often they drank wine, beer and liquor.

Fifty years later, 162 had dementia, and the ones who drank wine were in a minority compared to beer or liquor drinkers.

"The group with the lowest proportion of dementia reported that the only alcohol they drank was wine," said Lauren Lissner, who directed the study.

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