Peller Estates Limited Edition Founder’s Series 2003 Vidal Icewine

Peller Estates 2003 Vidal Icewine

Peller Estates Limited Edition Founder’s Series 2003 Vidal Icewine

Wednesday night is #ONWineChat on Twitter. I try to open an Ontario Wine and with this week’s topic being #Cuvee2014 that is coming up in a couple weeks I thought a wine was needed to reflect the grand nature of a Cuvée Gala. I had put this bottle in the fridge for two weeks prior but didn’t end up opening it. Tonight was the night to open this aged Icewine, one of bottles I have had in my cellar the longest. I can’t remember exactly where I got this, but I think it was on sale many years at the local LCBO. I really like aged Icewines for the added luxury that time gives.

Peller Estates 2003 Vidal Icewine A gorgeous golden hue

Peller Estates Limited Edition Founder’s Series 2003 Vidal Icewine
A gorgeous golden hue

The colour of golden glory, a deep burnt yellow. The nose was Sherry-like at first with roasted nutty sweetness, changing to notes of freshly pulled Laur’s Butterscotch and Lemon Salt Water Taffy from their booth at the Norfolk County Fair. Beautiful wife thought the nose had a hint of hard maple candy and apricots.

The mouthfeel is smooth like silk, a luxurious sweetness balanced by refined acidity, not cloying at all, vibrant in an aged way, with a whisper of winter softened tannins. Candied pineapple, preserved lemon, lanolin and happiness. Beautifully rotten grape juice.

Fruit Plus – Feeding Kids Healthy Food

Fruit Salad...Yummy Yummy!

Fruit Salad…Yummy Yummy!

I think it is important to give back. Be it financially, or with my time and expertise. To that end I have volunteered at my oldest daughter’s school, Caledon East Public School, to help with the Fruit Plus program. This program, formerly called Fruit First, has the mandate of giving children a healthy snack to supplement whatever they bring in their lunch. Every-other Tuesday myself and a group of other parents (all Moms, I am the only Dad) meet at the school and prepare and serve some sort of snack to the children that have signed up for the program. Currently we have approximately 100 students enrolled.

So far this school year we have served apple slice Christmas trees with cereal ornaments and Cheerio trunks, fruit salad with yogourt, cheese/apples/grapes, warm apple cider and fruit smoothies. Each snack contains a minimum of a fruit/vegetable but we also try to include a grain of some sort.

I get a lot of satisfaction in participating in this program. For one, it allows me to see my daughter in her school setting, a chance to come by with the cart of snacks to say hello and give her a hug. There is also a re-connection to my school days, days that were very good for me. I enjoyed school from an early age, always enjoyed learning as well as teaching, it was a way for me to better comprehend what I was learning by taking it in, mulling it over and then helping others to understand it as well. Just being back in a school takes me back to all that time I spent over the years participating in the school culture. I also hope to give the kids an appreciation for the food they put in their bodies. Of course it should taste good and be nutritious, but it should also bring happiness, a sense of joy to the body and soul. This is one of the main reasons I like to cook, to give others the chance to feel the joy I get from eating. Life’s most simple pleasure, a good meal.

Wine that smells of memories

Gifted Homemade Jug o' WineA knock on my door this evening had my brother-in-law from three doors down my street handing me a 4 litre jug of homemade wine he had just received from his next-door Italian neighbours. I know this jug is from this past year’s vintage, freshly capped, still young and vibrant. With today being Wednesday I usually log on to the #ONWineChat on Twitter so I decided that this recently gifted wine was going to be my Ontario Wine for the evening. I poured myself a glass, recapped the jug, sat down to watch Surviorman, enjoy the #ONWineChat and try this mysterious wine. I asked my beautiful wife to take a smell and tell me what she could pick out. After recoiling in horror she said “Chewing tabacco and raw sewage”, not enticing enough to make her take a sip.

Nose in, eyes closed, deep inhale. The initial aroma was harsh, like having an open zipper rubbed along the inside of my nose. A mixture of fresh cedar roof shingles, rubbing alcohol, windshield washer fluid and menthol cigarettes (still in the package). With time it opened up slightly to an odour of freshly stepped-on mushrooms. The palate was balanced with turpentine, watered down mouthwash and burnt pencil shavings. The finish was long and repugnant making me try another sip to try and clear the last, a self-induced vortex of punishment. I look forward to trying this wine in the future to see how it progresses (or regresses?!) with time.

In the house I grew up in we had a room that was the connecting room between the living room and the bathroom. We called it the “room off the bathroom” that held a sideboard, desk and curio cabinet that were inherited by my father when his parents passed away. The desk held various old papers and and had family pictures on top, the curio cabinet held my mother’s Royal Doulton figurines and other various knick-knacks gifted to her by myself and my siblings. On the sideboard, beside the crystal decanter and cocktail set, was a sterling silver jewelry box lined with cedar that held a few small pins, cuff links and tie clips. The smell and taste of this wine is the same smell as that cedar-lined box, not in an appetizing way but in a way that takes you back to a memory – a wisp of a time and place that you remember in the annuls of your mind that comes crashing back when you hear a certain song, taste a familiar taste or smell a whiff of your own personal history. I am thankful for this unexpected gift of homemade plonk and the flood of memories it induced.

2004 Wildass Red – Stratus Winery

2004 Wildass Red – Stratus Winery

I picked up this bottle on a trip to Niagara in 2007 with a group of friends as we went down to Niagara Falls for a birthday (Glen I believe) and we stopped at a couple wineries on our way down to the Falls. Actually, more than a couple, slightly more than a few. If I remember correctly there were 9 stops before we headed to Canyon Creek Steakhouse at Fallsview Casino for a great diner. This gong-show winery tour, and by gong-show I mean that they would have never hit that big gong as they would’ve wanted to see what happened next as we cruised from one winery to the next, getting sloppier and sloppier as we went. I tend to remember we hit, in no particular order; Maleta, Pondview, Stratus, Pilliteri, Angel’s Gate, Thirty Bench, Kacaba, Lailey and Peller Estates. I remember clearly that Peller was our last stop as we had just finished a screw-top bottle of Riesling from Angel’s Gate (which was excellent) on the way over. I took a little longer doing my tastings at Peller, having squirrelled my way upstairs to the  “exclusive” tasting bar to sample some of the older vintages. I walked out to the parking lot to see one of our group (who shall remained unnamed) cracking open a bottle of the Peller Ice Cuvee purchased moments before and passing it around brown-bag style, just without the brown bag. We unanimously decided, after quickly finishing the bottle, our winery tour had been successful and headed towards the Falls.

2004 Wildass Red

Stratus 2004 Wildass Red

I am a big fan of Stratus’ 2nd label, Wildass. My first taste of Wildass came at an Orangeville restaurant, 199 (named after it’s address 199 Broadway Avenue, in downtown Orangeville) a couple years previously. Some of my most cherished bottles in my cellar are Stratus wines and it is one of my must-visit stops whenever I get down to the Niagara area. This was my last bottle of 2004 Wildass Red, thankfully still have 2005 through 2009 to enjoy in the future. A Wildass was requested by my brother-in-law for Sunday Dinner to go with Smoked Chicken, Scalloped Potates, Sautéed Zucchini and Buttered Carrots. When it comes to food-wine pairings I tend to follow the good food-good wine theory, picking a good wine to go with the good food I prepare.

I really like wine that smells and tastes like flowers and rocks. With time this 2004 Wildass Red opened to notes of violets, red fruits (cherry, red currents, raspberries). The red fruits were replayed on the palate along with sweet tannins that were silky smooth and totally delicious, like flat limestone river rocks that were thrown through a berry patch. The finish made me want to keep drinking this down in gulps, with all of my willpower needed to prevent me from guzzling it. Thankfully I was able to savour every sip, taking my time to thoughtfully remember the trip on which it was acquired. At 10 years of age this doesn’t have much longevity left, if you happen to have any in your cellar I would suggest a sooner-rather-than-later timeframe for drinking. But please, if you do have some old Wildass, enjoy it with good company. And as you open it think of screw-top Rieslings and slugs of sparkling wine straight from the bottle in winery parking lots.

My last bottle of Wildass 2004 Red

Balancing the Balance

Symmetric Religious Symbols

Symmetric Religious Symbols

The search for balance is eternal, it is a part of everything we are and all the we know. The struggle for balance can take many forms depending on the subject. Take anything, ANYTHING you can think of. It can be a physical object, a thought or feeling, an idea. What would be the state at which it is in harmony with itself? When would you consider it in balance? How would it get there? What would hold it back from achieving balance? Could there be more than one state of balance?

The symbolism used for balance includes many different themes and imagery. The scale, yin-yang, day and night, good vs. evil, happiness and sadness, sickness and health. Balance with the material, balance in your environment, balance within yourself.

Balance within yourself. Balance with yourself. Balancing one’s self is the essential first step before you tackle any other type of balance, be it with another person, where you are, what you do, what may come, what has been. Inner reflection and the constant journey towards a state of equilibrium.

I write of balance as I hope it gives you chance to stop and ponder what balance means to you, in yourself and then all other things that are in your reality. What is your equal point, that state of being when your heart and soul are at ease?