The Cellar Salon Series: Fireside Wines to Warm The Cockles of Your County Hearts

I’d invited a sommelier friend to the Cellar Salon last Tuesday and mentioned that the week’s theme would be “Fireside Wines”. He texted back: Fireside Wines. You know I’m a professional, right? I laughed. A lot. So okay, yes—maybe it too lighthearted a title for a wine tasting salon, but the intent was never to use smoke and mirrors with a bamboozling effect—we were under several feet of snow and the cold had just settled into all of our bones for the winter. I felt like the notion of creamy oaked Chards, sweet Rieslings, and hearty reds stood up perfectly to this theme, not to mention, an excuse to move the party into the drawing room in front of a roaring fire was too good to pass up. The concept obviously resonated with the crowd too, because we had a full complement of friends show up and a delightful session with some good wine. The lesson here is: perhaps, my lovely wine geek friends should tease me less and drink with me more!

Astrid on Fireside Wines

There’s nothing like a satisfying glass of wine by the fireside on a cold wintery day (or night). Our Fireside Wines lineup leant towards Syrah and fuller bodied reds, but it also included some interesting white wines to fill the soul and warm the heart. I chose wines that were sure to bring loving feelings; richly textured and sometimes decadent, they encourage you to pull your loved ones close, slow down, and enjoy the moment while it lasts. If we must endure yet another Canadian winter, we might as well do it with a smile.

Most Memorable Wine

We staggered the lineup slightly this week to include 5 County and 4 Elsewhere instead of the usual 6/3 —just to shake things up. On the County side, Stanners hit the mark again with their lovely riesling that was a stand out for many. For me, the champ for me this week was on the elsewhere side: The Rioja from Viña Bujanda (a lot of the us agreed) was a wine that showed well over its price point and one we’ll definitely be drinking at MH again, while Lionel Faury‘s Saint-Joseph tied for most memorable from abroad.

County

Stanners Vineyard | Riesling | Ontario 2016

A blend of Niagara and county fruit, the wine shows great concentration on the nose, replete with lemon drop freshness, rose petals, and hints of brioche. Rich on the palate with creamy overtones and notes of apple, lime, and freshly baked bread.

By Chadsey’s Cairns | Aromatic Blend | “White Horse” | Hillier 2016

A gorgeous aromatic blend of riesling, gewürztraminer, and chardonnay showing a distinct and exotic floral character with sweet citrus notes on the nose, a broad mid-palate with just the right touch of tangy acidity to balance the fruit.

Huff Estates | Merlot | South Bay, PEC 2017

Spicy with foresty, herbal notes of sage and bay leaf on the nose, wrapping a core of black and red bramble berries. Finishes with fine tannins and earthy notes.

Morandin Wines Syrah | Lizak Vineyards, Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula 2014

Opens with spicy and grilled aromas underscoring ripe, red berries and an anise note. Rich and ripe on the mid palate with a savory, peppery finish.

Three Dog Winery | Baco Noir | “Double Barrel” Sophiasburg, PEC 2018

Vanilla and creamed coffee notes over cedar, milk chocolate, and a sweet cherry-bomb core. The finish echoes the nose with soft, rustic, persistent tannins.

Elsewhere

Stag’s Leap | Viognier | Napa Valley, California 2016

Intense, lifted aromas stone fruit and honeysuckle with hints of white pepper. The palate is rich and juicy with apricot, white peaches, baked apple, and anise notes. Highly textured and generous through and through, finishes long with a waft of baking bread.

Viña Bujanda | Rioja Reserva | Spain 2012

Tobacco and slightly balsamic on the nose with hints of fresh fig and plum preserves, opens fresh and elegant on the palate and builds with leather and mocha over a savory, minerally finish replete with dusty tannins.

Domaine Ouleb Thaleb | Syrah | “Syrocco” Zenata, Morocco 2015

Expressive and complex nose of black and dried fruits. Palate is deep and earthy, with dried red cherries followed by sandalwood, spice, and grilled meat.

Lionel Faury | Saint-Joseph | “Hedonism” France 2016

Earthy, meaty, and yet vibrantly fruity on the nose with the slightest notes of black and green olives. The palate is chewy and ripe with abundant plums and savoury garden herbs that inform the finish, which is both languid and unforgivably tempting.

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