Here’s what’s in December’s Toronto Life Wine Club box
In December’s Toronto Life Wine Club delivery, you’ll find everything you need to set the mood for holiday festivities. There’s an elegant sparkler from Prince Edward County and two contrasting reds: a silky gamay and a deep and delicious cabernet franc. Orders must be placed by Nov. 30.
Domaine Queylus Réserve du Domaine Cabernet Franc 2016
Retail $37 | St. Ann’s
Why we’re into this wine: We’re big fans of everything the wizardly winemaker Thomas Bachelder touches. At Domaine Queylus, Bachelder and winemaker Kelly Mason craft terroir-focused wines meant to express the unique properties of the vineyard. This organic cabernet franc defines the excellence the grape can achieve in Ontario: The hand-harvested fruit spent 14-to-16 months in barrels; only about 20 per cent were new oak, meaning the “oakiness” is apparent not as flavour but as a textural enhancement to the wine. It’s all elegance, all the way and a real head-turner.
What it tastes like: This is a silk-and-dark-berry delight, subtly revealing of deep and delicious fruit (plum, cassis) and spice. The cab franc signature violets are there along with a lovely peppery undertone. Tannins are medium and fine and the length goes on for days.
How to drink it: Sip it by the fireplace or pair it with dishes like lamb roast with rosemary, grilled wild boar, prime rib roast or anything with wild mushrooms.
Tip: Decant this for an hour to encourage the florals and fruity notes to open up.
Cuvée Peter F. Huff Sparkling 2015
Retail $40 | Bloomfield
Why we’re into this wine: It has become de rigueur to note that Ontario’s traditional-method sparkling wines can compete toe-to-toe with the French and come out on top. But this wasn’t always the case. Founded in 2004, Prince Edward County’s Huff Estates was the first winery in Prince Edward County to make sparkling using the traditional—a.k.a. Champagne—method. By 2006, this wine won double gold at the All Canadian Wine Championships and has gone on to pick up two Lieutenant’s Governor’s Awards of Excellence along with many more golds. It remains a winner, and a pioneer in the County, to this day.
What it tastes like: Flavours of toasted croissant and nuts hover over a bed of apple and pear. This wine is maturing from fresh to evolved flavours, with complex low tones of spice and mineral adding layers to the high notes of pear and vanilla. Lots going on here!
How to drink it: A muscular sparkling wine like this can be enjoyed on its own but should certainly be deployed with fresh seafood (oysters or sushi), smoked salmon with cream cheese on a really good baguette, Thai dishes or a mild Indian curry.
Tip: Compare this wine to a prosecco—always easy to find at any holiday party—and observe the difference in weight, flavour, length and texture of the mousse, or bubbles. Bam. You’ve just been schooled in traditional method sparkling wine.
Southbrook Gamay 2017
Retail $24.95 | Niagara-on-the-Lake
Why we’re into this wine: Winemaker Ann Sperling has a deft touch with so-called “natural” wines. She’s a non-interventionist by nature—she calls herself a “winegrower”— so working within the organic and biodynamic tenets of Niagara’s Southbrook winery is just the way she likes to do things. And it shows in all of her wines. This gamay is a pefect introduction to her style, partly because it’s so darn drinkable.
What it tastes like: Gamay is one of the great food wines. But it’s also a lovely sipper. How can it be both? Low tannins, moderate alcohol and little bright acidity make for a delicious, balanced and easy drinking wine that allows the fruit to shine. This gamay is expressive with concentrated blue and tangy red berry fruit and a hint of earthiness.
How to drink it: This juicy, zippy wine is a wonderful sipper and a perfect match with charcuterie and pizza. It’ll love salty snacks too. You don’t have to get fancy.
Tip: Gamay likes a little chill. Not cold, just a shiver to add to the refreshing quality of the fruity berries.