Here’s what’s in the September Toronto Life Wine Club box
For the second Toronto Life Wine Club delivery, we’ve chosen wines for the perfect al fresco dinner party. Start with appetizers and a celebrated Ontario sparkler, serve a light starter with a delicious rosé and pair your main course with a voluptuous red from Ontario’s gamay specialist. Orders must be placed by Aug. 31.
Hinterland Les Étoiles Method Traditional 2014
Retail $39 | Hillier, ON
Why we’re into this wine: Winery owners Vicki Samaras and Jonas Newman founded their winery in Prince Edward County in 2007 with a commitment to make only sparkling wine—and to make the best Ontario had ever seen. They quit their Toronto jobs, bought a farm, learned how to grow and make wine and won a ton of awards for their wines, not to mention a loyal following among wine critics and the wine lovers. They’ve since branched out to make ciders and a little bit of spectacular syrah, but Les Étoiles is their flagship, made with 55 per cent pinot noir and 45 per cent chardonnay, and aged over 36 months. It’s a serious competitor to champagnes at two or three times the price.
What it tastes like: An elegant and complex sparkler, with citrus, apple and brioche notes. It’s bone dry and refreshing, with zippy acidity and a long, long finish.
How to drink it: A wine this good goes with just about anything, from light citrus and spice to rich and fatty dishes. Seafood is a slam-dunk, especially ceviche, shellfish and oysters. Drink this with something you love.
Tip: Hinterland’s charming property near Hillier is jam-packed on weekends, so get there early if you’re planning a visit.
Malivoire Small Lot Gamay 2017
Retail $19.95 | Beamsville, ON
Why we’re into this wine: Gamay is the red wine that everybody loves, but it often plays second or third fiddle to so many other reds simply because most people don’t know about it. But Malivoire winemaker Shiraz Mottiar is obsessed with the grape and its famed homeland in the Beaujolais region of Burgundy. This 2017 bottle loves food and good company, and is a beautiful example of the wine at its most approachable and unpretentious.
What it tastes like: Fresh cherry, blueberry and strawberry—yes, that’s classic gamay. It’s silky smooth, bright and fresh, but has some bite too—a little bit of tannin grip and some spicy complexity.
How to drink it: Gamay fans love this style all on its own, but it’s a versatile wine, playing nicely with all kinds of grilled and roasted meats—poultry, flat iron steak, burgers, pork chops—as well as snackier foods like charcuterie, pizza and poutine. Try it with a rare beef tenderloin. Magic.
Tip: Gamay at its best is all about the bright berry flavours. Chilling the wine a little bit helps emphasize that zippiness and refreshing loveliness.
Honsberger Rosé 2017
Retail $24 | Jordan, ON
Why we’re into this wine: This small family farm used to grow cherries and other fruits, but the owners took the plunge into wine in 2007, planting cabernet franc and riesling grapes. Today, the farm teems with livestock and exudes all the bustle of a busy working farm. Winemaker Kelly Mason tends the vineyards and oversees the entire winemaking process. Her delightful rosé is made with 100 per cent cabernet franc in a delicate but concentrated Provençal style. It’s absolutely delicious, but the shimmering copper-salmon colour is a sight to behold. This is a rare gem, as only the tiniest quantities of this wine are made each year.
What it tastes like: When you’re done remarking on its beauty, a sip of this wine brings flavours of ripe melon, cherry and strawberry along with a silky texture and nice, bracing acidity. This is a rosé with a lovely weight and texture, perfect for food as it can take on heavier fare. But you might just love it solo.
How to drink it: This wine is pretty much perfection all on its own, but you’ll want to take Mason’s advice and pair it with one of Honsberger’s own salami and soppressetta pizzas. So think charcuterie and salty things, plus tomato sauce and melty soft cheeses. This wine has some weight, so will love bigger dishes like chicken cacciatore or coq au vin.
Tip: Chill this wine nicely, but don’t make it too icy, which will disarm the harmony of flavours and texture. Use a proper wine glass—no tumblers allowed.