Am participating in the 30-day drink local wines (Ontario) challenge and on the journey have discovered a few real gems. But not just wines. There are two Canadian hard liquor products that really stand out as well. OK. One is really from the Ukraine but it is imported by a group here in Oakville and it represents the greatest value in the ultra-premium vodka category you can imagine. Slava is the product and I encourage you to check it out for a few reasons: they're running a very clever promotion right now; the product is excellent; the packaging is smart and plays a major role in keeping the pricing reasonable ($28.00 at LCBO). http://www.slavavodka.com/
Staying on the hard liquour front, we all of us tend to think either of England or the Netherlands as the source of the best gins and granted there are many exceptional products from those countries and others. What may surprise you is learning that one of the best I've ever enjoyed is the recently launched Victoria gin from British Columbia. If you're someone who enjoys a flavourful gin - either in martini or mixed - this is a product well worth adding to your bar. Probably best with minimum dilution from my perspective but either way it is a wonderfully surprise. Winner of the Silver Medal in 2009 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition is - a well-deserved honour. $49.95 at LCBO. http://www.victoriaspirits.com/
So, turning to the wines, let me share my thoughts on three products with you. Wine snob alert - I will not be employing all the flowery language used normally to describe wines - I wouldn't know a pencil shaving from a grapefruit. I just really like these.
In the premium-priced, premium-experience white wine category my clear winner is the Daniel Lenko 2005 Signature Chardonnay. While I'd love to have this as my everyday white a $39.95 price at LCBO forbids that but for special friends...buy it. http://www.daniellenko.com/
In the red category, the 2007 Mottiar Pinot Noir from Malivoire is a delight. Again, at $34.00 at LCBO this won't be your daily sipper, but a real treat. A bit of advice, very good advice frankly, from Mr. Pinkus, is to let this beauty breathe for an hour or before pouring. http://www.malivoirewineco.com/
Finally, for a very reasonably-priced high-enjoyment white you cannot and will not go wrong with the Chateau des Charmes estate bottled, barrel fermented 2007 Chardonnay. Am I a bit biased? They are a client so maybe but I cannot encourage you enough to experience this great product from an exceptional year. $13.95 at LCBO. http://www.chateaudescharmes.com/
AND...check out the new packaging. Several months ago I wrote a piece on this blog about another wine company which recreated its packaging. In the article titled "A sound only a dog can hear" I wondered why they'd gone to such trouble to make so little and so irrelevant change. The Bosc family at Chateau des Charmes are relaunching the entire line of products and have made enormous strides forward on several fronts. New corporate identity. Recategorized products. Improved product differentiation at shelf. Vastly improved shelf presence. And, if you check out the back label you'll notice a QR code. To my knowledge Chateau des Charmes is the first winery in Canada and one of the first globally to introduce this new technology.
Check it out and kudos to the Boscs for an excellent product and the courage to move forward.