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Matthew Sullivan's Profile

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2008 Nouveau Beaujolais

Has anyone else tried the 2008 release of Nouveau Beaujolais?

It usually gets a pretty bad rap (wrap?) but I thought this year was nicely acidic and refreshing, although I am a little skeptical of those bottles selling for more than $10. I'd like to know what other people think...

Mulled Wine in Toronto

Kalendar in Little Italy usually has some wine mulling. It's not a British Pub, but has lovely decor - lots of wood, gilt, and mirrors. I find the food a little overpriced but the ambience usually makes up for it.

Here are their coordinates:

546 College Street
Toronto, ON M6G 1B1
(416) 923-4138

2006 Le Clos Jordanne (Ontario Wine)

Le Clos Jordanne's premium wines ("The Grand Clos Chardonnay" and "Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir") are both now available through the LCBO's Classics Catalogue. I believe you can also order the 2006 vintage directly by contacting the winery at http://www.leclosjordanne.com.

The 2006 Pinots are their best ever in my view. They are extremely light because it was such a cruddy year weather-wise, but they've parlayed the lightness into an enduring elegance. La Petite Vineyard is especially worthwhile.

I've posted complete tasting notes for the Pinots here:
http://www.lawandstyle.ca/index.php?o...

I'll post my tasting notes of the Chardonnays in a couple days. They have gobs of oak, but it is very well-integrated and buoyed by the fruit. Great complexity this year.

Matthew Sullivan
The Short Cellar
www.lawandstyle.ca/shortcellar

Nov 10, 2008
Matthew Sullivan in Wine

Ontario Wine: Beamsville vs. Niagara

I've been writing/drinking/thinking a lot about Beamsville, Ontario lately:

http://www.lawandstyle.ca/index.php?o...

A friend of mine responded to one of my columns with the question of whether Beamsville is edging out Niagara in terms of quality. While I am hesitant about generalities, I believe the answer must be "yes".

NIagara is cursed with fertile soil and big plots of land - the perfect ingredients for large wineries that spend most of their time and energy producing cheap, unremarkable wines for a voracious but undemanding market in southern Ontario (especially Toronto). Not that all Niagara wineries are huge (or that all of the huge wineries make bad wine - Henry of Pelham's Barrel Fermented Chardonnay is splendid, for example) - but this commercial focus on mass producing wine is the trend in Niagara.

Beamsville, on the other hand, does not have particularly rich soil. This is wonderful. It keeps the vineyard yields low. Fewer grapes on the vine. Every winemaker I have ever met in Beamsville repeats "low yields" like a mantra. Most take great pains to ensure that their vines produce less rather than more fruit. This concentrates the flavours in fewer grapes, and gives the wines complexity and depth.

This has the side effect of preventing any of the wineries from getting too big, forcing them to rely on quality instead of quantity. The result: Le Clos Jordanne, Hidden Bench, Daniel Lenko, Thirty Bench. All are raising Ontario wines to a new level.

That's my two cents. I wonder how others see it. Have I been drinking too much?

Matthew Sullivan
The Short Cellar
www.lawandstyle.ca/shortcellar
matthew@lawandstyle.ca

Jun 24, 2008
Matthew Sullivan in Wine

Ontario Wine: Beamsville vs. Niagara

I've been writing/drinking/thinking a lot about Beamsville, Ontario lately:

http://www.lawandstyle.ca/index.php?o...

A friend of mine responded to one of my columns with the question of whether Beamsville is edging out Niagara in terms of quality. While I am hesitant about generalities, I believe the answer must be "yes".

NIagara is cursed with fertile soil and big plots of land - the perfect ingredients for large wineries that spend most of their time and energy producing cheap, unremarkable wines for a voracious but undemanding market in southern Ontario (especially Toronto). Not that all Niagara wineries are huge (or that all of the huge wineries make bad wine - Henry of Pelham's Barrel Fermented Chardonnay is splendid, for example) - but this commercial focus on mass producing wine is the trend in Niagara.

Beamsville, on the other hand, does not have particularly rich soil. This is wonderful. It keeps the vineyard yields low. Fewer grapes on the vine. Every winemaker I have ever met in Beamsville repeats "low yields" like a mantra. Most take great pains to ensure that their vines produce less rather than more fruit. This concentrates the flavours in fewer grapes, and gives the wines complexity and depth.

This has the side effect of preventing any of the wineries from getting too big, forcing them to rely on quality instead of quantity. The result: Le Clos Jordanne, Hidden Bench, Daniel Lenko, Thirty Bench. All are raising Ontario wines to a new level.

That's my two cents. I wonder how others see it. Have I been drinking too much?

Matthew Sullivan
The Short Cellar
www.lawandstyle.ca/shortcellar
matthew@lawandstyle.ca

Cooking (and drinking) with sherry

Paulj - Amontillado is a classic (but nowadays unusual) pairing with consume. Pity it's so rare, since as you've noted, it can be amazing.

Anyway, I agree with Hungry Pangolin that sherry may be the best wine bargain on the planet. It also (with some notable exceptions) has incredibly consistent quality (Anything by Lustau pops into the mind, for example).

If you are interested, I just wrote a column reviewing the various merits of some Lustau amontillado vs. Sandeman and Savory & James. If you are interested, it is here:

http://www.lawandstyle.ca/index.php?o...

Matthew
The Short Cellar
www.lawandstyle.ca/shortcellar

Feb 13, 2008
Matthew Sullivan in Home Cooking

Jerez

Like Jason, I'm also a great fan of Lustau's "Los Arcos" (bread and caramel on the nose, well-defined and fine-boned palate, with walnuts, apple and croissant. Acid sweetness on the long finish).

It seems impossible to go wrong by picking up anything produced by Lustau, unless you find their style a little too austere.

I just wrote a column reviewing the various merits of some Lustau amontillado vs. Sandeman and Savory & James. If you are interested, it is here:

http://www.lawandstyle.ca/index.php?o...

Matthew
The Short Cellar
www.lawandstyle.ca/shortcellar

Feb 13, 2008
Matthew Sullivan in Wine

Port for cooking?

Unless you are pouring the whole bottle into the recipe, you will probably want to buy a port that will repay some drinking, either while you're cooking or after the meal (perhaps with some stinky blue cheese?).

The two cheapest and tastiest ports that I know of are (1) Kopke's ruby port (around $13) or (2) Warre's Warrior (under $10).

Kopke's port is light, fruity and devoid of any sharp edges or bitterness. Very good if you are not sure you actually like port.

Warre's Warrior is a Reserve Port (or a Vintage Character Port), meaning that it has gotten a little bit more barrel aging and is thus more substantial. I'm drinking some as I write this, in fact. It's a little syrupy but also quite tasty in a fat-cherry-pie sort of way. It's got good spicy notes and a chocolatey finish. Remarkable for the price.

I've just written about some more Reserve Ports here, if you are interested...
http://www.lawandstyle.ca/index.php?o...

Matthew
www.lawandstyle.ca/shortcellar

Feb 05, 2008
Matthew Sullivan in Wine

Which one of these Port Wines is sweetest and cheapest?

Though it isn't mentioned in your list, you might also want to keep an eye out for Warre's Warrior.

Like Graham's Six Grapes, Warre's Warrior is a Vintage Character Port (also known as a Reserve Port), but it is about half the price (i.e. under $10.00). In the world of port, this is about the niftiest bargain I am aware of. The Warrior doesn't quite have the texture or the depth of the Six Grapes, but it is still delicious, with a notes of spice and something I can only describe as cherry pie.

I've just ranked some of the Reserve Ports in my weekly column here:
http://www.lawandstyle.ca/index.php?o...

Matthew
www.lawandstyle.ca/shortcellar

Feb 05, 2008
Matthew Sullivan in Wine

Champagne Taste, Two Buck Chuck Budget

Our brains like wine better when we think it is more expensive, but that doesn't mean we like expensive wine. There's an interesting story afoot about how the LCBO planned to raise the minimum price of wines that they would sell. When word got out, a storm of public protest broke against our dear old state monopoly. Find the story here:
http://www.lawandstyle.ca/shortcellar

Matthew

Jan 22, 2008
Matthew Sullivan in Features

Visiting Toronto in August

I enjoyed both Coca and Cava but for very different reasons. I thought Cava really excelled with some dishes, including the "Sardines Two Ways", the beef cheeks, or the grilled octopus that had four of us at the table melting in our chairs. (Also, I wasn't upsold while I was there.)
The food at Coca is not of the same caliber, but It's the best place in the city to explore Spanish wines (on a budget). It helps that they sell wines in "taster" sizes, and that the wines are quite accurately described in the wine list. I wrote at longer length about the highlights in their wine list here:
http://www.lawandstyle.ca/index.php?o...

Anyone been to Coca

I've gone to Coca twice and been impressed. The service I received was fine. The tapas isn't as good as Cava (http://www.cavarestaurant.ca), but there are some high points, like the salt cod. However, what really makes Coca stand out for me is the fun and cheap wines-by-the-glass. It's the best place to explore Spanish wines that I know of in the city. It helps that they sell wines in "taster" sizes, and that the wines are quite accurately described in the wine list. I wrote at longer length about the highlights in their wine list here:
http://www.lawandstyle.ca/index.php?o...