Downton Abbey Wine Collection

Fans of the hit PBS show “Downton Abbey” can now enjoy wines similar to those poured by Mr. Carson for Lord and Lady Grantham. The Downton Abbey Wine Collection features two blends from the Bordeaux region of France: a “Blanc” white wine and a “Claret” red wine. Downton Abbey Blanc is a light and crisp white blend, while Downton Abbey Claret is medium-bodied red with bright fruit and a silky finish. We tried both of them and were impressed, particularly when you consider the reasonable price of $14.99 per 750-ml bottle.

Both blends use the same vines, soil and region used to produce the wines from the Downton Era and are made by the Grands Vins de Bordeaux, a family-owned winery with more than 130 years of winemaking experience in the prized Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux, France. The wines are available in select stores and also at Wine.com and DowntonAbbeyWine.com.

If you know someone who is a fan of this excellent period drama, then the Downton Abbey Wine Collection will make for a very memorable gift. “Downton Abbey” returns to PBS for Season 4 in January 2014 so the timing is perfect for a gift this holiday season.

Downton Abbey Wines

  

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

Tip Your Glass: Where to Find the Best Canadian Wines

Taking a wine-themed trip to Italy or the Napa Valley is on every oenophile’s bucket list. And, while less famous internationally, visiting Canadian vineyards is a fun and educational trip on its own. So, book a cheap flight (then you’ll have more money to spend on wine) and a hotel in one of the sites mentioned below to explore the best in Canadian wine.

Okanagan Valley

Encompassing Kelowna, B.C., the Okanagan Valley has been producing wine since the 1850s. It’s one of British Columbia’s two big wine regions (the other being Similkameen) and is notable for the variety of grapes grown there today. Along with Canada’s famous ice wine (a sweet variety produced from grapes frozen while still on the vine), in Okanagan wine lovers can find everything from merlot to tempranillo and chardonnay to gewürztraminer. An easy drive from Kelowna, the Okanagan Valley has many wine tours starting from the city.

Similkameen Valley

South of Okanagan, the Similkameen Valley was one of the first parts of British Columbia to be farmed by European settlers. It was the site of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in the late 1800s, but now most visitors are interested in its liquid gold — wine, that is! It stretches from the town of Princeton along the Similkameen River and over the American border. Take tours starting from Keremos; this valley and Okanagan make up 90 percent of British Columbia’s wine production.

The Niagara Peninsula

Another well-reviewed wine region in Canada is in Ontario on the Niagara Peninsula. Featuring a variety of vineyards operated by vintners big and small, this wine region also has many accommodation options, often on the winery properties themselves. Although a common misconception some travelers have is that Canada is too far north for many grape varieties, the Niagara Peninsula is actually at the same latitude as many famous and well-regarded wine regions in France, such as Bordeaux.

Prince Edward County

Although it’s one of the most southerly parts of Canada, Prince Edward County in Ontario was one of the last places to take off as a wine destination. It became a Designated Viticultural Area in 1997 and now boasts about 30 wineries. The region’s cuisine also gets rave reviews, so wine enthusiasts who are also gourmands will be especially happy visiting here. It’s an easy drive from Toronto and Ottawa — and has plenty of accommodation options.

Vancouver Island

If your travels take you to the West, spend a day or two exploring Vancouver Island’s wineries. Although some of the wines made there are simply casked and not grown, the local pinot noir and pinot gris get good reviews as do their sparkling wines. Most of the wineries are based on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, near Victoria, so that’s a good starting point.

Fraser Valley

Back in British Columbia, the Fraser Valley offers some interesting wines for the travelling connoisseur. An easy drive from Vancouver, the 15 Fraser Valley wineries host tastings, farm tours and dining events. Accommodation is available, but some visitors prefer to stay in Vancouver. Fraser Valley’s most popular wines are Blattner reds and whites, and pinot noir.

Pelee Island and Creston Valley

Two more Canadian wine areas deserving of mention are Pelee Island and Creston Valley. Lake Erie’s Pelee Island in Ontario is the southernmost inhabited area in Canada. This small island, accessible by ferry from both the U.S. and Canadian shorelines, has roughly over a hundred permanent residents and a well-reviewed winery. The winery offers tours, tastings and pairings. Creston Valley in British Columbia, on the other hand, has three wineries and aspires to have more soon. While in the area, visitors can also go trout and salmon-fishing, or enjoy other water sports on the Kootenay River in warm months.

About the Author: Robert Johnstan worked in restaurants in Toronto for many years before deciding to go back to school and open a consulting business for startups in the food industry.

  

The Wonderful Wine Regions of South Australia

adelaide-hills-vineyards_l

Consisting of over 200 cellar doors and featuring many of the best drops in Aus, the South Australian wine trail is a must-do for every wine lover. Best of all, everything is in driving distance from Adelaide, meaning that arranging airport transfers, organizing transport and booking suitable Adelaide accommodation is exceptionally easy. The following is a guide to five of the best areas on the South Australian wine trail, with tips on which cellar doors and wineries you must visit.

Barossa

The Barossa Valley is where Aussie wines were born and is home to some of the oldest vines in the country (160 years!). Located approximately 70kms from the heart of Adelaide, it’s a beautiful area, full of history and architecture from the original German settlers. Best known for its big, bold shiraz, Barossa is home to some of the most famous names in the Aussie wine industry, including Wolf Blass, Jacobs Creek, Yalumba and of course, Penfolds. The nearby Eden Valley is also part of the Barossa region and is a quaint spot known for its award-winning riesling production. Not only is the Barossa known for its top drops, it’s also a haven for foodies. It is home to a range of wonderful restaurants and some amazing cheese companies. Check out the Barossa Valley Cheese Company for a complete food and wine experience.

McLaren Vale

McLaren Vale is a red wine lover’s paradise. With over 70 cellar doors, it is best known for its deep, dark shiraz, flavoursome cabernet sauvignon and prizewinning grenache. Some of the must-sees include Chapel Hill Winery, Geoff Merrill Wines, Rosemount Estate and Zimmerman Wines. The boutique Chalk Hill is also a must-visit with a proud history of wine-making dating back six generations. If you have a more organic preference, check out the Battle of Bosworth and Spring Seed Wines. Finish your trip with a follow-up beer at the Vale Ale Brewery.

Coonawarra

Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon is a staple of the Australian wine industry. The biggest wine area on the Limestone Coast, its terra rossa soil is credited for the region’s success. Although it sits 375kms from Adelaide, it’s worth the jaunt. Out of its 24 cellar doors, some of the best include Bowen Estate, Brand’s Laira Coonawarra, Wynns Coonawarra Estate and Redman Wines. Another highlight is the Coonawarra Wine Gallery, where you can various range of local wines and treat yourself to cheese platters and coffee.

Clare Valley

Located approximately 120kms from Adelaide, Clare Valley is home to some of the best in Aussie riesling. Another of Australia’s oldest wine regions, it’s full of attractions and activities including restaurants, art galleries and events, making it a hot-spot for tourists. The area is generally made up of boutique producers. Some of the best names on the riesling trail are some of the most renowned producers in all of Australia, including Jim Barry Wines, Tim Adams Wines, Edredge Wines, Taylors Wines and Annies Lane.

Adelaide Hills

Sitting 20 minutes from Adelaide, the gorgeous scenic views offered by Adelaide Hills makes for a lovely afternoon excursion in the crisp midwinter weather. Being a cool climate region, Adelaide Hills produces chardonnay, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and riesling. The region’s style is elegant and premium, which has led to its national and international success. With over 40 cellar doors, Adelaide Hills offers something for everyone, regardless of palate and preference. K1 by Geoff Hardy is a must-see, as are Bird in Hand, Leabrook Estate and Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard. Adelaide Hills is also known for its fabulous food, wine and music events. Look online before you go to see if anything coincides with your trip.

Photo credit: badjonni / Foter / CC BY-SA

About the Author: Dale McKenzie is a passionate wine drinker, wine writer and occasional wine judge. His dream is to retire on a seven-acre vineyard block in the Margaret River.

  

War Tears Up the SummerStage at New York’s Queensbridge Park

Forty-three years after their original 1969 formation, the legendary band War can still rock a stage with the best of them and provide a funky good time for audiences of all ages. Of course, the only original member still in the lineup is keyboardist and current lead singer Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan, but since the band has cycled through more than 25 members since its original inception, this is no surprise. The band, in its current seven-piece configuration, played a free show at Queensbridge Park in Queens, New York, last night as part of City Parks Foundation’s annual SummerStage series. Probably about 400 people, ranging in age from toddlers to elderly folks, were in attendance, and War played an excellent two-hour set full of positive energy and musical prowess.

After an hour-long warm-up from DJ Felix Hernandez’ Rhythm Revue, War opened their set with the funky, upbeat “Me and Baby Brother,” from their 1973 gold record “Deliver the Word,” and the already dancing crowd really began to get down. Jordan is an exceptionally charismatic frontman who really commands the stage even when boxed in behind his keyboards, but he stepped out early on in the show to lead an audience sing-along to the 1972 hit “The Cisco Kid.” He joked that if anyone in the crowd could tell him how many other War songs contained the word “wine,” he would let that lucky fan buy him a glass of wine.

Jordan then slowed the upbeat set down a bit with the more serious jam “The World Is a Ghetto,” from the 1972 album of the same name, taking time to speak off-the-cuff about changing the world for the kids in the audience. He referred specifically to an adorable toddler dancing near the stage, of whom he couldn’t quite identify the gender, saying, “They don’t know when they’re that age anyway. Let ‘em worry about all that when they get older.” The band also catered to an unexpected fan request by playing the gorgeous, tempo-shifting instrumental “City, Country, City,” also from the “World Is a Ghetto” album, which really gave saxophonist Fernando Harkless and harmonica player Stanley Behrens a chance to shine.

Though the overall set was mostly very up-tempo and danceable, War took time for a couple of slow love ballads near the end. Jordan took a lengthy vocal and keyboard solo for the beginning of the beautiful 1973 title track “Deliver the Word” before letting the rest of the band join him to jam it out, and drummer Salvador Rodriguez sang a love ballad of his own before War broke out their two biggest hits. On “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” from the 1975 album of the same name, each of the seven members of the band sang one two-bar verse, except for percussionist Marcos Reyes, who relegated the last small verse to an audience sing-along.

They closed with the iconic hit “Low Rider,” from the same album, and of course the crowd loved it, many of them begging for one more song. Unfortunately, the free outdoor show had a strict ending time, but it is a testament to War’s energy, vitality and long list of beloved hits, that a two-hour set could still leave us wanting more.

  

Food/drink product roundup: Hint Water, Hungry Man Pub Favorites and Sledgehammer Wines

Yes, trying and reviewing food and drink, and even alcoholic drinks, is a tough job. But someone has to do it. Here are a few new products that either came to me with promotions attached to them or not:

Hint flavored water–I drink a ton of flavored seltzer, so the thought of non-carbonated water scared me just a bit. But alas, this Hint stuff is pretty damn good. They sent six flavors, including Watermelon, Blackberry, Mango-Grapefruit and Strawberry-Kiwi. The Strawberry-Kiwi flavor comes with a special label–that of Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo to promote the new Yogi Bear movie that debuts in December and stars Justin Timberlake and Anna Farris. You can win tickets to the movie by visiting www.drinkhint.com/yogi. Anyway, this stuff is delicious, and it doesn’t come with a sugary aftertaste because there is no sugar at all. If you need a break from carbonation or need flavor in your water, definitely start here.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Related Posts