Wine Review: Winter Warmers, Part 1

23 02 2018

By Dan Steeves

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]

The end of February is slowly approaching and we are less than a month away from the first day of spring. That means warmer weather is in our sights and we soon won’t have to deal with any more snow, right? That might be wishful thinking, but we can certainly hope it is the case! Until that warmer weather shows up and takes permanent residency in the prairies, we will need to keep staying warm and spending our evenings huddled around the fireplace with a nice glass of full-bodied red wine. Although I personally drink all types of wines all throughout the year (nobody should deprive themselves of rosé for months on end), there is no doubt that I enjoy more red wines over the cooler winter months, not only for the warming effects of a 15% ABV Cabernet Sauvignon, but also because we tend to eat more hearty full-flavoured comfort foods during this time and less light and refreshing fare.

To get you through the next month until you start seeing green on the ground, we have reviewed a few robust red wines that will be great at keeping you warm and satisfied until the spring flowers start blooming. We kick off this two-part series with reviews of great value reds from two regions known for their big red wines:  Bordeaux, France and the Colchagua Valley, Chile.

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Cellar Direct: On To Italy!

24 01 2018

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]


Italy is not kidding around.

Over the past couple of years, I have come to know the wares of virtual Canadian wine merchant and weekly offer club Cellar Direct pretty well.  Over the course of half a dozen reviews and nearly twice as many bottles, I’ve grown accustomed to the Old World bona fides and seemingly effortless consistency of the wines sourced by CD founder Ron Van Schilt from family estates strewn across Europe:  France all day, Germany for sure, with a bit of Spain thrown in for good measure.  But I had never yet tasted anything from the fourth pillar of Cellar Direct’s traditional sourcing ground, the most glaring omission from the vinous Euro-stars above:  Italy, the focus of multiple prior online offerings but no corks popped at my kitchen table.  That changed tonight, and my perception of what this virtual venture is bringing into the country climbed ever higher.  The focus tonight is two dynamic, bombastic Italian reds, with a wild Cellar Direct white (Arneis!!) from the same country to come a bit later.  Let’s start where my Italian heart lies. Read the rest of this entry »

Meat (!) Review: Carnivore Club

16 04 2016

[The following meat was provided as a sample for review purposes.]

We are living in a golden age of things you can get delivered to your house in a box on a monthly basis.  Whatever your inclination, there is probably a monthly mail subscription service for it.  Wine?  Naturally.  Tea?  Of course.  Last year I was part of one offering a regular postal helping of socks.



There is now.


I know what you’re thinking:  (1) YES!!  MEAT IN THE MAIL!!! …and then, a couple seconds later, (2) …um, meat in the mail?  Can they DO that?  When the meat in question is salt-cured and vacuum-sealed and perfectly capable of remaining consumable after a multi-day cross-country trek, they certainly can.  “They” in this case is Carnivore Club, a phenomenally named meat curation agency that sources an incredible array of farm-to-table meats from an ever-rotating rolodex of local suppliers and puts them on your doorstop in a faux-wooden box.  For $50/month (including shipping), you get about as much meat as your arteries can handle on a monthly basis (in this particular case, it was about 2 pounds’ worth), all made with love from top-end sources.  Dreams really do come true. Read the rest of this entry »

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