Thursday, April 29, 2010

Six Wines to Try - Vintages Release – May 1, 2010

Greg's Unique Picks

This week I have picked 6 unique wines that have differed from my past selections. The Craggy Range compares with wines at 3 or 4 times the price and is a steal at $29.95. I have picked another Red Blend from the same area and it is great value at $16.95. Try a bottle and compare to the Craggy Range.
My next selection is a Rosé and I’m asking you to step out of your comfort zone and try it. Save it for a nice warm evening, chill it and enjoy it on your deck.
I also picked a nice Spanish Rioja from 2001. It’s been nicely aged and is drinkable now, but could sit for another 2 to 4 years. Save it to serve with a nice leg of lamb on the bbq.
My white pick is a German Kabinett Riesling. Many people say they don’t like this style of wine because it is to sweet, but if you pair it with the right food I swear you will be drinking it like water. Try it with Chinese, Thai or Asian fusion foods.
My final pick is a little pricey, but if you love great Port this will be one for the ages. I have a dozen bottles that I bought in the 80’s and 90’s and I’m just starting to share them with my “best” friends now.
I hope you enjoy these picks and please let me know what you bought and what you liked or disliked!

Enjoy your weekend,

Greg Heller
Twitter: @TheChefUpstairs
Facebook: ChefUpstairs

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Te Kahu 2007,
Hawkes Bay, North Island, Single Vineyard
New Zealand
Vintages #163584; Wine Align Rating - 91; $29.95
This is an amazing Bordeaux style blend that I tasted last month. Great bang for the buck and drinkable now, but if you’re smart, get a case and cellar for a few years.

Wild Rock Gravel Pit Red 2007,
Hawkes Bay, North Island, Gimblett Gravels
New Zealand
Vintages #163600; Wine Align Rating – 88; $16.95
This is a value cousin to the Craggy Range Te Kahue above. Try a bottle of this and compare.
Wine Align says “ it is a boldly fruity red with deep colour. An excellent quaffer!

Château Cahuzac Tradition Rosé 2009,
Ac Fronton
Southwest, France
Vintages #117317; Wine Align Rating - 89; $13.95
This is not the Baby Duck Rose that your Grandmother would drink. If you have never had a great Rose, here is one to start with. The price is right and you will never look back.

Burgo Viejo Reserva 2001,
Doca Rioja Spain
Vintages #168823; Wine Align Rating - 89; $19.95
A great Spanish Red at a good price. Drink now or age for another 2 to 4+ years. Medium body, great with roast leg of lamb or roast beef.

Geil Riesling Kabinett 2008,
Qmp, Bechtheimer Rosengarten
Riesling, Germany
Vintages #994764; Wine align Rating – 89; $15.95
If you have never tried the great German Kabinett Rieslings here is one to try. Many people find these wines sweet …they are not, but they are very fruity. Try this with some great Asian cuisine and I’m convinced you will become a fan.

Warre's Vintage Port 2007
Douro Portugal
Vintages #140251; Wine Align Rating 94; $79.00
Vintage ports are only released in years which are truly remarkable and it looks like 2007 is one of those years. You could drink this now, but best to leave it a few more years. They will easily cellar for 20+ years. Go out on a limb and buy now for a special occasion.
Wine Align says: “I love the nose on this, with blackberry, black licorice, and dark chocolate. Full bodied, medium sweet and very, very dense. What seductive mouth feel, with polished, round tannins that caress the palate. This may be better than the fantastic 1994. Score: 95-98. (James Suckling,, Web Only, 2009)”

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Great buys still available at the LCBO

Vintages – Recent Releases (March 20th; April 3rd)

Here are some great Reds that are still available in the Vintages section of the LCBO. In most cases these are wines that you can drink now, but if you do have a proper cellar I have also listed how long you may keep them. With each selection I have given a brief description of the wine, when it is drinkable, the rating, price and LCBO code number. Also, if you would like to read more about the wine (critic notes, food pairing, etc.), it is quite simple, just follow these steps:

1. Go to

2. Set up a free account by clicking “sign up” in the top right corner

3. Enter your email address, enter a username; enter a simple password that you will remember and your postal code (to identify the LCBO nearest you.

4. Click the “Create my Account” button at the bottom and you are done.

5. To search one of the wines below, look for the “search” window in the top right corner. For the Gallo Barelli Creek; type in the LCBO code (555615) and click "Go"

6. You will now see a brief overview of the wine. Click on the wine name and you can review all the details and comments on the wine.

7. If you would like to see all of the the bi-weekly reviews from Wine Align, you can subscribe for just $40/year. It’s certainly worth the price. Enjoy!

My Red Wine Picks
Gallo Barelli Creek; Cab. Sauvignon 2006, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County
Drink now to 2020 or longer; Rating (91) Price $34.95; LCBO #555615

Bodegas Lan Reserva 2004, Doca Rioja; Spain
Drink now to 2012; Rating (90); $19.95; #42929

Château Rouquette Sur Mer Cuvée Amarante 2007, Ac Côteaux Du Languedoc La Clape (Midi) France
A nice syrah, drink now or cellar for a few years; Best Buy from Mar 20/10 release; Rating (91); $17.95 #156273

Guyot Le Millepertuis Crozes Hermitage 2007, Ac; Rhone, France
Medium bodied, drink now. Rating (88); $22.95; #73890

Viña Zaco Tempranillo 2006, Doca Rioja; Spain
Drink now through 2012; Rating (89); $14.95; #146209

Domaine De La Croisette Côtes Du Rhône 2007, Ac; Rhone, France
Drink now; medium bodied young syrah; Rating (88)$13.95; #155465;

Los 800 2005, Doca Priorat; Spain
Let it sit for 1 year, best 2011 to 2020; Rating (90); $19.95; #75150

Seifried Estate Pinot Noir 2008, Nelson, South Island; New Zealand
Light bodied, sip or serve with mild fish, or herbed chicken or pork; Good value Pinot; Rating (88); $19.95; #707778

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cooking Classes in Sicily

The Chef Upstairs has teamed up with Contessa Vacations for an amazing 1 week vacation at an all inclusive 5 Star Villa in Sicily. Thanks to the strong Canadian dollar there are four different weeks in May and June that are available for Only €999 (about $1350 CDN). These trips are limited to 8 guests and it will be an experience that you will never forget, especially the Daily afternoon cooking classes.

Contessa Vacation guests stay at the beautiful and elegant Grotta Di Ferro. With spacious air-conditioned rooms, Satellite television and in room fridges, swimming pool and terraces, La Grotta is the perfect vacation spot to relax and get to know fellow guests.
Can you picture yourself in this beautiful villa, discovering the cuisine and culture of Sicily?

For more information or to book your trip, please click on this link

…Act quick and don’t forget to mention that you heard about this from “The Chef Upstairs”

Greg Heller
The Chef Upstairs
516 Mount Pleasant Road, 2nd Floor
Toronto ON
M 416-347-1545