Monday, 23 December 2013

Baking with a smile in mind

When I grow up I want to be a baker! These are the words that Rosie Daykin always knew would come true ever since she was a young girl. Even her brief foray into interior decorating didn’t deter her from her bigger passion – baking. And that dream did come true when she started her bakery and café in 2007, in Vancouver’s west side, on 4321 Dunbar Street.

If you are lucky to be living in Vancouver you can start your day with delicious scones or muffins from Butter’s Tea Room. But if you are a million miles away, you still can restore the nostalgia of fine homemade baked goods right in your own home with Rosie’s new book, Butter Baked Goods.

In the book, Rosie’s husband Paul speaks of his beloved wife in words that can be summed up in a song by Guy Clark called The Cape.
“Life is just a leap of faith, spread your arms, hold your arms, and always trust your cape.”
Rosie doesn’t know if this says she is “bold, or fearless, or just plain nuts” but so far she feels “the cape is holding”. She is known to be true to her word and when at six she announced that she was one day going to own a bakery, she had already starting spinning the wheels in motion. One day not only would nostalgic sweet treats delight in Rosie’s Butter Baked Café, but her famous recipes would tempt every home baker around the world.

The book itself is a beautiful work of art. From cover to cover, Baker Baked Goods has pages laden with fabulous photography and recipes that stimulate your senses. With over 100 classic baking recipes – a lot you’ll be able to recognize from your childhood – Rosie tells us the secret ingredient that’s common in Butter Baked Goods isn’t that secret at all.

“Butter has a distinct identity and style, and I’m true to that,” says Rosie.

As the youngest child in a family of four, Rosie was given the freedom to try out things in the kitchen. She baked up her first recipe when she was only 6 years old. It was called the Six Minute Cake and the magic ingredient in it was vinegar. You can find this recipe in her book, available for purchase at major bookstores and published by Random House Canada.

I guarantee you just won’t be able to keep this book on the shelf collecting dust. The tempting pictures and glossy cover will entice your taste buds. The recipes use surprisingly ordinary and simple ingredients. “Surprising” because the final product tastes anything but ordinary. Nothing is tricked up. Yet, it’s extraordinary!  Mouth-watering treats will leave you constantly smacking your lips for more.
“It is hard to express (but I think, simple enough to understand) the immense happiness I get when just the act of sharing something I enjoy brings someone else the same happiness. I couldn’t imagine a more satisfying way to spend my day.”
When you bake up one of Rosie’s delicious recipes, you’ll be sharing the same sentiment. If you are lucky to be in Vancouver’s west end, stop by the bakery and say hi. She’s designed the bakery so there is a big opening between the bakery’s storefront and the kitchen. “We didn’t have any secrets, and I wanted to be able to say hello to customers as I iced cakes and rolled dough.”

But in the meantime, whether you are an amateur baker or a seasoned one, Butter Baked Goods is a great baking book to get baking. If you do try out some of Rosie Daykin’s recipes do drop us a comment and let us know of your favourites.

As Rosie puts it:
“Baking needn’t be complicated or intimidating; I don’t believe it should take 45 steps to make a great dessert. My recipes were not created to impress people – they were created to spoil them, to celebrate them and to comfort them when needed.”

Reposted from  

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Give the gift of Pietranera Brunello di Montalcino this Christmas

2004 Pietranera
On December 5, The Globe and Mail's wine critic Beppi Crosariol recommended the 2007 vintage of Pietranera Brunello di Montalcino which currently retails for $37.95 at the LCBO. 

Notwithstanding the fact that wines in Ontario are generally more expensive than other places on planet earth, save the province of Quebec, this 100% Sangiovese based beauty from Tuscany remains a bargain for a Brunello. 

SukasaStyle readers may recall that in August we recommended the 2006 Pietranera Brunello di Montalcino and recently had the good fortune of drinking the 2004 vintage, a gift from a friend who had traveled to Tuscany. 

While the 2006 vintage received 4.5 / 5 Sukasa Stars the firm tannins, muscular style, and complexity of the 2004, which has had some more time to age, made it a better wine (for our palate). It was an excellent wine and further proof that the Peluso Centolani family remains dedicated to their craft. The 2004 Pietranera scored 4.65 / 5 Sukasa Stars and would retail for much more than the current retail price point for the 2007 vintage were it available.

2007 Pietranera
Here is Beppi Crosariol's review for the 2007:
Pietranera Brunello di Montalcino 2007 (Italy)SCORE: 93 PRICE: $37.95
Relatively fresh and vibrant for a six-year-old Brunello, this regal Tuscan sangiovese offers penetrating, liqueur-like plum and cherry fruit mixed with an earthy, forest-floor quality and sweet tobacco. For Brunello it’s a bargain, full-bodied but hardly heavy, a red that should cellar well for another decade. Available in Ontario.

The holiday's are often a time to spend extra on life's epicurean pleasures. 

To this end the LCBO promotes a number of wines at significantly higher price points than this but our recommendation this #WineWednesday is to give the gift of Pietrenera Brunello di Montalcino this Christmas, whether it is for friends or a treat for your own cellar. 

If you can't resist the temptation of opening up a bottle for yourself over the holidays remember to decant for at least an hour before serving. 

It remains the perfect accompaniment for game meats, strong flavoured cheeses and rich dishes -- in other words holiday fare.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Whiskey by John Lamond #ScotchSunday Review

When one is starting out exploring the world of whiskey one inevitably turns to authors like Michael Jackson, Charles MacLean, Dave Broom, Robin Tucek. Of course, any list of whisky experts is incomplete without Master of Malt John Lamond.

While the internet, smart phones and being connected 24/7 makes navigating the whiskey world easier, there is still nothing like the experience of reading a real book. This is where Lamond's book, Whiskey, published under Princeton Architectural Press' "Instant Expert" series is a terrific addition (represented in Canada by Raincoast Books).
Whiskey: Instant Expert
fits in the palm of your hand

Measuring 4.71" x 6.61" and at 144 pages, Whiskey: Instant Expert fits into the palm of one's hand but it isn't meant to be an exhaustive database of whiskeys and reviews available around the world -- there are simply too many combinations and expressions. However, it provides insight for those looking to learn a lot quickly, from the very basic to the esoteric:

Whisky vs. whiskey
Scotch whisky is spelled "whisky" and must be from Scotland to be called scotch. With Irish whiskey --which has had perhaps an even longer history-- the word is spelled "whiskey."

Traditional partners for whiskey
...found in the west coast of Scotland where the fisherman would traditionally have a dram of malt whiskey with their oysters -- not to the side but poured on the shell like we do today with Tobasco.

Ardbeg distillery
Ardbeg's make is the most heavily peated of all Scotland's whiskies, at 50 parts per million. Its make has always been a favourite of Islay aficionados, but it was closed more often than it was open in the 30 years prior to being taken over by Glenmorangie in 1997.

Glenmorangie distillery
One of the leading malts around the world, it has the tallest stills in Scotland, at just under 17 feet. The height of the still means that only the finest and most delicate of flavours fall over the lyne arm, which runs from the head of the still to the condenser.

Scotch and Irish whiskies
The malt for Scotch whiskey is dried over an open peat fire, which means the smoke permeates the grains and this smoky taste carries right through to the final whisky. By contrast, in Ireland, the malt is dried in closed kilns so that only hot air dries the grains, not smoke.

The citations above are a sampling of what the book contains. The contents range from the fundamentals to colourful stories about discovering, collecting and storing.

Contents of Whiskey: Instant Expert by John Lamond

If there is anything that could be improved it is the indexing: some of pages numbers (in the index) didn't seem to match. Whiskey: Instant Expert makes a nice gift for a budding Malt Master this holiday season and retails for $14.40 from

Level: Beginner to Expert
Writing Style: 4.5 / 5
Reviews: 3.5 / 5
Value: Very High
Sukasa Stars: 4.5 out of 5

(Reviewed by Arijit Banik for SukasaStyle)

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Will supply meet demand? The Glenmorangie case.

Single malt whiskey has gone from a largely fledgling product in the 1960s to one with exponential growth in the past decade. The story behind the demand is fairly well understood:
"In China and other booming South East Asian countries younger consumers are taking to single malts to show they have arrived in life."  
"There is a need for such young consumers to show this much earlier than their predecessors." 
Industry watchers foresee a much faster growth in single malt consumption in line with the rapid growth in economy as well as rising incomes and aspirations of Indian consumers.
(Source: Import of single malt scotch whisky doubles in first half of 2010)

The challenge is obvious to anyone with a modicum of knowledge about the nature of distilling single malt and the dynamic of markets: global demand will outstrip supply as growing affluence in low to middle income entails a shift from domestic blended scotches and traditional international blends such as Johnnie Walker Red Label to more refined fare like Glenmorangie 10-year (recently SukasaStyle #ScotchSunday review).

Publicly listed companies understand this: French luxury retailer LVMH is the owner of The Glenmorangie Company and single malt assets are a strategic bet on future growth in current emerging markets and developing economies.

Below is a video of Dr. Bill (William) Lumsden, Head of Distilling and Whisky Creation,  answering questions from Glenmorangie's Facebook followers about the challenge of scaling up production. Dare I say it is of particular interest to engineers and single malt lovers.

Posted by Arijit Banik for SukasaStyle.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Glenmorangie 10-Year #ScotchSunday Review

Tallest stills producing a clear smooth spirit

In the town of Tain, Ross-shire, the tall and thin stills of Glenmorangie produce a clear golden spirit that is counted as Scotland's favourite single malt whiskey --the 10 year expression-- and for this #ScotchSunday Sukasa Style reviews why this remarkably smooth dram is also surprisingly complex just as long you taste it long enough to savour it rather than quaff it down.

Glenmorangie's lineup

Glenmorangie's offerings

Glenmorangie's tasting notes
 Tasting notes video featuring Dr. Bill Lumsden, Head of Distilling and Whisky Creation

SukasaStyle tasting notes
A light golden colour reveals a refreshing nose that reminded your taster of Terry's chocolate orange from his youth.

For those you have never had or heard of Terry's chocolate orange, the nose of Glenmorangie's 10 year expression was reminiscent of a mixture of chocolate, orange and flowers.

On the spectrum of flavours, the palate continued to show notes of citrus fruits, spice and vanilla. The remarkable aspect is the dram's remarkable smoothness: it could be mistaken for a higher end blended malt and, given that, it is a perfect entry malt to those dipping their palates into the sublime complexity of single malts. But for those with a nose and a palate for more, this isn't a one dimensional dram: savour it and the finish rewards you more hints of orange, chocolate and even some dried fruit and cream. It has been awhile but it reminded the reviewer of Macallan's 15 year expression.

Price in Ontario (LCBO): $69.95 for 750ml
Price at Peace Bridge: ~$45 for 1L
Serve: straight.

Sukasa Stars: 4.5 / 5
Quality Price Ratio: Excellent - Outstanding

Reviewed by Arijit Banik for SukasaStyle.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

For the value minded wine lover: "Had a Glass 2014" by James Nevison

Had a Glass 2014 by James Nevison
(Cross posted from Sukasa Reads)
The stock of wines on the shelves of your liquor store is a daunting prospect for those new to wine yet interested to know a whole lot more. What better course of action than go to a local bookstore to pick up an introduction to wine book? But the shelves of your book store are probably stocked with a plethora of wine titles: perhaps a Ronald S. Jackson handbook for the professional, a Jancis Robinson guide for the aficionado, but what to choose for the newbie?

This is where James Nevison’s Had a Glass 2014 (published in Canada by Appetite by Random House) comes in.

It is designed not just for the newbie but one who is on a budget: hence the subtitle of Top 100 wines under $20, and perhaps best of all, it can be carried in the palm of your hand when you visit the liquor store.

In hunting for value purchases, Nevison understands its nebulous character and states the case:
"Value" is at best squishy and hard to pin down. Value is personal. And like scoring wine on a hundred-point scale, it’s tough for an objective framework to try and prop up subjective tastes. But whether you’re after price rollbacks at a big-box store or hand-made designer goods, true value occurs when returns exceed expectations. (emphasis added)
Graduating from strictly drinking for pleasure to wanting to make an intelligent choice can become an exercise in opacity for the unschooled but Nevison comforts the reader:
There’s no need to overcomplicate wine tasting. Nothing is more boring than listening to some wine blowhard drone on at length about the laundry list of aromas they detect, or slurp on for minutes as they attempt to pinpoint precise acidity and residual sugar levels.
Colourful Wine Aromas 
Indeed. a critical time consuming wine assessment is not made for the dining room; that is a place for good friends, engaging conversation and the perfect pairing of wine and food.

But following Nevison's 4 step process isn't just chock full of prose as the book is designed and edited in an accessible style. For example, in describing the nose, what aromas come to mind?

None of the book's 168 pages is wasted. With tight copy-editing, enticing graphics and a friendly writing style, James Nevison has found a winning formula for those new to wine and even the oenophile looking for good house wine choices for a casual imbibe during the week. The contents lay the map from the "how to" of wine to the geographic regions to the different types of wine (that now include a section on wine cocktails).
As far as the choices of wine in the book, we at SukasaReads have stated the case in the past that wine tasting isn't an objective sterile science on our SukasaStyle sister site so there are differences of opinion in terms of the choices (as there should be) but this should not detract from a worthwhile initiative.

Level: Beginner
Writing Style: 4.5 / 5
Wine Recommendations: 3.5 / 5
Value: High
Sukasa Stars: 4 out of 5

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Glenfiddich 12-year #ScotchSunday Review

Snobbery is not the exclusive purview of wine lovers, scotch lovers exhibit it in spades.

This Scotch Sunday, SukasaStyle takes a look at Glenfiddich 12 Year Old, a good dram that deserves more respect than it receives in the blogosphere and comments amongst scotch lovers. What is it about Glenfiddich that elicits ambivalence amongst whiskey lovers? Is it success?

Our position is clear: success should not be frowned upon. When William Grant started Glenfiddich in 1886, borrowing used stills from Cardhu, little did he know that his company would be the champion of a fledgling market for single malts.  Glenfiddich isn't Yellow Tail. It produces a good product: we love the 18 Year Old expression and think highly of the 15 Year Old yet think that the 12 Year Old is underrated.

What does Glenfiddich do well? Consistent brand representation:
Core Collection: 12 - 15 - 18 - 21 Year Old Malts
Consistent marketing of its tagline "The World's Most Awarded Single Malt"

Accessible and understandable Social Media presence: below are Brian Kinsman's tasting notes for Glenfiddich 12 Year Old:

Sticking to the KISS principle: Glenfiddich's Tasting Notes for the 12-Year Old:

Glenfiddich's Tasting Notes

SukasaStyle's Tasting Notes
Here is what the nose reminded us of:
Being in the produce section of a grocery store
There was a hint of pear but only after the initial sense of being in the produce aisle died down. The taste one can be overwhelmed by the heat masking the fruit -- this would be our main criticism -- but there is butter and cream prior to the lengthy finish.

We have made the argument that tasting is a question of one's palate and environmental circumstances. It isn't an objective science but notwithstanding the differences of opinion that we have compared to others, all opinions are valid. If is important to recognize that a Speyside malt need not taste like an Islay malt: the wonder of single malts is that each distillery produces its own characteristic dram but each malt master can create variations.

Furthermore, the 12 Year Old Glenfiddich we drink today isn't that of our father or grandfather. It changes over time. Give the Glenfiddich 12 Year Old consideration for your whiskey portfolio and as an aperitif. It is value priced and suitable for every day drinking.

Price: $52.95 for a 750ml bottle at the LCBO ($37 for 1L bottle at Peace Bridge Duty Free)

SukasaStyle Rating: 4.3 / 5
Quality Price Ratio: Excellent

(Reviewed by Arijit Banik for Sukasa Style)

Friday, 29 November 2013

PDT Cocktail Book - A must-have for budding mixologists

The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender's Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy is the brainchild of Jim Meehan (Twitter: @Mixography), PDT's operator and mix-master, and superbly illustrated by Chris Gall. With "Black Friday" kicking off Christmas Shopping season, Sukasa Style thinks that this is a perfect book for the budding mixologist and the beautiful illustrations throughout make it a talking piece. The mere fact that it marries two passions -- cocktails and art -- with 304 recipes replete with vibrant illustrations make it an ideal gift. It was, in fact, a gift for a close friend earlier this year and he can vouch for it.

Waiting for a bull market?
Here's the cover

Mix it well
Sukasa Stars: 4.5 / 5

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

D'Arenberg d'Arry's Original Shiraz Grenache 2010

"Winter is Coming" but Sukasa Style doubts that the characters in the George R.R. Martin's The Game Of Thrones enjoyed the quality of the wines available to us all given our global marketplace: case in point is this week's Wine Wednesday pick - D'Arenberg d'Arry's Original Shiraz Grenache 2010 - hailing from McLaren Vale, Australia available at LCBO (VINTAGES 942904) for $19.95/ bottle.

This is more expensive than the wines we have reviewed recently but the quality in vintage after vintage remains consistently good; it is an exceptionally friendly wine that will please a Christmas crowd accustomed to sipping yet serious enough to pair with rich food and balanced enough to lay in a cellar for another decade. The blending of syrah and grenache has been mastered in the Rhône wine region but here is a characteristically bold and powerful Australian take on the blend courtesy of Chief Winemaker Chester d'Arenberg Osborn and Senior Winemaker Jack Walton.

Made in: McLaren Vale, Australia
By: D'Arenberg Wines
Red Wine 14.4% Alcohol/Vol.
Style: Full-bodied & Smooth
Varietal: Shiraz and Grenache Blend
Sugar Content: 6.2 g/L  | pH: 3.37  |Sweetness Descriptor: D - Dry

LCBO Tasting Note 
(53% grenache and 47% syrah this vintage): Vivid ruby. Intense red and dark berry aromas complicated by notes of rose, white pepper and licorice. Explosive black raspberry and cherry compote flavors are firmed by a touch of bitter chocolate and show very good depth. Dusty tannins give grip to a long, focused finish. This wine acts like a mullet in reverse: party in the front, business in the back. Score - 91. (Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar, July 2012)

Sukasa Tasting Notes
The nose reminded me of... Christmas Pudding
The nose remains a mixture of sweet and savory reminding your reviewer of a flaming plum pudding after Christmas dinner while the intense cherry red colour is inviting.
Having enjoyed this wine for a number of years the consistency of the vintages remains remarkable despite changes in weather patterns and harvests. The high alcohol, often a trademark of full bodied Australian reds, gives the initial tasting some heat that isn't necessarily off putting because there are smooth tannins courtesy of the shiraz and slightly firmer tannins courtesy of the grenache on the palate. If you have the time then decanting is always recommended. The mouthfeel is concentrated and may feel a bit fruit forward but this isn't the case throughout as the spice and leather comes through later and there is enough acidity to pair bite through holiday fare.

Food pairing: Prime rib, duck, cornish hen.
Serve at 17oC
Cellar for up to a decade.
Decant before serving -- this can be a crowd pleasing sipper and a terrific food wine.

Sukasa Stars: 4.55 / 5
QPR (Quality Price Ratio) : Very Good - Excellent

(Reviewed by Arijit Banik for Sukasa Style)

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Bowmore 12-Year Old Enigma #ScotchSunday Review

Bowmore Duty Free Line
It is a known fact and a reality of life that Canadians pay significantly more for life's epicurean pleasures than our American neighbours: purchasing power parity (the law of "one price") only exists in textbooks, not real life. So when the opportunity arises to purchase a single malt whiskey south of the border we jump at the chance. Which brings us to this week's SukasaStyle Scotch Sunday pick: Bowmore 12-Year Old "Enigma" made specifically for the duty free / travel retail market.

Bowmore Duty Free Line

A short video from Bowmore with Master Blender Iain Macullum is provided below:

For more videos related to Bowmore go to and single malt generally, check out SingleMaltTv

Sukasa Tasting Notes
For those looking for a characteristic Islay replete with "enough peat that one could eat" this dram may disappoint; that definitely wasn't our view though.

On the one hand, those new to Islay malts should remember that Bowmore is neither a mild  nor heavy peaty malt: it is middling on the peat and smoke scale but, on the other hand, this product is a hybrid in the truest sense with a deep, dark colour and a medicinal, peaty nose which is not characteristic of what follows -- is this the inspiration for the namesake "Enigma"?

Those who view the products of eastern Islay distilleries Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Ardberg and Caol Ila as true Islay malts must remember that what makes the world of single malt scotches enticing is that each distillery has it own characteristic inputs and the resident malt master play a further hand in the resulting output.

The 12-Year Enigma's palate was one of dark chocolate, caramel, and salt. Adding water brings out the sweetness further, multiplies the smoothness and doesn't shorten the already lengthy finish. The medium body and oily character along with the initial nose could mislead but in the end we felt that this was a superbly balanced and smooth dram suitable for a winter's eve.

At the LCBO the traditional Bowmore 12 Year is priced at $55 for a 750 ml bottle.
The Bowmore 12 Year Enigma at duty free sold for ~ US $45 for a 1L bottle.

Pairing: Fine cigar, smoked salmon, scallops, oysters.

Sukasa Stars: 4.6 / 5
QPR (Quality Price Ratio): Outstanding

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Tilia Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

This week’s Wine Wednesday post goes back to the value segment of the wine market as we travel to Argentina, home to the world’s best steak, best soccer player and best malbec.

But today’s Sukasa Style pick isn’t a malbec, it is a reasonably priced cabernet sauvignon from Bodegas Esmeralda (under the Tilia brand name) in eastern and southern regions of Mendoza.

Tilia Cabernet Sauvignon (2012)
TILIA CABERNET SAUVIGNON | LCBO 163428 | Price $ 12.95 / bottle
Made in: Mendoza, Argentina  By: Bodegas Esmeralda
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Style: Full-bodied & Firm
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Sugar Content: 9 g/L
Sweetness Descriptor: D - Dry

This review covers the 2012 vintage and the only suggestion we have is that that wine may be a little young –hence the full-bodied and firm descriptor by the LCBO—so decanting would be recommended.

Up front the nose is blueberry and we felt it was more on the medium to full side of the body spectrum. The palate reminded your reviewers of a great Chianti: full of acidity yet balanced with flavours of plums and a hint of minerality (that we would normally associated with a Chablis), coupled with some tobacco flavour ultimately leading to a good finish.

This tasted like an expensive wine that could do with another couple of years in the cellar, but at this price point it would also make for a terrific house wine option. Buy a few bottles, one to drink now, and the rest to cellar, and we believe that you will be rewarded without spending a lot.

Food pairing: Spaghetti Bolognese, gourmet burger, braised short ribs.

Suggestion: Decant before drinking now, cellar for 2 years to get full benefits.

Sukasa Stars: 4.4 / 5  (expect rating to improve with age)

QPR (Quality Price Rating): Excellent

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Balvenie 12 Year DoubleWood #ScotchSunday Review

Speyside Distilleries
This Scotch Sunday, Sukasa Style travels to Speyside and reviews The Balvenie 12 Year Old Doublewood. Given the concentration of distilleries in the region it is perhaps not surprising that names like Balvennie, Macallan and Glenfiddich are amongst the best known and loved single malts internationally. As the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival website attests:
Playing host to over half the distilleries in Scotland, Speyside has the greatest concentration of malt whiskies compared to the other whisky-producing regions – the Highlands, the Lowlands and the island of Islay.

The concentration begets competition and competition begets marketing. Balvenie and Macallan are arguably amongst the finest practitioners of the art of persuasion and Balvenie engages its audience, actual and potential through various media channels.
Case in point: below is an appealing video for The Balvenie 12 Year Old Doublewood featuring Sam Simmons, the brand's Global Ambassador, and David Stewart, the distillery's Malt Master for 50 years.

Furthermore, the website describes the tasting notes in the following manner:

All tastings are ultimately subjective but the here is what we took away from the famous malt, aged 10 years in a traditional American oak whiskey cask and then another 2 years in Spanish (ex-sherry) oak casks.

Nose: Fruity and inviting minced pie, reminiscent of a Dickensian Christmas where the upper classes enjoyed the sweet treat replete with sugar, raisins, cider and vanilla.

Taste: Very smooth with a bit of nutmeg and caramel. The sherry influence was definitely apparent in our estimation.

Finish: Uncomplicated
Parting thoughts
  • Pair with dessert and think of this dram is a good digestif. 
  • Drink neat as adding water will dilute the flavour
  • Short finish: this is not a single malt you want to leave in the glass and let linger as doing so will diminish the taste.
  • A single malt to introduce to a beginner, it is also appropriate for the palate of someone who is first and foremost a wine lover.
  • Not for the lovers of peat
  • A quality dram that spurred a legion of imitators

THE BALVENIE 12 YEAR DOUBLEWOOD | LCBO 387316 | Price: $ 84.95 / 750 mL bottle
Made in: Speyside, Scotland, United Kingdom by: Wm. Grant & Sons Ltd  | 40.0% Alcohol/Vol.

Sukasa Stars: 4.5 / 5
Quality Price Ratio: Good

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Wine for food is food for thought: Bodegas Lozano Oristan Gran Reserva, 2007

This Wine Wednesday your friends at Sukasa Style review a Tempranillo (~65%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (~35%) blend from Spain's Bodegas Lozano in La Mancha.

Here is what you should know up front: this is, in our view, a terrific food wine. At first blush, this may be underwhelming news since the palate of many modern drinkers are shaped by exuberant fruit forward tastes that are more conducive to sipping alone, and more importantly for the wine industry, score well on Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate, place well during tastings at competitions, and as such sell well at liquor store by virtue of the aforementioned high scores and prizes.

The 2007 vintage may not do that but what it can do is pair superbly with food.
Gran Oristan 2007 Gran Riserva

This is not an over-oaked entry despite spending time in French and American oak "barricas" -- no, there is a subtlety to that meritage. To the eye it has a classic claret colour (red-violet on the spectrum), while on the nose it is a reminder of various berries and toffee. However, the palate is where treat lies with a hint of prune, toast, and cigar balanced with tannins and a peppery finish. The winery describes it as "Elegant and well balanced in the mouth" and we could not agree more.

 Drink now or be rewarded for your patience by putting a few bottles in the cellar for a few years.

Food pairing (courtesy of a superb dinner at Marben restaurant)
Pedro Ximenez Sherry Glazed Braises Beef (with truffle-pea puree, baby beets, beef bacon)
Radicchio and Serrano Ham Risotto (with scallops, slow roasted park belly, leek, apple)
Charcuterie board

Serving temperature: 17 - 19  oC

Prices: Typically ~ $12 / bottle at US retail  | $21.85 / bottle from B&W Wines earlier this year (minimum order 12 bottle) | $60/bottle (Marben restaurant)

Sukasa Stars: 4.5 / 5

QPR (Quality Price Ratio): Very good (based on Ontario price per bottle that is at a 83% premium over typical US retail prices).

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Laphroaig 10 Year #ScotchSunday Review

No Scotch Sunday would be complete without a tip of the hat to "The Queen of the Hebrides", better known as Islay, and today Sukasa Style reviews the entry level 10 year whiskey from Laphroaig.

When you open Laphroaig's characteristic lime green bottle you immediately smell the salt in the sea air and the seaweed washing on the shore, and perhaps you also think of "the beautiful hollow by the broad bay" (its Gaelic namesake) with its characteristic peat. Whatever the first impression, the salt and seaweed is always paired with a medicinal character and you sometimes get a waft of smoke competing with the iodine. The medicinal flavour was a reason that it was among a select group of Scotch whiskies permitted into the United States during Prohibition -- yes, you could get a doctor to give you a prescription for this dram! As your Sukasa Style reviewers can attest, it is far more effective at curing what ails than a smoother malt.

If you love the nose then you won't be disappointed with what remains in the taste: seaweed, salt, some sherry that is wrapped in smokiness and a surprising bit of sweetness.

Why you should buy it: consider what else is at Kildalton and you have neighbouring Lagavulin and Ardberg, fine distilleries in their own right, and you will be paying $20 more per bottle in Ontario. (Granted, all prices in Ontario are at a hefty premium to those across the national border, but the Laphroaig discount remains).

The finish is big, long, and reminiscent of the salt air. 

For an evening of single malt drinking, please be sure to drink this dram last lest you want everything to taste of Laphroaig.

Price $ 79.95
Made in Scotland, United Kingdom   By: Allied Distilleries Ltd.
43.0% Alcohol/Vol.

Food pairing: Smoked salmon.
Add water to help open up.
Drink last and savour. 

Sukasa Stars: 4.5 / 5
Quality Price Ratio: Excellent

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Grassy never tasted so good

New Zealand's Marlborough Region
Sukasa Style's Wine Wednesday pick is not a hidden gem; it is a wine that should be available to anyone with a taste for Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand's Marlborough region.

In describing our pick, Natalie Maclean has described that "the signature of New Zealand's Marlborough region is evident in the crisp, clean flavours throughout." Of course, we are referring to a winery that makes good wines, year after year, all with the characteristic of Marlborough's terroir. 

VINTAGES 316570 | 750 mL bottle | Price $ 18.95

Made in: Marlborough, New Zealand
By: Delegats Wines Est Ltd
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Style: Aromatic & Flavourful
Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Sugar Content: 4 g/L
Titratable Acidity: 8 g/L
pH: 3.2

Sweetness Descriptor: XD - Extra Dry 

Tasting notes
The easiest way to describe this Marlborough classic is grassy and vegetal. The 2013 vintage showed nice acidity and reminded your humble reviewer of cantaloupe on the nose as well as the minerality that is often associated with a fine Chablis.

Pair with smoked salmon, sashimi, shellfish, mango salad, thai grilled salad.

Serve chilled: ~ 10 oC (50 oF)  (Don't let this warm as the flavours drop off)

Sukasa Stars: 4.45 / 5

Quality Price Ratio: Very Good - Excellent

Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old: incredibly complex, highly underrated

Today's Scotch Sunday review from Sukasa Style centers on an indispensable dram belonging to our core collection, Dalwhinnie 15 year old, and supports the case to steer away from the conventional view that this single malt is not worthy of inclusion in the pantheon of so-called serious single malts, à la Lagavulin or Talisker.
Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old

In his indispensable classic "Malt Whisky Companion" Michael Jackson gave Dalwhinnie 15 year old a score of 76/100 describing it as "lightly peaty" and an "aperitif" with a palate that was "remarkably smooth, long-lasting flavour development. Aromatic, heather-honey notes give way to cut-grass, malty sweetness, which intensifies to a sudden burst of peat."

To be clear, tasting a malt whiskey is akin to tasting wine; it is a personal exercise that is arguably more social than it is scientific: everyone's palate is different yet when your humble blogger was introduced to the wonderful world of single malts a decade ago, his knowledgeable friends instinctively understood that Dalwhinnie was an ideal choice for those accustomed to blended scotches yet apprehensive and overwhelmed by the choice of single malts.

In our opinion, the long finish and smoothness of this scotch do not come at the expense of complexity. It is an ever evolving single malt that changes as you drink it in one sitting and over time as you make your way through the bottle. The rich straw colour belies a palate profile that is reminiscent of citrus, dried fruits, honey and grass in varying amounts. However, upon first opening the bottle, it is harsher then expected -- almost medicinal -- before opening up to the characteristic smoothness that it is known for. Is this a result of the geography as the second highest distillery in Scotland (see below)?
The people from Diageo in conjunction with David Broom have provided a useful flavour map (below) which can be downloaded at the link provided here.

Dalwhinnie on the Flavour Map (
Source: Great Whiskeys (DK Books, 2009)

LCBO Summary
DALWHINNIE 15 YEARS OLD SCOTCH WHISKY  | LCBO 238097 | 750 mL bottle | Price $ 89.95
Made in: Scotland, United Kingdom
By: James Buchanan & Co. Ltd. (owned by Diageo plc)
Spirits, Whisky/Whiskey, Single Malt Scotch
43.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Taste Profile: Medium & Sweet 
Tasting Note: Bright gold colour; soft heather, peat & light smoke nose; medium body, smooth lightly smoky finish
Serving Suggestion: serve with smoked salmon

Our Sukasa Style takeaway is that Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old is a single malt worthy of a special toast or a regular imbibe: you serve it to friends because you like them and they will surely return the favour. We recommend as an ideal single malt to those graduating from blended scotches.

Serve straight.

Sukasa Stars: 4.65 / 5

Quality Price Ratio: Very Good

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Les vins de Moueix sont Mieux

The first decade of the millennium has been kind to Bordeaux with Robert Parker's Wine Advocate characterizing much of the 2000, 2005, and 2009 vintages as being outstanding for the higher end vineyards  But with great hype from influential critics comes greatly exaggerated prices; and with exaggerated prices comes the snobbery of some oenophiles and their hangers on crowding out those who may be genuinely interested in the wines of Bordeaux yet do not have the deep pockets to saunter to the table to appreciate them.

It does not have to be so.

Christian Moueix, scion of the the French wine establishment and Decanter's 2008 Man of the Year, has marketed for a number of years wines that are characteristic of the Établissements Jean-Pierre Moueix estates in Saint-Émilion and Pomerol but at a price point not requiring one to dip into a home equity line of credit to enjoy, as one would have to if a case of Chateau Pétrus 2003 was on order (costing $4229/bottle in Ontario).

Moueix's value wines are this week's Wine Wednesday (#WW #WineWednesday) recommendations courtesy of your friends at SukasaStyle: Les vins de Moueix sont Mieux (Moueix's wines are better).

CHRISTIAN MOUEIX MERLOT (V)   $15.95 | VINTAGES 961227 | 750 mL bottle

Made in: Bordeaux, France
By: Jean Pierre Moueix
Release Date: Apr 18, 2013
Wine, Red Wine
13.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Style: Medium-bodied & Fruity
Varietal: Merlot
Sugar Content: 5 g/L
Sweetness Descriptor: XD - Extra Dry

LCBO Description / Tasting Note
Christian Moueix, the man behind legendary wines Chateau Pétrus and Dominus, also makes smashing wines at appealing prices like this fragrant Merlot with its plum and black cherry flavours. A Bordeaux for everyday meals such as beef stew, pepperoni pizza or grilled pepper steak.

SukasaStyle Notes:
With a ruby colour, and fruity nose one needs to drink this dry red, along with other Moueix entries, with food given its acidity. On the palate, there are tannins with a comfortable mouthfeel leading to a finish that is simple and satisfying. Try pairing with pizza or risotto and serve at 16-17 oC

Sukasa Stars: 4.35 / 5
Quality Price Ratio: Good


CHRISTIAN MOUEIX SAINT-ÉMILION 2009  $20.95 | VINTAGES 979955 | 750 mL bottle

Made in: Bordeaux, France
By: Jean Pierre Moueix
Release Date: Oct 12, 2013
Wine, Red Wine
13.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Style: Full-bodied & Smooth
Varietal: Bordeaux Red
Sugar Content: 5 g/L
Sweetness Descriptor: XD - Extra Dry

LCBO Description / Tasting Note
Musky, sultry nose on this Bordelaise staple by Christian Moueix. The palate is peppery, sweaty, floral and vibrant. Quite appealing for the price point. Medium to full bodied with balanced alcohol, generous fruit and integrated tannins. The finish delivers some curious soapy, salty notes along with wood spice. Tasted August 2012. Score - 89. (Sara d'Amato,, Sept. 15, 2012)

SukasaStyle Notes:
Red and purple hue and a nose that is more floral than expected. The reason this wine is favoured by your scribe yet may not be by many tasters is the mineral nature of the body --one gets the sense of the terroir drinking this-- and the taste was smooth yet balanced with tannins and a medoum-long finish. There was the sense that this was a much more expensive wine that deserved to be opened after 6-7 years in the cellar to bring out its full character.

Sukasa Stars: 4.55 / 5

Quality Price Ratio: Very Good-Excellent


CHRISTIAN MOUEIX POMEROL 2009   $29.95 | VINTAGES 903013 | 750 mL bottle

Made in: Bordeaux, France
By: Jean Pierre Moueix
Release Date: Jun 22, 2013
Wine, Red Wine
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Style: Medium-bodied & Fruity
Varietal: Bordeaux Red
Sugar Content: 5 g/L
Sweetness Descriptor: XD - Extra Dry

LCBO Description / Tasting Note
A Merlot-dominated 'house wine' from right-bank specialists JP Moueix. ...So, so, so much better than most basic Bordeaux. Brilliantly flattering fruit spreads right across the palate. I honestly find it quite hard to believe this is as cheap as it is. Maybe it won't go anywhere much but it is VVGV (Very, Very Good Value). Drink: 2012-2015. Score - 16.5 (out of 20). (Jancis Robinson, MW,, Oct. 16, 2012)

SukasaStyle Notes:
Arguably the most fruit forward of the Moueix entries, it can be enjoyed by itself but comes out well when paired with steak. Spicy and woody on the nose coupled with fleshy tannins make this an appealing wine. Serve at 16-17 oC or cellar for another 5 years and you will be rewarded.

Sukasa Stars: 4.5 / 5
Quality Price Ratio: Very Good