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The Enomatic: Wine-tasting Technology

Wednesday, July 30, 2008 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

The Enomatic Wine Serving System
There’s an interesting article in the Globe and Mail about the wine dispensing system, Enomatic, which is gaining popularity in North American restaurants and bars. Here’s how it works: Bottles of wine are lined inside a high-tech vending machine that dispenses one-, two- or five-ounce pours. Immediately after the wine comes out, the system automatically injects an oxygen-buffering layer of argon or nitrogen into the top of the bottle, which Enomatic says will keep the wine fresh for more than three weeks.

Invented by two Italians in 2002, there are now 5,000 Enomatic machines around the world, and if you can find one at a wine bar in your area, give it a shot (or maybe several shots?). If you’re on a budget, or just want to try several different wines, these machines will save you from usual vinegary, oxidized wine-by-the-glass offerings at bars and restaurants. An Italian café/restaurant near my office, Mercatto, installed the sleek-looking Enomatic recently and I’ve been taking advantage of it to taste some more expensive vintages. In fact, the glass in my blog photo is an excellent Vino Nobile di Montepulciano poured from Mercatto’s Enomatic. Instead of paying $100 for the bottle, I enjoyed a glass of it – with all its delicate flavours intact – for $16. Cheers to that.

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Red Wine Review: Casa Silva 2005 Syrah

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

Red Wine Review: Casa Silva 2005 Syrah ($17)

I like the fact that wineries around the world are increasingly challenging the status quo and experimenting with different varieties. Italian producers are growing French varietals, while Californian wine-makers are creating excellent Sangiovese-based wines.

A decade ago, if you looked for wine from Chile, you’d invariably come across bottle upon bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Now you can find a much wider variety of Chilean offerings. This week’s Syrah from Chile’s Colchagua Valley is a perfect illustration of this point. I had never tried a Syrah from Chile before and didn’t know what to expect, so it was a pleasant surprise to find a gem.

The nose on the Casa Silva 2005 Syrah ($17) is magnificent, with cracked black pepper, charred wood and dark leather mixed with Middle Eastern spices. The palette rolls out massive waves of tannins that you want to ride like a surfer for as long as possible. Dark cherry flavors come through on the back end. It’s tough to pinpoint the exact reasons, but this Syrah is different from any other Syrah I’ve tasted. Maybe Chile’s cooler night temperatures soften it out.

It’s not surprising that the Casa Silva winery produced a hit. The family-owned vineyard was founded in the late 1800s by an immigrant from Bordeaux, and they often win awards at prestigious international wine shows, including a Best South American Producer honor at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London.

Quaffability Rating: 88

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Red Wine Review: Pennyfield Petit Verdot 2005

Wednesday, July 9, 2008 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

Wine Review: Pennyfield Petit Verdot 2005 ($25)

In Bordeaux, Petit Verdot is traditionally used in small amounts as a blending grape, to add tannins and color. The late-ripening grape often gets wiped out by rains in the Bordeaux region, so it’s falling out of favor, but fear not, Petit Verdot lovers, because New World winemakers have stepped up to the rescue. The grape is making a comeback in Australia, California and South America, where the climates allow Petit Verdot to mature fully. If you enjoy big red wines, Petit Verdot is a good way to go.

This week’s featured wine is a Petit Verdot from the Riverland region of South Australia. The Pennyfield Basket Pressed Petit Verdot 2005 ($25) is hand-crafted using traditional techniques. The nose gives out floral and smoky aromas. After one swig, the tannins coat my mouth with a tartness that makes me chew my cheeks. I taste loads of Sour Chews, which reminds of the days as a kid when I used to buy Sour Chews from the dispenser at the supermarket to see how many I could jam into my mouth at the same time. This wine has a sweet-and-sour backbone, with some interesting notes of cowhide and slightly burned fresh-out-of-the-oven pie crust. It's a stellar wine that begs for pairing with rich foods, such as barbequed pork or ribs.

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Michal Kapral has been enjoying wine at home since way before he was of legal age. The editor-in-chief of Canadian Running magazine runs marathons to burn off all the calories he consumes on wine and cheese. Kapral spent some time living in Italy as a teenager, solidifying his appreciation for all things wine-related. In his days as a journalism student, he was likely one of the youngest – and poorest – subscribers to Wine Spectator magazine. In 1999, Kapral turned down a job at a winery to work at Captivate, where he spent 11 years as a news editor.


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The Quaffer

Highlighting the best new wines from around the world, in the price range of $10-40, Michal "The Quaffer" Kapral reminds viewers some of the finer things in life are most definitely within their reach. This feature focuses on North American wines and includes reviews, food pairings and news from the world of wine.