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Wine Tourism

Thursday, August 27, 2009 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

For those of you who want to go a step further than drinking wine at home (or at the office), wine region travel is a fast-growing segment in the tourism industry. One trip I heard about recently is called Cycling through the Wine Roads of the Andes, a 10-day excursion with a small group to the wine regions of Argentina and Chile. Starting in Buenos Aires, the bicycle tour begins with visits to barrios, fine restaurants and wine bars, then heads off to Mendoza to sample the region’s Malbecs. From there, the group travels through the Andes over the border into Chile for more dining and wine-tasting. Trip costs start at $4,599.. The package can also be arranged as a private tour for a group or a family. For more information, click here.

There’s another interesting wine travel option in Oregon that starts with a contest. Travel Oregon has launched a “Cuisinternship” (pronounced: quiz-een-turn-ship) contest, which will award seven people with the opportunity to shadow a notable Oregon culinary personality in a week-long cuisine-internship. For wine aficionados, the winner of the Vintner category will learn winemaking techniques from renowned winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash. Entries will be accepted through September 18 at www.TravelOregon.com/Bounty. Applicants need to submit a short video, along with a statement of 140 characters or less saying why they are the best candidate for their dream job.

Last night I tasted an amazing artisan cheese from Wisconsin, but I’m going to hold off on my review of it until I try it with the wine for next Thursdays Wine and Cheese Pairing.


An Office Wine Tasting

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

While I was on holiday for part of August, I had my co-workers at the Toronto office do my wine-tasting job for me. A group of Captivate employees sat down and sampled two bottles of wine from Beringer’s California Collection, which I had left for them in the fridge. When I returned from my vacation, I found a little stack of tasting notes in my mailbox. Everyone said they had a lot of fun doing the tasting, and I think the wines I chose were perfect options for hanging around and socializing. Beringer says these California Collection wines “offer consistent quality for casual drinkers.” I visited the Beringer winery about 10 years ago while traveling through California with my wife. It’s a beautiful spot, and the wines I tasted there were spectacular, but pricey. This sampling is on the extreme value end, at about $7 a bottle each. So here we go with the results of the first-ever Captivate Toronto wine tasting (which, it should be noted, was not held during work hours). The following is a compilation of all the tasting notes from the six people who tried the two wines:

Beringer California Collection White Zinfandel ($7 US)

Color: Soft, misty, pink, rosé, velvety, clear

Aroma: Earthy, alcohol, chilled fruit, peach, strawberry, wine cooler, deceptively sweet aroma, white chocolate, candy, soft, light

Taste: Sweet candy, fruit, soft finish, tangy in the mouth but smooth going down, with a syrupy finish, smooth slow spice, citrus on a palette with a syrupy finish, tastes like icewine, too sweet, refreshing, charming

Beringer California Collection Pinot Grigio 2007 ($7 US)

Color: brilliant, sparkling, clear, sharp, bright, lemony, pale, like sunshine, glowing, shiny

Aroma: light, crisp, tart, tangy, refreshing, sweet, fruity, sharp

Taste: smooth, light, refreshing, fruity, tart, sharp, apple, citrus, smooth finish, earthy, bitter finish, flinty, pungent, long finish, clean

There you have it. Next time I’ll have to ask the group for some more explicit opinions about the wine, but when I asked everyone after the fact, they all said they enjoyed both bottles.


Brothers can you spare some wine?

Friday, August 21, 2009 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

My all-American wine tasting extravaganza moves south from Oregon down the coast to northern Sonoma’s Russian River Valley for the Frei Brothers Pinot Noir 2007 ($16). I don’t usually favor heavier-style Pinots, but the Frei has a soft-enough texture that helps to balance out the slightly aggressive color and body. It has an exceptional balance of tannins and integration of flavor at this price point.

For the tasting, the dark color threw me off immediately, so I was expecting something harsh, but the delicate bouquet of cherries, mint, lavender and spice hinted at great things to come. I was pleasantly surprised at the first taste, which brought dark cherries, earth and oak. There were tons in interesting flavors, all of which were wrapped up in a neat package – nothing crazy, but very enjoyable to drink.

Quaffability Rating: 90

Next week, I’ll be writing up a review of two wines from Beringer. The catch? I didn’t taste them – instead, I had my co-workers try them when I was on holiday and write down their impressions. I haven’t read all of the tasting notes yet, but I’m interested to see if they all jibed.

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Wine and Cheese: An Oregon Pinot and an Italian Sheep’s Cheese

Thursday, August 20, 2009 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

The wine:

The Quaffer’s tour of American wine begins in Oregon’s Willamette Valley with the Andrew Rich Pinot Noir Cuvee B 2006 ($25), and what a way to start with a bang. This wine shows all the seemingly contradictory things that I love about good Pinot Noir: the nose is floral and fruit-filled and smoky, while the color is a transluscent vivid red. You would never guess it had an alcohol content of 14.1%. The tasting mirrored the complexity of the bouquet, with strawberries, raspberries and cherries playing off some strangely appealing earthy flavors. It somehow manages to be both light and powerful at the same time.

The cheese:

I paired up the Andrew Rich with a similarly interesting cheese. Like the wine, the Savello di Roma sheep’s milk cheese was light and fruity but had a backbone of intense flavor. The texture started out very smooth, but maintained its integrity to the finish with a solid nutty flavor. The Pinot Noir shifts several times through phases of flavor, and when paired with a cheese that does the same, it’s pure genius.



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.