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Wine of the Week: It's a Biggie

Friday, September 25, 2009 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Shiraz 2006 ($15), South Australia

The Kilikanoon Killerman's Run Shiraz 2006 is not afraid to show its outgoing personality. This intense red from South Australia has a deep, inky purple hue and concentrated aromas of bitter chocolate and blackberries. The interplay of dark fruit, leather, intense vanilla bean and black pepper will surely make you stand up and take notice of what you’re drinking. It’s not the kind of wine you sip at a party. This effort, by top Australian winemaker Kevin Mitchell, is like the kid who sits in the front row of class in school and knows the answers to all the teacher’s questions. If you’re into big Shirazes, the Kili will likely impress.

Quaffability Rating: 89

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Wine and Cheese Pairing

Thursday, September 17, 2009 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

The Wine: Flat Rock Cellars Twisted 2008 ($15)
The Cheese: Testadura Italian goat cheese

The Flat Rock Twisted is a unique blend of 59% Riesling, 21% unoaked Chardonnay and 20% Gewurztraminer. Drinking it, I wasn’t sure whether it was sweet, sour, fruity or mineral-y. The truth is, it’s all of the above, which goes to explain why they called the wine Twisted. The surprising things is that it works – the wine is well-balanced and lip-smackingly delicious.

Paired with the Testadura goat cheese, the Twisted gets even more wonky, with the cheese bringing out more and more flinty and nutty flavors. The Testadura goat cheese is tasty enough to eat on its own or with crackers. Much like the last week’s “Drunken” sheep’s milk cheese, the Italian Testadura manages to be both crumbly and silky, with some good acidy to complement the Riesling components in the wine.


Château St. Jean Chard Shines

Friday, September 11, 2009 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

An attractive pale gold color, the Château St. Jean Chardonnay 2007 ($15) has a dry nose of vanilla, butter, yellow plum and pear. The palette exhibits a great balance of honey, peaches and cream, with a hint of bitter citrus peel. Robert Parker’s review talks about mango and pineapple flavours, but I’m not getting those. I like the mix of tart acidity and silky richness. It has a very long finish with a rounded mid-palette, which makes it easy to sip. Serve with pork tenderloin or baked brie. A classic Sonoma at an affordable price.

For those of you in Ontario, look for this one in the Oct. 10 Vintages release.

Quaffability Rating: 90

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Wine and Cheese Pairing

Thursday, September 10, 2009 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

The Wine: Château St. Jean Sonoma 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon ($30)
The Cheese: Cabra al Vino, “Drunken” Spanish Goat Cheese

The Château St. Jean Sonoma 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon ($30) is a classy California Cab, with intense aromas of blackberry, dark cherry and petunia, and a pleasing dose of wine-cellar oak. Maybe it’s because I’m watching the U.S. Open on TV right now, but I’m also smelling new tennis ball, like when you first pop open a fresh can of Dunlops. While I’m normally put off by intense oak, this wine has the backbone and structural integrity to stand up to the oak aging – 15 months in French and American oak barrels. Just as it does on the nose, the flavors hold together well, with a slightly sweet cassis core mingling with oak and black leather jacket. The blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot rounds out the complexity and tannins.

The Château St. Jean really elevated this week’s cheese, a Vino Cabra – or “Drunken” Sheep’s Cheese – from the Murcia region of Spain. The cheese has a beautiful, edible purple rind from being soaked for two to three days in red wine and then aged for 75 days. Because of the rind color, the Cabra has the appearance of a pungent cheese, but its flavor rather delicate. Like most sheep’s cheeses, it has a bit of a bite on the first taste, but the sharpness quickly gives way to a smooth and long finish. Along with a mouthful of the St. Jean, the Cabra’s flavors linger on and on, as the wine’s tannins take the cheese to new heights, filling in any gaps in the cheese’s flavor.


USA Today Launches Wine Club

Wednesday, September 9, 2009 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

USA Today announced yesterday that My Wines Direct has launched the USA Today Wine Club as a destination for the newspaper’s readers and wine consumers to learn about and buy wines from around the world. The club will feature six bottles of wine each quarter for $69.99 plus $11.99 shipping. The wine club will also feature tasting panels by USA Today readers throughout the country, choosing wines for the club. The quarterly pack features wines sourced by experts and chosen by readers. Each wine is accompanied by tasting notes, interesting facts about the region and varietal plus a unique recipe to create a meal pairing.
For more info, visit: USATODAYWineClub.com or call 1-877-WINE-414.

Apologies to my Canadian readers - this one is only available in the U.S.


This Zin has Zing

Friday, September 4, 2009 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

Clos du Val Zinfandel 2006 ($16)

The Clos du Val Zinfandel 2006 ($16) is an excellent steak wine for the tail end of the barbecue season. This is a Zin with a lot of character and refinement, which mostly manages to dodge the fruit-bomb effect that sullies some of the other California Zinfandels. Aromas of strawberry and raspberry intermingle with white pepper and anise, while a good swig reveals more strawberry, but this time with some cherries thrown in, along with tarragon, fennel and black pepper.

Quaffability Rating: 89

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Wine and Cheese Pairing

Thursday, September 3, 2009 by Michal The Joggler Kapral

The Wine: Saint Véran Tastevine Mainson Chardonnier 2005 ($12)
The Cheese: Big Ed's from Homestead Creamery, Cleveland, Wisconsin

The Saint Véran 2005 white Burgundy will appeal to those who shun the excessive oak and butter that often dominates New World Chadonnays. It has flint and grapefruit on the nose and appealing mineral and floral notes on the palette. I paired it up with a great cheese from Wisconsin called Big Ed’s. The Saxon Homestead Creamery in Cleveland, Wisconsin, makes Big Ed’s in small batches and it’s obvious that they take great care in their craft. This cheese packs in a huge amount of flavor that is rounded out by a velvety texture. The hazelnut flavors of the cheese integrated wonderfully with the acid in the Saint Véran. Both the wine and cheese are medium-bodied (if there is such a thing as a medium-bodied cheese?), which made them fine partners. My kids loved the Big Ed’s – always a sign of a good cheese.



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.