Here ending another year with all the good and the bad memories that life brings. While we learn from the bad memories and put them on the back of the shelves, it’s nice to have the nice ones on the front. With this idea in mind, I’ll highlight all the good memories of 2018; interesting vineyard visits, fun trips, delicious meals and good wines.
First vineyard visit of the year
First time in my life, I welcomed the new year in summer. It was quite strange at the beginning and didn’t really feel like New Year, but more like a summer holiday – which I like even more. As the celebration of New Year was different, vineyard visits were as well. Rather than a vineyard in a dormant period in January in the Northern hemisphere, we visited a vineyard with vines full of green leaves and grapes. Our way took us to the vineyards in Itata Valley of Chile. The ancient vines and breathtaking views from the hills were unforgettable. You can read more about it here.
Best vineyard visit of the year
Vineyards from Chile, Spain and Canada were on my agenda this year. It’s hard to choose one of them as best, as all are very different from each other with different soil, grape varieties and architecture. In Chile, I visited Itata Valley with ancient vines in gobelet. The main local varieties grown there are Moscatel de Alejandría, País and Cinsault, although international varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah also thrive in some areas of the valley. In Spain, I visited all the denominations of the Aragon region; Campo de Borja, Somontano, Carinena and Catalayud. Although very close to each other each of these denominations had different authorized varieties, but what was in common was Garnacha tinta. Finally, in Canada, I visited Cape Breton island in Nova Scotia and was welcomed by this incredible vineyard view. Due to extreme weather conditions, only French-American hybrid grapes are grown in this area of the province.
Last vineyard visit of the year
Very different from my first vineyard visit, the last one was covered under snow. I visited the vineyards in Sheffield Mills, Nova Scotia. The snow here usually starts early during November. However, due to its favorable location and topography, Vitis vinifera varieties such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling grow well here, along with French-American hybrid grapes such as L’Acadie blanc. The walk uphill is a struggle while it’s all covered with snow and ice, it definitely worth the view.
Best weekend get-away
Montreal is a multicultural city where you can find a vast range of international cuisines and gourmet food. In Montreal you can find a trace from every culture, and they come together with a distinctive balance. This city can fill your soul with art and stomach with good food and wine.
Best dinner of the year
Not only of this year, but this was also the best dinner of my life: El Celler de Can Roca. The dinner in this restaurant was not only about food; it brought memories, stories, emotions and lives together. What made this dinner even more special was the fact that it was a gift from Sherry Wine competition, for my winner Sherry wine & food pairing.
All this experience lasted more than four hours, full of incredible presentations, delicious food and delightful wine pairings. This dinner made me travel, showed me the lives and universe of Roca brothers, introduced me to the local ingredients of Catalonia, took me to a cruise tour in Mediterranean Sea, made me climb to olive trees, collect mushrooms from the forest floor and find a starfish on a net. It was beyond my imagination and exceeded my highest expectations.
Favorite white wine of the year
Camino de Peregrino, Albariño 2017 from Rias Baixas, Spain. Albariño (or Alvarinho) is a Spanish-Portuguese grape variety giving fresh and aromatic white wines. It’s among the oldest varieties in Galicia in north-west Spain. Rias Baixas is a region located in the Atlantic coast creating favorable conditions for Albariño grapes.
This year, Albariño was one of the varieties I was chasing the most. This wine, Camino de Peregrino, was a good selection. Simple, fresh yet surprising with its breezy aromas, it’s a reachable wine and easy to pair even with modest food like salads and sandwiches.
Favorite red wine of the year
Kayra Buzbag Rezerv, Öküzgözü – Boğazkere 2008, Turkey. Öküzgözü and Boğazkere are the local emblematic red grape varieties of Turkey. You usually see them together in the blends, although they can be very interesting as single varietal. Öküzgözü means bull’s eye in Turkish, referring to its large black berries, while Boğazkere means throat burner referring to its high tannin content. They make a great couple together with a long aging potential. If you haven’t tried their blend before, this wine would be a good start that shows typical characteristics.
Favorite rosé wine of the year
Côte des Roses 2016, Gérard Bertrand, Languedoc, France. This is one of those bottles that takes your attention with the packaging and you just find yourself on the check-out. When you open it up, you have the great surprise to see that but inside is even better than its look. You see the rose figure on the bottom of the bottle, and you also taste it in the wine. Fruity, crisp and light, just as expected from a summer wine. It was a great partner-in-crime for homemade salmon ceviche.
Favorite sparkling wine of the year
Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque 2006 Rosé Champagne, France. A blend of three main grape varieties of Champagne, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier, aged for six years. Aging traditional method sparkling wine is already a difficult process: They are aged in the bottles that will be sold to the customer, that’s why you need to keep them clean and protect them from any scratch. In the case of this bottle, it’s even more difficult as the bottles have a special painting on them. This is what makes this bottle even more special.
Belle Époque 2006 has a pale salmon color, fine bubbles, crisp red fruits, orange blossoms, jasmine and toasted bread. It starts with freshness of red fruits, lingers long, and ends with softness of brioche. It’s a champagne to enjoy a bottle now, and age another one a couple years more.
Thank you 2018 for all these enjoyable moments of travelling, eating and tasting wines. I wish a lovely year for all of us in 2019.
All images © 2018 by Wines of Nesli. All rights reserved.