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The third Thursday of November marks International Beaujolais Nouveau Day across the world. This new and young wine was made to celebrate the end of the harvest and became a very popular event in the 1980’s both here in Canada and other parts of the world. For over 10 years, Nancy and I hosted an annual Beaujolais Nouveau tasting and dinner party at our home with our friends. It was always a mad dash to get to the liquor store on that special Thursday and pick up 4-6 offerings of that year’s Beaujolais Nouveau.

I made up tasting/scoring sheets, and all of our tastings were done blind. I was the only one that knew which wines were which. The offerings always included products from France, Italy and Canada. In the early days the Canadian offerings were a dead giveaway. They were pale in the glass and often had some degree of effervescene = bubbles! And they were abysmal. Later years showed that the Italian wines, called Novello, were often outstanding. We always had a great deal of fun filling in our score sheets and there was never a right or wrong answer, but it was always interesting to tabulate the popular votes amongst the eight of us.

This year I purchased one French, one Canadian, and two Italian versions of Beaujolais Nouveau:

These wines ranged in price from left to right as: $8.95, $10.95, $9.95 and $8.95.

As of this writing we have only sampled the Novello Del Veneto from Italy, and it was outstanding. Fruity, with a fabulous bouquet, and everything you would expect from a classic Beaujolais Nouveau. These wines are never to be taken too seriously. They are young, fruity and probably won’t last past Christmas due to their lack of tannins. Buy some now and enjoy a bottle or two with your Christmas turkey.

In conjunction with International Beaujolais Nouveau Day, another event came to Toronto as a result: The Gourmet Food & Wine Expo. For many years this event has launched on the very same third Thursday of November. Today I visited the Expo by myself with my camera in hand. Doors opened at 2 pm and I navigated to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre by TTC. It was an easy trip from the Broadview Subway Station to catch the 504 King Street car which took me to Simcoe Street downtown. A short walk down to Front Street and I was at the Convention Centre within 30 minutes from home. The tall buildings and CN Tower are always amazing to see in our beautiful downtown:

There was no line-up when I arrived at 2:15 and I quickly purchased a sheet of tasting tickets which was $20 for twenty tickets. Depending on the relative cost of the wine, tasting tickets were anywhere from 1 to 5 or more tickets. Upon entering the show floor at the North Building, you were able to help yourself to a complimentary tasting glass:

My plan was to start at the far western end of the show floor and zig-zag my way up and down the aisles to try and see everything. I prefer red over white wines, and really enjoy big robust, migraine-giving tannin wines. So Australia, Chile, Argentina, Shiraz, Malbec, Syrah, were on my list.

Starting out easy, I found this Barossa Shiraz from Jacob’s Creek:

http://www.jacobscreek.ca/wines/reserve/shiraz

This is listed at the LCBO as stock #665471 for $16.95. I won’t get into all of the standard flowery descriptions of the nose, the legs, the colour etc., except to say this was a very decent wine for the money.

Food was certainly prominent at this event, and although I didn’t sample too many different foods, there were numerous demonstration areas along with tutored tastings that were available. The Food Network had a demonstration area but nothing was going on at the time I walked past:

And then I met my new neighbours from Amsterdam Brewery.

http://amsterdambeer.com/

They have just relocated their primary brewing facility to 45 Esandar Drive which is located just off of Laird Drive in East York. I sampled their Big Wheel Amber Ale and it was delicious!

Being a locavore for food, what can be more local than picking up my beer supplies a few kilometres from my house? My new neighbours were great and I know I will be visiting them on a regular basis.

Getting back to tasting some wine, next up was the Montresor Amarone della Valpolicella. LCBO #240416 at $31.00. This is a big, fat, terrific wine guaranteed to give Nancy a migraine. Lots of tannin and flavour. Wow!

The guys at Rock Lobster seem to be at every food/wine show around town.

http://www.rocklobsterfood.com/

And whoever is doing their social media postings via Twitter is doing a fantastic job:

Buick was a major sponsor of this event and had some challenge to bounce ping pong balls into these glasses:

And now I am going to shoot myself in the foot by telling everyone about this fabulous wine. Called JP Red from Portugal, this is a real find. Smooth with a great finish. LCBO #286195. And are you ready for this… $8.95 a bottle. So there, I’ve done it. I have now ruined it for me finding it anytime soon!

I’m sure that everyone has heard the radio commercials for Cono Sur about their winery and their bicycles. I sampled their Cono Sur Reserva Syrah, LCBO #221820 at $13.95 per bottle. This is another bargain!

Are you looking for Maritime lobster delivered to your door in Toronto? The folks at Maritime Lobster can do just that:

http://maritimelobster.ca/

I love going to these shows because you always find a few outstanding items. I was totally blown away by these hand-crafted cutting boards. These are truly works of art and I spoke with the craftsman’s wife, Janet. They are crafted out of maple and set as an end grain which won’t dull your knives.

http://www.planet-creations.ca/indexEng.html

Located near Montreal, they will ship anywhere in Canada. Here are a some photos of their amazing products:

Back to the wine tasting. Next up, Rosewood Estates from Beamsville, Ontario. I tasted the 2010 Pinot Noir which was fantastic:

The Malbec grape and Argentina produce so many amazing wines. I first fell in love with the Malbec grape when I visited the Cahors region of France which makes heavy use of Malbec grapes in their wines. Domain Jean Bousquet Malbec Organic from Argentina was another great discovery today. LCBO #160952, $12.95 per bottle:

With five tickets left, I was looking for a show stopper, and I found it. St. Hallett Blackwell Shiraz 2008 from Australia. LCBO #535104, it sells for $34.95 per bottle. Yes Nancy, this is a headache wine for you! Wow, wow, and wow!

Seven wines in two hours and I had had enough! It was a great show with so many fabulous wines, beers and food offerings. It was way too much to cover in such a short span of time. Thank goodness for the venue being close to the TTC. This is not an event that you should drive home from! Looking forward to next year.

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