3 Things – Feb 25th

1) Scotch (or whiskey) Stones 
I admittedly have never tried these but my sister in law asked for my thoughts on them so I figured why not kick off this week’s 3 things post with a few comments (admittedly with a little research).  For those that don’t know what Scotch Stones are, they are small cubes of soapstone that you freeze.  You then put them into your whiskey where they give you the benefits of a chilled drink without remotely altering the flavour.  The purist whiskey drinker likely prefers to drink the scotch neat which means to add nothing except perhaps a small touch of water.  Others do prefer to have a slightly chilled drink, however when the ice cubes begin to melt they will alter the flavour.  So the scotch stones make sense.  Personally I like my scotch neat with only a touch of water.  But I do like it chilled so I can see myself enjoying these.  Either way there are many gimmicks in the world of beverage alcohol and I can confidently say I don’t think these are one of them.

2) Right Bank and Left Bank Bordeaux
You probably hear the terms Right Bank and Left Bank Bordeaux thrown around quite a bit.  In referring to these small regions of France it’s quite common to simply say “Left Bank” and assume people know what you’re talking about.  However you may not have a clue.  In fact a lot of people probably don’t know.  Outside of knowing that Bordeaux is a great wine region you may not now exactly what Bordeaux means.  So I thought I would clarify.  For starters Bordeaux is a region in the southwest of France.  It is probably the most famous wine region in the world, garnering the highest price points for wine.  The two banks of Bordeaux are separated by the Garonne river.  Not surprisingly to the west of the river is the Left Bank and to the east is the Right Bank.  Outside of geography the key differences lie in the grapes used in red wine production.  Red wines in Bordeaux are blends, always made from Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot and to some extent Petit Verdot and Malbec.  The main difference however is that on the left bank the blends tend to be Cab Sauv dominated, whereas on the right bank they tend to be merlot and cab franc dominated.  While red wine is certainly the majority of Bordeaux wine produced they also make a famous sweet white wine.  The city of Sauternes is part of the Bordeaux Region, where they grow Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion for the production of this sweet wine.
Key Left Bank Regions: Margaux, Graves, Medoc
Key Right Bank Regions: Saint-Emilion, Pomerol 
This is a very simple and short definition of a great wine making region.  However the next time it comes up in conversation or the next time you are looking at a Medoc in the LCBO, I hope you’ll have a better understanding of what it actually means.

3) A quick note about Prince Edward County
Playing second fiddle to the Niagara region on the Ontario wine scene can’t be easy for a region trying to make a name for itself.  But Prince Edward County (PEC) is a region you need to take note of.  They have a great culture promoting homegrown viticulture, gastronomy, and tourism.  It’s like a small town everywhere you go.  However more importantly to the wine drinkers out there they have a wonderful cool climate that is conducive to some great wine making.  For many popular grapes (Cab Sauv, Riesling, etc) they remain a bit behind.  However for the production of the classic cool climate grapes of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay they are playing with the big boys and making some beautiful wines.  Only about 2 hours from Toronto it’s worth the trip out there and if you can’t make it buy some from the LCBO next time and give them a shot.
Here are some wineries to check out:
Chadsey Cairns: www.bychadseyscairns.com
Closson Chase: www.clossonchase.com
Karlo Estates: www.karloestates.com
Lacey Estates: www.laceyestates.com 

– Mark
Follow me on Twitter: @towineman 

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