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If I only had $100…I would buy at LCBO Vintages

August 19, 2016 10:19 am
If I only had $100…I would buy at LCBO Vintages

I’ve got one eye on the Olympics, and the other on my tasting notes. Canada’s collection of medals is on the rise. I applaud our Olympic athletes; even volleyball never looked like this when I was in high school!

OK…now to focus.

This Vintages release at the LCBO is offering products called “The Next Big Thing” – how catchy is that? Germany gets some spotlight especially on their Riesling wines. Having just been on a trip to Niagara, I have to admit that I find our own Rieslings impossible to beat. And as for the “Next Big Thing,” I’ve found a few wines in this blog that you can sip while watching the final weekend of the Olympic games.

Edelweisss Edelweiss 2014

Cave de Jolimont, Switzerland
$17.95 (Vintages #385021) 11.5% alcohol

 I rarely have the opportunity to taste Swiss wine but this is worth the search if you like a light-bodied, delicate, pretty white wine. I learned that the Chasselas grape is golden in colour and is often referred to by Swiss winemakers as “goldilocks”. The result is a light bodied white wine with floral tree fruit flavours, some citrus at the end that adds interest to the bone dry skinny finish. It would pair well with raclette or a cheese tray with creamy soft brie-type cheeses. Chilled well, it makes a lovely sipper for a hot summer afternoon.

Did you know? The Chasselas grape has a long intriguing history. It’s genesis is in eastern France and the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Known by different names from Fendant to Valais, this grape variety can be found in monastic records dating before the 1600’s. Although grown in the Pouilly-Fume region in France, it is considered a lowly cousin, but it continues to grow throughout Europe and is by far Switzerland’s most planted varietal. It buds early and has lots of vigor. It is not an acidic grape so it is often blended with other more forthcoming varietals.

zenatoZenato Pinot Grigio 2015

IGT Delle Venezie, Italy
$15.95 (Vintages #37648) 12.5% alcohol

 If I had to choose one grape variety for summer sipping, hands down, the versatile Pinot Grigio would steal the show. It will take you from mid-afternoon aperitif to late evening. Chilled down, it’s cool and refreshing. This particular Pinot Grigio is the perfect example. I find it especially aromatic and the dancing zippy flavours on the palate from lemon-lime citrus to green apple are crisp and delicious. There’s a little steeliness on the finish – this is a good thing. To be paired with summer salads, fish, chicken or put a bottle in the picnic basket – it’s a great summer wine.

tthThe Tragically Hip Fully Completely Grand Reserve Red 2013  

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Stoney Ridge Estate Winery
$24.95 (Vintages #411595) 13% alcohol

 The date of this release, 20 August, marks sadly the final concert performance of The Tragically Hip. This limited edition red wine is being released to commemorate The Hip announcement of the re-release of their legendary album Fully Completely and the band’s last North American Tour. This wine is the ideal way to celebrate the band’s rise to stardom and to toast lead singer Gord Downie.

One waft from the glass offers unmistakably fresh Cabernet Franc and luscious aromas of ripe red berries in a traditional Meritage blend. Combined with the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes the melange is full, rounded and delivers effortlessly, huge juicy dark ripe tree fruit, whispers of blueberries with subtle savoury undertones. A hint of green pepper and black pepper polishes it off. The tannins are soft but noticeable, medium bodied and balanced with tobacco and a little mocha on a juicy finish. The finale is long and memorable.

Did you know? The artistic label on the bottle is a replication of the original artwork that first appeared on the Fully Completely album cover. The wine was also co-created by band members in conjunction with Stoney Ridge Head Winemaker (and Savvy friend), Jeff Hundertmark. For Tragically Hip fans, make sure you grab a few bottles. As I mentioned…this is a limited edition in more ways than one and it’s going to fly off the shelves.

MaianaLeone De Castris Maiana Salice Salentino 2014

DOC, Puglia, Italy
$14.95 (Vintages #717959) 13.5% alcohol

Juicy, rich and fresh ripe red fruit with whispers of a little mocha and chocolate. Medium to full bodied with well-integrated tannins and fine tuned acidity. I could not believe the price point and this is also on my hit-list. Easy drinking and well-crafted. It’s more than just a pizza wine. It’s a red wine that would span anything from a charcuterie plate to a prime rib roast. Pick up and store a few bottles for heartier fare this winter (yes, the W word!) or enjoy it now with BBQd portobello or burgers.

Did you know? Straight from Puglia, located in the southeast corner of Italy where there are 25 DOCs, not DOCGs (spot the difference?). The major red grapes are Negroamaro which has been planted since the 6th century and Malvasia grapes which have been known to soften the tannins of the former. The Salice Salentino region vineyards are surrounded by water on three sides allowing cool breezes from the Mediterranean to moderate vineyard temperatures.

gerardGérard Bertrand Terroir Corbières 2013

AP, France
$16.95 (Vintages #394288) 13.5% alcohol

 I recommended a Gérard Bertrand Viognier in my last blog, so when I saw this red wine, I was already ready for another quality wine from this winemaker. Full and rounded, black currants spring to the surface with deep dark concentrated black fruit, in the aromas and on the palate. An always robust favourite blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre that have been aged 12 months in oak barrels that lends to the rich, easy drinking with a polished texture, a little pepper and friendly liquorice on the finish – loads of personality. A marbled grilled steak would be perfect with a glass of this wine!

Did you know? Gérard Bertrand was awarded the title of Red Winemaker of the Year in 2012 at the International Wine Challenge. He retired from his rugby career to take over the family estate after the accidental death of his father. He has become a renowned wine grower and winemaker in Langedoc-Rousillon region. Clay and limestone soils with a kaleidoscope of climates and temperatures constitute the terroir Corbières that stretches from the Pyrenees to the Montagne Noir. The wine literally comes with a message of the terroir. Plus it’s a pretty nice country to do some sightseeing & wine touring.

Grand Total: $ 90.75

Look what I have saved you!

TIP: If you can find an extra $13.00, I recommend to add a bottle of Sunnybrook Estate Series Strawberry Wine 2014 ($22.95- Vintages#). Made in Niagara, if you love ripe Ontario strawberries, here is a way to enjoy them all year round.

Go Canada Go! We’re cheering you on,


Job Posting: Web Editor and Features Writer

August 18, 2016 12:24 pm
Job Posting: Web Editor and Features Writer

Ottawa Life Magazine
Ottawa, ON
Closing Date: August 26, 2016

Who We Are:

Ottawa Life Magazine is the capital’s longest running bi-monthly magazine. We are a general interest publication that shines a spotlight on the amazing things happening in this city. Right now we’re in the midst of a full website redevelopment, changing everything from our look to content strategy. We work in the heart of the city, between Parliament and the Nature Museum, to follow the city’s biggest power players and trendsetters.


The Web editor will be a leader in reshaping our online presence. You regular duties would also include editing all editorial content before it goes online, and organizing when web pieces will be published. The web editor works closely with a small team of staff and writers to meet deadlines and increase our social media following.

As a features writer, you would craft engaging and informative articles for both print and the web, sharing your work with our tens of thousands of readers on both platforms.


Experience editing others work both for accuracy, clarity and CP style
Experience researching, interviewing and writing under tight deadlines
A proven ability to manage a variety of tasks under pressure
Must be a self-starter and able to work independently, often with minimal or no supervision
Managerial experience and a knack for social media is an asset

To Apply:

E-mail your resume, cover letter and up to three examples of published work PDF or direct link format to Eric@ottawalife.com.

OLM Pet of the Week- Meet Clea

12:03 pm
OLM Pet of the Week- Meet Clea

All photos provided by Eastern Ontario Potcake Rescue.

For this week’s Pet of the Week we’re excited to introduce you to Clea, an adorable two-year-old “Potcake” who has travelled all the way to Canada from West End Grand Bahama. For those unfamiliar with the breed name, a Potcake is the name given to the stray dogs of Turks & Caicos and the Bahamas. Clea was found living by herself as a three-month-old stray and has since made her way to Canada with hopes of finding a forever home and adding a little extra warmth to Canadian hearts. Clea is up for adoption with Eastern Ontario Potcake Rescue.

Clea is an absolutely adorable athletic girl who loves to spend hours racing around the backyard, watching squirrels and looking for the perfect stick. While outdoors she may seem like a cute bundle of high energy, she’s also very happy to hang out on the couch and relax indoors with you. She is non-aggressive towards adults or children and is often seen with a huge smile and an open heart.

Clea is a smart girl and has passed her beginner training and has learned to walk well on a leash. While she is friendly with cats and male dogs, she can be reactive with other female dogs, so she would be best suited in a household where she is an only dog or has a canine brother. She is spayed, micro-chipped, up-to-date on all her vaccinations, and currently weighs 55lbs.

If Clea sounds like the right fit for your home, you can email Eastern Ontario Potcake Rescue at  saveapotcake@gmail.com for an adoption application.

About the Rescue:

EOPR rescues Potcakes and Jampups from Turks & Caicos and Jamaica and finds them forever loving homes here in Eastern Ontario! Their mission is to work with on-island rescue partners to help get homeless dogs off the islands so that they have a chance at a happy life. They also strive to foster educational programs about these dogs, the humane treatment of animals and fundraising to help facilitate donations and spay/neuter & wellness clinics on Caribbean Islands.

OLM Pet of the Week is a weekly segment on our site which showcases adoptable pets in our Capital. Each week a new pet will be featured in order to help them find a loving forever home. Any Ottawa-based animal rescue interested in having an adoptable pet featured can email isabel@ottawalife.com.

Sloan to Play Classic Album in Full at Arboretum Festival

11:47 am
Sloan to Play Classic Album in Full at Arboretum Festival


Sloan is back again for a little mid-90’s time traveling. In 2012 the band revisited their classic album Twice Removed with a triple-LP rerelease as well as playing it in full on tour. This year, the Juno winning One Chord to Another is getting the same treatment.

392392_10151561203424354_1487636472_nFormed in 1991 on the East Coast, band members Chris Murphy, Andrew Scott, Patrick Pentland and Jay Ferguson named themselves Sloan after a friend’s boss gave him the nickname “Slow One”. In his thick French accent it came out as Sloan. The name stuck but the band would be far from sluggish.

The now Toronto-based group launched murderecords shortly after forming and were soon signed to Geffen where they released Smeared. The album, which only cost $1,200 to record, went gold. Twice Removed followed and is considered one of the best Canadian albums of all time. The band saw quick success but problems with Geffen not promoting their releases saw them taking a break amid rumours of a break up.

The band rebounded from this tumultuous period with One Chord to Another. Not only did Sloan not miss any steps but they added a few new ones to their repertoire. One Chord to Another, with its Beatles inspired pop sound, added some trumpets to the mix. Singles “The Good in Everyone” and “Everything You’ve Done Wrong” became college campus staples with the band’s videos seeing heavier rotation on MuchMusic.

To guitarist Jay Ferguson, this was the beginning of the modern Sloan format. 20 years later, the band continues with its original line-up and they are just fine with reliving some of their glory days on this tour. They are set to headline the Concert Village Main Stage at the Arboretum Music Festival on Friday night. Tickets can be purchased online.

Furguson chatted with Ottawa Life about the keys to the band’s success over the years, why One Chord to Another remains his personal favourite of the group’s releases as well as his memories of recording the album.



Ottawa Life: It’s been 25 years, 12 albums and hundreds of shows. What do you think accounts for the band’s longevity?

Jay Ferguson: It could be any number of things: Fun, joy in the work one does, an artistic outlet for everyone in the band (as everyone writes and sings), splitting the money four ways so we are all in the same boat, moderate success so that you make money to continue but not so much that you can easily rest on your laurels though laurel resting would be nice from time to time.

You guys are out touring for the anniversary of One Chord to Another. This has become a popular practice in recent years for many bands. What went into the process/choice of putting together this particular tour for the album?

We did a 3 LP box set reissue in 2012 of our Twice Removed album, and that item, along with the subsequent tour of playing the LP in full, was a successful endeavour. So, the next logical choice was to do the same for One Chord to Another, our most popular album sales-wise. Chris and I have kept an extensive Sloan audio/ephemera/posters/etc. archive over the years, so creating these box sets is a great outlet to make useful all the things we’ve stored over the years. So far the box and tour have been successful so hopefully we can continue pursuing as many further sets and tours as our audience can stand!

Can you share with me a particular memory or two that sticks out from recording One Chord to Another?

My favourite memory is playing the piano on “Junior Panthers”. We recorded all the drums for the album on a 4-track cassette machine in our rehearsal space in Halifax. The studio we then moved to in order to rack the rest didn’t have a piano, so we had to record the piano at Chris’ parent’s house. A lovely place, but not exactly a high end recording facility. So in order to record piano, we had to us the 4-track machine again, choose the two tracks of drums to keep and two to use to record the piano. Since I was such a poor piano player, Chris and I had to sit side by side on the piano (“Ebony and Ivory”, anyone?) and form the chords to “Junior Panthers”. Low fidelity amateur hour to say the least!

I read that this one is your personal favourite. Out of all your releases, why this one?

After the difficulty in promoting and touring Twice Removed and subsequent time-off/beak up, we reconvened to record OCTA for our own murderecords label that we had been running concurrently to our tenure on Geffen. We recorded the album at home in Halifax, inexpensively and with little pressure. The fact that it became our bestselling record, and we had more of a handle on ownership, touring, marketing, etc., and that it was on our own label makes it a fairly special LP in our catalogue to me. It was sort of a beginning of the modern day Sloan. The music was pretty good too.

How do you feel the band has evolved since One Chord to Another?

I like to think that I’ve gotten better as a songwriter.

What was it like approaching some of these songs again for this tour and revisiting the release?

It’s fun to play the LP front to back, and I think the fans enjoy it as there are a number of songs on the LP that we don’t play with any regularity. For us, a number of the songs still feature heavily in our set but it was fun re-learning the handful that we have not played in a long while. Took a little bit of homework.

The tour has been going on since April. How has it been received?

It’s been sold out so it seems like a great reaction. We’ve noticed that on this tour –and the Twice Removed tour from 2012– that these types of shows often bring back a fan base that may have dropped off at a certain point. I talk to fans who say they loved the LP in college or whatever and then got a real job, got married, had kids, etc. and kind of didn’t keep up with music after a while but they really wanted to see this show. Then they say how much they enjoyed it and then you see them again next time. So it seems like this type of show re-interests or reinvigorates a portion of the audience that may have dropped off. And we still get new fans too.

What’s been one of your favourite moments on the tour so far?

We’ve been hiring real horn players in each town (as talent allows) to play the horn parts on the LP, so that really adds to the shows. Ivana Santilli on trumpet in Toronto was pretty stellar.

After this, what’s next for Sloan?

We may have a little something released before the holiday season in November, but after that I’m not sure. We still have a lot more OCTA shows to play and we could make new music after that or pursue more reissues. We’ll see.


Ottawa Life’s Festival City Series will provide a unique look at some of your favourite summer events.We’ll go beyond the music with artist interviews, volunteer profiles, concert reviews and spotlights on the tastes, sights and sounds of the festival season. Your city! Your festivals! Your summer! Like a good sunscreen, Ottawa Life has you covered.

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