Ask The Wine Ladies




Dear The Wine Ladies,

A small group of us get together every couple of months for food and drink and wine is increasingly becoming an important part of our socials. Last month we had a delicious red wine called Chateauneuf du Pape, which I heard, unique to this wine has to be made with thirteen different kinds of grapes. Basically a Cab or Shiraz kind of guy I was just wondering if I heard this right and also if there might be a white Chateauneuf-du-Pape as well subject to the same regulation?



Dear Stan,

Delicious indeed, the wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape definitely rank among some of our faves. 

Actually Stan, it is not obligatory to use all thirteen grape varieties when producing a Chateauneuf-du-Pape but vintners have the option to use any of, and/or up to all thirteen specific varietals. Quick note to add here, in the last few years the regulations were actually adjusted and up to eighteen varietals are now permitted. How and when did the original regulations come about? In 1923 the Baron Le Roy of Chateau Fortia, a vigneron of that time in Chateauneuf-du-Pape got together with the other growers and drew up a set of rules for the production of wines coming from this region. 



Baron Le Roy Chateau Fortia

Actually the entire appellation system (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) in France as we know it today, was fashioned after this very set of regulations. Rules included dictating a minimum alcohol content (the first time in France, 12.5% the highest in France) and defining an area as permitted to be included in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The Baron also included in the rules ten permissible grape varieties. In 1936 three additional grape varieties were added to the list bringing the total to thirteen. The most prominently used grape variety continues to be Grenache, with Mourvedre and Syrah (Shiraz as many know it) ranked second and third.

There is a white Chateauneuf-du-Pape produced, made of up to six white grape varieties, but only in very small quantities and not regularly available for purchase in Ontario and the other provinces. 

 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which translates to “new castle of the Pope”, is an historic village (as well as name of the appellation) between towns Avignon and Orange located in France’s southern Rhone.  It is the best-known wine of the region and typically produces full bodied, powerful, juicy and complex red wines considered among the best of the Rhone Valley. The name dates back to the early 14th century when Avignon was chosen as the new home for the Pope’s court.


The Wine Ladies, Georgia and Susanne 









Dear Wine Ladies,

As a bit of a novice when it comes to wine I discovered recently at a wedding how much I enjoy a glass of Champagne! I soon realized that this bubbly is a little out of my budget and have since been introduced to Prosecco from Italy, which I thoroughly enjoy! This delightful bubbly, much more affordable has quickly become somewhat of a staple in our household and I’d like to learn a little more about it, including my confusion as to whether it's a grape, or a place? Does it have to come from a specific part of Italy to be called Prosecco, as I have learned is the case with Champagne and is it made the same way? Where can I find a rosé Prosecco, another of my favourites? Thanks Wine Ladies for your help, I am looking forward to learning more and enjoying more of this bubbly as spring approaches.



Dear Hillary,

Congratulations, you have now joined the ever growing ranks of wine lovers, whether novice or not, smitten with this lively, delectable and affordable bubbly! Thanks for the great questions too, in fact there does seem to be a little confusion out there with respect to this ever popular sparkling wine.

In terms of where Prosecco must be made in order to be called Prosecco, you are right, just as is the case with Champagne, this sparkling wine must come exclusively from one of two wine growing regions in north eastern Italy which are Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. In fact the name comes from the Italian village of Prosecco near Trieste which is the capital of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Curiously Prosecco is also the name of the wine, and was until recently the name of the grape. Due to a change in regulation in 2009 the “Glera” grape which is a long standing synonym for Prosecco was officially recognized as the proper grape name used to identify this iconic Italian export.

One of the main attractions of Prosecco, besides it having a lively, zesty and cheerful flavour, is of course its affordability, in contrast to Champagne which can be explained partially at least in the way these two sparkling wines are produced. Champagne undergoes its secondary fermentation in the bottle, which is costly, takes time and is labor intensive, while Prosecco’s secondary fermentation takes place in a large stainless steel tank, much more economically, known as the Charmat method. Of course there are other reasons why Champagne fetches the prices it does, and all very well deserved indeed.

Looking for a rosé Prosecco? You can find a rosé sparkling wine, otherwise known as spumante, or a rosé frizzante but because Prosecco must be a white wine and Pinot Noir is not among any of the permitted grapes for making Prosecco, this will not be possible. There are however some absolutely delectable rosé Spumantes on the market, which do hail from this unique region of Friuli.

We recently had the opportunity to interview Nicola Pittaro, of Pitars winery, a fourth generation, historic and stunning winery located in Friuli, who was visiting here showcasing his wines.
Nicola treated us to an extensive tasting of a suburb line up of sparkling wine. We sampled their Prosecco, as well as their Pitars Rosé Spumante, which was elegant, delicate, dry with hints of strawberry and raspberry, very delicious. They also produce a sparkling wine using one of the indigenous grapes of the region, the Ribolla Gialla, also delightful. If you would like more information on the various aspects of Prosecco, either on the region or on the wines, please tune in to our radio show and get the scoop from Nicola himself. The three above mentioned wines are available by the way here in Ontario, through VDF Imports located right here in Mississauga. Cheers. Contact: Dan Scodellaro


Dear The Wine Ladies,

I have been seeing loads of rosés showing up on the shelves in our LCBO these days and am just wondering what’s the deal? The last time I had a pink wine was too long ago to remember but I do recall it was terribly sweet and not to my liking. Has the tide changed in style of roses being made these days? Which grapes are used to make them and are the ones from France the best? 

 Jennifer, Toronto, Ontario


Dear Jennifer,

It is definitely time to re-think pink when looking for a crisp, fruit driven, aromatic, versatile wine to pair with foods, that comes in a range of beautiful shades from light salmon, to peach, pink and even light red. 

Gone are the days when rose was synonymous with sweet, the great majority now-a-days are vinified dry or semi-dry responding to the tastes of the more sophisticated wine drinker. The roses of today, though not hugely complex, deliver pleasure for the palate, they are often abundant in fresh fruit on the nose and on the palate, strawberries, raspberries, red cherries, floral notes, hints of spice often characterize them, as well as being crisp and medium to full bodied. Plus they are so versatile to pair with an abundance of foods transitioning well from a white to red depending what’s served on the platter. 

True, a plethora of roses are now available in store, due to the fact that sales have soared in the last few years as they continue to charm the wine drinker with their seductive qualities. In terms of France being the go-to region, more specifically Provence traditionally regarded as the heartland for rose, most of the wine growing regions around the world have responded to the rise in rose  and are now producing some wonderful roses to rival even the most established regions. When it comes to varietals, in Provence the roses are made with a combination of grapes which include Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Carignan just to name a few, elsewhere winemakers are producing their roses using most any red grape they have planted including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz (Syrah), Tempranillo, Zinfandel and the list goes on. When it comes to selecting your rose of choice here are a few top shelf ones to consider:

The #1 selling French rose in Ontario is the Remy Pannier d’Anjou 2014 made from the grape Cabernet Franc, a great buy at $13.95, with spicy strawberry, citrus aroma, just off-dry.

Henry of Pelham Rosé VQA 2014,Niagara Peninsula,$13.95 strawberries and watermelon, crisp and dry.

From New Zealand, Kim Crawford Pansy, made with Merlot, light ruby in colour, strawberries, hints of spice, dried flowers, exuberant, tangy and delightful ($17.00)

But Jennifer as you know there are many others to consider, just jump right in and think pink the next time you’re considering which wine to drink!

Georgia and Susanne

The Wine Ladies

If you would like to learn more about rose wine please tune into our on-line radio show, The Wine Ladies, Taking Life One Sip At A Time, on "Everything is coming up Rosé" - Episode WL 01-06-2015 launches, Monday June 1st at 10:00am! See you on the air waves!




BRAND NEW SHOWS every Monday at 10:00 am and Wednesday at 2:00 pm or listen ON DEMAND on line anytime.



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