Paxton's Grapevine - Guest Blogger

For those of you who weren’t able to check out Sante: The Bloor-Yorkville Wine Festival, Ange and I thought we’d give you a taste of what you missed!

This past Saturday, May 6th, was our first time attending Sante, Toronto’s premier wine festival, and we were stoked to take part. After purchasing our Saturday’s Sip, Savour & Shop Passport for only $15, we journeyed off to Yorkville, the heart of the festivities. It was a lot of fun exploring ritzy Yorkville shops and galleries, while at the same time sampling delicious wines. We visited eight participating establishments, and let me just say that Starbucks was definitely needed afterwards! Please read on to find out the day’s highlights and some interesting facts about Port. Cheers!

Our first stop was at the Life is Intoxicating Gallery ( at the South East corner of Cumberland and Bay. Niagara-On-The-Lake’s very own Chateau des Charmes winery (Christmas Wine Tour) was there offering Icewine Martini’s in cute little plastic martini cups. It was a great kick-start to the day!

The Life is Intoxicating Gallery features art by Michael Godard, the number one selling artist in the world. Godard’s art revolves around bar themes. For example, some of his art displays cute little olive figures jumping into stylized martini glasses, on a jet-black background. The art is unique, and definitely worth checking out, however we both agreed that it wasn’t our cup of tea. Or shall we say, glass of wine ;)

At the gallery we also caught up with Madame Andree Bosc, the ever-charming matriarch and wife of Paul Bosc Sr., chief winemaker at Chateau des Charmes and Order of Canada recipient. Both Madame and Paul Sr. live directly across from their “agri-toursim landmark” winery in a beautiful home, but you’ll almost always find Madame at the winery, either in her office or socializing with guests. (

Next stop was Simone Marie Belgian Chocolate (126 Cumberland Street) where we tried Taylor Fladgate 10 year old Tawny Port paired with Belgian chocolates. Port is definitely an acquired taste, and both of us are still trying to acquire it…

A little background on Port: Its name is short for Portugal, the country where it is grown. Port is not like your average table wine. It differs due to its fortified nature; meaning brandy is added during grape fermentation, halting the fermentation process, giving it higher than normal levels of alcohol and sugar. Because of its sweetness it is considered a dessert wine, just like Niagara’s Icewine, however it is much stronger in alcohol and less sweet.

Port is aged in wood casks, vats or bottles and can be aged for various lengths of time, giving rise to a vast array of styles-just like table wines. Taylor Fladgate offers 10, 20, 30 and 40 year Old Tawny ports and their Vintage Port is “the rarest and finest of all ports, the ultimate collector’s wine…” since it the wine is sourced from a single, outstanding vintage. Just as in Champaign France, only exceptional vintages will be made Vintage, whereas in more average years the Port is a blend of vintages, and thus not labelled with a specific harvest year (vintage).

We also popped into Divine Decadence (136 Cumberland Street, Upper Level), a nifty little clothing store with beautiful vintage dresses and jewellery. Ange’s eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store as she looked around, but finally we made our way over to the tasting bar where Argentinean wines were being featured. We tasted the “Carmelo Patti” Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 and “Blason del Valle” Merlot 2003. The Merlot had a pleasant earthy, berry fruit character, however the Cabernet’s richness definitely begged to be paired with food.

Our other stops included: Paper Things (99 Yorkville Ave.), which featured organic wines from Greece; The Bay (Bloor Street), where we tasted Pinot Noir from EastDell Estates, another Ontario winery; Dinah’s Cupboard, where Australian wines were featured-we learned that “Roo” is the nickname for Kangaroos; Robin Barker Hair’Sociates (84 Yorkville Ave.), where we tried Italian wines; Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery (108 Yorkville Ave.), where we met one of the owners of Coyote’s Run Estate Winery (right around the corner from Chateau des Charmes) and tried their Riesling and Meritage. Ange really enjoyed the Riesling, since it was similar in style to Vineland Estates, and I really enjoyed the cigar-box bouquet and rich, smooth palate of their Meritage.

While wine festivals, such as Sante, are great entertainment, I believe that visiting and touring wine country is even better. Why so? Because it allows you to better experience and appreciate the wines you try. You actually get to see and tour the wineries; meet the wine makers and/or tour guides; appreciation grows for the skill and artistry of wine making; and last but not least you get to try more wines! While you might have missed the Sante wine festival, you still have the opportunity to join us for our Spring Wine Tour, which will be even better!

Until next vine,