December Wine Selection


Happy Holidays!  I hope everyone is as ready to celebrate as I am!  

My studies for WSET Level 3 have concluded and it feels like a great weight off my chest.  I selected a few wines we tasted through the course to share on this month, and alongside those we have some treats perfect for entertaining through the holidays. We hope you all enjoy these picks and have a merry christmas and a happy new year!


I think the most frequently asked questions in regards to wine study is “How can you be graded on assessing the taste of a wine considering taste is subjective?”  There’s a few steps to answering this question.  First off, there is the “Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine” or SAT.  This SAT is a set format going through the descriptors of a wine ranging from the appearance through to the length of finish.  Within the SAT is a lexicon of approved words for describing flavours.  “Cola” is not in the lexicon, but “Vanilla” and “Cloves” are, and so those terms can be used to describe a note on wine that I personally think of as “Cola”.  So once we’re all speaking the same language, we move on to the calibration, this is the first morning of the class in which we taste some extremes in different categories to get familiar with the ranges of the scales.  Finally there is simply, lots and lots of tasting.  All told over six days we tasted 79 wines.  I was practically sick of wine by the end of the course, but that feeling didn’t last long ;)

Cafe de Paris

Brut Sparkling

Bubbles for all occasions!  Over the next few weeks we are all going to visit friends and family if not hosting them.  A bottle of bubbles is something I like to always have on hands during the Holidays.  At this price point, Cafe de Paris, can be opened for any occasions without guilt. Morning mimosas, apero, a little glass with dessert, celebrating seeing each others, or good news: this is the bottle for you! This brut from Bordeaux, France has been made with the Methode Champenoise, just like Champagne, it has fine bubbles and a toasty flavour. It is a blend of Colombard and Sauvignon Blanc making it a thirst quenching beverage with some citrus notes. Let Cafe de Paris bring some sparkles to your Holidays!



Pewsey Vale


The first of the WSET wines, this Riesling is from Australia’s Eden Valley, an iconic area for the grape, but often overshadowed by Germany and Alsace.  The grapes are

grown in cooler sites of the area, and the resulting wine is dry, with very high acidity.  Citrus notes are on the forefront here, lemon, lime, and grapefruit.  Alongside this citrus profile there are subtle floral notes that really encapsulate the fresh, youthfulness of this style.  If cellaring is of interest to you, I would recommend giving this wine 4-5 years to develop some really neat toasty notes.




Valpolicella Ripasso

I recall having this a few years ago before I began studying wine, it was certainly a surprise to see it in the curriculum and it was interesting to see how my thought process has changed when it comes to tasting wines.  My judgement for wine in the past was basically “Is it rich?” and “Is it smooth?” This wine mentally ticked yes to those, and for that reason I liked it.  I still like this wine for all of those same reasons, but I’m able to tease out more from it now, for example it’s not just “rich and smooth”, it’s medium bodied with flavours of stewed plum, earth, and cocoa.  I also know now that that richness comes from the addition of Amarone skins during fermentation.  It’s a simple reminder that my motivation for wine study is to learn the reasons why I enjoy the things I enjoy.



Flat Rock

Red Twisted

The truth is no one really knows how Flat Rock ended up on our shelves.  A case of Chardonnay was on our palate, I thought it was something Val ordered, She thought it was something I ordered.  Perhaps it was a gift from the gods.  Luckily since then we’ve had an opportunity to taste that wine (and it was wonderful!), along with a few others.  So here’s showcasing the Twisted Red, a blend of Gamay, Merlot, and a pinch of Pinot Noir.  All of those are great wines on their own for pairing with holiday meals, and its no surprise that a blend of them is equally superb.  Bright acidity with cherry, raspberry, and strawberry, along with some green notes, bell pepper and fennel.  The twisted series from Flat Rock is intended to be fun, easy drinking blends, so with that in mind crack this one with some friends or family during the festive season, and let it be easy.



De Grendel


I have rediscovered Merlot on our last trip to St-Emilion, Bordeaux.  Although Bordeaux is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and/or Malbec, on the right bank of Bordeaux in St-Emilion, it can be a Merlot single varietal.  On our last trip, the best wines I have had, to my own surprise, were 100% Merlot.  Merlot is such a beautiful wine and I feel it has been forgotten and overshadow by its cousin the Cabernet Sauvignon.  It is a plush wine with aromas and flavours of cherries, plum, chocolate and vanilla.  In some ways, it is very Christmasy!  De Grendel offer a beautiful expression with structure and balanced tannins.  Anthony and I had the pleasure of meeting DeVillier the 4th generation winemaker/owner of De Grendel South African winery.  De Grendel is a Baron and his family history and legacy in South Africa is impressive.  Nonetheless, he is a genuine soul wearing his heart on his sleeve.  He runs his winery with an environmental and social sustainability mentality and awareness.  We are proud to carry his wines at UnWined and I hope you enjoy this nice bottles during the Holidays




La Plaza Vieja

Medium Sherry

My Christmas gift to you is one of my personal favourite wines from the WSET course, a medium sherry.  Sherries are amazingly unique and complex wines with a production process involving aging under living yeast and multi-barrel, multi-year blending.  When studying them I couldn't help but think it was like something out of a fantasy novel.  The term medium indicates that this is a wine with a noticeable sweetness, but not a true dessert wine.  I think a glass of this would pair very nicely after dinner with a butter tart and a crackling fire.


As a follow up to the intro paragraph, I’m going to share with you my complete tasting note taken during the WSET Level 3 course to give you an idea of what it looks like.

Wine # 62


Intensity: Pale             Colour: Tawny Amber



Intensity: Medium Plus          Development: Developing

Aroma: Raisin, Fig, Cedar, Blossom, Apple, Vanilla, Almond, Hazelnut, Ginger, Brioche



Sweetness: Off-Dry Medium            Flavour Intensity: Medium Plus

Acidity: Medium                               Flavour Character: Raisin, Fig, Vanilla, Hazelnut,

Tannin: Not Applicable                       Ginger, Cedar

Alcohol: Medium High                     Finish: Medium Plus ?

Body: Medium


Quality: Very Good

Condition: Drink now, or suitable for further aging


So did I access this wine accurately?  You tell me!



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