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Celebrity Skins

On a recent summer afternoon, golfer Mike Weir traded rolling fairways for sloping vineyards and putting greens for samples of red wine. The PGA star tasted through the various components for the 2005 Cabernet-Shiraz blend that will sport his Mike Weir Estate Winery label.

The Cabernet-Shiraz blend is becoming one of the signature wines for Weir's wine portfolio, mostly because it's a personal favourite for the professional golfer. "I don't have the lingo or sophistication about it, I just love it. That's what I enjoy drinking," Weir explained.

"He definitely knows what he likes," says winemaker Craig McDonald, who has tasted with Weir in Niagara and at the golfer's home in Draper, Utah. "He always prefers wines aged in French oak over ones aged in American oak." McDonald and co-winemaker Rob Power based the finished Cabernet-Shiraz blend on Weir's suggestions. The wine, which showed tremendous promise just prior to bottling, is slated for release in early 2008.

Mike Weir Estate Winery is a partnership between the 2003 Masters Tournament champion and Creekside Estate Winery owners Peter Jensen and Laura McCain-Jensen. Plans are being finalized for Weir's own winery, which will be located on a 50-acre vineyard in St. Davids, near Niagara-on-the-Lake. Construction is slated to begin next year.

One of the goals Weir had when he launched his wine brand in April 2005 was to increase the exposure for Ontario wines. "I personally think the wine produced in the area is fantastic and very much under appreciation," he says. Awareness of Ontario products is bound to increase as Weir's wines turn up at liquor stores in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. It will also improve in Ontario as the Mike Weir Chardonnay and the Mike Weir Cabernet Merlot are introduced this month as part of the LCBO Vintages Essentials line-up. An Essentials listing means that the wine will be stocked year-round at liquor stores that include a Vintages section.

From its inaugural release of a 2001 Chardonnay and a 2002 Cabernet-Merlot, Weir's portfolio has grown to include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Vidal Icewine. The label launched its first Pinot Gris in late summer to critical acclaim.

A portion of the proceeds from wine sales goes to the Mike Weir Foundation, which assists the physical, emotional and educational welfare of children in Canada. The foundation was created by Weir and his wife Bricia in 2004. More information about Mike Weir Estate Winery is available online at http://www.weirwines.com/.

 

Wines of the Week:
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Barefoot Cellars Pinot Grigio
California $9.75 (053983)
This is surprisingly refreshing and brisk considering the price point. Sub-$10 aren't usually this zesty or zippy. Lively grapefruit and lime zest notes dominate on the palate, which some fleshy peach and peppery notes in the background. The wine's mouthwatering character makes it an invigorating choice for an aperitif wine. (LCBO General List)

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Finca Flichman S.A. 2006 Misterio Malbec Oak Aged
Argentina $9.95 (028803)
A new listing in Ontario from Finca Flichman, one of Mendoza's oldest producers. The Misterio Malbec is riper, more approachable and enjoyable than many sub-$10 bottles, but its rustic flavour profile isn't going to be for everyone. There's a floral element on the fragrance and the suggestion of walnuts and black licorice on the lingering finish of this dry red wine that will charm those looking to try something new. (LCBO General List)

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Mike Weir Estate Winery 2006 Chardonnay
Niagara Peninsula $15.95 (000026)
This is a fresh and fragrant model of Chardonnay, with aromas that suggest pear and lemon zest with delicate floral notes. The medium-bodied palate is bright and balanced. Look for apple and citrus flavours that are rounded out by sweet oak notes (vanilla and butterscotch). Excellent value. (LCBO Vintages Essentials)

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