Are You OK? The Rainbow Daily Slosh

14 Apr

Had to put this in today. We are seeing the Dixie Chicks on Tuesday. I like them. Could be the boots?

When I was studying at university (if you knew me then, you are laughing uncontrollably now), the pop wisdom was reflected in books like I’m OK, You’re OK and How To Be Your Own Best Friend. The thinking was that our problems stemmed from a lack of self-love. I remember talking to a criminal client who had assaulted his wife over and over again. He said to me with a straight face, “I can’t love myself, so how am I expected to love her.” Loving her, dude? Seriously, we are just aiming for not killing her.

I had thought that this philsophy of self-love had disappeared and a new more ‘enlightened but fleeting’ thinking had taken it’s place years ago. But, I was creeping Facebook the other day and was struck with the number of ‘Likes’ that had something to do with a saying roughly about loving yourself. Some were quite clever and others just trite and simple.

And, then I remembered all the commercials, usually aimed at women, that talked about loving who you are (and buying some of our shit) regardless of what you look like. Or, conversely, loving yourself because we make you look so darn great. Self-love actualized through shopping. I wish that the problems facing us today could be solved with a little self-love. Drop thousands of copies of How To Be Your Own Best Friend on Syria. Presto. Peace.

Regardless, I know that I’m mostly OK and, unfortunately for those around me, a bit flawed as well.

What’s this have to do wine. Not much really, I just wanted to ramble a bit before I discussed the juice.

This weekend’s release (April 15) has a load of great new wines (94 in all). A marketing focus on Mediterranean wines, Aussie whites, and some local talent is prevalent. On the local front, there’s the 2014 Henry of Pelham Family Tree Red #247882 $18.95. I tasted this wine at my golf club as a sample to evaluate for the ‘house red’. It’s a blend of Syrah (33%), Merlot (29%), Cabernet Franc (19%), and Back Noir (5%). It’s seen quite a bit of time in oak (17 mos.) and you can both smell and taste the effect of the barrel time. It’s still crisp and juicy with nice acidity and integrated tannins. I like it a lot and think it’s perfect for a ‘house’ wine. A very quaffable wine and a great example of how well HoP take care of their stuff. Good label always.

We have family that recommended this wine to me years ago. They buy a bunch of it. I got an early sample of it this past week. The 2013 Papale Linea Oro Primitivo di Mandurai #261784 $18.95 is a Puglian beauty. It reflects the heat of that region. When we were there a few years ago, we were struck by the breadth of the agricultural industry there. Olives tress as far as the eye could see, vines neatly organized in straight rows all over the countryside. This wine is made with the Primitivo (early ripening) grape which is a DNA match with Zinfandel. That’s scientist-speak for it’s the same thing. So, even though it’s treated a little less bigly here, it’s still chewy, big enough and fruity. I find these a little less one-dimensional than a similarly priced Zin and this is true to that experience. A great host(ess) wine and one that I’ll be stocking up on for the summer ahead, if it lasts that long. Shout out to S & P.

I believe that you can actually taste the Mediterranean sun in the rosés of Provence. But, a close second are the red wines of rest of Southern France. This week, there’s a real good example of that in the 2014 Michel Gassier Nostre Païs #295410 $21.95. This comes from Costières de Nïmes an AC in the Southern Rhone. So, think a blend similar to a Côtes du Rhône and in this case with a whack of Grenache and Syrah. This producer seldom disappoints through their whole portfolio but I like this effort as much as any of theirs. This reflects the garrigue in the glass and on the swallow with loads of black fruit. Moderately elevated ABV (probably due to the Grenache) but no real heat. Good short term cellar candidate. And, maybe you don’t taste the Mediterranean but you can smell it in this wine.

A couple of good efforts from Argentina are the 2015 Zuccardi Serie A Torrontés #389262 $16.95 – great extra dry big-nosed wine. Summer sipper by the lake. Has an Alsatian vibe to it.

And the 2014 Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon #135202 $19.95. A New World CS Full-bodied and structured with loads of fruit. This would make a good ‘house’ wine as well. Crowd pleaser.

A wine that I’m going to pick up:

2014 Tornatore Nerello Mascalese #487090 $21.95 – we are travelling to Sicily this September and I’m cramming on Sicilian wine. This wine is from the Etna Rosso DOC  which is a trending wine region right now. It’s made from, you guessed it, Nerello Mascelese. I’ve been reading John Szabo’s fabulous book Volcanic Wines, a fabulous book (he says redundantly) that’s as pretty as it is well-researched and informative. I’m going to write a post on some of the books that I’ve been reading lately. I love cramming. But, then again, I love me too. Well, today anyway. I’m OK.

Cheers

Bill

P.S It’s all about the boots.

 

Wine Apps – Do I Need One?

7 Apr

Over the years of smart phone use (is it smartphone or smart phone? I will ask Siri), I’ve fooled around with wine apps that help me organize my cellar, pick a wine at a restaurant or retail, and provide me with tasting notes from ‘experts’ or slobs just like me.

I’ve put them on my phone in a moment of whimsy when I think that I’ll use them. Only to take them off when I’m worried that I’m using up all my data storage for an app I haven’t really used enough. They have been of very limited use and in very specific situations, is what I’m saying.

A few months ago, I received an invitation from the Natalie MacLean’s peeps to try their new app and write about it. I thought that it might be cool to do just that. But, in fairness to the other hard working developers and entrepreneurs, I thought that I should try as many as I could to see what they bring and if I can make a recommendation. Yes, you are right. I have lots of time on my hands and Siri says it’s OK. Siriously, I asked her.

Wine apps seem to fall into 4 non-mutually exclusive categories:

Retail Apps – inventories, availabilities, etc. at a particular chain – my example would be the LCBO app but I see one for the SAQ as well as other large retailers;

Recommendation Apps – these generally provide pairing tips, tasting notes, etc. for specific labels or general guidelines. Some are word based but most allow label scans to identify the wine;

Cellar Management – These apps allow you to keep a categorized inventory of your cellar, add your tasting notes, and, in some cases participate in a community of like-minded souls

Search – These apps provide a search tool that accesses retail inventories and pricing. Sometimes they are matched to accepted review and winery data.

Many apps are tied to other media. Such as magazines, zines, blogs, and/or subscription series.

But how to test drive and against what criteria? Criteria? That would a bit too scientific for this blog. So, I’m going to just use them and tell you what I think. Wish me luck.

Apps, that I’ve loaded are:

LCBO, Natalie McLean, Vivino, Pocket Wine Pairing, Corkz, Winepop, Wine Cellar Database, Vinocell. Some are free and others either you pay up front or there are in-use enhancements that cost. BTW, they are all “the number 1 app.”

I realize this has been done before, most recently in my world by Richard Hemming at http://www.jancisrobinson.com (subscription needed). But I think I’ll give it a try. If there are other apps that I should try, let me know. I’ll report back in awhile.

Cheers

Bill

 

Sale – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

31 Mar

The mothership has a lot of wines. Hell, they introduce about 120 new ones every other weekend. And, when you have that many wines, you need to put a few on sale to open up some shelf space. I bought a case of sale wine this week. Best buys were Bibi Graetz’ Casamatta Rosso #330712 $12.25 (sorry, I cleared out Masonville) and two appasimento faves 2014 The Foreign Affair The Conspiracy #149237 $17.95 and 2013 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre #632971 $20.95 – I believe the Palazzo is only on sale in certain stores (Masonville had it on sale).

I just love the Allegrini wine – a baby Amarone for half the price. I really don’t need it to be on sale to lust after it. And, The Conspiracy is a great introduction to how this winery approaches the method to enrich flavours without being overly raisiny or hot with alcohol – this wine at only 13%. Both great efforts.

The Casammatta is a nice, simple sipping red for pizza or Eggos with whipped cream. If you want to peruse the wines on sale you can find them here. Note that it’s “while supplies last’ and many may be gone or not available at your local. Scroll down the list as there are some great values there that I didn’t mention and you might find your favourite on sale.

Baseball season is upon us. Basketball playoffs and the opening of baseball season are about the two greatest times in sport. Oh yeah, and The Masters is next weekend. This time of year also marks the beginning of fantasy baseball season. Now, point of clarification, fantasy baseball is not where Victoria Secret models beat out grounders or turn a nifty double play around the horn. Although….it could be a fantasy for some. Back on earth, I had my fantasy baseball draft last weekend. And, as is the practice, I brought a tasty wine to accompany my cunning assembly of the eventual winning team. Can you spell Repeat? I picked it as the last of my stash of this wine knowing that this weekend (April 1), it was going to be back on the shelves. The 2006 Ardal Reserva #167700 $21.95 is a wine that I bought a bunch of when it last visited town. This wine is drinking perfectly right now (why my half a case disappeared so quickly) and continuing for another three or four years. It’s mature – balanced, smooth – judicious use of oak leads to a cedar sniff but not enough to blot out the scrubbiness or the dark fruit on the shortening swallow. And sticking with the theme, there’s a hint of leather on the nose. Tannins well integrated and it still possesses enough acid to avoid flabbiness. I think it’s one of the better values in aged Ribera del Duero wines that I’ve seen in a while. Similar in style to the 2005 Balbas Reserva that I always pimp. Get a bunch!

Chile brings value. In fact, I recommended a Casillero del Diablo wine to my niece as a host gift that became the hosts new BFF. You don’t have to sell the farm to get tasty treats from this country. This week, 2014 Primus The Blend #712463 $19.95 arrives. Truth be told, it’s been herre for a while already. I opened a bottle last week and have to disagree with James Suckling. I didn’t find the wine ready to “Drink now.” It seemed pretty serious and reserved. I agree that it is chewy which reminded me in mouthfeel a bit of Barossa Shiraz but this is a blend of Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon with some wee bits of Petit Verdot and Merlot. After I left it alone for an hour or two, which in my case requires some serious restraint, it opened up and had a meaty, medium bodied, dustiness to it. I think that it may proceed to a better place in time or just decant now for a couple hours. Great food wine.

At our house, there’s my wine and then there’s that of The Director. Despite the trends of the day (ABC, etc.), she is firmly ensconced in the ATC club Anything That’s Chardonnay. And, when we venture to the lake, it’s a couple of La Cremas or Mer Soleils that accompany us each time. This week, the 2014 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay #962886 $29.95 returns. What can I say? It’s a prototypical Sonoma Chardonnay with oak present but not overwhelming, apples, and a little citrus. Creamy finish. If this is your style, grab one or two. It is “Director Approved” and extremely food friendly.

We have a friend who is always popping a cork on sparkling wine as soon as you cross the threshold. Yes you guessed it, I go to her house every morning now. I think that I’ve got her off the Prosecco and on to the Crémant de Anything. But, my favourite is the ‘de Bourgogne’ made from the aforementioned Chardonnay. The Bailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne #991562 $19.95 is full value. Dry, crisp and lively. A great ‘first’ sip – not to be confused with a food wine. If not this exact wine, you should be able to find a Crémant de Bourgogne by either Louis Bouillot or Cave de Lugny in brut or brut rosé – both superior examples of the style and worth every penny – hey, we don’t have pennies anymore, yahoo – worth every nickel.

Some frequent flyers on this site, gave me a heads up that the 2011 Iturria Tinto #481408 $20.95 was good juice. I picked up a couple bottles and tasted it the other night. It is a sophisticated wine, well settled into its drinking window. Significant time in oak shows it in the nose but has softened over time in bottle – good balance – peppery – Garnacha fruit peeking through. Tempranillo and a small dose of Garnacha from Toro where value is good. Shout out to Joanne and Oliver.

Remember: You can check the availability of each wine by clicking on the link (stock number and price), dropping down the city menu, choosing your city and clicking on Find Stores.

Well Stated and Better Than I

30 Mar

Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°202 Code of ethyl by Daniele Cernilli 20-03-2017 What would you think of a famous Italian wine critic who allowed a surprise ‘secret’ birthday party to be organized for him by an equally famous wine producer who invited other producers who opened some very expensive bottles to pair them […]

via Daniele Cernilli on Wine Writers and a Code Ethics — Charles Scicolone on Wine

Senior Discount – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

18 Mar

A few months ago, or was it longer, they allowed supermarkets in Ontario to sell wine and craft beer. Oh, not every one of them (supermarkets that is). Just a select few and you don’t know until you wander the aisles looking for wine and beer if the one you’re in does. It is so crazy what passes for the responsible sale of alcohol in Ontario. I mean wouldn’t you want a person that’s jonesing for their third box of Maria Christina of the day to avoid driving from store to store?

The other day when I was in Sobey’s (Wonderland and Oxford – right beside my new favourite LCBO), I stumbled onto the wine display. I felt a bit like Henry Morton Stanley (go ahead and Google him, if you must). Well, the wine selection, as one might expect, wasn’t all that interesting. Some local stuff, some standby imports and being a snob, there just wasn’t anything worth my lofty palate. But, I needed to get a few cans of beer. And I found what I was looking for – Great Lakes Brewery Pompous Ass English Ale #408054 $2.65 – my new ‘go to’ beer. And, not just because I am one.

Now, here’s the interesting part. You had faith that it would eventually get interesting, didn’t you? I took my purchases to the counter (there are designated “Wine and Beer ” counters, I’m not shitting you). And, the check out woman who was a few years younger than me, asked me for ID. Seriously? Apparently it’s a ‘RULE’. It’s more a question of whether I get the seniors discount – and I do (which is a great idea for the LCBO BTW – Senior’s Tuesdays – a fifth of Scotch for $5?). The rule is that all people must show ID. That’s how the system will protect us from youngsters between 50 and 70 years of age getting all gooned up on supermarket wine and falling asleep before the evening news. Makes sense.

This release (March 18) doesn’t require you to show your ID as it’s only available at the mother ship. Front page trumpets “California Stars”, and they are just that. Paul Hobbs, Belle Glos, Cakebread, Silver Oak, etc. The only one of the offerings that I’ve tasted is the 2015 Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel #942151 $29.95. I’ve pimped this wine in previous vintages. In most years, this is one of the best sub-$40 Zins out there. This year it shines again. I’m not sure if it’s the impact of Sonoma but this wine is so much more restrained than most Zin. That doesn’t mean it’s insipid or boring – it certainly isn’t either. Loads of fruit and toast in the glass. Very lively, fresh. It would be a great steak wine or good with something else BBQ’d. Similar experience to Ridge’s Geyserville. Highly recommended.

“Back in the day,” he says sagely, “We drank gallons of Lindemans Cawarra Chardonnay/Semillon.” I’m not speaking figuratively here. We drank gallons of this stuff. It was cheap. It was dependable and people liked it. The blend wasn’t one that you would find anyplace else either. Kind of a one off. Well, there’s another blend with Chardonnay that carries the same value – 2015 Zuccardi Serve A Chardonnay/Viognier #262097 $16.95. This blend hasn’t the snap that the Lindeman’s did. It’s rounder due to the Viognier and has a floral finish. More elegant, actually. And, closer to a Chardonnay focused white. This would be a great stand around wine. For your first (and, sadly only) Spring Open House. People will ask what it is and where you got it.

Too many people turn their noses up at any wine that carries even a hint of sweetness. Either it’s a mistaken diet kind of thing. Or, they remember back to Blue Nun and Black Tower. And remembering those times, usually means some illness after too much of The Nun. Well, it’s time to cool it with the hate. Sweetness isn’t ‘bad’ or unpleasant; certain sweeter wines go great with Asian inspired food. Plus, if there’s a nice bit of acidity, the sweetness is complimentary not cloying. The 2015 Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling #038117 $19.95 is a perfect example of this balance. This isn’t actually Sweet it’s technically a Medium. I bought a few of the 2012 version and it had to be one of the best Rieslings I’ve ever had from Niagara. Still have one left and will let it mellow. You can drink the 2015 now or let it sit for a year or two minimum. It’s a powerful Riesling experience.

A wine that i’m eager to pick up and try is the 2015 Jean-Perrier & Fils Cuvée Gastronomie Monduese Savoie #272112 $21.95. We don’t get much Savoie wine here. Most of the production in Savoie doesn’t leave France. Lots of other wine geeks talk favourably about the region and I’m anxious to try some. Plus, Mondeause is a grape that I haven’t had before. Should be cool.

That’s all I got this week. If I taste some of the other offerings, I’lll tweet about them.

Cheers

Bill

Remember: You can check the availability of each wine by clicking on the link (stock number and price), dropping down the city menu, choosing your city and clicking on Find Stores.

Blogging Peril? – A Friday Night Ramble

10 Mar

I’ve been communicating to my peeps for over 8 years now and I’ve noticed a subtle change in the wine journalism that I read. Before I ramble further, let me expose my biases.

I write because I love to write. I write about wine because I love wine. I’m an amateur. I identify as a blogger and am proud of it. I reach a fraction of the readers that other bloggers or wine writers do. I get it. I only matter to a few. I love those few!

I like the wine blogging community too. I appreciate their contribution to wine education, wine culture, and wine buddyism. Wine buddyism is the camaraderie that wine people experience when discussing, drinking, and appreciating wine together. FYI, it works best while doing the drinking part.

I like that this community, in an effort to make wine more approachable, are generally inclined to communicate with most wine drinkers; instead of just those that have an elevated understanding of wine. However, I notice a troubling trend.

It seems to me that more and more posts have a connection to a gift of sorts. At the extreme, it could be a trip and tour of a wine region or winery. At the low end, it’s simply a sample or samples. And, in fairness and to be transparent, I am not allowed samples in this Victorian jurisdiction unless I am at the cellar door or one of a few professionals paid by the LCBO. I pay for every drop that I review Goddammit. So, I could just be whiney here and, hell yes, I’d take a free trip and samples too. That’s not the point that I’m going to make.

I read The Emperor of Wine many years ago and was fascinated by the origins of Robert Parker’s influence. In the beginning of wine criticism/review, wine critics were flown to Bordeaux, feted, and sampled to death by the wineries so that they could give an opinion on vintage and individual chateaux, wink, wink. Parker argued that this presented either a true conflict of interest or the appearance of one. His Wine Advocate, on the contrary, took no advertising revenue, received no compensation for travel, etc. Ergo, it presented itself as the true uncompromised, objective source of wine reviews. You could trust it. It relied on the revenue of readers. I subscribed to The Wine Advocate for years regardless that my tastes (aside from Neal Martin and Antonio Galloni when he was there) didn’t line up with those expressed in that publication.  I particularly appreciated the lack of advertising.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not impuning the character of those journalists that report positively on their trips and samples. When I’ve been entertained at wineries, I’ve written about it too. And in fairness, most blog posts don’t involve reviewing stuff or experiences that are free or when they do, there are clear declarations of that fact. I guess what I’m saying is that it is a slippery slope. It seems to be the new normal of wineries/distributors for promoting their wines – get a wine writer to talk about your stuff by providing some swag. I’m just wondering if we are getting sucked in.

But here’s where I get truly scared. The Wine Bloggers Conference this upcoming November. A major session is titled: “What Companies Want From Wine Bloggers.” 

Seriously? How much more compromised can we appear if we start from the premise that we want to understand what ‘companies’ want from us and how we can give that to them. Help me understand this. WTF is a company? If I assume that it’s a winery or wine distributor/negotiant, I get that there is symbiosis here. But, it shouldn’t be a servile relationship. I simply don’t understand why we’d give a shit enough to have a session – and I understand it is a “premium full session spot”, promoted as a highlight on this topic?  Bloggers can’t appear any more collusional or compromised than this.

When I read a review of a wine or a winery, I don’t want the writer to serve a commercial interest of a winery or frigging ‘company’. whatever the hell that means. I want to trust that they are expressing ‘their’ truth about the wine. I believe that most of the people I follow are doing just that (People I follow: please read that last sentence before writing in the comments section). But, if bloggers are reporting on their findings while being subsidized either through samples or trips, and the refinement of their craft is schooled in conferences around how to satisfy wine conglomerates and wineries, it just looks bad. I mean it looks really bad. It can all be explained away but so can Trump Tower speed dials set for Russia. Why would we want to create this suspicion or compromise what we do?

Now it is entirely possible that my (now former) blogging friends may see their role differently than I see mine. Maybe being a purist is insufferable. Wait, if you’ve been reading this blog for long you know that I am always insufferable. I may take wine too seriously, you may say. No I don’t. I take fantasy baseball too seriously. Wine is more recreational. But, let me know if you agree that there’s some cause for worry in the Comments section below. Or, you can just just give me shit for my opinions. I don’t get paid either way.

Cheers

Bill

Anticipation #OTBN – The Red Daily Slosh

3 Mar

The red wines available on March 4th are plentiful (80 new additions to the mother ship). But, I want to start with a wine that I enjoyed for Open That Bottle Night (OTBN). Let me explain.

OTBN falls on the last Saturday of February. Here’s the premise – most people have a few bottles tucked away or, if they’re fortunate like me, too many bottles that they can’t bring themselves to open. Why can’t we open these wines? Whether it’s the company – and you’ve probably  noticed that I haven’t many friends. Or, you just feel that a certain bottle is just too special to waste on anything short of a ‘special’ night. And, unfortunately that night never arrives. Erma Bombeck used to say that’s why you never used the ‘good’ china.

The purpose of OTBN is to break through the resistance and pop a cork on one of those bottles. This past Saturday, I opened a 2009 Château Gloria (Saint-Julien) – a Bordeaux that I had purchased through the Futures program at the LCBO with a buying group. I have a bunch of these wines sitting down below and this isn’t even the most anticipated Bordeaux. I may go to my grave with those ones sitting dusty and alone in my basement.

And what did this year’s OTBN teach me? I guess what I already knew. Don’t worship at the altar of bottle tags telling you what the ‘experts’ suggest is a drinking window. Don’t wait for that perfect moment – perfection might only be apparent after you’ve opened the bottle. OTBN, for me at least, should be more frequent.

OK, this Saturday (March 4th), there are are many red wines that I’m dying to taste. But, of the ones that I’ve tasted already , these are my recos:

cotodeimazThe first full case of wine I ever purchased was the 1983 El Coto de Imaz Reserva. It was the first real cedar boxy, eucalyptus red wine that I had ever really had. A big break from the Colli Albani and Sex on Saturday that I was pounding. It was smooth and special. This week, there’s the 2011 El Coto de Imaz Reserva #472928 $22.95. This still carries the vibe – traditional Rioja – more wood than many might like – but I love the treatment. Smoky, herbal, dark fruits (not the normal red fruit that Tempranillo brings). This is a wine that you could easily put down for 5 – 10 years – a great cellar starter. Drink with food – barbecue ribs, burgers, or paella. Great value for a reserva. I might buy a case for old times sake.

castignoIf you’ve been playing along at home, you’ve heard me wax romantically about Saint-Chinian (what does ‘wax’ really mean and did I use it properly here?). It was one of my first true wine vacays and it stuck. I got hustled by local wine merchantesses, loving every minute of it, and ended up lugging home an overweight suitcase of their wares. This week, the 2011 Château Castigno Secret des Dieux Saint-Chinian #479626 $21.95 arrives and renews my love affair. Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Carignan. It’s medium-bodied with so much sniff going on – big in the glass – cassis, spice. Smooth on the swish and swallow already. Medium finish – cherries. This is good now – with it’s brambliness, lending itself to complex dishes – tomatoes, herbs. The Carignan provides a nice lip smacking kick at the end.

montespinotI mentioned last time out the 2014 Montes Alpha Pinot Noir #143215 $19.95 as great pick up for those favouring a bolder, rounder Pinot Noir. This is great value, expertly crafted Pinot. Lithe, fresh, and brimming with smoky red fruit. It comes from the Casablanca Valley in Chile – which seems to produce great Chardonnay as well as Pinots like this. Interesting how those two go together, isn’t it? It may be running low on the shelves, so scoop a few. And, don’t wait for an occasion.

Cheers

Bill

Remember: You can check the availability of each wine by clicking on the link (stock number and price), dropping down the city menu, choosing your city and clicking on Find Stores.

Language – The White Daily Slosh

24 Feb

 

 

quiche

Egg Pie

Somewhat relevant story: One day, when I was a jail guard as we served breakfast on a Sunday – which was a big deal because it was ‘brunch’ as in the inmates slept in, I let an inmate (one of the heavies) out of his cell and asked him to serve the other guys in the unit. He very seriously took a plate at a time and pushed it into the cell through a small latched door which I unlocked. The brunch that day was quiche. One inmate started to push the plate back out saying (and I might be paraphrasing), “What is this shit, man?” The inmate that was serving said, “It’s egg pie, you loogan. And it’s good so shut up.”  Quiche will forever be ‘egg pie’ to me. I think it but I never say it. That doesn’t sound like the same dish, does it?

Language is so fascinating, instructive, strongly communicating or unintentionally obfuscating, but many times very precise. And, it provides insight into identity. Colloquialisms, terms, grammar all contribute to our understanding of the speaker. We all judge people on the language they use. Do they sound as I sound? Are they using the Queen’s English at the level that passes my standards? And, don’t think we don’t all have standards. I, for one, judge the ‘like-sters” and the great Canadian ‘eh’. It’s not fair but regardless shut up with the ‘eh’, eh? Just the lot of a curmudgeon. Christopher Hitchens wrote a brilliant piece on the use of ‘like’ in Vanity Fair. Read it here.

Language used in wine descriptions also can help identify the speaker or writer. Wine novices and experts alike judge the writer on the terms, grammar, even style they use (never mind criticizing my punctuation. I know its woefully incorrect). When I hear wine descriptors like “unctuous” and “Maduro tobacco”, I just assume that the writer is: 1) being paid; 2) has some formal education in wine which needs some airtime; 3) is a serious person on the issue of tobaccos; and, 5) definitely not someone I want to drink wine with, unless Madura tobacco is the botanical name for weed. So, my goal linguistically is to be that someone that you’d enjoy drinking wine with. Or, should that be, “with whom you’d enjoy drinking wine”? Let me know.

Last week, I forgot to tell you about a Chilean Pinot Noir – 2014 Montes Alpha Pinot Noir #143214 $19.95 – a fabulous value – a large New World Pinot. On the mid-palate, some Maduro tobacco lurking underneath waves of Northern Lights #5. Really that good – worth twice the price. Case buy!

monteschardSo, this week (March 4th release), I don’t want to make the same mistake with their Chardonnay – 2014 Montes Alpha Chardonnay #390203 $19.95. This is a bright Chardonnay – fresh in the glass and yet bringing loads of rounder stuff in the swish and the swallow. Creamy finish without anything overdone. A very nice effort. Perfect as a food wine (herbed chicken) or just a Friday night sipper.

pacoI have to admit that I haven’t had a ton of Albariño over the years. I drink a bit when I’m in Spain and maybe a few times at home but it doesn’t seem to catch my eye in the store and hence, I don’t get it. Well, the 2015 Paco & Lola Albariño #350041 $17.95 can’t be missed on the shelf. It’s a colourful bottle and don’t tell me that labels aren’t important. It got me to pick this pretty wine up several vintages ago and every year since. This is from Rais Baixas DO in northwest Spain. If crisp was a picture it would look like this wine – crisp with almost an effervescence. Salinity too. This wine is all about seafood, lightly prepared, with some green scents like  cilantro or mint. If you’ve never had Albariño and you trend towards Sauvignon Blanc, ultra-dry Riesling, or dry Muscadet Serve et Maine, give it a try.

Floral? What does that mean to you? Would a review have more power if it said spring violets? Dripping honeysuckle, which sounds somewhat sexual. For me, I guess that I don’t extract the violets, honeysuckle, etc. that some tasters seem to do. It’s more of a sense of floral that I get – being visual – a scene of floral. And when I think of floral, it means certain wines for me – Viognier, Gewurtztraminer, and Torrontés.

pietromariniThere may be others and feel free to point them out in the comments section below.  But who doesn’t love Torrontés? Put your hand down in the back you’re just auditing the course. These wines can be floral bombs while still having loads of fruit, herbs, and lots of acidity. The 2015 Pietro Marini Torrontés #408443 $13.95 is a fairly light-weight representation of this grape. It is a superb sipper, lean by Torrontés standards (high altitude), minerally with lychee – I can do lychee. Pick up a few of these for warmer times. And it appears that warmer times are now. Thank you for this, Al Gore.

And yes, I was a jail guard. It paid the bills and had little to do with an undergrad in psychology. But it taught me about the unsexiness of boxer shorts, the origin of jeans hanging down below the crevice of one’s ass, the incredible abuse under which many men children were raised, and the inequality of access to justice in Canadian society. And, you thought it was all going to be fun lessons?

Cheers,

Bill

Remember: You can check the availability of each wine by clicking on the link (stock number and price), dropping down the city menu, choosing your city and clicking on Find Stores. Have fun.

Answers #SundaySips

19 Feb

answers

Well, ask a question and you shall receive answers. On Thursday I posted my usual pre-release recommendations. I started the post with a question about whether people finished off a bottle at the end of the evening or re-corked and savoured it the next day. I confessed to most often finishing it off under the condition that it was an extraordinary wine. Maybe I wasn’t clear that I do sometimes re-cork but that’s the exception.

The verdict is in, people have spoken and I’m thinking I have a problem (“No shit, Sherlock”). Most responders re-corked – red on the counter, white in the fridge – and savoured it the next day. Several felt that the wine changed for the better and that it was instructive and even of benefit to taste it with the extra evolution.

I agree. There is an evolution once oxygen has rattled the wine. It’s like a decant effect – some funk may get blown off, tannins integrate, and the wine opens up and tells us about its aspirations and the previous evening of neglect.

chdmI have listened and I have heard you. I can’t promise anything because tonight I’m opening a 2003 Pauillac (Ch. Duhart-Milon for the geeks out there). That’s VGS quality. And, my level of restraint post-first glass of great wine isn’t the best. Wish me luck.

Cheers.

Bill

Question – The Red Daily Slosh

16 Feb

Not to suggest that these guys are old but one of them is playing a tambourine. And he isn’t wearing a Sally Ann uniform either.

Question for all the wine peeps out there: At the end of the evening – a third of a bottle left, pump the bottle? Just put the cork back in and into’ fridge? No fridge? Or…..just have another glass and a half and finish the bugger off? That’s a question I ask myself many nights. I’ve been keeping score and trying to understand the variables that effect my decision – aside from the buzz level. It’s one thing only – the quality of the wine. Or, more accurately, how much I love the wine.

I’ve found that I’m not big on saving the wine for another day if it has provided a lot of interest and enjoyment. Although maybe, when I have a big day in front of me……..wait, there are no more ‘big’ days in front of me. Aside from the monthly sorting of the sock drawer – you need your wits about you for that, I must say. So for me, there’s really no reason to deny myself that last great glass, is there? Re-Cork the Ordinary – Quaff the Extraordinary!

angelsshareThis weekend’s release (Feb. 18) features a bunch of interesting Aussie wines – none of which I can comment on, unfortunately. Haven’t had them. But, in the spirit of supporting Aussie wines – I had a great Shiraz the other night – 2014 Two Hand’s Angel’s Share Shiraz #9480 $24.95. I’ve had the Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz #660043 $24.95 but on sale until Feb. 26th (good effort) and Bella’s Garden which is a special wine but have not had the Angel’s Share before the 2014. This is a big wine in the style of Aussie Shiraz that we’ve all come to love. However, it has another note under the power – class. Hard to put a solid experience of class into words – maybe it’s the way it opens, the balance, maybe it’s the clear chocolate notes and finish. Not sure. However, I’m assuming that the mother ship has some of this stashed away for another time – keep your head up. It’s cellar worthy too.

hopbaconoirStaying much much closer to home, the 2014 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Baco Noir #461699 #24.95 might be the best version of this wine that I’ve had. The Speck family does this grape better than anyone down in Niagara. This bottle will be a huge surprise to those that haven’t had a Baco above $12. Smoky, leathery on the nose, spicy on the swallow and finish. Big fruit. Cellar worthy. Some people I know never drink Niagara wines – just don’t like them. Maybe it’s from years ago. Maybe it’s people trying to convince them that they warrant another look. Not sure. But, you should drink what you love and love what you drink……….. unless I disagree with you. Then you’re just plain wrong and that’s not an alternative fact because I’ve held this belief for quite some time. Ergo, it’s true.

fiasco

Chianti Fiasco

Is anyone out there old enough to remember when Chianti was pure shit? I mean when enough white and unnamed varieties of grapes were added so that the final version was weak and confused. The good news? It was cheap. The bad news? Cheap meant that you bought a lot of it despite the experience.

Well, nowadays Chianti is anything but cheap or pallid. The rules have changed for the better. The other night a friend brought over a bottle of 2013 Chianti Classico full of cherries and acidity. It was a great effort. This weekend there are a few Chiantis to try – I haven’t had them in the vintage being offered but encourage you to pick one of them up or another Chianti Classico or Chianti Rufina that might catch your eye. The Frescobaldi, the Nippozano, the Gabbiano, the Lornano? It’s a perfect wine for the current weather and winter cuisine.

lagoneThere is a lovely Tuscan wine that I’ve had – 2013 Aia Vecchia Lagone Toscana #47690 $19.95. This is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc from Bolgheri. It’s very structured right now with tannins hitting pretty hard and up front – I should have left it to breathe longer or just sit down below until a little later. Full-bodied, powerful – darker fruits. This would be a great addition to any cellar despite the modest price. If you love Super Tuscans, pick this up for a special meal. FYI, a fellow blogger wrote a nice piece on this winery and some of their wines. You can read Jeff, The Drunken Cyclist’s piece here.

abaddombuenoLooking for a well aged red with loads of personality? Pick up the 2006 Abad Dom Bueno Crianza #244699 $15.95. This is so ready to drink – dark fruits filing the glass on the sniff – sandalwood and tea on the finish – tasty. I’ve reviewed this before and can only imagine that another year in bottle will be bringing to a close this wine’s window. So, pick up a couple, decant to remove some sediment that is present (or just pour carefully and leave a little in the bottom), and have with some cured meats, olives and tapas. Bierzo wines made from Mencia are tasty values and this is one. Hell, pick up three at this price. Four even.

grandtheatreA wine that I’m getting a few of is the 2014 Grand Theatre #468678 $20.95. Not because of the write up or past experience but because of our local theatre – The Grand Theatre – of which we’ve been subscribers for years. And, for whom my brother was the Head of Electrics for almost 25 years. Kind of a sentimental pick. A Bordeaux from Saint-Emilion – heavy on the Merlot. Hoping that it rewards my loyalty.

Cheers.
Bill

Remember: You can check availability of any wine by clicking on the link (product # and price), dropping down the city menu, choosing your city and clicking Find Stores. Good luck.

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