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.

Time For A Quickie?

9 Feb

i-know-a-lot-about-wine

I had an SEO-website-functionality kind of guy send me an email (unsolicited, I might add) telling me where I might be able to use his help to improve my traffic and increase my business. Sell more. Be more…………….bigger. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I am pretty big already.

I’m thinking that 10% of the people that read my blog are people that I actually know. And to them, I’m a big deal. Then again, I’m on new meds to manage my delusions of grandeur. Uhhh…….. they may not be working.

The guy did get me to thinking that maybe I need to post more frequently than once every couple weeks to form a real relationship with the readers of the blog. Maybe a stronger relationship might lead us to a group project to build that cabin in the woods together, forage for ‘real’ food, make our own clothes from sustainable plants, study Vaishnava mantras, and grow some weed. Actually, I’m thinking in reverse order. Or, second best outcome would be that we’d exchange comments, read each others blogs, buy more wine. Not a bad second best.

In that spirit, this is a quick recommendation of three wines we’ve had in the past week or so (read: yesterday before dinner) that I feel are good value, tasty, and on top of all that very representative of the place they come from.

poggio-alla-guardiaThe 2013 Rocca di Frasinello Poggio Alla Guardia #25718 $18.95 has a pretty impressive pedigree. This Maremma Tuscan winery has an exceptional mid-priced red that is always full-value and an iconic Super Tuscan, Baffonero, that is reserved for tastings only for this poor scribe – it’s top drawer. So, what about the Poggio Alla Guardia? Well, it is so ready to drink right now. It’s a Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon blend that comes straight at you – a bit of browning already going on, a hint of old wood on the nose, and big ripe fruits in the mouth and on the finish. Superb Value! Reminds me a bit of the Brancaia Tre in style, sense, and heft. Great food wine. Also goes well with Rush. Just sayin’. We are travelling to the Maremma this September and I hope to connect with these folks.

creekside-iconoclastCreekside Estates in Niagara is an original winery there and has gone their own way to great success. Their 2013 Creekside Estates Winery Iconoclast #471797 $22.95 (it was on sale at Wonderland North mother ship check there before you pay full price) is a great example of striking out on their own. This is a Syrah and treated similarly to Northern Rhone Syrahs with a touch of Viognier. Hell, I didn’t even know that they grew Viognier in Niagara. And do they pull it off? Yes, they do. Now it has some spice/pepper but not in the strength that you might associate with Syrah. It’s ready right now so the tannins are integrated nicely. The Viognier definitely adds a bit of floral on the swish and depth in the swallow. It’s great to see folks do their own thing and succeed. Great burnt bird wine. Think roast chicken and herbs.

organized-crime-chardonnayFor the Chardonnay hounds, there’s a great edition from Organized Crime – 2013 Organized Crime Chardonnay #408435 $18.95. This is a full blown Chardonnay – softness, ripeness, and butter. It’s exactly what The Director ordered. Good food wine – chicken with a cream sauce of some kind or just sipping slowly by itself. I also got this on sale at Wonderland North so check that out. FYI, I recommended the OC Cabernet Franc – here.

Cheers.

Bill

Remember: To check inventory at the LCBO, click on the link (Product # and Price) for your wine, choose your city from the drop down menu on the right, and click the Find Stores button.

Waiting on The Red Daily Slosh

2 Feb

This is my Bordeaux and Barolo theme song, it seems, as I seldom open them. I will wait and I will wait.

Let’s look at the February 4th release. Last week, I made recommendations for sparkling bottles for that release (with a brilliant call to arms) here. I’ll focus on the reds today.

chateau-blaignanSpeaking of Bordeaux, there’s a value pick from the great 2010 vintage – 2010 Château Blaignan #400606 $23.95. I have started to ignore the annoying habit of wine writers and the Bordelais of declaring vintage after vintage the “Vintage Of The Century“. It’s getting a bit tired. That said, 2010 was one of those declared ‘greatest’ vintages and there are a lot of good values to be had by taking wine from petite chateaux, second labels, or from some of the lesser known AOC’s in 2010. This wine – the Blaignan – is an example of that value proposition. Well balanced, drinking great right now. This wine has loads of fruit, some spiciness, and some sultry notes as well. More sophisticated than the price indicates. If you don’t hold, hold, hold your Bordeaux, then get a bunch of this. It’s ‘go time’ right now.

There’s a tried and true method to establishing a winning wine industry in a region – know what can work, what the land gives you, and then work it to death. You don’t see Bordelais screwing around with Sangiovese or Primitivo? I know that there are breaks from tradition that bear great results as in Super Tuscan wine but generally, working with what you have works best. Certain regions do best with certain grapes. In Niagara, they are focusing a bit more on Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir. In particular, Pinot Noir grown off the flats and more in the Twenty Valley, Beamsville Bench, Vinemount Ridge appellations domaine-queylus-tradition-pinot-noirseem to thrive and shine. A master of Pinot Noir, Thomas Bachelder has been skulking around here, as well as Oregon and Burgundy, making great Chardonnays and Pinots. This week, there’s a beaut of his – 2013 Domaine Queylus Tradition Pinot Noir #392738 $$29.95 hitting the shelves; I imagine in small quantities. Tasted at the cellar door, this is still a bit too early to pound – so it’s youthful, reserved, waiting to grow up – loads of red fruits, earthiness waiting to burst through some serious acidity. It reminds me of his Oregon efforts – serious, restrained, yet power lurking, lurking and, if you’re patient rewarding you. Keep this down below for a few years – I know that I am. If your ‘kind a’ Pinot needs to be a la Meomi, take a pass on this. But, if your sweet spot is Oregon, Prince Edward County, even Burgundy – this is for you.

mompertoneAt the Grandi Marchi last year (you can read my post on the tasting here), I sipped a slew of great wines. FYI, a ‘slew’ is the metric equivalent of 1.765 times a ‘bunch’. A bunch being an imperial measure, of course. One of the tables was the Antinori family group and they had their 2014 Prunotto Mompertone Monferrato Rosso #388587 $18.95 among others. My tasting notes reflect that “I love it!” This is fresh – meaning youthful, sensuous, not round, angular. You need food with this. Tomato based pasta, sausage pizza, or a simple burger (not too much fancying  up) would be fantastic. If you had this wine blindfolded, you would have little trouble identifying that it was Italian and, if you’re a fan, you might even guess Piedmonte. Barbera grapes primarily with some Syrah. A swish or two in the glass allows this easy drinking, lip smacking red to open up.

 

casa-de-cambresI picked up a few of the Portuguese wines that were featured last release and the one that stood out for me was from the Duoro – the 2009 Casa de Cambres #470377 $13.95. This 40% Touriga Franca, 40% Tinto Roriz (Tempranillo), and 20% Touriga Nacional blend is drinking perfectly right now but will last through the next five years easily. So, it’s a cheap cellar candidate. Wood evident but not overpowering, dark fruits, and big nose. A good smack of acidity on the finish. If your first sip seems like the acidity overruns the fruit,  just let the wine rest and it will soften for you. Good value!

Cheers.

Bill

 

On Borders and The Sparkling Daily Slosh

27 Jan
border-wall

And the French will pay for it!

The other day I opened a bottle of red Bordeaux only to find that the bottle was corked, bad, stinky. It ruined my week of sipping! And, it frightened me – I have a bunch of red Bordeaux in my cellar. Do I need to fear them all? So, I’m penning this post to warn you. Oh, I know it’s a broad brush and I’m sure there are red Bordeaux that are good bottles – it really has nothing to do with all Bordeaux. In fact, I have friends that are Bordeaux. Let’s face it, though – Bordeaux are the predominant wines that lean to corkiness – those few can bastardize the true meaning and message of Bordeaux for their nefarious goals. The only way to ensure that we aren’t savaged by tainted bottles is to: 1) take an accurate inventory of the red Bordeaux in all cellars – I’ll set up a central database (please use form below) – if we know where they lurk, we can protect ourselves; and, 2) bar our borders to any more red Bordeaux coming into the country. What’s that you say? You’ve had “a corked bottle of California Chardonnay. Isn’t it winest to discriminate against a single wine?” No, don’t fall for that false equivalency. Let me explain – that’s an alternative fact that the Bordelais sow to get us to relax our vigilance on the red menace. Following that logic, soon all we will be able to drink is red Bordeaux to be………PC. California Chardonnay won’t be able to get a job. Then, the red Bordeaux get into Canada and voilà (to use our other official language – so you see it’s already working), we get corked.

Now, let’s get in to recommendations for the release of February 4th..

Having a few bottles of reasonably priced sparkling wine around is key to…………drinking reasonably priced sparkling wine. I usually have a enough bottles of Cremant de Something, Niagara bubbles, Cava, carpene-malvoltiand/or Prosecco to meet the requirement of a non financially painful fizzy to start the evening. And, I really love two of the sparkling wines featured in the February 4th release. The Carpene Malvolti 1868 Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore #727438 $18.95 should become your ‘go to’ Prosecco. It’s drier than a popcorn fart. How’s that for evocative description? It has a great amount of energy bursting from the glass – apples, peaches and a bit of sea salt – great acidity and the bubbles are softer than most Prosecco for me. Classy stuff for the price.
louis-bouillotThen, there’s the Louis Bouillot Perle d’Ivoire Blanc de Blancs Crémant de Bourgogne #048801 $19.95. This is a Chardonnay with the typical green apples and citrus character of the fruit. Much more citrusy and fuller bodied than the Prosecco. A hint of yeast like a good Champagne. Carries a lot of flavour on the swallow. I have a couple of these down below and, if it wasn’t 10 am, I’d be tempted to pop a cork on one of them right now. A perfect wine for brunch? You bet. This doesn’t always end well.

Cheers.

Bill

You didn’t expect a Bordeaux registration form here, did you?

Ludwig Von Dufton and The Rainbow Daily Slosh

20 Jan

ludwidvondrakeRiding on the train yesterday, I sat across the aisle from a couple of youthful academics. They conversed the whole 2 and a half hours about their field of study. Seriously – all the way. No let up. Did I say that they didn’t stop? I squirmed, I tried to turn them off, but it just dragged on and on. And, then I thought, “I wonder if two wine geeks sitting together on a train discussing the very critical issue of wine closures would piss off other passengers?” I mean, we’d need more than 2 and a half hours but I’m just using it as an example. Closures! Really, really important stuff.

corksI thought of my insufferable soliloquies at dinner parties about some arcane piece of wine junk as people’s eyes glazed over. And I realized – hey wine geeks – no one gives a shit about this stuff but us. Like the academics, we are submerged in our very, very important world. And, I got a little piece of perspective on that world today. That being said, let’s get real – corks or Stelvin are the only closures – and Stelvin only if you don’t require cellar time (air quotes) or the seductive pop of a cork.

The January 21st release has a few wines that are of interest. gassierThere’s a rosé that I’ve recommended before – 2015 Gassier Sables d’Azur Rosé #033621 $16.95. This is a typical pink from the Côtes du Provence – dry, snappy, medium-bodied goodness. I know the freezing rain outside doesn’t scream – “ROSÉ” but regardless, pink is good for occasions other than just sitting in the sun munching pan com tomate. I’m thinking, you arrive home after a hard day (of which I don’t have anymore – hard days, that is) to find a quiet house and only a few things to nosh – bread, olive oil, and olives. What to drink? Hey, if you’ve been paying attention, it’s this crisp cherry treat. Even if you haven’t any bread, olives or olive oil………well, I’d drink this by itself with the lights out and Barry White on. Correction of tense: I have had this with the lights out and no food but paired with Astrid Gilberto and tearful nostalgia. Maybe I needed to share. Perfect match.

tragicallyhipA few months ago, I suggested that I was buying a wine to celebrate the Tragically Hip’s last tour. Not sure if you watched the last concert in Kingston but I did. It was emotional – all I’m saying. I did buy and drink the wine too. The wine? 2015 The Tragically Hip Fully Completely Grand Reserve Red #411595 $24.95. This is pure Niagara. A blend of Bordeaux grapes – Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as Merlot. This is an endorsement of the belief that Niagara Bordeaux varieties need a little cuddle time – blending. This is much lighter than you’d expect. Subtle, dark fruit, structured for a longer term, and a bit dirty as would befit The Hip. I’m keeping a bottle or two down below to celebrate The Hip and Gord Downie at an appropriate time.

Have I told you that I love Beaujolais? Duh. We had company over the other night and I opened a bottle of Morgon – Jean Michel Dupré Vieilles Vignes de 1935 Morgon #440297 $19.95. They loved it. Perfect sipping wine on a cold descombeswinter evening. I got a bunch of it. This week, there’s the 2012 Jean-Ernest Descombes Morgon #946186 $21.95 from Georges Duboeuf. This wine is a keeper – it can cellar for at least 5 years rounding out some of the zip it exhibits now. Complexity is somewhat oxymoronic for many Beaujolais but this one carries some leathery stuff while not abandoning the fresh red fruits both on the sniff and swallow. It’s interesting. Given that it’s approaching Super Bowl time, I’d say a perfect Super Bowl sipper with onion and sour cream chips. Pretzels?

honoroCheap wine that I might recommend is hard to find. When I do find something that lands in that space, it’s usually an Iberian wine. I recommended the cousin of the 2015 Honoro Vera Monastrell #167684 $13.95 a couple times before. That’s the Garnacha (#432997 $12.95). They are both super value wines. The Granacha is a bit more round, easy drinking. But, the Monastrell is a beaut at this price too. Very peppery, big flavours and a Jimmy Durante nose. Intense. Way more wine than $13.95 deserves. They both have ultra cool labels too.

susanabalbocsThis release has a focus on Argentina. And when I think Argentina, I think Susana Balbo. Well, I think Buenos Aires, gauchos, Torrontes, and beef but I also think Susana. Then again, I’ve got a crush. What do I see but 2014 Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon #260919 $19.95? This is a drink now, crowd pleasing cab sav. Typical of the variety, medium to full-bodied – little cassis, little blackberry. Want a ‘go to’ for company? Stand around or dinner? This is it.

expressivoThen, also from the Balbo stable, there is the 2014 Benmarco Expressivo #263517 $39.95. This is exquisite. Crazy complex and furry. Needing a few years to sit in the bottle deciding what it wants to be when it grows up or a couple hours of decant minimum. This is what South America can craft from Malbec. It’s the Argentinean equivalent to Montes’  Purple Angel Carmenere which means it’s friggin’ great. Or for another option at high class Malbec, there’s Laura Catena’s 2014 Luca Malbec #167312 $33.95. It’s not in this release but still out there, I think – elegant and deep.

I just noticed that the labels for this week’s recos are crazy cool. Could I have been influenced by the labels alone? Nah – but the closures, absolutely.

Cheers.

Bill

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