Archive | April, 2013

The White Daily Slosh – Patio Time!

25 Apr

mountrileychardonnayLast time out, I talked about a sauvignon blanc from the New Zealand producer, Mount Riley. This week, there’s the chardonnay. The 2011 Mount Riley Chardonnay #032318 $17.95 won’t satisfy those that hunger for oak and buttery goodness. However, it more closely resembles chardonnay from its historical roots in Burgundy. Lots of typical chardonnay fruit – apples mostly for me – and a solid underpinning of steeliness or stoniness. That’s what reminds me of Burgundy – you know, one of those Louis Jadot entry level whites. Although good with food, this would make a great patio white before the days get too hot. After work, with friends, talking disparagingly about people that aren’t there. You guys know what I’m talking about – who’s not pulling their weight, how crazy the boss is, unreasonable expectations, “I think I’ll phone in sick tomorrow.”

 domainedegrenaudiereYears ago, when wine for me was what you drank if there wasn’t any beer or to impress others, I would very knowledgeably pick up an Entre Deux Mers made by Chateau Something Or Other as a guaranteed crowd pleaser – well, when the beer ran out. It was usually pretty good, actually, and priced right at about $1.80 a bottle. Does this ridiculous price indicate my advanced age? Let’s just say that I saw Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young live when they had hair. This week, there’s a Sèvre et Maine muscadet that represents the same value/experience proposition. The 2011 Domaine de la Grenaudière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine #326827 $14.95 brings lots of aroma and punch to a crisp finishing white. This wine goes great with snack style seafood – that’s peel and eat shrimp, grilled calamari, fish kabobs. And, like the wine above would make a great addition to any patio. Or, while watching Homeland with a bowl of Goldfish (original flavour). Remember you don’t have to wait until the beer runs out to appreciate wine.

ducadiquadriMy niece, Lauren, told me that when she shops for wine, she grabs a pinot grigio rather than wander the store pretending to know what to get. It’s easy shopping, she knows what it tastes like and appreciates it – a great formula for success with wine. I told her that I’d keep an eye out for a pinot grigio to recommend and there’s one on the shelves this week. The Duca di Quadri Catemario Collezione Privata Pinot Grigio #120782 $14.95, like its name, is longer on finish and flavour than your typical pinot grigio – a step up in quality and price from the entry level grigios. This is pretty good on its own, like most of these wines and brings us back to patios and gossip. Serve chilled to approximately 45.735 degrees F. Don’t fuss, just approximately.

domainedesaspesI tasted a viognier last night that brings the unique viognier experience to a well-priced effort – 2011 Domaine des Aspes Viognier #712638 $15.95. This wine shows you how viognier feels so round in your mouth at the same time as it brings a stoney character. Actually, that’s a brutal description – poorly written. It sounds like I’m describing Bedrock: Fred Flintstone (round) and Barney Rubble (stoney character). It’s just hard to explain without getting too weird like that. I think that viognier lovers like Andrew L. will appreciate this wine and those revisiting the grape or trying it for the first time will notice its balance, sneaky size, and foodability. It’s yummy – a perfect description! I’m thinking pick the others above for the patio and reserve this for indoors with food.

A Major Award Nomination Announcement

24 Apr

versatileblogger11I learned this morning that this blog has been nominated for the Bloggers’ Versatility Award. Thanks so much to Oenophilogical (blogarythms) for the shout out and nomination. You can read and please follow Oenophilogical by clicking here – great wine reviews and chatter.

It’s pretty cool to be recognized and a great way for the community to spread the word and support each other. I’ve found that the greatest support for a blogger is another blogger.

I’m feeling that I need to think this through – attending the Academy of Bloggers Awards ceremony and show. I realize that it’s a made-for-television event but still. I’ll need to pick who I’m wearing carefully. I’m leaning towards Robert (silent ‘t’) Docker (en francais ‘Dockay’). The after party should be great and given some of the nominees, I’m thinking we’ll have a pretty good time. Speech? Don’t want to jinx but I’m sure I’ll reach out to other nominees very graciously – (in draft still) “ I’m so honoured to be among those practicing the craft….blah, blah, blah, yada, yada. Mom, who encouraged me to drink at an early age – sniff – watching from above – this is for you.”)  

A requirement of the nomination is to relate 7 personal things about yourself. So, here goes:

I am incredibly anal about all of our home except my office which looks like a hurricane hit it. My desk has unclaimed receipts from 2008 hiding under receipts from 2006. Actually, I’m a little sloppy with my tasting notes too.

I am totally convicted of an idea or cause until I convince you to agree/join. Then, I lose interest.

I find myself very funny much to the embarrassment of my long suffering wife.

Confession: my palate is middling. I’m OK with it though.

I love dogs.

Friends and my sons are my greatest accomplishments and I value their time and reciprocal love and friendship more than I can say.

I love my life. Let’s drink to that!

An opportunity that the nomination provides is a chance to nominate up to 15 other bloggers for the Versatility Award and I don’t want to miss a chance to support those that I really enjoy reading or have just discovered and am looking forward to reading more (I know, run on sentence). Click their links and get entertained, informed, and motivated.

The Drunken Cyclist – I love his What We’ve Been Drinking and Wine of The Week, his blogs about his son Sebastien, and his knowledge of Champagne/sparkling wines

Red Wine Lovers – everything from tasting notes, recipes, pairing ideas, all regions present and accounted for

The Winegetter – almost a journal, fun to read and enjoy, great knowledge of German Riesling and I do want to learn more about these wines

Grapefriend – where wine meets modern and, sometimes, counter culture – great vibe. Fun and the Madmen updates are instructive – provide an historical tracking of wine drinking among the Madison Avenue crowd

Savor Encyclopedia – one woman’s journey to find the best of wine, beer, and spirits

The Wine Baron – fellow Canuck and Southern Ontarian which provides some great information on restaurants, wines, and travel

Twelve Dollar Taste Buds – All about less expensive wines and the writer’s experience sloshing and slurping through them

Talkavino – Exceptionally well written reviews, rambles, rants, and tips. Well-informed and experienced

The World At Our Table – by a former colleague from another movie, stories (well-written) about traveling the globe from home through the food of the world

Wine Is My Life – reviews of wines by an extremely experienced taster, plus other snippets of wine related stuff

There are other great blogs that I follow but I think I need to end it there to make sure you click through a few without it being too daunting. If I’ve missed you, I’m sorry but the orchestra has started to play STOP NOW music and the pretty, smiling, young usher woman is motioning me to get the hell off the stage – Go to Commercial.

What I Did For PD Day – Red Daily Slosh

22 Apr

tenutacastigligoni

2010 Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni #145920 $21.95  In 2010, this wine has returned to its fantastic 2007/2008 phase from its really, really good phase in 2009. I seem to recommend this wine each year because……..I like it a lot. The price point might dissuade a few of you more comfortable with wines in the $9 – $15 range, particularly when they are labels you know and trust. “What if it isn’t me and I just plain don’t like it? What if I’ve wasted my money on a recommendation of someone I don’t even know, despite how incredibly brilliant he sounds?” So, here I am making my case for why you should try stuff that might be out of your comfort zone or price range once in a while. I went to the movies last week as part of PD day activity for a 10 year old (won’t admit what we saw………The Croods) and came out $38 poorer. Now, I went to the movie simply on the basis of who I was with. So that’s $38 for time spent with someone I love dearly. Did I worry that it might not live up to the $38? “Nooooooo!” Did I worry that I might not understand it – it being a cartoon movie and all. “Nooooooo!” Did I eat all the popcorn? “Yeeeesss!” I had a blast. There is a point and it is: Buy This Wine! It’s got all the spice and purply fruit that Toscana can deliver, plus a little leather and it’s easy drinkin’ right now – balanced, softish tannins. Almost perfect. Quaff with tenderness and affection alongside someone you care about and you’ll appreciate it – just like I appreciated Nicolas Cage’s spectacular voice over work as Grug. That was sarcasm, if you didn’t recognize it in its typed format.

remofarinaripasso 2010 Remo Farina Montecorna Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore #056267 $19.95. My friend Michael R. went on a ripasso obsession run a few months ago and told me about this producer’s entry level ripasso. I ran out and….it was all gone, but this more serious ripasso from the same vintage and producer was in stock. This wine brings nice balance, full flavour and the smells of smoke and leather – full-on. The review in the release magazine says, “Stylistically, this is a stepping stone between Valpolicella Classico Superiore and Amarone Classico.” Maybe much closer to the former for me. You’re not ever close to Amarone until, oops, you are Amarone IMHO. It’s suitable for a stand around wine but would pair well to roast meats. If you’re a ripasso hound like Michael, hurry hard to your local this Friday or Saturday. Click on the link above for availability in stores near you. In fact, click on the stock number links for any wine featured to check stock.

susanabalbocsI have received hundreds of thousands of emails telling me my recommendations are spot on. The most (hundreds and hundreds) had to do with 2010 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec. People love this wine – mature beyond its years, full of dried fruits and balanced like Carl Walenda before the accident. Well, I was walking through my favourite Summerhill store a week ago and what do I spot but 2011 Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon #260919 $19.95. I like it when great winemakers put their name on a wine to declare that, “I’m proud of this wine.” Francisco Yellowtail’s efforts, par exemple. Susana Balbo creates wines for several labels and Dominio del Plata is her home base. This wine is all that the aforementioned malbec is but with a heart of very present tannins and an acidity level that begs for food. I think you could buy a case and sample over the next ten years. Sorry for the obviously inflated stats above – I was hunting sponsorships. Won’t happen again.

langagarnachaFrom the bargain files comes a Spanish red that is, well, a bargain. In the good old days (BTW, these are the ‘good old days’ of 2020), I’d always be gushing about a wine that cost $10 to $15 with a bunch stashed below ground. That price point ($10-$15) has been cluttered by wines that, frankly, seldom thrill me as individual wines; to the detriment of those that do show promise. When I think I’ve found something I tell you (Rosewood Sussreserve Riesling, Rockway’s Assemblage, etc.). Along comes Spain with a wine that’s complex, balanced, unique, and only $14.95 – 2008 Langa Tradicion Centaria Garnacha #194795 $14.95. The last Spanish Daily Slosh I recommended was 2009 El Halcón Old Vine Tempranillo #313783 $17.95 and my readers ran out and made it the biggest selling wine in history (sorry, couldn’t resist). But, it was good, wasn’t it? Very good – I still have a couple in the dark. The Langa Garnacha this week is so ready to drink. Where the El Halcon tempranillo had a bit of a bite to it, this wine is smoother, darker in flavour and colour, and much rounder. It’s incredibly busy in the glass and has a mouthfeel that tells you this has the benefit of some age. Love Spanish style wines? Get this! Would get by nicely without food – maybe while watching The Croods in Blu-Ray when it comes out. Don’t forget the popcorn.

SB TriompheCFI bumped into someone this week that used to work at Southbrook Vineyards (picture below – of the winery, not the person) and we talked about how well their wines have been received, over the last few years particularly. I love their 2011 Triomphe Chardonnay and the Framboise. This week, an organic, biodynamic cabernet franc from Southbrook Vineyards is featured. The 2011 Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Franc #275958 $21.95 will bring you a full blown New World cab franc experience but only if you pick it up. This wine is very flavourful (red fruits mostly with some interest in peppery, spicy notes) and has a nose that’s, as usual, powerful but a surprise, in that it’s fruitier – not covered up with wood or smothered in alcohol (13.3% ABV) like some. Plus a twist cap ready-made for picnics and third bottle of the evening openings – ’cause we all know how dangerous a sommelier’s corkscrew can get as the evening progresses. This wine will cellar for a few years, I think. Very nice to see organic and biodynamic practices making their mark in Ontario (I’ll try to feature when I can). And, if you haven’t had the Southbrook Framboise #341024 $15.95 over real vanilla ice cream or with dark chocolate, you haven’t lived on the Precipice of Delish!

southbrook

Previously Unexplored Wineries Part Deux – Colaneri Estate Winery

18 Apr

colaneriSince my next Daily Slosh post will feature wines using the recioto, appassimento, and ripasso techniques, I thought I’d mention, in advance, my trip to a newer and exciting winery in Niagara on the St. David’s Bench. I won’t get in to the methods themselves because we can all Google. Plus most of you guys have as much, if not more, experience with them than me. So, to the winery we go.

When we decided to venture to the Colaneri Estate Winery (photograph above by Fred Couch), I have to say that I hadn’t heard much about it. Their wines are mostly available at the road side or on-line and reviews seem to concentrate on readily available wines. Shows that I have to work harder. Colaneri is located beneath Sir Issac Brock’s glare. He’s actually facing the other direction but he’s close by, you can feel him – spooky. As you approach this winery from Concession 6, you might think that you’re arriving at a large Italian villa located amidst a vineyard. The façade is striking (picture above – doesn’t quite do it justice). It’s hard to believe that it’s not just a façade but it houses real functional buildings; event rooms, tasting rooms, and the working winery itself. It is really cool. Great story about their family here.

Upon arriving through the big wooden door to the tasting area, Arlene and I were met with the smell of garlic and rosemary and friendly greetings. I thought that it was out of place, the garlic and rosemary that is, until I was told that mother was cooking Sunday dinner. OK, I’ll selfishly admit that I thought that we should have been invited. What better way to taste wine than to do it amid the smells of home cooking? It made us feel at home.

The Colaneri family dries their harvested grapes for most of their wines before squishing them or uses the ripasso method and adds the must from one wine to another to add some funk and muscle. I never imagined that this would be a good strategy in Ontario but that shows you what I know. What this does for my experience is concentrate the flavours and lend an air of maturity to the wines. Let me first explain that the wines are not named after varietals. Most names have something to do with the family’s history and Italian culture. And the labels – as well connected to the family – require an explanation. Very cool and in today’s wine culture of varietal names and nonsense labels, requires some courage. I’ll speak about our two favourite wines.

paeseThe 2009 Paese $27.95, Chardonnay – ‘paese’ meaning, in this case, home or hometown. Although many of their white wines use either the recioto or appassimento methods (sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc, pinot grigio, Gewurztraminer), the chardonnay is made traditionally. Its fruit is intense on the nose (more intense than most Ontario chardonnay IMHO) and is delivered with a more tropical theme – not Tommy Bahama shirt tropical (style) but Dole tropical (substance). The oak aging is front and centre, the style loved by Arlene; meaning we went home with a few of these babies. I think this would benefit (more nuanced and together) from some time under the stairs but it is great now too. Let’s see how long they last.

insiemeThe 2009 Insieme $34.95. I believe it means ‘together’ and has Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. This wine uses the appassimento method and is a leathery, full-bodied beauty with dried fruits a la Amarone although not quite the elevated alcohol. A Jimmy Durante nose that carries almost all the stuff you’re about to taste. Perfect with a meal of roast red meat (think I’d choose lamb – was it lamb that mother was cooking?) with vegetables that were cooked alongside the roast. Drinks great now but could also cellar.

You can purchase at the winery, on-line www.colaneriwines.com or by phone 905-682-2100. They tell me they’ll deliver to your door! Or join their wine club 

Get out to Colaneri the next time you’re doing a winery crawl in Niagara! And, remember: Crawl Responsibly!

Previously Unexplored Wineries – Megalomaniac Wines

15 Apr

megalomaniacI took a wander to Niagara a month and half ago.. Well, technically just the Vineland, Beamsville  area. I decided to live vicariously as Cuvée 2013 was being held in Niagara Falls over the weekend and I wasn’t attending. I’ve been through the area a bunch and always tend to stop in to my favourites – Tawse, Malivoire, Thirty Bench, Daniel Lenko and the other usual suspects that you’ll find in my musings. So, this time, I was determined to accomplish three things 1) see some of the wineries that I’ve heard a lot about but not visited, 2) try and spit more, drink less, and if that fails drive the back roads to get home. We won’t comment on number 2 – it’s a policy here never to comment on number 2. Oh, and 3) have lunch at On The Twenty in Jordan. Superb! I’ll introduce a couple of these wineries over the next few weeks.

Megalomaniac Winery is perched on a hill over-looking sleeping vines and seasonal mud and brutal potholes. Word to ownership – gravel for next year. I mean it should still be a farm but smoother. I was driving the battered, yet determined, VW Passat up, up, (did I say it was muddy?) and up again finally arriving at a very cool (as in ‘dope’ and chilly) stone underground winery (picture above). All kidding aside, they have created a very special reception and tasting area underground – tasteful and unique as is their marketing approach and their wines. As always, I asked to sample what they were most proud of and the young woman (why are Niagara wineries replete with lovely, knowledgeable, and incredibly friendly staff? Or, am I just easy?) suggested a few wines but I’m going to concentrate on just a couple.

2011 Megalomaniac Eccentric Savagnin ($28.95) That’s not a typo despite my spellcheck underline. Savagnin is a French white grape grown most commonly in Jura. Haven’t heard of it? Well, clearly not cramming for a Masters of Wine or WSET exam. I, myself, had to Wiki it 215px-Côtes-du-jura_blanc_1997to see that the savagnin grape has a “rather unstable genome.” Who writes this stuff and someone make them stop? This wine smelled like gewürtztraminer (not spice but floral) and felt a bit like a chardonnay in my mouth as suggested by host. Although dry, it has that viognier way of making you think its a bit off-dry. It’s probably just the persistence of flavour. It comes in an oddly shaped bottle reminiscent of cognac – just like it commonly does in Jura (image courtesy of Wikipedia). Is it good? You bet. Hardy enough to stand up to a meal of your choosing and if you’re fussy, I’d suggest creamy-herby chicken something or other. Give this wine a look see if you’re into fuller-bodied white wines. Plus, just think of the commotion the grape name will cause. “Don’t you mean Soveeneyawn, Bill?” “Why, no, I’m too cool for that common grape.”

2011 Megalomaniac Big Mouth Merlot ($24.95). I’ve always detected a green thing within the aromas/flavours of wines made from red Bordeaux varietals grown in Ontario? Especially, if it’s a straight up one varietal wine. Maybe with the exception of some cabernet franc, now that I’m thinking about it. Well, I’m trying to understand and embrace the green rather than bitch about it. Hold me accountable. This wine is right-sized for most everyone’s taste. If you’re looking big as in the name – I’m not finding it. Now, that’s not bad to me – that’s good in the case of this wine. Cherries…insert another red fruit of your choosing…. and a hint of green pepper (which I’m trying to embrace?) that works for this medium bodied wine. Have to say that I loved it – particularly the absence of heavy stand-alone oak – it’s well integrated. Really loved it! To borrow an overused phrase in wine writing – this would be a “crowd-pleaser”. Standing and walking around or burgers requiring several bottles at least – bonus.

The labels are neat too. Based on the work of Rene Magritte.

Resolution – visit Megalomaniac again later this spring on my Niagara tour. Road dry and smooth. You can order wines through their website https://www.megalomaniacwine.com/secure_order.php .

Some available at LCBO search here www.vintages.com for availability.

Climbing Mount Riley – White Daily Slosh

12 Apr

mount riley sbSlim pickings for daily slosh whites, this release. I haven’t had many of the New Zealand whites and much of the others are new to Vintages. I’ll keep it short and sweet. Well, actually long and extra dry.

Every year, there seems to be a mess of New Zealand sauvignon blanc that represents value. This week, the 2012 Mount Riley Sauvignon Blanc #981670 $16.95 is one of these. This producer makes a sauvignon blanc with lots of attitude. Crisp, classic, and best consumed with friends and more Mount Riley. All the gooseberry that you can handle. “How much gooseberry is it?” Well, it’s so much gooseberry that somewhere there is a guy chewing on a gooseberry and saying, “wow, there’s some Mount Riley on the mid-palate.” Perfect wine for the spring that’s coming. It is coming isn’t it? Soon?

Hahn chardonnayLove to entice the chardonnay hounds out there. Why is it that chardonnay lovers are ‘hounds’ and pinot lovers are pinot-philes? What about cabernet sauvignon lovers? Cab savages? Let’s see if we can agree on a name. We could get T-shirts made. Anyway, from the general listing aisles comes a very quaffable California chardonnay Hahn Chardonnay Monterey #234393 $16.95. It’s got a creaminess that belies the price point in that it isn’t creamy gone wrong but just the right amount of buttery goodness.

Splurgin’ On The Bay – Weekend and Splurge Wines

11 Apr

2012 CloudyBayIf there ever was a wine that created a buzz for a wine region, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is it. New Zealand came to life here one day, like Frosty The Snowman, when our dear monopoly brought Cloudy Bay to town many years ago. At that time, there weren’t a lot of kiwi wines that were known to the masses. This one had people lining up like junkies to get a sip.  2012 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc #304469 $29.95 I haven’t had the 2012 but given the reviews I’ve read, my experience with other vintages, the history of the wine itself, and this particular vintage, I’d say scoop a couple up. If you like a sauvignon blanc that’s bold, thick (not sure that’s the proper word – substantial?), and full of tropical fruits, this wine is for you. Get one of these and have a sauvignon-off with others that I’ve recommended. You do obediently run out and get my recommendations, don’t you? Unfortunately, I know the answer. So, bring a bottle of Cloudy Bay to my place and I’ll throw in the others.

MdCTintoIt seems lately that I’m always talking about Spanish reds. Well, I like them and I have the pen. It could be that I can’t resist getting them, try them, and then want to talk about them. They’re interesting always, reasonably priced, and have a sense of place that’s not always evident in other wines. Two weeks ago it was Beronia, a regularly available label. This week it’s another label that we’ve all seen. Some of you may not remember not having my incredible eidetic memory (go ahead and Google it, I’ll wait). But, you have seen this brand label many times 2005 Marqués de Cáceres Tinto Reserva #702761 $24.95. Another balanced, expressive Rioja. Check the vintage. This wine has had time to caucus and decide what it’s going to be. Full of fruit with a very pleasant “what the hell is that?” post-swallow. I see several answers to that question in my notes – “cedar”, “some kind of herbal thing that I can’t nail down”, and “lovely.” Sorry for the less than precise description, I was just enjoying it, not studying it. When I open my next one, I’ll elaborate. If Spain is your place, run, don’t walk to get a few of these.

Try It You’ll Like It – Red Daily Slosh

9 Apr

eastonlabelThe zinfandel tasting that I went to this time last year had a remarkable Easton Estate Zinfandel from 2006, I believe. It was full of interest and, despite the fact that we had already sipped, swished, and spit or swallowed too many zinfandels (when I say “too many”, that’s a lot of zinfandel), this one captured our attention. I’ve subsequently had their 2000 Estate Bottled Zinfandel which is widely available and overflowing with coffee, chocolate and alcohol. This week, the 2010 Easton Zinfandel #328377 $22.95, their entry level zinfandel, arrives. It isn’t nearly the fun that their estate bottlings are but bears some of the same house style characteristics. Spicy, structured and mouth-watering. It could even take a few years in the basement or closet. As summer (AKA grilling season) approaches, you need to stock up with zinfandels anyway, so this is a start.

KimCrawPNKim Crawford wines are featured this week at the mothership. We’ve all had them. Probably the sauvignon blanc, in particular – pretty dependable, depending on vintage. The 2012 Kim Crawford Pinot Noir #626390 $19.95 is one of those. Dependable Kim Crawford wines, that is. I’ve served this (an earlier vintage) at a New Zealand wine tasting and people weren’t prepared for the tang that this wine can hold. It’s a good tang. It’s a pinot noir tang. And, if that’s your……tang, you should pick this up. Loads of red fruits and a little smokiness too. It’s pretty fresh and could use some time in bottle or swishing violently in your glass. Leaving it for a year or two would soften the wine for sure.

There was a great discussion on a blog that I follow www.savorencyclopedia.wordpress.com about New World versus Old World wines. Sometimes readers take my advice (which never ceases to amaze me) and try Old World wines when they’ve been swilling New World Aussie shiraz, California cabs, and Fuzion since they were babies. These readers sometimes tell me that they can’t see what the big deal is with, say, Italian wines because they are too ‘sour’. It makes ‘em pucker. Well, embrace the pucker! Let it dissipate (“thaw, melt and resolve itself in to a dew” – apologies to Bill Shakespeare) and taste villa cafaggiothe fruit that these wonderful reds offer – Bonus Track – you get all the musty, floral/herabally, earthy, cedary stuff too. Wait, there’s more. You get the feeling that you’re actually there – in Italy – sitting outside overlooking a piazza, Monica Bellucci pushing a flower cart, an older woman in black with a sack of fresh baked baguettes on her shoulders (they smell fantastic – the baguettes that is), two older men playing chess at a café table, did I mention Monica Bellucci? All this as lead up to a Try-It-You’ll-Like-It red from the Old World – 2009 Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico #176776 $19.95. This wine is medium bodied with some good smack but not too much. It has loads of personality in the way of sangiovese red fruit (cherry?) and some essence of the spice that I like in the Chiantis I love the most. Go ahead, try it, you’ll like it.

marransI feel that Beaujolais is a bit under appreciated. How many times do you hear anyone say, “Back up the Beaujolais truck and unload a case or two.” Never. Is it the memories of Beaujolais Nouveau past? Is the name too silly sounding; reminding you of a French Foreign Legion flick? (Note: Shout out to anyone who gets that last line) Is it because it isn’t pursued and analyzed to death by the wine cognoscenti? What’s not to like with a food friendly wine that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? This week 2011 Domaine des Marrans Fleurie #324897 $19.95 hits the shelves. Fleurie is usually the freshest of Beaujolais for me – maybe a bit lighter but still packin’. This one should be chilled a bit – maybe 15 minutes in the fridge to release all the good stuff. Serve with a whole lot of sunshine, a patio, and friends.

There’s a promotion of Portuguese wines this weekend. So, I have to mention something Portuguese. There are a bunch to try and fortunately (for me) I had tasted one and this is it. The 2009 Quinto do Portal Frontaria #324533 $13.95 is a fairly complex wine for the price point. This definitely has the Old World feel to it for me but rounder (not sure if we all mean the same thing when we say round – save that discussion for another time – I guess I mean that it doesn’t start with tannin or acid – so, not sharp in my mouth), a little oak, and some backbone despite the lack of attacking tannins. I like it a lot.

cusumanoOne last Old World red – 2008 Cusumano Noà #109512 $18.95. This red comes from Sicily. Little known fact – Sicily is Italy’s largest wine region and in most years produces the most wine of any region in Italy (courtesy of Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible if you don’t already you really should own this book). This wine is a blend that includes Nero d’Avola, a grape that I mostly associate with Sicily – maybe because most red Sicilian wines that we get here include this grape. When I’ve recommended a wine from this grape in the past, those that take me up on it (fools that they are) are enthusiastic in their praise for the wine – and send me expensive gifts by way of appreciation. Take me up on this one too. It’s not shy and brings lots of spice and earthiness. So, comparing to the Chianti above, it’s got more of a New World presence with an Old World pedigree. I am getting a bunch of this for BBQ’s at the lake. Who’s betting that they don’t last until summer?

Fantasy Baseball and Wine – Two of My Favourite Things

8 Apr

baseballgloveI completed my fantasy baseball draft in the Pals Of Olaf Baseball Association (POOBA) on the weekend. As usual I left the draft deflated but hopeful. I didn’t land Miggy Cabrera or Justin Verlander but if I’m lucky and they are not, they will get injured and my team, Duffs Tunas, will grasp the championship!

As I prepared for the draft and prepared may not be the right word…..scrambled, might better describe my technique, I considered the proper beverage for an auction style draft. And, it goes without saying that it had to be wine. I know, then why say it?

French? – Displays the fact that I don’t really know much about baseball. As in, how many French pitchers have won the Cy Jeune? Let’s say it would be bad karma.

Italian? – Conveys the fact that I don’t really care who wins because I’m taking a break until my Juventus side plays next weekend

New World? – Really? If the beer swillers that I’m defeating can pronounce it, I lose my wine mojo.

So, what did I land on? – Spain.

My thinking? My favourite team in the real baseball world is the Toronto Blue Jays and they are, for the most part, Dominican. They don’t make wine in the Dominican Republic but their national drink, rum, would result in a very bad ending for the Tunas. Trust me there is anecdotal and jurisprudence support to that prediction. Despite the fact that Sarah Palin understood Latin American people to speak Latin, Domincans speak Spanish. Ergo, Spanish is the language of my people – my Blue Jay people. So, I went to a mencia wine from Bierzo – Bodegas del Abad Dom Bueno Mencia 2008 ($15.95). My notes – “Opened far ahead of its time – dark fruits abound in this full-bodied, deep……” That’s about all I bothered to take down. It’s hard to pay attention to the draft and the wine. However, I did notice great acidity to go with convenience store popcorn and creeping regret. Actually am going to get a few more of these.

I will keep you apprised of the Tunas speedy rise to the top of league standings. Why rise, you ask? Because we currently reside in second last place. Maybe next year?

Ramble #8 – Where Liquor Meets Heritage Preservation

5 Apr

summerhillI dropped in to the Summerhill LCBO (picture) this week with a couple of friends, one of them a neophyte to this Holy Grail of booze. After about way too long a time spent looking at wine (everyone understanding and nodding their heads), the neophyte said, “Why don’t they make more of these stores? You know. Stores that have this great re-purposing of an historical building feel and are filled to the brim with stuff you can’t get elsewhere. And seeing as it’s in Toronto, this building probably would have ended up a condo tower.” OK, I’m paraphrasing and taking creative license.

So, let’s think  about it. This company has a monopoly on almost all selling of alcohol in a province of over 15 million people. I repeat – a monopoly for selling alcohol, Mr. Capone. Every time someone dare mention that some part of the sale of wine, liquor and beer be privatized, we hear that citizens are the beneficiaries of several kazillion dollars applied against an ever burgeoning public debt that, sniff, sniff, my grandchildren will have to pay off. Pause to blow my nose. I agree that’s a great argument. In addition to that, should we dare consider the sale of wine from untrained and money grabbing, look-the-other-way, private sector wine merchants and convenience store cartels, we would end up with wine addicted 10 year olds (with fake ID) standing on street corners accosting older white guys, like me for a toonie to purchase a bottle of Tignanello. What can I tell you? They’re spoiled, addicted 10 year olds with great taste in wine and the mistaken impression that old(er) white guys care about them.

I get it; there is some common benefit from the concentration, control and distribution of booze, I guess. I’ll concede that folks in Wawa really do get better selection than a privatized system would provide. And, maybe there’s a stricter vigilance to age barriers to purchase beverage alcohol. And, I believe that they’re doing the best they can cause my therapist told me that’s the best way to look at people. You just get too angry otherwise.  But they’ve come so far – why not go further?

Does an absolute monopoly have to mean that the only place I can get wine has to be in a store that looks like a GAP factory outlet? Does this monopoly have to follow the unsustainable mantra that you build stores that all look exactly alike with parking enough for the 45 minute period of each year when you’ll actually need it? The Growth Secretariat loves it, I’m sure but. Why not instead, just once in a while, take the opportunity that guaranteed profitability presents and take historical buildings slated for municipal wrangling and eventual demolition and make them Summerhill? Re-purpose the former home of Mooney Gibson in London Ont. (Google him, non-baseball fanatics) for a lovely wine store. Oh, wait, that home was torn down. Come on, don’t change the world one building at a time. Just change one building at a time – the world will look after itself. Don’t regret Summerhill – franchise it! Become the beacon of heritage preservation! We’re the LCBO – come in here, buy stuff to get a buzz, get off on the building you’re in and learn that old doesn’t mean “tear it down”. I think there could be a slogan there. Pared down a bit but catchy.

And, then, the madness begins. Stock that store with lots of selection and then add an order desk that isn’t just a, “Let me see what’s in the warehouse, sir”, but an “I’ll see if we can order that in from Monsieur Le Vin, mon ami de Gigondas, Mr. Duffswines.”  Wow! Awesome! It would stop me from smuggling at least. I know everyone is doing the best they can. But, wouldn’t this be better? And, isn’t better, always always better?

I’ll forego the privatization argument for another ramble. Wait, I’ve already won that one, haven’t I?

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