Archive | January, 2014

Sip, Sip The Jip Jip – The Red Daily Slosh

31 Jan

These recommendations are for the February 1 release. You can find out what inventory your local LCBO store has by clicking on the highlighted link (stock number and price) and follow the logical steps. For future reference, some stores start populating the shelves with this stuff as early as Thursday.

jipjipIn the past, I’d refrain from looking up or “Googling” stuff that didn’t impact my life in some way. I’d use Google Translate, Thesaurus, travel sites, etc. But I wouldn’t check out stuff like who Diane Lane is dating now that she’s dropped Josh Brolin. I never thought they could have been that good together anyway – he just looks weathered and mean and his step-mom is Babs and Diane is ……just about perfect. Well, then we got an iPad and, Shazam (once a Marvel/DC comic book hero also known as Captain Marvel; now a music app) I am now needing to know every little detail of stuff that doesn’t matter! I hate myself. BTW, what do they call people that hate? Wait, I’ll control the urge. Anyway, when I saw the re-appearance of the 2011 Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz #673897 $16.95 I had a decision to make. Do I Google “Jip Jip” to see what it means, if it’s a place, an aboriginal word, a typo? I resisted and rather than Googling, Yahooing, or Binging, I’m shouting out to the Wine Wankers, our friends Down Under. “Guys, any ideas what “Jip Jip” means?” While we wait for an answer, let’s talk about this regular visitor to these pages. I like the style of this wine – not heavy and chewy but plush with fruit. It is medium-bodied to me (the review says “full-bodied” – so maybe in the 3/4 bodied range), good balance and the pepperiness that I love in Aussie shiraz. This is a food wine, if you chose to wait until dinner (roast beef?) is served, but I also think that company would dig it by itself. Great price.

ramitelloWhat do you get when you cross a Montepulciano with an Aglianico? A fun, expressive Italian. Drum roll ………Monica Belluci? No, the 2010 Di Majo Norante Ramitello #973214 $16.95! This is an easy drinking black fruit (cassis?), herby, chocolaty, dark beaut of a wine. It is one of those that makes its case for deal of the week, month, season. So, you don’t drink Italian wine that isn’t spelled pinot grigio, you say? I get that if you don’t drink red at all. But, come on it’s $16.95 – you are worth it. Live on the edge, walk on the wild side, change your name and join a band. But before you do, get a bottle of this and try it. Remember my iron clad guarantee – If you don’t like a wine that I recommend, you can reseal the bottle and send it to me.

speriripassoStaying in the boot. I play golf with a lover of Italian wine. He recommended a Valpolicella by Speri once and he was bang on especially on the value or QPR (Quality to Price Ratio). The Speri family has been at the wine game for awhile (according to write up) and it shows. There is a Old World feel to this wine that benefits further from the Ripasso method. If you have read this blog a few times, you may have heard me say that Ripasso isn’t always my favourite process – I just think that it doesn’t always translate into better wines. Valpolicella is great when it’s simple and easy sipping – a summer red even. Ripasso can sometimes make it too heavy for me, anyway. The 2011 Speri Pigaroi Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore #285206 $18.95 is an exception to that – it’s very well balanced with just enough heft. Ripe but not pruney – the bite of all my favorite Italian reds. All this makes it a great accompaniment to meat. Accompaniment with meat? Never sure. Actually even ‘accompaniment’ looks weird. I need a glass of wine! Good with a sausagy tomato pasta too, I bet. Sausagy looks wrong as well. Pop the bloody cork!

akaruaI just got in the door from some time in southwest Florida with friends. One of the cool things about these visits is the shopping for wine. We trudge to Total Wine and spend far too much time in there combing the stacks and dodging octogenarians and their walkers. When there, I try and gorge myself on American wine. And, maybe too much focus on pinot noir – leaving me wanting more. So, when I saw a chance to support a splurge pinot noir, I said let’s do it. My staff of crack tasters, Googlers, and glugglers has found the perfect follow up for California/Oregon pinot – 2011 Akarua Pinot Noir #079541 $37.95. This is a spot on representation of Central Otago pinot. It’s lean, mean, and a burnt toast, red fruit machine. Puckering and mouth-watering on the first sip but softening over time and after getting acquainted with your palate. I see it as a wine that could sit in your basement for a few years (4 – 7). It would be great to see what happens after a rest. OK, the part about staff is a shameless lie. I have to drink this stuff all by myself.

I’m off to see Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt tomorrow night. Can’t wait. And, wanted to give you a sample of what I might hear. Bypass the open chatter – song starts around 1:00. Cheers!

Hey Hippy, Get a Hair Cut – The White Daily Slosh

23 Jan

Scan_Pic00232010BarrelFermChard1These are recommendations for the February 1st Release.

When I was young, hair past my shoulders (yes, that’s me up there), struggling Fu Manchu, unfortunately even more vain than I am now, but flat broke, I had my hair cut at a barber school. I was going for the Rod Stewart Jeff Beck Group Look®. You can see it didn’t quite take. Suffice it to say that I learned the truth of the sigh-filled comment expressed by many a woman after a hair styling, “It will grow out eventually, I guess.” Now, what can this possibly have to do with wine? Well, it just so happens that you can like-wise buy wine made by those who are honing their craft at the Niagara Teaching Winery. Thankfully, it surpasses expectations usually and you won’t have to wait out a figurative ‘growing out’ of the wine. This week, the 2010 Niagara Teaching Winery Barrel Fermented Chardonnay #040634 $18.95 hits the shelves for an extended stay. This is a great example of how chardonnay in a cool climate can bring some edge in the mouth as well as the butter on the finish. Typical fruits – apple, a touch of peach on the nose. Good value! With food or without.

nadjaIt arrives! The best label in Niagara riesling IMHO – 2012 Flat Rock Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling #578625 $19.95. This wine is spectacular in great vintages, great in good vintages, and good in poor vintages, it seems. Like the Detroit Red Wings, it must be superior management; not luck or just the result of a great site. Great aromas of apple, stone fruit and a little floral somethin’ somethin’. Citrusy. Mouthwatering. This wine is made for food. It has some bracing acidity, an edge that would lend itself to something with some pop – nothing rich – maybe something from the Mediterranean as their site suggests. Nadja is surreal I’m Breton! Anyway, it’s good stuff.

kaikenchardI’ve mentioned the Kaiken Ultra line before in the red wines that they have. This week, there comes an Ultra chardonnay – 2012 Kaiken Ultra Chardonnay #355552 $19.95. This is a great candidate for a taste off with the Niagara Teaching Winery chardonnay above. Have some people over, blind taste them both and see what you think. This one is a bit riper – creamier. This is good stuff and if you’re looking for a strong contender for value creamy (but not too) chardonnay of the month, this is it.

Shallow Philosophical Disclosure: Can I say sometimes wines seem a bit too formula without it sounding critical? No – well, I’m saying it anyway. They just smell, taste and finish too purely – just what you thought they’d bring. Lately, or maybe always, I’m needing a bit more weirdness or deviation from expectation. So, I guess I prefer wines that have flaws or peculiarities? Maybe. Does that make sense? It’s like some of those current California cabs (and, Australian Shiraz’ of years gone by) – all in a row – priced within pennies and, seemingly to this amateur, tasting almost the same. I want to take the chance of having a bad one once in awhile. Surprising myself. I don’t think that I’m talking about terroir or anything that deep and I don’t like ‘bad’ wine. It’s just….. I don’t know, just sayin’ and thought you should know when following my recommendations.

NEW FEATURE ALERT!

Nostalgic Tune of The Post – Crossroads by Cream. Yes, Eric was young once just like the guy at the top of the page. More importantly, why aren’t there any ‘great’ drummers anymore. Or are there?

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #6 (Mystery)–Reminder to Vote!

18 Jan

Last chance to read some of the best darn bloggers on the planet. Just sayin’.

the drunken cyclist

vote31A gentle reminder to vote for your three favorite posts for this month’s Monthly Wine Writing Challenge. After four days of voting, it is still very much up in the air as to who might host next month’s challenge. There are three entries within two votes and another few that are just a little further behind. The voting closes Monday night so be sure to vote below. More importantly, make sure to visit each of the blogs below and read their posts! After all, that is the whole point of the Challenge!

Here are all of the posts (in alphabetical order this time):

An Edible Quest        The Armchair Sommelier      Asueba       binNotes

Confessions of a Wine Geek      Duff’s Wine      Flora’s Table       foodwineclick 

Frankly Wines      Julia Bailey   …

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Down By The Ribero – Red Daily Slosh

16 Jan

H3csI penned a post about the end of the calendar year and my first year writing this blog. But, after reading The Hosemaster of Wine’s rant on end of year posts, I declined to post it (click on his link – right banner – to read his take on end of year lists). One of the things that I did mention in that post is that I am going to drink more North American wines. So, lets’ kick the year off with one of my favourite North American red labels – 2011 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon #210047 $19.95. This is from the guys and gals that bring you all kinds of value wines from the Northwest, Chateau Ste. Michelle. I sometimes eschew (always wanted to use that word) ‘big’ wines. This is the exception that proves the rule – it’s pretty big and I love it; like I love John Goodman and Katie Webster. It has a smoky aroma and a smoky taste – even maybe meaty taste. It has a little heat at 14.5% ABV that I could detect on the nose even (which sometimes means a lack of balance to me) but this wine’s large enough to handle it. Dark fruit. I’d let it air out a bit or pour it through one of those wine gadgets you received for Christmas. And, have some burnt meat with it – steaks, ribs, BBQ chicken. Or, going out on a limb here, just pop and pour – forget about the fuss and drink alone, like me.

balbasI know, I know, $20.95 doesn’t qualify for a daily drinking red at my house either. But, this isn’t really a splurge and it might be the best $20.95 you’ve spent in a while. Well, since the 48 pound box of Tide at Costco? The 2001 Balbas Reserva #085183 $20.95 is a wine that I’ve recommended before and they’ve stocked up again at the LCBO. Plus, it won’t give you a hernia like the aforementioned Tide. They’ve done all the aging for you, it’s balanced, all nonsense integrated and working together, with a splash of acid that makes it very food friendly. It has leather both on the nose and a bit in the mouth. It’s grown up, mature – although gracefully so with a few years left and it’s settled on being one of the better value Ribera del Deuros available at the monopoly. I have purchased this wine on three occasions, same vintage and all, over the last 4 years and when I ran out, I cried, I hated myself for not getting more. So, seeing it once more on the shelves means a caselot, I fear. I want to love me; not hate me and I absolutely love this wine!

boutarigrI was sitting with a bunch of archaeology grad students last night and they were talking shop and Greek wines came up. The consensus was that Greek red wine was not so great. “Maybe when you’ve spent 10 hours in the sun crouched over a hole in the ground,” Bill says, demonstrating that he really doesn’t know what archaeologists do. But, there are many good to very good Greek red wines and many are made by Boutari. Hitting the shelves this week is the 2007 Boutari Grand Reserve #140111 $16.95. This is a full-bodied Naoussa red (one review says medium-bodied but I disagree) that’s chewy, ripe and full of fun stuff that everyone won’t agree on. I like it’s cedary, long finish and the fact that it’s lost a bit of it’s edges over time without being flabby. A challenge to those Greek red wine critics – pick this up and change your outlook. BTW, the Santorini Assyrtyko whites are fab too.

A wine that is coming in this weekend that I’m going to try:

perinet2005 Mas Perinet Perinet #143453 $16.95 Priorat wines that appear on these shores can be pricey. It’s a ‘hot’ region right now and the buzz is leveraged with higher pricing, I think. So, a Priorat wine with good pedigree that costs $16.95 is a good way to introduce/reacquaint yourself with this region. Love the label!

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #6 (Mystery)–Time to Vote!

14 Jan

the drunken cyclist

MysteryWell, the time for submissions is now over, and I have to say I am thrilled with the number and quality of entries this time around! The previous “record” number of entries was 15 and this month we had 25 (a 67% increase). Now comes the hard part–choosing the top post. Here are links to all of the posts submitted (in order of submission), and they also can be found over at the “official” website of the challenge: www.mwwcblog.wordpress.com

Please let me know if your post is not listed–I Googled MWWC6 every night to make sure I was not missing any, so hopefully each post is below!

Wine Ramblings        An Edible Quest          Confessions of a Wine Geek

Michael’s Wine       Oenophilogical        renenutet13       Wayward Wine

foodwineclick        Julia Bailey        sweetempranillo        Duff’s Wine

My Custard…

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Previously Unexplored Wineries – Pondview Estate Winery

8 Jan

pondviewfrontI was going to post this before the end of 2013 but I noticed that Pondview Estate Winery will have a booth at the London Wine and Food Show, January 16 – 18. I thought that if I sowed the seed closer to that date, it might encourage you to attend and drop in to see these fine folks. Tell ’em I sent ya. I was at the first iteration of this event and wondered where the wine was but the event has grown and there are a number of Ontario wineries (Lailey, Pondview, Angel’s Gate, among others) and breweries (Muskoka, Fork River). Get tickets here http://www.westernfairdistrict.com/shop/products#WineFood

This is the latest in a series of posts about winery visits to places I’m interested in knowing more about.  The other visits are chronicled here: Colaneri, Kacaba, Megalomaniac.

Last summer (2012) I attended the wedding of my niece in lovely Stratford Ontario. The wedding was great – happy couple, relieved parents, happy-for-a-free-meal relatives – that’s me – and a great setting. The red wine served was one that I hadn’t heard of before – 2010 Pondview Estate Winery Cab/Merlot Reserve. It was perfect for the occasion of an afternoon wedding and a terrace lunch at The Old Prune. I even spoke about the wine in a post.

I checked the shelves at my local and found nary a bottle of their stuff there. Well, it got me thinking, why not read up on this winery and then trundle down to Niagara-On-The-Lake and see what else is happening there.

Pondview Estate Winery is located in the Four Mile Creek Appellation close to the little village of Virgil. Every time I zip through Virgil, I’m singing The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down, by the time I clear the reduced speed zone. Follow? Apparently the appellation gets an abundance of sunshine allowing their Bordeaux varietals to provide a bigger, riper wine.

Pondview is located on Line 2 NOTL. Now, if you’ve purchased a new car with built in navigation (as had we when I tried to find this place), you might have trouble getting your friendly, neutrally accented navigation queen to point you in the right direction. It’s just weird down there (Lines vs. Concessions; paying attention to dozing off due to flat land) and I had a bit of bother finding the place. My fault (and that of the GPS, of course) not theirs. I mean you can see for miles as the topography is quite flat but still – an aging, forgetful wine blogger stumbled about for awhile before I arrived at the winery. Which is somewhat backwards as I usually stumble out, not in – but I stumble responsibly.

Pondview has a newer reception centre (picture above) that has a wide veranda with tables for sitting outside and enjoying the weather as well as the wine. They offer plates of cheese, glasses of wine and nibbles in season – so plan to spend some time. The whole image reminds of the farm stands that I used to frequent as a kid picking up sweet corn or fresh peaches only larger, newer, and a lot better kept – apologies to the Eastmans. It’s really quite charming and inviting. Where’s the pond, you ask? So did I. It’s out back behind the working winery. Once inside, there is a large room with the ubiquitous wine thingees and the Pondview line of wines stacked, ready for purchase. The tasting bar is the central focus of the room. I understand that there is a Barrel and Tank Room that is also used for tastings. Staff, as always in Niagara, are top drawer.

Pondview is a family-run enterprise – a family with a long history of agriculture and viticulture dating back to Italy. Family seemingly present and accounted for when I was there. I was met by Joseph Barbera – Sales Manager. Now, if you’re in my age cadre, you’ll remember Yogi Bear and BooBoo, Huckleberry Hound, Augie Doggie, and Fred Flintstone. These were all productions of Hanna-Barbera – Joseph Barbera, that is. I was a little too self-conscious to point this out to him as HE HAS  PROBABLY HEARD IT A MILLION TIMES BEFORE. Joseph was the perfect host for me – not assuming that I actually knew stuff but not talking down to me either. And passionate about their wine as he should be. The wines are all produced using estate fruit – which means grown by Pondview on their land, in this case, adjacent to the winery itself. Joseph told me that they are planting more acreage to accommodate growth and a broader selection of varietals.

harmonyNow, the wine. Let’s start with their entry level fun red – Harmony Red #336495 $14.95This red fits into the über competitive ‘Ontario Everyday Red’ category. Actually I‘m making that up – there isn’t a ‘category’ per se but you get what I mean. Wait, it’s a ‘niche’? Anyway, the goal is to make a consistent house style, easy drinking red that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. They’ve succeeded in spades with this wine. This wine was the perfect wine to kick off the red tasting – medium bodied, a hint of sweetness but not sugar, and fruit up front. When you visit ask about the label art not just on this range but the Bella Terra as well. Attention to detail that denotes to me – pride in product.

2011-Cab-Merlot-ReserveThe next red I tried was the 2011 edition of the Cab/Merlot above. The 2011 Cabernet Merlot Reserve $19.95 (the 2010 #307561 $18.95 is still available at a few locations of the  mother ship – otherwise, you need to pick this up at the winery itself or with dinner at several restaurants in the area) is a  medium-bodied wine with cherry and some wood being the predominant aromas. It swallows a bit hot and I think could withstand or even benefit from some cellar time or aeration. Good value in my mind and a Niagara red that doesn’t carry the greenness that sometimes distracts me from all the other stuff going on.I’m told that might be the 4 Mile Creek effect.

2011-cab-sauv-RED-bellaterra-smThe premium level for Pondview is their Bella Terra line. The 2011 Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon $35.15 is a full-bodied effort. Grapes were picked late in the harvest season (November 6th in this case), cold soaked and in barrel for 19 months. The benefit of not having LCBO volume accountabilities is being able to be patient and they were with this wine.This is a full-bodied ripe wine that proves the statement above that 4 Mile Creek wines are just that – ripe, full reds. But, and this is important, this wine has enough structure – it’s a river not a pool. Stands up doesn’t flop. Lovely cassis, maybe a touch of mint, and some smoky stuff from the wood. Lovely wine. Why pay $35 for a Niagara red? Because you can get this!

2011-BT-ChardAnother Bella Terra wine that I tried was the 2011 Bella Terra Chardonnay $25.25. If you know Arlene, you know that I can wander around tasting wine as long as I bring home some vanilla-y, buttery, full-bodied chardonnay. Arlene didn’t get the memo that oaky chardonnays aren’t fashionable any longer. And, I’m glad for that ’cause I love then too. Less importantly at our house, this wine won the 2013 Chardonnay du Monde bronze medal in France. Not too shabby. I loved the tropical notes both in the bowl and in the mouth – the typical green apple and that Dufton/Berday sought after butterscotch. Don’t read that this wine is cloying and too heavy; it’s not. It has a streak of acidity that sharpens the finish. This is a serious wine. A nice price point for a wine that would go great on the dinner table with creamy seafood dishes, roast chicken, or sour cream and onion potato chips – seriously, that’s a good pairing but probably more the coffee table.

I also tasted Pondview’s 2011 Riesling ($16.20), 2011 Chardonnay ($17.20 – I’d spring for the Bella Terra and I did), the 2010 Vidal Icewine ($25.05 – this was simply exquisite and for a guy that doesn’t like ’em sweet – beautiful! I’ll learn to love it sweet), and the 2010 Bella Terra Meritage ($40.15 – a toss up with the BT Cabernet as best wine). You can order wine from the winery by clicking on the link above. Or, if scrolling is too arduous, click here.

Overall impression is that Pondview has a winning approach to growing their business. I sensed patience and attention to detail. Patience as evidenced by their philosophy of harvesting and releasing wines. Attention to detail in their label art work (I know i already mentioned that mentioned that), the knowledge of their staff, and their reception centre. The art work is very cool – mentioned again.

If you’re in the neighbourhood, don’t just hum The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down as you fly through Virgil, wander down Line 2 (or is it Concession 2?) to Pondview. And, if you’re in London, attend the London Wine and Food Show the weekend of the 16 -18 this month and support Pondview as well as the other Ontario wine and craft beers folks. Yubba-dubba-do.

My New Year’s Resolution – To Get A Divorce

6 Jan

Sad but true comment on our ‘connected’ lives. I could go on but I see a text just came in……

The Mystery of Wine #MWWC6

5 Jan

wine-stain1-2Last summer, the Drunken Cyclist proposed a wine writing challenge where wine bloggers are to write a post on a pre-selected theme. This has gone on for the past six months with winners proposing the next theme. I’ve participated when inspired and able to fit it in to my busy schedule (he says in all seriousness, while still in his housecoat at noon). This month the theme is Mystery. The entrants in this month’s challenge can be read by clicking here . My previous entries were light hearted with little attempt at seriousness. If you must, they can be found by clicking on Theme Posts on the right hand banner.This month, I decided to get a little more serious about the theme and its link to wine. I think that I’ve struck the right balance and am a possible contender to win the monthly prize. Will someone remind me what that is again? Nothing really beside satisfaction, pride, and the responsibility for next month’s theme, you say? Crap!

mysteryThe Mystery of Wine

Mystery. I love a mystery. The kind that you read in bed at the cottage – fun mysteries that you can’t put down until you turn the last page at 3:00 am, your wife sound asleep beside you. Smyla’s Sense of Snow, Agatha Christie, The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Canoe Lake, ‘W’ is For Wino – those kind of mysteries – the ones that you solve.

Now wine; it’s a serious mystery. I mean, how do the juice, skins, and seeds of grapes become a beverage that’s consumed worldwide at a clip of 25 billion liters annually? I know that my pursuit of wine knowledge should include a better understanding of how this all occurs. But, I like it the way it is. I’m ignorant of most of the deep details. Knowing not the proper brix level at which to pick your pinot grapes doesn’t worry me much. Brix? The very best material of which to build a house, right? But I do have one burning mystery that I want to solve about wine: how did the first person to drink wine know to drink it and the follow up mystery, how did they know what to do to create the next drink? That’s two mysteries, I realize.

After careful research, years of examining paleontological remains (and, excuse me, AD, if that’s not the proper Age), here’s the way I see it until proven otherwise. Picture a knuckle dragging cave man stopped by a fence row (wait, no fences yet). OK, stopped by a pile of vines and stooping to pick up some grapes. Trundling home with a reusable bag (Neanderthals were green, you ask? Uh, yeah, the first to go off-grid) of grapes to show his little Neanderthal wife and children. They proceed to eat most of them but leave a bunch in the primitive bowl on the coffee boulder. Fact: both bowl and coffee boulder artifacts will be discovered millennia later by the Joukowski Institute for Archaeology (shameless plug). After a few weeks, the lady of the cave decides that she must clean up what remains of those formerly tasty grapes which are decaying now and as she proceeds to upend the bowl in the composter, she stops as she notices a pool of moisture in the bottom of the bowl. And, since her IQ is nestled around freezing temperature, Fahrenheit, she thinks, “Why not drink it?” WHY NOT? Let’s pause for a moment. If your child stumbled upon something rotten and leeching moisture, would you: a) suggest she just give it a sip to see what its like? Or, b) yell, “Do not put that in your mouth”? But, without the benefit of current public hygiene sensitivities, lady cave woman downed the juice and became the first sad, depressed housewife to drink mid-afternoon.

cavewomanOK, fine so far. That is most likely the answer to the first mystery. Sort of like the first oyster eater, drinking wine the first time was an accident where opportunity met stupidity. But isn’t wine an acquired taste? Wouldn’t she have had to drink a bunch, vomit in her BFF’s cave toilet, wake up the next day and do it all over again to bother letting grapes rot in her bowl by choice? I know that most of us gained our appreciation of wine in a similar manner.

So, why let your grapes rot and drink the juice again? Weren’t grapes of more value to cave persons when they’re fresh and real food, not paired with woolly mammoth as beverage alcohol? BTW, Northern Rhone syrah really marries with the gaminess here.

So, here’s what I think. Lady Neanderthal noticed that the rotten grape juice helped her open up in her Kave Klatch that afternoon. She noticed she got a warm, cozy feeling when her husband showed her his wooden club under the bed skins, wink, wink. She just relaxed and stopped worrying about the little things – staying away from the saber-toothed tiger, finding a spot in daycare for her twins Ugh and Jared. Perhaps like wine aficionados centuries later, she also couldn’t escape the sensation that the rotten grape juice reflected the region they lived in. It smelled of the garrigue and the lavender around their cave – spoke to her of the people and their land. But mostly, she found out later, it provided an endless stream of wine-code chatter between her and the growing number of her Neanderthal friends that enjoyed rotten grape juice too. Why, she’s just like us!

However, the second mystery: how did they know how to repeat and repeat it right? Rot the grape at the right moment? Use malolactic fermentation, or not? Oak or stainless steel? Twist or cork? Actually, I’ve re-thought this and I don’t care. I don’t need to solve that. I’ll leave that to those really serious about wine. For now, it’s time to pop a cork and simply enjoy the beverage I don’t fully understand. I love a mystery. I love wine.

NY’s Resolutions and the Red Daily Slosh

3 Jan

I always flirt with New Year’s Resolutions. They most frequently deal unsuccessfully with moderation, exercise, and propriety. This year, I decided to stick to wine:

montesshelftalker#1 NY’s Resolution – No More Reading Shelf Talkers. Shelf talkers are those little tags that hang in the liquor store in front of wines with the score and maybe a description of the wine made by an accomplished wine critic. Wait a minute I’ve never seen my scores! Second wait a minute – I don’t provide scores. What I mean is: when I’m on a mission, I do not want to be subverted by the shameless marketing of unknown people. I hate it when that happens (all too frequently). I get that scores provide some way of distinguishing wines and ascertaining value. But, I’m not buying it anymore. I love all wine and I want to feel like I can just pick a bottle without fear of ‘making a mistake’. To hell with Mr. Parker and the lot – I’ll decide what wine is worthy of my cash all by myself, TYVM.  I mean, how can you make a mistake with wine? More on the obvious answer to that question in a later ramble.

#2 NY’s Resolution – Go For The Unusual. Now if you know my personal life, you’ll realize that this is not as sexy as it sounds. I’m not suggesting handcuffs, nyotaimori (and, if you know what that is without Googling, let’s talk), or whips. More, I’m thinking that I should try a broader range of wines. If I was ambitious, I’d try the Wine Century Club – but, to quote Groucho Marx, “I would never be a member of any club that would have me as a member”. So, it’s going to have to be searching out and drinking wines that I haven’t tried before. Where or where would I learn about these wines? Well, I follow many weird and adventurous wine bloggers and I know that they’ll help me.

#3 NY’s Resolution – Drink The Good Stuff. OK, if you’ve been following this informative blog, you’ll know that I’ve rambled on this a number of times. But, this time, I’m serious. I will open all my ’99 Chateau de Beaucastel. Well, baby steps – maybe some Cotes du Rhone?

That’s it! Pretty easy to follow – no weight targets, no difficult exercises, no need to practice my pathetic golf game (just a tweak with my pre-shot routine, I’m thinking?).

cosumanoNow on to the wine.

In life, you discover that you’ve been missing stuff. It always happens when you stumble on something that you didn’t know was so bloody good. Remember that time in the back seat – a revelation, right? Well, in wine, my revelation has been Sicilian wines. I came to it late in life. I have never been to Sicily but everyone I know that’s been there is effusive in their praise. The wine, the people, the land, the wine, the food. Then, there’s the wine. So, when I saw that there was one of my favourite Sicilian wines released this weekend, I had to recommend it. I enjoyed the 2010 Cosumano Noà #109512 $19.95 this fall – well, officially last fall. It is made with Nero d’Avola, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a very aromatic, substantial wine. It has a nice tannic edge and is dark in the fruit department. Absolutely not speaking from experience here but I don’t think you can just swill this. OK, you saw through that and I definitely am speaking from experience – I did just swill it and it was great but would have been better with food –  something acidic, tomatoey, sausagey. Love it! I can’t wait to travel to Sicily.

guilty menI realize that I have been neglect in recommending Ontario wines. I’m going to right that wrong starting today. In that vein, and because I love it for what it is, I’m saying get thee to the 2011 Malivoire Guilty Men #186247 $19.95. This is a cabernet/merlot blend made by one of the more consistent wineries in Niagara. It’s a drinkin’ wine. I should correct that as all wines are for drinkin’. What I mean is that this red is medium bodied, made for enjoying now, often, and on almost any occasion like all guilty men. You don’t need to fuss with food – would go well with any typical red wine fare. Just pop, correction – twist, and pour this refreshing red. Great idea for host(ess) gift or for a crowd. Get a case.

clifford bayI’ve been on a bit of a New Zealand Pinot Noir kick lately – Mount Riley (yum and reasonably priced), Sacred Hill (oops all gone), Amisfield (très yum and not so cheap), and just last week Quartz Reef (mega yum and priced accordingly). So, I had to try just one more – 2011 Clifford Bay Pinot Noir #309500 $19.95. I could tell you how it represents Marlborough pinot but I would have to know what Marlborough pinot typically carries. I don’t but will find out in good time. But, this is a nice example of how I like pinot – lean, powerful, and a bit earthy. I don’t usually let pinot breathe much but this needs a bit of air to settle the acidity down, if that makes sense. I guess I mean that the second sip is better than the first. Red fruits, some stoney stuff, and just enough bite. Lovely.

riscalI attended a Secret Santa this year. I lucked out and got a lovely bottle of Spanish Rioja 2008 Marques de Riscal Reserva #32656 $22.55. I have to say that this is as smooth and satisfying a Rioja as you’ll find for this price – spicey, cedary, and chocolaty. Beautiful stuff. If you love Rioja in an old-fashioned style, this is for you. I’m feeling that the description above isn’t effusive enough. How about “this is good sh*t!”

I am on my way to Providence next week. So, if anyone has recommendations for wine shops and restaurants, please let me know.

 

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