Archive | February, 2014

The Average White Daily Slosh – Finally

27 Feb

This is for the March 1 release.

What’s been going on with the White Daily Slosh? It’s been non-existent and my white drinkers are rattling my cage to try and get me motivated to talk about white wines. I haven’t had that many whites lately but I think the proper excuse is the weather.

I’ve finally reached the point where I’ve HAD IT! Not with wine, a little with our monopoly, but it’s this winter. I don’t need some almanac wannabe to tell me that this is the worst winter of 2013-2014. It has been terrible. I’ve seen similar sentiments from The Winegetter who is stranded in Michigan. A winter like this brings a certain challenge to this wino. Correction: oenophile and wine blogger (wingger?)

Although there are many white wines that perform in colder weather, winter for me is a mostly red season. Substantial, warming reds. In my basement (it’s really not a wine cellar), I have only so many everyday winter reds that I feel that I can open, well, everyday. This doesn’t seem like much of a problem to others. I mean, “get over it, Bill.” But, think about poor Bill pondering his wine selection for the evening and realizing that he doesn’t have any more (well, maybe just a couple?) everyday Cotes du Rhone, Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel, Italian chewies, or reasonably priced Bordeaux that he could bring himself to open. It’s almost criminal. Violation of Sec 234 sub.1 (Failing to provide for the necessities of life). See, what’s happened to me is that I haven’t kept pace – my drinking is outstripping my everyday stock. And, before you say anything, I do realize that there is a simple answer, thank you very much. But, I’ve got better-keep-for-a-special-day ones and summery stuff and it just might have to be OTBN every week for the rest of the winter. It’s a high class problem, I realize, but here’s the other complication – Arlene doesn’t drink red wine. Gasp, I know it’s unthinkable but true. So, not only OTBN but FTBN (Finish That Bottle Night). I’ve got a vacuum thingie but I’m not a quitter, you see. Long winters suck.

But, I do have a few White Daily Sloshes recos.

giesenWe went out with friends last weekend for Indian food – Rogan Josh, King Prawn Tikka (also the name of an Indian rapper – actually Rogan Josh might be a good rapper name too). We ended up having a sauvignon blanc (Oyster Bay) which, although not textbook pairing, went pretty well actually – enough pluck to deal with the strong flavours. I like the vibrant and racy nature of Kiwi SB. This week there’s a great example 2012 Giesen ‘The Brothers’ Sauvignon Blanc #247213 $19.95. It’s a little more reserved than, say the Oyster Bay, but I kind of like that. The review suggests a great match with asparagus. But, let’s think about this for a minute. Who the hell just eats asparagus? I’ve never thought of asparagus as an entrée, a meal. I guess you could have an asparagus course. On second thought, you couldn’t have that either. I’d think that maybe this would go with some spicy seafood, veggie appetizers, cold asparagus spears?, even something with a kick, like pakoras. It’s fresh and grassy with that lovely SB acidity and excitement. I’d love to hear from you all as to your best match with Indian foods. Kingfisher beer, although probably right, is not a qualifying answer – this is a wine blog.

marquisIf it’s chardonnay you’re looking for, and I think of it as a winter wine, kind of, there are a couple choices – the 2011 G. Marquis Silver Line Chardonnay #258681 $17.95. I’ve recommended this wine before. Can’t find the post but in the last few months. This has a real nice balance to it. It has some of the creaminess that an oaked chardonnay should have but it doesn’t present as heavy or thick. It has a tree fruit note on the swirl and that continues in the mouth. There’s some stoniness or flint, almost as if it’s unoaked, on the finish that’s quite refreshing.

bellenechardonnayThe other chardonnay is from the home of chardonnay – Burgundy. This is a producer that I’ve come to rely on for my meagre collection of Burgundy. You see, Burgundy is a study all onto itself. I’ve tried and I’m still learning. So, the easiest thing to do is pick a few producers whose approach and style you like and stick to it until you’re better equipped knowledge-wise to wander around a bit. Nicholas Potel used to have his own eponymous label but has since changed to Maison Roche de Bellene. It took me awhile to catch on to the name change and then I’ve kept an eye out for their stuff. If you’re just starting to wade into Burgundy try the Roche. The 2011 Maison Roche de Bellene Vieilles Vignes Bourgogne Chardonnay #299867 $18.95 is a very well priced chardonnay. It isn’t one of those roundish, oaky efforts. Not even that creamy – rather strict and sticking to the script of elegance rather than power. I like it a lot. It has some of the typical apple notes in the mouth with a nice, medium finish. You would think that the Burgundy would have the stoniness on the finish but not so much. Great food wine – white meat, fish, pork roast with apples, and asparagus.

And, pick up the pieces!

The King and Others – The Red Daily Slosh

21 Feb

elvis1These recommendations are for the March 1 release.

This week’s release features cabernet sauvignon – although you’ll see I’m not playin’. In the LCBO brochure and probably in point of sale signage, they call it “The King”. There have been many kings – The King of Pop (MJ); the King of Rock and Roll (EP); the King of Soul (JB – Godfather, really); the King of Siam (YB); the King of Swing (BG), among others. Many might agree that cabernet sauvignon is their red wine King due, in my addled mind, in this market, to California’s dominance and it’s ability to make great cabs at a reasonable price and better cabs at an astronomical price. But, I take issue with the coronation. I would have to upset our friend Miles from Sideways when I say that I think either merlot (largest number of acres under vine in the world, Right Bank beauties, blending dominant, and a very under-appreciated grape) or nebbiolo (as nicknamed ‘the King of Wine’, I believe, for years and producing unique special wines like Barolo) hold that spot. Not to say that I don’t love cabernet, just sayin’ that there is a debate. See poll below and participate to resolve this age old debate. And, don’t ask why I haven’t recommended any of the featured cabs. But it could be the inflated prices.

On to the wine.

rockwaycmIf you play golf and have ventured to Niagara, you might have strayed away from the bigger name courses to play 18 at Rockway Glen. It’s a golf course with a winery and reception centre. Or, alternatively, a winery with an 18 hole golf course. Anyone who has golfed with me will tell you that I am an extremely modest, spectacularly skilled golfer who very, very quietly goes about his business on the course. But, I don’t write a golf blog. I write a wine blog. So, it’s the wine I want to talk about. I tasted the 2011 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Cabernet Merlot #370346 $15.95 at the winery and we all know that that’s the best place to taste. I was impressed with the freshness of this wine – perhaps the blend. It’s medium-bodied with more cab fruit on the nose (blackberry, cassis) and some woody nuances joining them in the mouth – medium finish. It’s a fun wine which shouldn’t be a drawback but a plus. Wine is supposed to be fun and easy to drink too much of. So, take your sticks to Niagara and after the frustration of a golf game, get a buzz on at the winery. Responsibly, of course.

villamoraAs I wandered the aisles of my local the other day, I checked out the reds from the under appreciated regions of Italy (usually I’m looking for a cheap robust, gutsy wine) and found 2006 Villa Mora Montefalco Rosso Riserva #357079 $19.95. This wine is from Umbria and has sangiovese, sagrantino, merlot, cabernet in the blend. It reminds me of a wine from the Languedoc, style-wise – very full and dense with aromas of brush, dark and dried fruit. Can’t quite find the sangiovese. Plummy, somewhat gamey and pretty balanced in the mouth after 7 years in the bottle. Fairly elevated alcohol (15.5% ABV) but no burn. Tannins integrated and maybe a bit too mild for me but a lovely, lovely wine. It’s not everywhere so run don’t walk. I will keep an eye out for more Umbrian wines after this reminder of their value and style.

sopheniaIt’s been a few months since I recommended an Argentinean wine. If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll know that I was a bit of a malbec groupie last year. And so were many of you, if your nodding heads are any indication. I think it was the Susana Balbo influence. If you asked me then what wine babe I’d like to meet. I’d have said Susana. Love her malbec, cabernet and torrontes. Lately, however, I’ve been drifting north. Not sure why. And, I’m, not seeing anyone else. It’s just that she hasn’t returned my calls and stalker emails. This week 2011 Finca Sophenia Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon #350090 $17.00 comes to us from Mendoza, a region which does grow cab as well as their famed malbec. It has a pretty full nose of spice and raspberries – a sandalwood mouth thing going on. OK, that didn’t sound quite wine connoisseurry enough. How about, it has a hint of sandalwood on the palate? It’s a nice fruity cab that you would love if you’re partial to stand-up-straight cabs – reminds me (maybe erroneously and without running to other tasting notes) of a Western Australian cabernet.

olarraYes, Spanish wine rocks. I’ve mentioned a lot of wines on these pages and I’ve …..mentioned ……a lot …..of …..wines on these pages. And Spanish wines are some of the wines that I have mentioned. I mean a lot of Spanish wines. I love them! So, if you do too, there’s a Rioja Reserva, the 2006 Bodegas Olarra Añares Reserva #244723 $19.95 coming to a store near you. This wine is mature – think Penelope Cruz in 10 years – yeah, that nice. Really nice. My tasting note says, “petrol” in the mouth. It’s penciled in – so I must have meant it. Red fruit that’s dried a bit almost prune on the nose and palate. But, this is truly of the soil – bringing you the smell, feel and warmth of Spain – deep and sophisticated. I have friends heading to do the pilgrimage through Spain next month – guys, pick up a bottle of this, enjoy with some charcuterie and you’ll be ready. Except for the physical conditioning that you’ll need.

I will take a peek at this one

dowieA friend of mine who is somewhere in Mali and writes a blog about it here, gave me a heads up on the Dowie Doole Shiraz that she feels is the best representation of that grape from Down Under, for her tastes. It appears every once in awhile but I haven’t pulled the trigger to buy any yet. This week there’s what I assume is an entry level Doole. Or is that an entry level Dowie? The 2010 Dowie Doole Second Nature Cabernet/Shiraz/Merlot #361329 $19.95. I think that if I ever want to keep this friend, I need to buy a bottle of this and let her know what I think. It sounds quite yummy, fruity, yet enough substance – not a pool but a river? If you get some, let me know what you think.

Background music please, video montage of vineyards and barrels, and Jim Nance’s voiceover – “I just want to say that I am having problems staying below $20 for the Daily Slosh. Our friends at the mother ship have upsold us over the last three years quite noticeably into the $20 – $30 range on wines that I really want and, in past vintages, used to feel were full value. My everyday wine is getting worse and I can’t bring myself to drink the good stuff except when goaded by friends and other bloggers. It’s a bitch.” So, sorry if the Daily Slosh is shifting a bit above your comfort level. My advice – pay the extra and save it for the weekend. You only drink on the weekend anyway, you say? Who are you, Saint Abstinence the Crazy? I will rant on this and other issues of the monopoly later this month.

Wine’s Genesis; The Root of the Vine

18 Feb

Shout out to the Joukouski Institute crew! Great little post on the origins of wine that varies greatly from my post on Mystery, I fear.

Past-Cuttings

One of the many joys of wine is that it is entirely self fulfilling. What do I mean by this? Mead is fermented honey, but no amount of honeycombs will translate itself to the finished product. Grapes on the other hand hold their own potential.

The wild yeasts strains which cling to the skin of a grape can, given time and heat, ferment the liquid within to create a kind of raw wine. It’s no surprise therefore, that some archaeologists believe wine production pre-dates nearly all other forms of agriculture! To the prehistoric mind this must have sun-shines-on-gnarly-vinesseemed like a God-send, if they had formed any notion of religion.

We need to go staggeringly far back to find the first evidence for wine production. Evidence for wild grapes can be found all across the north Levant in modern day Georgia, Armenia, Iran and north Turkey. The wild vine is a…

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valentine wine

13 Feb

Thought this very wine spin on Valentine’s day. Wish I’d thought of it. the only local wine that i think could join the list is Malivoire’s ‘Guilty Men’.

grapefriend

Cut the crap about if you’re single or head over heels – let’s get drinking. Here are wines for every possible stage of a relationship. Crack one open on Valentine’s Day and you’ll probably fall in love with one of them.

beginning stages

spin the bottle wine These two reds are of the sweeter variety, if that’s your thing. The cool part, though, is that the labels are made with a technology that lets the image move as you view it from different angles (ie, as you spin the bottle!). $15 each

mad crush red wine This is a great blend from Paso Robles – but they swap out Tempranillo for the usual Syrah, making the mix 65% Grenache, 21% Tempranillo and 14% Mourvedre. $45

Lust Zinfandel A little blackberry – sweet and very juicy, just like a good hook up. $59

you’re in love!

amoureux lasseter wine So-called because the winery family fell in love with Malbec while honeymooning in Sonoma…

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Front-On, Dude – The Red Daily Slosh

13 Feb

This is for the February 15 release.

barI read a bunch of bloggers (actually a ‘barrel’ of bloggers is the proper term when they write stuff about wine) that do a great job of educating readers on the world of wine. I’ve been at this ‘real’ blog thing for a year and a bit after three years of a newsletter, and the penny just dropped – I recommend wines, ramble about stuff, but it is frequently the same stuff nothing new or educational. I know this because I did a statistical analysis of my recommendations, collated the wine tasting terms used to describe these wines, and applied an algorithm to evaluate the variability of wines and their characteristics. These were further divided into quadrants that represented sixteen different experiences and price points. The graphic analysis is below. OK, I couldn’t copy the chart from my Excel worksheet. But if it was below you’d notice that I have never used the term unctuous.

cytcarmenereSo, let’s start the Red Daily Slosh with a repeat recommendation (that didn’t last long, did it?). Technically, it isn’t a true repeat because it was a different vintage before but…. Anyway, it’s the 2011 Concha y Toro Winemaker’s Lot 148 Carmenère #030957 $18.95. They say that this is an Ontario market-only bottling. Don’t get too excited because they just call it something else elsewhere, I’m betting. What’s carmenère? An opera whose title is the victim of a fat-fingered typist? No. Actually, it is a traditional Bordeaux grape that they don’t use much, if at all, anymore in Bordeaux blends. It migrated to Chile and other regions where it was thought to be merlot (Chile) or cabernet franc (Italy). Interestingly, the mistaken identity came to light when it appeared on an episode of Maury Povich (Who’s The Father of My Baby, Merlot?), had a DNA test, and found out it was, wait for it………………gasp, carmenère! It’s Chile’s answer to Argentina’s malbec in that it is arguably done best and definitely most frequently in Chile. Usually medium to full-bodied, dark, and yummy. Cheaper versions can be a bit sweet and creamy a la cheap malbec but good ones are chewy, edgy and great burnt meat wines. The Concha y Toro above is the latter – the full-bodied and yummy one. It’s syrah-like spicy, dense but some edge to make it feel less ‘heavy’ and has some bush on the nose and in the mouth – woodiness. Love it. Tannins are smoothing out nicely. I think that, if you’ve never had carmenère, this would be a great place to start. If you have had it, do it all over again with this wine from the most complete winery in Chile.

charvetI’d like Spring, please. Yes, it’s a bit of a bugger here with temperatures in the minus 20 Celsius range many days. And, what will we see on the shelves this weekend but a Beaujolais. Wait, isn’t Beaujolais a better warm weather red? Well, it can be but this is maybe more a shoulder season Beaujolais. More substantial and serious. The perfect wine as we wait out the shitty weather. The 2012 Domaine Gérard Charvet La Réserve d’Amélie Moulin-à-Vent #356741 $20.00 would be a bit expensive for a common Beaujolais. But, this one is worth the splurge, IMHO. This is strawberries and even some darker fruits on the sniff – pure and straight forward in the mouth but I don’t mean one-dimensional; rather purposeful – it sneaks up on you on the second swallow and the second glass is even better, duh. Make sure it isn’t too warm – basement temp is best. I’ve recommended a bunch of Beaujolais (mostly for Grant) and love the Cru Beaujolais. Moulin-a-Vent is my favourite. Hurray for Beaujolais! Spring can’t be too far away.

gamayAnd while we’re sipping on gamay why not try one of the better versions of this grape from Ontario. The 2012 Malivoire Gamay #591313 $17.95 is always good value but this year it is a bit deeper with darker fruit than usual. Not sure if they allowed the grapes to ripen more or it just worked out that way given the vintage. This would be a good gamay-off with the Beaujolais above. This one a bit lighter. Buy them both and re-familiarize yourself with the two faces of gamay. I really appreciate the consistency of Malivoire at all their price points. I had this at the cellar door and I encourage you, if you’re down that way to make Malivoire one of your stops.

foretThere’s a club that I’ve mentioned before called the Wine Century Club. It requires that you drink wines that represent 100 different grape varieties. This week there’s a grape that I haven’t knowingly had – negrette and I think it might be my first catalogued wine for WCC sainthood. The negrette grape is mostly found in southwestern France – this one is from AC Fronton (hence the title) 2010 Chateau Bellevue la Forét #354134 $13.95 . They say it’s “hearty old-school”, brambly, and goes with an Olivier salad. I think that they have confused me with someone who knows what an Oliver salad really is. We’ll see. Try one with me and we’ll compare notes.

That’s all that I have any positive perspective on for the weekend.

Music accompaniment – Last time I included a video of Cream and a friend wondered why I made the Eric Clapton reference in the lead up, because he didn’t recognize Eric in the video. Why not? He’s the old worn out crooner isn’t he? Nope, he’s like 18! So, I’ve included one this time of Cream and an iconic song, again – Eric is in the red. He’s not Eric The Red but wearing the red Sergeant Pepper knock off.

Barrel picture from wikipedia

#newwinethisweek week 5 – Torrontés, Argentina

4 Feb

This is a wine community thing where people (bloggers are people too, you know) drink a specific varietal or type of wine each week. This week it’s Torrontes from Argentina. Since I love Oh Susana Balbo, I’m popping the twist cap on her entry-level Crios. Play along at home if you want to experience some different wines.

Confessions of a Wine Geek

It’s week 5 of #newwinethisweek and we’re going for something a little bit different this week. I’m sure you’re all fans of Malbec (even if I’m not!) but there is a grape native to Argentina of which I am very fond… Introducing the wonderful Torrontés.

Image

Torrontés is a white grape variety that produces aromatic and fresh wines with wonderful fruity flavours of peach and apricot. It often has a soft floral note, which has caused many commentators to compare Torrontés to Viognier, current darling of the wine press. Torrontés is a grape with bags of personality and has the potential to be your new favourite white wine!

If you can, look for wines from Cafayate, in the foothill of the Andes; this is considered to be the best location for growing Torrontés, where the cool nights allow the grapes to retain their acidity and bright flavours.

Torrontés is a…

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