Fishes, Loaves and The Red Daily Slosh

28 Aug

My favourite blues singer (Beth Hart) and one of the all time great guitarists (Jeff Beck) celebrating the great Buddy Guy. Rocking a classic. Pair with the Carmenere below. Hang in for the encore – Sweet Home Chicago. It’s pretty cool.

This release (August 30) features wines scoring 90 points or more as awarded by wine reviewers. In wineland, there used to be controversy over scoring wines regardless of the system used. But now it seems that most wine writers use some system of grading wines – numerical scores, stars, wine glasses (bicchierres). I don’t like it as I get distracted by it. Here’s the thing. Sure everyone wants to know what the ‘pros’ think of a wine if they are considering buying it. But, when I hear that someone bought a $16.95 wine because it received a 90, and “$16.95 for a 90 is great value”, it makes me crazy. And, can we talk? There seem to be fewer and fewer wines that score poorly; making good scores pretty common place. Shelf talking scores in front of wines make good marketing; not necessarily good purchases. If you’ve followed me, you’ll know that I’ve stayed away from comparative scores. Why? Well, confession? I don’t have a great palate, my notes are cryptic, I’m lazy, I don’t want to be held that accountable, and I was a math major and I still can’t tell an 89 from a 90. Wait, I do know the difference between an 89 and a 90 – it’s one less. On the other hand, absolute scores may give you confidence and a reference point. So, if it helps you to use scores to better advise your purchases, knock yourself out. But, I’d think just talking to folks you trust, reading the write ups (while ignoring the scoring) that are available on the net or in the press, and maybe even asking my friend, Ken, at the LCBO would be a better use of your time. Or, I could revert to my fish and loaves scoring model. Over time you’d get the hang of what 4 fishes really means. It means it’s pretty good and one more fish than 3!

santacarolinaI recently spent time with my archaeologist son and some of his colleagues. One of his friends mentioned that she had picked up a Carmenère that I had recommended and found her new best friend – Carmenère. She said that she had subsequently asked at the wine store (Bottles in Providence, RI) about available Carmenère and had tried and enjoyed several different labels. What this means in archaeology-speak is that she subsequently drained the local wine store of every bottle of Carmenère. Why? Twenty-four hour-a-day fixation on fragments of pottery and weird details of early human civilization can do that to a person. It creates a feeling of insignificance in the vast historical universe. And leads to habitual alcohol consumption – not a criticism, just an observation. I also have a friend that drinks a lot of wine, but denies it. He said that he loves the Montes Purple Angel – a Carmenère-based wine. What’s going on with all the Carmenère love? Well, it’s good juice as my co-blogger, Conrad of the Wine Wankers would say. This week, one of our staple Carmenères hits the shelves. 2010 Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Carmenère #034942 $18.95 is a pretty solid example of what Carmenère brings. And, that is? Well, for me it means full-bodied, full-flavoured, deeply coloured wine. The Santa Carolina is full-bodied with a big complex nose – fruit, spice and oak in the mouth with an interesting finish that’s long enough to resemble a biggish California Cabernet. In fact, if that’s your ‘go to’ wine, Cali Cab Sav that is, the Santa Carolina will be a perfect change of grape for you.

doglianiI have yet to be disappointed by Dolcetto di Dogliani wines. There’s a country-ness to the Dolcettos from the Dogliani DOC. Lip-smacking good – not heavy. Secret? Once I’ve hooked someone on Euro wine through Beaujolais. I move them on to Dolcetto. In a year or two, they’re pounding on my door at 2 in the morning begging for some Brunello. Yup, that’s how this wine thing works. Dolcettos are a fun wine but, like Beaujolais, not to be dismissed for that but rather celebrated. The 2011 Cantina del Dolcetto di Dogliani Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore #378547 $19.95 is a pretty serious Dolcetto for Dolcetto. Loads of things going on in the glass and the mouth. Enough that my tasting notes had entries crossed out with numerous notations and additions – not that easy to land on the usual terms. And, I have to say that this type of depth and complexity ain’t what I expected. This is a beautiful wine! Balanced, acidity not as front and centre as usual for this DOC, enough tannin to hold up to some fatty meaty dinner, or cellar. Go ahead and spring for this perfect-for-the-end-of-summer wine. And, one of the more elegant labels that I’ve seen lately.

rosewoodpinotSince I’ve already dissed my palate, I might as well give full disclosure. When I started to try and describe what I was experiencing with wine, I noticed some wineness on the nose and notes of wine on the palate and the finish. Then I graduated to all red wines having a definite cherry aroma and flavour hiding in there somewhere. I’ve been able to expand my repertoire quite a bit from those days but I’m always suspicious when I circle ‘cherry’. Is it that I’m just back-sliding? Am I not trying hard enough? Well, when I tasted the 2012 Rosewood Select Series Pinot Noir #112177 $21.95, I circled cherry and then had that self-doubt. But on careful reflection, I’m pretty confident that cherry is the dominant fruit in this wine. It has some wood notes and packs the acidity that pinots seem to bring from this region. Good food wine. I like what Rosewood does with their wines – they get out of the way and let it happen. This would be a great host/hostess wine or accompaniment with something smoky. Note: Image above is not the ‘Select Series’ (I couldn’t find it) but it provides an idea of what the Rosewood label will look like.

Wine that I am going to pick up untried in this vintage:

treOK, there are great mid-priced wines and there are spectacular mid-priced wines. Brancaia Tre has been one of those (spectacular, that is) over the years of this blog. I’ve enthusiastically recommended the 2009 and 2010. And received many thanks from those that picked one or two up based on the recommendation. Well, along comes the 2011 iteration of this label. The 2011 Brancaia Tre #164715 $23.95 comes with loads of critical praise and high scores but remember what I said above – I get distracted by the scores and prefer to focus on great producers, solid vintages, and past experience with the style. This one is fool-proof on that basis. Great producer, past examples exceptional, vintage good to great. This wine should either sit for a few years or get some air, if other vintages are any indication.

I’m off to Niagara this weekend. Visiting wineries and gathering stories. Stay tuned.

Image Credits:

Brancaia Tre –

Rosewood Pinot Noir –

Cantina del Dogliani –

Santa Carolina Carmenere –




One Response to “Fishes, Loaves and The Red Daily Slosh”


  1. Peace, It’s Far Out* – The Red Daily Slosh | Duff's Wines - September 24, 2014

    […] you’ll appreciate. Stand around is allowed but food would really help this wine shine. I posted my theory of carmenère and archaeologists in a previous […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: