Archive | February, 2015

Smokey and The Red Daily Slosh

19 Feb

Born this day in 1940 – Smoky Robinson.

The February 21st release is trumpeting the 2012 vintage in Australia – “The Best Vintage in 20 Years”, they say. The thing is that just because the vintage is a good one generally, there are a lot of other factors that also determine the quality of a wine. What’s a poor soul to do with this information? Just drink the Kool-Aid and buy up a bunch of 2012 Aussie wine? Or, tramp the back roads of unpronounceable Australian regions, speaking with winemakers, tasting each and every wine to find that one $18 beaut for dinner with the in-laws? Actually sounds like fun. But, no, we don’t have to do that.

My strategy is to think back to wines that I’ve loved from the region and seek them out in that ‘vintage of the century’. Why not stick with what you love? Plus, you can actually taste the difference that vintage makes – apples to apples, year after year.

I have to say that I’m disappointed that the mother ship didn’t include some Coonawarra cab in the release as some of those are my Aussie Montelenas. Oh well, something to look forward to.

stonedwellersI have only tasted one of the featured Australian wines. Good news? The one I had was a very positive experience. The 2012 Fowle’s Stone Dweller’s Shiraz #265967 $19.95 is a regular fixture on the shelves in most vintages. Or so it seems. This is a typical Aussie Shiraz weight-wise – full-bodied and expressive. Big but not braggy – balanced for it’s size. I have to say that the thing I like best about Aussie Shiraz is the unabashed spiciness. This one carries the peppery stuff I love – can even detect a bunch on the nose. On the finish – all spice, fruit, and nice. Highly recommended.

New Zealand makes more reds than just Pinot Noir. I picked up a Sileni Hawk’s Bay Merlot the other day as it was being discontinued – a reasonable representation of Merlot but a bit thin. cjpaskThis week, there’s a red blend that I think deserves a buy recommendation – the 2010 CJ Pask Gimlett Road Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec #279869 $19.95. This is a well balanced mid-weight red. I see this as a food wine but also a good stand around red. Use of the Malbec seems to ramp up the weight and colour. Where the Sileni was a bit washed out, this is fuller and weightier. Nice wine.

I’ve heard people say, “I can’t afford to drink French wine”. Aside from the generalization of French wines as all the same, it’s just plain bullshit. I say, “You can’t afford not to drink French wines.” French, Italian, German, and Spanish wine is what wine was meant to be. That doesn’t mean New World doesn’t make great wine. It just means for me that there’s something comforting in a French, Spanish or Italian wine, if it’s made well. I plead guilty to not drinking enough German wines. This week, the 2013 Domaine de la Madone Perréon Beaujolais-Villages #981175 $14.95 proves that French wine doesn’t have to be at least $30 to be good. This is a solid, incredibly easy-drinking, true-to-varietal wine. Everyone should drink Beaujolais. It’s purity of fruit, as in this example, is a refreshing break from the over-oaked, tricked up wines that we all secretly love. A confessional aside: tricked up wines remind me of guilty pleasure music. You can tell everyone that you don’t like ABBA (I don’t) but when Dancing Queen comes on the radio and you’re alone in the car, admit it, you’re conflicted – turn the channel and maintain your cred or just give in, smile, and sing along. It’s like Paul or John. It’s all good, really. Back to the Beaujolais – this wine isn’t quite as simple as I’ve portrayed the regional style. Although this is light-bodied and easy-going, it has a nice vein of acidity and enough tannin folded in to tell you that it would like some food. Think of sitting outside (in your down-filled parka?) in the sun with some mid-day stuff to eat. Maybe some salty olives and seafood. Oh yeah, and bread – lots of bread. Perfect wine for that. Great value. You can’t afford not to drink this French wine!

On the same theme, French wine that is, the 2011 Gerard Bertrand Saint-Chinian Syrah/Mourvedre #370247 $18.95 is a big, lip-smacking red beauty. Do I have a blind spot? Yup, well made red blends from the South of France. Let me put it this way (cue George Winston):

I swirl, sniff – sun-baked schist and lavender explode


I sip – I am warmed under a duvet of red fruit, tangled underbrush, and stone


Straining against the urge to stir and re-fill my glass

I sit back and smile


gerardbscDuff does poetry? Of course, I’m not just a pretty face. This wine? Well, it delivers on that verse. Scents of big red fruit, anise, repeating in the mouth with lip-smackingness, wrapped up with a nice medium long finish. Good heft, full-bodied food wine. Perfect with some grilled stuff. Luv this! Gerard Bertrand is a cool guy with a great winery base, Château L’Hospitalet – that doubles as wine tourism – accommodations, food, jazz festival. Keep a look out for his labels.



Snowma-oops, The Red Daily Slosh

3 Feb

This day in 1959 – The Day That Music Died.

Apparently the weather media, in an attempt to be relevant, overshot the historic-ness of the recent snow storm. I was a little disappointed. I’d picked the wine I was drinking in front of the fire and the binge television that I was going to watch. Most people now just turn on the phone and check the weather. No waiting up for,”Weather at 11.” We already know. This time they out did each other on the magnitude of the storm. I had a saying with my kids that seems to fit the occasion, “I’ve told you a million times to stop exaggerating.”

The February 7th release features wines that use native Italian grapes – Sangiovese, Aglianico, Primitivo, Falanghina, Negoramaro, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, et al. It’s a nice selection if you wanted to explore wines with a different origin, different grapes but all still feeling like they should be wrapped in a wicker basket – still bearing Il Tricolore in their heart. I’m not sure what the connecting common quality, sense, or value of the wines is but they are all unmistakably Italian. Love ‘em. But of course, I love ’em in moderation.

cappellaccioThe Cappellaccio label made it’s first appearance on these pages way back when I started. That was the 2005 vintage, then I pimped the 2006 too. Well, the 2007 Rivera Cappellaccio Riserva Aglianico #305276 $17.95 hits shelves this weekend. I love the Aglianico wines of Southern Italy – Campania (Taurasi), Basilicata, and Puglia. For me Aglianco seems to need time in bottle to settle down. Young, it can be overly tannic, thick feeling, and unbalanced. But, after some choir practice in bottle, the parts kind of get together and cooperate – harmony. Tannins take a back seat to the dark, tarry fruit. The 2007 Cappellaccio from Puglia is just such a wine – dense dark fruits on the swish and swallow – long finish. This has a lot of stuff going on. You people out there that take notes know that sometimes you just haven’t got a lot to say? You really have to try hard to pick out scents and flavours. “On the nose – wine aromas. The attack is subtle – wine coming through on the mid-palate.” As a contrast, this wine’s notes are full of descriptors – wood, dark fruits, smokiness, chocolate. Say it out loud and you’ll probably experience it. Weird that. Complex. Although it’s already 7 years old, it’s just now coming into focus. That should intrigue. Buy two, open one this weekend, let it breathe, savour with pasta and meaty tomato sauce (bottled is acceptable).  Save the other for a couple more years down the road. Highly recommended. And folks I’ve just talked myself into pasta with bottled tomato sauce (salt lick?) tonight. Is that lazy? Ah……yeah. Unambitious? Definitely. Smart? Yup.

mocalimdsAnyone who has been to Italy has probably sat at an outdoor cafe, eaten a freshly prepared simple pizza, and people watched for an hour or more. Made up interesting stories about people you see sitting together – she’s cheating on her husband, he’s her boss, they’re arguing about what to do about the unplanned pregnancy. No? Come on, it’s one of the best things to do IMHO. And, if you’ve ordered a red wine with that pie? Well, you can recreate that feeling with the 2012 Mocali Morellino di Scansano #317115 $16.95. An underrated wine, Morellino. Made from at least 85% Sangiovese (many 100%), the wines come from Tuscany, nearish to Grosseto. Morellino is usually fresh cherry good and food friendly, tangy. This one comes from a trusted producer, Mocali – trust their Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino. In the swirl, I get dark cherries, smells of the vineyard – earthy, woodiness. Morellino DOC doesn’t require oak aging (the Riserva requires at least one year of two total aging in wood barrel) but in the finish, there’s a woody thing going on which makes me think that they did use oak – lending some depth. There’s a fresh lipsmacking quality on the finish. It will remind you of that time on the piazza. Maybe they were breaking up?

montefinoAbout a year ago, I made a resolution to drink more wines from Portugal. As with most resolutions I make, I started in hard and heavy with reading, drinking, and writing about Portuguese wine. What happened? I got a bit distracted with all other things wine and was diverted from the goal. Sound familiar to anyone out there in wineland? I admittedly did not drink that many Portuguese wines over the past year. The last time I trumpeted a wine from Portugal, it was the 2005 Montefino Tinto Reserva #165159 $17.95. My write up? “Now, this wine has enough sediment in it to scare some off. Don’t be, just decant for that purpose alone. The wine doesn’t need a decant to settle or anything but you don’t want to choke on whatever has broken down and been accumulating over the last 8 years. How do I know? Let’s leave that for another time. The wine is medium to full bodied but has a hard to describe lightness to it that was my first impression (after the sediment, that is) that’s a great attribute – fresh and easy drinkin’. It’s well balanced and those that find some of my recommendations too ‘heavy’ won’t find this one that way. The label says, “This fresh and aromatic wine, consumed in moderation, exists to bring pleasure to those that drink it.” Well said. I felt warm all over and inclined to be not so – moderate, that is. It’s a potential case lot for sure but there are limited quantities out there.” Well it’s back! This wine should still be fresh and balanced. Just watch the sediment. Actually, I use the ‘wine guy gift’ filter that someone kindly gave me a few years ago. Thank you to whomever gifted it. Works great and you can concentrate on the wine alone.

lapostapvmIt’s been awhile since I recommended a Malbec. This week, there’s an entry from a dependable producer, La Posta. The 2013 La Posta Pizzella Vineyard Malbec #166298 $16.95 is a Malbec that harkens back, for me, to my first Malbec experiences – substantial, assertive and pretty big. No trickiness with oak or flavouring – just pure fruit. A definitive clovey or peppery bite on the finish. Great wine for a meat that’s burnt, fatty, and rare. They have a new label too. Has a real Spanish feel to it.

A wine that I’m going to pick up untasted:

balbas2005 Balbas Reserva #085183 $21.95 – the last time I saw this label it was the 2001 and the mother ship seemed to have an endless supply. It kept repeating and repeating and I kept buying and buying. My review here. This is a much newer wine and, I’m getting it with the totally unattainable goal of holding it for a few more years. If you’ve said to yourself, “I’d like to start or replenish a cellar.” This is a perfect wine. Lovely, lovely – food, sipping, or guzzling. If your tastes trend to Rioja lover (this is from Ribera del Duero but still Temprtanillo) this is for you. Another candidate to buy a couple or more, open one – let it breathe and save the rest for later. I think that I’ve just talked myself into it. I love it when that happens.

For those new to the site, you can check a wine’s availability at the LCBO by clicking on the link (underlined SKU and price) and dropping down the city menu.


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