Archive | June, 2015

Rosés For The Dock 2015!

26 Jun

I spent far too long watching these “Playing For Change” renditions. What a cool concept.

I’ve discovered something. I like rosé. I guess it isn’t a shocking discovery. I am a wine agnostic. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m not picky. That would make me a wine slut. That’s something different entirely..

I came to this discovery the other night. I popped a cork on a pretty bottle of Côtes du Provence. You know, one of those bottles that’s all curvy and cool. It was a warm night. The kind of early evening humidity and pending storm that we experience here in Southern Ontario almost every summer evening it seems. And as I sat and sipped on the patio, I thought, “This stuff is good” (note: censoring in Italics).

Most importantly, the wine matched the moment, the mood, the feeling that I was trying to achieve. I know it can sound wine snobby when someone says that they’re matching wine with the mood, the place, the people. But listen, would you scoff at ‘comfort food’ as a snobby concept held only by foodies? No. We all get it. Some foods fulfill the role of comforting us. Well, some wines fill a need too; get used to it, it’s just true ’cause I read it on the internet – right here on this blog, BTW. The night in question, I needed some wine that recognized the sun from earlier in the day, the heat, and yet provided some amount of chill, too. Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, rosés. Like them a lot.

In an effort to provide helpful advice, I’ve been killing rosés over the past month. Here are some of my impressions of the ones that made the cut.

We were in Rhode Island last week and I picked up a rosé from one of my favourite wine stores in Providence (ENO – 225 Westminster Street) – 2013 Chateau de Trinquevedel Tavel. It’s a Kermit Lynch offering south of the border and that usually means good Rhone stuff. It’s a label that I’ve liked in past vintages and you’ve heard me wax on Tavels in general – I like ’em a lot. Well, this one surprised me. It was less expressive than I’m used to for Tavels. KInd of dumb, if that makes sense. It was more strawberry than darker fruits. A little disappointing despite past success of this label. I was looking for more substance – it just seemed flat. That leads me to believe that the moment wasn’t right (are you kidding? In my hotel room sitting on the side of the bed?) or I wasn’t really paying attention. Could be both, actually. When it arrives in our market, I’ll try it again and get back to you.

While we’re on Tavel, let me remind you of my review of the Famille Perrin Tavel here. I like that wine a lot. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it an A+.

carte noirAnother regular in our aisles this time of year is 2014 Carte Noir #319384 $17.95. I’ve reviewed this the past couple years at least. You can read the review of the 2011 and 2012 vintages here. This is a rosé from Côtes du Provence. There may be no other wine that best describes your experience of the place it comes from as clearly as a rosé from here. The bottle even says, “I’m cool, curvy just like Brigitte.” If you’ve sat at a café by the Mediterranean watching boats lazily rising and falling with the gentle sea, you know what this wine feels like. This is from Saint-Tropez, which conjures up images of fashion, Fiats, sunglasses, and the sun. It’s light, refreshing with cherries and a hint of herbs. Great summer wine – it’s going to the cottage next week. And, I managed to recommend this wine without a picture of Brigitte Bardot. But, I do still love her. Just checked her birth date. SHE’S 81! So, I’ve decided that I don’t really still love her in the same way that I used to and adjusted my fantasies significantly.

citraIn my research, I bought a rosé that I’d never tried before. The wine – 2014 Citra Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo #404541 $8.45 – yes it’s $8.45 and perhaps is the lowest priced wine to grace these pages. Having never had a rosé from Abruzzo, I did a little research. This wine is made in the Cerasuolo, a fairly new DOC in Central Italy. The red wines from here carry a lighter colour than their Montepulciano grape cousins – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. I can’t find a single thing about the rosés. I’m assuming they are made from the Montepulciano grape as well. So, what does $8.45 get you? I have to say that it gets you a really nice wine. Just thinking – that’s another good thing about pinks – they don’t cost an arm and a leg. This has a tarriness to it among the cherries. I like that – tarriness. Almost copper coloured – it would look great on your patio with some substantial apps. It reminds me of the Tavels – bigger bodied but still dry, crisp and refreshing. A nice surprise at $8.45.

charlesetcharlesCloser to home – at least I think it’s closer – is the Washington State – 2014 Charles & Charles Rosé #406603 $15.95 is a watermelon coloured (or since it’s from the US should I say colored?) beauty. This is the perfect summer party rosé for me – there’s a populist feel to it – any guest that objects to its gentle, dry, lip-smacking-ness should be expelled from the deck! At the lake, the offender would be tossed from the dock. Plus, there’s a finish that has something going on that I can’t quite describe. That’s a good thing in wine – mystery. Please buy this and let me know what you think. My goal on this blog is to serve. Hey, just had a glass of this as I’m finalizing the post and it is good stuff.

gassierHave you ever sniffed, sipped, gurgled, and swallowed a wine trying to figure out what you were going to say in your blog? I know you have. Well, the 2014 Gassier Sables d’Azur Rosé #33621 $15.95 was one of those wines. Yes, it’s the cool shapely Provence bottle too. What to say about my experience? Well, I still get the Côtes du Provence outward feel – clean, fresh, and screaming, “Please, please, chill me!” But, it didn’t resonate with me. Always wanted to say that about a wine. What I mean is that compared to the Carte Noir above, or the Tour l’Eveque below, it just seemed less convincing. Does that make sense? I was looking for that Provence soul and it didn’t quite deliver. But, what did it do? Well, it was crisp, fresh, and dry. It needs a big chill and seafood stuff to munch. To be fair that might bring it to life.

levequeOK, let’s stay there – in Provence that is. I’ve reviewed this label before here – the 2014 Château la Tour de l’Eveque #319392 $18.95 is the one wine that I’m reviewing here that has a distinct floral thing going on. It is made using both red and white grapes which is counter to what I expect from traditional Old World rosés. It’s more common than I imagine, I bet. I just think of rosés as red grapes bleeding whitish juice. This would be wicked with an arugula salad. It has almost a spritz to it – maybe a bite that gives that spritzy feeling that would match the pepper of the arugula. Some white tree fruit – peaches coming through on the finish. This is full value. The most serious one from Provence.

Last but certainly not least are my two local favs. First let’s get the ladybug out of the way. The 2014 Malivoire Ladybug Rosé #559088 $15.95 is a frequent flyer here. It’s just a consistently yummy rosé. No need to say any more – pick up a bottle. It’s an Vintages Essentials product, so should be in about any LCBO. If you must, this is my last review of that label here..

sketchesThe 2014 Tawse Sketches of Niagara #172643 $15.95 holds some greenness on the sniff that isn’t present in the mouth – cabernet something or other used, I’m guessing. It is strawberry juice coloured and maybe that’s why you can’t shake the strawberry flavours. It might be the sweetest of the rosés reviewed here. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s sweet just sweeter, is all. And that gives it a bit bulkier feel too if that makes sense. I like just about anything that comes from these guys and this is no exception.

There you have it. Rosés to stock up on for the summer ahead. If you haven’t had one in a while, give them another try. Don’t be an anti-rosite. It just might transport you to Saint-Tropez and there’s lots of worse things that can happen than that.


Dracula, Susana and the Red Daily Slosh

19 Jun


RIP, Sir Christopher

So, what’s with this week’s release? It’s called “Back By Popular Demand”. There are clearly crowd favourites among the 80 or so wines and spirits featured. As is my privilege and right, I am going to feature those that I’m glad they brought back.

susanamalbecConfession: I have a serious crush. I love Susana Balbo. There are several issues with that – I haven’t met her, haven’t even seen a picture of her. I’m not letting those little details stop me. I feel like I really ‘get’ her through her wines. The Torrontés – she’s fresh faced and breezy, the Cabernet Sauvignons – serious and intelligent, and the Malbecs – voluptuous (which I’m really hoping for). I follow her on Twitter but, alas, she doesn’t return the love. If I wasn’t half-way through a bottle of her Crios Torrontés right now, I might creep her on Facebook. Social Media Rule #1: Never creep people after alcohol – it gets dangerous. Sip, sip………….might rethink that rule. Well, when I saw that her 2012 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec #079978 $19.95 was hitting the shelves on the 27th, all those feelings of rejection and unrequited love came flooding back. But I’m bigger than that and will recommend this full-bodied beauty (14.5% ABV). It’s pleasantly sophisticated for a very well-priced Malbec. By that I mean that it’s smooth with everything integrated – no one thing screaming for attention. Longish finish with some tightness, grip. Great wine for sipping with snacks or would do well with something burnt too. BTW, if you see Susana, let her know that I’m still pining away – waiting for a ‘like’ or ‘follow’. I mean, come on. (typed using the font ‘Whiny Sans’)

zontesI seldom recommend an Australian wine. I guess it’s just that I don’t drink a lot of them; ergo, I have very little to talk about. I have, however, had the 2012 Zonte’s Footsteps Baron Von Nemesis #212936 $17.95. This is very good QPR or Quality to Price Ratio. It doesn’t have the thickness of some Shiraz we find around this price. And, frankly, that thickness is why I don’t take too many chances on them anymore unless recommended by a trusted source – The Wine Wankers come to mind. On the fruit front, this has more a Cabernet Sauvignon profile – dark and cassisy. Great food wine as it has a cleanness to it – refreshing. A great summer red wine.

I was on the road this week attending our son’s wedding in Providence, RI. That meant a few more meals in restaurants than usual and since I pretend to know stuff about wine, I’m always asked to pick the wine. Hard to believe that people trust me. The restaurants in Providence are villamedorodecidedly leaning Italian and we ate a few traditional Italian meals. The wine lists were littered with a zillion Italian wines that I had never had the pleasure of drinking. So, what to do? Well, ask the server or sommelier? Yeah, you can do that. Or, you can tell everyone that since the offerings on the menu are country Italian they require a country Italian wine – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. I know it’s a bit of a con, could be wrong, but who doesn’t love this stuff? So, we had a bunch of very good MdA’s; not all truly simple (and a very nice Morellino di Scansano, too). A very tasty MdA arrives next Saturday – 2012 Villa Medoro Rosso del Duca Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #367160 $19.95. The brochure says that it’s versatile. I’d say yes to that. But, don’t see that as meaning that it doesn’t have its own personality or doesn’t do anything really well. It certainly does. It does full, gutsy, and lip smacking very well. Someone suggested that it was pretty tannic but I didn’t think so. Maybe a style preference. Bright and fresher maybe than many MdA’s but still quite assertive, this wine would match well with country Italian fare (you knew that was coming, didn’t you) or as a pre-dinner quaff with antipasti. It has that bit of bite that you need to sense with these Italian reds. I like it a lot. On second thought, I’d keep it for something more substantial than the antipasti. Pizza with sausage and mushrooms?

ardalLast but not least is my ubiquitous Spanish selection – 2005 Ardal Crianza #167801 $16.95. Yup, that’s $16.95 for a 9 year old red from Ribera del Duero made by Bodegas Balbás. What? You heard me. This has settled with time in bottle and brings all that red fruit and soft wood both to your sniffy sniff, your mouth’s first impression, and the red fruit plays on the finish too. It’s knows what it is – Northern Spanish Tempranillo. This has enough tannin to go up against a rare burnt something or other. Just enough acid to provide some backbone and lip smack.  I like these wines by themselves which I realize is sacrilegious as they are first and foremost food wines. Too bad – I like ’em by ’emselves. I can savour every nuanced drop. For the wine geeks out there, this is a blend of Tempranillo (90%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%). Clearly has seen some wood – I love the way Rioja and Ribera del Deuro wines show the wood – cedary smell and smoky taste.

Bonus reco – this week, I had a great Aussie cab which oddly contradicts my statement above – 2013 Jim Barry The Cover Driver Cabernet Sauvignon #677746 $26.95. Definitely New World CS. Cherries, smoke and a great mouthfeel – level tannins and a bit of acid on the finish. Lower alcohol so no heat whatsoever (13.5% ABV). From Coonawarra, meaning a hit of dustiness. Great BBQ meat wine! Burgers, steak.

Put down the remote, grab a bottle or two and head outside to enjoy the last days of June 2015! Did I just say that June 2015 was almost over? Does that mean that my taxes are late? Shit.







Wine As a Depilatory – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

11 Jun

I found an interesting and little known wine fact in one of my readings this week. Around 1000 BC, a white wine, that has DNA similar to Greek Assyrtiko, was used by the Phoenicians to wax their legs. Apparently, the acid and alcohol in the wine cleanly removed all leg hair. Smooth legs were revered by women and leg hair on a woman was seen as a negative class distinction back then. Vines were planted throughout the Levant to provide sufficient wine to render most Phoenician women smooth legged. All this explains the familiar Phoenician morning-after phrase – “Hair of the Leg.” Interesting.

This week, there’s a just a handful of recos, so I’ll just wrap all the colours of the wine rainbow together in one post.

carpeneThis time of year is great for cheap but cheerful bubbly. Is there really a time of year that isn’t? And Prosecco can be a good option. However, there so much Prosecco out there now that the category is a bit watered down IMHO. So, I tend to stay with one or two labels because bad Prosecco is, well, very disappointing. Ever since my friend Andrew introduced me to it, my ‘go-to’ Prosecco is Carpenè Malvolti 1868 Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore #727438 $16.95. I find it has the proper balance of fruit, tight fizz, and weight for me. It is maybe a bit more stony than you’re used to but that’s why I like it. Pop a cold one of these when Suzie or Nicole comes over. They luv Prosecco! Question: do you say PRO seek o, or pro SEK o, or PRO sek o? I kind of interchange them just in case. That way I’m right part of the time.

frcchardonnayWe visited Flat Rock Cellars last September and I wrote about them here. They are, for my money, one of the most consistent producers of reasonably priced wines from Niagara. The 2012 Flat Rock Cellars Chardonnay #286278 $18.95 is a perfect example of that. This isn’t your over-oaked, buttery vanilla bomb Chardonnay. But, neither is it one of those stern, minerally, unoaked varieties. It’s kind of what Goldilocks wanted – “just right”. It’s fruit first and fresh. Although this would be called a cool climate Chardonnay, I’d say that it will appeal to those that also like the warmer styles such as those from California, say. Confused? Don’t be. Get a bunch for the patio, deck, dock, table, bed, balcony, or sidewalk. Did I say it was just right?

trespicosWell, what have we here? It can’t be. Yes, it’s 2012 Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha #273748 $19.95. This was one of the better values in the store for several years when it was priced about $3 – $4 cheaper. Not sure what drove the price up. Lenin would say it’s the greedy capitalists. My friend, Tim would say it’s the unions. But, I bet it’s just a typo by an overworked LCBO employee. And, now they have to live with it. They must make a zillion cases of this stuff. You can’t go into a wine store in Canada or the continental US without seeing it. This vintage will be ‘released’ several times this calendar year at the mother ship. Don’t let that fact dissuade you from purchase. It’s pure Northern Spain  Garnacha – intense, full-bodied, cherries, woody things, and herbs. I wondered why so big and found out upon inquiry (Wikipedia – I know, I previously pledged not to Google wine stuff – but I caved) that the DO Campo de Borja gets very little rain, meaning fewer berries and it’s hot which combines to make it full-bodied and assertive. It needs food really to be appreciated. Great BBQ wine.

langaA cheap Garnacha – 2012 Langa Tradicion Centenaria #194795 $14.95 arrives this Saturday as well – a tiche less large than the one above. Provides good value. As well from a dry zone – DO Catalayud. It is a substantial wine as well. These wines really reflect the stony, scrubby ground they come from. This one has less complexity, more straight forward than the Tres Picos but at $14.95 it rocks. This would work with burgers.

fptavelFrom last release there’s the 2014 Famille Perrin Tavel #680801 $19.95. Tavel is the red drinker’s pink and this one definitely will appeal to those that prefer red wines. It’s substantive for a rosé but still carries that refreshing cleansing sensation in your mouth. Good and dry – darker fruits – no strawberries here. A hit of acid on the finish. I recommended this wine to a friend to accompany dinner and it was a winner. Great cottage wine with fresh tomatoes, olives, shrimp, avocados, and bread – that kind of stuff. Inventory is getting low – so get a move on.

castellodamaFor a wee bit of a splurge pick up the 2009 Castello di Ama Riserva Chianti Classico #039768 $34.95. This is all Chianti – cherries, earthy, mustiness. Lovely wine. As a fellow wine drinker tweeted yesterday about a different wine, “Wow, Wow, Wow.” That’s a triple Wow! And, as a former math major, I know that that’s just one Wow removed from a top score of 4 Wows. If this is the 2009, how great will the 2010 be? I’m betting 4 Wows. Cellar this one for a few years or pop and pour.

Oh yeah, the part above about the Phoenicians – just made that up. Not sure why. But, how many women out there thought for a minute that it would provide a great excuse to buy wine? And, those wine geeks were getting ready to reveal this interesting fact at their next tasting. Admit it.




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