Archive | April, 2016

Rosés For The Dock Edition and A Single Guilty Pleasure

28 Apr

It’s the Dock Where I Rock the Rosés

You may remember the last 2 editions of Rosés For The Dock posts. Wait, what am I saying? Of course you do. You have them bookmarked and use them regularly as textbook examples of blogging excellence and rosé wisdom. Well, I won’t bore you with opportunities to click away to read them because you won’t anyway. I know what you do and where you go.

This is number 3! That must mean it’s 2016, sigh.

The mothership is pimping rosés this weekend (April 30th). And, if you pimp, they will come. Well, at least I will ’cause I’m easy, subject to suggestion, and a mark for sexy advertising. While else would I have purchased that Dyson vacuum cleaner. Did you notice the length of that handle, the way the woman wrapped her fingers…………….never mind – that was another post.

I received a text the other day from my youngest. Now, picture this – it’s 3 degrees Celsius outside my door (that’s about 40 F. for my US friends). I’m sitting around thinking. Nothing inspirational or profound – just thinking. “Ding” goes my phone. Ah, a text. I open it to hear from my itinerant life-time student. I quote, “Heyo, I’m heading to France tonight, and will be there until May 11th. Staying in Provence……writing…..library”



What? I know that he works hard and the travel is part of the gig kind of. But, did I say it was 3 degrees C? Quick check of the Côte d’Azur tells me that it’s……..67 degrees F. which is………… well, let’s just say that it was warmer than 3 C. And, when I think of Provence, I think of drifting on the Mediterranean soaking up the sun, eating something fresh and delish and sipping rosé. Ah, warm, sated.Consolation? It’s coming. The warmth that is.

This week there are 2 repeat Provence offenders from these pages.

gassierThe 2015 Gassier Sables d’Azur #033621 $15.95 is a wine that needs a significant chill and something to eat with it – like a green salad with balsamic vinegrette. Hey, just kidding. Pair it with sun alone and you’ll be fine. It has a very evident streak of acidity but is light and Provency.  Perfect in 67 degree and warmer weather.

chateaulatourThe other Provence wine that I want to talk about is the 2015 Château La Tour de l’Eveque #319392 $19.95. I have sang the praises of this cuvée several times. This looks like perfection in a rosé – a little hint of yellow amidst the pink  – smells of orchard fruit but don’t be fooled. On the swish and swallow, you get a load of palate cleansing acidity and a citrus burst. Love, love it! If you ever sit in the sun in a small cafe in Antibes (and BTW, I fear that my son is), snack on messy prawns and fresh tomatoes, this is the wine you’ll want.

mabyThere are two Tavels this weekend, I’m talking about only one of them – 2015 Domaine Maby La Forcadière Tavel #701318 $18.95 is another repeater. Tavels are much more substantial than the rosés from Provence or pretty well anywhere else, actually. They are said to be the red wine drinker’s rosé. Made predominantly with Grenache which gives you some idea of the vibe. This wine is dark pink, complicated, and spicy. Dry as a bone and muscly enough to stand up to a typical red wine meal. If you’d be overwhelmed with a tannic Cab or Syrah/Shiraz with your burger, drain this. Cottage barbecue pink.

tawseroseEveryone around Niagara seems to do a rosé lately. I admit that I really only drink two of them. The first is the 2015 Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rosé #172643 $16.95. If you want to know about Tawse, you can read my short piece here. This is a bit sweeter in profile than the others I’ve mentioned here but don’t think, “Oh, that’s sweet.” Think, “Oh, that’s suuuweeet.” It’s a peaceful, medium-bodied wine with some earthy notes in the glass but clean on the finish. Nice effort.

The other Niagara rosé I stock up on, in fact have just twisted open a bottle of, is 2015 Malivoire Lady Bug Rosé #559088 $15.95. A true food pink. Lunch on the beach? Serve well chilled. You can read my piece on Malivoire here. Worth a visit.

That’s enough for now. I’m sure we will be talking’ pink later this year.

As un homage to The Food and Wine Hedonist who has been blogging about guilty pleasures in music, wine and food lately, my guilty pleasure might be this song. Come on, everyone loves Elaine, admit it.



Visiting Niagara Region Day 1 and 1/2 and Day 2 – #SundaySips

24 Apr


Last week, I gave an introduction to and a good first day in Niagara Region on a wine crawl. You can read that here. The first day was one of GPS fun, a superb lunch, a run-in with a flat rock, and some great wines. I realized almost “Oh shit” simultaneously with the clicking of the “PUBLISH” button that I hadn’t gotten you settled in and fed. And, that is very important after a long day on the road.


Image courtesy of Lonely Planet

So backing up into Day 1, you’ve arrived at your NOTL destination, unpacked, popped a cork in your room and you want to go for a walk. Yes, you do. Walking the streets of NOTL is the best. Walk Queen Street and shop the shops, grab a patio chair and a………….glass of wine, of course. Or better yet, head down to the river and Front Street. There’s a gazebo in a park (picture above) that was built as part of a movie set – some slasher flick or political thriller. Check out the homes and picture Laura Secord warning the British and turning out some truffles. It’s a very historical feeling with Fort Niagara across the river and Fort George down the Parkway. Peaceful.

You are hungry, you say? Well, it’s hard to go wrong. Advice? Ask the people that you’re staying with (if at a B&B) or at the hotel. But, I will try to steer you in a few directions:

treadwellcuisineTreadwell – 114 Queen Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON Tel: 905-934-9797 This is the number one ranked restaurant on TripAdvisor and deservedly so. Inventive farm-to-table cuisine (e.g. Confit Leg of “Schuyler Farms” Lamb with Ramp Whipped Potatoes, “Cumbrae Farms” Bacon, Peas, Kozlik’s Mustard Jus”. Locally sourced, with expert service. Wine list is locally focused when it’s by the glass and they have the cream of the Niagara crop in bottle. They also have a representative selection of better California, French, Italian wines as well. Bonus? They have opened up a cozy wine bar. Hint: Reserve well in advance.

Escabéche at The Prince of Wales – 6 Picton Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON Tel: 1-888-669-5566 Typical fine dining menu well done in a superb setting. Wine list recognized by Wine Spectator. If you want to feel special, this should give you a headstart.

oban2Oban Inn – 160 Front Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON Tel: 1-866-359-6226 This is a fabulous setting down by the Niagara River overlooking the NOTL Golf Club. Great gardens. Traditional fine dining. Exceptional service. Wine list is focused on Niagara as well but that’s why you came, isn’t it? Mildly humorous NOTL Golf Club story? One wife and years ago, we are staying in NOTL and my friend and I were dropped at the club by our wives – we would play 18, they would shop. So, rather than risk getting our shoes stolen from the locker room, we wore our spikes and left shoes in the car. As our wives drove away, we strolled into the pro shop, our metal spikes clicking, clicking away. We were told that the course was closed for a club event. Um, what to do. We walked around the town for a bit carrying our clubs and clicking on the sidewalk. A couple of real losers looking for a game. Embarrassing. Then we remembered that the night before, my friend had bumped into a colleague from another movie at the theatre.and he had provided his address. We banged on his door, clubs in hand. We were welcomed in, borrowed swimming trunks and spent the 4 hours by the pool, sipping drinks. Sometimes these things work out.

Winery Associated Bistros There are some restaurants associated with wineries (Peller Estates, OLIV at Strewn Winery, Ravine Estates, among others) but I haven’t been to them in years aside from grabbing a glass and a plate of finger food while I sip their stuff.

Pub Fare is all you can muster?

oldeangelinnThe Olde Angel Inn – 224 Regent Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON Tel: 905-468-3411 This is one of if not the oldest inn in Ontario. You can’t miss the charm of the very low ceilings. It’s styled after an English pub and they carry it off pretty well. Lots of taps, fish and chips, bangers and mash. Live music. Maybe after stumbling around Beamsville and having a feast for lunch at On The Twenty, you just want some comfort food.

The Irish Harp Pub – 245 King Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON Tel: 905-468-4443 This is nice. The usual continental suspects on tap. Loads of Irish whiskeys and pub food. Not grand but it can provide that quick, familiar dinner you might need.

I forgot to tell you about the Shaw Festival. You can read about it at Suffice to say, that it’s a cultural icon on the Ontario map. Plays are taken from those written during George Bernard Shaw’s lifetime as well as by him. There is always something great on. Don’t miss it if you like live theatre. We are blessed in this part of Ontario with the Shaw and The Stratford Shakespearean Festival. Both top drawer.

Back to the tour.

Day 2

You awake to grab a quick breakfast and head out to visit more wineries. I’ve listed these in no particular order. But you can map them out by using the resources at Once again, there are too many wineries to mention here and, unfortunately I’ve left off a bunch of good ones. If you see some in your planning that you’d like an opinion on, send me a note via and I can weigh in.

southbrookSouthbrook Vineyards – 581 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON Tel: 1-888-581-1581 You probably passed by this winery on your way to NOTL yesterday and thought, “That’s an interesting building.” Well, it’s a whole lot more than that. Southbrook are leaders in sustainable and ethical winemaking. Those who know me know that I worked for a while in the renewable energy and ‘green’ technologies field. So, how Southbrook managed to be so successful in this regard matters to me. They are certified by Demeter (biodynamic), Pro-Cert Organic, Sustainable Winemaking Ontario and their hospitality pavilion is Gold Level of LEED – the first of its kind in Canada. Pretty impressive. But, you came for the wine, didn’t you? Southbrook has the usual stable of wines – Chardonnay, Cab blends, rosé, Rieslings. Where I like to wander with them is into their ‘Whimsy’ line. These are wines that are made in limited supply in each vintage at the whim of the winemaker. They usually are experiments or deviations from the norm and worth the gamble. Oh, and one more thing – their staff are top notch. Ask them about the green stuff. Bonus Recommendation: They have a Framboise which is unique and good with sparkling wine as a Kir wannabe.

Inniskillin Wines – 1499 Line #3 at Niagara Parkway, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON Tel: 1-888-466-4754 ext. 5400 This is where Niagara wine began in earnest. Most people have seen, heard of, or even drank Inniskillin wines. In particular, their ice wine is sold abroad. Being owned and distributed by Constellation Brands, they have a solid reach in the US. Of course you should sample the icewine. They have 4 different kinds, including a sparkling. My fave, however, is the Cab Franc icewine – fresh picked strawberries. Their Reserve, Discovery, and Single Vineyard efforts are particularly tasty. Try the ’13 Montague Vineyard Pinot – savoury.

Niagara College Teaching Winery – 135 Taylor Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON Tel: 905-641-2252 ext. 4071 Niagara College offers courses in winemaking and many of the other arts and sciences that surround the industry. This winery is the classroom in many respects and it’s kind of cool to sample the assignments and liquid essays that have been completed by the classes and their profs. In particular, I’ve loved the ’10 Dean’s List Pinot Noir #445759 $18.95 that is available at the LCBO in very limited supply.

Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery – 1366 York Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON Tel: 905-262-8463 This vineyard sits on the St. David’s Bench a sub-appellation of NOTL which gains some BTU’s on the other subs. That means riper fruit – less greens to the Bordeaux varieties. This is a family owned and operated enterprise. Organic. Restaurant on site so you could make this your halfway point.

stratusStratus Vineyards – 2059 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON Tel: 905-468-1806 As with Southbrook, you probably saw this amazing building on the way to NOTL. It is also a fascinating hospitality centre and barrel room. Top drawer – which is the vibe they we’re looking for. My favourites from here are: ’14 Charles Baker Ivan Vineyard Riesling  and the ’08 Stratus Red both available on-line or at the cellar door. Many may have seen their Wildass label in your local. Good value straight up Ontario wine.

Colaneri Estate Winery – 348 Concession 6 Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON Tel: 905-682-2100 I wrote about Colaneri a couple years ago and you can read that here. Beautiful setting, impressive appasimento technique wines.

In this series, I’ve left off some of my other stalwarts like Pondview, Sue Ann Staff, Foreign Affair, Coyote’s Run. But, I am heading back that way in May and will regale you with tales of oenological conquest in later posts.

Now, back to your Sunday.




#MWWC24 Time to vote!

19 Apr

the drunken cyclist

wine-stain1-3It is time to vote!

The Remaining Timeline:

Voting Begins: Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 (Today!)

Voting Ends:  Monday, April 25th, 2016

Winner Announced:  Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Last night, after getting this post ready to go, there were just a handful of entries, leaving me to wonder whether it was the theme, the time of year, or simply general malaise that resulted in the relatively limited number of posts this go around (I should also state that there is no post from The Drunken Cyclist this month either). But a funny thing happened in the wee hours as there was a bevy of contributions, upping the total to a somewhat respectable thirteen fourteen entries this month. (Another was added after I wrote this little blurb.)

Here are this month’s entries:

Cheap Wine Curious: Mixing Business with Pleasure

Dracaena Wines: In The Wind of Pleasure

Duff’s Wines: 50 Shades of Pleasure

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50 Shades of Pleasure – #MWWC24

17 Apr



There is a strangely masochistic exercise that wine bloggers participate in each month – the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge. It’s a hotly contested fight between bloggers for bragging rights, a bump in site visits, the right to show an image on their site that they are a winner (if I could figure out how to put that on my site, I would – ’cause I’m a winner, baby), and an excuse to open something really, really nice to celebrate victory. Oh, there are a lot of losers and the losers do not, as is de rigueur these days, get a medal for just participating. The winner gets to choose the theme for the following month. Last month’s ‘challenge’ was won by Ted masquerading as The Drunken Cyclist and he chose “Pleasure” as a theme.

nakedcameWhen I was in first year university, the writers at Newsday, feeling that anyone could write a porn, er, erotic novel, decided that they would write such a work by each writing a chapter with no knowledge of what the other writers were doing aside from there being one main character. They would then pull all the chapters together and publish it under a nom de plume – Penelope Ashe – without declaring that it was a farce. The book’s title? Naked Came The Stranger. It was hilarious and did pass for a serious attempt at erotica. Years later someone else did the same thing and called it Fifty Shades of Grey. Probably amounted to nothing. Right?

Well back then, the guys in my little suite of rooms in res, decided we were going to similarly write an erotic novel too. Each guy would write a chapter. Mine starred Stavrous Popitlouse a Greek voyeur and his young, sexually inexperienced understudy Gloria Minx. It was dark and chronicled the struggles of ………..

What does this have to do with the theme? Well, erotica is pleasurable if it’s done right even though most of us wouldn’t admit it. And, here we go.

This Last Saturday in February

She had seen him downstairs with the others a thousand times. He had always remained quiet and aloof as she approached. That didn’t fool her; she knew he was playing hard to get. Underneath it all, his power beckoned her. But it never seemed the right moment to choose him for her pleasure. She chose others instead to sate her desires. Why did she hesitate? So many times before she had thought that she had found ‘the one’ only to get distracted with his individual traits and nuances – his body, his nose. In those moments, she didn’t allow herself to get lost in fleeting ecstasy rather she was distracted by it. Be it the lingering tastes in her mouth from her partner’s core or the later task of analyzing and populating her personal journal with tales of conquest.

In his case, she just knew that he demanded her full attention – no reflection on past conquests, just full surrender to him. Could she ever commit to total subjugation? It frightened her and it also excited her. Control had been hers but what would happen if she let go? Her body ached when she considered that possibility.

The last Saturday in February in 2016 was a cold day. She had decided that she would crawl inside her solitary world and reflect on her loves, her life, her needs. But, she couldn’t concentrate. In front of the roaring fire, her loose clothing felt constraining. She tore off her sweater, her toque. She was on fire. She could feel his heat – his allure was calling her downstairs. As the wind rattled the dining room windows, she fought with her inner demons. Why? Why couldn’t she resist him? What hold did he have on her very soul? Why now? What did this day, the last Saturday in February, have to do with her unbridled lust for him? What would she lose by being one with him, surrendering to his perfection?

She rose from her chair, kicked off her slippers to feel the cool of the tile floor on her naked feet. And, she slowly descended the basement stairs with lights off. She didn’t need the naked glare of the swinging light bulb (that’s ‘naked’ twice now) to know where he hid – urging her to find him. In the dark, she reached out among all the others; communicating to him with her touch, and then tenderly grasped his naked (3 ‘naked’s) waist with her shaking fingers and pulled him to her quickly in a violent act of need. He could not possibly understand her lust. Or, could he? As they ascended the stairs together, her heartbeat accelerated. It was pounding in her ears, her silkily clad breast heaving, throbbing, throbbing. Oh yeah it was throbbing, baby.

Her arousal increased seemingly beyond her physical control. How could she stop the throbbing (promise I won’t use ‘throbbing’ again)? Her hand brushed across the sweat on the nape of his neck. She could feel his power even then. She sensed his taut muscularity, his stoney resolve, the seductive potential of his unfettered explosion in her mouth. Oh, he had remained cool and aloof so long that she had trouble concentrating on the task ahead. She was yearning to taste his juices. How would she open him up to her need? She must.

But she paused. Then what? What would this conquest leave? No more possibilities of a moment with him. No what ifs. No more mysterious ‘him’. It would be done. Over. She would know him and he would be gone as all the others before him. Her fantasies of what could be – gone.

Oh hell, she pushed on – possessed. Held him close. Felt him hard and stiff against her cool skin. She knew that he could sense her need. She had bared her very self to him and he was teasing her, taunting her.And then she became impatient. She wanted to dominate him, own him, consume him. She violently ripped the blood red covering off his neck. But how to open him to her advances? He wanted it too.

Editorial Note: The protagonist’s knowledge of the target’s participation is portrayed in this account as consensual for literary purposes. Those at home should seek and gain clear consent before violating the seal of their prospective partner. No means No. OK, where were we? Oh yeah.

Kinky pleasure device

Say no more. Say no more.

She grasped his neck and forced (read editorial note above) her steel device into his mouth subjecting him to her need. Twisting, twisting with no complaint from him – just a tantalizing squeak, squeak – sweaty, slippery acquiescence to her desires. Her heart raced, her lips wetted in anticipation. She needed him inside her. Then she tugged on him, tugged again and then a gasp from him. YES, YES, NOW! She couldn’t hold out any longer. She needed to find her climax. She tilted him to her mouth. His essence poured out over her.

Thunder boomed and lightning flashed to reveal two bodies entwined as one. She let out a low throaty sigh as she realized her goal. He was inside her! He was hers! “Oh my”.

As she lay back exhausted, emotionally and physically spent on this night she strangely didn’t feel alone. There was a sensation that others across the globe had that night experienced the same thing as herself. But then again, let’s face it. It’s pretty well chronicled what a great bottle of white Burgundy can do for a woman on a cold night. Who the hell needs a man?


Visiting Niagara Region Day 1 – #SundaySips

17 Apr

This was playing while I composed this and it seems appropriate…….’cause we are taking the car or bicycle to Jordan.

Spring has finally arrived.

And Spring deserves a road trip. My favourite road trip that doesn’t require a road map for me is down to Niagara to visit some of the most underrated wineries around. “How underrated are they?” Well, I get the Wine Enthusiast and Wine and Spirits and I can’t remember when they have ever mentioned a Canadian, let alone Niagara, wine. Decanter did a  nice piece with a Canadian wine on the front cover. But generally, Niagara is the Rodney Dangerfield of wine. Even here in Ontario, I have friends who wouldn’t consider a wine from Niagara regardless of my strong recommendation – they just don’t even want to try it – they know they don’t like it. Let me repeat that – “regardless of my strong recommendation”. Are you shitting me? If I, Duff, recommend it, you can abso-friggin-lutely count on the fact that…………….I’m going to like it a lot. And, by extension, maybe you will too.

I get the lack of air play and respect for Niagara, I think. Low volumes, low brand recognition, strong competition in all categories, and many of their better wines’ price point. There’s lots of noise for a wine consumer to navigate.

I want to provide a bit of a guidebook to a tour of Niagara. And after you’ve taken it literally (or in the comfort of your own home) and sampled their offerings, you make up your own mind.

As I see it, Wineville Niagara is laid out like this – there are the wineries you visit on the way to or from (Niagara Escarpment/Twenty Valley) and those that you visit when you have unloaded your stuff in a lovely inn or bed and breakfast in or near that tony village – Niagara-On-The-Lake. If you try to mix it up, there are issues related to time pressure, confusion, wrong turns, marital discord, and potential DUI convictions. Trust me – I know this. And, it’s important to sample wines from both of these larger chunks. So, don’t miss either.

The lens I’m using is one that takes into consideration travel time (assuming a couple days at least) and the experience that you’ll have (both wine and atmosphere). And, it’s my blog so these wineries and dining places are from my own experience and are tailored to my palate and taste. There are 88 wineries in Niagara and some will be horribly disappointed that they don’t get a mention on this heavily subscribed blog but here’s a hint for them: it’s easily rectified with an invitation to a tasting/tour and free swag for Duff. After all, I am that easily bought. Here we go.

Before we start, make sure you’ve done a little research. I’ve listed one solid resource at the bottom of the page. For restaurants and accommodations, of course, there are the usual suspects TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc. Also, I’m trying out a new app called Winery Passport. Let me know if you use it and opinion.

First Day (on the way to NOTL)

A good mix of wineries from large to artisanal, from Riesling to Pinot to Viognier to Chardonnay. I’m somewhat travelling towards NOTL from Hamilton:

Leaning Post – 1491 Hwy 8 Stoney Creek, ON Tel: 905-643-9795 Artisanal winery – taking grapes from small plots throughout the area. Great Pinot Noir, Chardonnay but also make Gamay, Riesling. Up and coming.


Rosewood Winery

Rosewood Estates Winery – 4352 Mountainview Road, Beamsville, ON Tel: 905-563-4383 Lovely winery situated amongst several others (Angel’s Gate, Thirty Bench – so you could kill a flock with one stone). They have an apiary and make mead as well as very nice Riesling (MS), Pinot Noir, and Merlot. And, they had a senior dog when last I was there. I pay attention to this kind of detail. Check to see if they are having a wedding there before you go.

Daniel Lenko Estate Winery – 5246 King Street West, Beamsville ON Tel: 905-563-7756 Great Old Vines Chardonnay, Heritage, Merlot, and a few takes on Viognier which are interesting (many barrel and bottle aged e.g.. 07’s and ’08’s available) family style presentation, family run grape growers from way back. Great down home vibe.

Vineland Estates – 3620 Moyer Road, Vineland ON Tel: 1-888-846-3526 Beautiful  tasting room/reception centre, tour, etc. Exceptional restaurant. Specializes in Riesling for my money although other varieties are available.

The Malivoire Wine Company – 4260 King Street East, Beamsville ON Tel: 1-866-644-2244 I wrote about Malivoire here. Chardonnays, Gamay, Foch, Rosé.

Tawse Winery – 3955 Cherry Avenue, Vineland ON Tel: 905-562-9500 I wrote a bit about Tawse here. They make exceptional terroir-driven Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and Cab Francs. Solid Riesling too.

Flatrock Cellars – 2727 Seventh Avenue, Jordan ON Tel: 1-855-994-8994 I wrote about Flat Rock here. They have a beautiful reception area, reasonably priced and tasty Chardonnays, Pinots, and a great Riesling (Nadja’s Vineyard). Great vibe. You can see all the way down to the lake and across to Toronto on a clear day.

Westcott Vineyards – 3180 Seventeenth Street, Jordan ON Tel: 905-562-7517 A family-run boutique winery specializing in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. You can read what I wrote about Westcott here. I believe that on weekends in the summer, there is a nice bistro-like place to sit and get some local food.

creeksideCreekside Estate Winery – 2170 Fourth Avenue, Jordan ON Tel: 1-877-262-9436 Summertime weekends (check web site) there’s a great casual bistro – The Deck – that offers light stuff. Good place to pause particularly if you are cycling. Creekside has a counter-culture vibe. To that end, they grow and make Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz (not even calling it Syrah which is de rigeur here).

Bonus Coverage: Dillion’s Small Batch Distillers – 4833 Telford Road, Beamsville ON Tel: 905-563-3030 Yes there is a distillery in Beamsville. Dillon’s makes exceptional gin, oak-aged Canadian rye whisky (white), vodka, bitters, and absinthe.

Note: All wineries, and Dillon’s, charge a tasting fee. In most cases they waive that should you purchase. If you want to be sure, ask.

Where to Eat

OnThe Twenty – 3836 Main Street, Jordan ON Tel: 905-562-7313 Can’t recommend this highly enough. Exceptional takes on classics and seasonal, local stuff. Upscale

Vineland Estates – Address above Tel: 1-888-846-3526 ext. 33 Inventive cuisine, good pairing program. Upscale

Jordan House Tavern – I wrote about this here. Traditional roadhouse fare. Craft beers, local wines.

Where to Stay in Jordan

Inn On The Twenty – 1-800-701-8074 Upside is that it’s in Jordan which means quiet and close to wineries. Downside is that there is limited nightlife.

Where to Stay in NOTL


Riverbed Inn  several upscale establishments. My fave is The Prince of Wales – good dining room, spa). These are all upscale.

River Bend Inn (winery, a bit out of the town, beautiful setting, exclusive feel)

Oban Inn Lovely inn rebuilt from the ruins of the original that burned down a decade or so ago, good dining

BranCliff Inn (close to the theatre and main drag)

Bed and Breakfast There are a zillion bed and breakfasts. I’d recommend one of the heritage homes on a side street or down by the river


Wineries, local map, info:

In a couple weeks in another #SundaySips, we will explore NOTL or Niagara-on-the Lake




Phone Rage – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

14 Apr

Question: What is proper smartphone etiquette at the gym?

cellhonebanThe reason I ask? I was at the gym the other day (no scoffing, please) and retired to the sauna after several hours of heavy weights. I entered to find a young man on the top bench in full gym gear, including shoes. EEEW. But that’s not the real issue. He had his smartphone with him, earbuds in and music blaring enough that I could hear the lyrics to Hotline Bling. And, that’s not all. He kept texting someone (clickety, clickety, click) who’s return texts were announced with an annoying gong. What to do:

  1. I could have asked him politely to get undressed after all saunas are for the semi-naked, place phone in Airplane Mode, and turn the music off – maybe could be taken the wrong way on the, “get undressed, please”;
  2. I could have asked if he was so pathetically lonely that he needed an electronic substitute for his blankie even in the sauna – a bit too psychoanalytical; or
  3. Do what I actually did – the indirect dis – which was start to talk to the other naked man in the sauna about how sadly attached people were to their gadgets, wink, wink. He promptly got up and left. Not the man I was talking to, although he might have thought about it, but the offender left. Point made. Not sure what I would have done if he ‘got in my face’, as they say. Headline: “Man Killed in Sauna was Victim of Phone Rage”

The reason I mention this is that today I was sitting, thinking. Just thinking. No smartphone, no music on. I repeat – just me alone with my thoughts. A lost art? I’m not bragging because I couldn’t do it as long as I used to. After awhile, I needed to put some tunes on, find my phone and check for texts and emails that would validate my existence. Yup, Bill is here ’cause he got a text. I, too, am needing a little electronic recognition, I fear. But never in the sauna.

And, if you believed the “several hours of heavy weights” I claimed above, you don’t really know me. It was 90 minutes on the treadmill and fifteen on some circuit training machines. OK, that’s a lie too. It was mostly just the sauna.

This week’s (April 16) release has some old favourites of mine and a couple new faces.

frchardLet’s start close to home – the 2013 Flat Rock Chardonnay #286278 $18.95 will serve you well in the build up to summer and then on warm summer evenings. Any oak is is under the influence of the juicy fruit (not the gum) and a nice bite of acid on the finish. Nice effort by a very solid winery. You can read about my visit to Flat Rock here.

kacabaAgain from Niagara up on the escarpment, the 2011 Kacaba Cabernet Sauvignon #326496 $24.95  is a handful and carries that personality of red rather than black or cassis fruit. Tannins suggesting further cellaring back when I tasted it. Perhaps not needing that now. Great red meat wine – grab a steak and pop, breathe and enjoy.


brazinLodi is an under appreciated wine region IMHO. It’s straining to be recognized, loved, and benefitting economically from that love. My fave wine from Lodi? Zinfandel. This week there is a repeat offender from these pages – 2013 Brazin (B)Old Vine Zinfandel #256750 $20.95. This won’t remind you of those yuuuuge Zins that we all like despite ourselves. It’s more reserved, complicated. Laura Linney? Love Laura. Love this wine too. I lamented about not getting it on with California ones lately and this is an excuse to break that trend. This really says, “Cottage.”

mdfcsWhile in Lodi, let’s pick up a bottle of the Michael David Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon #405175 $26.95. I love these guys. Their Petite Petit is an annual must buy. This one has the coolest label. This is big, complicated in a very nice way – different sensations in the mouth – dry, fruits, smack, finish. There’s a dirty quality to it – oh behave. A terrific wine.

saintamourA wine that was released a while ago but is still hanging around and worth a visit is the 2014 P. Ferraud et Fils Cuvée Ensorceleuse Saint-Amour #443044 $19.95. I seem to remember that Saint-Amour as a Cru is a bit more seductive and less masculine than, say, Moulin-a-Vent or Morgon. Well, this wine flexes it’s fruit muscles plenty. Raspberry pie is what I thought to myself. Not syrupy but tangy raspberries. In fact, think raspberry pie and then sniff and sip. I told you. My friend, Grant, will dig this big time. Great sipping wine with a cigar for him.

Wines that I’m curious to try:

2013 Edmeades Zinfandel #105924 $23.95 A Mendocino Zin. Say no more.

2011 Cune Reserva #417659 $24.95 This is usually such a pleasurable, easy to quaff Rioja. Here’s hoping the 2011 is.

Spring is here! Enjoy the weekend.


Wine Beliebers – Friday Ramble

7 Apr

Yes, it’s kinda sad really

I read an interesting piece at about Justin Bieber’s new dreadlocks. You can read it here. It was about the non-entitled appropriation of the culture of others. The others, in this case, being the owners of the dreadlock franchise, I guess. Dreadlocks R Us? Marleyville? Reggae-A-Rama?

My first response to any complaint about Justin, a lad from just up the road in Stratford, is that The Biebs is a young, spoiled brat and that whatever he has done is most likely wrong. But on this point, we need to ask, “Do dreadlocks constitute cultural property? If so, who owns the right to that property? Is it proper for others without that particular cultural passport to wear them?”

Now you didn’t think I was going to answer those questions here, did you? It’s a wine blog. Instead I want to discuss the cultural appropriation that has been and is still occurring in wine and whether, just like The Biebs, it might be culturally insensitive and just plain wrong

Here’s the thing:

When I started to appreciate wine in the early 70’s it was all about Europe. European wine had many identities and all were über sophisticated for a young lad. My earliest fine wine memories?

Monsieur Corndog

Monsieur Corndog

A lunch with a former high school teacher and her husband in Ottawa. They introduced me to white Bordeaux – Château SomethingOrOther. Really – Château avec l’accent circumflex? That had to be good shit, right? And then there was my first year room mate – a grad school Vietnam War deserter and Westchester County trust fund baby – providing me instruction on the proper wine to pair with corn dogs from the cafeteria vending machine. The wine was red and from the Dordogne, wherever the hell that was. Corn Dog Pairing Tip: Grainy Dijon mustard, preferably Maille, is the key to pairing this delectable snack with an earthy, rustic red.

Back then, it was all Europe with the rest of the world trying to catch up. But, then something happened. A serious wine culture developed in North America, at first primarily in California. And it was specific to that place. We all know about the Paris thing in the 70’s. That’s where the wine world was gobsmacked by the upstart Yanks………….yada, yada……….vous plaisantez j’espère?

Jump ahead in wine evolution to the 80’s and early 90’s and the proliferation of wineries in Napa, Sonoma, Lodi, Mendocino, etc. and the style of those wines at that time (and please don’t shoot me on these broad generalizations) – Chardonnays were big, buttery and heavily oaked; red wines were big, hot, fruity, and heavily oaked as well. And, they sold buckets and buckets of these wines – many priced in the relative stratosphere – to critical acclaim from the US wine intelligentsia – read: Parker. The UK wine establishment? Not so enthusiastic about them. But, the world’s biggest economy and the largest opportunity to grow wine sales had voted. It loved these big brawny beasts.

What were Messieurs Arrogant Frog and Fat Bastard to do? Wait, I kind of gave it away there didn’t I? I’ll try again.

arfrogWhat were Messieurs Petit Clos and Domaine de Coûteux to do? Well, they along with their UK wine writing co-conspirators railed against the sacrilege of making such inappropriate wines. They lost market share. They didn’t change. They lost some more market share. And then, they decided that big and fruit forward (high scoring wines) was their thing too. Oh, they didn’t go all in. But, on balance, they did change it up. And, here’s where I connect The Biebs. You were waiting for that weren’t you?

Doesn’t that make them culture appropriators, if that’s a proper noun? They did it publicly and not even begrudgingly. Even the Italians, to a lesser extent, decided to trend towards (and I’m using the Euro euphemism here) an ‘international’ style in their cuvées.

So, is that the end of it? All wine trending toward metaphorical dreadlocks. Screaming Eagles everywhere? Of course not. Nothing is consistent but change.

What’s happened? Well, Washington State, California, Prince Edward County, Niagara, and the rest of the New World over the past decade or so, seem to be looking to a more terroir-driven style. Wait, that sounds like what the Euros were doing before they got knocked off their game – making wines that spoke of place. Even the word ‘terroir’ is French for crying out loud. Now, who’s appropriating who?

To quote The Armchair Sommelier, “Le Sigh.”

So, before the moaning resumes about The Biebs and Kim K. rocking the dreadlocks, let us first support our neighbours to the south and boycott European wines. After all, they stole the equivalent of the wine cultural capital of California. Il sont les imposteurs. And, while we’re at it, since the New World is now seemingly appropriating the cultural property of the European wine establishment – terroir, maybe we need to boycott New World wines too. And what about the new wines coming from China? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge – ya think they might be knock offs? Duh.

banwineWhat did I just say? Boycott all wine? All that tasty yummy wine? ………Well, maaaaaaybe there’s another way to make our point on cultural appropriation that doesn’t cost me so much pain. Boycott The Biebs and other non-wine cultural appropriators! Yes, BOYCOTT THE BIEBS! BOYCOTT THAT WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM! Our point will then be sufficiently made. Right?

Cheers. Have a great weekend!





International Mourvedre Day, Anyone? – The Red Daily Slosh

1 Apr

salmosWe were in Spain last fall. You can read my posts about our trip to Priorat here, hereherehere, and here.

When we were in Barcelona, winding down our vacay, we bought some wines at a Whole Foods styled Carrefour to take back to the room for pre-dinner, post-dinner, pre-breakfast quaffing. Since we had fallen in love with Priorat, we thought that we’d finish our trip with some efforts from that region. One was the 2012 Torres Salmos #450734 $30.95. This wine arrives on LCBO shelves this Saturday. If you read my Priorat posts, you had to notice that the wineries we visited were smallish. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t largish enterprises in Priorat. Torres is one of them. Headquartered in Penedes, Torres is active in 10 DO’s in Spain. Torres is also in California (Miramar) and Chile (Santa Digna, Cordillera, among many other labels). In Priorat, their presence was seen by the locals we spoke with as a bit of an outlier, not exactly fitting the zeitgeist of the region right now. But enough of that, wine is to be consumed. This wine was a lot more accessible than other wines we tried from Priorat at similar vintage stages. This was clearly a Priorat wine – Garnatxa, Cariñena, Syrah. Big – as in Priorat big, dark fruits, very smooth, some heat on the nose and on the finish might be attributed to therotllan elevated alcohol (in this case 14.5% ABV).

If you are curious about Priorat, I’d suggest the Salmos. But, if you have sticker shock, pick up a bottle of the 2010 Rotllán Torra #267989 $19.95. It’s smooth and ready right now too. Doesn’t have the complexity or finesse of the Salmos but it will give you a good idea of the regional style.

A wine hitting the shelves again is the 2011 Gérard Bertrand laclapeGrand Terroir La Clape Syrah/Carignan/Mourvedre #370262 $18.95You can read last summer’s review of this wine here. Since we have time, let’s discuss Mourvedre. Because it is International Mourvedre Day sometime this year, I bet. So, why don’t we see more of it if it has its own day? It’s a key blending wine in the Southern Rhone in Côtes du Rhone and Châteauneuf de Pape reds. Australia crafts great GSM wines; the M representing Mourvedre or Mataro as it sometimes is called there. You actually can taste some single varietal Mourvedre wines. Pick up a Bandol red or rosé and many are predominantly Mourvedre.

And then there’s mnastrellMonastrell – another name for Mourvedre. Loads of Monastrell from Spain. In fact, there may be a few of the 2014 Honora Vera Monastrell #167184 $13.95 left near you. A great patio BBQ red – spicy goodness worthy of a case for summer. Aren’t we all looking for a bargain? There’s also a Garnacha under the same label at about the same price point. Not sure how many Garnachas are still around but click here to find out.

Reds in this release that I’m curious to try:

2013 Dauvergne Ranvier Grand Vin Cotes du Rhone Villages #436907 $18.95 We all need CdR for the summer. Maybe this will be my ‘go to’ BBQ cottage red?

2013 Coyote’s Run Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir #079228 $24.95 I have had this wine in earlier vintages and felt it was one of the better Pinot Noirs from Four Mile Creek. The soil is somewhat red and if you close your eyes, you can taste it. Kidding – who the hell knows what red soil tastes like?



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