Archive | May, 2016

May 2-4 – The Red Daily Slosh

24 May

As I wrapped up this post this morning, we got the news that Gord Downie was ill. Quite a shock. Bumped into a friend at the grocery store and that’s the first thing we talked about. So, I tried to find the perfect Hip video for the moment. To celebrate! I decided on a song that seems to speak to his character and values. Plus, he’s so young here. And besides, the video for “In a World Possessed By The Human Mind” was a little slow getting going. It’s available here if you want. Either way, take some time this weekend to listen to some Hip and think of Gord. And, when they tour your town, make it out! This, sadly, is a true farewell tour.

My sunset on Friday night

My sunset on Friday night

So on to the truly trivial, I’m back from the cottage and we are opened up for the season ahead. For those not from the Great White North, this past weekend was May 2-4 or, for the monarchist set, Victoria Day: our May Memorial Day. Well, we don’t memorialize anything other than drunken revelry (hence, the 2-4) and mosquitos. Where our cottage is located, there is the addition of black flies. So, drunken revelry, mosquitoes and black flies. If you have never experienced black flies, I can easily explain them. Think of a swarm of pestilence of biblical proportions. Yup, that be them. They are the most persistent, bothersome, pesky little biters in the insect world. Regardless, I got some stuff done. Docks? Sort of – after determining the location of the nesting snapping turtles. Sometime, I will regale you with tales of snapping turtles, dead beavers – no shit, Bucky The Beaver, and really scary friends. But, Bill, what did you drink? WIYG?

I enjoyed rosé – Carte Noire – a great, crisp, light but not too light wine from Provence. And, I had a Rioja that was, well, disappointing. I recommended this very wine just a few weeks ago. I’m hoping that this 2011 Muga Reserva was an aberration – cooked, maybe. It was flat – unexciting and I love this wine usually. Oh well – Raptors were winning on the radio (no television allowed) and I didn’t really care about the wine. Go Raps!

The coming weekend brings some great opportunity to stock up for the summer. Remember that season? It’s warm, if lucky you’re on vacation, and, in my case, I get to spend time with friends, family and Bucky at my favourite place, Kahshe Lake.

benmarcoPicture this, you’re sitting around after a heavy day at work in the garden. You love Malbec. I have the tonic to what ails you – 2013 Benmarco Malbec #657601 $17.95. This will become your ‘go to’ Malbec – made from 100% Malbec. It is accessible, drinkable as in “where did that bottle go – open another” drinkable, and a great value. Much more balanced, refined than most of the General Listing Malbecs. Benmarco also makes a high level offering – Expresivo. If you see it grab it. The 2013 Expresivo has 30% Cab Franc – it’s a beaut – shows what can be done with Malbec that’s grown at altitude – refined. The bonus to Benmarco – or should I say the guarantee is that the winemaker is Susana Balbo. Caselot!

We were at a wedding last month and a couple there were leaving the next day for Italy. A pilgrimage of sorts to Ancona where a father had fought in a tank battle in WW II. But, they also were traveling around Rome, to Ancona (in the Marche Region) and then up to Bologna. They asked for any unique wine aldianorecommendations in the regions that they might run in to. I suggested Lambrusco di Sorbara, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Pecorino whites and, of course reds from Abruzzo. They were all too familiar with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo as we get a ton at the mothership. This week, there’s a regular in my cellar – 2011 Aldiano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Reserve #051706 $19.95. This is a perfect pairing with Spaghetti Bolognese. Ripe fruit, juicy acidity with a background of nastiness. Now, nastiness, for me, is the best part of these country wines. In this case, ‘nastiness’ is leather, brush, and brown. You might think brown is a colour not a flavour or aroma. In Duffs World, you’d be wrong, dude. If you sip this, you’ll see what I mean. It isn’t red, black, purple but brown in smell and taste. Tell me if you’ve experienced this.

Just re-read the above. “Brown” – um, that might not be an inducement to try this wine. When I think of brown liquid, I say, “Eeew.” What I meant to say, sans visualization, is that the wine has a sense about it close to leather, wood, and other brownish things. Just evokes ‘brown’ to me.

Oh, BTW, if you can find the 2012 Tre Saggi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #204016 $15.95 still around your local, pick it up. Great value and good enough to serve at my son’s wedding celebration.

Local mid-priced reds include:
2012 Megalomaniac Bigmouth Merlot #067645 $24.95 – as the name suggests it’s big. Cherries and vanilla – good underlying muscle and support for the fruit.
2011 Tawse Grower’s Blend Pinot Noir #130989 $24.95 – this is a great entry into Tawse style and approach to this grape. Straight forward, purposeful, extremely refreshing Pinot. A guaranteed perfect host/hostess gift.

allegrinipdtAnd, I’ve saved the best for last. The 2012 Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre #672931 $24.95 is a petit Amarone in my mind. I realize that if your sweet spot is $15 – $20 then you’ll have to ignore the cold sweats at the checkout and plunk down the $25 for this big, expressive, chewy wine. It has the telltale dried fruits of the ripasso technique but I’ve never felt that they were heavy handed here. Turns out that the wine is only half-assed ripasso. They ferment half the grapes fresh and then have another fermentation with grapes that have dried for a few months. The result is close to perfect for my tastes. Aged cheese, please.

And, let me know your favourite Tragically Hip song in the comment section below. Still can’t believe it. He’s only 52.



Remember; Click on the linked SKU and price and it will take you to the mothership’s inventory site. Drop down the menu and scroll to your location and it will tell you how many bottles there are around. Beats driving all over town looking for the last remaining bottles. Now, who the hell would do that? Seriously.

Celebrity Rant and The Rainbow Daily Slosh

13 May

Who the hell are these people?

I was sitting in the optometrist’s office this week and picked up a copy of US magazine. I don’t know if US magazine is legit or if like People is a bit of a National Enquirer under the guise of legitimacy. But, I scanned a copy and sat waiting, waiting (after all it is a waiting room). I got through two US magazines actually. The thing is I didn’t know very many of the people profiled – and there were thousands, it seemed. If truth be told, I didn’t know 10% of them. I didn’t have a clue at all. Before you say anything critical of my clue worthiness, hear me out. Were they television stars? Singers? Exploited reality television stars? Taxidermists? No clue. And their trials tribulations and designer wear wasn’t that interesting to me.

There was a time not so long ago (check that: it was a really long time ago) when I knew every person that was culturally significant. That’s an exaggeration but it’s my blog. I read Tom Wolfe, John Updike, Margaret Atwood, and Alice Munro; watched every episode of The Wire; studied Victor Frankl; knew who Jeff Beck, Yo Yo Ma, and Ginger Baker were; loved Julie Christie and Jessica Lang. And then later, because I had hip kids and nieces, I adjusted, I got to know Eminem, Paloma Faith, Lady Gaga, and Zoe Saldana (she is smoking’ hot!!). These people all did something besides just be. They are famous because they do something that people appreciate. They work in the public sphere. And, work at a level that is significant, noteworthy whether, like in the case of Eminem, you appreciate the craft or not.

kjennerBut now, even though I watch a bit of the tele, read a bunch, and I really do pay frigging attention, I don’t know the difference between one Jenner and the other (are there only two?). Hell, I didn’t know there were Jenners at all until the optometrist and they were on several pages. That’s Kylie on the left BTW – sexualized from birth. I checked out of the ubiquitous Kardashians – wait, I never checked in. I don’t know one from the other there either and can’t for the life of me understand why anyone gives a shit about them. How can anyone sell a magazine that gives so little information on so irrelevant a population? The cover above highlights a Bachelorette, or is it Bachelor, for Christ’s sake. How can that get anyone to think, “Hey, I’ve got to know about this before I read stuff that actually impacts my life…….like Duffs Wines. I better buy a copy”? If you are raging against my tone deafness to ‘today’s’ important people or you agree with me, let me know. But, before you do, ask yourself, “Why do more Canadians know all the judges on Dancing With The Stars but not who their Minister of Justice is?” Sad. Or, more relevant, why don’t more Canadians know the difference between Blancs de Blancs and Blancs de Noir? Seriously.

On to wine recos.

terra nobleWandering back home from a dinner with my niece a few months ago and stopped into The Church Key, a Richmond Row staple and a great place to eat or just sip and chat with the patrons. I ordered one of my favourite wines by the glass – 2012 Terra Noble Gran Reserve Carmenère #957050 $19.95. This is one of the better Carmenere out there that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. It’s smoky, full-bodied, and dark. Interesting. Great intro to Carmenere. So, if you haven’t tried this grape, pick up a bottle or two of this. Or if you are one of the Carmenere hounds of Providence, a case.

carte noirLast week, I did a post on rosés. You can read it here. I wanted to talk about the 2015 Carte Noire Rosé #319384 $17.95  but it wasn’t out yet. Now, it is. I’ve loved this pink for years. My write-up went something like this, “I believe that Brigitte Bardot lived in Saint-Tropez when she was, well, really hot. Maybe as un hommage to Brigitte, you could chill a bottle of this and serve with roast endangered species, carpaccio di baby seal?” Ok, the was a bit uninformative. This wine is due Provence. Crisp, cool matched perfectly to sliced avocados with olive oil, tomatoes, and sunshine. I have a couple of bottles of this already for the cottage dock at 4:30.

zontesA few months ago, a friend heavily recommended an Australian red due to the fact that they enjoyed the wine over Christmas. The wine? Not sure but it was a Zonte’s Footsteps effort. I’ve recommended their stuff before here. But I hadn’t had the particular cuvée but found a representative select this week – 2013 Zonte’s Footsteps Lake Doctor Shiraz #072975 $17.95. The thing is these guys, despite the fact that they access grapes from different terrors, have a particular house style that is restrained. I had their Avalon Tree #353193 $17.95 just the other night (Confession: drinking it as i typed this) and it had the same thing going on – focus on fruit, subtle, but purposeful. Just plain good. This Lake Doctor is spicy – Shiraz spicy a bit hot but all expressive, fresh Shiraz.

chardWe go through a yuuuuuge bunch of Chardonnay each year at this house. The Director prefers the grape, well-done and oaked just a little bit. That means that there aren’t too many available that we haven’t had.This week, there’s a Chilean effort. Question: Do you say Chlill-ay-an or Chill-ee-an? This week – 2013 Concha y Toro Serie Riberas Gran Reserve Chardonnay #287995 $16.95. This is a perfect summer Chard – fresh, vein of acid, and tropical.

One thing that we all probably do is wash, rinse, repeat. In wine, that means, we pop, drink and repeat with the same wines all the time. “There’s nothing wrong with that”, he says, as he proceeds to discuss what is wrong with that. It’s just that we enjoy different cuisines and foods. Who wants chicken every night? So, I’m going to break out of the norm with this week’s offerings. Let’s start with a Basilicata. I’ve checked and this is the very first time in seven years that I’ve recommended a wine from there. Where is ‘there’? Well, where Puglia is the heel of the boot of Italy, Basilicata is the arch and toe (minus Sicily).

sacraviteWe stopped in to Basilicata when we ventured to Matera several years ago. Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s eerie, haunting, unbelievable, yet fantastic (picture below). Caves and a history of poverty and another way of life that’s inconceivable. You can read the wiki piece on Matera here. This week, there’s the 2013 d’Angelo Sacravite #440834 $15.95. This is made from Anglianico yet is soft and accessible. I say ‘yet’ because Anglianico can be a bit edgy and dense. This isn’t either. A perfect, yet, atypical introduction to the reds of Basilicata. Have with BBQ.

Some more wines to try that are out of the ordinary?

2014 Barone Montalto Viognier #435479 $15.95 – Floral, yet clean, crisp sipping white. I dare you. A Viognier form Sicily. Chill it, sip it, repeat.

2013 Ilocki Podium Traminac #435412 $14.95 – Traminac is Gewürztraminer in these parts. A Croatian wine with history and richness.



Have a great weekend.




Essentials Recommendations

10 May

A couple posts ago, I used a video of The Blind Boys of Alabama with Susan Tedeschi singing People Get Ready. I got a few responses saying that they had never heard Susan before. So, I’ve added another of her tracks above – a great John Prine song – great flute solo. Susan’s an accomplished blues guitarist and singer. Her main squeeze is Derek Trucks. How much great music must come from that house? Listen to it as you scroll.

On to the wine. Last week, I was asked by a golf buddy what would be a good red wine to take to a friend’s house for dinner. After I asked the requisite question about what the food was going to be (“Who knows?”), I kind of stalled. Oh, I finally gave a couple suggestions but I felt inadequate. Aren’t I supposed to know these kind of things off the top of my head? I think the issue for me was availability. What wines would be in stock and, ergo, a good recommendation?

The mothership has a cadre (over 100) of higher quality wines and spirits that are usually available in larger stores and they’re called the Essentials Collection. They range from Cristal Brut Champagne ($297) and Tignanello ($103) to Cathedral Cellar Cab Sav ($16) and Anselmi San Vicenzo ($17). It’s a broad spectrum but you should be able to find something that fits the occasion and your budget.

Budget Reds

Monte Antico #69377 $15.95 This is a food wine and it’s Italian. Meaning serve it with pizza, pasta with a tomato sauce, etc. Maybe even a mushroom dish. It has that bite that I love.

LAN Crianza #166538 $15.95 A $16 Rioja Crianza that carries the day. Perfect everyday medium-bodied red. I’m having ribs tonight and might pair them with this unless I get paralyzed down in the basement (so many choices) and end up bringing up something else. If you can find the Viña Real Crianza @ $18.95 – grab a couple bottles as it is very nice as well.

kaikenKaiken Malbec #58339 $14.95 This is a good value Malbec for those that love that grape. I know there are cheaper ones out there but step away from the Fuzion and make a very little step up price-wise to this much better version.

Mid-Range Reds

Muga Reserva #177345 $23.95 If there is even a hint that your guests or you, for that matter, like Iberian wine, this is the the ‘go to’ choice from Essentials. Consistent and typical Rioja cedary goodness. Food or just plain sipping.

Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon #193573 $22.95 If it’s VQA you’re looking for, this is a great example of Niagara Bordeaux red. A hint of green pepper but not distracting from the dark fruit. Good steak wine. It’s tasty.

tenutacastigligoniMarchesi de’ Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni #145920 $21.95 I have recommended this wine so many times that I can type the name without checking the spelling. Pure Tuscan goodness. Spicy and fabulous with a simple lamb dish.

Honourable Mention

Wynn’s Coonawarra Black Label Cab Sav, Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir, Espãrao Reserva, E. Guigal Côtes du Rhone, Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon

Budget Whites

Anselmi San Vicenzo #948158 $16.95 If you like the vibe of whites from north-eastern Italy (Soave), grab this one. A perfect paring would be sun and friends.

Willm Reserve Riesling #11452 $15.95 An extra dry Riesling from Alsace. Stony, citrus. Great food wine.

Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontés #1834 $13.95 I couldn’t forget Susana. This is her entry-level Torrontés. I think it’s the perfect grape for sipping.

Mid-Range Whites

cloudy bayCloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc #304469 $32.95 The SB that started the whole Kiwi love-in. Powerful, clean, gooseberry. Perfect with grilled seafood. It can handle spicier, heavier fare – maybe even blackened grilled fish.

Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay #545004 $21.95  BC wines are available in short supply here. So grab a bottle of this judiciously oaked Chard. Perfect with chicken, salmon or for just you and your imaginary friend (never drink alone).

Henri Bourgeois Les Baronnes Sancerre #542548 $25.95 This would be a nice counterpoint to the Cloudy Bay above. Both SB’s but totally different styles. This one is restrained, minerally, and better with cleaner foods – like scallops or salads. Friends that winter in Florida start their evening imbibing with a white, frequently a Sancerre. Good sipping.

Honourable mention

Mer Soleil Chardonnay, Tawse Quarry Road Riesling, Malivoire Chardonnay, Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc


Malivoire Lady Bug #559088 $15.95 Have recommended this almost every year. I’m typed out on it.

So, if you need a wine that’s not from the General Listing aisles – something with a little cache, wander to the Vintages section, search these out and please let me know what you think. After all, I am all alone and appreciate contact with the outside world. Well I’m alone except for my imaginary friend, that is. Clink, clink.



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