Archive | June, 2016

White Man Privilege Rant – The Red and White Daily Slosh

24 Jun

Love, love, love this song. And, it is so relevant today. You’d think it was written yesterday.

I don’t usually express a non-wine opinion on these pages. Whaaat? Duff always expresses non-wine opinions on these pages. Which means that I have mission permission (as the Organizational Development guy in me would say). That said, may I take a wee bit ‘o’ your time?

I’m heading to a fundraiser for Women’s Community House tonight (tickets still available 519-672-8800). It gave me pause to reflect on the issue of woman abuse and it never ceases to shock me. We have been dealing with this issue head-on seemingly forever yet we still need easily accessible services and supports for women and their children who are subjected to this violence. Everything has changed. Nothing has changed. Women still are likely to experience abuse – sexual, emotional……………at a shameful rate. It saddens me. Make me wanna holler.

But luckily, it’s not happening to me. You see, I don’t have to worry about being raped if I had a drink or two at a bar, I’m walking home late at night, I’m asleep in my dorm room, or just ’cause. I was never sexually harassed in the workplace despite my snappy business casual look. My spouse isn’t the most likely person to assault me. Come to think of it…… I will never be carded as part of ‘good’ policing. I won’t be routinely stopped on the basis of my skin colour as I drive to work. I won’t be led to a more intensive Canada or US Customs inspection line for people who simply look like me. My parents and/or grandparents weren’t scooped off to a residential school. I won’t be assaulted, targeted in a terrorist attack, refused service, or excluded from sharing my life with the person I love based on my sexual orientation or gender identity. And, I get to drink wine as a frigging hobby and write about it! Conclusion?    BILL      IS      AWESOME!

So, what did I do to ‘earn’ this life? I mean there must be something that I accomplished that set me apart for special status. Honest answer: I am an older (don’t you dare say ‘old’) heterosexual white male born into an Anglo-Saxon family in a western democracy that just so happens to be the best country in the world IMHO. That means that I, personally, did nothing, squat, zero, nada. I didn’t earn it; I was given it as my birthright. And believe me, I am thankful for my good fortune. But also it’s horribly, horribly wrong. It needs changing on so many levels. It should be everyone’s birthright. Hopefully we are heading in the right direction. But tonight sadly shows me that it’s taking way too long.

Done. Thanks for staying with me. I apologize for the smugness and self-indulgence – wasn’t my intention. It’s just that I am unfortunately a very smug and self-indulgent older white guy. And that’s my friends saying that.

Wine, yes, wine. It is a wine blog after all. Some quick recos.

bacoHave you ever had Baco Noir? Get your binder out and check your tasting notes. Well, Niagara makes good Baco Noir. It ranges from Gamay-styled wannabes to rich, creamy chocolatey age-worthy reds.  The best of the second style that I’ve found is that made by the Speck Brothers of Henry of Pelham. This release (June 25th), there’s a great example in the 2013 Henry of Pelham Reserve Baco Noir #461699 $24.95. This is dark in the glass and in the mouth. Burn barrel and black fruits. But, the main event is really the texture. Soft, full-bodied, moderate alcohol (13.5%) without any heat. Suffice to say, that this is a pleasure to drink on it’s own or with something fresh and soft – perhaps something cheesy. Henry of Pelham does an “Old Vines” Baco (circa $20) and a regular Baco ($15) as well that are usually in the General Listing aisles. Maybe Baco will become you new fave.

medoroSpeaking of smooth, the 2012 Villa Medoro Rosso del Duca Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #357160 $21.95 has a similar vibe but with a nice vein of acidity on the finish and much more complexity. Rich is the first thing to come to mind once it hits your mouth. You might think, “It’s an MdA and $22? I usually can pick those up for $14.” Well, get over that. Seriously. If it doesn’t work out, send me the rest of your bottle(s) and I will give you credit toward a DuffsWines T-Shirt. The Henry of Pelham is an exceptional food wine due to the structure and texture. Great hostess gift if it’s a BBQ (ribs, burgers, grilled portobellos). It’s a night wine, if that makes sense and make sure it isn’t room temperature if your room is 80 degrees plus. In that case pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes. In fact, when it’s unbearably hot, do that with most if not all reds. I have recommended this label in several vintages and look forward to many more.

hogueIn my earliest email broadcasts pre-website, I used to talk about ‘Value Labels”. Labels and therefore wineries that people could usually count on for strong QPR (Quality to Price Ratio). It was designed to present recognizable options you could trust without too much blabbing about the wine. And, when I did, I frequently mentioned Hogue from Washington State. Seldom had a poor one. This week, there’s the 2013 Hogue Chardonnay #402172 $15.95 hitting the shelves. This is exactly what we need by the case this summer. Well-priced, judiciously oaked and balanced without being flabby. Perfect summer sipper for the Chardonnay lover at your place. Look for other Hogue products at the mother ship – Hogue Genesis Cabernet Sauvignon $18.95, Genesis Meritage $18.95.

vouvrayMy niece has relocated to London and she and her husband came over the other night and made me curry. Fabulous family recipe curry. But, what to have with a dish with so much going on? I chilled up one of my Mosels but couldn’t bring myself to pop the cork as I think it’s still developing. So, I went with a Vouvray. No well-thought out pairing paradigm used to connect this sightly off-dry wine with curry but it seemed to make sense. The Vouvray that I bought was 2014 Donatien Bauhaus Les Grands Mortiers Vouvray #140889 $17.95. This wine turned out to be perfect. The curry demanded a bit of sweetness but not too much. The wine was expressive with peaches and enough acid to not get run over by the curry. If you are curious, Vouvray is from the Loire and is made from Chenin Blanc. In my experience Vouvray doesn’t present like the Chenins from South Africa – not as straight forward, not as fruity but maybe that’s just my prejudice showing. I like them a bit off-dry unless it’s bubbly Vouvray where brut is usually the style. About this particular wine, I’m not sure there’s a lot available still. There is another label that seems in higher volumes – 2014 Charles Bove Vouvray #448563 $17.95 – with exceptional reviews, so pick one up and you will shout “Hurray For Vouvray!” A great wine that’s usually overshadowed by Sancerre.

carteressesHey, just as I was finalizing editing this post (Thursday evening), I opened a chilled bottle of 2015 Domaine de Carteresses Tavel #739474 $18.95. I get it. I have a problem with rosés. And that kind of works against my pledge of cutting back on the wine mid-week – tomorrow, I’ll cut back – promise. Wait, it’s Friday tomorrow. Anyway, I’ve raved about this wine before but this vintage seems a bit better then previous. Not quite as crisp as the Côtes de Provence that you may have had. This Tavel really provides a hint at what people are talking about when they say that Tavel is the red wine drinker’s pink. No time to write notes. Suffice to say that it’s fuller-bodied than most rosés – rounder, deeper, almost red winish.  Absolutely love this stuff!

Cheers.

Bill

It’s Time to Pack – The Rosé Daily Slosh

21 Jun

Nostalgia. Saw jacksoul opening for James Brown years ago having never heard them before. Haydain Neale was mesmerizing. His was a loss to Cool.

I love this time of year! No, seriously, I love it. “Why do you love it, Bill?”

sunset3

Best sunsets ever

Glad that you asked. I love the anticipation of heading to the cottage – the start of summer. We were at the lake for a few days in May but not since. You see it’s a 3.5 hour drive each way and requires packing, unpacking, finding stuff that people have moved  (AARGH!), making beds, etc. So, an overnight isn’t in the cards. Plus, this year, I haven’t been up to do my usual “annual project”. Not sure why. I know “the annual” is the stairs down to the water but I haven’t grown any ambition over the past two months to get up there, work a bit, drink beer and wine with the guys helping. Suffice to say that I will waste a bit of my summer working. But, working in Muskoka on the lake is a high class problem, right?

And, I will need some wine to support the intellectual and physical labour. So, here goes:

Let’s just head to the main event – rosé. I realize that some of these are repeats from my annual Rosés for The Dock post but they are included in this weekend’s (June 25) release so I thought it bears repeating. Odd that “New Arrivals” at the mother ship are, in fact, “Old Friends” that never left. I will post on reds and whites later in the week.

I was in NYC last month and we hit a rooftop bar in the Meatpacking District populated by millennials with money. It was scary. The cliché is mullenials still on their parents cellphone plan. But these looked pretty independent. Great looking men and women. angelLoads of financial wherewithal clearly evident. The friend that had got us in to the place was considering a glass of wine and I suggested that, if she liked rosé, she would love the 2015 Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel #325076 $26.95. She did. This is one of the better if not the best Provence rosés at this price point (or perhaps at any price point) in most years. This vintage doesn’t disappoint. It’s citrus, crispy goodness. If you’ve been playing along at home, you know that my ‘go to’ rosé is most likely a Tavel. But, I love Provence pinks – particularly to have with something light or just on their own. I realize that there are many pinks at a little less of a tariff. But, splurge and quietly enjoy this by the lake with friends (imaginary and otherwise). Interesting that the imaginary ones always seem to enjoy the wine and it takes a little longer to get through the bottle.

chateaulatourStaying with Provence wine, the 2015 Château La Tour de l’Évêque #319392 $19.95 is a repeat offender here. I wrote of it in a past post here. Yes, I absolutely love it!

Tawse makes great stuff and their swing at rosé is no exception. The”Sketches” portfolio is an entry level wine but the only rosé that Tawse makes, I believe. Their 2015 Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rosé #172643 $16.95  is full value. Definitely dry but maybe a teeny bit sweeter profile. My earlier review is here.

triompheStaying close to home, the 2015 Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Franc Rosé #279117 $19.95 is a dry, citrusy, cherries and smack kind of wine. It’s organic too. A solid pick. Read my review of Southbrook Estates here. Great peeps doing good work. I like Cabernet Franc from Niagara and maybe that’s why a rosé made from it is appealing to me. Not surprising that rosé carries the fingerprint of the grape(s) from which it is made. In this case, herbal and quite aromatic. And, it looks delicious too. And, you know darling that it is more important to Louk Mahvelous than to Feel Mahvelous.

sorbaraI know that this is a rosé post supposedly, but there’s a wine that I’m going to try that you might find interesting – 2014 Cantina di Carpi e Sorbara Omaggio a Gino Friedman Lambrusco di Sorbara #419101 $15.95 is a sparkling red made from the Lambrusco grape. Now, before you concur up memories of Castelvetro or Baby Duck, this isn’t sweet or heavy handed. The Lambrusco di Sorbaras that I’ve had before were ‘pretty tasty’* and went well with charcuterie. Give it a try and let me know.

Cheers.

Bill

*The DuffWines rating scale and DuffsWines tasting terms are copyrighted. Accordingly, the use of the term “pretty tasty” without prior expressed written permission from Duffswines Inc. LLP. Corp. is strictly prohibited.

Quick Picks – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

10 Jun
socks

Bill’s Cool Socks?

I’ve had very little time in the last week or so to attend to my writing. What with sorting my sock drawer, drinking wine, grooving a faulty golf swing, drinking wine, solving the puzzle that is Elbowgate, drinking wine, and watching the Trump-a-mania drama, I haven’t had a lot of time. Hell, the last one is a full-time job if CNN coverage is any indication. A train wreck really and I can’t stop rubbernecking. What about you? Seriously.

But, I wanted to provide a couple quick recommendations for the June 11 release at the mother ship:

Two medium-bodied Washington wines are solid picks:

majesticThe 2013 Diversion Majestic Red #446997 $18.95 is a red blend – can’t seem to find the varieties utilized but am assuming there’s Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon as the biggest component. Fresh, earthy, lightly oaked, and decadent. Great summer evening wine.

sevenfallsmerlot2011 Seven Falls Merlot #420711 $19.95 is medium-bodied and chocolatey goodness. I used to do this regular or semi-regular wine tasting at the place I worked for. There was a person who attended almost every one that could sense chocolate in anything from this Merlot to Champagne to balsamic vinegar. At first, I thought it was a peculiarity of her palate. But later, I realized that she was just projecting her addiction to chocolate on to the wine. “I get a lift of Lindt in the glass with solid Ghiardelli 70% cocoa on the finish.” This wine as the one above would be a nice summer evening wine.

Just a quick aside: if you have never tried wines from Washington State and I know many of you haven’t because I see a lot of nodding heads out there, it’s time. The state makes some of the most structured Syrahs, bold Cabernet Sauvignons and solid Rieslings that come from south of the border. At the LCBO, there are always lots of Charles Smith’s offerings (Velvet Devil Merlot, Smith & Smith Red, Smith & Smith Chardonnay, Kung Fu Riesling, and occasionally his ‘K’ Vintners stuff) plus the Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest stuff that I’m always hawking. Start there and see what I’m talking about.

LAURA'S2012 Creekside Laura’s Red #117960 $19.95 a blend of six varieties, I tasted this at the cellar door. Creekside has a fantastic reception facility with great nibbles. Check out my recommendations on visiting that area here. I find this wine to be joyful. I would usually save that descriptor for a lighter, perhaps bubbly wine. But, in this case, I like that it’s local (feeling a little joy there), expressive (joy is building), and so drinkable (Level 11 joy reached – time to open another?). Although you could match this to many dishes, I like it neat.

nadjaStaying in Niagara, there is a bottling which I get every year – the Flat Rock Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling #578625 $24.95. I haven’t tried the 2015 which is this week’s feature, but I can bet that it is dominated by a streak of acidity that’s juicy and stoney. Great citrus and foodability built in. Plus, I’ve cellared this for anywhere from 5 – 10 years with nice development.

nemesisA Shiraz used to be my ‘go to’ back when I started this journey of wine exploration. It was reasonably priced, interesting and always available. Lately (as in the past 5 years), I haven’t been partaking in the Aussie take on that grape much. Not sure why – just don’t seem as interested as before. This week, though, there’s a Shiraz that I love. I think the fact that it’s more subtle, interesting than some of the other efforts. The 2013 Zonte’s Footstep Baron von Nemesis Shiraz #212936 $17.95 is a dry, spicy, powerful Shiraz perfectly suited to lamb, burgers, something burnt with a bit of fat. Swirl and sniff this beauty. Go ahead, I’ll wait – sniffing noises off stage – there you go – complexity even for a nose as large and unsophisticated as mine. I’m not fond of big with no point. This has a purpose – it’s your pleasure. I reviewed another Zonte’s Footstep offering here and the 2012 Nemesis here. A consistently excellent label.

delhommeauWhat would a summer late-afternoon-evening-sit-outside-with-friends-and-nibbles be without a Muscadet? OK, it would still be fine – even without all the hyphens and Muscadet. But it would be best with a bottle of über chilled 2013 Michel Delhommeau Cuvée Harmonie Sur Lie Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine #164624 $16.95. This isn’t quite as crisp as most Muscadets. It has a bit of roundness, ripeness to it. Sur Lie means the lees are not filtered out adding depth. This one demonstrates that. If you’re a score chaser, this didn’t score 90 (88) but it’s 3 and 1/2 fishes on the duffswinesscale®. For the uninitiated that’s pretty fine.

cotodeimazI’ve been drinking the 2010 Coto de Imaz Reserva #23762 $22.95 by the case the past………..well, would you believe month? OK, past weekor so…………..and not quite a case but still too much. This was the first Rioja I ever bought by the case. I like it in most years and love it in the rest. If you were to roll up all your great Rioja wine experiences and then sip this, you’d say, “Yeah – that be it.”. Pure old school Rioja. Sandalwood, cherries and beautiful tannins. If you can find some after I’m done – stock up. Thinking rockinredblog here but play Jimi Hendrix All Along The Watchtower while you drink this. Perfect pairing.

And, if I’m honest (and, “I’m nothing if not honest,” he smirked) I’ve been supplementing my Rioja fixation with a little (read: a lot) of the rosé. Particularly the 2015 Carte Noir Côtes de Provence #319384 $17.95. This is crisp, sunny, and has an almost salty character to it. I read somewhere (or I’m making it up) that wine appreciation follows a definite curve as people become more aware and grow older – from bubbly to sweet rosé to sweetish white to dry white to dry red to Champagne and then to rosé. Due to my lack of funds, I skipped the Champagne part but am all-in 0n the last one.

And, since no one not called ‘Bot’ could score any Hip tickets, here’s a treat. Listen to the love. Hard to imagine any other group getting this kind of reaction from a staid Toronto crowd. I can’t imagine what the farewell tour will be like. Tickets on resale at $1000 and up – crazy.

Cheers

Bill

%d bloggers like this: