Archive | September, 2016

Schmeet Spot Rant – The Red Daily Slosh

29 Sep

A little Cape Breton music. Travel there and you might get to sit in on a ceilidh.

I just came back from Cape Breton Island and, if you haven’t heard, there was a cheeky campaign to lure Americans there should Donald Trump win. Check it all out here. Absolutely beautiful place. But, then again, I was there in September not February. Best people ever.

I’m told by many that my recommendations are a bit higher cost-wise than their particular ‘sweet spot’. I agree that the prices on duffswines have crept up over the years. But, a financial sweet spot? You should adjust. For example, think back to the first car you bought that had power windows or air conditioning. OK, I know that I’m old and dating myself but I do remember crank windows and family trips in cars that you would now be charged for leaving your dog in. So, we all get used to air conditioning in our car. You might have had a sweet spot for car beaterprices but you’ve adjusted to incorporate the cost of options and must-haves such as A/C. Car buyers understand that you usually expect to get what you pay for. No one would say to you, “I think my $4,000 favourite used car is as perfectly nice, dependable, and comfortable a car as you can get. And, I wouldn’t know the difference between driving it and your Lexus.” But wine drinkers are always doing that. I hear that people think that their $4 home made wine is just as good as, say, the wines that I’m recommending below. Well, I can’t argue with what is clearly wrong. “It isn’t as good to anyone but you,” I feel like screaming. “And, BTW, you’re wrong! You can tell the difference!” I could go on but I’m suggesting that you think of the wine first and the price second – that’s all. Well not quite. Think of the wine first and the price second and also keep an open mind to the experience – that’s all. Well, one more thing, actually. Do those two things and then send me an email about how right I am. That I’ve opened your mind to the $25 and up wines. Yes, I’m being a wine snob. Or, maybe I’m just trying to justify the prices of my recommendations this week. I’m OK with that too.

The mother ship is pimping Tuscan and Rioja wines this weekend. In the case of the Tuscan stuff, that means you might end up spending a lot of money and having to explain the credit card balance to your significant other by suggesting that you were buying for her, ergo, she shouldn’t check the cellar or risk ruining the surprise. Who would use such a transparent tactic?

crognoloFirst a Tuscan wine that represents a bit more than a Daily Slosh – 2013 Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo #727636 $29.95, This is perhaps the best priced Super Tuscan ever. And, you pronounce that EH-fer. A blend of Sangiovese and Merlot. Drinking right now with well integrated tannins, still fresh and lip smacking. Wood there but barely noticeable. In perfect balance. I think that you could cellar this for a few years more. I’d love this with a tomato sauce pasta – maybe some cheesy, tomatoey veggie lasagne. If you’re into scores – James Suckling gives this a 95! My Good Shit meter gives it a ‘Really, Really’.

castello-di-amaThe 2010 Castello di Ama San Lorenzo Gran Selezione Chianti Classico was Wine Spectator’s #6 wine of 2014 or ’15. I jumped at the chance to buy a few when the LCBO had it at somewhere around $30. Now, they have the 2011. If you check the assessment of the 2010 vintage versus the 2011, you might think that there’s a fall off (96 to 93). But, seriously, does your palate know the difference when they are both great? Mine doesn’t. I mean I can tell the difference between vintages when they’re uncharacteristically wet, cold or just plain shitty. But, when they’re generally excellent, a point one way or the other is a waste of consideration IMHO. This week, the 2011 Castello di Ama San Lorenzo Gran Selezione Chianti Classico #418897 $48.95 is in store. I know, I know. It’s s stretch to spend $50 on my recommendation. But, have I ever steered you wrong? Wait. Have I ever steered you wrong with the exception of the case of Chateau Corké that you bought? Let this sit for a couple years and then see what your sweet spot financial limit has to do with great wine.

dramatis-personaeOK, we’ll bring it down, as Tina Turner once said. I stumbled on a ‘sale’ wine at the Wonderland North store – shout out to Ken B. – the other day. Could it be? What the hell. I bought a couple. The 2010 Dramatis Personae #450650 $15.20 ($18.95 regular price) smells and tastes a lot like a Rioja. Sandalwood, cedar scents and solid red fruit, leathery stuff on the medium finish. I sniffed it and had to check the label to make sure I was smelling something from Argentina and not made with Tempranillo. It’s a Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda blend. Remarkably light in the mouth but still carrying loads of personality and power. I think it’s probably a year away from being spent but I think that I might drink a case of everyday wine between now and October 2017. Just sayin’ I’m a hard worker.

tre-saggiI love a wine with a name that I can fool around with. And, I’ve fooled with this wine in other vintages a few times. The 2013 Talamonti Tre Saggi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #204016 $15.95 is a repeat offender here. It is tres droopy, oui? This is great for sipping outside during the last weeks of al fresco weather. Doesn’t need food but, if you wish, something fingery would be great – mildly spicy peel and eat shrimp, decent mid-tang cheeses, and/or bread and oil. This has the effects of oak – toast, roundness, vanilla. It’s not what I would call ‘typical’ MdA in that it’s a bit less rustic than I’m used to. I love rustic but I really like this too.

chocolate-factoryAnd, just because I need to feed my habit, I’m going to pick up a few of the 2014 Zonte’s Footsteps Chocolate Factory Shiraz #396481 $17.95. If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll remember that I’ve recommended several of the offerings from Zonte’s Footsteps. In the other cuvees, their style is more on the lighter, fresher and less on the heavy, chewy. So is this.

And, just to review – chuck the ‘sweet financial spot’ approach and buy in to the ‘good wine first’ approach to selecting your slosh.



The Way It Is – The Red Daily Slosh

15 Sep

Love this song. Years ago, I tried unsuccessfully to get tickets locally to Bruce and Bonnie Raitt. Two people that I really want to see before my hearing goes.

As always upon returning from a week at the cottage, I pledge to drink less wine. “I will drink less wine! I……….umm…well….will drink a little less wine. Here’s hoping’ that I drink a little less wine.” Shit, who am I kidding? It’s just so damn good. Have to say that I like the buzz too. I’m not lyin’.

ardalSo, what to stockpile for the upcoming fall season. Nothing says ‘Fall’ like Iberian wine. So, I’m rushing back to the mother ship to pick up a mess of the 2006 Ardal Reserva #167700 $21.95. This was a host gift from friends visiting (thanks Rod and Nancy) and we quaffed it far too fast. It just said, “You want me, don’t you? Go ahead take me. Take me now! My generously full body is all yours.” Ok, I’m living alone during the week so I’m a bit distracted. But this wine is that kinda seductive. This is Tempranillo with 20% Cab Sav. The 20% provides a backbone that’s missing in a lot of Ribera del Duero reds of this age. If you’re an anti-woodite, steer clear. This has a bunch of sandalwood/cedar both on the nose and in your mouth, some vanilla with good grip on the finish. It has lots left – 5 years at least. A 10 year-old RdD of this stature is worth a lot more than the price tag. We had it with gourmet hamburgers (brie and blue cheese topping). Perfect.

mouraAnother host gift was the 2013 Aguia Moura em Vinhas Velhas Reserva #354738 $16.95. This is a Duoro red. Discovering red cherries and coffee at the finish. Full bodied with very present tannins throughout and a clear bite of acidity. Made from Touriga Franca and Tinto Roriz predominantly and aged 12 months in French oak. Great food wine and a value for sure. Not that many left locally but, if practice is any indication, keep an eye out for this same wine in a future release. If I see it, I’ll let you know.

gamayStarting to line up a few trips down to Niagara for the fall. One of my faves is Malivoire. Maybe it’s because I’m familiar with their stuff or maybe just because it’s a fun spot and their juice is good. They make a couple Gamays – a Small Lot one and their regular Gamay. This week, the regular Gamay – 2014 Malivoire Gamay #591313 $17.95 is available. This qualifies as ‘fun’ wine. That doesn’t mean inconsequential or non-memorable. But, just not serious as in, “Man, that’s a serious wine.” It’s Gamay as in “refreshing, mid-weight, medium-bodied, yummy.” Did I say it was fun? Juicy, lip smacking (is that just juicy a different way?). This is a late summer wine with something lightly charred – like lamb kabobs. Or, ignoring my pledge above, just by itself while watching those frustrating Blue Jays. Despite the fact that baseball is my favourite sport to watch, I’m pining for the NBA to startup. Go Raps! Come to think of it, this wine would go well with a Raps victory over the Cavs. But then again, it won’t cellar forever.

keinteStaying in Ontario, the 2013 Keinte-he Voyageur Pinot Noir #373407 $19.00 is a serious – notice a theme here? – wine. I’d say it’s a few years away from releasing some of the red fruit and easing up on the obfuscating acid and tannin. A very French or maybe Oregon-style Pinot. What I find interesting is that this wine is from Niagara grapes. You’re more likely to find this take from PEC, where this winery is located, than Niagara. If you prefer Rodney Strong’s entry level or Meomi-style Pinots, forget about this. This is power without the round and cloy (yes, a value statement). When we were there last year, I was taken with the winery. They focused on a few varieties and didn’t stray from a house style that, frankly, isn’t mainstream, Maybe that’s a function of lower inventory. They don’t have to please everyone. They had a splendid Gamay as well that’s available in a few stores. Slightly chill that one.

maneroYou’ll see below a pricier Tuscan blend but I’m not sure that you’ll find one much better under $30 than the 2013 Tenute del Cerro Manero #461855 $17.95. I almost always recommend Brancaia Tre as a perfect example of what Tuscan winemakers can do with a little freedom and imagination. But, I might have to change that to this cuvee. This is too tasty. Too tasty. And that’s two tasty’s? Softer than the Tre and much meatier, herby. It has a French nose – lavender and garrigue. Goes down smoothly with cherries on the finish. I love it and was hoping to see it again. If I don’t blow my budget on some other wines that I have my eye on, I’m going all in on this. You can never have too much gulpable Toscana.

Splurge a bit:

modus2012 Ruffino Modus #912956 $29.95 – This is smooth as………well, something that is really, really smooth – I don’t have the proper simile handy. A très tasty Tuscan blend in the spirit of much higher priced wines. Great right this minute. Impress a friend with this Super, Super Tuscan. Red fruits with a hint of the cassis of the Cab Sav in the blend. Perfect balance, medium finish. Elegant stuff. You will wish that you had a second bottle. In my case, a third bottle. Because I have to say that my pledge is failing.

Blind pick ups:

2013 Falesco Tellus Cabernet Sauvignon #454504 $15.95 – Hard to believe the price on this wine. In other vintages, it was a solid near flawless wine. No reason to suspect that this vintage is any different. Plus, it’s from Umbria. Go ahead and ask me why that’s significant.



Late But Timely? – The Red Daily Slosh

5 Sep

Just a little soul with one of the greatest of all time, Smokey Robinson. Shout out to Sara H.

I’ve been distracted and busy the past couple weeks. So, not very timely with these recommendations for the September 3rd release as it’s already the 5th. Rather than entertain you with a tale or two, let’s jump right to it.

montgoIf it’s Iberian value you love. And who doesn’t? You might want to buy a case of the 2012 Montgó Monastrell #452136 $13.95. Yes, that’s less than $14! Monastrell is Spanish for Mourvedre. So, if you love wines from Bandol or just Cotes du Rhone style GSM wines, this will meet your palate. It’s dry, spicy and full of fruit in the mouth more than swirling in your glass. BBQ wine for those last hot summer days.

gebratMy friend, Andrew, asked me if I’d tried 2014 Clos Gebrat CG+ #360511 $19.95 from my favourite wine region – Priorat. I hadn’t. So, I ran out yesterday and gulped down a bottle last night. Oh, I swirled it in the glass, made notes on the colour, sniffed, inhaled, and then……. I gulped it down. This wine is made by the co-op in Gratallops. When we were in Gratallops visiting Sao del Coster and Devinnsi wineries, we learned that the co-op had the community crusher. They piled it into the back of their truck and drove to the doorway of the local garage wineries to rent out the machine. Just parked it in the street. We visited wineries in Gratallops that probably couldn’t even accommodate the size of the crusher in their space. This wine is typical Priorat – big, high in alcohol (15% ABV), and dark Garnacha present and accounted for. Cariñena lurking in the background. Thanks, Andrew.

graetzTuscan sun? This week there’s a cheap NV Tuscan wine – Bibi Graetz Casamatta Rosso #330712 $15.95 that is a light, balanced red that you can serve as a sipper (at least, I drink it alone – that’s the wine by itself and me by myself – sadly alone. But, I don’t have a drinking problem unless you count the empties). But you can serve with something light Italian – margarita pizza?  Great value. The label, as are all Graetz’, is very cool.

I had a discussion with someone the other night about Pinot Noir. They preferred California Pinot over Burgundy. I think there are a lot of people out there that would agree. I’m thinking it might have to do with Burgundy’s need to age a bit before you scarf it down. Or, the California fruit over the lean earthiness of most Burgundy. Whereas many California Pinot is made to drink younger. Somewhere in between, in my experience, is New Zealand. Particularly Central Otago – lean, powerful, but still a bit of sexiness and accessible fruit. This week, there are two Kiwi Pinots that I purchase in most vintages:

rua2015 Avarua Rua Pinot Noir #295592 $27.95 is one of the Central Otago Pinots that I think is proper to very good value at this price. It is typical as described above but also has some herbal stuff. I’ve had this vintage and it’s a beaut but could use some more time to develop or a bit of a breather. Nothing better than to know that there is a good Pinot Noir nestled down below and waiting for a good screw……Corkscrew, that is.

2013 Auntsfield Single Vineyard Pinot Noir #361246 $31.95 is from the North island. This is more typical of Pinot with cherries, some earthiness, and a nice lip smacking finish. I have not had this vintage so can’t recommend the proper time to swill. Highly recommended just the same.

Untasted but of interest:

2010 Viña Real Reserva #094896 $21.95 I think I’ve had this vintage but can’t find any record of it. This is typically a very good example of a Rioja Reserva at this price point. Cellaring capacity but good now too. And, you will really impress your guests with a bottle or two of this and some meaty lamb or pork.

2013 Borgo Scopeto Borgonero #421396 $19.95 Had this in the 2009 and 2010 vintage then we lost contact. I blame myself really as I misplaced her email, FaceBook, Twitter, Snapchat, ……..addresses. But, now we stumble into each other. In those earlier vintages this was a big Toscana, full bodied with great bones. As I re-read my notes, I’m thinking that I quaffed those earlier vintages way too soon. So, let’s see if I can control my urges and leave one or two of these down below for a few years. But, I will have to drink one this week.

That’s it. Sorry for the delay. Have a great week – we are heading to the lake for some work, sun, food, and drink.




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