Archive | November, 2016

Thanks Redux – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

25 Nov

 

OK, I’m hooked on “Live at Daryl’s House”. It could be a problem. And who the hell is Diane Birch – she rocks.

Spent US Thanksgiving Day (or, as we call it ‘Yanks-giving’) at Joe Kool’s watching the Lions win and doing my part for the craft beer industry. It’s kind of like cheating – getting 2 TG’s – the second minus the turkey. Allowable substitutes – chicken wings and pizza. Advice to my friends south of the border – grab a secondary TG and celebrate with us in October – catch the Aaaaargos and Ticats going at it. Osca-wee-wee. If you don’t know, don’t ask.

This week there are some very special wines at the upper end of the spectrum – ’13 Sassicaia ($212.95), ’13 Luce ($114.95), ’12 Elderton Command Shiraz ($89.95 – I opened an ’02 this past summer and, despite the 13 years, I still had to wrestle it into the glass – it was that proud and brawny – a beaut), ’14 Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay ($111.95). Alas, my pocketbook (does anyone use a ‘pocketbook’ anymore?) was stretched getting a couple bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau this week. Yes, that was me standing on the boulevard with a sign and the squeegee.

rotllantorraBack in Realsville, there are some good value wines. Let’s start at a place that I really, really love – Priorat. Despite my love for the reds of Priorat, there are two things that get in the way of me pounding them regularly – cost and the need for them to age (requiring patience on my part. Those that know me realize that I have none). So, we are in luck when a wine from there shows up ready to drink and at a reasonable price point – 2011 Rotllan Torra #267989 $19.95. I’ve recommended the ’10 of this cuvée before with much enthusiasm. I even received feedback from the son of a friend that it was one of the better wines he’d served to friends. The review of the ’10 is here. I was lucky enough to taste this ’11 vintage just prior to penning this. It is powerful with minerality and dustiness. A bit more structured than the ’10 – a longer life maybe? A fine wine requiring some substantial food. “Brings back memories,” he says, choking back a sob.

balbasStaying in Spain, the 2005 Balbas Reserva #085183 $22.95 is back in stock. The mother ship must have bought a million cases of this. I picked up a couple of bottles not more than a month ago on discount for $18 – what up with that? This is at least the third time through as a “New Arrival”. This makes you feel so good inside – good inside (un homage to Carole King). It is full value at under $25.

bjnewBeaujolais Nouveau was released last week and I tasted a few. The one that I like the best is the 2016 Georges Deboeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau #932780 $15.95. It is exactly what this stuff is supposed to be – fresh, fun, fruity. There’s a joke just hanging there but it may not be appropriate to think it, let alone type it. My first nouveau was called Screech and Porch Climber Nouveau and crafted lovingly by my father from Marechal Foch grapes and aged in the family basement for…..oh…. at least a week. Oh, it was fresh. Fresh and sulfury. My father dreaded the possibility of contamination (not wanting to kill his friends) so he infused each vintage with enough sulphur to kill bacteria residing in the neighbouring county. The good news? I haven’t had the flu in forty-five years. Plus, he made so much of it that my friends and I could quaff (read: guzzle) a few bottles without him knowing. Where was I? Oh yeah, talking about Georges DeeBee. Pick up a bottle or two of this for the holidays. It’s perfect before noon – light, fresh, moderate alcohol. The funky label tells you what kind of wine is inside the bottle.

koyleAnother red that would be a great wine to stock for the holidays is the 2013 Koyle Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon #256073 $19.95. This is light version of cab sav. Which is why I like it. Very good for standing, sipping, engaging in intellectually stimulating discussion (Trump, what else?) at a holiday dinner party. It has the typical cassis aromas and flavours so you’ll know it’s cab sav and fine on it’s own.

crabOn the white side, there’s a returnee – 2015 D’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier/Marsanne #662775 $17.95. This is a Rhone blend. Here’s what I’d think you ought to do. Buy this and mix it up with the usual white suspects like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Chardonnay. I will bet heavily that company will notice this wine – round mouthful and then a nice crisp finish that comes as a bit of a surprise. Lovely with simple seafood. Break out of the rut.

My splurges this weekend are going to be the 2013 Montes Purple Angel a Carmenere bomb that just gets better and better with a little time down below. And, I’m getting the 2012 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin from the Okanagan – a great example of how rockin’ they are in ‘The Other Valley’.

Cheers.

Bill

The Instituto del Vino Italiano di Qualità Grandi Marchi – Toronto, October 18th #SundaySips

13 Nov

grandi-marchi

On October 18th, I attended the Grandi Marchi at the Royal Ontario Museum. I was going to break this into two posts to avoid readers nodding off but…..

What is the Instituto del Vino Italiano di Qualita Grandi Marchi? I had the same question. From the event pamphlet: “The Instituto del Vino Italiano di Qualita Grandi Marchi is the result of determination and enthusiasm of some of Italy’s most important producers to promote premium quality Italian wines to the world……..One of the Institute’s major goals is to provide leadership and direction in the development of quality Italian wine in world markets.” It’s kind of the Italian equivalent to the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux, it seems. And I suppose that, since the mother ship is the largest purchaser of wines and spirits, an appearance in Toronto was in order.

Royal Ontario Museum

Royal Ontario Museum

Just a quick word about the venue. If you’ve been, I don’t need to say much. But, if you haven’t, think of a grand hall with marble statuary, a spectacular crystal treatment on Bloor, columns (Corinthian?), and old shit scattered about inside. Why don’t I just show you a picture of our host.

fuggy

Now, the wines. Most Italian DOC’s and DOCG’s were represented. I’m only going to talk about the highlights and/or wines generally available in wider distribution. They are in no particular order but the more cryptic my notes get, the later in the evening they probably were. Sorry, but I did swallow much of it and it’s awkward holding your glass, juggling the tasting notes book, making notes, dropping your pen, picking it up, spilling your wine, stumbling into a well dressed woman – you get the picture.

The wines:

Carpene Malvolti

carpeneCarpene Malvolti 1868 Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Brut #727438 $18.95 this is a wine that I’ve recommended before and it was a great start to the evening. Extremely dry, toasty notes. Great value and a Prosecco to celebrate not berate. Available starting February 4, 2017

Carpene Malvolti Spumante Brut Rose #474460 $19.95 Liked this wine. Quite dry as well. Hint of red fruits – strawberries. Perfect holiday season bubbly. Available starting December 10, 2016. I’m going to get a few for the holidays.

Donnafugata

sedara2014 Donnafugata Sedara #900274 $16.95 A blend with Nero d’Avola and native varieties. Very dry, as in, “Please drink me with food”. Despite the fact that I had no food, I liked this medium-bodied red. Great value, particularly on a night like this. Available starting December 10, 2016. I’ll try to remember to recommend for you before that release.

2014 Donnafugata Ben Ryé #568063 $42.00 (375 ml) This is a wine from the DOC Passito di Pantelleria. Where is that, you ask? It’s a small historically strategically important island between Sicily and Tunisia. My archaeologist son has dug there and tells me that it’s particularly beautiful. The wine is a dessert wine – nutty, dried fruits, apricots. I’m not a big dessert wine fan but this was nice – just wish I’d waited until I was actually through with the others. Only available at the event.

Gaja

2013 Gaja Barberesco #92080 $279.00 Here’s the thing: The Director was with me and she only drinks white wines due to a red wine headache issue. She sniffs the ones that I rave about and usually says, “Cannot see what you’re raving about. Smells awful.” The strategy that night when we went to a table that only had red wines was for her to ask for a sample of a red too, we’d step aside and I’d get to sample both. At Gaja, I suggested she get the Barberesco while I sampled the one below. She swirled the Barberesco, sniffed and said (I kid you not), “This smells very nice.” Ventured a sip and said, “If I didn’t get headaches, I think that I’d like to drink this.” Sure. The $279 wine, she likes! This wine was as promised. Powerful elegance if that”s possible. Perhaps the nicest wine of the night. Just wish I could pull the trigger on a wine this pricey.

2013 Gaja Ca’Marcanda Camarcanda #174342 $184.00 This is a wine from DOC Bolgheri in Tuscany. Like many people, I know Gaja as Langhe, Barolo, and Barberesco primarily. So, I was particularly interested in trying this wine and seeing if he brought the same attention to terroir to this effort. Bingo. This is a Super Tuscan – so Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other international grapes rather than Sangiovese. Cassis overflowing on the swirl but hiding a bit on the sip and swish. Very present tannins and a nice acid kick on the finish. A food wine that requires a decent time in the basement. Only available at event.

Lungarotti

lungarotti2I chatted up a guy at this table that had already tasted the Lungaotti offerings. I asked him what he thought of the four offerings. He said, “I’m going to wait until you taste, then we’ll talk.” I tasted and well we were in agreement on the best wine for us and it wasn’t what most others were expecting and assuming. A cool moment to be sympatico with another geek in front of thousands. Well, in front of The Director and this guy’s eye candy, at least.

2009 Lungarotti Rubesco Monticchio Riserva #51771 $51.00 This is a DOCG Torgiano Rosso Reserve wine and if that doesn’t get your heart racing, let me say that it is beautifully crafted. In the swish and swallow – spices, liquorice, and chocolate. Is that even possible? Man, I love this wine! And it still has loads of stuffing to get you through the next 10 years. Who am I kidding, this won’t last that long at my place. Only available at event.

1997 Lungarotti Rubesco Torgiano Riserva #473975 $51.00 As I stood at this table, people stepped up and were jonesing to try the oldest wine there – the 1997. Age is as seductive in wine as it is in male wine bloggers. The older we get, the more attractive we become. I can’t explain it – weird but true. Anyway, everyone wanted the 1997 – it had to be great, right? Many even seemed to nod and spit appreciatively. They were wrong. Oh, it is mature, spicy, but seemed to be getting to dried fruit a bit too much for me. It was very good but the 2009……… Only available at event.

Marchesi Antinori

antinoriI have several Antinori wines in my basement (Tignanello, Badia a Passignano among others). I like this family winery. But, this was a bit of a disappointment from a service perspective. The rep was buddying up with a crowd of guys off to the side (you wine geeks know what I mean – the guys that buy a shitload and know not what they buy aside from the badge). But I could be wrong. Well, that’s silly to say – I’m never wrong. Regardless, that didn’t detract from the wines.

2013 La Braccesca Vino Nobile di Montepulciano #473694 $25.00 This is another special wine I tasted. And, it’s not just because it was later in the night. I still had loads of palate agility and sensitivity left. Well, loads is overstating it a bit. This Sangiovese with a bit of Merlot had cherries – not the red sour type that seem to come with sangiovese but the black sweetish ones. Toasty notes. My notes say, “Cherries, cherries, cherries – and coffee.” This is a great value Tuscan. Only available at event.

2014 Prunotto Mompertone Monferrato Rosso #388587 $18.95 Quick review – burn some burgers or other red meats and pop a cork on this. Barbera and some other stuff. Available starting February 4, 2017.

Mastroberardino

This was the table that I was most interested in. We get a ton of wine from other Italian regions but Campania is underrepresented. I don’t get much opportunity to taste this stuff. Plus, I had a boatload of it two years ago when I was in Camopania. FYI, a ‘boatload’ is just a ‘tich’ less than a ‘shitload’. Never mind what a ‘tich’ is.

greco2014 Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo #568105 $19.95 This is a grape that even California doesn’t try to monetize. It must be difficult to manage and the payoff would require a massive marketing campaign – “greco de what?” This is a perfect summer white wine. Perfect is strong praise and this particular wine carries that label proudly. Light, yet flavourful. Crisp, yet cool and refreshing. Bring on the seafood! Love it! Available at LCBO locations now.

2009 Mastroberardino Radici Riserva Taurasi #683615 $56.00 I really like Taurasi. I’m not sure what it is that does it for me but it just seems to best represent the volcanic soils, mountains and beauty of Campania. It can be rough – Anglianico is like that, but I like it rough – wink, wink, nudge, nudge. However, this particular wine was a long, long way from ready to drink. I’m thinking 5 to 10. Liked the hint of dark fruits that it showed but wanted a little less obfuscation before it made the grade. Only available at event.

2011 Matroberardino Radici Taurasi #340562 $53.00 Now, here is the weird thing. This 2011 is good right friggin’ now while the more mature cuvée is many years off. I know the older one is a riserva but it shouldn’t make that much difference. This is an Aglianico bomb! Big, dark, earthy, anisey. Muscular, full-bodied and bringing little heat as it’s only 13.5% ABV. Now, we’re talking.  I want this wine in my cellar. Only available at event.

Tasca d’Almerita

Have I told you that a bucket list wine trip is Sicily? Well, it is. Cannot wait.

maria2014 Tasca d’Almerita Guarnaccio Perricone #473934 $21.00 This is a Sicilian beauty like Maria Grazia Cucinotta (at left). Only you get to actually keep this in your basement. That didn’t come out right but hopefully you get it. I wondered why they called it ‘Perricone’ until the penny dropped and I realized that the variety of grape is ‘Perricone”. This is full on. Loads of spunk from the alcohol (15% ABV) and dark, dark fruits. I loved this wine and felt at this price point – it’s great value. Super spicy and ready for some marinated grilled portobellos or red meat. Only available at event.

Umani Ronchi

This table was a pleasant surprise! So, what does a white wine only drinker do at these events? Particularly when the bulk of the ‘cool’ wines are red? Well, they mill around at the tables that promote white wines – like Umani Ronchi. And, The Director did just that. This table was great in all areas. The rep was educational to a deep, deep (did I say it was deep?) level and the wines were just what the doctor or Director ordered.

umani-ronchi2015 Casal di Serra Verdicchio Dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore #268169 $18.00 This wine was the hit of the night. Given that we were tasting Pio Cesare Barolos, Gaja Barberescos, Sassicaia, Chiarlo Barolos, it’s a stretch to say that an $18 wine won the night. But, I am nothing if not attentive to the needs and wants of my wife. This particular wine was floral on the nose, round enough for a Chardonnay hound and ethereally light. I gave it three check marks on my scoring scheme of check marks and ‘blahs’. Pears and citrus are my main notes on this. Lovely sipping wine for white wine aficionados. Only available at the event.

So that’s it. What did I buy, you ask? Well, I had to have me (apologies to grammar teachers everywhere) the Umani Ronchi Verdicchio, the Mastroberardino Taurasi 2011, the Perricone, the Antinori La Braccesca, and the 2009 Lungarotti. I mean they took Visa and I have 21 days to clear the account, right?

In summary, if you get a chance to partake in this event in your hamlet, don’t hesitate. There are some wines that don’t show well in this type of event, as usual, and there will be human wine nuisances at many tables. But, plow through and enjoy the wines of the best wine country in the world, IMHO.

Cheers.

Bill

#RememberThem – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

10 Nov

poppy

I want to mention tomorrow’s (November 11th) day of remembrance. Many people take this day to remember special selfless people important in their lives who served their country. My hero is Capt. F.R. Dufton of the Royal Canadian Engineers, 1st Army Survey Corps. Very, very proud of my dad – mentioned in dispatches BTW. #RememberThem The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Take a moment of silence wherever you are. I know I will.

The wine, Bill, the wine. This week’s release features ‘star’ wines. That means (and you might have to turn up your sound because I’m going to whisper), “Expensive wines.” But there are mid-priced and wines that better fit my usual recommendations as well.

Like many an evening, let’s start with bubbly. I often recommend Cremant de Bourgogne as a not quite substitute for Champagne. Last week we had friends over and started with a bottle of the Louis Bouillot Perle d’Or Cremant #51565 $24.95. As we cleaned up the next morning, The Director asked me what we had and said that although she doesn’t usually have more than a single glass of bubbly, she lapierreloved the Perle – as evidenced by the empty bottle. So, I bought a few more to store for the holidays and should have maybe waited until this Saturday to pick up the Bailly LaPierre Réserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne #991562 $19.95 to get a little variety. This one is more citrusy than the Perle but the bubbles are tight carrying some acidity on the finish – tart but lovely. A great way to start any evening.

bisquerttSince I don’t get the invite to the LCBO tastings pre-release and unlike my blogpals to the south I don’t get samples sent to me by importers (we are nothing if not Victorian on such matters – not complaining – glad to live here at this moment in time – blog for another day), I have to bang on cellar doors, buy a bunch of wine on spec so to speak and hope that some day they will show up on the shelves so that I can talk about them. The 2014 Bisquertt La Joya Gran Reserve Sryah #325407 $17.95 is one of those last wines. I had this some time ago and my notes say, “Compares very favourably with the Montes Alpha Syrah – in style, punch (can’t remember what the hell I meant by that), and softness.” That’s high praise from me as I love Montes Alpha Syrah in most vintages. This Chilean Bisquertt wine is round and smooth. Lots of things to talk about – meaty, dark fruits, and just enough structure – not flabby. Great value and Syrah is a long, hard chase for value! But, then again, I love Côte Rotie, Hermitage, and Saint Joseph. Have I ever told you the Côte Rotie story when I …………..Never mind.

As I scan the release publication, I notice that there are a ton of great value Chilean and Argentinean wines – Susana Balbo Malbec, Perez Cruz Limited Edition Cab Sav, Laura Catena’s La Posta Pizzella Malbec, Kaiken Ultra Malbec. You can’t go wrong with any of those and most likely the in-store consultant will be aware of these and point you in that direction.

badiaBut….drum roll……since they are pimping pricier wines, I have to tell you about the 2010 Antinori Badia a Passignano Gran Selezione Chianti Classico #384552 $44.95. Ramble: I just re-arranged my wine cellar to accommodate a beautiful set of oak shelves graciously provided to me by a friend through his daughter and son-in-law – shout out to J & P. As I rearranged, I discovered that I was overweight in Tuscany, Bordeaux, and Spain. Now, that’s a high class problem to solve. So, why would I want to stock up on this particular wine? I mean, it’s Tuscan. It will contribute to a situation that offends my suspected OCD balance needs. Why? Because my tasting notes say that it’s and I quote here, “Good shit!!!”  I mean:  “sniff – good shit; swish – good shit; swallow and finish – really, really good shit”. Now, that description may not qualify me for WSET Level 4 status but I think you get the picture. This wine is one of my favourite cuvées, year-in, year-out. It might be the best mid-priced wine that I buy on the basis of consistent excellence. In this vintage, everything is ready, in balance, and just so expressive. T – E – double R- F – I – C! You know what this means? I will have to buy even more American, Canadian, and South American wines to balance things out. Damn! But you know what? They are releasing the 2012 Bethel Heights Estate Pinot Noir, the Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage, and the 2013 Foxen Block 43 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir this weekend too. I hate it when that happens.

zisolaI had the benefit of tasting through a bunch of wines from Sicily last month. They reminded me of two things: 1) I really want to go to Sicily; 2) Both white and red wines from Sicily are very rewarding. This week, there’s the 2013 Mazzei Zisola #303925 $18.95. This is a biggish, powerful wine. Loads of fruit – figs, raisins too. I think that you might want to let it sit open for a few hours or just give it to me and I’ll put it in my new rack (remember the new rack?) and I’ll keep it for you.

henryWe go through a lot of Chardonnay at our house. Chardonnay may not be the ‘style’ anymore, people might sneer and look askance but, what the hell, we like it – a lot – Burgundy, Central Coast, Lodi, PEC, Niagara………..One of the local Chardonnays we like is the Henry of Pelham Estate Chardonnay #268342 $19.95. This week it’s the 2014. This is a classic Chardonnay in that it has everything but not too much of anything – a streak of acidity, tree fruit and some creaminess and citrus on the finish. Powerful. Like it a lot.

That’s all this week. Just a reminder for those that I might see over the holidays. You are surely wondering what to bring to the house when you visit or perhaps a presssie for Yours Truly. I really like the Badia a Passignano. What I mean by that is I really, really like it. It seems a pretty appropriate gift to me. And that gift may encourage me to open something ‘better’ when you visit – just sayin’.

Cheers

Bill

%d bloggers like this: