Archive | February, 2017

Language – The White Daily Slosh

24 Feb

 

 

quiche

Egg Pie

Somewhat relevant story: One day, when I was a jail guard as we served breakfast on a Sunday – which was a big deal because it was ‘brunch’ as in the inmates slept in, I let an inmate (one of the heavies) out of his cell and asked him to serve the other guys in the unit. He very seriously took a plate at a time and pushed it into the cell through a small latched door which I unlocked. The brunch that day was quiche. One inmate started to push the plate back out saying (and I might be paraphrasing), “What is this shit, man?” The inmate that was serving said, “It’s egg pie, you loogan. And it’s good so shut up.”  Quiche will forever be ‘egg pie’ to me. I think it but I never say it. That doesn’t sound like the same dish, does it?

Language is so fascinating, instructive, strongly communicating or unintentionally obfuscating, but many times very precise. And, it provides insight into identity. Colloquialisms, terms, grammar all contribute to our understanding of the speaker. We all judge people on the language they use. Do they sound as I sound? Are they using the Queen’s English at the level that passes my standards? And, don’t think we don’t all have standards. I, for one, judge the ‘like-sters” and the great Canadian ‘eh’. It’s not fair but regardless shut up with the ‘eh’, eh? Just the lot of a curmudgeon. Christopher Hitchens wrote a brilliant piece on the use of ‘like’ in Vanity Fair. Read it here.

Language used in wine descriptions also can help identify the speaker or writer. Wine novices and experts alike judge the writer on the terms, grammar, even style they use (never mind criticizing my punctuation. I know its woefully incorrect). When I hear wine descriptors like “unctuous” and “Maduro tobacco”, I just assume that the writer is: 1) being paid; 2) has some formal education in wine which needs some airtime; 3) is a serious person on the issue of tobaccos; and, 5) definitely not someone I want to drink wine with, unless Madura tobacco is the botanical name for weed. So, my goal linguistically is to be that someone that you’d enjoy drinking wine with. Or, should that be, “with whom you’d enjoy drinking wine”? Let me know.

Last week, I forgot to tell you about a Chilean Pinot Noir – 2014 Montes Alpha Pinot Noir #143214 $19.95 – a fabulous value – a large New World Pinot. On the mid-palate, some Maduro tobacco lurking underneath waves of Northern Lights #5. Really that good – worth twice the price. Case buy!

monteschardSo, this week (March 4th release), I don’t want to make the same mistake with their Chardonnay – 2014 Montes Alpha Chardonnay #390203 $19.95. This is a bright Chardonnay – fresh in the glass and yet bringing loads of rounder stuff in the swish and the swallow. Creamy finish without anything overdone. A very nice effort. Perfect as a food wine (herbed chicken) or just a Friday night sipper.

pacoI have to admit that I haven’t had a ton of Albariño over the years. I drink a bit when I’m in Spain and maybe a few times at home but it doesn’t seem to catch my eye in the store and hence, I don’t get it. Well, the 2015 Paco & Lola Albariño #350041 $17.95 can’t be missed on the shelf. It’s a colourful bottle and don’t tell me that labels aren’t important. It got me to pick this pretty wine up several vintages ago and every year since. This is from Rais Baixas DO in northwest Spain. If crisp was a picture it would look like this wine – crisp with almost an effervescence. Salinity too. This wine is all about seafood, lightly prepared, with some green scents like  cilantro or mint. If you’ve never had Albariño and you trend towards Sauvignon Blanc, ultra-dry Riesling, or dry Muscadet Serve et Maine, give it a try.

Floral? What does that mean to you? Would a review have more power if it said spring violets? Dripping honeysuckle, which sounds somewhat sexual. For me, I guess that I don’t extract the violets, honeysuckle, etc. that some tasters seem to do. It’s more of a sense of floral that I get – being visual – a scene of floral. And when I think of floral, it means certain wines for me – Viognier, Gewurtztraminer, and Torrontés.

pietromariniThere may be others and feel free to point them out in the comments section below.  But who doesn’t love Torrontés? Put your hand down in the back you’re just auditing the course. These wines can be floral bombs while still having loads of fruit, herbs, and lots of acidity. The 2015 Pietro Marini Torrontés #408443 $13.95 is a fairly light-weight representation of this grape. It is a superb sipper, lean by Torrontés standards (high altitude), minerally with lychee – I can do lychee. Pick up a few of these for warmer times. And it appears that warmer times are now. Thank you for this, Al Gore.

And yes, I was a jail guard. It paid the bills and had little to do with an undergrad in psychology. But it taught me about the unsexiness of boxer shorts, the origin of jeans hanging down below the crevice of one’s ass, the incredible abuse under which many men children were raised, and the inequality of access to justice in Canadian society. And, you thought it was all going to be fun lessons?

Cheers,

Bill

Remember: You can check the availability of each wine by clicking on the link (stock number and price), dropping down the city menu, choosing your city and clicking on Find Stores. Have fun.

Answers #SundaySips

19 Feb

answers

Well, ask a question and you shall receive answers. On Thursday I posted my usual pre-release recommendations. I started the post with a question about whether people finished off a bottle at the end of the evening or re-corked and savoured it the next day. I confessed to most often finishing it off under the condition that it was an extraordinary wine. Maybe I wasn’t clear that I do sometimes re-cork but that’s the exception.

The verdict is in, people have spoken and I’m thinking I have a problem (“No shit, Sherlock”). Most responders re-corked – red on the counter, white in the fridge – and savoured it the next day. Several felt that the wine changed for the better and that it was instructive and even of benefit to taste it with the extra evolution.

I agree. There is an evolution once oxygen has rattled the wine. It’s like a decant effect – some funk may get blown off, tannins integrate, and the wine opens up and tells us about its aspirations and the previous evening of neglect.

chdmI have listened and I have heard you. I can’t promise anything because tonight I’m opening a 2003 Pauillac (Ch. Duhart-Milon for the geeks out there). That’s VGS quality. And, my level of restraint post-first glass of great wine isn’t the best. Wish me luck.

Cheers.

Bill

Question – The Red Daily Slosh

16 Feb

Not to suggest that these guys are old but one of them is playing a tambourine. And he isn’t wearing a Sally Ann uniform either.

Question for all the wine peeps out there: At the end of the evening – a third of a bottle left, pump the bottle? Just put the cork back in and into’ fridge? No fridge? Or…..just have another glass and a half and finish the bugger off? That’s a question I ask myself many nights. I’ve been keeping score and trying to understand the variables that effect my decision – aside from the buzz level. It’s one thing only – the quality of the wine. Or, more accurately, how much I love the wine.

I’ve found that I’m not big on saving the wine for another day if it has provided a lot of interest and enjoyment. Although maybe, when I have a big day in front of me……..wait, there are no more ‘big’ days in front of me. Aside from the monthly sorting of the sock drawer – you need your wits about you for that, I must say. So for me, there’s really no reason to deny myself that last great glass, is there? Re-Cork the Ordinary – Quaff the Extraordinary!

angelsshareThis weekend’s release (Feb. 18) features a bunch of interesting Aussie wines – none of which I can comment on, unfortunately. Haven’t had them. But, in the spirit of supporting Aussie wines – I had a great Shiraz the other night – 2014 Two Hand’s Angel’s Share Shiraz #9480 $24.95. I’ve had the Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz #660043 $24.95 but on sale until Feb. 26th (good effort) and Bella’s Garden which is a special wine but have not had the Angel’s Share before the 2014. This is a big wine in the style of Aussie Shiraz that we’ve all come to love. However, it has another note under the power – class. Hard to put a solid experience of class into words – maybe it’s the way it opens, the balance, maybe it’s the clear chocolate notes and finish. Not sure. However, I’m assuming that the mother ship has some of this stashed away for another time – keep your head up. It’s cellar worthy too.

hopbaconoirStaying much much closer to home, the 2014 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Baco Noir #461699 #24.95 might be the best version of this wine that I’ve had. The Speck family does this grape better than anyone down in Niagara. This bottle will be a huge surprise to those that haven’t had a Baco above $12. Smoky, leathery on the nose, spicy on the swallow and finish. Big fruit. Cellar worthy. Some people I know never drink Niagara wines – just don’t like them. Maybe it’s from years ago. Maybe it’s people trying to convince them that they warrant another look. Not sure. But, you should drink what you love and love what you drink……….. unless I disagree with you. Then you’re just plain wrong and that’s not an alternative fact because I’ve held this belief for quite some time. Ergo, it’s true.

fiasco

Chianti Fiasco

Is anyone out there old enough to remember when Chianti was pure shit? I mean when enough white and unnamed varieties of grapes were added so that the final version was weak and confused. The good news? It was cheap. The bad news? Cheap meant that you bought a lot of it despite the experience.

Well, nowadays Chianti is anything but cheap or pallid. The rules have changed for the better. The other night a friend brought over a bottle of 2013 Chianti Classico full of cherries and acidity. It was a great effort. This weekend there are a few Chiantis to try – I haven’t had them in the vintage being offered but encourage you to pick one of them up or another Chianti Classico or Chianti Rufina that might catch your eye. The Frescobaldi, the Nippozano, the Gabbiano, the Lornano? It’s a perfect wine for the current weather and winter cuisine.

lagoneThere is a lovely Tuscan wine that I’ve had – 2013 Aia Vecchia Lagone Toscana #47690 $19.95. This is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc from Bolgheri. It’s very structured right now with tannins hitting pretty hard and up front – I should have left it to breathe longer or just sit down below until a little later. Full-bodied, powerful – darker fruits. This would be a great addition to any cellar despite the modest price. If you love Super Tuscans, pick this up for a special meal. FYI, a fellow blogger wrote a nice piece on this winery and some of their wines. You can read Jeff, The Drunken Cyclist’s piece here.

abaddombuenoLooking for a well aged red with loads of personality? Pick up the 2006 Abad Dom Bueno Crianza #244699 $15.95. This is so ready to drink – dark fruits filing the glass on the sniff – sandalwood and tea on the finish – tasty. I’ve reviewed this before and can only imagine that another year in bottle will be bringing to a close this wine’s window. So, pick up a couple, decant to remove some sediment that is present (or just pour carefully and leave a little in the bottom), and have with some cured meats, olives and tapas. Bierzo wines made from Mencia are tasty values and this is one. Hell, pick up three at this price. Four even.

grandtheatreA wine that I’m getting a few of is the 2014 Grand Theatre #468678 $20.95. Not because of the write up or past experience but because of our local theatre – The Grand Theatre – of which we’ve been subscribers for years. And, for whom my brother was the Head of Electrics for almost 25 years. Kind of a sentimental pick. A Bordeaux from Saint-Emilion – heavy on the Merlot. Hoping that it rewards my loyalty.

Cheers.
Bill

Remember: You can check availability of any wine by clicking on the link (product # and price), dropping down the city menu, choosing your city and clicking Find Stores. Good luck.

Time For A Quickie?

9 Feb

i-know-a-lot-about-wine

I had an SEO-website-functionality kind of guy send me an email (unsolicited, I might add) telling me where I might be able to use his help to improve my traffic and increase my business. Sell more. Be more…………….bigger. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I am pretty big already.

I’m thinking that 10% of the people that read my blog are people that I actually know. And to them, I’m a big deal. Then again, I’m on new meds to manage my delusions of grandeur. Uhhh…….. they may not be working.

The guy did get me to thinking that maybe I need to post more frequently than once every couple weeks to form a real relationship with the readers of the blog. Maybe a stronger relationship might lead us to a group project to build that cabin in the woods together, forage for ‘real’ food, make our own clothes from sustainable plants, study Vaishnava mantras, and grow some weed. Actually, I’m thinking in reverse order. Or, second best outcome would be that we’d exchange comments, read each others blogs, buy more wine. Not a bad second best.

In that spirit, this is a quick recommendation of three wines we’ve had in the past week or so (read: yesterday before dinner) that I feel are good value, tasty, and on top of all that very representative of the place they come from.

poggio-alla-guardiaThe 2013 Rocca di Frasinello Poggio Alla Guardia #25718 $18.95 has a pretty impressive pedigree. This Maremma Tuscan winery has an exceptional mid-priced red that is always full-value and an iconic Super Tuscan, Baffonero, that is reserved for tastings only for this poor scribe – it’s top drawer. So, what about the Poggio Alla Guardia? Well, it is so ready to drink right now. It’s a Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon blend that comes straight at you – a bit of browning already going on, a hint of old wood on the nose, and big ripe fruits in the mouth and on the finish. Superb Value! Reminds me a bit of the Brancaia Tre in style, sense, and heft. Great food wine. Also goes well with Rush. Just sayin’. We are travelling to the Maremma this September and I hope to connect with these folks.

creekside-iconoclastCreekside Estates in Niagara is an original winery there and has gone their own way to great success. Their 2013 Creekside Estates Winery Iconoclast #471797 $22.95 (it was on sale at Wonderland North mother ship check there before you pay full price) is a great example of striking out on their own. This is a Syrah and treated similarly to Northern Rhone Syrahs with a touch of Viognier. Hell, I didn’t even know that they grew Viognier in Niagara. And do they pull it off? Yes, they do. Now it has some spice/pepper but not in the strength that you might associate with Syrah. It’s ready right now so the tannins are integrated nicely. The Viognier definitely adds a bit of floral on the swish and depth in the swallow. It’s great to see folks do their own thing and succeed. Great burnt bird wine. Think roast chicken and herbs.

organized-crime-chardonnayFor the Chardonnay hounds, there’s a great edition from Organized Crime – 2013 Organized Crime Chardonnay #408435 $18.95. This is a full blown Chardonnay – softness, ripeness, and butter. It’s exactly what The Director ordered. Good food wine – chicken with a cream sauce of some kind or just sipping slowly by itself. I also got this on sale at Wonderland North so check that out. FYI, I recommended the OC Cabernet Franc – here.

Cheers.

Bill

Remember: To check inventory at the LCBO, click on the link (Product # and Price) for your wine, choose your city from the drop down menu on the right, and click the Find Stores button.

Waiting on The Red Daily Slosh

2 Feb

This is my Bordeaux and Barolo theme song, it seems, as I seldom open them. I will wait and I will wait.

Let’s look at the February 4th release. Last week, I made recommendations for sparkling bottles for that release (with a brilliant call to arms) here. I’ll focus on the reds today.

chateau-blaignanSpeaking of Bordeaux, there’s a value pick from the great 2010 vintage – 2010 Château Blaignan #400606 $23.95. I have started to ignore the annoying habit of wine writers and the Bordelais of declaring vintage after vintage the “Vintage Of The Century“. It’s getting a bit tired. That said, 2010 was one of those declared ‘greatest’ vintages and there are a lot of good values to be had by taking wine from petite chateaux, second labels, or from some of the lesser known AOC’s in 2010. This wine – the Blaignan – is an example of that value proposition. Well balanced, drinking great right now. This wine has loads of fruit, some spiciness, and some sultry notes as well. More sophisticated than the price indicates. If you don’t hold, hold, hold your Bordeaux, then get a bunch of this. It’s ‘go time’ right now.

There’s a tried and true method to establishing a winning wine industry in a region – know what can work, what the land gives you, and then work it to death. You don’t see Bordelais screwing around with Sangiovese or Primitivo? I know that there are breaks from tradition that bear great results as in Super Tuscan wine but generally, working with what you have works best. Certain regions do best with certain grapes. In Niagara, they are focusing a bit more on Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir. In particular, Pinot Noir grown off the flats and more in the Twenty Valley, Beamsville Bench, Vinemount Ridge appellations domaine-queylus-tradition-pinot-noirseem to thrive and shine. A master of Pinot Noir, Thomas Bachelder has been skulking around here, as well as Oregon and Burgundy, making great Chardonnays and Pinots. This week, there’s a beaut of his – 2013 Domaine Queylus Tradition Pinot Noir #392738 $$29.95 hitting the shelves; I imagine in small quantities. Tasted at the cellar door, this is still a bit too early to pound – so it’s youthful, reserved, waiting to grow up – loads of red fruits, earthiness waiting to burst through some serious acidity. It reminds me of his Oregon efforts – serious, restrained, yet power lurking, lurking and, if you’re patient rewarding you. Keep this down below for a few years – I know that I am. If your ‘kind a’ Pinot needs to be a la Meomi, take a pass on this. But, if your sweet spot is Oregon, Prince Edward County, even Burgundy – this is for you.

mompertoneAt the Grandi Marchi last year (you can read my post on the tasting here), I sipped a slew of great wines. FYI, a ‘slew’ is the metric equivalent of 1.765 times a ‘bunch’. A bunch being an imperial measure, of course. One of the tables was the Antinori family group and they had their 2014 Prunotto Mompertone Monferrato Rosso #388587 $18.95 among others. My tasting notes reflect that “I love it!” This is fresh – meaning youthful, sensuous, not round, angular. You need food with this. Tomato based pasta, sausage pizza, or a simple burger (not too much fancying  up) would be fantastic. If you had this wine blindfolded, you would have little trouble identifying that it was Italian and, if you’re a fan, you might even guess Piedmonte. Barbera grapes primarily with some Syrah. A swish or two in the glass allows this easy drinking, lip smacking red to open up.

 

casa-de-cambresI picked up a few of the Portuguese wines that were featured last release and the one that stood out for me was from the Duoro – the 2009 Casa de Cambres #470377 $13.95. This 40% Touriga Franca, 40% Tinto Roriz (Tempranillo), and 20% Touriga Nacional blend is drinking perfectly right now but will last through the next five years easily. So, it’s a cheap cellar candidate. Wood evident but not overpowering, dark fruits, and big nose. A good smack of acidity on the finish. If your first sip seems like the acidity overruns the fruit,  just let the wine rest and it will soften for you. Good value!

Cheers.

Bill

 

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