Archive | March, 2018

Open Wide – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

15 Mar


Most times, my obsession with wine doesn’t embarrass me. However, I just changed dentists and at my first meeting with my new guy, he asked me what I did. I could have given my usual response that I am a lonely man relegated to glimpses of his mediocre past through a veil of regret. But instead, I said that I was basically retired and was somewhat obsessed with wine. He asked for my web site and I thought that would be it. The next time I was there, he came in with a huge smile and loudly said, “Bill, I checked out your web site and boy you drink a lot of wine!”

The dental office is one of those that doesn’t have doors and so everyone getting root canals, crowns, etc. hears everything that’s going on in other chairs. I could envision them all craning their necks to try and catch a glimpse of the guy who “drinks a lot of wine” – hopefully without getting their cheek punctured by a weapons grade steel pick. I should have told him I was a marathoner? No, not possible to pull that off without liposuction. I know, this is it, “I’m the principal in a boutique public sector consultancy”. I’ve used that before and that shuts people up right away.

I confess. He’s right. I do drink a lot of wine.

So what has Bill, the guy that drinks a lot of wine, been drinking lately? Glad you asked.

I always request a certain label each Christmas and usually someone picks it up for me. I popped the cork on the 2013 La Vite Lucente from Tenuta Luce della Vite, a Frescobaldi holding. I wrote a flattering piece on Frescobaldi a few months ago. You can read it here. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is when you can count on a label to out-do your memories of the last bottle you had. This 2013 was perfectly balanced, the tannins had settled down to play a supporting role and the acid just making an appearance on the finish. Leathery, tobacco and red raspberries, a hint of cinnamon, cherries. And, yes, I will be asking for a repeat next year. This vintage isn’t available locally but the 2015 La Vite Lucente #747030 $34.95 is in good supply and is $2 off now – so, $32.95.

If you follow these pages, you’ll know that I’m a bit gun-shy with Cabernet Sauvignon unless it’s expensive and starts with ‘Château’. Which means that I drink it by exception. But, I’ve been trying to change that. In that effort, I picked up a bottle of 2014 Wakefield Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon (Clare Valley/Coonawarra) #142398 $24.95. This was a gentle giant. Oodles of dark fruit and wood on the sniff. In the mouth just full-bodied cassis goodness and a nice snap on the finish – some residual heat from the alcohol (14.5%). No wood chips in between your molars, no vanilla over the top, no cloying sweetness that are the qualities that drove me screaming from CS. A really nice wine – elegant. And, loads still available at the mothership.

I have a friend who always seems to be popping a cork on a wine from Portugal. I’ve tried to stay in touch with these wines but haven’t done a very good job. This week, I picked up 2015 Gloria Reserva (Duoro) #146522 $16.95. Now this is dark, deep. I had it all alone. That didn’t sound right. I had this without food (and, BTW, all by myself – so, yes, alone X2). This demands food. And, it really isn’t ready. The backbone kind of dominates and covers everything up – this needs to soften up and release the fruits. That sounds rather declarative – “Release The Fruits!”. It’s a tannic monster now. So, decant for an hour or two at least. Or put it down below and wait. Loads still out there, so get a case. I’d open at the cottage this summer after a decant or wait until 2019-20.

I love sushi and rosé. It has to be a zippy rosé and can’t be wimpy either – so Tavel, Bandol or, as in this case, Provence. This past week, I enjoyed some Ahi, Hamachi and Unagi nigiri, and a dragon roll with 2016 Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel #325076 $29.95. You have to ask yourself, “Why do we like wasabi so much?” And, how could it possibly go with any beverage? But it does. I’ve even had it with a sparkler. Shouldn’t be too surprised as we’ve all had hot-to-suicide wings with beer.This Angel is a special rosé for me. A big splurge when you consider how many great rosés there are under $20. It’s worth it. Elegance. Substantive (Grenache, Vermentino, Cinsault).

We found a great value Chardonnay, 2016 Cono Sur Bicicleta #321448 $10.95. I’ve read other bloggers review this line and I’ve tried their Pinot Noir and the Viognier. I was pleasantly surprised. This one is pretty simple but simple and tasty. Lightly soaked (or in a non-AutoCorrect world ‘oaked’) and refreshing. Great party white. You could serve your neighbours this while keeping the more expensive stuff for yourselves. That’s what we do.

A couple of decent picks in the March 17 release are:

2016 Robert Oatley Signature Series Chardonnay #350900 $18.95 A great very lightly oaked fresh, crisp Chardonnay.

2015 Château de Nages Vieilles Vignes Costières de Nîmes #040964 $19.95 Quintessential Southern Rhone Grenache – dark fruits, briary, and peppery finish.

2014 Baigorri Crianza #376376 $22.95 Punching way above its weight as a Crianza. The 2009 Baigorri Reserva #319814 $29.95 is also available. This is an example of a wine that you don’t serve your neighbours.

Cheers. Off to drink some wine. Lots of wine, I hear.


Stuck? – The Red Daily Slosh

1 Mar

Was noshing at a local with a friend this week. We were walking home from a hockey game and, well predictably enough, we needed another beer. Stopped in to one of my favourite places in town – The Church Key Bistro, on Richmond.

The Church Key Bistro #ldnont

Although I was having a beer (as it turned out, a London Pride from Jolly Ole’), I checked out the wine list. My wine friends will understand. It’s a compulsion, like visiting a wine store in a new city. You just have to go even if you aren’t buying anything.

The wine list here was absent a label that, I’ll wager, appears on almost every wine list in the city. That got us to talking with the owner about the fascination that people in this town have with that label. It’s as if they’ve found the wine for them and there’s no other pleasing them with other worthy wines. They are stuck and loving it. I scoffed at the uninitiated masses being pleased with plonk. Ignorance is bliss as the saying goes.

But, I returned home and have been fretting that I, too, am stuck. A quick review of my basement of goodies reveals that I am horribly overweight in France and Italy with Spain coming in third. My New World stash is embarrassingly low and almost all are splurge wines – nothing for every day.

Here’s the problem: I don’t know how to be snobby with California, Australia, New Zealand, Washington, Ontario, etc. without going all in. I feel as if I have to spend $35 minimum for a reasonable bottle. So, if anyone out there has a New World gem (other than the ones below) that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, let me know.

This week’s release focuses on Southern Hemisphere regions: Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa.

Let’s get started with a solid red blend from Chile – the 2013 Coyam #063891 $29.95 is an organic wine – a blend of Syrah, Carmenere, Merlot, (deep breath) Cabernet Sauvignon, Mouvèdre, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. I’ve recommended this vintage before. It’s a big wine with a long, lip smacking finish. Oak lingering in the background not out front. Substantive, so don’t drink it without some food – burnt beef, hearty stews – something like that. Drinking perfectly now with a short decant to shake off its shyness.

Staying with Syrah blends – the 2015 Bastide Miraflors Syrah/Vieilles Vines Grenache #320499 $19.95 is a beaut. Savoury scents and tastes. This is a wine that’s best to leave in your glass awhile and let it open if you can control yourself. Its elegance and power are impressive at this price. Loads of ripe, jammy dark fruit and a finish that snaps with spice. No evidence of oak although the Syrah had some time in wood. A little hint of heat on the finish (14.5% ABV – that’s the Grenache, I assume). Drinking perfectly right now.

I read a great post on Coonawarra and what makes it special by The Bubbly Professor the other day. You can read it here. Suffice to say that it is one of the most distinctive terroirs IMHO in Australia. In particular, the red wines carry a signature that I can tell right away (and after checking the label) that it’s from Coonawarra. I have loved Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon since my first bottle of Parker Estate Cab Sav. One of my ‘Go To’ Coonawarra labels is Wynns. They have a whole range of them. This week, there’s the 2012 Wynns Coonawarra Estate “The Siding” Cabernet Sauvignon #333229 $22.95. Wynns Black Label is in the Vintages Essential portfolio, I believe and is $6 more than this one. I like this one better. Perhaps it’s the age/vintage. Although, I’ve kept some Black Labels down for as long as 10 years and they don’t seem as balanced as this. Just pop the cork and you’ll know it’s CS. Cassis on the nose and on the swallow. Some floral notes but they don’t replay in your mouth at all. Sturdy, complete wine. This one also requires a little food. If you’re obsessed with the label I referenced above (and, if you are, you know what label it is), pick this up and I bet you don’t go back.

Spring is in the air. And, then it’s snatched violently away by plunging mercury and cruel flurries. But, let’s pretend that Spring is just around the corner. What are you going to need to celebrate the occasion? Beaujolais! 2014 Geoges Dubœuf Domaine Mont Chavy Morgon #276477 $19.95 in particular. I saw this in the release flyer and scurried downstairs and found that I had one lurking in the shadows. Brought it up and popped the cork to the smell of strawberries and Earl Grey tea. Beautiful. The strawberries continued through to the finish joined by cherries but the tea got kind of muddled up with some tannin. I’d suggest that this is a Beaujolais that could cellar for five years easily. It’s pretty but not cute, if you know what I mean.



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