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Big Brother (Wino Edition) – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

13 Apr

I received a bit of feedback on my last piece. One reader suggested that reality shows about wine should be the next trend. I agree. I mean it’s been tried before – 2 British blokes wandering Italy and sipping wine, youtube channels galore with guys and gals downplaying wine snobbery, and the short-lived I’m Getting Graphite -The Robert Parker Channel available on Roku.

If you think of it though, a proliferation of wine shows would get some of the thirty thousand or so wine bloggers out of their pyjamas. And it couldn’t hurt as most of us are significantly underpotentialized.

Here’s Pitch #1: “Twelve shallow, self-absorbed wine bloggers are locked in a house with a $20,000 cellar (above) curated by one of 0ur sponsors. Multiple cameras follow their every move. While they work their way through the cellar, fights about closures break out. Old World hounds align together and plot against the New World order. There’s a fight between Charmat Method versus Methode Traditionelle. And that’s just the FIRST week! At the end of each week, they are given a challenge – they have to name the grape, the country, region, and vintage of a blind tasted glass of wine. All facts known to the audience. The resident with the lowest score is kicked out of the house unless saved by the fifteen people watching on the Hulu channel. And that is repeated weekly until only one blogger is standing and he/she receives the remnants of the cellar.” Cool. It just needs a catchy name.

On to real wine. This past week I received a case of beautiful wine that I split with a friend. The 2015 La Garnatxa Fosca from Projecto Garnachas de España is a pure Garnatxa from Priorat. I thought that although it had a nose of Priorat with a floral vibe. It didn’t have the opaqueness, heft, mouthfeel that we associate with Priorat. It actually had the look and mouthfeel of a young Nebbiolo. Before a significant decant, it was crystalline, light, shy. Anything but ripe.

But, upon getting that time on the shelf and in the glass, it opened to red raspberry fruit, a touch of funkiness, and a minty finish. Although Garnacha higher ABV (14.5%), little heat. I love wines that show you that they’re not a one trick pony. I mean, “Everyone deserves the benefit of being able to change for the better,” he says to those he’s wronged in the past. This wine will improve in bottle for many years. Shout out to importer www.wineonline.ca If you’re wanting to buy caselot(s) of wine that you can’t always get access to, they have a great portfolio of wine, craft beer, and some foods. In fact they have my new favourite Crianza Rioja – Lopez de Haro @ $14.95 per. Bargain! Shipping of a case or more is free.

From this week’s release (April 14), there are a number of solid picks.

There’s a little Italian red that I’ve fallen in love with. I first tasted it at the Grande Marche that I attended a few years ago and since am always on the look out for it. The 2014 La Braccaesca Vino Nobile di Montepulciano #566216 $24.95 is a perfect example of what’s right with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. It’s a beaut. I had this vintage while in Italy and it blew me away. Smells of a Chianti-style Sangiovese – cherries, spice box, celery salt (not kidding. I know from celery salt, having rimmed a billion Bloody Caesars. And Bloody Caesars, as we know, are the life blood of many of us before noon). Medium bodied with a distinct vein of acidity that leaves you smacking your lips. Not enough acid or tannin though to cover up the myriad of flavours – cherries, leather, a little barnyard (yum). This is a rocking food wine. Maybe something as simple as a tomato/mozza pizza or a tomato pasta with basil and some sausage. What a great DOCG, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This has become a great story for me. It used to be inconsistent, bland, wandering to find out what it wanted to be. Now solid producers like Antinori, in this case, and Dei have rejuvenated this place for me.

Since Gord Downie passed, I’ve been living on Spotify binges of Tragically Hip and regret that I never saw them live. Well, at least those of us who didn’t can swill some 2016 The Tragically Hip Ahead By A Century Chardonnay #483875 $19.95. This is made by Stoney Ridge Estate Winery, I believe. The style is moderately oaked until a finish which carries some butter. Flavours are citrusy with the typical green apple of Chardonnay. This is a nice Chard for afternoon sipping and falling off, I mean sitting on, the dock.

I took a wander down to Niagara with my niece a few weeks ago. My goal? To see as many wineries that were new to me as possible. What actually happened? First let me explain that there are over 100 wineries in Niagara. And, yes, I should be able to spend a day seeing only ones who’s threshold I haven’t crossed. Well, I tried and saw two of the new ones. But, I still had to take her to Tawse and Malivoire. It’s just not a trip down there without my Visa getting a workout at these two places. This week, there’s a very nice red from one of those guys waiting for you – 2016 Malivoire Gamay #591313 $17.95. Gamay is done really well here. Malivoire has a Small Lot Gamay that’s worth scouting and ordering on line. This one isn’t as complex as that – straight forward, fresh wine. Feels like you’re at the winery even when you’re home. Red, red, red fruit. A little heavier in the mouth – hotter – than usual but a very nice sipping wine or with noshes, salads. A slight cill doesn’t hurt this wine either. Perfect summer hostess/host gift.

If you’re jonesing for a day on the patio, and who isn’t, there’s a whack of 2017 rosé already on shelves:

2017 Gérard Bertrand Côte Roses des Rosé #373985 $18.95

2017 Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel #325076 $29.95

2017 Henry of Pelham Family Estate Rosé #613471 $14.95

2017 Malivoire Ladybug Rosé #559088 $16.95

Keep an eye out for the mess of Provence and Tavel rosés which should be hitting the mothership soon.

Pitch #2: “Four wine bloggers are given different already prepared stages of a three course meal. Then they open a mystery basket of wine barrels. Well, maybe we have to work on that part seeing as barrels are bigger than baskets. But, suffice it to say, there are several barrels of different wines.They have 25 minutes to blend the perfect wine to go with the appetizer, main, or dessert that they are presented with. The worst blender drops off each course. Their wines are judged by other wine bloggers (some savvy cross-marketing with Pitch #1). Winner after three courses gets to take the barrels home and claim the title – Top Blend Champion.” What do you think?

Maybe have to work a bit on the television ideas. Help me out if you’ve got a good one.

Cheers.

Bill

 

 

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.

Bill

Emojis – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

6 Dec

I was thinking the other day about communication and how we use different styles, fonts, grammar, and even spelling depending on where we are doing the communication. And, since many of us just communicate with our phone, I wondered if things are starting to devolve to the use of single letters, acronyms and emojis to tell our story. Full disclosure, I was in the bathroom sans reading material when I thought this up – explains this whole ramble, doesn’t it?

I have never used an emoji. That keyboard pops up on my iPhone once in awhile by fat finger mistake and it scares me – all these spooky little yellow faces just staring, smiling, winking out from the screen. What do they want from me? And, I don’t read emojis, if ‘read’ is the proper word. I don’t get ’em. So, I guess I’m emoji challenged? Emoji-phobic?

As background for this post, I scrolled through the zillion existing emojis. If you’ve done this, you end up asking yourself, “Who thought up this 💩? Why do 👫 need them?” I’m admittedly on the curmudgeonly cynical side but there must be some pay off to emoji use. Why else would they exist?

So, today I tried to figure out how I could utilize emojis in this blog.  I first littered the whole post with the little critters and used an emoji-based rating system for my recommendations. The rating system, although brilliantly conceived was lame. I’ve kept it on the Allegrini below for you to judge for yourself. Wine criticism shouldn’t be trifled with. I mean rating systems are dead serious, yeah? Is that an 89 or a 90 is a question that requires a solid set of universally accepted and understood criteria. Maybe a move to a more ‘modern’ graphic nomenclature is where we are headed though. I mean ☹️ replaced the lengthy and clearly ambiguous statement “I’m feeling really shitty today.” My suggestion? WBC18 Topic: “Rating Systems – Is It Time For The Emoji? Talk amongst yourselves.

This week’s release (December 9) is offering wine and spirits in preparation for the holidays.

Holiday fêtes would not be complete without a little bubbly. Although there are the classics from Champagne (in this release – Roederer’s Cristal, Ruinart R de Ruinart, among others), you can get a good to great sparkling wine that hints at the glory of Champagne when you pick up a Crèmant de Bourgogne. This week, there’s the N/V Bailly-Lapierre Chardonnay Brut Crèmant de Bourgogne #369066 $24.95. This is a crisp Chardonnay with tight bubbles and a medium plus finish. I’ve touted this wine many times and hope that you too have enjoyed it in the past. Never disappoints.

A foursome from South America will get you stocked up in the ‘crowd-pleaser’ category and with a very reasonable investment:

The 2015 Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva Carmenère #057513 $17.75 is a great barbecue wine. I had it at the cottage this year and it was perfect. Very smoky nose – everything black, dark like a Starbucks with just a little kick at the end. Love this wine!

 

 

 

A month ago, I recommended a Torrontés that was well received. Review here. This week, there’s another Torrontés that deserves consideration – 2016 Santa Julia Organic Torrontés #232694 $13.95. This is a very aromatic wine – more nervous than the one previously recommended. Loads of energy just below the surface and that energy is really noticed on the finish. Pear and citrus. It would be great with Asian fare, despite the dryness of its character.

The 2015 Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir #037937 $14.95 is a great value-priced Pinot that might not battle food that well but would be a great standing around wine. It is typical fresh, restrained Pinot with perhaps a bit more minerality than you’d think at this price but the price point also means that it doesn’t carry that underlying power that we come to expect from Pinot.. Fruit not that prominent. But I still believe a great value Pinot.

2013 Primus Cabernet Sauvignon #486043 $19.95 – the last Chilean offering brings the prototypical aromas of cassis, some oak to the glass. Very New World. Medium plus body, easy, easy drinking – meaning you’ll pop two corks on this lovely Cab Sav.

The last daily red that I’ll talk about is the 2014 Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre #672931 $24.95. This is one of my favourite non-Amarone reds from Veneto. This is like a mini-Amarone – big, powerful, almost thick wine. Another smoky, lip smacking red with loads of backbone for almost any food that you could throw at it. Rich. 👊👍 👍👃😁

 

There are a number of special splurge wines this week. If I were to pick only one (or two) , I’d pick up the 1994 Faustino 1 Gran Reserva #929489 $68.95. I mean it’s 22 years old like me. Or, perhaps the 2013 Castello di Ama San Lorenzo Gran Selezione Chianti Classico #418897 $50.95 as that would free me up to open the 2010 of this cuvée that I have stashed below. Love their stuff.

Any thoughts on the emoji? I’m only half kidding.

Cheers.

Bill

Update: I wrote a piece on the Planeta winery in Menfi. The restaurant at their agriturismo, La Foresteria just won the “Restaurant of the Year” in Italy for 2018 as awarded by the Bibenda Guide. Pretty cool. You can read my piece here.

Standards – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

24 Nov

Years ago I read Bill Gates’ book, The Road Ahead. I didn’t take much from it except for his explanation of the concept of an ever elevating standard (my words). Essentially technology pushes into the marketplace and over time, if successful that technology becomes a standard – a standard of hardware, software, functionality, etc. until the next standard comes along. Just five or six years ago, CD’s were still relevant – the standard in music. Now, they are used to prop up wobbly tables – the standard is streaming services. We kind of pay for these services as if we need them. Likewise automobile ‘options’. You can’t find a car without air conditioning, power windows, back up cameras. These things have become standard and are built into the price instead of set outside as an add-on that we can choose. They just include them because we ‘need’ them, damn it!

Kings College

I was driving past our local university today and I was struck with the student cars parked on the side of the road surrounding campus. Well, not actually struck as in hit by them but, you know, I noted something significant. There were a lot period and many were automobiles that I can’t presently afford. As a student, on my res floor there was one car owner, Steve, and he lent his car out judiciously until I hit someone with it. Shit happens.

But the point is, there weren’t any student cars. It just wasn’t so. The standard was walking or public transit. Now, I think that a car for many students is a standard. At least in this town. They wouldn’t think of going to school without one. And you can think of so many other standards that we all now have – smartphones, home security, concealed weapons and 400 rounds of ammo (just kidding…….well, kind of), tablets, wi-fi, funky socks, Netflix. It goes on and on.

Now, wine. Many in the wine blogging community talk about reviewing wines in an easily understood and unpretentious way. Sounds kind of condescending when I say it like that, doesn’t it? I know that I used to prescribe to that mantra. But, just as Mercedes and BMW’s now sit in a student parking lot, my standard has risen in price and pretentiousness steadily over the last few years. I cop to the pretentiousness as it’s always been a part of my personality. I can’t even walk the General Listing aisles at the mother ship anymore. I dismiss those wines as without merit. My standard is Vintages and I have fallen into the belief that price does predict quality which I know in my little arrogant heart isn’t always the case. And still, I struggle to find a wine to talk about that’s under $30!

I’ve heard from people who read my stuff that they don’t want to pay as much for wine as I’m recommending they do. I get that. Although some have admitted that I’ve upsold them and they have more or less become accustomed to it – many going without heat and hydro to support their habit.

So, I realize that I’m an elitist and I hear those that would like me to bring the price down to their standard. I’m not saying that much is going to change but I will at least be aware of my standard and realize that not everyone wants air conditioning. They are fine with a window open. And if I can find them a nice breeze, I’ll tell them about it.

I have had a few wines from earlier releases that warrant a look:

2013 Abad Dom Bueno Mencia #291989 $16.95 – see that’s a bit cheaper. I finished my stash of the 2008 of this wine just this year. This vintage is much fresher and nervous understandably. Mencia is a grape that you may not have knowingly had. It ages well – witness the 2008 – is usually medium-bodied and is medium plus aromatic. It looks great in the glass as well. I like it a lot and it’s a nice break from Temporanillo and Ganarcha without losing the Spanish vibe. This is nicely oaked, full of red berry goodness on the sniff, the gargle and the finish. More modern tasting than the 2008 but that might make it the crowd-pleaser you’d want to have on hand for the holidays.

2014 Rabelo Mosteiro Duoro Tinto #523571 $22.95 This is a 40% Touriga Nacional, 25% Tinta Roriz, 20% Touriga Franca, and 5% Tinto Cāo blend. The first, third and fourth are ones used in the production of Port. The second one, Tinta Roriz is Tempranillo with a Portuguese passport. This is a sophisticated wine. I didn’t decant but think that this could use an hour or two minimum to improve that element even more. Although a caveat: I have to say it is an Eliza Doolittle wine – able to deliver sophistication on the outside but you can’t be blind to the other Eliza – powerful, gutsy and bawdy underneath. Wine can be elegant and fun too. This proves the point.

2013 Columbia Crest H3 Les Chevaux Red Blend #287425 $20.95 – This is a perennial favourite at the mother ship. A Washington blend of Merlot, Syrah, Viognier, and Cabernet Franc it fits firmly in the New World red camp. It’s a lovely full-bodied red with enough tannin peeking through the blackberries, pepper, and a coating of smoky toasty oak to keep it interesting and not flabby. Trust me when I say that friends and family will love this wine.

From the November 26th release:

N/V Gerard Bertrand Cuvée Thomas Jefferson Brut Crémant de Limoux #438838 $19.95 – My first taste of Crémant de Limoux was in the south of France from which it comes. Not unlike Cava or Prosecco, it is standard there to start an evening of wine drinking and food with a glass of this. Limoux claims to be the first wine made using the ‘Methode Traditionale’ or the same method as Champagne. Hence, it predates Champagne. This is made with Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Mauzac, and Pinot Noir. Gerard is one of my heroes. Here he has continued the love affair with Languedoc-Roussillon. There’s an herbal quality to this. Dry, not overly lemony, nicely balanced and a snap at the end. Switch it up and serve this instead of your usual.

2015 Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling #089029 $18.95 – Always a favourite of mine. This vintage doesn’t disappoint. It’s a powerful Riesling at this price point – citrus (lemon/lime), a hint of petrol on the sniff but not yet following up, huge acid on the finish which will help this age nicely, I think. It suggests Off-Dry but the tartness of this wine doesn’t allow any sugar to show up. Another good year for this Sketches.

So you want a bargain, eh? Well, look no further than the 2016 Honoro Vera Monastrell #167684 $13.95. Love this wine. It’s not complex but it’s substantial, has some characteristics of spice, garrigue, and dominant dark fruits like blackberries. Great value. On the same planet is their Honoro Vera Garnacha #440867 $12.95  (there’s lots of the Garnacha around so take a look and see of there’s some of that near you). Both of these wines are great value and wines that I bet will get folks talking around your dinner table. Plus the labels are fascinating.

A modest upsell. The 2012 Travaglini Gattinara #713354 $29.95 is a Nebbiolo from the Gattinara DOC which doesn’t get the love that its more famous cousins, Barolo and Barberesco do. If Nebbiolo is your sweet spot like it is one of mine, this is a great representation at a far lower price point than the others. This is shy at first with some stony/granite mouthfeel. But don’t mistake this for the tannins covering everything up. This is the Nebbiolo – it is a shy grape. It’s sleek and given a good decant or a violent swirl in the glass opens up to flowers and red fruits. A pleasure to sniff and even better to quaff. Worth every penny. Perfect with a sturdy supper. And the bottle is cool too.

Cheers.

Bill

P.S. Just thought of how this discussion applies to the guys and gals who really do have the wherewithal and the inclination to only drink wines in the upper echelon of price and prestige. “Seriously, Chauncey, I couldn’t bear another bottle of Domaine Romanee-Conti La Tâche that was younger than 20 years!” There’s part of me that would love to join them but there’s also a part that really likes where I’ve landed. I’m fortunate. No need to get greedy or have a friend called Chauncey..

Tom And The Rainbow Daily Slosh

24 Oct

It’s been a sad month or so for music lovers, hasn’t it? This one was so unexpected. “Well let me get to the point, let’s roll anther joint. And turn the radio loud. I’m too alone to be proud”.  I have it loud as usual.

I’ve been absent from the wine recommending crowd the last three months. Just my usual hiatus as I try and figure out if I can keep going. It takes real dedication to drink this much wine. Let’s give the October 28th release a try and we’ll see how it goes.

I’ll start with a few repeat recommendations. How much of the 2005 Balbas Reserva #085183 $22.95  did the mothership buy? I’m guessing a million cases although I’ve told myself a thousand times to stop exaggerating. Regardless, I have purchased this stuff in multiples as a “New Arrival” or part of a “Release” on numerous occasions over the past three years. I’ve recommended it every time. You can’t get a solid Ribera del Deuro Reserva of this age for this price anywhere. It’s a no-brainer. If you want to read my previous reviews they are here, here, and here. It’s still so ready to drink – expressive and balanced. And, yes, if your friends aren’t impressed by my enthusiastic endorsement, then you can flash the ’93’ from Wine Spectator sticker on the bottle.

Another repeat is the 2016 Miraval Rosé #342584 $22.95. I know that the weather has turned and many of us have tuned up the quintessential Canadian male 5th appendage (oh behave). I’m talking about the snowblower. But rosé isn’t just for summer. I keep a few bottles down below for sipping or even with a meal that pairs well – buttered popcorn, sea salt chips? – even in the colder weather. Past review here. Owned by Brangelina and worked by famille Perrin, I wonder how the celebs are going to split this community property. Have you taken sides on this break up? In our house, we cheer for Brad but I think that’s a function of Angelina’s weirdness (Billy Bob Thornton, really?). At least that’s where we are until I’m forced to read new revelations in the National Enquirer at the check out line. Speaking of which, the Enquirer tells me that Marilyn Munroe and Elizabeth Taylor were lesbian lovers. It’s going to be hard to get that picture out of my head. In my mind, Liz is Butterfield 8 Liz and Marilyn is, well, Marilyn. Say no more.

Ever had Torrontés? No, it’s not the city in Ontario that my AutoCorrect insists it is. It’s a white grape and wine that is Argentina’s answer to the question – “Name a wine that is yuuuge at home and hardly available abroad.” My ‘go to’ is Susana Balbo’s take but this one is cheaper and does the trick. The 2016 Zolo Torrontés #183913 $14.95 is big on the sniff with a hint of the citrus, lip smacking stuff to follow. Perfect with cold shrimp, smoked salmon with capers, or (not being an oyster lover) I bet with oysters. Or just sip on its own. Clean and crisp but not sharp edged. A nice surprise for your guests.

Another repeat – the 2015 Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel #942151 $29.95 is returning to the shelves. I recommended this previously here. A friend who actually reads this site (yes, there are people that read this site), responded with purchase and a quick note to me that he y esposa enjoyed the wine. Shout out to J & O. Do you enjoy Zin? I mean there are the usual suspects led by the always tasty Ravenswood Old Vines. But, do yourself a favour and step up to this brilliant wine. This is loaded with character, power, and life. “Yet”, he adds, not the confusing jumble of darkness and heat that many entry-level Zins offer. It’s a sophisticated beaut.

A fellow blogger wrote a nice post on the wines of Languedoc-Roussillon. Shout out to Michelle at Rockin Red Blog. You can read her take here. If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll know that I love many wines from that region. And, I’m excited that one of those guys is being released again this weekend – 2015 Château Saint-Roch Chimières #119354 $19.95. This is pure Roussillon. A result of hot summer days, dusty roads, lavender fields, and careful winemaking. A Grenache/Syrah/Carignan blend, it starts with the Grenache on the sniff and the swish – some heat, jamminess, and dark fruit. The Syrah on the finish shows some spiciness. This is a superb value only discounted to $19.95 perhaps because of the lack of caché that the AP Côtes du Roussillon-Villages carries. The herbal quality and spiciness would pair well with a lamb tagine – and that’s saying something about this wine’s spicy complexity.

From the “Previous Release’ file, there is a great red from Toro in Spain that you need to pick up – 2012 Terra d’Uro Finca la Rana #424135 #18.95. Before I talk about this wine, why don’t they just say $19.00? I think I speak for all of us when I say that we get that this wine is essentially $19.00. Just saying. OK, the wine. This is from Toro which means that it’s serious and oh so Spanish. No mistaking the origin of this. Mostly Tempranillo – so a bit of a Rioja or Duoro vibe. More stoney and less woody than Rioja. An attractive mustiness (is that just me? Not the mustiness part, although I can get musty, but the attractive part – love the mustiness) and some darker fruits on the sniff. I read where this is aged in used French oak barrels but there’s nothing to indicate such – loads of anise particularly after it’s gone. A real steal at this price. Don’t buy just one.

This might be a good time to load up on some bubbly. Not bubbly as in mixing-something-fizzy-with-orange-juice bubbly. Or, “Man, I’m a bit whirly” bubbly. But, substantive, classy, “Wow” bubbly. This is a hit with The Director who is a Chardonnay hound. Could be that it has some Chardonnay in it but I think that’s only part of the equation. This is smooth without being creamy – crisp, tightly knit bubbles like a good Champagne, apples – made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Aligoté. And consistent year-in, year-out as pointed out by Michel Godel in his review. I recommend it almost every time I see that’s it’s on offer. You can read my last one here and the one before here. Almost forgot, it’s the Bailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne #991562 $19.95. I’m stocking up at this price.

There are some high priced beauties coming to shelves, as well. Headlined by the 2014 Sassicaia $216.95, the 2012 Antinori Pian della Vigne Brunello di Montalcino $62.95, and the exquisite 2010 Tedeschi Capitel Monte Olmi Riserva Amarone della Valpolicella Classico $79.95. And the Sassicaia is under $217!

Cheers.

Bill

Too Few Friends – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

27 Jul

When I was away, I found out that I only had two rosé friends. That’s very close to 100% of my friends, BTW. Unless you count the imaginary ones. I have a mess of those guys.

I had taken a bunch of rosés to the cottage but had only two takers. And you know what that means? I had all those rosés to myself! The only problem? Among them, I had brought the 1500 ml bottle of Bertrand’s Côte des Roses Rosé (above). It’s a big bottle – good news. The bad news is that no one would pitch in and help me drink it. And, it doesn’t fit upright in the cottage fridge.

So, once opened, you have to finish it – normally not a problem for the undersigned. But, accidents happen on the water when alcohol is involved. Story for another day. So, no big, beautiful bottle of rosé for me. Lesson learned.

The corollary is that the cottage is not the place to experiment with wine for guests. If your guests haven’t heard of it (Arneis, Melon de Bourgogne, Mencia), don’t expect them to prefer it to wines/grapes that they are familiar with no matter how much they trust you. And, when you’re the host, you give guests choices and bend to those. Not everyone wants to ‘try’ something when they’re sitting on the dock getting mellow and sun burnt.

Last weekend’s (July 22nd) LCBO release is entitled “Old Favourites + New Favourites”. It’s about Old World and New World wines – where they intersect and where they differ. At the mid-to-high end of the price spectrum, there are some absolute stunners. In the mid-price stunner category is the 2014 Luca Malbec #167312 $34.95. This wine is made by Laura Catena so you can count on attention to detail, expression of place, and experimentation with traditional practices.This comes from high altitude (3500 feet) both well established and newer vineyards. It is fresh yet doubles down on first impact – broad, full darkish fruit and, although the alcohol is middle range (13.5% ABV), it has a bit of heat. This is a food wine. And, remember it is an Argentine food wine – so, think grilled burgers, steaks. This proves the point that all Malbecs are not created equal.

A more reasonably priced red is the 2014 Papale Linea Oro Primitivo di Manduria #261784 $22.95. I’ve recommended this before in other vintages – most recently the 2013. You can read that review here. Made from the Primitivo (early ripening) grape which is Italian for Zinfandel, it carries a lot of the same characteristics understandably. Puglia is a hot place – grapes get ripe and this is reflected in this wine – fruity, big flavours, alcohol starting to get a bit high (14% ABV). This vintage has more of a dried fruit experience like a Ripasso does. Great summer evening or autumn wine.

Despite the rosé discussion above, I’m not shying away from them. This week, the 2016 Domaine Maby La Forcadière Tavel Rosé #701318 $18.95 is a typical Tavel – darker pink (check the pic out), more red than salmon. It’s fruit forward with heft that you don’t usually experience in a crisp, refreshing Cotes de Provence. That does sacrifice some of the refreshment but it’s a great food wine – acidity on the finish and even a little tannin peeking through. Great value Tavel!

The previous release (July 8th) has a must buy from Piedmont – the 2015 Fontanafredda Raimonda Barbera d’Alba #023135 $16.95. This is a lightish, bright red with cherries and spice in the gargle. Almost too easy to drink – dry, fun, and fresh. Think bistro red and you’ll have it. If you think all wines need to be big and brawny, skip this. Barberas can be quite variable in quality. But no worries of being underwhelmed here. I bought one of these to try and am headed back for half a dozen more.

Also from the July 8th release is one of the most opulent wines that I’ve ever had at this price point – 2015 Bastide Miraflors Vieilles Vignes Syrah/Grenache #320499 $19.95. Maybe it’s my Grenache/Garnacha addiction but so what? But, it’s more Syrah (70%) than Grenache (30%), you say. Well, I love Syrah too. No serious wood treatment so pure ripe fruit on the nose and the swallow. Some of the telltale Roussillon notes of lavender and other scrubby stuff as well as some pepper on the medium length finish. It scores high on the GSS (Good Shit Scale) – between Really and Really Really. This wine reminds us that although Roussillon brings us mass production wines, it also makes wines like this one – crafted with integrity.

Just a quick recommendation on an available  sparkling that I’ve mentioned a bunch of times – the Bailly-Lapierre Pinot Noir Brut Cremant de Bourgogne #420984 $23.95. If you can’t afford to buy Champagne, I believe the next best thing in sparkling wine is Cremant de Bourgogne (unless I’ve said something else in an earlier post – in that case, I’ve changed my mind). This is made from Pinot Noir and although not as dry as the fabulous Louis Boillot Perle d’Or that I recommend from time to time, it’s dry enough and the wee bit more lends creaminess. The Pinot comes through on the finish for me along with lemon peel. Exceptional cuvée!

Saw the HBO documentary about Bowie’s last 5 years and listened to his last album – Blackkstar when I was doing the final edit on this post. Man, he was special. Enjoy this video. The definition of cool. And, check out the song Dollar Days on Blackstar on whatever streaming service you use – pure Bowie.

Cheers.

Bill

 

Rosés For The Dock – 2017 Edition

28 Jun

When I’m up. I can’t get down! Can’t get down. Can’t get level. YKWIM?

Over the past many weeks, I’ve been recommending rosés at quite a pace. But, who wants to scroll through all those posts to find a perfect sip for the dock or before supper, or after a cool swim, or ……..well, you get it. So, this should serve as a refresher.

This week, I was asked by a friend why I liked rosé so much. I didn’t really have an answer at the ready. I hadn’t ever questioned my ‘friending’ of rosé. I mean do any of us ever do a deep dive into why we like say sea scallops, fennel anything, hashwi, kibbi nayii, Omran’s curry? Not really.

So, I took the question away, gave it my full attention (if you know me, you know that I have the attention span of a gnat) and I now have my answer.

It’s just sitting there waiting

First let me say that I think rosé brings all sorts of good stuff to your experience – moderate alcohol, food friendliness, beauty, and usually a sense of place. But, I think I like rosé because it’s refreshing. Sometimes, I want refreshing, period. Now, all the wine geeks out there will write below that Sancerre is refreshing. They’d be right. Oh yeah, and Assyrtiko is nothing if not refreshing. All sorts of chilled whites bring refreshment. There are even red wines that bring refreshment, as well – like something tart from Maremma, perhaps.

So, I’m not suggesting that other wines can’t ‘refresh’. Just that a cool to cold glass of rosé is next to godliness on the refreshment scale. And, without sacrificing depth and complexity. Another reason might be that it’s reasonably priced. My favourite pink costs only $26.95. My favourite red or white wine costs multiples of that. Shit, that’s scary actually now that I see it in print.

OK, just popped the cork on a bottle of rosé to get in the mood. And, yes, it’s really refreshing. The later points I’ll try to make in this post may suffer from the fog but that’s wine bloggin’, baby.

Here we go:

My recommendations will fall into two categories – Provence and the rest of the world. I won’t wax too long on each.

Provence (in no particular order)

2016 Château la Tour de l’Eveque #319392 $18.95 I’ve recommended this rosé almost every year. It’s a beaut. Strawberries, and cherries, crisp, with a depth that defies usual Provence offerings. Love, love, love it!

 

Now, there’s a so much good rosé that’s moderately inexpensive that it might look like you shouldn’t pay too much for a sip. But, the 2016 Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé #325076 $26.95  is worth every penny. It carries a bigger citrus presence than most of the Provence pinks. Solid depth, breathless purity. OK, I made that breathless part up. But, it is pretty special. Confession: this is my favourite Provence rosé. FYI, it comes in a 1.5L edition suitable as a gift if you were coming to my dock.

Every year, every year, every year, I recommend the 2016 Carte Noir Rosé #319384 $18.95. I mean it’s different vintage each year but you get the point. This might carry the most sunshine of these Provence rosés. Bright, grapefruity sunlight. Mid-afternoon with fresh sliced tomatoes and herbs, avocados with drizzled olive oil, bread, and olives. An almost perfect combination improved immeasurably if you had bright sun and the reflection of the Mediterranean in your Wayfarers.

I won’t go on about the 2016 Miraval Rosé #342584 $22.95 (750 ml) #490870 $46.95 (1500 ml). It’s here if you want to read about it. A worthy addition to this list.

Want to save a few bucks. Question: why do they call them ‘bucks’? And no Googling – you have to impress with the fact that you already knew something for once. Anyway, the 2016 Henri Gaillard Rosé #450825 $16.95 will fit the bill. Or the Bill. This is full value – crisp, fruit lurking on the finish and, yes, refreshing. A real good example of Provence rosé.

Another great value Provence rosé is the 2016 Gassier Sables d’Azur #33621 $16.95. Professionally crafted. Brings the sunshine of the Còtes d’Azur to your mouth. Fresh and perhaps a bit deeper than you’d expect. Very nice afternoon food wine!

One last beauty from that special place – the 2015 Saint AIX Rosé #451906 $22.95 (750 ml) 2016 Saint AIX Rosé #490 904 $45.95. Another step up the weight ladder. Citrusy as well. Chill this one and serve with a light barbecue before the sun goes all the way down.

The rest of the world:

Let’s start locally. Malivoire makes two rosés – 2016 Vivant Rosé #498535 $19.95 and 2016 Ladybug Rosé #559088 $16.95. I like them both. But I prefer the Ladybug and I’ll tell you why. The Vivant is more sophisticated, subtle, and expensive than the Ladybug. I’m not two out of three of those qualities. The Ladybug is weightier, I believe a bit more food friendly and, yes, more refreshing. I get more feedback on people trying the Ladybug and loving it than almost any other recommendation.

Another local rosé that I recently tried was the 2016 Creekside Cabernet Rosé #48819 $14.95 . This was a bit of a surprise. Expecting a little sweetness, it was bone dry. Expecting stainless steel, I got a hint of oak or smokiness. Made from Cabernet Sauvignon, a somewhat atypical or non-traditional rosé grape. But then again Creekside doesn’t conform. Tart and ready for some food. Nice effort.

If it’s mid-afternoon and you’re wanting to top up the tank, pop the cork on the 2016 Brancaia Rosé #490953 $19.95. The only problem that you’ll have with this wine is that it will be gone too soon. A great wine for your introduction to chilled rosé. Classic weight, elegance.

And then there’s Tavel. Tavel is the red wine drinkers rosé. It ain’t Provence rosé. It’s so much more than a ‘summer sipper’, which BTW is a pretty pejorative term for wine as tasty as rosé. The 2016 Domaine des Carteresses Tavel #739474 $17.95, the 2016 Château d’Aquéria Tavel #319368 $21.95, the Domaine Maby Forcadière Tavel Rosé #701318 $17.95 all have the medium body and long finish associated with Tavel. And do yourself a favour – stash a couple down below for the cooler months. These wines can handle the winter and winter fare very nicely, thank you.

That’s it folks. I see that some of my annual favourites aren’t in stores yet. So, I will give you a heads up if/when they appear.

Cheers. I’m off to God’s country. Happy Canada Day (150) to my compatriots! And, Happy 4th to those folks in the US.

Bill

Buddy’s Got The Blues – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

22 Jun

Saw Buddy Guy last night. 80, and man, he still can play. And, yes, he still has the blues, poor bugger.

This week’s release (June 24) features a bunch of wines made by Canadians abroad paired with their Canadian efforts. They include: La Crema; Thomas Bachelder’s Oregon, Niagara, and Burgundy wines; Ann Sperling’s Versado (Argentina) and Southbrook wines; John Howard’s Megalomaniac and Chateau La Confession (with help from Sue-Ann  Staff); and, Moray Tawse and his Burgundy partnership with Pascal Marchand, among others. I’ve enjoyed the Tawse-Marchand, Bachelder, and La Crema efforts and now can’t wait to try the Versado. Hopefully, these successes will serve to promote Canadian wine as well.

And, remember that there may be a strike at the mother ship starting June 26th. So, stock up or go on the wagon.

Before I wade into this release, let me give you a heads up on a great gift bottle of wine – 2016 Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses Rosé #490912 $37.95. This 1.5 L edition of Bertrand’s rosé comes in a beautiful bottle with a rose carved into the base. Plus, the wine is a tasty, lip smacking pink with loads of fun fruit. I picked up a couple to pop for that moment when you want to dress up your experience.

 

It seems like Prosecco has become the new Cava. Used to be that you’d pop a cork on a Freixenet or Cordonui semi-regularly. Now, everyone has fallen in love with Prosecco. But beware – there are Proseccos and then, sigh, there are Proseccos. The good ones are good to great. The shitty ones are….well, shitty. And, there are a lot of those. This week, there’s a good one made by a Canuck, Franco Prevedello. The 2016 Prevedello Asolo Superiore Extra Dry Prosecco #262881 $16.95 is fresh, extremely dry and carries a nice tight bubbliness. Great wine to start the day – not suggesting an 8:00 am beginning but quaff this before you get serious. And, no Mimosas with this, please.

Starting or replenishing a cellar? The 2013 Laplace Madiran #103705 $17.95 is la perfect place (get the pun?) to start. This is made from the Tannat grape. I have a good friend who loves wines from the Southwest of France and he got me hooked on Tannat. Tannat usually makes a rustic wine but if done right and with some cellar time to smooth out the edges, it’s full value and great with meals that are substantial in weight – say, a red meat stew. The Laplace is a great Madiran wine. Put it down for a few years or decant for a few hours and please – this is not a standing around wine. It’s serious, structured, and bursting with lip smacking fruit.

I believe that most of us are tired of drinking the same thing over and over again. I’m talking to the McManis afficinados out there. So before I forget and in an effort to get you guys out of your woody rut. I’ve been enjoying a very special Morgon lately. I’m afraid it may run out before I’ve been able to stock up. The 2014 Laurent Gauthier Grand Cras Morgon #279059 $21.9is a great representation of what Beaujolais can aspire to. I absolutely love this stuff! Red fruit on the sniff and finish. Although it claims to be medium weight, I’d say it trends heavier than that – which is a surprise for me. Would benefit from a few years down below but easily drinkable now as well. Perfect summer evening dinner wine! Deep, black, complex, cellarable – everything that you’d want in a supper wine. I have a few faves in my Beaujolais stash and this proudly takes it’s place among them. Fall in love with Beaujolais again. But hurry because there isn’t much left.

I used to recommend a Malbec almost every week. I haven’t had a lot recently. So, sorry to all the Malbec lovers out there but my body can only withstand so much research. However, this week, there’s a malbec that I have had and enjoyed – the 2013 Alamos Selección Malbec #322800 $16.95. This is a Laura Catena effort and, thus, although low-priced, it is meticulously crafted. This is a concentrated, complex wine with all sorts of sniffs emanating from the glass. Mouthfeel is heavy minus a bit and the finish is substantial for a wine at this price. I know that I’m always trumpeting value at a higher price. I’d say this is the best Malbec that I’ve had under $20 that wasn’t made by Susanna Balbo and, if you’ve been playing along at home, you know that’s saying something.

One last little tip. There’s a Spanish wine – 2008 Anciano Gran Reserva Tempranillo Valdepenas #464214 $12.95 – that’s a great value from the Iberian peninsula. Now, it’s a bit light for a Tempranillo wine but still has loads of personality and is suited for sipping. Hard to beat the price. So, if you are thinking of stocking up for the long drawn out strike (wink, wink), pick up a few of these.

Cheers.

Bill

 

Salute to US Wine Merchants – The Rosé Daily Slosh #drinkpink

6 Jun

Saw Bonnie Raitt this past Saturday. Couldn’t find any better video to include than her rendition of a great John Hiatt song. Cameo by Dennis Quaid. “Whether your sunglasses are off or on, you only see the world you make”. BTW, she still has it in spades (yes, a bridge reference).

Joukowsky Institute, Brown University

Spent the Memorial Day weekend in Providence RI for a grad weekend at Brown University and left with some observations about how we do things differently than our neighbours to the south. And, before you neighbours start to think that I’m going to be smug or superior (which, my friends will attest, I’m fully capable of being), let me add that these things are done better there than here.

One: the inspiring, celebratory, and family-like atmosphere at Brown University grad so much better than our uni snooze fests which are just bigger iterations of high school grad. Two: in my experience, wine sales are way better there too.

About five minutes after we arrived in our hotel room, I got the shakes and needed to go get some wine. I wandered to one of my favourite wine stores in Providence – Eno on Westminster (my other fave is Bottles on Pitman). And there at the front island was a lovely WSET educated woman pouring bubbly. She said that she had chosen bubbly due to the grad weekend and thought that it would be nice if people got to try a few different incarnations of celebratory bubbly before landing on their choice.

She poured me glasses (real glass glasses) of a non-memorable take on sparkling, a great Muscadet bubbly from the Loire (on the left), and some grower Champagne. We stood and talked about each wine. I was educated on the Muscadet as I’d never seen a sparkling wine made from that grape. I go to Vouvray when I think Loire bubbly. And, we oohed and aahed together over the Champagne. Really was there any doubt that I’d like that best?

Now, compare this to what we see on weekends at the LCBO. Usually, it’s a sample provided in a wee plastic cup by a presenter who, maybe if you’re lucky, has a passing knowledge of the product they are serving. It’s seldom an employee of the mother ship. Which brings me to the issue. A wine store isn’t Costco. Although samples are designed to sell, wine isn’t a mini sausage. Maybe Costco crowds swell when free stuff is available (not ‘maybe’, crowds do swell), but no one goes to the LCBO to fill up on free rootbeer vodka in half ounce quantities. Customers go there to buy booze and get 0ut. So, why not help them with the decision, à la Eno, with an informed sales person. Think of the upsell potential alone. No one would buy the Prosecco once they sipped the Champagne. It worked that way for me this weekend.

Interesting final observation – European wine is generally cheaper at the LCBO than in Rhode Island and Florida at least (didn’t research other potential states) and very much so when comparing to Rhode Island stores. Example: Antinori’s 2010 Badia a Passignano is offered at $49.99 CAD at the mother ship, was $69.99 USD (dollar adjusted $94.62 CAD) at the ‘go to’ Italian wine shop in Providence and $53.99 USD ($72.99 CAD) in TotalWine Naples. Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo BdM is $52.95 CAD here, $79.99 USD ($108.14 CAD) in Providence and $45.97 USD ($62.15) at TotalWine in Naples. Almost every moderately expensive European wine, that I could find comps for, was cheaper here. And RI was much more expensive.

Maybe my US readers could enlighten me. Is the tax structure in RI the reason? BTW, almost all entry level Euro wines were cheaper at the two shops that I searched. Entry level being $10 USD and less. And US wines are always cheaper outside Ontario.

OK, let’s talk rosé. In a few days, I’ll highlight some white and red wines available in the June 10th. This release has loads of ‘old favourites’ in a current vintage plus a few new faces. The rosé old standbys include:

2016 Château Val Joanis Tradition Rosé #707281 $15.95 – This is from the Luberon so leans weight-wise toward Tavel and away from Provence. A bit heavier than the latter, structured and capable of matching with heavier fare than you might usually pair with rosé. I always get a couple of these for my shelves that I can pop in the summer but also keep for a cooler time.

Staying with rosé, there’s the Brangelina wine, if we can use that portmanteau anymore, 2016 Miraval Rosé #342584 $22.95. I’ve bought this in the past with the hope that, Brad or Angelina might reward loyalty to their wine by producing my screenplay – Raiders of The Lost Vat – suffice to say that it involves wine, a whip, a staggeringly handsome wine blogger from Ontario, and some flirty women – my casting would include Penelope Cruz, yeah? About the wine? Another blogger expressed disappointment with this wine given the price point and the scads of alternatives at lower prices. I agree the wine is perhaps a bit pricey but spending on rosé shouldn’t be antithetical. Exhibit 1 is the Whispering Angel that I’ve recommended previously @$26.95. The Miraval is a lovely Provence bone dry, crisp and strawberry rosé but I’m thinking the caché of Brangelina and la famille Perrin who make it drives the price point a little. Bottle is cool (large punt – size matters) and I think it’s worth a splurge.

Don’t forget the rosés that I’ve recommended over the last few weeks. You can read about them here and here. Stock up, chill, and invite me over.

I’ll be back in a few days with some reds ands whites for June 10th.

Cheers.

Bill

Aborted Crop Tour – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

26 May

I arrived at the lake this past weekend with a mighty thirst after battling the throngs straggling north from Toronto. And, the tradition is that as soon as you turn on to the cottage road, you have to open a beer. Yes, a brown rocket, a road pop, a traveller as we used to call them. It just seems like the right thing to do and I haven’t driven the car off the very narrow and hilly cottage road yet.

A trusted traveller from the past

But there was an issue – stop the truck, pop the back, rifle through the spring stock-up and pull out a warm beer. Oh yeah, and suffer the ubiquitous black flies as they gnaw on my all too too sullied flesh (not many wine blogs can weave in Hamlet, yeah?) ….. So this time, “To hell with tradition. No beer en route.”

One year, a friend and I popped into the mother ship in Washago to pick up some cold beer on our way in. We got it to the counter when I discovered that it wasn’t twist off but required a bottle opener. I said to my friend, “Wait, we won’t be able to open that in the car,” and my friend switched out the beer for a more accessible brand. The cashier looked at us and said, “You’re kidding, right? Because if you’re not, I shouldn’t sell this to you.” We assured her that we were just foolin’ around. But, lesson learned.

We arrived at the cottage, unpacked, made the bed, turned on the water pump, checked for squirrels (I hate squirrels), put the groceries (read: wine and liquor) away, and The Director headed down to the dock to catch a few rays. But what to have with dinner? It’s never too early to consider the implications of a great pairing or of a disastrous one. But suffice it to say, I wanted rosé regardless of food. And, it just so happened that I had brought up a bottle of the 2016 Whispering Angel #325076 $26.95. Reflect back on my ringing endorsement of this wine here. This is great rosé! I don’t kid around.

This week’s release (May 27) focuses on Southern Italy. This is in my sweet spot but I haven’t had any of the offerings, save the one below – so maybe after I’ve tried a few, I’ll let you know. Instead we are just going to have a wander around the rest of the world. Before I start, just a heads up that there are two rosés this week. Both are recommended each year – the 2016 Château La Tour de l’Évêque Rosé #319392 $18.95 and 2016 Gassier Sables d’Azur Rosé #033621 $16.95. These are both Côtes de Provence and available for the next few months usually. Great crisp summer rosés – nervy, fresh, dry. Can be paired with salads, light BBQ and great with fish or seafood. I enjoy the La Tour so much that I asked for a bottle for Christmas and, damn if I didn’t get one! Shout out to S & B.

Sardinia is included in the Southern Italy feature and an Essentials red is the 2014 Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva #425488 $14.95. Cannonau is Sardinian for Grenache, Garnacha. This is a rustic, gutsy wine – so, food is a must – maybe ribs, pork something or other. Its medium plus body, leathery finish and Garnacha fruit make it a solid value. It’s on sale now ($2 off) at the price above.

A 2010 Bordeaux can be a beaut. 2010 was the third or was it fourth “Vintage of The Century.” It’s hard to keep track of those expert self-promoters, Les Bordelaise. This week there’s a relatively cheap 2010 – Château Blaignan #416727 $21.95. This wine doesn’t need any more time down below although could withstand a couple more years, if you’re so inclined. It’s ready for pop and pour. Smooth, well balanced – perhaps a bit lighter than I was expecting. Bordeaux blend scents of cassis. Some oakiness dissipates after a swallow or two. Good value in Bordeaux.

I’m sounding a bit like a broken record because I’ve recommended the 2005 Balbas Reserva #085183 $21.95 a gazillion times. Sandalwood or cedar on the nose (I know there’s a difference there but I can’t tell), loads of warmth and structure still. Very youthful for a wine that’s already over 10 years old. Impress someone with this as a host(ess) gift.

While I was at the cottage, I popped the cork on a bottle of the 2014 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Baco Noir #461699 $24.95. This is a substantial wine. I’m not sure if any of you Ontarians out there can remember when the first few vintages of Malivoire’s Old Vines Foch came out. Oh, it almost made you giddy. It still kind of does for me. Well, this is in that class. A lesser known and modestly vinted grape masterfully delivered. Dates and jamminess. This has an almost port-like finish. Nuts and dark fruits. Henry of Pelham makes a decent entry level Baco Noir as well. But, once you’ve had this, you’re not going back there.

Let me know if you have any illegal traditions involving vacations. I can’t be the only one.

Cheers.

Bill

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