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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

Young Bruce and The Rosé/White Daily Slosh

9 May

This day (May 9) in 1974, Bonnie Raitt played a concert at Harvard Square in Cambridge Mass. The opening act was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Rolling Stone critic John Landau saw Springsteen and wrote, ” I have seen rock n’ roll’s future and his name is Bruce Springsteen.” The Boss looks so young in this video.

There’s a thing that I perceive in wine circles. I’m not sure if it has a real name so I’ll call it ‘wine agnosticism’. It means that wine peeps don’t give too much bias to a certain wine variety. What I mean is that wine peeps seem to appreciate all wines. It’s kind of like a code. You’re supposed to be accepting of every mainstream wine and adventuresome on the not-so-mainstream varieties, if you want to call yourself a wine geek. My impression is that it’s a personal failing if you can’t find anything good to say about a whole class or a single variety of wine. Particularly, if it’s a sample. Sort of like foodies – do they have to like everything as a requirement for their Foodie Membership Card? Not many restaurant reviews start off with, “I didn’t try the oysters as I can’t stand them.” See what I mean.

Confession: I don’t appreciate all wines no matter how well done they are. Big, brash, oaked Cab Sav? Not for me; no matter how cultish or expensive they might be. Cava? Sorry, unless I’m in Spain, I’m going for another type of bubbly. There are others as well. Not many but a couple. And, oh yeah, the biggest none starter for me is Pinot Grigio. And don’t tell me that I just haven’t had the good ones. I have.

So, does this mean that I have to surrender my wine creds? Do I have to appreciate all wines to have a wine blog? I’ll let you decide. Be gentle.

Why the ramble? Well, this week’s (May 13th) release features saké. Now, I’ve had saké as a matter of politesse at an Asian restaurant. Oh, and I bought a bunch when I visited the Toronto saké company – Izumi – in the Distillery District. But, I don’t get it, really. I approach it like a book that’s frustratingly difficult to get in to – I’m not going to run out of good books to read/wine to drink, so why put myself through this? Could be why War and Peace is still on the shelf. So folks, no saké for you!

When people outside of Canada think of Canadian wines, they probably think Inniskillin and/or ice wine. Indeed, Inniskillin is a fixture of domestically and internationally marketed Canadian wine. They have holdings in the Okanagan as well as Niagara and slay it with many of their labels. This week, there’s the Niagara Peninsula 2014 Inniskillin Reserve Riesling #034025 $18.95. This is dry with loads of green apples and tree fruit. Crisp – serve chilled with seafood or munchies. Could develop nicely over time if you want to cellar. If you buy the Flat Rock Nadja’s Vineyard (which I do), this is a nice example of the differences site provides. The result is significantly more minerally in Nadja and more accessible fruit up front in Innikillin’s take. Cool

Another white that would line up nicely for upcoming summer dinners is the 2014 Tom Gore Chardonnay #458810 $19.95. This is a straight up California Chard with some butter and yet a really nice crisp finish. Nary a syrupy note that sometimes rears it’s head with some of these wines.

 

 

In a recent post, I sang the praises of rosé and recommended some worthy efforts in the new vintage. This week, I need to add a couple more. The 2016 Domaine des Carteresses Tavel Rosé #739474 $17.95 is a beaut. Tavel for me is the pink that I quaff after dark. It is so much more forthright than most rosés. Big on the swirl and the swallow but dry, strawberry goodness. Hint of garrigue. This is for you red drinkers out there that eschew rosés as insipid or light-weight. Pick it up and if you don’t like it, send the unfinished bottle to me.

The other pink newly available this week is another wine from Provence; more correctly stated AP Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence – the 2016 Saint Aix Rosé #490904 $45.95.  Before you dismiss it as too expensive, remember it’s a 1500 ml bottle. For Bill, he just has to remember how many Whispering Angels he purchased last week @ $26.95 to understand the value. BTW, Whispering Angels are not the new dance troupe at the Beef Baron Gentleman’s Club. Think how impressive that big bottle of Aix would be sitting on your patio table, very quickly draining – causing just a little concern among your fiends as to your drinking habits. Don’t be too hard on yourself. This is good shit and deserves a quick demise. Similar to my earlier posted Provence rosé, this is crisp, bone dry, and full of cherries, strawberries and perhaps many other easily suggestible red fruits. Go ahead and say raspberry and watch everyone nod their heads, “Yeah, I catch the raspberry too,” they’ll say. Sophisticated wine.

I’ll be back later in the week with a few reds to pick up.

Cheers

Bill

Remember: You can check your city’s inventory by clicking on the link (SKU and Price), dropping down the ‘Cities” menu, choosing your burg, and clicking on Find Stores.

 

Ginny and The Rosé Daily Slosh

28 Apr

Ginny and her Cong

We used to have a great Labrador Retriever named Ginny. She was everyone’s dog – neighbours’, family and friends’. Her near perfection (in our minds) has made us reluctant to get another dog. Who could compare to her? We’d just judge, love less, and destroy the new dog’s confidence and self-image. It’s kind of like your second child. You try to love them as much as the first but they’re toast from the get go. Just kidding, Andrew.

Well, this has something to do with this week’s release as it’s got loads of rosé. How does that relate, you ask? Well, I’ve picked out the name for our next Labrador Retriever if we can pull the trigger – Rose. See, there’s a connection – tenuous but………

The new rosés are this past vintage (2016) in most cases and I haven’t had them in the current year but I find that rosés tend to have a house style or a consistency between vintages at least to my palate. So, I’m recommending them sight untasted based on the 2015 vintage.

A few posts ago, I mentioned that there wasn’t any wine that tasted as much like the Mediterranean as did rosé from Provence. It evokes Antibbes, Menton, Nice. Well, how about 2 wines from Côtes du Provence? Both of these are bone dry.

I was at a roof-top bar in NYC last year and the person who had gotten us through security with simply a whisper in the ear of a very big guy asked me to recommend her a nice sipping wine. I whispered back that she would appreciate the Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé #325076 $16.95. She loved it! She really loved it! This wine may be my favourite rosé outside of a Tavel. It carries the citrus scents and gargle that’s typical of Provence. Plus, it is so friggin’ smooth. Seriously. You know the smack that many rosés provide. Well, this has it but the sensation is ‘hard to explain’ is what’s in my notes. Exquisite and not to be wasted on moments that you’re not going to give it the full attention it deserves. Have it with just a friend or a maximum of two friends, if like me, you only have two. Don’t be distracted. And, if you’ve been holding on to a couple bottles of Brangelina’s rosé, Miraval, pop the cork on those suckers and reload your cellar with this. It’s far, far better.

A perennial recommendation on these pages is the Carte Noir Rosé #319384 $18.95. It’s made by Les Maìtres Vignerons de la Presqu’ile de Saint-Tropez. Saint-Tropez is where Brigitte Bardot resided for many years. I previously recommended this wine with the following endorsement, “I believe that Brigitte Bardot lived in Saint-Tropez when she was, well, really hot. Maybe as un hommage to Brigitte, you could chill a bottle of this and serve with roast endangered species, carpaccio di baby seal?” This is crisp and the use of Cinsault provides some brushy characteristics – light and refreshing. It’s full of the red fruits of Grenache and moderate ABV at 13.5%. Perfect for the sun or apres-sun with some olives, tomatoey stuff, and bread.

Two other rosés that I’ve loved in years past are the Brancaia Rosé #490938 $19.95 and the Viña Esmeralda Rosé #490 920 $13.95. The first is made from 100% Merlot that’s had some time to sit on the lees in stainless steel. It’s bone dry and smooth – sophisticated. They take a similar approach to their red wines, in particular Tre and Ilatraia – balanced, elegant. A wine to sip with your smoking jacket on and Debussy spinning on the turntable. OK, forget Debussy, he was a bit weird. So, put on Amy Winehouse or Paloma Faith.

The Torres effort – Viña Esmeralda has a little more rock and roll and a hint of sweetness. I’d say it’s best when the sun is still up. Mostly Garnacha – so red and flowery. It might more approximate a New World rosé for me. Maybe Rush and flip flops?

Cheers

Bill

I will post on more great wines in this (April 29) release later. And, I will post my annual Rosés For The Dock edition just before we kick off summer.

Sale – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

31 Mar

The mothership has a lot of wines. Hell, they introduce about 120 new ones every other weekend. And, when you have that many wines, you need to put a few on sale to open up some shelf space. I bought a case of sale wine this week. Best buys were Bibi Graetz’ Casamatta Rosso #330712 $12.25 (sorry, I cleared out Masonville) and two appasimento faves 2014 The Foreign Affair The Conspiracy #149237 $17.95 and 2013 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre #632971 $20.95 – I believe the Palazzo is only on sale in certain stores (Masonville had it on sale).

I just love the Allegrini wine – a baby Amarone for half the price. I really don’t need it to be on sale to lust after it. And, The Conspiracy is a great introduction to how this winery approaches the method to enrich flavours without being overly raisiny or hot with alcohol – this wine at only 13%. Both great efforts.

The Casammatta is a nice, simple sipping red for pizza or Eggos with whipped cream. If you want to peruse the wines on sale you can find them here. Note that it’s “while supplies last’ and many may be gone or not available at your local. Scroll down the list as there are some great values there that I didn’t mention and you might find your favourite on sale.

Baseball season is upon us. Basketball playoffs and the opening of baseball season are about the two greatest times in sport. Oh yeah, and The Masters is next weekend. This time of year also marks the beginning of fantasy baseball season. Now, point of clarification, fantasy baseball is not where Victoria Secret models beat out grounders or turn a nifty double play around the horn. Although….it could be a fantasy for some. Back on earth, I had my fantasy baseball draft last weekend. And, as is the practice, I brought a tasty wine to accompany my cunning assembly of the eventual winning team. Can you spell Repeat? I picked it as the last of my stash of this wine knowing that this weekend (April 1), it was going to be back on the shelves. The 2006 Ardal Reserva #167700 $21.95 is a wine that I bought a bunch of when it last visited town. This wine is drinking perfectly right now (why my half a case disappeared so quickly) and continuing for another three or four years. It’s mature – balanced, smooth – judicious use of oak leads to a cedar sniff but not enough to blot out the scrubbiness or the dark fruit on the shortening swallow. And sticking with the theme, there’s a hint of leather on the nose. Tannins well integrated and it still possesses enough acid to avoid flabbiness. I think it’s one of the better values in aged Ribera del Duero wines that I’ve seen in a while. Similar in style to the 2005 Balbas Reserva that I always pimp. Get a bunch!

Chile brings value. In fact, I recommended a Casillero del Diablo wine to my niece as a host gift that became the hosts new BFF. You don’t have to sell the farm to get tasty treats from this country. This week, 2014 Primus The Blend #712463 $19.95 arrives. Truth be told, it’s been herre for a while already. I opened a bottle last week and have to disagree with James Suckling. I didn’t find the wine ready to “Drink now.” It seemed pretty serious and reserved. I agree that it is chewy which reminded me in mouthfeel a bit of Barossa Shiraz but this is a blend of Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon with some wee bits of Petit Verdot and Merlot. After I left it alone for an hour or two, which in my case requires some serious restraint, it opened up and had a meaty, medium bodied, dustiness to it. I think that it may proceed to a better place in time or just decant now for a couple hours. Great food wine.

At our house, there’s my wine and then there’s that of The Director. Despite the trends of the day (ABC, etc.), she is firmly ensconced in the ATC club Anything That’s Chardonnay. And, when we venture to the lake, it’s a couple of La Cremas or Mer Soleils that accompany us each time. This week, the 2014 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay #962886 $29.95 returns. What can I say? It’s a prototypical Sonoma Chardonnay with oak present but not overwhelming, apples, and a little citrus. Creamy finish. If this is your style, grab one or two. It is “Director Approved” and extremely food friendly.

We have a friend who is always popping a cork on sparkling wine as soon as you cross the threshold. Yes you guessed it, I go to her house every morning now. I think that I’ve got her off the Prosecco and on to the Crémant de Anything. But, my favourite is the ‘de Bourgogne’ made from the aforementioned Chardonnay. The Bailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne #991562 $19.95 is full value. Dry, crisp and lively. A great ‘first’ sip – not to be confused with a food wine. If not this exact wine, you should be able to find a Crémant de Bourgogne by either Louis Bouillot or Cave de Lugny in brut or brut rosé – both superior examples of the style and worth every penny – hey, we don’t have pennies anymore, yahoo – worth every nickel.

Some frequent flyers on this site, gave me a heads up that the 2011 Iturria Tinto #481408 $20.95 was good juice. I picked up a couple bottles and tasted it the other night. It is a sophisticated wine, well settled into its drinking window. Significant time in oak shows it in the nose but has softened over time in bottle – good balance – peppery – Garnacha fruit peeking through. Tempranillo and a small dose of Garnacha from Toro where value is good. Shout out to Joanne and Oliver.

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.

On Borders and The Sparkling Daily Slosh

27 Jan
border-wall

And the French will pay for it!

The other day I opened a bottle of red Bordeaux only to find that the bottle was corked, bad, stinky. It ruined my week of sipping! And, it frightened me – I have a bunch of red Bordeaux in my cellar. Do I need to fear them all? So, I’m penning this post to warn you. Oh, I know it’s a broad brush and I’m sure there are red Bordeaux that are good bottles – it really has nothing to do with all Bordeaux. In fact, I have friends that are Bordeaux. Let’s face it, though – Bordeaux are the predominant wines that lean to corkiness – those few can bastardize the true meaning and message of Bordeaux for their nefarious goals. The only way to ensure that we aren’t savaged by tainted bottles is to: 1) take an accurate inventory of the red Bordeaux in all cellars – I’ll set up a central database (please use form below) – if we know where they lurk, we can protect ourselves; and, 2) bar our borders to any more red Bordeaux coming into the country. What’s that you say? You’ve had “a corked bottle of California Chardonnay. Isn’t it winest to discriminate against a single wine?” No, don’t fall for that false equivalency. Let me explain – that’s an alternative fact that the Bordelais sow to get us to relax our vigilance on the red menace. Following that logic, soon all we will be able to drink is red Bordeaux to be………PC. California Chardonnay won’t be able to get a job. Then, the red Bordeaux get into Canada and voilà (to use our other official language – so you see it’s already working), we get corked.

Now, let’s get in to recommendations for the release of February 4th..

Having a few bottles of reasonably priced sparkling wine around is key to…………drinking reasonably priced sparkling wine. I usually have a enough bottles of Cremant de Something, Niagara bubbles, Cava, carpene-malvoltiand/or Prosecco to meet the requirement of a non financially painful fizzy to start the evening. And, I really love two of the sparkling wines featured in the February 4th release. The Carpene Malvolti 1868 Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore #727438 $18.95 should become your ‘go to’ Prosecco. It’s drier than a popcorn fart. How’s that for evocative description? It has a great amount of energy bursting from the glass – apples, peaches and a bit of sea salt – great acidity and the bubbles are softer than most Prosecco for me. Classy stuff for the price.
louis-bouillotThen, there’s the Louis Bouillot Perle d’Ivoire Blanc de Blancs Crémant de Bourgogne #048801 $19.95. This is a Chardonnay with the typical green apples and citrus character of the fruit. Much more citrusy and fuller bodied than the Prosecco. A hint of yeast like a good Champagne. Carries a lot of flavour on the swallow. I have a couple of these down below and, if it wasn’t 10 am, I’d be tempted to pop a cork on one of them right now. A perfect wine for brunch? You bet. This doesn’t always end well.

Cheers.

Bill

You didn’t expect a Bordeaux registration form here, did you?

Ludwig Von Dufton and The Rainbow Daily Slosh

20 Jan

ludwidvondrakeRiding on the train yesterday, I sat across the aisle from a couple of youthful academics. They conversed the whole 2 and a half hours about their field of study. Seriously – all the way. No let up. Did I say that they didn’t stop? I squirmed, I tried to turn them off, but it just dragged on and on. And, then I thought, “I wonder if two wine geeks sitting together on a train discussing the very critical issue of wine closures would piss off other passengers?” I mean, we’d need more than 2 and a half hours but I’m just using it as an example. Closures! Really, really important stuff.

corksI thought of my insufferable soliloquies at dinner parties about some arcane piece of wine junk as people’s eyes glazed over. And I realized – hey wine geeks – no one gives a shit about this stuff but us. Like the academics, we are submerged in our very, very important world. And, I got a little piece of perspective on that world today. That being said, let’s get real – corks or Stelvin are the only closures – and Stelvin only if you don’t require cellar time (air quotes) or the seductive pop of a cork.

The January 21st release has a few wines that are of interest. gassierThere’s a rosé that I’ve recommended before – 2015 Gassier Sables d’Azur Rosé #033621 $16.95. This is a typical pink from the Côtes du Provence – dry, snappy, medium-bodied goodness. I know the freezing rain outside doesn’t scream – “ROSÉ” but regardless, pink is good for occasions other than just sitting in the sun munching pan com tomate. I’m thinking, you arrive home after a hard day (of which I don’t have anymore – hard days, that is) to find a quiet house and only a few things to nosh – bread, olive oil, and olives. What to drink? Hey, if you’ve been paying attention, it’s this crisp cherry treat. Even if you haven’t any bread, olives or olive oil………well, I’d drink this by itself with the lights out and Barry White on. Correction of tense: I have had this with the lights out and no food but paired with Astrid Gilberto and tearful nostalgia. Maybe I needed to share. Perfect match.

tragicallyhipA few months ago, I suggested that I was buying a wine to celebrate the Tragically Hip’s last tour. Not sure if you watched the last concert in Kingston but I did. It was emotional – all I’m saying. I did buy and drink the wine too. The wine? 2015 The Tragically Hip Fully Completely Grand Reserve Red #411595 $24.95. This is pure Niagara. A blend of Bordeaux grapes – Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as Merlot. This is an endorsement of the belief that Niagara Bordeaux varieties need a little cuddle time – blending. This is much lighter than you’d expect. Subtle, dark fruit, structured for a longer term, and a bit dirty as would befit The Hip. I’m keeping a bottle or two down below to celebrate The Hip and Gord Downie at an appropriate time.

Have I told you that I love Beaujolais? Duh. We had company over the other night and I opened a bottle of Morgon – Jean Michel Dupré Vieilles Vignes de 1935 Morgon #440297 $19.95. They loved it. Perfect sipping wine on a cold descombeswinter evening. I got a bunch of it. This week, there’s the 2012 Jean-Ernest Descombes Morgon #946186 $21.95 from Georges Duboeuf. This wine is a keeper – it can cellar for at least 5 years rounding out some of the zip it exhibits now. Complexity is somewhat oxymoronic for many Beaujolais but this one carries some leathery stuff while not abandoning the fresh red fruits both on the sniff and swallow. It’s interesting. Given that it’s approaching Super Bowl time, I’d say a perfect Super Bowl sipper with onion and sour cream chips. Pretzels?

honoroCheap wine that I might recommend is hard to find. When I do find something that lands in that space, it’s usually an Iberian wine. I recommended the cousin of the 2015 Honoro Vera Monastrell #167684 $13.95 a couple times before. That’s the Garnacha (#432997 $12.95). They are both super value wines. The Granacha is a bit more round, easy drinking. But, the Monastrell is a beaut at this price too. Very peppery, big flavours and a Jimmy Durante nose. Intense. Way more wine than $13.95 deserves. They both have ultra cool labels too.

susanabalbocsThis release has a focus on Argentina. And when I think Argentina, I think Susana Balbo. Well, I think Buenos Aires, gauchos, Torrontes, and beef but I also think Susana. Then again, I’ve got a crush. What do I see but 2014 Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon #260919 $19.95? This is a drink now, crowd pleasing cab sav. Typical of the variety, medium to full-bodied – little cassis, little blackberry. Want a ‘go to’ for company? Stand around or dinner? This is it.

expressivoThen, also from the Balbo stable, there is the 2014 Benmarco Expressivo #263517 $39.95. This is exquisite. Crazy complex and furry. Needing a few years to sit in the bottle deciding what it wants to be when it grows up or a couple hours of decant minimum. This is what South America can craft from Malbec. It’s the Argentinean equivalent to Montes’  Purple Angel Carmenere which means it’s friggin’ great. Or for another option at high class Malbec, there’s Laura Catena’s 2014 Luca Malbec #167312 $33.95. It’s not in this release but still out there, I think – elegant and deep.

I just noticed that the labels for this week’s recos are crazy cool. Could I have been influenced by the labels alone? Nah – but the closures, absolutely.

Cheers.

Bill

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