Tag Archives: 2013 Abad Dom Bueno Mencia

Cheap Wine Woes – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

27 Apr

I read a piece at http://www.cnn.com about the price of cheap wine rising due to “weak harvests in key markets including Europe and South Africa”. You can read it here. The harvest in 2017 produced 25 billion litres of wine down from 26.7 in 2016 and 27.6 in 2015. Although that’s somewhat depressing – 1.7 billion fewer litres to drink, aargh – it’s doubly troubling as it increases the cost of wholesale basic wine (74% in Italy) and puts pressure on producers with small margins to deliver on cheaper wines. Stay tuned to see how this plays out.

Typical Tinos walkway

We all have cheap wine stories. My worst experience with über cheap wine was while in Tinos, a small island in the Cyclades. My friend and I left our wives behind while we went to pick up some local wine and chips to guzzle and munch back in the sun by our rooms. We wandered into a small convenience store just down the road. We had forgotten that stores were closed for the afternoon but being bargy North American tourists, it was unlocked so we just walked into a dark little store. We could hear the sound of a television (a Greek soap opera?) from the back room. Eventually a woman stuck her head out and we explained that we wanted a bottle of white and a bottle of red. She took us to the back, pulled out a couple used but hopefully clean 2 litre plastic pop bottles and filled each of them from small casks. No mention of variety, barrel age, or terroir. I believe they were €2 each! Suffice to say, that it taught me that price shouldn’t be the deciding factor in wine purchase. Also beware a vintage that’s a month not a year.

The silver lining in rising cheap wine prices for some of us? It serves to reinforce the notion that it’s OK to spend a little more on wine. That’s my mantra when cost rears its ugly head. “Go ahead, Bill, you will just waste that extra money on food and shelter if you don’t go all-in on a First Growth or two.”

This week’s release (April 28th) features a few great values and an impressive Okanagan icon.

I’ve pimped the 2009 and 2013 Abad Dom Bueno Mencía #291989 $16.95 many times here and I see that there’s still a tonne of the ’13 at the mothership. It’s case worthy to have on hand as perhaps one of the safest red wines to pop for company. This week there’s another Mencía wine from the same region of Spain – Bierzo. Topic: Mencía – it’s a red grape that’s predominantly found in Bierzo with a little over the border in Portugal as well. My first run in with the grape was in Alvaro Palacios’ beautiful Descendientes de J. Palacios Pétalos which has been offered here for a few years now. These wines can vary in quality quite a bit. But, lately are a bit more refined and refreshing than, say, a Rioja. Less serious. This week there’s the 2014 Casar de Burbia Mencía #392530 $19.95 to get excited about. This is a nervy effort – fresh, aromatic, and lip smackingly good. You can just sip it around the patio or serve with some seafood tapas. If you’ve never tried Mencía, can I suggest something? How about you pick up a bottle of the Abad Dom Bueno and this one. Invite some friends over, pop a few corks and get acquainted with this grape.

Staying with the aforementioned Alvaro Palacios, the 2016 vintage of his Camins del Priorat #216291 $30.95  hits the shelves this week. I haven’t had this vintage but have had the 2014. If the style is consistent, this will be a savoury effort. Meaty and spicy. I had the 2014 with Manchego, ground black pepper, olive oil and crusty bread. Good news? I still have another 2014 down below.

At a friendlier price point is the 2015 Saint-Roch Vieilles Vignes Syrah/Grenache #195107 $16.95. You may remember fondly the Saint-Roch Chimieres in the 2012 and 2013 vintages. This is its little brother. Although a wine from Côtes du Roussillon, it speaks to me of a Côtes du Rhone. Well, it only speaks when I’m drinking alone and considering a second bottle. But, if you like Côtes du Rhone, you’ll appreciate this – pure fruit without the wood (done in concrete tanks) – red berries, spice, herbs, and tenderness. This, like the Abad above is a perfect wine to pick up enough so that you can confidently pop a cork when company unexpectedly arrives. Like so many reds, this improves with air.

Yes, it does seem like Spring out there finally. So, what better time to celebrate with a rosé? Rosés can be quite inexpensive but a mild splurge can’t hurt, can it? The 2017 Miraval #342584 $23.95 is just the tonic we need after a long winter and shy early Spring. This is made by Famille Perrin for Brangelina. Can you still call them that? And, I wonder how they split this family property. Regardless, it’s a cute bottle (with a yuuuge punt – wink, wink), a cute wine, and a good story to tell. Very strawberry in the sniff, it has  a large presence on the mouth as well – medium-bodied. Citrusy on the finish – refreshing as a good Cötes de Provence should be. Pick this up for your first deck party, chill it well, and discuss who is really to blame for the Brad and Angelina split. I really don’t like either of them.

Niagara does Riesling well. And, in my view, the best is made from Beamsville and Twenty Mile Bench fruit. They are more mineral-driven. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll remember my love of Flat Rock Cellars’ Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling, Vineland’s St. Urban’s Vineyard Riesling or the multitude of different Rieslings from Tawse. Well, this week, Creekside joins the gang with their 2016 Creekside Marianne Hill Riesling #443572 $21.95. This is also a mineral-driven wine with a lively combination of citrus and peaches – I know that’s weird. A vein of acidity that carries through to a snappy finish. A good wine to stick down to allow those Riesling petrol/kerosene notes to develop.

A Riesling that I’m going to try is the 2016 Hidden Bench Estate Riesling #183491 $23.95. These guys and gals make extraordinary wines and I’ve yet to try their Riesling. If you pick one up, let me know what you think.

Some splurge-worthy wines:

2014 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin #626325 $47.95 – From the Okanagan. Made in partnership by Groupe Taillion of Bordeaux (Château Gruaud Larose) and Constellation Brands of Canada. In vintages past, it’s a great reflection of that pedigree as well as the character of the Okanagan. Serious wine.

2012 Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano #368910 $32.95 – Lovely ‘drink now’ wine with substantial Italian fare.

Cheers.

Bill

New Year – New Rainbow Daily Slosh

4 Jan

Thought a Barcelona Gypsy Klezmer Band video might stir you out of your winter doldrums. Hang with it, it’s good fun. Get out of your chair and dance along. Bet you can’t name all the movies used. Leave your guesses in the Comment section below.

Trust you all had a great holiday/Christmas break. I had a superb time, thanks for asking.

As a wine aficionado, I frequently get wine themed gifts for Christmas. This year was no exception. Great books, gift certificates to the mothership, and gadgets. The ‘big’ gadget this year was a Coravin from The Director, er, Santa. For the uninitiated, it’s a gizmo that can extract a glass/sip of wine from a corked bottle without damaging the wine. In other words you can wander through your cellar tasting to see what’s ready, what’s not, and simply treating yourself to some of the untouchables without pulling the cork. God, that sounds fun – I may step away from the MacBook for a second…………back now.

Where was I? Coravin……Well, word to the wise: do the Coravin party tricks  early in the evening and definitely not after several bottles of wine have already been consumed. My family now has a video of yours truly enthusiastically plunging the Coravin into several bottles of his best. Getting excited? Of course, it is kind of a wine porn thing. Another word to the wise? RTFM!! Just sayin’.

Some quick recos for the upcoming (January 6th) release.

Have you ever been abroad and had a wine that was ‘perfect’? Revelatory, evocative of place and time? And you thought – I need to take a case of this home. “3 Whoas!” “Fanfreakingtastic!” Then, brought it home with you, popped the cork only to wonder what happened to that beautiful wine you enjoyed while sitting in a street-side café in Aix-en-Provence. It’s…..well, disappointing. Let’s hope this next wine isn’t one of those.

While in Italy this past September, I plumbed the depths of Morellino di Scansano. Oh yeah, I did plumb. We don’t get a ton (tonne?) of it here. It’s usually reasonably priced and is never over the top – understated. So, I wanted to get as much of it as I could while there. And, what do I see in this week’s catalogue but one of those wines – 2015 Fattoria le Pupile Morellino di Scansano #455659 $17.95. This is bigger than most MdS – medium plus body. Vibe? Well, I thought Piedmonte, not Tuscany – Dolcetto-esque in mouthfeel – refreshing, youthful. Very aromatic wine and perfect with a tomato pasta dish or better yet – a pizza. I love this style of wine – straightforward, fruit driving the experience.

A good friend loves the wines of Southwest France – Madiran, Cahors, Gaillac, Marcillac, among others. He has spent a fair bit of time in the Dordogne and Bergerac which makes him my ‘go to’ guy on these wines. He has trumpeted the cause of Madiran wines for years now and, I have to admit, I’m hooked. The reds are made primarily from the Tannat variety. Don’t feel bad – I had to Google it the first time I heard of it too. Not a staple in many markets. It’s a hardy, thick skinned (AKA non-Trump) variety. It usually needs time to soften, evolve.

So, seeing the 2014 Aydie l’Origine Madiran #343566 $14.95 made by la Famille Laplace back in the mothership, I placed an order. This might be the cheapest cellar starter I know of. That doesn’t mean you can’t drink it now, it just takes a decant and/or some violent swishing and/or time in the glass. It will grow on you, trust me. This one is fairly settled already, finding a nice balance between its blended tannin, acidity, and the darkness of the fruit. No cherries here. Only to further improve and open up in the dark of a closet. This wine ranked #59 on Wine Spectator’s Best Buys for 2016. The next step up in this line is la Famille Laplace’s Ode d’Aydie ($22.95). I have a couple of the 2012 of this downstairs – the 2014 of the Ode was #29 on Wine Enthusiast’s Best Wines of 2017. So, you can see the accepted incredible value in these wines.

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned Dominio del Plata and Susanna Balbo, their winemaker. Well, here I go again – the 2014 Benmarco Malbec #657601 $18.95. This is benchmark entry-level Malbec for me. Full-bodied, deep and dark (is there a campfire song there – 🎵 Deep and Dark, Deep and Dark 🎵 Anyone follow?). Just a smooth sipping beaut. And, I think this vintage might be the best yet and that’s saying something. Please bring me a steak.

Chilean Carmenère is a wonder. It seems to be one of the few big selling varieties that isn’t being replicated anywhere else in the world. So, when I taste a good one, I remember. That’s the issue with the 2015 Caliterra Tributo Single Vineyard Carmenère #056630 $17.95 – it’s memorable. Carmenère at this price point with the depth, complexity, spiciness, and telltale Carmenère smokiness is a keeper. Ready now but could stick around through summer of 2018 – meaning BBQ – perfect.

Every year, I get a few Niagara Rieslings – the Flat Rock Nadja’s Vineyard, Thirty Bench Riesling, Cave Springs CSV Riesling, Tawse’s Sketches Riesling, and the Vineland Elevation Riesling. The 2016 Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling #038117 $19.95 is an off-dry yet crisp and sassy Riesling with the qualities of an aged wine of this variety – petrol on the nose and on the slick finish – citrus pushing the front and soft fruits bringing up the rear after the swallow. Just a perfect example of what Niagara can do with this variety. Opulent.

A friend called pre-Chruistmas looking for a reasonably priced wine to stock for the family blitz that was coming. I suggested the 2013 Abad Dom Bueno Mencia #291989 $16.95 considering his penchant for the Iberian peninsula. But really, you just have to appreciate good drinking reds to love this. I recommended a month ago here. There still remains a whack of this wine at the mothership  – so get thee hither and pick some up before it’s gone.

 

Cheers.

Bill

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..

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