Tag Archives: 2013 La Vite Lucente

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

Back Home and Unsettled

3 Aug

Love, love, love this song. It sums up my return home from the lake – needing a rest. Saw a great documentary called Spirit Unforgettable (on HBO Canada) about John Mann, the head writer, guitarist, and singer for Spirit of The West, and his early onset Alzheimers diagnosis – in his early 50’s for God’s sake. If you can stream it, watch – it’s gut wrenching and inspiring.

I’m back from the lake. It’s challenging to be cut off from everything except Toronto sports radio (making Leafs shit up to talk about) and my small screen iPhone. No internet, unless I drive half an hour to the local library – which I did but once in three weeks. Oh, I would wander to the woefully inadequate ‘general’ store for a copy of the Toronto Star once in awhile (New York Times crossword and Sudoku needs). And you won’t believe this – I didn’t hear the word ‘Trump’ once – which is, after returning home, impossible to conceive, yeah?

I was completely out of touch on world affairs. While up at the lake, my youngest informed me by email that there was a coup going on in Turkey and that he was, in fact, there in Istanbul right then. A coup? How’d I miss that?He’d be fine – now home safe and sound in Providence. But, the important thing?

How much wine did I have left? Could I make it to the end without a time sucking trip to the Gravenhurst mother ship. I didn’t. And, that wasn’t because I drank too much. Rather I hadn’t planned to drink that much, you see. It was the planning that was wrong. It’s always the planning.

Let me review a small sample of the beverages we had while away:

2015 Hecht & Bannier Bandol Rosé #450767 $24.95 Yeah, it is more expensive than many great rosés that I’ve recommended this year. But, you see it’s Bandol and that means structure and bang. This was chilled to perfection and served pre-dinner with junk food (children were involved – hence the junk – the little buggers loved the wine too). These guys (H&B) make loads of labels from the south of France and I’ve never been disappointed. This is primarily Mourvedre with some Grenache and Cinsault thrown in to perhaps soften the profile. Lip-smacking good.

2006 Marcarini Barolo Brunate (no record of cost but it is a true splurge) All the Piedmonte purists will he shouting at the screen now. Yes, I know it was a bit young to open. But, it was my birthday and I threw caution to the wind. And that didn’t mean that it didn’t eventually open up beautifully. Intense in the extreme with herbal and earthy sniffs, spicy tobacco in the mouth and some vanilla from the barrel, I assume, on the finish. A real privilege to drink this wine. This is why I love Barolo. Can’t afford a lot of it but…
lucente

2013 La Vite Lucente #747030 $34.95 Talking to a friend the other day and he said that he could sniff out Merlot from a mile away and he never truly appreciated it. I suggested that he try some Right Bank Bordeaux before he kicks poor old Merlot to the curb. And, this Italian Merlot blend might change his mind too. This is a joint enterprise of Mondavi and Frescobaldi located in Montalcino. This wine defines the term ‘smooth’. I mean if you look up the word ‘smooth’ in the dictionary, there’s a picture of this label. Seriously good Tuscan juice. Good news? I have more down below. Yahoo!
cambria

2012 Cambria Estate Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir #980482 $29.95 If you visit here often, you’d notice that there isn’t a whole lot about California Pinot Noir. I’ve been disappointed so many times that I don’t trust myself – “Do some f**ing research, Bill! Try some better CPN’s FCOL!” I know that would help me pick the winners. So, why this wine? ‘Cause, I get it all the time and really,really appreciate it. Sour cherry but like you’d taste in a pie – softened a bit but still the bite, the acid. Earthy but not dirty. Spicy but not hot. Almost a sin to have by itself but thats just what I did. No regrets. And, if there are any California PN freaks out there, give me a few suggestions. I just love research.
sancerre2014 Henri Bourgeois Les Baronnes Sancerre #542548 $25.95 Love this wine! Perfect for pre-dinner which in this case was BBQ’d fish with mango salsa. Not appreciated by all, I’m afraid. Not the wine but the fish. This is the counterpoint to SB from NZ, like Kim Crawford or Stoneleigh’s stuff. Subtle with great acidity. Gooseberry. Lovely wine and usually available at the mother ship.

2012 Seven Falls Wahluke Slope Chardonnay #385773 $19.95 A well balanced, light Chardonnay. Great sipper. Beginning to think that Washington State does all varieties very well.
blaignan

2010 Château Blaignan #416727 $25.95 It’s damn hard to find a solid Bordeaux under $30 or, to be truly honest, $50. This is a great Bordeaux for sipping or for a meal of something a little less fatty and sturdy than steak. Tannins integrated and supportive rather than front and centre. Fruit a little muted but lots going on to create enough stuff to enjoy fully.

lugnyCaves de Lugny Brut Rosé Cremant de Bourgogne #297846 $19.95 What’s a summer day without bubbly. We had a few Proseccos and Cavas too but this rosé was the beast that we kept coming back to. What an ethereal, tasty treat. Look at that colour. If you are tired of the same old cheap Proseccos and Cavas step up a notch to this classically made wine. Huge value!

 

pommiesPommies Dry Cider #244897 $12.95 (4 pack) I have a cider freak in my family. When we travelled England, he tried every local cider while I stayed with the lovely ales and porters. I never really liked cider. But, I was at my local – The Morrissey House last month and they had the Pommies Dry Cider on tap. Gave it a try and now I’m a convert. This is made in Caledon from Ontario heritage apples, whatever the hell that means. Regardless of the provenance, it’s damn tasty. Perfect for an early afternoon, pre-nap, sip. or, you could end the evening with it. Dry as a popcorn fart.

 

That’s enough for now. Suffice it to say, we had a few more good bottles than that. Well, a way lot more.

This week at the mother ship there’s a few to pick up. I’ve wasted enough of your time already so I’ll just list them here instead of providing a description.
2010 Cims del Monsanto Garnatxa/Carinyena #311894 $15.95 Visited this winery when I was in Priorat. You can read about my visit here Monsanto provides a glimpse into the style and power of Priorate reds.
2009 Hacienda López de Haro Reserva #357335 $17.95 – a Reserva for $17.95!
2013 Fattoria le Pupille Morellino di Scansano #455659 $16.95 – maybe I’m just a Morellino slut (maybe?). I like this stuff always – Italian to the core
2011 Villa Mora Montefalco Rosso Riserva #357079 $19.95 – an Umbrian classic like Monica Bellucci (who just happens to have been born in Città di Castello in Umbria)
2013 Brancaia Tre #164715 $23.95 if I’m repeating myself on this one, forgive me. I know that I’ve fussed over this before but it’s a beaut and worth every penny.

One more Spirit song before we go. ““Cause beauty’s religion and it’s christened me with wonder.” Love that line.

Cheers
Bill

Reality Shows And The Rainbow Daily Slosh

11 Dec

I have been horribly remiss in keeping up with the mother ship’s releases. I have an excuse but won’t bore you with it. There really is no excuse for not writing about wine.

But before I wade in on wine, let me rant for a bit. Totally unrelated.

“Hi, I’m Bill and I’m a recovering insomniac”. I used to get about 4 hours of sleep a night and sleep walk through work (hopefully none of my former paying clients read this). Over the past couple years I’ve been able to get a good night’s sleep. However, the other night, I just couldn’t get to sleep. So, I wandered downstairs and sat in the dark, which is my theory on insomnia – do not do anything that might interest you or keep you awake. The fact that I unsuccessfully applied this theory to a raging case of insomnia for 20 years leads me to believe that it doesn’t work.

weddingringsIt wasn’t working this night either and I turned on the tube with a commitment to not watch anything interesting. I rolled the remote until I got to A&E – nothing ever interesting there. What’s this? I thought the show I landed on was a comedy – a spoof. It’s called “Married at First Sight”. I fully expected Dana Carvey or Will Farrell to show up. But, it wasn’t an SNL parody – it’s a show about a ‘social experiment’ (their term). If you haven’t had the displeasure – here’s the premise:

  1. Relationship experts (who, it appears got their degree through night school from GetADiploma U) choose two people to get married. These people have never met each other. Seriously, never…..met….each other
  2. Then the two have a  full blown wedding with reception, family members, etc. attending.  I am not shitting you. They don’t see each other until they’re on the aisle – staring at each other and wondering, “WTF have I got myself into?”. The pastor actually talks about marriage being a ‘sacred bond’. But he neglected to add, “Brought to you by Ford.”
  3. Then after dancing the night away, the couple go away with a thousand cameras and live together for awhile with the help of marriage counsellors, I assume, as I just saw previews. And, we get to follow their completely dysfunctional life. Only highlight might be suggestive sexual scenes. ‘Cause folks, they kind of luv each other. Then wait, Tom likes his peanut better on top of the jam instead of underneath – and now, no, they don’t luv each other.
  4. They return to meet with the ‘experts’ that put them together and make a decision – with drum roll – what will Marie and Tom decide – commercial break – fingers crossed that they……oh damn, they’re staying married.

Seriously. Who thinks this shit up? I mean a cable channel is selling Palmolive – “Tough on Grease” on the backs of people who are so needy that they volunteer their time to be on a show like this. And, it seems, aren’t evenly mildly embarrassed. Plus, people watch it. Who are those people?

Well, when you wonder how people can be attracted to Donald Trump or line up on Black Friday for hours for the single 60 inch television that’s on for $50 and then stomp on old ladies to get to it, remember that the lowest common denominator is really, really friggin’ low. Unbelievably low. Lower than something that you might think is exceptionally low – think that low to the power of 10. Did I say it’s low? Not to mention the total waste of an hour of one’s finite life to stare at this train wreck.

Enough, Bill, Stop! Point made.

OK, wine. This Saturday, there are a number of good to very good to great wines. Let’s start with the whites:

cavespringI’ve had three Chardonnays from this release that I quite like. They are different from each other but that’s the point in drinking – well, other than the buzz. The first: 2013 Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay #256552 $18.95 I enjoyed at the cellar door in Jordan. Now, if you’ve never been to Jordan and you love (in no particular order) tasting wine, eating great food and tagging along with the woman you love while she shops (I’m two out of three), this is the place for you. The Restaurant, On The Twenty, is nothing short of spectacular in ambience, presentation and, most of all, the food. Back to this Chardonnay. This is what I would call typical Niagara Chardonnay – apples,  citrus, crispness and a very judicious use of oak. I think an afternoon (or morning) Chardonnay – clean, fresh. You should come home from work pop and pour this youthful Chardonnay. Enjoy it with stories of unpopular bosses and unreasonable demands. Skip the nibbles unless it’s salty.

featherstonecochardonnayThe next one is from up the street from Jordan. The 2013 Featherstone Canadian Oak Chardonnay #149302 $21.95. Did I say “Canadian Oak”? Yup. The first time I heard of this was with Lailey and their Pinots. The ‘Canadian’ addition didn’t seem to make a difference to me and I think that they’ve ditched the approach there. This one, however, has something different going on – it’s round, more tropical on the nose – hey, enough with the wine smack. Let me describe this wine in a different way. Say you’ve had the wine above – seductively lean and agile (Tatiana Maslany) and you swirl this in a glass. The first impression – Rachel McAdams – friendly, comfy, soft and…………well, I’ll let you make the connection. Very nice effort! Maybe Canadian oak is a keeper.

whillThe last Chard is the 2013 William Hill #437251 $19.95. This is pure California and is a hit at our house where The Director craves creamy, buttery Chardonnays against the flow of unoaked madness. It’s not sickly buttery – just enough to please those that like the cream. It also allows for some pairing with chicken stuff. If you like Chardonnays like La Crema Sonoma Coast, Charles & Charles, you’ll like this a lot.

santaemaRed wines? Oh yeah, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention. Thank you verrry much Paul Anka. There are a lot of very good reds at a price point that isn’t exactly in line with “Daily”. However, if I were to pick one up that would surprise the big spenders it would be the 2012 Santa Ema Amplus Cabernet Sauvignon #076301 $19.95. This wine comes across as a long, complex wine. Why? Because it is. Long and complex, that is. Love this stuff! If you love wines that kind of blend the Old World funkiness with the New World fruit and power – this is it. I felt not so much relaxed as curious with this wine. Another sip brought another take – that makes  good wine. Buy a case!

franceNow, can I ask you to stretch the “Daily Slosh” budget? Go ahead and check with your significant other, I’ll wait………OK, are we clear now? Let’s wade in. Bordeaux is about the best thing that France has ever created. OK, there’s Brigitte, and “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” but that’s about all that surpasses Bordeaux. I’m not alone in this assertion. Every expert wine lover agrees with me. Note to those that don’t agree: keep it to yourselves.

This weekend theres a very nice Bordeaux from a great vintage – 2010 Château Escot #431767 $25.95. I had this wine a while ago and my notes reflect “BARGAIN”. At least that’s what I said then.. I’m not thinking it’s cellarable for long but that’s the attraction at this price – drink it now – or wait a couple years max! This is bigger and fuller than I expected. This wine brings the a vibe of a much more expensive, experienced Bordeaux – not as big on the funk – not a perfect Bordeaux as you have to pay for that – complete for this price, though. I give it 379 on my scale of 248 to 417. Wow.

bertrandI am going to sound like a broken record here but I take solace from my fellow wine bloggers. We all have our faves. So, I shouldn’t feel creepy recommending the same winery all the time. My faves are Susana Balbo and Gerard Bertrand. This week, there’s Gerard’s (can I call you Gerard?)  2011 Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Pic Saint Loup #376491 $18.95. I may have recommended this before but am too lazy to go back through my posts. Suffice it to say that there is something about Languedoc that just spells great drinking wine at a great price. Oh, there are some suspect Languedoc reds out there but when they’re done well, they are great. This appellation is one of my faves – so Bill faves times 2. This wine is a candidate for a case for the season. Hard to not appreciate, presents the flavours of the region – a little lavender on the nose – some stoniness on the finish. I have a man crush on Gerard. I’ll leave it to you to decide if you do too. Burn some pork with herbs and enjoy this one.

lucenteOK, let’s talk small splurge. Some time in life we need to feel special. I know that I do, every day actually. As much as I try to affirm myself a la Stuart Smiley, I usually need to open a better-than-daily-slosh bottle of wine to tell myself, “I’m good enough……..” This weekend, pick up a bottle of one of the best second labels that Italy has to offer – 2013 La Vite Lucente #747030 $34.95. This is a classic Toscana – loads of red fruit, smooth but with enough acid and tannins to say, “Let me breathe or put me down and step away from the bottle.” This one would be special with your mother’s spaghetti and meatballs now or decant for a few hours and serve with a simpler pasta – fettuccine con olio d’oliva e aglio. Better yet, cellar this guy for a few years. You won’t be disappointed.

Now, back to reality TV. What kind of reality show could we produce that’s about wine people? How about four wine bloggers live in a house together with four cases of wine? We’ll call it……….Big Blogger? No? OK, we follow a third generation extended family of migrant vineyard workers in California. Called Real Pruners of Napa Valley? Wait, I’ve got a better one –  cameras follow me around in my bathrobe as I sip, type, nap, and sip some more – Real House Wines of London – now, that’s the ticket.

Cheers

Bill

%d bloggers like this: