Tag Archives: aglianico

Lazy Recos – October 31st – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

29 Oct

lazy

I have been truly neglectful. I haven’t been recommending many wines available through the bi-weekly releases at our mother ship. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s just that I have been distracted by other things. Well, to be honest, I’ve been lazy. I’ve started about 5 different times to talk about releases and just stalled. There’s no good reason except that it’s my blog and I can do what I want. And, I’ve wanted to travel and then get home and write about it.

But, I thought that I would do a quick post on some of the wines that I’ve found recently that I like a lot. These are not necessarily from the October 31st release but are still available.

Let’s start with the reds.

saint rochI’d say that I have recommended the Château Saint-Roch Chimères maybe five or six times over the years. The 2013 vintage #119354 $19.95 is like the ones preceding it. Only better. It is a healthy, round blend of primarily Grenache and Syrah. It’s a Côtes du Roussillon that smooths out some of the rough edges that you might see with these wines. It is a beaut. Cherries, spicy (Syrah), earthy – Love it! It would be perfect with some kind of roast dinner in this fall season.

vinsobresAnother great red from the south of France is the 2013 Famille Perrin Vinsobres Les Cornuds #566854 $17.95. This is from the Perrin….famille. They are the family that creates Château de Beaucastel, an iconic wine from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. These guys do know wine. This is a very gentle but medium-bodied handful of cherries with a bite. I’m thinking if it’s cherries then a cherry match – Muscovy duck breast, pork tenderloin or something else like that. This is from a village in the Côtes du Rhone that warrants villages designation. Top drawer.

matchbookIf you’ve been reading these pages, you know that The Director does love her Chardonnay. And, contrary to current trends, she likes it oaked. The past few weeks, we’ve been enjoying the 2013 Dunigan Hills Match Book #205492 $20.95. This is oaked but not that much. It allows the typical apple scents and flavours through without adding any tropical fruit stuff. Vanilla on the finish but, need I say, not too much. It’s a Goldilocks Chardonnay – Just Right.

c7cI’ve spoken of my love for wines from Washington State – Columbia Crest, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Mark Ryan and my fave Andrew Will. Love the Will! And, I have written about the quirky, inventive, yet delicious wines from Charles Smith. We have been grabbing a Chardonnay from the – gasp – General Listing aisles. I know. It’s unimaginable that yours truly would linger with the plebes but I am not a snob (he says, with tongue firmly planted in cheek). In any event, Charles Smith has a great chard – 2013 Charles & Charles Chardonnay #394734 $15.95. This is a mid-weight, slightly oaked white with a bit more vanilla than the one above. It’s a keeper. A perfect sipper without food after a long day writing about wine, hanging at your local pub, watching the Blue Jays lose in six. Yes, that means we’ve had a bunch of it. And, it’s a Stelvin twist cap meaning that you can actually open this as a third bottle of the night without incurring cuts and stabs.

Wines previously recommended that are still available in number:

2008 Rivera Cappellaccio Riserva #305276 $17.95  – a full-bodied and well-aged Anglianico – meaty and lip smacking good.

2012 Talamonti Tre Saggi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #204016 $15.95  – a full-bodied, round fruit sandwich. OK, a bit too weirdly descriptive. It’s just a good sipping wine. I’d say pizza if it’s got lots of cheese and not too much tomato sauce.

Cheers.

Bill

Remember: If you want to know what inventory your local has, click on the link associated with the stock number and choose your city or town from the drop down menu. I can tell how often that’s done and it isn’t done enough to make me comfortable that people know how to use it.

 

 

 

Italian Wines Newly Discovered

23 Oct

photoI promised that I’d tell you about some of the wines that I quaffed while in Italy. If I’d been a true and dedicated blogger with my readership front of mind, I’d have posted regularly with interesting anecdotes of our trip. “As we approached Guagnano from the north, the facade of the imposing cathedral cast a long protective shadow across the surrounding countryside like a grey polar fleece blanket on an autumn morn. I shifted into third gear and took a long drag on my dwindling Guitane. I shifted into third gear and tried to get my bearings. I wondered what the vineyards of Taurino Cosimo would have in store for a weary traveler and his sleeping wife.” But, “Bill, we don’t really care” right? Although I sniffed, quaffed, tasted, drank, swallowed many wines, there are but a small proportion mentioned in this post. Some of the left out wines were very local and never to be seen on these shores. The ones I’m reporting on are from producers with connections in North America or, in the case of the Morellino, a type of wine that I haven’t really mentioned much in my posts but bears looking out for at your local store.

2011 Mantelassi Morellino di Scansano

mantelassiScansano is a village in the Tuscan region near the city of Grosseto. So, it’s south and closer to the coast than many of Tuscany’s more familiar DOC(G)’s. Morellino di Scansano is a Sangiovese based wine (in Scansano, they call Sangiovese – Morellino). The wine doesn’t carry the importance or the critical acclaim of other Sangiovese wines – Chianti, Montalcino, but I’ve always found these wines great value, early drinking, and food friendly. The Morellino grapes ripen a bit more here than north and they capitalize on that with a fresh, early drinking wine. I had this wine at a trattoria in Roma with what ended up being my favourite dish of the whole trip – spinach and ricotta stuffed ravioli with a butter sage sauce. You could smell it coming across the floor. Somehow that sounds like a Neil Young song? Utterly orgasmic – the ravioli that is. Why can’t we get pasta like this in North America? The wine was a great match to this with its understated herbal character, moderate acidity, and red fruits. If you have never had a Morellino, do pick one up or search out on a restaurant’s wine list. They are usually inexpensive. Yes, got it, Neil Young’s Unknown Legend – “I used to order just to watch her walk across the floor.” Approximate cost $15 CAD. Recommend.

2011 Feudi di San Marzano SUD Primitivo di Manduria

sudprimitivoManduria is a commune (circa 30,000 pop) that lies between Taranto and Lecce in Puglia. It has been making Primitivo wines forever if not longer. Much of that was shipped north to be blended (allegedly in some cases unmentioned with high priced juice) to add weight and roundness in watered down years. However, in the last couple decades, growers and wineries have started to focus on making fine local wines from this early ripening grape. Primitivo is a descendent of a Croatian grape and, I’ve read, is a DNA match for zinfandel. I don’t taste any great similarity but then again it’s a very different climate, soil, method of growing and vinification than California.  We purchased this wine in Alberello (picture – bottom of page) north east of Brindisi for our room (I really should say ‘I’ purchased it as Arlene doesn’t drink reds). So, bread, cheese and potato crisps were the accompaniment. All very ‘local’ as in purchased at the local Alimentari. This wine is a great introduction to Primitivo di Manduria. It had loads of what you typically find in southern France – a garriguish note with the fruit very much in the background in the glass until you take a swig. It’s round with softish tannins – which was a surprise as I usually get tannins that are pretty robust with these wines. Great red fruit, some of that same garrigue, and little to no meaty flavours and just as the finish finishes finishing there’s a hint of chocolate. OK, I made up the chocolate part to get you to try some. Loved this! Approximate price here will be about $16 CAD. I did recommend the 2010 in my newsletter a year or so ago. Would highly recommend this!

ilselva2011 Il Selva DOC Locorotondo

While in Alberobello, we were entertained by an owner of an alimenteri and butcher shop. He and his brother (I’m assuming here) told us all about the homemade charcuterie and local wines. I picked up the SUD Primitivo mentioned above which wasn’t all that local and Arlene tasted and purchased an interesting white from the winery located in Aberobello – Cantina Albea. White wines from hot locales, IMHO, tend to be crisp, lighter, and minerally usually. This white had some roundness – our host suggested that there was some Chardonnay involved. But I think that he overheard that Arlene’s favourite white was Chardonnay. In doing some research, the blend is 60% Verdeca, 35% Bianco di Alessano, and 5% Fiano Minutolo. It had a refreshing fruitiness, nice length and just loved being served cold which is just what we needed.

2011 Leone de Castris Villa Santera Primitivo di Manduria

villasanteraThis producer is perhaps the oldest one in Puglia as far as bottling their own wines. They work out of Salice Salentino, have large holdings themselves and purchase grapes from many growers in the region. Their flagship wines are generally Salice Salentinos (we get them in Ontario) but I thought that since I was on a Primitivo kick, I’d keep the meter running. I had this wine in Otranto. This didn’t have the heft of the one abovefairly unmemorable and my notes indicate a bit of flailing around trying to describe this wine – never a good sign. Although not higher in alcohol than the San Marzano – it carried a bit of heat that I attributed to the lack of balance generally and my sipping while talking without food mode. Approximate cost $14 CAD. Would not recommend this. But, do try their Salice Salentino Riserva – in most years good value. An incredibly consistent winery.

2010 Tenuta San Francesco Costa d’Amalfi 4 Spine

4spineI purchased this from a little wine shop in Amalfi. Il Costiera Amalfitana is quite simply – spectacular. To find local wines was just a pleasant bonus. Friends, Susanne and Brenda, had been to the area in June and visited this winery in Tramonti, so I wanted to look up their wares. This was supposed to be a ‘bring home’ wine @ 20 Euros but that concept got lost when I had to keep looking at it in our room in Ravello. Well, we had some local sheep’s milk cheese, a crust of bread and such (Bless the Child), and some fruit. It was perfect for an afternoon repast and gazing out over the Mediterranean (picture of view at top of post). This wine is a blend of 60% Tintore, 30% Aglianico, and 10% Piedirosso. To say I was blown away might be an understatement. This wine needed about an hour to clear the cobwebs and settle down which meant that I only had half a bottle left when it found its stride. Full-bodied, licorice, tar, and dark plums and black stuff – simply lovely to sit and sip. Contemplate life, a pre-dinner snooze, and re-cap the day’s walk. No heat present – balanced with more than enough tannin to match the sheep’s milk cheese and would duel well with red meat, I bet. Approximate cost $28 CAD. Highly, highly recommended! Did I say that I liked it?

2012 Mastroberardino Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio

lacrymaI had read a recent post by The Armchair Sommelier about this remarkable winery and man. He has been in large part responsible for the rejuvenation of the Taurasi DOCG and plantings in and around Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius (see below – my keeper wine). This wine is predominantly Piedirosso and I suspect a little blending of Aglianico (couldn’t find out definitively). I purchased this in the restaurant, drank half with a huge plate of scampi and prawns with mint sauce.  Did I say it was yuuge? I took the rest of the wine back to our room. I finished it up over the next two days. Anyone who knows me knows that that is a lie. I finished it that night! Well, if you like dirty reds – this wine is for you. Earthy, traces of foliage, figs and red dripping fruit on the nose and in the mouth everything coming through but with some minerality (the volcanic soil?). Moderately tannic but not too much so. Medium bodied and just plain nasty and delicious. I am going to make it my mission to turn people on to this inexpensive wine. Approximate price $17 CAD (at the friggin’ restaurant!). Highly recommend. Thanks to the Armchair Sommelier!

What I Learned In Italy Lesson #4

Based on the recommendation of The Armchair Sommelier, as I mentioned above, I looked for wines from Mastroberardino and found quite a few. They were readily available in Amalfi and Ravello. But not knowing that, I jumped the gun and the first ones I saw in a wine shop in Amalfi, I bought,. The man there was the best wine merchant on the trip – he was very convincing on the benefit of purchasing two bottles of everything. “You have now, you think about it, you leave other one for later? Good way.” Well, I ended up with a 1999 Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici. Given how good cheaper wines were, I was thinking that I’d overspent at approximately $38 CAD (28 Euros). It’s now nestled safely in my basement and I can’t wait to drink it. The thing that I wanted to mention though was the variation in pricing in Italy generally but especially in tourist areas. The same wine in Ravello was 65 Euros or about $90 CAD. That’s $52 CAD or $51 USD more! Another revelation was the relatively solid pricing we have in Ontario for Italian wines compared to the Duty Fee at Roma Fuicimino. Example – Frescobaldi’s Castelgiocondo Brunello costs me $49.95 here. At the Fuicimino Duty Fee it was 40 Euros or about $58 CAD! Likewise Luce, Tignanello (80 Euros! – $102.00 CAD here). So, word to the wise – cheap wines abound in Italia just not as you’re exiting stage left or wondering around Villa Cimbrone.

Thanks to Karen McNeil’s Wine Bible, Wikipedia, and http://www.winesearcher.com for some of the more arcane details of these wine regions and grapes. “Somewhere on a desert highway. She rides a Harley-Davidson. Her long blond hair flying in the breeze. She’s been running half her life. The chrome and steel she rides  – colliding with the very air she breathes.”

alberobello1

What I Learned In Italy This Fall – Part 1

7 Oct

alberobello1We have just returned from a two week vacation in Italy – a bite of Roma, a big sip and swallow of Puglia, and a deep breath of the Amalfi Coast. It was just what the doctor ordered – minus the unavoidable wine which she, my doctor, would have discouraged. This trip held some interesting observations and lessons. I’ll share a few lessons learned this time and then sow some others into future posts. I’ll talk about the wines in a separate post.

  1. Who Needs Information and Documentation?

Seconds before we left the house for the transfer to the airport, I repacked my carry-on to make it lighter. In so doing, I took out all our travel documents and inadvertently forgot to put them back in: e-tickets for two flights; hotel reservation information (including directions, phone numbers) for four different hotels; photocopies of passports; car rental reservation and electronic confirmation; travel health insurance documentation; train timetables; a list of wineries with directions, phone numbers and their top wines as per Gambero Rosso; and, a lovely piece that I’d printed out on wine travel in Puglia. “What certain disaster would befall us?” I asked as I discovered too late that I’d made this booboo. What indeed? Almost nothing. Nada. Zilch. Everything went off without a hitch. I even remembered many of the wineries – ‘cause that’s just what wine geeks do – remember stuff like that. Next time, I won’t even bother to print that stuff – The Planet will, in fact, be saved.

  1. High School Translation Can Be Perilous

On one segment of our journey, we trained from Brindisi to Caserta and then on to Naples. At Caserta, the automated biglietto machines were down so we stood in line to purchase our tickets. While in line, we observed the train schedule on a large screen and saw that the train we wanted for Napoli Centrale had several comments scrolling after it. One little description was bothersome. It said “Via Cancello”. Now, I took Latin for five long years in high school (yes it only took me five years and I realize that Italian and Latin aren’t exactly the same – as W so eloquently stated, “Latin is spoken in Latin America”, for crying out loud) and I know that ‘Via’ in Latin means ‘Way’. So, Via Cancello could only mean that the ‘way’ was Cancello – Cancelled! What to do? Yup, it said – Via Cancello! We were meeting a transfer to our hotel at Napoli Centrale. Disaster was imminent or ‘imminente’. But, we blundered on and pretended that all was well. The ticket purchase went off without a hitch (4 Euros for both of us!), the train arrived, we got on, fingers crossed. and voila (which I realize is a French word ‘cause I’m Canadian and – you guessed it – took five years of high school French), we slowed down and stopped at the ‘Cancello’ train stop. Yes, Cancello is a friggin’ train stop, a village hard by Caserta – we were going by way of Cancello – Via Cancello. That was the last time I assumed that I understood any Italian. Well, maybe not the very last time.

  1. “Apparently, You’ve Confused Me With Someone Who Gives a S@*t What You Do”

I write a blog – a wine blog. If you Google me, you’ll get a connection to my blog. That’s the kind of power a sparingly read writer has. Many bloggers possess this lofty recognition factor. In my world, I’m famous. It’s a very small world of a few friends (6 and shrinking) and a weird guy from Iceland with an interesting Gravatar profile, but – they know me. So, what to expect when a wine writer arrives at a winery to visit? Red carpet? Well, we’re closed. Next one – well, its closed too. See above – I did have numbers, contacts to call ahead. Then we have a meal at a special restaurant in Puglia – I mention quite self-deprecatingly that I write stuff mostly about wine – I get a free prosecco stopper – now, we’re getting somewhere! Mostly though, explanations were given on wine that pre-supposed that I hadn’t done the hours of research that I’d actually done. That I wasn’t a wine geek. That I hadn’t heard of or had Aglianico or Piedirosso before, that I mistook Fiano di Avellino for Greco di Tufo (OK, I did that mistook but most people would, wouldn’t they?), or that I thought Primitivo di Manduria was an Italian take on a Richard Condon novel – ba-da-boom. Suffice it to say that I was an ordinary soul as far as anyone was concerned. Humble? Happy? Ordinary? That’s me always.

JJ et La Famille – The Red Daily Slosh

25 Aug

jj cale

Just a shout out to JJ Cale fans – he will be missed. Click on pic for a great rendition of one of my favourites. Love it!

Now to wine – just poured a little something for the writing grind. I’ve been asked why I seem to recommend wines on some arcane and unusual schedule rather than just speak about what I’m drinking. So, a primer for those non-Ontario residents.

Every two weeks our beloved Liquor Control Board of Ontario (the LCBO, the mother ship, but more importantly – the place everyone goes for boxes when they’re moving) puts together a ‘special’ release of wines that they’ve carefully selected for the season, etc. They print a truly beautiful and informative brochure with reviews, stories and a theme for the release. Since the inception of the release approach, the average price per bottle has risen substantially and it is shamelessly an attempt to upsell gullible Ontarians. Hand up – guilty – I’m gullible – it works flawlessly in my house. My reviews are based upon these releases and are an effort to pique readers’ interest in certain wines with the ultimate goal of uncontrolled spending on wine and immense gratitude, in the form of gifts to me for my astute observations. The first part kind of works in the case of my closest friends and I feel like I don’t have a problem any more than they do; the second goal not so much.

This week’s release focuses on wines that score high with the critics – both high priced ones and those to which we’re more likely to gravitate. If I get to it before Friday, I’ll post for Splurge wines on some of the expensive ones that merit a look.

perrinI am nothing if not predictable – well, and undisciplined, compulsive, narcissistic, and frankly over-thinking every aspect of my life – including the preceding analysis. So on the issue of predictability, I’m recommending a Côtes du Rhône – 2011 Perrin Pevre Blanche Cairanne Côtes du Rhône-Villages #650960 $17.95. This is a wine from the famous Famille Perrin. This Cairanne I find to be très solid. Flabbé comme le plonk? Non! Recent vintages in the Southern Rhone have been exceedingly good. This does nothing to dispel that. Grenache et Syrah, full of the smells and tastes of the area – scrubbiness (they call it garrigue), herbal on the nose but more serious in the mouth. A cacophony of flavours – just kidding but it is a mouthful and I had trouble not checking too many flavours off on my tasting notes. Similar to when someone at a tasting suggests cinnamon, then everyone smells it. I was kind of suggesting too much to myself. Leads me to think that the wine could use some time to grow up and sort itself out a bit.  If you really want to know about this wine there’s a discussion of the wine in English and a great video en francais on the Famille Perrin website. A friend recently bought a bunch of Rhone wine and I know that he’d like this one on the balcony with a cigar, which is his style.

brecaThis release features a whole flight of new high scoring Spanish wines but I have only tried the one – 2010 Breca Old Vines Garnacha #329086 $19.95. Robert Parker says that “it may be the most amazing wine I have ever tasted at this price in over three decades.” This roughly translated means that it will be gobbled up if you wait until after noon on Saturday. So, check the inventory via the link to see what store you need to raid – or call to reserve like I will. I love wines from Catalonia – have recommended them with much acceptance by my peeps. This one is a lot more evolved than some of the similarly priced wines from there. It carries the minerality that you might expect but also swirls of black fruits and although Parker says aromas of “lavender’, it’s more fennel to me. But, he’s the expert – so lavender it is. There are times for serious wines and this is one of them – times, that is.

villamtedenzinI see that this month’s Wine Enthusiast has an article on zinfandel and on the cover an Amador County Zin –  Easton (which I recommended a few months back). I love Amador zinfandels! This week the 2008 Villa Mt. Eden Antique Vines Grand Reserve Zinfandel #256719 $19.95 represents a blend of Amador County and Napa fruit. Can we talk? I find that zinfandels can sometimes be a bit………..disorganized and/or flabby. They’re good but maybe because of the higher alcohol, extracted fruit – too full-bodied and just too much – could be better is all I’m saying. The sometimes knock on California wine by critics is that it is just too big and extracted – no subtleties – no balance (and there definitely are a lot like that). This one, perhaps because of the old vines used (Amador County has some of the oldest vines in the state) or the cooler nights, is spicy, balanced and has enough acidity to carry all the alcohol and fruit. It’s a beaut! I know many of you used to zinfandel (the verb) a lot and have branched out or moved off this noble grape. Give this a try, if you don’t like it, put the cork back in and call me to come and get it. Perfect ribs wine, I’d think. Vegetarian? Grilled marinated portobellos with arugula salad (feta cheese), and fresh sliced field tomatoes. Vegan? Skip the cheese. Dumpster diver? Can’t help you there.

A few repeats from earlier posts:

delabadIn re-reading the post, I realize that I’ve had two of the Spanish wines that are highly rated including, the Breca above and the 2008 Bodegas del Abad Dom Bueno Mencia #291989 $15.95. After revisiting this, I’d say OK to leave in your basement, closet or whatever you tell friends is your wine cellar, wink, wink, nod, nod for awhile or have now with time to breathe in a decanter. I, myself am not afraid and like its darkness, size and depth of flavour – straight forward, not overly complicated now.

I may have drank, drunk? drunken? as much of the 2006 Rivera cappellaccioCappallaccio Riserva Aglianico #305276 $17.95 as any other recommended red aside from the Beronia and the Le Ponnant. I recommended this wine pre-on-line-blog in my newsletter. It’s an aglianico that has an easy style but don’t be fooled it’s got complexity (not really sure I like that word – seems lazy). I mean that there’s a lot going on in the glass and when you swirl it in your mouth. Herbs, darker fruits and woodiness – but not oak – cedar? Then, fruit, leather and a good dose of tannin on the finish – perfect for pasta in tomato sauce or pizza!

BTW, I poured a glass of Malivoire Ladybug Rosè at the top of the page – so that’s what I’m drinking, drank, drunken. Anyway, it’s finished. I’ll talk about it another time.

Anglophones and Asia – The Red Daily Slosh

16 Aug

asiaargentoWe’re off to Italy in September and visiting Rome (another church?), Apulia (I’m stuffed), and the Amalfi coast (are we at the bottom of the hill yet?). To say I can’t wait would be an understatement. This week’s release features some wines from these areas so I thought I would whet my appetite pre-journey.

tresaggiThe first selection is a repeat recommendation but different vintage. The 2006 was one upon which I received great feedback from Oliver and Joanne. This is the 2008 Talamonti Tre Saggi Montepuliciano D’Abruzzo #204016 $15.95. The release booklet informs me that Tre Saggi means ‘three wisemen’. I will have to brush up on my Italian because I intuitively thought that it meant, ‘very’ something or other. I guess growing up Anglophone in a bilingual country where French is the other language on the cereal box, you superimpose French, in this case ‘tres’, on to other languages. I mean it was always flacons de mais, wasn’t it? Well, Tre Saggi does mean very something; very ‘interesting’. This medium-bodied wine carries so much character in the way of spiciness, smelly stuff like leather and oakiness (both in the air and on the tongue), that I wouldn’t think it could be anything but Italian. Picture sitting mid-afternoon (and I know I’ve used this before – but indulge me) at a road side café outside Locorotondo, with a glass of this, fresh bread, olive oil and burrata cheese, watching as Asia Argento (picture at top or, fill in suitable Italian male), herds her sheep past your table ……. Let’s just say that this wine tells us where it’s from and what you should do with it – sip out back with friends, under the night sky and partake of tomato-based dishes, pasta, and loads of bread. Too late for the Perseid meteor shower? Get some patio lanterns.

When I took written and spoken French through to the end of secondary school, I was bewildered  by how we were taught that the London in England was Londres en francais. Not sure how a formal name changes when you translate. But, then again Anglophones talk about Japan not Nippon. I am William never Guillaume. Dufton, never Duftonne or Duffus, regardless of language or what you think about me. So, what’s with Puglia? It’s got to be an anglification of Apulia. Or, is it just a variation on a name? Or, do I have it backwards? Please weigh in because I’m not Googling it. Regardless of how you say it, we’re off to Apuila with the first recommendation. My experience with aglianico wines has been one where they are pretty tannic when young but round out or smooth out a bit with age. However, I’m told that characteristic is less prevalent when the grape is grown in Apulia – probably the heat. At least that’s what the write up says. The 2011 Girolamo Capo di Gallo Aglianico #268367 $18.95 – is an earthy, I still think uncharacteristically smooth country wine with black fruit (blackberries, dark currants), mushrooms. If you are worried that all Italian wines are harsh (like I indicated above), thin, or meh, stop it. No, I mean STOP IT! Start your wine change now. This is smooth, rich, scrubby – Apulia – perfect! But wait, to quote Ron Popeil, there’s more. I can’t quite figure this wine’s origin and nomenclature out. It’s made by Girolamo (for me that means Sicily – Etna Rosso, etc.). It is called Capo di Gallo (I believe, a nature preserve in Sicily) but it’s from Apulia? Confused? Interested in some Sonoma Brut from Virginia? Anyone help me?

apollonioI had to think about what other Southern Italian wine to talk about. There is a Salice Salentino (2009 Taurino Riserva Salice Salentino Rosso #177527 $14.95) that deserves some love. But, the one I landed on was the 2007 Apollonio Terragnolo Primitivo #211813 $18.95. This is made using the primitivo grape that apparently has some DNA attachment to the zindandel varietal. I’ve never really experienced a kinship between these grapes on the sniff, taste and swallow. They don’t seem to have much in common once vinified IMO. This wine packs a punch – but a nice punch. Think Mohammed Ali – not Mike Tyson. It is not fruit focused at all but nuanced with earth, non-fat double latte (OK, just kidding – too precise), but really some kind of reminiscence of coffee at the top of the glass, prunish in the fruit department. I think that if you like full-bodied Old World wine, you’ll love this. I can’t wait to wander southern Italy and get my hands on some of their great local wines. If anyone out there has some suggestions for wineries in Apulia or Campania, please let me know.

beroniaPut your hand up if you are a Rioja fan. Those that didn’t put there hands up have to get a wine-loving life. This is a benchmark, iconic, must drink, oh so fine wine region. I have recommended so many from here. One of my favourite and our most available bodegas is Beronia. I recommended this very wine in January.This week, the 2008 Beronia Reserva #050203 $18.95 hits the shelves again. Grab a few! I read the write up and have to agree with Neil McLennan (www.westernlivingmagazine.com) in saying that “if you’re new to Rioja, this is a great place to start…” This is neither classic Rioja or in line with a newer more international take although a bit oakier than some classic Riojas. This is a mellow wine that is medium-bodied with loads of cherries and some vanilla in the swish. Tannins evident but not overpowering. Just a great stand and sip wine or maybe serve with some seafood tapas or meat on the plancha. Those of you that have had these products before are already checking inventory (I can see you in the Romper Room Magic Mirror) so the rest of you better get on it.

H3csI’m always singing the praises of Washington reds – particularly Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. So good! In Ontario, we don’t get access to some of the smaller wineries. Hell, we don’t get significant access to any of the smaller wineries – where many of the finer, more true to Washington wines are to be found. Can we say Privatize Please? The largest winery conglomerate in Washington and one of the biggest in the whole U.S. of A. is Chateau Ste. Michelle. Now, I’d rather be talking about Dunham Cellars but there are about 100 bottles of their wines in the whole province. Shout out to Dunham’s importer – try harder! So, we are left to grab wines from larger distributors and producers – not that there is anything wrong with that. After all, I’m supposed to be a label agnostic. This week, one of the Ch. Ste. Michelle stable, Columbia Crest, is featured. I’ve talked about the H3 wines before – even this very wine and vintage – 2010 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon #210047 $19.95. This is a wine for those that really dig that house red style that’s popular with California reds – a bit bigger, a touch of sweetness that isn’t syrupy but smooth and some oak. It’s very good, isn’t it? This wine has some pop on the finish, great red fruits like cherries and, uncharacteristically, strawberries (but this might have been brought on by the feeling of shame for not writing about a strawberry nuanced rosé for Wine Blogging Wednesdays this week) on the sniff, all muddled delightfully together in your mouth with interesting darker things like chocolate. It’s pretty neat and the year since I last had it has smoothed it out. Good value red! I know there are lots of McManis cab fans out there as it’s a popular value? Ontario sip. Take a flyer on the H3.

Revisiting Past Daily Sloshes

fermedumontA couple months back, I recommended a great Rhone wine La Ferme du Mont Le Ponnat Cotes du Rhones-Villages #171371 $17.00 – Subsequently, I recommended this wine to a friend who loves a Beaujolais style red as his ‘go to’ wine, thinking that he could branch out. He’s now aggressively working through a bunch of Le Ponnant that he bought. He loves it! I do too. If you are having a barbecue with friends or you just drink alone but deny it to others, pick up more than a single bottle. You have to trust someone with wine recommendations. Trust me. At least this once.

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