Tag Archives: akarua

Holiday Advice – Part Deux

19 Dec

Last year I featured Bing and Bowie as an awkward couple. This year I thought we’d examine another unusual pairing. Think about it. Arguably the best female voice of all time and the guy who gave us Delilah – a song about an angry man stabbing his g/f in a fit of rage. Talk amongst yourselves.

This is the second part of three posts offering some recommendations for wines a little out of the ‘daily’ range. The first installment can be read here.

Pinot Noir

gravityPinot Noir may be the most personal of all wines. Some like them lean and under the tank top – muscular, others like ’em softer and round. I’m in the first camp. So, here goes. In Ontario, there are many great local pinots. You could start with 2012 Flat Rock Cellars ‘Gravity’ Pinot Noir #1560 $29.95 an earthy, darker-than-pinot, fruitful wine. Bigger on the nose than usual for this wine – probably 2012 showing through. Lovely wine. Another Ontario gem is any pinot by hardiepnNorman Hardie. Prince Edward County, Norman Hardie in particular, instills a very different take on pinot than Niagara. The 2011 Norman Hardie Unfiltered Pinor Noir #125310 $39.00 is a cherry tea stained long drink of pinot. What does it remind me of? Earl Grey tea – it’s tea alright but not the same. This is pinot but not the same as pinot. Complicated but worth getting to know. I’m heading to The County in the New Year and can’t wait to visit some of their exciting wineries.

Oregon has a very classic take on pinot. Lovely stuff. But, we are disadvantaged with limited selection. I couldn’t find any that had anything but a scattered availability in the province. I read other bloggers that talk about the breadth of choice they have with Pinot Noir in America. Alas, we have many more Burgundy available – which means we can go broke early and often. However, a non-Sonoma ‘go to’ calerapinot for me is Calera – which we do have. The 2012 Calera Pinot Noir #933044 $33.95 is a great introduction to a world of California pinot that isn’t ‘one-dimensional’ like the lower priced entries seem to be. I find you need to stretch the budget a bit particularly with pinots. Calera has several single vineyard offerings too that we get each year – the Jensen Vineyard being my fave and a wine that you don’t want to open because it just gets better and better with time. The one above is their entry level and is ripe, red fruity, earthy, and very accessible. Good value.

rdbgcIf you prefer a more Burgundian take and you don’t want to get a second mortgage, I’d suggest a bargain cru – Beaune Teurons 1er Cru. I call it my ‘Go To Cru Crew’. But, I see that there are but a few available. Another time. So, what to splurge on? Well, the 2012 Roche de Bellene Vieilles Vignes Gevrey-Chambertin #240242 $56.95 is dark and a bit wild but easy to understand, if that makes sense. I bought a couple and mistakenly opened one right away to find, as I knew that I would, that it wasn’t ready for prime time. Duh. Buy this for someone that has or is building a cellar.

akaruaAnd no, I didn’t forget New Zealand pinot. There are a bunch but let’s get some focus. The 2012 Akarua Pinot Noir #79541 $37.95 is a lovely Central Otago pinot. It’s not shy with red fruits and a lovely seam of acidity. Extremely food friendly. Go ahead and splurge on this one. Low risk – high reward. The minty, herbiness would match a sage turkey perfectly. I think that I’ve just talked myself into it. Damn, I hate when that happens.

Pinot recap – all but Roche de Bellene ready to drink and all good matches for turkey dinner.

I headed up these sections by varietal. But, I probably should have simply provided some whites, reds, rosés and bubblies instead of going the varietal route. Well, live and learn. At least tying Chardonnay to Pinot Noir makes some sense. Right?

Chardonnay

mersoleilOaky chards don’t get a lot of love these days. But, I still like them if there’s some balance and I don’t have to pull slivers of oak out of my tongue. A biggerish Chardonnay is the 2011 Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay #958975 $34.95. It is decadent (so, delete the “ish” above) with a hint of butter and some citrus on the nose but pure tropical fruit and butterscotch in the mouth and on the finish. We like the buttery ones here and this is a staple down below – that would be my basement. It works with creamy chicken stuff and the turkey if it’s not a spicy treatment but more trad. If you want to buy local, pick up the 2011 Tawse Daniel Lenko Vineyard tawsedlchardonnayChardonnay #344796 $44.95. This is made with grapes from the old vines at Daniel Lenko. I’ll tell the story of my visit to Daniel Lenko another time. Suffice it to say, the place is unique among the array of wineries on the bench. Blend Lenko’s grapes with the Burgundian leanings of Tawse and you get a Chardonnay that’s a bit more Old School than the one above. Pure tropical fruit and apples on the nose joined with some of the oak induced butter and vanilla in the mouth – a mineral echo on the finish. Love it. The Mer Soleil is Janis Joplin; the Tawse – Joan Osborne. Both great styles – substantial, full of flavour and nuance, just different.

Classic white Burgundy is around but scattered availability. It can be pricy. If you want to partake of the classic Burgundian Chardonnay, I’d suggest two approaches: Chablis (minerally, stony and crisper – lovely stuff – look for 2010) and Meursault (a little rounder, nuttier, and deeper – pricier as well). I haven’t tasted any of those that I see on-line and, frankly, there aren’t many. Ask a consultant at the store for advice if this is your leaning.

Now, I’m off to The Morrissey for a craft beer (or two). Have a great weekend!

Part Three: first of next week

Apologies and The Red Daily Slosh

30 Jul

Why this song today? It was playing as I typed? A little Cancon? Celebrate the late great Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Pops Staples? Or, maybe just to hear one of the all time great songs with Mavis Staples joining in? All of the above, baby!

perrinrrFirst, apologies are in order. To those in the LCBO’s grasp, it appears that the French rosés that I recommended last time out were in short supply. Sorry, mea culpa, excuuuuuuuse me. If you were jonesing for the Tavel, there is a great substitute made by Perrin et Fils – 2013 Perrin et Fils Côtes du Rhone Réserve Rosé #719062 $15.95. And, you’ll note that it’s cheaper than the Carteresses and Apogé. Secondly, to everyone – I mistakenly used the wrong accent on the ‘e’ in ros(e) throughout my last post (and, potentially throughout my whole website?). I used l’accent grave quand l’accent aigu c’est correct. I try hard not to make mistakes and sometimes I fail due to fatfingering or just not seeing the obvious to others. It’s hard proofing your own stuff. This time my 5 years of French failed me. Rather than ‘search and replace’ every mistakenly used l’accent grave, I am going to leave it alone and simply bear the scars of continuing critical emails and comments. On to some Red Daily Slosh. This Saturday’s release features California, Greece, the Loire, and Alsace. So, it would be vinous gymnastics to speak to all these regions. Especially when I’d have had to have tried them all. Suffice it to say that you should take a wander through the aisles and see what might interest you, if I haven’t mentioned your sweet spot.

sanatalicia

Where can you find great value in red wines? Chile, that’s where. There are the Concha y Toro’s Casillero del Diablo and the Cono Sur labels in the general listing aisles and almost every release a few smaller order wines that provide great QPR. This week, there’s an interesting camenère – 2011 Santa Alicia Gran Reserva de Los Andes #093831 $15.95. Carmenère is the sixth Bordeaux grape but isn’t farmed there anymore. These days it appears, for all intents and purposes, to be Chile’s exclusive grape. As The Church Lady would say, “Hey, Chile. Aren’t we sssspecial?” I quite enjoy carmenère and over the years I’ve recommended a bunch of these but never this particular one as it came at you pretty hard – a bit confused. Maybe if I followed vintage descriptions and ratings, I would have realized that the 2011 was going to be a ‘prettier’ wine. Kind of made me smack my lips and that means, for me, that it was good with food. It’s a great change up from cabernet-based blends, if you are a score chaser it scored 91 at the Wine & Spirits (my fav wine mag), and the price is right.

monteslspn

Another Chilean wine that over delivers is the Montes line. Just about all their wines are reflective of the region and wine making traditioins of the country. Their entry-level pinot noir – 2011 Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir #037937 $14.95 – is a great low-priced pinot. Although the term ‘limited selection’ is probably an over reach. OK, I went to their website – I was curious. They made 35,000 cases! Even though Montes is very big, I don’t equate 35,000 cases with the term ‘limited’. I will ramble on the confusing labeling of wine at a later time. Despite the mislabeling, this is a great inexpensive pinot noir. Juicy and balanced with great red fruits and not cluttered with the sweetness that plagues a lot of the cheaper pinots (this one has 3.49g/l residual sugar). I’d think a good wine to take to a “stand around arguing” party. Boutari Naoussa

When I say, “Greece”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Red wine from Naoussa? That’s right, me too. Weird how that works. The quintessential QPR Greek red in most vintages is Boutari Naoussa. The 2009 is no exception. The 2009 Boutari Naoussa #023218 $13.95 reminds me of a northern Italian red – just gives me that impression. Light in your mouth, balanced everything and, although the write up I saw said oak influences, I didn’t find them. It’s pretty pure and Old World good. Have with some pork souvlaki, marinated feta, and olives. Or, if you don’t like olives (I know people who don’t, gasp), maybe something else Greek – grilled octopus? But, if you must and you wish a rounder, more modern wine keep reading.

talamonti

A repeat recommendation that’s back – 2011 Talamonti Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #204016 $15.95. This is a surprisingly styled MdA. It’s international in style. Not one rustic edge. It’s gentle, round, bigger at first than after a sip or two – warm but not through alcohol – buy one and hope that they’ve got more when you run back. Because you will. Now, I’m going to step a bit outside the ‘daily’ price point on two very fine wines.

Spain is my weak spot. Well, along with Rhone, Tuscany, Niagara, Washington. Let’s just say, I’m awfully weak. But, Spain breeds such personality into their wines. Not sure why that happens but I bet I could read up on it. This week, one of my all time favourite petaloswines in this price range hits our shelves – 2011 Descendientes de J. Palacios Pétalos #675207 $26.95. In past years, I’ve raved about this wine here. But, this vintage surpasses all others IMHO. It’s just got its act together. Committed to your enjoyment with a big woosh up out of the bowl – big nose – fruit that I can’t definitely land on and mushrooms and anise.  I’m not really worried about what fruit I detect. Because if after I’ve had a swish, sniff, gurgle and swallow, I say quietly, “This s**t is great!”, I know all I need to. The wine is not nearly as heavy in the mouth as in the glass – not quite full-bodied and it’s as smooth as Joan Rivers’ visage. OK, that doesn’t really make me want to have this wine either. So, let’s just say it’s really smooth.

akaruarua

And now for something completely different. Different than the Montes, anyway. This week’s Kiwi pick up for Bill (I picked up the Staedt Landt last week) is the 2012 Akarua Rua Pinot Noir #295592 $24.95. I like the acidity that Central Otago seems to carry. This wine has that but in balance with some wood influences (vanilla?) and tree fruit. FYI, if I wanted to be a real wine writer, I would have used the term ‘stone fruits’. Both terms really don’t mean much to most people. So, I’ll back up – the fruit is most like cherries to me – but, darker – like black cherries. This is a superb food wine but if you drink alone like I do, just have it by itself. I know that I’m always upselling you guys but this is a wine that you can feel comfortable splurging a bit on. Talk to you later this week.

Sip, Sip The Jip Jip – The Red Daily Slosh

31 Jan

These recommendations are for the February 1 release. You can find out what inventory your local LCBO store has by clicking on the highlighted link (stock number and price) and follow the logical steps. For future reference, some stores start populating the shelves with this stuff as early as Thursday.

jipjipIn the past, I’d refrain from looking up or “Googling” stuff that didn’t impact my life in some way. I’d use Google Translate, Thesaurus, travel sites, etc. But I wouldn’t check out stuff like who Diane Lane is dating now that she’s dropped Josh Brolin. I never thought they could have been that good together anyway – he just looks weathered and mean and his step-mom is Babs and Diane is ……just about perfect. Well, then we got an iPad and, Shazam (once a Marvel/DC comic book hero also known as Captain Marvel; now a music app) I am now needing to know every little detail of stuff that doesn’t matter! I hate myself. BTW, what do they call people that hate? Wait, I’ll control the urge. Anyway, when I saw the re-appearance of the 2011 Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz #673897 $16.95 I had a decision to make. Do I Google “Jip Jip” to see what it means, if it’s a place, an aboriginal word, a typo? I resisted and rather than Googling, Yahooing, or Binging, I’m shouting out to the Wine Wankers, our friends Down Under. “Guys, any ideas what “Jip Jip” means?” While we wait for an answer, let’s talk about this regular visitor to these pages. I like the style of this wine – not heavy and chewy but plush with fruit. It is medium-bodied to me (the review says “full-bodied” – so maybe in the 3/4 bodied range), good balance and the pepperiness that I love in Aussie shiraz. This is a food wine, if you chose to wait until dinner (roast beef?) is served, but I also think that company would dig it by itself. Great price.

ramitelloWhat do you get when you cross a Montepulciano with an Aglianico? A fun, expressive Italian. Drum roll ………Monica Belluci? No, the 2010 Di Majo Norante Ramitello #973214 $16.95! This is an easy drinking black fruit (cassis?), herby, chocolaty, dark beaut of a wine. It is one of those that makes its case for deal of the week, month, season. So, you don’t drink Italian wine that isn’t spelled pinot grigio, you say? I get that if you don’t drink red at all. But, come on it’s $16.95 – you are worth it. Live on the edge, walk on the wild side, change your name and join a band. But before you do, get a bottle of this and try it. Remember my iron clad guarantee – If you don’t like a wine that I recommend, you can reseal the bottle and send it to me.

speriripassoStaying in the boot. I play golf with a lover of Italian wine. He recommended a Valpolicella by Speri once and he was bang on especially on the value or QPR (Quality to Price Ratio). The Speri family has been at the wine game for awhile (according to write up) and it shows. There is a Old World feel to this wine that benefits further from the Ripasso method. If you have read this blog a few times, you may have heard me say that Ripasso isn’t always my favourite process – I just think that it doesn’t always translate into better wines. Valpolicella is great when it’s simple and easy sipping – a summer red even. Ripasso can sometimes make it too heavy for me, anyway. The 2011 Speri Pigaroi Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore #285206 $18.95 is an exception to that – it’s very well balanced with just enough heft. Ripe but not pruney – the bite of all my favorite Italian reds. All this makes it a great accompaniment to meat. Accompaniment with meat? Never sure. Actually even ‘accompaniment’ looks weird. I need a glass of wine! Good with a sausagy tomato pasta too, I bet. Sausagy looks wrong as well. Pop the bloody cork!

akaruaI just got in the door from some time in southwest Florida with friends. One of the cool things about these visits is the shopping for wine. We trudge to Total Wine and spend far too much time in there combing the stacks and dodging octogenarians and their walkers. When there, I try and gorge myself on American wine. And, maybe too much focus on pinot noir – leaving me wanting more. So, when I saw a chance to support a splurge pinot noir, I said let’s do it. My staff of crack tasters, Googlers, and glugglers has found the perfect follow up for California/Oregon pinot – 2011 Akarua Pinot Noir #079541 $37.95. This is a spot on representation of Central Otago pinot. It’s lean, mean, and a burnt toast, red fruit machine. Puckering and mouth-watering on the first sip but softening over time and after getting acquainted with your palate. I see it as a wine that could sit in your basement for a few years (4 – 7). It would be great to see what happens after a rest. OK, the part about staff is a shameless lie. I have to drink this stuff all by myself.

I’m off to see Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt tomorrow night. Can’t wait. And, wanted to give you a sample of what I might hear. Bypass the open chatter – song starts around 1:00. Cheers!

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