Tag Archives: Argentina

Tom And The Rainbow Daily Slosh

24 Oct

It’s been a sad month or so for music lovers, hasn’t it? This one was so unexpected. “Well let me get to the point, let’s roll anther joint. And turn the radio loud. I’m too alone to be proud”.  I have it loud as usual.

I’ve been absent from the wine recommending crowd the last three months. Just my usual hiatus as I try and figure out if I can keep going. It takes real dedication to drink this much wine. Let’s give the October 28th release a try and we’ll see how it goes.

I’ll start with a few repeat recommendations. How much of the 2005 Balbas Reserva #085183 $22.95  did the mothership buy? I’m guessing a million cases although I’ve told myself a thousand times to stop exaggerating. Regardless, I have purchased this stuff in multiples as a “New Arrival” or part of a “Release” on numerous occasions over the past three years. I’ve recommended it every time. You can’t get a solid Ribera del Deuro Reserva of this age for this price anywhere. It’s a no-brainer. If you want to read my previous reviews they are here, here, and here. It’s still so ready to drink – expressive and balanced. And, yes, if your friends aren’t impressed by my enthusiastic endorsement, then you can flash the ’93’ from Wine Spectator sticker on the bottle.

Another repeat is the 2016 Miraval Rosé #342584 $22.95. I know that the weather has turned and many of us have tuned up the quintessential Canadian male 5th appendage (oh behave). I’m talking about the snowblower. But rosé isn’t just for summer. I keep a few bottles down below for sipping or even with a meal that pairs well – buttered popcorn, sea salt chips? – even in the colder weather. Past review here. Owned by Brangelina and worked by famille Perrin, I wonder how the celebs are going to split this community property. Have you taken sides on this break up? In our house, we cheer for Brad but I think that’s a function of Angelina’s weirdness (Billy Bob Thornton, really?). At least that’s where we are until I’m forced to read new revelations in the National Enquirer at the check out line. Speaking of which, the Enquirer tells me that Marilyn Munroe and Elizabeth Taylor were lesbian lovers. It’s going to be hard to get that picture out of my head. In my mind, Liz is Butterfield 8 Liz and Marilyn is, well, Marilyn. Say no more.

Ever had Torrontés? No, it’s not the city in Ontario that my AutoCorrect insists it is. It’s a white grape and wine that is Argentina’s answer to the question – “Name a wine that is yuuuge at home and hardly available abroad.” My ‘go to’ is Susana Balbo’s take but this one is cheaper and does the trick. The 2016 Zolo Torrontés #183913 $14.95 is big on the sniff with a hint of the citrus, lip smacking stuff to follow. Perfect with cold shrimp, smoked salmon with capers, or (not being an oyster lover) I bet with oysters. Or just sip on its own. Clean and crisp but not sharp edged. A nice surprise for your guests.

Another repeat – the 2015 Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel #942151 $29.95 is returning to the shelves. I recommended this previously here. A friend who actually reads this site (yes, there are people that read this site), responded with purchase and a quick note to me that he y esposa enjoyed the wine. Shout out to J & O. Do you enjoy Zin? I mean there are the usual suspects led by the always tasty Ravenswood Old Vines. But, do yourself a favour and step up to this brilliant wine. This is loaded with character, power, and life. “Yet”, he adds, not the confusing jumble of darkness and heat that many entry-level Zins offer. It’s a sophisticated beaut.

A fellow blogger wrote a nice post on the wines of Languedoc-Roussillon. Shout out to Michelle at Rockin Red Blog. You can read her take here. If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll know that I love many wines from that region. And, I’m excited that one of those guys is being released again this weekend – 2015 Château Saint-Roch Chimières #119354 $19.95. This is pure Roussillon. A result of hot summer days, dusty roads, lavender fields, and careful winemaking. A Grenache/Syrah/Carignan blend, it starts with the Grenache on the sniff and the swish – some heat, jamminess, and dark fruit. The Syrah on the finish shows some spiciness. This is a superb value only discounted to $19.95 perhaps because of the lack of caché that the AP Côtes du Roussillon-Villages carries. The herbal quality and spiciness would pair well with a lamb tagine – and that’s saying something about this wine’s spicy complexity.

From the “Previous Release’ file, there is a great red from Toro in Spain that you need to pick up – 2012 Terra d’Uro Finca la Rana #424135 #18.95. Before I talk about this wine, why don’t they just say $19.00? I think I speak for all of us when I say that we get that this wine is essentially $19.00. Just saying. OK, the wine. This is from Toro which means that it’s serious and oh so Spanish. No mistaking the origin of this. Mostly Tempranillo – so a bit of a Rioja or Duoro vibe. More stoney and less woody than Rioja. An attractive mustiness (is that just me? Not the mustiness part, although I can get musty, but the attractive part – love the mustiness) and some darker fruits on the sniff. I read where this is aged in used French oak barrels but there’s nothing to indicate such – loads of anise particularly after it’s gone. A real steal at this price. Don’t buy just one.

This might be a good time to load up on some bubbly. Not bubbly as in mixing-something-fizzy-with-orange-juice bubbly. Or, “Man, I’m a bit whirly” bubbly. But, substantive, classy, “Wow” bubbly. This is a hit with The Director who is a Chardonnay hound. Could be that it has some Chardonnay in it but I think that’s only part of the equation. This is smooth without being creamy – crisp, tightly knit bubbles like a good Champagne, apples – made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Aligoté. And consistent year-in, year-out as pointed out by Michel Godel in his review. I recommend it almost every time I see that’s it’s on offer. You can read my last one here and the one before here. Almost forgot, it’s the Bailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne #991562 $19.95. I’m stocking up at this price.

There are some high priced beauties coming to shelves, as well. Headlined by the 2014 Sassicaia $216.95, the 2012 Antinori Pian della Vigne Brunello di Montalcino $62.95, and the exquisite 2010 Tedeschi Capitel Monte Olmi Riserva Amarone della Valpolicella Classico $79.95. And the Sassicaia is under $217!

Cheers.

Bill

Are You OK? The Rainbow Daily Slosh

14 Apr

Had to put this in today. We are seeing the Dixie Chicks on Tuesday. I like them. Could be the boots?

When I was studying at university (if you knew me then, you are laughing uncontrollably now), the pop wisdom was reflected in books like I’m OK, You’re OK and How To Be Your Own Best Friend. The thinking was that our problems stemmed from a lack of self-love. I remember talking to a criminal client who had assaulted his wife over and over again. He said to me with a straight face, “I can’t love myself, so how am I expected to love her.” Loving her, dude? Seriously, we are just aiming for not killing her.

I had thought that this philsophy of self-love had disappeared and a new more ‘enlightened but fleeting’ thinking had taken it’s place years ago. But, I was creeping Facebook the other day and was struck with the number of ‘Likes’ that had something to do with a saying roughly about loving yourself. Some were quite clever and others just trite and simple.

And, then I remembered all the commercials, usually aimed at women, that talked about loving who you are (and buying some of our shit) regardless of what you look like. Or, conversely, loving yourself because we make you look so darn great. Self-love actualized through shopping. I wish that the problems facing us today could be solved with a little self-love. Drop thousands of copies of How To Be Your Own Best Friend on Syria. Presto. Peace.

Regardless, I know that I’m mostly OK and, unfortunately for those around me, a bit flawed as well.

What’s this have to do wine. Not much really, I just wanted to ramble a bit before I discussed the juice.

This weekend’s release (April 15) has a load of great new wines (94 in all). A marketing focus on Mediterranean wines, Aussie whites, and some local talent is prevalent. On the local front, there’s the 2014 Henry of Pelham Family Tree Red #247882 $18.95. I tasted this wine at my golf club as a sample to evaluate for the ‘house red’. It’s a blend of Syrah (33%), Merlot (29%), Cabernet Franc (19%), and Back Noir (5%). It’s seen quite a bit of time in oak (17 mos.) and you can both smell and taste the effect of the barrel time. It’s still crisp and juicy with nice acidity and integrated tannins. I like it a lot and think it’s perfect for a ‘house’ wine. A very quaffable wine and a great example of how well HoP take care of their stuff. Good label always.

We have family that recommended this wine to me years ago. They buy a bunch of it. I got an early sample of it this past week. The 2013 Papale Linea Oro Primitivo di Mandurai #261784 $18.95 is a Puglian beauty. It reflects the heat of that region. When we were there a few years ago, we were struck by the breadth of the agricultural industry there. Olives tress as far as the eye could see, vines neatly organized in straight rows all over the countryside. This wine is made with the Primitivo (early ripening) grape which is a DNA match with Zinfandel. That’s scientist-speak for it’s the same thing. So, even though it’s treated a little less bigly here, it’s still chewy, big enough and fruity. I find these a little less one-dimensional than a similarly priced Zin and this is true to that experience. A great host(ess) wine and one that I’ll be stocking up on for the summer ahead, if it lasts that long. Shout out to S & P.

I believe that you can actually taste the Mediterranean sun in the rosés of Provence. But, a close second are the red wines of rest of Southern France. This week, there’s a real good example of that in the 2014 Michel Gassier Nostre Païs #295410 $21.95. This comes from Costières de Nïmes an AC in the Southern Rhone. So, think a blend similar to a Côtes du Rhône and in this case with a whack of Grenache and Syrah. This producer seldom disappoints through their whole portfolio but I like this effort as much as any of theirs. This reflects the garrigue in the glass and on the swallow with loads of black fruit. Moderately elevated ABV (probably due to the Grenache) but no real heat. Good short term cellar candidate. And, maybe you don’t taste the Mediterranean but you can smell it in this wine.

A couple of good efforts from Argentina are the 2015 Zuccardi Serie A Torrontés #389262 $16.95 – great extra dry big-nosed wine. Summer sipper by the lake. Has an Alsatian vibe to it.

And the 2014 Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon #135202 $19.95. A New World CS Full-bodied and structured with loads of fruit. This would make a good ‘house’ wine as well. Crowd pleaser.

A wine that I’m going to pick up:

2014 Tornatore Nerello Mascalese #487090 $21.95 – we are travelling to Sicily this September and I’m cramming on Sicilian wine. This wine is from the Etna Rosso DOC  which is a trending wine region right now. It’s made from, you guessed it, Nerello Mascelese. I’ve been reading John Szabo’s fabulous book Volcanic Wines, a fabulous book (he says redundantly) that’s as pretty as it is well-researched and informative. I’m going to write a post on some of the books that I’ve been reading lately. I love cramming. But, then again, I love me too. Well, today anyway. I’m OK.

Cheers

Bill

P.S It’s all about the boots.

 

Ludwig Von Dufton and The Rainbow Daily Slosh

20 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers.

Bill

Schmeet Spot Rant – The Red Daily Slosh

29 Sep

A little Cape Breton music. Travel there and you might get to sit in on a ceilidh.

I just came back from Cape Breton Island and, if you haven’t heard, there was a cheeky campaign to lure Americans there should Donald Trump win. Check it all out here. Absolutely beautiful place. But, then again, I was there in September not February. Best people ever.

I’m told by many that my recommendations are a bit higher cost-wise than their particular ‘sweet spot’. I agree that the prices on duffswines have crept up over the years. But, a financial sweet spot? You should adjust. For example, think back to the first car you bought that had power windows or air conditioning. OK, I know that I’m old and dating myself but I do remember crank windows and family trips in cars that you would now be charged for leaving your dog in. So, we all get used to air conditioning in our car. You might have had a sweet spot for car beaterprices but you’ve adjusted to incorporate the cost of options and must-haves such as A/C. Car buyers understand that you usually expect to get what you pay for. No one would say to you, “I think my $4,000 favourite used car is as perfectly nice, dependable, and comfortable a car as you can get. And, I wouldn’t know the difference between driving it and your Lexus.” But wine drinkers are always doing that. I hear that people think that their $4 home made wine is just as good as, say, the wines that I’m recommending below. Well, I can’t argue with what is clearly wrong. “It isn’t as good to anyone but you,” I feel like screaming. “And, BTW, you’re wrong! You can tell the difference!” I could go on but I’m suggesting that you think of the wine first and the price second – that’s all. Well not quite. Think of the wine first and the price second and also keep an open mind to the experience – that’s all. Well, one more thing, actually. Do those two things and then send me an email about how right I am. That I’ve opened your mind to the $25 and up wines. Yes, I’m being a wine snob. Or, maybe I’m just trying to justify the prices of my recommendations this week. I’m OK with that too.

The mother ship is pimping Tuscan and Rioja wines this weekend. In the case of the Tuscan stuff, that means you might end up spending a lot of money and having to explain the credit card balance to your significant other by suggesting that you were buying for her, ergo, she shouldn’t check the cellar or risk ruining the surprise. Who would use such a transparent tactic?

crognoloFirst a Tuscan wine that represents a bit more than a Daily Slosh – 2013 Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo #727636 $29.95, This is perhaps the best priced Super Tuscan ever. And, you pronounce that EH-fer. A blend of Sangiovese and Merlot. Drinking right now with well integrated tannins, still fresh and lip smacking. Wood there but barely noticeable. In perfect balance. I think that you could cellar this for a few years more. I’d love this with a tomato sauce pasta – maybe some cheesy, tomatoey veggie lasagne. If you’re into scores – James Suckling gives this a 95! My Good Shit meter gives it a ‘Really, Really’.

castello-di-amaThe 2010 Castello di Ama San Lorenzo Gran Selezione Chianti Classico was Wine Spectator’s #6 wine of 2014 or ’15. I jumped at the chance to buy a few when the LCBO had it at somewhere around $30. Now, they have the 2011. If you check the assessment of the 2010 vintage versus the 2011, you might think that there’s a fall off (96 to 93). But, seriously, does your palate know the difference when they are both great? Mine doesn’t. I mean I can tell the difference between vintages when they’re uncharacteristically wet, cold or just plain shitty. But, when they’re generally excellent, a point one way or the other is a waste of consideration IMHO. This week, the 2011 Castello di Ama San Lorenzo Gran Selezione Chianti Classico #418897 $48.95 is in store. I know, I know. It’s s stretch to spend $50 on my recommendation. But, have I ever steered you wrong? Wait. Have I ever steered you wrong with the exception of the case of Chateau Corké that you bought? Let this sit for a couple years and then see what your sweet spot financial limit has to do with great wine.

dramatis-personaeOK, we’ll bring it down, as Tina Turner once said. I stumbled on a ‘sale’ wine at the Wonderland North store – shout out to Ken B. – the other day. Could it be? What the hell. I bought a couple. The 2010 Dramatis Personae #450650 $15.20 ($18.95 regular price) smells and tastes a lot like a Rioja. Sandalwood, cedar scents and solid red fruit, leathery stuff on the medium finish. I sniffed it and had to check the label to make sure I was smelling something from Argentina and not made with Tempranillo. It’s a Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda blend. Remarkably light in the mouth but still carrying loads of personality and power. I think it’s probably a year away from being spent but I think that I might drink a case of everyday wine between now and October 2017. Just sayin’ I’m a hard worker.

tre-saggiI love a wine with a name that I can fool around with. And, I’ve fooled with this wine in other vintages a few times. The 2013 Talamonti Tre Saggi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #204016 $15.95 is a repeat offender here. It is tres droopy, oui? This is great for sipping outside during the last weeks of al fresco weather. Doesn’t need food but, if you wish, something fingery would be great – mildly spicy peel and eat shrimp, decent mid-tang cheeses, and/or bread and oil. This has the effects of oak – toast, roundness, vanilla. It’s not what I would call ‘typical’ MdA in that it’s a bit less rustic than I’m used to. I love rustic but I really like this too.

chocolate-factoryAnd, just because I need to feed my habit, I’m going to pick up a few of the 2014 Zonte’s Footsteps Chocolate Factory Shiraz #396481 $17.95. If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll remember that I’ve recommended several of the offerings from Zonte’s Footsteps. In the other cuvees, their style is more on the lighter, fresher and less on the heavy, chewy. So is this.

And, just to review – chuck the ‘sweet financial spot’ approach and buy in to the ‘good wine first’ approach to selecting your slosh.

Cheers

Bill

May 2-4 – The Red Daily Slosh

24 May

As I wrapped up this post this morning, we got the news that Gord Downie was ill. Quite a shock. Bumped into a friend at the grocery store and that’s the first thing we talked about. So, I tried to find the perfect Hip video for the moment. To celebrate! I decided on a song that seems to speak to his character and values. Plus, he’s so young here. And besides, the video for “In a World Possessed By The Human Mind” was a little slow getting going. It’s available here if you want. Either way, take some time this weekend to listen to some Hip and think of Gord. And, when they tour your town, make it out! This, sadly, is a true farewell tour.

My sunset on Friday night

My sunset on Friday night

So on to the truly trivial, I’m back from the cottage and we are opened up for the season ahead. For those not from the Great White North, this past weekend was May 2-4 or, for the monarchist set, Victoria Day: our May Memorial Day. Well, we don’t memorialize anything other than drunken revelry (hence, the 2-4) and mosquitos. Where our cottage is located, there is the addition of black flies. So, drunken revelry, mosquitoes and black flies. If you have never experienced black flies, I can easily explain them. Think of a swarm of pestilence of biblical proportions. Yup, that be them. They are the most persistent, bothersome, pesky little biters in the insect world. Regardless, I got some stuff done. Docks? Sort of – after determining the location of the nesting snapping turtles. Sometime, I will regale you with tales of snapping turtles, dead beavers – no shit, Bucky The Beaver, and really scary friends. But, Bill, what did you drink? WIYG?

I enjoyed rosé – Carte Noire – a great, crisp, light but not too light wine from Provence. And, I had a Rioja that was, well, disappointing. I recommended this very wine just a few weeks ago. I’m hoping that this 2011 Muga Reserva was an aberration – cooked, maybe. It was flat – unexciting and I love this wine usually. Oh well – Raptors were winning on the radio (no television allowed) and I didn’t really care about the wine. Go Raps!

The coming weekend brings some great opportunity to stock up for the summer. Remember that season? It’s warm, if lucky you’re on vacation, and, in my case, I get to spend time with friends, family and Bucky at my favourite place, Kahshe Lake.

benmarcoPicture this, you’re sitting around after a heavy day at work in the garden. You love Malbec. I have the tonic to what ails you – 2013 Benmarco Malbec #657601 $17.95. This will become your ‘go to’ Malbec – made from 100% Malbec. It is accessible, drinkable as in “where did that bottle go – open another” drinkable, and a great value. Much more balanced, refined than most of the General Listing Malbecs. Benmarco also makes a high level offering – Expresivo. If you see it grab it. The 2013 Expresivo has 30% Cab Franc – it’s a beaut – shows what can be done with Malbec that’s grown at altitude – refined. The bonus to Benmarco – or should I say the guarantee is that the winemaker is Susana Balbo. Caselot!

We were at a wedding last month and a couple there were leaving the next day for Italy. A pilgrimage of sorts to Ancona where a father had fought in a tank battle in WW II. But, they also were traveling around Rome, to Ancona (in the Marche Region) and then up to Bologna. They asked for any unique wine aldianorecommendations in the regions that they might run in to. I suggested Lambrusco di Sorbara, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Pecorino whites and, of course reds from Abruzzo. They were all too familiar with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo as we get a ton at the mothership. This week, there’s a regular in my cellar – 2011 Aldiano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Reserve #051706 $19.95. This is a perfect pairing with Spaghetti Bolognese. Ripe fruit, juicy acidity with a background of nastiness. Now, nastiness, for me, is the best part of these country wines. In this case, ‘nastiness’ is leather, brush, and brown. You might think brown is a colour not a flavour or aroma. In Duffs World, you’d be wrong, dude. If you sip this, you’ll see what I mean. It isn’t red, black, purple but brown in smell and taste. Tell me if you’ve experienced this.

Just re-read the above. “Brown” – um, that might not be an inducement to try this wine. When I think of brown liquid, I say, “Eeew.” What I meant to say, sans visualization, is that the wine has a sense about it close to leather, wood, and other brownish things. Just evokes ‘brown’ to me.

Oh, BTW, if you can find the 2012 Tre Saggi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #204016 $15.95 still around your local, pick it up. Great value and good enough to serve at my son’s wedding celebration.

Local mid-priced reds include:
2012 Megalomaniac Bigmouth Merlot #067645 $24.95 – as the name suggests it’s big. Cherries and vanilla – good underlying muscle and support for the fruit.
2011 Tawse Grower’s Blend Pinot Noir #130989 $24.95 – this is a great entry into Tawse style and approach to this grape. Straight forward, purposeful, extremely refreshing Pinot. A guaranteed perfect host/hostess gift.

allegrinipdtAnd, I’ve saved the best for last. The 2012 Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre #672931 $24.95 is a petit Amarone in my mind. I realize that if your sweet spot is $15 – $20 then you’ll have to ignore the cold sweats at the checkout and plunk down the $25 for this big, expressive, chewy wine. It has the telltale dried fruits of the ripasso technique but I’ve never felt that they were heavy handed here. Turns out that the wine is only half-assed ripasso. They ferment half the grapes fresh and then have another fermentation with grapes that have dried for a few months. The result is close to perfect for my tastes. Aged cheese, please.

And, let me know your favourite Tragically Hip song in the comment section below. Still can’t believe it. He’s only 52.

Cheers

Bill

Remember; Click on the linked SKU and price and it will take you to the mothership’s inventory site. Drop down the menu and scroll to your location and it will tell you how many bottles there are around. Beats driving all over town looking for the last remaining bottles. Now, who the hell would do that? Seriously.

Duff’s Book Club – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

7 Aug

Well, what’s everyone been up to? Me? I’ve been off these pages for better than a month. I’ve been at the lake, doing man stuff (building things, beer, baseball on the radio), boating, swimming, sitting, drinking a shitload of wine (that’s a anthonydoerrmetric measurement for my friends south of the border), and reading a lot. Some great books. Some very disappointing ones. On that score, I’ve decided that I will never read another book with the word “Girl” in the title. And, if the book also tells its story through several different unreliable narrators, I am out of here. Did anyone read Gone Girl? It was pretty sorry, wasn’t it? Everyone is writing books that mirror Gone Girl’s tale, technique, and style. I made the mistake of getting The Girl On The Train and The Good Girl under the guise that The Director would like them. Brutal. Why everything the same again and again until no one buys it?

rawihagePlease no more ‘Young Adult’ books that involve wizards, vampires, and/or post apocalyptic young women. Everything the same again. Uncle. I give up!

I did read some great books. The best of which were: Rawi Hage’s DeNiro’s Game, Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See, and a Carl Hiassen one that I probably read before – love him. I’m off to Spain next month so if you have some good reads to share, let me hear them.

This is a wine blog. So, on to the wine!

I thought that I’d just make this a mélange, a cornucopia, a bit of a mashup really of reds and whites.

Let’s start with Argentina. I was speaking with the son of a friend of mine and he said that every time he sees Susana Balbo’s Malbec, he buys it and then benmarcocswhen he takes it to an event, the host (if she/he even opens it- which is the peril of taking something that’s actually good to an event, isn’t it?), they remark that it’s great and posit that it cost a lot more than it actually did. The power of good winemaking is what that is. Well, this week, there’s another from Dominio del Plate (Susana’s home perch) 2013 BenMarco Cabernet Sauvignon #232637 $18.95. This is pure Cabernet Sauvignon. Cassis, structure, grip – a food wine. Hands up – how many people think California when they think Cabernet Sauvignon? Bordeaux? Chile? Australia (stay tuned)? Argentina? Now, if there is one person with their hand up, I’ll buy a new MacBook. I’m not sure if anyone thinks of Argentinean cab sav as ‘classical’. This may change your mind and it’s only $18.95! You may say that I’ve been a little too effusive about Susana in the past and you’d be right. Regardless of the past love, my eyes are open, this is good juice.

roscsStaying on the cab sav bandwagon, let’s travel to the Margaret River region of Australia. In Western Australia, they make the best Cabernet Sauvignon in Australia possibly with the exception of Coonawarra in some vintages IMHO. It’s warm, dusty, and crafty there. The 2012 Robert Oatley Cabernet Sauvignon #323741 $19.95 is one of those solid yet elegant reds. It doesn’t hit you over the head with tannins and acidity but everything nonetheless is yummy – subtley good. Restrained. I’d say this could be a sipper – as in, just pop and pour during the argument phase of the evening which happens at my place pre-dinner, post dinner or actually during dinner. Actually save the dinner for a bigger more flamboyant red. This carries redder fruits than other New World cabs.

eastonI always love a good zin and this week there’s a consistent one that costs a bit more but I’m good for it – the 2012 Easton Zinfandel (Amador County) #328377 $27.95. I first had this label at a zin tasting and it blew me away. A zin tasting is like a Bordeaux pre-release tasting. By the time I taste 10-15 wines, my palate is shot, if I was being honest. Oh, I still swish and spit and ooh and aah but it’s a farce really. My notes become more and more cryptic and vacuous (like my comments here?). Well, this wine in it’s 2010 vintage broke through the sock mouth and showed leather notes, red fruit, and an earthiness that I don’t always associate with Zinfandel. This vintage is similar. Not heavy, good grip, and a burst of red fruit. After you swallow, you get a nice finish with a smokiness or leatheriness. A very sophisticated Zinfandel at this price. I’d love to understand if it’s the winemaker or the vineyard or both that brings this experience. Maybe a trip to California for research?

closOn the white side, there’s a nice Muscadet. I do love Muscadet. This one, 2010 Clos les Montys Vieilles Vignes Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie #297911 $13.95 is a typical one. Salty, crisp, and full of pears. Love pears too. This is the perfect accompaniment to shellfish simply prepared and eaten al fresco under the stars. OK, you could have it in the living room too. I had a comment a long time ago. The troll wondered why I slagged Pinot Grigio but loved Muscadet. Well, 1. it’s my blog and I’m OK with you thinking I’m contradictory, and 2. They are not remotely the same wine! Go ahead PG lovers, pick this up and have with the aforementioned shellfish or fresh field tomatoes and tell me that reminds you of PG.

yEvery year I mention the 2014 Yalumba The Y Series Viognier #624502 $16.95. I had this vintage at a restaurant while I waited for a colleague. Yes, that’s right, I started drinking before he got there. I know I have a problem. This wine just bursts from the glass – peaches and cream. Such an invitation to gulp! But, don’t. You’ll miss the bright acidity and lovely mouthfeel. It’s smooth and spicy at the same time.

contradeSplurge alert – in winegeekdom, there’s a club called the Wine Century Club. The goal of the club is to drink wines made with 100 different grapes. I started to fill in the forms with every different grape I sampled. But, like every other endeavour I undertake, I ran out of steam. But, if I was still doing the note taking, the 2012 Contrade di Taurasi Grecomusc’ #418715 $32.95 would have to be included. This wine is made from the Roviello grape. I associate Taurasi with red wines. I hadn’t heard of the white Taurasi made with Roviello. This was a glass in a restaurant again so I’m going with memories only here. Anyway, this white wine is all citrus and spice and incredibly strong. Not strong as in medicine but strong as in it’s intensity. It has a big backbone of acidity and I bet needs a few years or some time in the glass and warmth to express itself. Very interesting and worthy of a pick up in your Wine Century Club pursuit.

Cheers.

 

 

 

Snowma-oops, The Red Daily Slosh

3 Feb

This day in 1959 – The Day That Music Died.

Apparently the weather media, in an attempt to be relevant, overshot the historic-ness of the recent snow storm. I was a little disappointed. I’d picked the wine I was drinking in front of the fire and the binge television that I was going to watch. Most people now just turn on the phone and check the weather. No waiting up for,”Weather at 11.” We already know. This time they out did each other on the magnitude of the storm. I had a saying with my kids that seems to fit the occasion, “I’ve told you a million times to stop exaggerating.”

The February 7th release features wines that use native Italian grapes – Sangiovese, Aglianico, Primitivo, Falanghina, Negoramaro, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, et al. It’s a nice selection if you wanted to explore wines with a different origin, different grapes but all still feeling like they should be wrapped in a wicker basket – still bearing Il Tricolore in their heart. I’m not sure what the connecting common quality, sense, or value of the wines is but they are all unmistakably Italian. Love ‘em. But of course, I love ’em in moderation.

cappellaccioThe Cappellaccio label made it’s first appearance on these pages way back when I started. That was the 2005 vintage, then I pimped the 2006 too. Well, the 2007 Rivera Cappellaccio Riserva Aglianico #305276 $17.95 hits shelves this weekend. I love the Aglianico wines of Southern Italy – Campania (Taurasi), Basilicata, and Puglia. For me Aglianco seems to need time in bottle to settle down. Young, it can be overly tannic, thick feeling, and unbalanced. But, after some choir practice in bottle, the parts kind of get together and cooperate – harmony. Tannins take a back seat to the dark, tarry fruit. The 2007 Cappellaccio from Puglia is just such a wine – dense dark fruits on the swish and swallow – long finish. This has a lot of stuff going on. You people out there that take notes know that sometimes you just haven’t got a lot to say? You really have to try hard to pick out scents and flavours. “On the nose – wine aromas. The attack is subtle – wine coming through on the mid-palate.” As a contrast, this wine’s notes are full of descriptors – wood, dark fruits, smokiness, chocolate. Say it out loud and you’ll probably experience it. Weird that. Complex. Although it’s already 7 years old, it’s just now coming into focus. That should intrigue. Buy two, open one this weekend, let it breathe, savour with pasta and meaty tomato sauce (bottled is acceptable).  Save the other for a couple more years down the road. Highly recommended. And folks I’ve just talked myself into pasta with bottled tomato sauce (salt lick?) tonight. Is that lazy? Ah……yeah. Unambitious? Definitely. Smart? Yup.

mocalimdsAnyone who has been to Italy has probably sat at an outdoor cafe, eaten a freshly prepared simple pizza, and people watched for an hour or more. Made up interesting stories about people you see sitting together – she’s cheating on her husband, he’s her boss, they’re arguing about what to do about the unplanned pregnancy. No? Come on, it’s one of the best things to do IMHO. And, if you’ve ordered a red wine with that pie? Well, you can recreate that feeling with the 2012 Mocali Morellino di Scansano #317115 $16.95. An underrated wine, Morellino. Made from at least 85% Sangiovese (many 100%), the wines come from Tuscany, nearish to Grosseto. Morellino is usually fresh cherry good and food friendly, tangy. This one comes from a trusted producer, Mocali – trust their Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino. In the swirl, I get dark cherries, smells of the vineyard – earthy, woodiness. Morellino DOC doesn’t require oak aging (the Riserva requires at least one year of two total aging in wood barrel) but in the finish, there’s a woody thing going on which makes me think that they did use oak – lending some depth. There’s a fresh lipsmacking quality on the finish. It will remind you of that time on the piazza. Maybe they were breaking up?

montefinoAbout a year ago, I made a resolution to drink more wines from Portugal. As with most resolutions I make, I started in hard and heavy with reading, drinking, and writing about Portuguese wine. What happened? I got a bit distracted with all other things wine and was diverted from the goal. Sound familiar to anyone out there in wineland? I admittedly did not drink that many Portuguese wines over the past year. The last time I trumpeted a wine from Portugal, it was the 2005 Montefino Tinto Reserva #165159 $17.95. My write up? “Now, this wine has enough sediment in it to scare some off. Don’t be, just decant for that purpose alone. The wine doesn’t need a decant to settle or anything but you don’t want to choke on whatever has broken down and been accumulating over the last 8 years. How do I know? Let’s leave that for another time. The wine is medium to full bodied but has a hard to describe lightness to it that was my first impression (after the sediment, that is) that’s a great attribute – fresh and easy drinkin’. It’s well balanced and those that find some of my recommendations too ‘heavy’ won’t find this one that way. The label says, “This fresh and aromatic wine, consumed in moderation, exists to bring pleasure to those that drink it.” Well said. I felt warm all over and inclined to be not so – moderate, that is. It’s a potential case lot for sure but there are limited quantities out there.” Well it’s back! This wine should still be fresh and balanced. Just watch the sediment. Actually, I use the ‘wine guy gift’ filter that someone kindly gave me a few years ago. Thank you to whomever gifted it. Works great and you can concentrate on the wine alone.

lapostapvmIt’s been awhile since I recommended a Malbec. This week, there’s an entry from a dependable producer, La Posta. The 2013 La Posta Pizzella Vineyard Malbec #166298 $16.95 is a Malbec that harkens back, for me, to my first Malbec experiences – substantial, assertive and pretty big. No trickiness with oak or flavouring – just pure fruit. A definitive clovey or peppery bite on the finish. Great wine for a meat that’s burnt, fatty, and rare. They have a new label too. Has a real Spanish feel to it.

A wine that I’m going to pick up untasted:

balbas2005 Balbas Reserva #085183 $21.95 – the last time I saw this label it was the 2001 and the mother ship seemed to have an endless supply. It kept repeating and repeating and I kept buying and buying. My review here. This is a much newer wine and, I’m getting it with the totally unattainable goal of holding it for a few more years. If you’ve said to yourself, “I’d like to start or replenish a cellar.” This is a perfect wine. Lovely, lovely – food, sipping, or guzzling. If your tastes trend to Rioja lover (this is from Ribera del Duero but still Temprtanillo) this is for you. Another candidate to buy a couple or more, open one – let it breathe and save the rest for later. I think that I’ve just talked myself into it. I love it when that happens.

For those new to the site, you can check a wine’s availability at the LCBO by clicking on the link (underlined SKU and price) and dropping down the city menu.

Bill

A New Year – The White Daily Slosh

7 Jan

Aside from my splurge posts last month, it’s been awhile since I last posted on white sloshes. FYI, click on the links here to read the splurge posts: Holiday Advice Part 1; Holiday Advice Part Deux; Holiday Advice Fini

Can we talk? I hate winter. Back when I skied or took my son to hockey, at least there was something to celebrate besides gassing up the snowblower and road reports. The Red Daily Slosh that I posted yesterday was influenced by this sentiment, the cold, and the snow shovel, I’m afraid. It’s been pointed out to me that two (Sangrantino, Tannat) of the four wines were pretty heavy hitters – come-in-from-the-cold wines. OK, I did do that. So, why now would I recommend a white wine that’s so inextricably malingelinked to summer patios? Not sure. Maybe it’s because I like it, it’s my blog, and I’m not a slave to time of year. Heck, I drink rosé in the winter too. The 2013 Domaine du Bois-Malinge sur Lie Sèvre et Maine #224236 $13.95 could never be accused of being ‘heavy’. But it does pack a punch – an acidic punch. A lip smacker. It says in the review that it has a spritz to it but I’d say a tingle sums it up best for me. Great sipper or a great wine for salty seafood dishes. If you trend to Pinot Grigio (and, we won’t make a disparaging comment – live and let live – drink what you love), I’d think that you’d appreciate this light, refreshing white.

There’s a thing called #NWTW that wine lovers the world over participate in. OK, it may not be “the world over”. But, there’s a broad base of participation that you might want to think about joining. It’s gavidesigned to get us all to try different wines – get out of our rut. Change it up. Each week in 2014, a different wine was explored by Please Bring Me My Wine, the fearless leader of the idea. History, how it’s made, what to eat with it, and several suggestions of what labels to look out for. It is fun. So, let’s try this out here. Everyone pick up a bottle of 2013 Bersano Gavi di Gavi #999979 $14.95, break into small groups, sip and discuss, create a mindmap of your thoughts on the wine, and then report back to the large group minuted on a central flipchart. Sound like fun? Or just the work of a former “front-of-room” organization guy? I plead guilty. OK, forget about it. But, there’s a chance for rut escape with this crisp, meadowy white. Focused and light – a great white for sipping before a meal or with a light lunch. Try it out.

Where do bargains reside in droves? South America. I used to recommend a Chilean or Argentinean wine almost every post but have switched my tasting style to a more traditional continental feel, it seems. But, one winery always brings me back – Dominio del Plata and their winemaker, Susana crioschardonnayBalbo. The 2013 Crios Chardonnay #243196 $13.95 is a perfect cottage wine. I’m not planning on travelling to my cottage any time soon (couldn’t get in to it) but I could put a fire on right here and pretend that I’ve just spent the day doing nothing (OK, I really don’t have to pretend on that part) in the sun and open a bottle of this value Chardonnay. Crios in Argentina must mean “bargain”. The Torrontes and Malbec are also stunningly good value. This Chardonnay doesn’t fall into the “cheap Chardonnay” fault of lack of punch. It carries some weight and can take on foods that you’d think you’d need a richer wine to tackle. It has creaminess on the finish in particular with a hint of acid that takes away any impression that it’s flabby. Great value for the oaked Chardonnay lovers. BTW, at Duffswines, we hate flabby wines. Hate ‘em, hate ‘em, hate ‘em.

A couple Chardonnays that I’m going to pick up for The Director include 2013 Wakefield Chardonnay #711556 $14.95 which, in vintages past, provides great value in an oaked Chardonnay – balanced, straight forward, and full of toasty notes on the finish. And, the 2012 Voyageur Chardonnay #389544 $16.00. This is made by a Prince Edward County winery from Niagara fruit. If it’s PEC, it should be a little more restrained and classic – can’t wait.

For those new to the blog, if you click on the link provided with each wine (product number and price), you will be taken to an LCBO description of the wine. You can check availability in your area by pulling down the city list in the top right. If you have any trouble let me know.

Also, if you try any of these wines, drop me a line at the email address on the right or put a comment in below.

Bill

 

 

 

Chicchitti, Bang, Bang – The Red Daily Slosh

5 Dec

alligator

I’ve just returned from a week in Florida where I enjoyed some quality time drinking wine, getting some sun, golfing, and, well, drinking more wine. My friend and I were unable to solve the important riddles of life but we did discover that, Holy Jumpin’, alligators are not as quick on land as myth would lead you to believe. The first or was it the second wine we opened was a Rioja – 2007 Montecillo Reserva and the room quickly filled up with oh’s and ahs. Well, maybe not oh’s and ah’s but, “This sh** is greats!” and “Wow, smell that – no, Bill, I mean really smell it.” Just such a pretty wine, powerful nose with loads of

montecillowinecedary, spicy interest. All grown up, solid, settled in. Medium-bodied, moderate tannins and acidity. Rioja Reserva with a little age like this one is just so dignified and satisfying. So, I decided to source it locally and to my surprise it is offered in the General Listings aisles at the LCBO. But what vintage? It wasn’t given on-line. So, I wandered out to Fanshawe and Hyde Park to pick one up. Now, being a wine snob, I had to get directions to the General Listings section – “It’s just past the ‘Barefoot Strawberry Blush’ aisle end display, keep going until you see the basket of boxed wine. If you reach the red velvet cake-flavoured vodka pyramid, you’ve gone too far.” I said that I was a wine snob. The vintage that’s on shelves here now is mostly the 2009 Montecillo Reserva #621003 $18.95 (with currency exchange, the price at Total Wines was about the same as in Ontario). Now, to try it. This wine isn’t as settled as the 2007. It comes across as a bit more restrained and carries more acid. I like it but will like a lot better after a few years down below. If you can find some 2007 – big recommendation. Update: I’ve just let the ’09 decant for 4 hours and it’s just now starting to open up. Definitely a cellar and finish the bottle candidate. BTW, the label looks black above but is, in fact, blue.

ondarrewineA wine with similar characteristics to the ’07 Montecillo is the 2008 Ondarre Reserva #723452 $18.95. This wine has a darker tone to its fruit and a little less woodiness than the ’07 Montecillo. But, it too is medium-bodied, a streak of acidity that softens a bit with air. These wines would be great to have on hand for the cooler months ahead and the time of year where company comes and expects a sip or two. A nice break in the party season from the same old, same old.

Part of feeling confident in choosing wine for a dinner out or at home is familiarity with the label, producer, grape, etc. That’s probably why, in my home town, every restaurant it seems carries McManis wines. People are familiar with them, confident in what they’ll get. In this case, I don’t get it – I’m not usually a fan of McManis at their price point – well, almost any price point. But, most folks like to stay on a familiar road. The corollary is that my susana_balbo_malbecopinion obviously matters little. But, what I can contribute is a few more labels that you recognize and feel confident ordering. This brings me to Susana Balbo. I haven’t mentioned Susana’s wines in a while but I didn’t cry. The truth is she never left us. Yes, you noted correctly – an Evita reference. I promise it’s my last when mentioning Argentine wine. This week her 2012 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec #079798 $19.95 arrives and I hope it stays a while. This is a superbly balanced wine for this price. I don’t mean all blended together like a smoothie when I say ‘balanced’. It’s just that there isn’t one voice yelling above the rest. It’s more a chorus where you can still pick out the altos, the tenors and the basses but not one dominates – harmonious. This is full-bodied with a bold nose of predominantly berry fruit. In the mouth, it holds some heat (14.5% ABV), a sticky tannin or two on the finish. It is just so tasty and warming. I loved the ’10 (reviewed here) but my notes on this vintage seem more effusive.

cicchittiwineIf you’re interested in seeing what some age can do for a Malbec pick up the 2004 Chicchitti Gran Reserva Malbec #155713 #22.95. I first picked this up seemingly years ago through the on-line shopping service of the LCBO. I left it a few years and opened the last one in 2010. It seems that the ’04 appears every year. This is grown up wine. How do you know if you’re a grown up wine drinker? You know you’re not a grown up wine drinker if:

  • When ordering wine in a restaurant, you’re torn between the Pinot Grigio selection and “No, wait – I’m having the featured cocktail – The CNIB Slurpy”, or
  • You can’t quite pronounce Rojaa or Sawveegnoon so you order the Meirlotte, or
  • Your best wine drinking memory is that Purple Jesus night during Greek Week, or
  • You’re thinking, “Wine? Not enough alcohol in it.”

Back to the Chicchitti. This is a deep dark wine with lots of stuffing left – no flab or stewed fruit – still fresh. More interesting in the mouth than the glass. Long spicy finish. I think it would keep for awhile longer but it’s yummy now. If you’re interested in shopping on-line for some smaller availability and premium wines, this is the link. It’s relaxing to spend hours researching wines on a MacBook screen. At least that’s what I tell my therapist.

An untasted suggestion:

I may have had the 2011 Rosenblum Zinfandel #031781 $19.95 from Paso Robles and failed to make any notes. It can happen. I’ve always liked this product in other vinatges. In any event, it’s hitting shelves this weekend. If you’re a zin freak and who isn’t, pick this one up. It’s usually big enough to carry some burnt meat or ham with crackling. Shelve the cab sav and pour this one. But remember it carries 14.9% ABV so no more than a bottle each.

Images courtesy of:

http://www.vintages.com

http://www.thesun.co.uk

 

 

The King and Others – The Red Daily Slosh

21 Feb

elvis1These recommendations are for the March 1 release.

This week’s release features cabernet sauvignon – although you’ll see I’m not playin’. In the LCBO brochure and probably in point of sale signage, they call it “The King”. There have been many kings – The King of Pop (MJ); the King of Rock and Roll (EP); the King of Soul (JB – Godfather, really); the King of Siam (YB); the King of Swing (BG), among others. Many might agree that cabernet sauvignon is their red wine King due, in my addled mind, in this market, to California’s dominance and it’s ability to make great cabs at a reasonable price and better cabs at an astronomical price. But, I take issue with the coronation. I would have to upset our friend Miles from Sideways when I say that I think either merlot (largest number of acres under vine in the world, Right Bank beauties, blending dominant, and a very under-appreciated grape) or nebbiolo (as nicknamed ‘the King of Wine’, I believe, for years and producing unique special wines like Barolo) hold that spot. Not to say that I don’t love cabernet, just sayin’ that there is a debate. See poll below and participate to resolve this age old debate. And, don’t ask why I haven’t recommended any of the featured cabs. But it could be the inflated prices.

On to the wine.

rockwaycmIf you play golf and have ventured to Niagara, you might have strayed away from the bigger name courses to play 18 at Rockway Glen. It’s a golf course with a winery and reception centre. Or, alternatively, a winery with an 18 hole golf course. Anyone who has golfed with me will tell you that I am an extremely modest, spectacularly skilled golfer who very, very quietly goes about his business on the course. But, I don’t write a golf blog. I write a wine blog. So, it’s the wine I want to talk about. I tasted the 2011 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Cabernet Merlot #370346 $15.95 at the winery and we all know that that’s the best place to taste. I was impressed with the freshness of this wine – perhaps the blend. It’s medium-bodied with more cab fruit on the nose (blackberry, cassis) and some woody nuances joining them in the mouth – medium finish. It’s a fun wine which shouldn’t be a drawback but a plus. Wine is supposed to be fun and easy to drink too much of. So, take your sticks to Niagara and after the frustration of a golf game, get a buzz on at the winery. Responsibly, of course.

villamoraAs I wandered the aisles of my local the other day, I checked out the reds from the under appreciated regions of Italy (usually I’m looking for a cheap robust, gutsy wine) and found 2006 Villa Mora Montefalco Rosso Riserva #357079 $19.95. This wine is from Umbria and has sangiovese, sagrantino, merlot, cabernet in the blend. It reminds me of a wine from the Languedoc, style-wise – very full and dense with aromas of brush, dark and dried fruit. Can’t quite find the sangiovese. Plummy, somewhat gamey and pretty balanced in the mouth after 7 years in the bottle. Fairly elevated alcohol (15.5% ABV) but no burn. Tannins integrated and maybe a bit too mild for me but a lovely, lovely wine. It’s not everywhere so run don’t walk. I will keep an eye out for more Umbrian wines after this reminder of their value and style.

sopheniaIt’s been a few months since I recommended an Argentinean wine. If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll know that I was a bit of a malbec groupie last year. And so were many of you, if your nodding heads are any indication. I think it was the Susana Balbo influence. If you asked me then what wine babe I’d like to meet. I’d have said Susana. Love her malbec, cabernet and torrontes. Lately, however, I’ve been drifting north. Not sure why. And, I’m, not seeing anyone else. It’s just that she hasn’t returned my calls and stalker emails. This week 2011 Finca Sophenia Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon #350090 $17.00 comes to us from Mendoza, a region which does grow cab as well as their famed malbec. It has a pretty full nose of spice and raspberries – a sandalwood mouth thing going on. OK, that didn’t sound quite wine connoisseurry enough. How about, it has a hint of sandalwood on the palate? It’s a nice fruity cab that you would love if you’re partial to stand-up-straight cabs – reminds me (maybe erroneously and without running to other tasting notes) of a Western Australian cabernet.

olarraYes, Spanish wine rocks. I’ve mentioned a lot of wines on these pages and I’ve …..mentioned ……a lot …..of …..wines on these pages. And Spanish wines are some of the wines that I have mentioned. I mean a lot of Spanish wines. I love them! So, if you do too, there’s a Rioja Reserva, the 2006 Bodegas Olarra Añares Reserva #244723 $19.95 coming to a store near you. This wine is mature – think Penelope Cruz in 10 years – yeah, that nice. Really nice. My tasting note says, “petrol” in the mouth. It’s penciled in – so I must have meant it. Red fruit that’s dried a bit almost prune on the nose and palate. But, this is truly of the soil – bringing you the smell, feel and warmth of Spain – deep and sophisticated. I have friends heading to do the pilgrimage through Spain next month – guys, pick up a bottle of this, enjoy with some charcuterie and you’ll be ready. Except for the physical conditioning that you’ll need.

I will take a peek at this one

dowieA friend of mine who is somewhere in Mali and writes a blog about it here, gave me a heads up on the Dowie Doole Shiraz that she feels is the best representation of that grape from Down Under, for her tastes. It appears every once in awhile but I haven’t pulled the trigger to buy any yet. This week there’s what I assume is an entry level Doole. Or is that an entry level Dowie? The 2010 Dowie Doole Second Nature Cabernet/Shiraz/Merlot #361329 $19.95. I think that if I ever want to keep this friend, I need to buy a bottle of this and let her know what I think. It sounds quite yummy, fruity, yet enough substance – not a pool but a river? If you get some, let me know what you think.

Background music please, video montage of vineyards and barrels, and Jim Nance’s voiceover – “I just want to say that I am having problems staying below $20 for the Daily Slosh. Our friends at the mother ship have upsold us over the last three years quite noticeably into the $20 – $30 range on wines that I really want and, in past vintages, used to feel were full value. My everyday wine is getting worse and I can’t bring myself to drink the good stuff except when goaded by friends and other bloggers. It’s a bitch.” So, sorry if the Daily Slosh is shifting a bit above your comfort level. My advice – pay the extra and save it for the weekend. You only drink on the weekend anyway, you say? Who are you, Saint Abstinence the Crazy? I will rant on this and other issues of the monopoly later this month.

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