Tag Archives: Balbas Reserva

Summer’s End? The Rainbow Daily Slosh

21 Aug

gbroseI was on a bit of a promotion tour for rosés a while back and penned this post. Oh, it wasn’t a real tour, it just felt like all I was drinking was pink liquid sunshine. As I wound down the fascination (Confession: I really haven’t actually wound it down as witnessed by my Famille Perrin Tavel last night), I picked up a bottle from one of my favourite producers in the south of France – Gérard Bertrand. And, what do I see in this week’s release? La meme chose. The 2014 Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses Rosé #373985 $18.95 somehow allows you to smell the dusty, scrubby landscape of the Languedoc along with some strawberries right from the sniff – Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah. It’s a solid rosé. I’m not saying it isn’t fun but I’d suggest that you eat something with this to fully appreciate it. Something fresh and chewy. And, it doesn’t need the hot afternoon sun to strut its stuff. It has the heft of a Tavel. I’m buying a couple for the winter. Very cool bottle with a glass closure for good measure.

laclapeOK, before you say it, I do have a man crush on Gerard B. There is a series from the Languedoc that I like a lot – The Grand Terroir Series. Produced by Gérard Bertrand, the former French rugby star. This week, the 2011 Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir la Clape Syrah/Carignan/Mourvèdre #370262 $18.95 arrives. This is pure Languedoc for me. Full-bodied, rich and somewhat savage. Or should I say, sauvage? Spicy with some herbal things happening on the finish. Great red meat wine. I’d save a bunch for the winter stew season. A good value wine.

reichsratI spent a lovely evening with Oliver, The Wine Getter, last week and he popped and poured a few German Rieslings from the Mosel. When I returned home, I wanted to pick up some of the same. What did I find but a wine that is hitting the shelves this week? 2012 Reichsrat Von Buhl Armand Riesling Kabinett #060905 $18.95 It’s not from the Mosel but from Pfalz. What I’d read about Pfalz was limited but it implied that many of their wines had less minerality and more punch than some other German regions. Couldn’t tell you if that’s true generally but this wine seemed to fit that description. Acidity rather muted but a long finish of citrus fruit, suggestions of a warm region. I’m not sure that this would cellar for long but right now it’s a medium sweet introduction to Pfalz for me. Liked it a lot with emapanadas. What? Of course German empanadas.

balbasAs well as rosés, I’ve been pounding……er……sipping Spanish wines. I’m heading to Spain in September for 2 and half weeks and tried to fit in Ribera del Duero. But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned – it’s better to do less well than to do it all poorly. So, next time for RdD. One of my favourite wines from there is the Balbas Reserva #085183 $20.95. This week it’s the 2005 but I’ve loved almost every vintage since ’01. If you love expressive, leathery, sandalwoody Tempranillo, you’ll love this wine. It’s already showing its stuff but could cellar for another decade. Just think about sharing that 2005 vintage in 2025. Sitting at the foot of my bed in the old folks home, my teeth in a bedside glass, paired with pureed pork, instant mashed, and canned fruit cocktail. Yum.

I like Sancerre.
Blogger Aside: You ever notice how wines from Europe seldom tell you what kind of grapes are in them. When in North America, the name of the varietal is almost always on the label front and centre. I like the cryptic quality of those Euro labels as do many oenophiles. It’s neat to have a label that you need WSET Level 3 to understand. It separates the ‘real’ wine drinkers from the wannabes. Kidding. Actually, the reason I like it is that it’s more specific. The DO, DOCG, and AOC in the case of French wines, prescribe fairly strict rules about what grapes can be used where and even many of the agricultural and cellar techniques allowed.

attitudeWhere was I going? Oh yeah, I quite like Sancerre. Outside of white Burgundy, it strikes me as the most sophisticated white wine. Now, don’t everyone send in their choice for the most sophisticated white wine. Save it for your own blog. Sancerre is from the Loire Valley and is made with Sauvignon Blanc – although not mentioned on the label. And, the ‘go to’ Sancerre for me is Jolivet’s – readily available and reasonably priced. This week, there’s one of his less typical Sauvignon Blancs – the 2014 Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauvignon Blanc #971887 $19.95 is not strictly a Sancerre although from the Loire. And, I’m not sure that you could mistake it for one. It’s brasher with a Jimmy Durante nose – large and expressive. As youthful as this is, you might think that those smells aren’t evident in the mouth. You’d be wrong. They are all over your mouth – gooseberries, grapefruit. This is not for you if you prefer the more subdued Sancerre approach. Do I like it? Love it! Take this to a party where New Zealand whites are a fave and I bet people pause with this in the glass; not quite sure what it is. Could it be Kiwi? Probably not – a soupçon de je ne c’est pas? Try this and let me know what you think.

ornelloI mentioned above my trip to Ann Arbor and The Winegetter. I brought them a couple of reds. I later discovered that Oliver’s weakness in reds is Sangiovese. I had brought him much heavier wines. Great heavier wines – but still not the same style at all. If I had paid attention to his writings a bit more, I would have brought him something akin to the 2010 Rocco di Frassinello Ornello #412601 $37.95. This is a sweet red – as in suweeeet!. It’s a bit riper than many traditional Sangiovese wines, I find out it is made with Sangioveto (40%), Cab Sav (20%), Merlot (20%), and Syrah (20%). OK, before you run to whatever reference source you use in your little wine world, Sangioveto is obfiscation-speak for Sangiovese. I know this because it says so on the internet. A truly lovely smooth, lipsmacking red. All elements tied together until the finish when the acidity that I, for one, love provides a little extra kick. I’m positive that Oliver would love it too.


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.


Peace, It’s Far Out* – The Red Daily Slosh

24 Sep


*And far far away.

No video today. I’m kind of bummed out by all the hostilities, refugees, insurgencies, attack drones, and “Boots On The Ground” blabber these days. The upside? The depression makes the wine drinking seem more….well….justified. The news never changes and that’s just the stuff that’s happening far away! So, to reflect my angst, I looked for a protest song video of relevance but they were all from my youth. Here’s the thing: with this world immersed in a never ending cycle of tribal conflicts, proliferation of weapons, and inequality enough to disadvantage all but a few, I am puzzled that the protest song or actual protest, for that matter, is dead (apologies to Ferguson). I was very fortunately born into a politically curious and active family. And I was an idealistic Canadian boomer that had college friends that were Vietnam draft dodgers and deserters (and, I’m not trying to stir anything up here), I marched arm in arm with them on Parliament Hill, signs in hand – Peace Now/La Paix Maintenant! Not sure what we were trying to accomplish – it wasn’t our war and the House of Commons was probably out of session that year. But, we were pissed about it anyway. It was so hard to comprehend – the mission and the loss of life that is. Admittedly, we were naive. Fast forward to today. I don’t see any broad swell of indignation on the part of today’s youth concerning what’s going on. Don’t give the world Taylor Swift boyfriend put down songs and LOL’s, FCOL. Mobilize – make us old white guys uncomfortable (don’t threaten my meager savings for retirement, though). March on a street near you. Get involved in the issues on any side! I’d even listen to a hip-hop version of Eve of Destruction! That’s how badly I want to see some engagement. If there indeed are protest songs and I’ve just missed those engaged youth, let me know. I’d be thrilled to be wrong. So, short story long, that’s why no video. Phew, now on to the wine.

These recommendations are for the new release of September 27.

balbasI won’t go into too much detail – GET A BUNCH OF 2001 Balbas Reserva #085183 $20.95. My past reviews of this wine – a Ribera del Deuro beaut – are here and here



A few months ago, I recommended this Niagara blend and got good feedback. Well, that was the 2010 and there’s been some shelf space allotted for 2011 Creekside Laura’s Red #117960 $19.95. As I mentioned last time, Creekside has a nice vibe at the

laurascellar door. They identify themselves as having a bit of an attitude. They might have been the first in Niagara to provide nibbles with their sips. And great nibbles at that. This blend includes shiraz/syrah which isn’t plentiful in Ontario. In my experience, it’s best done around Beamsville (the Creekside Shiraz and Flat Rock’s Rogue comes to mind) with the exception of Lailey’s NOTL versions. Well, this wine is very similar to the 2010 – I’d say a bit richer in the fruit department than 2010 but the same style – friendly, accessible, and spicy. Loads of smoky goodness. My friend, Grant, loved the last vintage and will likewise appreciate this local effort.

haroWe are starting to plan a trip to Spain this weekend. And, even though I’ve mentioned the Balbas up top, I need to show Spain more love. A few posts ago, I mentioned a great Rioja value – 2008 Lopez de Haro Crianza. See, how it works in Rioja is like this – there’s the Crianza – the bulk of most bodegas’ offering – made from good but not exceptional grapes and aged a shorter time in wood and bottle. Reserva – from better grapes, more highly regarded vineyards and aged longer in wood and bottle before release, and Gran Reserva —-you get the point. There is a progression in quality. At least there should be some integrity within a single producer. Now we have the – 2005 Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva #337355 $18.95. I mentioned that the crianza was a great value. And, if the system works, this should represent a more balanced, complete wine. It does! This is my kind of Rioja – cedary in the glass and the mouth, great acidity on the first sip that kind of eases off after that. Some dirt and grit from the land. Perfect red for my favourite Spanish meal – paella. And, only $18.95!

ventisqueroWhere do the best value reds reside? Chile, man. Yes, Chile has kept their pricing in the range of most wine consumers unlike some of the past bargain centres (Australia, California come to mind). This week, there’s another carmenère – 2011 Ventisquero Grey Single Block Carmenère #325415 $19.95. This wine brings the distinct darkness and full-body that I like. It might not be as tannic as many of these can be, which I think you’ll appreciate. Stand around is allowed but food would really help this wine shine. I posted my theory of carmenère and archaeologists in a previous post.

A wine that I’ll probably pick up but haven’t had this vintage:

Any self respecting California winehound (with resources) has enjoyed a bottle of Caymus. For me, Caymus Special Selection was the first over-priced California cab that I had and, wow, it was a bit of a revelation. It had more complexity and, well how to put it in my early wine description phase, ‘flavour’ than anycaymus red wine I had had to that date. And, since I couldn’t afford the Special Selection ($219), I settled for the regular bottling – which is almost always a solid cab. Well, this week our local favourite wine store (read: only wine store) has the 2012 Caymus 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon #222877 $68.95. This wine has introduced many more than this poor scribe into the financially unfortunate habit of buying what all but the 1% would judge as expensive wine. Why not let it do the same for you? Plus, when you’re done, you could put a candle in the empty bottle and use as a centre piece – great conversation starter – “How we spent $70 on a bottle of wine and luvved it, baby.”

And on the slagging of all youth, I hope that I’m wrong and you’ll send in your experiences and protest songs through the comment box below. And, ‘Working In a Coal Mine’ and ‘Car Wash’ don’t count regardless of how hard it was. FYI as a poor student, I worked at a car wash – talkin’ about the car wash, yeah. And, since you’ll want to know, indeed those cars never seemed to stop coming.

Images courtesy of:

All bottle images – http://www.vintages.com

Peace sign – http://www.clipartpanda.com

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