Tag Archives: Beaujolais

Smokey and The Red Daily Slosh

19 Feb

Born this day in 1940 – Smoky Robinson.

The February 21st release is trumpeting the 2012 vintage in Australia – “The Best Vintage in 20 Years”, they say. The thing is that just because the vintage is a good one generally, there are a lot of other factors that also determine the quality of a wine. What’s a poor soul to do with this information? Just drink the Kool-Aid and buy up a bunch of 2012 Aussie wine? Or, tramp the back roads of unpronounceable Australian regions, speaking with winemakers, tasting each and every wine to find that one $18 beaut for dinner with the in-laws? Actually sounds like fun. But, no, we don’t have to do that.

My strategy is to think back to wines that I’ve loved from the region and seek them out in that ‘vintage of the century’. Why not stick with what you love? Plus, you can actually taste the difference that vintage makes – apples to apples, year after year.

I have to say that I’m disappointed that the mother ship didn’t include some Coonawarra cab in the release as some of those are my Aussie Montelenas. Oh well, something to look forward to.

stonedwellersI have only tasted one of the featured Australian wines. Good news? The one I had was a very positive experience. The 2012 Fowle’s Stone Dweller’s Shiraz #265967 $19.95 is a regular fixture on the shelves in most vintages. Or so it seems. This is a typical Aussie Shiraz weight-wise – full-bodied and expressive. Big but not braggy – balanced for it’s size. I have to say that the thing I like best about Aussie Shiraz is the unabashed spiciness. This one carries the peppery stuff I love – can even detect a bunch on the nose. On the finish – all spice, fruit, and nice. Highly recommended.

New Zealand makes more reds than just Pinot Noir. I picked up a Sileni Hawk’s Bay Merlot the other day as it was being discontinued – a reasonable representation of Merlot but a bit thin. cjpaskThis week, there’s a red blend that I think deserves a buy recommendation – the 2010 CJ Pask Gimlett Road Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec #279869 $19.95. This is a well balanced mid-weight red. I see this as a food wine but also a good stand around red. Use of the Malbec seems to ramp up the weight and colour. Where the Sileni was a bit washed out, this is fuller and weightier. Nice wine.

I’ve heard people say, “I can’t afford to drink French wine”. Aside from the generalization of French wines as all the same, it’s just plain bullshit. I say, “You can’t afford not to drink French wines.” French, Italian, German, and Spanish wine is what wine was meant to be. That doesn’t mean New World doesn’t make great wine. It just means for me that there’s something comforting in a French, Spanish or Italian wine, if it’s made well. I plead guilty to not drinking enough German wines. This week, the 2013 Domaine de la Madone Perréon Beaujolais-Villages #981175 $14.95 proves that French wine doesn’t have to be at least $30 to be good. This is a solid, incredibly easy-drinking, true-to-varietal wine. Everyone should drink Beaujolais. It’s purity of fruit, as in this example, is a refreshing break from the over-oaked, tricked up wines that we all secretly love. A confessional aside: tricked up wines remind me of guilty pleasure music. You can tell everyone that you don’t like ABBA (I don’t) but when Dancing Queen comes on the radio and you’re alone in the car, admit it, you’re conflicted – turn the channel and maintain your cred or just give in, smile, and sing along. It’s like Paul or John. It’s all good, really. Back to the Beaujolais – this wine isn’t quite as simple as I’ve portrayed the regional style. Although this is light-bodied and easy-going, it has a nice vein of acidity and enough tannin folded in to tell you that it would like some food. Think of sitting outside (in your down-filled parka?) in the sun with some mid-day stuff to eat. Maybe some salty olives and seafood. Oh yeah, and bread – lots of bread. Perfect wine for that. Great value. You can’t afford not to drink this French wine!

On the same theme, French wine that is, the 2011 Gerard Bertrand Saint-Chinian Syrah/Mourvedre #370247 $18.95 is a big, lip-smacking red beauty. Do I have a blind spot? Yup, well made red blends from the South of France. Let me put it this way (cue George Winston):

I swirl, sniff – sun-baked schist and lavender explode


I sip – I am warmed under a duvet of red fruit, tangled underbrush, and stone


Straining against the urge to stir and re-fill my glass

I sit back and smile


gerardbscDuff does poetry? Of course, I’m not just a pretty face. This wine? Well, it delivers on that verse. Scents of big red fruit, anise, repeating in the mouth with lip-smackingness, wrapped up with a nice medium long finish. Good heft, full-bodied food wine. Perfect with some grilled stuff. Luv this! Gerard Bertrand is a cool guy with a great winery base, Château L’Hospitalet – that doubles as wine tourism – accommodations, food, jazz festival. Keep a look out for his labels.



Don’t Mess With The Rhone – The Red Daily Slosh

20 Jun

A good theme song for Duffs Wines? The Marvelettes don’t exactly drop it like it’s hot but they are seriously bustin’ some moves. And, despite the comments inserted, the Supremes are not my favourite group.

These recommendations are for the June 21st release.

Can we talk? A friend asked me the other day what my favourite wine was. And, before I could answer, he said, “It’s Southern Rhone red, isn’t it?” I had to think about it. I don’t think it is. I mean I recommend an awfully lot of them. They can be a shade cheaper than other good European wines. They are readily available at the mother ship. They can fit almost any occasion. Grenache and Syrah are two of my favourite things (cue: Julie Andrews). Maybe they are my “Go To” wines. But, I love just about all wine. I’ll have to think some more on it. What are your favourites? And I mean, what do you reach for the most?

lfdmWell, since we’re waxing about reds from the Southern Rhone, let’s talk about a repeat recommendation – 2011 La Ferme du Mont Le Ponnant Côtes du Rhone-Villages #171371 $19.95. Our monopoly must have bought a tonne of this as it was offered previously with good availability. This wine is a seriously good CdR . It is medium-bodied but has a very powerful aroma after a swish or two – not as shrubby and garriguey as some other CdR’s – but dark and fruity. My previous post (June 21/13) on this wine says that it’s serious. Not serious as in dealing with the global financial implications of destabilization in Iraq. But, serious as in ambitious, full-flavoured, and structured. Some nice lip-smacking acidity for food friendliness and enough tannins to match serious food. I’m getting a few for the cottage BBQ. It was only $17.00 last June. But, don’t let that dissuade you. It’s still good QPR.

pondviewcmA while ago, I wrote a piece on Pondview Estate Winery. I was impressed with their reds, and in particular, the premium Bella Terra line. But, there is a ‘reserve’ level too. Now, as far as I can tell, there are no hard and fast industry rules in Ontario around the use of the term ‘reserve’. Correct me, if I’m wrong but a quick look at other Ontario labels leads me to believe it means for most wineries a step above their entry-level products – priced accordingly. This weekend the 2011 Pondview Cabernet/Merlot Reserve #307561 $18.95 reappears at the LCBO. This winery sits in the Four Mile Creek appellation which, with Bordeuax grapes such as these, usually shows a riper, more fruit dominant profile. Not sure why it’s not labeled as from Four Mile Creek unless there are non-estate grapes being used. Regardless, this wine is excessively drinkable by itself or with some burnt meat. Cherry, darker berries balanced nicely with evident tannins and a hint of smokey cedar. If your thing is California cabernet, give this a try. It’s regularly $22.95 – so maybe limited availability at $18.95.

csmsyrahIf you play along at home, you’ll know that I’m partial to Washington wines – Syrah, Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Riesling mostly. They provide good value and I tend to like them – Charles Smith, Dunham Cellars, Columbia Crest, Canoe Ridge, et al. I guess I don’t have to defend it – I just like them most times. I shill for Chateau Ste. Michelle a bit too as it’s one of the producers that we have good access to in our market. I know they are one of the ‘big’ guys but I think they do an honest job with their products. I recommended their chardonnay last time out. This week there’s a great summer wine of theirs – 2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Syrah #949651 $17.00. I detect very little of the spiciness that syrah can bring. But, there’s a lot of fresh fruit, earthy herbal stuff with balanced acidity and tannins (tannins perhaps subdued after a couple years in bottle). It’s drinking well right this minute. Give this a try if you like Aussie shiraz but sometimes find it a bit too over the top – and it’s warmer weather now so you want a lighter experience. This would be the one.

Haven’t had but drawing interest:

morgonWarmer weather suggests Beaujolais to me. Beaujolais and baseball. Another thing – why no wine at the Blue Jays games? “Get your Chatty Nuf dee Pap heeeeere.” Just sayin’. This week there’s a promising Morgon – 2012 Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorées Morgon #264465 $23.95. The label is different from their Cotes de Brouilly Beaujolais, which I don’t get when that one is so distinctive. But, perhaps their crack marketing team thought that an unexpressive and boring label could best capture the imagination of Beaujolais lovers by blending in with every other label on the shelf. Regardless, the previous vintage was a very structured, bigger then ‘just Beaujolais’ Beaujolais. I liked that it had some backbone, some cellaring potential too. Some describe Morgon as a ‘masculine Beau’. I’d have to agree. I’d think a great cottage/patio and appetizer wine. I’m getting a few for next month.

Just a tip: if it’s hot outside or inside, it’s not a bad idea to chill red wines so they aren’t 30 degrees Celsius when they’re poured. That’s not what’s meant by ‘room temperature’. What I like to do but forget most times is leave these reds in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes before serving. I’m sure there are wine expert approved comprehensive charts on the web that would be a great help. But, without getting too complicated, I’m just suggesting that you try and get a bit of the heat off the bottle before serving, particularly during the dog days of summer.



Front-On, Dude – The Red Daily Slosh

13 Feb

This is for the February 15 release.

barI read a bunch of bloggers (actually a ‘barrel’ of bloggers is the proper term when they write stuff about wine) that do a great job of educating readers on the world of wine. I’ve been at this ‘real’ blog thing for a year and a bit after three years of a newsletter, and the penny just dropped – I recommend wines, ramble about stuff, but it is frequently the same stuff nothing new or educational. I know this because I did a statistical analysis of my recommendations, collated the wine tasting terms used to describe these wines, and applied an algorithm to evaluate the variability of wines and their characteristics. These were further divided into quadrants that represented sixteen different experiences and price points. The graphic analysis is below. OK, I couldn’t copy the chart from my Excel worksheet. But if it was below you’d notice that I have never used the term unctuous.

cytcarmenereSo, let’s start the Red Daily Slosh with a repeat recommendation (that didn’t last long, did it?). Technically, it isn’t a true repeat because it was a different vintage before but…. Anyway, it’s the 2011 Concha y Toro Winemaker’s Lot 148 Carmenère #030957 $18.95. They say that this is an Ontario market-only bottling. Don’t get too excited because they just call it something else elsewhere, I’m betting. What’s carmenère? An opera whose title is the victim of a fat-fingered typist? No. Actually, it is a traditional Bordeaux grape that they don’t use much, if at all, anymore in Bordeaux blends. It migrated to Chile and other regions where it was thought to be merlot (Chile) or cabernet franc (Italy). Interestingly, the mistaken identity came to light when it appeared on an episode of Maury Povich (Who’s The Father of My Baby, Merlot?), had a DNA test, and found out it was, wait for it………………gasp, carmenère! It’s Chile’s answer to Argentina’s malbec in that it is arguably done best and definitely most frequently in Chile. Usually medium to full-bodied, dark, and yummy. Cheaper versions can be a bit sweet and creamy a la cheap malbec but good ones are chewy, edgy and great burnt meat wines. The Concha y Toro above is the latter – the full-bodied and yummy one. It’s syrah-like spicy, dense but some edge to make it feel less ‘heavy’ and has some bush on the nose and in the mouth – woodiness. Love it. Tannins are smoothing out nicely. I think that, if you’ve never had carmenère, this would be a great place to start. If you have had it, do it all over again with this wine from the most complete winery in Chile.

charvetI’d like Spring, please. Yes, it’s a bit of a bugger here with temperatures in the minus 20 Celsius range many days. And, what will we see on the shelves this weekend but a Beaujolais. Wait, isn’t Beaujolais a better warm weather red? Well, it can be but this is maybe more a shoulder season Beaujolais. More substantial and serious. The perfect wine as we wait out the shitty weather. The 2012 Domaine Gérard Charvet La Réserve d’Amélie Moulin-à-Vent #356741 $20.00 would be a bit expensive for a common Beaujolais. But, this one is worth the splurge, IMHO. This is strawberries and even some darker fruits on the sniff – pure and straight forward in the mouth but I don’t mean one-dimensional; rather purposeful – it sneaks up on you on the second swallow and the second glass is even better, duh. Make sure it isn’t too warm – basement temp is best. I’ve recommended a bunch of Beaujolais (mostly for Grant) and love the Cru Beaujolais. Moulin-a-Vent is my favourite. Hurray for Beaujolais! Spring can’t be too far away.

gamayAnd while we’re sipping on gamay why not try one of the better versions of this grape from Ontario. The 2012 Malivoire Gamay #591313 $17.95 is always good value but this year it is a bit deeper with darker fruit than usual. Not sure if they allowed the grapes to ripen more or it just worked out that way given the vintage. This would be a good gamay-off with the Beaujolais above. This one a bit lighter. Buy them both and re-familiarize yourself with the two faces of gamay. I really appreciate the consistency of Malivoire at all their price points. I had this at the cellar door and I encourage you, if you’re down that way to make Malivoire one of your stops.

foretThere’s a club that I’ve mentioned before called the Wine Century Club. It requires that you drink wines that represent 100 different grape varieties. This week there’s a grape that I haven’t knowingly had – negrette and I think it might be my first catalogued wine for WCC sainthood. The negrette grape is mostly found in southwestern France – this one is from AC Fronton (hence the title) 2010 Chateau Bellevue la Forét #354134 $13.95 . They say it’s “hearty old-school”, brambly, and goes with an Olivier salad. I think that they have confused me with someone who knows what an Oliver salad really is. We’ll see. Try one with me and we’ll compare notes.

That’s all that I have any positive perspective on for the weekend.

Music accompaniment – Last time I included a video of Cream and a friend wondered why I made the Eric Clapton reference in the lead up, because he didn’t recognize Eric in the video. Why not? He’s the old worn out crooner isn’t he? Nope, he’s like 18! So, I’ve included one this time of Cream and an iconic song, again – Eric is in the red. He’s not Eric The Red but wearing the red Sergeant Pepper knock off.

Barrel picture from wikipedia

Way Too Early Holiday Edition 3 – The Red Daily Slosh

20 Nov

bubleCouldn’t resist another carol of dubious quality – schmaltzy – pretty marginal. But, he’s Canadian, eh? Listen here. If you have any requests or favs, let me know. If there aren’t any, you will be subjected to the Queen of Soul, if I can find one.

This release (November 23) is full of very pricey wines. I’ve spoken about a few of them this week. There are names from California – Dunn and Pahlmeyer. From France – Beaucastel and Dom Perignon. From Italy – Solaia and Guado al Tasso. It goes on and on.

But, how would any of them qualify for “daily” sloshes? Don’t think so, unless you are………..Jay Z or ……(insert rich person’s name here).

So we charge on and we are not daunted. This week there are a number of great value reds.

toasted headToasted Head could be populist politicians – they cater to what people want – gasp, what’s with that? Not like Rob Ford or, and let me see if I’m getting this guy – Ted Cruz – but more responsible and less slutty. But, forgive me as i was in a drunken stupor when i wrote this – I am very, very, very sorry. I don’t know what else I can do. Back to Toasted Head – their house style hits all the marks and is what can best be described as a crowd-pleaser. Now, I’m not trying to be pejorative – pleasing crowds is a very good thing. We get the chardonnay all the time – it’s a lock. The 2011 Toasted Head Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon #686824 $19.95 is similar in appeal. It’s smooth, balanced and jammy loveliness. Now, there are cheaper cabernet sauvignons out there, for sure. I like the Raymond entry level cabernet which is a buck cheaper and the Beringer cheapies are fine too. But, for sheer nerve and certainty – get this one.

kaikenmalbecLast time out I recommended the Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon. Well, this week there’s its cousin the 2010 Kaiken Ultra Malbec #050849 $19.95. If you picked up and tried the cab from last time, you’ll know that this line is a step up from the everyday that we scoop up for lots less. The Ultra malbec is dark in the glass – dense, smelling of black fruit and, let me swirl here, it has a hint of wood – not so much oak as cedar maybe? The flavours follow the nose pretty closely – it’s full-bodied with great mouthfeel which means to me that it’s balanced – long finish. A very good malbec. Yes, I think I need more. Maybe enough for over the holidays. Stand around with meat dishes (lean beef) or while typing your blog. Verrrrrry nice.

balbomalbecBe still my heart. What do we have this week but my girlfriend, Susana Balbo putting in an appearance? The 2011 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec #079798 $19.95 is a wine that deserves your undivided attention. With the one above, they may be the best malbecs under $20 this year IMHO (and we are at the end of the year, folks). Now, you can get good malbec for $14.00. I read the other day that we are not drinking the amount of malbec that we used to due to the Fuzion fall off (Quiet Cheer!). What a beautiful wine this is. It has earthy aromas and, in the mouth, more acidity, tannin and juiciness than the one above – not harsh but there’s some structure there for sure. It could cellar for a few years but I’m not waiting. I’ll just let it sit for awhile after opening and hope for the best. Naughty, dark, and juicy. Catherine Zeta Jones? No, she’s in rehab. Anyone with a suggestion? Buehler?

aldianoAnd, while we’re on tangy, juicy and dark, the 2009 Aldiano Riserva Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #051706 $18.95 appears. This is what Italian country-side wine is all about – food friendly, refreshing. Smells of leather and the country-side itself, if you try hard enough. The fruit is black and sheathed in acid, some tannin and a medium finish. Lovely with tomato anything – maybe tomatoes (having their own acid) with some fatty cheese – a Caprese salad? Pretend you’re sitting on a piazza watching the plebes and tourists (oh yeah, we are tourists ourselves). Now a caveat – I read other reviewers and CellarTracker and people aren’t as “all-in” about this wine as I am. I recommended the 2008 and got some good feedback from you on it. So, I’m assuming that some of you will like it again – like me. Not in, please like me. But, rather, similarly to me. Capice?

scholaWhile you’re on the piazza, spring for a second bottle – the 2009 Schola Sarmenti Roccamora Negroamaro Nardò Rosso #245654 $16.95. I picked a bottle of this up in Lecce. Always wanted to say that. Yes, I did indeed pick up a bottle of this in Lecce. Said it twice now. “Step away from the Kaiken Ultra, Bill, and finish your blog post”. Anyway, I love this wine and am so glad the 2009 is here. It’s our secret and you won’t have to battle crowds trying to pick up a bottle because no one really focuses on Apulian wine, especially negroamaros. Negroamaro means “black bitter” and is the primary grape in Salice Salentino. This wine carries a spice box thing, some tobacco too in the glass. It mellows over a few minutes really and you get to the yumminess. There are red fruits and enough acidity to stand up to real meals – pasta with meat sauce would be perfect. I think that if your ‘go to’ wine is Valpolicella, you need to give this a try. It’s got a bit more heft but similar appeal, I think.

Untasted, good looking buys:

2010 di Majo Norante Contado Riserva Aglianico del Molise #967208 – loved the 2009 – organic product

2008 Moritàvora Tinto #293449 $16.95 – if Portuguese wine is your thang, pick this up.

2011 Château du Chatelard Cuvée les Vieux Granits Fleurie #207886 $20.95 – it’s Beaujolais Nouveau Day tomorrow – so why not pick up a ‘real’ Beaujolais too?

Oh No, It’s Beau – Again – The Red Daily Slosh

21 Jun

descombesAlways with the Beaujolais? Duh, yeah. I love these wines this time of year. And, this one is refreshing, red fruit (strawberries and maybe plum which technically isn’t a red fruit but you’ll forgive me – deep breath) on parade, with some serious fun things to discover on the swallow. That didn’t sound right. I meant that there was some neat complexity delivered after you swallowed this wine – earthy stuff, dark stuff. It’s from George Duboeuf. I may be simply speaking to myself when I say the 2011 Jean Ernest Descombes Morgon #946186 $17.95 is perhaps the ‘must buy’ of this post. I can’t think of a better wine for sitting out back, or if you have no out back, sitting around a table sipping, noshing, and discussing world events – G7 plus 1, Mike Duffy’s expense scandal, the NSA spying on us all (italics indicating whispering), and of course acknowledging that this is the best $17.95 we ever spent or, if you’re me, the best $35.90 we ever spent.

fermedumontSometimes it just feels right to have a serious wine. There can be a number of reasons, including that you just feel like it. Meanin’ no disrespect (in honour of James Gandolfini), matching wine agonies are best left to people with nothing better to do. Like me. You, on the other hand, just want serious flavour and power regardless of the meal. You might reach for a Bordeaux, a California Cabernet, a Brunello, or a 2011 La Ferme du Mont Le Ponnat Côtes du Rhone-Villages #171371 $17.00. The key factor in that last decision is cost. This ‘serious’ effort from a ‘serious’ producer will not set you back a les autres and you can splurge and drink two – which seems acceptable for summer solstice with friends, doesn’t it? This is a grenache-based blend and, if you’ve loved my recommendations on Spanish garnacha and other Côtes du Rhône, you’ll love this. Plus, you probably bought and loved the 2010, another Duffswines reco. Great BBQ wine!

gravillassabletWhile we have our Côtes on, why not get another. I recommended a red from this producer a few weeks ago – enjoyed one the other night and see that I still have a couple left. This time it’s 2011 Le Gravillas Sablet Côtes du Rhône-Villages #078790 $15.95. This is a steal at this price – loads of dark fruits, some spiciness, and some kind of herbal note that I can’t nail – one review I read says tobacco but less chewy than that. Once again, fire up the cue and grill some bison burgers stuffed with gorgonzola and garden fresh herbs with seasoned zucchini florets and Morrocan spice-infused quinoa. OK, just kidding. I had you going for a second though, didn’t I? Regularly garnished, homemade BBQ burgers, grilled portobello mushrooms and chip wagon fries will fit this wine to a ‘T’.

I was recently asked to recommend Niagara wines as a host(ess) gift for someone traveling to NYC. She was spending more than qualifies for a Daily Slosh but it got me thinking of what Niagara wines I always gravitate to. And, since it’s Canada Day next week, take off, eh, and break open one of my earlier Canadian recommendations or pick one of these, in no particular order (sans labels, hoser):

2011 Flat Rock Pinot Noir $19.95 – enough astringency and red fruit to say, “Hey, I’m a pinot, glad to meet you. Enjoy my food friendly personality.”

2010 Malivoire Guilty Men Cab/Merlot $19.95 – Too bad Malivoire stopped selling their Guilty Men Red @ $12.95! It was delish. But, we have to move on and this is a good tonic. By itself, with summer food or heavier fare – it’s versatile and needs a friend.

2011 Megalomaniac Homegrown Red $14.95 – from those clever people at John Howard Cellars of Distinction. And, Arlene tells me they have to be clever because John Howard graduated from Kings College her alma mater. Regardless, this is a great just standing around wine or with the usual suspects at grill time.

Ku, kukukukukukuku!

Put on the David Wilcox, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen…….what too old for you?…..Then, put on the kd Lang, Sarah McLaughlin, Nelly Furtado…..what? Still too old?….Let me think…..ah Drake! And, if you’ve never, check out this guy from Manitoba, I believe, ReignWolf. Love him.

And, yes, it’s soon to be the 4th of July for my friends in the U.S. of A. So, be patriotic and honour (Oops, I mean honor) Robert Mondavi’s would-have-been hundredth birthday the other day with their solid Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon $17.95 .Yes, American friends, I said $17.95! We tax the hell out of alcohol up here! But, we do have universal healthcare to take care of our alcohol related issues.

Malbecs Face Off – Red Daily Slosh

23 May

plandeddieuIf you’ve been playing along at home, you know that I love the reds from the southern Rhone. I love the reds from the northern Rhone too but budgets are budgets and I share a Visa account with Arlene. This week, there’s another great value from the southern Rhone – 2010 La Gravillas Plan de Dieu Côtes du Rhone-Villages #264648 $14.95.  This is a typical Côtes du Rhone. They say ‘meaty’, I say full-bodied and providing a bit of smoke and muscle. This is the perfect backyard grilling wine. If you burn it, they will come. I have been recommending another product from this producer to great acclaim. But, frankly it is a little more expensive and not anymore satisfying than this. If you are a Côtes fan and who isn’t, buy a bunch of these and save for that special occasion – sorting your sock drawer, balancing the cheque book (does anyone out there have a cheque book anymore?), or completing the build of the shed at the cottage (Note to Self: Include personal insights to develop relationships with readers).

lyonnatLast week, a friend shared his last 1999 Château Leoville-Barton with me. It was nothing short of orgasmic (his words). So if I love Bordeaux so much why do I seldom recommend a Bordeaux as Daily Slosh? Why? They are usually too expensive to qualify as ‘daily’ unless you’re an investment banker or baseball player. I also don’t try many reasonably-priced Bordeaux because I fear that I’ll find out that I can get my Bordeaux buzz for $19.95, when I’ve ploughed my children’s inheritance, pitiful as it is, into futures? Well, I took a leap of faith and tasted a Bordeaux priced at $19.95 and it altered my opinion and will impact my approach going forward – more Bordeaux in the Daily Slosh! Maybe it is the age, given it’s a 2006 (a vintage that holds a lot of value compared to the vintage preceding it), but I was pleasantly surprised and excited – the 2006 Château Lyonnat #243774 $19.95 – a well balanced red with softness that makes it a Bordeaux ready to drink now with grilled meats, lamb stews, even barbecue burgers – which is a grilled meat! This is primarily Merlot (according to their web site) and shows you what France does with Merlot that others can’t quite duplicate. If you want to know what the Bordeaux fuss is about, skip the futures and pick this up. It ain’t Chateau Leoville-Barton but…. If you experience a Bordeaux find, please share it with us.

terrazasIt’s been months since we did a Malbec-off. So, drum roll please. In this corner, a favourite at this house wearing an understated label, 2010 Terrazas de Los Andes Reserva #029280 $17.95. This is nothing if not consistently hot and stylish. By that I mean the wine has some alcohol front and centre and isn’t shameless like many other malbecs – you know the ones – all flabby and dripping in their vanilla, boasting fruit with little structure or food friendliness. This has a vein of acid and tannins that gives it an Old(er) World feel for me. I like it a lot. Traditional Argentinean meaty fare would be great with this.

chakanaIn the other corner, in the black label with a hieroglyphic-styled depiction of God-knows-what is the 2011 Chakana Estate Selection Malbec #219261 #19.95. Where the opponent stands tall and hits with fruit and power, the Chakana bobs and weaves about the ring – lighter on it’s feet. That doesn’t mean that the Chakana is without definition or punch (yes the metaphor continues). It’s just bringing more finesse, maturity and subtlety to the ring. This could be a stand around wine; your company saying, “Where did you get this?” “You are brilliant.”

Daily Slosh Reflections – I’ve been re-introduced to some of my past recommendations lately. Taken a second swig, as it were. I want to mention my second take on the 2011 Domaine des Marrans Fleurie #324897 $19.95. I spoke about this great example of a cru Beaujolais a few weeks back. It’s bursting with fruit and still bringing more other stuff (complexity, the herbs of the region, I guess) to your experience. Perfect backyard wine. Love it still. And, if you click on the link, I believe you’ll find that there’s still some out there, Grant.marrans

A Beau For The Patti-eau – Red Daily Slosh

8 May

DomainedechampA friend mentioned to me that he liked the grape, gamay. He wasn’t sure where he’d find it unless it screamed GAMAY on the label, as in New World (Ontario) gamay. I told him about Beaujolais where they use gamay to make ready-to-drink, low tannin, fruity reds with loads of flavour and personality. Then there’s Beaujolais with ‘cru’ status. ‘Cru’ usually means to me old-style Beaujolais with a more expressive flavour – ‘cru’ villages include Fleurie, Moulin-a-Vent, Morgon, Julienas, Chenas, Chiroubles, Regnie, Brouilly, and Cote de Brouilly. One of these villages will be in the name. Perhaps my favourite ‘cru’ (No, not RunDMC) is Moulin-a-Vent because it can age a bit longer, has a bit more spunk than some of the others. Morgon is also good for that IMHO. This week, 2010 Mommessin Domaine de Champ de Cour Moulin-a-Vent #430876 $17.95 arrives. It’s had a couple years in bottle to find itself, understand its mission and is prepared to deliver. It comes complete with cherries, a great hit of acid, and a food-worthiness that tells me that I need an arugula salad with seared tuna (and Madelyn Peyroux playing on the iPod). Wait: I just found out the other day that tuna is frequently unsustainably farmed/caught (not sure what the proper term is) – so substitute prawns. A review from Wine Enthusiast says this wine has a pinot noir-ness but I didn’t get that. I know these wines over time can develop that, so I stand to stand corrected (the reviewer is the professional), let me know if you detect that character. I mentioned the patio last time out in connection with white wines. Well red wine drinkers get to sit on the patio too. This wine might be the choice.

balbasSome time ago, so long ago I’m afraid to admit to it, I mean Sherman would need to set the Wayback Machine – that long ago, I bought a few bottles of my first Ribera del Duero red wine. I was blown away with the complexity, the food-worthiness, and the blast of Spain that came through when I swirled. Well I see that there’s one on shelves in a nicely aged version. Our mothership says that it’s half the US price and I would tend to believe them (this time only). But, this means that it is probably in scarce supply – so if you’re considering, make sure you click on the link to check where they have it and call ahead to stash a couple or make sure you arrive late Friday evening or very early Saturday before the uneducated hoards. The wine – 2001 Balbas Reserva #085183 $20.95. With wine, there are things that you just can’t get under $22. This one is the exception to the rule. You get it all. Perfect for Spanish wine lovers like CM and EL! Tobacco, cedar and loads o’ love. Apologies to my non-Ontario readers – I tried to locate a supplier for this producer in the US but my Google came up empty. Which sounds a bit Austin Powers, doesn’t it?

monasterioAnother Spanish wine that comes at a great price is the 2006 San José de Aguarón Monasterio de Las Viñas Reserva #166579 $14.95. What a neat name for those of us who don’t speak Spanish! Just trying to say it with the proper accent makes me thirsty. I will have to work at it though for my trip to Spain next year – that is the language, not the thirst quenching. This is a wine that’s ready right now, after time in wood and bottle. Smooth, reflecting the garnacha, and bringing lots of spicy characteristics. Buy a case!

CatenacsI know that you always see the Catena name in the Argentina aisle and you say, “Now is that the Catena that I had last time?“ Their labels are all so similar, it seems to me. You don’t see the Catena name, you say? No, you just think you don’t see it. This week, the 2010 Catena Cabernet Sauvignon #985002 $19.95 is back on shelves. These guys make some of the best Argentinean wines on the basis of value and pleasure. I love their Alta brand cabernet sauvignon, particularly. This one isn’t clearly New World to me but not totally Old World either. It’s Old World in the glass but maybe less so in your mouth and at the swallow. It has plenty of structure as in tannins, balanced, medium-bodied and, if you let it sit or decant, you’ll get some cool darker fruits and leathery accents. Drink with the usual cab suspects – burnt meat and/or grilled marinated portobellos (shout out to the vegetarians).

Try It You’ll Like It – Red Daily Slosh

9 Apr

eastonlabelThe zinfandel tasting that I went to this time last year had a remarkable Easton Estate Zinfandel from 2006, I believe. It was full of interest and, despite the fact that we had already sipped, swished, and spit or swallowed too many zinfandels (when I say “too many”, that’s a lot of zinfandel), this one captured our attention. I’ve subsequently had their 2000 Estate Bottled Zinfandel which is widely available and overflowing with coffee, chocolate and alcohol. This week, the 2010 Easton Zinfandel #328377 $22.95, their entry level zinfandel, arrives. It isn’t nearly the fun that their estate bottlings are but bears some of the same house style characteristics. Spicy, structured and mouth-watering. It could even take a few years in the basement or closet. As summer (AKA grilling season) approaches, you need to stock up with zinfandels anyway, so this is a start.

KimCrawPNKim Crawford wines are featured this week at the mothership. We’ve all had them. Probably the sauvignon blanc, in particular – pretty dependable, depending on vintage. The 2012 Kim Crawford Pinot Noir #626390 $19.95 is one of those. Dependable Kim Crawford wines, that is. I’ve served this (an earlier vintage) at a New Zealand wine tasting and people weren’t prepared for the tang that this wine can hold. It’s a good tang. It’s a pinot noir tang. And, if that’s your……tang, you should pick this up. Loads of red fruits and a little smokiness too. It’s pretty fresh and could use some time in bottle or swishing violently in your glass. Leaving it for a year or two would soften the wine for sure.

There was a great discussion on a blog that I follow www.savorencyclopedia.wordpress.com about New World versus Old World wines. Sometimes readers take my advice (which never ceases to amaze me) and try Old World wines when they’ve been swilling New World Aussie shiraz, California cabs, and Fuzion since they were babies. These readers sometimes tell me that they can’t see what the big deal is with, say, Italian wines because they are too ‘sour’. It makes ‘em pucker. Well, embrace the pucker! Let it dissipate (“thaw, melt and resolve itself in to a dew” – apologies to Bill Shakespeare) and taste villa cafaggiothe fruit that these wonderful reds offer – Bonus Track – you get all the musty, floral/herabally, earthy, cedary stuff too. Wait, there’s more. You get the feeling that you’re actually there – in Italy – sitting outside overlooking a piazza, Monica Bellucci pushing a flower cart, an older woman in black with a sack of fresh baked baguettes on her shoulders (they smell fantastic – the baguettes that is), two older men playing chess at a café table, did I mention Monica Bellucci? All this as lead up to a Try-It-You’ll-Like-It red from the Old World – 2009 Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico #176776 $19.95. This wine is medium bodied with some good smack but not too much. It has loads of personality in the way of sangiovese red fruit (cherry?) and some essence of the spice that I like in the Chiantis I love the most. Go ahead, try it, you’ll like it.

marransI feel that Beaujolais is a bit under appreciated. How many times do you hear anyone say, “Back up the Beaujolais truck and unload a case or two.” Never. Is it the memories of Beaujolais Nouveau past? Is the name too silly sounding; reminding you of a French Foreign Legion flick? (Note: Shout out to anyone who gets that last line) Is it because it isn’t pursued and analyzed to death by the wine cognoscenti? What’s not to like with a food friendly wine that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? This week 2011 Domaine des Marrans Fleurie #324897 $19.95 hits the shelves. Fleurie is usually the freshest of Beaujolais for me – maybe a bit lighter but still packin’. This one should be chilled a bit – maybe 15 minutes in the fridge to release all the good stuff. Serve with a whole lot of sunshine, a patio, and friends.

There’s a promotion of Portuguese wines this weekend. So, I have to mention something Portuguese. There are a bunch to try and fortunately (for me) I had tasted one and this is it. The 2009 Quinto do Portal Frontaria #324533 $13.95 is a fairly complex wine for the price point. This definitely has the Old World feel to it for me but rounder (not sure if we all mean the same thing when we say round – save that discussion for another time – I guess I mean that it doesn’t start with tannin or acid – so, not sharp in my mouth), a little oak, and some backbone despite the lack of attacking tannins. I like it a lot.

cusumanoOne last Old World red – 2008 Cusumano Noà #109512 $18.95. This red comes from Sicily. Little known fact – Sicily is Italy’s largest wine region and in most years produces the most wine of any region in Italy (courtesy of Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible if you don’t already you really should own this book). This wine is a blend that includes Nero d’Avola, a grape that I mostly associate with Sicily – maybe because most red Sicilian wines that we get here include this grape. When I’ve recommended a wine from this grape in the past, those that take me up on it (fools that they are) are enthusiastic in their praise for the wine – and send me expensive gifts by way of appreciation. Take me up on this one too. It’s not shy and brings lots of spice and earthiness. So, comparing to the Chianti above, it’s got more of a New World presence with an Old World pedigree. I am getting a bunch of this for BBQ’s at the lake. Who’s betting that they don’t last until summer?

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