Tag Archives: Beronia Reserva

Reflections on Rod, Humour, and Social Media in Wine

10 Jun

Yes, that’s Diana Ross before Michael stood in for her.

I’ve been doing this ‘real’ wine blog for 115 posts plus and it’s time to reflect on the journey – what I know now. I accept that its a bit self-indulgent on my part but it’s my blog.

I started this public wine schtick about 8 years ago, when I led wine tastings for friends and colleagues. Then I started writing an email to a few friends about what they might want to pick up from the bi-weekly LCBO releases. It grew to an email to a hundred and fifty people when I thought that I’d better grow and that’s when I started this blog.

What I’ve learned:

§   #1 – There is a youuuge community of people a lot like me; that love wine and write about that love. These communitypeople know a lot about wine, want to learn more about wine, and are great at sharing their experiences. I never imagined that there was a group of people that I’d fit in with (sniffle, sniffle). This community has been incredibly important to me as I trundle onward. Encouraging, educating, correcting, and challenging me as I go. I’ve altered my blogroll on the right banner to better reflect those folks. I owe a lot to these people. It would be great if those following me also read their posts as you’ll learn a lot, have a few laughs, and meet some new wines, wine stories and some great people from all over the world.

§   #2 – My sense of humour is an acquired taste. As I write each post I just free-wheel and then edit accordingly. Here’s the problem: I break me up. I mean, if you know me, I am the person that enjoys my humour the absolute most. It’s not an endearing trait, I’m told. The phrase I frequently hear is, “I don’t find that funny at all, Bill.” So, I have to take out much of what I think is incredibly hilarious because : 1) people won’t find it funny, because it may not be; 2) people will think that I’m not really serious about wine and, paradoxically, I’m serious about absolutely everything in life; and, 3) so that people won’t be put off and will read down to the bottom – where, it just so happens, there’s a pretty funny bit. I think that wine should be fun unless it’s your business and even then maybe a bit. So I’ll try and focus the silliness and get a little more serious. No, on second thought, I’m not doing that because ………. well, I break me up too much.

§   #3 – There is a lot I don’t know about wine – may never know – particularly within the professional ‘wine education’ paradigm. Like in a previous #MWWC – wine is a mystery to me. I’ve tried to learn sans Google on my wine journey. It means reading those aforementioned bloggers. It writer cartoonalso means reading lots of books, magazines and, most importantly, drinking a lot. I love it all more than when I started – the drinking of the wine the most. Despite my gaps in knowledge, I don’t think that I’ll take a a WSET course or ever get my certification in britt detection. I don’t dismiss this education or minimize how much it helps people to appreciate and enjoy wine. It just isn’t for me (school-a-phobic?). If I keep reminding myself that the mystery is sometimes the best part, Bill will be fine.

§   #4 – This web stuff is a lot of work. I had my friend Louanne set it all up and insert the posts, links, and art for a while. Basically all the hard work. She made me look all 21st century. And then she…………well……….she sat me down and said that we needed a change……….it wasn’t working for her…………she said that it wasn’t me, it was her………..told me she was holding me 

rodback by doing everything for me………that I should do it myself to better get the results I wanted, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. I thought then and still do that there was someone else. I was gutted. But, I pulled myself together and here we are. I’m a bit old for this social media stuff. How old is he? He’s so old he saw Brian Jones with the Stones, Neil Young with CSN, the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, and Rod Stewart (picture on right) with the Jeff Beck Group which means I heard Rod when he was really good. But I try to do the blogging/Twitter/Facebook thing as well as a child of the sixties and seventies can manage. It’s a lot of work. Isn’t it fellow bloggers? But bottom line? I break me up or I’d just drink and not tell people about it.

Come to think of it, I think I’ll do that right now – drink that is. Do I have any more 2008 Beronia downstairs? Do I? Are you shitting me? Of course I do.

A big thanks to those that follow me, comment on my posts, and keep me honest. Let’s have some fun and share a glass together before too long!



The Red Daily Slosh is in The Houze

12 Mar

More funk. It’s one of those winters, isn’t it? Snowmagedon has arrived again today. We need something to get up and dance about. I try to do my part. And BTW, that is Lionel Richie rocking the sax (can you lip sync a sax?).

These recommendations are for the March 15th release.

This release focuses on “California Classics” read: overpriced labels. I was going to save this for a ramble but I might as well do this now. I read a post (rant) by The Drunken Cyclist about ‘library wines’ as in – what a disrespectful rip off. And I thought to myself – it’s time. Let me provide a disclaimer – I love all wines, t’is true. But, for the record, I do indeed love California wines – pinots, cabernet sauvignons, Rhones, zinfandels, chardonnays, you get the picture. But, there may not be a region that’s been better at leveraging labels cache into dollars. Strike that; as I‘ll be talking about Bordeaux some other time. I could provide many examples – Cakebread entry-level cab sav costing the same as Tignanello and Chateau de Beaucastel, Screaming Eagle at twice the price of Ornellaia. Before people start commenting about the principle of letting the market decide – I get it, they’re selling this stuff – why reduce the price? And, wine is a subjective experience that takes into account everything from sight, smell, perceived value, and luxury. “If I want to spend $199 on a California cabernet (editorial comment: probably very big), why can’t I?” I’m just saying it’s my blog and I think that it’s a ’library wine’ sized rip off. There are exceptions – I can think of lots of great California wines that are an expensive-ish bargain – there’s always Chateau Montelena with a pedigree and product that some of these ‘cult’ guys could only dream of IMHO and offers its stuff at one-quarter to half their price. All this to say, that I’m not talking this week about the expensive California wines in the release because I drink them by exception not as a rule but, and I want reps out there to take note, would certainly entertain samples designed to sway my opinion? Because I do love California wines.

On to the wine.

masdauzieresWhile driving through the Languedoc, you can’t help but be struck with the thought, “Holy shit, they grow a lot of grapes!” It is indeed a large and active wine region and there are lots of cheap, mass-produced wines. This and similarly styled areas of Italy are called Europe’s Wine Lake. But, there are also many great AOC’s and producers that work to provide fine wines that reflect the history, culture and, dare I say, terroir of the Languedoc. You’ve heard me rave about St.-Chinian (Dale, remind me of how the town got its name) and Faugeres to name two AOC’s that you should keep an eye out for. This week, there’s a wine from the Côteaux du Languedoc – 2009 Mas de d’Auzierès les Éclat #271742 $18.95. This wine is made with syrah, grenache and mourvedre and grows on very rocky soils in the shadow of Pic St. Loup. The video below is great (Pic St. Loup in the background) and gives you an idea of the dedication and enthusiasm of the owners. But what does it taste like? Well, the owner speaks of rocks (les eclats) and this wine brings a distinct Nose of Stone (formerly a superhero who beat opponents with a large, super-sensitive, and hard sniffer) and a finish that has a minerally element too – so I get les eclats. The absence of oak is evident by the freshness of the fruit, in my mind. It is sturdy but for me not too – tannins not over-riding the experience of cherries and darker fruit. I’m thinking a case wine if you purchase that way and love syrah and/or grenache. I don’t venture into talking about longevity but a review suggests this wine will develop over half a dozen years. So, you don’t have to drink the whole case in the first two months…….Bill.

closlacoutaleStaying in France, there’s a great malbec/merlot blend from Cahors – 2011 Clos la Coutale Cahors #286385 $17.95. Alongside Argentina, Cahors has malbec as it’s most well-known grape. And it’s a different take on the grape as well. Maybe not as uniform as Argentinean malbec can be sometimes. Not complaining about it, mind you. This winery has a long and distinguished pedigree. It’s spent significant time in barrel – bringing a smokiness to the sniff. I’d call it full-bodied and a bit chewy with lots of different things going on and none clearly the winner. It’s not confused though just finding it’s way. The second sip (or glass) brings it into focus a bit more – the tannin seems to smooth out, mocha flavours start to develop along with spicy, tangy stuff. Lovely and sturdy – ready to go with some cold weather cuisine like maybe roast pork – or something else with some fat.

A wine that I haven’t had that I’m going to try:

lacrimusA highly reviewed Rioja under $20 deserves some attention. So, I think that I’ll pick up the 2009 Lacrimus Criaza #359968 $18.95. A crianza Rioja requires less time in barrel and bottle than a reserva (like the one below). But, this is an ’09 so has had more time than most crianzas to smooth out and get it together, I’m assuming. It sounds like a complex (licorice, strawberries and morello cherries – oh my) beaut. And, I love a beaut.

Return to the scene of the crime:

I just finished the last of my ’08 Beronia Reserva. Man, I love this stuff. There are very few bottles remaining in my market. If you see it, buy it. The rest of us will have to wait until they flood the market with some left overs or the ’09 vintage.

Around The World – The Red Daily Slosh

5 Dec

Preamble ramble: I realize that The Daily Slosh has crept up in cost over the last couple of years and now averages around $19 per. I apologize for this but there’s not a lot I can do. I will ramble on this in another post sometime soon. Stay tuned.

ironyAre you like me and: a) wondering how you can get through the holiday season without going to the mall; b) about to scream the next time you hear Nat King Cole roasting his nuts; c) searching for a reasonably-priced new world cabernet sauvignon that doesn’t have a catchy name (Naked), label graphic (Barefoot), or shameless marketing (Skinny Girl)? If answering “Yes” to selection c) continue reading. If answering “No”, proceed to paragraph 2. Still with me? OK, there’s a winery– Irony, that makes the wines that we are searching for. The 2010 Irony Small Lot Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon #025106 $19.95 is a great example of why we don’t have to fall into the cab chase – where we spend way too much based on label, scores, and cult status for wines that frequently don’t bring better drinking than this one does. Now, it ain’t my Chateau Montelena in a good year. But, I believe you’ll love it. It has some heft at this price, full of berries and currants (cassis) with balanced tannins but structure enough to sit for a few years too.

medoroParagraph 2 – I attended a wine tasting a week ago that included a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – one that I had recently recommended by Aldiano. It was a favourite of the night for a couple people and loved by all. This week there’s another one of these great value reds – 2009 Medoro Rosso del Duca Montepulicano d’Abruzzo #357160 $18.95. I know that this price point doesn’t strike many of you as “great value” but trust me – just this once. Where the Aldiano had a vein of acidity that hit you early in your mouth and then dissipated after your….um…… fourth glass, this one is much rounder and has less of an edge from the get-go. Medium to full-bodied. It also has a great nose of Italian-ness – dirty, smelly, funky that follows you to the finish – not George Clinton funky but Isley Brothers – relatable, I’m thinking. And, it tastes good too. Perfect wine for a thin crust sausage pizza (spare me the deep dish), spaghetti with store bought tomato sauce, or a plate of antipasti.

trioA friend asked me for a red wine suggestion that he could load up on for the holidays – requirements were that it was tasty and that it wasn’t too much. I suggested the Casiliero del Diablo line but he found it a bit too heavy. So, here goes again and it’s by the same guys Concha y Toro. The 2012 Trio Merlot/Carmenere/Syrah #433920 $14.94 is a wine that they put together annually blending to achieve a house style that’s consistent year-in, year-out. It’s easy drinking with the merlot carrying the day (so perhaps a bit softer than the Casiliero) supported by the structure, dustiness and weight of the carmenere and syrah. Although it’s a bit higher priced than I was instructed, I think it’s a good bet to be a “crowd-pleaser”. They suggest mushroom risotto. I say just stand around and pour glass after glass – but pour responsibly.

smallgullyI seldom mention Australian wines it seems. Not sure why as I love ‘em. BTW, did anyone take me up on the 2009 St. Hallett’s Blackwell Shiraz? I opened a bottle the other day and it was all I remembered it was. Yummy. Still some around but hurry – it would be a perfect gift for Christmas for your shiraz-loving friend.  Where was I? Oh yeah, Australian wines. There’s a shiraz this week that I get most vintages that’s reasonably priced, fits into the medium to full category, and is fun – 2009 Small Gully The Formula Robert’s Shiraz #142935 $18.95. This is big but not too big (Duff’s Definition: Wine That’s Too Big – food will not go with it; a spoon stands up in it; after one sip, people stand at least five feet from you in conversation; and, your teeth are crimson for several weeks after drinking). It has loads of darker fruits, some nuances of wood on the nose and in the swallow – long finish. Great BBQ wine (ribs, wings) – spicy and tannic enough to beat down the fattiness of the meat.

beroniaA wine that I’ve sung the praises of before reappears – 2008 Beronia Reserva #050203 $18.95. A friend the other day said that they had bought a case of this and were just through it now. I won’t talk about it again – but if tempranillo turns your crank, get a bottle or two of this. There seems to be a bunch of it around.

bordonMini-splurge time. This week, the 2004 Rioja Bordòn Gran Reserva #114454 $24.95. If you love Rioja or Spanish wine in general, this is a must buy for you. You can drink it now or leave for awhile longer – maybe a decade. This is a complex (Confession: I sometimes use “complex” to mean that I’m confused – and lazy – because there’s a lot going on and I can’t tell what it is – this isn’t one of those times), cedary, red fruit wine with a perfect amount of acidity present. I believe some of the acidity may blow off with a little time, which I didn’t have. It’s everything a Rioja should be – food-friendly (red meat – lamb? with some fat), medium-bodied, and smelling like the cellar it came from – a bit musty and barrelly – I love this stuff!

jugundaA splurge that I’m going to get that I haven’t yet tasted is the 2010 La Ferme du Monts Côtes Jugunda Gigondas #354118 $29.95. I recommended their Côtes du Rhône (La Ponnant) several months ago and feedback was very positive. I loved it and still have a couple down below. These guys do good wine well. Let me know if you try it.

Footnote: Those answering in the affirmative on selections a and b above, I’ve got nothing for us except we need to ride this yule thingee out. I guess it’s time I hung the mistletoe, eh?

JJ et La Famille – The Red Daily Slosh

25 Aug

jj cale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few repeats from earlier posts:

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

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

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

Anglophones and Asia – The Red Daily Slosh

16 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revisiting Past Daily Sloshes

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

Wine Meets Music – The Weekend Splurge

29 Mar

beroniaIt’s my blog which allows me pronouncements, foibles, poor syntax, and clearly wrong-headed positions. With this absolute power in mind, I think Whipping Post is the best rock and roll song of all time. Or perhaps Cowgirl in The Sand? Depending on the mood I’m in. When I hear them, I have to say, “I love this stuff”, “It’s the best”. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you – give me your picks. Sympathy For The Devil? John Hiatt’s Paper Thin, you say? Yes, in contention. But, I repeat, it’s my blog. This week there’s a wine that will have you saying, “I love this stuff,”  “It’s the best.” I mentioned last week a Rioja Gran Reserva that wowed my friends. Well, here we are again but it’s from my favourite readily available winery, Beronia www.beronia.es . You’ve provided tons of positive feedback about their ‘07 and ‘08 Beronia Reserva. Well, a Gran Reserva is made with grapes harvested from better vineyards, in exceptional years, and aged longer in wood and bottle. Result: it’s almost always a more complete wine. By more complete, I mean more things going on, smoother, truer expression of the fruit and the place. Classy, elegant, and in this case ‘just about perfect’. This week, taste the difference that the four letter word, ‘gran’, makes and grab a bottle or three of the 2005 Beronia Gran Reserva #940965 $32.95. You will not regret it. I love this stuff as much as Duane’s and Neil’s riffs! It’s the best! Well, until next week when I tell you something else is the best. Sunshine of Your Love? Pump It Up? Ripple? OK, I’m waffling. After all it’s my blog.

peninsularidgeStaying close to home, I visited Peninsula Ridge www.peninsularidge.com on a recent trek through the region and sampled their fares – great winery, great food, great wines done in a French fashion, in my mind. Did I mention the great food? This week, there’s a perfect Easter meal wine – 2010 Peninsula Ridge McNally’s Vineyards Proprietor’s Reserve Pinot Noir #257543 $24.95. This isn’t one of those ubiquitous big, bold New World pinots that I can’t help myself getting used to. I hate myself for that. It’s more feminine which is a wine bull schist description. It’s just hard for me to describe beyond the strawberries, smokiness?, the necessary and balancing acidity, and, interestingly, a wee bit of the region’s greenness – didn’t expect that. The review at www.vintages.com suggests red roses. What happened to red roses? They don’t smell anymore. What happened? Can anyone solve the mystery of the disappearing fragrance? GMO? Wimpy roses conforming to a scent-free environment policy? Tar sands?

And, remember, just because you’ve squirreled away splurge wines doesn’t mean keeping them for that special occasion which, oddly never quite seems to materialize. I know, not even my best friends seem special enough (apologies to my best friends) for some of my stash. Family – well forget it. Do not treat splurge wine like your good china – hidden deep in the bowels of your cupboard never to see the light of day – break it out for friends and family. Make any occasion special and pop a cork on one of those more expressive and expensive wines. First day of baseball season? Open the 2000 Chateau Duhart-Milon. Just crested 4 o’clock on a Monday? Perfect time for 2002 Chateau Montelena Estate Cab. Squirrels leaving your bird feeder alone? Well of course 1997 Chateau de Beaucastel. Go ahead – you and maybe a mooching friend or two are special enough. Splurge up!

Best of the Daily Slosh 2012: Red

31 Dec

At this time of year, we reflect on the past twelve months, make promises about the next twelve, and get hammered a bit more than we’d care to admit. In that spirit (the reflecting part) I’d like to offer up Duff’s Best of 2012.

These choices and entries were pulled from my regular newsletters and your feedback, initial calculations were made on the back of an envelope (yes, I still use real mail), logarithms were developed to create unbiased selections, and then I chose the ones that I wanted to. Well, I listened to you too.

2012 Best of Daily Slosh Red  

  1. 2006 Sasso Al Poggio When I recommend Toscana reds, you love them and I feel the love when you do. This week, there’s a special one that was named #60 in Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wines of 2011. The 2006 Sasso Al Poggio (#134809 $18.95) is a “stunner”. Well, that may be hyperbole (and awfully UK) but you get the point – it’s damn fine. Now, who would like this wine? I’d say that if you like your wine a little dirty (not psychotic and sad Britney Spears-dirty but Sarah Silverman-dirty – good dirty, if that makes sense. If not, forget the ramble), not heavy (Britney redux) and with loads of personality – then, this is for you. Seriously, it is a full-bodied wine with loads going on and all in the right balance. The winery web site says to serve with matured cheeses and game.
  1. 2007 Beronia Reserva – Spain has brought us special things – Paella, Flamenco, Coca Cola, Chess, Penélope Cruz and wine! We can discuss the other things over a glass of Sherry but on the wine front, maybe there’s nothing more Spanish than Rioja. The 2007 Beronia Reserva (#050203 $18.95) is a great example of Rioja Reserva – smooth, balanced, and quirky good. Love Muga? Love LAN? You’ll love this! And, it’s cheaper.
  1. 2009 Brancaia Tre – I was in Providence, Rhode Island last week visiting our son and just couldn’t leave him with lousy wine. What caring father would do that?  So, I wandered to the local and picked up a bottle of 2009 Brancaia Tre for him. And, what do I see this week in our LCBO release but Brancaia Tre, a Super Tuscan. It just keeps getting spookier. FYI, a Super Tuscan isn’t a mild-mannered Florentine news reporter. One, two, three……It’s a consumer term for a Tuscan wine made outside of the traditional DOC or DOCG rules. Typically, it uses cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and/or merlot to a greater extent than normally allowed in Chianti, Brunello, Rosso di Montalcino, or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and usually is labeled as an IGT (Indacazione Geografica Tipica) and, sometimes, Toscana. This one – 2009 Brancaia Tre (#164715 $22.95) has a good dose of cabernet sauvignon and merlot along with sangiovese and is understated and delicate. I love this stuff! This was offered a few months ago and vanished within minutes. Did I say that I love this stuff? Take your time with it, savour it, and think about the warm Tuscan sun that produced this beauty.
  1. 2010 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec – While we’re discussing malbec, you need to pick up a bottle of 2010 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec (#079798 $19.95). This is a full-bodied malbec that has integrated oak and lots of fruit to enjoy. Susana Balbo makes some wine under her name, like this one, but also consults with many malbec growers and vintners in Argentina. She’s one very busy Argentinean. But don’t cry for her……………cause O Susana don’t cry for me.
  1. 2006 Hecht and Bannier (H&B) Côtes du Roussillon-Villages – A great wine from the south of France made by a superior winery is the 2006 Hecht and Bannier (H&B) Côtes du Roussillon-Villages (#142802). The St.-Chinian by H&B was also spectacular. These guys continue to turn out fabulous wines, typical of this region. E. Robert Parker’s wine critic in Roussillon says of this wine, “…….you don’t have to believe in the efficacy of geological underpinnings to recognize the dazzling complexity and uncanny balance on display here.” Phew! I have had sleepless nights worrying that my lack of belief in the efficacy of geological underpinnings was getting in the way of me recognizing dazzling complexity and uncanny balance. Anyone else with me?
  1. 2008 The Watcher Shiraz – For the Aussie lovers, there’s a wonderful shiraz that’s been recommended here before. The 2008 The Watcher Shiraz (#219196 $19.95). Chewy? You bet. Made by Fetish Winery. So, this wine goes well with hand cuffs, feather ticklers, lace, and small rodents (kidding on the rodents, of course!). It’s also recognized as #51 of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2010. Pick up a bottle and see if they were right.


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