Tag Archives: cabernet sauvignon

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.



Ireland’s Lessons and the Red Daily Slosh

21 May

Relevance of the video? None really, just love this song done by an amazing singer and it’s my blog. Dare you not to sing along. One of my favourite sad shower songs. TMI?

I apologize for leaving you in the lurch for awhile. I was away on a not even remotely earned vacation in Ireland. I mean there’s no possibility that anyone could mistake me for someone needing a vacation. There is no way that I ever work that hard. Have I been clear? I don’t deserve vacations. However, things that I learned in Ireland include:

  • Guinness won’t kill you – it is great!
  • Guinness is very good, I like Guinness
  • I know that I’m repeating myself but, you guessed it, I like Guinness
  • Rain is not my friend
  • Music is universally important. Music matters
  • It rains a lot in Ireland
  • Aer Lingus isn’t Irish for free drinks during flight
  • Galway is the new…………whatever the old ‘cool’ place was
  • Smithwicks is pronounced Smithicks or, alternatively, Smithwicks and it doesn’t depend on how many you’ve had
  • The right side of the road is in fact the right side of the road
  • Skoda makes every automobile driven in Ireland and none driven in Canada – what’s with that? Where for art thou, Skoda? “Feel the force”. Anyone get that one or too geeky?
  • Friends make life worth living – well, that and wine

These recommendations are for the May 24th “New Arrivals” release.

bilahautvvRoussillon is part of the Lake of Wine in the south of France. It, along with the Languedoc, has spawned labels such as Fat Bastard, Arrogant Frog, a bicycle one that I forget, and other cute but reasonably solid wines. I have recommended a tonne of wines from this area because…………….well, I really like them and I worked several harvests at Chateau L’Homme Faible as a grape frere. There are three that make these virtual pages each and every vintage, it seems – those carrying M. Chapoutier’s Bila-Haut label. This week there is the entry level Bila-Haut and the premium one as well. Let’s start on the easier price point – 2012 M. Chapoutier Les Veilles Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon-Villages #168716 $14.95. That’s a mouthful – “I’d like a glass of the Chapoutier Les Viieilles Vignes (is it veel vins? deep breath) de Bila-Haut (hard swallow) Cotes….oh shit, just give me a glass of this (pointing to the item on the menu with your finger).” These wines sometimes can be quite simple or one-dimensional at this price point but this wine defies that description – it’s medium bodied but brings it with earthy, chewy flavours and tannins. Syrah, Carignan, and Grenache grown on “gneiss and schist from the Devonian Period.” I’m not schisting you; that’s directly from their web site. It creates a wine that has minerality, spiciness, and some smell and taste of the scrubbiness from which it comes. A good value. The shelf label will say that I gave it 3 fishes or it more likely will say that www.winefront.com.au gave it a 91.

occultumlapidemThe other Chapoutier gem is the premium – but not much 2011Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem #643239 $25.95. This wine has a similar feel to the cheaper one – brambly, garrigueiness. A more full-bodied effort. I’m not sure whether there was any wood used but I bet if it was it was old casks – fruit isn’t overshadowed by anything that doesn’t come from the field. Bigger and rounder than the one above. My notes say, “Love this stuff!!!” Yes, three exclamation points. BTW ‘occultum lapidem’ means ‘hidden stone’ or ‘gem’, I believe. But then again, I only took Latin for four years about a hundred years ago. Glad I did as it’s a big help on crossword puzzles and Dan Brown novels. I’ll let you discover the shelf talkers yourself but this scored very high marks from some of the ‘experts’. These labels have Braille on them too. There’s a story there that I’ll leave you to Google.

montes aslpha syrahThere was a time when many of my recommendations included wines from Chile. Not sure why they’ve fallen off – probably because I’m not drinking as many of them so don’t know what’s what? This week, the 2010 Montes Alpha Syrah #000612 $19.95 appears on the shelves. This label is a ‘go to’ for some of you (Oliver and Joanne?) as you’ve told me about the cabernet sauvignon, carmenere, and chardonnay; all consistent performers. This syrah has been climbing on quality over the last few vintages IMHO. This one has staying power requiring a little basement time, breathing or violent swishing. Subdued nose but a powerful experience in the mouth. It reminds me of a New World cabernet sauvignon a bit – with the oak very present – some cab in the blend. Powerful wine – food wine – lamb chops, pork roast, fatty meat – spice and acid on the finish making my lips smack. Wait, I really don’t know if my idea of lip smacking is everyone else’s. Let’s all do this together – 1, 2, 3 smack your lips. You did try it didn’t you? You guys are just weird.

ironyBringing you wines that you’ll actually pick up is one of my goals here. Repeating labels so that you get familiar with the good ones. No use recommending the 2006 Blaufränkisch if the name itself scares you off. We’ll build up to those unfamiliar wines another time. This time of year, you’re looking for getting the Q started and burgers burning. This week there’s a wine that can do one better than burgers – the 2011 Irony Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon #025106 $19.95 arrives to give those Calicabaholics a very nice picnic table red. Food friendly with balanced acidity and enough backbone tannins to stand up to steak, I think. Dark but not swarthy. Pretty quintessential California cabernet sauvignon and the price is very good for this much power and balance.

Speaking of pricing. And, I’m sure we were. What’s with the seemingly big mark up on US wines? Isn’t the mother ship one of the biggest purchasers of wines and spirits in the world? Drive a hard deal, FCOL. The wine above is probably $9.99 USD at Costco. As a former math major, I calculate that as about a 100% markup. Done without a calculator or slide rule, I might add. So either Mister Irony (in cahoots with his Canadian importer) is screwing with us or we’re getting new hospital beds at my local with the profits. Which is a definite plus as I age and detect significant mental slippage. But it ain’t just the exchange and sin tax is what I’m sayin’.

This release features Rhone reds – and, I Iove Rhone reds! But alas, I haven’t sampled any of the Rhone wines on offer. Note to LCBO – “If you want me to keep on upselling the masses, show me some love and get me some samples”. I do have two sight–undrank wines that I might pick up – 2011 Le Gravillas Côtes du Rhône-Villages Séguret #309260 $15.95 and 2010 La Font du Vent Passion Côtes du Rhône-Villages Signargues #370260 $16.95 both sound like they’re the type of Cotes I like to wear.

Recommendation revisited: I recommended the Clifford Bay Pinot Noir #309500 $19.95 quite a while ago and was surprised to see that there are still a bunch at my store (Masonville). Go get it if you’re a New World pinot fan – good value from Down Under.

Portugal and The Red Daily Slosh

27 Mar

OK, the somewhat whispering voice is laughable but the story and pictures are spectacular. No?

I follow a bunch of people on Twitter and this week there was a thread about wine and, in particular, Portuguese wine. I have always loved Portuguese wine. But, I have to admit, I haven’t had much over the last few years. Oh, I have a glass of Port if my friend Rod offers (which he doesn’t nearly enough) but I mean unfortified Portuguese wine. Not sure why I’ve jumped off the Portuguese bandwagon. Actually, I came out of my first formal tasting with a case of wine from Alentejo. So, it’s time to put my money where my typing finger is. That doesn’t sound quite right but I think you get it.

So, I wandered to my local monopoly store and shopped for some value priced Portuguese wines. The good news? There were lots. The bad news? There were lots. I’ll talk about these over the next month or so.

montefinoFirst up is a wonderful wine – 2005 Montefino Reserva #165519 $17.95. This is a wine made from a blend of Trincadeiro, Alicante Bouscet, Aragones and Touriga Nacional. Don’t be too blown away by names that may be unfamiliar – just jump in. After all Aragones is just Tempranillo (and, we all love it) and Touriga Nacional coming in small berries with intense flavours and darkness makes great reds as well as being the preeminent grape in Port. This wine comes from Alentejo, a large wine making area that is also home to cork trees that sacrifice their skin so that we can enjoy popping a cork rather than unscrewing a top. 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. I’d suggest that you click on the inventory number to see what’s in your neighbourhood. And a shout out to Vera! Stay tuned.

These next ones are for the March 29th release.

barahondaAnother Iberian value this time from Spain is the 2011 Barahonda Sin Madera Monastrell #366823 $15.95. I first had this wine as an on-line order sight un……..drunk. I loved it. It’s gone. Time to reload. It’s made from Monastrell. Monastrell is really just Mourvedre that’s escaped across the border from France. Or maybe vice versa? This is a wine that doesn’t see wood – so stainless steel all the way – bringing you the fruit first but I like the fact that there’s a hardness, a spine, to it – minerality and tannins. It’s pretty intense, flavour-wise and I experience it as full-bodied. Like the one above – it’s warming and, I think, a perfect wine for friends and Iberian food – like, say, carne de porco à alentejana (never had it but scooped it right out of Wikipedia). But seriously, we have a diner in London called Rei Dos Leitoes that, frankly, has the best barbecued chicken and pork in the area. Pick up a dinner from there (chicken, pork, BBQ, piri piri) and crack a couple of bottles of this wine with friends. Perfect.

wakefieldI had lunch with some friends yesterday and one commented that he appreciated cabernet sauvignon when he was supposed to be working on his graduate school stuff. Thanks for that, Jeff, I don’t feel so unprincipled now. A good value cabernet that takes us away from those magnetic California shelves is the 2012 Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon #744235 $17.95. This is a pretty big wine in my mind. It’s got some heat from the alcohol (although only 14%). Is it just me or is there higher and higher alcohol content? I don’t like that the wines we see now are all over 12.5% as a matter of course and some of the bruisers are 14.5% to 15.5%! What’s wrong with getting just mildly buzzed? What? Anyway, this has some heat but it isn’t to the extent that it interferes with the big dose of flavours – dark fruit, mocha, maybe even some herby stuff – wait, definitely herby stuff. Not heavily oaked or tricked up. This is not a party wine. I repeat – eat with this. Something burnt and chewy – leave the fat on and the tannins will break it down and rinse it up. I like this for the cab lovers out there. Even ones that drink while doing grad school projects.

And because you all love boogie down music. I couldn’t help myself.

The King and Others – The Red Daily Slosh

21 Feb

elvis1These recommendations are for the March 1 release.

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

On to the wine.

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

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

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

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

I will take a peek at this one

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

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

Down By The Ribero – Red Daily Slosh

16 Jan

H3csI penned a post about the end of the calendar year and my first year writing this blog. But, after reading The Hosemaster of Wine’s rant on end of year posts, I declined to post it (click on his link – right banner – to read his take on end of year lists). One of the things that I did mention in that post is that I am going to drink more North American wines. So, lets’ kick the year off with one of my favourite North American red labels – 2011 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon #210047 $19.95. This is from the guys and gals that bring you all kinds of value wines from the Northwest, Chateau Ste. Michelle. I sometimes eschew (always wanted to use that word) ‘big’ wines. This is the exception that proves the rule – it’s pretty big and I love it; like I love John Goodman and Katie Webster. It has a smoky aroma and a smoky taste – even maybe meaty taste. It has a little heat at 14.5% ABV that I could detect on the nose even (which sometimes means a lack of balance to me) but this wine’s large enough to handle it. Dark fruit. I’d let it air out a bit or pour it through one of those wine gadgets you received for Christmas. And, have some burnt meat with it – steaks, ribs, BBQ chicken. Or, going out on a limb here, just pop and pour – forget about the fuss and drink alone, like me.

balbasI know, I know, $20.95 doesn’t qualify for a daily drinking red at my house either. But, this isn’t really a splurge and it might be the best $20.95 you’ve spent in a while. Well, since the 48 pound box of Tide at Costco? The 2001 Balbas Reserva #085183 $20.95 is a wine that I’ve recommended before and they’ve stocked up again at the LCBO. Plus, it won’t give you a hernia like the aforementioned Tide. They’ve done all the aging for you, it’s balanced, all nonsense integrated and working together, with a splash of acid that makes it very food friendly. It has leather both on the nose and a bit in the mouth. It’s grown up, mature – although gracefully so with a few years left and it’s settled on being one of the better value Ribera del Deuros available at the monopoly. I have purchased this wine on three occasions, same vintage and all, over the last 4 years and when I ran out, I cried, I hated myself for not getting more. So, seeing it once more on the shelves means a caselot, I fear. I want to love me; not hate me and I absolutely love this wine!

boutarigrI was sitting with a bunch of archaeology grad students last night and they were talking shop and Greek wines came up. The consensus was that Greek red wine was not so great. “Maybe when you’ve spent 10 hours in the sun crouched over a hole in the ground,” Bill says, demonstrating that he really doesn’t know what archaeologists do. But, there are many good to very good Greek red wines and many are made by Boutari. Hitting the shelves this week is the 2007 Boutari Grand Reserve #140111 $16.95. This is a full-bodied Naoussa red (one review says medium-bodied but I disagree) that’s chewy, ripe and full of fun stuff that everyone won’t agree on. I like it’s cedary, long finish and the fact that it’s lost a bit of it’s edges over time without being flabby. A challenge to those Greek red wine critics – pick this up and change your outlook. BTW, the Santorini Assyrtyko whites are fab too.

A wine that is coming in this weekend that I’m going to try:

perinet2005 Mas Perinet Perinet #143453 $16.95 Priorat wines that appear on these shores can be pricey. It’s a ‘hot’ region right now and the buzz is leveraged with higher pricing, I think. So, a Priorat wine with good pedigree that costs $16.95 is a good way to introduce/reacquaint yourself with this region. Love the label!

Previously Unexplored Wineries – Pondview Estate Winery

8 Jan

pondviewfrontI was going to post this before the end of 2013 but I noticed that Pondview Estate Winery will have a booth at the London Wine and Food Show, January 16 – 18. I thought that if I sowed the seed closer to that date, it might encourage you to attend and drop in to see these fine folks. Tell ’em I sent ya. I was at the first iteration of this event and wondered where the wine was but the event has grown and there are a number of Ontario wineries (Lailey, Pondview, Angel’s Gate, among others) and breweries (Muskoka, Fork River). Get tickets here http://www.westernfairdistrict.com/shop/products#WineFood

This is the latest in a series of posts about winery visits to places I’m interested in knowing more about.  The other visits are chronicled here: Colaneri, Kacaba, Megalomaniac.

Last summer (2012) I attended the wedding of my niece in lovely Stratford Ontario. The wedding was great – happy couple, relieved parents, happy-for-a-free-meal relatives – that’s me – and a great setting. The red wine served was one that I hadn’t heard of before – 2010 Pondview Estate Winery Cab/Merlot Reserve. It was perfect for the occasion of an afternoon wedding and a terrace lunch at The Old Prune. I even spoke about the wine in a post.

I checked the shelves at my local and found nary a bottle of their stuff there. Well, it got me thinking, why not read up on this winery and then trundle down to Niagara-On-The-Lake and see what else is happening there.

Pondview Estate Winery is located in the Four Mile Creek Appellation close to the little village of Virgil. Every time I zip through Virgil, I’m singing The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down, by the time I clear the reduced speed zone. Follow? Apparently the appellation gets an abundance of sunshine allowing their Bordeaux varietals to provide a bigger, riper wine.

Pondview is located on Line 2 NOTL. Now, if you’ve purchased a new car with built in navigation (as had we when I tried to find this place), you might have trouble getting your friendly, neutrally accented navigation queen to point you in the right direction. It’s just weird down there (Lines vs. Concessions; paying attention to dozing off due to flat land) and I had a bit of bother finding the place. My fault (and that of the GPS, of course) not theirs. I mean you can see for miles as the topography is quite flat but still – an aging, forgetful wine blogger stumbled about for awhile before I arrived at the winery. Which is somewhat backwards as I usually stumble out, not in – but I stumble responsibly.

Pondview has a newer reception centre (picture above) that has a wide veranda with tables for sitting outside and enjoying the weather as well as the wine. They offer plates of cheese, glasses of wine and nibbles in season – so plan to spend some time. The whole image reminds of the farm stands that I used to frequent as a kid picking up sweet corn or fresh peaches only larger, newer, and a lot better kept – apologies to the Eastmans. It’s really quite charming and inviting. Where’s the pond, you ask? So did I. It’s out back behind the working winery. Once inside, there is a large room with the ubiquitous wine thingees and the Pondview line of wines stacked, ready for purchase. The tasting bar is the central focus of the room. I understand that there is a Barrel and Tank Room that is also used for tastings. Staff, as always in Niagara, are top drawer.

Pondview is a family-run enterprise – a family with a long history of agriculture and viticulture dating back to Italy. Family seemingly present and accounted for when I was there. I was met by Joseph Barbera – Sales Manager. Now, if you’re in my age cadre, you’ll remember Yogi Bear and BooBoo, Huckleberry Hound, Augie Doggie, and Fred Flintstone. These were all productions of Hanna-Barbera – Joseph Barbera, that is. I was a little too self-conscious to point this out to him as HE HAS  PROBABLY HEARD IT A MILLION TIMES BEFORE. Joseph was the perfect host for me – not assuming that I actually knew stuff but not talking down to me either. And passionate about their wine as he should be. The wines are all produced using estate fruit – which means grown by Pondview on their land, in this case, adjacent to the winery itself. Joseph told me that they are planting more acreage to accommodate growth and a broader selection of varietals.

harmonyNow, the wine. Let’s start with their entry level fun red – Harmony Red #336495 $14.95This red fits into the über competitive ‘Ontario Everyday Red’ category. Actually I‘m making that up – there isn’t a ‘category’ per se but you get what I mean. Wait, it’s a ‘niche’? Anyway, the goal is to make a consistent house style, easy drinking red that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. They’ve succeeded in spades with this wine. This wine was the perfect wine to kick off the red tasting – medium bodied, a hint of sweetness but not sugar, and fruit up front. When you visit ask about the label art not just on this range but the Bella Terra as well. Attention to detail that denotes to me – pride in product.

2011-Cab-Merlot-ReserveThe next red I tried was the 2011 edition of the Cab/Merlot above. The 2011 Cabernet Merlot Reserve $19.95 (the 2010 #307561 $18.95 is still available at a few locations of the  mother ship – otherwise, you need to pick this up at the winery itself or with dinner at several restaurants in the area) is a  medium-bodied wine with cherry and some wood being the predominant aromas. It swallows a bit hot and I think could withstand or even benefit from some cellar time or aeration. Good value in my mind and a Niagara red that doesn’t carry the greenness that sometimes distracts me from all the other stuff going on.I’m told that might be the 4 Mile Creek effect.

2011-cab-sauv-RED-bellaterra-smThe premium level for Pondview is their Bella Terra line. The 2011 Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon $35.15 is a full-bodied effort. Grapes were picked late in the harvest season (November 6th in this case), cold soaked and in barrel for 19 months. The benefit of not having LCBO volume accountabilities is being able to be patient and they were with this wine.This is a full-bodied ripe wine that proves the statement above that 4 Mile Creek wines are just that – ripe, full reds. But, and this is important, this wine has enough structure – it’s a river not a pool. Stands up doesn’t flop. Lovely cassis, maybe a touch of mint, and some smoky stuff from the wood. Lovely wine. Why pay $35 for a Niagara red? Because you can get this!

2011-BT-ChardAnother Bella Terra wine that I tried was the 2011 Bella Terra Chardonnay $25.25. If you know Arlene, you know that I can wander around tasting wine as long as I bring home some vanilla-y, buttery, full-bodied chardonnay. Arlene didn’t get the memo that oaky chardonnays aren’t fashionable any longer. And, I’m glad for that ’cause I love then too. Less importantly at our house, this wine won the 2013 Chardonnay du Monde bronze medal in France. Not too shabby. I loved the tropical notes both in the bowl and in the mouth – the typical green apple and that Dufton/Berday sought after butterscotch. Don’t read that this wine is cloying and too heavy; it’s not. It has a streak of acidity that sharpens the finish. This is a serious wine. A nice price point for a wine that would go great on the dinner table with creamy seafood dishes, roast chicken, or sour cream and onion potato chips – seriously, that’s a good pairing but probably more the coffee table.

I also tasted Pondview’s 2011 Riesling ($16.20), 2011 Chardonnay ($17.20 – I’d spring for the Bella Terra and I did), the 2010 Vidal Icewine ($25.05 – this was simply exquisite and for a guy that doesn’t like ’em sweet – beautiful! I’ll learn to love it sweet), and the 2010 Bella Terra Meritage ($40.15 – a toss up with the BT Cabernet as best wine). You can order wine from the winery by clicking on the link above. Or, if scrolling is too arduous, click here.

Overall impression is that Pondview has a winning approach to growing their business. I sensed patience and attention to detail. Patience as evidenced by their philosophy of harvesting and releasing wines. Attention to detail in their label art work (I know i already mentioned that mentioned that), the knowledge of their staff, and their reception centre. The art work is very cool – mentioned again.

If you’re in the neighbourhood, don’t just hum The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down as you fly through Virgil, wander down Line 2 (or is it Concession 2?) to Pondview. And, if you’re in London, attend the London Wine and Food Show the weekend of the 16 -18 this month and support Pondview as well as the other Ontario wine and craft beers folks. Yubba-dubba-do.

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?

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?

Way Too Early Holiday Edition 1 – The Red Daily Slosh

7 Nov

zztopJust a few preambles:

Did anyone else see ZZ Top last night? Ultra cool and loud. Still bringing it. Click here to see my favourite song of the night.

I must have hit a nerve with my last post on the early days of wine drinking. Many people responded with their ‘go-to’ wine from the past. Many emailed, which I love but you can also just click on “Comment” below and leave your, well, comment. Alas, many of these wines are not available anymore, I fear.

mateus2Mateus – hands-down most mentioned wine. Still around and I may be alone but I don’t think it’s that bad now. Echo – “it’s that bad now”. Hell, I am alone;

Colio Bianco Seco (1L size);

Mouton Cadet Rouge – goes particularly well with Korean cuisine, I hear;

One that I added during email discussions and for full disclosure purposes was Boonesberry Farms Strawberry Hill. Yikes;

“The Melting Candle’ Chianti – I believe it was called Chianti Ruffino? Which doesn’t sound plausible. And, if you can tell me what the name of the baskets that were woven around the bottles – you win a ……………actually, you win nothing other than self-satisfaction and bragging rights. But, it is a word that we use all the time now – but in another way; and

Lonesome Charlie – seriously, there was a wine called Lonesome Charlie? I vote, to capitalize on current affairs, we release a wine called Lonesome Rob (vodka-infused chardonnay with just a pinch of crack that you can drink, smoke, or snort and deny all of it because you were in a drunken stupor) or Wallin’s Blush (wait, she’s not even ashamed enough to blush). Any other current affair-inspired suggestions?

God help us! Merchants are already trumpeting the beginning of the “Holiday Season”, whatever that means to you. I guess Halloween finished up last week or so, might as well get the marketing machine in gear and give us all an excuse to buy booze. In my case, it is wasted hype – you had me at “Operating Hours are 10 am to 10 pm”.

kaikenultracsIf you’ve wandered the Argentina aisles of your local, you’ve probably seen this brand once or twice. This week, 2010 Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon #135202 $19.95 arrives (these bi-weekly events are now “arrivals” not “releases”). This is the Argentina arm of the Chilean wine company, Montes and we love Montes on these pages! Grapes are from the Lujàn de Cuyo and Valle de Uco areas. The ‘Ultra’ line appears to be their top wines with the exception of special releases from time to time. The wine above’s nose is still pretty muddled for me – dark with some woodiness but I can’t get the fruit (blackberry) that some of the reviewers find. But, the experience in the mouth is another thing altogether – I get the blackberry there – with a surprisingly Italian Super Tuscan vibe – leather? Nicely balanced, mildly tannic, would be great with a real meal – burnt red meat, veggies, spuds. Interesting things that occupy a cluttered mind – the Kaiken website has a neat diagram with a schematic, similar to that of their label, of Mount Aconcagua. Accompanying the schematic the words, “The highest mountain in the world, second to the Himalayas.” What? “est” means most, best, ultimate. Not second or penultimate to something else. If it were, we could read this on the MLSE website, “The Toronto Maple Leafs winners of the most Stanley Cups, second to the Montreal Canadiens.”

lazuliLet’s cross the Andes. There’s a wine from another winery that we speak of often. “Well, that’s not true, Bill.” OK, we don’t speak of it ‘often’ – but once in a while and favourably – Chilensis. It’s usually in connection with their Carmenère, which is available this weekend for $13.95. If that’s your sweet spot pick it up. But, if you want to kick it up a notch look to this blend. The 2010 Chilensis Lazuli #348129 $17.95 is a blend of the usual Bordeaux suspects (sans Cabernet Franc) plus 9% Syrah, and 8% Carmenère. It’s got great grip and after a breath or two, it opens to dried fruits and some woodiness. I think that if you like California Cabernet – particularly with steak, say – you’d love this wine and be saving a bunch too, yeah?

falconeAnd under the category Giving It Another Try, I’m going to recommend 2007 Rivera Il Falcone Riserva #177295 $22.95. I recommended the 2006 version of this last year and the feedback was not great – people found it ‘harsh’ and ‘almost impenetrable’. I liked it which just goes to show you that I am more sophisticated than some of my friends. This one won’t be received similarly, will it? Well, I don’t think so – had it in Puglia from whence it comes – loved it. Where the South American wines above seem to be black or dark fruit based, this one oozes red fruits. Chewy, lots of weight. Could it use some time? For sure. But, why not just decant for an hour or so, swirl like mad, and guzzle it now? Perfect wine to buy two – one for now, one for a year from now. Buy it, if you don’t like it, I will take unopened bottles at discount.

Ones that I haven’t tasted that I’m going to jump on:

saumurGo ahead, tell me who does Cabernet Franc better than Cheval Blanc and the Loire? What’s that you say? Niagara is doing Cabernet Franc well both as a single varietal and an ice wine? Yeah but, I’m saying – this week, from the Loire, there’s 2010 Reserve des Vignerons Saumur-Champigny #103879 $17.95. Pick this up if you’re looking to expand your Cabernet Franc beyond Cheval Blanc. Who am I kidding? No one who reads this buys CB. Anyway, I’m getting this one and might tell you about it in future posts.

lalunaA grape that I don’t mention much here is Barbera from Piedmont. Not sure why but probably the same reason that I don’t talk about Dolcetto much either – they play second fiddle to Nebbiolo (Barolo and Barberesco) and get lost. But, Barberas when they’re good are very good. They can sing a more rustic and lighter tune than their more famous cousins. In my Duff’sWines Super Serious Wine Drinker Paradigm®, Valpolicella Classico and Barbera both score 137.164 with two criteria met. I guess, the scale sees them as similar in feel, appropriate occasion matching, etc. Another good thing is that they are almost always available on Italian restaurants’ wine lists – so getting to know them is good practice for ordering. This week it’s  2010 La Luna E I Falò Barbera d’Asti Superiore #627901 $19.95. I think I’ll get a couple.

Value Bordeaux and Passo the Appassimento – The Red Daily Slosh

21 Oct

chateaulamotheThis week’s release features 2010 Bordeaux from less expensive appellations and there are plenty of great values. Shop districts like Blaye, Lalande de Pomerol, Cotes du Bourg, Listrac-Medoc for value. I haven’t tried very many of those on offer but will give it the college try and start popping corks once I get my hands on them. But there is one that I have had that I think is exceptional value – 2010 Château Lamothe de Haux #641555 $16.95. This red is from another minor Bordeaux district – Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux. In a year like 2010 that means that you’ll probably be getting a very good Bordeaux for less. And, that is the case here. This wine is ready to drink now with a traditional red meat dinner. It has tannins (which is good) but not so evident that the fruit is buried underneath your furry tongue. Red fruits of cherries and evidence of barrel treatment (sandalwood?), kind of  floral on the nose too. Get a couple and put one down for a year or two.

laplaceI have a friend who loves wines from Madiran and Cahors because they’re good and reasonably priced. But, I really think that he likes to step away from the crowd and when he can do that and drink great wine at the same time, he jumps at the chance, don’t you Andrew? 2010 LaPlace Madiran #103704 $16.95 is a wine made from Tannat like most Madiran reds. Tannat is exactly what it sounds like, a fairly tannic red wine grape that usually brings some raspberry fruit, tannins, acidity and ageability to the table. Actually I hate that phrase “brings to the table”. So, let’s try that again. ……………usually brings some raspberry fruit, tannins, acidity and ageability to the dance. The dance? Come on, I can do better than that ……………..usually is raspberryish, with tannins, acidity and, oh BTW, it can age. Better. This is most definitely a food wine. As above, buy two, have one now with something substantial and wait a few years for the other to see how time can soften the edges and bring the raspberries to the table, to the dance?

tedeschi2009 Tedeschi Capitel Nicalò Appassimento Valpolicella Superiore #984997 $15.95. I’m not always enamoured with appassimento/ripasso approaches. It’s supposed to bring a depth, body, and fullness to wines that otherwise would be more simple.  With the appassimento approach, there are many that just kind of get the cred without the improvement. But, some guys pull it off and when they do, I’ll recommend. This is one of those times. This wine brings some of the cooked elements of appasimento but not too much – it’s dark, medium-bodied and would be great with a big bowl of something tomato tangy. So, and I don’t usually do this, if you are having a rich meat sauce pasta next week, you must serve this with it! Now, Prego doesn’t count and doesn’t really qualify as rich. And don’t give me any guff about how hard it is to prepare meals when you work all day (from a man who sits at home in his housecoat and tastes wine before noon). I’ll meet you halfway – you’re allowed to use some organic pseudo gourmet sauce in a bottle but one that’s only available at Whole Foods (in London – SunRipe/Remark). Let me know how fantastic it turns out.

zoloArgentina makes more than just Malbec. I know. There doesn’t seem to be much else – but trust me this one time, there is. I’ve sung the praises of Torrontes in these pages and had good feedback on that white grape. This week, there’s a very solid Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Zolo Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon #054098 $17.00. If you like the ubiquitous California Cabernets at a similar price point, you’ll be pleasantly pleased with this step up. The erobertparker.com review says that it’s balanced but I think it tilts toward its fruit and alcohol (14%) – so some heat. Nonetheless, you’ll experience a suave, full-bodied red with a pretty awesome finish for this price. I could handle it standing around (leaning a bit, mind you) but also might like it with some food.

A wine that I haven’t had but piques my interest:

M2011 Vinos Sin Ley ‘M’ Old Vine Monastrell #344226 $18.95. I like Monastrell (Mourvedre) wines. Why, you ask? Well, to quote my youngest when he was, in fact young, “Because.” OK, my real answer is that I prefer wines that are, for many, a bit hard – rustic – earthy. Mourvedre or Monastrell is just that when young. But, this one is said to carry the earthiness that I love but is softer, more accessible – fruit very up front and fragrant. Sounds very good. Let me know if you try it.

Revisiting a recommendation:

BorsaoTresPicos_2I recommended the 2011 Tres Picos Garnacha #273748 $19.95 from Borsao last time out. I had a bottle with a friend the other night and I was reminded how smooth, full, and yummy this wine is. Sometimes when I’m in a funk or writer’s block, I question my recommendations. Was I right to put a ‘Buy’ on the Chateau Whatever? Is the Don Diego De La Vega Reserva all that and a bag of pretzels like I said? Well, this return visit to the Tres Picos dispels my momentary lack of conviction and commitment to bring you the greatest recommendations on this particular web site. Or, was it the company and the third glass? Regardless, run to the store and get a few of these beauties. There are lots left! Click on the link above and search stores near you.

%d bloggers like this: