Tag Archives: catena

Dude, It’s The Red Daily Slosh

3 Jun

zinfandelvinehttp://www.dictionary.com ‘s slang definition of ‘gnarly’ is “distasteful; distressing; offensive; gross”. Clearly a winemaker wouldn’t use this word in the name of its wine as an attempt to be cool and current. “Buy our wine, it’s distasteful! And, it’s gross too.” So, why do we find 2011 Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin Zinfandel #678698 $17.95 on our shelves this weekend? Perhaps, it’s the non-slang meaning of the word – which is “gnarled”. The picture above sums up the connection for this wine. Zinfandel vines are: 1) gnarlysome of the oldest vines in California; and 2) pruned in a way that features big, thick gnarled vine stalks with curly grape producing vines at the top, like a head, as it were. Now, why this same producer makes Gnarly Head Merlot, Gnarly Head Pinot Noir, and Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon sans a de facto ‘gnarly head’ for these varietals is a mystery for another time. It’s just plain distressing. Getting to this wine, this is one of those consistently yummy zinfandels that brings in the fruit and the power that we’ve become used to from California zins – perfect for the backyard, round enough for standing, swilling, and arguing but with enough stuffing for some burgers or ribs. Yes, I think ribs would be great with this wine.

alamosI’m hearing grumblings that many of my Daily Slosh recos are not all that ‘daily’, price-wise. I admit to a bit of price creep over the last couple of years. But, you have to work with what you’ve got. In the spirit of shaving a few bucks off the $20 norm that I’m accused of, let’s take a trip to Argentina; which along with Chile probably brings the best value wines available in these parts. The Catena family makes wines from $9 to a billion dollars a bottle. I think that I’ve waxed on enough about the Alta line, especially the cabernet sauvignon, so I won’t bore you. This week, there’s their 2010 Alamos Selección Malbec #322800 $16.95. (image courtesy of www.mightygrapes.com). This wine is all that malbec can be. It’s got loads of personality so not insipid and monotone like that über cheap one that we all know and are forced to drink. It has a strong tannic thread through the sip, swish, and swallow. But, don’t think that’s a bad thing. It just prepares your mouth for the finish of dark fruits. Neal Martin of www.erobertparker.com says this wine has ‘chutzpah’. It certainly does.

 And, don’t forget that I recommended a couple of other Argentinean wines a while back. I bought a bunch of the Terrazas malbec and it is a great sipping wine and still around and priced right.

 argadensWhat did I say last time out? That I’d be looking for Bordeaux that comes in at the ‘daily’ range and still delivers. This week, there’s another goodie. The 2009 Château Argadens #681843 $17.95 is a great example of price conscious Bordeaux that, like all good Bordeaux, still has the legs to stand in your basement for a while. Or, let it breathe for a few hours before serving. It represents a pretty solid red with more interest and stuffing than you might expect. Buy a couple and just let them be, let them be, let them be, oh let them be for awhile (say 2 years) and see what age does to a solidly built wine. Great with red meat or sharp cheeses.

bilahautNow, when I recommend anything in the following stable of wines, the phone rings off the hook with accolades and comments about my astute wine savvy and, oh yeah, my modesty. That wine stable – the one that is oh so good – is Bila-Haut and this week brings 2011 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon-Villages #168716 $14.95! Great winemakers make great wines at all price points. M. Chapoutier makes this beauty and it’s hitting way over its weight – which proves the point. This is full-bodied and lures the smell of the south of France right out of the glass. What does Emeril say? “Bam!” Loads of fruit, plenty of woody, briary stuff and still enough tannin and acid to strike a great balance. If you love wines from this region and I see that some of you do, you can put your hands down now, place an advance order to ensure you get this red. And, yes, the bumps on the bottle are Braille. Probably a great one-liner about why and when Bill might need the Braille but I think I’ll pass.

balbasSecond consideration from an earlier recommendationBalbas Reserva. Had a bottle the other night with friends and all at the table were gobsmacked. This Spanish beauty may be the steal of the year @$20.95. It’s just so gentle and interesting. I vote for Balbas for the Red Daily Slosh of The Year (RDSOTY) and reserve the right to change my mind later on. There’s lots left in Ontario, you just need to know where to look.

Let me know if you have a RDSOTY candidate.



A Beau For The Patti-eau – Red Daily Slosh

8 May

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

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

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

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

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