Tag Archives: Chateau Ste. Michelle

Dusty and The White Daily Slosh

16 Apr

Born on this day in music history. 1939 –  Dusty Springfield. Outspoken, courageous, and a damn fine singer.

What to drink on the first patio of the Spring?

If it’s red wine you crave, see my recommendations for reds in the April 18th release here.

If it’s whites, I’m going to suggest two options: fresh, crisp and light – think oysters, tapas, potato chips; and full-bodied and creamy – think chicken, buttered popcorn. But all these you can drink on their own, as well.

hugelWhen I drink whites in warmer seasons, I try to pick something that has a bit of edge to it. So, from the mainstream, that means Muscadet, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling to me. From the lesser available whites, that means Gavi, Assyrtiko, Albarinho and others. The edge just seems to make lyrical sense in warm weather – plays off the food that we tend to nibble on – it refreshes. This week, there’s a favourite Alsatian pair from Hugel & Fils (members of the Primum Familia Vini). 2012 Hugel Riesling #042101 $24.95 is a cool, lean customer. Just an aside: when Harry Potter was the rage, they had these JellyBelly candies that tasted like awful stuff. I can’t remember the names of them. Did you ever eat those? And, when you thought that the jelly bean actually tasted like grass, ear wax, etc., you had to wonder how you knew what that tasted like in the first place. I mean, you haven’t ever eaten an earth worm, have you? My theory? It tastes like it smells and we’ve all smelled ear wax (old Uncle Stan), grass, dirt, earthworm. Smell drives our taste. I say this why? Because this wine has a distinct stony taste, particularly on the finish. How would I know what stones taste like aside from the fact that as a small boy I put stones in my mouth? Stones, granite, slate have a very distinct smell and that explodes and changes when they are wet after a warm rain. I love that smell. Well, this wine is mostly citrus on the nose but in the mouth and on the lip smacking finish, it says stones and maybe peaches. But, it’s the stoniness that I like the most. This is a pretty classic take on Alsatian Riesling in my limited experience. Like über dry Riesling? This is for you.

gentilHugel also brings another crispy white to the party this week. The 2013 Hugel Gentil #367284 $15.95 is a blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer, Sylvaner, and Pinot Blanc. Hell, you’re partway to the Wine Century Club just drinking this one wine! Now, confession: I haven’t had this vintage of the wine. I’m going on past performance (’10, ’11, ’12) and the reviews for the 2013. But, if you’re wanting an extra dry white with a floral lift, a little more fruit in the front, and a crisp finish, this is a great white for you. I like it mostly as a sipper – reception type of wine. Pre-big boy wine. Interesting phenomenon – I’m told that a lot of folks like to start the evening with one glass of a light white like SB, Riesling, or unoaked Chardonnay before they dig into big reds. They don’t really like whites but nonetheless, it’s a process that’s de rigeur. Anyway, the Gentil has always been one of the ‘go to’ whites for sipping in the warmth of the sun. If you’ve never had an Alsatian blend like this, pick this one up and let me know what you think. A wine geek observation – I love the Hugel labels – classic.

chardsmNow for the full-bodied, creamy stuff. Nothing screams creamy like an oaked Chardonnay. The under $20 Chardonnay that I love (OK, The Director loves) is 2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay #232439 $19.95. This is just such a consistent label. Year after year it brings about the perfect weight of oak and butter for me. What I call a Goldilocks Wine – just right. Being a little less oaked, it avoids tropical and inserts citrus and the typical apple flavours instead. Medium, slightly creamy finish. Great food wine – BBQ chicken if it isn’t too spicy. Or, just pop a cork (or two) of this as you sit on the deck with friends (imaginary ones are great listeners, I find).

Cheers.

Bill

Remember: If you want to check availability at the mother ship, click on the wine’s link (stock number and price) and check your town/city in the drop down menu. Easy.

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.

 

 

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