Tag Archives: Cotes du Rhone

Word Power and The Red Daily Slosh

28 May

“When you hear the call you have to get it underway.” Ah, the 80’s and meaningful lyrics.

How many times have I glowingly recommended a red from the Southern Rhone? Go ahead think about it. Take your time scrolling through my posts. I’m waiting………… OK times up, ‘a lot of times’ is the correct answer. I love ‘em and assume that you do as well. They can be well-priced, adaptable to different situations, and, most importantly, almost always tasty. This week’s release features these wines among the 80 or so that are being featured.

Time out for a little recondite wine info. Like that word ‘recondite’? I looked up on Thesaurus.com and Dictionary.com. Recondite: little known; obscure: a reondite fact. If I use it three times, it’s mine – Word Power, baby!

The classification of wines from the Côtes du Rhone is eerily similar to that of Beaujolais. At least that’s how I try to keep all this stuff straight – by comparing and contrasting. The basic Southern Rhone appellation for reds, whites, and rosés is Côtes du Rhone. We’ve probably all had a red Côtes du Rhone. And, if we’ve had more than a couple, we’ve noticed a broad range of quality. Some truly great wines and others plonk. The next step up is the Côtes du Rhone Villages which means that the grapes come from one of 95 communes, many of which we don’t see over here. And, another step up is a village with its own terroir – a cru. They will show up on the label. The cru villages that we see most often include Gigondas, Vacqueras, Cairrane, and Rasteau. For all the reds, Grenache is dominant (at least 40%) with a supporting cast mostly of Syrah and Mourvèdre. I love the Grenache, the Granacha (Spain), the Cannonau (Sardinia). Rosé is from almost everywhere here but the best come from around the villages of Tavel and Lirac and are labeled accordingly. Recondite discussion over. Although it wasn’t really that recondite, was it? Three times!

ferme du montLet’s start in the très economical range. The 2012 La Ferme du Mont Première Côte Côtes du Rhone #251645 $14.95 is a cousin of a wine of which I’ve recommended several vintages here – La Ferme du Mont Le Ponnant. The Première Côte is smooth, jammy with moderate tannins – that’s the Grenache. Absent of any woody stuff – it’s aged in concrete tanks. I’d think that you could serve this as a red-in-the-sun wine. You know, there’s always someone who doesn’t drink whites or rosés that’s taking up space on your patio. Pour them some of this. That doesn’t mean that it can’t take food or couldn’t pass for a winter wine. I’m just thinking that it isn’t winter right now and we are all over tapas and appetizer style eating. I bet you’ll like it at this price.

ortasThe 2010 Ortas Prestige Rasteau #985929 $19.95 shows us that all Grenache dominated wines don’t have to be low-tannin, fruit first wines. This has a dry profile with Syrah pepper and spice. Great BBQ or stew wine. It’s had time to figure it all out and is comfortable with its life – kind of like me. Nice balance – unlike me.

monteslspnThe Montes Limited Selection label brings pretty good value. I’m thinking there’s probably a million cases of the ‘limited’ selection but I’ll let that paradox go. The next rung up is the Montes Alpha line and, if you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll know that I’ve recommended a bunch of Alphas. This week there’s a wine I think you should try – 2012 Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir #037937 $14.95. Pinot Noir tends to be pretty bad at the lower price range and that’s effected a lot of people’s perception of the grape – they just don’t like it. Have to agree that cheap Pinot is pretty lame or just too thin and bitey. This one is clearly a cool climate pinot – alive with acidity, freshness and red fruit. Nice tang on the finish. A wee little chill wouldn’t hurt. Let me know what you think.

nicaloFinally, BBQ season has arrived in The Great White North. If I wasn’t suggesting below that you get the Visa out, I’d suggest that you pick up a case of the 2013 Tedeschi Capitel Nicalò #984997 $17.95 for your next mess of grilled chicken or burgers. This is a Valpolicella Superiore from the usual suspects – Rodinella, Corvino, and Corvinone. The grapes are dried out lending a deep quality to the flavours and a raisinated sense to the nose. It’s a consistent performer. The 2013 carries some tobacco and black cherries on the nose and that’s replayed on the swallow and finish. Good tannin and acidity to pair with burnt meat or those Portobello mushrooms soaked in Balsamic and grilled to perfection. Great value.

Wines that I’m picking up untasted:

pagigondas2012 Pierre Amadieu Romane-Machotte Gigondas #017400 $27.95If I had to pick one village cru that has been my favourite over the years, it would have to be Gigondas. I haven’t done the geological analysis of terroir so I’m not sure if it’s just the luck of the draw, the producers that I’ve had access to, or if in fact Gigondas is a superior village generally. I find that the best ones can be like mini Chateauneuf-du-Papes – more accessible and flowery though. Or, is suggesting that there might be ‘mini’ C-d-P’s the statement of a wine heretic? I know this is outside the Daily Slosh range but don’t you deserve a bit of a treat tucked away down below for a special moment? That’s my rationalization, anyway. And, it works in keeping my cellar moderately sated.

auntsfieldSpeaking of treats – 2012 Auntsfield Single Vineyard Pinot Noir #361246 $29.95 – I loved, loved, loved the 2011 of this label. I hadn’t really sliced and diced the appellations for Pinot in New Zealand with the exception of understanding Central Otago’s brand a bit. But, last year, when I had the 2011, I did a little taste research into Marlborough Pinots. I do this for you, my readers. It’s very gruelling work but I soldier on. For me, I found that the Marlboroughs I had seemed to be a little more clearly defined red fruit and, although they carried minerality, not near as much as Central Otago, nor as lean and powerful. I’d say a gentler, more accessible Pinot. Here’s hoping that this is half as great as the 2011.

Thanks to Jancis Robinson and Karen McNeil for fact checks.

Word Up.




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

21 Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ku, kukukukukukuku!

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

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

Malbecs Face Off – Red Daily Slosh

23 May

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

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

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

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

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

%d bloggers like this: