Tag Archives: France

People Get Ready – The Red Daily Slosh

5 Nov

One of my best live music memories was seeing The Funk Brothers with my son at Ronnie Scotts in London several years ago. So, when I saw this video – great song, one of the all-time best guitarists, smoking vocalist, and it’s at Ronnie’s, I couldn’t resist. Who are (were) The Funk Brothers, you ask? Only the biggest selling band in the history of recorded music, is all. Go ahead and Google them, I’ll wait.

Winter blows in to town in these parts  for serious (last phrase un homage to my home town) in about a month. And that means stuff to do. The great thing about having all sorts of closing up and winter prepping chores is the reward at the end. I’m not sure about you but I like to work a glorious fall weekend day outside, cleaning gutters, bagging leaves, putting stuff away, and then coming inside to reward my hard work. The reward can be a scotch, a local craft beer, microwave popcorn, or a glass of wine. Sit by the fire and watch the squirrels plundering my newly filled bird feeder – bastards! What I’m trying to say is that there are all sorts of reasons to reward yourself with your favourite beverage or nibble. Solve that Sudoku? Pop a cork. Discover the origin and proper use of diacriticals? Pop a cork. Unblock your formerly blocked plug-ins? You got it. BTW, the part above about liking the weekend chores is B.S. But, the squirrel hatred is too true. Despise them above all else. The point? Pick up a couple bottles of those wines mentioned below and reward yourself.

caliterra2How many times have I recommended a carmenère? Technically, in wine blogger terminology, ‘a bunch’ is the answer. A bit more than ‘many times’ and less than ‘lots’ of times. Why that often? I like carmenère and, frankly, it’s my blog. The 2011 Caliterra Tributo Carmenere #56630 $16.95 was featured in the last release and is a bit of a surprise. Carmenère is usually dark, full-flavoured, full-bodied. This Tributo is more instantly approachable and not quite as heavy or full-bodied as I’ve come to expect from this grape. It has some herbal character and it feels more European than Chilean. I’ve got it – it’s not as ripe as the usual carmenere gang . Big flavour, no heavy mouthfeel. I really like it. Lip smacking acidity. At this price and versatility, it’s a case lot possibility.

bertrandcorbieresI’ve spoken about Gérard Bertrand before. I wanted to recommend his Saint-Chinian a few months back (still a few of those available at First Canadian Place and Oxford Street, London – fabulous, baby!) but must have run out of space or ambition. The May 2014 edition of the Wine Enthusiast had a nice feature on Gérard’s take on the Languedoc-Roussillon, his estates, and his wines. His own personal history as well as that of his wines is firmly rooted in Corbières and the village of Boutenac. He has grown his enterprise to include several parcels including Domaine l’Hospitalet, a wine tourism destination in the Languedoc – check out their jazz festival. I know that I raved about the viognier and the Saint-Chinian so maybe you’ll disregard the following as simple groupie-ness – heaven knows he is plenty cool enough. But, bear with me. The 2011 Gerard Bertrand Terroir Corbieres #394288 $18.95 is a recreation of the better red wines that I drank while in that region. Only it accomplishes all this without the benefit of the influence of a cool sidewalk bistro in Narbonne. It sheds some of the ripeness and confusion of many wines from Pays d’Oc that we’ve all had. It has a streak of stoniness in the glass but is pretty fruit-ful in the mouth – an interesting combination. Tannins evident but in the background. Dark, medium-bodied. Opens up quite a bit after awhile in the glass. Technically speaking, it’s yummy. But remember, I’m trained to use such terminology and I’m biased. It’s a GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre) and they all seem to be great cold weather wines. What’s that stew that I love but have never made? Cassoulet? That’s the match.

scallops

On The Twenty scallops

cavespringcfMy last post was about winery hopping in Niagara and I mentioned that we ate at On The Twenty in Jordan. I had a glass of local cab franc with my scallops (OK, it was two glasses but they were smallish). I know that cab franc and scallops doesn’t sound like a great match. My philosophy? Drink a wine you like with food you like and it will match up just fine. But, you would be right if you thought that the cab franc would be a bit too too for the scallops. That cab franc? 2012 Cave Spring Dolomite Cabernet Franc #391995 $19.95. The great thing? The Cave Spring tasting room and retail is connected to the restaurant. Of course I needed a bottle to provide a little remembrance of our great meal. This wine is an excellent example of Niagara escarpmentish cabernet franc. Medium-bodied and presenting more shrubby characteristics than fruit ones. Herbs, spices, a streak of acidity, and enough tannin to support it all against any meaty food. Actually, this wine needs food to show its stuff. Doesn’t have to be big food – scallops? Pass on the scallops and try a spicy chicken dish or something fattier.

HHH3A few posts back, I said that I’d provide some wines that have better availability through the Vintages Essentials program. Well coincidentally, I was reading a post on www.snooth.com about ‘go to’ steak wines. Different wine writers including The Drunken Cyclist and, I believe, Julia Bailey, weighed in with their faves. To my surprise, one writer picked the Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills (H3) Cabernet Sauvignon #210047 $19.95. Now, I don’t mean surprise as in “WTF are they thinking?” but more, “That’s actually an available, affordable wine.” I guess I was expecting everyone to talk about Silver Oak, Alexander Valley or a well-aged Left Bank Bordeaux. BTW, the latter I have but can’t bring myself to open. Who is special enough to share it with? Anyone? The H3 cabernet sauvignon is an elegant steak wine at an affordable price. Great hostess/host gifty or BYOB at a neighbourhood BBQ.

FYI, another good value red is 2012 La Posta Angel Paulucci Vineyard Malbec #075515 $15.95 a mid-weight malbec with some backbone.

Images courtesy of:

http://www.vintages.com

http://www.caliterra.com

http://www.cavespringcellars.com

http://www.innonthetwenty.com/dining

Rainbow Daily Slosh

11 Oct

I read a piece by Eric Asimov courtesy of Charles Scicolone that talks about the issue of expressed bias in wine criticism. Great piece. Question: Should a wine critic attempt full neutrality or should they allow their biases to come through as long as they are declared? If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll know that I have many biases and hopefully, they’re expressed clearly as I expound on the wines that I love. In other words, if you don’t know me by now….Also, I’m not often talking about wines that I don’t care for. So, even by exception, you’ll get to know my preferences. But, that doesn’t mean that I think there are wines that you ‘should’ drink and wines that you ‘shouldn’t’ drink. Well, that’s not true. I do think some wines need to get a pass. But, I don’t judge – drink what you love. And often. Just consider the wide world of wine and once in a while take a jump in the deep end. I’ll swim with ya. If you’re interested in reading Eric, I’ve linked to Charles’ reblog of Eric’s piece here.

I’ve had difficulty getting to white wine recommendations. The same goes for sparklers. So, I decided to incorporate all colours into this post. I’ll try and make it short, he says as a long and winding idea comes to his mind.

Sparklers

carpeneDo you have friends that like to open a bottle of bubbly as you enter their kitchen? No? Then get some new friends. Our friend, Suzie B. loves her Prosecco and frequently is itching to open a bottle. That opportunity presents itself when you cross the threshold. I’m not complaining mind you. I initially had trouble warming to Prosecco, however. I found that the category was a bit watered down – non-descript. I found the same thing with Cava a few years back. I just got tired of the product just got less interesting and fun. I said it was me not them and we went our separate ways. Well, that all ended when my friend, Andrew, introduced me to Carpenè Malvolti Cuvée Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore #727438 $16.95. This is a very dry Prosecco with some minerally components……OK, it is my favourite Prosecco year-in year-out. Period. Why? Way more fruit (white flesh), controlled, tight bubbles, and a nice kick at the end. Balanced. I think Suzie will love it and I’m hoping she’ll pop it the moment we walk in the door. Hey, Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend. A perfect time to pop and pour one of these.

Red Daily Slosh

langagarnachaLast year, I featured the 2008 vintage of the 2011 LangaTradicion Centenaria Garnacha #194795 $14.95. It was well received by all my readers (several? – well, more than ten). This vintage is a bit stricter – more evident tannins than Grenache usually presents. If you like garnacha (grenache) like I do, you’ll appreciate this well-priced wine with some real food. Think Cotes du Rhone and you’ll get the garnacha vibe. This one appears more mature than the vintage suggests – some stewing of the fruit and a little earthy, smoky thing going on particularly in the glass. Great value!

villamedoroWhen I see a repeat bottle in the ‘New Arrivals’, it bugs me. What’s ‘new’ about a wine that was available a year ago? I feel betrayed by the mother ship trying to sneak an old friend through as the new kid in town. Then, I’m conflicted. Do I recommend again? I loved it before, why not show it some love again? So, here goes. The 2009 Villa Medoro Rosso del Duca Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #357160 $18.95 is a nice big MdA. My previous review here. But, I know you’re lazy and don’t want to click here and there to get your news. So, to quote myself (December 2013), “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.” Just a word to the wise. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo’s are not your shy Italian wines – subtle, intellectual, requiring you to draw them out. MdA’s make a statement – simple and straightforward. I love ’em.

mommyRemember Mommessin? It used to come in two formats – red and white. It was a litre and a half, dirt cheap, and French too. One of the neat discoveries that I’ve made over the years is that some of these big French box wine style companies also make tasty and even vineyard specific wines too. Bouchard et Fils, Louis Latour, and Georges Duboeuf Come to mind. Mommessin works like that too. They please the masses with some straight up red and white in big bottles with thumb holes and make some great, distinctive wines as well. This week, the 2012 Mommessin Domaine de Champ de Cour Moulin-a-Vent #430876 $19.95 fills that niche. Distinctive, that is. Moulin-a-Vent Beaujolais is more….masculine than most other Beaus. It has a structure that doesn’t really say Beaujolais to most people but still brings the fruit that we love. This one is in that vein – solid tannins and acidity carrying some fruit (hiding a bit still – give the wine some air) and a country feeling – think of sitting on a piazza watching those little white (read: rusty) pick-up trucks that they have in Europe filled with freshly harvested grapes bombing along, heading to the winery for crush. Sip, nibble something local (cheeses?) and remember how special it is to be there. This wine is perfect for that image.

White Daily Slosh

spyvalleyThe white wine that used to carry the most controversy was chardonnay. It’s too big, too creamy, too woody, just too too. Now we are inundated with unoaked chardonnay and that’s supposed to be what we want. Sorry, I don’t like most of them. Now, I’m hearing some of the same disputes about sauvignon blanc – too ‘cat pee’, too grassy, too gooseberry, too big, too big, too big. OK, time to take a break from dictating what a wine is supposed to be like. Style is a matter of taste. Please disregard my opening paragraph – I reserve the right to be contrary. I don’t like bow ties. Really think they look stupid – especially on television personalities. Who the hell was that Charles guy on CBS? That does not mean that they aren’t ‘true’ ties. No matter what styles come and go, bow ties are still legitimate ties. And, no one is compelled to wear them or like them. Where was I? Oh, sauvignon blanc. I think that the most controversial sauvignon blancs come from New Zealand. They aren’t shy usually. Have an abundance of bite, fruit, and grassiness. Maybe a bit over the top for some. This week there’s one that I think does all that respectfully. It isn’t shy but not dominating the conversation either. It’s grassy or herby – I can’t quite decide which, an assertive nose (Jimmy Durante?) and packs an acidic punch. I quite like this style. The 2013 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc #686675 $18.95 is that wine. I’d suggest that you not drink this as a sipper. It needs some food. I’d say seafood (shrimp?), salads, limey Asian stuff.

Wines that I’ll pick up:

clarkeSpent an interesting post-golf round discussion about wine with John. He told me that he doesn’t know that much about wine but loves red Bordeaux. Especially those that have a bit of age. Sounds like he knows everything that he needs to know. There’s a perfect mid-priced red Bordeaux on the shelves this week – 2009 Château Clarke #503904 $37.95. I went to a Bordeaux Futures tasting one year for the ‘03’s. My friend and I wandered about tasting red after red. Near the end of the night whilst removing the sock from my mouth, I tasted the ’03 Ch. Clarke and thought, “What the hell, it’s one of the lowest priced ones and it tastes like every other at this point.” And also thought, “I think that I’d better stop drinking….I mean, tasting, now.” I bought a bunch and watched it evolve over a few years. It was great value. Not a long cellar candidate. But very nice. I can’t speak to this vintage specifically but I think it’s pretty safe to say it will reward a little time and a modest investment for a Bordeaux. John, go for it.

Pink is the New Black – New Red? – New White?

25 Jul

The background music was chosen due to my return from vacation after weeks of research for the blog. Feel free to sing along. Because, I think that’s a big part of the attraction of this song. So, you’ll have to excuse me I’m not at my best…….

“And, what did you do on your vacation, Bill?” Well, glad you asked. I drank a lot of wine, read a bunch of books, pretended to fix things, swam almost every day, and enjoyed the company of family and friends. Now, everything is relative and there may be a select few out there that would scoff at my characterization of my wine volume as “a lot”. But, I’m guessing most would be more likely to suggest I turn over the boat key before noon on most days. Although, I do it all for you – my 14 followers.

I thought that I’d talk about the rosè I enjoyed over the past three weeks. Loads of people out there don’t drink rosè. They say, “I only drink red,” “rosè is for women only, yea?”, or “I lived on Mateus in college, so puleeze don’t foist any on me now” (expanding my vocab – hence the word “foist”). Now, I’d agree with them if they said that they don’t like white zinfandel, peach blush, strawberry samba. But, to channel and paraphrase Long John Baldry, “Don’t try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rosè!”

On to the wines. I’ve included the usual links so that you can see what’s out there but some of these are in limited quantities – so good luck.

I’ve spoken of Tavel wines many times over the past few years. I love ‘em! A small village in the Southern Rhone lends its name to each and every one of them. They are the pink wine for red wine lovers. They have a gutsy quality that might surprise those that characterize rosè as light. Drink them cold and young. They are made as a blend of red and sometimes even white grapes – the leading red usually being Grenache. And, we like Grenache a lot don’t we? I mean Côtes du Rhone and Chateauneuf-du-Pape have Grenache as their leading actor.

apoge2013 Domaine des Carbinieres Lunar Apogè Tavel Rosè #375626 $19.95 is a perfect example of the more rugged pinks that come from this appellation. Served icy cold, it makes you wish for some solid spicy food with a hint of garlic – an arugula salad was what I had – it was verrrry nice. It’s a bigger wine than the other pinks I’m speaking of today. So, stop the “I only drink red” BS and pop a cork on this biodynamic (Demeter certified) wine.

carteressesThe other Tavel I enjoyed was the 2013 Domaine des Carteresses Tavel Rosè #739474 $18.95. This was my fav. It was a tich (is that how titch is spelled?) lighter than the one above. It also seemed to be more dark in the friuit department (field berries?) with a citrus thing on the finish. Chill this baby and sit by the lake. No lake? Sit by the river. No river? Sit by the inflatable toddler pool. On the patio under the umbrella? You get it – get outside with this wine. If you’ve had a glass of pink while on vacation in some Mediterranean clime and thought to yourself, “This is the perfect wine for here.” Well, news flash – this wine will take you back.

mariusWe’re staying in the south of France with the Chapoutier entry into pink – Chapoutier Marius Vin de Pays d’Oc #367383 $13.95. Dry, light in colour and in weight. This is a sipper. Cautionary tale: this wine is alcohol and you just can’t pour one glass after another without irrationally arguing about something that you actually, in retrospect and the light of day, care very little about – just sayin’. Crisp, cold with a touch of shrubby stuff. What to serve this with, if you didn’t take my advice to have it by itself? Go to www.mariusbymichelchapoutier.com . Now the site is en francais but if you’ve grown up with flacons de mais on your cereal box, you can easily translate (and there’s always Google’s “translate this page?”) The suggested pairing that interests me the most is the pêches rôties aux amandes.

flatrockroseNow, what would a rosè review be without sampling some of the best of Niagara. The 2013 Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir Rosè #39974 $16.95 carries a little more sweetness than the French pinks above. I don’t mean that you don’t have a little pucker but it’s fruit forward (pardon me that wine blog cliché). The wine does scream, “I’m made from pinot noir!” through it’s tea stained tannins and strawberriness. I’d suggest this for those that prefer a wine less astringent but it does satisfy a little red wine lover in me. Flat Rock attends to environmental stewardship – this product is created in an old world attention to simplicity and getting the hell out of the way. Great stuff! Very quaffable. But, as Ron Popeil would say, wait there’s more.

While you’re enjoying a rosè made from pinot noir, why not pick up the 2013 Megalomaniac Pink Slip Pinot Noir Rosè #85126 $17.95 to compare? I mean, you are going to drink at least two bottles, aren’t you? No? Are you trying to make me feel that I have a problem? Well, I picked it up and had a Niagara Rosè off. This one is a tich (there’s that word again) sweeter still but not sugary more like an off-dry Riesling might seem. It is maybe the one of all these that brings fruit right to the top of the glass before you sip. No tasting lessons required to pick up the cherry and berry aromas and flavours. So, that about does it. Wait, there’s more.

Another Niagara staple is the Malivoire Lady Bug Rosè #559088 $15.95 (on sale right now for $14.95). I don’t need to say much about this, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile. I always recommend it as a ‘go to’ rosè for those of us lucky enough to have the mother ship keep it in stock at all times.

Recap: and there will be a test. The French pinks are drier, more crisp. The Niagara pinks have a fuller fruit expression and carry a little sweetness.

And, I’ve been remiss in not acknowledging the passing of my “gateway to blues” guitarist, Johnny Winter. God bless him.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: