Tag Archives: gamay

Family Day For A Wino – #Sunday Sips

27 Mar

family

There’s an artificial holiday in Ontario called Family Day. I believe Don Getty while Premier in Alberta was the first to think that we wanted to spend time with our family. Seriously? What family do you live in? Eventually in Ontario, politicians didn’t want to appear anti-family values, so now we too have a Family Day here.

The Director and I took the opportunity to head to Niagara for a quick look see at some of our favourite wineries. It was a shitty day weather-wise and promising to be horrid by nighttime – sleet, snow, freeing rain.

First stop was just off the QEW on the outskirts of Grimsby at Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery. I don’t believe that I’ve spoken about this winery.  They have an exceptional restaurant in an old Victorian house with the winery Visitors Centre in a newer building. The tasting room (below) is generously appointed with the usual tasting bar, knick knack displays, hewed wood beams, etc. They have a pairing menu of artisanal cheeses and/or chocolate. FYI, most wineries in Niagara and all that I’m mentioning here have a reasonable tasting fee ($5 – $10 which is $1.50 US) that they wave with purchase.

penridge

Tasting Room at Peninsula Ridge

Reds

2012 A.J. Lepp Vineyard Reserve Merlot $18.95 I tend to shy away from Niagara single variety Bordeaux wines – they just don’t seem to get ripe enough – showing green pepper too much. This Merlot had but a hint of that – telling you it was Niagara born. Full-bodied, plummy with firm tannins. Needs time or a long decant to really open up.

2012 Reserve Syrah $24.95 That’s right a Syrah from Niagara. You’d think that it would thrive here. But only a few wineries grow it. This was far and away the best of the wines I tasted at Peninsula Ridge. Peppery, smoky, balanced, solid tannins, long finish. Loved it! I bought but only one bottle as this was the start of the day and, alas, gave it to my sister-in-law as part of a birthday present. Which means I’ll have to return soon.

Whites

2009 Beal Vineyard Chardonnay $18.95 Pen Ridge has a very successful non-oaked Chardonnay called Inox #594200 $14.95 usually available at the LCBO. This one, however, was touched by oak. Nonetheless, the thing that I noted most was the acidity on the finish – not large oak influence. Apples, citrus. A very nice Chardonnay for patio and potato chips.

Peninsula Ridge’s web site: www.peninsularidge.com

Next we trundled to Jordan for lunch. We ate at a new (at least new to us) eatery called Jordan House Tavern right on the corner. Now, you might ask, “What corner?” Well, you clearly haven’t been to Jordan. They’ve done a really nice job at the place. Refurbished an old warehouse-style building. Menu a bit of a blend of roadhouse and English pub. Good selection of craft beers and local wines – I enjoyed a local 20 Valley Cream Ale with my wings – it screamed, “Cottage!”

Then it was off to some more wineries. We stopped at a couple places (nothing notable) en route to Tawse. This is one of my faves – the wine is just so consistently excellent and the venue, staff, etc. are top drawer.

Here’s a great video on how they operate. Take some time, watch it and you will want to head there to taste what they create. Lauded by Decanter magazine, Canadian Winery of The Year multiple times.

Whites

2012 Tawse Estate Chardonnay $37.95 Tawse Chardonnays have a kinship with those of Burgundy. In fact, Tawse has vineyards there. This white was perfectly ready to quaff. Melon, apple, and some oak influences on the nose and in the mouth. Long, lip smacking finish.

2012 Tawse Quarry Road Chardonnay (certified organic and biodynamic) $35.95 This was notably more mineral in character than the Reserve – almost stoney in places. More restrained on the oak influence. Certainly not Chablis in character but definitely leaning toward ‘less is more’. Loved it!

They had a half case of Chardonnays unavailable in single format that The Director decided she needed. Looking forward to cracking one for our Easter dinner today. FYI, the case held- 2011 Beamsville Bench, 2011 20 Mile Bench, 2011 Celebration Chardonnay (this wine was served at the i4C in 2015, I believe).

Reds I love Tawse Pinot Noirs and may have expressed this opinion several times on these pages. They are structured, lean, powerful, and even I can pick out the nuances of the different cuvèes. Which, according to the video above, is the goal here.

2011 Tawse Quarry Road Estate Pinot Noir (certified organic and biodynamic) $34.95 Spice, liquorice, and menthol on the sniff and the swish. This is quite mineral with darker red berries – big, smoky and a long finish. Great effort!

laundry2011 Tawse Laundry Cabernet Franc #130997 $31.95 OK, I know I’ve sung the praises of the Burgundy varieties at Tawse. But, really, if you want to get a sense of the winemaking, this is the test. This is an Old World Cab Franc. Bursting with life both in the glass as you swirl and sniff and then – pow – you get a hit of the mint and black berries. This is Sean Penn – intense, a bit rough around the edges, purposeful, story telling. Love it! Needless to say, it was an expensive day at Tawse.

Off we went with our car listing a bit due to the extra weight. West on King Street and a hard left up the drive to another of my faves – Malivoire. Malivoire has a cool vibe. Where Tawse is somewhat opulent, formal, Malivoire is more playful, experimental. The winery is set into a hill with a quonset hut styled metal roof. This allows a gravity fed operation. Malivoire hit it big a number of years ago with a unique bottling – Old Vines Foch. It became a cult wine. They’ve since got everyone to pay attention to their overall prowess and the many different wines they craft. I seem to annually recommend their Ladybug Rosé #559088 $15.95 (having as a pre-dinner sip with Easter dinner) and Guilty Men Red #192674 $15.95 but tasted other wines this time.

Malivoire tasting room entrance Spring

Malivoire Tasting Room entrance Spring

White

2011 Mottiar Chardonnay $29.95 Tropical and toasty on the nose (I’ve seen ‘brioche’ used but definitely not confident in that until I’ve brioches a bit more). Vanilla, roundish stuff in the mouth with a nice crisp finish which was a surprise given the smoothness of the rest.

2011 Chardonnay $19.95 Although this wine is available at the LCBO #573147, I’m not sure of the vintage currently in stock. I kind of like this better than the more expensive one above. Can’t put my finger on it. This might have a little more zip in the mouth. Flavour profile as far as fruit and oak elements very similar but less tropical more apple. More food friendly. Not that I didn’t love the other – just saying’ for $10 less, I could get 5 bottles of this instead of 3 bottles of the other. Oops, let the cat out of the bag.

2013 Rennie Vineyards Christine Chardonnay $35 I don’t quite understand the relationship between Maliviore and Rennie. Rennie is a family owned and operated vineyard on the Bench, In any event, there clearly is some symbiosis of vineyards if not cross-pollination of staff as well. This wine is a beaut! Can we talk? Frequently New World Chardonnays are one-dimensional – they’re naked, they’re not, they’re round, they’re crisp and acidic. This wine defies some of that. I don’t claim to have a sophisticated palate. For instance, I can’t tell the difference between Maduro tobacco and just plain tobacco. Or, Montmorency cherries from, well, regular black cherries. Mea culpa. This wine, however, helped me to relax and just let it come to me. There was an overall feeling of bon ami. OK, what it really tasted like was a bit tropical – pineapple – an alcohol bump (14%ABV), and the best finish for the whites we tasted that day – medium length, citrusy. It’s a warmer wine than the others, if that makes sense.

Red Here’s where it gets fun at Malivoire. I mentioned above the Old Vines Foch. Let’s start there.

Background Note: My father was a home fermenter. He made wines from anything that could be constituted as fruit – dandelions, sour cherries, etc. But, he also was part of a cooperative venture that purchased fruit from Niagara and everyone got together, drank last year’s stuff (I was a DD) and crushed, fermented, and eventually bottled their wine together. I remember his Marechal Foch bottling as, well, almost the same as all his other bottling – hint of sulphur, very fresh, fruity and light. And not to speak ill of the dead, but it was pretty lacklustre. Not suggesting that my friends and I didn’t poach a few of each case – just sayin’. Now, fast forward to Malivoire’s 2013 Old Vines Foch

2013 Old Vines Foch $24.95 I remember this wine in previous vintages was one of the most unique reds that I’d ever had from Niagara. This doesn’t disappoint on that score. In the gurgle and swish, it feels French to me – Southern France – kind of Grenache-ish. And I love Grenache!  ABV 12% which avoids any heat – chocolatey goodness. You get a sense of power with this wine. I love it now like I loved it before (Fleetwood Mac lyric? Help me here). Dad, wish you could taste it.

2014 Small Lot Gamay $19,95 Gamay might be making a comeback. I read a great review of a Cru Beaujolais by a fellow blogger, Jim VanBergen, you can read it here. To paraphrase, Jim sang the praises of natural wine and how smashing a particular naturalBeaujolais from Morgon was. I also read a piece in a recent Wine Enthusiast about Gamay now being made in Washington. Interesting to watch the ebb and flow of the popularity of grape varieties. hard to keep up. Malivoire has three Gamay bottlings – a single vineyard (Courtney – $25.95), a generic ($17.95), and a Small Lot. The Small Lot is a fun, fresh cherry bomb. This is all about the fruit with just a hint of grassiness hiding on the finish. I bought a few and am waiting for the first Spring weather day to open with apps – yes, I have an app for Gamay. Chilling this wine for a few minutes wouldn’t hurt and would add to it’s refreshingness. Refreshosity? Refreshmency? Love this wine!

We left Malivoire, raced down the QEW to overnight in Hamilton just beating the freezing rain. Watched it all from our room with one of our purchases chilled and popped. I like Family Day.

That’s our day. In the next month or so, I’m going to put together my ideal wine tour of Niagara so that you can benefit from my swings, misses, and home runs.

Cheers.

Bill

 

Front-On, Dude – The Red Daily Slosh

13 Feb

This is for the February 15 release.

barI read a bunch of bloggers (actually a ‘barrel’ of bloggers is the proper term when they write stuff about wine) that do a great job of educating readers on the world of wine. I’ve been at this ‘real’ blog thing for a year and a bit after three years of a newsletter, and the penny just dropped – I recommend wines, ramble about stuff, but it is frequently the same stuff nothing new or educational. I know this because I did a statistical analysis of my recommendations, collated the wine tasting terms used to describe these wines, and applied an algorithm to evaluate the variability of wines and their characteristics. These were further divided into quadrants that represented sixteen different experiences and price points. The graphic analysis is below. OK, I couldn’t copy the chart from my Excel worksheet. But if it was below you’d notice that I have never used the term unctuous.

cytcarmenereSo, let’s start the Red Daily Slosh with a repeat recommendation (that didn’t last long, did it?). Technically, it isn’t a true repeat because it was a different vintage before but…. Anyway, it’s the 2011 Concha y Toro Winemaker’s Lot 148 Carmenère #030957 $18.95. They say that this is an Ontario market-only bottling. Don’t get too excited because they just call it something else elsewhere, I’m betting. What’s carmenère? An opera whose title is the victim of a fat-fingered typist? No. Actually, it is a traditional Bordeaux grape that they don’t use much, if at all, anymore in Bordeaux blends. It migrated to Chile and other regions where it was thought to be merlot (Chile) or cabernet franc (Italy). Interestingly, the mistaken identity came to light when it appeared on an episode of Maury Povich (Who’s The Father of My Baby, Merlot?), had a DNA test, and found out it was, wait for it………………gasp, carmenère! It’s Chile’s answer to Argentina’s malbec in that it is arguably done best and definitely most frequently in Chile. Usually medium to full-bodied, dark, and yummy. Cheaper versions can be a bit sweet and creamy a la cheap malbec but good ones are chewy, edgy and great burnt meat wines. The Concha y Toro above is the latter – the full-bodied and yummy one. It’s syrah-like spicy, dense but some edge to make it feel less ‘heavy’ and has some bush on the nose and in the mouth – woodiness. Love it. Tannins are smoothing out nicely. I think that, if you’ve never had carmenère, this would be a great place to start. If you have had it, do it all over again with this wine from the most complete winery in Chile.

charvetI’d like Spring, please. Yes, it’s a bit of a bugger here with temperatures in the minus 20 Celsius range many days. And, what will we see on the shelves this weekend but a Beaujolais. Wait, isn’t Beaujolais a better warm weather red? Well, it can be but this is maybe more a shoulder season Beaujolais. More substantial and serious. The perfect wine as we wait out the shitty weather. The 2012 Domaine Gérard Charvet La Réserve d’Amélie Moulin-à-Vent #356741 $20.00 would be a bit expensive for a common Beaujolais. But, this one is worth the splurge, IMHO. This is strawberries and even some darker fruits on the sniff – pure and straight forward in the mouth but I don’t mean one-dimensional; rather purposeful – it sneaks up on you on the second swallow and the second glass is even better, duh. Make sure it isn’t too warm – basement temp is best. I’ve recommended a bunch of Beaujolais (mostly for Grant) and love the Cru Beaujolais. Moulin-a-Vent is my favourite. Hurray for Beaujolais! Spring can’t be too far away.

gamayAnd while we’re sipping on gamay why not try one of the better versions of this grape from Ontario. The 2012 Malivoire Gamay #591313 $17.95 is always good value but this year it is a bit deeper with darker fruit than usual. Not sure if they allowed the grapes to ripen more or it just worked out that way given the vintage. This would be a good gamay-off with the Beaujolais above. This one a bit lighter. Buy them both and re-familiarize yourself with the two faces of gamay. I really appreciate the consistency of Malivoire at all their price points. I had this at the cellar door and I encourage you, if you’re down that way to make Malivoire one of your stops.

foretThere’s a club that I’ve mentioned before called the Wine Century Club. It requires that you drink wines that represent 100 different grape varieties. This week there’s a grape that I haven’t knowingly had – negrette and I think it might be my first catalogued wine for WCC sainthood. The negrette grape is mostly found in southwestern France – this one is from AC Fronton (hence the title) 2010 Chateau Bellevue la Forét #354134 $13.95 . They say it’s “hearty old-school”, brambly, and goes with an Olivier salad. I think that they have confused me with someone who knows what an Oliver salad really is. We’ll see. Try one with me and we’ll compare notes.

That’s all that I have any positive perspective on for the weekend.

Music accompaniment – Last time I included a video of Cream and a friend wondered why I made the Eric Clapton reference in the lead up, because he didn’t recognize Eric in the video. Why not? He’s the old worn out crooner isn’t he? Nope, he’s like 18! So, I’ve included one this time of Cream and an iconic song, again – Eric is in the red. He’s not Eric The Red but wearing the red Sergeant Pepper knock off.

Barrel picture from wikipedia

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