Tag Archives: Greece

Apologies and The Red Daily Slosh

30 Jul

Why this song today? It was playing as I typed? A little Cancon? Celebrate the late great Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Pops Staples? Or, maybe just to hear one of the all time great songs with Mavis Staples joining in? All of the above, baby!

perrinrrFirst, apologies are in order. To those in the LCBO’s grasp, it appears that the French rosés that I recommended last time out were in short supply. Sorry, mea culpa, excuuuuuuuse me. If you were jonesing for the Tavel, there is a great substitute made by Perrin et Fils – 2013 Perrin et Fils Côtes du Rhone Réserve Rosé #719062 $15.95. And, you’ll note that it’s cheaper than the Carteresses and Apogé. Secondly, to everyone – I mistakenly used the wrong accent on the ‘e’ in ros(e) throughout my last post (and, potentially throughout my whole website?). I used l’accent grave quand l’accent aigu c’est correct. I try hard not to make mistakes and sometimes I fail due to fatfingering or just not seeing the obvious to others. It’s hard proofing your own stuff. This time my 5 years of French failed me. Rather than ‘search and replace’ every mistakenly used l’accent grave, I am going to leave it alone and simply bear the scars of continuing critical emails and comments. On to some Red Daily Slosh. This Saturday’s release features California, Greece, the Loire, and Alsace. So, it would be vinous gymnastics to speak to all these regions. Especially when I’d have had to have tried them all. Suffice it to say that you should take a wander through the aisles and see what might interest you, if I haven’t mentioned your sweet spot.

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Where can you find great value in red wines? Chile, that’s where. There are the Concha y Toro’s Casillero del Diablo and the Cono Sur labels in the general listing aisles and almost every release a few smaller order wines that provide great QPR. This week, there’s an interesting camenère – 2011 Santa Alicia Gran Reserva de Los Andes #093831 $15.95. Carmenère is the sixth Bordeaux grape but isn’t farmed there anymore. These days it appears, for all intents and purposes, to be Chile’s exclusive grape. As The Church Lady would say, “Hey, Chile. Aren’t we sssspecial?” I quite enjoy carmenère and over the years I’ve recommended a bunch of these but never this particular one as it came at you pretty hard – a bit confused. Maybe if I followed vintage descriptions and ratings, I would have realized that the 2011 was going to be a ‘prettier’ wine. Kind of made me smack my lips and that means, for me, that it was good with food. It’s a great change up from cabernet-based blends, if you are a score chaser it scored 91 at the Wine & Spirits (my fav wine mag), and the price is right.

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Another Chilean wine that over delivers is the Montes line. Just about all their wines are reflective of the region and wine making traditioins of the country. Their entry-level pinot noir – 2011 Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir #037937 $14.95 – is a great low-priced pinot. Although the term ‘limited selection’ is probably an over reach. OK, I went to their website – I was curious. They made 35,000 cases! Even though Montes is very big, I don’t equate 35,000 cases with the term ‘limited’. I will ramble on the confusing labeling of wine at a later time. Despite the mislabeling, this is a great inexpensive pinot noir. Juicy and balanced with great red fruits and not cluttered with the sweetness that plagues a lot of the cheaper pinots (this one has 3.49g/l residual sugar). I’d think a good wine to take to a “stand around arguing” party. Boutari Naoussa

When I say, “Greece”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Red wine from Naoussa? That’s right, me too. Weird how that works. The quintessential QPR Greek red in most vintages is Boutari Naoussa. The 2009 is no exception. The 2009 Boutari Naoussa #023218 $13.95 reminds me of a northern Italian red – just gives me that impression. Light in your mouth, balanced everything and, although the write up I saw said oak influences, I didn’t find them. It’s pretty pure and Old World good. Have with some pork souvlaki, marinated feta, and olives. Or, if you don’t like olives (I know people who don’t, gasp), maybe something else Greek – grilled octopus? But, if you must and you wish a rounder, more modern wine keep reading.

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A repeat recommendation that’s back – 2011 Talamonti Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #204016 $15.95. This is a surprisingly styled MdA. It’s international in style. Not one rustic edge. It’s gentle, round, bigger at first than after a sip or two – warm but not through alcohol – buy one and hope that they’ve got more when you run back. Because you will. Now, I’m going to step a bit outside the ‘daily’ price point on two very fine wines.

Spain is my weak spot. Well, along with Rhone, Tuscany, Niagara, Washington. Let’s just say, I’m awfully weak. But, Spain breeds such personality into their wines. Not sure why that happens but I bet I could read up on it. This week, one of my all time favourite petaloswines in this price range hits our shelves – 2011 Descendientes de J. Palacios Pétalos #675207 $26.95. In past years, I’ve raved about this wine here. But, this vintage surpasses all others IMHO. It’s just got its act together. Committed to your enjoyment with a big woosh up out of the bowl – big nose – fruit that I can’t definitely land on and mushrooms and anise.  I’m not really worried about what fruit I detect. Because if after I’ve had a swish, sniff, gurgle and swallow, I say quietly, “This s**t is great!”, I know all I need to. The wine is not nearly as heavy in the mouth as in the glass – not quite full-bodied and it’s as smooth as Joan Rivers’ visage. OK, that doesn’t really make me want to have this wine either. So, let’s just say it’s really smooth.

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And now for something completely different. Different than the Montes, anyway. This week’s Kiwi pick up for Bill (I picked up the Staedt Landt last week) is the 2012 Akarua Rua Pinot Noir #295592 $24.95. I like the acidity that Central Otago seems to carry. This wine has that but in balance with some wood influences (vanilla?) and tree fruit. FYI, if I wanted to be a real wine writer, I would have used the term ‘stone fruits’. Both terms really don’t mean much to most people. So, I’ll back up – the fruit is most like cherries to me – but, darker – like black cherries. This is a superb food wine but if you drink alone like I do, just have it by itself. I know that I’m always upselling you guys but this is a wine that you can feel comfortable splurging a bit on. Talk to you later this week.

Down By The Ribero – Red Daily Slosh

16 Jan

H3csI penned a post about the end of the calendar year and my first year writing this blog. But, after reading The Hosemaster of Wine’s rant on end of year posts, I declined to post it (click on his link – right banner – to read his take on end of year lists). One of the things that I did mention in that post is that I am going to drink more North American wines. So, lets’ kick the year off with one of my favourite North American red labels – 2011 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon #210047 $19.95. This is from the guys and gals that bring you all kinds of value wines from the Northwest, Chateau Ste. Michelle. I sometimes eschew (always wanted to use that word) ‘big’ wines. This is the exception that proves the rule – it’s pretty big and I love it; like I love John Goodman and Katie Webster. It has a smoky aroma and a smoky taste – even maybe meaty taste. It has a little heat at 14.5% ABV that I could detect on the nose even (which sometimes means a lack of balance to me) but this wine’s large enough to handle it. Dark fruit. I’d let it air out a bit or pour it through one of those wine gadgets you received for Christmas. And, have some burnt meat with it – steaks, ribs, BBQ chicken. Or, going out on a limb here, just pop and pour – forget about the fuss and drink alone, like me.

balbasI know, I know, $20.95 doesn’t qualify for a daily drinking red at my house either. But, this isn’t really a splurge and it might be the best $20.95 you’ve spent in a while. Well, since the 48 pound box of Tide at Costco? The 2001 Balbas Reserva #085183 $20.95 is a wine that I’ve recommended before and they’ve stocked up again at the LCBO. Plus, it won’t give you a hernia like the aforementioned Tide. They’ve done all the aging for you, it’s balanced, all nonsense integrated and working together, with a splash of acid that makes it very food friendly. It has leather both on the nose and a bit in the mouth. It’s grown up, mature – although gracefully so with a few years left and it’s settled on being one of the better value Ribera del Deuros available at the monopoly. I have purchased this wine on three occasions, same vintage and all, over the last 4 years and when I ran out, I cried, I hated myself for not getting more. So, seeing it once more on the shelves means a caselot, I fear. I want to love me; not hate me and I absolutely love this wine!

boutarigrI was sitting with a bunch of archaeology grad students last night and they were talking shop and Greek wines came up. The consensus was that Greek red wine was not so great. “Maybe when you’ve spent 10 hours in the sun crouched over a hole in the ground,” Bill says, demonstrating that he really doesn’t know what archaeologists do. But, there are many good to very good Greek red wines and many are made by Boutari. Hitting the shelves this week is the 2007 Boutari Grand Reserve #140111 $16.95. This is a full-bodied Naoussa red (one review says medium-bodied but I disagree) that’s chewy, ripe and full of fun stuff that everyone won’t agree on. I like it’s cedary, long finish and the fact that it’s lost a bit of it’s edges over time without being flabby. A challenge to those Greek red wine critics – pick this up and change your outlook. BTW, the Santorini Assyrtyko whites are fab too.

A wine that is coming in this weekend that I’m going to try:

perinet2005 Mas Perinet Perinet #143453 $16.95 Priorat wines that appear on these shores can be pricey. It’s a ‘hot’ region right now and the buzz is leveraged with higher pricing, I think. So, a Priorat wine with good pedigree that costs $16.95 is a good way to introduce/reacquaint yourself with this region. Love the label!

Feeling Good – The White Daily Slosh

28 Aug

kellyleeA few weeks ago, I said that I would get back to my music links and I gave you JJ Cale earlier this week. I wanted to continue by mentioning the best concert I attended in the last three years or so (at least back to the Leonard Cohen night which I’ll leave for another time),  KellyLee Evans. Thought I’d promote her a bit – click here to hear this exceptional performer. So genuine, so generous, so much fun, so talented. If you ever get a chance to see her live at a jazz festival near you – don’t miss it. A disclaimer – she gave me a hug at her concert!

Now to the White Daily Slosh – with an interloping sparkler.

laileychardMy first brush with Lailey was hearing about it from Arlene. She had attended a cooking class at Kiss the Cook and Tanya Lailey (and I may have the first name wrong) poured their wines while Chris Squires hammed it up and made something spectacular, as always. So, I made it a point to get myself to Niagara and see what the fuss was about. I did, and it has remained one of my always-go-to wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I even make sure to recommend it to people who ask me what wineries to drop in on. The people are great, it’s more like a cellar door than many of the others – informal, understated. The wines are some of the most consistent performers year-in-year-out (for me the pinots, cab blends and chardonnays). They have mid-term cellaring potential in many cases (we still have a 2008 Brickyard Chardonnay that’s got some time to go, I suspect). They also try innovative things like using Canadian oak to age their pinots. So, if you’re heading to Niagara-on-the-Lake to catch some wineries, dinner and a play, drop in to Lailey along the Niagara Parkway. Say, hi from me, someone that they have never heard of. This week, the 2011 Lailey Chardonnay #193482 $19.95 graces our shelves. I’m not sure it isn’t always there but I guess the LCBO has taken some time to highlight it – good thing. This chardonnay has some acidity to carry what the Vintages Panel calls ‘ripeness’. I’m not sure I understand that term as I taste the wine itself. It seems like it’s trying to be Californian (a bit buttery) but knows it’s really cool climate and doesn’t give in to the temptation of being all about the fruit (more stony and appley, which is a fruit, I admit). I think just the right balance to please the big chard hounds but subtle and structured enough to please the rest of us. Simple. Nice finish too.

santoNow, when wine wankers (apologies to the real Wine Wankers) talk about terroirs they many times mention the soils of Santorini and Assyrtiko wines. To quote Wine & Spirits magazine – “Santorini is a rugged, sun-baked half-ring of tufa – the remains of a volcano responsible for one of the largest eruptions in the history of the earth”. Now admit it, none of us knows what tufa really is (Hell, spellchecker says it isn’t a word) – but I think we get the gist. If you’ve been, and I see a few nods out there, you’ll agree that Santorini is one of the most spectacular places on this earth. For the grapes, the vines are trained in a tight circle on the ground and it’s hard to believe that they could manage to survive let alone provide any fruit clusters. So, from this stark and challenging climate – you get a wine that sings to us about its home. Sounding a bit philosophical here but then again, I’ve had two glasses of Aglianico and if I want to philosophize and cry a little, I will. 2011 Santo Assyrtiko #627760 $16.95 – get it every year – with memories of overlooking the cauldera – minerally, but with loads of fruit and flavour. Bigger than I remember most Assyrtikos to be. It is a foundational hot weather wine. Serve cold with seafood, simple tomatoes and eggplant and/or saganaki – OPA!

A wine that I’m going to pick up but haven’t had is the 2011 Finca la Emperatriz Viura #342766 $15.95. I have had only a handful of Viura wines. But have had the same grape under it’s French name, Macabeo, in white wines from the Roussillon area. It’s light, can be fruity and usually dry and crisp. Why don’t we all enjoy a bottle and talk amongst ourselves next week?

auntsfieldSometimes, I hear people say that they have a ‘go to’ wine. When pressed, it sounds more like the only wine. Is it because it’s safe? Hell, all wine is safe! Now, in our house, I have to make sure that there’s some oaky chardonnay hiding somewhere in a cool spot. But, it isn’t always the same label. So, when I heard about a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc fixation, I felt compelled to respond and provide some type of gooseberry Nicoderm to wean this person from her addiction. I mean Kim might be her entry level drug but she needs to move on! I thought it best to just try sauvignon blanc from someone else.  So, let’s start with one of my favourite, usually available, kiwi sauvignon blancs – 2012 Auntsfield Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc #663286 $19.95.  This is such a complete wine. It’s pretty dramatic in the glass, swirling around and providing great aromas of citrus and gooseberry – maybe a little tropical thing too. Full in your mouth and what I’ve come to know as New Zealand’s stamp of freshness and flavour – too good. But, I discovered someone who might be better equipped to tell her about New Zealand wines and that’s a blog called What’s In The Glass Tonight. I’ve provided a link here to her great blog and review of Marlborough wineries.

malvoltiI’d think that most of us are ambivalent towards prosecco. It’s alright and suits a situation – but we can live with it or without it – no biggee. The first time that I had a prosecco that was more than that was when I visited Jennifer and Andrew and he served Carpenè Malvolti Cuvée Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore #727438 $15.95. This is a dry prosecco. Now, by that I mean – dry. But that doesn’t mean that it’s uninteresting. I’d say that it brings enough soft flesh (or stone) fruit to keep you quaffing. The biggest compliment I can bestow is that it’s a two glass Prosecco.

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