Tag Archives: humor

#WBC16 – Serious Business? #SundaySips

21 Aug

The 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference (#WBC16) was held last week. It’s a big deal where wine bloggers get to meet their virtual wine buddies in the flesh, drink wine together and talk wine and the art of the blog. This year it was held in Lodi. So, tastings, tours, etc. were of that region. Did I mention you drink wine together?

This shouldn’t be construed as indicating that wine bloggers have their shit together. Bloggers are a bit troubled and conflicted.

Let me explain. Most people practicing the genre (always wanted to use that word), started by enjoying wine, being interested in learning more about wine, educating themselves and/or taking some formal structured learning, perhaps getting into the trade, and then being encouraged by delusional loved ones and friends (in my case, imaginary) to write a blog.

UmBut, here’s the challenge that we face. Wine bloggers are needy. We mistakenly think that we want to be taken seriously. We really do want a lot of ‘follows’, daily stats, even if we deny it. We might write for ourselves (so, we say) but it’s nice to know that we’re not whistling in the wilderness, isn’t it? Did anyone out there follow my suggestion to buy some 2010 Chateau Obscure? Damn, didn’t think so. We want our opinion heard and weighed. And, yes, followed – at least once in awhile. But, there’s the rub. We want all that but we don’t want to be viewed as ‘them’. You know who I’m talking about.

I took an informal poll and discovered that there are 1 billion wine drinkers on the planet (survey results have a 95% confidence level plus or minus half a billion people). And wine isn’t any more important to most of them than having an aquarium, sorting their sock drawer, and/or Bob Ross’ Still Life with Apple.. Oh, we wine geeks would like to think that most people, if given the chance to experience a vintage DRC or Ch. Haut-Brion, would come over to the dark side and ‘get into wine big time’. They’d be like, “Yes, I love, love, luuuuuve, the finish on that d’Yquem.” They’d argue the benefits of Stelvin closures. I am not shitting you – there is a debate about closures. They’d be more like us. Validate our obsession. But, aah, I’m thinking that they really wouldn’t. They really, really don’t care that much.

So, that leaves bloggers talking to bloggers, casual wine drinkers who, remember, don’t really care, and friends who are too rude to unsubscribe.

awesomBut, how does that compare to serious wine scribes? You know the names: Parker, Molesworth? Well, most bloggers truly don’t care about having that kind of Klout score. And yet, we’d like just a little more than we currently have. What blogger wouldn’t like his/her name on a shelf talker. “Duffs Wines Recommended.” I used to think that I’d love to see that. Even better, a case of wine that I recommended in a friend’s cellar. Bloggers want people to value their experiences and opinions. Who wouldn’t?

But wait a minute my blogger friends. If we did – have that much power, that is. We would be forced to do the unthinkable. Get deadly serious about wine. I mean Sauternes versus Barsac serious. Be held accountable (I’m too old to be held accountable, BTW). We would be more obnoxious than we already are. We would spit more before noon than we drink before noon now. Speaking personally here, that’s a lot of spitting. We would be subjected to full eight hour days of tasting hundreds of wines – enjoying none of them. Plus, think about having to come up with new esoteric aroma and flavour descriptors. How else to explain Maduro tobacco and fig paste?

I’m not sure I could handle it. So, although saying this is totally unnecessary, “You don’t have to take me seriously”. I know that with a few exceptions………actually, without exception, I don’t take the bloggers I follow very seriously either. I just simply really enjoy them, thanks.

That brings us back to WBC 16. I wish I could have been there. I’d love to spend time with some of my social media and wine writing peeps. I’d like to be surprised by who they really are. I might surprise some of them with my substandard singing voice and misplaced sense of self-importance (hence, this self-indulgent ramble). And we would never be serious. Well, with the exception of the closure debate. Wouldn’t that be great?

Like a Leafs’ fan, I will just say, “Maybe next year.”

Cheers.

Bill

50 Shades of Pleasure – #MWWC24

17 Apr

 

MWWC

There is a strangely masochistic exercise that wine bloggers participate in each month – the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge. It’s a hotly contested fight between bloggers for bragging rights, a bump in site visits, the right to show an image on their site that they are a winner (if I could figure out how to put that on my site, I would – ’cause I’m a winner, baby), and an excuse to open something really, really nice to celebrate victory. Oh, there are a lot of losers and the losers do not, as is de rigueur these days, get a medal for just participating. The winner gets to choose the theme for the following month. Last month’s ‘challenge’ was won by Ted masquerading as The Drunken Cyclist and he chose “Pleasure” as a theme.

nakedcameWhen I was in first year university, the writers at Newsday, feeling that anyone could write a porn, er, erotic novel, decided that they would write such a work by each writing a chapter with no knowledge of what the other writers were doing aside from there being one main character. They would then pull all the chapters together and publish it under a nom de plume – Penelope Ashe – without declaring that it was a farce. The book’s title? Naked Came The Stranger. It was hilarious and did pass for a serious attempt at erotica. Years later someone else did the same thing and called it Fifty Shades of Grey. Probably amounted to nothing. Right?

Well back then, the guys in my little suite of rooms in res, decided we were going to similarly write an erotic novel too. Each guy would write a chapter. Mine starred Stavrous Popitlouse a Greek voyeur and his young, sexually inexperienced understudy Gloria Minx. It was dark and chronicled the struggles of ………..

What does this have to do with the theme? Well, erotica is pleasurable if it’s done right even though most of us wouldn’t admit it. And, here we go.

This Last Saturday in February

She had seen him downstairs with the others a thousand times. He had always remained quiet and aloof as she approached. That didn’t fool her; she knew he was playing hard to get. Underneath it all, his power beckoned her. But it never seemed the right moment to choose him for her pleasure. She chose others instead to sate her desires. Why did she hesitate? So many times before she had thought that she had found ‘the one’ only to get distracted with his individual traits and nuances – his body, his nose. In those moments, she didn’t allow herself to get lost in fleeting ecstasy rather she was distracted by it. Be it the lingering tastes in her mouth from her partner’s core or the later task of analyzing and populating her personal journal with tales of conquest.

In his case, she just knew that he demanded her full attention – no reflection on past conquests, just full surrender to him. Could she ever commit to total subjugation? It frightened her and it also excited her. Control had been hers but what would happen if she let go? Her body ached when she considered that possibility.

The last Saturday in February in 2016 was a cold day. She had decided that she would crawl inside her solitary world and reflect on her loves, her life, her needs. But, she couldn’t concentrate. In front of the roaring fire, her loose clothing felt constraining. She tore off her sweater, her toque. She was on fire. She could feel his heat – his allure was calling her downstairs. As the wind rattled the dining room windows, she fought with her inner demons. Why? Why couldn’t she resist him? What hold did he have on her very soul? Why now? What did this day, the last Saturday in February, have to do with her unbridled lust for him? What would she lose by being one with him, surrendering to his perfection?

She rose from her chair, kicked off her slippers to feel the cool of the tile floor on her naked feet. And, she slowly descended the basement stairs with lights off. She didn’t need the naked glare of the swinging light bulb (that’s ‘naked’ twice now) to know where he hid – urging her to find him. In the dark, she reached out among all the others; communicating to him with her touch, and then tenderly grasped his naked (3 ‘naked’s) waist with her shaking fingers and pulled him to her quickly in a violent act of need. He could not possibly understand her lust. Or, could he? As they ascended the stairs together, her heartbeat accelerated. It was pounding in her ears, her silkily clad breast heaving, throbbing, throbbing. Oh yeah it was throbbing, baby.

Her arousal increased seemingly beyond her physical control. How could she stop the throbbing (promise I won’t use ‘throbbing’ again)? Her hand brushed across the sweat on the nape of his neck. She could feel his power even then. She sensed his taut muscularity, his stoney resolve, the seductive potential of his unfettered explosion in her mouth. Oh, he had remained cool and aloof so long that she had trouble concentrating on the task ahead. She was yearning to taste his juices. How would she open him up to her need? She must.

But she paused. Then what? What would this conquest leave? No more possibilities of a moment with him. No what ifs. No more mysterious ‘him’. It would be done. Over. She would know him and he would be gone as all the others before him. Her fantasies of what could be – gone.

Oh hell, she pushed on – possessed. Held him close. Felt him hard and stiff against her cool skin. She knew that he could sense her need. She had bared her very self to him and he was teasing her, taunting her.And then she became impatient. She wanted to dominate him, own him, consume him. She violently ripped the blood red covering off his neck. But how to open him to her advances? He wanted it too.

Editorial Note: The protagonist’s knowledge of the target’s participation is portrayed in this account as consensual for literary purposes. Those at home should seek and gain clear consent before violating the seal of their prospective partner. No means No. OK, where were we? Oh yeah.

Kinky pleasure device

Say no more. Say no more.

She grasped his neck and forced (read editorial note above) her steel device into his mouth subjecting him to her need. Twisting, twisting with no complaint from him – just a tantalizing squeak, squeak – sweaty, slippery acquiescence to her desires. Her heart raced, her lips wetted in anticipation. She needed him inside her. Then she tugged on him, tugged again and then a gasp from him. YES, YES, NOW! She couldn’t hold out any longer. She needed to find her climax. She tilted him to her mouth. His essence poured out over her.

Thunder boomed and lightning flashed to reveal two bodies entwined as one. She let out a low throaty sigh as she realized her goal. He was inside her! He was hers! “Oh my”.

As she lay back exhausted, emotionally and physically spent on this night she strangely didn’t feel alone. There was a sensation that others across the globe had that night experienced the same thing as herself. But then again, let’s face it. It’s pretty well chronicled what a great bottle of white Burgundy can do for a woman on a cold night. Who the hell needs a man?

grey

Wine Beliebers – Friday Ramble

7 Apr
biebs

Yes, it’s kinda sad really

I read an interesting piece at http://www.cbcnews.ca about Justin Bieber’s new dreadlocks. You can read it here. It was about the non-entitled appropriation of the culture of others. The others, in this case, being the owners of the dreadlock franchise, I guess. Dreadlocks R Us? Marleyville? Reggae-A-Rama?

My first response to any complaint about Justin, a lad from just up the road in Stratford, is that The Biebs is a young, spoiled brat and that whatever he has done is most likely wrong. But on this point, we need to ask, “Do dreadlocks constitute cultural property? If so, who owns the right to that property? Is it proper for others without that particular cultural passport to wear them?”

Now you didn’t think I was going to answer those questions here, did you? It’s a wine blog. Instead I want to discuss the cultural appropriation that has been and is still occurring in wine and whether, just like The Biebs, it might be culturally insensitive and just plain wrong

Here’s the thing:

When I started to appreciate wine in the early 70’s it was all about Europe. European wine had many identities and all were über sophisticated for a young lad. My earliest fine wine memories?

Monsieur Corndog

Monsieur Corndog

A lunch with a former high school teacher and her husband in Ottawa. They introduced me to white Bordeaux – Château SomethingOrOther. Really – Château avec l’accent circumflex? That had to be good shit, right? And then there was my first year room mate – a grad school Vietnam War deserter and Westchester County trust fund baby – providing me instruction on the proper wine to pair with corn dogs from the cafeteria vending machine. The wine was red and from the Dordogne, wherever the hell that was. Corn Dog Pairing Tip: Grainy Dijon mustard, preferably Maille, is the key to pairing this delectable snack with an earthy, rustic red.

Back then, it was all Europe with the rest of the world trying to catch up. But, then something happened. A serious wine culture developed in North America, at first primarily in California. And it was specific to that place. We all know about the Paris thing in the 70’s. That’s where the wine world was gobsmacked by the upstart Yanks………….yada, yada……….vous plaisantez j’espère?

Jump ahead in wine evolution to the 80’s and early 90’s and the proliferation of wineries in Napa, Sonoma, Lodi, Mendocino, etc. and the style of those wines at that time (and please don’t shoot me on these broad generalizations) – Chardonnays were big, buttery and heavily oaked; red wines were big, hot, fruity, and heavily oaked as well. And, they sold buckets and buckets of these wines – many priced in the relative stratosphere – to critical acclaim from the US wine intelligentsia – read: Parker. The UK wine establishment? Not so enthusiastic about them. But, the world’s biggest economy and the largest opportunity to grow wine sales had voted. It loved these big brawny beasts.

What were Messieurs Arrogant Frog and Fat Bastard to do? Wait, I kind of gave it away there didn’t I? I’ll try again.

arfrogWhat were Messieurs Petit Clos and Domaine de Coûteux to do? Well, they along with their UK wine writing co-conspirators railed against the sacrilege of making such inappropriate wines. They lost market share. They didn’t change. They lost some more market share. And then, they decided that big and fruit forward (high scoring wines) was their thing too. Oh, they didn’t go all in. But, on balance, they did change it up. And, here’s where I connect The Biebs. You were waiting for that weren’t you?

Doesn’t that make them culture appropriators, if that’s a proper noun? They did it publicly and not even begrudgingly. Even the Italians, to a lesser extent, decided to trend towards (and I’m using the Euro euphemism here) an ‘international’ style in their cuvées.

So, is that the end of it? All wine trending toward metaphorical dreadlocks. Screaming Eagles everywhere? Of course not. Nothing is consistent but change.

What’s happened? Well, Washington State, California, Prince Edward County, Niagara, and the rest of the New World over the past decade or so, seem to be looking to a more terroir-driven style. Wait, that sounds like what the Euros were doing before they got knocked off their game – making wines that spoke of place. Even the word ‘terroir’ is French for crying out loud. Now, who’s appropriating who?

To quote The Armchair Sommelier, “Le Sigh.”

So, before the moaning resumes about The Biebs and Kim K. rocking the dreadlocks, let us first support our neighbours to the south and boycott European wines. After all, they stole the equivalent of the wine cultural capital of California. Il sont les imposteurs. And, while we’re at it, since the New World is now seemingly appropriating the cultural property of the European wine establishment – terroir, maybe we need to boycott New World wines too. And what about the new wines coming from China? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge – ya think they might be knock offs? Duh.

banwineWhat did I just say? Boycott all wine? All that tasty yummy wine? ………Well, maaaaaaybe there’s another way to make our point on cultural appropriation that doesn’t cost me so much pain. Boycott The Biebs and other non-wine cultural appropriators! Yes, BOYCOTT THE BIEBS! BOYCOTT THAT WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM! Our point will then be sufficiently made. Right?

Cheers. Have a great weekend!

Bill

 

 

 

Even A Bad Wine Deserves a Second Chance – #MWWC22

17 Jan

hockeybag

There is a strangely masochistic exercise that wine bloggers participate in each month – the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge. It’s a hotly contested fight between bloggers for bragging rights, a bump in site visits, the right to show an image on their site that they are a winner (if I could figure out how to put that on my site, I would – ’cause I’m a winner, baby), and an excuse to open something really, really nice to celebrate victory. Oh, there are a lot of losers and the losers do not, as is de rigueur these days, get a medal for just participating. The winner gets to choose the theme for the following month. Last month’s ‘challenge’ was won by Jill of L’Occasion and she chose “Second Chance” as a theme.

Now, I haven’t been entering an effort into these challenges lately. Not sure why………OK I do know why. I’m lazy, distracted, thinking that blogging isn’t helping me self-actualize and become the man I’m supposed to be. Question: what the hell will? Help me self actualize, that is. But, this theme hit a nerve. It woke up my creative juices, my imagination and two finger typing urge. Here I go.

MWWC

I used to organize and lead wine tastings with a bunch of work colleagues and friends. For each evening, we had themes – regions, varieties, just about anything that allowed for some semblance of order. I’d choose the wines based on theme, price point, and a little adventure.

For one such tasting, we had decided on a broad exploration of Italy. So, I trundled off to the mother ship and picked up the usual suspects – among others, a Prosecco, a Sicilian Grillo (love the Grillo! Can I convince you to try a couple?), a Verdicchio, a Chianti Classico, a Primitivo di Manduria,  a Valpolicella Ripasso, a Moscato d’Asti, a Barolo, and a Brunello. The last two I picked from my cellar. Now, here’s the risk all wine ‘guys’ run. We all think that there are wines that are better than others based on wine geek celebration, price, and cache. We fully expect other people, if left to blind taste them, will agree with our assessment- roughly at least. So, by bringing in one of MY Barolos (about a decade old I seem to remember) and one of MY Brunellos (probably about the same age), you run the risk of your snobby bias being exposed – ’cause I love those wines. No, you must understand that I truly love paying the price for these wines. And, who wants to be wrong when they have a cellar full of evidence of the fact of their error.

Well, we began with the whites. Moved on through the reds. When we started to experience and talk about the Brunello (we were to discover it’s identity later), the person next to me, after a quick sniff, said, “This is horrid. It smells like my son’s hockey bag.” I tend to dismiss much of what this woman says – apologies to JT – but……it did smell horrid and reminiscent of my son Nathan’s hockey bag. And, consequently, not a soul at the table took a sip.

timhortonNow, in Canada, there are universal experiences: weather is a classified topic of discussion (premiere eeew, duexieme eeew, etc.); we seemingly only hang at one coffee shop which we call by a dead hockey player’s first name; and, we have all smelled the inside of a hockey bag. It’s a right of passage for a parent who can afford to equip a young child with armour-like apparel, get up at 5:15 am to take his/her aspiring NHLer to a freezing arena (as if a machine crafted coffee is going to comfort you there), and struggle amid tears and protestations to get the skates that you thought were the right size on this bitchy reflection of yourself. I’m sure soccer parents, football parents, etc. have the same type of stories. But, they do not…..I repeat – do not….have the bag.

I’ve since checked out my numerous wine books, Jancis, Hugh, Karen, etc. but I haven’t found the term, “hockey bag”, in any of the tasting notes. That could be because it takes a highly trained and experienced nose to pick the nuanced notes of leather infused with the body odour of a teen male. Or, just because it’s only truly evident in a certain wine – a Brunello improperly stored too long? Or, a wine needing a bit of a breath before it says,  “Hello”?

So, wait. What usually happens at these events is that as a few people wander off (short hitters), the remaining folks keep talking and it becomes a bitch-about-work and drinking event. And, usually, there’s enough wine left to feed that beast. So, about an hour and a half after the wines were poured, some brave soul (probably mistaking it for the remaining Barolo which was friggin’ fantastic), took a sip from the glass that contained the Brunello. “Hey, folks……….” “(Louder) Hey, shut up and taste the Brunello.” Which we all did. The funk, if I can lovingly call it that, had blown off and the wine was exquisite – deep, leathery, cherry pie. OK, I lie about the cherry pie – I can’t exactly remember. Suffice it to say that the wine was a beaut. And if not the unanimous ‘fave’ of the night, the second ‘fave’ for sure. Lesson learned.

So, if you bought several bottles of a certain wine only to discover on opening the first that it was shitty – relegating the remaining bottles of it to sit scorned by the rest of your cellar. Or, you open a wine to discover that some aroma or taste is interfering with its enjoyability factor. Just be patient and give it a second chance. You have nothing to lose and you might learn something – I just hope it isn’t that you discover the o-dear of the hockey bag. Because that is not the lesson here.

Reality Shows And The Rainbow Daily Slosh

11 Dec

I have been horribly remiss in keeping up with the mother ship’s releases. I have an excuse but won’t bore you with it. There really is no excuse for not writing about wine.

But before I wade in on wine, let me rant for a bit. Totally unrelated.

“Hi, I’m Bill and I’m a recovering insomniac”. I used to get about 4 hours of sleep a night and sleep walk through work (hopefully none of my former paying clients read this). Over the past couple years I’ve been able to get a good night’s sleep. However, the other night, I just couldn’t get to sleep. So, I wandered downstairs and sat in the dark, which is my theory on insomnia – do not do anything that might interest you or keep you awake. The fact that I unsuccessfully applied this theory to a raging case of insomnia for 20 years leads me to believe that it doesn’t work.

weddingringsIt wasn’t working this night either and I turned on the tube with a commitment to not watch anything interesting. I rolled the remote until I got to A&E – nothing ever interesting there. What’s this? I thought the show I landed on was a comedy – a spoof. It’s called “Married at First Sight”. I fully expected Dana Carvey or Will Farrell to show up. But, it wasn’t an SNL parody – it’s a show about a ‘social experiment’ (their term). If you haven’t had the displeasure – here’s the premise:

  1. Relationship experts (who, it appears got their degree through night school from GetADiploma U) choose two people to get married. These people have never met each other. Seriously, never…..met….each other
  2. Then the two have a  full blown wedding with reception, family members, etc. attending.  I am not shitting you. They don’t see each other until they’re on the aisle – staring at each other and wondering, “WTF have I got myself into?”. The pastor actually talks about marriage being a ‘sacred bond’. But he neglected to add, “Brought to you by Ford.”
  3. Then after dancing the night away, the couple go away with a thousand cameras and live together for awhile with the help of marriage counsellors, I assume, as I just saw previews. And, we get to follow their completely dysfunctional life. Only highlight might be suggestive sexual scenes. ‘Cause folks, they kind of luv each other. Then wait, Tom likes his peanut better on top of the jam instead of underneath – and now, no, they don’t luv each other.
  4. They return to meet with the ‘experts’ that put them together and make a decision – with drum roll – what will Marie and Tom decide – commercial break – fingers crossed that they……oh damn, they’re staying married.

Seriously. Who thinks this shit up? I mean a cable channel is selling Palmolive – “Tough on Grease” on the backs of people who are so needy that they volunteer their time to be on a show like this. And, it seems, aren’t evenly mildly embarrassed. Plus, people watch it. Who are those people?

Well, when you wonder how people can be attracted to Donald Trump or line up on Black Friday for hours for the single 60 inch television that’s on for $50 and then stomp on old ladies to get to it, remember that the lowest common denominator is really, really friggin’ low. Unbelievably low. Lower than something that you might think is exceptionally low – think that low to the power of 10. Did I say it’s low? Not to mention the total waste of an hour of one’s finite life to stare at this train wreck.

Enough, Bill, Stop! Point made.

OK, wine. This Saturday, there are a number of good to very good to great wines. Let’s start with the whites:

cavespringI’ve had three Chardonnays from this release that I quite like. They are different from each other but that’s the point in drinking – well, other than the buzz. The first: 2013 Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay #256552 $18.95 I enjoyed at the cellar door in Jordan. Now, if you’ve never been to Jordan and you love (in no particular order) tasting wine, eating great food and tagging along with the woman you love while she shops (I’m two out of three), this is the place for you. The Restaurant, On The Twenty, is nothing short of spectacular in ambience, presentation and, most of all, the food. Back to this Chardonnay. This is what I would call typical Niagara Chardonnay – apples,  citrus, crispness and a very judicious use of oak. I think an afternoon (or morning) Chardonnay – clean, fresh. You should come home from work pop and pour this youthful Chardonnay. Enjoy it with stories of unpopular bosses and unreasonable demands. Skip the nibbles unless it’s salty.

featherstonecochardonnayThe next one is from up the street from Jordan. The 2013 Featherstone Canadian Oak Chardonnay #149302 $21.95. Did I say “Canadian Oak”? Yup. The first time I heard of this was with Lailey and their Pinots. The ‘Canadian’ addition didn’t seem to make a difference to me and I think that they’ve ditched the approach there. This one, however, has something different going on – it’s round, more tropical on the nose – hey, enough with the wine smack. Let me describe this wine in a different way. Say you’ve had the wine above – seductively lean and agile (Tatiana Maslany) and you swirl this in a glass. The first impression – Rachel McAdams – friendly, comfy, soft and…………well, I’ll let you make the connection. Very nice effort! Maybe Canadian oak is a keeper.

whillThe last Chard is the 2013 William Hill #437251 $19.95. This is pure California and is a hit at our house where The Director craves creamy, buttery Chardonnays against the flow of unoaked madness. It’s not sickly buttery – just enough to please those that like the cream. It also allows for some pairing with chicken stuff. If you like Chardonnays like La Crema Sonoma Coast, Charles & Charles, you’ll like this a lot.

santaemaRed wines? Oh yeah, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention. Thank you verrry much Paul Anka. There are a lot of very good reds at a price point that isn’t exactly in line with “Daily”. However, if I were to pick one up that would surprise the big spenders it would be the 2012 Santa Ema Amplus Cabernet Sauvignon #076301 $19.95. This wine comes across as a long, complex wine. Why? Because it is. Long and complex, that is. Love this stuff! If you love wines that kind of blend the Old World funkiness with the New World fruit and power – this is it. I felt not so much relaxed as curious with this wine. Another sip brought another take – that makes  good wine. Buy a case!

franceNow, can I ask you to stretch the “Daily Slosh” budget? Go ahead and check with your significant other, I’ll wait………OK, are we clear now? Let’s wade in. Bordeaux is about the best thing that France has ever created. OK, there’s Brigitte, and “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” but that’s about all that surpasses Bordeaux. I’m not alone in this assertion. Every expert wine lover agrees with me. Note to those that don’t agree: keep it to yourselves.

This weekend theres a very nice Bordeaux from a great vintage – 2010 Château Escot #431767 $25.95. I had this wine a while ago and my notes reflect “BARGAIN”. At least that’s what I said then.. I’m not thinking it’s cellarable for long but that’s the attraction at this price – drink it now – or wait a couple years max! This is bigger and fuller than I expected. This wine brings the a vibe of a much more expensive, experienced Bordeaux – not as big on the funk – not a perfect Bordeaux as you have to pay for that – complete for this price, though. I give it 379 on my scale of 248 to 417. Wow.

bertrandI am going to sound like a broken record here but I take solace from my fellow wine bloggers. We all have our faves. So, I shouldn’t feel creepy recommending the same winery all the time. My faves are Susana Balbo and Gerard Bertrand. This week, there’s Gerard’s (can I call you Gerard?)  2011 Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Pic Saint Loup #376491 $18.95. I may have recommended this before but am too lazy to go back through my posts. Suffice it to say that there is something about Languedoc that just spells great drinking wine at a great price. Oh, there are some suspect Languedoc reds out there but when they’re done well, they are great. This appellation is one of my faves – so Bill faves times 2. This wine is a candidate for a case for the season. Hard to not appreciate, presents the flavours of the region – a little lavender on the nose – some stoniness on the finish. I have a man crush on Gerard. I’ll leave it to you to decide if you do too. Burn some pork with herbs and enjoy this one.

lucenteOK, let’s talk small splurge. Some time in life we need to feel special. I know that I do, every day actually. As much as I try to affirm myself a la Stuart Smiley, I usually need to open a better-than-daily-slosh bottle of wine to tell myself, “I’m good enough……..” This weekend, pick up a bottle of one of the best second labels that Italy has to offer – 2013 La Vite Lucente #747030 $34.95. This is a classic Toscana – loads of red fruit, smooth but with enough acid and tannins to say, “Let me breathe or put me down and step away from the bottle.” This one would be special with your mother’s spaghetti and meatballs now or decant for a few hours and serve with a simpler pasta – fettuccine con olio d’oliva e aglio. Better yet, cellar this guy for a few years. You won’t be disappointed.

Now, back to reality TV. What kind of reality show could we produce that’s about wine people? How about four wine bloggers live in a house together with four cases of wine? We’ll call it……….Big Blogger? No? OK, we follow a third generation extended family of migrant vineyard workers in California. Called Real Pruners of Napa Valley? Wait, I’ve got a better one –  cameras follow me around in my bathrobe as I sip, type, nap, and sip some more – Real House Wines of London – now, that’s the ticket.

Cheers

Bill

The ‘Best’ Red Daily Slosh Ever

26 Apr

Spent the night at a friend’s last weekend and after about a zillion bottles of lovely wine, we started to play tunes from our smartphones with the intro, ”No, you’re wrong, this is the greatest rock and roll song of all time.” It ranged from Jimi Hendrix through ……well, I can’t quite remember. Since then we have been emailing each other with second thoughts on the matter. I know the Dead (above) is an jeffbeckacquired taste but I couldn’t help it; I love ’em and that was one of my potentials. I think it’s probably either something by Jeff Beck (left) or The Allman Brothers Band. I’d tell you what the others were pimping but frankly, they were wrong. So what’s the point? It got me to thinking about wine and the use of superlatives. If we can argue about ‘the best ever’ in something as important as music, why aren’t we arguing about wine – as in the best wine ever? In my case, I like just about any wine if it’s been made with passion and attention to detail. And, probably it’s a harder call when you’ve loved a lot of different wines. But still. There must be a wine that is the ‘best ever’ for Bill. The wine that after several bottles of lovely wine you’d argue is the best wine that there is/was, hands down. I don’t have a best ever wine. And, I bet not many others do either. Why is that? Now, before you comment below that Wine Spectator has a Top 100 of The Year and Wine and Spirits has a Best 100 Wines and so there is, in fact, a ‘best’. Let me remind you that WS has a ‘top’ wine and Wine and Spirits simply offers the best wines by varietal for the year. Nowhere does anyone say, “This is the Greatest Wine of all Time (apologies to Cassius Clay)”. Why doesn’t Bill have a ‘best’ ever wine? I’m not asking because I have the answer, BTW. I just thought that I’d stimulate the mind before I dulled your senses with my recos and inane banter. Too late?

It’s a shortlist of Red Daily Sloshes from the May 2nd release. Haven’t tasted many in this circular.

Out for dinner the past month at The Church Key in #lndnont and we sat at the bar and chatted up the bartender and the owner. Got into a discussion about the tastes of patrons and their tendency to stay glued to a single wine. No experimentation, no taking the waiter’s recommendation, or just picking something different on a whim. Fierce adherence to the varietal and, even more importantly, the label. In this case, we were discussing McManis Cabernet Sauvignon. In this town you can’t dislodge ‘em. Can’t stretch their palate (too condescending?). Just make sure you’ve got it in stock. Now I know that people should just drink what they loves and I should leave them alone. So, I’ll drop it. Maybe one last thing before I do; you don’t eat the same meal every time you go out to dinner. Do you?

terra nobleI was a ‘by-the-glass’ guy that night and tried several nice reds. One of those glasses was 2011 Terra Noble Gran Reserva Carmenère #957050 $18.95. Well actually, two of them were. I’ve recommended this wine in other vintages (when I was newsletter only) and have bought a case lot before. Bear with the wine geek talk for a sec – it’s really good. Maybe I should elaborate. This is smoky on the swirl and sniff with little red fruits barely peaking their heads out. In the mouth there’s chocolate, cherries, and a hint of oak. What was that chocolate candy thing that came in a box? Lowney’s Cherry Somethingorother. Of course, it’s not sweet like that but it’s what I think of. A balanced Carmenere – great sipper or with food. Buy it!

There are wine labels that just seem by their appearance to tell you where they’re from. I’ve coined the term “label terroir” for this short essay. Some Burgundy labels have just so much stuff on them about where precisely they come from that you know they’re from a Clos de Pricey and you envision a walled vineyard worked lovingly by Francois. German Riesling in those brown and green bottles and incomprehensible labels – hard to miss where they’re from. Same goes for Alsace. The Hugel wines that I recommended last week come with a label that you don’t have to read to know is Alsatian. It may be the combination of bottle shape, bottle colour and label but you get the point. These labels speak to me. I’m weird.

lopezdeharoThe 2005 Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva #357335 $18.95 has one of those labels. Diagonal banner with script. A gold medal. From cheap Garnacha to Gran Reserva Rioja, labels like this say Spain. I recommended this wine last September. The review is here. I had to rescue one from the cellar to see what’s changed. Acidity that was prominent on the first sip then has dissipated a wee bit. But, the rest holds true. This could still cellar for another 10 years. Great value in Rioja. Buy more than one and take the extra down below for a year or two or five.

Wait , just rethinking here, the ‘best song ever’? Maybe Sympathy For The Devil? Imagine? Roadhouse Blues? Something by The Clash? Leonard Cohen? Cowgirl In The Sand? Could be that, like wine, there isn’t a best ever rock song either. Thoughts? If you do have a best ever wine or song, let’s hear it.

Cheers.

Bill

Play Ball – The Red Daily Slosh

15 Apr

I love baseball. I know, I’m Canadian and that means hockey, hockey, hockey. Of course I played hockey all through my youth and early adulthood.. But, baseball is my true love. This weekend is my fantasy baseball draft. It’s a lot of fun. BTW, Duffs Tunas will triumph in 2015! Yes, my team is called Duffs Tunas – affectionately called The Tunas by family members. I inherited the team on the deathbed of my brother – true story soon to be made into a feature film. And, that team he had drafted in 1998 finished second last, if you can believe it. I couldn’t end his legacy with secondbaseballglove last, could I? So I picked up the mantle and The Tunas have been my responsibility for the last 16 years.

Back to the draft – an important issue is the beverage choice. For years, I stuck to beer. Lately though, I’ve felt that I need to wave the wine flag proudly and have taken some wine from the basement. It’s a dilemna. A couple of the guys are wine drinkers and some are not. If you write a blog, do tastings, etc., it’s assumed that you’ll bring something a-may-zing. And, perhaps something that no one has had before because you are so darn knowledgeable. But agonizing over a choice that most, if not all, participants won’t care about? I’ve landed on a Barolo for the evening before (oh yeah, it’s a sleepover) for pairing with a lamb stew. And, just in case it’s a spicier lamb stew (or not stew at all), I’ve got a back up – a Rhone Syrah. During the draft – Ontario Pinot. It’s always great to share a bottle of something tasty with friends and opponents. Wait……maybe I should switch out the Barolo for a Brunello? A CdP? Boone’s Farms Strawberry Hill? Damn, but it’s a high class problem to have, isn’t it?

pfvThe April 17th release features Europe’s Primum Familia Vini – that group of families in Europe that carry the history and glory of European wine – Mouton-Rothschild, Marchesi Antinori, Famille Perrin, Hugel & Fils, Miguel Torres, Joseph Drouhin, Tenuta San Guido, Symington, Pol Roger, Egon Müller-Scharzof, Vega-Sicilia. Interesting that the LCBO profiled the Wagner family of Caymus fame in the same release. What it did was show the difference in what constitutes a long run of quality in the New World versus the Old World. The Wagner clan have made many great wines for over 40 years and yet, they are relative newcomers compared to the PFV.

It goes without saying that, if you have deeper pockets, you can pick up some of the moderately expensive wines of these families – ’11 Solaia (Yaozza!), ’12 Château de Beuacastel (Whoa!), ’00 Warres Colheita Tawny Port (Suweeeet), ’12 Guidalberto, ’11 Alion, ’12 40th Anniversary Caymus, among others. But, this isn’t a splurge post and if I left it at those sips, you’d whine (read: bitch) and moan about how these wines are too expensive for you (mortgage, kids education, fixed income – excuses, excuses. You have a line of credit, use it). So, how about a solid inexpensive Rioja?

ibericos2The 2012 Miguel Torres Altos Ibericos Crianza #381046 $16.95 is an excellent value crianza. Sometimes I hear that the Riojas I recommend are too…cedary. I’m not kidding. People do say this. I mean can you have too much cedar? Clos de Sauna? Anyway, this one uses wood very judiciously. That being said, there is some evidence of oak – on a somewhat restrained nose that opens after a time in the glass. Some pepper, red fruit in the mouth. 100% Tempranillo. Grows better every minute – it balances up nicely. So, don’t rush it. I had this at the cottage and my notes will definitely be affected upward by the location – haven’t had a poor wine up there. Regardless of the cottage factor, it’s safe to say that this is a good wine at a great price.

bilahautThere are few producers that are a lock at almost any price. M. Chapoutier is one of those. The 2013 M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes de Roussillon Villages #168716 $15.95 will be familiar to readers of this wine drenched scribe. I have recommended the Bila-Haut – Vielles Vignes and the Occultum through several vintages. I’ve also enjoyed his Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Cote-Rotie, Cornas, and Saint-Joseph cuvées. I even have had his Portuguese effort, Printeveira – exceptional. But wait, there’s more – he even does Australian Syrah. I love M. And, yes, that’s Braille on the labels. Back to the Bila-Haut. This is a Grenache based experience – a little tanginess but tannins are gentle. Dark fruit and brush on the nose. Lip-smacking fruit and a medium finish. This is just so Roussillon. Picture sitting at a café along la Riviere Basse in Perpignan, ordering (in Catalan) a bottle of the Bila-Haut and pa amb tomàquet. The perfect end to a perfect afternoon wandering the vineyards. Or, open it at home with your own smashed tomatoes and garlic on bread. That doesn’t sound quite as tasty, does it? Pa amb tomàquet sounds better, yeah?

abadYears ago I pleaded with someone to give me a play on words to use with the grape Mencia. I guess my 16 readers got tired of helping me write the blog and went on strike. No, “This varietal is a real mensch.” Nada. It all started with this wine in a different vintage (2008). This good old wine – 2006 Abad Dom Bueno Crianza #244649 $15.95 has been laying on its side in the dark for 8 years, waiting for you. Just trying harder and harder to improve with age – kind of like me and my rapidly aging friends. Laying on our sides and trying. Snoring a wee bit and trying. This wine is made from Mencia and hails from Bierzo. It’s dry, yet the time has softened the tannins – not mouth drying, allowing the fruit to step forward – dark fruit flavours. It’s got power without being heavy – more medium-bodied. A little sediment. Great value. I have just talked myself into taking this to the baseball draft as well.

I’ll keep it at that as I want to write about some whites this week.

badiaOh, one more thing. If you do want to splurge on the Primum Familia Vini, take a stab at the 2009 Badia a Passignano Gran Selezione Chianti Classico #384552 $44.95. Just what we all needed was the Tuscans to come up with another designation so that the names of their wines could form full sentences. However, this is truly quite a ‘gran’ selection – a real step up in quality from their Chianti Classico Riserva. Cellar it or pop and pour with some air and country Italian fare. Great juice.

Now, on to baseball. Go Tunas!

Bill

Be Careful – The Red Daily Slosh

1 Apr

ed

I’ve been following March Madness on the tube and have seen quite a few commercials concerning pharmaceuticals – mostly dealing with erectile dysfunction. I hadn’t made a connection between basketball and that particular malady. All I can think of is that it must have something to do with the constant dribbling.

It’s interesting watching the different approaches to what’s allowed on these commercials. Up here, you see men skipping down the street in the morning with a Viagra logo floating over their heads but no mention of erectile dysfunction or what, in fact, Viagra has done for them. They just feel friggin’ fantastic, wink, wink. Or alternatively, they tell you what problem you might have (40% of men in the world have ED), suggest that you talk to your physician but give no product name just a website to find out more www.getitup.com . Arriving there, you guessed it – Viagra.

South of the border, it seems they can say everything about erectile dysfunction and the drug as long as they tell you that your personal health situation precludes you safely taking it. “If you’ve ever had the feeling that someone doesn’t like you, you’ve misplaced your house keys, or you’ve had a stiff neck, consult your physician before taking Viagra. If you experience erections lasting longer than the God of your choice intended, stand down, sip some wine, and modify your Power of Attorney. Do not take a selfie.”

So, I’ve decided to provide my own caution for my recommendations. It will be included at the bottom of this post.

Let’s get started.

allegriniThe April 4th release features wines from Veneto. So, let’s start with a ubiquitous wine from that region – 2011 Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre #672931 $24.95. I guess what I mean by ubiquitous is that I seem to see this wine all over the place. Other bloggers talk about it, restaurants carry it, I turn the corner at the Masonville LCBO and there’s a stack of it with a shelf talker by Natalie MacLean (92, if that means anything to you). Well, it’s either pretty solid or it’s an exceptional feat of marketing. The former is true. This is a consistent performer. Rich (there’s a bit of raisinated grapes added post first fermentation) and layered. One time you pick up the dried fruit and the next you swallow a gob of fresh black cherries. It’s pretty cool. Great wine with cheap Italian fare – spaghetti with tomato sauce and meatballs, sausage pizza. Friday night before the blue pill?

donatoniAnother but less expensive wine utilizing dried grapes is the 2011 Donatoni Massena Appassimento #332403 $16.95. Some of you shy away from Old World and, in particular Italian, wines because you sense a sharpness, thinness and/or just too much acidity. I could argue that you are just wrong but what’s the use? Instead, you need to try these appassimento wines.  In fact, anything that uses dried grapes or spent must to deepen wines – as in Ripasso, Amarone. This wine is great value – brings dark red fruit aromas and flavours with all sorts of spiciness and depth. Finishes long and satisfying. I like this wine all by itself. But, then again, I like a lot of wines by themselves. This would be great sitting-by-the-last-fire-of-the-cold-season wine. Spending quality time discussing Bill C-51 and the potential fate of Omar Khadr. Who am I kidding? How about recapping the day and snuggling? Remember: Snuggle Responsibly.

In this market, we are barraged at the mother ship with far too many selections of cheap New World Cabernet Sauvignon. Most LCBO’s dedicate about ten feet of shelf space in the US section and at least that much in other New World aisles columbiuacrest combined for these wines. You know the ones I mean – stylized foot imprints, skinny girls or little dresses , and fuzzy animals on the label. Heavy, off-dry, woodified crap – a technical assessment. So, it would be easy to write off cheap, New World Cabernet. Well that would be wrong. Every vintage it seems that there’s a great cab or three from Washington that goes against that theory (think H3). This week, the 2012 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon #240093 $17.95 arrives in stores. This is from the Chateau Ste. Michelle powerhouse. I’m a little guy….guy but these Michellians do a pretty good job of churning out mass produced wines with appeal at reasonable prices. This one is sophisticated for the price point. A luxurious mouthfeel but with enough tannin and a tangy finish to provide a few edges, particularly on the finish – plenty dry enough. It’s straightforward and simple in a good way. I’d want to have this as a sip and nibbler primarily – friends drop in, hostess gift, Easter dinner at my place (hint, hint).

frontariaWho says that I never recommend a wine under $18? I’ve nailed it twice already this week. Here’s a trifecta and going real low. Where have I heard that phrase, “Going Low”? #insidejoke The 2009 Quinta do Portal Frontaria #324533 $13.95 was a wine I tried when Duoro was the New Wine This Week – that’s a fun weekly exercise carried on by obsessive wine geeks. This was a huge surprise. I was gobsmacked. Taken aback. Dumbfounded. This is an Old World wine with New World ambitions – round, smoothed out, settled by time in bottle. Dark fruit. Nice heft, full-bodied for $13.95. To quote Jeff, The Drunken Cyclist, “Whoa.” Please pick it up – good wine, great price. Whoa.

Wines that I want to try:

2012 Carmen Grand Reserva Carmenère #439166 $17.95 – like the one below, I’m going on past performance here. Carmen’s Carmenère is usually good good. Deep, smoky and sturdy – backbone of tannin just intentional enough – long finish. Hopefully this vintage doesn’t disappoint on that promise. Shout out to the Joukowsky Institute Carmenère Club.

2013 DeBortoli Gulf Station Pinot Noir #015511 $19.95 – I love Yarra Valley Pinot and I’ve had DeBortoli’s different Pinots many times – love their take. Usually fresh, red fruity and just enough tang – dignified, if that makes sense. Stand and chatter Pinot. I want to give this one a try.

drinkresponsiblyCaution: If after consuming wine, you experience any of the following, step away from the wine immediately: believing that The Maple Leafs don’t need a total rebuild; mistaking Zero Mostel for a non-alcoholic Piedmontese wine; calling the red wine you’re drinking – ‘cabaret’ sauvignon; or, and pay attention to this one – thinking that a fourth bottle makes sense.

For What It’s Worth – The Red Daily Slosh

3 Mar

This day in music history (1966) – Neil Young, Steven Stills and Richie Furay formed Buffalo Springfield. That’s our boy Neil sitting on the amp. Sorry for the video quality. I think it might have been filmed with a Kodak Brownie. Not sure what the ending is either.

saintrochBack when I simply sent out a newsletter, I remember singing the praises of an inexpensive red from Roussillon. The ’05 and ’06 were superb representatives of the region – lavender, herby goodness. This week, the ’12 version of this wine hits the shelves – 2012 Château Saint-Roch Chimères #119354 $18.95. Not quite in the inexpensive range anymore but in a world where you pay $11 to see a cartoon movie (and don’t get me going on that score), not that surprising. This vintage carries the same brushy, garriguey, herby full-bodied goodness both in the swirl, sniff and in the mouth. That doesn’t mean fruit isn’t present – black fruit – juicy fruit – not the chewing gum but fruit with a nice puckery quality. This might be a bit smoother than other years and a bit bigger – it’s hard comparing notes. Nonetheless, this is a formidable wine – powerful. Love it. Great value for those that love the Rhone-style blends of Syrah and Grenache. That would be me. This is 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Carignan. Highly recommend.

13thstreetCan we talk? I like to promote Ontario wine when I can. I like the wines, the people that make them, and the fact that they don’t feel compelled to send me samples. Well, maybe I hate that last part. The problem is that I’m usually reviewing and recommending from the bi-weekly Vintages release. And, there aren’t a ton of Ontario wines in each release. Example: this release has 120 offerings of which 9 are from Ontario. Just 9! It probably has more to do with the winery’s ability to supply enough product and, I admit, that there are lots of General Listing Ontario wines. But, it would be nice to have more ‘release’ Ontario wines, even in limited availability. OK, down off the soapbox. This week the 2012 13th Street Gamay Noir #177824 $19.95 arrives at the mother ship. There are some grapes that are done quite unevenly in Ontario and Gamay is one IMHO. There are a few great examples but way too many weak efforts. Gamay can be good simple and fruity usually with interest.. And, it can be just plain bad simple and fruity. The 13th Street Gamay is red fruity but has some underlying structure and loads of personality by way of earthiness and surprising minerality. That stuff comes through mostly on the sniff for me and dissipates a bit in the mouth – leaving the fruit and a nice bite. It’s interesting. Reminds me a lot of the Villages-Beaujolais that I recommended last time out but a bit fruit purer – less messy.

bonterrapnCheaper Pinot Noir is, well, usually pretty bad. It’s a grape that doesn’t lend itself to big harvesters, huge production numbers, and just-in-time delivery. So, I tend to avoid it. I know that I’ve recommended the Cono Sur Bicicletta Pinot Noir a few times over the years and it can be as low as $9.95 on sale. But, there haven’t been a lot like that. This week, there’s an organic Pinot Noir – 2013 Bonterra Pinot Noir #317685 $19.95. I like this – it has some wood effects – vanilla and cedary tannins. But, what I like is the unapologetic red fruit nose and finish. It’s juicy with a bite at the end but not too. It would be a great sipper – stand around wine. I’m going to check out now the price stateside just to show you how we get screwed on the lower end stuff……..lowest stateside price on winesearcher.com is $16.50 CAD. I stand corrected. I apologize. I guess $19.95 is fair considering that our monopoly helps build hospitals, women’s shelters, and pay off failed gas plant closures. Back to the Bonterra – pick this up. Recommended. Comment: the Bonterra label seems to be picking up its game – I have had a few different varietals from them that represent good effort.

benmarcoI haven’t had a Malbec for awhile. So, when I was out for dinner around the holidays, for our second bottle, we ordered the 2013 Benmarco Malbec #657601 $18.95. Either it was impressive or I was influenced by the poorer quality of the first bottle we had. I’m sticking with the first – it was impressive. This is a meat wine as are most Malbecs. It has integrated tannins, a vein of juiciness but the biggest thing you get is that this wine is together, balanced, smooth. Like The Spinners. Chocolate on the nose but I lost it in the mouth. Dark fruits everywhere. It’s made by my girl, Susana Balbo. There seems to be a purpose to all her wines. They tell a story; you don’t get confused – you know what you’ve got when you drink it. Highly Recommended. And, on second thought, you could just pop and pour this by itself. A guilty pleasure – put on The Spinners (you’ll need the little plastic thing that goes in the middle of the 45).

Splurge wines that I haven’t tasted but am picking up:

2009 Terre Nere Brunello di Montalcino #208462 $42.95 I love Brunello. It’s generally what people buy me if they truly appreciate me. Hint, hint. I have one of three 2004’s of this wine left in the basement. It has such a nice weight and juiciness to it (the 2004 that is). The review for the 2009 speaks to some of the same qualities I found in the 2004 – red cherries, spicy, big aromatics. From a vintage perspective, 2004 is a bit more heralded but, really, my palate may not be tuned to these nuances. I’m jumping in with both feet.

2011 Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz #422782 $34.95 When I started to splurge a bit, I always ended up with a few bottles of this wine. Through thick and thin we have travelled the roads to wine knowledge and appreciation. I love its weight – large but manageable; it’s berries too. I can’t identify a single kind of berry but it just smells like that yogurt you can get called “Fieldberries”. Strawberries? Not exactly. Raspberries? No not them either. But, by the Gods, jammy berries. And, it has some peppery notes but not overwhelming like some Shiraz. This one has great reviews and, in particular, I like the term, “finishing with good persistence”. Seems like a good way for a Shiraz to be. I’ll let you know what I think. I’ve had other vintages of this with lamb tagines. Perfect.

nkmip2011 Nk’Mip Qwam Qwmt Cabernet Sauvignon #303719 $27.95 OK, this is a light splurge. This wine always intrigues me because of the story. Oh, the wine is usually great but the story is the best part. This winery is the first wholly owned and operated aboriginal winery in Canada. The dedication of the band leadership is quite remarkable, courageous, and inventive. You can read about him here. The wine? Well, it’s a dark, complex, structured cab in most vintages. It feels right to drink this wine. But, it’s tasty too. And, if you can pronounce the name, you win the monthly DuffsWines prize package.

Bill

Smokey and The Red Daily Slosh

19 Feb

Born this day in 1940 – Smoky Robinson.

The February 21st release is trumpeting the 2012 vintage in Australia – “The Best Vintage in 20 Years”, they say. The thing is that just because the vintage is a good one generally, there are a lot of other factors that also determine the quality of a wine. What’s a poor soul to do with this information? Just drink the Kool-Aid and buy up a bunch of 2012 Aussie wine? Or, tramp the back roads of unpronounceable Australian regions, speaking with winemakers, tasting each and every wine to find that one $18 beaut for dinner with the in-laws? Actually sounds like fun. But, no, we don’t have to do that.

My strategy is to think back to wines that I’ve loved from the region and seek them out in that ‘vintage of the century’. Why not stick with what you love? Plus, you can actually taste the difference that vintage makes – apples to apples, year after year.

I have to say that I’m disappointed that the mother ship didn’t include some Coonawarra cab in the release as some of those are my Aussie Montelenas. Oh well, something to look forward to.

stonedwellersI have only tasted one of the featured Australian wines. Good news? The one I had was a very positive experience. The 2012 Fowle’s Stone Dweller’s Shiraz #265967 $19.95 is a regular fixture on the shelves in most vintages. Or so it seems. This is a typical Aussie Shiraz weight-wise – full-bodied and expressive. Big but not braggy – balanced for it’s size. I have to say that the thing I like best about Aussie Shiraz is the unabashed spiciness. This one carries the peppery stuff I love – can even detect a bunch on the nose. On the finish – all spice, fruit, and nice. Highly recommended.

New Zealand makes more reds than just Pinot Noir. I picked up a Sileni Hawk’s Bay Merlot the other day as it was being discontinued – a reasonable representation of Merlot but a bit thin. cjpaskThis week, there’s a red blend that I think deserves a buy recommendation – the 2010 CJ Pask Gimlett Road Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec #279869 $19.95. This is a well balanced mid-weight red. I see this as a food wine but also a good stand around red. Use of the Malbec seems to ramp up the weight and colour. Where the Sileni was a bit washed out, this is fuller and weightier. Nice wine.

I’ve heard people say, “I can’t afford to drink French wine”. Aside from the generalization of French wines as all the same, it’s just plain bullshit. I say, “You can’t afford not to drink French wines.” French, Italian, German, and Spanish wine is what wine was meant to be. That doesn’t mean New World doesn’t make great wine. It just means for me that there’s something comforting in a French, Spanish or Italian wine, if it’s made well. I plead guilty to not drinking enough German wines. This week, the 2013 Domaine de la Madone Perréon Beaujolais-Villages #981175 $14.95 proves that French wine doesn’t have to be at least $30 to be good. This is a solid, incredibly easy-drinking, true-to-varietal wine. Everyone should drink Beaujolais. It’s purity of fruit, as in this example, is a refreshing break from the over-oaked, tricked up wines that we all secretly love. A confessional aside: tricked up wines remind me of guilty pleasure music. You can tell everyone that you don’t like ABBA (I don’t) but when Dancing Queen comes on the radio and you’re alone in the car, admit it, you’re conflicted – turn the channel and maintain your cred or just give in, smile, and sing along. It’s like Paul or John. It’s all good, really. Back to the Beaujolais – this wine isn’t quite as simple as I’ve portrayed the regional style. Although this is light-bodied and easy-going, it has a nice vein of acidity and enough tannin folded in to tell you that it would like some food. Think of sitting outside (in your down-filled parka?) in the sun with some mid-day stuff to eat. Maybe some salty olives and seafood. Oh yeah, and bread – lots of bread. Perfect wine for that. Great value. You can’t afford not to drink this French wine!

On the same theme, French wine that is, the 2011 Gerard Bertrand Saint-Chinian Syrah/Mourvedre #370247 $18.95 is a big, lip-smacking red beauty. Do I have a blind spot? Yup, well made red blends from the South of France. Let me put it this way (cue George Winston):

I swirl, sniff – sun-baked schist and lavender explode

Transformed

I sip – I am warmed under a duvet of red fruit, tangled underbrush, and stone

Nourished

Straining against the urge to stir and re-fill my glass

I sit back and smile

Sated.

gerardbscDuff does poetry? Of course, I’m not just a pretty face. This wine? Well, it delivers on that verse. Scents of big red fruit, anise, repeating in the mouth with lip-smackingness, wrapped up with a nice medium long finish. Good heft, full-bodied food wine. Perfect with some grilled stuff. Luv this! Gerard Bertrand is a cool guy with a great winery base, Château L’Hospitalet – that doubles as wine tourism – accommodations, food, jazz festival. Keep a look out for his labels.

Cheers

Bill

%d bloggers like this: