Tag Archives: kd lang

Ireland’s Lessons and the Red Daily Slosh

21 May

Relevance of the video? None really, just love this song done by an amazing singer and it’s my blog. Dare you not to sing along. One of my favourite sad shower songs. TMI?

I apologize for leaving you in the lurch for awhile. I was away on a not even remotely earned vacation in Ireland. I mean there’s no possibility that anyone could mistake me for someone needing a vacation. There is no way that I ever work that hard. Have I been clear? I don’t deserve vacations. However, things that I learned in Ireland include:

  • Guinness won’t kill you – it is great!
  • Guinness is very good, I like Guinness
  • I know that I’m repeating myself but, you guessed it, I like Guinness
  • Rain is not my friend
  • Music is universally important. Music matters
  • It rains a lot in Ireland
  • Aer Lingus isn’t Irish for free drinks during flight
  • Galway is the new…………whatever the old ‘cool’ place was
  • Smithwicks is pronounced Smithicks or, alternatively, Smithwicks and it doesn’t depend on how many you’ve had
  • The right side of the road is in fact the right side of the road
  • Skoda makes every automobile driven in Ireland and none driven in Canada – what’s with that? Where for art thou, Skoda? “Feel the force”. Anyone get that one or too geeky?
  • Friends make life worth living – well, that and wine

These recommendations are for the May 24th “New Arrivals” release.

bilahautvvRoussillon is part of the Lake of Wine in the south of France. It, along with the Languedoc, has spawned labels such as Fat Bastard, Arrogant Frog, a bicycle one that I forget, and other cute but reasonably solid wines. I have recommended a tonne of wines from this area because…………….well, I really like them and I worked several harvests at Chateau L’Homme Faible as a grape frere. There are three that make these virtual pages each and every vintage, it seems – those carrying M. Chapoutier’s Bila-Haut label. This week there is the entry level Bila-Haut and the premium one as well. Let’s start on the easier price point – 2012 M. Chapoutier Les Veilles Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon-Villages #168716 $14.95. That’s a mouthful – “I’d like a glass of the Chapoutier Les Viieilles Vignes (is it veel vins? deep breath) de Bila-Haut (hard swallow) Cotes….oh shit, just give me a glass of this (pointing to the item on the menu with your finger).” These wines sometimes can be quite simple or one-dimensional at this price point but this wine defies that description – it’s medium bodied but brings it with earthy, chewy flavours and tannins. Syrah, Carignan, and Grenache grown on “gneiss and schist from the Devonian Period.” I’m not schisting you; that’s directly from their web site. It creates a wine that has minerality, spiciness, and some smell and taste of the scrubbiness from which it comes. A good value. The shelf label will say that I gave it 3 fishes or it more likely will say that www.winefront.com.au gave it a 91.

occultumlapidemThe other Chapoutier gem is the premium – but not much 2011Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem #643239 $25.95. This wine has a similar feel to the cheaper one – brambly, garrigueiness. A more full-bodied effort. I’m not sure whether there was any wood used but I bet if it was it was old casks – fruit isn’t overshadowed by anything that doesn’t come from the field. Bigger and rounder than the one above. My notes say, “Love this stuff!!!” Yes, three exclamation points. BTW ‘occultum lapidem’ means ‘hidden stone’ or ‘gem’, I believe. But then again, I only took Latin for four years about a hundred years ago. Glad I did as it’s a big help on crossword puzzles and Dan Brown novels. I’ll let you discover the shelf talkers yourself but this scored very high marks from some of the ‘experts’. These labels have Braille on them too. There’s a story there that I’ll leave you to Google.

montes aslpha syrahThere was a time when many of my recommendations included wines from Chile. Not sure why they’ve fallen off – probably because I’m not drinking as many of them so don’t know what’s what? This week, the 2010 Montes Alpha Syrah #000612 $19.95 appears on the shelves. This label is a ‘go to’ for some of you (Oliver and Joanne?) as you’ve told me about the cabernet sauvignon, carmenere, and chardonnay; all consistent performers. This syrah has been climbing on quality over the last few vintages IMHO. This one has staying power requiring a little basement time, breathing or violent swishing. Subdued nose but a powerful experience in the mouth. It reminds me of a New World cabernet sauvignon a bit – with the oak very present – some cab in the blend. Powerful wine – food wine – lamb chops, pork roast, fatty meat – spice and acid on the finish making my lips smack. Wait, I really don’t know if my idea of lip smacking is everyone else’s. Let’s all do this together – 1, 2, 3 smack your lips. You did try it didn’t you? You guys are just weird.

ironyBringing you wines that you’ll actually pick up is one of my goals here. Repeating labels so that you get familiar with the good ones. No use recommending the 2006 Blaufränkisch if the name itself scares you off. We’ll build up to those unfamiliar wines another time. This time of year, you’re looking for getting the Q started and burgers burning. This week there’s a wine that can do one better than burgers – the 2011 Irony Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon #025106 $19.95 arrives to give those Calicabaholics a very nice picnic table red. Food friendly with balanced acidity and enough backbone tannins to stand up to steak, I think. Dark but not swarthy. Pretty quintessential California cabernet sauvignon and the price is very good for this much power and balance.

Speaking of pricing. And, I’m sure we were. What’s with the seemingly big mark up on US wines? Isn’t the mother ship one of the biggest purchasers of wines and spirits in the world? Drive a hard deal, FCOL. The wine above is probably $9.99 USD at Costco. As a former math major, I calculate that as about a 100% markup. Done without a calculator or slide rule, I might add. So either Mister Irony (in cahoots with his Canadian importer) is screwing with us or we’re getting new hospital beds at my local with the profits. Which is a definite plus as I age and detect significant mental slippage. But it ain’t just the exchange and sin tax is what I’m sayin’.

This release features Rhone reds – and, I Iove Rhone reds! But alas, I haven’t sampled any of the Rhone wines on offer. Note to LCBO – “If you want me to keep on upselling the masses, show me some love and get me some samples”. I do have two sight–undrank wines that I might pick up – 2011 Le Gravillas Côtes du Rhône-Villages Séguret #309260 $15.95 and 2010 La Font du Vent Passion Côtes du Rhône-Villages Signargues #370260 $16.95 both sound like they’re the type of Cotes I like to wear.

Recommendation revisited: I recommended the Clifford Bay Pinot Noir #309500 $19.95 quite a while ago and was surprised to see that there are still a bunch at my store (Masonville). Go get it if you’re a New World pinot fan – good value from Down Under.

Groovy Baby It’s Chardonnay Day – The White Daily Slosh

23 May

groovyI couldn’t resist this White Daily Slosh. I have never tried it, have never seen it, but I’m madly in love with the name. When I was a child there was a nursery rhyme called Solomon Grundy. Say it with me – Solomon Grundy born on Monday, Christened on Tuesday, etc., etc. through to Solomon’s unfortunate demise on Saturday. Not sure of the origin, meaning or purpose of this somewhat depressing rhyme. We are born only to be buried on Sunday? Life’s a bitch and then you’re dead? Let us know if you are eccentric enough to know the meaning of this tale. Anyway, I was returned to those childhood memories when I saw the 2012 Salomon Groovy Grüner Veltliner #669606 $13.95. I mean how much fun can you have with that name? “Would you like another glass of Groovy, sir?” “Oooh, beeehave.” I can’t speak to this exact wine, vintage et al but will provide you with a little background on Grüner Veltliner via another blog – Restaurant Uprising. Suffice it to say that Grüner Veltliner is not a mid-fielder for Bayern Munich but a hip white grape (apparently, the nickname for Grüner Veltliner is ‘Groovy’). The reviews I’ve found for this particular wine make it sound perfect to serve with a light meal and Simon and Garfunkel. Be Groovy! Are those Ray-Bans on the salmon?

domainelecomteThe 2011 Domaine Lecomte Quincy #172528 $18.95 ain’t Sancerre but it’s close both geographically and experience-wise. It’s crisp, food-friendly and spicy, It’s not your New World Sauvignon Blanc but more restrained. This doesn’t mean it isn’t full of fruit flavours (apples, citrus) and couldn’t satisfy your need for a white to accompany dinner. It could carry seafood as suggested in the review or even something more full-bodied. I even think it could do battle with something spicy. If you love Sancerre, pick this up as a substitute and see what you think.

silenisbOh, remember that New World Sauvignon Blanc that I just mentioned? Yup, there’s a good one on the shelves this weekend too. The 2012 Sileni Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc #662882 $17.95 has all the Kiwi fruit that we’ve become accustomed to but maybe not big gooseberries. That’s not actual kiwi fruit, as in fuzzy little brown things, but Kiwi as in New Zealand. So, some tropical scents and tastes and a kind of greenness too. It isn’t shy but neither is it over-the-top. I think it strikes a great balance – perfect for gossiping and noshing.

cannonballSo, what is Thursday, May 23rd? Yes, we all know – the birthdays of Drew Carey and Rosemary Clooney (yes, I had to Google it just like you just tried to do). But what else? Why It is Chardonnay Day – a day when all people of the world celebrate the great white grape. When chardonnay farmers, vintners and drinkers alike put down their instruments of toil and industry and pour themselves a glass of oakey or unoaked, twist cap or corked (not corked as in smelling bad – but sealed with a cork) chardonnay. It’s a pretty big day around our house. Streamers, Reidel chard glasses, corksicles, goody bags, music performed live by k.d. lang, the biggest chardonnay hound in all Canada and a big friend of Duffswines! Yes, we celebrate it. But what to drink? Meursault? No, I’m waiting for the centennial of Chardonnay Day for that stuff. Mer Soliel? No, too heavy for just pounding back and dancing like no one is watching. What about 2010 Cannonball Chardonnay #311563 $20.95? When in doubt, Cannonball! This is a mid-sized chardonnay. Oh, it’s oakey – so oak-a-philes need to get a few. But, not in the spirit of hiding all the good stuff. There’s lots of true fruit from the chardonnay grape – apples, maybe a bit of pineapple too. It’s a perfect way to celebrate Chardonnay Day which by the time you read this will be over. So, timing doesn’t have to be everything. The label is great on this one as well.

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