Tag Archives: languedoc

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

Sad Songs and Dirty Old Men – The Red Daily Slosh

14 Aug

I’m kind of in a sad mood amid Robin Willaims’ passing and the realization that there are so many people feeling such despair. Randy Newman is usually satirical and clever, but I find this song quite sad, actually. Fits the day.

These recommendations are for the LCBO release August 16th.

Random preamble – a year ago on these pages, I told the story of wandering the aisles of the wine store and seeing a man trying to pick up women there by sidling up and talking to them about the wine they were looking at. How disgusted I was that a guy would use the sacred store (apologies to Don McLean) to find his one night stand. Well, this past week, I’m in the LCBO and as I’m checking out a wine, an attractive woman steps up beside me and what do I do? I start to talk to her about the wine she’s holding and tell her something like, “I’ve had that and it’s quite good. If you prefer California wines, you’ll love it.”  Now, there was no intent here. But, in a heartbeat I could tell that she was, well, creeped out a bit. Maybe creeped out a lot. A contributing factor might have been that she probably was going to be carded while I’m seeking the senior’s discount, if you know what I mean. It got me to thinking that my earlier characterization of that wine store guy as a predatory gigolo was hasty and I believe apologies are in order. So, if you see a middle-aged guy in the wine store smelling strongly of Axe with a very large gold chain revealed in an open necked Hawaian shirt (chest hair prominent), Oakley shades pushed up on his forehead, and chewing Thrills gum, apologize to him for me, will ya.

Now, on to the wine. Languedoc, Roussillon and environs are featured in this release. It’s an area that I’ve been to and love. The heat produces wines with loads of fruit and the shrubby stuff that abounds on the hills there comes through both on the nose and the finish. It can be rustic or almost sophisticated but I think that I like the rustic ones the best. So, bear my preferences in mind. I also think of these wines as second sippers. You need to have a full glass to really ‘feel’ the wine. If the ones that I recommend aren’t in stock, ask for help finding a similar product.

tessellaeEvery once in awhile, there’s a cool label to include in my recommendations. This one is a primitive representation of a cellar wall or the Via Domitia, I’m assuming. Sure beats a graphic of a bare foot or a little black dress 2012 Tessellae Old Vines Côtes du Roussillon #343517 $18.95. Weird how the mother ship tells us it’s “Carignan” Old Vines on the header and the review says there is no carignan in it. Which is true? Checking the winery website, the answer is……there is no carignan! This is a GSM wine – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre. That’s a relief as I’m not a carignan lover. This wine gives you the garrigue in spades – the shrubbiness tells you to have another sip. Lovely Grenache dominance on the sniff and the swallow which also means relatively soft tannins. Drink now with lighter fare.

hbscHecht and Bannier are not lion tamers, a law firm, or quirky magicians (one of which is mute). They are two guys that got together to help drive an improvement in wine production in the southwest of France. Well, did they? If this wine is any indication, they sure did. I’ve mentioned my penchant for Saint-Chinian wines about a million times. I love this appellation especially in the north. Not only is it beautiful to trundle through (my picture of the village Rocquebrun below), the people are engaging, of the earth, and tourism is limited. The wine – 2011 Hecht & Bannier Saint-Chinian #184184 $25.95. OK, I know that it’s a stretch to call a wine costing $25.95 a “daily” slosh. So, buy it and save it for a special occasion, then. This wine is deep, chewy and dark fruit spicy. It is rustic in a non-tannic way. There’s tannin there just not over the top. Rustic in flavour not texture, is what I mean. Great food wine. A shout out to Dale R. He once told me how Saint-Chinian got it’s name and he said it wasn’t named after a saint (in direct conflict with Wikipedia). Dale, if you’re out there, enlighten us. Or, if anyone else can answer the question, leave a comment below.

delabadAnother wine that I’m glad is back is the 2008 Abad Dom Bueno Mencia #291989 $16.95. It’s Spanish not from Languedoc-Roussillon. Note the vintage. It’s a 2008 and still could benefit from cellaring. A great way to start a little wine stash under the stairs. But now, it’s deep, dark, and strong. Beautiful yet you don’t mess with it. Which all adds up to Grace Jones? I’d suggest it for those that like a wine that makes its own statement. You don’t taste this and then say, “This tastes a lot like Abad Dom Delouise”. Spicy – anise-like aroma from the glass, dark fruit in the mouth. Like it a lot. Food and more food, please – think sausage pizza with Joe Bonamassa shredding. For my previous review of this wine click here.

lopez de haroLast but certainly not least – the 2008 Lópes de Haro Crianza #377481 $15.95 is one of the best Rioja values that I’ve come across in a long while. It’s had the benefit of time in oak which imparts a cedar chest vibe emanating from the glass. It’s medium bodied in complete balance with enough stuffing to drink with a meal. Dried fruit on the finish. Love it! Love it! Love it! It is also available through the on-line merchant www.wineonline.ca If you are so inclined, check these guys out – they offer a great portfolio of wines from all over and sometimes they ship for free. My experience of welcoming the Canada Post parcel guy – him, hauling a case of wine to my door; me, in my housecoat and slippers; the Director heading out to work is one of the most enduring images connected with this wine blog.

copertinoWhen I was in Puglia last year, I drank a bunch of Negroamaro wines. All grapes deliver a vast array of wines. That is, they don’t all taste alike. But, I’ve found that this grape is really unpredictable. Salice Salentino is made with Negroamaro and even that singular designation can have a zillion variations in quality and drinking experience. As Forrest Gump’s mother said, “You never know what you’ll get”. This week, there’s the return of 2007 Apollino Copertino Rosso #023226 $18.95. This one I like. I find that this wine has a porty thing going on – not sweet but thick. It’s ripe and full-bodied. Nothing complex, straight-forward. Easy to drink too much of, if that makes sense. Its ABV is 14% which isn’t crazy high but I’d stay away from having it as a stand around wine – pair with something that can hold up against the full-bodied nature of the wine. The LCBO suggests “pasta with a lightly spiced arrabbiata sauce.” I might step up the sauce to something more spicy but pasta and tomato sauce seems about right.

Wine that I’m going to pick up:

2012 Megalomaniac Sonofabitch Pinot Noir #085134 $24.95 – The same winery that has ‘Pink Slip’ and ‘Bigmouthed’ wines brings us one of the better names I’ve encountered. I understand that it reflects the difficulty in cultivating and vinifying pinot noir. It can be an SOB. I usually steer clear of wines with cute names but my interest is piqued and Megalomaniac has a pretty good track record. I’ll let you know how it works out.

“DRC is God’s way of telling you that you have too much money.” Robin Willaims

Rocquebrun

Rocquebrun

The Red Daily Slosh is in The Houze

12 Mar

More funk. It’s one of those winters, isn’t it? Snowmagedon has arrived again today. We need something to get up and dance about. I try to do my part. And BTW, that is Lionel Richie rocking the sax (can you lip sync a sax?).

These recommendations are for the March 15th release.

This release focuses on “California Classics” read: overpriced labels. I was going to save this for a ramble but I might as well do this now. I read a post (rant) by The Drunken Cyclist about ‘library wines’ as in – what a disrespectful rip off. And I thought to myself – it’s time. Let me provide a disclaimer – I love all wines, t’is true. But, for the record, I do indeed love California wines – pinots, cabernet sauvignons, Rhones, zinfandels, chardonnays, you get the picture. But, there may not be a region that’s been better at leveraging labels cache into dollars. Strike that; as I‘ll be talking about Bordeaux some other time. I could provide many examples – Cakebread entry-level cab sav costing the same as Tignanello and Chateau de Beaucastel, Screaming Eagle at twice the price of Ornellaia. Before people start commenting about the principle of letting the market decide – I get it, they’re selling this stuff – why reduce the price? And, wine is a subjective experience that takes into account everything from sight, smell, perceived value, and luxury. “If I want to spend $199 on a California cabernet (editorial comment: probably very big), why can’t I?” I’m just saying it’s my blog and I think that it’s a ’library wine’ sized rip off. There are exceptions – I can think of lots of great California wines that are an expensive-ish bargain – there’s always Chateau Montelena with a pedigree and product that some of these ‘cult’ guys could only dream of IMHO and offers its stuff at one-quarter to half their price. All this to say, that I’m not talking this week about the expensive California wines in the release because I drink them by exception not as a rule but, and I want reps out there to take note, would certainly entertain samples designed to sway my opinion? Because I do love California wines.

On to the wine.

masdauzieresWhile driving through the Languedoc, you can’t help but be struck with the thought, “Holy shit, they grow a lot of grapes!” It is indeed a large and active wine region and there are lots of cheap, mass-produced wines. This and similarly styled areas of Italy are called Europe’s Wine Lake. But, there are also many great AOC’s and producers that work to provide fine wines that reflect the history, culture and, dare I say, terroir of the Languedoc. You’ve heard me rave about St.-Chinian (Dale, remind me of how the town got its name) and Faugeres to name two AOC’s that you should keep an eye out for. This week, there’s a wine from the Côteaux du Languedoc – 2009 Mas de d’Auzierès les Éclat #271742 $18.95. This wine is made with syrah, grenache and mourvedre and grows on very rocky soils in the shadow of Pic St. Loup. The video below is great (Pic St. Loup in the background) and gives you an idea of the dedication and enthusiasm of the owners. But what does it taste like? Well, the owner speaks of rocks (les eclats) and this wine brings a distinct Nose of Stone (formerly a superhero who beat opponents with a large, super-sensitive, and hard sniffer) and a finish that has a minerally element too – so I get les eclats. The absence of oak is evident by the freshness of the fruit, in my mind. It is sturdy but for me not too – tannins not over-riding the experience of cherries and darker fruit. I’m thinking a case wine if you purchase that way and love syrah and/or grenache. I don’t venture into talking about longevity but a review suggests this wine will develop over half a dozen years. So, you don’t have to drink the whole case in the first two months…….Bill.

closlacoutaleStaying in France, there’s a great malbec/merlot blend from Cahors – 2011 Clos la Coutale Cahors #286385 $17.95. Alongside Argentina, Cahors has malbec as it’s most well-known grape. And it’s a different take on the grape as well. Maybe not as uniform as Argentinean malbec can be sometimes. Not complaining about it, mind you. This winery has a long and distinguished pedigree. It’s spent significant time in barrel – bringing a smokiness to the sniff. I’d call it full-bodied and a bit chewy with lots of different things going on and none clearly the winner. It’s not confused though just finding it’s way. The second sip (or glass) brings it into focus a bit more – the tannin seems to smooth out, mocha flavours start to develop along with spicy, tangy stuff. Lovely and sturdy – ready to go with some cold weather cuisine like maybe roast pork – or something else with some fat.

A wine that I haven’t had that I’m going to try:

lacrimusA highly reviewed Rioja under $20 deserves some attention. So, I think that I’ll pick up the 2009 Lacrimus Criaza #359968 $18.95. A crianza Rioja requires less time in barrel and bottle than a reserva (like the one below). But, this is an ’09 so has had more time than most crianzas to smooth out and get it together, I’m assuming. It sounds like a complex (licorice, strawberries and morello cherries – oh my) beaut. And, I love a beaut.

Return to the scene of the crime:

I just finished the last of my ’08 Beronia Reserva. Man, I love this stuff. There are very few bottles remaining in my market. If you see it, buy it. The rest of us will have to wait until they flood the market with some left overs or the ’09 vintage.

%d bloggers like this: