Tag Archives: LCBO

Rosés For The Dock – 2017 Edition

28 Jun

When I’m up. I can’t get down! Can’t get down. Can’t get level. YKWIM?

Over the past many weeks, I’ve been recommending rosés at quite a pace. But, who wants to scroll through all those posts to find a perfect sip for the dock or before supper, or after a cool swim, or ……..well, you get it. So, this should serve as a refresher.

This week, I was asked by a friend why I liked rosé so much. I didn’t really have an answer at the ready. I hadn’t ever questioned my ‘friending’ of rosé. I mean do any of us ever do a deep dive into why we like say sea scallops, fennel anything, hashwi, kibbi nayii, Omran’s curry? Not really.

So, I took the question away, gave it my full attention (if you know me, you know that I have the attention span of a gnat) and I now have my answer.

It’s just sitting there waiting

First let me say that I think rosé brings all sorts of good stuff to your experience – moderate alcohol, food friendliness, beauty, and usually a sense of place. But, I think I like rosé because it’s refreshing. Sometimes, I want refreshing, period. Now, all the wine geeks out there will write below that Sancerre is refreshing. They’d be right. Oh yeah, and Assyrtiko is nothing if not refreshing. All sorts of chilled whites bring refreshment. There are even red wines that bring refreshment, as well – like something tart from Maremma, perhaps.

So, I’m not suggesting that other wines can’t ‘refresh’. Just that a cool to cold glass of rosé is next to godliness on the refreshment scale. And, without sacrificing depth and complexity. Another reason might be that it’s reasonably priced. My favourite pink costs only $26.95. My favourite red or white wine costs multiples of that. Shit, that’s scary actually now that I see it in print.

OK, just popped the cork on a bottle of rosé to get in the mood. And, yes, it’s really refreshing. The later points I’ll try to make in this post may suffer from the fog but that’s wine bloggin’, baby.

Here we go:

My recommendations will fall into two categories – Provence and the rest of the world. I won’t wax too long on each.

Provence (in no particular order)

2016 Château la Tour de l’Eveque #319392 $18.95 I’ve recommended this rosé almost every year. It’s a beaut. Strawberries, and cherries, crisp, with a depth that defies usual Provence offerings. Love, love, love it!

 

Now, there’s a so much good rosé that’s moderately inexpensive that it might look like you shouldn’t pay too much for a sip. But, the 2016 Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé #325076 $26.95  is worth every penny. It carries a bigger citrus presence than most of the Provence pinks. Solid depth, breathless purity. OK, I made that breathless part up. But, it is pretty special. Confession: this is my favourite Provence rosé. FYI, it comes in a 1.5L edition suitable as a gift if you were coming to my dock.

Every year, every year, every year, I recommend the 2016 Carte Noir Rosé #319384 $18.95. I mean it’s different vintage each year but you get the point. This might carry the most sunshine of these Provence rosés. Bright, grapefruity sunlight. Mid-afternoon with fresh sliced tomatoes and herbs, avocados with drizzled olive oil, bread, and olives. An almost perfect combination improved immeasurably if you had bright sun and the reflection of the Mediterranean in your Wayfarers.

I won’t go on about the 2016 Miraval Rosé #342584 $22.95 (750 ml) #490870 $46.95 (1500 ml). It’s here if you want to read about it. A worthy addition to this list.

Want to save a few bucks. Question: why do they call them ‘bucks’? And no Googling – you have to impress with the fact that you already knew something for once. Anyway, the 2016 Henri Gaillard Rosé #450825 $16.95 will fit the bill. Or the Bill. This is full value – crisp, fruit lurking on the finish and, yes, refreshing. A real good example of Provence rosé.

Another great value Provence rosé is the 2016 Gassier Sables d’Azur #33621 $16.95. Professionally crafted. Brings the sunshine of the Còtes d’Azur to your mouth. Fresh and perhaps a bit deeper than you’d expect. Very nice afternoon food wine!

One last beauty from that special place – the 2015 Saint AIX Rosé #451906 $22.95 (750 ml) 2016 Saint AIX Rosé #490 904 $45.95. Another step up the weight ladder. Citrusy as well. Chill this one and serve with a light barbecue before the sun goes all the way down.

The rest of the world:

Let’s start locally. Malivoire makes two rosés – 2016 Vivant Rosé #498535 $19.95 and 2016 Ladybug Rosé #559088 $16.95. I like them both. But I prefer the Ladybug and I’ll tell you why. The Vivant is more sophisticated, subtle, and expensive than the Ladybug. I’m not two out of three of those qualities. The Ladybug is weightier, I believe a bit more food friendly and, yes, more refreshing. I get more feedback on people trying the Ladybug and loving it than almost any other recommendation.

Another local rosé that I recently tried was the 2016 Creekside Cabernet Rosé #48819 $14.95 . This was a bit of a surprise. Expecting a little sweetness, it was bone dry. Expecting stainless steel, I got a hint of oak or smokiness. Made from Cabernet Sauvignon, a somewhat atypical or non-traditional rosé grape. But then again Creekside doesn’t conform. Tart and ready for some food. Nice effort.

If it’s mid-afternoon and you’re wanting to top up the tank, pop the cork on the 2016 Brancaia Rosé #490953 $19.95. The only problem that you’ll have with this wine is that it will be gone too soon. A great wine for your introduction to chilled rosé. Classic weight, elegance.

And then there’s Tavel. Tavel is the red wine drinkers rosé. It ain’t Provence rosé. It’s so much more than a ‘summer sipper’, which BTW is a pretty pejorative term for wine as tasty as rosé. The 2016 Domaine des Carteresses Tavel #739474 $17.95, the 2016 Château d’Aquéria Tavel #319368 $21.95, the Domaine Maby Forcadière Tavel Rosé #701318 $17.95 all have the medium body and long finish associated with Tavel. And do yourself a favour – stash a couple down below for the cooler months. These wines can handle the winter and winter fare very nicely, thank you.

That’s it folks. I see that some of my annual favourites aren’t in stores yet. So, I will give you a heads up if/when they appear.

Cheers. I’m off to God’s country. Happy Canada Day (150) to my compatriots! And, Happy 4th to those folks in the US.

Bill

Buddy’s Got The Blues – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

22 Jun

Saw Buddy Guy last night. 80, and man, he still can play. And, yes, he still has the blues, poor bugger.

This week’s release (June 24) features a bunch of wines made by Canadians abroad paired with their Canadian efforts. They include: La Crema; Thomas Bachelder’s Oregon, Niagara, and Burgundy wines; Ann Sperling’s Versado (Argentina) and Southbrook wines; John Howard’s Megalomaniac and Chateau La Confession (with help from Sue-Ann  Staff); and, Moray Tawse and his Burgundy partnership with Pascal Marchand, among others. I’ve enjoyed the Tawse-Marchand, Bachelder, and La Crema efforts and now can’t wait to try the Versado. Hopefully, these successes will serve to promote Canadian wine as well.

And, remember that there may be a strike at the mother ship starting June 26th. So, stock up or go on the wagon.

Before I wade into this release, let me give you a heads up on a great gift bottle of wine – 2016 Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses Rosé #490912 $37.95. This 1.5 L edition of Bertrand’s rosé comes in a beautiful bottle with a rose carved into the base. Plus, the wine is a tasty, lip smacking pink with loads of fun fruit. I picked up a couple to pop for that moment when you want to dress up your experience.

 

It seems like Prosecco has become the new Cava. Used to be that you’d pop a cork on a Freixenet or Cordonui semi-regularly. Now, everyone has fallen in love with Prosecco. But beware – there are Proseccos and then, sigh, there are Proseccos. The good ones are good to great. The shitty ones are….well, shitty. And, there are a lot of those. This week, there’s a good one made by a Canuck, Franco Prevedello. The 2016 Prevedello Asolo Superiore Extra Dry Prosecco #262881 $16.95 is fresh, extremely dry and carries a nice tight bubbliness. Great wine to start the day – not suggesting an 8:00 am beginning but quaff this before you get serious. And, no Mimosas with this, please.

Starting or replenishing a cellar? The 2013 Laplace Madiran #103705 $17.95 is la perfect place (get the pun?) to start. This is made from the Tannat grape. I have a good friend who loves wines from the Southwest of France and he got me hooked on Tannat. Tannat usually makes a rustic wine but if done right and with some cellar time to smooth out the edges, it’s full value and great with meals that are substantial in weight – say, a red meat stew. The Laplace is a great Madiran wine. Put it down for a few years or decant for a few hours and please – this is not a standing around wine. It’s serious, structured, and bursting with lip smacking fruit.

I believe that most of us are tired of drinking the same thing over and over again. I’m talking to the McManis afficinados out there. So before I forget and in an effort to get you guys out of your woody rut. I’ve been enjoying a very special Morgon lately. I’m afraid it may run out before I’ve been able to stock up. The 2014 Laurent Gauthier Grand Cras Morgon #279059 $21.9is a great representation of what Beaujolais can aspire to. I absolutely love this stuff! Red fruit on the sniff and finish. Although it claims to be medium weight, I’d say it trends heavier than that – which is a surprise for me. Would benefit from a few years down below but easily drinkable now as well. Perfect summer evening dinner wine! Deep, black, complex, cellarable – everything that you’d want in a supper wine. I have a few faves in my Beaujolais stash and this proudly takes it’s place among them. Fall in love with Beaujolais again. But hurry because there isn’t much left.

I used to recommend a Malbec almost every week. I haven’t had a lot recently. So, sorry to all the Malbec lovers out there but my body can only withstand so much research. However, this week, there’s a malbec that I have had and enjoyed – the 2013 Alamos Selección Malbec #322800 $16.95. This is a Laura Catena effort and, thus, although low-priced, it is meticulously crafted. This is a concentrated, complex wine with all sorts of sniffs emanating from the glass. Mouthfeel is heavy minus a bit and the finish is substantial for a wine at this price. I know that I’m always trumpeting value at a higher price. I’d say this is the best Malbec that I’ve had under $20 that wasn’t made by Susanna Balbo and, if you’ve been playing along at home, you know that’s saying something.

One last little tip. There’s a Spanish wine – 2008 Anciano Gran Reserva Tempranillo Valdepenas #464214 $12.95 – that’s a great value from the Iberian peninsula. Now, it’s a bit light for a Tempranillo wine but still has loads of personality and is suited for sipping. Hard to beat the price. So, if you are thinking of stocking up for the long drawn out strike (wink, wink), pick up a few of these.

Cheers.

Bill

 

Salute to US Wine Merchants – The Rosé Daily Slosh #drinkpink

6 Jun

Saw Bonnie Raitt this past Saturday. Couldn’t find any better video to include than her rendition of a great John Hiatt song. Cameo by Dennis Quaid. “Whether your sunglasses are off or on, you only see the world you make”. BTW, she still has it in spades (yes, a bridge reference).

Joukowsky Institute, Brown University

Spent the Memorial Day weekend in Providence RI for a grad weekend at Brown University and left with some observations about how we do things differently than our neighbours to the south. And, before you neighbours start to think that I’m going to be smug or superior (which, my friends will attest, I’m fully capable of being), let me add that these things are done better there than here.

One: the inspiring, celebratory, and family-like atmosphere at Brown University grad so much better than our uni snooze fests which are just bigger iterations of high school grad. Two: in my experience, wine sales are way better there too.

About five minutes after we arrived in our hotel room, I got the shakes and needed to go get some wine. I wandered to one of my favourite wine stores in Providence – Eno on Westminster (my other fave is Bottles on Pitman). And there at the front island was a lovely WSET educated woman pouring bubbly. She said that she had chosen bubbly due to the grad weekend and thought that it would be nice if people got to try a few different incarnations of celebratory bubbly before landing on their choice.

She poured me glasses (real glass glasses) of a non-memorable take on sparkling, a great Muscadet bubbly from the Loire (on the left), and some grower Champagne. We stood and talked about each wine. I was educated on the Muscadet as I’d never seen a sparkling wine made from that grape. I go to Vouvray when I think Loire bubbly. And, we oohed and aahed together over the Champagne. Really was there any doubt that I’d like that best?

Now, compare this to what we see on weekends at the LCBO. Usually, it’s a sample provided in a wee plastic cup by a presenter who, maybe if you’re lucky, has a passing knowledge of the product they are serving. It’s seldom an employee of the mother ship. Which brings me to the issue. A wine store isn’t Costco. Although samples are designed to sell, wine isn’t a mini sausage. Maybe Costco crowds swell when free stuff is available (not ‘maybe’, crowds do swell), but no one goes to the LCBO to fill up on free rootbeer vodka in half ounce quantities. Customers go there to buy booze and get 0ut. So, why not help them with the decision, à la Eno, with an informed sales person. Think of the upsell potential alone. No one would buy the Prosecco once they sipped the Champagne. It worked that way for me this weekend.

Interesting final observation – European wine is generally cheaper at the LCBO than in Rhode Island and Florida at least (didn’t research other potential states) and very much so when comparing to Rhode Island stores. Example: Antinori’s 2010 Badia a Passignano is offered at $49.99 CAD at the mother ship, was $69.99 USD (dollar adjusted $94.62 CAD) at the ‘go to’ Italian wine shop in Providence and $53.99 USD ($72.99 CAD) in TotalWine Naples. Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo BdM is $52.95 CAD here, $79.99 USD ($108.14 CAD) in Providence and $45.97 USD ($62.15) at TotalWine in Naples. Almost every moderately expensive European wine, that I could find comps for, was cheaper here. And RI was much more expensive.

Maybe my US readers could enlighten me. Is the tax structure in RI the reason? BTW, almost all entry level Euro wines were cheaper at the two shops that I searched. Entry level being $10 USD and less. And US wines are always cheaper outside Ontario.

OK, let’s talk rosé. In a few days, I’ll highlight some white and red wines available in the June 10th. This release has loads of ‘old favourites’ in a current vintage plus a few new faces. The rosé old standbys include:

2016 Château Val Joanis Tradition Rosé #707281 $15.95 – This is from the Luberon so leans weight-wise toward Tavel and away from Provence. A bit heavier than the latter, structured and capable of matching with heavier fare than you might usually pair with rosé. I always get a couple of these for my shelves that I can pop in the summer but also keep for a cooler time.

Staying with rosé, there’s the Brangelina wine, if we can use that portmanteau anymore, 2016 Miraval Rosé #342584 $22.95. I’ve bought this in the past with the hope that, Brad or Angelina might reward loyalty to their wine by producing my screenplay – Raiders of The Lost Vat – suffice to say that it involves wine, a whip, a staggeringly handsome wine blogger from Ontario, and some flirty women – my casting would include Penelope Cruz, yeah? About the wine? Another blogger expressed disappointment with this wine given the price point and the scads of alternatives at lower prices. I agree the wine is perhaps a bit pricey but spending on rosé shouldn’t be antithetical. Exhibit 1 is the Whispering Angel that I’ve recommended previously @$26.95. The Miraval is a lovely Provence bone dry, crisp and strawberry rosé but I’m thinking the caché of Brangelina and la famille Perrin who make it drives the price point a little. Bottle is cool (large punt – size matters) and I think it’s worth a splurge.

Don’t forget the rosés that I’ve recommended over the last few weeks. You can read about them here and here. Stock up, chill, and invite me over.

I’ll be back in a few days with some reds ands whites for June 10th.

Cheers.

Bill

Aborted Crop Tour – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

26 May

I arrived at the lake this past weekend with a mighty thirst after battling the throngs straggling north from Toronto. And, the tradition is that as soon as you turn on to the cottage road, you have to open a beer. Yes, a brown rocket, a road pop, a traveller as we used to call them. It just seems like the right thing to do and I haven’t driven the car off the very narrow and hilly cottage road yet.

A trusted traveller from the past

But there was an issue – stop the truck, pop the back, rifle through the spring stock-up and pull out a warm beer. Oh yeah, and suffer the ubiquitous black flies as they gnaw on my all too too sullied flesh (not many wine blogs can weave in Hamlet, yeah?) ….. So this time, “To hell with tradition. No beer en route.”

One year, a friend and I popped into the mother ship in Washago to pick up some cold beer on our way in. We got it to the counter when I discovered that it wasn’t twist off but required a bottle opener. I said to my friend, “Wait, we won’t be able to open that in the car,” and my friend switched out the beer for a more accessible brand. The cashier looked at us and said, “You’re kidding, right? Because if you’re not, I shouldn’t sell this to you.” We assured her that we were just foolin’ around. But, lesson learned.

We arrived at the cottage, unpacked, made the bed, turned on the water pump, checked for squirrels (I hate squirrels), put the groceries (read: wine and liquor) away, and The Director headed down to the dock to catch a few rays. But what to have with dinner? It’s never too early to consider the implications of a great pairing or of a disastrous one. But suffice it to say, I wanted rosé regardless of food. And, it just so happened that I had brought up a bottle of the 2016 Whispering Angel #325076 $26.95. Reflect back on my ringing endorsement of this wine here. This is great rosé! I don’t kid around.

This week’s release (May 27) focuses on Southern Italy. This is in my sweet spot but I haven’t had any of the offerings, save the one below – so maybe after I’ve tried a few, I’ll let you know. Instead we are just going to have a wander around the rest of the world. Before I start, just a heads up that there are two rosés this week. Both are recommended each year – the 2016 Château La Tour de l’Évêque Rosé #319392 $18.95 and 2016 Gassier Sables d’Azur Rosé #033621 $16.95. These are both Côtes de Provence and available for the next few months usually. Great crisp summer rosés – nervy, fresh, dry. Can be paired with salads, light BBQ and great with fish or seafood. I enjoy the La Tour so much that I asked for a bottle for Christmas and, damn if I didn’t get one! Shout out to S & B.

Sardinia is included in the Southern Italy feature and an Essentials red is the 2014 Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva #425488 $14.95. Cannonau is Sardinian for Grenache, Garnacha. This is a rustic, gutsy wine – so, food is a must – maybe ribs, pork something or other. Its medium plus body, leathery finish and Garnacha fruit make it a solid value. It’s on sale now ($2 off) at the price above.

A 2010 Bordeaux can be a beaut. 2010 was the third or was it fourth “Vintage of The Century.” It’s hard to keep track of those expert self-promoters, Les Bordelaise. This week there’s a relatively cheap 2010 – Château Blaignan #416727 $21.95. This wine doesn’t need any more time down below although could withstand a couple more years, if you’re so inclined. It’s ready for pop and pour. Smooth, well balanced – perhaps a bit lighter than I was expecting. Bordeaux blend scents of cassis. Some oakiness dissipates after a swallow or two. Good value in Bordeaux.

I’m sounding a bit like a broken record because I’ve recommended the 2005 Balbas Reserva #085183 $21.95 a gazillion times. Sandalwood or cedar on the nose (I know there’s a difference there but I can’t tell), loads of warmth and structure still. Very youthful for a wine that’s already over 10 years old. Impress someone with this as a host(ess) gift.

While I was at the cottage, I popped the cork on a bottle of the 2014 Henry of Pelham Speck family Reserve Baco Noir #461699 $24.95. This is a substantial wine. I’m not sure if any of you Ontarians out there can remember when the first few vintages of Malivoire’s Old Vines Foch came out. Oh, it almost made you giddy. It still kind of does for me. Well, this is in that class. A lesser known and modestly vinted grape masterfully delivered. Dates and jamminess. This has an almost port-like finish. Nuts and dark fruits. Henry of Pelham makes a decent entry level Back Noir as well. But, once you’ve had this, you’re not going back there.

Let me know if you have any illegal traditions involving vacations. I can’t be the only one.

Cheers.

Bill

#Sad – The Red Daily Slosh

11 May

Why “Blues Deluxe”? Well, there’s a crisis in my life. I’m a sports fan. And, in that role, I have two favourite teams – the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Blue Jays. The Raptors were eliminated from the playoffs after a shameful showing against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Jays just stink, plain and simple. Lately I have been spoiled by both these teams as they battled from pathetic through mediocre to almost victorious over the past few seasons. But, this year the results are just sad. Or, as The Donald says, #sad. And, since it’s a wine blog and there are other sufferers out there (think – Browns fans – oh yeah I’m a Browns fan too, aargh!), I’m going to recommend some wines to quaff while you’re sad, discouraged, or down in the dumps.

Let me approach it this way. Comfort food is what we crave when we’re a bit gloomy, tired and frustrated, yeah? So what wines do we associate with comfort foods? Comfort being the proxy for the mood. Pair with comfort food and we’ll match with #sad.

Comfort food is a very individual thing running the gamut from popcorn to mac and cheese. So, I’m just going to use my ‘comfort food’ in the pairing. So don’t try this at home unless your comfort food is………..SOUP! Hot, vegetable-based soup. It might be easier to simply pair my soup with whites. However, this is a red wine edition. I think I’m up to the challenge.

What to drink post LeBron torching the Raps while slurping my homemade Cream of Fennel soup? I’m thinking that we need to stay rich to match the cream and savoury to match the fennel. So, let’s pound a bottle or two (remember: we are gloomy and two bottles is kind of a requirement if you want to cry uncontrollably later on – I know this from my research) of the 2013 Allegrini Palazzo Dela Torre #672931 $24.95. I realize that I’ve recommended this wine a million times, even this vintage. But, it’s in this release (May 13) and it works. I feel the doom and gloom lifting already. This is a rich wine but medium-bodied to fit the heft of the soup and to lighten your mood. The appasimento technique gives it loads of depth – dried fruits, old leather, and maybe a whiff of Old Spice like a hug from your grandfather. Now, that has to make you feel better.

The other #sad pairing has to go with my favourite – Celeriac Soup. I know it’s a bit weird as a favourite. Let me explain why it’s comforting. My mother was a great cook. Hell, she helped pen a cookbook in 1935 when she attended the University of Toronto. I have a copy of said cookbook held together with elastics. One of my food memories is her Cream of Celery Soup. It probably exceeded the DRI of sodium – those were the days – but it sure was comforting. So, I’ve had to figure out my own recipe and it includes celeriac to bump it up a notch. Celeriac says earthy to me. Just scrubbing the bulb before you chop it tells you that. So, an earthy red but not too heavy is the ticket. So, let’s focus on the last release (May 13) and recommend the following: the 2015 Errazuriz Pinot Noir #494807 $24.95. Pinot Noir carries earthiness as a rule and this doesn’t disappoint. It’s sneaky powerful like the one below. Looks innocent enough in the glass but opens up to show you some red fruit and forest funk. Funky like the celeriac. A nice bite to cut the cream. A wine that punches above it’s weight.

From the April 29th release, the 2015 Renato Ratti Ochetti Langhe Nebbiolo #475913 $23.95 is a quiet bomb. You might not have had Nebbiolo or love it and can’t afford it as Barolo or Barbaresco. But, there are other less expensive incarnations that shouldn’t be dismissed – DOC’s Gattinara, Ghemme, and Bramaterra are all also brimming with the power and finesse of Nebbiolo. There’s also the Langhe DOC east of Barolo and south of Barbaresco that gives us great Nebbiolo at a discount. After giving it some air, the Ratti Langhe opens up with a raspberry jam and eucalyptus nose. The colour reminds me of a Burgundy – portending sneaky power. Did I say, “Portending?” It has a complex gargle with sandalwood, red fruit, and then a medium plus finish. I actually said out loud, “Shit, that’s a great wine.” I was all by myself. Seriously, I’ve got issues – drinking and talking all by myself. I enjoyed it with grilled Italian sausage and quinoa salad. As good as that was, I should have just quaffed it by its lonesome to pay homage. If you can’t afford Barolo, pick this up to experience quintessential Nebbiolo. Forget that. Even if you do have a cellar full of Barolo, pick this up! 

Another red from the April 29th release is disappearing quickly. The 2015 Domaine des Houdieres Fleurie #342725 $16.95 is a Cru Beaujolais that warrants a ‘buy’, to use market terms. I tend to stick to Moulin-a-Vent (power) and Morgon (spiciness) in my Beaujolais sipping. Fleurie can be a bit too light for me – too Beaujolais if you know what I mean. I got talked into this Fleurie at the mother ship. Glad I took the $17 plunge. This is very aromatic – pure Gamay. Red fruit from sniff to swallow to lip smacking finish. Perfect Spring red with an arugula salad with grilled peaches. Ah, I’m just screwing with you on the pairing – I made it up. Sounds good though doesn’t it? I had the Fleurie with cheesy nibbles. Great value Beaujolais!

Hopefully, I’ve provided some help to those that are a bit woebegone like me. Remember: Sports disappointment is simply a state of mind. It’s a shitty state of mind but still……you know what I mean. There’s always next year.

Cheers.

Bill

Remember: You can check inventory for all the wines recommended by clicking on the link (Stock Number and Price), dropping down the Cities menu, choosing your burg and clicking on Find Stores.

Young Bruce and The Rosé/White Daily Slosh

9 May

This day (May 9) in 1974, Bonnie Raitt played a concert at Harvard Square in Cambridge Mass. The opening act was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Rolling Stone critic John Landau saw Springsteen and wrote, ” I have seen rock n’ roll’s future and his name is Bruce Springsteen.” The Boss looks so young in this video.

There’s a thing that I perceive in wine circles. I’m not sure if it has a real name so I’ll call it ‘wine agnosticism’. It means that wine peeps don’t give too much bias to a certain wine variety. What I mean is that wine peeps seem to appreciate all wines. It’s kind of like a code. You’re supposed to be accepting of every mainstream wine and adventuresome on the not-so-mainstream varieties, if you want to call yourself a wine geek. My impression is that it’s a personal failing if you can’t find anything good to say about a whole class or a single variety of wine. Particularly, if it’s a sample. Sort of like foodies – do they have to like everything as a requirement for their Foodie Membership Card? Not many restaurant reviews start off with, “I didn’t try the oysters as I can’t stand them.” See what I mean.

Confession: I don’t appreciate all wines no matter how well done they are. Big, brash, oaked Cab Sav? Not for me; no matter how cultish or expensive they might be. Cava? Sorry, unless I’m in Spain, I’m going for another type of bubbly. There are others as well. Not many but a couple. And, oh yeah, the biggest none starter for me is Pinot Grigio. And don’t tell me that I just haven’t had the good ones. I have.

So, does this mean that I have to surrender my wine creds? Do I have to appreciate all wines to have a wine blog? I’ll let you decide. Be gentle.

Why the ramble? Well, this week’s (May 13th) release features saké. Now, I’ve had saké as a matter of politesse at an Asian restaurant. Oh, and I bought a bunch when I visited the Toronto saké company – Izumi – in the Distillery District. But, I don’t get it, really. I approach it like a book that’s frustratingly difficult to get in to – I’m not going to run out of good books to read/wine to drink, so why put myself through this? Could be why War and Peace is still on the shelf. So folks, no saké for you!

When people outside of Canada think of Canadian wines, they probably think Inniskillin and/or ice wine. Indeed, Inniskillin is a fixture of domestically and internationally marketed Canadian wine. They have holdings in the Okanagan as well as Niagara and slay it with many of their labels. This week, there’s the Niagara Peninsula 2014 Inniskillin Reserve Riesling #034025 $18.95. This is dry with loads of green apples and tree fruit. Crisp – serve chilled with seafood or munchies. Could develop nicely over time if you want to cellar. If you buy the Flat Rock Nadja’s Vineyard (which I do), this is a nice example of the differences site provides. The result is significantly more minerally in Nadja and more accessible fruit up front in Innikillin’s take. Cool

Another white that would line up nicely for upcoming summer dinners is the 2014 Tom Gore Chardonnay #458810 $19.95. This is a straight up California Chard with some butter and yet a really nice crisp finish. Nary a syrupy note that sometimes rears it’s head with some of these wines.

 

 

In a recent post, I sang the praises of rosé and recommended some worthy efforts in the new vintage. This week, I need to add a couple more. The 2016 Domaine des Carteresses Tavel Rosé #739474 $17.95 is a beaut. Tavel for me is the pink that I quaff after dark. It is so much more forthright than most rosés. Big on the swirl and the swallow but dry, strawberry goodness. Hint of garrigue. This is for you red drinkers out there that eschew rosés as insipid or light-weight. Pick it up and if you don’t like it, send the unfinished bottle to me.

The other pink newly available this week is another wine from Provence; more correctly stated AP Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence – the 2016 Saint Aix Rosé #490904 $45.95.  Before you dismiss it as too expensive, remember it’s a 1500 ml bottle. For Bill, he just has to remember how many Whispering Angels he purchased last week @ $26.95 to understand the value. BTW, Whispering Angels are not the new dance troupe at the Beef Baron Gentleman’s Club. Think how impressive that big bottle of Aix would be sitting on your patio table, very quickly draining – causing just a little concern among your fiends as to your drinking habits. Don’t be too hard on yourself. This is good shit and deserves a quick demise. Similar to my earlier posted Provence rosé, this is crisp, bone dry, and full of cherries, strawberries and perhaps many other easily suggestible red fruits. Go ahead and say raspberry and watch everyone nod their heads, “Yeah, I catch the raspberry too,” they’ll say. Sophisticated wine.

I’ll be back later in the week with a few reds to pick up.

Cheers

Bill

Remember: You can check your city’s inventory by clicking on the link (SKU and Price), dropping down the ‘Cities” menu, choosing your burg, and clicking on Find Stores.

 

Ginny and The Rosé Daily Slosh

28 Apr

Ginny and her Cong

We used to have a great Labrador Retriever named Ginny. She was everyone’s dog – neighbours’, family and friends’. Her near perfection (in our minds) has made us reluctant to get another dog. Who could compare to her? We’d just judge, love less, and destroy the new dog’s confidence and self-image. It’s kind of like your second child. You try to love them as much as the first but they’re toast from the get go. Just kidding, Andrew.

Well, this has something to do with this week’s release as it’s got loads of rosé. How does that relate, you ask? Well, I’ve picked out the name for our next Labrador Retriever if we can pull the trigger – Rose. See, there’s a connection – tenuous but………

The new rosés are this past vintage (2016) in most cases and I haven’t had them in the current year but I find that rosés tend to have a house style or a consistency between vintages at least to my palate. So, I’m recommending them sight untasted based on the 2015 vintage.

A few posts ago, I mentioned that there wasn’t any wine that tasted as much like the Mediterranean as did rosé from Provence. It evokes Antibbes, Menton, Nice. Well, how about 2 wines from Côtes du Provence? Both of these are bone dry.

I was at a roof-top bar in NYC last year and the person who had gotten us through security with simply a whisper in the ear of a very big guy asked me to recommend her a nice sipping wine. I whispered back that she would appreciate the Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé #325076 $16.95. She loved it! She really loved it! This wine may be my favourite rosé outside of a Tavel. It carries the citrus scents and gargle that’s typical of Provence. Plus, it is so friggin’ smooth. Seriously. You know the smack that many rosés provide. Well, this has it but the sensation is ‘hard to explain’ is what’s in my notes. Exquisite and not to be wasted on moments that you’re not going to give it the full attention it deserves. Have it with just a friend or a maximum of two friends, if like me, you only have two. Don’t be distracted. And, if you’ve been holding on to a couple bottles of Brangelina’s rosé, Miraval, pop the cork on those suckers and reload your cellar with this. It’s far, far better.

A perennial recommendation on these pages is the Carte Noir Rosé #319384 $18.95. It’s made by Les Maìtres Vignerons de la Presqu’ile de Saint-Tropez. Saint-Tropez is where Brigitte Bardot resided for many years. I previously recommended this wine with the following endorsement, “I believe that Brigitte Bardot lived in Saint-Tropez when she was, well, really hot. Maybe as un hommage to Brigitte, you could chill a bottle of this and serve with roast endangered species, carpaccio di baby seal?” This is crisp and the use of Cinsault provides some brushy characteristics – light and refreshing. It’s full of the red fruits of Grenache and moderate ABV at 13.5%. Perfect for the sun or apres-sun with some olives, tomatoey stuff, and bread.

Two other rosés that I’ve loved in years past are the Brancaia Rosé #490938 $19.95 and the Viña Esmeralda Rosé #490 920 $13.95. The first is made from 100% Merlot that’s had some time to sit on the lees in stainless steel. It’s bone dry and smooth – sophisticated. They take a similar approach to their red wines, in particular Tre and Ilatraia – balanced, elegant. A wine to sip with your smoking jacket on and Debussy spinning on the turntable. OK, forget Debussy, he was a bit weird. So, put on Amy Winehouse or Paloma Faith.

The Torres effort – Viña Esmeralda has a little more rock and roll and a hint of sweetness. I’d say it’s best when the sun is still up. Mostly Garnacha – so red and flowery. It might more approximate a New World rosé for me. Maybe Rush and flip flops?

Cheers

Bill

I will post on more great wines in this (April 29) release later. And, I will post my annual Rosés For The Dock edition just before we kick off summer.

Wine Neurosis – The Partial Red Daily Slosh

26 Apr

“Bill, would you like to share something with the group today?” “Yes, my name’s Bill and I’m a wine neurotic.” There I’ve said it. I’m not alone. Most wine people are at least a bit neurotic. We should have our own support group – Wine Neurotics Anonymous WNA (that’s not NWA, kids). Kind of like AA but instead of the ubiquitous coffee, substitute wine bottles covered in brown paper bags for blind tasting at our meetings. Maybe neurotic isn’t the proper word but let’s explore anyway.

The first live person that pops up when you google ‘neurotic’

You know that you could be suffering from wine neurosis if you: write tasting notes (guilty); subscribe to at least two wine magazines/websites (guilty); view travel as a bit of a wine explore (guilty); have a wine blog; and, have a Twitter account that consists mostly of wine related folks (guilty and guilty). If that’s you, you will understand the following.

We take wine seriously. There are many indications of this but the the most flagrant foul is in pushing for every wine experience to be a home run, or should I say slam dunk to keep the metaphor consistent.

My modest wine cellar…..kidding

Say, you’re asked to take a bottle to a friend’s house. If you’re like me, you try to figure out what’s being served and then you stand in front of your babies and agonize over the proper pairing. Then, and I’m not kidding here, you return that bottle minutes before you leave the house to replace it with a ‘better’ choice. Or, regardless of the significance of the occasion, you want the wine not to just be good but to be brilliant. If you’re lucky, it is. If not, you have to admit that you’re a little disappointed. Go ahead it’s OK, we’ve all experienced it. Oddly, this doesn’t pertain to trying different and new wines. You’re built for that and sometimes you just don’t care for them. But, that’s not a ‘true’ disappointment.

This need leads me, at least, to buy Reserva Rioja, Chianti Classico Riserva Gran Selezione, Bordeaux with ‘ieme’ on the label, Cru Beaujolais, and other vineyard specific wines. My thinking is that it might increase my odds of the perfection I seek – plus, maybe limit any potential disappointment. And by perfection, I mean my perfection – not a hundred point score laid on by others. But, for my appreciation and experience. Well, I’m changing that. This week (April 29) there’s a perfect example of wines that I haven’t been giving enough love to – Crianza wines.

* Let me explain in very, very general terms

  • Crianza is the third tier of Spanish red wines (wine aged at least 2 years after the harvest of which 6 months – 12 in Ribera del Deuro and Rioja – in oak)
  • Reserva the second (wine aged for a prolonged period according to appellation), and
  • Gran Reserva the top in most DOC’s and DOCa’s (selected wine aged at least 18-24 months in oak and 36-42 months in bottle).

So, wouldn’t most wine people trend towards the top two tiers? I know that I, unreasonably, do. But in reviewing my notes on a few Crianzas available this week, I realized that they performed brilliantly. And, if I’m honest (confession: usually I lie a lot) they probably are better suited to some of the occasions where I pop the cork on something more expensive. In this case, it isn’t settling for less – it’s making the perfect choice.

Say, sitting at the cottage thinking what wine to serve with a simple BBQ’d red meat meal. A well-crafted Crianza would be perfect? And, you would save money for that ‘ieme’ wine that you’re craving.

This week there are three worthy Crianzas for anyone’s table (there are 4 but I haven’t had the 2014 Luis Cañas Crianza). First there’s the 2012 Viña Real Crianza #657411 $18.95 by CVNE. These guys make a zillion bottles of Rioja and that’s only a very slight exaggeration. I’ve got several bottles of their Cune Gran Reserva in reserve (pardon the redundancy) for a special  moment with friends, imaginary and otherwise. But, why splurge if you could get this Crianza for half the price? It carries all the hallmark Rioja/Tempranillo aromas of tasty oak, leather, and red fruits and has a great tangy finish that makes it food friendly. The tannins are solid and would help to nicely cut through some of the fat of a good burger.

Aside: A burger cannot be made from lean meat IMHO. It gets a cardboard consistency. Add some pork or medium ground beef to the mixture if you insist on lean beef. A little fat in a lamb burger – yum. If you don’t believe me ask Rachel Ray who , BTW, coined the word ‘yum’.

The second Crianza is the 2012 Torres Celeste Crianza #210872 $20.95. If CVNE makes a zillion bottles of wine, Torres makes 2 zillion. And yet, they still keep the quality up. Plus, they’ve become an international player with wineries and partnerships in the US and Chile. I had this Crianza the last time it was released about a year ago and loved the drinkability of the wine. Where maybe you’d need food with some of the other Crianza’s I’d recommend, this is fine by itself. And, in North America we drink a ton of wine by itself. This has a darkness to it that’s surprising – dark fruit, anise, burned toast. Less red – more dark. Great sipper.

The last is the 2012 Dios Ares Crianza #305912 $17.95. This wine needs a little time in the glass or on decant, in my mind. It may appear harsh to some if just popped and poured and that’s not the vibe we’re looking for. Lip smacking acidity on the finish, pepperiness, and red fruits on the gargle. Like this a lot for the price. But, that’s an endorsement after some air. Perfect for those burgers I mentioned above.

Cheers

Bill – President of WNA (pending confirmation)

*Explanation of tiers of Spanish wine shamefully taken from The World Atlas of Wine  Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson

PS – I will post on some other great wines in this week’s release later

Are You OK? The Rainbow Daily Slosh

14 Apr

Had to put this in today. We are seeing the Dixie Chicks on Tuesday. I like them. Could be the boots?

When I was studying at university (if you knew me then, you are laughing uncontrollably now), the pop wisdom was reflected in books like I’m OK, You’re OK and How To Be Your Own Best Friend. The thinking was that our problems stemmed from a lack of self-love. I remember talking to a criminal client who had assaulted his wife over and over again. He said to me with a straight face, “I can’t love myself, so how am I expected to love her.” Loving her, dude? Seriously, we are just aiming for not killing her.

I had thought that this philsophy of self-love had disappeared and a new more ‘enlightened but fleeting’ thinking had taken it’s place years ago. But, I was creeping Facebook the other day and was struck with the number of ‘Likes’ that had something to do with a saying roughly about loving yourself. Some were quite clever and others just trite and simple.

And, then I remembered all the commercials, usually aimed at women, that talked about loving who you are (and buying some of our shit) regardless of what you look like. Or, conversely, loving yourself because we make you look so darn great. Self-love actualized through shopping. I wish that the problems facing us today could be solved with a little self-love. Drop thousands of copies of How To Be Your Own Best Friend on Syria. Presto. Peace.

Regardless, I know that I’m mostly OK and, unfortunately for those around me, a bit flawed as well.

What’s this have to do wine. Not much really, I just wanted to ramble a bit before I discussed the juice.

This weekend’s release (April 15) has a load of great new wines (94 in all). A marketing focus on Mediterranean wines, Aussie whites, and some local talent is prevalent. On the local front, there’s the 2014 Henry of Pelham Family Tree Red #247882 $18.95. I tasted this wine at my golf club as a sample to evaluate for the ‘house red’. It’s a blend of Syrah (33%), Merlot (29%), Cabernet Franc (19%), and Back Noir (5%). It’s seen quite a bit of time in oak (17 mos.) and you can both smell and taste the effect of the barrel time. It’s still crisp and juicy with nice acidity and integrated tannins. I like it a lot and think it’s perfect for a ‘house’ wine. A very quaffable wine and a great example of how well HoP take care of their stuff. Good label always.

We have family that recommended this wine to me years ago. They buy a bunch of it. I got an early sample of it this past week. The 2013 Papale Linea Oro Primitivo di Mandurai #261784 $18.95 is a Puglian beauty. It reflects the heat of that region. When we were there a few years ago, we were struck by the breadth of the agricultural industry there. Olives tress as far as the eye could see, vines neatly organized in straight rows all over the countryside. This wine is made with the Primitivo (early ripening) grape which is a DNA match with Zinfandel. That’s scientist-speak for it’s the same thing. So, even though it’s treated a little less bigly here, it’s still chewy, big enough and fruity. I find these a little less one-dimensional than a similarly priced Zin and this is true to that experience. A great host(ess) wine and one that I’ll be stocking up on for the summer ahead, if it lasts that long. Shout out to S & P.

I believe that you can actually taste the Mediterranean sun in the rosés of Provence. But, a close second are the red wines of rest of Southern France. This week, there’s a real good example of that in the 2014 Michel Gassier Nostre Païs #295410 $21.95. This comes from Costières de Nïmes an AC in the Southern Rhone. So, think a blend similar to a Côtes du Rhône and in this case with a whack of Grenache and Syrah. This producer seldom disappoints through their whole portfolio but I like this effort as much as any of theirs. This reflects the garrigue in the glass and on the swallow with loads of black fruit. Moderately elevated ABV (probably due to the Grenache) but no real heat. Good short term cellar candidate. And, maybe you don’t taste the Mediterranean but you can smell it in this wine.

A couple of good efforts from Argentina are the 2015 Zuccardi Serie A Torrontés #389262 $16.95 – great extra dry big-nosed wine. Summer sipper by the lake. Has an Alsatian vibe to it.

And the 2014 Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon #135202 $19.95. A New World CS Full-bodied and structured with loads of fruit. This would make a good ‘house’ wine as well. Crowd pleaser.

A wine that I’m going to pick up:

2014 Tornatore Nerello Mascalese #487090 $21.95 – we are travelling to Sicily this September and I’m cramming on Sicilian wine. This wine is from the Etna Rosso DOC  which is a trending wine region right now. It’s made from, you guessed it, Nerello Mascelese. I’ve been reading John Szabo’s fabulous book Volcanic Wines, a fabulous book (he says redundantly) that’s as pretty as it is well-researched and informative. I’m going to write a post on some of the books that I’ve been reading lately. I love cramming. But, then again, I love me too. Well, today anyway. I’m OK.

Cheers

Bill

P.S It’s all about the boots.

 

Wine Apps – Do I Need One?

7 Apr

Over the years of smart phone use (is it smartphone or smart phone? I will ask Siri), I’ve fooled around with wine apps that help me organize my cellar, pick a wine at a restaurant or retail, and provide me with tasting notes from ‘experts’ or slobs just like me.

I’ve put them on my phone in a moment of whimsy when I think that I’ll use them. Only to take them off when I’m worried that I’m using up all my data storage for an app I haven’t really used enough. They have been of very limited use and in very specific situations, is what I’m saying.

A few months ago, I received an invitation from the Natalie MacLean’s peeps to try their new app and write about it. I thought that it might be cool to do just that. But, in fairness to the other hard working developers and entrepreneurs, I thought that I should try as many as I could to see what they bring and if I can make a recommendation. Yes, you are right. I have lots of time on my hands and Siri says it’s OK. Siriously, I asked her.

Wine apps seem to fall into 4 non-mutually exclusive categories:

Retail Apps – inventories, availabilities, etc. at a particular chain – my example would be the LCBO app but I see one for the SAQ as well as other large retailers;

Recommendation Apps – these generally provide pairing tips, tasting notes, etc. for specific labels or general guidelines. Some are word based but most allow label scans to identify the wine;

Cellar Management – These apps allow you to keep a categorized inventory of your cellar, add your tasting notes, and, in some cases participate in a community of like-minded souls

Search – These apps provide a search tool that accesses retail inventories and pricing. Sometimes they are matched to accepted review and winery data.

Many apps are tied to other media. Such as magazines, zines, blogs, and/or subscription series.

But how to test drive and against what criteria? Criteria? That would a bit too scientific for this blog. So, I’m going to just use them and tell you what I think. Wish me luck.

Apps, that I’ve loaded are:

LCBO, Natalie McLean, Vivino, Pocket Wine Pairing, Corkz, Winepop, Wine Cellar Database, Vinocell. Some are free and others either you pay up front or there are in-use enhancements that cost. BTW, they are all “the number 1 app.”

I realize this has been done before, most recently in my world by Richard Hemming at http://www.jancisrobinson.com (subscription needed). But I think I’ll give it a try. If there are other apps that I should try, let me know. I’ll report back in awhile.

Cheers

Bill

 

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