Tag Archives: LCBO

#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

 

Sale – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

31 Mar

The mothership has a lot of wines. Hell, they introduce about 120 new ones every other weekend. And, when you have that many wines, you need to put a few on sale to open up some shelf space. I bought a case of sale wine this week. Best buys were Bibi Graetz’ Casamatta Rosso #330712 $12.25 (sorry, I cleared out Masonville) and two appasimento faves 2014 The Foreign Affair The Conspiracy #149237 $17.95 and 2013 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre #632971 $20.95 – I believe the Palazzo is only on sale in certain stores (Masonville had it on sale).

I just love the Allegrini wine – a baby Amarone for half the price. I really don’t need it to be on sale to lust after it. And, The Conspiracy is a great introduction to how this winery approaches the method to enrich flavours without being overly raisiny or hot with alcohol – this wine at only 13%. Both great efforts.

The Casammatta is a nice, simple sipping red for pizza or Eggos with whipped cream. If you want to peruse the wines on sale you can find them here. Note that it’s “while supplies last’ and many may be gone or not available at your local. Scroll down the list as there are some great values there that I didn’t mention and you might find your favourite on sale.

Baseball season is upon us. Basketball playoffs and the opening of baseball season are about the two greatest times in sport. Oh yeah, and The Masters is next weekend. This time of year also marks the beginning of fantasy baseball season. Now, point of clarification, fantasy baseball is not where Victoria Secret models beat out grounders or turn a nifty double play around the horn. Although….it could be a fantasy for some. Back on earth, I had my fantasy baseball draft last weekend. And, as is the practice, I brought a tasty wine to accompany my cunning assembly of the eventual winning team. Can you spell Repeat? I picked it as the last of my stash of this wine knowing that this weekend (April 1), it was going to be back on the shelves. The 2006 Ardal Reserva #167700 $21.95 is a wine that I bought a bunch of when it last visited town. This wine is drinking perfectly right now (why my half a case disappeared so quickly) and continuing for another three or four years. It’s mature – balanced, smooth – judicious use of oak leads to a cedar sniff but not enough to blot out the scrubbiness or the dark fruit on the shortening swallow. And sticking with the theme, there’s a hint of leather on the nose. Tannins well integrated and it still possesses enough acid to avoid flabbiness. I think it’s one of the better values in aged Ribera del Duero wines that I’ve seen in a while. Similar in style to the 2005 Balbas Reserva that I always pimp. Get a bunch!

Chile brings value. In fact, I recommended a Casillero del Diablo wine to my niece as a host gift that became the hosts new BFF. You don’t have to sell the farm to get tasty treats from this country. This week, 2014 Primus The Blend #712463 $19.95 arrives. Truth be told, it’s been herre for a while already. I opened a bottle last week and have to disagree with James Suckling. I didn’t find the wine ready to “Drink now.” It seemed pretty serious and reserved. I agree that it is chewy which reminded me in mouthfeel a bit of Barossa Shiraz but this is a blend of Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon with some wee bits of Petit Verdot and Merlot. After I left it alone for an hour or two, which in my case requires some serious restraint, it opened up and had a meaty, medium bodied, dustiness to it. I think that it may proceed to a better place in time or just decant now for a couple hours. Great food wine.

At our house, there’s my wine and then there’s that of The Director. Despite the trends of the day (ABC, etc.), she is firmly ensconced in the ATC club Anything That’s Chardonnay. And, when we venture to the lake, it’s a couple of La Cremas or Mer Soleils that accompany us each time. This week, the 2014 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay #962886 $29.95 returns. What can I say? It’s a prototypical Sonoma Chardonnay with oak present but not overwhelming, apples, and a little citrus. Creamy finish. If this is your style, grab one or two. It is “Director Approved” and extremely food friendly.

We have a friend who is always popping a cork on sparkling wine as soon as you cross the threshold. Yes you guessed it, I go to her house every morning now. I think that I’ve got her off the Prosecco and on to the Crémant de Anything. But, my favourite is the ‘de Bourgogne’ made from the aforementioned Chardonnay. The Bailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne #991562 $19.95 is full value. Dry, crisp and lively. A great ‘first’ sip – not to be confused with a food wine. If not this exact wine, you should be able to find a Crémant de Bourgogne by either Louis Bouillot or Cave de Lugny in brut or brut rosé – both superior examples of the style and worth every penny – hey, we don’t have pennies anymore, yahoo – worth every nickel.

Some frequent flyers on this site, gave me a heads up that the 2011 Iturria Tinto #481408 $20.95 was good juice. I picked up a couple bottles and tasted it the other night. It is a sophisticated wine, well settled into its drinking window. Significant time in oak shows it in the nose but has softened over time in bottle – good balance – peppery – Garnacha fruit peeking through. Tempranillo and a small dose of Garnacha from Toro where value is good. Shout out to Joanne and Oliver.

Remember: You can check the availability of each wine by clicking on the link (stock number and price), dropping down the city menu, choosing your city and clicking on Find Stores.

Senior Discount – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

18 Mar

A few months ago, or was it longer, they allowed supermarkets in Ontario to sell wine and craft beer. Oh, not every one of them (supermarkets that is). Just a select few and you don’t know until you wander the aisles looking for wine and beer if the one you’re in does. It is so crazy what passes for the responsible sale of alcohol in Ontario. I mean wouldn’t you want a person that’s jonesing for their third box of Maria Christina of the day to avoid driving from store to store?

The other day when I was in Sobey’s (Wonderland and Oxford – right beside my new favourite LCBO), I stumbled onto the wine display. I felt a bit like Henry Morton Stanley (go ahead and Google him, if you must). Well, the wine selection, as one might expect, wasn’t all that interesting. Some local stuff, some standby imports and being a snob, there just wasn’t anything worth my lofty palate. But, I needed to get a few cans of beer. And I found what I was looking for – Great Lakes Brewery Pompous Ass English Ale #408054 $2.65 – my new ‘go to’ beer. And, not just because I am one.

Now, here’s the interesting part. You had faith that it would eventually get interesting, didn’t you? I took my purchases to the counter (there are designated “Wine and Beer ” counters, I’m not shitting you). And, the check out woman who was a few years younger than me, asked me for ID. Seriously? Apparently it’s a ‘RULE’. It’s more a question of whether I get the seniors discount – and I do (which is a great idea for the LCBO BTW – Senior’s Tuesdays – a fifth of Scotch for $5?). The rule is that all people must show ID. That’s how the system will protect us from youngsters between 50 and 70 years of age getting all gooned up on supermarket wine and falling asleep before the evening news. Makes sense.

This release (March 18) doesn’t require you to show your ID as it’s only available at the mother ship. Front page trumpets “California Stars”, and they are just that. Paul Hobbs, Belle Glos, Cakebread, Silver Oak, etc. The only one of the offerings that I’ve tasted is the 2015 Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel #942151 $29.95. I’ve pimped this wine in previous vintages. In most years, this is one of the best sub-$40 Zins out there. This year it shines again. I’m not sure if it’s the impact of Sonoma but this wine is so much more restrained than most Zin. That doesn’t mean it’s insipid or boring – it certainly isn’t either. Loads of fruit and toast in the glass. Very lively, fresh. It would be a great steak wine or good with something else BBQ’d. Similar experience to Ridge’s Geyserville. Highly recommended.

“Back in the day,” he says sagely, “We drank gallons of Lindemans Cawarra Chardonnay/Semillon.” I’m not speaking figuratively here. We drank gallons of this stuff. It was cheap. It was dependable and people liked it. The blend wasn’t one that you would find anyplace else either. Kind of a one off. Well, there’s another blend with Chardonnay that carries the same value – 2015 Zuccardi Serve A Chardonnay/Viognier #262097 $16.95. This blend hasn’t the snap that the Lindeman’s did. It’s rounder due to the Viognier and has a floral finish. More elegant, actually. And, closer to a Chardonnay focused white. This would be a great stand around wine. For your first (and, sadly only) Spring Open House. People will ask what it is and where you got it.

Too many people turn their noses up at any wine that carries even a hint of sweetness. Either it’s a mistaken diet kind of thing. Or, they remember back to Blue Nun and Black Tower. And remembering those times, usually means some illness after too much of The Nun. Well, it’s time to cool it with the hate. Sweetness isn’t ‘bad’ or unpleasant; certain sweeter wines go great with Asian inspired food. Plus, if there’s a nice bit of acidity, the sweetness is complimentary not cloying. The 2015 Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling #038117 $19.95 is a perfect example of this balance. This isn’t actually Sweet it’s technically a Medium. I bought a few of the 2012 version and it had to be one of the best Rieslings I’ve ever had from Niagara. Still have one left and will let it mellow. You can drink the 2015 now or let it sit for a year or two minimum. It’s a powerful Riesling experience.

A wine that i’m eager to pick up and try is the 2015 Jean-Perrier & Fils Cuvée Gastronomie Monduese Savoie #272112 $21.95. We don’t get much Savoie wine here. Most of the production in Savoie doesn’t leave France. Lots of other wine geeks talk favourably about the region and I’m anxious to try some. Plus, Mondeause is a grape that I haven’t had before. Should be cool.

That’s all I got this week. If I taste some of the other offerings, I’lll tweet about them.

Cheers

Bill

Remember: You can check the availability of each wine by clicking on the link (stock number and price), dropping down the city menu, choosing your city and clicking on Find Stores.

Blogging Peril? – A Friday Night Ramble

10 Mar

I’ve been communicating to my peeps for over 8 years now and I’ve noticed a subtle change in the wine journalism that I read. Before I ramble further, let me expose my biases.

I write because I love to write. I write about wine because I love wine. I’m an amateur. I identify as a blogger and am proud of it. I reach a fraction of the readers that other bloggers or wine writers do. I get it. I only matter to a few. I love those few!

I like the wine blogging community too. I appreciate their contribution to wine education, wine culture, and wine buddyism. Wine buddyism is the camaraderie that wine people experience when discussing, drinking, and appreciating wine together. FYI, it works best while doing the drinking part.

I like that this community, in an effort to make wine more approachable, are generally inclined to communicate with most wine drinkers; instead of just those that have an elevated understanding of wine. However, I notice a troubling trend.

It seems to me that more and more posts have a connection to a gift of sorts. At the extreme, it could be a trip and tour of a wine region or winery. At the low end, it’s simply a sample or samples. And, in fairness and to be transparent, I am not allowed samples in this Victorian jurisdiction unless I am at the cellar door or one of a few professionals paid by the LCBO. I pay for every drop that I review Goddammit. So, I could just be whiney here and, hell yes, I’d take a free trip and samples too. That’s not the point that I’m going to make.

I read The Emperor of Wine many years ago and was fascinated by the origins of Robert Parker’s influence. In the beginning of wine criticism/review, wine critics were flown to Bordeaux, feted, and sampled to death by the wineries so that they could give an opinion on vintage and individual chateaux, wink, wink. Parker argued that this presented either a true conflict of interest or the appearance of one. His Wine Advocate, on the contrary, took no advertising revenue, received no compensation for travel, etc. Ergo, it presented itself as the true uncompromised, objective source of wine reviews. You could trust it. It relied on the revenue of readers. I subscribed to The Wine Advocate for years regardless that my tastes (aside from Neal Martin and Antonio Galloni when he was there) didn’t line up with those expressed in that publication.  I particularly appreciated the lack of advertising.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not impuning the character of those journalists that report positively on their trips and samples. When I’ve been entertained at wineries, I’ve written about it too. And in fairness, most blog posts don’t involve reviewing stuff or experiences that are free or when they do, there are clear declarations of that fact. I guess what I’m saying is that it is a slippery slope. It seems to be the new normal of wineries/distributors for promoting their wines – get a wine writer to talk about your stuff by providing some swag. I’m just wondering if we are getting sucked in.

But here’s where I get truly scared. The Wine Bloggers Conference this upcoming November. A major session is titled: “What Companies Want From Wine Bloggers.” 

Seriously? How much more compromised can we appear if we start from the premise that we want to understand what ‘companies’ want from us and how we can give that to them. Help me understand this. WTF is a company? If I assume that it’s a winery or wine distributor/negotiant, I get that there is symbiosis here. But, it shouldn’t be a servile relationship. I simply don’t understand why we’d give a shit enough to have a session – and I understand it is a “premium full session spot”, promoted as a highlight on this topic?  Bloggers can’t appear any more collusional or compromised than this.

When I read a review of a wine or a winery, I don’t want the writer to serve a commercial interest of a winery or frigging ‘company’. whatever the hell that means. I want to trust that they are expressing ‘their’ truth about the wine. I believe that most of the people I follow are doing just that (People I follow: please read that last sentence before writing in the comments section). But, if bloggers are reporting on their findings while being subsidized either through samples or trips, and the refinement of their craft is schooled in conferences around how to satisfy wine conglomerates and wineries, it just looks bad. I mean it looks really bad. It can all be explained away but so can Trump Tower speed dials set for Russia. Why would we want to create this suspicion or compromise what we do?

Now it is entirely possible that my (now former) blogging friends may see their role differently than I see mine. Maybe being a purist is insufferable. Wait, if you’ve been reading this blog for long you know that I am always insufferable. I may take wine too seriously, you may say. No I don’t. I take fantasy baseball too seriously. Wine is more recreational. But, let me know if you agree that there’s some cause for worry in the Comments section below. Or, you can just just give me shit for my opinions. I don’t get paid either way.

Cheers

Bill

Anticipation #OTBN – The Red Daily Slosh

3 Mar

The red wines available on March 4th are plentiful (80 new additions to the mother ship). But, I want to start with a wine that I enjoyed for Open That Bottle Night (OTBN). Let me explain.

OTBN falls on the last Saturday of February. Here’s the premise – most people have a few bottles tucked away or, if they’re fortunate like me, too many bottles that they can’t bring themselves to open. Why can’t we open these wines? Whether it’s the company – and you’ve probably  noticed that I haven’t many friends. Or, you just feel that a certain bottle is just too special to waste on anything short of a ‘special’ night. And, unfortunately that night never arrives. Erma Bombeck used to say that’s why you never used the ‘good’ china.

The purpose of OTBN is to break through the resistance and pop a cork on one of those bottles. This past Saturday, I opened a 2009 Château Gloria (Saint-Julien) – a Bordeaux that I had purchased through the Futures program at the LCBO with a buying group. I have a bunch of these wines sitting down below and this isn’t even the most anticipated Bordeaux. I may go to my grave with those ones sitting dusty and alone in my basement.

And what did this year’s OTBN teach me? I guess what I already knew. Don’t worship at the altar of bottle tags telling you what the ‘experts’ suggest is a drinking window. Don’t wait for that perfect moment – perfection might only be apparent after you’ve opened the bottle. OTBN, for me at least, should be more frequent.

OK, this Saturday (March 4th), there are are many red wines that I’m dying to taste. But, of the ones that I’ve tasted already , these are my recos:

cotodeimazThe first full case of wine I ever purchased was the 1983 El Coto de Imaz Reserva. It was the first real cedar boxy, eucalyptus red wine that I had ever really had. A big break from the Colli Albani and Sex on Saturday that I was pounding. It was smooth and special. This week, there’s the 2011 El Coto de Imaz Reserva #472928 $22.95. This still carries the vibe – traditional Rioja – more wood than many might like – but I love the treatment. Smoky, herbal, dark fruits (not the normal red fruit that Tempranillo brings). This is a wine that you could easily put down for 5 – 10 years – a great cellar starter. Drink with food – barbecue ribs, burgers, or paella. Great value for a reserva. I might buy a case for old times sake.

castignoIf you’ve been playing along at home, you’ve heard me wax romantically about Saint-Chinian (what does ‘wax’ really mean and did I use it properly here?). It was one of my first true wine vacays and it stuck. I got hustled by local wine merchantesses, loving every minute of it, and ended up lugging home an overweight suitcase of their wares. This week, the 2011 Château Castigno Secret des Dieux Saint-Chinian #479626 $21.95 arrives and renews my love affair. Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Carignan. It’s medium-bodied with so much sniff going on – big in the glass – cassis, spice. Smooth on the swish and swallow already. Medium finish – cherries. This is good now – with it’s brambliness, lending itself to complex dishes – tomatoes, herbs. The Carignan provides a nice lip smacking kick at the end.

montespinotI mentioned last time out the 2014 Montes Alpha Pinot Noir #143215 $19.95 as great pick up for those favouring a bolder, rounder Pinot Noir. This is great value, expertly crafted Pinot. Lithe, fresh, and brimming with smoky red fruit. It comes from the Casablanca Valley in Chile – which seems to produce great Chardonnay as well as Pinots like this. Interesting how those two go together, isn’t it? It may be running low on the shelves, so scoop a few. And, don’t wait for an occasion.

Cheers

Bill

Remember: You can check the availability of each wine by clicking on the link (stock number and price), dropping down the city menu, choosing your city and clicking on Find Stores.

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