Tag Archives: Malbec

May 2-4 – The Red Daily Slosh

24 May

As I wrapped up this post this morning, we got the news that Gord Downie was ill. Quite a shock. Bumped into a friend at the grocery store and that’s the first thing we talked about. So, I tried to find the perfect Hip video for the moment. To celebrate! I decided on a song that seems to speak to his character and values. Plus, he’s so young here. And besides, the video for “In a World Possessed By The Human Mind” was a little slow getting going. It’s available here if you want. Either way, take some time this weekend to listen to some Hip and think of Gord. And, when they tour your town, make it out! This, sadly, is a true farewell tour.

My sunset on Friday night

My sunset on Friday night

So on to the truly trivial, I’m back from the cottage and we are opened up for the season ahead. For those not from the Great White North, this past weekend was May 2-4 or, for the monarchist set, Victoria Day: our May Memorial Day. Well, we don’t memorialize anything other than drunken revelry (hence, the 2-4) and mosquitos. Where our cottage is located, there is the addition of black flies. So, drunken revelry, mosquitoes and black flies. If you have never experienced black flies, I can easily explain them. Think of a swarm of pestilence of biblical proportions. Yup, that be them. They are the most persistent, bothersome, pesky little biters in the insect world. Regardless, I got some stuff done. Docks? Sort of – after determining the location of the nesting snapping turtles. Sometime, I will regale you with tales of snapping turtles, dead beavers – no shit, Bucky The Beaver, and really scary friends. But, Bill, what did you drink? WIYG?

I enjoyed rosé – Carte Noire – a great, crisp, light but not too light wine from Provence. And, I had a Rioja that was, well, disappointing. I recommended this very wine just a few weeks ago. I’m hoping that this 2011 Muga Reserva was an aberration – cooked, maybe. It was flat – unexciting and I love this wine usually. Oh well – Raptors were winning on the radio (no television allowed) and I didn’t really care about the wine. Go Raps!

The coming weekend brings some great opportunity to stock up for the summer. Remember that season? It’s warm, if lucky you’re on vacation, and, in my case, I get to spend time with friends, family and Bucky at my favourite place, Kahshe Lake.

benmarcoPicture this, you’re sitting around after a heavy day at work in the garden. You love Malbec. I have the tonic to what ails you – 2013 Benmarco Malbec #657601 $17.95. This will become your ‘go to’ Malbec – made from 100% Malbec. It is accessible, drinkable as in “where did that bottle go – open another” drinkable, and a great value. Much more balanced, refined than most of the General Listing Malbecs. Benmarco also makes a high level offering – Expresivo. If you see it grab it. The 2013 Expresivo has 30% Cab Franc – it’s a beaut – shows what can be done with Malbec that’s grown at altitude – refined. The bonus to Benmarco – or should I say the guarantee is that the winemaker is Susana Balbo. Caselot!

We were at a wedding last month and a couple there were leaving the next day for Italy. A pilgrimage of sorts to Ancona where a father had fought in a tank battle in WW II. But, they also were traveling around Rome, to Ancona (in the Marche Region) and then up to Bologna. They asked for any unique wine aldianorecommendations in the regions that they might run in to. I suggested Lambrusco di Sorbara, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Pecorino whites and, of course reds from Abruzzo. They were all too familiar with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo as we get a ton at the mothership. This week, there’s a regular in my cellar – 2011 Aldiano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Reserve #051706 $19.95. This is a perfect pairing with Spaghetti Bolognese. Ripe fruit, juicy acidity with a background of nastiness. Now, nastiness, for me, is the best part of these country wines. In this case, ‘nastiness’ is leather, brush, and brown. You might think brown is a colour not a flavour or aroma. In Duffs World, you’d be wrong, dude. If you sip this, you’ll see what I mean. It isn’t red, black, purple but brown in smell and taste. Tell me if you’ve experienced this.

Just re-read the above. “Brown” – um, that might not be an inducement to try this wine. When I think of brown liquid, I say, “Eeew.” What I meant to say, sans visualization, is that the wine has a sense about it close to leather, wood, and other brownish things. Just evokes ‘brown’ to me.

Oh, BTW, if you can find the 2012 Tre Saggi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #204016 $15.95 still around your local, pick it up. Great value and good enough to serve at my son’s wedding celebration.

Local mid-priced reds include:
2012 Megalomaniac Bigmouth Merlot #067645 $24.95 – as the name suggests it’s big. Cherries and vanilla – good underlying muscle and support for the fruit.
2011 Tawse Grower’s Blend Pinot Noir #130989 $24.95 – this is a great entry into Tawse style and approach to this grape. Straight forward, purposeful, extremely refreshing Pinot. A guaranteed perfect host/hostess gift.

allegrinipdtAnd, I’ve saved the best for last. The 2012 Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre #672931 $24.95 is a petit Amarone in my mind. I realize that if your sweet spot is $15 – $20 then you’ll have to ignore the cold sweats at the checkout and plunk down the $25 for this big, expressive, chewy wine. It has the telltale dried fruits of the ripasso technique but I’ve never felt that they were heavy handed here. Turns out that the wine is only half-assed ripasso. They ferment half the grapes fresh and then have another fermentation with grapes that have dried for a few months. The result is close to perfect for my tastes. Aged cheese, please.

And, let me know your favourite Tragically Hip song in the comment section below. Still can’t believe it. He’s only 52.

Cheers

Bill

Remember; Click on the linked SKU and price and it will take you to the mothership’s inventory site. Drop down the menu and scroll to your location and it will tell you how many bottles there are around. Beats driving all over town looking for the last remaining bottles. Now, who the hell would do that? Seriously.

Dracula, Susana and the Red Daily Slosh

19 Jun

christopherlee

RIP, Sir Christopher

So, what’s with this week’s release? It’s called “Back By Popular Demand”. There are clearly crowd favourites among the 80 or so wines and spirits featured. As is my privilege and right, I am going to feature those that I’m glad they brought back.

susanamalbecConfession: I have a serious crush. I love Susana Balbo. There are several issues with that – I haven’t met her, haven’t even seen a picture of her. I’m not letting those little details stop me. I feel like I really ‘get’ her through her wines. The Torrontés – she’s fresh faced and breezy, the Cabernet Sauvignons – serious and intelligent, and the Malbecs – voluptuous (which I’m really hoping for). I follow her on Twitter but, alas, she doesn’t return the love. If I wasn’t half-way through a bottle of her Crios Torrontés right now, I might creep her on Facebook. Social Media Rule #1: Never creep people after alcohol – it gets dangerous. Sip, sip………….might rethink that rule. Well, when I saw that her 2012 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec #079978 $19.95 was hitting the shelves on the 27th, all those feelings of rejection and unrequited love came flooding back. But I’m bigger than that and will recommend this full-bodied beauty (14.5% ABV). It’s pleasantly sophisticated for a very well-priced Malbec. By that I mean that it’s smooth with everything integrated – no one thing screaming for attention. Longish finish with some tightness, grip. Great wine for sipping with snacks or would do well with something burnt too. BTW, if you see Susana, let her know that I’m still pining away – waiting for a ‘like’ or ‘follow’. I mean, come on. (typed using the font ‘Whiny Sans’)

zontesI seldom recommend an Australian wine. I guess it’s just that I don’t drink a lot of them; ergo, I have very little to talk about. I have, however, had the 2012 Zonte’s Footsteps Baron Von Nemesis #212936 $17.95. This is very good QPR or Quality to Price Ratio. It doesn’t have the thickness of some Shiraz we find around this price. And, frankly, that thickness is why I don’t take too many chances on them anymore unless recommended by a trusted source – The Wine Wankers come to mind. On the fruit front, this has more a Cabernet Sauvignon profile – dark and cassisy. Great food wine as it has a cleanness to it – refreshing. A great summer red wine.

I was on the road this week attending our son’s wedding in Providence, RI. That meant a few more meals in restaurants than usual and since I pretend to know stuff about wine, I’m always asked to pick the wine. Hard to believe that people trust me. The restaurants in Providence are villamedorodecidedly leaning Italian and we ate a few traditional Italian meals. The wine lists were littered with a zillion Italian wines that I had never had the pleasure of drinking. So, what to do? Well, ask the server or sommelier? Yeah, you can do that. Or, you can tell everyone that since the offerings on the menu are country Italian they require a country Italian wine – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. I know it’s a bit of a con, could be wrong, but who doesn’t love this stuff? So, we had a bunch of very good MdA’s; not all truly simple (and a very nice Morellino di Scansano, too). A very tasty MdA arrives next Saturday – 2012 Villa Medoro Rosso del Duca Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #367160 $19.95. The brochure says that it’s versatile. I’d say yes to that. But, don’t see that as meaning that it doesn’t have its own personality or doesn’t do anything really well. It certainly does. It does full, gutsy, and lip smacking very well. Someone suggested that it was pretty tannic but I didn’t think so. Maybe a style preference. Bright and fresher maybe than many MdA’s but still quite assertive, this wine would match well with country Italian fare (you knew that was coming, didn’t you) or as a pre-dinner quaff with antipasti. It has that bit of bite that you need to sense with these Italian reds. I like it a lot. On second thought, I’d keep it for something more substantial than the antipasti. Pizza with sausage and mushrooms?

ardalLast but not least is my ubiquitous Spanish selection – 2005 Ardal Crianza #167801 $16.95. Yup, that’s $16.95 for a 9 year old red from Ribera del Duero made by Bodegas Balbás. What? You heard me. This has settled with time in bottle and brings all that red fruit and soft wood both to your sniffy sniff, your mouth’s first impression, and the red fruit plays on the finish too. It’s knows what it is – Northern Spanish Tempranillo. This has enough tannin to go up against a rare burnt something or other. Just enough acid to provide some backbone and lip smack.  I like these wines by themselves which I realize is sacrilegious as they are first and foremost food wines. Too bad – I like ’em by ’emselves. I can savour every nuanced drop. For the wine geeks out there, this is a blend of Tempranillo (90%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%). Clearly has seen some wood – I love the way Rioja and Ribera del Deuro wines show the wood – cedary smell and smoky taste.

Bonus reco – this week, I had a great Aussie cab which oddly contradicts my statement above – 2013 Jim Barry The Cover Driver Cabernet Sauvignon #677746 $26.95. Definitely New World CS. Cherries, smoke and a great mouthfeel – level tannins and a bit of acid on the finish. Lower alcohol so no heat whatsoever (13.5% ABV). From Coonawarra, meaning a hit of dustiness. Great BBQ meat wine! Burgers, steak.

Put down the remote, grab a bottle or two and head outside to enjoy the last days of June 2015! Did I just say that June 2015 was almost over? Does that mean that my taxes are late? Shit.

Cheers.

Bill

 

 

 

 

Chicchitti, Bang, Bang – The Red Daily Slosh

5 Dec

alligator

I’ve just returned from a week in Florida where I enjoyed some quality time drinking wine, getting some sun, golfing, and, well, drinking more wine. My friend and I were unable to solve the important riddles of life but we did discover that, Holy Jumpin’, alligators are not as quick on land as myth would lead you to believe. The first or was it the second wine we opened was a Rioja – 2007 Montecillo Reserva and the room quickly filled up with oh’s and ahs. Well, maybe not oh’s and ah’s but, “This sh** is greats!” and “Wow, smell that – no, Bill, I mean really smell it.” Just such a pretty wine, powerful nose with loads of

montecillowinecedary, spicy interest. All grown up, solid, settled in. Medium-bodied, moderate tannins and acidity. Rioja Reserva with a little age like this one is just so dignified and satisfying. So, I decided to source it locally and to my surprise it is offered in the General Listings aisles at the LCBO. But what vintage? It wasn’t given on-line. So, I wandered out to Fanshawe and Hyde Park to pick one up. Now, being a wine snob, I had to get directions to the General Listings section – “It’s just past the ‘Barefoot Strawberry Blush’ aisle end display, keep going until you see the basket of boxed wine. If you reach the red velvet cake-flavoured vodka pyramid, you’ve gone too far.” I said that I was a wine snob. The vintage that’s on shelves here now is mostly the 2009 Montecillo Reserva #621003 $18.95 (with currency exchange, the price at Total Wines was about the same as in Ontario). Now, to try it. This wine isn’t as settled as the 2007. It comes across as a bit more restrained and carries more acid. I like it but will like a lot better after a few years down below. If you can find some 2007 – big recommendation. Update: I’ve just let the ’09 decant for 4 hours and it’s just now starting to open up. Definitely a cellar and finish the bottle candidate. BTW, the label looks black above but is, in fact, blue.

ondarrewineA wine with similar characteristics to the ’07 Montecillo is the 2008 Ondarre Reserva #723452 $18.95. This wine has a darker tone to its fruit and a little less woodiness than the ’07 Montecillo. But, it too is medium-bodied, a streak of acidity that softens a bit with air. These wines would be great to have on hand for the cooler months ahead and the time of year where company comes and expects a sip or two. A nice break in the party season from the same old, same old.

Part of feeling confident in choosing wine for a dinner out or at home is familiarity with the label, producer, grape, etc. That’s probably why, in my home town, every restaurant it seems carries McManis wines. People are familiar with them, confident in what they’ll get. In this case, I don’t get it – I’m not usually a fan of McManis at their price point – well, almost any price point. But, most folks like to stay on a familiar road. The corollary is that my susana_balbo_malbecopinion obviously matters little. But, what I can contribute is a few more labels that you recognize and feel confident ordering. This brings me to Susana Balbo. I haven’t mentioned Susana’s wines in a while but I didn’t cry. The truth is she never left us. Yes, you noted correctly – an Evita reference. I promise it’s my last when mentioning Argentine wine. This week her 2012 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec #079798 $19.95 arrives and I hope it stays a while. This is a superbly balanced wine for this price. I don’t mean all blended together like a smoothie when I say ‘balanced’. It’s just that there isn’t one voice yelling above the rest. It’s more a chorus where you can still pick out the altos, the tenors and the basses but not one dominates – harmonious. This is full-bodied with a bold nose of predominantly berry fruit. In the mouth, it holds some heat (14.5% ABV), a sticky tannin or two on the finish. It is just so tasty and warming. I loved the ’10 (reviewed here) but my notes on this vintage seem more effusive.

cicchittiwineIf you’re interested in seeing what some age can do for a Malbec pick up the 2004 Chicchitti Gran Reserva Malbec #155713 #22.95. I first picked this up seemingly years ago through the on-line shopping service of the LCBO. I left it a few years and opened the last one in 2010. It seems that the ’04 appears every year. This is grown up wine. How do you know if you’re a grown up wine drinker? You know you’re not a grown up wine drinker if:

  • When ordering wine in a restaurant, you’re torn between the Pinot Grigio selection and “No, wait – I’m having the featured cocktail – The CNIB Slurpy”, or
  • You can’t quite pronounce Rojaa or Sawveegnoon so you order the Meirlotte, or
  • Your best wine drinking memory is that Purple Jesus night during Greek Week, or
  • You’re thinking, “Wine? Not enough alcohol in it.”

Back to the Chicchitti. This is a deep dark wine with lots of stuffing left – no flab or stewed fruit – still fresh. More interesting in the mouth than the glass. Long spicy finish. I think it would keep for awhile longer but it’s yummy now. If you’re interested in shopping on-line for some smaller availability and premium wines, this is the link. It’s relaxing to spend hours researching wines on a MacBook screen. At least that’s what I tell my therapist.

An untasted suggestion:

I may have had the 2011 Rosenblum Zinfandel #031781 $19.95 from Paso Robles and failed to make any notes. It can happen. I’ve always liked this product in other vinatges. In any event, it’s hitting shelves this weekend. If you’re a zin freak and who isn’t, pick this one up. It’s usually big enough to carry some burnt meat or ham with crackling. Shelve the cab sav and pour this one. But remember it carries 14.9% ABV so no more than a bottle each.

Images courtesy of:

http://www.vintages.com

http://www.thesun.co.uk

 

 

People Get Ready – The Red Daily Slosh

5 Nov

One of my best live music memories was seeing The Funk Brothers with my son at Ronnie Scotts in London several years ago. So, when I saw this video – great song, one of the all-time best guitarists, smoking vocalist, and it’s at Ronnie’s, I couldn’t resist. Who are (were) The Funk Brothers, you ask? Only the biggest selling band in the history of recorded music, is all. Go ahead and Google them, I’ll wait.

Winter blows in to town in these parts  for serious (last phrase un homage to my home town) in about a month. And that means stuff to do. The great thing about having all sorts of closing up and winter prepping chores is the reward at the end. I’m not sure about you but I like to work a glorious fall weekend day outside, cleaning gutters, bagging leaves, putting stuff away, and then coming inside to reward my hard work. The reward can be a scotch, a local craft beer, microwave popcorn, or a glass of wine. Sit by the fire and watch the squirrels plundering my newly filled bird feeder – bastards! What I’m trying to say is that there are all sorts of reasons to reward yourself with your favourite beverage or nibble. Solve that Sudoku? Pop a cork. Discover the origin and proper use of diacriticals? Pop a cork. Unblock your formerly blocked plug-ins? You got it. BTW, the part above about liking the weekend chores is B.S. But, the squirrel hatred is too true. Despise them above all else. The point? Pick up a couple bottles of those wines mentioned below and reward yourself.

caliterra2How many times have I recommended a carmenère? Technically, in wine blogger terminology, ‘a bunch’ is the answer. A bit more than ‘many times’ and less than ‘lots’ of times. Why that often? I like carmenère and, frankly, it’s my blog. The 2011 Caliterra Tributo Carmenere #56630 $16.95 was featured in the last release and is a bit of a surprise. Carmenère is usually dark, full-flavoured, full-bodied. This Tributo is more instantly approachable and not quite as heavy or full-bodied as I’ve come to expect from this grape. It has some herbal character and it feels more European than Chilean. I’ve got it – it’s not as ripe as the usual carmenere gang . Big flavour, no heavy mouthfeel. I really like it. Lip smacking acidity. At this price and versatility, it’s a case lot possibility.

bertrandcorbieresI’ve spoken about Gérard Bertrand before. I wanted to recommend his Saint-Chinian a few months back (still a few of those available at First Canadian Place and Oxford Street, London – fabulous, baby!) but must have run out of space or ambition. The May 2014 edition of the Wine Enthusiast had a nice feature on Gérard’s take on the Languedoc-Roussillon, his estates, and his wines. His own personal history as well as that of his wines is firmly rooted in Corbières and the village of Boutenac. He has grown his enterprise to include several parcels including Domaine l’Hospitalet, a wine tourism destination in the Languedoc – check out their jazz festival. I know that I raved about the viognier and the Saint-Chinian so maybe you’ll disregard the following as simple groupie-ness – heaven knows he is plenty cool enough. But, bear with me. The 2011 Gerard Bertrand Terroir Corbieres #394288 $18.95 is a recreation of the better red wines that I drank while in that region. Only it accomplishes all this without the benefit of the influence of a cool sidewalk bistro in Narbonne. It sheds some of the ripeness and confusion of many wines from Pays d’Oc that we’ve all had. It has a streak of stoniness in the glass but is pretty fruit-ful in the mouth – an interesting combination. Tannins evident but in the background. Dark, medium-bodied. Opens up quite a bit after awhile in the glass. Technically speaking, it’s yummy. But remember, I’m trained to use such terminology and I’m biased. It’s a GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre) and they all seem to be great cold weather wines. What’s that stew that I love but have never made? Cassoulet? That’s the match.

scallops

On The Twenty scallops

cavespringcfMy last post was about winery hopping in Niagara and I mentioned that we ate at On The Twenty in Jordan. I had a glass of local cab franc with my scallops (OK, it was two glasses but they were smallish). I know that cab franc and scallops doesn’t sound like a great match. My philosophy? Drink a wine you like with food you like and it will match up just fine. But, you would be right if you thought that the cab franc would be a bit too too for the scallops. That cab franc? 2012 Cave Spring Dolomite Cabernet Franc #391995 $19.95. The great thing? The Cave Spring tasting room and retail is connected to the restaurant. Of course I needed a bottle to provide a little remembrance of our great meal. This wine is an excellent example of Niagara escarpmentish cabernet franc. Medium-bodied and presenting more shrubby characteristics than fruit ones. Herbs, spices, a streak of acidity, and enough tannin to support it all against any meaty food. Actually, this wine needs food to show its stuff. Doesn’t have to be big food – scallops? Pass on the scallops and try a spicy chicken dish or something fattier.

HHH3A few posts back, I said that I’d provide some wines that have better availability through the Vintages Essentials program. Well coincidentally, I was reading a post on www.snooth.com about ‘go to’ steak wines. Different wine writers including The Drunken Cyclist and, I believe, Julia Bailey, weighed in with their faves. To my surprise, one writer picked the Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills (H3) Cabernet Sauvignon #210047 $19.95. Now, I don’t mean surprise as in “WTF are they thinking?” but more, “That’s actually an available, affordable wine.” I guess I was expecting everyone to talk about Silver Oak, Alexander Valley or a well-aged Left Bank Bordeaux. BTW, the latter I have but can’t bring myself to open. Who is special enough to share it with? Anyone? The H3 cabernet sauvignon is an elegant steak wine at an affordable price. Great hostess/host gifty or BYOB at a neighbourhood BBQ.

FYI, another good value red is 2012 La Posta Angel Paulucci Vineyard Malbec #075515 $15.95 a mid-weight malbec with some backbone.

Images courtesy of:

http://www.vintages.com

http://www.caliterra.com

http://www.cavespringcellars.com

http://www.innonthetwenty.com/dining

Monica Re-Appears Con Caprini – The Red Daily Slosh

11 Apr

I included this song because of the memories. It was playing in a Paris bistro when I had my first DRC wine (La Tâche – 1975). OK, I’ve never had more than a very small tasting sip of La Tâche and 1975 was a shitty year – truth be told and, just like Glen Beck, I’m all about the truth (he said with tongue firmly planted in cheek), actually this song was playing as I was getting this written up. Memories of school dances and Motown as it was meant to be – never forgotten. In future posts, I promise to bring my music selections into the present or recent past instead of the way back when.

This is for the April 12th release. This release features ripasso and appassimento wines. There is a great write up in the release brochure or on-line that’s good information about these techniques. It’s very well done and one of the things that we might actually miss if we privatized.

etichetta_ripassoA few weeks ago, I recommended a Speri ripasso – their Pigaro – great value wine and, yes, I do have some left – medium bodied with lots of local knowledge. This week, there’s the 2011 Speri Ripasso della Valpolicella Classico Superiore #370353 $21.95. This is a step up in depth but doesn’t sacrifice the sense that you’re drinking this while watching Monica Belluci guide her goats through the piazza (that breaks a four month hiatus without a Monica Belluci reference – fell off the wagon, I guess). But, even more important, what you’re eating with this seals the deal. This past week, we were in Chicago and had a great Italian piazza dinner. Well, not in a piazza but inside by a busy street but the reference works for me. We had margherita pizza, cheeses, lamb meatballs with aioli, grilled calamari – this wine would have been perfect.

My friend, MR, recommended an appassimento wine just this past month and voilà here it is. The 2012 Tedeschi Capitel Nicalò Appassimento Valpolicella Superiore #984997 $16.95 is pure Italy. I recommended the 2010 a while ago. If you favour wines that are easy, stay away. It’s not that it is “hard” – just it isn’t simple – it has some flavour muscle – dirty, earthy, dried fruit, but never heavy. I love wines like this stuff. Remember the wine that I recommended a few years ago – Tenuta di Castiglioni? This doesn’t taste like that, flavour-wise – but you get the same feeling from it – local, rustic, country-side. Like the one above, sit outside and enjoy the spring-like weather that we’ve been waiting so long for.

criosmalbecIf you play along at home, you know that I am in love with Susana Balbo. A woman that makes great wine? It’s got a sliver of romance to it that’s hard to resist for this wingger (wine blogger). Passing on a Susana Balbo wine would be like fooling around on her! Well, this week there’s their entry level malbec – 2012 Dominio del Plata Crios Malbec #162529 $13.95. My favourite reasonably-priced wine of theirs is the Susan Balbo Signature Malbec and this Crios holds up against that. It’s a little lighter but it carries the same degree of fun and flavour. If you’re a malbec lover and have settled for cheap (read: Fuzion) malbec, give this a try. I think it’s a big step up in sophistication from those. This is fine by itself with tears and old movies.

temaniaI can’t help myself (which is part of a lyric that I can almost grasp through my dementia – Buehler?) when I see New Zealand pinot noir under $20. I just have to try it. There have been flame outs, failures, but many great finds. This week, the 2011 Te Mania Pinot Noir #365247 $19.95 finds its way to our shores. It’s just what it appears – a refreshing medium-bodied pinot, that’s the kind of pinot that Goldilocks would appreciate. Not too much – just right. It carries enough structure to avoid being flabby – it’s got a spine of acidity and a bite that’s just right (reference Goldilocks, again). I like this kind of pinot by itself. I know that New World pinots can accompany meals just like their older siblings from Burgundy but this one would be great with friends at the start of an evening and before things get too serious. Or sadly by yourself in a hotel room while on business watching a movie that you wouldn’t rent at home (oh, behave) in a faceless city. Not that I have ever done that – just trying to imagine things and make a suggestion. It’s versatile. Loads of red fruits with mostly darker cherries and not much wood at all – clean and fresh. Great stuff at this price.

Other worthy picks:

2008 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenère #169862 $19.95

Apologies for my Italian.

 

Way Too Early Holiday Edition 3 – The Red Daily Slosh

20 Nov

bubleCouldn’t resist another carol of dubious quality – schmaltzy – pretty marginal. But, he’s Canadian, eh? Listen here. If you have any requests or favs, let me know. If there aren’t any, you will be subjected to the Queen of Soul, if I can find one.

This release (November 23) is full of very pricey wines. I’ve spoken about a few of them this week. There are names from California – Dunn and Pahlmeyer. From France – Beaucastel and Dom Perignon. From Italy – Solaia and Guado al Tasso. It goes on and on.

But, how would any of them qualify for “daily” sloshes? Don’t think so, unless you are………..Jay Z or ……(insert rich person’s name here).

So we charge on and we are not daunted. This week there are a number of great value reds.

toasted headToasted Head could be populist politicians – they cater to what people want – gasp, what’s with that? Not like Rob Ford or, and let me see if I’m getting this guy – Ted Cruz – but more responsible and less slutty. But, forgive me as i was in a drunken stupor when i wrote this – I am very, very, very sorry. I don’t know what else I can do. Back to Toasted Head – their house style hits all the marks and is what can best be described as a crowd-pleaser. Now, I’m not trying to be pejorative – pleasing crowds is a very good thing. We get the chardonnay all the time – it’s a lock. The 2011 Toasted Head Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon #686824 $19.95 is similar in appeal. It’s smooth, balanced and jammy loveliness. Now, there are cheaper cabernet sauvignons out there, for sure. I like the Raymond entry level cabernet which is a buck cheaper and the Beringer cheapies are fine too. But, for sheer nerve and certainty – get this one.

kaikenmalbecLast time out I recommended the Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon. Well, this week there’s its cousin the 2010 Kaiken Ultra Malbec #050849 $19.95. If you picked up and tried the cab from last time, you’ll know that this line is a step up from the everyday that we scoop up for lots less. The Ultra malbec is dark in the glass – dense, smelling of black fruit and, let me swirl here, it has a hint of wood – not so much oak as cedar maybe? The flavours follow the nose pretty closely – it’s full-bodied with great mouthfeel which means to me that it’s balanced – long finish. A very good malbec. Yes, I think I need more. Maybe enough for over the holidays. Stand around with meat dishes (lean beef) or while typing your blog. Verrrrrry nice.

balbomalbecBe still my heart. What do we have this week but my girlfriend, Susana Balbo putting in an appearance? The 2011 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec #079798 $19.95 is a wine that deserves your undivided attention. With the one above, they may be the best malbecs under $20 this year IMHO (and we are at the end of the year, folks). Now, you can get good malbec for $14.00. I read the other day that we are not drinking the amount of malbec that we used to due to the Fuzion fall off (Quiet Cheer!). What a beautiful wine this is. It has earthy aromas and, in the mouth, more acidity, tannin and juiciness than the one above – not harsh but there’s some structure there for sure. It could cellar for a few years but I’m not waiting. I’ll just let it sit for awhile after opening and hope for the best. Naughty, dark, and juicy. Catherine Zeta Jones? No, she’s in rehab. Anyone with a suggestion? Buehler?

aldianoAnd, while we’re on tangy, juicy and dark, the 2009 Aldiano Riserva Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #051706 $18.95 appears. This is what Italian country-side wine is all about – food friendly, refreshing. Smells of leather and the country-side itself, if you try hard enough. The fruit is black and sheathed in acid, some tannin and a medium finish. Lovely with tomato anything – maybe tomatoes (having their own acid) with some fatty cheese – a Caprese salad? Pretend you’re sitting on a piazza watching the plebes and tourists (oh yeah, we are tourists ourselves). Now a caveat – I read other reviewers and CellarTracker and people aren’t as “all-in” about this wine as I am. I recommended the 2008 and got some good feedback from you on it. So, I’m assuming that some of you will like it again – like me. Not in, please like me. But, rather, similarly to me. Capice?

scholaWhile you’re on the piazza, spring for a second bottle – the 2009 Schola Sarmenti Roccamora Negroamaro Nardò Rosso #245654 $16.95. I picked a bottle of this up in Lecce. Always wanted to say that. Yes, I did indeed pick up a bottle of this in Lecce. Said it twice now. “Step away from the Kaiken Ultra, Bill, and finish your blog post”. Anyway, I love this wine and am so glad the 2009 is here. It’s our secret and you won’t have to battle crowds trying to pick up a bottle because no one really focuses on Apulian wine, especially negroamaros. Negroamaro means “black bitter” and is the primary grape in Salice Salentino. This wine carries a spice box thing, some tobacco too in the glass. It mellows over a few minutes really and you get to the yumminess. There are red fruits and enough acidity to stand up to real meals – pasta with meat sauce would be perfect. I think that if your ‘go to’ wine is Valpolicella, you need to give this a try. It’s got a bit more heft but similar appeal, I think.

Untasted, good looking buys:

2010 di Majo Norante Contado Riserva Aglianico del Molise #967208 – loved the 2009 – organic product

2008 Moritàvora Tinto #293449 $16.95 – if Portuguese wine is your thang, pick this up.

2011 Château du Chatelard Cuvée les Vieux Granits Fleurie #207886 $20.95 – it’s Beaujolais Nouveau Day tomorrow – so why not pick up a ‘real’ Beaujolais too?

New World, Old World, Thanksgiving – The Red Daily Slosh

11 Oct

roastturkeyIt’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. When our neighbours to the south celebrate their Thanksgiving on the wrong weekend, I will relate the story of how Canadians invented Thanksgiving; along with the wheel, the telephone, postage stamps, kegger parties, and the sports bra. But, back to my Thanksgiving. I’m making a spice-rubbed turkey with stuffing that has pine nuts, fennel and some other stuff. Although, you could get away with the usual pinot noir/syrah/chardonnay with turkey tradition, I think that the first two wines below might show up on my table. They have some spice, lots of authority without being heavy, and they’re relatively inexpensive. Oh yeah, and we also invented basketball. It was at an American college but James Naismith was Canadian. Further evidence of which is this week’s Sports Illustrated cover #wiggins

BorsaoTresPicos_2In January of this year, I recommended the 2010 version of this wine. It was a “solidly made full-bodied wine” and I liked it a lot. Many of you did as well given the feedback. The 2011 version is a big wine. Now, when I say “big”, what do you think of? Tom Hanks? Chris Noth? Chocolate Bars? Noneoftheabove? What I think of is a wine that has several dimensions, has a strong mouthfeel by way of tannin, some acid and a long finish. I think power. Well, this wine is ‘big’ but not heavy or overly tannic. It brings loads of spice, red fruit by way of the 100% Garnacha, and a little jam too. But, not all was barrel aged (just half) so it ain’t woody. I think that it might be the Garnacha Of The Year. “The envelope, please.”  2011 Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha #273748 $19.95. Love this stuff!

tessellaeWhen Arlene and I were in Languedoc-Roussillon, we stayed in Perpignan. What a great little town – loads of character, great food (ask me about the rodent night) and clearly some great wines nearby as evidenced by the 2011 Tessellae Carignan Old Vines Côtes du Roussillon #343517 $18.95 (sic). If you love the garrigue (and who doesn’t?) or if you don’t know what garrigue is, or you know what it is but would rather not talk about it, then this wine is for you. It is truly of this place – the Roussillon – garriguish as all get out. It’s balanced, smooth, and – wait a minute – it’s called “Carignan” in the LCBO website but the blend is 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre and 5% Grenache Gris. The winery website says it doesn’t have Carignan. So where is the Carignan? Don’t be confused if you don’t see Carignan on the label – because there is no Carignan. Which is good – Carignan wines can be pretty tableish and plain IMHO. This wine, on the other hand is anything but. It has a dirty Old World Syrah thing going on, which is perfect – full-bodied, balanced, red fruits on the nose and the palate and some interesting floral things that don’t dissipate until you swallow.  Great value too! Case purchase if you love the south of France.

canteloupI love Bordeaux reds. So, when I see a good one that’s reasonably priced (think: Chateau Lyonnat), I recommend it – the 2010 Chateau Haut-Canteloup #336867 $15.95 is one of those wines. This is such a surprise. The 2010 vintage is one in a series of “Vintage Of The Century”. Hear that phrase through a loud hailer with a distinctive Bordelaise accent and you get the gist of the hype machine from Bordeaux. But, it also means that you can get a lesser known wine during these vintages that provides exceptional value. Voilà, the Chateau Haut-Canteloup. Where did the name come from? Well, during the Classification of 1855 (which was actually a real event unlike this story), the panel visited this estate to meet the estate owner who stood 6’ 8” and had a very large head. Not so funny? Too oblique? This wine is still pretty closed up right now but either a couple hours of decanting or a few years in the dark will bring out loads of black fruit, blow off some of the woodiness and provide a great, solid wine for red meat. If I wasn’t buying a bunch of the wine above, I’d be over-weight in this value Bordeaux.

santacarmenereIt’s been awhile since I tried and am recommending a Carmenère. This is strange in that Carmenère provides such good value in most cases and truly satisfies those that prefer New World spins on Old World varietals – California Cabs, Merlots, Pinot Noirs, etc. – accessible, easy-drinking, stand around wines. This week, the 2010 Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Carmenère #134942 $18.95 hits the shelves. This is exactly what you’re looking for if: 1) you drink red wine. It has quite a lot of different things going on. If there was a wine tasting, I’m saying that there would be very different takes on this wine. I like that – not one-dimensional and subtleties abound. It’s deep, dark (like most Carmenère), full-bodied, mildly tannic, and understated a bit – restrained. Stand around or serve with food.

There are a couple wines that I haven’t had but will pick up and may be of interest to you too:

2011 Heitlinger Mellow Silk Pinot Noir #344697 $16.95 Although Germany isn’t famous for its pinot noir, I have had a couple from there that were interesting and full value. This might be another. I found the others to be in a soft style but with good acidity. The one above’s name suggests that this will have a softness to it as well. Worth a try.

2009 Quieto 3 Malbec #275701 $14.95 A friend told me yesterday that he’s traveling to Argentina this winter and asked for suggestions for Argentinean wine to taste pre-departure – not right before the departure as in while in the lounge – but now to get the feel for the land and their wines. This week, there’s a wine that’s intriguing based on price and reviews that are very positive. Not sure what I’ll find but I think that I‘ll take the plunge. It’s only $14.95 afterall.

Dude, It’s The Red Daily Slosh

3 Jun

zinfandelvinehttp://www.dictionary.com ‘s slang definition of ‘gnarly’ is “distasteful; distressing; offensive; gross”. Clearly a winemaker wouldn’t use this word in the name of its wine as an attempt to be cool and current. “Buy our wine, it’s distasteful! And, it’s gross too.” So, why do we find 2011 Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin Zinfandel #678698 $17.95 on our shelves this weekend? Perhaps, it’s the non-slang meaning of the word – which is “gnarled”. The picture above sums up the connection for this wine. Zinfandel vines are: 1) gnarlysome of the oldest vines in California; and 2) pruned in a way that features big, thick gnarled vine stalks with curly grape producing vines at the top, like a head, as it were. Now, why this same producer makes Gnarly Head Merlot, Gnarly Head Pinot Noir, and Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon sans a de facto ‘gnarly head’ for these varietals is a mystery for another time. It’s just plain distressing. Getting to this wine, this is one of those consistently yummy zinfandels that brings in the fruit and the power that we’ve become used to from California zins – perfect for the backyard, round enough for standing, swilling, and arguing but with enough stuffing for some burgers or ribs. Yes, I think ribs would be great with this wine.

alamosI’m hearing grumblings that many of my Daily Slosh recos are not all that ‘daily’, price-wise. I admit to a bit of price creep over the last couple of years. But, you have to work with what you’ve got. In the spirit of shaving a few bucks off the $20 norm that I’m accused of, let’s take a trip to Argentina; which along with Chile probably brings the best value wines available in these parts. The Catena family makes wines from $9 to a billion dollars a bottle. I think that I’ve waxed on enough about the Alta line, especially the cabernet sauvignon, so I won’t bore you. This week, there’s their 2010 Alamos Selección Malbec #322800 $16.95. (image courtesy of www.mightygrapes.com). This wine is all that malbec can be. It’s got loads of personality so not insipid and monotone like that über cheap one that we all know and are forced to drink. It has a strong tannic thread through the sip, swish, and swallow. But, don’t think that’s a bad thing. It just prepares your mouth for the finish of dark fruits. Neal Martin of www.erobertparker.com says this wine has ‘chutzpah’. It certainly does.

 And, don’t forget that I recommended a couple of other Argentinean wines a while back. I bought a bunch of the Terrazas malbec and it is a great sipping wine and still around and priced right.

 argadensWhat did I say last time out? That I’d be looking for Bordeaux that comes in at the ‘daily’ range and still delivers. This week, there’s another goodie. The 2009 Château Argadens #681843 $17.95 is a great example of price conscious Bordeaux that, like all good Bordeaux, still has the legs to stand in your basement for a while. Or, let it breathe for a few hours before serving. It represents a pretty solid red with more interest and stuffing than you might expect. Buy a couple and just let them be, let them be, let them be, oh let them be for awhile (say 2 years) and see what age does to a solidly built wine. Great with red meat or sharp cheeses.

bilahautNow, when I recommend anything in the following stable of wines, the phone rings off the hook with accolades and comments about my astute wine savvy and, oh yeah, my modesty. That wine stable – the one that is oh so good – is Bila-Haut and this week brings 2011 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon-Villages #168716 $14.95! Great winemakers make great wines at all price points. M. Chapoutier makes this beauty and it’s hitting way over its weight – which proves the point. This is full-bodied and lures the smell of the south of France right out of the glass. What does Emeril say? “Bam!” Loads of fruit, plenty of woody, briary stuff and still enough tannin and acid to strike a great balance. If you love wines from this region and I see that some of you do, you can put your hands down now, place an advance order to ensure you get this red. And, yes, the bumps on the bottle are Braille. Probably a great one-liner about why and when Bill might need the Braille but I think I’ll pass.

balbasSecond consideration from an earlier recommendationBalbas Reserva. Had a bottle the other night with friends and all at the table were gobsmacked. This Spanish beauty may be the steal of the year @$20.95. It’s just so gentle and interesting. I vote for Balbas for the Red Daily Slosh of The Year (RDSOTY) and reserve the right to change my mind later on. There’s lots left in Ontario, you just need to know where to look.

Let me know if you have a RDSOTY candidate.

 

 

Malbecs Face Off – Red Daily Slosh

23 May

plandeddieuIf you’ve been playing along at home, you know that I love the reds from the southern Rhone. I love the reds from the northern Rhone too but budgets are budgets and I share a Visa account with Arlene. This week, there’s another great value from the southern Rhone – 2010 La Gravillas Plan de Dieu Côtes du Rhone-Villages #264648 $14.95.  This is a typical Côtes du Rhone. They say ‘meaty’, I say full-bodied and providing a bit of smoke and muscle. This is the perfect backyard grilling wine. If you burn it, they will come. I have been recommending another product from this producer to great acclaim. But, frankly it is a little more expensive and not anymore satisfying than this. If you are a Côtes fan and who isn’t, buy a bunch of these and save for that special occasion – sorting your sock drawer, balancing the cheque book (does anyone out there have a cheque book anymore?), or completing the build of the shed at the cottage (Note to Self: Include personal insights to develop relationships with readers).

lyonnatLast week, a friend shared his last 1999 Château Leoville-Barton with me. It was nothing short of orgasmic (his words). So if I love Bordeaux so much why do I seldom recommend a Bordeaux as Daily Slosh? Why? They are usually too expensive to qualify as ‘daily’ unless you’re an investment banker or baseball player. I also don’t try many reasonably-priced Bordeaux because I fear that I’ll find out that I can get my Bordeaux buzz for $19.95, when I’ve ploughed my children’s inheritance, pitiful as it is, into futures? Well, I took a leap of faith and tasted a Bordeaux priced at $19.95 and it altered my opinion and will impact my approach going forward – more Bordeaux in the Daily Slosh! Maybe it is the age, given it’s a 2006 (a vintage that holds a lot of value compared to the vintage preceding it), but I was pleasantly surprised and excited – the 2006 Château Lyonnat #243774 $19.95 – a well balanced red with softness that makes it a Bordeaux ready to drink now with grilled meats, lamb stews, even barbecue burgers – which is a grilled meat! This is primarily Merlot (according to their web site) and shows you what France does with Merlot that others can’t quite duplicate. If you want to know what the Bordeaux fuss is about, skip the futures and pick this up. It ain’t Chateau Leoville-Barton but…. If you experience a Bordeaux find, please share it with us.

terrazasIt’s been months since we did a Malbec-off. So, drum roll please. In this corner, a favourite at this house wearing an understated label, 2010 Terrazas de Los Andes Reserva #029280 $17.95. This is nothing if not consistently hot and stylish. By that I mean the wine has some alcohol front and centre and isn’t shameless like many other malbecs – you know the ones – all flabby and dripping in their vanilla, boasting fruit with little structure or food friendliness. This has a vein of acid and tannins that gives it an Old(er) World feel for me. I like it a lot. Traditional Argentinean meaty fare would be great with this.

chakanaIn the other corner, in the black label with a hieroglyphic-styled depiction of God-knows-what is the 2011 Chakana Estate Selection Malbec #219261 #19.95. Where the opponent stands tall and hits with fruit and power, the Chakana bobs and weaves about the ring – lighter on it’s feet. That doesn’t mean that the Chakana is without definition or punch (yes the metaphor continues). It’s just bringing more finesse, maturity and subtlety to the ring. This could be a stand around wine; your company saying, “Where did you get this?” “You are brilliant.”

Daily Slosh Reflections – I’ve been re-introduced to some of my past recommendations lately. Taken a second swig, as it were. I want to mention my second take on the 2011 Domaine des Marrans Fleurie #324897 $19.95. I spoke about this great example of a cru Beaujolais a few weeks back. It’s bursting with fruit and still bringing more other stuff (complexity, the herbs of the region, I guess) to your experience. Perfect backyard wine. Love it still. And, if you click on the link, I believe you’ll find that there’s still some out there, Grant.marrans

Best of the Daily Slosh 2012: Red

31 Dec

At this time of year, we reflect on the past twelve months, make promises about the next twelve, and get hammered a bit more than we’d care to admit. In that spirit (the reflecting part) I’d like to offer up Duff’s Best of 2012.

These choices and entries were pulled from my regular newsletters and your feedback, initial calculations were made on the back of an envelope (yes, I still use real mail), logarithms were developed to create unbiased selections, and then I chose the ones that I wanted to. Well, I listened to you too.

2012 Best of Daily Slosh Red  

  1. 2006 Sasso Al Poggio When I recommend Toscana reds, you love them and I feel the love when you do. This week, there’s a special one that was named #60 in Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wines of 2011. The 2006 Sasso Al Poggio (#134809 $18.95) is a “stunner”. Well, that may be hyperbole (and awfully UK) but you get the point – it’s damn fine. Now, who would like this wine? I’d say that if you like your wine a little dirty (not psychotic and sad Britney Spears-dirty but Sarah Silverman-dirty – good dirty, if that makes sense. If not, forget the ramble), not heavy (Britney redux) and with loads of personality – then, this is for you. Seriously, it is a full-bodied wine with loads going on and all in the right balance. The winery web site says to serve with matured cheeses and game.
  1. 2007 Beronia Reserva – Spain has brought us special things – Paella, Flamenco, Coca Cola, Chess, Penélope Cruz and wine! We can discuss the other things over a glass of Sherry but on the wine front, maybe there’s nothing more Spanish than Rioja. The 2007 Beronia Reserva (#050203 $18.95) is a great example of Rioja Reserva – smooth, balanced, and quirky good. Love Muga? Love LAN? You’ll love this! And, it’s cheaper.
  1. 2009 Brancaia Tre – I was in Providence, Rhode Island last week visiting our son and just couldn’t leave him with lousy wine. What caring father would do that?  So, I wandered to the local and picked up a bottle of 2009 Brancaia Tre for him. And, what do I see this week in our LCBO release but Brancaia Tre, a Super Tuscan. It just keeps getting spookier. FYI, a Super Tuscan isn’t a mild-mannered Florentine news reporter. One, two, three……It’s a consumer term for a Tuscan wine made outside of the traditional DOC or DOCG rules. Typically, it uses cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and/or merlot to a greater extent than normally allowed in Chianti, Brunello, Rosso di Montalcino, or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and usually is labeled as an IGT (Indacazione Geografica Tipica) and, sometimes, Toscana. This one – 2009 Brancaia Tre (#164715 $22.95) has a good dose of cabernet sauvignon and merlot along with sangiovese and is understated and delicate. I love this stuff! This was offered a few months ago and vanished within minutes. Did I say that I love this stuff? Take your time with it, savour it, and think about the warm Tuscan sun that produced this beauty.
  1. 2010 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec – While we’re discussing malbec, you need to pick up a bottle of 2010 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec (#079798 $19.95). This is a full-bodied malbec that has integrated oak and lots of fruit to enjoy. Susana Balbo makes some wine under her name, like this one, but also consults with many malbec growers and vintners in Argentina. She’s one very busy Argentinean. But don’t cry for her……………cause O Susana don’t cry for me.
  1. 2006 Hecht and Bannier (H&B) Côtes du Roussillon-Villages – A great wine from the south of France made by a superior winery is the 2006 Hecht and Bannier (H&B) Côtes du Roussillon-Villages (#142802). The St.-Chinian by H&B was also spectacular. These guys continue to turn out fabulous wines, typical of this region. E. Robert Parker’s wine critic in Roussillon says of this wine, “…….you don’t have to believe in the efficacy of geological underpinnings to recognize the dazzling complexity and uncanny balance on display here.” Phew! I have had sleepless nights worrying that my lack of belief in the efficacy of geological underpinnings was getting in the way of me recognizing dazzling complexity and uncanny balance. Anyone else with me?
  1. 2008 The Watcher Shiraz – For the Aussie lovers, there’s a wonderful shiraz that’s been recommended here before. The 2008 The Watcher Shiraz (#219196 $19.95). Chewy? You bet. Made by Fetish Winery. So, this wine goes well with hand cuffs, feather ticklers, lace, and small rodents (kidding on the rodents, of course!). It’s also recognized as #51 of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2010. Pick up a bottle and see if they were right.

 

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