Tag Archives: Megalomaniac wines

Sad Songs and Dirty Old Men – The Red Daily Slosh

14 Aug

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

These recommendations are for the LCBO release August 16th.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wine that I’m going to pick up:

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

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



Pink is the New Black – New Red? – New White?

25 Jul

The background music was chosen due to my return from vacation after weeks of research for the blog. Feel free to sing along. Because, I think that’s a big part of the attraction of this song. So, you’ll have to excuse me I’m not at my best…….

“And, what did you do on your vacation, Bill?” Well, glad you asked. I drank a lot of wine, read a bunch of books, pretended to fix things, swam almost every day, and enjoyed the company of family and friends. Now, everything is relative and there may be a select few out there that would scoff at my characterization of my wine volume as “a lot”. But, I’m guessing most would be more likely to suggest I turn over the boat key before noon on most days. Although, I do it all for you – my 14 followers.

I thought that I’d talk about the rosè I enjoyed over the past three weeks. Loads of people out there don’t drink rosè. They say, “I only drink red,” “rosè is for women only, yea?”, or “I lived on Mateus in college, so puleeze don’t foist any on me now” (expanding my vocab – hence the word “foist”). Now, I’d agree with them if they said that they don’t like white zinfandel, peach blush, strawberry samba. But, to channel and paraphrase Long John Baldry, “Don’t try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rosè!”

On to the wines. I’ve included the usual links so that you can see what’s out there but some of these are in limited quantities – so good luck.

I’ve spoken of Tavel wines many times over the past few years. I love ‘em! A small village in the Southern Rhone lends its name to each and every one of them. They are the pink wine for red wine lovers. They have a gutsy quality that might surprise those that characterize rosè as light. Drink them cold and young. They are made as a blend of red and sometimes even white grapes – the leading red usually being Grenache. And, we like Grenache a lot don’t we? I mean Côtes du Rhone and Chateauneuf-du-Pape have Grenache as their leading actor.

apoge2013 Domaine des Carbinieres Lunar Apogè Tavel Rosè #375626 $19.95 is a perfect example of the more rugged pinks that come from this appellation. Served icy cold, it makes you wish for some solid spicy food with a hint of garlic – an arugula salad was what I had – it was verrrry nice. It’s a bigger wine than the other pinks I’m speaking of today. So, stop the “I only drink red” BS and pop a cork on this biodynamic (Demeter certified) wine.

carteressesThe other Tavel I enjoyed was the 2013 Domaine des Carteresses Tavel Rosè #739474 $18.95. This was my fav. It was a tich (is that how titch is spelled?) lighter than the one above. It also seemed to be more dark in the friuit department (field berries?) with a citrus thing on the finish. Chill this baby and sit by the lake. No lake? Sit by the river. No river? Sit by the inflatable toddler pool. On the patio under the umbrella? You get it – get outside with this wine. If you’ve had a glass of pink while on vacation in some Mediterranean clime and thought to yourself, “This is the perfect wine for here.” Well, news flash – this wine will take you back.

mariusWe’re staying in the south of France with the Chapoutier entry into pink – Chapoutier Marius Vin de Pays d’Oc #367383 $13.95. Dry, light in colour and in weight. This is a sipper. Cautionary tale: this wine is alcohol and you just can’t pour one glass after another without irrationally arguing about something that you actually, in retrospect and the light of day, care very little about – just sayin’. Crisp, cold with a touch of shrubby stuff. What to serve this with, if you didn’t take my advice to have it by itself? Go to www.mariusbymichelchapoutier.com . Now the site is en francais but if you’ve grown up with flacons de mais on your cereal box, you can easily translate (and there’s always Google’s “translate this page?”) The suggested pairing that interests me the most is the pêches rôties aux amandes.

flatrockroseNow, what would a rosè review be without sampling some of the best of Niagara. The 2013 Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir Rosè #39974 $16.95 carries a little more sweetness than the French pinks above. I don’t mean that you don’t have a little pucker but it’s fruit forward (pardon me that wine blog cliché). The wine does scream, “I’m made from pinot noir!” through it’s tea stained tannins and strawberriness. I’d suggest this for those that prefer a wine less astringent but it does satisfy a little red wine lover in me. Flat Rock attends to environmental stewardship – this product is created in an old world attention to simplicity and getting the hell out of the way. Great stuff! Very quaffable. But, as Ron Popeil would say, wait there’s more.

While you’re enjoying a rosè made from pinot noir, why not pick up the 2013 Megalomaniac Pink Slip Pinot Noir Rosè #85126 $17.95 to compare? I mean, you are going to drink at least two bottles, aren’t you? No? Are you trying to make me feel that I have a problem? Well, I picked it up and had a Niagara Rosè off. This one is a tich (there’s that word again) sweeter still but not sugary more like an off-dry Riesling might seem. It is maybe the one of all these that brings fruit right to the top of the glass before you sip. No tasting lessons required to pick up the cherry and berry aromas and flavours. So, that about does it. Wait, there’s more.

Another Niagara staple is the Malivoire Lady Bug Rosè #559088 $15.95 (on sale right now for $14.95). I don’t need to say much about this, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile. I always recommend it as a ‘go to’ rosè for those of us lucky enough to have the mother ship keep it in stock at all times.

Recap: and there will be a test. The French pinks are drier, more crisp. The Niagara pinks have a fuller fruit expression and carry a little sweetness.

And, I’ve been remiss in not acknowledging the passing of my “gateway to blues” guitarist, Johnny Winter. God bless him.



Weekend Splurges Return and So Does Diane Lane

5 Aug

I haven’t been keeping up on my splurge recommendations. Choosing instead to just drink them. Plus, my ramblings take my eye off the ball too.

dalemThis week’s release features some great Bordeaux and, although it’s in my splurge category, they are bargains. Aside for a few finds like the Chateau Lyonnat a few weeks back, Bordeaux breaks the $20 barrier with ease and frequency if you’re looking tasty and accessible. And, if you’re talking age-worthy and “I think I’ve actually heard of that one”, you need to check your credit limit before swiping. The place to look sometimes are the lesser known areas like Canon-Fronsac, Cotes de Castillon, Lalande-de-Pomerol and Fronsac like this one and that below. This Bordeaux could be consumed now after a little air – 2009 Château Dalem #191213 $33.85. I hadn’t heard of this chateau before and was interested in the price point. It’s a surprisingly complex wine for this price – with pipe smoke and briary things happening. If you want to impress friends for a dinner party, get one of these, let it breathe or decant for a few hours and serve with a ‘real’ meal (whatever that means for you). Now, I mean real. Meat, vegetables and starch with maybe some gravy or sauce of some kind. So, really whatever that means for ME.

vcAnother Bordeaux that’s a splurge but paradoxically a good buy is the 2009 Château La Vieille Cure #193151 #36.85. I love this chateau. Have a handful of 2005’s and 2008’s. Haven’t had the 2009 on offer but I’m thinking that it would provide good value and be consistent with the ones in my basement. They are medium bodied, dark fruit tinged Bordeaux with lots of interest in the way of herbal things like mushrooms and dirt. Well, not real dirt but a nose that reminds you of dirt – say earthy and musty in a good way. It’s a wine that’s part of the In-Store Discovery series. So, check availability before wandering off.

A few months ago, I wrote about my visit to Megalomaniac Wines. I touted the 2010 Megalomanic BigMouth Merlot #067645 $24.95 by them and I’ll let you read the reviews and description of this interesting winery. This wine is available in numbers this week.

blackwellStaple splurgish shiraz’s for me back in the day were St. Hallett’s Blackwell and Faith shiraz’s. But then, I went ‘off’ shiraz (maybe only real splurge shiraz left in my cellar are Elderton Commands) for a while due to overload and the ubiquitous nature of shiraz at every function and party that I went to. I’m starting to get the same weird feeling with malbec now and think pinot noir is a creeping menace too. You all know what I mean – the mantra was when in doubt, bring/serve shiraz. But, with this week’s release of 2009 St. Hallett Blackwell Shiraz #535104 $34.95, I’m back, baby. Love this. This isn’t your ultra chewy Aussie shiraz. It’s more restrained without giving up on the mouth-filling part. Lots happening that you can wear out a pencil writing about. This is a great wine with surprising smoothness and interesting aromas and flavours – tropical fruit on the nose almost a la white wine with big, ripe dark fruits and pepper as any good shiraz should have. If you’ve wondered what would possess someone to spend $30 plus dollars on a shiraz when you can get Yellow Tail for $10 (is it still $10?) – you will find out when you get this. I just re-read that last sentence. Do you really have to ask yourself. “Why spend more when I can get Yellow Tail for $10?”

And a reminder. The inventory number and price are those for the LCBO. If you want to read about the wine (as in a review) and/or you are in Ontario and want to know where there is inventory, just click on the inventory number and price which should be underlined signifying a link. Then drop down the city menu and find a store near you (as they say in the commercials). In fact, any underlined stuff on my blog probably is a link. Sometimes pictures are links too as in the blog about Diane Lane’s movie. There, one week and I’ve mentioned Diane Lane twice.

Previously Unexplored Wineries – Megalomaniac Wines

15 Apr

megalomaniacI took a wander to Niagara a month and half ago.. Well, technically just the Vineland, Beamsville  area. I decided to live vicariously as Cuvée 2013 was being held in Niagara Falls over the weekend and I wasn’t attending. I’ve been through the area a bunch and always tend to stop in to my favourites – Tawse, Malivoire, Thirty Bench, Daniel Lenko and the other usual suspects that you’ll find in my musings. So, this time, I was determined to accomplish three things 1) see some of the wineries that I’ve heard a lot about but not visited, 2) try and spit more, drink less, and if that fails drive the back roads to get home. We won’t comment on number 2 – it’s a policy here never to comment on number 2. Oh, and 3) have lunch at On The Twenty in Jordan. Superb! I’ll introduce a couple of these wineries over the next few weeks.

Megalomaniac Winery is perched on a hill over-looking sleeping vines and seasonal mud and brutal potholes. Word to ownership – gravel for next year. I mean it should still be a farm but smoother. I was driving the battered, yet determined, VW Passat up, up, (did I say it was muddy?) and up again finally arriving at a very cool (as in ‘dope’ and chilly) stone underground winery (picture above). All kidding aside, they have created a very special reception and tasting area underground – tasteful and unique as is their marketing approach and their wines. As always, I asked to sample what they were most proud of and the young woman (why are Niagara wineries replete with lovely, knowledgeable, and incredibly friendly staff? Or, am I just easy?) suggested a few wines but I’m going to concentrate on just a couple.

2011 Megalomaniac Eccentric Savagnin ($28.95) That’s not a typo despite my spellcheck underline. Savagnin is a French white grape grown most commonly in Jura. Haven’t heard of it? Well, clearly not cramming for a Masters of Wine or WSET exam. I, myself, had to Wiki it 215px-Côtes-du-jura_blanc_1997to see that the savagnin grape has a “rather unstable genome.” Who writes this stuff and someone make them stop? This wine smelled like gewürtztraminer (not spice but floral) and felt a bit like a chardonnay in my mouth as suggested by host. Although dry, it has that viognier way of making you think its a bit off-dry. It’s probably just the persistence of flavour. It comes in an oddly shaped bottle reminiscent of cognac – just like it commonly does in Jura (image courtesy of Wikipedia). Is it good? You bet. Hardy enough to stand up to a meal of your choosing and if you’re fussy, I’d suggest creamy-herby chicken something or other. Give this wine a look see if you’re into fuller-bodied white wines. Plus, just think of the commotion the grape name will cause. “Don’t you mean Soveeneyawn, Bill?” “Why, no, I’m too cool for that common grape.”

2011 Megalomaniac Big Mouth Merlot ($24.95). I’ve always detected a green thing within the aromas/flavours of wines made from red Bordeaux varietals grown in Ontario? Especially, if it’s a straight up one varietal wine. Maybe with the exception of some cabernet franc, now that I’m thinking about it. Well, I’m trying to understand and embrace the green rather than bitch about it. Hold me accountable. This wine is right-sized for most everyone’s taste. If you’re looking big as in the name – I’m not finding it. Now, that’s not bad to me – that’s good in the case of this wine. Cherries…insert another red fruit of your choosing…. and a hint of green pepper (which I’m trying to embrace?) that works for this medium bodied wine. Have to say that I loved it – particularly the absence of heavy stand-alone oak – it’s well integrated. Really loved it! To borrow an overused phrase in wine writing – this would be a “crowd-pleaser”. Standing and walking around or burgers requiring several bottles at least – bonus.

The labels are neat too. Based on the work of Rene Magritte.

Resolution – visit Megalomaniac again later this spring on my Niagara tour. Road dry and smooth. You can order wines through their website https://www.megalomaniacwine.com/secure_order.php .

Some available at LCBO search here www.vintages.com for availability.

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