Tag Archives: montepulciano d’abruzzo

Rainbow Daily Slosh

11 Oct

I read a piece by Eric Asimov courtesy of Charles Scicolone that talks about the issue of expressed bias in wine criticism. Great piece. Question: Should a wine critic attempt full neutrality or should they allow their biases to come through as long as they are declared? If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll know that I have many biases and hopefully, they’re expressed clearly as I expound on the wines that I love. In other words, if you don’t know me by now….Also, I’m not often talking about wines that I don’t care for. So, even by exception, you’ll get to know my preferences. But, that doesn’t mean that I think there are wines that you ‘should’ drink and wines that you ‘shouldn’t’ drink. Well, that’s not true. I do think some wines need to get a pass. But, I don’t judge – drink what you love. And often. Just consider the wide world of wine and once in a while take a jump in the deep end. I’ll swim with ya. If you’re interested in reading Eric, I’ve linked to Charles’ reblog of Eric’s piece here.

I’ve had difficulty getting to white wine recommendations. The same goes for sparklers. So, I decided to incorporate all colours into this post. I’ll try and make it short, he says as a long and winding idea comes to his mind.

Sparklers

carpeneDo you have friends that like to open a bottle of bubbly as you enter their kitchen? No? Then get some new friends. Our friend, Suzie B. loves her Prosecco and frequently is itching to open a bottle. That opportunity presents itself when you cross the threshold. I’m not complaining mind you. I initially had trouble warming to Prosecco, however. I found that the category was a bit watered down – non-descript. I found the same thing with Cava a few years back. I just got tired of the product just got less interesting and fun. I said it was me not them and we went our separate ways. Well, that all ended when my friend, Andrew, introduced me to Carpenè Malvolti Cuvée Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore #727438 $16.95. This is a very dry Prosecco with some minerally components……OK, it is my favourite Prosecco year-in year-out. Period. Why? Way more fruit (white flesh), controlled, tight bubbles, and a nice kick at the end. Balanced. I think Suzie will love it and I’m hoping she’ll pop it the moment we walk in the door. Hey, Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend. A perfect time to pop and pour one of these.

Red Daily Slosh

langagarnachaLast year, I featured the 2008 vintage of the 2011 LangaTradicion Centenaria Garnacha #194795 $14.95. It was well received by all my readers (several? – well, more than ten). This vintage is a bit stricter – more evident tannins than Grenache usually presents. If you like garnacha (grenache) like I do, you’ll appreciate this well-priced wine with some real food. Think Cotes du Rhone and you’ll get the garnacha vibe. This one appears more mature than the vintage suggests – some stewing of the fruit and a little earthy, smoky thing going on particularly in the glass. Great value!

villamedoroWhen I see a repeat bottle in the ‘New Arrivals’, it bugs me. What’s ‘new’ about a wine that was available a year ago? I feel betrayed by the mother ship trying to sneak an old friend through as the new kid in town. Then, I’m conflicted. Do I recommend again? I loved it before, why not show it some love again? So, here goes. The 2009 Villa Medoro Rosso del Duca Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #357160 $18.95 is a nice big MdA. My previous review here. But, I know you’re lazy and don’t want to click here and there to get your news. So, to quote myself (December 2013), “Medium to full-bodied. It also has a great nose of Italian-ness – dirty, smelly, funky that follows you to the finish – not George Clinton funky but Isley Brothers – relatable, I’m thinking. And, it tastes good too. Perfect wine for a thin crust sausage pizza (spare me the deep dish), spaghetti with store bought tomato sauce, or a plate of antipasti.” Just a word to the wise. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo’s are not your shy Italian wines – subtle, intellectual, requiring you to draw them out. MdA’s make a statement – simple and straightforward. I love ’em.

mommyRemember Mommessin? It used to come in two formats – red and white. It was a litre and a half, dirt cheap, and French too. One of the neat discoveries that I’ve made over the years is that some of these big French box wine style companies also make tasty and even vineyard specific wines too. Bouchard et Fils, Louis Latour, and Georges Duboeuf Come to mind. Mommessin works like that too. They please the masses with some straight up red and white in big bottles with thumb holes and make some great, distinctive wines as well. This week, the 2012 Mommessin Domaine de Champ de Cour Moulin-a-Vent #430876 $19.95 fills that niche. Distinctive, that is. Moulin-a-Vent Beaujolais is more….masculine than most other Beaus. It has a structure that doesn’t really say Beaujolais to most people but still brings the fruit that we love. This one is in that vein – solid tannins and acidity carrying some fruit (hiding a bit still – give the wine some air) and a country feeling – think of sitting on a piazza watching those little white (read: rusty) pick-up trucks that they have in Europe filled with freshly harvested grapes bombing along, heading to the winery for crush. Sip, nibble something local (cheeses?) and remember how special it is to be there. This wine is perfect for that image.

White Daily Slosh

spyvalleyThe white wine that used to carry the most controversy was chardonnay. It’s too big, too creamy, too woody, just too too. Now we are inundated with unoaked chardonnay and that’s supposed to be what we want. Sorry, I don’t like most of them. Now, I’m hearing some of the same disputes about sauvignon blanc – too ‘cat pee’, too grassy, too gooseberry, too big, too big, too big. OK, time to take a break from dictating what a wine is supposed to be like. Style is a matter of taste. Please disregard my opening paragraph – I reserve the right to be contrary. I don’t like bow ties. Really think they look stupid – especially on television personalities. Who the hell was that Charles guy on CBS? That does not mean that they aren’t ‘true’ ties. No matter what styles come and go, bow ties are still legitimate ties. And, no one is compelled to wear them or like them. Where was I? Oh, sauvignon blanc. I think that the most controversial sauvignon blancs come from New Zealand. They aren’t shy usually. Have an abundance of bite, fruit, and grassiness. Maybe a bit over the top for some. This week there’s one that I think does all that respectfully. It isn’t shy but not dominating the conversation either. It’s grassy or herby – I can’t quite decide which, an assertive nose (Jimmy Durante?) and packs an acidic punch. I quite like this style. The 2013 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc #686675 $18.95 is that wine. I’d suggest that you not drink this as a sipper. It needs some food. I’d say seafood (shrimp?), salads, limey Asian stuff.

Wines that I’ll pick up:

clarkeSpent an interesting post-golf round discussion about wine with John. He told me that he doesn’t know that much about wine but loves red Bordeaux. Especially those that have a bit of age. Sounds like he knows everything that he needs to know. There’s a perfect mid-priced red Bordeaux on the shelves this week – 2009 Château Clarke #503904 $37.95. I went to a Bordeaux Futures tasting one year for the ‘03’s. My friend and I wandered about tasting red after red. Near the end of the night whilst removing the sock from my mouth, I tasted the ’03 Ch. Clarke and thought, “What the hell, it’s one of the lowest priced ones and it tastes like every other at this point.” And also thought, “I think that I’d better stop drinking….I mean, tasting, now.” I bought a bunch and watched it evolve over a few years. It was great value. Not a long cellar candidate. But very nice. I can’t speak to this vintage specifically but I think it’s pretty safe to say it will reward a little time and a modest investment for a Bordeaux. John, go for it.

Apologies and The Red Daily Slosh

30 Jul

Why this song today? It was playing as I typed? A little Cancon? Celebrate the late great Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Pops Staples? Or, maybe just to hear one of the all time great songs with Mavis Staples joining in? All of the above, baby!

perrinrrFirst, apologies are in order. To those in the LCBO’s grasp, it appears that the French rosés that I recommended last time out were in short supply. Sorry, mea culpa, excuuuuuuuse me. If you were jonesing for the Tavel, there is a great substitute made by Perrin et Fils – 2013 Perrin et Fils Côtes du Rhone Réserve Rosé #719062 $15.95. And, you’ll note that it’s cheaper than the Carteresses and Apogé. Secondly, to everyone – I mistakenly used the wrong accent on the ‘e’ in ros(e) throughout my last post (and, potentially throughout my whole website?). I used l’accent grave quand l’accent aigu c’est correct. I try hard not to make mistakes and sometimes I fail due to fatfingering or just not seeing the obvious to others. It’s hard proofing your own stuff. This time my 5 years of French failed me. Rather than ‘search and replace’ every mistakenly used l’accent grave, I am going to leave it alone and simply bear the scars of continuing critical emails and comments. On to some Red Daily Slosh. This Saturday’s release features California, Greece, the Loire, and Alsace. So, it would be vinous gymnastics to speak to all these regions. Especially when I’d have had to have tried them all. Suffice it to say that you should take a wander through the aisles and see what might interest you, if I haven’t mentioned your sweet spot.

sanatalicia

Where can you find great value in red wines? Chile, that’s where. There are the Concha y Toro’s Casillero del Diablo and the Cono Sur labels in the general listing aisles and almost every release a few smaller order wines that provide great QPR. This week, there’s an interesting camenère – 2011 Santa Alicia Gran Reserva de Los Andes #093831 $15.95. Carmenère is the sixth Bordeaux grape but isn’t farmed there anymore. These days it appears, for all intents and purposes, to be Chile’s exclusive grape. As The Church Lady would say, “Hey, Chile. Aren’t we sssspecial?” I quite enjoy carmenère and over the years I’ve recommended a bunch of these but never this particular one as it came at you pretty hard – a bit confused. Maybe if I followed vintage descriptions and ratings, I would have realized that the 2011 was going to be a ‘prettier’ wine. Kind of made me smack my lips and that means, for me, that it was good with food. It’s a great change up from cabernet-based blends, if you are a score chaser it scored 91 at the Wine & Spirits (my fav wine mag), and the price is right.

monteslspn

Another Chilean wine that over delivers is the Montes line. Just about all their wines are reflective of the region and wine making traditioins of the country. Their entry-level pinot noir – 2011 Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir #037937 $14.95 – is a great low-priced pinot. Although the term ‘limited selection’ is probably an over reach. OK, I went to their website – I was curious. They made 35,000 cases! Even though Montes is very big, I don’t equate 35,000 cases with the term ‘limited’. I will ramble on the confusing labeling of wine at a later time. Despite the mislabeling, this is a great inexpensive pinot noir. Juicy and balanced with great red fruits and not cluttered with the sweetness that plagues a lot of the cheaper pinots (this one has 3.49g/l residual sugar). I’d think a good wine to take to a “stand around arguing” party. Boutari Naoussa

When I say, “Greece”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Red wine from Naoussa? That’s right, me too. Weird how that works. The quintessential QPR Greek red in most vintages is Boutari Naoussa. The 2009 is no exception. The 2009 Boutari Naoussa #023218 $13.95 reminds me of a northern Italian red – just gives me that impression. Light in your mouth, balanced everything and, although the write up I saw said oak influences, I didn’t find them. It’s pretty pure and Old World good. Have with some pork souvlaki, marinated feta, and olives. Or, if you don’t like olives (I know people who don’t, gasp), maybe something else Greek – grilled octopus? But, if you must and you wish a rounder, more modern wine keep reading.

talamonti

A repeat recommendation that’s back – 2011 Talamonti Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #204016 $15.95. This is a surprisingly styled MdA. It’s international in style. Not one rustic edge. It’s gentle, round, bigger at first than after a sip or two – warm but not through alcohol – buy one and hope that they’ve got more when you run back. Because you will. Now, I’m going to step a bit outside the ‘daily’ price point on two very fine wines.

Spain is my weak spot. Well, along with Rhone, Tuscany, Niagara, Washington. Let’s just say, I’m awfully weak. But, Spain breeds such personality into their wines. Not sure why that happens but I bet I could read up on it. This week, one of my all time favourite petaloswines in this price range hits our shelves – 2011 Descendientes de J. Palacios Pétalos #675207 $26.95. In past years, I’ve raved about this wine here. But, this vintage surpasses all others IMHO. It’s just got its act together. Committed to your enjoyment with a big woosh up out of the bowl – big nose – fruit that I can’t definitely land on and mushrooms and anise.  I’m not really worried about what fruit I detect. Because if after I’ve had a swish, sniff, gurgle and swallow, I say quietly, “This s**t is great!”, I know all I need to. The wine is not nearly as heavy in the mouth as in the glass – not quite full-bodied and it’s as smooth as Joan Rivers’ visage. OK, that doesn’t really make me want to have this wine either. So, let’s just say it’s really smooth.

akaruarua

And now for something completely different. Different than the Montes, anyway. This week’s Kiwi pick up for Bill (I picked up the Staedt Landt last week) is the 2012 Akarua Rua Pinot Noir #295592 $24.95. I like the acidity that Central Otago seems to carry. This wine has that but in balance with some wood influences (vanilla?) and tree fruit. FYI, if I wanted to be a real wine writer, I would have used the term ‘stone fruits’. Both terms really don’t mean much to most people. So, I’ll back up – the fruit is most like cherries to me – but, darker – like black cherries. This is a superb food wine but if you drink alone like I do, just have it by itself. I know that I’m always upselling you guys but this is a wine that you can feel comfortable splurging a bit on. Talk to you later this week.

Anglophones and Asia – The Red Daily Slosh

16 Aug

asiaargentoWe’re off to Italy in September and visiting Rome (another church?), Apulia (I’m stuffed), and the Amalfi coast (are we at the bottom of the hill yet?). To say I can’t wait would be an understatement. This week’s release features some wines from these areas so I thought I would whet my appetite pre-journey.

tresaggiThe first selection is a repeat recommendation but different vintage. The 2006 was one upon which I received great feedback from Oliver and Joanne. This is the 2008 Talamonti Tre Saggi Montepuliciano D’Abruzzo #204016 $15.95. The release booklet informs me that Tre Saggi means ‘three wisemen’. I will have to brush up on my Italian because I intuitively thought that it meant, ‘very’ something or other. I guess growing up Anglophone in a bilingual country where French is the other language on the cereal box, you superimpose French, in this case ‘tres’, on to other languages. I mean it was always flacons de mais, wasn’t it? Well, Tre Saggi does mean very something; very ‘interesting’. This medium-bodied wine carries so much character in the way of spiciness, smelly stuff like leather and oakiness (both in the air and on the tongue), that I wouldn’t think it could be anything but Italian. Picture sitting mid-afternoon (and I know I’ve used this before – but indulge me) at a road side café outside Locorotondo, with a glass of this, fresh bread, olive oil and burrata cheese, watching as Asia Argento (picture at top or, fill in suitable Italian male), herds her sheep past your table ……. Let’s just say that this wine tells us where it’s from and what you should do with it – sip out back with friends, under the night sky and partake of tomato-based dishes, pasta, and loads of bread. Too late for the Perseid meteor shower? Get some patio lanterns.

When I took written and spoken French through to the end of secondary school, I was bewildered  by how we were taught that the London in England was Londres en francais. Not sure how a formal name changes when you translate. But, then again Anglophones talk about Japan not Nippon. I am William never Guillaume. Dufton, never Duftonne or Duffus, regardless of language or what you think about me. So, what’s with Puglia? It’s got to be an anglification of Apulia. Or, is it just a variation on a name? Or, do I have it backwards? Please weigh in because I’m not Googling it. Regardless of how you say it, we’re off to Apuila with the first recommendation. My experience with aglianico wines has been one where they are pretty tannic when young but round out or smooth out a bit with age. However, I’m told that characteristic is less prevalent when the grape is grown in Apulia – probably the heat. At least that’s what the write up says. The 2011 Girolamo Capo di Gallo Aglianico #268367 $18.95 – is an earthy, I still think uncharacteristically smooth country wine with black fruit (blackberries, dark currants), mushrooms. If you are worried that all Italian wines are harsh (like I indicated above), thin, or meh, stop it. No, I mean STOP IT! Start your wine change now. This is smooth, rich, scrubby – Apulia – perfect! But wait, to quote Ron Popeil, there’s more. I can’t quite figure this wine’s origin and nomenclature out. It’s made by Girolamo (for me that means Sicily – Etna Rosso, etc.). It is called Capo di Gallo (I believe, a nature preserve in Sicily) but it’s from Apulia? Confused? Interested in some Sonoma Brut from Virginia? Anyone help me?

apollonioI had to think about what other Southern Italian wine to talk about. There is a Salice Salentino (2009 Taurino Riserva Salice Salentino Rosso #177527 $14.95) that deserves some love. But, the one I landed on was the 2007 Apollonio Terragnolo Primitivo #211813 $18.95. This is made using the primitivo grape that apparently has some DNA attachment to the zindandel varietal. I’ve never really experienced a kinship between these grapes on the sniff, taste and swallow. They don’t seem to have much in common once vinified IMO. This wine packs a punch – but a nice punch. Think Mohammed Ali – not Mike Tyson. It is not fruit focused at all but nuanced with earth, non-fat double latte (OK, just kidding – too precise), but really some kind of reminiscence of coffee at the top of the glass, prunish in the fruit department. I think that if you like full-bodied Old World wine, you’ll love this. I can’t wait to wander southern Italy and get my hands on some of their great local wines. If anyone out there has some suggestions for wineries in Apulia or Campania, please let me know.

beroniaPut your hand up if you are a Rioja fan. Those that didn’t put there hands up have to get a wine-loving life. This is a benchmark, iconic, must drink, oh so fine wine region. I have recommended so many from here. One of my favourite and our most available bodegas is Beronia. I recommended this very wine in January.This week, the 2008 Beronia Reserva #050203 $18.95 hits the shelves again. Grab a few! I read the write up and have to agree with Neil McLennan (www.westernlivingmagazine.com) in saying that “if you’re new to Rioja, this is a great place to start…” This is neither classic Rioja or in line with a newer more international take although a bit oakier than some classic Riojas. This is a mellow wine that is medium-bodied with loads of cherries and some vanilla in the swish. Tannins evident but not overpowering. Just a great stand and sip wine or maybe serve with some seafood tapas or meat on the plancha. Those of you that have had these products before are already checking inventory (I can see you in the Romper Room Magic Mirror) so the rest of you better get on it.

H3csI’m always singing the praises of Washington reds – particularly Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. So good! In Ontario, we don’t get access to some of the smaller wineries. Hell, we don’t get significant access to any of the smaller wineries – where many of the finer, more true to Washington wines are to be found. Can we say Privatize Please? The largest winery conglomerate in Washington and one of the biggest in the whole U.S. of A. is Chateau Ste. Michelle. Now, I’d rather be talking about Dunham Cellars but there are about 100 bottles of their wines in the whole province. Shout out to Dunham’s importer – try harder! So, we are left to grab wines from larger distributors and producers – not that there is anything wrong with that. After all, I’m supposed to be a label agnostic. This week, one of the Ch. Ste. Michelle stable, Columbia Crest, is featured. I’ve talked about the H3 wines before – even this very wine and vintage – 2010 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon #210047 $19.95. This is a wine for those that really dig that house red style that’s popular with California reds – a bit bigger, a touch of sweetness that isn’t syrupy but smooth and some oak. It’s very good, isn’t it? This wine has some pop on the finish, great red fruits like cherries and, uncharacteristically, strawberries (but this might have been brought on by the feeling of shame for not writing about a strawberry nuanced rosé for Wine Blogging Wednesdays this week) on the sniff, all muddled delightfully together in your mouth with interesting darker things like chocolate. It’s pretty neat and the year since I last had it has smoothed it out. Good value red! I know there are lots of McManis cab fans out there as it’s a popular value? Ontario sip. Take a flyer on the H3.

Revisiting Past Daily Sloshes

fermedumontA couple months back, I recommended a great Rhone wine La Ferme du Mont Le Ponnat Cotes du Rhones-Villages #171371 $17.00 – Subsequently, I recommended this wine to a friend who loves a Beaujolais style red as his ‘go to’ wine, thinking that he could branch out. He’s now aggressively working through a bunch of Le Ponnant that he bought. He loves it! I do too. If you are having a barbecue with friends or you just drink alone but deny it to others, pick up more than a single bottle. You have to trust someone with wine recommendations. Trust me. At least this once.

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