Tag Archives: new zealand

Essentials Recommendations

10 May

A couple posts ago, I used a video of The Blind Boys of Alabama with Susan Tedeschi singing People Get Ready. I got a few responses saying that they had never heard Susan before. So, I’ve added another of her tracks above – a great John Prine song – great flute solo. Susan’s an accomplished blues guitarist and singer. Her main squeeze is Derek Trucks. How much great music must come from that house? Listen to it as you scroll.

On to the wine. Last week, I was asked by a golf buddy what would be a good red wine to take to a friend’s house for dinner. After I asked the requisite question about what the food was going to be (“Who knows?”), I kind of stalled. Oh, I finally gave a couple suggestions but I felt inadequate. Aren’t I supposed to know these kind of things off the top of my head? I think the issue for me was availability. What wines would be in stock and, ergo, a good recommendation?

The mothership has a cadre (over 100) of higher quality wines and spirits that are usually available in larger stores and they’re called the Essentials Collection. They range from Cristal Brut Champagne ($297) and Tignanello ($103) to Cathedral Cellar Cab Sav ($16) and Anselmi San Vicenzo ($17). It’s a broad spectrum but you should be able to find something that fits the occasion and your budget.

Budget Reds

Monte Antico #69377 $15.95 This is a food wine and it’s Italian. Meaning serve it with pizza, pasta with a tomato sauce, etc. Maybe even a mushroom dish. It has that bite that I love.

LAN Crianza #166538 $15.95 A $16 Rioja Crianza that carries the day. Perfect everyday medium-bodied red. I’m having ribs tonight and might pair them with this unless I get paralyzed down in the basement (so many choices) and end up bringing up something else. If you can find the Viña Real Crianza @ $18.95 – grab a couple bottles as it is very nice as well.

kaikenKaiken Malbec #58339 $14.95 This is a good value Malbec for those that love that grape. I know there are cheaper ones out there but step away from the Fuzion and make a very little step up price-wise to this much better version.

Mid-Range Reds

Muga Reserva #177345 $23.95 If there is even a hint that your guests or you, for that matter, like Iberian wine, this is the the ‘go to’ choice from Essentials. Consistent and typical Rioja cedary goodness. Food or just plain sipping.

Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon #193573 $22.95 If it’s VQA you’re looking for, this is a great example of Niagara Bordeaux red. A hint of green pepper but not distracting from the dark fruit. Good steak wine. It’s tasty.

tenutacastigligoniMarchesi de’ Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni #145920 $21.95 I have recommended this wine so many times that I can type the name without checking the spelling. Pure Tuscan goodness. Spicy and fabulous with a simple lamb dish.

Honourable Mention

Wynn’s Coonawarra Black Label Cab Sav, Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir, Espãrao Reserva, E. Guigal Côtes du Rhone, Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon

Budget Whites

Anselmi San Vicenzo #948158 $16.95 If you like the vibe of whites from north-eastern Italy (Soave), grab this one. A perfect paring would be sun and friends.

Willm Reserve Riesling #11452 $15.95 An extra dry Riesling from Alsace. Stony, citrus. Great food wine.

Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontés #1834 $13.95 I couldn’t forget Susana. This is her entry-level Torrontés. I think it’s the perfect grape for sipping.

Mid-Range Whites

cloudy bayCloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc #304469 $32.95 The SB that started the whole Kiwi love-in. Powerful, clean, gooseberry. Perfect with grilled seafood. It can handle spicier, heavier fare – maybe even blackened grilled fish.

Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay #545004 $21.95  BC wines are available in short supply here. So grab a bottle of this judiciously oaked Chard. Perfect with chicken, salmon or for just you and your imaginary friend (never drink alone).

Henri Bourgeois Les Baronnes Sancerre #542548 $25.95 This would be a nice counterpoint to the Cloudy Bay above. Both SB’s but totally different styles. This one is restrained, minerally, and better with cleaner foods – like scallops or salads. Friends that winter in Florida start their evening imbibing with a white, frequently a Sancerre. Good sipping.

Honourable mention

Mer Soleil Chardonnay, Tawse Quarry Road Riesling, Malivoire Chardonnay, Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc

Rosé

Malivoire Lady Bug #559088 $15.95 Have recommended this almost every year. I’m typed out on it.

So, if you need a wine that’s not from the General Listing aisles – something with a little cache, wander to the Vintages section, search these out and please let me know what you think. After all, I am all alone and appreciate contact with the outside world. Well I’m alone except for my imaginary friend, that is. Clink, clink.

Cheers.

Bill

Smokey and The Red Daily Slosh

19 Feb

Born this day in 1940 – Smoky Robinson.

The February 21st release is trumpeting the 2012 vintage in Australia – “The Best Vintage in 20 Years”, they say. The thing is that just because the vintage is a good one generally, there are a lot of other factors that also determine the quality of a wine. What’s a poor soul to do with this information? Just drink the Kool-Aid and buy up a bunch of 2012 Aussie wine? Or, tramp the back roads of unpronounceable Australian regions, speaking with winemakers, tasting each and every wine to find that one $18 beaut for dinner with the in-laws? Actually sounds like fun. But, no, we don’t have to do that.

My strategy is to think back to wines that I’ve loved from the region and seek them out in that ‘vintage of the century’. Why not stick with what you love? Plus, you can actually taste the difference that vintage makes – apples to apples, year after year.

I have to say that I’m disappointed that the mother ship didn’t include some Coonawarra cab in the release as some of those are my Aussie Montelenas. Oh well, something to look forward to.

stonedwellersI have only tasted one of the featured Australian wines. Good news? The one I had was a very positive experience. The 2012 Fowle’s Stone Dweller’s Shiraz #265967 $19.95 is a regular fixture on the shelves in most vintages. Or so it seems. This is a typical Aussie Shiraz weight-wise – full-bodied and expressive. Big but not braggy – balanced for it’s size. I have to say that the thing I like best about Aussie Shiraz is the unabashed spiciness. This one carries the peppery stuff I love – can even detect a bunch on the nose. On the finish – all spice, fruit, and nice. Highly recommended.

New Zealand makes more reds than just Pinot Noir. I picked up a Sileni Hawk’s Bay Merlot the other day as it was being discontinued – a reasonable representation of Merlot but a bit thin. cjpaskThis week, there’s a red blend that I think deserves a buy recommendation – the 2010 CJ Pask Gimlett Road Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec #279869 $19.95. This is a well balanced mid-weight red. I see this as a food wine but also a good stand around red. Use of the Malbec seems to ramp up the weight and colour. Where the Sileni was a bit washed out, this is fuller and weightier. Nice wine.

I’ve heard people say, “I can’t afford to drink French wine”. Aside from the generalization of French wines as all the same, it’s just plain bullshit. I say, “You can’t afford not to drink French wines.” French, Italian, German, and Spanish wine is what wine was meant to be. That doesn’t mean New World doesn’t make great wine. It just means for me that there’s something comforting in a French, Spanish or Italian wine, if it’s made well. I plead guilty to not drinking enough German wines. This week, the 2013 Domaine de la Madone Perréon Beaujolais-Villages #981175 $14.95 proves that French wine doesn’t have to be at least $30 to be good. This is a solid, incredibly easy-drinking, true-to-varietal wine. Everyone should drink Beaujolais. It’s purity of fruit, as in this example, is a refreshing break from the over-oaked, tricked up wines that we all secretly love. A confessional aside: tricked up wines remind me of guilty pleasure music. You can tell everyone that you don’t like ABBA (I don’t) but when Dancing Queen comes on the radio and you’re alone in the car, admit it, you’re conflicted – turn the channel and maintain your cred or just give in, smile, and sing along. It’s like Paul or John. It’s all good, really. Back to the Beaujolais – this wine isn’t quite as simple as I’ve portrayed the regional style. Although this is light-bodied and easy-going, it has a nice vein of acidity and enough tannin folded in to tell you that it would like some food. Think of sitting outside (in your down-filled parka?) in the sun with some mid-day stuff to eat. Maybe some salty olives and seafood. Oh yeah, and bread – lots of bread. Perfect wine for that. Great value. You can’t afford not to drink this French wine!

On the same theme, French wine that is, the 2011 Gerard Bertrand Saint-Chinian Syrah/Mourvedre #370247 $18.95 is a big, lip-smacking red beauty. Do I have a blind spot? Yup, well made red blends from the South of France. Let me put it this way (cue George Winston):

I swirl, sniff – sun-baked schist and lavender explode

Transformed

I sip – I am warmed under a duvet of red fruit, tangled underbrush, and stone

Nourished

Straining against the urge to stir and re-fill my glass

I sit back and smile

Sated.

gerardbscDuff does poetry? Of course, I’m not just a pretty face. This wine? Well, it delivers on that verse. Scents of big red fruit, anise, repeating in the mouth with lip-smackingness, wrapped up with a nice medium long finish. Good heft, full-bodied food wine. Perfect with some grilled stuff. Luv this! Gerard Bertrand is a cool guy with a great winery base, Château L’Hospitalet – that doubles as wine tourism – accommodations, food, jazz festival. Keep a look out for his labels.

Cheers

Bill

Holiday Advice – Part Deux

19 Dec

Last year I featured Bing and Bowie as an awkward couple. This year I thought we’d examine another unusual pairing. Think about it. Arguably the best female voice of all time and the guy who gave us Delilah – a song about an angry man stabbing his g/f in a fit of rage. Talk amongst yourselves.

This is the second part of three posts offering some recommendations for wines a little out of the ‘daily’ range. The first installment can be read here.

Pinot Noir

gravityPinot Noir may be the most personal of all wines. Some like them lean and under the tank top – muscular, others like ’em softer and round. I’m in the first camp. So, here goes. In Ontario, there are many great local pinots. You could start with 2012 Flat Rock Cellars ‘Gravity’ Pinot Noir #1560 $29.95 an earthy, darker-than-pinot, fruitful wine. Bigger on the nose than usual for this wine – probably 2012 showing through. Lovely wine. Another Ontario gem is any pinot by hardiepnNorman Hardie. Prince Edward County, Norman Hardie in particular, instills a very different take on pinot than Niagara. The 2011 Norman Hardie Unfiltered Pinor Noir #125310 $39.00 is a cherry tea stained long drink of pinot. What does it remind me of? Earl Grey tea – it’s tea alright but not the same. This is pinot but not the same as pinot. Complicated but worth getting to know. I’m heading to The County in the New Year and can’t wait to visit some of their exciting wineries.

Oregon has a very classic take on pinot. Lovely stuff. But, we are disadvantaged with limited selection. I couldn’t find any that had anything but a scattered availability in the province. I read other bloggers that talk about the breadth of choice they have with Pinot Noir in America. Alas, we have many more Burgundy available – which means we can go broke early and often. However, a non-Sonoma ‘go to’ calerapinot for me is Calera – which we do have. The 2012 Calera Pinot Noir #933044 $33.95 is a great introduction to a world of California pinot that isn’t ‘one-dimensional’ like the lower priced entries seem to be. I find you need to stretch the budget a bit particularly with pinots. Calera has several single vineyard offerings too that we get each year – the Jensen Vineyard being my fave and a wine that you don’t want to open because it just gets better and better with time. The one above is their entry level and is ripe, red fruity, earthy, and very accessible. Good value.

rdbgcIf you prefer a more Burgundian take and you don’t want to get a second mortgage, I’d suggest a bargain cru – Beaune Teurons 1er Cru. I call it my ‘Go To Cru Crew’. But, I see that there are but a few available. Another time. So, what to splurge on? Well, the 2012 Roche de Bellene Vieilles Vignes Gevrey-Chambertin #240242 $56.95 is dark and a bit wild but easy to understand, if that makes sense. I bought a couple and mistakenly opened one right away to find, as I knew that I would, that it wasn’t ready for prime time. Duh. Buy this for someone that has or is building a cellar.

akaruaAnd no, I didn’t forget New Zealand pinot. There are a bunch but let’s get some focus. The 2012 Akarua Pinot Noir #79541 $37.95 is a lovely Central Otago pinot. It’s not shy with red fruits and a lovely seam of acidity. Extremely food friendly. Go ahead and splurge on this one. Low risk – high reward. The minty, herbiness would match a sage turkey perfectly. I think that I’ve just talked myself into it. Damn, I hate when that happens.

Pinot recap – all but Roche de Bellene ready to drink and all good matches for turkey dinner.

I headed up these sections by varietal. But, I probably should have simply provided some whites, reds, rosés and bubblies instead of going the varietal route. Well, live and learn. At least tying Chardonnay to Pinot Noir makes some sense. Right?

Chardonnay

mersoleilOaky chards don’t get a lot of love these days. But, I still like them if there’s some balance and I don’t have to pull slivers of oak out of my tongue. A biggerish Chardonnay is the 2011 Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay #958975 $34.95. It is decadent (so, delete the “ish” above) with a hint of butter and some citrus on the nose but pure tropical fruit and butterscotch in the mouth and on the finish. We like the buttery ones here and this is a staple down below – that would be my basement. It works with creamy chicken stuff and the turkey if it’s not a spicy treatment but more trad. If you want to buy local, pick up the 2011 Tawse Daniel Lenko Vineyard tawsedlchardonnayChardonnay #344796 $44.95. This is made with grapes from the old vines at Daniel Lenko. I’ll tell the story of my visit to Daniel Lenko another time. Suffice it to say, the place is unique among the array of wineries on the bench. Blend Lenko’s grapes with the Burgundian leanings of Tawse and you get a Chardonnay that’s a bit more Old School than the one above. Pure tropical fruit and apples on the nose joined with some of the oak induced butter and vanilla in the mouth – a mineral echo on the finish. Love it. The Mer Soleil is Janis Joplin; the Tawse – Joan Osborne. Both great styles – substantial, full of flavour and nuance, just different.

Classic white Burgundy is around but scattered availability. It can be pricy. If you want to partake of the classic Burgundian Chardonnay, I’d suggest two approaches: Chablis (minerally, stony and crisper – lovely stuff – look for 2010) and Meursault (a little rounder, nuttier, and deeper – pricier as well). I haven’t tasted any of those that I see on-line and, frankly, there aren’t many. Ask a consultant at the store for advice if this is your leaning.

Now, I’m off to The Morrissey for a craft beer (or two). Have a great weekend!

Part Three: first of next week

Holiday Advice – Part 1

17 Dec

I want to hate Michael Buble because he’s so darn popular and cute. But, I have to admit that his Christmas stuff is catchy. And, yes it is Andrew’s Alma Mater wasting study time doing a lip-dub.

I received an email this week asking if there were any Amarones at the mother ship that I’d recommend. It got me to thinking that not everyone uses the duffswines.com Concierge Service. What is it? Well, I will give you advice on almost anything. Cottage book? Got it covered. Music? I’ve got the playlist. Restaurant? Too easy. Over the counter medications? Duh. Love interest? Most definitely.

Back to the Concierge Service. The Amarone request got me to thinking that a post on appropriate splurge holiday wines might be in order. If there were a time of year to splurge on wine, this would be it. So, here goes. We will do this in three parts. BTW, not all wines are ‘real’ splurges..

Big California Cabernet

You may think that since I sometimes dis big California Cabernets, I don’t like them. Not true. What’s not to like? I do think that they are best consumed with food. If like me, you don’t eat a lot of red meat, they just don’t get opened that much. Just to clarify further (this is the dis that I usually fling), I do believe that they can be the most over-priced wine in the store up here in The Great White North. But, all said, they can be really yummy.

montelenaMy closest friends will tell you that I always have a certain label in my cellar – Chateau Montelena. I don’t have a lot of Cali Cabs. So, I stay instead with proven winners. It saves time shopping. You should be able to find a few 2011 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon #718452 $59.95 – can be consumed now with a decant or put down for a few years. I’m kind of an Old World guy and this place makes Cabernet that is a great blend of Old and New. Solid, structured and full of red fruits – judicious use of oak as they say and not too too. Serious wine, if there can be such a thing. And, if that special someone is me, you could splurge further and pick up the 2010 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon #709881 $159.95. Wait, that price seems too high. Yup, it’s only $156.95! This wine seems to shine in even years. Weird that. The 2002 Estate is one of my favourite wines, all time. As with the Veedercrest below, Chateau Montelena participated in the 1976 Judgment of Paris and bested their French competitors.

Other worthy readily available candidates are:

2005 Veedercrest Vinter’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon #377119 $83.95 This is one of the older wineries in California and we seldom get it up here. This is ready to drink NOW or still can sit.

2009 Othello #156539 $42.95 a Bordeaux blend but somewhat cab sav dominated. From Christian Moueix of Jean-Pierre Moueix. They produce Petrus and a host of other massively successful Right Bank Bordeaux. In Napa, he is Dominus Estate.

Sauvignon Blanc

cloudy bayOne of the better white wines for almost any occasion is Sauvignon Blanc. Whether it’s Sancerre or New World. If you read my MWWC13 post you’ll know which splurge Sauvignon Blanc I’m going to recommend – 2012 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc #304469 $31.95. There are so many reasonably priced Kiwi SB’s that you have to ask yourself, “Why splurge?” I get it. There’s Astrolabe, Whither Hills, Seresin – all great wines at 2/3’s the price. But, every once in awhile, you have to go classic. Cloudy Bay is the ‘classic’ Kiwi white. Surprise someone with this wine. For the French take on Sauvignon Blanc – Sancerre, I’ve always found Jolivet the standard. The 2013 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre #264945 $29.95 – balanced and sophisticated. These wines can be stand around wines or served with food that has a little saltiness and pop, especially seafood. Other worthy Sauvignon Blancs:

jolivetAlas, Sancerres are few and far between at the LCBO, so why not it’s cousin Pouilly-Fumé

2013 Domaine Chauveau Pouilly-Fumé #390641 $23.95

2013 Wither Hills #919514 $17.95 Kiwi caselot?

2013 Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc #10421 $22.95 a somewhat atypical Kiwi SB – has some different fruit aromas and flavours

Part Deux: tomorrow

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.

Ireland’s Lessons and the Red Daily Slosh

21 May

Relevance of the video? None really, just love this song done by an amazing singer and it’s my blog. Dare you not to sing along. One of my favourite sad shower songs. TMI?

I apologize for leaving you in the lurch for awhile. I was away on a not even remotely earned vacation in Ireland. I mean there’s no possibility that anyone could mistake me for someone needing a vacation. There is no way that I ever work that hard. Have I been clear? I don’t deserve vacations. However, things that I learned in Ireland include:

  • Guinness won’t kill you – it is great!
  • Guinness is very good, I like Guinness
  • I know that I’m repeating myself but, you guessed it, I like Guinness
  • Rain is not my friend
  • Music is universally important. Music matters
  • It rains a lot in Ireland
  • Aer Lingus isn’t Irish for free drinks during flight
  • Galway is the new…………whatever the old ‘cool’ place was
  • Smithwicks is pronounced Smithicks or, alternatively, Smithwicks and it doesn’t depend on how many you’ve had
  • The right side of the road is in fact the right side of the road
  • Skoda makes every automobile driven in Ireland and none driven in Canada – what’s with that? Where for art thou, Skoda? “Feel the force”. Anyone get that one or too geeky?
  • Friends make life worth living – well, that and wine

These recommendations are for the May 24th “New Arrivals” release.

bilahautvvRoussillon is part of the Lake of Wine in the south of France. It, along with the Languedoc, has spawned labels such as Fat Bastard, Arrogant Frog, a bicycle one that I forget, and other cute but reasonably solid wines. I have recommended a tonne of wines from this area because…………….well, I really like them and I worked several harvests at Chateau L’Homme Faible as a grape frere. There are three that make these virtual pages each and every vintage, it seems – those carrying M. Chapoutier’s Bila-Haut label. This week there is the entry level Bila-Haut and the premium one as well. Let’s start on the easier price point – 2012 M. Chapoutier Les Veilles Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon-Villages #168716 $14.95. That’s a mouthful – “I’d like a glass of the Chapoutier Les Viieilles Vignes (is it veel vins? deep breath) de Bila-Haut (hard swallow) Cotes….oh shit, just give me a glass of this (pointing to the item on the menu with your finger).” These wines sometimes can be quite simple or one-dimensional at this price point but this wine defies that description – it’s medium bodied but brings it with earthy, chewy flavours and tannins. Syrah, Carignan, and Grenache grown on “gneiss and schist from the Devonian Period.” I’m not schisting you; that’s directly from their web site. It creates a wine that has minerality, spiciness, and some smell and taste of the scrubbiness from which it comes. A good value. The shelf label will say that I gave it 3 fishes or it more likely will say that www.winefront.com.au gave it a 91.

occultumlapidemThe other Chapoutier gem is the premium – but not much 2011Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem #643239 $25.95. This wine has a similar feel to the cheaper one – brambly, garrigueiness. A more full-bodied effort. I’m not sure whether there was any wood used but I bet if it was it was old casks – fruit isn’t overshadowed by anything that doesn’t come from the field. Bigger and rounder than the one above. My notes say, “Love this stuff!!!” Yes, three exclamation points. BTW ‘occultum lapidem’ means ‘hidden stone’ or ‘gem’, I believe. But then again, I only took Latin for four years about a hundred years ago. Glad I did as it’s a big help on crossword puzzles and Dan Brown novels. I’ll let you discover the shelf talkers yourself but this scored very high marks from some of the ‘experts’. These labels have Braille on them too. There’s a story there that I’ll leave you to Google.

montes aslpha syrahThere was a time when many of my recommendations included wines from Chile. Not sure why they’ve fallen off – probably because I’m not drinking as many of them so don’t know what’s what? This week, the 2010 Montes Alpha Syrah #000612 $19.95 appears on the shelves. This label is a ‘go to’ for some of you (Oliver and Joanne?) as you’ve told me about the cabernet sauvignon, carmenere, and chardonnay; all consistent performers. This syrah has been climbing on quality over the last few vintages IMHO. This one has staying power requiring a little basement time, breathing or violent swishing. Subdued nose but a powerful experience in the mouth. It reminds me of a New World cabernet sauvignon a bit – with the oak very present – some cab in the blend. Powerful wine – food wine – lamb chops, pork roast, fatty meat – spice and acid on the finish making my lips smack. Wait, I really don’t know if my idea of lip smacking is everyone else’s. Let’s all do this together – 1, 2, 3 smack your lips. You did try it didn’t you? You guys are just weird.

ironyBringing you wines that you’ll actually pick up is one of my goals here. Repeating labels so that you get familiar with the good ones. No use recommending the 2006 Blaufränkisch if the name itself scares you off. We’ll build up to those unfamiliar wines another time. This time of year, you’re looking for getting the Q started and burgers burning. This week there’s a wine that can do one better than burgers – the 2011 Irony Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon #025106 $19.95 arrives to give those Calicabaholics a very nice picnic table red. Food friendly with balanced acidity and enough backbone tannins to stand up to steak, I think. Dark but not swarthy. Pretty quintessential California cabernet sauvignon and the price is very good for this much power and balance.

Speaking of pricing. And, I’m sure we were. What’s with the seemingly big mark up on US wines? Isn’t the mother ship one of the biggest purchasers of wines and spirits in the world? Drive a hard deal, FCOL. The wine above is probably $9.99 USD at Costco. As a former math major, I calculate that as about a 100% markup. Done without a calculator or slide rule, I might add. So either Mister Irony (in cahoots with his Canadian importer) is screwing with us or we’re getting new hospital beds at my local with the profits. Which is a definite plus as I age and detect significant mental slippage. But it ain’t just the exchange and sin tax is what I’m sayin’.

This release features Rhone reds – and, I Iove Rhone reds! But alas, I haven’t sampled any of the Rhone wines on offer. Note to LCBO – “If you want me to keep on upselling the masses, show me some love and get me some samples”. I do have two sight–undrank wines that I might pick up – 2011 Le Gravillas Côtes du Rhône-Villages Séguret #309260 $15.95 and 2010 La Font du Vent Passion Côtes du Rhône-Villages Signargues #370260 $16.95 both sound like they’re the type of Cotes I like to wear.

Recommendation revisited: I recommended the Clifford Bay Pinot Noir #309500 $19.95 quite a while ago and was surprised to see that there are still a bunch at my store (Masonville). Go get it if you’re a New World pinot fan – good value from Down Under.

Portugal Redux and the Red Daily Slosh

21 Apr

Spring weather shout out to the David Wilcox fans out there. You know who you are.

Disregard my earlier proclamations stating that Spring was here because today marks the real date. I mean, Spring Is Here, Baby! It’s glorious outside, windows open, birds chirping and my keyboard singing. If you’re looking for spring recos, check out my post on that very topic.

passerelaA post or two back, I reviewed a Portuguese red and stated that I was going on a hunt for good Portuguese wines. I opened another a week back – 2009 Casa de Passarela Reserva #365557 $18.95. This is from the Dao region which is a ways south of the Duoro river – sheltered and warm, it makes Mediterrenean style reds. This blend is predominantly touriga nacional, the most commonly used grape for port. I found it a bit closed and tight at first needing loads of air. I didn’t really let that stop me. And, once it got going, it provided some strong wood influences and purple fruit. Opaque, quite sophisticated, lots of energy, and I’d highly recommend if you lean toward Tuscan-style wines.

These recommendations are for the April 26th release.

threeriversThis winter I got away a couple times to visit our neighbours to the south, as we like to call them. It was decidedly warmer, cheaper, and, when you feel like you’re on vacation (and, don’t suggest that I’m on permanent vacation again) more fun. I had maybe a bottle of wine or two. One was a great Washington red – 2011 Three Rivers River’s Red #287433 $19.95. I did not pay $19.95 – or even an exchange adjusted $19.95 – way south of that. But, I digress. This is a merlot dominated substantive wine – not with fruit but its structure – solid tannins through to the finish, a bit dry at the start, a nice vein of acidity, and the fruit I get isn’t the normal merlot reddish fruits but dark and dirty ones – maybe the syrah and cab franc in the blend. The write up suggests steak and that seems bang on. This isn’t a standing around wine. I know because I stood around when I had it. Confession: sat around. Have with food. If you’re partial to California cabs, take a peek at this. I think it will please you and remember: eat responsibly.

momopnI have been disproportionately enjoying New Zealand pinot noir lately. Our Easter dinner this past weekend featured The Ned and Te Mania – both nice examples of entry level Kiwi Pinot . Which coincidentally is the sound I hear out my window right now. The northern shrike in spring – Ki….WI…Peeeee..no. This week, there’s the pinot half of the Momo label – 2011 Momo Pinot Noir #163972 $19.95. This is an organic product. Great pinot acidity, minimal oak effects except for the tea notes that I love, and medium bodied. This is indeed a standing around wine – gravitating to leaning around – on to sitting around. It was great with a simple shrimp pasta (butter, EVOO, and garlic) but you can just twist and pour and enjoy by itself. If you haven’t had New Zealand pinot lately, pick this up. If, like me you have, pick it up anyway. Momo’s sauvignon blanc is outstanding value as well.

villacafaggioI have had a few of the 2010 Chianti Classicos and, there wasn’t one that I didn’t like. Not sure if the consensus is that it’s a good vintage, great vintage or meh. But, I think that if you pay attention and Tuscany didn’t suffer from a flood or drought, you can find great Chianti Classico in most vintages. This just in – I did a little extra research and it was a ‘great’ vintage according to the pros. This beaut of a Chianti is one that I look for every year and keep a few in my basement that seem to age very well (still have a ’98) – maybe 10 to 15 years. The 2010 Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico #176776 $19.95 is a solid value as always – strong bones of acidity, easy tannins, and musty Tuscan scents and flavours. A friend that loves Italian reds would love this – so, MR, pick up a couple – one now and the other a few years hence. I love this! Pork roast. Actually, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll know that my food recommendations are a crap shoot. I presently believe that the ‘science’ of pairing is a bit overblown. But, I am open to arguments to the contrary. I find that if you love the wine and you love the food, you’ll probably like the match.

faustinoReaders’ feedback suggests that they are most interested in everyday priced wines. I have a splurge category but haven’t written much on splurges to focus on more affordable quaffs. I listen to my readers (all 7 of them). But, I just couldn’t ignore a stunningly elegant wine like the 2001 Faustino I Grand Reserva #976662 $32.95. A Rioja Gran Reserva must age at least 5 years, 2 of which has to be in oak barrels. Had this a year ago and it still carries lots of pep – not flabby or easy – still demanding your attention. I can’t really see how this couldn’t age gracefully (like Sophia Loren?) another five or so years. Wait that doesn’t sound right. Of course, we want Sophia to age for more than 5 years. Back to the wine – powerful and smoky, nervy, lipsmacking good. And, lots of fruit especially after the swallow –  long finish. If you’re a fan of shelf talkers, this one will probably have a 97 on the tag. And, oh yeah, it was Decanter Magazine’s Top Wine of 2013 (out of 3,200 wines tasted)! Sometimes, you spend a little extra and ask, “Why did I bother?” this will not invoke that sentiment, rather “Why didn’t I splurge for more than one?”

TTFN

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.

 

The “Out Of The Darkness” Survival Kit

31 Mar

George, Ringo, Phil, Elton and Eric (with a perm, it seems). And does anyone recognize the guy playing tamborene? He looks familiar but I can’t place him.

It’s almost spring-like weather if you’re in the Great White North or even the Northeast. At the risk of jinxing us, I’m going out on a limb and saying that winter is finally over. And, we’re jonesing to get on the patio or deck and into the sun. But, since we’ve had so little practice over the last thousand months (or so it seems), I thought some suggestions for what you’ll need to truly enjoy this time of year is in order.

Twist Cap Wine – Let’s face it, in most cases, our utility corkscrews are crappy. They were free with the purchase of a box of wine back in 1994 and only see the light of day when you travel (got one in my overnight kit) or at the cottage. So, rather than worry about that, go to twist caps. That way you don’t require any additional accessories and they avoid any unpleasant injuries when opening bottle number three in mid-afternoon. You know those injuries where you’ve been a little careless or overzealous removing the foil or inserting the screw……….. Oh behave – you know what I mean. So, most of my recommended wines will be so enclosed.

sippy winePlastic Wine Glasses – I can hear the purists out there screaming, “Bill, not plastic! It ruins the nose, the flavours, the wine!” Well, I agree that there is something specialer, more special? about drinking wine from the appropriate made vessel. And, that would most definitely be made of glass. But, similar to the corkscrew, accidents can occur. I’m suggesting that you eliminate the worry of potential breakage of the Reidel (designed for medium riesling) glasses by using plastic glasses or, gasp, tumblers. Yes, tumblers like they do in many Mediterranean countries and my backyard. Have you seen those coloured wine sippy cups (picture above courtesy of http://www.whatonearthcatalog.com and available at Kiss The Cook here in London)? They’re pretty cool but have a back up plan as you tire of them a bit after the 3rd or 4th glass. Who wants to sip glass 4 through 7? Your sipping muscles get tired.

The Nibbles – Spring is special and perhaps the third best part of a Patio Sip and Nibble is the nibble. I don’t usually stand on formalities or conventions but I do draw the line for this occasion at packaged nibbles as in potato chips, tortilla chips, etc. It just isn’t done. Those snacks are for propping you up while in the throes of depression or, as we like to call it, winter. So, get off your ass and head to those stores that have been proliferating like rabbits – the Whole Foods style stores that make their “own” recently re-packaged nibbles (all from the same supplier, I bet). Or better yet, dig out one of your never-looked-at-in-two-years-because-you-get-recipes-on-line cookbook entitled “Nibbles On The Patio: 100 Sure Fire Recipes” make something yourself.

The Wine – I’m going to suggest that you remember that wine is one part of a patio day in the sun – not the only part. And, it’s hard for me to say this but I mean that you needn’t try and carry the day with the wine – it’s nice enough just to be outside and swigging something other than hot chocolate. It’s more important that the wine matches the gleeful and fun nature of the pationess. And, I think that we can stay at home for most of these.

Rosé
malivoireladybugMalivoire Labybug Rosé #559088 $15.95 – This is a wine that you should always have in the basement – to be utilized as a First Aid remedy for the blahs. Fresh, strawberries and a bit of a bite – perfect for nibbles – even if they are substantial nibbles. Serve well-chilled.
charteressesTavel – No, not a character from Fiddler On The Roof. It’s a rosé from the south of France, where rosé takes on an almost spiritual character. Who am I kidding? – it’s just wine but very good. A lot more substantial than many rosés (the reddest of pink wines – red wine lovers’ rosé) – so, made for real food. Some of my favourites are: Domaine des Carteresses Tavel #739474 $16.95, Domaine Maby la Forcadière Tavel Rosé #701318 $16.95. mabyroseDownside is that these Tavels have corks, better left for early in the session.

 

Pinot Noir
flatrockpnFlat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir #1545 $19.95 (on sale right now for $18.95) – this red is great for many occasions but I think that twisting a cap on this with some smoked salmon something would be perfect. Or just by itself, which I admit I’ve done but really just once.
thenedThe Ned Pinot Noir #361261 $19.95 – from New Zealand this is a great introduction to Marlborough’s take on pinot noir. A little darker than the Flat Rock but equally zesty and fun. Nothing serious here and that’s not a knock; that’s a compliment. Who wants to work at it when you’re outside sipping and slurping?

Riesling
There are a couple of ways to go here – dry or mediumish
csestaterieslingCave Springs Estate Riesling #286377 $17.95 this dry (not bone) riesling is one of the wines that shows us all that Niagara does wieswing weewee well – consistent, citrusy, a bit of floral something-something, and an acidity that’s lip-smacking good.
rosewoodsussreserveRosewood Sussreserve Riesling #258806 $14.94 this is a Beamsville Bench medium riesling but with enough acidity to quieten down the sweetness. Just saying that if you are one of those that say, “I only drink dry wines.” Then, decide whether you want to be convinced that there’s life outside dry wines. If you do – slug some of this down. If not, forget about it. This comes from a winery that doubles as a meadery (is that a word?) and it’s spooky but I detect a hint of clover in this.

Pinot Grigio – Hey, this is a wine blog and pinot grigio before June is like wearing white after Labour Day – it’s just not done. In fact, not sure it’s done after June either.

Now, I’ve missed some. You might say, “somewhat intentionally”, to drive some chatter in the comment box below about what wine I failed to include – Grüner Veltliner? Chardonnay? Dolcetto? Bubbly? Come on, you know there’s others.

So, get out there – grab some sun, some friends that have been hibernating, and some artchoke bruschetta, lamb kabobs with mint, roasted sunchoke with rosemary dip. See, there I go. A person that writes about wine can’t help it – we all have to get fancy about something. If it isn’t the nose of fresh fig paste and spice box nuances, it’s the creative use of unusual food pairings that sound impossible with ingredients that require a trip back to Whole Foods. So I’ll drop the wine pairing smack, get out the chips and dip, popcorn, nachos and salsa and get yourself some spring. And, if nibbles are the third best part of pationess, what are first and second? Well, friends and wine, of course! Here comes the sun!

 

 

The Average White Daily Slosh – Finally

27 Feb

This is for the March 1 release.

What’s been going on with the White Daily Slosh? It’s been non-existent and my white drinkers are rattling my cage to try and get me motivated to talk about white wines. I haven’t had that many whites lately but I think the proper excuse is the weather.

I’ve finally reached the point where I’ve HAD IT! Not with wine, a little with our monopoly, but it’s this winter. I don’t need some almanac wannabe to tell me that this is the worst winter of 2013-2014. It has been terrible. I’ve seen similar sentiments from The Winegetter who is stranded in Michigan. A winter like this brings a certain challenge to this wino. Correction: oenophile and wine blogger (wingger?)

Although there are many white wines that perform in colder weather, winter for me is a mostly red season. Substantial, warming reds. In my basement (it’s really not a wine cellar), I have only so many everyday winter reds that I feel that I can open, well, everyday. This doesn’t seem like much of a problem to others. I mean, “get over it, Bill.” But, think about poor Bill pondering his wine selection for the evening and realizing that he doesn’t have any more (well, maybe just a couple?) everyday Cotes du Rhone, Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel, Italian chewies, or reasonably priced Bordeaux that he could bring himself to open. It’s almost criminal. Violation of Sec 234 sub.1 (Failing to provide for the necessities of life). See, what’s happened to me is that I haven’t kept pace – my drinking is outstripping my everyday stock. And, before you say anything, I do realize that there is a simple answer, thank you very much. But, I’ve got better-keep-for-a-special-day ones and summery stuff and it just might have to be OTBN every week for the rest of the winter. It’s a high class problem, I realize, but here’s the other complication – Arlene doesn’t drink red wine. Gasp, I know it’s unthinkable but true. So, not only OTBN but FTBN (Finish That Bottle Night). I’ve got a vacuum thingie but I’m not a quitter, you see. Long winters suck.

But, I do have a few White Daily Sloshes recos.

giesenWe went out with friends last weekend for Indian food – Rogan Josh, King Prawn Tikka (also the name of an Indian rapper – actually Rogan Josh might be a good rapper name too). We ended up having a sauvignon blanc (Oyster Bay) which, although not textbook pairing, went pretty well actually – enough pluck to deal with the strong flavours. I like the vibrant and racy nature of Kiwi SB. This week there’s a great example 2012 Giesen ‘The Brothers’ Sauvignon Blanc #247213 $19.95. It’s a little more reserved than, say the Oyster Bay, but I kind of like that. The review suggests a great match with asparagus. But, let’s think about this for a minute. Who the hell just eats asparagus? I’ve never thought of asparagus as an entrée, a meal. I guess you could have an asparagus course. On second thought, you couldn’t have that either. I’d think that maybe this would go with some spicy seafood, veggie appetizers, cold asparagus spears?, even something with a kick, like pakoras. It’s fresh and grassy with that lovely SB acidity and excitement. I’d love to hear from you all as to your best match with Indian foods. Kingfisher beer, although probably right, is not a qualifying answer – this is a wine blog.

marquisIf it’s chardonnay you’re looking for, and I think of it as a winter wine, kind of, there are a couple choices – the 2011 G. Marquis Silver Line Chardonnay #258681 $17.95. I’ve recommended this wine before. Can’t find the post but in the last few months. This has a real nice balance to it. It has some of the creaminess that an oaked chardonnay should have but it doesn’t present as heavy or thick. It has a tree fruit note on the swirl and that continues in the mouth. There’s some stoniness or flint, almost as if it’s unoaked, on the finish that’s quite refreshing.

bellenechardonnayThe other chardonnay is from the home of chardonnay – Burgundy. This is a producer that I’ve come to rely on for my meagre collection of Burgundy. You see, Burgundy is a study all onto itself. I’ve tried and I’m still learning. So, the easiest thing to do is pick a few producers whose approach and style you like and stick to it until you’re better equipped knowledge-wise to wander around a bit. Nicholas Potel used to have his own eponymous label but has since changed to Maison Roche de Bellene. It took me awhile to catch on to the name change and then I’ve kept an eye out for their stuff. If you’re just starting to wade into Burgundy try the Roche. The 2011 Maison Roche de Bellene Vieilles Vignes Bourgogne Chardonnay #299867 $18.95 is a very well priced chardonnay. It isn’t one of those roundish, oaky efforts. Not even that creamy – rather strict and sticking to the script of elegance rather than power. I like it a lot. It has some of the typical apple notes in the mouth with a nice, medium finish. You would think that the Burgundy would have the stoniness on the finish but not so much. Great food wine – white meat, fish, pork roast with apples, and asparagus.

And, pick up the pieces!

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