Tag Archives: Puglia

Ontario Makes An Appearance – The Red Daily Slosh

10 Sep

This release features Ontario wines and what’s the best way to celebrate our province?  Fly the Royal Ensign from your passenger car side window? Nope. Spend your weekend sitting in Tim Horton’s debating the fate of Rob Ford and the demise of the Senate with really old people? Nope. Preparing for the endless sports media coverage of Da’ Leafs by renewing your Paxil script? Nope. Honeymoon Suite? You bet! A group from Niagara Falls is in order. Yes, I know that their hair reminds us all of the folly of being a slave to current and obviously doomed fashion. But still.

Shamefully, I haven’t had many of the featured Ontario wines. Let me explain. Many Ontario producers have a limited capacity and sell much of their premium product through cellar door operations, restaurants, and wine clubs. Without receiving samples (not so subtle a hint) or being on the LCBO tasting politbureau, I don’t get to see much of it unless I’m drinking and weaving along the roads of Ontario. This leaves limited opportunities to taste and experience Ontario wines not generally listed at the LCBO. I traveled recently to Niagara for some winery visits (posts to come) and will try and represent in my posts. That being said, I’ve written about the wines in this release that I’ve experienced and that I can recommend. I’m sure many more of the featured Ontario wines are worth a look and taste.

The wines:

triomphecabfrancI have mentioned Southbrook several times on these pages. Their adherence to organic and biodynamic practices is fascinating to me. Not sure what they were scrambling around doing this week but three nights in a row the moon was a ghostly galleon which must indicate something in biodynamic as well as poetic terms. Setting the sheep loose in the cab franc? Burying Aunt Marie feet-first between the Riesling and the raspberries? Their winemaking and cellaring facilities as well as their visitor centre are über cool and I’d place it among my ‘must visit’ wineries in Niagara on that score and the great staff (shout out to Rachel) alone. But, they are more than a pretty face and have great wines too. The wine this week is their 2012 Southbrook Tromphe Cabernet Franc #275958 $21.95. Niagara for me, particularly down by Niagara-On-The-Lake and Four Mile Creek, does great cab franc. The 2012 vintage was a good one overall for Bordeaux grapes in Niagara and this wine expresses good weather, good ground, and good winemaking. It has that Niagara thing in the glass – I used to experience it as a green note but in this case it’s herbal and cedary. Firm with a tannic streak that’s pretty balanced for this early on in development – dark fruits, and a bit of lip smack on the finish. I liked it a lot. I’d suggest that you don’t stand around with this but eat something with a bit of fat and burnt flesh.

angelsgatemerlotTo quote the late great Joan Rivers, “Can we talk?” Many of our first tastes of Ontario wines, post Cold Duck, were those from fledgling wineries whose vines were young and their wines somewhat………..well, non-descript. Not sure what I expected but I wasn’t impressed and effectively took a hiatus from Niagara for awhile. That was a mistake. A perfect example of this is Angel’s Gate Winery. I traveled there with The Director many years ago as they had just broken ground on their spectacular chateau-styled winery building. At that time, without considering the path that’s needed to get to great wine, I thought that they might have been a bit ambitious. No longer. Age of stock, experience or both have led them to making some of the nicer whites on the Beamsville Bench. But, I still didn’t give them any street cred with reds. While that changed with a sniff and sip of the 2012 Angel’s Gate Mountainview Merlot #299172 $18.95. I’m suggesting that, if you are a California cab lover, that this is not going to be ‘big’ enough for you. But, I believe that ‘big’ should be power not just heft. And, this wine has a nice balance of power (intensity of black fruit, complexity, solid nose) and bite without being heavy or ‘too’ full. I could stand around with this wine pre-dinner, drink with some porkish meat, or just have it with a cookie before bed. What type of cookie? Well, the merlot would play beautifully off a chewy white chocolate chip, macadamia nut cookie. Oreo? Don’t make me laugh. Well, unless you are one of those disgusting people that break them apart and then scrap off the filling with your teeth before eating the cookie wafer part by itself. I admit it might work with the deconstructed Oreo, if you’re so inclined.

cantineferriAnd, just ‘cause I can, another wine from Puglia that I had while there last year. 2008 Cantine Ferri Oblivio Nero di Troia #380600 $19.95 is a “deep somnabitch” or so my notes say. Just layer after layer of dark, herby, leathery stuff. A bit farm smelly for those that shy away from smelly wines – BTW, I love ‘em! If I was drinking this tonight, I’d open a bit early to gain some integration and then have with a Mediterranean veggie pizza (which I actually had last night, drat). Plus, remember, it would add uva di troia to your Century Wine List.

 

Recent Discovery:

DNmalbecWandering the aisles aimlessly the other day, attracting the attention of consultants, secret shoppers, and weird Buddy, I found what looked like a familiar friend – 2011 Nieto Senetiner Don Nicanor Malbec #178657 $18.95. I’m not sure why I thought that I’d had it in another movie. The name Don Nicanor just sounded familiar, is all. Sometime when I recommend Malbec, people give me feedback that it’s a bit too heavy for them. Maybe it’s the modern fruit forward style we usually find. Maybe it’s the high alcohol content which seems to accompany Malbec. Well, this one has a lighter profile despite ABV of 14.5% which is pretty high for me. In the mouth, it has ever present acidity, solid dark fruit, and a nice smoky finish. I was pleasantly surprised after being disappointed that Don Nicanor and I were not old friends. Drink this with some hearty fare. As I take another sip, I have it – it’s an Old World Malbec! That’s it. If you like Cahors, you’ll recognize it in this wine. Vineyard character, a bit of dirt on the nose.

Wine that I’m going to pick up:

queylusThomas Bachelder makes some of the more interesting pinots that I’ve had recently. He is a pinotphile in the greatest sense – making Burgundy pinots, Oregon pinots (very highly recommended here), and Niagara pinots under his eponymous label. He also makes pinots under the Queylus brand. I’ve never had these and am going to make sure I get a bottle of their 2011 Domaine QueylusTradition Pinot Noir #392738 $29.95. It’s reviewed well (Tony Aspler – 92) but more importantly, his style is what has impressed me. Now, we’ve all had and loved Meoimi pinot from Belle Glos and the Wagner family. But, our tastes have changed, haven’t they? Big, sugary, thick pinots don’t do it anymore, do they? Anyone out there? “Of course, they don’t Bill.” That’s better. I mean when Tony Aspler uses the terms “floral grace notes”, I’ve heard all I need to spring for this wine. Finding that $29.95 is a bit stiff? Well, if you’re like Ken, you just buy it and stash it for a special occasion.

Images courtesy of

http://www.vintages.com

Don Nicanor -www.nietosenetiner.com.ar

Strawberry Samba Duels Chianti – The Red Daily Slosh

3 Jun

My favourite Neil song in an abbreviated cut. Shout out to all my Neil Young fanatical friends, in particular, AL and DJ.

dievoleBefore we wade into the new release, I want to mention a wine that I had the other night that led to running back to the store for more – 2010 Dievole La Vendemmia Chianti Classico #283101 $19.95. This vintage has shown a bunch of winners in Chianti Classico, but I think that this might be the one that I’ll remember the most so far. Let’s ignore the notes with all the scents/tastes and get to the experience – have you ever been somewhere, a different culture and country and having just sipped a smidgeon of their local wine, thought to yourself, “This is really fill in the blank.” Well, not fill in the blank but wherever you are. This wine made me think of Italy on the first swallow. And, not so much country-side Italy but more sophisticated Italy, smooth Italy. That doesn’t sound just right as all Italy is sophisticated in its own way. But, I hope you get it anyway. I’m not sure you need food with this but it’s ripe and ready for some less heavy fare – perfect evening-patio red or wait-out-the-rain cottage red. Case purchase? Still lots out there.

Ramble Divertimento: Let’s talk about wine served at large functions, shall we? We were at an event this past Saturday evening and decided to purchase a bottle of red for our table. Perusing the wine list (they used the term ‘list’ shamefully as there were only three choices), they had really bad ($39), really bad and more expensive ($42), and really bad yet more expensive again ($44). Because I always know the second least expensive bottle of every wine list, we choose number 2. It has massive label recognition.  Well, how was it? As we say in Canada – “Brutal.” No, really brutal, eh. I subsequently checked out my local to find this wine resident in mass quantities. I asked a consultant how it sold and she told me that it was one of the biggest sellers in the store as far as red went. Loudhailer in hand – “People, you don’t have to drink this shit!” I have to ask myself why is it that people drink stuff like this:

  • Different strokes for different folks – not everyone gags on bad wine – some love it. Exhibit 1 – Girl’s Night Out “Strawberry Samba”. I’m not making this up. There is a wine called that. They even have a Darkberry Duet!
  • People haven’t tried other wines and think that all wine is this bad. Exhibit 1 – “Bill, I drink beer ‘cause wine doesn’t work for me.” Dude, this wine doesn’t work for anyone except those covered in bullet one. You didn’t like beer the first time out either unless you grew up where I did as most of us 13 year olds loved beer right out of the gate.

I can’t do much about the first bullet but I can try and encourage people to try different wines until they find their fav – and, if the fav remains an over-priced (even at $10) plonk – I can at least say that we’ve both tried. Wait, did I say $10 – so why were we paying $42? And, yes, of course we finished the bottle. I’ve already admitted that I have a slight problem. And, if memory serves me I didn’t do it all by myself.

Deep breath……..This week’s release (June 4th) concerns Aussie wines. Unfortunately, I haven’t had any of them in the vintage offered. But, I’ll mention one below that I’ve always loved in earlier vintages in case you’re looking for Aussie love.

leonMy comment above about the Italian wine ‘not’ bringing the country-side with it.? Well, the 2010 Salice Salentino Leone de Castris #597534 $19.95 brings the country-side from Puglia right to your dinner table. This smells, tastes, and warms you like Puglia. Lots of shrubby stuff, great acidity, spice and enough backbone to stand up to something tomatoey, meaty – sausage pizza? Gutsy yet seductive – like Lucy Liu. I love this stuff. Love Lucy as well, I must say. I had this wine overlooking a garden in Otranto. Sounds more romantic than it truly was – some road noise and smoke in the air from burn offs in the olive groves. But, I think that’s kind of what I’m saying about the wine – it’s genuine and representative – not presenting like a zillion other wines and not apologizing for it’s little imperfections.

laurasI haven’t been to Creekside Estate Winery near Jordan in a few years. It used to be one of my favourites – not sure why I’ve missed hitting it on my way around Niagara. Maybe it just shows how many great wineries are churning out stuff. I always appreciated the laid back vibe there. Anyway, this week, their 2010 Creekside Laura’s Red #117960 $19.95 hits the shelves of the mother ship. This is a solid mid-weight red blend. It tells me that there’s syrah/shiraz there somewhere due to a stripe of spice – particularly on the finish. Creekside is one of the few wineries in Ontario that attempts and succeeds with shiraz. This has cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec along with the shiraz. Fresh and juicy. Great stuff – a consistent performer that can do that performing as a stand around wine or with burgers and dogs.

BorsaoTresPicos_2Here we go with a threepeat recommendation – 2011 Garnacha Tres Picos #273748 $19.95. If you bought it before, you’ll want to get more. Here is my most recent post highlighting this wine. Great wine.

 

 

brecaAnd, since we are in to comparing wines here – I’m going to pick up the 2010 Garnarcha Vieilles Vignes Breca #329086 $19.95. This wine looks to be less fruit and more land. Sparser yet more powerful. Should be interesting.

 

 

 

 

Shiraz 2012 004And I did promise a sure-fire Aussie. If you’re looking to step out with some fatty meat (and, I’m not meaning your husband here, girls) on the barby, pick up a bottle of 2010 Haselgrove First Cut Shiraz #367425 $18.95. This wine is usually a full-bodied, wood nuanced shiraz. Smooth but still present tannins and a bit of a juicy end. Reviews of this are very positive.

Label Images:

Dievole, Leone de Castris – http://www.vintages.com

Breca – http://www.winesearcher.com

Haselgrove, Laura’s Red – http://www.haselgrove.com.au and http://www.creeksidewine.com respectively

 

What I Learned In Italy This Fall – Part 1

7 Oct

alberobello1We have just returned from a two week vacation in Italy – a bite of Roma, a big sip and swallow of Puglia, and a deep breath of the Amalfi Coast. It was just what the doctor ordered – minus the unavoidable wine which she, my doctor, would have discouraged. This trip held some interesting observations and lessons. I’ll share a few lessons learned this time and then sow some others into future posts. I’ll talk about the wines in a separate post.

  1. Who Needs Information and Documentation?

Seconds before we left the house for the transfer to the airport, I repacked my carry-on to make it lighter. In so doing, I took out all our travel documents and inadvertently forgot to put them back in: e-tickets for two flights; hotel reservation information (including directions, phone numbers) for four different hotels; photocopies of passports; car rental reservation and electronic confirmation; travel health insurance documentation; train timetables; a list of wineries with directions, phone numbers and their top wines as per Gambero Rosso; and, a lovely piece that I’d printed out on wine travel in Puglia. “What certain disaster would befall us?” I asked as I discovered too late that I’d made this booboo. What indeed? Almost nothing. Nada. Zilch. Everything went off without a hitch. I even remembered many of the wineries – ‘cause that’s just what wine geeks do – remember stuff like that. Next time, I won’t even bother to print that stuff – The Planet will, in fact, be saved.

  1. High School Translation Can Be Perilous

On one segment of our journey, we trained from Brindisi to Caserta and then on to Naples. At Caserta, the automated biglietto machines were down so we stood in line to purchase our tickets. While in line, we observed the train schedule on a large screen and saw that the train we wanted for Napoli Centrale had several comments scrolling after it. One little description was bothersome. It said “Via Cancello”. Now, I took Latin for five long years in high school (yes it only took me five years and I realize that Italian and Latin aren’t exactly the same – as W so eloquently stated, “Latin is spoken in Latin America”, for crying out loud) and I know that ‘Via’ in Latin means ‘Way’. So, Via Cancello could only mean that the ‘way’ was Cancello – Cancelled! What to do? Yup, it said – Via Cancello! We were meeting a transfer to our hotel at Napoli Centrale. Disaster was imminent or ‘imminente’. But, we blundered on and pretended that all was well. The ticket purchase went off without a hitch (4 Euros for both of us!), the train arrived, we got on, fingers crossed. and voila (which I realize is a French word ‘cause I’m Canadian and – you guessed it – took five years of high school French), we slowed down and stopped at the ‘Cancello’ train stop. Yes, Cancello is a friggin’ train stop, a village hard by Caserta – we were going by way of Cancello – Via Cancello. That was the last time I assumed that I understood any Italian. Well, maybe not the very last time.

  1. “Apparently, You’ve Confused Me With Someone Who Gives a S@*t What You Do”

I write a blog – a wine blog. If you Google me, you’ll get a connection to my blog. That’s the kind of power a sparingly read writer has. Many bloggers possess this lofty recognition factor. In my world, I’m famous. It’s a very small world of a few friends (6 and shrinking) and a weird guy from Iceland with an interesting Gravatar profile, but – they know me. So, what to expect when a wine writer arrives at a winery to visit? Red carpet? Well, we’re closed. Next one – well, its closed too. See above – I did have numbers, contacts to call ahead. Then we have a meal at a special restaurant in Puglia – I mention quite self-deprecatingly that I write stuff mostly about wine – I get a free prosecco stopper – now, we’re getting somewhere! Mostly though, explanations were given on wine that pre-supposed that I hadn’t done the hours of research that I’d actually done. That I wasn’t a wine geek. That I hadn’t heard of or had Aglianico or Piedirosso before, that I mistook Fiano di Avellino for Greco di Tufo (OK, I did that mistook but most people would, wouldn’t they?), or that I thought Primitivo di Manduria was an Italian take on a Richard Condon novel – ba-da-boom. Suffice it to say that I was an ordinary soul as far as anyone was concerned. Humble? Happy? Ordinary? That’s me always.

I Say Tomato – You Say Pomodoro

15 Sep

tomato guyWe’re just starting to organize our things for our trip to Roma, Apulia, and Campania leaving next Friday. I know, you’re asking me, “Just starting?” Getting some Euros, travel insurance, ironing, packing, “Honey, where’s my passport?”, and all the other fun stuff. I was thinking about what I was looking forward to and the first thing that came to mind was……… wine? No………Food? Well kind of. I’m looking forward to tomatoes. I love tomatoes! If the doctor told me I had to stay away from tomatoes or I‘d develop poor writing skills, a disorganized mind, a tendency to procrastinate, and a falsely earned sense of vanity, I’m afraid I just couldn’t. Besides I already have those things.

Why tomatoes? Well, in the town where I was a young teen, all the guys worked on farms to earn money required to buy:

  1. The newest Allman Brothers’ Band LP;
  2. Jade East cologne; and
  3. Beer from a bootlegger – usually Labatt’s 50. Some men nodding out there.

I had picked strawberries, cucumbers, cherries, hung and stripped tobacco, planted corn, and disked fields. But, the best summer assignment I had was hoeing and then loading tomatoes for Rocky VanGassen (real name used because you’ll assume it’s fabricated). Rocky grew tomatoes for Campbell Soups and they used them in V8 juice – a beverage that my father loved and I hated. Now, you hoe tomatoes just as the fruit is developing. At that time, there aren’t many really ripe tomatoes but every once in awhile you see one. I worked with an older gentleman who had been farming for years and hoeing his life away in the sun sans sunscreen. Grizzled, lean, and an accent that I never really picked up. Do you see him now? Bob Dylan meets a chain smoking Jimmy Stewart. Actually back then we wore sun tan lotion that encouraged a burn and nascent lesions. Anyway, I digress.

One day as we walked together down a row and hoed our little brains out, he stopped and turned the plant over to reveal a very ripe tomato. He bent down and twisted the tomato off the plant, rubbed it on his pant leg to clean the dirt off, and produced from his overalls pocket a salt shaker. I got the feeling that he’d done this before. When he noticed my puzzled look, he asked, “Didn’t you bring a salt shaker?” I said, “Pardon?” Remember he had an accent. He proceeded to bite into the tomato, a stream of juice dripping on the ground. Then he took the shaker and poured some salt on the open bite mark and then ate the rest of the tomato, alternating bites, dribbling and the application of what we would now say is too freakin’ much salt.

Now, if you’ve ever had a field fresh tomato in the hot sun with some salt (and apparently the sea didn’t have salt back then because ours came from a guy called Morton), you know what perfection is. I got home that night and asked my mother for a salt shaker for the rest of my hoeing days. I then ate enough tomatoes each day to produce a mild case of the hives. But, I can’t think of a more healthy experience or a better way to understand what food really is, where it comes from, and why we need to pay attention to it. A single tomato, properly produced, picked at the right moment and served simply might be my favourite food. No; not maybe. It is my favourite food. Period.

So, what does this lovely nostalgic story have to do with my considering the upcoming trip to Italy? Well, when we traveled to the south of France on two occasions and Greece on another couple, I just couldn’t get enough of the fresh produce and my friends the tomatoes, in particular. So, when I researched Apulia, I saw that it is the bread basket of Italy as far as produce goes. Bingo – tomatoes! Channeling Dr. Zeus, I will have them by themselves. I will have them with orecchiete and oil. I‘ll have them with burrata and herbs. I will get hives!

So, before it’s too late in the season get thee to an Ontario (or Michigan, or Pennsylvania or wherever you are) farmstand, get a basket of tomatoes, a salt shaker, some backyard sun, and my second favourite thing about Italy – a glass of fresh Chianti, Verdicchio, or Aglianico. Or, substitute a profoundly Canadian cocktail – a Caesar!

And, BTW, I got hooked on V8 juice too. Though, since it’s essentially a salt lick, I’m not sure it was the tomato content. Probably Morton again.

tomatofield

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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