Tag Archives: Riesling

Summer’s End? The Rainbow Daily Slosh

21 Aug

gbroseI was on a bit of a promotion tour for rosés a while back and penned this post. Oh, it wasn’t a real tour, it just felt like all I was drinking was pink liquid sunshine. As I wound down the fascination (Confession: I really haven’t actually wound it down as witnessed by my Famille Perrin Tavel last night), I picked up a bottle from one of my favourite producers in the south of France – Gérard Bertrand. And, what do I see in this week’s release? La meme chose. The 2014 Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses Rosé #373985 $18.95 somehow allows you to smell the dusty, scrubby landscape of the Languedoc along with some strawberries right from the sniff – Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah. It’s a solid rosé. I’m not saying it isn’t fun but I’d suggest that you eat something with this to fully appreciate it. Something fresh and chewy. And, it doesn’t need the hot afternoon sun to strut its stuff. It has the heft of a Tavel. I’m buying a couple for the winter. Very cool bottle with a glass closure for good measure.

laclapeOK, before you say it, I do have a man crush on Gerard B. There is a series from the Languedoc that I like a lot – The Grand Terroir Series. Produced by Gérard Bertrand, the former French rugby star. This week, the 2011 Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir la Clape Syrah/Carignan/Mourvèdre #370262 $18.95 arrives. This is pure Languedoc for me. Full-bodied, rich and somewhat savage. Or should I say, sauvage? Spicy with some herbal things happening on the finish. Great red meat wine. I’d save a bunch for the winter stew season. A good value wine.

reichsratI spent a lovely evening with Oliver, The Wine Getter, last week and he popped and poured a few German Rieslings from the Mosel. When I returned home, I wanted to pick up some of the same. What did I find but a wine that is hitting the shelves this week? 2012 Reichsrat Von Buhl Armand Riesling Kabinett #060905 $18.95 It’s not from the Mosel but from Pfalz. What I’d read about Pfalz was limited but it implied that many of their wines had less minerality and more punch than some other German regions. Couldn’t tell you if that’s true generally but this wine seemed to fit that description. Acidity rather muted but a long finish of citrus fruit, suggestions of a warm region. I’m not sure that this would cellar for long but right now it’s a medium sweet introduction to Pfalz for me. Liked it a lot with emapanadas. What? Of course German empanadas.

balbasAs well as rosés, I’ve been pounding……er……sipping Spanish wines. I’m heading to Spain in September for 2 and half weeks and tried to fit in Ribera del Duero. But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned – it’s better to do less well than to do it all poorly. So, next time for RdD. One of my favourite wines from there is the Balbas Reserva #085183 $20.95. This week it’s the 2005 but I’ve loved almost every vintage since ’01. If you love expressive, leathery, sandalwoody Tempranillo, you’ll love this wine. It’s already showing its stuff but could cellar for another decade. Just think about sharing that 2005 vintage in 2025. Sitting at the foot of my bed in the old folks home, my teeth in a bedside glass, paired with pureed pork, instant mashed, and canned fruit cocktail. Yum.

I like Sancerre.
Blogger Aside: You ever notice how wines from Europe seldom tell you what kind of grapes are in them. When in North America, the name of the varietal is almost always on the label front and centre. I like the cryptic quality of those Euro labels as do many oenophiles. It’s neat to have a label that you need WSET Level 3 to understand. It separates the ‘real’ wine drinkers from the wannabes. Kidding. Actually, the reason I like it is that it’s more specific. The DO, DOCG, and AOC in the case of French wines, prescribe fairly strict rules about what grapes can be used where and even many of the agricultural and cellar techniques allowed.

attitudeWhere was I going? Oh yeah, I quite like Sancerre. Outside of white Burgundy, it strikes me as the most sophisticated white wine. Now, don’t everyone send in their choice for the most sophisticated white wine. Save it for your own blog. Sancerre is from the Loire Valley and is made with Sauvignon Blanc – although not mentioned on the label. And, the ‘go to’ Sancerre for me is Jolivet’s – readily available and reasonably priced. This week, there’s one of his less typical Sauvignon Blancs – the 2014 Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauvignon Blanc #971887 $19.95 is not strictly a Sancerre although from the Loire. And, I’m not sure that you could mistake it for one. It’s brasher with a Jimmy Durante nose – large and expressive. As youthful as this is, you might think that those smells aren’t evident in the mouth. You’d be wrong. They are all over your mouth – gooseberries, grapefruit. This is not for you if you prefer the more subdued Sancerre approach. Do I like it? Love it! Take this to a party where New Zealand whites are a fave and I bet people pause with this in the glass; not quite sure what it is. Could it be Kiwi? Probably not – a soupçon de je ne c’est pas? Try this and let me know what you think.

ornelloI mentioned above my trip to Ann Arbor and The Winegetter. I brought them a couple of reds. I later discovered that Oliver’s weakness in reds is Sangiovese. I had brought him much heavier wines. Great heavier wines – but still not the same style at all. If I had paid attention to his writings a bit more, I would have brought him something akin to the 2010 Rocco di Frassinello Ornello #412601 $37.95. This is a sweet red – as in suweeeet!. It’s a bit riper than many traditional Sangiovese wines, I find out it is made with Sangioveto (40%), Cab Sav (20%), Merlot (20%), and Syrah (20%). OK, before you run to whatever reference source you use in your little wine world, Sangioveto is obfiscation-speak for Sangiovese. I know this because it says so on the internet. A truly lovely smooth, lipsmacking red. All elements tied together until the finish when the acidity that I, for one, love provides a little extra kick. I’m positive that Oliver would love it too.

Cheers!

Dusty and The White Daily Slosh

16 Apr

Born on this day in music history. 1939 –  Dusty Springfield. Outspoken, courageous, and a damn fine singer.

What to drink on the first patio of the Spring?

If it’s red wine you crave, see my recommendations for reds in the April 18th release here.

If it’s whites, I’m going to suggest two options: fresh, crisp and light – think oysters, tapas, potato chips; and full-bodied and creamy – think chicken, buttered popcorn. But all these you can drink on their own, as well.

hugelWhen I drink whites in warmer seasons, I try to pick something that has a bit of edge to it. So, from the mainstream, that means Muscadet, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling to me. From the lesser available whites, that means Gavi, Assyrtiko, Albarinho and others. The edge just seems to make lyrical sense in warm weather – plays off the food that we tend to nibble on – it refreshes. This week, there’s a favourite Alsatian pair from Hugel & Fils (members of the Primum Familia Vini). 2012 Hugel Riesling #042101 $24.95 is a cool, lean customer. Just an aside: when Harry Potter was the rage, they had these JellyBelly candies that tasted like awful stuff. I can’t remember the names of them. Did you ever eat those? And, when you thought that the jelly bean actually tasted like grass, ear wax, etc., you had to wonder how you knew what that tasted like in the first place. I mean, you haven’t ever eaten an earth worm, have you? My theory? It tastes like it smells and we’ve all smelled ear wax (old Uncle Stan), grass, dirt, earthworm. Smell drives our taste. I say this why? Because this wine has a distinct stony taste, particularly on the finish. How would I know what stones taste like aside from the fact that as a small boy I put stones in my mouth? Stones, granite, slate have a very distinct smell and that explodes and changes when they are wet after a warm rain. I love that smell. Well, this wine is mostly citrus on the nose but in the mouth and on the lip smacking finish, it says stones and maybe peaches. But, it’s the stoniness that I like the most. This is a pretty classic take on Alsatian Riesling in my limited experience. Like über dry Riesling? This is for you.

gentilHugel also brings another crispy white to the party this week. The 2013 Hugel Gentil #367284 $15.95 is a blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer, Sylvaner, and Pinot Blanc. Hell, you’re partway to the Wine Century Club just drinking this one wine! Now, confession: I haven’t had this vintage of the wine. I’m going on past performance (’10, ’11, ’12) and the reviews for the 2013. But, if you’re wanting an extra dry white with a floral lift, a little more fruit in the front, and a crisp finish, this is a great white for you. I like it mostly as a sipper – reception type of wine. Pre-big boy wine. Interesting phenomenon – I’m told that a lot of folks like to start the evening with one glass of a light white like SB, Riesling, or unoaked Chardonnay before they dig into big reds. They don’t really like whites but nonetheless, it’s a process that’s de rigeur. Anyway, the Gentil has always been one of the ‘go to’ whites for sipping in the warmth of the sun. If you’ve never had an Alsatian blend like this, pick this one up and let me know what you think. A wine geek observation – I love the Hugel labels – classic.

chardsmNow for the full-bodied, creamy stuff. Nothing screams creamy like an oaked Chardonnay. The under $20 Chardonnay that I love (OK, The Director loves) is 2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay #232439 $19.95. This is just such a consistent label. Year after year it brings about the perfect weight of oak and butter for me. What I call a Goldilocks Wine – just right. Being a little less oaked, it avoids tropical and inserts citrus and the typical apple flavours instead. Medium, slightly creamy finish. Great food wine – BBQ chicken if it isn’t too spicy. Or, just pop a cork (or two) of this as you sit on the deck with friends (imaginary ones are great listeners, I find).

Cheers.

Bill

Remember: If you want to check availability at the mother ship, click on the wine’s link (stock number and price) and check your town/city in the drop down menu. Easy.

Three Rieslings – The White Daily Slosh(es)

18 Mar

This day in music history – 1972 – Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” hit number one on the US singles chart. His only solo recording to make a top 20 slot.

Just a few quick white wine recos for the March 21st release.

I’m a member of a fantasy baseball league and part of the fun is sending smack emails to other team owners. It usually takes the form of taunting someone about losing their star to season ending surgery – cheering someone tearing their ACL seems wrong but it feels pretty good when it’s not your guy. Last week as we struggled to find a date for our draft, a fellow owner stated that he was quaffing a Riesling at that very moment. I’m not sure what exactly I said but it was clearly interpreted as being disparaging about Riesling. That’s not what I meant. I love Riesling. Editors Note: He knew exactly what he said – something about some sommeliers and their lazy recommendation of Riesling.

This release there are three local Rieslings that bear a look see. I had all three at the cellar door and that usually means that my notes aren’t quite as expansive – more experiential, less intellectual.

frcnvThe 2013 Flat Rock Cellars Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling #578625 $19.95 has pretty well been recommended here for each of the past three vintages and I usually make some reference to the surrealist Andre Breton but it is lost on my audience. The Nadja style is one of bone dry, taut minerality and high acidity. This year is no exception. Lip smacking and good now with food that has some pop or later after the fruit (apples, pears) is allowed to open out and show itself – requires some time in the cellar, perhaps. In fact, this label usually does quite well with a few years at least. My ‘go to’ Niagara Riesling. You can read about my visit to Flat Rock Cellars here.

vinelandelevatioSpeaking of time in the cellar, the 2012 Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling #038117 $19.95 is a definite cellar candidate. I opened a 2008 Elevation Riesling last year and it was just beginning to come into focus. Still crisp but starting to fatten up a bit. The 2012 seems to have even a better chance of improving over time. This label has some sugar – classified as ‘medium’ in sweetness – but I appreciate that it has enough spine to not come off as sweet or cloying. I’m big on this wine but let me quote Michael Godel at www.winealign.com “To purchase in increments of less than a case may be considered a crime against Riesling.” That’s pretty convincing. So I throw down to my fantasy baseball Riesling friend, “Michael, you had better get some of this, cellar it, and when I win in 2020, give me a bottle”.

13rieslingThe last Riesling brings a return to these pages of 13th Street. I featured one of their reds here. The 2013 13th Street June’s Vineyard Riesling #147512 $19.95 is the first Riesling that I’ve sipped from this winery. This is another dry one that has a definitely heavier feel to it than the Nadja’s. Not heavy – sweet, but heavy as in mouthfeel – fruit, chewiness? Anyway, an interesting wine and one that is pretty great now but will even be better over time. I had thought that, in Niagara, the kero that Riesling can develop over time was most likely found in wines up around Flat Rock Cellars and Sue Ann Staff but this one from a different appellation (Creek Shores) will, I bet, develop some of that yummy petrol over time. Just think the weight indicates that’s the way it will go.

Interesting observation: all three recommendations are single vineyard wines. It’s nice to see Niagara develop individual vineyard personalities and have the courage to make them. I’ve just realized that the best of all three of these will be experienced down the road a while. But, surely there’s something else you can drink while you wait for these three to reach their peak. They’ll be worth the wait. And, I need suggestions for wine for my fantasy baseball draft. I’ve pretty well stayed in Italy or Spain the past few years and haven’t won. So, it may be time to shake it up. Anyone?

 

Tapas Dance and the Daily Sloshes

23 Jan

After my reference to Spanish quality wines last time out, I see that this week’s release (January 24) just so happens to feature Spanish wines. A coincidence? I think not. The problem for me? Of the wines that appear that I’ve tasted, I can’t recommend them. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some possibly very good wines out there just that I haven’t had them yet. Nice problem to have – wines that I just have to taste. But it does leave me in a quandary: what to talk about this week. Well, let’s start with some Spanish wines that I’ve had recently that are available (but not as part of this release) and maybe a few wines that I’m looking forward to trying?

As I mentioned last time, we are travelling to Spain this year and in doing research, I’ve tasted a bunch of Spanish wines. We had a planning session this past weekend. Over tapas we debated the value of just hangin’ in Spain without all the checklist sight seeing. And, we were convinced that my friend and I should go over early to see some wineries in Priorat, Montsant, and Penedes before our wives joined us. I wonder who came up with that idea? A wine was brought for consumption that I hadn’t had in the past. Remember the Viña Real Crianza that I recommended? Go ahead and nod. It will confirm that you actually read this stuff. I’m touched. It’s very affirming. We had the Reserva from the same place – 2009 Viña Real Oro Reserva #94846 $29.95. This was a vinaoropowerful, ruby red wine with what I interpret as evidence of newer oak being used. Pronounced nose of cedar, brush, red fruit (plums raspberries), jamminess and tastes of spice, toastiness, and raspberries – moderate to long finish. Balanced and leaving us wishing there was another bottle. This was a special wine for us to have with the tapas that yours truly expertly crafted. When I reflect back on my notes for the crianza, which was a 2010, I penned thoughts like, “very tasty but maybe needs a little more time to develop”, and “ well balanced, smooth, and yet not overpowering”. This reserva, on the other hand, is ready to pop and pour now but would still develop for another 10 years I bet. And, there’s nothing shy about it now. A virtual Tower of Power. Highly recommend! In fact, if you’ve said to yourself, “Not sure that I could tell the difference between fill in the name of your favourite plonk and a more expensive wine”, you need to pick this up. You’ll never say that again (I hope).

monopoleWe started the evening with a white Rioja 2013 Monopole #66951 $16.95. Why didn’t I start with this part of the story – at the start? Not sure. This was an interesting “guess the grape” exercise because we really haven’t had much of the Viura grape before. Served with manchego cheese topped with guava paste and dates stuffed with chorizo and wrapped with crispy bacon. Seriously. The wine smelled of Gewurtztraminer a bit – floral. Medium bodied and carrying the citrusness of Sauvignion Blanc. If it was the a second wine of the night it could have passed for SB actually. Yet, it was a bit rounder. A very nice wine. If you haven’t taken a swing at Viura, I’d say pick it up and enjoy like you would any other young, flavourful, dry white wine. Don’t over think it. Just chill and twist the cap.

The ‘other red bottle’ was a 1985 Coto de Imaz Gran Reserva that I’d had below for a few years. It’s not every day that I get to drink a wine this old (29 years for those without their phone calculator handy) and I IMG_0698was worried that it might be (Sophisticated Wine Term Alert!) ‘pooched’. Those unfamiliar with that descriptive term clearly haven’t passed their WSET Level 9! My basement outer wall is consistently dark, cool, and until they started infilling next door, still and quiet. My beauties rest and develop a real personality in most cases. But, there is always a chance that the pop is followed by a moan – something hasn’t kept well. That’s the risk and shit happens. This particular wine comes from a winery that I stock up with every year. It’s a good value Rioja usually around $20 for the Reserva. And, it’s fun comparing vintages. Really? Yes, wine geeks are weird. This 1985 looked just as expected in the glass – showing some browning on the edges and lighter than a young Rioja – throwing a bit of sediment swirling in the glass. It had a medium nose – think Sandra Bullock – of some kero and raisins. However on first sip, it was apparent – the power was gone. It tasted of dried fruits and some woodiness – not unlikeable – just faint. I wasn’t disappointed actually. It was a good experience for someone that doesn’t get to drink many truly older wines to see how things can develop. This was about 3.265 years too late but, hey, still consumable – which of course we did.

In an effort to taste as many wines as I can. Wait, that doesn’t sound very healthy. Let’s try this – In an effort to have as many wines to talk about as I can – much better – I buy and taste a bunch of wines that I’m hoping either stay in stock long enough or return later in the year so that I can talk about them. In this spirit, I picked up a bottle of the 2013 Rio Madre #354753 $14.95. It was nicely featured at an aisle end with a shelf talker proclaiming a high score (90) from an ‘expert’. It called my name. Yes, I’m influenced by the same marketing bullshit as everyone else, I’m afraid. But, in my defence, this wine was made with 100% Graciano, not Rocky but a grape that’s used as a blender in many Rioja wines (added to my Wine Century Club list). Let’s try it. Not sure about you but a synthetic cork just screams, “Mistake!” to me. I love the screw top ‘Stelvin’ closures but the fake corks just seem lazy and unnatural. My notes on this wine? “Meh”. It is an actual category on the Duffswines Cheatsheet. I wasn’t feeling the love that the expert reviewer did. The wine reminded me of a Garnacha in mouthfeel – low acid, lowish tannins. And, I like Garnarcha but this didn’t do it for me. Very floral in nose and on the finish which was short. Maybe it was the expectation not being met that put a negative on the wine. The good news? I have another down below that I will try much later and report back to the group.

Daily Slosh wines in this week’s release that I haven’t had but am going to pick up are:

2011 Casa Castillo El Molar #397190 $17.95 first I’ve never had a wine named after a famous Spanish soldier known for his extra strong teeth – he was (trumpets, please) EL MOLAR! Seriously, Jumilla wines are usually interesting and tasty. Plus, this winery’s entry level red wine 2013 Casa Castillo Monastrell #165621 $14.95 is a beaut and a true QPR red staple.

featherstone2013 Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling #080234 $16.95 I am always searching for a wine for my mother-in-law. She likes them off-dry (well, sweet) but I resist the sweet because, after everyone has gone home and The Director has retired, I end up finishing the bottle. I love off-dry Riesling. High praise for Featherstone lately and this wine should be no exception.

Splurge white – 2012 Bachelder Bourgogne Chardonnay #272005 $35.95 Thomas Backhelder makes wine in Burgundy, Ontario, Oregon and maybe elsewhere as well. His specialties are the Burgundian grapes – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. I’ve enjoyed those made under his eponymous label and earlier efforts (Le Clos Jordanne).

Splurge red – 2012 Stoller Pinot Noir #401539 $31.95 an Oregon Pinot Noir is always a bit of a sucker pin placement for me. I have to go for it and take the chance that it’s consistent with my past experiences – complexity, power yet restraint, ageability, and some earthiness. It doesn’t always work out (like shooting for the pin) but this comes highly recommended by a fellow oenophile. Too expensive, you say? It’s cheaper than a dozen golf balls.

Have a great weekend!

Bill

Holiday Advice – Fini

22 Dec

I want to change gears for a bit. Maybe, like me, you struggle to find meaning in the beliefs, rites and traditions that are on full display at this time of year. What is their origin? What is their meaning? This short clip helps me better understand. I hope it helps you too.

This is the third and last of three posts offering some recommendations for wines a little out of the ‘daily’ range.

You can read the first installment (Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc) here; the second installment (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay) here.

When I wrote the first post, I had the brilliant idea to do three posts based on specific varietals and I began without truly scoping out the series. The problem is that there are too many types of wines to capture in the third installment. I can either turn the trilogy into a Diana Gabaldon style series (Outlandish Wines?) or I could just fill this last post with some good ideas that I haven’t mentioned yet. I’m lazy and the latter sounds best.

badiaChianti? Yes, please. What Italian red is the friendliest wine from the boot? Well, some may say Pinot Grigio but they’d be wrong. It’s Chianti. And, we are lucky that there are a few great vintages on the shelves right now. One wine that would impress your friends and family is 2009 Antinori Badia a Passagnano Chianti Classico Riserva #384552 $44.95. I enjoyed a bottle of Chianti with a friend this month and all we could talk about were the cherries that we could smell and taste. I know, it’s kinda weird. It was a fruit cake-with-cherries red wine – not sweet like fruit cake but the red fruits and yeastiness. Cherries are the predominant fruit in the Badia as well. Classic Sangiovese. More serious than your father’s Chianti – some heft – full-bodied. People I know make turkey chilli with leftovers. This is a perfect wine if the chili isn’t too spicy. Let it decant for a bit. FYI, wine-searcher.com has it at $69 a bottle in US.

If you picked up my recommendation of 2008 Ondarre Reserva #723452 $18.95, you’ll say that you that don’t have to sell the farm to taste great Tempranillo. It is indeed tasty (I bought a bunch – and am looking to buy a bunch more). But, this is a post about splurging a bit. So, why not pick up the 1998 Vega-Sicilia Único #230284 $829.00? Why murrietanot? It’s $829.00, that’s why not. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. If not the Unico, then maybe the 2008 Marqués de Murrieta Finca Ygay Reserva #209148 $27.95? This is ready to drink now, medium-to-full-bodied and quite round in the mouth for a Rioja, softer. Great dark fruits. A beautiful sipper, a second glass wine getting better as you go. This too with the turkey chilli.

Ontario Niagara Riesling is making its mark with a good vintage in 2011, in particular for Cave Spring. I tasted the 2011 Cave Spring cavespringCSV Riesling #566026 $29.95 at the beautiful tasting room adjacent to On The Twenty restaurant. Have I told you just how good the food is there? This is a medium Riesling but it doesn’t finish as sweetly as that would suggest. It’s full of peaches – there’s citrus too that may be the counter agent to the residual sugar. Or, it may be the acidity. There’s some lip smacking on the finish. From old enough vines to provide a hint that petrol will emerge. Beautiful and age-worthy.

It’s hard to splurge on rosé and yet it is a great wine for celebration and a turkey dinner. Especially if it has some depth, for me, that means Tavel would be good as well as some local pinks. Tavels:

2013 Delas Frères La Comballe Tavel Rosé #374884 $21.95

2013 Domaine des Caribinieres Lunar Apogé Tavel Rosé #375626 $19.95 see my earlier review here.

Ontario rosés:

2013 Flat Rock Pinot Noir Rosé #39974 $16.95

2013 13th Street Pink Palette Rosé #275834 $15.95

Both of these pinks carry a bit more sweetness, while still remaining in the ‘dry’ category, in their profile than the Tavels which are bone dry.

taylorThis week (or maybe last week now) the #NWTW (New Wine This Week) was Port. Port is a great sipper to have around for the holidays and maybe the only time that I drink it. It is lovely to sit and sip a glass of Port while recounting the story of The Baby In The Manger while young children in appropriate costumes for their part in the story sit somewhat bewilderingly at Uncle Bill’s feet (sorry, couldn’t resist a totally inside family joke). Port is good any time but best after dinner. Read this post by Please Bring Me My Wine about pairing Port. My faves:

Taylor Fladgate 10 Year-Old Tawny Port #121749 $34.95 (always in my cupboard)

1995 Dalva Colheita Port #69930 $32.95 this is a nutty, spicy treat.

I have something to share with the group, “I don’t drink Champagne very often.” There, I said it and now I can deal with it. It may not work – naming the problem out loud, that is. It didn’t work very often with my re-offending parolees. Then again, getting off crack might be a little harder than popping the cork on a few more bottles of Champagne. All this to say that I hesitate to recommend a bubbly splurge. My advice is to spring for Champagne or at least a Cremant de Bourgogne – there really is a difference between Boone’s Farms Sparkling Shotgun and Veuve Cliquot. Or, Prosecco and Mumm’s. Then again, if you’re making Mimosas, as we do, Cava such as Segura Viudas will do. On dealing with my specific problem? I’m going to work hard at it over the holidays (I have a personal plan, prescriptive action items, and measurable goals) and, Doc, I’ll report back next appointment.

castellaniOh yeah, this started back in Part 1, with a request for an Amarone recommendation from our Concierge Service. What did I recommend? 2009 Michele Castellani Cinque Stelle Amaraone Della Valpolicella Classico #75127 $57.95. I have had earlier vintages of this wine but not the ’09. Typically, the style is large with many dimensions – quite dark and dried in the fruit department – scents of leather and compost. A very special wine with which to end the meal (and post).

Remember: Wine is groceries; not a luxury (thanks to Richard Betts for that perfect phrase)

Cheers!

Bill

 

(Not Really) Previously Unexplored Wineries – Flat Rock Cellars

31 Oct

flatrocktm

First thing I’m going to do? Change the title of this series from “Previously Unexplored Wineries” to “Sometimes Previously Unexplored and Sometimes Regularly Explored Wineries”? “Wineries ‘n More”? Not quite? “Wineries-o-Rama”? I know, it needs work. I’ll get my crack marketing team to blue sky it, socialize the concept, and prepare a few story boards for our consideration.

The reason I need to change the name of the series is that today I’m going to talk about a winery that I have visited and ‘explored’ on several occasions – Flat Rock Cellars.

Flat Rock Cellars was started in 1999. However, the owning/managing family Mandronich have been involved in viticulture for quite a bit longer. Flat Rock’s vibe is eco-sensitive, fun, small-batchy, quirky. They are clearly tied to the land – their spot on the bench – and take care to ….take care. Although they don’t have biodynamic or organic certification, you can relax. They employ a low-impact approach to their business, from geo-thermal heating to gravity-flow processing. They have Estate, Reserve, and single vineyard wines. Although there’s a gewurtztraminer line and the syrah below, Flat Rock is primarily pinot noir, chardonnay, and riesling – grapes that do well in cool climes. So, if you’re first and foremost a Bordeaux varietal guy or gal, take a pass. Flat Rock came to my attention and stayed there, in part, due to my love for Nadja. We’ll talk about her later.

frc

The Perch

On an early fall day, we arrived somewhat sated after a lunch at On The Twenty (scallops, for me) in Jordan Village. If you’ve never, you need to…..dine at On the Twenty, that is. It’s a special treat. But, Flat Rock beckoned and we answered the call. Well, answered the call after we (we as in – not me) shopped a bit in Jordan. Flat Rock’s reception building (pictured above) is a hexagonal perch on the side of the escarpment looking out over the valley below and on to Lake Ontario and, as their website points out, a vista extending to the bright lights of Toronto on a clear evening. It really is a great place to sit and sip. I’ve been there several times and it was always quite busy. This time we lucked out as there were only we two until some interlopers arrived. Ted greeted us and we immediately found out that we knew some of the same people in #lndnont. You see Ted lived in London and used to be in the entertainment business – the technical side. Those that grew up watching Polka Dot Door will be excited to learn that Ted toured with the Polka Dot Door touring company; working as part of the legendary Jones’ crew. I’m betting a solid member of IATSE. For those from regions that don’t get TVOntario (most of the world), Polka Dot Door was a children’s staple when I was plugging my boys into television to educate them (read: babysit). Star of the show? Polk-a-Roo – an actor dressed up as an unrecognizable animal who could only say, “Polk-a-Roo, Polk-a-Roo.” I know, I can’t figure out how it stayed on the air either. Anyway, Ted was our very capable guide through the wines of Flat Rock. The tasting room is a large, very open room with glass on all sides. It has a bit of an industrial feel – wood and steel – open displays of their wines. So, if you just want to walk around and discover on your own, it’s easy. After we got the, “Oh yeah, we know him too.” And, “London still sleepy?” out of the way, we waded into the wines.

The wines:

If you’ve been reading me for a while or received my emails before I went high tech with a website, I’m Breton you’ll remember that I’ve recommended Nadja before. Did you catch the erudite literary reference? No? Too nadjasurreal for you? Hmm, that didn’t catch either? Nadja is the name of the vineyard that’s immediately south and slightly above the reception building at Flat Rock. It is planted to riesling, I think exclusively. Every year, the Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling seems to get a bit better – vine age? We tasted the 2012 Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling #578625 #19.95 (availability extremely limited – 2013 now available through winery). These wines are always dry, clean, and seamless. This vintage brought some peaches with the usual citrus. Not so much on the nose but in the mouth and on the swallow – battling a good dose of juicy acidity. A lovely wine and maybe the best vintage of this I’ve had. Although it could just be that it’s the last vintage that I’ve tasted. My bet is that it’s gracefully cellarable for ten years.

We know that The Director loves her oaked chardonnay and Flat Rock makes a few iterations. The 2010 Chardonnay #681247 $16.95 was the oaked chardonnay that they were pushing. I mean Ted was pushing – to demonstrate their judicious use of oak. This is the same wine as their Good Karma Chardonnay (with Good Karma, Flat Rock donates a portion of proceeds to the Ontario Association of Food Banks). Well, the wine had typical chardonnay aromas of apples, some citrus. The buttery apple pie tendency with oaked chardonnays was cut a bit on the finish with some bite. Well balanced effort for this price – not overly ripe or buttery. I’d say this is a bargain for those that like an oaked chardonnay but want it food friendly as well. And the bonus? It’s a ‘local’.

 

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View from the reception building balcony

Flat Rock has a rusty shed on their property. So rather than seeing it as an eye sore or actually fixing it up, they decided to name a line after it. That’s what I need to do with my garage. Create a trademark with it. Then I wouldn’t have to clean it. I’m thinking ‘Duffswines Cluttered Garage Pages’? Anyway, as far as I can tell, this is the premium line for Flat Rock chardonnay. The 2011 Rusty Shed Chardonnay $20.25 (this vintage not available at the LCBO but the 2012 #1552 is in very limited supplies) is a more sophisticated take on oaked Niagara chardonnay. Not that the one above is clumsy (the 2010 entry level one above was the one we bought a few of, actually). It’s just that this seems a little more integrated and settled – minerality more evident too. Oak treatment subtle and complementary – not showing off on its own. If you’re oak more front and centre – select the regular bottling. More subtle and integrated oak – this is the chardonnay you’ll want.

Rogue_LogoMy familiarity with Flat Rock starts with Nadja and ends with pinot noir. However, they had a syrah that I hadn’t ever had and I just needed a tiny sip to realize that syrah doesn’t need to be shiraz in Ontario. The 2011 Rogue Syrah $35.20 (only available at cellar door or on-line) leans much closer to Saint Joseph than Barossa. If you like the latter, you’ll miss that shiraz jammy fruit with this syrah. This is leaner. It carries some herby stuff and darkness on the nose and was quite closed in the mouth. Tannins evident. Now, I’m not sounding too positive but quite the contrary, I liked this a lot. It seems to need some time in bottle or with a decant, I’m thinking that the dark fruit and herbs (coffee?) that made their presence felt on the nose will start to emerge. Distinct european feel. A powerful wine. My preference would be for this to sit for a while longer. Matching to an herbed pork roast, is what I’m planning.

frpinotFlat Rock Pinot Noir is available at the LCBO as part of their Vintages Essentials program. It’s always around waiting on any occasion to twist a cap. Oh yeah, all Flat Rock still wines are sealed with Stelvin screw tops. The vintage we tried was the 2012 Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir #1545 $19.95. This cherry red wine smelled of red fruits, tasted like red cherries and carried some grip and a little spice on the finish. This puts in a regular appearance in our house and cottage as a sipper or with some pinot-matching food – chicken, fish, hummus, Kernels (that mix of cheese and caramel, in particular). It’s an accessible pinot at a fair price. Interestingly, I saw a bottle of this very wine in the Bottles store in Providence, R.I. last January. Nice to see some Ontario wines getting out and about.

Flat Rock has several pinot noirs from specific blocks within vineyards – Pond Block, Summit Block, Bruce Block. I tried the 2011 Flat Rock Bruce Block Pinot Noir $29.95. If I had a sophisticated palate, I’d wax eloquently about the subtleties of terroir and how each wine is impacted. Although that isn’t likely to happen, I’d swear that this one has been crafted with Clone 115 – evident in the darker colour. OK, I read that on-line. This wine was not ready-for-primetime yet IMHO. Great red fruit on the nose with some earthy notes – pushed with some coolness out of the glass. Coolness, as in – no heat from elevated alcohol. This wine has ABV of only 12.3%, which is a nice change from some other North American pinots that push 14%. But much of that aroma didn’t replay in the mouth. It had gentle but substantial tannins that, I think, would balance out over time getting out of the way for the fruit and earthiness. Hard to say.

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Tasting Room

That’s all we tasted on site (it was our third winery, with one still to go). But, over this past summer, I have enjoyed 2013 Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir Rosé #39974 $16.95. This pink is deep and strawberry good. At first sip, you might think that it’s a bit off-dry, particularly if like me, Tavel is your thing. But don’t rush to conclusions and have a second glass – I think that it’s not so much off-dry as it is fruitful. Patio? Too late in the year? How about in front of the fireplace with those shrimp things you’ve been planning to make.

I’ve also enjoyed the Flat Rock Gravity Pinot Noir #001560 $29.95 but haven’t had the 2012. The 2012 vintage hits the stores on November 8th. In the past, a solid pinot that presents as ready to drink and is typically, for me, a bit earthier, deeper and more complex than the ‘regular’ bottling or my experience with the Bruce Block.

Other wines in their line include: Crowned and Riddled – two sparklers; Red Twisted and Twisted White – two blends; an unoaked chardonnay; a late harvest and a regular off-dry Gewurtztraminer; a regular bottling riesling; and, a Rogue pinot noir. Have not tasted any of them.

Flat Rock has a Wine Club –  Club On The Rock – which provides access to limited wines, library wines, and early access to general release wines. It also holds some events at the winery. One of the events is Ed’s Tour – where you get a tour and private tasting with the winemaker, Ed Madronich (requires a minimum of 4 peeps – anyone want to go with me?). You can join or buy wine on-line at http://www.flatrockcellars.com . Head to the website for some videos on Flat Rock which I couldn’t play as I was told I had “blocked plug-ins” which sounds quite dire. Do I need to see a doctor?

I know that I always tell you to get to a winery near you. But, this time you need to consider that winter approaches and festive occasions demand good wine and a story about a winery visit. Well, I made up that second part but wouldn’t a winery story be a good conversation piece during one of those awkward annual moments with that insufferable wine geek Uncle Bill?

Go visit Flat Rock and tell Ted that I sent you. Samples, Ed?

Other wineries in the Previously Unexplored Wineries Series

Kacaba, Megalomaniac, Pondview, Colaneri, Sue-Ann Staff, Westcott

Next Winery – Southbrook

Images courtesy of http://www.flatrockcellars.com

Previously Unexplored Wineries – Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery

30 Sep

 

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This is my favourite time of year to visit the wineries close by in Niagara. I love the pumpkins showing in the fields, the squash and fresh crop apples at the farm stands, and the smell of wine being made in the winery itself – musty, fruity, yeasty. It’s particularly magical if you grab one of those days in the fall when it’s surprisingly warm and sunny.

When in Niagara, I tend to gravitate to the wineries around Beamsville, Jordan and Vineland. Not sure why. Maybe the familiarity? I’ve been there a bunch. The chance to stop in to Jordan Village and dine at the Inn On The Twenty? Tasty food and good shopping. Whatever – it’s a must stop for any trip to the Niagara region. And, if you’ve read my post on swallowing, you’ll recommend that I don’t visit too many in a row. So, 3 seems about right and then take the back roads to NOTL?

Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery

A little history and background is needed here. (Paraphrased from estate website) Sue-Ann Staff is a fifth generation grape grower, 2002 Ontario Winemaker of the Year, and two-time winner of the International Wine and Spirits Award in London, England (Top 4 “Women in Wine”). She also moonlights as the winemaker for Megalomaniac Wines, who I’ve featured here before. For Bordeaux freaks like me, she also assists with Megalomaniac’s sister property in St. Emillion, Chateau La Confession. I guess you could say that she’s got a pedigree?

Despite all that, this winery is about as laid back as you can get. We arrived in the midst of a wedding on the grounds. Now, grounds might be a stretch. This is a farm. It doesn’t hide the agriculture behind a faux chateau or architectural vanity piece. I think I even saw a tractor. The winery grounds open through a gravel drive and house a barn, implement shed, and farmhouse with attached tasting room. The bridesmaids were competing for space in the tasting room and the excitement was palpable. Very cool, if you dig weddings. I really do. Even with this distraction, staff were welcoming and engaged. I’ve said it before but the staff at Niagara wineries rival the best I’ve experienced in my travels. – informed, enthusiastic and focused on the customer. And, take note Napa, they do usually charge for tasting (a very nominal fee) that is always, always reimbursed when you buy, in my experience. Nothing makes me madder than paying as much as $20 a person to taste and not getting it forgiven if you buy. A rant for another time.

Before arriving here, Sue-Ann Staff meant riesling for me. I knew that they grew a bunch of riesling and had been supplying wineries for years before making their own. But, they make other wines as well.

What we tried:

11_Pinot_Grigio_large2011 Pinot Grigio $21.00 – Hey, I didn’t think anyone made a pinot grigio in Niagara either. Obviously, Bill has not been paying attention. This is an orange wine. I’ll let other more qualified people give the full explanation. Suffice it to say that the juice from white grapes spends some time on contact with the skins. To give it some colour, maybe tannins too. This wine was big in the glass – think Cerano de Bergerac spritzed with citrus fruit. It had an off-dry profile, citrus again until the finish which was surprisingly dryer. A nice switch from the ubiquitous crisp and nada PG’s that seem to flourish these days. My first orange wine!

2012 Loved By Lou Riesling $16.95 – Citrusy after a swirl. This is off-dry as well in the mouth with a steely personality. Enough acid to food pair but I found it the least individual of the wines. That is; it tasted like a lot of other mid range Rieslings that I’ve had from Niagara. In fairness, it isn’t a single vineyard or high-priced entry. This would be a good sipper around the patio.

11_Riesl_LU_3afe8d63-ce58-47ab-a8a5-f0a6e3b3c42c_large2011 Robert’s Block Riesling $26.00 – Now, we are talking. This is a dry effort that has a big hit of petrol on the nose (love that) but clean petrol not that oil sands stuff that our government blindly supports (Did I just make a political statement?). This is crisp and lip smacking in the mouth and on the finish but there is that petrol again and citrus fruit and maybe even a bit of tropicality too. Loved It! I think it could hold for a few years – at least that’s what I’m doing.

2011 Baco Noir $14.95 – This red was suggested as a possible red that The Director could drink. You see, she suffers from headaches when drinking reds. Which means? More red wine for Bill! This is a soft red – some muted acidity and tannins with strawberries and herbs making up much of the experience. I tend to heavier reds but Baco Noir has been good to me before. This one has some power without the weight. It seems perfect for those that like a very approachable red – maybe on a warmer day with snackees and a movie. Price is great too.

SAS_CAB_MERLOT_2a_5b68604f-373a-409d-a27b-d39923c3a63c_large2010 Cabernet Franc $21.95 – So, here we are at the wine that impressed me the most. Oh, I could talk about the 2010 Merlot but this is where I’d like to end. I’ve praised Niagara cab franc before and, damn, if I didn’t prefer the ones from down by NOTL. Well, this winery located near Jordan (Twenty Mile Bench and Vinemount) has me heading out to take another look at cab francs from here. This is a structured (by that I mean “not flabby”) and cellar worthy red with fruit close to the ground – dark raspberries and brush. Not huge but large enough to satisfy the bigophile. Balanced and polished. Perfect wine with game. What game? AL Wild Card and ribs. At least that what I’m having it with. Go Royals!

Lots of other tastes available too. They have all the usual suspects – icewines, sparkling, pinks. Oh, I forgot the dog. There’s a dog called Brix (picture below). Beautiful Bernese Mountain dog. Just laying around being a farm dog. Each bottle has a neck tag that has a picture of him and it says, “Brix Approved.” I love dogs.

Get Thee To A Winery Near You! And, if you’re doing the Niagara Region, go see Sue-Ann and Brix.

Next Post: New Kids On The Block – Westcott Vineyards

 

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Images courtesy of:

http://www.sue-annstaff.com

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!

 

 

Hey Hippy, Get a Hair Cut – The White Daily Slosh

23 Jan

Scan_Pic00232010BarrelFermChard1These are recommendations for the February 1st Release.

When I was young, hair past my shoulders (yes, that’s me up there), struggling Fu Manchu, unfortunately even more vain than I am now, but flat broke, I had my hair cut at a barber school. I was going for the Rod Stewart Jeff Beck Group Look®. You can see it didn’t quite take. Suffice it to say that I learned the truth of the sigh-filled comment expressed by many a woman after a hair styling, “It will grow out eventually, I guess.” Now, what can this possibly have to do with wine? Well, it just so happens that you can like-wise buy wine made by those who are honing their craft at the Niagara Teaching Winery. Thankfully, it surpasses expectations usually and you won’t have to wait out a figurative ‘growing out’ of the wine. This week, the 2010 Niagara Teaching Winery Barrel Fermented Chardonnay #040634 $18.95 hits the shelves for an extended stay. This is a great example of how chardonnay in a cool climate can bring some edge in the mouth as well as the butter on the finish. Typical fruits – apple, a touch of peach on the nose. Good value! With food or without.

nadjaIt arrives! The best label in Niagara riesling IMHO – 2012 Flat Rock Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling #578625 $19.95. This wine is spectacular in great vintages, great in good vintages, and good in poor vintages, it seems. Like the Detroit Red Wings, it must be superior management; not luck or just the result of a great site. Great aromas of apple, stone fruit and a little floral somethin’ somethin’. Citrusy. Mouthwatering. This wine is made for food. It has some bracing acidity, an edge that would lend itself to something with some pop – nothing rich – maybe something from the Mediterranean as their site suggests. Nadja is surreal I’m Breton! Anyway, it’s good stuff.

kaikenchardI’ve mentioned the Kaiken Ultra line before in the red wines that they have. This week, there comes an Ultra chardonnay – 2012 Kaiken Ultra Chardonnay #355552 $19.95. This is a great candidate for a taste off with the Niagara Teaching Winery chardonnay above. Have some people over, blind taste them both and see what you think. This one is a bit riper – creamier. This is good stuff and if you’re looking for a strong contender for value creamy (but not too) chardonnay of the month, this is it.

Shallow Philosophical Disclosure: Can I say sometimes wines seem a bit too formula without it sounding critical? No – well, I’m saying it anyway. They just smell, taste and finish too purely – just what you thought they’d bring. Lately, or maybe always, I’m needing a bit more weirdness or deviation from expectation. So, I guess I prefer wines that have flaws or peculiarities? Maybe. Does that make sense? It’s like some of those current California cabs (and, Australian Shiraz’ of years gone by) – all in a row – priced within pennies and, seemingly to this amateur, tasting almost the same. I want to take the chance of having a bad one once in awhile. Surprising myself. I don’t think that I’m talking about terroir or anything that deep and I don’t like ‘bad’ wine. It’s just….. I don’t know, just sayin’ and thought you should know when following my recommendations.

NEW FEATURE ALERT!

Nostalgic Tune of The Post – Crossroads by Cream. Yes, Eric was young once just like the guy at the top of the page. More importantly, why aren’t there any ‘great’ drummers anymore. Or are there?

Withers, But Not the Horsey Kind – The White Daily Slosh

28 Oct

fieldingThe Lodge at Fielding Estates Winery www.fieldingwines.com

As I mentioned in Value Bordeaux and Passo Appassimento, this week’s release has a bucket full of value Bordeaux from the great 2010 vintage. So, why this statement in a White Daily Slosh post? Well, I was re-reading a great article by Eric Asimov of the New York Times – The Paler Side of Bordeaux (March 2006) – in which he extols the virtues of white Bordeaux and laments its relegation to second tier status behind, particularly, white Burgundy. So, a release with value Bordeaux should include white Bordeaux, right? Well. There is one Sauternes. But, nothing else. In a modest, and most certainly doomed, effort to re-invigorate this formerly prestigious and still yummy white, I’ll try and mention them when I see them.

fieldingrieslingLast summer on a stumble through Niagara, I stopped in to Fielding Estates Winery for my first time. The winery property is quite striking – they call the building The Lodge. It’s pretty cool (picture above). This week, their 2012 Fielding Estate Riesling #251439 $18.95 hits the shelves. Off-dry but with enough acidity to quell your fears, “I don’t like sweet wines, Bill.” Settle down – this will surprise you. The residual sugar gives the wine a little weight but the acidity washes through what you’d call ‘sweetness’. It’s citrusy on the nose with the benefit of added tree fruits (still trying to come up with a descriptor for apricots, peaches, pears, etc.) once it’s in your mouth. Good autumn wine. I agree with many that say Niagara does this style of Riesling really well. I had recommended the Rosewood Sussreserve Riesling a while back. It’s different than this one but in a similar vein weight-wise. Good stuff! I’m saving some of these great Niagara Rieslings for when my niece gets home from Germany with her beau. They will have a good perspective on the grape and we can enjoy together.

witherhillsAlways with the NZ Sauvignon Blanc? Yes, because I always hear from you that you like it a lot (thousands of letters, comments, small but expensive presents, shout outs). This week, I’m stretching my WDS definition by a couple bucks. The 2012 Wither Hills Rarangi Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc #288134 $21.95. NZ SB can be a bit ‘too much’ and sometimes a bit ‘too much’ is just what you want. Not this time of year though. You want something with a little more subtlety. Well, this does sneak up on you. Not so much on the nose but full of citrus, gooseberries, and vegetal things in the mouth – great focus. This will compliment foods that have some presence and I’d say spice. Nothing hot but savory. Plus this winery’s regular Sauvignon Blanc should still be around and it is worthy of a look see and slurp – a bit more intense and urgent but a beaut – 2012 Wither Hills Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc #919514 $17.95. Wither Hills Pinot Noir is usually a pretty good pick as well. Wither does thou goest, you will enjoy their vino. And, if it’s New Zealand wines that you crave, check out What’s In The Glass Tonight – a blog that’s all about New Zealand wines to discover and learn about.

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