Tag Archives: Rioja

Quick Picks – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

10 Jun
socks

Bill’s Cool Socks?

I’ve had very little time in the last week or so to attend to my writing. What with sorting my sock drawer, drinking wine, grooving a faulty golf swing, drinking wine, solving the puzzle that is Elbowgate, drinking wine, and watching the Trump-a-mania drama, I haven’t had a lot of time. Hell, the last one is a full-time job if CNN coverage is any indication. A train wreck really and I can’t stop rubbernecking. What about you? Seriously.

But, I wanted to provide a couple quick recommendations for the June 11 release at the mother ship:

Two medium-bodied Washington wines are solid picks:

majesticThe 2013 Diversion Majestic Red #446997 $18.95 is a red blend – can’t seem to find the varieties utilized but am assuming there’s Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon as the biggest component. Fresh, earthy, lightly oaked, and decadent. Great summer evening wine.

sevenfallsmerlot2011 Seven Falls Merlot #420711 $19.95 is medium-bodied and chocolatey goodness. I used to do this regular or semi-regular wine tasting at the place I worked for. There was a person who attended almost every one that could sense chocolate in anything from this Merlot to Champagne to balsamic vinegar. At first, I thought it was a peculiarity of her palate. But later, I realized that she was just projecting her addiction to chocolate on to the wine. “I get a lift of Lindt in the glass with solid Ghiardelli 70% cocoa on the finish.” This wine as the one above would be a nice summer evening wine.

Just a quick aside: if you have never tried wines from Washington State and I know many of you haven’t because I see a lot of nodding heads out there, it’s time. The state makes some of the most structured Syrahs, bold Cabernet Sauvignons and solid Rieslings that come from south of the border. At the LCBO, there are always lots of Charles Smith’s offerings (Velvet Devil Merlot, Smith & Smith Red, Smith & Smith Chardonnay, Kung Fu Riesling, and occasionally his ‘K’ Vintners stuff) plus the Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest stuff that I’m always hawking. Start there and see what I’m talking about.

LAURA'S2012 Creekside Laura’s Red #117960 $19.95 a blend of six varieties, I tasted this at the cellar door. Creekside has a fantastic reception facility with great nibbles. Check out my recommendations on visiting that area here. I find this wine to be joyful. I would usually save that descriptor for a lighter, perhaps bubbly wine. But, in this case, I like that it’s local (feeling a little joy there), expressive (joy is building), and so drinkable (Level 11 joy reached – time to open another?). Although you could match this to many dishes, I like it neat.

nadjaStaying in Niagara, there is a bottling which I get every year – the Flat Rock Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling #578625 $24.95. I haven’t tried the 2015 which is this week’s feature, but I can bet that it is dominated by a streak of acidity that’s juicy and stoney. Great citrus and foodability built in. Plus, I’ve cellared this for anywhere from 5 – 10 years with nice development.

nemesisA Shiraz used to be my ‘go to’ back when I started this journey of wine exploration. It was reasonably priced, interesting and always available. Lately (as in the past 5 years), I haven’t been partaking in the Aussie take on that grape much. Not sure why – just don’t seem as interested as before. This week, though, there’s a Shiraz that I love. I think the fact that it’s more subtle, interesting than some of the other efforts. The 2013 Zonte’s Footstep Baron von Nemesis Shiraz #212936 $17.95 is a dry, spicy, powerful Shiraz perfectly suited to lamb, burgers, something burnt with a bit of fat. Swirl and sniff this beauty. Go ahead, I’ll wait – sniffing noises off stage – there you go – complexity even for a nose as large and unsophisticated as mine. I’m not fond of big with no point. This has a purpose – it’s your pleasure. I reviewed another Zonte’s Footstep offering here and the 2012 Nemesis here. A consistently excellent label.

delhommeauWhat would a summer late-afternoon-evening-sit-outside-with-friends-and-nibbles be without a Muscadet? OK, it would still be fine – even without all the hyphens and Muscadet. But it would be best with a bottle of über chilled 2013 Michel Delhommeau Cuvée Harmonie Sur Lie Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine #164624 $16.95. This isn’t quite as crisp as most Muscadets. It has a bit of roundness, ripeness to it. Sur Lie means the lees are not filtered out adding depth. This one demonstrates that. If you’re a score chaser, this didn’t score 90 (88) but it’s 3 and 1/2 fishes on the duffswinesscale®. For the uninitiated that’s pretty fine.

cotodeimazI’ve been drinking the 2010 Coto de Imaz Reserva #23762 $22.95 by the case the past………..well, would you believe month? OK, past weekor so…………..and not quite a case but still too much. This was the first Rioja I ever bought by the case. I like it in most years and love it in the rest. If you were to roll up all your great Rioja wine experiences and then sip this, you’d say, “Yeah – that be it.”. Pure old school Rioja. Sandalwood, cherries and beautiful tannins. If you can find some after I’m done – stock up. Thinking rockinredblog here but play Jimi Hendrix All Along The Watchtower while you drink this. Perfect pairing.

And, if I’m honest (and, “I’m nothing if not honest,” he smirked) I’ve been supplementing my Rioja fixation with a little (read: a lot) of the rosé. Particularly the 2015 Carte Noir Côtes de Provence #319384 $17.95. This is crisp, sunny, and has an almost salty character to it. I read somewhere (or I’m making it up) that wine appreciation follows a definite curve as people become more aware and grow older – from bubbly to sweet rosé to sweetish white to dry white to dry red to Champagne and then to rosé. Due to my lack of funds, I skipped the Champagne part but am all-in 0n the last one.

And, since no one not called ‘Bot’ could score any Hip tickets, here’s a treat. Listen to the love. Hard to imagine any other group getting this kind of reaction from a staid Toronto crowd. I can’t imagine what the farewell tour will be like. Tickets on resale at $1000 and up – crazy.

Cheers

Bill

The ‘Best’ Red Daily Slosh Ever

26 Apr

Spent the night at a friend’s last weekend and after about a zillion bottles of lovely wine, we started to play tunes from our smartphones with the intro, ”No, you’re wrong, this is the greatest rock and roll song of all time.” It ranged from Jimi Hendrix through ……well, I can’t quite remember. Since then we have been emailing each other with second thoughts on the matter. I know the Dead (above) is an jeffbeckacquired taste but I couldn’t help it; I love ’em and that was one of my potentials. I think it’s probably either something by Jeff Beck (left) or The Allman Brothers Band. I’d tell you what the others were pimping but frankly, they were wrong. So what’s the point? It got me to thinking about wine and the use of superlatives. If we can argue about ‘the best ever’ in something as important as music, why aren’t we arguing about wine – as in the best wine ever? In my case, I like just about any wine if it’s been made with passion and attention to detail. And, probably it’s a harder call when you’ve loved a lot of different wines. But still. There must be a wine that is the ‘best ever’ for Bill. The wine that after several bottles of lovely wine you’d argue is the best wine that there is/was, hands down. I don’t have a best ever wine. And, I bet not many others do either. Why is that? Now, before you comment below that Wine Spectator has a Top 100 of The Year and Wine and Spirits has a Best 100 Wines and so there is, in fact, a ‘best’. Let me remind you that WS has a ‘top’ wine and Wine and Spirits simply offers the best wines by varietal for the year. Nowhere does anyone say, “This is the Greatest Wine of all Time (apologies to Cassius Clay)”. Why doesn’t Bill have a ‘best’ ever wine? I’m not asking because I have the answer, BTW. I just thought that I’d stimulate the mind before I dulled your senses with my recos and inane banter. Too late?

It’s a shortlist of Red Daily Sloshes from the May 2nd release. Haven’t tasted many in this circular.

Out for dinner the past month at The Church Key in #lndnont and we sat at the bar and chatted up the bartender and the owner. Got into a discussion about the tastes of patrons and their tendency to stay glued to a single wine. No experimentation, no taking the waiter’s recommendation, or just picking something different on a whim. Fierce adherence to the varietal and, even more importantly, the label. In this case, we were discussing McManis Cabernet Sauvignon. In this town you can’t dislodge ‘em. Can’t stretch their palate (too condescending?). Just make sure you’ve got it in stock. Now I know that people should just drink what they loves and I should leave them alone. So, I’ll drop it. Maybe one last thing before I do; you don’t eat the same meal every time you go out to dinner. Do you?

terra nobleI was a ‘by-the-glass’ guy that night and tried several nice reds. One of those glasses was 2011 Terra Noble Gran Reserva Carmenère #957050 $18.95. Well actually, two of them were. I’ve recommended this wine in other vintages (when I was newsletter only) and have bought a case lot before. Bear with the wine geek talk for a sec – it’s really good. Maybe I should elaborate. This is smoky on the swirl and sniff with little red fruits barely peaking their heads out. In the mouth there’s chocolate, cherries, and a hint of oak. What was that chocolate candy thing that came in a box? Lowney’s Cherry Somethingorother. Of course, it’s not sweet like that but it’s what I think of. A balanced Carmenere – great sipper or with food. Buy it!

There are wine labels that just seem by their appearance to tell you where they’re from. I’ve coined the term “label terroir” for this short essay. Some Burgundy labels have just so much stuff on them about where precisely they come from that you know they’re from a Clos de Pricey and you envision a walled vineyard worked lovingly by Francois. German Riesling in those brown and green bottles and incomprehensible labels – hard to miss where they’re from. Same goes for Alsace. The Hugel wines that I recommended last week come with a label that you don’t have to read to know is Alsatian. It may be the combination of bottle shape, bottle colour and label but you get the point. These labels speak to me. I’m weird.

lopezdeharoThe 2005 Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva #357335 $18.95 has one of those labels. Diagonal banner with script. A gold medal. From cheap Garnacha to Gran Reserva Rioja, labels like this say Spain. I recommended this wine last September. The review is here. I had to rescue one from the cellar to see what’s changed. Acidity that was prominent on the first sip then has dissipated a wee bit. But, the rest holds true. This could still cellar for another 10 years. Great value in Rioja. Buy more than one and take the extra down below for a year or two or five.

Wait , just rethinking here, the ‘best song ever’? Maybe Sympathy For The Devil? Imagine? Roadhouse Blues? Something by The Clash? Leonard Cohen? Cowgirl In The Sand? Could be that, like wine, there isn’t a best ever rock song either. Thoughts? If you do have a best ever wine or song, let’s hear it.

Cheers.

Bill

Play Ball – The Red Daily Slosh

15 Apr

I love baseball. I know, I’m Canadian and that means hockey, hockey, hockey. Of course I played hockey all through my youth and early adulthood.. But, baseball is my true love. This weekend is my fantasy baseball draft. It’s a lot of fun. BTW, Duffs Tunas will triumph in 2015! Yes, my team is called Duffs Tunas – affectionately called The Tunas by family members. I inherited the team on the deathbed of my brother – true story soon to be made into a feature film. And, that team he had drafted in 1998 finished second last, if you can believe it. I couldn’t end his legacy with secondbaseballglove last, could I? So I picked up the mantle and The Tunas have been my responsibility for the last 16 years.

Back to the draft – an important issue is the beverage choice. For years, I stuck to beer. Lately though, I’ve felt that I need to wave the wine flag proudly and have taken some wine from the basement. It’s a dilemna. A couple of the guys are wine drinkers and some are not. If you write a blog, do tastings, etc., it’s assumed that you’ll bring something a-may-zing. And, perhaps something that no one has had before because you are so darn knowledgeable. But agonizing over a choice that most, if not all, participants won’t care about? I’ve landed on a Barolo for the evening before (oh yeah, it’s a sleepover) for pairing with a lamb stew. And, just in case it’s a spicier lamb stew (or not stew at all), I’ve got a back up – a Rhone Syrah. During the draft – Ontario Pinot. It’s always great to share a bottle of something tasty with friends and opponents. Wait……maybe I should switch out the Barolo for a Brunello? A CdP? Boone’s Farms Strawberry Hill? Damn, but it’s a high class problem to have, isn’t it?

pfvThe April 17th release features Europe’s Primum Familia Vini – that group of families in Europe that carry the history and glory of European wine – Mouton-Rothschild, Marchesi Antinori, Famille Perrin, Hugel & Fils, Miguel Torres, Joseph Drouhin, Tenuta San Guido, Symington, Pol Roger, Egon Müller-Scharzof, Vega-Sicilia. Interesting that the LCBO profiled the Wagner family of Caymus fame in the same release. What it did was show the difference in what constitutes a long run of quality in the New World versus the Old World. The Wagner clan have made many great wines for over 40 years and yet, they are relative newcomers compared to the PFV.

It goes without saying that, if you have deeper pockets, you can pick up some of the moderately expensive wines of these families – ’11 Solaia (Yaozza!), ’12 Château de Beuacastel (Whoa!), ’00 Warres Colheita Tawny Port (Suweeeet), ’12 Guidalberto, ’11 Alion, ’12 40th Anniversary Caymus, among others. But, this isn’t a splurge post and if I left it at those sips, you’d whine (read: bitch) and moan about how these wines are too expensive for you (mortgage, kids education, fixed income – excuses, excuses. You have a line of credit, use it). So, how about a solid inexpensive Rioja?

ibericos2The 2012 Miguel Torres Altos Ibericos Crianza #381046 $16.95 is an excellent value crianza. Sometimes I hear that the Riojas I recommend are too…cedary. I’m not kidding. People do say this. I mean can you have too much cedar? Clos de Sauna? Anyway, this one uses wood very judiciously. That being said, there is some evidence of oak – on a somewhat restrained nose that opens after a time in the glass. Some pepper, red fruit in the mouth. 100% Tempranillo. Grows better every minute – it balances up nicely. So, don’t rush it. I had this at the cottage and my notes will definitely be affected upward by the location – haven’t had a poor wine up there. Regardless of the cottage factor, it’s safe to say that this is a good wine at a great price.

bilahautThere are few producers that are a lock at almost any price. M. Chapoutier is one of those. The 2013 M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes de Roussillon Villages #168716 $15.95 will be familiar to readers of this wine drenched scribe. I have recommended the Bila-Haut – Vielles Vignes and the Occultum through several vintages. I’ve also enjoyed his Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Cote-Rotie, Cornas, and Saint-Joseph cuvées. I even have had his Portuguese effort, Printeveira – exceptional. But wait, there’s more – he even does Australian Syrah. I love M. And, yes, that’s Braille on the labels. Back to the Bila-Haut. This is a Grenache based experience – a little tanginess but tannins are gentle. Dark fruit and brush on the nose. Lip-smacking fruit and a medium finish. This is just so Roussillon. Picture sitting at a café along la Riviere Basse in Perpignan, ordering (in Catalan) a bottle of the Bila-Haut and pa amb tomàquet. The perfect end to a perfect afternoon wandering the vineyards. Or, open it at home with your own smashed tomatoes and garlic on bread. That doesn’t sound quite as tasty, does it? Pa amb tomàquet sounds better, yeah?

abadYears ago I pleaded with someone to give me a play on words to use with the grape Mencia. I guess my 16 readers got tired of helping me write the blog and went on strike. No, “This varietal is a real mensch.” Nada. It all started with this wine in a different vintage (2008). This good old wine – 2006 Abad Dom Bueno Crianza #244649 $15.95 has been laying on its side in the dark for 8 years, waiting for you. Just trying harder and harder to improve with age – kind of like me and my rapidly aging friends. Laying on our sides and trying. Snoring a wee bit and trying. This wine is made from Mencia and hails from Bierzo. It’s dry, yet the time has softened the tannins – not mouth drying, allowing the fruit to step forward – dark fruit flavours. It’s got power without being heavy – more medium-bodied. A little sediment. Great value. I have just talked myself into taking this to the baseball draft as well.

I’ll keep it at that as I want to write about some whites this week.

badiaOh, one more thing. If you do want to splurge on the Primum Familia Vini, take a stab at the 2009 Badia a Passignano Gran Selezione Chianti Classico #384552 $44.95. Just what we all needed was the Tuscans to come up with another designation so that the names of their wines could form full sentences. However, this is truly quite a ‘gran’ selection – a real step up in quality from their Chianti Classico Riserva. Cellar it or pop and pour with some air and country Italian fare. Great juice.

Now, on to baseball. Go Tunas!

Bill

Patrick, Alexios and The Red Daily Slosh

17 Mar

Love this song and the timing seemed right. Happy St. Patrick’s 2015! Caution: there are some naughty words.

Being part of a wine blogging community is great. You gather in the ether with like minded souls, you kibbitz back and forth on what you’re drinking, you get great comments on your web site, you learn a lot about wines that you haven’t really had that often, and you unfortunately fall off the wagon. What? Let me explain. Yesterday afternoon, I had decided to forego my usual glass or two (read: bottle) of wine with prep realgrand dinner. It’s kind of a masochistic deal where I tell myself that I drink too much, too often and I need a break and then I proceed to try to talk myself out of that position with mixed results. Yesterday as I prepared our dinner, Anatoli of Talk-A-Vino sent out a tweet to some of us that showed a label shot of 2004 Cvne Viña Real Gran Reserva with the tweet, “This is what I call ‘a damn good wine”. Well, if you’ve read these pages a bit, you’ll realize that Spanish wine has become my Achilles Heel. It’s so damn tasty (a professional wine blogger’s term – do not use it at home). I thought, “I have a few bottles of the 2009 Viña Real Reserva downstairs. Umm. No, resist Bill. Stay the abstinence course” Then, in response to Anatoli’s tweet, Stefano of Flora’s Table tweeted, “Nice, I’m on a Basilicata trip: Re Manfredi, Anglianico d V ‘07”. With a label shot. And it is a very cool, inviting label – “Hey, why not drink a little Aglianico?”, it said. I love Aglianico too! What is a mere man to do? Well, you guessed it – open a bottle of anything as quickly as possible. Rather than taking the time to wander downstairs for the Viña Real, I pulled a wine from the rack upstairs – and with shaking hands and sweaty brow pried the cork out of a 2009 LAN Gran Reserva. How was it? Well, I should have decanted for hours to allow it to open; which wasn’t going to happen. Slosh, sniff, slurp, swish, swallow. Maybe tonight the remaining glass – yes, there was a little left – will be a bit more robust and present. The moral of the story? If you want to dry out a bit, stay off social media.

The March 21st release features ‘Cali Icons’. But, I have a bit of a problem and not just the abstinence thing. I’m overweight in California wine. Being overweight for me doesn’t necessarily mean that I have a ton of them. It means that I will never drink the the ones I have – they never diminish. There’s never an Open That Bottle Night that will get me to pop the cork on these wines. That’s not just the California wines, it’s all the really good ones. What I see happening? In a few years, I will be in the HWID (Home for Wine-Induced Dementia) – along with Anatoli and Stefano it seems – my cellar at my bedside still not able to Open That Bottle. It’s weird. All this to say that I’m not getting any of the offered Cali Icons until I open something else Cali. And, you need company for that. Anyone want to join me?

remofarinaWhat’s the biggest growing trend in wine? Prosecco? Well, yes but what else? New World Rhone blends? OK, but what else? Ripassos? Right On! You cannot go to a restaurant in my town (#ldnont) that serves anything vaguely Italian in origin without a few Ripassos on the wine list. They are everywhere. And we know what happens with this race to make a certain style or varietal of wine. There are way too many pretenders and sloppily made wines. Think oaky Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Cava. Because of that, I seldom order or buy Ripasso unless I’m familiar with the label which does limit my experience. One that I do guzzle with gusto is the 2013 Remo Farina Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore #999946 $16.95. This wine is ready to guzzle right now. You might think light, fresh, red fruit but you’d only be partly right. There’s the red fruit but the additional process (re-passing) has lent a heavier character to this wine, not particularly fresh – ready for more substantial foods than straight up Valpolicella. Balanced. No pizza for this wine unless there’s sausage and mushrooms on it. Good value. Recommended.

castiglioniI have recommended a lot of Italian wines. Italian wines are wines of place – they express their culture perhaps better than any other region’s wines. And, among all those recommended, one certain Italian label appears more than any other for it’s great QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) – Marchesi de’Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castigligoni #145920 $21.95. This week it’s the 2011. Now, I realize that $21.95 isn’t what many might spend for an everyday wine. I say, “Really? Let’s fix that.” What you do is you justify the purchase by telling yourself that it was recommended by a brilliant wine guy and that you’ll drink it on a weekend – say, a Friday night after a brutal week. And then you find an excuse to open it on a weekday. Say…………you decide that you’ll pop it open to accompany The Voice Battle Rounds on a Tuesday. Yes, that works. I mean, who will Adam choose? Slurp. That’s how it starts. Commit to the inevitable upselling and buy this. Drink it whenever you want. Why this wine? This is a perfect representation of mid-range Toscana – cherries, backbone and a long surprisingly luxurious finish. Have with any meat with rosemary, Italian fare like Caprese salad with great Balsamic, Neapolitan pizza – yum – or just by itself. Full-bodied and presenting us with the possibility that we might like Tuscany reds the best. Now, what to tell our exes – Rioja, the Southern Rhone, Niagara, Washington State, Piedmont,………….Highly, highly recommended.

boutariGreek wine – what do those two words conjure up? Sitting on the edge of the cauldera in Santorini with a cool glass of Assyrtiko. Been there. Unbelievable, pinch me. But, it also conjures up a very bad glass of red wine, doesn’t it? I’ve been to Greece a couple times and had sworn off their red wine. Ask me about the barrel red and the re-purposed plastic water bottles on Tinos. There was a reason it was a Euro a bottle? But, swearing off a whole country of wine is like never drinking Ontario wines because you once had a glass of Cold Duck. It’s a bad idea to generalize that much. It’s all about point of reference. Plus, life is boring if all you try is stuff that’s the same and safe. So, I jumped back in a few years ago and since opening my eyes to Greek reds, I’ve enjoyed a bunch of them. You should too. And, the safest label for me is Boutari (FYI, Boutari has been named a ‘Winery of The Year’ 17 times by Wine and Spirits Magazine – only three wineries with more nods). This week, the 2008 Boutari Grande Reserve (Naoussa) #140111 $17.95 arrives. If you’ve never had a wine that’s musty, you ‘must’ try this. On my cheat sheets I don’t have the descriptor ‘truffle’ so I just wrote it in the margin. It has a distinct truffle aroma and that follows in the mouth. Wet earth. Love that. Not a fruity wine. In fact, I don’t have a single fruit in my notes. Sturdy in the mouth and on the finish. Almost the mouthfeel of a CdP. Highly Recommended. March 17th just so happens to be Saint Alexios Day in Greece (I’m not kidding, I looked it up on the internet). So, Irish stew, Guinness and a chaser of Ouzo on the rocks with a splash of water. Well, maybe two ouzos – it is a holiday, you know. I’ll tweet Anatoli with a cool picture of the Ouzo – poor bugger, he’ll have to have one too. That’s how it works.

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

A New Year and New Red Daily Slosh(es)

6 Jan

I wanted to start the year with one of my favourite songs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a video of Joni Mitchell singing it but Diana Krall is no slouch, if you knowwhatImean.

Happy New Year to everyone! With resolutions in hand or, if you’re like me, already discarded, it’s time to stock up. There’s a movement that happens each Jan. 1 called “Alcohol-Free January” or some such thing. Really? I admit that maybe cutting back or abstaining for a while never hurt anyone. But, if you have to give it a name and a month, you might need to consider the next 11 steps. And that analysis means? Bill is continuing to sip during this bloody cold month. What kind of wine blog would this be if I didn’t?

This LCBO release is called “The Smart Buy Issue” providing some value picks.

vinarealWe are heading to Spain with friends in September for a wander. Maybe by design or just luck, I’ve been drinking a lot of Spanish wines over the past year. Love them. So, it’s neat to see some come around again so that I can talk about them. Now, hands up. How many of you picked up the 2008 Ondarre that I recommended late last year? It was an especially tasty wine. And, I’m not using that wine snob description to impress. If you’ve had some, you’re already impressed enough. There is disproportionate value in the many DO’s of España. The Rioja,  2010 Viña Real Plata Crianza #657411 $18.95 is a perfect example. Its fresh red fruit comes through on the nose and in the mouth. Enough of a backbone to stand up to some food – seafood tapas – quite smooth. Where the Ondarre had a background of woodiness, this seems absent of oak effects – steeliness Great sipper.

laplaceHave I ever told you about my friend Andrew? I think that I have here. And, without giving things away, he loves wines from the Midi and Southwest of France. “Been there, done that, luv it”, he’d say. So, when there’s a repeat from Madiran, I have to give him a heads up. The 2011 Laplace Madiran #103705 $16.95 is a sturdy red that should go below for a few years. It’s made from the Tannat grape which if you give it an intuitive thought….go ahead, I’ll wait……yup, it carries a lot of tannin. You might call them rough wines but we call them ‘gutsy’ which is more endearing and accurate. This one is deep, dark and rich. Still lots of tannins peaking through and hitting you on the finish. But on second thought, I like it now but with some decant.

CastellodiMeleto_ChiantiClassicoDOCG_bottleThumb2010 is a great year for Chiantio Classico. I’ve had a bunch and almost every one has brought bright red cherries, some earthiness and if I’m lucky a little leather, violets, and grit. This week, there’s the 2010 Castello di Meleto Chianti Classico #332114 $18.95 to join that longish list. Balanced, medium-bodied and fresh – that cherriness on the nose and in the mouth – a little shy in that it isn’t a big wine. Don’t wait on this – pop and pour with friends (imaginary or real). A nice easy drinking Italian red to sip from a tumbler with bread, olive oil, and tomato something or other

And while we’re strolling around the middle of Italy, let’s look to Umbria. Yes, that’s Ahhhhmbria. Lovely sounding word. A great place for values and home to the pretty hilltop town of Orvieto – just heard some montefalcoOrvieto stories last week. There’s a grape there that we don’t see that often here but keep an eye out – Sagrantino. What a great name for a grape ………..or a Joe Pesci role. Anyway, this red grape carries a thick skin (go ahead and tease it. Water off a duck’s back) and has a load of flavour. This grape needs some time in bottle and we’re in luck because the 2008 Villa Mora Montefalco Rosso Riserva #357079 $16.95 is, obviously a 2008. This is big, dark and full-bodied with a personality of herbs – anise in the mouth. Just think of this bottle sitting in a cave in Montefalco seemingly waiting for your corkscrew (please tell me it isn’t battery powered), glasses, and friends. This is the beauty of wine from a region with a zillion years of history. A heads up – another from this stable – 2008 Villa Mora Montefalco Sagrantino #342394 $21.95 which is a beaut is in short supply at the mother ship. A step up in balance, intensity and purpose from the Rosso Riserva.

If you’ve tried these wines, let me know what you think. My email is in the right banner or leave a comment below.

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

 

Chicchitti, Bang, Bang – The Red Daily Slosh

5 Dec

alligator

I’ve just returned from a week in Florida where I enjoyed some quality time drinking wine, getting some sun, golfing, and, well, drinking more wine. My friend and I were unable to solve the important riddles of life but we did discover that, Holy Jumpin’, alligators are not as quick on land as myth would lead you to believe. The first or was it the second wine we opened was a Rioja – 2007 Montecillo Reserva and the room quickly filled up with oh’s and ahs. Well, maybe not oh’s and ah’s but, “This sh** is greats!” and “Wow, smell that – no, Bill, I mean really smell it.” Just such a pretty wine, powerful nose with loads of

montecillowinecedary, spicy interest. All grown up, solid, settled in. Medium-bodied, moderate tannins and acidity. Rioja Reserva with a little age like this one is just so dignified and satisfying. So, I decided to source it locally and to my surprise it is offered in the General Listings aisles at the LCBO. But what vintage? It wasn’t given on-line. So, I wandered out to Fanshawe and Hyde Park to pick one up. Now, being a wine snob, I had to get directions to the General Listings section – “It’s just past the ‘Barefoot Strawberry Blush’ aisle end display, keep going until you see the basket of boxed wine. If you reach the red velvet cake-flavoured vodka pyramid, you’ve gone too far.” I said that I was a wine snob. The vintage that’s on shelves here now is mostly the 2009 Montecillo Reserva #621003 $18.95 (with currency exchange, the price at Total Wines was about the same as in Ontario). Now, to try it. This wine isn’t as settled as the 2007. It comes across as a bit more restrained and carries more acid. I like it but will like a lot better after a few years down below. If you can find some 2007 – big recommendation. Update: I’ve just let the ’09 decant for 4 hours and it’s just now starting to open up. Definitely a cellar and finish the bottle candidate. BTW, the label looks black above but is, in fact, blue.

ondarrewineA wine with similar characteristics to the ’07 Montecillo is the 2008 Ondarre Reserva #723452 $18.95. This wine has a darker tone to its fruit and a little less woodiness than the ’07 Montecillo. But, it too is medium-bodied, a streak of acidity that softens a bit with air. These wines would be great to have on hand for the cooler months ahead and the time of year where company comes and expects a sip or two. A nice break in the party season from the same old, same old.

Part of feeling confident in choosing wine for a dinner out or at home is familiarity with the label, producer, grape, etc. That’s probably why, in my home town, every restaurant it seems carries McManis wines. People are familiar with them, confident in what they’ll get. In this case, I don’t get it – I’m not usually a fan of McManis at their price point – well, almost any price point. But, most folks like to stay on a familiar road. The corollary is that my susana_balbo_malbecopinion obviously matters little. But, what I can contribute is a few more labels that you recognize and feel confident ordering. This brings me to Susana Balbo. I haven’t mentioned Susana’s wines in a while but I didn’t cry. The truth is she never left us. Yes, you noted correctly – an Evita reference. I promise it’s my last when mentioning Argentine wine. This week her 2012 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec #079798 $19.95 arrives and I hope it stays a while. This is a superbly balanced wine for this price. I don’t mean all blended together like a smoothie when I say ‘balanced’. It’s just that there isn’t one voice yelling above the rest. It’s more a chorus where you can still pick out the altos, the tenors and the basses but not one dominates – harmonious. This is full-bodied with a bold nose of predominantly berry fruit. In the mouth, it holds some heat (14.5% ABV), a sticky tannin or two on the finish. It is just so tasty and warming. I loved the ’10 (reviewed here) but my notes on this vintage seem more effusive.

cicchittiwineIf you’re interested in seeing what some age can do for a Malbec pick up the 2004 Chicchitti Gran Reserva Malbec #155713 #22.95. I first picked this up seemingly years ago through the on-line shopping service of the LCBO. I left it a few years and opened the last one in 2010. It seems that the ’04 appears every year. This is grown up wine. How do you know if you’re a grown up wine drinker? You know you’re not a grown up wine drinker if:

  • When ordering wine in a restaurant, you’re torn between the Pinot Grigio selection and “No, wait – I’m having the featured cocktail – The CNIB Slurpy”, or
  • You can’t quite pronounce Rojaa or Sawveegnoon so you order the Meirlotte, or
  • Your best wine drinking memory is that Purple Jesus night during Greek Week, or
  • You’re thinking, “Wine? Not enough alcohol in it.”

Back to the Chicchitti. This is a deep dark wine with lots of stuffing left – no flab or stewed fruit – still fresh. More interesting in the mouth than the glass. Long spicy finish. I think it would keep for awhile longer but it’s yummy now. If you’re interested in shopping on-line for some smaller availability and premium wines, this is the link. It’s relaxing to spend hours researching wines on a MacBook screen. At least that’s what I tell my therapist.

An untasted suggestion:

I may have had the 2011 Rosenblum Zinfandel #031781 $19.95 from Paso Robles and failed to make any notes. It can happen. I’ve always liked this product in other vinatges. In any event, it’s hitting shelves this weekend. If you’re a zin freak and who isn’t, pick this one up. It’s usually big enough to carry some burnt meat or ham with crackling. Shelve the cab sav and pour this one. But remember it carries 14.9% ABV so no more than a bottle each.

Images courtesy of:

http://www.vintages.com

http://www.thesun.co.uk

 

 

Election Night – The Red Daily Slosh

21 Oct

Municipal elections are taking place in Ontario this upcoming week and I thought that this video sums up the coverage that we’re likely to get. If I lived in Toronto, I’d know who the Silly Party candidate is. Hell, everyone in North America knows who that is. Although we have candidates here in London vowing to stop the waste, shut down the gravy train at City Hall, and save the hard working taxpayers of this city……..oh, about a billion dollars, is all. So, maybe Toronto isn’t alone with Silly Party candidates. My election night beverage choice? High test – single malt. You need real alcohol to survive this stuff.

This week’s release (October 25) features Tuscan “Trophy Wines” and wines from Chile. Guess which ones cost the most. Using ‘trophy in this way seems to intimate that the wines are beautiful but perhaps hollow as in ‘trophy wives.’ Not exactly the vibe they were looking for, I bet. Regardless, it means that we won’t be talking about the Ornellaia or Luce but I will find you some decent ‘daily’ sloshes. And, because there aren’t many reds that I’ve had that I’d also recommend, I’m going to add a wine from the Vintages Essentials program. Vintages Essentials should be available in all but the smallest stores.

amplusStarting south of the equator with Chile, we find the 2010 Santa Ema Amplus Cabernet Sauvignon #076307 $19.95. This is a pure “New World” cab sav. It’s got some oak both on the sniff and in your mouth. It has classic black currant scents and on the finish and some spice as you swish it around. It’s a smooth yet determined drink – lots of power and a bit of heat (14% ABV). I’d like it with elk burgers, steaks, or something warm and cozy. OK, I have no idea what goes with elk burgers never having had them. It does sound exotic though doesn’t it? “Serve at 62 degrees F. with organic elk burgers, ancho chile aioli and lightly dusted and fried Jerusalem artichokes”? Nice spicy steak wine.

BordonAbout this time last year, I recommended the ’04 Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva. I loved its maturity and food friendliness among other things. This year, the ’05 vintage is on shelves. The 2005 Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva #114454 $22.95 is one of those wines that you fill up your tasting note with – so many different scents and flavours. That doesn’t mean it’s confused (or that I am), just full of experiences and nuances. Like the ’04, this wine is very accessible and smooth with maybe less tannin and acidity – incredibly drinkable. A wine that needs food and friends. Come to think of it, all wine needs friends. That’s why I have an imaginary one. Friend, that is. It allows me to drink wine more often. This wine would develop further over another few years, if you want to see what it becomes when its more experienced. I still have a couple ‘04’s that I’m waiting on.

Biggest complaint I receive from my long suffering listserv peeps is, “Bill, what’s with the price creep? You used to recommend all sorts of wines around $15. We don’t like to spend so much on wine. We’re not winos like you.” Mea culpa both on the ‘wino’ label as well as the price creep. But, let me explain why that might be – the price creep, that is – the wino thing would take awhile. This week’s release features Tuscan wines that average about $40 each. The rest of the offerings may not be so expensive (California aside) but still exceeding the $25 limit on average I have for the “Daily Slosh”. And, this is somewhat normal for the New Arrivals or New Release wines. I have taken to buying cheaper wines in the hope that they will come around again and I can talk about them. That’s real sacrifice on my part but I do what I can for you. In the interim, I’ll try to make sure I mention at least one choice that isn’t over $20. And, I’ll mention some General Listing and Vintages Essentials wines to fill in the gaps as needed.

palaciosremondoThis week there’s one of the Perennial “Best Value” wines arriving. The beauty of the 1012 Palacios Remondo La Vendemia #674564 $16.95 is that it’s not expensive, it’s readily available a couple times a year in this market, and in this vintage, it’s really really good. If you like Garnacha and I really do, you’ll love this. And, surprise, if you like Tempranillo and I really do, you’ll love this. It’s got the personality of both of these grapes showing through. Tannins soft a la Garnacha and acidity, herbal notes from the Tempranillo. This would be a great stand around and party red wine. A host/hostess gift? Now, if you’re a New World red gal or guy, maybe you’d want some food with this – nah, you’d love it by itself too. Let it breathe a bit before you quaff.

Vintages Essentials Selection

cettoYears ago, I picked up what was then my first Mexican wine. Well, it’s still my only Mexican wine to be truthful. Trying new regions, new wines, new grapes and blends provides such a great experience. Even if you kind of decide that it isn’t your cup of wine, you still get to sip something from somewhere else, made in another important tradition. A privilege really. Oh yeah, years ago…….I tried this wine and thought, “Wow, really? This is from Mexico and isn’t a margarita ingredient or illegal?” Even more important was that this wine was pretty good. Well, a few weeks ago, my friend Rod had me to dinner and opened the 2011 vintage of this wine and almost apologized for the commonness of the wine (price equating to commonness – which is not true). It was still as good as I remembered the olde vintage! The wine? The 2011 L.A. Cetto Petit Sirah #983742 $11.95 (yes, I said $11.95 and we’re not standing at Trader Joe’s in Omaha) isn’t Fuzion. I repeat, “This isn’t Fuzion”. Which is a good thing, right? Not sickly sweet and thick. A wine that improves with some air, it carries some herbal notes, some tannins and acidity in the mouth but all pretty balanced for a wine at this price point. I liked its spicy goodness – with a steak or sausages on the grill? – something fatty for sure. Rod and I had it with steak – well, we started the bottle as the steaks were being prepared (Chet Baker in the background) and, surprise, it was done before the steaks were served. But, I bet it would have been a match.

Images courtesy of:

L.A. Cetto, Rioja Bordon – http://www.vintages.com

Santa Ema Amplus – http://www.santaema.cl.en

Palacios Remondo – http://www.winealign.com

Peace, It’s Far Out* – The Red Daily Slosh

24 Sep

peacesignhand

*And far far away.

No video today. I’m kind of bummed out by all the hostilities, refugees, insurgencies, attack drones, and “Boots On The Ground” blabber these days. The upside? The depression makes the wine drinking seem more….well….justified. The news never changes and that’s just the stuff that’s happening far away! So, to reflect my angst, I looked for a protest song video of relevance but they were all from my youth. Here’s the thing: with this world immersed in a never ending cycle of tribal conflicts, proliferation of weapons, and inequality enough to disadvantage all but a few, I am puzzled that the protest song or actual protest, for that matter, is dead (apologies to Ferguson). I was very fortunately born into a politically curious and active family. And I was an idealistic Canadian boomer that had college friends that were Vietnam draft dodgers and deserters (and, I’m not trying to stir anything up here), I marched arm in arm with them on Parliament Hill, signs in hand – Peace Now/La Paix Maintenant! Not sure what we were trying to accomplish – it wasn’t our war and the House of Commons was probably out of session that year. But, we were pissed about it anyway. It was so hard to comprehend – the mission and the loss of life that is. Admittedly, we were naive. Fast forward to today. I don’t see any broad swell of indignation on the part of today’s youth concerning what’s going on. Don’t give the world Taylor Swift boyfriend put down songs and LOL’s, FCOL. Mobilize – make us old white guys uncomfortable (don’t threaten my meager savings for retirement, though). March on a street near you. Get involved in the issues on any side! I’d even listen to a hip-hop version of Eve of Destruction! That’s how badly I want to see some engagement. If there indeed are protest songs and I’ve just missed those engaged youth, let me know. I’d be thrilled to be wrong. So, short story long, that’s why no video. Phew, now on to the wine.

These recommendations are for the new release of September 27.

balbasI won’t go into too much detail – GET A BUNCH OF 2001 Balbas Reserva #085183 $20.95. My past reviews of this wine – a Ribera del Deuro beaut – are here and here

 

 

A few months ago, I recommended this Niagara blend and got good feedback. Well, that was the 2010 and there’s been some shelf space allotted for 2011 Creekside Laura’s Red #117960 $19.95. As I mentioned last time, Creekside has a nice vibe at the

laurascellar door. They identify themselves as having a bit of an attitude. They might have been the first in Niagara to provide nibbles with their sips. And great nibbles at that. This blend includes shiraz/syrah which isn’t plentiful in Ontario. In my experience, it’s best done around Beamsville (the Creekside Shiraz and Flat Rock’s Rogue comes to mind) with the exception of Lailey’s NOTL versions. Well, this wine is very similar to the 2010 – I’d say a bit richer in the fruit department than 2010 but the same style – friendly, accessible, and spicy. Loads of smoky goodness. My friend, Grant, loved the last vintage and will likewise appreciate this local effort.

haroWe are starting to plan a trip to Spain this weekend. And, even though I’ve mentioned the Balbas up top, I need to show Spain more love. A few posts ago, I mentioned a great Rioja value – 2008 Lopez de Haro Crianza. See, how it works in Rioja is like this – there’s the Crianza – the bulk of most bodegas’ offering – made from good but not exceptional grapes and aged a shorter time in wood and bottle. Reserva – from better grapes, more highly regarded vineyards and aged longer in wood and bottle before release, and Gran Reserva —-you get the point. There is a progression in quality. At least there should be some integrity within a single producer. Now we have the – 2005 Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva #337355 $18.95. I mentioned that the crianza was a great value. And, if the system works, this should represent a more balanced, complete wine. It does! This is my kind of Rioja – cedary in the glass and the mouth, great acidity on the first sip that kind of eases off after that. Some dirt and grit from the land. Perfect red for my favourite Spanish meal – paella. And, only $18.95!

ventisqueroWhere do the best value reds reside? Chile, man. Yes, Chile has kept their pricing in the range of most wine consumers unlike some of the past bargain centres (Australia, California come to mind). This week, there’s another carmenère – 2011 Ventisquero Grey Single Block Carmenère #325415 $19.95. This wine brings the distinct darkness and full-body that I like. It might not be as tannic as many of these can be, which I think you’ll appreciate. Stand around is allowed but food would really help this wine shine. I posted my theory of carmenère and archaeologists in a previous post.

A wine that I’ll probably pick up but haven’t had this vintage:

Any self respecting California winehound (with resources) has enjoyed a bottle of Caymus. For me, Caymus Special Selection was the first over-priced California cab that I had and, wow, it was a bit of a revelation. It had more complexity and, well how to put it in my early wine description phase, ‘flavour’ than anycaymus red wine I had had to that date. And, since I couldn’t afford the Special Selection ($219), I settled for the regular bottling – which is almost always a solid cab. Well, this week our local favourite wine store (read: only wine store) has the 2012 Caymus 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon #222877 $68.95. This wine has introduced many more than this poor scribe into the financially unfortunate habit of buying what all but the 1% would judge as expensive wine. Why not let it do the same for you? Plus, when you’re done, you could put a candle in the empty bottle and use as a centre piece – great conversation starter – “How we spent $70 on a bottle of wine and luvved it, baby.”

And on the slagging of all youth, I hope that I’m wrong and you’ll send in your experiences and protest songs through the comment box below. And, ‘Working In a Coal Mine’ and ‘Car Wash’ don’t count regardless of how hard it was. FYI as a poor student, I worked at a car wash – talkin’ about the car wash, yeah. And, since you’ll want to know, indeed those cars never seemed to stop coming.

Images courtesy of:

All bottle images – http://www.vintages.com

Peace sign – http://www.clipartpanda.com

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