Tag Archives: Rose

It’s Time to Pack – The Rosé Daily Slosh

21 Jun

Nostalgia. Saw jacksoul opening for James Brown years ago having never heard them before. Haydain Neale was mesmerizing. His was a loss to Cool.

I love this time of year! No, seriously, I love it. “Why do you love it, Bill?”


Best sunsets ever

Glad that you asked. I love the anticipation of heading to the cottage – the start of summer. We were at the lake for a few days in May but not since. You see it’s a 3.5 hour drive each way and requires packing, unpacking, finding stuff that people have moved  (AARGH!), making beds, etc. So, an overnight isn’t in the cards. Plus, this year, I haven’t been up to do my usual “annual project”. Not sure why. I know “the annual” is the stairs down to the water but I haven’t grown any ambition over the past two months to get up there, work a bit, drink beer and wine with the guys helping. Suffice to say that I will waste a bit of my summer working. But, working in Muskoka on the lake is a high class problem, right?

And, I will need some wine to support the intellectual and physical labour. So, here goes:

Let’s just head to the main event – rosé. I realize that some of these are repeats from my annual Rosés for The Dock post but they are included in this weekend’s (June 25) release so I thought it bears repeating. Odd that “New Arrivals” at the mother ship are, in fact, “Old Friends” that never left. I will post on reds and whites later in the week.

I was in NYC last month and we hit a rooftop bar in the Meatpacking District populated by millennials with money. It was scary. The cliché is mullenials still on their parents cellphone plan. But these looked pretty independent. Great looking men and women. angelLoads of financial wherewithal clearly evident. The friend that had got us in to the place was considering a glass of wine and I suggested that, if she liked rosé, she would love the 2015 Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel #325076 $26.95. She did. This is one of the better if not the best Provence rosés at this price point (or perhaps at any price point) in most years. This vintage doesn’t disappoint. It’s citrus, crispy goodness. If you’ve been playing along at home, you know that my ‘go to’ rosé is most likely a Tavel. But, I love Provence pinks – particularly to have with something light or just on their own. I realize that there are many pinks at a little less of a tariff. But, splurge and quietly enjoy this by the lake with friends (imaginary and otherwise). Interesting that the imaginary ones always seem to enjoy the wine and it takes a little longer to get through the bottle.

chateaulatourStaying with Provence wine, the 2015 Château La Tour de l’Évêque #319392 $19.95 is a repeat offender here. I wrote of it in a past post here. Yes, I absolutely love it!

Tawse makes great stuff and their swing at rosé is no exception. The”Sketches” portfolio is an entry level wine but the only rosé that Tawse makes, I believe. Their 2015 Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rosé #172643 $16.95  is full value. Definitely dry but maybe a teeny bit sweeter profile. My earlier review is here.

triompheStaying close to home, the 2015 Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Franc Rosé #279117 $19.95 is a dry, citrusy, cherries and smack kind of wine. It’s organic too. A solid pick. Read my review of Southbrook Estates here. Great peeps doing good work. I like Cabernet Franc from Niagara and maybe that’s why a rosé made from it is appealing to me. Not surprising that rosé carries the fingerprint of the grape(s) from which it is made. In this case, herbal and quite aromatic. And, it looks delicious too. And, you know darling that it is more important to Louk Mahvelous than to Feel Mahvelous.

sorbaraI know that this is a rosé post supposedly, but there’s a wine that I’m going to try that you might find interesting – 2014 Cantina di Carpi e Sorbara Omaggio a Gino Friedman Lambrusco di Sorbara #419101 $15.95 is a sparkling red made from the Lambrusco grape. Now, before you concur up memories of Castelvetro or Baby Duck, this isn’t sweet or heavy handed. The Lambrusco di Sorbaras that I’ve had before were ‘pretty tasty’* and went well with charcuterie. Give it a try and let me know.



*The DuffWines rating scale and DuffsWines tasting terms are copyrighted. Accordingly, the use of the term “pretty tasty” without prior expressed written permission from Duffswines Inc. LLP. Corp. is strictly prohibited.

Rosés For The Dock Edition and A Single Guilty Pleasure

28 Apr

It’s the Dock Where I Rock the Rosés

You may remember the last 2 editions of Rosés For The Dock posts. Wait, what am I saying? Of course you do. You have them bookmarked and use them regularly as textbook examples of blogging excellence and rosé wisdom. Well, I won’t bore you with opportunities to click away to read them because you won’t anyway. I know what you do and where you go.

This is number 3! That must mean it’s 2016, sigh.

The mothership is pimping rosés this weekend (April 30th). And, if you pimp, they will come. Well, at least I will ’cause I’m easy, subject to suggestion, and a mark for sexy advertising. While else would I have purchased that Dyson vacuum cleaner. Did you notice the length of that handle, the way the woman wrapped her fingers…………….never mind – that was another post.

I received a text the other day from my youngest. Now, picture this – it’s 3 degrees Celsius outside my door (that’s about 40 F. for my US friends). I’m sitting around thinking. Nothing inspirational or profound – just thinking. “Ding” goes my phone. Ah, a text. I open it to hear from my itinerant life-time student. I quote, “Heyo, I’m heading to France tonight, and will be there until May 11th. Staying in Provence……writing…..library”



What? I know that he works hard and the travel is part of the gig kind of. But, did I say it was 3 degrees C? Quick check of the Côte d’Azur tells me that it’s……..67 degrees F. which is………… well, let’s just say that it was warmer than 3 C. And, when I think of Provence, I think of drifting on the Mediterranean soaking up the sun, eating something fresh and delish and sipping rosé. Ah, warm, sated.Consolation? It’s coming. The warmth that is.

This week there are 2 repeat Provence offenders from these pages.

gassierThe 2015 Gassier Sables d’Azur #033621 $15.95 is a wine that needs a significant chill and something to eat with it – like a green salad with balsamic vinegrette. Hey, just kidding. Pair it with sun alone and you’ll be fine. It has a very evident streak of acidity but is light and Provency.  Perfect in 67 degree and warmer weather.

chateaulatourThe other Provence wine that I want to talk about is the 2015 Château La Tour de l’Eveque #319392 $19.95. I have sang the praises of this cuvée several times. This looks like perfection in a rosé – a little hint of yellow amidst the pink  – smells of orchard fruit but don’t be fooled. On the swish and swallow, you get a load of palate cleansing acidity and a citrus burst. Love, love it! If you ever sit in the sun in a small cafe in Antibes (and BTW, I fear that my son is), snack on messy prawns and fresh tomatoes, this is the wine you’ll want.

mabyThere are two Tavels this weekend, I’m talking about only one of them – 2015 Domaine Maby La Forcadière Tavel #701318 $18.95 is another repeater. Tavels are much more substantial than the rosés from Provence or pretty well anywhere else, actually. They are said to be the red wine drinker’s rosé. Made predominantly with Grenache which gives you some idea of the vibe. This wine is dark pink, complicated, and spicy. Dry as a bone and muscly enough to stand up to a typical red wine meal. If you’d be overwhelmed with a tannic Cab or Syrah/Shiraz with your burger, drain this. Cottage barbecue pink.

tawseroseEveryone around Niagara seems to do a rosé lately. I admit that I really only drink two of them. The first is the 2015 Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rosé #172643 $16.95. If you want to know about Tawse, you can read my short piece here. This is a bit sweeter in profile than the others I’ve mentioned here but don’t think, “Oh, that’s sweet.” Think, “Oh, that’s suuuweeet.” It’s a peaceful, medium-bodied wine with some earthy notes in the glass but clean on the finish. Nice effort.

The other Niagara rosé I stock up on, in fact have just twisted open a bottle of, is 2015 Malivoire Lady Bug Rosé #559088 $15.95. A true food pink. Lunch on the beach? Serve well chilled. You can read my piece on Malivoire here. Worth a visit.

That’s enough for now. I’m sure we will be talking’ pink later this year.

As un homage to The Food and Wine Hedonist who has been blogging about guilty pleasures in music, wine and food lately, my guilty pleasure might be this song. Come on, everyone loves Elaine, admit it.



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.


Pink is the New Black – New Red? – New White?

25 Jul

The background music was chosen due to my return from vacation after weeks of research for the blog. Feel free to sing along. Because, I think that’s a big part of the attraction of this song. So, you’ll have to excuse me I’m not at my best…….

“And, what did you do on your vacation, Bill?” Well, glad you asked. I drank a lot of wine, read a bunch of books, pretended to fix things, swam almost every day, and enjoyed the company of family and friends. Now, everything is relative and there may be a select few out there that would scoff at my characterization of my wine volume as “a lot”. But, I’m guessing most would be more likely to suggest I turn over the boat key before noon on most days. Although, I do it all for you – my 14 followers.

I thought that I’d talk about the rosè I enjoyed over the past three weeks. Loads of people out there don’t drink rosè. They say, “I only drink red,” “rosè is for women only, yea?”, or “I lived on Mateus in college, so puleeze don’t foist any on me now” (expanding my vocab – hence the word “foist”). Now, I’d agree with them if they said that they don’t like white zinfandel, peach blush, strawberry samba. But, to channel and paraphrase Long John Baldry, “Don’t try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rosè!”

On to the wines. I’ve included the usual links so that you can see what’s out there but some of these are in limited quantities – so good luck.

I’ve spoken of Tavel wines many times over the past few years. I love ‘em! A small village in the Southern Rhone lends its name to each and every one of them. They are the pink wine for red wine lovers. They have a gutsy quality that might surprise those that characterize rosè as light. Drink them cold and young. They are made as a blend of red and sometimes even white grapes – the leading red usually being Grenache. And, we like Grenache a lot don’t we? I mean Côtes du Rhone and Chateauneuf-du-Pape have Grenache as their leading actor.

apoge2013 Domaine des Carbinieres Lunar Apogè Tavel Rosè #375626 $19.95 is a perfect example of the more rugged pinks that come from this appellation. Served icy cold, it makes you wish for some solid spicy food with a hint of garlic – an arugula salad was what I had – it was verrrry nice. It’s a bigger wine than the other pinks I’m speaking of today. So, stop the “I only drink red” BS and pop a cork on this biodynamic (Demeter certified) wine.

carteressesThe other Tavel I enjoyed was the 2013 Domaine des Carteresses Tavel Rosè #739474 $18.95. This was my fav. It was a tich (is that how titch is spelled?) lighter than the one above. It also seemed to be more dark in the friuit department (field berries?) with a citrus thing on the finish. Chill this baby and sit by the lake. No lake? Sit by the river. No river? Sit by the inflatable toddler pool. On the patio under the umbrella? You get it – get outside with this wine. If you’ve had a glass of pink while on vacation in some Mediterranean clime and thought to yourself, “This is the perfect wine for here.” Well, news flash – this wine will take you back.

mariusWe’re staying in the south of France with the Chapoutier entry into pink – Chapoutier Marius Vin de Pays d’Oc #367383 $13.95. Dry, light in colour and in weight. This is a sipper. Cautionary tale: this wine is alcohol and you just can’t pour one glass after another without irrationally arguing about something that you actually, in retrospect and the light of day, care very little about – just sayin’. Crisp, cold with a touch of shrubby stuff. What to serve this with, if you didn’t take my advice to have it by itself? Go to www.mariusbymichelchapoutier.com . Now the site is en francais but if you’ve grown up with flacons de mais on your cereal box, you can easily translate (and there’s always Google’s “translate this page?”) The suggested pairing that interests me the most is the pêches rôties aux amandes.

flatrockroseNow, what would a rosè review be without sampling some of the best of Niagara. The 2013 Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir Rosè #39974 $16.95 carries a little more sweetness than the French pinks above. I don’t mean that you don’t have a little pucker but it’s fruit forward (pardon me that wine blog cliché). The wine does scream, “I’m made from pinot noir!” through it’s tea stained tannins and strawberriness. I’d suggest this for those that prefer a wine less astringent but it does satisfy a little red wine lover in me. Flat Rock attends to environmental stewardship – this product is created in an old world attention to simplicity and getting the hell out of the way. Great stuff! Very quaffable. But, as Ron Popeil would say, wait there’s more.

While you’re enjoying a rosè made from pinot noir, why not pick up the 2013 Megalomaniac Pink Slip Pinot Noir Rosè #85126 $17.95 to compare? I mean, you are going to drink at least two bottles, aren’t you? No? Are you trying to make me feel that I have a problem? Well, I picked it up and had a Niagara Rosè off. This one is a tich (there’s that word again) sweeter still but not sugary more like an off-dry Riesling might seem. It is maybe the one of all these that brings fruit right to the top of the glass before you sip. No tasting lessons required to pick up the cherry and berry aromas and flavours. So, that about does it. Wait, there’s more.

Another Niagara staple is the Malivoire Lady Bug Rosè #559088 $15.95 (on sale right now for $14.95). I don’t need to say much about this, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile. I always recommend it as a ‘go to’ rosè for those of us lucky enough to have the mother ship keep it in stock at all times.

Recap: and there will be a test. The French pinks are drier, more crisp. The Niagara pinks have a fuller fruit expression and carry a little sweetness.

And, I’ve been remiss in not acknowledging the passing of my “gateway to blues” guitarist, Johnny Winter. God bless him.



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.

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?

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!



Previously Unexplored Wineries – Kacaba Vineyards and Winery

14 Jun

nov7 093 (2)I say Ka-ka-ba, they say Ka-sa-ba. Before I visited the Kacaba Vineyards and Winery, I was ready for the story of the discovery, on the current vineyard site, of a native North American winery, as “kakaba” in the Oneida language means winemaker. Small challenge to that story is that ‘Kakaba’ wasn’t a famed Oneida winemaker – nor does it mean anything in Oneida parlance. What I did discover was the name of the founder of Kacaba Vineyards, Michael Kacaba. Apparently, the land was saved from a subdivision that: 1) would have surely increased the assessment base in Vineland; but, 2) would have destroyed this lovely small lot winery. So, if you are a Vineland resident and rue the taxes you pay, it’s Michael Kacaba’s fault. But, if you’re a wine lover celebrate the fact that there aren’t any backsplits ruining this vineyard. I’m going with number 2.

Kacaba www.kacaba.com sits west of Vineland just off King Street (County Road 81). It’s got tons of signage on the road but still might be missed as the winery itself is tucked up over a hill so not visible from the road. I arrived on a big sky, sunny day just before the long weekend – cool but sunny. My last two visits to wineries had the distinct disadvantage of poor weather. I mean potholes, mud, and cold. This was a big upgrade. Memo to Duffswines Management – visit wineries in the summer and fall. You approach the winery building over a simple bridge (a Bailey bridge?) and it has creaks and groans which is kind of endearing. The vineyard that lies adjacent to the winery building is mounded and it all seems like a little tucked away niche in the surrounding area. Not exactly La Tâche but still you feel somewhat surrounded, closed in, which I was told contributes to a bit of an ecosystem for the vines. I didn’t actually whistle, sing, or skip as I extricated myself from my vehicle (closed circuit cameras and youtube being what they are) but felt pretty upbeat and ready to swirl, sip, and spit (well, maybe no spitting).

The winery (picture above – courtesy of the winery) is a nifty little red and white building that’s sparkling and presents as simple and inviting. And, inviting it was – I was welcomed by Holly and Sasha. I’ve said it before but will risk saying it again, “the winery staff in Niagara are engaging and informed. Ready to talk your ear off about their wines or just let you quietly go about your business.” This is a real tribute to the industry’s growth and sophistication, and, in this case, to Holly and Sasha themselves.

So, what to taste? I tried a bunch on staff’s suggestion but want to focus on just three for this post. Given it might as well be summer already, the first is the 2011 Rebecca Rosé @$14.95. This has a sweeter profile than the Tavels and Provence wines that I have been pushing. I’m not sure there’s a whole lot more residual sugar but it’s heavier, rounder somehow. Now, that said, I loved it! It was like drinking a tart strawberry and rhubarb pie – the earthiness and fruit of the strawberries and the tartness on the finish of rhubarb. I brought a few back home for days on the dock – maybe late in the day particularly with food.

Moving on and stopping at their 2011 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay @22.95. In my home, chardonnay rules the white wine roost and oaky, buttery ones have ultimate status. If I even think of splurging on a wine pour moi (see Cab Franc below), I better include some consideration of one of these chardonnays for Arlene. Along those lines, this wine did not disappoint. It had all the requisite creaminess but still had some backbone – enough acid and fruit to carry this wine. I might even suggest that it could age a bit. And, that means more than one!

Several months ago I posted on a Kacaba pinot noir. and, the reds at Kacaba seem to be attracting much loftier attention as evidenced by their many awards, including, drum roll please………….a gold just this year, from Decanter – the 2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc. Well, I’m not talking about that vintage except to say that I thought it was really closed and inaccessible for an amateur like me – in the years ahead, I’m trusting that the medal was well earned – just too soon for me to tell what things might become. I did try the 2007 Reserve Cabernet Franc @$44.95 as well. This wine is no slouch in the accolades department winning at Cuvee in 2011. Now, the 2007 wine is accessible – still maybe benefiting some time in bottle, glass or decanter to get maximum enjoyment; but, I’m loving it now. Cabernet Franc does well in Niagara for a reason I’ll leave for another post (read: I have no idea why) and may be the best Bordeaux varietal to go solo from here. The 2007 had a ton of spiciness and dirty fruit that might put some people off but not me. I’m going to put this down below until at least 2015 to see what develops.

nov7 111 (2)“Why do we go to wineries, Bill?” Well, we go to wineries for the experience of seeing where our wines are from, talking to people involved in making them/dedicated to the task of crafting wine, and hearing the story of the place. Kacaba is a great experience on all those levels. Staff enthuisiastic and knowledgeable about their stuff. The tasting room is small but bright and you’d get the feeling that you’re not one of the hordes. I got that feeling because, well, I was the only one there, nary a single horde in sight! I’ll go out on a limb and say that they don’t have tour buses. They have a semi-covered patio (picture at left) where you can buy by the glass and enjoy with artisanal cheese trays. Sitting out among the vines, sipping the wines and nibbling cheeses procured from Upper Canada Cheese down the road. How cool is that? And, being up over the hill isolates the experience from any road noise or dust. I’m going to make a point of stopping in there again and suggest that, if you’re doing the Vineland area, you do the same. You might even see the legendary ghost of the eponymous Oneida winemaker.

Nino and Brigitte Bardot – Bubbly and Pink

21 May

Topic – Brinkmanship and the LCBO Averted Strike

Talk Amongst Yourselves

minofrancoActually, we could better spend our time considering the upcoming summer and what we’ll need to suffer through hot days, sun-baked skin, and many people dropping in to plunder our stock. What better way to enjoy summer than sipping on a simple, middle-of-the-road sparkling wine? To me that means chilly prosecco.  Nothing too full-bodied or complex – simple (said that already), flavourful and bubbling with energy. This week, NV Nino Franco Brut Valdobbiedene Prosecco Superiore #349662 $19.95  arrives. This is a super consistent and dependable prosecco. How do we say that? Is it Pro…sec-co emphasis on the first syllable and soft ‘e’ or pro-seec-co with emphais on the middle syllable but a hard ‘e’ or, and this is the last one that I’ve heard, a run on until the emphasis on the last syllable. Let me know how you pronounce it, sans cheating with Google or Dictionary.com. I pronounce it fabulous for hot days and sushi and hope I don’t sound too un-Italian. Well, hell, I’m not Italian and will always sound like a Canadian, eh. No apologies. So, while you’re ooout and abooout, pick a few of these up.

Last time out, I talked about rosé and it’s match to particular situations. Well, we are in luck and since you didn’t run out and buy a bunch from the last post (Lisa excluded), get ready, set, go – this week there’s another Tavel that rivals the one that I recommended last time (Domaine Maby, which I’m having as we type) – 2011 Domaine des Carteresses Tavel Rosé #739474 $16.95 carteressesis a bit fuller and cheaper than the Maby from last week (more stuffing in the Carteresses, I feel). Remember, Tavel is the reddest of pinks and this one brings loads of red fruit flavour and punch. This is a regular of these pages most vintages and I hope you grab a bottle or two. This would work as a dinner wine with fish – grilled as is the norm in the summer, salads, or lightly seasoned chicken barbecue.

cartenoireLast vintage (2011), I went on about this wine in connection with my fascination with Brigitte Bardot. Was there ever a more iconic blonde bombshell than Brigitte (picture below). Last year, I said, and I quote, “I believe that Brigitte Bardot lived in Saint-Tropez when she was, well, really hot. Maybe as un hommage to Brigitte, you could chill a bottle of this and serve with roast endangered species, carpaccio di baby seal?” We have the 2012 vintage this week. I have not had this vintage but given the weather/climate in 2012 in Provence and the reviews I’ve read, I’m thinking the Maitres Vignerons couldn’t have screwed this up.  So, get out the pad and scratch this down or highlight this on your smartphone. Pick up the 2012 Carte Noire Rosé Les Mâitres Vignerons Saint-Tropez #319384 $15.95. They call for pork and chicken skewers in the review but I’m thinking that could be a bit too heavy depending on the seasoning. Stay with something light and salty, like fish kabobs, shrimp appetizers, or calamari.


3 Rosés For The Dock – Oops 4 Rosés

10 May

Sunset July 2_4

What says summer better than rosé? It’s not summer yet but you might as well get stocked up.

tawseroseWhen I saw this wine in its 2012 iteration, I jumped. Actually I ‘jumped’ at the chance to grab a bunch. At our cottage in Muskoka (I’ve put a very enticing sunset picture taken from our dock – God’s Country we call it), we like warm weather sippers. This wine – 2012 Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rosé #172643 $15.95 is a great hot weather rosé. Sit by the water, discuss agricultural chemical run-off, the disappearance of those big bass that you caught as a child and have a couple bottles of this. This wine is strawberries (strawberry jamish?) with a hint of acidity and maybe lemon after its gone down. Have this with appetizers worthy of the sunset or earlier on the dock, under the sun with friends and argument.


MabyEvery year I have the same problem. I don’t want to recommend this Tavel – I don’t want to be so darn predictable. The 2012 Domaine Maby La Forcadière Tavel Rosé #701318 $16.95 is a traditional Tavel. What is that, you say? It’s a fuller bodied rosé and one of the best things that comes out of the southern Rhone. I read a short article on-line at http://www.starchefs.com/cook/wine/crush/tavel-winter-rose that suggests Tavel is the reddest pink you’ll ever drink. The geology provides the wine with ‘more grip’. Not sure I fully understand that but this wine is indeed approaching full-bodied-ness. The 2012 is as advertised. It’s got loads of pop, dry as a bone, and hints at a sense of the land or some other herbal kind of thing that just sets it apart and says, “Hey, I’m southern French, monsieur”. Have food with this – maybe where you’d normally grab a pinot noir, as suggested in the article.


levequeAgain, I return to an old friend but the newest vintage – 2012 Château La Tour de L’Évèque Rosé #319312 $18.95 is a less substantial wine, as in body, than that from Tavel. But, sometimes we like the lean type – if not there wouldn’t be any roles for Lara Flynn Boyle, would there? If you haven’t had rosé from Provence with fresh tomatoes and herbs while on a sailboat anchored in the azure Mediterranean under an afternoon sky, too bad. It may be the one experience that I have up on you. These wines are iconic and this particular bottle, although not the cool shape that it used to be, is a great representation of Provence wines. Where the Tawse has a strong red fruit presence, this one is a bit darker fruit-wise with floral stuff to entice you. Seldom say this about a wine but it is beautiful, if that makes sense. Consume responsibly.

mugaroseLast night, before this went to post (if that’s the proper phrasing), I received an email from my friend, Krystle. She informed me that her and Damien’s favourite rosé was hitting shelves in Ontario this weekend. So, despite the fact that I haven’t had this one, I thought it a good idea to pass on her recommendation. 2012 Muga Rosé #603795 $12.95 is described by the mothership as a wine that “will definitely make some friends at the dinner table.” And, don’t we all need friends? “Beyond being perfectly dry, fruity, and tasty, you can’t argue with $12.95 a bottle,” according to Krystle. No, you cannot.  So, give this a try and thank the fact that I have friends if you love it like they do. Muga makes some interesting Rioja reds that are readily available as well.

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