Tag Archives: Rosewood

Fishes, Loaves and The Red Daily Slosh

28 Aug

My favourite blues singer (Beth Hart) and one of the all time great guitarists (Jeff Beck) celebrating the great Buddy Guy. Rocking a classic. Pair with the Carmenere below. Hang in for the encore – Sweet Home Chicago. It’s pretty cool.

This release (August 30) features wines scoring 90 points or more as awarded by wine reviewers. In wineland, there used to be controversy over scoring wines regardless of the system used. But now it seems that most wine writers use some system of grading wines – numerical scores, stars, wine glasses (bicchierres). I don’t like it as I get distracted by it. Here’s the thing. Sure everyone wants to know what the ‘pros’ think of a wine if they are considering buying it. But, when I hear that someone bought a $16.95 wine because it received a 90, and “$16.95 for a 90 is great value”, it makes me crazy. And, can we talk? There seem to be fewer and fewer wines that score poorly; making good scores pretty common place. Shelf talking scores in front of wines make good marketing; not necessarily good purchases. If you’ve followed me, you’ll know that I’ve stayed away from comparative scores. Why? Well, confession? I don’t have a great palate, my notes are cryptic, I’m lazy, I don’t want to be held that accountable, and I was a math major and I still can’t tell an 89 from a 90. Wait, I do know the difference between an 89 and a 90 – it’s one less. On the other hand, absolute scores may give you confidence and a reference point. So, if it helps you to use scores to better advise your purchases, knock yourself out. But, I’d think just talking to folks you trust, reading the write ups (while ignoring the scoring) that are available on the net or in the press, and maybe even asking my friend, Ken, at the LCBO would be a better use of your time. Or, I could revert to my fish and loaves scoring model. Over time you’d get the hang of what 4 fishes really means. It means it’s pretty good and one more fish than 3!

santacarolinaI recently spent time with my archaeologist son and some of his colleagues. One of his friends mentioned that she had picked up a Carmenère that I had recommended and found her new best friend – Carmenère. She said that she had subsequently asked at the wine store (Bottles in Providence, RI) about available Carmenère and had tried and enjoyed several different labels. What this means in archaeology-speak is that she subsequently drained the local wine store of every bottle of Carmenère. Why? Twenty-four hour-a-day fixation on fragments of pottery and weird details of early human civilization can do that to a person. It creates a feeling of insignificance in the vast historical universe. And leads to habitual alcohol consumption – not a criticism, just an observation. I also have a friend that drinks a lot of wine, but denies it. He said that he loves the Montes Purple Angel – a Carmenère-based wine. What’s going on with all the Carmenère love? Well, it’s good juice as my co-blogger, Conrad of the Wine Wankers would say. This week, one of our staple Carmenères hits the shelves. 2010 Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Carmenère #034942 $18.95 is a pretty solid example of what Carmenère brings. And, that is? Well, for me it means full-bodied, full-flavoured, deeply coloured wine. The Santa Carolina is full-bodied with a big complex nose – fruit, spice and oak in the mouth with an interesting finish that’s long enough to resemble a biggish California Cabernet. In fact, if that’s your ‘go to’ wine, Cali Cab Sav that is, the Santa Carolina will be a perfect change of grape for you.

doglianiI have yet to be disappointed by Dolcetto di Dogliani wines. There’s a country-ness to the Dolcettos from the Dogliani DOC. Lip-smacking good – not heavy. Secret? Once I’ve hooked someone on Euro wine through Beaujolais. I move them on to Dolcetto. In a year or two, they’re pounding on my door at 2 in the morning begging for some Brunello. Yup, that’s how this wine thing works. Dolcettos are a fun wine but, like Beaujolais, not to be dismissed for that but rather celebrated. The 2011 Cantina del Dolcetto di Dogliani Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore #378547 $19.95 is a pretty serious Dolcetto for Dolcetto. Loads of things going on in the glass and the mouth. Enough that my tasting notes had entries crossed out with numerous notations and additions – not that easy to land on the usual terms. And, I have to say that this type of depth and complexity ain’t what I expected. This is a beautiful wine! Balanced, acidity not as front and centre as usual for this DOC, enough tannin to hold up to some fatty meaty dinner, or cellar. Go ahead and spring for this perfect-for-the-end-of-summer wine. And, one of the more elegant labels that I’ve seen lately.

rosewoodpinotSince I’ve already dissed my palate, I might as well give full disclosure. When I started to try and describe what I was experiencing with wine, I noticed some wineness on the nose and notes of wine on the palate and the finish. Then I graduated to all red wines having a definite cherry aroma and flavour hiding in there somewhere. I’ve been able to expand my repertoire quite a bit from those days but I’m always suspicious when I circle ‘cherry’. Is it that I’m just back-sliding? Am I not trying hard enough? Well, when I tasted the 2012 Rosewood Select Series Pinot Noir #112177 $21.95, I circled cherry and then had that self-doubt. But on careful reflection, I’m pretty confident that cherry is the dominant fruit in this wine. It has some wood notes and packs the acidity that pinots seem to bring from this region. Good food wine. I like what Rosewood does with their wines – they get out of the way and let it happen. This would be a great host/hostess wine or accompaniment with something smoky. Note: Image above is not the ‘Select Series’ (I couldn’t find it) but it provides an idea of what the Rosewood label will look like.

Wine that I am going to pick up untried in this vintage:

treOK, there are great mid-priced wines and there are spectacular mid-priced wines. Brancaia Tre has been one of those (spectacular, that is) over the years of this blog. I’ve enthusiastically recommended the 2009 and 2010. And received many thanks from those that picked one or two up based on the recommendation. Well, along comes the 2011 iteration of this label. The 2011 Brancaia Tre #164715 $23.95 comes with loads of critical praise and high scores but remember what I said above – I get distracted by the scores and prefer to focus on great producers, solid vintages, and past experience with the style. This one is fool-proof on that basis. Great producer, past examples exceptional, vintage good to great. This wine should either sit for a few years or get some air, if other vintages are any indication.

I’m off to Niagara this weekend. Visiting wineries and gathering stories. Stay tuned.

Image Credits:

Brancaia Tre – http://www.brancaia.com

Rosewood Pinot Noir – http://www.vintages.com

Cantina del Dogliani – http://www.cantinadolcettodogliani.it

Santa Carolina Carmenere – http://www.santacarolina.cl




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!



The Quiz Returns – The White Daily Slosh

23 Jun


stoneleigh latitudeA few years ago my niece (you know, the one who fell in love and ran away to Germany) asked me if I’d heard of a Sauvignon Blanc that she loved called Stoneleigh. I had seen it in the mother ship’s stores, tried it but hadn’t really thought about it. But from then on, Sauvignon Blanc became our wine for discussion purposes. When she would drop over, I’d try and wow her with some Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. It was good for me because I didn’t drink that much of the stuff before then – I grew to appreciate its power, clear fingerprint, and lovely flavours of gooseberries, grassiness, and citrus. So, what did I see on the shelves this week but Stoneleigh’s premium SB, 2012 Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc #324228 $21.95. Now, this borders on my top price for a “Daily Slosh™” but I think we need to stretch out the expenditure comfort range once in a while. This is a beautiful SB. One of our best wine writers, Vic Harradine at winecurrent.com says that “it was tough to spit.” And, that says it all. This is crisp without an edge and loaded with fruit, a speck of citurs, and noticeably absent of grassiness – which isn’t a bad thing here. It’s spectacular and if you love Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, stretch a little and pick one of these up for a special occasion. In my arcane and totally indecipherable scoring system, I give it 47.5 points and 3 fish. It’s that good!

rosewoodsemA few months ago I wrote about a trip to Rosewood Estates Winery. Go ahead you can take some time to reflect on that masterfully crafted piece – why you felt as if you were actually there, didn’t you? This winery makes some great wines, also mead, and has a beautiful site where you can gaze out over the vineyards from a cool gazebo. This week, they’ve brought us a single varietal wine, a Sémillon, from a grape that’s most often found as the dominant grape in a blend, primarily from Bordeaux – either dry or sweet as in a Sauternes. But, it’s starting to find itself on its own in the New World (Washington State comes to mind), as in this 2011 Rosewood Sémillon #177758 $17.95. This has some requisite acidity – makes your mouth water – and zip of flavour that includes some spice. It’s dry (mouthfeel), yes, but with an off-dry flavour profile – does that make any sense? Perfect with some fish, I’d think.

sebastianichardonnayThe buttery chardonnay crowd will love the 2010 Sebastiani Chardonnay #030791 $19.95. This is a wine like the above whose flavours belie the dryness of the wine itself. It’s rich and round, creamy and creamy. Did I say it was creamy? But it’s not heavy, sweet or syrupy. You could have this as a stand around wine but I’d say better yet with a real meal – glorious French roast chicken with rosemary and garlic. If you’re an unoaked chardonnay fan see below.

flatrockunpluggedThe solid economic decision when oaked chardonnay falls out of favour and you have half your acreage devoted to the grape is to make unoaked chardonnay. And, we have lots of that now hitting shelves. This week, there’s a great example from Flat Rock – 2012 Flat Rock Unplugged Chardonnay #068015 $16.95. This brings you the fruit without its clothes of oak, butter, and toast. Plain unadulterated, naked crispy Granny Smith apples. The words ‘naked’ and ‘granny’ might best never be used together anywhere else.

I used to provide quizzes with my newsletter but have stopped since going to a ‘real’ blog. Some have lamented the quizzes’s (spellcheck correction, please) demise and I see that many other bloggers use quizzes for fun. So, in keeping with practices of long ago, that is quizzes that have nothing to do with wine and most frequently deal with music, I challenge you to provide the song that these lyrics come from. We’ll start easy this time. If you Google, the NSA will know and you won’t win the prize There’s a prize?

“Is it right to be treated so bad, when you give it everything you had”

Rosewood Honey and Peaches – White and Sparkling Daily Slosh

27 Mar

2011_RieslingAn Ontario winery that’s making noise is Rosewood Estates www.rosewoodestates.com  near Beamsville. I wandered there a few weeks ago and tried some of their current offerings (Merlot ’10 which was brilliant BTW, Chardonnay Reserve ’10, 2 different Rieslings, and their mead). Nice winery site (not web but actual) and even prettier in real spring, I bet. And, they have a dog patrolling the tasting room, a senior dog at that – I love dogs. This week 2010 Rosewood Natalie’s Süssreserve Riesling #258806 $14.95 hits the shelves. This is a medium sweetness, medium weight white with citrusy goodness. Great with some Asian stuff (not too spicy). Add this one to your Ontario Riesling experience. You will be supporting a friendly, senior dog.

08_MRWhy the reference to honey above? Well, Rosewood Estates makes honey and that ancient potable, mead! I remember sipping a ‘Buck Five Come Alive’ called “Ancient Mead” in Rondeau Park while still in my early teens.  Yes, I started early and often and I’ll thank you not to point that out. It was syrupy sweet and whispered softly in my ear, “Bill, you will regret me but never forget me.”  Guess what? I did and I won’t. Well, Rosewood has made Ontario mead respectable again for me. I tasted the 2008 Mead Royale #296178 $15.20 (500ml) and was wowed. It was light, silky smooth, subtly sweet but not too and brimming with clover and, well, honey goodness. Great with desserts, I’m betting. Get acquainted with this superb Ontario mead. I just discovered that there’s not much available in the stores. So, darn you’ll have to wander to their lovely winery on a warm spring day (or buy it on-line – link above).

bertrandTalk about a happenin’ grape – Viognier is it. Restaurants are starting to stock and push it, sommeliers are creatively matching it, wineries are rushing to plant it and stores are starting to sell it in case lots. What’s the big buzz about? (Damn, I should have used that phrase when I was talking about the mead) I’ll tell you what the big deal is – Viognier is good, it’s got intensity, floral presence, peachy/apricoty things, and fragrance in spades. Oh yeah, and Andrew L. loves it! This week, I’m recommending a relatively quiet Viognier 2011 Gérard Bertrand Réserve Espéciale Viognier #147975 $15.95 – softish, peachy but still crisp. It’s from Languedoc where they are really jumping on the Viognier wagon. The patio will soon be open, fingers crossed, and this wine would be great with what you’d munch under the umbrella, talking politics, or re-hashing the current season of Hell’s Kitchen.

libschoolchardOn a number of recent occasions, I have neglected to recommend a chardonnay for the chardhounds out there. So, here goes. A couple of weeks ago, I recommended a 2011 Liberty School Syrah #942383 $18.95. I said that Liberty School wines were usually available, fun, had a nice price point, and a middle-of-the-road flavour profile that works for just about everyone. The 2011 Liberty School Chardonnay #960120 $18.95 fits that description. It’s full of flavour, has a little less oak than many Central Coast chardonnays, and finishes clean. Perfect for the coming spring. So, when you finish spring cleaning, pop a cork, grab a book and relax with this wine (I’ve queued up Nikolsky, Gone Girl, and Updike’s Terrorist – you?) .

sannaproseccoEvery spring, I recommend this prosecco. Why prosecco at all, you ask? Well, you love prosecco when you have it. Pathetically, you lie in bed at night and wonder why you don’t have it more often – maybe on its own or with calamari, cheeses, light seafood, etc. I might be projecting here. And, I think this one is right on target for those days and sleepness nights. Pick up a bottle or two of the Tenuta S. Anna Extra Dry Prosecco #169128 $16.95. It’s got loads of what prosecco has loads of – crispness and fun.

%d bloggers like this: