Tag Archives: shiraz

Smokey and The Red Daily Slosh

19 Feb

Born this day in 1940 – Smoky Robinson.

The February 21st release is trumpeting the 2012 vintage in Australia – “The Best Vintage in 20 Years”, they say. The thing is that just because the vintage is a good one generally, there are a lot of other factors that also determine the quality of a wine. What’s a poor soul to do with this information? Just drink the Kool-Aid and buy up a bunch of 2012 Aussie wine? Or, tramp the back roads of unpronounceable Australian regions, speaking with winemakers, tasting each and every wine to find that one $18 beaut for dinner with the in-laws? Actually sounds like fun. But, no, we don’t have to do that.

My strategy is to think back to wines that I’ve loved from the region and seek them out in that ‘vintage of the century’. Why not stick with what you love? Plus, you can actually taste the difference that vintage makes – apples to apples, year after year.

I have to say that I’m disappointed that the mother ship didn’t include some Coonawarra cab in the release as some of those are my Aussie Montelenas. Oh well, something to look forward to.

stonedwellersI have only tasted one of the featured Australian wines. Good news? The one I had was a very positive experience. The 2012 Fowle’s Stone Dweller’s Shiraz #265967 $19.95 is a regular fixture on the shelves in most vintages. Or so it seems. This is a typical Aussie Shiraz weight-wise – full-bodied and expressive. Big but not braggy – balanced for it’s size. I have to say that the thing I like best about Aussie Shiraz is the unabashed spiciness. This one carries the peppery stuff I love – can even detect a bunch on the nose. On the finish – all spice, fruit, and nice. Highly recommended.

New Zealand makes more reds than just Pinot Noir. I picked up a Sileni Hawk’s Bay Merlot the other day as it was being discontinued – a reasonable representation of Merlot but a bit thin. cjpaskThis week, there’s a red blend that I think deserves a buy recommendation – the 2010 CJ Pask Gimlett Road Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec #279869 $19.95. This is a well balanced mid-weight red. I see this as a food wine but also a good stand around red. Use of the Malbec seems to ramp up the weight and colour. Where the Sileni was a bit washed out, this is fuller and weightier. Nice wine.

I’ve heard people say, “I can’t afford to drink French wine”. Aside from the generalization of French wines as all the same, it’s just plain bullshit. I say, “You can’t afford not to drink French wines.” French, Italian, German, and Spanish wine is what wine was meant to be. That doesn’t mean New World doesn’t make great wine. It just means for me that there’s something comforting in a French, Spanish or Italian wine, if it’s made well. I plead guilty to not drinking enough German wines. This week, the 2013 Domaine de la Madone Perréon Beaujolais-Villages #981175 $14.95 proves that French wine doesn’t have to be at least $30 to be good. This is a solid, incredibly easy-drinking, true-to-varietal wine. Everyone should drink Beaujolais. It’s purity of fruit, as in this example, is a refreshing break from the over-oaked, tricked up wines that we all secretly love. A confessional aside: tricked up wines remind me of guilty pleasure music. You can tell everyone that you don’t like ABBA (I don’t) but when Dancing Queen comes on the radio and you’re alone in the car, admit it, you’re conflicted – turn the channel and maintain your cred or just give in, smile, and sing along. It’s like Paul or John. It’s all good, really. Back to the Beaujolais – this wine isn’t quite as simple as I’ve portrayed the regional style. Although this is light-bodied and easy-going, it has a nice vein of acidity and enough tannin folded in to tell you that it would like some food. Think of sitting outside (in your down-filled parka?) in the sun with some mid-day stuff to eat. Maybe some salty olives and seafood. Oh yeah, and bread – lots of bread. Perfect wine for that. Great value. You can’t afford not to drink this French wine!

On the same theme, French wine that is, the 2011 Gerard Bertrand Saint-Chinian Syrah/Mourvedre #370247 $18.95 is a big, lip-smacking red beauty. Do I have a blind spot? Yup, well made red blends from the South of France. Let me put it this way (cue George Winston):

I swirl, sniff – sun-baked schist and lavender explode


I sip – I am warmed under a duvet of red fruit, tangled underbrush, and stone


Straining against the urge to stir and re-fill my glass

I sit back and smile


gerardbscDuff does poetry? Of course, I’m not just a pretty face. This wine? Well, it delivers on that verse. Scents of big red fruit, anise, repeating in the mouth with lip-smackingness, wrapped up with a nice medium long finish. Good heft, full-bodied food wine. Perfect with some grilled stuff. Luv this! Gerard Bertrand is a cool guy with a great winery base, Château L’Hospitalet – that doubles as wine tourism – accommodations, food, jazz festival. Keep a look out for his labels.



The King and Others – The Red Daily Slosh

21 Feb

elvis1These recommendations are for the March 1 release.

This week’s release features cabernet sauvignon – although you’ll see I’m not playin’. In the LCBO brochure and probably in point of sale signage, they call it “The King”. There have been many kings – The King of Pop (MJ); the King of Rock and Roll (EP); the King of Soul (JB – Godfather, really); the King of Siam (YB); the King of Swing (BG), among others. Many might agree that cabernet sauvignon is their red wine King due, in my addled mind, in this market, to California’s dominance and it’s ability to make great cabs at a reasonable price and better cabs at an astronomical price. But, I take issue with the coronation. I would have to upset our friend Miles from Sideways when I say that I think either merlot (largest number of acres under vine in the world, Right Bank beauties, blending dominant, and a very under-appreciated grape) or nebbiolo (as nicknamed ‘the King of Wine’, I believe, for years and producing unique special wines like Barolo) hold that spot. Not to say that I don’t love cabernet, just sayin’ that there is a debate. See poll below and participate to resolve this age old debate. And, don’t ask why I haven’t recommended any of the featured cabs. But it could be the inflated prices.

On to the wine.

rockwaycmIf you play golf and have ventured to Niagara, you might have strayed away from the bigger name courses to play 18 at Rockway Glen. It’s a golf course with a winery and reception centre. Or, alternatively, a winery with an 18 hole golf course. Anyone who has golfed with me will tell you that I am an extremely modest, spectacularly skilled golfer who very, very quietly goes about his business on the course. But, I don’t write a golf blog. I write a wine blog. So, it’s the wine I want to talk about. I tasted the 2011 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Cabernet Merlot #370346 $15.95 at the winery and we all know that that’s the best place to taste. I was impressed with the freshness of this wine – perhaps the blend. It’s medium-bodied with more cab fruit on the nose (blackberry, cassis) and some woody nuances joining them in the mouth – medium finish. It’s a fun wine which shouldn’t be a drawback but a plus. Wine is supposed to be fun and easy to drink too much of. So, take your sticks to Niagara and after the frustration of a golf game, get a buzz on at the winery. Responsibly, of course.

villamoraAs I wandered the aisles of my local the other day, I checked out the reds from the under appreciated regions of Italy (usually I’m looking for a cheap robust, gutsy wine) and found 2006 Villa Mora Montefalco Rosso Riserva #357079 $19.95. This wine is from Umbria and has sangiovese, sagrantino, merlot, cabernet in the blend. It reminds me of a wine from the Languedoc, style-wise – very full and dense with aromas of brush, dark and dried fruit. Can’t quite find the sangiovese. Plummy, somewhat gamey and pretty balanced in the mouth after 7 years in the bottle. Fairly elevated alcohol (15.5% ABV) but no burn. Tannins integrated and maybe a bit too mild for me but a lovely, lovely wine. It’s not everywhere so run don’t walk. I will keep an eye out for more Umbrian wines after this reminder of their value and style.

sopheniaIt’s been a few months since I recommended an Argentinean wine. If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll know that I was a bit of a malbec groupie last year. And so were many of you, if your nodding heads are any indication. I think it was the Susana Balbo influence. If you asked me then what wine babe I’d like to meet. I’d have said Susana. Love her malbec, cabernet and torrontes. Lately, however, I’ve been drifting north. Not sure why. And, I’m, not seeing anyone else. It’s just that she hasn’t returned my calls and stalker emails. This week 2011 Finca Sophenia Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon #350090 $17.00 comes to us from Mendoza, a region which does grow cab as well as their famed malbec. It has a pretty full nose of spice and raspberries – a sandalwood mouth thing going on. OK, that didn’t sound quite wine connoisseurry enough. How about, it has a hint of sandalwood on the palate? It’s a nice fruity cab that you would love if you’re partial to stand-up-straight cabs – reminds me (maybe erroneously and without running to other tasting notes) of a Western Australian cabernet.

olarraYes, Spanish wine rocks. I’ve mentioned a lot of wines on these pages and I’ve …..mentioned ……a lot …..of …..wines on these pages. And Spanish wines are some of the wines that I have mentioned. I mean a lot of Spanish wines. I love them! So, if you do too, there’s a Rioja Reserva, the 2006 Bodegas Olarra Añares Reserva #244723 $19.95 coming to a store near you. This wine is mature – think Penelope Cruz in 10 years – yeah, that nice. Really nice. My tasting note says, “petrol” in the mouth. It’s penciled in – so I must have meant it. Red fruit that’s dried a bit almost prune on the nose and palate. But, this is truly of the soil – bringing you the smell, feel and warmth of Spain – deep and sophisticated. I have friends heading to do the pilgrimage through Spain next month – guys, pick up a bottle of this, enjoy with some charcuterie and you’ll be ready. Except for the physical conditioning that you’ll need.

I will take a peek at this one

dowieA friend of mine who is somewhere in Mali and writes a blog about it here, gave me a heads up on the Dowie Doole Shiraz that she feels is the best representation of that grape from Down Under, for her tastes. It appears every once in awhile but I haven’t pulled the trigger to buy any yet. This week there’s what I assume is an entry level Doole. Or is that an entry level Dowie? The 2010 Dowie Doole Second Nature Cabernet/Shiraz/Merlot #361329 $19.95. I think that if I ever want to keep this friend, I need to buy a bottle of this and let her know what I think. It sounds quite yummy, fruity, yet enough substance – not a pool but a river? If you get some, let me know what you think.

Background music please, video montage of vineyards and barrels, and Jim Nance’s voiceover – “I just want to say that I am having problems staying below $20 for the Daily Slosh. Our friends at the mother ship have upsold us over the last three years quite noticeably into the $20 – $30 range on wines that I really want and, in past vintages, used to feel were full value. My everyday wine is getting worse and I can’t bring myself to drink the good stuff except when goaded by friends and other bloggers. It’s a bitch.” So, sorry if the Daily Slosh is shifting a bit above your comfort level. My advice – pay the extra and save it for the weekend. You only drink on the weekend anyway, you say? Who are you, Saint Abstinence the Crazy? I will rant on this and other issues of the monopoly later this month.

Sip, Sip The Jip Jip – The Red Daily Slosh

31 Jan

These recommendations are for the February 1 release. You can find out what inventory your local LCBO store has by clicking on the highlighted link (stock number and price) and follow the logical steps. For future reference, some stores start populating the shelves with this stuff as early as Thursday.

jipjipIn the past, I’d refrain from looking up or “Googling” stuff that didn’t impact my life in some way. I’d use Google Translate, Thesaurus, travel sites, etc. But I wouldn’t check out stuff like who Diane Lane is dating now that she’s dropped Josh Brolin. I never thought they could have been that good together anyway – he just looks weathered and mean and his step-mom is Babs and Diane is ……just about perfect. Well, then we got an iPad and, Shazam (once a Marvel/DC comic book hero also known as Captain Marvel; now a music app) I am now needing to know every little detail of stuff that doesn’t matter! I hate myself. BTW, what do they call people that hate? Wait, I’ll control the urge. Anyway, when I saw the re-appearance of the 2011 Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz #673897 $16.95 I had a decision to make. Do I Google “Jip Jip” to see what it means, if it’s a place, an aboriginal word, a typo? I resisted and rather than Googling, Yahooing, or Binging, I’m shouting out to the Wine Wankers, our friends Down Under. “Guys, any ideas what “Jip Jip” means?” While we wait for an answer, let’s talk about this regular visitor to these pages. I like the style of this wine – not heavy and chewy but plush with fruit. It is medium-bodied to me (the review says “full-bodied” – so maybe in the 3/4 bodied range), good balance and the pepperiness that I love in Aussie shiraz. This is a food wine, if you chose to wait until dinner (roast beef?) is served, but I also think that company would dig it by itself. Great price.

ramitelloWhat do you get when you cross a Montepulciano with an Aglianico? A fun, expressive Italian. Drum roll ………Monica Belluci? No, the 2010 Di Majo Norante Ramitello #973214 $16.95! This is an easy drinking black fruit (cassis?), herby, chocolaty, dark beaut of a wine. It is one of those that makes its case for deal of the week, month, season. So, you don’t drink Italian wine that isn’t spelled pinot grigio, you say? I get that if you don’t drink red at all. But, come on it’s $16.95 – you are worth it. Live on the edge, walk on the wild side, change your name and join a band. But before you do, get a bottle of this and try it. Remember my iron clad guarantee – If you don’t like a wine that I recommend, you can reseal the bottle and send it to me.

speriripassoStaying in the boot. I play golf with a lover of Italian wine. He recommended a Valpolicella by Speri once and he was bang on especially on the value or QPR (Quality to Price Ratio). The Speri family has been at the wine game for awhile (according to write up) and it shows. There is a Old World feel to this wine that benefits further from the Ripasso method. If you have read this blog a few times, you may have heard me say that Ripasso isn’t always my favourite process – I just think that it doesn’t always translate into better wines. Valpolicella is great when it’s simple and easy sipping – a summer red even. Ripasso can sometimes make it too heavy for me, anyway. The 2011 Speri Pigaroi Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore #285206 $18.95 is an exception to that – it’s very well balanced with just enough heft. Ripe but not pruney – the bite of all my favorite Italian reds. All this makes it a great accompaniment to meat. Accompaniment with meat? Never sure. Actually even ‘accompaniment’ looks weird. I need a glass of wine! Good with a sausagy tomato pasta too, I bet. Sausagy looks wrong as well. Pop the bloody cork!

akaruaI just got in the door from some time in southwest Florida with friends. One of the cool things about these visits is the shopping for wine. We trudge to Total Wine and spend far too much time in there combing the stacks and dodging octogenarians and their walkers. When there, I try and gorge myself on American wine. And, maybe too much focus on pinot noir – leaving me wanting more. So, when I saw a chance to support a splurge pinot noir, I said let’s do it. My staff of crack tasters, Googlers, and glugglers has found the perfect follow up for California/Oregon pinot – 2011 Akarua Pinot Noir #079541 $37.95. This is a spot on representation of Central Otago pinot. It’s lean, mean, and a burnt toast, red fruit machine. Puckering and mouth-watering on the first sip but softening over time and after getting acquainted with your palate. I see it as a wine that could sit in your basement for a few years (4 – 7). It would be great to see what happens after a rest. OK, the part about staff is a shameless lie. I have to drink this stuff all by myself.

I’m off to see Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt tomorrow night. Can’t wait. And, wanted to give you a sample of what I might hear. Bypass the open chatter – song starts around 1:00. Cheers!

Way Too Early Holiday Edition 2 – Weekend and Splurge Wines

18 Nov

binganddavidI’ve been remiss over the last few months in not including my usual splurge wines. And the year end holidays are getting closer when you might like a couple around the house. We know they are close because stores are playing Christmas tunes. I actually heard Bing and David butta, bum, bumming each other (excuse the image). Or, is it rutta, tut, tumming? They do look uncomfortable, don’t they? Bing in his 40 year old cardigan, David thinking to himself, “Is that pipe tobacco and scotch I smell on Bing’s breath? And why are his children bruised and cowering under the Christmas tree?” And, let’s not forget the scenes of our American friends crashing Target at 5:00 AM to get one of the 3 available 40 inch LED TV’s advertised for $1.50 (that’s $1.54 CAD). Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

A challenge for me is getting to taste wines in this price range. You may not have noticed but I’m not one of the wine writing crew in Ontario that gets invited by the mother ship to taste each release’s wares. Not until you bombard this site and get my numbers up, anyway. So, I have to buy these wines or sample them at a tasting. Starting to understand the lack of splurge wine recommendations? To quote Omar of The Wire, “Ya’ feel me?”

crognoloItalian wines? Why with the Italian wines all the time? Paraphrasing Tony The Tiger, “‘Cause they’re great!” When you get a chance to pick up a Toscana that smells like leather and tastes like love.  OK, overdoing it? Anyway, when the 2010 Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo #727636 $31.95 opens up, it smells of that leather that you get from Italy and seldom in abundance from anyplace else. It has loads of red fruits and a sense of the wood used on the nose. It’s got a great hit of acidity but not a long finish. I think you’d want food with this wine.  I’d say if you like the Tuscan take on using international grapes (in this case Merlot) with Sangiovese, this is for you.

09-elderton-command-shirazWhen I started this journey of discovering and appreciating wines, I bought a ton of Aussie reds in the $20 – $40 range (St. Hallett’s Old Block, Penfold’s Kalimna Shiraz, Penley and Parker Coonawarra Cabernet). I don’t buy as many Aussie wines as I used to and probably don’t recommend as many as you would like, given the feedback I’ve received. Well, some of these wines are still bringing it in the premium category. You’ll always see the consistently great d’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz on the shelves, several Penfold’s Bins (389, 407) and the Kalimna Shiraz (Bin 28) that I love in most years. But, one wine that I’ve always favoured is the Elderton Command Shiraz. If power and Aussie sensibility (always wanted to say, ‘sensibility’ and have it not fit, like when I see others use it) is what turns you on, this is the Shiraz for you. I bought several vintages when they were less lofty price-wise and they still lurk in the cellar (throat clear……basement). The 2009 Elderton Command Single Vineyard Shiraz #716142 $89.95 – power in this wine isn’t to be confused with soaring alcohol (although it is at 14.8%), chewy tannins and over-extracted fruit. “Well, what the hell do you mean by power, then?” I mean that the wine is big in the glass (nose) and big in the mouth. This wine fills the glass with dark swirly fruit, some oaky nuances, and one of the most pronounced chocolate scents I’ve experienced in a Shiraz. When you get to drinking it, that Shiraz spiciness, pepper, and the oak come through. It’s pretty balanced now but I’d say wait awhile to allow the oak to take a back seat and it will be even more velvety. I guess I need to bring up and pop the 2002 now. Anybody want to join me?

chmontelenaAnother region that I under-recommend, I’m told, is California. It makes some of the best wines for pop and pour standing/sitting around. And, heavens knows, we like to pop and pour and stand around drinking wine. My old standby for splurging without reading reviews, pouring over tasting notes of stooges like me is Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon. This venerable winery makes some of the most consistent Cabernet in both the regular cuvee and the estate offering. There are plenty of bottles of that regular cuvee 2010 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon #718452 $59.95 left on the shelves. I couldn’t resist and picked up, popped and poured one of these recently – all in the service of my readers of course. This is as good as it gets – opaque, solid, structured and balanced – acidity, fruit, tannin, and alcohol all working together. It’s bigger this vintage than, say, it’s 2009 version but I never find that this wine carries that label of BIG CAB. Smelling of herbs and red fruit, tasting of darker fruits like cassis and some herbs with a finish that lasts seemingly forever. So, I’d say make sure that you have some food with this – some serious food. This wine will keep for a decade and a half, if their record is any indication. This might be a good yearly purchase for those that have a vacant slot in their wine rack and love California reds (Craig? Bob?). Or, red wine lover on your Christmas list? This will do the trick.

I haven’t tasted these but will try and see if I can swing the splurge:

kistler2012 Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay #183921 $84.95  I read a great piece some time ago by Eric Asimov about Kistler and their natural evolution to a more restrained style of chardonnay – one that reflects the place from which they come. I’d suggest that people coming to our house and trying to impress Arlene might want to go big or go home with this wine. BTW, I’d enjoy it too.

2010 Domaine Rijckaert Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champgains #355909 $69.95 Staying with chardonnay, this wine in earlier vintages was special and 2010 was magic in the right hands. If you like Meursault and Michael does, this is a good pick for your special dinner over the holidays or keep for a few years and see how it develops. Or…….why not do both? I mean aside from spending all that money on yourself? Note to Michael: Not as buttery or muscular as the Meursault’s that you like usually are, I bet. Although they do speak of oak and medium weight. Perfect turkey wine!

A red super splurge wine deserves an installment of Bill’s Story Time. Back when I really worked, I had an invoice paid while I was overnight in Toronto. It was burning a hole in my pocket. My client asked me if I could host a reception at a conference on their behalf – i.e. buy all the stuff that they didn’t want to be seen buying and bury it in my invoice. I said, sure. So, I had someone get some munchies and I trundled to the liquor store to get wine. While there and after picking up a couple of cases of entry level reception-worthy whites and reds, I decided to splurge for my best friend, Bill. After all, I did just get paid. I love Tuscan wine and particularly Bolgheri reds. Who doesn’t? So, I bought a bottle of the iconic Ornellaia. The price doesn’t matter now but let’s just say that it was well north of anything I had purchased before or since (with the exception of the Blvd. Saint Germain Burgundy Escapade). I laid out the wines, someone helped with the munchies and people started to arrive at the reception. It was an informal kind of thing with people getting their own drinks and food. About halfway through the evening, I noticed that someone was standing and reaching behind the television to grab the Ornellaia (that I had stupidly hidden there). It was one of those slow-mo moments from a nightmare – me shouting above the crowd but not being heard, moving but seemingly my feet anchored in cement. “No. no. not the Ornellaia!” He grabbed a corkscrew. “No, get the hell out of my way!” I shouted, as I shoved through inconvenient guests. And, and …………he opened the bottle. Well, there goes the Ornellaia. I slowed, approached, gently took the bottle from him before he could replenish his glass, and suggested that he might prefer the Cline Syrah – ya’ I actually pulled that one off – and took the Ornellaia, stashed it in my hotel room, and surreptitiously asked a couple friends to join me after everyone left. We drank my only ever Ornellaia from hotel room tumblers (after removing the cellophane, of course), while eating leftover veggies and dip. Was it good? Oh yeah too good. It might have had more to do with the friends. I’ve been there, done that, but if you want to pick one of these beauties up 2010 Ornellaia #335497 $189.95 make sure you call me over. I’d like it in real glass this time. With a stem. Doesn’t have to be Reidel.

Weekend Splurges Return and So Does Diane Lane

5 Aug

I haven’t been keeping up on my splurge recommendations. Choosing instead to just drink them. Plus, my ramblings take my eye off the ball too.

dalemThis week’s release features some great Bordeaux and, although it’s in my splurge category, they are bargains. Aside for a few finds like the Chateau Lyonnat a few weeks back, Bordeaux breaks the $20 barrier with ease and frequency if you’re looking tasty and accessible. And, if you’re talking age-worthy and “I think I’ve actually heard of that one”, you need to check your credit limit before swiping. The place to look sometimes are the lesser known areas like Canon-Fronsac, Cotes de Castillon, Lalande-de-Pomerol and Fronsac like this one and that below. This Bordeaux could be consumed now after a little air – 2009 Château Dalem #191213 $33.85. I hadn’t heard of this chateau before and was interested in the price point. It’s a surprisingly complex wine for this price – with pipe smoke and briary things happening. If you want to impress friends for a dinner party, get one of these, let it breathe or decant for a few hours and serve with a ‘real’ meal (whatever that means for you). Now, I mean real. Meat, vegetables and starch with maybe some gravy or sauce of some kind. So, really whatever that means for ME.

vcAnother Bordeaux that’s a splurge but paradoxically a good buy is the 2009 Château La Vieille Cure #193151 #36.85. I love this chateau. Have a handful of 2005’s and 2008’s. Haven’t had the 2009 on offer but I’m thinking that it would provide good value and be consistent with the ones in my basement. They are medium bodied, dark fruit tinged Bordeaux with lots of interest in the way of herbal things like mushrooms and dirt. Well, not real dirt but a nose that reminds you of dirt – say earthy and musty in a good way. It’s a wine that’s part of the In-Store Discovery series. So, check availability before wandering off.

A few months ago, I wrote about my visit to Megalomaniac Wines. I touted the 2010 Megalomanic BigMouth Merlot #067645 $24.95 by them and I’ll let you read the reviews and description of this interesting winery. This wine is available in numbers this week.

blackwellStaple splurgish shiraz’s for me back in the day were St. Hallett’s Blackwell and Faith shiraz’s. But then, I went ‘off’ shiraz (maybe only real splurge shiraz left in my cellar are Elderton Commands) for a while due to overload and the ubiquitous nature of shiraz at every function and party that I went to. I’m starting to get the same weird feeling with malbec now and think pinot noir is a creeping menace too. You all know what I mean – the mantra was when in doubt, bring/serve shiraz. But, with this week’s release of 2009 St. Hallett Blackwell Shiraz #535104 $34.95, I’m back, baby. Love this. This isn’t your ultra chewy Aussie shiraz. It’s more restrained without giving up on the mouth-filling part. Lots happening that you can wear out a pencil writing about. This is a great wine with surprising smoothness and interesting aromas and flavours – tropical fruit on the nose almost a la white wine with big, ripe dark fruits and pepper as any good shiraz should have. If you’ve wondered what would possess someone to spend $30 plus dollars on a shiraz when you can get Yellow Tail for $10 (is it still $10?) – you will find out when you get this. I just re-read that last sentence. Do you really have to ask yourself. “Why spend more when I can get Yellow Tail for $10?”

And a reminder. The inventory number and price are those for the LCBO. If you want to read about the wine (as in a review) and/or you are in Ontario and want to know where there is inventory, just click on the inventory number and price which should be underlined signifying a link. Then drop down the city menu and find a store near you (as they say in the commercials). In fact, any underlined stuff on my blog probably is a link. Sometimes pictures are links too as in the blog about Diane Lane’s movie. There, one week and I’ve mentioned Diane Lane twice.

What The Faugères? – Red Daily Slosh

24 Mar


Want a tasty California Petite Sirah? If electing ‘No’, proceed to paragraph 2. If electing ‘Yes’, continue reading here. This week, there’s the 2011 Langtry Guenoc Petite Sirah #019935 $17.95. Imagine you’re at a restaurant and you see a wine on the menu, a Petite Sirah red wine. Is that a small syrah? Has there been a typo? Why would we really care when it’s plenty good regardless. Petite Sirah is it’s own grape and has popped up, like the Viognier in this week’s White Daily Slosh (to be posted Wednesday) as a single varietal wine grape. It can be blended with, say, zinfandel, and stay below the radar. But, why hide in a bottle of zinfandel? This is a powerful wine; as in, people that tell you they can’t tell the difference between merlot and chardonnay will say, “Bill, that’s got some power.” Nice power. Cassis and cedary-power. Have-with-red-meat power. Never-to-be-left-alone power. Got it? Get ahead of the trend and pick up a bottle of this Petite Sirah. Actually think I got carried away with the ‘power’ thing. I meant that it’s got gumption. Don’t be afraid – this is very good.


Paragraph 2. There are lots of well-priced opportunities from the South of France this week. Let’s start the exploration with a repeat recommendation from two years ago – 2010 Château Saint-Roche Chimères #119354 $18.95. This excellent vintage it’s back with loads of oomph and personality. It carries the smell and flavours of the region – brush, earth, and maybe even a floral thing. If you like a wine that rises up and greets you at the top of your glass, this is it. What to eat? Well, what are the denizens of Roussillon eating? Bread, olive oil, pork, or maybe even a tasty cassoulet?


I’m making a sight unseen or taste untasted recommendation based on friends’ accolades and a little knowledge of the winery and region. “Very little, Bill,” shout the always present scoffers in the cheap seats. This week, I’m recommending you get a few of the 2009 Carmel & J Joseph Faugères  #310193 $16.95. Faugères is another appellation in southern France that’s usually a source of great red wine. My friend, DR, likes this appellation for value and I believe this is one of those solid wines that he prefers. The blend of Syrah, Grenache, et al grown on the schist which is predominant there is a great blend for any time. Really? Schist? OK, it’s good stuff qu’il suffise de dire, ce vin est plein de sa maison. I promise to keep the bull schist to a minimum in the future.


 If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll know that I’m fond of Saint-Chinian – the wine, the towns, the vibe. The schist? When we travelled there, we stayed in a little village called Rocquebrun (our picture of Rocquebrun, above), at a home called Les Mimosas (highly recommended). We had the pleasure of wandering around and visiting several wineries. I will regale you sometime with the story of the peacocks and the big, scary dog. One winery was the cooperative “Cave de Rocquebrun”. Willingly seduced and upsold by a very pretty salesperson (“pigeon” plastered on my imposter Anglophone forehead), I left with their Cave de Rocquebrun La Grange des Combes to smuggle home in my exceedingly overweight suitcase. This week the newest vintage 2011 Cave de Rocquebrun La Grange des Combes Saint-Chinian-Rocquebrun #155804 $17.95 arrives. This is a full-bodied, wild feeling wine. By that I mean – it’s not tame – which, BTW, is the Webster’s definition of “wild”. Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre – I’m getting a bunch of this both for the nostalgia and with for some braised beef, pork roast, or (eschewing barbecue potato chips during my annual low-carb spring diet) garlic hummus and veggies on a  Friday night. Perfect!



Always one to try and satisfy my shiraz lovers……..wait (too suggestive and just wrong)…….always trying to give you shiraz lovers the fix that you need (better), I’m providing you with a treat. The 2009 Hickinbotham Shiraz/Cabernet #159632 $16.95 is a great blend of Australia’s two red kings. You may have tried it a few months ago when I recommended this 2009 then.This isn’t brawny, chewy and over-the-top-fruit that we can find in Oz. Now restraint isn’t bad, that’s good. It has balance, some bite and still delivers with enough of the fruit that we expect from Aussie reds. Although some reviewers detect all sorts of neat stuff, I find it simpler (maybe my unsophisticated palate?) in a good way – you’ll love it.

%d bloggers like this: