Tag Archives: Southbrook

Ontario Makes An Appearance – The Red Daily Slosh

10 Sep

This release features Ontario wines and what’s the best way to celebrate our province?  Fly the Royal Ensign from your passenger car side window? Nope. Spend your weekend sitting in Tim Horton’s debating the fate of Rob Ford and the demise of the Senate with really old people? Nope. Preparing for the endless sports media coverage of Da’ Leafs by renewing your Paxil script? Nope. Honeymoon Suite? You bet! A group from Niagara Falls is in order. Yes, I know that their hair reminds us all of the folly of being a slave to current and obviously doomed fashion. But still.

Shamefully, I haven’t had many of the featured Ontario wines. Let me explain. Many Ontario producers have a limited capacity and sell much of their premium product through cellar door operations, restaurants, and wine clubs. Without receiving samples (not so subtle a hint) or being on the LCBO tasting politbureau, I don’t get to see much of it unless I’m drinking and weaving along the roads of Ontario. This leaves limited opportunities to taste and experience Ontario wines not generally listed at the LCBO. I traveled recently to Niagara for some winery visits (posts to come) and will try and represent in my posts. That being said, I’ve written about the wines in this release that I’ve experienced and that I can recommend. I’m sure many more of the featured Ontario wines are worth a look and taste.

The wines:

triomphecabfrancI have mentioned Southbrook several times on these pages. Their adherence to organic and biodynamic practices is fascinating to me. Not sure what they were scrambling around doing this week but three nights in a row the moon was a ghostly galleon which must indicate something in biodynamic as well as poetic terms. Setting the sheep loose in the cab franc? Burying Aunt Marie feet-first between the Riesling and the raspberries? Their winemaking and cellaring facilities as well as their visitor centre are über cool and I’d place it among my ‘must visit’ wineries in Niagara on that score and the great staff (shout out to Rachel) alone. But, they are more than a pretty face and have great wines too. The wine this week is their 2012 Southbrook Tromphe Cabernet Franc #275958 $21.95. Niagara for me, particularly down by Niagara-On-The-Lake and Four Mile Creek, does great cab franc. The 2012 vintage was a good one overall for Bordeaux grapes in Niagara and this wine expresses good weather, good ground, and good winemaking. It has that Niagara thing in the glass – I used to experience it as a green note but in this case it’s herbal and cedary. Firm with a tannic streak that’s pretty balanced for this early on in development – dark fruits, and a bit of lip smack on the finish. I liked it a lot. I’d suggest that you don’t stand around with this but eat something with a bit of fat and burnt flesh.

angelsgatemerlotTo quote the late great Joan Rivers, “Can we talk?” Many of our first tastes of Ontario wines, post Cold Duck, were those from fledgling wineries whose vines were young and their wines somewhat………..well, non-descript. Not sure what I expected but I wasn’t impressed and effectively took a hiatus from Niagara for awhile. That was a mistake. A perfect example of this is Angel’s Gate Winery. I traveled there with The Director many years ago as they had just broken ground on their spectacular chateau-styled winery building. At that time, without considering the path that’s needed to get to great wine, I thought that they might have been a bit ambitious. No longer. Age of stock, experience or both have led them to making some of the nicer whites on the Beamsville Bench. But, I still didn’t give them any street cred with reds. While that changed with a sniff and sip of the 2012 Angel’s Gate Mountainview Merlot #299172 $18.95. I’m suggesting that, if you are a California cab lover, that this is not going to be ‘big’ enough for you. But, I believe that ‘big’ should be power not just heft. And, this wine has a nice balance of power (intensity of black fruit, complexity, solid nose) and bite without being heavy or ‘too’ full. I could stand around with this wine pre-dinner, drink with some porkish meat, or just have it with a cookie before bed. What type of cookie? Well, the merlot would play beautifully off a chewy white chocolate chip, macadamia nut cookie. Oreo? Don’t make me laugh. Well, unless you are one of those disgusting people that break them apart and then scrap off the filling with your teeth before eating the cookie wafer part by itself. I admit it might work with the deconstructed Oreo, if you’re so inclined.

cantineferriAnd, just ‘cause I can, another wine from Puglia that I had while there last year. 2008 Cantine Ferri Oblivio Nero di Troia #380600 $19.95 is a “deep somnabitch” or so my notes say. Just layer after layer of dark, herby, leathery stuff. A bit farm smelly for those that shy away from smelly wines – BTW, I love ‘em! If I was drinking this tonight, I’d open a bit early to gain some integration and then have with a Mediterranean veggie pizza (which I actually had last night, drat). Plus, remember, it would add uva di troia to your Century Wine List.


Recent Discovery:

DNmalbecWandering the aisles aimlessly the other day, attracting the attention of consultants, secret shoppers, and weird Buddy, I found what looked like a familiar friend – 2011 Nieto Senetiner Don Nicanor Malbec #178657 $18.95. I’m not sure why I thought that I’d had it in another movie. The name Don Nicanor just sounded familiar, is all. Sometime when I recommend Malbec, people give me feedback that it’s a bit too heavy for them. Maybe it’s the modern fruit forward style we usually find. Maybe it’s the high alcohol content which seems to accompany Malbec. Well, this one has a lighter profile despite ABV of 14.5% which is pretty high for me. In the mouth, it has ever present acidity, solid dark fruit, and a nice smoky finish. I was pleasantly surprised after being disappointed that Don Nicanor and I were not old friends. Drink this with some hearty fare. As I take another sip, I have it – it’s an Old World Malbec! That’s it. If you like Cahors, you’ll recognize it in this wine. Vineyard character, a bit of dirt on the nose.

Wine that I’m going to pick up:

queylusThomas Bachelder makes some of the more interesting pinots that I’ve had recently. He is a pinotphile in the greatest sense – making Burgundy pinots, Oregon pinots (very highly recommended here), and Niagara pinots under his eponymous label. He also makes pinots under the Queylus brand. I’ve never had these and am going to make sure I get a bottle of their 2011 Domaine QueylusTradition Pinot Noir #392738 $29.95. It’s reviewed well (Tony Aspler – 92) but more importantly, his style is what has impressed me. Now, we’ve all had and loved Meoimi pinot from Belle Glos and the Wagner family. But, our tastes have changed, haven’t they? Big, sugary, thick pinots don’t do it anymore, do they? Anyone out there? “Of course, they don’t Bill.” That’s better. I mean when Tony Aspler uses the terms “floral grace notes”, I’ve heard all I need to spring for this wine. Finding that $29.95 is a bit stiff? Well, if you’re like Ken, you just buy it and stash it for a special occasion.

Images courtesy of


Don Nicanor -www.nietosenetiner.com.ar

What I Did For PD Day – Red Daily Slosh

22 Apr


2010 Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni #145920 $21.95  In 2010, this wine has returned to its fantastic 2007/2008 phase from its really, really good phase in 2009. I seem to recommend this wine each year because……..I like it a lot. The price point might dissuade a few of you more comfortable with wines in the $9 – $15 range, particularly when they are labels you know and trust. “What if it isn’t me and I just plain don’t like it? What if I’ve wasted my money on a recommendation of someone I don’t even know, despite how incredibly brilliant he sounds?” So, here I am making my case for why you should try stuff that might be out of your comfort zone or price range once in a while. I went to the movies last week as part of PD day activity for a 10 year old (won’t admit what we saw………The Croods) and came out $38 poorer. Now, I went to the movie simply on the basis of who I was with. So that’s $38 for time spent with someone I love dearly. Did I worry that it might not live up to the $38? “Nooooooo!” Did I worry that I might not understand it – it being a cartoon movie and all. “Nooooooo!” Did I eat all the popcorn? “Yeeeesss!” I had a blast. There is a point and it is: Buy This Wine! It’s got all the spice and purply fruit that Toscana can deliver, plus a little leather and it’s easy drinkin’ right now – balanced, softish tannins. Almost perfect. Quaff with tenderness and affection alongside someone you care about and you’ll appreciate it – just like I appreciated Nicolas Cage’s spectacular voice over work as Grug. That was sarcasm, if you didn’t recognize it in its typed format.

remofarinaripasso 2010 Remo Farina Montecorna Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore #056267 $19.95. My friend Michael R. went on a ripasso obsession run a few months ago and told me about this producer’s entry level ripasso. I ran out and….it was all gone, but this more serious ripasso from the same vintage and producer was in stock. This wine brings nice balance, full flavour and the smells of smoke and leather – full-on. The review in the release magazine says, “Stylistically, this is a stepping stone between Valpolicella Classico Superiore and Amarone Classico.” Maybe much closer to the former for me. You’re not ever close to Amarone until, oops, you are Amarone IMHO. It’s suitable for a stand around wine but would pair well to roast meats. If you’re a ripasso hound like Michael, hurry hard to your local this Friday or Saturday. Click on the link above for availability in stores near you. In fact, click on the stock number links for any wine featured to check stock.

susanabalbocsI have received hundreds of thousands of emails telling me my recommendations are spot on. The most (hundreds and hundreds) had to do with 2010 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec. People love this wine – mature beyond its years, full of dried fruits and balanced like Carl Walenda before the accident. Well, I was walking through my favourite Summerhill store a week ago and what do I spot but 2011 Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon #260919 $19.95. I like it when great winemakers put their name on a wine to declare that, “I’m proud of this wine.” Francisco Yellowtail’s efforts, par exemple. Susana Balbo creates wines for several labels and Dominio del Plata is her home base. This wine is all that the aforementioned malbec is but with a heart of very present tannins and an acidity level that begs for food. I think you could buy a case and sample over the next ten years. Sorry for the obviously inflated stats above – I was hunting sponsorships. Won’t happen again.

langagarnachaFrom the bargain files comes a Spanish red that is, well, a bargain. In the good old days (BTW, these are the ‘good old days’ of 2020), I’d always be gushing about a wine that cost $10 to $15 with a bunch stashed below ground. That price point ($10-$15) has been cluttered by wines that, frankly, seldom thrill me as individual wines; to the detriment of those that do show promise. When I think I’ve found something I tell you (Rosewood Sussreserve Riesling, Rockway’s Assemblage, etc.). Along comes Spain with a wine that’s complex, balanced, unique, and only $14.95 – 2008 Langa Tradicion Centaria Garnacha #194795 $14.95. The last Spanish Daily Slosh I recommended was 2009 El Halcón Old Vine Tempranillo #313783 $17.95 and my readers ran out and made it the biggest selling wine in history (sorry, couldn’t resist). But, it was good, wasn’t it? Very good – I still have a couple in the dark. The Langa Garnacha this week is so ready to drink. Where the El Halcon tempranillo had a bit of a bite to it, this wine is smoother, darker in flavour and colour, and much rounder. It’s incredibly busy in the glass and has a mouthfeel that tells you this has the benefit of some age. Love Spanish style wines? Get this! Would get by nicely without food – maybe while watching The Croods in Blu-Ray when it comes out. Don’t forget the popcorn.

SB TriompheCFI bumped into someone this week that used to work at Southbrook Vineyards (picture below – of the winery, not the person) and we talked about how well their wines have been received, over the last few years particularly. I love their 2011 Triomphe Chardonnay and the Framboise. This week, an organic, biodynamic cabernet franc from Southbrook Vineyards is featured. The 2011 Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Franc #275958 $21.95 will bring you a full blown New World cab franc experience but only if you pick it up. This wine is very flavourful (red fruits mostly with some interest in peppery, spicy notes) and has a nose that’s, as usual, powerful but a surprise, in that it’s fruitier – not covered up with wood or smothered in alcohol (13.3% ABV) like some. Plus a twist cap ready-made for picnics and third bottle of the evening openings – ’cause we all know how dangerous a sommelier’s corkscrew can get as the evening progresses. This wine will cellar for a few years, I think. Very nice to see organic and biodynamic practices making their mark in Ontario (I’ll try to feature when I can). And, if you haven’t had the Southbrook Framboise #341024 $15.95 over real vanilla ice cream or with dark chocolate, you haven’t lived on the Precipice of Delish!


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