Tag Archives: Tawse

Essentials Recommendations

10 May

A couple posts ago, I used a video of The Blind Boys of Alabama with Susan Tedeschi singing People Get Ready. I got a few responses saying that they had never heard Susan before. So, I’ve added another of her tracks above – a great John Prine song – great flute solo. Susan’s an accomplished blues guitarist and singer. Her main squeeze is Derek Trucks. How much great music must come from that house? Listen to it as you scroll.

On to the wine. Last week, I was asked by a golf buddy what would be a good red wine to take to a friend’s house for dinner. After I asked the requisite question about what the food was going to be (“Who knows?”), I kind of stalled. Oh, I finally gave a couple suggestions but I felt inadequate. Aren’t I supposed to know these kind of things off the top of my head? I think the issue for me was availability. What wines would be in stock and, ergo, a good recommendation?

The mothership has a cadre (over 100) of higher quality wines and spirits that are usually available in larger stores and they’re called the Essentials Collection. They range from Cristal Brut Champagne ($297) and Tignanello ($103) to Cathedral Cellar Cab Sav ($16) and Anselmi San Vicenzo ($17). It’s a broad spectrum but you should be able to find something that fits the occasion and your budget.

Budget Reds

Monte Antico #69377 $15.95 This is a food wine and it’s Italian. Meaning serve it with pizza, pasta with a tomato sauce, etc. Maybe even a mushroom dish. It has that bite that I love.

LAN Crianza #166538 $15.95 A $16 Rioja Crianza that carries the day. Perfect everyday medium-bodied red. I’m having ribs tonight and might pair them with this unless I get paralyzed down in the basement (so many choices) and end up bringing up something else. If you can find the Viña Real Crianza @ $18.95 – grab a couple bottles as it is very nice as well.

kaikenKaiken Malbec #58339 $14.95 This is a good value Malbec for those that love that grape. I know there are cheaper ones out there but step away from the Fuzion and make a very little step up price-wise to this much better version.

Mid-Range Reds

Muga Reserva #177345 $23.95 If there is even a hint that your guests or you, for that matter, like Iberian wine, this is the the ‘go to’ choice from Essentials. Consistent and typical Rioja cedary goodness. Food or just plain sipping.

Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon #193573 $22.95 If it’s VQA you’re looking for, this is a great example of Niagara Bordeaux red. A hint of green pepper but not distracting from the dark fruit. Good steak wine. It’s tasty.

tenutacastigligoniMarchesi de’ Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni #145920 $21.95 I have recommended this wine so many times that I can type the name without checking the spelling. Pure Tuscan goodness. Spicy and fabulous with a simple lamb dish.

Honourable Mention

Wynn’s Coonawarra Black Label Cab Sav, Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir, Espãrao Reserva, E. Guigal Côtes du Rhone, Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon

Budget Whites

Anselmi San Vicenzo #948158 $16.95 If you like the vibe of whites from north-eastern Italy (Soave), grab this one. A perfect paring would be sun and friends.

Willm Reserve Riesling #11452 $15.95 An extra dry Riesling from Alsace. Stony, citrus. Great food wine.

Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontés #1834 $13.95 I couldn’t forget Susana. This is her entry-level Torrontés. I think it’s the perfect grape for sipping.

Mid-Range Whites

cloudy bayCloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc #304469 $32.95 The SB that started the whole Kiwi love-in. Powerful, clean, gooseberry. Perfect with grilled seafood. It can handle spicier, heavier fare – maybe even blackened grilled fish.

Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay #545004 $21.95  BC wines are available in short supply here. So grab a bottle of this judiciously oaked Chard. Perfect with chicken, salmon or for just you and your imaginary friend (never drink alone).

Henri Bourgeois Les Baronnes Sancerre #542548 $25.95 This would be a nice counterpoint to the Cloudy Bay above. Both SB’s but totally different styles. This one is restrained, minerally, and better with cleaner foods – like scallops or salads. Friends that winter in Florida start their evening imbibing with a white, frequently a Sancerre. Good sipping.

Honourable mention

Mer Soleil Chardonnay, Tawse Quarry Road Riesling, Malivoire Chardonnay, Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc

Rosé

Malivoire Lady Bug #559088 $15.95 Have recommended this almost every year. I’m typed out on it.

So, if you need a wine that’s not from the General Listing aisles – something with a little cache, wander to the Vintages section, search these out and please let me know what you think. After all, I am all alone and appreciate contact with the outside world. Well I’m alone except for my imaginary friend, that is. Clink, clink.

Cheers.

Bill

Rosés For The Dock Edition and A Single Guilty Pleasure

28 Apr
cottage3

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”

Antibes

Antibes

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.

Cheers.

Bill

Visiting Niagara Region Day 1 – #SundaySips

17 Apr

This was playing while I composed this and it seems appropriate…….’cause we are taking the car or bicycle to Jordan.

Spring has finally arrived.

And Spring deserves a road trip. My favourite road trip that doesn’t require a road map for me is down to Niagara to visit some of the most underrated wineries around. “How underrated are they?” Well, I get the Wine Enthusiast and Wine and Spirits and I can’t remember when they have ever mentioned a Canadian, let alone Niagara, wine. Decanter did a  nice piece with a Canadian wine on the front cover. But generally, Niagara is the Rodney Dangerfield of wine. Even here in Ontario, I have friends who wouldn’t consider a wine from Niagara regardless of my strong recommendation – they just don’t even want to try it – they know they don’t like it. Let me repeat that – “regardless of my strong recommendation”. Are you shitting me? If I, Duff, recommend it, you can abso-friggin-lutely count on the fact that…………….I’m going to like it a lot. And, by extension, maybe you will too.

I get the lack of air play and respect for Niagara, I think. Low volumes, low brand recognition, strong competition in all categories, and many of their better wines’ price point. There’s lots of noise for a wine consumer to navigate.

I want to provide a bit of a guidebook to a tour of Niagara. And after you’ve taken it literally (or in the comfort of your own home) and sampled their offerings, you make up your own mind.

As I see it, Wineville Niagara is laid out like this – there are the wineries you visit on the way to or from (Niagara Escarpment/Twenty Valley) and those that you visit when you have unloaded your stuff in a lovely inn or bed and breakfast in or near that tony village – Niagara-On-The-Lake. If you try to mix it up, there are issues related to time pressure, confusion, wrong turns, marital discord, and potential DUI convictions. Trust me – I know this. And, it’s important to sample wines from both of these larger chunks. So, don’t miss either.

The lens I’m using is one that takes into consideration travel time (assuming a couple days at least) and the experience that you’ll have (both wine and atmosphere). And, it’s my blog so these wineries and dining places are from my own experience and are tailored to my palate and taste. There are 88 wineries in Niagara and some will be horribly disappointed that they don’t get a mention on this heavily subscribed blog but here’s a hint for them: it’s easily rectified with an invitation to a tasting/tour and free swag for Duff. After all, I am that easily bought. Here we go.

Before we start, make sure you’ve done a little research. I’ve listed one solid resource at the bottom of the page. For restaurants and accommodations, of course, there are the usual suspects TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc. Also, I’m trying out a new app called Winery Passport. Let me know if you use it and opinion.

First Day (on the way to NOTL)

A good mix of wineries from large to artisanal, from Riesling to Pinot to Viognier to Chardonnay. I’m somewhat travelling towards NOTL from Hamilton:

Leaning Post – 1491 Hwy 8 Stoney Creek, ON Tel: 905-643-9795 http://www.leaningpostwines.com Artisanal winery – taking grapes from small plots throughout the area. Great Pinot Noir, Chardonnay but also make Gamay, Riesling. Up and coming.

rosewood

Rosewood Winery

Rosewood Estates Winery – 4352 Mountainview Road, Beamsville, ON Tel: 905-563-4383 http://www.rosewoodwine.com Lovely winery situated amongst several others (Angel’s Gate, Thirty Bench – so you could kill a flock with one stone). They have an apiary and make mead as well as very nice Riesling (MS), Pinot Noir, and Merlot. And, they had a senior dog when last I was there. I pay attention to this kind of detail. Check to see if they are having a wedding there before you go.

Daniel Lenko Estate Winery – 5246 King Street West, Beamsville ON Tel: 905-563-7756 http://www.danilelenko.com Great Old Vines Chardonnay, Heritage, Merlot, and a few takes on Viognier which are interesting (many barrel and bottle aged e.g.. 07’s and ’08’s available) family style presentation, family run grape growers from way back. Great down home vibe.

Vineland Estates – 3620 Moyer Road, Vineland ON Tel: 1-888-846-3526 http://www.vineland.com Beautiful  tasting room/reception centre, tour, etc. Exceptional restaurant. Specializes in Riesling for my money although other varieties are available.

The Malivoire Wine Company – 4260 King Street East, Beamsville ON Tel: 1-866-644-2244 http://www.malivoire.com I wrote about Malivoire here. Chardonnays, Gamay, Foch, Rosé.

Tawse Winery – 3955 Cherry Avenue, Vineland ON Tel: 905-562-9500 http://www.tawsewinery.ca I wrote a bit about Tawse here. They make exceptional terroir-driven Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and Cab Francs. Solid Riesling too.

Flatrock Cellars – 2727 Seventh Avenue, Jordan ON Tel: 1-855-994-8994 http://www.flatrockcellars.com I wrote about Flat Rock here. They have a beautiful reception area, reasonably priced and tasty Chardonnays, Pinots, and a great Riesling (Nadja’s Vineyard). Great vibe. You can see all the way down to the lake and across to Toronto on a clear day.

Westcott Vineyards – 3180 Seventeenth Street, Jordan ON Tel: 905-562-7517 http://www.westcottvineyards.com A family-run boutique winery specializing in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. You can read what I wrote about Westcott here. I believe that on weekends in the summer, there is a nice bistro-like place to sit and get some local food.

creeksideCreekside Estate Winery – 2170 Fourth Avenue, Jordan ON Tel: 1-877-262-9436 http://www.creeksidewine.com Summertime weekends (check web site) there’s a great casual bistro – The Deck – that offers light stuff. Good place to pause particularly if you are cycling. Creekside has a counter-culture vibe. To that end, they grow and make Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz (not even calling it Syrah which is de rigeur here).

Bonus Coverage: Dillion’s Small Batch Distillers – 4833 Telford Road, Beamsville ON Tel: 905-563-3030 Yes there is a distillery in Beamsville. Dillon’s makes exceptional gin, oak-aged Canadian rye whisky (white), vodka, bitters, and absinthe.

Note: All wineries, and Dillon’s, charge a tasting fee. In most cases they waive that should you purchase. If you want to be sure, ask.

Where to Eat

OnThe Twenty – 3836 Main Street, Jordan ON Tel: 905-562-7313 Can’t recommend this highly enough. Exceptional takes on classics and seasonal, local stuff. Upscale

Vineland Estates – Address above Tel: 1-888-846-3526 ext. 33 Inventive cuisine, good pairing program. Upscale

Jordan House Tavern – I wrote about this here. Traditional roadhouse fare. Craft beers, local wines.

Where to Stay in Jordan

Inn On The Twenty – 1-800-701-8074 http://www.innonthetwenty.com Upside is that it’s in Jordan which means quiet and close to wineries. Downside is that there is limited nightlife.

Where to Stay in NOTL

riverbendinn

Riverbed Inn

http://www.vintage-hotels.ca  several upscale establishments. My fave is The Prince of Wales – good dining room, spa). These are all upscale.

River Bend Inn http://www.riverbedinn.ca (winery, a bit out of the town, beautiful setting, exclusive feel)

Oban Inn http://www.oban.com Lovely inn rebuilt from the ruins of the original that burned down a decade or so ago, good dining

BranCliff Inn http://www.brancliffinn.com (close to the theatre and main drag)

Bed and Breakfast There are a zillion bed and breakfasts. I’d recommend one of the heritage homes on a side street or down by the river

Resources:

Wineries, local map, info: http://www.winecountryontario.ca/niagara-escarpment-twenty-valley

In a couple weeks in another #SundaySips, we will explore NOTL or Niagara-on-the Lake

 

 

 

Family Day For A Wino – #Sunday Sips

27 Mar

family

There’s an artificial holiday in Ontario called Family Day. I believe Don Getty while Premier in Alberta was the first to think that we wanted to spend time with our family. Seriously? What family do you live in? Eventually in Ontario, politicians didn’t want to appear anti-family values, so now we too have a Family Day here.

The Director and I took the opportunity to head to Niagara for a quick look see at some of our favourite wineries. It was a shitty day weather-wise and promising to be horrid by nighttime – sleet, snow, freeing rain.

First stop was just off the QEW on the outskirts of Grimsby at Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery. I don’t believe that I’ve spoken about this winery.  They have an exceptional restaurant in an old Victorian house with the winery Visitors Centre in a newer building. The tasting room (below) is generously appointed with the usual tasting bar, knick knack displays, hewed wood beams, etc. They have a pairing menu of artisanal cheeses and/or chocolate. FYI, most wineries in Niagara and all that I’m mentioning here have a reasonable tasting fee ($5 – $10 which is $1.50 US) that they wave with purchase.

penridge

Tasting Room at Peninsula Ridge

Reds

2012 A.J. Lepp Vineyard Reserve Merlot $18.95 I tend to shy away from Niagara single variety Bordeaux wines – they just don’t seem to get ripe enough – showing green pepper too much. This Merlot had but a hint of that – telling you it was Niagara born. Full-bodied, plummy with firm tannins. Needs time or a long decant to really open up.

2012 Reserve Syrah $24.95 That’s right a Syrah from Niagara. You’d think that it would thrive here. But only a few wineries grow it. This was far and away the best of the wines I tasted at Peninsula Ridge. Peppery, smoky, balanced, solid tannins, long finish. Loved it! I bought but only one bottle as this was the start of the day and, alas, gave it to my sister-in-law as part of a birthday present. Which means I’ll have to return soon.

Whites

2009 Beal Vineyard Chardonnay $18.95 Pen Ridge has a very successful non-oaked Chardonnay called Inox #594200 $14.95 usually available at the LCBO. This one, however, was touched by oak. Nonetheless, the thing that I noted most was the acidity on the finish – not large oak influence. Apples, citrus. A very nice Chardonnay for patio and potato chips.

Peninsula Ridge’s web site: www.peninsularidge.com

Next we trundled to Jordan for lunch. We ate at a new (at least new to us) eatery called Jordan House Tavern right on the corner. Now, you might ask, “What corner?” Well, you clearly haven’t been to Jordan. They’ve done a really nice job at the place. Refurbished an old warehouse-style building. Menu a bit of a blend of roadhouse and English pub. Good selection of craft beers and local wines – I enjoyed a local 20 Valley Cream Ale with my wings – it screamed, “Cottage!”

Then it was off to some more wineries. We stopped at a couple places (nothing notable) en route to Tawse. This is one of my faves – the wine is just so consistently excellent and the venue, staff, etc. are top drawer.

Here’s a great video on how they operate. Take some time, watch it and you will want to head there to taste what they create. Lauded by Decanter magazine, Canadian Winery of The Year multiple times.

Whites

2012 Tawse Estate Chardonnay $37.95 Tawse Chardonnays have a kinship with those of Burgundy. In fact, Tawse has vineyards there. This white was perfectly ready to quaff. Melon, apple, and some oak influences on the nose and in the mouth. Long, lip smacking finish.

2012 Tawse Quarry Road Chardonnay (certified organic and biodynamic) $35.95 This was notably more mineral in character than the Reserve – almost stoney in places. More restrained on the oak influence. Certainly not Chablis in character but definitely leaning toward ‘less is more’. Loved it!

They had a half case of Chardonnays unavailable in single format that The Director decided she needed. Looking forward to cracking one for our Easter dinner today. FYI, the case held- 2011 Beamsville Bench, 2011 20 Mile Bench, 2011 Celebration Chardonnay (this wine was served at the i4C in 2015, I believe).

Reds I love Tawse Pinot Noirs and may have expressed this opinion several times on these pages. They are structured, lean, powerful, and even I can pick out the nuances of the different cuvèes. Which, according to the video above, is the goal here.

2011 Tawse Quarry Road Estate Pinot Noir (certified organic and biodynamic) $34.95 Spice, liquorice, and menthol on the sniff and the swish. This is quite mineral with darker red berries – big, smoky and a long finish. Great effort!

laundry2011 Tawse Laundry Cabernet Franc #130997 $31.95 OK, I know I’ve sung the praises of the Burgundy varieties at Tawse. But, really, if you want to get a sense of the winemaking, this is the test. This is an Old World Cab Franc. Bursting with life both in the glass as you swirl and sniff and then – pow – you get a hit of the mint and black berries. This is Sean Penn – intense, a bit rough around the edges, purposeful, story telling. Love it! Needless to say, it was an expensive day at Tawse.

Off we went with our car listing a bit due to the extra weight. West on King Street and a hard left up the drive to another of my faves – Malivoire. Malivoire has a cool vibe. Where Tawse is somewhat opulent, formal, Malivoire is more playful, experimental. The winery is set into a hill with a quonset hut styled metal roof. This allows a gravity fed operation. Malivoire hit it big a number of years ago with a unique bottling – Old Vines Foch. It became a cult wine. They’ve since got everyone to pay attention to their overall prowess and the many different wines they craft. I seem to annually recommend their Ladybug Rosé #559088 $15.95 (having as a pre-dinner sip with Easter dinner) and Guilty Men Red #192674 $15.95 but tasted other wines this time.

Malivoire tasting room entrance Spring

Malivoire Tasting Room entrance Spring

White

2011 Mottiar Chardonnay $29.95 Tropical and toasty on the nose (I’ve seen ‘brioche’ used but definitely not confident in that until I’ve brioches a bit more). Vanilla, roundish stuff in the mouth with a nice crisp finish which was a surprise given the smoothness of the rest.

2011 Chardonnay $19.95 Although this wine is available at the LCBO #573147, I’m not sure of the vintage currently in stock. I kind of like this better than the more expensive one above. Can’t put my finger on it. This might have a little more zip in the mouth. Flavour profile as far as fruit and oak elements very similar but less tropical more apple. More food friendly. Not that I didn’t love the other – just saying’ for $10 less, I could get 5 bottles of this instead of 3 bottles of the other. Oops, let the cat out of the bag.

2013 Rennie Vineyards Christine Chardonnay $35 I don’t quite understand the relationship between Maliviore and Rennie. Rennie is a family owned and operated vineyard on the Bench, In any event, there clearly is some symbiosis of vineyards if not cross-pollination of staff as well. This wine is a beaut! Can we talk? Frequently New World Chardonnays are one-dimensional – they’re naked, they’re not, they’re round, they’re crisp and acidic. This wine defies some of that. I don’t claim to have a sophisticated palate. For instance, I can’t tell the difference between Maduro tobacco and just plain tobacco. Or, Montmorency cherries from, well, regular black cherries. Mea culpa. This wine, however, helped me to relax and just let it come to me. There was an overall feeling of bon ami. OK, what it really tasted like was a bit tropical – pineapple – an alcohol bump (14%ABV), and the best finish for the whites we tasted that day – medium length, citrusy. It’s a warmer wine than the others, if that makes sense.

Red Here’s where it gets fun at Malivoire. I mentioned above the Old Vines Foch. Let’s start there.

Background Note: My father was a home fermenter. He made wines from anything that could be constituted as fruit – dandelions, sour cherries, etc. But, he also was part of a cooperative venture that purchased fruit from Niagara and everyone got together, drank last year’s stuff (I was a DD) and crushed, fermented, and eventually bottled their wine together. I remember his Marechal Foch bottling as, well, almost the same as all his other bottling – hint of sulphur, very fresh, fruity and light. And not to speak ill of the dead, but it was pretty lacklustre. Not suggesting that my friends and I didn’t poach a few of each case – just sayin’. Now, fast forward to Malivoire’s 2013 Old Vines Foch

2013 Old Vines Foch $24.95 I remember this wine in previous vintages was one of the most unique reds that I’d ever had from Niagara. This doesn’t disappoint on that score. In the gurgle and swish, it feels French to me – Southern France – kind of Grenache-ish. And I love Grenache!  ABV 12% which avoids any heat – chocolatey goodness. You get a sense of power with this wine. I love it now like I loved it before (Fleetwood Mac lyric? Help me here). Dad, wish you could taste it.

2014 Small Lot Gamay $19,95 Gamay might be making a comeback. I read a great review of a Cru Beaujolais by a fellow blogger, Jim VanBergen, you can read it here. To paraphrase, Jim sang the praises of natural wine and how smashing a particular naturalBeaujolais from Morgon was. I also read a piece in a recent Wine Enthusiast about Gamay now being made in Washington. Interesting to watch the ebb and flow of the popularity of grape varieties. hard to keep up. Malivoire has three Gamay bottlings – a single vineyard (Courtney – $25.95), a generic ($17.95), and a Small Lot. The Small Lot is a fun, fresh cherry bomb. This is all about the fruit with just a hint of grassiness hiding on the finish. I bought a few and am waiting for the first Spring weather day to open with apps – yes, I have an app for Gamay. Chilling this wine for a few minutes wouldn’t hurt and would add to it’s refreshingness. Refreshosity? Refreshmency? Love this wine!

We left Malivoire, raced down the QEW to overnight in Hamilton just beating the freezing rain. Watched it all from our room with one of our purchases chilled and popped. I like Family Day.

That’s our day. In the next month or so, I’m going to put together my ideal wine tour of Niagara so that you can benefit from my swings, misses, and home runs.

Cheers.

Bill

 

Holiday Advice – Part Deux

19 Dec

Last year I featured Bing and Bowie as an awkward couple. This year I thought we’d examine another unusual pairing. Think about it. Arguably the best female voice of all time and the guy who gave us Delilah – a song about an angry man stabbing his g/f in a fit of rage. Talk amongst yourselves.

This is the second part of three posts offering some recommendations for wines a little out of the ‘daily’ range. The first installment can be read here.

Pinot Noir

gravityPinot Noir may be the most personal of all wines. Some like them lean and under the tank top – muscular, others like ’em softer and round. I’m in the first camp. So, here goes. In Ontario, there are many great local pinots. You could start with 2012 Flat Rock Cellars ‘Gravity’ Pinot Noir #1560 $29.95 an earthy, darker-than-pinot, fruitful wine. Bigger on the nose than usual for this wine – probably 2012 showing through. Lovely wine. Another Ontario gem is any pinot by hardiepnNorman Hardie. Prince Edward County, Norman Hardie in particular, instills a very different take on pinot than Niagara. The 2011 Norman Hardie Unfiltered Pinor Noir #125310 $39.00 is a cherry tea stained long drink of pinot. What does it remind me of? Earl Grey tea – it’s tea alright but not the same. This is pinot but not the same as pinot. Complicated but worth getting to know. I’m heading to The County in the New Year and can’t wait to visit some of their exciting wineries.

Oregon has a very classic take on pinot. Lovely stuff. But, we are disadvantaged with limited selection. I couldn’t find any that had anything but a scattered availability in the province. I read other bloggers that talk about the breadth of choice they have with Pinot Noir in America. Alas, we have many more Burgundy available – which means we can go broke early and often. However, a non-Sonoma ‘go to’ calerapinot for me is Calera – which we do have. The 2012 Calera Pinot Noir #933044 $33.95 is a great introduction to a world of California pinot that isn’t ‘one-dimensional’ like the lower priced entries seem to be. I find you need to stretch the budget a bit particularly with pinots. Calera has several single vineyard offerings too that we get each year – the Jensen Vineyard being my fave and a wine that you don’t want to open because it just gets better and better with time. The one above is their entry level and is ripe, red fruity, earthy, and very accessible. Good value.

rdbgcIf you prefer a more Burgundian take and you don’t want to get a second mortgage, I’d suggest a bargain cru – Beaune Teurons 1er Cru. I call it my ‘Go To Cru Crew’. But, I see that there are but a few available. Another time. So, what to splurge on? Well, the 2012 Roche de Bellene Vieilles Vignes Gevrey-Chambertin #240242 $56.95 is dark and a bit wild but easy to understand, if that makes sense. I bought a couple and mistakenly opened one right away to find, as I knew that I would, that it wasn’t ready for prime time. Duh. Buy this for someone that has or is building a cellar.

akaruaAnd no, I didn’t forget New Zealand pinot. There are a bunch but let’s get some focus. The 2012 Akarua Pinot Noir #79541 $37.95 is a lovely Central Otago pinot. It’s not shy with red fruits and a lovely seam of acidity. Extremely food friendly. Go ahead and splurge on this one. Low risk – high reward. The minty, herbiness would match a sage turkey perfectly. I think that I’ve just talked myself into it. Damn, I hate when that happens.

Pinot recap – all but Roche de Bellene ready to drink and all good matches for turkey dinner.

I headed up these sections by varietal. But, I probably should have simply provided some whites, reds, rosés and bubblies instead of going the varietal route. Well, live and learn. At least tying Chardonnay to Pinot Noir makes some sense. Right?

Chardonnay

mersoleilOaky chards don’t get a lot of love these days. But, I still like them if there’s some balance and I don’t have to pull slivers of oak out of my tongue. A biggerish Chardonnay is the 2011 Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay #958975 $34.95. It is decadent (so, delete the “ish” above) with a hint of butter and some citrus on the nose but pure tropical fruit and butterscotch in the mouth and on the finish. We like the buttery ones here and this is a staple down below – that would be my basement. It works with creamy chicken stuff and the turkey if it’s not a spicy treatment but more trad. If you want to buy local, pick up the 2011 Tawse Daniel Lenko Vineyard tawsedlchardonnayChardonnay #344796 $44.95. This is made with grapes from the old vines at Daniel Lenko. I’ll tell the story of my visit to Daniel Lenko another time. Suffice it to say, the place is unique among the array of wineries on the bench. Blend Lenko’s grapes with the Burgundian leanings of Tawse and you get a Chardonnay that’s a bit more Old School than the one above. Pure tropical fruit and apples on the nose joined with some of the oak induced butter and vanilla in the mouth – a mineral echo on the finish. Love it. The Mer Soleil is Janis Joplin; the Tawse – Joan Osborne. Both great styles – substantial, full of flavour and nuance, just different.

Classic white Burgundy is around but scattered availability. It can be pricy. If you want to partake of the classic Burgundian Chardonnay, I’d suggest two approaches: Chablis (minerally, stony and crisper – lovely stuff – look for 2010) and Meursault (a little rounder, nuttier, and deeper – pricier as well). I haven’t tasted any of those that I see on-line and, frankly, there aren’t many. Ask a consultant at the store for advice if this is your leaning.

Now, I’m off to The Morrissey for a craft beer (or two). Have a great weekend!

Part Three: first of next week

Try Something Different – The White Daily Slosh

24 Oct

If I’ve posted this video before, I don’t apologize. Love the Joe, Love the horns. Saw him live last year with my son – brilliant! And loud too. Turn up your speakers, hit play and listen while you read.

As I mentioned in my last post, there aren’t a lot of wines from this release (October 25) that I’ve had the pleasure of tasting in the vintage offered. And, despite the advances of winemakers both in the vineyard and the shop, vintage matters in all but the most mass-produced wines. I’ve added a Vintages Essentials choice to fill in. The Vintages Essentials wines should be readily available in most mother ship stores.

sketches rieslingI haven’t included Tawse Winery in my series of Previously Unexplored Wineries because, well, they were never previously unexplored. I’ve been dropping in there since I started the wine thing. Love their cab franc, pinot noir, and chardonnay. Did I mention the pinot? Cool spot with great staff. One of my coolest wine gadgets is a turntable (or as my mom called it – a Lazy Susan) made from one of their barrel heads. Tours used to be somewhat impromptu – not sure now if that’s the case but a great way to spend an hour or more. They also make great riesling that seems to get lost in amongst their other offerings. Their entry level stuff is in the Sketches of Niagara line. Their 2013 Tawse Sketches of Niagara #089029 $17.95 is a medium sweetness effort but I have to say that the acidity that it carries dampens much of the sweetness – barely off-dry to me. It’s well balanced, has some citrus, not any of the kero that riesling (particularly older) can bring. I just tasted it – not drank it – didn’t have with a meal. But, I’d say some type of Thai or fusion cuisine would match well. If you are attracted to riesling with clearly present acidity (the title of a new Tom Clancy novel about winemakers threatening world domination )– this would be a perfect pick up. Good juice. And, even though I won’t be talking about Tawse in a special installment, you need to go see them. Tell them I sent you. Maybe I’ll get samples.

yviognierThere are some labels that seem to hit the mark more often than not. That goes for Yalumba’s “The Y Series”. It comes in at an affordable price and is consistently good value. In this market, we usually get the viognier and the shiraz/viognier blend every vintage. But this is the White Daily Slosh, so I’m talking about the viognier. Topic: Viognier – what the hell is it? Talk amongst yourselves. Viognier is a grand old grape that made its name in the Northern Rhone with a wine that might be the most sought after white wine in the world, Condrieu. Qualification: if you are a grand cru Burgundy dude or dudette, you’ll be chasing something else. But, even you’d have to admit that Condrieu is special. In the Northern Rhone, viognier is even planted with syrah and used in the famed (and delicious) Côte Rôtie, a red wine. Unfortunately for we mere mortals, Côte Rôtie is a bit expensive too. Anyway, over the last decade or two, viognier has been planted further afield and used as a single varietal in Australia, California, and the south of France (primarily the Languedoc). My friend, Andrew – he of the charcuterie fetish – loves viognier and, frankly, turned me on to it. Where was I? Oh, the Yalumba. This week, there’s the 2013 Yalumba The ‘Y’ Series Viognier #624502 $16.95. This is a little more French in style than last vintage – not as busy or round for me. I like this better, more straight ahead and I liked the 2012 a lot (as did J & O). This is maybe a bit more food friendly (some backbone) but I love viognier all by itself too. Good effort. If you trend to full bodied stuff like creamy, oaked chardonnay this may be a gateway wine to riesling and sauvignon blanc.

pacoWe are off to Spain next year. Some time in Cataluña, Rioja, and, if I get my way, Rias Baixas chasing down some wines and grabbing some sun and great food. How to prepare? Explore Spanish wines and food. I picked up the 2012 Paco & Lola Albariño #350041 $18.95 to reacquaint myself with this juicy grape. This is a salty white wine. It reminds me of a Kiwi sauvignon blanc on the nose – grapefruity. I had it with a mango salad with shrimp and it battled the lime-chile dressing to a draw – a refreshing wine that doesn’t lose its appeal just because we had a frost warning last night. Distinctive bottle. I realize that you aren’t to wear white after Labour Day. But, it is simply fine to drink dry crisp white wines like this and rosés, for that matter any time of year. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of this wine available so “Act Fast”, as the commercials suggest.

Vintages Essentials

There’s pinot grigio in the Essentials aisle all right. And, although I’m a wine agnostic, I can’t go there. I apologize profusely (well, not much actually) that I can’t comment on pinot grigio offerings in the Vintages Essentials library. So, click away if you’re jonesing for some of that pg.

balbocriostoorontesNow, for the rest of you. If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll know that my favourite woman of wine is Susana Balbo. I’ve never met her despite my stalker-like emails and incessant LinkdIn requests. Come to think of it, my LinkdIn account is dormant. I like her winemaking style. Her entry level stuff is varietally true and simple. The higher level wines get specific and hooked on to the land a bit more. This is one of the former. The 2013 Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontés #001834 $13.95 is focused and citrusy. It’s a great value for white wine drinkers who like a wine to have some weight and expression. I like its smell. That doesn’t sound quite how I intended it. The wine has a lot of power in the glass after a swirl or two. Big sniff – lovely. If you take this to a party, probably no one would have tried a torrontés wine before – you’ll gain style points.

Images courtesy of – http://www.vintages.com

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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