Tag Archives: Umbria

A New Year and New Red Daily Slosh(es)

6 Jan

I wanted to start the year with one of my favourite songs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a video of Joni Mitchell singing it but Diana Krall is no slouch, if you knowwhatImean.

Happy New Year to everyone! With resolutions in hand or, if you’re like me, already discarded, it’s time to stock up. There’s a movement that happens each Jan. 1 called “Alcohol-Free January” or some such thing. Really? I admit that maybe cutting back or abstaining for a while never hurt anyone. But, if you have to give it a name and a month, you might need to consider the next 11 steps. And that analysis means? Bill is continuing to sip during this bloody cold month. What kind of wine blog would this be if I didn’t?

This LCBO release is called “The Smart Buy Issue” providing some value picks.

vinarealWe are heading to Spain with friends in September for a wander. Maybe by design or just luck, I’ve been drinking a lot of Spanish wines over the past year. Love them. So, it’s neat to see some come around again so that I can talk about them. Now, hands up. How many of you picked up the 2008 Ondarre that I recommended late last year? It was an especially tasty wine. And, I’m not using that wine snob description to impress. If you’ve had some, you’re already impressed enough. There is disproportionate value in the many DO’s of España. The Rioja,  2010 Viña Real Plata Crianza #657411 $18.95 is a perfect example. Its fresh red fruit comes through on the nose and in the mouth. Enough of a backbone to stand up to some food – seafood tapas – quite smooth. Where the Ondarre had a background of woodiness, this seems absent of oak effects – steeliness Great sipper.

laplaceHave I ever told you about my friend Andrew? I think that I have here. And, without giving things away, he loves wines from the Midi and Southwest of France. “Been there, done that, luv it”, he’d say. So, when there’s a repeat from Madiran, I have to give him a heads up. The 2011 Laplace Madiran #103705 $16.95 is a sturdy red that should go below for a few years. It’s made from the Tannat grape which if you give it an intuitive thought….go ahead, I’ll wait……yup, it carries a lot of tannin. You might call them rough wines but we call them ‘gutsy’ which is more endearing and accurate. This one is deep, dark and rich. Still lots of tannins peaking through and hitting you on the finish. But on second thought, I like it now but with some decant.

CastellodiMeleto_ChiantiClassicoDOCG_bottleThumb2010 is a great year for Chiantio Classico. I’ve had a bunch and almost every one has brought bright red cherries, some earthiness and if I’m lucky a little leather, violets, and grit. This week, there’s the 2010 Castello di Meleto Chianti Classico #332114 $18.95 to join that longish list. Balanced, medium-bodied and fresh – that cherriness on the nose and in the mouth – a little shy in that it isn’t a big wine. Don’t wait on this – pop and pour with friends (imaginary or real). A nice easy drinking Italian red to sip from a tumbler with bread, olive oil, and tomato something or other

And while we’re strolling around the middle of Italy, let’s look to Umbria. Yes, that’s Ahhhhmbria. Lovely sounding word. A great place for values and home to the pretty hilltop town of Orvieto – just heard some montefalcoOrvieto stories last week. There’s a grape there that we don’t see that often here but keep an eye out – Sagrantino. What a great name for a grape ………..or a Joe Pesci role. Anyway, this red grape carries a thick skin (go ahead and tease it. Water off a duck’s back) and has a load of flavour. This grape needs some time in bottle and we’re in luck because the 2008 Villa Mora Montefalco Rosso Riserva #357079 $16.95 is, obviously a 2008. This is big, dark and full-bodied with a personality of herbs – anise in the mouth. Just think of this bottle sitting in a cave in Montefalco seemingly waiting for your corkscrew (please tell me it isn’t battery powered), glasses, and friends. This is the beauty of wine from a region with a zillion years of history. A heads up – another from this stable – 2008 Villa Mora Montefalco Sagrantino #342394 $21.95 which is a beaut is in short supply at the mother ship. A step up in balance, intensity and purpose from the Rosso Riserva.

If you’ve tried these wines, let me know what you think. My email is in the right banner or leave a comment below.

Bill

 

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.

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