Tag Archives: Vintages Essentials

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

Election Night – The Red Daily Slosh

21 Oct

Municipal elections are taking place in Ontario this upcoming week and I thought that this video sums up the coverage that we’re likely to get. If I lived in Toronto, I’d know who the Silly Party candidate is. Hell, everyone in North America knows who that is. Although we have candidates here in London vowing to stop the waste, shut down the gravy train at City Hall, and save the hard working taxpayers of this city……..oh, about a billion dollars, is all. So, maybe Toronto isn’t alone with Silly Party candidates. My election night beverage choice? High test – single malt. You need real alcohol to survive this stuff.

This week’s release (October 25) features Tuscan “Trophy Wines” and wines from Chile. Guess which ones cost the most. Using ‘trophy in this way seems to intimate that the wines are beautiful but perhaps hollow as in ‘trophy wives.’ Not exactly the vibe they were looking for, I bet. Regardless, it means that we won’t be talking about the Ornellaia or Luce but I will find you some decent ‘daily’ sloshes. And, because there aren’t many reds that I’ve had that I’d also recommend, I’m going to add a wine from the Vintages Essentials program. Vintages Essentials should be available in all but the smallest stores.

amplusStarting south of the equator with Chile, we find the 2010 Santa Ema Amplus Cabernet Sauvignon #076307 $19.95. This is a pure “New World” cab sav. It’s got some oak both on the sniff and in your mouth. It has classic black currant scents and on the finish and some spice as you swish it around. It’s a smooth yet determined drink – lots of power and a bit of heat (14% ABV). I’d like it with elk burgers, steaks, or something warm and cozy. OK, I have no idea what goes with elk burgers never having had them. It does sound exotic though doesn’t it? “Serve at 62 degrees F. with organic elk burgers, ancho chile aioli and lightly dusted and fried Jerusalem artichokes”? Nice spicy steak wine.

BordonAbout this time last year, I recommended the ’04 Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva. I loved its maturity and food friendliness among other things. This year, the ’05 vintage is on shelves. The 2005 Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva #114454 $22.95 is one of those wines that you fill up your tasting note with – so many different scents and flavours. That doesn’t mean it’s confused (or that I am), just full of experiences and nuances. Like the ’04, this wine is very accessible and smooth with maybe less tannin and acidity – incredibly drinkable. A wine that needs food and friends. Come to think of it, all wine needs friends. That’s why I have an imaginary one. Friend, that is. It allows me to drink wine more often. This wine would develop further over another few years, if you want to see what it becomes when its more experienced. I still have a couple ‘04’s that I’m waiting on.

Biggest complaint I receive from my long suffering listserv peeps is, “Bill, what’s with the price creep? You used to recommend all sorts of wines around $15. We don’t like to spend so much on wine. We’re not winos like you.” Mea culpa both on the ‘wino’ label as well as the price creep. But, let me explain why that might be – the price creep, that is – the wino thing would take awhile. This week’s release features Tuscan wines that average about $40 each. The rest of the offerings may not be so expensive (California aside) but still exceeding the $25 limit on average I have for the “Daily Slosh”. And, this is somewhat normal for the New Arrivals or New Release wines. I have taken to buying cheaper wines in the hope that they will come around again and I can talk about them. That’s real sacrifice on my part but I do what I can for you. In the interim, I’ll try to make sure I mention at least one choice that isn’t over $20. And, I’ll mention some General Listing and Vintages Essentials wines to fill in the gaps as needed.

palaciosremondoThis week there’s one of the Perennial “Best Value” wines arriving. The beauty of the 1012 Palacios Remondo La Vendemia #674564 $16.95 is that it’s not expensive, it’s readily available a couple times a year in this market, and in this vintage, it’s really really good. If you like Garnacha and I really do, you’ll love this. And, surprise, if you like Tempranillo and I really do, you’ll love this. It’s got the personality of both of these grapes showing through. Tannins soft a la Garnacha and acidity, herbal notes from the Tempranillo. This would be a great stand around and party red wine. A host/hostess gift? Now, if you’re a New World red gal or guy, maybe you’d want some food with this – nah, you’d love it by itself too. Let it breathe a bit before you quaff.

Vintages Essentials Selection

cettoYears ago, I picked up what was then my first Mexican wine. Well, it’s still my only Mexican wine to be truthful. Trying new regions, new wines, new grapes and blends provides such a great experience. Even if you kind of decide that it isn’t your cup of wine, you still get to sip something from somewhere else, made in another important tradition. A privilege really. Oh yeah, years ago…….I tried this wine and thought, “Wow, really? This is from Mexico and isn’t a margarita ingredient or illegal?” Even more important was that this wine was pretty good. Well, a few weeks ago, my friend Rod had me to dinner and opened the 2011 vintage of this wine and almost apologized for the commonness of the wine (price equating to commonness – which is not true). It was still as good as I remembered the olde vintage! The wine? The 2011 L.A. Cetto Petit Sirah #983742 $11.95 (yes, I said $11.95 and we’re not standing at Trader Joe’s in Omaha) isn’t Fuzion. I repeat, “This isn’t Fuzion”. Which is a good thing, right? Not sickly sweet and thick. A wine that improves with some air, it carries some herbal notes, some tannins and acidity in the mouth but all pretty balanced for a wine at this price point. I liked its spicy goodness – with a steak or sausages on the grill? – something fatty for sure. Rod and I had it with steak – well, we started the bottle as the steaks were being prepared (Chet Baker in the background) and, surprise, it was done before the steaks were served. But, I bet it would have been a match.

Images courtesy of:

L.A. Cetto, Rioja Bordon – http://www.vintages.com

Santa Ema Amplus – http://www.santaema.cl.en

Palacios Remondo – http://www.winealign.com

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