Tag Archives: viognier

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

Zaftig It’s Not – The White Daily Slosh

16 Aug

LenkoOVChardA few years ago, a friend and I were traveling in the Niagara area and she insisted we track down Daniel Lenko Wines. She was my boss, so we did. She’d heard that they were spectacular and hardly available except through the winery itself. I’d heard that they were on the wine list at Sussur Lee’s restaurant which creates some substantial street cred. We arrived at a farmhouse sans sign (I mean no signage at all) just slightly off the main road by Beamsville. When I say farmhouse and you think of an old Victorian brick under spreading elms, forget it. This was a fifties cement block foundation brick home with cement steps and an iron railing to the side door. Steel farm buildings and farm equipment hard by the door. We were greeted by a rather largish but very friendly dog (have I ever said that I love dogs?). And, as a response to the barking, an older woman, who we later found out was Daniel’s mother, Helen, greeted us wearing an apron. She encouraged us to come in and taste some wine. She was experimenting in making latkes from an old Canadian Living recipe. We sat in the kitchen and talked with her while we waited for Daniel. And, we got to taste the latkes. I could recount the whole story but you get the idea. This is not your usual tasting room and not your usual winery. Tasting fees? Are you kidding me? The wines are as special as advertised. This week, 2010 Daniel Lenko Old Vines Chardonnay #352328 $22.95 is available through the mother ship. This is a great representation of what mature Niagara vines and an experienced winemaker/vineyard manager can create. It’s been in oak – so has lots of the buttery stuff that comes with that. Soft flesh fruit aromas (I think others may call peaches, apricots and such “stone fruit” – will look it up for next time) lurking under that on the nose but very evident as a flavour in your mouth. Solid finish and a little bite. Great stuff and made for food. If you are ever down that way, drop in and find out what all the fuss is about.  www.daniellenko.com

hermitcrabLast week, or was it the month before last, I’ve lost track, there was a viognier on the White Daily Slosh. It had a bit of Marsanne in it. A reader and fellow blogger, shirazrat, told me that if I liked that one, there was a great representation of that blend made by d’Arenberg – The Hermit Crab. I tried to track down a few bottles then but it wasn’t around. But as if someone’s ears were burning, someone was reading our minds or fate stepped in or maybe just a strange coincidence, we have that very wine available starting Saturday – 2011 D’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier/Marsanne #662775 $18.95. This is a very smelly wine – I mean good smelly – aromatic just like our friends on the Vintages panel suggest. I think that you’d like it, if you prefer a white that is a bit ‘funky and hedonistic’ as shirazrat suggested. Thanks for the tip! It can go solo quite comfortably or you might like some lighter fare that has some bite to go along with it.

yalumbaviognierStaying down under, there’s a consistent performer that I always try to pick up. OK, was it only me who immediately went to the gutter? I’m waiting for some of you to catch up. What I meant is that there is a line of wines that I think seems to hit the QPR mark. That’s the ‘Y’ series wines from Yalumba. I like their Shiraz/Viognier blend, in particular. This week, there’s the 2012 Yalumba The Y Series Viognier #624501 $16.95. It’s pretty large without being overwhelming. The write up suggests that past vintages have been rather hedonistic but I didn’t find them too much so. I liked them. This one is fun not serious. Tropical fruit on the nose and predominant in the mouth. I think it would be OK with food, but I like it by itself with me alone in my office, considering yard chores, dinner preparation, my rapidly deteriorating golf game. You could have it as an alternative white choice at a stand around function. I think people would really appreciate the variety and a chance to try a blend that’s all too seldom offered. Get both of the whites above and try a viognier taste-off with friends. Even imaginary friends will do – works great for me.

eidoselaLet’s stay with the aromatic whites. I had to wait on this because I couldn’t get ahead of the curve and had to wait until today to taste. This week I penned a post about trouble. In it, I referenced the great marriage between Albariño and seafood. I think that has as much to do with why I like it as the wine on its own. This week, there’s a 2011 Eidosela Albariño #336271 $13.95. Seafood – fried (less so), grilled (now we’re getting there), or raw (bingo!) and you get the match for this wine. Oysters, scallops, clams, sashimi, I bet even ceviche would ‘like’ albariño on Facebook. This one has nice acidity, it’s crisp, spicy and still has room left for some lemon and stone fruit. Karen MacNeill in her great book, The Wine Bible says that albariño wines are “not as zaftig as chardonnay…..the best of them as light as gossamer on the palate”. So, if it’s zaftig you’re after, look elsewhere. It’s from Rias Baixas which is a Spanish DO right above Portugal and south of France by the Atlantic. In completing my deep research for this piece, I read in Wikipedia that the vines are trained on granite posts to avoid damage due to humidity. Hope to see one day.

From a label perspective, this post may have two of the coolest labels – Eidosela and Y Viognier. Nice to see them among all the Skinny Girls, Red Legs,  Naked whatevers, and animal caricatures. I can’t afford Mouton Rothschild but that doesn’t mean that my labels can’t be art.

The White Daily Slosh – Patio Time!

25 Apr

mountrileychardonnayLast time out, I talked about a sauvignon blanc from the New Zealand producer, Mount Riley. This week, there’s the chardonnay. The 2011 Mount Riley Chardonnay #032318 $17.95 won’t satisfy those that hunger for oak and buttery goodness. However, it more closely resembles chardonnay from its historical roots in Burgundy. Lots of typical chardonnay fruit – apples mostly for me – and a solid underpinning of steeliness or stoniness. That’s what reminds me of Burgundy – you know, one of those Louis Jadot entry level whites. Although good with food, this would make a great patio white before the days get too hot. After work, with friends, talking disparagingly about people that aren’t there. You guys know what I’m talking about – who’s not pulling their weight, how crazy the boss is, unreasonable expectations, “I think I’ll phone in sick tomorrow.”

 domainedegrenaudiereYears ago, when wine for me was what you drank if there wasn’t any beer or to impress others, I would very knowledgeably pick up an Entre Deux Mers made by Chateau Something Or Other as a guaranteed crowd pleaser – well, when the beer ran out. It was usually pretty good, actually, and priced right at about $1.80 a bottle. Does this ridiculous price indicate my advanced age? Let’s just say that I saw Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young live when they had hair. This week, there’s a Sèvre et Maine muscadet that represents the same value/experience proposition. The 2011 Domaine de la Grenaudière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine #326827 $14.95 brings lots of aroma and punch to a crisp finishing white. This wine goes great with snack style seafood – that’s peel and eat shrimp, grilled calamari, fish kabobs. And, like the wine above would make a great addition to any patio. Or, while watching Homeland with a bowl of Goldfish (original flavour). Remember you don’t have to wait until the beer runs out to appreciate wine.

ducadiquadriMy niece, Lauren, told me that when she shops for wine, she grabs a pinot grigio rather than wander the store pretending to know what to get. It’s easy shopping, she knows what it tastes like and appreciates it – a great formula for success with wine. I told her that I’d keep an eye out for a pinot grigio to recommend and there’s one on the shelves this week. The Duca di Quadri Catemario Collezione Privata Pinot Grigio #120782 $14.95, like its name, is longer on finish and flavour than your typical pinot grigio – a step up in quality and price from the entry level grigios. This is pretty good on its own, like most of these wines and brings us back to patios and gossip. Serve chilled to approximately 45.735 degrees F. Don’t fuss, just approximately.

domainedesaspesI tasted a viognier last night that brings the unique viognier experience to a well-priced effort – 2011 Domaine des Aspes Viognier #712638 $15.95. This wine shows you how viognier feels so round in your mouth at the same time as it brings a stoney character. Actually, that’s a brutal description – poorly written. It sounds like I’m describing Bedrock: Fred Flintstone (round) and Barney Rubble (stoney character). It’s just hard to explain without getting too weird like that. I think that viognier lovers like Andrew L. will appreciate this wine and those revisiting the grape or trying it for the first time will notice its balance, sneaky size, and foodability. It’s yummy – a perfect description! I’m thinking pick the others above for the patio and reserve this for indoors with food.

Rosewood Honey and Peaches – White and Sparkling Daily Slosh

27 Mar

2011_RieslingAn Ontario winery that’s making noise is Rosewood Estates www.rosewoodestates.com  near Beamsville. I wandered there a few weeks ago and tried some of their current offerings (Merlot ’10 which was brilliant BTW, Chardonnay Reserve ’10, 2 different Rieslings, and their mead). Nice winery site (not web but actual) and even prettier in real spring, I bet. And, they have a dog patrolling the tasting room, a senior dog at that – I love dogs. This week 2010 Rosewood Natalie’s Süssreserve Riesling #258806 $14.95 hits the shelves. This is a medium sweetness, medium weight white with citrusy goodness. Great with some Asian stuff (not too spicy). Add this one to your Ontario Riesling experience. You will be supporting a friendly, senior dog.

08_MRWhy the reference to honey above? Well, Rosewood Estates makes honey and that ancient potable, mead! I remember sipping a ‘Buck Five Come Alive’ called “Ancient Mead” in Rondeau Park while still in my early teens.  Yes, I started early and often and I’ll thank you not to point that out. It was syrupy sweet and whispered softly in my ear, “Bill, you will regret me but never forget me.”  Guess what? I did and I won’t. Well, Rosewood has made Ontario mead respectable again for me. I tasted the 2008 Mead Royale #296178 $15.20 (500ml) and was wowed. It was light, silky smooth, subtly sweet but not too and brimming with clover and, well, honey goodness. Great with desserts, I’m betting. Get acquainted with this superb Ontario mead. I just discovered that there’s not much available in the stores. So, darn you’ll have to wander to their lovely winery on a warm spring day (or buy it on-line – link above).

bertrandTalk about a happenin’ grape – Viognier is it. Restaurants are starting to stock and push it, sommeliers are creatively matching it, wineries are rushing to plant it and stores are starting to sell it in case lots. What’s the big buzz about? (Damn, I should have used that phrase when I was talking about the mead) I’ll tell you what the big deal is – Viognier is good, it’s got intensity, floral presence, peachy/apricoty things, and fragrance in spades. Oh yeah, and Andrew L. loves it! This week, I’m recommending a relatively quiet Viognier 2011 Gérard Bertrand Réserve Espéciale Viognier #147975 $15.95 – softish, peachy but still crisp. It’s from Languedoc where they are really jumping on the Viognier wagon. The patio will soon be open, fingers crossed, and this wine would be great with what you’d munch under the umbrella, talking politics, or re-hashing the current season of Hell’s Kitchen.

libschoolchardOn a number of recent occasions, I have neglected to recommend a chardonnay for the chardhounds out there. So, here goes. A couple of weeks ago, I recommended a 2011 Liberty School Syrah #942383 $18.95. I said that Liberty School wines were usually available, fun, had a nice price point, and a middle-of-the-road flavour profile that works for just about everyone. The 2011 Liberty School Chardonnay #960120 $18.95 fits that description. It’s full of flavour, has a little less oak than many Central Coast chardonnays, and finishes clean. Perfect for the coming spring. So, when you finish spring cleaning, pop a cork, grab a book and relax with this wine (I’ve queued up Nikolsky, Gone Girl, and Updike’s Terrorist – you?) .

sannaproseccoEvery spring, I recommend this prosecco. Why prosecco at all, you ask? Well, you love prosecco when you have it. Pathetically, you lie in bed at night and wonder why you don’t have it more often – maybe on its own or with calamari, cheeses, light seafood, etc. I might be projecting here. And, I think this one is right on target for those days and sleepness nights. Pick up a bottle or two of the Tenuta S. Anna Extra Dry Prosecco #169128 $16.95. It’s got loads of what prosecco has loads of – crispness and fun.

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