Tag Archives: Washington

People Get Ready – The Red Daily Slosh

5 Nov

One of my best live music memories was seeing The Funk Brothers with my son at Ronnie Scotts in London several years ago. So, when I saw this video – great song, one of the all-time best guitarists, smoking vocalist, and it’s at Ronnie’s, I couldn’t resist. Who are (were) The Funk Brothers, you ask? Only the biggest selling band in the history of recorded music, is all. Go ahead and Google them, I’ll wait.

Winter blows in to town in these parts  for serious (last phrase un homage to my home town) in about a month. And that means stuff to do. The great thing about having all sorts of closing up and winter prepping chores is the reward at the end. I’m not sure about you but I like to work a glorious fall weekend day outside, cleaning gutters, bagging leaves, putting stuff away, and then coming inside to reward my hard work. The reward can be a scotch, a local craft beer, microwave popcorn, or a glass of wine. Sit by the fire and watch the squirrels plundering my newly filled bird feeder – bastards! What I’m trying to say is that there are all sorts of reasons to reward yourself with your favourite beverage or nibble. Solve that Sudoku? Pop a cork. Discover the origin and proper use of diacriticals? Pop a cork. Unblock your formerly blocked plug-ins? You got it. BTW, the part above about liking the weekend chores is B.S. But, the squirrel hatred is too true. Despise them above all else. The point? Pick up a couple bottles of those wines mentioned below and reward yourself.

caliterra2How many times have I recommended a carmenère? Technically, in wine blogger terminology, ‘a bunch’ is the answer. A bit more than ‘many times’ and less than ‘lots’ of times. Why that often? I like carmenère and, frankly, it’s my blog. The 2011 Caliterra Tributo Carmenere #56630 $16.95 was featured in the last release and is a bit of a surprise. Carmenère is usually dark, full-flavoured, full-bodied. This Tributo is more instantly approachable and not quite as heavy or full-bodied as I’ve come to expect from this grape. It has some herbal character and it feels more European than Chilean. I’ve got it – it’s not as ripe as the usual carmenere gang . Big flavour, no heavy mouthfeel. I really like it. Lip smacking acidity. At this price and versatility, it’s a case lot possibility.

bertrandcorbieresI’ve spoken about Gérard Bertrand before. I wanted to recommend his Saint-Chinian a few months back (still a few of those available at First Canadian Place and Oxford Street, London – fabulous, baby!) but must have run out of space or ambition. The May 2014 edition of the Wine Enthusiast had a nice feature on Gérard’s take on the Languedoc-Roussillon, his estates, and his wines. His own personal history as well as that of his wines is firmly rooted in Corbières and the village of Boutenac. He has grown his enterprise to include several parcels including Domaine l’Hospitalet, a wine tourism destination in the Languedoc – check out their jazz festival. I know that I raved about the viognier and the Saint-Chinian so maybe you’ll disregard the following as simple groupie-ness – heaven knows he is plenty cool enough. But, bear with me. The 2011 Gerard Bertrand Terroir Corbieres #394288 $18.95 is a recreation of the better red wines that I drank while in that region. Only it accomplishes all this without the benefit of the influence of a cool sidewalk bistro in Narbonne. It sheds some of the ripeness and confusion of many wines from Pays d’Oc that we’ve all had. It has a streak of stoniness in the glass but is pretty fruit-ful in the mouth – an interesting combination. Tannins evident but in the background. Dark, medium-bodied. Opens up quite a bit after awhile in the glass. Technically speaking, it’s yummy. But remember, I’m trained to use such terminology and I’m biased. It’s a GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre) and they all seem to be great cold weather wines. What’s that stew that I love but have never made? Cassoulet? That’s the match.


On The Twenty scallops

cavespringcfMy last post was about winery hopping in Niagara and I mentioned that we ate at On The Twenty in Jordan. I had a glass of local cab franc with my scallops (OK, it was two glasses but they were smallish). I know that cab franc and scallops doesn’t sound like a great match. My philosophy? Drink a wine you like with food you like and it will match up just fine. But, you would be right if you thought that the cab franc would be a bit too too for the scallops. That cab franc? 2012 Cave Spring Dolomite Cabernet Franc #391995 $19.95. The great thing? The Cave Spring tasting room and retail is connected to the restaurant. Of course I needed a bottle to provide a little remembrance of our great meal. This wine is an excellent example of Niagara escarpmentish cabernet franc. Medium-bodied and presenting more shrubby characteristics than fruit ones. Herbs, spices, a streak of acidity, and enough tannin to support it all against any meaty food. Actually, this wine needs food to show its stuff. Doesn’t have to be big food – scallops? Pass on the scallops and try a spicy chicken dish or something fattier.

HHH3A few posts back, I said that I’d provide some wines that have better availability through the Vintages Essentials program. Well coincidentally, I was reading a post on www.snooth.com about ‘go to’ steak wines. Different wine writers including The Drunken Cyclist and, I believe, Julia Bailey, weighed in with their faves. To my surprise, one writer picked the Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills (H3) Cabernet Sauvignon #210047 $19.95. Now, I don’t mean surprise as in “WTF are they thinking?” but more, “That’s actually an available, affordable wine.” I guess I was expecting everyone to talk about Silver Oak, Alexander Valley or a well-aged Left Bank Bordeaux. BTW, the latter I have but can’t bring myself to open. Who is special enough to share it with? Anyone? The H3 cabernet sauvignon is an elegant steak wine at an affordable price. Great hostess/host gifty or BYOB at a neighbourhood BBQ.

FYI, another good value red is 2012 La Posta Angel Paulucci Vineyard Malbec #075515 $15.95 a mid-weight malbec with some backbone.

Images courtesy of:





Kellylee Rides Again – The White Daily Slosh

5 Jun

One of the great songs done by one of my fav live performers. Hit play and listen while you read.

As I seem to point out each time that I post a White Daily Slosh, the WDS doesn’t show up as regularly as the RDS. Let me explain why.

I come to recommend wines through an empirical technique only used by a handful of the truly great wine writers. The method is called “le methode du Duffs” in the biz. I taste wines and then recommend those wines that I like and think that you’d enjoy. And that means, I haven’t tried every wine in each release. If you read my earlier post on swallowing, you’d understand that it wouldn’t be a good idea. Plus, I don’t ever get samples from the mothership and am not included in that lofty group who are invited to taste each wine pre-release. I’m sure that the LCBO really wants to address this oversight given the upselling that I do each week on their behalf. Simply put, I have tasted the wine either through earlier access here, at the winery, or in another jurisdiction. So, these are my best bets given what I’ve had – based on my tasting notes, such as they are. There will certainly be some great wines going unmentioned. And, if I’m recommending you try something based on other vintages, reviews, etc., I’ll mention that. So, why fewer WDS? Simple. I drink fewer whites than reds.

So, without further ado, Because we certainly have enough ado. Just the other day I was saying, “I’ve had about enough ado. Like watching the provincial election debate. Way too much ado. Not enough ah….don’t” These recommendations are for the June 4th release.

Marotti_Campi_Verdicchio_Luzano_2012_smallIt always puzzles me why pinot grigio is the ‘go to’ wine of so many. I defy you to find a restaurant that doesn’t have a pinot grigio as one of its whites by the glass. It’s not that pinot grigio is bad or unworthy of all the attention. Well, maybe unworthy of all the attention, yes. But, I’m not meaning to disparage the grape or wine. But, do you want to get crazy? Try the 2012 Marotti Campi Luzano Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore #375295 $17.95. This wine comes from the Marches region. Where’s that? Well, to quote the Friendly Giant look at the heel of the boot on the east coast and look up, look way up a bit more until you get to about the upper middle and there you have it, the Marches – east side of the boot about upper middle – right of Umbria. I predict it will become a ‘go to’ wine/food area. These verdicchio wines are usually crisp, dry, and recently are starting to round out a bit with fuller flavour. It’s this last part that makes this one perfect for sitting on the patio (minimum 30 SPF) with some Italian-style nibbles (prosciutto and melon, olives, bruscetta). There are some weaker verdicchios around, just like PG, but this one has oomph. If I were to say, stone fruit, would you all laugh and say I was pretentious, a wine snob wannabe? No? OK, some stone fruit – peaches? But, still crisp, fresh. Break the PG spell and venture to the Marches. Look out for verdicchio!

That’s all by the way of recommendations for wines that I’ve enjoyed. But, this release holds a few wines that I haven’t tasted that I think will be worthy of my investment based on past record or review.

chsmichelleAt our house, chardonnay is king. Or, should I say, queen? It is poured as an afternoon sipper, with chicken dishes, shrimp dishes, beef dishes, and, most importantly and frequently as a “work was a bit of a bother (read: it was a bitch) today. Get me a glass of chardonnay.” There’s nothing wrong with that. Drink what you like and like what you drink is a good motto for life. Come to think of it, it relates to the PG lovers that I slagged in the recommendation above. Sorry ‘bout that. Well, for this very reason, there are some constants in the basement: La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay; and, Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay from Washington. When I think of Washington, my mind does not jump first to chardonnay but syrah, cabernet sauvignon and riesling. But, this wine can change a person’s mind, can’t it? The 2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay #232439 $19.95 usually gives a ‘fresh’ first impression – then you get the fruit and a little bit of vanilla, oaky at the finish. It’s a good house style for those that like oak but also want some definition not just flab. Make sense? Anyway, I know that I’ll be buying a bunch of this for medicinal reasons – all of the 2011 gone. So, don’t make me feel awkward – get some for the chardonnay lover in your house.

moscatogirondaIf, like me, you need some wine around for those that like it a bit more fun and sweet, pick up some Moscato d’Asti. These wines come from Piemonte and are made from the same grape as Asti Spumante. But, don’t let bad memories of those wines sway you. This wine is frizzante – meaning less fizzy than spumante wines and a little sweeter. It’s a low alcohol, sweet, mildly fizzy white. I don’t favour sweet wines but I have to tell you that served with fruit dessert, this wine is usually perfect. This week, the 2012 Moscato d’Asti La Gironda #368746 $16.95 hits the shelves. I included this in a sparkly tasting once and those I-prefer-dry-only people actually quite enjoyed it served with assorted desserts. The low alcohol makes it a good evening ender instead of opening another heavy red or creamy white and wondering, “What was I thinking?” It could be a gateway wine as well for younger people. Get ‘em hooked on wine like this and then move them to Mateus from your guy on the corner. It will save them from Strawberry Samba and cake-flavoured vodka, maybe. Get your fizz on!

And, just ’cause I can – it’s my blog, here’s a neat dessert idea using bubbly that takes about a minute to prepare. Take parfait glasses and put in a small scoop of rainbow sherbet. Or, if you wish to bump it up a notch substitute un petit boule de sorbet from the same carton and pour a little bit of bubbly over glass to fill. Careful, it foams a bit. Serve with parfait spoons. We use Cava or Prosecco (Translation: cheap dry bubbly) mostly as the sherbet is pretty sweet already. Looks fab, tastes great, perfect on the patio after a Q.


Chateau Ste. Michelle http://www.vintages.com

Moscato d’Asti Gironda http://www.winesearcher.com

Verdicchio http://www.wineshop.com

Portugal Redux and the Red Daily Slosh

21 Apr

Spring weather shout out to the David Wilcox fans out there. You know who you are.

Disregard my earlier proclamations stating that Spring was here because today marks the real date. I mean, Spring Is Here, Baby! It’s glorious outside, windows open, birds chirping and my keyboard singing. If you’re looking for spring recos, check out my post on that very topic.

passerelaA post or two back, I reviewed a Portuguese red and stated that I was going on a hunt for good Portuguese wines. I opened another a week back – 2009 Casa de Passarela Reserva #365557 $18.95. This is from the Dao region which is a ways south of the Duoro river – sheltered and warm, it makes Mediterrenean style reds. This blend is predominantly touriga nacional, the most commonly used grape for port. I found it a bit closed and tight at first needing loads of air. I didn’t really let that stop me. And, once it got going, it provided some strong wood influences and purple fruit. Opaque, quite sophisticated, lots of energy, and I’d highly recommend if you lean toward Tuscan-style wines.

These recommendations are for the April 26th release.

threeriversThis winter I got away a couple times to visit our neighbours to the south, as we like to call them. It was decidedly warmer, cheaper, and, when you feel like you’re on vacation (and, don’t suggest that I’m on permanent vacation again) more fun. I had maybe a bottle of wine or two. One was a great Washington red – 2011 Three Rivers River’s Red #287433 $19.95. I did not pay $19.95 – or even an exchange adjusted $19.95 – way south of that. But, I digress. This is a merlot dominated substantive wine – not with fruit but its structure – solid tannins through to the finish, a bit dry at the start, a nice vein of acidity, and the fruit I get isn’t the normal merlot reddish fruits but dark and dirty ones – maybe the syrah and cab franc in the blend. The write up suggests steak and that seems bang on. This isn’t a standing around wine. I know because I stood around when I had it. Confession: sat around. Have with food. If you’re partial to California cabs, take a peek at this. I think it will please you and remember: eat responsibly.

momopnI have been disproportionately enjoying New Zealand pinot noir lately. Our Easter dinner this past weekend featured The Ned and Te Mania – both nice examples of entry level Kiwi Pinot . Which coincidentally is the sound I hear out my window right now. The northern shrike in spring – Ki….WI…Peeeee..no. This week, there’s the pinot half of the Momo label – 2011 Momo Pinot Noir #163972 $19.95. This is an organic product. Great pinot acidity, minimal oak effects except for the tea notes that I love, and medium bodied. This is indeed a standing around wine – gravitating to leaning around – on to sitting around. It was great with a simple shrimp pasta (butter, EVOO, and garlic) but you can just twist and pour and enjoy by itself. If you haven’t had New Zealand pinot lately, pick this up. If, like me you have, pick it up anyway. Momo’s sauvignon blanc is outstanding value as well.

villacafaggioI have had a few of the 2010 Chianti Classicos and, there wasn’t one that I didn’t like. Not sure if the consensus is that it’s a good vintage, great vintage or meh. But, I think that if you pay attention and Tuscany didn’t suffer from a flood or drought, you can find great Chianti Classico in most vintages. This just in – I did a little extra research and it was a ‘great’ vintage according to the pros. This beaut of a Chianti is one that I look for every year and keep a few in my basement that seem to age very well (still have a ’98) – maybe 10 to 15 years. The 2010 Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico #176776 $19.95 is a solid value as always – strong bones of acidity, easy tannins, and musty Tuscan scents and flavours. A friend that loves Italian reds would love this – so, MR, pick up a couple – one now and the other a few years hence. I love this! Pork roast. Actually, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll know that my food recommendations are a crap shoot. I presently believe that the ‘science’ of pairing is a bit overblown. But, I am open to arguments to the contrary. I find that if you love the wine and you love the food, you’ll probably like the match.

faustinoReaders’ feedback suggests that they are most interested in everyday priced wines. I have a splurge category but haven’t written much on splurges to focus on more affordable quaffs. I listen to my readers (all 7 of them). But, I just couldn’t ignore a stunningly elegant wine like the 2001 Faustino I Grand Reserva #976662 $32.95. A Rioja Gran Reserva must age at least 5 years, 2 of which has to be in oak barrels. Had this a year ago and it still carries lots of pep – not flabby or easy – still demanding your attention. I can’t really see how this couldn’t age gracefully (like Sophia Loren?) another five or so years. Wait that doesn’t sound right. Of course, we want Sophia to age for more than 5 years. Back to the wine – powerful and smoky, nervy, lipsmacking good. And, lots of fruit especially after the swallow –  long finish. If you’re a fan of shelf talkers, this one will probably have a 97 on the tag. And, oh yeah, it was Decanter Magazine’s Top Wine of 2013 (out of 3,200 wines tasted)! Sometimes, you spend a little extra and ask, “Why did I bother?” this will not invoke that sentiment, rather “Why didn’t I splurge for more than one?”


%d bloggers like this: