Have you ever met a wine hacker? I have. Last week I found myself in a narrow brightly-lit room in a far-flung corner of the city, rubbing glasses with Argentina’s hippest wine bloggers at the grandiosely-named PinotBonarda Wine Hackaton. Now let me be clear; there were no geeky, unwashed techies in ironic oversized T-shirts here (ok, […]
We enjoyed this beautiful wine last night with sliced baguette and aged cheeses, including parmigiano (a great match).
Brunello must spend at least 2 years in barrels and cannot be released until the fifth year after harvest. A patient investment to produce an outstanding wine.
We immediately noticed its deep dark red. Complex notes of ripe black cherry and spice contribute to an overall classy and delicate wine. It is smooth as silk and yet has more body than many Brunello’s.
It elegantly makes its presence known.
A past star in Vintages, it has now moved into General List (LCBO # 434696). About $35. 10 Bonus Air Miles in April 2016. Great time to buy. Highly recommended.
I had the good fortune to visit the various Rhone valley wine regions for seven days. The areas within are visually beautiful. The wines of the North can best be described as elegant and delicate. In contrast, the wines of the South are rustic and full of personality. Probably my favourite wines of Planet Earth.
This has been one of the great experiences of my life. Share it with me.
The Rhône valley produces a host of exciting wines under various Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) designations. The major appellation in production volume is Côtes du Rhône AOC.
The Rhône is usually divided into two sub-regions, each with its own vinicultural traditions. The Northern Rhône (Rhône septentrional) and the Southern Rhône (in French Rhône méridional). The northern region makes red wines from the Syrah variety, sometimes blended with white wine grapes, and white wines from Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier grapes. The southern sub-region produces a large range of red, white and rosé wines, often blends of several grapes. The most famous appellation is Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Here are the links to the wonderful experiences of all seven days. Enjoy!
I don’t know about you, but personally, I’m not impressed often enough with the red wines people bring to the house when I’m entertaining.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful for the gift, and even more thankful that they’ve come so I can enjoy their company. That means a lot to me. But let’s face it, there are a lot of just so-so wines out there, especially reds. Part of the reason is that it costs more for the winery to make a decent wine than many of us are willing to pay. We should up our budget a bit.
We should up our wine budget.
This is the single most effective way to acquire better wines. Buy less often if you have to, at least your purchase will be enjoyable.
That said, I don’t want to necessarily place the burden on my guests to buy more expensive wines. Not cool. But maybe I can drop a few hints on great wine regions, eh? Yeah, I think I’m on to something.
Go for Wine Regions that Deliver!
Ok, so now for a little list of lesser-chosen wine regions that generally produce truly great wines (with one or two varietal suggestions from each). Some of these come at a slight premium, but won’t break the bank:
Kremstal, Kamptal, Südsteiermark, Austria (grüner veltliner, riesling, sauvignon blanc)
Abruzzo, Italy (montepulciano d’abruzzo)
Southern Rhône, France (Côtes du Rhône Villages, usually with multiple varietals, including grenache)
Languedoc-Roussillon, France (just about any type, especially grenache based blends, but don’t get the cheapest)
And now here’s an example of a Côtes du Rhône Villages that a dear family member brought over during the holidays. A delightful wine that impressed me immensely.
Domaine Grande Bellane Valreas Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010
A blend of 30% grenache and 70% syrah, this wine speaks volumes to the palate. My first impression is that it has a gorgeous palate, with complexity and balance. Not too much of any particular flavour nuance, not too intense with tannins. Just right. The deep colour and aromatic bouquet lead to wonderful flavours of dark cherry, plum and subtle spice within an elegant, yet slightly rustic overall presentation. It pairs beautifully with red meat, game, and a wide variety of other foods.
You may know the lovely Paranga red blend from Kir-Yianni, available in LCBO. A very nice wine at a price that’ll make you happy. Here are two more …
Yesterday I had the chance to taste two upscale wines from the estate with Lambros Papadimitriou.
Two Olives 2010
A dark beauty with ripe cherry, jammy red plum and blackberry/currant. Firm sweet tannins. This is an enthusiast’s wine. Complex, big and exciting! A blend of Syrah, Merlot, and Xinomavro from their Naousa vineyards.Available only from LCBO store #4, 200 Danforth Ave, Toronto or ShopGreekWine.com (about $35)
A deep red blockbuster with aromas of leather, plum, blackberry and smoke. Flavours follow through similarly with additional notes of black tea and earthiness found in some of the world’s great reds. Very firm tannins. This is truly a spectacular wine; you’re in the presence of greatness with this one. Its personality makes it oh so fitting for Autumn enjoyment (but I’ll gladly drink it any Season). If you open it now (vs cellaring it), give it a lot of air and it will sweep you off your feet.
Diaporos is “single vineyard” from block #5 of the Yianakohori vineyard; 92% Xinomavro, 8% Syrah. 22 months in French oak barrels. Aging potential: 10 + years. You’ll thank me if you do this, but please send me an invitation when you open it!
(Classic tasting notes: vanilla, tropical fruit, nuts, subtle apples and butter)
It is the primary white wine of Burgundy. One of the most popular wines in the world. Other than its home in Burgundy, the best Chards come from Washington State, Ontario and California. You can find it un-oaked, allowing the native characteristics of the grape to shine, or aged in French or American oak barrels. French oak imparts a milder flavour than American. Watch for distinct aromas and flavors of butter, tropical fruit and a hint of apple in most Chardonnays.
Viewpointe Estate winery makes a very nice bottle of wine. Here is the schedule of Vintages releases in LCBO for 2016.
February 2016 through summer:Cabernet Merlot Balance Pointe 2010. A premium Bordeaux style wine that showcases an Ontario winery’s ability to make a world class red wine. Outstanding red for the enthusiast. In selected stores [LCBO stock by store].
May 14:Cabernet Franc Focal Pointe 2010. One of the best Ontario Cab Francs I’ve ever tasted. Will feature as the local find (Astrid’s Picks) and a full page in Vintages Magazine. 100 case release to about 80 stores [LCBO stock by store].
July 9:Pinot Noir Fine Pointe 2010. A purist’s Pinot Noir. Delicate and Burgundy in style. This will likely be a “great values for summer” feature. Very limited release to about 50 stores.
Sept 17:Cabernet Merlot Balance Pointe 2010. As noted above, this wine will be re-released in Vintages during Ontario’s month in LCBO, Period 7. There will be an EPIC (Essex Pelee Island Coast) wine region story published to coincide with this release. 100 case release to about 80 stores.
In addition to the above new releases, Viewpointe’s Big Bluff Red Blend, Big Bluff White Blend, and 08 “Big V” Cab Merlot are permanently available in 30 stores in the Windsor area and just the 08 Cab Merlot in about 50 LCBO VQA cluster stores.