Saturday, November 22, 2014

Flowers and Turkeys

Peter, Paul and Mary sang: Where have all the flowers gone?  

Wild Turkeys -- Erin, Ontario

In wine terms the question becomes: How do conglomerates handle the tons of grapes and juices that remain following each vintage - the leftovers? Surely some Executive is charged with the responsibility of finding a way to turn these into a windfall? and I have to believe it's standard practice by now and, if needed, new technologies and additives are used to supplement and emulate nature. How many spin-off labels can be concocted to fill the shelf space made available by our marketing monopoly? Where have all the 'leftovers' gone? Are they now flowers or turkeys? Have they all been converted to reasonable wines? (it doesn't fit but I love the song!)

Any positive result turning leftovers into marketing successes is highly dependent on a skill that correctly anticipates what's in the blending vats and an ability to balance the proper components to turn them into consumable products. But how many winemakers willingly sell their talents to produce what often turns out to be saleable but artificial wines? That calls for a different breed of specialist, a biochemist perhaps, detached from terroir and the natural process of winemaking. 

There are many questions that puzzle me though - are there that many customers that drink plonk to warrant the level of subterfuge involved. But then how would these customers ever know they are being sold plonk? It's like a restaurant selling leftover turkey for grilled pheasant. Hey! The menu says it's pheasant. It's priced as pheasant. It must be pheasant! Unfortunately we have only one restaurant in the Province - and no way to question the veracity of the menu.   

Once the winemaker's job is done marketing folk add the finishing touches: 1) Attractive labels using names of associated wineries 2) Some kind words on the quality, something of sustainable viticulture and the geology - although perhaps it's wiser to stick to a short narrative on flavours and a food match. 3) A number of public and private events planned and reported by wine colleagues 4) Along with attractive labelling a heavier corked bottle may convey 'quality' or a screwtop, convenience? All this must be sufficiently distinctive not to present an alternative to existing labels. That's a tough order for any marketing team but they have a powerful accomplice.

By its nature this new marketing channel doesn't fit the 'above $100 bottle' price point where reputable wine consultants advise their clients. The retailer positions these marginal wines to compete with other like wines. I'll call this the 'leftovers price point', somewhere below $30.


An Irish Food and Wine journalist has concluded that roughly half of a long list of commercial wines (ref. 1), ie. those having substantial revenue growth in recent years, are 'complete crap' and 'a lot taste like alcoholic fruit juice'. I suspect many of these wines are from 'leftovers'.

Of the wines I've tasted recently 'roughly half' should not have made it to LCBO shelves. But then how can an organization responsible for sourcing wines for a market as large as Ontario be expected to exclude a large portion even if most would be analysed as 'crap'? And who can argue with the customer that wants to purchase these wines? The bar is set by an uninformed captive public.  LCBO testing practices ensure that Ontario customers won't be poisoned leaving reconstituted leftovers on the shelves as very profitable turkeys.

My opinion, Ww

Sunday, November 02, 2014

November 2014 wines - 15 Tasted of 15



Home Suite Home
Except for McManis Family Estate the remaining wines listed below were picked at random. Paired with the elegant decor of The Keg (North York) McManis' Petite Sirah could not have been a better choice for grilled ribs, steaks, and filet mignon topped with assorted seafood. This prompted a focus on the two McManis wines presently available at our local LCBO. When will our monopoly be releasing their Petite Sirah and over a dozen other McManis wines? Who knows!  If you see any on a wine list anywhere please let me know. 

Also, a wine to look for in the November 8th Vintages Release is Michael Davids 6th Sense Syrah 2012 (#394395, $16.00US, $24.95LCBO). My nephew says it's beautifully endowed.

Salut, Ww

 THE LINEUP: (Reds, Whites, Bubblies)

  • McManis Family Vineyards Zinfandel 2013, 90-1  --  V, Lodi, California, #256735  $19.95
  • McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, 90a-1  --  V, California, USA, #212126  $19.95 
  • Michael David 6th Sense Syrah 2012, 90  --  V, Lodi, California, #394395  $24.95
  • Daniel Lenko Estate 2008 Old Vines Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86 --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #075622 $30.05
  • Miguel Torres Cordillera de los Andes Syrah 2010, 83NR  --  V, Maule Valley, Chile, #389700  $19.95
  • Alamos Seleccion Malbec 2012,  82  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #322800  $16.95 
  • Aure Umoja Cabernet Franc 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  82 -- V,  Beamsville, Ontario,  #367557  $19.95* 
  • Fuzion Alta Reserve Malbec 2013, 80  --  G, Mendoza, Argentina, #135475  $9.95
  • McWilliam's Hanwood Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, 78  --  G,  South Eastern Australia, #214577  $15.00 


  • La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2012, 90  --  V, Santa Rosa, California, #158683 $25.95 
  • Paco & Lola Rias Baixas Albarino 2012, 88-1 --  V,  Rias Baixas, Spain, #350041 $18.95
  • Malivoire Musqué Spritz 2013 VQA Beamsville Bench,  87  --  O, Niagara, Ontario, #189670  $16.25
  • The Foreign Affair Enchanted 2013 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 87  --  V, Vineland Station, Ontario, #389767  $17.95
  • MOMO Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013, 83 --  V, Marlborough, New Zealand, #009167  $17.95 

  • Tawse Spark Limestone Ridge Riesling Sparkling Wine 2012 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 91-2  --  V, Vineland, Ontario, #370361 $19.95

      (V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)


TASTINGS:

AURE UMOJA CABERNET FRANC 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0%  XD  4g/L,  #367557  $19.95*  (Tasted November 14, 2014)


Released by Vintages on February 1, 2014. Reduced from $22.95.  My notes:  My opinion of a Cabernet Franc is as a blending grape to soften and uplift an otherwise aggressive or dense wine. There's an auburn tint to a charcoal hued ruby and a swirl brings a film that sticks slowly accumulating a rounded rim before releasing a curtain of reluctant legs. The fruit is a raspberry/strawberry with a touch of smoke. The first sip starts silky finishing with a metallic edge changing its character from fresh berry to spicy plum, from polite to a thin silk and from soft to fine tannins forming a long dry layer. Have with grilled bacon or a morning soufflé. Lacks sufficient boldness to pair with a savoury or spicy meal... a drink now. 82

PACO & LOLA RIAS BAIXAS ALBARIÑO 2012,  Rias Baixaz, Spain, 12.5%  XD  5g/L, #350041 $18.95  (Tasted November 10, 2014)


Released by Vintages - date not given.  My notes:  An empty bottle weighs in at 1.4lbs. A mid straw colour, green tinted and crystal in the glass. A full aroma of tangy apple and pineapple without sweetness, then a refreshing herbal and an unusual invitation to sip or as an accompaniment to sushi, a bento box of tempura greens and shrimp or grilled tilapia and basmati rice - great with chicken cordon bleu. Initial fruit fades slowly eventually leaving a neutral chalk on the palate. A moderate film recedes from a ragged rim leaving a clear surface. A drink now to be served chilled.  88

MIGUEL TORRES CORDILLERA DE LOS ANDES SYRAH 2010, Maule Valley, Chile, 14.0%  XD  5g/L,  #389700  $19.95  (Tasted November 21, 2014)


Released by Vintages on October 25, 2014.  My notes:   Bottle weight close to 1.5lbs - does not signify 'quality' nor ecology support. Purple edged with noticeable viscosity in the slow tears that form following a soft tilt. A strong berry noticeably sharp tolerated when complemented by matching flavours of the initial sip. Chalk dry tannins cover the tongue losing most of the fruit. Not a sipper unless repeatedly quaffed or accompanied with party sausage, stuffed mushrooms and the like. Was a match for a pork tenderloin stir-fry covered with a piquant sauce and rice risotto. Full-bodied, full-flavoured and a full warmth with each swallow, however the ending's full chalkiness and bramble are excessive. I doubt if further time will mellow this Syrah - not recommended.  83

MCMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013, California, USA, 13.5% XD 9g/L, #212126  $19.95  (Tasted November 7, 2014)


Released by Vintages on April 18, 2014.  My notes: A familiar purple accent to an opaque ruby on pouring. The nose quickly loses intensity subsiding to a pleasing medley of blackberry, black currant, vanilla, slight liquorice and a smoky edge. The first sip shines the teeth while presenting a silky crushed berry acidity - a sipper if party sausage, mini pizza slices are nearby and, as a meal red, with The Keg steaks or ribs, a Wendy's Burger, maybe liver & onions. The film is firm enough to leave a rounded rim then long legs. Leftover wine tends to show more tartness - an excuse to finish that partial bottle. Aerating mutes some of the acidity and is recommended. As the LCBO recommends - respond drinkably!.  90a
 
MCMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS ZINFANDEL 2013, Lodi, California, 13.5%  D  10g/L,  #256735  $19.95  (Tasted November 5, 2014)


Released by Vintages on October 25, 2014.  My notes: The first sip shows velvet and a latent fervour. Lots of depth warming as it spreads a blend of berries and vanilla. The colour is a dense ruby with a purple glow. A film sticks and quickly recedes to show a lacy topped soft rim. This must be sipped slowly for its  syrupy texture, soft fruit and fine tannins that continue through a long ending. Have with grilled English back bacon and multigrain toasts. Drink or cellar several years. Comes across as subdued unless given twenty minutes to develop in a broad bowl glass.  90

FUZION ALTA RESERVE MALBEC 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% D 9g/L, #135475  $9.95  (Tasted November 11, 2104)



A General listing.   My notes:  A regal ruby, deep and velvet toned leaving a moderate film dropping long legs. A second sample was aerated for comparison - both have a smoky leather with a plum/blackberry scent the aerated being a touch cleaner. Both have a dull liquorice, black fruit flavour not appealing as a sipper. As fruit fades finish becomes dry with tannin layer revealing more dull liquorice. An acerbic background flavour conflicted with grilled beef strips and sliced veggie mix. Aerating is not a solution. Not recommended. 80
 
MCWILLIAM'S HANWOOD ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011, South Eastern Australia, 13.0%  D 7g/L, #214577  $15.00  (Tasted November 17, 2014)


A General listing.  My notes:  A charcoal hued ruby colour and a viscous film eventually running long slow legs. There was no noticeable improvement with aerating. A persevering acidity starts with the first sip and continues to dominate through a long extra dry jammy finish. A strong berry-like liquorice flavour overpowered my taste buds and for several minutes I was unable to stop sneezing. The liquorice continued to build becoming reminiscent of 'road tar' and continuing through the finish . I set aside the remainder of the bottle for a sauce to go with barbecued ribs. 78

DANIEL LENKO ESTATE 2008 OLD VINES MERLOT VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D, #075622 $30.05  (Tasted November 23, 2014)


Purchased from the Winery:  My notes:  Last tasted June 29, 2013 and rated 91. A polite red with a raspberry scent to greet the nose, smoky on the side and pleasingly tart. A moderate film sticks then runs long fast tears. Dry, medium-bodied, having a depth to carry flavours and a penetrating acid without fading for a long finish. The colour doesn't appear as bright as in 2013  with a hint of adobe showing - flavours are not as rich for sipping. A match for sliced pork with a light basmati sauce or chicken chunks with pineapple and sweet potatoes. A hurry up and drink now. 86

MALIVOIRE MUSQUÉ SPRITZ 2013 VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara, Ontario, 9% MS 35g/L, #189670  $16.25  (Tasted November 17, 2014)


Release by Vintages.   My notes:  Originally listed at $19.95 this is now shown as $16.25.  The 2011 vintage was tasted in April 2013 and rated 87: the 2009, in April 2010 at 85 and compared with SoGrape's Vinho Verde (NR) (#141432) at $8.95.  Bubbles show immediately on pouring and an aroma of grapefruit, vanilla cake and citrus suggests a festive occasion - but it needn't be. Light on the tongue but bright on the palate this white paired well with roast pork tenderloin and would with other mild dishes: pork, fish or breakfast sausage - or just sip on a warm afternoon. There's a touch of sweet and a slight chalk in the finish - nicely balanced for a social drink now -  serve chilled . 87

MICHAEL DAVID 6TH SENSE SYRAH 2012, Lodi, California, 15.0% D xg/L, #394395  $24.95  (Tasted November 9, 2014)

Released by Vintages on November 8, 2014.  My notes:  Nicely packaged although a bottle weight of 1.38lbs questions the winery's ecological support and LCBO's price uplift of $8 drops it below a 'Value' level.  There's a deep purple hue and a swirl reveals medium-body as a full rim quickly disintegrates into slow running tears. A just-detectable sense of crushed blackberry invites a sip. There's a wow factor contrasting delicate nose with a flavour burst combining fresh berries, red currant, balanced acid and fine tannins. A luscious xdry finish continues to embellish this wines' character. Serve with a savoury T-bone or braised beef short ribs or just sip. Cellaring several years could bring forward what's hidden today. Try it.  90

LA CREMA SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY 2012, Santa Rosa, California, 13.5%  XD  2g/L, #158683 $25.95  (375mL, #728352 $15.95, Released by Vintages on November 8, 2014) (Tasted November 15, 2014)


Released by Vintages on July 24, 2014. My notes: Keeping within my budget I chose the half size bottle for this tasting. A brilliant yellow in the glass and showing a light but sticky film yielding tears that expand into short legs as the rim falls. A spicy citrus leaning toward a tangerine/ grapefruit pith scent adds interest as a sipper for Chard lovers. The first sip brightens the palate with lemon lime followed by a layer of fine chalk going into a long extra dry finish. A citrus push adds to the interest. Chicken slices on a mound of rice risotto with a sweet Asian sauce paired nicely as would most mid-eastern dishes. A drink now with good cellaring potential. 375mL not a value at the LCBO price. 90

THE FOREIGN AFFAIR ENCHANTED 2013 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland Station, Ontario, 12.0%  XD  18g/L, #389767  $17.95  (Tasted November 11, 2014)


Released by Vintages on November 8, 2014. Rated 88 by Rick Van Sickle (May 2014).  My notes: It's difficult for this to be XD with a sugar level as shown. A blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 45% Riesling that glows like polished crystal with a mild yellow colour. The nose has elements of tamed gooseberry, citrus and tarragon, not one scent being dominant. The film is light leaving a jagged rim to slowly recede. Sugar level is well balanced with a polite tartness - 5g/L sugar level is more like it. This one is to sip then savour slowly allowing roundness and subtle flavours to develop before a moderate, dry finish. Pair with grilled halibut, cod or shrimps with green vegetables. A drink now.  87

MOMO MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.0%  XDs  3g/L, #009167  $17.95  (Tasted November 16, 2014)

Released by Vintages on November 8, 2014. A Seresin Estate wine.  My notes: A tarnished gold showing bright in a wide bowl with a film that spreads thinly quickly forming long legs from a rippled rim. Served chilled the taste has a touch of burnt toast, a tart lemon zest and a dry herbal aftertaste, interesting but insufficient fruit for balance.  An acquired taste as a sipper needing some nibbles: stuffed mushrooms or prosciutto wrapped asparagus or pair with Arctic char, Pickerel filets or seared scallops w/diced tomato & spaghettini. Serve chilled and watch for changes as aromas carry into flavours into finish starting dry and ending drier. A drink now. 83

ALAMOS SELECCIÓN MALBEC 2012, Uco Valley, Argentina, 13.5% D 7g/L, #322800  $16.95  (Tasted November 13, 2014)


Released by Vintages on October 25, 2014. Rated 90 by Luis Gutierrez (April 2014).  My notes: Shows ruby with a deep pink edge and a smooth film that starts to build a rim but slowly falls as a curtain separating into long legs. A mild scent of cinnamon adds to that of smoky young berries. The first sip, aerated, brightens the berries adding fine tannins and a touch of flat spice for a finish. The second sip, non-aerated, is more of the same with any difference undetectable. Light-bodied (thin), smooth and bright when quaffed with an appealing tartness - complement with a hamburger or pepperoni (no cheese) pizza. Drink now. 82

TAWSE SPARK LIMESTONE RIDGE RIESLING SPARKLING WINE 2012 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Vineland, Ontario, 11.5%  D  11g/L, #370361 $19.95  (Tasted November 18, 2014)


Released by Vintages on November 8, 2014. Rated 89 by Sarah d'Amato (April 2014). My notes: Tasted in May this year I was impressed with the delicate tree fruit flavours balanced with texture and depth. Only a few months now to see if anything has changed. A profusion of bubbles on pouring covering the surface with a layer of white. This quickly subsides but continues to effervesce tickling the nose on that premature first sip. A citric sharpness slows the pace with some pear but overall less fruit in the nose as remembered - a puckering dryness, XD, and a long mineral finish. More Spanish than French... perhaps it'll turn the corner in the next year.  Have with chilled oysters, a Tempura filled Bento box or Teriyaki chicken slices on rice risotto. A drink now to several years cellaring.  91-2
 

 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Beppi's Picks October 9 2014 - 6 Tasted of 6





A long time reader of Beppi Crosariol's column in the Globe and Mail I still go back to his picks for the occasional tasting. His October 9th column had an Italian focus exposing some of Italy's lesser known grapes: negromaro, cortese, grillo, freisa and nero de Troia. Grapes that produce some of the most dense reds with great depth and crisp clean whites, sometimes raw but always interesting and steeped in history. More articles published at Beppi Crosariol.


I've entered Beppi's (BC) rating in the LINEUP below. Two whites and four reds should give an idea of tasting points of view. 

THE LINEUP: (Reds, Whites, Bubblies)

  • Schola Sarmenti Roccamora Nardo' Negromaro 2006, 92-2  --  V, Puglia, Italy, #379768  $17.95 (BC90)   
  • Fontanafredda Raimonda Barbera d'Alba 2012, 87a-1  --  V, Piedmont, Italy, #023135  $16.95 (BC89) 
  • Torrevento Vigna Pedale Castel Del Monte Riserva 2009, 84ac --  V,  Puglia, Italy,  #208256  $22.95  (BC90) 
  • Borgogno Langhe Freisa 2012,  81(NR)  --  V, Piedmont, Italy, #388660 $21.95  (BC88)


  • Fazio Aegades Grillo 2012, 89-1  --  V, Erice, Italy, #388637  $17.95   (BC90)
  • La Chiara Gavi di Gavi 2013, 88-1  --  V, Piedmont, Italy, #383612  $15.95  (BC88)

         (V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)

TASTINGS:


FONTANAFREDDA RAIMONDA BARBERA D'ALBA 2012, Piedmont, Italy, 13.5%  XD  6g/L, #023135  $16.95  (Tasted October 24, 2014)


Released by Vintages on October 11, 2014.  My notes:  A pronounced dusty red cherry with a liquorice taint and a film that falls in tatters. The colour is purple hued ruby and the first sip cleans the palate leaving a metallic grip - less austere when aerated. The finish stays a long while having fine tannins and a thin flavour remnant.  Nicely balanced and full in the mouth this would make a sipper with a complement of sausage pieces or hard cheeses. Pair with anything savoury - the extra dry finish isn't that alluring if left without food too long. Cellar several years for a smoother touch. 87a
 
TORREVENTO VIGNA PEDALE CASTEL DEL MONTE RISERVA 2009,  Puglia, Italy,  13.0%  D  11g/L,  #208256  22.95  (Tasted October 29, 2014)


Released by Vintages on October 11, 2014. Gambero gave this red 3 glasses of 3 in his 2013 Edition of Gambero Rosso and Beppi Crosariol gave it a 90.  My notes: Two aspects of this red convinced me to aerate before sipping: it's from Puglia and it's a red. The fragrance is on the floral side of liquorice with a touch of jalapeno. The first sip has a bright acid tang, is smooth, full-bodied with a subdued burnt cork long on the palate and a process driven ending. A charcuterie of Italian cheeses and cold meats would pair nicely or an Irish Stout Stew, a chili bean soup or bbq'd beef ribs. Keep for several more years then serve at room temp in wide bowl glasses - could rate a couple of points higher.  84ac
 
FAZIO AEGADES GRILLO 2012, Erice, Italy, 13.0% XD 5g/L, #388637  $17.95  (Tasted November 6, 2014)


Released by Vintages on October 11, 2014. Gambero gave this red 2 glasses of 3 in his 2013 Edition of Gambero Rosso and Beppi Crosariol gave it 90. A Sicilian white.  My notes:  Bottle weight is 1.38 lbs. A pale yellow, crisp with a sprinkling of fine bubbles to brighten the glass. A thin film layers the sides forming a jagged rim as a mobile decoration. The nose combines fermenting hay and tart apple without much distinct fruit and with a sharpness that teases the nostrils and cleanses the teeth. A surprising depth to the first sip with flavours bringing some intensity for a long extra dry finish. Held its own with grilled cod on basmati rice and Cuban sauce. There's a smack of acid that demands attention when solo sipping. A drink now and an acquired taste. 89

SCHOLA SARMENTI ROCCAMORA NARDO' NEGROAMARO 2006, Puglia, Italy, 13.5%  XD 13g/L, #379768  17.95  (Tasted November 3, 2014)

Released by Vintages on October 11, 2014. Antonio Galloni  (August 2010) and Beppi Crosariol rated this 90.  My notes: There's a regal glow in the ruby and a swirl brings a light film although sticking then releasing thin tears and leaving a shallow lace. A nose that doesn't get in the way. Very smooth, tart cherry and blackberry, layering the palate and taking time to go into a long bright extra dry finish. So far not aerated. Can't pin down a difference on aerating. An entertaining sipper having an energetic fruit that persists to the end. Pair with anything savoury and beefy. Cellaring several years may soften nippy edge. 92
 
BORGOGNO LANGHE FREISA 2012, Piedmont, Italy,  13.5%  XD  6g/L, #388660 $21.95  (Tasted November 7, 2014)


Released by Vintages on October 11, 2014. Beppi Crosariol gave it an 88.  My notes: Made from the Freisa grape.  Bottle weight is 1.5lbs. Tastings were aerated as well as not aerated to compare. Both have a black cherry colouring on pouring with a subtle black cherry aroma. Both have an even blend of sour cherry juice tainted with a brambly forest flatness. A slight tang differentiates un-aerated from aerated although both quickly finish long, dry with flat tannins. Not a pleasing sipper needing meaty entrees to mask fading flavours. Did not pair well with lamb souvlaki on pita although souvlaki didn't contribute much. Lacks depth and varietal character as a drink now or cellaring - discard or use in sauce. Not recommended. 81

LA CHIARA GAVI DI GAVI 2013, Piedmont, Italy, 12.5%  XD  5g/L, #383612  $15.95  (Tasted November 5, 2014)


Released by Vintages on October 11, 2014. Beppi Crosariol gave it an 88.  Made from the Cortese grape.  My notes:  A pale yellow, crisp and clear with an indistinct blend of woody apple, citrus and clover honey as nose. The first sip is bipolar, ie. a dry mineral attempting to parch the palate and an apple/citrus zest flavour. Paired beautifully with rainbow trout filet grilled in butter and a baby spinach, blueberry and pineapple salad - also seared shrimp and mushroom risotto. A thin film that recedes quickly showing a frilly edge. An interesting alternative to Chardonnay. A drink now. 88

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

October 2014 Wines - 16 Tasted of 16

Why do we pay a middle man's ransom?
A Clear View from the Leash Free Park
My nature is normally quite positive... but the efficacy, from a consumer's perspective, of reforming wine retailing in Ontario in our favour is in all practicality prohibited by our acceptance of bureaucratic rule! My experience with wine retailing in Ontario is that the level of autocracy abuses every wine consumer - and not enough is being said/done/printed to disclose this abuse. Complacency has become a way of life.

Why has charging higher prices for someone else's value become a 'Right' ?

Professional hockey prices go up each season although every year's roster is no more stellar than the last. Hockey,
without building new venues, reduces or eliminates the number of 'low price seats' and many hockey families find they can no longer afford a night of live hockey. They have been displaced and have to settle for screens at the local Bar or at home. Essentially that's the only alternative for them. 

On the other hand wine being eliminated in many customers' 'low price range' is different and somewhat easier to solve - from one point of view. We just have to find shelf space for cheaper wines. Wines previously in the 'low range' are pushed to a higher price
A flurry of luxury pubs for a captive market! Who benefits?
level. Then we highlight the new plonk - new labels or old, imported or local - in a series of extravagant glossies as discounted bargains. Customers, complacent beings we are, are convinced to try. Perhaps the tasting notes are true. We'll get used to the new tastes - or not! Like the hockey dads we're stuck with less than we had before.

Corporations especially love the extra entry level space... a process by which they can use up an over abundance of grapes and/or the introduction of tailored blends. I compare it with another quasi monopoly, the CRTC:  The CRTC looks after Canadian communication airwaves currently dominated by a few large network companies. It's a fact these Companies developed the current infrastructure, i.e. the cell towers, fibre optics, cabling etc. across Canada. A huge venture to serve as their revenue source for years albeit with a built-in obsolescence that all modern technologies have. It's still to be addressed. These companies maintain they have a 'right' to not only recover their investment but also capitalize on the swelling innovated businesses using their 'services'.  This holds these entrepreneurs as well as their customers to ransom - pay or go away. The telecommunication giants have become parasites on the value contributed by others and the CRTC is complicit setting regulations that maintain Executive lifestyles - as well as obstructing any move to the next generation of networking.

And looking from the customer side, my monthly online TV fee charged by the network becomes based on the entertainment value of the programming content, for instance a full length drama, and not just the base price of connectivity. An extra bonus for the network are the fees they charge for advertisements compressed into every program episode. From my perspective as a network customer this includes my sitting through five meaningless ads for every five minutes of programming which becomes more abusive the more popular the TV series. I no longer can enjoy a gripping drama because of the network's manipulative interruptions. Business is no longer based on a justified return on investment. It has lost any ethical standard.  


Citing just one example closer to wine - a popular Pinot Noir, Meiomi, is $17.95 in the US and $26.95 in Ontario. Other than their monopolistic advantage what 'right' does the LCBO have to assess this 'tax' ?


My opinion, Ww

P.S. The game’s over. Hands off my Netflix - by Margaret Wente, October 2, 2014 The Globe and Mail. My experience and sentiment exactly.

 
THE LINEUP: (Reds, Whites, Bubblies)

  • Beringer Founders' Estate Zinfandel 2012, 90-2  --  G, Napa California, #308205  $17.95 
  • Mojo Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 90a-2  --  V,  Hahndorf, South Australia, #383539  $18.95
  • Ventisquero Grey [Glacier] Single Block Carmenère 2011, 90-1 --  V, Maipo Valley, Chile, #325415  $19.95 
  • Beringer Founders' Estate Merlot 2012, 87  --  G,  Napa, California, #534255  $17.95 
  • Beringer Founders' Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 86a  --  G, Napa, California, #534263  $17.95
  • Tessellae Carignan Old Vines Côtes du Roussillon 2012, 83  --  V, Midi, France, #343517  $18.95 
  • Beringer California Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2013,  82a  --  G, Napa, California, #113001  $9.96 
  • Ring-bolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 79a  --  V, Margaret River, Australia, #606624  $17.95*   
    
  • The Ned Pinot Gris 2013, 92-3  --  V, Marlborough, New Zealand, #267138  $16.95
  • Château LaCaussade Saint-Martin Trois Moulins Pinot Gris 2010, 88-1  --  V, Bordeaux, France, #368142  $16.95 
  • Beringer Founders' Estate Pinot Grigio 2012, 86  -- G, Napa, California, #045641  $16.95
  • Beringer California Collection Pinot Grigio 2013, 82  --  G, Napa, California,  #112995  $9.95
  • Firesteed Oregon Pinot Gris 2012, 82 --  G, Rickreall, Oregon, #323808 $17.80  
  • Rosemount Estate Diamond Label Pinot Grigio 2012, 81  --  G, Nuriootpa, South Australia, #112813 $12.95 
  • Grant Burge Summers Chardonnay 2012, NR  -- G, Adelaide Hills/Eden Valley, Australia, #269829  $18.20

  • Arthur Metz Brut Prestige Cremant d'Alsace NV, 88-1  --  V,  Marlenheim, France, #369116  $19.95   
 (V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Recommended)

TASTINGS:

BERINGER FOUNDERS ESTATE ZINFANDEL 2012, Napa, California, 14.5% D 10g/L, #308205  $17.95  (Tasted October 8, 2014)


A General listing.  My notes: Regular Price $10.99US Sale Price: $6.99US. Another charcoal tinted ruby, regally deep with a very polite nose hiding a bright blackberry scented with a touch of dusty chocolate. Velvety smooth and a tang that goes on the attack leaving a warming like a Fall fireplace, slow burning. A swirl covers the glass with a moderate film quick to drop several long legs followed by a dozen slow tears. A long finish has fruit remnants muted with an earthy softness - ie. molasses - and the slow burn. This would be a highlight of any steak or rubbed rib meal or just sip solo. Very sociable - a commercial drink now. I wonder what the blend is? 90   

BERINGER FOUNDERS' ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012, Napa, California, 13.9%  D  10g/L, #534263  $17.95  (Tasted October 3, 2014)


A General listing. Official wine of the PGA tour.  Not found on the Beringer website. My notes: This is coloured ruby with a charcoal tint and leaves a viscous film to slowly separate as a lacy layer falling to a moderate meniscus. The spicy dust of a carpenter's shop covers the scent of ripe black cherry and warmth of sunny suede. Red currant at first sip releases a bright tang and dry tannin then follows to soften the tannin and add a slight herbal. Cellar for a few years to mellow or serve now for its youthful roughness. Decanting an hour or aerating reduces the woody bias and brings forward the fruit a faint sweetness for an improved sipper. Pair with roast chicken brushed with a red pepper sauce and pinch of chili powder. 86a 

BERINGER FOUNDERS' ESTATE MERLOT 2012, Napa, California, 13.9%  M  xg/L,  #534255  $17.95  (Tasted October 7, 2014) 


A General listing.  My notes:  A deep ruby with a charcoal cast and a film that slowly creeps down the glass leaving only small lacy droplets. The nose is a subtle black cherry with a flat plum tone, a pleasing sharpness amid a satin texture. Sipping brings out the smoothness as well as noticeably sweetness and jam on the swallow. The finish is warm, soft, flavourful and lasts long. A welcomed social sipper and went well with Stephano Faito's steak & ale pie. (I used half veal and split the mushrooms to add 8 oz. broccoli flowers). Should also go well with most rich stews or broiled rib recipes. Cellaring could add two to three years but I'd say it's a drink now for an after hours crowd - or those preferring a sweet merlot, a Beringer style perhaps.  87

BERINGER CALIFORNIA COLLECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 , Napa, California, 13.5% D 14g/L,  #113001  $9.96  (Tasted October 5, 2014)


A General listing.  My notes:  Not found on the winery's website - perhaps an entry level for export/LCBO.  I automatically aerated following the first sniff & sip although decanting for thirty minutes could also mellow a strong herbal accent balancing a jammy berry flavour. The colour and film are the same as the Founders' Estate 2012. The sweetness is more pronounced in both nose and flavour and carries through to the finish. On the way a bright acid steps forward while fruit fades leaving the herbal to dominate. Overall a medium-bodied sociable bar wine to go with hard cheeses or a meal red with a ham steak, grilled pork chop or hamburgers. A commercial drink now - not recommended.  82a

FIRESTEED OREGON PINOT GRIS 2012, Rickreall, Oregon, 13.7%  XD  xg/L, #323808 $17.80  (Tasted October 10, 2014)


A General listing. My notes: A faded blond with a faded lemon floral scent not much interest on initial approach. The film is moderate leaving long slow legs then a rim shedding slow tears. The first sip is bright with noticeable apple quince flavours, a touch of sweet and carrying into a dry finish with flavours slow to fade. A mineral aspect added to the taste makes solo sipping interesting - better paired with grilled halibut or cod where a mild acid could add to the meal. A commercial drink now. 82

GRANT BURGE SUMMERS CHARDONNAY 2012, Adelaide Hills/Eden Valley, Australia, 13.0% XD 4/L, #269829  $18.20  (Tasted October 6, 2014)


A General listing.  My notes:  A crisp and clear lemon juice colour with aromas of wet cardboard and some pungent acridity overall not appealing as a sipper. Decanting did not 'air out' - aerating helped with nose not flavour. The film sticks and drops long legs until forming a shrinking lacy pattern. The first sip coats the palate with a chalky dryness and flavours resembling the nose, acrid and long lasting. Medium-bodied, well balanced and passable paired with honey ham slices, mashed sweet and white potato, and broccoli but flavour got in the way finishing the meal. Not Recommended. 77 NR

BERINGER CALIFORNIA COLLECTION PINOT GRIGIO 2013, Napa, California, 12.5%  D  11g/L,  #112995  $9.95  (Tasted October 8, 2014)


A General listing.  My notes:  Sale price is $4.99US, regular $6.99US. Not found on the winery's website - perhaps an entry level for export/LCBO. A pale blond, crystal clear in the glass with a floral combined with delicate pear nose both becoming stronger as the glass warms. Keep chilled. The first sip is smooth with a soft sweetness balanced with a mild grapefruit/lemon flavour. The finish is unctuous, slippery on the lips while flavours quickly peak then fade making room for some dryness. Sippable altho' a different PG style being less acidic and more floral. Went well with leftover ham slices brushed with a honey marmalade. Could be served with a Chinese or Thai buffet - but I'd look for something else to sip with conversation. A drink now. 82


BERINGER FOUNDERS' ESTATE PINOT GRIGIO 2012, Napa, California, 13.0%  D  6g/L, #045641  $16.95  (Tasted October 9, 2014)

A General listing.  My notes:  Sale price is $6.95US, regular $10.95US.  A pale blond,crystal clear with apple and soft honeysuckle aromas. A light film slides down quickly leaving a few small beads on the glass, light-bodied. The first sip has a shallow glycerine depth and smooth texture. Delicate mineral and melon flavours having a dry background, not quite chalk and quickly shifting to a thin spicy mineral finish. A sipper if you don't mind the mineral edge otherwise pair with seafood lightly seared then drizzled with a lemon butter sauce on rice... or cheesy chicken cordon bleu not rushed so to enjoy that taste combination. A drink now. 86

CHÂTEAU LACAUSSADE SAINT-MARTIN TROIS MOULINS 2010,  Bordeaux, France, 13.0%  XD  4g/L, #368142  $16.95  (Tasted October 14, 2014)

Release by Vintages on August 16, 2014 and given 2 Stars of 3 by Guide Hachette, 2013. My notes: From Sémillon (90%) and Sauvignon Blanc grapes showing a polished clear yellow in the glass. The nose is delicate pear and apple with a pleasing touch of lemon. Served at 8oC the first dry swallow cleanses the palate leaving a wax edge on a quince, medium-bodied, excellent balance followed by a long extra dry finish. For those preferring a natural white to sip solo or otherwise with mixed cheeses and saltines or breaded white fishes. Cellar a few more years. 88

THE NED PINOT GRIS 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.0%  XD 7g/L, #267138  $16.95  (Tasted October 16, 2014)


Release by Vintages on May 10, 2014.  My notes:  Tasted in July this year and rated 88 and a value . Now fuller and more character. Still has the very appealing onion skin colour and a nose of pear - a touch of peach I thought this time - and delicate floral. The film is moderate quickly receding as a lacy edged sheet. The first sip shows more peach than pear until a dry mineral finish sets in. Quaffing accentuates flavours nicely for an interesting drink now. Combine with seafood dishes or sip solo, either way a lovely example of the variety. Cellar a dozen for maturing - keep a dozen on hand for good company. 92 

VENTISQUERO GREY [Glacier] SINGLE BLOCK CARMENÈRE 2011, Maipo Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD  7g/L,  #325415  $19.95  (Tasted October 15, 2014)


Released by Vintages on September 27, 2014 and rated 90 by Josh Raynolds, International Wines Cellar (February 2014).  My notes:  A thin ruby colour showing a thin veil receding until a few scattered droplets remain on the glass. An aromatic red currant fruit, a slight silk and soft bramble stirs sensations of scent and flavour until a long and dry finish takes over.  If one likes a lighter red this could very well be a sipper. Share with like minded sippers or pair with a variety of tomato sauced pastas/pizzas - even calamari? Cellaring four more years may lose more of its youth providing a softer version of itself. True to the grape and a change from heavy and hot. 90

MOJO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012,  Hahndorf, South Australia, 13.5%  XD  7g/L, #383539  $18.95  (Tasted October 17, 2014)


Released by Vintages on September 27, 2014 and rated 95 by James Halliday  (July 27, 2014).  My notes: A deep ruby with a glowing purple edge and a penetrating scent of blackberry, blueberry and red currant combined equally.  The film sticks to the glass taking its time to drop as long legs from a swollen rim.  The first sip has depth showing a silken smoothness quickly evolving to fine tannins, an earthy berry on a biting backbone. Extra dry with a rough velvet layering the palate.  Could be too exuberant as a sipper for some - better matched with bbq'd ribs slathered with a savour spicy sauce or any grilled beef companion. Cellaring for several years is recommended - aerating is a minimum as a drink now. 90a 

TESSELLAE CARIGNAN OLD VINES CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON 2012, Midi, France, 14.5%  XD 6g/L, #343517   $18.95  (Tasted October 20, 2014)


Released by Vintages on August 16, 2014 and rated 90 by Robert Parker Jr., (November 2013). A blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre.  My notes:  A blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre.  My notes: Being more herbal than fruit in the nose I was tempted to aerate. There's a touch of purple to a deep ruby colour and has a moderate film causing the rim to fill then accumulate eventually dropping a ring of long legs. Shows an earthy ageing of cherries with a light tang and soft velvet texture, almost Brett-like. A non intrusive sipper as in 'old world' better suited to savoury osso bucco or steak and ale pie. Only 2 years old - seems like ten and past peak. My preference is fresh fruit and full-bodied which this is not. 83

ARTHUR METZ BRUT PRESTIGE CRÉMANT D'ALSACE NV, Marlenheim, France, 12.0%  XD 12g/L, #369116  $19.95  (Tasted October 18, 2014)

Released by Vintages on June 7, 2014. A Gold Medal winner at the 2013 Concours Général Agricole in Paris and the 2012 Effervescents du Monde.   My notes: A steely blond colour with a profusion of mid size bubbles subsiding to a fine stream or two rising to the surface. An aroma that matches the colour, little fruit unless a tart apple attacking the taste buds. Refreshingly dry with a firm spritz that when combined with acid is parching. Noticeable in the finish is a hint of cream. Serve as a wedding toast to wake the revellers - or if you prefer flavour, a ship launching. Pair with a buffet table of pigs in a blanket, stuffed mushrooms or quiche tarts. 88


RING-BOLT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012, Margaret River, Australia, 14.0%  D  4g/L, #606624  $17.95*  (Tasted October 23, 2014)

Released by Vintages on April 18, 2014 and reduced from $19.95 until November 9, 2014.  My notes:  An intense aroma of lacquer and cherry/raspberry juice after aerating. The first swallow carries the sting of lacquer, a silky texture, dryness of fine tannin and  aftertaste of cherry soaked hickory nut. The colour is a deep ruby with a purple tone and the flavour profile being full in the mouth makes this a challenging sipper. If you prefer Canadian Rye straight up this may be for you - not me. A long intense finish needs a food complement; Italian sausages or Texas bean chili, a savoury or spicy flank steak stew may balance the rawness - personally I don't think so. Add wine to a herb, onion and passata sauce and reserving remaining for later recipes may use up leftovers. 79a


ROSEMOUNT ESTATE DIAMOND LABEL PINOT GRIGIO 2012, Nuriootpa, South Australia, 12.5%  XD  4g/L, #112813 $12.95  (Tasted October 15, 2014)

A General listing.  My notes: Rosemount labels are generally considered a 'safe bet' but not this Pinot Grigio. After a memorable past Rosemount Estates is one of many Treasury Wine Estates labels under Corporate ownership. The colour is a polished mid yellow with a bright pungency on pouring that settles with a few minutes airing to a less intrusive nose. A swirl leaves a thin film receding from a lacy rim. The first sip brings spice forward first with a lemon tartness blended with melon then subsiding to a mineral edged citrus finish. Not my preference for a sipper lacking sufficient texture, body and less varietal character. Chicken breast slices with asparagus spears or Cod with Cuban tomato sauce could be matches although I discarded the bottle. 81