Monday, June 28, 2010

The Move is Over

This was our eleventh move since marrying forty nine years ago. Some were instigated by career changes, some by traffic congestion, some by curiosity - wanting to discover parts of Canada only seen in mags. 

Building a home on Vancouver Island was the most ambitious. In a walled retirement community of 500 plus the view overlooking Satellite Channel with a background of the southern hump of Saltspring Island was spectacular. On a cliff 80 feet above water our home was under a sparsely limbed Heritage fir where nesting Eagles launched themselves in an hourly hunt for prey. One afternoon we were startled with a dull thud as the fir, rotted with age, laid in pieces parallel to our property. Our home was spared by  strong Channel winds that felled the giant while convincing it to fall away from us.

The city of Victoria was our next haunt… within walking distance of the BC Parliament buildings and occupying half of a comfortable two level renovated duplex on Toronto Street. 

Then on to Burlington for ten years where ravine wild life kept our landscaped flower beds trimmed. Each year the varmints and the clay claimed what little I could grow each year - and so the cycle continued.

This recent move was motivated not by growing pains but by ageing pains needful of a significant change in life patterns. We were sold on the idea of an indoor exercise pool, sauna, a modest home theatre and party room, all the entrapments of condo living. 

Our easterly view is of the Toronto skyline; the northerly, of the Mississauga city centre. I like to think of this as my period of enlightenment. We’ve ’been there, done that’ in most normal life situations. Certainly we wouldn’t do ’it’ again given the chance. Not that we regretted anything but society and living patterns have altered considerably during our decades of family life. Not wanting change in a new world would be impossible. But now it was time to relax, to enjoy the spontaneity of conversations with strangers, to stop at a Starbucks for a coffee without a Blackberry stuck to our fingers, to take life less seriously.  

Buying into a new condominium building was enlightening. A 2008 occupancy was delayed two years and still there’s grout compound, cement dust and sealant on every surface. Thirty discrepancies need attention and elevators are slowed to a trickle by tradesmen and the activity from moving vans of residents anxious to set up house. Enlightenment continues... Let’s forget the turmoil and look on the bright side. I now have a room with a view and a wine chiller.  Now I can get back to StrictlyTasting.

Cheers, Ww

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

June 2010 - Niagara Trip: 6 Tasted of 6

We couldn’t resist dropping in to Daniel Lenko’s (View it!)  in Beamsville on the return trip from Graze the Bench. One of the many good memories after returning to Burlington was in 2001 sitting in mother Lenko’s kitchen being offered tastings of her son’s wines. In 1959 father William Lenko had pioneered planting some of the first varietals in Niagara Peninsula starting with Chardonnay followed by Merlot (1974), Riesling (1980) and Viognier (1993). ‘Old Vines’ feature prominently on many of their labels available today.

Daniel Lenko, a 3rd generation grape grower, still provides tastings in the kitchen while describing each with his personal attention not often seen from a proprietor of a successful wine business. Winemaker, Llya Senchuk, a graduate of Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, is another dedicated to allowing the grape and the earth to have full expression in each wine.    

The six wines of the Essential Taster Pack include most of the varietals we had purchased during our original visit… and a few that are new to me. When tasted wines will be sequenced by rating.  Cheers, Ww

  • Daniel Lenko Estate 2004 Select Late Harvest Vidal VQA Ontario, 94-2  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.5% MS, #Winery $13.05  (375mL)
  • Daniel Lenko Estate 2008 White Cabernet VQA Niagara Peninsula, 92-2  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D, #Winery  $20.05
  • Daniel Lenko Estate 2005 Unoaked Chardonnay VQA Niagara Peninsula, 92-2  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, 14.0% D, #091173 $20.05 
  • Daniel Lenko Estate 2007 Reserve Riesling VQA Niagara Peninsula,  90-1  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.5% D, #075655 $20.05  
  • Daniel Lenko Estate 2006 Old Vines Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula, 88  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D, #075622  $30.05
  • Daniel Lenko Estate 2004 Old Vines Chardonnay (French oak) VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.7% D, #Winery  $30.05
(r-v  -  rating-value,  O  -  source other)

TASTINGS:  (Tasting notes from the Winery website are repeated below for convenience)

DANIEL LENKO ESTATE 2005 UNOAKED CHARDONNAY VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario,  (Map it!) 14.0% D, #091173 $20.05  (Tasted July 23, 2010) CS

“Spiced apple, grapefruit and lemon drop aromas mingle in the inviting nose, while mineral/flint flavours play beautifully within a round, supple texture.”  My notes: I tasted the 2004 in April 2006 with mixed feelings “…soft creaminess and slight flavours of lemon and ripe peach…finish starts strong but fades quickly into a faint grassiness.”  The 2005 has a soft golden blond colour with a film that slowly recedes down the bowl. A delicate apple nose, no sweet but a touch of clean tang and the first sip has a buttery fullness, a delightful tartness and light flavours of grapefruit edged with clay as a lively finish builds then slowly fades. An elegant sipper… and my favoured chardonnay style as the character of the vine and terroir shows more easily. Enjoy privately or with chicken liverwurst - or should that be chickwurst? -, saltines and a crowd - have with grilled fish or fowl. Has cellared well and will for several more years.  92

DANIEL LENKO ESTATE 2004 OLD VINES CHARDONNAY (French oak) VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.7% D, #Winery  $30.05  (Tasted July 16, 2010)

“Fruit from old vines provides toast smoke, vanilla and spice balanced exquisitely with melon and ripe pear flavours and a creamy, supple texture.”  My notes: The 1999 vintage was purchased during a visit in 2001, cellared until tasted in April 2006 noting ’… faint aromas of clover and honey… delicate flavours of melon, some pear, some honey, some light acid - no cream…’.  The 2004 has a smoky butterscotch aroma and is pale golden in the glass. Medium-bodied, a light tang along with a grassy edged pear, vanilla and butterscotch flavour. Very approachable as a sipper more process derived than fruit having a smooth finish and faithfully carrying the flavours 'til a dry herbaceous ending. Have with orange roughy and fine Italian pasta or risotto. Should cellar, although not improving, for several years.  86 

DANIEL LENKO ESTATE 2008 WHITE CABERNET VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D, #Winery  $20.05   (Tasted July 7, 2010)

“Strawberry, red currant and pear combine with hints of confectioner’s sugar to unveil a fresh and lively nose. Cassis and raspberry bring together good acidity with a wonderfully balanced palate.”  My notes: There’s a slight pink hue to the coral peach colour, rather coquettish. Crushed strawberries in the nose with sweet floral notes followed with a well balanced sweet and tart and delicate flavours of cassis, peach stone and slight raspberry. Medium-bodied, well rounded, a touch of sweet to an unexpectedly long finish - there’s definitely nothing to blush about. This would be a social pleaser if not a conversation in itself. Have on a sweltering July 7th or well chilled on the patio with friends. Should cellar well for a few years.  92

DANIEL LENKO ESTATE 2007 RESERVE RIESLING VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.5% D, #075655 $20.05  (Tasted July 22, 2010) CS

“Gobs of grapefruit, lime and orange rind make way for hints of honey, beeswax and lilac. The powerful nose and palate are framed by a balanced sweetness and bracing acidity. A touch of mineral leads to a clean, long finish.”  My notes: The 2004 vintage was tasted in April 2006, before ratings, commenting ‘finish is long with a citrus peel or slight tangerine that puts a light oil on the lips’. The 2007 vintage is a light golden blond with a banana and citrus scent almost unnoticeable. The film recedes evenly with no noticeable tears and there are hints of honey followed by lime then orange rind - a tandem tasting profile as the wine warms on the palate. A lean texture with a polite acid starts a flavourful finish ending with a light lime and dry as chalk. Sipping develops considerable interest as flavours open and deepen. Pairing with grilled scallops, lobster/crab claws or oysters Rockefeller would suit this laid back riesling. Excellent with 24 Bahian-style mussels in a wine sauce. 90

DANIEL LENKO ESTATE 2006 OLD VINES MERLOT VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D, #075622 $30.05  (Tasted July 1, 2010) CS

“Huge aromas of blueberry, strawberry and plum layer over coffee and chocolate, while a firm tannic structure and solid concentration frame the round, creamy mid-palate. Vanilla, coconut and butterscotch lead to an amazingly long, supple finish.”  My notes: Bright cherry red in colour with smooth aromas of blended blueberry, cherry and slight strawberry. The film is thin receding quickly following a swirl. The first sip reveals this to be a light-bodied sipper, blueberry accented by cherry mixed with tart cranberry and finishing with a firm but polite tannin and slight bramble. Light flavours fade slowly ending dry on the palate. A dry sipper, possibly on the decline, but could be paired with prime rib, a ham or tuna steak. 88

DANIEL LENKO ESTATE 2004 SELECT LATE HARVEST VIDAL VQA Ontario, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.5% MS, #Winery $13.05 (375mL)  (Tasted July 16, 2010)

“A perennial favourite, attractive apricot, peach, and orange zest flavours roll across the palate. Well balanced acidity and a clean, long finish bring the wine to a triumphant conclusion.”  My notes: A clear golden in the glass with a combination of orange, apricot and hint of banana nose. The nose is confirmed in the first sip through a delectable blending of orange and apricot. Sweet? Yes… but with enough acid to mellow the finish which is long, full and seeping with fruit. Sipping this on a patio with like minded friends would make any event special. Have liberally over vanilla sorbet or with crushed ice and a touch of vodka. Should cellar several years - seven to ten would be interesting.  94

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Graze the Bench '10

June 6th: A table of Schott Zwiesel glasses welcomed us at Peninsula Ridge... 

Several wines to choose from ... we chose a 2008 Viognier and a 2008 Reserve Syrah

Plates of lamb burgers and baby spinach greens freshly prepared at the BBQ...

Luscious green growth could be seen on slopes of vines...

... and a lone falcon in a postcard sky

The Peninsula Ridge Tasting Room was busy pouring samples to an eager crowd.... not quite like 'running of the bulls'

(The two Viogniers at the counter are ours)

Listening to a wispy soloist with guitar accompaniment (hidden) at Organized Crime...

... relaxing in the early summer sun on the grassy outlook...

...and munching on crispy About Thyme Bistro’s Fries
Having consumed our limit we meandered home.


PENINSULA RIDGE VIOGNIER 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D,  #662601  $12.95*  (Tasted June 9, 2010) CS

The 2007 vintage released on June 20, 2009 was priced at $14.95 and described by the Vintages panel (April 2009) as “… Pale lemon-gold in colour, the nose opens with attractive aromas of white flowers and apricots. Flavours of apricots and ripe citrus are joined by a hint of peach, and the gentle touch of minerality, on the mouth-watering, medium-long finish. This is silky textured and also quite refreshing thanks to lively, tangy acidity. … savour with grilled chicken salad, or roasted chicken breast with apricot/mango chutney. “  My notes: The 2008 was purchased from the Winery on June 6, 2010. I tasted the 2006 vintage in September 2007 with an 85 rating.  At the time Gord Stimmell gave the 2006 a 90 saying ‘Classic clover blossom, peach and apple aromas… etc. “ The 2008 is much the same: blond in colour with a wild rose scent edged with citrus for sharpness. The film is firm leaving slow tears and the first sip has a smooth not quite buttery feel, some tang and flavours of subtle melon and lemon. The finish is long and smooth especially if allowed to go off chill when flavours strengthen. An interesting social sipper, neither complex nor simple, or to be paired with seafood, an Asian buffet or perhaps grilled chicken breast not spicy. A drink now. 88

Monday, June 07, 2010

True to Oneself

It’s a pleasure to pick up my morning G&M and find a goLOCAL glossy from the LCBO. In fact, it reminded me that Ontario has rounded the corner for producing good wines, a turning point being overlooked by most Ontarians according to Vintages staff Rosa. ‘People don’t buy because it’s from Ontario. I’m stocking more Ontario labels but people aren’t buying’. How do you turn the Queen Mary around when it’s already in port?

In the recent Seriously Cool Chardonnays London UK Tastings comparisons of Ontario Chardonnays (ref 1) with those of Burgundy were often favourable. Of Huff Estates: “The Burgundian winemaker…“, Of Closson Chase: “…go to Montrachet straight away!”, Of Norman Hardie: “Really very Burgundian”, etc. I guess this can’t be avoided in a European setting. It’s also a convenient method of conveying a reviewer’s experience to others having a similar background. There may also be the advantage, if the comparison is favourable, for the  Ontario product to be carried along the pricing curve of a Burgundy wine. But such comparisons aren’t meaningful for those of us who haven’t had the opportunity to taste high priced, sometimes called ultra premium, wines - of either source. Perhaps by helping a few bottles the comparison defaults the rest to mediocrity. 

The real downside is if ‘burgundian’ infers that certain flavours or accents are required the Ontario product is being judged on a foreign terroir base and can easily be found deficient. Simply put, Ontario wines lose their identity. The terroirs of Ontario and Burgundy have to be different - continents apart and formed geologically in different timeframes and circumstances. Either wine should be judged not on comparative characteristics but on their individuality. Now if the European reviewer hasn’t a ‘sense’ of Ontario terroirs that should be faced as a separate issue… don’t lay it on the wine.

Southern Ontario was formed out of glacial melt and gouging of shale and clay as the ice shield ploughed its way north leaving lake bottoms exposed and mountains of gravel in its geological wake. Sub-appellations in the Niagara Peninsula were identified based on extensive research by Dr. Tony Shaw of the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario (ref 2). Consequently, vineyards on the several benches have their own terroirs and should be identified as such. Ontario winemakers shouldn’t be pressured to manipulate their wines to be something they’re not. 

The Ontario wine industry shares some responsibility for decades of early grape choices and perhaps for blending for volume and profit rather than individuality. Even now the VQA designations of ‘Ontario’ or ‘Niagara Peninsula’ allow for mixing juices from different benches changing and masking aromas and flavours. If this leads to wines that are competitive with low cost imports it’s a success of one kind… but as the
goLOCAL glossy shows these blends don’t achieve that. Nothing is gained let alone an attempt to change the perspective of the Ontario consumer.

How does an attitude of ‘Ontario wines are plonk’ get turned around? Hiring a winemaker because of a ’burgundian’ approach isn’t the answer. Comparisons with foreign terroirs confuses things… and no number of similar glossies will change attitude. I believe the answer, and one so many cottage or artisan wineries are actualizing, is a dedication to the land, the grape and by interacting with Consumers through events such as Graze the Bench
. Survey Consumer opinions: what could be done better? what wines were appealing? what were not? would you come again? do we offer value?… and the LCBO should engage more with the Ontario product through the cottage wineries and their events.

My opinion, Ww   

Seriously Cool
VQA Ontario

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

June 2010 Wines: 10 Tasted of 10

The long stretch
Cheers, Ww 

THE LINEUP:  grouped by reds, whites, rosés, sparklers and other

  • George Wyndham Founder’s Reserve Shiraz Tempranillo 2007, 92-2  -- G, Barossa, Australia, #n/a $17.00* 
  • Domaine Grand Veneur ‘Les Champauvins’ Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2007, 91-2  --  V, Rhône, France, #076331   $19.95 
  • Villa Maria ‘Private Bin’ Pinot Noir 2007,  86  --  G, Marlborough, NZ, #146548 $19.95 
  • Callia Alta Malbec 2009,  84  --  G, San Juan, Argentina, #160978 $10.95
  • Rosehall Run Cuvee County Cabernet Franc 2007 VQA Prince Edward County, 80  --  V, Wellington, Ontario, #122267 $18.95

  • Megalomaniac ‘Edra’s Vineyard’ Narcissist Rieslng 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  88-1  --  V, Vineland, Ontario, #067587 $17.95

  • Château d’Aqueria Tavel Rosé 2008, 84 -- V, Tavel, France, #712000   $9.95 (375mL) 
  • Sogrape Gazela Rosé NV, 84 -- G, Beiras, Portugal, #125757   $8.95

  • Codorniu Non Plus Ultra NV, 90-1 -- G, Penedès, Spain, #053660   $20.95

  • Jose Maria da Fonseca Alambre Moscatel 2000, 92-3 -- V, Setúbal, Portugal, #357996   $13.95
(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, O - Other, r-v - rating-value)


DOMAINE GRAND VENEUR ‘LES CHAMPAUVINS’ CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES 2007, Rhône, France, 15.0% XD, #076331 $19.95 (Tasted June 4, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on December 5, 2009 rated 91/100 and described by Robert Parker Jr. (June 2009) as “Impressive, with slightly more complexity, muscle, and depth, is the 2007 Côtes du Rhône-Villages Champauvins. A more spice-driven, fuller-bodied, earthier effort, it is a rich, well-balanced, full-throttle Côtes du Rhône that demonstrates the heights of quality that were attainable in 2007.”  My notes: Last tasted December 16, 2009 with a rating of 92. Not much has changed in six months… still an attractive violet toned ruby with subtle aromas of earthy cherries and plums. The bite of the first sip starts the interest continued by fresh fruit flavours: red cherries, black berries, a streak of smooth mint chocolate then a long warm finish. Medium-bodied going on full-, very dry, a modest match for prime rib, a T-bone or a thick beef and barley soup. Cellar up to four years but drinking well now. 91

JOSE MARIA DA FONSECA ALAMBRE MOSCATEL 2000, Setúbal, Portugal, (Map It!) 17.5% MS, #357996 $13.95 (Retasted June 12, 2010) CS

My notes: Vintages released in 2005 and was last tasted in July 2008 and rated 95. A bright amber colour rather than the salmon pink and a milder aroma of butterscotch, the touch of wild floral now missing. Definitely needs decanting to settle fine particles altho’ not interfering with the flavour or smoothness. Sugar code was eight and remains with the warmth of the alcohol level integrating nicely for a spicy, mellow sipper full of caramel and slight apricot - have instead of that afternoon honey cinnamon bun. Serve chilled, with ice as a cooler or at room temp - the finish is long and scrumptious. Could cellar for a few more years. 92

SOGRAPE GAZELA ROSÉ NV, Beiras, Portugal, (Map It!) 10.0% D, #125757 $8.95 (Tasted June 3, 2010) CS

My notes: Last tasted in June 2009 with an 84 rating.This has a lighter strawberry colour than the Tavel, still cheery with a slight peach tone. The nose has a delicate mineral accent to a subtle strawberry scent. The spritz shows itself on pouring then dissipates until the first sip then dances spritely on the palate. Fruity - watermelon and cherry, a balanced tartness, refreshingly light-bodied, perfect for a sunny stint on the patio with friends. Add a slice of lemon or lime for a brighter sipper. Sip away leftovers since spritz is half of the enjoyment but not a ‘saver‘. A drink now - the LCBO considers this seasonal so may not be on the shelf all year. 84

CODORNÍU NON PLUS ULTRA NV, Penedès, Spain, (Map It!) 11.5% D, #053660 $20.95 (Tasted June 14, 2010) CS

My notes: Last tasted in Sept 2009 and Dec 2007 with ratings of 90 and 91 resp. This is a very creamy sip with a pronounced spritz from initially a stream of fine bubbles that subsides quickly. A light golden colour and aromas of subtle nettles and just a touch of grassiness. The cream follows through combining with spritz and a well balanced acid making this an interesting sipper. Have on any occasion… on the full-bodied side and although dry may not suit fresh oysters but would pair with bacon wrapped scallops. Cellared since 2007 this NV has developed more cream since last tasting. Would not disappoint anyone even the ingrained Champs addict.  90

CHÂTEAU D'AQUERIA TAVEL ROSÉ 2008, Tavel, France, (Map It!) 13.5% XD, #712000 $9.95 (375mL) (Tasted June 3, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on June 6, 2009 described by the Vintages panel (April 2009) as “This 2008 model marks the welcome return of a Vintages customer favourite. Dominated by blackberry drops, strawberry, floral and a hint of plum. Dry and quite vibrantly fruity with good weight and texture. There are some nice spice notes on the rather lengthy finish. An excellent choice for herb-crusted salmon or pan-fried sardines drizzled with balsamic vinegar, lime and garlic.”  My notes:A beautiful strawberry red, crystal clear in the bowl and going off chill encourages the nose to give up some soft cherry/raspberry aromas, a swirl shows an evenly receding film with slow tears. Smooth, a delayed intro of muted tartnness finishing with dry mineral and strawberry flavours. A very interesting three dimensional sipper with modest acid, light oils providing a base for building a flavour medley. Not the Tavel rosé I remember from my ’80s visit - somewhat flatter, less fresh fruit. Perhaps it doesn’t travel well? Without a prior tasting to compare, however, this makes for a decent sipper or match for any seafood dish or light creamy pasta. A drink now.  84

GEORGE WYNDHAM FOUNDER'S RESERVE SHIRAZ TEMPRANILLO 2007, Barossa, Australia, 13.5% D, #n/a $17.00* (Tasted June 1, 2010)

My notes: Was available only in a Gift Pack and, given the price of the companion Shiraz (#107904), would be $17.00 if sold separately.  Last tasted in December 2009 with an Ww85 rating this shows a deep raspberry colour with a violet hue and has scents of earthy blackberry. The film is firm receding slowly with a few slow tears and a first sip is both smooth and peppery. A blend of 70% Shiraz and 30% Tempranillo. Blackberries, currants and raspberries provide flavour highlights while an acid seam wakens the buds. The finish is long with fruit slowly declining then ending with just a touch of bramble. A delicious sipper if you like bright and bold fruit. Would be able to compete with rack of lamb, a seasoned T-bone or a beef bourguignon. Still has some cellaring left, two to four years.  92

ROSEHALL RUN CUVÉE COUNTY CABERNET FRANC 2007 VQA Prince Edward County, Wellington, Ontario, (Map It!) 12.0% D, #122267  $18.95 (Tasted June 10, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on August 29, 2009 rated 4 of 5 by Vic Harradine (July 13, 2009) and described as “This opens with a quiet nose of black plum and tell-tale Franc aromas of graphite. Racy flavours of pie cherry and ripe mulberry wash over the palate in a steady well-balanced stream. The lingering and lip-smacking finish layers on ripe cherry notes, and hints of sweet oak from a brief 5½ month barrel ferment and ageing in French oak barrels. This is 100% PEC fruit from an outstanding winery and vintage… “  My notes: A black cherry red and aromas of sun dried cherry skins with a bright edge, not too though. The fairly thin film recedes evenly with no tears to speak of and the first sip has a bright nip, a light red cherry flavouring becoming lighter then quickly adding tart and dry red currant. Well balanced, some fine tannin but perhaps the ‘cool climate’ has restrained the body seemingly based on less developed fruit. Sippable but not 'enjoyable' would be my call and too thin to pair with grilled meats - did not match with baked pork chops with a tomato sauce - could try with smoked salmon or a ham slice. A drink now.  80
VILLA MARIA ‘PRIVATE BIN’ PINOT NOIR 2007, Marlborough, NZ, (Map It!) 13.5% D, #146548 $19.95  (Tasted June 7, 2010) CS

A General release described anonymously (undated) as “This Pinot Noir has dark cherry and spice aromas, and a long savoury finish. Serve with lighter Asian foods, red meats and cheeses.”  My notes: A dark cherry colour with a lighter edge and aromas of a red cherry strawberry blend. Medium-bodied, balanced acid, a smooth texture, a red cherry fruit touched with licorice warming quickly on the palate followed by crushed unsweetened fruit in a long dry finish. An unusual flavouring expressing the Marlborough terroir - some may prefer it as a sipper, not my favourite. Did not match sweet Italian sausage - likely would match pork tenderloin or grilled chicken breast. Cellaring is iffy altho’ texture is smooth and if fruit holds then two years is my guess. 86
MEGALOMANIAC ’EDRA’S VINEYARD’ NARCISSIST RIESLING 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Vineland, Ontario, (Map It!) 10.9% D, #067587 $17.95  (Tasted June 5, 2010) CS

A Vintages release on May 23, 2009 unrated but described by Michael Pinkus (March 31, 2008) as “… This Riesling has lots of peach qualities both on the nose and in the mouth, the finish is limeade with a touch of sweetness. Velvety smooth so it glides right down and you're ready to sip again… “ My notes: A John Howard’s Cellars of Distinction wine. A nicely textured Niagara Riesling with more than a touch of sugar altho’ balanced with a tartness for an appealing sipper. Peach fuzz aromas and candied peach/apple flavours and tinge of petrol start a long sweetly layered limeade finish. A sociable mixer to have with cocktail shrimps, smoked oysters or scallops, an Asian buffet refresher or served chilled, a patio cooler. A drink now. 88
CALLIA ALTA MALBEC 2009, San Juan, Argentina, 13.8% D, #160978 $10.95  (Tasted June 13, 2010) CS

My notes:From Salentein Family of Wines which I couldn’t find googling… and an alternative to Fuzion Alta Malbec tasted October last year and rated Ww90. The Callia has a deep ruby colour and just perceptible scent of earthy plum or black cherry. Fairly thin for a red and leaving fast legs with a swirl the first sip has a brambly edge and flavours of red cherry and red currant, a touch of spice and a balanced bite. The finish continues to flavour the palate eventually with a bright bramble showing through. Should be good with a marinated sirloin steak and loaded baked potato (Canyon Creek style) or other grilled meats. Keep a few on hand up to a year for a family ribfest - essentially a drink now.  84

Some Twitter Thoughts

I’ve been on Twitter for two months now. (Two years as of this month - May 2012 - and a lot has changed. I now have my collection of Followers and Followings. They are organized into 'Lists'. I've had to block a few 'ratchet mouthed egotists and crude attention seekers - but that's off subject really.) First I installed a ‘Profile Widget’ (left) or a thread of selected Tweets streaming in a side panel on my blog. Then the installation of a  Tweetdeck (right), an Application that catches Tweets and organizes them for viewing on my desktop, was next.  Twitter lets me set up ‘lists’ of Tweeters so their Tweets (messages), describing daily - sometimes minute-by-minute - activities and thoughts, are sent to the Tweetdeck. The messages can be no more than 140 characters.  (click on image for larger view)

Most times Tweets are between Tweeters of like mind or related trades but can also be random - anything goes - but largely controlled by Tweeters. Tweeters selected for my ‘lists’ have something to do with the wine trade - critics, writers, winemakers, wine agents, marketers or advertisers. Currently I have four lists: Ontario based, a Cross Canada list, one for International and one for world renown wine critics/writers. This latter list is called ‘Wine-oohs‘ and is the one showing on my blog. At times Tweets can be off topic as personalities vie for attention or proclaim their frustrations/anxieties, phobias, bias, or intolerance. A Tweeter can be blocked if the Tweets become objectionable.

What I find astonishing is the difficulty to find Tweeters like myself, a wine Consumer (capital C) having no affiliation with the wine trade. Have I just not found Consumers among the thousands of Tweets I’ve viewed? After two months, I've found the Ontario wine trade group to be close knit, at least virtually. Sometimes occasionally 'closed knit‘ becoming defensive toward comments deemed as 'criticism' from those, referred to as outsiders, having a different view. As a Consumer my paranoia is that I’m in the outsider category.

Some Tweeter practices can be annoying: To circumvent the 140 character restriction thoughts can be strung over several Tweets. Although defeating the original purpose of brevity sometimes it’s needed to complete a thought. Some businesses automate commercials under the guise of Tweets - not good at any time. Similarly, I find ‘Tweesers’, Tweets requiring a subscription to a commercial site to complete the message, an abuse of Twitter - like offering you a treat then taking it away.

To stretch the 140 character limit links to other websites are often inserted. The New York Times, the Financial Times or Facebook, are common. Recent topics have been:

  • benefits of screw tops versus corks
  • changes in US cross state shipping legislation
  • Bordeaux tastings
  • Ontario liquor taxation
  • LCBO profiteering thru the HST
As Tweets are limited to 140 characters there’s not much room for innuendo - get it right the first time or you can easily offend. Twitter is one of the many Internet freebies where the Tweets, once sent, are in the Public Domain. Except for those that may have already been read Tweets can be deleted. But say it wrong and you may have several more Tweets to get your point clarified - or admit your impropriety and move on. In my earlier Tweets I was accused of ‘trying to start a fight’ when I thought I was contributing to a discussion. In the following weeks I learned the complainant had a self interest opposite to the one inferred in my Tweet… and I can‘t seem to be quiet when it comes to two subjects:
  • Blending of foreign wines and marketing them as Canadian
  • Wine agencies that push inflexible support for the ‘Monopoly’
Follow strictlytasting on TwitterOverall, Twitter is both informative and flexible. It's a 'living' thing and I'm still learning the art of discussion within 140 characters or less. Wish me luck and prudence.
Cheers, Ww