Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pairing Wine and Music: 2 Tasted of 2

Old Man River
Steve Shanahan, @BottleDJ, is a wine aficionado with a difference.  His bent is matching a wine with a musical genre: pop/classical/folk singer, classical/jazz orchestration, hiphop, rap etc. and within the genre a specific 'track'. I'm not sure when I stumbled upon his blog and, finding the approach interesting, trying my own matching. At the time the distraction didn't last as 'strictlytasting' was my main focus.

Tweets of October 27th introduced a piano solo of 'Old Man River' by jazz pianist Keith Jarrett at Soundcloud . Suggested by Tim Atkin , @Timatkin, as a track to be listened to on a quiet Saturday evening I became engaged once again with this pairing notion. Sitting back at my computer with the sound fairly soft I started imagining, in the quiet of Saturday evening - sometimes I lead a solitary life - but I could not link a wine with the music. However, @BottleDJ  could and did genre to genre or, in this case, Old Man River to a Vouvray or South African Chenin Blanc. 

Now I was driven, literally... to the local Outlet which provided two wines priced low and high and listed below. They became my initial training ground for an attempt at acquiring this pairing skill. I expect to find it to be a mental exercise made more enjoyable by the beverage. At this point, I'd say I'm mentally challenged.  

If you find yourself having a solitary moment try it!  Start with a music interlude or a wine on hand with the objective of finding a match within your cellar and music library. You can't tell how many pairings you'll have for each attempt. This could lead to a wonderful party game, couldn't it? You can always drop by BottleDJ  for encouragement.

Salut, Ww

WINES to PAIR with Old Man River , piano solo performed by Keith Jarrett

  • Simonsig Chenin Avec Chêne Chenin Blanc 2009, *92-1  -- V, Stellenbosch, South Africa, #282772  $28.95
  • Bougrier Vouvray Chenin Blanc 2011, 87-1  --  G, Loire, France, #253229  $12.60
Soundcloud - Keith Jarrett, Old Man River

With the headstart from @bottleDJ  I found, mysteriously, the extra flavours of the Simonsig went nicely with much of Keith Jarrett's jazz solo. The spice and subtle crème brulée scent added a fullness during the intro. Later stanzas built depth and intricacy on the base melody as did the Simonsig build character through layers of textures, tastes and aromas.

On the other hand, the sweetness of the Vouvray had an initial allure but quickly faded. Pleasing as a sipper, without a substantial nose it failed to link from the start and also as the solo progressed. There's a yin-yang between music and wine that builds on each other as the piano solo introduces variations, from playful staccato, melancholy minor, upbeat crescendo, etc.

As the bottleDJ says "Wine and music matching is not about measuring qualities, it is a leap into the great unknown and the pursuit of value in each wine being paired with music."   

I figure it's a start.

Afterthought: Being able to translate a symbionic relationship into words needs a vocabulary, in this case tools that more comfortably describe `music`.  Two websites that, at this stage, might help: Oracle Thinkquest  and Classics for Kids .

Now... what wines would you suggest for the following?

Cheers, Ww


Tasting was planned around two pizzas: Smoked salmon on a thin whole wheat crust and a second topping of anchovies, both with finely chopped Enoki and Brown mushrooms, and Dill Cream sauce spread evenly to the edge. The Simonsig spice and full flavour was up to the task supporting nicely the salmon and even the anchovies.

SIMONSIG CHENIN AVEC CHÊNE CHENIN BLANC 2009, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 14.5% D 5.1g/L, #282772  $28.95  (Tasted October 29, 2012) CS
Released by Vintages on September 29, 2012.
Vintages Description: As its title suggests, the 2009 Chenin Avec Chêne is aged in 400-liter French oak barrels for 11 months of which one-third are new. The nose shows great varietal character with wet wool, dried honey and a touch of lanolin with fine delineation. The palate is very well balanced, polished by that new oak (although personally I might have used a little less.) Nevertheless it has an irresistible finish of honeycomb, pear and white peach that is entrancing. Drink now-2017. Score - 93. (Neal Martin, Aug. 2011)

The Match: Smoked Salmon Mrooms Mozzarella
My notes:  An 'old gold' taint to a mid gold and a faint tangy crème brûlée on the nose. The film is thin and quickly sheds long legs from a lacy rim. The first sip has a number of things going on: bright threads of acid, a silky texture and flavours of honey, pear and lemon, each being distinct and overall, a prominent blending.  Finishes dry and mildly puckering. Best paired with seafood dishes or white fowl.  Cellaring for several years not likely to improve further.  92* (Added pts on retaste for cellar potential and complexity)

BOUGRIER VOUVRAY CHENIN BLANC 2011, Loire, France, 12.0% M 25g/L, #253229  $12.60 (Tasted October 29, 2012)  CS
A General listing.

LCBO Description:  Light gold colour with aromas peach, pair and mango, slightly off dry, good acidity, light-medium body. Serve with chicken stir fry, mango salad.

My notes: A crisp mid gold with a taint of green. The thin film glides slowly down the glass as a continuous ring and grassy aromas of citrus have a tender touch. Light pear, butter and tart lemon flavours are surprisingly sweet to the palate then slowly fade to a tangy layer of sugar as an ending. This could introduce an appetizer tray to the table or complement a spicy Thai, Bento Box or a cracked Lobster entrée. Cellaring for several years may add more complexity - it's a pleasing summer sipper or off-dry drink-now.  87

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Birthday Bottles: 10 Tasted of 10

This is the 38th year I've turned 39 and my body feels like its been in an intriguing single minded beverage quest that long. Each of my doctors over the years has advised me to reduce my wine consumption. FAT CHANCE!  I'm sure I won't need formaldehyde when it's my turn.

I've concluded that LCBO's Wines of the Month feature does highlight some worthwhile wines - of 16 tasted from February to September this year eight were at the 'Buy a Few More' Value level and one at the 'Stock Up' level. However four were in the low 80's and another at 72.

Purchasing Wines of the Month monthly without a recommendation, not including the Vintages Panel, leads one to purchase some bummers so much so I've given up my focus on WOMs in Vintages Releases. 

I've had better luck purchasing by the aesthetics of the label believing an ethical winemaker/winery will have deliberated not only on what's in the bottle but also on style, wording, graphics carrying his message.  Yes, perhaps I'm naive. Of course Marketing can choose to be traditional or classical at times and the label approach isn't foolproof.  I refuse to buy labels that are dressed in khaki greens and browns, in cartoon primary colours or in tasteless epithets of an entitled or a 'party' generation. Neither do I favour labels that are garish entrepreneur/showman or celebrity themed. They have their own following.

As it was both my Birthday and Thanksgiving weekend I've had the opportunity of tasting other people's picks, ie. wines served to their guests over the long weekend.... and then there were gift wines, many exceeding my price ceiling, given by generous friends/relatives.  I'm very grateful - a real lucky pup!

Salut, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, rosés, bubblies and other:

  • I Giusti & Zanza Belcore 2009, 94a-3  --  V, Tuscany, Italy, #652990 $23.95
  • Wolf Blass Grey Label Robe Mount Benson Shiraz Cabernet 2009,  94-2  --  G,  Nuriootpa, Australia, #261487  $35.95 
  • First Drop Half & Half Shiraz/Monastrell 2010, 90-1  --  V, Nurioopta, Australia,  #285452  $21.95 
  • Yalumba Shiraz/Viognier 2008,  89-1  --  V, Eden Valley, Australia,  #524926  $21.95
  • Beringer Founder's Estate Merlot 2010, 87-1  --  G, Napa, California,  #534255 $16.95*   

  • Domaine Seguinot-Bordet Chablis 2010, 88-1  --  V, Burgundy, France, #289371 $19.95
  • Churton Sauvignon Blanc 2010,  88  --  V, Marlborough, NZ,  #159244 $23.95 
  • Beringer Napa Valley Chardonnay 2010,  85  --  V, Napa Valley, California, #084988 $27.95 
  • Firriato Chiaramonte (Ansonica) 2009, 83  --  V, Sicily, Italy,  #211870 $16.25   

  • Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Pinks Dry Rose 2011, 83  --  V, Central Coast, California, #277970  $19.95
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


HARTLEY OSTINI HITCHING POST PINKS DRY ROSÉ 2011, Central Coast, California, 13.7% XD 2g/L, #277970  $19.95  (Tasted November 1, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on June 9, 2012. A blend of 75% Valdiguie and 25% Pinot Noir grapes.  My notes: A bright cherry red with negligible nose, perhaps a soft crushed white cherry. The film sticks then many fast legs cascade for a continuous rim. A subtle flavour of crushed white cherry, watermelon and crushed cherry stone is part of a pleasing first extra dry sip. The finish has a dry blend without a conspicuous flavour. Sipping with an ice cream selection - a caramel pistachio would do it for me. A drink now - don't think it's for cellaring.  83
BERINGER  NAPA VALLEY CHARDONNAY 2010, Napa Valley, California, 14.1%  D  xg/L, #084988  $27.95  (Tasted October 23, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on September 1, 2012 and rated 91 by Daenna Van Mulligan  (April 18, 2012).  My notes: A delicate nose, some burnt butter and apple mixed with melon and a mid gold colour. A smooth film with a continuous rim that drains quickly through long legs. The first sip is silky with a strong caramel apple followed by a mineral aftertaste that carries a long dry finish. Not that appetizing as a sipper but has the body and tang to go nicely with cod or halibut on Thai vegetables. Should cellar a few years but without improving and may decline. 85

YALUMBA SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2008, Eden Valley, Australia, 14.5% XD 6g/L, #524926   $21.95  (Tasted October 22, 2012)  CS
A Release Date is not given.  My notes: Grapes of the two varieties are co-fermented. A faint blackberry plum nose sets up moderate expectations while a firm film with many slow tears says it's smooth. The first sip is full-bodied, silky with a firm bite and penetrating spicy berry flavours. A smooth coating on the palate stays for a long warm finish ending dry yet still with a silkiness on the lips. Warm and flavourful as a sipper - wouldn't take backseat with a buffet table of nibbles. A suitable partner for rack of lamb or beef bourguignon - was beautiful with Osso Buco. Cellaring may not enhance but would keep a few on hand for the right savoury dinner.  89

DOMAINE SÉGUINOT-BORDET  CHABLIS 2010,  Burgundy, France, 12.5%  XD  4g/L, #289371  $19.95  (Tasted November 5, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on September 15, 2012 and rated 88-91 by Allen Meadows  (October 2011).  My notes:  88-91! That's covering the bases! Production was 70,000 bottles. This has a crisp golden colour and a nutty nose with elements of citrus, floral and fruit. The first sip has prominent flavours of soft butter, tart lemon with a lime taint and leaving a extra dry lining on the palate up to a tangy end. A classic Chardonnay from 15 to 20 year-old vines and fills the need for a strong seafood or fowl white. Pair with battered halibut and chips or a broiled whole chicken with a vegetable broth side. Cellaring for several years or serving now well chilled (8-10oC) then let 'warm' (10-12oC) to allow its many characters to evolve.  88

I GIUSTI & ZANZA BELCORE 2009, Tuscany, Italy, 14.5% XD xg/L, #652990  $23.95  (Tasted October 15, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on September 15, 2012 and rated 91 by Bruce Sanderson,   (October 15, 2011). My notes:  A blend of Sangiovese and Merlot giving a royal hue to deep ruby. The nose has an interesting spice and plum scent that penetrates the olfactory. A viscous film sticks to the glass and slowly disappears without tearing. Smooth with fine tannins and a bright tang followed by rich blackberry and cranberry flavours. Very warm through a long finish with luscious berries lasting to a dry satin smooth ending. A sipper that takes the breath away with its lip smacking richness. Have with pepper steak or a thinly sliced sirloin in a red wine and peppercorn sauce. Now three years on and could go another six. Aerating makes for a smoother sip.  94a

WOLF BLASS  GREY LABEL ROBE MOUNT BENSON SHIRAZ CABERNET 2009,  Nuriootpa, Australia, 14.5% D 6g/L, #261487  $35.95  (Tasted November 9, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  A swirl instantly shows a thick film with snail's pace tears until lacy islands remain. The colour has a brooding purple cat to dark ruby and a nose wafting strong blueberry and currant aromas on pouring. Silky smooth, tangy bright, fine tannins and rich berry flavours starting fresh and shifting to a brambly currant over a long dry finish. An enjoyable sipper and would complement a charcuterie of shaved Italian meats and strong cheeses. Also pair with grilled steaks or rack of lamb well seasoned. Cellaring another three to six years OK but drinking well now. Warm - not hot.  94

CHURTON SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5%  XD  2g/L,  #159244  $23.95  (Tasted October 18, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on July 7, 2012 and rated 4 of 5 (90-93) by Rod Phillips (May 11, 2012).  My notes:  A crisp mid golden with mild aromas of gooseberry and floral lemon - a hint of pond scum too. The film drains from a lacy rim through a cascade of long tears. Medium-bodied, tangy, a chalky dryness layers the mouth continuing through a moderate finish ending chalk dry. Either quaff neat or with a squeeze of orange on a warm summer day or pair with shrimp kebabs or seared white fish filets. Not the usual 'Marlborough' - a cross between Europe leaning to NZ and a drink now. 88

FIRRIATO CHIARAMONTE (ANSONICA) 2009,  Sicily, Italy,  13.0% D  xg/L, #211870  $16.25  (Tasted October 22, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on April 30, 2011.  Ansonica is a synonym for the Sicilian white variety Inzolia and this vintage was rated 89 by Antonio Galloni   (June 2010).  My notes: Planted mostly in Sicily but also Tuscany for its aromatics and nuttiness potential. This is a mid gold and leaves a film that sticks then slowly drains from the rim showing some slow tearing. Light floral with a light citrus for a nose while the first sip is smooth, medium-bodied and with a citrus leaning. The finish has a silky texture while the flavour mellows to a tangy melon. A tad hollow as a sipper but interesting for its aloof tang and texture. Acids may fade paired with seasoned entrees, was OK with bbq'd lemon sprinkled chicken - likely better with hard shelled seafoods.  83

BERINGER FOUNDERS ESTATE MERLOT 2010, Napa, California, 13.9%  D  6g/L, #534255  $16.95*  (Tasted October 25, 2012)  CS

A General listing and rgularly priced $18.95, reduced until November 11th.  My Notes: This Merlot was tasted at Michael's Back Door and found to be 'flat' - wanted to confirm one way or t'other. There's a tinge of purple to a dense ruby and a swirl brings a film that sticks and quickly leaves a rim that hangs fast legs then lacy patterns on the glass. The nose is a spicy berry with an earthy warmth that invites that first sip. Soft and nippy with a blackberry scent, fine tannins and drying to the palate - no sweetness that I could sense.  Have with a T-bone, rack of lamb, tenderloin slices or a rich ragout. A drink now. Restaurant By-the-Glass wines can sit for a few days - buy by the bottle or not at all.  87

FIRST DROP HALF & HALF SHIRAZ/MONASTRELL 2010, Nurioopta, Australia, 14.5%  XD  4g/L, #285452  $21.95  (Tasted October 20, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on October 17, 2012 and rated 90 by Josh Reynolds, International Wine Cellar (July 2012).  My notes:A dense black cherry colour with a warm scent of crushed berries, part rasp- and part black- edged slightly with white pepper.  A thick film sticks and stays before slowly forming tears and sliding down from the contiguous rim. The first sip has a bite, fine tannins and a full-bodied crush of berries shifting to a full lining of warm velvet. If you enjoy bold this is your sipper! If you prefer subtlety and elegance it's not. Have with seasoned grilled red meats or a full flavoured stew or lamb shank. Cellar up to four years, perhaps longer.  90-1

Monday, October 01, 2012

October 2012 Wines: 25 Tasted of 25

The start of wines to be tasted during October are listed below. Included so far are seven Ontario VQAs consisting of two from Cave Spring Estate, two from Flat Rock Cellars, and singles from Colio Estate Vineyards, Angels Gate and Tawse. Among the twenty-five there are five Pinot Noir, four Chardonnay, two Sauvignon Blanc, a viognier and two bubbly.

Perhaps illustrating what a difference a vintage makes are the two 'O's from France.

If you have a chance pick up a bottle let me know what you think. We don`t have to match - your taste is yours and mine is mine.

Happy tasting, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, rosés, bubblies and other:

  • 'O' Pinot Noir by Gilles Louvet Organic 2010,  90-2 --  G, Narbonne, France, #292995   $13.95
  • J.P. Chenet Limited Release Premier de Cuvée Pinot Noir 2011, 89-2  --  G, Midi, France, #142406   $11.95
  • Ferraton Père & Fils Plan de Dieu Côtes de Rhône-Village 2009,  89-2  --  V, Rhône, France, #074229   $15.95
  • Domaine Boisson Côtes du Rhône-Villages Cairanne 2009, 89a-1  --  V, Vaucluse, France,  #264630  $19.95 
  • Vina Tarapacà Gran Reserva Carmenere 2010, 88a-1  --  V, Maipo Valley, Chile,  #057513  $16.95 
  • Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 88a-1  --  V, Jordan, Ontario, #001545  $19.95
  • Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir 2010 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 87  --  V, Jordan, Ontario, #001560  $29.95 
  • Cave Spring Estate Cave Red 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86-1a  --  G, Jordan, Ontario, #305110  $14.95
  • J.P. Chenet Premier de Cuvée Merlot Cabernet 2010, 85-1  --  G, Pays d'Oc, France,  #621995 $10.95*  
  • Fuzion Alta Reserve Malbec 2011, 83  -- G, Maipu, Argentina, #135475 $9.95
  • 'O' Pinot Noir by Gilles Louvet Organic 2011,  83 --  G, Narbonne, France, #292995   $13.95 
  • Gabbiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2009, 83  --  G, Chianti, Italy,  #292995 $14.95* 
  • Château Paul Mas Clos des Mures 2010 Coteaux de Languedoc, 83a  --  V, Midi, France, #286393  $18.95 

  • Anakena Lilen Single Vineyard Viognier 2011, 92-3  --  V,  Rapel Valley, Chile,  #045138 $14.95
  • Dog Point Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 92-2  --  V,  Marlborough, NZ, #677450    $21.95
  • Quintay Q Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 90-2  --  V, Casablanca, Chile, #276493 $14.95 
  • Tawse Quarry Road Riesling 2011 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 88  --  V, Vineland, Ontario, #198853  $23.95 
  • Cave Spring Estate Cave White 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 87a-1  --  G, Jordan, Ontario, #305128  $14.95
  • William Fèvre Champs Royaux Chablis 2011, 85  --  G, Burgundy, France, #276436  $22.05
  • Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2010, 84  --  V, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #738393 $17.95
  • Angels Gate Mountainview Chardonnay 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench,  83  --  V, Beamsville, Ontario, #116384  $18.95 
  • J.P. Chenet Reserve Premier de Cuvée Chardonnay 2011, 81  --  G, Pays d'Oc, France,  #255885  $9.95
  • Colio Estate Vineyards CEV Chardonnay Musqué 2007 VQA Lake Erie North Shore, 78  --  V, Harrow, Ontario, #116509  $15.55 

  • Domaine de Nerleux le Folie des Loups Brut Crémant de Loire NV,  84  --  V, Loire, France,  #048686 $16.95
  • Reyes d'Aragon Brut Reserva Cava 2009, 79  --  V,  Calatuyad, Spain, #194803  $13.95
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


CHÂTEAU PAUL MAS CLOS DES MÛRES 2010 COTEAUX DU LANGUEDOC, Midi, France, 14.0%  D  4g/L,  #286393  $18.95  (Tasted October 30, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on August 18, 2012. Rated 4 of 5 by Decanter  and winner of a Silver Medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards  (2011). With a bottle weight of close to 2 lbs. and 88,772 produced there's potential for over 80 Tons of glass in landfill as well as a massive carbon footprint.  Designated a Grand Vin du Languedoc. The colour is a royal ruby and a swirl lays a firm film to shed long legs from a continuous rim. The nose has a soft berry scent. The first sip has a penetrating tang, fine tannins and a background of woody red cherry flavours. The finish is moderate ending extra dry and brambly. Aerating lessens the overall sharpness without affecting flavours or texture and is preferred. A meal red to pair with dark meat fowl or bbq'd pork ribs or chops with a cherry sauce. A drink now.  83a

ERRÁZURIZ WILD FERMENT CHARDONNAY 2010, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 14.5% D 2.18g/L, #738393 $17.95 (Tasted October 18, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on May 12, 2012. Rated 88 by James Molesworth  (Nov 30, 2011)  My notes: The 'Wild Ferment' Pinot Noir, 2005 and 2007 vintages, were tasted previously without high ratings - I wondered how a wild white will fare? Spicy pear, honey and lime are scents that come to mind when sniffing. A pale gold tinted slightly green and producing a film that sticks then separates from a lacy rim. The first sip is stringent, strongly flavoured with enough honey to tame a clean-your-teeth subtle lemon/lime - still with lots of tang left to be refreshing, if you're so inclined. Ends dry with dominant flavour remnants. A flexible sipper not solo but with a buffet table of choices or pair with a salmon steak, lemon scallops with brown rice or spicy Thai. Could keep for several years without improving. A drink now.  84

ANGELS GATE MOUNTAINVIEW CHARDONNAY 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.5%  D  2g/L,  #116384  $18.95  (Tasted October 26, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on July 20, 2012 and rated 90 by Gord Stimmell   (May 31, 2012).  My notes: A faint tart nutty nose and a mid gold colour. The film sticks then flows long legs, an interesting decoration if one looks. Silky with an orange melon blend, a touch of sweet (my guess is 12g/L) and a lengthy finish ending with a tangy citrus almond pear combination. A smidge too viscous and a different flavour blend for my chardonnay - perhaps an Ontario view. Sip if you lean to Ontario... have with chicken cordon bleu or apple stuffed pork chop. A drink now.  83

FERRATON PÈRE & FILS PLAN DE DIEU CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGE 2009, Rhône, France, 14.5% XD 5g/L, #074229   $15.95  (Tasted October 3, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on September 15, 2012 and rated 89 by James Molseworth  (May 31, 2011).  My notes: Lays a thin film on the glass that slowly fragments into lacy islands. Has a dusty ruby shade and a spicy black cherry plum aroma. A pronounced acid brightens the palate and a smooth texture tries to appease while a soft flavour of cherry preserve entertains. In the end the flavours and texture win leaving the mouth dry, silky and warm. A pleasing earthy sipper with enough length for interest. Have with T-bone steak or beef eaters delight pizza. A drink now or cellar up to four years. 89

CAVE SPRING ESTATE CAVE RED 2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Ontario, 13.0% XD 5g/L, #305110  $14.95  (Tasted October 1, 2012)  CS
A General listing. My notes:A dusty ruby colour with a dusty blackberry strawberry scent, slow to develop, to start the tasting. The film is smooth on the glass and recedes very quickly from a continuous lacy rim. The first sip has a silky touch and a polite acid to complement berry flavours. Tannins leave the palate dry along with flavour remnants then ends with a touch of tobacco and bramble.  A meal red with some appeal as a sipper - better with a buffet of nibbles or have with T-bones grilled on the barbecue or beef tenderloin both covered in sautéed mushrooms. Aerating brings fruit forward slightly and is recommended. A drink now.  86a

CAVE SPRING ESTATE CAVE WHITE 2011 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Ontario, 12.5% XD 3g/L, #305128   $14.95  (Tasted October 16, 2012)  CS
A General listing.  My notes: A crystal clear pale blond with a thin film that leaves a lacy rim to recede to a few small nodules. The first sip follows the nose having a taste of grapefruit pith, a touch of gooseberry and mineral the latter coming forward during a long extra dry finish. I found sipping needed a buffet selection: your choice of firm cheeses, stuffed mushrooms, shrimp ring or seared scallops. Aerating softened a light bitterness. Have with a slice of lime or lemon and cube for summer drinking - texture is great with Swiss Chalet chicken or leftover Turkey. A clean drink now.  87a 

REYES D'ARAGON BRUT RESERVA CAVA 2009,  Calatuyad, Spain, 11.5%  D  10g/L, #194803  $13.95  (Tasted October 24, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on September 1, 2012. A Bodegas Langa Hnos Brut and a blend of 70% Macabeo and 30% Chardonnay.   My notes: Priced at $8 in the US.  A mid gold that bursts with a full range of bubbles then continuous streams from the glass. The nose is a blend of a light lacquer, Bosc pear and soft lime that fills the first sip with a medium-bodied, tart date and lime flavour. Not my idea of a toasting bubbly nor one to drink unless with broiled garlic toasts or bruschetta.  May complement escargot or hard shelled crustacean pieces with a salsa sauce. I believe the process has distorted the blend of two fine grapes. Not for the cellar. An acquired taste - not mine.  79

DOMAINE BOISSON CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES CAIRANNE 2009, Vaucluse, France, 15.0% D 4g/L, #264630  $19.95  (Tasted October 23, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on May 12, 2012 and rated 90 by Robert Parker Jr.  (October 2010).   My notes: A blend of 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre and 10% Carignan.  A nose of peppery berry edged with light tobacco and a deep plum opaque to view. The film sticks and leaves a contiguous rim hanging several slow tears. Full-bodied with furry tannins covering the throat and tongue, a light spice added to a light acid and extra dry to start a long warm finish with a cherry twist. Aerating lessens furriness. Doesn't reach 'hot' in spite of the alcohol level. Sip with a taste breaker, ie. stuffed mushrooms or bacon wrapped asparagus or pair with a veal stew. A drink now.  89a

TAWSE QUARRY ROAD RIESLING 2011 VQA Vinemount Ridge, Vineland, Ontario, 10.0%  M  21g/L, #198853   $23.95  (Tasted November 3, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on March 31, 2012 and rated 92 by John Szabo, MS (August 2012).  My notes:A light golden blond with a delicate pear apple scent, subtle floral if given a few minutes to develop. A thin film lays a lacy rim then slowly slides down. A touch of sweet apple and a thin chalk followed by a luscious density and more dolomite. A whisper of petrol, in the background, with the build-up of chalk gives additional interest as a sipper. Have with Thai or Chinese - not too seasoned... or with a white fish filet on a bed of rice with pineapple/mango sauce. Should develop more over three years - a crowd pleaser now. 88

VIÑA TARAPACÁ GRAN RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2010, Maipo Valley, Chile,  14.5%  XD  4g/L, #057513  $16.95  (Tasted November 1, 2012)  CS
Released by Vintages on September 1, 2012.  My notes:A musty but brightly edged cherry aroma with the colour of black cherries. Decanting or aerating (my choice) is recommended. The film is viscous with a solid rim and many long slow legs. The first sip has a penetrating acid, is smooth and has flavours of cranberry, plum and faint cedar, extra dry and full-bodied ending very warm. I'd guess, since I'm not a cigar lover, this would sip nicely with a mellow smoke - but not solo. Pair with a cheese tray, with gamey meats or Barbarian rubbed steaks or ribs. Cellaring for several years could work out - drink now then decide.  88a     

FLAT ROCK CELLARS PINOT NOIR 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Jordan, Ontario,  12.5%  XD  5g/L,  #001545  $19.95  (Tasted October 11, 2012)  CS
Release by Vintages on April 18, 2012.  My notes: A sombre hue to a deep strawberry black cherry red and a first sniff of crushed strawberries. A swirl leaves a thin film to quickly recede from a lacy rim until only a minor trace is left. A pleasing tang, fine tannins, beet juice, strawberry, a silky texture and a long mineral finish all set the stage for sipping. The emphasis here leans to process rather than fresh fruit. Tonight we'll have it with grilled Atlantic salmon (did not pair - went to a Chard). I found decanting/aerating increased the smoothness while mellowing some of the acid so would recommend - the difference is subtle. Cellaring several years is likely - try two at a time. 88a

FLAT ROCK CELLARS GRAVITY PINOT NOIR 2010 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Jordan, Ontario,  13.2%  XD  3g/L,  #001560  $29.95  (Tasted October 13, 2012)  CS
Release date by Vintages is unknown.  My notes: There's a crushed strawberry hue to a clear and crisp colour and a hint of cedar to a sour cherry sniff. A swirl leaves a thin film and lacy rim that quickly recedes into small islands. The first sip has a crushed cherry flavour, earthy with a light tannin & matching acid, and a depth that carries into a long extra dry mineral finish. A rush to judgment could miss the subtleties as character builds with each sip. Aerating an oz. provided a side by side comparison but there's no difference. A lightweight to sip or to pair - quaff with a cheese or pastry tray, party shrimp - no dip. For a meal I'd try thinly sliced cold turkey or chicken breast with asparagus, scallops seared in butter or in a creamy pasta - no garlic. A drink now for Ontario oenophiles.  87

COLIO ESTATE VINEYARDS CEV CHARDONNAY MUSQUÉ 2007 VQA Lake Erie North Shore, Harrow, Ontario,  12.4% D 7.5g/L, #116509  $15.55  (Tasted October 14, 2012)  CS
Vintages Release date is not given.  My notes:  This could be the first white from this sub-app, Lake Erie North Shore, and from this winery I've tasted. The colour is a mid yellow and the nose has a faint vanilla and citrus scent. The film sticks to the sides until accumulating then flowing slow tears. The first sip has a lemon tang, a viscosity carrying lemon flavours then into a long, extra dry citrus, spice and light butterscotch finish. Unappealing as a sipper with the process masking marginal natural fruit  - perhaps an unfamiliar terroir. Pair with roast chicken or pork chops with orange or mango sauce. Was compatible with Turkey Burgers and green salad.  A drink now.  78

'O' PINOT NOIR BY GILLES LOUVET ORGANIC 2010, Narbonne, France, 13.5% D 7g/L, #292995   $13.95  (Tasted October 13, 2012)  CS
A General listing produced by Celliers Du Languedoc Vins Distribu.  My notes:  The 'O' is for Organic. John Szabo, MS gave this a thumbs up. The colour is of black cherry skins and shows a film that slowly drains on the glass from an initially smooth rim. The nose has a blackberry with a few raspberries in the blend and earthy. Medium-bodied, silky smooth, a good tang. a layer of fine tannins and flavours of raspberry/blackberry slow to come forward but builds. The finish is bright and long, extra dry and on the earthy side. I enjoyed this as a sipper and it's likely a crowd pleaser. Pair with grilled or roasted beef, wild meats and meat lovers' pizza. Aged two years now and could develop further over another four before declining. No change with aerating.  90 

'O' PINOT NOIR BY GILLES LOUVET ORGANIC 2011, Narbonne, France, 13.5% XD 7g/L, #292995   $13.95  (Tasted November 15, 2012)  CS

My notes:  I noticed the 2011 vintage was on the General shelf and wanted to see if there were differences from the 2010. Similar but a lighter colour, a thinner film with a lacy rim draining through fast legs. A scant berry nose and a first sip being lighter in body with drying tannins and appealing flavours of red cherries - leaves the mouth dry. An OK sipper but not outstanding. A quaffer. Pair with meat lover's pizza or grilled sausage on a bun. I'd say leave the 2011 on the shelf for someone else.  83  

J.P. CHENET LIMITED RELEASE PREMIER DE CUVÉE PINOT NOIR 2011, Midi, France, 12.5% XD 4g/L, #142406   $11.95  (Tasted October 5, 2012)  CS
A General listing made by Les Grands Chais De France.  My notes:  The colour is a purple hued ruby, dense in the glass, and a swirl leaves a smooth film with a continuous rim that slowly sheds tears. An aroma of blackberries and strawberries somewhat spicy and a tad jammy. The first sip is full of flavour, a drying tannin coats the palate while a long finish shifts to an earthiness. Extra dry and full flavoured makes this an aggressive red. I enjoyed its boldness but overall it may tire as a sipper - pair with broiled turkey or duck meat with a sausage stuffing. Could also work with grilled beef or a rich stroganoff with egg noodles. Cellaring several years may mellow some roughness. 89

DOG POINT VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011, Marlborough, NZ, 13.5% XD 5g/L, #677450   $21.95  (Tasted October 25, 2012) CS

Released by Vintages on September 29, 2012 and produced by ex-Cloudy Bay Ivan Sutherland and James Healy.  My notes:  As far as the nose, Cloudy Bay has followed the winemaker to Dog Point. Beautifully full of Marlborough gooseberries, rich, tang with a real fruit mild sugar. You can sense the saltspray in the air from a sun drenched Ocean. A touch of spritz in a light straw colour and a moderate film running long legs hint of silk which is confirmed by the first sip. Except for the soft texture there's the same terroir as CB, the same tang and inviting flavours to interest a sipper. Have with lightly seasoned fish, tilapia, cod or halibut on a bed of basmati rice. Cellar four years then check - drinking well now.  Serve well chilled.  92

QUINTAY 'Q' SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011, Casablanca, Chile, 13.0% XD 3g/L, #276493  $14.95  (Tasted November 1, 2012)  CS

Release by Vintages on April 14, 2012.  My notes: A light blond and aromas of freshly crushed gooseberries, delicious. Leaves a slowly receding rim with a few slow tears. Quite tangy on the first and then, every sip, extra drying and a lightish medium-bodied with a fruit that's refreshing. Sip or quaff on a hot day or with a buffet table of hors d'oeuvres: bacon wrapped asparagus, brick and soft cheeses - or with a range of seafoods and fowl entrées. Finishes leaving a chalky dryness. Cellar for a few years but is drinking well now. Stock up if you want an economical kiwi style savvy on hand. 90-2

DOMAINE DE NERLEUX LE FOLIE DES LOUPS BRUT CRÉMANT DE LOIRE NV, Loire, France, 12.5%  XD  7g/L, #048686   $16.95  (Tasted tbd)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 4, 2012 and rated 88 by John Szabo, MS (March 30, 2010).  My notes:  A mid golden colour and a release of a profusion of bubbles of all sizes but no fine froth at the rim. Tart apple and soft pastry compose most of the nose, made more refreshing by the level of spritz that tickles the palate adding another dimension - flavours are faint lemon and light crabapple. The finish ends extra dry with a metallic touch. Perhaps too tart for a general crowd - have with raw oysters, battered fish filets or halibut and chips. Tonight we'll pair with pickerel lightly panko'd and pan fried.  84

FUZION  ALTA RESERVE MALBEC 2011, Maipu, Argentina, 13.5% XD 4g/L, #135475  $9.95  (Tasted October 28, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  The 2008 vintage was enjoyed in October 2009 and rated 90 saying 'not bold, not demonstrative but a pleasing sipper'. Either me or the wine took a dip when the 2009 vintage was tasted in June 2011 rated 80.  The 2011 has the soft purple of Malbec with a nose that seems reluctant to show, then a light black- rasp- berry. The first sip is double smooth, a lightish medium-body. Flavours of smoky blackberry with a texture of suede, respectably tangy for sipping. Pair with grilled meats or Italian sausage. Nobody could be offended with this as a house red (free). I'd say it's more like a Merlot except for the colour.  A drink now.  83

ANAKENA LILÉN SINGLE VINEYARD VIOGNIER 2011,  Rapel Valley, Chile, 13.5%  D  xg/L, #045138  $14.95  (Tasted November 9, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on August 18, 2012.  My notes:  The 2010 vintage, a loonie less, was rated 90 August 20th last year.  A subtle floral papaya greets the nose from a delicate crisp golden making this appealing from the start. A swirl lays a lacy film that recedes slowly and evenly. The first sip introduces a silky tangy texture, flavour of papaya and lychee nut starting a long luscious finish ending refreshing and dry with a touch of mineral oil on the lips. Pleasing as a sipper and with sufficient character to complement a wide range of seafoods. Cellar for a few years. 92

J.P. CHENET RESERVE PREMIER DE CUVÉE CHARDONNAY 2011, Pays d'Oc, France, 13.0% XD 5g/L, #255885   $9.95  (Tasted October 10, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  A clean & deep lemon colour with a touch of butter with lemon on the nose. The film is thin and leaves a lacy rim before falling gradually wihtout a trace left behind. The first sip has butter, lemon, lime, pineapple flavours, medium-bodied with a sharp acid accent. The finish is long ending with mild pineapple edged, grassy with slightly burnt butter. A commercial sipper if that's your bent... more of a meal white strong enough to complement flavourful roast chicken, a vegetarian pizza or even breaded salmon steaks. A drink now and an alternative to [yellowtail].  81

J.P. CHENET PREMIER DE CUVÉE MERLOT CABERNET 2010, Pays d'Oc, France, 13.0%  D  8g/L, #621995  $10.95*  (Tasted October 17, 2012)  CS

A General listing and *price reduced from $11.95 until October 14th.  My notes:  This vintage was tasted in March this year and rated 84... I'll see if I get the same results this time around with the new temporary price. A dense ruby colour leaving a lacy rim quickly draining through long fast legs. The first sip is silky, with modest tannins and lightly tart wrapped around earthy flavours of raspberry and blackberry. A dry, fruity sipper with a long mellow finish. Have with meaty pizzas or well done rack of lamb. Spicy entrees may overpower this red - stick to wine sauces or lightly rosemary'd roast turkey or sausage stuffed quail.  A social hour drink now.  85

GABBIANO  CHIANTI CLASSICO DOCG 2009,  Chianti, Italy, 13.5% XD  4g/L,  #219808  $14.95*  (Tasted November 3, 2012)  CS


A General listing and *price reduced from $16.95 until October 14th.  My notes: Their 2008 Pinot Grigio, #77990 @ $12.95, wasn't recommended when tasted in October 2009. Perhaps a style not amenable to me. A confusing heritage being 'A Foster'S Wine Estates and a Beringer Blass Italia label at the time. The film is firm with a solid rim and many slow tears. The nose is an earthy black cherry and plum combination and is reflected in the deep ruby colour. Silky smooth first sip, fine tannins, dry, medium full-bodied with milder flavours than the nose would tell. Aerating mellows the character minimally but is preferred... or decant. At peak and would partner with a meaty pizza, cheesy panzerotti, or tomato pastas dish.  83   

WILLIAM FÈVRE CHAMPS ROYAUX CHABLIS 2011, Burgundy, France, 12.5%  XD  4g/L, #276436  $22.05  (Tasted November 11, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:Several vintages have been tasted in past years, each rated 90+ and showing some improvement with cellaring. This vintage is priced $1.30 higher.  The colour has a tint of green in the light gold with a clarity of a diamond. The nose has negligible gooseberry compared to past vintages with possibly a touch of apple - disappointing. The film sticks showing a light layer and shedding long fast legs. The first sip is tangy, has a silky texture but fairly light-bodied with green apple flavours going into a finish having a touch of oil and dry mineral. Refreshing as a sipper but more of a white to pair with grilled or fried, lightly seasoned, seafood dishes. Storing a few years would be OK but not likely to improve.  85

Mission VQA Neutered

The VQA Promo
A recent blog entry offered one person's view of how Ontario consumers are educated. This entry discusses the effect consecutive LCBO campaigns have on the same person (me). But first, a brief foundation for my argument: If Ontario consumers need educating are they empty vessels now? A rhetorical question.  

They are already buying just not buying Ontario wines . So what educates consumers in the first place. There is never a point in time when the brain doesn't have content... starting from the impulse to wiggle in the womb, an impulse to cry, smile or laugh. Later in life more sophisticated thoughts are coloured by innuendo, suspicion, fantasy, bias, adding and building on experiences from our surroundings - patterning thoughts and providing  the basis for decisions. Skipping to today's issue, a visit to an LCBO Outlet or receiving one of many LCBO Glossies that arrive during Summer and Fall months motivate consumers to buy. Do they change buying habits? Some think they do, but... 

Early this month we had a 'People are Talking...' campaign highlighting VQA wines. Today I asked the LCBO cashier how the sales of VQA wines were going.  'Great!' she said. 'It's really helping the farmers'. I said 'Yes, the grapegrowers and wineries'.  'Yes', she agreed.

The NonVQA/ICB Promo

With a VQA project already underway and with consumers responding with higher VQA purchases why would a Marketing team launch a campaign that diverts buyers to nonVQA and ICB wines? Seems counterproductive to me - but then I don't know the wine business. Perhaps the second is to placate another part of the Ontario wine trade? Perhaps the thinking is to pick up the others: the plebs, the paupers, the plonk drinkers?

I'm just on the receiving end of LCBO Promotional materials... and now I'm asking myself should I switch streams? Prices for the 'new' products tend to be lower, by a factor of 2. The words urge me to make a decision, 'limited time', 'favourite wines in large format.... with large discounts'. I walk back to the Vintages section returning my VQA purchases then back to scan the ICB shelves for a Dry White, 4 litres for $30! Mmmmmm.  No doubt, if I were planning an outdoor barbecue, a Bowling Association Awards night, etc. I'd consider alternatives to VQA. Anyone interested in a refreshing drink for supper, lunch or even breakfast can't help but soak in suggestions in bold print, poetic expressions and colourful pictorials/photos of an LCBO Glossy. Put a keg with a 'No-Drip Spigot' in the fridge and be set for a week. After all it comes from a winery that puts out VQA as well - can't be that different!

Variety of Choice
Earlier this month the Glossy was filled with 32 VQA suggestions - $15 to $20. Our attention was diverted to VQA from competitors found on other shelves filled with similarly priced Imports. Today we received a Glossy for Ontario nonVQA and ICBs. If I categorize Ontario wine consumers into 3 types: plonk (a term of endearment) buyers, value conscious buyers, price-be-damned buyers, each pre-dispositioned by earlier experiences, will they change their buying habits? The product choices are:
  1. Ontario nonVQA/ICBs
  2. VQAs
  3. Premium VQAs (Vintages)
  4. Imports
A consumer can't but feel impressed with the volume and variety of choice although my guess is, after a short spurt, changing consumer VQA buying preferences has been neutered. Some call it 'shooting yourself in the foot!'.

My opinion, Ww

PS. Ratings of a few nonVQA products can be found in an August 2010 blog. Perhaps things have changed since then?