Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March 2012: 5 Chardonnays


A Blind Tasting - March 2012

For these Chardonnays I’ll be looking for two things: a ‘dolomite/mineral’ terroir and ‘value‘. *Only one of the five was tasted previously, at a local Bistro - I’ll see if it can be singled out. And will the price spread be sufficient to distinguish ‘value’ between wines - how will they relate?

I found a blind tasting of several similar wines using the ‘masked’ bottle approach to be a difficult task. Frankly I need more time with each wine than normally available during a 'social' blind tasting - repetitive visits to be able to differentiate and to evaluate. That’s not including the changes that can occur during a tasting.

Whether a ‘blind’ evaluation will be the same as enjoying a wine served on a specific occasion is unlikely. That’s a comparison still to be attempted. There’s enough information conveyed by a label alone that can lead to nuances of merit, building anticipation to pair and compare. For a ‘blind tasting’ bottles are to be hidden from even a cursory glance - ie. not left on the tasting table even when masked.

The format to be used:

  1. Use as many glasses as wines - and 'thin lipped glasses' not 'plastic - thick or thin'
  2. Pour the same amount of wine for each taster before the tasting starts - temperature makes a difference
  3. Do the pouring while the tasters mingle in a  different room, for two reasons:
  • The pourer can be distracted
  • Tasters can be distracted (Oh! I saw the corks on the counter…)
Now that glasses are poured the tasting can start:

Elements tasted can be in any order that works for the taster. To be consistent some system is recommended even the one that came with the Blind Tasting Kit. To a sole taster his system usually results in a 'top to bottom' ranking - perfectly adequate when comparing with other guests at this level.

For me, I use Wine Advocate's 100 point Rating System (WARS) with 5 components: a Base of 50, Colour of 5, Nose of 15, Flavour & Finish of 20 and the remaining 10 for cellaring Potential which I split into Cellaribility (5) and Typicity (5). 

I look at Colour and Nose together across all wines. Once satisfied that these two elements have been described for each wine I take a look at viscosity by doing the traditional swirl - I may backtrack to the nose at this point to see if any of the previous results have changed. Swirling has also told me some of what to expect of the first sip directing me to concentrate on texture, depth and body before Flavour & Finish register completely. Flavour & Finish are treated together as an element if the element itself isn’t complete - for instance, if the 'element' is Clover Honey, isn’t there an implied smoothness, a body or depth, and recognizable base flavour? ... and No, I don't do the 'sloshing in the mouth' trick. Just the manner in which I was brought up - not to make rude noises at the table. If 'aeration ' is needed I look for an aerator.

Lastly, and the least tangible, is Typicity, ie. does each wine carry elements true to a blend or grape or is there an unexpected element present? First a guess at the grape type or blend is visualized. This mental exercise often hooks into less obvious traits of the wine itself adding some complexity, or part of the vineyard practises or winemaker’s craft. Or it may be part of a chemist’s antidote for some oversight along the winemaking process. I use only 5 points for Typicity so I can’t go too far off the path. 

I admit it's methodical but this is a mental exercise of mapping tasting elements into numbers and there's not much of the structure evident that would turn a Tasting into a rigorous number crunch. Put down your key descriptors, adjust as needed within the System, add them up and a rating falls out. 

‘Value’ comes easily. Prices are ’announced’ after everyone has their say and Value follows, if needed, as a quick plot using a set of curves introduced previously in this Blog.

And now for the tastings:

.... the 5 Chardonnays are also summarized in the blog entry, March 2012 Wines.

PS. Beppi's article published March 20th in the G&M  makes a good read on the subject of  "Why wine reviews are irrelevant for most drinkers" as well as another article from last year on "Why can't wine critics choke down their biases?". 


  • Anoro Chardonnay 2009, 90-1  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #183855  $22.40 
  • *Cave Spring ‘Dolomite’ Chardonnay 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 89-1  --  O, Jordan, Ontario, #Winery  $17.95
  • Bachelder Oregon Chardonnay 2009,  87  --  V, Willamette Valley, Oregon, #273334  $34.95
  • Bachelder Bourgogne Chardonnay 2009, 86  --  V, Burgundy, France, #272005  $34.95
  • Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  82 --  V, Fenwick, Ontario, #271841  $34.95
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value)


CAVE SPRING ‘DOLOMITE’ CHARDONNAY 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Jordan, Ontario, 11.5% D, #Winery  $17.95  (Tasted March 18, 2012)

My notes:  Dining at the Solara Bistro in Clarkson we ordered this for our entrée white and enjoyed the pairing. Not on Cave Spring’s website nor the LCBO’s but can be ordered from the winery. A light straw colour and a nicely scented floral nose fronts a lacy rim that recedes slowly leaving scant trace on the glass. A bright sharpness, extra dry on the tongue with meagre butter altho’ adding some roundness to flavours of pithy lemon. An OK sipper looking for hors d’oeuvres. The finish rides a dry chalk seam right to the end. A tart and dry white needing an accompaniment of Asian foods or salmon steak to be complete. *The Solara wine picked  for its touch of floral while ability to complement a variety of appetizers.  89

BACHELDER NIAGARA CHARDONNAY 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Fenwick, Ontario, 13.0% XD, #271841  $34.95  (Tasted March 18, 2012)

My notes: One of three chardonnays produced by Thomas Bachelder illustrating 3 terroirs, this one not that specific including multiple Niagara Peninsula benches.  A clear lemon juice hue with cool lemon edge to a citrus nose and possible the ‘Niagara touch’ of blossom. The film sticks then slowly recedes as an even edge of tears and lace slips downward. The first sip is extra dry, sharply acidic with lemon most prominent given the mild flavour and finishing very dry, almost chalky.  Like biting on a lemon wedge and, I’d say, not a lone sipper. Have with buttered crustaceans pieces or with oysters on half shell. Rated as a meal white.  82
BACHELDER BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2009, Burgundy, France, 13.0% XD, #272005  $34.95 (Tasted March 18, 2012)

My notes: One of three chardonnays produced by Thomas Bachelder illustrating 3 terroirs, this one from Burgundy. A light butterscotch touch to the muted citrus nose has some interest as a sipper. A firm lacy film leaves long tears on a fragmented and bubble layered glass. The first sip leaves an extra dry layer with some warmth, a grassy pear apple flavour then a tang that quickly builds ending noticeable silky. Nose and flavour fall just short as a sipper… a flexible white to pair with subdued sauces and seafood dippers.  86

BACHELDER OREGON CHARDONNAY 2009, Willamette Valley, 13.0% XD, #273334  $34.95 (Tasted March 18, 2012)

My notes: One of three chardonnays produced by Thomas Bachelder illustrating 3 terroirs, this one from Oregon. Initially withheld from release due to a high level of natural sediment.  A light straw colour with a noticeable lemon, grapefruit, clean caramel scent including a slight sting.  A swirl sticks firmly accumulating many tears left to drop very slowly. The first sip stings while chalk dries the palate and a curious grassy flavour takes prominence over a long finish ending without a suggestion of sweetness.  A sipper if you don’t mind extra dry, meagre fruit and toward a clay finish. Try with creamy sauces and a variety of seafood.  87  

ANORO CHARDONNAY 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.2% XD, #183855  $22.40  (Tasted March 18, 2012)

A Vintages release on November 27, 2010 rated 92 by Jay Miller (August 2009).  My notes: A tad darker mid straw than the others with a spicy almond leaning toward a cool butter aroma and a film that sticks then drops a few slow tears before receding as fragments. Smooth, sharply acidic and dry followed by muted pear and lemon flavours combined in a long, warm, tangy and toasty finish. An unusual sipper with a nicely balanced profile - but not for me.  I’d recommend this as a white to pair with roast chicken to grilled Kingfish … or if Japanese fare is going have with sushi or a Bento Box of Tempura shrimp and vegetable pieces. Would cellar well short term.  90

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 2012 Wines: 20 Tasted of 20

Some of these wines, originally listed in February, were moved to this month. The two intervening blogs explain why. Now it’s time to get back to tastings.

I’ve scheduled a blind tasting of five Chardonnays in the middle of March. Why not buy a few, try one or several and match your notes with mine? I'd appreciate any feedback. The Blind Tasting can be viewed at 5 Chardonnays.

For these Chardonnays I’ll be looking for two things: a dolomite terroir and value. Only one of the five I've tasted previously, at a local Bistro, so will be curious if it can be singled out and where it places overall. The price spread should be sufficient to distinguish these wines - how will they relate in value? 

Four wines are from Beppi Crosariol’s Decanter column of March 9, 2012.  I often use Beppi’s tastings (BCxx) as, except for a few wine regions, a levelset for my own and... a colourful wine-packed glossy, My Italy, from the LCBO arrived with our G&M. This prompted four wine selections and matching recipes by David Rocco - we love fresh pizzas/pastas.

This is the second month for Vintages' Wines of the Month to be featured in Strictlytasting. Last month‘s showed good value so I thought I'd extend my focus on these Vintages recommendations?

Salut, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, and sparkles:
  • Errazuriz Don Maximiano Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, 91a-2  --  V, Aconcagua Valley, Chile, #230364 $19.95 
  • (WOM) Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, 91-2  --  V,  Mendocino County, California, #025080 $24.95
  • Ascheri Barbera d’Alba DOC 2008, 90-2  --  G, Piemonte, Italy, #219790 $13.60
  • (WOM) Domaine Thunevin-Calvet Cuvée Constance 2008, 90-2  --  V,  Midi, France, #168690 $18.95
  • KULT Terre de Chieti IGT, 87a-1  --  G, Tollo, Italy, #230805 $9.95 
  • Casa Planeta Syrah 2010, 87a-1  -- G, Sicily, Italy, #219857  $11.95 
  • J.P. Chenet Premier de Cuvée Reserve Merlot-Cabernet 2010, 84a  --  G, Pays d’Oc, France, #621995  $11.95 
  • Coppi Peucetico Primitivo 2006,  NR  --  V, Puglia, Italy, #724674 $13.95

  • Cave Spring Estate Bottled Gewurztraminer 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench,  92-2  --  O,  Jordan, Ontario,  #Winery   $17.95
  • (BT) Anoro Chardonnay 2009,  90-1  --  V, Mendoza, Argentina, #183855 $22.40
  • (BT) Cave Spring 'Dolomite' Chardonnay 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 89-1  --  O, Jordan, Ontario,  #Winery   $17.95 
  • Frescobaldi Albizzia Chardonnay Toscana 2010, 88-2  --  G, Tuscany, Italy, #266585 $11.95*
  • Sartori de Verona Marani Bianco 2009, (BC88) 88a-1  --  V, Veronese, Italy, #265405 $16.95
  • (BT) Bachelder Oregon 'Willamette Valley' Chardonnay 2009,  87  --  V, Carlson, Oregon, #273334 $34.95
  • (BT) Bachelder Bourgogne Chardonnay 2009,  86  --  V, Burgundy, France, #272005 $34.95  
  • Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 85  --  G, Marlborough, New Zealand, #426601 $15.95
  • Cave Spring 'Dolomite' Riesling 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 83  -- O, Jordan, Ontario, #Winery   $16.95 
  • (BT) Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  82  --  V, Fenwick, Ontario, #271841 $34.95 
  • Crush Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009, 77 --  G, South-West Australia, #215673 $14.55 
  • Rosewood Natalie`s Sussreserve Riesling 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, NR  --  V,  Beamsville, Ontario, #258806 $14.95

(WOM - Wine of the Month, V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated, BT - Blind Tasting)


WINES OF  THE MONTH  for April 2012 - Both released by Vintages on March 3, 2012

(WOM)HESS SELECT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Mendocino County, California, 13.5% D, #025080 $24.95  (Tasted March 30 2012)  CS 

Released by Vintages on March 3, 2012. “Winemaker Dave Guffy's standards and styling make [Hess Select] a strong brand. The new Cab, off vineyards in (42%) Mendocino County, (40%) Lake County and (18%) Napa County, is stylish and varietally correct. The fruit is black currant up front, followed by black plums, cherries, raspberry and vanilla. Tannins are chalky and acidity provides structure... ”  My notes:  The film sticks to the glass unbroken then slowly gives up tears as well as a lacework pattern. A dark cherry colour, a drying layer of tannin and flavours of woody blackberry with a black currant core makes a reserved impact on the palate.  Full-bodied with a hesitant nose needing time to build and a rich flavour profile to partner prime rib, T-bone, grilled ribs or lamb roast. Cellaring another four years may be pushing but drinking well now. 91

(WOM)DOMAINE THUNEVIN-CALVET CUVÉE CONSTANCE 2008, Midi, France, 15.0% XD, #168690 $18.95  (Tasted March 28, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on March 3, 2012. “Thunevin-Calvet's tankraised Grenache-Carignan 2008 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Constance—all from Maury and all grown on schist—displays pungent struck-flint and peat overtones, along with cocoa powder…” Rated 90 by David Schildknecht, www.erobertparker.com (June 2011)  My notes:    Pours as a granite tinged ruby, dense in the glass with aromas of ripe cherries, berries and an earthy structure. The film is firm with a solid rim slowly shedding tears. Silky with a tang and drying to the palate. A slight lacquer brightens the berries in the flavour with some red currant for lightness and a tart follow-through for a long warm finish. Not as hot as expected but warm moderated by the fullness of earthy dark fruit.  Cellaring for a few more years is likely before decline.  Have with rack of lamb, beef stew or crockpot of vegetables and lamb shank. 90

ERRAZURIZ DON MAXIMIANO SINGLE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Aconcagua Valley, Chile,  14.0% XD,  #203364   $19.95  (Tasted March 22, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on March 3, 2012. Rated 90 by Michael Schachner, Wine Enthusiast (December, 2010) .  My notes:  Not aerated:  This has an intense red currant edged blackberry aroma, fruity and spice edged. The colour is an ebony hued ruby and a swirl leaves a solid rim that quickly sheds slow moving tears. The first sip penetrates with woody spice, more than mellow acid and enough heat to leave a dry palate with dark fruit remnants long after the sip. Full-bodied with such a strong impression a plate of grilled steak, Moroccan Flank steak or bbq’d ribs would make an equal complement. A slow sipper if full & hot is preferred - no concession given with this red. Cellaring several years might shift rawness in right direction but don’t think so - save for your cigar chewing crowd. 89  Aerated:  The nose is intense but less in-your-face and with luscious dark berry aromas. The film starts from a lacy rim followed by long slow tears and the first sip has a delayed bite with heavy fine tannins lasting forever and intense blackberry flavours tainted by unsweetened chocolate. An intrusive sipper but now with less raw intensity. 91   

ROSEWOOD NATALIE'S SÜSSRESERVE RIESLING 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.5% MD, #258806  $14.95  (Tasted March 15)  CS
Released by Vintages on January 21, 2012.  My notes:  Not Rated: A pale straw with a curious nose of fish and pear. Silky textured on the first sip with balanced sweet and sour fruit. Finishes dry with some oil on the lips and a noticeable taint similar to skin from a grilled salmon filet - cork had same odour.  Not a sipper - if you persist complement with mild seafood or an Asian buffet.

CAVE SPRING ‘DOLOMITE’ RIESLING 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Jordan, Ontario, 11.5% D, #Winery $16.95 (Tasted March 30, 2012)  Winery

My notes: The 2007 rated 92 (July 18, 2011) was thoroughly enjoyed while staying at the Inn on the Twenty in 2011. The taste of dolomite was pleasingly evident - I’ll look for it specifically. The colour of the 2010 is a light straw and a delicately tart melon aroma needs time to develop in the glass - not too evident.  Bright acid, some roundness and soft flavours become dominant from the first sip although dolomite isn’t as pronounced as in 2007 but showing at the end of a long finish. Appealing as a sole sipper and a complement for lightly seasoned seafood or buffet fare - went well with grilled scallops and a cheesy pasta. A drink now.  83 

CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED GEWURZTRAMINER 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench, Jordan, Ontario, 11.0% D, #Winery $17.95 (Tasted March 27, 2012)  Winery
My notes:  A crisp lemon yellow with aromas of honey and lemon tea… interesting and delectable. The film sticks then recedes slowly and evenly. Medium-bodied with a tang mellowed by noticeable sweetness, flavours of lemon tinged with tangerine and an aftertaste having delicate staying power. A great starter sipper and companion for a vegetarian buffet or tea sandwiches: egg salad, cucumber and cream cheese, etc. Pair with tempura vegetables and sushi. Cellar or sip now. 92

CAVE SPRING ‘DOLOMITE’ CHARDONNAY 2010 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Jordan, Ontario, 11.0% D, #Winery $17.95 (Tasted March 18, 2012)  Winery

My notes:  Dining at the Solara Bistro in Clarkson we order this for our entrée white. We enjoyed the pairing. Not on the website nor the LCBO but can be ordered at the winery.  89

FRESCOBALDI ALBIZZIA CHARDONNAY TOSCANA 2010, Tuscany, Italy, 12.0% D, #266585  $11.95*  (Tasted March 28, 2012)   CS

A General release and a white from Marchesi De Frescobaldi reduced a *loonie until April 1, 2012.  My notes: A bright mid golden with aromas of spicy melon, sharp on the nose. A swirl leaves a firm lacy rimmed film shedding slow tears and ending with fragments on the glass. Silky with a sharp acid seam and spicy melon flavours slowly declining to a tangy dry finish. This was great with lemon and garlic spaghettini with grilled scallops. Keep several on hand for an impromptu Italian pasta dish or for casual cleansing with a seafood buffet. 88

BACHELDER NIAGARA CHARDONNAY 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Fenwick, Ontario, 13.0% XD, #271841  $34.95  (Tasted March 18, 2012)  CS

 A Vintages wine released on February 18, 2012. Konrad Ejbich, on CBC Radio monthly, picks Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay 2009 as his wine of the month.  My notes: One of three chardonnays (Oregon, Niagara, Bourgogne) produced by Thomas Bachelder illustrating 3 terroirs, this one possibly a blend of Niagara terroirs. See if you can taste the Dolomite limestone. 82

BACHELDER BOURGOGNE CHARDONNAY 2009, Burgundy, France, 13.0% XD, #272005  $34.95  (Tasted March 18, 2012)  CS

A Vintages wine released on February 18, 2012. My notes: It's difficult to say where the grapes specifically came from in this case. The website says 'the vineyards stretching from Nuits-St. Georges in the north, through Beaune heading south to Puligny-Montrachet'. 86

BACHELDER OREGON CHARDONNAY 'WILLAMETTE VALLEY' 2009, Carlton, Oregon,  13.0% XD, #273334  $34.95  (Tasted March 18, 2012)   CS

A Vintages wine released on February 18, 2012.  My notes: Initially held back resulting from a customer complaint of immpurities is now cleared. Some harmless, natural tartrate crystals may occur in some bottles. This release is to illustrate the terroir of Lemelson Vineyards, 'a state-of-the-art gravity facility, and 60 hectares of organic vineyards that are amongst the most meticulously-kept vineyards in the entire Willamette Valley'. 87
ANORO CHARDONNAY 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.2% XD, #183855  $22.40  (Tasted March 18, 2012)  CS

A Vintages release on November 27, 2010 rated 92 by Jay Miller (August 2009).  My notes:  Unfiltered.  Not much information on the website however rated highly by a number of tasters.  90

CASA PLANETA SYRAH 2010 IGT, Sicily, Italy, 13.0% D, #219857  $11.95  (Tasted March 26, 2012)  CS

Salsa Bolognese & Gnocchi
My notes:  Not aerated:  A mid ruby with a see through clarity and a scent of delicate spice on floral white cherry are the first attractions. The film is thin with a fine laciness at the rim evaporating without only minor traces - a tilt brings fast flowing tears. The first sip is dry, a lightish-body, a touch of oil and moderate flavours of tart apple and woody raspberry. The oil lasts through a moderate finish with declining spice and woody berry ending on a smooth note.  An interesting sipper and could cellar a year or two. 85  Aerated:  The nose is a much muted scent of the former self, ie. not aerated. The same dryness on first sip with a delicate spice and more wood, but softer, on the berries. Silky smooth with less sense of ’oil’ now more integrated with other textures for a balanced sipper. Should be great with a range of meaty pastas and pizzas. Paired with David Rocco’s Salsa Bolognese, mine with gnocchi - great!  and my BH with egg noodles - super!  87 
J.P. CHENET PREMIER DE CUVÉE MERLOT CABERNET 2010, Pays d’Oc, France,  13.0% D,  #621995  $11.95  (Tasted March 14, 2012)  CS

My notes:  Not aerated: A purple colour with an earthy fragrance of ripe black cherries edged with a tight spice. The film fragments easily sliding quickly into lacy islands. The first sip quickly forms a parchment dry flavourful coating with a raw acid bite, some lasting cherry remnants and crushed cherry pits. Pair with anything grilled or stewed, beef or lamb, savoury to spice rubbed. The texture has some rough bramble which doesn’t air out - from young vines and an unselective harvest? 82  Aerated: The texture is smoother, a better match with dry fruit flavours and noticeable herbal mix. More appealing as a sipper and a more polite meal partner but not substantially improved. A workhorse with picnic fare  -  could smooth out in a few years.  84 

KULT TERRE DI CHIETI 2008 IGT, Abruzzo, Italy, 13.5% D, #230805   $9.95  (Tasted March 23, 2012)  CS
My notes: Reduced a loonie until April 1, 2012. Not aerated:  Shows a granite hued ruby, opaque in the glass and leaves a firm film gradually shedding slow tears. A slight jammy aroma to an earthy black  plum and berry scent edged with pepper.  Very smooth, bright on the tongue and showing velvet tannins quickly shifting to oil lasting a swallow then flavours turn a tad brambly. Dry except for a suspicion of natural fruit sugar.  For the price an interesting full-bodied sipper. Should go well with meaty pastas - finish could be tiring without food. 84  Aerated:  Smooth with a polite tang and soft tannins edging the earthy black plum and blackberry. Less pepper on the nose makes this more appealing as an economical sipper and the tasty finish gives this quaff appeal. Have with bbq’d ribs, grilled T-bone, Barbarian rubbed sirloin. A House red for a soccer crowd.  87
COPPI PEUCETICO PRIMITIVO 2006, Puglia, Italy, 13.5% XD, #724674  $13.95  (Tasted March 20, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on February 18, 2012.  My notes:  Not aerated:  A dense ruby with a solid rim that flows columns of slow tears.  A heavy aroma of ripe berries pressed in the noonday sun with soft mocha and mild tannins to envelop the palate. An even tartness brightens what could be a berry bowl extravaganza gone native. Full-bodied, unctuous sweet and a bright sting constantly saturate the palate along with jammy dark fruit. A taste I could not acquire but if you prefer full and jammy this could be yours. Could cellaring ten years smooth some roughness and change ‘overly unctuous’ into ‘mellow and complex’? Perhaps.  Aerated:   Aeration softens some acid bringing out more dark fruit but overall cannot change the style. If purchased I recommend aerating and trying for your guests before serving.  NR  

VILLA MARIA PRIVATE BIN SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011, Marlborough, New Zealand, 13.0% D, #426601  (Tasted March 15, 2012)  CS
My notes:  A classic kiwi Sauvignon Blanc with intense, unripe gooseberry on the nose. The colour is a pale straw and a swirl leaves a lacy film that slowly fragments into shrinking islands. Ripe fruit coasts on a smooth layer of tart and sweet making this an unctuous sipper finishing with the flavour blend and dry grassy textures.  For kiwi aficionados or to pair with slightly sweet Asian fare or a sushi tray. Doesn’t have the finesse or complexity of a Cloudy Bay - a commercial white.  85    ASCHERI BARBERA D'ALBA 2008,  Piedmonte, Italy, 13.5% D, #219790   $13.60  (Tasted March 15, 2012)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:  Not aerated:  A deep ruby with a film that sticks then recedes first as slow tears then gradual lacy islands. A scent of fruit, near jam, stains on moist mahogany feeds an expectation of rich berries in the first sip. Velvety smooth with a penetrating warmth and tangy fur wraps the palate. Dark fruit on a cedar seam adds the unexpected making this an interesting full-bodied sipper - not a fruity as the nose would indicate. An old world balance of process and fruit to pair with rack of lamb or grilled beef, Italian meatballs with spaghettini. This should cellar well for up to 5 years. 90  Aerated:  The nose needs a short while to develop in the glass after aerating then is a softer version of the previous. Full-bodied with a milder flavour, same fur and smoothness, an interesting texture, dense black fruit with an oldworld balance and extra dry finish. A more polite sipper with an equal pairing spectrum. My preference is aerating.  89

  SARTORI DI VERONA MARANI BIANCO 2009, Veneto, Italy, 13.5% D, #265405  $16.95  (Tasted March 14, 2012)  CS

Released by Vintages on March 3, 2012. Made from partially-dried Garganega grapes with the drying process adding to the intensity of the aromas and flavours.    My notes: Not aerated:  The colour is a mid gold, clear and bright on the glass with a sharp tang to apple and pear each adding their fruit to a convincing nose. A swirl forms a firm film changing quickly to a lacy rim then shrinking to islands and drops. A tangy first sip dries the palate extending to the mid throat for a long smooth finish. Flavours are unusual and interesting… a seafood or chicken white. May not appeal to all as a sipper. Have with scallops seared on a garlic and butter skillet accompanied by cheese gnocchi. Keep a year or two or drink now. 85  Aerated: A milder tang on the nose with the same round appeal that invites the first sip. A focussed tang carried by a blend of apple and muted pear and long finish with a dry edged persistence. I prefer aeration with only a subtle softness being difference.  88

CRUSH SAUVIGNON BLANC SEMILLON 2009, South-West Australia, 13.1% D, #215673  $14.55  (Tasted March 25, 2012)  CS

A General listing from Barwick wines.  My notes: A pale straw colour with an unripe gooseberry aspect to the nose for a prominently acrid sauvignon blanc blend. The film is solid forming a solid rim that declines slowly. The first sip bites the buds, it’s dry, medium-bodied, has a smoothness carrying a semblance of fresh gooseberries and muted stagnant pond. The flavours continue on a slow decline ’til the tart dominates a light sweetness. A sipper with a mixed buffet but not solo. Have with seafood but too rough to ignore - I’d skip.  77  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Delayed Start...

It's a boy!
3lbs. 14oz.

 ... to March Tastings.  
  • Due on April 6th Raymond William was born to Kevin and Vivian at Vancouver’s St Paul’s on February 16th in the Year of the Dragon.  Mother Nature, with her keen sense of humour, decided a grandson - ultrasound confirmed - would come near midnight on that day.Mixed feelings of anxiety and joy as medical staff juggled daily changes in mother and unborn child as the natal day approached.
Vancouver's St. Paul's Hospital did an amazing job monitoring, adjusting medications and performing tests. Travel for the new nana was arranged on the last minute - thank you Expedia.com - and the visit went off without a hitch returning in time to save me from my cooking... and mother and child are doing well thank you. 
Raymond William on Mar 12
  • The second thing-to-do, planned well ahead of the expected April delivery, was preparing for a left knee replacement on February 29th. This meant a number of doctors' visits, blood tests and X-rays, PreOp class and Physio instruction for before and after. Also taking time was scheduling post-Op needs to assist with my initial lack of mobility and suitable Therapists, -physio and -massage, to help return normal joint flexibility  ...for some reason, explained in a separate blog, I wasn't exactly looking forward to my second knee replacement. Hopefully apprehension will be replaced by a renewed admiration for modern medicine. 
By mid-March I should be through the post-Op pains, my body purged of any pain killer remnants and taste buds fully restored.

Meanwhile I’ll count the corks until that day
Salut, Granpa Ww

Thursday, March 01, 2012

A Pause in Tastings

Standing, front view -Sept 2011
I'll be out of action for a week or two... it's time to look after my left knee and a complete replacement is scheduled for February 29th.

My right knee was replaced in September 2006. After seventy-one years this was my first experience as a patient in an Ontario hospital - one I wouldn't want to repeat either for myself or any Hospital. But, with time, memories fade and optimism returns.  Besides, my left knee is 'hurting real baaad!'  A half century of paying into a Hospital plan was finally to show a benefit.

Back in 2006 I signed up for a semi-private room thinking I would have a quiet three day recovery for the extra $250 a day. The following is an account of my stay:

The operation went smoothly. All I remember was the distant sound of a mallet as the surgeon rammed the prosthetic home into the lower leg bone (Tibia) and fitted the mating prosthetic on to the Femur. I woke up from the anaesthetic with awareness but no pain and was in my room to meet my first roommate. His wife was visiting and told me, as a warning, that she had a judge's restraining order not to sleep in the same room with 'hubby'. His snoring had the volume of a World War I air raid alarm. Luckily I never heard the siren and he was released on the morning of my third day. That was the morning - about 3am -  of a rousing 'Code Blue'.

My second inmate was to be a DNR - for those that don't recognize it the acronym means Do Not Resuscitate - an elderly Greek gentleman with chronic emphysema and half comatose. A nurse fed, shaved, and accompanied him until I left the hospital. Quiet? Yes, except for the occasional heaving. Apprehensive? Yes, knowing at any moment he could exit this orb. 

Right, side view - Sept 2006
During the first couple of days I informed the caring staff of my pain level using a range of 1 through 10 - 1 being 'no pain' to 10, intolerable. As I was being weaned off the spinal followed by a morphine drip I gradually became an '8'.  I was then started on Percocet/Oxycontin, my first experience with heavy duty pain killers.

Outside my room I could hear the clip clop of staff as they tended to a busy ward. I also heard the movie sound track from DVD rentals in the public ward and the chug-a-chug of the copier as patient charts were replaced with blanks for the next day. For a semi-private it wasn't so private. I asked the second shift PSW to 'kindly close the door'. The reply was 'No, the staff were in and out so often it was best to leave the door open'. I was to become more insistent as the cacophony fed my drug saturated system over the next days of paranoia.

On the morning of the third day three dimensional writings, not in HighDef, appeared on the opposite wall. No matter how much I insisted my wife wasn't able to interpret their message. 

That same evening I attempted a trip to the loo and, in my delirium, neglected my walker.  Nurses quickly responded to the clatter as I passed out falling against the foot of the bed. I came to on a litter as interns returned me to my room from a quick trip to X-Ray. All was well. That night, around midnight, my wife was asked to come in to monitor me. The alternative were 'restraints'.

I'm not sure when the voices started. At first I imagined they were actors convening in the hall outside my room rehearsing a melodrama in the late evening. On a walkabout, with my walker this time, I asked Hospital Security, who was making his rounds, if he could hear the voices. Bad timing - the 'voices' were no longer there. (I later found out there was a ceiling speaker in the hall for one of the meeting rooms in our ward.)

The lead PSW for the night shift looked somewhat stunned when I whispered my concern that night staff were planning my demise - the melodrama had turned into an assassin plot. 'Weird stuff' he said and left. He failed to show up the next day and there was no explanation for his 'disappearance'.  I thought 'Weird stuff'!'

On the morning of the fourth day I found the door to the loo off its hinges. The senior PSW said I'd  have to use the washroom down the hall... FAT CHANCE!  I have difficulty with someone assuming an authoritarian stance when essentially I was the only one having a major stake in the outcome. That's my way saying I went about my business. 

On the night of the fourth day the resident doctor on call, after checking my vitals, convinced the Constable responding to my 911 call that I was delusional and should not be charged. By now I had become convinced I had to defend myself. Earlier, wanting to be cooperative, I had gone the extra mile asking the head warden if I could check myself out of the Hospital and into a nearby Motel. Adamant, she refused. I now knew she was part of the plot.

Left, side view -Sept 2011
That same evening I had heard footsteps and voices - there was a team of assassins coming toward my room. But I was prepared. I had stuffed pillows under the sheets and placed an empty water bottle for a 'head' in my own bed. Then hiding behind the second bed, empty waiting for the DNR, I dialed 911 when I heard them coming. My subterfuge would have worked except for one thing, there was a telephone panel in the nurses station showing when a call was placed from any of the rooms. A search by the head assassin found my stuffed bed followed quickly by her locating my hiding place. She called to the others, 'He's over here... the Bottlehead is here!'.  At that moment the Police arrived.

The next day, the delirium now subsided, I was able to convince the physiotherapist that I could negotiate 3 stairs up and 3 down. Much to the relief of the staff I was eligible for 'parole'. 

Now six years later the pain in my left knee has convinced me to chance another hospital experience. All being well I'll be back tasting and blogging in a few weeks...and No, I haven't signed up for semi-private. There's safety in numbers in a Public ward.

Bottlehead -- make that a Wine Bottle!