Top 10 wines for May Day

PHOTO: FABIOBERTI.IT/FOTOLIA.COM

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If April was the cruelest month (and in 2013 it certainly seemed like it was), May has just got to be better. A good, proper and solid bottle of wine would go a long way towards fashioning sunny and warmer days. Wine stores can seem like a waste land, filled with a sea of monochromatic bottles from which it’s impossible to choose from. You might ask your local product consultant, “what branches grow out of this stony rubbish?”

Related – More Spring wine releases

Fear not, for the answers to your mayday distress calls are answered. Here are ten current releases to pour at tonight’s May Day table.

Clockwise from left: Angels Gate Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Lionel Osmin Mon Adour Madiran 2008, Smoke & Gamble Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2010, Wittmann Riesling Trocken 2011, Domaine Du Petit Métris Les Fougeraies Savennières 2009, The Good Earth The Good Wine Betty’s Blend 2011, Il Marroneto Brunello Di Montalcino 2007, Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage 2009, Rainoldi Crespino Valtellina Superiore 2006, and Loan Wines Unwooded Special Reserve Semillon 2004

Angels Gate Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (277590, $13.95) in comely, pale gold flesh and peach blossom nose is well designed if not grape-specific “correct.” And I thank her for that. Leads like a Jack Johnson ballad, gathering then tempering the vintage’s acidity and finishing with a soulful refrain. Outright proper Beamsville Bench white wine, even if it bears little resemblance to the Loire or Marlborough. Good on her, this angel, “she gives me kisses on the lips just for coming home.”  88  @angelsgatewines

The Good Earth The Good Wine Betty’s Blend 2011 ($17.95, 327791) led by Bench earth that simply knew is front ranked by Chardonnay trailed by reserves of Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. Crafted from a ukase towards “petite lot, low yield” production, this laundered and commendable blend is tart in a sour key way. Fleur de sel and aquatic chalk add seasoning and texture. An umami latté.  87  @goodearthtweets

Loan Wines Unwooded Special Reserve Semillon 2004 (301127, $15.95) from Australia’s Barossa Valley is nearing fruit nugatory at nearly 10-years old. Lands right where aged Semillon should be, dry as the desert and tonically restorative. The colour of crystal gold and soda suppressing, spirited if not so sound fruit. Continues to speak in stinging tongues. I wouldn’t overlook its history.  89  @LeSommelierWine

Lionel Osmin Mon Adour Madiran 2008 (246850, $17.95) is no shrinking violet, in pitch, weight, cassonade (14.5 per cent abv) and tannin.  Tannat of an acute purple demanding in ocytone to match its spices and baked heat. A thick and syrupy southwestern French river of tar. Balks at brother Malbec and asks, “who’s the boss?”  89  @OsminCie

Smoke & Gamble Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2010 (332825, $18.95) just makes you want to head on down to Norfolk on Lake Erie’s north shore and set up camp. Roast some game by the campfire echoed by this satellite St. Emilion-styled blend’s aromas of licorice, smoldering cedar stick and plums poaching in the earth and acidity of the wine.  Gotta love the fitting rustic and campy label.  88  @DoverVineyards

Wittmann Riesling Trocken 2011 (320366, $20.95) may just be the driest Rheinhessen ever released. While there are no bubbles this Qualitätswein is like soda under immense pressure, inculcate of so much tension and threatening spontaneous combustion. Profound gold bouillon colour and the right amount of jolt to match the sec. Will magically quench any thirst, not leaving you hung out to dry.  88  @sir_neville

Domaine Du Petit Métris Les Fougeraies Savennières 2009 (319855, $23.95) screams “I am Chenin Blanc,” in honey on the pedal and maximum mineral metal. Aggressive, pursuing machine “stealing honey from a swarm of bees.” Petrol stinky, tangy thick, sticky with honey oozing everywhere, in comb and sweet-smelling suckle. Seriously huge and flashy. Will be stunning when it settles down.  92  @Savennieresaoc

Rainoldi Crespino Valtellina Superiore 2006 (316331, $31.95) is composed of 100 per cent Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo) from Lombardy. Grace, flowing ruby robe, striking. Lit by cherries bathing in a silica and gravel mineral bath, tightly wound in a swirling pensieve of real vinous thought. Elevated by cool, altitudinous breezes and gothic, statuesque like a Mantegazza. Northern, alpine and proud.  93  @VinumValtellina

Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage 2009 ($32.95, winery only) is akin to a Canadian dining experience; like the highest quality smoked meat sandwich, or rare, lean game, fruit purée and demi-glacé. All in a wine. From my previous note: “Occupies hallowed Beamsville Bench middle ground between the beastly corpulence of 2008 and the rich, voluptuous 2010. Puzzling blend. Approachable and formidable. I sip and sip and sip her majesty in spite of her necessary acidity and tenacious tannin. “I want to tell her that I love her a lot but I gotta get a bellyful of wine.”  92  @HiddenBench

Il Marroneto Brunello Di Montalcino 2007 (190108, $46.95) in a tight, rusty-red dress flirts like a good ’07 should, sets her table with a bouquet of roses, dried fruit and herbs. She’ll be a star in five years,  reprising her role in alluring, candied rose perfume, cherries and fine leather.  92  @ConsBrunello

Good to go!

Iconic wines, affordable prices

PHOTO: MINERVA STUDIO/FOTOLIA.COM

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Famous wines fill cellars everywhere, made by houses of pedigree and produced from the most recognizable grapes. There is Piedmont’s Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay out of Burgundy and Champagne, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from Napa Valley and Bordeaux. Unless you began collecting some 25 years ago, chances are your stock piles are low when it comes to varietal inamorata. While there exists a minority that sees the trophies as simulacrum, the majority continue to run down dreams. Icons for less than $50? No more. A once unthinkable, magical $100 mark is a fiscal cliff in the rear-view mirror. The question begs. Has the peak been reached?

Related – More from the VINTAGES January 5th, 2013 Release

McCannian “collision of curse and whisper” finds the state of the union bound by a new world order where social media driven wine purchasing decisions fluctuate with every fleeting tweet. Expansion and saturation are in. First Growth and Grand Cru need’ms are waning in popularity, having priced themselves beyond the reach of mere mortal geeks. Andrew Jefford certainly disagrees, noting, “…it’s no surprise that wine has become just another vacuous totem of wealth.” But the Decanter scribe is not writing about a state of Ontario affairs. There are substitutes around every turn and where there is effort, there is a wine-altering way. Diamonds can be unearthed out of the proverbial rough, certainly not at will, but with patience and poise. Champion producers lay in wait within the lesser, unheralded corners of the world’s most famous wine appellations. They can also be found in nooks not yet trusted. More often than not they are the by-products of familial labours of love, small parcel productions, fruits of wine vernacular passed down through the generations.

Here are four unreal wines from iconic grapes, ready for the taking and affordable to all.

The grape: Cabernet Sauvignon

The history: Bordeaux’s Left Bank star finds richesse and success in South Australia

The lowdown: Located in the sub-region of Marananga in Barossa Valley and farmed by 6th Generation family member, Damien Tscharke. Shiraz may have put Barossa on the map but my red Oz consciousness leans Cabernet Sauvignon

The food match: Braised and Pulled Beef Inside Round, barossa brie, toasted ciabatta

Tscharke Barossa Gold Marananga Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (289884, $15.95) is really good stuff. Tight attack, bold and tannic, brimming with figgy black fruit, dark chocolate, spirit cake and white pepper. The oldest Barossa Neoproterozoic Schist and Siltstone rocks impart piercing minerality as if the Marananga were blasted out of a cannon.  Tests any Napa Cab under $50.  89  @tscharkewines

The grape: Chardonnay

The history: Family domain in the Mâconnais, lead by Jean-Paul Paquet, along with wife Monique and son Yannick

The lowdown: Old vines (parcels of 50+ years) and barrel ageing combine for layered results

The food match: Sage Roast Chicken, schmaltz confit yukon gold potatoes, parsley

Domaine De Fussiacus Vieilles Vignes Pouilly-Fuissé 2010 (276444, $23.95) gratifies in an instant and holds on seemingly forever with remarkable depth of fruit. The tang and tin-effect of Bresse Bleu is merely a hint, smothered over by almond and vanilla extract, green olive pit and the taste of creamy, balmy, citrons doux, bergamot marmalade. A fatty, poularde glycerin texture really ties the dude, er wine, together. Plenitude for a song.  “Sometimes, there’s a man,” I’m talking about Jean Paquet here, and I can just imagine him thinking, “we can be heroes,” working a land that finds him surrounded by stupid expensive Chardonnay.  90

The grape: Nebbiolo

The history: Makes for Italy’s most regal wines, Barolo and Barbaresco

The lowdown: The Marziano Abbonna stable trots out this entry-level Barolo with expert success vintage after vintage

The food match: Murray Farm Heritage Roast Turkey, roasted chestnut stuffing, cranberry-lemon sauce

La Pieve Barolo 2008 (213132, $28.95) does what few other sub-$30 Baroli can do; offer a taste of the real thing. Though initially a touch reductive, it hits a chord of correct notes, including chestnut tisane, tar and rose petals. Firm Nebbiolo, frank and aggressively forward, wanting to share more drupe but it’s not quite there. Time will help flesh out the hidden stone fruit and sweet red pepper flavours.  89  @CAbbona

The Splurge

The grape: Aglianico

The history: From Campania, Taurasi is believed to be derived from the pre-Roman (probably Etruscan) taur[o] meaning mountain.

The lowdown: Taurasi must be aged for at least three years before it is released, with at least one year in wood. No one can dissertate more eloquently or knowledgeably on the subject better than Feudi’s Export Manager Maurizio de Rosa

The food match: Braised Beef Short Ribs, caramelized onion, carrot, aglianico jus

Feudi di San Gregorio Taurasi 2007 (956011, $39.95) is lush and gorgeous. The most immediately gratifying young Aglianico yet such an infant. Earthbound red berries, perfectly ripe plums, biting tannin and off the charts acidity. Epochal verve of Middle Pleistocene volcanic rocksSouthern Italian equivalent to Southern Rhône reds, offering tremendous value under $50 where Bordeaux and Tuscany pedantically fall short. Should join the ranks of recent great vintages, ’01 and ’04.  93  @FeudiDSGregorio

Good to go!

Wine gems for your gift list

<em>Photograph by PhotoSG, Fotolia.com</em>

Photograph by PhotoSG, Fotolia.com

The season of giving and consumer spending is fast approaching. Wine sales more than double during the holidays, as does the dollar value spent per bottle. With so many over-valued and under-achieving wines on the market it can be difficult to choose the right gift.

While I have the good fortune to try expensive wines all year round, the number of high-end bottles is so much more prevalent at tastings in the weeks leading up to the year-end break. Here are five gems to look for when shopping for holiday gifts.

Wine gems for your gift list

The grape: Nebbiolo

The history: Regal king of Piedmont

The lowdown: The ’07′s continue to impress. Perhaps the best Ascheri Barolo I have tasted to date

The food match: Bourbon Java Steak Tips

Ascheri Pisapola Barolo 2007 (739920, $42.95) will not be punished for unremarkable rust and rusticity. Barolo as it should be, disciplined and indoctrinated in the ways of the Nebbioli. Black licorice meets unsweetened cherry and a whiff of cigar smoke. Double Z notes “if you say silky or velvety your palate is mistaken.” Proper, wicked, excellent.  91-92 (From the VINTAGES November 24th, 2012 Release)

The grape: Pinot Noir

The history: If Burgundy is your game, Oregon’s Willamette Valley is the closest second

The lowdown: From a blend of some of Oregon’s greatest vineyard sites & appellations

The food match: Yukon Gold Potato Poutine, turkey gravy, fior di latte

Bergström Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 (255935, $49) shimmers red rubies in the glass and emanates as a study in Oregon geology. Colorful silicic material is expressed as strawberry cola, ripe and caramelizing. Even at 14.1% the Cumberland remains elegant and balanced by thunderegg, spherical characteristics and tempered acidity.  91-92 (From The VINTAGES May 2012 Classics Catalogue)

The grape: Shiraz

The history: Success measured by billions of dollars in the land of OZ

The lowdown: So often jamming beyond control, once in a while there comes along a Hermitage ringer

The food match: Spice-Rubbed Baby Back Pork Ribs, tomatillo vinegar, chipotle chile glaze

Elderton Neil Ashmead GTS Grand Tourer Shiraz 2009 (271486, $65) named after and produced in honour of Elderton’s co-founder, the GTS is a crushed berry beauty with raven highlights. Kirsch cordial in a cedar mansion dreaming of the Hermitage hills. This Barossa Road Warrior drives in at 14%, takes turns with speed, alternating between northern Rhone peppery, smoked meat and Barossa berries. Leaves the vineyard’s Command in its dust.  92-93 (From The VINTAGES May 2012 Classics Catalogue)

The grape: Sangiovese

The history: The Grosso of Montalcino is still so often undervalued

The lowdown: When Brunello under $50 is this good it should not be dismissed

The food match: Wild Mushroom Ravioli, wild boar ragu, truffle oil

San Polo Brunello Di Montalcino 2007 (650812, $49) has so much cure “there’s a meat hook in my heart.” Carbon driven molecular complexity of dense, red brick cherry liqueur. Butchery core, clove perfume and late snare attack. 92-93 (From The VINTAGES Shop On Line October 4th, 2012 Release)

The grapes: Grenache and Syrah

The history: Jerome Quiot’s domain is named for the  “Lazarists” who in the 17th century had a hospice for old, poor and disabled

The lowdown: This is Châteauneuf at the height of lush with so much minerality you might think you have a mouth full of rocks

The food match: Simmered Coq-Au-Vin, roasted root vegetables, buttered salsify

Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Exceptionnelle 2007 (957274, $55) will pop at the open when it appears online November 15th. The pinkish-maroon hue actually deepens with time spent swirled. Lithospheric rheology and isostatic behaviour befitting the appellation puts graphite, earth and pine forest at the forefront. Tremendous length and potential. Exceptionnelle93-94 (From The VINTAGES Shop On Line November 15th, 2012 Release)

Good to go!

Rhône like the wind

Rhône Valley, France (photograph by PHB.cz, Fotolia.com)

Rhône Valley, France (photograph by PHB.cz, Fotolia.com)

as seen on canada.com

Related – VINTAGES October 27th Release

Golden October is upon us today like an Indian Summer, but I sense a mistral ready to blow through these parts. That can only mean one thing. This is a week to drink Rhône varietals. A tiger in autumn giving way to masterly winds calls for master grapes made by Rhône rangers around the globe. Here are four wines to look for on the October 27th VINTAGES release.

The Grapes: Syrah, Grenache and Carignan

The history: Minervois is a (primarily) red wine-producing appellation in the Languedoc-Roussillon/Midi region of France

The lowdown: From a négociant house in the South of France with a goal to discover the extraordinary quality and wealth of the region

The food match: Minervois Braised Beef Shanks, fresh tagliatelle, truffle oil

Hecht & Bannier Minervois 2010 (17764, $20.95) is yet another stellar selection from the appellation. Minervois produces piceous and proud Syrah-dominated juice marked by anesthetizing acidity. Van Gogh colour, black, blue and shimmering like a starry night. Mint and tarragon accent fruit surely helpful as an anti-oxidant and delectable to the artibeus obscurus88

The Grape: Shiraz

The history: What once was simply Rhône is now distinctly Australian

The lowdown: Old and bold Barossa vines make the brashest Syrah on the planet, especially these gnarly old ones

The food match: Beef Knuckle Croquettes, fig jam

Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz 2009 (0167189, $20.95) is streaked with deep pastels of tropical fruit. At once Aussie licorice, then Sicilian blood orange and finally holy land pomegranate, date and fig. A troubadour, Coeur de Lion traveling the globe in search of adventure. Perhaps wicked for a Shiraz, this Dandelion is deeply rooted.  88

The Grape: Viognier

The history: Signature varietal from Condrieu in the Northern Rhône

The lowdown: Remarkable effort from 1960′s TV Western actor turned Santa Barbara winemaker

The food match: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, caramelized apple, raita foam

Fess Parker Viognier 2010 (297523, $24.95) of bountiful bouquet is both aphrodisiac and sedative. Built like they used to, of  antique wood, nuts and bolts, to last and linger when the “appliances have gone berserk.” Head of its California class so pour a glass, turn up the radio and smell the Last Flowers90

The Splurge

The Grape: Syrah

The history: Pitchy varietal from the Northern Rhône, the region that expresses it most sincerely

The lowdown: Delas has discovered the secret Syrah formula to combine exceptional quality with tremendous value

The food match: Seared Lamb Saddle, fingerling potatoes, mint chutney

Delas Frères Francois De Tournon Saint-Joseph 2009 (17525, $33.00) is both militaristic and the stuff of gushing Renaissance literature. Serious Syrah and foxy, Faerie Queene.  Cardinal colour, striking and dreamy. Augustinian diplomat meets allegorical fantasy. Crushed berries, truffles caked by earth, sol de la foret. Built of elegance and power, “such endlesse richesse, and so sumptuous shew.”  92

Good to go!

Going Rhône for the dog days of August

With just a shade over two weeks to go before Labour Day, here are seven wines to see you through the last dog days of summer. Who will argue that 2010 is not the Rhône’s vintage of the decade, no matter which way you flip the calendar. Seriously, no trick daddy. Ripeness, rhythm and a profundity of fruit will allow the 2010 Rhônes to age gracefully. “Mo’ punch than your bowl of juice.” Read on for recommendations on five first-rate Rhônes, a local Riesling and the prettiest little Spanish number to “take it to da house.”

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The grapes: Garnacha, Carinena and Syrah

The history: Spain’s Montsant region is the pioneer for red blends that coalesce French varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah with indigenous grapes

The lowdown: Purple, sugar, water and complexity. A post-profanity Chris Rock “drink” for grown-ups

The food match: Roast Beef Tenderloin, tempura soft-boiled egg, yukon gold bedaub

Celler Besllum Besllum 2008 (283515, $15.95) of Cubist Picassan, “cut up, Maria,” heavenly body struts its stuff as an enchantress with an alluring Spanish, violaceous visage. A black cherry, carboniferous quartzite Popsicle for Mr. Jones.  “We all want something beautiful.”  90

The grape: Riesling

The history: Calamus is one of only two Niagara wineries in this specific locale and their Rieslings are going to be big someday

The lowdown: Against all odds, more neo-noir Germanic than Niagara is how I would describe Riesling grown on the very young Vinemount Ridge appellation that lies just above and south of the brow of the Niagara Escarpment

The food match: Grilled Portuguese Raballo Fish, good olive oil

Calamus Riesling 2010 (158642, $16.95) is locally grown on shallow east- and south-facing slopes yet acts globally dispatched and advanced. Atypically Niagara, hinting at lemon, lime and citrus but veering more into stone peach territory. Notes of sweet sedge rising from hummocky clay, loam, silt and shale. Late grace of highly perfumed, feathery, non-fermented, tart, residual, grape sweetness, wie Süssreserve?  87

The grapes: Grenache and Syrah

The history: Classic Côtes du Rhône made by Philippe Cambie

The lowdown: This CdR is really focused on texture and mouth feel. Modern and delicious

The food match: Julia Child’s Fricassée de Poulet L’Ancienne

Les Halos de Jupiter Côtes du Rhône 2010 (276956, $17.95) of Cassis and fresh mint has changed only in that the (15%) mouth-meeting Syrah seems to be more vocal in making itself heard. A Monahan monk with good habits.  “Acts like summer and walks like rain.” The Jupiter is consistent with an earlier tasting… no orphan of the storm. It strides in angelic and sweet talking. Just plain smooth, cream filled and easy to drink. This CdR gives up copious Grenache from a velvet glove, ready to perform miracles88

The grapes: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre

The history: The appellation of Vacqueyras plays understudy to principals Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape

The lowdown: When it’s good, Vacqueyras blows Côtes du Rhône away and when it’s only a few dollars more, it’s grand theft vino

The food match: Garlic and Lavender Studded Pork Butt

Domaine Grandy Vacqueyras 2010 (287532, $18.95) has dogs begging from the sidewalk for its boucherie scents of roti de porc et beouf. The Mourvèdre is not shy, brooding over the softer Grenache and inky Syrah all Rihanna, smokey campfire and monstrous-like. The Grandy “tried to be expressive without bein’ aggressive,” but it wasn’t the first time a Vacqueyras was hard to resist.  89

The grape: Sangiovese

The history: Chianti’s greatest gift has yet to sweep across the globe like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah. This too will change

The lowdown: McLaren Vale (pioneered by Coriole) was its first OZ stop and now Barossa, more specifically Mt. Crawford is making a Sangiovese splash

The food match: Ziti, Holy Trinity Ragù and Reggiano Parmesan

Domain Day One Serious Sangiovese 2007 (683243, $21.95) is, as its proprietor Robin Day notes, “savoury, rustic and elegant.” Brick-red like a Sienese piazza, the Day is a bareback rider astride a Palio race horse, a muscle-dense, graceful snow horse and a tough mudder of a cart horse. Five years old and drinking at peak.   90

The Splurges

The grapes: Grenache Blanc, Roussanne

The history:  Can’t recall a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape sold in these parts other than some of the biggest icons (Beaucastel, Vieux-Telegraphe, Beaurenard)

The lowdown: You get everything you pay for and more. Same price as the (2nd wine) Coudoulet de Beaucastel Blanc for the same dough

The food match: Chicken Tagine and Cous Cous

Brotte Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2010 (74203, $29.95) is a veritable museum of Southern Rhône aromas. Bending piperitious lavender and nettles, mighty haughty for Grenache Blanc and chock full of nuts. Rousanne lifts the herbs and spices with blossoms orange and white. CVR** choice to enjoy now and to age five plus years.  90

The grapes: Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Vaccarèse, Cinsault and Counoise

The history: Grenache (75+%) dominates this kitchen sink Châteauneuf-du-Pape red of the Southern Rhône

The lowdown: Very few iconic CdP producers offer this kind of quality for the price. La Nerthe, Vieux Lazaret and Beaurenard are in the same league

The food match: Braised Veal Shoulder Sandwich, sharp mustard, wild leek pickle

Bosquet Des Papes Cuvée Tradition Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2010 (726687, $42.95) lives on the elegant side of the street. The 2010 CdP’s are simply stunning and while most have the pedal pressed firmly on modern metal, the BdP is grounded and down to earth. Pretty, purple colour, agrarian attitude, pastoral, mistral moulding. Builds to a crescendo of intensity in flavour, indicating 10 years should be granted to unleash the limits of its power.  90

Good to go!

Sun, water, wine and flatbreads

Simcoe Sunset, Photo Courtesy of Kiowaman

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Here we stand a month into this pungent, brown, retrogressive summer, the likes of which has not been seen for quite some time. Perhaps it ‘aint right, this heat, this drought, this anxiety laid upon the poor farmer. Or perhaps it’s “so right it aint right.” If you are like me and relish the eudaemonic concomitance of hydro-solar, eonopoetic gastronomy, then all is good.  The endless summer of 2012,  a veritable documentary on surf, turf and vine.

It is hard to see local growers beating plowshares into swords, watching their crops of corn, snap peas, peas and beans of reluctant yields due to the absence of rain. “Aspetta per l’acqua,” dear farmer, as per the Gaiole proverb. Innocence seems lost at the hands of mother nature yet can you recall a more inviting time to drive up to the lake, fire up the grill, summon the inner chef inside and “let your inhibitions run wild?” Ontario’s cottage lakes are our French Rivieras, bringing about a Baudelaire call to mind of Luxe, calme et volupté.

Luck leads me to such a place, where great food is crafted and shared amongst family and friends. Here I play the part of the amanuensis, with a directive to relay and replay the food and wine exploits of the weekend.

Cottage Lunch, Photo Courtesy of Kiowaman

The local field tomatoes are thus far of excellent quality, certainly 1000 times greater in flavour and acidity than what we reluctantly consume for most of the year. Coupled with Bocconcini and fresh Basil, they are like a rug that really ties the summer lunch room together. Fried Jasmine, Calrose Brown and Wild rice with a caramel, soy and sesame oil saucing helps to satisfy a crowd. The centrepiece at lunch are the Grilled Flatbreads. One is topped with roasted garlic, sauteed garlic scapes and fresh basil. The second with tomato, cheddar, Reggiano Parmesan and grilled zucchini.

Grilled Flatbreads

Ingredients:

1 tbsp dry active yeast
1 tbsp corn syrup
1/4 cup plus 3 cups all purpose, unbleached white flower
1/4 warm water, plus 2 cups tepid water
1 bulb fresh garlic
6 garlic scapes
1 bunch fresh basil
1 bunch fresh Italian Parsley
1 green and one yellow zucchini
1 large beefsteak tomato
1 cup grated white cheddar
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
4 tbsp olive oil

Method:

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Mix together yeast, corn syrup 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water in a large mixing bowl. Stir well and leave to incorporate for 15 minutes.

Cut off a thin layer off the top of the garlic to expose the bulbs. Drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil, wrap in foil and place inside the BBQ. Cook for 30 minutes.

Slice Zucchini into 1/2″ thick pieces, toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper and grill for three minutes on both sides.

Dice up scapes and saute in 1 tsp olive oil until dark green and tender.

Add the three cups of flour and 2 cups of water to the yeast mixture, mix, knead and form into a ball, dusting with more flour as necessary. Rub with 1 tbsp olive oil and cover bowl for 15 minutes.

Grate the cheeses, slice the tomato, wash and pick the basil and parsley.

Flour a work surface, turn out the dough and split into two pieces. Press out gently with fingers, brush tops with olive oil and grill for four minutes. Brush the exposed side, flip and grill again for four minutes. Remove from grill and turn down to lowest setting.

Top the first flat bread with roasted garlic, scapes, half the parmesan and basil. Top the second on one side with tomato, cheddar and parsley, the second with zucchini, parmesan and basil.

Return to grill and heat with the top down, two to three minutes. Serve with a knife and scissors.

Château La Tour De L’évêque Rosé 2010 (319392, $18.95) turns simple grilled fish into Baudroie à la Provençale and is consistent with an earlier note: Initiates a Strawberry response, of course. Subtle, faint pink tinge yet viscous, I could drink this by the bucketful. At once cloudy and then see through. “You thought that I would need a crystal ball to see right through the haze.” Could spot this one from a mile away.  88

Grilled B.C. Wild Salmon and Tilapia

Fish plays a big roll in summer cooking, along with many cuts of beef. Lean and flavourful Flank Steak often works itself into the rotation.

Dinner and a Shiraz

Charles Cimicky Reserve Shiraz 2002 ($35) harkens back to a 2005 VINTAGES release and at 10 years old it is singing. Causes a Buddy Holly “you…make…me…cry” stammer. A great Barossa vintage with foresight to predict longevity. That’ll be the day when the Cimicky’s dark cedar and menthol, hubristic and extracted fruit would not accelerate to greatness, live long and prosper.  93

Good to go!

The Wine Diaries: new world reds

Photo: REX

http://blogs.canada.com/2012/06/27/the-wine-diaries-new-world-reds/

The term “new world wine” refers to wine produced in countries that have transplanted European vinifera to establish an industry where one did not originally exist. The United States, led by California comes to mind as the leader in this category. Australia sits alone within a second tier while New Zealand, South Africa, Washington and Oregon are the major players close behind. Ever-improving Canada is on the move.

Many wines that are currently unavailable in Canada will one day knock at the door. Voices of discontent are out there and I hear them. Change is inevitable, and optimistically speaking, will come sooner rather than later. In the meantime, like the dutiful children and newcomers we are, we submit to and embrace what is on offer. An imperturbable level of varietal diversity and quality will unearth something out there for everyone.

U.S.A. – California

J. Lohr South Ridge Syrah 2010 (948240, $19.95) from Paso Robles along California’s Central Coast is shiny, happy Syrah. Attenuated body accented by citrus and trace pepper.  “Gold and silver shine.”  87

Laird Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (50096, $57.95) out of Napa Valley pours like syrup of supersized black and boysenberry concentrate. Massive fruit here, making for a big wine in search of red flesh on closing night.  89

Mahle Wind Gap Syrah 2007 (242776, $59.00) defines the grape for Russian River Valley. The tar, roses and smoked meat from this coulée in Sonoma County tutor California in Northern Rhône speak. Darker than a power outage with a gamey and sanguine finish.  90

Outpost Howell Mountain Zinfandel 2009 (253377, $69.00) is top-tier Napa Valley Zinfandel. The dark flesh of fowl comes to mind, especially Duck with a chocolate mint Nahuatl mōlli. A foxy, violet voice is to be expected out of  the likes of Barolo or Barbaresco, but here Zinfandel tramples me flat.  92

Redemption Zin Zinfandel 2007 (224147, $22.95) might seem magnetic but a plum, raisin, sweet and sour profile is not what Dry Creek Valley normally produces. Fruit too long on the vines?  85

Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (73817, $19.95) offers grateful Napa Valley pleasures so power to its large scale fruit gathering and consumer friendly production. “Walking in the tall trees, going where the wind goes, blooming like a red rose.” Grandiflora not dead. A sunshine daydream.  87

Simi Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (25221, $24.95) does Alexander Valley like it should. A spiced, caramel coffee cake with a soft, oozing core. Nothing offensive here, just solid Sonoma juice.  87

Sonoma-Cutrer Grower-Vintner Pinot Noir 2008 (140723, $29.95) crawls Russian River Valley Pinot to a varietal P but smoke masks the fruit “like a forest fighting for sunlight.” Can’t blame it on the carpet fires of 2007.  86

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (708982, $46.95) has Napa Valley pedigree but high steps the oak steeplechase brimming with nearly burnt coffee and 76% orange, dark chocolate. Over the top and unrelenting but history will offer some assistance for future enjoyment.  88

U.S.A. – Oregon

Maysara Estate Cuvée Pinot Noir 2008 (65680, $39.95) from McMinnville (who, what, where?) claims biodynamic status and “s’got such a supple wrist.” A quiet wizard, void of scents and smell, save for a pinball of earth bouncing off leather.  May speak up in time.  87

Argentina

Alta Vista Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (129957, $14.95) ordinarily regards Mendoza by a male-dominated genome. Sausage fest as South American Cabernet, hidebound and specific to grilled meat.  85

Santa Julia Magna 2009 (93799, $14.95) is more ambitious Mendoza in its blend of half Cab and Malbec with a smattering of Syrah. A bit wild and uncorked, like a dog driving a car.  86

Chile

Concha Y Toro Marques De Casa Concha Carmenère 2010 (169862, $17.00) drinks chalky like green tea ice cream, not so unusual for Carmenère out of the Rapel Valley. A bit confused, murky as Lake Rapel, “light like a feather, heavy as lead.” Fruit of the marl.  87

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (322586, $19.95) does Bordeaux and the world’s most popular red grape proud on a consistent basis. This one is the funky by-product of a chocolate chunk cookie baked by the sun. The argilaceous Colchagua Valley earth scorches the grapes and the wine is forever warm.  87

Santa Ema Reserve Merlot 2009 (642538, $16.95) is a bold effort out of Maipo. A Plug tobacco block effected by the humidity of a smoke shack, spicy clove heat and abrasive atmospheric pressure.  Massive Merlot but out of whack.  85

Australia

Chapel Hill Shiraz 2009 (743989, $25.95) takes South Australia’s McLaren Vale to an extreme wedding. Irrigous, cave aromas where melting minerals co-mingle with very ripe berries in your Dixie Cup. A tannic beast too. Walking through that cave while the eerie sound of “going to the chapel and we’re gonna get married” plays somewhere in the distance.   86

Hope The Ripper Shiraz 2008 (686865, $21.95) springs eternal with dreamboat berry and flower scents despite the ambiguous ‘Western Australia’ designation. Perhaps not the “best thing that I’ve ever found” but hope floats so I foresee the sweet smell of success for the Ripper.  87

Kaesler Stonehorse Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvèdre 2008 (6551, $20.95) out of Barossa comes down in price by $2 from the ’07. This SGM is always a Rhône on ‘roids but the minty kick and analgesic mouth clout win points.  88

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet/Shiraz 2008 (309625, $39.95) bears the omnipresent Penfolds perfume. Soupy syrup from South Australia, Refined but so concentrated. You will have to wait 10+ years for this to settle and be nice.  89

Tattiarra Culled Barrel Shiraz 2009 (271379, $39.95) shows off Heathcote within Victoria’s scant cooler take on the unchained, grievous grape down under. An otherwise repeat performance. “Change, ain’t nothin’ stays the same.”  87

Zonte’s Footsteps Baron Von Nemesis 2008 (212936, $17.95) is the Barossa vineyard’s inaugural vintage. Its nemesis is an instant bitter note from these vines, olive heavy footed, steps heard coming from a mile away. Will walk along with fatty meats.   86

New Zealand

Greystone Pinot Noir 2009 (271312, $37.95) owns the title of the South Island’s strongest smelling Pinot. Huge Waipara nose followed by a residual, Sherry sweetness, acidity and tannin to boot. “Oi, oi, oi!”  90

Trinity Hill The Gimblett 2009 (280263, $35.95) exudes the North Island’s youthful exuberance. Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Snug and chunky with a juniper stringency melded into lime, sugar syrup. A red wine Gimlet out of Hawkes Bay.  87

South Africa

Ernie Els Big Easy 2010 (220038, $19.95) from the generic tagged Western Cape is round, charming and swings with an effortless grace. The kitchen sink of grapes seem to cancel each other out and the wine finishes flat, hooking one into the drink. I love Ernie but really?  85

More notes from the VINTAGES June 23, 2012 release:

Five red wines to buy now for the coming long weekend

The Wine Diaries: Around the world in 20 whites

The Wine Diaries: Chardonnay close to the edge

Euro wine Rihanna need remember by name

The Wine Diaries: MMVA’s sparkling wine showers

IVR* – Vintage Direct Intrigue-to-Value Ratio

CVR** – Vintage Direct Curiosity-to-Value Ratio

Good to go!

Five red wine values to buy now for the coming long weekend

http://blogs.canada.com/2012/06/25/five-red-wines-to-buy-now-for-the-coming-long-weekend/

In my world there are so many wines and so little time. Perhaps in yours the wall of choices seems daunting but a bit of deconstruction is really all you need. A good Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Shiraz or Malbec work just fine on most days. I look to champion varietals outside the box. Portugal and lesser known Italian appellations are a very good place to start.

Trending wine values

The grapes: A blend of Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional and Jaen

The history: Made by Agricola Castro de Pena Alba from indigenous varietals

The lowdown: Not all $12 Portuguese wines are this good, but I’d take my chances

The food match: Breaded Veal Sandwich with roasted, pickled red peppers

Serrado Colheita 2008 (283192, $11.95) from the emerging Dão is a big wine for $12! Tar, Hyacinth and Cravo with a mini citrus accent. Simple machine with juicy acidity and bite. A cake cut by a knife that’s “got a serrated edge that she moves back and forth.” Terrific IVR*.  87

The grape: Montepulciano

The history: Native to Abruzzo in east-central Italy

The lowdown: Modern Abruzzi winemakers are producing exceptional wines at affordable prices

The food match: Pasta with Braised Beef Short Ribs and Tomato

Niro Montepulciano D’abruzzo 2009 (278150, $15.95) dictates a directive towards low and slow fricasseed meats in their demi-glace with fresh summer tomatoes. De Niro is positively and cognitively possessed of a Machiavellian intelligence. A modern emperor and actor speaking perfect English, a vernacular host with the most. Projects a prejudiced discourse of atramentous espresso and haw.  88

The grape: Malbec

The history: Native to Bordeaux and Cahors in the southwest of France

The lowdown: Found its varietal fame in Argentina. This is a bold pick at a premium level.

The food match: Grilled Flank Steak in chile, parsley and olive oil marinade

The Seeker Malbec 2009 (271213, $18.95) is one of five global wines made by a marketing juggernaut, each featuring a specific grape growing region. Inspired by the musings of fictitious metalsmith/flying machine inventor Esteban Colombo from Mendoza, Argentina. Colombo is part Frank Lloyd Wright, part Leonardo Da Vinci. Like the man, the Seeker is an international wine of mystery. I rarely drink $19 Malbec, but when I do, I drink The Seeker. “I’ve been searching low and high” but here is a Malbec of an acceptable oaky smell like it’s just been out walking in the countryside. An herbal remedy, Malbec from and for the world, not really Mendozan at all, and that’s OK. I just might really like this.  89

The grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

The history: Native to Bordeaux in France

The lowdown: Benchmark IVR* achievement from the Barossa Valley of South Australia

The food match: BBQ Chicken with a honey-based glaze

Mountadam Vineyards Cabernet/Merlot 2008 (641860, $16.95) at 15% abv carries it with structure, elegance and balance. Currant jam, beetroot and garrigue are all there but the fruit, savoury, char, heat and acidity factors are all in check. What’s not to like?  90

Throwing caution to the wind

The grape: Nebbiolo

The history: Native to Piedmont in Northern Italy

The lowdown: Traditional interpretation already aged and into its drinking window

The food match: Double-cut, French Veal Chop with Thyme, garlic and olive oil

Gemma Giblin Riserva Barolo 2005 (185025, $36.95) has begun to brick at the edges. Mouth rosewatering acidity binged by sour cherry and shellac. Wisp of Monte Cristo and withered rose only Barolo can smell of.  This Gemma is beautiful like a turning season, like something you know won’t last. For now and no more than two to three more years.  92

More notes from the VINTAGES June 23, 2012 release:

The Wine Diaries: Around the world in 20 whites

The Wine Diaries: Chardonnay close to the edge

Euro wine Rihanna need remember by name

The Wine Diaries: MMVA’s sparkling wine showers

IVR* – Vintage Direct Intrigue-to-Value Ratio

CVR** – Vintage Direct Curiosity-to-Value Ratio

Good to go!

Re-wined up. May openings and online releases

http://blogs.canada.com/2012/06/01/re-wined-up-may-openings-and-online-releases/

One Pinot, two Shiraz, three Tintos and 27 obscure grapes.

Belle Glos Pinot Noir Clark & Telephone Vineyard 2005
(652883, $39.95) has softened since the last visit on Mother’s Day 2009. Speculation upon release of Chuck Wagner’s Single Vineyard Pinot fetish was “just a bet on a race between the lights.” Mom (and dad) agreed back then there was too much mined, dark anise and vanila fruit, too much ore. The C & T abused the mouth, took no prisoners. Today the plum candy remains and despite a band-aid note, a silky texture lights the Paschal flame. The univocal Glos has transfigurated out of the “darkness and into the day.”  91

St. Hallett Blackwell Shiraz 2009 (535104, $29.95) from the March 17th, 2012 VINTAGES release as I previously penned, “bests Barossa at this price point and on a limb for that matter, anywhere in the land of Oz.” From lands Ebenezer, Seppeltsfield and Greenock, receives extended elevage (20 months) in American Oak and shows off like a multi-coloured bruise. Blackwell’s got Squib Cakes, stands as a raw, intense tower of black fruit power. Has the chop and staining Syrah concentrate to oak land a knockout punch to the teeth, mouth and gums. The flagship $50+ equivalent to most South Australian Shiraz, this one is positioned middle of the pack for St. Hallett and is therefore impressive CVR** value for its full-on Barossa style.  91

St. Hallett Blackwell Shiraz 2009, Barossa, South Australia Bottle

Howard Park Leston Shiraz 2005 (923565, $29.95) may come from vines beholden to the deep pockets of its founders but this is not exactly Napa dotcom milliionare playtime. “Members of the Australia wine trade aren’t precious about their wine. But they do love it.” This Leston (from a bonza vintage) spouts a fountain sluice of youthful Margaret River mint and tisserand scented red fruit. Muted middle earth note swings hypoteneuse through hoops and microeconomically bests McLarenVale and Barossa.  90

 

Quinta Do Crasto Old Vines Reserva 2004 (990572, $34.95) released through VINTAGES back in 2007 was juiced from upwards of 30 varietals from then 60-year old vines growing in schist soils. Firm framework, toast smokey, persistent cream and chocolate. Cherry-centered dark chocolate too. The newfangled Douro.  90

Notes on the May releases of 14 VINTAGES online wines.

Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Semillon 2004 (093495, $49) of apricot, peach, citrus and chevre verging on Cendrillon is just that; funky and stinky. Love the petrol age though.  86

Davis Bynum Bynum Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007 (0201580, $34.95) emits sweet beet and licorice hokum from the dehydrator. A xerophytic aroma keeps it grounded in its Russian River Valley home.  87

Château Latour à Pomerol (0133876, $89) may be a bit corky but I can still see the leaves for the forest. Hints at so much lithe, like leafy tobacco, damp earth, landes shavings and pickled berries. A cushioned launch TGV’s on espresso and toughens late with a firm grip. Give it 10 to 15.  93

Château Le Croix De Gay 2008 (136879, $39) whorls along crude, jangling lines like a Heavy D remake of Ms. Jean Knight’s big tune. La Croix has front and back stuffing in ’08 sandwiched around an 80′s, less than flattering and infundibular midriff.   88

Château Haut-Bergey 2008 (136648, $45) while uncombed and unbraided, is mouth filling and ultimately shows a bit of balance.  87

Tablas Creek Esprit De Beaucastel (735654, $45) may cause addiction due to sweet, sweet candy and mama’s marmalade. Consistent with my April 24th note: “The worthy adversary is just a dude from California. A honey pot of stewed prunes and “Seville oranges” notes the quote machine. A sinkhole of 38% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 26% Syrah and 6% Cunoise, the Esprit does admirable expatriate yeoman’s work and I wouldn’t even think of marking it zero.  88

Casanova Di Neri Pietradonice 2007 (0103085, $79.00) from a master Brunello producer is a dark, dank, hefty and concentrated grunge effort. A brandied effect brings Vintage Port to mind. A meal not to leave hungry, from the mouths of decadence. Perhaps today Cornell and Vedder sip this seemingly evolved and enticing Super Tuscan.  92

De Bortoli Rococo Blanc de Blancs (0238014, $25) flashes some of the largest bubbles and that is not necessarily a good thing. Baroque, not so much. Late, yes. The chalk and talc do match a Roccoco-like creamy, pastel style but the wine is simple, not ornate.  May only “say its name in an empty room.”  86

Cooper Mountain Reserve Chardonnay 2009 (0232827, $22.95) gives orange peel, green apple and foil. Atomic number 16, Chardonnay pearls duettia and a Chablis (Fourchaume) fromage permeate this no toast radio Oregonian. A bit soft, but clean and certainly not oaked to a fault.  88

Château Chasse-Spleen 2008 (0134452, $44) has nearly peaked. The wine past its prime shines LED light. LED wines are so last year. The weald has wielded and waned, the caper and tobacco berries melded into molasses.  87

Château La Couspade 2008 (0229245, $72) of aromal Cassis, Panatela and CDP-like Kirsch is big on extraction for ’08.  Earth, wine and fire of a shining star. Just like meat in a stew. It’s got sustenance.  90

Château La Gaffelière 2008 (0136127, $84) my stars will be beautiful. Colour and potency but currently closed for business. Hidden purple perfume of Aubrietia, Lilac and Lavendar.  90

Château Malescot St-Exupéry 2008 (0137109, $64) never lets me down. “I feel my temperature rising” when a Malescot is on the table. Seamless wine showing a modified ’08 evolution. Noble as Bordeaux comes at this price. Terrific balance of forest, florals and ebon. The Malescot is always on the bus92

Fuligni Ginestreto Rosso di Montalcino 2009 (0245241, $24) is light, delicate and redolent Sangiovese. Impractically colourless to look at, the palate does the talking. Could drink this every day.  89

Good to go!

Tasting through Portugal and the VINTAGES May 26th Release

Portuguese Corks

Three thematic release posts done, canada.com1, canada.com2, canada.com3, 16 more tasting notes to go. Shout out to Anne Yarymowich and Annick Le Goaix for some splendid Portuguese gastronomy last week at the AGO’s Wines of Portugal tasting. Read it at canada.com.

Anne Yarymovich. Credit: Dany Le Goaix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quinta do Infantado Red 2009 (95158, $21.95) was the best Portuguese wine I tasted. João Roseira uses no yeasts, no additives, just grapes fermenting and developing by themselves. This is wine truly made in the vineyard. Balance in every facet. Smokey, meaty and fat for a three Tinto Douro, the Infantado offers up the greatest of simple pleasures.  89

Wines of Portugal Tasting. Credit: Dany Le Goaix

Lingenfelder Freinsheimer Musikantelbuckel Riesling Kabinett 2010 (87593, $17.95) wins the award for longest label. Ciders with pretty, apple effervescence and Vidal-esque hairspray viscosity but ultimately buckles under its own weight. Sad to see it leaving sa-soon.  85

Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (229856, $99.95) would have been a beastly treat if it were not corked.  NR

Ridge Monte Bello 2009 (711085, $145.95) is a wow wine. Deep, deep purple. Thick, oily extract of red bark and sugary berries baked in a pie. Offers crazy love and goes the full monte. “I can hear her heartbeat for a thousand miles.” Strikes fear and loathing in Wineontarians in need of a price kvetch. Get over it. Good wine is expensive. Ciao Bello!  93

Rubicon Estate Cask Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (29553, $74,95) dry rubs its sweetheart of the rodeo nose with brown sugar, thyme, sage, molido, ancho and fleur de sel. There are more ingredients but if we revealed them we’d have to kill you. Country Rock Cabernet. You don’t miss your water when killing this. This Cask cries out for flesh.  90

Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (280107, $24.95) the creamy vanilla shaken, not stirred Cab. Good structure and backbone if not a whole lotta linear, skyscraping action.  87

Urraca Cabernet Sauvignion 2008 (271080, $19.95) of Agrelo identifies with Provence. Mired in the weeds of dill, borage and thistle. Further herbal notes of tarragon along with olives and tobacco. So much savoury.  85

Barossa Valley Estate Ebenezer Shiraz 2006 (971705, $39.95) is bold, beefy and blasted from blown speakers. The new pornography in Aussie Shiraz, impressive for its place and will show some balance 10 years on. Certainly no Scrooge and generous with matters of fruit and heart. “A lot of oyster but no pearls.” Will get you through a long December.  92

Tait The Ball Buster Red 2009 (269472, $24.95) is a bitch. Tart and flavoured by sun-kissed berries, jawbreaker and gobstopper. Dense and concentrated, “stone cold sober as a matter of fact.”  88

Astrolabe Voyage Pinot Noir 2009 (179200, $24.95) trips the tongue, grips the mouth and sends them spiralling into space. Expressive of vanilla and baking spices. Big tannins for Marlborough Pinot. Needs a little spirit of the west and to “go home for a rest.”  86

Sequillo Cellars Red 2009 (277996, $29.95) ankles along a rocky Swartland road. Hard lines make this ambitious South African seem Mourvedre dominated.  86

Momessin Les Griottes Morgon 2010 (276402, $17.95) casts a lovely opaque, red lollipop hue. Bitter tar, griottes and sherry join red apple in this darling Gamay. “Let there be sunlight, let there be rain,” drink this Beaujolais off and on again.  87

Chateau Pipeau 2008 (138131, $29.00) always offers great Bordeaux value but this bottle is flawed. Smells like merde NR

Di Majo Norante Ramitello 2009 (973214, $15.95) steps right up to the IVR* plate and antes up mezzogiorno shun with liturgical love. Sun melted licorice and grilling scents meet juicy acidity, finesse and restrained power. Molto bene89

Coto De Imaz Gran Reserva 2001 (976811, $29.95) is highly concentrated for Rioja, especially at 11 years old. Tempting leafy aromas as of tobacco and tumbling like a Billy Tallent riff.  Or is that just my Imaz-ination, “running away with me.”  88

Delas Frères Saint Esprit Côtes Du Rhône Rosé 2011 (224964, $12.95) offers up strawberry, rhubarb and cream with a savoury accent. Subtle pale, pink, see-through hue and warming humidity. Great value here. Rosie you’re all right. “Looks like it’s me and you again tonight.”  88

Good to go!

IVR* – Vintage Direct Intrigue-To-Value Ratio

CVR** – Vintage Direct Curiosity-To-Value Ratio