New year. Try new wines

Red wine

Here are five new releases to get you going in that risk-taking direction
Photo: colors0613/Fotolia.com

as seen on canada.com

More wine predictions have been paraded out in the first week of 2014 than disgraced senators, mayors and potential Olympic men’s hockey team selections. What do they all mean? Will any of them really come true? Will support not continue to the largest brands, produced for the most middle of the road, common denominator consumer?

Tyler Colman polished his crystal ball to determine wine trends for the new year at wine-searcher.com. Jamie Goode insists “it’s going to be a good year for the Balkans and the ancient wine countries  and it’s going to be a bad year for many wine writers.” Ron Washam, the Hosemaster of Wine said “I read Dr. Vino’s predictions for 2014, and they were exactly the same as his predictions for 2013.” So he walked on the wild side, noting “I’m pretty sure “Supernatural” wines will catch on.” Chris Losh followed up with his satirical Chris-tal Ball from Just Drinks.

The global community of wine writers, critics and commentators collectively seem to be saying no to the status quo. They are predicting sweeping changes to consumer tastes. They are not wrong, but neither are they right. The largest wine corporations and super-negociants will continue to push their brands built on four or five grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Pinot Grigio and Malbec) because bottles produced from those vineyards planted over the past 15 years with their huge excess of juice have to be sold. That can’t change. By all means, go ahead and march out a full-on pageant of obscure grapes my good-friend Zoltan; Kadarka, Fetească Neagră, Xinomavro, Blaufränkisch, Mavrud, Saperavi, Furmint, Harslevelu, Juhfark, Antao Vaz and Rktsiteli. Serve them at my table, please. It’s just that everyone else will look at you kind of funny.

Then there’s the hush, wink, say-no-more evil of the mega-purchaser model (read between those lines) of bullying the Brettanomyces out of your suppliers. You know who you are, you wine enabling vinous behemoths the equivalent of Sobeys and Walmart.

Today, at 2 p.m. ET the weekly PostMedia Wine Chat will resume. Gurvinder BhatiaRod PhillipsJanet Dorozynski and I will discuss the resolve to drink outside your comfort zone. We’re going to put aside what we know, leave the couch and venture forth to grapes, regions and hidden appellations either ignored or perhaps never visited. We’re going to recommend that you do the same. Here are five new releases to get you going in that risk-taking direction.

From left: REYES D'ARAGON BRUT RESERVA CAVA 2010, BODEGAS BERONIA VIURA 2012, CHATEAU JOLYS 2011, and BLUE MOUNTAIN BRUT METHODE TRADITIONELLE

From left: REYES D’ARAGON BRUT RESERVA CAVA 2010, BODEGAS BERONIA VIURA 2012, CHATEAU JOLYS 2011, and BLUE MOUNTAIN BRUT METHODE TRADITIONELLE

REYES D’ARAGON BRUT RESERVA CAVA 2010, Spain (194803, $14.95, WineAlign)

Offers a rare opportunity for vintage-dated Spanish fizz and from somewhere other than Penedès. From Bodegas Langa and built upon a foundation of Chardonnay (along with Macabeo), this Cava takes a direct route through the village of white grapefruit, returns and replays there again and again. A high road dosage of sweetness lingers over licorice root and the rangy flavours include Manchego and green olive. Good, if not spectacular quality Cava. At $15 you have to appreciate the slightly oxidative bronze patina and refreshing copper minerality.  89  Tasted December 2013

BODEGAS BERONIA VIURA 2012, Rioja, Spain (190801, $14.95, WineAlign)

Great tenacity for such entry-level Rioja vin blanco. What more could you want? Freshness, grape must, tang, just a hit of spice, pepper. From my earlier note: “Exsufflates super ripe, fresh picked pear and emollient herbiage in pure, angled control. One hundred per cent, quick macerated and cold stabilized Viura of aromatics locked in tight. A pour that leads to a starburst of flavour. Complexity reaches the sea in an underlying tide of salinity.”  89  Tasted July and December 2013  @WoodmanWines  @BodegasBeronia

CHATEAU JOLYS 2011, Ac Jurançon Sec, Southwest, France (362046, $16.95, WineAlign)

Shake it up with this delicious if slightly unusual, tangy, edgy stuff. Out there and beyond your average French sipper, shaped by lemon curd and zest, tangy grapefruit and lengthened by rubber-legged dancing elasticity. May drive its car under the influence but it’s not warm and fat. Busts ” the move with the quirky jerk.”  88  Tasted December 2013

BOUTARI GRANDE RESERVE 2007, Naoussa, Greece (140111, $16.95, WineAlign)

Once you go Xinomavro, especially with this stupidly good value, you never go back. An inoculate of bright cherry liqueur is beginning to brick but holding steady and strong. Years of seeping have led to this moment of slight prune-ish activity but the old school beauty and charm is nothing short of wonderful.  Cherry wood resinous and still markedly tough tannins bring out the bitters but the wine glides smoothly forward into a soft, eloquent finish  90  Tasted December 2013  @boutari  @KolonakiGroup

BLUE MOUNTAIN BRUT METHODE TRADITIONELLE, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (206326, $27.95, WineAlign)

Blue Mountain is the poster child for B.C. bubbles and this forth-righteous, tight to expansive, quintessential cool-climate Okanagan is the stalwart for the genre. The unabashed intensity in citrus acidity,  zero dosage style is exactly what it should be. If you have never experienced west coast bubbles, this is the place to start.  90  Tasted December 2013  @BlueMtnWinery

Good to go!

Wines with Oscar

Champagne at the Oscars PHOTO: KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/GETTY IMAGES

as seen on canada.com

What’s in a name? Oscar might mean “deer lover”, derived from Gaelic os “deer” and cara “lover”.  On Sunday night the 85th Academy Awards will air. I’ve read many a Tweet and been privy to a host of “no thank yous” by those who have sworn to boycott the annual spectacle, having tired of its one-dimensional, scripted, predictability. Not to mention CIA-influences,  bad decisions, six-figure dresses, the pomp and circumstance. But who really cares? The old bird is 85 for Louis B. Mayer‘s sake. Besides, this week has not been kind to the name so the question begs? Who’s watching the Oscars and what will they be drinking?

The first answer is 40 million viewers. In 2012 the ceremony generated 3.8 million comments on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, according to data generated by Cambridge, Mass.-based Bluefin Labs. Those numbers may appear far from staggering, especially as compared to the Grammys and minuscule by contrast to the Super Bowl. By television standards and on a singular network they are still big numbers. So, if you count yourself as one of the 40 M, maybe a cocktail will put you in the mood? James Nevison of HALFAGLASS suggests that a French 75, a classic Hollywood-styled cocktail composed of Gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar would set the scene. Rod Phillips of the Ottawa Citizen quips “maybe a wine from the Francis Ford Coppola winery?” Director’s Cut. When gold Sunday comes, these are the red, white and sparkling wines I would be cracking open with that little statuette named Oscar.

Piñol Ludovicus Tinto 2010, Malivoire Pinot Gris 2011 and Hinterland Les Etoiles 2009

The grapes: Garnacha, Cariñena, Merlot and Syrah

The history: From Celler Piñol, in Terra Alta, wedged between the more famous regions of Montsant and Priorat

The lowdown: Organically motivated, Piñol is a vintner for the New World. Ask your local Product Consultant to pull one from next week’s release skid

The food match: Pancetta, Salami and Chorizo Charcuterie, grainy mustard

Piñol Ludovicus Tinto 2010 (313791, $13.95) is the entry level red you won’t want to miss. Best supporting charcuterie. From my note this time last year: “Molds Cariñena, Merlot and Syrah around a 50% frame of Garnacha. Grizzled vines for this entry level beauty claw, scratch and rope-a-dope their way through arid and unforgiving limestone soils. A fighter this Ludovicus. Dusty, rocky, bearded and sharp-dressed for the neoteric world. Climbs to the top of the hill and rips off a riff.  87  @CELLERPINOL

The grape: Pinot Gris

The history: Martin Malivoire and Moira Saganski are one of the Niagara region’s true visionary teams

The lowdown: Under the auspices of winemaker Shiraz Mottier, this wine company has progressed with nearly unparalleled success, becoming a champion of and for Cabernet Franc, Gamay and now Pinot Gris

The food match: Dry-Rub Chicken Sliders, amarelo da beira baixa, calabrese buns

Malivoire Pinot Gris 2011 (591305, $19.95) is a tropical, juicy rendition spiked by a fleck of necessary pepper. Like sweet and sour green mango with a dusting of salt and Lombok chile. A reductive waft parts ways and waves in the rear-view to the savory, odoriferous florals. Best adapted screenplay.  88  @MalivoireWine 

The grapes: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

The history: Jonas Newman & Vicki Samaras are sparkling wine specialists in Prince Edward County & wait for it…coming very soon, Limnio in Limnos, Greece

The lowdown: You will not regret raising an Oscars toast with this lip-smacking specimen but you’ll need to visit the winery or one of these establishments to do so

The food match: Kumamoto Oysters, shallot mignonette

Hinterland Les Etoiles 2009 ($39) propounds way beyond obiter dictum that this classic overture ode to Champagne (a blend of 40% Pinot Noir and 60% Chardonnay) is the bomb in Ontario (Prince Edward County) Sparkling wine. Fruit picked riper and more mature in ’09, resulting in a fuller wine but still high in necessary acidity, for food and for balance. For under $40, there is no other place in the world to go for this level of class, execution and value. Searing citrus and laser acidity, walking a tightrope with a funambulist’s equilibrium. Gumption and length. Best direction.  92  @hinterlandwine

Good to go!

Wine chat anyone?

PHOTO: ONDREICKA/FOTOLIA.COM

as seen on canada.com

It’s not as those everyone is doing it, but chatting live online about your favourite pastime is all the rage these days. Discussions can be about food, sex, music and yes, wine. I join experts across Canada every Thursday at 2:00 pm EST to lead a group-think on the ubiquitous subject. Today we’ll be talking about Fortified and Dessert wines.

If you host it they will come. Shawn McCormick of Uncork Ontario is passionate about Ontario wine and was quite certain if he presented a live forum, people would show up to the party. Fifty-five minutes in he tweeted this:

When asked why he chose to host the chat at this time, McCormick replied, “there’s been a #WineChat and a #BCWineChat for a while now. A few of us on Twitter were discussing why there wasn’t an #ONWineChat, so I decided to just start it and see where it goes. Why Wednesday night? I wedged it in between the other two wine chats, mainly because at some point we’ll likely combine chats with #BCWineChat for a two hour special on topics of similar concern.”

Photo: Robert Holmes, California Travel & Tourism Commission

A who’s who of Ontario vinophiles showed up to talk Ontario wine, from signature varietals to micro-climates. In the end McCormick noted, “Summary for #ONWineChat tonight? Do what does well in your micro-climate. Try to focus (not do everything). Make great wine.” Seems like the band of merry prankster wine geeks couldn’t let go either. The chat was slated to begin at 10:00 am EST but a few keeners jumped in early and despite Shawn’s call at 11:00 pm, the last post/tweet signed off well after midnight. Passion indeed.

But wait, there’s more. Wine romantics in British Columbia had their very own round table as well. Thanks to Tinhorn Creek’s Sandra Oldfield,  BC Wine Chats also presents online Wednesdays at 8:00 pm PST and last night’s topic was “Will TED Talks BC Next Year Affect BC’s Food and Wine Future?” The Canadian wine train is steaming full-speed ahead. Time to get on board.

Okanagan wine-making region (Photo: Handout/Postmedia News).

The canada.com chat has thus far been an exhilarating and educational experience. Rod Phillips brings an unparalleled academic and pinpoint perspective. Gurvinder Bhatia shares a wealth of international experience and is a champion of the sui generis varietal. James Nevison loves his Sparkling wines, never wavers from his zeal and adds essential energy to the discussion. We have also been joined by many guest experts, including John Szabo, M.S., Rick VanSickleW. Blake GrayCraig PinheyDebbie TrenholmeMichael Pinkus and this week, Janet Dorozynski joins the panel.

Come join the chat, you might learn something.

Good to go!

April Wine: Top VINTAGES Values to Buy Right Now

April 12, 2012

How many times have you found yourself standing in the LCBO dumbfounded and lost in ambient wine distraction? Do you feel knocked upside the Medulla Oblongata by a monopoly’s shelves bedecked by every race, creed and colour of wine known to Ontario kind? Don’t get caught on The Bad Side of The Moon. Have no fear. Head straight to the VINTAGES section and choose one of these great IVR* and CVR** top picks.

http://blogs.canada.com/2012/04/12/april-wine-top-vintages-values-to-buy-right-now/

 
REDS
 
Current In VINTAGES Stores
Pietro Marini Malbec 2008 (268045, $13.95) Argentina
Petra Zingari Toscana Igt 2008 (244228, $13.95) Italy
Michele Chiarlo ‘Le Orme’ Barbera D’asti Superiore 2009 (265413, $14.95) Italy
Bodega del Abad Dom Bueno Crianza 2001 (244699, $14.95) Spain
Taurino Riserva Salice Salentino 2008 (177527, $14.95) Italy
Domaine De La Janasse Côtes Du Rhône 2009 (705228, $15.95) France
 
VINTAGES April 14th Release
Jorio Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2009 (134577, $13.95) Italy
Fabre Montmayou Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (261891, $14.95) Argentina
 
VINTAGES April 28th Release
Sister’s Run Epiphany Shiraz 2008 (269464, $15.95) Australia
Cannonica e Ceretto Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 (275867, $17.00) Italy
 
 
ROSÉ
 
Current In VINTAGES Stores
Tawse Sketches of Ontario Rosé 2011 (172643, $15.95) Ontario
 
 
SPARKLING
 
Current in VINTAGES STORES
Louis Bouillot Perle D’ivoire Brut Blancs De Blancs (48801, $18.95) France
 
 
WHITES
 
Current In VINTAGES Stores
Fielding Estate Chardonnay Unoaked 2008 (164491, $13.95) Ontario
Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling 2011 (080234, $16.95) Ontario
Studert-Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 2007 (114777, $17.95) Germany
Marimar Estate La Masía Don Miguel Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 (270090, $19.95) California
 
VINTAGES April 14th Release
Michael Delhommeau Cuvee Harmonie Muscadet De Sevre-et-Maine 2010 (164624, $12.95) France
L’Uvaggio Di Giacomo Vermentino 2009 (279281, $15.95) California
Tyrell’s Brookdale Semillon 2011 (269316, $19.95) Australia
 
VINTAGES April 28th Release
Vincent Girardin Vieilles Vignes Mâcon-Fuissé 2009 (264515, $19.95) France
 

IVR* – Vintage Direct Intrigue-to-Value Ratio

CVR* – Vintage Direct Curiosity-to-Value Ratio

 

 

Live Wine Chat on canada.com

April 12, 2012

Join in Today at 2:00 pm ET as I chat online about wine. I will be joined by Ruth Dunley (PostMedia), Rod Phillips (Ottawa Citizen), James Nevison (HALFAGLASS) and Gurvinder Bhatia (Vinomania)

http://www.canada.com/news/Live+Chat+wine+experts/6427822/story.html

We will be discussing wine media. Do you read wine reviews or make purchases based on what wine critics write … should you? 

 

 

 

Good to go!

Live Wine Chat on CANADA.COM

March 29, 2012

Join in Thursday at 2:00 pm ET as I chat online about wine. I will be joined by Ruth Dunley (PostMedia), Rod Phillips (Ottawa Citizen), James Nevison (HALFAGLASS) and Gurvinder Bhatia (Vinomania).

http://www.canada.com/business/Live+Chat+wine+experts/6348994/story.html

We’ll be talking about Easter wines and responding to questions from readers.

Good to go!

Simpsons Inspired Wine? Not So Fast

March 16, 2012

 

http://blogs.canada.com/2012/03/16/simpsons-inspi…ne-not-so-fast/

 

VINTAGES ordinarily provides the fermented silage for my rambling raison d’être but to the LCBO’s General List a switch, on a dare. I have been summoned to post a tasting note by canada.com blog colleague Rachel Sa. Her pop culture penchant and Bard’s tongue reel me in to play the game. It may not be Global Thermonuclear War, but I’m on the bus anyway.

Cantina Clavesana D’Oh Dolcetto di Dogliani 2010 (268037, $12.95) of closed nose and real cork is the only one of its General List kind. Bottle’s slogan is “you d’oh something to me.” A Homerian “mmm,” yet no mystic or Rhetorician here. I’m quite certain the Clavesana clan from Piedmont have never heard of Homer, Zohar or even L’ag Ba Omer for that matter. I concur with the pithy plums and cherries noted by local pros Rick VanSickle, “…fun little Italian Dolcetto all dressed up in a clever package” and Tony Aspler (87), “…nicely balanced with a cherry pit finish.” Post Media and Wine Chat colleague Rod Phillips chimes in with, “…very attractive and well-priced dry red.” For my experience, a double-cut, frenched Veal Chop (garlic, lemon, olive oil, Dijon, Worcestershire and light soy) helped soften the edges. Here like Chianti without the Classico, DOC without the necessary “G”. Perhaps pair with Jelly Donuts, Snickers and Gummy Bears. Fizzling finish, as if D’OH wears short shorts. It’s inoffensive, not necessarily plonk but lacks badonk. Wish I could say “where have you been all my life” but must drink less Dolcetto to save family…zzzzzzz.  84

 

 

 

 

Good to go!

Live Blog on CANADA.COM

March 8, 2012

 

Join in today at 2:00 pm ET as I chat online about wine. I will be joined by Ruth Dunley (PostMedia), Rod Phillips (Ottawa Citizen) and James Nevison (HALFAGLASS) .

http://www.canada.com/news/Live+Chat+wine+experts/6242201/story.html

Our topic will be “Dinner Party 101.”

 

 

Good to go!