Monday, January 29, 2007


We were treated to a superb selection of both solid and liquid refreshments this past weekend by a most cordial host and hostess. Paired with a salmon avocado tartare was a fine Burgundy from the Cote d'Or. The Louis Moulin, Corton
Charlemagne, 1998
matched the salmon perfectly with that steely gunflint superdry mouthfeel typical of the appelation. Mmmmm. No overoaked butteriness here. A “good” wine.
We had quite the selection of red wines before dinner - California, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina. All were good, the only disappointment was the Lurton, Gran Araucano, Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 and this was only because the other wines overpowered it.
With dinner, Beef Wellington, we were served an Australian gem, the Penfolds, St. Henri, Shiraz 2001. This is Penfold's second best shiraz after their Grange and it didn't disappoint. Thick, rich, chewy...mmmm. It was a little tight, though, being young. This was a "wow" wine. You just have to decide if you want to spend the money to experience it!

Cheers, and well done Nat and Laurent!!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ho Hum

3 wines, different grapes, one with nice "packaging", another with a nice label, and the third kinda ugly. All from South America. From Argentina, the Casa de Campo, Cepas Privadas, Malbec 2004 is a simple malbec, very plain jane...I give it an "OK" with basically a thumbs down for value even at only $13. There are more interesting wines out there for that price. Next up, the Chilcas, Ranch Vineyards, Cab-Syrah 2003 states on it's label "our finest handmade and oak aged wine from the best individual vineyards of our San Rafael estates". Quite the statement, and the packaging is good - a shaped bottle, nice front label and even a little neck-job label with a cute string. Too bad it is a very average wine, I rate it "OK", not worth commenting more. Crap for value at $15. Last, the Veramonte, Merlot Reserva, 2004 from the Casablanca valley in Chile is a "GOOD" wine. Rich, solid fruit, medium-full bodied and warranted another purchase at $15.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Nothing like a good spanish wine with good spanish food. The Marques de Vitoria, Crianza, 2000, Rioja is a beautiful wine. It is mature, oaky, full bodied and food friendly. This one gets a "good" rating, and good value at about $20.

I would definitely buy more.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Buy It All!!

I don't know how these guys do it. They produce the best wine for a quality:price ratio for a wide range of varietals and blends over the several years I have been drinking them. The Finca Flichman Expresiones Reserve Shiraz-Cabernet 2004 from Argentina is simply put a superb wine - a $15.75 "wow" of an effort. It has a beautiful plush mouthfeel, intense but complex flavours, yummy soft open bottle sure doesn't last long. The only criticism I have is that is clocks in at a whopping 15% alcohol, which limits the amount you can enjoy.
I also picked up the latest release of their Reserva, Malbec, oak aged, 2005 which is a fine effort itself, but not as complex and plush as the expresiones. This is a solid "good" wine, also excellent value at $12.95.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Garrigue is one of those unmeasurable things in a wine - it is a sense of terroir, the characteristics of the land where the wine originated. Almost as if you can taste the land itself. The Chateau Saint Germain, Coteaux du Languedoc, 2002, definitely has that earthy feel in the mouth. This wine proudly displays "unfiltered" on it's label - this is one of the reasons the wine tastes earthy and herby. Very aromatic nose, it smells "dirty". A full bodied, grabs you by the throat wine, lots of flavour (if you're into dirt). Interestingly, orange peel also comes out. The only bad thing about this wine is that I didn't decant it and I kept getting chunks of stuff that felt like soft bark in my mouth...they really didn't filter it. This is a GOOD wine, interesting, a slow flavourful sipper, very different from new world wines but still nice to sip while bundled up in front of a fire in this -20C weather. Solid value at $15 a pop.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

What, A Sale?

The Richard Hamilton, Gumpr's Shiraz, is usually a sure fire hit; I still have some of the phenomenal 1997, a "wow" wine last time I tasted it 3 years ago. So it was with the usual slobbering that I pulled the cork on the 2002 version. Nice black stained cork. Pungent nose. Initially a nice silky smooth, medium bodied mouthfeel, but ... it fades quickly and just doesnt't have the oomph I expected. A nice wine, just not as good as I expected. I'll give it a good, but it is marginal in the value rating at $23. There are better Australian wines out there for that price. It beats Greg Norman's Shiraz, though.
The reasons for trying the Tarapaca, Merlot Reserve, 2005 were that I think these guys do good value wine and, more pressing, this one was on sale. You gotta understand, when you deal with a government wine monopoly, things rarely go on I got excited. Whoa! a whole buck off...$12.95 instead of $13.95. This one has a berryish nose and is full throttle fruit on the palate, with little else. Compares well with the four south american wines I quaffed during the week (see previous posting). Warning though, don't let it sit overnight without preserving the bottle, the fruit blows off quickly leaving little to enjoy. It's an OK to good wine, but at the price is worth trying...if you like it, stock up for midweek drinking (at the big sale price, you get one extra bottle for every 13 you buy...ha ha ha, I think the joke is on us, the consumers).

Friday, January 12, 2007

Middleweight Shootout

This is what it is all about - good value midweek wines, because, honestly, we're not going to drink those $50 specials every night (unless of course you are filthy rich....). These four all cost about $13-14 and I'll tell you straight out, they are worth it. All are very new world up front fruity style, eminently drinkable as winter sippers.
The best of the bunch is the Cremaschi Furlotti, Cab Sauvignon, Reserve, 2003, it is the most full bodied with a nice backbone of tannin. A good wine, simply wonderful for the price. Next best I would say is the Trivento, Syrah, Oak Barrel Aged, 2004. Medium-full bodied, also has some tannins. It is a tie for "last" place (there is no last place in this bunch...), the Pascual Toso, Syrah, 2005 is a jammy fruit bomb, no sign of oak in this one. The Santa Carolina, Barrica Selection, Carmenere, 2004 has an oaky nose courtesy of "long maturation in barrels" as it says on the label. This gives it a more complex palate than the Toso. It benefits from decanting.
All these wines are "GOOD". Buy with confidance for mid-week quaffing!

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Just a very short note on friday's wine - coz that's all it deserves. How this wine made the WS "Top 100" list is a mystery to me. Greg Norman should stick to golf because his 2002 Limestone Coast Shiraz is just "OK" and a complete rip-off at $24 a bottle. This is a medium bodied very average quaffer. At least it is better than the bubble-gum like 2004 Rosemount Diamond Label Shiraz which we re-tried (poor Joel had a bottle left over) and once again rated as crap and very over-rated at $18 a bottle.

Spanish Feast

Burp. That's how my stomach still feels after last nights feast. The premise was simple - Jimmy and I supply the wine we bought in Spain last year, Joel brings a few Spanish bottles from his collection, Koko and I act as chefs for the night and eight people get stuck in trying the wines out. 12 bottles later the verdict is in - there are 11 good wines and one "wow". And unfortunately there is only an extremely low chance you will get to taste it - you will likely have to travel to the vineyard and beg the owner for a bottle (or two...).
The Bodegas Gutierrez de la Vega, Vina Ulises, Cosecha Grana, 1999 was the first WOW of the year. And it will be a hard one to beat. Gorgeous aromas waft from the carafe, it is full bodied, meaty, plush, tannic, oaky and I wish I could have had more. This is a boutique winery in Alicante (and you'll never see a wine from this appelation in Canada), Jimmy met the owner and had lunch with him, together with some German negotiants on a search spree who wanted to buy his whole inventory! Thankfully Jimmy managed to finagle a few bottles back to Quebec. Now, this wine is an absolute bargain in the $20-30 range in Spain, but this would cost $75-100 here if it was available. More reason to re-visit Spain!!!