Tonight’s Wines: Le Chablisienne Saint Bris and Roux Pere & Fils La Moutonnaire Pinot Noir

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SAINT BRIS

This is a basic Loire style wine, though technically a white Burgundy. There’s nothing exceptional about it, in fact, it reminded me of what “generic” wine tastes like. You know, the wine your parents always served.
There’s the typical green apple, though very slight, and grapefruit, also slight, but found it pretty bland, overall. Some minerality, as well, but only a hint.
I did find the wine’s complexity and overall delicateness improved after the glass sat out for about 20 minutes, so this could show that it would benefit from some decanting. Not filling the glass up so much would also help.
Sauvignon Blanc is probably my favourite white, right now, but this certainly isn’t my favourite bottle of it.

7 out of 10

ROUX PERE & FILS

Burgundy Pinots are my favourite of the varietal, and this further cements the fact.
A very pretty red nicely decanted for about 45 minutes, the aromas’ subtleness were quite beautiful. On the tongue, there are red berries that mix nicely with dusty tannins. It paired well with the baked ham and scalloped potatoes we had.
It amazes me how different New World Pinots can taste from Old World Pinots. A decent, but not even terrific, bottle like this fully solidifies it. California can keep the jam.

8.5 out of 10

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The Cure for Intimidation

Have you been to a liquor store lately? If you haven’t, the best way to describe it is a super-store of alcohol; it’s row after row of wine (mostly) from every wine growing region in the world.

Now, head to that store and try to pick out a bottle of wine. Sound a bit intimidating? Talk about an understatement.

Should I get red or white? What about a rosé? Or a sparkling wine? Or port or sherry? I could go on. Should it be from the new world or the old? Am I going to drink it today or should I cellar it for a couple of years. Cellar it? Now where would I do that exactly?

It’s overwhelming, and I’ll admit that I was pretty much terrified walking into a liquor store last year when I decided to take my wine buying, and drinking, more seriously. 

But it does get better, and more enjoyable. The secret is to do some legwork before you leave your house. And, thankfully, wine lovers today have a lot of valuable resources to help them along the way.

Due to my schedule, I do most of my serious drinking, I mean tasting, on the weekend. Aside from the table wine I may have for lunch midweek, I save the good stuff for Friday and Saturday night.

So, early in the week, I start to think about what we’re going to eat on the weekend. One major thing I’ve learned is that food and wine pairing is gospel; the wrong wine can ruin the food, and vice versa. Once I’ve figured out what we’re going to have, then I can start to think about grape varietals.

It really is amazing what you can find online to help you through this. There are a multitude of websites and smartphone apps that will help you pair your food with wine.

Word of warning, though: Very often you won’t get the same pairing — one website will tell you to have Riesling with your ham, while another will say Chardonnay. There are many examples of this. The only way to be sure is to check a number of sites and average them out. Whatever wine is recommended most, is more than likely the right one.

Eventually, if you begin to take your tasting even more seriously, you’ll be able to figure out the individual flavours of the food and wine and pair them yourselves. But, for now, the advice of others is the best way to go.

OK, since we prefer red, we’ve decided that Pinot Noir will be the best wine to have with our baked ham. Now, what Pinot Noir should we buy? Do you want a full-bodied, rich bottle from the New World, or a lithe and graceful selection from the Old World, say a place like Burgundy? Of course, these are generalizations. Some New World wines are being made in an Old World fashion these days, but for the most part, the adages are true.

Once you’ve decided where you are going to go in the world for your Pinot, you have to think about price. One pitfall many wine drinkers fall into is to assume that the more expensive wines taste better. That is not the case. I’ve had $35 bottles that didn’t taste nearly as good as the $14 bottle I had a couple of weekends before. This is where reviews are quite handy.

Now, the reviewers will rank the wine, usually out of 100 points. Most wines over 90 points are over $30 a bottle, so they may be outside your price range. I’ve found that the sweet spot is 88 points. You can find some great wines at that ranking that are well below $20. For me, the best tool has been the WineAlign website and app. The reviews are very helpful, and you can find out what is available at your local LCBO (the only place in Ontario to buy wine).

Of course, these are just numbers, so you’ll have to read the individual reviews to see if the aromas, flavours, tannins, acidity levels, etc., fit your tastes. This you will discover over time. I’ve just started this process.

You may already have a particular brand that you prefer, but I would caution you from sticking to it. The good thing about variety is the choice it offers you. Don’t be afraid to try something from a wine region you haven’t tried before. Trust me, it’s more than likely very good. Why not try a Pinot Noir from South Africa or New Zealand or Oregon or Ontario.

Whatever you choose, make sure to appreciate it as you drink it. That’s what so beautiful about wine. But, that’s for another blog.

Good luck and good wine.

Tonight’s Wine: Costello del Poggio Moscato

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Crowd pleaser – that’s how I would describe this crackling wine. It’s sweet, with its slight sparkle playing the role of inviting host.
Fruity in the nose and on the tongue, this is a wine that won’t be pigeonholed into the category of dessert wine. Very versatile, it can be enjoyed with whitefish, as well as fruit salad and even something sweeter.
At only 7%, this too is a wine that is very drinkable. Luckily, the sweetness keeps your thirst in check.
Soft and silky, it’s a real treat on the palate.
8 out of 10

Tonight’s Wine: Gabbiano Chianti 2012

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If you’re not expecting anymore than a pleasant wine that’s easy to drink, but doesn’t do much in way of complexity, depth or finesse, than this wine delivers.
It’s simple, but does the job, and can be enjoyed by itself or with pizza. Saying that, it’s an affordable and appropriate wine next time you order out for Papa John’s.
It’s pretty and slightly pale, but doesn’t have much in terms of aromas. I’ve developed a habit of sniffing excessively, so that doesn’t work for me.
On the palate, there’s a bit of red fruit, especially cherry, and the length isn’t bad. However, the aftertaste tends to turn bland, even spoiled a bit, after about 30 seconds after swallowing.
6.5 out of 10

Tonight’s Wine: Stone Dwellers Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

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The wife and I sipped on this child-size bottle of this Australian cab after dinner. We should’ve had it during dinner with some beef.
It has a nice aroma, and one sniff tells you instantly where this wine comes from. Lots of dark fruit and specific eucalyptus.
There’s a strong oak element to the taste, which doesn’t help it. The label brags about the long tannins, but I didn’t experience that, even with a good chew.
The experience may have been better with food. Not worth the $10 for 375 ml.
5.5 out of 10

NOTE: Last weekend we enjoyed a very nice dessert wine from Henry of Pelham in the Niagara Region. This late harvest had a gorgeous amount of sweetness, with fruit and honey aromas that transfer to the tongue. Very easy to drink at only 11%.
8.5 out of 10

Tonight’s Wine: Farnese Fantini Sangiovese 2013

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I’ve heard about people breathing in the aroma of their wine for a long time before actually tasting it, but I’ve never had the inclination myself. That was until tonight.
This Sangiovese from the east coast of Italy was so pretty on the nose. Lots of red berries just jumping out of the glass.
After a few minutes of sniffing, I finally got around to tasting. Although not as nice as the aroma, it did taste equally pretty and very easy to drink. Nice acidity, but a little too tame on the tannins. But that’s what you get with this varietal.
Overall, I enjoyed the wine. It doesn’t top my list, but I’ll not soon forget those aromas.
8 out of 10

Last Night’s Wine: Quinta Da Aveleda 2012

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Like a lot of Portuguese wines these days, this little gem is very affordable for its quality at just under $10. This Vinho Verde varietal is very refreshing right from the pour, with a clarity and a bit of sparkle that is true to its crispness.

Although not bursting out of the glass, the aromas of grapefruit and a bit of apples give you a preview of how refreshing this wine will be.

At first taste, you are alerted by the nice level of acidity and zest, but it remains very light on the tongue. Doesn’t have a lot of length, but I just used that as an excuse to go back to the glass for more.

It tasted great with the Talapia we were eating, and it would pair well with anything you would normally put lemon on.

7.5 out of 10

Tonight’s Wine: Joseph Drouhin Cote de Beaune-Villages 2010

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I had heard good things about this Pinot Noir – it’s from a good vintage and an appellation that has started to outperform expectations. And I must say it didn’t disappoint.
Being new to the world of wine, I don’t have a lot of experience with Burgundy offerings. But I’ve had good and I’ve had bad, and I think this is very good.
The aroma is subtle, not overpowering, which I like. Taste wise, it’s not very fruity, but still has a fulfilling amount of cherry flavour. This seems more earth dominant.
As for tannins, I guess I would describe them as breezy, except if you suck in some oxygen with the wine, then the tannins explode across the tongue.
This is a very pretty wine to look at and drink. It’s what I’ve come to expect when I drink a red from Burgundy.
It paired well with the coq au vin we had for dinner, which you would seem obvious.
8.5 out of 10.

Tonight’s Wine: Remy Pannier Sauvignon Blanc

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It’s hard to pair a wine with a long-time family recipe – cream peas on toast. But this wine did a pretty good job. Maybe it’s the subtle smell of peas.
Take this Loire Valley wine out of the fridge about 25 minutes before you’re going to drink it. The taste of grapefruit common to this varietal hits you on the tongue, with a nice amount of acidity adding to the refreshing feeling. Could use a touch more sweetness to balance it out.
I would buy this wine again. 7.5 out of 10. t

Tonight’s Wine: Louis Jadot Macon Villages Chardonnay 2012

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I didn’t think I was a believer in ABC (anything but Chardonnay), but this wine may have confirmed it for me.
This is a nice wine, but it just wasn’t doing it for me. All I could really smell and taste was butter, common to Chardonnays. There was a bit of apple, but not a lot. A bit of acid, but not enough.
I know enough to know that this is a fairly good wine, but I still didn’t like it much. But if you are a fan of this grape variety, you’ll probably like this wine and would consider it a pretty good deal.