Monday, December 7, 2009

Highlights of a nice weekend

The highlight of the weekend was a bottle of Frescobaldi's 2007 Tenuta di Castiglioni. This blend of Cab Sauv, Sangiovese, Merlot is traditionally an 89 - 90 point wine. An apparent addition of a bit of Cab Franc (and do I detect a drop of Petit Verdot) combined with the spectacular growing conditions of the 2007 vintage makes it an over the top bargain equivalent to Super Tuscans 3 times the price and more! At $21.95 it is a screaming buy. Rich, red and black fruit on the front of the palate, dark espresso flavours that ebb and flow then linger as the bottle is exposed to air. Tannins ,soft upon opening, gaining grip, then over a short time, softening again. Seems improbable but that's what I got. This wine will age and change gracefully if allowed to but who can wait? Buy cases.

Also over the weekend, we had a houseful of friends for a little pre Christmas cheer. Finger foods were the order of the day and ranged from cheeses ( brie, Bleu, and 6 year old cheddar), to coldcuts, to tortellinis on a skewer with a creamy pesto dip, to a full filet of beef BBQ'd for small, make your own sandwiches, thru sushi and all the way to chili. The filet was given an ample covering with cracked black pepper then coated with Barberian's steak spices and thrown onto a searing hot bbq. 8 minutes, one quarter turn for 3, one quarter turn for 8 then another quarter turn for 3 then off onto a platter and immediately covered in tin foil for 10 minutes more or so to let it rest. Winter BBQ'ing can be dicey time wise and heat wise, but this one turned out almost perfect - maybe a little too seared, but you have to keep the heat up when it's 0 degrees Celsius outside.

Wines served were Luigi Bosca Chardonnay, Luigi Bosca Malbec 2006, les Cardinalices du Rhone 2007, and a couple of Cabernets Sauvignons from Columbia Crest Two Vines to Rex Watson from OZ.

The Malbec seemed to be the overall favourite among the crowd, however the Cotes du Rhone more than held its own (poetry from the host). The malbec was terrific with the rare filet, the CdR a very tasty accompaniment to the basil infused flavours of the creamy pesto. The chardonnay seemed to go nicely with it too but I couldn't drag myself from the reds.

What a great time of year! To everyone who came and especially to everyone who so generously brought us a gift, thank you so much and a very, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Last release of the year- Dec.05, 2009.

Ahhh technology, I'm ending the year by trying something new. Embedded links to the Vintages might need to adjust your browser settings for this to work but let me know if you like this format or if you prefer the old tried and true list.

I've provided links to what I consider the good ones below, but my top picks right now are the Pirramimma Shiraz, Helfrich Pinot Gris, and Bertrand's L'Hospitalet but I might switch for a Cotes du Rhone(see note below), all under $20.

The Luigi Bosca reserve Chardonnay and the Le Mascota Cab from Argentina should both provide real pleasure at very reasonable prices.Both are $17.95

If you want to splurge on a big buck Cabernet, go for the Don Melchor. It's overpriced at $69.95 but what the hell, it's Christmas! This wine was in the mid -$40's a few years ago!

I don't think you can go wrong with any of the Aussie Shiraz or Shiraz Blends, but I've always been partial to the Pirramimma, and at $19.95 this is a superior product for the price.

Go for the Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc from NZ if you're looking for something to acompany any seafood. $19.95

From France, the Helfrich Pinot Gris seems a wonderful buy at $13.95 for a WS 90 pointer!

Bertrand's Chateau L'Hospitalet 2005 was a fave two years ago. The '07 Vintage should be really good and it is one of my picks, but it did not stand out at the tasting according to a palate-wise Vintages Consultant friend of mine. So while it's still a pick, it'll be a 'buy one and taste it' pick to see how it stacks up. $19.95

Two Cotes du Rhones - One the WoM from the terrific Alain Jaume, Domaine Grand Veneur@$19.95, the other 5 bucks less, both should be very good.

And there are a number of Big Buck wines in this release - I'd go for the Don Melchor then stick it in the basement for a few years, but the Antinori Guado al Tasso is a close second at $89.95. The Schaefer One point Five and the Silver Oak are good but too much for me!

Proof that the economy is suffering, The Bacio Davino 'Call Me Crazy' has come down in price by $30 bucks from a few years ago - well LCBO price anyway.

Meantime, in spite of the Australian wine glut, The St. Henri is going the other way price wise. Kudos to Penfolds propaganda er sorry, marketing team for linking its origins to the wildly expensive Grange (making it "The Baby Grange" if you will) but sorry, it's just too much now.

And last but not least, remember, January's first release is usually a bargain release and there is usually a big bin end sale early in the new year so keep watching for it!