Archive for the ‘Knowledge’ Category

I’ve held off reviewing some of my more favorite wines on purpose.  I tend to be more than a little biased when it comes to the spectacular wines of the Niagara Region. The purpose of any appellation is to preserve and authenticate the distinction and character of any ‘local’ vino.  There are several ‘layers’ to the appellations within the Vintners Quality Alliance of Ontario [VQAO] and all are strictly monitored. (I’ll be covering this in a future installment of my vino series – be sure to read ‘Ground to Grape” and “Grape to Glass”!)

I am entertaining guests for dinner tonight and have prepared a NY Strip roast; the very same hunk of beef from which NY Strip steaks are carved. The ample marbling of fat is full of tremendous flavors and melt-in-the-mouth succulence that is nothing short of perfection when roasted to a medium rare.

I normally chug Merlot, gulp Cab Sauv., and slosh about with a cheerful Cab Franc.  Rhyming with and pronounced just like heritage; Meritage is a skillfully blended Bordeaux-style wine from all three of these varietals- created in California’s Napa Valley in the late 1990s.  Why blend these otherwise distinctive varietals when they’re perfect on their own? Check out this concise entry on Wikipedia about Meritage. Very few wines earned VQA status in ’05 & ’06 owing to unfavorable meso-climate. 2007 turned out to be a bumper year for superb fruit quality and yield.

This bottle of Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve VQA Meritage 2007 is pretty much an equal blend of Cabernet Franc (37%), Cabernet Sauvignon (36%), and Merlot (27%). Owing to my tendency to gulp Merlot or CS, I savor CF a bit more as its a brighter tasting Cab.  Cab Sauv can be stuffy and complex at times and Merlot can be downright stodgy.  The blend of all three is sublime.  I generally don’t decant red wine as a 750ml bottle doesn’t last long enough once uncorked to worry about it catching its breath. This time was a switch.  I just purchased a new decanter and needed an excuse for its maiden voyage. About 30 minutes before my guests arrived and approximately 45 minutes before food was served, I playfully and quickly glugged the whole bottle of this dense purple wine into the decanter and loosely stoppered it with a crystal ball.

Upon serving, the bouquet was of soft mulberry jam, and plum preserves with hints of black currant.  We toasted the table with uplifted glasses and graciously sipped to seal the meal.  A complex weave of subtle dried raspberry and a smooth medium body lingered wonderfully with the Meritage-blend of both French and American oak-aged finishing.  Other vinofolks with whom I have discussed this wine claim its overly ‘jammy’ or ‘gritty’ and give it a very low rating for its price-point.  I don’t see any of those qualities in this vino.

Though I served a medium-rare NY Strip roast,  you might also enjoy a Crown-Roast of pork or grilled lamb chops. Mmmm! Lamb chops…

A glorious example of a Niagara Peninsula vintner doing it right for $14/bottle.

One of my favorites.



From the estate of the Familia Zuccardi, I have the FuZion Malbec Reserva 2008 from the Mendoza region of Argentina.

Along with other varietals such as Seyval and Marechal Foch, Malbec has always been one of those wines found in blended ‘table wines’ that typically sell for $9/gal.  Before I continue, here is a brief history lesson on South American vitis vinifera:

In the mid 19th century, there occurred The Great French Wine Blight. It was caused by an aphid called Phylloxera accidentally introduced into France’s environment when Americans brought vines and rootstock over to France with the hope of grafting and improving both continent’s plants. Eventually, the Blight was slowed by grafting almost all of France’s vines with the the aphid-resistant rootstock from American plants.

During this blight and economic collapse, it is rumored that plantation workers took unaffected roots and fled to other European countries and even to the Americas. Discovered within the last 10 or so years, the South American wine industry has been producing wine from the original un-grafted French rootstock for almost 150 years. Most notable is the Carménère varietal that was almost totally wiped out by The Blight in its native Bordeau.

All this being said in preparation for tasting an historical and true-blue French-rooted wine against my palate, I’m stoked!

So it is with a heavy heart that I am of the opinion that this wine is awful!!

The deep intense purple color and nose of a sweaty sleeping bag brought back repressed memories of my days as a boyscout. The 14% alc/vol would suggest, in this medium-bodied wine, a slow and sensuous legging when swirled in a voluminous glass…  All I could see was a thin slime. Hesitant on tasting this brew, I sipped cautiously – expecting a burning assault of tart nothing.  Alas was I wrong!  Faint hints of stewed prunes and over-dark cocoa followed by wisps of that smoky smell that lingers in your clothes for several washings AFTER the camping trip was my palate’s reward.

Maybe I got a bad bottle or something.  I’ll try to work up the courage to revisit this or similar South American Malbecs in future, but I’m off to scrub my tongue.


Wine is inherently organic and to have this word on any wine’s label is misleading.  I very often refuse to buy a wine based on this. I shudder at the thought of any vintner feeling the need to specify this on his final product!  Views were different at various points in history, but times have changed since the mid 1800s.

Any wine maker worth his cork would NEVER EVER begin to speculate about the very notion of tainting his soil with any chemical whatsoever. The soil in a vineyard is as precious as the roots planted in it and the fruit these vines produce! Anything and everything can affect the result of a winemaker’s craft and to have ‘organic’ on a label always tells me he is trying to sell onto an uneducated public’s lack of knowledge about wine.  Making and serving a wine from grapes polluted with any chemical is like serving milk from a cow that’s been treated with hormones and antibiotics.  It just isn’t done!!

When was there ever a need to put that word on a bottle of Dom Perignon*?!

Do you see that word here? I thought not!!

When was the last time you saw that word on a bottle of George Debœuf Beaujolais**?!

These are just two examples i could think of off the top of my head.  Visit any number of reputable wineries’ websites and go digging for yourself!

So if you see the word ‘organic’ on the label, don’t be fooled into buying it based on this and this alone.  Worth their dirt, no self-respecting winemaker whosoever will never ever EVER EVAR put a chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or anything like that anywhere near any part of the process.  Wine is inherently organic.



*image credit: The Intoxicologist

**image credit: The Passionate Foodie

Welcome to my modest little wine blog. It would seem I’m getting a rather late start in the wine-critique blogosphere; there are probably as many wine bloggers out there as there are wines.

This little space is my foray into the realm of wine blogging and my goal is to help you choose and understand just what you’re choosing from, from a consumer’s point of view.

Visiting your local boozatorium can be overwhelming when, like some, there are hundreds of selections in various sections of a large shop.  White wine, Red wine, France, Italy, California, Wisconsin, Niagara Falls…the list goes on.

As I have touched on in my brief ‘about’ page, I hope to enlighten you, the wine curious in the selection and enjoyment of any wine you chance upon and just what all the factors are that make up your chosen bottle. Be it red or white, cork or screwcap, green glass or clear glass, why the bottle is shaped that way, what that year on the label actually means, and hopefully many other aspects of the whole food/wine experience.

Thank you for visiting. Don’t take my word for it- take YOUR palate’s word for it! If you like it and it feels good, who am I to say otherwise.

I may not like it but you may fine it fabulous.

Explore!  Don’t judge a wine by its label – judge it by its sociability! Does it speak to you and your food? Does that recipes Ma used to make come alive when you add a splosh of wine to the sauce? Does your mouth sing when you let that sip of wine mingle on the palate with a mouthful of your favorite meal?

Awesome!  Check out my reviews of some common and not-so-common wines of the world and try them for yourself.

Let me know what you think.