Archive for the ‘Budget Priced’ Category

Hrm…  It would seem that not all regionally blended wines from France are unique and identifiably unique.  This vino’s full handle is “Hugues Beauvignac Picpoul de Pinet 2009”. It région controlée is Coteaux De Languedoc, Sud De France.

After writing this tasting review, I tried researching the winery itself.  There are plenty of notes on third-party sites, like on WineAlign and Snooth; but nothing produced by the winemaker him/herself. The glass of the overly-tall bottle feels thick and has a couple shaped accents and punted only very slightly.

The first time ever for me trying this wine though I’ve picked the bottle up and set it back down again at the LCBO  – turned off by all the spelling mistakes on the back label.   I’m actually glad it made it into my cart this time so I know for next time to leave it alone.

The color is very pale yellow with a strange hue of silver around the edge of the glass.  The nose is lightly perfumed with no real discernible prominent note. On the tongue, there aren’t many flavors at all really other than the faintest hint of lemon, not even a detectable acidity .  The finish is somewhat minerally, sort of like sucking on a clean pebble.

This reminds me of lemon drink-mix powder mixed with too much water.

A waste of ~$10 at the LCBO.



**image credit – Google image search.  There doesn’t appear to be a website for the actual winery but I’ve found plenty of reviews once this one was finished.  They all read the exact opposite of what i experienced with this vino.  Did I get a bad bottle? If so, I seem to have the best (or worst) luck at finding the bad bottle in the lot.

I needed an easy-drinking wine to give as a gift to a co-worker who has expressed an interest in wines but hasn’t had much experience with the matter. Whenever i give wine as gifts I almost always choose an Ontario VQA wine.  I am still very shocked and saddened that most people poo-poo Ontario wine as not worthy of a glance.

Vidal is a hardy hybrid variety of grape characterized by thick green skin, mild acidity and a predictable growing & ripening cycle. The wine produced can be simple and clean with moderate residual sweetness and a balanced tartness. It is very easy to appreciate by a new wine consumer’s palate that may still be scarred by flashbacks of the piddle Dad used to serve in the 70’s when we were kids.

Though Reif Estates Winery is located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the VQA appellation is “Ontario”.  All the grapes have been grown in the designated viticultural areas, the juice has been pressed,  musts fermented and wine bottled entirely in Ontario.

Pale yellow in color, this mid-weight vino has a pleasant aroma of marigold and nectarine.  A decently off-dry sweetness carries the floral essences through to the finish with hints of peach and honey as the 12%alc/vol secretly evaporates on the palate.

Get it now at LCBO ~$10/btl and enjoy through 2013.  I think I’ll buy another bottle and invite some friends over for grilled chicken with orange sauce!




**image credit – the winery. Reproduced under fair use provisions for review and critique.

Ok, so I’m on a South African binge.  Last review was not too bad from the Stellenboch region of the Western Cape. (The only other viticultural region is the Northern Cape).  Only my third bottle of South African wine, I’m actually sort of liking its unique characteristics. This Nederburg Cab is from the adjacent appellation of “Paarl”.

In an attempt to refine my wine-tasting skills, with the help of a vino-friend; I’ve been tasting most of my new entries blindfolded.  I carefully ponder all the non-visual aspects of a vino and as I ramble and consider, my vino-friend takes notes.

Very forward with the alcohol, it took a number of whiffs to finally detect a few essences of black fruits, a faint touch of licorice and some cedar. Concluding I was tasting a Cab was easy.  Dense and full-bodied on the palate, the flavors are earthy and spicy through the nose.  The finish is somewhat powdery; a woodiness that tastes of sappiness.  I’m thinking this hasn’t seen any oak at all even as sources say it has seen twelve months “in wood”.  Taking off the blindfold, it was interesting to note the deep purple hue – not at all like a ruby I’m accustomed to see in a Cab.

Though only marginally recommended, this vino could do with some proper oaking to better heighten the varietal characteristics most of us appreciate in a good Cabernet.  (LCBO ~$11/btl)  In this price range, there are other South African Cabs on the shelf I’d be more excited to try.



**image credit – Snooth.  Image re-posted from this source to coordinate with my excerpt review.

Now that I have my taste for Brut under control, its time to get back to the ordinary and contemplate non-sparkling/still vino.

Once this entry is complete, I will have tasted almost all of Mezzomondo’s wines offered at the LCBO. I’m sure there are one or two others that may require a little more hunting to find them.  The amazing Negroamaro Salento, a palatable Sangiovese Merlot, dumpster-cleaner Sparkling Rosé and now this Pinot Grigio Chardonnay.

If not for a sometimes obvious identity crisis, this vino definitely shows some possibilities. The nose prickles with some decent citrus scents with a deeply buried peachness… The body is surprisingly full and smooth with a zesty twang of spices to finish clean.  One mouthful is Pinot Grigio, one mouthful is an about-face of full on Chardonnay.

A rather unique-tasting vino that paired will with slow-roasted pork tenderloins.  Yes, I said pork. The lean flesh has a low fat content and as I roasted it with an autumn vegetable melange, it was juicy and tender.

A decent vino for ~$10/btl



**image credit: ME!  Depiction of label and product published under Fair Use provisions for review and critique.

Even though this is the fifth installment in my now-SIX part series on holiday bubbles, I’ll not be expounding much on this particular entry. Yes, ~$11/blt is in the ‘moderate priced’ category, this sparkling wine will be grouped in the ‘budget category’.

From what I can find online and in my local LCBO, MezzoMondo offers four distinct vinos: Negroamaro Salento, Sangiovese Merlot, a Sicilian Pino Grigio/Chardonnay, and this Sparkling Rosé. The Salento kicks major butt, the Sang-Merlot is decent, I’ve not tried the Pino Grigio/Chard yet and then there’s this…uhm…stuff…

I bought this hoping the previous two vino experiences were the benchmark of something wonderful.

The cork leapt from the bottle as any would but this time it felt like it truly NEEDED to be away from this one.  The mousse foamed like soapsuds and left odd webbing on the glass. There wasn’t the faintest hint of any scents on the nose, nor even on the palate. There isn’t anything I can possibly try to dredge up to say anything positive about this stuff.  The coral-pink color is very pretty to look at in the glass as it dances with bubbles the size of peas.

A very disappointing offering from MezzoMondo.

YUCK!!!!!!!  Spend the extra dollar and get something better



**image credit – a Google Images search produced a few results – I chose one and added the festive holly border.  Label and naming is naturally the property of the winery, pictured here under Fair Use provisions for review and critique.

The third Thursday of November is the day the fresh crop of Beaujolais Nouveau and Gamay Nouveau are released.  Like many vinobloggers, I could barely contain my palate as we snapped up our preferred producers’ offerings!

On a trip to Paris a few years ago, I was enthralled by a Du Boeuf Beaujolais Villages picked up at a shop a block or two north of Cafe Metro- across the Seine from the Cathedral of Notre Dame. What wasn’t finished in our hotel room before bed was mopped up with day-old baguette for breakfast the next morning.

Most  “nouveau” wines are expected to be consumed quickly to best experience their vim and vigor.  Deep purple and glossy in the glass, a nose of violets and cocoa make the mouth water. Fresh and smooth on the palate with flavors of cherry carry through and finish to a mildly woody note.

Not quite the same as a Beaujolais Villages, this Gamay Nouveau is traditional yet youthful.  A good buy for instant gratification.  Don’t cellar this vino for any longer than 9 months – even that would be pushing it for ~$9/btl @ LCBO.




**image credit – ME!!!  I placed the almost-empty glass beside the drained bottle and aimed for a low angle with no flash.  Image turned out pretty sweet, I’d think! =D

Please think back for just a moment with me to my review of Mezzomondo Negroamaro Salento 2009 and how amazed I was by its wonderful presence and character for only ~$8/btl….

Well…  Mezzomondo has done it again with their Sangioveses Merlot.

The same conditions were re-created for the tasting of this vino: crunchy flat-bread pizza with sausage and mozzarella. Sangiovese, from my experience, needs a little time in the glass to bloom, so I hesitated just a bit once pouring before even swirling & sniffing.  Hrm…  I swirled and sniffed. Nothing. Swirled again…  Not much happening on the nose. Seriously!  There’s only a very faint whiff of dust and cherry on the nose.

Pizza is ready, I’ve had a bite and began swirling the vino again – this time to sip.  Mmmm!   The scentless secret is whispered to the palate with a tangy, spicy, earthy experience.  The medium body is woody and tannic and leaves me literally drooling for another sip!

Pleasant and simple.  A great vino for ~$9/btl.



So…  As promised, I’ve decided to revisit the South American Malbec.  You may recall my review of the FuZion Malbec Reserva 2008 and how I kinda sorta didn’t quite like it.

Also promised was to keep an open mind with the value-for-money aspect of some of these budget-priced wines from various parts of the globe.

I tried, my friends, I really and honestly tried.

This dark-purple goop smells like a dirty ashtray to which rubbing alcohol has been added.  Its chalky texture carries flavors of Mackerel and petrol to the palate and lingers most dolefully with essences of sour cherries and liniment to remind you of just how yucky this wine is.

Pop-for-the-dollar considered, you can do A LOT better than this for only $8/blt.  Try it for yourself, but don’t say I didn’t offer some advice.

Even paired with the suggested stuffed pasta (I had  cheese tortellini in beef&tomato sauce), I truly wish I could have set aside my honesty and given this vino a decent review, but I just don’t feel it.



**image credit – Google Image Search Results – used under Fair Use provisions for review and critique.

++the website for the actual winery is infected with a malware/spyware virus and my security suite prevented it from loading.

California’s Napa Valley is probably one of the most well-known places in the entire United States for the growing of grapes and the production of wine. On one of my many trips to the mid-west, I came across a retailer who was tasting this vino and stopped for a sip. For the record, this trip was around late August of 2008 and I’m drawing on my memory of the trip and my detailed tasting notes….

“How long has this bottle been opened?” I asked as I glanced at the unstoppered bottle.  This is ALWAYS my first question when chancing upon a tasting station.  The attendant glanced at her watch…

“About 2 hours,” she replied. “Its been kinda slow around here today, donchyaknow.”

“That’s not too long,” I lied. “Lets have a swig.”

In the wee plastic cuppy, this wine tasted flabby and weak; like all the life had been sucked out of it.  My experience to date with California Pinot Noirs has leaned towards chunky, bold and full-bodied so I was certain this sample bottle was past its prime.

On a whim, and at only $6.95USD, I bought a bottle to taste properly in the privacy of my hotel room.

Even when done in the true Burgundy tradition, cellared and forgotten about for as long as 20 years, I’ve yet to hear (with the exception of VERY few Russian River California appellations) of a California Pinot Noir that hasn’t turned to mud.  Anyway…

I chilled this bottle for about 30 minutes in the hotel minibar fridge and rummaged for my travel corkscrew.  The synthetic stopper was cleverly scrawled with the winery’s signature “Whoo Whooo COUGH Whooo Whoo” pattern.  I kept the stopper. *grin

With an easily-detectable 13.5% alc/vol and a nose of sweaty gym socks and over-ripe cherries, I was beginning to sense that the $6.95 could have been spent better elsewhere.  A cautious sip brought tears to my eyes with harsh flavors of masticated pomegranate seeds, kerosene and ammonia.  I SURRENDER!!

I don’t think I’ve ever abandoned a bottle of vino faster that this stuff.  I’m sure there’s a dreamy-tasting Burgundy-styled California Pinot Noir out there somewhere, but alas, this Smoking Loon Pinot Noir 2006 ain’t that vino. Blech!!!

Value-for-money considered, be VERY glad this isn’t at your local LCBO.



*image credit – Google Images Search – selected image result used under fair-use provisions for review and critique.

oMondo Negroamaro Salento 2009. Great with pizza obviously; I’d say good too with grilled Mackerel in a  Tomato-Cilantro sauce or full-flavored orange cheeses like Colby and Cheddar. I’ll most certainly be picking up a few bottles for my wine rack – at this price its definitely a great budget-priced vino! Yes, that was not a typo: $7.95/btl!


~tvbdonchya know

I’ve been accused of many things over the years, and forgetful is most certainly one of them. When I am reminded to consider bang for the buck with respect to wine, its almost always by the wine itself. At $7.95/blt, this MezzoMondo Negroamaro Salento 2009 from the very heel of Italy is a true steal!

Sausage and cheese flat-bread pizza is in the oven at the moment, so I only have five minutes before dinner.

I love the label on this bottle – craft-colored paper with a very Galileo-esque design surrounding the year of vintage. Neat-o. The foil was removed to reveal a rather ominous black chugget of rubber stopper.  I thought two things: young/flat or complete plonk.

Four minutes left on the pizza…

Carefully poured some of this garnet-colored stuff into a Bordeaux glass and gave it a slosh.  Medium body appearance with a strangely enticing legging….  *sniff sniff  Hrmm… Very alcohol-forward… Cherry… plum…  hints of white pepper…  but I’ve been at this point before – all worked up for what may very well be anti-climatic.  I glanced at the over timer as I raised the glass to my lips…

Three minutes left.

Ka-POW!!!!  Rustic and fresh tannins with a mild acidity, popping flavors of plums and currants, pleasant linger of raisins and a flick of cedar…

Two minutes left on the pizza.

I’m sitting here staring bewildered into my wine glass!  Really? This?! This is good!! Really Good!!!  If this is the stuff Mama sloshes about with basic, honest Southern-Italian home cooking, I can’t wait until…


Ack!  Those two minutes flew by as I was lost in the astonishment of this wine. Pizza is cut, I’m at the table and taking a bite, burning the roof of my mouth, naturally.   A sip of vino to mingle with the sauce and sausage, crust and mozzarella… Awesome. I can almost see the Adriatic Sea off the terrace to the east rather than the Toronto skyline to my south.

MezzoMondo Negroamaro Salento 2009. Great with pizza obviously; I’d say good too with grilled Mackerel in a  Tomato-Cilantro sauce or full-flavored orange cheeses like Colby and Cheddar. I’ll most certainly be picking up a few bottles for my wine rack – at this price its definitely a great budget-priced vino! Yes, that was not a typo: $7.95/btl!