Archive for the ‘Dry Red’ Category

Things are going well here in Minnesota as I celebrate my one year anniversary. School is starting up again in a couple weeks and I hope to maintain the part-time job I landed for the summer.  Concurrent to my studies, I am working as an Interior Design Assistant at a retailer of home accessories.  Interacting with clients, educating them as best I can in the art of effective home design and trying to make a place for myself with this wonderful local company.

I am still surprised at the tremendous disparity in the pricing of wine(s) between Canada and the USA; even regionally within both countries, there is a huge range of factors that determine the final sticker shock. In Ontario this bottle runs ~$16; in Manitoba ~$18, Minneapolis ~10, San Francisco ~$7, various wine shops in Paris ~€3.

Southeastern France, as we all know, is a huge producer of all sorts of vinos.  The Perrin Family owns Chateau Beaucastel, sources its grapes from many small local vineyards, and is one of the premier cellarers of Chateauneuf-de-Pape.  I have yet to sample a CdP so as soon as I am lucky enough to try one, you can bet there will be a posting about THAT!!!

This vino displays a rich garnet color in the glass and decent density of berry freshness on the nose.  The forward palate is ripe and round with strawberry and structured earthiness while on the back-note, there are hints of spice and tobacco smoke.  Finishing with a moderate length, the alcohol becomes rather evident as you swallow.

Not too bad, remarkably consistent versus previous vintages. It is mostly Garnacha/Grenache blended with Syrah and character-adjusted with various other regionally approved varieties.  Pairs well with everyday foods such as hamburgers, meat-topped pizza, and even a grilled NY Strip!




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4 cheers for me! Not 3 cheers, 4 cheers!  This is to toast my 4.0GPA after eight months of dedicated nostrils to the textbooks.  If i can keep my brain sharp over the summer by practicing on the software learned, sketching daily, and trying to get the jump on the material for Term 3 in September, fingers crossed I will succeed.

I have been tasting vino, cooking with vino, sharing vino experiences with friends and discovering many new vinos in the huge wine markets here in Minneapolis – more  than ever available at the LCBO’s largest stores in Ontario.

Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha 2007 is on the very edge of its cellarability and many retailers are trying to clear out old inventory.  This dusty bottle was discovered at Haskell’s in Apple Valley for ~$12.00USD.  Experience tells me this Spanish vino will be big.  Really rich and spicy on the nose but medium on the palate.

About an hour before dinner, I popped this baby open; just in case it needed decanting. Deep dark purple with slow thick legs! Jeepers!! This stuff is potent at 14.5% alc/vol! Rich nose of licorice, black fruits and a lingering whiff of cedar.  The mouth-feel is indeed medium and a little fiery as that alcohol stings the tongue a bit; tannic weight is medium too, so there’s not much puckeriness from that.  Swallow is smooth and slick leaving a moderate finish of chocolate and pepper.   I like it just as it is and it will pair perfectly with dinner, but i WILL decant to mellow out some of the alcohol’s sharpness…

We’ve scored some elk sausages so we’ll be grilling them up and topping them with tomato sauce (roma tomatoes, shallots, garlic and day-old baguette whizzed up in the food processor with a little (a lot) olive oil).  Elk is typically VERY lean, but with these sausages, there’s enough fat to keep the moisture content high.  Grilled just until the juices run clear then let to rest  five or so minutes.

The decanted Garnacha poured out into my now-favorite stemless glasses and passed around the table.  YUM!!!  Soft and mellow in the mouth without that harsh zing of alcohol, cleansing acidity against the sausage fat and tomato sauce.  Awesome.




**images credit:  “Haskell’s, The Wine People”  Reposted and linked in good faith.  Image is not the property of and is reposted under fair-use provisions for product review and critique.

Wow!  I can’t believe seventeen weeks has elapsed ALREADY!!!  I am very proud to declare my first term of design school complete and thanks to hard work, focus and the exclusion of all else, my GPA is 3.75; a good solid ‘A’.  Now that I have three weeks off until the start of the next term (two weeks actually as i’ll be celebrating NYE on the beach in the Bahamas…), i have time to FINALLY update this vinoblog.

As you may be very much aware, I consider myself much more of a red boy than a white boy and actively search for barrel-aged reds.  Why?  Barrel aging imparts much more depth in the overall finished product and enhances the varietal qualities of the grape.  Shiraz especially.

Characteristic aromas of black pepper and clove are most prevalent on the nose as I swirl this medium ruby vino in my new ‘stemless’ Riedel Syrah/Shiraz glass. (STEMLESS?!?!! But you’ve always maintained that the hand warms the wine too quickly and destroys the flavour!) My behaviours in wine tasting have evolved over these last several months and its sunken into my thick skull that the glass doesn’t have to be filled to the upward taper all at once.  Greater enjoyment of the vino in smaller amounts is much more a rewarding vino experience than gulping a full portion.  I LOVE my stemless shiraz glasses!!!

True to the grape, this shiraz is succulently dry on the palate with soft plummy tannins and that yummy pepperiness resonating throughout.  The finish is looooooooooooooooong indeed with a subtle sweetness that echoes the barrel aging.  As an aside note, this bottle was purchased some time in May of this year and has been laying in my new cellar since I moved.  This short of a cellaring after release may not have had any affect on the wine.  As it was totally delicious, I’m not going to complain that its taken me this long to get at it!!

Now that I’m in Minnesota, finding Ontario wine is next to impossible so I’ll be consuming my last bottle of Ontario vino over the weekend.  Look forward to the fourth and final installment of the Konzelmann Estates series very soon.

This barrel aged shiraz is going to be missed, though i’m sure you’ll find it at your favorite LCBO.




image credit – ME!  I snapped the image with my LG Android phone, fixed it up for web use and here it is. makes no claim to ownership and reproduces this product shot under fair use provisions for review and critique.


So as I begin my second phase of education (Interior Design Degree @ DCTC), I continue to explore some of the Ontario vinos I have brought with me.

This entry begins a four-part series on several 2009 vintages and one 2008 vintage from a 118yo family-owned winery.  Started in 1893 outside Stuttgart Germany, Herr Konzelmann, a restauranteur and expert in food&wine produced his personal supply.  Four generations later and half the world away, great-grandson Friedrich Konzelmann: Herbert, continues to produce exceptional wines on their Niagara Peninsula estate: Konzelmann Estates.

This oak-aged Merlot Reserve 2009, Niagara Peninsula VQA displays a greater complexity than most I’ve tasted of late.  The full nose of this rich ruby vino exhibits essences of sweet ripe cherry and cracked black pepper.  The 13.5%alc.vol is barely noticeable on the palate as flavors of cherry and mulberry and soft smooth tannin lead to a warm lingering finish.

The finish is of particular note.  Most dry reds are not very conducive to the pairing with most chocolate.  I could detect the presence of some chocolate flavoring in this lingering finish, so I decided to try some of the Belgian-made Caribbean dark chocolate in my secret stash.  Not so secret really as its available on Amazon… The affect of the bitter-sweet dark chocolate with the vino is something I can’t fully describe.  You’ll just have to try it.

Available at the LCBO ~$12/btl.




**image credit: Me!  I took this image myself with my camera phone, ran it through a photo editing platform, then uncapped the bottle and went nuts. makes no claim to ownership of the depiction and republishes the likeness under fair use provisions for review and critique.

One of the most consistently delicious and pedigreed wines I’ve been keeping very detailed notes on is an affordable junior-level vino from one of the most recognizable vintners in the world: Louis Jadot. Its trademark frieze of Bacchus and uniquely colored label stands out on any shelf in any vino purveyor’s shoppe.

Though my tastings have only dated from the 2004 vintage, this historic vino travels back in time to the early 1800’s.  The winery has been passed down through the last 200 years to various parties whose best interests ensure the sustainability or the vineyards and most importantly the consistency of the final product.

(V) 2004 – the beginning of my tasting was almost the end.  A prominent barnyard aroma, slight cherry flavor yet thin on the palate and no finish at all.

(V) 2005 – dark and ominous in the glass, the faint layer of earthiness is rather pleasing with a strawberry essence on top.  Berry-forward palate with the earth on moderate finish.

(V) 2006 – We went through two bottles of this amazing vino at an out-of-the-way bistro during a trip to Paris. Took another back to the hotel for the evening.  Smooth palate, flavors of raspberry and cherry with a silky finish. Great for breakfast sopped up with day-old baguette. Best bottle yet!

(V) 2007 – Predominantly peppery on the nose, tangy strawberry flavor, bright acidity –  deliciously gulpable!  Almost Nouveau in style.

(V) 2008 – Spicy cherry on the nose with hint of peppercorn.  Rather light-bodied and finishes with a hint of anise.  Strange flavor profile for this type of vino but still drinkable.

(V) 2009 – Crushed strawberry and barnyard on the nose, lively acidity on the mid-weight palate, distinctive peppercorn finish.

Prices range from ~$8/btl to as high as ~$17/btl as your local vino merchant

Six years, six bottles of the same vino produced from vines as old as 200 years. Consistent and enjoyable and ready for the release of 2010’s offering.   I have several other vinos with years of detailed notes like this; look for another retrospective sometime soon.

A Santé!!



**image credit: via WineAlign. makes no claim to ownership and republishes under fair use provisions for review and critique.

Oh my, where to begin!

I drank the whole bottle myself once this vino was uncorked and decanted.  Already aged 6 years, the tannin and pop has mellowed all on its own to be sure, but having read somewhere that this particular Niagara Escarpment Winery’s VQA-certified wines were bold prepared me to take such a step prior to drinking.

Even after an hour in my favorite decanter, the aroma was still smooth and appealing with wafts of black pepper, cedar and hints of cocoa.  The palate was lip-smackingly dry; the full-bodied flavors of chocolate, cherries and a creamy smoothness brings to mind a dense, not-too-sweet cake.

The finish was dry to be sure with a racy edge that had me polishing off the bottle and licking the last drops from my class.

~$15/blt at the LCBO, supplies are dwindling so if you find it, get it and either drink now or cellar for just a few more years.




**images credit: WineAlign – makes no claim to ownership and republishes image under Fair Use provisions for review and critique.

FINALLY!  I have finally found an Australian vino that doesn’t have an extroverted sensation of dirt!  More clearly, the expressive quality of the Australian terroir [imho] reflected in the palate of the wine is very often a detraction from an otherwise delicious bit of vino.

As with my last entry on Australian wine, the Barossa Blonde, the Barossa Valley in South Australia is a rather prolific and fiercely protected viticultural area becoming more and more known for its rarer varieties of cultivated v. vinifera. Specifically Viognier.

Viognier was almost totally wiped out in France due to a combination of The Blight and WWI.  A terribly difficult grape to grow, conditions must be completely ideal for it to flourish.  And flourish it has.

I don’t normally go for Viognier as a wine of choice, it can be very often heavily floral and thick to the point of being waxy.  When blended, these qualities are muted and complimentary to its mated pair.

Yalumba’s Shiraz Viognier 2009 is a tasty blend. Complex and exotic, the peppery characteristic of the shiraz is balanced out by the floral notes of the viognier; cinnamon and black tea from the shiraz is softened  to violets with the viognier.

I sipped this vino all by itself to best appreciate the juiciness on the palate.  I’d suggest cedar-plank salmon, or pork tenderloins; steaks might be a little too heavy.

LCBO listed at ~$13/btl.  I like this a lot!




**image credit – The Winery. makes no claims whatsoever to ownership and republishes image under fair use provisions for review and critique.

I have no idea what possessed me to buy another South American wine; and one from the most mass-production oriented sections of the most abused appellation in all Argentina.  Unless any of you can convince me to taste another South American vino, I’m off them for good.

I’m having a difficult time writing this review as I can’t think of anything really nice to say about this vino.  Its alcohol-forward on the nose, powerful scents of cherry and shale, a gravelly mouth-feel, flavors of mealy dampness and a lingering tarry finish of smoke and creosote.

So I guess this vinoblog entry is as much a washout as this gloppy stuff is.

At ~$13/bottle, its not even a value purchase.

No more South American wine for me unless YOU can convince me otherwise.



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Spain is the third largest wine producing nation in the world. Most notable to this vinoboy’s pallet are the glossy dark reds of Priorat, savory reds from Rioja, and  sparking whites from Cava. My friend “S” pointed this Barrica out to me on our recent trip to the Vintages section of our favorite LCBO.

This vino turned out to be a lot more of a complex challenge that I would’ve thought.  My tasting happened in what turned out to be three stages: immediate uncorked impression, one hour decanted, and next day.

Immediately after uncorking, I sloshed a generous portion of this Garnacha, Carineña, Cab. Sauv blend into a glass.  The deep deep deep red color would be the color of my next car if i had that option.  On the nose, the vino felt simple with basic scents of sour cherry and black pepper. Tannic on the palate with a subtle pine note on the short finish.  Not too bad.

About an hour later after cleansing my mouth with plain melba toast and water, the decanted portion was tasted.  The peppery nose had softened somewhat letting more hints of cocoa and currant come up.  Palate still feels a little grating and there’s a curious minerality on the moderate finish.

Next afternoon, the third-of-a-bottle I let rest in the recorked bottle was examined.  The aroma has definitely unwound to reveal a rather structured nose of raspberry jam and light tobacco.  This tobacco essence, reminding me of a relaxing Latakia-blended pipe smoke, carried through to a lengthy finish where the minerally/metallicy edge was very evident.

What have I learned from this vino?  Not sure yet.  I’m still digesting the notes I’ve taken and will probably add a bottle to my ever-increasing cellar to let rest for a while; maybe 5 years. My vino-peers seem to be mixed on this though – some are saying gulp it now, others are advising to lay down considerably.

Not a bad bit of vino for the LCBO/Vintages ~$17/blt on sale (regular price is ~$22).

Cheers from your just-back-from-vacation…



**image credit – culled from the results offered by a Google Images search.  No ownership is claimed or implied; reposted under fair use provisions for review and critique.

Batting 3/3 on the Recommended list of South African wines, trying another from a different appellation didn’t require much hesitation.  The Boekenhoutskloof winery is located in the Coastal Region and are trying to give their French counterparts a run for their money.

Exploring the winery’s website, I’m pleased to see that they and their neighbors are actively engaging in concentrated conservation efforts aimed at removing alien and invasive species of plants.  They have discovered a species of plant unique to the area and are propagating it throughout the property. Also in their book of tricks, the winery is contributing to a PhD student’s studies of the Crested Porcupine – the namesake of this chosen vino.

This densely red vino has a spicy nose of primarily cracked peppercorns and anise. Even though its a whopping 14.5%alc/vol, this is barely noticeable.  The mouth-feel is rather full-bodied with flavors of ripe black cherry and mulberry. A moderately soft tannin and a smooth finish has notes of bitter cocoa and a decently integrated woodiness.

For dinner, I had concocted a bacon-wrapped inside-round roast of beef served au jus with roasted potatoes/carrots/turnip.  Even my non-vino dinner partner was pleasantly surprised at how well this vino paired with the beef.

Another winner from South Africa making it 4/4!  LCBO ~$15/btl

Jou goeie gesondheid!



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**image credit – The Crested Porcupine via Flickr.  Thank you very much for sharing your wonderful photography.