Posts Tagged ‘Regional Blend’

kiralyudvar-tokaji-furmint-sec-2010Not much I can really say to introduce this vino.  We’re seeing Furmints more and more as our palates search for something new and interesting.  And its from… Hungary!!!  Bright minerality on the nose and a richly-deep color in the glass, the palate is almost viscous.  The balance is a little off on the acidity but with the finish being so full of ripe peach and plum, it’s hardly an issue.  The longer I spent contemplating this unique vino between sips, the more I could detect echos of richness – almost like a freshly-baked loaf of bread.

A little historical research revealed the winery and royal chateau has been in operation since the 16th century!  The viticultural region as a whole has likely been producing wines for almost 2000 years!!  Visit the entry on Wikipedia to explore the full entry.

Further investigations are warranted to see if other vinos from Hungary’s Tokaj region are available here in Minnesota!

Inquire at your local purveyor to see if its available in your area.




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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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Traditional method bubbles are getting more affordable these days.  When you stumble upon one that you’ve never heard of before, don’t search for an excuse to save it for a special occasion. Chill it and have it tonight.  You don’t even have to pair it with anything!  Well, when I say affordable, most budget to moderately-priced bottles (under $25) are fair game.

I’ve written about bubbles in the past: how they’re made, whats in them, etc. Some are tasty, others not so much.  How do I decide which ones to buy that I’ve never seen before?  *shrug   The label is typically no help, the dark-colored thick glass makes it impossible to see the wine…  The only senses left are taste and smell and we can’t do that if the vino is trapped in the bottle.

The wine is lightly yellow in color and the soft mousse has a curiously subtle green tinge.  Oranges, light spices and soft hints of yeast make for a pretty complex aroma. Mouth-feel is slightly sweet and the fizz is bright. Palate is fresh, tangy and more than a little complex with layers of grain drifting to the back of the nose.  The finish has a faint sourness but the yeast essence makes up for that.

I think I’ll give this a recommendation if you can find it.  Even then, its not overly rare, so expect a  price tag of ~$20/btl.

There’s no special day like today.  Cheers!



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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!!



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In my studies with the Vintners Quality Alliance, there lies within Ontario several “sub-appellations”: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelee Island, Prince Edward County just to name a few.  Grapes from the vines cultivated in the unique soils/terroirs of these sub-appellations carry with them the essence of everything in this wondrous dirt.

The sub-appellation of Costères de Nimes within the major region of Rhône is one such example in that most southern part of France.

Your vinoboy suggests slightly chilling this wine before tasting, but PLEASE not too much.  Intensely colored, floral and herbaceous nose, powerful mouth feel and an open, refreshing airy gasp of dried lavender on the finish.

The structure and balance of this vino makes it a perfect pair for exotically-spiced grilled chicken and veggies.  We’re actually crusting our chicken breasts with the famous Saffron restaurant’s Chef Sameh Wadi Spice Trail Exotic Blend Middle-Eastern blend.

LCBO/Vintages ~$14/btl   Cheers to Summer!!!



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Chablis.  Sometimes referred to as the “outcast of Burgundy”, Chablis is a small region in north-central France most well-known for its mineral-rich terroir; the soil full of limestone and calcium.  The area was once covered by a vast sea, so the fossils and shells add to the calcium content in the soil. I could go on and on about just the soil in various parts of France but will leave that to one of my on-line mentors: The Wine Doctor.  Visit and explore his extensive writings on the subject and check out his sponsors.

Chablis, therefore, isn’t so much about the Chardonnay grape from which it is made, but about the earth that nurtures the vines.

Carefully chilled to 14°C whilst dinner was prepared to hit the grill.

I’ve recently acquired a taste for whole shrimp; the jus in the carapace is succulent and tastes of the sea – reminding me of growing up in the rural Maritimes. Got some live 8-10 tiger prawns from a local Asian market, dunked them in ice-cold brine to slow them down and make them clear their guts. Drained them, sprinkled with S&P and put in the fridge. (yes, they’re still alive, but very sluggish.  Got the grill really hot and laid shrimp carefully on holding them there in case any complained about their imminent consumption.

Took only three minutes each side to perfectly cook. Split off the head and suck out the jus!  Mmmm!  Creamy soft, slight tinny taste, and lightly salty.  A sip of Chablis to compliment the custardy shrimp jus.  Nice. Peeled away the shell on the tail and savored the delicate flesh clean and simple.

The crisp and light acidity of the Chablis is a great balance to the mid-weight silky mouth-feel.  Flavors of citrus, coriander and slate carry through to a dry lingering finish.  I think I’ll be adding more Chablis to my cellar for a couple year’s rest – the time will mellow the tang of the minerals and increase the undertone of spice.

LCBO/Vintages ~$22/btl  A bit pricey for every-day consumption, but with the expensive shrimp, it was worth it.  Magnifique!



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Ok, so I must confess before I go any further that the only reason I chose this wine (the last of the wines I chose when last out with my good friend ‘S’…) was the shape of the bottle.  Hour-glass sculpted and sinuously tall, I was hoping the vino within would be voluptuous and yummy…

That’s not entirely true, I must confess. Côtes de Provence is one of the southern-most regions of France, in the foothills of les Montagnes Pyrénées -the range that divides the country from Spain. And since I’ve had delicious experiences with French rosés of late, a tasting was in order.

The faint nose was lightly rosy with a hint of lavender. On the palate, flavors of red peppers and stone berries fill both the front and back of the mouth.  The structure is slightly heavy, but otherwise, a rather pleasing vino.

Stock is low at the LCBO so if you find it at ~$14/btl, drink it right away or even try to cellar it for a year or two.




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In the countryside northeast of Adelaide South Australia lies the Barossa Valley and the Peter Lehmann winery. This Barossa Blonde is part of the Art Series whose labels are created by local artists to represent the character of the wine within.

This Australian regional blend is a mix of Riesling, Chemin Blanc, Semillion and Sauvignon Blanc – most of which are grown in the Barossa Valley; the Sauv Blanc is from the Adelaide Hills.

Floral on the nose, this pale gold wine seems a little too zippy at first glance. The palate is juicy and tart with lime and granny smith apple. The refreshing finish is pleasing and clean, the initial zippiness actually helps the vino along.

I chose this vino to accompany a dinner of olive oil&sun-dried tomato marinated chicken breast pan-roasted with aromatics served with scented Basmati rice. YUM!

May still be in the new release section of the LCBO ~$13-14/btl.




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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…



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This calculated selection is the product of my enjoyment of Camp Viejo Crianza 2007, Rioja and my personal technique of exploring the various vinos from any particular region.  In this case, having enjoyed the Crianza which is the rich spicy toasty red and pretty much all Tempranillo, the rosé should be less dense, smoother, slightly sweeter and not wooded…

The winery itself is a fourth generation vineyard with the Faustino-Martinez family very much involved with the wine making, preserving the family integrity and unique character within this small region in Northern Spain.  Most prominent on the label is the portrait of who we can only assume is Eleuterio Martinez Arzok, who left his home village in search of a dream. He found it in Oyon, Alava where he bought a house and some vineyards and started making his own wines.

First off, the tall slender frosted bottle is beautiful!  A lovely watermelon pink in the glass, the 13%alc/vol produced some long legging when carefully swirled.  The nose is full of raspberry and light roses.  Almost creamy in the mouth, the raspberry turns jammy and smooth to refreshing finish.

Stimulating to the appetite, it didn’t take long for my guests and I to polish off this bottle with the baked penne Bolognese I prepared.  Find this vino in the Vintages section at the LCBO ~$13/btl.m  You may have to hunt for it as I’d found this tucked away in the corner of a lower shelf.




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