Posts Tagged ‘Regional Blend’

Thank you to Mel from Hamilton Ontario for suggesting this vino.  He received the bottle as a gift, went searching for reviews, and though I’d not tried it as of yet, he was impressed enough with this vinoblog to submit the recommendation via .

This is a rather beginner-level Bordeaux. It originates from a portion of the region that focuses on more of a mass production scale rather than smaller more carefully tended batches.  In this humble vinoboy’s opinion, a mass produced Bordeaux lacks quite a bit of the refinement and complexity to that of its peers.  We all know the main components of a Bordeaux-blend, this one is primarily Merlot, Cabs Franc and Sauv in equal amounts make up the balance. With that in mind, I popped the cork…

*gasp  Though the  nose is certainly alcohol forward – scents of cherry, earth and a mild peppery note come through nicely.  The earthy essence stimulates a medium mouth feel with a sensation of violets, mild cedar and the faintest hint of toasty nuts. A moderately grating finish of curious cocoa and tannin.

A barely-recommended value at ~$15/btl, buy two bottles, drink one now and cellar the other for 3-5 years.  This should take some of the grating edge off.




**image credit – Winealign (links on the right) via Google Image search. claims no ownership of the image and reproduces it here under fair use provisions for review and critique.

Yay!  I am so excited to review my very first taste of the Rioja appellation from that tiny tiny tiny region in northern Spain. From all the study I’ve done in my vino learning, there exists some 150 wineries in this tiny 500 km² appellation!!¹

Why this vino of all the choices out there to serve with a baked chorizo rice dish served with toasted Bruschetta-topped baguette garnished with prosciutto?  I’ve NEVER had it before – that’s why!  I’ve read about it in various annals, seen it used on cooking programs on the telly, and heard mention of Rioja in a recent motion picture about pirates and their guzzle of choice; this is one vino i just could not bring myself to taste blindfolded.

Lusciously ruby in the glass (a lot lighter in color than I was expecting) a complex aroma of mixed red berries and rich spices, through the 13.5% alc/vol; fills the nose. An underlying layer of toasty vanilla, leather and cocoa compliment this toasty/woody complexity. Astonishingly light on the palate, tart flavors of black pepper soften to smooth velvety tannins and a long herbal finish with note of soft leather.

I can’t get over how smooth and soft this vino feels on the palate!  Certainly the initial shock of cracked black pepper is a drawback, but such a meaty robust red should have at least one ball-peen hammer-like detraction.  But no – this is smooth and easy-drinking, full and subtle with a sense of adventure at decent price tag.  LCBO/Vintage ~$15/btl




**image credit – the winery.  Reproduced under Fair Use provisions for review and critique


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.

Old World to be sure; the E. Guigal Estates and its  combined 390 hectares (889 acres) of vineyards lie on some of the most anciently cultivated viticulture spaces in all of France.  The layered terraces and dramatic slopes have been growing grapes and  producing wine since the time of the Ancient Romans¹.  The 12th-century fort on the estate was made habitable in the 16th century and remains an historic site as well as the winery’s headquarters².  Indeed many of the root-stocks that still produce fruit are in excess of 100 years old³! The cellars of the Guigal estate also house vintages from several other producers; most notably the Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

For an unworthy vinoboy to find this last bottle on the shelf in the Vintages section of my favorite LCBO was indeed a treat. 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.  I wasted no time in sharing this vino with my foodie- and vino- friends; and especially for this review, I was blindfolded throughout most of the meal.  (call us all insane, but I assure you, ther WAS a reason.)

I HAD been informed that tonight would be a low-and-slow-cooked (as in 8 hours!!!) venison stew.  The aromas filling the house were mouth-watering and complex as I sat with my foodies and vinos in the lounge.  The slow-cooker was producing meaty flavors of game, onions, Bay Laurel, and loads of Provencale-style herbs.  Dinner was called, the blindfold (in advance of the vino tasting) applied, to the dining table led and a glass placed in my hands.

On the nose, a combination of black fruits and spices gaves an almost peppermint bouquet to the vino in my glass.  I’m experiencing a full-bodied rich palate with big juicy salivations of licorice & earth blending yummily with opulent infusions of violets and cocoa. The linger feels modestly long without any forced intensity.  Whatever this vino is doing, its completely wonderful.  Once I’d stopped rambling about the wine, the blindfold was removed, a laugh was had by all as my seeming silliness and both stew and wine polished off in their entirety.

The Guigal’s suggest drinking the 2006 vintage now for optimal flavors and characteristics.  It has been rumored that this and the soon-to-be-released 2008 vintage can be laid down for upward of 10 years!  If  I find a bottle of either next visit to the boozatorium at ~$17/btl, I will most assuredly grab it.  It MIGHT be cellared, it might be shared – hard to say. *wink

I certainly hope to encounter the 2006 again, though and I am balancing my anticipation of the 2008 upon the edge of my glass.



**image credit – the winery; edited for space limitations and republished under fair use provisions for review and critique.

1930 – 2010.  Celebrating 80 years, they’ve made a lot of it, sold a lot of it and made lots of money.

Back in its heyday of the 1970’s and 80’s, Baron Philippe de Rothschild was THE wine to drink with your table-side service at the finest restaurants.  It tasted like nothing else on the market at the time and even though you might not have liked it back then you still drank it because you were seen as a certified wine snob drinking ACTUAL France-french wine! WootWoot!!

I’ve been debating now for a few weeks reviewing this vino as its a very well-known winemaker, well-priced to make it accessible and everyone has tried it.  This is one of the drawbacks to a real French wine in the ~$9-$14 price range.

As with its red counterpart, this Bordeaux Blanc is a regionally-named blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon,  and Muscadelle.  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.

The nose is obviously lemon with unripened melon-y notes. A characteristic spritzy sensation dominates the forward palate while herbaceous grassy flavors, twangs of lychee and mineral round out the palate.  The finish is short and easy-going but leans very much towards boring.

Admittedly, this IS one of Baron Philippe de Rothschild’s more junior brands, but come on! Really? To say this stuff is only barely borderline drinkable is to be overly kind.  With all the competition and product knowledge in today’s marketplace, this wine is a let-down on a Bordeaux-sized scale.



**image credit – Google Image Search.

Why Spain? Why not? Nondescript labeling, not a shred of anything on the label as you can see by the bottle portrait other than the Spanish region of origin: Priorat.

Like other wines who take their names from the regions they’re made, Bordeaux for example, much of the regions’ traditions and winemakers’ skills are evident in these blends.  To vinify separately and then, in just the right amounts, blend together to create a wine worthy of its namesake? Truly an art seemingly unique to the Old World.

Deep, dense and beautifully red, this artful blend of grenache and carignan is richly scented with black fruits and coffee. Tangy on the palate, these black cherries, berries and darker flavors linger moderately with hints of anise more touches of coffee and tobacco.  The 14% alcohol content is expertly balanced by acidity and flavor and is neither breathy nor bouquet-evident.

As I’d never tried this vino before, I sipped it all by itself.  These big and bold flavors will, much like a good CabSauv, pair perfectly with red meats – maybe even something mushroomy and earthy like venison or mutton.

Please note that this particular vintage is at the upper limit of the vintner’s  suggested drinkable lifespan.  If you find any more of it at LCBO/Vintages for ~$18/blt, grab it, (decant it if you wish) and enjoy right away. Don’t cellar.




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

Every so often, my palate craves something light and delicate.  Not just Sauv. Blanc delicate, but even more light than that.  Pinot Grigio? Pinot Gris? Auxeroi?  Light-bodied whites to be sure! This wine is produced from grapes grown in vineyards around the ancient city of Orvieto in the Umbria Region of Italy, a land rich in its wine traditions.

I wasn’t planning on any meals or snacks when I chose this wine – just something light and drinkable.  We’ve all seen the Ruffino name and agree that Ruffino IS Chianti. This vinoboy is indeed guilty of thinking the very same. Some research has revealed that this wine is a blend of up to four grape varieties: Grechetto, Procanico, Verdello, Canaiolo Bianco. The exact combination of each grape is unique with every vintage though the Grechetto is the primary ingredient.

The brilliant pale straw color is pretty in the glass as I slowly swirl and absorb the scents of daisies and delicate field flowers.  On the palate, essences of ripe pears and golden apples mingle subtle graces of sage. The finish is moderate with an almost nutty note (yeah – nuts) kinda like blanched slivers of almonds…

Fresh and light, balanced and refreshing, serve chilled all by itself for best enjoyment.  Foods as light as this wine would most certainly be simple and not overly seasoned – pan seared scallops come to mind, or fresh crab and Arugula salad.

LCBO/Vintages ~$11/btl.  A wonderfully light sipping vino.  Saluté!



**image credit – the winery. Published under Fair User Provisions for review and critique.

The foil and cage is removed and the cork sabraged on 2011!  This sixth part of my now-six part series on sparkling vino excitedly culminates in Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin‘s Champagne Brut.  A true champagne from Reims, France; a city surrounded by vineyards that have produced some of the world’s most coveted bubbly for over 250 years!

Loving steps were taken to ensure the serving of this ~$70/btl vino was to happen in the most optimal of conditions – chilled in an ice bucket for no more than 20 minutes; flute glasses painstakingly cleaned then cooled in the refrigerator for 20 minutes; the cat shoo’ed away even as I’m sure she thought it was her at the center of my spotlight’s attention…

5…4…3…2…1… Pop!!  Happy New Year!! 

Carefully poured into the pristinely chilled flutes to produce a mousse as fine as the most whipped of creams, to ebb revealing a 24k gold fluid dancing of its own accord with columns of minuscule bubbles that seemed to manifest from nowhere.  A bouquet of dehydrated apples caresses the nose and teases with hints of macerated vanilla bean.  Nowhere on the nose do I detect any yeastiness that is often associated with in-bottle second fermentation.

The palate is very full in the mouth with tart flavors of pear and toasty brioche but aha!  therein lies the lees – enrobing the sides of the tongue with another flavor-layer of buttery croissant delight.  The memorable finish is almost lemony in its blatant disregard for the 12% alc/vol.

As there were two bottles of this Champers circulating amongst the guests, no one noticed me taking these notes.  I hope they’re going to be checking out this vinoblog soon.  My whole series on sparkling wine; verily my entire vino-website is dedicated to Shahid.  Thank you for continually fueling my enthusiasm for all things vino and keeping me on my toes for any and all questions you and anyone may have about wine, food pairing, cellaring and the overall enjoyment of all things oenological.

Happy New Year all and may 2011 be bold and adventurous!




**image credit – ME!  My kitty, “Puddy Tat” vintage 1993 is pictured with the bottle.  The belly of the cork is then shown emblazoned with Madam Clicquot-Ponsardin’s shield. It would be folly for this unworthy vinoboy to try claiming any ownership other than my subservience to “Puddy Tat” – her meow is my order.  Labellage and symbology property of the winery; used under Fair Use provisions for review and critique.

Finally! We’ve made it to France!! But this sparkler isn’t a champagne.  Château de Montgueret is in the Loire Valley – that doesn’t fall in the Champagne appellation, so its not a champagne.  Still French vino to be sure just geographically challenged by a few hundred kilometers.  This fourth offering in my four-part… er… five-part holiday series is a non-vintage sparkler in the moderately priced range of ~$19/btl. The label offered not the slightest hint of the contents – one of the reasons I picked this up.

In the first part of this Sparkler Series, I recall stressing control and safety while uncorking a bottle of bubbles – use a towel to shield the cork as you ease it from the bottle.  The curious sort that I am, I went to the terrace and with my thumb, I prised the cork straight out and (POP!) let it fly!!! Got great height but it fell into a stand of evergreens on the lawn of the condo so I didn’t see it land.  Maybe I should go hunting for it to retrieve for my collection…

The mousse foamed a little upon pouring but subsided quickly as the flute was filled. Color is a modest yellow-gold with overly-large bubbles (for a methode traditionelle) fizzing from primarily the dimple at the bottom of the glass. There is a faint breath of white bread but fills the nose with tart green apples, lemony notes and honey. These flavors carry through to the dry finish making it easy to go back for more.

A tasty bit of bubbly, but not a total show-stopper.  If you’re going to try this with food, I’d suggest something buttery – like a sturdy white-fleshed fish or grilled chicken. Nothing too fancy.




**image credit – ME!  I snapped this pic after I’d finished the bottle the next morning in a Mimosa. (yeah – it went a little flatter overnight than the others I’ve tested but still tasted good with my omelet. Design and symbols property of the winery obviously.

For these festive times, your vinoboy is offering part two in my four-part series on Champagne and sparkling vino!

This second non-vintage offering is a sparkling Brut from the Cava region of Spain. Priced at ~$13/blt, this makes it ‘moderately priced’; and as this is a traditional method sparkler, that’s a great price for a hand-riddled vino. (Please see “Glass & Grub” for what this means…)  As with Champagnes, only wines from the Cava region can be called a Spanish “Cava”.  The Codorníu winery has been producing ports and grapas since the mid 1500’s and Cava blends since the mid 1800’s.

As I am not a huge consumer of lobster and scallops and other expensive fare, I normally save the sipping of sparkling vinos for special occasions. At this price-point, a bubbly can now be popped to celebrate any triumph of the day!  Just remember not to chill it too much and mask the flavors. (also remember to uncork in a controlled manner – mustn’t pop anyone’s eye out!!)

An enthusiastic mousse subsides quickly to reveal a moderately gold hue with small bubbles that emanate from only a few points on the inside surface of the flute. An interesting fruity nose is of  apples and pears; not something I’d’ve expected from a bottle second fermentation.  It medium body has flavors of crisp apples and under-ripe pears that carry through to the finish; the effervescence fills the mouth with a soft toasty sensation that’s rather cleansing.

A decent whole meal vino with crackers&cream cheese to start, clam chowder second, roast Cornish hens with an apple&walnut stuffing and a simple dessert of pot-de-Mascarpone & fig preserves.

Startlingly pleasant bubbly and one I have never tried until today. Would certainly recommend.




**image credit – found on a Google Images search, then edited in Adobe Photoshop to add the festive holly trim. There are so many bottle portraits out there, take your pick.