Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Old, Old Rieslings

Got a call from Bayview Village - my 3 vintages of Balthasar Ress Riesling are here!

I've written about these somewhere earlier, so I won't repeat the names. Here they are, in case you're curious. Will be locking these up until at least next summer. Under the assumption that they havn't corked and gone to shit already.

Lailey, Niagara



I've always had a fondness for Lailey. Good values, producing good wines. Their pinot noir has always been one of my favourite Niagara wines, and I still stand by my belief that they are the best Pinot Noir in East Niagara, or the Niagara Peninsula.

I've tasted the 2005, which remains the benchmark for earthy, rustic, and complex Niagara pinot noir. So I was very excited to get my hands on the 2006. This past Saturday, I really couldn't wait - just had to pour myself a glass.

Look at how light the colour is! It's quite clear the influence. This is the kind of restraint and respect to tradition that's really endearing to me. Let's be clear though - this is a tight, and very intense wine.



What a nose. My goodness, what a nose. Aromas of hot clay, earth, and smokiness that combines to create a bouquet that I think is quite unique to Niagara. Reminds me a lot of the 2005 Flat Rock Pinot Noir and the 2004 Iniskillin Montague Estate Pinot Noir. The palate follows with bright, fresh red fruits. Lean though, and tart. Will do better with some aging, although the finish is quite abrupt, which concerns me.

A beautiful wine. Honest, complex. Whether this wine is age-worthy or not is up for me to find out - I still have 3 bottles of the 2005 and one more of the 2006. Is this the taste of Niagara? We'll find out.

Monday, September 29, 2008

To-Be-Drunk

Seasons are changing, weather is cooling, what to drink? Or rather, what would I like to drink?

Top of the list - robust red wines. That bottle of 199 Ch. Musar. Oh, the wonderful things I've heard about it! A 205 Lailey Pinot Noir, to contrast with the 206 I had earlier. My St. Joseph's - I believe I have a 199 Yves Cuilleron somewhere. And of course, more port and Sauternes, although it may be a shame to drink them so soon.

But most of all - I'd like a secure source of income.

Marinara!

Getting so chilly outside, so it's time for heavier foods. Something to warm you up, more so spiritually, after a long day.

Spaghetti on marinara sauce! I love marinara - the simplicity, the rusticness, the healthiness...and the fact that it's not quite as easy as it sounds. But I think I did it - my best effort, and most authentic tasting.

You know what would be perfect? A glass of Chianti or Brunello - something with dustily tannic sangiovese in it. Absolute perfection. Bright fruit flavours, layered with that dusty earthiness.

Autumn is approaching, so it means one thing. Shellfish are coming into season! Clams, mussels, oysters......I can go on and on. I'm craving moules a la mariniere, with a wonderful glass of Moulin-a-Vent. Yes, I assure you, they marry wonderfully.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cutting hair

Finally, finally, went in to get a haircut today. Super Mario apparently broke his arm, badly, in a freak, drunken accident. Decided to go with someone new, and came away very pleased.

I'll always trust my grooming with a woman. Always. Women just know what they're doing. Not that I didn't like Super Mario - no, I've trusted him with my hair for years now, but it was time to move on. Lina was great, she did what I asked, and I think I've got a new stylist!

Wanted to get my head shaved again. Just in time for my buddy's birthday, same as last year. But decided against it, because, well, looking like a skinhead just isn't professional.

Picked up some wines, very happy about that. Have a funny story to tell about that as well. Cranky sales reps are always entertaining. Geez, just no energy in the house. Just feeling deflated.

Marathon!

Reading about the Toronto Waterfront marathon has inspired me. I think I like jogging more and more - it's such a mental exercise more than anything else. When you get to that 8 or 9 km point and you just want more than anything to stop and lie down. And then the rush you feel when you push through to the end.

That's my goal - to participate in next year's marathon.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Niagara wine?

I've always struggled to understand how Niagara winemakers claim to make terroir wines. The idea or notion that they've gained a full understanding of their land, and have been able to transmit that into their wines. Claiming that they've acquired a distinct, unique taste that's unmistakably Niagara.

For the most part, I don't believe in that. It's taken the French hundreds and hundreds of years, generations of estate owners and vignerons to uncover what makes their terroir so special. And they're still identifying the best parcels of land.

It's highly presumptuous for New World winemakers to claim that they've found their terroir. Look at California. How many winemakers there state that their wines show terroir? A great majority. So why do they use so much oak? Because oak helps masquerade as terroir. New oak will give you aromas and tastes that only true terroir brings. And until Californians find it, they will keep substituting oak for sense of place, and they'll keep convincing consumers that it's the proper way to do things.

It's interesting, debating about terroir. I'm beginning to see common elements of pinot noir, between the better producers. Elements that make me think, maybe this is the taste of Niagara. Flat Rock, Iniskillin Montague Estate, and Lailey pinot noirs show this common earthiness, this beet root/nutty quality that's so similar. Granted, they're quite unique in their own way but when you compare them, they're strikingly similar. Is this terroir? I don't know but I know these wines are special.

That's why you stay away from the generic stuff - Rocky, still remember that awfully mediocre bottle of Henry of Pelham pinot noir?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Funny uncivility

It's funny how uncivilized people are when they don't know each other. You see it a lot when you take the subway. Especially, especially during rush hour.

Coming back the other day on the subway, saw two old guys go at it. Well, middle-aged at least. This homeless guy was pissing someone off apparently. They got into it, homeless man starts throwing racist insults, and gets the finger in response. He tells him where to stick that finger, then gets off the train with his garbage bag. Unbelievable.

Morning rush hour is the worst. Slavic-looking woman, a big girl, pushes everyone out of her way like a linebacker. She trips on the way out, I think on the subway door. I guess she thought the girl behind her was responsible, so she turns out with this Genghis Khan face and pushes her right in the chest. The crazy things people do to get to work on time...

The funniest, I have to mention, happened last night. During the subway shut-down. We were pulling into Dundas St. I'm staring at this old lady on the platform as the speakers go on about the delay. You should have seen her reaction - no exaggeration, she heard the message, scrunched up her face, and said, literally: What?? F*CK!! She looked like the matronly type, not one to swear at all. I barely held it in, wanted to laugh so bad...it was epic.

You know what? I'm done with city living. This is why we should all live in the rural countryside, eat organic, drink biodynamic, and be happy.

Oh TTC

The TTC, The Better Way, The Red Rocket, all that corporate nonsense, took me for an adventure yesterday. Got on the subway at King Station around 5:15, car inched forward, and I was screwed.

It was crawling through the stations, when I heard the operator say that they had delays at Eglinton St. Not a surprise - there's always delays and there's always something wrong at Eglinton. It wasn't until we got to Yonge, 30 min later, that I knew something was seriously wrong. And btw, King to Yonge usually takes 5 min.

We were told that there were signal problems, that the entire Yonge line was shut down from Bloor to Lawrence. That there would be shuttle buses to take us there. Only, they didn't tell us what was really wrong, and how to even get onto these buses. The toll collector was getting mobbed, so he scurried back to his booth, locked the door, and told everyone through his speaker that you had to go out on Yonge St. to get on the bus.

I walked up to street level, saw the crowd, and said there's no f*cking way I'm getting on these buses. Literally thousands upon thousands of people milling around Bloor and Yonge. It was madness. Decided the only way was to call my father to come get me. I walked west to Avenue Rd., then up north past St. Clair. Walked for 45 minutes, sweaty and tired, finally saw my father, got back on the 401 and home in 20 min. TTC can go to hell.

And I wasted a $2.75 token. I don't understand why and how the TTC is so pathetic. There's not a day without some kind of disruption or delay. It turns out 46 m of cable fell onto the track just south of Eglinton. Can you imagine if this shit happened in Shanghai or Tokyo? And where is the head of the TTC? If this happened in a major city, they'd have the guy's nuts on a f*cking chopping board. Stop talking about Toronto as if it's a world class city, because clearly it is lacking. Dammit, I'm pissed I voted for David Miller. We need Mel Lastman!! Mayor Mel please come back!!!!!!!!!

Look at these ridiculous transfers they handed out. What kind of modern, civilized transportation system still uses f*cking newsprint transfers??!!



Read this: http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/506318
And this: http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/506625
And finally this: http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontoandgta/2008/09/26/6882516-sun.html

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Money money money

You know anyone that's so fixated with money, that everything that comes out of their mouth degenerates into those terms? Whether they're talking about food, the economy, whatever...it always ends up with a mention of money. Let me give you a solid example, because I'm not making any sense.

Recently, we went out to dinner with a family friend. This is a friend who's wine knowledge and collection I admire very much. We were talking about the Languedoc, and then another dinner companion butts in. He says to my friend, "Yes, but it costs so much money! Do you know how much money he's spent on wine?" Totally inappropriate, totally ignorant, and totally pissed me off.

I don't understand the fascination with how much things cost. I love wine. I intend on drinking every bottle I own. Certainly, I won't take out a loan so I can buy a case of Ch. Haut Brion; I buy within my limits, and the monetary value of the wine I own gives me no pleasure. No pleasure at all. Pleasure in wine is only derived when you pull the cork, cook a good meal, and drink it in good company.

What are you trying to prove? When you tell someone you bought something new, and oh btw, it costs $500. What the f*ck are you trying to say? That you're able to afford it? That you have good taste? All this nonsense just reeks of poor class. It dumbs everything down to a tangible figure, that really has no meaning at all.

I love the response my friend gave. He said, "Perhaps, but cheap goods hardly correspond with quality and quality is expensive." Take that. I swear I will lose my f*cking mind if I ever hear that money nonsense again.

Black Sheep


Visited Featherstone in June, came away impressed with their viticulture methods, but found their wines to be lacking....character. This bottle came up, so had to give it a try. 2007 Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling. There's a cute story about the sheep. Don't know if it contributes to the taste of the wine, but certainly a novel way to tend the vines. I applaud their efforts - they do things the natural way and they really are pioneers.

The wine, let's be honest, was simple. Well-made, but a simple wine. Sharp acidity, which I love. Hides the sweetness so well. For a wine to come out of this vintage to only have 10.5% alc. shows a remarkable restraint on the part of the winemaker, which is just fantastic. Lots of ripe fruit, citrus, bracing structure. Maybe it'll develop with some bottle age, so we'll see again in a year or two.

Alsace Grand Cru

We drank a bottle of Alsatian riesling this past weekend. And it was glorious. Tallest bottle of wine I've ever seen in my life.



What a study in contrast with German rieslings! This was from Schlossberg, a Grand Cru vineyard of Alsace. So sharp, so creased...such a Gothic wine!

Hard edges on the nose, but develops nicely on the palate. Long, dry finish. Minerality really starts revealing itself after decanting. Just a lovely wine, perfect with the food we were having.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lose my mind

I'm so pissed right now, I'm gonna lose my f*cking mind. Remember my student loan? Paid it off, but your bank only allows you to pay so much every day online, so I had to space out the payments over 2 days. It was over a week ago, and I checked my account at the NSLSC today. Guess what? They charged me interest.

I was charged $1.05 in interest for the 24 hour delay between payments. How f*cking poor is this government that they have to hound you like this? This is absolutely ridiculous. Ridiculous. My goodness, I'm so upset I can't even see straight right now. Better sit down. Now I'm f*cking going to be awake all night.

I can't wait

One more week until Raptors training camp begins. Which means that the regular season is only about a month away!

Trading away TJ Ford was a risk, but he had to go. Calderon's too good of a player to have to put up with his nonsense. This could go either very well for Colangelo, or it could go badly. But I don't remember ever being so excited for a season before. I think Bosh and O'Neal will do well together. We'll see!

Weather's cooling down. Good sign - it means cellar temperatures are going down as well. What to drink for this weekend............?

Monday, September 22, 2008

I should quit

There's so many blogs on wine, so much garbage being written, I should just stop. I seriously think I'm just contributing to all this nonsense.

What happened to the good old days, when people would drink wine in the privacy of their own homes and shut up about it? Just STFU already!!

Harvest starts

I love Decanter magazine. Don't think I've ever tried to hide that. The Brits don't know much, but they do know how to write about wine.

It's become a major source for me to get industry news. Last Friday the 19th, Decanter reported that the Canadian wine harvest was beginning, both in BC and in Ontario. They interviewed the usual big players - Henry of Pelham, Inniskillin, Jackson-Triggs, who gave the journalists their usual "everything is dandy" line. Well, 2008 was a pretty shitty year, so you have to have pretty big balls to say that this vintage is going to be anything above mediocre.

We had tons of rain in spring, tons of rain in summer, and humid conditions. Very little sunshine, and quite cool nights. Maybe - maybe, the white wines will be fantastic, but I just don't see how they can get their black grapes to ripen. Just don't see it. I mean, 2007 was glorious, but this year was a complete reversal. Will be interesting to see what the winery staff say, when I go up for my next visit.

The article: http://www.decanter.com/news/268166.html

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Upset stomach the night before

My stomach hasn't been feeling well all day. Weird. I never have stomach issues.

Got up at 10am this morning to go to church with my parents. Havn't been up so early on a Sunday in years. Kind of gave in because when you're unemployed and not contributing to the family, you have no say in anything. It was nice seeing everyone there again, but I forgot what the pastor was talking about already, just like 75% of the people who were there. I'm sorry, it just wasn't enlightening material.

Drank some good wines this weekend. Will talk about them later, because I'm tired, and getting ready to shower then sleep. Getting up early tomorrow. Excited to be doing something again.

Washed my car today. It's so therapeutic, washing your car. At least it is for me. Took my time, as usual, detailing everything. My neighbours think I'm really anal, because I scrub my rims with a toothbrush, but what can you say - it's all in the details.

I should post some more pictures up. Kind of getting tedious with all the writing, no?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tired

You know, I've been sleeping 9 hours every night, but still have trouble getting up in the morning. I can conclusively say that I am NOT a morning person. Never was, and I don't think I ever will be. My father can bitch all he wants about it, I just can't wake up in the morning. I'm forever like a 16 year old, who can never get enough sleep.

Anyways...my neck and shoulders are hurting. This reclining position I'm in right now can't be helping it either. It's getting chronic - it's always the same spot that hurts, if I don't sleep on my pillow properly, or if I don't take care of my posture when I work out. We need more of those medicated bandage strips.

Bought more of 2007 Flat Rock Cellars Riesling today. I've tasted previous vintages, and you know how I feel about Flat Rock in general. One of my favourite producers, whose wines are very dear to me. Wine to put away. I have a few bottle of their pinot noir stored away as well. Stelvin closures are excellent for young wines - the question now is how well do they age? There really is no documented evidence of it, so it's up to people to age the wine themselves to judge. My take is that they won't, because of different levels of additives, like sulphur, that they use for stelvin. Just my opinion.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gearing up for winter

I know it's a bit early, but we are in Canada, so you can never be too safe in preparing for the cold. All reports so far suggest that we're going to have a colder winter than last year. Maybe not as much snow, but it'll be just as bad.

What to look forward to for winter? More heartier dishes, more seafood that's coming into season. More hotpot. And more red wine.

I know I've been talking and writing about German rieslings so much for the past few months, but it's what I've been drinking and really getting to know. Received word today that my Balthasar Ress order is in warehouse, and ready to ship in 3 or 4 weeks. My order was from their vertical offer:

1982 Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett, Rheingau
1983 Winkler Jesuitengarten Riesling Kabinett, Rheingau
1986 Hochheimer Kirchenstück Riesling Spätlese, Rheingau

I don't think I'll ever have the chance to taste such old rieslings, so I jumped at the offer to buy. Best part was the price - $64 total, for all three bottles. Will put them away for at least next summer though - it's getting much too chilly for wines as razor sharp as riesling.

Excited. Mussels, oysters, clams...all the shellfish will be coming into season soon. As well as a lot of freshly harvested Ontario produce. I don't think I'll be able to go to Niagara this autumn. I'm really disappointed, but I think I'll have to skip. Gas prices and all....

What are you planning to drink for the cooler weather? Next month, I'll visit my friend's place, to pick out some wines. I'm thinking some of the older Bordeaux I have there, as well as some Niagara pinot noir. Champagne for the holidays, and some Sauternes. Oh, and my port as well. You know what: I've drank as much wine in the past 2 months as I did in a week when I was in Waterloo. No exaggeration.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Extravagant


Tonight, received an email from LCBO Vintages. New offer of a Sauternes estate which I've heard a lot about, and which I've also written about, here. Chateau Doisy-Daëne, a deuxieme cru of Sauternes/Barsac in the Classification of 1855.

This is a highly regarded property, making good wines consistently. That's partly why I put in a order for a few lots of their 2007 Bordeaux Futures offer. But this latest offer was just ridiculous - extravagantly ridiculous.

The offer is for bottles of the 2002 L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne. L'Extravagant is the estate's super-cuvee, if you will. Exceptionally rare wines, exceptionally well made, and well...............exceptionally expensive. $399 for 37,5 cL. That is, $400 for a half-bottle.

Now, I'm speaking from a position of someone who will never have that kind of money to spend on wine. This estate, while great, is still no d'Yquem. It blows my mind that someone will buy it for consumption. I understand the douches that want to invest and all that - but for a true wine lover and drinker, how do you justify this kind of pricing?

Spanked by OSAP

Called NSLSC today to settle my student loan. Learned a valuable lesson. Never get a loan from the government. You think banks want to screw you over? OSAP spanked my ass so hard I won't be able to sit down until November.

They call it a 'grace period'. What it means is that, technically, you don't have to pay, but interest is still charged. IN FULL. By both the federal and provincial governments. I got patronized the other day. They sent me a letter, saying I was awarded a grant of $823, payable towards my loan. What the f*ck good is $823 going to do, when I have a f*cking five-figure loan taken out?

It's not worth it man. Don't go for OSAP. Find a way, any way to pay for tuition.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pale Ale

On to more cheerful thoughts - this weekend, I cooked up some simple fusilli and sausages in tomato and shallots sauce. With it, a fantastic pale ale from Montreal.



I love pasta. The rustic nature of the dish, how simple it is, how hearty it is...exactly the kind of food I love. Lots of shallots and garlic in olive oil, throw in your blended tomato. Season with herbs, salt, pepper. On the side, pan sear the sausages until brown on the outside, still pink inside. Let it rest. Boil and reduce the tomato puree. For summer, no tomato paste - we save that for winter. Slice the sausage, throw it in the sauce, let is simmer and come together. Boil the fusilli until you just still slightly taste the raw wheat. Strain and let sit - the heat will finish the cooking and make it perfect. Mix it with the sauce, est voila!


This time, we tried a pale ale called St. Ambroise McAuslan. Light in colour, almost burgundy. Good foamy head that stays until the very end. Much sweeter than I expected. I don't know the proper term, but I'd call it 'fruity'. I know, I hate it when people describe some wines as fruity, but I just don't know what else to call it in reference to beer. Citrus, orange zest on the nose. Silky, round and creamy in the mouth. Beautiful finish, smoothed out by the pasta. The sweetness of both go beautifully together. Great beer.

Headache

Spent all of this morning and parts of the afternoon working on this job application. I got so frustrated I took a swing at my monitor. Why say that you have a 1000-word limit on application questions when you only accept 200 words? WTF.

Checked my OSAP loans. Not looking good. There's no such thing as a grace period. You get charged interest anyways, that's what I just discovered. Lying bastard thieves.

I've been having a very aggravating couple of days. Things looked so rosy this time last year. Entering my last year of university, rooming with my buddies, money in the pocket and good wines in the cupboard. Don't think I'll be going down to Niagara this year.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Going back

My mother wants me to go to Church with her again. Again, because I havn't gone in years. I suppose, in Junior High and early High School, I was religious enough. And then I got an education.

Whoa, I'm kidding. I apologize, that's a rude thing to say. I'm just saying that religion is not for me. I just don't buy in to the fact that I have to believe in Jesus to be a good person. It takes a lot, to say that you honestly believe in a God that created everything and that God came to Earth and all that......I don't oppose anyone who has the faith, I just don't believe in it myself. Too self-righteous and judgemental at times.

That's why I don't want to go back. I like the people there, my parents do stuff within the Church.......I just don't belong there. So that's my reason.

Which is ironic, because Old World winemakers always talk about this bond between man and earth. As if there IS some kind of higher power regulating everything. But I have to say - tasting good wine is a heavenly experience.

I'm not a believer of fate. We make our own fortunes in this world through our own choices. How about that for a philosophy.

Aging

Last week, as I wrote about, my father got a new phone. It was a decent Samsung sliding phone, 3G, video calling, all that stuff. He used to have the same model phone as me - a Samsung D807 sliding phone. I really like my phone. Had it for 2 years, still thought it looked fine. It takes any sort of punishment...I've dropped it countless times every which way, and nothing's happened.

It wasn't until we got the new phone that my Samsung looks.........aged. A bit clunky even. The new one is sleek, light....even shiny. Now, I'm not the kind of person that has to keep up with the latest trends. I don't change my phone whenever a new model comes out, I don't care too much about that kind of stuff. I don't care about specs - it just has to have clear reception, make phone calls, and look decent. That's it. I think all the hype about the iPhone is ridiculous.

My SGH-D807:


Anyways. Things, especially electronics age quickly don't they? I don't plan on replacing my phone for at least another year, but I don't deny that it's outdated. Wine, on the other hand, is all about patience. Which is kind of what worries me.

My father never stored any wine, to age. That's why I've had to start from scratch. Literally, from nothing, I've managed to put together a cellar. Small, but it's a start. I didn't have any guidance, so it's kind of haphazard, but I do believe I have a few bottles that will amaze in a few years.

I have a few older bottles...well, relatively older bottles. A few 198's and 199's, mostly in Rioja and Champagne. But in terms of Bordeaux, I really started with 203's and 204's. Might take a while longer to come around. Roughly, I'm estimating that they'll be ready to drink in 2010-2015? Maybe later, but I don't think I'll be patient enough. Definitely, I'll start with the 203's first. Don't suspect they'll keep improving.

Ok - so the analogy of electronics and wine doesn't work. I'm just pulling this stuff out of my ass, but I'm bored, I want to write something, and thanks for reading up to here. And this f*cking kid is still roaring around on his bike!! Where's my bat.......................

Rough

You know what? I'm kind of tired hearing myself bitch all the time about how 2008 has sucked. It's like some higher power just wants me to be miserable this year. Going from alcoholic inducing awful to shoot myself in the head awful.

I've been reading a lot. Neal Rosenthal's memoirs, the book on those fake Jeffersonian bottles of Lafitte, and a book on Champagne. They're all fantastic books, but they just remind me how little wine I've been drinking recently. In 2 months, I've drank 3 bottles. That's ridiculous.

There's this damn kid in my neighbourhood who rides around on one of those motorized scooters. Only today, it's not a scooter. It's one of those mini-bikes. So unbelievably noisy and loud. I want to take a baseball bat to his head, and then go after his idiot of a father who got him the damn thing in the first place. Wow, I'm in a foul mood.

Had some Suntory whiskey the other night. The Japanese make a fantastic whiskey. Non-offensive at the least, which I suppose is their goal. I want to write a bit more about it later.

It's almost October, so I guess it means that it's time to shave my head again. What do you think? I shaved it last year, just before a friend's birthday. I'm told that it'll give the wrong impression, that it doesn't look 'professional'. Honestly, I don't give a f*ck, but a haircut costs money, and that's what's stopping me at the moment.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rieslings to lovingly put away

New LCBO release today! Of course, these releases happen every 2 weeks, but I'm always so excited. Especially excited today because some of the 2007 Niagara whites are coming out.

2007 is a great vintage for Niagara. One of the best in its short history, in fact. If you remember last summer, we had a beautiful spring, good sunshine in the summer, little rain. Complete opposite of this year. There will be wines of power, concentration, flavour and great ripeness.

I picked up 2 wines today. As I've written about before, my favourite Niagara riesling is Thirty Bench. We visited the winery, had a great time talking with the staff, and I came away very impressed with the vision and style of the winemaker. She's unafraid to take risks, unafraid of sharp acidic wines - just the type of winemaker that the region needs to become great. Why is it that the best Niagara wines are always made by women? In any case, they are doing a fantastic job.


I bought a few bottles of Thirty Bench's estate riesling, 2007, to put away. Also, you remember from my trip that we also visited Featherstone Winery. We had the pleasure of speaking with the owner. From my tasting notes, I wrote that Featherstone's wines had grace, complexity, but some of their reds lacked bouquet. Nevertheless, I was fascinated with some of the viticulture methods they use. We were told by other wineries that Featherstone uses falcons to chase away grape-eating birds, and sheep to eat vegetation and fertilize the vines. Really interesting stuff. I also bought bottles of their 2007 'Black Sheep' riesling.

What I love about these wines is the crispness and focus brought by their acidity. You need good acidity for clarity, as well as aging capability. I'll leave these wines until at least next summer. They're complex wines, have great varietal characteristics, and I believe also have a great sense of place. There's no mistaking that these are cold-climate wines. As long as we have these quality wines being created in Niagara, this region will soon come into its own. Wines of finesse and grace, that are also quite capable of slapping you in the face.

Oz and James


I've been watching this BBC show called Oz and James's Big Wine Adventure. It's very entertaining, but not a serious wine program. Let me explain why. The premise is.....a wine writer takes a wine novice out on a month-long trip through France to learn wine. Oz is the wine writer, and James is the Top Gear guy who knows nothing about it. They travel through all the major wine regions of France, and James is supposed to have this epiphany about wine in the end.

It's a great idea for a show and all, but at the end of the 5 episodes, I find that it's more for giggles than for anything else. James spends the entire time trying to take the piss out of Oz, while Oz blathers on about really technical wine details that only fellow connoisseurs really care about.

James' attitude towards wine and wine lovers is the prevelant attitude among most wine drinkers. That wine connoisseurs are snobby fools, who waste their time on useless details about wine, instead of actually drinking it. And by drinking wine, James refers to chugging it like there's no tomorrow. He wants you to believe that wine is a simple drink, not worthy of any sort of intellectual effort. He's the type who likes mass-produced, cookie cutter wines, scored on a 100 point scale - and that anyone who thinks otherwise is an effeminate ponce.

In any case, respect to Oz. Spending a month with someone like James would have driven me crazy. People who thrive on ridiculing you and your hobby just aren't worth the effort.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 Years

Just realized that its September 11 today. Can't believe its been 7 years already. Listen, to be honest, I have no real connection to it. I don't know anyone who was affected, who was there...but I remember that day vividly. And I have to say, its had a lasting impact on me.

It was the start of a new school year. I had just entered high school - Grade 10 at A.Y. Jackson S.S. We were in French class, I believe either the first or second period of the day. It was probably the first. A teacher runs in, face all red, saying "They blew up the Pentagon." What? I thought it was a bombing, or something like that. The teachers in the staff room were all watching TV, and by lunch, we learned that there were hijackings, and it was a lot more than an attack on the Pentagon.

I remember coming home after school, turning on the news, and just sitting there for 3 hours just dumbfounded. I saw footage of the buildings coming down, and there were just chills running down me. It was spooky and scary and just........chilling to watch. One of the those world-changing moments that you never forget.

I went to New York last year with some buddies. We didn't go to Ground Zero - we were told that it was sectioned off with walls, and there was nothing to see. I hope they complete the new buildings quickly - I'm not a fan of Liebeskind, and certainly not a fan of his monstrosity, the ROM, but I hope the new WTC goes up soon.

Les Taillepieds

I talked a bit about Hubert de Montille, a very interesting figure in Burgundy. Got me interested, and I searched LCBO for his wines. I was most intrigued with his Premier Cru wine he makes in Volnay, from a site called Les Taillepieds.


Burgundy is the ultimate expression of terroir. A few feet of difference can mean a monumental change in taste and character of the wines, and with that, an enormous difference in price. Monsieur de Montille owns a Premier Cru vineyard called Les Taillepieds, which is featured in Mondovino. LCBO has a single vintage - 2001 - which it sells for $104.15. Not cheap, but that is the price of greatness.

Burgundy is definitely one of the areas that I'd like to begin exploring. Intimidatingly complex, but in my opinion, no other wine experience is more rewarding than Burgundundian wines. The purity, the savoury quality of the wines, the depth of the wines..........there really is no equal.

I'm not familiar with Italian wines. With Barolo, Barbresco, Barbera, Brunello.......hey.......never noticed they were all B's. I, however, do love sangiovese dearly, so Brunello is definitely where I'll start. My confidence in Chianti is shaken, and I find SuperTuscans incredibly vulgar.

Some things to look forward to...such as the LCBO release beginning tomorrow. Actually, they start arriving today in the afternoon, but it doesn't fully arrive until Friday. Will pick up some things, probably for next summer's drinking though.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mondovino

Ooo, it's cold isn't it? Beautiful outside, clear skies, but that chilliness in the air. Lovely weather though.

Talking about Mondovino, it really raises some interesting issues. Most importantly, how the globalization of the wine market and wine production is robbing wine of......its essence, its uniquess, almost its soul. I agree with that completely. Let me tell you why.

I recently tasted Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006. Lots of prejudice against Yellow Tail, but the wine was decent. Lots of flavour - big fruit, smoky oak, mocha....but it gets you thinking. How can such a young wine possibly have these secondary layers of flavour, beyond its fruit? Impossible, without human manipulation.

And that's what pisses me off. People don't drink aged, mature wines anymore. No one learns about wine the proper way, in the way where drinking left bank claret before its 10th birthday was sacrilege. Everyone's impatient, so what do you expect winemakers to do but to mimic the effects of aging in a product designed to be drunk NOW.

It's cheating, it's a theft, it's.......not wine. Everyone's looking for a perfect wine, with lots of fruit, rich texture, oaky flavours. But no one understands that there is no such thing as a perfect wine. I'd very much have a unique wine, with a sense of place, instead of a 'flawless' wine. Is that too much to ask? Give me a lean, vegetal Chinon anyday over that overoaked nonsense masquarading as wine.

Tongue lashing

Shoot....just rinsed with Listerine and my tongue is burning. We don't believe in the flavoured Listerine - that stuff is just nasty. But the original burns like no tomorrow. Completely obliterates the palate.


Watched Mondovino again today. If you've never heard of it, download it, or get the dvd. You won't be disappointed. It looks at the players, the politics, the hypocrisy of wine, and really demonstrates that a lot of important people in the wine business are full of it. And it makes the Americans look like absolute donkeys, which is always enjoyable to watch.

The gentleman on the cover is Monsieur Hubert de Montille. A grand old man. Would love to meet him; better yet, would love to taste his domaine's wine. Want to talk a bit more about the movie. But that's for tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cold settling in

It definitely feels like autumn! Freezing at night, windy and wet during the day. Maybe because of the hurricane, but at any rate, the cold of winter is approaching.

One good thing though is......weather is settling down and so is the temperature at home. Positive implications for wine storage. It was a relatively cool summer, but I'd prefer the wines to be at a lower temp. So, anything around 15 degrees is sort of the sweet spot. The majority of my wine is in a family friend's cellar, and I'm thinking I'll pay them a visit around October, to pick out some wines to drink this winter.

I wish....

What would I like to be drinking right now?

Grand cru blanc de noirs Champagne. Any small, artisanal producer.
1986 Ch. La Lagune
2005 Ch. La Lagune
1999 Ch. Musar
Any vintage of Ch. Pradeaux
1955 Dom. Tempier

Those aren't random vintages. Just to clear that up.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Smithwicks


Whoa, so much hate. What, with the near-fight yesterday and the deal with the garbage bins today. Let's go back to what these pieces are supposed to be about...wine and drink and food and happiness.

Drank a few ales. I want to learn more about beer in general, because there has to be more than Coors and Corona and all that generic nonsense. Everyone drinks beer but the vast majority - and I mean the VAST majority have no clue what they're drinking. Why do people drink beer so cold? Because they don't like the taste of it. Cold strips the taste, so icy cold is perfect for people who drink beer just for the sake of drinking beer.

Let's talk about Smithwicks ale. It's from Ireland, I don't know much about ales, so let's drink a couple and see. Beautiful dark colour, but still luminous. Correct me should I be wrong, but the quality of a beer is determined by its foamy head, no? The foam should leave a residue down the glass, instead of just disappearing. And always be careful of extra large bubbles. It's like Champagne - you want fine bubbles for a finer texture.

The hops of this beer give it such nice complexity, and a velvet texture in the mouth. Drinking it only slightly chilled brings out a lot of the yeasty flavours, and a certain nuttiness. And it goes wonderfully with food. We had pan-seared short ribs. The soy sauce/oyster sauce marinate made it sweet, and it just brought out the sweetness of the beer, while removing any trace of bitterness on the finish. Completely smoothes out the texture. Beautiful.

So try different things. Beer goes wonderfully with food. Will search for more ales. I wonder if LCBO sells that magnificent Boddington's Pale Ale I had a while ago. Definitely one of my favourite beers.

Fools at City Hall


You know what I don't understand? How Canadians can sit around bashing the Chinese bureaucracy, while they themselves are so ridiculously inept. Let me explain.

There's a new garbage collection policy for Toronto. The city's rolling out these new garbage bins, that we have to pay for, in a bid to reduce garbage. Noble and all, but it's the implementation of the policy that shows how 3rd-rate this city's administrators are.

We had a problem in our condo. I live in a townhouse, and the bins are too large to fit in our garbage room. My car is in the garage, so the bins won't fit there either. So, our brilliant condo "president", Sam, calls a meeting with the local councillor to try to convince him to exclude us from the program. Now, let's be clear. Sam's an absolute prick. Give him any title, and he walks around like it actually means something. So predictably, he makes a huge deal out of the meeting. The councillor shows up, and more or less tells Sam to go f*ck himself. The policy is city-wide and there are no exceptions.

So, we don't have a choice but to order the new bins. We received a small one 2 weeks ago, only to get a letter saying that it was a mistaken delivery. So, the city came to pick up the new bins last week. And now today, we get another letter from the city asking why we havn't sent in our order forms yet. But you took the bins back!! So what happens now?

This city is f*cked, let's be clear about that. You have absolute dipshits running these policies, with no clue how. I'd like to know who thought up this brilliant plan, and turn his ass inside out. It's ridiculous, considering that it's just a matter of garbage disposal. We've received countless letters, we're faced with an annual fee to take out the garbage...why not call it as it is: another tax. Toronto councillors, cut the shit, and put this policy in place already! And everyone thought Toronto DESERVED to apply for the Olympics? F*ck me, the city isn't even ready to hand out new garbage bins.

Rumble at Rogers

Had to go to Rogers today, the one on Finch/Leslie to pick up a new phone. Apparently, my father was biking, flipped over the handlebars, sat on his phone and............cracked the screen. Of course, I'm the one that has to wipe up after him.

It was supposed to be a simple pick-up. Switch SIM cards, sign the new contract, thats it. Until the couple behind us started arguing with the staff there. A simple disagreement about something turned into a shouting match, which got the guy helping us involved. His name was Danny. Danny looks over, and basically tells the couple to shut the f*ck up because they have no clue what they're talking about. Of course, that pisses them off even more, and the little man starts gesticulating wildy. Danny gets upset because the little man is pointing at him, and walks over, right in front of him to put him in his place.

At this point, I look over at my mother, and she has this really worried look on her face. I know she wanted to get up and tell Danny to take it easy and let it go. I think she thought he was going to punch the little man out. Me? I was giggling and smiling. Really wanted to see them rumble. But, Danny remained professional, and the little man gave up. Oh, and it was totally the little man's fault. His wife really didn't help, screaming rabidly that "The customer is always king!" To which Danny replies, "Yes, but sometimes the customer doesn't know anything." Touché my friend.

Damn, I really wanted to see a rumble. Danny wasn't a big guy, but he would have gangbanged the little man. Damn, I wanted to see a rumble!!!!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Back uptown

Whoa..still trying to recover from last night. Drinking lots of green tea, and wearing ear plugs. This next week should be interesting. Hopefully, things will begin looking UP.

Clearly, I need to get out the house more. Clearly, summer is also over.

Need a haircut this week. Drinking some interesting ales, which I should write about. Good stuff.

Trying to download the 2008 Beijing Paralympics Opening Ceremonies. CBC, as usual, did an awful job. And not just awful - they completely skipped huge portions of it, to interview random athletes, and to give the douchbag of an anchor more air time. What feces.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pavarotti

Whenever I listen to Luciano Pavarotti, I'm always astounded at his genius. Truly, the maestro left too soon. I don't think we'll ever be so lucky as to witness another tenor like him - just listen. Simply, magnificent.

New things

Dropped by the LCBO today, for my regular biweekly pick up of the Releases Catalogue. Flipped through it, and was very intrigued. Spotlight on Ontario wines, which as you know, is close to my heart. Really interested in organizing a wine trip to Lake Erie and Prince Edward County soon, two places that I've never visited and tasted.

Also, there's a lot of Alsace and Mosel wines on release. If it wasn't for......current financial situations, there'd be no doubt that I'd begin stocking up for next summer's wine drinking list. Also, some interesting sherries, madeiras and ports.

You know, for someone who seems to always be either drinking or talking about wine, there's a shocking amount of things that I've never tried yet. So, here's to going for new experiences and always keeping an open mind.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September is here

Wow, It's already September. Which means summer is over. Quick summer - but then again, it's the first real summer I've had in 4 years.

Can't wait to get this year over with. 2008's been a miserable year for me, for a variety of reasons. This Saturday I believe, is the Paralympics. Excited to see the Opening Ceremonies for that, I'm sure the Director has a few more tricks to show us.

Oh, and today? Went golfing for the first time this year with some buddies. Remembered again why it's so frustrating. And we're all out of beer in the house. My goodness - no beer, no wine...........just a case of Pellegrino and a lot of empties.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

CH. Belle-Vue

Finally, I opened my first bottle of Bordeaux in what seems like months last Saturday. My cousin came over, we had some fresh salad, lamb, grilled fish, chicken......a fairly large meal, and what better than a red wine from one of my favourite vintages for Bordeaux.

The 2004 vintage is underrated, if there ever is such a thing for Bordeaux. Not a lot of attention, because the wines are classic and elegant, instead of blockbuster. Which is great, because this is exactly the kind of wine I love. Delicate and intellectual - it's not an easy wine to drink and understand, but that's ok. And of course, it means that prices are more reasonable. Relatively speaking, that is.

We drank a 2004 Ch. Belle-Vue, AC Haut Medoc. It's a property located next to Ch. Giscours, so it shares the same soil, same location, but not the brand name and corresponding price. I have a few bottle of this stored away, but LCBO had a sale on it - it went down to $26.25, down from $31.70. Quite a significant drop, which is terribly upsetting, since it means I overpaid by quite a bit when these were just released.

I opened it the previous night. Lean and unforgiving, but incredible saturation of colour and the fruit was so fresh. It needed a lot of decanting and aerating - a few hours later, it begins to put on weight. Develops a creaminess, vanilla, but remains balanced. Good acidity, lots of classic Bordeaux flavours - red fruits, graphite, some smokiness. Long finish. My cousin didn't really like it. Callow palates, stay the hell away!
Fantastic wine, I can't wait until 2015, which is when I'll begin drinking this wine again.

Japanese Green Tea


I bought some green tea back from Tokyo. Japanese tea is very different from Chinese tea. I love Chinese green tea, from the Southeastern provinces. Lots of flavour, focus and density to the teas. Japanese green tea, on the other hand, is much lighter. Has more of a dusty texture to it, and a brininess you don't find in Chinese teas. I suppose being surrounded by salt water has something to do with that.

You brew the teas differently as well. Chinese teas need clay teapots, simple as that. Don't bother brewing it in anything else. Clay imparts that delicate flavour, and smooths out any astingencies from the stalks, while also retaining heat and keeping out oxygen. With Japanese tea, you use filters and do a double pour - pour hot water through the tea, then pour the tea a second time through the filter into your teacup. It intensifies the flavours, as well as make the tea really green. Delicious - nutty and briny, with a stiff structure, what I suppose to be the 'tannins' of the tea.

Seeing all those bottles of sweetened tea drinks in supermarkets is what really upsets me. That is not tea! It's simply powdered mixture, with a lot of sugar and colouring. Artificial in every sense of the word. Don't tell me you know what tea is, when all you drink is that bottled shit. Buy some loose tea leaves, and start drinking the real stuff.