Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I occupy many roles at home, and among them is plumbing. I am the plumber of the house. I say it with pride because I pride myself in being able to fix and take care of anything.
Our shower faucet is f*cked. The inner tap is pretty old, and the cold water faucet was causing some water to leak. My mother brilliantly suggested that we take a look at it at 10:30pm, minutes after I returned from the gym. It looked fine. But, when I installed it again...........a drip-drip-drip turned into gush-gush-gush. And then, my father even more brilliantly suggested that I wrap the f*cking thing with so much plumbing tape that I didn't know if I was sealing it or mummifying the damn thing.
Guess what happened.
On my third turn, the whole thing snapped. The whole, entire, f*cking thing snapped at the neck. It's a geyser now.
So now what.
Our main water is all turned off, and since Home Depot is closed tomorrow, we'll have to wait until Thursday to buy a new tap. Until then, we're collecting water in buckets, keeping the main off for until absolutely necessary.
See, this is what happens when the plumber of the house is overruled on major decisions. Like what to do, when to do, and how to do.
Watched Transformers today. I enjoyed it, in all its cheesy glory. Don't think, just watch, and you'll have a great time. Bumblebee rocked it. You'll find the climactic duel kind of anti-climactic. Really? Optimus just absorbing spare parts, reminiscent of a magnet picking up paper clips?
The movie critics that bashed it can go eat shit. That's why these fools stopped being relevant 10 years ago. A dream of mine is to see wine critics experience the same fate into obscurity.
I went to work out tonight. Hard at work. There's a Megan Fox type trainer at my gym. Have to keep reminding myself not to stare. We gentlemen are nearly quite perfect, but we have no control of our gaze.
There were a lot of late junior high/early high school kids at the theatre today. Were we so damn obnoxious at that age? I mean, I can't believe I used to try so hard to impress these kinds of girls. My goodness. All you see is a cluster of small heads, drowning in over-sized sweatshirts.
I still know a few guys who're interested in these types of girls. You should be ashamed of yourself man.
Monday, June 29, 2009
To finish this series on the topic of equipment, I go into stemware. As always, all comments are welcome and appreciated.
My Flickr Pro Account expires today. This is ridiculous. I was afforded a free Pro Account with my Rogers, but I guess they're reneging on the deal. So what does this mean? I don't know, I just want to keep my damn Pro Account!
Tired today. Extra early to bed tonight. Tomorrow will be a fun day.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
2007 13th Street Funk Vineyard Riesling, VQA Creek Shores
The thing that Niagara rieslings do so well is satisfy those urges for cheerful, charming wines. The 2007 rieslings are incredibly rich, with great ripeness and this intense, oil minerality. This bottle was from my trip to Niagara in March, the first time I visited and tasted the wines of 13th Street.
Light straw yellow in colour. Bouncy, ripe nose of stewed pears, apple. Very overt minerality, reminiscent of oily lanolin cream. Bright, bright fruit. Tangy and tingly acidity on the palate. Higher alcohol, which is noticeable. Noble that they wanted to control the sweetness, but the alcohol is a bit shocking. Tart finish. Lingering.
A fine, cheerful riesling, with ripe fruit, decent balance, and impressive minerality. Alcohol a bit too high, at a listed 12.3%, but the wine's ripeness is able to support it.
Although at $24, better buys are available.
Ian McShane as King Silas in Kings.
This man is absolutely brilliant as the weary King, troubled by signs that he struggle to interpret. McShane's able to bring this complex character to life - lots of grandiose speeches, but he makes all the flowery prose seem powerful and credible. His presence is undeniable, and just controls each scene.
His weathered, lined face is perfect for the role. His purposeful stride is that of royalty. Without speaking a word, he conveys absolute power. The modern, slimming silhouette of his single-button suits don't hurt either.
What a perfect role for McShane. How have I never heard of this incredible actor? It kills me that NBC is canceling this show. The networks have no courage.
I'm really interested in knowing people's drinking habits. How often do you drink wine? How many bottles a week? A month? Who purchases the wine? How do you choose bottles? Average price? Who do you drink with?
People in the wine trade make this huge deal about the Chinese and Russian markets gobbling up the most expensive Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, and fueling speculation in traditionally UK and US markets. They spread this notion that the Chinese will pay a 25% premium on any price, and really don't care how expensive it is - that they will buy any Lafite, regardless of price, provenance or palatableness.
Now, I can't speak for the Russians (Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, and Marxists alike), Brazilians, Singaporeans, Indians, or any other developing country. I can only speak for my Chinese comrades, for whom I've been observing (wine-drinking wise) for quite some time.
Chinese people don't drink wine. Let's clear that up now. Chinese people don't drink wine. I can honestly say that under 1% of Chinese drink any wine regularly, and a far less number are actual connoisseurs. And no, just because you can afford to splash $2000 on a bottle of La Tâche, does not grant you into this exclusive club of true wine lovers.
Our cuisine just does not pair well with the wines that the wine press insists that we're shocking. Tannic, structured red wines (Bordeaux) just do not pair well with Chinese cuisine. Burgundy is a better match, but the Chinese are still feeling their way around Bordeaux (outside of Lafite). Burgundy is far too confusing, even for well-lubricated wine drinkers.
The only wine that pairs wonderfully is German riesling. Other white wines as well, but it's the riesling's touch of residual sugar and steely acidity that marries it so well to rich, complex Chinese cuisine. But then, my comrades still view white wine as the drink for dainty ladies.
It's a cultural issue. Chinese people drink beer, Shaoxing wine, and other spirits with their food. At the moment, red wine is used as a way to show wealth, trendiness, etc. Anything but taste.
So to the wine press: stop spreading this nonsense about Chinese people taking over fine wine markets. It's not going to happen if my comrades aren't drinking any wine.
It's been an interesting few months, yes? For me at least. Interesting contrast. My wine experiences have been fantastic. Social life? Not so fabulous. But I can't complain.
I think I'm done with California. I don't have the wallet, or the solid liver to deal with their over-priced, 16% alcohol nukes. New Zealand, I'll keep trying.
There's several flights of riesling I want to begin tasting, once my friends get back. Lots of old white wines that've been sitting in my closet for the last few months. We need to get drinking, mes amis.
Sunday morning, chilling in the kitchen with tea, eggs, and Hova. Going to be an abbreviated week coming up. Which is nice. But come on, what dick made Canada Day out on a Wednesday? Jackass dropping the ball somewhere on Parliament.
Summer has yet to begin, who knows what'll happen?
5 years ago, I could never do this. Going before a video camera, and then broadcasting it on youtube. I'm a nice guy, but always a shy one. I believe in what I say (honestly!) and I feel like I make valid points in the videos I do. Hopefully people feel the same way. At least this is a great documentation of my wine acumen, circa 2009.
Maybe I'll look back in 10 years and laugh at how stupid I was. Or maybe not. Hopefully, my on-camera brilliance translates now and on.
A slight wrinkle. After output, the 9 minute video came out as 1.26 GB. A bit of a problem, as Vimeo only allows for 500 Mb uploads. Back to editing tomorrow...
Only this time, I'm willingly staying up late to get some work done. Filmed some material today, and editing right now. I'm working with a new software, that supports HD, so still feeling my way through it. It feels rewarding though - video seems much more creative than just blogging.
Drank a glorious bottle of wine tonight. More details later. My teeth, gums, and tongue are stained inky purple. In fact, my mouth is so black I look like a Southeast Asian extra from Pirates of the Caribbean.
Not that great of an impression if you're taking a girl out, and order a nice bottle of red wine, only to discover that two glasses later, you look like you've been eating dirt. Stick with white wine, fellas. Or better yet, Champagne. If you have to go with red wine, go with Burgundy, or something like a sangiovese from southern Italy. Lighter-bodied wines that hopefully, won't turn your mouth into a horrifically unattractive mess of tannin-caked streaks.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
I want wines that hold your hand and whisper sweetly into your ear, not wines that scream and shout for attention. Wines with high alcohol reflect this very North American idea that more of everything is better. That is not true! This idea is about competition - that wines should shine above everything else on the table. It has to be the focus, the centre of attention. And that is why I can't bring myself to drink these wines.
Tolerance for alcohol has nothing to do with it. People who judge connoisseurship by the amount of alcohol they can consume are the same people who think of McDonalds as a restaurant.
Wine is meant for drinking, and shouldn't be over-analyzed...it's a sensual experience above all. And the sensuality of the wine comes from the flavours and expressions of the terroir. Over-ripeness (and the resulting high alcohol) robs the wine of this expression. And that is a shame.
A wine that makes you fall asleep is no good. What happened to the wines that lift your spirits, enrich conversations, and make you think inappropriate thoughts? I guess I'm an Old World drinker after all.
In an effort to become more environmentally conscious, I'm switching all the lightbulbs in the house today. We're switching to these - 60W bulbs that only use the energy of a 13W.
Unfortunately, they don't work with dimmer switches, so I have to change those too. Rewiring is tricky, and I'm in fear of killing myself everytime I take apart those wires. I'm very talented in many things, but electrical work is a bit intimidating. But, if I don't do it, who will. And that's the way it is.
After changing all four bulbs in the bathroom, I was met with a searing brightness from 240W of environmental fury. A bit much.
I'll try not to electrocute myself.
Feeling restless. But blogging's hardly the solution. Feeling a bit lonely. But late night wine always make me feel so.
Oh, to be not bothered in the morning, what a blessing!
Friday, June 26, 2009
Wine is food. Food is wine. The two are inseparable, and if you look at them as separate, competing elements of a meal, then you are sadly, sadly misguided, mistaken, and flat out moronic. If a wine does not pair well with food, it has no place on the table. End of discussion. And high-alcohol wines do not marry well with any cuisine. They relate particularly well with the fast food crowd, who need flabby monstrosities to match their greasy, processed foods, but for civilized lovers of delicacy, they serve no purpose than those times when you want to get your Italian girlfriend drunk, fast.
The more I drink German riesling, the more I value balanced, restrained wines, where alcohol plays a key, supporting role. Alcohol is important in a wine, no doubt, but it should never reveal itself. Like the music producer who stays in the shadows while the artist collects her Grammy, alcohol should never be a dominant factor in a wine. Never. The minute the fiery smell of alcohol is present in a wine's bouquet, it loses it's expression. Like an overbearing stage parent, the wine has little chance to present it's true interpretation of the terroir and vintage, if alcohol is too dominant of a force.
Americans (and Australians) are to blame for this, but really, they're to blame for the vast majority of the world's problems, so should we be surprised? Wines that are overbearingly sweet, with non-existent tannins and port-like alcohols are morbidly obese, much like the demographic they serve. Is it really a wonder that 65% of Americans are obese or overweight? Wine reflects the people, and Americans deserve their hideous wines.
Just don't force them on others, and try to convince people who have true taste that this is what wine should taste like.
As it's been said, if you can finish an entire bottle, then it could not have been bad. I can easily finish a bottle of fine, subtle, minerally Mosel riesling. Can I say the same about a 15% bomb?
Good buzz from the wine we drank tonight. A duo of whites - one cheerful, one serious. Both, absolutely delicious.
I dropped by LCBO last night, to pick up a VintagesOnline order, and a catalogue. You know what I hate? When you step up to the service counter to pick up an order, but they won't allow you to pay for any bottles. I had two bottles of 2008 Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir, and a Havana Club anejo blanco, but she wouldn't let me pay for it at her counter. Even though I was waiting there for my Vintages order, and she had nothing to do. I don't want to call her a lazy fat f*ck, but she was a lazy fat f*ck. Come on. Public confidence in the LCBO is at an all time low, and you don't take care of your best customers? I'm there every single week, either picking up bottles or Vintages orders, and you want me to carry all my shit over to a separate counter to pay for my wine? Come on, let's be reasonable.
In any case, my wine was in good condition, and I look forward to opening it in the next few months. I was very surprised to see the Flat Rock pinot. When I was at the winery 2 weeks ago, the little girl clearly told me that the 2008's were still in barrel, and had yet to be bottled. Yet I see them in bottle, on sale, this week. Little girl needs a bit of a re-education. Ed, your staff are kind of clueless.
Weather just feeling tropical, no? I can't complain. Not after the winter we had. But if I start seeing maggots in our garbage........grrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
My goodness. The greatest entertainer of all time. I'm going to listen to 'Black or White' tonight, and remember him.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
2006 Carrick Pinot Noir, Central Otago NZ
Central Otago has become one of the most hyped regions in the New World for pinot noir. New Zealand on the whole has attracted so much attention, and rightly so. They understand what works, and know how to make styles that bridge between Californian bombs and Burgundian jewels. The industry there is so new, and is centered around sauvignon blanc and pinot noir - and I'm a huge fan.
You can't, however, make a judgement on a region from a single bottle, and I certainly won't make that mistake here. I believe in New Zealand, and want to explore more - this bottle simply did not meet expectations.
Good light colour, very red - just what pinot noir should be. Subtle, more subdued nose of red fruits, berries, bramble and earth - classic pinot perfume. Very bright. Fruit forward, but a much more Burgundian nose than the Palliser. My drinking companion guessed it as French, from nosing it. Quite an astute observation - this is a very subtle wine. The alcohol is quite noticeable though.
On the palate, some sweetness, silky texture, and an explosion of red fruits on the finish. Fireworks in the mouth, but which unfortunately instantly die off. Very little length on this wine. Maybe its at an awkward stage, but this wine has no strength on the finish. Just a pop of fruit, and then nothing. Very bitter alcohol.
The alcohol disturbs me very much, much like the aforementioned Palliser. Maybe it's the vintage, but the alcohol is out of control. Masks a lot of nuance, unfortunately. I don't understand these high-alcohol wines - they just don't belong on the table, as they just don't pair with any food. A hunking piece of seared, smoked and charred meat perhaps, but anything more delicate is swallowed by the alcohol.
A bit unfortunate. This is a $40 bottle, and for that price, I expect better balance and a stronger finish. Too bad. Lots of fireworks, little substance.
So it looks like disaster has been avoided. Too bad for the idiots who rushed the stores to buy up all the cheap garbage, as if preparing for an armageddon.
But then I kind of wanted to fight my way through the pickets.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The latest. It looks like unionized LCBO workers are going on strike at midnight tonight. Hopefully, BV will stay open, but you never know.
This situation is just getting ridiculous. I have absolutely no sympathy for these people. I would if they provided excellent, knowledgable service, but everytime I walk into LCBO with a question, I'm left sorely disappointed. I can't even remember how many times I've asked for a bottle, only to be told that it's still not on shelf. But you can't open the box and pull out 2 bottles for me? No, these people can't be bothered to help out. Go f*ck yourselves. This shit would not inherit in a decent society. Fire every single f*cking unsatisfied motherf*cker and hire people that actually want to work with wine. These disinterested workers who know nothing about wine, and less about service, don't deserve it.
Garbage is going to be a problem soon. Dammit man, how did it come to this? Toronto is not supposed to be like this, where anyone can shut down the city so long as they have the numbers. Garbage pickers don't want to pick garbage and want to earn a white-collar wage? Get a f*cking education and find a better job. Jobs are not a right - no one deserves to be guaranteed anything. Earn a living like everyone else. You greedy motherf*ckers. Absolute swine.
I'll be straight up. If we start seeing maggots in our garbage, I'm dumping everything on Leslie. Straight up dumping my shit on the road. Come try and ticket me.
Monday, June 22, 2009
I may have had one too many Coronas, Make that 5 too many. The short ribs were delicious. It's nice when a friend's doing all the cooking, and all I have to do is drink and feast.
This is getting ridiculous. If LCBO goes, that will be a disaster. I still have yet to get rum!
If this shit was going down anywhere else, they'd have the mayor strung up from his ass. Come on Miller, get your shit together and get in control of your city! First the tamils and now this shit? Absolutely ridiculous. Skewer his ass and display it in front of City Hall, maybe that'll send a message.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Sociologists show that you switch friends every 7 years. That's why the size of your group stays unchanged - friends come and go, and the cycle is fairly constant. Most replace half of their friends every 7 years.
I think this friendship has run its course.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
1987 Schloss Reinhartshausen Hattenheimer Wisselbrunnen, QmP Rheingau Riesling Kabinett
I love riesling, but what tickles me the most is when I can find old rieslings. And this certainly qualifies as an old white wine.
Last Saturday, after drinking the Kacaba riesling, I wanted to find something less....exuberant. I last drank a bottle of the 1987 a few months ago, and noted its honeyed fruit, good weight, and high acidity. This bottle showed similarly, and I'm glad I opened it.
Deep golden colour. It almost looks heavy. Big nose of oily, stewed fruits - almost baked apples and pears. Great weight on the palate, but clearly, this wine is drying out. Long, lingering finish.
An interesting wine, but I think it should have been drunk 5 years ago. Kabinett's start off with less sugar and less ripeness, so with a lot of age, the acidity really begins to overwhelm the wine. But nevertheless, a great wine to taste.
1986 Dow's Colheita Port, Oporto
So, it took a while, but I finally finished this wine. It's been almost neglected in the fridge, but colheita port is an extremely robust and sturdy wine.
Colheita port is one of the rarest ports produced. It's aged for a minimum of 7 years in casks, but in many cases, it stays in wood for decades. This example was bottled in 2008, giving it 22 years in oak.
The robe is amber brown, as things are after sitting in wood. However, the core is still holding onto a shimmer of red - certainly not youthful, but with plenty of life left. A nose of dried red fruits, toffee, caramelized sugars. The brandy is a bit intrusive.
On the palate, this is very silky, but good fruit left. The brandy does not feel well-integrated into the wine, and is a bit harsh. Long finish.
Compared with finer examples, this fine lacks complexity and finesse. A more simple style, but a good introduction to colheita ports. And of course, how could I refuse a wine from my birth year?
Friday, June 19, 2009
Shit storm brewing at home, but I'm trying to cope. Opened a bottle of Central Otago pinot noir, and the searing alcohol is helping with things. Vinously speaking, I could be doing better. A poor value wine.
Notes and photos up tomorrow. I hear it's going to rain all day, which will provide the perfect setting for sleeping in. Drip, drip, drip - just what I need.
Pretty good list. I think I`d like to go down to Ossington, and check them out. The Cuban lady would be my first stop.
My tie-in to Ossington? This area is dear to my heart - when my family first immigrated to Canada, we lived on Ossington. Poor neighbourhood, but it built my character. And as in all things, character is what matters.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Of course, as these things go, the moment I took my tripod back inside, the sun came out and landed square on the petals. So, what do you do but lug everything back out, before the clouds come and cover all in obscurity.
Received the bulk of my 2006 Bordeaux order - my Futures order from 2 years ago, of course. Pulled out a bottle of Pindefleurs, to drink now. I certainly wasn't going to leave an empty slot in the case, so I filled it with a bottle from this release - a 2005 Château Faizeau Vielles Vignes, AC Montagne St-Émilion. I adore Faizeau. Very old vines, 100% merlot, with a depth and complexity that many blends cannot achieve. Look around, and you'll be surprised - quality is not exclusive to big-money appellations.
Drove immediately to my friend's home, to cellar these wines. I can't thank them enough. Much gratitude, much appreciation.
Pulled out a few older wines to drink. Weekend coming up, and I already have my drinking list ready...
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I suppose the question of when to drink depends on what you would like to experience in a wine. Clarets have never been overtly fruit-forward, like their Californian counterparts. But young Bordeaux has that freshness and purity of fruit that's quite appealing, and it would be a shame to never experience it.
Mature wines speak to me, and that's the rule I'll try to adhere to. But, with the 2006 Bordeaux coming in, I think I'm grabbing a bottle or two to drink now. I hear Pindefleurs is delicious in its infancy.
So, dreaming of great food and wine marriages.
I bought a lot of tomatoes and I'm thinking of a simple spaghetti on marinara - lots of tomato, lots of basil, and of course, bathed in olive oil. Paired with two great bottles of Chianti Classico, and Vino Nobile de Montepulciano - both 100% sangiovese, with minimal oak. Lovely. Nothing pairs with tomato like sangiovese, with its earthy tones and fine, sandy tannins.
For some reason, I just want a good piece of bread. Thick slices, dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Simple, but incredibly satisfying. Paired with a young St-Émilion Grand Cru. I'm French like that.
Let's make it happen, you're welcome to join.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Maybe it wouldn't be responsible to pick up that exact habit, but who knows...many great men in history were cigar aficionados. Like my hero, Fidel Castro. Like the great Winston Churchill. And who could forget Bill Clinton, the most creative cigar smoker who's ever occupied the Oval Office.
In all seriousness, I want to pick up cigar smoking again. It has to be because of the summer weather. Nothing feels better than chilling on a patio, mojito in right hand, cigar in left.
Looking for lighter to mild tobacco, with a slow, steady burn. Cigar smoking is just as much about the experience as it is about taste, and how you do it is exceedingly important. You have to learn how to smoke - it can't just be about looking cool because then you over-inhale and end up nauseous like a newbie.
For some ridiculous reason, I thought it would be a good idea to buy a $50 Honduran cigar four years ago. I have no idea why. It had a great shape - sharp torpedo, and very dark. It's probably all dried up now, because I havn't checked the humidity in my humidor for ages. We'll see.
2006 Palliser Estate Pinot Noir, Martinborough NZ
New Zealand, far, far away in the Southern Hemisphere, but whose wines evoke such global recognition. Martinborough, the southern-most tip of North Island. Martinborough is not as well known as the South Island appellations, such as Marlborough or Central Otago, but it's certainly worth the experience to compare wines from both islands.
Light red in colour, which is what I want to see from a pinot noir. Intense, booming nose of strawberry, sour cherries, some fine green aromas, as well as a brambly, earthy root character so typical of good pinot noir. The alcohol burns the bouquet though - it's very noticeable, as I drank it only slightly chilled. On the palate, this shows as a very fruit-forward wine, showcasing lots of red fruits, aforementioned strawberry, beetroot, celery, and earthiness. Very bright fruit, good acidity. Decent complexity, on a very sweet texture and silky feel.
The finish is quite spectactular. Just an explosion of red berries right at the finish - bright fireworks, which quickly flame out. Finish drops off abruptly, with very little length. The alcohol disturbs me very much. It's a listed 14% alcohol, but I will stake my entire reputation and all the credibility I have that there is AT LEAST 14.5%. If I'm wrong, I should just stop drinking wine, period. Yes, I'm that confident - if there is really only 14% alcohol in this wine, I will eat the bottle.
A bit disappointed. A blockbuster, International style of wine. This idea that a wine has to be sweetly textured, silky, and high alcohol to be drinkable is just absurd! The overripeness completely obfuscates its ability to pair with food. Wine that makes you want to lie down after 2 glasses has no place on the table. Just another flabby bottle for the porkers who insist on "easy-drinking" wines. Grrrrrr.
Monday, June 15, 2009
When I was young, my favourite chips were Olde York Jalapeño Chips. No one does jalapeño like they do. Golden, crispy chips, fiery and peppery. So spicy that your tongue melted, but absolutely delicious. And then, they kind of disappeared. Just stopped seeing them, anywhere. And I've missed them ever since. Miss Vickie's is a poor substitute.
So, being the persistent bugger that I am, I found Olde York's contact information, and asked them about buying directly from them. I asked for a case, which seemed to me like a reasonable request. After a week, the Account Payable department got back to me. They don't sell directly to the public. Rats.
If anyone knows where I can buy Olde York Chips, please, please, let me know.
2008 Kacaba Vineyards Reserve Riesling, VQA Niagara Escarpment
So, mentioned this wine briefly, but it deserves some more commentary.
I've never tasted this wine before. I've heard of this producer, but have never had the opportunity to visit. In any case, the lovely brunette in the bistro recommended this, and though her expertise may have been suspect, I don't think rationally in these kinds of situations.
I jest. I never order a wine without thinking.
Light straw yellow. Bright nose of sweet fruit, creamy peach, and an oily sheen. Sweet on the palate, with lots of upfront fruit. Not much complexity. Tangy fruit, finishing on a tingly acidity. Good wine, but not an intellectual riesling by any means. A simple, fruity wine for those times you want to gulp.
But really, for $28 (in a restaurant), what more could you ask for?
I'm a fan of the game, regardless of who I'm watching - I just love great basketball. Of course, it'd be fantastic if the Raptors can get their act together, but I'm eternally positive with the home team. And patient. But I sincerely love this game, and when it's played the right way, there's nothing like it. Effort, patience, and persistence - just play your heart out, and people respond to that.
So, another 6 months of emptiness. What else can I watch now, might as well pack up the tv until November. Maybe something crazy will happen in tennis?
Another weekend over. There was fear that it was going to be exceedingly uneventful, as usual, but came through on Saturday. The trip to Niagara and Flat Rock was great.
Learned a lot about wine this Friday and Saturday. Learned a lot about my palate, and went up just a notch.
Havn't seen my friends in what seems like an age. Will work on that.
And will continue working on this blog. I think about how to develop it 24/7, and what new content I can add to keep it interesting and fresh. It's not about showing off myself - it's about connecting with people, and really searching for truth in wine. I'm always thinking of new ways I can improve this blog, both in my writing and content, and am always appreciative of constructive criticism.
Working on new videos as well.
So many thanks for visiting. I hope you agree with many of my opinions, and if I've inspired you to alter your perceptions of what you thought wine to be, then this experiment has been a success.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Hey, they brought out that girl again to sing the National anthem. What are they, 8-1 when she sings? Awesome. Girl's got some pipes.
Too bad Orlando's intros are so lame.
---1st Quarter, 7:50
Sloppy play on both sides. Orlando has to start pounding it inside. Alston just gave up a wide, wide, wide open 3-pointer. Stupid turnover. Orlando shooters seem cocked and locked, but Howard has to start getting some touches. If they let Kobe run pick and rolls like that, this game is over.
---1st Quarter, 5:29
Orlando offense just clicking. Transition offence is running and gunning, flowing smoothly. Kobe is answering back though. Beautiful to watch.
---1st Quarter End
Each series takes on its own personality - that's such a cliché, but it's true. Against Cleveland, Orlando just couldn't start the game properly. These games against L.A. have been completely different. Up by 2. I like this start. Their offence is clicking, and guys are looking to attck the rim. Howard is showing some moves. Continue pounding it inside, look to exploit the double teams that Howard is seeing. Sooner or later, the perimeter is going to open up. Orlando's shooters have to be ready.
---2nd Quarter, 9:37
Howard just made two beautiful post ups in a row. Chance for a 3-point play. Gorgeous. Keep pushing the tempo. Howard has to run hard, establish position. If he can get deep enough every time down, Lakers are in trouble.
---2nd Quarter, 7:18
Is anyone playing any defense? Kobe dunking, Odom making transition threes, Marcin Gortat dunking off alley-oops? Come on guys, buckle down a bit. At least the refs aren't calling touch fouls. Let men play like men, and keep p*ssies like Varejao in the WNBA.
---2nd Quarter, 3:33
Lakers pulling away. Up by 9. Two 3's by Ariza, and Fisher with a wide lane to the rim. Completely left alone. Orlando burning two timeouts in less than a minute. Is this team slipping away? Or is it too early to determine. We'll see what Orlando's made of. If they can't get within 5 points at halftime, this game is over. The Lakers are no Cleveland - they will not melt down in the 3rd. Howard has to get the ball and hold onto it - no more turnovers. Lewis has to shoot the f*cking ball when he gets a look. What's with this silly hesitation? Drive and kick, drive and kick - that's their game. You have to be aggressive and shoot when you're open. Once the pace slows down, L.A.'s half-court defense will smother you.
---2nd Quarter, 3:03
My goodness. Three turnovers coming out of a timeout for Orlando. 16 straight points for L.A. The crowd is out of it, things are looking bleak for Orlando. They're not out, I still believe they'll make a run. You have to stick to your game plan, keep it simple. Move the ball, look for open shooters, no hesitation.
A crazy end to the first half. Orlando was successful in the 1st quarter going to Howard, but stopped doing it in the 2nd. Frustration evident. Defence has to be turned up. And have to take care of the ball, lots of silly turnovers. Be patient. But down by 10 at the half - I don't think L.A. is going to let this one slip away.
---3rd Quarter, 10:06
Orlando's offense is stalling. So many broken plays. Come on guys, go, run, move!!!!!
---3rd Quarter, 7:45
Excellent sequence by Orlando. Patient with the ball, moving it inside and out, leading to a wide open pocket 3 by Alston.
---3rd Quarter, 7:05
Two fantastic returns by L.A. Odom for 3 and then Gasol drawing an offensive foul on Howard. Wow, and then Odom for another 3! Is it too early to call this game? What heart, what drive by the Lakers. Every time Orlando rallies, L.A. responds, and then some. We're watching champions play.
---3rd Quarter, 6:29
I like that. Howard and Turk, pick and roll, forcing Fisher to switch onto Howard. Pound the ball in deep to Howard, draw the foul. Howard has to get going. I still can't believe he's only had, what, one dunk this entire series??!!
---3rd Quarter, 2:06
Jameer Nelson just subbed in for Alston, and you could see the look of frustration on his face. This is not going to end well. Alston has a year left on his contract, and he doesn't respond well to being a backup. I don't understand Van Gundy's decision to play Nelson so many minutes, and taking Johnson out of the lineup completely. This is the decision that cost them the series.
---3rd Quarter End
This is not looking good. The season is slipping away, fast, for Orlando. When Farmar makes bank shots with 2.8 seconds left on the clock.....hope fades, and resignation sets in. Lakers have been exceptional for 3 quarters.
---4th Quarter, 8:13
Kobe is just killing them. It's his time, he's single-handedly holding off any advance that Orlando is putting up. Lee can't guard him, Redick can dream on. This game is over.
---4th Quarter, 5:50
You can see it - Orlando knows that its done. Just play out the clock. A bright side in all this is the commentary from Jeff Van Gundy. Understated humour, quietly hilarious.
---4th Quarter End
What a great win for L.A. They deserved it - they were clearly the better team, and played this entire game masterfully. Kobe is the greatest player in the game. Can there be any more doubt? I've been an admirer of Phil Jackson ever since his first 3-peat, and with 10 rings, he's cemented his place as the greatest coach in history.
This is a beautiful game.
So, with summer weather comes the great debate - what to drink when you're in heat?
I can think of several heat-wicking drinks, but the foremost thing on my mind isn't a wine - it's a classic cocktail concocted in the great socialist nation of Cuba. Yes, mes amis, it's time for mojitos.
Didn't have time, but will be grocery shopping this week for some ingredients. To pick up: lots of fresh lime and mint. I'll have to make some simple syrup (water and sugar - 2 parts sugar to 1 part water), as well as begin making plenty of perfectly shaped, tiny ice cubes. And finally, we'll need a bottle of aged rum, preferably with 8-12 years of cask age.
No doubt one of the great pleasures of summer.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Finally, after a long, long hiatus, my favourite drama is back. Kings. Will it be back for good? I don't think so. Sad. Lots of great writing, lots of creativity. And great actors, especially the older ones. King Silas, definitely one of the great characters ever written for TV. American networks have their heads stuck in their asses. What can you do, Americans have mediocre to cheap tastes, and anything intellectually stimulating is not going to succeed. Fat Americans would rather watch Hannah Montana as they eat their microwaveable Lean Cuisines. Sigh.
First off - let's see if I can get into double digits tonight. Come on people, let's make this happen!
Is it terrible if I state my intention to get drunk tonight? I'm tag-teaming 2 bottles of riesling, and seeing which one is going to get me shitfaced faster. I'm betting on the sweet Niagara one, worth 12.9%.
But let's be clear, yes? I'm not an alcoholic. No sir, just love to drink.
We started with a spinach salad with bacon, curry melon soup, and crap cake on filo. Delicious on all counts. The salad was so fresh, with delicious dressing on feta cheese and what I think are either figs or dates. For entrées, a duck leg confit, seared trout fillet, and cured meat pizza. Very impressive. The duck was cooked perfectly. Leg very crisp on the outside, tender inside. The breast cuts were deliciously medium-rare and so flavoursome. The fish was so delicately cooked, with incredible trout flavour. The cheese on the pizza was delicious. Bouncy crust, just fantastic.
Very impressed by this restaurant. I definitely want to go back. It's in a somewhat obscure part of town, but the trip is worth it. And the wine list...fantastic!
An old favourite. But a lot of new faces. I was inspired to visit this producer again, after tasting this horrendously alcoholic New Zealand pinot noir last night. I've always loved Flat Rock's pinot - it remains one of the most memorable wines I've ever tasted, because it's the wine that convinced me that Niagara was able to produce earthy, soulful wines rooted in the land.
We tasted the 2007 Estate Pinot Noir. Lacks the concentration I expected from such a blockbuster vintage. Good balance and earthy, red fruit flavours. What surprised me the most were the 2008 rieslings. The 2008 Nadja's Riesling was absolutely delicious - minerally and intense, with great complexity. The 2008 Estate Riesling was very young at this point, with high, tense acidity. Very excited to see how these will show with some age.
This time, we were given a more comprehensive tour. I'm very pleased to see that they believe in more seasoned barrels - they use a lot of 3-year old oak.
I saw the President, Ed, very busy around the winery. That's how you know quality exists. The best fertilizer for a vineyard is an owner's footsteps. This is a really stunning property, and proves that high quality wines can be made at extremely value-driven prices. Well done, well done.
First stop was to Flat Rock Cellars. I drank a New Zealand pinot noir last night, and it did not measure up to what Flat Rock proposes, and I wanted to confirm it. Tasted a few wines, but I was excited the most about the 2008's. More on Flat Rock, in detail, later.
Lunch was fantastic. The first time to this establishment for me - details in a few.
Dropped into the Niagara Parks Botanical Garden for the first time in what must be at least 15 years. Took some photos - let me know how I did.
Tired after a long day. Chilling in the basement, where it's nice and cool. Enjoying (quite a few) glasses of Kacaba riesling, as well as a very, very old Rheingau riesling. Nice contrast.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
--- 1st Quarter, 6:03
Turk is 2-2 on hard drives to the basket. I don't understand why he doesn't do it more often. No way Odom or Gasol can guard him.
Howard has 7 boards and 2 blocks already, halfway through the first quarter. What a beast. What I don't comprehend is why he insists on catching and holding the ball below his waist. It's not that hard to see that he makes himself prone to steals and fumbles. Ewing needs to get on that right now.
---1st Quarter, 5:40
Orlando's playing their game. If they can keep up this kind of ball movement, L.A. needs to be careful. I don't know if I like Turk bringing the ball up instead of Alston.
I guess we're seeing inconsistent Odom today. What a silly foul on Howard.
---1st Quarter, 3:44
When Alston makes his shots, this team is deadly. Just made a three-pointer, a deep two, and a ridiculous floater over Fisher.
Whoa, a DJ Mbenga sighting. Foul trouble on L.A.'s bigs. Heyyyyy youuuuu guysss!!!!!
I'm puzzled and amused everytime I see Rashard Lewis' Egyptian pharaoh beard. Is his ancestry really North African?
---1st Quarter, 1:42
Say what you want, Kobe is still the greatest. Just made a play out of nothing. Drew an absolutely beautiful foul on Pietrus.
THERE YOU GO!!!! Again, Turk, hard to the rim, makes a shot. Van Gundy should get on his ass to do that every single damn time.
---1st Quarter, 0:45
Just loving this. Alston made another floater in the lane.
I'm rubbing my eyes. What is going on? L.A. has Mbenga and now Powell on the floor? Digging deep. Kobe has to dominate.
Dammit. I think I'm going to call it a night - it's past my bedtime. Lame................
I'm going with Orlando. Yet still, Lakers in 7.
Wow. Tough loss. I can't understand why Van Gundy would go with Jameer Nelson. Come on man, Alston was fantastic early on. I need this experiment with Nelson would end badly. Alston and Anthony Johnson were great leading up to the Finals and all of a sudden, you want to insert an under-sized guard who hasn't played in 4 months? Maybe this talk of Van Gundy being a master of panic is true after all. Unbelievable. Alston's been handling this shit a lot better than I expected.
Maybe it's time to drop into Niagara again, to see how everyone's doing.
And read this article, about an interesting new project: Niagara winemakes does it his own way
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Part of the research involved slicing the brain into thin sections, so researchers could examine the interior.
As soon as I saw one of them lift a brain out of the jar, and saw it covered in a slick-looking liquid, I started gagging. Watching her slice it only made me wretch even harder.
Mad respect to people that can stomach it. The things I watch so that I can tune into Ziya...
There was a VintagesOnline release today. I tried not to, but regretfully, the order is through for NV H. Billiot et Fils Brut Grand Cru. One of those grower Champagnes that everyone in the know likes to tout. It's becoming such a cliché for people to brag about how much grower Champagne they drink and how close they are with the people who make them that it's in danger of becoming a trend. In wines, trends signify the death of taste. But in this case, I'm willing to latch on - always a treat to be able to taste any grower Champagnes.
Maybe I should explain. Grower Champagne is Champagne that is made by people who actually grow the grapes, hence the grower moniker. Sorry to disillusion you about Champagne, but the vast majority of wine being produced is being made from purchased grapes. Yeah, the Veuve Clicquot you love so much, and supposedly gives you an aura of classiness and breed? Bubbly, mass-produced vinous rip-off.
My 2006 Bordeaux have arrived! I think I'll be picking out some bottles to drink immediately. Have to make some decisions, because you can't buy without knowing what the wines taste like.
What temptations will come up next? I really want to get out this weekend. Hopefully, my email will be returned, and we'll be able to enjoy a great weekend outing. Wine-related, bien sur.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Here they are, as previously referenced in Dust Up. Ray Ban Wayfarer 2132, Tortoise.
I wear these not because of trend, but because of their inherent swagger. When you've been around for 50 years, that's legacy. That's classicism. And that's respect.
You wear them like this man: Confidence
Can the hipsters quickly be done with their silly day-glo framed Ray Bans, so that the real men can show everyone how to really wear Wayfarers? Please. Helpless, pathetic trend mingers, more castrati than men. And you need to be a man to wear Wayfarers.
I visited the Summerhill LCBO this weekend, for the first time. This is supposed to be one of the flagships, featuring a dedicated Spirits section. Exciting!
Outside of the expensive Bordeaux, I think I prefer BV. But I'm now thoroughly convinced that LCBO just does not know how to, or does not care to, store wine properly. You know, lying bottles on their side, free of light, heat, or vibration?
Proper storage is not a financially viable proposition for LCBO. That is why you're getting screwed if you buy a wine more than 2 weeks after its release. Stored in temperatures hovering in the low 20's, under bright lights - not ideal. I saw a bottle of Zilliken Auslese that's been sitting on shelves, standing upright, for well more than a year. Beware...
LCBO, you just don't get it, do you? Sometimes, ensuring that your customers get the best possible products is worth more than air conditioning costs. And I'm asking you to turn down your damn lights!!
These storage conditions are cruel and a shock to the wine's health. Stay current with what's being released - any other way is at your own risk.
The thing I hear the most, and which gets me hankered the most is the idea that you should check your wine glass for legs. Meaning, you swirl the wine in the glass, and notice how it drips down the side. I'm not pointing any fingers, but you know who you are. I've heard this come from so many people that I'm putting my feet down and putting a stop to this nonsense.
People, all the legs tell you is that there is alcohol in the wine. What the f*ck could you possibly ascertain from that? What other kind of information can you tell, other than what you're drinking is alcoholic? It's ridiculous that you can determine whether a wine is full-bodied or not from its viscosity. Texture is determined on the palate, not by the eyes.
So, what you should be doing is this: appreciating a wine's appearance is the first thing you do, but what you should be focussing on is the colour. Colour gives you a wide variety of information, which is then followed by aroma, and finally, palate.
Colour gives you clues about a wine's age, varietal, as well as viticulture techniques.
First - age.
Wine changes colour as it ages. Red wines become lighter as it ages, and white wines become darker. Look at the shade first. Light, dark, transparent? Tip the glass, so that it's almost flat. How does the colour change from the centre of the glass to the rim? Does it get considerably lighter, or is there no change in saturation? The tell-tale sign of a mature red is a brown/amber/orange tint at the rim, while a white wine becomes almost transparent.
Second - varietal.
Varietals have common characteristics in terms of colour. Cabernet sauvignon will always be darker than pinot noir. Chardonnay will nearly always be deeper and more golden than riesling.
Third - viticulture.
This one is important, to me at least. As the trend is for red wines to be darker and darker, and white wines to be nearly deep gold, you have to recognize when a wine has been doctored in the cellar. Pinot noir is naturally quite light red in colour, so when you open a bottle of pinot that looks inky, there should be alarms going off about possible manipulation. Things like excessive oak, designer yeasts, and micro-oxygenation can all contribute to an altering of a wine's natural colour.
So, next time you open a bottle, please look closely at it before you taste. Look closely at the colour, because it will give you a number of clues about the wine, before you even drink. Just never, ever, mention the legs. My corkscrew has a knife attached to it. The next person who mentions legs in my presence is getting their right ear sliced off. You've been warned.
Monday, June 8, 2009
2000 Château La Tour du Pin Figeac, AC St-Émilion Grand Cru
This bottle has been through quite a journey. I picked it up last year, December 2008, in a wine shop in Nice. As I was in the south of France, my preference was for Bandol, but there was none to be found. So, after a long flight back and sometimes questionable storage, here we are.
To avoid confusion, as there are two properties sharing the same name, the proprietor of this wine is Giraud-Bélivier. Owned by the Giraud family, the other La Tour du Pin Figeac is owned by Moueix. Alas, both wines assume a somewhat forgotten reputation in terms of quality. Assemblage is about 75% merlot, 25% cabernet franc.
The cork drew out beautifully, slickly clean as seen above. The wine had a bright red robe, with the rim beginning to amber and taking on a brownish sheen. Looks close to maturity. Initial nose of intense graphite lead minerality, charred meats, greenish notes and dark dried fruits. After a 3 hour decant, the bouquet becomes more harmonious, with the fruit becoming darker, richer and jammier. Develops great warmth and increasing sweetness. Palate becomes very sweet after about 5 hours, with noticeable oak and a spicy finish. Fine, but softening tannins.
After 24 hours, the wine begins to fade. Oak is a bit awkward. Good sweetness, absolute weightless texture. This is a decent, serviceable wine. What I love is that it's instantly recognizable as a claret, which a lot of today's Bordeaux seem to lack. While not a supple wine, there is good cabernet character and a silky, sweet texture.
While not an old claret by any means, this was a great experience to have.
But...self-confidence in taste and tasting ability is what separates the plonkers from the connoisseurs. I have no reason to be meek and deferential interacting with folks who laud Yellow Tail as anything more than barely drinkable, or scoff that, "The only difference in wine is if its red or white."
No, arrogance is warranted, and justified. Fighting ignorance is, after all, a noble intellectual pursuit, even if I have to crack that you have the palate of a wet donkey.
Forgot to notice that under harsh, cloudy lighting, dust really shows up.
So, back to more experimentation tomorrow. Promise that it'll be worth the wait.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
2004 Baron de Ley Reserva, DOCa Rioja
I've been tardy. This wine was the one responsible for my meltdown last weekend, so you understand my reticence to blog about it. In any case, it was an immensely interesting experience, and I learned a lot from this wine.
Rioja should always be the safe choice right? Tempranillo has wonderful fruit, with enough complexity to keep wine intellectuals happy. Immediately upon opening this bottle, I smelled an intense aroma of brettanomyces. Lots and lots of brett - stinky, barnyard-y bouquet of manure and dried dung. It was so overwhelming that it became undrinkable - I can't recall the last bottle of wine that I just couldn't put in my mouth. I was ready to pour it out, but decided to put it away for the night.
After 24 hours in the bottle, a remarkable thing happened. The brett receded, and the fruit and spice came forward. Deep red colour with excellent saturation. A rustic aroma of leather, red fruits, spice, and creamy oak. Lean in the palate, but great balance. Bitter-tinged finish.
Unfortunately, this bottle reveals no characteristics of Rioja wines. But the experience with the brett really taught me a lot. These kinds of things always bring out your insecurities - is the aroma an indication of brett or is the wine corked? My confidence in my tasting abilities soared after tasting the brett recede after 24 hours. It's remarkable how dramatic the wine changes with some air. Fantastic.
Never judge wines too quickly. Sometimes, all a shitty wine needs is some patience.
The dark lighting inside was the perfect opportunity to play around with the ISO settings. I cranked it up, and although a few came out blurry, I liked the fact that shooting without the flash made colours look more natural. I don't understand the girls that flash the hell out of each other in clubs. You're not doing yourself any favours by capturing yourself under blinding, unforgiving lights.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Single lots of:
Figeac, Clinet, L'Arrosée, Faizeau, Poujeaux, and D'Aiguilhe.
Finally getting out of the house tomorrow. There's a street festival somewhere downtown, and hopefully we'll find something exciting to do there. And of course, hopefully I'll be able to do some shooting. And certainly, some drinking.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Has it really been 20 years? The images are still so vivid. I'm not sure about what I want to remember it as. Referring to it as a massacre or a movement seems trivial in the context of the number of lives 6/4 changed. It's an injustice to offer judgement and criticism on this day, of either side. Today's a day to remember what the students stood for, and to remember why they took those risks and why they were sacrificed.
I'm an idealist. Nothing is so terrifying as not having the right to be a free thinker. Monolithic thinking is the root of ignorance, and if we aren't able to foster an environment for free thinkers to flourish, there is only one logical conclusion: a revolution.
Today, I wore white to remember the free thinkers of 6/4. I quietly toasted the ideals they represented and fought for. Bodies and voices can be crushed and silenced, but ideals are everlasting.