Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cork crust

Eberle cork

There's another interesting sidenote to the bottle of Eberle Syrah. Maybe we should just call it Eberle's red wine because it bears no resemblance to syrah of any kind, from anywhere.

When I drew the cork on this bottle, this is what I saw. A hard, crusty substance stuck on the cork. The first time I've seen something like this - although not off-putting, it raises some questions about how the wine was stored.

Although at least I should be happy that they're not filtering these wines before bottling.

Oh, and by the way...composite corks? Get serious, and use either natural cork or Stelvin. If you aren't going to treat your wines seriously, then we won't either.

2005 Paso Robles

2005 Eberle Steinbeck Vineyard

2005 Eberle Syrah, Steinbeck Vineyard, Paso Robles

I can't sleep, hence the late night posting. Another Californian wine, another disappointment.

Gary Eberle is supposedly the first person in America to plant syrah. Add on the fact that Paso Robles is reputed to be the premiere appellation for syrah, this bottle brings with it considerable prestige and raised expectations. For $29, it had better deliver.

Deep red colour, full saturation. Initial nose of jammy red fruits - cherry, raspberry, etc. Full in the mouth, with ripe, sweet tannins. Not a single sense of syrah characteristics. Nothing. I couldn't tell if this was a merlot, cabernet, or syrah - whatever it was, this did not taste like syrah. An unfortunate syrah masquerading as a cheap merlot.

24 hours in the fridge did it no favours. More jamminess on the nose, this time degrading into a cherry liquer aroma. Absolutely no varietal characters. This is not a syrah. Disappointing for a Paso Robles wine. Come on. Eberle, you can do much better.

Of all the Californian wines I've tasted over the past month, not a single one has impressed me. I've been reading online reviews - am I the only one in North America that feels this way about these wines? Waiting for the next release of Ridge Monte Bello. If that bottle disappoints as well, I'm swearing off California forever.

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Blogger's note:

Obscenities edited out. Sorry.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Life is not fair

I'm in a vulnerable place right now.....alone at midnight, on a Saturday. Many, many glasses drunk. Yet how come my mind has never felt clearer.

I've always had to work for things. Nothing ever seems to come our way...nothing. We don't live charmed lives. I'm not complaining or making excuses, but at a time like this, I feel helpless and utterly alone.

Work, finances, relationships - none of it has fallen into place for me. I've seen my friends progress into great companies, connect in great relationships.................I'm very happy for them, but at the same time....................................................

I'm tired. Tired of always feeling like things are working against us. I don't want tons of money, or fabulous clothes, or even a cellar of First Growths.......I just want peace. I want happiness. Is that too much to ask?

As I said, I'm in a vulnerable place right now. No one but a glass of mediocre Rioja to keep me company. Sigh...................................................................................................................

My history behind the lens

I've waited years before investing in a D-SLR, but only because I needed to be sure about my committment to learning photography. I think I'm ready, on all counts. The D90 was the right piece of equipment, and my interest in photography has been reignited.

I have a history with photography. We had a friend who was a professional photographer - Nikon F4, climate/humidity controlled locker, studio at home - the real deal. He took me under his tutelage, teaching me how to compose, and exposing me to different styles. It was a great education, but photography, as in all hobbies, required a lot of time and money, an investment I was hesitant to make. But that was then.

Seagull DF-1


My first camera was a Seagull DF-1, a camera once belonging to my grandfather. I adore it. It's heavy, solid steel, and completely manual. They don't make cameras like old Seagulls anymore. The lens is also Seagull, a 58 mm - focussing was always an interesting exercise. There's a circle inside, bisected diagonally. You have to focus the circle, so that both halves line up - the rest of the frame is blurry. Very, very interesting.

I also remember playing with a Yashica camera that we used for years. Alas, my father misguidedly gave it to my in-the-closet cousin. If he used it, I wouldn't be so bitter, but I'm sure it's being neglected, if not thrown out. My beautiful Yashica. I hope my cousin doesn't treat his boyfriends like he did my camera.

Nikon F60


For the past 10 years or so, we've been using a Nikon F60. I'm not too familiar with this camera - I preferred my Seagull, and then there was this whole, awkward phase with Canon point-and-shoot cameras. Like I said, awkward.

So, here's to a brilliant and bright future to me and my D90. Regardless of equipment - it's the photographer that takes the photo, not the camera. I'm excited and ready to go!

With purpose

There's a few things in wine that I absolutely abhor, one of them being this idea that you should open any bottle mindlessly, just because. You pay a lot of hard-earned money for your wine (this, of course, to the folks that actually research what they're buying), so why would you open a bottle without realizing all the gains you can achieve from it?

Drinking a wine doesn't just give you pleasure from its colour, its bouquet, its taste.....it creates taste memories, associations that you can apply to future wines - this is true pleasure, the delight in remembering and connecting these associations.

For example: if you drink a Californian cabernet today, and a French syrah tomorrow, and then a South African merlot the next day, what do you achieve? You're tasting a slew of wines which have very little in common, and therefore, you're unable to create a string of taste memories. Now, if you were to drink a Napa cabernet, a Left Bank Bordeaux, and then an Australian cabernet/merlot blend, then you can quickly associate these wines together, and recall the differences in flavour profile of the cabernet grape. That, is tasting with a purpose.

I try to adhere to this principle, always. I love drinking wines from the same region together, from the vintage, or from the same varietal. There has to be something in common between the wines you drink, because only then will your entire mind be stimulated. Drinking without intellectual stimulation is for the drunkards - enlightened individuals should strive for something higher.

Taiwan's tea

Taiwan oo-longTaiwan oo-long

I need something to take my mind off things.

There is a very famous mountain in Taiwan called Ali Mountain (阿里山). Very, very beautiful. This oo-long tea is grown there, and is one of the finest teas I've ever tasted. Oo-long is fermented longer than green tea, giving it more power and depth - a brawny, rich tea.

This tea is hand-picked, unfurling its very large, whole leaves. The tea is a luminous, deep gold. Very floral on the bouquet, with the tell-tale brambliness of green tea. In the mouth, it's very layered, with an almost nutty character, backed by brambles and a woolly texture. Completely coats the palate with its great weight. Long, delightfully bitter finish.

If only the Taiwanese were this potent at their politics........

R/W frame of mind

And just like a sudden thunderstorm, the sense of worry and dread in the house hangs thickly. What's going on this year? Bad news after bad news...we're not asking for much, just some peace.

Is the palate affected by your mood? I certainly believe it is. When I taste, I try to block my mind from anything other than what's in the glass, but frame of mind definitely alters perceptions of taste. That's why wines, even simple ones, are always wonderful when you drink them on vacation.

I'm in a foul mood right now. Tonight is not the night for tasting.

Friday, May 29, 2009

South Island, NZ

NZ


The great Jancis Robinson wrote a great piece on a Japanese family making great wines in New Zealand, and with all the recent NZ releases from the LCBO, I was inspired.

Travelling is the dream. And I think I really want to visit New Zealand. There is a genuine spirit of innovation and excitement in wine going on in that part of the world. My father was there 2 years ago, and he came away very impressed.

South Island is a gem. Malborough, Central Otago...the jewels of New World pinot noir. The 20+ hour flight time should be worth it.

Who wants to come with me?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hidden in the family

Ballantine's 12 yearsBallantine's 12 years

I found this bottle in my grandmother's house when I was in Shanghai last year. It's been in the family for nearly 25 years - acquired before I was born. There's an interesting story attached. My father worked for one of the first multinational trading firms in China in the 1980's, and he bought this bottle during that time. It went into my grandparents' possession, where it's been sitting ever since. The bottle of Ballantine's became forgotten.

It was by chance that I found it last year. We were clearing out some closets, and I saw something in the corner. I immediately knew it was special, because my grandparents don't drink. My mother recognized the box instantly, and I began thinking of how we could bring it home. It was decided then, that we'd leave it with one of my uncle's, until my father went back on a business trip. He took his trip in late April, and successfully repatriated the bottle.

So, it's been a long journey, but my Ballantine's is finally home. As you can see, the packaging shows the wear and tear of age. This bottle has such a history, I don't even know what occasion would be appropriate enough to open it on.

You never know what surprises you'll find in an old closet.

For the beach

Funny how these things happen. I've been thinking about the beach this entire week. And just now, on FB, I happened upon someone's beach photos. I've known this person for quite some time, and to say we had a strained relationship is a bit of an understatement. We were close friends, things happened - lack of maturity on both our parts. In any case, I was going through these photos, and it made me want to lie on some sand.

I'm not a beach person, by any means. I don't tan, I sunburn easily, and sand gets everywhere. But the idea of lying around all day appeals to me. So, the question is, what to drink on the beach?

I would drink sparkling wines. Not Champagne, of course. But a nice cava or prosecco or Crémant d'Alsace would be delightful. Add an umbrella, sunscreen, and a beautiful woman in something skimpy, and you have all the ingredients for a marvelous time in the sun.

LCBO Invitations

Vintages Wine 101

I receive a lot of invitations from the LCBO to attend their events. But this is getting a bit ridiculous. They stopped printing catalogues for important releases, like Bordeaux En Primeur, but they're still sending out these cards? This is heavy stock too.

LCBO wants to send a message of environmental friendliness, and they made a good start with discontinuing plastic bags. This is a step backwards. Stop sending out cards to fluff events. I pay thousands for Bordeaux alone every year, did you think I'd be interested in some 101 event? Stop wasting paper!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chemically failed?

There was a note in my confirmation for my 2006 Bordeaux En Primeur order. It said that Chateau Caillou (37.5 cL) had failed chemical analysis and was no longer able to be delivered. I quickly checked - no Caillou in my order. Pity the fools who did.

Why would it fail chemical analysis? Chateau Caillou is a Deuxième Grand Cru Classé of Barsac, not a little dip-shit garage operation. The only explanation I can think of is maybe there is an issue with sulfur levels in the wine. Sauternes and Barsac wines have always had an issue with sulfur - some people react badly to it. It doesn't bother me too much, granted the wine has some age (10+ years) on it.

Just a bizarre situation, I'd really like to know the real reason.

En Primeur veteran

Well - I'm certainly not a veteran...yet. But I was just thinking about how time flies, especially when you can chart your life through the wines you buy. Palates change over time, as well as purchasing patterns, and your wine collection reflects that.

Not so long ago, I was coming off of my first En Primeur purchase. I'm now on my 4th. It's rough now, always unsure if I can find the budget to buy these wines, and store them properly once they arrive, but in 20 years, I'm sure I'll be glad I made the effort. I think my friends will be glad as well.

Nikon D90

Got my new toys. The wine connoisseur wants to become the gentleman photographer.

New toys



Nikon D90

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

上海海派清口

Shanghainese is becoming a lost language. No one speaks it anymore, so it's very satisfying to find a comedian that not only understands what it means to be a true Shanghainese, but also one who's comedy is witty, subtle, and extremely relevant. 周立波 is absolutely hilarious. The jokes are mostly regional - it's difficult for someone not from Shanghai to relate. Having said that, I'm tired of the current crop of Chinese comedians, 98% of which are from the North, and whose jokes reflect that heritage. I'm a good old Shanghai boy, I need good old Shanghai comedy.

Watch the first video. The last 3 minutes had me screaming with laughter. If it helps, he is impersonating a 1980's Shanghai cigarette hawker.





Spring Villa Chinese Cuisine

SP_A0629

Here for dinner Sunday night with some friends who are relocating back to China. I don't eat out at Chinese restaurants often. It's been years since I've been to this one, on Woodbine just north of Steeles.

The renovation improves the overall aura. Great chairs. White plates, which is always the best. Well cooked food, regionally correct and fresh. True Cantonese flavour - not spectacular, but satisfies.

Shedding tears for Latour

chateau-latour

I'm hurting right now. I thought this year was the best chance I'd ever have to purchase Latour, but alas, it's not to be. Vintages called today, and they're not going to offer me 3 bottles.

The explanation I got was frankly, de la merde. The reason my order won't be filled is because I only wanted a single lot, 3 bottles. They give priority to the rich customers who buy a case (12 bottles) or more, even though I sent them my order literally 30 minutes after the offer was released online. This isn't a fair allocation. As always, the rich f*cks win.

I'm hurting.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hangover, hungover

Does the severity or frequency of a hangover differ, depending on the wine you drink? I increasingly find that certain wines cause stiffer hangovers than others, and alcohol is only part of the reason.

Take, for example, riesling. The rieslings I've been drinking the most lately are German and Niagara, all made in a classical style of between 8-11% alcohol. I can drink as many glasses as I'd like to, without fear - no doubt because of the lower alcohol, but also because of the absence of any oak in the wine.

Same for pinot noir and chardonnay, both Burgundy and Niagara. Here, oak is present, but often restrained - there is very little new oak used.

What I'm trying to articulate is that oak makes a big difference (to me) on whether I'm going to wake up with a hangover or not. I'm finding these big, internationally-styled wines are the main culprit - lots of jammy fruit, and absolutely bombarded with oak and micro-oxygenation. Often at 14.5% alcohol and higher, these wines make you want to lie down after 2 or 3 glasses, and make you want to keep lying down when you wake up.

This goes for wines from Old and New World. The Chants de Faizeau I drank this past weekend gave me a raging headache when I woke up. I love wine, but I love drinking it more, and I refuse to drink anything that makes me feel like an alcoholic when I wake up.

This is a problem. There's something to be said about restrained, elegant wines that don't slap you in the face, but gently caress and whisper into your ear.

Wine scoring

Of all the wine notes I posted recently, most people only look for one thing: the score. The writer can write paragraphs of beautiful, flowery prose, but the only thing that earns money is his/her numerical score. Depressing, but unfortunately, the reality of the industry.

The culprits are the American critics. Yes, the Brits and the French score as well, but no one has as much power as The Man and The Establishment. With a casual bump from a score of 91 to a 95, a wine's value can triple overnight. So how do these people score, given the economic power behind their verdicts?

It's surprisingly, an intuitive process. They taste, and somehow, a number floats into their head. Yes, they possess vast experience from tasting thousands of wines annually, but in essence, they simply assign a number to a wine and move on. No matrix, no cumulative scoring of individual components, just a final score. Smell, slurp, spit, score - all in 10 seconds.

We're all familiar with the 100 point system - we've been subjected to it since grade school. But think about your Grade 9 math score. Your final score isn't a number that your teacher thinks you deserve - it's the result of all the separate scores you achieved from quizzes, tests, assignments, final exams...a final score derived from all the components tested during the semester. That's the accurate way to score, and a true reflection of performance.

I'm not going to rehash old arguments, about the silliness of comparing a 92 point and a 93 point wine, or why a wine scores 80 just by showing up in a bottle. But what's truly silly with the 100 point system is that it implies that there is such thing as a 100 point wine, or a perfect wine. Think about that. Wine is a living thing, just like a human. Is there such thing as a perfect human being? Think about how silly that concept is.

In conclusion, my point is to ignore scores all together. There will always be the types of people who buy based on score, but we're better than that. Buy on taste, buy on personal preference - don't buy based on a random number assigned to a wine, which is in itself a reflection of someone else's taste.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

2007 Carneros

2007 Cuvaison

2007 Cuvaison Chardonnay, Carneros, Napa Valley

You see, I'm keeping my word - another Californian chardonnay. The last bottle, La Crema, although far from transcendant, really increased my confidence in the Americans. Ready to explore more.

Carneros is one of the premiere areas of California for chardonnay - this one was reasonably priced at $27. But prices are all relative.

Bright yellow, very pale colour. Initial muskiness that becomes very creamy. This flavour, of course, comes not from the terroir but from an extended aging on the lees. Tricky Californians. Trying to convince people that lees aging gives chardonnay its true taste. Good fruit, lots of buttery texture. This is a big, American wine. Not very subtle, but, at least it keeps true to its type.

What disturbs me most is the alcohol. Becomes very hot on the finish, destroying any balance it possesses. What's worse is that after I drank half the bottle, I wanted to go lie down. The ability to intoxicate is not the quality of a world class wine.

En Primeur, 2006

BF2007_header_en

My orders for 2006 Bordeaux En Primeur will be arriving shortly. It's a funny concept. I bought these (and paid half in deposits) two years ago and haven't really thought of them since. To be honest, I don't recall exactly which wines I purchased. And judging by how the markets and wines have turned out in bottle, maybe I shouldn't have been so eager to send in that order in the first place.

I have parcels of:

Chasse-Spleen
Grand Corgin-Despagne
Lagrange
Pindefleurs
La Lagune
Clerc Milon
Gazin
Bourgneuf

These are the ones that will be arriving now - the plan is that the other two lots will be arriving in September. So says LCBO. We'll see about that.

2004 Côtes de Castillon

2007 Château de L'Estang

2004 Château de L'Estang, AC Côtes de Castillon

I have a bit of a history with this wine. I adore the wines of the Côtes de Castillon, which offer great value for money. Not too thrilled about the prize that they advertise on the bottle, but this wine is decent.

This was the second bottle of wine I opened on Friday. Ended up drinking most of the bottle. Provided a great comparison to the Chants de Faizeau - both are from regions close to each other, are grown on similar soils, and composed of roughly the same varietals. But, they couldn't have been more different expressions of merlot.

Good colour, redder than the last wine, with just the slightest, slightest clearing at the rim. Fantastic sheen. A much more rustic nose, with ripe red fruits, earthiness, and a touch of brettanomyces. Spicy. Elegant on the palate, with good, ripe fruit. Very well-balanced, with woolly and firm tannins. I like this wine. Offers much more than expected.

I have 2 more bottles put away, this wine is going to need a few more years.

2004 Montagne Saint-Émilion

2004 Château Chants de Faizeau

Château Chants de Faizeau, AC Montagne Saint-Émilion

This was an awkward bottle, in more ways than one. I opened it on Tuesday, intending to finish it. Wasn't really having a good day, and sometimes you just need to pound the alcohol.

I'm still not sure - is this the second wine of Château Faizeau or not? The label indicates that it is, but I wasn't able to find anything online, and the folks at LCBO weren't able to give me a straight answer either. I'm going with my gut, and say that it is. I'm a huge fan of Faizeau - they really know how to farm merlot and showcase how fascinating a varietal it can be.

I drank a glass on Tuesday, commenting on its firm structure, with emerging dark fruits and minerals. Promising. I wasn't able to touch it until Friday, and the few days in the fridge didn't seem to hurt. Dark red colour, impressive saturation to the rim. Looks very, very young. Good intensity on the nose of jammy, confected dark berries, with an underlying minerality. Some elegance on the palate, although the components aren't complementing each other as well as they should. A bit awkward. Very firm, big tannins.

The fruit is far too confected. This wine is made in the modern style - a shame considering the appellation can produce merlot of great complexity. It's as if they're trying to do too much. Maybe I'm being too premature in my judgement, but this wine is clearly lacking.

I really hate wines that become undrinkable as the night goes on. They, however, excel in helping you practice your spitting technique.

A little hazy

Woke up this afternoon with a mild hangover. Things got a little too merry last night. Will have the wines we drank up soon.

Lots of parcels coming in this week. I've been hesitant to include photos in these last few posts - when you go from a D-SLR to a point and shoot, everything seems inadequate. But, my new toy should be arriving by Wednesday or Thursday, so the suffering will be short-lived.

A lot of stuff from Vintages too. I have about 24 bottles of 2006 Bordeaux coming in. Should I taste a few now? Why not.

Heading to the gym before dinner. Going out for dinner - don't know where, but I do know that I won't be paying...

Before I forget....

...what this blog is about, I assure you - I havn't.

This is a wine blog, and the past few posts have not kept to the topic. I promise you the next few will. I've been binge drinking this weekend, and if there's anything I've learned, it's not to drink and blog. I'm an emotional enough of a blogger already, I don't need to inflict anymore self-damage by writing drunk.

Not that I'm drunk, I'm just...........buzzed and enlightened.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

East Finals Game 2

Wow...what a game. Orlando came out soft once again, double digit deficit at halftime, down by 23 in the third quarter. Almost scripted - Cleveland let them chip away, until it was tied on a Turkoglu three. And then, with 8 seconds left, the Turk hits what I thought was the game-winner. One second left in the game. What happened next was the kind of legendary play that no one ever forgets. King James for three to win the game.

I was screaming after that play in the basement. Profusely sweating, absolutely jumping with delirium, I hope none of the neighbours heard because it was 11:30pm. That was the most unbelievable play I've ever seen. I've been hesitant to say this, as I've followed LBJ's career since he was drafted - but now there's no denying. We are all witnesses.

McBain, ordered

..and with a click, the order went through. Nikon D90 body, and a Nikon 50mm F1.8 AF-D lens. Arriving in 2-4...very, very exciting.

I think my father's paying. I told him it was better if he used his visa, so he could collect a lot of airmiles. He now thinks we co-own this camera, and feels free to use it whenever.

We'll see about that.

Post No. 701

DSC_8706

Summer is definitely arriving - absolutely balmy this week, no? Exciting things coming up.

I made a promise to drink more New World wines this summer, and I'm going for it...lots of California, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and of course, Niagara wines in the next few months.

Bordeaux En Primeur is going to be an active topic - I have 2006 orders coming in and a 2008 order that has yet to be confirmed. Exciting.

And of course, that camera. Budgeting will be an issue, but I will get my hands on that D90 soon.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Carlsberg poker kits

Carlsberg poker


Mes amis, I have another treat for you. Matchstick and Carlsberg are kindly offering an additional 500 Carlsberg-branded poker kits to give away.

As an added bonus to this program, we have an additional 500 Carlsberg Poker Sets we’re making available for your friends and blog readers.

These kits are 100% free, and to register to receive one, have anyone interested visit
www.probablythebestkitintheworld.ca to sign up.

It takes a second to sign up, get your kit before supplies run out!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

PS

Paul Smith is the greatest.

photo-paul-with-project-10-bag-designs-26984

East Finals Game 1

I watched the first half of Cleveland/Orlando Game 1 last night. It was a great start for the Cav's - LBJ was unstoppable. That's why I was so surprised to see the result. Lebron is still a liability at the free throw line. Close, but still no Kobe yet. Game 2 should be intense.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Label saver

This is amazing, I want one. It's like giving the wine bottle a Brazilian.


Carlsberg survey

Mes amis, a survey for you. Please complete, it'll only take 4 minutes. Much appreciated, a bottle of wine for everyone who does this for me! Leave a comment so I know you've done it, many thanks!!

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Matchstick is looking for feedback from anyone who may have seen my posting regarding the Carlsberg event that happened a short time ago. If you click on the link below and complete the survey, you will be helping them by donating $2.00 to Shelternet, so please Click Here to take their short feedback survey.

For every survey that is completed, Matchstick will make a $2 donation to Shelternet (shelternet.ca), which is a Web-based Women and Children’s Crisis Support Center that provides aid and financial support to locally based women’s shelters across Canada .
Your time and feedback is greatly appreciated

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The Carlsberg event:
Carlsberg, courtesies
Carlsberg, Pilsner
Carlsberg, imaged

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Conundrum

Black's Photography has an ad out today for their D-SLR's. Nikon D90, with an 18-55 mm lens, $1149.99. No other information about the lens is given.

In this case, this is a better deal than I'm finding online. The fact that I'll be able to feel the camera in my hands before I buy it is particularly attractive.

Please advise.

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Blogger's note:

Advice received. Pass on the starter kit.

Mysteries and limestone

Château Léoville-Las Cases released to BWI today, for £895 a case. Given today's exchange rate, that's about $133 a bottle. Fair. I won't post the whole tasting note, but Parker feels that,

Despite the massive density, concentration, and length, the wine is extremely precise, nuanced, and impeccably pure. This phenomenal effort should be more drinkable in its youth than many other vintages of Las Cases because of the ripe tannins and sweet fru it density. It will need 5-10 years of cellaring, and should last for 40+ years. 95-97+pt.

This might be interesting. I will be watching for LCBO prices very carefully when our release comes.

Drinking a claret, coincidentally. A 2004 Montagne St-Émilion. Beautiful structure, fine tannins, spicy. Will need some air to develop a bit, but it's showing well.

Good Bordeaux, at whatever the price, justifies the hype.

Monday, May 18, 2009

2007 Twenty Mile Bench

2007 Flat Rock

2007 Flat Rock Cellars Riesling, VQA Twenty Mile Bench

Like many of the newer wineries in Niagara, Flat Rock is a glossy, modern facility, whose wines are made in a forward, approachable style. Their pinot noir is a personal favourite, and is very charming with eminent drinkability. What impresses me the most about this producer is the gravity flow concept built into the facility, judicious use of oak, and precision of the wines.

This is the estate riesling, from a blend of all the parcels - a single vineyard riesling is also produced, called the Nadja's Vineyard Riesling. These wines all have incredible balance and focus. This bottle showed extremely well with only 9 or 10 months of cellaring, similar to the Thirty Bench Riesling. Lots of minerality on the nose, from limestone to musky lanolin cream, to wet rock. Very ripe riesling fruit, tangy citrus and peach. On the palate, the acidity tingles, underneath a velvety and full texture. Long finish. A delicious, delicious wine, that gained in complexity and richness on the second day.

Flat Rock and Thirty Bench are located in two appellations, Twenty Mile Bench and Beamsville Bench, respectively. From these two early tastings, it seems that Twenty Mile is bigger, fuller and with more warmth. Beamsville shows as more racier, more aggressive and steely. Fascinating. Will these two areas complement each other, à la Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and Rheingau? We'll see, as I have a few more bottles of each wine - only time will tell.

Victoria Day, 2009

Dinner with friends tonight. Nothing fancy, but it was a good meal. Coors to drink. Sigh, I know, I know.

My goodness, this long weekend just flew by. Maybe that's why I don't feel well-rested.

This week should be exciting. A big release coming up, and will be ordering my camera soon.

And, conference finals should be awesome. I have Cleveland in 5, and Los Angeles in 6.

Gasp....Air Miles fraud?

Read this shit: Liquor store workers caught stealing Air Miles

Are you kidding me? How petty do you have to be to try and steal Air Miles? From what I understand , these clowns were swiping their own cards when they rang people through their purchases, if the customers didn't present their own Air Miles card. If you're going to steal, be more creative. It's not worth it man, it's just not worth it. Not when it translates at, what, one Air Mile per $20 spent? Not worth it.

I was scared that it was Vintages doing this shit. That might hurt. When you're making single purchases running into 4 digits, Air Miles count for something. Per the average wine drinker, the usual basket of $7 Australian plonk just isn't worth the effort.

Cannes

Cannes Film Festival. What I wouldn't give to be back in Cannes, sitting at Chez Astoux, enjoying a platter of No. 4 fines de claires and a pan-seared dorade......Life among the rich and snooty.

NCE 196

NCE 189

Alone

I keep insisting that you should never drink alone. Wine is a social experience above all - you should drink it in the company of friends, and contemplate and talk about it to fully appreciate it. But sadly, I was drinking alone tonight.

At least the riesling was spectacular. Ripe, minerally, and tingly...a devastatingly seductive wine.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Double-header

Lots of basketball to watch today. L.A. and Houston at 3:30.

Drank a lovely bottle of riesling last night, notes to follow. I think for now, my point and shoot Canon IXY will have to do.

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Blogger's note:

9:16 pm: L.A./Houston was a bit anticlimactic, no? Rockets kind of rolled over, but the Lakers, when focussed, are a powerhouse. Kobe only scoring 14? No need to dominate when Gasol is gangbanging all comers in the paint.

Halftime of the Orlando/Boston game. Officiating is horrific. Dwight Howard just picked up 2 idiotic fouls. Still has no post moves. You're making millions a year, you can't develop an 8 foot jumper?

Finishing up the riesling, I think I'm in the mood for some port later. Hope everyone's having a dandy long weekend.

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10:43 pm: Boom! There goes Boston. Orlando put this away in the 3rd quarter. Turkoglu was big. So was Pietrus. You know why Boston lost? Karma, mes amis. Karma for Garnett being such a wanker, and karma for Marbury holding New York ransom for $20 million and collecting a paycheque for sitting on his ass while regular hard working folks are struggling in this economy.

Not that it matters for Orlando. Cleveland in 5.

Investment

Has it really been that long already? Just around Christmas, I wrote about Rocky lending me his Nikon D70. Have I really been using it for 5+ months? My goodness. Anyways, playtime's over. Time to get my own.

Thanks very much Rocky. The photos here have been much improved from my cell phone pics - what am I going to use now?

Going to have to work out a budget for $1500. Come on tax return, counting on you!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ahh, Château Latour!

As I wait anxiously by the phone for confirmation from Vintages that my order for 2008 Château Latour is completed, let's look at some of the notes on Latour from a variety of wine writers. Some I like, some......well, let's just say everyone has a different palate. But then again, Latour doesn't exactly need a lot of flowery prose to move its wines. It won me over by being the first Premier Cru estate to release its prices, and LCBO is releasing them at a 40% reduction from 2007, which is fantastic. This was probably my best opportunity to obtain a wine of this stature - I made up my mind to go for it a long time ago. The next 2 months will really test my budgeting skills. I don't want to think about it, but the price for 3 bottles is quite obscene, if you think about it rationally. Good thing I'm not a rational person.

chateau-latour

Tasting notes below, with the writer's score and name in red:

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Offers currant and blackberry aromas, with hints of flowers. Starts as a slow attack on the palate, then builds with superpolished tannins and pretty fruit, offering berries and mineral. Long and caressing. 91-94pt, James Suckling

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A blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot and representing 40% of the production, this Latour has a ripe blackcurrant nose, cedar, crushed stones, just a hint of sous-bois. Full-bodied on the palate, very fine tannins, ripe blackberry, dark plum, a touch of spice, cedar, very “Cabernet”. Masculine, but very well poised. Minerally towards the finish. Like the Les Forts de Latour, there is an aloofness about it but it certainly a little sulky on the finish. Hopefully it will gain a greater sense of purpose and ebullience throughout its élevage. Tasted April 2009. 92-95pt, Neal Martin

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Black-red, terrific expression of blackcurrant fruit, slightly smoky and already complex, really fine floral fruit, really fine clear depth and length, a tight style, firm and classic, full of energy and savoury fruit, excitingly precise, tannins in perfect balance. Drink 2018-40. 19.5 points, Decanter

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Damn me for saying it, but I actually think the 2008 Latour will turn out to be even better than the 2005 or 2000. I still have a weakness for the 2003, but it is somewhat atypical in how forward, fleshy, and opulent it is. The 2008 Latour is a more concentrated version of the 1996, and that’s saying something…The natural alcohol of 13.48% may be the highest ever achieved at Latour. The final blend is 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Moreover, in a low yield year, only 40% of the production made it into the grand vin, so even with the global economic crisis, this is going to be a tightly allocated wine – with under 10,000 cases produced. A fabulous infant, it exhibits an inky/purple color as well
as extraordinarily pure notes of creme de cassis, crushed rocks, and flowers. The fact that there is no hint of oak is a testament to the vintage’s density and richness. The wine possesses full-bodied power as well as a boatload of tannin, and it is even more backward than Lafite Rothschild. Nevertheless, the hallmark of a great wine and potentially top-notch vintage
is the sweetness of the tannin, and that is evident. The wine is young, unevolved, and incredibly pure (another hallmark of this unexpectedly magical vintage) with an amazingly long, textured, layered finish. It should be forgotten for 5-8 years, and consumed over the following four decades. Drink 2014-2054. Score – 96-98. Robert Parker

Please

...let today be interesting.

Hail!!

Fresh off the Winedoctor, this report from Bordeaux:

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Hail in Bordeaux: Vineyards Devastated

Reported in Sud-Ouest on Wednesday, May 13th: a huge hailstorm on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning this week appears to have devastated a number of Bordeaux vineyards. Quoted in the article is Catherine Dufour, deputy director of the Chambre d'Agriculture de la Gironde, who indicates that St Emilion and Graves are the better known areas to be hardest-hit, with more damage in the Entre-Deux-Mers, Côtes de Castillon and Côtes de Bordeaux appellations.

Tuesday night's storm came soon after a stormy Monday afternoon characterised by gigantic hailstones (see image on right, courtesy of Sud-Ouest). The vines won't yet be in flower, but they are in leaf and it appears many have been denuded of all greenery and in some cases even the wood has been damaged; that isn't surprising looking at the size of the hailstones, and at some of the other pictures on Sud-Ouest which in some cases show damage sustained to local properties (broken glass or exterior light fittings, for instance). With that level of damage to the vines this obviously has implications for the 2009 harvest, but perhaps the 2010 harvest as well. There are already reports emerging over some properties having lost up to 90% of the 2009 harvest, including some famous names in St Emilion. So far there is no news of any damage in Pomerol.

An updated report on Sud-Ouest today (Thursday 14th) does indeed suggest some vignerons will have lost the entire harvest; Joël Duffau, of the Entre-Deux-Mers estate Chateau La Mothe du Barry, explains how in five minutes a resplendently green vineyard was laid to waste. It is less well known vignerons like this who suffer most in this sort of catastrophe; famous estates have funds in reserve, old vintages to sell, or perhaps more willing creditors, but little family-run estates in less prestigious appellations who work hand-to-mouth, year-on-year, are the first to go under. I hope this isn't the case for Joël Duffau and his neighbours. (14/5/09)

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I hope my beloved Côtes de Castillon wines are safe. Always respect the power of nature.

弯弯的月亮

A bit 1980's, but I love this song's lyrics and this singer is one of the greatest musical talents China has ever produced.

Definitely brings back some memories, and makes me think of my hometown.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A glass

DSC_3361

Sometimes you need to do more of this, than this.

Switching personality

It's been a tumultuous week, to say the least. A lot of strange shit going on, and I'm glad it's over. Long weekend!

Don't be f*cking petty. Trivial shit isn't worth anyone's time, and no one notices this kind of nonsense anyways. Biding my time.

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Stepped into LCBO yesterday to pick up a catalogue and ended up with a bottle of wine. 2004 Château Chants de Faizeau, AC Montagne St-Émilion. Is this the second wine of Château Faizeau? I don't know. At $15 and from one of my favourite vintages, it's worth trying.

Next release should be exciting. Lots of New World wines to be trying, as well as some reliable Spanish Rioja.

2006 New York

2006 Shalestone Vineyards

2006 Shalestone Vineyards Merlot, New York

Important things first - there's no such thing as a New York appellation in the U.S. The reason it says New York is because this wine is made from a blend of grapes from the Finger Lakes and Long Island. This is an abomination in wine. Just not right - it's perfectly proper to blend different varietals, or different parcels, or different vineyards, but from two completely different areas? Abomination. It's like trying to get a human to mate with a gorilla. Just not right.

I visited this winery last year, when I went down to the Finger Lakes. Rob Thomas is certainly one of the more interesting wine characters I've ever met, with a healthy dose of craziness and recklessness with respect to accepted conventions. He produces only red wines - the winery's motto is, aptly, Red is all we do.

This merlot was not my choice. I found Rob's cabernet franc to be absolutely incredible - great density and concentration, but with a freshness and varietal character that you don't find in a lot of American wines. Anyways, with respect to this merlot - not a good example of what Rob can do. Besides the absolute fraud of sourcing fruit from Long Island, the wine just doesn't feel genuine.

The wine has a light red sheen, which is a good sign. Listed alcohol of 12.9%. Nose of confected fruit, candied strawberry, creaminess from the oak, and a developing graphite minerality. Oak overwhelms the fruit, which isn't fresh to begin with. On the palate, the elements just don't marry well together. It's at once insipid and overripe, sweet and bitter. Just doesn't work.

Not a good wine. Which is disappointing, because I really like Rob. The bottle of cabernet franc is still resting in the cellar - I have a feeling it won't let me down.

Creativity blurs insanity

Wine writers are a creative lot. You have to be, to describe wines using the same taste adjectives. In any case, Robert Parker takes things to a whole new level. Read this, for La Confession, a great wine of St. Émilion:

2008 La Confession

This is an amazing effort among the many dazzling 2008 St.-Emilions. Proprietor Jean-Philippe Janoueix (who appears to be in his mid-thirties) has produced a riveting wine from a blend of 66% Merlot and 34% Cabernet Franc that tips the scales at 13.8% natural alcohol. Janoueix, an advocate of high density vine plantings, has fashioned a 2008 with sensational fruit levels, an inky ruby/purple color, stunning texture (akin to a Shanghai skyscraper), and tremendous purity. Despite 100% malolactic in new French oak, and aging in the weird looking cigar-shaped barrels, the oak is well-concealed by the wine’s wealth of fruit and concentration. Chocolate, charcoal, blackberry, and blueberry aromas and flavors dominate this sensational effort. It possesses high tannins, but, like so many of the top wines of this vintage, they are sweet and ripe. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2020+. 92-94pt R.Parker

Read the highlighted portion. "Shanghai skyscraper"? Really?? You're comparing the texture of the wine to a tall structure of steel and concrete? And Shanghai? Why not New York, or Chicago, or Dubai? Shanghai? Make no mistake, hometown love counts a great deal to me, but this tasting note is frankly, full of shit.

Just another example of an aging, out of touch, self-serving writer who's been privileged with too easy access to Bordeaux's greatest wines.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Carlsberg, imaged

Some photos from the event, taken by the greatest and most exquisite photographer in the world, Rocky. Posts about the event, below.


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Carlsberg Pilsner

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Before I forget what I'm supposed to be doing here, some notes on the actual beer.

I enjoy Carlsberg. Not particularly intellectually stimulating, but sometimes your palate needs to take it easy. Light colour, decent head. Carlsberg beer has that smoothness on the palate, finishing with a nutty, bitter edge and slight hoppy flavour.

I must say, I find the new bottle design absolutely hideous. With no label, it reeks of the whole I have nothing to hide schtick. The curvy bottle shape doesn't help either. When I drink from the bottle, I want to look manly. The gentle hips and waist aren't exactly testosterone-y.

This is a good beer for large gatherings. It won't hold up to intense scrutinizing, but it's a decent, albeit simple, beer that won't offend anyone. And of course, the enlightened ones will meet me in the kitchen so we can share a glass or two of riesling, while the hordes who prefer mass-market, industrialized brews make merry outside.

Carlsberg, courtesies

Carlsberg poker

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Last Friday, courtesy of Matchstick, I hosted an event, in honour of Carlsberg pilsner. Carlsberg is one of the strongest beer brands internationally, and seem to have a chokehold on anything football (the real football, where you use your feet) related. So, with great excitement, I agreed to have a few friends over, and see if the beer in the bottle matched all the hype promised amidst all the glitz and glamour.

The lure of free beer proved to be strong. To the character that showed up to sign for a case and then promptly scurry away without so much as a thank you............you're welcome. There was a surprisingly huge box of Carlsberg branded items left for us - I'll never have to buy another bottle opener again.

To make this relevant, let's ask ourselves a question. Is a dinner where only beer is served better than a dinner with wine? Can a definitive answer be provided? I don't think so. Depending on context, food served, the season - beer may plausibly be a worthy substitute for wine.

Carlsberg? Sure. As I was discussing with a friend before dinner, beer satisfies a different sensual experience than wine does. You very rarely want a wine to be thirst-quenching, but that's often the case with beer. It seems that the ability of beer to be refreshing and palate-cleansing is often a more valued property than its specific flavour profile. And in this context, Carlsberg excels. Easy-drinking, thirst-quenching, non-offensive light flavours that pair easily with a wide variety of dishes.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

1986 Porto

1986 Dow's

1986 Dow's Colheita Port

Colheita port is one of my weaknesses. Quite irresistible. This port was bottled in 2008, giving it 22 years in cask. Since the general rule of thumb is to consume these wines within a year of bottling, it provided the perfect excuse to open. And really, you can never drink too many wines from your birth year.

Havn't finished it yet, so I will supplement these notes as I continue tasting. Upon opening, this wine has a luminous, almost fiery orange robe. A bit amber, but quite reddish in the core. Evident youth. Much fresher on the nose than the 1980 and 1981 Colheita ports I've tasted. There's the caramel and dried dates, but also some fresh red berries and floral elements.

On the palate, there's good acidity with great velvety texture and weight. Long, ethereal finish. A bit rough from the brandy, but I expect it to smooth out with air.

I love these wines. Sturdy drinks, that've seen oxygen all their lives. Truly, one of the great sweet wines of the world.

Jet planes and flash

Sigh...beautiful day today, and then it had to rain in the evening. There goes that flawless polish on my car.

Dinner included a massive pan-seared steak au poivre, paired with a glass of 1986 Dow's Colheita Port. It works - great piece of beef and a sublime, old port.

Picked up my father from the airport. Finally repatriated that bottle of scotch from my uncle's. Will discuss it in detail later, but that bottle of scotch is very old, and very important to the family.

This is turning into a blockbuster week. VintagesOnline release today, although nothing spectacular. A lot of Argentinian wine - very, very, expensive Argentinian wines.

Also a great surprise - one of my uncles gave us another bottle of 8 year Shaoxing wine.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

2007 Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

2007 Scharzhof

2007 Egon Müller Scharzhof Riesling, QbA Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

The third wine of the night. I knew I was going to love this - riesling is one of those varietals that are just as delicious when young as they are when mature. The 2007 vintage was exceptional as well - these are wines that will age very well.

Disregarding reputation, I feel that the Mosel produces greater rieslings than the Rheingau. The wines have such tension in them - this balance of racy acidity and steely minerality. They seem to be too aggressive to coalesce, but somehow, the marriage blossoms after 7 or 8 years in the bottle. Add an excellent vintage like 2007, with ripe fruit, and you get one of the more profound wine experiences of the world.

As in tune with its age, this wine had a pale robe of light yellow gold. Very expressive nose for such youth - minerals and wet rock, citrus and peach. Beautiful. Perfect amounts of residual sugar in the mouth, with all the tingle and sparkle of young riesling on the tongue. A long, gorgeous finish. Absolutely balanced, at 9.5% alcohol, with great character and verve.

So delicious, in fact. My favourite wine of the night, and a perfect complement to the Thirty Bench. Niagara wines are great, but the rieslings still have decades to go before they become this profound.

Junmai Ginjo

Hakutsuru

Hakutsuru Junmai Ginjo Sake

Continuing on Saturday, the next bottle we opened was, naturally, a sake. We were eating a lot of sushi and sashimi, and of course, what grows together goes together.

Junmai Ginjo refers to the grade of sake. The rice used to make it has to be milled before fermentation, and the more it's polished, the higher the grade of sake it will produce. This particular grade, Junmai Ginjo, means that the rice has been polished to at least 60% (40% of the rice grain has been polished off), as well as fermented at colder temperatures for a longer period of time. It produces a fragrant sake, with no added alcohol, and is generally just a grade below the most premium sake, Junmai Daiginjo.

This particular sake showed well. Flowery on the nose, there's good sweetness on the palate. Finished with a distinct rice character, that any Chinese person familiar with rice spirits will recognize. Elegant, and married well with the fish. Perfect at cooler temperatures.

I don't understand sake, but this is a good introduction to premium examples. Another review, from Vinicultured: A Wine Blog.

2008 Bordeaux En Primeur First Offer

As I alluded to earlier, today was the most important wine-related day of the year for me. The reason? LCBO released their first offer, for the 2008 Bordeaux En Primeur campaign. PDF here.

The prices, on a whole, did go down substantially. This markdown was expected, as all the news from the English wine press indicated, as well as the ex-Château prices released. It was all very welcome, considering the marked increase in quality for the 2008 vintage, relative to 2007. I paid a lot of money last year for the 2007's, for wine that may or may not be barely mediocre. I was mindful to be very judicious in selecting wines to buy this year.

The wines I was most interested in were the First Growths. Prices were different across the board, which was a departure from the normally common price commanded by all 5. In any case, I was very pleased to see Latour being sold for $345 a bottle. Relatively small allocation as well - only 118 lots, or 354 bottles.

No St-Émilion offered this time, and very little Pomerol. Sent in my order literally about 30 minutes after they posted the catalogue online. You know, I realized - I'm like a druggie itching for a fix when it comes to this stuff. I was shaking today, as I was going through it. Buying rare wines is a disease man, it's a disease.

Anyways, I showed great restraint. My order:

Latour, AC Pauillac
Chasse-Spleen, AC Moulis-en-Médoc
Gazin, AC Pomerol
Lafleur-Gazin, AC Pomerol

Three bottles of each. I won't list the prices. Too déclassé. But, I did order a single lot of Latour. Told you I would!

Unwell

I don't feel well. Just feel strange, nervous, tired, dizzy.....losing my appetite, energy draining. But I will trudge on and continue blogging.

2007 Beamsville Bench

2007 Thirty Bench

2007 Thirty Bench Riesling, VQA Beamsville Bench.

I'm written very enthusiastically about this producer, as you can see here, here, and here. One of the finest rieslings produced in Niagara, and in my opinion, the New World.

The first wine of the night, Saturday.

This wine has only had about 9 or so months of bottle age. It seemed to have advanced quite quickly for such a short period of time. Light, pale colour, but an intense musky, minerally nose, with lots of citrus and ripe riesling fruit. Linear on the palate, but there's a generosity to it that speaks very much of the clay it's grown on. The typical Niagara acidity there, but it doesn't quite have the bite of the Mosel riesling we tasted later on. Excellent length.

Such a delicious wine. Soulful, true to its terroir. I'm really curious to see how it'll evolve with some serious age on it. And this is just their humble, blended riesling - I tremble at the thought of how much excitement their single-vineyard bottlings will bring?

Monday, May 11, 2009

2007 Sicilia

2007 Feudo Montoni

2007 Feudo Montoni Grillo, IGT Sicilia.

I'm beginning to love obscure Sicilian white wines more and more. I find them infinitely more interesting than their red counterparts, mostly due to their balance and rich texture.

I drank this bottle over two days, opening on Friday. I don't think my friend really liked it, but I'm very enthusiastic about this wine. I can understand why though...it's a rustic wine, and the style that I'm hoping to turn my friends towards.

This is a pale wine - light yellow in the core, but almost clears at the rim. Ripe citrus and sweet tangerine. Incredible amounts of silky, rich, wagyu beef fat in the mouth. Great texture.

Sicilian's know what they're doing, in terms of white wines. Look out.

Zzz...

...I'm falling asleep. Lots of crap going on today. Made me so nervous I couldn't even work out today. Just too nervous. And tired.

I think I need to sleep early today. Have no fear, I will have the photos up soon.

Big day tomorrow!! Can you guess why?

Sudsy clean

There's something oddly therapeutic about washing the car. I get funny looks from my neighbours when I use a toothbrush to polish my rims, and obsessively wipe down every panel on every surface at least 3 times.

Dirty cars drive me crazy. I don't understand why you would eat inside your car. Sticky consoles don't exactly add character to the interior. The next time my father eats inside, I'm cutting off his left ear. Stains took me 12 sheets of paper towel and a good half hour to wipe clean.

Take care of your car, and she'll take care of you.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A good weekend

Upper Canada Dark Ale

Upper Canada Dark Ale

Dinner at a friend's tonight - fantastic that I didn't have to cook for both dinners this weekend. Good, simple, flavoursome food. Downed with a dark ale. Not particular, but certainly a serviceable ale. But the best part of tonight? I managed to unload that dreadful bottle of Yellowtail to our unsuspecting host. He really liked it though...two thumbs up, for the both of us!

It was a good weekend.

Busy

Putting all the photos together, have to get to work! Woke up early today (for a Sunday) - 10:30. Kind of lazed in bed, with one thing on my mind. Wonder what it is..................

What...

This is awful, it's going to affect my sleep now. Wanted to see the scores in the West semi-finals, and not only did Houston lose, Yao Ming fractured his left foot again. This is terrible news. My compatriot is breaking down, and he's not yet 30. This time, I hope he really takes recovery the right way, with lots of rest. The national team screwed him over by rushing him to play for the Olympics, and he's paying for the lack of rest now. Will he be able to still walk by the age of 40? It's an awful feeling, to see a genuinely good person suffer like this.

Beer, signed

Everyone's gone, the glasses have been washed, table cleared - I think I pulled this thing off. It was strange for me. I don't really put together these kinds of gatherings. Maybe a bit lame to have everyone pretend to be jovial, but it was all in good fun, and besides...it was work for me, not play.

To bed. It's far, far past my bedtime.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Breakfast of champions

Woke up today to the pitter-pattering of light hail and thunder. Beautiful. Ate breakfast as I watched the downpour. April babies love the rain. Coffee and bagel, finished off with a glass of 1986 Dow's Colheita Port.

That's how you start a day off properly.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Our own Judgement of Paris?

Woke up to this article in the Star: 'Pirate' Niagara wine beats world’s best.

I havn't been quiet about my enthusiasm for Le Clos Jordanne. I've had an in-depth look at this producer, and I'm now convinced more than ever of the greatness that Niagara can achieve. But read the Star article first. For a wine-related article, the comments are exploding. The neophytes are going crazy, and while their hearts are in the right place, no one on that board knows a thing about wine, much less what ''winning'' this competition means for Le Clos Jordanne and Niagara.

This article implies that by showing favourably at this competition, Le Clos Jordanne and Niagara wine are conclusively better than its French and Californian counterparts. That is the worst spin you could put on the event. What's more egregious is that these types of articles do not present Niagara in a positive light - this method of evaluating wine is simply inherently flawed.

Firstly, where in the article does it list the other wines tasted? Were they Grand Cru Burgundy? Carneros or Russian River Valley chardonnay? The Claystone Terrace Chardonnay was shown at this tasting, so can we assume that all the other wines were in the same price range? Were they comparable in any other way? What order were they tasted? Were they similar vintages? Were the tasters more concerned with determining the provenance of the wines? You see, the grey area in these types of tastings is too large to resolutely determine the absolute superiority of a wine over another. Simply put, on this day, Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay showed extremely well, but one cannot make the statement that it is a better wine than either the French or Californian bottles.

The second issue, and the one that disturbs me the most, is the fact that the author makes the assertion that Le Clos Jordanne is indistinguishable from white Burgundy. This is absolutely ridiculous, and an irresponsible claim. As Ms. Walsh articulated very clearly to me, Le Clos Jordanne strives to make a Twenty Mile Bench wine first, and foremost. Yes, there is extensive use of French savoir-faire and tradition, but the terroir comes first. Le Clos Jordanne should not aim to mimic French wines. They don't need to, because the wines are exceptional and unique. This claim of being very French does a disservice to Bachelder, and everyone involved in Le Clos Jordanne.

In any case, as long as people are supporting Niagara, that's a positive step. We don't need to be defensive about our wines - they speak for themselves. We do however, need to begin being more confident in our own style of wines. And please, stop referring to the wines as 'pirate' wines. Le Clos Jordanne is much more noble than that.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Disaster

This is what happens, when there's no respect for personal space in the house. My mother seems to think that there is no fundamental difference between a closed bathroom door and an open one. Consequently, either scenario is an invitation to barge in, no matter what I'm doing.

The aftermath? When you scare me as I'm applying a bandage, something bad is going to happen. Like dumping a whole box of bandages into the toilet. 80 new bandages, splattered and soaked.

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I went to sleep with a bandage on my cheek. How did said bandage end up firmly wrapped around my left thumb?

In 2 days..

...I will be hosting the big event. A preview:

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carlsberg

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I especially like this last one. Togetherness. I can see us taking a photo in precisely these poses.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ahh, Chablis

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See, this is why I love Asimov's writing. His blog piece, Looking Past Burgundy to Chablis.

I absolutely adore Chablis. Chardonnay is a noble varietal, but too often, it's made in a fat, blowsy style, with no charm and little character. Aging sur lie is not a true representation of great chardonnay! It's mainly a crutch, as is excessive oak, to mimic the nuances of true terroir.

Great Chablis is chiseled and austere. I love wines with high acidity, and Chablis satisfies cravings for aggressive, racy wines of great clarity and personality. They showcase the chardonnay grape in all its glory - there's a great buttery, creamy texture, and when the fruit is ripe, the wine is profound.

On top of all that, Chablis can be relatively inexpensive, alongside other white Burgundy. Waiting patiently for the 2007's to arrive...

Coming soon!

Stay tuned. Next week, May 12, will be the most important wine-related date of the year for me. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Orange, Part II

I was excited this weekend after I bought my first pair of shoes in almost 3 years. There was an issue with size, so I got them to hold another size for me. Guess what happened? I walked into Holt with a new pair of shoes, and returned empty handed.

My fault. I, like an idiot, somehow asked for a size 40, even though I'm conclusively a size 41. Shit. The shoes I saw today were the proper size, but for some reason, were two different shades of orange and clearly worn. I'm not paying $250 for a used, mismatched pair of shoes.

So, back to where I started. Imbecile!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Smoking

NCE 060

I'm content with what's happened in my life in these past 6 months but there's always this feeling that things have become so mundane and just.......boring. Routine is great, until it begins to suck.

I desperately need some excitement in my life. Maybe I take up smoking again? Learn how to ride a motorcycle? Wear a leather jacket? Who knows what might happen........

Classics Collection - May 2009

Vintages Classics

Oh, this is torture. Just torture.

Got my new Classics catalogue today, and surprise, its filled with fantastic wines that are priced far out of my budget. Anyone want to chip in for a $400 Champagne? How about a $200 Côte de Nuits? Anyone?

I think I'll sit this one out. Be back with my wishlist shortly.

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Dammit. And I wanted to begin buying more Burgundy.

2006 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père & Fils, AC Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru - $119
2006 Domaine Henri Gouges, AC Les Pruliers Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru - $75
2006 Lucien Le Moine, AC Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru - $350
2006 Bonneau De Martray, AC Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru - $165
2006 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot, AC Les Vergers Clos Saint Marc Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru - $109
2006 Domaine de la Vougeraie, AC Le Charlemagne Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru - $199
2006 Domaine des Malandes, AC Les Clos Chablis Grand Cru - $69
1997 Bollinger R.D. Extra Brut Champagne - $219
1995 Dom Pérignon Oenothèque Brut Champagne - $399

Sigh...I need to come back as a prince in my next life.

If these names alone seem complicated (never mind the 3-digit prices), they aren't. If a Burgundy says "1er Cru", then it means the wine may be marginally affordable if the producer is average to good. But if the wine is a "Grand Cru", then it's the vinous equivalent to a Victoria's Secret model. You can fantasize and imagine all you want, until you come to a sad realization - they're so far out of your league that a catalogue is as good as its going to get.

That's a beautiful shot of Romanée-Conti on the cover though.

Sigh, NBC

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My favourite drama on tv, Kings, is floundering. Was bounced around, from Sunday evening, to Saturday, and its now just been postponed until June 13. What a shame. One of the good shows on tv. I don't understand how a steaming pile of shit like Rock of Love gets played out, but a creative, captivating epic can't find an audience. Says something about North American tastes, when you'd rather watch a show filled with walking STD's instead of well-written, true characters.