Author Archives: Travis Oke

About Travis Oke

Wine writer / consultant

In the Spirit of things

Sometimes I get in the spirit of sophistication and order a martini.  There are many great quotes about the Martini.  Gin or Vodka is a question for another time.

“A man must defend his home, his wife, his children, and his martini.”
Jackie Gleason

“He knows just how I like my martini – full of alcohol.”
Homer Simpson

”I had never tasted anything so cool and clean.” “They made me feel civilized.”
Ernest Hemingway novel Farewell to Arms.

“I never go jogging, it makes me spill my martini.”
George Burns

With this in mind I visited Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers in Beamsville, ON.  I had already purchased the White Rye from the LCBO but wanted to have a go at the Gin and the Eau de Vie. The Gin is a botanical lovers dream – delicate enough that I think the gin martini made with it should be straight. That’s so dry that you aren’t even allowed to think the word Vermouth while pouring it.  The people at Dillon’s also have a little bit of fun on their website – PulltheCork approved fun! In their Spirit descriptors they mention Papa Hemingway, Khan [the Mongolian ruler not the Star Trek guy], Smith and Wesson, and generally entertain throughout. Their collection of bitters would make any mixologist giggle like a school girl – well maybe only if they liked making cocktails – but you get the point.

If you are driving down the QEW past Beamsville stop in and have a look – their tasting room is simply stunning. Otherwise stop in at the LCBO – the Gin is dang good.

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DILLON’S GIN 22 UNFILTERED 
LCBO 358556 | 750 mL bottle Price $ 39.95 

DILLON’S THE WHITE RYE 
LCBO 337600 | 750 mL bottle Price $ 37.95 


El Niño – a hot, dry summer

I am currently looking for summer. I read a funny comic last week that said “The first person to complain about how hot is is this summer gets a punch in the throat”. People get a little emotional waiting this long for summer.

I started looking for summer in the Spanish aisle of the LCBO.

My brother-in-Spain says that a good Spanish Rioja tastes like a hot, dry summer. When we opened this one I got a little emotional.  Maybe I miss my brother? Maybe it’s the absurdly cruel long winter that really got me? Maybe I got a piece of cork in my contact? Whatever it was, I did get a little teary at how much this wine reminded me of a hot, dry Spanish summer.

campo

CAMPO VIEJO RIOJA TEMPRANILLO
LCBO 342006 |Price $ 14.40 

Dark plum and cherry fruits with a dryness that persisted on my palate [evoking the emotional response I referred to earlier]

 


Face to a name

Just the other day I saw a man I didn’t know – at least I didn’t know that the man I was looking at was somebody that I knew. Has that ever happened to you? I guess the idiom is “putting a face to a name” and I suppose I took the long way to explain that.

One of my favourite rustic wines is the M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône. While reading the a wine magazine this weekend I saw a photo of a very friendly winemaker named Michel Chapoutier. “Hey, I know that guy” was my first thought – only to realize that I didn’t know that guy, I just read his name on the wine that I was drinking. Seemed odd to me that I thought I knew a guy just because I drank his wine.  He seems like a nice guy.

michel

See what I mean?

“Bonjour Michel, je m’appelle Travis” [I learned that in grade 7].

0321539CHAPOUTIER COTES DU RHONE VILLAGES
LCBO 321539 | Price: $ 19.45

A little more than I pay for Côtes du Rhône ordinaire but worth it. Rustic, jammy, long finish. Merci Michel. Nice to finally meet you.


Uncle Albert’s detour

Few things give me greater pleasure than mentioning Albert Einstein in my blog. Here goes …

Einstein

Hey Uncle Albert – fish are stupid!

Travis

This got me to thinking about stupid beer.  If you are going to spend your whole life drinking cheap beer then you will live your whole life believing that it is good – and that you are a genius.  If, however, you want to really be a genius then you have to try new stuff – like Muskoka Brewery’s Detour IPA. This weekend I had it on tap at Baker Street Station in Guelph and found it again in a 6-pack at the LCBO.

I think “Stop drinking stupid beer” should be on the front of the Detour IPA t-shirt.  This is a big hop ale with a clean finish that is the perfect detour from winter beer drinking to clean, genius, spring beer drinking.  I think Uncle Albert would approve.

detour-pack

And I want a kick back on the “Stop drinking stupid beer” t-shirt sales.


Who drinks espresso?

I’ve been a coffee lover for 20 years now. In my quest for a personal vice I’ve become an espresso lover.
While visiting a Starbucks [conveniently tucked inside a Chapters bookstore] I noticed someone else indulging in his espresso habit.
Look closely.

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Holy hot espresso Batman …

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It’s Batman

This is not photo-shopped – the coffee cupping caped crusader apparently loves his latte!


Biologique

The French have a way with words don’t they?  Their word for “Organic” [Biologique - Bio for short] is way cooler than ours.

Also, some believe that the word organic implies that the other products are “inorganic” – which is of course absurd.  Brother-in-Spain [a frequent commenter on this blog, relative, and birthday boy!] is still quite confused on the subject as he demonstrates on his own blog Plant Every Day.  Understandable, as he has always appeared to be smarter than me – but sometimes that gets lost in translation.

Anyhoo – I decided to go Biologique on my last shopping trip to the LCBO. I found a very tasty Côtes du Rhône and a Pinot Noir from the Sud de France. I threw in a local eco-friendly Cab Franc blend from Pelee Island just to round out the triple play.

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ROCHE BASTIDE AOC COTES DU RHONE ORGANIC
LCBO 360966 | Price $ 13.95 A sassy little bio – Grenache / Syrah blend that is quite smooth, not too sweet, and frankly delicious. This may be my vin biologique de l’été - lightly chilled the berry fruits are quite prominent but there is a rustic quality that makes me want to BBQ

O PINOT NOIR BY GILLES LOUVET ORGANIC
LCBO 292995 |Price $ 13.95  A lighter bio than the Roche Bastide with a bit more sour cherry – again, a great BBQ wine if the blasted polar vortex ever gives up his grip on the Northern Hemisphere.

PELEE ISLAND ECO TRAIL VQA
LCBO 612465 | Price $ 10.95 A touch sweeter than the other two – so great if you like that sort of thing. Lots of fruits and berries and a freakin’ cool frog on the label.  That sold me – and the Cabernet Franc heavy blend.


What the …

Stopped by the LCBO today. This was hanging on the exterior wall of the building. I’m not exactly sure what is going on here?  It looks like a Zara ad. Hey outrageously good looking [likely French] dude , watch out or that overly affectionate lady is going to spill red wine all over your new white sweater!

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Phone a Friend

I had somebody text me the other day to find out if I knew where Newcastle Brown Ale was on tap in Guelph.  She referred to me as her “phone a friend” – a reference to the Who Wants to be a Millionaire game show.

It got me to thinking – how do you find out stuff like that in your city. I think Twitter is the answer to the modern “phone a friend”.  It certainly casts a wide “friend” net.  I tweeted at a local beer guy who got back to me within minutes.  Sadly there wasn’t any on tap here in Guelph.  But I thought that Mill Street Tankhouse Ale at the Wooly was a close second.

I think I would be okay if somebody tweeted me about where to find a wine.  So go ahead – “tweet a friend” @TravisOke

#Hashtag, whatever you want it to be.

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Still Coping

Canada’s recent gold medal haul is certainly helping me cope with the polar vortex. I guess if it’s cold here we might as well get outside and skate on short tracks and get the gang together for some coed moguling.

Having neither the inclination to go upside down on skis, nor the knee cartilage to land safely on my feet, I have found my own way to come to grips with a long cold winter.

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Nothing says “summer is around the corner” like a crisp Niagara Riesling.

Also, I’ve been making cooking videos and posting them on YouTube. My daughters do the filming and the eating. Check out my food videos here – because who doesn’t need more offal in their life?


Stop everything

I’ve decided to stop writing about wine until I catch up on my shovelling.

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This winter has totally ceased to be amusing.

Speaking of “ceased” – maybe I’ll open a bottle of wine to ease my seized back.  After I write a brief letter…

Dear Weather Network,
I hate you.

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P.S. How  do I have more snow than Wawa?


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