I get distracted easily. Recently I’ve been writing about beer, cognac, chocolate, and the election. Already the title of this post, Picking Spain, has me thinking about the World Cup and not wine. Time to get back to wine – at least until something else distracts me.
As the summer draws closer my thoughts turn to my 2nd home – Spain. Okay, so it’s my brother’s home but whatever. I will be there in a month buying what the Spaniards call “el cheap wine“. The locals like it when you learn their language.
I think I should start preparing for my trip. My wife starts packing for her trip about now – deciding on her colour story [that's a real thing apparently]. I’ll start with my best selections from the LCBO Spanish wines [click for LCBO link]. My colour story is 2 reds, a white, and a rosado.
- Beronia Reserva $20- classic Rioja [Tempranillo grape] at an affordable price. Reminds me of a hot, dry Spanish summer
- Hecula $12- lighter than a Rioja made in the south from Monastrell grapes
- Marquis de Riscal $13- a crisp white for those hot days in the garden
- Muga Rosado $13- get it while you can – best pink in the store
And while I think of it … I did pick Spain to win the World Cup again. Iker!!!!!
BERONIA RESERVA - Smooth tannins. Reservas are aged for a minimum of 1 yr in oak and 2 yrs in the bottle. They cost a little more but believe me, they are worth it.
VINTAGES Essential 50203 |Price $ 19.95
I’m not always the world’s cheapest husband – but sometimes I like to see if I can save a little money and see if anyone noticed.
I have my parameters around this demi-mantra. I don’t buy cheap chicken [that seems like an unnecessary health risk] and I don’t stay in cheap hotels [same reason].
But last week I tried buying the cheapest red wine possible at the LCBO and didn’t tell my wife. And in a class re-creation of a Life cereal experiment I let my wife try it first. Guess what? “She likes it! Hey Mikey!” [if you are under the age of 40 you have no idea why I just wrote that].
Seriously a decent wine for $7.45? Hooray for the Cheap Husband!
CASAL THAULERO SANGIOVESE IGT
LCBO 588996 | Price $ 7.45
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 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]
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.
See what I mean?
“Bonjour Michel, je m’appelle Travis” [I learned that in grade 7].
CHAPOUTIER 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.
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.
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.
This blasted arctic vortex [or whatever new name the Weather Network people have created] has just about done me in. I need some sun and some summer now.
So I’ve adopted the following coping mechanisms
1. Watched a PBS documentary on the French Rivierra while…
2. Eating a delicious rabbit and black truffle pâté and …
3. Drinking a perfectly delightful [and on sale] Bordeaux
LCBO 30072 | Price $ 13.95
If you are looking for a great wine for Christmas turkey – or American Thanksgiving for my friends south of the 49th parallel – then Beaujolais Nouveau is your winner. And I have the winners from my Nouveau party this past weekend.
Any of the French wines are good [I always drink a French wine first since they were the ones that came up with the marketing scam in the first place] – although George DuBeouf’s Gamay [LCBO 891846] is a bright young wine with a bit of effervescence and is under $10. That’s a good deal.
I thought the best non-french nouveau was Chateau des Charmes Gamay [LCBO 318600] – in fact this is the one I am going back to the store to get again. It will appeal to both the locavore and the nouveau lover. Effervescent and full of bright sour cherries. The bottle will empty alarmingly quickly.
Special mention to the tasting panel of critics that hung out around the open bottles of wine at my party. I know there was a big push for the Novello to be mentioned but it tasted too much like a real wine to me. I know you’ll forgive me because you all want to be invited back next year.
The Beaujolais Nouveau is on its way and I have a bit of a sneak preview. Well at least I’m training my palate for a preview. At the very least it’s the same grape as Nouveau.
The fine folks at Chateau des Charmes in Niagara deliver this tasty Gamay 52 weeks a year. Coming soon to a store near you [if you love in Ontario] will be their “Nouveau” Gamay #jesuisarrivé13 – by far the cleverest marketing name for a wine I’ve ever seen.
Thanks Bosc family – and thanks or not naming your nouveau after a cute small animal.
CH DES CHARMES GAMAY NOIR VQA
LCBO 57349 | Price $ 12.95