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.
I recently heard New Years Resolutions referred to as a “to-do” list for the first week of January. Personally, I love the NYR.
I’ve been asking around to see if any people have NYRs concerning wine drinking and buying. Here are the responses I received.
Editor of a “large” metropolitan newspaper, “I resolve to find ‘the’ wine that both my wife and I enjoy.” My solution – stop trying to find a wine you both enjoy and open 2 bottles.
Linktrap John, “Pay attention to food and wine pairings chocolate” – and then he sent me a photo of a Merlot with a Toblerone. Sorry John, I can’t help you.
My brother-in-law, “Drink more of your wine ” – Hey, I may borrow that and try and drink more of other people’s wines too.
My daughter, “Dad, I don’t even drink wine” – fair enough.
This year I resolve to drink more Rioja, Côtes du Rhône, and Australian Shiraz. Like my friend Rob said, “Hey, those our resolutions every year?” – fair enough.
What are your resolutions?
The weather couldn’t be cooperating less these days. It should be stinkin’ hot outside and I should be sipping rosé. My well laid plans seem to have been spoiled by something called a “Northern low” brought down by the “Jet Stream”, or whatever the Weather Network people are talking about.
Last night I sat in my living room, windows open, cold evening air coming in to an already cool house. ”Is it even warm enough to open that rosé chilling in the fridge?” I asked my wife.
“Close the windows and open the rosé” was her response. I did marry her for her problem solving skills.
LA VIEILLE FERME COTES DU VENTOUX ROSE*
LCBO 622134 | SEASONAL/LIMITED QUANTITIES
Price $ 10.95
Whenever I feel like my wine selection has gone off the map I go back to a Côtes du Rhône. Really any CDR will do.
Whenever I feel like my perspective on wine has gone astray and I start using flowery descriptive words I go back to Billy Munnelly – my wine guru / sansei / Yoda.
Billy’s back with a fresh new web site and a great Facebook feed of wine recommendations and descriptions. His last recommendation that I acted on was the Chateau Hauchat Fronsac – a Bordeaux for under $15. I bought 6!
Check out Billy’s “Wine by Mood” – the cleverest thing ever written about wine.
Who is Billy? Billy is my favourite wine writer – funny, irreverent, slightly silly, and a man who appreciates a good glass of wine (although I suspect that it seldom stops at one glass).
What’s not to like about this man?
I am the first to admit that I usually don’t notice details. One night I asked my wife about the new lamps on our bedside tables only to find out that they had been there for 2 months! I also confess that I put my wife’s hair appointments in my iPhone calendar so that I “notice” that her hair looks nice.
Out with the old
So little wonder last week that I stood with a quizzical stare at a wine bottle in the France section of the LCBO. One of my favourites looked like they had either lost a little weight or gotten taller – or both.
Cellier des Dauphins has finally abandoned the old squatty brandy shaped bottle for a classic sleek Côtes du Rhône bottle. I guess I’m a little disappointed – I liked the unique shape. However, maybe more people will buy the “normal” look and hey, this is a great wine
CELLIER DES DAUPHINS CARTE NOIRE COTES DU RHONE LCBO 110197 Price $ 9.95 until April 1
In with the new
Everybody is looking for a good deal when it comes to wine. I used to look for the best wine under $10 but then after finding that I naturally wanted the best wine under $15 – because really, it probably is better than the best $10 wine. So I looked for a promoted wine.
Sometimes wines get promoted to a more lofty status. Here’s how it works in France – well at in the Rhône anyways. The lowest class is Côtes-du-Rhône … then to Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages …and then the villages get to add their name to the label if they are really good … then the Rhone villages gets its own AOC status - “Rhône Cru”- that’s big time! Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the biggest.
Some of favorite expensive wines are Rhône Cru – Vacqueyras runs $20, Gigondas $25, and Châteauneuf $40. My new friend Vinsobres was promoted in 2006, runs $15 and is a steal – a steal I say.
So find a newly promoted Rhône wine today – look for a Vinsobres or a Rasteau (promoted in 2010) and get real value for your coin.
We attended the first Christmas party of the year – the hosts denied it was a Christmas party but really, it’s December for pity’s sake. It felt all Christmas-y to me. I was very impressed with the wine selection. Hosts C&J claimed to have just purchased whatever was on sale on the end aisles at the wine store. I have my suspicions that they knew exactly what they were doing. Either way, this is a good recipe for selecting party wines. Or you can buy inexpensive bottles with cute animals on the label – that might go over well too.
Start with bubbly - "Tiny bubbles in the wine" and all that - Prosecco from Italy is much cheaper than Champagne from France
Côtes du Rhône is the backbone of your selections - who can argue with French red?
A second Côtes du Rhône makes it look like you really know what you are doing
There are sure to be Italians at any party - don't risk offending them - have a "vino rustico" on hand
American Zinfandel is an intersting alternative to an all-European lineup- "He must know what he's doing serving Zinfandel at a party"
Bring it on Louis Bernard – I challenge you to a throwdown.
I’ve got a Weinfrischhalter Geschenskset and I’m not afraid to use it. Truth be known I look forward to it. With my “WG” I can open two bottles and compare. I have a limited taste memory and I’m hoping that this “training” will improve it.
Louis Bernard makes both the Côtes du Rhône at $12.95 and the Réserve de Bonpas at $13.95. Both wines are the GSM blend – Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre – and I decided to open them last night. So what do you get for a dollar more? A way cool label that looks like a $45 wine label and more dried herbs in the taste. The Réserve de Bonpas was also darker and more refined but the Côtes du Rhône had the earthiness that I like in a Rhône wine. I liked them both but my “WG” made comparing them more cost-effective.
Hooray that my Weinfrischhalter Geschenskset saved both my bottles for another day and helped me in my taste training plan.
LA ROMAINE COTES DU RHONE VILLAGES VENUS, Southern Rhone
LCBO 28779 |Price: $ 12.95
“When we read we begin with A-B-C, when we drink we begin with Cotes-Du-Rhone” - paraphrasing Julie Andrews. My favorite wine writer, Billy Munnelly, starts his Wine Boot Camp with a Cotes du Rhone (but not this one). He says that if you understand Cotes du Rhone then you understand most of the world’s red wines. I believe him (mostly because he has authored a book and I haven’t).
Syrah and Grenache : Spice and Fruit. Each grape in this wine adds its character that has made them favorites in Spain, Australia, and in North America. Produced right in the same region as Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and Chateauneuf du Pape at a fraction of the price. Pretend that you are drinking a $50 bottle and act a little snobby if you like. The French would love it if you did.