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.
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.