Monthly Archives: April 2010

Kaçaba Unoaked Chardonnay – Local White

I normally tell people that I don’t like Chardonnay. However, that’s like saying that I don’t like small dogs – that statement is too broad.  What I mean is that I don’t like small yappy dogs that never shut up!  Sometimes I think Chardonnay is like that small annoying dog when what I really want is a well-bred, well-trained dog  to sit with me and be quiet.  I could be happy with a dog like that – a quiet miniature dachshund that is pleasant even when company rings the doorbell.

Most Chardonnays are heavily oaked (aged in barrels) and I don’t really like that in a white wine.  I want a crisp white that is subtle, has aromas other than oak, and is fruit forward.

While the winemaker at Kaçaba is not likely to describe their Unoaked Chardonnay as “a well-behaved dachshund that sits peacefully in your lap”, I hope you get the idea.  This is a great wine from an Ontario Craft winery that will be welcome on a warm summer night.

LCBO 101469 |  Price: $ 14.95

Winemaker’s notes

A lightly tropical, fruit forward chardonnay with an easy-drinking personality of soft green apple and refreshing pear. Its crisp, flowing flavour makes it ideal for light poultry dishes and white fish.

Ironic – don’t you think

“It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay… isn’t it ironic, don’t you think”.  I just had an English teacher rant to me that this isn’t even ironic.  It’s scary when an English teacher rants.  Chardonnay and Irony – those are things to rant about.

Do you think that finding a black object in a white wine is ironic and not simply a contrast in colours? I am no English teacher (PE degree from York actually) but I “really do think” that there are more ironic things than a black fly in your chardonnay.  

Is it ironic because you wanted to send the wine back but couldn’t come up with a good reason –  planned to use “waiter, what’s this fly doing in my wine” – when suddenly you look down and “Hey everyone, there really is a fly in my wine!” Maybe it’s ironic because you bought an expensive Chardonnay with the lottery money you just won and you’re about to choke on the fly and die (the next day).

What is ironic is that this album has sold 33 million copies worldwide and that I own one of them.

File:AlanisMorissetteJaggedLittlePill.jpgIf I can go back to “ironic” for a minute the only really good definition I have ever heard was from my friend Glenn- “The man who poisoned the ribs got run over by the rib truck” – thanks Glenn.


Also, I had a good Chardonnay the other day – Kaçaba unoaked Chardonnay (LCBO 101469 $14.95).

Australian Cabernets – $20 Reds

I enjoyed two great Australian wines last night and I thought it only good form to write a letter of appreciation. This letter is to Kathy, a Yalumba wines representative that I met recently. She knows her wine.

Dear Kathy,

We had a chance to try two great Yalumba products last night –  the Ringbolt and the Mawson’s Hill Block 3 Cabernet Sauvignon.

It was a small dinner party featuring risotto al funghi (Mario or Jamie’s recipe, I can’t remember – I watch far too much Food Network).  I cooked while the ladies started with a spring salad of shaved fennel, pears, and Parmesan Reggiano, tossed with prosciutto and garnished with asparagus spears. Yes, that does sound delicious. We started with a chilled unoaked Chardonnay from Kacaba, an Ontario craft winery, while I worked the risotto – stir, add stock, repeat, repeat, and repeat until al dente. 

We tasted both Cab Savs with the risotto.  They are so diverse – probably reflective of their growth regions. I know that terroir is something that Yalumba is trying to show off a little bit in Australia.

The Mawson’s was a fruit forward,  medium bodied wine while the Ringbolt hit you just like the name implied that it might.  I loved the tannic structure and strength of the Ringbolt but at the same time the Mawson’s was quite delicate for a Cab Sav.  Very nice – they appealed to all three of us at the dinner table.  I think you could more likely drink the Mawson’s without food while the Ringbolt needed all the Parmesan Reggiano, mushrooms, and pancetta garnish  to stand up to its tannins. It was difficult to tell which wine paired well with the chocolate dessert since we were honestly too full to taste anything at that point.

Thank you so much for contributing to a wonderful evening with the wines.


Note to the reader (you – not Kathy) both wines are available at Vintages – I know for a fact that Kathy already knew this. Get them both if you can.  In fact, get the Kacaba unoaked Chardonnay too!

A Little German

Maybe these aren’t funny to anyone else but they made me laugh.  Is it funny because the German is little? The more I look at them the funnier they get – that’s what makes me suspect that nobody else is finding this as funny as I am right now.

Anyhoo, great marketing. It’s no Hogan’s Heroes, but it is funny – at least to me.

That is Big

Sometimes when I visit my in-laws, my wife’s Dad has a 1.5 litre bottle of wine on hand.  Its called a Magnum, and its convenient if you don’t like opening bottles. It also seems the American way – bigger is always better.

Maybe that’s why Beringer winery in Napa bottled the equivalent of 14+ cases of Cabernet Sauvignon (173 bottles) into one bottle in 2001!  A visit from Guinness confirmed the bottle, named “Maximus”, a world record. The cork itself cost $3500! Apparently the gauntlet had been thrown down because it just gets silly from here – really silly.

[LargeformatFiveVirtues.jpg]In 2006 the Aussies – where everything is bigger – upped California with a bottle that contained the equivalent of 387 bottles of Shiraz.   Next – In 2007 the Austrians put together a bottle with 640 bottles worth of wine – probably because they got tired of being confused with Australia in wine competitions.  This year somebody in China bottled almost 2500 bottles worth of Claret in a bottle that stands 15 feet high. At least they had the good sense to fill it with Bordeaux not having any great wine regions of their own. Somebody tell me why is Texas sitting on its hands and letting the communists win this contest? Come on Texas!

My brother thinks that you would need one of those wine suctiony things in order to keep the wine fresh. I think that makes as much sense as anything else you’ve just read.

Put aside for a moment the problem of opening it – how do you pour it?

Very generously.

Nero D’Avola – Everyday Red

Everyday Red is one of my favorite topics on this blog.  It certainly the most practical for anyone reading the blog – unless you claim my stories as your own and start telling them at parties.  Everyday Red wines are my house wines.  They are in the $10 wine category, perfect with or without food, and meet the taste bud standards of both adults in my house.  This one is being served at the Red Brick Café right now. It is a true trattoria sipper.

NERO D’AVOLA Cusumano 2007
LCBO 143164 | Price: $ 9.95 Siciliy,  14.5% Alcohol

This is why trattoria’s were invented – or why Nero D’Avola was created – its hard to say.  Let’s just say that we considered renaming the Café to Red Brick Trattoria and Ristorante after this went on the menu.  “Never match wits with a Sicilian when death is on the line” (Princess Bride) but bet  your life that people will enjoy this at your next party. At this price you should buy a case. And don’t EVER call this an Italian wine – apparently both the Italians and Sicilians object to being confused for each other.

 Let me know if you tried it and if you liked it.

The Cask of Amontillado

I hope my brother likes me.

He has promised me a tour of Alvear’s winery in Montilla, Spain, this summer.  But if I’ve learned anything from literature (and I probably haven’t) then I need to be sure I haven’t insulted him gravely – recently.

The Cask of Amontillado is a great short story by Edgar Allan Poe.  It is a story of revenge and murder – set in Spain – with a Cask of Amontillado as the bait.  You may recall that Amontillado is not Sherry, but it’s darn close ( read Amontillado – Surely that’s a Sherry).

The story begins, “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge.” Oh Edgar Allan, I think you know that the only thing more frightening than a raven is revenge.

To make a short story short –  Fortunato’s pride in his ability to tell Amontillado from Sherry is the bait and his downfall. He ends up intoxicated and bricked into a wall in the depths of the wine caves. I supposed in a very real way the bricks are his downfall.

There are several lessons from this story:

1. Don’t be sure you know everything about wine.

2. Don’t drink too much on a wine tour.

3. Fortunato is an ironic name (not bad for a PE teacher).

4. The saying  “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” is just stupid. Look what happened to Fortunato.

Don’t be afraid of “Champagne” from Spain

I can forgive anyone who ignores my New Year’s Resolution #1 – to drink more white wine.  Perhaps white wine is not for everyone. What I can’t understand is when people tell me they never drink Champagne.  Why the heck not?  Champagne is for everyone. In the words of Mark Twain, ” Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.”

I have a friend who thinks that he may be a little intimidated by Champagne.  That’s crazy talk that needs to be met head on with therapy – and the Doctor is in! 

There is nothing in the world like Champagne – it delights both the palate and the imagination.  Champagne is delicate, dry, festive, and fun!  That is what wine is supposed to be. 

What is not fun is the price of Champagne. The good stuff starts at $70 at the LCBO. That is a little intimidating. Fortunately, I have a solution.

Cava is just like Champagne for a fraction of the price. Nobody has ever claimed to be intimidated by Cava. Bottled using the Methode Champenoise (translation – the way they make it, by law, in the region of Champagne), it is essentially “Champagne from Spain”.   Cava is dry, has bubbles, and looks great in a flute. 

Open one of these on a week night.  It’s not crazy – it’s Cava!

LCBO 158493  Price: $ 14.45 – green apple, light citrus, dry.

 FREIXENET CORDON NEGRO BRUT LCBO 88591 Price: $ 13.95 –  crisp, apple, pear.

LCBO 6262 | Price: $ 12.20 may be the most “toasty” of the three

  Also, check out the many Vintages “Champagnes”.  I like a good Crémant de Bourgogne, Alsace, or Loire when the price is right.  I also like a Prosecco – if it is very dry.

Get out and buy yourself two champagne flutes, buy a bottle of “Champagne”, and delight in a little luxury.  Do it!  This means you.