Monthly Archives: February 2011

My LCBO shopping list

Time to recommend some wine.  I seldom do that in this wine blog because I get easily distracted by other things – like how much money baseball players make each day, how to win the British Open, how to get a Shampoo endorsement, the story of me getting trapped in the internet,  and such and such.

 Here are the top  9 wines that I buy at my local wine store (LCBO in Ontario).  I like them and I keep buying them. For those of you not comfortable with only 9 wines and need a top 10 – well you need therapy but feel free to add your wine in the comments section below.

Sicily Nero D’Avola.  At $10 it’s a steal – a steal I say. Look for it in the Italian aisle isle  but it’s NOT Italian – it’s Sicilian and it’s delicious. It will remind you of sitting outdoors at a trattoria.


AUSTRALIA Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier – a Shiraz with manly tannins that’s not afraid to cry at a romatic comedy.  $15

FRANCE La Vieille Ferme – they don’t make wines from “the Old Farm” like they used to – or do they?  Rustic and French. What more could an eonophile want? More Ferme, that’s what they want. $11


FRANCE Bouchard Pere & Fils Macon – Cru Beaujolais for $14 with a great taste of sour cherry. Mmm sour cherry.

SPAIN Hecula Monastrell from Yecla (that really is the name of the region). A great Monastrell at a great price $14. Proving Spain does more than Rioja. This is part of the Vintages Essentials collection which means that it is readily available.

SPAIN Red Guitar – a classic GSM Rhone style blend from Spain at $12. Spain claims to have invented the Guitar and Mouvedre (Monastrell). I believe them because I like them and besides, they won the World Cup so they can lay claim to inventing football for all I care.

Jackson Triggs Meritage – this is a winemakers wine and I think that in Niagara a winemaker that knows how to blend their grapes is priceless. This is a classic blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and is my favorite Ontario wine hands down – especially years where the Cab Franc is prominent like in 2007. $13.45

Niagara Strewn Two Vines Riesling-Gewürztraminer.  Spice, pear and apple! It’s not bone dry but the spicy and acidic and  delicious cold – and I got to say Gewürztraminer again. $12

ITA Mezzomondo Salento -the distinctive brown label looks like it was made on papyrus and hand-drawn by DaVinci. It is a simple wine that I can’t stop drinking (in a good way).  Rustic and delicious – what more could you want for under $9.

Gooseberry Wine

I  obtained a bottle of Gooseberry Wine this week – same supplier as my High Bush Cranberry Wine .  This wine had only a hint of smelly sock on the nose. I was a little disappointed because I like being offended by a wine’s nose. I once had a delightful Coyote’s Run Cabernet Franc that smelled like a goat farm (and not in the good way) but it was the best wine at the wine festival. In any event I did not detect any evidence that a cat had peed on this gooseberry bush, just good old gooseberries.

My collection of Uncle Art's wine


This Gooseberry wine was not nearly as tart as the instant puckering taste of a gooseberry but  rather tasted of very nice ripe fruit.  I also received a lovely Elderflower wine that was delicate – like you would expect a flower wine to be – and became a great conversation piece at the Craig’s birthday party.  Uncle Art, keep making wine and don’t forget who your relatives are!


Wine Fads – Where next?

I just found this 1939 Vintages chart in a magazine.  Very cool. But not what I expected. Nobody rates wines anymore on a scale of 0-7 but don’t be surprised if I start to. Also, presumably these were the top wine regions of the world in 1939.  Interesting.  I didn’t even know one of them without using Al Gore’s “Internet” (the words Internet and Al Gore are used with permission) to look it up.

Most of these wines should be familiar. Port , Burgundy, Sauternes, and Champagne are still the commonly used names for wines from their respective regions.  Claret is the British word for Bordeaux. The winner of golf’s British Open wins the Claret Jug – which is an actual  wine jug made of silver and glass – and considering the Brits fondness for Claret probably gets used quite a bit for that purpose.  Rhenish wines are dry white wines from the Rhine river valley in Germany. These aren’t easy to find on the shelves where I live. It’s interesting to me that my favorite regions, the Rhône and Rioja,  aren’t on the list. That tells me that wine recognition and popularity changes.  There was a time when the sweet Malaga wine was considered the world’s best.  Now you probably can’t get it outside of Andalucia.  I wonder what the world of wine will look like in 80 years time? Meanwhile, I need to get my short game in order if I am to win the British Open and drink from the Claret Jug.

The Claret Jug - roll your putts and fill it with your best Bordeaux

Coolest Bottle Ever – PROOF

I didn’t know I liked Rye.  The only time I’ve ever seen it was as Crown Royal served with Coke and I’ve never really been interested in that.

PROOF is a Rye whisky marketed in the coolest drug store style 500 ml bottle on the shelves. I admit that the cool bottle is what caught my attention but it was a recommendation by Billy Munnelly that closed the deal.  I trust Billy with everything from beer to espresso  so I gave it a go. I drank it at room temperature neat – really good.  I drank it “on the rock” (1 ice-cube) – fantastic. The bottle makes me feel like I am doing a little Chemistry at home.  Hey, I think I just found a way to keep Chemistry relevant again (read Champagne Science).

Rye is Canada’s spirit. It isn’t complex like Scotch whisky and it doesn’t have the deep smokey character of Bourbon but it is a spirit with expression. It reminds me that I am Canadian without the embarrassment of Crown Royal products hanging around my house.

LCBO 173351 | 500 mL bottle Price: $ 19.95
42.0% Alcohol/Vol.

Tasting Note (from the LCBO)
clear amber colour; orange marmalade, spice aromas; smooth orange, caramel and spice flavours with a touch of smoke, medium finish

Tasting Note (from PROOF brands)
The blend of Canadian prairie rye and wheat is distilled with pristine spring water from the Canadian Rockies. It is then aged to perfection in charred oak barrels, to create its sophisticated sweet and smoky flavours.

PROOF brands of Toronto also makes vodka and rum in these very cool bottles

Je Refuse

“What wine do you recommend for the Superbowl?”.  I have been asked this question all week and I refuse to make a recommendation.  Why? I actually have several well-thought out reasons.

Steelers’ Pro-Bowl defensive end Brett Keisel for one. Really, does this man look like he drinks wine? Maybe I am overstereotyping (what? Spell-check says that’s not a word?) but I doubt it.  He actually looks like he wields an axe in Lord of the Ring conventions in his spare time – or eats grizzlie bears, but certainly not a red wine guy.

Reason two – If I am going to recommend anything with the Superbowl it’s going to be shampoo.  Steelers Pro-bowl safety Troy Polamalu already has a Head and Shoulders sponsorship (and I bought some this week) – but I am really waiting to see what hair product gets on board with Clay Matthews Jr. – that’s hair that I can both relate and aspire to.

So here I am distracted again.  The question was “what wine do you pair with the Superbowl” and I end up talking about the three guys in the Superbowl with the best hair.

Oh and Clay Matthews Jr, your Dad’s the reason I don’t cheer for the Steelers.  Go Browns.

Red Guitar of Spain


Red Guitar Wine from Spain is my newest value red wine – Olé (Spanish for “there you have it” – loosely translated). It is a classic Spanish Rhone style wine –  Tempranillo and Garnacha – and is very tasty – Olé. Normally I like Spanish Rioja wines that remind me of a dry, hot summer.  However, this one from Navarra is refreshing and interesting -Olé.  Rich and smooth but not too easy or sweet with medium tannis and a slight funky odour that isn’t unpleasant.  Besides, I like the funk – Olé. 

The website has a great musical flash intro page at (click the hyperlink to listen).  The Red Guitar that is playing is fun to listen to and my wife likes that fact that at no time does a Gypsy King start singing at you – Amen and Olé.


LCBO 54007 | Price: $ 12.95

Whenever the winemaker has a great description of their wine I use it – they know more about it than I do –   Red Guitar brings the style and excitement of Spain to life. From grapes grown on up to 100 year-old vines in the ancient kingdom of Navarra, Red Guitar delivers rich flavors and remarkable complexity in every glass. It is a wine that sings of the land of the bullfight, tapas, and the art of living well.