Monthly Archives: April 2011

Royal Interest

Now I’m officially interested in the Royal Wedding – the Champagne has been announced and it’s good news bad news.  Good news that the Champagne is available to me in Ontario for $60 a bottle.  However, I’m so disappointed in the Royals. The Champagne is a Non-Vintage Pol Roger.  Come on royal family!  Put on some snobbery for the rest of us.  If we’re like you and you’re like us then where’s the fun in that.  To paraphrase her majesty Queen Elizabeth II, “I am not amused”.

Here’s the news from a local news source 

Amber LeBlanc, 680News In-House Sommelier Apr 28, 2011 05:35:07 AM

TORONTO, On. – Bollinger has been the champagne of choice for royals since 1884, but guests to Prince William and Catherine’s wedding will enjoy non-vintage Pol Roger, Decanter magazine reported. The champagne of choice is being considered a shocker in the British drinking establishment; however, the good news for Canadians is it’s something readily available at LCBO stores throughout the country.Pol Roger, a very recognizable and reputable brand, deviates from past royal protocol and also deviates financially – showing a slight attempt by the royals to cut down on excess in a time of extreme recession in Britain. “It might have been a decision where they went with a non-vintage champagne to show they’re not as pretentious as a lot of people think and our attitude is that it’s something the average consumer can go to the LCBO and buy. So, on that end it’s great because it’s not often you have the opportunity to do that,” said Chris Churchill, owner of Toronto’s Churchill Cellars, which imports the drink to Ontario and Atlantic Canada. 

At less than $60 a bottle, it’s much cheaper than what was served during Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding reception, where 1973 Vintage Bollinger was the drink of choice. Although, the current economic climate in the UK does not allow for a bar bill similar to what Charles rang up in 1981, where over 1500 bottles were served to 2500 guests – $100,000 in champagne costs alone.

Vintage Champagne is created in the best vintages, making it’s less available and more expensive, as a opposed to non-vintages.

“It’s a good opportunity for everyday people to go out and celebrate in the royal style,” said Churchill.

Trying to be American

It’s Easter weekend,  lamb is on the menu and I’m in America trying to be American. However, on a visit to the local wine store I found my cart full of French wine – a Champagne, a Burgundy, and a lovely delicate white also from Burgundy.  The wine matched the menu but I have a rule to try and blend in when I’m in America.    It’s also not easy to blend in because I know I am a smug Canadian whenever I hear somebody talking hockey – “I understand, you don’t”, is what is always on the tip of my tongue. It’s only my good manners (another annoying Canadian trait) that keeps me from saying anything.  Also, I try not to apologize all the time for things that I didn’t even do.

My “blend in” strategy is partly to drink American wine.  So I put back the Champagne and picked up a Mumm sparkling wine from California.  Likewise the French white went back on the shelf in favor (American spelling of favour) of a delicate Viognier from Cline.  The only thing I couldn’t do was put back the Burgundy – $15 for a $35 bottle of wine?  I had to keep it.  Come to think of it, how very American of me.

La Tour - Le deal

Cline Viognier

Mumm from Cali

Champagne history

I plan to vacation in Reims, the biggest city in the province of Champagne, someday and then travel south.  My only concern is that I might stick around the Champagne region drinking bubbly the entire time – that would  completely ruin my plans.

I just finished reading a book, Champagne: How the World’s Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times, by Don and Petie Kladstup.  Imagine what life has been like for les Champenoise – the people who live smack in between Paris and Germany. From 1870 until the end of WWII three wars were fought on the soil of Champagne. At the end of WWII in 1945 the population of France was actually lower than it was in 1800! Incredible.

A good book on history is a good book of stories.  The stories of Napoleon, Churchill, Capone, many French Kings named Louis, and a few Czars and Kaisers thrown into the mix make for great reading.  Also, if you are interested in drinking great Champagne then the stories of Roederer, Clicquot, and Chandon could be savoured over a flute of “party juice”.

Champagne: How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times

Best of all, I got it at the library, returned it on time, and saved my money.  Probably should celebrate that with a bottle of the real stuff.

Battle Bernard – Let’s go Louis

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.

Miguel Torres – he knows

Spanish winemaker Miguel Torres knows what he’s doing – so when I read that his Cabernet Sauvignon was discounted $3 I hopped into my wife’s Mini Cooper to get some. “Hey”, I said to myself, “Great winemaker, Cabernet Sauvignon,  a great region, and it’s on sale!”.  It’s still on  sale all this month in Ontario.

Spain | Miguel Torres S.A.,
VINTAGES 36483 | 750 mL
WAS: $ 18.95 | NOW: $ 15.95 | SAVE: $ 3.00

From the LCBO Website  Over the last 130 years the Miguel Torres winery has almost single-handedly built and maintained the reputation of the Penedès region, and this wine shows why. Structured with intense fruit flavours and silky tannins this full-bodied Reserva displays alluring aromas and flavours of red currants, new leather, coffee, vanilla, and a classic touch of roasted bell pepper. Exquisite with beef fajitas.


Now I have to learn how to make fajitas – the food as fun to eat as it is to say – if you try to sound like Speedy Gonzales when you say it. This wine is so good it makes Speedy Gonzales look like Regular Gonzales.

How in the world did I start off this blog with a nice bottle of wine and end up with the fastest mouse in all Mexico? This sale is loco.

March Madness Winner

My March Madness bracket was fixed – I admit it.  I almost always prefer a nice solid Rioja to anything. The two that I like to keep in my house are from Bodegas LAN and MUGA.  I’m a sucker for good marketing – on good wines – and I like LAN’s marketing.rioja en 3 letras

These labels  are usually available in my local wine store. Go Rioja – Go Butler.