Author Archives: Travis Oke

About Travis Oke

Wine writer / consultant

Irish or Scottish?

“Here’s to your health” is a good traditional toast while raising a glass amongst friends and family. Recently i have been drawn to such a toast with either a whiskey or a whisky. “What’s the difference” you say? “Did you misspell that?”.  People new to partaking in a “dram” of the spirit made from mashed grains may not even know that the Irish version is called Whiskey [with an e] and the Scottish version, more commonly known as Scotch, is Whisky [no e].

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More importantly to the point.  A friend of mine, Professor R we can call him [University prof] recently found this article.  10 Health Benefits of Whiskey.

I have at home  the very good BushMills Black Bush [$37 LCBO#: 61374] and the delightfully smooth Auchentoshan Three Wood Scotch Whisky [$80 LCBO#: 720532] – which is only opened when my daughter M is in town. Maybe it’s the DNA speaking, or maybe it’s just a freakin’ good scotch, but we both love it.  I think I like it because it’s aged initially in bourbon casks and then finished in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez casks. Bourbon and then Spanish Sherry – I like both those things.

Back to Professor R. Now I call him “Professor R, the Enabler”. Thanks for the encouragement. Here’s to my health.

 


Bob’s Book

Wednesday I went to a book launch by local author, and Guelph celebrity in his own right, Bob Desautels – who most of us know as the owner of The Wooly [or the Woolwich Arrow as nobody calls it], or as I call it, “The Home Court”, as it is the closest pub to my house.  As usual I’m already not talking about what meant to talk about – Bob’s book.  I went to the launch, got a copy of Bob’s book, got it signed,  then sold it on eBay two hours later for a profit.  First edition? Author’s signature? eBay gold!

WineSense is the name of Bob’s first book. Subtitled “the three keys to understanding wine” it reads like a series of lecture notes on the topic of wine. Lecture notes interspersed with witty anecdotes and clever quotes.  I appreciated it both as an educator and somebody who knows just enough about wine to consider myself interesting in a wine conversation [I can hear brother-in-Spain shouting, “interesting to who?”].

Three weeks ago my daughter, wife, and I were sampling ales at the Wooly when Bob came over very excited to have had the first books delivered to him that very day. He brought one over like a new grandchild and gave us an introduction.  I have been anticipating getting a copy ever since.

Three favourite quotes for from the introduction of WineSense …

  • The one indisputable thing about wine is that it will cheer you up [agreed Bob, unless it’s mulled wine – i’ve got nothing good to say about mulled wine]
  • Wine just helps to bring people closer together [true, i pack 50 people in a space designed to seat 8 at my Beaujolais Nouveau party]
  • Champagne is known to be the only drink or food that a person who is seasick can digest without vomiting [after my bout with the flu I wish I’d know that 5 days ago]

I think you can learn a lot about the authors intentions from the introduction. Bob is unpretentious, knowledgeable, and his  good guy-ness comes through.  It’s an easy read and a great course in wine education.  Well done Bob.  You can order the book from Friesen Press, but don’t – buying at the Wooly seems only proper.

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From the Friesen website …

Wine is a muse for poets and ordinary folks alike, a great seducer and lifelong friend to many. It’s integral to some of the finest cultures on earth. But as simple and lovely as wine may be, the wine world can be intimidating. Many so-called experts perpetuate an elitist approach to wine, with their explanations so jargon-filled that the wine gets lost in the analysis.

WineSense cuts through the jargon and complexities wine can present. In this common-sense guide, Bob Desautels offers straightforward information on types of wine, tasting, wine history, grape varieties, approaches to winemaking, and more. His Three Keys to Understanding Wine allow the everyday wine enthusiast and the beginner to truly grasp the subject while increasing their appreciation of wine.

The ultimate purpose of this book is to teach you how to find good and consistent styles of wine that suit your palate. You’ll be able to look beyond the safe choices and search for local wines that have the best qualities of your international favourites. With a deeper understanding of wine, you’ll gain true WineSense, offering you a newfound confidence in choosing the right wine for the right time.

 


Chicken Wine

Kids say the darnedest things. Even when they are 31 years old.  My girl, M, keeps referring to La Vieille Ferme as the “chicken wine”.

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Now there’s several things cute [or darnedest] about that …

1. It’s a Rooster – well technically i guess a rooster is a chicken so maybe she’s right on that one

2. The name La Vieille Ferme is actually right there on the bottle – however, the drawing of the chickens is probably more interesting than meaningless french words  – so i’ll concede that one to her too

3. She admitted to me that it was open for a week and still tasted good – I’ve never had a bottle of wine stay unfinished for a week so i have to give her that one on self-control alone . Also, she was using the vacuum suctiony thingy i bought her just for that purpose [see post on Weinfrischhalter Geschenskset] so good for you M for listening to your dad.

4. If she’s already right on 3 counts then who’s to argue about it still tasting good.

Also, i think she’s smarter than me and i love her so i’m inclined to agree with whatever she’s talking about – especially when she likes one of my favourite wines.

 

From the LCBO website …

La Vieille Ferme Cotes Du Ventoux AOC  LCBO#: 263640

Medium violet/ruby colour; red cherry aromas with blackberry and floral notes; dry with perfumed raspberry character and a touch spice; medium finish with light tannins.

WAS $11.90 NOW $10.90

 


My extra second

2015 is not a leap year – at least we don’t get a leap day. However thanks to the fine work of the people at the International Earth Rotation and something something service, we get a leap second this summer! Who knows why – i’ve read dozens of web sites about it and i think some Time Lord is doing something on the Space-Time continuum and doing Doctor Who-knows-what with our clocks.

Here are my options of what to do with my extra second?

  1. Cook 1 second’s worth of minute rice
  2. Slowly spell “Mississippi” or alternately count “one steamboat”
  3. Give my second away to a friend so that they have two [which now that i write that seems rather reckless to throw a precious gift like this away]
  4. Sneak in another double espresso that i thought i didn’t have time to drink
  5. Carefully manipulate that second to improve the timing on a great joke
  6. Fire a champagne cork across my back yard at the neighbour’s house

Oooh, maybe I can carefully coordinate my family to do the minute rice, Mississippi, double espresso, tell a joke, and champagne cork all at the same time. Sign up now kids for the one you want – Dad’s having fun again!

Why do we need a leap second? It’s all right here Leap Second 2015

What am I drinking to celebrate my new found leap second?  Well at 400 bubbles per second a glass of wine seems like the only rational choice. Segura Viudas Reserva Cava, $14.95. I don’t have the time to get too technical about the tasting notes but suffice it to say that it is delicious and reminds me of a white bubbly wine that tastes like grapes.

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Peaceful Chile

This winter i’ve committed to trying new wines at the LCBO and i think i’ve found the best aisle in the store – Argentina to the right of me and Chile to the left. I’m no historian but it seems like these countries even get along. They coexistence peacefully in the wine store at least.

Right now my new favourite wine for under $10 is the Santa Rita 120 Cab Franc / Carmenere / Cab Sav blend. I like the fresh Cabernet Franc taste and i love the price.

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Hey, turns out that “120” refers to 120 Chilean freedom fighters who took on the Spanish Independence  war of 1814 and hid in the Santa Rita cellars. Doesn’t sound very peaceful anymore.


Meow Mix

Sometimes you don’t even have to travel to another country to get a good sense of what it would be like living there.  I still imagine a vacation in Germany where everyone is yelling Gewürztraminer [ɡəˈvʏɐtstʁaˈmiːnɐ] to each other.  And as an aside, does anyone find [ɡəˈvʏɐtstʁaˈmiːnɐ] helpful in learning how to pronounce this word?

In the English speaking world everyone knows that cats say “meow” when they decide that it’s time to speak to somebody. However, in Japan cats appearantly say “nyan, nyan” to each other and to people who are willing to listen. And all evidence suggests that there are people ready to not only listen – but to pour the little kitty a glass of wine and sit down together and enjoy each other’s company. Yes, have a glass of wine with your cat because a company called B&H Lifes is producing a wine made specifically for cats called Nyan Nyan Nouveau [click for full-size article]. The wine is non-alcoholic  – because ain’t nobody wants to see a cat drunk – and it seems like a sweet idea to share a drink with your pet.

Cats

For those of you who want a more traditional wine to drink and think of your cat [and i don’t mean for you to let your cat drink this wine] how about a play on words and your try the Chateau Hauchat [very loosely translated for the purposes of this wine blog as “there cat”] – a lovely Bordeaux red wine from this past Vintages release [Vintages 123489, $15.95].  Featuring a sublte cedar and tobacco undertones that give it the character of a $30 fine wine combined with plum and with fresh fruit overtones it is a steal at this price. Meow.

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“nyan nyan”


Starter Kit

Any new year’s resolutions? My sister-in-Spain’s resolution was to replace all the light bulbs in her house that were blown out – lofty goal indeed. I guess light bulbs in Spain are way more complicated than they are here in Guelph.

How about getting serious about wine this year? I was horrified last week to discover that my daughter in Toronto was drinking a glass of mediocre red that had been opened for 6 days already! Come on M – I think you can get seriously ill on that stuff.  I almost got seriously ill thinking of one of my own drinking inadequate wine.

So I took matters into my own hands took control of the situation [which as i understand kids like their dads to do] in this manner.

1. I bought her a Weinfrischhalter Geschenskset “wine suctiony vacuumy thing” as brother-in-spain calls it. Since it now comes in sage [a colour I just learned while purchasing the W-G] it is now as attractive to look at as it is to say.

2. I also bought her 4 bottles of lcbo value red wines.

Hecula from Yecla Spain [$12] – a nice smooth uncomplicated Monastrell

La Vielle Ferme [$11] because the old farm never disappoints when a rustic Côtes du Rhône is on the menu

Luccarelli’s Primitivo – at under $10 it is a steal – the new Italian Job if you like

120 Santa Rita Cab blend from Chile – also under $10 and delightfully heavy on the cab franc

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I can sleep easier knowing that my girl is safe and sound when i can’t be around to pour a decent glass of wine for her. Hopefully she’s saying Weinfrischhalter Geschenskset and giggling to her own amusement at funny German words like i do.

 


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