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Another big red

Like Rachel, I’ve been wanting to delve into deeper reds than I normally go for — but as a result, I’ve been bitten by the “bleagh!”s a couple times, because let’s face it, the heaviest, oiliest reds are still gonna gross me out. The other day I decided to go with a blend and the newer red from House Wine Co. jumped off the shelf at me. Described as “full-bodied and smooth” it still has a hint of the tangy flavour I love in the lighter reds, while really warming up a dreary fall evening. That was overly poetical; I’m trying to say, it’s yummy, and has a slight bite without being too sour, and big flavours without being overwhelming. Nice for either just gulping or with food, because no specific flavour jumps out too strongly at me. Totally recommended.

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Rich reds

Normally I go for the fruity, berry reds. But I must have been feeling red-deprived over the summer, because as soon as the first hint of fall arrived, I wanted something big and strong. The Pelee Island Cabernet Franc fit perfectly.

It’s a bit sour, and not what I would call a sipping wine, but it was great with food (yes, even my steak-less vegetarian food), and definitely made me happy that fall was here. I’ll be getting this one again.

(Yes, technically Billy’s Best calls this a “rustic red”. Felt pretty rich to me.)

More contrasts.

Remember my VERY LAST POST, in which I experienced consumer paralysis and ended up the not-so-proud owner of a litre of French Cross Cab-Merlot? And said don’t do that to yourself?
Well, the next day, my spouse and I hit the LCBO and I said I didn’t need anything, because I had terrible wine at home. She said I should get some decent wine, rather than drink the terrible wine any more out of either a) cheapness or b) stubbornness or c) both. So I said okay. But having resolved myself to finishing the French Cross, I was having trouble feeling inspired, so I decided to at least make sure I tried something local and grabbed Open Cab-Merlot. I thought it would be fun to do another similar varietal, by a winery whose other wines I’ve liked (the Open Riesling-Gewurtz is one of my yummiest summer staples).

Yeah. So. Not really that fun, turns out. This Open stuff is… jammy. I think I finally know what reviewers mean when they say that, and it’s not good. Cloying? Not exactly sweet, just — overly smelly and aftertastey. Blargh. I didn’t even finish a glass of it. Today, a few days later, I thought I might be more in the mood for it — and the only other option is the French Cross, mocking me from the countertop — so I opened it, got a whiff, and closed it right the hell up again. It’s probably going to go straight down the drain.
This makes me sad and confused, because that Riesling-Gewurtz, you guys! I’m sure part of it must be that I still really don’t like Merlot. But it also seemed truly awful as an example of its type. Hence, I type this entry beside a glass of the French Cross, which suddenly doesn’t seem that bad. I’ll take wine-flavoured cheap vodka over that mess any day.

Contrasts.

My spouse is allergic to wine — wine, a.k.a. the Universal Random Gift. Last week, I drank her birthday wine. At the time, I didn’t think I liked it, because Merlot.

 

It was Kacaba 2007 Reserve Merlot. At 5 years old, it was a lot more WINE than I usually drink. I liked the smoothness, but I don’t usually love a Merlot (such a weird combo of heavy darkness but fruity flavours… should be the best of all worlds but usually just seems to be arguing with itself) so I kept saying “This is great for a Merlot” and “this is a great MERLOT.”
Today, I knew I’d want wine after a kind of ridiculous day, so at the grocery store I went into one of those places that are popping up in grocery stores and headed to the cheap section. Most of them don’t have a great selection and what they do have is kind of overpriced, IMO, so I figured I’d just get some plonk. I was torn between $12 plonk I was slightly worried I’d had before and hated, and $10 plonk I knew would be bad but figured wouldn’t be THAT bad.

So I got the $10 plonk, namely, the French Cross 1L Cab-Merlot. Cause I drink cheap stuff all the time and am often sure I can’t tell the difference between the okay and the bad wines.

Turns out, yes I can.

I mean, it’s not TORTURE bad. I’m drinking it. It’s ok. It’s really only almost ok, though, and really only with food. It has a strange just-plain-alcohol burn that I haven’t tasted in a while and usually associate with a strong cheap vodka cocktail. Not with wine. After that, it’s a bit sour and has kind of “red wine flavour” going on. That’s all.

Drink it with a really greasy takeout pizza, definitely. Supply it at an open-bar wedding reception nobody’s rich parents are paying for, totally. Otherwise, buy the $12 plonk. And know that you can, in fact, tell the okay wines apart from the bad wines.

“Late Autumn Riesling” – three words designed to appeal to me

I was telling a couple of you last night that I saw this in the store and said to myself, “What a wonderful idea!” and then took it home and put it beside… the bottle of it I already had at home. Doh!  Good thing it’s quite lovely.

I gave it a sniff before drinking and if someone had told me it was pear cider, I’d have believed them. Fortunately, it tastes better than just flat pear cider. It’s a 2 sweetness, so it doesn’t have a lot of bite, but now that it’s cold in the house I’m fine with that. There are a ton of beautiful fruit flavours. Compare to what I think of as the quintessential autumn white, which is a vidal, and there’s a lot more going on here than in any comparably-priced Vidal  I’ve had (not that I’ve had them all or anything). I drank this with fish (please feel free to imagine a classy homemade lake trout with some sort of delicate sauce rather than frozen battered haddock). And leftover chocolate cake. Better with the former than the latter.

$10.95 LCBO.

Fall red, label pandering edition

Cattail Creek Catastrophe Series – Red, $13.95 at the LCBO. I usually try to be immune to cute/trendy labelling, but they got me with these cats. Actually, the bottle I bought has quite a different label — a sleeker, black-on-black silhouette, rather than the cuddly black kitties on white shown here and on the winery website. In my defense, I also chose it because it was on the VQA “Wines to Watch” display with a tempting description. 🙂

This is a nice light dive-back-into-reds wine (and I bet it would be a good spring red, too). The site says “A blend of Gamay Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Franc creating a crowd-pleasing, medium-bodied red wine with flavours of black cherry, raspberries and vanilla with just a touch of mint on the finish.” I don’t get the mint or vanilla, but it’s very tangy without being too sweet or too light (I drank it with a heavy pasta meal). It’s very clean and refreshing for a red, but it’s definitely RED in flavour, which makes the colour in the glass all the more surprising. For the first glug or so I thought maybe I’d accidentally bought a rose! Observe (yes, that’s pie for dessert):

It’s pale!

A bit of the money from the sale of the Catastrophe wines goes to help rescued cats, which I’m a huge fan of, so there’s that too.

Non-LCBO wine whine

A couple of days a week lately you can stalk me at C’est What, where they serve the owner’s Silver Peak wines, which I don’t think are available at the LCBO. It couldn’t be more local, though — the winery’s located in Oakville (I drive by the sign a lot but have never been). They don’t even seem to have a website! This is a ridiculous post. However, I’ve tried a couple reds recently and wanted to write up my favourite so far: the Baco Noir. It’s a completely perfect in-between-season drink, IMO: something like a Beaujolais but with a bit more depth, with the vinegary tang that sometimes jumps out of a Beaujolais-Villages… but again, with more deep flavours. If someone put sour cherries in your Pinot Noir and aged it for a year? Or just added a touch of sweet balsamic vinegar to your bog-standard popular Cab Whatever? I’m having trouble here. But I liked it A LOT.

I may try it a few more times at the restaurant and then… maybe I need some direct from the source!

(NB There’s a California Silver Peak as well — I don’t think they’re at all affiliated, but it’s confusing.)