Odds and EndsTuesday, September 04, 2012 by: Vin Greco
There are always interesting little snippets of news or occurrences that are worth passing on, and so I thought I would devote this column to sharing some of them with you.
Shortly before I began writing for Sootoday this Spring, an old friend from Elementary School, Eugene Lesage, approached me about some homemade blueberry wine.
He had found cases of blueberries packed in mason jars in the cold cellar of a home he was renovating in 1999. Labels indicated that they had been picked in 1969 and 1970. They were still sealed and in spotless condition. A lot of pies were baked, but eventually Eugene decided to take the remaining berries to an old trapper couple on the Ranger Lake road so that they could make him some wine.
Eugene saved a couple of bottles until now, about 12 or 13 years. He thought that I might like to try one, but he had no idea on the quality. So, here we go: a 12 year old bottle of wine made from blueberries picked over 40 years ago.
I opened the bottle this evening. I could see that the neck was stained brown from the wine over the years. Would it be vinegar? Completely over the hill? In fact, no. It was a beautiful surprise. A deep clear amber in colour, it has the slightest shimmer of blue. In aroma and taste it reminds me very much of a very good oloroso sherry, with just a kiss of sweetness. In short, it’s delicious.
I don’t know what the makers were aiming for in the first place, but the result at this stage, blind luck or not, is impressive. I’ve never had a homemade wine like it. Thank-you, Eugene!
Have you heard about “The Little Grape That Could”? Launched towards the end of July, are two wines, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Torrontes. The red is a nicely balanced and dry with good fruit, and the Torrontes is an aromatic white with just a touch of sweetness. Both are made in Argentina.
Aside from giving good value at $11.95, all the profit from these wines goes to charity. What makes it particularly interesting is that the purchasers, you and I, can direct the profit from the bottle we purchase to a specific charity identified on the website, www.thelittlegrapethatcould.com. As well, people are invited to submit the names of people who have touched the lives of others so they can be celebrated right on the bottle – and you’re invited to raise a glass in their honour.
Apparently, not only does giving make you feel good, it makes you more sensitive to sweet and bitter tastes. Test that out with The Little Grape that Could.
I don’t claim any expertise regarding scotch whisky, but there are a couple out there that I just have to tell you about.
First of all there’s Longrow CV Heavily Peated Campbeltown Single Malt, $82.95. Here’s the LCBO ‘s tasting note, word for word:
“Wonderful bouquet features aromas of sawdust, dry cheese, lanolin, wax paper, peatreek, chalk, kippers, unused band-aid, medicine chest and dried tobacco leaf. Palate entry offers flavors of tobacco smoke, smoked fish, honey and grain; midpalate adds tangy flavors of spiced rum, vanilla cake frosting, cocoa butter, milk chocolate and sweet oak. Concludes with vivid tastes of grain, cheese, dried fruit and brown sugar. Classic. Highest Recommendation. Score - 96-100. (F. Paul Pacult, Wine Enthusiast, Dec. 15, 2009)”
Kippers, dry cheese, sawdust…Yum. The Northern Avenue store has 6 bottles.
If that’s not to your taste, consider the Glenfiddich 50 years old Speyside Single Malt:
“Nose: We are talking 50 years, and yet we are still talking fresh barley, freshly peeled grape and honey. Not ordinary honey. Not the stuff you find in jars. But the pollen that attracts the bee to the petunia; and not any old petunia; not the white or the red or pink or yellow, but the two-toned purple ones. For on the nose at least this is perfection; this is nectar.... Taste: A silky delivery: silky barley with silky, watered down maple syrup. The middle ground, in some previous Glenfiddich 50-year-olds a forest of pine and oak, is this time filled with soft, grassy barley and the vaguest hint of a distant smoke spice; Finish: Long, long, long, with the very faintest snatch of something most delicately smoked: a distant puff of peat reek carried off on the persistent Speyside winds, then a winding-down of vanillas, dropping through the gears of sweetness until the very last traces are chalky dry; Balance: ... This is brilliant ... Score - 97. (Jim Murray, Whisky Bible, 2010) “
There is just one bottle in the province, at the Summerhill store in Toronto. It costs $26,000. (No Typo!) We better buy our LottoMax tickets.
Earlier this month, I read about “Natural Wine”. Organic wine strives for pure and natural methods in grape growing and wine-making. Biodynamic wine takes things further by following natural cycles in every step of production. Natural Wine takes it to the edge and beyond with almost no intervention at all from the growing of the grapes to making the wine. It is very controversial, and can result in some really bad wines - how does “aromas of puppy’s breath” sound? Yet other wines sound as if they resemble that wonderful blueberry wine I just opened. When I know more, I’ll share.
The Art Gallery of Algoma will be hosting a wine and food tasting on Thursday, September 13 at 7:00P.M. We will pair 6 wines with dishes prepared by the Gallery’s own Marjorie Butterfield. Tickets are $45 per person, and a charitable tax receipt will be provided for $20. To book, contact the Gallery Gift Shop at 705-949-9067, extension 106.
And now, for some wines:
Limited Time Offers
Some good wines on the regular list, as well as the Cannonau di Sardegna, a Vintages Essential, are available until September 16 at a dollar or two off. This Canonnau is plump and forward with plummy fruit, and well worth $13.95. A Spanish red on the regular list, Castillo de Almansa Reserva is $1 off at $10.95 and provides consistent good value. For Malbec fans, Tilia Malbec, with several good reviews, is $11.95, juicy with dark fruit, smoke and mocha notes.
For a different white, consider the Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc from South Africa at $11.95. It has won “best value” ratings from the Wine Spectator for 6 years in a row. It shows an interesting combination of baked apple and citrus, and works well with spicy shrimp. Reif Riesling from one of the Ontario masters of the German style is $10.95. Peach and pear notes are followed by good minerality and grapefruit-like acidity.
New in Vintages
Oscar’s Estate Shiraz Viognier, from Australia’s BarossaValley is $17. Expect rich and concentrated dark fruit flavours and a spicy bold finish. A good buy for a wine of this quality.
The Monte Quieto Quieto 3 Malbec, $14.95, has excellent intensity and good depth with vanilla and coffee notes along with red fruit.
From Spain, the Lan Crianza 2008 is the latest version of a tempranillo that made the Wine Spectator’s “Top 100” list a couple of years ago. Only $15.95, it is dry and full-bodied with some cedar or sandalwood elements. By law, Crianza wines are aged for at least two years, with a minimum of 6 months in oak.
Ruca Malen Reserva Petit Verdot from Argentina, $18.95 showcases a Bordeaux grape we rarely see on its own. England’s Decanter Magazine’s tasting notes suggest violets on the nose, big juicy tannins, and black cherry, clove and chocolate flavours.
13th Street Merlot ,$17.95, from Niagara is a winner. Though unoaked, it displays cinnamon spice with cherry and raspberry fruit. It has good acidity and should pair well with ham.
Luigi Bosca Chardonnay from Argentina, $17.95, delivers tropical fruit and oak and has a very pleasing texture. There is some sweetness and spice on the finish.
André Blanck et Ses Fils Rosenburg Pinot Blanc, $13.95, from Alsace is not as spicy as a Pinot Gris can be, but it provides a great mouth feel with apple and pear notes and some flinty minerality on the finish.