Each week I review two wines with my “Sip It!”-or-“Skip It!” recommendation, a rating of one to five corks, and an overall summary based on the [Hugh] Johnson System (abbreviated HJ). (All Vintages and product numbers refer to the LCBO.)
Santa Rita Reserva Carmenere (Rapel Valley, Chile, 2013)
LCBO #: 177774 | 750 mL bottle | $13.95
Wine Type: Red
Three little letters: W-O-W. At the price point, I have to admit I was slightly concerned (see my Merlot experience below), but this was definitely one of those value-for-money purchases. Let the wine sit, let the flavours bloom, and what you have is a tasty, full-bodied wine with prominent dried fruit (prune) and black fruit jammy notes, mainly blackberry and currant. Cloves and slightly herbaceous — faint tobacco plays around the edges. The woodiness adds depth. This wine is well-balanced and well-structured, smooth, and would pair well with red meat or game.
HJ System Scoring: 2 glasses (means I quite liked the wine, or there is nothing else to drink)
Casillero del Diablo Reserva Merlot (Central Valley, Chile, 2013)
LCBO #: 427088 | 750 mL bottle | $13.90
Wine Type: Red
Disappointing. This wine struck me as overly bitter and acidic and perhaps a little less fuller bodied than I was expecting of a Chilean Merlot. I hoped for the bold and exciting flavours typical of this varietal and region, but got something of a bit more “middling quality” (I enjoy that description in last week’s Vouvray post; I’m appropriating it). On the nose, this wine’s bouquet includes strawberries and tart red cherries, mellowed slightly on taste by hints of vanilla and baking spices. I could see this working well with venison or boar, but I’m not sure I’d give it a second chance.
HJ System Scoring: 1 sip (not even a faint interest!)
Dispatches from the world of wine – a roundup of blog and news articles of the week.
- Aboriginal owned and operated Nk’Mip Cellars from B.C. named one of the Top 10 Wineries of the Year at the InterVin Wine Awards Competition.
- President Obama uncorked…no, wait…unscrewed affordable American wine at a recent state dinner with Chinese President Hu Jintao. What happened to expensive California Pinot Noirs?
- Maybe it’s because California wine is too expensive? The San Francisco Chronicle’s Jon Bonne hazards a guess as to why.
- Bordeaux fans get ready — En Primeur might put a dent in your wallet as winemakers hail a “magnificent” 2015 harvest.
- Did you know that Vatican City drinks more wine per person than anywhere else in the world? Must be all the sacramental vino…
- Is Soweto South Africa’s next up-and-coming wine destination? In its eleventh year, the Soweto Wine Festival had over 900 wines on offer and record-breaking numbers.
- It’s not the terroir you taste, it’s the microbes…or, at least, they play a bigger part in flavouring wine than we originally imagined.
Wine world miscellanea – from varieties to regions, and from vine to bottle.
THIS WEEK: WINE REGION
What Would Eleanor of Aquitaine Have Drunk? Or, a Tour of France’s Sud-Ouest Wine Region…
The Montreal Gazette profiled France’s Sud-Ouest this week, the lesser-known and perhaps under-appreciated southern neighbour of the stunning Bordeaux region. With around 16,000 acres under vine, the Sud-Ouest stretches from the upstream areas around the Dordogne and Garonne rivers to the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees, capturing the subregions of Dordogne/Bergerac, Garonne, Gascony (also known for Armagnac), Béarne and the Northern Basque Country. The terroir is as varied as the climate, producing mainstays of the wine world, like Malbec and Tannat, as well as more obscure varieties, including Fer and Negrette (both red varieties), and Colombard, Manseng and Ugni Blanc (all whites). Wines from the region are quite affordable, compared with other areas of the country, but will they stay that way when word gets out?
WSET STUDY BUDDY
As I diligently study for my WSET Level 2, I share some of my favourite web resources on wine — from podcasts to infographics to apps, oh my!
This week is all about videos, especially for those of us who might be more audio or visual learners (or, if like me, you’re bored of reading about soil and aspect and climate and annual yields from the pages of a book). I think I’ve made it all the way through some LCBO videos that had me hooked for their breadth of topics covered and ease of watching. Hosted by Michael Fagan, the series offers a light smattering of some of the world’s most well-known regions: the wines of Italy (in three parts), France by region (but only a few: Bordeaux, the Rhone Valley, Alsace), Chile, Port (sadly, not Portugese wine more broadly), and others. I highly recommend checking out the YouTube channel: “Discover Wine Series with Michael Fagan.”