October 11 Roundup: Apothic Fad – Winner or Loser?, Trans-Pacific Partnership Welcomed by Winemakers, and All About Fer


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.)

Sip It!
L.A. Cetto Private Reserve Nebbiolo (Baja California, Mexico, 2010)
Vintages #: 590182 | 750 mL bottle | $17.95
Alcohol: 14.5%
Sweetness: Dry
Wine Type: Red

I had one sip, then another, then another; thirty minutes left breathing in the glass, sixty, and finally I was sure. I liked it, not a lot, but enough that it paired well with my slowcooker nut brown ale-braised pork. Absent the big flavours and tannins present in its Italian cousin, this New World Nebbiolo is more subtle, balanced, and even a bit demure, with flavours of cherry, raspberries, red plums and vanilla. On the finish, there’s a pleasant smokiness reminiscent of autumnal camp fires, and a slight acidity that lends some depth, but by no means lengthens the finish.
HJ System Scoring:  1 glass (tolerance, even general approval)

Sip It! (Or Skip It…I’m so torn!)
Apothic Red Blend (Gallo, California, 2011)
LCBO #:  234369| 750 mL bottle | $16.15 (though often on sale for $14)
Alcohol: 13.5%
Sweetness: Sweet
Wine Type: Red
Liking this wine is the equivalent of admitting you have N*Sync on your iPhone playlist, or that you read Fifty Shades of Grey more than once! I’m even concerned about admitting that I didn’t think this was vile  (please don’t judge me). The trouble with this wine is quite literally a sticking point, with just over 16g/L of residual sugar from concentrated grape juice. From what I can tell, serious critics are torn, many deriding this as a horrid bastardization of the sacred libation we all love, while others suggest it might open the door to a new demographic of wine-drinker. The wine itself is unusually sweet and stood up to a very flavorful beef stew, but the jammy quality was almost overpowering. Black fruit, nutty undertones,  slight spice — these are some of the notes that come through, albeit taking a back seat to the sweetness. I can see this being popular with red-wine haters. I don’t think I’ll buy it again, but I kind of liked it in an I’d-never-tell-Steven-Spurrier sort of way.
HJ System Scoring: 1 glass (tolerance, even general approval)

Dispatches from the world of wine – a roundup of blog and news articles of the week.




Wine world miscellanea – from varieties to regions, and from vine to bottle. 


Have you tried Fer?

Fer (also going by the aliases Fer Servadou, Brocol, Caillaba, Folle Rouge, Pinenc and Mansois) is a dark-skinned red grape variety grown primarily in Southwest France, but, more recently, I’ve seen it pop up in lesser-known New World wine regions, like Virginia. It shouldn’t be confused with the Argentinian grape of the same name, which is a clone of Malbec; instead, it’s related to Carmenere.

Fer prefers the stony, iron-rich soil around Marcillac and is the star in many AOC wines in Marcillac, Gaillac and Béarn, where it can make up to 90 per cent of the blend, but also plays a supporting role in Madiran, Cabardès and Bergerac wines.

Wines made from Fer are most often medium-bodied, softly tannic and perfumed, with flavours of red fruit, mainly currant, fig, spice, and smokiness.

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!

There’s a site called “Thirty Fifty,” which, it admits, takes its name from the latitudes both North and South of the equator between which world’s wine grapes are most commonly grown. Established by Chris and Jane Scott, the couple states they’re “about demystifying wine by bringing fun and non-nonsense wine tastings to people in their own homes.” What I really appreciate about their site is a set of pages called the “Learning Zone.” Click on this link and a drop-down menu of epic proportions is revealed — everything from wine regions to a pronunciation guide to book reviews. Perhaps most helpful to WSET learners are the resources found under the “WSET Courses” tab, which includes a study guide section that is home to audio files, articles, interviews and other goodies all related to the course content. So, for me, an aspiring Level 2’er, I have access to an audio file on the wine tasting approach, food and wine matching, factors influencing the style of wine, grape varieties explored, and finally wine regions. I highly recommend checking this site out if you’re looking for fab resources.


One thought on “October 11 Roundup: Apothic Fad – Winner or Loser?, Trans-Pacific Partnership Welcomed by Winemakers, and All About Fer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s