Archive for October, 2015

Alan Kerr’s Vintages October 31st Release Notes

Sophisticated, singular wines. That is the heading on the brochure of the Vintages release on October 31st. This release features some of the “Super Tuscan” wines of Italy. There will be some really tasty wines that should complement any super scary Halloween bash or would be nice to sip a glass whilst handing out Halloween treats to the kiddies. (Click images to enlarge.)


Cherry and alcohol at first, then some notes of red fruit, cigar leaf and black raspberry arise. Not too much excitement on the palate either, it lacks oomph, has some heat and it finishes thin. Find this wine

Lovely earthy, sewer, mineral and clay aromas are soon overshadowed by wave after wave of dark berry, blackcurrant, anise and sour cherry. It has great texture; the Asian spice, black cherry and currant flavours shine. There is tannin, but it is silky. A super Halloween counterpart for liver and fava beans. Find this wine

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Sipping in Cincinnati

One of the numerous benefits to living in a country where one can experience the value of non-government controlled wine sales is being able to sample wines in store. Should they chose to, a privately run business can offer customers the opportunity to experience, learn from and enjoy an in-store public tasting.

I know several product consultants working for the LCBO who have amazing palates. I have been fortunate to taste with them on many occasions. However, due to the LCBO’s backward and archaic methods of retailing wine in Ontario, wine shoppers never get to witness and benefit from the skills these product consultants could convey.

On a recent visit to the land of Cincinnati, and home of great friends Cyndi and Mike Hughes, we were able to visit one such store. The Wine Merchant on Cincinnati’s East Side is one of several stores in the city that offer a more progressive means to retail their wares. Here one can taste numerous wines for fifty cents at the tasting bar or grab an ounce or two of something premium poured from their nifty Napa Technology Wine Station. Early on a balmy Saturday afternoon in late October we attended the store’s “ultra-premium” tasting that is held every Saturday from noon to five or until the wines run out.

Each week the wine consultants showcase a different theme. On this visit we tasted generous pours of four wines entitled “Undiscovered Italians”. All had been decanted in the early hours of the day. To stifle any hunger, there was cheese, an assortment of salumi and baguette included for nibbling. The cost of this event is a mere $15.00 and should one decide to purchase any of the wines, they are offered at a seriously discounted prices.

These are my observations. All were exceedingly good, but my notes are in order of my personal preference, starting with my least favourite, although I must point out I enjoyed them all, but one has to come in fourth spot, does it not?

Capezzana Ghiaie della Furba, Tuscany 2008. $54.99 Tasting price $48.99
A rustic wine showing plenty of spice, cigar leaf, black pepper, cherry and Kirsch aromas. The palate starts out as a power house, tannins are still quite evident, it parades its fruit nicely at first while anise and sweet spice enhance. It is tasty and chewy, but the fruit soon fades as the tannins overpower. Find this wine

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Red Wings and Red Rhônes All Over Again

Yes, it’s that time of year, and about the only two things I really like about October is Detroit Red Wings hockey and those big red Rhônes that we drink while rooting for the boys with the winged wheel on their jerseys. We started this tradition almost 20 years ago, and I’m happy to report that it’s still going strong, as we kicked off the new season with some solid mojo.

The two Châteauneuf-du-Pape selections were enjoyed during pre-season games. (Click images to enlarge.)

2012 Domaine de Fontavin Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Empire, 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% alc., $22.99: Clean and dark in color, with earthy black plum and hints of the barnyard and some iron on the nose; the flavors echo, with a rich, chocolaty texture and earthy chocolate overtones. Deep and very well structured, and despite the big tannins, this has tons of flavor too, and there’s already plenty to like here. It really opens nicely after an hour or so, becoming even more enjoyable, so decanting is a good policy for near term drinking. With extended air, it takes on characteristics not unlike a theoretical blend of saddle leather and cocoa powder; strange, but true, and quite tasty! Our friendly local Costco sold out of this before I could get more, but it may still be available at other outlets. Find this wine

Imported by Misa Imports, Inc., Dallas, TX

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Alan Kerr’s Vintage’s October 17th Release Notes

It has been too long since I had the privilege to shoot to London and taste some of the juice flowing onto the LCBO’s Vintages shelving this coming Saturday. As a bonus, the feature release is Napa Gold Rush, a region I have many fond memories of travelling around and tasting. Also there are several Piedmontese wines from the highly touted 2010 vintage to be had. Overall, there are many great wines to be found, the prices are steeper than some of the Napa valley slopes, but Napa has always carried high price tags for their premium wines. (Click images to enlarge.)

Wines of the month.

256768 BLACK STALLION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 Napa Valley, California $32.95
Minty and chocolate aromas, toasty oak, currant and dark fruit, mocha and nutmeg; the palate shows plum and dusty tannin, with good acidity to keep it lively, but mid palate struggles to live up to the nose. Find this wine

222877 CAYMUS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 Napa Valley $99.95
Sweet dark berry pie, vanilla, buttery and laden with aromas of cola, thyme, black toffee and black licorice; showing heaps of blackcurrant, blueberry, sweet chewy nougat and chocolate in the mouth. A bit of a monster, but showing well already. Find this wine

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A Crown of Cab Vertical

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of taking part in a vertical tasting of the Lake Michigan Shore winery Domaine Berrien Cellars Bordeaux-style dry red blend, Crown of Cab. The tasting, open to invited members of the Michigan wine press and a limited number of ticketed wine lovers, was held at Michigan By The Bottle Tasting Room’s Royal Oak location, and featured vintages 2006 through 2010, pulled from MBTBTR proprietors Shannon and Cortney Casey’s personal cellar, along with the current vintage, 2012. Domaine Berrien Winemaker/Co-Owner Wally Maurer and Co-Owner Katie Maurer were also on hand, and they brought along the 2005 vintage to add to the lineup. (Click images to enlarge.)

Up until this tasting, my experience with Domaine Berrien had been limited to trying some of their wines at the two MBTB tasting rooms (they’re one of the wineries that partnered with the Caseys to create these establishments) and evaluating some of their offerings as part of the tasting panel some years back. I’d been impressed with what I’d tried previously, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get to know one of their premier bottlings a lot better.

Domaine Berrien Cellars is a small, boutique winery specializing in estate-grown, handcrafted wines, and, depending on the ravages of recent winters, annual production can be as much as 4,500 cases. Readers can learn more about the history of this fine producer at their website; for my purposes, I’ll focus on the wines featured at the tasting.

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