Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Hooray for House Wine!

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/house_wine
Dear Sukasa Style Wine Wednesday readers, seasons change, leaves turn colour but our love for wine never wanes.

One doesn't necessarily want to open that 2005 Left Bank Bordeaux or dust off that 1996 Barolo just yet because there's a special occasion for everything special in life but we also know that life remains too short to drink plonk, so what's the solution? We all need a good house wine at home to open at the ready regardless of the occasion.

The challenge here is to dig up some picks with a high QPR: it should taste good without breaking the bank. Given the premiums we pay in Ontario over most North American jurisdictions, that is a challenge but here are some picks to consider that come in at less than $12 for a standard 750ml bottle and that are representative of a variety of styles.

Remember, these aren't necessarily the most complex wines; they taste good, can be served with a variety of foods and are, in our opinion, a great value that you can enjoy with your loved one and that surprise guest.

OSBORNE SOLAZ TEMPRANILLO CABERNET SAUVIGNON
LCBO 610188 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 11.45
Made in: Rueda, Spain
By: Osborne Y Cia
Wine, Red Wine
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Style: Medium-bodied & Fruity
Varietal: Blend
Sugar Content: 9 g/L
Sweetness Descriptor: D - Dry
Tasting Note
Dark ruby colour; strawberry, fruit compote, tar, smoke and plum aromas; dry, medium bodied palate with medium body, plum and currant flavours and moderate tannin on the finish.
Serving Suggestion
Tapas, barbecued spareribs, burgers or roast poultry.

  
THE PAVILLION SHIRAZ CABERNET SAUVIGNON
LCBO 222299 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 11.90
Made in: South Africa
By: Boschendal Estate Wines
Wine, Red Wine
14.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Style: Full-bodied & Smooth
Varietal: Blend
Sugar Content: 5 g/L
Sweetness Descriptor: XD - Extra Dry
Tasting Note
Bright ruby with purple highlights; cassis, cherry and oak spice; dry, medium to full bodied; ripe black fruit flavours, with a touch of spice, soft tannin in medium length finish
Serving Suggestion
Serve with lamb kabobs or pepper steak



PELEE ISLAND GEWURZTRAMINER RIESLING VQA UMBRELLA
LCBO 109991 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 11.95
This is a VQA wine
Made in: Ontario, Canada
By: Pelee Island Vineyard Inc.
Wine, White Wine
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Style: Aromatic & Flavourful
Varietal: Blend
Sugar Content: 16 g/L
Sweetness Descriptor: D - Dry
Tasting Note
A fragrant white wine with an inviting nose of peach and ripe exotic fruit. Fresh acidity balances the slight sweetness with a clean finish.
Serving Suggestion
Try it with full flavoured cheeses, spicy Asian cuisine or seafood.



THELEMA MOUNTAIN RED
LCBO 222570 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 11.95
Made in: South Africa
By: Thelema Mountain Vineyards (Pty) Lt
Wine, Red Wine
14.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Style: Full-bodied & Firm
Varietal: Blend
Sugar Content: 5 g/L
Sweetness Descriptor: XD - Extra Dry
Tasting Note
Deep ruby; plum, black cherry, with spice and smoky aromas; dry, medium/full body; black fruit flavours with pepper and smoky notes in the finish, meduim tannins
Serving Suggestion
Serve now with lamb burgers or cellar for 1 - 2 years


HARDYS STAMP SERIES SEMILLON CHARDONNAY
LCBO 335638 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 9.95
Made in: Australia
By: Constellation Wines Australia
Wine, White Wine
13.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Style: Full-bodied & Rich
Varietal: Blend
Sugar Content: 7 g/L
Sweetness Descriptor: D - Dry
Tasting Note
Light golden colour; popcorn, tropical fruit and pineapple aromas; dry, medium-full body, round flavour, balanced peach and citrus with a tropical fruit finish.
Serving Suggestion
Cream sauced pasta, boiled lobster
YVON MAU COLOMBARD CHARDONNAY VDP
LCBO 627265 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 8.95
Made in: Languedoc Roussillon (Midi), France
By: Yvon Mau Et Fils
Wine, White Wine
11.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Style: Light & Crisp
Varietal: Blend
Sugar Content: 12 g/L
Sweetness Descriptor: D - Dry
Tasting Note
Pale straw; delicate citrus, grassy and apple aromas; dry, light bodied with crisp acidity, candied citrus, pear and apple flavours.
Serving Suggestion
Serve as an aperitif; scallops with lemongrass; grilled pork; fish or mussels.



 Blog Post by Arijit Banik for SukasaStyle


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Small Lot, Big Taste


Does the terroir of the Beamsville Bench sub appellation in the Niagara region, make it the best wine growing region in Ontario? Thirty Bench would argue that is does and their wines speak for themselves. Any oenophile that is visiting the region should make the detour to 4281 Mountainview Road to pick up either their Riesling or Reds – from Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon— that are always made in small lots. This isn’t large scale winemaking so while it is a small lot producer, the wines come with a big ticket price and, given time to mature, bigger taste.

This Wine Wednesday pick from Sukasa Style focuses on the 2007 Cabernet Franc which we were fortunate enough to drink in the company of friends. As we have stressed, time and again, tasting wine should not be a scientific exercise controlled in the antiseptic environs of a laboratory, it should be the embodiment of la dolce vita and epicurean – in the company of great food, great conversation, and a relaxed atmosphere.

Of the recent vintages, the Thirty Bench wine makers characterized the 2007 vintage as a standout. Their tasting notes state the following:
This full-bodied Cabernet Franc and its well structured, rich mouth feel and silky tannins are true expressions of our Beamsville Bench vineyard.
An enticing bouquet of plum, red and black fruit and tobacco with flavours of blueberry, sweet spice & cocoa linger on the finish.
This wine is sure to age gracefully to 2015. If enjoying before 2011, one to two hours of decanting will assist in developing the full potential of this wine.

The decanting was performed in advance of the meal, the pairing were grilled barbequed meats ranging from prime steak cuts to juicy kabobs.

Cabernet franc can often be a one dimensional varietal, in our estimation this was not: it had the right balance; the right nose mixing fruit, spice and flowers; and the right palate that was ripe without being saccharin; yes there was oak, and a bit of heat (13% alcohol) but the tannins were complementary rather than overwhelming thanks to the decanting. Everyone’s palate is different but the guests on hand rated this Beamsville Bench entry a winner.

Order direct from the winery: http://www.thirtybench.com/
Sukasa Style Rating: 4.5 stars
Quality to Price Rating: Average - Good


 Blog Post by Arijit Banik for SukasaStyle

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Go Big or Go Home but Ruffle Some Feathers along the way

Summer may have come to an end after Labour Day and barbeque season may be over but the time for good wine never ceases. Here at Sukasa Style’s Wine Wednesday we go south of the border to the great state of California, home to Ravens Wood Winery and its iconic 2011 Vintners Blend Old Vine Zinfandel (VINTAGES 359257) that is currently priced at $15.95 at the LCBO and a dear $19.25 at the SAQ.

The price is important because it is another illustration that borders matter, not only between countries but also between provinces and states, and how the Canadian consumer continues to be ripped off. Here is a wine that sells in the United States anywhere from $6.5-$12 depending upon the state and type of establishment. The law of ‘one price’ may occur in international trade text books but rarely converge in reality – LCBO and SAQ should remember that their funding comes from the consumers (i.e. taxpayers) who frequent their fine establishments and price accordingly not usuriously. Notwithstanding transportation and tariffs there should be a reasonable mark-up so that Canadian consumers aren’t penalized in such an unfair fashion.

Now that the diatribe has ended let’s return to this week’s wine Wednesday pick, an unapologetic fruit forward New World 13.5% alcohol blockbuster that perfectly complements barbequed flank steak, a gourmet burger, or shish kabob while also being a crowd pleasing sipper for those willing to migrate from Yellow Tail shiraz’s high school palate.

The first impression is an intense colour between indigo and violet on the spectrum that is accompanied by a lot of spice, fruit --raspberry and blueberry-- and oak on the nose that greets on the initial mouth-feel before softening on the mid palate and flourishing on the finish.

The producers do not apologize for this for this is the point of the wine: their branding tagline is “Ruffle some feathers” and they are eager to change the collective thought of California Zinfandel being a timid blush to being a full bodied and smooth option that is, thanks to its surprising balance, suitable for drinking now or laying down till 2020.

Thankfully, there is enough acidity and tannin in this blend to breakdown the sweet and spicy sauces of a complementing barbequed grilled meat. It is oaky without being over oaked as there is enough going on to keep a New World lover happy.

Chill it a bit and serve the wine at 16-18 oCelsius.

If big oak and fruit forward New World taste is not your thing then you will give it a pass  which is a shame for if an open mind complements your palate and you are flexible in terms of the wine to pair for the occasion then don’t forget this must try from Ravens Wood. Go Big or Go Home but remember to Ruffle some feathers along the way.

2011 composition: 75% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, 6% Syrah, 3% others.

4.4 Sukasa Stars (out of 5)
Quality Price Ratio (at U.S. prices) Outstanding.
QPR (at Canadian prices) Good.


 Blog Post by Arijit Banik for SukasaStyle