Let’s begin our story with a splash of Robbie Burns.
FAIR Empress of the Poet’s soul,
And Queen of Poetesses;
Clarinda, take this little boon,
This humble pair of glasses:
And fill them up with generous juice,
As generous as your mind;
And pledge them to the generous toast,
“The whole of human kind!”
“To those who love us!” second fill;
But not to those whom we love;
Lest we love those who love not us—
A third—“To thee and me, Love!”
This poem resonated with me as the tasting last Sunday began with two humble glasses. In those glasses was a generous pour of sparkling wine. I was not aware of the content of either glass. I swirled, I smelled, and I sipped. My “friends” who likely “love not us” asked me “which wine do you prefer?” Without hesitation, I replied “the first”. Of course, the follow-up question was “why?”. “The first is richer and has a fuller body”, I replied with great confidence. “The second is, perhaps more refreshing, but I detect sweetness to the point where the sugar makes the wine less enjoyable to me.”
The tinfoil that hid the wines’ identity was removed from the two bottles and, to the great amusement to everyone but me, the wines were identical. Lesson learned? If you want to humble an asshole wine friend then serve her or him the identical wine at two different temperatures. The second lesson learned? Sparkling wine pairs well with a large slice of humble pie.
After the tasting, I made it a priority to acquire an ample number of bottles of the $20 La Chablisienne Le Finage Chablis 2014 Chardonnay—VINTAGES#: 556340. Once people discover the high quality of this wine it will sell out quickly. The 2014 vintage in Chablis was terrific, the cooperative that produces this wine has a deserved and good reputation, the wine has beautiful fruit, the classic nose of decent Chablis, wonderful acidity, and good length. Incredible value at $20. Our friends in France pay almost as much for this wine as the obedient citizens of the People’s Republic of Ontario. If you a fan of Chablis buy this one and be quick about the transaction.
Are you in need of a versatile value red wine? If yes, maybe you should stock up on the $22 Laurent Gauthier Grand Cras Vieilles Vignes Morgon 2015 Gamay—VINTAGES#: 279059. This wine has body and complexity with flavors of red berries and plums. It was a decent tannic structure and good length. This wine is fun to drink on its own and plays well with food. The wine would be more interesting with additional bottle age but I doubt that you will be able to keep your hands off of it long enough to find out. The KGBO (a.k.a., the LCBO) is forcing us to pay a premium as this wine retails for the equivalent of $15CAD in France but our friends in the Excited States of America pay roughly the same price as charged in Ontario. Try serving this red wine chilled. With the hot weather we have experienced recently, put it in the fridge for 45 minutes and then enjoy.
Wines to consider
My humble pie wine was the $25 Henri de Villamont Blanc de Blancs Crémant de Bourgogne Crémant—VINTAGES#: 543116. I’m including this wine as a “wine to consider” because I enjoyed my initial glass. Buy this wine if you need bubbles in (say) a reception environment and be prepared to move onto something else. If you are like me, the 13 grams of residual sugar will cause you to tire of this wine quickly. Make sure that the bottle is well chilled.
The $17 Château Les Hauts de Lagarde Blanc 2017 Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon—VINTAGES#: 387787 is a good way to introduce yourself to the dry white wines of Bordeaux. I believe that a couple of years in the cellar would add more depth and body to this wine but it is hard for me to imagine someone going to the trouble of cellaring a $17 bottle of wine. The posted tasting notes are overstated but I think that you will find that the wine has pleasant orchid and citrus fruit, some minerality, dry, good, acidity and has some complexity. My guess is the producer makes this wine for the US market as it is readily available there for about the same price.
People looking for an entry and aged red wine from Bordeaux should consider trying the $27 Château La Cardonne 2010 Merlot Blend—VINTAGES#: 550244. The tasting notes are pure Robert Parker bullshit. How many “sleepers of the vintage” can there possibly be? Parker thinks that there is a lot of sleeping go on. And, when it comes to wine, just what is a “sleeper”? Don’t be fooled by his nonsense. This wine is decent and is characteristic of red wine from Bordeaux but the experience you will have from consuming this wine will not set your world on fire. It has decent fruit and it is showing some prized aged characteristics. The main reason to buy this wine is to experience an 8-year-old wine at a price does not break the bank. The KGBO is premium pricing this wine as it is available in Europe and the USA for about the equivalent of $22CAD. But, hey, how else can the government find the funds to pay for the severance payments to all the folks at Hydro One? They get the money from you, $5 for each time you pop that cork.
The $19 Donnachiara Montefalcione Fiano di Avellino 2015 Fiano—VINTAGES#: 372482 will be loved by some and shunned by others. It’s quite a complex and intense wine for the money. This is not a fun and fruity sipper. I found this wine to be very enjoyable and interesting. I believe that it would be even more enjoyable with food. The LCBO’s pricing is not too bad as the wine is only a little cheaper in the good old USA.
Have you run out of Tuesday night pizza wine? Then consider buying a few bottles of the $25 Brancaia Tre 2015 Sangiovese Blend—VINTAGES#: 164715. I’m not a fan of James Suckling’s high scores but his written comments that the KGBO posted are pretty accurate. The local wine critics are overly effusive about this wine. You buy this wine because it’s nicely put together and would work well with many Italian dishes. To me, the wine is too engineered as it comes across as being technically correct and therefore lacking personality. The KGBO is aggressively pricing this wine as it commonly retails for the equivalent of $16 in Europe. That’s $5 to pay for Hydro One and another $4 for those canceled gas plants.
Wines to avoid
I am not a fan of overly floral wines so I am avoiding the $14 Castaño Macabeo/Chardonnay 2017 Chardonnay Blend—VINTAGES#: 543793. No one in our tasting group enjoyed this wine. The local professional wine critics disagree completely. It’s your money, give it a go if you want but it’s not a wine for me.
There are noticeable aroma and flavor of dillweed present in the $40 Ontañón Gran Reserva 2005 Tempranillo/Graciano—VINTAGES#: 939736. Again, no one in our group was fond of this wine. Again, the local professional wine critics disagree completely. Perhaps it is worth noting that this wine retails for the equivalent of $22 in Europe. Doug Ford, Premier of the People’s Republic of Ontario, forget this buck a beer shit. It’s wine drinkers that get screwed over in this republic.