“A visit to Jim’s slightly less affordable cellar.”

Issue #8   November, 2019

Well here we are once again at the foot of this year’s winter mountain. You could say we’re at base camp. Otherwise known as November.

As we all know only too well, there’s some tough sledding ahead. Really, we’re left with no choice but to grin and bear it, fully embrace it, or go to Florida.

In the meantime, because this month is the first in a while with cool, damp weather, maybe we deserve to brighten the gloom by treating ourselves. So this month, we’re going to live a little and break our usual under $20 rule. Fiscally friendly wine will take a back seat to three bottles that can pleasantly melt any thoughts we may have about approaching ice pellets.

The great Italian film director, Sergio Leone made a number of classic films starring Clint Eastwood that became known as ‘spaghetti westerns’. The theme of this issue, comes from the name of one of those films. ‘For a Few Dollars More’.

Welcome back to the cellar.

For this month, let’s call it Jim’s Slightly Less Affordable Cellar.

While the heat of summer not only calls for but demands a crisp, dry Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, a rich and full Chardonnay is just what Dr. November prescribes. This one comes to us from the home of Chardonnay; the Burgundy region of eastern France. There’s nothing like a white burgundy and Louis Jadot’s Bourgogne Chardonnay is an excellent example.

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Louis Jadot Bourgogne Chardonnay
Burgundy, France
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  933077
$24.95

What I really like about this burgundy is that unlike some Chardonnays, its makers are not heavy-handed with oak. They keep it subtle and let the grapes do the talking. It has a beautiful early morning golden hue. (Don’t worry, I’m not drinking it in the early morning). It has a scent of citrus, of pears and honeydew melon. And in the mouth, it’s rich and full and soft and creamy with a friendly refreshing hello from granny smith.   

As I mentioned Burgundy is the home of Chardonnay. But for me, this burgundy is quite at home in a glass in my hand.

Since the theme of this newsletter comes from a Sergio Leone film, it is only fitting that we get to know a red wine from the director’s homeland. Italy. Tuscany to be exact. So let’s get to know a blockbuster of a Chianti. Ser Lapo Riserva Chianti Classico 2016.

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Mazzei Ser Lapo Riserva Chianti Classico 2016
Tuscany, Italy
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  288530
$24.95

This Chianti is deep ruby. Brooding and dark like November at five in the afternoon. Sorry for the reminder. It has a strong essence of black cherry and raspberry with sort of an orangey-ness. But the best part is having a sip. It’s medium bodied and smooth. There’s an ashy, woody flavour with some leathery spice and nice puckering tannins.

In the classic 1991 psychological thriller ‘Silence of the Lambs’, Hannibal Lecter famously liked someone’s liver and fava beans with a nice Chianti. This one would also be quite nice with a spaghetti western.

For our under the radar wine this month, just for fun I thought we should go ‘Down Under’ the radar. There isn’t anything really too out of one’s comfort zone, or that unknown about a Shiraz from Australia, except perhaps that everywhere else in the world, this grape is referred to as Syrah. I think it’s safe to say that we can refer to Best’s Bin No. 1 Shiraz as mighty nice.

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Best’s Bin No. 1 Shiraz 2016
Victoria, Australia
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  222323
$21.95

When you study it in your glass it’s an inky, November shadow. It invites you to drink with aromas of plums, black berries and maybe a bit of pepper. And then when you do, you get a velvety mouth wash of deep raspberry and ripe peaches.

All that said, here’s the fundamental question we need to ask of every bottle of wine.  Is it good? In this case, you can bet shiraz it’s good.

It’s time to leave the cellar for another month. I hope to see you back here in December. Until then, keep your glass of wine close and you’re friends even closer.

Jim

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