Daylight Wine Saving Time

A couple of weeks ago we marked the end of Daylight Saving Time for this year by turning our clocks back an hour. Granted, now our mornings are brighter. But every afternoon around 4:30 we enter the dark age and begin the long night’s journey into day. 

By the way, the idea of aligning waking hours to daylight hours to conserve candles was first proposed in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin. Among other things, he also invented the urinary catheter. What a guy!

Anyhow, even though we’re off Daylight Saving Time for another year, down here in the cellar we’re on Wine Saving Time. 

Wine Saving Time (WST) is defined in The Concise Affordable Cellar Dictionary as follows: the 365 days of the year when one seeks delicious wine to either hoard (which I’ve been known to do) or when one seeks delicious wine that saves some coin for a second bottle. 

Either way, WST is always the right time.

Welcome back to the cellar.

Speaking of darkness, it simply pours out of our first bottle this month; creating a total eclipse of your wine glass. This wine is made from what I think of as the national grape of Spain, Tempranillo. And man, it’s good! 

Anciano 7 Year Gran Reserva 2013
Tempranillo, Valdepenas DO
750 mL LCBO#: 464214
$12.25 ($14.25 Save $2.00)

Anciano 2013 is a Gran Reserva. I’m kind of amazed it’s only $12.25. In Spain, Gran Reserva wines are typically made in outstanding vintages. And to be given this designation, they must spend considerable time ageing before they are released. 

This one was aged for seven years in the cellars of Bodegas Navalon, including 18 months in oak casks.

That eclipse in the glass I mentioned, has aromas of leather and tobacco. And on the tongue, it gives tastes of black cherry, prunes, cloves and orange.

As for presentation, the bottle comes wrapped in a fine gold wire thread that if anything, helps create the illusion you spent a lot more on it than you did. 

In terms of WST, I’ll be buying more of this one and saving it for someone I know who really, really likes it; me.


Our white this month is a beautiful Vouvray. All Vouvray wines are made with Chenin Blanc grapes that grow along the banks of the Loire River in the Touraine district of France.  The Chenin blanc wines of Vouvray are characterized by the grape’s natural high acidity floral aroma and lively taste.

Bougrier Vouvray Chenin Blanc
Loire, France
750 mL bottle LCBO#:  253229
$16.30

This wine is overflowing with wafts of tangerine, pear and honey. There is a slight sweetness to it but the aforementioned acidity makes sure there is no mistaking it with a dessert wine. In wine vernacular, it is described as ‘off-dry’. Actually, it’s citrus soul is quite refreshing. I had it with baked Arctic Char and they were a perfect match. I think it would also be excellent with Captain High Liner’s Fish Sticks.

I say, hooray for this Vouvray!

Once in a while, a silly rhyme gets the better of me. 

This next bottle is yet another way to make the most of Wine Saving Time. I’ve gone back to that wonderful well in Chile; the winemakers at Cono Sur. We’ve previously met other members of the Bicicleta family, in particular, the Viognier and Chenin Blanc. So, I think it’s time we welcome the Cabernet Sauvignon to the cellar.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Cabernet Sauvignon
750 mL bottle LCBO#:  524371
$9.95 ($11.95 Save $2.00)
Limited Time Offer Until November 28, 2021

Cono Sur is a leader in sustainable wine production. And at its current under $10 price point, Bicicleta Cabernet Sauvignon is a lock for some serious wine consumption. 

It’s deep ruby in the glass, with aromas of plum, smoke, cedar, cassis and nuts. Smokey plum, cassis and ripe berry fruit entertain the taste buds. 

WST Alert: It’s only on sale until November 28th. So, in the words of this former adman, hurry, act now!


My gosh, time flies! On Wine Saving Time, it’s so easy to lose an hour or two. But we gain with the wine we get to know. Oh, and here’s a little info from chapter one of The Concise Affordable Cellar Field Guide and Manual. If it’s 4pm and you feel like a glass of wine, temporarily turn your clock forward an hour. Conversely, if it’s late and you feel like one last sip for the night, turn your clock back.

There you go. Another handy wine note from the cellar.

I hope you make the most of Wine Saving Time and we’ll see you in December. Until then, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer.

 Jim

Thanks to everyone for signing up to my web page where you’ll see this each month as a blog. If you know anyone who is interested in following the newsletter, they just have to visit jimsafffordablecellar.ca to submit their email. They’ll be notified each month, as will you when each new issue is published. And the newsletter is a little more reader-friendly there.

Please let me know if you’d like to share some wine you love with the rest of us. roamingbuffalo44@gmail.com 

High Performance Reds

Issue #31 October, 2021

These days, our deciduous friends are blushing in vibrant shades of ruby, crimson and scarlet.  So, I thought it only appropriate that we celebrate this colourful month (let’s call it Redtober) by spending time here in the cellar with not one, not two but with four tasty high performance reds that can take you from 0 to the LCBO faster than you might have thought possible.

We’ve never dedicated our time exclusively to red wine and it’s not that we need an excuse, but the cooler temps are certainly a reasonable justification. 

At any rate, it’s time to step on it and meet this month’s bottles. So, as Admiral David Farragut of the U.S. Navy said back in the 1800’s, ‘Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.’ 

Welcome back to the cellar.

We kicked off this issue with a rather beautiful red car, so we’ll kick off our tasting with a rather beautiful red Carmenère 2019. This grape now grows abundantly in Chile but is considered one of the original six red grapes of Bordeaux. It’s almost impossible to find in France today, due to the Phylloxera plague of 1867. 

(See issue 14, May 2020,  ‘When the French wine industry was brought to its knees by an aphid.’)

Morandé Gran Reserva Carmenère 2019
Maipo Valley, Chile
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  371112
$16.95

Carmenère generally has a cherry-like, fruity flavor with smoky, spicy and earthy notes and a deep, crimson colour. And that certainly describes Morandé Gran Reserva Carmenère 2019.

The wine producers of Bordeaux must be envious (hopefully no sour grapes) of Chile; now home to this wonderful grape and the unique-tasting full-bodied wine it produces.  Morandé Gran Reserva will always have a home in this cellar.


The Clare Valley in South Australia produces many excellent reds. This area is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions, best known for producing Riesling. But our next wine proves that The Clare can also turn a few heads with its Cabernet Sauvignon.

Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
South Australia, Australia
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  675223
$19.95

Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Cab Sauv 2017 definitely belongs in the high-performance wine club. In the glass, it’s as dark as a witch’s cape. It has aromas of ripe raspberries and cassis. It’s rich, full of flavour and can disappear from your glass like a Ferrari on a straight-away. 


Now for our next red, I’ve dusted off a bottle from Portugal. I have to admit, the name of this one sounds like the fragrance of a scented candle. But as explained on the back of the bottle, the flavours and texture of this wine are a tribute to the Portuguese explorers who discovered the silk and spice routes in the 1500’s. 

Silk & Spice 2019 Red Blend
Portugal
750 mL bottle LCBO#:  533307
$10.95

Silk & Spice is a blend of four grapes; Syrah, Baga, Alicante Bouschet and Portugal’s finest grape, Touriga Nacional. Together, they pour a deep, garnet colour with aromas of blackberry, nutmeg, pepper and cedar. This wine is smooth and silky with tastes of smoky berries, vanilla and cinnamon. 

It’s on sale right now for a couple of bucks off, making it a pretty good find, some 500 years after Mr. Magellan and friends discovered the spice route that inspires its name.


Back in May we spent a little quality time with a lovely Pinot Noir from Oregon. I mentioned that Oregon is credited with producing some of the best Pinots outside of Burgundy, France. There’s a very good reason for this. It is located at 45degrees North latitude; exactly parallel with Burgundy. Those finicky grapes know what they like. And I like a good Pinot, so here’s one that granted, pushes the limits of ‘affordability’ but considering it’s our fourth red, wine not.

Cloudline Pinot Noir 2019
Oregon, USA
750 mL bottle VINTAGES #159970
$26.95

Cloudline Pinot Noir 2019 comes from Domaine Drouhin in the Dundee Hills of the Willamette Valley, southwest of Portland. If any family has Pinot Noir in its DNA, the Drouhin clan does. Joseph Drouhin began making wine in Burgundy in 1880.

In the glass, it’s a slightly transparent crimson and wafts cranberry, strawberry and cherry wood smoke. Now instead of the usual taste descriptors, this beauty needs no more than a single word; Wow! It is worth going over budget now and then. 

Cloudline Pinot Noir is the perfect example of a red that performs at the highest level with classic, timeless elegance.


That brings us to the end of another get together. I hope you have enjoyed helping me deplete the cellar of four tasty wines. 

I’d be mad at myself if we parted without mentioning two other high performance Reds who deserve to never be forgotten.

The wonderful, gentleman and comedian, Red Skelton. And of course, our very own Red Kelly, who earned eight Stanley Cup rings.

See you in November.

Until then, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer.

 Jim

Thanks to everyone for signing up to my web page where you’ll see this each month as a blog. If you know anyone who is interested in following the newsletter, they just have to visit jimsafffordablecellar.ca to submit their email. They’ll be notified each month, as will you, when each new issue is published. And the newsletter is a little more reader friendly there.

Please let me know if you’d like to share some wine you love with the rest of us. roamingbuffalo44@gmail.com 

A Bounty of Wine

Issue #30 September, 2021

Most every year, this month’s full moon is referred to as the Harvest Moon. Named so because it rises about the same time every evening for a few nights straight in our hemisphere, providing optimal moonlight for farmers harvesting summer crops.

This year’s Harvest Moon, reaches peak illumination on Monday, September 20, at 7:54 p.m.
Naturally, the word harvest gets me thinking about food, which of course gets me thinking about wine. Oh, let’s call a cork a cork, I’m thinking about wine a lot of the time.

The September full moon is often called the Corn Moon. According to the Farmers’ Almanac, this is due to it corresponding with the time of harvesting corn. It also goes by Autumn Moon, Drying Grass Moon, Falling Leaves Moon, Yellow Leaf Moon, and even Ice Moon, depending on which folklore you follow.
I think this year we’ll call it the, Let’s Open Some Wine Moon.

Welcome back to the cellar.

Our first wine is the product of a harvest of grapes from the Niagara Peninsula is a perfect match for this time of year when food is celebrated with family and friends together.

Speck Bros. Family Tree The Padré Cabernet/Merlot 2019
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  18667
$19.95

As the Speck brothers say, Family Tree The Padré Cabernet/Merlot 2019 celebrates the idea of family. It’s made from fruit sourced from their own vineyards but also from those of their friends, neighbours and distant cousins across the Niagara Peninsula.

This is a big, bold blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It’s been aged 16 months in French and American oak barrels, giving some smokiness to its ripe, dark fruit. Pour it with anything big and beefy or a grilled ham steak.

Next on our cellar harvest tasting table adorned with gourds, I’ve set out quite a versatile food wine that will get along great with turkey, grilled steak, ham, salmon or perhaps that old classic; a tuna sandwich on white bread. I know what I’m having for lunch tomorrow.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2020
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  999821
$13.95


Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2020 was first released in 1999 and has always featured Cabernet Sauvignon grown specifically to create it. It comes to us from the Stellenbosch Coastal Region of South Africa; 80 minutes east of Cape Town by train, if you’d like to go. This little pinky is pretty robust, floral and bright, with tangy, zesty red fruit.

No harvest feast would be complete without something on the table from the Rhone Valley.

Ferraton Père & Fils Samorëns Côtes du Rhône 2019
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  168708
$16.95

This bountiful 2019 Côtes Du Rhône Samorëns wafts fragrances of earthy, pepperyness (made up word alert) and pours a deep ruby, plum juice into your glass.
It’s a delicious blend of one of the finest grape tandems there is; Grenache and Syrah. Two old smoothies that just love spending time in a bottle together.
As for partnering with food, this will be great with pork tenderloin and roasted veggies.

The message in this bottle is, delicious!


Okie-dokie. That about wraps things up for our little harvest get together. It’s time we got out of the cellar to check out the beautiful moon. Here’s a little Mr. Young to set the mood!

Next month, in keeping with the colours of the season, we’ll be doing a deep-dive into the wonderful world of reds. I’m giddy already.

Until then, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer.

Jim

Thanks to everyone for signing up to my web page where you’ll see this each month as a blog. If you know anyone who is interested in following the newsletter, they just have to visit jimsafffordablecellar.ca to submit their email. The button is below the ‘back issues’. They’ll be notified each month, as will you, when each new issue is published. The newsletter is a little more reader friendly there.

And please let me know if you’d like to share some wine you love with the rest of us. roamingbuffalo44@gmail.com 

A Summer Wine Fantasy

Issue #29 August, 2021

On the fourth day of this month in 1901, the world of music was given a wonderful gift; a boy named Louis Daniel Armstrong who would one day master the cornet, then the trumpet and become one of the most influential figures in jazz.

Recently I was listening to one of his songs, accompanied by a lively Pinot Noir, when I thought perhaps this month’s wine pics could punctuate a short story (very short, don’t worry) inspired by ‘Satchmo’. (That was one of Armstrong’s nicknames). Just a little fun, mid-summer reading.

And because the beautiful days of August are fleeting, I think we should take the cellar outside this month. So, grab a hammock, or something mushy to sink into while I bring you some wine and ‘Notes of Berries and Satchmo’, a summer wine fantasy. 

Welcome back to the cellar.

Notes of Berries and Satchmo

“The first time I heard it, I didn’t really hear it. I just thought it was the breeze blowing through the vines that morning or some animals talking back and forth somewhere down in the valley. Then I heard it, but I ignored it. Actually, I tried to ignore it, but I couldn’t. It was unmistakable.

     My name is Horn. Jacob Horn. For just five years I’ve been a wine maker. I can actually say it now that I’ve had some years working the vines, that is, lying awake praying to the weather gods. We’ve had five harvests of Pinot Noir grapes and five years turning them into wine with my name on it. HornHill Vineyard. 

     The vines and my little winery are on a hill overlooking the south shore of Skaha Lake in the small community of Okanagan Falls in the Okanagan Valley. The vines have been here a lot longer than I have but they were left untended for a time by the previous owners of this little parcel of paradise.  

     I had studied viniculture in Niagara. That was after years of envisioning myself as a serious musician. In Niagara, a new dream occupied my thoughts; the dream of owning a winery one day. When I discovered this ignored property was for sale, I did what any naive dreamer would do. I jumped in up to my eyebrows.

     That was seven years ago. It took a couple of years getting the operation in order and since then it’s been all about the grapes; those temperamental, difficult, finicky but absolutely beautiful grapes. Until about two weeks ago.

Dürnberg Cool Grüner Veltliner 2020
Niederösterreich, Austria
750 mL bottle  VINTAGES#:  464537
$16.95

You might want to pour yourself a glass of this crisp and dry, aromatic Austrian white, (a tasty alternative to Sauvignon Blanc) while I tell you what happened.

     It was a Tuesday, early one August morning. That time of year, I’m practically living in the vineyard. I was pruning leaves to let more light get at the ripening grapes. It didn’t register as a sound at first. But like someone was ever-so-slightly turning up the volume on an invisible sound system, I soon heard the golden soft and brassy tones of a beautifully played trumpet dancing and drifting through the vines. The notes seemed like they were off in the distance but at the same time, they hung there in the cool morning air right beside me. 

It was disconcerting but put me totally at ease. The dreamy melody just seemed to float there around me. And then, the trumpet faded as gradually as it had arrived. 

     Over a coffee, back in my little office behind the equipment barn, the sounds of that trumpet kept playing over in my mind. Like it was prodding me. Now, I couldn’t not hear it. 

     I loved the movie ‘Field of Dreams’. Was the same thing happening to me, that happened to Ray Kinsella? That was fiction but this was real. Or was I having some kind of wine-maker’s breakdown? No. I heard what I heard; a trumpet being played masterfully.

     Later in the morning, I went back out to that very same place in the vineyard. My boots crunched into the clay-based soil as I was walked between the vines of ripening Pinot Noir. As at dawn, there was nothing, then…….the notes of the horn drifted across the valley to me. It trumpeted in time with my footsteps. But when I stopped in my tracks, it kept playing the same melody line that I had heard earlier. Peaceful, relaxing and magical. I was mesmerized. Then it drifted off on the wind as though it had somewhere else to go.

     Even though the mysterious music in the vineyard was hauntingly beautiful, it had taken me back to that earlier time in my life that I mentioned. As a boy, I had picked up the trumpet. Through my teens I began to believe and dream that one day I would be a great player, like the great Louis Armstrong. I worked at it, harder than anything else. It became an obsession. But after years of study and practice I came to the realization that I probably didn’t have the gift of greatness. So, I put down my trumpet and sadly never picked it up again. 

     Before I tell you the rest of my story, even though I love Pinot Noir, you might want to try this nice Rhone blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Very smooth and elegant. 

Gabriel Meffre La Châsse Grande Réserve 2016
Rhône, France
750 mL bottle  VINTAGES#:  15455
$19.95

As I was saying, I put my trumpet down. Actually, I threw it down; out of sight and out of mind and moved on with my life. 

     I stayed away from the vineyard for the rest of that day trying to make sense of the music that came to me that morning. But I kept hearing the melodic sounds of the horn. As I said earlier, I couldn’t not hear it. And the more I did, the more I thought it was trying to tell me something. But what? 

     Just after supper that night, I was looking at my harvest schedule. The calendar reminded me of the date that day. It was August 4th. I stared in awe. August 4 was Louis Armstrong’s birthday.

     As if pulled by some unknown force, I went into the garage beside the fermentation tanks and grape crushers, to a stack of unpacked, bulging moving boxes. Many times, I’ve called them the ‘litter of my life’. Not knowing what else to do with the stuff, I had stashed them out of the way, seven years ago when I moved to the Okanagan. 

     I lifted it out of the box. It was dusty and tarnished and still showed the dent on the side of the bell (that’s the wide end of the horn) from when I threw it against a wall. But I found myself handling it carefully. I cradled it and carried it back to the wide veranda overlooking the vineyards. And suddenly I knew what the music was telling me.

    As I looked out at the ripening Pinot Noir, with the evening light once again painting the vines gold. I lovingly dusted off my old trumpet, after so many years of despising the failed dream of what it represented. I realized I still loved the sound of that instrument and I could get joy from playing it once again. 

A lock had been opened.

And looking out at my grapes above Skaha Lake and the Okanagan Valley, 

I said to myself, oh what a wonderful world.”


Well, that may have been a bit weird. But as they say, it was a story that had to be told. I hope you enjoyed it. Next month I promise we’ll dive more seriously back into wine. 

Until then, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer.

 Jim

PS My fictional story by no means suggests that I am ignoring the devastating conditions currently being experienced in British Columbia’s interior and particularly the Okanagan. If anything, it is a memory of earlier times and the hope for a better future for our environment.

Thanks to everyone for signing up to my web page where you’ll see this each month as a blog. If you know anyone who is interested in following the newsletter, they just have to visit jimsafffordablecellar.ca to submit their email. The button is below the ‘back issues’. They’ll be notified each month, as will you, when each new issue is published. The newsletter is a little more reader friendly there.

And please let me know if you’d like to share some wine you love with the rest of us. roamingbuffalo44@gmail.com 

A Little Help from My Friends

Issue #28 July 2021

Recently I was sitting on the back patio in the late afternoon sipping a little, you know what, when one of the great songs of the late 60’s came up randomly on Spotify. 

A Little Help From My Friends was written by, you know who and came to the world’s ears in 1967 as the second track on the Beatles’ iconic Sgt. Pepper’s album. 

A year later, the inimitable Joe Cocker presented his stirring, heartfelt rendition of the song that would build on its popularity and solidify its place in music as a rock classic.

JUNE 1: Album cover designed by art director Robert Fraser for rock and roll band “The Beatles” album entitled “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” which was released on June 1, 1967. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Well sometimes things happen for a reason, and sometimes they just plain happen. 

In this case, pure serendipity was at work. As you may have seen in last month’s issue I invited anyone who would love to sing to the hilltops (kind of tough from a wine cellar) about a wine they love, and to send me their notes. I’m thrilled that a number of you took me up on the idea. As I thought, I’m not the only one who loves to talk about wine. 

So here are some wine favourites and words from a group of wine appreciators that I affectionately think of as Jim’s Affordable Cellar Dwellers.

Welcome back to the cellar.

Our first recommendation comes from Steve in Toronto. He says, “Our neighbours recently brought over this Chenin Blanc from South Africa as a gift.  A few days later it was well chilled and ready for a warm summer day.”

Steve’s Pick: Robertson Winery Chenin Blanc
South Africa
750 mL bottle  LCBO#:  495507
$10.00

Steve goes on to say, “I noticed on the label it had a rating of 93 from a Star wine critic. But I was pleasantly surprised by the aroma and taste; very light, refreshing, and understated, yet delicious. It’s dry, smooth and easy to drink, like the grapes decided to throw summer party for my taste buds. 

It’s well balanced and presents flavours of citrus. But they are subtle and it’s enjoyable to continue sipping to unearth the flavour.  It’s 13% so be careful with it, because it can sneak up on you. Great for sipping this time of year or pairing with cheese and crackers.  At one time it was only sold in cases, now the LCBO sells it individually. Best of all, it’s only $10. Enjoy!

Wow! I get the feeling Steve kind of likes this Chenin Blanc. Actually, it does sound very good. By the way, the Chenin Blanc grape is originally from France’s Loire Valley. South Africa adopted it and has been growing it since the late 1600’s.


We’re going to stay with white wine for our next recommendation. A different grape but an equally refreshing choice. This one comes to the cellar from Pam on that beautiful hideaway just east of Kingston known as Howe Island.

Pam’s Pick: Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio
Trentino, Italy
750 mL  bottle  LCBO#:  302380
$12.80

Pam tells me she is not a monogamous wine drinker. You are not alone Pam. She says, “I have few favourites and many likes,” and succinctly describes this Mezzacorona as “a lovely crisp wine that is almost tart.”

Since learning about it I wanted to know more about where this wine comes from.

The province of Trentino in Northern Italy

Trento. Italy

Trentino (officially the Autonomous Province of Trentino) and its capital, the city of Trento, sit a little northeast of Milan in a valley where the Adige River flows from the Italian Alps. It’s refreshing just thinking about that.


Our next reco comes from Cathy in London. She modestly claims not to be an expert on wine.

That makes two of us Cathy. 

Actually, that reminds me of a wonderful line I must attribute to someone who is a wine expert and also a very good wine writer; Natalie MacLean. She puts judging wine in perspective with this practical thought, “If you like it, it’s good.” 

Wise words indeed. Btw, if you want a great wine read, I recommend Natalie’s excellent book, ‘Red, White and Drunk All Over’.

Back to Cathy’s wine pick. She tells me she has a few favourites and one of them is this Californian Chardonnay. 

Cathy’s Pick: Sand Point Chardonnay
California, USA
750 mL  bottle  LCBO#:  11194
$16.95

Cathy says, “I am definitely not a wine expert but I do have some favorites. I lean towards the Chardonnays and the oakier the better!!” 

Well, I’d say she knows what she likes. And as for oaky Chardonnays, there are more of them in California than there are Ray Bans and Porsches.


It’s time for a red wine reco. This one comes courtesy of Brian in Toronto who is taking us back to Italy where he has found a real beauty that he wants to tell us about

Brian’s Pick: Terra d’Aligi Tatone Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2016
Montepulciano, Italy
750 mL bottle  |   VINTAGES#:  994616
$16.95

Here’s what Brian has to say. 

Tatone was a delightful surprise, to say the least. Located on the bottom shelf at the LCBO(a traditional bargain hunting ground for me), it was Tatone’s price that first drew my attention. I knew this wine was well-loved by its producers after raising the weighty bottle, appreciating its clean exquisite label, and feeling the deep punt. Bad wine rarely comes in well-made heavy bottles.”

Brian continues, “Tatone is a multi-layered wine from the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo area of Italy that, in my opinion, should definitely not reside on the bottom shelf. This well-made red has the typical fruity flavour of the region, but it also has traces of cocoa bean and cherry to balance out a hint of cracked pepper.Bold yet balanced with excellent structure and a long finish. While the word Tatone is an affectionate nickname for grandfather, it’s also my new word for top-shelf.” 


Woah! I think someone’s cutting my grass!! That was quite the eloquent reco Brian. Now I know who to call if I ever want to take a month off.

I don’t think there’s any more for me to say.  Jim’s Affordable Cellar Dwellers have said it all. Thanks again to Steve, Pam, Cathy and Brian for doing the painstaking, grueling work of discovering and tasting the great wines they’ve told us about. 

It really is terrific hearing wine recos from others. If anyone has a best kept wine secret they want to share with the rest of us here in The Cellar, do let me know. 

I can always use ‘a little help from my friends.’

We’ll leave it at that for this month. Until next time, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer.

Jim

Thanks to everyone for signing up to my web page where you’ll see this each month as a blog. If you know anyone who is interested in following the newsletter, they just have to visit jimsafffordablecellar.ca to submit their email. The button is below the ‘back issues’. They’ll be notified each month, as will you, when each new issue is published. And the newsletter is a little more reader friendly there.

And please let me know if you’d like to share some wine you love with the rest of us. roamingbuffalo44@gmail.com 

Chile Hits for The Cycle

Issue #27 June 2021

As another NHL hockey season winds down, some of us (depending on our loyalties of course) find ourselves a little empty without a team competing for the Stanley Cup. But luckily, we lost souls have one of the great sports of spring, summer and fall to fill the void; baseball.

Baseball is a simple game but it’s also deceptively cerebral. It comes with pitching weapons called Cutters and Splitters and Sliders. And strategic coaching moves like the Squeeze Bunt, the Walk and the Infield Shift.

But it is also a game that comes with its own holy grail of achievements. It’s called ‘Hitting for the Cycle’. This is the rare accomplishment of one batter hitting a single, double, triple and a home run in the same game. 

The most recent cycle was accomplished by Cavan Biggio of the Toronto Blue Jays on September 17, 2019, against the Baltimore Orioles

All of this oddly and conveniently brings me to wine. In my view, one of the world’s great wine producing countries ‘hits for the wine cycle’ on a regular basis, producing great Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Chile is not only one of the great players in the wine game. It belongs in the vintner’s hall of fame.

Welcome back to the cellar.

Okay, let’s play ball. In other words, let’s pull some corks.

Our first Chilean guest this month was born at the Casablanca Vineyard of the Montes Winery in the coastal region of Chile called the Aconcagua Costa.

The Aconcagua Valley is shaped by the Aconcagua River, which flows from the Andes Mountain Range into the Pacific Ocean. Its riverbanks are mostly terraced; ideal for growing the finest grape varieties.

Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2018
Aconcagua Costa, Chile
750 ml bottle VINTAGES#:  390203
$19.95

Montes produces one of the great value Cabernet Sauvignons (that we sampled back in March) and they also hit it out of the park with this Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2018. It’s bright and golden in the glass, like the sun gleaming on second base at Fenway Park on a June afternoon. There are flavours of cooked apples and vanilla here with a luscious and creamy texture. Whether you’re listening to a ball game on the radio (still one of the great ways to enjoy baseball) or just thinking about what to bring to the plate for dinner, this Chardonnay is a perfect choice.

Next up to bat is a Syrah, again from the Aconcagua Costa. Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is the offspring of two obscure grapes from southeastern France; Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche.  As long ago as 2004, Syrah was estimated to be the world’s 7th most planted grape. It may have moved up in the batting order since then.

Errázuriz Syrah 2018
750 ml bottle VINTAGES#:  387910
$21.95

The Errázuriz winery, Viña Errázuriz, was founded by Don Maximiano Errázuriz in 1870.  It’s located 90 kilometres north of Santiago in the Aconcagua Valley.

Errázuriz Syrah 2018 swings for the fences with lively fruity aromas and jammy flavours of blackberries and raspberries with a minty, peppery character. This wine is as tasty as it is full-bodied and teams up nicely with grilled beef, chicken and veggies.

Batting third this month is that most temperamental of players, Pinot Noir. And another tasty slugger from Viña Errázuriz. 

Errázuriz Max Pinot Noir 2019
750 ml bottle VINTAGES#:  19244
$19.95

Errázuriz Max Pinot Noir 2019 is a special 150th anniversary edition commemorating their first year of wine production. Walking the land before he made it his winery, I wonder if founder Don Maximiano Errázuriz ever heard a voice say, ‘If you build it, they will drink.’

This Pinot is an intense cherry red colour. It is fruity with flavours of raspberry and blueberry plus there are hints of balsamic and spice.  At any rate, I for one am thrilled he built it. Thank you Don Maximiano. 

We’re in the last inning for this month’s visit. But before we go, I’d like to announce that beginning in our July issue and in the months following, I would very much like to include a section with wine favourites from Jim’s Affordable Cellar Dwellers. That means you! So if you have a wine or two that you would like to tell the rest of us about, in your words, let me know. I’d love to hear from you. That’s my pitch. 

I hope you’ll take me up on it.

Okay, game over for this month. Thank you to the country of Chile and its skilled vintners who hit home runs with their wines every year. 

Until next time, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer.

Jim

And please let me know if you’d like to share some wine you love with the rest of us. roamingbuffalo44@gmail.com 

The Cellar Goes Deep

Issue #26 May 2021 

Each month we descend to the cool environs of the cellar to discover and get to know three new wine friends. But this month as we get settled around the old, oak tasting table, I thought it worth recounting the astounding story of a few divers who one day descended to the cold, dark underwater depths of an entirely different kind of cellar, where they made the wine discovery of a couple of lifetimes.

Welcome back to the cellar.

They dove into the Baltic Sea off the coast of Finland in 2010. Down, down they went to about 160 feet where they happened upon the remains of what was likely a sunken trade schooner. 

Bottles as they were found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea

There, scattered amongst the wreckage they found a sunken treasure; 168 bottles of champagne that had aged in near perfect conditions for 170 years. At that depth of course, there was minimal light and the temperatures ranged between 35 and 39 degrees Fahrenheit. The labels were long gone, but researchers studied the corks to confirm the bottles were from several champagne houses including, Veuve Clicquot.

Philippe Jeandet, a professor of food biochemistry at the University of Reims described the wine this way. “It was incredible. The aroma stayed in my mouth for three or four hours after tasting it.” My guess is he may have had some kelp stuck in his teeth.

And from the ‘some people just have too much disposable cash file’, several of the bottles have since been auctioned off for up to 100,000 euros each. Thankfully, other bottles have been sent to museums and historical institutions. Weird, Jim’s Affordable Cellar didn’t receive any.

That said, it really is an incredible story. But it’s time for us to dive into our wines for this month.

Because I still have champagne on the brain, I thought it might be nice for us to get to know another bubbly. But it doesn’t come from the depths of the Baltic, this one comes from Argentina. 

It’s a tasty sparkling Rosé and why not, June is just a hop, skip and a sip away. And there’s nothing like an afternoon in June with the company of a bottle of pink bubbles.

Vuelà Pinot Gris Brut Nature Sparkling Rosé
Mendoza, Argentina
750 mL bottle  VINTAGES#:  18565
$15.95

Vuela Pinot Gris Brut, as the name states is a Rosé of the sparkling variety. It’s a dry and refreshing one too, with aromas of citrus and tastes of nectarine, peaches and strawberries. 

If you ask me, this is a beautiful way to put a wine glass to use. Especially before the sun goes down because those tiny bubbles dancing in the sun are a sight to behold.

Our next wine, comes to us from Hungary. You are right, this is the first time in our monthly get-togethers that we’ve tasted anything from the vineyards of this Central-European country. Hungary covers an area of 93,000 square kilometres and on some of that land grows the grape which makes this tasty wine before us. The grape called Irsai Olivér is the result of cross-breeding two other Hungarian grapes, Pozsonyi and Pearl of Csaba. Any grape called the Pearl of Csaba, has to be good!

Garamvári Irsai Olivér 2019
Hungary 
750 mL bottle  VINTAGES# 12070
$13.95

Garamvári Irsai Olivér 2019 is a pale, dappling yellow in the glass. It engulfs you with aromas of grapefruit, green apple and oranges. I have to say, my wife noticed the oranges, before I did. Ah, the power of suggestion. I think she’s right though.

Also, there are tastes of tropical fruits and lavender. This is a perfect summer wine; kind of like a Pinot Grigio but more fragrant.

This month’s red is a beautiful Pinot Noir that comes from one of the best Pinot growing regions outside of Burgundy and another region we’re going to for the very first time; Oregon. 

Wine has been produced in Oregon since the state was settled in the 1840s; however, winemaking has only been a significant industry there since the 1960s. Now, Oregon is recognized for producing some of the top Pinots in the world.

Foris Rogue Valley Pinot Noir 2018
Oregon, USA
750 mL bottle  VINTAGES#:  937128
$24.95

Foris Rogue Valley Pinot Noir is a glittering, light ruby. Clink a couple of glasses of it together three times and it will take you anywhere. It wafts aromas of red fruits; raspberries and cherries in particular. And it’s smooth, elegant and delicious. 

Foris also has full-bodied power with the tannins to prove it, but it isn’t heavy. 

A very nice Pinot for sure. 

Well, since we started our conversation this month with the story of that amazing underwater discovery, we will close by remembering the great deep sea explorer Jacques Cousteau, who left us 24 years ago next month. 

Jacques-Yves Cousteau, was a French naval officer, explorer, conservationist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of life in water. My guess is, had he come across those 168 bottles of sunken champagne, it would have been a discovery that even for him, may have been hard to fathom.

Cousteau in background with find

Actually, he did discover almost 1500 sealed Roman wine jugs within a Greek wreck that were more than two millennia old. After retrieving them, Cousteau and his crew celebrated on the deck of his ship by sampling the find. He said it was “very sweet, with a hint of oak.”

Jacques Yves Cousteau

Let’s leave with a toast to this great man, his curiosity that drove a life-long quest for new aquatic discoveries and his gift of sharing what he learned along the way. 

See you next month back in the cellar. Until then, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer.

Jim

Thanks to everyone for signing up to my web page where you’ll see this each month as a blog. If you know anyone who is interested in following the newsletter, they just have to visit jimsafffordablecellar.ca to submit their email. The button is below the ‘back issues’. They’ll be notified each month, as will you, when each new issue is published. And the newsletter is a little more reader friendly there.

If you’re enjoying my wine meanderings, I’m really glad. And please let me know your thoughts or tell me about any great wine you’ve discovered. roamingbuffalo44@gmail.com 

It’s Time For Some Wine and a Movie

Issue #25 April 2021 

Since we’re all hunkered down again for the next few weeks and by now many of us are likely running out of untried jigsaw puzzles and bread recipes, it’s time to resort once again to that old stand-by of pastimes; the movies. 

There’s nothing like a good film and of course, a glass of wine to transport one, albeit temporarily to somewhere else. And I can’t think of a more perfect pairing for that glass of wine than a movie about wine! 

Brian McClintic, Ian Cauble and Dustin Wilson in “Somm”

In this issue we’ll not only get to know three delicious bottles but three terrific wine flicks to go with them. So have a seat around the old, oak tasting table. The popcorn is popping, and so are the corks.

Welcome back to the cellar.

Let’s fill our first glass with a full-bodied, red from the Ribero del Duero region of northern Spain. 

Escondido Tempranillo 2017 is rich and elegant with flavours of dark cherries, plums and even seductive suggestions of dark chocolate.

Escondido Tempranillo 2017
Spain
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  132597
$16.95

This Tempranillo (known as Spain’s noble grape) is dry and savoury with a wonderful smokiness that lingers until the next sip. And it’s a very tasty wine date to go to the movies with. In particular this intoxicating film from 2012 called, Somm.

Somm is an American documentary that follows the attempts of four wine dedicated candidates to pass the extremely difficult Master Sommelier examination; a pressure-cooker of a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world. 

Here’s the trailer.

That clip alone just makes you want to pour another glass of wine. So let’s, dammit! 


This next bottle I only recently discovered, thanks to an old friend who let me in on it. Humbly, it sits on the regular listing shelves at the LCBO.  

La Petite Hitaire is made in the southwest of France in the region of Gascony. This is the Spanish-influenced land of Armagnac, Foie Gras and the four grapes that make this great find; Ugni blanc, Colombard, Gros Manseng and Sauvignon blanc. 

La Petite Hitaire Blanc Cotes Du Gascogne 
Gascony, France
750 mL bottle LCBO#:  553925
$10.45

This delicious secret (no longer) is sunny and crystal clear. It has a fresh, zesty aroma like a field of new grass carried on a gentle breeze. It tastes of grapefruit, kiwi and lemon tart with slight effervescence and crisp, refreshing acidity.

La Petite Hitaire is perfect for the coming summer. To heck with that, it’s perfect for sipping right now with this classic wine film; Bottle Shock starring the late, great Alan Rickman. 

Bottle Shock is a 2008 American comedy-drama based on the 1976 wine competition referred to as the “Judgment of Paris”, when California wine defeated French wine in a blind taste test. 

Rickman plays Steven Spurrier; a British wine expert and merchant who organized the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976. In doing so, he unexpectedly elevated the status of California wine and promoted the expansion of wine production in the New World. Quite a guy. Steven Spurrier died a little over a month ago. He was 80.

Here’s the trailer. 


Even though France lost the battle in 1976, they didn’t lose the war, as evidenced by the many excellent and iconic wines they produce from some of the greatest wine regions in the world.  One of these regions is Burgundy. 

I’ve avoided featuring Pinot Noirs from here due to their often rarefied price. But these reds are worth getting to know and I’d like to introduce one to you that while slightly over our $20 threshold, is a very good representative of this great region. 

Chanson Reserve du Bastion Bourgogne Pinot Noir comes from the Côte-d’Or region of Burgundy in the northeast of France. The area has a relatively cool climate and soils with a high limestone content.

Chanson Réserve du Bastion Bourgogne Pinot Noir
France
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  50575
$24.95

The beauty of burgundies is this; more so than any other wines they have aromas and taste qualities that reflect the earth they grow in. Each sip transports you in a way to a gnarled vine on a slope that has been growing there and producing grapes for hundreds of years. Some of the vineyards in Burgundy were planted by Cistercian monks in the middle ages. 

This particular burgundy is an elegant garnet colour with flavours of red fruit, minerality and spice. And it’s perfect with vegetable dishes, beef, chicken, or fish. 

It can make a great meal even better.

Apart from many different meals, a beautiful film called Grand Cru would also be the ideal accompaniment to this wine. 

The film features Pascal Marchand who left Montreal at 21 to work the harvest in Burgundy. He settled there and began a journey to winemaking stardom. Now, 30 years later, he is renowned and regarded as a winemaking innovator. 

The film is shot over his most difficult year ever; the catastrophic 2016 season which saw devastating frosts, hail and disease in the vineyards. It leaves you with great respect for the winemakers there, so dedicated to their craft and to working with Pinot Noir; the most finicky of grapes that struggle each year to ripen in cool conditions but somehow when they do, provide the juice of greatness.

Here’s the trailer.


I think I’ve probably said enough for this month (maybe enough for a couple of months). So, we’ll wrap things up for now. Thanks for visiting the cellar once again. 

I look forward to seeing you in May. Your seat awaits.

Until then, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer. 

Jim

Thanks to everyone for signing up to my web page where you’ll see this each month as a blog. If you know anyone who is interested in following the newsletter, they just have to visit jimsafffordablecellar.ca to submit their email. The button is below the ‘back issues’. They’ll be notified each month, as will you, when each new issue is published. And the newsletter is a little more reader friendly there.

If you’re enjoying my wine meanderings, I’m really glad. And please let me know your thoughts or tell me about any great wine you’ve discovered. roamingbuffalo44@gmail.com 

A Special Guest Comes To The Cellar

Issue #24 March 2021

This issue of Jim’s Affordable Cellar marks two years of us getting together for a wine session every month. Apparently the traditional second year anniversary is celebrated with, wait for it………..cotton. Seriously? “Happy anniversary honey, here are some socks made of 100% cotton!” 

I think we can do better than that.

Also, because we are anything but traditional, we’re going to give ourselves the anniversary gift of welcoming to the cellar, a special individual who knows wine like I know my way to the cellar; my old friend, sommelier and Assistant General Manager at the beautiful Toronto Hunt Club, Marcel Bregstein. 

We’ll be talking to Marcel about his sommelier-ness, good value wine regions of the world, his favourite wine, three wine recommendations and more. 

I can’t wait!

Welcome back to the cellar.

Marcel Bregstein at The Toronto Hunt Club

Marcel Bregstein started in the culinary business at 18 as a busboy at a restaurant in Oshawa. For a time, he was the dining room manager on a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship. He studied business. He worked at The Royal York Hotel and for many years now, he’s been treating members and guests at The Toronto Hunt Club to his culinary expertise and his outgoing personality. 

After a gruelling 16-hour exam that included a written portion and a blind tasting, Marcel earned his sommelier certification in 2003. And he is one of five Canadians to be inducted into the L’Ordre De Coteaux de Champagne, a Champagne fraternity that began in 1650. He was given the title of, Chevalier.

Marcel’s days are pretty full so I’m thrilled he found time to join us for a visit here in the cellar.

Jim: Welcome to the cellar, Marcel. What is the most special/memorable wine you have ever opened?

Marcel: Thank you James. I’ve had the opportunity to open some great Bordeaux, some great wines from all over the world, but one of the most memorable was a bottle of 1863 Port valued at $20,000. It was incredible to taste something that old. And it still tasted like wine.

$20,000 is slightly out of our price range. But Marcel showed me the special iron Port tongs used to open the bottle. Apparently, they are heated until red hot, then clamped around the neck of the bottle. Then a feather dipped in ice water is drawn around the heated neck and voila, the top pops off. Crazy. 

If they had shown us stuff like that in chemistry class, I might have stuck with it. 

Port tongs

J: What wine producing countries or regions are the best places to look for great wine at a great price?

M: Well, there are so many great regions in the world that are producing great value wine. First comes to mind, for sure the south of France, the Lanquedoc-Rousillon. If you like big, bold wines. Where you can get the same varietals as the Cote du Rhone (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah) but at a better price.

Portugal too has so many great varietals. And they are making exceptional wines. Also, South America, very underpriced wines. I’ve tasted wines from Argentina that are just as good as some of the great Bordeauxs.

J: What wine region of the world is your personal favourite?                                 

M: I love the Loire. I love Sancerre specifically. So I’m a big fan of  Sauvignon Blanc. However, I’m a big fan too of Burgundy and Pinot Noir. It goes with so much. I tell people and my students when I teach, when in doubt, get a burgundy. It’ll work with chicken, salmon and steak.

J: Let’s talk about Champagne. In particular, a spectacular way of opening it. You’re a bit of an expert in Sabrage, I gather.

Btw, Sabrage (Sa-braw-ge) is the art of opening champagne bottles with a sabre! This involves quickly sliding the saber up the neck of the bottle to break top of the neck away, leaving the bottle open and ready to pour.

Champagne sabering.

M: Well I’ve been sabering Champagne for a long time. So I was asked to challenge the Guinness record, for charity.  At the time, I think the record was 35 bottles in a minute. That was my first attempt and I did 42 bottles in one minute. However we then found out that someone had set a new record of 47 bottles. Now the record is 66 bottles in a minute. 

Hopefully at the end of this year we’ll challenge the record again.  

If you want to see a little sabrage in action, have a look at this clip of Marcel wielding his sabre for charity.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=440085

J: Can you give us a few good and affordable wine recommendations?

M: Absolutely. Right away, the Ser Lapo 2017 Chianti Classico Riserva. I’m a big fan of Francesco Mazzei. He’s been here at The Hunt Club a few times. I’ve been to their property. This chianti classico riserva is a marvelous one. Chewy tannins, it’s refined with earthy tones. But it’s also got a great balance.

Mazzei Ser Lapo Riserva Chianti Classico 2017
Tuscany, Italy
750 mL bottle  |   VINTAGES#: 288530
$23.95

J:    Anything other wines we should know about?

M:  I have another pick but unfortunately, it’s a bit pricey, it’s Montes Purple Angel, I think is one of the best wines from Chile. 

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon
Colchagua Valley, Chile
750 mL bottle   |   VINTAGES#:  322586
$19.95

In case you’re interested, the Montes Purple Angle is $69.95. Won’t be getting that one.

J:  And Marcel, considering this is an anniversary issue, could you recommend a Champagne-style sparkling wine?

M: Absolutely. In terms of sparkling wines, I’m a big fan of Spanish sparkling wines; Cava, but let’s go to the north of Italy. Villa Sandi has some really good Proseccos. I’m a big fan of those too. 

 Villa Sandi Prosecco Il Fresco DOC Treviso
Veneto, Italy
375 mL bottle   |   LCBO#: 194191
$10.60

J: This has been fantastic Marcel. It’s wonderful to talk with you about wine but more than anything it does my heart good to see you again.

M: I appreciate it. It’s been really nice. Thank you.

And off he went on his day which he tells me, includes talks with producers about hosting a show on The Food Network. What a guy.

So he’s a sommelier, a knighted ‘Chevalier’ in an ancient Champagne fraternity, a serious Guinness record challenger in sabrage, and now perhaps, his greatest achievement.  Congratulations Marcel Bregstein. You are now an official Jim’s Affordable Cellar Dweller. 

Seriously, thank you very much to Marcel for joining us.

Well folks, I’d say we have some wine to find.

We’ll see you in April. Until then, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer. 

Jim

Thanks to all of you for signing up to this web page where you’ll automatically receive and email notice each month when our new issue is ready to be enjoyed.

If you’re enjoying my wine meanderings, I’m really glad. And please let me know your thoughts or tell me about any great wine you’ve discovered. Simply add your comments below!

We Have Lift-Off!

Issue #23 February 2021 

Before we make our way down to the cellar for this month’s wine session, I’d like to suggest we step outside for a moment and look to the sky. (Don’t worry, I’ll make sense of this shortly). 

As of last April, there were around two thousand satellites up there in continuous low Earth orbit with another 600 hurtling around further in space. Also orbiting about 400 kilometres above us and circling Earth every 93 minutes, is the International Space Station. And 54 million kilometres away is Mars, which NASA plans to reach with astronauts in 2030. Why am I lost in space?

February 20, 1962 John Glenn lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida

Well this month in 1962, John Glenn was launched into orbit from Cape Canaveral on the east coast of Florida, (in ’63, it was renamed, Cape Kennedy). 

John Glenn in orbit.

He was the first North American to boldly blast off to an altitude of 260 kilometres, where he completed three trail-breaking orbits of our planet in a mission that lasted just under five hours.

I remember it well. When Captain Glenn lifted off that day in February, it just so happened to be my sixth birthday. He instantly became a hero to millions and certainly to me. 

John Glenn with his space capsule, ‘Friendship 7’

So with that courageous and important beginning to human space travel in mind, let’s get back down to earth and meet three affordable wines that are absolutely made of the right stuff.

Welcome back to the cellar.

Our wine travels this month launch with a tasty tongue twister from the Alsace region of France. It’s a Gewurztraminer. A sommelier once helped me wrap my mouth around that 5-syllable monster with this pronunciation hint. Turn the ‘w’ into a ‘v’ and make the miner, meaner. Then it should sound something like this; 

(ge-vertz-tra-meaner). 

Who knows what it will sound like after you’ve finished the bottle. 

Anyhoo, here it is. Is it me or does that look a little like a rocket on a launch pad?

Pierre Sparr Grande Réserve Gewurztraminer 2018
Alsace, France
750 mL bottle VINTAGES #747600
$19.95

This Grande Reserve Gewurzt is luscious and fragrant with citrus scents of grapefruit and kiwi. It’s full of flavour and not sweet but mid-dry; making it a perfect match for meals with a kick, like Indian lamb curry or spicy chicken Phad Thai. 

But it certainly doesn’t need a single morsel of food to give it reason for being. Pierre Sparr Gewurztraminer’s refreshing qualities make it a perfect sipper before supper.  

Now our orbit around the wine world is pausing over Spain. In particular, over the Castilla-La Mancha region to the south and east of Madrid. The land of the man of La Mancha, Don Quixote.

Way down there somewhere amongst the vineyards, castles and windmills is the Bastida family winery and from it comes this rich and full Alceo Tempranillo. 

Alceo Tempranillo 2017
Castilla-La Mancha, Spain
750 mL bottle | VINTAGES #18768
$12.95

Alceo Tempranillo 2017 sits in the glass like a deep, dark sea of tranquillity. It has inviting aromas of leather and cinnamon spice with flavours of dark cherries, and ripe blackcurrants. 

It’s dense and full-bodied and would be out of this world with barbecued chipotle seasoned burgers.  

John Glenn’s very first orbit around the earth passed directly over South Australia’s Barossa region and very likely the Eden Valley. The home of our next red.

Mountadam Vineyards was created by the late David Wynn.  Wynn was one of the shooting stars of the Australian Wine Industry and the first to recognize the potential of the cool, elevated area of the Eden Valley to produce Australian wines of great elegance and structure. 

The vineyard was named after David Wynn’s son, Adam.

Mountadam Vineyards Five-Fifty Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Barossa, South Australia
750 mL bottle | VINTAGES #18006
$17.00

This tasty cab has scents of plums, blackcurrants and herbs. It’s rich and dense with dark fruit intensity. And it’s smooth with a lasting finish that makes you want to start all over again with another sip. Thanks to David Wynn and his son Adam. This is wine is definitely a Wynn Wynn.

When the bad puns start happening, you know it’s time to get out of the cellar. So let’s lift off from our chairs and look forward to meeting again in a month. That’s about one tenth of the time it would take to get to Mars. 

But before we part, let’s raise a glass to all of the intrepid space travellers and interstellar trail blazers. And with special thoughts for those who never made it back.

We’ll see you in March. Until then, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer. 

Jim