For the Love of Wine

Issue #35 February 2022

As we turn the page from January, thoughts will soon be turning to love and the many meaningful ways there are to show it. 

Seizing my Cupid moment as a bachelor many years ago, I certainly didn’t ‘stop in the name of love’. I started the car and drove across the city armed with a wedge of warm blueberry pie (Mrs. Smith’s) and a hastily crafted poem, to the doorstep of my unsuspecting Valentine.

The great and sadly, late rock star Meat Loaf did it with song when he belted out the sentiment, ‘I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.’

Okay, so perhaps Meat wasn’t totally committed to love. But many of us are. And often the best way to celebrate it with our partners or partner wannabes is simply with a candle, a twinkle in the eye and a special bottle of wine.

That said, whether it’s a romantic occasion or not, we often turn to the wine we know. And what’s wrong with that? Nothing. But for this month’s get-together, I thought it might be nice to cast affectionate eyes on some bottles from regions that undeservingly don’t attract that many admirers.

So, let’s settle in around the old tasting table and point Cupid’s corkscrew at a few unsung wine regions that deserve some unconditional love.

Welcome back to the cellar. 

The country of Georgia is located at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia; bounded to the west by the Black Sea and to the north and east by Russia. 

Georgia’s experience in winemaking goes back about 8,000 years when they began making wine using the technique of burying it underground in clay containers.

I first learned of wine made in the Kakheti region of Georgia, from the wonderful book by Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow. In this terrific story, a bottle of Mukuzani is recommended by Count Rostov to go with a hearty, Latvian stew.

Instead, the Count simply noted, “The Georgians practically grow their grapes in the hope that one day they will accompany such a stew.”

Not that I’m easily influenced but I put down the book and went straight to the LCBO.

United Stars Mukuzani Dry
Kakheti, Georgia
750 mL bottle LCBO#:  460501

United Stars Mukuzani is made with a grape indigenous to Georgia called Saperavi. The wine has aromas of black and red berries with a pleasant earthiness.  

It is robust and dry and built on a solid tannic foundation. While Count Rostov was bang on by saying it would be perfect accompanying a stew, I loved it with a grilled skirt steak and roasted root veggies.

When people think of wine from South America, more often than not Argentina and Chile get the attention.  But relatively tiny Uruguay deserves some of the spotlight. Wine grapes have been grown there for more than 250 years. Although commercial wine production didn’t begin until the late 1800s. 

There’s a catch-22 though. Uruguayan wine isn’t always easy to find, but maybe that’s because there isn’t enough demand for it. However, as you might have guessed, I just so happen to have a bottle here in the cellar.

Bodega Garzón Reserva Albariño 2020
Maldonado, Uruguay
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  646802

Bodega Garzón Reserva falls somewhere in the medium to full-bodied range. It presents aromas of peach, honeysuckle, melon and lemon. And it’s fruity, tropical and crisp. Albariño is the grape here; another one we haven’t yet encountered. 

So, as we pour and sip, and pour a little more, we’ll get to know its distinctive botanical aroma and citrus undertones. 

It could be the Valentine effect but I’ve got a bit of a crush on this wine.

The next wine that could use a little extra attention isn’t because it comes from an unknown region. It’s because through no fault of its own, the grape that makes it, Merlot, has been suffering from a bit of a perception problem created by the 2004 film, Sideways. While the movie drew attention to the wine of California’s Central Coast, the main character in the film played by Paul Giamatti unabashedly denigrates Merlot.

Unbelievably, a 2022 study in the Journal of Wine Economics found that Sideways actually caused a reduction in demand for Merlot and an increase in demand for Pinot noir. How crazy is that?

Perceptions aside, Merlot did not deserve to be jilted. In fact, the grape remains the foundation of many a great Bordeaux and is worthy of getting to know.

The Velvet Devil 2019
Washington, USA
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  394742

The Velvet Devil Merlot comes to us from Washington state. Charles Smith Wines created it specifically to counter the negative press Merlot had been saddled with thanks to the film.

Standing before you in the glass, it is a deep garnet colour. Give it a couple of encouraging swirls and subtle aromas of raspberry, cranberry and new leather greet you. It’s rich and smooth with tannic substance supporting flavours of red berries and spice.

This well-made wine proves that while perception does tend to be reality, it isn’t always based in fact.

Well, we’ve done our part to send some positive vibes in the direction of a few wines that might otherwise remain in the shadows. Some other time we’ll talk about very good wines also being made in Moldova, Austria, Mexico and Greece. 

So much wine. So little time.

At the beginning of this get-together, I mentioned the time I delivered blueberry pie and a poem to my valentine. To finish the story, thankfully she was home. Not only did she appreciate what I brought to her doorstep, I guess she saw what was in my heart. She became my bride and my partner for life.

Oh jeez, I guess too much wine makes me sappy.

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


Jim’s Valentine’s Day Blueberry Pie


Keep frozen until ready to enjoy. Bake before serving. For food safety and quality, cook before eating to an internal temperature of 160F.

1. Remove pie from the freezer. Place oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Remove frozen pie from the box, and remove plastic overwrap from a pie. Do not remove pie from original pan. Open center hole of pie and cut 4 to 6 slits in top crust.

3. Center frozen pie on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil, and place in preheated oven.

4. Bake pie for 55 to 65 minutes until crust is golden brown.

5. Remove pie on cookie sheet from oven using oven mitts. Never handle by edge of pie pan.

6. Serve warm in 30 minutes or cooled after 2 hours. Pies are best when freshly baked.

Poem optional.


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 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. 

A Wine Murder Mystery

Issue #34 January, 2022

Last year at this time, you may recall (or you’re trying to forget) we paid tribute to Agatha Christie, the great mystery writer, who died in January of 1976. Our tribute came in the form of a silly, little wine murder mystery. While Dame Agatha likely wouldn’t have thought much of it, incredibly many of you did.

So, here we are a year later and what the heck, let’s head down a murderous path once more with this month’s wines imbedded in another short, old-fashioned murder mystery. 

Get comfortable around the old oak tasting table as last year’s characters Uncle Seymour, Aunt Edwina and their sleuth-by-chance nephew Douglas return in…

Murder in Languedoc. 

I had never been to France. Of course, I’d read plenty about the country. But when my elderly Aunt Edwina said to me, “Douglas, you must come with me to Languedoc.”, I had no idea where that was.

Each day of the year I am her only nephew but every second Saturday I’m her driver, getting her to wherever she needs to go. Usually, one of her required stops is the wine store. She loves a good Sancerre. She often says to me, “I loved my dear husband Alfred, but a good part of my heart has always belonged to Sancerre.”

It was on one of those Saturday errands, that she announced her (I should say, our) plans.

“My dear Douglas. Your Uncle or rather, my reclusive and sometimes repulsive brother Seymour has invited me for a visit to his Chateau in the south of France.

While I could do without spending more than a meal with him, I do love that part of the world. I think we should go.”

And that was that. Her suggestion was charmingly as always, a decision made.

So, off we went to the region of Languedoc for our visit with Uncle Seymour.  

My uncle stood before us swirling his wine glass. “It was built in the 1700s; a damn drafty old place actually. I’m not sure it was a good idea to buy it but my arguably-wise accountant told me this pile of stones was too good to pass on. Isn’t that right, Barth?”

The accountant Uncle Seymour was disparaging happened to be standing beside me in the great hall of his Chateau. Mr. Bartholomew had been managing my uncle’s affairs and putting up with him for years.

Aunt Edwina bristled. “Seymour. For heaven sakes, I dare say without Barth you would be as short of means as you are of magnanimity. Try to be nice, just once.” 

“Dear sister, how did you get all that moral high ground in your carry-on?”

Uncle Seymour had greeted us as expected with his somewhat grim disposition, but he sweetened our arrival with a glass of delicious Sauvignon Blanc from Touraine in the Loire Valley.  Touraine sits just west of Sancerre in the valley and produces a delicious and more affordable alternative.  

Domaine Bellevue Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Loire Valley, France
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  82305

A few paces away, a smallish man stood gazing up to the massive tapestries hanging in the grand gallery that circled above us. Oddly, he was the only one of us without a glass of wine. 

Uncle Seymour led the rest of us through the library to the rear of the castle. “If you can tear yourself away from whatever has captured your attention, Monsieur Boucher, we’ll be out on the terrace for supper.”

As we walked, my uncle filled the air.  “Boucher is our local wine merchant. He comes by often, more than I’d like actually. But he usually bears gifts of wine. I think he secretly brings hopes of finagling this place from me one day.” He chortled at his little joke. “Today he brought along quite a nice red from a neighbouring Chateau.”

Fortant Grands Terroirs 2018
Languedoc, France
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  20713

We sat on the flagstone terrace under a large ivy-covered pergola overlooking moonlit rows of vines stretching into the darkness. 

Partway through our mussels and that tasty, elegant blend of Syrah and Grenache, my uncle looked up and exclaimed, “Where on earth is Boucher?”

Edwina sarcastically added, “Perhaps loading all your earthly possessions into his car.” 

Ignoring the comment, my uncle looked to his accountant. “Barth. Have a look for him, will you? And while you’re at it, grab my specs from my room above the great hall.” 

On a mission, like he was looking for a tax shelter, the accountant went off to find Monsieur Boucher and Uncle Seymour’s glasses. 

I’m certainly not a suspicious person. I can chalk that up to having had a lot more good than bad cross my path. But I can usually sense when something isn’t what it seems. Aunt Edwina said to me one time, “Douglas, you seem to know what’s on my mind before it’s wormed its way in there.” 

I was halfway through my frites when I felt I too should have a look for Monsieur Boucher. It was so strange that a wine merchant didn’t seem interested in a glass of wine. Giving my Aunt a look, I rose from the table. Her instincts were good too. She knew to make something up. 

“Oh, you must pardon Douglas. He’s gets leg cramps. They come on so suddenly. He simply must walk them out. Started getting them as a teen. Growing spurts likely. Bless his heart. Now Seymour, are you going to offer me some of that wonderful-looking Shiraz from South Africa that I see you’ve brought out, or shall we arm wrestle for it?”

Piekenierskloof Six Hats Shiraz 2019
Swartland, South Africa
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  21193

The great hall was still. The quiet seemed to accentuate the damp air. Lanterns on the stone walls cast shadows throughout the cavernous space. There was no sign of Barth nor the mysterious Monsieur Boucher. I stood quietly and listened for sounds of footsteps coming from any of the adjacent rooms off the hall; a parlour to my right and what looked like a study on my left.

A door closed 30 feet above me. I looked up to the gallery. It was Barth. I assumed he was coming out of Uncle Seymour’s room and was about to call up when the large tapestry adorning the wall behind him suddenly lurched forward and forcefully pushed Barth to the railing. The unsuspecting accountant frantically flailed and grabbed at the tapestry, pulling it and the human shape behind it with him.  The two of them, along with the woven wall-hanging cartwheeled over the intricately carved, mahogany rail. 

Frozen, all I could do was watch as Barth landed with a horrible thud at my feet. He was instantly dead. But his last act was that of a break-fall for Monsieur Boucher, who along with the tapestry had landed directly on top of him. 

Uncle Seymour and my aunt heard the thuds of Barth and Boucher along with my involuntary outburst of shock. They entered the hall to see the poor number cruncher and the pitiful, dazed wine merchant.

True to form, my uncle, blurted before he thought. “Good God! Barth said that tapestry was damned valuable!” 

“Seymour!! Now Douglas, what on earth happened?”

The answer came from the bent wine merchant lying at our feet. He twisted his head to look up at menacingly at my uncle and spat out, “This chateau had been in my family for generations. It was to be mine! Until you! You marched in with your bags of money and made an offer my greedy mother wouldn’t refuse.” 

“Perhaps Boucher, but why would you kill Barth?” queried my uncle.

I answered. “He wasn’t planning to. Boucher waited upstairs for you Uncle, hiding behind the tapestry outside your room. He didn’t account for the possibility that it might not be you he was blindly pushing over the railing.”

“He should have stuck to pushing wine,” said Aunt Edwina.

So, it seems that Uncle Seymour had an instinct too. He somehow knew his wine merchant wanted his Chateau. He just didn’t realize Monsieur Boucher would kill for it.

I never would have thought that in one of the great wine regions of the world we would discover such a deadly case of sour grapes. And witness the moment when a dedicated but unfortunate accountant’s final number would come up. 

The End

I hope you didn’t mind beginning the year with a rather nasty ending for poor Barth. But most of all I hope you do get a chance to enjoy the wines we met this time in the cellar. 

See you in February when we’ll get back in earnest to our usual search for and discovery of great, affordable wine. Until then, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer.


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 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. 

A Christmas (Wine) Carol

Part One – Marley is Dead. 

Those, of course, are the famous first words of Charles Dickens’ enduring classic, ‘A Christmas Carol’. Dickens wrote it during a six-week period in late 1843. He built much of the story in his head while taking nightly walks around London.

“A merry Christmas, Bob! Said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken…I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!…”

While we get to enjoy the many film versions of the story each year at this time (Alastair Sim as Scrooge is my fave), I thought a little Dickens would be a nice addition to the mix for this month’s get together.

So, at the top of the hour (that’s about now by my clock) the Affordable Cellar will be visited by three spirits, (bottles of wine actually). One from a vintage past, one from a vintage present, and one from a vintage yet to come. Hold on to your nightcaps. The clock is striking one.  

Welcome back to the cellar.

Part Two – The First of the Three Bottles

The old grandfather clock down here in the cellar just tolled with its deep, reverberating tone. And not a second later, hear that? …… yes, that dull, dragging sound…

Actually, it’s just me pulling a cool and dusty bottle from the wine rack. 

Our first visitor is here. It’s the red from a vintage past; 2015 to be exact. 

Colinas de Ançã Baga Reserva 2015
Bairrada, Portugal
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  11195

This bottle comes from the Bairrada region of Portugal. Barraida runs narrowly down the east coast, south of Porto. Baga is the dominant grape variety there, producing wines full of colour, rich in acids but well-balanced and with great longevity.

Colinas de Ançã Baga Reserva is described as medium-bodied. But I’d say there’s a full-bodied soul living in there as well. 

It comes bearing gifts of black fruits, cocoa and smoke. In the glass, it’s brooding and dark. These are the delicious shadows of grapes that have been. 

Part Three – The Second of the Three Bottles

The clock has struck again and over on the far side of the tasting table, another vision has appeared; the wine of vintage present. And a beautiful present this would be. This visitor to our table is no apparition though. It stands before us as real as the knocker on Scrooge’s front door.

Bodega Piedra Negra Gran Lurton Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Mendoza, Argentina
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  980334

Bodega Piedra Negra Gran Lurton comes to us from Argentina. It’s a delicious cabernet sauvignon that could just be this year’s ultimate stocking stuffer. Imagine that special someone’s face when they discover it tucked alongside those funny fling-flangers and delicious doo-dinglers. (Oops, I just took a sharp left from Dickens to Seuss.)

Back to the Lurton. It’s as dark as the deep, set eyes of the ghost of Jacob Marley. 

Aromas of raspberry, black cherry and plum rise from the glass. And this visitor has taste; of rich red berries, wood, leather and a bit of Christmas spice. Plus, it has some tannic pucker-power. 

But if I had just one thing to say about this elegant Gran Lurton, it’s as soft and velvety as the lapels on my smoking jacket. (Note to self; must get one of those).

Part Four – The Last of the Three Bottles

Again, the chimes have spoken and announced the arrival of our third guest. Of course, it is quite impossible to entertain a wine from a vintage yet to come. But how about a wine that says ‘it’s ahead by a century’.  

The Tragically Hip Ahead by a Century Chardonnay 2020
Stony Ridge Winery, Niagara, Ontario
750 mL bottle VINTAGES#:  483875

This chardonnay is a tribute to one of the wonderful spirits of our recent past; the great Canadian poet/musician, Gord Downie. The Tragically Hip Ahead by a Century 2020 Chardonnay was created to honour the 20th anniversary of The Hip’s fifth album, Trouble at the Henhouse. 

The Stony Ridge Winery had no trouble creating this full and buttery wine. It tastes of lemony citrus, apples, toast and creamy vanilla.

As Dickens told it, upon discovering he hadn’t missed Christmas nor his chance to be a better person, Scrooge learned from his three spirit visitors. “He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough in the good old world.”

It is entirely possible that we here in the cellar have gained also from the three visitors who have just appeared before us. And that perhaps it can be said of us, that we know how to keep a tasty glass of wine in our hands. Dickens would say, “May that be truly said of us, and all of us.”

So, we’ll close not with the words of Tiny Tim, but with those of Winy Jim. Keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer.


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 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. 

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

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.


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 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. 

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

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

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
750 mL bottle LCBO#:  533307

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

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.


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 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. 

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

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

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

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.


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 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. 

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

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

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.


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 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. 

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

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

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

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

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.


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 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. 

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

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

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

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.


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

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

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
750 mL bottle  VINTAGES# 12070

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

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.


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 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.