Heaven: In Vino Veritas - the WINE thread, what you enjoy, current drinking, tastes, recommendations

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  • The meal - especially the lamb - was great. The wine, I regret to say, was not; reminded me of some poor Italian wine foisted upon us on holiday some years ago. It's made of Rondo grapes, and it's not cheap. I suspect the white may be better.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    Thanks for the Cloudy Bay advice, folks. I think I had an attack of nostalgia for something David and I had loved; as Firenze says, there are several other NZ wines that are half the price and just as good: Oyster Bay, Villa Maria, Brancott Estate ...
  • la vie en rougela vie en rouge Purgatory Host, Circus Host
    We are currently very much enjoying a 1997 Château Rieussec Sauternes. Husband en rouge picked it up for about a third of its value from someone who was selling the entire contents of their cellar.

    Last night it went very pleasantly with a monkfish curry, and later it will be reappearing alongside Roquefort cheese and a chocolate dessert from the excellent patissier's.
  • We watched a competitive blind tasting on Zoom yesterday, organized by a Toronto-based wine website called WineAlign. They have four main critics for the Ontario market (some of them, like David Lawrason, quite well known) and lately they've been doing a Zoom blind tasting every two weeks. I think there's a marketing tie-in because some the wines they feature seem rather meh, but this time each of them got to choose a wine for the other three to identify, so we got together with some friends to split up some bottles to taste along with them.

    One them completely stumped her colleagues with an Assyrtiko from Santorini, which everyone thought was probably a Chardonnay from Niagara (!), some of them additionally picking up oak in a wine that had never seen oak. (Too young and too cold, I think - see below.) The highlight of the evening was Lawrason's choice, a Languedoc wine from La Clape that sells for about $18 in Ontario (13 euros in France per the link) but which had initially led some of the critics to think Lawrason had blown the budget on a good northern Rhone Syrah.

    The Assyrtiko was interesting and brought to mind @JuanaCruz 's first post on this thread. Unfortunately Assyrtiko isn't that easy to find in Ontario and what we get here has become really expensive - they've all increased in price by about $10 a bottle in the last few years, and that's just for the entry-level stuff. This one was about $27 which is a bit of a splurge for me and really not very warm and friendly on first opening - all sulfur and acidity. It improved significantly with air and rising to room temperature so I am somewhat tempted to pick up another bottle and see what happens if I leave it in my basement for a year or two.

  • Pangolin GuerrePangolin Guerre Shipmate
    edited March 2021
    @Marsupial I'm not too surprised that the pros couldn't identify the Assyrtiko. It's not a grape that leaps to mind, and I've found that over the years, as the general quality of the Greek wine industry has increased, the character of Assyrtiko has changed. Last year I had quite a good one for ~$19, which was a good match for the black cod in a cherry tomato/caper/olive concassé. If you're in the mood for browsing, the LCBO on Danforth just east of Broadview has (given the neighbourhood, not surprisingly) a very good selection of Greek wines in the Vintages section.

    @Baptist Trainfan Is Rondo a synonym for Rondinella? If the wine was on the light side, cherry-ish, a slightly bitter finish? If so, I expect that that was the case.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    Piglet wrote: »
    Thanks for the Cloudy Bay advice, folks. I think I had an attack of nostalgia for something David and I had loved.

    Sadly one can never stand in the same river - or the same bottle of wine - twice. The wine changes (or ought to) vintage on vintage, and so too do our palates with age. But the good news is that there is a lot of spanking wines out there.

    Tonight we had an Elbling with a classic Swiss cheese fondue.

  • MarsupialMarsupial Shipmate
    edited March 2021
    @Pangolin Guerre John Szabo was on the panel and I was bit surprised he didn’t twig to it at all - he knows the region and he wrote the book on volcanic wines so Santorini should definitely have been on his radar. I think Sara d’Amato may have been having a bit of fun at Szabo’s expense in choosing that wine - I don’t think he would have expected that from her which may have been what threw him off. It shows how easy it is to get thrown off in a blind tasting - it’s actually kind of humbling to watch the experts repeatedly making basic identification mistakes - you get an idée fixe and then confirmation bias kicks in and suddenly you’ve misidentified a Chianti as a Rioja (as someone did a few episodes ago - though I remember tasting that particular Chianti some years ago and I can sort of see why).

    I don’t know why I’ve been having such bad luck with Assyrtiko lately - there are a few I used to drink happily whenever I could get my hands on them but they all seem to have gone up in price sharply and become too tightly wound for me to want to pay that much for them. If I do pick up a bottle I will try to pair it with your fish dish which sounds ideal.

    Jancis Robinson’s thick tome tells me that Rondo is actually a German hybrid - a 1964 cross of Saint Laurent and another hybrid grape I’ve never heard of. Ultimately basically Austro-German in origin. Rondinella apparently has deep origins in northern Italy ultimately in Teroldego via Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso. But... apparently Teroldego is itself a grandchild of Pinot.

    Thanks to a binding error in the physical book the pedigree charts are actually available on the internet for anyone geeky enough to want to look at them:

    https://winegrapes.org/perfect-pedigrees/

    There a smaller chart for Refosco and a massively huge one for Pinot.



  • TukaiTukai Shipmate
    Piglet: I agree that there are plenty of good Marlborough (NZ) sauvignon blancs - a type that is a favourite of my wife's - that sell for considerably less than Cloudy Bay. Those you name (Oyster Bay, Villa Maria, Brancott Estate ...) are all good, though my personal favourite is Mount Riley. I have no idea whether it is available in UK. We once had a very pleasant day tasting in the small valley where most of the SB vineyards are located; you could really taste the "terroir" differences across and along the valley.

    When it comes to wine, Husband En Rouge sounds like a man worth knowing!

    Rufus TF: I have had from time to time had to go easy on wine-drinking, and sought non-alcoholic substitutes. As a substitute for reds I recommend tomato juice (though it has to be straight, not adulterated with worcester sauce, as I have encountered a few times in England).
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    We are currently very much enjoying a 1997 Château Rieussec Sauternes. Husband en rouge picked it up for about a third of its value from someone who was selling the entire contents of their cellar.

    Last night it went very pleasantly with a monkfish curry, and later it will be reappearing alongside Roquefort cheese and a chocolate dessert from the excellent patissier's.

    I'd very much enjoy that wine, also, but the price here even for current release is very high. I've just done a quick check, and someone is selling the 2016 for $913 a full bottle.
  • Is Rondo a synonym for Rondinella? If the wine was on the light side, cherry-ish, a slightly bitter finish? If so, I expect that that was the case.
    I don't know: "Rondo" is what they say on their website. But your description certainly sounds right.

  • Unfortunately the tax regime for UK-produced wine is such that it's always going to be more expensive than an equivalent bottle from elsewhere. This really doesn't help the cause, as you can pay the equivalent of a bottle of something reasonably special from X to have something that tastes as though it cleans paintbrushes. At which point you say "English wine? Yuk!", and go back to Hardy's (or whatever).
  • Well, not Hardy's (for me). But there are some good and cheap Eastern European wines, for example. There are some good English wines: I particularly like those made with the Bacchus grape (New Hall's near Chelmsford for example). Slightly off the point: I have found nearly all Welsh ciders lacking a certain "something" which you get in the best products from Herefordshire or Devon.
  • Also very good and even more affordable from RSA is Jardin or Jordan, depending on the target market.

    I was trying to remember why that rang a bell - they had a really nice (and reasonably priced) Chenin Blanc available in Ontario not too long ago.

    https://www.jordanwines.com/jardin-inspector-peringuey-chenin-blanc/



  • @Marsupial That Chenin sounds delicious, even if it the producer's notes. I fear that its reputation still suffers from decades of overproduction. Jordan's Sauvignon Blanc is excellent for the price.

    On a related topic, the LCBO (now probably 15 years ago) was importing a Pinotage from a RSA producer called Scali. Their production was so miniscule I wouldn't be surprised if the LCBO strong armed the price downward by buying the entire vintage. Depending on the year, production was about 18-21 barriques of 225L, which translates into only ~500 cases. after a few years it just disappeared. I don't know whether the LCBO just stopped buying it or whether Scali fell victim to rapid and widespread corporate reorganisation that seems to be an ongoing feature of the South African wine industry since shortly after the lifting of sanctions. It was one of the best I've ever tasted. It rivalled Kanonkop's iteration and was about half the price. Did you ever try it? Has anyone here ever tried it?
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    @Pangolin Guerre that is an interesting story. I tasted Scali wines at the old wine estate Schoone Oord near Paarl some years ago and found them delicious. The name Scali comes from the Afrikaans scalie or shale, the dominant soil type for terroir in that area.

    The wine industry in the Cape has been hammered into the ground this last year by the Covid-19 restrictions on selling or transporting alcohol and many wine-makers have gone bankrupt. The link above to the Guardian lists Fair Trade producers and suggests various wines, not many bargains.

    Some of the most exciting wines to be produced in the Cape in recent years come from the Swartland (a wheat-farming area named 'black land' for the renoster bush that goes black after rain) where a younger generation of winemakers are turning away from oaking (and the additives now used almost everywhere) to go back to old vines (Syrah/Cinsaut) growing on hot dry mountains slopes cooled by breezes from the Atlantic Ocean, producing wines that are full-bodied, aromatic and spicy. Suggestions would include AA Badenhorst Secateurs Red, David and Nadia Salie's Paardeberg Pinotage, Mullineux Wines and Lammershoek.

    My impression of the biggest differences between wines from the Swartland as opposed to traditional French oaked wines from estates in Stellenbosch or Constantia is that the Swartland wines are more earthy, robust and flinty -- a more mineral character and they don't always play well with refined or delicate dishes. No sulphites and plenty of edge.
  • MarsupialMarsupial Shipmate
    edited March 2021
    I don't know my way around Pinotage very well - it seems to be unfashionable in Ontario right now and I haven't seen much come in that looks tempting. There's a curious phenomenon right now of oaking mass-market Pinotage so as to make it smell as much as possible like coffee. Thanks but no thanks. Curiously, I do have some vague but generally positive memories from Pinotage from the 1990s, but this was before I really knew anything about wine and they were all bottles bought by other people, so I don't remember the producers.

    As I think I've said upthread I've had very positive experiences with South African wines at reasonable prices. The only wine I distinctly remember as being from Swartland was the Mullineux Chenin Blanc, but Radford Dale makes a Syrah-Cinsaut in Stellenbosch that sounds a lot like the wines that MaryLouise is describing. The Ontario importer Nicholas Pearce has somehow convinced RD to let them bring in both this and a Chenin under his own label (Pearce Predhomme). I've also had some nice bottles from Creation (Walker Bay) including an excellent Sauvignon Blanc. I've also liked a number of Cabernet Sauvingnons I've seem come in from RSA but I don't remember the producers offhand.

    I've read about the Covid alcohol ban in South Africa. Between that and wildfires over the last few years a lot of producers must be seriously suffering.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    @Marsupial yes, South Africa’s winemakers are currently sitting on 300-million litres of unsold wine.

    That is equal to the country’s entire wine sales in 2019.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    MaryLouise wrote: »
    @Marsupial yes, South Africa’s winemakers are currently sitting on 300-million litres of unsold wine.

    If only there were some way of running a pipeline from South Africa to south Edinburgh.

  • I picked up a Pinot Noir from Elgin (southeast of Cape Town) this morning. May not get opened in the immediate future, but will try to report back.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    I'll be looking forward to hearing what you think, @Marsupial. Elgin is in my corner of the Cape and traditionally a cooler apple-growing region.
  • Pangolin GuerrePangolin Guerre Shipmate
    edited March 2021
    @Marsupial I just checked, and the LCBO does not currently have it in stock, but keep your eye's open for Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir (actually, any of their product). It's on the pricey end of the spectrum, but definitely worth it. Commit to memory.

    Who is the producer of your Pinot Noir?
  • It’s Sutherland, which I gather is the southern Cape offshoot of Thelema Mountains. It’s in a current LCBO Vintages release and a number of people had good things to say about it.

    @MaryLouise I had to look up Elgin and the first thing that popped up was that it was apple country. Not unlike Ontario in that respect.
  • We opened up that Elgin Pinot last night with some rosemary marinated pork chops. A very nice Pinot, bigger-bodied than most Ontario pinots (14%) but maintains the classic cool climate aromatic profile. Very good value at $20.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Good to hear!
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    Firenze wrote: »
    MaryLouise wrote: »
    @Marsupial yes, South Africa’s winemakers are currently sitting on 300-million litres of unsold wine.
    If only there were some way of running a pipeline from South Africa to south Edinburgh.

    And West Lothian!

    When we lived in Belfast, a favourite restaurant was Mange Tous, an offshoot of the Pierre Victoire franchise, and over the course of several months*, we drank them out of Cape Bay Pinotage. It was strange in a way, because everywhere else we usually drank white, but there it was almost always red.

    * we went there every Sunday for lunch.
  • We've opened another gift bottle, a Torbreck 2010 Woodcutters Shiraz. A fairly typical Barossa red 14.5% alcohol but with a lighter palate than many others. Very pleasant drinking.
  • We had a Hungarian white with dinner tonight (a not entirely successful fish dish). It was a really interesting wine though, and lots of flavour --

    https://gismondionwine.com/tasting-notes/202006/szszi-birtok-badasconyi-rzsak-2018/?note=32530
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    We've opened another gift bottle, a Torbreck 2010 Woodcutters Shiraz. A fairly typical Barossa red 14.5% alcohol but with a lighter palate than many others. Very pleasant drinking.

    I'd imagine at least very pleasant drinking, perhaps even excellent.
  • @Marsupial Some years ago the LCBO "streamlined" (i.e., reduced) its listings, and a lot of eastern European wines disappeared. The style of a lot of the whites weren't very fashionable, so they were abandoned in favour of x->∞ bland, interchangeable Soaves and Pinot Grigios. I felt that the floral, aromatic whites like Irsai Olivér, Hárslevelü, were great pairings for things like chicken paprikás, schnitzels, light fish dishes. I miss that old selection.

    Where did you get the Rózsakó? I don't see it on the LCBO website.
  • It was part of a WineAlign subscription box. They’ve brought in a few wines from Hungary - this is actually the second vintage they brought in for this one.
  • For a budget springtime white with a touch of class, I'd highly recommend the Zibibbo Duca di Castelmonte from Lidl ... from Sicily, Muscat of Alexandria grape of which I know little (well nothing tbh). Dry, lots of nice floral things and stone fruit happening along with enough juicy complexity and interest to keep me buying it.

    Far too gluggable and if it stays warm like today, a perfect picnic wine.
  • I just looked it up on the LCBO site. Wow - 13% is pretty big for a Muscat, in my experience.
  • We had a Riesling from the Co-op last night, branded "Shhh, it's a Riesling!" - AFAIK Riesling is still stricken by the curse of the 1970s, and if you can find one, you can often get a good bottle for a bargain price (back in the early noughties my then boss bought half a dozen crates of a 1989 Riesling for, I think, £2.59 a bottle, and very nice it was too).

    Ours wasn't that cheap, but it did go very well with smoked trout and pasta - sharp and flinty without being bitter. I was quite tempted to finish it, but I was dissuaded....
  • We experimented with a Pinot Noir from Languedoc on the weekend, on the theory that one should try everything once. Apparently it’s grown at a high elevation, on a north-facing slope, by a small producer (Chateau Haut-Blanville) better known for making wines from more plausible grapes for the region. It wasn’t bad, but it was... weird. Really ripe, and saved from being 14%+ only by some noticeable residual sugar. We tried it, so you don’t have to.

    Much more successful was an Vinho Verde (Muralhas de Monção)* that Vintages brought in in quantity about a month ago but is now almost sold out. Mostly Alvarinho, with a bit of Trajadura. Good with all sorts of food, or by itself.

    (*Autocorrect wanted to render that as Muralhas de Moncton. That would be very strange.)
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    IIRC, a Moncton (or maybe Monkton???) was a UK Tory politician.
  • Moncton is a city in Canada, in a region not famed for its wine.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Thanks. I was not being entirely serious.

    We've drunk very little Canadian wine - never seen it for sale here, and what we've drunk was in Canada. From that limited experience, I'd not go hunting for it.
  • We had a Riesling from the Co-op last night, branded "Shhh, it's a Riesling!" - AFAIK Riesling is still stricken by the curse of the 1970s, and if you can find one, you can often get a good bottle for a bargain price (back in the early noughties my then boss bought half a dozen crates of a 1989 Riesling for, I think, £2.59 a bottle, and very nice it was too).

    Ours wasn't that cheap, but it did go very well with smoked trout and pasta - sharp and flinty without being bitter. I was quite tempted to finish it, but I was dissuaded....

    Riesling seems to be making a bit of a comeback here in Oz. We have just finished a bottle of Calabria Bros 2018 Riesling from the Eden Valley in South Australia, the heart of Riesling production in Australia. It has a citrusy nose and palate, and is very easy drinking. At 20AUD a bottle it is very affordable, and much superior to the many ordinary sauv blancs which wholesalers have inserted onto restaurant winelists here.
  • Moncton is a city in Canada, in a region not famed for its wine.

    Though curiously, there is a NB winery just outside Moncton (yes, I had to look it up...). I have no idea what their wine is like, but I strongly suspect Monção is your better bet.

  • Much to my amusement I've picked up a bottle each of white and red for £3.68 each at Lidl - for cooking porpoises - and neither was the cheapest on the shelf by some margin! I will have to sample them when we cook, but I'm expecting paint-crinkling powers to be in evidence.
  • Pangolin GuerrePangolin Guerre Shipmate
    edited April 2021
    Gee D wrote: »
    Thanks. I was not being entirely serious.

    We've drunk very little Canadian wine - never seen it for sale here, and what we've drunk was in Canada. From that limited experience, I'd not go hunting for it.

    Unfortunately, one has to be on the ground to find the good stuff, and when I say local, I mean very local, like a day's drive local. (Think of the earlier days of the Australian wine industry, and the later effect of Monty Python on popular perceptions of Australian wine.) Given our climate, I'd say that in Ontario Riesling does the best, with some notable Chardonnays. Reds are very biased towards cool climate and early ripening cultivars - Gamay, and a few remarkable Pinots Noirs and Cabernets Francs. In British Columbia, having the Okanagan Valley (its southern reach is a Köppen 'B') is better at producing reds.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I suspect that we'll never get to try them. In effect, overseas travel at the moment is all but impossible, and I've never seen a Canadian wine for sale here.
  • We opened a bottle of Merlot last night, made by the Slovenian producer Stekar and aged in Slovenian oak apparently grown on their property. I really liked it - intense Merlot fruit matched with good acidity - though Ms. Marsupial was less impressed. Was not a perfect match for our lamb ragu pasta - the importer had promoted it as being somewhat northern Italian in style which didn’t jump out at me at all to be honest.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited April 2021
    Piglet wrote: »
    When we lived in Belfast, a favourite restaurant was Mange Tous, an offshoot of the Pierre Victoire franchise.
    WE still had a PV restaurant in Cardiff until last year. It closed - if memory serves me right - just before Covid. We liked it and it was convenient for a pre-concert dinner.

    The other night we had Chinese food and I opened a bottle of Hungarian Tokaji Furmint. It was nice but turned out to be drier than I'd anticipated and didn't really go well. However the following night we had oven-baked Sea Bass and that was a perfect match!

  • Much to my amusement I've picked up a bottle each of white and red for £3.68 each at Lidl - for cooking porpoises - and neither was the cheapest on the shelf by some margin! I will have to sample them when we cook, but I'm expecting paint-crinkling powers to be in evidence.

    Here in Australia, it is apparently well-known within the industry which major wineries supply Aldi's house labels, but no-one is game to make it public. Those which I have tasted have been very quaffable.
  • Aussie gear ...

    I remember the good old days when Marks and Spencer in the UK offered a single-vineyard Semillon from Tyrells (you had to read the back label). It wasn't cheap but often got discounted down to £12 at which price the only question was 1 or 2 (six-packs)

    Best Aussie rieslings I have drunk have come from the Drumborg/Henty region if you can find them. Crawford River is the classic and I think it's imported to the UK ... used to be via Justerini and Brooks. Seppelt Drumborg Riesling is a great wine too but only seen in Oz/NZ. Both had amazing purity and (Crawford River) a silky mouthfeel, fantastic aged.
  • Tyrrell Elizabeth Semillon needs to be aged, as when young it is harsh on the palate. From about 8 years it develops a complexity and richness which makes it a most satisfying drink.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    I was a bit annoyed with the wine box I got from Tesco. It said it would last six weeks but it was all gone in three days.

    Sorry. I'll get my coat...
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Tyrrell Elizabeth Semillon needs to be aged, as when young it is harsh on the palate. From about 8 years it develops a complexity and richness which makes it a most satisfying drink.

    Tyrell's Semillons are very, very good. The same can be said for Hunter Semillons generally (but I can't think of Tyrell's Elizabeth Semillon, Mt Pleasant yes, Tyrell's no). All need a fair bit of bottle age.
  • Agree. A pity it is sold so young in many bottle-o’s as the product is like so much cat’s piss
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