The Grape Count

In Vino Veritas- "In Wine there is Truth"
Grapes to try to date: 200

Grapes tried: 104
Grapes to go:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I've been commercialed!

So I'm taking a bit of a break from the blog through no fault of my own (okay, well part of it can be blamed on but not completely). Tomorrow I head out for the UK (Dundee, Scotland to be exact) for work and then a well earned trip to Eastern Europe for personal time. I'll be back April 20. So while my wine drinking won't be put on hold (hello Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary!), my weekly review is until I get back. So we'll have a few weeks to catch up on. Oh gosh darn, I have to drink multiple wines in April and May.

I also have a second excuse. I broke my wrist last week, my drinking hand (and the hand I write with btw) so I've been unable to drink any alcohol because of the painkillers I'm on. So week 12 and 13 will be reviewed in April. That Muscat is just dying to be drank.

We'll have lots to celebrate in May. Not only do I get my cast off May 3, my brother Craig will be healed to drink again as well (he busted his shoulder snowboarding the day before I broke my wrist in dodgeball). And the other siblings, Kris and Jim are both expecting little ones in May (a girl and boy respectively) so there will be lots of wine drinking and smiling and cheers(ing) going around the family.

So, I'm out and see ya in late April!

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

#11- Malbec

"You can't judge a wine by its label." Because if that were the case, this Malbec would have been the best wine ever. Unfortunately, it was far from it. And we do have some differing opinions here on the wine itself.

I was looking forward to the Malbec. I've drank several different bottles of Malbec and have always enjoyed them so I was really expecting the same thing here. I picked up a bottle of LoTengo Malbec, a 2008 wine from Argentina and bottled by Bodega Norton.

Let's start with the cool part of this wine and why I picked it up. It was for no other reason that the coolest label I've seen to date. It's what I believe they call a holographic foil. The label is of two people doing the tango (LoTengo...okay you get it) and when you move the bottle, the dancers legs move so it actually looks like they're doing the tango. Freakin' cool! Yes, this is how I chose this wine. Rather than going with a recommendation or a previous Malbec that I loved, I chose this bottle because I wanted the cool label. Learn people from this- never pick up a bottle because of its label. Or if you do, pick up a second bottle of the grape for comparison.

I should also point out I'm battling a heck of a sinus cold so my taste buds may be a little off. Excuses. In any case, dinner was prepared by Craig (here's the deal- Craig got gift cards to go out and buy chicken but he'd like to let you all know he "cooked" dinner. To be fair, he did make the St. Hubert sauce...). So we had roast chicken, fries and sauce with some slaw. Not exactly a perfect red wine pairing but I'm not complaining. I didn't have to cook.
So,the wine. I was prepared for the acidic taste but didn't bother to let Craig know. He took a gulp of the wine and immediately made his decision that the wine was no good. His first words were "tastes like balsamic vinegar." The first couple of mouthfuls were hard to get down. It is a very acidic wine and you can very much taste the tannins in the wine. The tannins relaxed a bit as the wine breathed (so if you try a Malbec, make sure to either decanter it or let the wine breathe in the bottle for a good hour) and I found the wine to be at least drinkable. I even had a second glass. My mother took a whiff of the wine and couldn't get any closer than that to trying it. Craig didn't even finish his glass but the effort was there. He just couldn't get past the acidic taste. "So much for me liking all the reds" he said. And he would like to point out that this was by far the worst wine we've had to date.

So it's not a rave review for this Malbec but let me assure you that there are some amazing Malbecs out there. My sister and I all last summer enjoyed a bottle (or six) of Malbec wines and loved them all. Apparently this one wasn't on my list. I'll be on the look out for a better bottle of wine and as soon as I find it, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I'll make a valient effort today to finish the bottle, even with my taste buds out of whack. Maybe it'll taste great with a side of cold medicine.

And the rumour is true. Next week the wine is a dessert wine and we're trying the very delicious Muscat. Let's hope we're not in for two bad weeks in a row.

Friday, March 19, 2010

#10- Viognier

The Viognier is indeed a winner. And all of the wine tasters (mother included) agree that the wine is simply delicious.

This wine was bought on a wine buying mission by yours truly. I'm heading out in a couple of weeks for a vacation so I thought it best to go and buy weeks worth of wine in one shot so I purchased four bottle of wine and at a grant total of $51. Liquor on McLeod (in Spruce Grove) is quickly becoming a favourite haunt of mine. Not only are they extremely helpful (they often look up various wines for me to provide me with additional information on a bottle of wine I'm considering), but they have an amazing variety of wines that competes with nearly any store out there. I especially love their discount rack where I found 3 of my 4 wine purchases (funnily enough, the Viognier was not one of them) and come with a 20 per cent discount.

My advice here is to become familiar with your local wine store, get to know the owners, don't be afraid to ask questions and see what discounts they do offer. Join their mailing list and find out when they have wine tastings. It's a great way to sample a variety of wines without forking over the cash. The Viognier I picked up is a French wine from Domaine de Mont-Auriol near the Mediterranean Sea.

With my wines in tow, I headed over to Maison du Parents for dinner. Pork was on the menu with a side of vegetables- a perfect combination for this white wine. And only in name. This wine is very rich and a dark yellow colour, a very nice contrast to the Gewurztraminer.

How do I describe this wine? I felt it immediately filled my mouth with wonderful goodness. Definitely a full bodied wine. My mother described how the taste hit her (in a good way) towards the back of her mouth that left you wanting more. Indeed this wine aims to please and doesn't miss.

It's fruity content paired well with the pork and left very little in terms of aftertaste. Craig quickly poured himself a glass and he too picked out the fruit flavours of the wine. It's too bad this grape in particular has become rare (it used to be quite plentiful in the Rhone Valley) because this grape makes for absolutely delicious wine.

If you want to impress at a dinner party or need a wine idea for a gift, impress them with the Viognier. It'll be sure to delight.

Next week it's back to the a red and a sister (Kristin) favourite, the Malbec! And rumour has it that an dessert wine is on top in the next couple of weeks. I'm busy researching the perfect dessert. But it's only rumour...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

#9- Gewurztraminer

I've been drinking Gewurztraminers for years. To say I like this grape is a bit of an understatement. So you can guess that this one is going to be a positive review. I was actually introduced to this grape by a winemaker when I lived in Ottawa. A friend of mine and I decided we were going to make our own wine and one of our very first batches produced was the Gewurztraminer.

I purchased a 2008 Summerhill Pyramid Winery wine (it's Canadian and located in British Columbia) from the local liquor store after purchasing all of my ingredients for the chicken satay dinner I made. I happened to buy a crockpot the day before and was hell bent on trying it. I did some research on which wines go best with asian and spicy food and the Gewurztraminer always came up as a good match, so I was set.

With the wine chilling in the fridge and the satay cooking away in the crock pot, I was ready for some guaranteed good wine. The first thing I noticed about the wine was its colour. It was so clear in its colour it was practically clear. A very nice champagne colour indeed.

The Gewurztraminer is considered a middleweight wine, not too acidic and not too heavy. Many of these wines are very dry. In fact, I didn't find this wine acidic at all. It sat very well on my tongue and very little aftertaste. I could taste a hint of spice in the wine and found it an excellent pairing to the satay. Most beginner wine drinkers will like this wine. This wine also pairs very nicely with seafood, especially salmon.

Craig wasn't over for dinner so I saved a bit of wine for him to try later. It takes a lot to let a really good wine sit in your fridge and not drink it. But we're in this together so I had to hold out for him. I took it over to the house for him to try and as you can see, I catered to him on this evening, allowing him to drink in a casual lying position to drink the wine. Craig enjoyed this wine as well and well, I can't exactly remember what he said. Perhaps I'd had too much other wine at this point (give me a break, I was on to the next week's wine) but I'm sure if I bother to ask him about it, he'll remind me.

I haven't met a Gerwurztraminer I didn't like and this was no exception. Highly recommend it. My next wine is another white and another guaranteed gooder (is that a word?), the Viognier.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

#8- Mourvedre

Move Over Dear. That's how one website artfully has you remember the name of the Mourvedre grape. The grape is considered an emerging grape so you'll likely hear about it more and more. It also goes by a couple of other names (think Syrah and Shiraz as an example) so it's also known as a Monastrell, Matero and Balzac grape.

The wine I was looking for was sold out at Liquor Select in Edmonton that carried this hard to find wine. Apparently it's on wine lovers' radar screens and I was out of luck to pick up a bottle from California. But as luck would have it, the store manager was pretty knowledgeable about wines and directed me towards a Spanish Monastrell wine she had in stock and quickly explained to me it was the same grape. Perfect! I was on my way.

The wine is from the Altos De La Hoya, Bodegas Olivares in Santa Ana, Spain. The vintage is 2006 and the bottle cost me $18.99. I bought it and headed over to my parents house who were having a little birthday celebration for my brother (happy 27th Craig!) and it was the closing of the Olympic closing ceremonies. A nice red would end our two weeks of showcasing our country to the world and a strong show of patriotism just nicely.

Chili was the order of the day for this meal. With the wine chilled to the right temperature for a red (yes, chill a red for about half an hour in the fridge) and the 42 inch television calling our name, I cracked open the bottle and poured ourselves a glass. The first thing I noticed (and only the second time I've had this), the wine had a black cork. I'm still not sure what to think about that. No matter, it doesn't affect the wine. At first, both Craig and I noticed a biting acidic taste to the wine and no wonder. On the grape varietal table, this grape is a superheavyweight and has very high acidity. We let the wine settle a bit and the bite wasn't as severe as dinner went on.

I really liked this wine. it was full of flavour and I found it very satisfying. What I mean by that is that I enjoyed how this wine played on my tongue. It was like all of my taste buds were busy figuring out this wine. There was a bit of an oak taste to it (from being aged in barrels), but it was not an overpowering taste. Craig, not being a red wine lover, especially enjoyed this wine and turned to me and said "I think I'm becoming a red wine lover, what's happening to?" You know it's a good red when...

I highly recommend this wine and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on that California Mourvedre that was out of stock. So the next time you're looking for a new red to try and don't mind a little acidity and bite to your wine, go grab a mourvedre.

On another note for any of you who live in Alberta, do you know that there is a website that helps you track down your favourite bottle of wine (and other sprits)? The website is the Alberta Liquor Guide and I use this site regularly to find those hard to fine wines. And you're welcome. The next grape on the list is one of my favourites- the Gewurztraminer.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

#7- Arinto

I first tasted this wine when I ducked in to pick up a couple of bottles of wine. A little wine tasting was happening in the store- Liquor on McLeod in Spruce Grove. So I tasted. And I loved! I bought the bottle without even realizing that the bottle I purchased was a separate grape. My how things work out sometimes.

The Arinto grape is from Portugal and not much is out there to describe this wine. The wine is from Prova Regia in the Bucelas region. This bottle is a 2007 vintage and cost me a whole $14.43. I chilled the wine before dinner. And this time dinner was bought. As you can see, I tried the wine with a nice assortment of sushi. I knew the Arinto grape would go well with the fish and rice.The bottle chilled, I took it out for dinner and managed to break the cork in half! Ticked I am! So I had to push half the cork into the bottle so now the wine has a huge floater in it. No matter, I was drinking this wine anyway! At first, I found the wine very acidic and decided to let the wine warm up a bit before drinking it. And it certainly changed the taste of it, the acidic bite gone from the wine. This wine was delicious and it took all my might not to drink the whole thing that night. I had to save some for Craig. I found it quite pleasing on the palette and crisp to taste. Refreshing indeed.

Craig immediately noted the citrus taste and reading the back of the bottle, it did have hints of lemon to it. Apparently my palette isn't very good because I didn't notice the lemon taste at all. But no matter, Craig was easy enough to please and had no issues drinking the wine. He did mention he could taste a woodiness to it, but that could be from the cork floating in the bottle overnight.

I would definitely recommend the wine and certainly the grape to others who are looking for a refreshing white. Next up is the red grape- Mourvedre. It should be a good one.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

#6- Furmint

In Alberta, a Furmint wine is hard to find. You're extremely limited as to who imports it into the province and who stocks it so I was pleasantly surprised to find a Furmint wine at Glenora Liquor. Now, for a wine that is so hard to find, I wasn't sure what to expect but let's just say this- the price tag for this wine surprised the heck out of me.

I was mentally preparing myself to pay a pretty penny for this wine. Boy was I wrong. Not only was this wine affordable, it's been the cheapest bottle of wine I've bought so far for this project. It cost me a whole $10.99! I immediately thought, this wine isn't going to be that good if it's that cheap. My thinking changed from "this must be one hell of a wine that no one can afford to import it" to "maybe there's a reason no one imports this wine and it costs less than $12 with tax." Happy to have found it and overly optimistic, I was ready to try this new wine.

The bottle I purchased is Tokaji Furmint, a Hungarian white table wine. This is where I wish I could read Hungarian because I have no clue what winery this wine is actually from. Tokaji is the region in Hungary the Furmint grapes are grown. I'm sure it's somewhere on the bottle but everything I plug into Google doesn't give me the winery or winery name. Perhaps I'm supposed to know this from the crown at the top of the label? Anyway, you have the picture of it so that's the best I can do here until someone who reads Hungarian can tell me more.

We drank this wine for my my dad's birthday (he's kind enough to share Valentine's with us) which was also the crazy weekend that included the Olympics and Family Day so a busy wine drinking weekend full of red and white and family.

The meal was a good one to go with our white, a nice homemade lasagna! Okay, so it wasn't homemade at all but still, the point is there was a lot of food to go with our Furmint. What I remember most about this meal is how big my piece of lasagna was. I had every intention of only eating half of it only to have licked the plate clean. Thank goodness I exercise regularly or this weekend could have been the end of me.So back to the wine. In a word- tasteless. It didn't taste like anything at all to me. It's not memorable, there's no discernible taste that jumps out at you. It's just-- wine. I was so disappointed. All the work I'd put in to finding this darn wine and I didn't like it. Craig on the other hand, didn't mind it at all. This is supposed to be a very rich wine with a fiery taste and similar to a Chardonnay but I just didn't find anything that stood out.

I'm just not sure what more I can say other than this wine is not worth it, even for $10.99. Don't bother to drink this wine unless you're a) a lover of the Chardonnay or b) you too are trying what Craig and I are attempting. I'm really hoping our next wine is much better and more satisfying. Next week, we're trying an Arinto!