Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Stuff I drank Recently - or the good the bad and the Candidato

I have had very mixed results in my latest quaffings but some highlights, and low lights, are listed below.

Jumilla Juan Gill GOS Monastrell 2004 - big fruit bomb from a Parker fave, this wine will get more play in my house during summer grilling season but certainly worth having a couple of bottles kicking around now - BCLDB #195834 $12.99

Jumilla - Hijo de Juan Gill 2003 - the big brother of the above wine and it is huge - tastes like they crammed 2 bottles into one, huge red fruits but good length and carries robust food well. Might be a tad overpriced at $24.99 but still worth the buy, a drink or hold wine. BCLDB #195859.

Jumilla - Panarroz 2003 - made by the famous Bodegas Olivares this is another Parker fave, with lots of silky fruit and soft tannins, of course it's a Parker fave because it retails for less than $7-9 in the US, at $15.90 here I'm on the fence for value but it is a beautifully crafted "New World" red. BCLDB #198879.

3 good Spanish Reds so I pressed my luck on

Candidato Bodegas Martin Bujandez Tinto Oro 2002 - awful, stinky no fruit and we couldn't even finish the bottle. One week later I saw that it had been reduced in price to $7.99 but even at that price it isn't worth it. BCLDB #523811

Speaking of price reductions the benevolent MotherShip has done a few 25% mark downs this month but for the most part they aren't really worth the money even after discount ( see comments for more buyer beware) but a couple of wines worth buying are:

Ribiero del Duero Crianza 2001 - Legaris - this boutique end of the giant Codornui company produces lovely "New World" Tinta Fina and is on sale for $18.99. BCLDB #114108

Douro Esteva - Ferreira 2001 - nice soft tannins and black fruits make this a very nice everyday quaffer on sale for $9.49. BCLDB #537126

And for the big ticket:

Rioja Gran Reserva - Marques de Riscal 1998 - from one of Rioja's great estates this wine is drinking superbly now and will hold nicely for another 2 years (but better now I think), complex aromas of cedar, spice and ripe red fruits with a still evident backbone of American Oak and a long, almost dusty finish. This wine cries out for grilled meats or Sunday roast and is a steal at $39.99 ( I hardly ever call $39.99 a steal). BCLDB #476523.

On another interesting sidenote I recently drank white wine with dinner, Raclette which deserves its' own post:

Pfaffenheim Riesling 2003 - 2003 was the record hot weather vintage in Europe and this riesling is a good example of bone dry Alsatian white. Lemon peel and vaseline on the nose this wine has excellent weight and lovely minerally, smoky, apple-lime flavours. It was great with the raclette and would also be great with roast poultry or spicy Asian dishes.

Enough for now, I have to phone Pete's daughter to have her tell me where "Daddy hid the Note Bene" before Sunday.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Election Day Dream

It is federal election day here in Canada and a dark cloud looms over the land. The forces of Sauron, oops I mean the Conservative party, appear poised to rip power away from the old King and turn Paul Martin into this generation's John Turner.

The stench of corruption from the Gomery report seems to outweigh relative prosperity, a balanced budget, and the fact that many of the Conservative candidates wear hooded white robes to late night party meetings. It seems certain to me that we will soon be lead by a man whose major political move in the campaign was to wear a turtleneck - but I have a dream.

In my dream the Tory minority must rely on the vote from a single independent MP on a non confidence vote. Playing the role of Chuck Cadman in this scenario will be Svend Robinson. Svend, having triumphed over Hedy Fry by a single vote because Hedy and her secretary forgot to vote while shoe shopping, has left the NDP caucus because Jack Layton has insisted in changing the party name to "The Pirates of the Caribbean" and taking to referring to himself as Cap'n Jack aaargh.

Oh to be a fly on the wall in that meeting.

I'll post about wine a little later this week.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Word of the day

Occasionally words just sing out to me so once in a while I will post a word of the day.

From dictionary.com today's word is:

shill - One who poses as a satisfied customer, or an enthusiastic gambler, to dupe bystanders into participating in a swindle.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Corned Beef

It has been raining for close to month now here in Vancouver, daughter is hoping for a few more days to break the record but I could use a little sunshine and blue sky. Since I have no control over the weather I did the next best thing - comfort food.

In the grand pantheon of comfort food I suppose Pot Roast is King, closely followed by meatloaf, roast chicken and, in my mind, Corned Beef. I'm talking real "old school" corned beef brisket that has been properly brined by a good practitioner. Much to my delight my weekly search of Stong's website found Corned Beef on sale for $2.98 a pound, so Tuesday morning found me deep in the heart of Dunbar plucking a 2 1/2 pound piece of Corned Beef and scurrying home, after a pleasant chat with Stanley Q. Tuesday was a work night but Wednesday would be Comfort Food Night.

One of the things necessary, in my mind, to make a dish a "comfort food" is simplicity. Nothing could be easier than Corned Beef, once you have found a reliable supplier the cooking process is the essence of easy - just rinse off the brine and cover the beef in boiling water and simmer for about an hour per pound. That's it.

When I was a child my mom would add cabbage to the simmering beef water for the last while and serve corned beef, cabbage and boiled potatoes, the classic "Boiled Dinner". Times have changed and boiled cabbage and potatoes do not suit the palates' of wife or daughter so I compromise with mashed Yukon Gold spuds and broccoli in white cheddar sauce. Dinner was superb, with daughter scarfing down beef (au naturel) and broccoli with reckless abandon while wife and I add horseradish/mustard cream to our beef and consume with equal gusto.

Another prerequisite of "Comfort Food" is that leftovers must exist and be enjoyable. The 2 1/2 pound Corned beef left easily a pound of leftovers which have since been coupled with scrambled eggs and onions for breakfast as well as being thinly sliced for sandwiches.

Incidently the total cost of this meal was less than $12, including all condiments and saucing, which is less than it costs Cactus Club to produce 3 burgers, PLUS I had leftovers. Of course my purchasing power is a bit better than a multi-million dollar restaurant chain. Either that or the math in the recent Vancouver Magazine article is a little off (40%+ food cost?).

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Word of the Day

Occasionally words just sing out to me so once in a while I will post a word of the day.

From dictionary.com today's word is:

Quisling - A traitor who serves as the puppet of the enemy occupying his or her country.

[After Vidkun Quisling (1887-1945), head of Norway's government during the Nazi occupation (1940-1945).]

Dictionary.com is slightly wrong, in that Quisling wasn't actually the head of Norway's government from 1940-45, but was the guy who welcomed the Nazis with open arms and declared himself the head of an ad hoc government that lasted only 5 days. Quisling was appointed "Minister President" in 1942, a position he held until his arrest, and subsequent execution, in 1945.

Wow - how big a traitor do you have to be to have your name become a eponym for traitor !!!!!!!!!


I transferred this post from my old blog because someone at work last night asked my opinion of neophyte wine collectors. This pretty much sums it up.

Okay, I'm a bit sensitive about the wine issue, check out my "name", but the new generation of "wine abees" are starting to drive me nuts.

A classic example occurred on Tuesday night, 4 men in for dinner start off with some beers and then buddy starts spouting about how "their corporate lawyer" is the same one as Mission Hill and bring them a bottle of "Occulus". Bottle arrives, I open, sample and decant then buddy tells me not to pour as he wants the wine to breathe for a while, this immediately sets off my "wine idiot" alarm - if you really want the wine to breathe then the best thing to do is pour, but I defer.

Buddy then regales me for 2-3 minutes about how he now buys "Occulus" by the magnum to keep in his cellar, and how his cellar had to be reinsured last month because the value had gone up so much. I ask him what he likes to collect and he is a bit slow to respond with "meritages and shiraz" but no examples other than the aforementioned red wine whose made up name sounds like a bad Roman Emperor. I comment that the magnums are a good idea for longer aging, blank stare then a "yeah sure".

Dinner is ordered and just before it arrives I check back to see if another "Occuli" will be required. Buddy says no - can he see the winelist again, I bring it and he hems and haws before finally asking me about a certain meritage in the $100 range. As it happens I had tasted the wine less than a month prior with the winemaker and we had both agreed that the wine was going through an awkward phase, in fact our sommelier and I had discussed taking it off the list for a while, I told buddy that I wasn't crazy about the wine at this time and drew his attention to a superb Merlot from a very small producer the same area for $95 that was drinking brilliantly. No, No No says buddy, nobody drinks Merlot anymore (another "Sideways" moment) and furthermore I was wrong about the Meritage,

So I bring the Meritage, open, sample and decant while Buddy waxes on about how great it is and "Do I care to sample", I do - it still tastes awkward and I tell him so, the fruit/acid balance is off and the wine is just not very good right now.

The point is that why ask your server's opinion on wine if you don't want to hear it ? If you want the "Meritage" just order the Meritage and be done with it. Please don't try and impress me with your wine knowledge because chances are I know as much as you do and I, or any waiter, don't care how much "Occulus" you have in your newly re-appraised cellar.

And please stop with the Merlot bashing - it was a line in a movie, not a commandment from the Wine God. Enough said, I'm sure there will be more "Wine abee" commentary in the future...... me I'm going to my "cellar" to pick out a nice bottle of Merlot for dinner tonight.

Television Roulette

The other night I had an epiphany, of sorts.

While watching the Thursday night re-runs I mentioned to wife that most people were probably like us in that they only watched TV regularly 1 or 2 nights a week. My job takes me out 4 nights a week, but for 925ers there are probably other impediments like sports, hobbies, movies etc. that mean they likely only watch TV regularly on say Monday and Wednesday nights.

The problem arises when re-run season hits and your Monday/Wednesday shows are all ones you have seen. The end result for us is movie rentals but if NBC, or whoever, wanted our loyalty during "encore performance" times why not switch their entire programming line-ups. Take Monday nights line-up and move flip it with Wednesday etc. or just move each night ahead one night, excluding Friday and Saturday which I understand TV executives have simply abandoned anyway.

The end result would be that I could watch a whole new group of television shows on Thursday without ever having to consult a TV guide or change the channel from my normal 9pm slot. I know Tivo is supposed to change all this but a survey in the US in 2002 showed that 47% of people didn't know how to program their VCR to record at specific times so I think my idea has some legs.

If any TV execs are reading this a moderate financial compensation would be appreciated, after all you paid somebody to write "Cop Rock"................just how high were they at that pitch meeting.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Stuff I drank last Month

I apologize for the lapsed blogging but the impact of 17 days of school vacation, coupled with Christmas sugar buzz, holiday volume at work and not seeing the sun for God knows how long, have prevented me from sitting down and writing.

Rather than get into a long and rambling discourse of all the alcohol I consumed over the Holidays I will limit this to a Top Ten Best things I drank in December.

10) Balvenie DoubleWood 12 year old Malt Whisky - this is my house "premium" malt and at the end of long days over the holidays its' smooth peaty goodness may very well have saved my sanity. BCLDB #387316 $67.95

9) Marston's Oyster Stout - while I am a huge fan of Guinness the fact remains that for home consumption the 500ml bottle of Marston's is simply better - a little sweeter than Guinness but lovely and long. BCLDB #457663 $3.75

8) Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Zinfandel 2002 - big, velvety with more acid than this grape often comes with. It was a gift from a guest so I have no idea as to where it came from but I'm guessing the retail is around $45.

7) Weinert Reserve Cabernet 1999 - Weinert are arguably Argentina's finest producer and this wine, which I bought on sale last March at the BCLDB for $19.95, didn't disappoint. Lots of "old world" charm wrapped in red fruit with a little dried cherry and bramble.

6) Shiraz Viognier "Laughing Magpie" D'Arenberg 2003 - this is an unusual blend using a small percentage of white Viognier grapes to balance the full fruity flavours of Shiraz. The practice is not uncommon in Cote Rotie and is being used more often in Australia. The wine is HUGE with lots of blackberry and cassis, as would be expected from McLaren Shiraz, but the Viognier adds a layer of white peach/apricot that tempers the overall fruitbomb impression. I will be interested to see how this wine ages. BCLDB #118570 $29.99.

5) Graceland Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - this is a small family run winery in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. This wine is quite simply beautiful with rich fruit overtones of raspberry and plum, a firm tannic backbone and the nice vanilla tones I associate with French Oak. BCLDB #140970 $29.99

4) Coudoulet de Beaucastel Cotes du Rhone 2001 - the 2nd label of the famous Chateauneuf producer Chateau de Beaucastel this Cotes du Rhone is a great example of a great vintage in the Rhone valley. The wine has lovely acidity and a meaty element around the red fruit flavours, I think you are paying a few dollars too much but it should still be in your cellar. BCLDB #614503 $32.99

3) Kettle Valley Reserve Pinot Noir 2001 - as mentioned in my Christmas day post, I believe Kettle Valley to be the best overall producer of red wine in BC. This wine was great Pinot Noir, with a touch of old world barnyard mixed in with strawberry and dried cherry flavours. I worry a bit about the age worthiness of these wines so I would drink them over the next 18 months. Winery or VQA shops - around $30.

2) Cecil Chassagne Gicondas 2000 - as much the circumstance as the wine, this was the first bottle opened at our "fairly annual boys Christmas lunch", the wine is nearing its plateau but still gives off the lovely fresh fruity flavours of Grenache. I can't find any info on it but judging by the winelist price I'm guessing it would retail around $26-$28.

1) Bodegas Ostatu Crianza 2001 - simply a great bottle of wine for a very good price. Made with a blend of Tempranillo and Graciano from 50+ year old vines the wine has a lovely acidity wrapped in a red fruit core, the aroma is lightly smoky with an earthy character reminiscent of great Rhone valley wines. BCLDB #147330 $24.99