A while ago, Dave and I blogged about Catena Malbec 2012 as a really nice wine under $20. Now, the LCBO has put it on sale at $15.95/bottle until January 20, 2016. Don’t know about you, but we’re heading out to stock up!
“He said, she said” is our attempt to provide two perspectives. We hope that you find the information interesting and helpful. Perhaps our adventures will help you design your own wine adventures!
We live in Ontario, Canada, and over the years we’ve been fortunate to get to know the wine regions of Ontario, California and Burgundy, France. We live in hope that we can expand that one of these days.
We’re very enthusiastic about wine, and love nothing better than learning something new through visiting wineries, or participating in wine tastings, whether formal, or with a group of friends. Over the years, we’ve dragged our friends to many wine tasting parties and events, and they’ve always been great sports about it. Even our friends that aren’t into wine have indulged us and come along for the ride.
We’ve recently relocated to near London, Ontario, so are looking to network with wine lovers in this area – and we’re looking forward to exploring Southwest Ontario’s wine scene.
If you’re interested in our golfing adventures, visit us at www.lovethatgolf.ca.
Melanie and Dave
Years ago (like 20 years), when Dave and I were just getting into wine, the Liquor Commission Board of Ontario (LCBO) came out with a program to introduce people to wine. Each month, they would recommend wines that they suggested you buy in 3-bottle lots: one to drink now, one to drink in a year, and one to drink some time later, based on the aging potential of the wine. These wine recommendations were in the back of the magazine, and came with great write-ups about the wine, along with articles about aging and storing wines. The goal was to document your thoughts about each bottle, and compare them, so you could understand the effect that bottle aging has on wines, and why you might buy wines that aren’t even ready to drink yet.
We still practice this to this day. Every time we identify a wine that we’d like – perhaps through Wine of the Weekend or WineAlign, we buy three bottles, drink one right away and put the other two away. Of course this means you need somewhere to keep the wine, like in a dark corner in the basement – or even better, a wine cellar. And it means you need some discipline to let it sit for a year or two. Not that we have that much discipline – but we found that if you have lots of bottles in the cellar, you’re ok with letting some of them age, as there’s always something else to drink :-).
What’s the value of this? It’s a pleasure to enjoy a good wine, but to see it age and become even better with time is even more special. You feel more ownership and pride in the wine – after all, you’ve safeguarded it while it worked on becoming its best. It elevates drinking wine from just slugging back something to skew reality, to a practice of appreciating something that’s grown in special soil, by special people, in a place that you’d love to visit. It gives you the ability to learn to identify what you like, how it will complement your meals and make them more enjoyable, and where you should spend your precious wine budget. And if you’ve stumbled on a truly exceptional wine, it gives you something amazing to look forward to.
Why not give it a try? Next time you’re off to buy a bottle of wine, pick up three. And let us know how that works for you!
I received an email describing this wine as part of the Wine of the Weekend service, which highlights wines available at the LCBO that are:
- less than $25 retail
- readily available in Ontario
- over-deliver on quality and value
- fit the season or what is happening that weekend
- are approachable and perfect for sharing and celebrating
Dave went off and bought our standard 3-bottle lot at an LCBO store in London Ontario, and we tried the first bottle tonight. All I can say is “Honey, get in the car and get some more!”
This is a lovely wine, lots of berries when you open the bottle, which for me turned into violets on the nose as the wine opened. It’s robust, with good tannins, but is extremely drinkable right away, with lots of blackberry flavours. While it was robust, I was quite happy to drink the first half of the bottle before dinner – it doesn’t absolutely cry out for food to accompany it, like some wines do. But I can also see drinking this with a nice steak, or some super aged cheddar. Here’s the Wine of the Weekend writeup.
Dave was getting “nuts” when he was drinking it. Honey, I think that was the nutmeg flavour, or maybe the cocoa coming through. While it’s complex enough to suit those with sophisticated tastes, it’s just a wonderful wine for the rest of us too!
- Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
- Maipo Valley, Chile
- 14.5% alcohol, $17.95/bottle
We’ve been periodically trying wines recommended in the Wine of the Weekend email service – some are stars, others, meh…
This week’s wine is Santa Julia Reserva Malbec 2014, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina – another Malbec. While in our opinion, it doesn’t hold a flame to our last Malbec, it’s not a bad wine, especially for the price.
She said: “It reminds me a bit of Beaujolais Nouveau, there’s a flavour in there that you find with younger wines (reminds me of Turkish Delight.)
He said: “This might not be a Malbec to introduce yourself to Malbec – I’d suggest that the last Malbec we tested is a much better example of just how good this varietal can be.”
Do you agree? Why not try both wines and see which you like, and why. Here’s the details:
- This week’s wine: Santa Julia Reserva Malbec 2014, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina LCBO #429761 $12.95
- Our preferred wine: Catena Malbec 2012, Vintages 478727, $19.95
For less than $20, this wine is a wonderful find. It’s also a good lesson in looking for the less expensive wines from the top tier wineries.
Catena classifies its wines: the regular Catena (like this wine) is from the family vineyards, Catena Alta is a limited production wine, while Catena Zapata is their premium wine, designed to compete on the world wine stage at the highest tiers.
He said: I remember thinking when I bought this that it was a bit of a steal, as the Catena wines are usually more. Catena – located in Argentina – is renowned for its Malbec.
She said: Too bad we don’t have any more, the 2011 Catena Alta – available in Vintages – is $49.95 per bottle.
He said: That’s a bit steep for us – we’ll keep our eyes open for the next regular Catena offering.
She said: Well, I think this $20 wine stacks up really well against many more expensive wines we’ve tried. I wouldn’t mind trying the Catena Alta, assuming that it should be better than this one. Maybe I’ll ask Santa Claus for one!
It’s been way too long since we shared our latest bottle of wine – it’s not that we haven’t been drinking, it’s just that we haven’t had time to discuss the wines. We’ve been tied up with moving from the eastern Greater Toronto Area to Southwestern Ontario, to the beachside community of Port Stanley (who ever thought downsizing would be easy?). We’ll save the discussion for moving wines, making an even bigger wine cellar (yay), and Port Stanley for another time. Today, let’s discuss this wine.
She said: “I learned about this wine from the Wine of the Weekend email I get every Friday. I liked the name so jumped in Bessie and drove in to St. Thomas to grab my bottles before they were all gone. The very nice gentleman at the LCBO store gave me two bottles although they weren’t actually to be released until Saturday.
He said: “d’Arenberg makes other wines we’ve had and liked, such as The Dead Arm. I like this wine. It’s light, crisp, acidic – although it does best if it’s cold. Starts to get a little flabby when it warms up.”
(So do I, she thought, I’d better chill!).
She said: “It’s got a beautiful nose, citrus and tropical fruits.”
He said: “It’s also got lots of layers to it.”
This is a very nice sipping wine, dry enough, but with tons of flavour. And at $19.95, it’s a great deal. But according to the writeup it goes quite quickly, so get out and pick up a few bottles as soon as you can – it’s a wonderful late summer wine.
- d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2013
- McLaren Vale Australia
- $19.95 | LCBO#: 662775 | 750 mL | 13.1% alc./vol.
Over the years, one thing we’ve both learned to do is swirl the wine in our glass, which gently exposes it to more oxygen – exposing the “nose” of the wine, and helping soften the wine a bit. The glass you use can be extremely important for this purpose, especially if you’re an enthusiastic swirler!
In our early drinking days, we had everyday glassware. But now we will pay the higher prices for quality crystal wine glasses – for us they increase the enjoyment of the experience.
She said: “I love the light ‘ting’ that a good crystal gives off, plus the feel of it in my hand. These expensive glasses have larger bowls, which provide more air exposure to the wine, and room enough to get your nose down in there to experience the aromas of the wine, before that first important taste.”
He said:”You need a big glass so you won’t spill it when you’re swirling.”
Ah, well, there is that. But do you really need special glasses? The short answer is no – whatever works for you is fine. But if you want to take your experience to the next level, investing in some purpose-designed wine glasses may be just the thing. We have appropriate glasses for most of the wines we drink, and they just add to the pomp and circumstance of opening, then savouring, the wine. The Wine Enthusiast web site has a very nice article on the different types of glasses.
The Dead Arm. Makes me think of the old west, of wild areas, outlaws, doing what they want with no regard for the law. Dust bowls and tumbleweeds. Abandoned ghost towns.
Couldn’t be further from the reality. Here’s what the winery has to say: “Dead Arm is a vine disease caused by the fungus Eutypa Lata that randomly affects vineyards all over the world. Often vines affected are severely pruned or replanted. One half, or an ‘arm’ of the vine slowly becomes reduced to dead wood. That side may be lifeless and brittle, but the grapes on the other side, while low yielding, display amazing intensity.”
Huh. Not at all what we were expecting.
She said: Lots of blackcurrant and cedar – and enough tannin to give it some backbone without making your mouth get all puckery.
He said: The wine didn’t really communicate to me – it was smooth and tasty, but nothing was really standing out. I really enjoyed it though.
She said: That often happens when wines age a bit, they soften and mellow.
He said: Yup, your tastes have to be more refined to analyze the subtleties that you find with aging wines.
She said: It could also be that the wine has 14.5% alcohol…
- d’Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2007, McLaren Vale, Australia
- 14.5% alcohol
- Drink 2015 to 2027, according to eRobertParker.com
- $49.95. LCBO #981183
PS: did you know that the LCBO uses the same number for a wine? So while ours was a 2007 wine, this number currently describes the 2009 version of the wine.
Checking inventory and maturity dates, we had to pull another bottle of this wine from out of the cellar. We still have 2 left out of 6 purchased from Opimian. We’ve already reviewed this wine but it’s worth reiterating how great a wine it is for the $17 investment. But the real fun is in purchasing a wine in enough quantities to revisit it once or more each year, evaluating it as it matures. And likely as we mature as well!
Bergerac is a wine region in south-west France, covering an area along the Dordogne river. Despite the region’s long, varied history, Bergerac wines often play second fiddle to the famous cuvees of Bordeaux, just to the west. Generally, wines from Bergerac are similar to Bordeaux wines, being a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and sometimes a bit of Malbec. Geographically, Bergerac is separated from Bordeaux by mostly administrative definitions, rather than terroir. What this sometimes means is that you can get some amazing wines with the wonderful attributes of Bordeaux, but at a fraction of the price.
She said: I get notes of leather and tobacco, and got some smokiness when I first stuck my nose in the glass. It’s got lots of tannins, but isn’t so overwhelming that I can’t enjoy it with finger foods, like cheese and crackers.
He said: Let’s go inside so we can actually smell and taste it. There’s too much breeze in the back garden to do it justice. Initially, I got smoke on the nose, and am getting some on the palate as well. Don’t often get black cherry which I’m tasting, It’s also quite smooth & velvety.
Generally, we both thought it was a very nice wine, especially for the price – the kind of wine you’d want to buy by the case, to have it on hand, or even take as a hostess gift. Seems like our opinion hasn’t really changed any since the last time we tried it.