Ask Chuck

Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Friday, July 31, 2020

These Wines Deserve A Place In Your Cellar!

In my association with a number of wine agencies and wineries I come across some superb wines that deserves mention. Some are available at local outlets but others are not. Yet they all deserve to be recognized.

James Bryant Hill Pinot Noir  100% PN        Central Coast California     $17.00    95/100 pts
Colour: Clear, no debris. Bright red
Nose:  Strawberry, raspberry, some cedar, delicate vanilla notes
Palate: Medium bodied, pleasant mouthfeel, mix of red fruit, soft tannin with refreshing acidity and almost perfect balance.
Comments: Score based strictly on price per quality ratio. A truly nice wine that would complement a variety of meats such as duck, game but also would be a super wine with baked salmon. Loved it at the above price! Agents: The Case for Wine

Toro Centenario     100% Malbec     Mendoza, Argentina     LCBO # 12452  $9.60  88/100 pts  
Colour: Dark red, clear with no debris
Nose: Black cherry, plum with earth, forest floor and burning leaves
Palate: Full bodied, smooth, easy tannin with super mouthfeel. Pleasant finish.
Comments: A super wine based on price! Ready to drink on its own or with grilled meat.
Agents: Unique Wine and Spirits  

Orofino Red Bridge   42% Merlot, 40 % Cab Sauve, 18% Syrah   Similkameen Valley BC,  $21.65  
92/100 pts
Colour: Deep red, clear and no debris
Nose: Black Cherry, plum, hints of chocolate, vanilla and anise
Palate: Full bodied with herbal/forest nuances, smooth and luscious with a finish that never seems to end!
Comments: From a winery that believes in minimal interference and wild yeasts. This is a very pleasing wine that gives and gives. The wine is worth every penny and will improve for another decade! However, it may be hard to wait that long to have with grilled meat, roasts and game!
Direct from Orofino Winery

Orofino Syrah  100% Syrah   Similkameen Valley, BC.  $25.13   93/100 pts
Colour: Garnet, clear with no debris
Nose: Dark fruit, herbal features, savoury, vanilla spice, beef stew, pepper
Palate: Smooth, silky wine with medium plus body, nice forward tannin and red fruit. Balanced with a finish that lasts and lasts. Beautiful wine with a reasonable price and quality.
Direct from Orofino Winery

Errazuriz Aconcagua Alto Cabernet Sauvignon   Chile  Vintages #203364  $21.95  90/100 pts
Colour: Garnet red, clear and no debris
Nose: Ripe dark fruit, tobacco, herbal and vanilla spice with violet notes
Palate: Medium plus, elegant with nice mouthfeel and strong, yet smooth tannin. Great finish.
Comments: From a winery that is almost 150 years old. Wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (88%) with Petit Verdot (7%) and Cab Franc (5%).  Roast Beef, steak and Pork Chops.
Agent: Philippe Dandurand Wines   

Basalto Vinho Tinto  Pico Island, Azores (Portugal)      $15                   83/100 pts
Colour: Brilliant red, clear, no debris
Nose: Floral rose, cherry, red currants
Palate: Light to Medium body, dry with medium tannin and  refreshing acidity
Comments: Nice light summer drinking. Good with variety of foods such as beef and cold cuts but also has the acid base to go with oily fish dishes and some sea food. 
Direct from Azores at Cooperativa Vitvinicola da Ilha do Pico   




Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Smiles Are On This Wine

If ever a wine was made with a younger and/or more technical demographic in mind it is the next group of wines that I will be introducing you to. SMILEY Wines from the regions of Gascony and Bordeaux, France is the product of the Chateau de l'Orangerie located in Saint Felix de Foncaude within Entre-Deux-Mers. Chateau owners, the Icard family, and the family of SMILEY brand (smiling face) trade mark owner Franklin Loufrani got together to add the very familiar smiling face to bottles of wine.
Loufrani registered the trade mark in 1972 and the Smiley Company has gone on to be a multi-million dollar company with trademarks all over the globe in many countries. The collaboration of both companies has culminated in the phrase on the Smiley Wines/Chateau-Orangerie website.
"Smiley Wines: A Glassful of Happiness"!

Smiley Chardonnay    100 % Chardonnay               $16.95                      94/100 points
SMILEY Wines - Chardonnay
Colour: Clear, brilliant, straw coloured
Nose: Citrus-apple, vanilla, nuts, tropical fruit
Palate: Medium body, smooth and luscious, citrus, well balanced with nice acidity
Comments: A truly nice Chardonnay wine that certainly pleases via quality/price ratio . Grilled veggies or nice on its own. 

Smiley Sauvignon Blanc      100% Sauvignon Blanc        $16.95                92/100 points

SMILEY Wines - Sauvignon Blanc

Colour: Very pale yellow ---almost no colour. No debris, very clear
Nose: Herbal, gooseberry, white fruit, floral
Palate: Light body, round with nice mouthfeel, well balanced
Comments: Nice wine with good price/quality ratio Seafood! 

Smiley Cabernet Sauvignon   100% Cabernet Sauvignon       $16.95        93/100 Points
SMILEY Wines - Cabernet-Sauvignon
Colour: Dark red, clear and no debris
Nose: Dark fruit, cassis, mint, red fruit as it evolves, spice
Palate: Full bodied, California sweetness (11.5 grams sugar), elegant and warm. Great finish! 
Comments: Definitely a good barbeque choice with burgers, steak or other grilled fare!

Smiley Merlot          100% Merlot                     $16.95                           93/100 points

SMILEY Wines - Merlot

Colour: Dark red, clear with no debris
Nose: Red and dark fruit, vanilla spice, smoke
Palate: Med/dry, full body, elegant with nice velvet mouthfeel, supple with sweet finish
Comments: Taste covers wide range of foods. I would have it with Romano or Parmigiano cheese, or with Portuguese Tapas or even a Mediterranean mixed platter of fish, ham, pastrami etc.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

New Wines Represent Fine Quality/Price Ratio

Several New wines have come my way and represent fine value. I have included the name of each country and its producer/wine importer 

Basileus Shiraz
Country: Australia
Vintage: 2018
Region: Barossa Valley
Grape Variety: Shiraz                    $21.95                      94.5/100 points
Colour: Very Dark Red, clear with no particles
Nose: Ripe dark fruit such as blue berry and black berry, refined vanilla spice, pepper notes with meat flavours such as bacon and spiced beef.
Palate: Full bodied with big tannin structure, muscular yet has elegance.   
Comments: A truly nice food wine that will complement meat dishes and game. The price is reasonable. Barossa with its very old vines produces some true benchmark wine.  
Wine Company: Angove Family Winemakers
Wine Importer: The Case For Wine 
Dalva Branco Douro 2018         $12.95                        93 points/100
Country: Portugal
Region: Douro
Grape Variety:            Viosinho, Malvasia Fina, Codega
Colour: Light yellow, brilliant and clear
Nose: Floral, mango, passion fruit, banana, citrus
Palate: Light bodied, pleasant and lingering with ripe fruit/light refreshing acid finish.
Comments: Interesting light wine that would be a super aperitif. Great for seafood.
Wine Agency: The Case for Wine
Producer: C. da Silva not to be confused with Casa Silva of Chile.

Dalva  Tinto Douro 2016     $12.95                             92/100 points
Country:  Portugal  
Region: Douro
Grape Variety:    Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinto Roriz (Tempranillo)
Nose: Ripe red berries, pepper spice, fig, vanilla wood
Palate: Full bodied with good balance/integration with nice lasting finish
Comments: Capable for aging at least three more years if not more. The wine is capable of complementing meat dishes and stews. Nice price/quality ratio.  
Wine Agency: The Case For Wine
Producer: C. da Silva (not to be confused with Casa Silva of Chile)

Name: Domaine La Decelle  Valreas 2017 (Reserve)        $17:00         Vintages #14391                                          94.5/100 Points 
Country: France
Region: Cote du Rhone Villages Valreas
Grape Variety: 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah
Colour: Dark red, clear, no debris 
Nose: Wine is young and somewhat closed but exposure to air evolves into dark fruit such as blackberry, plum, black raspberry with notes of vanilla, pepper spice, burnt leaves/cigar
Palate: Full bodied with excellent mouth feel, silky smooth with elegant tannin structure. Integrated and balanced. Dark and red fruit with a bitter almond finish that persists. Very nice wine
Comments:  From a region where wine making goes back hundreds of years and sparked an interest from the Pope in the 14th Century. It lies in the heart of the Enclaves de Papes (Valreas is only some 49 minutes away from Châteauneuf du Pape and 62 minutes from Avignon). The vines are old and bear concentrated fruit as is evident in this wine.  While lovely to drink now, this wine will certainly improve with three to six years of ageing if one can keep his/her hands off it! An amazing wine at the above price!  
Agency: Marchands des Ameriques
Producer: Frederic Lavau  

Monteci Roveiago Rosso
Country: Italy
Region: Veneto (Verona)
Grape Variety:    Corvina, Rondinella, Merlot                                93/100 points
Colour: Red, clear almost brilliant with no debris
Nose: Ripe red fruit,  floral rose, vegetal nuances
Palate: Medium Body, clean and fresh taste, round with pleasant soft finish.
Comment: Pleasant drinking with pizza, grilled meat and cold cuts.
Agency: The Case For Wine
Producer: Family Monteci
Monteci Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2016                          94/100 points 
Country: Italy
Region: Veneto (Valpolicella)
Grape Variety:  Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Osleleta 
Colour: Dark red, clear and no debris
Nose: Dark fruit, vanilla wood, caramel, licorice, earth, floral violets
Palate: Full bodied, firm tannin, powerful but balanced, long lingering finish
Comments: Stainless steel fermented then 24 months in second hand barriques and 24 months in oak barrels.

 A rich wine with flavour filled stews, game, beef.  Great quality/price ratio. 
Agency: The Case for Wine 
Producer: Family Monteci

Monday, July 6, 2020

Casa Silva Makes Some Fine Wine

Valle de Colchagua
The Colchagua Valley  occupies the southern part of Rapel Valley, running from the Andes in the east to the Coastal Range in the west. Colchagua has a cool Mediterranean Climate  with 592 mm  rainfall, and soils of clay, sand and decomposed granite. 

Casa de Silva Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc  2020             $19.95                    94 points/100
Colour: Brilliant Lemon Yellow, clear, no debris
Nose: Herbal grass, tropical fruit (pineapple), citrus lemon, straw
Palate: Dry, grape fruit, some citrus peel. Medium body, nice balance and mouthfeel. Pleasant, refreshing finish.
Comments: Clearly a super wine for food such as fish, oysters, shrimp and salads, light meat. Also super for summer sipping.

Casa Silva Reserva Cuvee Colchagua   Chardonnay        $14.95                     93/100 points
Colour: Brilliant golden  lemon, clear and no debris 
Nose: Citrus with some herbal notes, peach, vanilla, smoke
palate: round, mellow, soft with medium body and creamy texture. Vanilla on finish with a nice pucker of acidity.
Comments: Nice sipping wine but also fine with a variety of foods. Comes from hand picked and hand sorted bunches at CS's own estates. 20 % aged for 4 months in French Oak and 80% aged in stainless steel tanks. Power for most meats and ideal for sea food/fowl.

Casa Silva Reserve Cuvee Colchagua Sauvignon Blanc    $14.95                    93/100 points
Colour:  Lemon yellow, clear, brilliant with no debris
Nose; Herbal spice, tropical fruit, yellow berry, vanilla (even though no wood).
Palate: Round  medium bodied, pleasant refreshing mouth feel, Lingering refreshing finish.
Comments: From very old vines, hand picked and sorted. Vanilla on nose may be from being left on lees.

Casa Silva  Gran Terroir de Los Andes Cabernet Sauvignon    $19.95           91/100 points
Colour: Dark red, no debris 
Nose: Mixture of red (initial) and dark fruit. Chocolate, mint, cigar and pepper nuances
Palate: Full bodied, soft in mouth feel, but strong tannin, round and balanced, powerful.
Comments: From the special sections of Los Lingues Vineyards, very old vines. Hand selected and sorted. Malolactic fermentation in French oak.80% aged 12 months in French Oak  and 20% in stainless steel tanks. Can age! Great with game/beef.

Casa Silva Gran Terroir de la Costa Syrah                          $19.95                   93.5/100 points
Colour: Deep red, clear, no debris
Nose: Black cherry, raspberry, chocolate, smoke, pepper spice
Palate: Ripe black fruit, vanilla, caramel, mocha with beautiful tannin and long finish. Full bodied.
Comments: A wine to keep in mind with a firm future ahead of it..Serious stuff. Hand picked and sorted from the Lolol Estate, it is 90% aged in New French oak for 12 months as well as having full Malolactic fermentation in French Oak. 10% of it is stainless steel tanks. At that price-----get a case and put away for at least two years but --------! Food wine exceptional for the best aged meats, game, rabbit etc.

Casa Silva Gran Terroir de Los Andes                             $19.95                      94.5/100 points  
Colour:  Dark red, clear with no debris
Nose: Mixture of red and dark fruit, with "forest floor" nuances, vanilla, burnt leaves
Palate: Full in body, dark fruit (black berry, plum) with soft tannin and round, balance. Long finish
Comments: Los Lingues Estate, Hand picked/sorted. Well made and powerful. 12 months 85% French oak aged and 15% stainless steel  Once again: Malolactic in French oak barrels.  Capable of working with many curried dishes as well as beef, game and fowl.  



Friday, July 3, 2020

Viva Espana: Part 3

Part Three of the Spanish Wine entry provides even more choices of superb Spanish wine available.

Image result for la duna wine
Bodegas Vega Moragona "La Duna"         Tempranillo         $14.95                        90/100 points
Colour: Red, clear
Nose: Red fruit, licorice, vanilla, coffee
Palate: Full bodied, nice feel in mouth. Persistent finish.
Comment: 40 year old single vineyard in Riberea del Jucar region. Castilla La Mancha Co-op.

Liberalia                                    Tempranillo                             $31.95                      93/100 points
Colour: Dark Red, clear
Nose: Dark fruit, pepper spice, violets, licorice
Palate: Concentrated, tannin, full bodied with dark fruit and anise. Long finish.
Comments: A truly exceptional wine that can develop over the next five year
Biftu Bobal                      Bobal                                                   $11.95            91/100 points
Colour: Very Dark Red, no debris
Nose: Floral, herbal, plum, black cherry, blackberry
Palate: Full bodied, tannic, nicely balanced with long finish
Comments: From the Province of Valencia, Spain and the region of Utiel Requena. Vines are 50 plus years old and resistant to Phylloxera. Aged in European barrels for five months (French/Hungarian Oak). Nice price. Try with Lamb, spare ribs, steak!

Image result for Benedictum 111 wine
Benedictum 111             Tempranillo                                                 $22.95        94/100 points
Colour: Red, clear, no debris
Nose: Earth, vanilla, dark fruit, wood oak, sweet spices
Palate: Full bodied, nice tannin, fruit and spice on finish. Lengthy finish.
Comments: Rich and intense with nice balance and well rounded wine. Nice wine and excellent meat wine. From Ribera Del Duero region. 50 year old vines.

Lagravera  Natural  2017            Grenache                                                                    94/100 points
Colour: Red with dark edges
Nose: Floral nose with red fruit and evolving bouquet
Palate: Fresh with medium body and lengthy finish with raspberry and anise.
Comments: Completely natural wine with spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts. No additives used in preservation. From a superb winery using biodynamic technics. Aged 8 months on Lees.  Certified. 
Food:  Pork Roast, Roast Chicken or Evening Salad Mix.