We called it the “stinky store”, my sister and I. It was an early incarnation of a natural food store and I now recognize that our mother was way ahead of her time by purchasing the vast majority of our groceries there 30 years ago.
Once or twice per winter, I attempt to counter an exceptionally frigid evening with a monolithic red wine. Especially after a gelid trudge home from work or a mundane snow removal session, bombastic flavours that recount effortless ripeness or Mediterranean environs can make a great companion to a Trashmen record (Beach Boys if I’m feeling particularly deviant) or a Frankie Avalon movie. You might call this a pairing of “contrast”, and it works, but there’s another path…
Rioja, internationally considered the flagship of Spain's multitude of wine regions, is like many wine regions of the world - home to several interpretations of its famous juice. There are the truly traditional producers (such as Lopez de Heredia), alongside massive juggernauts advocating the old mantra of “Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva", and fiercely independent rebels railing against what could be called “Brand Rioja”.
As you may already know, the City of Calgary is discussing the launch of a pilot project which would allow the consumption of alcohol in designated sites within city parks. Public feedback is encouraged and you can voice your support or concerns here.
Early one morning about a week prior to Christmas, I pulled up to Metrovino with a van full wine that had just been liberated from our warehouse. With All Kindsa Girls by the Real Kids blasting from the van speakers, I began hoisting the cases up onto the loading dock - one of December’s delightfully Sisyphean acts.
The desire for revenge can be obsessive. I wonder if this has been important for survival over the course of our evolution; after all, our insatiable thirst for vengeance is still acute after millions of years of human development. Perhaps those with the capacity to avenge transgressions against them have proven to be better survivors.
Shadows flit over crimson damask like spectral ravens forlornly seeking purchase in limpid pools of blood. Despite its effulgence, my candelabra is a feeble agent against the illimitable dominion of gloom in my chamber. I say chamber, but rightfully it’s a tomb - and one whose oppressiveness acquiesces not to the influence of cheery iridescence, hyacinthine aromatics nor dulcet tones from the phonograph.
Death is an interesting concept. It’s something that most people try to avoid thinking about and is often viewed with terror. However, upon deeper contemplation, death makes all things more precious and valuable.
There's a cuckoo clock in my house and I’m fascinated by its mechanizations. Members of cultures to whom the cuckoo clock is consequential have claimed that the gadget is the soul of their home, but I don’t think I’d give it that much credit.
“Beaujolais is for drinking, more so than any other wine. The classic swirl, sniff, sip, swish and spit approach us pretentious wine "professionals" flaunt so regularly doesn't properly encapsulate the soul of the best Beaujolais. One must invoke the "gulp" or the "chug" technique to unveil the full beauty embedded within these captivating wines. And with price tags a fraction of their big brothers in northern Burgundy, this proper testing technique can be enjoyed while still making your mortgage payments.” - Jim
‘Neath an azure sky this Sunday past, mine wife-lady and I didst traveleth to yond sylvan parketh whose namesake recalls a prince forgotten. Seeking an aft’rnoon of living theatre, we satteth ourselves on inviting parcels of grasses lush and green to enjoyeth a p’rf’rmance of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Not a celebration of the (too-often) repeated Beatles song, but rather a statement of a reality.
Drew Noon of McLaren Vale, Australia, says it best when he unapologetically states “I make wine in a warm climate; I make big wines.” What he suggests as “big” are somewhat reflective of a classic Australian red wine. These attributes of ripe, plump body, rich berry flavours and sometimes considerable alcohol have become the subject of mockery by many (including myself - guilty as charged).
No doubt all of you have experienced the rather hot weather of late. Pleasant, by my standards, but warm for most I suppose. I understand that not everyone agrees with this caveat, as my internal thermostat begins somewhere around 25ºC. Therefore, this “heat” is personally, idyllic. Now, before you simply dismiss this piece as the inane ramblings of a lunatic muttering about the weather, please allow me the opportunity to see my analogy through to its completion.
We’re too narrow-minded in our sensorial discussion of wine. By “we” I mean wine professionals, amateurs and consumers of all types, but it’s mostly the fault of the pros because their lead is followed by everybody else. Descriptions and reviews of wine, whether written by the chief editor of Wine Spectator Magazine or a vainglorious Pittsburgh-based banker with a Vivino account, are almost always laughably fatuous, nauseatingly derivative or both. I’m no better, but I’m willing to explain the nature of this failure.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Calgary Zoo. I tend to go once per year to honour that our fine city has a good one. It was a perfect Tuesday afternoon of strolling and gawking, not yet swarming with summer crowds and warm, but not a scorcher.
If one year ago, an omniscient being told me how many meditation hours I would proceed to bank in the months to come, I would have called bullshit. I was a logical sceptic at heart, valued the scientific method as a basis for my beliefs and was totally allergic to any ritual or ceremony that could be considered “mystical”. However, much thanks to a particular author and podcaster, I slowly became open to the concept of meditation and was convinced enough to give it an honest shot.
Pink wine has never been more popular than it is right now, nor has it ever been so uniformly boring. Like any style of wine, modern insight into winemaking has rendered the best examples “better” than the category has ever seen, but even many of these reek of winemaking apathy and taken as a whole they are disconcertingly narrow in their stylistic spectrum.
One night last week, I awoke at 3:30 a.m. to the sound of my elderly dog maniacally running around downstairs. She’s good at letting us know when she needs to be let out in the night and I assumed that it was no more complicated than that. In fact, despite being quite deaf, she knew that there was a skunk in the yard and her previous altercations with those striped bastards hadn’t successfully dissuaded her from making conspicuous attempts on their lives.
Many of these are from vineyards whose wines outpriced First Growth Bordeaux 100 years ago!!! There’s big bottle options too and this is your chance to grab them at 20% off… Mix and match minimum 3 bottles to get the deals!!!
Hell - there’s volcanos on my mind, and I don’t usually spend much time on this geophysical phenomena (oh, sure I do - who can resist the allure of "liquid, hot magma"?). Current news of the devastation suffered by people in Hawaii is hard to not feel, as for anyone suffering a natural disaster. Volcanos are just another manifestation of the power of Nature, and we can only view it with awe as humbled humans faced with things that money, politics and faith have no power to change or prevent.
Terroir is a lovely French word that can be applied to wine, cheese, honey and other natural products when they demonstrate what wine-writer Matt Kramer aptly refers to as “a sense of somewhereness.” It should encompass a multiplicity of influencing factors of the product’s origin, even if when regarding wine it’s often exclusively if erroneously in reference to soil type.
Let’s get this out of the way; I love Spaceballs. I have seen it several hundred times, wearing out my BetaMax version while I commit to memory every gag and bit contained within its 90 minutes.
I tell you this somewhat jarring nugget of information not as an insight into a peculiar childhood obsession, but to emphasize a point about something I know very well. However, I still find something new every time I re-watch it.
Last night, Sticky and I attended a screening of Orsen Welles’ Touch of Evil which was stunning on the big screen. It’s a delight to watch a particularly corpulent Welles stumble about in this darkest of noir and the film precedes Psycho by two years as an example of how things can go south when Janet Leigh checks into a motel room. It was amidst this backdrop that we were unexpectedly mesmerized by an amazing backpack bottle of Mondeuse from André and Michel Quenard.
This idea struck last week when a co-worker and I were naming our favourite wines in the shop for a certain price point. Under $30, under $50, etc. As we contemplated the best rapport qualité prix, or best value for price wines in the shop, I started to realize how many of them I’ve personally stashed away.
As I smash these words into the keyboard, my dreams of springtime are shattered by legions of snowflakes that have long since lost their aesthetic appeal. Like me, readers who are denizens of Calgary probably have some justification for living here, but as this most oppressive of winters mercilessly perpetuates itself these reasons become increasingly elusive. (Unless you have a passion for snow removal… in which case you’re a pervert).
Road rage is a funny thing. Driving can be difficult and frustrating, but so can other activities such as filing taxes or housebreaking pets and these latter responsibilities rarely send otherwise level-headed people into a cataclysm of fury in the way that operating a motor vehicle can.
When is a “critter wine” not a “critter wine”? This widely used term often speaks of the bouncing image and name to be found on some mass-produced wines. Far from being a “critter wine”, the misleadingly named Perro Chico (Spanish for “little dog”) is actually named after a local variety of mushroom found in the region of Somontano. Not a dog to be found on the label (or in the bottle)!
There’s far too much going on in the world of Burgundy wines that leads the thoughts of a melancholic lover of those wines into deep, dark reflection. After 30 years in the wine trade, I tread the earthy pathways threaded through this region of storied vineyards with as much of a thrill as ever, but with a nagging sense of alienation that was not there before. Mud and memories cling fast to my boots, but I must admit that other musings now crowd this delicately beautiful landscape.