Wednesday, May 2, 2012

From my Cellar - 2005 Cossetti Barbera d'Asti La Vigna Vecchia

2005 Cossetti Barbera d'Asti La Vigna Vecchia (Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Barbera d'Ast)

90 Points (out of 100)

What an amazing surprise.  This bottle of Northern Italian wine has evolved beautifully.  It is now perfectly balanced with just the right amount aftertaste.  After 3 years in my cellar and 7 years of age in the bottle, I was a little sceptical since it was reported to be a medium bodied wine.  Upon popping the cork and taking my first breath in through my nose, I knew I had a winner.  The smell was wonderful.  The flavours were subdued with a hint of mocha and cherry.  I wish I had more of this elegant wine.  I will be looking for more from this producer.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jett Valentine - no album (yet), no label (yet) - Paired with Bodegas Solar de Urbezo

 Jett Valentine - "your lipstick tastes so damn amazing, I was doing so well"

After hearing Jett Valentine's tunes on My Space (check it out) and The Burning Ear, I discovered an immediate pairing with Bodegas Solar de Urbezo - 2005

Jett’s high register vocals don’t match that photo nearly as much as they match his particular brand of upbeat piano-pop. This Londoner is pretty new on the scene but is already making waves and getting blog love . It’s no surprise why. In “Outlaws” (CLICK ON SONG TO PLAY) Jett laments slipping into old habits with an old girlfriend but the tone of the song betrays a tinge of joy in the mistake. Whatever the topic, Jett approaches it with with the kind of style and goofiness that match that photo perfectly. We’re waiting for more big things, man.

Review from Brandon @ The Burning Ear

Take a listen and a drink and tell me what you think!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It Was The Label That Got me - 2005 Bodegas Solar de Urbezo

Hello readers and thank you for stopping by. 

I have been on a bit of a Spanish kick the past few years and the 2005 vintage of various regions of Spain has been spectacular.  If you find one, buy it.  I think you will be greatly rewarded with 5 years of aging. 

A few years ago, I purchased a 2005 Bodegas Solar de Urbezo Cariñena Urbezo Crianza at the Liquor Store.  It was the design on the bottle that caught my eye.  The label was a piece of artwork (see footnote).  It was beautiful to look at, so in my mind I thought the wine had to be as beautiful as the cover.

2005 Bodegas Solar de Urbezo Cariñena Urbezo Crianza
The Review
My rating is 90 out of 100

I cellared this bottle for a little over 2 years and just recently came across it.  I guess it was fate, so I decided to pop the cork.

This is a blended wine composed of 40% Tempranillo (traditional variety),
30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 10% Syrah.

In the glass, this wine was dark purple.  The colour of wine that was beginning to show some age.  The legs on this rich blend were long and there was a bit of an overpowering aroma of alcohol.  After a 30 minute decant, the alcohol dissipated and left behind the smell of rich grapes. 

I poured this wine through my Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator to speed up the aeration process.  It worked and after a bit more time in my glass, this wine really began to smell delicious.  In my mouth, I felt a bit of sharpness at the back end of my gulp.  Once again, that dissipated with a longer decant.

The wine’s more prominent flavors were a touch of toasted oak along with ripe dark berries.  Some hints of smoke and vanilla were also present.  This was a really nice wine that needed at least an hour or two to breath.  The older a wine gets, them more air she needs.

I wish I had more, so my hunt begins…

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vampire Weekend - Paired with The Stump Jump 2008

 Vampire Weekend's second album was doomed for criticism from the start. As the only band to ever grace the cover of SPIN magazine before releasing an album, Vampire Weekend gained a great deal of press as the best new band around. Their beach worthy tunes for the collegiate elite took the world by storm and the little party band that originated from Columbia University soon had an album on XL Records.

If there's one word that Vampire Weekend clearly holds dear, it's "unique." Their first album introduced a sound all their own and although Contra sees the band exploring the depths of the human ear with far more elaborate frequency landscapes, the distinctive Vampire Weekend resonance remains intact. Ezra Koenig's vocals are distinctive and sound nearly identically produced to their debut while everything around him changes.

It doesn't take long for Vampire Weekend to introduce their newfound complexity. The lead single, "Horchata," begins with a simplistic and instantly catchy verse, but quickly dives into a sea of percussion, rhythmic electronics, and vocal harmonies. On "California English," the all too overused Auto-Tune program becomes just another tasteful and appropriate instrument for the band to exploit. The entire album plays as a perfectly calculated blend of their original sound and a new direction making them easily recognizable, but giving their fans something special instead of more of the same.

Contra is not the instant classic their debut was, but if Vampire Weekend had just taken the safe road and released another album exactly like their self-titled debut, which I'm sure would have been possible for them, the result would have ultimately been boring and Vampire Weekend would have been dismissed as an old dog. Instead, Vampire Weekend is here to stay and I have no doubt they will continue to develop their unique style as the years go by.

So if you have never heard of Vampire Weekend, take a listen and share the experience with a glass of The Stump Jump 2008.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

2008 The Stump Jump Red - No Food Required

OK, I get it!


To get back on track, lets start with an Aussie Red that is easy on the pocket book and vibrant in the mouth.

D’Arenberg is wonderful winery located in the infamous Mclaren Vale of Southern Australia. The winery has a long history that began in the early 1900’s. Most of the wines from d'Arenberg are in the mid-priced range with some vintages fetching 100’s of dollars. This review is of their younger sibling.

The wine I will be writing about today is in the lower end of the price spectrum, but on the upper end of the taste scale.

The Stump Jump Red 2008
($14.95 at the LCBO, $10.00 in the US)

The Review
My rating is 88 out of 100

The name “Stump Jump” is derived from an Australian invention – the Stump Jump plough. This plough was adopted worldwide because it was able to ride over stumps and roots saving the farmer lots of frustration. It was a huge hit in late 19th Century.

As the name “Red” implies it is blend of 3 grapes, Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre (Rhone blend).

In the glass, this wine had a dark purple hue with a touch of red. It was a bit shocking to me, that the nose was not as big as I would have expected for a wine of this blend and this colour (never judge a book by it’s cover).

My first glass was consumed right away. I would pin this wine a medium bodied red with a small nose. The initial taste was sweet with a hint of tart. I also detected some saddle leather and a touch of oak (just the right amount).

As with most wines, it definitely got better with a bit of air. This wine greatly improved after a 2 hour decant. At first I would have rated this wine as an 86, but with the right amount of air, it jumped up to an 88. It became more balanced and the tannins mellowed a bit.

If you are looking for a good medium bodied wine that does not have to be consumed with food (i.e. just a drink in the evening), check this one out. All I would suggest you do is listen to some music while drinking this Aussie Red.

Good value and easy drinking. Try it!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!! Enjoy your dinner and wine!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2007 Papa Luna - A Wonderful Spanish Blend

I said I would start writing again, so here we go. Once again, I am sorry for taking so long, life sometimes gets in the way. I had to stop writing, but I did not stop drinking.

To begin the winter season, I want to introduce you to a really nice full bodied Spanish Red. I am big on Spain right now.

Papa Luna 2007 produced by Norrel Robertson in Calatayud Spain (LCBO price is $16.95 - LCBO 39883).

The Review
My Rating is 89 out of 100

This wine was a huge hit a few years ago. This vintage is an unfiltered red blend of 70% Granacha, 25% Shiraz and 5% Mazuela Y Monastrell. Upon opening the bottle a beautiful aroma of dried fruit emerged. In the glass, this wine was a dark purple and just begged to be drunk. After an hour decant, all the complex flavors began to blend into a really nice full bodied red wine. Hints of dried fruit, dark berries and a touch of oak was apparent to me. The finish was really nice and the acidity was on the low side.

This young wine needs some time to breath before it is drunk and can be stored in your cellar for a few more years. Drink now or hold, either way you will enjoy this well priced Spanish Red.

Music Review to come….

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I have to begin by apologizing to everybody for taking most of the summer off. Between filming all summer long for Rush HD and a crazy time with the family, I did not have much time to review and write.

I will begin again and start bringing you the best in Music and Wines. Stay Tuned!


Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir - 2003

I was saving this bottle for a special occasion. Upon decanting this vintage, I knew it was going to be a good one. I also knew it would need to sit for at least an hour before it would show it's true colours. I did try a bit right out of the bottle and it was STRONG and Tangy (not drinkable). After 30 minutes this wine began to transform into a work of art. After 1 hour in the glass, this wine took on a life of it's own. It was re-born into a glorious Pinot Noir. Perfectly balanced, with hints of smoke, rich berries a touch oak. It became so smooth and silky it almost melted in your mouth. This was one bottle I wish I had more of. I would suggest drinking it very soon as I don't think it will age much more. Enjoy, you are in for a serious treat if you have a bottle. Don't forget, avoid temptation and let it sit for at least an hour. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another New Zealand Gem - Mt. Difficulty Pinot Gris Central Otago 2008

Mt. Difficulty Pinot Gris Central Otago 2008

As summer time ramps up, finding time to write has been harder and harder. I will try not to leave you in the dark over the summer months.

I want to introduce you to another wine from New Zealand. In my search for unique and affordable wines, I stumbled upon a Pinot Gris from a winery called Mt. Difficulty.

I love wines that come from challenging terrains. The harder it is to grow the grape, the better it tastes. Vines thrive on some drought, rough soils and inclines. Mt. Difficulty is located in the Central Otago region of New Zealand. The winery states that they are situated in “a unique and rare area of extremes”. Now let’s taste the wine…

The Review
My Rating is 89 out of 100

This is not your average Pinot Gris so don’t expect it to taste like a Pinot Grigio from Italy. In the glass, this wine had a crystal clear yellow hue. There were nice aromas of mild fruit. In my mouth, I found this wine to be much dryer than the typical Pinot Gris. There were a lot of crisp fruit flavors (citrus fruit and peach) without being too intense. The end had a bit of bitterness. This wine should be drunk now and better enjoyed with food. Perfect for summer lunches and mid day getaways.

I also highly recommend their Pinot Noir; one of my new Kiwi favorites.

Music review and pairing to follow…

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

MUSIC REVIEW - Empire Of The Sun - Pair with Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah Hawke’s Bay 2007

This is the first album by Empire of the Sun, a side project for Luke Steele of The Sleepy Jackson and Nick Littlemore of Pnau. Since both bands appear to be popular in Australia and not in America, I had never heard of them.

Walking On A Dream (click here to play)is a strange mix of 80's new wave with modern funk and neo-new wave tendencies. They get compared to MGMT, but actually I think about Prince, Duran Duran, Roxy Music and Pet Shop Boys rolled into one with a dash of 1980's Genesis.

There are key tracks here like Standing On The Shore (click here to play), We Are The People (click here to play)and Swordfish Hotkiss Night (click here to play).

This makes for a mixed album. Neither great nor awful, just average. Still, if the duo continue one with another album, things could get more interesting. They could refine their sound, and make things more compelling. The other reason for my average rating is that this type of music is not new to me. I like this genre, but there are other artists who have mastered this type of music. These two are still feeling their way around, and while their debut is solid, it's not quite the best they can do.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Red Bull Air Race World Championshp in Canada

I am sorry for the music review delay, but I have been away covering one of the greatest shows on earth. Take a look at the Red Bull Air Race World Championship held this past weekend in Windsor, Ontario.

Click Play on the video:

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Secret From New Zealand - Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah Hawke’s Bay 2007

New Zealand is known for a lot of things, like adventure sports, kiwis, lamb and Sauvignon Blanc. That is why I am not going to write about that varietal. Having attended the New Zealand Wine Fair a few weeks ago, I discovered some amazing wines that will hopefully be showing up on shelves around the world. My first review is of a Syrah…

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah Hawke’s Bay 2007

Villa Maria Estate
has been a staple winery in New Zealand since 1961. It is a family run shop that has been producing award winning wines for the world to enjoy, including the Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah Hawke’s Bay 2007. I will admit, this was my first experience with this winery, but I can tell you it will not be my last.

The Review
My Rating is 90 out of 100

I was really excited to try a Syrah from New Zealand after all the Sauvignon Blanc I had tasted. In the glass, this wine was dark purple and had nice legs. The nose was rich with a touch of alcohol. This Syrah was smooth, with light tannins, a bit more reminiscent of an old world Syrah. I enjoyed tastes of ripe berries and just the right amount of oak. Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah Hawke’s Bay 2007 is a young wine that will age really well over the next few years. Next time you think of a Syrah, think of a New Zealand Syrah.

Judged the best Syrah at New Zealand’s Royal Easter Show Wine.

Music review to follow…

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fun Music - Friendly Fires debut album - Pair with 2007 Beringer Founder's Estate Chardonnay

My Music Rating is 3.9 out of 5

You may have noticed that I like music that is fun. Now to continue with that theme, I would like to introduce you to Friendly Fires.

The Friendly Fires self-titled debut album is a lot of fun. The sound is UK in nature and has a lot of 80's influence, with a bit of electronic and rock music. This album is upbeat which makes it flow really well. I wouldn't say that the album is innovative, but their ability to write a catchy chorus on most songs is astounding.

A good sampling and my favorite tunes of Friendly Fires, begins with the first track on the album, Jump In The Pool (click song to listen). That song should make you want to listen more, so take a listen to Paris. One final sample from Friendly Fires is Lovesick. This track is a bit different but still has a very catchy chorus that you will be singing for hours on end. Enjoy Friendly Fires with a cold glass of 2007 Beringer Founder’s Estate Chardonnay.