I am an agent of change

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In my teenage years, I had left wing political inclinations. Growing up in Venezuela, it became almost an ardent religious belief that I could change everything that was wrong in Venezuelan society. This was the 90’s in Latin America and it was in fashion to listen Fito Paez, Soda Stereo, Enanitos Verdes and Soda Stereo. Feeling nostalgic now, I remember with candor how me and my friends used to drink cheap rhum and read passages of Che Guevara:The Motorcycle Diaries.

As I grew older and entered young adulthood, this romantic idealism faded away. The reality of the world was based on money and social status. My grandfather used to tell me: You know how to change an Italian communist?. Give him a good job, nice clothes, a car and sexy woman. Honestly, I felt that alone could not fight the whole system and became part of the establishment….until not long ago when I left it with flying colours

Rebel once, rebel forever. I guess that this idealism is still with me today..it never went away. I do a job that I love, live a modest life and drink a fair amount of natural wine.

My wife once asked me: So if you like natural wine, are you against those that dont drink natural wine?. It’s not about a dogma or a principle war, its about a choice that I make.I favor natural, biological and biodynamic wines because they are good for me and strongly believe that I make a contribution to preserving the planet. I sttill review conventional or classical wines. Absotutely, I will favor those with the minimum footprint on the planet

My stand with natural wine makes me an agent of positive change. The bottles that I buy, my reviews and the impressions all help to protect the real culture of wine. Actually, I am voting with my buying dollar for a better and healthier wine world.

The greatest gift that natural wine has given me, it’s a voice to express my solidarity with those vignerons that craft beautiful bottles. A long time ago, someone told me that drinking wine is an act of humility and intimacy. The act of drinking a real wine is to peek into a secret window inside the mind the secret world of a winemaker.

I am a rebel at heart for the love of wine

Domaine La Grande Colline-Hirotake-Ooka

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Le Canon 2015

One of the most emblematic wines that I have ever tried in the past years came from this man: Hirotake Ooka. It sounds odd that a Japanese guy makes natural wine in the Rhone but it is one of the weird beautiful things of life. The wines of Hirotake are available in Quebec, Canada via Primavin.

Le Canon is a tasty blend of Grenache and Syrah. It has delicious taste of leafy blackfruit with a touch of animal funk and spice. Its spritzy in the palate and it keeps really well the next day if you dont finish the bottle. The wine is born out of a soil of mica and granite and the vines have an average age of 30 years young. No oak in this wine, just steel tank. Price is under $30 per bottle and it comes in a case of 12. This bottle comes from my private collection.

I am looking foward to try its Cornas, once it becomes available via Primavin.

 

Sebastien Riffault-Les Quarterons 2016

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This is the post of a modest wine lover who never was into Sancerre until the day he had a glass of Riffault

Generally speaking, Sancerre like Chablis are not wines that appeal to me. I can appreciate but they are very impersonal to me. They could be cold antipathic wines. I guess that I was drinking the wrong wines for many years. Not even a Sancerre from Mellot, a top producer in the appellation made my skin hair rise like the bottle of Riffault.

That’s the beauty of natural well made wine. It can break dogmas and make you see wine in a completely different optic.

They say that this way the way vignerons used to make Sancerre in the past. This wine is unique in all senses and reflect the strong opinions of the winemaker.

The nose is quite esoteric for the “real” Sancerres tasted and drank in the past. The bouquet had an enchanting taste reminiscent of passion fruit, mango with a touch of pineapple peel and even tamarind. In the palate, so fresh and delicious. It has a voloptous structure with an incredible mineral lingering finale. A beautiful wine that will go well with tuna or scallops or…

a simple meal of roasted chicken with pesto pasta and green beans.

I grabbed mine from a friend but you can get it through Vini-Vins if you live in Quebec. It retails for around $36. Highly Reccomend buy!!

Foradori Morei Teroldego 2017

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I like wines that reflect a terroir and mirror the nature where they are born. As my wine taste matures , I definitely want wines that reflect typicity rather than too much expertise of the winemaker

The wines of Foradori are not new to me. In a previous wine drinker life, I used to be a big fan of Granato, the flagship wine of Elisabetta. This super Northern Italian red took Teroldego to International wine stardom. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy Granato but nowadays prefer a fresher natural version of Teroldego.

Morei represents for me an evolution in the style of Elisabetta. This single Vineyard Teroldego submerges the drinker right away into an Alpine haze. Here, we are far away from the concentration and flashiness of Granato and into a finer expression of Teroldego

This Teroldego spends 8 months in amphorae for fermentation and aging. Definitely this method contributes for the vibrancy and energy of this Dolomite Rosso. It has an incredible perfume of fresh mountain herbs and scrub. A sense impression so powerful that it brought out childhood summer vacations to the Dolomites.

On the palate, the wine mirrors well the stony Terroir of Campo Rotaliano. Beautiful crunchy red fruit with a delicious acidity and incredible finesse. But above all, is the mesmerizing minerality that Morei display that fascinates me. This wine is the unquestionable proof that biodynamics works in the vineyard ( if you ever wondered)

Elisabetta join ranks with Arianna Occhipinti and Elena Pantaleoni in a group of female Italian winemakers that are charting a new direction for Italian wine in the 21st century

Teroldego Morei 2017 is available through private import by Oenopole ( $58, 6 pack case)

Methode Sauvage Pinot Noir 2017

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Just came back from a press trip and was delighted to drink this Californian Pinot Noir. I usually don’t drink Pinot from the Golden State. The selection at the SAQ is usually a showcase of wines heavily on steroids. Commercial Californian Pinot Noir is a tragic affair. In short: heavily oaked, rich in sugar and alcohol and with a dark colour. Am I drinking Syrah?. Not even, some of these so called “Pinots” are a monstrosity.

My wine buddy Philippe Morin, a great cognoscenti of wines bought a case and splitted with a small circle of friends. This is how I came to know the wines of Chad Hinds of Methode Sauvage.

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Chad is working with some serious pedigree vineyards in California and is crafting some of the most exciting wines from California. The grand vent vineyard is the coolest spot in Sonoma County and it shows when you taste the wine. The pinot has crunchy red fruit with lovely herbal and floral undertones. It has a beautiful acidity and lenght. Overall is poetic and almost sensual. Its creamy texture reveals its Californian origin and in a blind tasting, for sure it could pass for a Premier Cru Burgundy from a richer vintage.  Chad Pinot is just perfect.

I am very excited and looking foward to try his other wines. We are very lucky that in Quebec we can find his wines via La Regie, an upcoming Montreal wine importing agency. I am delirious to try his Rhone and Jura varietals. Cant remember, how much I paid but I think it was between $40-$50. In general, the pricing is good as well.

 

 

An intimate encounter with Jermann

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It does not happen often that I taste wines from any pioneer estate in Italy. So, when I heard that Jermann was coming to Montreal, I quickly jumped to the opportunity because they single handedly put Italian white wine on the map.

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The legacy of Jermann to the wine world is Vintage Tunina. This eclectic wine reflects the adventurous personality of its creator: Silvio Jermann. Vintage 1975 marks the debut of Tunina and quickly became a cult item.
Silvio wanted to make a blend that reflected the diversity of the Friulian territory yet with a modern outlook. In the past, the issue with Friulian whites was early oxidation, heaviness and high residual sugar. Jermann introduced revolutionary changes such as early picking and moderate oak aging that are represented in Vintage Tunina.
After all, the changes that Silvio introduced were only to preserve the biodiversity of the Friulian territory. Besides the special Ponca terroir, there are very special grapes such as Ribolla Gialla and Pignolo and of course Friuliano.

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It is without doubt that one of the benchmarks of the region are the wines of Jermann. There is only a handful of producers that I know that can craft wine as pure and elegant like this great Friulian producer Recently, I met Aloiz Felix Jermann for a comprehensive tasting of his family during his passage in Montreal. The invitation was a courtesy of his Quebec Importer Selections Frechette
Below my selection of my favorite wines

Tasting Notes:

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Pinot Grigio 2018 ( 6 pack case-$40.25, private import)

IGT Venezia Giulia, 100% Pinot Grigio
Very classic style with such an elegant nose. Aromas reminiscent of pear sorbet and flint with notes of blanched herbs as well complemented by a hint of honey and blossom water in the finale.

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Jermann Chardonnay 2018 ( 6 pack case-$43.75, private import)

IGT Venezia Giulia, 100% Chardonnay
Quite an aromatic nose. Church incense, with hints of lemon zest. On the palate, bright flavours with a creamy structure displaying a wonderful balance. Tight finale. Will need some aging in the cellars to open up.

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Vintage Tunina 2016. SAQ # 13475195, $99.75

IGT Venezia Giulia
Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia, Ribolla Gialla and a local sweet grape variety
Very savoury with pleasant notes of hay, honey and a hint of green pepper. Rich and creamy with generous fruit in the mid palate adding an extra layer of pleasure. One of the greatest ever Italian whites.
Vintage Tunina 2012. ( 6 pack case-$114.50, private import)

IGT Venezia Giulia
Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia, Ribolla Gialla and a local sweet grape variety
Green pepper character is very apparent with notes of passion fruit, guava and a hint of mocha as well Very elegant, with a prosperous life ahead in the cellar.

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Capo Martino 2012 ( 6 pack case-$139.25, private import)

IGT Venezia Giulia
Mostly friulano with hints of Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia Istriana and Picolit
Yellow prunes, bone white fruit, passion fruit. Elegant with a beautiful mineral expression. I love that bitter herb so characteristic of friulano. Still has that crispy finale despite being 7 years old.

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Where dreams have no end 2016 ( 6 pack case-$87.25, private import)

IGT Venezia Giulia
97 % Chardonnay, 3% Secret family grape recipe
Very spicy with a hint of fennel and chicory. Quite buttery and oaky as well. On the palate, creamy. The Friulian version of a great Burgundy
Where dreams have no end 2013 ( 6 pack case-$111.50, private import)

IGT Venezia Giulia
97% Chardonnay, 3% Secret family grape recipe
Toasty oak with nice buttery and ripe tropical fruit undertones. On the mouth, gentle and quite caressing.Long flowery finale.

An Alpine Pinot Noir

Jean Perrier Cuvée Gastronomie Pinot Noir 2018 SAQ # 00856997, $16.25

Generally speaking, Pinot Noir is not one of my favorite grapes. I can appreciate it and from time to time I will have it.

This Pinot from Savoie was really charming. The nose was really attractive with notes of black plums, cherry and Christmas cake spicy. On the palate, it was medium body, fruity and fresh with a juicy mouth feel. It was a natural partner with BBQ chicken breasts.

This is one of the rare wines that you feel proud to have discovered. Great buy and highly recommended it.

Going the extra mile as a wine writer

 

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The role of the wine writer may seem glamorous to some observers and the dream job of many. Who wouldn’t want to get wine for free, go to tastings or even participate in a press trip?. That’s the allure feedback that I get from many consumer acquaintances in my entourage.

In a certain way all of the above is very true. It is very pleasant to drink wine and dine in some of the finest restaurants when a producer comes to town. However, that’s the rosy part. If you’re a serious writer you are required to produce a professional report on the wines that you have tasted or a trip in some cases. It is not mandatory but it’s sort of an unwritten expectations in this business.

That’s the mandate of the role to say the least. Another way of seeing it, it is like preparing a school report or a project. If you care about what you are doing, you want to ace it and impress your professor. In this business, you will be also become a persona non grata very fast if you never write about the stuff that you receive or get invited.

That’s one dimension of the business. Another one less looked is the scope of wine reporting. It is common and quite understandable that some wine bloggers and wine journalists report only about the samples they get. Although, this is ok, it may be very limited coverage. The importers and producers that give free wine are those with usually large advertising budgets. If you want to write about a particular small producers, you have to buy the bottle with your own hard earned dollars.

This is what I call doing the extra mile or being invested. I totally understand that the stuff cost money but if you are really passionate about something, would you not do it? Every month, I spend hundreds of $$$ in wine to have access to the artisanal producers that nobody else talks about it in the mainstream media. At the beginning of my wine career I used to ask those importers for samples and keep hearing the same response: no budget. It took me a while to get over my frustration but finally understood that the small producers and their importers dont have budget to give away free wine. But still, they need to have a voice. Could you imagine if nobody would never talk about those wonderful natural or biological producers. It will be a very sad world.

But then again, there are those who get into this business to have the glamorous life and drink for free and those who are totally indepedent. Then you have people in the middle of the sandwich, like myself, who are able to talk about the small and commercial. I get samples now and then  but with the difference that I dont ask anymore. The rest of the wine expense comes out of my pocket. This is the spirit of independence that made Parker famous. Then again, I have a job and can pay myself for the wine. The difference is that I really love wine and sharing my passion with the rest of the word. However, I cant talk about everything that I love because otherwise, I would ruin myself.

The future of this business are for those who are self-financed and passionate about wine. The internet and social media have democratized wine information. In a future that is not too far away, there will no more paid magazines or newspaper with a wide readership. There wil be a sort of natural selection among wine writers. The world is yours if you can only invest yourself in the burning passion

Three wines that no mainstream wine  journalist is talking about. All paid with my humble salary:

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Domaine La Ferme Saint Martin Les Terres Jaunes 2017 $28.75 ( 12 pack case, Imported by Rezin in Quebec, Canada)

One of the best kept secrets of the Southern Rhone is the appellation of Beaumes-de-Venise and this is a jewel of a producer. Bio since 1998, this wine is not for the faint hearted. Plenty of leafy blackberry fruit with that elusive garrique-pencil shaving with breat taking yet noble tannins.

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Anne & Jean-François Ganevat Le Sa Vient d’Où ?. Available at the SAQ ( 14019351) for $54.50

To drink a Ganevat is a privilege and a mind altering experience. One of the luminaries of Jura and the natural wine world, this wine comes from the negoce of the winemaker. Bright and mind boggling aromas of white tea, pineapple water and truffle honey. Incredible purity, grace and precision in the palate. If you are not converted to natural wine, this bottle will do the job. Think about Arnold Layne by Pink Floyd

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Domaine de la Roche Bleue Le Clos des Molieres Sec 2016. Imported by Boires in Quebec, Canada for $61. Six pack case, I believe

I was never convinced until I tried this wine of Sebastien Cornille from Jasnieres in the Loire. A pure nose of chalk, acacia with a psychodelic trip into the realm of flowers.  Elegance, yet humility. Beautiful. When you drink it, think about the white rabbit song by Jefferson Airplane. “And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you’re going to fall, Tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call”

 

 

 

The perfect Rhone white blend for your lobster

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Château Pesquié Terrasses blanc 2017. SAQ #  13945265, $19.05

With Lobster season in full swing, here is the perfect opportunity to explore the white side of the Rhone Valley wines.

The Chaudière family has managed the vineyards of this estate for three generations. Only organic treatments and composts are used for the grapes. Weed management  is done by working  the soil, and harvesting is exclusively manual. There are three main terroirs on the property: rocky limestone clay, red clay and loamy gray clay. They grow Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Roussanne, Clairette, Viognier, Chardonnay and Muscat

A sure  solid value in the SAQ, the terrases  blanc from Pesquié is an bright, aromatic blend of Viognier, Rousanne and Clairette. Hailing from Mont Ventoux, this white will seduce you with its bright undertones of verbena, lemon meyer, apricot and honey. Fresh and round with a creamy mouthfeel and a smooth acidity, it is perfectly suited for your lobster weekday meals, specially if they are grilled!!

Disclaimer: Sample provided by the agent for review purposes

 

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Bon appetit!!

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Source: Food Republic

The new conspicuous wine buying arrogance

Hey you, glad you have stopped by to read my musings or like we say in Venezuelan Spanish: pendejadas!!

Here I am killing some time while they replace my car tires, or between baking and at the dance course of my daughter.It is the only time that I can write in peace. If I am not taking bread that will urgently be overcooked, I am attending to my highly extroverted 5 year old daughter. Oufff…just when I think I will some peaceful moments then I have to tend to some wife issue!!. This is my life: the tragic comedy of a baker with wine writing aspirations.

Why I am writing this post?. I am trying to answer a question posed to myself. What would I buy, if I had a $1million a month.

Wine has never been stranger to conspicuous consumption. This is one of the less looker reasons wine regions created classification systems: to make you feel better when you buy a product of a certain prestige.

The new conspicuous wine consumption is based on substitute products ( wine). Here I am thinking of the business model of Michael Porter. To put it plain, if you can’t afford a very expensive wine go for the second best.

In the past early internet days or bull markets of the 90’s, classified Bordeaux growths and Burgundy Grand Cru were bought with a blink of the eye. These were the times I learnt about wine. I remember fondly buying my first Massetos in those early times where the banking industry was not highly regulated. The trophies needed to demonstrate your wealth

A lot of classical wine drinkers stopped drinking their favorite Bordeaux’s and Barolo’s because simply they did not have the cash anymore to afford it. This happened shortly after the tech and banking crisis of the early 2000’s. There is also the factor of increased demand from emerging markets such as Asia and certain Latin America countries.

So now a lot of these classical wine drinkers drink now certain artisanal wines ( natural) to feel better about themselves. This “feel good” feeling has been fueled by the artsy wine guerrilla. They are drinking now wines between $20-$30. But wait..it won’t work because unless is not endorsed by certain public personalities. And you know what the kicker is…the wines are getting quite expensive. Your new wine importer is like a crack dealer.

It makes me think of the glorified new Gamay drinkers. Don’t tell me about terroir or natural vinification technique. Tell me the truth. Can’t drink anymore authentic Burgundy Grand Cru so now I can only drink a chinese copy of DRC.

So what would I drink with a $1 million a month: Only First Growth Classified Bordeaux

Ciao!!

How to identify the hipster wine consumer

They lurk sometimes around you. If you are lucky, you can spot them in your friendly SAQ outlet buying that rare orange or natural wine. However, this is not their preferred habitat. They buy mostly privately and hang out with the hottest sommeliers in the latest artsy restaurants

My non wine friends asked me about these new wine consumers. I made up a sketchy point list of features. Maybe you can add a few more to complete the list.

-They love wines with high volatile acidity. It has to be slightly deviant at the least to be attractive

-They are attracted to rare and obscure grapes. For instance, they love the occult Italian grapes from Piedmont, Tuscany and Sicily.

-Adverse to the classical European wine regions. Allergic to Bordeaux, Classical Rioja and can go in shock in the presence of Super Tuscans.

– They all share a fascination with wine domaines that years ago where not in fashion but only known to wine connoisseurs

-They can’t tolerate oak and only swear by stainless steel in their wines, mostly

Now some demographics and sociological factors:

-Yuppie or moneyed professionals. These are the lawyers, bankers or business marketing people or IT people. They are making at least a 6 figure salary.

-Between their 30 and mid 40’s

-They love to eat in artsy restaurants with china from another time and small portions

-They live mostly in trendy neighborhoods and disdain the suburbs

I like them and they bring diversity to the wine world. Hope you liked this post. I did it while my daughter was in dance class

Cheers!!