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Category Archives: Cabernet Franc

TSB Wine Tasting Event at Cava Veinte33

Four Mexican Wines.  Known for blending varietals in somewhat unorthodox ways.  Thus spake Demian. (Zarathustra being unavailable and generally unwilling to conduct wine tastings.  He’s such a pill.)  There were ten of us in total at Cava Veinte33 this past Saturday at one-thirty.  So proud, were we, to convince eight friends to join us for wine in the early afternoon.

And this is what we tasted:

Wine: Domenica, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Viñas Pijoan, 2006, $350 MXN
Grenache, Petite Syrah, Merlot
Rating: Two Bottles

Named for the winemaker’s daughter (he names all of his wines after important people in his life – mostly women), the soft flavours carry this wine across your tongue.  This is a slightly gamey wine, which some people have a hard time enjoying, but which I like quite a lot.

This was a very easy wine to drink, but with a slightly sharp finish.  We all remarked that this wine had a sharp finish.  Someone else remarked that the wine was sharp.  It was agreed, then, that this was a sharp wine.  Someone (Andrew) said that we were referring to its (the wine’s) cleverness.  Some card (me) noted that this was a “Witty little number.”  (There was a LOT of eye-rolling, Saturday.)  Black currants and pomegranate were also noted.

A very good start.

We were offered water to rinse with.  There was in a pitcher on the table.  Andrew took a sip of it.  Demian said that it was actually to rinse our glasses.  In a spit take that would have made Groucho proud, Andrew immediately let the water fall back out of his mouth and into the glass.  It was a triumph.  Seriously, one of the funniest things I’d seen all month.  And September’s been HILARIOUS.

Wine: Los Nietos, Mezcla Bordelesa, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Émeve, 2009, $400 MXN
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot
Rating: Two-and-a-half Bottles

(Rye?  Was that RYE I tasted on that wine?)  Tart, but smooth.  Strawberries?  (Rye?)  Spicy, it was decided.  Cloves and nutmeg, someone said.  Demian chose this moment to let us in on a secret about wine: there is no right call on what you taste in a glass of wine.  If you taste strawberries, then you DO.  What one person may taste, another may not.  This wine was the favourite so far, by most.  (I still preferred the first bottle.  I found it more agreeable.  I liked its quirks.  I liked that it was both gamey and sharp.  It made me think of Englishmen out hunting foxes or something.  Then that made me sad for the foxes, but I liked the camaraderie, nonetheless.)

We sat around, discussing what a tannin was.  I thought it was something to do with protein.  Cara and Megan weren’t sure.  Andrew kind of agreed with me.  Demian told me I was wrong.  So far, we were off to a good start.

Wine: Casa Madero, Gran Reserva, Casa Grande, Valle de Parras, 2006, $440 MXN
Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz
Rating: Two Bottles

“Syrupy,” said Cara.

“Something,” said I.

“Smokey,” said Michael.

“Oaky,” said Andrew.

“Heavy,” said I, not to be outdone.  “It tastes like port.”

“Thick,” chimed in Megan.

We all tried to be appreciative of the wine without sounding like the wine was getting to us.  At this point, it was getting a little difficult to taste one wine from the other, but Demian chose well.  “This is the oldest winery in the continent.  It’s been making wine since 1597, taking only a short break when wine-making was outlawed by Spain around 1620.”  Why they outlawed wine had something to do with imperialism, and I had long since given up taking comprehensive notes.  This was a fitting wine for us to drink this weekend, however, it being Mexican Independence Day, which commemorates the start of the Independence War by Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in 1810.  (Take THAT, Spain.  We’ll drink whatever wine we damn well please!)

Where was I?  Oh yeah: Demian chose well.  Each wine a little more intense than the last so that we would be able to pick up on the differences.  If he had gone the other way, we would have started remarking how watery the wine tasted.  I call it the Wedding At Cana Method.  Go ahead.  Steal it.

We should take a moment to pause here, and comment on the food that we were served throughout the day.

On the Menu: Fried Calamari, Eggplant Parmesan, Pastrami Hamburger with Sauerkraut and Pepper Jack Cheese, Sweet Potato Fries, Chocolate Pudding with a Strawberry Compote

In true Cava style, the food came out at just the right time.  Namely, just as we were starting to feel a shade past tipsy.  Now, the purpose of this event was not to get drunk, but to try different wines and enjoy good company.  And, after three bottles, each of us had had just under three glasses.  Not quite three.  So, we were feeling SOME vapours, but not too many.  All the same, the food came as a pleasant foil for the wine.

The clear favourites were the Eggplant Parmesan and the Pastrami Burgers.  Subtle flavours for both, but I have to say, I am a sucker for hamburgers, especially when there is cheese involved.  But add a bed of pastrami and sauerkraut?  This was quickly becoming my favourite day ever.  (Well, next to the birth of my daughter and Obama being elected president, but a VERY CLOSE THIRD.)

Back to the wine …

Wine: Las Nubes, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, 2008, $560 MXN
Rating: One Bottle

Maybe it was that we’d already blown most of our taste buds, but this wine did not agree with any of us.  A lot of minerals in the wine made it taste salty to most, and the higher level of tannins left a bitter, tart, dry mouth in all.  We didn’t have a lot to say about this wine.  One of the pricier bottles we tried, this was the least appreciated wine of the bunch by all of us.

This was to be our last bottle and we were trying our damndest to enjoy it.  Sensing this, and being the consummate host, Demian treated us with a fifth bottle.


Wine: Los Nietos, Reserva, Villa de Guadalupe, Baja California, Émeve, 2008, $550 MXN
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc
Rating: Two-and-a-half Bottles

This wine was much softer and fruitier.  (What do you know: we all like fruity wine.)  Strawberries and blackberries and dark red fruit made for a magnificent final wine to the day.  Doing the math, each of us had about a bottle each, which is a lot.  Our tummies full of food and libation, we felt like royalty.

The thing we liked about Demian’s tasting was that he educated us on the wines themselves – where they were from, how they were made, the philosophy behind each winemaker’s process – but he never told us what we should be TASTING in each wine.  He allowed us to discover if we enjoyed them or not for ourselves.  Cara tried to trap him, at one point, asking him whether there is a RIGHT way to taste a wine.  Whether there actually IS a true palette for each bottle.  Like, if a person tastes strawberries, could they be WRONG.  But Demian wouldn’t take the bait.  Instead, he asked her to leave.  (Just kidding, but he totally could have.)

And so our great Wine Tasting Event at Cava Veinte 33 came to an end.  As we spilled out onto the street, some smoking cigarettes, others picking fights, Megan, Cara and I smiled in appreciation for this wonderful life.

Our thanks to Demian and the entire staff at Cava Veinte33 for their hospitality.  Many thanks to everyone who shared the experience with us.



O Canada!

Posted on

So, our journey north comes to an end. I am listening to The Tragically Hip, watching HGTV, and missing my family and friends already. But mostly, I will miss seeing Decked Out. That show looks awesome! Kidding: family and friends.

We are sitting on a plane, heading back home to Mexico, care of Westjet. Our daughter is entertaining us by examining all of the items in the seats, as well as the heads of the people sitting in front of us. Specifically their hair. They love it. They complain to the flight attendants, but they love it. Secretly.

Canada treated us well, once again. It is wonderful to be back in the land that we love, surrounded by the quiet organization that our people are fond of, their abrupt politeness, and the ubiquitous traffic of Toronto.

We saw a lot of friends. Got caught up on old friendships. Drank Guinness. Lots of Guinness.

It must be said that vacations home cannot be truly called vacations, however, as most of your time is spent driving from one friend, or group of friends, to another. Tie that in with a baby who likes her freedom like a tiny William Wallace, and it makes for some truly enjoyable moments in rental cars.

Baby: “Mama, mama, mama …”
Me (to Cara): “Sweetie: baby.”
Baby: “Mama, mama, mama …”
Me (to Cara): “Sweetie.”
Cara (opening her eyes, half unconscious from chasing Baby around various restaurants, cafes, and friends’ houses while I was chatting with friends over coffee): “Hm?”
Me: “Baby.”
Baby: “Mama, mama, mama …”
Cara (to Baby): “What do you need, sweetheart?”
Baby: “No.”

One hundred metres later …

Baby: “Mama, mama, mama …”

And if you really want to spice things up, get your child to learn early communication skills in a foreign language. Is “Day-doh” finger, or part of a nursery rhyme? When she says “Mee-yah, ” is she calling for her Grandmother, or telling me to look at something? Does “Wah-wah” mean that she wants water, or that she’s mocking me?

Then there is the inevitable guilt you feel when you cannot make plans with everyone who wanted to meet your baby, which is quickly followed up by the righteous indignation you feel whenever someone tries to guilt you thus, since they knew when you were going to be back in town, and why is it your job to work around their effin’ schedules? They can bloody well come see you, if they want to meet your baby so much! Who do they think they are? How dare they?

Thank you, Guinness.

This week, as promised, we took a try at Lighthouse VQA’s Cabernet Franc. We also made a trip to Australia and sampled Wolf Blass‘s Grey Label Shiraz. You know, just for a curve ball. It was a gift from my brother and his fiance on our engagement. It came with a really nice card that shared how they feel about us.

We got them a photo of us at the CN Tower.

Wallet size.

On the menu: Nothing. I drank Lighthouse by the sea of my heartbreak at leaving behind kith and kin.

We had a barbeque earlier to commemorate my father’s and uncle’s birthdays. Later, Cara and I packed for our return trip. Packing is a lot of fun. I love it. There’s nothing like capping off your vacation with chores.

Wine: Lighthouse VQA, Pelee Island Winery, Ontario, Canada, Cabernet Franc, 2009, $16.95 CAD
Rating: One-and-a-half Bottles. No, wait … Two Bottles. No … One … Yes. One-and-a-half Bottles … Two Bottles. Gaahh!!

This was a tricky one. First of all, it’s not bad. It really isn’t a bad little wine at all. It’s peppery and spicy. (Cinnamon? Not sure.) For a Pinot Noir, it wasn’t bad at all. But for a Cabernet Franc it was a little thin. I guess I have a concept of Cabernet Francs as being big and bold, but perhaps that is not always true, and perhaps not even fair. That having been said, I couldn’t put it down. And it really didn’t cloud my head at all, like some reds do (see Wolf Blass, Grey Label).

I really did like it, but for what I thought it was going to taste like, I was a little let down. That’s why I had such a hard time giving it a rating. Nevertheless, it went well with the evening, sitting in the television room with my parents, talking about Canadian politics, and watching the season finale of Desperate Housewives.

The night before we tried the Wolf Blass, and I would like to take you there now.

Wine: Wolf Blass, Grey Label, Australia, Shiraz, 2008, $35.00 CAD
Rating: Two Bottles

I love Wolf Blass and most Australian wines. Although there is a belief out there that assigns an unwarranted value to all wines from Australia, Wolf Blass generally deserves its distinction.

This is a fairly big wine – fruity, with black cherry and pomegranate. Bold and strong, Wolf Blass’s Grey Label is a sure hit for stormy nights. I really enjoyed this wine, as did those who shared a glass of it with me. I left a pleasant taste and reminded me of autumn.

So what’s with the disclaimer above, you ask, dear reader? Well, my sister, Jenn, and my brother-in-law, Scott, let me in on a new classification of wine. They have found that with some wines, especially the bolder wines Australia has made famous, they get a little … ornery. Argumentative, even. They tend to pick fights when they drink these wines. They call them: “I’ve Got Something On My Mind Wines.”

Is their classification justified? Well, I told my parents on Saturday just what I thought about the whole Osama Bin Laden thing; political strategies on President Obama’s part and all. Was it an open discussion? Not so much. Was it an authoritative discourse from someone who has learned all his political science from watching The West Wing? Yes it was.

This would make a very fun dinner wine. This would spark some conversations. A lot of pointing with wine glasses would happen with this wine, a la Drunken-Aunt-At-Wedding.

TSB Top Tip: avoid ordering this wine on first dates. Or within the first year of a relationship. And especially on anniversaries. Unless you like the unvarnished truth about yourself served on a plate of embellishment with a side of remember-the-time-you in a you-never-you-always reduction. (Serve it with friends of certain leanings for a lesson in what minorities tend to do.)

Well, that’s all for this week. We still haven’t figured out what we’re going to do for next week. Or drink. It’s definitely outdoor cooking weather down here now, so we will be grilling a lot more. Plus, we are starting to get into whites. (Not the people; the wines.) Our foray from a few weeks ago taught us all a lesson. We’ll update you when we make up our minds about the wines.

Until then,


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