Cellar Direct: On To Italy!

24 01 2018

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]

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Italy is not kidding around.

Over the past couple of years, I have come to know the wares of virtual Canadian wine merchant and weekly offer club Cellar Direct pretty well.  Over the course of half a dozen reviews and nearly twice as many bottles, I’ve grown accustomed to the Old World bona fides and seemingly effortless consistency of the wines sourced by CD founder Ron Van Schilt from family estates strewn across Europe:  France all day, Germany for sure, with a bit of Spain thrown in for good measure.  But I had never yet tasted anything from the fourth pillar of Cellar Direct’s traditional sourcing ground, the most glaring omission from the vinous Euro-stars above:  Italy, the focus of multiple prior online offerings but no corks popped at my kitchen table.  That changed tonight, and my perception of what this virtual venture is bringing into the country climbed ever higher.  The focus tonight is two dynamic, bombastic Italian reds, with a wild Cellar Direct white (Arneis!!) from the same country to come a bit later.  Let’s start where my Italian heart lies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wine Review: 2009 Paolo Conterno Barbera d’Alba

9 11 2011

Not to reinforce any improper stereotypes, but I totally dig the Mafia lighting in this photo.

Well, another week, another lone post on Pop & Pour — there’s no doubt that my brief foray back into academics has taken its toll on my blogging productivity.  Thankfully, my WSET Advanced exam is this Sunday, after which my writing schedule will get back to normal (provided I haven’t given up on wine entirely by then, something I might just do if I have to read my textbook one more time).  After two weekends of boot-camp-esque Advanced training and 30+ hours of class time logged, we’ve tasted and evaluated close to 80 wines and covered off every major world wine region except Spain and Portugal (which are coming up this Saturday), as a result of which everyone’s brain is in varying degrees of pain.  My head is so WSET-laden that I have random wine words like Trincadeira (Portuguese grape variety) and bocksbeutel (odd-shaped wine bottle used in Franken, Germany) floating around the edges of my consciousness at night as I’m trying to go to sleep, and I can’t pour a straightforward glass of vino with dinner without mulling over whether it has a medium or medium-plus body or a ruby-with-some-garnet or garnet-with-some-ruby appearance.  Tonight I poured one of my favourite kinds of inexpensive wine, Barbera d’Alba from northwest Italy, and even though I was fairly familiar with the grape and the region, I still felt compelled to dive into my text to find out what my new vinous Bible had to say about them.

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Wine Review: 2007 Cogno Barbera d’Alba Bricco Dei Merli

16 05 2011

So the label's beige, coral pink and orange? It HAS to be good!

I haven’t had a Barbera in awhile, but it’s one of my all-time favourite red grapes, so it’s high time to change that trend.  Barbera is mainly grown in the Piedmont region in northwest Italy, which is much (much much) more famous for the Nebbiolo-based wines from Barolo and Barbaresco, which are some of Italy’s most prestigious and expensive.  While Nebbiolo is the show-dog grape of the region, Barbera is the lovable mutt who sleeps beside your bed at night; Nebbiolo is deep, complex, layered and pedigreed, while Barbera is rustic, juicy, fun and earthy.  Although Nebbiolo is what generates the most cash for winemakers in Piedmont, Barbera is what they drink at night.  Barbera is a great intro grape for those people who want to start learning what European wines are all about but have been used to the overt fruitiness of California and Australia:  it features ripe red fruit flavours that are eminently drinkable but also has the underlying flavours of the land and the ground common in the Old World, all thrown together with a bit of wildness, some colouring outside the lines.  All this, usually, for $15-$25 a bottle. Read the rest of this entry »








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