- Category: Newsletter Archives
Newsletter #272 September 15, 2016
WineReview: Book Review - Besotted
Grape Guy’s Picks of the Bunch: New & Noteworthy Wines
Weekly Wine Video Series: A Recap of The Latest Videos
Ontario Wine Updates: Re-Tastes and Other Interesting Finds
Grape Guy Events: Make The Most of Your Trip to Wine Country
WineReview: Book Review - Besotted: My Love Affair with Wine
It has been a long time since I reviewed a book in the newsletter and with my friend Larry Horne releasing his first (and only) book I thought maybe it’s time to change that. Now I’ll be honest, I am more critical about my friends work (be it winemaker, writer, etc.) than any other, because I want the best from them and they expect the same from me ... so let's begin:
Larry Horne is a pest, a loveable, affable pest; but isn’t that what a good salesman in essence truly is? That’s what Larry Horne spent his whole life doing – first in the field of broadcast television and then in the wine industry.
I just finished reading his book Besotted: My Love Affair with Wine” a book he has been pestering me to look at since he put pen to paper. I kept telling him, “Larry, once you’re done I’d be happy to read it, but as a writer I hate people reading my work in progress because everyone just focuses on the grammar and spelling errors and not the content”. Okay, so maybe my reasoning wasn’t that profound, it was more like “I’ll read it when it’s published,” thinking that, like many who say they’re writing a book, he’ll never finish it; it’s the literary version of giving someon the brush-off; you know kinda like when you bump into an old friend on the street and say “we’ll have to get together sometime soon”, but never do – I figured this would be one of those things that never saw the light of day … wasn’t I surprised when Larrry sent me a copy and said, “now will you read it?”
Let me put Larry and my relationship into some context. I first met Larry when he was the sales manager and part-owner of Calamus Winery; every six months Larry would email me and say he has new Calamus wines to try and that we should sit down and taste them – he even offered to come and sit with me at my dining room table. It got to the point where we had to make it a late afternoon tasting because I would pull out 3-4 bottles of older Ontario wines from my cellar and we’d taste those as well.
It is mainly for that reason that Larry became my partner in bad-wine-crime: as he put in the acknowledgements section of the book: “Michael Pinkus, wine writer, with whom I have tasted more bad wine (and a few gems) than anyone could imagine.” This is not only the first acknowledgement I have been given in a book (to my knowledge), but it’s the first book I have seen my name in the body of – granted it’s only a paragraph on page 28 (with a picture no less) – but it’s there. Therefore I feel it is my duty to be as critical as possible of anything I appear in … ask my wife, if I cook it I criticize it.
At out dining room table-tastings Larry and I also shared many opinions about the Ontario wine industry – we quickly determined that both our opinions and palates conform (for the most part), and so it is over these wine-soaked moments that we became friends, despite our difference in age and experiences. As Larry says in his book: Wine brings the best people together.
Larry’s memoirs is not just about the places he’s been, but the last 30 years of his life dealing with and in the wine industry, while dabbling in his recollections of drinking of the fermented grape. The biggest revelation that came from my reading: I had no idea that Larry was a bootlegger long after it was fashionable? I have to admit I half expect Larry to be arrested any day now, after some of his revelations in these pages (I wonder if his much referenced and put upon wife, Alice, will bail him out right away or relish the peace and quiet for a few days).
But throughout the 85 pages of storytelling and occasional pontification (well-placed) you’ll be informed as well as entertained as you get to know Larry, his light-hearted and easy writing style reels you in and keeps you engaged. His life and his love for wine shines through, this is the story of how his life transpired from drinking wine and being a garagiste winemaker with his brother to being part-owner of a winery – and it is a fascinating trail - and whose kidding who, many of his adventures will have you smiling inwardly, because they are so relatable: this could very well be your path too. From his fanboy tasting at Beaucastel to his sheer joy at being in New Zealand (his favourite place on earth) to his infuriating experience aboard a cruise ship (cursing his love of wine and the money wasted once he saw his on-board expenses) … Larry makes you live and breathe wine right along with him.
Is this the greatest , most informational book about wine I have ever read, no; but will you enjoy following along with the adventures within, you bet, and here’s why: it’s a book that easily stands up to similar tomes from the likes of Tony Aspler (Travels with my Corkscrew) and Natalie MacLean (Red, White and Drunk All Over), each tell stories about the author’s winery visits, tastings and feelings about each … the only real difference is both of the above mentioned authors are more well-known (rightly or wrongly) than Mr. Horne, and it’ll take all Larry’s selling prowess to achieve the sales figures of those two books – and that is a shame because this book deserves just as many eyeballs.
For those that love wine as much as Larry, he’s worth spending the afternoon with; a glass of wine in one hand and this book in the other. In closing here is the highest praise I can laud upon Larry new book: If Larry wasn’t a friend I’d still read this book and enjoy it just as much.
Cooper’s Hawk 2013 Cabernet Franc Reserve - $34.95 (W)
As with their reserve Merlot, this Cabernet Franc invites its counterpart to play in its park – there’s 15% Merlot in here to help soften those “rough” edges Franc can have. 12 months in French oak with 20% new. Kicks off with spiced-cherry tobacco then delivers lush and flavourful fruit and spice to the palate all the way to the finish … silky and very Cabernet Franc-esque – no wonder this wine won a gold medal at the All Canadian Wine Championships. Price: $34.95 – Rating: ****+
Domaine Queylus 2013 Pinot Noir, Reserve du Domaine - $45.00 (W)
Queylus takes Pinot to the next level … nose serves up black cherry, violet and cranberry … palate loads up the spicy-cherry with hints of floral (violets), garrigue, and delicate acidity for balance – which really does sum up this wine in one word: delicate. Price: $45.00 – Rating: ****
Huff Estates 2013 Pinot Noir Reserve - $30.00 (W)
Suddenly Huff has a Reserve Pinot Noir … their first, which spent 15 months in 2nd use French oak and has layers of flavours and delightful complexity: smoky cedar kicks things off but if you allow the wine some time in glass it’ll reward you with black cherry, cranberry, cinnamon and other spices plus a long pleasant finish … only 450 cases were made so stock up now. Price: $30.00 – Rating: ****+
Leaning Post 2014 Gamay - $25.00 (W)
Mixing of Wismer (70%) and Cattail (30%) fruit of which 80% sees barrel (of 14 barrels only 1 is new); the rest stays in stainless steel tank to retain freshness in the wine … the result is a fresh fruity wine with a meaty character: cranberry, sour cherry and nice acidity along with a long sour/black cherry finish. Price: $25.00 – Rating: ****
Pelee Island 2012 Meritage, Vinedressers - $24.95 (W)
Vinedressers is Pelee’s reserve line of wines – and while there general list LCBO brands offer value for ever day drinking, these “special occasion” reserves offer up the same kind of value is glitzier packaging. This Meritage is split equally between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with 20% Merlot aged 8 months in oak … it’s a very fruit driven affair with blueberry, cassis and black raspberry on both the nose and palate. The rest of the wine experience is also very impressive with its vanilla, smoke, black cherry, dark chocolate and mocha mid-palate to the finish. Price: $24.95 – Rating: ****+
Strewn 2013 Cabernet Franc - $22.95 (W)
The interesting part of the Strewn 2013 reds is that they contain high-end fruit usually designated for their “Terroir” series and that pumps the wine up to a level that surpasses what it would be had it just been the usual fruit selection. Nose delivers cherry, raspberry, tobacco, black currant and some earthy tones, while the flavours over deliver with complexity to spare: violets and pencil lead mix in with cherry, sweet tobacco, raspberry and herbal notes … mid-palate is where this wine truly shines and all with no harsh edges; made even more impressive when one considers that the wine spent 16 months in 90% American oak (and 90% new) oak. Lovely. Price: $22.95 – Rating: ****+
Availability legend: W (Winery) – L (LCBO/Vintages) – OL (On-Line)
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The Weekly Wine Videos
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Weekly Ontario Wine Videos
Video #187 - Lakeview Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (Niagara)
Video #186 - Lailey 2013 Barrel Select Chardonnay (Niagara)
Video #185 - Stratus 2012 Gamay (Niagara)
Video #184 - Foreign Affair 2012 Petit Verdot (Niagara)
Special Video series for Le Gourmet TV
Taste it Again / Lost & Found (blog): the two blogs have merged
(Find out what happened to some favourites and to those that never were tasted)
Taste it Again: Andre, Gamay, Franc & More (+2 Foreigners)
From the Cellar (blog)
When it’s not an Ontario wine, here’s what I’m pulling out of the cellar
New Posts Added
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