Friday, September 10, 2010

New City, New Cuisine, New WINE! (Castano)

The trek to my new city of residence started with a road trip.  I packed my bags, stuffed them in to my buddy Chris's car and we hit the road.  Our goal: Halifax to Montreal in one day.  Driving Chris' "old women car", as several of our friends have remarked (which fits Chris' temperament surprisingly well), we make it to Montreal without a hitch.

From Montreal we meandered our way to my Ontario, Land O' Lakes cottage.  The cottage promised, and delivered, the ability to relax and chill. In this case relaxing and chilling meant drinking excessive amounts of micro-brews.  This journey was the second time the micro-brews have seen Ontario, they had kept Chris company on his initial drive from Ottawa to Halifax.  Somehow they managed to spend the entire month that Chris was in Halifax sitting in the back of his trunk; For Shame! We also managed to drink a few bottles of wine during our time at the cottage: a Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon and a Fuzion Syrah Rose.  Both wines were quite nice.  I was especially impressed with the Fuzion, it was surprisingly good considering it's $7.50 price tag, worth a try for sure.

Chris drove me into Ottawa after a couple days of relaxing at the cottage.  We parted ways; I drank more wine and made my way down to London, Ontario (my home town).  More wine and some visits with family and friends and then one very early flight from London, through Calgary, and finally I arrived in Vancouver.

This is my second day as an east coast ex-pat and a west coast resident.  I have been pleasantly surprised with the diversity of food and wine available in my neighbourhood.  There is a Vietnams grocer right across the street.  I didn't (and still don't) completely understand the food I bought there, especially the meat labeled Shabu Shabu.  At the very least I determined that contra to my initial impression it is not already cooked.  Hopefully I don't get sick tomorrow as a result of determining this fact.  

There is a provincial liquor store a stone’s throw away from my place; thankfully it has a diverse selection of wine and beer.  Today, at the suggestion of WineAccess magazine, I picked up a bottle of Spanish wine.  Before I release my tasting notes I think it is important to mention: this was the worst possible wine I could have picked to begin blogging about.  Not that I didn't like the wine, on the contrary I quite enjoyed it.  The problem is I had an incredibly difficult time picking out any specific flavours or aromas (mostly flavours though, aromas were relatively distinctive).  The wine is quite subtle, and due to my difficulty in picking out flavours, I am not entirely sure I would agree with my own tasting notes on a different occasion.  This wine definitely merits a second go, and I look forward to it.

Wine: Castano

Grape: Monastrell a.k.a. Mourvedre (a fact which I learned about ten minutes ago)

Region: Spain, specifically Yecla (south easterly)

Year: 2008

Alcohol: 13.5% by vol.

Price: $10.99

Aroma:  Ethanol, Herbs (kind of a very light mix of basil and thyme, or something along those lines), with obvious black pepper notes.

Taste: Very subtle, the body is medium to light with good tannins (tannins are what give you that mouth drying effect after drinking certain wines or eating certain fruits, steep a tea for too long and you will know what I am talking about). The flavour is reminiscent of eating a flower petal, immediately followed by an extremely watered down shot of an oaky whiskey. The review of this wine that I read kept bringing up chocolate, and while the vintages were different (magazine 2007, mine 2008) I could not find any hint of chocolate.  If you come across this wine pick up a bottle and let me know what you think.

Side notes: Wow tartaric crystal central!  The final glass from the bottle revealed a mass of tartar.  Tartaric acid, also known as potassium bitartrate is a naturally occurring compound in fruits, grapes have an especially high level of tartaric acid.  During the fermentation and aging of wine tartaric crystals may drop out, meaning they are no longer dissolved in it and become visible.  You can collect these crystals, purify them and use them for all your reduction of colour loss while boiling vegetables needs!

Final verdict: I like it, definitely worth another try.  While I am unfamiliar with rating systems for wine and have yet to create my own, I am going to give the wine a B+ because that's what my gut is telling me.


  1. I'm not sure I'd like this wine by the way you describe it. Do you think I would? Maybe I'll pick it up if I see it around. For now, I have two bottles sitting in my room waiting for me to try them. I'll keep checking your recommendations for inspiration :)

  2. I think you might actually like it, it somewhat reminded me of that Chateauneuf du Pape that we drank with the smoked gouda. It's an interesting wine and cheap, worth a try at least.

  3. You should try something from La Rioja

  4. It freaks me out that it tastes like ethanol.

  5. A lot of wines have that, ethanol is just normal drinking alcohol.