April 04, 2004

350 Miles for Liquor

by peterb

Some more loot from my Toronto trip: alcohol! The LCBO store on Queen's Quay near Yonge is truly a revelation.

Egly-Ouriet à Ambonnay Champagne, Grand Cru Brut Tradition (try saying that five times fast). I've been looking for this for about 6 months, but of course you can't get it in Pennsylvania because of our antediluvian state-controlled wines and spirits system. This is a champagne that has some of the body of a red wine; if you close your eyes you can almost imagine that it's a Belgian lambic. It has a very up-front, fruity yet dry taste; the front is much more assertive than the tail. It went very well with lamb. A half-bottle was $CAN 33, and a normal 750 ml bottle was $CAN 60.

Montevina Zinfandel Port. I decided to try a Zinfandel port on Tilt's recommendation, and I'm glad I did. It was not terribly sophisticated or deep, but it had a characteristic Zinfandel spiciness and was very drinky. At nearly $20 (US) it's a bit dear for what it is, but it's worth at least trying once. Goes well with Stilton or good stinky Camembert (and you can get good stinky Camembert -- young, raw, and moronically illegal in the US -- at Alex's Farm Products at the St. Lawrence Market, Tuesday through Saturday, or in the basement of the Manulife Center, 7 days a week). Based on this one example of the genre, while I don't think Zinfandel Port is a replacement for vintage Porto, I'd surely consider it before a "reserve" Port. It's basically the first port I've had from outside of Portugal that I consider truly drinkable.

Fonseca White Porto. White port enjoyed a fashionable phase in France a few years back, which they are now embarrassed about, looking at it like we look at the "wine cooler" craze of the mid-80s. The French were wrong to be head over heels in love with white port, and they're wrong now to be embarrassed about liking it. It's an unassuming, simple drink, appropriate as an aperitif. Not everything we drink has to be the sine qua non of sophistication. Sometimes you just want a beer. Sometimes you just want some cheap white port. At $8/bottle, there's no reason to be embarrassed about keeping some in the house. Or even offering it to guests. A little dryer than Ruby port (but still noticeably sweet), it has a slightly chalky, talcumlike note. If you want something sophisticated in this range you'd do better with a low end Sherry, but this doesn't have the aggressive Sherry oak infusion which I sometimes find to be a little monotonous. So it makes for a nice change.

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Posted by peterb at April 4, 2004 01:25 PM | Bookmark This

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