Here’s your news report...
Back in May, I wrote about Rudy Kurniawan, the guy who made counterfeit wine and sold it to eager collectors, including William Koch (of Koch brothers fame).
Kurniawan mixed older, mid-priced wine with newer vintages, putting it in bottles from rare/expensive wines and selling it to collectors. If needed, he’d create fake labels, bilking wealthy folk out of plenty of money for what was quite literally a kitchen-sink blend.
Last week, Kurniawan became the first person to be sentenced for such a crime in the U.S., and was sentenced to 10 years in prison (less the two years he has already been locked up) as well as ordered to pay $20 million on top of the $28 million that will go to victims.
Once Kurniawan, an Indonesian national living in California, has finished his sentence, he will be deported.
Up next is sports...
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have been doing quite well with their new line of wines. The well-priced Bin 1930 Sauvignon Blanc-Riesling and Cabernet-Merlot ($14.99 each) have been frequently re-stocked on shelves in many Liquor Marts and private wine stores I’ve visited over the past few weeks, and I’m hearing the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($18.99) is moving at a good clip as well.
For the upcoming hockey season, new to the province (via Banville & Jones) are the Cane Estate wines. The Napa Valley winery is a joint venture between Jason Earnest and two members of hockey’s Carolina Hurricanes — goalie Cam Ward and defenceman Tim Gleason.
There are three Cane Estate wines in the province — they’re all reds, and start at around $75 a bottle. So, uh, go Blue!
In entertainment news...
The Hollywood Reporter says Russian authorities would like French film star Gérard Depardieu to oversee wine production in the recently annexed Crimea.
Depardieu owns Chateau de Tigné in France’s Loire Valley, and has stakes in wineries in Bordeaux, Argentina and Italy as well.
In 2013, Depardieu became a Russian citizen, and Russian member of parliament Igor Zotov is quoted as saying he thinks the actor would be the ideal candidate to supervise wine production in Crimea, which has a history of winemaking that goes back to the early 19th century.
And now with a weather update...
Chances are we won’t be seeing too many 2014 wines made from either Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc coming from Ontario.
Reports out of Niagara suggest the polar vortex that sent temperatures plummeting across Canada was too much for the two grape varieties in most regions of southern Ontario.
And while 2014 Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc from Ontario may end up being in short supply, most grapes grown throughout the region are able to cope with the Niagara’s relatively cooler climate.
STEAM WORKS PALE ALE
(Vancouver — $3.25/473ml can, Liquor Marts)
Pale gold in colour and with a modest white head, there are four kinds of malts and two kinds of hops in this pale ale. Bright-citrus, floral, light-herbal and toasted-malt notes on the nose are quite pleasant. It’s fairly smooth (not too sharp or bitter) on the palate, with toasted-malt flavours accentuated and more modest grapefruit notes and some nice lingering hops on the finish. Tasty. ★★★1/2
FORT GARRY BREWING COMPANY BIG BUDDHA
(Winnipeg — $2.96/473ml can, Liquor Marts)
Hot on the heels of the Raspberry Quencher and Evil Goat Doppelbock comes Big Buddha, a lighter brew that features "hints of lemongrass and ginger." The latter comes through in a big way aromatically, almost impeding lighter citrus and malt notes. Flavour-wise, the ginger comes through big-time again, with hints of lime and that lemongrass component lingering in the background. It’s not for everyone, but chill this right down and it’s ideal for sushi. ★★★
MATUA 2013 SAUVIGNON BLANC
(Marlborough, New Zealand — $16.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Very pale straw in colour, the big grassy, reedy and grapefruit notes on the nose means you’ll never mistake the Matua for anything but New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a lean, light-bodied, nervy Sauvignon Blanc, with some grassy/citrus-rind notes accentuated by light acidity and a hint of bitterness. It needs food — chicken souvlaki, a citrus-driven salad or ceviche might work. ★★1/2
FEUDO MACCARI 2011 NERO D’AVOLA
(Sicily — $14.95, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Smoke, licorice, cherries, blackberry and mocha notes all come through on the nose of this Italian red. It’s a medium-plus bodied, highly drinkable red, with excellent balance of ripe black fruit with earthier notes, light tannin and a splash of acidity. A great value that would be ideal for pizza, rustic pasta dishes or even ribs and burgers. Never mind the boring California red blends — drink this. ★★★★