Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Crush and be crushed

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I'm a die-hard Montreal Canadiens fan - in fact, I subscribe to RDS (it's like French TSN) just to watch the games. It's actually fairly useful in that it shakes the rust off my French Immersion formative years. I've actually started trying to swear at the referees in French; I'm sure my wife is extremely thankful we have two TVs.Anyhow, the Habs are currently being crushed by the New York Rangers, so I thought I'd distract myself with a little blog updatin'. [edit: my boys came back and won in overtime!]I went to a wine launch last week for a brand called Little Black Dress (at this writing the site was down for maintenance) at La Cantina di Mona Lisa. It's a California brand with a very user-friendly look and style.The coolest part was getting to use the Enomatic wine dispenser in Mona Lisa's wine bar - it allows users to choose their wine by a two-, four-, or six-ounce pour using a pre-paid charge/gift card. La Cantina is the only place in town (to my knowledge) with such a machine. The finger food was also quite tasty.***The two wines sampled were as follows:Little Black Dress 2006 Chardonnay (California - $14.99, available at Liquor Marts and beyond)The nose on this Chardonnay brings vanilla, peach and almond, with a hint of apple. It's medium- to full-bodied on the palate, with lots of typical ripe stone fruit, apple and vanilla flavours. It has a nice, vibrant mouthfeel that kicks it a notch above your average California Chardonnay.Little Black Dress 2005 Merlot (California - $14.99, available at Liquor Marts and beyond)Aromas of plum, cinnamon, perfume, and a hint of oak are in charge on the nose. More big plum, mocha and cedar jump out on the fruit-forward palate. The tannins are very low; it's a red meant for drinking now, and is soft enough to enjoy on its own. A nicely balanced California Merlot for this price point.***Maybe instead of turning back to the game, I'll get back into a new wine book I picked up. It's called First Big Crush by Eric Arnold, and details his adventures in New Zealand as he tries working at a winery in an attempt to write a book about it all. I'm only about 30+ pages in, but I can already say it's a riotous account of the less sexy aspects of winemaking - namely, cleaning and re-cleaning machinery. Full review once I'm done, but be warned - the language is pretty saucy.

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About Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

When he wasn't bashing on a drum kit in local punk rock bands, Ben spent the mid '90s hucking cases of wine around to pay for two English degrees. Now he's the Winnipeg Free Press wine columnist and blogger.

The extent of Ben's wine experience in the mid-90s was memories of accidentally leaving a bottle of White Zinfandel in the freezer overnight, and the ensuing mess he was left with. Between 1996 and 2005 Ben absorbed all he could about wine while working at wine shops to pay for school. Meanwhile, he was churning out papers for his BA and MA in English (from the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, respectively).

Ben became the Winnipeg Free Press' weekly wine columnist in 2005, and two years later joined Wine Access magazine as a contributor, a member of their national tasting panel and a judge at the Canadian Wine Awards and International Value Wine Awards until the magazine closed up shop in 2013.

In 2013 Ben joined the Winnipeg Free Press as a copy/web editor.

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