Many of you ask who the Penniless Pensioner is. Well, he was a very successful corporate lawyer working in New York and Toronto making boatloads of money. He was seen at the right restaurants, clubs and with models and young women offering to curate him on social media. Well then Bernie Madoff came along and invested a huge chunk of the Penniless Pensioner’s money. It was too late to recoup the swindled funds as he was in his late 60’s. He relies on The Canadian Pension Plan and Old Age Supplement and with his remaining savings lives a frugal life in a frugal apartment in Toronto where many women in Burkas walk the streets quite a fall from the swanky Lonsdale condo he used to live in. He used to shop at Pusateris for groceries but now shops at Sunys looking for deals on Halal chicken and beef. But he always had an appreciation of fine wine to suit his image. He wouldn’t hesitate to drop hundreds of dollars for a bottle of wine in a restaurant and over a thousand if he could expense it. I have taken pity on the old chap and he pleads with me please keep the cost down so he can afford it.
The Côtes du Roussillon can be found in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France proximate to Spain. In fact historically it was once part of Spain. It was at one point producing 50% of French wine and much of it was plonk but quality has radically improved. The Penniless Pensioner in his days as a low-income law student liked the wines from the Côtes du Roussillon but as he moved up the legal ladder of fame and fortune he rejected these lower cost wines for Bordeaux first growths.
So I venture into his past and try a Hilario 2019 Côtes du Roussillon at $15.95 which is five cents below his top end. It is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Carignan and 10% Mourvèdre. Aromas of big fat ripe strawberries at their prime, blackberries, black cherry and spice. Moderate tannins with a good grip. Although a hearty wine it is nonetheless smooth. The Grenache dominates with a heavy raft of those big fat strawberries. A most agreeable, simple and well-made wine. Given its tannins it just might improve in the bottle over the next 3-5 years. As for food what a delightful match for Putanesca Sauce over pasta. Heavy on the anchovies and spicy sausage please. There is rebel streak in this wine as it stares at expensive Bordeaux with contempt and self assurance. It is a wine of the people and not for the elite which is perhaps a difficult pill to swallow for Penniless but he will no doubt recognize his new station in life and accept it so he can attain some inner peace. And of course, for the elite if they recount their youth and don’t revel in their nouveaux riche wealth they might recognize a good wine for what is in the bottle as opposed to the prestige of a label or region.
(Hilario 2019 , AOP Côtes du Roussillon, Confrerie Des Domains, Fontiès D’Alide, France $15.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 18503, 14%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 90/100).