Billy’s Online Wine School – Week 1

Drink selected wines every week, for a full year. All in the comfort of your own pad.

Welcome to my new Wine School. Drinking your way through my 2010 Billy’s Best Book ““ a bottle (or two) at a time. Just follow the instructions and you’ll be a wine wizard by Easter.

How it works:
1. Every week Billy will declare a ‘mood appropriate’ situation and recommend one of two wine picks. You can buy both or one. Most weeks the wine(s) won’t cost more than $30 total.
2. Drink the wine(s) alone or with friends, and report back to us ““ tell us how it went.
3. We’re giving away monthly prizes for the best stories.
4. Wines and context will be posted every WEDNESDAY.

Week #1
Lesson: Begin at the centre
A good way to explore any subject is to look for the centre, or a cornerstone. A reference point. Many years ago the south of France developed a style of red wine that is ideal for everyday drinking ““ refreshing, earthy and nourishing. And affordable. The wine equivalent of home cooked food. Real and satisfying. Just about all of the world’s reds are “˜richer’ or “˜lighter’ editions of Côtes du Rhône. Know it, and you’ll know how to play all the other wines.

BEST USE: House wine. Works great with almost any food.
BUY: Louis Bernard 08 Cotes du Rhone, France 581645 $11.80 ($10.80 till Jan end.) Pages #198/199
P.S. It was the 2007 vintage that I reviewed for the book. The 08 is less rich and would fall in my Rustic section.

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  • Sounds like fun and a great way to explore wines. I am in!

    Had to do an online search of the LCBO’s in my area and found only one location that had Louis Bernard 08 Cotes du Rhone, France. I stopped by that location in Windsor today and picked up this one. Ready to uncork, or in this case (unscrew the cap) and begin.

    Any food recommendations to go along with this one?


  • Ok, let’s talk about this wine. Opened a bottle today so here goes. Good price for an everyday simple red wine. It’s not too complex.

    Nose whaffed of plums. Taste was interesting. The plums were still there along with some black berry flavours. There was a little bite of acidity that caught my attention which also seemed to cause the fruit taste to drop off immediately.

    I decided to pair it with pasta and tomato sauce to see how it would go. Answer is not bad at all as both seemed to work together. Interesting note, this wine was very good with the fresh bread & butter and probably paired even better than the pasta.

    Conclusions: Nothing to get too excited about. This is not a bad wine, however not a great one either but as Mr Munnelly suggests, it would make a good house wine.

    Gary Killops

  • Hey Gary! Did you notice how easy and fast it was to find that wine, thanks to the great LCBO website?!
    Also, check out the services that they provide for bringing Vintages bottles in from other stores. I’m at a dinner party tonight for the espress purpose of testing this wine. Will post results!

  • I like the Cave La Romaine Cotes du Rhone Villages (LCBO 28779) for $12.95.
    It makes perfect sense to me that we should start in the Cotes du Rhone, now that you tell me why. I think I always knew that many wines in the world are based on this standard of blending but it took Billy to connect those thoughts. Thanks. As a teacher (although granted a PE teacher) I appreciate a good teacher. Viva la Boot Camp.

  • Hi Betty,

    I often use the LCBO’s web site to locate wines in my area. Be mindful that the data on there can be a day old and in some cases when the web site claims the store has a supply left they may be gone. My only complaint is that the inventory is not in real time. Other than that, yes, very good site.

  • @ Vikki,

    Go to and do a product search. You may find an LCBO in your area that has this wine. I am from Windsor and found that only one store in Windsor has this one. Our main Vintages outlet did not have this wine, it was on the shelf at one of the smaller LCBO’s. Thank goodness for LCBO’s online search.


  • Nice suggestion Kato.

    Vintages new January 9th releases “Ortas Traditional Rasteau 2008, Cotes du Rhone” is excellent. It’s $15 and Vickie I see that it is available at two of your local LCBO’s.

    I think it is better than the Louis Bernard 08 Cotes du Rhone.

    LCBO Store # 287: LASALLE & BARRYDOWNE (SUPERMALL) has 31 bottles in stock.
    LCBO Store # 407: ALGONQUIN AND REGENT (HWY 69) has 15 bottles in stock.


  • This should be fun … virtual wine tasting, but with the wine.

    I was a bit unsure after the first sip of the Louis Bernard 08 Cotes du Rhone. It seemed harsh; I know you said rustic, but…

    After letting it breathe a bit (and chilled it a touch), I discovered a different wine. Good value. An everyday red. Not great at descriptions, but got the earthiness. Paired very nicely with a tomato-based risotto.


  • Billy and Kato, I love this concept!!
    Interactive, engaging, fun – and educational. I’m game.
    Let’s just see if my wallet can keep up.

    For my first lesson, I wanted to share the experience so I took a bottle of Bernard (the ’08) to a casual dinner party the other night. With it, my goal was to stimulate both our appetites and our conversation.

    Ah, but no! I arrived too late!

    As I walked through the door, I was generously handed a glass of what was already open in the kitchen, a cloyingly vanilla number from Down Under. Long before we saw the “tail” end of this bottle I already felt full… and we hadn’t eaten yet!

    The relative tartness of Louis’ Cotes du Rhone was a welcome relief at the table – for me, at least. Some of the others found the transition from the sweeter wine to be too jarring but I was happy to enjoy a wine that shared the stage with what was on my plate.

    Fortunately, I bought two bottles of this week’s pick! Next time, Bernard will be experienced before a richer red and we’ll see what kind of reception he gets.

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