SOME NEW BEVERAGE SAMPLES SENT TO ME FOR TASTING THIS MONTH –
Taittinger Domaine Carneros Brut Vintage Cuvee 2013, +301655 $41.95 Vintages June 20: Cool climate Carneros fruit is perfectly adaptable to sparkling wine done up in the traditional method of double fermentation in the bottle. This is the signature wine of the company's California holdings – with three years of bottle age before release. Content is chardonnay 58% and pinot noir 42%. Expect a typical yeasty nose from sitting on the lees, moving on to baked spicy fruit and ending with citric tones. It is well-priced and the company encourages "food friendly" for those bright, white appetizers of soft cheeses and shellfish. 12.1% ABV. Too bad my wedding anniversary falls on June 17 – I'll miss stocking up for it by a few days. Quality/Price rating is 92.5 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Troupis Fteri Moschofilero 2017 Greece, +647388 $16.95 Vintages June 8: flower aromatics and some grape tones (much like muscat) and with a deceptive citric finish. So: starts out floral, rises to fat perfume, and then descends to crispness for the food as a first course wine, paired with white meats. 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Waterkloof Circle of Life White 2015 Stellenbosch South Africa, +284588 $19.95 Vintages: Waterkloof is now organized according to biodynamic principles (which is one step beyond organic). The emphasis is on terroir sustainability. The Circle of Life series is a mid-level brand (others are Astracus, Circumstance, and Seriously Cool). Here the blend is sauvignon blanc 72% and chenin blanc 28%. Previous harvests have produced a mix that also included chardonnay and semillon. So the blend can change depending on the moment of picking the terroir. BF was for six months in older 600 litre French barrels. The initial nosing is sauvignon blanc of muted strength, followed by a sharper minerality of chenin. The long finish makes this a really good wine for aperitif time. Cinq a sept anyone? 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Waterkloof Circumstance Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Stellenbosch South Africa, +651471 $24.95 Vintages: the Circumstance level of wine-making covers a wide range of varieties, over 11 different labels (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Viognier, Mourvedre, Syrah, et al). Here, again with biodynamic principles, we can see the evolution of a lighter cabernet sauvignon emphasizing red fruit and berries rather than the usual cassis. After MF, it was aged in 20% new French barrels and 80% second and third year for 20 months. Unfiltered. 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Secreto Patagonico Malbec 2017 San Patricio del Chanar Patagonia Argentina, +635961, $19.95 Vintages June: Very dense black texture with black fruit dominating and some toasty tones of American wood in the finish. Typical blackberries, dark plums, and violets on the palate. Some butter for mouthfeel, some mocha elements as well. 14% ABV. As of now, still a young wine. So do a double-decant and/or taste it over several days. A keeper through 2020+. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Henry of Pelham Old Vines Baco Noir 2018 VQA Ontario, +459966, $19.95 LCBO General List: Latest vintage, just arrived. low yielding grapes come from 1984 and later plantings in the Short Hills Bench area. As with their previous baco noirs, HOP has maintained both the rich jammy black currant spicy character and the low price – under $20. Both new and older (one/two year old) US barrels are used for initial aging before transfer to 5000L oak foudres. Total aging: 1 year. It is still needs another year or two for proper aging, but with decanting it can be enjoyed now. 13% ABV. One of the top baco noirs at the LCBO. Works best with pronounced meats such as pork/boar, lamb, farmed or wild game – all either braised or grilled. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Henry of Pelham Gamay Estate 2017 VQA Short Hills Bench, +232323, $19.95 currently only at the winery. Aromatic black and red fruit (cherries, raspberries, blueberries), augmented by oak tones with vanilla cake spices, not as lean or Euro as Beaujolais. Fermented in stainless and aged in a mix of US and French oak for 10 months before bottling. Medium-bodied, good for patio drinking (sangria too), parties, BBQ. Ready now, but with some tannic structure to carry through a whole meal. 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Gerard Bertrand Terroir Minervois Syrah Carignan 2016 +952804, $15.95 Vintages July: handpicking and total destemming are hallmarks of the Bertrand approach. After the malo, both varieties are blended and part of the wine is aged in 225-litre Bordeaux barrels for 8 months. There are lively light spicy carignan flavours of cherries and plums, with some black fruit (black olive and blackberry) syrah component plus mocha. 13.5% ABV. BBQ wine. Price is $1 less than the 2015 vintage. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir La Clape Syrah/Carignan/Mourvedre 2016 AOP La Clape, +370262, $18.95 Vintages June: the bargains continue at the LCBO with this southern Rhone clone emphasizing aromatic red fruit (with some black) and garrigue. Nice long finish for that heavy meat dish. 14% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir Les Aspres Syrah Mourvedre Grenache 2016 Cotes du Roussillon Les Aspres, +413245, $18.95 Vintages July: G-S-M style all the way. One third of the wine is matured in barrels for 9 months and then blended with the other, vatted wines. Jammy, upfront black fruit coupled with both mocha and subtle spice cake tones. Sip or with food. 14% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Gerard Bertrand Hampton Water 2018 AOP Languedoc, +667337, $29.95 Vintages June: the prices of quality rose from south of France keep climbing, and this one is no exception. It comes complete with a glass stopper, which is annoying to open after re-capping: this would seem to encourage drinking the whole bottle at one time. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable rose, meant to complete with Miraval, Leoube, Ott, La Coste, Whispering Angel – at around the $30 pricepoint from the south of France Languedoc or Provence regions. It's been aged a few months in oak before bottling and release. Very well done, exhibiting the leanness of minerals with a higher red fruit acidic finish for rich appetizers and grilled fatty fishes. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Conundrum Rose 2018 California, +557595 $21.95 Vintages June: here's another addendum to the Conundrum family by owner Wagner Family. They've got White, Red, sparkling Blanc de Blanc, Sparkling Rose, and still Rose that is new to Ontario. I predict that Orange or Amber is next, as well as more sparkling variations. It is a successful line imported into Ontario via Andrew Peller. This one has RS 4 g/L and 13.1% ABV. But the compelling aspect here is the inclusion of Valdiguie grapes, once thought of as being a variation of Gamay. So like Gamay, it is light and aromatic with pale rose colour and tastes of strawberries, plus some watermelon. It's a good addition to the roses available for sale. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Lakeview Serenity Sauvignon Blanc 2018 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +688549 $16.95 LCBO: a nifty sauvignon blanc, with a 5 g/L residual sugar. It's a very pleasant pre-prandial drink with tropical fruit tones dominating citric zest. But there is enough acidity to make it a first course wine, or served with a salad. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Lakeview Serenity Baco Noir 2017 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +688556 $16.95 LCBO: with a residual sugar of 15 g/L, this wine seems poised to take on Apothic from California. It's full-bodied and emphasizes black fruit with mocha tones and some smoke. Oak aged for eight months in new French and Hungarian wood. Possibly best served on its own as a party wine, or with hot-dogs or burgers. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 87 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Chateau des Charmes Rose Cuvee d'Andree 2018 Estate Grown VQA NOTL, $16.95 Vintages +333260: this fresh and vibrant rose (named after Madame Andree Bosc) continues to please year over year as I have said before. It is still 100% pinot noir, dry "old style" as in Europe, but loaded with Ontario cranberry, red fruit strawberry, and some discreet black cherry tones from the hot summer, coming in at 12.5% ABV. Stainless steel fermentation of course, and twist top. Refreshing. Ontario Wine Awards Gold Winner for 2016. I scored the 2017 at 91+ points; this release is just as good but, of course, fresher. RS: 6.1g/L. "Vegan friendly" (no animal products used in filtering). Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Chateau des Charmes Cabernet Franc 2016 VQA St. David's Bench. NOTL, +453415 $34.95 at Winery and boutiques: it has been years since I tasted the St. David's Bench Cab Franc from Chateau des Charmes, and they have a continual winner of wine that could have been diverted to Equuleus. It has some over-the-top full-bodied black spicy fruit while still retaining some cranberries and bell peppers, slightly augmented with some pine/cedar tones. Aged for a year in 1 – 2 year-old French oak with some toast. Not made every year, and this is the ONLY cab franc Chat des Charmes produces. Sip as a meditative drink or with red meat/cheese. Cork closure, keep it around for awhile. I opened my bottle and did a double-decant followed by several days of open bottle sampling. 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.