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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for SEPTEMBER 19, 2020

 
 
WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for SEPTEMBER 19, 2020
 
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. My "Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net", a guide to thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits, has been at http://www.deantudor.com since 1994.
 
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at http://www.gothicepicures.blogspot.ca  or at  http://www.deantudor.com No winery can buy their way into – or out of – this publication.
 
Scores are a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, e.g. a Southern Rhone would taste like a Southern Rhone) and QPR (Quality/Price Ratio value in the marketplace above or below its price).
 
Currently, the wine media have no access to the tasting samples usually provided to us in the LCBO lab on a fortnightly basis. This will go on or some time. HOWEVER,  the wine media will still have access to the advance spreadsheet of the wines to be released. So I know what is to be released and when. SOME (but not many) of these wines I have recently tasted since January 2020 or so, and I can comfortably recommend them based on this prior sampling.
 
Some New Wines Tasted Over the Past Fortnight or so ---
 
1.Best's Great Western Riesling 2019 Victoria, +688259, $19.95 Vintages October 3, 2020: really good age-worthy (20 years or more) Riesling wines from plantings that began in the 1860s at Best's Nursery Block. According to the producer, here are some 41 and 75 year-old vines. Opens with fragrant blossoms on the nose, lemons and apples for entry (of course), some tropicality on the mid-palate, finishing with some austere-ness.  A keeper.  11% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
2.Abeille-Fabre Chateau Mont-Redon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2016, +959627, $53.95 Vintages September 19, 2020: its price is up eight bucks since last year's 2015 vintage release, but it is still too young to consume unless you double-decant and drink it over a few days. Half of the wine was made in barrels, the other half in vats. A selection of the better barrels is made with the vatted wine into a single blend, and after 18 months together they are bottled. It will be well-aged after another 10 years. Of the 13 permitted varieties, grenache, syrah, and mourvedre are dominant, with cinsault, counoise, muscardin, and vaccarese added. Still tight but plenty of black fruits and spices. 14.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
3.Henry of Pelham Chardonnay 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +291211 LCBO, $14.95: ripeness, pleasant balance of acid and fruit, integrated style in place, some freshness in the finish. Overall, terrific balance of fruit in the finish, with residual sugar at 6.1g/litre. 12.7% ABV, screw cap, gravity-driven, fermented in stainless with aging sur lie. Apple and citric tones, completely unwooded. Try with a light cream sauce (pasta, trout, veggies). Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
4.Henry of Pelham Estate Fume Sauvignon Blanc 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, +444268 $19.95 winery only: Very aromatic with nuances of toastiness both in the nose and on the palate, somewhat in a fume style started by Robert Mondavi fifty years ago. Typical savvy zestiness is tamed by oaking and unctuous fruit tones. Medium finish accents lemon and vanillin character, melon, honeysuckle. Best as a classy sipper on its own, but also with a lightly aromatic first course. 50% BF in barriques, a half-year aging in oak barriques. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
5.Campbell Kind Wine Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Marlborough, $22.99 consignment through selectwines.ca: Steve Campbell, of www.campbellkindwines.com, has the world's first international range of sustainable, carbon zero wines. International wineries and winemakers craft environmentally-friendly wines for their retail partners. Campbell Kind Wine currently has several varieties of wines in play, which include Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Syrah and Chenin Blanc from South Africa, Tempranillo blend from Ribera del Duero, Montepulciano blend from Abruzzo, and IgT Rosso Veronese from Verona, and others. I sampled the savvy: made by Steve Smith, New Zealand's first MW, of Smith and Sheth among the Marlborough riverbeds. It's a dynamic wine made from some 30-year old vines, with a medium-body and lower levels of MVC (Modal Varietal Character), especially tropicality and orchard fruit, but with more minerality and citric lemon tones, leading to a higher crisp finish. It's ideal with fried foods. 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
6.Saintly The Good Sparkling Rose Gold 2019 VQA Ontario, +16767 LCBO, $18.95: an all-purpose medium-body off-dry styled wine for patios, terraces, decks, etc. with nuances of strawberries and melons. Grapes include 46% Chardonnay, 46% Cab Franc, 4% Sauvignon Blanc, and 4% Syrah (the grapes and percentages could change from harvest to harvest). Very light-pink in colour, persistent mousse from the cuve close Charmat method. Extended lees contact leads to a creaminess in the body. In three words: fresh, fruity, dry. What more could you ask for in a very pleasant and consistent all-occasion celebratory drink? 3 g/L residual sugar. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
7.Saintly The Good Sparkling [white] Gold 2019 VQA Ontario, Wine Rack only $18.95: another all-purpose medium-body off-dry styled wine for patio, terrace, deck, etc. with nuances of orchard fruit (apples, pears, peaches) and citric tones. Grapes include 82% Pinot Gris, 15% Muscat, and 3% Chardonnay (the grapes and percentages could change from harvest to harvest). Persistent mousse, Charmat method, extended lees contact – all contribute to a creamy style. What more could you ask for in a very pleasant and consistent all-occasion celebratory drink? 10g g/L residual sugar makes it "dry to off- dry". 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
Under $20
=========
W+284588    WATERKLOOF CIRCLE OF LIFE    WO Stellenbosch 2016  $19.95     MVC/QPR:90
W+146423    SUTHERLAND CHARDONNAY    WO Elgin    2018    $19.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+523001    CAVE SPRING CABERNET FRANC    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2017    $17.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+496463    PASSO DEL CARDINALE PRIMITIVO DI MANDURIA    DOP    2017    $19.95 MVC/QPR:  89
 
Over $20
 
R+461699    HENRY OF PELHAM SPECK FAMILY RESERVE BACO NOIR    VQA Ontario        $24.95  MVC/QPR: 91
R+14149    MORANDE GRAN RESERVA SYRAH/CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Central Valley    2017    $21.95    MVC/QPR: 89
R+959627    CHÂTEAU MONT-REDON CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE    AC    2016    $54.95 MVC/QPR: 90
R+13676    MICHELLE PHILIPON SANTENAY    AC    2017    $42.95    MVC/QPR: 89
R+466375    PODERE BRIZIO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO    DOCG    2015    $72.95    MVC/QPR: 89
Sparkling+405035    HUFF CUVÉE JANINE SPARKLING ROSÉ    Traditional method, VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario    2016    $29.95 MVC/QPR: 89
 
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

TASTING OF SANDBANKS WINERY IN AUGUST 2020 --

1.Sandbanks Sleeping Giant Foch – Baco Noir 2018 VQA Ontario +164087 LCBO, $19.95 (but as a Limited Time Offer from August 17 to September 13 it is priced at $17.95): based on marechal foch and baco noir grapes, this wine comes loaded with the intensity of rustic red fruit and mocha tones, tempered by deftly placed wood notes. Try with roasts. A previous vintage was OWA Gold Medal 2018 and All Canadian Wine Championships Gold Medal 2018. 14g/L residual sugar and 12.5% ABV. Cork closure. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
2.Sandbanks Baco Noir Reserve 2019 VQA Ontario +225920 LCBO, $19.95 (but as a Limited Time Offer from October 12 to November 5 it is priced at $17.95): plenty of full-bodied black fruit here, displaying also some mocha in its development. Some light barrel aging as well. Best with grilled meats. A previous vintage was OWA Bronze Medal 2018 and All Canadian Wine Championship Double Gold 2018. 13 g/L residual sugar and 12.5% ABV. Cork closure. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
3.Sandbanks Route 33 Red (Merlot-Petit Verdot) NV VQA Ontario +17370 LCBO, $19.95: another full-bodied wine, loaded with charm and character reminiscent of typical Bordeaux. The bi-varietal blend is merlot and petit verdot (both commonly used in Bordeaux), all showing red cherry-berry aromatics and textures coupled with some oak tones from extended barrel aging. Plummy too. Best with strong cheeses or sauced meats. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
4.Sandbanks Route 33 White (Riesling-Pinot Grigio) NV VQA Ontario +17369 LCBO, $14.95: another bi-varietal with dry tropical fruit notes and crispness, slightly herbal complexity, with a lemon-lime finish. Very useful in a reliable sense. 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
5.Sandbanks Pinot Grigio 2018 VQA Ontario +372219 LCBO, $15.95: this is a competitive category, but Sandbanks goes up very well against other grigios in Ontario. Typical nuances include orchard fruit (peach, pear, apple) with some aromatic tropical overtones. It is refreshing on the mid-palate, finishing with citric notes. 8 g/L residual sugar and 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
 
6.Sandbanks Beach Riesling NV VQA Ontario +139022 LCBO, $14.95: a very decent seafood-ready consistent wine in the riesling tradition of petrol and minerals augmented by the range of orchard fruit found in nectarines, plums, apricots, and peaches, ending with a lemony citric crispness. 16G/L resideual sugar and 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
7.Sandbanks Smugglers White NV VQA Ontario +648642 LCBO, $13.95: a nifty blend of vidal and pinot grigio, with a very light colour but lifted aromatics of pineapple and orchard fruit, following through on the mid-weight palate and ending with a citric finish appropriate for food. 7g/L residual sugar and 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
 
8.Sandbanks Summer Rose NV VQA Ontario +14867 LCBO, $14.95: this is vidal with skin contact, so the appearance is almost like an orange wine – which makes it sort of trendy. It's also a seasonal release, so when it is gone, it is gone. And it is also lightly sparkling but kept under a twist top. The suggestion on the label is to chill it, not only for the flavour as a white wine but also to stop any bubbles from gushing. Dominating flavours include nectarines and oranges with other tropical notes, right through to the finish. 31 g/L residual sugar, 11.6% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
9.Sandbanks Rose 2019 VQA Ontario +244616 LCBO, $13.95 (but as a Limited Time Offer from September 14 to October 11 it is priced at $11.95 – just in time for Thanksgiving): this is mostly vidal with some gamay, pinot noir, and muscat blanc. It is lightly tasty with an emphasis on floral bouquet. It has a great balance between sweet and tart flavours, within the peachy-citric range. Lovely finish. A previous vintage was All Canadian Wine Championships Silver Medal 2018. 12g/L residual sugar and 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.

May we all have 2020 vision.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for SEPTEMBER 5, 2020

 
WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for SEPTEMBER 5, 2020
 
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. My "Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net", a guide to thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits, has been at http://www.deantudor.com since 1994.
 
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at http://www.gothicepicures.blogspot.ca  or at  http://www.deantudor.com No winery can buy their way into – or out of – this publication.
 
Scores are a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, e.g. a Southern Rhone would taste like a Southern Rhone) and QPR (Quality/Price Ratio value in the marketplace above or below its price).
 
Currently, the wine media have no access to the tasting samples usually provided to us in the LCBO lab on a fortnightly basis. This will go on or some time. HOWEVER,  the wine media will still have access to the advance spreadsheet of the wines to be released. So I know what is to be released and when. SOME (but not many) of these wines I have recently tasted since January 2020 or so, and I can comfortably recommend them based on this prior sampling.
 
SOME RECENT SPARKLING ROSE WINES TASTED --
 
Wines are either at the LCBO (CSPC given) or the winery. Wines are arranged randomly.
 
**DEAN'S CHOICE "best sparkling wine" was Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Brut Rose Champagne NV $99.95 +158550 (personal rating of 93-94).
 
**DEAN'S CHOICE "best sparkling wine value" was Colio Estate Wines Lily Sparkling Rosé NV $17.95 +536565 VQA Ontario (92)
 
I did not rate Leitz Eins-Zwei-Zero    NV Rheingau    Pinot Noir Sparkling $12.95 LCBO  +12549 as it has no alcohol, but it certainly tastes magnificent for 0% ABV, and of course it is in a category by itself.
 
Producer    Product Name    Vintage    Price    LCBO #     Country    Region    Grape Varieties    Alc. %
 
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Laurent-Perrier    Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Brut Rose    NV    $99.95 +158550    Champagne    Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier    12%    LCBO Vintage Essentials
-Huff Estates Winery    Cuvee Janine Rose    2017    $30    +405035    Canada    PEC (VQA PEC)    Pinot Noir     12.5%    Winery/Online   
-Chateau des Charmes    Rose Sparkling    2014    $34.95        Canada    Niagara    Pinot Noir & Chardonnay    12%    Online, Winery
-Colio Estate Wines    Lily Sparkling Rosé    N/A    $17.95     +536565    Canada    VQA Ontario    90% Riesling 10% Cabernet Franc    12%    LCBO    Year Round   
-Gruet Sparkling Brut Rose NV Method Champenoise New Mexico $26.95 +15686 pinot noir 12%  Vintages
-Flat Rock Cellars    Crowned Sparkling Brut    2015    $45.00    Niagara Peninsula    Pinot Noir    12%    Winery Only    New Release   
-Bottega Spa    Bottega Vino Dei Poeti Brut Rose    NV    $14.95     +277202    Italy    Veneto    Pinot Nero    11.5%    LCBO
 
 
Under $20
======
 
W+68015    FLAT ROCK UNPLUGGED CHARDONNAY    Certified sustainable, VQA Niagara Peninsula    2019    $17.95 MVC/QPR:  89
W+557165    HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE RIESLING    Certified sustainable, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2019    $19.95     MVC/QPR: 90
W+225557    ERADUS SAUVIGNON BLANC    Awatere Valley, Marlborough, South Island    2019    $19.95 MVC/QPR: 89
W+15614    REMY PANNIER VOUVRAY    AC    2018    $19.95     MVC/QPR: 89
R+168708    FERRATON PÈRE & FILS SAMORËNS CÔTES DU RHÔNE    AC    2018    $16.95     MVC/QPR:  92
R+323741    ROBERT OATLEY SIGNATURE SERIES CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Margaret River, Western Australia    2018    $19.95 MVC/QPR: 89
Rose+117861    FEATHERSTONE ROSÉ Sur lie, VQA Niagara Peninsula    2019 $15.95  MVC/QPR: 89
 
Over $20
======
 
W+258186    ROBERT MONDAVI RESERVE CHARDONNAY    Carneros, Napa Valley    2017    $61.95     MVC/QPR: 89
W+520403    BACHELDER WISMER WINGFIELD OUEST VINEYARD  CHARDONNAY    VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2017    $47.95 MVC/QPR: 89
R+157347    ENRICO SERAFINO BARBARESCO    DOCG    2016    $29.95     MVC/QPR: 90
R+15084    SARTORI RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE    120th anniversary bottling, DOC    2015    $29.95 MVC/QPR: 91
R+719211    CLINE ANCIENT VINES ZINFANDEL    Contra Costa County    2017    $26.95  MVC/QPR: 89
R+127712    FERRATON PÈRE & FILS LA MATINIÈRE CROZES-HERMITAGE    AC    2017    $26.95 MVC/QPR: 89
Sparkling+460865    CAVE DE LUGNY BRUT BLANC DE BLANCS CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE    Traditional method, AC, Burgundy, France     $22.95 MVC/QPR: 89
Port+216424    POÇAS COLHEITA PORT    DOP Douro, Portugal    2003    $45.95 MVC/QPR: 89
 
May we all have 2020 vision.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Sunday, August 30, 2020

* THE REISSUES, THE REPRINTS, AND THE NEWER EDITIONS...

* THE REISSUES, THE REPRINTS, AND THE NEWER EDITIONS...
  ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 
...all reflect a boom in the cookbook publishing business. A paperback reprint will lower the cost to the purchaser, and also give a publisher a chance to correct egregious errors or add a postscript. Some will reissue a book in paper covers with a new layout or photos. Others will rearrange existing material to present it as more informative text while keeping the focus tight. Some magazines will reissue popular or classic recipes in an "easy" format. Here are some recent "re-editions"...
 
 
10.PASTA PERFECT (Ryland Peters & Small, 2017, 2020, PASTA SECRETS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2017, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-818-5 $19.95 USD hardbound) is by Laura Santini, an award-winning food writer for "Easy Tasty Italian" and "At Home with Umami". It was originally published in 2017 as "Pasta Secrets". Here, for 70 preps, she uses fresh pasta, so she's got the basics on how to make pasta and gnocchi (but no cavetelli), as well as tips and advice through the first quarter of the book. The rest is all about the sauces (but not all are Italian), which she has conveniently isolated into four parts as quick and easy, funghi and veggies, fish and seafood, and meat and poultry. The book could have been improved if it also used much more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Some interesting or unusual recipes include quick pad Thai; Singapore- style; ricotta, green olive and basil; raw avocado carbonara; mushroom ragu; classic pesto genovese. But do we actually need another pasta book, even if it is fresh pasta?Quality/price rating: 86.
 
 
11.DELICIOUS DIPS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2017, 2020, 64 pages, $13.95 hardbound) is a publisher's collection of some 50 recipes for dips from fresh and tangy to rich and creamy, using meats, legumes, veggies, herbs, olives, nuts, seeds, yogurt and cheese. Something for all, from 13 different UK food writers, principally Hannah Miles (with 15 preps).
 
 
12.HOW TO DICE AN ONION (Dog 'n' Bone, 2020, 128 pages, $14.95 hardbound) is by Anne Sheasby. These are hacks, tips and tricks for the home cook, originally published in 2007 as "Kitchen Wisdom".  Scores and scores of fail-safes will reward the budding home cook, offering assistance in all aspects of cookery. The best tips are those that try to correct your mistakes; next best are those tricks that employ substitution. It's an easy read, but try to dip into it often for reminders.
 
 
13.PINK GIN (Ryland Peters & Small, 2020, 64 pages, $14.95 hardbound) is a collection of some 30 or so pink-hued cocktails. Most of the preps come from Julia Charles, with some more from Laura Gladwin. It's an open-and-shut slender work, with the recipes scattered among three categories: cocktails, sparklers, and coolers. Most call for "pink gin" but you can use regular gin and add your own colouring, if need be (grenadine, cranberry juice, rose/red wine).
 
 
14.ILLUSTRATED STEP-BY-STEP BAKING (DK Books, 2011, 2020, 544 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-9431-3, $40 USD oversized hard covers) is a lush and plush book for those beginners (or even experienced cooks) who have a fear of baking. These are easy-to-follow recipes with more than 1500 photos of techniques and final plating. Caroline Bretherton has a UK café and has worked in television cooking shows; she beings that Brit sensibility to the details. There are 80 classic preparations here, with a further 250 variations based on transferable skills and substitutions. She also has some classics without variations, such as buttermilk biscuits, pumpkin pie and devils food cake. There are cakes, pastries, cookies, soufflés, cheesecakes, pies, tarts, savouries, and breads (all yeasted or flat or quick). There's an indication of quantities, time in preparing, and time in baking. And metric tables of equivalents to balance the mix of metric and avoirdupois listing of ingredients. The book could have been improved if it also used more volume metric in the recipes. But still a great book for all the stay-home covid-19 avoiders who are baking. Quality/price rating: 89.
 
 
15.BIG NIGHT IN (Ryland Peters & Small, 2020, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-192-2 $19.95 USD hardbound) is a publisher's collection of recipes from the RPS stable of cookbook authors. The idea here is to have themed menus to cook and eat at home (whenever social distancing stops), to stay home with friends and/or family, and enjoy a meal with a pre-set unusual menu – and presumably save money, especially on alcohol. Sarah Vaughan compiled the recipes which were contributed by 32 different writers (headed by Jenny Linford with 17 preps, while Miranda Ballard and Carole Hilker have 11 apiece). There are 19 themed menus, including a vegan celebration, an indoor picnic, a curry and beer night, and a scandi fish affair. Most intriguing is avocadelicious. Great idea, great fun. Each menu are three courses plus drinks. The book could have been improved if it also used more volume metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Very useful for the better times to come, although the current rules do allow for five people congregating together with social distancing – two couples are all doable in most homes. Just tailor the menu down a bit.  Quality/price rating: 89
 
 
 
16.SMOKE & SPICE; recipes for seasonings, rubs, marinades, brines, glazes & butters (Ryland, Peters & Small, 2013, 2020, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-206-6, $19.95 USD hard covers) is by Valerie Aikman-Smith, a food stylist (film, TV, books) and writer (magazines, books). It was originally published in 2013. The 90 preps here emphasize the flavours to be added to the BBQ grill. For example, for pork, try the smoky chili BBQ sauce or the bourbon glazed pork chops or the szechuan rub (also the Cajun crispy pork belly). Pork also needs an apple cider brine. Moving to lamb, there's lavender salt
crusted leg of lamb, mint and lemon kebabs, pomegranate rack of lamb with harissa sauce, or date lamb tagine. Others: cherry-glazed duck skewers, Jamaican jerk chicken, spiced red snapper, caramelized beet tatin with marinated goat cheese, or matahambre beef
marinade. The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 89.

May we all have 2020 vision.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for AUGUST 22, 2020

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for AUGUST 22, 2020
 
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. My "Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net", a guide to thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits, has been at http://www.deantudor.com since 1994.
 
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at http://www.gothicepicures.blogspot.ca  or at  http://www.deantudor.com No winery can buy their way into – or out of – this publication.
 
Scores are a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, e.g. a Southern Rhone would taste like a Southern Rhone) and QPR (Quality/Price Ratio value in the marketplace above or below its price).
 
Currently, the wine media have no access to the tasting samples usually provided to us in the LCBO lab on a fortnightly basis. This will go on or some time. HOWEVER,  the wine media will still have access to the advance spreadsheet of the wines to be released. So I know what is to be released and when. SOME (but not many) of these wines I have recently tasted since January 2020 or so, and I can comfortably recommend them based on this prior sampling.
 
Some Great ROSE Wines Tasted Over Summer, still available ---
 
These rose wines are either at the LCBO (CSPC given) or the winery or consignment/private order. Here are my personal faves; wines that I will actually buy. Scores are 91+  !!
 
**DEAN'S CHOICE BEST VALUE - Bodega Argento    Argento Rose 2019    $10.95 +13245  Mendoza    85% syrah/malbec/cabernet franc, 14% pinot grigio 12.5% LCBO Seasonal Rose (92+)
 
**DEAN'S CHOICE BEST DOMESTIC – a tie! WITH The Foreign Affair Winery Amarosé 2019    $19.95 Vintages +388702  Niagara Peninsula Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay Noir    12.2%  July 25 (91)
      and Flat Rock Cellars Pink Twisted     2019    $17.95  +39974 Niagara Peninsula    Pinot Noir, Gamay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer    11%    LCBO (91)
 
**DEAN'S CHOICE BEST IMPORT - Caves d'Esclans Whispering Angel Rose     2019    $62.95 +491019   AOC COTES DE PROVENCE  13% LCBO Vintages 11-Jul-20  (93)
 
**** BEST ROSE WINES -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
Producer    Product Name    Vintage    Price    LCBO #     Country    Region    Grape Varieties    Alc. %
 
-Chateau d'Aqueria Tavel Rose    2019    $24.95     +319368    France    Rhone Valley    Grenache    13.5%    LCBO Vintages
-Caves d'Esclans    Whispering Angel Rose     2019    $62.95     +491019    France     AOC COTES DE PROVENCE     13%    LCBO Vintages    11-Jul-20
-Caves d'Esclans    ROCK ANGEL     2019    $49.95    +491027    France     AOC COTES DE PROVENCE    14%    LCBO Vintages
-When Pigs Fly    Rose    2018    $19.95 Ontario VQA Vinemount Ridge    pinot noir Vieni Vineyard    13%
-Caves d'Esclans    THE PALM BY WHISPERING ANGEL    2019    $24.95    +562595    France     AOC COTEAUX D'AIX EN PROVENCE    13%    LCBO Vintages
-AIX Rosé    2019     $24.95     +451906    France    Provence    Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault    13%    LCBO Vintages
-Bieler Pere & Fils     Sabine Rose    2018    $18.95    +867358    France    Provence    Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Cab Sauv, Rolle    13%    Consignment, always available    P. Dandurand
-Faulkner Wines  Jules Rose    2018    $19.99     NA    France    Provence    Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet Sauv, 12.5% Consignment, Always available     Noble Estates Wines & Spirits
-Vignerons de Chusclan    MAESTRAL ROSE    2019     $16.45     +15135    France    IGP GARD    Grenache,Syrah,Merlot    13.50%    LCBO Vintages
-Frescobaldi    Alie     2018    $22.95    +865147 Tuscany    Syrah with a touch of Vermentino    12.5%    Consignment, Always available     Dandurand
-Sacred Hill     Whitecliff Hawkes Bay Rose    2019     $14.95  +13297    New Zealand    Hawkes Bay     12.5%    LCBO
-Kim Crawford    Rose    2019    $18.95    +650325    New Zealand    Hawke's Bay    67% Merlot, 29.5% Sauvignon Blanc, 1.3% Pinot Gris, 1.2% Malbec, 0.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 0.3% Cabernet Franc    13%    LCBO
-Bodega Argento    Argento Rose    2019    $10.95    +13245     Mendoza    85% syrah/malbec/cabernet franc, 14% pinot grigio    12.5%    LCBO    Seasonal Rose
-Charles Smith Wines    Band of Roses    2018    $11 USD        Washington State            12.5%           
-Saintly    The Good Rose    2019    $17.95        Niagara    12.5%    Wine Rack        
-Huff Estates Winery    County Roads Rose    2019    $25    PEC (VQA PEC)    Pinot Noir     12%    Winery/Online
-The Foreign Affair Winery    Amarosé    2019    $18.95    Vintages +388702     Niagara Peninsula    Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay Noir    12.2%  LCBO by July 25
-Flat Rock Cellars    Pink Twisted    2019    $17.95    +39974     Niagara Peninsula    Pinot Noir, Gamay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer    11%    LCBO
-Gerard Bertrand    Hampton Water    2019    $29.95    +667337    Languedoc    syrah, cinsault, mourvedre,grenache    14%    LCBO Vintages     2020-07-11       
-UP Ultimate Provence    Rose    2019    $27.95    +14833    Provence    grenache, cinsault, syrah, rolle    12.5%    Vintages            
 
Under $20
=========
W+328559    CATHEDRAL CELLAR CHARDONNAY    WO Western Cape    KWV    2016    $17.95       
MVC/QPR:  93
W+650275    JACKSON-TRIGGS RESERVE SPARKLING MOSCATO Charmat method, VQA Ontario 2019    $19.95    MVC/QPR: 89
W+341586    FEATHERSTONE FOUR FEATHERS    VQA Niagara Peninsula        2019    $14.95    MVC/QPR: 90
W+958736    MUGA BARREL FERMENTED WHITE    DOCa Rioja        2018    $17.95 MVC/QPR:  91
R+328567    CATHEDRAL CELLAR CABERNET SAUVIGNON WO Western Cape  KWV        $15.95    MVC/QPR: 90
R+272575    GÉRARD BERTRAND GRAND TERROIR TAUTAVEL    AP Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2018    $19.95    MVC/QPR: 90
R+15977    PLANTAGENET LIONS' CIRCLE SHIRAZ    Great Southern, Western Australia        2017    $17.95    MVC/QPR: 89
 
Over $20
=========
W+268342    HENRY OF PELHAM ESTATE CHARDONNAY    VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment    $21.95     MVC/QPR: 92
R+382325    RODNEY STRONG RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON    Sonoma County        2015    $69.95 MVC/QPR: 91
R+297945    CHÂTEAU LAROSE-TRINTAUDON Cru Bourgeois, AC Haut-Médoc 2009    $30.95    MVC/QPR: 92
W+378570    SPERLING VISION SERIES CHARDONNAY    BC VQA Okanagan Valley        2017    $34.95    MVC/QPR: 92
R+976662    FAUSTINO I GRAN RESERVA    DOCa Rioja    2008    $31.95     MVC/QPR: 91

May we all have 2020 vision.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Friday, August 14, 2020

* MORE FOOD AND DRINK BOOKS

* MORE FOOD AND DRINK BOOKS
  ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 
3.VENETIAN REPUBLIC (Interlink Publishing Group, 2020, 256 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is by Nino Zoccali, chef-owner of some Italian restaurants in Sydney Australia. He has written before on diverse cuisines of Italy. These recipes here come from the days when Venice was a world power, the centre of the spice/salt/silk  trade routes. The four key regions were: Venice and the lagoon islands, the surrounding Veneto, the Croatian coast, and the Greek Islands (Santorini, Cyprus, Crete, Corfu, et al). Hence, we have Venetian  Prosecco and snapper risotto, Croatian roast lamb shoulder with olive oil potatoes, Cretan sweet and sour red mullet, Corfu's zabaglione, and Dubrovnik's ricotta and rose liqueur crepes. It's all arranged by the regions, with sub-arrangement by course (from antipasti to dolci). And it has a whack of history/culture behind each prep. Loaded with mostly pictures of finished plates, but there are also some maps and tourist attractions. Quality/Price Rating: 90
 
 
 
4.THE SICILY COOKBOOK (DK Publishing, 2020, 240 pages, $39 hardbound) is by Cettina Vicenzino who was born in Sicily and grew up in Germany. She is a cook, food photographer, and writer, and has written several books on Italian and Sicilian cuisine. Three types of food  are here --cucina povera (peasant food), cibo di strada (street food), and cucina dei monsù (sophisticated food). It's part cookbook and part travel, with loads of her own photos  and cultural/gastronomical notes emphasizing local chefs and food producers. The arrangement is by course, primi (Sicilian cuisine doesn't include  antipasti) pasta, through secondi mains and piatto unico, intermezzi, and dolci. She's got a few non-alcoholic drinks and some wine. In all, the vast majority of her 70 preps use local spices, citrus,  cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and seafood. This is a real treat for Sicilian food lovers, featuring ricotta dumplings in an orange and tomato sauce, stuffed sardines, salt cod, and grilled octopus with ricotta hummus. 
Quality/Price Rating: 90
 
 
 
5.ARAN (Hardie Grant Books, 2019, 240 pages, $42.50 hardbound) is by Flora Sheddon, who became the youngest ever semi-finalist on The Great British Bake Off Baking Show in 2015. She runs Aran bakery in Dunkeld, Highland Perthshire. She has also written a weekly baking column for the Sunday Telegraph. These are recipes and stories from a bakery in the heart of Scotland. Material includes the origins of the bakery (aran is Scottish Gaelic for bread or loaf) and a day in its life from dawn to dusk. There is location photography plus a slew of recipes for breakfast, lunch and High Tea. Typical are a pork, apple and sage sausage roll, and apricot and almond frangipani. Try also chocolate oat cookies, pear, coffee and hazelnut cake, and pomegranate and raspberry financiers. An impressive giftbook for the stay-home baker in your life. Quality/Price Rating: 90
 
 
6.WINNER! WINNER! CHICKEN DINNER; 50 winning ways to cook it up (Storey Publishing, 2020, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-63586-156-3 $16.95 USD paperbound) is by food editor Stacie Billis, who appears on Rachel Ray, TODAY, and the Washington Post. Chicken, according to the USDA, is now more popular than beef in the USA. So she's got 50 recipes plus variations for various forms: roast, grill (my fave), slow cook, instant pot, braise, stew, and even sheet pan. Many can be interchangeable, and of course can be made into leftovers (separate chapter here). The book is full of ideas and kitchen hacks. The book could have been improved if it had also used metric in the recipes, but at least it had a metric conversion chart.
Audience and level of use: beginners, those stuck at home.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: BBQ chicken pizza; grilled chicken and mango salad; jerk chicken; peachy siracha sticky wings; guacamole burgers; ten-minute tostadas.
The downside to this book: I wanted more recipes.
The upside to this book: there's a long section on how to cut up a chicken and do most of the work yourself (saves money)
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
 
 
 
7.HEALTHY ONE PAN DINNERS (Alpha Books, 2020, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-4656-9266-1 $19.99 USD paperbound) is by Dana Angelo White, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant who works with FoodNetwork.com and her own website, developing and analyzing food for athletes. Here she gives us 100 preps for one-pot dinners using a sheet pan, skillet, Dutch oven, baking dish, multi-cooker or slow cooker. She describes each of these with regard to benefits, cleaning up, proper sizing, and of course their best usage. Her basic ten ingredients include boneless and skinless chicken thighs, salmon, lean ground beef or turkey, eggs, and seasonal veggies – along with a kitchen pantry of some 20 different staples. Each prep has both easy instructions and nutritional data (the latter, as always, in metric, while the former is in Imperial measurements). The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart.
Audience and level of use: beginners; those stuck at home during lockdown.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: baked pasta primavera; sweet and spicy lamb tagine; lemon-thyme Dutch baby with smoked salmon; hash brown quiche; teriyaki shrimp stir fry; watermelon panzanella with fresh mint; sweet potato coconut stew.
The downside to this book:
The upside to this book:
Quality/Price Rating: 86.

May we all have 2020 vision.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for AUGUST 8, 2020

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for AUGUST 8,  2020
 
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. My "Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net", a guide to thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits, has been at http://www.deantudor.com since 1994.
 
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at http://www.gothicepicures.blogspot.ca  or at  http://www.deantudor.com No winery can buy their way into – or out of – this publication.
 
Scores are a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, e.g. a Southern Rhone would taste like a Southern Rhone) and QPR (Quality/Price Ratio value in the marketplace above or below its price).
 
Currently, the wine media have no access to the 50 or so tasting samples usually provided to us in the LCBO lab on a fortnightly basis. This will go on or some time. HOWEVER,  the wine media will still have access to the advance spreadsheet of the wines to be released. So I know what is to be released and when. SOME (but not many) of these wines I have recently tasted since January 2020 or so, and I can comfortably recommend them based on this prior sampling.
 
Some New Wines Tasted Over the Past Fortnight ---
 
1.Henry of Pelham Old Vines Baco Noir 2019 VQA Ontario, +459966, $19.95 LCBO General List: Same price as the last vintage. 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 two years for proper aging, but with decanting it can be enjoyed now. 13.5% ABV. One of the top baco noirs at the LCBO for under $20. Works best with pronounced meats such as pork/boar, lamb, wild game – all either braised or grilled. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
2.Sartori Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore DOC 120th 2015, +15084, Vintages September  $29.95: this is a limited release, to celebrate the company's 120th anniversary. The mix includes corvina veronese (55%), corvinone (25%), plus croatina and rondinells. It was done up in stainless steel fermentation to which malolactic fermentation was employed. And then the second fermentation of ripasso began on the unpressed skins of the Amarone leftover. It was all aged in medium and large oak casks for 24 months, and then blended with a cuvee selection. Red fruit dominates, especially ripe cherries and a twist of savouriness near the deep, deep finish. Great with red meats and older cheese. 14% ABV. If you're going to spend $39 on a better ripasso valpolicella, then this is the one to get. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
3.Henry of Pelham Riesling Estate 2019 VQA Short Hills Bench, +557165 Vintages, $19.95 Vintages September: intense riesling in a Rhine style of cool fermentation, with very off-dry palate but dry finish (good acid levels on the finish) – broad grapefruit and lemons on the mid-palate, sip (mainly) or food. 9.8% ABV, 19.5 g/L RS, twist top, from HOP's oldest Estate riesling vineyards (planted 1984). Should also age well. Try with fish that live in water but die in wine. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
4.Ferraton Pere & Fils Samorens Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge 2018 AOC +168708, $16.95 Vintages September: a very good bargain wine (it costs a lot more in the USA), especially for its depth and intensity. Very meaty on the approach and full of saturated flavours on the mid-palate. Grenache is the main grape (85%), with syrah (10%) and cinsault (5%). Yet it does not have that papery taste of most French grenache .. it is more like Cannonau di Sardegna. Red fruit dominates. 14.5% ABV. There is also a very aromatic Blanc wine, not yet available in Ontario. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
SPECIAL FINDS FOR AUGUST 8, 2020 --
 
Sparkling+438200    WESTCOTT VIOLETTE SPARKLING    Charmat method, VQA Ontario    2019    $25.95 MVC/QPR: 90
Rose+557611    MEIOMI ROSÉ    Monterey/Sonoma/Santa Barbara counties    2018    $27.95 MVC/QPR: 89
Rose+493171    OYSTER BAY ROSÉ    Marlborough, South Island    2019    $19.95 MVC/QPR: 89
Rose+490904    SAINT AIX ROSÉ    AP Coteaux-d'Aix-en-Provence    2019    $48.95    MVC/QPR: 90
Rose+556274    MARQUIS D'AQUERIA TAVEL    AP    2019    $19.95    MVC/QPR: 91
 
Under $20
=========
W+ 80234    FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING    VQA Niagara Peninsula 2019        $18.95    MVC/QPR: 90
W+519025    FEATHERSTONE PHOENIX VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment    2019    $18.95    MVC/QPR: 89
W+315119    JEAN GEILER PINOT GRIS    AC Alsace    2018    $19.95     MVC/QPR: 90
W+391847    THIERRY DELAUNAY TOURAINE SAUVIGNON BLANC    AP    2019    $16.95
MVC/QPR:  89
W+484139    DOMAINE DU TARIQUET SAUVIGNON BLANC    Vegan, IGP Côtes de Gascogne    2019    $13.95 MVC/QPR: 89
W+13000    GÉRARD BERTRAND TERROIR PICPOUL DE PINET    AC    2019    $16.95     MVC/QPR: 90
W+15716    SWARTLAND TERRE NOIR CHENIN BLANC    WO Swartland    2018    $16.95
MVC/QPR: 89
R+479303    IVORY & BURT ZINFANDEL    Lodi    2017    $19.95    MVC/QPR: 90
R+12281    CHÂTEAU DE RIBEBON    AC Bordeaux Supérieur 2016 $15.95  MVC/QPR: 89
 
Over $20
=========
W+10421    ASTROLABE SAUVIGNON BLANC    Sustainable, AMW, Marlborough, South Island    2019    $24.95     MVC/QPR: 89
R+14880    DOMAINE DE LA PLAIGNE MOULIN-À-VENT    AC    2016    $20.95     MVC/QPR:89
R+14584    SARTORI 120TH ANNIVERSARY VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE    DOC    2016    $24.95  MVC/QPR: 90
R+568899    LUIGI BOSCA TERROIR LOS MIRADORES MALBEC    Uco Valley, Mendoza    2017    $34.95     MVC/QPR: 90

May we all have 2020 vision.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Some New Wines Tasted Over the Past Fortnight

Some New Wines Tasted Over the Past Fortnight ---
 
1.Gerard Bertrand Reserve Speciale Viognier 2018 IGP Pays d'Oc, +147975, $14.95 Vintages July: [This a re-order]....aromatic but on the dry side, perfect as a social wine or for first course. Expect peachy and orange character, but of course no oak. Youthful and useful with nuances of orchard fruit and spicy nuts. No malolactic fermentation. Could go either way with or without food, hence versatile. 13.5% ABV, cork closure. Quality/Price rating is 89.5 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
2.Henry of Pelham Pinot Grigio Classic 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +250217 LCBO, $14.95: a wine made in the pinot gris style (Oregon, Alsace) but labeled pinot GRIGIO should sell well for those looking at a pinot grigio with some kick. Grigio has a reputation of being the vodka of wine, but here it is done up as a fairly complicated off-dry wine with layers being revealed as the wine chills down or warms up. One time it has tropicality then it becomes more citrus with more chilling. That makes it a sipper and a food wine, suitable for pre-prandial in the winter or spring. Of note is its slight tinge of orange colour (aha, another "orange" wine!!) from the grape – it is "gris" after all. Some part of the juice was from warmer regions in Niagara, other parts came from a cooler regions. There is some Ontario cranberry tartness and some melon sweetness, with some pear notes. Stainless steel all the way. 12% ABV, twist top. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
3.Henry of Pelham Classic Sauvignon Blanc 2019 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +430546 LCBO.
$14.95: good balanced fruit, citric tones, zest, MVC typicity of savvy zestiness. Fresh, 12.2% ABV. Very aromatic with nuances of grassiness both in the nose and on the palate. Medium finish accents of lemon character, melon tones. Best with a lightly aromatic first course of seafood or dairy. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
4.Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot Estate 2016 VQA Short Hills Bench, +395855 Vintages, $24.95: both cabernets franc and sauvignon are used in this Bordeaux-styled blend with merlot, which comes across as a mid-Atlantic version of Cali/Bordeaux New World and Old World. It is still in its youth at 4 years of age, and it would be a shame to consume it this young. You could do what I did: open it and drink it over a couple of weeks, exposing it to air gently or speeding up the process by double-triple decanting. You will get several different wines out of one bottle over the course of time. Extended maceration in stainless, followed by French and US oak (30% new) for 10 months. Match it with grilled meats. 13.5% ABV on label. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
5.Lazzara Bianco Secco Charmat Method NV VQA Ontario, +16789, LCBO $17.95: this is the latest entry in the domestic "prosecco" sweepstakes in Ontario. The wine is named after Julia Lazzara, the Speck brothers' great grandmother. It comes in at a respectable 11.5% ABV. With RS 20.4/gL. Off-dry but with aromatic grape varieties in the mix (and they could change from harvest to harvest). Tried with smoked BBQ ribs. Bubbles really play around via Charmat method. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
6.Ivory &  Burt Old Vine Zinfandel 2017 Lodi, +479303, Vintages August $19.95: very plush style with plum jam, oak lashings, and some herbs on the long engaging finish. Concentrated dark berry fruit tones (black cherry, blackberry), propped up by new US oak for 15% of the production. Sustainable certificate. Best with grilled meats.
15% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
7.Sartori Valpolicella Superiore DOC 120th 2016, +14584, Vintages August $24.95: this is a limited release for the company's 120th anniversary. The mix includes corvina veronese (50%), corvinone (35%), plus croatina and rondinells. About 20% of the must was drawn off to concentrate flavours and tannins; the rest was done up in stainless steel fermentation to which malolactic fermentation was employed. It was all aged in small oak casks for 18 months, and then blended with a cuvee selection. Red fruit dominates, especially ripe cherries and a twist of savouriness near the finish. Great with red meats and older cheese. 13% ABV. If you're going to spend $25 on a better valpolicella, then this is the one to get. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
8.Henry of Pelham Family Tree The Goat Lady Chardonnay 2018 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +16792 LCBO $16.95: in the highly competitive market of chardonnays between $14.95 and $19.95, this one – at a mid-point in that price range – works well. It is part of a new "Family Tree" addition, beyond the current Red and the White. The whole series is under cork, and not screw-cap. Here the Chardonnay has been in US oak for 7 months, and some of it underwent malolactic fermentation. Very much a creamy mouthfeel, almost Californian in style with some coconut tones. 8.79 g/L residual sugar. 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
 
9.Henry of Pelham Family Tree The Padre Cabernet-Merlot 2018 VQA Niagara Peninsula, available only at the HOP winery or online, $21.95: a classic blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot, done up in French style with barrel aging for 16 months in both new and older oak (60% French oak, 40% US oak). 13% ABV. Gobs of fruit and vanillin tones, good entry level. But needs more time – do a double decant or taste over several days.  Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
10.Henry of Pelham Family Tree The Bootlegger Baco Noir 2019 VQA Ontario, +16791, LCBO $17.95: all baco noir, which is the deft signature wine of Henry of Pelham. Twenty percent of it has been barrel aged in all US oak, and 80% done up in stainless steel. This one definitely needs time, and exposure is recommended beyond a double decant. It gets more plummy as it opens up. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
 
11.Henry of Pelham Chardonnay Speck Family Reserve 2018 VQA Short Hills Bench +616466, $29.95 Vintages June 27: Grapes come from their oldest estate vineyards (beginning 1988), hand-picked. Barrel fermented in French oak with a portion in 3000L foudres, and then barrel aged for 8 – 10 months in a mix of new and older barrels. This continues the tradition of Burgundian elegance. Expect some ripeness, balance of oaking and fruit, integrated style in place.  Wood integration produces some creaminess in the finish. 13% ABV, cork closure. Definitely needs another year – or more – in bottle in order to bring out the nuances. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 

May we all have 2020 vision.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com
AND http://gothicepicures.blogspot.com
AND https://twitter.com/gothicepicures

Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada http://winewriterscircle.ca
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.

Friday, July 31, 2020

* THE RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOK...,,

 
...is one of the hottest trends in cookbooks. Actually, they've been around for many years, but never in such proliferation. They are automatic best sellers, since the book can be flogged at the restaurant or TV show and since the chef ends up being a celebrity somewhere, doing guest cooking or catering or even turning up on the Food Network. Most of these books will certainly appeal to fans of the chef and/or the restaurant and/or the media personality. Many of the recipes in these books actually come off the menus of the restaurants involved. Occasionally, there will be, in these books, special notes or preps, or recipes for items no longer on the menu. Stories or anecdotes will be related to the history of a dish. But because most of these books are American, they use only US volume measurements for the ingredients; sometimes there is a table of metric equivalents, but more often there is not. I'll try to point this out. The usual shtick is "favourite recipes made easy for everyday cooks". There is also PR copy on "demystifying ethnic ingredients". PR bumpf also includes much use of the magic phrase "mouth-watering recipes" as if that is what it takes to sell such a book. I keep hearing from readers, users, and other food writers that some restaurant recipes (not necessarily from these books) don't seem to work at home, but how could that be? The books all claim to be kitchen tested for the home, and many books identify the food researcher by name. Most books are loaded with tips, techniques, and advice, as well as gregarious stories about life in the restaurant world. Photos abound, usually of the chef bounding about. The celebrity books, with well-known chefs or entertainers, seem to have too much self-involvement and ego. And, of course, there are a lot of food photo shots, verging on gastroporn. There are endorsements from other celebrities in magnificent cases of logrolling. If resources are cited, they are usually American mail order firms, with websites. Some companies, though, will ship around the world, so don't ignore them altogether. Here's a rundown on the latest crop of such books –
 
 
7.DELISH INSANE SWEETS: bake yourself a little crazy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019, 238 pages, ISBN 978-0-358-19334-9 $22.99 USD hardbound) is by Joanna Saltz and The Editors of Delish. Saltz is the Editorial Director and author of Delish: Eat Like Everyday's the Weekend; Delish is a fast-growing food media brand on the Internet. Here are 130 recipes of sinful desserts, none of them guilt-free. So they are put out there for you...Chapters are sorted by categories such as cookies, brownies, bars, cupcakes, blondies, "giants", and Christmas. Lots of colourful, decorative photos. But the book could have been improved if it had also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart.
Audience and level of use: sugar freaks; millennials
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: death by chocolate cookies, and brownies; inside-out red velvet cookies; s'mores skillet cookie; giant oreo cake; mini eggnog cheesecakes; oatmeal fudge bars.
The downside to this book: no Bakewells (neither tart or pudding).
The upside to this book: great rush of sugar hits.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
 
 
8.THE GAIJIN COOKBOOK: Japanese recipes from a chef, father, eater and lifelong outsider (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019, 256 pages, ISBN  978-1-328-95435-0 $30 USD hardbound) is by Ivan Orkin (author of Ivan Ramen and a TV chef, plus ownership of two restaurants in NYC) and Chris Ying (co-founder of Lucky Peach). "Gaijin" is an outsider to Japan. This is a book of really good Japanese home-cooked foods. He's got a pantry and an ingredient list, plus a contents listing of the recipes by category (such as "rice dishes and dishes to eat over rice", broth and stews, apps, entrees to share, hot pots, noodles, bagels and sandwiches). His home preps are divided by chapters, such as "eat more Japanese", "empathy", "geeking out", "good times", and "New Year's". It's a fun book, encouraging us to eat more Japanese food and involving our kids in prepping and feeding. He has a selection of recipes from the vanishing Japanese diner. Fascinating book, well worth a look. It goes beyond teriyaki, yakitori, and soba...for the better.
The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 88
 

May we all have 2020 vision.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES: under/over $20 for JULY 25, 2020

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP WINES AT VINTAGES:  under/over $20 for JULY 25, 2020
 
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing deantudor@deantudor.com. My "Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net", a guide to thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits, has been at http://www.deantudor.com since 1994.
 
These notes for good wines available through  LCBO Vintages (on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at http://www.gothicepicures.blogspot.ca  or at  http://www.deantudor.com No winery can buy their way into – or out of – this publication.
 
Scores are a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, e.g. a Southern Rhone would taste like a Southern Rhone) and QPR (Quality/Price Ratio value in the marketplace above or below its price).
 
Currently, the wine media have no access to the 50 or so tasting samples usually provided to us in the LCBO lab on a fortnightly basis. This will go on or some time. HOWEVER,  the wine media will still have access to the advance spreadsheet of the wines to be released. So I know what is to be released and when. SOME (but not many) of these wines I have recently tasted since January 2020 or so, and I can comfortably recommend them based on this prior sampling.
 
Some New Wines Tasted Over the Past Fortnight ---
 
1.Stel + Mar Premium Red California +14775 LCBO, $4.95 for 250 mL can: is actually a pretty decent 100% zinfandel from Lodi, vintage 2018 (not listed on the can), with cherry-berry all the way, accented with notes of mocha-vanillin tones. Typically California. The package holds about two glasses, perfect for one or two people on a picnic or back yard, and is the equivalent value of a 750mL bottle selling at $15. 13.7% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 87 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
2.Stel + Mar Premium White California +14776 LCBO, $4.95 for 250 mL can: is actually a very good 100% unoaked chardonnay from The North Coast, also 2018 vintage (not listed on the can). 2019 will in stores soon. By properly making cuvees of the many chardonnay vineyards available, it was possible to get the most out of the wine. It shows some vanilla minerality with some lingering toffee tones, so it goes well with food. Typical ripe orchard fruit on the main palate. Chills really fast. 14.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
3.Stel + Mar Rose Tetra California, +15515 LCBO, 3 Litres (6 x 500mL in tetra, $45.95):  Simple, easy to drink Californian smooth rose, good with picnics of course. The size is right – two-thirds of a bottle, 17 ounces (four drinks). A good idea for a picnic. Pretty basic wine with proper (and quick) chilling. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
4.Stel + Mar Sparkling Rose California 250 mL can (not yet available at LCBO):  The Sparkling Rose (12.5% ABV) is off-dry, but the bubbles are an added attraction. Apparently it is their basic rose (see above, the Tetra) but with bubbles. Bubbles make it so much better. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
5.Toro Centenario Malbec 2019 Mendoza, +12452, $9.60 LCBO: newly arrived with its twist top access. There is only one word needed to describe this wine: plump. It comes from FeCoVitA, one of the largest co-ops in the Argentine (over 5000 winegrowers and producers). In producing a low-cost entry level wine, the co-op got it right with plum, blackberry and black cherry flavours. Nothing fancy, just pure plumpness at 12.5% ABV and a modest sugar level of 7 g/L finishing dry on the palate. Great for today's summery patios. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
 
THIS MONTH'S SPECIAL FINDS --
 
Sparkling+515254    VILARNAU BARCELONA RESERVA BRUT CAVA    Traditional method, DO, Spain        $15.95     MVC/QPR: 90
 
ROSE for the Summer --
 
Rose+388702    THE FOREIGN AFFAIR AMAROSÉ    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2019    $19.95   
MVC/QPR:  91
Rose+15273    ST HALLETT DRY ROSÉ    Barossa Valley, South Australia    2019    $19.95 MVC/QPR: 89
Rose+491019    CHÂTEAU D'ESCLANS WHISPERING ANGEL ROSÉ    AC Côtes de Provence    2019    $62.95 MVC/QPR:  90
Rose+15135    MAESTRAL ROSÉ    IGP Gard    2019    $16.95     MVC/QPR:  91
 
Under $20
=========
W+80234    FEATHERSTONE BLACK SHEEP RIESLING    VQA Niagara Peninsula    ESSENTIAL    $18.95       MVC/QPR:  90
W+707158    ZENATO SAN BENEDETTO LUGANA    DOC    2019    $19.95     MVC/QPR: 89
W+389767    THE FOREIGN AFFAIR CONSPIRACY BIANCO    VQA Niagara Peninsula    2018    $17.95 MVC/QPR: 89
W+520668    CREW FLAGSHIP CHARDONNAY    VQA Lake Erie North Shore    2017    $19.95
MVC/QPR:  89
R+247882    HENRY OF PELHAM FAMILY TREE RED    VQA Ontario    2017    $18.95 MVC/QPR:  89
R+24117    ST HALLETT GAMEKEEPER'S SHIRAZ/GRENACHE/TOURIGA    Barossa, South Australia    2018    $17.95  MVC/QPR:  89
R+434373    CANTINE DUE PALME ETTAMIANO PRIMITIVO    IGP Salento    2018    $19.95 MVC/QPR:  90
 
Over $20
=========
W+425322    WESTCOTT LILLIAS CHARDONNAY    VQA Niagara Escarpment    2019    $24.95        
MVC/QPR:  90

May we all have 2020 vision.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Monday, July 20, 2020

* THE RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOK...

* THE RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOK...
  +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 
...is one of the hottest trends in cookbooks. Actually, they've been around for many years, but never in such proliferation. They are automatic best sellers, since the book can be flogged at the restaurant or TV show and since the chef ends up being a celebrity somewhere, doing guest cooking or catering or even turning up on the Food Network. Most of these books will certainly appeal to fans of the chef and/or the restaurant and/or the media personality. Many of the recipes in these books actually come off the menus of the restaurants involved. Occasionally, there will be, in these books, special notes or preps, or recipes for items no longer on the menu. Stories or anecdotes will be related to the history of a dish. But because most of these books are American, they use only US volume measurements for the ingredients; sometimes there is a table of metric equivalents, but more often there is not. I'll try to point this out. The usual shtick is "favourite recipes made easy for everyday cooks". There is also PR copy on "demystifying ethnic ingredients". PR bumpf also includes much use of the magic phrase "mouth-watering recipes" as if that is what it takes to sell such a book. I keep hearing from readers, users, and other food writers that some restaurant recipes (not necessarily from these books) don't seem to work at home, but how could that be? The books all claim to be kitchen tested for the home, and many books identify the food researcher by name. Most books are loaded with tips, techniques, and advice, as well as gregarious stories about life in the restaurant world. Photos abound, usually of the chef bounding about. The celebrity books, with well-known chefs or entertainers, seem to have too much self-involvement and ego. And, of course, there are a lot of food photo shots, verging on gastroporn. There are endorsements from other celebrities in magnificent cases of logrolling. If resources are cited, they are usually American mail order firms, with websites. Some companies, though, will ship around the world, so don't ignore them altogether. Here's a rundown on the latest crop of such books –
 
 
8.EATING FOR PLEASURE, PEOPLE, & PLANET (Interlink Books, 2020, 240 pages, ISBN 978-1-62371-953-1 $35 USD hardbound) is by Tom Hunt, the award-winning British chef at Poco (UK). He is also a food writer offering ingenuous no-waste recipes. He's also a director or member of several food associations which deal with hunger and poverty. Here his message is basically "eat well, waste nothing", concentrating on sustainable diets for everyday cooking that consider how we farm, trade, eat, and dispose of food. The first part of the book (in 50 pages) deals with a roots-to-fruit manifesto for eating for pleasure, eating whole foods, and eating the best food you can (better farming, Fairtrade). The recipes are divided into morning meals, slow food fast at lunch and dinner, family meals, feats plates, new ways with salads, and sweet treats. At the end there is a "roots-to-fruit" pantry: aquafaba, green sauces, umami powders, kombucha, stocks, barley water, pickles and preserves, apple cider vinegars, bread and pastries, and plant-based milks. The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 90.
 
 
9.BAKING WITH BRUNO; a French baker's North American love story (Whitecap, 2020, 148 pages, ISBN 978-1-77050-332-8 $34.95 CAD paperbound) is by Chef Bruno Feldeisen, a French-born baker and pastry chef with extensive North American west coast experience and multiple TV appearances on the Food Network and CBC, etc. He's always been intrigued by local North American food, and he developed recipes for these plates. He's got a pantry, a tools kit, and the procedures (all laid out for us in the first 30 pages). He begins with jams and sauces before moving on to cookies and sweets, custards, puddings and mousses, followed by cakes and tarts, breads and pies. It's a nifty book, and the photos by Henry Wu do a very good job of illustrating the finished plate, right down to a stray crumb or two. Ingredients are listed in both metric and avoirdupois Imperial, very much appreciated by baking fans. Quality/price rating: 89.
 
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May we all have 2020 vision.
Chimo! www.deantudor.com