Search This Blog

Thursday, January 28, 2010


GOURMET TODAY; more than 1000 all-new recipes for the contemporary
kitchen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009, 1008 pages, ISBN 978-0-618-
61018-1, $40 US hard covers) has been edited by Ruth Reichl. Since the
book was published at the beginning of October, Gourmet magazine has
ceased publication. But Conde Nast still sits on all the recipes and
preps, so it is possible that there could be several Gourmet cookbooks
in the years ahead, a sort of upscale Mark Bittman. Reichl, the last
editor of Gourmet magazine, had edited the previous book which was
published in 2004 to great acclaim. This time, there are entirely new
recipes, and the cover is green, symbolic of sustainable agriculture.
There are two green bookmark ribbons as well, always a handy feature in
trying to keep flipping aside. Anyway, I usually advocate making a
photocopy of the recipe to be used (fair use, single copy, not breaking
any laws). Throughout there are sidebars and cook's notes. OK, here are
the numbers: about 650 preps that can be prepared in 30 minutes or
less, scores of recipes for promoting vegetarian main dishes, about 100
fish and shellfish recipes (all sustainable) with substitutions
mentioned, 100 cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages, hundreds of
illustrations of ingredients and techniques, and much more which can be
found at The mood here is "contemporary",
meaning FESLOS (fast, easy, seasonal, local, organic or sustainable)
Audience and level of use: home cooks, subscribers to the former
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: rabbit braised in red wines;
spiced chicken; cornmeal sugar cookies; babaghanouj; Armenian lamb
pizza; arepas with black beans and feta; eggplant soufflé.
The downside to this book: the book weighs 4.8 pounds, and I'm not sure
if the binding can stand several years of wear and tear.
The upside to this book: if you want a sugar high, there are over 300
desserts covered in this book.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


...are one of the hottest trends in cookbooks.
Actually, they've been around for many years, but never in such
proliferation. They are automatic 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. 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 schtick 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, but how could that be? They 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. But of course there are a
lot of food shots, verging on gastroporn. The endorsements are from
other celebrities in a magnificent case 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 –
12. EARTH TO TABLE; seasonal recipes from an organic farm (Random House
Canada, 2009,326 pages, ISBN 978-0-307-35684-0, $45 Canada hard covers)
is by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann; they both work at the Ancaster
Old Mill. He's Executive Chef (after stints at The Fat Duck and Chez
Panisse); she's Pastry Chef (with numerous awards). Both are heavily
involved in the Slow Food Movement in Canada. Remarkably, the book has
managed to garner logrolling from both Michael Pollan and Deborah
Madison. The authors' stories and passion tell us how to reduce our
carbon footprints through S-L-O, my acronym for "seasonal", "local" and
"organic" where possible. Crump begins by developing a network of
farmers to keep his restaurant's kitchen working. It's just another
step for him and Schormann to grow some local food such as onions and
heirloom wheat. The book is arranged by season, beginning with spring.
Each has a spotlight on something such as compost, seafood, or dairy.
Each has a how-to section such as foraging, canning, farmers' markets.
Each has a profile such as the ones on Thomas Keller (French Laundry)
and Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck). Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric
table of equivalents, a clear sign that the book is moving on to the US
market. He has numerous sidebars, including a list of ten things beyond
the local scene that he cannot do without: olive oil, coffee, vanilla,
rice, citrus fruits, chocolate, et al. With the spring come asparagus,
cherries, dandelion greens, fiddleheads, herbs, salmon, lamb, maple
syrup, morels, new potatoes, peas, radishes, ramps, and rhubarb. His
descriptions are followed by the preps, such as rhubarb fool, sorrel
frittata, cherries affogatto, buttermilk panna cotta, and stinging
nettle linguini. Try also gnudi with ramps, morels and fiddleheads. Or
even squash and sage and pancetta pizza in the fall. Quality/Price
rating: 90.

13. ALL THE BEST RECIPES; 300 delicious and extraordinary recipes
(Robert Rose, 2009, 448 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0223-5, $24.95 US paper
covers) is by Jane Rodmell, a food writer and president of All The Best
Fine Foods, a specialty food and caterer in Toronto's Rosedale area. It
was established in 1984 as one of the locally known Five Thieves (Seven
Thieves if you count two more around the corner). They all closed up
shop a few years back or relocated. The landlord wanted to redo the
buildings. Well, they are back, and Rodmell obviously took the time to
plow through hundreds or preps in her filing cabinet in order to
produce this book. All courses are covered, from soup to desserts, with
party fare and breads as well. Everything is delicious, but
"extraordinary" is too strong a word for every single prep. David Cobb,
who c0-wrote as "Epicure" in Toronto Life for almost 18 years,
contributes some short food essays longer than a sidebar, and which are
thankfully indexed. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both
avoirdupois and metric measurements, so there is no metric table of
equivalents. Try curried scallop cakes, socca with shrimp provencal,
five-grain pomegranate salad, black-eyed pea salad with tomato and
feta, pork loin with apple fennel chutney, and braised butternut squash
and tofu with sesame seeds. Quality/Price rating: 89.

14. THE DEEN BROTHERS TAKE IT EASY (Ballantine Books, 2009, 202 pages,
ISBN 978-0-345-51326-7, $25 US hard covers) is by Jamie and Bobby Deen
with Melissa Clark as the focusing food writer. Paula Deen is their
mother, and in 1996 they opened The Lady and Sons Restaurant in
Savannah. The regularly appear on network TV and had a show on the Food
Network, Road Tasted. This is their third book, and the subtitle says
it all: "quick and affordable meals the whole family will love". Each
meal should take 45 minutes if you are prepared first. Ingredients come
from larger supermarkets, and are used in such preps as baked bow ties
and black-eyed peas, grilled chicken breasts with brown sugar pineapple
rings, or shrimp and grits. Other dishes include variations on tuna
casserole and macaroni and cheese. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric table of
125 recipes in all, emphasizing accessibility, fast techniques
(crockpot, grilling), and children's food. Quality/Price rating: 83.
15. ATLANTIC SEAFOOD; recipes from Chef Michael Howell (Nimbus
Publishing, 2009, 133 pages, ISBN 978-1-55109-728-2, $24.95 Canadian
paper covers) is by Michael Howell, an award-winning chef-owner of
Tempest Restaurant in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Currently, he is also
head of Slow Food Nova Scotia and cooks occasionally at James Beard
House in New York. And, for the purposes of this review, he is my son-
in-law. So there is really nothing more I can say except that the over
50 recipes are all sustainable and ethical. While there is no index,
all the preps are arranged by the name of the seafood, and embrace
mains, starters, salads and grains. He's got char, clams, crab,
haddock, halibut, lobster, mackerel, monkfish, mussels, oysters,
salmon, salt cod, scallops, shrimp, smoked seafood (you might have to
do mail-order here from the list of suppliers he furnishes), sole,
squid, sturgeon, swordfish and tuna. Some of the recipes are
interchangeable. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both
metric and avoirdupois measurements, a good thing. All of the cook's
notes are breezy and informative, and the photography of the finished
plate is superb. Quality/Price rating: conflict of interest (oh, all
right, shameless plug for 88 as a number).

16. BUBBY'S BRUNCH COOKBOOK (Ballantine Books, 2009, 309 pages, ISBN
978-0-345-51163-8 $30 US hard covers) is by Ron Silver (owner of the
Bubby's Pie Company operations in the US and in Japan), with Rosemary
Black, food editor at the New York Daily News. And does it say
something when most of the logrolling comes from movie and TV
celebrities? Here are almost 200 preps (originally announced as 120)
from a fave brunch spot offering classic comfort food. As is typical
with restaurants like this one, no reservations are taken – so there
are hour-long lineups for brunch. He starts with 25 special occasion
brunch menus (with page references to the recipes) for the whole year.
My fave is the Cinco de Mayo brunch, with huevos rancheros and chorizo
sausages. For each he gives an "ideal" range for service, such as 4 to
10 for the Cinco de Mayo, or 6 to 20 for a Farmers' Market Brunch. The
Honeymoon Brunch, of course, is for two. The basics are covered in
chapters dealing with quick breads and muffins, eggs of all kinds,
griddle foods, sandwiches and salads, platters of meats and fish, side
dishes, lots of juices and beverages, and toppings and sauces. So it is
also a decent breakfast and lunch book. There are cook's notes and many
indicated variations. Bubby's signature dishes are clearly indicated.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no metric table of equivalents. Quality/Price rating: 88.

17. STONEWALL KITCHEN BREAKFAST; a collection of great morning meals
(Chronicle Books, 2009, 144 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-6867-9, $19.95 US
hard covers) AND
18. STONEWALL KITCHEN WINTER CELEBRATIONS; special recipes for family
and friends (Chronicle Books, 2009, 144 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-6868-6,
$19.95 US hard covers) are both by Jonathan King and Jim Scott, owners
of the company (founded in 1991) in York, Maine, which sells nationally
distributed jams, sauces, and baking mixes. Kathy Gunst is their
focusing food writer; she also teaches food writing. Both books cover
the same ground as Bubby's (above), but perhaps in a more elegant laid-
back style for the intermediate-level home cook. They run through the
egg dishes, the waffles, the sandwiches, muffins, drinks and so forth
in the breakfast book, indicating the quick and easy recipes. They have
11 menus, with page references, and these could easily do for a brunch
event. The Winter Celebrations is holiday-party foods, beginning with
American Thanksgiving and running through to almost Easter. The 11
menus, again with page references, are extremely useful. Any of these
can also do for brunch, although the roasts will have to be started
earlier. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois
measurements, but there is also a metric table of equivalents.
Quality/Price rating: 89.
19. TOP CHEF: the cookbook (Chronicle Books, 2008, 256 pages, ISBN 978-
0-8118-7347-5, $29.95 US hard covers) is from the first five seasons of
this competitive reality show. It has recipes, interviews, and behind-
the-scenes stories from the US Bravo Channel's hit show. There are
about 100 recipes here, with tips and advice. If you like these kinds
of cooking shows, then this book is for you, especially with its
backstage material. Recipes come from the competitors, and they are
sourced as to which show had the visual attack. Good photo close-ups.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is a metric table of equivalents. Quality/Price rating: 84.

20. EAT ATE (Chronicle Books, 2009, 182 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-7111-2,
$35 US hard covers) is by Guy Mirabella, Italian cookbook author and
operator of the Shop Ate Cafe and Store. This is sort-of a slow food
Italian culinary cultural book, with a combination of recipes, photos,
stories and memoirs related to Italian food and life. His Sicilian
heritage is especially emphasized.
Typical dishes include egg, white anchovies and pancetta salad;
chargrilled chili calamari and radicchio salad; asparagus, gorgonzola
and lemon risotto; lamb with eggplant, tomato and feta salad; broccoli
fritti; and baked mushrooms with broken bread. The large typeface is a
plus, but the list of ingredients in the recipes is on faded ink and
hard to read. Plus the book is also heavy (it can double as an art
book). Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois
measurements, but there is no metric table of equivalents.
Quality/Price rating: 85.

21. THE CONSCIOUS COOK (William Morrow, 2009, 240 pages, ISBN 978-0-06-
187433-8, $29.99 US hard covers) is by Tal Ronnen, whose main claim to
fame lately has been to prepare vegan fare for Oprah Winfrey's 21-day
vegan cleanse. He consults and teaches on vegan menus and in vegetarian
workshops (Le Cordon Bleu). His basic approach is to apply traditional
French culinary techniques to meatless cuisine. But then you run up
against cream, butter and eggs which are some backbones in the French
cooking manner. He uses "cashew cream" as a valid substitute: use raw
cashews (which have no flavour) for the creamy element. The 70 preps
here feature vegan versions of Caesar salad, corn chowder, paella, and
the like. The final plated dishes is photographed. Typical recipes
include lemongrass consomme with pea shoot and mushroom dumplings,
macadamia caprese, peppercorn-encrusted Portobello fillets with yellow
tomato béarnaise and mashed potatoes; agave-lime grilled tofu with
asian slaw and mashed sweet potatoes. There are some nifty desserts, 
(rosemary pine nut brittle), four seasonal dinner party menus, and a
list of his fave vegan restaurants in the US. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric
table of equivalents. Nevertheless, this is a very well-organized and
presented book. Quality/Price rating: 89.
22. FINE TEXAS CUISINE (Gibbs Smith, 2009, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-
0523-2, $30 US hard covers) is by Jon Bonnell, owner-chef of Bonnell's
Fine Texas Cuisine in Dallas/Fort Worth, opened in 2001. He's been
named or nominated for several major awards both locally and
nationally. As a restaurant book, he has several endorsements on the
back cover, most notably from the James Beard Foundation and the Zagat
Survey. Fine Texas cuisine, as defined by Bonnell, is not upscale bones
or Tex-Mex. It is classic cuisine using Texas local ingredients, such
as the Texas 1015 onion, wild game, organic beef, and Gulf of Mexico
seafood. The preps all come from his resto, and are arranged here from
appetizers through desserts. There are no notes on Texas wines which is
a disappointment to me. In fact, there are no notes on any kind of
wines. Dishes include venison carpaccio with green peppercorn dressing,
wild boar chops with peach barbeque sauce, Tequila-flamed quail and
grits, BBQ oysters with Anaheim chill-lime sauce, crispy flounder with
shaved fennel slaw, and sirloin summer steak topped with seared avocado
and smoky salsa. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is a metric table of equivalents.
Quality/Price rating: 85.

23. ALL CAKES CONSIDERED (Chronicle Books, 2009, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-
8118-6781-8, $24.95 US hard covers) has been compiled by Melissa Gray,
a producer for NPR's "All Things Considered". The subtitle says it all:
"a year's worth of weekly recipes tested, tasted, and approved by the
staff of NPR's "All Things Considered" --- how to keep your co-workers
happy, friendly, and fatter than you!". Every Monday Gray brings in a
cake (made from scratch) for her colleagues to try. The emphasis is on
American Southern, from her family or Southern chefs such as Paula Deen
or Stephen Pyles. From the hundreds of cakes that she has done, the
book has 52 or so, all sourced. Each has extensive cook's notes. It is
arranged by ease in chapter one. Chapter two has fruit and spices.
Chapter three has six preps for cookies (why bother?). Chapter four has
the balance: angel food, devil's food, layer cakes, and the like. She
has a list of web resources and a bibliography. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a metric
table of equivalents. This book has a good feel about it. Quality/Price
rating: 87.

24. VANCOUVER COOKS 2 (Douglas and McIntyre, 2009, 250 pages, ISBN 978-
1-55365-261-8, $35 CAD paper covers) is from the Chefs' Table Society
of British Columbia, a collaborative dedicated to creating a foundation
for the exchange of information between culinary professionals. The
emphasis is on education and regional cuisine, with sustainable
programs. Five years ago, they scored with "Vancouver Cooks" (selling
more than 13,000 copies). Now they are back with more, as 70 chefs
contribute about 100 recipes. It's divided into four sections: regional
food, international food, "rising stars", and "culinary vanguard". The
book has been written with the home cook in mind. There are 50 photos
of plated foods for the preps, along with BC wine recommendations (but
with no reasons for the match) for each recipe. Royalties go to the
Chefs' Table Scholarship and Bursary Fund. Check out All preps have been sourced: Sooke Harbour
House's French sorrel apple sorbet, West's squab breast; C Restaurant's
scallops with marinated cucumber; Diva at the Metropolitan Hotel's pan-
seared ling cod; Yuji's spicy curry calamari. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric
table of equivalents. There are pix and bios for each of the chefs
involved. Quality/Price rating: 86.
25. THE BEST OF CHEF AT HOME (Whitecap, 2009, 258 pages, ISBN 978-1-
55285-984-1, $29.95 CAN soft covers) is by Michael Smith, chef-host of
the Food Network Canada's "Chef at Home". It is a follow-up book to his
"Chef at Home". Here he presents the basics (called essential recipes
for today's kitchen), a collection of "everyday comfort foods" such as
mac and cheese, steamed mussels, braised short ribs, pork chops and
apple sauce, grilled chicken, steak and onions, and the like. Each has
been jazzed up a little to give it that extra "oomph": different or
special toppings, a new way to cook it, or a different side. Each has a
cook's note called "freestyle variation". And there are more details at There are over 100 recipes here (much more if
you count the variations). Try Caesar salad with basil, Tuscan steak
salad, penne with smoked salmon and cream cheese sauce, twice-baked
potatoes, chicken stew, ratatouille, or grilled veggies. Preparations
have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois
measurements. Quality/Price rating: 83.
26. MORE DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DIVES (William Morrow, 2009, 249 pages,
ISBN 978-0-06-189456-5, $19.99 US paper covers) is by Guy Fieri, of
Food Network's "Guy's Big Bite, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives". He's also
co-owner of Johnny Garlic's California Pasta Grill and Tex Wasabi's.
Ann Volkwein is the focusing food writer. His first book was  "Diners,
Drive-Ins and Dives", an d this second one is "More" of the same.
Expect the same sassing, the same attitude as the Stearns on steroids.
These are an additional 50 off-the-map places (Bobo Drive-In in Topeka,
Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken in Memphis, Gorilla Barbeque in Pacifica, CA.
The book is arranged by four regions: north, south, Midwest,
west/southwest. Each restaurant has a description with co-ordinates, a
pix or two, notes and comments, and recipes. From Kelly O's diner in
Pittsburgh there is haluski (cabbage and noodles), followed by Fieri's
own Holy Haluski (a hotter version). From the Beacon Drive-In in South
Carolina, there's lightly breaded onion rings and pimento cheese
spread. Schooner or Later in Long Beach. CA there is Schultzie's Mess
(hash browns, ham, pepper, eggs, cheese, salsa, avocado, etc.). Great
fun if you are in the mood for something different. There's a recipe
index by course, and a list of all the restaurants used in the show, in
alphabetical order, with addresses, websites and phone numbers.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no metric table of equivalents. Quality/Price rating: 84.
27. PIZZA & WINE; authentic Italian recipes and wine pairings (Gibbs
Smith, 2009, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-0514-0, $19.99US soft covers)
is by Chef Leonardo Curti, co-proprietor and executive chef at Santa
Ynez's Trattoria Grappolo (founded 1997). He also caters, teaches and
promotes a line of pasta sauces. Everything here from the restaurant
was done in a wood-fired oven, and that makes it hard for home cooks
outside of California where the weather allows year-round ovens in the
back yard. Nevertheless, you can use a conventional oven (with a pizza
stone) or even your grill. He gives us lots of material on types and
varieties of wood-fired ovens. There are the basics of pizza dough and
tomato pasta sauces. He opens with focaccia and sides, moving on to
vegetarian pizzas, meat, and seafood. Variations come next with
calzones, panzerottis, and shiacciatas. Preps come with wine
recommendations that smack of product placement since a winery logo is
used, and not a label. The wines are also indexed separately. The wines
are local to him (Central California), and we don't see many of them in
Canada. Too many non-food or non-relevant photos are included.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is a metric table of equivalents. Quality/Price rating: 81.
28. FRESH WITH ANNA OLSON (Whitecap, 2009, 200 pages, ISBN 978-1-55285-
995-7, $29.95 CAD soft covers) is by the host of the Food Network's
"Sugar" and the new series, "Fresh with Anna Olson". This book
accompanies or is derived from that show, and is a follow-up to her
earlier success "In the Kitchen with Anna". Again, the emphasis is on
Fresh, Easy, Local, Seasonal, and Quick – what we call "FELSQ".
Sometimes it can be "FELSOQ" by adding Organic. And that's the trend in
most cookbooks on the market today. This book has an edge in that it is
Canadian and it comes from a popular TV show. The arrangement is by
season, from spring through winter. For the latter season, you can have
potato soup with bacon and cheddar or perhaps vegetable chowder. For a
light entrée, there are her quesadillas or walnut brie strudel with
ricotta. Try also rosemary roasted lamb with date pistachio salsa, or
Israeli couscous with olives, arugula and feta. What makes the book
work is the variety of cook's notes ("fresh take") for each recipe.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements. Quality/Price rating: 85.
29. COOKING IN CAJUN COUNTRY (Gibbs Smith, 2009, 160 pages, $16.99 US,
ISBN 978-1-4236-0487-7, paper covers) is by Karl Breaux, who has his
own Cajun cooking show on TV (check out Chere
Dastugue Coen is the focusing food writer; she does a weekly food
column. There are about 100 recipes here, all flavourful, some hot and
spicy, some with optional hot sauce. Cajun food is derived from the
immigrant roots of the Acadian diaspora (1755), African, Italian,
Lebanese, and Creole French. He has seven chapters of food from the
regions: Acadian coast, wetlands, upper prairie, lower prairie, Bayou,
southwest Louisiana, and the marshes. Along the way he provides an
engaging culinary history, filled with some anecdotes. In the appendix
he has listed food festivals in Cajun country, Cajun food websites,
Cajun tourism websites, and even a short bibliography for four
important books. Here are the classics: Vacherie chicken creole,
andouille-stuffed pork loin, file gumbo, roux, oyster patties, piquante
sauce, crab rice, Cajun brisket, and pralines – along with the regional
variations. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois
measurements, but there is a metric table of equivalents. Quality/Price
rating: 87.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 23/10 Vintages Release Notes

By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing
"Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net Compendium" is guide to thousands
of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and
spirits, at (since 1995). Creator of Canada's leading wine
satire site at My tastings are based on MVC
(Modal Varietal Character); ratings are QPR (Quality-to-Price Ratio).
Prices are LCBO retail. Only my top rated wines are here. NOTE: The
LCBO does NOT put out all of the wines of the release for wine writers
or product consultants. Corked wines are not available for re-tasting.
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
1. Santa Julia Reserva Chardonnay 2008 Mendoza: slightly above entry
level, creamy, value priced. +932368, $13.95, QPR: 90.
2. Strewn Pinot Blanc 2008 VQA Niagara-on-the-lake: oaked aged for a
dimensional extra, a sort of pinot grigio with attitude. +522748,
$13.95, QPR: 90.
3. Folie a Deux Menage a Trois White 2008 California: sourced from
chardonnay, moscato and chenin blanc grapes for that "je ne sais quoi"
feel. +665166, $17.95, QPR: 90.
4. Yalumba Y Series Pinot Gris 2008 South Australia: twist top, good
body for a pinot gris, longer finish. +138586, $15.95, QPR: 90.
5. Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2008 Casablanca Valley: a
chardonnay with attitude, creamy, some gaminess. +738393, $16.95, QPR:
6. Pierre Sparr Reserve Gewurztraminer 2008 Alsace: 13.5% ABV, spicy
orange complexity from association with the muscat family, slight
bitterness on finish. +747600, $17.95, QPR: 90.
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1. Kaiken Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Mendoza: plumy, dense, but
approachable soon. +143248, $14.95, QPR: 90.
2. Luigi Bosca Reserva Merlot 2006 Mendoza: good oaking, integration
with fruit, delicious. +143289, $16.95, QPR: 90.
3. Santa Julia Magna 2008 Mendoza: good blend of Malbec, cabernet
sauvignon, and syrah, red fruit, and long finish. +93799, $14.95, QPR:
5. Zonte's Footstep Shiraz/Viognier 2007 Langhorne Creek South
Australia: excellent North Rhone style, great price. +72975, $15.95,
QPR: 91.
6. Graham Beck Merlot 2006 WO Coastal Region South Africa: good
chocolate-coffee tones, tasty character. +607804, $15.95, QPR: 90.
7. Leopard's Leap Shiraz 2007 WO Coastal Region South Africa: good MVC
for the price, tastes like a quality syrah. +148213, $12.95, QPR: 90.
8. Chateau Grand Ferrand 2006 Bordeaux Superieur: has that "gout de
Bordeaux" MVC feel. +138693, $14.95, QPR: 90.
9. Pech Matelles Marselan 2008 Vin de Pays des Bouches du Rhone: an
off-dry feel, very cabby, organic, well-produced and well-priced.
+148684, $12.95, QPR: 90.
10. La Reserve de Crouzau St. Gervais 2007 Cotes du Rhone-Villages:
good syrah hit, toothy and full of blackberries and pepper. +142942,
$14.95, QPR: 90.
11. Apollonio Valle Cupa 2001 IGT Salento: wood and raisins, long long
finish, nicely aged south Italy wine. +84046, $19.95, QPR: 90.
12. Azul Portugal Vinho Tinto 2007 Palmela Portugal: well-developed
already, good tasting Euro blend. +146167, $12.95, QWPR: 90.
13. Piedras de San Pedro Loculto 2005 Crianza Ribera del Duero:
excellent, with wood-black fruit-acid integration in play, some
eucalyptus. +147926, $18.95, QPR: 91.
Restaurants should consider offering these FINE VALUE wines at a $10
markup over retail; the wines are ready to enjoy right now. Consumers
should buy these wines to bring to restaurants with corkage programs.
1. Le Clos Jordanne La Petite Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007 VQA Twenty Mile
Bench Niagara, +33944, $40 retail.
2. Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Mendocino/Lake/Napa Counties,
+25080, $23.95.
3. Greg Norman Estates Shiraz/Cabernet 2007 Limestone Coast South
Australia, +586156, $24.95.
4. Masi Brolo di Campofiorin 2006 IGT Rosso del Veronese, +976092,

LCBO Monopoly

In case you have not seen it,

Sunday, January 17, 2010


TONY ASPLER'S CELLAR BOOK; how to design, build, stock and manage
your wine cellar wherever you live (Random House Canada, 2009, 340
pages, ISBN 978-0307357113, $32.95 CAD hard covers) is by Canada's most
well-known wine writer and Member of the Order of Canada. It comes
complete with printed wine stains, an interesting innovation. I
contributed to this book, so I am not allowed to be overly-excited by
it (conflict of interest rules). But Tony does have a memoir-ish style
since most chapters are expressed in the form of his journeys through
life. His book is about guidelines without boundaries for modest to
expensive wine safekeeping, whether in a professional cellar or
temporarily in a kitchen. Aspler's suggestions for general approaches
to establishing a cellar, specific bottles and even themes will help
one create a near-perfect, big or small collection. Basic techniques
for evaluating the right cellar for one's needs are accompanied by
sidebars of cellaring experience and advice from well-known wine
celebrities. Of importance is his chapter on condos (he recently bought
a condo and had to make his wine cellar work). He has recommendations
for what wines should be in a wine cellar, to accommodate most budgets
and expenses. There are plenty of charts and tables for wine names,
grape comparisons, regions, and wine styles, plus food and wine matches
(and wine and food matches) and "dream" cellars. Other sections include
a wine vocabulary.
Audience and level of use: collectors, libraries
Some interesting or unusual facts: The major grape varieties for
storage are: Cabernet Sauvignon (especially from cooler regions like
Bordeaux), Cabernet-Merlot blends (Meritage), Nebbiolo
(Barolo/Barbaresco), Syrah/Shiraz (Rhône, Australia), Tempranillo
(Spain), and Sangiovese (Italy).
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


1. Tokaji Yellow Muscat 2008 Puklus Cellars Hungary (+46508, $14.95
retail, 750 mL, Vintages): related to Muscat Blanc, from older vines,
done up in Late Harvest style, with that peachy complexity, medium-
bodied, but with lemons and pineapple acidity on the longer finish.
12.5% ABV. Serve with later courses (fruity mains, salads, cheeses,
off-dry desserts).

2. Chateau des Charmes Aligote 2008 VQA NOTL, $13.45 +284950 General
List: fresh floral character, slight lemon and apples in refreshing
acidity. Used in Burgundy as a Kir cocktail (Aligote wine plus crème de
cassis), very nice over the holidays. 12% ABV.

3. Chateau des Charmes Cabernet Merlot 2006 VQA NOTL, $14.45 +454991
General List: 12.5% ABV. Mix of cabernet sauvignon (60%), cabernet
franc (24%) plus merlot (16%) for that cooler climate Bordeaux-style
blend. Nine months in French oak. Expect cassis and bell pepper notes,
all in balance, ready to drink soon.

4. Mission Hill Five Vineyards Pinot Blanc 2007 VQA Okanagan, $14.95,
+300301 General List: from five different areas in the Okanagan, mostly
contract grapes, made by John Simes. No oak, similar in style to
aligote (citric, apples) but with some tropical finish from the added
sunshine. 12.5% ABV.

5. Mission Hill Five Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2007 VQA Okanagan,
$14.95, +118893 General List: from five different areas in the
Okanagan, mostly contract grapes, made by New Zealand winemaker John
Simes. No oak, similar in style to cooler climate sauvignon blancs,
with that grassy herbaceous quality. Slightly hot finish, with 14% ABV.

6. Mission Hill Five Vineyards Pinot Noir 2007 VQA Okanagan, $16.45,
+118844 General List: from five different areas in the Okanagan, mostly
contract grapes, made by John Simes. Entry level pinot, but cooler in a
medium-body and approachable tannic structure. Typical strawbs and
cherries. A year in French oak. 13% ABV.

7. Mission Hill Five Vineyards Cabernet Merlot 2007 VQA Okanagan,
$16.45, +257816 General List: from five different areas in the
Okanagan, mostly contract grapes, made by John Simes. More body than
2006, very spicy in approachable layers. Fruits dominate (plums,
cherries, strawbs, raspberries). 45% cab sauvignon, 25% cab franc, 30%
merlot. 14 months in mixed US and French oak. 13% ABV.

8. Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 VQA Okanagan, +553321
Vintages, $22.95: from their own vineyards in Oliver and Osoyoos, aged
in mixed US and French oak for 17 months, and just recently bottled.
Mouthfilling but needs more aging time. Richness dominated by dark
fruits (plums, black cherries, cassis, blackberries) and dark
chocolate. Time will mellow out the blend and make it even more
dramatic. Slight jaminess on the back palate.

9. Stoneleigh Chardonnay 2007 Marlborough, +288795 General $16.95:
13.5% ABV, cool climate approach balanced off by wood nuances,
exhibiting some creaminess amidst the fruit. Sip or with food. Check
out its affiliation with Random House of Canada book clubs at and read value-added collars for book
selections four times a year.
10. Mike Weir Wine Sauvignon Blanc 2008 VQA Niagara, $15.95, +686972
LCBO: typical zesty stress notes of grapefruit, lime and other citrus
fruits, plus a pretty good finish that demands food. Three months in
French oak contributes to the body. A first course wine that will hold
its own against any Kiwi contenders. No tasting notes on the bottle,
but the grapes come from two Chateau des Charmes vineyards.
11. Mike Weir Wine Pinot Noir 2007 VQA Niagara, $21.95, +75: 8 months
barrel aging in new and old French oak, after 3 times daily punchdowns.
Typicity is Burgundian, albeit with softer fruit tones enabling a food
partnership that is wide-ranging. Christmas Turkey (any style)?

12. Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Haynes Barn Merlot Cabernet 2007
Okanagan Valley, $15.95, +145144 LCBO: a smooth entry-level VQA from
British Columbia, another cherry-berry wine with a good fruit set from
the West Coast. Slightly more than half Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon,
23% Cabernet Franc, aged in US and French oak for 14 months, 13.5% ABV
(but not a hot finish).
13. Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Larch Tree Hill Riesling 2008
Okanagan Valley, $13.95, +145136 LCBO: typical MVC but with a warmer
climate fruit set emphasizing ripeness (citric, apple, peach) and some
anise. Party wine or food wine when you need an off-dry beverage for
Asiatic food. 13% ABV.
14. Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery The Census Count Chardonnay 2008
Okanagan Valley, $14.98, +92296 LCBO: continues the historical
allusions in this vinous series (census here refers to a bird count on
Christmas Day in 1905). Some apple and pear malic tartness, plus limes,
is offset by a broad balance with some oak tones. 13.5% ABV, 20% was
barrel fermented in French and US oak, six months on the lees.
15. Chateau des Charmes Sparkling Brut NV, +145409 LCBO, $22.95: citrus
complexity but some baked component (apple pie?) too from the two to
three years on lees. 50-50 pinot noir and chardonnay. Great crisp
16. Chateau des Charmes Vidal Icewine 2006, 200 mL presentation package,
+565861, $25.95: a mélange of apple, peach, some apricot ripeness, and
finishes off-dry with some citric acidity. Stainless steel. 9.5% ABV
17. Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon Paarl Manor House 2007 South Africa,
+68767, $16.95, Vintages February 6, 2010: black fruit and mocha tones
all the way. A year and more in new and used small French oak, nuances
of wood and vanilla. Still needs a bit of time.


Saturday, January 9, 2010


...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. Here are some recent "re-editions"...

AGE GETS BETTER WITH WINE; new science for a healthier, better and
longer life. 2d ed. (Wine Appreciation Guild, 2009, 212 pages, ISBN
9788-1-934259-24-5, $19.95 US paper covers) is by Richard A. Baxter,
M.D., formerly on medical faculties. It was originally published in
2007, and rather than merely reprint it, the author has updated it
throughout. It is also 50 pages larger than the original edition. As he
says, since 2007, "The wine-health connection has gone mainstream, with
almost daily press releases about the newest study on wine, Alzheimer,
cancer, and other benefits." New are phenolics, anti-aging,
resveratrol, increased bone density, heart disease, feel-good
endorphins, and sports drinks. The basic assumption is simply that wine
is good for you. But how much? And which wine? The Greeks had a word
for it: moderation, and nothing in excess. Overall, you need only drink
one glass of heavy red wine with a meal every day. Baxter references
some 2500 scientific studies in a readable, enjoyable style. Try with
two glasses of red wine, and call him in the morning. Quality/Price
rating: 89.

SAVING DINNER; the menus, recipes, and shopping lists to bring your
family back to the table (Ballantine Books, 2009, 323 pages, ISBN 978-
0-345-51629-9, $16 US paper covers) is by Leanne Ely; it was originally
published in 2003. Here it has been revised and extended. Ely is a
nutritionist, a web-columnist, a syndicated columnist ("Dinner Diva"),
and a radio host. She has authored other books in "saving dinner". She
specializes in stress-reduction in the kitchen shopping and prep areas
by creating "freezer dinner kits", a method of assembling and freezing
meals. She promises to have you quickly prepare a month's worth of
weeknight dinners. She has many tips on meal planning and menus. There
are six weeks of menus with recipes, side dish suggestions, itemized
grocery lists organized by product, and kitchen shortcuts. The book
promises 225 dinners, organized by season. Each prep has nutritional
data, and each prep is supposed to bring the family together, thus
saving dinner. There's turkey piccata, baked macaroni and three cheese,
garlic lime salmon, black bean soup, chicken pasta with artichokes,
mashed potato pie, skillet chili chicken. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements; there is no metric
table of equivalents. But a good price.
Quality/Price rating: 87.
THE PROVENCAL COOKBOOK; shop, cook and eat like a local. Rev. ed. (DK
Books, 2009, 304 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-5791-8, $19.95US paper covers)
is by Gui Gedda, a Var-born retired chef and consultant, and Marie-
Pierre Moine, a French food and wine writer and editor. It was
originally issued as COOKING SCHOOL PROVENCE in 2007, with a daily
lesson for one week. Without the cooking school aspect, it has shorn
some 50 pages of content, but still covers the French Riviera, which is
an extension of Provencal cooking. He has 100 recipes with step-by-step
demos, location pictures, details on local merchants and local
ingredients, and so forth. Much of this can be replicated at home if
you have access to farmers' markets. But it is difficult to get a fresh
fish market, boulangerie, and fromagerie in one location outside of
France. Maybe Sonoma...There is a glossary of French terms, but none of
the local patois. He uses metric only for weights – conversion tables
are needed. The print is large, and the recipes are uncluttered. There
is not much on wines. Salade nicoise; pan bagna; ratatouille; pistou;
tians; tapenade; fourgasse; pissaladiere; but NO tourte de blettes!
French and English names of recipes are indexed. Quality/Price Rating:
HE SAID BEER, SHE SAID WINE (Dorling Kindersley, 2009, 256 pages,
ISBN 978-0-7566-5449-8, $16.95US soft covers) is by Sam (Beer)
Calagione and Marnie (Wine) Old. He's the brewer and founder/owner of
Dogfish Head, plus author of several beer books. She's Director of Wine
Studies at New York's French Culinary Institute, and is an award-
winning sommelier. Both are hip and cool. This is a reissue of the 2008
book, but in paper covers. It's on food pairing suggestions. There are
recipes for a wine vs. beer dinner party, with both beer and wine
recommendations. The first 70 pages are all about basics, and then the
food pairing begins. The chapters are arranged by food type. There is a
section on cheese (type of cheeses played against type of beers and
wines), followed by vegetables, sandwiches, pizza and pasta, spicy
food, shellfish, fish, poultry, meat, and fruit desserts (sweet wines
vs. fruit/brown ales). There are some 20 recipes for in-home pairing of
food and beer and wine. But not all beers mentioned are available in
all markets, unlike the wines mentioned. Many labels are reproduced,
although there are generic recommendations. It does smack of product
placements, especially with websites mentioned. Since both authors are
experienced in the business of matching alcohol to food, then I would
have appreciated more cross-promotion. Sam could do wine stuff and
Marnie could do beer. But they don't -- just a bit too coy for me, with
redundant pix of the winsome couple eating up lots of space.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
IS THIS BOTTLE CORKED? The secret life of wine (Harmony Books,
2009, 196 pages, $19.99US hard covers) is by Kathleen Burk and
Michael Bywater, both UK wine writers (although Burk was born and
raised in California wine country) and both academics. It was
originally published in 2008 in the UK by Faber and Faber, and here it
is reissued to the North American audience. It is an engaging little
book comprising some 88 or so Q and A about wine. As the PR bumpf says,
"This book is guaranteed to provide readers with a 'Yes, but did you
know…' answer." Did you ever wonder what Falstaff was drinking when he
quaffed sack? Why does Bridget Jones drink Chardonnay?
What did Jane Austen drink? Why do we drink to forget? What is wine
speak and wine guru? There is a bibliography of sources and a really
good, extensive index – a rarity amongst such eclectic books. One
answer a day to accompany your glass of wine…Quality/Price rating: 84.

PRESCRIPTION ALTERNATIVES; hundreds of safe, natural, prescription-free
remedies to restore & maintain your health. 4th ed. (McGraw-Hill, 2009,
440 pages, ISBN 978-0-07-160031-6, $21.95 US paper covers) is by
natural health and nutrition expert Earl Mindell, Ph.D. with over 30
books to his credit, and Virginia Hopkins, who has written or
coauthored more than 50 books on alternative health and nutrition.
Drugs have side effects, some worse than others; drugs can deplete the
body of vitamins and minerals. Here the authors describe all possible
side effects for drugs, arranged by topic and pulled together by the
convenient index. Many drugs interact with common everyday food (think
grapefruit), and such food should be avoided if one remains on the drug
therapy. Then they discuss the possible alternatives, which includes
food therapy and diets and nutrition. This fourth edition includes new
drugs; it also emphasizes heart disease, diabetes, asthma, ADD, and
obesity-related ailments. There's an extensive recommended reading list
and set of references for follow-up information. Quality/Price rating:
ROSE'S HEAVENLY CAKES (John Wiley & Sons, 2009, 498 pages, ISBN 978-0-
471-78173-8, $39.95US hard covers) is by Rose Levy Beranbaum, a
multiple IACP and Beard Award winner. She has authored nine cookbooks,
usually with the word "Bible" in it, such as "The Bread Bible" in 2003.
Indeed, "The Cake Bible" was published in 1988, and the current book
(with its ascendant title) reflects a reworking that allows for new
ingredients, new equipment, new techniques and thoughts. For example,
in the former book she had no oil in her cakes. Here she does, a whole
range from banana refrigerator oil cake to classic carrot, chiffonlets,
chocolate ice cream cake, pumpkin, and more. Also, cake pan sizes have
changed. All her ingredients are both scaled (avoirdupois and metric)
and in volume (only avoirdupois). She covers butter cakes, oil cakes,
sponge cakes, cheesecakes, flourless cakes, baby cakes, and wedding
cakes. There are even a few angel food cakes in the sponge section. 100
preps in all, with full notes on timings, quantities, cooks notes,
special equipment, and techniques. At the end there are chapters on
special effects, ingredient and equipment sources (all US), and lists
of recipes using only egg white and only egg yolks, as well a listing
of 32 quick and easy recipes. No sugar substitutes such as stevia are
listed. Try heavenly coconut seduction cake, fruitcake wreath, double
chocolate valentine, tomboy, orange-glow chiffon layer cake. But
photocopy the recipes first, to avoid kitchen smears plus the fact that
the book is very heavy at 4 pounds. Quality/Price rating: 89.
HOW IT ALL VEGAN! Irresistible recipes for an animal-free diet. 10th
Anniversary Edition (Arsenal Press, 2009, 232 pages, ISBN 978-1-55152-
253-1, $24.95 CAD, soft covers) is by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer.
The live in Kelowna and Victoria, BC respectively. Since it was first
published in 1999 it has been reprinted many times. It has won awards.
Now, it has been updated with five new recipes, advice to reflect the
new vegan reality, and a colour photo section. Nutrition material has
been updated. In the years since, the authors came up with
and four other vegan cookbooks (The Garden of Vegan, Le Dolce Vegan,
and others). There's a good chapter on "milks" (beans, grains and nuts)
and how to make your own. Eggs are also a no-no, so you might want to
try Faux Eggs Benny for something different. The index is extensive.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no metric table of equivalents. They have a lot of fruit
recipes, breakfasts, breads, sauces, soups, dressings and dips, and
tofu. Quality/Price rating: 86.

(McGraw-Hill, 2010, 204 pages, ISBN 978-0-07-162747-4, $16.95 US paper
covers) is by Connie Sarros, who has written a lot of books dedicated
to sufferers of celiac disease. This means avoiding gluten for life. In
the new edition (the first was in 2003), she has added casein-free
(dairy-free) options as well. Research has shown that gluten-free and
dairy-free alternatives may help conditions like autism significantly;
she lists 32 such conditions, as ALS, ADD, bulimia, fibromyalgia,
dementia, dermatitis, epilepsy, psoriasis, thyroid problems. There's
also a list of 50 foods which contain gluten, and should be avoided.
There are lots of tips on how to do without, including milk substitutes
such as rice milk, almond milk and soy milk. Recipes cover all courses
and are relatively easy to prepare. They are also kid-friendly. As
well, there is nutritional information for each prep. While the
typeface is nice and large, the small point size of the index makes it
hard to read. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois
measurements, but there is no metric table of equivalents.
Quality/Price rating: 85.

THE NEW BEST OF BETTER BAKING.COM (Whitecap Books, 2009, 324 pages,
ISBN 978-1-77050-002-0, $26.95US paper covers) is by Marcy Goldman, a
Montreal pastry chef and baker. She has written baking articles for the
major food magazines and general newspapers of North America. She was
one of the first to be out there with a blog at (in
1997), dedicated, of course, to better baking. In 2002 she authored the
first edition of this book with recipes from her site. She's expanded
the reissue of the book by adding 35 more recipes. It's a good basic
baking book, covering all the angles of yeast breads, rolls, pizzas,
flatbreads, cookies, biscotti, muffins, scones, and pastries. Most of
her sources and resources are, unfortunately for us, American: it is
still difficult to import materials. But at least all of their websites
are informative. The typeface used for the recipes is engaging. Butter
in the preps has both volume and weight listed, but in general, the
ingredients have not been scaled. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are metric tables of
equivalents. Quality/price rating: 86.

Dec 7/09: APVSA Tasting, French wines.

The Time and Date: Monday, December 7, 2009  10AM to 4PM
The Event: APVSA tasting (Association pour la promotion des vins et
spiritueux en Amerique du Nord).
The Venue: Delta Chelsea Inn
The Target Audience: wine agents.
The Availability/Catalogue: no wines are currently available in
Ontario. The group is here to try to get some agents to agree to rep
the principal. Some of the wines are available in Quebec and Alberta.
Most of the wines were French, and there were sales staff available to
comment on the prices and production.
The Wines: The problem I had with the wines, and one that must be
acknowledged, is that they were no better than the wines that we
already have here in Ontario. There really did not seem to be any price
advantages, either. These 60 or so wines could be made available
through Vintages or Consignment. In the past, many have been picked up
for sale in Ontario. Here were my faves, regardless of
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Tissier & Fils Le Petit Morice Sancerre Blanc 2008, 5.60E
-Chateau Vari 2007 Bergerac Rouge, 3.30E
-Chateau Vari Reserve du Chateau 2005 Monbazillac, 5.60E 375mL
-Ellul-Ferrieres Rouge Grande Cuvee Coteaux du Languedoc 2007, 8E
-Ellul-Ferrieres Rouge Dolce Vitae Coteaux du Languedoc 2007, 5E
-Dom. Du Mas Rous Cotes du Roussillon Rouge Cuvee 2006, 4.58E
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Earl Maison Pere & Fils Cheverny Rouge 2008, 3.50E
-Earl Maison Pere & Fils Cheverny Blanc Revelation 2008, 3.90E
-Chateau La Croix St. Anne 2005 Bord Sup, 2.90E
-Chateau Vari 2005 Monbazillac, 3.20E 375mL
-Chateau Belot L'Argiliere 2006 Rouge Saint-Chinian, 5.60E
-Domaine Belot Viognier 2008 Pays d'Oc, 3E
-Dom. Du Mas Rous Muscat de Rivesaltes 2008 Vin Doux Naturel, 4.79E
-Dom. Pio Notre Dame Minervois Rouge 2007 Fut en Chene, 10E
-Dom. Pio Notre Dame Minervois Rose 2008, 4E
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Chateau Vray Canon Boyer 2002 Canon Fronsac, 4.50
-Chateau Au Grand Paris 2007 Bordeaux Sup, 2.80E
-Chateau Belot Le Vignalet 2007 Rouge Saint-Chinian, 2.50E
-Dom. Du Mas Rous Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Pays d'Oc, 4.58
-Dom. De Mas Rous Cotes du Roussillon Tradition 2008 Rouge, 3.58E
-Dom. Pio Notre Dame Minervois Rouge 2007, 4.50E
The Food: none.
The Downside: selection is eclectic and bottles arrive haphazardly.
Some bottles never arrived at all, but we were not told this until we
got there.
The Upside: a chance to taste some engaging wines not available here.
There is a listing of wines with FOB prices in Euros.
The Contact Person: Pascal
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 85.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jan 9, 2010 LCBO Vintages Release Notes

By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing
"Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net Compendium" is guide to thousands
of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and
spirits, at (since 1995). Creator of Canada's leading wine
satire site at My tastings are based on MVC
(Modal Varietal Character); ratings are QPR (Quality-to-Price Ratio).
Prices are LCBO retail. Only my top rated wines are here. NOTE: The
LCBO does NOT put out all of the wines of the release for wine writers
or product consultants. Corked wines are not available for re-tasting.
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
1. Stoney Ridge Dim Vineyard Riesling 2008 VQA Creek Shores: fleshy and
flashy, good acid, but does not taste Medium Dry as Vintages indicates.
+161208, $14, QPR: 90
2. Stonehedge Chardonnay 2007 California: good MVC value for the
dollar, 13.9% ABV. +544841, $12.95, QPR: 91.
3. Anakena Single Vineyard Viognier 2009 Rapel: dry peach tones,
excellent price. +45138, $12.95, QPR: 90.
4. Tabali Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Limari: herbs and minerals,
13.5% ABV. +662999, $12.95, QPR: 90.
5. Cathedral Cellar Sauvignon Blanc 2008 WO Western Cape: very
extenuated MVC at this price level, herby plus. +662718, $11.95, QPR:
6. Bestheim Reserve Vieilles Vignes Riesling 2008 Alsace: intense MVC
from Riesling, medium body. +141176, $14.95, QPR: 90.
7. Chateau Coulange Blanc 2008 Bordeaux Sec: tart and grassy, food
needed, very good value, 100% sauvignon blanc. +138750, $13.95, QPR:
8. Roux Pere & Fils Les Murelles Chardonnay Bourgogne 2008: only
lightly oaked, useful value at this price level. +156455, $13.95, QPR:
9. Domaine de la Seigneurie des Tourelles Saumur Blanc 2008: baked
fruit and some candied tones, but dry, good as aperitif. +141879,
$12.95, QPR: 90.
10. Michel Gassier Les Piliers Viognier 2008 Pays D'Oc: delicious cream
and fruit, apricot and oranges. +669531, $16.95, QPR: 90.

TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1. Loredona Pinot Noir 2006 Monterey: dynamite wine, good pinot noir
tones, but Californian and priced well. +57620, $18.95, QPR: 90.
2. Paso Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Paso Robles: label says "bold
character derived from stubborn patience". 13.5% ABV. +161141, $19.95,
QPR: 90.
3. Concha y Toro Trivento Reserve Syrah 2008 Mendoza: definitely
Rhonish, value. Sip or with food. +663112, $12.95, QPR: 90.
4. Montgras Quatro 2007 Colchagua: excellent Bordeaux-blend plus syrah
with engaging black fruit component. +50641, $15.95, QPR: 90.
5. Santa Carolina Barrica Selection Petit Verdot 2007 Rapel: good tones
of saddles and chocolate. +7484, $14.95, QPR: 90
5. Vina Maipo Reserva Carmenere 2008 Rapel: weedy and best with food.
+7663047, $12.95, QPR: 90.
6. Alkoomi Shiraz 2007 Frankland River: definite Euro-style wine.
+138560, $14.95, QPR: 90.
7. Lindemans Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Coonawarra: twist top,
good MVC, value at this price. +141994, $14.95, QPR: 90.
8. Chateau Arnaud Jouan Cuvee Prestige 2005 Premieres Cotes de
Bordeaux: delicious, good wood aging, mid-Atlantic tastes. +138859,
$14.95, QPR: 90.
9. Chateau Belle-Garde 2007 Bordeaux: typical Bordeaux MVC, value at
this price level. +142372, $13.95, QPR: 90.
10. Albert Bichot Vieilles Vignes Pinot Noir Bourgogne 2007: you cannot
beat this value for its Burgundian MVC. +43331, $16.95, QPR: 90.
11. Domaine Combebelle Saint-Chinian 2007 Midi: very Rhonish, priced
well. +149658, $11.95, QPR: 90
12. Rouges des Karantes 2007 Coteaux du Languedoc: very ripe, warm and
inviting, mid-Atlantic style G-S-M. +143651, $16.95, QPR: 90.
13. Cave de Tain Queen of Syrah Cool Climate Syrah 2007 Vin de Pays des
Collines Rhodaniennes: a rarity here, from the North Rhone, only 12%
ABV, meant for syrah lovers. +155283, $11.95, QPR: 90.
14. Chateau Armandiere La Fee Violine Malbec Cahors 2005: very
pleasant, earthy, ready soon. Fleshy and tang on the finish. +147967,
$12.95, QPR: 90.
15. Rui Jose Xavier Soares Mimo 2005 Douro: 30 year old vines, some
depth and character, best with food. +147918, $17.95, QPR: 90.
16. Quinta do Roncao Reserva 2006 Douro: good North American style,
full body, tastes off-dry. +147942, $13.95, QPR: 90.
17. Juan Gil Gos Monastrell 2008 Jumilla: juicy North American style,
enjoyable. +94888, $12.95, QPR: 90.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Nov 30/09 - Consumer Tasting - Taste and Order Event, Ontario Wine Society

 The Time and Date: Monday, November 30, 2009  6PM to 9PM
The Event: Taste and Order Event of the Ontario Wine Society
The Venue: University of Toronto Faculty Club.
The Target Audience: members and guests of OWS, wine writers, some
The Availability/Catalogue: every wine was available either through or through the winery itself, with special discounts
on the delivery fee from
The Quote/Background: there were some 40 plus wineries here, with about
6 wines each. Many wineries passed out tech notes and price lists
embracing many of their other wines that were not shown tonight.
The Wines: I tasted what I could, but I'm only human. I tried to taste
wines that I have not had for awhile, and not taste wines I had sampled
within the past three months. Also, I did not sample any icewine or
other sweet wines.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-13th Street Premier Cuvee 2004 Sparkling, $28 [65PN/35C]
-Caroline Cellars Gewurztraminer 2007, $14.20
-Creekside Reserve Chardonnay 2007, $19.95
-Creekside Reserve Meritage 2005, $34.95
-Flat Rock The Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2006, $25.15
-Flat Rock Seriously Twisted 2007, $23.15
-Henry of Pelham Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007, $19.95
-Hidden Bench Estate Chardonnay 2007, $35.20
-Hidden Bench Nuit Blanche 2007, $40.20  [white Meritage]
-Hidden Bench Terroir Cache 2006, $35.20 [red Meritage]
-Hillebrand Trius Brut Rose NV, $30.10
-Hillebrand Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2007, $35.20
-Hillebrand Trius Grand Red 2007, $52.20
-Huff Southbay Vineyards Chardonnay 2007, $29.95
-Konzelmann Gewurztraminer 2007, $17.20
-Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay, $25
-Mountain Road Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2006, $15.95
-Niagara College Dean's List Chardonnay 2007, $28.15
-Nyarai Chardonnay 2007, $16.20
-Peller Ice Cuvee Rose NV, $35.20
-Peninsula Ridge Reserve Chardonnay 2007, $24.95
-Rosewood Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2007, $16.20
-Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2006, $21.95
-Stoney Ridge Warren Classic Chardonnay 2007, $20
-Tawse Van Bers Cabernet Franc 2007, $48
-Willow Springs Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007, $16
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-13th Street Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, $28
-Alvento Vio 2007, $25.95
-Angels Gate Sussreserve Riesling 2008, $13.95 – value priced
-Angels Gate Chardonnay 2007, $13.75
-Calamus Gewurztraminer 2008, $15.20
-Cave Spring Pinot Noir Estate 2007, $39.95
-Chateau des Charmes Merlot St. David's Bench 2007, $29.95
-Coyotes Run Black Paw Vineyard Chardonnay 2008, $22.30
-Coyotes Run Rare Vintage Cab/Merlot/Syrah 2007, $42.20
-Coyotes Run Black Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007, $50.20
-Flat Rock Reserve Pinot Noir 2007, $45.20
-Flat Rock Gewurztraminer 2008, $19.15
-Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catherine Brut NV, $29.95
-Hillebrand Showcase Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, $35.20
-Konzelmann Old Cellar Door Brut MC NV, $30.20
-Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir 2006, $25
-Niagara College Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007, $19.15
-Andrew Peller Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, $35.20
-Riverview Salvatore's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, $39.95
-Riverview Angelina's Reserve Chardonnay 2007, $24.95
-Southbrook Poetica Cabernet Merlot 2007, $60
-Stoney Ridge Petit Verdot 2008, $28
-Stoney Ridge Charlotte's Chardonnay 2008, $15
-Stratus White 2006, $44.20
-Stratus Red 2006, $44.20
-Strewn Three 2006, $26.20
-Strewn Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2006, $20.15
-Tawse Robyn's Block Chardonnay 2007, $42
-The Grange Brut, $29.95
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-13th Street Riesling Funk Vineyard 2008, $24
-Cave Spring Chenin Blanc 2007, $18.95
-Nyarai Cabernet Merlot 20-07, $18.20
-Nyarai Sauvignon Blanc 2008, $18.20
-Pillitteri Chardonnay Sur Lie 2006, $15.20
-Rosewood Gewurztraminer 2007, $18.20
-Rosewood Barrel Aged Chardonnay 2006, $18.20
-Sprucewood Shores Chardonnay 2008, $12.15
-Wayne Gretzky Founder's Chardonnay 2008, $13.95
The Food: platters of fried spring rolls, purses, spanakopita, and the
like, more starch than filling.
The Downside: very uninteresting platters of fried food. Some platters
of cheese might have been enough.
The Upside: taste and try before you buy – great idea for Ontario.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 89.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Nov 27/09 - Trade Tasting - Liquid Art Fine Wines mini-portfolio

 The Time and Date:  Friday, November 27, 2009   2:30PM – 4:30 PM
The Event: Tasting a selection of wines from Liquid Art Fine Wines'
The Venue: Fine Wine Reserve.
The Target Audience: wine media, private clients.
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are in stock (or will be)
The Quote/Background: Liquid Art has a portfolio of some 200 producers,
all family-owned, small production wineries emphasizing terroir. Check
The Wines:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Pommery Cuvee Louise 1998, $195.
-Sadie Family Winery Palladius 2007 South Africa, $79 [chenin, Grenache
blanc, clairette, viognier, chardonnay blend]
-Domaine Vincent Paris St. Joseph 2007, $39.95
-Argiano Solengo IGT Tuscany 2006, $95 [2005 was tasted]
-Neal Family Vineyards "2nd Chance" Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Atlas Peak Napa Valley, $125 – private order only
-Grant Burge Meshach 2004 Australia, $120  [2002 was available]
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Larmandier-Bernier 1er Cru Tradition Extra Brut Champagne, $76
-Tenuta dei Sette Cieli Indaco IGT Tuscany 2006, $65
-Russo Barbicone IGT Tuscany 2006, $49.95
-Duemani Suisassi 2005 Ribarbella, $175
-Neal Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Napa Valley, $54
-Mendel Unus 2007 Mendoza, $53.95
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Domaine Boudin Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume 2008, $41.95
-Pyramid Valley Riesling Lebecca Vineyard 2006 New Zealand, $33.95
The Food: pate, terrine, cracker crisps, soft cheeses, breads.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 89.