Casa Bianchi LEO Premium Malbec 2011 Mendoza, +375121 Vintages, $19.95: a nifty black fruit-laden wine, plummy and loaded with sweet tannins. Forest floor and savoury too, could be best with food. At the reserve level, 15% ABV. Part of its proceeds go to Leo Messi health and education projects to help disadvantaged Argentine youth. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Strewn Terroir French Oak Chardonnay 2011 VQA Niagara, $24.95 winery: at 14.4% ABV, I was wowed by the ripeness of the wine, loaded with spices and caramel. Long, long finish after some tropicality. New and used French oak barrels, cork finish. For 2012, this wine was aged in two different ways – one in US oak, the other in French oak, selling for the same price of $24.95. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Strewn Terroir Riesling 2011 VQA Niagara, $16.95 winery: at 11.2% ABV, this wine beguiled me. Very much in the Mosel mode with lovely concentrated aromatics and the apricot-peach-citric triangle of tastes. Ever so slightly off-dry, enough for sipping on the patio or with a first course. The 2012, at 11.9% ABV, is a bit drier, same price. Twist top. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Strewn Terroir Fume Blanc 2012 VQA Niagara, $18.95 winery: a new wine to the portfolio, done up with barrel fermentation of sauvignon blanc (50% US and 50% Canadian oak). Rich and herby, tempered by the wood. Obviously needs time to resolve the toastiness, but will be worth the weight (I had the bottle open for a week). 13.6% ABV, twist top. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Strewn Terroir Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 VQA Niagara, $29.80 winery: rich and meaty, ripe mintiness, black fruit, mocha, forest floor. 13.1% ABV, can be enjoyed now (almost 4 years after vintage), but will definitely improve. My fave red of the tasting. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Strewn Terroir Cabernet Franc Dry Late Harvest 2011 VQA Niagara, $38 winery: again, rich and meaty but this time from the late harvested grapes that were partially dehydrated on the vine (no drying on the mats here). Some dried fruit tones, raisins, figs, mocha, leather/earth, even "dusty". Needs rich or fatty foods, and more time – save a few more years. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Strewn Noble Cabernet Botrytis Affected 2011 VQA Niagara, $35 375 mL, winery: nicely sweet with a dry component on the finish, succulent, pale red just beyond rose, harvested third week into November. Cabernet Franc at 83%, Cabernet Sauvignon at 17%. With that decaying intensity, it is delicious anytime. 14.9% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay VQA, $30 +33936 June Vintages: I've tasted Le Clos Jordanne over the years (often calling it "Closer Dan", as a nod to baseball's lights out relief pitchers in the ninth inning: it has often shut down the competition). Here, at 13.5% ABV, the wine is a bit more restrained. Currently, the minerality is showing, but the core needs to soften a bit for harmony. This will come with age. On the mid-palate, the balance is shading to some aged complexity, and I can expect more of this in the future as the pattern holds for later consumption. From three estates around Jordan, each expressing the MVC of stone fruit, minerality, and acid balance – tempered by wood aging and, later of course, time. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay 2011 VQA, $40 +56929 July Vintages: here, with a delimited quantity of estate grapes from one vineyard, the wine is progressing with more orchard fruit tones. There is also more structure and complexity, leading to more concentration and finesse. Oaking is more mute and balanced, but will still need time to resolve. One for the cellar, certainly affordable at this price. 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir 2011 VQA, $30 +33894 Vintages: the 2011 vintage in Ontario was very cool. Ontario pinot noir should then exhibit a range of Burgundian characteristics, muting any showiness typical of a warmer climate. This Village Reserve pinot, from four different vineyards about Jordan, is at 13% ABV according to the label. What had begun as complex red cherries has now evolved into some depth of red fruit in general (strawbs, rasps, cherries) with upper floral notes being integrated into the wood treatment. Forest floor is also present. Chosen by the winemaker Sebastien Jacquey as his Cuvee 2014 entry. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Le Clos Jordanne Jordanne Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 VQA, $40 +33902 Vintages: the cool 2011 vintage continued to show Burgundian characteristics in Ontario pinot noirs. From the eastern side of the vineyard. Ontario cranberries are showing well here, but there is also a dollop of black fruit (plum, black currants, blueberries). Tannins are maturing, but there is also some mushroom component as the forest floor continues to evolve. But some succulence is also here on the finish. A cellar keeper for many years.
13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay Musque 2012 VQA NOTL, $19.95: uses exclusively the chardonnay clone 809 (18-year old vines, now about 20-years old, the same age as the Ontario Wine Awards by which this wine was declared a medal winner), an almost in-your-face aromatic honeysuckle beauty with some "muscat" grape quality. Unoaked, of course, and refreshing. 13% ABV, useful for social sipping or with lighter white meats. Twist top. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Chateau des Charmes Gamay Noir 2012 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $12.95, +57349 LCBO: medium-bodied, suggestive of Beaujolais (same grape variety). Easy drinking of cherry-berry flavours with occasional nuances of spices. Best for patios, parties, BBQ. Ready now, but with some tannic structure to carry through a whole meal. 13.5% ABV, cork closure. Winner of a Gold Medal at Ontario Wine Awards 2014.
Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.