1.Strewn Terroir Merlot 2012 Strewn Vineyard VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $32 winery: at 14.6% ABV, this is a powerhouse wine. Has a Euro feel, suggesting plumminess like a Pomerol. Berries from the dark side, chocolate and coffee with some smoke needs to be resolved. Better after a few days of breathing (as I did) with a warm, softer finish, or double decanting. I had it with lamb at Thanksgiving-- terrific accompaniment. Label suggest 2017 for cellaring, but it can easily keep longer. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Strewn Terroir Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $36 winery: another powerful wine at 14.5% ABV, loaded with mint, both black and red fruits, some leafy/cedar notes, a very deep and sturdy wine with suggestions of mushrooms. Label says keep to 2019, but it can last longer as the tannins will hold. My fave red of the tasting. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Strewn Terroir Cabernet Franc 2012 VQA Niagara, $34 winery: savoury herbs, even some garrigue, cedar, some hints of buttercream. Cassis fruit. Rich, concentrated tones, some forest floor. Poise against fatty foods. 13.8% ABV. Could be aged five more years. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Strewn Terroir Three 2012 VQA Niagara, $38 winery: suggestions of fennel and forest floor, almost like a Bordeaux in its complexity and finish. Strong tannins still need time to resolve, let it remain open for awhile, six years cellaring is recommended (on label) but it could easily take more time. Some figures – 21 months in French and US oak, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc (by barrel selection?), and 14.4% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Strewn Terroir French Oak Chardonnay 2012 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $28.15 winery: at 14.4% ABV (same as 2011). I was again wowed by the ripeness of the wine, loaded with spices and caramel, some orchard fruit, toasty with pineapple overtones, although a bit diminished over 2011. Long, long finish just got better over the days (tasted on Sat through Thursday). New and used French oak barrels, cork finish, bread-dough notes. Rich in an Euro style. Quality/Price rating for the French Oak is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.Strewn Terroir American Oak Chardonnay 2012 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $25.15 winery: priced just under the French oak sibling, this one is a Gold Medalist from a wine competition in Canada. 14.2% ABV. Baked tones and vanillins dominate from mostly new US oak. Creamy aromas continue on mid-palate taste, right to the fruity but crisp finish. A bit restrained despite some ripe coconut, maybe not as concentrated as its French Oak sibling. But it tasted better as an opened but capped bottle a few days later and a few degrees higher temperature. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Strewn Terroir Riesling 2013 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $19.15 winery: some Ontario "perfume" notes as found in local Rieslings, some sour lemons and green apples, best with food complexity rather than as a sipper. Good finish, very slightly off-dry in texture. Overall, good MVC lime tones. Twist top. Single vineyard, two yeast strains used. 12.4% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Strewn Terroir Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Strewn Vineyard VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $20.15 winery: herby consistency, with lemons, peppers, melons, some peach undertones. Cold fermentation, good weedy length. Twist top, 12.9% ABV. I gave the 2012 "three stars" or 85-88 points. Quality/Price rating here is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 California, $14.95 +68924: basic chunky and dense California cab; brooding young wine, a bit jammy and spicy at this point yet showing some dried cassis and other dark fruit plus pepper. This is a winemaker's wine that should appeal to most. Twist top, 14.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
10.Gnarly Head Pinot Noir 2012 California, $14.80, +358911: very much a California pinot full of creamy spiciness, lush and plush on the palate, mocha tones, black fruit. Sort of in your face Cali style. Best as a social wine rather than with food. Twist top. 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 87 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
11.Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel 2012 Lodi, $17.95, +678698: the label that made the brand. There's a note about 35 – 80 year old vines with "head" trained pruning leading to a "gnarly looking" old vine. Lots of jammy and dense power here, black fruit, dark and rich tones, lots of toasty oak complexity. Best with BBQ or heavy meats and game. There is no mistaking this for Cali Zin, a perfect match for grilled meats. Twist top, 14% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
12.CARPANO BIANCO, $22.95 litre, from Majestic Wine Cellars – a nifty vermouth to savour or to use in blends with cocktails. It has more vanilla tones and sweetness than expected. Not for dry martinis, but great on the rocks, on its own for a comfort drink. 14.9% ABV. It may be coming to the LCBO, so watch for it. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
13.POLI VACA MORA AMARO, $35.95 for 700 ml, +662726 Vintages Nov 8/14: a grappa-based bitter from the Veneto that is on the dryish side of balanced. You don't find these too often in Ontario (I've had people tell me that even Campari is too sweet): this is a digestif, like Fernet, that is perfect for settling a tummy with its off-menthol tones coupled with fall spicings of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg. At the risk of mixing my languages, it is a true "trou Normand". 32.9% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.