SOME NEW PRODUCTS TASTED THIS MONTH --
1.Jackson-Triggs Entourage Grand Reserve Series Brut 2011 Methode Traditionelle VQA Niagara, +234161 $22.95: very much one of the bargain sparklers in Ontario at this price level. The 2008 was one of my faves, and the 2010 (with more pinot noir, three years en tirage, and a red tinge, like a rose) hit a 94 on my taste scale recently. The 2011 is back to regular straw colour. It has been aged over two years en tirage, very crisp on the palate, somewhat tart but may improve with age. Refreshingly crisp with typical yeasty nose, nuts, creamy vanilla, and a long long length. Good pinot noir character. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.KWW Roodeberg 2012 South Africa, +7187, $12.45 LCBO: when I first had this wine, it was 1968 or so, and it cost 10 times less. It was good value because it was strong and minty even then. Today, it is 14.24% ABV with a twist top, and instead of a pinotage blend, it is a cab sauv/shiraz/merlot mix for 82% of the total. Expect vanilla, some plumminess, dark brooding colours and palate, plus good acid for food. Decent price too. Quality/Price rating is 87 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Burnt Ship Bay Pinot Grigio 2013 VQA NOTL, +404939, $14.95 LCBO: a relatively new player in the Ontario wine sweepstakes, Burnt Ship has already signed up the Hockey Hall of Fame as a provider of house wines. In February, this wine became available at the LCBO: think peaches and lemons and apples, with some serious tones on the midpalate. Commingling is back, with citric undertones. Prize winner from All Canadians and Intervin. Twist top, 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Burnt Ship Bay Cabernet Merlot 2013 VQA NOTL, +404947, $14.95 LCBO: with grapes from its sister winery Pondview (and the same winemaker), this wine has ripe berries (black and red) in overdrive, in a sort-of classic California version of a Bordeaux-like blend. 13.5% ABV, twist top. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Burnt Ship Bay Chardonnay 2013 VQA NOTL, $14.95 Winery: with apples and pears, other orchard fruit plus lemons and citric tones, the wine has plenty of definition. It tastes unoaked. Good for patio/deck/balcony, and first course fish dishes. It won an Intervin Award for Honors and Best Value. 13% ABV, twist top. Quality/Price rating is 87 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.Le Pere Jules Pommeau de Normandie AOC, +402131, $39.95 for 700mL Vintages March: Pommeau de Normandie (formerly Pommeau Ste. Anne) is made like Pineau de Charentes (grape mistelle and cognac) – some apple cider mistelle blended with one-year aged Calvados. Then it is aged in oak barrels for more than 5 years. There is a strong "cider apple" aroma that follows through on the palate, a sort of intensified cider taste. The finish is smooth, suggesting that the Calvados has been aged smoothly. This is a great aperitif (as the company says) although it is sweet enough to put out with dessert or just post-dinner. Pommeau arrives in Ontario every three years, so snap this one up (fewer than 50 cases in the system). Quality/Price rating is 93 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Mark Andrews Knappogue Castle Single Malt Irish Whiskey, +223776, $62.95 Vintages: arriving just in time for St. Paddy's Day, this is a 12 year old Irish nicely aged in used bourbon oak casks. No colour has been added, so there is a naturally light lemon-orange colour, also suggesting some citric tones. The spiciness includes coconut and honeyed tones from both the bourbon and the oak. It was first introduced in 1998 and relaunched in 2010 as a medium bodied, off-dry very polished whiskey in the super premium category. Triple distilled, of course, with an ABV of 40%. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Tenuta Balbia Greco Bianco Malvasia SX.E 2013 IGT Calabria, +386995 LCBO, $12.95: a good basic fresh and fruity wine, somewhat like muscat in its orange-peachiness. 12% ABV makes it a social wine, perfect before dinner as aperitif or with a salty first course such as soup. New to the General List. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.Gnarly Head Viognier California 2013, +396416, $17.95 Vintages: a limited release to Vintages, this wine is aromatic but on the dry side, perfect as a social wine or for first course. Expect peachy and orange tones, but of course no oak. Nicely produced.
Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
10.Casar de Burbia Godello 2011 Bierzo Spain, +368381, $16.25 Vintages: Godello is indigenous to the up-and-coming Bierzo region, and may soon be its most prominent white grape. It is firmly in the Muscat family style of peaches, tropicality, orange-citrus, certainly compares favourably with the Viognier reviewed above. Here is is slightly off-dry but with a long finish. Aged on its lees for eight months, 13.5% ABV. Suitable for aperitif or social wine or even with a first course. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
11.Casar de Burbia Mencia 2010 Bierzo Spain, +392530, $19.95 Vintages: another indigenous grape variety on the rise from Bierzo – it's dark fruit and floral MVC, coupled with 8 months aging in US oak, gives it some smokey quality in a Rhonish tone. Even with some jammy and mocha nuances, the wine exhibits some savoury herb character, perhaps making it better with food rather than as a social wine. 14.6% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.