1.Don Sebastiani Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 California, +55517, $14.95: dark in the glass, aroma of mocha and cherries which follow through on the palate with more black fruit and black currants, ending in that ripe soft California style. 13.5% ABV, twist-off top. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Don Sebastiani Smoking Loon Old Vines Zinfandel 2012 California, +272393, $14.95: again, dark and dense in the glass, aromas of dried fruit and plums, follow through on palate with dark mocha tones and dried berries. Some oak is noticeable. 14% ABV, twist-off top. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Chateau des Charmes Gamay Noir "Droit" 2012 St. David's Bench Vineyard VQA St. David's Bench, +582263 Vintages, $16.95: medium-bodied, suggestive of Beaujolais grand cru wines such as Morgon or Moulin a Vent in its capacity for ageing. Dark cherry-berry flavours dominate, but there is added spicing and even some nuances of smokey earth and eucalyptus, although the wine is unoaked. Cork finish. Good with BBQ, cheese, or something substantial, but some tannic structure is present to carry through a whole meal. 13% ABV. National Wine Award Platinum 2015 winner. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Chateau des Charmes Vidal Icewine 2014 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, +565861, $25.95 for 200 mL: a compact icewine with apricot as the defining aroma and flavour, followed by honeyed tones. Ready now, but should be aged – but then it will taste different and, in my opinion, taste better with some marmalade tones. 9% ABV. Perfect for gifting (comes in a handsome box) at that sweet point. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.DiProfio Wines Hard Fought Pinot Noir 2012 Hughes Vineyards VQA Niagara Peninsula, $24.95, LCBO TBD: from a sustainable vineyard with low yielding vines, with BF and BA in French oak (20 months). Typical Ontario cranberry tartness, a bit on the lighter high acid style, evolving with some complexity on the mid-palate to show cherry-berry fruit with underbrush overtones (great phrase). Long finish, good for food. Euro style, of course.12.5% ABV, fresh all round, needs another year. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6. Iroquois Shore Estates Ambria Riesling Dessert Wine Vin de Cure 2010 Hughes Vineyard VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, $24.95 for 200 mL, LCBO TBD: Vin de Cure is made from partially dried grapes, and in this case, made from grape bunches cut BEFORE freezing and then allowed to freeze in the netting. The result is wine made from dessicated grapes that have been preserved by the freezing process. The alcohol here is a bruising but natural 15.1% ABV, but the sweetness doesn't make you realize it. Fermented in 60 litre French oak casks and then aged over 5 years, and sold as a veritable bargain – considering the time and investment in production of these 960 bottles. Very intense bitter almond tones for the peach and apricot fruit expressed by the riesling grape, with marmalade and butterscotch notes from the aging process. A delight. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Scacciadiavoli Montefalco Rosso 2011 Umbria, $20.95, +372458 Vintages: still youthful and fresh, a sangiovese blend (60% sangiovese, 25% merlot, 15% sagrantino) from Umbria's Montefalco region. Exhibits pepper with a cherry finish, long length for food (something hearty and saucy: a stew). Some aging on the mid-palate showing tones of underbrush and prunes. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.