SOME NEW PRODUCTS TASTED THIS MONTH --
1.Henry of Pelham Family Tree White 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +251116, $17.95 Vintages: HOP makes a very serious blended white wine and red wine (see below), with grapes from their site (about 40% of the blend) and from across Niagara. The grapes change from year to year, as do the percentages. For 2012, they've got chardonnay (60%), viognier (20%), gewurztraminer (11%), and sauvignon blanc (9%). Each, of course, contributes various distinctive aromatics and flavour profiles. Not only that, about 40% of it is barrel fermented and aged in barrel for 8 months (I'm guessing mostly chardonnay), and the balance is in stainless steel with no malolactic so as to preserve freshness (the wine is about four years old now). So we have orchard fruit, citrus, and some lingering spicy aftertaste. Cork closure, 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.Henry of Pelham Family Tree Red 2013 VQA Ontario, +247882, $18.95 Vintages: This red blend for 2013 (it can change with each release) comprises syrah (40%), cabernet franc (30%), cabernet sauvignon (15%), merlot (10%), and baco noir (5%). The latter may have resulted in a VQA Ontario designation rather than a VQA Niagara. It's all barrel aged, 65% French oak and 35% US oak for 17 months. It is substantial, reflecting the aromatics and flavour profiles of the grapes used. Cherry-berry tones, fresh spices on the finish, some spine to stand up to hearty food. Cork closure, 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot Estate VQA Short Hills Bench, +395855, $24.95 Vintages: both cabernet franc and sauvignon are used in this Bordeaux-styled blend which comes across as a mid-Atlantic version of Cali/Bordeaux New World and Old World. It is still in its youth at 3.5 years of age, and it would be a shame to consume it this young. You could do what I did: open it and drink it over a couple of weeks, exposing it to air gently or speeding up the process by double-triple decanting. You will get several different wines out of one bottle over the course of time. Extended maceration in stainless, followed by French and UA oak (40% new) for 18 months. Currently, you could match it with heavy meats. 14% ABV on label. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.Abeille-Fabre Chateau Mont-Redon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2011, +959627, $43.95 Vintages: a bargain wine for its price, still too young to consume unless you double-decant and drink it over a few days. Half of the wine was made in barrels, the other half in vats. A selection of the better barrels is made into a single blend after 18 months, and stored for six months before release. It will be well-aged after another 10 years. Of the 13 permitted varieties, grenache, syrah, and mourvedre are dominant, with cinsault, counoise, muscardin, and vaccarese added. Still tight but plenty of black fruits and spices. 14.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Culmina Family Estate Decora 2014 BC VQA Okanagan Valley, +444836, $24.95 Vintages: this single vineyard 100% riesling comes in at 13% ABV. It is a solid beam of energy, bone dry but with emerging "petrol" notes dancing on top of floral and citric tones, not unlike a Clare riesling. Well-framed and well-priced. Best with a variety of lightly-hot spicy foods, or pork/poultry/seafoods. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2014 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $13.95, +81653 LCBO: A consistent wine, year in and year out, my fave chardonnay at this price level. There's a new label, and a new back label with more info, stressing its lighter body and fruity finish (orchard fruit) with some buttery complexity from the barrel fermentation, and with a longer finish. Aged in oak for 9 months. Tastes amazingly richer than previous vintages, buy it up. Cork closure, 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Chateau des Charmes Pinot Noir 2012 VQA NOTL, +454967, $16.95 LCBO: A nifty well-aged wine (almost four years now), with some forest floor (mushrooms, earth) to complement the red fruit (strawberries are suggested). Estate grown and bottled. Good written notes on the back label are spot on. Just under subtle oaking, with a moderate intensity of medium flavours. Ready to drink now. Cork closure, 13.1% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Maipo Valley, +337238 Vintages Essentials, $21.95: one of the better values from Concha y Toro, a determined prize winner every year. Some changes this year: fruit comes from both the acclaimed Puente Alto and the Pirque Vineyards, plus further aging (after initial French oak barrels) is now done in 5000 litre foudres from Piedmont. This has led to retention of its black fruit component but it is also in a more fruity, more juicy and less oaky style with a lingering food-friendly finish. 6% Cabernet Franc has been added plus small buts of Syrah and Merlot. 14% ABV, cork closure. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.