1.Abeille-Fabre Chateau Mont-Redon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012, +959627, $45.95 Vintages Nov 12: a bargain wine for its price (up two bucks since the last vintage 2011), and 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.
2.Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot 2010 Speck Family Reserve Tier VQA Short Hills Bench, +616433 Vintages, $39.95 Nov 26: made from Pelham's oldest Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot vineyards in the style of Bordeaux, from specially selected barrels for this top level. Aged in French oak for 20 months (60% new and 40% 1 year old barrels). I did enjoy this wine over a week after opening with daily tasting and decanting. Needs more aging to appreciate some nuances of the black fruit, otherwise the wine is useful now. Best with wine-braised meats such as lamb, venison or other game. 13.5% ABV, vinified by cropping and selection. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot Estate 2012 VQA Short Hills Bench, +395855 December Vintages, $24.95: 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 4 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 US 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.Quinta de Curvos Afectus Alvarinho 2015 Vinho Regional Minho, +471276 Vintages Nov 26, $17.95: not a Vinho Verde with its 13% powerful ABV, but made from just one of the VV grapes – Alvarhino. The winery uses sustainability and organic principles. Delicate flowers with under-notetones of ripe fruit, medium body but full-flavours on the finish with enough structure for food. Don't overchill. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.Sartori di Verona Montegradella Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2012, $17.95, +473157 Vintages December 10: this wine has aged nicely – it is 4 years old at this point. The colour is changing to brown tints but the fruit notes of black currants and black plums are now augmented by more underbrush, with a resolved fullish finish that goes extremely well with food (we had it with Persian lamb shoulder). 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.Sartori di Verona Corte Bra Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009, $49.95, +225540 Vintages December 10: this wine has aged nicely (7 years now) and becomes more of a bargain at this price level. 15.5% ABV puts it in the bigger leagues. Black fruit dominates the nose and palate, lots of body, lush and luscious in a Juicy Lucy style, and a long finish. We had it with aged cheeses from Monforte (Toscano Secco). Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.Gerard Bertrand Cap Insula 2013 Languedoc, +474973, $17 Vintages Nov 12: another very useful and very youthful G-S-M from south of France. It is much like a baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape with the three dominant grape varieties, but it also seems more geared to the NA market with its ripe concentration of black fruit and chocolate-coffee flavours. Good value at this price. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Henry of Pelham Family Tree Red 2014 VQA Ontario, +247882, $18.95 April 2017 Vintages: This red blend for 2014 (it can change with each release) comprises syrah (33%), cabernet franc (19%), cabernet sauvignon (14%), merlot (29%), 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.
9.White Cliff Sauvignon Blanc Winemaker's selection Marlborough NZ, +610972, $14.95 General List: a very pleasant wine, with its diminished grassiness and beefed up fruit. The orchard tones are light enough for an all-purpose food/quaff wine. 12.5% ABV. Very fresh in this 2016 antipodean vintage. Quality/Price rating is 87.5 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
10.Henry of Pelham Estate Cuvee Catherine Blanc de Blanc Carte Blanche Brut 2011 VQA, +315200, $44.95 Nov 12 Vintages: hand-picked chardonnay from the VQA Short Hills Bench, 20% BF, fermentation in bottle followed by about 5 years lees aging. Tastes much like the leading French regional competitor. The 2011 already has 3 gold medals (2016 Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships, 2016 All Canadian Wine Championships, 2016 National Wine Awards of Canada) – what more can I say? Oh, yeah this is my fave Ontario sparkler (hey, I have actually bought this wine in previous vintages). 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 94 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
11.Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay Organic 2015 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +172338 Vintages $22.95: fruit is from two contracted growers (63& Saunders and 37% Laundry), all barrel fermented in French oak (2d and 3rd year barrels), lees aging one year, all vegan friendly. 12.5% ABV. Very soft and engaging, much like the 2012 in its youth, mild toast but a longish length. Showing some orchard fruit on the mid-palate. Very Burgundian in style. Best tasted in contemplation, underpriced. Do not overchill. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.