SOME NEW WINES TASTED THIS MONTH --
1.KENDALL-JACKSON Vintner's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Sonoma County, +331603 Vintages June 10, $22.95: a timed release to enjoy for the summer (2013 came to Vintages last October) and the BBQ season. It's sourced from Sonoma County (99%) and retails in the US at $24 USD, which makes it a veritable bargain in Ontario – no price increase since the 2013 came aboard. Black fruit all the way (black cherry, blackberry, black currant), 90% cabernet sauvignon, 6% cabernet franc, rest is petit verdot, merlot, and malbec – which makes it a Bordeaux-styled wine. 13.5% ABV, aged 10 months in French and US oak (86% of total production) plus balance in stainless for freshness. And there's some mocha nuances for the millennials to pick out and go wild over. K-J makes a dozen different "Vintner's Reserve" red, white and rose wines. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
2.KACABA Rebecca Rose VQA Niagara Peninsula 2016 +227025 July 8 Vintages, $17.95: a nicely pale-coloured blend of both cabernet sauvignon (80%) and cabernet franc (20%), coming in at 12.8% ABV. Dry style red fruits: strawbs, red currant, cranberry (hey, it's Ontario]. Goes with just about everything. A nicely balanced rose which got high scores at the Wine Writer's Circle of Canada rose tasting in April. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
3.KACABA Jennifer's Pinot Gris VQA Niagara Peninsula 2016 winery only, $17.95: one of the "summer series" and also more Alsatian in its complexity with orchard fruit (pear, peach, apple) and no oaking. Medium weight and finishes dry, but can be used either a social drink or with first-course food. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
4.KACABA Susan's Sauvignon Blanc VQA Niagara Peninsula 2016 winery only, $17.95: another summer series wine, quaffable in its tropicality and lowered zestiness. Good mouthfeel, nice dry finish. It has Memories of Sauvignon Blanc, making it another social wine for the patio or with first-course food. 12.8% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
5.KACABA Meritage VQA Niagara Escarpment 2015 winery only, $24.95: the blend changes every year; here, it is cab franc 85%, cab sauvignon 8% and merlot 7%. Everything was vinified separately in older French and US oak for 9 months, and the final blend was determined, put into stainless, and then bottled. This is a value wine driven by both red and black fruit, still tannic. What I usually do is a double-decant, taste, and then leave it in sealed bottle for a week or so, with daily tastings. If you don't do this, then the wine will be ready in five years. 12.8% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
6.KACABA Cabernet/Syrah VQA Niagara Escarpment 2015 winery only, $29.95: this is a blend of cabernet franc (66%) and syrah (34%). At one time it was a blend of cabernet/merlot/syrah, but this changes every year depending on the grapes available and the harvest conditions. You'll get a whiff of anise and red fruit, and with the franc it is a bit savoury. Definitely a red meat wine. What I usually do is a double-decant, taste, and then leave it in sealed bottle for a week or so, with daily tastings. If you don't do this, then the wine will be ready in four years. 12.8% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
7.KACABA Reserve Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Escarpment 2015 winery only, $44.95: this is one of Kacaba's new Signature Series – its ultra-premium black label wine-line. Very reminiscent of Right Bank (St Emilion) cabs but without the stuffing of, say, Cheval Blanc. It is just as hard but durable at this young age. Currently it is mute until tasted later after aeration. What I usually do is a double-decant, taste, and then leave it in sealed bottle for a week or so, with daily tastings. If you don't do this, then the wine will be ready in six to ten years. Complex aromas begin to ascend and descend as the week rolls on. First some cherries. Mostly red, but later also black. Some vanilla smoke, spiciness, even coffee and chocolate (that'll please the millennials). Again, strong (aged or gamey) red meat is called for food pairing. 13.8% ABV (one degree higher than the other reds above). Quality/Price rating is 91 - 92 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
8.Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough, +489112, $18.95 LCBO General List: a dry summer led to a fruity harvest. The tropical fruit intensity leads to a citric lemony finish for food, typically white fish or seafood. It should be even better next year! 12.5% ABV, twist top. The Reserve version appeared in Vintages at three dollars more. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
9.Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses Rose 2016 Languedoc, +373985, $18.95 Vintages: out just in time for summer or graduation. 12.5% ABV, and fresh and fruity with an excellent pale rose colour. The bottle has a bottom shaped like a rose in bloom (to view it, turn the bottle onto its side). It is a blend of grenache, cinsault and syrah, emphasizing both red and black currants with some candy floss on the finish. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
10.Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir Gres de Montpellier Syrah Grenache 2014 Coteaux du Langurdoc, +493635, $18.95 Vintages June 10: 13.5% ABV, south Rhone style all the way. 80% of the wine is matured in French oak barrels for about a year, after a short post-fermentation maceration to enhance fruitness. Jammy, upfront black fruit and garrigue coupled with mocha nuances and the papery grenache quality. Sip or with food. One of the many Bertrand "Grand Terroir" series. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
11.Bottega PINOT GRIGIO ROSÉ IGT DELLE VENEZIE 2016, $14.95 +490938 Vintages [Veneto Pinot Grigio]: made from grapes that have been hanging on the vine longer than regular pinot grigio grapes, in order to increase the "grey" pigmentation, tannins and fruitiness. Because of this, the PG rose (a natural colour from the grapeskin) is much better than just about any PG from Italy. 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 87.5 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
12.Gusto Apricot Palinka "Mezes" with Honey and Dried Fruits (Johanna Kft, Hungary), +485466, $28.95 500 mL: showing 31% ABV. A nifty off-dry apricot eaux-de-vie with enhanced flavours. You don't see these too often at the LCBO. Made from orchard fruit grown in Kecskemet, Hungary, and put through a highly regulated and certified distillation system. The off-dry character comes from both the dried apricots (three of them floating in the bottle) and the local acacia honey. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
13.Chateau des Charmes Rose Cuvee d'Andree 2015 Estate Grown VQA NOTL, $15.95 Vintages +333260: this fresh and vibrant rose (named after Madame Andree Bosc) continues to please year over year as I have said before. It is still 100% pinot noir, dry "old style" as in Europe, but loaded with Ontario cranberry, red fruit strawberry, and some discreet black cherry tones from the hot summer, coming in at 12.6% ABV. Stainless steel fermentation of course, and twist top. Refreshing. Ontario Wine Awards Gold Winner for 2016. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
14.Chateau des Charmes Rose Sparkling Traditional Method 2014 NOTL VQA, +78055 Vintages, $32.95: half chardonnay and half pinot noir (blanc des noirs) from vines planted as early as 1991, very pretty colour (from PN dosage), reminiscent of strawberry blush, almost 2 years lees contact and fermented in the bottle. Full, rich, ripe yeasty biscuit complexity. Citric finish, best with food and appetizers. Recently disgorged. 12.5% ABV. Stunning. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
15.Grange of Prince Edward Estate Winery Almanac White Field Blend 2016 VQA Prince Edward County, +516575 LCBO, $19.30: this is the latest entry in the White Blend category at the LCBO, with its combo of chardonnay (60%), riesling (30%), and pinot gris (10%). The emphasis is on strong aromatics and freshness via stainless steel fermentation with no oaking. All the elements come from the Grange estate: the chardonnay was first planted in 2001, the riesling in 2007. It's a competitive blend, emphasizing orchard fruit and basic minerality in the finish. Can be sipped and/or with a first course. I found the cork closure unnecessary; a twist top should suffice for easy patio drinking. But I can see the production problems since the Red Blend has a cork also. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
16.Grange of Prince Edward Estate Winery Almanac Red Field Blend 2014 VQA Prince Edward County, +516567 LCBO, $19.30: this is the latest entry in the Red Blend category at the LCBO, with its combo of cabernet franc (60%), gamay noir (30%), and pinot noir (10%). It was macerated a month during primary, and then aged 18 months in neutral French barriques. The freshness comes through since none of the grapes create a "fruit bomb". Indeed, the style is distinctly Euro with cherries and berries and a sense of garrigue. Some tannins may still need to be tamed, so I'd be interested in re-tasting this wine a year from now. A long length also suggests that this might be a good food wine, beyond the patio apps. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.