Henry of Pelham Old Vines Baco Noir 2016 VQA Ontario, +459966, $19.95 LCBO General List: low yielding grapes come from 1984 and later plantings in the Short Hills Bench area. As with their previous baco noirs, HOP has maintained both the rich jammy black currant spicy character and the low price – under $20. Both new and older (one/two year old) US barrels are used for 14 months aging. It is still needs another year or two for proper aging, but with decanting it can be enjoyed now. 13% ABV. One of the top bacos at the LCBO. Works best with pronounced meats such as pork/boar, lamb, farmed or wild game – all either braised or grilled. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir 2016 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +13904 LCBO, $16.95: Here is a deft entry-level character pinot noir wine, with some cherry-berry tones, some nuances of wood, mildly opulent style, not totally cool climate at all. Fermented in stainless and aged in "European" oak (15% new). Expect also light cloves, fresh fruit tones, and oak vanillin which will mute over time. Ready now but will get better, very food friendly and drinkable. Maybe decant first. 13% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catharine Carte Blanche Estate Blanc de Blanc 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, +315200 Vintages TBD, $44.95: there is not much more to say about this wine than I haven't already said over the years – it's simply one of the top performing bottles of Traditional Method or secondary fermentation in the province. The price has not changed over the years, still $44.95, but the grapevines are older and producing quality material. This is estate grown (Short Hills Bench) chardonnay, the best juice selected for 20% barrel fermentation and then aged for up to 60 months in the bottle before being disgorged. Very close to champagne, with its elegance and smoothness plus citric overtones (especially in the finish) and that typical yeasty baked goods aromatics. 12.5% ABV, a personal fave of mine. Needs another six months for the disgorgement addition to come together. Gold Medal winner at 2017 All Canadian Wine Championships. Quality/Price rating is 93+ points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Henry of Pelham Estate Fume Sauvignon Blanc 2016 VQA Short Hills Bench, $19.95 winery only: very aromatic with nuances of toastiness both in the nose and on the palate, somewhat in a fume style started by Mondavi fifty years ago. Typical savvy zestiness is tamed by oaking. Medium finish accents lemon and vanillin character. 13.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89.5 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Quinta de Curvos Loureiro Vinho Verde 2015, +471284, $12.95 Vintages: 100% Loureiro, 12% ABV, with lightly floral tones on the nose and on the palate, ending with aromatic softness. Loureiro is one of the vinho verde varieties used in blending. Best sipped or with appetizers. A Vintages re-order just in time for summer endings. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Casa Vinicola Sartori Mont'Albano Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso Venezie IGT 2015, +492546, $16.95 Vintages: from organic vineyards in the Friuli-Graves DOC zone. The name indicates a red-stemmed refosco grape that is indigenous to the region. The wine is ruby-ish, assertive with herbaceous complexities, and goes best with food, especially fatty salami and sausages. Reminds me of a leaner cabernet franc. Organic wine, 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Baron de Hoen Cremant d'Alsace Brut Mausberg Blanc de Blancs NV, +171785 Vintages, $17.95: Limestone pebbles are responsible for the higher acid of the pinot auxerrois and pinot blanc grapes used in the blend here. Traditional Method is used, of course, without any ML. It is a pretty wine, with a bit of fruit, but is better as an aperitif or with first courses. My wife and I enjoyed this bottle with popcorn and a movie at home. It's sustainable agriculture in the region, and with a huge production of some 600,000 bottles (50K cases), there is an opportunity to keep the price down. This is a re-order by Vintages. 12.5% ABV, 3.8 g/L TA and 10 g/L RS. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
Chateau des Charmes Riesling "Old Vines" 2014 Estate Bottled VQA NOTL, at winery [+277228 older Vintages SKU], $18.95 Vintages: Made from vines largely planted in 1978, so it is now a mature vineyard. 12.4% ABV. Succulence like you would not believe, but off-dry Alsatian character (citric tones, spices), with now almost three years of aging. A beaut with spicy or higher acidic foods. Lots of character. Twist top. Silver Medal from this year's National Wine Awards of Canada. Quality/price rating 91 points by Dean Tudor.
Chateau des Charmes Aligote 2016 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, $15.95, +296848 LCBO: made from the rare French vinifera (seldom seen outside Burgundy) that Paul Bosc has cultivated since 1978, loaded with orchard fruit (apples and pears) and ending with a finishing crisp acidity suggesting food more than sipping. It was often used in Burgundy as the white wine base for Kir; now, almost any dry white is used in North America. It's refreshing for summer, and is unoaked. 12.5% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
La Crema Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2015 +962886 Vintages, $29.95: La Crema winemakers get a fairly consistent wine from year to year, with bottle aging being the main difference. Cool climate (as much as California could allow) from the coast in the evening and the early morning. Expect a combo of lemons, toast and orchard fruit tones, with a smooth finish from secondary malolactic fermentation. One of my really fave California chardonnays: balanced concentration. Mostly French oak with some US; 19% of the total is new oak. 13.9% ABV (label). Excellent price. Better paired with food, from starters and apps through to cheese. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.